Corollary

Level-setting:  Berg’s Laws are pretty much inviolable rules of human (largely political) behavior based on years of observation.  And while Berg’s Seventh Law gets most of the action these days, Berg’s Tenth is getting a workout, too.

Berg’s Tenth Law reads:

Berg’s Tenth Law of Quantum Context: When a liberal says a conservative is “lying”, the odds of the “lie” being merely an ambiguity triggering some form of cognitive dissonance increases in geometric proportion with the volume and stridency of the liberal’s declaration. Here are the references in this blog to Berg’s 10th Law.

 It’s a nice broad (but iron-clad) law.  But sometimes laws need corollaries.

Which brings us to “The Santorum Corollary” to Berg’s Tenth:

The Santorum Corollary to Berg’s Tenth Law:  If the news media reports something askance about a conservative’s behavior, a full look into the facts will almost invariably show that it was reported with key context missing. 

That’s almost invariably.  People misbehave; sometimes they’re conservatives, sometimes they’re apolitical, and sometimes they’re liberals; the media reminds us of the conservative ones, anyway (sometimes in an onanistic frenzy).

But the Santorum Corollary is nearly airtight, as in this week’s episode; the lefty “alternative” media thought they heard Rick Santorum saying something weird - or so they were told by the HuffPo, which is paid good money to do “progressives’” thinking for them:

Here’s the “story”, as reported by the HuffPo:

Speaking to anti-abortion group Students for Life after receiving an award last month, Santorum attempted to explain what he saw as an enthusiasm gap between liberal and conservative activists. During his speech, a clip of which can be seen above, via Right Wing Watch, Santorum argued that the pro-choice movement infuses passion about abortion rights into “every aspect of their life.” He said that because of this, showering at a gym had become an “uncomfortable” prospect for students.

(Switching into leftyblogger cant):  Oh, noez!   Can I haz weird? 

(Back to English):  Showering around pro-choicers is “uncomfortable?”  That sure sounds…off, doesn’t it? 

But the HuffPo said it!  And thus it must be The Revealed Truth!  Every leftyblogger took the “story” as gospel in the tittering, Junior-high cadence that is the lingua francaof the “Reality Based” alt-media community. 

But was it accurate?

Have you read the Santorum Corollary yet?    Of course not!

From the Byron York piece that the HuffPo wrenched out of context…:

“In July, members of anti-abortion group Students For Life, the group Santorum was addressing, complained that they had been bullied by pro-choice activists after using facilities at an Austin Y.”

“The group had come to the area to show support for anti-abortion legislation then being debated at the state Capitol, and had made last-minute arrangements to use showers at the gym. They did so one night, with the students entering the building in shifts wearing blue shirts, indicating support for the bill. After the first night went without incident, the Y contacted a director at Students For Life and asked them not to return.”

According to the director of the anti-abortion group, YMCA staffers stated that abortion rights activists had intimidated them into making the decision:

“Said, again, ‘You guys [the pro-life students] were respectful. We have no problems with you, in particular, however there were some people that support abortion who talked to our staff, intimidated them.’ They actually said that they felt threatened, and they asked us not to come back,” [Students for Life director Alexa] Coombs said.

So apparently its the pro-infanticide crowd that gets hinky about cognitive dissonance…

…and feels the need to sexualize their own bigotries. 

Now, who are the weird, skeevy ones?

Just so we’re clear on that.

Behold The New States Rights Standard-Bearer

I’ve got a bit of a dilemma here.

In trying to address the claims made in h this piece from Ian Millhiser in “Think” “Progress”, on a federal-level proposal for national reciprocity for carry permits, I faced a gnarly dilemma:  do I do a piece on “Think” “Progress”‘s efforts to cull selectively through facts to try to trash a conservative initiative, or do I do a piece on the congenital liberal inability to think through an argument logically?

The answer, unfortunately, is “both”.  Why choose?

The “National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act” has broad support in both chambers of Congress; Right-to-carry has been an untrammelled success throughout the United State for the past thirty years, with immense, intense support on both sides of the aisle at the federal and state level.

If the bill becomes law, it would allow nearly anyone to shop around for the one state that is willing to issue them a license to carry a concealed firearm, and then force other states to honor that license.

I’m not sure if Millhiser has really thought this through.  For example, they indulge the “progressive” conceit of looking in mock horror at the “red” state gun laws…:

Many states’ licensing rules for concealed carry are shockingly lax. Florida, for example, issued 1,700 concealed carry permits to people with “criminal histories, arrest warrants, domestic violence injunctions and misdemeanor convictions for gun-related crimes.”

…while, leaving aside for a moment the fact that the Florida story is a bit of bogus scare-mongering – the issues cited didn’t involve convictions, or “gun-related” misdemeanors serious enough to warrant denying their permit applications – it shows both “Think” “Progress”‘s myopia and ignorance of facts; carry permit holders’ crime records in “lax” states like Florida [1] are statistically no less impeccable than those in “strict” states like New York or, for that matter, states requiring no permit from the law-abiding, like Alaska, Arizona and Vermont.

Because Illinois is the only state that does not have a concealed carry law, the NRA’s bill would render out-of-state visitors immune to every state but Illinois’ licensing laws — so long as they obtained a license from a state that practically gives them away.

Right.  Because goodness knows if that happens, Illinois might get overwhelmed with gun violence or something.

OK,. back to my dilemma.  We established above that “Think” “Progress” is, like most (but by no means all) liberals, clueless about the reality of guns rights. Now, it’s on to the whole “couldn’t do logic in the throes of a full-bore Vulcan Mind Meld” bit.

Because Millhiser wants to throw out fifty years of “progressive” social policy!

Yet… forcing New York to honor Florida’s poorly vetted carry licenses…flies directly in the face of the right’s professed views on the 10th Amendment’s guarantee of states rights. The NRA’s bill is a direct attack on each state’s ability to determine on its own how best to protect the public’s safety.

Ultimately, however, this kind of fair weather tentherism is nothing new. Conservatives hate federal regulation of health care, until they want to invalidate state tort law or immunize the insurance industry from state consumer protection law.

There is a difference – legally and, if you care about America’s history and liberties no matter what your political stripe, morally - between “human rights”, especially those enshrined in the Bill of Rights, and the niggling impedimenta of government policy and regulation on  issues that are, let’s just say, a tad less exalted in this nation’s legal canon.

This country decided – with the 13th Amendment and, also, the blood of 600,000 dead Americans – that the Bill of Rights’s exaltation of inalienable human rights trumps the states and, for that matter, The People.  The Supreme Court, and generations of decisions pushed by generations of lawyers pushed for everyone from Dred Scott to the ACLU, has established that the states do not trump human rights.

Like the right to free speech and the press.  Or freedom of (and, apparently, from) religion.  And assembly.  And unreasonable (whatever that means under the prevailing legal winds) search and seizures.  And, now that Heller has been incorporated by McDonald, the right to keep and bear arms.

Health care?  It’s not a constitutional right.  It’s an entitlement; we can argue over whether it’s something that should be dealt with at the federal level, or that of any government, and indeed we have been arguing about it for the past two years, and I have a hunch we’ll renew it in 2013.  And while “progressives” have used FDR’s courts’ bogus interpretations of the Commerce Clause to federalize a lot of things, there is no rational way you can say Health Care exists on the same plane as Speech and Jury Trials.

Most conservatives and libertarians recognize this distinction; we are more or less absolute (with prudent exceptions) on issues of human rights, and reserving lesser issues to the states. Most “progressives” blur it, but at least recognize (and push!) federal supremacy on civil liberties issues, as they constantly remind you.

…provided they’re not scary, like commoners with guns.

So Mr. Millhiser is mistaken when he writes…:

In other words, the right’s lockstep embrace of the NRA’s concealed carry bill is just one more example of conservatives’ willingness to claim that the Constitution means whatever they want it to mean.

…because, indeed, it’s Mr. Millhiser, not conservatives, with the case of moral confusion.  Are human rights a federal issue, or not?

My stance is clear.  Mr. Millhiser seems to want it both ways.

UPDATE AND CLARIFICATION:  Why yes, my stance is in fact consistent.  I believe that specifics of gun laws should be a state issue, provided that they are consistent with the idea that the right to keep and bear arms is a right “of the people”.  Most state qualify, although I personally campaign for more “liberalization”.  Illinois’ law does not qualify.

Begging The Answer

“Begging the Question” means “using your conclusion as evidence of your conclusion”.

I’m sure classical logic doesn’t recognize the concept of “begging the answer” – using the status quo as a defense of the status quo.

But this Dana Goldstein piece in Salon against Michele Bachmann and her fellow education reformers might just change all that.

Michele Bachmann’s…growing popularity among the Republican base also signals…a sea change in the party’s education agenda. It’s safe to say that the political era of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind is now officially over, even as the law’s testing mandates continue to reverberate in classrooms across the country.

The sooner, the better.

As recently as a decade ago, Republicans like George W. Bush, John McCain, and John Boehner embraced bipartisan, standards-and-accountability education reform as a pro-business venture, a way to make American workers and firms more competitive in the global marketplace. Now we are seeing the GOP acquiesce to the anti-government, Christian-right view of education epitomized by Bachmann, in which public schools are regarded not as engines for economic growth or academic achievement, but as potential moral corrupters of the nation’s youth.

As we’ll see below, I think Goldstein is lumping too many eggs into the “Christian Conservative!” basket.

As our public schools continue to flounder, more and more of us have had experiences that have exposed to them that public schools just aren’t like they were when we parents were kids.   Maybe it was a series of teachers like this one; maybe it was a long trail of eye-opening episodes with the celebration of hide-bound bureaucracy, or relentless kow-towing to political correctness that our school systems have become at the expense of actual education.

It’s why over an eighth of Saint Paul parents, and even more than that in Minneapolis, have deserted the public schools, for suburban schools (via Minnesota’s open enrollment law), charter schools and parochial and private schools.  The vast majority of these people are black, hispanic and Asian.

I don’t suspect they were all motivated by Michele Bachmann.

(Aside:  Goldstein refers to MNCD2 Congressman John Kline as “the moderate [! - Ed.]  chairman of the House education and workforce committee“.  Factor that into your analysis accordingly)   

Goldstein recounts Bachmann’s political origin story – homeschooling her kids, helping found a charter school, running for the Stillwater School Board and thence to the State Senate…:

As her political career advanced, the overarching theme of Bachmann’s education activism was that government attempts to improve schools threatened the prerogatives of the Christian family and represented a dangerous move toward a socialized, planned economy. In 2001, she charged that the 1994 federal School to Work Opportunities Act, which provided funding for low-income teenagers to do on-the-job apprenticeships with local companies, would turn students into “human resources for a centrally planned economy.” As a state senator in 2002, Bachmann produced a bizarre film called Guinea Pigs II, which compared Minnesota’s Profile of Learning curriculum standards—instituted in 1998 by Republican Gov. Arne Carlson—to Nazism and communism. As Tim Murphy of Mother Jones wrote of Bachmann last week, “She was Tea Party before the Tea party was cool. In 2002, with a Republican president in the White House and the Tea Party a full seven years away, she cited the 9th and 10th amendments while railing against No Child Left Behind as an unconstitutional abuse of power.”

Leave aside the bizarre fact that Goldstein thinks John Kline is a moderate, but that Bachmann should have cozied up to Arne Carlson because he was a “Republican”; she was right.  Oh, the rhetoric was a little lot overheated – but there is no rational case to be made that the US Department of Education does, or has ever, contributed positively to education.

Bachmann wasn’t the only Christian conservative local politician making these anti-education reform arguments in the 1990s. Rather, from the beginning of her activist career, she was part of a national “parental rights” movement organized by groups such as Focus on the Family and the Homeschool Legal Defense Fund. Like Bachmann, Sarah Palin was a foot soldier in this movement. According to an account local political activist Phillip Munger gave Salon, as mayor of Wasilla, Palin promoted a group of Christian right school board candidates.

So Goldstein’s goal seems to be clear; tie the “education reform” movement to “crazy”, “scary” conservative women.

But look at the people who are leaving the school systems.  In the inner cities, the refugees are largely Black, Hispanic and Asian – not, the last I checked, Bachmann or Palin’s key constituents.

Goldstein is trying to make her premise fit the facts she’s chosen to focus on – that there is a big, scary, crazy Christianist movement out there, working to derail public education – while white conservatives are just the tip of the iceberg of dissatisfaction, even revulsion, with the current school system.

And when the two finally connect?

Well, I suspect that’s what Goldstein is trying to prevent.

Boundary Issues

I get the impression there’s  not much middle ground when it comes to John “Johnny Northside” Hoff.   I didn’t entirely know that when I first wrote about his defamation trial last week.  People either seem to support him for his crusading against mortgage fraudsters in North Minneapolis, or they detest him for being a showboating publicity whore who plays waaaay below the belt, publishing his targets’ phone numbers, home addresses and employers when he really wants to screw with ‘em.

That, in fact, was my first encounter with Hoff; back in 2007, he vowed in the Minnesota Daily to stalk Republican National Convention delegates at their hotels.

One of his subjects, a Jerry Moore – a community organizer who went to work for the University of Minnesota – became the target of Hoff’s ire, after Moore’s involvement in a mortgage fraud scam (for which some people went to jail for long terms, but in which Moore was never convicted).  Not satisfied with the results of the legal system, Hoff turned the attention on the University, drawing enough attention to Moore that the U fired him.

Moore sued, for defamation and “Tortuous Interference” with his employment.  The proceedings dragged on for the better part of two years, before ending Friday with a jury awarding $60,000 to Moore; $35K for damages, $25K for emotional distress.

Not for defamation – libel, in this case – but for “Tortuous Interference” with Moore’s employment.   The ruling seems to have been that while Hoff’s postings didn’t meet the legal standard for libel, which in Minnesota means…:

  1. Party A (Hoff) says something about Party B (Moore) to Party C (Hoff’s readers, the public)…
  2. …which is untrue…
  3. …which has a reasonable chance of harming Party B’s livelihood or reputation…
  4. …and, if Party B is a public figure, he must prove Party A’s intent was malicious – and “public figure” can mean “even in a limited sense”, as in a community organizer or, for that matter, a blogger.

…they did interfere illegally with Moore’s employment.

Since the court classed Moore as a “limited public figure”, a defamation suit was all but impossible; to win, a blogger would basically have to write something utterly untrue, be told it was untrue, and respond via email “I don’t care, I’m going to get you not matter what!”.

That was a “hypothetical” example.  Scout’s honor.

Anyway – the defamation suit got tossed, but Hoff lost on “tortuous interference”, whose legal definition I’m not at all sure about; some commentators (David Brauer among them) immediately tweeted that the case was eminently appealable.

Abby Simons at the Strib covered the story – and it’s not quite so clear-cut:

Jane Kirtley, a U of M professor of media law and ethics, called the lawsuit an example of “trash torts,” in which someone unable to sue for libel, which by definition involves falsity, reaches for another legal claim. She predicted the verdict will be overturned.

“This is based on expression, and expression enjoys First Amendment protection,” Kirtley said. Just last week, she said, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected the Westboro Baptist Church’s antigay protests at military funerals.

“I find it really hard to believe that there was a degree of emotional distress caused by this reporting that outstrips that suffered by [a Marine's] family,” Kirtley said.

The verdict also surprised U of M law professor William McGeveran, but he wasn’t so certain that it will be easily overturned. Appeals courts tend to give a lot of credence to jury verdicts, he said.

Leaving appellate law issues aside, the lessons for bloggers seem fairly clear:

Learn what “Defamation” is, and don’t do it.  The short form?  Don’t present as facts things that can damage other people’s livelihood or reputation, if they are not true (things that are clearly presented as opinion are another matter). If you write something damaging, believing it to be true, and it turns out not to be the case, issue a correction; correcting an error is a pretty clear indicator you’re not acting out of malice.

Know when to stop. There are a few bloggers – mostly but not exclusively on the left – who can’t leave the story where the story ends.  They go to their subjects’ homes, or they publish where their subjects work.  They attack their subjects’ families.

It’s been my personal policy since the beginning to leave peoples’ jobs out of the story (unless it is a part of the story, legitimately.  And that means not creating a story out of someone’s job or family; there are a few regional bloggers who will write stories theorizing that other bloggers, for example, write on company time; I figure that’s between the blogger and their employer).   Families?  Always, always off-limits – including trying to find ways to make the families of people I disagree with into stories.

The point isn’t my own facility for horn-blowing; it’s that not only is going after peoples jobs, families and personal lives (that aren’t parts of the story) scuzzy; until the “Johnny Northside” case is resolved, it’s legally dicey as well.

As, I think, it should be.

Ed Kohler has a roundup of other coverage.

UPDATE:  Just so I’m clear on this: it’s a very, very good thing that Hoff was found not guilty of defamation.  It’s pretty clear that he stayed within the letter of the law.

David Brauer at MinnPost on the verdict:

The award left media lawyers flabbergasted because, as Faegre & Benson’s John Borger puts it, “If the statement was true, there should be no recovery. There is caselaw in Minnesota that the providing of truthful information is not a basis for tortious interference.”

Hoff’s lawyer, Paul Godfread, says “we will file any post-verdict motions that are appropriate.” Two common ones: filing for judgment based on a matter of law, and a motion for a new trial. The former wouldn’t challenge the jury’s fact-finding, instead arguing there is only one proper legal conclusion — no monetary damages.

The question “which prevails, the jury verdict or the case law?”, is one of those things that lawyers get rich hashing out.

But I have  question, especially for the media über alles types that have adopted Hoff as a cause celébre: let’s make this a hypothetical case, not directly related to Hoff vs. Moore.

Hypothetically, let’s say that a blogger wrote something incendiary and damaging, but true, about a nemesis’ activities – activities which happened in the past, at (let’s say) the nemesis’ last employer.

Nemesis has moved on since the activities about which Blogger was writing. The Blogger, in addition to pointing out his Nemesis’ past activies, carries a vendetta against the Nemesis into the present.  The Blogger starts a campaign against his Nemesis, intending to damage the Nemesis, to cost him his job, damage his reputation (above and beyond damage caused by the factual story from the past).  The vendetta is above and beyond, really separate from, the actual story about which the blogger reported.

Should the First Amendment protect not only legitimate free speech, but the malicious use of the reporter’s platform to harass the subjects of his/her reporting?  (I ask this stipulating that I’m not saying Hoff did this – although an ethical person might be forgiven for being concerned about some of the lengths he goes to to attack his targets).

OK, it’s not totally hypothetical; back in 2005, a major leftyblog (TBogg or Kos or one of the other big loony bins) published John Hinderaker’s home and office phone numbers; hundreds, maybe thousands called; being readers of major leftyblogs, they were a pretty depraved bunch.  They were trying to get Hinderaker fired.  Not because his day job – a lawyer for a major law firm – had anything to do with the story, or was even three degrees of separation away from it.  It was a  malicious attempt to attack Hinderaker’s non-blogging, non-activist livelihood.

Was Hoff’s attack on Moore’s post-mortgage-fraud proceedings career warranted?  Was it protected by the First Amendment, or was it tortuous interference?

UPDATE 2:  Well, there’s a possible answer; Eugene Volokh writing at the Volokh Conspiracy:

Even if Hoff was trying to get Moore fired, people are constitutionally entitled to speak the truth about others, even with such a goal. (The tort actually requires either knowledge that such a result is practically certain or a purpose of producing such a result, but I take it that here the allegation is that Hoff wanted Moore to get fired.) The First Amendment constrains the interference with business relations tort, just as it constrains the infliction of emotional distress and other torts. See NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. (1982); Blatty v. New York Times Co. (Cal. 1986) (speech constitutionally protected against a libel claim is also protected against an interference with business relations claim); Paradise Hills Assocs. (Cal. Ct. App. 1991) (same); Delloma v. Consolidated Coal Co. (7th Cir. 1993) (“permitting recovery for tortious interference based on truthful statements would seem to raise significant First Amendment problems”); Jefferson Cty. Sch. Dist. No. R-1 v. Moody’s Investor’s Services (10th Cir. 1999) (holding that interference with business relations and interference with contract claims can’t be based on expressions of opinion). The same should apply to the closely related interference with contract tort. See, e.g., Jefferson Cty. Sch. Dist.

Not positive that I think this is a good thing – but going back to my hypothetical, it also seems that the best answer to this is the proverbial “more good speech”

Questions. Just Questions.

I always loved this bit from South Park:

Oh, that Cartman. Spoofing people who “are just asking questions”. Funny funny stuff.

———-

Apropos absolutely nothing; about two months ago, three months ago a group of 20-odd Somalis were busted for running a prostitution ring in Minneapolis.  The ring allegedly forced young Somali girls into prostitution.

Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent lives in Minneapolis.

This raises questions:  Was Andy Birkey complicit in the prostitution ring?

No, I’m not being inflammatory.  I’m just asking questions.

Oh, yeah – Birkey has written his 24th article about Bradlee Dean in the past 53 weeks.

You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, Inc. (YCR), the Annandale-based hard rock ministry run by Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillian, set up trusts with help from a ministry in Oregon which has been a target of the IRS investigations for setting up tax avoidance schemes all over the country, Karl Bremer at Ripple in Stillwater reports.

While writing “How do you know Karl Bremer is full of crap?  His fingers are moving over the keyboard?” would be an ad-hominem, his history of being a ranting crank raises questions.

But I digress.  Here’s a serious question:  huh?

What sort of trust did YCR set up?  Was it legal?  Were YCR’s business dealings among those being investigated by the IRS?

Indeed, what is the IRS investigating?  And did YCR’s association with the “ministry in Oregon” happen to coincide in any way with anything that the IRS investigated?

I’m just asking questions (and adding emphasis to Birkey’s quotes).

Dean and YCR dismantled the work done by Glen Stoll and the Embassy of Heaven for their ministry and even took their case against Stoll to district court in 2008, but the arrangement raises questions about whether Dean and his ministry were trying to avoid paying their rightful share of taxes.

Birkey’s “just asking questions”.

We’ll come back to that.

Documents filed in Minnesota’s 10th District Court outline the arrangement set up by YCR with the help of Stoll. Bradlee Dean, whose real name is Bradley Dean Smith, and Jake McMillian, whose real name is Jake MacAuley, took classes from Stoll and paid him $6,500 to set up “established, exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable and assignable ministerial trusts” that would allow them to operate as a “‘free church’ that would be invulnerable to state regulation and control.”

As part of the deal, Smith was given an identification card from Stoll’s Embassy of Heaven that affirmed that, “On file is a signed statement by Bradley Smith renouncing allegiance to the world and declaring citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

So let me ask some questions – remember, I’m just asking questions, because questions were raised:

  • Was this “trust” illegal?
  • In fact, did tax laws in the early part of the 2000s make these sort of trusts a common and attractive means for religious ministries to handle their taxes and finances?
  • Did IRS laws change in the past five years, making various forms of non-profit status more useful?
  • Did YCR actually “evade” taxes?
  • If it could be showed I deducted my mortgage interest or inreimbursed medical expenses, would I be “evading taxes” according to Andy Birkey?
  • I know Andy Birkey and Karl Bremer are just “raising questions” – but do they have any actual evidence that YCR and Bradlee Dean didn’t actually pay taxes they were supposed to?
  • Any evidence at all?  Or are they just “raising questions”?

Remember – I’ m just asking questions.  Because questions were raised.  So I’m asking them.

Stoll also told his clients not to pay income taxes or employment taxes and to not file tax returns. And the ministry seemed to take that advice. According to the group’s 990 forms, it stopped reporting its activities to the IRS in 2003, the same year Smith signed his citizenship card with the Embassy of Heaven. It would resume filing its tax returns in 2008.

And was this illegal under the applicable laws at the time?    Is YCR under investigation of any kind, by anyone (other than Karl Bremer)?

Again – I’m just asking questions.

By 2005, Stoll and his clients were under investigation for tax fraud by the Department of Justice. As Bremer notes, Stoll has already been fined $50,000, is in violation of an injunction, and his arrest has been sought.

“People who buy into tax-fraud schemes are buying nothing but trouble — past due tax bills with interest and penalties and the possibility of criminal prosecution,” said Eileen J. O’Connor, Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division. “The Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service are committed to stopping the promotion of tax fraud.”

Well, that’s interesting.

Is Ms. O’Connor commenting about YCR?

Why, no – indeed, it seems Karl Bremer has clipped a quote from several other stories that used the same quote. Now, I’m just asking questions here – but isn’t the quote framed in such a way as to make it look like Ms. O’Conner “said” the quote to Birkey?  As opposed to Birkey and Bremer clipping it, with context grossly obscured, from several other stories?  Hasn’t the Minnesota Independent gotten into trouble for this sort of thing before?

Just asking questions.

By 2008, Smith and MacAuley began to unravel the complicated tax-free trust that was being administered by Stoll. As Bremer reports:

According to court documents, Smith’s and MacAulay’s attorney advised them to sever all ties with Stoll, demand his resignation from their trusts and return all property from the trusts. Stoll refused, and on December 9, 2008, a summons and petition was attempted to be served on Stoll’s address, where a person there “refused to accept the documents” and “slammed the door.”

Wait – so after “asking questions” that, if framed as a statement, would have sounded a lot like an accusation (“tax evasion”), Birkey and Bremer’s story’s source is…records of a lawsuit that YCR’s principals filed against their allegedly fraudulent ex-advisor…

…er, he was an ex-advisor, right?  Wait – Birkey’s story is so unclear, I have no idea what’s going on.  When did YCR have its trust with Stoll?  When did YCR break off the relationship?  Why?  What does it have to do with the quesitons about Birkey’s links to Somali prostitution?

On March 27, 2009, District Court Judge Stephen Halsey granted Old Paths Church, Inc. and YCR, Inc. their motion for a summary judgment against Stoll that terminated Stoll’s trusts, removed Stoll as trustee, transferred assets from the trusts back to the two original entities, and awarded attorneys fees plus the $6,500 they paid Stoll to create the sham ministerial trusts.

I’m getting a headache, now.   Would someone provide the who, what, when, where, why and how of some of these allegations?

The Minnesota Independent examined some of Smith’s financial dealings in 2009 when new IRS 990 forms showed that he and his band mates were taking a ministerial housing allowance despite his organization being a religious non-profit as opposed to a church. Those housing allowances are meant only for “duly ordained” members of the clergy. Smith has refused to answer questions related to his ordination or which church his organization belongs to.

OK, I’m shaking off my headache; I have more questions.  To ask.

  • So since the court case against Stoll – whose relationship to Dean and YCR is the subject of Birkey’s entire article – happened before 2009, what does this have to do with any “tax evasion” scheme?
  • Does Birkey know what “duly ordained” means?  No, I don’t either.  I’m just asking questions.  Is the “due”-ness of Dean’s ordination a legal issue?  If so, how?  Under what part of the IRS code?  Is anyone but Karl Bremer alleging that Dean is operating illegally?
  • Is Dean legally obliged to answer questions about his employment to Andy Birkey?
  • Given the geneology of the O’Connor quote, above, did Birkey even ask Dean?  To whom did Dean “refuse” to answer?  Details?  Again, I’m just asking questions.

I’m just…well, you know.

In 2008, Smith and his sidekick MacAuley, greatly increased their compensation and housing allowance. According to the group’s most recent 990 filing, Smith was paid $51,303 salary and $45,887 for the housing allowance, raking in $97,190. MacAuley’s compensation was a bit less coming in at $66,897 in 2008.

So?

I mean, I’ve met Brad and Jake.  Brad’s got five kids, and he works like a sled dog.

Did he pay taxes?

Just asking.

Dean has not responded to repeated request for information about his ministry or a weekend request for comment on his association with Stoll.

And why would he?

(Just a question).

Dean and his ministry have close ties to the Republican Party and GOP officials and candidates including gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer,

If I had shown that that particular claim was a lie, would Andy Birkey stop making the claim…

…well, doy, I guess my answer’s right there!

Since I’m just asking questions, I talked with Bradlee Dean.  We both noted that Birkey was “raising questions”.

“If the question was “did Bradlee Dean pay his taxes”, the answer is “yes”", he said.

Well, enough of that.  All those questions give me a headache.

I just love South Park.  Let’s watch that clip again!

He’s so funny.

UPDATE: Is Andy Birkey trying to concoct some grandiloquent link between the GOP on the one hand and a shadowy conspiracy of Christianist Tom-Petters-wannabees, to appease the appetites of his lords and masters at Media Matters (who pull the strings behind the Center for “Independent” Media, which controls every facet of the operations of its “independent” websites like the Mindy for dirt?

This article raises questions.

UPDATE 2:  I should start a bet pool for how many articles about Brad Dean that Birkey writes this years.  Last year was 23; I think the over/under in a non-election year will be more like 18.

Place  your bets.

I’m just asking questions here.

UPDATE 3:  I see that that bit above wasn’t actually a question.

Chanting Points Memo: Overpowered By Innocuous

I have this friend; let’s call her “Lydia”.  ”Literal Lydia”, we called her in high school.  She was a little anal-retentive.  She sorted her sock drawer by thickness.   She reportedly brushed her teeth before and after giving a talk in speech class.  She pronounced the “g” in words like “Knowing” and “Sailing” and “Talking”; “if it’s in writing, that’s how it’s supposed to be”, she always said.

Back when we were filling out our high school yearbooks, I made the mistake of writing “Thanks a Million!” to one of our other classmates.  She saw my yearbook, and looked at me.  ”You neither said nor wrote thank you a million times!  You are a liar!”

“But it’s just a figure of spee…” I started to try to explain.

What’s in writing is the only reality!” she bellowed.

A few years later – ten, to be exact, since I long since learned one must be exact when talking about, to, or in reference to Literal Lydia – I called her to tell her that my oldest had been born.

“What’s the name?”, Lydia asked.

“Bun [*]“, I responded.

“Did you file a birth certificate yet?” Lydia demanded.

“Well, not yet…”

Then she has no name!”, Lydia bellowed.  “Because the written word is the only reality there is!”

Lydia worked as an actualry for about ten years after college, but she got fired for harshing the other actuaries’ mellow.

She might be a liberal blogger today.

———-

You’re running for governor.

You’re facing an opponent who can outspend you 3-1 just out of his own personal checkbook, who can finance a campaign by unloading a Renoir or two for more money than you will ever make in your life, your spouse’s life, and your kids’ lives.  Your opponent’s campaign is backstopped by a media that is thoroughly in the bag for your opponent.  You are on the road eight days a week, between debates, campaign stops and fundraisers.  Your staff – small, young, underpaid and and running more on Red Bull than cash – is doing the work of a couple of staffs.

So given the above, triage the following activities:

  1. Make it to your campaign events on time.
  2. Get to your fundraising events on time and rarin’ to go.
  3. Update niggling paperwork, especially paperwork that has no legal requirement for the timeliness of any updates.

Which of the above a) must you do, which will you b) do the best you can, and c) which miiiiiight just fall through the cracks?

If “3″ is anything but “c”, you have no future as a shoestring underdog campaigner.  However, I know a chick named Lydia who might dig you…

Lydia would dig Jeff Rosenberg of MnPublius. Jeffthinks he’s onto something; he and his blog-mate Zack Stevenson appearently noticed that while Mark Buesgens had left the Emmer Campaign on September 13, the state Campaign Finance Board website still showed Buesgens as the campaign’s chairman.

The Emmer campaign had apparently had the temerity to insist that Buesgens had left the campaign on the 13th to take a position at the Minnesota GOP.

The Emmer campaign, instead of just telling the truth and admitting that its campaign chair made a mistake, fell back on its time-honored practice of trying to mislead Minnesotans. They claimed Buesgens was no longer the campaign chair, when in fact he had been attending functions as campaign chair just the day before.

Now, Rosenberg presents no evidence of any such appearances, so I have no real way of running this down; I don’t attend many campaign events. But apparently the Star/Tribune, in covering Buesgens’ arrest, was under the same “delusion“:

Emmer and Buesgens were together briefly earlier that day at a campaign event, Emmer’s campaign said. [The Strib writers, Baird Helgeson and Paul Walsh, apparently didn't notice anything about Buesgens being introduced as a chairman]

Buesgens was Emmer’s campaign manager from June through the weekend before the primary in August.

Buesgens also served as a consultant for Emmer, but a campaign spokesman said his last day was Sept. 12. Buesgens now works as a consultant for the state Republican Party, said Mark Drake, a party spokesman.

Seems pretty clear-cut to me.

It does to Rosenberg, too – but not in the same way that most of us think:

When the news broke yesterday, Emmer sent a letter to the Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board asking that his registration be changed, and backdated by a week.

Did Emmer really think nobody would find out that he did this? He could have told the truth and admitted Rep Buesgens made a mistake, and that would have been the end. Instead, his first inclination was apparently to lie about it.

And here’s the “smoking gun”; a fax from the Emmer campaign to the Campaign Finance Board:

So – we have a fax, sent a week after the effective date of Buesgens’ job change, to a state bureaucracy, asking them to change the Campaign Chair listing.

Obviously there’s a coverup.

Well, if you presume that everything the Emmer campaign told the Strib, and sent out in their press release on Buesgen’s departure, was false.

The problem is, it’s not.

I talked with MN GOP spokesman Mark Drake.  On the record.  Mark Buegens started with the party on September 13 – exactly as the Strib was told.  Exactly as the press release said.  ”These conspiracy theories are just wrong”, Drake added with a chuckle.

Speaking on background, another source at the Minnesota GOP said that while the party isn’t giong to release payroll records to the public, they do in fact show that Buesgens started with the party on…

…September 13.

Just like the campaign said.

It’s also only an issue if there’s any statutory deadline for reporting staff changes to the Campaign Finance Board.  Did the campaign stretch any rules, much less break any laws, by waiting a week to notify them, inadvertently or not?

I don’t know the rules on this – and I’m going to guess Rosenberg and Stevenson don’t either – but I’m gonna guess the answer is no.

Oh, and the one-week-late, “smoking gun” fax?

So why would the DFL and their affiiliated bloggers be carping about this – words fail me – mind-numbingly trivial paperwork bobble, when their candidate Mark Dayton just released another budget that falls billions short of balancing the budget even as it mercilessly punishes initiative and merit…

…oh, yeah.  Never mind.

Continue reading

Chanting Points Memo: Emmer’s “Big Lie”

Did Tom Emmer lie?

No.

But we’ll come back to that.  We’ve got a bit of business to take care of first.

———-

It’s time to inaugurate a new Berg’s Law.  These laws of human and political behavior are based on decades of observing people and their behavior, and, as “laws”, have passed beyond mere theory.

Anyway – there were nine.  Now there are ten.  Here’s the new one:

Berg’s Tenth Law of Quantum Context: When a liberal says a conservative is “lying”, the odds of the “lie” being merely an ambiguity triggerging some form of cognitive dissonance increases in geometric proportion with the volume and stridency of the liberal’s declaration.

That law will rear its head shortly.

———-

If there’s one thing I like about Tom Emmer, it’s that he’s a real guy.

When Emmer talks, you know you’re getting Tom Emmer, and not some slickee-boy focus-group-polished polibot facade.   That’s played against the part of his public image his opponents and the Twin Cities media (they are, at an institutional level, one and the same) have chosen to spotlight; “he has a temper”, intones a Twin Cities media that spent a couple of decades covering for congenital martinet Mike Hatch’s Queeg-like administration at the Attorney General’s office and his legendary temper.

He’s a big, beefy guy with an iron handshake and a sense of dynamic magnetism that wins people over when they actually meet him – which is why the DFL and media (pardon the redundancy) are playing such eager ball on “Alliance For A Better Minnesota”‘s smear campaign.

Which shows off, by the way, some of the media’ s hypocrisy; their editorials will bemoan, for three years at a shot, the impossibility of “real people”, with families and warts and skeletons and real-life jobs and careers and stories, getting into politics, and how opposition research will eventually limit the political gene pool to people who’ve bred themselves for campaigning from childhood – people who can not possibly related to regular voters.  And then we get exactly such a regular guy – and the media spends two months misrepresenting his civil court records and his 20-and-30-year-old reckless driving convictions.

Anyway: like most people, Emmer’s great strength is also a weakness.  His passion for his cause and his campaign, and everything it stands for, makes every room he’s in positively throb with energy.  That’s a huge strength;  watching Emmer on a stage with with his opponents is a study in contrasts; Tom Horner is like a human MP3 player loaded with message lines stuck on “shuffle”; Mark Dayton looks like he’s about to demand to go watch Wapner.  Emmer, on the other hand, is sharp, engaged, and thinks on his feet as well as anyone in Minnesota politics.

As opposed to “consistently repeats a rehearsed, focus-grouped, finely-tuned message vetted by his message cops”.

And that’s the downside of Emmer’s big strength; he occasionally ad-libs; often it’s a home run; sometimes he fans; once in a while – the tip flap – he bats into a double play.

I give Emmer – or anyone who speaks exemporaneously but genuinely, including the likes of Paul Wellstone, who was a spotty public speaker but nothing if not geuine, warts and all – a lot of slack.  Because that’s how real people who are passionate about what they think and believe speak; straight from the gut, damn the torpedoes.

I like that quality in Emmer, because that’s how I speak.  I’m usually dead-on; I occasionally muff one.  I pick myself up, dust myself off, and go forth to kick more ass.

———-

So the other day, Emmer released the first installment of his budget plan.  It is, for the moment, a high-level set of goals and principles, as befits a guy from the party not in power (yeah, Pawenty’s the goverrnor, but his power, brilliantly as he’s exercised it, has been entirely defensive).

And as part of presenting that installment, Emmer said that the  proposal had been vetted by the Department of Revenue.

Someone from DoR, asked later that day, said that “Emmer’s plan” had not been vetted.

“Lie!”, screamed the usual assortment of DFL chanting-point bots in the blogs and on Twitter.

That’s where Berg’s Tenth Law comes in.

I talked with two different sources close to the episode.  Both said that Emmer – speaking extemporaneously and on a bit of a roll – wrote a rhetorical check that the bank needed to run through two times; he mis-spoke just a tad.  Because “the plan” had not, in its entirety, been vetted by the DoR.

But every single part of it, individually, has been.

Because there is, in fact, nothing new in Emmer’s plan.  All of it has come out in one proposal in the house or another over the past few years, from the conservative bloc led by Emmer and Mark Buesgens and Laura Brod and Keith Downey and a few other notable fiscalcons.   And each of those proposals has, in turn, been vetted by DoR when they were going through the legislative process, according to the same two sources with intimate knowledge of the gestation of Emmer’s budget proposal.

So while nobody has walked Emmer’s entire budget proposal into the DoR and gotten the entire document signed off, there is nothing new in the proposal as far as the DoR is concerned.

More on that later.

So Emmer turned many small approvals, in the heat of the moment and on a stage at a moment when his campaign was making a great leap forward, into one big one that happened not to exist.

Is it a “lie?”

Depends on what the definition of the word “is” is, doesn’t it?

———-

So does a conflation of many approvals into one for purposes of giving a speech – an infinitesimal rhetorical bobble under any normal circumstances – make Tom Emmer a bad candidate?

Hell no.  The underlying facts are worthy of debate (which is why the media and the DFL chanting point bots are focusing so hard on everything but the underlying facts).  So what if Tom Emmer bobbles the occasional I or T?  I will take a real, genuine person with passion for his principles every single time, all other things being equal, over a focus-grouped talking-point-bot.

Every single time.

So, I think, would most Minnesotans, if they thought about it.

Which is why the Twin Cities media and the DFL’s noise machine is trying to keep people from thinking about it.

Rejected

The basketball program at Minneapolis Community and Technical College is on the chopping block.

The program has grown from a run-of-the-mill junior college program into a national powerhouse among two-year colleges, under the leadership of coach Jay Pivec.  He’s got plenty of experience turning obscure colleges into basketball powers; if memory serves, he came to MCTC in ’89 or ’90 from (I hope I remember this correctly) Havre, Montana – whose college he also took to the bigs.  And before that, he coached my alma mater, Jamestown, turning it’s hoops program into an improbable success.  Jay also coached my one phy-ed class – Tennis, I think – where our only real subject in common was Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.  We have more in common now, of course; his wife, MLP, writes the excellent blog  Casual Sundays with Mr. Curry; his sister-in-law, Katie McCollow, ran the late, lamented Yucky Salad With Bones.

At any rate – MCTC’s basketball program is to college hoops what junior/community college is supposed to be for college; a place for students who are late bloomers or who slipped off “the rails” in high school to get their act together and move on to “regular” college, or at least down some path with a better education.  Unlike so much in public education, MCTC’s program (actually programs – the women’s program does the same thing), it works:

Most MCTC players lacked grades or money. Some of the players live at home to save money; some have kids of their own. Lindahl said he holds practice between 6 and 8 a.m. because he knows his players have other responsibilities, and Pivec and Gates are widely known for salvaging the careers, if not lives, of at-risk players…Last year, the men’s coaches helped Cortez Wallace land a scholarship at Western Missouri. Pivec and Gates found Wallace, who dropped out of high school in the 10th grade, playing AAU ball. They pushed him to get his GED, recruited him and gave him a future.

“Coach Gates and coach Piv have done so much for me, helped me get jobs, helped me get work-study,” said women’s player Natalye Horne. “Coach Piv and coach Gates especially treat me like a second daughter. This program is like a family, and now they’re breaking it up.”

Guard Sondra Jones said: “For a lot of people, this is a stepping stone to something bigger. But the administration looks at this as an option instead of a priority.”

Freshman point guard Freddie Burton could have left the program once he found it was doomed but said, “I’ll just try my luck here. I like the program. I really don’t know what I’m going to do next year.

“Damn that Pawlenty and his LGA cuts!”

Well, no – it was a fairly capricious-looking decision by the MCTC student senate – the DFLers of tomorrow:

Last year, the school’s Student Senate and Student Life Budget Committee decided that basketball was not a high priority, and school President Phil Davis accepted the recommendation to withdraw funding for the program. That silly process — letting students who will spend a maximum of two years on campus decide the fate of a traditionally powerful program run by two dedicated lifelong coaches — leaves the Mavericks renowned yet doomed.

The crazy part? The program is excellence on the cheap:

While some players are circulating petitions to fund the programs, Davis has made it clear that the program would have to be financially independent, requiring $118,000 a year.

$118K?

There are Twin Cities’ corporations for whom 118 large is a week’s philanthropic giving.  Given the amount of money society as whole saves – I’m saying this with absolutely no intention to condescend – on future social costs for the people the program turns around – it’s a bargain.

There are Timberwolves players with $118,000 under the seat cushions in their Bentleys.

You’re going to tell me someone out there can’t cover that?

Words In Search Of Meaning

Let’s take a trip back through the history of Nick Coleman.

In 2004, to impugn Governor Pawlenty’s budget-cutting platform, he paid a potemkin visit to an inner city school (one where my daughter had attended kindergarten) and bellowed “YOUR SCHOOLS ARE BURNING” – as if the academic and social failure, financial wastrelcy and generalized collapse of public schools were something that only happened under Republican governors who twiddled with the budget (and hardly touched education funding).  It was a fairly bald-faced swat at the governor and the state’s thin film of fiscal conservatives.

And, of course, it was wrong.  Theatrical, and wrong.

Later still in 2004, when Coleman tried to tie the idea that people had to go all the way to Minneapolis for free flu shots to Pawlenty:

“It was time to leave the PROFESSIONAL BUILDING. I wished everyone good health and walked out onto Hennepin Avenue. When I looked down the street and squinted, I could almost see Lakewood Cemetery, four blocks away. The gates were open.”

In 2007, Nick Coleman – bailing desperately as his effort to tie the 35W Bridge disaster to budget-cutting slipped beneath the waves – reacted badly to news that engineers were about to tie the collapse to an unfortunate but fairly mundane and utterly non-political material failure; “get ready to be gusseted”, he snorted, like a third-rate illusionist hoping to push back the laws of physics by the sheer force of his rhetoric.

So are we starting to see a pattern?

After seven years of success at taming the state budget monster and running a state that just plain runs better than most of the rest of the country – especially better than the liberal cesspools that Coleman seems to admire so much – Pawlenty is spending the legislative off-season pre-campaigning for President.  And that means knocking around the country.

And just like the burning schools and magic cemetary gates and flying gusset plates, Coleman’s going to try to twist it into some sort of malfeasance.

Because for some reason, Coleman thinks Pawlenty has left something undone back home:

It’s called Minnesota, and although Pawlenty can find 49 other states, he’s having trouble feeling his way around his home state. For good reason: Minnesota’s problems could trip up his ambitions. As Pawlenty travels the Republican rubber chicken circuit, Minnesota is heading into uncharted waters.

And its governor is AWOL.

Minnesota’s “uncharted waters” are these: things are tough, but better than in most of the country.  We have a nasty budget situation – but at least the Governor balanced it (over the DFL’s politically dead body).

But to Coleman, it’s not about substance or those pesky numbers.  It’s about appearances – in this case, appearing to take the yapping schnauzers of his opposition seriously [emphasis added by me]:

Pawlenty’s refusal to participate in a legislative summit designed to stave off looming fiscal disaster was nothing less than nonfeasance. Instead of doing his job at the Capitol last week, Pawlenty attended a shmoozefest in Eden Prairie, surrounded by business leaders and loyalists (not to mention his adoring staff). In shirking his duty, he broke faith with voters and broke bonds with the legacy of his party.

This may be the most perfectly, inscrutably dumb paragraph Coleman has ever written.  I have literally spent five minutes trying to encapsulate the torrent of dumb and wrong; the best I can come up with is a list:

  1. The “legislative summit” is a do-nothing charade being thrown by his incompetent, spendthrift opposition to try to make them look like they’re marginally less useless than they are.
  2. Er, Nick?  Wasn’t the premise that the Governor was galavanting around the country and couldn’t find his way around Minnesota?  You do know that Eden Prairie is in Minnesota, right?
  3. “Nonfeasance” is not a word.
  4. Not to be pedantic, but neither is “Shmoozefest”.  It’s “Schmoozefest”.
  5. It seems a bit of an abuse of rhetorical license to say that Pawlenty’s staff “adores” him; worse still to say it as if it’s a bad thing.  Perhaps Coleman’s experiences at the Strib newsroom have programmed him to think colleagues should hate each other?

It gets worse:

The Capitol event drew dozens of former state government leaders,

[I'm wondering; I know who elects "government leaders", but I am trying to think who elects or selects "former government leaders?"  What is their significance?  Why would we care what they think?  Get back to me on that...]

including a bevy of mainstream Minnesota Republicans such as former governors Al Quie and Arne Carlson, who warned the state is steering toward an iceberg with no captain at the helm. He was correct: The “captain” has gotten his own boat and is rowing toward the horizon.

I’m going to depart for a moment from fisking Coleman, and take a shot at fisking the entire DFL. The whole “Arne Carlson was the mainstream” meme was the DFL’s dork-fingered version of Alinsky’s approach to campaigning long before anyone in Minnesota had heard of Saul Alinsky.  Of course, Arne Carlson is not a mainstream Republican. He’s a throwback to a pre-1976 world (which survived until 1998 in Minnesota, where the Reagan Revolution bypassed the MNGOP for twenty-odd years), trotted out purely to try to score points against the GOP.

But the lesson of this last two elections – conservatives win, “moderates” lose – is so obvious, even the MNGOP seems to have been getting it lately.

Both major parties — and the governor — share responsibility for the deep partisan divide that is hampering solutions to Minnesota’s problems. They also share a responsibility to put the state on sound footing.

And, unlike the DFL – which dithered its way through the session, thumbing its nose at the GOP all the way, and then tried to ram through a bloated monstrosity of a spending bill at the last second behind a foul rhetorical cloud of demands for “bipartisanship NOW!” – Pawlenty carried that responsibility out.  He fought – alone – against a two-chamber press.

And won.Twice.

I think he’s carried out his responsibility – the job for which he was elected – just fine.

Now, of course I’ve saved the worst for last.  As I predicted on the show this past Saturday, Coleman – being purely a monkey of the Minnesota mushy-left establishment – is so devoid of insight that he has to resort to casual defamation.

For a guy who acted as if the sky was falling when the president asked to speak to schoolchildren, Pawlenty sure seems laid back about his own obligations. He has dived so deep into the right-wing tide pool that by Thursday, he had joined Sarah Palin and a few other GOP confederates in threatening to invoke the 10th Amendment — in effect having Minnesota secede from the union on health care reform with little regard for the effect on Minnesota’s 450,000 uninsured citizens.

“Secede from the union”.  Just like those slave owners.  Tenth Amendment equal slavery!

Tim Pawlenty is too busy primping for the GOP presidential beauty contest and bizarrely making himself into a financial Pollyanna. Predictions put the next deficit at as high as three or four times the 2009 deficit — and without billions in federal stimulus funds to help close the gap.

Then perhaps the lesson will not be lost on Minnesotans; it’s time to quit electing  spendthrift DFLers to the Legislature.

But Pollyanna’s take on the coming crisis: “It’s a very manageable number,” he told the lovefest in Eden Prairie.

Waiter, I’d like whatever he’s having.

All together now:  Nick, you’ve had more than enough.  You’ve always had more than enough.

UPDATE:  A commenter notes that Coleman’s “prediction” – that next year’s deficit could be four times what it was projected for this year – would mean the deficit would be 85% as large as the budget itself.

And while I put nothing past the DFL, especially the current horde of hamsters in the Senate and House, that seems just a tad implausible.

So far.

Enumerating Powers

Since the Heller decision last summer, pride of place as the second-most-misinterpreted and underenforced part of the Bill of Rights has devolved to the Tenth Amendment.

That looks like it could change, with eleven states proposing laws that’d nullify federal trespasses onto powers reserved to the states – tresspasses that are part and parcel of The One’s plan so far:

State governors — looking down the gun barrel of long-term spending forced on them by the Obama “stimulus” plan — are saying they will refuse to take the money.  This is a Constitutional confrontation between the federal government and the states unlike any in our time.

In the first five weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama has acted so rashly that at least 11 states have decided that his brand of “hope” equates to an intolerable expansion of the federal government’s authority over the states. These states — Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, California, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas — have passed resolutions reminding Obama that the 10th Amendment protects the rights of the states, which are the rights of the people, by limiting the power of the federal government. These resolutions call on Obama to “cease and desist” from his reckless government expansion and also indicate that federal laws and regulations implemented in violation of the 10th Amendment can be nullified by the states.

As befits a states’ rights issue, the issues are very different:

For example, Family Security Matters reports that Missouri’s “House Concurrent Resolution 0004 (2009) reasserts its sovereignty based on Barack Obama’s stated intention to sign into law a federal ‘Freedom of Choice Act’, [because] the federal Freedom of Choice Act would nullify any federal or state law ‘enacted, adopted, or implemented before, on, or after the date of [its] enactment’ and would effectively prevent the State of Missouri from enacting similar protective measures in the future.”

The resolution in Montana grew out of concerns over coming attacks on the 2nd Amendment, thus its preface describes it as, “An Act Exempting From Federal Regulation Under The Commerce Clause Of The Constitution Of The United States A Firearm, A Firearm Accessory, Or Ammunition Manufactured And Retained In Montana.”

New Hampshire’s resolution actually references certain federal actions that would be nullified within that state were they pushed by Obama’s administration, according to americandaily.com. Among these are “Any act regarding religion; further limitations on freedom of political speech; or further limitations on freedom of the press, [and any] further infringements on the right to keep and bear arms including prohibitions of type or quantity of arms or ammunition.

Absent from the list:  Minnesota.

I suppose that’d require us to be controlled by a party that was more attached to the Constitution than to the thrill of being in power.

For now.

Cuts Down On Bills

Mail delivery stops in on a Chicago-area block  deemed too dangerous by the Post Office:

Dozens of mailboxes remain empty after the post office suspends service in one south suburban neighborhood…The U.S. Post Office seems to think that this is one of the most dangerous blocks in the country. People who live on it say they haven’t gotten any mail delivered to their homes in almost two weeks.

How dangerous?

“Between robberies and shootings and delayed police response, several things going on, that would make it unsafe,” said Harvey resident Venus Jones.

One of those shootings on the morning of October 10th reportedly happened yards away from the mail carrier. That’s when the mail stopped on Marshfield between 151st and 152nd streets, but the post office didn’t tell anyone.

“Some of the people didn’t even know that it was being held at the post office,” Jones said.

Now Jones, who says her own home has been broken into three times in 30 days is talking to her neighbors about the mail problem and what should happen next.

Sounds bad.

Good thing the rights of the the law abiding citizens in the area to own guns are more tightly restricted than any place in the country!  Goodness knows how bad it’d be then, right?

The Audacity of Authoritarianism

Good thing Chicago bans gun ownership by law-abiding civilians!
Otherwise, goodness knows how bad this weekend of gang violence might have been!

A violent and deadly weekend continues in Chicago. At least 12 people have been shot, two of them killed, since Saturday morning. This comes after at least 20 people were shot, four of them killed, from Friday night through early Saturday.

A 28-year-old man was shot and killed at an auto body repair shop on the Southwest Side Saturday morning. Raul Lemus was shot in the stomach at 2520 W. 59th St. at about 11:20 a.m.

Lemus, of 4630 S. Talman Av., died several hours later at Stroger Hospital, making him the sixth person killed in Chicago since Friday night. Police said the shooting appeared to be gang related.

Also Saturday morning, Michael Giles, 26, was shot and killed inside his home at 336 N. Avers Av. Harrison Area detectives are investigating.

Because, as everyone knows, if you keep “assault rifles” out of the hands of the law-abiding citizen, gang-bangers will be disarmed.

Really!

In another case, a suspect toting an AK-47 has been charged with murder and three counts of attempted murder after allegedly killing a man and shooting at police. Bennie Teague of 6200 S. Sacramento Av. is due in bond court Sunday afternoon.

It’s amazing no one was hurt during the shootout between police and Teague, who was firing an assault rifle.

(…other than the guy he’s already murdered from among the pack of defenseless sheeple that he could have killed before the police arrived, naturally).

Police say the gunman opened fire on them Friday night at 110th and South Union. They tracked him down after he allegedly shot and killed 34-year-old Marcus Hendricks inside a plumbing business a few blocks away.

Y’know, it’ll only be a few more decades of complete disarmament before the people of Chicago will be rendered safe from this kind of thing!