Not So Happy To Pay For A Better Minnesota

Minnesota newspapers, largely, supported Governor Messinger Dayton and the DFL.  They largely not only bought the “Alliance For A Better Minnesota’s” bill of goods hook line and sinker, but most of them worked tirelessly to propagate it, and to squelch dissent from it.

They studiously avoided, almost completely, any reporting that would have impeded the DFL’s rise to power.

The Minnesota media, at large, were among the DFL’s most valuable players this past two electoral cycles.  At the highest levels – the Strib, the PiPress, and at least the programming arm of MPR – they serve as the DFL’s Praetorian Guard.

But now?  Now that the governor is tacking 5.5% sales taxes (for starters) onto print services, advertising and retail newspaper sales?

Not so much:

Business groups and retailers complain that the proposal would cost jobs. As he spoke to the Minnesota Newspaper Association, several editors and newspaper owners complained that a sales tax on newspapers would hurt their industry.

Tom West, the managing editor of the Morrison County Record in Little Falls, spoke about his concerns during a question and answer session.

“We are the ones who cover local government and state government, and we are wondering why you would think it would be a good idea to have less information about government and what government is up to,” West said.

(Cynical answer: “Because you’ve served your purpose”.  See also The Minnesota Independent).

(Slightly less cynical answer: “While your contributions to DFL hegemony were vital, you don’t have the same political clout as AFSCME, the SEIU or MPR).

(Cynical and partisan but realistic answer: “How about not just “covering local government”, but turnin a critical eye on the DFL?  For once?”)

Others said that expanding the sales tax to newspaper ink, paper and advertising would result in job losses. Dayton said he understood the concern but did not back away from his plan.

Job losses only matter if they’re union.

Small papers aren’t union.

Big papers are – and we’ll see what happens there.

As to the rest of you newspapers?  You got the government you mostly worked for, largely shilled for, and for the most part operated as in-the-bag PR agents for.  Most of your editorial stances praised Dayton and the DFL’s return to power.

So now you’re saying you’re not Happy To Pay For A Better Minnesota?

Suck it.

BONUS QUESTION FOR DFLers: What do you think happens when you tack 5.5% onto the price of something?

All other things being equal, people buy 5.5% less of it.

Ponder losing 5.5% of your business overnight.  Ponder hard.

Remedial Reading For NPR Listeners

I’ve said it before: being a Second Amendment supporter is a lot like the movie  Ground Hog Day.  You – or rather, your opponents, the gun-grabbers – just keep repeating the same memes, over and over again.

Over 25 years of being an activist, if I’ve heard…:

  • “The founding fathers couldn’t have foreseen weapons today!”
  • “You oppose gun control?  So felons should have guns, then?”
  • “Gun owners must be compensating for something…”
  • “Yes, I know you keep refuting the statistics, but the statistics I have prove that gun control lowers crime!”
…once, I’ve heard them a million times over the past quarter-century.

Oh, yeah – another one is “it’s impossible for a normal human to tell what the Second Amendment actually means”.

Such is the tack of Linton Weeks, writing in an op-ed space at National Public Radio.

How can something apparently so simple — a 27-word sentence — be so confusing? What is so hard to understand about “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”?

As it turns out, after more than 200 years of intense scrutiny by people more versed in The Law than you and I — and in the face of seemingly endless American gun violence — the meaning of the Second Amendment continues to baffle and elude. In this case, the country’s Founders have left us to founder.

Is it a sweeping constitutional guarantee that individuals have unfettered access to guns, or a practical agreement that allows for citizen armies in times of extraordinary national need?

According to Weeks, the the answer is as imponderable is “what is the nature of God”, or perhaps “how does NPR consider itself unbiased?”.  And like all imponderables, one turns to the humanities:

Maybe it would help everyone to think about this complicated dictum in a more slant way, hold it up to the light and look at it from different angles, the way poets approach other tough concepts — such as love, hate and injustice.

A Tone Poem

After all, says U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, poetry has the “ability to help us deal with difficult things.”

Follow the hilarity on your own time.

But Mr. Weeks’ piece is pretty clearly aimed at NPR’s core audience – liberals who consider themselves smarter than average, and are nonetheless low-information voters.

Because the Second Amendment has been analyzed for centuries – and especially for the past couple of decades – by two groups of people who make sense of words:  grammarians who work with words, and lawyers, who work with words that are written in the form of laws.

Grammar Got Run Over By Nena Totenberg

The Second Amendment – “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”, is two clauses.

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state”, the first clause, makes no sense standing on its own.  It’s called a “dependent clause”.

“the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”?  That makes sense standing on its own.  It’s an “Independent Clause”.  The sentence really says “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be abridged, because a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state”.

Even a tone poet can follow that, right?

It’s Just Like Shakespeare Said

Of course, that leaves two words undefined:  “Militia”, and “people”, as in “right of the people”.

Of course, in the First Amendment, there’s no question what a “right of the people” means; it means religion, press, assembly and speech refer only to churches, newspapers, legislatures and broadcasters.  Right?

Of course not.  “Right of the people” refers to “the people, as individuals”.

But Let’s Cut The Crap

Mr. Weeks’ thesis – that the Second Amendment is an inscrutable bit of language – isn’t entirely without merit.  No less a legal luminary than Dr. Sanford Levinson wrote about this twenty years ago in “The Embarrassing Second Amendment“, noting that the Second is a singularly poorly-written bit of law.

Poorly.  Not indecipherably.

Levinson – a card-carrying gun-hating liberal – concludes that the Amendment means…

…exactly what we shooters have always said it means.  It’s a right of the people, not the National Guard.  And the fact that the Founders never envisioned the AR15 or the HK91 or the Glock is no more important than the fact that they never envisioned radio, TV or the Internet.

Levinson’s article led, indirectly and circuitously, to the Supreme Court saying…exactly that; that the Second Amendment is pretty clearly understood, in the Heller decision.

Which gives Mr. Weeks’ question a pretty cut and dried answer, albeit one that NPR would like to make sure doesn’t get much airplay.