The New Rules

Remember when there was an unstated rule, when following news coverage of a crime in the Metro – if they didn’t mention the offender’s ethnicity or show a photo, it actually answered the question?

New addition to the rule: if the story pertains to criminal justice’s response to last year’s riots, and the offender’s ideology – “Boogaloo”, “proud boy”, whatever – isn’t mentioned, you know by omission whose “side” they were on.

Case in point.

Prove me wrong.

The Great Shun

There was a time when news outlets in the Twin Cities would, on occasion and when it was germane to the story, reach out to people on the political right. It even got to the point, in the last aughts, when lowly lil’ ol’ me was getting occasional calls from Channel 4, MPR and WCCO Radio for a grassroots conservative perspective on stories. This hit a peak during the Tea Party years…

…and then, abruptly, stopped.

We’ll come back to that.

The “point/counterpoint” feature was, if not a staple, at least a fairly normal part of American media life not all that long ago. Before “Crossfire” – which, I’m surprised and pained to see, has been gone for over 15 years – there were others; the earliest I can remember was a weekly bit on “Sixty Minutes”, “Point/Counterpoint”, with liberal Shana Alexander and James Kilpatrick – two articulate spokespeople for two diametrically opposed viewpoints.

Of course, CNN’s Crossfire was the biggest of them all. The original cast – Pat Buchanan and Tom Leyden – was the best, and sometimes created some fantastic TV – and I say this as someone who was pretty much a Democrat back then, although I hadn’t really thought that much about it (which makes me amply qualified to be a Democrat today). The most memorable bit, in those days when “white supremacist” groups operated in the open and were at least an order of magnitude larger than they are today, was an interview with a uniformed American Nazi. And Leyden, the show’s liberal and a World War 2 veteran, opened the segment by saying “My biggest regret in life was that I didn’t kill more of you back during the war” as the normally un-out-irascible Buchanan looked on, his jaw momentarily agape.

It’s a scene you wouldn’t get today – partly because any notion of patriotism and objective good and evil is gone from the left…

…and partly because Crossfire is long gone.

Now, according to Ben Domenech at Federalist, it was killed by Jon Stewart, who during a fabled appearance in 2004 completely trashed the premise of the show:

Readers will recall this was the infamous “hurting America” clip, where Stewart crapped all over the very concept of a debate show that paired left and right as co-equals in a running debate over the direction of America.

Stewart, who’s a fan of uninformed hubristic rants generally but will put the clown nose back on the minute you call him on it, went on a jeremiad against hosts Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala as representing the worst aspects of American politics. But looking back on the ramifications of his comments — “Crossfire” was canceled months later — what do we see? There is today essentially no program on all of cable television that pairs left and right perspectives on camera as co-equal hosts, allowed to engage in free and open debate about the topics of the day.

Domenech’s premise – that event was the beginning of the end of actual debate in the media:

So we should ask: Is that a good thing? Is the media landscape Stewart helped create better for it, where Brian Williams regularly engages in Stewart-like snark (he called Ron Johnson a Russian asset the other day for reading a Federalist article into the record) and Tucker Carlson is the biggest name as a solo act in cable news?

In a context in which so much ink is dedicated to the concept of silos and the elimination of common space between right and left — and I mean the real right and left, not David Brooks and Maureen Dowd — do we honestly want a world where there is no space where these warring sides meet to do rhetorical battle?

The answer is: of course not. It’s much, much worse. The inability to have a space where such debates play out, and the inability of existing entities to provide such a space, has led directly to a degradation of our political conversation and a lack of familiarity with even the most basic version of the other side’s perspective on the world.

Domenech may have a point – the event was certainly the beginning of the end on cable.

But the stifling of actual co-equal debate began much earlier. I recall the woman who edited the “Letters to the Editor” page at the Strib, back before the internet made everyone an LTE editor, and then before social media made us all stupid, describing on a talk show how she made sure she picked only the dumb voices on some subjects, like gun control and abortion. You know which side she favored.

But it’s become absolutely airtight. As I noted way up above, local media made a point of at least acknowledging some sort of opposing opinion. During the run-up to the Republican National Convenion in 2007, I got invited on an MPR program on the planned protests, to discuss planned counterprotests. Because there was a counterpoint, and there was another side.

A few years later, when I spent some time fact-checking NPR’s fact-check column, both here and via email – correctly – one of MPR’s news execs inadvertently cc’ed me on an email to RIchert, telling her not to bother engaging. And that was the last I’ve heard from NPR, on any level, for any reason.

And it’s not just me. Far from it – even “tame” liberal Republican voices like David Brooks are getting rarer.

It was almost like a switch flipped, along about 2011. LIke the media saw what a motivated, decentralized, idealistic conservative-libertarian throng like the Tea Party could so (and did, in 2010), and figured they needed to starve it of that most precious political commodity ,air time.

I strongly suspect that the “outing” of “JournoList” didn’t end the collusion around the progressive narrative in the media – indeed, I suspect that, like an evil, adenoidal Gandalf, it just came back, bigger and stronger and more secret still.

And the nation is much worse off for it.

Firing Across Big Karen’s Bow

I’ve had Covid. It was a symptomatic case, although very manageably so.

As such – as we have established in this space, with information from the National Institutes of Health – I have an enhanced degree of, if not complete immunity, at least enhanced, probably highly-enhanced, resistance to Covid.

WIth that being said, I also got vaccinated. The wisdom or lack thereof, or that action’s adherence to your particular version of libertarian conservative, is not up for discussion, and won’t be discussed in this space. I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, because I figured it was the minimum expenditure of effort – one shot and round of side effects rather than two – needed to get at least some of the less-irrational Karens, especially business and institutional Karens, to shut the hell up in the coming months. Given that I also have some degree of natural immunity and likely resistance, the J&J vaccine also provides the results I want; since the evidence shows I’m unlikely to get infected at all, preventing infections – the supposed upside of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines – is irrelvant to me. Preventing such an infection from killing me or putting me in a hospital, should the current understanding of science turn up flawed, is my only real goal.

Again – the fact that I got a vaccination isn’t up for discussion.

Evading Karen

What is up for discussion is this: Governor Klink has set the state’s restrictions to end on July 1. May it please the crown, thanks. Sarcasm intended. We’ll be caught up with Wisconsin – in seven weeks. Probably.

That’s right – it’ll be mandatory to wear a mask on June 30, but perfectly safe on July 1. Science!

But let’s ignore that, also. We’ve talked about that in this space for over a year, now.

Given that I, like most Minnesotans, have some combination of natural immunity, vaccination or both, masks are completely pointless.

Completely. Pointless.

And yet there is a lineup of stores – big box and ma and pa – promising to continue requiring masks after July 1.

And I want to make sure that I don’t patronize them after July 1. At all.

But how to tell which business is which?

The first step I’ve seen is this crowd-sourced map.

It’s being provisioned by people on both sides of the argument, of course – and some of the “reviews” would be comical if you didn’t realize these people have the same right to vote that you do.

What’s needed next is some way of searching for businesses that, shall we say, match your preference, so you can find ’em on the go.

The M.O.

Twelve years ago, during the first year or so of the Obama administraiton, I pointed out my, shall we say, skepticism over the Administration’s, and Big Left’s, claims that we were on the verge of a wave of “white supremacist terror” that was going to, in the words of more than a few pundits, “dwarf 9/11”.

White supremacist terror was certainly a real thing. In the 1920’s, aided and abetted by Woodrow Wilson, the Klan was a major power in the South, and could even muster thousands of member to rallies here in Minnesota.

And I”m old enough to actually remember active White Supremacists doing bad things; the Medina Shootout, the shooting of Alan Berg, and others.

But to paraphrase Martin Luther King, the arc of White Supremacist organizations has been long, and has curved toward Palookaville. According to actual sources that had to keep their jobs by reporting facts, groups like the Klan, the Bund and other radical white supremacist organizations mustered:

  • Millions of members and active sympathizers in the 1920s
  • Hundreds of thousands by the 1960s
  • A few tens of thousands by the time I graduated from high school, after a decade and a half of rigorous prosecution.
  • As of 2015 or so, a few thousand, powerless, isolated, ridiculed, inbred losers living in their parents basements.

The number of actual identifiable active “White supremacists” has shrunk, in terms of verifiable numbers, by an order of magnitude every generation.

Of course, with the election of Trump, the narrative turned: while there were fewer verifiable, actual members of organizations, the “rhetoric” of the new administration “created more sympathizers”…

…which was simultaneously unverifiable, un-testable, and conveniently allowed the keepers of the narrative to brand anyone to the right of Amy Klobuchar as a “potential” “white supremacist”. Like Candace Owens.

But I digress.

The narraative saw comical spectacles like the pathetic gaggle of a hundred or so endomorphic cretins gathered from across ten or more states to Charlottesville, parading with tiki torches before set upon by a much larger mob with the active connivance of a “progressive” mayor, presented as evidence of the coming Racemageddon.

Berg’s 20th Law reads “All incidents of “hate speech” not captured on video (involving being delivered by someone proven not to be a ringer) shall be assumed to be hoaxes until proven otherwise” has heretofore concerned itself with dime-bag racial huckstery like last week’s collossal FUBAR at Adelphi University, where university staff indulged in a “Ready, Fire, Aim” moment: an anonymous social media post declared that there was a wave of lynchings of blacks headed toward…Adelphi?

In response to the anonymous post — which included no corroborating evidence — the school sent a statement to the student body.

“There have been recent incidents of students using racial slurs, hateful comments, and reported threats of violence and retaliation on social media — and sadly, this is not the first time these issues have occurred,” said Adelphi President Christine Riordan. “To those among us who have been targeted, directly and indirectly, we hate that this has happened to you, and we hate that we have not yet found a way to stop it.”

“Ignorance, racism, hate and violence hold no place in the Adelphi community, yet those things keep happening here,” continued the communication. “We know there is no place at Adelphi for inexcusable messages of white supremacy and anti-Blackness, but such racist attacks are a stark reminder of the work we need to do to combat systemic inequality and ongoing racism in our very own community.”

Adelphi University Strategic Communications Director Todd Wilson directed Campus Reform toward another statement published the following day.

The second statement admitted that public safety and local police officers “have continued to ask for direct evidence of threats from those who have received them firsthand and none have been submitted for investigation.” 

As with the entire wave – remember that word – of such hoaxes, so significant as to lead to the enshrining of Berg’s 20th Law, there shall be none.

But maybe I, and my law, have thought too narrowly.

The law focused on penny-ante hoaxes like Adelphi, or this one (one of several such in recent years, which seem to come up so frequently I have to check to make sure they’re not the same episode) or the similar one at Saint Olaf a few years back (a school which is no stranger to hate crimes, but all of them seem to be directed at the right).

But the entire “wave of terror” narrative applies. Like the scads of little hoaxes, everything about it must be observed, questioned, verified…

…and, if the pattern continues, as it usually seems to do, mocked and taunted from public life.

It Could Be Merriam Park

Woman, teacher, paranoid racist?

Product of a decade and a half of Critical Race Theory indoctrination?

Why choose?

Some of the social media feedback quips “this woman could be teaching your kids”.

If your offspring’s teacher is a member of the Saint Paul Federation of Teachers, the odds are actually pretty decent she already is, one way or another.


Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

Andrew McCarthy writing at National Review says the Chauvin jury was correct to convict him, not based on anything reported in the media or introduced as evidence at trial or the pervasive atmosphere of intimidation, but because the conviction means Chauvin is a bad cop and that exonerates the rest of society from the charge of systemic racism. 

Sacrificing a victim to the mob is shameful.  Twisting your shameful act to pretend it’s all for the greater good is disgusting.  But I expect nothing less from a Never-Trumper. 

Joe Doakes

It’s the sort of rationalization I expect from someone who spent way too much time in the prosecution industry.

In A Just World…

…Senator Scott would be a contender for the Presidency.

I knew the guy was sharp. This speech clinched it for me:

And I suspect the Dems know it too. That’s why we had…well, this going on on Twitter last week:

Someone with hope about race, the economy, and the world?

Can’t be tolerated.


Joe Doakes from Como Park em;ails:

Has anybody else been getting messages saying that in these troubled times, the sender wants us to know how much they care about us?   My credit card company, my bank, even my grocery store care about me now, in these troubled times, which evidently is something new for them – caring about their customers – since they never mentioned it to me, before.

My CEO sent an email to top management.  He pointed out that Thursday was an emotional, soul-searching moment; that the last few weeks had been draining and exhausting for all of us; and how important it is we make space for ourselves to get through troubled times like these, particularly BIPOC employees and leaders.  We must take time to pause and recognize what happens when our systems and structures fail in plain sight.  He asked that staff set aside 12:00 to 2:30 to make space for quiet and to observe Duante Wright’s live-streamed funeral, not to schedule work-as-usual or meetings during that time.

I don’t recall seeing similar messages in the past, when our organization’s mission was to “Delight the Customer.”  I started seeing them when the focus changed to “Racial Justice and Diversity in the Workforce” accompanied by a purge of old White men and promotion of women to management.  Apparently, management now believes it’s essential that we fill the organization with Black, Indigenous and Persons of Color who are unable to do their jobs because they can’t handle the ordinary stresses of life.

I liked it better the old way.

Joe Doakes

I figure people who called 2020 “the worst year ever” never heard of 1942, 1916, 1861, or the Black Death, and have little comprehension of actual difficulty in life.

Urban Progressive Privilege: In Which I Defend A Cake-Eating Private School

Around the time of the Chauvin verdict, and in the wake of the Brooklyn Center shooting, a group of students at posh Creti\-Derham Hall – a private Catholic school in Saint Paul – held a walkout.

Now, that’s fine. It’s a foreign concept to me, of course – in my day, at my high school, with its principal who’d served as a Marine fighter pilot in World War 2, it was pretty well understood a student’s place was in his damn desk. I honestly think both approaches have their merits.

Now, with Cretin-Derham Hall (henceforth CDH) which charges $14,765 a year in tuition (which, even after adjusting for inflation, is about 40% more than I spent for undergrad college at a private four-year institution), there’s the added imperative with one suspects at least a few parents, to spend more time on learning and less on the social-justice chatter one sees being substituted for “Education” in the public system.

They Doth Protest Too Much

So – was it OK for the students at CDH to walk out? That’s between the students, the faculty and the ATM machines. Er, parents.

What can not be considered OK is the alleged behavior by some of the students, as related in the Pioneer Press’s story on the subject (emphasis added by me):

As the group gathered back at the school, a student organizer used a school megaphone to lead an anti-police, “F— 12” chant, which administrators quickly sought to shut down.

Meanwhile, a group of girls recorded a video taunting a police officer’s son, who stayed home from school on Monday.

Students told the Pioneer Press that at least six students of various ethnicities were suspended.

Into the fray steps a woman – a “Chicano Studies” professor at the U of M, and not only a CDH graduate, but a second generation alum – with an open letter to CDH’s administration (and, of course, all the social media) with the social justice verdict on the subject. Here’s the letter – I’ll leave it to you to read it, if you want. I’ll pullquote it in case it disappears, not that the professor (who I won’t name, because why?) wijll face any consequences for writing it.

She repeats, several times, that she was a “student of color” at CDH -but also mentions that her father also graduated from CDH, that she’s gone onto an academic career including a PhD from UC Santa Barbara and a position at the U of M teaching in a discipline ending with “…Studies”, which I present with no further comment, other than to say that if she was oppressed (as she claims repeatedly in the letter, although generally in the form of “microaggressions”), it’s not apparent from her implied curriculum vitae. Not only did someone spend an awful lot of money to send her to school – implying at least one generation cared about her education pretty profoundly – but someone did the same for her father, somehow.

Failure To Communicate

Her letter is…

…well, about what you’d expect from someone who’s a professor of anything ending in “studies”. But there are a couple of bits that:

  • Show the parlous state of higher educations today
  • Given the amount of cheerleading support the professor got on social media, show the dismal state of logic in society today.

The first part:

Your call to understand “BOTH” sides, and that “we can be politically conservative or liberal or somewhere on the broad continuum of thought AND coexist in a respectful environment built on common values,” [Bold is original] fails to understand what is currently happening in our city, state, and nation. This is not a matter of hearing each other out. This is a matter of life and death. Black people are killed by police at alarming rates

Have you noticed how often sentences that says a statement “…fails to understand” something almost inevitably deflect someone’s perfect understanding of a situation?

And what actions, that the public knows about, crossed any sort of ideological line? The protests?

No. It was the six kids that allegedly bullied the cop’s kid.

While CDH wouldn’t specifically comment on the nature of the six suspensions, the school confirmed to me that no students were suspended for protesting legitimately. Who does thjat leave? There are only so many possibilities.

So – not only is she saying there are not multiple sides of this issue, and there is not room for multiple perspectives, but that if you think there are you clearly favor killing black people; accusing people of racism for supporting a dialog about issues is bad enough.

But she’s bringing that accusation to bear to support six alleged bullies. Criticizing, not the protests, but the bullying that sprang from them, is racist!

As Dennis Prager points out, it takes an elite education something something something. I forget thje rest.

Speaking of Consequences

Later, apparently criticizing the suspension of (I’ll say it again) six kids who made a video harassing someone for being the son of a policeman, she writes (and I add empjasis):

As educators we must impede the school to prison pipeline. Taking this type of disciplinary action as opposed to teaching, listening, and engaging with these young people is not only a missed opportunity, but continues the same punitive action that this present moment is fighting against.

The professor apparently would have you believe that suspending students at a posh private school for allegedly bullying a fellow student is:

  • Going on the students criminal records
  • On a moral par with not only being killed by the police, but killed for no cause whatsoever.

The galling part about this is not that someone who teaches our kids is writing this sort of stuff with a straight face. This sort of thought would appear to be the water in which PhDs in anything ending in “…Studies” swim.

The galling part was, when someone posted the letter on a neighborhood social media page, watching the locals – it was in Highland Park – tripping over each other to compliment the writer’s wisdom. And when questioned in any way, how many of them reverted immediately to…

Because Trump.

Moral vacuity is a barrel that has no bottom to scrape in Saint Paul.

Quick Note: Any commenter that asks “So, you’re ok withj black people being summarily executed” will be blocked, forever, and urged to go pay penance for being the moral plaque on societies arteries that you are.

Another Quick Note: “What, Berg – you’re a conservative, riffing on private schools? ”

No. I’m riffing on Cretin-Derham Hall. What the Ivies are to the nation, CDH is to Saint Paul, and I don’t entirely mean that in a good way. There’s a CDH. mafia ijn this town. Which makes the professor’s letter doubly ironic; if CDH grads are “oppressed” in the Twin CIties, it’s because they’ve worked hard to feel oppressed.

For All The Amateur Legal Scholars

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

We’ve heard a lot of legal expertise tossed around lately.  Let’s see how easily our resident legal scholars handle a first-year law school exam question.:

Criminal Procedure quiz, essay portion:

A man is accused of committing a crime in Minneapolis.  The prosecuting attorney spends a year tainting the jury pool with pretrial publicity.  Defendant moves for a change of venue citing his Constitutional right to a fair trial but the judge concludes the State’s actions have been so widespread, so pervasive, so completely corrupting, that the Defendant cannot get a fair trial anywhere in the state.

The judge’s choices are:

A.  Hold the trial in Minneapolis since that’s where the alleged crime occurred, even as the mob outside the courthouse threatens to burn the city if the man isn’t convicted;

B.  Dismiss the charges on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct in violation of the Defendant’s Constitutional rights.

If the judge chooses A, he opens the door for the State to violate future defendants’ Constitutional rights in a similar manner.  If the judge chooses B, the mob burns down the city. What should the judge do?   Explain your answer in 100 words or less giving citations to relevant statutory, case-law, and rule authority.

You have one hour.  Begin.

Joe Doakes

Er..Racism and White Privilege and the Patriarchy?

Those seem to be the answers for everyone question one can’t answer these days.

Rumor Of War

The Chauvin trial wrapped up yesterday. As this is written, the jury is deliberating.

But well into last week, Saint Paul was strapping in.

Holiday station, Hamline at Marshall. That’s some solid woodwork on those plywood window covers.

Saint Paul is smoking ’em if they got ’em.

Laundromat, University and Pascal. At least 2-3 other buildings east and west of here burned last May. The strip mall across the street was more or less looted out – allowing the property managers to sell to the owners of “Minnesota United”. The riots were indeed very good for Saint Paul’s plutocrats.

The Midway Menards hasn’t yet piled stacks of plywood in front of the store – which is the “smoke ’em if you got ’em” moment, from where I sit.

Some merchants are of the opinion that some kind of supplication to the crowd might buy them some grace.

I’m not going to say what the store is – and I’ll block anyone who tries, and it’ll be so permanent it’ll make “Dog Gone’s” exile look like Woody Kane’s sentence.. They’re a local, family-run business, and they were burned and looted, although not totaled out, last year. They’ve been warned to expect more of the same. Fingers crossed for all of them.

But most of the biggest victims last year were immigrants and merchants “of color”, and there’s no reason to expect the white left-wing college kids who did most of the burning last year are going to be any different this time around.

If some legislator wants to push a bill removing “duty to retreat” and allowing self-defense of felony-level destruction of property via lethal force, I’ll pound all the pavement they need.

Or, y’know, assert the rule of law:

Assert it equally, regardless of class, race or all the rest? Absolutely – suggest otherwise (or suggest I suggest otherwise) and you are depraved and need to be shunned.

But assert it, for chrissake.


The press “reports” on Maxine Waters’ weekend trip to Brooklyn Center:

Did they cover everything?

Miss anything?

Like…the incitement to violence?

From the party (and media) that seems to think that there was no political violence in this country before (or apparently after) January 6?

UPDATE/BUMP: Oh, yeah – like Lisa Bender and Philippe Cunningham, Waters wanted special treatment while she incite her violence.

This Is A Sincere Question…

…for any DFLers that happen to be reading.

Yesterday, on the one hand, DFL rep Jennifer McEwen, sounding as if she were nearly in tearms, chided her GOP colleagues for attacking Maxine Waters, who spent her weekend telling Demcorats to riot if they didn’t get the verdict they wanted in the Chauvin trial…

Right after that, the DFL moved a resolution condemning the National Guard – part-time soldiers who live among us all – for supporting the effort to keep “Anti”-Fa from burning down. more poor, immigrant and minority neighborhoods:

Do these people speak for you?

And if you deflect to “January 6”, in the seeming belief that there was no pollitical violence in this country before that day, I will mock and taunt you for a month straight, and you will deserve it.


It’s the position of this blog that you can tell everything you need to know about what people and companies really think by observing where their money goes – especially money that is intended to get people to give them more money back.

Especially advertising.

As we’ve noted in the past:

So – what does that tell us about “the System” and what it really believes?

Some Animals…

This was Keith Ellison, the other night in Brooklyn Center:

So we have:

  • Minnesota’s top “law enforcement officer”
  • Out after the curfew his political class imposed
  • Telling (the right) people to go ahead and flout the curfew

I’m going to need to find all these examples of Ellison’s perfidy and collect ’em all in one place for 2022. This stuff needs to get dragged out of the memory hole…

…for whatever good it’ll do.


Watching what’s going on now, I’ve had just about enough of two responses:

“It’s just property”

Let’s say you’ve worked hard, and spent $40,000 on a car. Since the average median income is about $40,000, that’s a year out of your life (your math may vary; If you make $100,000 a year, imagine you bought a Range Rover). You can spread that out over 4 to 7 years with a loan – but it’s still got to get paid, which means you are still going to spend a year of your life to pay for that car.

Somebody steals or destroys it. That means they have taken the work from a whole year of your life.

Without paying you.

And saying “it’s covered by insurance“ is a copout; instead of appropriating the life and labor of one person, you’re spreading it out across everyone. Insurance against accidents and the vicissitudes of life is one thing; assuming insurance is there to pay for someone’s looting or crime spree is the same as saying “this group of people is entitled to that group of people’s labor, without compensation.”

Stealing and destroying things, and saying “someone else will pay for it“, whether it’s one person or hundreds of thousands, is no different than making them work for you for free.

If someone openly talked about forcing a group of people to work for them for free, what would you do?

If someone were coming at you with the explicit purpose of forcing you to work for them for free, what would you call it?

Hint: we fought a Civil War over it at one point.

The other saying: “Complaining about destruction of property is privilege”

Your G___damn right it is. It’s a “Privilege“ you, and I, and every chump Of every race, religion, gender and orientation who pays taxes to any level of government, earn, in full expectation that government will carry out its absolute minimum legitimate role.

Which is not “building bike paths” or “running resiliency departments” or even “making life happy and equitable”.

It is “ upholding the rule of law“.

Which all sounds very square, like the John Lithgow character in “Footloose”…

…until you remember that without some minimum standard of order – for example, knowing that the home you work to pay for and the business you work to build, and the community that you work to create, aren’t going to be stolen and destroyed arbitrarily – prosperity [1] is impossible.

And without prosperity, “freedom“ is irrelevant. What difference does it make if you can vote, if you are working from sunup to sundown to stave off famine and don’t have time to keep up on the news?

It is the same level of “privilege“, by the way, that leads one to legitimately expect the justice system to which we lend some of our freedoms to work, fairly and impartially, no matter who the defendants are.

I’m done with taking either of these arguments as anything but the abominations they are. Our entire society needs to be done with them both.

Excusing looting, whatever its motivations, is an attack on everybody’s freedom. It’s time to treat it as such.

[1] and by “prosperity“, I don’t mean “Jay-Z driving around in a Bentley“. I mean “most of us aren’t out working in a field from the sunrise until sunset, to earn a famine prone subsistence living, so we have time to read books and raise our kids and think about things other than trying not to starve“. Which, throughout millions of years if human history, has been the rule, not the exception. That is mankind‘s natural state, not this relative utopia we are living in today.

Note To High School And College Kids In The Audience

To: High School and College Kids in the audiene (or parents of same)
From: Mitch Berg, Ornery Peasant
Re: A Tip From Future You

Dear Kids,

Study up, get into a Tier 1 law school, and get into medical malpractice law:

Your future self, sitting on the deck of your yacht, will thank your present self. And, by extension, me.

That is all.

That Nagging Feeling Something Is Just Not Right

Background point 1: the Woke Mob in Hollywood has, for the past few years, been twisting itself into a self-righteous tizzy about “Tropic Thunder”, the 2008 satirical action comedy best described as “The Three Amigos go to Vietnam“; three prima donna actors to to Southeast Asia to shoot a Vietnam movie, and end up in the middle of a guerrilla war.

The movie was…not bad for anything involving Ben Stiller after Something About Mary. It also included Jack Black at the peak of his overexposure…

…and Robert Downey Junior, literally in (supposedly, satirically) blackface.

The PC mob, in full “eat its own” mode, has been on the…I can’t say “warpath” anymore, can I? The PC mob has been after the movie for Downey’s “blackface” appearance…

…notwithstanding that the whole point of the role is spoofing the arrogance of Hollywood’s “method actor” crowd, whose real-life methods weren’t a whole lot less absurd at the height of the fad. The “white method actor in blackface” schtick was, in fact, the same point the woke mob would like to make – actors sure can be disconnected, pretentious and arrogant – if they had senses of either humor or proportion.

It’s a point that is in fact, the only memorable part of that movie – which I remember being funny enough and not half bad, but then I only remember that because it’s the movie with Robert Downey in the perfectly absurd makup.

Background point 2: A key tenet of feminism is that women can do literally everything men can – and, more proximate to this post, females can do anything males can. (We’ll leave out the whole “even if they’re trans men and they’re in a weightlifting competition” bit – for purposes of this post, anyway).

OK. On to the post.

I don’t watch a lot of TV. I literally went six years without watching a network TV show – from the finale of The Office til sometime in 2020, I didn’t watch a single network television show (and other than local weather, nothing on their local affiliates).

For that matter, I went from the finale of Breaking Bad until probably a few months into the pandemic without watching much of anything on cable.

And truth be told, my habits haven’t changed much.

Even a show with a brilliant promotional campaign will rarely reel me in – and I say “rarely” out of pure intellectual honesty; it could happen, it might have happened, but I honestly can’t recall if it has happened.

If there was a show whose promos were not, no way, no how, ever going to reel me in, it’s…

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Grab Your Popcorn

I’ve got a few friends who could qualify as “transgender”. I’ve always done my best to treat them with compassion and respect, the way we’re supposed to treat human beings.

That part is not open for debate.

But there are a few points open for legitimate debate – and the reason we know this is that the trans “movement” – I’ll just call it Big Trans from now on – works so very hard to suppress that debate. In my forays into looking into how Big Trans behaves on social media, I’ve found no group able to mobilize so much frothing ire so fast – not union goons, not Big Karen, nobody. Their “allies” certainly pull their weight in trying to shut down the conversation as well.

Now, there’s a backlash – some parents of putatively trans children are pushing back against the logrolling disguised as “support” that their children, often deeply vulnerable, receive

This piece – first of a four-part investigation – is very long, and so far utterly worth a read.

A Few Issues

Like a decent but shrinking share of National Public Radio (NPR) programming, “The Hidden Brain” has some redeeming value – in this case, some fascinating looks into the frontiers of cognitive psychology, at least among the episodes I’ve heard. A repurposed podcast, like an awful lot of NPR programming, it is one of the shows that’s filling the spot “Prairie Home Companion” and “Live from Here” used to fill – and is actually pretty interesting, even with the occasional challenge it provides.

But it’s NPR – National “Progressive” Radio. The network exists largely to affirm the left’s prejudices about itself and society. An NPR bumper sticker or tote bag was an Urban Progressive Privilege virtue-signal long before those became a cultural obsession.

And so when fact peters out, narrative sets in. And there is just no way that narrative gets challenged by anyone on the program. It might be off-topic – you’d be surprised how easy it is to fill an hour of radio – but it seems more and more obvious that NPR isn’t in the “challeninging Big Left’s tropes” business.

And so with last weekend’s episode, on “Honor Societies” – which, the hypothesis goes, include much of the American South and West.

You can argue the premise. You can argue the findings. And by all means, do.

But around forty minutes in, the host and guest swerved into a deeply counterfactual “discussion of ‘Stand your Ground’ laws”. I put it in scare quotes because it was no such thing; it was an unchallenged recitation of Big Left’s narrative about self-defense reform.

I wrote then an email, attached below.

I’m Mitch Berg, from Saint Paul, MN. My day job involves a lot of applied cognitive psychology, so I’ve become a bit of a fan of HIdden Brain [1]. I listen most Saturdays on KNOW in Saint Paul.

And I very much enjoyed your 3/29 episode, about “Honor Societies” – until about 40 minutes into it, where it swerved, hard, into misinformation.

Your host and guest spent a few moments discussing so-called “Stand your Ground” laws. Whether through ignorance or intent, that part of the show was highly legally erroneous at best, and misinformation at worst.

I’ll explain briefly [2]:

  1. Self-defense laws vary by state – but in every case I’m aware of require that one meet the following criteria:
    One must reasonably fear being killed, violently, then and there (where “reasonable” means “would convince a jury”).
  2. You can only use the force needed to end the threat in #1 above. When an attacker turns to run away, or falls over too injured to hurt you, the threat is over – you can’t hunt them down and finish them off.
  3. One must not be the aggressor; one can’t start a bar-room brawl (or an “honor” incident, for that matter) and pull a gun when someone breaks a beer bottle.
  4. One must make a reasonable effort to retreat (same definition of “reasonable” as above). In a “Castle Doctrine” state, this doesn’t apply in the home and, in some states, one’s business. In a so-called “Stand your Ground” state, it doesn’t apply outside the home, anyplace one has a legal right to be, while doing anything one has the legal right to do, provided you meet the three criteria above.

Your guest repeated the “misconception” – in many cases, it’s a propagandistic chanting point, but I’ll presume good motive, here – that “Stand your Ground” means, closely paraphrasing your guest, that “thinking you’re in danger gives you the right to kill someone, and call it self-defense”. In fact, even in situations where “Castle” or “Stand your Ground” laws apply, one must meet the other three criteria, subject to the details of state statute, to the satisfaction of the investigators, the prosecutors, and if worse comes to worst a jury.”Stand your ground” is not a legal grounds to claim the dog ate one’s moral homework to get away with murder.Beyond that? Your guest noted that “Stand your Ground” laws are most common in “Honor States” – implying “Honor”-based attitudes drive “Stand your Ground” laws.

But facts show that the correlation is far from accurate. 29 states, as diverse as Florida, Pennsylvania and New Hampshire, have “stand your ground” statutes, and eight more – including Washington State, Oregon and Illinois – have it in case law. (And New York, Maine, Massachusetts and Minnesota are all “Castle” states, via statute or case law). So, rather than “Honor Society”, the valid correlation appears to be states with meaningfully strong and effective libertarian/conservative legislative majorities or minorities have such laws.

Fascinating as much of the episode was (I wound up driving around the city for an extra 40 minutes to hear the whole thing), this part of the episode veered sharply from fact into legal misinformation. And given this is a public radio production, even one I generally enjoy a lot, I’m given to suspect at least a tinge of classist narrative. The show was much the worse off for it.

While I realize the odds of this email being acknowledged, much less broadcast, are about as likely as my getting a hot third date with Anna Kendrick, I grant permission to use this response on the air, and will edit and put it in audio form if you prefer.

I’ll also point out that as part of my “side hustle” (see [1], below), I’ll be discussing this episode, and my attempt to contact your program about it, on my show, podcast and blog, in the coming week or two, including reaching out (likely pro forms and in the interest of fairness and clarity) to your show’s guest.

Mitch Berg
651 xxx xxxx

[1] I mentioned my “day job” – now I should tell you about my side hustle. I’m a talk show host and podcaster at a Twin Cities radio station, as well as a modestly prominent regional blogger. That follows a career in radio and journalism, including at least some time doing news at a publicly-supported station.

[2] My bona fides: For over two decades, I’ve been an activist and volunteer for the groups that wrote much of MInnesota’s current body of firearms law, which have passed with strong bipartisan majorities and been signed by governors of both parties. I produce the podcast for this group. As a MInnesota carry permit holder, I have had to repeatedly demonstrate knowledge of the law as part of statutory permit training. I’m not a lawyer, but I get most of my information from lawyers who specialize in this area, both in criminal defense and legislative terms. You want cites, I got cites. If there is a person anywhere in American alternative media who’s paid more dues on this issue, I say with all due humility I have yet to be introduced to them.

Public radio – NPR, as always, and increasingly MPR – rarely deigns to acknowledge the proles. Suffice to say, this post (and my next NARN show) will likely be this topic’s only sojourn outside the memory hole.

Our Ad

Ads don’t appear by accident.

Least of all television ads, with their high production costs and long lead-times. If you see something in a television ad, especially an “agency” spot (produced by an ad agency, as opposed to something shot at a store or TV station for a local merchant, you may be assured someone thought about the message it was portraying.

A lot.

As we’ve discussed recently, the high numbers of African-Americans in TV commercials challenge the idea that Americans are innately racist. If an add offends someone on some visceral level, it’s just not going to work.

With that in mind, I direct your attention to the latest round of commercials for “Hy Vee”, the national grocery chain, and what HyVee thinks it says about their customers. Both spots are done to the tune of the ’80s song Our House, by the British ska group “Madness”.

Here’s the first one, which came out over the winter:

Note the imagery (amid all the HyVee products):

  • Mom is the executive rushing off to the high-power job.
  • Dad is not only getting the kids ready for school. Not only is he kind of a bumbler, like most TV ad dads, but he looks like a buffoon.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with dads taking care of kids. I spent 20 years doing it, 11 of ’em mostly by myself, several more covering the day shift and working nights to save daycare. Fathers pulling their weight is nothing new.

But it’s not an unreasonable assumption that, in the typical family – whether two-parent or not – a woman is still making a lot of the shopping decisions. And HyVee, one of the major retailers, believes that not only is the image of the woman being the high-speed executive bread-winner one that appeals to those consumers, but showing hubby as a hapless buffoon who’d be lost without her appeals as well.

It’s hardly a novel observation.

HyVee has a new “Our House” spot out – it’s not out on Youtube just yet, so I can’t post it here just yet. And when I first saw it – with its improbably pretty mom cleaning the house to a fine sheen with her array of HyVee products, and a pronounced “Father Knows Best” vibe, I briefly thought “Ooofda – how did this get greenlit? The feministasi are going to have a cow.”.

Then I mentally caught myself. “There’s going to be a whammy”.

And sure enough – Dad finally came home. And he reminded me of Rip Taylor, if Rip Taylor were playing a Gestapo agent (sans long black trench coat – this agent was dressed like, well, Rip Taylor in a HyVee commercial) – simultaneously petulant and way below Mom’s league.

So apparently HyVee’s marketing department believes that an ad Dad who is a mass of caricatures, coming across as a spoiled, petulant martinet to his improbably gorgeous, clearly put-upon spouse, is not only not going to turn their audience off, but will in fact bring them out to the stores?

What does this say about…

…well, not “society”, per se, but the advertising industry’s view of society?

Evils Of The Leftist Lexicon

I first observed that Big Left was devaluing the term “Holocaust” – redefining it as “any social change Big Left doesn’t approve of” – over 30 years ago. To be fair that one never really took off – at the time, when people still took “Never Forget” seriously. I’m less sanguine about Big Left’s next attempt to sandbag that word.

Next came “Fascist”. “Anti”-Fa was only the latest among decades of hijacking, during which “Fascism” became equated with “any idea I, a member of Big Left, disagree with on any level” (as opposed to “Socialism combined with nationalism”).

“Hitler” and “Nazi” started taking it in the shorts during the George W. Bush administration, but their devaluation in the not-very-informed minds of a generation is proceeding apace.

Likewise “Racist”, “Misogynist” and pretty much any socially-loaded “-phobia”.

And now? “Jim Crow”.

On Big Left, words no longer have meanings. Or, rather, they’re working overtime to detach words for the meanings they’ve always had.