Taking Stock

So let’s take stock of where were at in the Biden administration so far:

  • Our shelves are getting kinda bare. “But Merg – you couldn’t find toilet paper during the last year of Drumpf’s regime”. Yep – for free market reasons that actually made sense. Try again.
  • The borders are in effect open.
  • We have a de facto hostage crisis
  • The Taliban in back in control in Afghanistan
  • Fuel costs aren’t just rising, they’re skyrocketing.
  • Public education is getting even worse.
  • The social divides that erupted in violence during the Obama regime have escalated.
  • Indeed, inflation is back for the first time since my freshman year of college.
  • The executive branch, which as been too poiwerful for a long time, is starting to act on that fact.
  • After a year of government acting like a scolding “Karen” of a neighbor and “two weeks to flatten the curve”, not only has Covid gone nowhere, but the economic effects of lockdowns are getting worse.
  • The workforce – one of the four key pillars of the economy, along with land, capital and management – has been “unintentionally” distorted far out of whack, with dire consequences.
  • China is ratting its sabers as never before.

What am I missing?

Offsetting

On the one hand, I see stories like this Dash people protesting at the home have a school board member…

…and point out that what they’re doing isn’t really a whole lot better than what John Thompson did.

On the other hand, I read stories like this, and wonder if a little well focused fear wouldn’t be a very good idea for a lot of public officials?

Ersatz Replacement Usurper

Joe Doakea from Como Park emails

It’s entertaining to make fun of people running around promoting wide-eyed, far-right, moon-bat crazy, pants-on-head conspiracy theories. Like, for instance, Trump didn’t lose the election, the election was stolen from him. Biden and Harris were never the popular choice, they’re merely placeholders until the Real Usurper pulling the strings behind the scenes can be installed as President-For-Life. Okay, it’s completely nuts and nobody believes it, but just for kicks . . .

Biden is senile and Harris is hated. Kill Harris in a false flag operation blamed on Conservatives, bum-rush Congress into appointing the Real Usurper as Veep, then use the 25th Amendment to remove Biden. Could work. So who’s the Real Usurper?

Here’s an article reviewing the 50 most popular Democrats in America. Those are the talent pool to replace Biden.

Some of them are dead. Carter, Clinton and Gore are too old. Pelosi, Warren, Bloomberg are theoretically possible but carry a lot of baggage.

Tulsi is cute but I doubt she has the influence to pull it off.

Bernie is wildly popular with the Democrat base. They’d do anything for him. He’s a real possibility.

Obama. He couldn’t be ELECTED to a third term, but he could be appointed Vice President and then move up. With the new election laws being rammed through Congress, he wouldn’t have to worry about winning another election as long as he lives. Question is – does he still have enough influence with the Democrat party and the Deep State bureaucrats to pull it off? And does he hate America enough to fundamentally transform it from a republic to a dictatorship, with himself at the helm?

Might make a good novel but it’s all a wild fantasy, right? Nobody would ever believe it, right?

Joe Doakes

Our New, New Normal

Over the past few days, there’s been an undercurrent on social media of people saying the implosion of Afghanistan, culminating [1] in yesterday’s suicide-bomb attack killing (so far) 10 Marines and close to 100 people all told was “the angriest/saddest they’ve felt since 9/11”.

For me? In some ways, it’s worse.

9/11 wasn’t a “surprise”, per se – if you’d been paying attention through the ’90s, with the USS Cole, the Khobar Towers and the first WTC Bombing, it was a natural progression. But it was enemies doing what enemies do. We were attacked – like Pearl Harbor, like the Norks crossing the 38th Parallel, it was people who hated us, doing what people who hate us say they’re going to do.

This past two weeks? That same motivation was – let’s not delve into conspiracy-land here – colossal incompetence on every level of our own government, humiliating this country. It’s basketball team doesn’t just shoot a three-pointer into their own basket, but every member of the team slamming a dunk into their own bucket, as the coach says “yep, that’s the plan – score 100 points for the other guys; then we’ll have ’em where we want ’em”, and the other team does casual free-throws when there isn’t one of our guys hanging from the rim.

They say “never chalk up to malice what can be better explained by stupidity”. But if the Biden Administration had planned from the very beginning to humiliate this nation, what would they have done differently? Make Robin DiAngelo the chair of the Joint Chiefs, and put Steven Colbert in charge of Special Operations Command?

Seeing our nation blind-sided twenty years ago was bad enough.

Seeing our nation humiliate itself? Over and over?

This is a new one for me.

This is not the nation I wanted to leave for my kids, my grandkids.

And as far as I can help it, I won’t.

[1] And when I say “culminating”, I mean “so far”. This seems to be a barrel with no bottom.

Shake And Bake Crisis

Who predicted, nine months ago in this very space, that the federal case of the “kidnapping plot against Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer“ would turn out to be a federal shake and bake operation, intended to give us some pretense of delivering on the “wave of right wing terror“ that the feds have been promising since 2009?
 
Why, it was me.
 
 
People have short memories; the feds got in trouble for the same thing back in the 1970s, when it turned out The FBI had infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan so thoroughly that most of the conspiracies that got rounded up were actually spawned by federal informants and undercover operatives.
 
I wrote about this last week; it would appear that the “conspiracy“ was driven by undercover agents and informers.
 

So you say people don’t trust government and its institutions?

The hell you say…

(Note to the peanut gallery: go ahead, respond “so what you’re saying is, yoiu support white supremqcists?”. I dare you.

Equity

Joe Doakes from Como Park emails:

If taking a selfie in the Capitol is insurrection and attempted assassination of Congress, what is giving The Deadliest Virus Every Known to members of Congress, their staff members and people in the White House?

Why aren’t Texas Democrats held in solitary confinement until their treason trials?

Joe Doakes

Because the Texas Democrats don’t allow the Democrats, nationally, to deflect away from their support for the costliest riots in US history?

While Making Your Afternoon Listening Plans

Please tune in to AM1280 this afternoon from 4-6PM for a special broadcast about Critical Race Theory in Minnesota, and what you and I can do about it.

It’ll feature:

  • Kendall Qualls and Alfrieda Baldwin from “Take Charge Minnesota”
  • Catrin Wigfall from the Center of the American Experiment
  • Rebekah Hagstrom from “Education Nation”.

We’ll be having the actual conversation that the CRT crowd plays lip service to.

I’ll be moderating the discussion.

Hope you can listen in!

The Mutual Disgust That Dare Not Say Its Name

Americans – at least the noisy ones that take part in politics – don’t like each other very much. Dennis Prager notes that we’re more divided, politically and intellectually, today than we were in 1861; other than slavery and its various side effects and the state and regional social differences that they led to, Americans weren’t that far apart back then.

Today? The hate is palpable. I felt it almost two decades ago, and it’s gotten much, much worse in the five years.

Half the country is using the nation’s government and media institutions and, increasingly, the corporate world to gain control over the other half.

And as the Declaration of Independence notes, people are inclined to suffer from indignities and oppression…

…until they’re not.

So – what if that other half finally says “enough”, and decides we’re better off apart?

Ignore the source – pseudonymous social media trolls are cheaper than Dogecoin derivatives these days. With that said, whoever drew this…:

…must live in Texas (or Florida?), and be one of those Texans / Floridians who doesn’t spend a lot of time paying attention to the rest of the country. The Dakotas will join a mostly-blue Midwest only via a hypothetical conquest, and Minnesotans invading North Dakota would look a little like this, or maybe this.

I digress.

Idle speculation?

Of course.

But sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier and more productive than the situation we have.

Hate

Disclaimers offered in advance: it’s The Blaze, so it’s just a smidgen suspect.

But if it’s true, I’m not sure I like this story all that much: The police charged a Utah woman with a “hate crime“ for destroying a “Back the Blue“ sign and quote smirking and “at a deputy in an “intimidating“ manner.

“As I concluded my traffic stop and released the individuals, I observed some of the individuals’ friends approach them and attempt to console them,” the deputy wrote in a probable cause affidavit, the News said.

“I observed one of the friends, later identified to be Lauren Gibson, stomping on a ‘Back the Blue’ sign next to where the traffic stop was conducted, crumble it up in a destructive manner, and throw it into a trash can all while smirking in an intimidating manner towards me,” the deputy added, according the paper.

On the one hand? I’m not going to say there’s not some smidgen of glorious schadenfreude involved in seeing one of these entitled little “progressive“ twerps getting a comeuppance.

On the other?

Think of all the legitimate hate crimes that “Progressive“, under the cover that urban progressive privilege grant them, have carried out over the past 10 or 15 years; James Hodgkinson and his shooting spree against Republicans, the assault on Senator Rand Paul, and for that matter this little list of politically motivated bias crimes that I used to maintain until it stopped being fun, for that matter, among many others.

Distraction of signs and “intimidating“ “smirking“? That’s every election season for every conservative in Saint Paul.

Is it a good thing that, of all of the non-Leftist victims of bias-based assaults in this country, only cops seem to be covered by hate crime laws?

The Fix

I’ve observed, with tongue half-heartedly about a quarter of the way into my cheek, that you could tell there not a significant number of “white supremacists” in last year’s riots, because as the Midway burned, vandalized and/or caked with graffiti, Allianz Field, the playground of upper-middle-class white progressive Europhiles and, we were once told, immigrants, protected by not so much as a row of barberry bushes, had not so much as a squiggle of Sharpie on it.

So the notion that “white supremacists” were behind the riots seems…far-fetched.

But it’s interesting that the owners of Allianz Field and “Minnesota United” would seem to be the only people who stand to profit, maybe immensely, from the riots.

What’s Swedish For Omertá?

When people can’t trust the “Justice” system, they create their own.

From Irish cops to legends of The Godfather and Goodfellas and The Sopranos to the various warlords and cartels of Central America (and what is a cartel but a warlord with a product people want to buy?), the long legacy of people, even in a place that’s prided itself on this justice system, who find themselves needing to turn to their own communities (read: the elements of their communities with the fewest scruples about applying force to gain power) to get, if not “justice”, at least a order they as a group can live with, albeit at a cost.

The trick? Get the locals to fear you, and the erstwhile authorities at least to give you some room out of mutual convenience, if not outright getting on your payroll. And/or both.

So – can we, the people, trust our institutions?

  • Our “elite” media is a joke. They are nothing but propaganda shills, and they only pay lip service to the contrary to gull the gullible.
  • The FBI and the Justice Department are thoroughly politicized.
  • So are academia and education and the bureaucracy.
  • While lefist groups get the run of major cities without even the formality of a slap on the wrist, those perceived as “right of center” come in for, let’s not mince words, oppression.

And when the Normals color inside the lines, as we did during the Tea Party, we get both sides sliming us; when they learn the lesson and elect a candidate who doesn’t play by the K Street rules, they get slandered as a group. Oh, yeah – and told they’re defectives who are wired to hate from birth, and are just waiting to blow up.

It seems like Big Left is a bully kicking sand in the Normals’ faces, trying to provoke a fight.

Am I the only one who can’t possibly think it’s a coincidence?

Hastily Made Portland Tourism Ad?

So is this a tourism ad, or a cry for help?

Odd tourism ad, doncha think? Usually you get a picture of nature, or a soaring skyline, or beatiful people enjoying dazzling nightlife. But not this time.

So what does a tourist do in Portland? Apparently you can cross a bunch of bridges. That might have some allure. I have it on good authority that Portland has a number of restaurants, but it’s difficult to tell what the bill of fare might be from this brown paper ad. It’s possible the restaurants in Portland feature word salad. “We’re a place of dualities that are never polarities.” What does that even mean? Does it mean this?

Portland crowd-control police unit resigns en masse after team member  criminally charged - East Idaho News

That might be the dazzling nightlife? After all, things are going well:

Every member of a police crowd-control unit in the US city of Portland has resigned after one of its officers was indicted on an assault charge.

The charge stemmed from violent anti-racism protests that rocked the city, in the state of Oregon, last year.

Prosecutors allege the officer used “excessive and unlawful use of force” against a protester in August 2020.

But Portland’s police union described the decision to prosecute the officer as “politically driven”.

The reporting here is from the BBC. Looks like they didn’t get the “mostly peaceful” memo. 

Unlike “Resiliency Director” Katie Knuth…

…Minneapolis’s PR firm is going be earning its pay over this next one-to-fifty years.

“Protesters” took to blocking off streets in the Uptown area over the weekend – leading to an incident where someone drove into the crowd, killing one woman.

Which led a crowd to block off Lake Street yet again. And it wasn’t an especially “peaceful” bunch of protesters.

One local news crew actually videotaping a woman wandering around, gun in hand, shooting at God only knows what or two:

I’ll try to post the video when and if it becomes publicly available.

By the way – ain’t Uptown looking grand these days?

Desperately Seeking

Twin Cities media – in this case, the “Minnesota Reformer”, aka “MN Monitor 4.0” – is apparently still hoping for the FBI to charge “Umbrella Man” with destroying or damaging 700 buildings last year.

I’m sorry. That was snarky.

I’ll try again.

They are apparently still awaiting formal confirmation that Umbrella Man led a horde of “white supremacists” who managed to damage 700 buildings, while leaving not so much as a single swastika or “14 Words” refernce – being simultaneously a bunch of brain-damaged losers and operatives with Mossad-level fieldcraft skills. .

Updates as the situation warrants.

I Think I Figured It Out

An allegory in three acts:

Act 1

SCENE: An elementary school classroom.BULLY is sitting at the desk next to KID. A half dozen pencils lie strewn about the floor around KID’s desk.

BULLY: Throws a pencil at KID. KID looks annoyed, but shakes it off.

BULLY: (Sotto Voce) Hey, kid! (KID looks over as BULLY whips another pencil at him. KID, more annoyed, shakes it off)

BULLY: (Sotto Voce again). Hey, kid!

KID: Tries to ignore BULLY.

BULLY: (Flings pencil, hard . The pencil catches KID in the corner of the eye, and it hurts.

KID: (Jumps up). What’s your problem?

BULLY: Ms. Walburn! Ms. Walburn! The Kid is trying to pick a fight with me!

MS. WALBURN: Kid, you have detention tonight!

BULLY: Ms. Walburn, have I not been warning you about Kid’s propensity to bullying for days, now ?

KID: What the…?

And SCENE

Act Two

SCENE: In the kitchen of a single-wide trailer. WIFE Is sitting on the floor sobbing. HUSBAND is looking around, apparently making sure nobody saw what just happened.

HUSBAND: Look, you provoked me.

WIFE: (Sobs)

HUSBAND: I mean, OK, hitting was wrong, but you have to admit, the way you badger me about things is emotional abuse. And you know what they way – emotional abuse is worse than physical abuse.

WIFE: (Sobs)

HUSBAND: And you were badgering me. I mean, criminy, we both have big problems, here.

WIFE (Sobs)

HUSBAND: I mean, since emotional abuse is worse, and you do a lot of it, we’re really still not even even-up, here…

WIFE: (Sobs)

HUSBAND: I mean, you’re lucky I’m willing to call it even. It’s a gift.

WIFE (Sobs)

Act Three

SCENE: The United States, today.

BIG LEFT: “Whiteness” is a mental disorder that goes along with merely being white. Whiteness and systemic racism are inseparable.

NORMALS: That’s bulls#it.

BIG LEFT: That’s your privilege, racism, misogyny, transphobia and ethnocentrism talking.

NORMALS: That’s just word salad at best. “Inclusion language” – an arcane code designed to show you’re one of the “good ones” – at worst.

BIG LEFT: What if your employer were to find out about your retrograde thinking? They might not appreciated it.

NORMALS: So you’re going to try to cancel me, now?

BIG LEFT: Pffft. There is no such thing as “cancel culture”.

NORMALS: Sure there is. If we’re mainstream conservatives, and haven’t gone as undercover as a Mossad operative in Tehran, we can’t get jobs in Academia, public education, much of private education, Hollywood, many public employee unions, the news media, a whooole lot of BIg Tech, an increasing number of smaller companies. And if we break cover – or any “evidence” of mainstream conservatism is found, we can get hounded out of our jobs, our hobbies, our volunteer work, deplatformed, and have our personal lives upended as well.

BIG LEFT: Republicans do it too!

NORMALS: So let me get this straight – it doesn’t exist, but Republicans do it too?

BIG LEFT: Evangelical groups picketed LGBTQ bookstores! Gays were oppressed!

NORMALS: OK, so that’s a “yes”. And let’s be clear on this – you go back almost forty years, to very localized episodes, to find behavior that pretty much every significant conservative repudiates today. As opposed to people being barred or drummed out of whole swathes of academia, business and culture. No cancel culture? Please.

BIG LEFT: Nope. There is only “accountability culture”.

NORMALS: “Accountability” for what? Having, much less voicing, utterly mainstream Republican views?

BIG LEFT: For the results of your Privilege and Whiteness!

NORMALS: Privilege – an Orwellian deflection of classist and cultural privilege shared by the left’s “elites” over to race? “Whiteness” – a bit of made-up pseudo-social-science designed entirely to denigrate and invalidate people without needing to engage in any facts?

BIG LEFT: Sounds like “white fragility” talking…

NORMALS: More word salad, with a siding of making facts up as you go along.

BIG LEFT: Here’s the only “fact” you need: January 6! The worst act of terrorism in American history!

NORMALS: Leaving aside the fact that it’s far from the only partisan violence at the seat of American democracy, January 6 was something that every significant conservative repudiated. But you keep on trying to apply it to everyone you disagree with, as if it gives The Left a permanent intellectual get out of jail free card.

BIG LEFT: Bet you wouldn’t be talking so big if you had a bunch of protesters in front of your house, would you? It’d be a shame if something…broke.

NORMALS: Go ahead. Make my day.

BIG LEFT: It’s a threat! It’s a threat! Behold the wave of white supremacist terror we’ve been warning you about for the past fifteen years!

And SCENE.

Just Another Man Of Peace

Winston Smith, the man killed last week in Uptown, was apparently already “at war” with the police:

Smith’s violent resistance to arrest may have been motivated by his belief that he was engaged in a “war” on cops.

For years leading up to his death, Smith made statements across social media platforms vowing to shoot police officers if he were ever to be apprehended, encouraging his followers to bring guns and bombs to protests and outlining tactics he believed would be most effective to kill members of law enforcement. He also frequently suggested that he was meeting with like-minded people and taking tangible steps towards these aims.

“Get ready for war,” Smith told his followers via Instagram in mid-April.

“Motherfuckers are finna move on these ‘ops,” he continued, using a slang term that means people would attack police.

“All the shooters, suit up,” he ordered. “Lace your boots up, it’s war fucking time. Bring your gun to the protest, bring them fucking bombs and rocket launchers and all that shit.”

Even some of the local media – in this case, ,reliably left-of-center Fox9 – are taking their break from the Twin Cities media’s usual “write a hagiography first, ask questions later” procedure and noting that there just might be an elephant in this particular room.

UPDATE: It’s unclear from media or law enforcement reports whether Smith was involved in January 6, the only example of violence in American history.

Newbies

Have we reached a tipping point in the culture war as re guns?

It’s not a new point – if you’ve listened to my show, you’ve heard the story.

But this past year, 40% of gun sales were to people outside the “white male who’s already got a bunch of guns” stereotype:

Not only were people who already had guns buying more, but people who had never owned one were buying them too. New preliminary data from Northeastern University and the Harvard Injury Control Research Center show that about a fifth of all Americans who bought guns last year were first-time gun owners. And the data, which has not been previously released, showed that new owners were less likely than usual to be male and white. Half were women, a fifth were Black and a fifth were Hispanic.

In all, the data found that 39 percent of American households own guns. That is up from 32 percent in 2016, according to the General Social Survey, a public opinion poll conducted by a research center at the University of Chicago. Researchers said it was too early to tell whether the uptick represents a reversal from the past 20 years, in which ownership was basically flat.

Further evidence (along with the fact that younger Americans overwhelmingly support the right to keep and bear arms) of this thesis.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/an-arms-race-in-america-gun-buying-spiked-during-the-pandemic-its-still-up/ar-AAKvZfB?fbclid=IwAR3XpPNFnN3AzvSBuOo0Lg1yYnPyr606bKqagbSsPdSkYuIWo5cFxPEFA90

This Ain’t No Foolin’ Around

The sound of gunfire, off in the distance/I’m getting used to it now.

That wasn’t off in the distance. It was the scene at 38th and Chicago yesterday, also known as George Floyd Square. Sure, it was the middle of the day, but it’s always a good time to bust a few caps, right? This news report was, ahem, deadpan:

The Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd died was disrupted by gunfire Tuesday, just hours before it was to be the site of a family-friendly street festival marking the anniversary of his death at the hands of police.

Nothing quite says family-friendly street festival like random gunfire. But fortunately, a bona fide journalist was on the scene:

Journalist Philip Crowther, who was shooting live video from 38th and Chicago, reported hearing as many as 30 gunshots about a block east of the intersection. Crowther said a storefront window appeared to have been broken by a gunshot.

“Very quickly things got back to normal,” Crowther said. “People here who spend a significant amount of time, the organizers, were running around asking, ‘Does anyone need a medic?’ It seems like there are no injuries.”

Mr. Crowther? There’s nothing normal about any of this. But hey, we appreciate the narrative!

Well, That Turned Around Fast

Friday Morning: local media cover the bejeebers out of a press conference – the sort of coordinated coverage that screams “a PR flak is working this hard”:

While challenges remain, downtown Minneapolis’ progress toward a post-pandemic revival is picking up steam, according to the panelists who joined a Friday morning online forum hosted by the Minneapolis Downtown Council…“My take on all of this is that you haven’t seen anything yet. Downtown is going to come back stronger and bigger than ever,” said Fhima, who leads the kitchen at Fhima’s Minneapolis.

Still, the panelists said, downtown is currently battling the perception that it’s unsafe — a perception Fhima [1] said was fueled by the lack of foot traffic on downtown streets during the pandemic, when many office workers shifted to working from home and widespread closures of restaurants and venues kept visitors away. Just as an empty restaurant might make diners question the quality of the food, he said, an empty downtown can leave visitors unnerved

“Challenges remain”, indeed.

18 hours after that coordinated burst of manufactured sunshine blowing up the Twin Cities collective nethers:

Two people were killed and 8 wounded in a shooting in downtown Minneapolis, police said early Saturday.

“Preliminary investigation reveals that two people were standing in a crowded area and got into a verbal confrontation,” the Minneapolis Police Department said in a statement.” Both individuals pulled out guns and began shooting at each other.”

Look – I enjoy downtown. I’ve worked there, and 2-3 years ago I used to go down there for concerts fairly regularly – move the Dakota than the First Avenue these days, but whatever. And as a taxpayer, I’ve had a lot of taxpayers money “invested” in it on my behalf, so it’d be nice if the current occupants at the City Council stopped screwing things up.

Not holding my breath, of course.

[1] Have any of Dave Fhima’s restaurants ever succeeded? . I haven’t paid much attention to the restaurant scene, but going back ten years or so, any of his places turned into their own vacant slices of downtown in a year or so.

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.

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.