Thursday, June 29, 2006

Somali Mafia paralyzes Minneapolis!

So says Katie today in a column titled Newcomer fights city’s taxi cartel and may triumph. According to Katie and her economic freedom holy man Nick Dranias, the only solution to finding a cab for a blind Hispanic woman at K Mart on Lake Street is to throw out the entire licensing system for Minneapolis cabs. A perfect social Darwinist hunter gatherer solution!

The raison d’être for the numerical limitation of cab licenses in the city of Minneapolis is, of course, as Katie describes it:
Defenders of Minneapolis' limit say that it ensures a living wage for drivers and a viable business for cab company owners, and also minimizes traffic congestion and pollution.

But Dranias says:
"Minneapolis has an outmoded system of regulating cabs," says Nick Dranias, an institute staff attorney. "But current cab companies love it, because it inflates their profits and keeps competitors out."

Dranias sums up the problem this way: Minneapolis arbitrarily caps regular taxi licenses at 343, creating a government-sanctioned cartel.

A cartel? OPEC is a cartel. The Minneapolis cab licensing system may need some adjustment, but it is hysterical rhetoric to call it a cartel. To people like Katie and Dranias, government can’t do anything that is truly in the public interest, perhaps with the exception of invading Iraq and spending us into oblivion.

And running a cab in Minneapolis is obviously so lucrative; that’s why the Somali drivers have apparently cornered the market. No wonder everyone wants in!

Spotty says don’t discount the pollution and congestion concern. In Spot’s suburb, virtually anybody can be licensed to haul trash. Spot’s collection day is Monday, and the clunking and crashing of a literal battalion of garbage trucks starts at 7:30 AM, and maneuvers are not finished until afternoon. Does Spot enjoy cheap garbage collection? Take a guess.

Supreme Court stuns Johnny Rocketseed!

Johnny Rocketseed says today:
In what strikes me as an upset, the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the D.C. Circuit and ruled in favor of Guantanamo detainee Salim Ahmed Hamdan.

Of course you’re upset, Johnny, because now the detainees at Guantanamo are going to get something resembling a day in court – which they might actually even be able to attend – rather than languishing in purgatory for as long as George Bush and his factotums see fit.

In one of the funniest “sour grapes” statements that Spot has seen in a while, Johnny concludes with this:
For now, the one apparent implication of Hamdan is that hundreds of Guantanamo detainees will become participants in the American judicial system. If they thought Gitmo has been a strange and disorienting experience, they haven't seen anything yet.

It’s always nice when an officer of the court speaks so highly of the system!

Boys and girls, you should have no illusion that the matter is settled. There is a constitutional crisis brewing. Listen to Bush’s careful parsing of words in commenting on the decision:
President Bush today said that he would comply with the ruling and would work with Congress "to have a military tribunal to hold people to account'' that would meet the Court's objections.

But he stressed his determination not to release suspected terrorists merely because the administration's tribunals had been rejected.

“The ruling won’t cause killers to be put out on the streets,’’ he said. "I'm not going to jeopardize the safety of the American people.'' [italics are Spot’s]

The majority ruling was written by Justice John Paul Stevens, who was joined in parts of it by Justices David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion.

Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel J. Alito Jr. dissented. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. did not take part in the case, since he had ruled in favor of the government as an appeals court justice last year.

What does that mean exactly? Does it mean that Bush intends to hang on to people even if they are cleared by a court or tribunal having minimal standards of due process, just because he thinks they might have done something but the administration can’t come within a country mile of proving it? Spot believes that is exactly what Bush means.

Spotty says dust off your copies of Marbury v. Madison, boys and girls, because you’re going to need it.


Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Have a good patriotic cry

This is just the kind of crap that Spot was talking about in his last post.

Image from the Dependable Renegade.

Have a seat, Senator Dayton

Senator Mark Dayton, who is a genuinely good egg, has made a couple of major, misguided votes in recent days. The first one was against either of the proposed Senate resolutions to recommend a troop withdrawal from Iraq. Even General Casey would have probably voted for one of them!

Now, word comes that Senator Dayton voted for the flag burning constitutional amendment. Luckily, this affront to the First Amendment fell short of passage - by one vote. Passage would have sent the proposed amendment to the states for ratification, since the House has already passed it.. If ratified by the states, the amendment would permit the Congress to make "desecration" of the U.S. flag a crime.

Jeebus Christmas, even Joe "Jo-memtum" Lieberman voted against the amendment. As did Hillary "the Triangulator" Clinton.

Senator Dayton says that his trips to the American cemeteries in Normandy influenced his thinking.

Dayton has said that he was swayed by two 1999 trips to the American cemetery at Normandy Beach in France. In announcing his support for the amendment in March 2001, he said, "Surely, that supreme sacrifice should be sanctified, honored, respected and forever made inviolate."

Spotty's Pop had a different view. Pop, who had comrades in arms in those cemeteries, was disgusted by efforts to hijack the flag for a political agenda. In the waning days of his life, Pop complained bitterly about the pompous and bilious Henry Hyde's use of flag imagery to advocate for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Pop remarked that he didn't remember seeing Henry on the beach.

Bill Frist's bringing up the vote just before the Fourth of July was no coincidence. This is knavery in its purest form. The First Amendment is more important than any piece of cloth made up as a flag and burned - or any flag image made into shirt, bibs, or underwear.

When you make the symbol an article of veneration, rather than the underlying principle which it represents, you have erected a graven image.

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Sometimes a cigar

Sometimes a cigar is just all you have to work with.


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Photo from the Dependable Renegade.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Don't worry, Sticks!

First, it's Katie choking on her own bile. Now, it's Captain Fishsticks going all apoplectic on us over a meaningless campaign stunt by Governor Timmy:

This is one of those “I got to read it twice because I must be missing something” stories. Governor Pawlenty cannot possibly be this out of touch.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty laid out a proposal Tuesday to have the state pick up two years or more of college tuition for students who are in the top 25 percent of their graduating class or score above a certain level on a college entrance exam. The offer would apply to graduates who go to a public university in the state.
Let’s try it again real slow like -- the number one education problem in the state of Minnesota is not the affordability or lack of funds for college. The number one problem is a the large percentage of kids that graduate from public schools are not ready for college, especially children of color.
Sticks sounds as if he thinks Timmy is serious! And by the way Sticks, shouldn't that be I've got to read it twice . . . ? Then Sticks trots out the arithmetic that he is famous for and tells how many tykes could go to private school with that same money!

You have to give Sticks credit, he sticks (so to speak) to his private school rant through thick and thin. It doesn't matter what the problem is. Too much traffic congestion? Private schools. Second-hand smoke? Private schools. Civil war in Iraq? Private schools. As one of Spot's scholarly friends might say, Methinks he doth bark too much.

Sticks just wants to lay a deeper systemic, societal problem at the door or the public schools to try to justify killing them. He and Katie are alike in this. But in spite of all their babbling, private schools are an inferior way to educate children.

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Is "net neutrality" a good thing?

The University of Minnesota thinks so.

Telecommunications and "Net Neutrality"

Congress has begun debate on yet another omnibus telecommunications policy bill. One issue that has caught the interest of the higher education community is that of "net neutrality." Specifically, whether owners of broadband networks should be able to sell preferential treatment or access to enhanced levels of service.

The principle of net neutrality requires telephone and cable companies to operate their high-speed networks in a nondiscriminatory manner that gives equal treatment to similar types of Internet traffic. Net neutrality is important to universities in delivering multimedia instructional materials and in developing next-generation, Internet-based technologies.

A number of different proposals are circulating in both the House and Senate. The Association of American Universities (AAU) has been following the debate closely. Like AAU and most other universities, the University of Minnesota strongly believes that Congress should require broadband carriers to operate open platforms and not create tiers of service and accessibility.

An AAU letter on this topic is available on line at

This is from the University of Minnesota: Federal Relations website.

So, the U. is in favor of net neutrality. How is the Minnesota Congressional delegation doing on this one? Well, all of the Democrats in the House voted for net neutrality; every Republican voted against it. That's Gil Gutknecht, John Kline, Spot's representative Jimbo Ramstad, and Mark "the winds of change" Kennedy, who of course wants to be a Senator.

How about the Senate, Spotty?

I'm glad you asked, grasshopper. As of a few days ago, anyway, Josh Marshall reported that both Senators Coleman and Dayton had their fingers in the wind. You know what to do, boys and girls.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Retired clergy win a Spotty!

A Spotty is awarded for this Commentary in last Saturday's Star Tribune.
As retired United Methodist clergy, we are extremely disturbed by the comments of columnist Katherine Kersten about our church ("Methodists' focus on activism may be clearing out pews," June 5). They distort facts and disparage the work of our faith communities.

United Methodists continue to converse on the issues discussed at our recent annual conference. Human sexuality is not an issue of "church leadership vs. the pew." The 1,000 lay and clergy voters at the conference session represented every United Methodist congregation in Minnesota.

Regarding human sexuality, our church's Social Principles state, "sexuality is God's good gift to all persons ... . we call all persons to the disciplined, responsible fulfillment of themselves, others, and society in the stewardship of this gift ... . we recognize that God challenges us to find responsible, committed, and loving forms of expression."

We ask: So why did Katherine Kersten write inflammatory commentaries regarding conversations about which she was not even a part? Why did she make inaccurate and misleading comments about our church and its leaders?

Kersten has long been listed on its website as an advisory board member of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a right-wing political action group that has been working for the last 25 years to discredit the social witness of three mainline denominations -- the United Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopal churches.

Its reports on our sermons and meetings seem designed to encourage division in our congregations. The IRD is funded by far-right political foundations and persons such as Richard Scaife and Adolph Coors.

In other words, Kersten not only has strong personal biases behind what she says in her columns, but she has been closely aligned with a political action group with an agenda contrary to the social teachings of mainline churches.

Kersten's role as columnist should not give her license to take statements out of context and recklessly wage conflict against mainline Protestant denominations. If her calling is to pursue the truth, it is imperative that she disclose her ties, past and present, to right-wing organizations such as the IRD.

We are not a fundamentalist church. We do not seek to impose our will on one another or on those who are not part of our community. We dare to look for the presence of God in every person we meet; indeed, we embrace the diversity of God's creation.

Our communion table is open to all persons "who wish to live a new life, following in the ways of the Lord Jesus Christ."

That may open us to the scorn and ridicule of Katherine Kersten. So be it! Persons of faith have been scorned before. We do not apologize for daring to address the many critical issues of our day.

John Soderberg, Eagan; Jeanne Audrey Powers, Minneapolis; Lyle Christianson, Golden Valley, and Betty Lundeen, New Brighton, are retired UMC clergy.

Amen, brothers and sisters! The insightful Media Transparency also comments on Kersten's buffoonery:
Last year the Mpls Star Tribune hired a director and fellow of the Center of the American Experiment (CAE), a Twin Cities Republican propaganda outfit, as a general news columnist, after she was fired from the paper's op-ed page, even though she had zero experience as a journalist. Kersten was hired as a columnist after a former head of the Minnesota Republican Party who was CEO of a local bank threatened and then removed his bank's ads from the newspaper, this after another columnist criticized him.
Now, in typical Kersten fashion, she has smeared the United Methodist Church with attacks in concert with the unethical and nasty Institute on Religion and Democracy, where she sits on the advisory board.
Also, the prime contention of Kersten in her column on the United Methodists was that they are losing members because of their social witness beliefs, which is a lie. Proven social science research has shown the UMC's declining membership is due to a lower birth rate, which Kersten either deliberately ignored or didn't take the time to research.
Spot has already commented on this in Katie bashes religion.
Remember, boys and girls, a Spotty is awarded to someone who publishes a letter to the editor, commentary, blog post, or blog post comment that Spot wishes that he had made.
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Mr. Tice come quick!

Mister Tice come quick!

What’s the matter Lileks?

It’s Katie, I mean Katherine Kersten. She’s slumped over her Underwood!

Oh my God! Lileks, run and get Anders and meet me at Katie’s desk! Go!

Doug Tice hurries over to Kersten’s desk and finds a crowd is gathering there. The atmosphere is, well, festive.

Make room! Give her some air! bellows Tice. He rushes to Kersten’s desk and she is indeed slumped over her typewriter, apparently not breathing. Anders, who has now joined them, says Let’s get her off this typewriter on to the floor! Maybe that’ll help. They lay Katie carefully out on the coffee-stained newsroom floor, and peer cautiously, and expectantly, into her face. An ellipse of curious heads forms around Kersten’s prostrate form.

Kersten is even grayer than usual, and after a few moments, it is clear that some intervention is required. Who knows how to perform CPR? shouts Anders. In response there is a scraping and scuffing of shoes and everyone in the crowd takes a couple of steps back. Anders say to Tice, You do it!

Me? I’m not gonna do it. You do it! replies Tice.

I’m not gonna do it! Anders says, and then adds Let’s get Coleman!

Just then, Nick Coleman saunters out of the men’s room where he had been composing a cable to Crawford. What’s the fuss? he asks. Coleman, get over here and help Katie! bellows Anders. So Coleman walks over and gives Katie’s prostrate form a glance. Help me get her on her feet! Coleman orders.

What? Are you crazy? says Anders. Humor me – for once, replies Coleman. So, Anders, Tice, and Coleman struggle to erect a vertical Katie. When they do, Coleman circles behind Katie, puts his arms around her waist, cinches them tight, and gives a mighty heave upward and backward.

There is a rumbling and a shaking in the room and the lights seem to dim just briefly. Then with a mighty explosive foom, Katie ejects a baseball-sized bilious green viscous blob that hits Tice in the chest, knocking him over. The air pressure in the room drops noticeably as Katie draws her first breath in a couple of minutes. Somebody sets her in a chair where she wheezes nosily until her normal pallor returns.

How did you know what to do? asks Anders. Pretty easy, replies Coleman. You see, I know that Katie was writing a column condemning 200 wealthy Minnesotans for taking an ad in the paper last week suggesting that the state raise income taxes. She had to be choking on her own bile. I hear it almost happened to Captain Fishsticks over at the Pioneer Press too!


Friday, June 23, 2006

Senators, it's FUBAR

Spot has good news and bad news for Flash at Centrisity. The good news, Spot hopes, is that Censtrisity has been added to the blogroll on the right. The bad news is that Spot disagrees vociferously with Flash about a recent post of his.

Flash notes with approval that Minnesota’s two senators seem to agree about Iraq! Neither wants to set a timetable for withdrawal. Yeah, they are both completely clueless! Flash says we need to stay and finish what we started. That’s the kind of advice you give your third grader when she makes a mess with construction paper and paste and doesn’t want to finish her project for art class. Good advice in principle, but wholly inapplicable to the situation in Iraq.

The US needs to come to grips with the fact that we created the chaos in Iraq, and that it is not within our power to fix it. It is entirely FUBAR. Generations of Americans will have to live with the guilt of the mess we made in Iraq, and sacrificing thousands more of American’s youth on the altar of our guilt won’t change that. There was perhaps a window of opportunity in Iraq, but it closed years ago.

According to news reports on the radio, even the new Iraqi government wants us out.

But Spotty, what about the GWOT?

Ask yourself, grasshopper, has terrorism become less of a threat since we invaded Iraq? Or has it increased? You know the answer to that.

George Bush has made the biggest strategic blunder in American history, and now, Minnesota’s two senators are just enablers.

They're all dead!

Well, Goober must have finally shot all the squirrels on his wooded Afton property and needs money to buy food. That’s the only explanation for Captain Fishsticks’ post They don’t need it, but the rest of us do.

Sticks is reacting to the Thursday advertisement described by WCCO in a web story Wealthy Minnesotans: We’ll Pay More Taxes. In the ad, 200 wealthy Minnesotans took a full-page ad in the Strib saying it was time for a modest increase in the State’s income tax. The burden of the increase proposed was small and falling on higher-income wage earners, including the aforesaid 200 wealthy Minnesotans.

Sticks gives the laundry list of all the socially useful things these wealthy people could do if they just hung on to their money:
If they spend it, it flows back into the economy at full value. For example, if they buy a $700,000 home, they get a $700,000 home. If the government collects $700,000 and builds seven homes, each home will be a less than the expected $100,000 because of government taking its administrative cut and the inefficiencies of bureaucratic functioning. [italics are Spot’s]

If they save it, that money becomes available for others to borrow and either spend, same results as above less the cost of interest, or invest in a business. The latter increases the value of the money more than simply spending it. The rich guys may not need their interest, but the rest of us need the jobs created by the new businesses borrowing the money or the increased business generated by consumer borrowing.

If they directly invest it in a business, again wealth is created. All those seniors living on 401Ks and retirement funds benefit from a healthly stock market.

All standing in sharp contrast to that black hole of gummit spending!

Well, our luckless squirrel hunting friend may be many things, but an economist he is not. Let’s see if Spotty has this straight, Sticks: if a rich person spends a dollar, it’s good, if the government spends a dollar, it’s less. Just by spending that dollar, the government makes part of it dissolve? This is, of course, just so much trickle-down horse puckey. Income disparities in this country are greater than at any time since the Gilded Age. (Look it up; Spot’s busy.)

And don’t you just love Sticks’ first example, how it’s better to permit the rich man to build his $700K house than house seven families at “less” that $100K each? Let them eat cake! Sticks was using this example to try to illustrate that dollars shrink in government washing, but it is a great insight into his priorities. And government’s administrative cut? That money doesn’t evaporate; it is spent on employment and the purchase of goods and services. Sticks, you could also ask Dick Cheney if public spending creates wealth!

It is also a fact that state income taxes are deducitible from income for federal tax purposes, making it a cheaper way (not to mention more progressive way) for the state to raise money than say, sales taxes (which are, in the main, not deductible) or some "fees."

Now Sticks, Spotty has never met a dollar he didn’t like. But Spot is smart enough to know that some level of public spending on things like infrastructure and education pays handsome dividends to the State. It is regrettable that you are so alienated from the society you live in, and so self-absorbed, that you can’t see that.

Tags: tries to explain

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

J. Ewingism

Where’s the outrage, and how do we channel it? asks Sticks. The answer of course, dear Sticks, is kill more ‘Raquis. That will surely do it! In a post today, Sticks echoes with approval the question of Mark Kennedy on the US House floor: where is the outrage over the death and mutilation of two US soldiers in Iraq?

And then, one of the powerful intellects, named J. Ewing, who comments at Sticks’ place says this:
I suggest that, as Rep. Kennedy suggests, we start by silencing those useless idiots who insist that there is some sort of moral equivalency between "us" and "them." They should be laughed off the public stage, criticized at every opportunity, and the media that give them prominence should be convinced that there are consequences, at least financial, for sedition.

This is undoubtedly some of intellectual superiority that the right brings to bear in the blogosphere that Sticks was talking about! Spot is so humbled; he just doesn’t know what to say! Well, actually he does.

The clown-like J. Ewing, whoever he is, is so full of hubris and American exceptionalism that he cannot fathom another point of view. Maybe it’s the defective empathy gene. J. Ewing is not a “useless idiot,” but rather a clueless idiot who serves to show us where self-absorption will get us.

The sooner we figure out that Iraq is not about us, or our “needs,” or the spread of “democracy” that we have such a loose grip on ourselves, the sooner we’ll start to make rational decisions about how to extricate ourselves from that tar pit. Luckily, J. Ewingism is losing adherents every day.

Killing subhumans

Boys and girls, some of you will remember that Spotty talked about the inevitability of atrocities taking place in Iraq in a post he called Avoiding the kick. In another post virtually guaranteed to anger Dave, more on that today.

Eric Margolis, a foreign correspondent for the Toronto Sun, wrote an op-ed piece a few days ago called Massacre of civilians was inevitable. Here are the opening grafs:
NEW YORK -- Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and now a new name on the roster of shame, Haditha.

Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment was patrolling the Iraqi town of Haditha last November when a roadside bomb killed one of its members. Kilo's men allegedly burst into the nearest house and gunned down 24 men, women and children cowering inside.

Accused of initially trying to cover up this killing (and other civilian killings in Iraq), the military last month began conducting a criminal investigation.

Many Americans are outraged and are demanding the Marines involved and superior officers face prosecution.

The U.S. military responded with sensitivity sessions about "core values." What a sick joke. Anyone who needs such instruction belongs in jail, not the armed forces.

If Kilo Company's men did murder 24 civilians, they must face trial for murder, and their superior officers for covering it up. But the soldiers' punishment should be mitigated by the fact they were sent into a dirty guerilla war fought in the middle of a largely hostile civilian population in which such atrocities are inevitable. [italics are Spot’s]

Your ol’ friend Spotty just loves it when somebody with a lot more experience that Spot agrees with him:

Iraq -- and the campaign in Afghanistan -- are just like typical 20th-century colonial guerilla wars. Faced with frequent sniping, mines, ambushes and treachery by supposed local "allies," even the best-trained occupation armies soon became brutalized, sadistic, cynical, then demoralized.

I have witnessed this same pattern in every guerilla war I covered or observed: Algeria, Vietnam, Kashmir, Angola, Namibia, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Peru, Chechnya, Kurdistan, South Africa, Kosovo and the Palestinian territories.

Villages that sheltered rebels were destroyed, hostages shot. Civilians quickly became identified with the enemy and considered fair game for increasingly trigger-happy troops.

Margolis concludes with this:
The real blame for Haditha, of course, belongs to an administration that plunged the U.S. into an unnecessary, no-win war in Iraq, and with Pentagon brass. And with those senior Washington officials who spit on the Geneva Conventions and laws of war and telegraphed their contempt right down the line. [italics are Spot’s]

Which brings Spotty to a correspondent in today’s Star Tribune:
So David Luban is concerned about the force used in the killing of terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi ("No need to be at war with the law in Iraq," June 19)?

He says the United States should have captured Al-Zarqawi and turned him over to the Iraqi government to administer its own justice rather than bombing his hideout.

Luban does not realize just how dangerous a job it is for our great military to have to locate, fight and eliminate these less-than-human killers. Rather than be captured alive, Al-Zarqawi more than likely would have put up a fierce fight before blowing himself up. Bombing and killing this madman was the best course of action to take; it greatly reduced the risk to ground forces. [italics are Spot’s]

To the fighter pilot who dropped the bombs, I say "Job well done!"


The moment you define your enemy, and the people he lives with, as less than human, the atrocity will naturally follow. This doesn’t happen to any but a few of our service people. But it only takes a few.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A new Spotty award

This June 20th letter in the Strib earns a Spotty:
The Republican brouhaha over Keith Ellison's old views makes me wonder where these critics were when Norm Coleman was running for the Senate. One could think his past as a student activist and Democrat would similarly make him unsuitable for office in their eyes.


Spotty is awarded to the writer of a letter to the editor, an op-ed piece, or a blog post or comment that Spot wishes he had written.

Tags: What do and have in common?

Spot was thinking of the other end

In a post this morning by Greg Sargent at The American Prospect entitled The Horse’s Mouth, Sargent refers to Rocketman’s perfect imitation of Ann Coulter. The uncle of one of the missing soldiers, abducted last week in an ambush in Iraq, and now confirmed dead, was on the Today show this morning and criticized the US government for its role in his nephew’s disappearance. Here’s a quote from Rocketman, via Sargent:
In a sick coda, Menchaca's uncle, Ken MacKenzie, appeared on the Today show and recited weirdly inapplicable Democratic Party talking points in relation to his own nephew's death...No shame.

It will be remembered that Coulter smeared the widows of 9/11. And the right-wing blogosphere smeared the father of Nicholas Berg when he was not gleeful over the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Sargent makes this point:
To the likes of Hinderaker, the pain of those who lost loved ones to this war only matters to the extent that the bereaved allow their grief to be used to prop up the war effort and Bush himself. If the bereaved relatives don't allow their grief to be used in this fashion, their sacrifice and loss no longer matter a whit -- they're not to be pitied or empathized with, but scorned and humiliated as brutally as possible. Despicable.

Sigmund Spot might wonder whether Rocketman’s complete lack of empathy is nature or nurture. A defective empathy gene perhaps? Or maybe it’s a Betty Davis mother or Lord of the Flies school chums.

Tags hearts

Monday, June 19, 2006

Officer who?

Spot must have missed that episode! Anyway, Katie introduces today’s protagonist thusly:
As a conservative in Hollywood, Joseph Phillips is a fish out of water. He also happens to be black.

Phillips is best known for playing Lt. Martin Kendall on "The Cosby Show." He's been seen and heard by millions -- in movies, on TV's "General Hospital," and as a commentator on National Public Radio.

A black conservative in Hollywood? What are the chances of that!?! Sort of like Lou Gehrig dying of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Hmmm, Joseph Phillips; no Katie, he doesn’t ring a bell. But he must be important if you talked to him. Here’s what Phillips was up to:
He was in Minneapolis last week to promote his new book, "He Talk Like a White Boy: Reflections on Faith, Family, Politics and Authenticity."

In a chat over coffee, Phillips sounded one of the book's central themes: "I'm part of a generation that has turned the job of raising men over to women." Men's abdication of responsibility has led to a flood of social problems, he says -- from escalating crime to "the ridiculous notion that hard work, frugality and virtue are for chumps." If America's social and cultural decline is to end, Phillips believes, men must reclaim their roles as husbands and fathers.

Ok, now you’re talkin’ Katie. Apparently, Phillips is the only black man of his generation to raise boys. Remarkable, in spite of his own upbringing where he was undoubtedly teased mercilessly for sounding like a nerdy white kid.

Here’s Katie’s Point for today:
Phillips' views aren't politically correct in an age when we often hear that family form doesn't matter because love is all that counts. But his most provocative idea may be that men need to return to their traditional role as guardians of their home and community.

Do we really often hear that Katie’s hunter-gatherer family paradigm is meaningless? No, of course not. But a lot of people think we ought to make at least some room for more unconventional families, as long as they are loving and supportive. In fact, Spot bets that there are some same sex couples or single moms raising children who do a better job that a lot of the patriarchal autocrats that Katie would support.


Don't listen to them

This op-ed piece ran in the June 16th Star Tribune. Since it will come down in a few weeks, Spot will reprint it here:
Al From and Bruce Reed: Be like Bill, or the party's over

As the 2006 and 2008 elections loom ever nearer, Democrats are racking their brains for a political philosophy that can return the party to power. Everywhere, we hear the same lament: If only Democrats had a proven formula for winning elections and governing the country.

Fortunately, we do: It's called Clintonism.

By any logical standard, Democrats of every stripe ought to be embracing Clintonism and its central tenets -- providing people with more opportunity while demanding more responsibility, and being willing to try new methods to realize progressive ideals. As an instrument of progress, it's beyond compare. Just recall its achievements: record budget surpluses, rising incomes, more than 22 million new jobs, millions leaving welfare and poverty for work.

As a political formula, its record is just as impressive. Not only was Bill Clinton the first Democratic president in 60 years to be reelected, but consider this: In the three elections before 1992, Democrats averaged 58 electoral votes. In 1992 and 1996, Clinton averaged 375. He won a dozen red states twice.

So why haven't Democratic elites embraced Clintonism -- particularly after the ill-fated campaigns of 2000 and 2004, when party nominees who shied away from it didn't carry a single Southern state? Unfortunately, some in our party never accepted Clinton's willingness to challenge orthodoxy to achieve progressive ends on welfare reform, fiscal responsibility, crime and trade.

And perversely, many in the party have also held Clinton's enormous political success against him. Precisely because he was so popular -- leaving office with a 66 percent approval rating in the Gallup poll -- they assume he must have betrayed Democratic principles along the way.

Not so. Clinton won handily because he reconnected the Democratic Party to the principles that had made it a majority party in the first place: Andrew Jackson's credo of opportunity for all, Franklin D. Roosevelt's thirst for innovation and John F. Kennedy's ethic of mutual responsibility. He put forward the most ambitious Democratic agenda since Lyndon B. Johnson, and the most broadly successful one since FDR.

Clintonism has never been about mushy compromise and electoral expedience. From the beginning, it has been a tough-minded attempt to modernize liberalism and solve the nation's problems. Today, Democratic governors and legislatures nationwide are applying its principles in new initiatives to reinvent government, reform high school education and promote college.

If Democrats win in 2006 and 2008, the party will need Clintonism more than ever. The problems President Bush will leave behind, from deep deficits to a calamitous foreign policy, cry out for the bold pragmatism Clinton pioneered.

Democrats ought not bury Clintonism. If we're smart, we'll write its second act.

[italics throughout are Spot’s]

Al From is founder of the Democratic Leadership Council. Bruce Reed is president of the council and coauthor of the coming book "The Plan: Big Ideas for America." They wrote this article for the Washington Post.

Sweet Jesus brand soap-on-a-rope! From and Reed are two of the biggest proponents of Democrats as Republican-Lite as there are. They and their cadre of inside-the-beltway political consultants have just about managed the Democratic Party into the ground.

So why haven't Democratic elites embraced Clintonism? What Democratic elites are you talking about? You’re the Democratic elite, as if you weren’t aware. Or maybe you’re talking about Howard Dean. You know Howard, the guy who announced himself as a presidential candidate and then said, echoing Paul Wellstone, that he was from the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. And then you and your homies did everything you could to submarine his candidacy.

Howard Dean scared you people with his ability to raise money from small donors; you couldn’t control him. But you conventional wisdom types won out in the end, and we got John Kerry the triangulator who couldn’t even make his mouth form the words poor people. Kerry used inside-the-bestway types as consultants, just as you wanted. Spotty bets you’ll be trying to shove the Bride of Bill down our throats next.

Clintonism has never been about mushy compromise and electoral expedience. Excuse me? Mushy compromise and electoral expedience are all you guys are about. You’re the reason that Republicans say, with some justification, that the Democratic Party has no soul.

Just how stupid do you think we are?


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Gunfight at the OK Corral!

In what looks like a return of the Old West, a gunfight between the cops and outlaws may be brewing. You see, boys and girls, in a decision rendered last week, the US Supreme Court decided 5 – 4 (guess how our new boys voted, boys and girls!) that the pesky old exclusionary rule wouldn’t apply if the cops didn’t knock before entering to execute a search warrant. The case is Hudson v. Michigan, No. 04-1360; the majority opinion was written by Antonin Scalia.

The rule used to be that the cops had to knock and identify themselves before entering, unless the warrant specifically authorized otherwise. In an analysis of the opinion in the online ABA Journal, this was written about the opinion:
The knock-and-announce rule, under which police are required to wait before entering a suspect’s residence, "has never protected … one’s interest in preventing the government from seeing or taking evidence described in a [search] warrant," Scalia wrote. "Since the interests that were violated in this case have nothing to do with the seizure of the evidence, the exclusionary rule is inapplicable."

Here’s what some defense lawyers see (from the same article):
Some defense lawyers say they fear more violent searches as a result of the decision. John Wesley Hall, a Little Rock, Ark., criminal defense lawyer who argued a 1995 knock-and-announce case before the Supreme Court, says that while preparing the appeal, he came across reports of police shot during raids.

"It was never mentioned whether they knocked, but they just came barging in," he says. "This opinion is just going to lead to more violence, and blood will be on the Supreme Court’s hands. Apparently, in the Supreme Court, life is cheap."

And here’s some more:
In the past decade, unannounced searches have increased, says Timothy Lynch, director of the Cato Institute’s Project on Criminal Justice, who authored an amicus brief on Hudson’s behalf.

"There’s been a disturbing trend going on in law enforcement with paramilitary-type raids that are very aggressive," the D.C. lawyer says.

And we haven’t even talked about the NRA’s latest push for shoot first and ask questions later laws around the country. Essentially, these laws provide a defense to an armed citizen who “feels threatened” and shoots another, whether it turns out the shooter was acting in actual self defense or not. The Minnesota Legislature rebuffed efforts to adopt this legislation in Minnesota this year, but it’ll be back. The law is already on the books in some states, including of course Florida, with some results you’ll want to read about, boys and girls.

Spot’s advice, all you law enforcement officers out there – especially the plain clothes ones – is identify yourself before you barge in! You don’t want anybody to “feel threatened.”

Friday, June 16, 2006

Spot is clairvoyant!

About six weeks ago, MNDOT announced a delay in the commencement of construction of the new 35W and Crosstown commons because it was having trouble getting a contractor to bite on the "creative financing" that the state was proposing. You see, the state was a little "short" and wanted the contractor not only to build the road, but to pay for it, too! The original Strib story has been taken down, but here's an update from the Strib today:
Contractors seem to have rejected MnDOT’s unorthodox financing plan, which required them to provide money to keep the work going between state payments. The message is that contractors were not sure they would ever be paid back, said Dave Semerad, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of Minnesota.

How many bidders did MNDOT get after the delay? Zero, zip, zilch, nada. What a bunch of ingrates! But Spot predicted this:
What do you bet that the month delay in the project announced by the DOT stretches into more?

So, south metro residents, while you sit in traffic on our clogged arteries as your own arteries clog, think about the faith-based funding that is making it all possible. Where is that darn rapture when we need it most?

You can lay this at the feet Tim Pawlenty and most of the Republicans in the Legislature - including Geoff Michel, Spot's senator - who made Timmy's veto of the gas tax increase last year veto-proof. The same bunch that did exactly squat about transportation this year, in spite of the soft-shoe you'll get around election time.


Send in the cops

Spot is going to serve as a more-or-less aggregator on Katie’s latest column Two big problems cause rising crime (in Minneapolis). According to Katie, those problems are 1) the Hennepin County Drug Court, and 2) the incentive to do aggressive police work has been taken away. This bit of breathless opining (it certainly isn’t reporting) comes courtesy of Minneapolis police Sgt. Jeff Jindra.

Beth Hawkins at the City Pages Blotter blog asks the question Who is Sgt. Jeff Jindra?
If Jindra's name rings a bell, it's because he has frequently been named in association with some of those irritating misconduct investigations he grouses about. In the fall of 2003, Jindra was one of several officers named by Stephen Porter, a Minneapolis man who claimed that police had sodomized him with a toilet plunger. Following a seemingly thorough federal investigation, Jindra was exonerated in that case. And he was acquitted by a jury in a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in which he was alleged to have roughed up the grandson of one of Minnesota's most revered civil rights activists in May 2003. A third incident, also from May 2003, is still pending: In another federal suit, Jindra is accused of kicking a suspect, Philander Jenkins, in the head and breaking his jaw. To complicate matters just a little further, Jenkins was charged with filing a false report in another incident in which he claimed jail officials had sexually assaulted him.

(For the record, neither of those agencies returned City Pages' calls today; in the past Sgt. Jindra's MPD personnel file and his record with Civilian Review have been without meaningful blemish.)

Katie, these are the kind of things that readers might find helpful in assessing the credibility of your source. Maybe they detract from his credibility – maybe they add to it – but they’re not irrelevant.

And it is curious, too, Katie, that St. Paul cops have much less problem getting the job done without attracting all the abuse allegations.

The drug court that Katie and Jindra dismiss has some big-wig admirers. Smartie at the Power Liberal tells us about that. City Pages also has a 2003 article about the Drug Court and its realities:
Hundreds of drug courts have sprung up around the country in the last 10 years, a byproduct of the nation's war on drugs. The idea is to stop users from cycling repeatedly through the system by reaching them in the hours after their arrest--a so-called teachable moment when people are thought to be especially open to chemical-dependency treatment. The hoped-for result: unclogged dockets and fewer tax dollars spent on prisons.

In the seven years since its inception, Hennepin County's drug court has indeed increased the pace at which narcotics cases are processed. Whereas drug cases used to drag on for months, most are now resolved within a few weeks.

But instead of making less work for the courts, the increased efficiency has made it possible for prosecutors to charge 50 percent more people, most of them minorities from a handful of Minneapolis neighborhoods caught with small amounts of a variety of drugs. And while most of the defendants who pass through this court are offered treatment and other help to get clean, the reality is that many will go back to using drugs. And when they do, that's hundreds more people who have criminal records in an era when being convicted of a drug felony carries sanctions not even attached to murder.

Between 1980 and 2000 there was a 1,000 percent increase in the number of drug offenders in state prisons, from 19,000 to 220,000. In 1980, some 52,000 people, or just 8 percent of the nation's inmates, were incarcerated for drug law violations. Today, one-fourth of the more than 2 million people behind bars are there for drug offenses.

Mandatory sentencing laws passed in the late '80s and early '90s have meant drastically longer prison terms for even casual users. The average drug offender released from a federal prison in 1992 was there for 33 months; the average offender convicted that year could expect to spend 70 months incarcerated. In 1995, it cost taxpayers some $9 billion to keep all of these people locked up.

Contrary to its liberal reputation, Minnesota has not been an exception. From 1986 to 1996, the year before drug court began, the number of state prison inmates with a drug offense as their highest charge went from 2 percent, or 34, to 10 percent, or 505. From 1993 to 1996, about 1,200 felony drug cases were filed in Hennepin County each year. The numbers threatened to bring the criminal justice system to a halt and drain public coffers.

In an attempt to resolve the impasse between politicians' tough-on-crime stances and the realities of trying to deal with the resulting flood of convicts, other cities had started drug courts. Hennepin County was already trying to divert some drug offenders into treatment when Chief Judge Kevin Burke crusaded to start a drug court here. The purpose, he told the Minneapolis City Council, was to make the system "work radically faster," the Star Tribune reported.

At the time, the first drug court had been in operation in Miami for five years and dozens more had sprung up in other states. Burke and the task force that helped set up the local drug court were aware of their shortcomings, and aimed high. As Hennepin County prepared to process its first defendants, doubts were waved aside. We were going to have "one of the good ones," organizers promised.

Whereas most drug courts won't take cases involving dealers, weapons, or in some cases even repeat offenders, Hennepin County decided to take every narcotics case except those in which the defendant was charged with a violent act. Further, recognizing that drug abuse doesn't crop up in a vacuum, the court arranged for an array of services for participants. In addition to treatment, defendants get help with mental health issues, housing, education, and parenting skills.

Possibly the most important distinction between Hennepin County's court and the others is transparent to most non-lawyers, however. To participate in most drug courts, defendants must agree to plead guilty and to surrender many, or in some cases all, of their rights. Not so here: Defendants can undergo screening and begin treatment, if it's appropriate, while retaining their right to challenge their police stop or even to go to trial. (Rights notwithstanding, less than half a percent of drug court clients end up at trial. More than 95 percent end up pleading guilty; the rest have their cases dismissed.)

From the start, the court got great press. A Star Tribune story written during its first few days of operation profiled a man who had gone to great pains to get himself arrested so that he could avail himself of the court's referral to county-financed treatment. Not counting the expense of treatment (which is paid for out of an already existing federal fund), the court's budget was $1 million, more than half of it from county coffers. Costs, supporters promised, would go down as fewer drug users re-offended.

Well, of course, the Drug Court filings have only increased. Spot really recommends the City Pages article linked above.

Katie winds up with these sage words:
Today's lax environment emboldens criminals, Jindra says. "It used to be people would steal VCRs or pass bad checks to get money for drugs. Now they rob people in broad daylight; stick a gun in their face in their own driveway and grab their wallet. The fear factor has gone up tremendously."

In short, while there's a ton of pressure on our police, no one's putting real pressure where it counts -- on the criminal.

Boy, if there’s one thing a tight-arse like Katie can’t stand, it’s a lax environment. It even sounds like laxative!


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Bring me his head!

Bring me his head! On a pike! Or a plate! Or maybe in a frame! Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's head, that is.

How did they get his picture in death blown up (so to speak), framed, and matted so quickly? Spot was unaware that in addition to fast food joints and coffee shops, the Green Zone has a frame shop too.

Whaddya bet that George Bush took that framed photo, or one just like it, home on Air Force One when he returned from his most recent Mission Accomplished tour to Iraq? He can display it in the little trophy room off the Oval Office along with Saddam Hussein's pistol, the one he was carrying when they caught him in the "spider hole." W and Dick and Rummy can go to the war porn room for some heavy breathing!

Spot would like to see the preznit go to Iraq and help Marines collect the body parts of comrades after a particularly nasty IED explosion, or maybe lend a hand in giving out the piddling compensation payments to the relatives of "collateral damage." Spot wonders what kind of trophies Bush would bring home then!

Sidney Blumenthal has a recent article in Salon entitled "Mission Accomplished" in a business suit. In it, Blumenthal describes the role of the US government in elevating al-Zarqawi's stature and conflating the war on terror with 9/11. A tidbit:
Since the rise of the Iraqi insurgency, U.S. military intelligence had been directed to build up Zarqawi's profile as its leader through a psychological warfare ("psy-op") effort. On April 10, the Washington Post reported on internal military documents it obtained about this psy-op: "The documents explicitly list the 'U.S. Home Audience' as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign." According to talking points in a 2004 briefing, the goal was: "Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response." One military intelligence officer involved stated that Zarqawi's followers were "a very small part of the actual numbers" of insurgents, but this had little bearing on the program. Another officer concluded, "The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date."

The "US Home Audience" is one of the targets of a PSYOP program. Spot invites you to think about that for a moment, and then go read the whole Blumenthal article. It's worth wading through the Salon ad, if you have to, to read it.

And finally, a word about war trophies. Tom Engelhardt and David Swanson at have an insightful essay about war trophies:
The U.S. military killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, took a photo of his dead head, blew it up to enormous proportions, and displayed it in a frame at a press conference. From the way it was framed, the head could have been connected to a body or not. Presumably this was meant to be not only proof of his death, but a kind of revenge for al-Zarqawi's beheading of Americans. The image would fit perfectly in a collection of war trophy photos. Is there any mystery about where rank and file soldiers learn to behave this way?

Any mystery indeed.

Tags: is a pin-up

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The books arrived!

Spot got an email this morning from Dave saying that the books we sent have arrived! Not unpacked and shelved yet, but the boxes did arrive in good order and in about ten days. This is not, apparently, your grandpa's war.

On behalf of Dave and the boys, thanks again for your contributions!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Coleman wins Spotty with oak leaf collar!

Spot's back, and he sees that Nick Coleman weighed in on the "Reds in the DFL" screed by our favorite bird of pray, Katherine Kersten. In his column, which ran this weekend, he brought a history of the formation of the DFL to the table that shows Katie for the simple smear artist she is. For the column, Nick Coleman wins a Spotty with an oak leaf collar in the professional division. (Spot doesn't think he has ever awarded a Spotty to someone who, like, writes for a living.)

Because there will come a time when the Strib takes this column down, Spot is going to reproduce the whole thing. It is such a useful bit of history.
It was recently revealed in these pages that the DFL Party of Minnesota was "penetrated" by Communists in its early days, with the implication that even to mention this out loud takes courage.

This kind of hyperventilation, delivered from the rear area of an ancient battle, serves an obvious political purpose. But only someone unfamiliar with Minnesota or uninterested in its history would suggest that the Communist attempts to hijack Minnesota's progressive politics in the 1930s and '40s are unknown.

In fact, it was the fight for control of the fledgling DFL Party after World War II that became the very public crucible in which the DFL was formed and found its strength.

A proud history

Like Gov. Tim Pawlenty, I grew up eating at a DFL kitchen table and heard many stories about battles won and lost before I was born. It is sometimes my happy duty to criticize Democrats when they are in power (it's been a long while), and I vote independently. But I have buried too many people who called themselves DFLers to stay quiet when someone throws "DFL" and "Communist" in the same sentence and acts as if they are flinging new dirt.

The short version is well-known: Minnesota liberals purged the Communists who came into the newly merged DFL when Democrats joined with the Farmer-Labor party in 1944. It took one of the biggest political fights in state history.

Reds around the edges

Defeating the Communists took numerous acts of political courage. Not by people who enjoy sullying Minnesota Democrats with the old "Reds" defamation. No, the courage came 60 years ago, from the tough-nosed anti-Communist founders of the DFL -- departed leaders such as Hubert Humphrey, Art Naftalin, Orville Freeman and others who outmaneuvered and outfought undemocratic forces for the soul of the DFL.

In recent years, researchers have learned that the American Communist Party and its operatives in Minnesota were more closely controlled by Moscow than anyone knew in the 1940s. But that just underscores the accomplishments of Humphrey and the rest who stood up to them.

This was a vicious battle for control of a major state party, and the crusade against the Communists helped propel Humphrey to national prominence. It is a story that deserves to be remembered and which used to be told frequently, including in "Almost to the Presidency," Albert Eisele's 1972 book about Humphrey and his rival for the White House, fellow DFLer Eugene McCarthy.

"No single experience of his early political career did more to mold Humphrey as a man and a politician than the savage struggle" for control of the DFL from 1946 to 1948, Eisele wrote. (Washington correspondent for the St. Paul newspaper, Eisele later was press secretary for Vice President Walter Mondale.) Purging the Communists, Eisele added, was "when the future of the party -- and of Humphrey -- was determined."

Humphrey wrongly vilified

It was the ultimate calumny, then, when Arnold Schwarzenegger told the 2004 Republican National Convention that Humphrey sounded like a "Socialist" to Arnold when he heard the 1968 Nixon-Humphrey debates.

(Arnold, it turned out, was a big fat liar: There were no Nixon-Humphrey debates, and Arnold did not even know English in 1968.)

The truth that should be remembered, by Democrats and Republicans alike, is that just as the Cold War began, Minnesota's DFL Party managed to defeat the forces that America continued to fight for 44 more years.

For that service, Hubert Humphrey was vilified as a "red-baiter" all his life. Now, 28 years after his death, with memories fading, the "Commie" threat he fought against is raised again, used by those who tag Democrats with 60-year-old red paint.

In doing so, they stand history on its head.

Tags: takes to task for her column about in the

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Terra incognita of the mind

And now, boys and girls, Spot is off to a terra incognita of the mind. Spot does not think that terra incognita has Wi-Fi. More than that Spot will not say, but don't be alarmed, boys and girls, if you don't hear from Spotty until next week. Katie behave yourself.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Katie bashes religion!

Katie really gets her Underoos in a bunch when a group of Christians – or of any religion for that matter; Katie is very ecumenical in this regard – has the temerity to regard the social gospel of the New Testament or social justice in general as important. And that goes double for those darn Methodists! As a gal who cries so piteously at any slight, real or perceived, of the Catholics, she’s got a lot of damn gall criticizing another denomination. Not to mention being shot through with hypocrisy.

The event that prompted Monday’s rant (great story, eh Anders?) was the petitions by the Methodist Church (in Minnesota, anyway) at its Annual Conference last week in Saint Cloud. About the petitions, Katie says:
In the past, Methodist leaders have often focused on racism and sexism. This year, however, gay issues jumped to center stage. The Minnesota Annual Conference outdid itself, passing nine petitions on various aspects of the topic. The conference went on record as supporting both gay marriage and the ordination of gay clergy.

It just torques Katie to think that anybody could read the same book and come to different conclusions than Katie does. Why, the nerve of these people!

Katie isn’t satisfied with just criticizing the Methodists, though. She puts in the extra effort for which Katie is so justly famous, claiming the Methodists (and other mainline denomination, too) are losing membership because of their social activism! Here’s Katie:
Clearly, Methodist Church leaders are an energetic lot. Why, then, is United Methodist membership heading south? Here in Minnesota, church membership fell from 121,000 in 1980 to 95,000 in 2000, according to the Atlanta-based Glenmary Research Center. Minnesota Methodists reported 86,000 members in 2004.

Nationally, the United Methodist Church lost about 3 million members between the late 1960s and 2003, according to church figures -- a nearly 30 percent drop. During the same period the U.S. population grew by roughly one-third.

The United Methodist Church is not alone in its membership decline. Other mainline Protestant denominations such as the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA) have been hemorrhaging members for decades.

Why the sagging Methodist numbers? Perhaps many folks in the pews don't share their leadership's left-wing political agenda. Today, the average United Methodist would probably be uneasy about gutting America's defense budget when Iran is on the fast track to building nuclear weapons. [italics are Spot’s]

Well perhaps, Katie. But perhaps more right wingers who suffer from katian arrhythmia attend conservative churches. (Spot believes that Katie, for example, has replicated four times.) There is some actual evidence of that, unlike Katie’s attribution to social concerns.

Katie is hardly the first one to raise this bogus explanation. That doesn’t surprise you does it, boys and girls? Media Transparency has a series of articles on the decades-long right wing attacks against the mainline churches, especially the Methodists. In one of them, this is written about the issue of membership decline due to social agenda:
These three so-called "renewal" groups repeatedly seek to justify their attacks by claiming that a decline in membership in our church [the Methodists] and other mainline denominations is the fault of "liberals" who involved the church in social action, and that they are needed to repair the damage (IRD, 2001a; Tooley, 2003; Case, 2003).

The problem with this assertion, which is used ad nauseam by all three groups, is that it is simply not true. Social-scientific evidence shows that the decline in membership in mainline churches over the past 70 years and the growth of conservative churches is the direct consequence of conservative church members having more children. According to several leading experts in the sociology of religion, who published their findings in the American Journal of Sociology, "switching from mainline to conservative denominations ... explains none of the decline of mainline denominations" (Hout, Greely, and Wilde, 2001). [italics are Spot’s, well, except for the ad nauseam part]

Boys and girls, Spot wants you to think about this very carefully. We can see here that a Darwinist edge goes to the most prolific breeders, a group that is anti-science, anti-social, and anti-reality. It seems to Spot that this is the best refutation of Darwin’s evolutionary theory that he has ever seen! The knuckle-draggers will inherit the earth, at least until it burns up! Then, they hope, to be whisked away by the Heavenly Hoover.

The Media Transparency article that Spot quotes is Church and Scaife by Andrew Weaver and Nicole Siebert. It is a fascinating account of how a few very well-heeled right wing foundations have worked to undermine the social activism of the Methodist Church and other mainline denomination. It is definitely worth a read; there are related articles on the site as well.

Here’s what Katie thinks religion is all about:
But there may be a deeper answer. Most people -- whatever their politics -- don't flock to churches, synagogues and mosques to find outlets for political and social activism. Instead, they seek answers to life's most profound questions: What is the purpose of my life? What is the meaning of my suffering? What is my connection to the transcendent, to God?

Whoa. Somebody has her irony warning buzzer turned off! And her hypocrisy indicator is entirely non-functional! There are of course countless examples of political activism of the conservative churches, all the way back to advocating against the abolition of slavery. One example that springs readily to mind is the un-godly crowd that gathered for the Pastor’s Summit to organize against gay marriage last fall that Spot described in Pious, Scmious. Michele Bachmann was there, of course.

Spot says to the Methodists, stick to your guns, so to speak. If the choice is living out the words of Jesus Christ in the world, or sinking into self-absorbed ascetic wankery, the Methodists have made the right choice.

Tags: bashed the because of its

Sunday, June 04, 2006

The first coming out

This cartoon lies at the intersection of two of the objects of Spotty's scorn: the social Darwinist hunter-gatherers and the homophobes. A thump of the tail to Mike for the tip.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Better Red than Katie

A local history professor of Spot’s acquaintance, when queried about Katie’s communists in the DFL column, said Poor Katherine--it is always the 1950s and the Commies are about to take over. In thinking about it a little, Spot has concluded that Katie probably recalls those days with nostalgia. Everything was so ordered, black and white, and utterly explainable. You see, like the president, Katie doesn’t do nuance very well. It makes them both confused and anxious. You can see it by the way they both try force everything into a pure-good and pure-evil paradigm. We good; they bad. If there is no “they,” W. and Katie will invent them. It’s just easier to keep things tidy in their heads that way.

It is sort of like the historian that Katie cites in her column, John Earl Haynes. MNObserver found this quotation about Haynes. It is the second section of Haynes’ Wikipedia entry, right after the description of who Haynes is.
Historian Ellen W. Schrecker said of Haynes: "...for some reason, complexity, nuance, and a willingness to see the world in other than black and white seem alien to Haynes' view of history. He seems unable to accept an interpretation of American communism that looks at its achievements as well as its sins (I suppose Haynes would prefer the word, "crimes," here)... it's getting a little tiresome to have to explain yet again that _in this country_ McCarthyism did more damage to the constitution than the American Communist party ever did."

No wonder Katie likes him!