Sunday, April 30, 2006

Sticks sets out

To prove something. And as is often the case, he proves something else. That he’s fundamentally misguided, Spotty? No, grasshopper, that isn’t what Spot had in mind, but . . . well, never mind. Sticks’ point in this post is that light rail development is harmful to working people. What he proved instead is that over-reliance on the property tax is bad because it isn’t based on the ability to pay as the income tax is.

Sticks reads a letter in today’s Pioneer Press and pounces on it as yet another opportunity to dump on light rail. You see, boys and girls, land values, reflected in the prices paid recently, have jumped for property along the University Avenue corridor that is expected to be where the next light rail line goes. Real estate taxes go up as a consequence, squeezing landlords and tenants alike along the corridor. Richard Schuster writes that he and his tenants have not benefited at all from the “land rush.” (Although Schuster's likely to cash in if he decides to sell!)

Real estate appreciation in advance of anticipated development is not, of course, a new phenomenon. Farming becomes uneconomic at the suburban fringes (if it wasn’t already); low income residents get gentrified out of neighborhoods. And yet, Sticks has not noticed this until now!

Of course, it won’t be the MTC that does the development in the light rail corridor, it will be private developers. Think of the innkeepers and stablers along the roads reaching back into ancient times.

Boys and girls, the real problem is that Minnesota is turning it back on a progressive tax system based on the ability to pay. And social Darwinist hunter gatherers like Sticks have no standing to complain about that, that’s for sure.

Oh, and one other thing. Sticks’ post is titled Who’s really looking out for the working class? He also uses the term “working poor” in the body of the post. Sticks want to paint the image of grimy urchins loaded up with all of their worldly possessions in a ruck sack, trudging off to a new slum. But Spot invites you to read Schuster’s letter; he apparently owns and leases commercial space.

What were you saying about Sticks, grasshopper?

Tags: does not heart

Saturday, April 29, 2006

A winger spat

There are few things funnier than when wingers have a falling out. The tears, the recriminations, the regrets; it’s all there. It’s like two teenagers falling out of love. Usually one person moves on, and the other remains, bitter, testy, and forlorn. And so it is with Andrew Sullivan and Johnny Rocketseed. They used to be so close. Here’s Johnny then:
As the Trunk notes below, Andrew Sullivan has urged readers to read David Kay's report in its entirety and has argued that it vindicates President Bush's case for war. Andrew convinces me that he would make an excellent press secretary for President Bush; beyond that, his [presumably Kay’s] case just doesn't wash. [italics are Spot’s]

And here’s Johnny now:
Defeatism, From One of the Usual Suspects

Andrew Sullivan reviews current data from Iraq, and concludes:

They're grim. 100,000 families have so far forced to flee their homes; U.S. fatalities were sharply up in April; 8,300 civilian Iraqis were murdered by terrorist insurgents in 2005. In terms of civilian deaths, adjusted for population size, Iraq endured something like twenty-five 9/11s last year. Let's put it another way: a territory controlled by U.S. forces accounted for 50 percent of deaths caused by terrorists on the planet last year. If that is a successful military occupation, then I'm not sure what failure would be. I guess I should ask Powerline.

In fact, though, the numbers cited by Andrew prove little about whether our effort in Iraq is a success or a failure. The spike in casualties in April was an interruption in a long-term trend of steadily declining American and Iraqi casualties. This is consistent with the terrorists' historical practice of ramping up violence whenever the Iraqis are about to take a new step toward democracy: electing a constitutional assembly, electing a legislative assembly, choosing a government. Once again, the terrorists' violence failed. Iraqi politicians have agreed on a new Prime Minister who is in the process of forming the first democratically elected government in the history of the Arab world.

The fact that half of all deaths caused by terrorists last year were in Iraq is consistent with what the terrorists themselves often tell us: Iraq is the central front in the global war against Islamic terrorism. The old Andrew Sullivan would have understood that this means we should fight to win in Iraq, not cut and run.

Johnny continues:
So it will be a while before we can render a verdict on the policy President Bush set in motion in 2003. As I've said before, I think it is more likely than not that history will judge our effort a success. In the meantime, engaging in defeatist hysteria every time the terrorists pull off a successful bombing is neither helpful nor analytically accurate.

Johnny reminds Spot of those old Japanese soldiers they used to find hiding in the jungles of the Philippines decades after World War II ended.

Tags: doesn't know that the is already lost

Layton wins Spotty!

Wilbur L. (“Bill”) Layton wins a Spotty for this letter in the Star Tribune on Saturday, April 29th.
Moos handled it well

Katherine Kersten, the cheerleader for the narrow-minded, has done it again.

As a former vice president of Student Affairs at a major university [it was Iowa State University in Ames, by the way] during the student unrest days, I was dismayed by Kersten's simple-minded approach to what was an extremely complex situation.

I admired President Malcolm Moos' handling of the 1969 situation. As a former professor at the University of Minnesota, I applaud the school for celebrating the outstanding achievements of several returning alumni who were involved.

In 1967, 20 college vice presidents of Student Affairs founded the National Vice Presidents' Group, which still exists today. We were in constant communication as we attempted to find the best ways to handle unrest during that era.

We observed that university administrators and government officials who took the hard-line approach Kersten espoused played into the hands of the protesters, precipitating violence and destruction.

The tragedy at Kent State is probably the best example. Ohio Gov. Jim Rhodes overreacted when conservatives pressured him.

After the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., black students began speaking out about their legitimate concerns. However, many universities were insensitive to those concerns, so the students increased their attempts to get sympathetic attention.

The University of Minnesota responded appropriately in 1969.

WILBUR L. LAYTON, EDINA

A Spotty is awarded to someone who pens an op-ed piece, a letter to the editor, or a blog post or comment expressing sentiments that Spot wishes he had put in a blog post. Spot, da Wege, and Jambo have all commented on Katie’s column referring to the incident.

Now we have a person who was a university official during those times commenting on the University of Minnesota’s response. Katie, who was a sanctimonious young twit at the time, would have preferred the “bust some heads” approach. Of course. Spot thinks he’ll stick with Layton’s advice.

Police State Kate undoubtedly thinks that gunning down students at Kent State was a wise and measured response.

Tag:

Friday, April 28, 2006

Spot forgot

Spot forgot to mention a couple of things in his last post Invisible hand job.

First, Sticks says in his comment to The Power Liberal post that margins aren't particularly good in the oil business compared to some other businesses. Of course not, you numbskull, it's a commodity business, not the jewelry business. Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland don't have big margins, either, but manage to do pretty well, thanks. It's all, well mostly, about volume. This is neither here nor there, save to say it has nothing to say about rate of return.

Second, both the public and the business and investment community suffer from the same limited event horizon. Neither can imagine a world dissimilar from the one in which they currently live. But very different the future is likely to be from an energy standpoint. And the public will be inclined to punish our poltical leaders rather than our business leaders. This is probably as it should be, since it is unrealistic to expect business to do anything other than try to maximize profits.

Invisible hand job

If you say it; he will come. "It" is the invisible hand, and “he” is Captain Fishsticks. Smartie at The Power Liberal put up a post saying, in essence that the market mechanism has failed us in this energy supply business. So of course Sticks swoops in with a long, really long, comment to the post saying nuh uh! Sticks spouts more libertarian economic theory; Sticks says that government can’t be involved in the energy business, regulating prices or whatever, without “controlling behavior.” Well, duh.

Spot has written before about Adam Smith in A dope slap from the Invisible Hand. Sticks’ thesis is that we should be interfering less in the energy business, not more. Sure, if we want to drive off the cliff by the most direct route.

You see, boys and girls, the market is not good a couple of things. First, it is poor at making a business enterprise pay all of the externalities of its economic activity. Externalities are sometimes called social costs, and include things like pollution, health care expenses (think WalMart), and the like. Now, in Adam Smith’s time, the effort to put externalities back where they were created was called the law of nuisance. In Smith’s 18th century Scotland it worked maybe even okay.

In modern industrial society, personal nuisance law suits are just spitting into the wind. That’s where business regulation comes in. It’s not really the fault of business; a business organization exists to make money, and spreading its social costs as much as possible helps it maximize profit. Where market fundies like Sticks go astray is thinking that externalities don’t exist or that society has no legitimate interest in trying to put them back where they belong.

An excellent example of an externality is second-hand smoke. (Spotty has been itching to talk about Sticks’ anti-smoking ban obsession for a long time.) It is clear that second-hand smoke imposes economic (stinky clothes that have to be tossed or cleaned) and health costs on innocent bystanders. Just like uncontrolled industrial smokestacks. Why should Spot have to pick up part of this cost?

The second thing the market mechanism isn’t very good at is gauging the public interest, particularly when we are talking about thinking strategically. A guy who came along after our Pollyanna Smith was Thomas Malthus. Malthus was much less sanguine. He saw a world of over-population, resource shortage, and misery. Charles Darwin was influenced by Malthus. Malthus advocated big-time regulation of population, since he believed that population growth could always outstrip resources.

We don’t seem to want to regulate population, except when it comes to those pesky Mexicans, but we do need somebody to think a little longer term than the stock market encourages. Considering the public interest does not maximize profits. The market isn’t immoral, just amoral. Drug companies don’t want to make vaccines for an influenza that may never occur; the market won’t do a lot of basic research, and it is not far-sighted enough to deal with Peak Oil or global warming in a way that will save our collective bacon.

It all goes back to Sticks’ social Darwinist hunter gatherism, a socially and morally bankrupt political philosophy.

Tags: hearts

Thursday, April 27, 2006

No word on HBO

Eva Young at Dump Michele Bachmann reports that Sen. Bachmann has been charging the State for her cable bill. Based on her record of attendance at committee meetings, a heavy diet of cable may be the only way the senator has any notion of what's happening at the Capitol!

Spot doesn't think that women can be knaves - Spotty is pretty strict about sex roles, too - but if they could, the senator would be one. She obviously has different standards of the propriety of spending public money based on who it benefits.

Tag:

Changes at the Cucking Stool

The Cucking Stool is now set to open links in a new window. This was necessary because some of Spot's more inattentive readers were following a link to some juicy tidbit provided by Spot and then just wandering off lost.

Regrettably, the "back" button won't take you to the original Cucking Stool window. You will have to "manually" close this new window. Spot uses Firefox and has it set to open new tabs in the same browser session rather than a whole new session; this is the way to go.

Katie's addiction

United 93, the new film about the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania, is apparently a real horror show. It could hardly be otherwise. Spot thinks it should be rated NK. What’s NK, Spotty? NK, grasshopper, means No Katie - Katherine Kersten. She’s not up to it. If Katie sees that film, the rest of us will have to suffer through the after effects for months in her “column.” We will undoubtedly see a gushing review from her soon.

Katie already has a serious 9/11 addiction. It gives her the DTs quite often. But Katie hasn’t hit bottom yet; she isn’t yet ready to turn her life around and begin the long road to recovery. You see, when Katie takes a hit of 9/11 hysteria, it gives her a nationalistic and nativist high that she can’t get any other way.

Problem is, Katie and addicts like her want to take the rest of us with them. That why they love to wave the bloody shirt. This movie is just another one to wave.

The craven producers of the movie had a premier with some of the passengers’ family members attending. One legitimately grieving attendee said:
Allison Vadham, the daughter of a passenger, said the movie serves as more than just a typical night out at the theaters.

"We can't forget" about the hijacking, she said. "We have to remember what happened, why it happened. And we can't fool ourselves into thinking that it won't happen again."

It’s not the forgetting that worries Spot; it’s the addiction.

Tags: is addicted to

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Spare the rod

And spoil the student. Katie's Thursday column University's praise for 1969 violence sets ugly precedent bemoans the University of Minnesota's muted, non-violent response to a student "take over" of Morrill Hall in 1969. The demand was for a black history department, which was created. What really cheeses Katie off is that the U commorated the incident recently:
Last weekend, the U honored the leaders of the 1969 assault on Morrill Hall as heroes. A romantic folklore now surrounds their actions. "We are thankful for you," Sue Hancock of the university's Office for Multicultural and Academic Affairs told them. "You put your lives on the line so that the ... people who followed you would have a different experience."

Katie says that President Malcolm Moos was just not up to snuff:
. . . Moos didn't lift a finger against them, or even criticize their actions. He didn't call in the campus police. He didn't subject the students to discipline or ask them to help defray repair costs. A few students were charged with crimes, but serious charges were later dropped. Two were eventually put on probation for the misdemeanor charge of unlawful assembly.

You're absolutely right, Katie. It's a damn good thing those uppity black students didn't go to a good Christian college like, say, St. Thomas. Spotty bets that Rev. President Dease would have seen to it that these upstarts got a good thrashing! It was in those evil '60s that we started letting the darkies get notions, and the country hasn't been the same since.

Tag:

BTW, Wege, Spotty thinks he beat you this time.

Call the morality police!

In a comment to Spot’s post Shacking up Catholic, MNObserver wrote the following:
And now we'll see the undergraduates turning in the teaching assistants who look just a little *too* happy in the morning. I can only guess the name they'll give the "single person getting some" tattletale telephone line.

Probably. Here’s a letter from the little brown streak Taliban Amanda Kastelic in the Star Tribune today:
True to its values

Bravo to Katherine Kersten for her April 24 column regarding the Rev. Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas, and his decision regarding St. Thomas' travel policy.

As a current St. Thomas student, I could not be prouder of our president and his commitment to Catholic values. I do not think it unreasonable for me to expect that Catholic values be upheld.

After all, I chose to attend St. Thomas not just because of the valuable academic experience it has to offer, but also because it is a school proud of its Catholic tradition and values.

To compromise those values would make St. Thomas no different from a public institution, as Kersten so astutely noted. The uniqueness of a Catholic university is rooted in its Catholic values. To compromise those values is to deny its very identity.

I consider it a privilege to be a part of a university such as St. Thomas that is willing to uphold its values in the face of pressure from those who wish it to conform to society's standards. I hope the faculty and students of St. Thomas recognize that privilege as well and will, like Dease and Kersten, support the fact that a Catholic university must be true to its Catholic principles.

AMANDA KASTELIC, ROSEVILLE

Maybe we can get Amanda to staff the morality police hotline at St. Thomas!

Tags: urges the formation of the

Runoff with the votes?

Spotty, yesterday you wrote about liking instant runoff voting. Can you tell us how it works?

No, grasshopper, he can't. But Spot knows somebody who can.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Cakeville alert

There is a new post over at retire geoff michel about election reform and immigration that Spot hopes will be of interest, particularly to residents of Spotty's hometown.

Separated at birth IV


Worf the Klingon and Clifford D. May, syndicated columnist who appears in the Star Tribune. Yesterday, Cliff identified a group that he calls the "anti-antis," people who are opposed to the US approach to the war on terrorism. They are not quite terrorists themselves, but boy, Cliff implies, they are close.

Actually, whenever he reads Clifford May, Spot has a flash back of Curtis LeMay, the cold warrior who favored the strategy of "bombing them back to the stone age."

Monday, April 24, 2006

Shacking up Catholic

Professional writer that he is, Da Wege runs the numbers on Katie’s column today: St. Thomas leader courageously took principled route. He proves with clinical precision that Katie selects her words from the right side of the periodic table. (For you humanities types, that is where elements like Pb are located.) Spot has no desire to flog a dead horse. However, there are a couple of things that Spotty would like to call your attention.

The object of Katie’s affection in the column today is The Rev. Dennis Dease, the president of St. Thomas who recently decreed that, well, let’s let Katie set it up:
Recently, St. Thomas was roiled by a dispute over its travel policy. Some faculty members demanded that unmarried faculty and staff who are romantically involved be allowed to share a hotel room when on official college trips with students.

Dease begged to differ.

He had the audacity to point out that St. Thomas, as a Catholic institution, could not turn a blind eye to blatant disregard for Catholic principles about sex outside of marriage -- at least on school-sponsored trips with students.

But what our duplicitous correspondent Katie doesn’t tell us, boys and girls, is that the issue only arose over an unmarried, romantically-involved same-sex couple.You have to wonder how often the heteros have shacked up on the St. Thomas tab without a comment.

Spotty has always been impressed that Katie can distinguish between pronouncements by church officials that are good, as she believes here, and when they are bad. It must take a powerful intellect.

Tag:

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Gas powered Bass-o-matic


Be the first guy on your block to get one. This is a gas powered blender with a reported 2.25 horsepower, more that some trolling motors!

Remember Dan Akryod on Saturday Night Live selling the Bass-o-matic blender designed to puree a whole bass? This baby would be perfect.

What better way to shatter the oppressive evening silence in, say, the BWCA, or perhaps a cozy campsite along a contemplative Minnesota river than to puree up a few bass?

Spot knows that you are all asking, boys and girls, Where can I get it? Your ever helpful friend Spotty will tell you. Just send Cabela's around three hundred bucks and they will send you one of your very own.

Clearly, nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.

Separated at birth III


Here we have Katie - Katherine Kersten - and her opposite number at the San Francisco Chronicle, Debra J. Saunders. Sauders' columns appear in the Strib from time to time. Compare these pictures with the current ones (just look in the paper) for a glimpse of the evolution of right wing hair.

Debbie's column today bemonans the fact that Zacarias Moussaoui's attempted judicial assisted suicide may be just that - attempted.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

For those of you

Who don't get the Australian papers:
White House knew there were no WMD: CIA

April 22, 2006 - 7:34AM

The CIA had evidence Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction six months before the 2003 US-led invasion but was ignored by a White House intent on ousting Saddam Hussein, a former senior CIA official said, according to CBS.

Tyler Drumheller, who headed CIA covert operations in Europe during the run-up to the Iraq war, said intelligence opposing administration claims of a WMD threat came from a top Iraqi official who provided the US spy agency with other credible information.

The source "told us that there were no active weapons of mass destruction programs," Drumheller said in a CBS interview to be aired on Sunday on the US network's 60 Minutes.

"The (White House) group that was dealing with preparation for the Iraq war came back and said they were no longer interested," he was quoted as saying in interview excerpts released by CBS on Friday.

"We said: 'Well, what about the intel?' And they said: 'Well, this isn't about intel anymore. This is about regime change'," added Drumheller, whose CIA operation was assigned the task of debriefing the Iraqi official.

You can read the rest from The Sydney Morning Herald here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Sticks regards himself


In the mirror. Sticks is the one on the left. Captain Fishsticks, a/k/a Craig Westover, is at his side-splitting, milk-comes-out-your-nose funniest when he charges off into the underbrush wielding his mighty rhetorical machete and trying to explain the public interest. Sticks' basic rule: if Sticks doesn't want it; it isn't in the public interest.

In a column earlier this week, Sticks starts out his exposition on the boundaries of the public interest by comparing the payment of income taxes to paying a parking ticket:
I wrote a couple of checks last week: One to cover a parking ticket and one to pay my state income tax. If I had ignored either, I'd be writing my column on jailhouse stationery.

It is so thoughtful of Sticks to pick his examples so that all of his slack-jawed readers, the ones sitting on their woodpiles with their coon dogs Bo, waiting for squirrels to shoot for supper, can understand. Our Seafood Friend then infuses his example with meaning. Sticks tells us that he had to pay the parking ticket because he had stolen a parking spot. But in the case of taxes, Sticks was just minding his own business and had to pay taxes anyway! Who's the thief here? implies Sticks.

Of course, Sticks suckles at the public teat from morn to eve, just as the rest of us do. He couldn't get his '81 Chrysler Cordoba out of the driveway in the morning without public services. What's that you say, Sticks? You would build the road in front of your house at public expense? But what if Spot doesn't think it's a good idea? Tough luck, Sticks.

No Sticks is an island, or a lion for that matter.

Captain Fishsticks tells us that the public interest is a slippery concept, and indeed it is. That's why we submit it for determination to the political process. Sticks hates this, because it sometimes - perhaps often - yields public spending that Sticks doesn't like: funding for a ski jump, community centers, zoo exhibits, a volley ball center, and more public transit.

You know, Sticks, not everyone has an '81 Chrysler Cordoba to drive to work and park illegally, and yet, society finds it useful to get them to a job. Moreover, if everyone had an '81 Chrysler Cordoba and tried to drive it to work, you'd never even get a chance to commit that parking infraction, Sticks. You probably wouldn't be able to breathe, anyway.


Sticks, nobody says you can't continue to vote straight-ticket Social Darwinist Hunter Gatherer Party. But when other people don't, don't pout. The frown lines are already pretty deeply etched.

Tags: waxes [fill in the blank] on the

City Pages noticed, too

City Pages noticed how much Powerline likes the word "execrable." Spotty noticed, too, but Spot was first.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Scotty's favorite word

Scotty Johnson’s – a/k/a Tinkerbelle or the Large Nasal Passage – favorite word is “execrable.” Spotty thinks Scotty likes it because it makes him feel naughty and he thinks he’s swearing. (A sprinkling of Scottys and Spottys could be confusing here, boys and girls, so pay close attention.) Scotty used “execrable” again (for the second or third time) to describe an article, published in the London Review of Books and on the Kennedy School of Government website that criticizes US foreign policy in the Middle East, and its unquestioning support of Israel in particular:
I wrote at length about the execrable Mearsheimer/Walt "Israel Lobby" paper published by the London Review of Books and the Kennedy School of Government a month ago in "They too dare to speak out!"

Of course he wrote at length. That’s the only way our prolix Scotty can write. (Spot does admit that he shares a propensity to be self-referential with Scotty, but he hopes not the affection for leaden prose!) Anyway, here’s Harvard’s abstract of the paper:

In this paper, John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago's Department of Political Science and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government contend that the centerpiece of U.S. Middle East policy is its intimate relationship with Israel. The authors argue that although often justified as reflecting shared strategic interests or compelling moral imperatives, the U.S. commitment to Israel is due primarily to the activities of the “Israel Lobby." This paper goes on to describe the various activities that pro-Israel groups have undertaken in order to shift U.S. foreign policy in a pro-Israel direction.

This is, of course, heresy to Scotty & Co., which has an Israeli flag on its website. (For extra credit, compare and contrast with the Mexican flags displayed in the recent immigration protests.) You see, if Israel cannot reclaim all its Biblical lands, the rapture will never come! And then Scotty won’t get to see Jesus. So naturally he’s upset. Who could blame him?

Mearsheimer and Walt have attracted the chorus of criticism they predicted (what clairvoyance!), but they have also picked up some impressive supporters, including Juan Cole, the University of Michigan professor who is the proprietor of the expert blog Informed Comment. By the way, Professor Cole recently won the first every blogger award in the 2005 James Aronson Awards for Social Justice Journalism:
Blogging at its Best: Juan Cole, Informed Comment.

' Blogging represents a significant new form of communication--sometimes merely scurrilous, sometimes a vital extension of public debate--and of journalism. "Informed Comment," Cole's Iraq War web log, shows the form reaching its highest social value. Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, brings his scholarly expertise to the analysis of daily events. He speaks Arabic, Persian and Urdu and has lived for long periods in various places in the Middle East. As a blogger, he becomes a sort of hybrid scholar/journalist as he gathers links to US and international news, then draws from his professorial expertise to provide running commentary on the insurgency, the American military response, and nuances of Middle Eastern politics and religion. His easy, humorous style recalls I. F. Stone's Vietnam-era newsletters and makes his dispatches an indispensable tool for understanding the social justice implications of this complex conflict.'

Juan or Scotty? Juan or Scotty? Juan or Scotty? Spot puts his check mark in the box next to ‘Juan Cole.’ And he thinks you should too, boys and girls.

Spotty says that until we are even-handed with the Israelis and the Palestinians, we won’t know peace.

Tags: spanks

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Asking the rabble

Nick Coleman had another column today about the Twins stadium proposal involving a Hennepin County sales tax and the avoidance of a taxpayer referendum. Clearly, Coleman thinks that Hennepin County – and the State of Minnesota – has its priorities screwed up.

Okay, on the other hand, we have the Minnesota Senate Judiciary Committee that killed a bill to put a may garriage (sorry) gay marriage ban constitutional amendment referendum on the fall ballot. Predictably, the homophobes are outraged, although there are probably at least some of them who think the stadium deal, sans referendum, is just fine.

So, when do we consult the rabble for its opinion? Clearly, both situations are ones where elected officials are leery of whether the public would make the “right” decision. Spot is reminded of a quotation attributed to Jesse Helms, but for which Spot has no link, where Helms said “Democracy used to be a good thing, but it has gotten into the wrong hands.” Don’t we all feel that way once in a while? Spotty sure does.

Spotty says the two situations are fundamentally different. Spot believes it is entirely proper to restrain majoritarian impulses that seek to impair fundamental tenets of American society, such as equal protection under law. Civil rights, like equal protection, are the things we have agreed ahead of time as a society that people are born with; civil rights are not negotiable, and you’re entitled to them regardless of your membership in a group that is unpopular at the moment.

Notice that Spotty did not say that civil rights are “God given,” because they are not. The natural law proponents are the ones who believe we should be governed by Leviticus and maybe the Book of Revelation. They believe they know what the Bibles says and what it prescribes for us all, whether we subscribe to their brand of tight-arsed asceticism or not.

But Spotty, doesn’t the Declaration of Independence refer to God-given rights?

Yes it does, grasshopper, but you need to keep a couple of things in mind. First of all, remember the audience to whom the Declaration was directed: King George III. Now, here’s a guy who believed in the divine right of kings, and the colonists were saying, No, sovereignty inheres in the people. Moreover, even though conservatives like to call the Declaration of Independence a “founding document,” is has no force of law in the United States.

The Constitution, on the other hand, which is the law of the land, is a pure “positive law” document. It says that the people got together and decided what’s what, all by themselves. There are only two references in the Constitution to religion. The first is a prohibition of a religious oath for office holders. The second is the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause (beloved by conservatives) and the Freedom From Religion Clause, somewhat better known as the Establishment Clause. (The history of the First Amendment and its antecedents in Virginia and the writings of, inter alia, Thomas Jefferson are too lengthy for Spot to go into here. If one is interested, Spot recommends Susan Jacoby’s excellent book Freethinkers.)

But Spotty digresses.

Major league players and owners are not a discrete and insular minority that ought to accorded the same kind of equal protection concern as civil rights. Let the people vote on a stadium tax. Maybe we’ll go for it. Who knows?

Tags:

The law of unintended consequences

Laura Billings has a column in yesterday's Pioneer Press that is definitely worth a read. Its title is Conscience clause for pharmacists could be bitter pill. You said it Laura. In the column, boys and girls, it is pointed out that the so-called conscience clause bill now under consideration has ramifications far beyond what most people (or "folks" as Katie might say!) think.

RU-486, the morning-after pill, and perhaps contraception first come to mind with respect to a pharmacist's "conscience." Bad as this is, it's not all. You can read the bill in its current form here.

As Billings points out, under the bill pharmacists could refuse to fill Viagara prescriptions for divorced men, or insulin for chubby patients with adult-onset diabetes, or prescriptions to combat sexually-transmitted diseases.

How about a pharmacist who thinks anti-depressants are over-prescribed? Or one who believes Lipitor is also a balm for poor life-style choices? This is plain nuts, boys and girls.

Since Spot is a shameless self-promoter, he wants you to read his posts about how we can make sure we don't educate sanctimonious twit pharmacists at public expense, and then Spot's new hymn for you to sing softly to yourself at the bus stop.

Link to Billings' column via the Power Liberal.

Tags:

Separated at birth II



Here we have Mona Charen, a syndicated columnist who appears from time-to-time in the Strib, and our very Katherine Kersten. Notice how the bug-eyed control freakism expresses itself in the hairdo.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

That sounds familiar

From the Sorcerer’s Apprentice’s new book, American Theocracy, on page 226:
Symptom number two [referring to attributes regimes that become increasingly theocratic], related to the first, involves the interplay of faith and science. What might be called the Roman disenlightenment has been well dissected in Charles Freeman's The Closing of the Western Mind (2002). He dwells on how Rome's fourth- and fifth-century Christian regimes closed famous libraries like the one in Alexandria, limited the availability of books, discarded the works of Aristotle and Ptolemy, and embraced the dismissal of Greek logicians set forth in the gospel of Paul [well, there is no gospel of Paul, but never mind]. To Freeman, the elevation of faith over logic stifled inquiry in the West- leaving the next advances to Arab mathematicians, doctors, and astronomers-and brought on intellectual stagnation." It is hard," he wrote, "to see how mathematics, science or associated disciplines that depended on empirical observations could have made any progress in this atmosphere." From the last recorded astronomical observation in 475, "it would be over 1,000 years-with the publication of Copernicus's De Revolutionibus in 1543-before these studies began to move ahead again."

Hapsburg Spain, a second empire immersed in Catholic theology, was equally hostile to scientific inquiry. The eminent British historian of Spain, J. H. Elliott, recounted the seventeenth-century episode when the Spanish government, deliberating over a vital canal project, assembled a junta of theologians who advised that if God had intended the rivers Tagus and Manzanares to be navigable, he would have made them so. Another historian of Iberia, Henry Kamen, quotes a visiting Italian noble- man in 1668 as saying that "the ignorance is immense and the sciences are held in horror.” Detailing how Spain relied on Italian and other foreign scholarship while importing needed technicians from other Catholic parts of Europe, Kamen summed up, "Spain remained prominent by its absence from the European intellectual and scientific scene. When the Royal Society of London in the 1660s began to organize its scientific links with European intellectuals, Spain did not feature. The puzzle, which still eludes any easy explanation, is why the most universal society of the globe, was unable, after centuries of imperial experience, to discourse on equal terms with other European nations that shared the same background.

Stop it Mr. Phillips; you’re creeping Spotty out! The parallels to the current antipathy toward evolution theory and science in general are obviously disturbing.


You know, if we send all our kids to religious schools as Jerry Falwell, Katie, John Brandl, and Captain Fishsticks really want, we’ll have to import all of our science, particularly life science, talent.

Incidentally, boys and girls, the quoted language is in a chapter named “Too Many Preachers” wherein Phillips discusses attributes of an imperial power in decline.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

Holy war equation!

From a columnist named Beth Quinn in upstate New York, on how the presidents of Iran and the US seem to be conspiring to kill us all:
One nut-job fundamentalist Christian plus one nut-job fundamentalist Muslim equals one nut-job Holy War.

You really should read the whole thing.

Via Buzzflash.

The plight of the business immigrant

Just as the Large Nasal Appendage formerly known as Scott Johnson predicted, our Katie – Katherine Kersten to the uninitiated – did her second consecutive immigration column Monday the 17th of April. Scotty must be clairvoyant, because so often he is able to tell us what Katie will be writing about! Well, probably not clairvoyant.

Spotty can see Katie and Scott chatting endlessly on the telephone, deciding what to wear to work tomorrow, Katie’s hair, and just what is, you know, like on their minds: the rilly rilly important stuff. Puppy love, or a middle-aged, calcified version of it, anyway.

Last week, we heard about the H-2A farm worker Jaco van Rooyen. Now, it’s the plight of the H1-B Saroj Aryal. Aryal graduated from Minnesota State @ Mankato who works as a software test engineer while pursuing an MBA at night. Katie writes:
Aryal is just the sort of ambitious, high-tech professional that Minnesota needs in order to compete in the global economy. "Minneapolis has a great intellectual climate," he says. "This is where I want to put down roots."

Well of course he does! Nepal is a third-world country on the brink of civil war. Aryal is finding, of course, that the adjustment of status to that of immigrant is a long and expensive process.

In between fits of xenophobia, US immigration policy has historically seen family reunification as one of its principal goals. Business immigration has always circled in a lesser orbit, and business interests have long chafed at limitations on access to foreign labor markets. Katie asks rhetorically:
Are these foreign workers taking American jobs? No. Before hiring them, employers must document that no qualified U.S. citizen is available.

Well, the
point is debated:
Because H-1B visas are good from three to six years, the number of H-1B foreign workers in the country at any point is the sum of those who have been admitted and remained within the last six years. In 2002, there were an estimated 710,000 H-1B holders in the United States.1 Although the H-1B program is meant to provide companies with labor unavailable in this country, no evidence exists of a worker shortage; to the contrary, the market is filled with laid off, unemployed American high tech workers.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that six percent of people in computer and mathematical occupations were unemployed in April 2003, or 194,000 people (a 25 percent jump from the 4.8 percent unemployment rate for the same time a year earlier). Overall high tech unemployment went from two percent in November 2001 to 5.5 percent one year later, and among computer programmers it went from 1.7 percent to 7.8 percent. The high tech industry employed ten percent fewer people in December 2002 than it did in January 2001. 4 Given the economic downturn and wider pool of available candidates, H-1B numbers should have fallen dramatically—but no such decrease has occurred.

The FAIR site linked above continues:

The temporary worker program is rife with fraud and abuse.

The INS conducted a study of 3,247 H-1B applicants who applied at an American consulate in India (Indians account for about half of all H-1B visas issued and were unable to verify the authenticity of almost 45 percent of the claims made on the petitions. Twenty-one percent of the work experience claims made to the INS were confirmed to be fraudulent.

A Department of Labor (DOL) audit found that 19 percent of H-1B workers were not even being paid the salaries promised by their employers on their labor application forms (which must be filed with the DOL in order for companies to receive permission to use H-1B workers). The audit found that employers use H-1B employees to get around prevailing wages and personnel costs and that the large-scale use of H-1B workers lowers the level of wages in the affected professions.

Now the thing is, you see, Spotty is kind of a free trade and pro-immigration dog. But he thinks the debate should be conducted on the basis of facts, not Katie’s slogans about competition and economic survival. There are more things at stake in the debate and more interests to be considered than Katie would lead you to believe. What a surprise.

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Friday, April 14, 2006

Yost IS Toast!

Confirming Spot's prognostication, the Pioneer Press is one Yost lighter. City Pages has some of the details. (Spot was first, however, with the story.)

Is Yost Toast?

The Pioneer Press circulated a memo internally yesterday saying that Jim Ragsdale and
Don Effenberger (two Pi Press staffers) had been temporarily assigned to editorial page duties. The rumors are flying - and for now that's what they are - that associate editorial page editor Mark Yost is OUT.

You will rember, boys and girls, that Yost was the guy who took on his Knight Ridder colleagues - always among the most courageous media reporting in Iraq - for their negative reporting about Iraq. Now, there's no more Knight Ridder, and maybe no more Yost!

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Wait a minute!

Wait just a darn minute! Spot has some second thoughts about Jaco Van Rooyen, Katie’s latest crush that she wrote about yesterday in her column Start immigration reform with those who follow the law. Spot had some comments yesterday. Spot got to thinking – always a seditious thing to do – coupled it with a little knowledge of immigration law, applied the Rule of Probability, and concluded there are probably some things to ol’ Jaco’s story (he’s actually 22) that don’t meet the eye.

Here’s the setup from Katie. Kristie and Marlyn Seidler, a heterosexual couple and ranchers north of Bismarck, North Dakota, need a ranch hand. They look far and wide, high and low, and Jaco Van Rooyen reads their ad in the Transvaal Times and is the only one to respond. (Spot made up the part about the Transvaal Times.) The Seidlers hire Jaco, paying a small fortune for lawyers to get him into the country as a temporary worker each year.

Now, the Seidlers want to take Van Rooyen on full time, year around and want to “adjust” his status. (A status adjustment is the term used in immigration law to move from a temporary to a permanent, or immigrant, visa.) And they find out that Jaco will have to wait maybe five years! Oh the criminal insanity of it! But Jaco plays by the rules; he’s a good boy and he’ll go back when his temporary visa is up?

Spotty, why can’t Van Rooyen come back on a temporary visa every year, until his number comes up for a permanent visa?

It’s apples and oranges, grasshopper. If you enter with a temporary visa, you cannot be an intending immigrant at the time. So, when he makes a move to get a permanent visa, he signals that he is an intending immigrant and he’s not eligible for a temporary visa. There are a lot of things in immigration law right out of Kafka.

Spot’s memory does not run to a time when this wasn’t the rule.

But here’s the part where you, boys and girls, need to decide if Jaco’s case is quite as hard luck as Katie would have you believe. What is the probability that a kid raised on a farm in South Africa is the only person on the planet who wants to be a farm hand in North Dakota? Spot thinks that the probability is pretty low.

If Spotty was a betting dog, he would bet that the Seidlers had a specific motivation to employ Jaco and bring him into the country. Maybe he’s a distant relation; maybe he and the Seidlers hold similar peculiar religious views; maybe Jaco is especially useful to Marlyn in his dirt track auto racing. Marlyn reports in Katie’s story that Jaco is mighty handy at fixing things, perhaps like dirt track cars!

And this is the way the game is often played, boys and girls. If you have an alien in mind who you want to bring over, and you’re willing to spend the money to do it, you may be able, with good legal counsel, to write a job description that, say, only a lonely boy on the Transvaal can fill. There is really no other explanation for going to another hemisphere for a farm hand.

You gotta watch that Katie; she's nothing if not a spinmeister!

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Katie has a crush

On a hunky white South African, Jaco van Rooyen. In Katie’s words in her column today:
Jaco van Rooyen, a 22-year-old South African immigrant worker, hasn't been out there waving a sign [in the recent immigration demonstrations]. He's a legal immigrant playing by the rules. In short, he's a forgotten man.

A white guy who plays by the rules is enough to make Katie feel all warm and even fuzzier.

This guy’s problem is that he didn’t follow the advice of every immigration lawyer to every immigrant here on a temporary work or student visa: fall in love with and marry a citizen. Maybe he’s gay and can’t get married! Although Katie wouldn’t write about him if she thought Jaco was gay.

Spot is already tired of writing about Katie’s dreck and recommends that you read the Wege for a full report.

Tags: bleats again on

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No pill, no subsidy

Here's an idea. Pharmacy students will tell you that it's pretty expensive to go to pharmacy school. But the students only pay a part of it; society picks up the rest of the tab because we need pharmacists to count the pills, agitate the bromides, emulsify the elixers, and do whatever else pharmacists do.

Presently, there are some pharmacists who are agititing for a "conscience clause," that would permit them to refrain from dispensing prescriptions to which they have moral objection. The bill presently in the hopper - at least in the Minnesota House - is not limited to any one type of drug or device, but it is pretty clear that birth control pills and the "morning after pill" are the principal objects. Spot even wrote a little doggerel about it in his last post.

Here's what we do: ask entering pharmacy students if there are classes of drugs, like birth control, that the students wouldn't dispense. If they don't sign up to be a full-service provider, the state would not subsidize their pharmacy school education.

We could probably raise some money for a new stadium at the U this way!

To deal with pharmacists who "develop a conscience" after graduation, we could have a claw-back system for the subsidy.

This could work, people.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Onward, Christian Pharmacists!

Sung to the tune, of course, of Onward, Christian Soldiers

Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.
Who needs modern chemistry, when they had a vision?
Everyone using birth control should land themselves in prison.


Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.


Keep the torches burning, let not sunlight in,
Let the white hot torches burn out all sin.
Stand behind their counters, dressed in pious white,
Anyone who wants the Pill, they will surely smite.


Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.


They believe the Ancients, not Academie,
Their belief is not in science but rather alchemy.
Rapists should be daddies too, to
hell with womens’ needs!
Too bad if we harm a few, got to save those seeds!


Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.


One the kid is born, they no longer care,
Just be sure the little tyke's not society’s to bear!
Now the druggist’s job is done, and his conscience clear,
Rest in peace apothecary, angels hover near.


Onward, Christian Pharmacists, wrapped in piety,
Foisting their morality onto you and me.



Dedicated to Tom Emmer and the Minnesota House Health Policy and Finance Committee

Tony's road to Damascus

In the funniest scales-falling incident in recent memory, Tony at Always Right, Usually Correct pours out his calcified little heart about the state of the Republican Party. Spotty only found out about it by reading a post at the Power Liberal. There are several comments to both posts, a giant kum ba yah of commiseration, therapy, and derision. Guess which one Spot will contribute.

Tony is disillusioned and washes his hands of the Republicans because, as best as Spot is able to determine, Tony has figured out that the Republicans are mostly about trying to win elections, not ethics. This apparent epiphany has shaken Tony to his core.

Republicans have been good at targeting the moralists, the true believers, the anal-retentive, the people who want to carry every human transaction out to ten decimal places. The chumps, in other words.

Tony, the rapture ain’t gonna happen, either. There is no Easter Bunny (but there is a tooth fairy). Your life-long search for the Absolute Truth, the Holy Grail, is just moral laziness, an unwillingness to study ethical dilemmas, moral uncertainty, and religious doubt. Congratulations, Tony, a little thinking finally broke through. You have a lot of work ahead of you.

Spotty has seen this all before. Spot’s Dutch Calvinist grandma was a huge Richard Nixon fan. She had an autographed picture of Nixon on an end table in her living room. After Watergate, the picture wasn’t removed, it was just placed under the table where it peered up at visitors from its berber purgatory.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Katie doesn't want 'em to vote

One of Spot’s really good friends was a poll watcher on an Indian reservation during the last presidential election. He said it was a very interesting experience, especially as it related to the issue of voter registration.

Katie writes about voter registration in her usual nuanced way today in It's much too easy to vote illegally in Minnesota. Here are Katie’s breathless opening graphs:
Which of the following do you need to register to vote in Minnesota?

A driver's license? Some form of government-issued ID that proves your identity and residence? Proof of American citizenship?

Wrong on all counts. In Minnesota, you can register on election day without showing poll workers one piece of paper. All you need is a "voucher" -- a person registered to vote in that precinct who is willing to sign a sworn statement that you live there.

Let’s start out with a simple proposition: if you are a citizen of legal age, and you live in the precinct, you’re entitled to vote. (There are some limitations for things like mental competence, offender status, etc., but not many.) That’s true whether you live in a homeless shelter, a battered-womens’ shelter, an Indian reservation, or on Chantry Road in Edina.

In the case of the shelters, the voter might have some ID, but it has the wrong address, and there won’t be any utility bills to prove the address of the voter. In these cases, a “voucher,” often a shelter employee, can be the only way to verify the residence of the voter.

Similarly, assume you are a young adult in a multi-generational household on an Indian reservation. You don’t have a driver’s license or the state ID that you have to go in and pay for, maybe you have a tribal ID but maybe you don't, and since you live at home, utility bills don’t get sent to you – that is assuming that your family has any utilities supplied that you have to pay for. If someone doesn’t vouch for you, you won’t get to vote.

This latter situation happened a couple of times in the observation of Spot’s friend the poll watcher. In each case, there was always a neighbor who said “oh yeah, that’s so-and-so’s kid; he still lives at home.” In one case, the “voucher” was the chief election judge, a white woman, vouching for a native kid. Spot’s friend says that will always be a prized memory for him. There are many other perfectly legitimate scenarios like this.

People who live on Chantry Road? Well, they can take care of themselves.

Which of these people does Katie want to deny the franchise? You know the answer, boys and girls.

As far as same day registration is concerned, it saves a lot of people who recently moved, or who are not engaged enough in politics to seek to or maintain a registration in advance of election day. Often, people think they are registered when they are not. A registration will lapse if you miss a couple of elections, even if you don’t move. As Spot understands it, a lot can depend on the zealotry – and maybe the politics – of the County Auditor.

Same day registration preserves the franchise for a lot of people, which is partly why Minnesota leads the nation in voter turnout, election after election.

Remember, both the voter and the voucher have to affirm, under penalty of perjury, that the voter is a resident of the precinct. And the voucher already has to be registered, also with an address in the precinct.

Why are Katie and Kiffmeyer shrieking in terror about voter fraud, even when it is demonstrably not a problem in Minnesota, anyway? Guess.

Tags: shrieks

Sunday, April 09, 2006

It's okay by Tony

There has been considerable honking and bleating over l’affaire de johnson, the conversations that Dean Johnson had with a member or members of the Minnesota Supreme Court over DOMA, or the Defense of Marriage Act. Captain Fishsticks was his own cottage industry of outrage; Katie of course contributed her own brand of bile in a column that Spot discussed in The feces-flinging monkey. The pièce de résistance, however, was attorney and Republican Greg Wersal’s filing of a complaint against members of the Court.

How ironic, how incongruous, how just plain silly is it that Greg Wersal filed a complaint against judges for discussing issues or positions? Think Katherine Kersten, our dear Katie, writing a book, Opus Dei: a Sinister Cult. Think Osama bin Laden making toasts at a Crusader veterans picnic. Think Johnny Rocketseed . . . well, you get the drift.

You see, Greg Wersal has been a litigating fool on behalf of getting parties and politics into the judiciary for years. Spot wrote a little about it in the link above. And Wersal has actually done pretty well for himself and the Republican Party. In the first case, Republican Party, et al. v. White, (Wersal being one of the et als.), the US Supreme Court reversed an Eighth Circuit holding which upheld Minnesota’s ban on the discussion of substantive legal issues by candidates for judicial posts.

Here’s Justice Scalia writing for the 5-4 majority about the state of the law prior to the decision in Repubs v.White:
The short of the matter is this: In Minnesota, a candidate for judicial office may not say “I think it is constitutional for the legislature to prohibit same-sex marriages.” He may say the very same thing, however, up until the very day before he declares himself a candidate, and may say it repeatedly (until litigation is pending) after he is elected. [italics are Spot’s]

If you think that Tony’s choice of an example is a coincidence, you haven’t been paying attention, boys and girls. It is Scalia’s view that it is perfectly OK for judges to talk about DOMA and their views on it so long as there is no litigation pending before the judge. Well, of course, that’s Scalia’s view; he does it all time, in public.

Now Spot doesn’t think this is such a hot idea, but it comes from the tribe that Wersal is in. And we’ll indulge Wersal in the presumption that he has read and perhaps even understood the opinion in his own case. So let’s apply the rule to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Is there DOMA litigation in front of the Court? Nope. No problem; end of story. Wersal’s complaint is a titanic hypocrisy.

Nor is this the end of Wersal’s mischief. Katie discussed a second Wersalian endeavor in a post discussed by Spotty here. In that case, the Eighth Circuit held that judicial candidates could run with party endorsement and with the assistance of political parties. Representative Steve Simon’s recent effort to at least stem the tide of money into judicial elections went nowhere.

The arc of this story is already described, and you, boys and girls, can see what the likely ending will be.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Kevin Phillips, that is. Author Phillips is in the middle of a book tour promoting his latest book, American Theoracy. He was in town several days ago and made some remarks at a book signing. His book and his remarks are insightful, and not merely because they agree with Spot.

The subtitle of the book is The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century. Phillips is sharply critical of the role of oil and Christian fundamentalism in the Republican party, saying that the party is the first religious party in the United States. Phillips writes some worrying things, and seems genuinely worried himself, about the chokehold that oil and religion have on politics in the United States.

The ironic things is that Phillips' first book, The Emerging Republican Majority, was used by Richard Nixon and Phillips himself to forge the Republican "southern strategy" that helped the Republicans secure the electoral base that Phillips finds so troublesome today.

Spotty supposes this is a case of it being important to be careful what you wish for, or in Phillips case, perhaps pray for!

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Out of towner wins Spotty

Dan Dewalt of Nefane, Vermont wins a Spotty for this commentary that appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune today, Sunday, April 9th. A Spotty is awarded when a person pens a letter to the editor, commentary, blog post or comment, or otherwise expresses him or herself with a way that Spot wishes he had. [cash value 1/20th cent]
Why our small town called for Bush to be impeached
The worst failing of any nation is for its citizens no longer to scrutinize their government.

Dan Dewalt

On March 7, the townspeople of Newfane, Vt., crowded the 19th-century Union Hall for their annual town meeting -- one of America's last expressions of direct democracy. As the wood stove warmed the old hall, the voters dealt with town matters, and then turned to a resolution of national importance. When the debate ended, the Newfane citizens overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling for Congress to initiate impeachment proceedings against President George W. Bush -- a vote also passed by four other Vermont towns that day.

Now as calls for impeachment begin to be heard across America, some, especially those in the elite media establishment, belittle our efforts, writing them off as merely political, spurious or at best premature. They ask, what right do small Vermont towns have to weigh in on a question of such magnitude? Who are we to cast our sights beyond the demands of our roads, bridges or annual school budget? As a Vermont citizen and a Newfane town selectman, I'd like to respond.

Vermonters are asking a different set of questions. We see boys and girls, men and women from across our state, falling one by one, to come home for somber burial or partial rehabilitation. We see that the torture of captives has become official administration policy, and as a result our nation is now reviled and despised across the globe. We see an administration that spies upon our Quaker pacifists in the name of fighting "terror." We see a crumbling national infrastructure, inept and underequipped to respond to natural disasters, and heavier financial burdens placed upon those who can least afford it, all because of the hundreds of billions of dollars being drained by this administration's failing effort to place its crusading imprint upon an unwilling people who had nothing to do with the terrorism that has been visited upon us.

A growing number of patriotic Americans from coast to coast have joined Vermonters in asking: If it's not a crime to lie to the nation about Iraq's ties to 9/11, and use those lies to instigate a war, contrary to international law, what is? If warrantless wiretapping of Americans, in direct violation of the FISA Act of 1978, is not a crime, what is? If breaking our treaty obligations with respect to the treatment of military and civilian prisoners -- obligations which, according to our Constitution, are to be the supreme law of the land -- is not a crime, what is?

We ask how any American loyal to the Constitution and the laws that make us a nation could not call for a complete congressional investigation into the alleged crimes of this administration. How can any American with a sense of morality, anyone who professes to adhere to religious principles, not insist that the deceit and the violence must cease?

Every day, our moral standing in the eyes of the world is further debased. Every day that we acquiesce to these actions of our government, we debase ourselves and make ourselves unfit to be called Americans.

The worst failing of any nation is for its citizens to no longer scrutinize their government. Today, whether because of apathy, distraction or exhaustion, we are not paying attention. It will be at our peril if our awakening comes only after the government has consolidated its hold on power, and we find that scrutiny is no longer an option.

Dan DeWalt is a woodworker and selectboard member in the town of Newfane, Vt. (pop. 1,680), and the author of a successful town resolution calling for the impeachment of President Bush.


Tags: speaks out on the

Friday, April 07, 2006

Cock-a-doodle-do?

Just for the record, dogs can't crow.

For those of you coming from Bloghouse, this is perhaps what you are looking for, although Spot recommends just reading your way down there.

The law in the air

More confusion from one of Spotty’s favorite avatars of social Darwinist hunter-gatherism. Spot refers, of course, to Captain Fishsticks. Sticks is still smarting from the defeat of private and religious school vouchers in a Minnesota House committee. For a salve to his wounds, Sticks puts up a post that reprints a tract by David W. Kirkpatrick, Senior Education Fellow at the US Freedom Foundation. And a powerful belch it is.

The center piece of Kirkpatrick’s treatise is Pierce v. Society of the Sisters, decided June 1, 1925; June 1st is now Education Freedom Day according to Kirkpatrick! The quote from the opinion that the vouchers crowd loves is the following, sort of quoted by Kirkpatrick:
The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.

Stirring. Really stirring. Spotty can see Sticks reading this with shining eyes. Maybe it’s just eyestrain.

Boys and girls, the use of that quotation by the vouchers crowd is an example of what Spotty calls “the law in the air.” That is, taking some pronouncement in a opinion, entirely divorced from the facts upon which the case is decided, and offering it as proof that the law is something entirely different. It’s kind of like picking Bible verses that support you.

In this case, what was challenged was an Oregon plan that required that children attend public school Suit was brought by a religious school and a military academy. In an opinion by Justice McReynolds – one of the genuine dimwits to serve on the Court, by the way – struck the law down. Kirkpatrick tells us that the holding has never been challenged. Yawn.

The case means nothing – zero, zip, zilch, nada – if the issue is public support for private educational institutions. Want to send your kids to an inferior private or religious school? Fine, just don’t expect to suckle at the public teat to do it.

By the way, boys and girls, the case was decided on the largely discredited grounds of so-called substantive due process. This was sort of government playing Captain May I? with the Court. Some of the vice-like minds on the Court, including the aforementioned Justice McReynolds, believed that the 14th amendment gave the Court the power to void legislation when that legislation seemed like a bad idea to the Court.

Comparatively speaking, today’s “judicial activists” are just pretenders.

Tags: has an oral fixation on