Frequently Asked Questions XV

It’s been a few years since I’ve done one of these. It’s probably high time.

Why don’t you manage your comment section more thoroughly?
I work a day job, a couple side hustles, I try to have some semblance of a life outside of all of them…

…and, call me pollyannaish, but I wonder why I should have to? And I know, I know – we’re all grownups, but we’re really not all grownups, either. Such is the nature of online forums – they bring out the worst in some people.

What’s your comment policy?
I still have one of those. I always tried to keep things simple. I summed it up in one of these FAQ pieces a while back. All I ask is:

  1. Don’t write something that’ll get me in legal trouble
  2. If your entire reason for being on the blog is to personally bash me – not an article, or my reasoning, but me, personally, over and over and over – then it’s not me, it’s you, and you and this blog will be parting company.

Perhaps I’ve gotten spoiled – I haven’t had a lot of problems since about 2010. But there you go.

Hey, you removed a comment of mine, even though (fill in name) regularly says things that are far worse. What gives?
Posting a comment doesn’t connote agreement. What do you think I am, Sally Jo Sorenson? But I give a lot more leeway to people I know, and have met personally. I know where they live, at least, figuratively. I know that they aren’t going to “Swat” me, start blogs to publicize “dirt” on me (well, try to.. There really isn’t a whole lot), or start poking at my kids.

With anonymous commenters – people I’ve never met, and likely never will – it’s a little different. I allow anonymous and pseudonymous commenters, and nd pointedly respect their pseudonymity – until the behavior swerves to the wrong side of the risk/reward line.

But what about threadjacking?
Yeah, I’ll whack the occasional threadjack, if it’s obnoxious enough.

But hey – you knew “Dog Gone”. You allowed her increasingly dissociative ranting for about a decade. And then, poof , she was gone. Doesn’t that contradict what you wrote above?
Hardly. I tolerated DG because it was fun watching her narrative – that conservative commenters were a bunch of idiots – get pummeled like the New York Generals. For about a decade, it was a perfect metaphor for modern society – a “progressive” with no particular visible expertise in anything, getting factually rumbled by a comment section that includes lawyers, MDs, a literal rocket scientist, engineers and generally well-read polymaths mirrors the modern social debate pretty perfectly.

Then she started using the fact that she had met me, and did know my kids (when they were 1 and 3, anyway), and took a creepy turn…

…and she got flushed like a gas station burrito and tequila, the morning after.

Does a commenter violate the “Hands Off” principle? Dog Gone did. Other commenters who are the subject of occasional complaints never have, and I suspect never will.

That’s pretty much it.

So that’s it? It’s all about you?
Well, in a sense, duh. The whole blog is about me, if you think about it. I’m the only (regular) writer.

I loathe echo chambers – as a personal matter, and a practical one. Intellectually, I’m still pollyanna enough to think in terms of political and social engagement as a “debate”, rather than mobilizing support to “own” or destroy “the enemy”.

Glad we could chat.

Frequently Asked Questions XIV

Who Is Joe Doakes?  Is he just a pseudonym for…Mitch Berg? – I get this a lot.  I have to chuckle a good-natured chuckle when I do; I’ve written something like 20,000 posts on this blog over the years; I do not need a medium for additional writing on this blog.  That’d be like Rush Limbaugh coming up with some character voice to do another talk show.

Joe Doakes is in fact a pseudym for a local lawyer.  He writes under a pen name because – he’s a local lawyer.

That’s the whole story.

You used to read and report on what a lot of Democrat-leaning blogs were writing about.  You don’t so much anymore.  Why?   I waste less time by just subscribing to the Alliance for a “Better” Minnesota email blasts.

Some of your commenters have to be sock puppets:  Nope.  Never done it, never will.  Oh, it’s been tempting – the idea of abandoning my stentorian detachment under the cover of a fictitious identity and just cutting loose.  But no, ever done it.

Isn’t it high time you updated the DFL Dictionary?:  Oh, yeah  Great idea.  Stay tuned.   More to come shortly.

In your various pieces about “Protect Minnesota”, “Everytown” and “Moms Want Action”, you’ve referred to something called “ELCA Hair” to describe members of the groups.  What do you mean?  That’s a good question; it’s probably pretty opaque to people who aren’t familiar with liberal culture in Minnesota.

There’s something of a “uniform” among upper-middle-class white liberals in Minnesota.  This “uniform” – it’s got plenty of variations, but work with me here – generally includes:

  • a degree from Carlton, Saint Thomas, Macalester, Saint Olaf or the Humphrey Institute
  • a Volvo or Subaru, frequently coated with virtue-signaling bumper stickers
  • “ELCA Hair”.

“ELCA Hair” is, loosely, a hairdo prominent among upper-middle-class white members of the “Evangelical Lutheran Church of America”, a liberal Lutheran synod centered in Minnesota.

What is it?  Well, it’s easier to show than to tell.

This photo is almost a museum-piece of ELCA Hair, something that could appear in an anthropological exhibit:

Every person visible in this photo exhibits a flavor of “ELCA Hair” (except the woman at the microphone; Minnesota liberalism grants Jewish liberals  an exemption from ELCA Hair).  The ‘do is the most effective frame for a face that’s sagged into place from, and for, a lifetime of self-righteous scowling.

Let’s look next at the photo below.  There are several subspecies of “ELCA Hair” in this photo:

  • The young man on the left wears the cut acceptable for men below the age of about 34, provided they work for a non-profit.  At 35, they morph into the versions in the photo above.
  • The three women adjacent to him exhibit the ‘do deemed acceptable to women below roughly age 33.
  • The second woman from the left in the back row has just turned 35; she has hacked her shoulder-length hair off at the ears, apparently to keep her Whole Foods club card.

For men, it’s parted, just long enough to look a wee bit raffish and “counterculture”, just short enough to not draw attention.   And beards are apparently not grown until they are guaranteed to grow in gray (and kept neatly trimmed under all circumstances).

For women?  It stands to reason that ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, the leader of the denomination, has it,  And she surely does…:

(Bishop Eaton is a little bit unusual; most women with ELCA Hair go gray once they reach about 38 years old.  I suspect divine intervention).

Anyway – that’s it for today!



Frequently Asked Questions, Part XII

“Why do you allow commenters like “Dog Gone” to do their “Poop and run” commenting, leaving big, easily-debunked comments and never sticking around to defend their mendacity?”  I’ve been blogging almost 14 years, and had a comment section most of that time.  The goal of that comment section has always been to give readers a place to discuss what they think about what I’ve written.  In that time, my policy has always been to never ban anyone, unless

  1. They write something that’ll get me in legal trouble
  2. Their entire reason for being on the blog is to personally bash me.  Not an article, or my reasoning, but me, personally, over and over and over.

Between the two, I’ve probably actually banned half a dozen people in 14 years.  Many of you can probably name them.

I’ve always figured it was more important to have a discussion than an echo chamber – a sentiment the left doesn’t largely subscribe to, by the way – so I let most of it go.  On my show, in fact, liberal callers get on first.  It’s policy.

I do this because I still cling to the notion that discussion is a dying art in this country.

Am I getting tired of the “poop and run” style of commenting?  Sure.  It’s intellectually dishonest; using someone else’s discussion space to dump an argument that one never intends to (and, usually, can’t) defend is basically spam.

“Why do you oppose switching to the metric system?”  I don’t.  I oppose another extended, expensive government program to try to force the general public to use metric in their daily lives.

You ever notice how almost everyone in the Netherlands can communicate in German and English?  How most everyone in Belgium can do a sort of French and Dutch, and usually English to boot?   How Germans very often speak excellent English and decent French, and how Swiss are functionally trilingual?   And how often liberals sniff down their noses and say this is evidence of American provincialism?

It’s not; it’s because European “nations” are the size of US states – and these days, they have about the same barriers between them.   Can you imagine if Wisconsin, the Dakotas and Iowa all spoke different languages than Minnesota?  You’d have a lot of quadrilingual Minnesotans!  Fact is, Europeans need to get around in several languages – so they do.

It works the same with measurement systems.  Just as Belgium and Canada have two languages, America operates, unofficially, with two systems of measurement; one for scientists, engineers, a few people in foreign trade and the military, and one for the rest of us.  Any American who needs to be fluent in metric, is – and translates between the two, if not fluently, then functionally; three kilometers is two miles, a kilogram is 2.2 pounds, a liter is 1.1 quarts, 2.5 acres to a Hectare, an inch is 2.5 centimeters, a meter is 1.1 yards, a foot is 304 mm – it’s just not that hard, and for those translations that are too hard, Siri and Google can calculate even if doing it on a calculator or spreadsheet is too complicated.

There.  I just saved the taxpayer millions of dollars.

“A Good Guy with a Gun is teh falesy!”:   Well, no – it‘s not.

“You are teh Christeean.  You hate teh SCIENCE cuz you believe teh Earth is 4,000 years old!”:  Well, no.  The notion that the Genesis story is literal fact on par with empirical observation is very, very new; its’ only been accepted by parts of Christendom for less than 200 years.  The idea that the earth literally formed in seven days and that the listing of generations in Leviticus and Deuteronomy is, literally, a family tree that more or less precisely dates the universe would have seemed bizarre to Augustine and Aquinas.

There is, literally, nothing about an allegorical reading of the Genesis creation story that is at odds in any significant way with science.

Which is why critics like the ones I “quote” above – who are largely from the “lapsed Catholic with daddy issues” school of militant atheism – spend so much time bashing the “literalist” straw man.  It invalidates the one little thread they connecting them to that feeling of superiority they crave.

“Often, you seem to come across as arrogant and condescending”:  Toots, if I did bother wasting my precious time being arrogant to you, you’d be the last to figure it out.

“You say you’re a libertarian conservative – but there is no such thing!  You must pick one or the other!”:  No, I mustn’t.

American conservatism is built around several important ideas – including the idea that “new ideas have to pass a fairly stern burden of proof”.

Two of the ideas that American conservatives believe have passed that burden:

  1. Individual liberty is an intrinsically good thing.
  2. Without order, freedom is impossible

It’s one of those things that makes true intellectual conservatism so difficult; those are contradictory.  True conservatives recognize the conundrum that exists between the two, and fight constantly to navigate it as unobtrusively as possible.

Without liberty, order is just tyranny.  Without order, liberty is impossible – because to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the moral arc of history bends is long, but it bends toward barbarism.

That truism – and the conundrum – are the theme of a certain book that is on the market even as we speak!

Frequently Asked Questions XI

Are “Avery Librelle” and “Moonbeam Birkenstock” guys or girls?:  Isn’t it perfectly obvious?  I think that’s pretty clearly answered here.  Or at least I think so.

You only attack the left?  Why don’t you go after the miscreants on the right?  Especially in the GOP?:  That’s a fair cop, sort of.  Partly because we have a state full of media, “progressive” groups, “watchdog” non-profits and bloggers (pardon the serial redundancy) who already watch the right.   I’m adding balance in my homespun little way.  And partly because I generally agree with the right.  Because I’m a conservative!

And I attack the left more than the right because I reasonably believe that “the right” – conservatism – is a generally better, more valid, more noble idea than the “progressivism” of “the left”.  And “the left” is currently on the ascendant in this state and the US.

You will note – if accuracy is what you seek, and I’m just sure it is – that the most-viewed post in the history of this blog is entitled “Note to Bill Frist:  You Suck“.

You know who Bill Frist was.  Right?

So that means you’re biased!:  Well, duh.  I am, and I make no bones about it.  Although another part is this; I don’t do much “reporting” on whatever’s going on in the GOP’s bureaucracy because, frankly, the subject – bureaucracy – bores me.  You’ll note I rarely write about the inner workings of the DFL, either, and when I do, it’s usually to link to someone else’s writing.

Covering bureaucracies is like watching paint dry, or watching writers from the oldMinnesota Independenttrying to meet people at bars; it’s slow, nothing much happens, and it’s pretty predictable.

Conservatism is dead.  Millennials are deserting the GOP.  It’s time to update your approach:  That’s not a question.  But it brings up two questions.

First:  Since when have people under thirty ever been Republicans or conservatives?    Good lord, I’m almost as sick of hearing society has to jump to the wishes of “Millennials” as I am about Baby Boomers.

Second:  Why?  One of conservatism’s beliefs is that new ideas face a fairly stern burden of proof.  Which isn’t sexy for, say, marketers to try to sell, and it’s not something “young people” are disposed to believe, but it’s true.   So put your “new” ideas out there, and let’s debate!  The kicker is, ideas in the world of society and politics are like pop music; there really are no new ideas.  They’ve all been around for a while, and most of them are untried for a reason.  Which isn’t to say that something new, or a new take on something old, isn’t possible; it’s just that you need to make the sale.

Can you make the sale?

There is no difference between Republicans and Democrats!:  Again, mostly statements, not really questions, here.  But if that were true, wouldn’t at least one Republican have voted for Obamcare? 

So what about your various stalkers?:  Oh, them?  One of them has been pretty tame for a while here, as far as I can tell.  The other – well, I’ve been ignoring him for over a year and a half.  I think he misses the attention – he’s reportedly gone quite over the edge recently but – here’s the kicker – I wouldn’t know.  I read “his” material less than I read the Strib

Who do you support for Governor and Senator?:  I’m starting to develop some preferences.  But I’d never talk about ’em publicly. 

Part of it is that I genuinely don’t have my mind made up completely, and all the candidates have a lot more questions to answer – some of the, many many many more. 

And part of it is that if I did come out and express a preference now, five months before the convention, it’d be kinda hell on bookings for the show, now, wouldn’t it?

Keep ’em coming!

Frequently Asked Questions X

Hahahaha Merg!  You said armed guards wud stop mass merders!  And yet the armed guards at teh Navy Yerd didn’t stop the mass merder!  You are Pwn5d!”:  Er, for starters, I never said that armed guards were a panacaea – any more a guarantee than wearing a seatbelt guarantees everyone will survive every car accident.  They improve the odds.  Maybe by a lot.  And at any rate, armed guards in schools are a partial solution at best – the last thing schools in particular need is to feel more like police states than they already do.  No, I advocate allowing law-abiding citizens with carry permits to defend themselves.  Because it works.

After the killer at the Navy Yard shot the armed guard, I’m gonna guess at least a couple of the sailors in the building might have wished they’d have had access to some sort of firearm.  Just saying.

Hahaha, Merg!  Bradlee Dean’s ministry has gone belly up!  Hahah!:  Yeah, I see that

Why don’t you try to get Tom Mischke on the NARN someday as a guest?:  Hey – not a bad idea. 

Hahaha!  You and Bradlee Dean were BFFs!:  Well, no – his show was on after mine.  Then it wasn’t.  He’s a nice guy in person.  I disagree with a good chunk of his theology.  End of story.

Well, almost.  As I showed over the past couple of years, whatever you want to say about Bradlee Dean’s organization and theology and beliefs – and I might agree with you about some of it – a huge chunk of what Andy Birkey and the late Karl Bremer wrote about the guy was unvarnished bullshit. 

There.  That’s the end of story. 

Why did you block me on Twitter and Facebook?  Can’t you handle an argument?:  I don’t go on Facebook to argue. Sometimes they come to me, but what are you gonna do?  Seriously.  Anyway – as re Twitter?  I love a good debate.  But here’s the catch – you weren’t debating, you were harangueing and arguing without logic, fact or reason.  To the extent you had an argument, it was boring, trite, illogical, a collection of chanting points I’m pretty sure you don’t understand, and a waste of time.  Sorry.  I’m sure you’re a fine human being in some corner of your life. 

Hey, Bergbrain!  Hahahaha!:  Oh, isn’t that special?

Hey, Merg!  Why are you complaining about Mark Dayton and the DFL?  Elections have consequences!:  Right. You’ll recall how the Alliance for a Better Minnesota shut up and walked away as a consequence of the 2010 Legislative elections, right? 

One vote that had consquences was the one that led to the First Amendment.  I know that annoys you.

The Obamcare and Defunding debate shows that the DFL is just as bad as the Democrats!  Ron Paul was right!  I’m going to protest by…by…going OFF THE GRID!:  So you’re going to migrate from Dante’s Third Circle of irrelevancy straight through to the Sixth?  

I mean, us “establishment” Republicans did warn you that politics was a marathon, not a sprint.  Right?  I’m pretty sure I did. 

You continually disagree with me in arguments.  You’re mentally ill:  Eureka.  You have brushed the scales from my eyes.  There is no response to your ineluctible logic. 

You’re right in every possible way, and always will be. 

Doesn’t it bug you that Jack Tomczak and Ben Kruse started a “hey gang, let’s do a radio show” thing just like the NARN did, but they’re on morning drive on a major station?”:  Not at all!  They’re great guys, and they certainly earned their shot.  

For me?  I love being on the air – more than just about anything in the world, actually – but the radio business is just about the worst thing in the world.  Salem Twin Cities, by the way, is a huge exception – they’re great people, and I’m not just saying that because they’ve put me on the for almost ten years now.   Anyway, unless a major-market station or network throws a good contract at me for enough money to leave the IT business, I’m perfectly happy doing weekends for the fun of it.

Not that I’d turn down that big honking contract, y’understand.  But I enjoy where things are; I get all the fun and none of the misery.

Frequently Asked Questions, Part IX

“Isn’t “Joe Doakes from Como Park” teh sock puppett?”: Yeah, right.  Think about this for a second (let’s assume for a moment you’re capable of it); why would I, on a blog where I’ve written well over 16,000 posts over 11 years, all of them under my own name (unlike the majority of gutless pseudonymic leftybloggers who slander and defame their betters from behind pseudonyms)  need to have a pseudonymic handle?  To write more?

I’d say “stop being an idiot”, but the sentence includes a three syllable word, so you might have trouble with it…

“Hah hah, Merg!  After a year or two of you saying Tom Bok and Paul Theeeessin would stonewall on Gay Marrege, they’re pushing it threw!  Hah hah!  You are teh looser!”: So hang on a minute – after starting the session setting the lowest expectations possible for gay marriage, and then having their first social policy initiative (the Martens/Latz gun grabs) go down in flames, the governor and Senate’s first tax and budget proposals arouse a firestorm of controversy, and enduring mocking from people like yours truly for their craven abandonment of the masses of low-information idealists who put them in office, you mean to say Tom Bakk and Paul Thissen did an about face and pushed hard for an easy short-term win to draw attention away from their failings on the budget, tax reform and, well, everything?

Huh.  Go figure.

“Mitch, why do you portray people who disagree with you in these “FAQ” pieces as cretins who misspell and pretty much audibly pant and drool like prehensile obscene phone callers?  Isn’t that a little prejudicial toward those who disagree with you?”: You haven’t met some of my critics, have you?

“You say you are teh conservative!  Yet you write about Bruse Sprengstein, and you bike to werk!  You are teh librel!”:  Your what hurts?

“Why do you hate gay people?”: I don’t.  Hate is a bad thing, and I don’t practice it.  And I suspect I’ve put more on the line against genuine hatred of gay people than most people.  Just saying; let it go.

Frequently Asked Questions, Part VIII

“Hey, why don’t you come over to teh MinnPost to debate?”:  For the same reason I don’t “debate” at MPR, or on much of any other website or blog.   Between my blog, Twitter and, I dunno, my freaking day job, not to mention trying to maintain a modestly-well-adjusted real life, I gotta draw the line somewhere.  I’ve given up a lot of online diversions lately .

And, let’s face it, the MinnPost’s comment section is about the same as the Strib’s these days; it’s all noise and no signal.  Both of them have come to represent the worst of online “discourse”; mostly people who hide behind anonymity to bellow with rage at people who are different than them.   Usenet Newsgroups phoned the Strib and MinnPost comment sections and told ’em to dial back the crazy.

Both are a waste of time.  I try not to waste time.

“Why do you oppose banning teh automatic weapins?”:  They’ve been mostly illegal since 1934.  Seriously – learn the issue before you try to regulate other peoples’ civil rights.

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”:  Nope. That is a reasonable “reasonable restriction”.

“If you debate at teh MinnPost you’ll lose!”:  In the same way a black guy walking into a Klan rally will “lose”.  I’ll get shouted down, sure.

But I won’t lose a “Debate”.

In fact, I may as well reiterate this; I’ll meet any liberal figure – blogger, talking head, pundit, reporter (oh, snap), politician, what have you – in an actual debate about anything we mutually care to debate about.  Guns are the hot topic these days – and on Second Amendment issues in particular, I’ll not only meet the libs in an actual debate, I’ll likely make their argument better than they can, before I destroy it.  I’m not limited to guns – we can talk education, taxes, transit, whatever.  I’m pretty solid on all of ’em.  On Second Amendment issues?  Let’s just say I’m confident.

Just saying.  Try me.

In a real debate, mind you; at a neutral location, with some basic “rules” (they don’t have to be all that formal, but shouting matches bore me) and we can go to town.

Recursive institutionalized (heh) pissing matches like “newspaper” comment sections don’t really make the cut, thanks.

“Why are you constantly bagging on the DFL leadership for not supporting gay marriage?  The effort against the Marriage Amendment wasn’t a referendum on gay marriage, after all.”:  That’s not the way “Minnesotans United For All Families” and the rest of the anti-Amendment crowd put it.  Their rhetoric – “we don’t have popularity contests on civil rights!” – wasn’t focused on the procedural battle over what does or doesn’t go into the Constitution.  It was over Adam and Steve and their picket fence.

For Tom Bakk and Paul Thissen not to jam a bill through the legislature that they control largely because of the campaign against the Amendment is intensely hypocritical.  For the people who voted for the DFL based on the Amendment not to demand better of the caucus they elected is a betrayal of Gay Minnesotans.  Now that the left-leaning PPP poll shows Minnesotans supporting gay marriage, there is no reason whatsoever for Bakk and Thissen not to jam this issue down.

Other than political cowardice and hypocrisy.

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”:  Asked and answered.  Nope.

“Hahahaha, Merg!  You won’t come to teh MinnPost to debate! You are teh coward!”:  Real debate.  Say when, where, and agree on the rules.  If you’ve got the cojones.  We all know what an “if” that is.

“But Mitch?  There’s a court case in Henco that’ll basically end in legalize gay marriage sooner or later.  Bakk and Thissen needn’t lift a finger”:  Well, there’s a profile in courage for you!

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”:  Er, I answered this twice already.  No.

“Mark G***eson says you’re like teh Lord Haw Haw?”:  I get called ugly things by people sitting at the back of the bus that also bark at the moon and have tinfoil wrapped around their heads.  I give ’em about the same weight.
“Hey, Merg!  The Second Amendment refers to “Militia”!  Are you in the National Guard?”:  I’m sorry – were you in treatment for the past five years or something?  The SCOTUS in Heller said “right of the people” means “people” – not government.  We – every able-bodied adult – are the militia.  That means you, me, and everyone around you that doesn’t have a disqualifying criminal record.

 “You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”:  Er, no.

“I’m sick of your arguments.  It’s time to re-consider what “reasonable restrictions” are!”:  Well, at face value, I’m with you.  Most of the restrictions that exist today – gun bans like in Chicago, bans on weapons based on cosmetic features – are utterly useless.  Let’s reconsider them!

But that’s not what you’re talking about, is it?  This is sort of like the “new conversation about guns” from a few weeks back, which involved your side talking and my side shutting up.

You want to eliminate the Second Amendment, because you think that civilians shouldn’t have guns.  It disturbs your idea of the natural relationship between people and government, with citizens toiling away and a benevolent government protecting us, like a dutiful parent.  I believe that’s a noxious and repugnant idea of what government is supposed to be, and the Second Amendment helps keep it that way.

“Why don’t you write more about music and history?”:  Oh, I meant to over this past two months, trust me.  Real life – doing my little bit to defend a vital civil right – got in the way.  But there’s more to come.

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”:  Er…

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”:  It’s cold out, isn’t it?

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”:  There are no bones in ice cream.

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”:  That surely is a writing implement of immense magnitude.

“Why do you always show your opponents in these pieces to be addled, defective or not-so-bright?  Isn’t that a rather demeaning fiction?”:  You’ve never met my “critics”, have you?

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”: Um…

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”: …

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”: (facepalm)

“You oppose gun control?  So you think felons should have guns?”: …

Frequently Asked Questions, Part VII

“Why do you need teh gun?” – Because it’s the duty of every law-abiding American to own and be proficient with firearms.

“You’re joking, right?” – Oh, sort of.

“You know what I think?  I think gun owners are compensating for something?” – Oh, haha.  Never heard that one before.  Honest.

But no, you’re right.  We’re compensating for the fact that our society is full of the depraved, the amoral and those that think their ends justify their means.

“Owning a gun is about teh fear!” – The same way buying insurance is about “fear” of fire or accidents, or the same way packing blankets and candles in your car is about “fear” of icy roads and blowing snow.  In other words, baloney.  It’s about responding prudently and reasonably to things about which one might be legitimately afraid.

“Aren’t gun owners just a bunch of teh flaby bald white guys?” – Sure, in the same sense that gay marriage proponents are a bunch of mincing, flouncing, buttless-chaps-wearing effeminate show-tune-singing poofters.

“Hey, that’s nothing but teh derogatory stereotype, designed to try to negate your opponents arguments by dehumanizing them without ever engaging any of teh facts!” – Bingo.  The difference is, I don’t believe the thing about gay marriage proponents.

“But teh conservative GOP Senator with teh “A” rating from teh NRA said big clips are useless for hunting!”  – Then that “conservative Senator” should get docked a few points.  The 2nd Amendment doesn’t protect hunting!

“OK, smart guy, why does a citizen need a gun with teh big clip for?” – For starters, it’s only a “clip” if it “clips” the bullets together.  Like this:

If it’s a metal box, like on an AK47 or an AR15 or a Glock, it’s called a “Magazine”.

Remember that and you’ll sound marginally less ignorant.

OK, now to answer your question – and I say this without acknowledging if I do or do not own one or more weapons with high-capacity magazines; if I do have them, I need them because the threat, out there – robbers, burglars, gang-bangers of all stripes – have them.  Indeed, gun and magazine prohibitions make them more likely to have them.

Now, I don’t hunt, and I never likely will.  But I am a self-defense shooter, and anti-gunner wives’ tales to the contrary, there have been cases when armed intruders and home invaders, whether high or highly motivated or both, have opted not to turn tail and run when the home/business owner fired six, seven, eight or ten shots.  It’s happening often enough that most cops have not only traded in their six-shot revolvers for semi-auto handguns with 15-18 rounds, but retired their good ol’ shotguns for AR15s and M4s – fully-automatic assault rifles, not merely ugly “assault weapons” – in the trunk (leaving lots of surplus Remington 870 Express 12 gauges going for really nice prices at area gun shops!)

“So you think your life is as valuable as a cop’s?” – Yep.

“But robbereys like that hardly ever happin!” – Either do car crashes.  But you wear your seatbelt, don’t you?”

“No!  That’s what teh Police are for”  – OK, then.

“But conservative Republican Joe Scarborough, who says he’s a member of  teh NRA, says there’s no need for guns that can fire 30 shots in teh second!” – Joe Scarborough was a conservative in 1994.  He makes vaguely Republican noises these days, on some issues.  But it’s with this remark he not only shows why he can’t get a show on a real network, but that he must be one of those rare NRA members that knows nothing about firearms.  Guns that “fire 30 shots a second”, fully-automatic firearms like machine guns, submachine guns and real honest-to-pete military Assault Rifles, have been illegal for most citizens since 1934.

“But killings with assault weapons are out of control!” – As usual, no.  Murder in general dropped 14% in the past four years, and the drop among firearms deaths led all others.  And out of 10,000 or so firearms homicides in, say 2007, 358 involved rifles, which is down sharply since the mid-20002, and about a quarter of the 1,704 knife murders, not to mention much much lower than the 540 involving blunt objects, or the 745 people killed with fists and hands. And I’m going to bet that the vast majority of those were not legally purchased, by the way.

“Well, you are kidding yourself!  No citizen has ever stopped teh mass murdor!” – Sure they have.  I listed the ones I could find here.  And those were just the cases where the authorities said in as many words “there was a mass shooting incident underway”, which they usually won’t if it stops before anyone’s hurt.  Check it out.

“Well, you are teh coward.  A real man doesn’t need teh gun and I’m proud of it!” – Well, that’s your choice.  Go for it.  In fact, take that feeling to the next level.  Put one of these in your front window.

No, seriously – your masters have decreed it, so you have no choice.  Put your ass, and your family’s safety, where your precious little mouth is.  Deal?

Get right on that!

“Well, it’s time to have a conversation about guns” – We’ve been having one for almost forty years.  And the gun-grabber side lost.  And they’ll lose this time too, because outside the self-referential, self-adoring, rhetorically-onanistic lefty cluster-cuddle between the media, the alt-media, academia and the lefty wonk class, most of America has been convinced that you’re wrong.

Which doesn’t mean people like me – law-abiding citizens who believe in and practice the Second Amendment – are going to stop working to keep the battle won.

Because we’re always “having a conversation about guns”.  It’s just that you want the other side, my side, to shut up and let you do all the talking.

And as much as you’d like that, I for one decline.  Thanks.

Frequently Asked Questions – VI

These things always pick up around election time:

The ReTHUGliCONs in the Legislature did teh terrible job; shutting down teh state government and not doing anything other than teh culture war!:   Yep.  Nothing!

Oher than eliminating the “deficit” without raising taxes, of course. Or keeping the state’s unemployment rate a point or two below the national average, or enacting some key regulatory reforms in the face of a dilatory and disingenuous governor?

FYI, Dayton chose the shutdown, not the GOP, which was negotiating with him ’til the last second, and observed that there was really nothing they could say or do that’d prevent Dayton from shutting down except completely caving in.  Which, for all of you who remember Dayton’s palaver during the campaign about “reaching across the aisle” and “bipartisanship”, should ring a bell or two (and don’t even think about saying the GOP didn’t give; the GOP gave on between two and five billion dollars in spending, depending on the budget proposal  you look atl.

And it was only when the “Governor” went to “rallies” in Albert Lea and St. Paul, sparsely attended by dispirited government union employees, that he retreated to Saint Paul and dealt on the deal.

Of course, his PR cover – from the Strib all the way down to Minnesota Progressive Project – has been running cover for those facts ever since.

Didn’t you say you thought Obama would win?:  Until recently I figured it was fairly certain he would.  Incumbency is a tough nut to crack.  Incumbents who have the entire mainstream media serving as their Praetorian Guard are even worse.

But the full statement, remember, is “I think the President will win; in fact, if the President doesn’t flip twenty seats in the Senate and 75 in the House, it’ll be a pretty humiliating exercise”.  It’s at least partly smack-talk, partly commentary on the dreamy millenarianism of Obama’s original support.  After four (?) years, our economy sucks worse than ever, our standing in the world is diminished (except among chuckleheaded media and social elites, in a few cases), and our society is on the brink of a fiscal cliff I’m not sure Calvin Coolidge could ward off.  So yes, “light worker”; work your freaking magic!

You Are Teh Heppocreet! When Polls were showing Democrats ahead, you said “look at teh partisan breakdownz!”  But now that Mittens is leading, you are quiet about them!:  Have you looked at the partisan breakdowns?  They still have Dems in the majority.  Not “Bigger and badder than 2008” majorities, like the Minnesota Poll, but majorities.  And yet Mitt is closing in on all the polls where he’s not ahead.

Tell you what – you don’t like the polls, you go ahead and do the analysis.  Note:  “Rasmussen is teh ReTHUGliCON, ZOMG” is not “analysis”.  I don’t care what the Daily Kos says.

In these “Frequently Asked Questions” posts, you frequently show your as pre-literate trolls with bad spelling.  Why?  I blame Twitter.  It’s exposed me to way too many lefties who are not only wrong, but both depraved and illiterate.  The best thing the Democrat Party can do is bar its members from being on Twitter unless they pass an intelligence and literacy test.

Don’t believe me?  I invite you to a day in my Twitter world.

Frequently Asked Questions V

Here are some of the questions that’ve come over the transom lately.

“Hahahaha!  Kurt Bills is going to lose!  That’s a loss for you!”:  Well, I am not on the ballot, so it’s not a loss for me. And I supported Severson at the convention.  Now, it is a fact that Kurt Bills would be a much better Senator than A-Klo; I support him, and will vote for him as many times as many times as Mark Ritchie will let me.  I’m praying – seriously – for an upset victory.  America’s future is not assured until modern “progressive” liberalism is peacefully extincted from politics, and getting Klobuchar out of the Senate would be a great step.  But this is going to be a tough race.  No doubt about it.

“Why don’t you shut up?  Minnesota votes Democrat!”:  OK, so what?  I still have a right to dissent.  So far. Chris Matthews notwithstanding.

“Why haven’t you taken on Michael Brodkorb!  You have no integrity”: Partly because there’s nothing to “take on”.  It’s a court case.  I don’t agree with Michael about everything, including inside-the-party politics, and I don’t endorse (or poke my nose into) his personal life choices, but he’s a friend of mine.  If you don’t like that, you’re free to give yourself a stroke fretting about it, but it won’t make any difference.   To the extent that the whole incident is portrayed as a symptom of the problems the MNGOP got itself into?  There’s a case to be made.  I don’t know, and my only real interest is in the party’s future.  Michael’s a brilliant political operator, and his career will no doubt resume its upward parabola.  If you have a problem with that, then say so.  Good luck; as long as Michael is a wedge within the GOP, he’ll be the media’s BFF (above and beyond his value as a source, which Michael earned). And if you have a problem with the fact that I’m letting other peoples’ personal dogs lie and moving on to the GOP’s future, grow some balls and quit the passive-aggressive sniping and take it up with me directly.  You’ll lose, but you’ll lose with some shred of honor.

“Hahaha, you are teh heppocreet!  When the polls were showing Obama ahead, you attacked them! But now that they’re showing Mittens in the lead, you are teh silent!  You are TEH HEPPOCREET!  You is sucks!”:  I don’t know that I’ve written a whole lot about the polls showing Romney ahead, but here’s the kicker;  the partisan turnout model of the polls are still mostly showing more Democrats than Republicans (Susquehanna poll in Pennsylvania and perhaps a few others excepted).

“So how about the Congressional and Legislative races?”: I think if Romney comes close to tying in Minneosta, we’ll hold the Legislature with votes to spare.  Some of the open seats in the ‘burbs are looking good, and the 8th CD is looking better.  And I hear rumors of another possible surprise outstate.  We shall see.

“Hahahah!  You are teh Springstein fan, but he’s endorsing Obeama! Hahaha, you looser!”:  This wasn’t even news in 2000, chuckles.  And stay tuned – because there’s a case that Springsteen may be America’s best conservative songwriter.  And there’s only one blogger that’s gonna tackle that job.  After the election.

“Hahahaha, you are teh Republican in Saint Paul!  You are teh PWN3D!”:  As Abraham Lincoln said, “the likelihood that he might fail ought not deter a man from a cause he believes just”.  And there is no more just cause than bringing democracy to Saint Paul.  It’s going to be a long job.  I’m not going anywhere.  (Because it’s impossible to sell a house in St. Paul).

“You support the Marriage Restriction Amendment?   You ave full of teh hate!”:  I”m ambivalent about the Amendment.  I don’t so much support it as I reject the arguments of most of its opponents.  More next week.  Probably.

“How about those Bears?”:  As I wrote a few years ago, the Bears are truly America’s barometer.  Stay tuned to their record over the nest few weeks.  It’ll be a kety barometer, not just for this election, but for the future of this nation and our civilization.

Frequently Asked Questions IV

I get a lot of questions from readers.  Occasionally, I like to answer them.

“Hey, you got a piece published on Hot Air yesterday!”  –  That wasn’t really a “question”, but, well, yeah, I did, and thanks for noticing!  My piece, “Top Ten Things You Should Do If You’re An “Anybody But Mitt” Republican”, And One You Should Not”, appeared in the Green Room, and Ed Morrissey was kind enough to promote it to the main page, where it got a ton of traffic and close to 500 comments between the two sites.  And it turns out that a lot of commenters at Hot Air are pretty serious about their political purism!

“But it sounds like you’re a RINO!”  – Er, what part of “I‘m caucusing for Santorum” did you miss?  The point of the piece was, if you’re an anti-Romney Republican, the game isn’t over.  There are a zillion caucuses and primaries and, by the way, a convention.  Fight like hell!  And if it so happens that Romney is the nominee, then fight for a conservative Congress – which, by the way, we’re more likely to get than a GOP President, as of a few weeks ago, according to InTrade.   And a Republican Congress will be conservative.  Perfect, no, but conservative yes.  And that will encourage Romney to act like a conservative.

“Romney’s a flip-flopper.  If he acts conservative to get elected, it won’t be honest” – If he “acts” conservative to get, and stay, elected, and manifests that acting by, say, governing as a conservative for four years, and “acts” conservative enough to get re-nominated and re-elected for four years, and continuing the “act” until the end of a second term highlighted by even more insincere conservative policies – including two or three utterly disingenuous nominations and confirmations of suitably conservative Supreme Court nominations and the completely insincere repeal of Obamacare and a two-faced cutting of federal spending – I’d be fine with that.   Of course, he’d need a conservative Congress to make sure he stays honest insincere.  That’s our job.

“I’d rather teach the party a lesson!” – I may have it carved on my headstone; “Parties don’t learn lessons; they reflect the will of those who show up”.  And they truly do.

“But Tim Pawlenty was a RINO, too!”  – First, “RINO” has become a synonym for “Not as conservative as me”, whoever you are – and by that definition, most of you are RINOs.  Sez me.

But secondly, and more importantly, that’s not the issue here.  However Pawlenty governed, the fact is that had it not been for an uprising of conservatives in the party – people who showed up and bucked the status quo and imposed their will on the convention – he would have been worse.

I mean, you do remember 2002, right?  Tim Pawlenty wasn’t nearly conservative enough for a fair chunk of the State Convention delegates.  Eventually, he had to take the No New Taxes pledge.  And he went on to govern for eight years, largely – not perfectly, but largely – as a conservative.  Certainly better than any “Republican” we’d had in a few generations.

Did the MNGOP do that because they’d “learned the lesson” of Arne Carlson?  Indirectly, maybe – but it was entirely because the people who did remember the Carlson years showed up and gave that lesson some teeth!

“Sounds like you’re trying to get us to accept the same old crap sandwich” – Chalk it up to my scandinavian heritage; to me, life is all about learning to make the best of “crap sandwiches”.  Because life is mostly “crap sandwiches”, and the measure of a person is how they make those crap sandwiches not just edible, but tasty – and, maybe, once in your life, how they talk the cook into eating it herself.  And it shows; my biggest heroes – Ernest Shackelton, Eddie Rickenbacker, Alexandr Pecherskiy and Stanislaus Schmajzner – are people whose greatest achievements in life were dealing with “crap sandwiches”, like being trapped on an antarctic ice floe without a radio, or floating at sea for three weeks in a tiny raft, or being stuck in a Nazi extermination camp.  And – this is important – dealing with the “crap sandwich”.  They ate seals and jury-rigged lifeboats to sail across stormy oceans, or they lived on minnows and a seagull and kept their spirits up, or they made crude shivs and stole guns and killed their guards and lived in the forest until help arrived; they did not say “I’m going to sit on the floe until real help arrives!”

And so – is Mitt Romney a “crap sandwich?”  I’ll take a Romney nomination over being stuck in an extermination camp, yes.

Beyond that?  Sure, I’d rather have a more-conservative nominee.  That’s why I’m caucusing for Santorum on Tuesday – to try to avert the “crap sandwich“.  And if Romney truly is inevitable?  Then we do like we did with Pawlenty; push him to the right by whatever means we have available to us.  And if we’re good, and if we show up, and keep our will strong, and do the blocking and tackling right, it’ll work.  Not perfectly, but well-enough.

“But I’d rather vote with my principles” – Well, good!  So would I!  That’s why, again, I’m not caucusing for Romney this time.

But for me, the most important principle – after “honor God” and “take care of my family”, both of which have political implications as well – is “do what’s best for the Unites States of America and for government of, by and for The People”.  And Barack Obama is the worst President of my lifetime (and I survived Jimmy Carter), and maybe one of the worst in history, and that is largely because he and his party are corroding democracy and marginalizing this nation, ensuring that my children and grandchildren are going to get a…what?

Crap sandwich?

You got it!

So my first principle is to help, or at least mitigate the harm to, America and Democracy.  Then we can talk about principles of governance.

“Sounds like you’re an incrementalist!” – Duh!  No kidding!  That’s because in a democracy, all improvement is incremental – unless your opponents completely fail to show up!  As long as you have people who oppose you via democratic means, any improvement you get will always be incremental – in Congress, in Saint Paul, and even in the GOP, if your part of the GOP is contested.

And if MItt Romney is the nominee, and he’s an incremental improvement?  I’ll take an incremental improvement over excremental decay, every time.  Partly because in the real world, incremental improvements are all you get!  You never, ever get revolutionary improvements!  And partly because I think that with a conservative Congress (backed by a conservative majority that stays engaged, unlike 1994) will be a big incremental improvement, which is better than a small one, and much better than excremental decay.

“Appearing on KFAI?  Talking with people from American Public Media? Reading Leftybloggers?  You’re not going all wobbly – or turning into a RINO – are you? – Pfft.  I’m still more conservative than you, whoever you are.  Look – we have to try to run a civil society.  That means trying to talk with and understand – and co-opt, convince and of course defeat via democratic means – the other side is vital to having a “civil society”.  And yes, the other side is full of crass, vulgar people (and, I stress, plenty who are not) who see themselves in control and don’t feel the need to dialog with people they regard as their inferiors, from the Minnesota Progressive Project all the way up to National Public Radio’s executive board.  That’s fine, and it’s their choice, but for my part, I believe that if society doesn’t at least try to get along and play nice, the eventual alternative is civil war – which on the one hand doesn’t bother me, since our side has most of the guns and their people with guns all use the John Woo grip, but on the other hand does bother me because civil wars are noisy and unproductive, and I’d rather stick with dialog.

“Aren’t you worried some leftyblogger is going to take that “Civil War” comment out of context?” – Twin Cities leftybloggers take comments about going shopping out of context.   Shall one live in fear of what ones’ petty detractors will say, or shall one just live?  I say live.  And give the leftybloggers a break; if they couldn’t write about things out of context, they’d have to focus on their jobs.

That’ll do for now.

Frequently Asked Questions – III

Why don’t you ever put liberals on your show?  We do.  Ed and I have interviewed Erik Black, Dane Smith, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, and my old friend, Erik “The Transit Geek” Hare.  All of them but Rybak at least once (and we may extend another invite to Hizzoner).

Beyond that?  I have standing invtations out to…:

  1. Senator Amy Klobuchar (although finding an actual media contact at her office is always a challenge))
  2. Senate candidate Al Franken
  3. Rep. Keith Ellison
  4. Rep. Betty McCollum (who, let’s be honest, doesn’t make even a token effort to be press-friendly)

While Ed and I are overt, partisan conservatives, we’ll put the level of civility and respect in our interviews up against anything you hear on MPR (and better than NPR; we’re honest about our biases – hello, Nina! – and neither Ed nor I has ever wished a death by AIDS on anyone).

And of course, our producer Tommy has standing orders to jump liberal callers to the front of the caller queue when we’re taking calls, which is pretty much always.  All you have to be is on-topic, or off-topic in a way we’re interested in discussing.

What about Michele Bachmann?  Do you think she’ll be the nominee?  Her surge in the early – let me say again, early – running is pretty impressive,  It shows that the Tea Party has gone from demonstrating to voting.  That’s a good thing.  So does Michele and her organization pack the gear to go all the way to the nomination?  I have no idea.  That’s why the nomination season is so fun to watch.  Who’s gonna end up on top?  More later…

No, I don’t mean why don’t you put liberal pols and wonks on the air.  I mean why don’t you put liberal bloggers on the air to debate with you?  Well, if there’s one that has something to say, that is something that’d interest and entertain our audience – which, remember, is national as well as regional – go ahead and pitch Ed and I.   We’re open to just about anything, provided we think it’d be good radio.

And by “good radio”, I mean entertaining and informative.  The sad fact is that general, “throw out a topic and let’s go at it” debates are really dodgy as radio entertainment.  Still, even abstruse ideological whizzing matches are kinda spotty when it comes to being entertaining radio – wonks love ’em, audiences usually don’t, although to be fair the Patriot’s audience, especially the Northern Alliance’s, is much more receptive than most – but anything’s possible, which is why I say “throw us a pitch”.  There’s not much in radio I haven’t done (other than “get rich); I’m game – but it can’t suck.

How can you say the shutdown was a victory for the GOP?  The Republican borrowed money!  Yeah, that particular DFL chanting point is a funny one.  First – no conservative is happy about the “borrowing”.  But we’re borrowing from ourselves.  Not China.  Not our children’s future.

Second – you do know Dayton’s “education shift” was going to be a lot bigger than the GOP’s.  You do know that.  Right?

No, Merg, I mean why don’t you let me, a “progressive” blogger with a history of bellowing, browbeating and namecalling, into your studio, so you can’t turn me off?  Hm.  Intrigueing offer.

I mean, I kinda spelled it out above.  If you have a subject that’s topical, interesting and potentially entertaining, we can talk.

If, on the other hand, you’re one of those leftybloggers who’s good for about one round of factual discussion – say, until your chanting points from Media Matters and “Crooks and Liars” and Mike Malloy get debunked – and you turn straight to the browbeating and the name-calling?  Well, the only real entertainment value would be in the whole “mocking your intellectual impotence” thing, and we don’t need you in the studio to do that.

And since you, not I, said that I “couldn’t shut you off”, that kinda implies the fun would end there.  Because yes, I certainly could!  It’s called a microphone switch, and I control it!  One of the key rules of hosting a talk show is “stay in control”.  Callers and guests don’t control the show – the host does!  So if a guest (hypothetically) veers from “entertaining” to “not entertaining” for whatever reason?  It’s done!  We move on!  And while it’s a fuzzy gray line between “mockery” and “not entertaining any more”, rest assured we’ll know it when we see it.

So stick with “pitching us a story”.  You might learn something.

Frequently Asked Questions – II

I get a lot of questions here at Shot In The Dark.  Periodically, I like to answer them.

Let’s start at the top!

“Hey, Merg!  You worked on a special election campaign.  And it lost!  Hahahahahahahahaha!” Yeah, who’da thunk it, a Republican losing in Saint Paul.  That’s not even “dog bites man”.  That’s “Dog sniffs Dog”.    We gave it our best shot, and we came up waaaaay short.  More later.

“Hey, Merg!  You promoted Bradlee Dean!  I got the screen shot!” Well, yeah, genius – it was on my blog every weekend for two years.  And in the last segment of my show, every Saturday; “Sons of Liberty up next, for those of you who want your Constitution straight up with no chaser!”, or some such.

That’s what you do when you work for a radio station, or any broadcaster, or narrowcaster for that matter, if they depend on ratings; you cross-plug the other shows.  If, I dunno, Eric Pusey and Diane “Minnesota Observer” Gerth were to buy air time after the Northern Alliance on Saturdays, I’d give them a jaunty cross-promotion, too – because that’s what you do in radio.  It’s called being a professional.You promote the station’s other shows – because if they’re doing well, the whole station does well.  And if the station does well, Ed and I stay on the air.

Does it mean I endorse everything Bradlee Dean said on his show?  Of course not.  I’m not going to comment on the Sons of Liberty’s departure from AM1280 – but the General Manager who lets us use his air time, Ron Stone, did, right here, and I really don’t need to add much to that.  Of course I will add that much of the Twin Cities leftymedia’s “coverage” of Dean was really, really bad; he never advocated killing gays, for starters, and his “association with the GOP” is even thinner gruel.  But hey, they need to break eggs to make omelettes, right?

“But Merg!  You lost!  Hahahahahahaha!” Well, as Abraham Lincoln said, “The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.And bringing a multi-party democracy to the “progressive” cesspool that is Saint Paul is nothing if not just; Saint Paul Republicans follow in the footsteps of Lech Walesa, trying to crack the rotting facade of a single-party autocracy.  It’s a tough job…

“Hey, Mitch – how’s biking going?”:  It’s not, yet.  My commute jumped from six to 20 miles.  Which is not to say I’m not going to start riding to work, at least part-way, pretty quick here – probably by throwing my bike on my bike rack, driving part way, leaving my car at a park and ride, and biking in the rest of the way.   Soon, here.

“But Merg!  Your candidate got beat!  Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Teh DFL owns this town!”. In 1982, the Chicago Bears went 3-6, in a strike-shortened season.  It was a terrible year, and a terrible team.   But it had some elements – Walter Payton and some other great players in waiting – that would, when combined with a new coach, Mike Ditka, lead that same team, three years later, to become the greatest team in the history of pro football.

The Saint Paul GOP, and the Fourth District GOP for that matter, are going to need more than three years to recover from decades of the beaten-down indolence that is the result of decades of defeat and oppression.  I say ten years.  Others think it can be done faster; I hope they’re right, but I figure ten years.

What, we’re supposed to just give up?

You don’t know me very well, do you?

“Say, Mitch – why do you still call the show the Northern Alliance Radio Network?  It’s just one show, on one station!” Oh, stay tuned.

Frequently Asked Questions

I thought I’d respond to some of the email I get most often here at Shot In The Dark.

Q: You come in for a lot of fairly scabrous attacks from a lot of leftybloggers.  How do you deal with that?

A: My basic assumption has always been that the opinion of anyone who doesn’t revere me isn’t worthy of contempt.

Q: Hah, Merg!  You are teh unethikel.  You poast derring the wurk day!?!

A: Nope.  In the past five years, I can think of two times I’ve blogged from the office, and both were for really big news flashes – Heller, and one other.  And they were both during breaks in the action at work, to boot.

I write, usually, from 5:30AM until about 7AM.  Sometimes, rarely, in the evening, although that is rare indeed.  Which isn’t to say I’m not thinking about what I”m going to post; when I actually do start writing, I usually have a posting pretty thoroughly mapped out in my mind, and can pretty much do data entry.  And I’m a very fast typist.

I am that good.

It helps that Wordpress – my blog editing tool – allows me to schedule posts for anytime I want them, so they can publish immediately, or at any time in the future that I want.  So I can run a bunch of posts in the early morning, and spot a few more to run at noon, and occasionally schedule something for much further out.

In fact, if I got hit by a bus tomorrow, this blog would continue posting content for (checks schedule) right around two years.   Although a lot of it wouldn’t make sense; in October of 2012, I have a piece about the North Dakota National Guard landing on Guadalcanal that, so far, says “NDNG Guad; Bloody Nose, M1, Jungle, town”.   I could see it becoming a literary genre in its own right, really – but all in all, I’m hoping to be alive to flesh the notes out.

Still – those pieces I do on music of the eighties, and my World War II pieces, and most of my “Twenty Years Ago Today” stuff is written months – sometimes years  – in advance.  The current record?   I have a piece about the thirtieth anniversary of Richard and Linda Thompson’s “Shoot Out The Lights” scheduled for April of 2012; it’s been completely written for probably 18 months.

I’m a little manic that way.

Q: Whatever happened to “Twenty Years Ago Today”  Did you have much  of a life twenty years ago?

A: No, I really didn’t.

Well, that and some of the people who were in my life twenty years ago have said they don’t want to appear in my blog.

But I can announce this; the series will be making a return in coming months.  Actually, it did return, sort of; I posted my first epi in 15 months a few weeks ago.  But if you like the series, I have episodes spotted out for the next year or so.

The crazy part?  I started the series five years ago this month.  Those five years didn’t go nearly as fast the first time.

Q: Why so much writing about the gubernatorial race?  Do you work for the Emmer campaign?

A: This campaign has given me lots of opportunity to do some of the things I haven’t had much time to do with this blog – actual reporting.  Digging into stories and analyzing them.  In this case, the “story” is the boundless, slimy perfidy of the DFL and Mark Dayton’s campaign.  Let’s just say it’s a target-rich environment.

But no, I do not work for the Emmer campaign.  I keep my “Disclosures” section pretty rigorously up to date.  Unlike the Minnesota Independent, I am rigorously honest about this blog’s backstory.

Q: Oh, bull.  You have so much inside info from the Emmer camp, you gotta be working for them.

A: Nope.  I have plenty of contacts in conservative and GOP circles – one of the benefits of doing, I dunno, a successful conservative blog and talk show for all these years – and those contacts translate into “sources”, when it comes time to report on things.  But no; I have no connection to the Emmer campaign that every other “journalist” in town doesn’t have on whatever “beat” they cover.  Absolutely none.

Q: You are such a shill.  You are an idiot.  You are stupid. No intelligent person can believe what you do.

A: Mom?

Q: Why don’t you write more about music?  It’s what you do best.

A: Why thanks.  But throughout the history of this blog, I’ve written about whatever crossed my mind, when it’s crossed it.

That said, I have a solid two more years of “This Was The Year That Was” posts, about eighties music, coming up.  The pace is dilatory, but I’m kinda jazzed about the actual articles.

Q: You are wasting my time.  You have no expert knowledge of Minnesota politics.

A: You came to me, jagoff.  Not the other way around.

Q: What was that Gubernatorial  prediction again?

A: Emmer 47, Dayton 44, Horner 8.

Q: How about the CD6 race?

A: Bachmann 52, Clark 42, Anderson 6.

Q: OK, smart guy; CD2?

A: Kline 62, Madore 38.

Q: You think you’re sooooooo smart.

A: No.  I don’t.  Honestly, I feel like a moron most of the time.

Part of it is that kids on the Great Plains generally grow up with the sense that they really aren’t anything special; you’re not bad, but don’t go expecting to change the world, because you’re just not that big a deal.  There’s even a Norwegian word for it.  I forget the word – Fjøreløren, for all I know – “Janteloven“, or “Jante’s Law”, which is a constant dynamic in small-town Scandinavian life – but it translates to “knowing your place in the scheme of things”.  Not getting “uppity”, to translate it to American.

Anyway – long story short, I usually feel like the dumbest person in any room I’m in.

Unless I’m at “Drinking Liberally”.  Then I’m in the 99th percentile.

Q: You are teh heppocreet and you lie!

A:  “Hypocrisy” is one of those concepts that sloppy usage has perverted out of all semblance of reality in recent years.  So please focus on this; on what issue do I demand that someone else make a moral decision from which I exempt myself?  That would be hypocrisy.

“Lying”, again, is another one.  It’s entirely possible – albeit unlikely – that I’ve made a mistake on some issue or another; bobbled a number, mis-read a quote, whatever.  An error made in good faith, like “Paul Wellstone was elected in 1988”,  is not a “lie”; “I bagged Marisa Tomei last night”, alas, is – or would be, were I not using it as a f’rinstance.

Which brings up an interesting question; is a statement like  “9/11 is an inside job” or “the Holocaust never happned”  or “Mark Dayton will be a fantastic governor” or “the moon landings were faked” a “lie”?  All are absurd – but people can say either one and honestly believe ’em.

Q: Why are you so arrogant?

A: Please.  Like you’d understand my motivations.  Sheesh.

Q: Where are Roosh and Bogus Doug?

A: Not writing at the moment.  They both have other things going on – and my deal with them from the very beginning was always “write as much as you want; once a day, once ayear, I don’t care”.  They took me seriously on it!

Q: I like your World War II stuff.  Why don’t you write more?

A: Were there other major wars going on 70 years ago today?

No, I’d love to write more of the non-political stuff.  After the election, I likely will focus a lot more on some of my ancillary interests.

But this election is a hoot!

Q: Why do you bag on leftybloggers?

A: Because so many of them are just sloppy thinkers and crummy writers.

Don’t get me wrong – most of them are good human beings (there are notable exceptions); some of them are capable of a rational argument, and a few are even fairly bright.  But for whatever reason, the gene pool among the great mass of lefty bloggers is just really really shallow.  Like their reasoning.

In fact, I’m pondering starting a big series after the election; “Logic for Leftybloggers”.  I’m thinking of going through the list of classic logical fallacies and applying them to the sorts of “template” premises you see leftybloggers falling back on all the time.

Because I’m all about the education.

We’ll see.

Q: When are you going to update your blog’s design?

A: Good question.  It crosses my mind from time to time.   But I’ve got seven and a half years invested in this look, and I kinda like it.

Q: Couldn’t you go with a snazzier color scheme?

A: I don’t care about snazz.  I’m a usability guy. Black text on white background is the most readable combination; Verdana is a nice, readable font.  Lots of blue is relaxing and agreeable-looking.  “Friendly”, and also just plain easy to read in a hurry.

Q: Why don’t you go with a three-column layout? Everyone’s doing it!

A: Never.  Never never never.  I hate three-column layouts (unless you need a left column for navigation, and I do not).  Hate hate hate.  I mean, if you like ’em, put ’em an your own blog, and God bless ya, but I hate hate hate hate hate three column layouts.  The content is king on a blog, especially a blog like mine that’s not part of any larger enterprise.

The western Human eye starts reading on the left, and so I don’t want my audience to have to pick their way over a bunch of links and ads and unneeded navigation and crap to get to the actual content.  Furthermore, I want the left margin to the usable to provide “scanning cues” to users who are scrolling down the page looking for something interesting; clogging up that left margin with ads and lists and twitter feed widgets to try to find what they want.

The left side of the page is the most valuable real estate on the page.  Putting a bunch of links and lists and crap on the left side is like putting the restrooms and service corridors at the front of your mall.


Q: How long are you going to do this blog?

A: Until it stops being fun.  We’re nowhere close yet.