Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Goldberg appears in today’s Star Tribune with a defense of the federal government’s efforts to get data on the searches made on the Google search engine for a week. Why? Well the government wants to submit data on “pornographic” searches to the Supreme Court (now with Strip Search Sammy on board!) in a case over the constitutionality of the Child Online Protection Act.
Jonah says What’s the big deal? Jonah thinks it is just because liberals don’t like the Dark Lord Cheney. Whether liberals like the Dark Lord or not is entirely beside the point. What the government is trying to do here is really no different than the warrantless eavesdrop dragnet set out by the NSA. It is trying to collect private information – where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy – for law enforcement purposes and without probable cause.
Apparently, the Justice Department is not asking for the names of the users associated with the searches – yet. But it isn’t much of a step to try to get the names of users. And you can be pretty certain, boys and girls, that the feds will try to use the data pointing to certain websites, for example, to make probable cause warrant requests of Google users. This skullduggery must be nipped in the bud.
Goldberg makes the sophomoric argument that NIH collects patient information from health care providers for epidemiological purposes, and this is no different. Spot begs to differ. To use Goldberg’s example of collection of data about prostate exams, Spot says that men are in little danger of prosecution for misdemeanor enlarged prostate. They may, however, be in some danger of a pornography prosecution by some crusading moralistic idiot prosecutor.
Goldberg concludes with this: Technology brings change and requires adaptation -- by the state and the individual alike. Erasing the probable cause requirement from the Fourth Amendment is one adaptation that Spotty is not willing to make.
Tags: Jonah Goldberg warrantless searches
There are really only four, count ‘em four, testimonial qualities. They are 1) perception, 2) recollection, 3) communication, and 4) prevarication, or lack of it. In real life, #1 and #4 are where things usually go off the tracks. You can evaluate everything a person says with these four tools. Let’s examine these qualities in action!
Perception means that the speaker is in a position to know what he is talking about. In court, that almost always means did the witness observe the thing testified about first hand; did he perceive it? As a very basic example, before a witness is permitted to testify whether the light was red or green when the car went through the intersection, the witness must first establish he was in a position to see the traffic light and tell what color it was. This is called foundation. Are you with Spotty so far?
Now, of course, outside the courtroom we all get lots of information that is not first hand. We call this journalism! No, not really. But journalists do rely for the most part on other sources for the information they publish to the public. In other words, they aren’t eyewitnesses to the things they report, in spite of the KSTP slogan.
Now, boys and girls, as you might expect, the potential for error goes up exponentially now. That is why journalists have rules about fact checking, being leery of a single source – or at least they used to be – et cetera. Being selective and careful about choosing sources is how a news outlet goes from being a news source to being a credible news source.
The reverse can also happen. Don’t believe it? Just walk up behind a good reporter and say Jayson Blair or Judy Miller and watch for the involuntary shudder or worse.
But Spotty, are the internets a good source? Only sometimes, grasshopper. Often, the internets are mere purveyors and repeaters of rumor and speculation. Sometimes though, a web article or blog will cite or link to a source, as in the American Prospect piece that Spotty referred to a couple of posts ago. Then the reader can make a judgment about the source, its diligence, competence, and its reliability.
Which brings us back to Pat Kessler’s Reality Check reporting that Democrats in Minnesota received “Abramoff-related monies.” Spot knew the moment the words left Kessler’s mouth that they were without foundation. None of Kessler’s sources, nor any of their sources, went back to a witness who said I know personally that Abramoff told the Indian tribes to send money to the Democrats, or I have a letter or email from Abramoff that says that.
Without a proper foundation, you are just making it up or relying on people who are.
Well, that’s enough for now. We’ll talk about the other three testimonial qualities in upcoming posts.
Tags: Pat Kessler Jack Abramoff
Monday, January 30, 2006
HOUSTON (AP) - A federal judge told a group of potential jurors that their job was not to seek vengeance against Enron Corp. founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling as jury selection began on Monday in the premier criminal trial to emerge from the biggest corporate scandal in recent years.
Spot has no quarrel with the judge's remarks. But remember, retribution - a little classier word that means essentially the same thing as vengeance - is often explicitly advanced by advocates of the death penalty. Why the difference?
Tags: death penalty Enron Kenny Boy Jeffrey Skilling
Sunday, January 29, 2006
As Sigmund Spot might say, Vy is zis a bad idea? Well laying aside, if you can, the fact that kidnappings –because that is what they are – are morally reprehensible, there is the old principle of international relations that What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Just like torture, when we engage in this conduct, we lose the standing to complain about it in the eyes of the international community.
Yes, but who needs the international community? Well, Spot knows that the world is full of perfidious Frenchman, but it is becoming pretty obvious that alienating everybody else on the planet was not a fruitful idea.
And think about this. How hard would it be to kidnap the Bush twins, or the wife or child of a prominent pro-war Senator or Congressman? Probably not very. Although for the benefit of the NSA, Spot must say that he has no idea how hard it would be, never thought about it, and Spotty discourages the idea muchly. He’s sorry he brought it up.
Oh, by the way, Spot would love for Katie or the Three Doofi to justify kidnap the relatives in print.
And in fact, the “Abramoff effect” was to cause a diminution in the amount that the tribes had previously contributed to Democrats. While the contribution to Republicans went way up after Abramoff got involved with the tribes. So says an analysis recently completed for the American Prospect by Dwight L. Morris and Associates, the latter being an outfit that analyzes campaign finance issues for media outlets.
So, Spot says to Mr. Kessler that he needs to correct his reporting.
Thanks to a thoughtful reader for the tip.
Tags: dean of Minnesota political reporters Jack Abramoff
Saturday, January 28, 2006
According to documents sprung by the ACLU, the US military in Iraq sometimes kidnaps the wives of suspected guerrillas as a way of pressuring them to turn in their husbands or of getting the husbands to turn themselves in. Informed Comment is one of the few places where Iraqi allegations to this effect, and street demonstrations over the issue, have been covered. The kidnapping of journalist Jill Carroll appears to be an attempt by guerrillas to free wives of key fighters, so as to reduce the likelihood they will be broken and inform on their husbands' whereabouts. The US claims to have only a handful of women in custody, and to have just released 5 of them. posted by Juan @ 1/28/2006 06:30:00 AM 2 comments
Well, when in Rome, do as the Romans do, Spotty always says! Sweet Jesus, even the Mafia keeps family out of it. What does it profit a man if he gains the world but loses his soul?
Update: Much more on this from The General.
Tags: Iraqi kidnappings
When I met [the young woman] this week in St. Paul, she was dressed in the full habit of a Roman Catholic nun.That's pretty unconventional for a nun, isn't it Katie? The part that is intriguing to Spotty (as a heretical non-Catholic) is the full part. Apparently, habits come in degrees like wrestling holds: half nelson, full nelson, etc. Or maybe it is like phases of the moon, with a full habit coming in between the waxing and waning gibbous habits. But Spot's attention wanders; sorry.
Okay, just one more. Does a half habit tuck into slacks or a skirt? Spotty, stop it!
Katie tells that the young nun is poised, articulate, and well-traveled. A flying nun, apparently. We also learn that she radiates a sky-is-the-limit look. Spot thought that the sky, in a metaphorical kind of way, was the object of most religious persons.
That's enough teasing for one post. The goal here is not to denigrate a young woman who has chosen a path that looks pretty hard from where Spot lazes in comfort. Rather it is to point out something about Katie the columnist.
Katie has written with glowing approval about Catholic seminary students, nuns, priests, Catholic college professors, Catholic college students and fraternities, and Catholic schools several times. It seems antic, frantic, and to Spot, a little pathetic.
Spot thinks he may need to call Sigmund Spot in for a consultation. Spot thinks that Katie has a huge chip on her shoulder. Katie, maybe it is not too late for you to get thee to a nunnery and atone.
Tags: Katherine Kersten
Friday, January 27, 2006
I am a party apparatchik
This morning I participated in a breakfast for some local bloggers with MN GOP chairman Ron Carey. I was invited along with some other MOB bloggers to talk about how the state party and bloggers can work together to promote our candidates.I appreciated the invitation because I am looking for ways in which I can get more involved in local politics. I don't know near as much about MN politics as some of the MOB blogs who follow state and local politics closely. I don't write a lot about MN politics because I couldn't add much that others aren't already doing.But, Mr. Carey and his energetic staff have some ideas on how to provide us with information that we can turn around and work with in our blogs, and present our issues in a way that can get our voters out to the polls.And of course, now I can go around saying "Party Officials" in a thick, Russian accent.-----MDE has a good recap of the meeting.Craig Westover was also in attendance, and comments here on the meeting.
posted by Jeff @ 4:31 PM
First, Spot wants to know what the MOB stands for; is it Misguided Old Buggers?
This is about as pure an acknowledgement as Spotty has seen that some local right wing bloggers just see themselves as tools of the Republican Party. It is interesting that both Michael Brodkorb of Minnesota Democrats Exposed, about whom Spot has written before, here and here, and Craig Westover were in attendance, too.
Craig Westover, a/k/a Captain Fishsticks, is of course the self-anointed big thinker of the local right wing. Spot can’t find the link at the moment, but Sticks said recently that bloggers were “cleaning the clocks” of the MSM. Clock cleaning is apparently an occupation for which no journalistic integrity is required.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
That is all. Carry on.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
The price we pay
Through a series of editorials, the Star Tribune started its caring, calm talk on immigration by alleging nastiness, scapegoating, political opportunism and divisiveness against those of us who think illegal immigration is an important issue that needs immediate attention.
Then it accused the governor of "intellectual incoherence" when he released his legislative package on immigration. Talk about getting off to a civil start.
On top of being uncivil, I believe the Star Tribune misled Minnesotans by implying that illegal immigrants do not benefit from public welfare programs.
Let's look at the facts from the Department of Human Services: The state of Minnesota paid approximately $17.3 million for illegal immigrants to receive public health care assistance in 2005. The federal government paid another $18 million for a total of $35 million in public health care funds for illegal immigrants in Minnesota alone.
Maybe the editorial writers and defenders of illegal immigration think this is chump change. To most of us, that is a lot of our money that could be spent on people living here legally.
REP. TOM EMMER, R-DELANO
To what list, Spotty? To the list of state nativists, that bunch of demagogues who want to marinate us all in their bitter brand of xenophobia. Spotty especially likes the line in Emmer’s letter that the Star Tribune editors are alleging nastiness, scapegoating, political opportunism and divisiveness. Why yes, Tom! That’s a pretty good list; you’ve obviously been paying attention. Your reading comprehension is excellent!
The list, of course, already includes Governor Pawlenty and Katie, both of whom never met a wedge issue they wouldn’t exploit.
Nativism, boys and girls, is a sociopathic fear of immigrants, and it has been with us in one form or another from the founding of the Republic. As the linked article will tell you, the first nativist sentiments were expressed in the Alien and Sedition Acts, easily the biggest stain on the presidency of John Adams. The lineage of nativists to which TWedge (Spot’s new name for the guv) and Katie belong also includes the Know Nothings, a virulent and violent bunch of anti-Catholics who trace their origins from the middle of the 19th Century. As a practicing Catholic, Spot would have thought Katie would be more aware of the history, and the danger, of nativism.
The Ku Klux Klan has a broad streak of nativist sentiment, as does other white supremacist movements. The Asians have also been on the receiving end of nativist activity, from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Japanese internment during the Second World War.
Boys and girls, this is a sordid and shameful part of US history. And Spotty says that TWedge, Katie, and Tom Emmer may differ in degree, but not in essential kind, from all of the nativists who came before them.
Tags: nativism xenophobia TWedge Katie
Monday, January 23, 2006
For those of you, as
If you have been paying attention, boys and girls, Spotty doesn’t have to connect the spots for you.
There is really nothing useful to say about
Tags: Katherine Kersten
Saturday, January 21, 2006
It was no surprise that the Jan. 19 Star Tribune editorial lauded the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. However, the logic behind the editorial and the decision itself may come back to haunt the pro-choice crowd.
It was no surprise that the Jan. 19 Star Tribune editorial lauded the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. However, the logic behind the editorial and the decision itself may come back to haunt the pro-choice crowd.
The 6-3 majority opinion was praised for standing up to what was characterized as a Bush administration attempt to, in the words of Justice Anthony Kennedy, "effect a radical shift of authority from the states to the federal government to define general standards of medical practice in every locality."
The editorial gratefully concludes that "citizens remain free to settle life's hard questions -- how to live and how to die -- for themselves." Well.
In a year, or five, or 10, I expect to see the same breathless editorial logic employed to laud the inevitable Supreme Court ruling effectively overruling Roe vs. Wade. Such a ruling will be the affirmation of some (likely red) state's law protecting unborn Americans.
Sometimes it seems as if we are reading radically different Constitutions. The Preamble that I read says the purpose of the document is "to promote the general welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."
So what is welfare? Isn't it health and happiness in a state of well-being? Death really doesn't seem to figure into the Constitution unless we torture the "Blessings of Liberty" into a right to have assistance in killing ourselves. Though I disagree with Oregon's law, at least I see the constitutional basis for deferring to states' rights in this decision.
The 200 poor souls who availed themselves of lethal prescriptions exercised what is, for now, their constitutional right. But that is nothing compared with the manufactured right to abortion.
The essence of Roe was the use of raw federal (judicial) power to find a constitutional right to exercise prenatal lethal violence. Roe overturned medical practice laws restricting abortion in the majority of the states and short-circuited the legislative process that was the legitimate forum for resolution.
Thirty-three years later, after the tragic and unnecessary deaths of tens of millions of America's "posterity," we are still hotly debating abortion. It is what the political theater of the Alito confirmation hearings was all about.
The debate over the Oregon law was cast as one over the right for local control of medical practice and standards. This raises an important question. Will the editors still support federal attempts to force training and participation in abortion on practitioners and hospitals? Will they support Rights of Conscience laws prohibiting discrimination for health care providers who oppose abortion? We will see.
Twenty-five years of medical practice has shown me the complex and deeply personal reasons that underlie support and demand for unrestricted abortion by many of my fellow citizens. I wish that we were not divided in this way. Thankfully, the moral tide is flowing in a life-affirming direction. Maybe the Death with Dignity Act will inadvertently give birth to the Life for All Act.
Steve Calvin is a Minneapolis physician.
Well, Doc, that was pretty passionate. Completely clueless, but passionate. Roe v. Wade and Gonzales v. Oregon have nothing to do with each other. They are Pat Robertson and Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. Come to think of it, these two are both religious fundamentalist nutjobs, so maybe the comparison isn’t so good. But Spot thinks his readers know what he means.
Spotty just hopes the doc’s brand of medicine is better than his brand of constitutional quackery. Spot has written before that the federal right of privacy, as announced in Griswold v. Connecticut, was found to exist in the sum of the first eight amendments to the Constitution, and made applicable to the states by the 14th Amendment. Griswold is the forerunner of Roe v. Wade as well as Lawrence v. Texas, the latter being the recent decision striking down the prohibition of same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults with the majority opinion written by the turncoat Justice Kennedy.
On the other hand, Gonzales v. Oregon was not even decided on a constitutional principle! That’s right, Doc, it was a thrill-a-minute, nail-biting administrative law case! Really, Doc, it was gripping. But it had zero to do with Roe v. Wade.
The issue in Gonzales was whether a rule issued by Gonzales’ predecessor, John (Ban the Boob) Ashcroft, could subject Oregon medical practitioners to deregistration to prescribe controlled substances and possible criminal prosecution for prescribing lethal dosages of drugs subject to the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
To make a long story extremely short, the Court said 6 – 3, in an opinion written by that darn Justice Kennedy again, NO. The majority said that the Congress had intended to regulate the distribution of potentially illicit drugs, not the practice of medicine, and therefore Ashcroft’s rule was beyond the scope of his authority under the CSA. The Court found that Ashcroft was not trying to stem the flow of illicit drugs, the purpose of the CSA. The Supreme Court did not even award points to Ashcroft for ingenuity or effort.
What is the constitutional underpinning of the CSA anyway? Well, it’s the ability of the Congress to regulate interstate commerce under the Commerce Clause. You know, the same toothless Commerce Clause that according to jurists like Scalia and Alito cannot support the federal prohibition of guns near schools or prohibit the private ownership of machine guns.
It’s funny though, Scalia didn’t even mention the Commerce Clause in his dissent. You would think Nino would have gone out of his way to rein in federal government abuse of a state’s legislative authority. He didn’t though, because it didn’t square with his own agenda. So, instead Nino pages frantically through a dictionary to find some support for the result he wants. Remember this, gentle readers, the next time that somebody points to Scalia as an example of judicial restraint.
So Doctor Steve, what have we learned today? We learned that the right of privacy supporting Roe v. Wade is a federal right belonging to all citizens of these United States. We learned that Gonzales v. Oregon was decided on an entirely different constitutional principle, or rather a lack of one, and that Nino can go both ways on judicial activism. We also learned never to take legal advice from a doctor!
Tags: Gonzales v. Oregon
Friday, January 20, 2006
Thursday, January 19, 2006
The year 2006 is upon us. That means that the baby boom generation, which embraced the battle cry "Don't trust anyone over 30," is turning twice that age, the dreaded 6-0.
Katie then admits to us that she too is a boomer. But Spotty bets that Katie never said Don’t trust anyone over thirty. Katie has had the sensibilities of a person over thirty – nay fifty – all her life. Katie is, rather was, a born scold. She has been alienated from her fellow boomers all her life, and now she’s looking for revenge:
We paunchy boomers may not wish to be Mick Jagger or Bruce Springsteen. But we yearn for the adolescent stage of life they reenact: free of responsibilities, focused on pleasure, at life's physical peak.
Well, Katie really doesn’t mean “we” baby boomers; she means “you” baby boomers. Katie has been waiting for years for her contemporaries to “catch up” and be as colorless and joyless as she is, and Katie is pissed that boomers don’t want to make the transition.
Toward the end of the column, Katie takes a trip down memory lane – a well-worn path for Katie – and reminisces about her grandmother:
A small woman, Grandmother always dressed like a grown-up, with a neat house dress and carefully coiffed gray hair. She wore her age gracefully, with quiet dignity and self-respect. My grandmother delighted in watching our fun, and often contributed to it. But by her dress and manners, she made it clear: "I like to be with you, but I do not want to be you."
Then Katie says wistfully: I can’t be my grandmother.
Katie = grandmother. Spotty says you have done an admirable job, Katie. Rest easy.
As for Spot, he has no intention of going gentle into that good night.
Tags: Katie indicts the baby boomers
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
The headline for the commentary is What do we look like – jerks? No, Jonah you don’t look especially like a jerk; that conclusion is usually drawn only after you write or say something. In trying to explain his position, Jonah reaches back into that expensive education of his to find the most relevant cultural reference he can think of: Steven Martin in The Jerk.
Remember, asks Jonah, the scene in The Jerk when Navin Johnson (our protagonist, the jerk) gets stalked at random, and how ridiculous that is? Man that was funny! Jonah wants us to conclude this is just a case of life imitating art.
Do you ever quote Forrest Gump, Jonah? Spot says that Gump would be perfect for you.
There have also been reports in the media that the NSA program is not limited to isolated jerks, but rather is a much broader “data mining” project. Here’s what John Dean - from Watergate, remember? – said in a FindLaw column recently:
Indeed, here, Bush may have outdone Nixon: Nixon's illegal surveillance was limited; Bush's, it is developing, may be extraordinarily broad in scope. First reports indicated that NSA was only monitoring foreign calls, originating either in the USA or abroad, and that no more than 500 calls were being covered at any given time. But later reports have suggested that NSA is "data mining" literally millions of calls - and has been given access by the telecommunications companies to "switching" stations through which foreign communications traffic flows.
In sum, this is big-time, Big Brother electronic surveillance.
But actually, Jonah we don’t know how big it is, and neither do you. So spare us the speculative BS.
Smartie also has a good post about Golberg’s piece this morning.
Tags: Jonah Goldberg channels Forrest Gump on illegal wiretapping
That is the headline of an opinion piece in Sunday's Independent Online. Lovelock, a well-known and respected environental scientiest from the UK, say that we have already gone over the brink, screwed the pooch, passed the point of no return, and jumped the shark concerning global warming. It is a grim read, but Spotty recommends it to his readers. There are a couple of related articles linked in the piece, too.
Apparently, Lovelock has a book coming out entitled The Revenge of Gaia.
The only satisfaction that Spot draws from this is knowing the George Bush's grandchildren are going to have just as much trouble with the coming environmental catastrophe as Spot's.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Stark Raving Mad
British MP George Galloway, a hero to the American left, has always struck me as a psychopath. It isn't getting much play in the U.S., but the British press is abuzz over his latest escapade: a stint in the "Big Brother" house.
"Big Brother" is a reality TV show that is huge in Great Britain, sort of like "Survivor" and "American Idol" put together. Galloway is now participating in the show, which means that he is cut off from all contact with the outside world--a fact that hasn't pleased his constituents. Moreover, his behavior has become increasingly bizarre. His impersonation of a cat has people talking:The controversial MP made Labour Chief Whip Hilary Armstrong "cringe" when he pretended to be a cat. He crawled on all fours, buried his head in actress Rula Lenska's lap, left, and licked imaginary milk from her hands. She rubbed the "cream" from his "whiskers" and stroked his head and behind his ears.
He's dressed up as Dracula, too--a more plausible role for Galloway. Of course, it's all for a good cause. Galloway is donating the proceeds of his "Big Brother" performance to a charity. One problem: the charity, Interpal, has been named by the U.S. government as a "specially designated global terrorist" organization.
Some hero.Posted by John at 12:10 PM | Permalink
Moses at The Yowling Post has a good post about the seventy percent non-solution. Spot just finished Garrison Keillor’s Homegrown Democrat, and Keillor makes several pithy comments about education, including this one on page 190:
Every child needs teachers to idolize and imitate and around the snarly age of fourteen, when our daughters look at us with pained amusement and our sons with loathing, they need teachers who can channel their anger into social criticism and turn them into crusaders and satirists, as we once were, and then they will have children of their own and become us, the tedious authoritarians, and we will become beloved and eccentric grandparents, the genial revolutionaries, working secretly with our grandchildren against our common enemy, the parents. This is how the world turns. And teachers are crucial.
When you wage war on the public schools, you're attacking the mortar that holds the community together. You're not a conservative, you're a vandal. The sorehead vote is out there, the guys who have a few beers and wonder why the hell they should have to pay taxes for the schools when their kids have graduated, What's the logic there, Joe? and you can rouse them up and elect a school board to take revenge on the teachers and you do your community no favors.
Guys like Craig Westover and John Stossel are always bemoaning the fact that kids do better in school systems in other parts of the world. Well, duh. Most of the rest of the civilized world does not raise children in the poverty-stricken environments that we do in the US. We don’t have a school problem so much as a societal problem. Sticks and Johnny (say that really fast; it sounds like the name of an Iranian politician) are oblivious to the social environments and social welfare systems in place in all these educational nirvanas.
Yes, it promises to be a long political season, filled with distraction and diversion. Spot promises to help you, gentle readers, keep your eyes on the bouncing ball.
Tags: 65 percent solution TWedge
Saturday, January 14, 2006
I want to congratulate Judge Samuel Alito for his professional bearing and astutely reasoned responses during three long days of what amounted to a Democrat-led inquisition.
With the bloviating of Joe Biden, the buffoonery of Ted Kennedy and the bickering of Chuck Schumer, they tried to pin "guilt by association" and "bigotry" on a man who rebuffed them at every turn.
Judge Samuel Alito will make an outstanding Supreme Court justice!
BOB MAGINNIS, EDINA
Bob has a literary bent, you must admit, boys and girls. Check out the clever alliteration in the penultimate paragraph. Spotty says Alito did rebuff the senators, as in brush off, disregard, ignore, or maybe even flip off.
For a more, er, nuanced, view of the hearings Spot recommends Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne.
And there was something odd about the gap in Alito's memory concerning his membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton, a right-wing group whose publications said some rather unpleasant things about blacks, women and gays. Alito didn't remember anything, but if he did remember something, his membership might have been related to Princeton's decision to throw the ROTC off campus, even though parts of ROTC later returned. The first public reference I can find to the ROTC rationale came not from anything Alito has said but from talking points put out Monday by Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman.
My biggest worries about Alito are how he would rule on presidential power, workers' rights, civil rights and regulatory issues. Cass Sunstein, a University of Chicago law professor, has noted that Alito follows the law when it's clear, but he almost always tilts toward his conservative predilections when the law is less settled. [italics are Spot’s]
Something odd, indeed. Spot, as well as others, including our friends at Clever Peasantry, say not merely odd, but rather unbelievable.
Friday, January 13, 2006
When it was rolled out this fall as Katie’s brainchild, one of the heralded features was an opportunity to submit questions to the “Professor,” represented by a picture of a nerdy looking fellow with a comb over, a pipe, and a cardigan. Students could ask the Professor about history, education, foundations of liberty, political science, etc. The idea was that conservative students could get some Kool Aid for fortification in class. But now the Professor is gone.
Spot followed the Professor since the beginning of school in the fall. How many questions did the Professor answer during his tenure? Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Apparently, the Professor was a complete cipher! Spot takes no responsibility for this; he asked his readers to submit questions to the lonely Professor, to no avail. Or maybe to lots of avail and questions the Professor found well, impertinent!
Or perhaps students figured out that it was not very smart to submit questions to the Center of the American Experiment and expect academic quality answers.
Tags: Katherine Kersten Center of the American Experiment
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Katie gives us a thrilling account of the suit and the plucky Brodkorb, determined to uphold the First Amendment against all comers, including the mainstream media. Well, maybe. This is actually a pretty garden-variety reputational tort case, except for one thing.
Olson has to prove that Brodkorb published statements about Olson that were defamatory to Olson or his company, that the statements caused a diminution of the reputation of Olson, and the amount of damage to that reputation. The last time Spot looked, it was still Brodkorb’s burden to prove the truth of the statements; truth is a defense to defamation. Now for the twist.
Is Brodkorb, especially the anonymous Brodkorb, a news organization? If he is, he is entitled to protection against defamation claims against him, unless it is demonstrated that he acted with actual malice. Actual malice here means not acting with true ill will, but rather knowledge of the falsity of the statements, or a reckless disregard with respect to the truth of them. If you would like to read more about this, just google (a verb now, alas) New York Times v. Sullivan.
In addition, Brodkorb might be entitled to some protection of his sources because of a reporter’s privilege. Are bloggers, including the anonymous ones, news organizations? It’s a very good question, and one that hits close to home for Spotty. Let’s take the issues in reverse order.
When a news organization quotes an anonymous source, it is substituting its own credibility for that of the unnamed source. In other words, the news organization is vouching, to at least a degree, for the source, and it is the brand name of the news organization on which the reader is relying. That was true at least until Judy Miller came along.
In the case of anonymous bloggers particularly, there is no one’s credibility backing up or vouching for the source. Is that a problem? Potentially. (Spot wants to interject here that he has learned a lot about communication from not only Bob Dole, but Don Rumsfeld as well.) That’s why Spot tries to only editorialize on and recite facts that are independently verifiable, usually by including a link to a media outlet, a legislative source, or the like. Brodkorb, on the other hand, trades on gossip at Minnesota Democrats Exposed.
As such, it is useful for readers to know that Brodkorb is a flak, a party apparatchik, a factotum, a grub, a hack, a scullion for the Republican Party. Isn’t it useful for readers to know the publisher of the gossip?
On the malice issue, Olson has obviously thought about it already, in that he asked for a retraction, which he didn’t get. That’s one of the ways to demonstrate malice: giving the publisher a chance to take back what he said. Brodkorb may find himself in the interesting position of protecting a source and therefore being unable to produce evidence in support of the truth of what he has said.
Spot does find himself, remarkably enough, in agreement with Katie when she writes that bloggers can serve as informational ferrets, prodding the institutional outlets to investigate things that ought to be investigated.
UPDATE: Spot had the occasion to do something he hasn't done for many years: actually read Times v. Sullivan. In the first part of the opinion, Justice Brennan states that the issue is whether freedoms of speech and press limit the award in libel cases. However, as one reads the opinion, it becomes apparent that the holding rests really on the Speech Clause of the 1st amendment, as applied to criticism of public officials or official conduct.
In other words, it doesn't really matter if MDE and Brodkorb are press or media. What matters for purposes of the "actual malice" requirement of Times against Sullivan is whether Blois Olson is a public official or acting is a government capacity, which he certainly does not seem to be.
Tags: Katherine Kersten hearts Michael Brodkorb, a formerly anonymous blogger
That doesn't seem exactly right to Spot. As Spot recalls, Provincial Premiere Mike Harris' Tory government adopted a province-wide direct funding scheme for Catholic schools; Spot is not sure how widely it was implemented. One of the stated reasons for doing it was because of the existence of a state-sponsored religion in Canada, the Church of England.
Parents of Jewish, Muslim and other unChristian children protested, and they were able to get a United Nations humans rights panel to condemn the scheme. The panel stated that Ontario should fund everybody, or nobody. Ontario officials told the UN to go fish. Of developments since then, Spot is unaware.
So, the uncorrected Sticks was correct.
This initiative was nothing more than a Christian interest group lining up to suckle at the public teat. And in spite of Sticks' unctuous twaddle about educational diversity and "seeming chaos coalescing" into educational excellence, that's all the discussion of vouchers is really about.
Tags: school vouchers Captain Fishsticks
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Sticks hauls out the hoary - and to Sticks religious - tract, the Northwest Ordinance, which of course governed the Territory out of which Minnesota was carved before it was a State. According to Sticks, the Northwest Ordinance is a document of epic and titanic proportion, able to sweep away mere state constitutions without breaking a sweat. The Northwest Ordinance can spread its magic fairy dust and make Article XIII, Section 2 of the Minnesota Constitution go away.
Spotty says that Sticks has been spending entirely too much time with Lee McGrath. Spot also suggests to Sticks that he read cases like Economy Light & Power Co. v. United States, and Hawkins v. Bleakly, and many other Supreme Court cases like them that make it clear that the Northwest Ordinance, while not quite as dead as the parrot in the Monty Python sketch, is still pretty dead, especially when it comes up against a provision in a state constitution that speaks clearly and unambiguously on a subject.
At the substantial risk of being repetitive and tedious to Spot’s readers, he will quote once again Article XIII, Section 2:
PROHIBITION AS TO AIDING SECTARIAN SCHOOL. In no case shall any public money or property be appropriated or used for the support of schools wherein the distinctive doctrines, creeds or tenets of any particular Christian or other religious sect are promulgated or taught. [the italics are Spot’s]
Spot wrote about this at some length in Affirmative Action (for Catholics). Before you get to spread magic fairy dust, Sticks, you have to conclude that the language is somehow ambiguous, and this language certainly is not. Sorry, the entrails of owls and those of the drafters of the Northwest Ordinance will have to go unread.
Sticks also opines that the thinking of the Florida Supreme Court on language virtually identical to Minnesota’s (referring now to the subject of Spot’s most recent post on vouchers, Article XIII, Section 1) is somehow inapposite. Sticks says we should look to Ontario which has parallel systems of public and Catholic schools, both of which receive provincial funding.
Imagine Spot’s flat out astonishment that über patriot Sticks would refer with approval to anything done by foreigners. Heaven forfend! Florida’s our homie, Sticks, not Ontario. Did you know they have an official government sponsored religion in Ontario? Yup. It’s headed by the Queen of England. Canada also has a Governor General, the representative of the British Crown and at least the nominal head of state. Just your kind of precedent Sticks.
Sticks wraps up with this valediction:
This view is consistent with my contention that “public education” consists of education in the public interest and includes government run schools, private schools, religious schools, cyber schools, home schools and forms of education not yet created. Market forces, parent desires, will coalesce the seeming chaos of diversity into those types of education that enable children to become educated, discerning, productive citizens in the way a single system cannot -- whatever that system.
Come on Sticks. You don’t believe in the public interest. You’re a social Darwinist hunter gatherer. Sometimes “seeming chaos” is just well, chaos, and that’s what you want to create. And Spotty says that “market forces” are really poor at delivering public goods. So, you just go off and live in your little hut all by yourself if that’s what you want, but we’ll still tax you for public schools.
Tags: school vouchers Captain Fishsticks
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
President Bush issued an unusually stark warning to Democrats today about how to conduct the debate on Iraq as midterm elections approach, declaring that Americans know the difference "between honest critics" and those "who claim that we acted in Iraq because of oil, or because of Israel, or because we misled the American people."
Don't you just love it when people have to resort to telling other people what to do because they have lost the ability to persuade them? Because I'm your mother. Because I said so. Because I'm bigger than you.
As much as anything, Bush is signaling tha he has lost the debate, and he knows it. Trying to put a subject off limits is an act of desperation.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Spot has written several times about the unconstitutionality under Article XIII, Section 2 of the Minnesota Constitution of a scheme for school vouchers. You can read those posts here, here, and here. Oh, and maybe best here, in Vouchers Smouchers on Spotty’s other blog Retire Geoff Michel. Gentle readers, you are really, really going to have to read those posts to follow along. Spot is sorry.
Anyway, some time ago, before Spot was born into the blogosphere actually, Captain Fishsticks wrote a post entitled School Vouchers: Constitutionality is a False Issue. In it, Sticks writes that while Article XIII, Section 2 does admittedly bar the use of public funds for sectarian schools in plain language, we should just ignore it because it is the legacy of religious bigotry against Catholics. This is the same argument that Spot’s correspondent Lee McGrath makes, and which Spotty slices and dices with actual principles of constitutional interpretation in the posts referred to above.
Spot has some bad news, boys and girls. Everything written above was the mere preamble to what Spot wants to tell you today.
Some of you may remember that Spotty told you that Article XIII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution, the next door neighbor to the section we have been discussing, also addresses public school provenance. It reads as follows:
Section 1. UNIFORM SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.
Spot wrote in Vouchers Smouchers that a system of school vouchers would amount to an abandonment of the State’s duty to provide general and uniform public schools. The Supreme Court of Florida recently had the wisdom to agree with Spot. It struck down a voucher system in Florida on the basis of similar language to that contained in Article XIII, Section 1, stating that:
Our inquiry begins with the plain language of the second and third sentences of article IX, section 1(a) of the Constitution. The relevant words are these: “It is . . . a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders.” Using the same term,“adequate provision” article IX, section 1(a) further states: “Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools.” For reasons expressed more fully below, we find that the OSP [Opporunity Scholarship Program] violates this language. It diverts public dollars into separate private systems parallel to and in competition with the free public schools that are the sole means set out in the Constitution for the state to provide for the education of Florida’s children. This diversion not only reduces money available to the free schools, but also funds private schools that are not “uniform” when compared with each other or the public system. Many standards imposed by law on the public schools are inapplicable to the private schools receiving public monies. In sum, through the OSP the state is fostering plural, nonuniform systems of education in direct violation of the constitutional mandate for a uniform system of free public schools.
Wow, that’s pretty frank. But Spot says it is spot on. The case is Bush v. Holmes, Docket No. SC04-2323. You can read about it here, and even get your own copy of the decision from the newspaper article.
What was especially interesting to Spot is that the Florida Supreme Court said the voucher plan was such a stinker under the uniform public schools requirement of the Florida Constitution that it didn’t even need to address the religious establishment issue.
In other words, all of Sticks’ huffing and puffing about ignoring the Minnesota Constitution because of religious bigotry – and that’s all it is, huffing and puffing – is irrelevant. Voucher program are unconstitutional in Florida, and in Minnesota, on educational grounds, wholly apart from religious grounds.
You see, Sticks, when people were considering the nature and qualities of the government they wanted, lo those many years ago, they didn’t want to be social Darwinist hunter-gathers like you. Sorry.
Tags: school vouchers Craig Westover
Katie is doing her part, has the bit in her teeth, and is off and running with her column this morning. Spot has written about governor TWedge’s immigration gambit before, here. Essentially, the TWedge wants to make policemen into immigration enforcement officers, and to start a squad of Men in Black at the state level to cruise the state in black Suburbans, looking for illegal aliens.
Spotty should stop here to mention parenthetically that being an undocumented or out-of-status alien in the US does not make you a criminal; it just makes you subject to deportation. The thick-headed Jim Fisher from Spot’s hometown apparently did not know this when he wrote in this letter published in the Strib today:
I had to laugh when I read in your Jan. 5 editorial that "It's not clear that immigrants legal or illegal commit serious crimes more often than anyone else in Minnesota." On the contrary, 100 percent of illegals have commited a crime here. Because, well, they're here illegally.
JIM FISHER, EDINA
Well, Spotty had to laugh, too. At you Jim, you ignorant boob.
TWedge’s plan has come in for more than a little criticism. It’s xenophobic, it diverts law enforcement resources from the things that cops should be paying attention to, it diminishes the returns in community policing efforts to gain the trust of minority communities, and the state really has no business getting directly involved in a matter of federal jurisdiction.
Perhaps Minnesota should have its own refugee policy for Scandinavian political refugees from liberal governments, or Minnesota could have its own foreign policy. Mobilize the Minnesota Guard, invade southern Manitoba and Western Ontario to lop off a chunck of Canada to make room for the new Scandinavian immigrants! Oh, Spot forgot; most of the Guard has already been mobilized and is headed for Iraq.
If TWedge is so concerned about immigration, why doesn’t he go talk to the administration or to the Congress? The Republicans hold it all. Well, because it wouldn’t be nearly as politically useful as trying to cram the issue up everyone’s arse in an election year, that’s why.
Back to Katie. Finally. In this morning’s column, she tells TWedge’s critics to “turn down the volume.” And she writes it without a trace of irony.
It is important when selecting your scape goats to be sure not to pick ones that are too big. Undocumented aliens, like minors who can no longer use cell phones in cars are perfect; they can’t vote.
Tags: Katie tries to help TWedge
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Legal and visible
As part of Gov. Tim Pawlenty's illegal immigration initiative, maybe he could mandate a "patch program" for legal immigrants. Legal immigrants would be required to wear a patch on their clothing at all times. As Pawlenty's initiative makes all immigrants suspect, a patch program would enable the public to treat "the patched" with less suspicion.
Maybe then we will all become aware of just how many legal immigrants live, work and contribute to our communities and expose how politically exploitative Pawlenty's initiative really is.
There are examples of patch programs in history books. Pawlenty may need to do some research to get his right.
PENNY VAN KAMPEN, EDINA
Spotty recommends to his readers Glenn Greenwald, who runs Johnny arguments through the Vegematic. The Wege has a great riff on Johnny’s declamation, too. To add insult to well, insult after insult, Atrios awards Johnny the Wanker of the Day. Spot really recommends each of these links to you, gentle readers, and he will not repeat what has already been well written. There is one teensy little thing Spot would like to add, however.
Johnny has engaged in what Spot’s lawyer friends call alternative theories of pleading. In other words, using different and sometimes contradictory explanations. Johnny says one the one hand, the terrorists probably didn’t know about FISA, even though it has been a public law for thirty years, and on the other hand, they know about it and knew that the warrant requirement slows the feds down. In the latter scenario, we trick ‘em by not getting the warrant! Pretty clever.
Of course, by pleading both sides of the case, Johnny destroys his credibility for either. It is like the goat defense that law professors use as a cautionary tale to law students on the dangers of pleading alternate theories:
I don’t own a goat. If I own a goat, he didn’t eat your cabbages. If he ate you cabbages, they were rotten and therefore worthless.
Spotty says that Johnny Rocketseed suffers from a common advocate’s malady: crusader’s myopia.
Tags: Johnny Rocketseed doesn't understand FISA
Friday, January 06, 2006
GOVERNOR PAWLENTY REACHES OUT TO BLOGGERSYou can read the rest here. The post is in reference to the little soiree that Pawlenty threw at the governor's mansion for right wing bloggers last spring.
This is a great move by Governor Pawlenty and his communications team. I was invited, but I need to keep my anonymity. [italics are Spot's]
Spot's question, boys and girls, is how did Brian McClung (Pawlenty's communications director) know where and to whom to send the invitation? It's really puzzling, isn' it?
Well, not so puzzling. Brian McClung obviously knew that Michael Brodkorb was behind MDE all along.
Tags: Michael Brodkorb was known to Brian McClung as Minnesota Democrats Exposed all along
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Pat Robertson says Sharon's stroke may be God's punishmentSpotty says that Sharon's stroke was God's punishment for gluttony.
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. The Reverend Pat Robertson says Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's massive stroke could be God's punishment for giving up Israeli territory.
The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network told viewers of "The 700 Club" that Sharon was "dividing God's land," even though the Bible says doing so invites "God's enmity."
Robertson added, "I would say woe to any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course."
He noted that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated.
Robertson said God's message is, "This land belongs to me. You'd better leave it alone."
Tags: Pat Robertson
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
TWedge followed up on his sideswipe of immigration report last month by declaring yesterday that illegal immigration was, like, ruining the entire legal system. Actually, he said “undermining the entire legal system.” Spotty had no idea! Maybe Spot should have seen some clues, though.
Spotty has noticed that parking meter enforcement has been really uneven lately. And if you have a problem with your Best Buy extended warranty, heaven help you; the Uniform Commercial Code is in shambles. Let’s not even talk about illegal spitting! Maybe TWedge is right.
Or maybe TWedge is just a xenophobic cipher, a provincial goober, a bigoted twit. Not to mention probably a bed wetter. Spotty thinks all of the above. Well, except the last one. Spot is pretty sure that TWedge is in control of his bodily functions. In fact, Sigmund Spot thinks TWedge is a tight arse.
Several people have pointed out that TWedge’s arithmetic in his immigration report of a few weeks ago is flawed; it probably is. But that is neither here nor there in deciding whether Minnesota wants to follow the bellwether states of Florida and Alabama in asking to be deputized in the immigration business. Beat cops checking immigration status? Swell.
The citizens of our core cities should be so pleased that TWedge has decided that the police should take time away from violent and property crime enforcement and deterrence to see if a student – especially one of those foreign-looking students – has overstayed his visa. Let’s see your papers boy! You speaka ‘Merican? No fast moves now!
TWedge also wants a ten person squad of junior G-men to blanket the state with the authority to question, detain, and arrest suspected illegal aliens. Men in Black at the state level. Spot thinks this idea could be spread to other areas of federal jurisdiction as well. Perhaps we could get some deputized IRS agents to audit high-income earner tax returns. Or maybe we could get together a group of state employees to police gun show transactions for the ATF! Believe it, people, when Spot says this has promise.
TWedge, did Karl Rove tell you to stir up the immigration pot? Spotty heard Jim Ramstad mention it too, recently. Or did you come up with these spectacularly stupid ideas all by yourself?
Tags: TWedge is afraid of immigration