A Watchdog That Only Barks At Mailmen

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

They completely missed the real scandal, which is President Obama’s imperial disregard for the law, but at least this is a step in the right direction. Sorry about the annoying survey pop-up, no wonder nobody reads that newspaper.

Gun-running to Mexico and refusing to enforce the borders don’t bother the editors. Closing the ocean is no problem. Targeting Americans for drone strikes is fine. But sneak a peek at a journalist’s email and they turn on you like savages.

Better late than never.

Joe Doakes

it’s hard to come up with even a short list of things that’ve disgusted me about this administration, and about this country during this administration, but on the very short list would have to be the fact that the media only act like watchdogs when the media, itself, is affected.

There needs to be in accounting for that, someday.

Trulbert!, Part II – Blink

 – 9PM, Saturday, August 30 – Somewhere in South Minneapolis, MN
It had been a long, brutal day – exactly enough to make Paul Hendrickson wish he’d gone to his sister-in-law’s baby shower with his wife instead. Ten hours in the office chasing bugs, another day’s worth coming up tomorrow, and no end in sight.

And nobody at home; Lynn had taken the kids to visit their cousins up in Bemidji, and nobody would be home until Sunday night.

He drove up Hiawatha Avenue, past the desultory light rail and spotty car traffic, and saw a joint he’d never seen before - the “Invisible Hand” Bar and Grill, on Hiawatha somewhere in the forties.  One of the girls in QA had told him they made a great burger.

But they had me at beer, Hendrickson thought, as he tried to remember the last time he’d been in a bar without either his wife or his co-workers.  Since the Clinton years, for sure, he mused as he pulled into the parking lot.  He hesitated – I could just nuke some leftover beef stew, he thought – before turning off the car and walking into the bar.  He yawned loudly as he walked into the bar.  A whiteboard sign pointed an arrow labeled “Seat Yourself” to the left, and “TRU LBRT, The Gathering!” to the right.

Defininitely want “Seat  Yourself“,Hendrickson thought, absent-mindedly turning to the right.

He stepped into a large back-room, about half full of people, and grabbed a seat at a table and opened a menu.

“Welcome!”, chirped Dave Os, in a different tweed jacket, wering a different bow-tie, sitting down at Hendrickson’s table.

“Um…hello?” Hendrickson replied, looking suspiciously over the top of his menu.

“So what’s your interest in liberty?” Os asked, his fingers absendmindedly running through the impeccably-tended whiskers of his beard.

“Um – I’m strongly in favor?”  Hendrickson replied looking for a waitress.

“Good!”, said Os, as Ron Pallsacher – wearing a Gadsden flag t-shirt – sat down next to him.

“So…why are you asking me?” asked Hendrickson, looking for a waitress who seemed not to be coming at all.

“Oh, you’re at the TRU LBRT gathering!”, said Pallsacher, pronouncing it “True Liberty”.

“Huh.  I guess I’m in the wrong room”.

“Or maybe the right room”, Os said.  “I mean, do you value freedom, don’t you?”

“Well, I’m married, so clearly it’s an academic question to me…”

“So you don’t value liberty?”, Pallsacher chimed in, missing the joke.

“No, no, of course I do…although I really don’t know what you’re getting at”, Hendrickson said, giving up on the waitress for the moment.

“What we’re getting at”, said Pallsacher, “is that government takes away your liberty, and we’re going out to take it back”. Os nodded.

“Ah.  I gotcha.  Well, sort of”, Hendrickson said, leaning forward in his chair, dusting off a mental drawer that hadn’t been opened in quite a few years of not reading much about politics.  “Like what liberties have we lost?”

“Oh, like the Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures”, Os said, nervously twisting a lock of his beard into a little spike, then un-twisting it.

“Oh yeah – like all those no-knock SWAT team raids.  Yeah, I’ve heard about those.  Those are bad news”.

“Or taxes!”, said Pallsacher, his fists clenched in excitement as Arnie Quist, wearing fashionably unwashed raw-denim jeans and a formal seed cap, sat down next to Hendrickson.

“Well, yeah – my taxesaremighty high”, Hendrickson nodded, casting a suspicious glance at Quist. 
“Why should you have to pay any taxes at all?”, Os asked. 
“Er…to support the government?”, Hendrickson replied gingerly, provoking chuckles from Os, Pallsacher and Quist.
“Most of our problems stem from government”, Quist said, to enthusiastic nods from Os and Pallsacher. 
“You’re telling me.  I work in healthcare software.  What a freaking nightmare”, Hendrickson said, to nods from the other men. 
“It’s so far beyond healthcare.  Most of the problems in this world are caused by government.  That’s why I’m an anarcho-capitalist”, said Os. 
“Huh”, said Hendrickson, sorting out the phrase in his head.  “Capitalism without government.  So how does that work?”
“Very well!”, said Quist. 
“Where?” asked Hendrickson.
“Well, nowhere, yet”
“OK, I figured that.  But I mean, literally – how does it work?   How do you have capitalism without some sort of court system to enforce contracts?”
“Courts can be corrupted by the banksters that control goverment”, Quist chimed in, as Oz Streachan sat next to Os. 
“Right, I get that.  But how do you enforce contracts?  I mean, I’ve had to take vendors to court for non-delivery.  How do you do that without having some sort of government?”
“Everyone observes the NAP – the Non-Aggression Principle”, said Pallsacher. 
“They have no reason not to, without government distorting the free market”, added Os. 
“OK”, said Hendrickson, “I’m going to have to think about that one.  But this “non-aggression principle” brings up the other thing – like, defending the country…”, he said, stopping when all four men started laughing.  “OK, what?”
“Well”, said Quist, “wars happen because governments exist.  In a world without governments and the interests that control them, and everyone observing the Non-Aggression Principle, there’d be no need for defense, since there’d be no government to defend against”. 
“So everyone in the world will just suddenly agree to get along?”, Hendrickson asked, looking at the four men. 
“Well, it’ll take some time to win everyone over – which is what we’re working on tonight!”, said Quist. 
“So Al Quaeda will stop trying to kill us, because…”
“Because we won’t be trying to kill them”, said Streachan. 
“Gotcha.  OK – so who builds the roads?”
The four men – now joined by Frena Marquette and Bill Durburgh – erupted laughing.
“Who’ll ‘build the roads’”, Quist chuckled. 
“Yeah, never heard that one before!” guffawed Streachan. 
Hendrickson looked among his six tablemates.   “OK, so how do roads get built – say, a road between two cities across private land, without any recourse to eminent domain?”
“The private market will settle it”, Os and Durburgh responded, as Pallsacher answered “Really, there can be no more inland cities”, while Streachan and Quist chimed in “Hover cars!”, and Marquette replied “their problem, not mine”.
Hendrickson looked at them.  “Huh.  Interesting.  So the the perfect world will become perfect through the complete lack of government?”
“Yes!”, answered all six immediately.
“Interesting”, Hendrickson replied.  “Hey – I’m supposed to meet someone across town.  Nice to meet you all.  Gotta dash”. 
Os handed Hendrickson a business card reading “Dave Os – Social De-Engineer”.  “Call me if you want to get involved!”
“Will do!”, said Hendrickson.  “Nice to meet you all”, he said, side-stepping toward the door. 

– 11AM East China Time, Sunday, August 31 – Shanghai, Peoples Republic of China

Field Marshal Li Wang H’sing groaned, half in pain, half in pleasure, as the masseuse’s fingers dug into the fleshy skin of his upper back.

Li’s uniform coat – hung neatly on the door to the room, whose view overlooked Shanghai harbor from the 42nd Floor of the Peoples’ Liberation Bank headquarters building – had six stars on the epaulettes. His ID card – tucked into his wallet, in his back pants pocket, also hanging from the door – identified him as as the Commander of the People’s Liberation Bank.

And the masseuse – an 18 year old girl from Sichuan – was definitely in line for a promotion to Sergeant.

The door knocked, three times, briskly.

“Enter”, Li yelled in his dense, Shanghai accent.

Colonel Wu T’ang Klan – a trim, athletic 40-something man in a Peoples’ Liberation Army officer’s daily dress uniform with a “Cybercommando” patch on the left shoulder – entered the room. Eyeing the masseuse, he smiled – the perks of command were indeed excellent, he briefly mused, pondering his own evening’s plans after getting off duty in the Operations Center. But he shook the thought off.

“What is it, Wu?” Li groaned.

“Three things, Comrade Field Marshal. First – Commissioner Fong is going to be here at eight to discuss the matter of the natural gas exports”

Li groaned. It wasn’t the first time this issue had raised its head.

Wu continued “Your wife called. Her car is on the way”.

Li’s eyes popped open wide. “That was the second item of business? Are you mad?”

Wu continued, calmly. “The third, matter – the purchase of US Government Bonds”.

But Li was already up, rustling for his clothes. “Screw the bonds”, he muttered in his thick, Shanghai accent, nearly unintelligible to speakers of other Chinese dialects. Li usually spoke a higher dialect of Mandarin to avoid trouble…

…but not this day. He blurted it out.

And to Wu – a native of Szechuan – it sounded for all the world like “Sell the Bonds”.

“By your leave, Comrade Field Marshal”, he said, executing a crisp salute and leaving as the Field Marshal frantically got dressed.

Wu walked briskly down the hall toward the elevator, returning salutes from a group of People’s Liberation Army Commerce Guards. An elevator car was waiting, and he climbed in for his ride down to the basement Operations Center.

Wu knew Li was nobody to mess with. In a thirty year career in the Peoples’ Liberation Army, Li had been at the thick of every action. His record was well-known; a platoon leader during the building of the Hong Kong casinos; a company commander during the cracking of the encryption for the Microsoft Windows source code, he was promoted quickly to command a Battalion. Tasked with leading the merger and acquisition of a Welsh fish and chips chain, he’d led their expansion into Africa and Asia, getting him a Regiment command. And there he might have stalled – but for his near-miraculous turnaround on the response to a sell-off of an overleveraged derivate, which he turned from a defensive play to a major fiscal victory, getting him division and then Field Fiscal Army command. Then, during the bidding war to supply natural gas to Korea, he jumped over thousands of other three-star generals to become PLA Mergers and Acquisitions Director, which added three and then four stars to his shoulders. This brought him to command of the Peoples Liberation Bank three years ago – just in time to lead it to victory in the war over the deferred accrual of Singaporean derivatives, which led to the epic fiscal “Victory of the Ten Swans”, as it was called in the popular song that all the school children sang to Li’s honor. Tough, smart, politically bulletproof, Li was a good wagon for a young greyhound like Wu to be hitched to.

Then Wu laughed. Who would hitch a grayhound to a wagon?

This brought Wu to the Operations Center of the People’s Liberation Bank. He swiped his ID card, and the door slid open with a briskswish. He walked through a splendid marble anteroom, dotted with tables at which senior officers sat, talking furtively, drinking tea and scotch and discussing fiscal policy. A steward offered him a cup – an exquisite porcelain demitasse, no doubt a product of Hai’nan’s finest craftspeople – of the bank’s utterly divine strain of H’ung Lang tea. Wu took a sip, then another. Then, taking a deep breath, he left it on the table, and stepped to a door guarded by two Peoples’ Liberation Bank guards. As he returned the guards’ snappy salute, the door opened, and the serene, incense-scented quiet of the anteroom was bludgeoned with the noise of the Peoples’ Liberation Bank bond trading floor.

Wu stepped out onto the marble balcony, thirty feet above the trading floor, as the duty sergeant major bellowed “Attention”. The men on the balcony – the guards, four telephone talkers, and Lieutenant Wang Hung Long, the third-shift duty officer, snapped to attention, saluting the Colonel.

“As you were. Wang!”

“Sir!”

“Comrade Marshal Li has ordered we sell all American bonds”.

Wang grabbed a white binder from a shelf along the wall way from the floor, and flipped to the “bond sale” protocol. “Sir – I acknowledge the sale of all American government bonds!” He turned to Captain Shih Pang Fung. “Captain. Initiate a sell order on all American government bonds”.

Captain Shih turned to Wa How Chung, the grizzled old sergeant major. “Initiate a sale of all American government bonds”.

Sergeant Major Wa took a microphone, and pressed the talk key. As he started speaking, the floor fell quiet.

“Now hear this. How hear this. Initiate a complete sale of all American government bonds. I repeat; Initiate a complete sale of all American government bonds. That is all”.

The floor erupted in a cataract of noise, as lieutenant-colonels ordered the companies of their floor trading battalions into action. The company captains passed frantic orders to the sergeants, who ordered squads of private on the phones to start placing “sell” orders on American bonds. Paper carriers, their sergeants cursing at them and jogging at double time, brought more sale forms to the phone-men at the front line, who ran through the forms as fast as they could. Stretcher bearers carried the casualties off the floor, as replacements – scared and just out of business school – took their places on the phones.

Wu stood impassively, giving no sign of his anxieties as the battle drill unfolded below other than his right hand clencing and unclenching.

But finally – three hours later, Sergeant Wa Jin Kang, exhausted, shuffled through the piles of paper and stepped over exhausted comrades, carrying a Chinese flag up the steps to the balcony. He wearily stepped up the stairs, to the top, saluted Wu, and reported “Sir, we have sold the last of the bonds”.

Wu executed a snappy return salute, prompting a weary but loud cheer from the floor.

“As you were”, said Wu, wondering if anything would ever really be as it was again.

Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

Like most people of my generation, I was brought up to respect and trust the police.

Of course, conservatism is about enduring social orders, and, when absolutely necessary and when nothing else will work, applying judicious force to protect that order against those that would harm, rob or swindle others, within the boundaries of fair, just laws on which there was broad consensus.

But conservatism is also about limited government – the proverbial good government that governs least.

And it says impossible to miss as it is troubling to notice that nearly every day seems to bring another story of grotesque police overreach; of swat teams barging into the wrong house, shooting dogs and handcuffing people and terrorizing children (or, in one recent case, burning and disfiguring them with Military grade flash bang grenades) only to find that it’s the wrong address (and then tearing the place apart to find something, anything illegal to justify the raid, and still leaving the homeowners to pay for the damages; “rogue” cops trampling all over citizens rights.

On the one hand, criticizing the police goes against conservatives’ DNA, in some ways; it is a difficult and necessary job.

On the other hand, or the past 20 years the police have been getting more and more powerful – and, with the blessing of not a few courts that seem to forgotten what the Constitution was for, made the 4th amendment almost as meaningless as the 10th.

And criticizing the heavy handedness of the police doesn’t come without blowback; you can usually count on a few responses almost immediately:

  • “You could never do the job” – other than “reading addresses correctly” and knowing the difference between a dangerous dog and family pet barking to protect his family, you’re probably right. That’s why I pay taxes for the police department. As employees. Not feudal lords and masters.
  • “Without police, society would be overrun with criminals!” – For starters, it’s a strawman; nobody’s talking about getting rid of the police. Again, I pay taxes, in part, for a police force. As employees, to keep the order – not like medieval knights to whom I, the mere citizen, must bow and scrape.
  • “What’s the matter? If you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear from the police. Maybe you have something to hide…” – I’m not saying that people who say this with a straight, unironic face want a dictatorial police state. I’m just saying that dictatorial police states need lots of people who think this kind of idiocy to have a chance to take root. And in a society is overrun with rules and regulations as ours is, I think it’s fairly safe to say that absolutely no one hasn’t broken some sort of law.
  • “You can’t blame the police for wanting to come home alive at the end of the shift” – Absolutely. And watching the way the police sprayed fire at innocent civilians during the manhunt for rogue cop Christopher Dornan in California two years ago, or watching police wound nine people – none of them the perpetrator – chasing a shooter around the Empire State building in New York City, you can’t blame me for wanting to do the same.

AJ Delgado, writing in National Review,
points out the danger in unthinking, knee-jerk support for the police.

He starts with the obligatory disclaimer – although that’s not enough to forestall some of the knee-jerk reactions he gets his comments section:

Let’s get the obligatory disclaimer out of the way: Yes, many police officers do heroic works and, yes, many are upstanding individuals who serve the community bravely and capably.

But respecting good police work means being willing to speak out against civil-liberties-breaking thugs who shrug their shoulders after brutalizing citizens.

Read the whole thing.

Delgado points out that, but some statistical measures, police are actually better behaved than they used to be. And in an era where everyone has a cell phone with a video camera, it’s getting harder and harder for police to misbehave.

On the other hand, now that local police forces are running around with SWAT teams decks out in better battle rattle than the local National Guard unit, the stakes are even higher than they used to be.

Read the whole thing.

Marketing

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

It’s nice to feel welcome.
20140724-082838-30518143.jpg
Joe Doakes

i’m always puzzled by stores that post themselves “no firearms”. Carry permit holders are, on average, about 3% of Minnesota customers. Members of every gun-control organization combined amount to less than 1% of 1%.

How many people would you rather have stay away from your business?

Every Parent A Felon

When I was five years old, I walked to kindergarten every day. It was three blocks each way. For that matter, so did nearly every other five-year-old who lived within three blocks of the place.

The next year? First grade? I and all my friends walked six blocks each way to school.

My parents would probably be arrested today.

That’s the subject of Ross Douthat’s latest.

And besides the usual snickering at the overweening, overprotective helicopter parent run amok, Douthat points out something much more corrosive:

Third is an erosion of community and social trust, which has made ordinary neighborliness seem somehow unnatural or archaic, and given us instead what Gracy Olmstead’s article in The American Conservative dubs the “bad Samaritan” phenomenon — the passer-by who passes the buck to law enforcement as expeditiously as possible. (Technology accentuates this problem: Why speak to a parent when you can just snap a smartphone picture for the cops?)

20 years of watching John Walsh has turned us into a nation of Dwight Schrutes.

Except when child protective services gets involved, nobody walks away laughing.

Eggs For The Omelet, As It Were

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Michelle Obama wants grocery stores to install talking grocery carts that will encourage shoppers to buy healthier food.
I predict that as soon as my medical records become part of Obama-care, the NSA will monitor the bar code scanner as I load the talking grocery cart with purchases and when it sees the package of Hostess Ding Dongs, a red light will flash and the cart will shout “HELP HELP UNWISE FOOD CHOICE IN AISLE THREE” until a Team Member arrives to take away the unhealthy item to replace it with a nice head of broccoli.
I can hardly wait.
Joe Doakes

It’ll have to do until the kids are trained to do the ratting-out more reliably.

Trulbert! Part I: State Of Affairs

– 8AM, Wednesday, August 29, 2014 – Longfellow Neighborhood, South Minneapolis

Myron Ilktost fumbled in his pocket for his keychain.

“Don’t forget to lock the door!” bellowed a disembodied female voice from at least two rooms away inside the house.

“I’ve got it,  honey”, Ilktost replied, straining to make his thin, reedy voice heard over the dishwasher that was clanking away in the kitchen.  As he shut the door, the woman – Iris, his wife of 32 years – bellowed “because you keep forgetting!”.

“Locking it now, honey”, he replied, shutting the door and turning the key.

He kept the keychain in his hand as he walked to his car – a green, ten year old Subaru Forester with a single “Don’t Park The Bus” sticker affixed to the back bumper.

A faint whiff of blue smoke puffed from the exhaust as Ilktost backed out of his prim driveway and out onto 42nd Avenue in South Minneapolis.  The perennials he’d labored over for so long were just starting to bloom after a hard, long winter.  Ilktost drove about six blocks, to a church building – Jehovah Methodist.  He picked the keychain up from his passenger seat, and lumbered up to the side door.

Slight, about 5’8, tidy, balding, mustachioed, gray-haired and 56 years old, wearing a gray alpaca sweater and khaki pants, Ilktost unlocked the door and turned on the lights inside the building.  He walked to the church office, sat down at a sixties-institutional desk, turned on an early-2000s vintage Gateway PC, and started rummaging through a small stack of flyers, handwritten notes and – eventually – emails.

After a few minutes, he was interrupted by a knock on the door.  He looked through the window.  It was the UPS man.  He opened the door.

“Mister Liktost?” asked the deliveryman.

“That’s I-L-K-Tost”, Ilktost said, sounding mildly worried.

“Ah, OK.  My bad.  Please sign for this”.

Ilktost took the deliveryman’s clipboard.  “I have to get this sunday’s program together”, he muttered, as much for himself as the deliveryman’s benefit.

“Ah.  Well, I’ll get out of your way” said the UPS man, mission accomplished.

Ilktost locked the door and went back to work.  Programs don’t put themselves together.

– 5:20 PM, Thursday, August 29 – Downtown Minneapolis

“Programs don’t put themselves together”.

Joshua Nieman shook his head as he said it, as if Paul Hendrickson had never heard any of it before.

“Yeah, I know”, said Hendrickson, who at 45 was 20 years older than Nieman.  “I know the requirements were hosed.  We’re in catch-up mode.  Just trying to keep Tofte from crawling up both our asses”.

“Well, I’m not working this weekend”, said the younger man.  “I’ve got a Modern Warfare hackathon to do”.

“Yeah, keep your weekend.  We’re not curing cancer, here”, said Hendrickson.  “Just give me an estimate Monday morning, OK?”

Nieman grunted, and Hendrickson walked away down the aisle separating two of the forty rows of cubes at Claimtech.

It was 5:45 PM, he noticed as he checked his phone for messages.  There were several – mostly work-related.  A text message from Lynn telling him to bring cat food home.

And that’s just what I’m gonna do.

He picked up his jacket at his cube, walked out to the ramp, drove half an hour up 494, then Cedar, then Crosstown, over to 34th. Into the convenience store, back out with the cat food, then up 34th to 48th, then over a few blocks to the tidy little Cape Cod that’d been his family’s home since they bought it from Lynn’s parents ten years earlier.

Abby – ten years old – was playing with the dog in the back yard.   ”Hi, Daddy!” she said.  “I taught Buck to play dead!”.

She looks so much like my mom at that age, Hendrickson thought as the skinny, colt-legged blond girl put Buck, the family’s eight year old Springer Spaniel, through its paces.

“That’s awesome, honey!”, he said as Abby and Buck took a bow, both grinning from ear to ear.  “I”m gonna go in and see Mommy”.

“OK!”

Hendrickson walked in the back door, up the stairs into the kitchen.  Lynn – a pretty, auburn-haired 38 year old, Hendrickson’s wife of 16 years – was throwing cheese sandwiches onto the grill as a crock pot of stew simmered in the background.

Hendrickson tiptoed up the stairs and tiptoed quickly across the kitchen floor, wrapping his arms around Lynn from behind.  “Mmm – hello!”, she purred.  “That bean stew thing you have in the pot smells glorious”.

He kissed her on the neck.  “So where are Charlie and Dani?”

“Dani’s over at the Torstengardsens doing a science project with Vicky.  And Charlie’s at track practice.”

“Hmm.  So they’re pretty much occupied…?”

“I bought a bottle of wine for later…”

Hendrickson smiled.  “Nice.  Thank God it’s Friday!”

His wife purred, leaning back to kiss his cheek.  “You sure you can’t come to Carrie’s for the shower?”

“Nah.  Stupid project deadline”

“And I know how much you love baby showers”.

“Half of one and six dozen of the other.  I’d much rather be there than working on this bug-stomp this weekend”, Hendrickson purred into his wife’s ear, nibbling the ear lobe ever so slightly…

“Ew”, shouted a crackly, adolescent male voice, as Charlie Hendrickson – a gangly, red-headed teen in track shorts and a school t-shirt – stomped up the back stairs three at a time.  “Gross, you two.  Stop it.  When’s dinner?”

“Ten minutes.  Take a shower first”, Lynn patiently responded as Paul slowly let go and walked to start setting the table.

“Yep.  Thank God it’s Thursday”.

– 9:00PM, Friday, August 29, 2014 – On the “TRU LBRT NOW!” Facebook Page

A sultry breeze blew from the west, sweeping across the south end of Plymouth, MN, where Dave Os, a late-20-ish man in with a carefully-tended beard, a tweed blazer, jeans and a “Doors” T-shirt, sat at a table at an outdoor bar patio.  Idly waiting for some friends to show up, he noodled through his Facebook timeline.  An article caught his attention, about a planned light rail line that would connect the northwest suburbs of the Twin Cities with downtown.

Os shared the article to “TRU LBRT NOW”, a libertarian Facebook page of which he was a member, writing “Great.  More money suck from government”.  He clicked the “Post” button as his friends arrived.

The warm breeze swept east, crossing Saint Louis Park, where Ron Pallsacher, a mildly obese 35-year-old with an acne-pocked face and a scraggly blondish beard, sat on the balcony of his apartment, working on fixing some JQuery code for one of his clients.  He saw the “Incoming Message” popup, and saw Os’s posting.  He read it, typed “another installment payment in the progressive statist dream”, clicked “Post”, and went back to work.

The breeze rolled across Highway 100, briefly juddering a Ford Econoline van driven by Arnie Quist, a dark-haired, 30-ish man with a dense black beard,wearing a seed cap, as he drove southward carrying a load of mulch for his garden.  He read Os and Pallsacher’s posts as he drove, and – ignoring the safety rules about texting and driving – clicked his “voice to text” function on his phone: “Not just progressives.  Republicans equally worthless!”.  He clicked “Post”, just before narrowly missing a Toyota Corolla that had legally merged onto the road.

The puff of wind rolled up Lake Street in Minneapolis, ruffling the hair of Oz Streachan – a 6’6  tall 40-year-old man, with a Billy Gibbons beard, an awlward gait and a voice that sounded incongruously high and light for such a tall man, who was en route to one of the rooftop bars in Uptown for a friend’s bachelor party.  He saw the notification, read it, and typed “The only way to get good governmente is no goverment”, he typed raggedly as he stood next to the light pole, before the light turned green.

An eddy of the breeze – which was becoming less sweet and more humid as it rolled across the city – swept through an open window into the Powderhorn Park-area efficiency apartmet of Frena Marquette – 5’6, 25 years old, with purple hair and overly-thick eyeliner, wearing a “Ron Paul Express 2012″ t-shirt, busy folding her laundry.  She saw the notification on her IPad, and typed “No Gummint?  Oh, Noes!  Who’ll build the roadz?”.  Satisfied, she chuckled, and went back to folding.

The breeze – smelling less like west-suburban gardens than auto exhaust, by now – rolled across the Marshall-Lake Bridge and across the front of Izzy’s Ice Cream Parlor, where sat Bill Durburgh – in a white dress shirt, a bow tie, a helmet of “televangellist” that he’d been cultivating as an “ironic statement” for three yers, and a perfectly-trimmed beard.  He looked at his Android, saw the list of comments, and typed “This is why all voting is a waste.  The best thing we can do is throw off the chains of all government”, hitting “post” and then angrily swearing as a drip of ice cream plopped onto his screen.

The breeze – another part of it, a mile south of Durburgh – swept through the yard of Myron Ilktost.  Ilktost was busily weeding the flower bed in front of his house, swatting at mosquitos.

“Are you STILL doing that?”, bellowed the disembodied voice of his wife.

“No, Dear”, Ilktost yelled.  Not for long, he muttered under his breath.

When The ObamaCare Story Is Finally Written…

…then:

  1. It will no doubt be written by someone from outside the American mainstream media (but that’s a no-brainer)
  2. Somebody will no doubt note and write about the deep, intense web of influence UnitedHealth group, based in Minnetonka, has spun for itself with this administration.

Naturally, it won’t happen until Obama leaves office. But I’m just saying.

Heck, it’s something to look forward to.

No Pep

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Stopped at Pep Boys on South Robert to buy epoxy for a cracked bumper. Pep Boys Bans Guns In This Store. I asked if that was a franchise decision but the counterman said no, all Pep Boys stores are corporate. So I went up the street to O’Reilly Auto Parts instead.

No, I wasn’t carrying. But if they don’t want my business on my terms, I’m happy to take it elsewhere.

Joe Doakes
Como Park

As everyone should.

I haven’t voluntarily patronized a posted business since 2003. I’ve specifically thanked businesses that took down their idiot signs.

Now is no time to let old habits die.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Are you sure you’ve thought through this lawsuit, Chris?

Chris Kluwe potentially kicks open a Pandora’s Box.

Given Chris Kluwe’s love of role-playing board games, it shouldn’t surprise that his latest actions have more angles than 23-sided dice.

On Tuesday, former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe was demanding that the team, through the law firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi L.L.P, release the six-month independent investigation into Kluwe’s allegations that he was let go due to his gay marriage activism.  By Friday night, Kluwe (or at least his attorneys) might have wished the Vikings had kept the findings to themselves.

The 29-page summary of the investigation (pdf warning on the link) was notable for two things: 1) proving Kluwe’s story that current Special Teams coach Mike Priefer did indeed make his “nuke the gays” comment; 2) proving little else.  Instead, the investigation brought to light an incident of Kluwe mocking the Jerry Sandusky trial and generally negatively commented on Kluwe’s final years as a Viking:

The record does not support the claim that the Vikings released Kluwe because of his activism on behalf of marriage equality, but instead because of his declining punting performance in 2012 and potentially because of the distraction caused by Kluwe’s activism, as opposed to the substance of such.

Throughout the independent investigation, interviewees characterized Kluwe in similar
ways: someone who is highly intelligent, reads a lot, a prankster or jokester, comfortable with the media and seems to enjoy attention. [Vikings kicker Blair] Walsh stated that Kluwe spent much of his free time in the locker room doing interviews. Walsh also said that Kluwe “loves the attention,” “was focused on everything but football,” and wanted to be in the spotlight.

The fallout was sadly predictable.

The perpetually indignant community – Kluwe’s political base – expressed outrage (outrage!) that the Patron Saint of Punting was a “hypocrite” for engaging in the same sort of outrageously inappropriate locker room behavior that Kluwe supposedly was fighting against by his threatened lawsuit.  While many former media supporters were throwing Kluwe under the bus, the man at the center of the report took to twitter to vent, sparing even with gay marriage supporters and potentially getting the Vikings (and maybe himself) deeper into the dark waters of legal action:

Color me unimpressed with the outrage over Kluwe’s Sandusky jokes.  In the pantheon of vulgar Kluwe behavior/comments, his exposed butt cheeks aren’t even as crass as most of his Deadspin articles.  But Kluwe’s accusation that he (and presumably, the Vikings) knew about statutory rape and did nothing is a world away from Kluwe’s STD shots at Mankato or calling NFL lockout opponents “assh*le f**kwits.”  Kluwe is potentially an accomplice in this (alleged) crime at worst.  At best, he kept silent about actions against minors, but the words of a hot-headed, idiotic Special Teams coach were somehow his personal Rubicon…after he was fired.

Kluwe’s defenders, like ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, are trying to poke holes in the investigation’s conclusions over the Vikings’ assessment on Kluwe’s punting abilities, setting the stage for Kluwe’s threatened lawsuit that he was dismissed for his beliefs, not his on-field actions.  Despite all the vitriol, the merits of any potential Kluwe lawsuit are few and far between, and minus a heretofore undiscovered “smoking gun” document or testimony, a legal Trojan Horse for the entire NFL should Kluwe prevail.

NFL history, and Minnesota Vikings’ history, is replete with older veterans being replaced for players deemed to have a larger upside who can be signed for less money.  In the last several seasons, the Vikings alone have cut ties with still capable players like kicker Ryan Longwell or defensive end Jared Allen.  These moves aren’t always right or popular (SITD argued against the Allen move months ago) or consistent across franchises.  Denver’s punter, Britton Colquitt, is the highest paid punter in the NFL, earning $3.9 million a year for a 46.1 yards per punt average.  Chris Kluwe was making $1.5 million, due to increase to over $2 million, for a career average of 44.4 yards per punt.  Jeff Locke kicked an average of 44.2 yards for roughly $400,000 for the Vikings in 2013.  Is any of that logical?  By NFL standards, for better or worse, yes.

If Chris Kluwe can convince a jury that a $1.5 million punter with the league’s 22nd best average cannot be cut for a younger, cheaper option because said player is outspoken, then the NFL’s entire collective bargaining agreement will be up for grabs.  In a league with an openly gay 7th round draft pick who isn’t assured of making the team, what will stop current and future NFL players from adopting controversial political/social causes if they believe doing so will complicate their release?  Will the next Tim Tebow decide that his Christianity, not his throwing motion, was the motivating factor in his cutting, and sue his former employer?

A Kluwe victory (again, barring new evidence) means a more political NFL – an outcome that can only hurt the most popular sporting brand in the country.

Death Cult

In the lulls between Palestinian/Israeli combat, I sometimes forget how very, very depressed I get at how very ill-informed Americans are about the recent history of the Middle East.

I’ve even seen relatively intelligent acquaintances of mine claim that both sides, Palestinian and Israeli, are morally equal.  One trumpeted “both sides are run by extremists!”, by way of excusing the Palestinians.

I’m going to link to this piece by Dennis Prager – the best, simplest explanation of the last seventy years I’ve ever seen.

“The Israelis want to have a state.  The Palestinians want the Jews dead”.

There is no moral equivalence.

Revelation

Danusha Goska – a former card-carrying leftist, with the Berkeley degree to prove it – voted GOP in 2012, after a lifetime of being a “progressive”.

Here are her top ten reasons she made the switch.  Many of them track with my own reasons, 30-odd years ago.  Many others were things I’d never have dreamed of.  They boil down to “the left is motivated by hate; the right is not”.

Read the whole thing.  It’s worth it.  .

.

Climate Of Ridicule

 A friend of mine in the insurance industry sent me this:

The Minnesota Department of Commerce sent a Climate Risk Disclosure Questionnaire to Minnesota insurers yesterday and ended up on my desk. It is ridiculous.

Here’s some background to it.

Here’s the exact survey I received yesterday, it’s a pretty standard form used by other states.
Here’s how I really want to answer. I think this accurately captures how all insurance companies ought to answer.

Your friend,
[redacted]

I’ll include the survey (and my friend’s answers, in italics) below. 

———-

Climate Risk Disclosure Survey

Question One: Does the company have a plan to assess, reduce or mitigate its emissions in its operations or organizations?

No.

Question Two: Does the company have a climate change policy with respect to risk
management and investment management? If yes, please summarize. If no, how do you
account for climate change in your risk management?

Yes, we look for industries that will are particularly vulnerable to higher taxes and fees from proposed carbon credit trading and excessive carbon taxes. In addition we are monitoring industries that are vulnerable to higher energy prices caused by an expected government policies which will force industry away from cheaper, safer, and more efficient carbon-based energy sources.

Question Three: Describe your company’s process for identifying climate change-related risks and assessing the degree that they could affect your business, including financial implications.

Since all of the scientific models predicting climate change are completely unreliable, an actuarial assessment of climate-related risks would also be completely unreliable. Therefore no financial implications can be adequately factored in to our financial modeling.

Question Four: Summarize the current or anticipated risks that climate change poses to your company. Explain the ways that these risks could affect your business. Include identification of the geographical areas affected by these risks.

Since all of the scientific models predicting climate change are completely unreliable, an actuarial assessment of climate-related risks would also be completely unreliable. Therefore no financial implications can be adequately factored in to our financial modeling.

Question Five: Has the company considered the impact of climate change on its investment
portfolio? Has it altered its investment strategy in response to these considerations? If so,
please summarize steps you have taken.

Yes, we look for industries that will are particularly vulnerable to higher taxes and fees from proposed carbon credit trading and excessive carbon taxes. In addition we are monitoring industries that are vulnerable to higher energy prices caused by an expected government policies which will force industry away from cheaper, safer, and more efficient carbon-based energy sources.

Question Six: Summarize steps the company has taken to encourage policyholders to reduce the losses caused by climate change-influenced events.

We have not taken any.

Question Seven: Discuss steps, if any, the company has taken to engage key constituencies on the topic of climate change.

None.

Question Eight: Describe actions the company is taking to manage the risks climate change
poses to your business including, in general terms, the use of computer modeling.

We are monitoring the additional carbon-related taxes and fees being imposed by all levels of government and building these into our financial models which predict higher costs of doing business and we are planning to raise our premiums to cover these additional fees.

———-

I think that was a perfectly useful template.

Protection

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

. Connecticut mother leaves 11 year old child in car, gets arrested by police.
California mother leaves 12 year old child in car while she visits bank, gets shot by police.
Is it just me, or is “child protection” getting out of hand?
Joe Doakes
Como Park

Like all those Vietnamese villages that had to be destroyed to protect them…

I Saw NARN Drinking A PIna Colada At Trader Vic’s

Today, the Northern Alliance Radio Network – America’s first grass-roots talk radio show – brings you the best in Minnesota conservatism, as the Twin Cities media’s sole source of honesty!

  • I’ll be live at the CarCraft Summer Nationals at the Fairgrounds today!  Come on out and join us!
  • Don’t forget the King Banaian Radio Show, on AM1570 “The Businessman” from 9-11AM this morning!
  • Tomorrow, Brad Carlson is on “The Closer”!

(All times Central)

So tune in to all six hours of the Northern Alliance Radio Network, the Twin Cities’ media’s sole guardians of honest news. You have so many options:

Join us!

 
 
 
 
 
 

Rose Colored Glasses

You can’t escape it on Twitter or in the Media – the DFL and its various spokespeople, and the media (pardon the redundancy) crowing about Minnesota’s job numbers.

Because raising taxes creates jobs, dammit!

Except, as Bill Glahn notes, the numbers just don’t add up.

The state and its minions have been crowing that the state gained 8.500 jobs in June, and a total of 10,700 jobs so far this year.

Doing the arithmetic, that total means Minnesota gained 8,500 jobs in June, but a mere 2,200 jobs in the five months of January through May, combined.

And it the numbers get more interestinger:

 Each month DEED also reports on the jobs created in the previous 12 months, for a rolling look at the number of jobs created for a year-long period. For the 12 months ending June 2014, DEED reports Minnesota created almost 53,800 jobs. That figure would mean that we’d created 43,100 jobs in the six month of July through December 2013, but a mere 10,700 jobs in the most recent six months. Rather than suggesting an economic boom, those numbers indicate a real weakness in our state’s economy.

Bad, politically-driven reporting from the state?  Casual illiterate reporting from the media? 

Glahn’s not done:

 But consider this anomaly:
 
Reporting
 
Jobs Gained
 
Month
Month
YTD
Last 12 Mo.
June
8,500
10,700
53,779
May
10,300
45,617
April
(4,200)
41,934
March
2,600
41,582
February
(100)
44,714
January
600
52,160
Total
17,700
 
 
 
Adding together the number of jobs created each month in 2014, as reported by DEED, produces a total of 17,700 jobs for the year so far. So that means that sometime during the last few months, 7,000 jobs have vanished from the official state rolls.

“Unexpectedly” vanished, of course.

Glahn predicts the state’s rosy “8,500″ number for June will be gradually revised out of existence.

To be replaced – this is my prediction – by more inflated, misleading predictions intended to lull the incurious.

And the news consumers they report to.

An Unexpected Disappointing Tragedy

A guided missile shoots down a Malaysian jetliner carrying over 200 people including almost 2 dozen Americans, is apparently shot down over a proxy war zone.

The President observes the “tragedy” briefly, and then goes back on script to demand Republicans build more airports. 

It’s tiresome to keep repeating “if it’d been any Republican, can you imagine how different the media response would be”.  But it’s still true.

Why I’m Never Running For Office

About ten years ago, a sitting (at the time) GOP representative and long-time friend of this blog told me “you do realize, Mitch, that between the blog and your show, you can never, ever run for political office, don’t you?”

The fact that my written body of work is, no doubt, some oppo researcher’s dream has certainly served to keep me from getting too enthusiastic about pursuing a life in politics. 

And that’s largely a good thing.

Of course, opposition research on both sides – but especially the Democrats – is dedicated to making running for office as personally gruelling as possible for anyone who’d want to try.

Which is why the leftymedia’s on-cue jumping up and down like a bunch of poo-flinging monkey’s over Sheila Kihne’s old, excellent but long-dormant blog is so unsurprising. 

Of course, since it’s a primary battle, some Republicans are pitching in to defend incumbent Jennifer Loon against Kihne’s challenge. 

I suppose that’s one good thing about the blog; it’s cut down on any temptation.

The Good Cop

Detroit Police Chief James Craig attributes part of 37% drop in armed robbery to armed homeowners making life a little too, er, “brisk” for the city’s thugs:

Detroit has experienced 37 percent fewer robberies in 2014 than during the same period last year, 22 percent fewer break-ins of businesses and homes, and 30 percent fewer carjackings. Craig attributed the drop to better police work and criminals being reluctant to prey on citizens who may be carrying guns.

“Criminals are getting the message that good Detroiters are armed and will use that weapon,” said Craig, who has repeatedly said he believes armed citizens deter crime. “I don’t want to take away from the good work our investigators are doing, but I think part of the drop in crime, and robberies in particular, is because criminals are thinking twice that citizens could be armed.

“I can’t say what specific percentage is caused by this, but there’s no question in my mind it has had an effect,” Craig said.

Even more notably?  It’s been two months since the last major home-defense incident, the last of a flurry of such incidents in which criminals scampered away from law-abiding homeowners who engaged them.

Sometimes the criminals got hurt.  Other times, merely humiliated – sometimes on camera:

It may not be the acme of Christian charity, but watching homeowners humiliate punks at gunpoint warms my heart.

Anyway – urban police chiefs tend to be toadies, on a policy level, to the liberal Democrats who appoint them.  It’s good to see Craig breaking that particular noxious mold.

Days Of Future Pissed

The Saint Paul City Council voted 6-0 to start studying a 200+-million-dollar streetcar line connecting some Godforsaken part of East Seventh to some misbegotten part of West Seventh, via downtown.  Councilman Bostrom abstained, noting that for the price of the line – basically a bus that runs on tracks – the city could resurface every single street in Saint Paul’s pothole-pocked grid. 

While there will be much gnashing and moaning about this line (almost none of which will become part of the official record, due to the Met Council and City of Saint Paul’s habit of only “seeking public feedback” after all decisions have been made), I figure it’s time to pass on some stories about a similar line, from a “high-density” eastern city much better-suited to such mass-transit fripperies, Toronto. 

Because streetcars aren’t much use there, either.

Social Distortion

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Liberals don’t mind open borders because those immigrants won’t take their jobs, or their kids. And government spending doesn’t matter because government loans never have to be repaid. Half a million illegal immigrants have swarmed the border this year, all claiming to be refugees entitled to food, shelter, medical care, in-state tuition and public defenders. Oh, and interpreters, because although they don’t speak English they sure as Hell know their rights.
In completely unrelated news, .22 LR shells are still impossible to find on the shelves, as right-wing kook bitter clinging racist homophobes continue to snatch them up the instant they roll off the truck.
This cannot end well.
Joe Doakes

That which cannot be sustained, won’t be.

My Apologies To Heather Martens

To: Heather Martens
From: Mitch Berg, Your Longtime Nemesis
Re:  Apology

Ms. Martens,

For most of the past decade and change, I’ve been running down your accuracy, your knowledge of Second Amendment issues, and the extent to which you confused “purchased lobbying power” with “fact”.  Whenever you’ve opened your mouth about anything gun-related, I’ve snickered, comparing  your command of logic and fact with, say, Jessica Simpson or Jeanne Kasem.

But Rolling Stone’s Krystyn Gwynne has certainly qualified for a job on “Protect MN”‘s executive committee. 

That is all.

The Real Minimum Wage

Progressives, awash in worry about income inequality, will barber on and on over whether the minimum wage should be $10, or $11.50, or even a Seattle-sized $15/hour.

Conservatives know that the real minimum wage is zero

“Diggity”, a new fast-food restaurant concept in Coon Rapids, gets a jump on McDonands, does away with the server:

Diggity functions on an elaborate and expensive system of self-serve, touchscreen kiosks and software that allow customers to place orders directly from smartphones or tablet devices. Diners watch monitors (or their phones) to track the progress of their order and pick it up at the counter when ready.

 Customers can also order takeout online, drive into a designated spot in the parking lot and check in using the restaurant’s wireless Internet connection, which will ping the staff with a request to bring the order out.

“You don’t even have to make a telephone call, which is one more convenience factor,” Cary said.

The system cost six-figures (Cary wouldn’t be more precise), but he said he has no doubt it will pay for itself. The setup from Michigan’s Nextep Systems allowed Hemipshere to hire half the staff a restaurant of Diggity’s size would normally need.

But wasn’t it just the “wow” factor that led to the innovative design? 

Cary and Managing Partner Anoush Ansari said the new model was inspired by Minnesota law mandating a gradual bump in the minimum wage.

Thanks, DFL!  The teen unemployment rate is going to take another hit.