What’s In A Party Name?

I’ve written about it a slew of times; I grew up in a Democrat household.  I became a conservative in college (perhaps the only person in recent western civilization to have been converted to conservatism by an English professor).  I left the GOP in 1995, disgusted by the GOP caving in on the 1994 Cxrime Bill and other Clinton-era fripperies. I became a big-L LIbertarian.

I stayed in the party for four years.  I left because I realized that while the LIbertarian Party believed in an absolutely purest form of what I believed in, I also figured out that if what I believed in fell in a forest and an infinitesmal minority heard it, it’d never matter.

So I went back to the GOP.  I figured I’d sully my pristine principles a little, and have a shot at getting the rest of my principles – as many as possible –  at least a hypotehtical shot of getting passed into law.  I would do my little bit to fight for the conservative, Reaganesque soul of the GOP.   I was one of the little group of libertarian-conservatives, fiscalcons and other conservatives tthat were .

I didn’t get everything I wanted.  But I – we – got a lot; a GOP that fumigated itself of the miasma of Arne Carlson, fought for limiting the size of government and, to an extent that Minnesota had not seen in decades, succeeded; we inviegled Tim Pawlenty to move to the right to stave off a spirited challenge from oour guy, Brian Sullivan; we exacted a No New Taxes pledge from Pawlenty, and largely got him to stick to it, even when he was outnumbered two chambers to zero.

Not a bad decade, all in all.  Perfect?  No – but way better than it would have been otherwise.

The Minnesota GOP is in the middle of…well,l not an “epic battle for its soul”, really.  A tug of war, really – between the people who’ve been running the party since about 2002, whoever they are, and the “Ron Paul crowd”.  It’s a tug of war with some fairly exposed emotions; in 2008, many “establishment” Republicans fought very hard to exclude the Paul contingent from the conventions, from BPOU level all the way up to the state convo.  And on their site, not a few Paul supporters (sometimes called, with varying degrees of affection, “Paulbots” due to the personality cult-like attitude of some Paul supporters, including some pretty notable ones) advanced some ideas that traditional conservatives found anathemic; Libertarians are a lot more “live and let live” on social issues like abortion and gay marriage than traditional conservatives.  There was bound to be some conflict – and there was.

The Paul crowd has bounced back this year and made a huge impact on the MNGOP, taking most of the delegate and many of the executive seats in the Congressional District conventions.  And it’s causing all sorts of people to ask questions.

One of them is “Average Andy”, a guy I met on Twitter, a tweep and blogger with a background not too far different than mine, at least up until 1998ish or so.  Andy, asks:

I have a serious question for my Republican friends… I have been given the riot act from countless Republicans about my views on Presidential candidates. I’ve been told that I MUST vote Republican for a whole host of reasons. I may not like the candidate, but the Democrat will always be worse. I’ve never been much of a pragmatist in elections, and these conversations drive me as crazy as my vote drives these Republicans crazy, if not more.

On the one hand – by all means vote your conscience.

On the other hand, that’s one of the problems that many of the Republilcan activists are genuinely, and legitimately, upset about; the idea the that party many of us worked very, very hard for is being taken over, for now, by people who will – as Andy admits he himself did – vote for a third party candidate if “his” Republican doesn’t get nominated, and who can say “there’s no difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama” with a straight face,

It’s just not true.  Romney is a northeastern conservative, which means he’s pro-business, pro-law-and-order, and more comfortable with big governnment than a lot of us Western Conservatives.  And the knock-down drag-primary has helped push him to the right, to surmount the challenges from more conservative candidates, and to try to win over people who really wanted Santorum, Gingrich, Cain, Perry – even Ron Paul.

That’s all to the good.

Now – not a few Paul supporters (and yes, Santorum and Gingrich supporters, all of whom should know better) have claimed they’ll sit out the presidential election (or vote for some fringe-right third-party, which is the same thing), if not the whole race.  They think – wrongly – that a Romney administration will be the same as an Obama one.

More on that later.

But Andy – who avers that he followed up his support for Paul in the 2008 race by voting Constitution Party – does in fact show the flip side of that coin.

Despite the way my fellow Ron Paul supporters were treated in 2008, I repeated the process in 2010 in order to be a part of selecting a candidate for Governor. I didn’t know the candidates well, as I tend not to follow state politics nearly as closely as I follow national politics. However, I had made a lot of connections two years prior in the process and befriended a lot of people who were out in 2008 to support Ron Paul…To a man, they were all behind Tom Emmer, and I threw my support behind Emmer. Despite the fact that he lost, I have no regrets.

And the fact is that for all of the concern about among traditional Republicans that Paul supporters were single-candidate one-trick ponies, many of the mainstays of the Emmer campaign, and many people who have and are invaluable to the GOP today, are people who came to party politics in 2008 via Paul, and 2009 via the Tea Party.

2012 rolled around and I got into the mix again. I was unhappy with my experience four years prior, and was tempted to forget the whole thing, but ultimately decided to give my fellow Republicans another shot. I had made many connections in 2008, and met a lot of people. Most of which were friendly toward me and seemed happy to have me in the process. However, when my support for Ron Paul would come up in conversation, defensive walls would immediately go up. There were, and are, strong stereotypes of Ron Paul supporters, many of which are unfair – based on a very small minority of fellow Paul supporters.

Andy’s right – see my previous graf – and also a bit dismissive of some of the concerns some of the “establishment” have.

An awful lot of Paul supporters don’t thnk there’s a significant difference between “establishment” Republicans and Democrats.

Not a few fairly significant Paul supporters in the MNGOP also advance some views that “regular” Republicans find noxious; I’ve run into Holocaust deniers and some fairly noxious anti-Semites.  Of course they’re not the majority of the movement – but there are enough of them, and they are prominent enough, that it gets people a little standoffish.

A few significant Paul supporters – one in particular – have been carrying out witch hunts attacking Republicans they don’t consider acceptably and unquestioningly adoring enough  of Ron Paul and every single point of his platform.  OK, them I can handle myself – but you might wanna have a word with ’em.  Because there are a lot of you – but not enough to win any offices by yourself.

More commonly?   Many who’ve been involved with the party have tallked with many in the current wave of Paul supporters at the BPOU level, and found many – by no means all – of them to be focused almost exclusively on the Presidential election.  Which is fine – it’s important, and it’s one of the things you do when you’re involved in the party endorsement process.  But we’ve noticed less interest and concern in the activities that are the blocking and tackling of Congressional District politics – getting Republicans elected to Congress – to say nothing of the BPOU level (doing the door-knocking and phone-calling and grunt work that gets State Legislators and Senators elected).  It’s why I wrote my “Open Letter To Ron Paul supporters in CD4” a few weeks back; on the off chance that Ron Paul doesn’t get the nomination, it’d be great to see that wave of enthusiasm turn out to support whomever gets nominated to run for Senate, for Congress, and for the State Legislature – by doing what a political party does, even if one doesn’t have absolute control over it.  By supporting people that you don’t agree with 1000%, based on the ideal that someone you agree with 70% of the time is not your 30% enemy, but your 70% ally.

The reaction to that post, by the way, was just about the most interesting of any post I’ve ever written.  I got a lot of compliments – from traditional Republicans and not a few Paul supporters – and a little bit of hate mail as well.

Some Paul supporters objected to my use of the word “Paulbot”.  Enh.  I didn’t invent the term.  There was no offense intended, but life’s tough, and politics ain’t beanbag, and wear a freaking helmet.  The Dems will call you much, much worse (once they stop seeing you as wedges to undercut the GOP, like their revenge for that whole “Green Party” thing, anyway).

Others took offense that I’d presume they won’t turn out to help downticket races.  Well, good.  The whole article was a challenge.  I’d be more than happy to have the entire inference disproved in spades.  I’ll apologize, in public and on the air, at Tony Hernandez’ victory party.  Or Carlos Conway’s.  Hell, both.

To put it more bluntly; I’ll look forward to seeing the “establishment’s” conventional wisdom about the Paul contingent proven wrong.  Indeed, I’ll do my level best to help them do it.

If you, GOPer, want me to go back to staying out of your way, and voting Constitution Party for President, I will be happy to do so. If you want me to stay involved in the process, and put in the work to make my voice heard in 2014 when we’re looking for a candidate to unseat Mark Dayton, I will be happy to do so. What I am not happy to do is to get involved, but echo your voice. If my role in the GOP is to be a yes-man, check in with you on which candidates to support and what work to do for your precious party, count me out!

Excellent!  And given that Paul supporters have taken wide control of much of the BPOU and CD apparatus around the state, you’re probably in a good position to call some of those shots.  But be that as it may, I’m more than willing to hash out the differences face to face, rather than through parliamentary skullduggery (which I opposed, then and now).

In return?  Please stop pretending that any candidate that isn’t 100% yours is in no way different from the evil we’re all hypothetically fighting against – at least not without showing how that’s true, and being open to the idea that it’s to some degree or another false.  There are a lot of us in the GOP are small-l libertarians who don’t care for Ron Paul, but have high hopes for his son.  Have some respect for the good work that came before you – because plenty did, in fact, come before you.

And learn to get along with some cognitive dissonance.  When I came back to the GOP as a libertarian conservative, I ran into not a few single-issue pro-life voters who coudln’t understand why I wanted to pass concealed carry reform or stop subsidizing stadiums.  They took convincing.  They, in turn, and to work to convince me on a few things.  Everyone learned.


The GOP – especially in the 4th and 5th CDs – needs a ton of help; having the Paul contingent turn some of that energy toward winning that race would bury a lot of hatchets.

How’s That?

Erik Black at the MinnPost writes about the “framing” of the current Presidential campaign.

But it was his framing of the past that caughtmy attention:

…Reagan framed his 1976 challenge to incumbent Jimmy Carter around the question “are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

Perhaps we’ll hear about Carter’s Chistmas bomging of Hanoi next…

No Real Reason

On the one hand, Democrats – and their out-house PR flak firms like “Common Cause” – whinge about “the corrosive power of money in politics.”.

On the other hand, they celebrate it when they have lots of it.

The MinnPost has the current money situations for the all the Congressional canddiates.  And the same Democrats who insist that money is a baaaad thing when Tom Emmer has it are doing cartwheels of joy that…:

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Democrat: Raised: $983,000 [in the wuarter just past]. On Hand: $5.2 million.

Pete Hegseth, Republican: Raised: $160,000 (since March 1). On Hand: $130,000.

Dan Severson, Republican: Raised: $54,000. On Hand: $40,300.

Kurt Bills, Republican: Raised: $45,500 (since mid-March). On Hand: $34,000.

And there’ws a nice little bit of Democrat hypocrisy; homegrown corporations like Target and Best Buy is “bad”, while getting millions from Holllywood plutocras and scions of the Rockefeller family.

Klobuchar has raised in the neighborhood of $1 million each quarter since the beginning of last year and has assembled a war chest that dwarfs her opponents. By most counts, Klobuchar is popular among voters and seen as a safe incumbent come November, and the fundraising advantage she has over her would-be challengers is going to be a tough for the eventual Republican candidate to overcome.

As, no doubt, they will continually remind the voter.  Because given Klobuchar’s nonexistent legislative reocrd and her incumbency, the only qualifications Klobuchar actually has is her purported likeability and “inevitability”.

It’s even worse in the sections on the 4th and 5th Congressional Districts.  The only reasons to vote for Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum, if you leave out pure unthinking party affiliation, are racism and sexism tthe fact they are already there.

It’d be nice to think we could do better…

Not Necessarily The News

Joe from Red Squirrel Report has the story that, fictional though it is…:

MTV President Van Toffler announced today that Secretary General Hillary Clinton will host Music Television’s Spring Break coverage in Daytona Beach next year.

…does seem to ably capture The One’s administration’s self-adoring, entitled id pretty well nonetheless.

Potential For Disaster

I’m a language geek.

So it’s not a mystery why I flocked to this story.  Sperm whales communicate via a series of morse code-like clicking sounds.

And those sounds apparently have dialect differences and, according to researchers,

Differences in the patterned clicks that sperm whales use to communicate with each other seem to be down to culture and not genetics, say researchers.

The finding could influence conservation efforts; instead of focussing solely on where the animals live, protection should also consider which dialect they use.

In other words, conservation efforts – say some of the researchers – should focus on cultural differences between the groups of whales.

Let’s hope it doesn’t turn into full-blown multiculturalism


The media is all abuzz over Ted Nugent’s  rather inflammatory commentary at the NRA convention.

I was struck my Andrea Mitchell’s comments on the Today show this morning – every line of the story included a carefully-enunchated to Nugent being a “Mitt ROMney supporter…”

I guess it’s a good thing that I can still be amazed by anything; after my decades of pointing out the bias and perfidy of the mainstream media, it’s probably a good thing I can still be this outraged.

Dear mainstream media (and idiot leftybloggers); if I say I “support” Mark Dayton, and then go rob a bank, it doesn’t make Mark Dayton complicit in the crime.

Further proof that the Democrats’ main constituency is the stupid.

The New Victorians

Remember when it was the conservatives who were the prudes who walked around like they had a poker up their nether regions?

Either do Wisconsin Democrats:

(WASHINGTON EXAMINER) Even as the Democratic National Committee profits from the “Republican war on women” meme, liberals opposing Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., have decided to attack the governor by targeting a woman in his campaign on the basis of her history of “unnatural sexiness”

That’s right – a woman who once worked as a Hooters’ waitress is their latest target:

Ciara Matthews, Walker’s communications director, is under fire for being both pro-life and a former Hooters restaurant waitress. “Profitting (sic) from selling a plasticized form of unnatural sexiness designed to arouse men while simultaneously believing that women should be forced to face the ‘consequences’ of actually giving into to their sexual desires is a pretty backward way of thinking,” the Jezebel’s Erin Gloria Ryan suggested, while apparently trying to embarrass Matthews by posting a “hilarious” photo of her wearing a Hooters uniform. (Curiously, Ryan also said that Matthews’ “shouldn’t be faulted” for working at Hooters.)

So here’s the scroe card; the Democrats are all for women – provided they’re the right women.

Which means “not breaking any kind of liberal orthodoxy”.

Then, they hate you.

But this is not just about Governor Walker’s communications staffer.  This is about Democrats realizing that women who have kids and work for a living are deserting Obama.  Not just women, mind you – Obama is polling badly among working-class whites in general:

Nationally, Obama lost the white working-class vote by 18 points. But in the 2010 midterm elections, congressional Democrats saw a 30-point deficit among the same group and lost control of the House.

“While the first number is a figure Obama could live with repeating, the second could very well prove fatal,” Teixeira wrote in the New Republic.

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll showed Obama improving his standing among key constituencies except whites with annual household incomes under $50,000. His numbers were stuck at 40 percent favorable, 56 percent unfavorable.

“When he first started, I was hoping he’d keep to what he said he would do. But he didn’t,” said Zach Ritchie, 26, of Johnstown, who said he’ll vote Republican out of protest.

The headwinds facing Obama are a reminder that signs of an economic comeback belie the setbacks the recession has dealt many Americans. Towns across western Pennsylvania, a critical area in a critical state for Obama, remain depressed. Ritchie said work building greenhouses in West Virginia dried up four years ago, and he has not been able to find work in his hometown.


The media will obscure this as hard as they can – but the way this election is shaping up is that the only reason to vote for Obama is racicm or upper-middle-class, white-libeeral-built-plagued classism.

February’s News In April

People – including Governor Dayton – are asking questions about URS Engineering of San Francisco.  The firm is one of two under consideration as preliminary engineers of record for the proposed Southwest Light Rail line.

MPR’s Jess Mador did an excellent – and fairly balanced – story on the subject this morning.

Which covered a topic that first appeared on Shot In The Dark two months ago.

Mador’s piece notes that URS wasn’t directly responsible for the collapse of the 35W Bridge – although they paid out over $50 million in settlements – and they are well-regarded in the civil engineering business.

But Mador also quotes MN GOP Representative MIke Beard, who cuts to the actual chase regarding the project on which URS is bidding to work:

Michael Beard, R-Shakopee, who chairs the House Transportation Committee, said he’s less worried about URS than he is about the cost of building more light rail.

“I’m more concerned with the whole thing that the Met Council is even moving ahead with this multi-billion dollar project without identifying how we are going to pay for the subsidies to keep it operating once we build it,” Beard said.

We discussed this months ago (Part One and Part Two), as well; our proposed three rail lines will be a perpetual money pit.

Don’t Cry For Me, David Cameron

Remember thirty years ago, when Ronald Reagan stood up for our British allies when their sovereign territory was seized (as part of the Argentinian military dictatorship’s diversion from the woeful economy) by force?  How Reagan backed the Brits and Prime Minister Thatcher’s stance that getting foreign policy wishes granted by force was wrong and must not be rewarded by acquiescence?

Barack Obama sure doesn’t:

Only a month after lavishly praising U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, President Barack Obama ditched him at a press conference in Colombia.

Obama’s turnabout came April 15 when he was asked about Argentina’s demand for control of the Falkland Islands, which are home to roughly 3,000 British citizens. The islands are located in the South Atlantic some 300 miles from Argentina.

“Our position on this is that we are going to remain neutral… this is not something that we typically intervene in,” Obama replied to the question.

It’s not an idle question.  The Argentines, addled with a left-leaning government that’s losing control of their economy, needs to whip up some nationalist fervor in lieu of bread and circuses.  The Falklands – Malvinas, to them – make a handy bit of jingo to toss about.

Oh, yeah – remember back in 2000-2008, when Presidents bobbling geography was a threat to democracy?

Obama also mislabeled the islands as “The Maldives,” partly because Argentina’s government says the Falkland Islands should be called the “Malvinas” islands.

In fact, the Maldive Islands are in the Indian ocean, not in the South Atlantic. They are some 8,200 miles from the Falklands.

He’s a former law professor, doncha know.

Obama’s neutral stance contrasts with his fulsome praise for Cameron and the U.K. during Cameron’s state visit March 14.

“For decades, our troops have stood together on the battlefield… So, David, thank you, as always, for being such an outstanding ally, partner and friend,” Obama declared.

“As I said this morning, because of our efforts, our alliance is as strong as it has ever been,” he added.

The islands have been populated by British citizens since 1833. In April 1982, an Argentinian invasion force occupied the islands, but was ejected by a British fleet that sailed 7,800 miles from the U.K.

The Falklands are now increasingly valuable because the surrounding seabed is expected to contain oil and natural-gas reserves.

In March, Argentinian foreign minister Hector Timerman slammed the U.K.’s plans for oil exploration. Without approval from Argentina, any drilling would be illegal and would prompt civil and criminal charges, he declared.

“The South Atlantic’s oil and gas are property of the Argentine people,” he claimed.

However, Obama’s familiarity with the three-decade-old dispute is unclear.

Neither Cameron nor Obama acknowledged discussing the Argentinian claim during the March state visit.

Also, Obama said the United States “typically” does not intervene in the territorial dispute.

However, the U.S. provided critical aid to the 1982 British naval campaign that defeated the Argentinian invasion force. The aid, approved by President Ronald Reagan, included spy-satellite data and advanced heat-seeking missiles that were used to shoot down Argentina’s anti-ship bombers.

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/04/16/obama-throws-u-k-s-cameron-under-the-bus-over-falklands/#ixzz1sEGp5VtH

Play Misty For Me, Part III: Static

Yesterday, we talked about the complaint filed with the FCC by Dr. Bill Gleason, world-class researcher, and The Late Debate, a talk show at plucky little FM station “Hope 95.9” in Ramsey hosted by Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse, and about why the complaint was of no merit.

I’m predicting that the complaint gets ignored and politely rejected, sooner than later, because nothing in the complaint involved any are over which the FCC has jurisdiction.  The complaint spoke of…:

  • “Untruthful statements” – While Gleason never specified in his complaint what the “untruthful statements” were – opting to leave it to the FCC staff to cull through a blog post that looks not a little bit like a ransom note to find them, whatever they were – the fact is that even if Tomczak said something that’s untrue, defamatory and malicious, that’s the province of civil court.  Not the FCC.  And it’s a demonstrable fact that Bill Gleason – for all of his well-documented talent as one of the world’s leading researchers – is a bully.
  • “Harassment” – Actual harassment is something to take up with the local police.  While broadcasts can harass people, that refers to using the broadcast airwaves to try to systematically mess with people – not merely talk about an attempt at an ambush interview (which is, like it or not, protected constitutional speech,  provided that there is no physical threat involved – and even that is the job of the police, if there is any genuine worry).

If I were a betting man – and I’m not – I’d bet money that this complaint will be politely but completely rejected in a few weeks.

Of course, the general manager of a radio station is not paid to be a betting man.  A GM’s main job, before all of that “get ratings’ and “turn a huge profit” thing, is to protect the station’s FCC broadcast license, which is the station’s reason to exist.

And when the subject of “FCC complaints” comes up, General Managers get justifiably skittish.  And the management at Hope 95.9 reportedly are being skittish.  They’re not (I’m going to guess) big-market talk-radio management, with lots of experience at dealing with everyone from crazies to well-organized special interest groups leaning on them over every stance every host takes.  They run a little Christian station in the north ‘burbs.  I know nothing about them, but they remind me of the management I grew up working for in North Dakota – very sensitive to any feedback they got from the community.  Anyway – they’re reportedly leaning toward telling Tomczak and Kruse to apologize to Gleason.

This is a mistake.

It’s imperative that broadcasters follow the rules.  But nothing in Gleason’s complaint referenced anything that the FCC has jurisdiction over.   And while every married guy in the world knows that apologizing for things you didn’t do is common sense in a marriage, it makes less sense for a broadcaster; it devalues the rules and the process for enforcing them.  It means every bully who doesn’t like being portrayed as a bully will get it in their heads to scamper off to the FCC when someone stands up to them and puts the story on the air, on the flimsiest and most facile of pretexts.

Which is what Gleason is doing.

If it were my station – and it’s not, and I have no financial skin in the game, so my opinion is worth exactly what you’re paying for it – my response would be something along the lines of…

Dear Dr. Gleason,

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.  While we realize that you may have been offended by our broadcasters’ remarks about you, nothing in the broadcast violated any FCC rules.

If you feel you’ve been harassed, you need to contact the police.

If you feel you’ve been defamed, you need to contact a lawyer.

If you are offended by Mr. Tomczak’s portrayal of you (leaving accuracy aside for the moment), or the language he used in his Twitter exchange, you need to take that up with Twitter, and with Mr. Tomczak directly.

While we do not seek to gratuitously offend any listener, you have complained of nothing for which this station or Mr. Tomczak are legally liable to the FCC.  Therefore, while we regret any perceived offense, we must decline your request for an apology from station management.  As none of your grievances with Messrs. Tomczak and Kruse relate to FCC offenses, we will not be directing them to apologize to you.

I thank you for being a loyal listener.

Mitch Berg

Hypothetical General Manager

Again, it’s not my license.  But if management is considering knuckling under to Gleason’s spurious complaint, I hope they reconsider.

If you’re a Late Debate fan, it might not hurt to give the station a polite, to the point call to support ’em.

Play Misty For Me, Part II: No There There

Earlier today, we took a first glance at the complaint filed with the FCC by professor William B. Gleason (an associate professor in chemistry at the U of M Medical School) against “Hope 95.9FM”, a little low-power FM station in Ramsey, in the north ‘burbs (with a couple of AM signals serving Saint Cloud) which is the home of The Late Debate, with Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse.

You can read the text of the complaint in this morning’s post, or at Dr. Gleason’s blog, (which I hasten to point out has never been described as “something that the FBI Behavioral Unit could use as a case study in odd-looking”; you be the judge), because, lest you missed it this morning, Dr. Gleason is an elite researcher at the very tip-top of his field, at the very bleeding edge of research into saving lives, who barely manages to squeedge in time to blog and write dozens of Twitter tweets a day during breaks in his lab schedule (under his own name and a carefully-honed pseudonym).

Let’s walk through the complaint, point by point:

  There are actually three radio stations involved.

They are 1150 and 1300 AM in St. Cloud as well as 95.9 FM in “North Metro”

So far, so good.

Mr. Jack Tomczak harassed and threatened me prior to this show as is documented in the following post:

link to post – click her [sic]

The Twitter exchange in question – starting last Tuesday, May 10 – bounced back and forth between the two.  You can read the conversation here, on Tomczak’s Twitter Feed (starting, essentially, with this post), or here on Gleason’s.  Name-calling ensued.

And as a result of the name-calling – Tomczak felt Gleason bagged on stay-at-home dads, and took umbrage – he decided to go, last Wednesday, to visit Gleason at the University of Minnesota.

Now – is that harassment?

Well, if it’s in a public place, and Tomczak doesn’t break any laws to get there, or when he’s actually there, and doesn’t do anything to warrant anyone telling him he’s a trespasser (or leaves without making a ruckus if someone does call him a trespasser, and goes through channels to deal with that), then he’s no different than any leftyblogger who, say, brings a camera down to the State Office Building to try to catch state legislators (as “Spotty” from Cucking Stool is apparently wont to do), or what Channel Five does when they want to catch, say, loafing public works workers.

Of course, Channel Five doesn’t phrase their requests for interviews with terms like “asshole“.  Which was Tomczak’s sole mistake.  But, I hasten to add, that took place on Twitter – a place where the FCC has no jurisdiction.

Still – does that sound threatening?  Tomczak noted that he would “bring my 8 month that you think I’m wasting my time with.”

So Tomczak wasn’t doing anything wrong – and even if he was, “Harassment” that doesn’t happen on the air is not the FCC’s jurisdiction.  If Bill Gleason felt “harassed”, going to the FCC is of no more use than going to KARE-TV’s Ron Schara for a “Minnesota Bound” segment.

Harassment is law-enforcement’s ‘job.

Also available at this location is a clip of the objectionable material broadcast. Many of the things that Mr. Tomczak says are untrue as is evident from his twitter feed.

Many of the things said are wrong and he had a responsibility to check them out before making these outrageous claims.

It’s hard to know what Gleason meant by this – which, given the frenetic pace of research and publication that a U of M Medical School chemistry professor keeps, is probably understandable.  Go ahead and read the whole exchange – on Tomczak’s twitter feed, or Gleason’s version of it – and find something that’s “untrue”.  There was the sarcastic reference to checking for alcohol on Gleason’s breath at 2PM – which wasn’t really an “untrue claim” as it was a bit of sarcasm.

Here’s an example to help you sort things out:  if someone, for example, states as a mater of fact that you have a conviction for driving while intoxicated on your record, and you don’t?  That’s an untrue claim!

And if someone makes that claim based on information he got from a source that even a five-year-old knows is bogus – say, a spam advertising site – and then blusters about it?  Then that someone is failing in his responsibility to check his facts. And that is defamation, and while it’s very difficult to prove in court, it’s legally actionable.

But what if Tomczak really did say something untrue about Gleason? Something untrue that might damage the reputation and livelihood of a professor at the absolute bleeding edge of his field?   What if, as Gleason says in his complaint…:

This is a public use of the air waves to make counter-factual statements for the purpose of harassing someone.

This complaint falls within the FCCs purview of fairness.

Well, no.

The FCC’s website itself tells you that their complaint process deals with…:

  • Obscene or indecent programs – saying the seven words you can’t say, or showing the four body parts you can’t show, basically.
  • Unlawful or illegal advertising – there are things you are not allowed to advertise.
  • Disability access
  • Emergency alerts
  • Unauthorized/unfair/biased/illegal broadcasts – this seems to be the issue,, here…
  • Cable modem or signal issues
  • DTV issues

So what does the FCC mean by “Unauthorized/unfair/biased/illegal broadcasts”?

  • Illegal or bribed advertising on a public broadcasting station (e.g. advertising alcohol during certain hours)
  • Biased or distorted news stories by the media.  Maybe this is what Gleason is alleging – but if so, the content on the blog post that is his sole “evidence” gives us nothing to go by.
  • Unauthorized broadcast of telephone conversations – and by that, they mean conversation, with an actual person.  I ran afoul this one in 1986 when I worked for Don Vogel.  We busted another local radio station plagiarizing our material.  We called their control room on the air.  We – Don, Dave Elvin and I – didn’t know about FCC regulation 73.1206, which bars broadcasting telephone conversations where the recipient doesn’t know they’re on the air.  The stations’ lawyers huddled, and decided that if they had a 73.1206 complaint, we had a plagiarism complaint.  The lawyers decided we had offsetting penalties, and to let it all go.  Whew.  Oh, and it doesn’t include answering machines, I found out; answering machines can’t give permission, and have no knowledge.  Which is a long tangent indeed, for something that wasn’t in Gleason’s complaint.  I beg your indulgence.
  • Broadcasting threatening or intimidating statements about an individual or group – The word “Broadcasting” is rather important there.  We’ll come back to that below.
  • Announcement of Station ID or Call Sign – That means “they went more than three hours without broadcasting their station ID (“WWTC, Minneapolis/Saint Paul”, in my station’s case; that’s why you hear that at the top of every hour on every radio station in the business – because it’s the law).
  • Unfair contests, hoaxes, lotteries – lotteries are illegal.  So are hoaxes like “the dam burst, everybody run for shelter”, which some DJ at a station in Valley City North Dakota did in the seventies.  Once.  At the very end of his short career.
  • Unlicensed broadcasters – “pirate radio”.

So Gleason is complaining that Tomczak’s statements were untrue; other than the sarcastic jab about “alcohol at 2PM”, it’s hard to see what was untrue and, here’s the kicker, that was on the air.

Does it relate to “harassment”?  Not sure if Gleason is alleging that “people talking about him in the air” is “harassment”; I suspect it’s the unplanned visit at the office.  But the office is a public facility; Tomczak reportedly walked freely to Gleason’s office door.  Gleason can’t willy-nilly bar people from the office during his endless grueling work hours for no reason, even if he’s armed…with a baby.

All of this happened – I’ll emphasize this – off the air.  If Gleason feels threatened or harassed, the U of M Police are the agency with jurisdiction.

If Gleason feels he was defamed, then the civil court system is the place to bring a defamation suit.

If it didn’t happen over the airwaves and didn’t break an FCC regulation regarding content or behavior on the air, then it’s really not the FCC’s department.

To paraphrase the late Johnny Cochrane, “If it’s not on the air, the FCC doesn’t care“. 

My prediction – as someone who’s spent sixteen years doing one form of radio or another since 1979, at eight different radio stations, and is from a generation of radio people who had to learn the laws and rules to get on the air in the first place?  The FCC will look at this complaint, notice that there is nothing in it that is their jurisdiction, and send Mr. Gleason a polite demurral in a few weeks.

But the problem here isn’t Professor William Gleason.

More on that tomorrow.

Play Misty For Me, Part I: Dead Error

Everyone who’s ever worked in radio, especially talk radio, over the past 35 years has had three major pop-culture touchstones.

From the classic “WKRP in Cincinnati”, a young radio guy learns that Loni Anderson truly is unattainable – and that for every Gary Sandy, there are dozens of Herb Tarleks and Less Nessmans.  Nessmen.  Whatever.  And that turkeys can’t fly (see:  AM950).

More seriously?  From Play Misty For Me starring and directed by Clint Eastwood, you learn that interacting with your audience can be a mighty dicey proposition.

(And of course, from Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio you learn that you’re only as safe as your least stable audience member.  Apropos not much).

I’m writing this purely as an aside.  Just for information’s sake.



Speaking of radio, Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse, hosts of “The Late Debate“, which airs from 10PM to midnight Sunday through Thursday on a three-station cluster in Anoka and Saint Cloud, celebrated the one-year anniversary of their show last weekend.   It’s a conservative talk show that specializes in the six-way cattle-call panel discussions.  And, improbably (according to radio conventional wisdom), they make it work.  It’s a fun show.  Here’s hoping they celebrate many more.

And they celebrated their first year on the air with that greatest of radio traditions – a dust-up with a listener “filing an FCC complaint”.

And on the other side, you have Dr. William B. Gleason, a chemistry professor at the University of Minnesota Medical School.  Gleason is known far and wide for the frenetic pace and prolific output of his research work, the frequency and importance of his academic publications, his almost-suffocating work ethic, and the deep respect his fellow chemists have for him.  It would be fair to say that he’s a rising star among the U of M’s tenured professors – perhaps one of the most valuable professors at the U of M Medical School, a giant on whose shoulders other giants stand, and one of the U of M Med school’s genuine treasures.   [1]

And he doesn’t write a blog that bears a striking resemblance to one of those ransom notes pasted together from letters clipped out of magazines.  [1].

Now, when Doctor Gleason’s not keeping up his frenetic pace at research, he tweets a bit – under his name and another sock-puppet ID.  It is.  And his left-of-center politics occasionally lead him into conflict with conservatives.

That’s what happened last week on The Late Debate.

What happened?

Well, we’ll get back to that.

In the keen, razor-sharp analytical mind of Dr. William B. Gleason, the version of what happened resolved itself into a complaint to the Federal Communications Commission…

…which isn’t quite as big a deal as it used to be; you can do it yourself, online,  If you feel like AM1280 The Patriot is beaming microwaves into your house to try to control your brain, the FCC has a site to collect the complaint.

And here’s the one Gleason filed.

There are actually three radio stations involved.

They are 1150 and 1300 AM in St. Cloud as well as 95.9 FM in “North Metro”

The web address of the show in question is:

link to site – click here

Mr. Jack Tomczak harassed and threatened me prior to this show as is documented in the following post:

link to post – click her [sic]

Also available at this location is a clip of the objectionable material broadcast. Many of the things that Mr. Tomczak says are untrue as is evident from his twitter feed. Many of the things said are wrong and he had a responsibility to check them out before making these outrageous claims.

This is a public use of the air waves to make counter-factual statements for the purpose of harassing someone. This complaint falls within the FCCs purview of fairness.

I request an apology for this broadcast made by station owners as well as disciplinary action by them for Mr. Tomczak’s behavior.

I have been in contact with the management of the station(s) on which the Late Debate is broadcast. They have been thoroughly professional in handling this matter. Yesterday there were three lengthy telephone conversations as well as exchanges of email.

I have made suggestions about how to resolve this matter. My understanding is that Mr. Tomczak will be making an apology. I am hopeful that the matter can be rectified. If so, I will withdraw my complaint.

Lawyer friends – place your rhetorical and legal bets!

Now, one hesitates to get into an argument with a giant of science like Gleason, a man of such airtight, impeccable logic and cool, calculated reason (as exhibited here and here during his few dozen daily breaks from his grueling schedule as a world-class research academic).

But, improbable as it seems, Professor Gleason’s FCC complaint is a lot of ado about nothing.  And in the next installment of this series, at noon today, we’ll show exactly how,

But more importantly – and worse?  FM 95.9 would be wrong to “apologize” to Gleason because of it.

More at noon.

Continue reading

Because He Can’t Blame George W. Bush

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel took over a city that was in a morass of gang violence.

It’s only gotten worse.

Now, when Democrats inherit tough situations, they blame the problems on their Republican predecessors.  But there hasn’t been a Republican mayor of Chicago since the Blackfoot tribe ran the place.

So he’s doing the next best thing; blaming former Mayor “Stick This Gun Up Your Butt” Daley:

Mayor Rahm Emanuel went on the defensive Thursday about a surge of recent homicides in Chicago and questioned why new law enforcement tactics hadn’t been created before he was elected 10 months ago.

“You can say, ‘Are you doing it right,'” Emanuel said, “but the question is, ‘Why were those policies not done before?'”

Between the start of 2012 and April 1, Chicago Police recorded 120 homicides, a 60 percent spike over the 75 murders during the same period in 2010 and 2011.

And let’s not forget – even that rate was catastrophically high.

So far, the only response has been to disarm the law-abiding public even more.

Gotta Keep Cool Now, Gotta Take Care

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network brings you the best in Minnesota conservatism – as we finish eight years as the Twin Cities media’s sole source of honesty!

  • Ed and I will be be talking about the week in review – the selective Democrat war on women, the Zimmerman indictment, the latest economic and prez poll numbers – from 1-3PM.  Call us at 651 289 4488.
  • Brad Carlson’s show – “The Closer” – is on from 1-3 on Sunday.
  • The King Banaian Show! – King is on AM1570, Business Radio for the Twin Cities!  Join him from 9-11 every Saturday!

(All times Central)

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of honest news. 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) .
  • New – send us an SMS text message – 651-243-0390
  • 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!

Democrats: Continuing To Elevate The Dialog

A Maine state Democrat legislator urges Dick Cheney’s execution:

Rep. Chuck Kruger (D-Thomaston)…used his Twitter account to express his view that former Vice President Dick Cheney should be executed…Kruger made the statement through his Twitter account this past summer, saying, “Cheney deserves same final end he gave Saddam. Hope there are cell cams,” a reference to technology that would allow Kruger to watch the proposed execution of the former Vice President of the United States.

But at least there were no crosshairs involved.  And he didn’t mention the word “reloading”.  So it must be OK.

The funny part?  Kruger is the chair of the Maine Legislature’s “Moderate Caucus”:

This comment has led some to question the validity of Kruger’s moderate credentials.

Lori Sturdevant and Brian Lambert will vouch for him.


Humans, like most animals, have an evolutionary proclivity toward fighting for scarce things – mates, resources, spaces at the bar, whatever.

And like most animals, humans are adapted to see those who are bigger, stronger and more capable of harming them.  Hence – according to UCLA researchers – people A  think men in photographs with guns in their hands look taller than men holding other objects:

To test this theory, researchers set up a series of experiments in which they had hundreds of participants look at photos of hands holding different objects: handguns, handsaws, power drills and caulking guns. (The hands matched one another in size and appearance.)

Participants were asked to look at the photos and estimate the size of the person holding each object and how muscular he was by choosing one of six body types.

In one round of the experiment involving 628 viewers, the researchers found that men whose hands held a .357-caliber handgun were thought to be almost 5 feet, 10 inches — more than 2 inches taller than men whose hands held a caulking gun.

Men with drills were also on the higher end of the height and strength scale — perhaps because of viewers’ estimates of the strength it would take to hold a drill — but they were still judged to be about half an inch shorter than the gun toters.

Next, they’ll study why women with guns are so much sexier than other women.

Ted Nugent: “This Case Is Irresponsible And Unethical”

Rock and roller, talk show host and Second Amendment activist Ted Nugent spoke out about the Martin / Zimmerman case yesterday on MSNBC’s “Hardball”.

The quotes were pretty damning: Nugent noted that the affidavit of probable cause was “so thin it’ll get thrown out by a judge”, and predicted Zimmerman’s acquittal.

God, Guns and Gibson made America great.

The Motor City Madman called the prosecutor’s announcement “a campaign speech”, and called the entire indictment “irresponsible and unethical”…

…oh, I can’t keep a straight face anymore.

It wasn’t Ted Nugent.   It was Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz.

Oh, everything else was real:

“Everything in the affidavit (of probable cause) is consistent with a claim of self-defense!”

We shall see.

The Moral Of The Story

I was standing at the bar at Keegans with Mr. D, Speed Gibson, Night Writer and some stranger I’d never met, a few weeks ago.

D said “Two vultures board an airplane, each carrying two dead raccoons. The stewardess looks at them and says, “I’m sorry, gentlemen, only one carrion allowed per passenger.”

We all groaned in agony.

Speed followed up: “Did you hear that NASA recently put a bunch of Holsteins into low earth orbit? They called it the herd shot ’round the world.”

There were face-palms all around – except for the stranger, who seemed to be getting a little agitated.

Not to be outdone, Night spoke up next: ”  Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal? He wanted to transcend dental medication”

We all theatrically slapped at Night – except for the stranger, who visibly seethed with rage.

Terry Keegan walked up behind the bar.  “Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, but when they lit a fire in the craft, it sank proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it, too.”

We all rubbed our foreheads in mock pain – except for the stranger, whose face turned red, with flecks of spittle forming around his lips.

It was my turn: “A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in
the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour,  the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. “But why?”  they asked, as they moved off. “Because,” he said, “I can’t stand chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”

Everyone theatrically held their stomachs in mock agony – except for the stranger.  The man – in his mid to late sixties, sallow, wearing a U of M sweater – took a step back, bellowed something nonsensical, and pulled a large knife from his back pocket.

I kicked him hard in the groin.  One of the others – D, Speed or Night, can’t remember which – took a snap-kick at the hand with the knife, which flew up in the air.  Keegan caught it, pommel-side down, like you’re supposed to catch flying knives.  We grabbed the man and held him for the police.

Which just goes to show you should never bring a knife to a pun fight.

War On Women: The Breakdown

Activist sleeper in the midst of trying to provide this nation with yet another lawyer, who claims to pay at least double the market rate for contraception and wants the government to pay for it? Good.

Woman who marries guy who becomes wildly personally, politically and financially successful, and opts from her own free will to stay home and raise five boys?  While dealnig with illness and starting out without a whoooole lot of money, family wealth notwithstanding?

Apparently bad..

Glad we could get clear on that.

It Took About Six Weeks Of Investigation…

…for the prosecutor in Florida to charge George Zimmerman with Second Degree Murder.

Corey also had a message for those who have been rushing to judgment on the case.

“You cannot know what it’s like to launch this type of investigation and come to this conclusion,” State Attorney Angela Corey said during the press conference.

“We don’t prosecute by public pressure or petition. We prosecute cases on the relevant facts of each case and on the laws of the state of Florida.”

The worst thing about how the left has treated this case – as a stage prop for Obama’s re-election campaign – is that it causes doubts in the justice system, among both those who are inclined to support it or not.

Naturally, the Obama administration and the media who push his narrative had every reason to portray the local prosecutors and police as racist peckerwoods who didn’t care that a black kid was dead.  And the claque that has been benefitting from that perception for decades now – Al Sharpton and the various race-war pimps – benefit handsomely from that perception.,

Which is, of course, not to say that the local cops and prosecutors did do a good job – in fact, we don’t know.  But prosecutor Corey is right – these ambiguous shooting cases frequently do take a long time to work out.  A great example – of both the time it takes to work out an ambiguous shooting and of a justice system horribly skewed by official tush-covering – is the Treptow case, from five years ago in Coon Rapids.

So there is much we don’t know about this case.

But one thing that any rational person – and by “rational person” I mean “one who rationally assesses the facts as they know them = does know is that this case is no indictment of “Stand Your Ground”.

Let’s compare and contrast the genesis (so far) of this case, and war-game out its resolution under Florida law (with its Stand Your Ground provisions) and Minnesota law (which still has a vague, ambiguous “duty to retreat”).

Assumptions:  We’ll assume that the episode went like this: Martin was walking (we won’t ascribe motives to him yet).  Zimmerman, being a diligent (maybe over-diligent) neighborhood watch guy, followed Martin in his car, then got out and confronted Martin.  The encounter went south – accounts vary – and either Zimmerman ended up attacking Martin, or Martin attacked Zimmerman (you can believe whichever you want, because only the jury’s perception really matters at this point).  At some point, and with whatever motive, Zimmerman shoots Martin, who dies.   The police arrive.  Zimmerman claims self-defense.

Under Current Minnesota Law, if the case were being tried under Minnesota law, the prosecution would have to prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that Zimmerman, while not planning to kill Martin, did in fact intentionally kill Martin without justification.  Zimmerman and his attorneys, claiming self-defense, would have to prove to the jury that…:

  • Zimmerman reasonably feared death or great bodily harm – they’d have to convince the jury that Zimmerman’s fear of Martin beating him to death was reasonable.  Of course, people get beaten to death, strangled, clubbed to death with bottles all the time – there’ve been three “one-punch kills” in Minnesota so far in 2012.  I’m no lawyer, but I’m going to say this will likely mean having to prove that Martin really attacked him, injured him, and didn’t appear likely to stop at the time.   Is that enough to convince a jury?  We’ll see.
  • He was a reluctant participant – No, the fact that he followed Martin, and disregarded the 911 operator’s instructions, don’t count.  Zimmerman had a right to be on the street, whether he was following Martin or not.  And 911 operators don’t give legal orders.  It might not look good for Zimmerman – but in fact he needs to prove that he didn’t willingly dive into the actual physical scuffle that led to the shooting.
  • The force he used was reasonable  – in other words, he’d need to prove that the force he used was only enough to end the lethal threat.  If there’s evidence Zimmerman shot Martin while he was lying on the ground, then the case is over.
  • He made a reasonable effort to disengage – If he convinces the jury that he was jumped and tackled before he had a chance to try to run away, or that he did in fact try to back away while under attack, then that’s what he’d have to do.  The prosecutor, of course, can try to convince the jury that Zimmerman should have tried to escape until he slipped into a coma with brain damage; an anti-gun judge could instruct the jury to keep to the strictest possible definition of “duty to retreat”.  Zimmerman, or any self-defense shooter under Minnesota law, could have been impeccable on the other three points, and still go to jail based purely on the discretion of the prosecutor, the prejudice of the judge, and the whim of the jury.  That’s why Minnesota needs a Stand Your Ground law.  But that’s a matter for the next legislature.

If Zimmerman failed to convince the jury that he’d met all four of those criteria, then his self-defense claim fails.

Under Current Florida Law – But the case is being tried in Florida.  Florida has a “Stand your Ground” law.  That means that the prosecutor must prove to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • Zimmerman met all the elements of Second Degree Murder under Florida law – that he did in fact intentionally kill Martin without justification.
  • Zimmerman did not reasonably fear death or great bodily harm – they’d have to convince the jury that Zimmerman’s fear of Martin beating him to death was unreasonable.  Of course, the defense will show the jury that people get beaten to death, strangled, clubbed to death with bottles all the time – I’m going to guess if there’ve been three  “one-punch kills” in Minnesota so far in 2012 that there’ve been more than that in Gainesville alone. The prosecutor, I’ll guess, will have to debunk the notion that Martin attacked Zimmerman, or build a case that Zimmerman really did attack Martin.  We’ll see.
  • Zimmerman was not a reluctant participant – The fact that Zimmerman followed Martin, and disregarded the 911 operator’s instructions, may have been a bad idea – I know that after taking carry permit training twice, it’s the last thing I’d do.  But the defense will point out that Zimmerman had a right to be on the street, and convince the jury that he didn’t willingly dive into the actual physical scuffle that led to the shooting.
  • The force he used was not reasonable  – in other words, the prosecutor will need to prove that the force Zimmerman used was beyond what was needed to end the threat.  If there’s evidence Zimmerman shot Martin while he was lying on the ground, then the case is over.  Othewise?  Not so much.
  • He made a reasonable effort to disengage – Does not apply in “Stand your Ground” states.  Not so that people can “shoot first”, but because this is a provision that is abused by prosecutors; can anyone else see the absurdity of saying “yes, your life was being legitimately threatened – but you should have tried harder to run away before defending yourself?”

If the prosecution proves all the elements of second-degree murder, and disproves any of the three pillars of his self-defense claim, the jury will likely find ZImmerman guilty.  If the jury accepts all three of the pillars of Zimmerman’s claim (or reasonable doubts exist about them), then they will (assuming a rational jury) find him innocent.

The only difference is on whom the burden of proving the legitimacy of the self-defense claim rests.  That is all.

Sharpton and the race-war pimps will keep trying to fan this into a racial incident – because it benefits them to do so.  White liberals will try – and fail – to turn this into an indictment of “Stand your Ground” laws.

And before too long, the Obama administration will need to find itself another stage prop; the mainstream media, his Praetorian Guard, will dutifully move on, and the  case, provided you trust the local justice system, will reach the resolution it would have reached without all the national attention.

It Explains Much

Joe Doakes from Como Park forwarded me an email for a “Continuing Legal Education” class with an interesting panel of guests (emphasis added):

Join extraordinary national and local speakers for a comprehensive update on all things banking law, including the latest information on new law and regulatory efforts.


Leonard N. Chanin, Assistant Director, Regulations, for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – “The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau”

Timothy Divis, Regional Counsel, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation – “Regulatory Perspectives on Key Issues”

U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison, Member of the House Financial Services Committee –“Congressional Update”

Terry Jorde, Senior Executive Vice President/Chief of Staff for the Independent Community Bankers of America – “From the Farm Belt to the Beltway”

Steve Mumm, Senior Applications Analyst, and Jennifer J. Olson, Senior Attorney, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis – “A Refresher on Regulation Y”

Stacy Powers, Assistant District Counsel, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency – “Regulatory Perspectives on Key Issues”

Attorney General Lori Swanson, Office of the Minnesota Attorney General – “Developments Affecting the Financial Services Industry”

Plus Minnesota’s leading banking law experts! Register now!



Keith Ellison and Lori Swanson are banking experts? Explains a lot about the problems in our financial system.

headline like that, how can you resist. Hoodies all around no doubt.


Chanting Points Memo: “How Is A Bowling Ball The Same As A Spoon?”

It’s a scenario that’s launched a thousand “miscarriage of military justice” stories and more than a few movies during and after three wars, now; soldier gets into difficult, ambiguous situation; soldier, believing himself to be threatened, shoots.  Judge Advocate General jacks the soldier up over an arcane technicality in the “rules of engagement”, adjudicated by a bunch of officers and lawyers sitting in a secure base camp, an office or the Pentagon.  And the soldier(s), having followed the rules in all but the one, most arcane, most-technical sense of the term, and having acted otherwise blamelessly, get sent to prison.

Some of the dimmer bulbs on the Twin Cities’ Sorosphere’s intellectual Festivus pole were grunting and argling yesterday about this piece here, from “Think” Progess, by one Jon Soltz, claiming that Florida’s (and by extension, Minnesota’s proposed and vetoed) “Stand Your Ground” laws “gives George Zimmerman more protection than soldiers overseas”.   It’s written by one Jon Soltz, listed as founder and chairman of VoteVets.org



The Trayvon Martin case has gripped the nation, and forced the country to re-examine our gun laws. But the horrible affair has struck me in another way, because of my two tours in Iraq. One fact stands out in my mind: The “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida, which may let George Zimmerman off the hook for the killing of Martin, gives more leeway to shooters than our own military gives to soldiers in war.

That sounds serious.  And it is.  Seriously misleading, anyway.

We’ll come back to that.

VoteVets.org has more than 105,000 members who take a wide array of views on gun control and the 2nd Amendment,

…although the group itself is a left-leaning “veterans” group affiliated with the whacko-left “Center for American Progress”, “Moveon.org”, and which is supported by the Soros-affiliated “Democracy Alliance”.

But this is less about the organization than about the spreading of chanting points in which Soltz is participating.

but the Trayvon Martin case is less about the right to bear arms than it is the “use of force.” It’s impossible to ignore the legal protection George Zimmerman enjoys in suburban Florida vs. the Rules of Engagement that outline when one of our troops can shoot while in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Soltz is half right…

…well, no.  He’s half on topic.  There is something that’s impossible to ignore.

But comparing rules for self-defense among civilians out and about in a civil society is nothing like the rules of engagement for the military in a combat zone.

The U.S. military issues Rules of Engagement (ROE) for every conflict to guide servicemembers’ ability to protect themselves from deadly threats…

…which Soltz goes on to describe in great detail and, I’ll presume, accurately (although I’d love to have some of combat veterans who read this blog go over his version of the ROE just to make sure), he misses a key point.  And by “key”, I mean, “so vital that his entire point makes absolutely no sense if you get it wrong”.


key component of the ROE used during the height of violence in Iraq in 2007 was the requirement to use “Graduated Force” when time and circumstances permit. Section 3.G.(1) states that if an individual “commit[s] a hostile act or demonstrat[es] hostile intent” — meaning he or she attacks U.S. or designated allied forces, nationals, or property, or threatens the imminent use of force against any of them — U.S. Force “may use force, up to and including deadly force, to eliminate the threat.”


A soldier (or sailor, airman or Marine) in a combat has a lot of firepower at hand; a selective-fire assault rifle (sometimes with a grenade launcher), a machine gun (anything from a squad automatic weapon to an M2 .50 caliber or a fully-automatic grenade launcher on top of their Hummer), or more; antitank rockets, grenades, and more.  They can be supported by tanks with cannon with cannon that can pick your nose from a mile away with a depleted-uranium dart that flies at a mile every second and a half and that can go through a foot of armor steel.  They’re a radio call away from calling in artillery – 40-to-100 pound shells in barrages of dozens of shells that can level a city block faster than a  bunch of drunk Detroit Pistons fans – or air support, in the form of Apaches with rockets and automatic cannon, A10s and F16s flying close support,  dropping 2000 GPS-guided bombs that can fly down your toilet more accurately than the Roto-Rooter guy, or even a B52 that can drop thirty or forty of them, if you really need to dig out of a jam.

The rules of engagement are there to make sure that the 19 year old kid with the aweseome responsibility of being at the business end of all that firepower knows how to use it to advance, rather than degrade, America’s interests in the area.

On the other hand, the law regarding civilian self-defense is there to judge whether homicide is justified or not.  In every state, the questions are  “is the citizen’s fear of death, rape, maiming or other injury reasonable enough to justify using lethal force”, “was the citizen a reluctant participant”, “was the force they used reasonable” and in some states, “did the citizen make a reasonable effort to retreat”.  In some states, the citizens have to prove all of the above; in others – Florida – the state has to prove they didn’t.

We’ll come back to that.

Soltz gives an example of how Rules of Engagement caused a problem for one soldier:


In fact, Richard Allen Smith, the vice chairman of VoteVets.org, recently told me a story he had heard during his time in Afghanistan, which illustrates this point.

The Scout Platoon leader for Richard’s Battalion was in a situation in 2007 where they detained someone, but he managed to get out of their truck and flee. While he was running away, the Platoon Leader fired at him and caught him in the thigh. They called for a medevac, but he bled out before the bird could get there.

Under military law and rules of engagement, the Platoon Leader was clearly in the wrong: he pursued an unarmed guy who wasn’t posing a threat to U.S. Forces and shot him to death. He was charged (although he was never tried because he was injured a few days later when his truck was hit by an IED and he was deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial).

I’m not sure why Soltz brings this up: does he think a citizen would skate on shooting a fleeing attacker?  As a rule, they would not.

But Soltz is slowly cutting to the chase, here.  He starts out with an honest admission:

Of course, comparing the Trayvon Martin case to a war situation is neither fair nor clean, and we still don’t know all of the facts surrounding Trayvon’s death.

But the facts end there:

But insofar as what I’ve read about the case, it sounds to me that if Trayvon had been an Iraqi soldier, and George Zimmerman had been a U.S. Soldier, there would have been an immediate investigation, and most likely a manslaughter charge, and victim’s family financially compensated for wrongful death.

And that goes to show you the risks in going by “what you’ve read” when, as a lefty (and I’ll be charitable and assume that Soltz isn’t purely reciting the party line, which, given his groiup’s funding, is probably more charitable than warranted, but I’m a uniter, not a divider), the stuff you read is produced  by groups that are trying to use the Martin case to fan racial tension to boost the President’s fortunes – or lefty-vetted “Experts” who are, in fact, not.

If Zimmerman was attacked, then under either military law (as Soltz recited it) or under criminal law, he was arguably justified in shooting.  I say “arguably” because these things do need to be investigated.

Was it?  Do we know the facts?  As Soltz himself allowed, we do not.

Which doesn’t justify just making up facts to fill in in place.  LIke this:

But Zimmerman is a civilian in Florida where, as the country now knows, a shooter is often immune from criminal prosecution and civil liability if he believed he had been threatened with deadly force.

But only if the investigation shows that the evidence warrants that conclusion.  After – y’know – due process, according to the law passed by the relevant legislature.  Same as in the military!

Yes, I did say “making stuff up”:

One of the striking components of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law — or, more appropriately, “Shoot First” law — is that it eliminated the “duty to retreat” embedded in centuries of common law about self-defense. Traditionally, a person had the duty to retreat from dangerous situations if they could, and the use of deadly force was justifiable self-defense only if a person could not have otherwise safely gotten away.

Except that’s both not true – it’s not “embedded in centuries of tradition”.  It’s a feature of some self-defense laws.  Not others.  They vary.  And simply saying “it was part of common law” isn’t a carte-blanche guarantee of validity; slavery was a part of “common law”, until it wasn’t anymore.

“Duty to Retreat” is not a feature, it’s a bug; it means that the citizen is supposed to make a “reasonable” effort to disengage (which, when you’re a civilian with a carry permit, is always a good idea even if it’s not a legal requirement).  Reasonable according to whom?  If you have a bad knee and your attacker is 18 and faster than you?  If you are outnumbered?  If you are in a stopped car and someone points a gun at you?  What is the “reasonable” course?  The answer – under the law in half of the states – is ambiguous, and entirely at the discretion of a county attorney.  It’s ambiguous.

And ambiguity makes bad law – just as it makes for lousy orders for soldiers. Which is why Rules of Engagement are so detailed.

Soltz claims that “Stand Your Ground” gives citizens more protection than it gives soldiers in the field.  Leaving aside the apples-and-axles non-sequitur of trying to compare the situations, he’s 180 degrees wrong; “Stand Your Ground” removes ambiguity from the citizen’s case, giving them a similar standard (not “the same” – combat and self-defense are not the same) as the soldier has.

It’s another entry in the library of chanting points the left is trying to use to keep the Martin case alive as a wedge issue.

Read Soltz.  Judge for yourself.


So Santorum is out.

I caucused for Santorum two months ago – mostly, as I noted at the time, to try to use my one little vote to drive the presumptive front-runner, Romney, to the right.  I’ve got nothing against Santorum, but he’s not my ideal candidate.

Neither were any of the other candidates we’ve been through over this past few months – Huntsman, Johnson, Cain, Perry, Pawlenty, Bachmann, Paul, Gingrich, Santorum or Romney.  None of them were perfect, by the litmus tests that drive the all-important “Mitch Berg” vote; every one of them had something that kept me from jumping onto the bandwagon.

But let’s be clear – every single one of them would have been a better President than Barack Obama.  Even if they had a stroke.

My various Newt and Paul supporter friends have been bending my hear with talk of “principle” when it comes to picking the nominee – libertarian princples embodied by Paul, conservative principles re Gingrich, all juxtaposed with Romney’s purported lack of them.

Notwithstanding the idea that a committed Mormon lacks “princples”, I have to say I agree with both of ’em; princples are a good thing and, at some level, if you really have princples, they are non-negotiable.

But the one ultimate non-negotiable principle – at least as re my politics as opposed to my theology, and yes, I draw a wide black line between the two – is “doing what’s right for America”.

And so even though Mitt Romney isn’t the perfect conservative, he’s better than Obama.  Not just a little better, but much much much better.  Go ahead, Ronulans – make my day, argue with me about whether they are or are not the same thing.  They are not.

And so I’m going to pull like hell for the imperfect guy we (apparently) got, and reserve a special circle in rhetorical hell for those who say they’ll sit this election out because “their guy” didn’t get the nod.

Making America worth saving is the real principle here.