Crimes And Misdemeanors Against Fact

Yesterday, I tackled a Strib op-ed by Jim Backstrom.  Backstrom, the Dakota County Attorney, wrote the latest in a long string of fact-challenged diatribes against the rights of the rigorously-law-abiding gun owner.

Now, Backstrom – who is not just an elected public official, but one in charge of enforcing the law by prosecuting accused criminals in Dakota County – has been misrepresenting facts  when it comes to the law-abiding gun owner for years.

Of course, we do have a First Amendment.  Freedom of Speech means freedom to lie like a sack of crap.  And as a general rule, I support the idea that the best way to respond to bad, stupid, misleading, lying speech is by responding with the truth, and more of it.  And I’m not changing that.

But I do have two questions:

Professionalism:  If a doctor were to go in the Star/Tribune and not just declare that, research notwithstanding, smoking cigarettes is in fact good for you, what would happen?  Would she be castigated?  Shunned by her fellow physicians?  Accused of professional malfeasance?  Have her records gone over by dogs trained to sniff out whackdoodelry?

Have her professionalism questioned for giving advice to the public that is directly counter to fact?

So why is it that Jim Backstrom – the chief prosecutor of one of Minnesota’s larger counties – is allowed, as a matter of professional integrity, to misrepresent Minnesota criminal law?  Because as I pointed out yesterday, that’s exactly what he did in yesterday’s op-ed, and in many before it.

Is there no requirement, legal or professional, that lawyers, especially lawyers who are public officials and officers of the court, refrain from actively and blatantly misrepresenting the laws they are charged with enforcing?

(Of course there is no legal requirement; I’d suspect that the same court decisions that allow cops to lie to suspects to trick them into giving information applies to county attorneys lying in the newspaper to the sheeple they’re responsible for herding).

Shouldn’t there be?

I mean, other than the next Dakota County attorney’s election?  Although as a point of principle, DakCo residents should take umbrage at a county attorney who lies about the law.  Even you liberals; if he misrepresents laws about self-defense, who’s to say the next one won’t be, I dunno, Voter ID?

The Same Old Song To The Same Old Beat: And yet again, the Strib prints without question or serious comment the opinion of someone who is simply empirically wrong about the subject.  On subject after subject, it’s been the Strib’s op-ed stock in trade for decades – and on none more than on the law-abiding citizens’ right to defend themselves.

The Strib continues to print the fact-less ravings of Heather Martens, Wes Skoglund, David Lillehaug, and of course Backstrom, without fact-check, without “gatekeeping”, without question, apparently for no other reason than (save Martens) they are big important (liberal) public officials.

Now, does anyone think the Strib would continue to publish, without question, op-eds from the doctor that claimed smoking was good for you?  Or would the circular-file his submissions after a while?

If that doctor were a powerful DFLer, apparently not.

The Leopard’s New Stripes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If Skoglund can do it,anyone can.

 

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Starts With A Single Step

I’ve been listening to some of my fellow conservatives – especially Tea Partiers – complaining about the debt ceiling deal, in terms that start with “it’s awful” and often as not end with “well, it was a great run – time to start hiding gold under the mattress”.

To which I answer, as appropriate, “what did you expect when we only control the House?” and “if you’re not storing gold, ammo and food even in the good times, you’re nuts”.  But I digress.

Ed Morrissey – with whom I co-host a radio show every Saturday on AM1280 – notes in The Week that it wasn’t a perfect victory for the Tea Party – there was no way for that victory to happen, at least not via democratic means, in this Congress with this President – but it was a victory nevertheless:

Who won, and who lost? Did anyone win? If we gauge winners and losers by the reaction from politicians and activists across the political spectrum, no one was satisfied with the deal reached between Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress and President Obama. Though it is arguably true that few actually advanced their agenda much in the deal, that doesn’t mean everyone came out of this deal equally worse off. Indeed, despite some dissatisfied rumblings from within the Tea Party, one lesson is clear: They succeeded in transforming Washington.

The codecil to that – one that the Tea Party needs to remember?  Politics is not like a championship game, with a final end result that stands for all time.  It’s a season – one that never actually ends.  It’s one where everything that happens in this game – hurt quarterbacks, momentum gained and lost, everything - affects the next game, and the game after that, and games played after your children take things over.

The example I keep coming back to: handgun carry reform in Minnesota.  When Concealed Carry Reform Now first formed, and started trying to change Minnesota’s racist, sexist, patriarchal weapon carry laws, they couldn’t even get time to talk with legislators – with “friendly”, Republican ones.

I can’t help but feel that some of the Tea Party conservatives who are complaining about the debt ceiling deal today would have fumed about the unfairness of it all back then, thrown in the towel and spent the next six years silently stewing.  But I’d hope it’d be a teaching moment.

Because the next year…well, only a few legislators talked with CCRN.  But it was more than the previous year.  And CCRN’s mailing list bloomed, and outstate voters started paying attention.

And the next year?  A few more legislators opened their doors.  And CCRN’s mailing list started having an effect – legislators started hearing from more people, which opened still more doors.

And the next year?  There was talk of a bill.  It never happened, but legislators were getting the message in droves; CCRN’s volunteer lobbyists were getting audiences with key legislators.

And the next year?  Well, the CCRN mailing list grew some more, and the DFL had to start playing defense.

And the next year?  And the following?  More of the same.  The DFL – and their point man on the issue, Wes “Lying Sack of Garbage” Skoglund – had to crank the smear and lie machine up into full force, since it was becoming clear they had no basis in fact.

And the next year?  There was a bill – and it died on the table (as I recall – I could very well have the specifics wrong, but it doesn’t really detract from the point).  And CCRN’s mailing list told voters which legislators voted against it.  And they got an earful, and a few of them – outstate DFLers who’d voted against the bill – lost their return tickets to Saint Paul.

And the next year?  We won.

(And two years later, we won again, after a DFL-pet judge struck down the law on ludicrously selective grounds).

Viewed from the perspective of 1995, and 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002, we lost, lost, lost, lost, lost, lost, lost and lost again.

And yet without all the effort – and there was a lot of effort – expended from 1005 through 2002, there would have been no victory.

And the victory wasn’t won by simply wanting it badly enough – although you gotta have that.  It was won by playing grassroots politics better than the other side.  We – the pro-Second-Amendment movement – had to win over a lot of hearts and minds in the legislature, the media, and on Mainstreet Minnesota.

The Tea Party did transform American politics – once. It did it by convincing the American people last Fall that they had the best ideas for taking this nation forward.

And now they need to do it again – to win the Senate, the White House, and a bunch of State Houses and Legislatures, enough to really, seriously, totally revamp the way this nation views the relationship between The People and government.

And it’s not a sprint, or a single game; it’s a marathon, an endless season.  Something that’ll challenge many Americans’ addled attention spans.

All the better.

You Know How You Can Tell There’s A Second-Amendment Bill In The Hopper (Part I)?

Because “progressives” are telling fairy tales about guns again.

Back in 1987, when Florida became the first major state to pass a “shall-issue” law, Senator Ron Silver set a standard for rhetoric (“It’ll be like Dodge City”, “there’ll be blood running in the streets”) that he, at least, had the decency to admit was overblown ten years after the fact, when it turned out that not only had nothing he or the bill’s other detractors predicted came true, but that law-abiding citizens with carry permits were about 1/100 as likely to commit any crime at all as the general public.

The standard was “topped”, of course, here in Minnesota during the final debate on the Minnesota Personal Protection Act.  During the final debate on the floor vote in 2003, the Senate DFL caucus came out to the floor wearing flak jackets.  Wes “Lying Sack of Garbage” Skoglund continued his years-long trail of just-plain delusional fantasy, claiming that “gang-bangers will be able to get permits” and “I’m worried carry permit holders will be stalking me”.

Of course, every single casualty of post-MPPA carry permits to date – I can think of one, actually – was ruled justifiable.  The Hiawatha Light Rail line kills more people in a typical year, none of them justified.

Still, you can’t blame “progressives” for resorting to fantasy and delusion when attacking pro-Second Amendment legislation; since the facts are against them and the law (from the SCOTUS on down) is against them, it’s really all they have.

And “Spotty” from Cucking Stool is reliably cliché-driven on the subject (yep, he’s even done the “gunnies are teh compensating” narrative, a few years back).  So he’s not exactly breaking new ground with this post on the Cornish “Stand Your Ground” bill (which I wrote about last week).  Although it’s an interesting little view into a “progressive’s” fantasy life:

But officer, I felt so threatened

Sir, I see you standing over the dead body of that man, and you’re holding a gun. Care to explain yourself?

Well, officer, I shot him.

I figured that. But can you tell me why?

He threatened me.

What did he say?

Well he didn’t say anything, actually.

Did he pull a gun or a knife, or take a swing at your?

No, not really.

What do you mean, “not really?” What did he do that you felt justified in killing him?

He gave me the stink eye and well, he kind of sucked his teeth. It really scared me.

Okay then. Sorry to bother you. Say, can you move aside so we can get at this guy? We have to take him to the morgue and call his family and stuff; I need to pull his wallet.

Sure; no prob.

Scary!

This may be a scenario coming to a corner near you.

But only if the cop and the county attorney don’t bother figuring out if the shooter had a legitimate fear of death or great bodily harm (“stink-eye” doesn’t cut it, even in the most conservative counties in Minnesota), or if lethal force was appropriate  under the circumstances (ibid), or if the shooter was a willing participant in the squabble.

Which are, I’m sure, annoying technicalities to “Spot”, but pretty much life-and-death to anyone who needs to defend his/herself.

Also, the law.

I’m just picking on Cornish because’s he the Chairman of the Public Safety Committee in the House — of the chief authors of HF 1467, a bill that, inter alia, removes the obligation of a person to retreat from a threatening situation, if possible, before opening fire. Under the bill, if an individual “reasonably” (ah, the devil is in the details, isn’t it?) believes there is a threat to him or her or a third person, they’ll be justified in using deadly force to meet the threat. It’s a little more complicated than that, but you can read the whole bill at the link. And here are some of the key sections of the bill. It’s in pdf format,

[Well, not just PDF .  See 609.065, Subd. 2 in the linked bill - Ed.]

Here are the circumstances when deadly force is authorized. The first subsection is already permitted under Minnesota law, the second probably is, too, save for the issue of a safe retreat. The third subsection is quite vague, and it is a complete departure from current Minnesota law. A “forcible felony” might include something like breaking and entering (burglary) on property that is not occupied, and which is not even yours. This is the true vigilante section of the bill.

I’m getting tired of typing “this is just patent rubbish”.  I need a hot key of some kind.  But you get the idea.

There is nothing “vigilante” about it.  One of the biggest ambiguities of Minnesota’s self-defense law is that while current law – dating back to well before the Minnesota Personal Protection Act – allows citizens to use lethal force to defend themselves “or others” from death or great bodily harm (henceforth “GBH”), it gives prosecutors immense, and arbitrary, power over how they treat self-defense shooters – and force self-defense shooters to go down a very hazardous legal path to justify their actions.

The next subdivision of the proposed statute is the part that eliminates the duty to retreat if you can. The law has always permitted you to defend yourself, with deadly force if necessary, if you can’t retreat. But you do have a duty to avoid violence if you can.

“If you can”.

“Spotty” writes it with the blasé tone of someone for whom the concept is utterly academic.

If you’re ever in a life or death situation, it’s not.

Let’s delve into reality over the noon hour today.

Continue reading

Access, Part II

It was April 28, 2003.  I sat in the public gallery of the Minnesota State Senate, with a legal pad (this back when WiFi was kinda rare, much less Air Cards), scrawling madly on a legal pad, writing down the salient points of the debate going on below – the final debate on the (intial) passing of the Minnesota Personal Protection Act.

As I sat there, I knew three things as clearly as I could see Ellen Anderson theatrically donning a flak jacket:

  1. After 16 years of reading, study and activism, I knew more about this issue than most of the legislators on the floor, and any of the Capitol Press contingent – the Pat Kesslers and Laura McCollums and even Bill Salisburys – in the building.
  2. Had I been able to do what reporters were able to – go out on the floor after the close of debate, to interview the likes of Wes Skoglund and Ellen Anderson and Linda Berglin – I could have gone a long way toward presenting the public a much better, clearer, more complete accounting of the issue than they got from the mainstream media – which, to be fair, had come a long way, at least in terms of fairness, in the previous seven years.
  3. I would not get that chance – because I was not “the media”.  I was just a mere peasant with a blog.  And that just didn’t count, back then.

The media landscape has changed since 2003 – a lot.  And Minnesota has led the way; bloggers, especially conservatives, have blazed the trail for the rest of the alternative media, knocking down walls that had stood for generations between “media” and democracy.

But not in the Minnesota state capitol.

As of the beginning of this session, there were two ways to get media credentials to the Minnesota State Senate:

  • Be a reporter who worked for a short list of old-media outlets that were spelled out, word for word, in the Senate Rules; newspapers like the Strib and the PiPress; radio stations like WCCO and KSTP-AM, which hasn’t deployed a fulltime reporter to the Capitol since Cathy Wurzer worked there, back when I worked there, in 1986, and MPR.  The big TV stations.  And that was about it.
  • Get vouched in with the Sergeant at Arms by a Senator or caucus staffer.  These were usually “day passes” – short-term access to cover debates on hot-button issues.

It was both an anachronism – there is no mention of new media anywhere in the Senate rules – and a political football.  Things came to a head in the 2009-2010 session, as the DFL caucus gave credentials to “The Uptake” – a very liberal group videoblog – but denied them to Saint  Cloud conservative talk show host Dan Ochsner for being “partisan”.

The worm looked like it was turning this session; early on, the the Senate, now controlled by the MNGOP, denied credentials to all partisan news outlets, including the Uptake.

This was the road to madness – and, likely, litigation.

About this time a month ago, Senate GOP Caucus Communications director Michael Brodkorb – who is also the deputy chair of the MNGOP, a former blog star from his days running Minnesota Democrats Exposed, and incidentally my former “Northern Alliance Radio Network” colleague  – asked MinnPost’s David Brauer and I to participate in a working group to revamp the rules.  The goals were pretty simple; to…:

  • Remove the partisanship from the process of determining who was a “journalist” and, more germanely, which “journalists” got credentials.
  • Set up a fair, transparent, non-partisan process for apportioning these press credentials that both protected the interests of the legacy media (which have invested a lot of time and money in covering the Capitol over the years) with the imperative to legitimize and normalize access from the New Media.
  • Make the process fast, simple and inexpensive for the non-partisan Senate staffers – the Sergeant at Arms’ office, the Senate Information Office and the Department of Administration – to run, and to add no extra burden or, in these cost-conscious times, expense to the process of administering press credentials.

Brauer was there in his rather unique capacity as both a vet of the  mainstream media and a reporter for a site that is a little bit old and a little bit new-media.  Me?  Although I’ve worked in the MSM, I was there mostly to represent new and, I suspect, explicitly partisan media.

On both the left and the right.

Last week, the working group – Brodkorb, Brauer, Majority Caucus staffer Cullen Sheehan, minority-caucus staffer Beau Berentson, Sergeant-at-Arms Sven Lindquist and me – had its last meeting, and handed off our final recommendations.  The recommendations went through the (non-partisan) lawyers, past us for one more round of making sure the lawyers were saying what we thought we were saying, and, today, to the Senate Rules Committee where, if all goes according to plan, Brauer and I will be testifying later this afternoon.

Brauer on the results:

Here’s what would happen if Senators approve our recommendations:

The Sergeant-at-Arms — a nonpartisan staffer — would administer the credentialing process. Senators and partisan staff are expressly prohibited from intervening unless a journalist appeals his or her rejection. (More on that in a bit.)

Believe me, nobody — not the politicians, not the Capitol press corps — wants to define who is a journalist. However, because Senate space is limited, we decided on a fairly low bar: Applicants for a session-long credential must include three pieces in any format in the past year on “matters before the legislature.” That can include blog posts, video, etc.

The proposed rules state “any opinion in such pieces is immaterial” for credentialing. Does this mean more “ideological” journalists will get credentials? Almost certainly yes.

Count on it.  I’m going to make a note to file next year.

But the Minnesota and U.S. Constitutions don’t limit freedom of the press to perceived non-ideologues.

However, publications “owned or controlled” by lobbyists, political parties and party organizations “shall not be granted credentials.” Lobbyists are currently barred from the Senate floor.

The entire proposal, post-counsel, is here.

Credentialing, by the way, means…:

  • You can get in line for one of the six seats on the Senate floor (stage-left from the podium), or ten seats reserved for media in the Gallery. Four of the floor seats are reserved for the “mainstream” media that rents space in the Capitol basement; the other two are “first-come, first served” seats for any other credentialed media.  Four of the ten gallery seats are reserved for TV cameras from the lessees downstairs, if they show up.
  • You can get material – agendas, roll-call votes and so on – from the Senate Information Office.
  • After the final gavel, you can go on the floor to interview Senators – provided that you follow the decorum rules and the Senate’s unwritten dress code (.  This is one thing that media people can do that the general public can not.

The most important part of these changes?   There is no partisan input into who is a “journalist”, or who is granted credentials.  The entire process is run by non-partisan staff, working to standards that leave the process open to pretty much anyone who wants to cover the Senate and who can make a fairly minimal commitment – writing three articles, not being a lobbyist or a party employee, following the decorum rules – to just about the lowest-possible barrier of entry to the term “journalist”.  You’ll need to apply for your session pass thirty days before the session kicks off.

And unlike the current system, there is recourse if you’re denied.  Brauer notes:

The Sergeant’s office has 14 days to review an application. That means if you want to cover opening day, get your application in by mid-December. It also means you can’t just drop in on the Capitol and declare yourself a journalist. (There’s a separate provision for day passes.)

If the Sergeant’s office rejects an application, the reasons must be spelled out in writing. One legal advisor strongly suggested having an appeals process. Therefore, the matter would go to the Senate Rules committee, which must issue a decision within 14 days.

This does bring politicians into the mix. The concept is that the Senate is the final arbiter of its rules (short of the courts, where applicants can always turn). Could Senators bum-rush an applicant they didn’t like? It’s possible. But unlike the current process, the debate would occur in public and be governed by their rules, which again, forbid consideration of opinion.

The upshot:  bloggers, talk-radio hosts, videobloggers, and traditional news media will be considered journalists, for purposes of getting credentials, if the Rules Committee and then the Senate passes the proposal.  Partisanship will not be either a disqualifier or a factor in apportioning access.

Having a good alarm clock, however, will.

I think it’s a fair trade.

Muzzle Blast From The Past

At the bottom of a Bloomberg column yesterday, it reads:

(Ann Woolner is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.)

The opinions she expressed are also something I haven’t run across since West “Dirty Liar” Skoglund left office and the public eye: the kind of comical, context-challenged buncombe that more-or-less savvy gun control advocate stopped using ten years ago.

In other words, I fisk this column for the same reason “historical re-enactors” dress up in Civil War uniforms and re-enact the Battle of Antietam; partly so that people don’t forget how bad things were, and partly for the sheer joy of blasting away at a target that can’t maneuver. Continue reading

Gutless

A few weeks ago, Tracy Eberly wrote – with characteristic political incorrectness – a piece that capped off with the line “If you are biking to save the environment, keep it up and the law of averages says we’ll have a few less Obama voters in November.” 

Now, as usual on subjects where Tracy and I disagree, I’m right and Tracy’s wrong.  Not necessarily about most bikers supporting Obama – most of the lycra-and-Bianchi crowd does.  Oh, things like this…:

If you bike for your health, you’d better have a large life insurance policy as you’re risking your life.

…are worth a whack; waking up in the morning and doing anything but lying in bed involves “risking your life”.

But even though Tracy’s wrong, he’s still one of the good guys – and one of the fundamental tenets of being a good conservative is “argue amongst yourselves until your jaws fall off – but if the orcs intrude, close ranks“. 

Emily Kaiser at the City Pages – which seems to be on its way toward becoming an even less-credible operation than the Minnesoros “Independent” these days – took time off from her gruelling schedule of ignoring the thud-witted cloddish selective insensitivity of Twin Cities leftyblogs to huff and puff and write a piece in which she expressed the vapours over Eberly’s un-PC-itude.

And the usual lefty trolls came out in the comment section – most notably “Scottsdale Woman“, a risible “feminist” “blog” “writer” who threatened to sic both law-enforcement and hordes of angry bikers with both left-wing sympathies and handguns on drivers who vex bikers – simultaneously violating Minnesota self-defense law and confirming Wes Skoglund’s fears about armed citizens, albeit not the ones I’d suspect provoked his years-long fit of dissociation.  “She” also left a comment about Tracy’s place of employment – which, given the number of class acts among leftybloggers in this city, is tantamount to taping a “Stalk Me!” sign on his back.

A couple of us responded, to Kaiser and Scottsdale woman, in the comment section.

And while Scottsdale Woman and all of her wacko defamation remains, pristine and undisturbed, it’d seem that the City Pages’ moderators have chosen to remove all comments critical of Ms. Kaiser, her reporting, and of the depravity (and factual dim-bulbitude) of some of the commenters. 

Which is their right; it’s private property.

It’s also singularly gutless.

Which is kind of sad; City Pages used to put some courage behind their adenoidal shrieking.

Agent ProViolentDramaQueenateur

I commute via bike. I do it because I enjoy it, because I’ve lost 2-4 pants sizes in the past five months, and because it’s a just-plan-good time.

Although I just started biking seriously again in June of 2007, I had a ton of experience as an urban and distance biker. I’m pretty defensive (and I write that knowing that in doing so I’ve very likely written something that can be used as an ironic coda by some jagoff in the event of a mishap in the future), because when biking in the city, everything you do can kill you, and everything you don’t do can kill you, and everything someone else does or doesn’t do can kill you.

Which was what I worried about last spring, when I saw hordes of new bicyclists joining us out on the road. You could tell lots of them were newbies; I saw lots of telltale signs of the less-experienced biker; innocuous ones like coasting down long hills (better to keep pedalling, even if it’s just freewheeling, to keep your muscles from cooling off), and serious ones, like zoning out on busy streets. I joked with a few other bikers that we could expect a heavy toll of accidents among all those newbies out there.

Sadly but inevitably, that’s pretty much what happened.

Being a conservative and a biker, I get plenty of flak from both sides; some conservatives take the car culture as a matter of pride (as do I – or as would I, if I had a cooler car) and take a lot of really dumb rhetorical swats at bikers; many bikers are pretty chauvinistic about their left-centeredness.

There’s a big, important story in there; bikes are different than cars. Some cities – like Boise, Idaho – recognize that bikes are not just spindlier looking cars, and have changed their laws (bikes can regard stop signs as “Yields”, and stop lights as signs). The changes will do doubt piss off drivers – although they shouldn’t, since people who follow the laws will never run afoul of each other anyway. There are good, health and safety-related reasons for these changes. Which doesn’t change the fact that some bikers are just plain dumb and/or inexperienced (above and beyond the whole “Democrat” thing), and some conservatives say really dumb things about bikers.

No big surprise there, right?

Of course, given a choice between a real story and a dumb sideshow, the local alt-media knows what to cover.

Emily Kaiser caught Anti-Strib being un-PC:

The latest from the Anti-Strib blog is sure to get hardcore bikers and Sen. Barack Obama fans riled up. After recent reports of deaths and injuries due to the increasing numbers of commuters taking to their bikes for a primary mode of transportation, the Anti-Strib blog says it might help Sen. John McCain win the election.

Gosh. Hyperbole. Hardly new at Anti-Strib – or the City Pages, for that matter.

Not that it matters; I haven’t read a dead-tree edition of the CP in years, and doubt I’ve willingly patronized one of their advertisers in even longer.

But the comment section was where things got interesting mildly loathsome. “Scottsdale Woman”, proprietor of local deranged-nutbar hangout “Mercury Rising”, wrote:

Oh, and by the way: A heavy-duty cyclist of my acquaintance [I couldn't help but laugh when I read that "heavy-duty cyclist" bit, picturing a 400 pound guy on a recumbent - Ed.] wants you to know two (2) [Two (2)? You mean deux (II)? Please be more specific - Ed.] things:

1) Your comments are being reported as terroristic threats to the Minneapolis and Saint Paul police departments, and:

Oh, goody.

This is, of course, the same whinging crone who responded to my call for vigilance of anti-RNC protestors by calling me a “provocateur”. But let Tracy Eberly take a joking swipe at her 400-pound friends, and suddenly she’s Ms. (?) Law and Order?

(And if there’s anyone at the metro police departments would could pass this “forwarding” on, that’d be much appreciated).

And I loved this bit:

2) A growing number of cyclists now carry handguns.

Wow.

I’d go to Mercury Rising to see how Scottsdale Woman stood on the Minnesota Personal Protection Act, but that’d involve…well, going to Mercury Rising. That’s just crazy talk.

But it’s ironic, isn’t it, that Wes Skoglund was partly right? That there are people out there who will turn traffic accidents into shootouts? Of course, like Scottsdale Woman, they are lefties and Obama groupies, not actual gunnies. Not that that’s a surprise.

And while as a long-time carry-permit-reform activist I would never dream of confirming or denying anyone actually carries anything, and stipulating that it’s very hard to find a good carry rig for biking (yet another reason to eschew that skin-tight lycra crap), I have to ask – how in-freaking-credibly stupid is this “woman?”

She’s taking it on herself to remind the car-driving public – even the a**holes who don’t like bikers – that some of us might be carrying?

Thanks for nothing!

“She” also does a drive-by outing of Tracy Eberly’s place of employment. Which brings us to a modest proposal.

This city is clogged with anonymous bloggers, invariably lefties, who make scabrous claims and gutless ad-hominem attacks from behind pseudonyms, taking big, brave (and usually fact-challenged) swats at peoples’ ethics, personalities and histories. Some of these attacks – like “Scottsdale Woman’s” in the City Pages – are direct attacks on peoples’ livelihoods.

I can’t help but think that some of these people would be a lot more polite if they – like most of us conservative bloggers, Hinderaker and Johnson, Morrissey, Brodkorb, Banaian, Eberly, Tucci and, er, yours truly – had their real names out there.

So maybe it’s time to abolish the anonymous leftyblog; to find, and “out”, the most egregiously gutless, the ones that attack from cover and skitter away behind their anonymity.

Not to say it’d be easy; it’s not that hard to cover your tracks in the world of blogs.

But if there’s one thing conservative bloggers are good at, it’s finding things we’re not supposed to find. And if there’s one thing anonymous leftybloggers are good at, it’s having stuff we’re not supposed to find.

No, I have no idea how. Just saying.

This One’s For Heather Martens and Wes Skoglund

Just to set the stage for the Supreme Court’s Heller decision, which should be coming out in the next couple of weeks.

Check this out:

Wow. Lookit all those guns – most of them fully-automatic weapons. And that ain’t the half of ‘em.

Here’s the other half:

Not just fully-automatic weapons by the dozen! Not just big ones – two M2HB .50 caliber machine guns, another with the WWII aerial barrel, Russian and German water-cooled Maxims, and a Pearl-Harbor-vintage Browning water-cooled M1 .50, an even dozen Tommy guns, and a few AK-series that seem downright prosaic in comparison – but a flamethrower.

Why, with all those machine guns, this guy must have killed hundreds of people out in the street!

Well, no. It’s the gun collection of the late Charlton Heston, who never killed a guy that didn’t come back to life for the second take.

I’m wondering if the estate will lend it to the MOB for “MOB Day At the Range”, coming soon to a firing range near you?

Just Another Guy Stalking Wes Skoglund

I saw this story, and had to write about it.

To set the stage; “Xavier” the blogger was out shopping at WalMart with his daughter.  They left the store.  Then, he noticed something was amiss.  They were being followed by a couple of young toughs:

I saw our vehicle and began to approach it, but I wanted to be certain. I walked past, and cut between two unoccupied SUVs, grabbing a shopping cart to block the path from my front. The man on my right turned towards me and cursed as he saw his path was blocked by the cart jammed between the two vehicles sideways. I spun and drew my pistol from it’s holster, keeping it at low ready, facing off the other young man who was quickly approaching me from behind. My thumb had already snicked off the safety and Little Darling, confused, peered from behind me.

It seemed an eternity looking into the menacing, sneering face of the hoodlum who had began his approach from my rear. He sized up the man with the gun, a little girl behind him. I heard nothing to my rear. Not a word was spoken. Then “God damned mother fucker…….” he snarled as he sauntered away. I said nothing. I couldn’t. I turned to the rear, shoving Little Darling to the side. Nobody was there. I pivoted back around, my gun still at low ready. Nobody. I waited between the SUVs. Within seconds, a mother with her child in tow strolled past. I took my daughter’s sack, as well as her her little hand, and used my remote to unlock my Jeep’s doors two vehicles away. I held my pistol in my right hand, concealed underneath my jacket and left arm as we made our way to the vehicle.

I made Little Darling enter the driver’s side and told her to crawl over. As she scurried past the console, I followed and locked the doors behind us. It was clear behind us as I started the engine. Then a green Cadillac paused behind us. I was trapped. The blue haired lady waited a moment in her Caddy, and then pulled forward. I took the opportunity and quickly backed out. I drove to an area of the parking lot that was empty for at least 75 feet all around us. I left the motor running.

Xavier describes the symptoms of the “adrenaline dump” that usually accompanies these sorts of situations:

I opened my cell phone and struggled to call the police. My fingers were still suffering from the loss of fine motor skills

And he describes wondering about some of the things that to non-shooters are commonplaces:

Through church and over the next few days I was perplexed. Why would a man of my stature, a fit six foot one, be chosen as prey by two criminals? I could not understand it. Those kind of things happened to the elderly, women, the weak. They did not happen to big guys with crew cuts and broken noses. Hell, most of the time, all it took was a cold professional stare to change the direction of young men. Was my world changing? Was I getting older? Did it show? Or were the cretins becoming bolder? I was dumbfounded. I did not know why I was singled out as prey, and it bothered me. I began to grow apprehensive. I could not change it unless I knew why, and I was still going into the worst of neighborhoods to provide nursing service. Were these thugs targeting me specifically? Did they know me? Had I unwittingly crossed into some unknown gangland pissing grounds? God damn it, did they want my child?

Thankfully, Xavier lives in one of the forty states that believes the demonstrably law-abiding citizen should have the edge over gang-banging scum.

Which includes Minnesota only as long as we, the people (Republicans and responsible DFLers) keep the likes of Wes Skoglund out of power.

Still, it was a lesson reaffirmed. We never know when or why an attack might commence. We do not know what lengths others might take to obtain that which they deem valuable. It is impossible to predict any and all contingencies. Because of the differences between people, and the dangers that result from those differences, we can only be prepared to protect ourselves and our children, at any time, by any means necessary.

(Via Miss O)

Strib: “You Better Run Like Hell”

If you’ve read this blog before, you’ve read this bit at least once.

In Minnesota, if you choose and need to defend yourself or your family with lethal force, you must meet all four of the following criteria:

  1. You can’t be a willing participant in the struggle: you can’t dive into a fist-fight and then shoot your way out of it.
  2. You must reasonably fear death or “great bodily harm”: That means “a jury’s gotta buy it”.
  3. The force you use must be reasonable under the circumstances: If the police come to your house to find a body with no knife or gun, but clutching your TV, Tivo and monitor, you might have trouble with this one.
  4. And finally, You must make every reasonable means to de-escalate the confrontation: That meansyou must back away from the altercation.  In the home, that means you have to try to back away.  There are limits, of course; if you are in a wheelchair, you’re not expected to develop superhuman strength and agility; if it’s -40 outside and there’s a howling wind and you have an infant, no jury and few prosecutors would fault you for shooting; if you have kids sleeping upstairs and your abusive ex-spouse has come through the door with a chainsaw, backing away is a very relative thing.

This last one is one of the most confusing.  Does it mean, assuming that you got parts 1-3 right, that you:

  • can defend yourself in your house, but not in your garage?
  • must retreat from the first floor to the second floor?
  • must – barring any other people in the house or other circumstances – back into the far corner of your house before you shoot?
  • can’t defend yourself if a rapist catches you on the patio or in the far corner of the back yard?
  • are legally vulnerable to a zillion other situational permutations?

The answer – as for so many of life’s persistent questions – is “it depends”.  In this case, it depends on the zeal of your county prosecutor; if you have a zealous one who hates citizen self-defense (like Amy Klobuchar was, or Sue Gaertner is), that translates to “big legal bills” at best, prison time and a lifetime in civil court at worst.

Solving that – removing some of the vagaries of defending ones’ own home against a serious threat covered by all four of the criteria above – is the point of an eminently sensible bill introduced in the Minnesota House by Rep. Tony Cornish (R, naturally, Good Thunder) that would, as I read it, clarify that corner of Minnesota’s self-defense law.

Naturally, since it empowers real people against criminals, the Strib opposes it, for reasons that are stupid and misleading even by the Strib Editorial Board’s standards.

Oh, it starts out with the truth.

Well, at least conveniently-redacted bit of it:

It’s one of the most frightening scenarios imaginable: While enjoying the sanctity of your own home, intruders break in. When that happens, shouldn’t you have every right to defend yourself?

Under current Minnesota laws, you can.

Which is true, in the same sense that I “can” get a date with Scarlett Johannsen.  The devil – or, in this case, the “long prison term” – is in the details.

Minnesota statutes already indemnify citizens from criminal charges if they wound or kill an intruder inside their home.

I’m no lawyer (and either is Joel Rosenberg, but I’ll page him anyway, since he both wrote the book and taught my concealed carry class), but that indemnification is subject to your shooting being legally justified – and that fourth criterion, “backing away”, is so legally ambiguous and open to so much interpretation.

Hence, the Strib is being technically accurate, but literally misleading.

However, a proposed change would allow the use of deadly force in a garage, a deck, a porch or an occupied car.

The revision would give citizens more legal leeway to shoot or kill anyone they perceive as a threat. On the street or any other public place, there would no longer be an obligation to try to avoid trouble before using a gun in self defense.

This, however, isn’t even technically accurate.  You’ll still have to “avoid trouble”; see condition #1, above.  The trouble still has to come to you, and not go away when asked.  Cornish’s bill merely makes the fourth criterion, “backing away” or “disengaging”, less legally ambiguous and prone to the prosecutor’s caprice.

And the proposal would lower the standard for firing from fear of “great” harm to fear of “substantial” harm.

I’d like to know if the Strib editorial writer knows the difference between the two.

It’s not an obtuse question; indeed, both terms have legal definitions.  And it’s a legal technicality (where “Technicality” means “term of technique or art” rather that “niggling obtusion”) that can put people in jail – people who otherwise met every criterion for self-defense, but whose prosecutors were able to convince a jury that the threat they faced, under duress, was only of “substatial” rather than “great” bodily harm.  If someone’s swinging a razor blade rather than a butcher knife, should it mean the difference between freedom and prison?

Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, recently introduced the measure, arguing that it’s a logical extension of current law. Minnesotans should not “have to be lawyers,” he says, to determine whether and how they can protect themselves. He contends his bill would give armed law-abiding citizens confidence that they wouldn’t be prosecuted for using deadly force.

This is a classic case of proposed legislation in search of a problem. Neither Cornish nor local law enforcement can cite a single case of people wrongly jailed in this state for killing in self defense.

So what?

We have to wait until an honest, law-abiding citizen shoots a scumbag in his backyard rather than try to flee to his back porch?  Or because someone doesn’t try to run upstairs rather than shoot a charging attacker?

How many honest, law-abiding citizens’ lives and freedoms must be sacrificed to feed the Strib’s need to…keep the law vague?

Around the country, the National Rifle Association (NRA) is promoting such extensions of the so-called “Castle Doctrine,” laws that protect people who use firearms to defend themselves in their homes. NRA leaders believe the laws are needed to prevent crime victims from being prosecuted or jailed. In the last two years, 20 states have enacted laws that allow people to shoot first and ask questions later, if they catch a criminal in their homes.

And here, the Strib descends from “technically accurate” to “lying through its’ filthy teeth”.

In no case can a citizen legally “shoot first and ask questions later”.  

Each of those twenty laws merely enables a citizen to shoot without first being required to attempt to flee.

That is all.

The writer is lying.

Nationally and in Minnesota, county attorneys and major police associations rightly oppose that approach.

“Major police associations” are controlled by major-city cops, who are pretty universally beholden to the Tic party.  They are nothing but reliable quotes for anti-gun editorial writers.

And stop the presses – “county attorneys” oppose legislation that removes their discretion!  Who’da thunk it?

Still, those statements are merely dumb.  The rest of this editorial is almost too venally untruthful to be called a mere “lie”; indeed, it looks as if the Strib is farming out their editorial writing to Wes Skoglund:

Giving people carte blanche can encourage vigilantes and promote even more gunplay while weakening police powers. According to a state police official, it’s unreasonable to support laws that give citizens more authority to use force than cops.

Which is a lie for which the conveniently-anonymous “state police official” should be sanctioned.  Cornish’s law doesn’t change the standards for self-defense; it merely clarifies them.  Police standards for self-defense are vastly looser, and remain that way.

Extending the right to shoot an intruder in a garage, for example, sets the stage for spilling blood or taking a life over property.

Only if the law is amended to cover property! Until then, the four criteria for self defense – all four! – must be met to a standard that’ll convince a jury!

But the only rationale for employing force that can kill is protection of life and limb. It is indeed a slippery slope when the law could condone killing someone over the theft of a bicycle.

Only if prosecutors and juries lose the ability to discern what is a “threat of death or substantial bodily harm”.

Another unintended consequence could be giving legal cover to real criminals. The proposed legislation would eliminate the duty to retreat and avoid danger if reasonably possible. Prosecutors say that means crimes committed during bar fights or gang shootouts could become more difficult to prove.

Editorial writer!  Slapnuts!  See the first criterion!  One can not be a willing participant for self-defense to be legal

Nothing in Cornish’s bill changes that!

A House subcommittee chairman has promised to give the Cornish proposal a hearing this session. But the deadly force change should not advance beyond that stage. Under current gun laws, Minnesotans already have enough legal protection to defend themselves at home or anywhere else.

Provided they have the money to work a judge, prosecutor and jury through all the technicalities.

The Strib; telling the convenient half of the story, when it fits.