Monday, July 31, 2006

Put up a parking lot

The campers extinguish the remainder of their campfire and retire to their sleeping bags. They lie quietly, looking through the fly screen at a sky-carpet of stars, listening to the frogs and crickets. It is so peaceful. Wait; what do they hear? It’s the common loon. No silly, not the state bird; it’s Katie grousing about the fact that loggers can’t get into the BWCAW. Katie thinks we should log and clear brush to reduce the fire danger. She wants to encourage healthy forests, just like president Bush. For the first time in Spot’s memory she quotes a DFLer, David Dill, a representative from Crane Lake:

"We've been very fortunate with the fire so far," he says. "The weather has cooperated." If luck holds, Dill says, this fire may not threaten life or property.

But the blow-down added greatly to fire danger in the BWCA, and the threat is far from over, Dill emphasizes. "Some people say this fire may just be a warning shot across the bow," he says. "If a fire starts in the right place and the stars align with hot, windy weather, communities like Ely and Tower could face a catastrophe."

Since 1999, Dill -- like many in his district -- has advocated measures to prevent such a catastrophe, and simultaneously to manage the area's resources better. But these steps were never seriously considered, he says, thanks to rigid federal rules and concerns about lawsuits by environmental groups.

For example, after the blow-down, loggers removed highly flammable dead trees in a corridor just outside the BWCA. They went across the ice in winter, Dill says, and had minimal impact on the environment. This significantly reduced fire risk in nearby areas, he says.

Similar "salvage logging" could have been performed at strategic sites in the BWCA. But wilderness rules [that darn fedral gummit again] forbade it. "They would have had to go in there with a handsaw and a dogsled," Dill jokes. [italics are Spot’s]

Wilderness. Manage. Wilderness. Manage. Hmmm. Those words don’t seem to fit too well together do they, boys and girls? Dill says he doesn’t want to change the area’s wilderness designation. Oh sure, we’ll still call it a wilderness, it just won’t be one. Dill says, hey the whole area was logged off once, so what’s the dif?

Well, there’s a big difference boys and girls. If you ever go to the Boundary Waters, you will see the occasional majestic white pine towering above the rest of the trees. These guys were just little shavers too small to cut when the loggers went through. Now they are just reminders of what the entire forest used to look like. The second growth forest looks stunted by comparison, lots of scrub alders and jack pine. We’ll never have an old growth forest there, at least not in several lifetimes, but cutting or removing trees will impede the process.

Of course, we could reduce the first danger to zero, just by cutting down all the trees, clearing the brush, and paving the whole thing!


Unintended Consequences?

Spot got this comment to a post about the Israel/Lebanon/Hizbullah conflict the other day.

I'd like to hear your take on a statement I heard (Yours too, Wege, if you come back to this):"If Hezbollah disarmed, the fighting would end. If Israel disarmed, there would be no more Israel."I don't remember who said this.DiscordianStooge | Homepage | 07.29.06 - 10:35 am |

Well, It probably wasn’t Hizbullah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah! Or maybe it was. Regardless, it’s a pretty provocative statement. And you know, it’s probably true. But it’s not the issue. Nobody, but nobody, is asking Israel to disarm. Heck, if the US disarmed, we’d all have to learn to speak Canadian (what do they speak up there, anyway?)! Or the Mexican dialect of Spanish, which on the other hand we’re already learning.

It comes back to one of the myths exposed by Jonathan Cook as mentioned in Spot’s post It’s a mythical beast. That is, the conflict in Lebanon is not an existential struggle for Israel. It’s just not. So you can’t say, poor Israel, it is fighting for its very existence, whatever it does is justified. Moreover, Israel is bound by the laws of war:

International Rules About Civilians

Both the fourth Geneva Convention and the two Additional Protocols extend protections to civilians during war time.

  • Civilians are not to be subject to attack. This includes direct attacks on civilians and indiscriminate attacks against areas in which civilians are present.
  • There is to be no destruction of property unless justified by military necessity.
  • Individuals or groups must not be deported, regardless of motive.
  • Civilians must not be used as hostages.
  • Civilians must not be subject to outrages upon personal dignity.
  • Civilians must not be tortured, raped or enslaved.
  • Civilians must not be subject to collective punishment and reprisals.
  • Civilians must not receive differential treatment based on race, religion, nationality, or political allegiance.
  • Warring parties must not use or develop biological or chemical weapons and must not allow children under 15 to participate in hostilities or to be recruited into the armed forces.

This is from summary of the Geneva Conventions found here, on a website of the Society of Professional Journalists.

It is pretty obvious that Israel is guilty of some of these prohibitions.

Right at the top, there is a prohibition against targeting civilians, and that includes indiscriminate attack where civilian are present. From the BBC:

But in modern times it is blood - not water and wine - that is indelibly linked with the town, the blood of Lebanese civilians killed in Israeli bombing.

In 1996, one of the deadliest single events of the whole Arab-Israeli conflict took place there [Qana, where according to legend, Jesus performed his first miracles] - the shelling of a UN base where hundreds of local people were sheltering.

More than 100 were killed and another 100 injured, cut down by Israeli anti-personnel shells that explode in the air sending a lethal shower of shrapnel to the ground.

[You will recall, boys and girls, that Israeli rockets hit a UN outpost and killed UN Peacekeepers in the recent dustup, tool.]

Ten years later, the town is again in the headlines, this time because of a single massive bomb dropped by an Israeli aircraft, causing a building to collapse on top of dozens of civilians - many of them children - taking cover in the basement.

Both incidents took place during sustained Israeli military operations against the Hezbollah militant group for firing rockets at Israel.

So there’s not much new under the sun, Spot guesses. Combatants are enjoined from wanton destruction of property, too. Not to mention collective punishment:

Since we've grown accustomed to thinking collective punishment a legitimate weapon, it is no wonder no debate has sparked here over the cruel punishment of Lebanon for Hezbollah's actions. If it was okay in Nablus, why not Beirut? The only criticism being heard about this war is over tactics. Everyone is a general now and they are mostly pushing the IDF to deepen its activities. Commentators, ex-generals and politicians compete at raising the stakes with extreme proposals.

Haim Ramon "doesn't understand" why there is still electricity in Baalbek; Eli Yishai proposes turning south Lebanon into a "sandbox"; Yoav Limor, a Channel 1 military correspondent, proposes an exhibition of Hezbollah corpses and the next day to conduct a parade of prisoners in their underwear, "to strengthen the home front's morale."

It's not difficult to guess what we would think about an Arab TV station whose commentators would say something like that, but another few casualties or failures by the IDF, and Limor's proposal will be implemented. Is there any better sign of how we have lost our senses and our humanity?

Gideon Levy writing in Haaretz.

The ironic thing is that Hizbullah really got its start in southern Lebanon after Israel chased the Palestinians Authority and Arafat out in 1982. And secular Baathist Syria got interested in Lebanon during the latter’s civil war to prevent an Islamic fundamentalist country from being established on Syria’s southern border, via Hizbullah. Boy, Israel! Talk about your law of unintended consequences!

Anyway, how’s that, Mr. DiscordianStooge?

Update: Cleared up dangling modified in penultimate paragraph.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Spot has good news and bad news

Let Spot perhaps be the last to welcome da Wege back at Norwegianity. This is a welcome development.

A less welcome development is the fact that the fickle MNObserver has started posting over there again, too. This isn't over, Wege.

Melendez v. Reichgott Junge

Spot’s post Who are you and why are you running? has generated some comments, and a lot of traffic, by Spot's standards, anyway. The issue Spot raised was the suit brought against Ember Reichgott Junge, candidate for Congress in the Fifth District DFL Primary. The suit was brought against her by Brian Melendez, state-wide Chair of the Minnesota DFL Party. Melendez was successful in getting an administrative law judge to issue a probable cause order that the matter should be put on for hearing to determine whether Reichgott Junge violated Minnesota campaign law by inserting the unadorned “DFL” on billboards advertising her candidacy for Congress. You can read the judge’s decision here. Remember, this was an order for a hearing, not a disposition of the case on its merits, such as they are.

Spot understands that the case has been settled, so the case will never be determined on its merits. In issuing its order for a hearing, the administrative law judge relied on the old chestnut Schmitt v. McLaughlin, 275 N.W.2d 587, 591 (Minn. 1979) (discussing Minn. Stat. § 210A.02, predecessor to Minn. Stat. § 211B.02). In Schmitt, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that the use of “DFL” by a candidate in a non-partisan race falsely implied party backing when of course there was none for anybody.

Compare and contrast, boys and girls, the conduct of a candidate in a non-partisan contest, not a primary – one of Spot’s commenters says it was for the anonymous job of county abstract clerk, the person in charge of keeping real estate records – and claims to have DFL backing, versus Ember Reichgott Junge, a life-long DFLer and candidate in a widely known and discussed Congressional primary. Are these two cases the same? Hardly.

It’s much easier to infer deceptive intention in the case of the hopeful abstract clerk. According to the administrative law judge’s decision in the recent case brought by Melendez, the only evidence on the record on the probable cause motion were affidavits by DFL voters who said they weren’t confused.

Zo, vat do ve make of zis, liebschen? Sorry, wrong channel. What do we make of this boys and girls? Well, Spot says it will always be in the interest of party leadership to try to protect the “brand” and the value of endorsements. But, there has been a growing sentiment that the caucus system is broken in Minnesota. Tim Pawlenty was endorsed, but before that you have to go back a long time to find a successful endorsed candidate for governor for either party. Ventura? Of course not. Surely Arne Carlson? Remember, boys and girls, he stepped in when the endorsed Republican candidate, Jon Grunseth, got involved in skinny-dipping-gate. And then, as a sitting governor, the Republicans refused to endorse Arne for a second term, choosing as a candidate Allen Quist. We have to go back to Rudy Perpich, the dentist from the Iron Range, for the next successful endorsed candidate.

To state the obvious, the parties do not always pick the person that the public thinks is the best candidate. And a good primary contest can put the spotlight on the best candidate for a party. Actions like Melendez v. Reichgoff are just elbows and knees under the basket that do nothing to advance the DFL’s interest in a win in November. That’s true regardless of the candidate you presently support for the job.

Sunday afternoon reads

It is too @#$%^&* hot to go out and chase tennis balls, so Spot recommends a little Sunday afternoon reading:Dump Michele Bachmann has a great post about (who else?) Michele Bachmann and the cabal to wreck public education. This one is a must-read for anybody who cares about public schools.

Three Way New and the Power Liberal both link to a New York Times article about a suburban St. Paul evangelical preacher who refused to endorse conservative political candidates and who advocates the separation of church and state. Good on him.

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Importing political courage

The US imports everything else these days: oil, sneakers, electronics, bicycles, the list is endless. Why not political courage? You will recall boys and girls that Spot already mentioned that Senate candidates Amy Klobuchar and Mark Kennedy have the same position on the Israel - Lebanon conflict.

Eric Black at his blog The Big Question recently had a follow-up post on what Green Partry Senate candidate Michael Cavlan thought about that same issue. Here's part of what Cavlan said:

Michael Cavlan, Green Party candidate for United States Senate states “we condemn this resolution [adopted by the US Senate unanimously fully supporting the actions of Israel and embraced by Kennedy and Klobuchar] and the unbelievable political cowardice of those who support it and the Israeli government without any question or reservations.”

Cavlan also states: “Let us be perfectly clear here. No one can claim to support human rights and this resolution and the actions of the Israeli government on Lebanon at the same time”

He further states”in this time of conflict, our country desperately needs voices for peace and sanity. Our campaign will be proud to stand for these noble principles and values, held so dearly by many decent people in Minnesota and elsewhere.”

Cavlan then directed his comments to members of the Minnesota Peace annd Justice community.”We challenge those people in Minnesota who hold these principles and ideals to join in our campaign immediately. The time for courage and decisive action is now.”

Candidate Cavlan is himself not really an import, since he was born in the United States. But he did spend his formative years in Northern Ireland. And he sounds like a fiery Irishman when you hear him.

At least political courage is available for import from somewhere.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Pray for the Heavenly Hoover!

Spot wishes these folks would just be raptured the heck out of here and leave the rest of us alone:

This from a Mississippi Assembly of God church. Image from Dependable Renegade.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Do Jewish people say amen? Spot does here!

An editorial on

The turnabout will come quickly

By Meron Benvenisti

No one can predict when the reversal will come, when all the experts will begin competing for first place in revealing the failures of the war: mistaken strategy, political dilettantism and shooting from the hip; the weakness disguised as courageous determination; the illusions, arrogance and boasting; the addiction to an impulse of revenge; the cruelty and the lack of moral inhibitions.

But the manipulators and the self-declared heroes should not delude themselves, nor should the naive, or those who are drunk with patriotism or those who consider themselves experts: the moment will arrive more quickly than they imagine and within a short while everyone will be hiding behind the pose of "we told you so" when they know which way the wind is blowing.

That is when all the declarations, the assessments and the excuses - that could be uttered and written only in an atmosphere of lack of critical skepticism that prevails when a "state of war" is declared - will be revealed.

It is only in an atmosphere of this kind that serious people can justify the destruction of a country on the grounds that they "are helping its government in this way" to gain the upper hand over Hezbollah - a kind of variation on the theme of "the raped woman actually enjoyed herself." It is only in an atmosphere of this kind that a well-bred person can be glad that the lack of American pressure to stop the bombings makes it possible to continue the killing and destruction.

Only reliance on patriotic emotions, which cloud any rational thinking, makes it possible to state without shame - after many days of multi-casualty pounding and the inexplicable destruction of an airport, highway interchanges, power stations and entire neighborhoods - that actually this activity was in vain, since it was known in advance that the bombs could not achieve their objectives and that a massive ground invasion was unavoidable.

Only people who unabashedly exploit primitive urges allow themselves to personalize the war and focus it on the annihilation of their enemy, Hassan Nasrallah. Only those who are convinced the war will bring down a smoke screen over any cynical or hypocritical act can brag that they are assisting in an international humanitarian activity after they themselves brought about the catastrophe.

No one is able to predict the minute when the opposition to the war and the bloodshed turns from an act of betrayal into a legitimate and even correct stance; when a moral condemnation of the war's evil effects becomes acceptable from a patriotic point of view and when slogans like "uprooting terror," "a war for our homes," "an existential struggle" and their like, turn from resonant war-cries into empty rhetoric.

No one can predict this, but experience teaches us that the turnabout from patriotic criticism to rational behavior based on moral norms occurs sooner or later, sometimes within weeks or months and sometimes after a generation. It seems that in the current outbreak of violence, the change will come very quickly; its conduct, objectives and results do not encourage too much enthusiasm and it has not even been granted the title of "war" since those who waged it are not sure if they want to commemorate it among the state's official wars or if they believe it would perhaps be better to forget it.

They cannot allow themselves to think that all should know their assessments were incorrect, and therefore they will seek a "victory" that will justify all the loss of life and destruction, and the very need for such a victory will merely prolong the suffering and bereavement. The public that supports them will have difficulty demanding soul-searching of them since the tribal solidarity will protect the political and military leaders.

Very soon everything will return to what it was before - apart from those who sacrificed their lives and those who were killed in the shellings and bombings. And the major loser will be the people of Israel who, by an unmeasured reaction to a provocation, established their position as a foreign element in the region, as the neighborhood bully, the object of impotent hatred.

Emphasis added by Spot. Link from

Blogger navel-gazing

Spot was at Drinking Liberally Thursday night. There are usually several bloggers in attendance, and Thursday night was no exception. The bloggers there will remain nameless, partly to save some of Spotty’s friends the embarrassment. After talking the usual shop-talk stuff, the subject turned really serious: what is the role of bloggers in the universe?

Paraphrasing here a little, the consensus was that the MSM is dying and that bloggers would stand on the corpse and crow. Sort of like after the nuclear war, the only thing living will be the cockroaches. It was not an especially humble crowd. Spot has a slightly different take on things.

Spot read or heard somewhere that the three most numerous blogger categories are: lawyers (gulp), experts (think Juan Cole and PZ Myers), and political insiders (think, if you must, Michael Brodkorb). The first two categories are really opinion bloggers (as are most of the rest, too) who do very little original, first-person or sourced and vetted news reporting. It is the political insiders for the most part who get the scoops once in a while. And they get the scoops because they can run with things, and publish them without getting them past an editor or fact checker. Is this good? Spot says it’s fine for getting a story or started, to see if it has legs, so to speak, but it can be really bad if the public bases it opinions on the unverified work of bloggers.

One recent example of this involves not a blogger but a journalist. Apparently, Judy Miller, formerly of the New York Times, did a lot of her Iraq WMD reporting on the basis of unverified or unverifiable sources like Curveball. There was undoubtedly less scrutiny of the administration’s case for war in Iraq because you could read Judy’s case for it in the New York Times. If the NYT can fall into the trap of reporting unproven – and even untrue – facts, how much more likely is it that bloggers will do that?

How likely is it that bloggers as a community will develop a code of ethics and reporting standards? Very unlikely, at least until they start getting paid and have some turf to protect. And how likely is that? Well, on Minnesota Public Television’s Almanac tonight, Michael Brodkorb was asked if there was an economic model for bloggers, a way for them to get paid. He replied, again paraphrasing, if there was, he hadn’t discovered it yet.

Spotty says that the rumor mill part of the blogosphere is probably approaching its zenith. It will always have a role in a networked world, but it will never replace solid reporting. In fact, the blogosphere, always nipping at the heels of the MSM, will probably make it better.

Boy that tune is familiar

Most of you know about Water Tiger at Dependable Renegade. She takes phtographs out of wire or other news sources and gives them hilarious - and insightful - captions. Here's one from today:

"This is a Klingon song of celebration. Can't you tell?"

You really should bookmark Dependable Renegade.

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It’s a mythical beast

Spot ran across this web article written for Common Dreams by Jonathan Cook, a writer and who lives in Nazareth, Israel. It should be especially interesting to you, boys and girls, in light of recent reports that the Senate candidates from both major parties have essentially the same position on the Israel – Lebanon conflict. Since Mark Kennedy is beyond hope anyway, Spot is going to concentrate on what Amy Klobuchar said and urge her to take another look. Here’s what Klobuchar said, as reported in the Star Tribune:

Klobuchar: "Israel has a right to defend itself, and it's doing exactly what our country would do if Iranian-made rockets came down on Wisconsin or Iowa or Minnesota. ... We would go to the country from which they were being fired and we would do whatever was necessary to protect our country."

Why yes, Amy, we would. However. If those pesky Iowans had started shelling Manitoba first, we would not be so justified in shooting back, especially if we killed hundreds, perhaps thousands by now, of innocents in the process. Here are some of the myths about that Mr. Cook identifies in his article:

The first myth is that Israel was forced to pound Lebanon with its military hardware because Hezbollah began “raining down” rockets on the Galilee. Anyone with a short memory can probably recall that was not the first justification we were offered: that had to do with the two soldiers captured by Hezbollah on a border post on July 12.

But presumably Horowitz and his friends realized that 400 Lebanese dead and counting in little more than a week was hard to sell as a “proportionate” response. In any case Hezbollah kept telling the world how keen it was to return the soldiers in a prisoner swap.

Hundreds of dead in Lebanon, at least 1,000 severely injured and more than half a million refugees -- all because Israel is not ready to sit down at the negotiating table. Even Horowitz [who had debated Cook on a broadcast program] could not “advocate for Israel” on that one.

So the chronology of war has been reorganized: now we are being told that Israel was forced to attack Lebanon to defend itself from the barrage of Hezbollah rockets falling on Israeli civilians. The international community is buying the argument hook, line, and sinker. “Israel has the right to defend itself," says every politician who can find a microphone to talk into.

But, if we cast our minds back, that is not how the “Middle East crisis," as TV channels now describe it, started. It is worth recapping on those early events (and I won’t document the long history of Lebanese suffering at Israel’s hands that preceded it) before they become entirely shrouded in the mythology being peddled by Horowitz and others.

Early on July 12 Hezbollah launched a raid against an army border post, in what was in the best interpretation a foolhardy violation of Israeli sovereignty. In the fighting the Shiite militia killed three soldiers and captured two others, while Hezbollah fired a few mortars at border areas in what the Israeli army described at the time as “diversionary tactics." As a result of the shelling, five Israelis were “lightly injured," with most needing treatment for shock, according to Haaretz.

Israel’s immediate response was to send a tank into Lebanon in pursuit of the Hezbollah fighters (its own foolhardy violation of Lebanese sovereignty). The tank ran over a landmine, which exploded, killing four soldiers inside. Another soldier died in further clashes inside Lebanon as his unit tried to retrieve the bodies.

There’s not much question that Israel has been spoiling for a fight with Hizbullah for some time, and the reverse is also true. But that doesn’t justify the massive artillery, rocket, and bomb attack by the Israelis, killing countless civilians. Here’s myth number two:

The second myth is that Hezbollah’s stockpile of 12,000 rockets -- the Israeli army’s estimate -- poses an existential threat to Israel. According to Horowitz and others, Hezbollah collected its armory with the sole intent of destroying the Jewish state.

If this really was Hezbollah’s intention in amassing the weapons, it has a very deluded view of what is required to wipe Israel off the map. More likely, it collected the armory in the hope that it might prove a deterrence -- even if a very inadequate one, as Lebanon is now discovering -- against a repeat of Israel’s invasions of 1978 and 1982, and the occupation that lasted nearly two decades afterwards.

Here’s the third myth that Cook articulates:

The third myth is that, while Israel is trying to fight a clean war by targeting only terrorists, Hezbollah prefers to bring death and destruction on innocents by firing rockets at Israeli civilians.

It is amazing that this myth even needs exploding, but after the efforts of Horowitz and Co. it most certainly does. As the civilian death toll in Lebanon has skyrocketed, international criticism of Israel has remained at the mealy-mouthed level of diplomatic requests for “restraint” and “proportionate responses."

One need only cast a quick eye over the casualty figures from this conflict to see that if Israel is targeting only Hezbollah fighters it has been making disastrous miscalculations. So far some 400 Lebanese civilians are reported dead -- unfortunately for Horowitz’s story at least a third of them children. From the images coming out of Lebanon’s hospitals, many more children have survived but with terrible burns or disabling injuries.

The best estimates, though no one knows for sure, are that Hezbollah deaths are not yet close to the three-figures range.

In the latest emerging news from Lebanon, human rights groups are accusing Israel of violating international law and using cluster grenades, which kill indiscriminately. There are reports too, so far unconfirmed, that Israel has been firing illegal incendiary bombs.

Conversely, the breakdown of the smaller number of deaths of Israelis at the hands of Hezbollah -- 42 at the time of writing -- show that more soldiers have been killed than civilians.

In other words, the Israelis are doing a much more efficient job of killing civilians than Hizbullah. And here’s the fourth myth about the cowardly Hizbullah:

The fourth myth is a continuation of the third: Hezbollah has been endangering the lives of ordinary Lebanese by hiding among non-combatants.

We have seen this kind of dissembling by Israel and Horowitz before, though not repeated so enthusiastically by Western officials. The UN head of humanitarian affairs, Jan Egeland, who is in the region, accused Hezbollah of “cowardly blending” among the civilian population, and a similar accuation was levelled by the British foreign minister Kim Howells when he arrived in Israel.

In 2002 Israel made the same charge: that Palestinians resisting its army’s rampage through the refugee camps of the West Bank were hiding among civilians. The claim grew louder as more Palestinian civilians showed the irritating habit of gettting in the way of Israeli strikes against population centers. The complaints reached a crescendo when at least two dozen civilians were killed in Jenin as Israel razed the camp with Apache helicopters and Caterpillar bulldozers.

The implication of Egeland’s cowardly statement seems to be that any Lebanese fighter, or Palestinian one, resisting Israel and its powerful military should stand in an open field, his rifle raised to the sky, waiting to see who fares worse in a shoot-out with an Apache helicopter or F-16 fighter jet. Hezbollah’s reluctance to conduct the war in this manner, we are supposed to infer, is proof that they are terrorists.

Egeland and Howells need reminding that Hezbollah’s fighters are not aliens recently arrived from training camps in Iran, whatever Horowitz claims. They belong to and are strongly supported by the Shiite community, nearly half the country’s population, and many other Lebanese. They have families, friends, and neighbors living alongside them in the country’s south and the neighborhoods of Beirut who believe Hezbollah is the best hope of defending their country from Israel’s regular onslaughts.

This is a complicated situation Amy and buying into the meme that Israel is merely defending itself may be good politics. But that doesn’t mean it’s correct.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Who are you and why are you running?

Ember Reichgott Junge has been hauled in the dock by Brian Melendez and the DFL party for this billboard:

And a court entered this order:
1. That there is probable cause to believe that Ember Reichgott Junge violated Minnesota Statute 211B.02 by using the initials "DFL" on her campaign billboards, web pages, and emails.

2. That this matter is referred to the Chief Administrative Law Judge for assignment to a panel of three Administrative Law Judges pursuant to Minnesota Statute 211B.35.
Wow. Do you suppose Ember will get the chair? What moral sin has Ember committed?

Here's the statute:
211B.02 False claim of support.

A person or candidate may not knowingly make, directly or indirectly, a false claim stating or implying that a candidate or ballot question has the support or endorsement of a major political party or party unit or of an organization. A person or candidate may not state in written campaign material that the candidate or ballot question has the support or endorsement of an individual without first getting written permission from the individual to do so.

What is Ember running for?

She running for Congress, grasshopper. But first, she has to win the DFL primary in September.

But how will people know she is running in the DFL primary if she can't say she's a DFLer?

That is an excellent question grasshopper. What is the sound of one hand clapping? It's a puzzle isn't it?

Spot imagines the next candidate event in the DFL primary race for the 5th District seat. Brian Melendez sits behind the group wielding a stout hickory switch. Every time one of the candidates, except the endorsed Keith Ellison, mentions DFL, Brian administers a sound whack!

Keith Ellison has the 5th District endorsement, and that should count for something. But it doesn't count for everything. And he is the only one who can claim to be "DFL endorsed." This is a silly, fractious lawsuit, and Spot recommends that the DFL drop it.

Update: Neither Democratic Farmer Labor Party nor DFL are registered trademarks, either.

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Spotty thought Katie liked authoritarianism

Katie's column today is all about mandates in health care. Well okay, it's really about bashing Amy Klobuchar, but never mind. On the other hand, mind. Katie is so concerned about the message in Klobuchar's latest ad about pushing for mandated 48 hour hospital coverage after childbirth. The column starts this way:
Amy Klobuchar's U.S. Senate campaign has just launched a new TV ad. In it, she laments that when her daughter was born, her health care provider had the nerve to make her leave the hospital after 24 hours, although the baby was sick and had to stay longer.
The Katie tells us that she knows whereof she speaks:
Her story hit home with me. I, too, benefited from a 48-hour hospital stay after one of my [4] children was born. I won't deny that I was pleased that my health insurance covered it.
But Katie can see how a rule like that if applied to other people would drive up Katie's heath insurance premiums:
But there's a catch. While candidate Klobuchar trumpets her success in creating a health care mandate, she also frequently decries the high cost of health care in Minnesota. Could success on the mandate front compound the cost problem?

The fact is, the cost of all these mandates adds up. In recent decades we've created a standardized roster of benefits -- some quite expensive -- that everyone covered by the mandates must buy, regardless of whether they need them or want to pay for them. A sizable number of people are being priced out of the health care market.

Many factors affect the cost of health insurance, but mandates are one cost-driver.

Merrill Mathews, director of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance, describes the problem this way: "Coverage with lots of mandates is like a Cadillac with options," he says. "It's great if you want it and can afford it. But if you can't, you have to walk."

State Sen. Brian LeClair, a member of the Senate Health and Human Services Budget Committee, builds on the automobile analogy. "We should mandate seat belts. But should we mandate leather upholstery and four-wheel drive? When it comes to health care, many people would find that a standard Buick works for them. What we need in this state is health insurance flexibility and choice."
A two-day stay in a hospital after having a baby is like leather seats in a car? If Spot had covered up the author of that leather seats analogy, boys and girls, would you have thought it spoken by a woman?

And who do you suppose the members of the Council for Affordable Health Insurance are? Spot bets it doesn't include your Gramma.

The issue is not just about giving patients more health care benefits. It is about whether attending physicians or health insurance companies decide what care is needed. Big difference.

And Katie, if you hate mandates so much, when are you going to start your series of columns railing against No Child Left Behind?

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What would Michel Brodkorb do?

That's the question posed by MNObserver in sending this article along: St. Paul police cite Sen. Norm Coleman's father for lewd and disorderly conduct. Here's the first graf:
Norm Coleman Sr., the father of Minnesota's junior senator, was cited for lewd and disorderly conduct Tuesday after police officers reported finding him engaged in a sex act in a car near a pizzeria on E. 7th St. in St. Paul.
Oh, dear! But Spot was relieved to read paragraph two:
A police report said officers were called to Savoy Inn [Spot: savory indeed!] about 6:30 p.m to investigate a report that two people were having sex in a car. The police report stated a woman, Patrizia Marie Schrag, 38, also was cited for lewd and disorderly conduct.
Spot was afraid at first the old fellow was a practitioner of Onanism! And his partner was a woman, too! What a relief!

We all know what Michael Brodkorb would do if this was the father of a DLFer. But Spot says it is just a case of overt age discrimmination. You see, when you're 81, it is hard to stay up late enough in the summer for it to be dark when you have sex in a car.

And people, if sex is so lewd and disorderly, how did you all get here?

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Conservatives without Conscience

That's the title of John Dean's new book.

Glenn Greenwald has a great post about the book.

Sigmund Spot has theorized for a long time that conservatives suffer from a defective empathy gene.

Thanks to Norwegianity for the link.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

This is Biblical!

The prodigal gas bag has come home! At least that's what Katie tells us. That's right, the right wing talk show host Jason Lewis is leaving his shangri-la - Charlotte, North Carolina - and returning to Minnesota. The irony is rich; it is too bad that neither Katie nor Lewis has a sense for it. "Mr. Right," pictured below, apparently made a wrong turn when he left Minnesota and his gig at KSTP AM a scant three years ago. [Spot had a great photoshopped picture of Jason, but it didn't get past the censors.]

Why is it again that Jason left us: Oh yeah. This from a interview with Kay Tillitson at the Star Tribune:
What will he miss most about Minnesota?

"The winter and the taxes," he [Lewis] said. "That's what I really wish I could stay for."
Boys and girls, Spot is pretty sure that Jason was just being sarcastic.

And why is he coming back? From his interview with Katie:
What lured Lewis back from balmy Charlotte? "People think Minnesota is more liberal than it is, and North Carolina is more conservative than it is," he says. Lewis says he was surprised by the "apathy" in the Tarheel State, as well as the state's escalating tax burden. He deplores, in particular, what he calls the devastating effects of a flood of illegal immigrants on health care and education.
And Jason and his wife want to raise their children in Minnesota!

Apparently, Jason was disappointed that there weren't more slack-jawed droolers in North Carolina than Minnesota. Unexpected, really. Anyway, welcome back Jason. We can use the tax revenue.

Katie and Jason, sittin' in a tree.

What was that, Spotty?

Oh, nuthin.'

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Nice shot!

Read about it here:

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Character witness?

Saddam Hussein's trial is winding up, and Spot is wondering if Hussein's defense team missed a historic opportunity to call a character witness:

For the story about this meeting, including what the US knew about Saddam at the time go to this article at the National Security Archive.

But maybe not so much a character witness as just a character:

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Monday, July 24, 2006

No post today

The power has been out at Chez Spot since mid-afternoon. It just came back on. No post today, boys and girls. Sorry.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Condi’s a midwife!

"What we're seeing here, in a sense, is the growing -- the birth pangs of a new Middle East."

Condoleezza Rice Press Conference July 21, 2006

Now, go and read Billmon on the birth pangs. Not for the faint of heart.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Victor Davis Hanson

Who's that dude, Spotty?

That, grasshopper, is none other than Victor Davis Hanson. Who's that? Well, we'll let Werther explain:
Let us stipulate straightaway: Victor Davis Hanson is the worst historian since Parson Weems [link by Spot]. To picture anything remotely as bad as his pseudo-historical novels and propaganda tracts, one would have to imagine an account of the fiscal policies of the Bush administration authored by Paris Hilton. [Spot: actually that isn't so hard to imagine]

Mr. Hanson, Cal State Fresno's contribution to human letters, is the favorite historian of the administration, the Naval War College, and other groves of disinterested research. His academic niche is to drag the Peloponnesian War into every contemporary foreign policy controversy and thereby justify whatever course of action our magistrates have taken. One suspects that if the neo-cons at the American Enterprise Institute were suddenly seized by the notion to invade Patagonia, Mr. Hanson would be quoting Pericles in support.

Once we strip away all the classical Greek fustian, it becomes clear that the name of his game is to take every erroneous conventional wisdom, cliche, faulty generalization, and common-man imbecility, and elevate them to a catechism. In this process, he showcases a technique beloved of pseudo-conservatives stuck at the Sean Hannity level of debate: he swallows whatever quasi-historical balderdash serves the interest of those in power, announces it with an air of surprised discovery, and then congratulates himself on his boldness in telling truth to power.
After that introduction, Werther really gets critical! Spot recomments the whole post.

Why do we care about VDH? Well, we don't, but the Power Line guys do. One of them, Death Squad John as Spot recalls, recently gushed over a recent web article written by Hanson (do his friends just call him VD?). Johnny said it was perhaps the most important thing that Hanson has written, which is, come to think of it, damnation with faint praise.

What got Death Squad John so excited? Hanson wrote an op-ed piece in the online journal Real Clear Politics that the West's patience is wearing thin with those pesky Muslims. He muses about another way:
What then would be the new Western approach to terrorism? Hard and quick retaliation -- but without our past concern for nation-building, or offering a democratic alternative to theocracy and autocracy, or even worrying about whether other Muslims are unfairly lumped in with Islamists who operate freely in their midst. [italics are Spot's]

Any new policy of retaliation -- in light both of Sept. 11 and the messy efforts to birth democracies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and the West Bank -- would be something of an exasperated return to the old cruise-missile payback. Yet in the new world of Iranian nukes and Hezbollah missiles, the West would hit back with something far greater than a cruise missile.

If they are not careful, a Syria or Iran really will earn a conventional war -- not more futile diplomacy or limited responses to terrorism. And history shows that massive attacks from the air are something that the West does well.
What Hanson suggests is, of course, a war crime. That's probably why Death Squad John is so fevered about what Hanson writes.

Spot knows you guys are rilly rilly, like, frustrated, but you keep wanting to do things that will only make the situation worse. You also keep assuming that we are actually in charge. Silly boys.

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The warrior is from this Russian site.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Thanks to MNObserver for posting here while Spot was gone. Her posts - especially the one applying the truth salve to Sticks' facts-chapped little bottom (how's that for an image?) when he discussed James J. Hill's railroads - were excellent. MNObserver has a set of keys to the doghouse, and Spot hopes she will continue to post over here from time to time.

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What Spot did on summer vacation

Spot and Mrs. Spot took just a few days off this week to go to the Mississippi headwaters at Lake Itasca.

Spotty, that was discovered by Lewis and Clark, wasn't it?

No, grasshopper, Spot's afraid you're wrong.

It was Father Hennepin, ever earlier, wasn't it Spotty?

Nope. Wrong again.

I know! I know! It was that Italian dandy Giacomo Beltrami. He got a county named after him, too.

Alas, that is not correct either. Give up? The white man credited with discovering the source of the Mississippi River is Henry Rowe Schoolcraft. He had an Indian guide, quoted in stone at the headwaters visitor center.

And three days later, Schoolcraft has this to say.

In other words, credit goes to the first white guy who was wise and humble enough to ask for directions. Here's a little bit about the history of the area.

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A horned hot dog?

Spotty, why is that man getting ready to roast the giant hot dog with horns?

Ah, grasshopper, Spot is afraid that he has a scary story to tell. That's not a hot dog, it's a grasshopper impaled on the man's trident. And it's not just any man, either. It's St. Urho, patron saint of the Finns, or some of them anyway.

According to legend, St. Urho drove the grasshoppers from ancient Finland, thereby saving the grape harvest and the jobs of the vineyard workers.

According to the site at the link above, St. Urho's day is celebrated each year on March 16th, the day before the observance of the day of a minor saint from Ireland.

The statue in the picture was erected to honor St. Urho by the good people of Menahga, Minnesota.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Emily Litella Speaks Out On The Situation In The Middle East

Read what she has to say at A Tiny Revolution here.

Today's Republican News Release

(St. Paul, Minnesota) - Two days after Matt Entenza ended his campaign for Attorney General in a cloud of controversy, Matt Entenza still walks the city a free man, fully intending to vote for Amy Klobuchar in the upcoming elections. The Mark Kennedy campaign is calling on Amy Klobuchar to cut all ties with the lower-than-a-worm Matt Entenza until Entenza realizes the error that is his life, divorces Lois (how dare she be more successful than a Republican) Quam, gives all his money to the Minnesota State GOP, hacks off his left pinky finger, and promises to retreat into a cave until his life is cut short by a violent act perpetrated by someone from Murderapolis and his body is placed in an unmarked pauper’s grave in a remote part of the state.

"If Amy Klobuchar is going allow Matt Entenza to remain alive and voting during the middle of this controversy, it raises serious questions," said Pat "Enron" Shortridge, campaign manager for Mark Kennedy 06. "Given reports of Entenza funneling money back to the someone other than a GOP candidate from some obscure PAC in South Dakota, and given Matt Entenza’s current struggle with every glob of mud we have flung at him, Amy Klobuchar should do the right thing and begin chopping off her own fingers until all the evidence is out in the open. To do anything less is making a mockery of the one party nation the Republican party has worked so hard to build."

"Amy Klobchar and her Liberal friends have dared once too often to point fingers at those of us who really are above the law. As Republicans, we are entitled to say one thing and do another. She is not," continued Shortridge. "Will this be another example where we need to watch Amy Klobuchar? You would have thought what we did to Matt Entenza would have taught her. Her unwillingness to do as we require is quickly becoming a pattern."

(Hat tip to MDE)

Update from Spot: Be sure to read the comments to the MDE post that MNObserver links to.

Tired Old Junk

I know that Spotty's readers always approach Mondays and Thursdays with a pressing need to learn his take on Katie's latest pearls of wisdom. I know that Spotty wants me to interject logic and reason and snark into whatever subject matter she takes on while he's away. I know that all those people from the Strib visit on those days, looking to see how Spotty has vivisected the latest.

But I read Katie's column this morning and there's really nothing to be said. It's the same tired old junk - ignoring facts she doesn't like, and completely making stuff up about on the ones she does. She looks at some poll numbers and magically transports herself into the minds of those answering and just knows what they meant. Here are the real results of the poll, and it should come as no surprise that her results aren't there.

The question posed was one asking folks what the single most important problem facing the state is. 22% chose "education." Katie - armed only with this lone number - screams that it proves any number of her ridiculous conclusions. Sorry, Katie. The number no more proves that Minnesotans want "solutions to long-time educational problems that have little to do with money" than it proves that Minnesotans want "to do away with high school proms where those mean blonde cheerleaders always get chosen prom queen and that's why schools suck."

I can hardly wait to see Katie's take on the number in the poll that states that the number of respondents who ranked "Moral values" has dropped from 5% to 1% between 2000 and 2006.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

On the internet, no one knows you're not a dog...

...So Spotty's been kind enough to let me fill in while he's tackling the rigors of a vacation. Let's review what Spotty's missing while he's gone, boys and girls.

The Republicans are trying to market the war in the Middle East as WWIII because they think it’ll play well in the mid-terms, as they're counting on all calls for restraint "falling away." A solid DFL candidate is run out of an election by an opposition research professional - get this - because the candidate did opposition research! Ann Coulter says that she sent the white powder to the NYT mailroom, but right-wing eliminationist apologists point out that Michael Moore is fat, so there. The US Attorney General just yesterday admitted that Our Glorious Leader personally blocked the clearances for DOJ lawyers, thus preventing them from investigating warrantless eavesdropping. The White House press Secretary implies that Helen Thomas is carrying water for Hezbollah, but the GOP hacks will soon remind us that she's ugly, so no harm done.

Spotty will also be happy to hear that I'm paying attention to some of his favorite people, too. Captain Fishsticks has penned a piece that rewrites history broadly, pretending that the Northern Pacific Railroad simply didn't exist:

Meanwhile, James J. Hill built the Great Northern Railway, running from the shores of Lake Superior to Washington State, with private capital.

While subsidized railroads used government authorization to grab public and private lands, Hill spent his own money to relocate farmers along his rail route. He knew that his railroad would prosper only if the region it ran through prospered. Hill funded agricultural research and livestock breeding to ensure that farmers, and his railroad, had something profitable to ship.

In tough economic times, when subsidized railroads fell on hard times, Hill and other private railroaders built spurs into Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks, creating a tourist industry and introducing Easterners to the grandeur of the American West.

Robber baron?

Oh yeah. Hill’s railroad made him rich.

What the good Captain neglects to tell us is that BOTH of Hill's railroads made him rich. While the Great Northern wasn't a land grant railroad, the other Hill railroad, the Northern Pacific was the recipient of the very first charter for a transcontinental line, and along with it received from the federal government some 47 million acres of land. Hill knew how to play both sides, and he took advantage of the very same land grants that other railroads did. He just had his privately funded railroad too.

Taken together, the Hill lines across the Dakotas were the ultimate monopoly, controlling not only grain transport to market, but the import of all outside goods and the transport of all passengers. His considerable efforts to merge the two began in the 1890’s, but antitrust and labor concerns kept the efforts at bay until 1970.

So, boys and girls, be sure to look beyond the incredible tales of Libertarians that the invisible hand of the market and mere hard work will make all of us wealthy. James J. Hill did it, but only with plenty of government handouts.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A special surprise

You might want to check back here from time to time while Spot is gone this week, boys and girls. There may be a special surprise. Really.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

We've got trouble!

Alternate title: This ain't yo' Mama's Southdale

We've got trouble! Right here in River City. Trouble, that starts with T, which is next to S, and that stands for Southdale! (Spot's apologies to Meredith Wilson.) So says Katie in her column today about the crime wave at Southdale Mall, Katie's second favorite place of worship. It seems a young person was stabbed in a gangland massacre in the Food Court! Oh dear Spotty, what happened to him?

Well, he was treated at Fairview Southdale and released.

(The photo shows a tension-filled scene from near the entrance to the theaters at Southdale.)

What other terrible things have taken place at Southdale that Katie mentions, Spotty?

Well, grasshopper, Spot has examined Katie's breathless reporting a couple of times, and he can't find anything else. Katie said that Mike Siitari, the chief of police, said that theft and disturbance calls were up - obviously something to be worried about. But probably not warranting Katie's hysteria.

But now, boys and girls, Spot will tell you what Katie's column was really about: the invasion of Edina by brown people from Minneapolis.
Just kids shoplifting CDs, you think? On May 13, Southdale had a gang-related stabbing. Two groups of juveniles accosted each other while waiting for a movie, and a fight broke out. The youths -- all Minneapolis residents -- identified themselves as members of Hispanic gangs, the Sureños 13 and Los Vatos Locos, according to Siitari. The victim was treated and released. [italics are Spot's]

Why the nerve of those kids! Leaving the inner city where they belong. If these kids have bus fare to Southdale, we had better cut back on social services. They clearly have too much money to spend! Here's Katie's fretful finish:
Parental escorts? Verbal judo? High-tech command centers? [some of the things being tried elsewhere] It doesn't sound like the shopping trips of my youth. But now these things are part of the landscape -- everywhere.

That's the world we've made for us and ours.

You got that last part right Katie, only you and your buddies like Mitch Pearlstein would only make it worse if you could.

Tags: frets shopping center security

More from Death Squad John

Spot is trying to get ready to be away for a few days, but he can't let this one from this morning from Death Squad John at Power Line slide by:
Cease Fire?

Breaking news: Israel reportedly has proposed a cease-fire if Hezbollah agrees to release the two captured Israeli soldiers and withdraw from southern Lebanon, to be replaced there by the Lebanese Army.

My first reaction is that a cease-fire seems premature, as Hezbollah's capabilities are not yet sufficiently degraded. On the other hand, it would be a major political defeat for Hezbollah to be ousted from southern Lebanon, and a significant strategic accomplishment for Israel--assuming, of course, that one has confidence in the Lebanese Army. As such, it seems doubtful whether Hezbollah will agree; so the offer may be a sensible prelude, from a political standpoint, to further hostilities.

Yes, DSJ, I guess Hizbullah is not yet in its last throes, like the insurgents in Iraq! For better worse, Hizbullah is probably the strongest military force in Lebanon. It ain't goin' anywhere, DSJ. The Israeli strategy here is to try to provoke - or rather hope for - another Lebanese civil war. But it wouldn't get rid of Hizbullah.

Take it away, Oliver

Here's the first paragraph in a recent Oliver Willis post:
According to . . . what is it again? Oh, yes, a scientific study U.S. public school kids aren't the drooling morons in comparison to the elitist private schools that the right is constantly pushing. Imagine that.

Follow the link in Oliver's post, and you get to this New York Times article. Spot urges you to read the article, boys and girls, but here's the summary:
The Education Department reported on Friday that children in public schools generally performed as well or better in reading and mathematics than comparable children in private schools. The exception was in eighth-grade reading, where the private school counterparts fared better.

The report, which compared fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores in 2003 from nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools, found that fourth graders attending public school did significantly better in math than comparable fourth graders in private schools. Additionally, it found that students in conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind their counterparts in public schools on eighth-grade math. [italics are Spot's]

The report, a link to which can be found in the Times article, did give a slight nod to the reading scores of the private schoolers in the eighth grade. Just in time to wade into those religious polemics!

Even though the study was commissioned by the U.S Department of Education, the administration is deeply ashamed of it. According to the Times:
Its release [the report], on a summer Friday, was made with without a news conference or comment from Education Secretary Margaret Spellings.

Reg Weaver, president of the National Education Association, the union for millions of teachers, said the findings showed that public schools were "doing an outstanding job” and that if the results had been favorable to private schools, there would have been press conferences and glowing statements about private schools."

"The administration has been giving public schools a beating since the beginning" to advance its political agenda, Mr. Weaver said, of promoting charter schools and taxpayer-financed vouchers for private schools as alternatives to failing traditional public schools.

And speaking of charter schools, does the public really have any idea how much money we have sunk into charter schools in Minnesota, and with what result? Spot thinks he will look into it. He'll dedicate his effort to Katie, Captain Fishsticks, and John Brandl!


Sunday, July 16, 2006

A little about the law of the conflict

No commentary by Spot, but here's a link to a web article about the law of the war between Israel and Hezbollah.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

The cold Cyberian wind

Spotty got a new computer. It does everthing that Spot asks with speed, attention to detail - all computers run to the obsessive side, machinery wise - and even a little enthusiam. Except send email and find Spot's favorite websites to read and research. This too will come in the fullness of time. But in the meantime, it is hard to get a worthwhile - in Spot's humble opinion, anyway - post out. Spot is also going out for a few days to frollick in the north woods. So there won't be much posting for a few days. Sorry.

Spotty is thinking of getting Sigmund Spot to fill in at least once and explain the authoritarian personality.

Later. Ta ta!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Spot's new crush

Coleen Rowley came to Drinking Liberally last night. Rowley is the former FBI agent, whistle-blower, and Time Person of the Year who is challenging John Kline in Minnesota's Second District. She was personable and well spoken, and she took and answered questions directly. Spot thinks it is fair to say that Rowley was well-liked by the hard-bitten (no pun intended) mostly-blogger crowd.

You all remember Coleen Rowley, don't you boys and girls? She's the FBI agent who wanted to look at the hard drive contents of Zacarias Moussaoui's computer after he was arrested in Minnesota on an immigration violation but she couldn't get the FBI to apply for a FISA warrant. As it turns out, the feds might have found out something about why some people were taking flying lessons, and they also might have learned about Richard Reid before we found about him because passengers had to blow out the matches he was using to try to light his shoe bomb.

Anyway, Rowley had some interesting facts about John Kline's voting record. Especially interesting to Spot was Kline's poor voting record, according to public interest groups involved in these areas, on the environment and veteran's affairs. Kline is a hunter and fisherman, and of course a Marine Corps veteran.

Kline receives a lot of special-interest money, including $30,000 last election cycle from Tom Delay's PAC (Spot has posted about this before, and as Yogi Berra used to say, "You can look it up.") So Spotty says all you Democrats, progressives, environmentalists, and true supporters of our military, go over to her site and contribute some money to Coleen Rowley.

Update: Check out Charlie Quimby and Smartie's take on the DL evening, too.

Update on the update: It was REW's post, not Smartie's. Sorry, REW. Spot didn't mean to create a rew-barb.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Does this describe Captain Fishsticks or what?

This is just a part of his post. Kevin-M wins a Spotty for the following description of libertarians. Remember, boys and girls, that a Spotty is awarded to the author of a letter to the editor, op-ed piece, blog post, or blog comment that Spot wishes he had written.
[ . . . ] allow me to confess that I’ve got no time for libertarians.

You know what a libertarian is? A libertarian is a Republican who’s read too much science fiction. A libertarian is that guy (because, seemingly, they’re all guys) who will provoke an argument with you at the drop of a hat, only to declare himself the victor five minutes later because you haven’t read some obscure Belgian’s economic treatise and so you obviously can’t have anything intelligent to say about market forces. A libertarian is the sort of dude who will proclaim himself in favor of all sorts of hedonism and debauchery, yet will blanch like a Victorian abbot at the decadence on display at your average outstate Ruby Tuesday’s. Libertarians operate under the impression that their beliefs are too profound and subtle to be accepted by the common run of dumb people, which conveniently shields them from nagging doubts that their beliefs may be as error-ridden and prejudiced as anyone’s. Libertarians sometimes run for public office, but they never win. No one wants to elect some guy who’s only in it for himself. The libertarians who are wise enough to be ashamed of John Stossel are seldom wise enough to be ashamed of Ayn Rand or Rush.

If I hear someone say that they’re a libertarian, I immediately think: Oh Christ, I’ve got to get away from this jackass... Most days, I’d rather have my balls chewed on by a pack of wily otters than have a discussion with a libertarian. I suppose I’m a bigot when it comes to libertarians. If you are reading this and you’re a thoughtful, generous, modest and civic-minded libertarian, I apologize. I’m a dick. There’s really no excuse for me.

Death Squad John

John Hinderaker is at his barbarous, savage worst in a couple of recent posts at Power Line: Cold Fury and Kill, Don’t Capture, both from July 10th. In both of them, he advocates extra-judicial killing. Cold Fury starts out this way:
The terrorists have posted a video of their multiple desecrations of the bodies of Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker, the two American soldiers who were captured in Iraq. The video apparently shows one of the corpses being beheaded; thankfully, it appears that both men were already dead by that point.

The terrorists who were responsible for this atrocity need to be hunted down and killed. When Russian diplomats were murdered by Iraqi terrorists, Vladimir Putin publicly directed Russia's secret service to track down the perpetrators and kill them. And Russia doesn't even have any armed forces in Iraq.

Has our government issued a similar order? Not that we know of. We chose this war; we chose this battlefield; we chose to send men like Menchaca and Tucker to Iraq because we believed it was important to our security. Their brutal murders have exposed, once again, the face of pure evil that we are fighting in this war. They must be avenged, and the American public must know that they have been avenged, not forgotten.

What Death Squad John, as Spotty will henceforth refer to him, neglects to mention is that there were some peculiar circumstances surrounding the kidnapping and brutal murders of Menchaca and Tucker. This looks as though it was revenge for the rape and murder of family members by soldiers in the same unit as Menchaca and Tucker. An old-fashioned honor killing. Which doesn’t make it less brutal or wrong. But it does kinda explain things a little.

You know, Death Squad John, you and your ilk may have done all the choosing you refer to in the quoted language, but Spot did not. And Spot and many others do not want the US military to organize itself into hit squads to exact revenge for us. That’s exactly what Menchaca and Tucker’s killers did. Are you truly so frightened that you cannot see the irony of that?

And Spot cannot resist the spectacle of Death Squad John holding out Vladimir Putin as a moral exemplar.

Kill, Don’t Capture has the same bloodthirsty quality to it. Death Squad John refers with approval to another right wing nut who apparently agrees with DSJ that:
Violent Islamist extremists must be killed on the battlefield. Only in the rarest cases should they be taken prisoner. Few have serious intelligence value. And, once captured, there's no way to dispose of them.

That right, Death Squad John; take no prisoners! Shoot ‘em all and let God sort ‘em out!

Spotty grieves that a lawyer – an officer of the court sworn to uphold the law – would write words such as these. Among the laws that attorneys agree to uphold are, of course, our treaty obligations. That brings us back to those pesky Geneva Conventions, and in particular Common Article 3 which prohibits carrying out of punishments – and certainly executions – without a trial in a real court or tribunal with at least the bare minimum of due process. Just shooting everyone on the “battlefield” – or maybe in a house in the middle of the night – doesn’t quite do it, in spite of what Death Squad John, John Yoo, and Huckleberry Graham may say about the Geneva Conventions.

It’s high time we quit listening to pants shitters like Death Squad John and behave like real Americans.

Tags: advocates

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

You got religion in my government!

Alternate title: Trauma from Obama

Spot has been meaning to do a post on Barack Obama’s invitation to Democrats to embrace evangelical Christianity. Well, maybe not embrace exactly, but at least loosen up a little. This has been gnawing at Spotty for a while, but he needed some kind of a catalyst, a harmonic convergence, or a visit from Sarah Dippidy as one of Spot’s pups used to say, to get it going. Well, Spot’s prayers were answered. No, not by God, but by Poputonian at Hullabaloo. You’ll want to read the whole post. It starts this way:
I didn't get the memo from [James] Carville, so I don't know if he warned Democrats to tip-toe around religious issues and instead suggested that more votes could be had by assisting the religious right in their attempts to take over the government. But I wanted to revisit the statement made a few days ago by Barack Obama where he paid lip service to religious conservatives by stating Democrats should embrace the evangelical end of the spirituality spectrum. He crossed a line, in my opinion, when he said this:

"It is doubtful that children reciting the Pledge of Allegiance feel oppressed or brainwashed as a consequence of muttering the phrase 'under God.'"

An unfortunate formulation indeed. Poputonian goes on to discuss a 1765 monograph by John Adams entitled A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law. Adams says:
Since the promulgation of Christianity, the two greatest systems of tyranny that have sprung from this original, are the canon and the feudal law.

Adams develops the theme that religion seeking ascendancy in temporal and well as religious affairs has been a scourge o mankind:
But another event still more calamitous to human liberty, was a wicked confederacy between the two systems of tyranny above described. It seems to have been even stipulated between them, that the temporal grandees should contribute every thing in their power to maintain the ascendancy of the priesthood, and that the spiritual grandees in their turn, should employ their ascendancy over the consciences of the people, in impressing on their minds a blind, implicit obedience to civil magistracy.

If that doesn’t sound like Katie and the Evangelicals to you, boys and girls, you haven’t been paying attention. Adams continues:
It was this great struggle [against ecclesiastical and civil tyranny] that peopled America. It was not religion alone, as is commonly supposed; but it was a love of universal liberty, and a hatred, a dread, a horror, of the infernal confederacy before described, that projected, conducted, and accomplished the settlement of America.

Poputonian concludes, in part, this way:
I don't think Democrats should acquiesce on the fundamental principle of religious separation, one of the root causes of the American rebellion . . .

Nor does Spot. And it is here that Spot has to disagree with the guy he supports for the Minnesota state senate seat in District 41, Andrew Borene. In a recent blog post, Andrew
refers with approval to the Obama speech. But the idea that the United States is somehow formed under or beholden to a system of natural law – whatever its source, is antithetical to our entirely positive law constitutional system.

Religion cannot be brought into government without danger to both. This is one area where the Muslims have it absolutely wrong. The tendency of any theologically-based or tinged government is to veer to the extreme. Whether it is the colonist-influenced Likud party in Israel, the Taliban in Afghanistan, the dominance of the Catholic Church in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in Spain, or the domination of Calvinism in the Netherlands in the seventeenth, and perhaps even the influence of the Church of England during the Victorian era with its “white man’s burden” and ultimately ruinous notions of empire, the effect is always the same.

Religious thinking can and should inform our thinking about the social contract, our own behavior, and our relationship with others. Tinting government with theology however is a recipe for disaster, as John Adams and the rest of the Enlightenment figures who founded this country understood.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Now this is genuinely funny!

Alternate title: Mitch Berg thinks he has a scoop!

Mitch Berg at Shot in the Dark reports today that the 200 wealthy Minnesotan who took out the ad advocating higher state income taxes are heavily Democratic. He even has a reader who was capable of turning data about political contributions into a three-page spreadsheet! What an eye-popping revelation!

People who believe in the public interest are Democrats. Thanks for sharing the results of your little under-employed friend's work, Mitch.

Mitch also tells us that he will be posting more information about the Gang of 200 from his other similarily-situated friends. What are you going to do, Mitch? Go and pee on their shrubs?

Spotty awarded to Rochester resident!

Here's one you don't want to miss, boys and girls: The need to know: No questions, no dissent in our endless war. It was in the StarTribune on Sunday (yesterday), but Spot is linking to a Vox Verax republish of the piece because the Strib will take it down from its website in a few weeks.

In his op-ed piece, Paul Scott refers to a US House resolution that Spot frankly missed:
For those who have not been paying attention, please put down your iPods and read the following: Reps. John Kline, Gil Gutknecht, Colin Peterson, Mark Kennedy and Jim Ramstad all voted to declare that Congress "expects the cooperation of all news media organizations. ... "

Chances are tomorrow's historians will remember House Resolution 895, but they will not be able to criticize it. Chances are that when the policies set in motion under the deplorable presidency of George W. Bush have reached their fruition, the state-approved history of our time will have omitted the steady erosion of dissent first initiated on Fox News and ultimately embraced by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The scoundrels who make their living feeding the flames of right-wing outrage will tell you that a newspaper, the New York Times, committed the treasonous act of reporting the existence of a secret program to monitor banking transactions with terrorist ties. They will tell you that this reporting put American lives at risk and gave help to the enemy. They will tell you that it is time for the arrest and prosecution of journalists in America, and that no other action will help us win this "war."

They will not tell you that the president had repeatedly and publicly pledged to monitor banking transactions. They will not tell you that Congress publicly asked him to do so in the Patriot Act. They will not tell you, as recently reported in the Boston Globe, that the counterterrorism efforts of the consortium in question, SWIFT, was already a matter of public record in a U.N. document. They will not tell you, as recently reported in the Washington Post, that SWIFT makes clear on its very own website that it cooperates with state authorities tracking criminal activity.

Spot has commented on the SWIFT issue in a post called Jonah pisses himself, again. It is perhaps unnecessary for Spot to mention that Scott expressed himself much better than Spotty did!

Go and read the latest Spotty winner.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

And it has come to pass

Just as Spot predicted. In a front page above the fold story, the Sunday StarTribune tells of the new ways that TCF Bank will infect the body and soul of the University of Minnesota as a result of the stadium naming-rights deal that it got with the U and the State of Minnesota.

Here's what the State Senator for the the district in which the University is located said:
State Sen. Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Minneapolis, who opposed the naming-rights deal when legislators approved the $248 million stadium this spring, has a different view [from the shining Babbittry of TCF]. "It's clear the market value of a land-grant university has been put up for sale," he said.

Indeed it has. Here are just some of the things that TCF gets according to the article:
• Provide TCF exclusive access to the names and addresses of 236,300 alumni and season ticket holders so it can market new debit cards.

• Put the TCF Bank Stadium logo on everything from tickets and stadium menus to service worker uniforms and stadium maintenance vehicles.

• Allow TCF to solidify its position as a dominant banking institution on campus, and potentially push two competitors -- US Bank and Chase Manhattan Bank USA -- out of key locations.

Other perks were granted to the bank.

They include making available for free the head football coach, the school's "Spirit Squad" or the Goldy Gopher mascot to TCF for appearances. The university also pledged to pay the expenses for the bank to fly four people to one Gophers away football game a year, and give the bank a 16-seat "prime location" suite at all home games. [italics are Spot's]

Terrific! Go out for the cheer squad so you can shill for a savings and loan! Be Goldy and get to wear a neat sweater with a TCF logo! Well, at least they'll get some cheer squad applicants from the ranks of aspiring bankers at the biz school!

When the U was putting itself on the market, did it pursue other offers. Naw, it was pretty much an exclusive deal for TCF:
While [the University's general counsel and principal soul-seller] Rotenberg said the university was not obligated by law to seek naming-rights offers from other banks, another document outlined potential costs of doing business with anyone other than TCF.

In assessing an offer from Wells Fargo, the document stated that "increased exposure by Wells Fargo" could diminish money paid to the university by TCF from existing business arrangements. The document also warned of a possible "TCF legal challenge."

In other words, TCF said to the University: We get it or we sue. Kinda takes the shine offa Bill Cooper standing smiling with U President Robert Bruniks and our boy Senator Geoff Michel (a principal sponsor of the TCF bill), doesn't it? Where indeed do we get people like these?

This deal will stand as a monument to bad legislative judgment and the triumph of pure hucksterism. To TCF and the Legislature, and the University, Spot says a pox on all your houses.

Tags: The sold its soul to with the help of

Parody art by Ken Avidor

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Brodkorb here

Brodkorb here.

This is Kathy Kersten.

What? Speak up! I can’t hear you.


Sure Katie, I mean Kathy, what’s up?


Dirt, baby? You’ve come to the right place. He’s a terrible driver.


Well, no, but he got some parking tickets.


[defensively] Well, he has some moving violations, too!


‘Fraid so, sweetie. What’s your email address; I’ll send you the whole list.


Later . . .

Hey Dane and Pat! I did some checking around and hacked the DMV database, and guess what? Keith Ellison is a terrible driver! Here’s a complete list.

Thanks Katie, I mean Kathy. When we write our story, you won’t get a byline, but we’ll say at the foot of the story that you contributed to it.