Pulling The Strings

Bill Glahn has been doing the work the Twin Cities media hasn’t won’t in covering the big, unseen unreported-on force in Minnesota politics:  Take Action Minnesota.

Even among people who know that TAM exists, I think few know exactly what they’re into, and how the organization works:

Charity Status—whether legal or not, I object to TakeAction’s abuse of its tax-exempt non-profit charity status. Unlike the traditional political party—whose role the group is increasingly displacing —TakeAction can accept tax-deductible contributions from anonymous donors. Despite my best efforts at discovery, we really do not know who contributes the millions of dollars that fund TakeAction’s operations.

Quasi-Party Status—although TakeAction operates much like a political party—recruiting and financing candidates, conducting campaigns, and getting out the vote—it does not have to abide by the same laws on transparency and accountability. It acts as a closed political machine—answering to its (unknown) donors, but not to voters and taxpayers in the same way that the Democrats and Republicans must answer.

They also sit among a warren of offices for similar “progressive” “non-profits” – “ProtectMN”, “Wellstone Action” and others – in the Griggs Building, in the St. Paul Midway.  This isn’t just a happy accident, or entirely the product of the Griggs’ very low rent.  The network shares much more than just an address; phone banks, lists, staff, know-how.

You should read Glahn’s entire series on the subject:

My latest “Who Is TakeAction?” Series:

·         Part 1—Political philosophy
·         Part 2—TakeAction takes over city politics
·         Part 3—All the cool kids went to this year’s Progressive Prom

My original TakeAction Minnesota Series:

  • Part 1–Intro and the 2010 election for Minnesota Governor
  • Part 2–Follow the Money, as it spins around inside the TakeAction network
  • Part 3–Tracking down the money to its sources
  • Part 3A—More donor names and dollar amounts
  • Part 4–The lobby machine
  • Part 5–The 2012 referendum on Voter ID
  • Part 6–Updating Part 5 with final 2012 money figures
  • Part 7–TakeAction Goes to Washington

The entire series is excellent.

Although Glahn also observes:

[S]imply from a journalistic viewpoint, the rise of TakeAction as a political force is a major story—one that has received almost no coverage from Minnesota’s legacy media. In contrast, oceans of ink have been spilled over the Tea Party and its relationship to the Republican Party. There is a man-bites-dog story waiting for an enterprising reporter to pick it up.

This is not an accident.  It’s a case of Berg’s Seventh Law in action.

And most of the Twin Cities media shares TAM’s mission, whether they admit it or not (and whether their friendly coverage/non-coverage is being purchased by some of the same donors or not).


There are a lot of Second Amendment groups. .

Some – the NRA, the GOA, the Second Amendment Foundation – are big national groups that’ve been fighting the good fight for decades.

Others are laser-focused on state-level Second Amendment issues.



Gun control is a big issue these days.

Oh, not with most of the American people, it isn’t.  In fact, that’s the big problem gun-grabber groups are finding; while many Americans claim to support gun control, it’s not that big a deal to the vast majority.  In the meantime, Second Amendment Rights supporters consider the issue one of their short list of issues for which they donate time, passion and, occasionally, money.

It’s more accurate to say the left wants to make gun control a big issue among the 30% of the American people who might be inveigled to support it.  And they’re willing to pay big bucks.

The left?  They’ve got money.  The Joyce Foundation and Michael Bloomberg are pouring tens of millions into the issue, largely supporting astroturf groups and buying friendly media coverage around the country (as they’ve done with ProtectMN, Moms Want Action, the MinnPost and MPR here in Minnesota).

And when there’s money, there’s consultants.  “ProtectMN” has hired Richard Carlbom, the guy who ran Public Relations for the Gay Marriage campaign.  It’s not that Carlbom is necessarily a big anti-gunner; nobody I know has run into him in re the issue.  But he’s got a consulting company, and he’s looking to burnish his (well-earned) reputation as a messaging Hessian…

…and there’s just so freaking much money being poured into Minnesota to support stifling liberty, he’d be stupid not to try to grab a piece while he can.

Money brings them out of the woodwork.


There’s not nearly as much money being tossed around Minnesota on the other side, the Human Rights side. But it’s out there. A lot of Minnesotans, concerned about the extremist Metrocrat gun grab agenda that surfaced this past session, are starting to vote with their pocketbooks, as well as their feet and their, well, votes.

Every pro-second-amendment group is courting members very aggressively.

That’s where the story starts.


A few weeks ago, Minnesotans active in Second Amendment issues got this package.  It was led off by a cover letter from Glenn Gruenhagen, a Minnesota state Representative  – who, I stress right now and up front, is one of the absolute best in the Legislature on gun rights, and is utterly solid on the gun rights issue.  Gruenhagen is one of the good guys. 

The entire package – with the recipient’s name redacted – is shown below:

MGR_letter (1) (1).pdf

The package introduces us to “Minnesota Gun Rights”.  They’re soliciting donations to fight the battle for gun rights.

Now, I keep my finger in the air about gun rights in Minnesota. I stay familiar with the players on both sides.

I’ve never heard of Minnesota Gun Rights.

Who is this group?

We’ll come back to that.


Who are the “Iowa Gun Owners” (IGO)?

They make big claims.  The National Association for Gun Rights – which has itself come under, er, fire for barking more than it bites, and is itself under investigation for various ethics complaints – said:

On the local level, NAGR has assisted various grassroots state organizations in everything from helping form the group to professional and financial assistance. These groups include: Wyoming Gun Owners, Iowa Gun Owners, South Dakota Gun Owners, & New Hampshire Firearms Coalition, to name a few. Many of these groups are truly on the front lines when it comes to defending individual’s rights in their home states.


For example…Iowa Gun Owners has been working diligently to get a true Concealed Carry law passed.

The group claims…:

In Iowa, NAGR’s boots-on-the-ground ally Iowa Gun Owners (IGO) introduced the bill in 2011 and came within 2 votes of passing it.

Let’s look at Iowa for a moment.  This video is of Iowa state rep Matt Windschitl.


“This morning I saw an email from a so-called Second Amendment organization.  That organization, in a roundabout way, was trying to take credit for helping to get this [pro Second Amendment] bill to the floor and working it through the process.  It’s not the first time this organization has done that.  I want to be clear to Iowans – I want to be clear to anyone that’s watching this video right now; that organization’s executive director is Aaron Dorr; he’s the executive director of Iowa Gun Owners. Here’s the message; he did not lift a single finger to move this [pro second amendment] legislation forward. In fact, he never even chose to register on the original house file, House File 81. And he did not choose to register on this [pro second amendment] legislation before us now. The organizations that have brought this legislation to us today, to protect Iowans, are the National Rifle Association, the Iowa Firearms Coalition, the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association, and the Iowa Police Association. Those are the organizations that have spent time and effort to make sure we’re doing right by Iowans. So for those Iowans out there who have been getting these deceptive, misleading emails, rest assured – we are doing your business in an up front, honest manner…

So what?  It’s Iowa, right?

He’s talking about the group “Iowa Gun Owners”.

Yep.  Totally Iowa.

More tomorrow.


UPDATE:  Corrected a couple of typos.  It was early.

One Day At “Minnesotans United For All Social Progressive Causes”

(SCENE:  at the offices of “Minnesotans United for All Social Progressive Causes”, a modest little 501c4 non-proft in the Griggs Building in Saint Paul, located on a hallway close by “Take Action Minnesota”, “ProtectMN” and a who’s who of other Minnesota social activism non-profits supported by liberals with deep pockets.   Moonbeam BIRKENSTOCK and Avery LIBRELLE are sitting at Ikea desks across the aisle from each other.  BIRKENSTOCK looks depressed).

LIBRELLE:  What’s the matter, Moonbeam?

BIRKENSTOCK:  Oh, the usual.  Just worried about job security.


BIRKENSTOCK:  Well, work in the non-profit field depends on having another cause that progressives with deep pockets are willing to pour big money into.


BIRKENSTOCK:  And in a matter of two years, we not only stopped the Marriage Amendment, but passed Gay Marriage.


BIRKENSTOCK:  Right, yay.  But that’s a cause that should have taken years.  Like abortion – that’s been a steady gig for progressive activists for a couple of generations now.


BIRKENSTOCK:  But with the issue now a non-issue, that’s that many fewer jobs for people like us.

LIBRELLE:  Well, you could always sign on with Heather, down the hall at “ProtectMN”.  Lotsa money going into that group soon.

BIRKENSTOCK:  I thought about that.  But I’d have to deal with all those gun people.

LIBRELLE:  Oh, yeah.  I hear you.  They never just shut up and realize that they’re wrong.

BIRKENSTOCK:  Well, there’s that.  But it also depends on Heather not screwing the whole thing up.

(Both look at each other and break into laughter)

LIBRELLE:  OK, point taken.

BIRKENSTOCK:  It’s just that gay marriage was a major income generator for people like us.  I’m just afraid that some of us – maybe me, maybe some other Macalester poli-sci grad with no marketable job skills – might have to go out on…on…

LIBRELLE:  Say it…


LIBRELLE:  You’re among friends.

BIRKENSTOCK: The private sector.  (Chokes back a sob)

LIBRELLE: Hug it out.

(The two trade hug. BIRKENSTOCK sobs softly)

(Door opens and Gretel STROMBERG, Executive Director of MUFASPC, walks into the room carrying a thick file of paper).

STROMBERG:  Hey, everyone.

BIRKENSTOCK:  (un-hugging, sniffling a little)  Hi, Gretel


STROMBERG:   Why the long face?

BIRKENSTOCK:   It’s the way I was born…   (Resumes sobbing)

LIBRELLE:  I think it’s a figure of speech, Moonbeam.  (To STROMBERG) We were just talking about how there might be fewer jobs in advocacy now that gay marriage is a done deal.

STROMBERG:  What? Oh, you two sillies.  Not a chance.

BIRKENSTOCK:  (stops sobbing) Huh?

LIBRELLE:  What’s up?

STROMBERG:   Oh, have no fear.  We have a new cause.

BIRKENSTOCK:  (Looks at papers).  Wow.


STROMBERG:  It’s all about love. We don’t discriminate against love.

BIRKENSTOCK and LIBRELLE: We don’t discriminate against love.


Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative, Narrative…

…sorry.  It’s getting so thick, I’m getting just a tad punchy.

There’s an election coming up.  And the Democrats are going to need to need all the racial tension they can generate.

And their wholly-owned subsidiary at NPR is there to help them – in this case, in a story about Senate hearings on “Stand Your Ground” laws helpfully entitled “Senators bicker over state ‘stand your ground’ laws”:

The 2012 shooting death of Martin, 17 and unarmed, [provided you leave out “fists” and “bulk” – Ed] and the acquittal this year of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman stirred racial tensions and sparked debate over stand your ground laws in Florida and at least 21 other states.

Well, no.

The case itself stirred no tensions to speak of – until the Obama Administration, desperate to get out the black vote, turned Martin into a campaign stage prop, with the willing and unseemly connivance of the mainstream media.

Now, if you recall the piece on “ProtectMN”‘s “strategy” for the coming year, one of their goals is to emphasize emotional stories.  This is a common debate technique, of course; as my lawyer friends tell me, “when the facts are against you, argue law; when the law is against you, argue facts; when both are against you, argue like hell” – which means “emotions”, when you get right down to it.

And the media aren’t going to do anything about it.

Case in point:

Lucia Holman McBath, the mother of Jordan Russell Davis, implored the Senate to resolve the nation’s debate. 

[I’m going to hold out on the actual incident that led Ms. McBath to testifying in the Senate for just a bit, here]

“You can lift this nation from its internal battle in which guns rule over right,” McBath told the panel.

Ms. McBath lost a 17 year old son to someone who shot him in “self-defense”.

So what was the miscarriage of justice that led to Ms. McBath’s son’s killer walking away based on a “Stand your Ground” claim?  I’ll add emphasis:

Her 17-year-old son was shot and killed nearly a year ago when Michael David Dunn, 46, allegedly opened fire on a Dodge Durango with four teenagers inside after complaining of their loud music and saying he saw a gun and thus a threat. Jordan had been inside. Authorities never found a gun in the vehicle, the Florida Times-Union reported.

And, may I add…:

Dunn’s trial is set for next year.

So Mr. Dunn hasn’t even been tried yet?

We do not know the facts of the case that NPR hasn’t deigned to report…

…well, yes. We do.  We’ve looked at this case in the past.  Dunn would seem to have done just about everything possible wrong for a “self-defense” case.  Is he claiming “stand your ground?”  Sure.

And if he’s found guilty – as I’d imagine he will be – of some degree of homicide or another?  It’s irrelevant to “Stand your Ground”, because every other factor of the shooting that would lead to a self-defense claim would seem to have been wrong.

The fact that he claims “Stand your Ground” in a shooting that is otherwise wrong in every legal particular is not a reflection on the Stand Your Ground law.

Not that NPR will tell you that.

Watching The Astroturf Grow: Money Changes Everything

In the past week or so, the news got out that “ProtectMN” – the astroturf group almost entirely funded by Joyce Foundation – is getting some big-name help.

Richard Carlbom, the PR whiz behind the “Vote No” movement re the Marriage Amendment, has started his own consulting operation. 

And as all consulting operations do in every industry, Carlbom and his consultancy are going where the money is. 

Michael Bloomberg is going to spend a metric ton of money on attacking the Second Amendment.  And the Joyce Foundation is picking up the pace in its campaign to fund grassroots astroturf anti-gun groups, buy friendly media and media coverage, and gin up junk-academia to attack gun violence gun ownership.

And Carlbom is bellying up to the fiscal bar; he’ll be working with “ProtectMN”, Rep. Heather Martens’ astroturf gun-grabber group – a relationship made possible by the Joyce Foundation’s grant, reportedly, of $100,000 to “ProtectMN” (via an intermediary cut-out group). 

This is on top of Joyce’s purchase of $50,000 worth of the MinnPost’s “Journalism” on the subject (to say nothing of their sponsorship of Minnesota Public Radio coverage of the issue), and sponsorship of a network of other liberal “community organizer” groups like “Take Action MN”, who share resources with the gun-grabbers. 

Nobody knows if Carlbom has any actual passion for the gun issue.  He could well be just an ideological Hessian.  But if so, he’s a Hessian that “ProtectMN” desperately needs; Heather Martens may be the most inept community organizer in Minnesota political history.  It’s bad enough (for the orcs) that every single substantive thing Martens have ever said is a lie; it’s worse (for them) that pretty much everyone with a right to an opinion knows it.  So Carlbom getting into the issue may or may not be a game-changer – but it’s a line-up change that the orcs have needed to make for over a decade. 

Here’s The Important Part:  Liberals with deep pockets will always fund gun-grabber groups.  They’ll try to put different shades of lipstick on the pig that is suppressing our human right to self defense; they’ll change their spokespeople and their tactics, trying to create something – popular support for gun-grabbing – from nothing. 

There are very few conservatives with deep pockets supporting our human right to self-defense.  And much as the Good Guys would welcome their involvement (and money), it’s not what the issue will turn on.

But with the addition of Carlbom, the gun-grabbers now have several people working full-time to try to sway not just legislators, but your neighbors. 

Against that, the good guys have a bunch of plucky volunteers. 

If every single Minnesotan with a carry permit, all 160,000 of them, would donate $1 a year to the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance – the group that organized the entire grass-roots “Shall Issue” movement in Minnesota – the group could not only fund itself, but have at least one, probably two people working the issue full-time.  Lobbying, building infrastructure, investigating the orc groups, and above all making sure the grass roots – you and me, the Real Americans – can focus our efforts as effectively as possible.

Working together as volunteers, we Real Americans are more than a match for Michael Bloomberg, Representatives Martens and Hausman and Paymar, Senator Latz, Jane Kay and all the rest of the orcs. 

With the aid of a couple of people working the issue for a living?

We could stomp them flat and keep them flat. 

A buck a permit a year. 

We gotta make this happen.

Watching The AstroTurf Grow: “The New Dialog – We Talk, You Shut Up”

This past Friday, I talked with Susie Jones, a reporter from WCCO Radio, about the Gun Grab Summit in North Minneapolis. 

Now, I’m stuck in a bit of a conundrum, myself.  On the one hand, I do seek a civil, grown-up dialog.  As a gun owner, I have a vested interest in making sure my “tribe” – the law-abiding gun owner – acts in a way that credits the responsibility that God gave us and that our Founding Fathers recognized in the Constitution (a responsibility that the record shows we’re really, really good at meeting). 

I also have kids.  And a granddaughter.  Violence is an awful thing.  Protecting against violence is one of the reasons I would be a gun owner, hypothetically.

So curbing violence – with guns, knives, axes, fists, cars, sex organs and every other kind – is Job 1 for me, and for every law-abding gun owner I know. 

On the other hand?  It’s hard to stay adult and civil when dealing with “ProtectMN”, the Joyce-Foundation supported astroturf group that has been campaigning against guns – as opposed to violence – under several names for a couple decades now. 

Part of it is that the group – its’ leader, Representative Heather Martens (DFL HD 67A), speaking as a leader and as an individual – has never, ever uttered a solitary substantive word of truth on the gun issue.  Ever.  Seriously – you can tell Ms. Martens is lying when you see her lips move.  She is the most disingenuous person anywhere in Minnesota public life. 

Yes, worse than Carrie Lucking. 

We are constantly reminded that we need to have a “Dialog” about gun violence. 

And “Dialog” requires honesty.  So I’m going to be honest. 

Monologue And Backstory:  The key to “Dialog” is, of course, discussion between two divergent-to-dissenting points of view.  Otherwise, all you have is a monologue. 

Now, in his conversation with WCCO’s Jones on Friday, “ProtectMN”s Leroy Duncan flatly denied that anyone was told not to show up at the event. 

But at least one executive from the Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance responded to ProtectMN’s invitation to Friday’s event; I reprinted Heather Martens’ response to that GOCRA offical here the other day

Now, this is what ProtectMN put up on their Facebook page the other day.  Read it and tell me…:

“It’s time to stop letting our critical national debates be handled by lunatics, and by corporate lobbyists. It’s time for us to take up the mantle of civics and citizenship again, beyond our narrow self-interest.

We need to have a real discussion about the civic duty of gun ownership sooner, rather than later. It’s time for the grownups to start talking, and more importantly, to take action.”

The MN Gun Violence Summit will consist of “grown-ups” talking about how to make our communities safer and reframe the debate about gun policy.

…if all of that Alinskyite framing (“lunatics”, “grown-ups”) sounds like someone looking for a dialog? 

Class Warfare:  Jones noted in her conversation with me that some of the people at the “summit” had complained that the issue was a matter of the plucky, put-upon inner city versus the smug, complacent suburbs – and that shooters just don’t understand life in the inner city.

I refuted them thusly; me.  I live in the Midway.  I’ve had a drive-by shooting in front of my house.  I had a break-in when I was in my house, once upon a time; the sound of my own firearm ended the incident.  Senseless violence?  A four-year-old girl was murdered half a mile from my house, right about the time I had two kids in her age bracket. 

Gun violence affects my city.  My quality of life.  My property value.  Just as much as it does yours, and more than it does those of any of the leadership of “ProtectMN” and “Moms Want Action”. 

And – this is the important part -not a single proposal they’re making, or have ever made, would affect gun violence in the least.

So, Mr. Duncan, please spare us the BS and never, ever play that crap with me. 

And the fact is, many shooters live in the suburbs because decades of DFL mismanagement have left the cities much more dangerous than the subs, the exurbs or Greater Minnesota. 

Indeed, given that Minneapolis and Saint Paul have the lowest incidence of civilian gun ownership in the State and the highest crime rates, perhaps it’s time we considered whether owning guns is a better deterrent to violence than banning them. 

The Potemkin Mission:  But “ProtectMN” isn’t about curbing violence.  Not even a little bit.

Proof:  In the legislative session just passed, most of the Legislature got behind a bill, HF1325, sponsored by Rep. Hilstrom (DFL, some godforsaken Western suburb). The bill would have added mandatory penalties for using a gun to commit a crime, and improved the state’s reporting to the national background check database (a ball the DFL has been dropping for over a decade now)…

…y’know – things that have a record in curbing violence

That’s the mission – right?

Not for “ProtectMN”.  They – Martens and the Metrocrat DFLers who controlled the Legislature – fought like hell against the bill that would address violence with measures that have actually worked around the country, claiming it was “The NRA’s Bill” (which was written by a rep with an “F” rating from the NRA, but whatever).  Instead, they fought for useless fripperies like magazine size restrictions, and yapping about cosmetic features of different guns – things that don’t and have never had the faintest impact on violence at the very most.




So I ask you – who is actually “dealing with violence”?  And who is acting out a fetish over metal objects?

The Takeaways From The “Summit”:  I’d like to address this to my brothers and sisters, my fellow human beings in places like North Minneapolis and the lower East Side. 

There is a “dialog” to be had about gun violence.  And we, your fellow Americans and Minnesotans of the Second Amendment community, are more than ready to have exactly that.  We, like you, want to make your streets, neighborhoods and homes safer – because they’re our streets, neighborhoods and homes, too.

“ProtectMN” doesn’t care about “violence”.  They froth and fume about guys in Lakeville with AR15s – and you know as well as I do (and Heather Martens does not) that they and their guns aren’t the problem. 

It’s the criminals.  The people who couldn’t pass a background check when they were 18, and sure as hell can’t pass one now.

And let the record show that Protect MN fought against the legislation that would attack them, in favor of attacking the law-abiding, in the past session.

And starting in January, they’re going to ramp up that attack. 

More later.

Watching The Astroturf Grow: BTW

In the previous piece about tomorrow’s “Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities summit “, I said “You’re invited”, sort of.

It’s not actually true.  A number of members of the Twin Cities’ human rights community responded to the invitation on Facebook – because the meeting invitation noted that “We all have to step up”, and nobody, but nobody, wants to curb gun violence more than the law-abiding, responsible gun owner [1], and so a number of Second Amendment human rights activists did step up, and RSVPed to the invite. 

And some of them have been getting responses:

“Dear [Redacted]

I am writing to inform y ou that the meeting on Friday, for which we received your RSVP, is not open to you.  If you come, you will be asked to leave.



Presumably that’s Heather Martens, “Executive Director” and sole member of “Protect Minnesota’. 

So apparently when they say everyone needs to “step up” to prevent “gun violence”, they only mean “people who want to ban guns in the hands of the law-abiding citizen”. 

I wonder if theMinnPost,or Minnesota Public Radio, both of whom are sponsored by Joyce Foundation, the group of liberals with deep pockets who are “ProtectMN’s” only real source of money, will note that in what will no doubt be their embarassingly effusive coverage of the “event?”

[1] As evidenced by the fact that it’s us law-abiding, responsible gun owners that actually point out that the bulk of the gun carnage is being carried out by criminals, and most of the innocent victims are black children in places like Chicago.  The Twin Cities gun-grabber movement, being almost exclusively upper-middle-class white liberals (and, in terms of positions of power, white as the driven snow), seems only to concern itself with the deaths of children who look like their parents are NPR executives.  I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.

Watching The Astroturf Grow

The Twin Cities’ assembly of gun grabbers is having a meeting tomorrow.  And you’re invited!

Sort of.  More on that in a bit.

Anyway – if you’re out and about tomorrow (Friday) morning (and it always seems these anti-gunners are unemployed, work for non-profits or retired, and have ample weekdaytime to devote to attacking other peoples’ civil rights), it might be fun to drop by.

Here’s the invite, and the agenda, more or less:


Dear ***********,

It’s happened again. In Nevada, a 13-year-old brought a semiautomatic handgun to school, killed a teacher and wounded two students, and then killed himself.

This can’t keep happening — and it won’t stop on its own. We all have to step up.

On Friday, Oct. 25, Protect Minnesota is hosting a Gun Violence Prevention and Safe Communities summit for all who want to create safe, peaceful communities free of gun violence. Can you be there? Click here to RSVP**

Where: Shiloh Temple International Ministries, 1201 W. Broadway, Minneapolis

When: Friday, Oct. 25 from 10 am – 3:45 p.m., with lunch provided.

Find out what’s next in this important work and what your role can be. Sessions include:

— Changing the narrative around gun violence prevention

— Developing effective media strategy

— A deep dive on gun policy in Minnesota

— Grassroots lobbying

— Creating change with personal stories

Together, we can change the conversation around gun violence at this critical time in the history of gun violence prevention. Click here to RSVP.

Thank you for all you do,
Heather Martens
Executive Director
Protect Minnesota

If you happen to show up?  Excellent.  If this is like most “Protect MN” meetings, there’ll be several Real Americans (defined as “people who support all ten amendments of the Bill of Rights) for every orc.

If you happen to show up and get video of someone telling a real howler?  Send me the vid or the YouTube link.  If it’s good, I’ll buy you the beverage of your choice the next time we get together.  Heck, even a great quote.  Send it on in.

By the way – to show you what a potemkin front “ProtectMN” is?  They didn’t even send out the email with the invite by themselves.  It was sent by the Brady Factory – which, like the MinnPost, MPR News and ProtectMN itself, is sponsored by the Joyce Foundation.

More on their agenda tomorrow.

And if you’re planning to attend, let me know.  Off-line, ideally.  I’ll explain that later.

Baghdad Heather

It’s been my contention for quite some time that Heather Martens – “Executive Director” and likely sole steady member of “Protect Minnesota”, and unelected Representative from House District 66A – has never, not once in her entire career as an anti-civil-rights pundit, made a single original statement that was substantially true.

Martens (center) adjusting the leashes on Jane Kay of “Moms Demand Action” (left) and Rep. Paymar (even farther left, but to the right of the picture) last week.

Martens’ weekend press release about last week’s legislative actions didn’t just continue the pattern: it was an epic howler that deserves to be sent to every state legislator, with a goal of getting Martens laughed out of the Capitol by everyone that cares about the truth:

NRA Lobbyists Fail — Background Checks Move to House Floor

Yesterday, the Minnesota Public Safety Finance and Policy Committee passed H.F. 285, a bill that would ensure background checks for all pistol and assault weapon purchases at gun shows. The bill passed 10-8 and will head to the House floor. Despite only covering gun shows, Rep. Paymar, the chair of the committee, has vowed that H.F. 285 will ensure that universal background checks are debated on the House floor. Click here to read the whole story.

How many ways is this story wrong?

What “NRA Lobbyists” “failed”?:  While the NRA has sent a rep to put in an appearance at one hearing, all of the heavy lifting against the DFL’s gun grab bills was carried by the MInnesota Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance – which, unlike “Protect Minnesota”, is an actual grass roots organization with thousands of actual members, hundreds of whom came out to support civil rights over this past month while “Protect MN” managed, on a good day, maybe a dozen.  Martens is lying.

With More “Failures” Like This…:  Martens’ posting is an attempt to put lipstick on a pig.  Gun-show background checks – which are useless in preventing crime, would have saved not a single life at Newtown or Virginia Tech, and are only a burden to the law-abiding citizen – are the very last of the measures with which the extremist DFL metrocrats marched into battle last month.  The Metrocrats and Martens have been decisively rebuked by bipartisan majorities on…:

  • Ugly Guns Untouched: Banning “Assault Weapons” – which proved useless in preventing crime from 1995-2005.
  • Citizens Not Hamstrung In Face Of Violent Criminals: Restricting magazine sizes – again, useless in preventing crime of any type, much less mass killings.
  • The Law-Abiding Citizen Prevailed: Making Minnesota’s carry permit laws more niggling and onerous – from the effort to run applications past unelected police chiefs rather than elected sheriffs, to eliminating recourse for unjust denials, the DFL tried to make law-abiding carry permittees – among the safest constituencies in all of Minnesota, with a violent crime rate a couple of orders of magnitude below the general public (including metro DFL activists)
  • Success Has Many Fathers: Failure Is An Orphan: Most importantly;  a bipartisan majority of the entire House, including many DFLers, signed on to a bill specifically targeted as a rebuke to “Protect Minnesota” and the extreme Metrocrat left.  Half of the House, over 100 total members from both parties, co-authored the Hilstrom bill; Paymar’s bill had eight.

And all of this with a DFL legislature that is fundamentally disposed to support Martens and her organization’s agenda.

Viewed against that context – which, naturally, neither Martens nor her sycophants in the regional media will never provide – the conclusion is inescapable; “Protect Minnesota’s” 2013 agenda been a complete failure.

But Martens has successfully defended her title as least truthful lobbyist on Capitol Hill.  So at least there’s that.


The “Meh” Gun Bill

I went to the Capitol last night for the House Public Safety Finance Committee hearings on Michael Paymar’s “HF 237”, better known as “The Bad Gun Bill”, a bill rife with nannystate abuse-fodder.

The rest of the story?  It’s got a lot of photos, and I don’t want the entire blog to load like a dog, so the rest of the story is after the jump.

See you there!

Continue reading

A Small Victory

The “Million Mom March” – which, lately, draws fewer “moms” than pro-gun activists to its “events” – and “Citizens for a “Safer” Supine Minnesota, famous for never having once published a single fact in any of its press releases, and whose leader (and, let’s be honest, only member) Heather Martens has given this blog ten years of too-easy material, have had to “merge” (hahahahaha).  They are “Protect Minnesota“, now.

Rumor has it that they had to change the names in large part because their old names have become so utterly synonymous with dishonesty and providing false information.

This blog is happy and proud to have contributed to that.  And I dedicate its next ten years to extinguishing the group completely, preferably by humiliating them into an inescapable political shame spiral.

Although a little bird at the capitol tells me Heather Martens may be doing that herself; she reportedly approached a prominent Republican lawmaker with a model bill that was an attempt at a compromise on “Stand Your Ground”; Ms Martens claimed it had been approved by the NRA.

The lawmaker called the NRA.  They’d never heard of it, and did not approve.  Martens had lied, not that this surprises anyone who’s read this blog over the past ten years; if Heather Martens drops a hammer and claims it will hit the floor, don’t buy it until you hear the thump.

Just saying – it’s hard to humiliate an organization like “”Citizens for a “Safer” Supine Minnesota”…er, “Protect” Minnesota, when they do it so well themselves.

Chanting Points Memo: With “Experts” Like This, Who Needs Enemas?

Long before the Trayvon Martin shooting started dominating the headlines, gun law reform was in the news in Minnesota, and had already spawned a smaller, more “Barney-Fife”-y version of the disinformation mill that has been sweeping the nation these past few weeks.

I and the rest of the Minnesota Second Amendment community have been playing whack-a-mole for months now, as one dishonest public official or in-the-bag cop or another misinformed/disinforming editorial board excrescence essentially spreads the same vacuous chanting points.

Usually, whether the issue passes (like concealed carry) or not, it dies down between the final passages/vetos and the next session – because none of the people who write for the other side really know much about the issue other than what they’re told.

The Martin shooting has extended the disinformation season even here in Minnesota, though, as the DFL and media try to find a wedge issue to get their base frothed up and to try to peel off the uninformed, not-very-curious ones part of the swing set – the ones voted for Mark Dayton in 2010.

Which brings us to a piece from over the weekend at the MinnPost, by one Thomas Weyandt, a former St. Paul City Attorney’s-office prosecutor who’s  joined the cottage industry of instant pundits with opinions on gun laws:

With the national uproar over the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, it’s a good time to take another look at the expanded Castle Doctrine bill that almost became law in Minnesota. Ours would have been even worse than Florida’s “Shoot First” law.

It’s an inflammatory statement.  Let’s see if he packs the factual gear to follow it up:

But first, my qualifications before I explain why. I was an assistant city attorney for St. Paul for 34 years. In about 1996, I became interested in the lack of knowledge of gun laws by police, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. I did a study of the results of 676 cases my office had prosecuted and then wrote a manual on how to do it correctly.

His auto-bio speaks of 30-odd years in workmen’s compensation law for the City of Saint Paul – but a “special interest in gun crimes”, leading to a book on the subject, “Investigating and Charging Weapons and Gun Cases“.  Book?  Manual?

Whichever.  He’s setting himself up as an expert..

I have taught police, prosecutors and defense attorneys at a number of classes. I also was involved in the prosecution of hundreds of gun crimes during the last 10 years of my work with the city. Since retiring, I have been a consultant to a group that deals with gun laws at the Legislature.

Odd that he doesn’t favor the reader with the name of the “group” with which he “consults”.  I’m tempted to wonder if it’s “Protect Minnesota”, whose leader, Heather Martens, may be among the most discredited lobbyists on the hill – because she so habitually lies.  If so, that might be why Weyandt doesn’t give us the name of the group.  I’ll check up on that.

(UPDATE:  It’s “Protect Minnesota“, all right – check down in the “2009 Background Check Bill” section.  They’re hawking his “book”, in CD form.  Weyandt felt the need to buttress his credibility by proclaiming himself a “consultant” on the issue, but not to tell you he “consulted” with a group that’s been fighting a bit of an “Aboslutely No Credibility” issue for the past decade or two).

He also doesn’t say how he, a work-comp attorney, was “involved” in that prosecution.

There are two things to keep in mind as we proceed through Weyandt’s article:

  1. To A Lawyer, It’s As Much About The Information The Jury Doesn’t Get As What They Do:  A good trial lawyer never asks a witness a question whose answer he doesn’t know in advance.  They can also spend as much time arguing about the instructions the jury get about the law relating to the case as they do about the case itself – to make sure the jury doesn’t get the information that doesn’t help their case.  In this case, the “jury” is “the MinnPost’s audience”, and he’s already left out one key bit of information, the “group” with which he “consults”.  What else has he left out?  Oh, we’ll get to that.
  2. There Isn’t Just One Law:  Law really exists at three levels in this country; the Constitution puts down the basics.  “Statutory” laws passed by Congress, legislatures, county commissions and city councils fill in the implementation details.  And then “case law” – the stuff that makes lawyers rich – covers all the nuances that law develops over time and application to real-world situations.   We’ll come back to this.  Oh, yes, we will.

Back to Weyandt, the “expert” on gun law (and workmen’s comp!): he’s gotten his first key fact wrong.

So what’s wrong with Minnesota’s proposed Castle Doctrine bill?

Most important is the fact that there is no duty to retreat in a person’s home if someone enters illegally. That has been the major factor expressed by many in support of the proposal — “Come into my house and you’re toast.”

Pretty scary, huh?

Sounds like a pretty damning indictment of “Stand Your Ground”, doesn’t it?  The idea that Minnesotans would lose the “Duty to Retreat”, while in their homes?

Except that it seems to have escaped the “expert” Mr. Weyandt, Esq. that Minnesotans have not had a duty to retreat when in their homes – between the front and back doors – for almost thirteen years. .

It’s not in the state statute.  It’s in case law:

Case: State v. Carothers
Issue: Defense of dwelling, duty to retreat
Court: Minnesota Supreme Court
Cite: C8-98-86
Date: June 17, 1999
Link: http://www.lawlibrary.state.mn.us/archive/supct/9906/c89886.htm
Decision: A duty to retreat does not attach to defense
of dwelling claims.

So why does Weyandt, the “expert”, not relate this fact?

There are really two reasons this could happen:

  • He doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and he’s letting it show.
  • He’s trying to shape a reality in his audience’s mind’s eye that furthers his goal, which isn’t the same as telling the truth.  LIke a prosecutor trying to make sure his “Jury” – the MinnPost audience – hears only the bits of information that he wants them to see, and none of the inconvenient facts that lead them away from his desired conclusion, he’s counting on his audience’s ignorance to make his case for him.

He’s not done.  Not by a long shot:

The proposal — sponsored by Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, and Sen. Gretchen Hoffman, R-Vergas — would have allowed for the use of deadly force without a duty to retreat in a great many places other than a person’s home.

Why doesn’t Weyandt specify what the “Great Many” are?

Either because he’s incompetent, or he doesn’t want to “pollute” the argument with the fact that  “the person’s property, outbuildings, vehicle or business” just aren’t and will never be a “great many” places; it’s small list indeed.

Which reason – incompetence, or a considered desire to mislead the public about the law – do you think Weyandt is exhibiting?

It also allowed a person to use deadly force if they reasonably feared harm. The proposal contained a provision that creates a presumption that the fear is reasonable. Current law requires the use of the reasonable-man standard and leaves the question up to the jury.

This paragraph is a dog’s breakfast of nonsense.

There’s an omission – from incompetence or via deception, again, and we have no idea – that presumes the fear of death or great bodily harm is reasonable “in the case of a person entering a dwelling or occupied vehicle by stealth or force”.  That’s a rather more limited set of circumstances than Mr. Weyandt seems to want you to think, now, isn’t it?

Beyond that, and speaking to the lack of integrity in Mr. Weyandt’s piece?  The law today allows a person to claim a homicide is justifiable if they “reasonably” fear death or great bodily harm.  Here’s the law, as it is today.  See the word?  It’s right there!

The difference – the only difference – is that under the circumstances covered in the proposal, in the home or vehicle or property or business, which is being entered by force or stealth, the county prosecutor will have to prove that the fear of death or harm was unreasonable, rather than the shooter having to prove it (at their own expense, with a lengthy jail term hanging over their head should they not prove themselves innocent after an admission of “guilt with an explanation”).

That’s it!

Whether someone’s fear is reasonable is something a jury can understand.

And there’s the point of view of the professional attorney speaking.

A jury – sitting in a nice, warm, well-lit room, protected by sheriff’s deputies, with coffee breaks and donuts and bathroom time, can certainly determine that.  But the jury also has to operate on information shaped by the way two lawyers – one of them a county prosector, working the case full time on the taxpayers dime, sitting in another nice, warm, safe, well-lit office, without, say, rapists beating down his door.  He’ll have the luxury of time to try to persuade the jury, not that a woman’s fear of death or disfigurement wasn’t legitimate, but that she didn’t try hard enough to retreat from that threat to satisfy his picayune reading of the law.  And if her attorney, charging her $250, can’t convince the county’s full-time attorney that that undefined “duty to retreat” was met, then she’s going to jail, even with her legitimate fear of death.

And that is the status quo that Weyandt – and Jim Backstrom, and at the end of the day Mark Dayton – are defending; the idea that a law-abiding citizen’s freedom hangs on a technicality to be decided by a bunch of lawyers.

Like Mr. Weyandt.

Cornish’s bill wasn’t a “shoot first” law.  It was a “prosecutors have to earn their pay, or at least playing rhetorically-onanistic and politically-motivated games with peoples’ lives, when the shooting is so obviously law-abiding that even a lawyer other than Mr. Weyandt could see it”.

Lamentably, that doesn’t roll off the tongue quiet as fast.

Proving beyond a reasonable doubt that it was not reasonable, as the proposed law would have required, would seem to be nearly impossible.

This is pure fantasy.

Walk through this list of cases – mostly fictional, all plausible.  They’ll show the “near impossibility” of a reasonably intelligent cop and prosecutor telling the difference between legitimate self-defense and murder, with or without the Cornish proposal.

Will some cases be more complicated than my examples?  Sure; the Martin case is one of them (at least in terms of information available to the public. There may be cases – few, indeed – where the circumstances force prosecutors to work to get their precious conviction.

There might be a reason for that; it just might be that the shooting was perfectly legitimate.

So far, I’m guessing “reading Weyandt’s book” would be a bigger handicap to prosecutors than Cornish’s proposal.

The Cornish/Hoffman proposal allowed the use of deadly force if someone is threatened with substantial bodily harm (SBH). The law defines that as including a temporary disfigurement. That means a punch to the face and a black eye would allow the use of deadly force.

This is unvarnished bullshit, and Minnesota law says so.

Substantial bodily harm is “bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ․

Go have a look for yourself.  It’s not exactly beach reading – but it’ll show you that under Minnesota law, Weyandt is talking nonsense.   A moderately-thorough scour through the cases didn’t find a single black eye among ’em.

Let me know how you do.

There are a couple of other especially troubling provisions:

• The expanded Castle Doctrine proposal would have granted total immunity from criminal prosecution.

They’re granted “total” immunity provided that the shooting was fully legal!  Read the law yourself (jump down to line 6.16)

• The proposal did not allow the arrest of the suspect until police have fully considered any claim of self-defense.

I’ve often wondered about people who object to this provision, which basically says “if the shooting was of someone who was entering a house/vehicle/property by force, and there was reasonable fear of death or substantial harm, and the force was reasonable, and every other part of the law was upheld, feel free not to arrest the shooter”.  That’s it.

Mr Weyandt’s desire to put people in handcuffs even if they are so obviously within the law that it’s transparently obvious to the cops borders on the unseemly.

So, if the police can’t arrest a suspect and bring him or her in for questioning, they have very little to no ability to determine if the person was acting in self-defense or not.  If the police can’t develop evidence that the claim of self-defense is false, there can be no prosecution.

Wait – is Mr Weyandt saying that, even in cases where the facts aren’t relatively obvious, that the best or only source of information is an interrogation after arrest?

If there is a prosecution, the proposal would presume the belief that the fear of harm was reasonable…

if the circumstances of the shooting were those covered in the law!  If the shooter reasonably feared death or sufficient harm, and were on their property/in their car or business, and if the “victim” was entering one of those places via force or stealth to commit a crime!

It’s just not that difficult – provided the cops and prosecutors are modestly competent.

Despite all my criticisms, I am not among those who think such a law would create an increased danger to police. Nor do I believe that it would result in shootings all over the place.

What I do know, though, is that this proposal virtually would have negated the ability to prosecute anyone who applies deadly force under virtually any circumstance.

Provided they were utterly incompetent.

And on, and on, and on.

The entire piece relies on two things, really:

  • Studiously misstating the context and effects of Cornish’s proposal
  • Ignoring Minnesota case law.

As such, it stands alongside the rest of of the long-debunked “Protect Minnesota” propaganda that this blog has been shredding for a decade.

Here’s a special invitation to my lawyer friends to pick apart Mr. Weyandt’s argument.  Use all the comment space you want.  Hell, email me; I’ll print it as a post.

Because humiliating this brand of partisan disinformation from the front page of the Minnesota Media would be a wondrous public service.

Why Should A Right Not Be A Right?

The course of the Minnesota Monitor has been an interesting one.

The MNMon is, and has always been, a bald-faced propaganda site, funded by “liberals with deep pockets” – after a year of official denials and stalling huffing and puffing, Eric Black admitted that there was some George Soros money in the mix.

When they started under original editor Robin “Rew” Marty, the Mon had a recent-college-grad-ish earnestness about it; it was a genial, sloppy production prone to dumb mistakes, but they seemed at least to mean well and to try, in most cases, to do a credible job. Paul Schmelzer, former “Media” reporter and one of the Mon’s few genuinely good writer/reporters, took over as editor (seemingly briefly), around the time Eric Black jumped from the Strib and classed up the joint for a bit; for a few months, the Monitor’s material was a source for discussion rather than derision.

And then, about the time Black bailed to go to the MNPost, they hired former City Pages editor and Daily Mold blogger Steve Perry. I and a fair chunk of the the local RealAmericansphere has been scratching our heads watching the hilarity ever since. Perry seems to have brought over a bunch of the City Pages less stellar exiles, and changed the site’s focus from semi-original reporting to screechy polemics seemingly copied word for word from pressure-group press releases and topped off with a dollop of shrill, giggly, usually ignorant commentary.

In other words – Soros et al have finally hired a genuine, respected journalist to run the Monitor – and he’s basically turned it into a rantblog.
If it were a good blog-with-a-different-name-and-lots-of-money, there’s at least a chance someone could have written something better than this comically-bad piece by Heather Maartens “Anna Pratt” on the Heller case.

The scare strikeout is (like, let’s face it, all scare strikeouts) very much on purpose; there is nothing about this piece (like the Monitor’s “coverage” of Tony Cornish’s “Stand Your Ground” bill), that doesn’t look like it wasn’t directly cribbed from a Citizens for a Supine “Safer” Minnesota press release.

When is a right right and when is a right… wrong? In this case, when does one’s “right to bear arms” also trespass on the rights of others?

This could only be written by someone who has not the faintest clue about this nation’s moral, intellectual, political or social history. It’s a symptom of this nation’s catastrophic ignorance about the humanities of our own history.
The answer is “Rights don’t trample on other peoples’ rights”. Your right – or Anna Pratt’s right – to free speech doesn’t trample mine. I have no right not to be offended or nauseated by someone else’s speech – but I do have the right to respond with better speech. Not that it takes much.

The law-abiding, responsible exercise of your God-given rights, by the very nature of “Rights” (as opposed to “privileges” and “entitlements”) can not “trample” anyone else’s rights.

Rights have responsibilities and limitations; we have free speech, but we may not yell “I’m lighting my farts” in a crowded theater; we may worship freely, but if your poisonous snake kills someone’s child, you might have some ‘splaining to do. Abusing ones’ right to keep and bear arms has serious consequences; ironically, it’s the Second Amendment movement that’s moved to make those consequences more sure and severe, while the anti-gun left has steadily sapped them.

But I digress.

I’m talking about the Supreme Court controversy regarding the constitutionality of the handgun law in Washington, D.C., where nary a gun is allowed, excepting those of police officers.On Tuesday, March 18, arguments for and against Washington D.C.’s handgun ban were presented in a federal appeals court.

Ms. Pratt? That “Federal Appeals Court” is called the “Supreme Court of the United States”.

I never, ever thought I’d say this, but…go ask Jeff Fecke how to read and fact-check your stuff? OK?

This comes after a lower court’s 2-1 vote last year took issue with the ban.

On the other hand, the “lower court” was a US Circuit Court of Appeals, which isn’t really all that “lower” by court standards.

Now, to be fair, I’m not sure if Anna Pratt (like Dan Haugen and Andy Birkey before her) is completely oblivious to the actual law and history involved, or if she’s just cribbing off a press release from Citizens for a Supine “Safer” Minnesota (whose ignorance of law and history is a matter of documented record) – but while the flubs above might be a result of bad reporting and fact-checking, the below is just plain made up from whole cloth.

That would reverse nearly 70 years of legal precedent.

And there’s the tell; this “article” is cribbed from CS“S”M.

Teaching moment, Anna: there is not 70 years of legal precedent. There is one case, US V. Miller, from 1939, which is open to widely-varying interpretations, which has only been mentioned in five subsequent cases, and which is notable in that neither the defendants nor their lawyers were actually able to show up at the SCOTUS hearing. To claim Miller is a clear precedent is the sort of wishful thinking that most of us shy away from, and that Heather Martens takes as her stock in trade.

The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which hasn’t gotten such play since 1791, states, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”Heather Martens, president of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota (CSM), which lobbies for a public-health approach to prevent gun deaths and injuries, asserted in an email that a decision favoring the right to carry guns could “set off a deluge of legal actions across the country challenging every gun regulation there is, no matter how reasonable.”

Let’s take Heather Martens at her word – which, given that virtually everything she’s ever said on the subject has been a lie, is a bit of a gift.

So what?

The laws – as Pratt herself notes further down in the crib article – are doing no good anyway! Why not challenge them?

CSM is part of the Protect Minnesota campaign, a coalition of gun owners and non-gun owners alike, who are working to ensure background checks for gun purchases and safe gun use.

The “Protect Minnesota campaign” – like every anti-gun group in Minnesota, includign the “Million Mom March”, which might muster five or six “moms” for a protest these days – is an astroturf, checkbook advocacy group, and any Potemkin “gun owners” that are part of it are sock puppets, pets kept on the leash by “groups” like this.

Across the state, gun deaths and injuries are on the rise, according to campaign information.

Well, that sounds bad, doesn’t it?

Of course, it’s utterly meaningless; the deaths and injuries are being caused by criminals. And the Constitution doesn’t protect criminal activity!

But the Constitution would seem to be the least of Martens‘ Pratt’s concerns:

The Supreme Court debate recycles an old issue and as such, it is standing in the way of resolving firearm-related violence.

BAD Supreme Court! Get out of the way and quit interpreting the constitution!

Attention, Anna Pratt – “recycling old issues” is what the SCOTUS does!
I’m not sure who Anna Pratt is – but if Steve “Mister Furious” Perry’s goal is to turn the Minnesota Monitor into the dumbest rantblog in the state, she’s gonna be a great help!

CORRECTION: Foot pointed out that I, too, got a level of jurisprudence wrong. Fixed it. Suppose Anna Pratt will do the same?