Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Crude, indeed

NYMEX crude oil futures are over ninety-four bucks a barrel this afternoon (Bloomberg) and the Dow is up almost 140 points on the 250 basis point drop in the fed funds rate.


Professors rush in

Where sensible people fear to tread. Thanks to Karl, Ken, and Eva at Dump Michele Bachmann for this one.

Alternate title: My Congresswoman the farmer

Yesterday, Professor Empty Holster posted an open entreaty to his Congresswoman, Michele Bachmann, to do something in the farm bill about FINOs: farmers in name only, who receive subsidy payments from the federal government:

If you live in the Twin Cities, look around you. One of your neighbors might be getting money from agricultural subsidies. Over a billion dollars in an eighteen month period. While there have been repeated attempts to limit farm subsidy payments to only those who are actively participating in farming, the article claims some are getting checks merely for participating in a conference call once a year.

There's a new farm bill working its way through Congress right now, and fixing this problem is not on the agenda. If someone would like to wear the mantle of fiscal conservative -- let's say you, Rep. Bachmann -- how about a proposal to stop this silliness?

There is only one teensy weensy problem. Michele Bachmann is a FINO:

King, I took your advice and looked around and guess who I found collecting fat farm subsidies? My neighbor Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Bachmann, who earns $165,200 as a congressperson, and whose husband is a clinical psychologist, owns up to a quarter-million-dollar interest in the Bachmann Farm Family Limited Partnership in Independence, WI. Paul Bachmann, a family member who runs the Bachmann farm, has collected $232,445 in federal farm subsidies for the Bachmann family farm between 1995-2005. And Michele reported between $2,501-$5,000 in income from the family farm in 2006, so clearly she's got her nose in the subsidy trough.

You're absolutely right, King. How about a proposal from Michele Bachmann to "stop this silliness?" I eagerly await your next interview with Michele when you can ask her about these subsidies and what she's going to do to stop this "socialized farming." I can't wait until your buddy, failed congressional candidate Jason Lewis, asks her about it too, because he was railing about all those libruls and their support for farm subsidies on the radio yesterday.

Anybody who wants to look up the history of Bachmann farm subsidies can find it at the Environmental Working Group's Farm Subsidy database at


Spot's got a box of kibble for the first person to produce a picture of Michele Bachmann in muck boots and coveralls.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Not thinking on Easter Island

From the Introduction to Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, (Viking 2005):

Chapter 14 [of Collapse] asks the perplexing question arising for every past society that ended up destroying itself, and that will perplex future earthlings if we too end up destroying ourselves: how could a society fail to have seen the dangers that seem so clear to us in retrospect? Can we say that their end was the inhabitants' own fault, or that they were instead tragic victims of insoluble problems? How much past environmental damage was unintentional and imperceptible, and how much was perversely wrought by people acting in full awareness of the consequences? For instance, what were Easter Islanders saying as they cut down the last tree on their island? It turns out that group decision-making can be undone by a whole series of factors, beginning with failure to anticipate or perceive a problem, and proceeding through conflicts of interest that leave some members of the group to pursue goals good for themselves but bad for the rest of the group.

What were those Easter Islanders thinking? Perhaps it was "Man, this stuff is worth 300 gruks a board foot." Maybe not.

Anyway, we're at an Easter Island moment in our own history. From the gleeful Malthusian, James Kunstler, writing yesterday:

When historians glance back at 2007 through the haze of their coal-fired stoves, they will mark this year as the onset of the Long Emergency – or whatever they choose to call the unraveling of industrial economies and the complex systems that constituted them. And if they retain any sense of humor – which is very likely since, as wise Sam Beckett once averred, nothing is funnier than unhappiness – they will chuckle at the assumptions that drove the doings and mental operations of those in charge back then (i.e. now).

The price of oil is up 53 percent over a year ago, creeping up now toward the mid-$90-range. The news media is still AWOL on the subject. (The New York Times has nothing about it on today’s front page.) The dollar is losing a penny a week against the Euro. In essence, the American standard of living is dropping like a sash weight. So far, a stunned public is stumbling into impoverishment drunk on Britney Spears video clips. If they ever do sober up, and get to a “…hey, wait a minute…” moment when they recognize the gulf between reality and the story told by leaders in government, business, education, and the media, it is liable to be a very ugly moment in US history.

One of the stupidest assumptions made by the educated salient of adults these days is that we are guaranteed a smooth transition between the cancerous hypertrophy of our current economic environment and the harsher conditions that we are barreling toward. The university profs and the tech sector worker bees are still absolutely confident that some hypothetical “they” will “come up with” magical rescue remedies for running the Happy Motoring system without gasoline. My main message to lecture audiences these days is “…quit putting all your mental energy into propping up car dependency and turn your attention to other tasks such as walkable communities and reviving passenger rail….” Inevitably, someone will then get up and propose that the transition to all-electric cars is nearly upon us, and we should stop worrying. As I said, these are the educated denizens of the colleges. Imagine what the nascar morons believe – that the ghost of Davey Crockett will leave a jug of liquefied “dark matter” under everyone’s Christmas tree this year or next, guaranteed to keep the engines ringing until Elvis ushers in the Rapture.

If Spot ever wrote a passage that good, he would die a happy dog.

It will be very interesting to see if we run out of energy or water first.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Bethany and the 300 Spartans

Spotty, we haven't heard much from you for a couple of days, boy!

Spot's been thinking.

Do you always think with your eyes closed, Spotty?

Such impertinence, grasshopper! If you must know, Spot has been thinking about the new conservative docu-drama, Indoctrinate U. Brought to you by the same masters of the art who brought you Urine Luck and Five Greasy Feces, it tells the haunting story of a cadre of brave conservative college students who are unwilling to leave their life-long fealty to racism, religious bigotry, homophobia, misogyny, and gun nuttery at home when they head off in the pursuit of higher education. Their dedication is the stuff of legend.

Patrons of the film will be treated to gripping scenes of neatly-dressed conservative students going toe to toe with bearded and sandaled college professors that will take you back to the Warsaw ghetto, the Alamo, and yes, even the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae. Given the audience it will play to, Indoctrinate U will not leave a dry eye in the house.

The conservative illuminati hope that the movie will tear off the scab, lance the boil, bleed the patient . . .

That enough, Spot.

Okay. Anyway, the hope is that America will wake up to academia's distaste for the yahooism and ignorance these snots think is their birthright to keep without challenge. There are plenty of local conservatives voices adding to the chorus:

Last Thursday, in itching anticipation of the film's opening the next day, Katherine Kersten's column was titled The pariahs of our college campuses. Here's a bit from the column:

It's become a common complaint that U.S. campuses are home to a stifling liberal orthodoxy where contrary beliefs are persecuted. [U. Professor Ken] Doyle says it's no illusion.

A new film, "Indoctrinate U," documenting that atmosphere, opens near campus tomorrow.

Bethany Dorobiala, a senior political science major at the U of M, knows just what Doyle is talking about. Dorobiala was one of the few students who agreed to speak on the record about the problem.

O, brave, brave Bethany! Who is the mythic Bethany who stepped out from behind the ramparts in contempt of the liberal arrows to talk to Katie? Who will now carry her lifeless frame to the funeral pyre? [cue Wagner's Entrance of the Gods into Valhalla]

Uh, Spot, isn't Bethany Dorobiala the great kahuna of the Minnesota College Republicans?

That she is, grasshopper, but of course Katie didn't tell us that. Hear these powerful words from the courageous Bethany:

Dorobiala has encountered this disregard for intellectual diversity in classes outside of political science. "In geology class, I had a teacher who made side comments bashing President Bush," she said. A rigid orthodoxy prevails on issues as disparate as the death penalty and global warming, she says, and some professors regularly pontificate on topics outside their discipline.

A geologist talking about global warming! Can you imagine that?

Spot, don't geologists study stuff like ice sheets and pre-industrial climates?

They do grasshopper, and a geologist is probably in as good a position as anyone to comment on our drooling idiot president and his disregard of global warming. And Spot remembers, from back in the dark days of the Vietnam war, a physics professor who taught him Newtonian mechanics (so you can tell how old Spot is) but also voiced his concern about the carnage half a world away. You don't have to be the Grim Reaper to have an opinion about death.

Besides, if you could only have an opinion about things on which you are an expert, it would mean the end of Katie's column!

But Katie isn't the only siren singing the song of Indoctrinate U. In fact, Captain Fishsticks beat her by a day with 'Indoctrinate U.' -- the ill effects of an illiberal liberal bias.

Spot's favorite, though, was from Professor Empty Holster, who writes after the opening:

If you are a college student, a parent with college students, a future college student, this movie is a must see. What has happened since the 1960's on our campuses is a disgrace, a waste of taxpayer money, but most importantly, a defeat for the open exchange of ideas. Our nation has thrived on the exchange of ideas, different opinions, and the right to express them. Forcing students to adhere to a one-sided philosophy is bad for all.

King Banaian is an odd duck in the Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom set. What he, and Sticks and Katie want, naturally, is just more elbow room for their own oppression and intolerance.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Econ 101: Gunfight at the OK corral

You cannot make this stuff up. Earlier today, Spot put up a post about, inter alia, Empty Holster Week on campus. Organizers of EHW say this:

During the week of October 22-26, participating students and faculty at over 110 colleges and universities throughout America will wear empty holsters on campus, in protest of state laws and school policies that stack the odds in favor of armed killers by disarming law abiding citizens licensed to carry concealed handguns virtually everywhere else (movie theaters, office buildings, shopping malls, etc).

The symbolic point of the Empty Holster Protest is to represent that students, faculty, and guests on college campuses are left defenseless (with nothing but empty holsters) by state laws and school policies that refuse to afford concealed handgun license holders the same rights on college campuses that they are afforded virtually everywhere else.

Spot wondered whether King Banaian would be wearing the lonesome holster. Apparently so:

Via Best of the Web, the story of students who are walking with empty holsters on campus to protest the prohibition on guns on campus.

"People who would otherwise be able to defend themselves are left defenseless when on campus," said Ethan Bratt, a graduate student wearing an empty holster this week on the campus of Seattle Pacific University.

Students for Concealed Carry on Campus, a group of college students, parents and citizens who organized after the deadly shootings at Virginia Tech University in April, launched the protest.

...Campuses are prime targets for people intent on harming others because laws prohibit concealed weapons there, Bratt said.

But others believe college is no place for firearms.

"You don't like the fact that you can't have a gun on your college campus? Drop out of school," said Peter Hamm, a spokesman for the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

I would like to think the market will take care of this; schools willing to treat their students with respect regarding their right to carry a weapon can appeal to those who wish to do so. But campuses have long been hostile to the idea -- particularly the faculty, as I found out some years ago.
As Peter Hamm's response indicates, it doesn't occur to the gun-restricter that he's even violating rights. We've seen that up here, according to Wendy Kaminer.

It is remarkable to Spot that such an alienated sociopath could rise to the level of department chair at a public university in Minnesota.

The King has an idea about the market, though. Wouldn't it be nice, boys and girls, if all the knuckle-dragging, drooling troglodytes were concentrated in one place, taught by guys like the King, and then loosed on a Mad Max preserve somewhere upon graduation to just shoot at each other in a competition for food and mates?

Bitten in le ass!

Future vacation plans of many Bush administration officials are likely to be curtailed as Don Rumsfeld found out earlier today:

October 26, 2007, Paris, France – Today, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) along with the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), and the French League for Human Rights filed a complaint with the Paris Prosecutor before the “Court of First Instance” (Tribunal de Grande Instance) charging former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with ordering and authorizing torture. Rumsfeld was in Paris for a talk sponsored by Foreign Policy magazine, and left through a door connecting to the U.S. embassy to avoid journalists and human rights attorneys outside.

Why do people want to put Rummy in the dock, Spotty?

Here's more from the linked article:

“The filing of this French case against Rumsfeld demonstrates that we will not rest until those U.S. officials involved in the torture program are brought to justice. Rumsfeld must understand that he has no place to hide. A torturer is an enemy of all humankind,” said CCR President Michael Ratner.

France is under the obligation to investigate and prosecute Rumsfeld’s accountability for crimes of torture in Guantanamo and Iraq. France has no choice but to open an investigation if an alleged torturer is on its territory. I hope that the fight against impunity will not be sacrificed in the name of politics. We call on France to refuse to be a safe haven for criminals.” said [International Federation for Human Rights] President Souhayr Belhassen.

They can't prove a thing, can they Spotty?

Well, grasshopper, perhaps they can:

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, former commander of Abu Ghraib and other U.S.-run prisons in Iraq, submitted written testimony to the Paris Prosecutor for the plaintiffs’ case on Rumsfeld’s responsibility for the abuse of detainees.

Spotty, how can the perfidious French do this to a red-blooded American patriot?

Actually grasshopper, it because of something called universal jurisdiction and the Convention Against Torture:

The criminal complaint states that because of the failure of authorities in the United States and Iraq to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of Rumsfeld and other high-level U.S. officials for torture despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture – and because the U.S. has refused to join the International Criminal Court – it is the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case.

In this case, charges are brought under the 1984 Convention against Torture, ratified by both the United States and France, which has been used in France in previous torture cases.

Do you remember, boys and girls, when George Bush bought a ranch in Paraguay? Spot always figured that he might turn it into a resort for his buddies who can't travel anywhere else!

Paul Wellstone, prophet

From MNPublius:

Standing on the floor of the United States Senate five years ago, Paul Wellstone predicted that a war in Iraq would cost us a fortune in blood and treasure. He predicted that oil prices would rise and that Al Qaeda would use U.S. intervention as a recruiting tool. He predicted that our reputation around the world would suffer and so would our war on terror and our efforts in Afghanistan. He predicted “a years-long effort to stabilize Iraq after an invasion.”

Pretty accurate forecasting, don't you think, boys and girls?

Also posted there is the video of Wellstone explaining his "no" vote on the resolution:

Of course, it's the full moon!

Have you noticed the especially weird vibe in the ether this week, boys and girls? That odd, rhythmless, nearly inaudible hum, the portent of zaniness afoot? How do you explain the confluences of these events:

Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week:

Beginning on October 22, student groups across the nation will hold Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week on their campuses. These protest weeks will feature a series of events designed to bring a message to these academic communities that challenges most of what students are taught about the so-called War on Terror both in the classroom and on the quad.

The Week’s events will include speeches about Islamo-Fascism by prominent figures, including former Senator Rick Santorum (Penn State, Temple and UPenn), Sean Hannity (Columbia), Ann Coulter (Tulane and USC), Dennis Prager (UC Santa Barbara), Robert Spencer (Brown, Dartmouth, University of Rhode Island, and DePaul), Daniel Pipes (Northeastern and UPenn), David Horowitz (Columbia, Emory, Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin), Michael Ledeen (Maryland), Nonie Darwish (UCLA and Berkeley), Wafa Sultan (Stanford) and radio talk show hosts Melanie Morgan (San Francisco State), Michael Medved (University of Washington), Martha Zoeller (Georgia Tech), Alan Nathan (George Mason), Mark Larson (to be named) and many others.

Please note that the University of Pennsylvania is getting a double dose from Rick Santorum and Daniel Pipes. Kind of like being a Greek city and getting an extra visit from the Apostle Paul, Spot supposes. People in Philadelphia must be seriously out of line!

The next item is the glittering opening of the white whine grievance-bag classic, Indoctrinate U, that Katie wrote about so bowl movingly (and about which Spot will have more to say later) yesterday:

It's become a common complaint that U.S. campuses are home to a stifling liberal orthodoxy where contrary beliefs are persecuted. [U Professor Ken] Doyle says it's no illusion.

A new film, "Indoctrinate U," documenting that atmosphere, opens near campus tomorrow.

And finally, and Spot must confess his favorite, is Empty Holster Week on college campuses across the country. Would be vigilante collegians will parade around their campuses wearing their gun belts with an empty holster as a protest of their not being able to pack heat. It is a great way to identify people with other, er, empty holster issues, too!

This is from the Empty Holster Week protest guidelines:

Do not carry ANYTHING in your holster. Some members have suggested the idea of carrying cell phones or other personal items in their holsters, as a way of showing that the holsters themselves are harmless; however, SCCC strongly discourages against doing so. Aside from the fact that a casual observer’s overactive imagination might lead him or her to believe that the item in your holster is actually a gun, carrying something in your holster detracts from the protest’s statement. The point of wearing EMPTY holsters is symbolic, so please don’t confuse the issue by placing anything in your holster.

Yes, boys and girls, hard as it is to believe, somebody might think the object in a GUN holster is a GUN. Some people are just funny that way.

Well, Spot was thinking about these events—pondering them in his heart, so to speak—on his way to DL last night when a big full moon rose in the east. Spot heard dogs all over town baying at the moon. Spot stopped and corked off a few howls himself.

Apparently, some folks just observe the full moon in other ways.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is that all there is?

You know all that yammering about Peak Oil, boys and girls? You know, the idea that we will soon produce the most oil per day that the world is capable of, and then daily production will begin its inexorable decline forever? Turns out, some experts think that is too optimistic to look forward to Peak Oil; we already passed it:

World oil production has already peaked and will fall by half as soon as 2030, according to a report which also warns that extreme shortages of fossil fuels will lead to wars and social breakdown.

The German-based Energy Watch Group will release its study in London today saying that global oil production peaked in 2006 - much earlier than most experts had expected. The report, which predicts that production will now fall by 7% a year, comes after oil prices set new records almost every day last week, on Friday hitting more than $90 (£44) a barrel.

The prospects are not promising:

"The world soon will not be able to produce all the oil it needs as demand is rising while supply is falling. This is a huge problem for the world economy," said Hans-Josef Fell, EWG's founder and the German MP behind the country's successful support system for renewable energy.

The report's author, Joerg Schindler, said its most alarming finding was the steep decline in oil production after its peak, which he says is now behind us.

The results are in contrast to projections from the International Energy Agency, which says there is little reason to worry about oil supplies at the moment.

However, the EWG study relies more on actual oil production data which, it says, are more reliable than estimates of reserves still in the ground. The group says official industry estimates put global reserves at about 1.255 gigabarrels - equivalent to 42 years' supply at current consumption rates. But it thinks the figure is only about two thirds of that.

Global oil production is currently about 81m barrels a day - EWG expects that to fall to 39m by 2030. It also predicts significant falls in gas, coal and uranium production as those energy sources are used up.

What? We're running of uranium? This could be really bad news for the nuclear weapons industry.

A less than rosy future is predicted:

The report presents a bleak view of the future unless a radically different approach is adopted. It quotes the British energy economist David Fleming as saying: "Anticipated supply shortages could lead easily to disturbing scenes of mass unrest as witnessed in Burma this month. For government, industry and the wider public, just muddling through is not an option any more as this situation could spin out of control and turn into a complete meltdown of society."

Mr Schindler comes to a similar conclusion. "The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. This change will be triggered by declining fossil fuel supplies and will influence almost all aspects of our daily life."

Jeremy Leggett, one of Britain's leading environmentalists and the author of Half Gone, a book about "peak oil" - defined as the moment when maximum production is reached, said that both the UK government and the energy industry were in "institutionalised denial" and that action should have been taken sooner.

 Institutional denial. The same thing could be said about the US government and energy industry, and the automakers, and transportation planners, and, well, you get the picture. The one thing we have done is alienate most of the Arab world with our support and encouragement of the colonist elements in Israeli society. This will not prove to be productive.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Inhaling the Kristol-meth

Alternate title: Halloween comes a week early to Minnesota!

Billy Kristol, a/k/a Bloody William, speaks tonight—Tuesday—at the fall bonding ritual of the Center of the American Experiment. And what a gala event it promises to be! Kristol will undoubtedly be peddling his latest project: war with Iran.

Kristol is one of the movers and shakers of the New Citizenship Project, which is in turn responsible for the Project for the New American Century:

An initiative of the New Citizenship Project, a 501(c)(3) organization headed by William Kristol (Chairman) and Gary Schmitt (President), the Project for the New American Century was funded in part by such organizations as the Sarah Scaife Foundation, the John M. Olin Foundation and the Bradley Foundation.

On January 26, 1998, in the PNAC's open letter to President Bill Clinton, its members explicitly called for a U.S. ground campaign to oust Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.

And we know what an unsurpassed success that has been, don't we boys and girls! Although Spot doesn't have a link at the moment, Kristol is the same sage who told us before the Iraq war that we really didn't need to worry about enmity between the Sunnis and the Shia. Kristol is just another confidence man like Richard Perle or "Cakewalk" Adelman.

It is really ironic that the Project for the New American Century types like William Kristol are only increasing the speed of the US decline as the "world's only superpower" as they like to call it. Here's the overview of a book by Professor Charles A. Kupchan, titled The End of the American Era:

At a time when American primacy appears to be stronger than ever, Council [on Foreign Relations] Fellow and Georgetown Professor Charles Kupchan argues that the end of Pax Americana is near. What will replace American supremacy, and how American leaders should prepare for this new era, are the central questions of this provocative new book.

In a work of remarkable scope, Kupchan contends that the next challenge to America is fast emerging. It comes not from the Islamic world or an ascendant China, however, but from an integrating Europe, whose economy already rivals America’s. According to Kupchan, as the European Union seeks influence commensurate with its economic status, it will inevitably rise as a counterweight to the United States. America and Europe are parting ways, and the discord will extend well beyond the realm of trade. Decades of strategic partnership are poised to give way to renewed geopolitical competition.

Kupchan argues that the unraveling of American primacy will be expedited by growing opposition at home to the country's burdensome role as global guardian. Although temporarily reawakened by terrorism, America's appetite for international engagement is on the wane; the country’s historic aversion to foreign entanglements is making a comeback. Returning as well is America's fondness for unilateral action, which risks alienating the partners needed to tame an increasingly complex world.

Here's the preface to the book.

You can look forward to a glowing account of this demagogue's appearance in coming days from Power Line and Katie.

A thump of the tail to Rob Levine for the event link.

Spot told you it was good

Media Transparency, that is. In yesterday's article about billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife's pet right wing causes in The Washington Post, the data comes straight out of Media Transparency.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Wither water?

Apparently, Atlanta woke up recently to the fact that it is in the grip of a very serious drought:

For more than five months, the lake that provides drinking water to almost five million people here has been draining away in a withering drought. Sandy beaches have expanded into flats of orange mud. Tree stumps not seen in half a century have resurfaced. Scientists have warned of impending disaster.

But hey, it's caught those cats napping:

The response to the worst drought on record in the Southeast has unfolded in ultra-slow motion. All summer, more than a year after the drought began, fountains blithely sprayed, football fields were watered, prisoners got two showers a day and Coca-Cola’s bottling plants chugged along at full strength. In early October, on an 81-degree day, an outdoor theme park began to manufacture what was intended to be a 1.2-million gallon mountain of snow.

But then, when the problem began to dawn on elected officials, they took drastic measures:

In late September, with Lake Lanier forecast to dip into the dregs of “dead storage” in less than four months, the state imposed a ban on outdoor water use. Gov. Sonny Perdue declared October “Take a Shorter Shower Month.”

That kind of sacrifice just makes you tremble, doesn't it, boys and girls?

Now that Atlanta is just about out of freakin' water, it is time to assign blame. The governor? They mayor of Atlanta? Real estate developers? The citizens of Atlanta?

No, of course not. It's the mollusks fault:

[T]he state has engaged in interminable squabbles with its neighbors over dam releases and flow rates. The latest attempt at mediation with Alabama fell apart just last month. And Georgia officials insist that Atlanta would have plenty of water were it not for the Army Corps of Engineers, which they say has released more water from Lake Lanier than is necessary to protect three endangered species [two kinds of mussels and a sturgeon] downstream. Last week, Governor Perdue filed for an injunction against the Corps.

In other words, we are expected to give up more of our grandchildren's biological patrimony so the unbridled development of Atlanta can continue:

A realistic statewide plan, experts say, would tell developers that they cannot build if no water is available, and might have restricted some of the enormous growth in the Atlanta area over the last decade. Already, officials have little notion how to provide for a projected doubling of demand over the next 30 years. The ideas that have been floated [Spot thinks that was intended as a pun], including piping water from Tennessee or desalinating ocean water, will require hundreds of billions of dollars and painful decisions the state has been loathe to undertake.

One has to feel really bad for the plight of the champions of green grass:

Mary Kay Woodworth, executive director of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association, said almost 14,000 workers in landscaping and other businesses that depend on planting and watering had lost their jobs.

“This is a precious natural resource and it has not been managed well,” Ms. Woodworth said. “That’s one of the reasons we’re in this situation today. The infrastructure was not in place for the development.”

Spot feels your pain, Mary Kay.

It's hard to know if Peak Oil or Peak Water will kill the sprawled Atlanta first. The latter is the title of a post at Across the Great Divide on projected water shortages in the West. Water has always been in short supply in the West, and now it is being exacerbated by climate change.

People in the Sunbelt like to make fun of the people in the Rust Belt. But you know what? You need water to make thing rust.

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Absolute Dead Center

Of what, Spotty?

The Absolute Dead Center of the American Experiment, Mitch Pearlstein, rushing to the defense of President Dease and St. Thomas over the dis-invitation of Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu, says in an op ed in the Strib:

Grant Smith ("These are stifling times on college campuses," Oct. 12) pined for what he described as much more tolerant college campuses of the 1980s. Comparing then to now, he wrote, "I stand in awe over how intolerant of diverse views higher education and research institutions have become."

Was he really referring to the same decade I remember?

With the strains of The Way We Were wafting in the background, Mitch gives us three examples of intolerance from the 80s:

When, for example, in 1983, intellectually barren thugs at the University of Minnesota unfurled a large swastika from the Northrop Auditorium balcony, trying to shout down then-United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick?

Or might he have been fondly recalling 1987, when a similar gang, again at Northrop, tried to prevent then-Vice President George H. W. Bush from speaking?

Or was Smith talking about the same stretch of history when students, especially at the most prestigious institutions, were more likely to sophomorically demonize Ronald Reagan as "Ray-Gun" than to welcome him respectfully to their campuses?

Boy, he's got a point, Spotty!

But there is a big difference between St. Thomas and the examples cited by the Absolute Dead Center. Can you tell what it is, grasshopper?

[thinks for a while] No, Spotty I can't.

It's quite simple and quite important, grasshopper. Only one of these situations is a case of institutional intolerance. Which one is it?

Of course! It's St. Thomas who brought institutional intolerance to bear to un-invite Archbishop Tutu! That's much more important than what some students or activists might do, isn't it?

As that stuffed shirt George Will might say, grasshopper, they are not morally equivalent. But Mitch wants us to know that he thinks his sack of grievances is bigger than the liberals':

But at the risk of framing this issue excessively in ideological terms, there was at least a subtle implication in Smith's column that scholars and speakers on the left such as Tutu are generally treated by colleges and universities no worse than their counterparts on the right; that all different kinds academics and activists are abused and censored equally. Yet no way is this true.

When was the last time, boys and girls, that Mitch was ever afraid of framing things "excessively in ideological terms?"

Can't remember the last time, Spotty.

It's actually a pretty funny thing for the chief extruder at the ideological extrusion plant called the Center of the American Experiment to say.

But there is a larger point to be made here. Every time that the Dismal Swamp belches another bilious blast of racism, bigotry, or misogyny, it gets all bent out of shape when the notion isn't accepted into the Pantheon of Ideas and listened to respectfully as a matter of "balance." Here's just a couple of examples:

Al Gore drives conservatives absolutely crazy. Paul Krugman wrote about it in Gore Derangement Syndrome. But hating Al Gore doesn't diminish the reality of global warming; conservatives seem to think if they can get people to hate Gore more, global warming will go away. It is completely magical thinking, like trying to blame your sins and shortcomings on Lucifer.

A little closer to home, we have Tracy Eberly's recent racist rant on American Indians, calling them little more than animals. When Spot called him out on it at the link, Tracy left a comment, saying:

Just how is an opinion about a stone age culture racism? Indian still subscribe to the collectivist beliefs that have failed miserably in the 20th century.

A culture that is incompatible with western ideals is hardly a racial issue.

Tracy Eberly is not only a racist, he's an eliminationist! But he's offended that someone might listen to him with less than complete respect.

There are many variations on this theme. Spot remembers back when Katie lamented that people were intolerant of the intolerance of Michele Bachmann.

But there is no need for tolerance of the intolerant: quite the reverse.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Gore derangement syndrome

On Monday, Paul Krugman described a mental disorder known as Gore Derangement Syndrome. Krugman described the pathology partly as follows:

What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?

Partly it’s a reaction to what happened in 2000, when the American people chose Mr. Gore but his opponent somehow ended up in the White House. Both the personality cult the right tried to build around President Bush and the often hysterical denigration of Mr. Gore were, I believe, largely motivated by the desire to expunge the stain of illegitimacy from the Bush administration.

And now that Mr. Bush has proved himself utterly the wrong man for the job — to be, in fact, the best president Al Qaeda’s recruiters could have hoped for — the symptoms of Gore derangement syndrome have grown even more extreme.

But that's not the entire explanation:

But Gore hatred is more than personal. When National Review decided to name its anti-environmental blog Planet Gore, it was trying to discredit the message as well as the messenger. For the truth Mr. Gore has been telling about how human activities are changing the climate isn’t just inconvenient. For conservatives, it’s deeply threatening.

And in today's Strib, Cakeville's answer to Old Faithful proves Krugman to be right:

Congratulations to Al Gore for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his fallacious discourses on man-made global warming.

He now joins other "peaceful luminaries," like Yasser Arafat, who did such a good job terrorizing the Middle East, and Jimmy Carter, arguably the worst president of the 20th century.

Perhaps this award needs a new name. How about changing it to the "Nobel Failed Peace Prize"?


George W. Bush: missed it by that much! (The 20th century, that is.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

He probably cannot even say "outmaneuvered"

Prezinut Dimwit, that is. You'll remember these remarks from Bush after his first meeting with Putin in 2001:

[Putin, responding to a question]  Can we trust Russia? I'm not going to answer that. I could ask the very same question.

PRESIDENT BUSH: I will answer the question. I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy. We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country. And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue.

Sweet baby Jesus; Bush sounds like he's giving a testimonial about falling in love with somebody he met on eHarmony. Do you suppose Laura knows? This cretin is the leader of the (formerly) free world.

While Bush (and Cheney) have been busy throwing their weight around the world, they and the Project for a New American Century boys haven't noticed that the rest of the world was getting, well, annoyed. Or if they noticed, they really didn't care. It's been clear to Spot, and a lot of people brighter than Spot, that pushback was coming. Iraq is just one example of the phenomenon:

After the Cold War, the world found itself in a historically unusual situation in which one nation held a vastly disproportionate share of all the military power in earth. The United States spends more on military than the next many countries combined, and, in a real military confrontation (we’re not talking counterinsurgency) could defeat almost any imaginable coalition that might form against it.

The United States wants this to continue as long as possible. The Bush administration has, in fact, made it explicit national security strategy to prevent any peer or competitor to arise. But there’s more than enough non-U.S. wealth to finance more non-U.S. military might. In the long run, Roger says, the continuation of this one-superpower situation depends on the rest of the world accepting it and deciding it is safe to allow the U.S. to hold a virtual monopoly on military might.

The best way for the U.S. to be trusted with a virtual monopoly on military might is to signal that it accepts some limits on what it will do with the monopoly and that it attaches serious weight to the wants and needs of the less powerful.

The best way for the U.S. to send the signal that this one-superpower situation is unsafe, is to use its military power in ways that make other nations nervous, that raise, for example, the fear that one day the United States might decide to use its military power against the other nations or their interests.

In 2002-2003, the U.S. signaled clearly that it accepts no limitations on its freedom and willingness to use its military might to invade and occupy another nation and topple its government for reasons had to satisfy only one test: the current occupant of the White House felt such invasion/occupation/regime change was in the interests of the United States.

The mechanisms of the United Nations and international law in general were disregarded and insulted. Those mechanisms may be imperfect, but what others are there might restrain the hegemon from doing the same thing again, perhaps against your small nation or one its allies or in direct contradiction to your small nation’s interests?

This message of a superpower deaf to any voluntary restraints on the use of its power is exactly the message you would want to send if your goal was to get the other nations of the world to decide that they and their interests were not safe in a one superpower world, and to be tempted to spend more and collude with each other to create a counter weight that could be used to deter the superpower from future such actions.

We got a really good example of the development of a counterweight by the guy with the bedroom eyes today:

TEHRAN, Oct. 16 — President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said at a summit meeting of five Caspian Sea nations in Iran on Tuesday that any use of military force in the region was unacceptable, and in a declaration the countries agreed that none of them would allow their territories to be used as a base for military strikes against any of the others.

Mikhail Klimentyev/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran in Tehran today.

“We should not even think of making use of force in this region,” Mr. Putin said.

Mr. Putin’s comments and the declaration come at a time when the United States has refused to rule out military action to halt Iran’s nuclear energy program, which it believes masks a desire to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its program, including the enrichment of uranium, is solely for peaceful purposes.

The sound you hear, boys and girls, is a gauntlet hitting the ground.

The drooling idiot that we call the Commander in Chief—may God have mercy on us all—has pissed away all of the goodwill and moral authority that the US has ever had. And now the cheese stands alone.

Katie, Tracy, and Vernon

Spotty, is that a song sung to the tune of Dion's Abraham, Martin, and John?

Hardly, grasshopper. But Katie, Tracy, and Vernon are connected in a weird way.


Well, you know Katie; Tracy is the purveyor of a stream of reptilian invective at a blog called "Anti-Strib," and Vernon is Vernon Bellecourt, who died a few days ago.

Let's start with Vernon Bellecourt, Vernon's brother, Clyde, was the founder of the American Indian Movement; Vernon joined him soon after its founding. One of the issues that was important to Vernon was a discontinuation of the use of Indian names as sports team mascots. Here are a couple of items from the linked article about Vernon Bellecourt's life:

1997: Arrested in Cleveland during World Series protests of the Cleveland Indians' mascot, Chief Wahoo. Charges dropped. Also, demonstrates on the property of Alliant Techsystems in Hopkins in protest against production of land mines.

1998: Arrested again in Indian nickname protest. Never charged.

Gee, Spotty, it looks like he didn't like land mines, either. What a spoil sport!

Well, Katie sure thinks so, grasshopper. In her column yesterday, Katie taunts the University of Minnesota over an advisory committee's recommendation against playing the North Dakota "Fighting Sioux" nick-named teams and challenges athletic director Joel Maturi to overturn it. She points to inconsistencies: some Indians names are apparently OK while "Fighting Sioux" is not. Katie has a point.

But rather than arguing that the UofM should consistently avoid playing teams with Indian mascot names, she argues in favor of scrapping the advisory committee's recommendation altogether.

Spotty, Katie doesn't seem very sensitive to the sensibilities of the Indians, does she? Where do you suppose that comes from?

Grasshopper, it undoubtedly comes from drinking the Kool-Aid from the same cup as Tracy, who recently penned this: Dirt Worshiping Heathens:

Nothing pisses me off when some liberal brings up the asinine idea that American Indians were some sort of “Noble Savages”. They got the savage part right but most tribes were far from noble.

Laying the ambiguous grammar aside, we will assume that Tracy means to say that he doesn't like American Indians. Tracy confirms the hypothesis a little later in the post:

The life of an Indian was no nobler, nor much different from that of a bear, a snake or a timber wolf. Their life cycles were identical: hunt, kill, eat, sleep, fuck, die. I’d compare them to the entire animal kingdom, but that would be an insult to beavers. A honey bee could be said to have a more complex, evolved society than a Native American[.]

It is unclear to Spot precisely what set him off on this rant; it seems to have just sprung fully-formed from the head of Tracy. It is apparently miraculous that the company of Lewis and Clark was protected through the winter by the Mandan Dakota, rather than just being eaten for dinner!

Tracy is a member of the Alliance of Free Blogs, an organization that employs a logo that looks like it was derived from the one employed by Adolph Hitler's merry band. You can see it on Tracy''s site; Spot won't reproduce it here.

Ooh, Spotty, Doug Tice isn't gonna like that!

Tough. Perhaps more pertinent, Tracy is a member of the Minnesota Organization of Blogs, or MOB. Power Line, and Katie's BFF Scott Johnson, are also members of MOB. And the perfesser, King Banaian, is running to be the mayor of MOB.

Katie and Tracy are just tapping a deep vein of racism right here in Minnesota.

A thump of the tail to Avidor for the Anti-Strib link.

[update] Nick Coleman—a favorite of the gomerel Tracy, natch—had a fine column today with more information about Vernon Bellecourt. [/update]

Monday, October 15, 2007

Heedless self interest

Paul Krugman had an interesting column today—hardly news there—titled Gore Derangement Syndrome. It is, as the title suggests, about the right wing's reaction to Al Gore's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize. And it is true; there are few other things that have gotten the Cheetos-stained fingers of the wingers moving so fast. But that's not what Spot wants to talk about today.

Here's a paragraph in the column that caught Spot's eye:

“We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals,” said F.D.R. “We know now that it is bad economics.” These words apply perfectly to climate change. It’s in the interest of most people (and especially their descendants) that somebody do something to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, but each individual would like that somebody to be somebody else. Leave it up to the free market, and in a few generations Florida will be underwater.

FDR's words also apply perfectly to the unchecked destruction of neighborhoods by rapacious spec builders. Spot has written before (in Rape and Pillage and Rape and Pillage II) about one Edina neighborhood's effort to rein in the construction of a giant abscess on a city-sized lot on Edina's east side.

The local Edina newspaper picked up the story last week:

Like many of the older Twin Cities suburbs, Edina has been mulling the idea of limiting large homes on small lots for years, decades by some estimations.

For some residents, the process isn't moving fast enough. Others approach the issue more cautiously, but almost everyone has an opinion.

In the article, Cary Teague, the chief dawdler in the city's planning department, is quoted as follows:

Teague said those who believe the council isn't working fast enough on the issue might not understand the intricacies that are involved.

He said Edina has chosen to pursue the issue from an ordinance perspective, avoiding often contentious case-by-case exemptions or variances.

However, an ordinance must pass legal muster. Too strict and builders might claim the city is unfairly robbing them of their right to have use of their property. Too lenient and the underlying problems causing massing may not be addressed.

Just like Goldilocks, Teague wants the city to wait until it's "just right!" (Spot also says that Teague's clammy dread of litigation is overblown, especially in the case of single lot redevelopment.)

Why the city would come down on the side of spec builders from say, Blaine, in favor of long-time residents, seems a mystery to many. But Spot says this is where the magic of the market comes in. At least that's what the Edina council seems to think. Here again is the video clip of the council's discussion of zoning versus the free market.

But as Spot has observed before, it is naïve to think that a public good—like a well-planned community that permits neighbors to live in relative harmony—will be produced by an entirely "free market."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Minnesotans Against (some) Terrorism

In an op ed in today's Star Tribune, Mark Rotenberg tells us the Important Lessons to be learned for l'affaire Tutu. Among them is this:

Another lesson is about jumping to conclusions without evidence. Tutu's canceled invitation received international notoriety because many thought it was part of a pattern of widespread Jewish pressure to censor Israel's critics.

But President Dease demolished that idea. "I was under no pressure from any pro-Israeli groups or individuals, nor did I receive any requests from them to refrain from inviting Archbishop Tutu to speak," he declared. That an esteemed Catholic university leader would feel compelled to make such a public denial is sad testimony to an upsurge of sinister theories about Jewish power in America today.

The truth is that university campuses are awash with anti-Israel sentiment. Harsh critics of Israel -- including diverse Israeli and American Jewish voices -- are commonplace in academic settings. Their books receive broad popular attention in the United States, and their perspectives dominate international forums. It takes no courage to be an Israel basher and no effort to find anti-Israel literature and speakers on college campuses, in the media and on the Web. Those who bewail secret Jewish influences in American politics are not describing reality, but are dabbling in a dangerous cesspool of prejudice.

Mark Rotenberg is, boys and girls, full of doo doo. The "secret Jewish influences?"  These influences are quite open. This is from an article on the Zionist Orgnization of America's website that Spot linked to earlier:

The decision of a number of American universities to invite Archbishop Desmond Tutu as a featured speaker is deeply troubling, in view of Tutu’s long record of statements comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and complaining about what he called “Jewish arrogance.”

. . .

Speaking in a Connecticut church, Tutu said that “the Jews thought they had a monopoly on God; Jesus was angry that they could shut out other human beings.” In the same speech, he compared the features of the ancient Holy Temple in Jerusalem to the features of the apartheid system in South Africa. (Hartford Courant, Oct. 29, 1984) Tutu has also asserted that “the Jewish people with their traditions, religion and long history of persecution sometimes appear to have caused a refugee problem among others.” (South African Zionist Record, July 26, 1985)

. . .

Tutu has also openly compared Israel to Hitler and apartheid: “I’ve been deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa … I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about … “I say why are our memories so short? Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? … The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust. Injustice and oppression will never prevail.” (Ha’aretz, April 29, 2002)

It takes a lotta damn gall, make that chutzpa, Rotenberg, to claim, as you do, that criticism of Israel is "dabbling in a dangerous cesspool of prejudice." The rhetoric of Israeli apologists like Rotenberg becomes more shrill and clumsy as the case against Israel's treatment of the Palestinians builds and becomes more apparent to the American public. Israel is apparently desperate enough to enlist the help of the apocalyptic fools in the American evangelical community. [thanks to Eva Young for the link]

And what should you make of the claim that no one pressured St. Thomas to "uninvite" Desmond Tutu? How about this:

"We had heard some things he said that some people judged to be anti-Semitic and against Israeli policy," says Doug Hennes, St. Thomas's vice president for university and government relations. "We're not saying he's anti-Semitic. But he's compared the state of Israel to Hitler and our feeling was that making moral equivalencies like that are hurtful to some members of the Jewish community."

St. Thomas officials made this inference after Hennes talked to Julie Swiler, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

"I told him that I'd run across some statements that were of concern to me," says Swiler. "In a 2002 speech in Boston, he made some comments that were especially hurtful."

During that speech, titled "Occupation Is Oppression," Tutu lambasted the Israeli government for its treatment of Palestinians in occupied territories. While a transcription clearly suggests his criticism was aimed at the Israeli government ("We don't criticize the Jewish people," he said during the speech. "We criticize, we will criticize when they need to be criticized, the government of Israel"), pro-Israeli organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America went on the offensive and protested campus appearances by Tutu, accusing him of anti-Semitism.

This is from the same speech quoted by the Zionist Organization of American and linked above.

The City Pages article continues:

Hennes says the input officials received from "the Jewish community" in this case was confined to Swiler and a few rabbis teaching within St. Thomas's Center for Jewish-Christian Learning. "I think there's a consensus in the Jewish community that his words were offensive," Swiler reiterates.

That was news to Marv Davidov, an adjunct professor within the Justice and Peace Studies program.

"As a Jew who experienced real anti-Semitism as a child, I'm deeply disturbed that a man like Tutu could be labeled anti-Semitic and silenced like this," he says. "I deeply resent the Israeli lobby trying to silence any criticism of its policy. It does a great disservice to Israel and to all Jews."

Marv Davidov is apparently one of those "self-hating Jews" you read about once in a while, boys and girls!

As a Minnesotan against terrorism, Mr. Rotenberg, let Spot ask you a question: how is Jewish terrorism against the British during its occupation of Palestine any different than Palestinian terrorism against Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands? You would perhaps find it useful to read a little on Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Don't move, or the Iraqi gets it!

Spotty, you know that Katie had a new column yesterday entitled What happens when America leaves? Just ask S. Vietnamese.

Yeah, so?

You haven't written anything about it.

Hadn't planned to, grasshopper.

Aw, c'mon Spotty. There are some people who expect and want you to comment on Katie's column.

As the great philosopher king Mick Jagger said, grasshopper, you can't always get what you want.

He also said that sometimes you just get what you need. Maybe there are people who need you to comment on Katie.

Oh, all right.

Katie's column linked above contains what is known among lawyers as the "parade of horribles." She invites her readers to imagine the terrible things that will happen if we withdraw from Iraq, based upon Katie's doubtful understanding of what happened in Vietnam after the last helicopter departed the American Embassy compound in 1975. Her implicit argument is that if you counsel withdrawal from Iraq, you will have blood on your hands. Assisting Spot in preparing a response is Bjarne Pedersen of Shoreview who penned this letter in the Strib today:

In response to Katherine Kersten's Oct. 11 column "What happens when America leaves? Just ask S. Vietnamese": Yes, we did leave South Vietnam after 10 long years, and with 50,000 plus of our fine young men and women dead, and many more wounded.

That war too was a trumped-up war, as admitted by Secretary Robert McNamara years later. The Bay of Tonkin incident was staged and led to the expansion of American troops in the region. Our leaders during that conflict also failed us, and got us involved in a deadly conflict without cause.

The South Vietnamese government was corrupt and ineffective, yet we supported it like so many other dictators we have stood behind because of their perceived usefulness to U.S. foreign policy. As a matter of fact, Saddam Hussein was supported by the United States during its war with Iran in the 1980s, and he was hailed as our friend. Yet, he was no less a dictator and a threat to the United States then, than when we decided to blame him for weapons of mass destruction.

Kersten draws a parallel to the two wars, Vietnam and Iraq, and the possible consequences if we were to pull out of this current conflict in Iraq. Yes, there probably will be some consequences to our withdrawal from Iraq, and yes, we are to blame for much of what has happened in that country too. It is easy for conservative columnists to forget that we attacked Iraq without cause, and killed a whole bunch of people (estimates to date run as high as 100,000). This has probably irritated the victims who survived and their families, and we should expect them to have a little animosity toward us for bringing this upon their country.

So, when I read articles by columnists such as Kersten, I am left to wonder where their heads are [Spot has an idea where!]. Do we just dismiss the facts, and move forward? What is next, attack Iran, North Korea or any other perceived threat to our country? I'm left with the feeling they are clueless, or completely fail to see through the carnage and tragedy of this trumped-up war.

When the Germans left Russia and France during the Second World War, collaborators were dealt with harshly, too. Katie, it's one of the things that the administration should have taken into account before embarking on the entire foolish exercise. The blood won't be on the hands of those urging withdrawal: it will be on the hands of those responsible for starting the war in the first place, including everyone on the right wing cheer squad who agitated for it. Oh, weren't you in favor of starting the war, Katie?

The real solution is to permit those Iraqis who are in danger for collaboration to emigrate to the US, but the right wing doesn't like that solution, either. Just think of all the Iraqi restaurants it will spawn!

One of the things that Bjarne does in his letter is to low ball the Iraqi deaths caused by the invasion. By some estimates, many more have died as a consequence:

Three misattributed clusters were excluded from the final analysis; data from 1849 households that contained 12 801 individuals in 47 clusters was gathered. 1474 births and 629 deaths were reported during the observation period. Pre-invasion mortality rates were 5·5 per 1000 people per year (95% CI 4·3–7·1), compared with 13·3 per 1000 people per year (10·9–16·1) in the 40 months post-invasion. We estimate that as of July, 2006, there have been 654 965 (392 979–942 636) excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2·5% of the population in the study area. Of post-invasion deaths, 601 027 (426 369–793 663) were due to violence, the most common cause being gunfire. [italics are Spot's]

The 650,000 figures is as of July of last year, more than a year ago.

If it is Katie's point that we bear responsibility for the maelstrom we created, Spot agrees. But it is something else to argue that it will be worse if we leave. It's been plenty bad while we we're there.

How's that, grasshopper?

Thanks, Spotty.

That didn't take long

Al Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize.

---wait three minutes----

Right Wing smear machine engages.

Well, the Frost family might get some peace now.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hitler® belongs to us! II

In the original post, Spot referred to a Jewish author, Richard Ben Cramer, who wrote about Israel's spiritual sickness since it began the occupation of Palestinian lands in 1967. At the time, Spot also had another piece on the subject in mind, but couldn't find it. Here it is:

1967 - The war that ended Judiasm

Lord, save us from miracles.

Like compliments, we crave them, but when they do come our way, we don't always know how to respond. We are let out of Egypt with nothing less than a full parting of the Red Sea, and what thanks will God get? A rave in Sinai, to which He is uninvited, and blasphemy in the form of a golden calf.

Forty years ago this week, just when it seemed that it would take nothing short of a miracle for Israel to survive the coming war, the betting here was that the miracle bank had run dry. Amid the pre-emptive grave-digging and the fraught goodbyes, this was a constricted, panic-choked, border-phobic gas chamber of a country - literally, the ghetto to end all ghettos.

When the miracle came, few stopped to recall the real motto of this nation: Be careful what you pray for.

From this distance, one could conclude that while the Jewish state survived the war, Judaism as we knew it - Orthodox Judaism in particular - did not. Rabbinic Orthodoxy, the Jewish people's sworn bulwark against change, would never be the same.

1967 was the war that would persuade rabbis that they could be generals - even, or especially, if they lived in Brooklyn. The taste of power being what it is, many rabbis would soon conclude that government - and occupation - were much too important to be left to elected officials.

If absolute occupation corrupts absolutely, no group would be more corrupted by Israel's presence in the territories than rightist rabbis.

The author of those words, Bradley Burston, writing on the 40th anniversary of the 1967 war in continues:

With Messianic zeal, they [the right wing rabbis] set to dictating new commandments and enunciating new prohibitions, revolutionizing Judaism by casting the settlements as the building blocks of a Third Temple - all the while turning the settlement enterprise and territories as a whole into a new Golden Calf, a god to which the people as a whole would be forced to sacrifice.

The change had been immediate, and shocking. The Temple Mount had only been in Israeli hands for a few hours before then-IDF chief rabbi Shlomo Goren pleaded with the general who had captured Jerusalem's Old City, to order that the magnificent gold-domed Mosque of Omar be blown to bits.

"I was alone for a moment, lost in thought, when Rabbi Goren approached me," Uzi Narkiss told Haaretz in an interview a few months before his death in 1997. "'Uzi,' Rabbi Goren said to me. 'Now is the time to put 100 kilograms of explosives into the Mosque of Omar so that we may rid ourselves of it once and for all.'

"I said to him, 'Rabbi, enough.'"

But Goren persisted. "'You don't grasp what tremendous significance this would have. This is an opportunity that can be taken advantage of now, at this moment. Tomorrow it will be too late.'

"I said, 'Rabbi, if you don't stop, I'll take you to jail.'"

Goren wasn't through. After the smoke had cleared, he addressed a military convention, calling it a "tragedy" that Israel had left the Temple Mount in control of Muslims: "I told this to the defense minister [Moshe Dayan] and he said, 'I understand what you are saying, but do you really think we should have blown up the mosque?' and I said, 'Certainly we should have blown it up.'"

The United States is the enabler of the rapacious elements of Israeli society. Organizations like the Zionist Organization of American and guys like Doug Tice want to keep it that way. But if we listen to them, and fail to insure that the Palestinians get their own place in the sun, there will never be peace in the Middle East. Unless all of the Palestinians are killed or die off.

Spot has a couple of more links for you on this subject. First is Norwegianity; Mark provides a little history of the relationship between the state of Israel and the apartheid government in South Africa. The second is Rob Levine's Rootless at the University of St. Thomas:

I say "rootless" because Dease doesn't have a clue about real morality and is a terrible decision maker. You might remember that St Thomas in the past has allowed right wing bigots to speak with almost no problem - Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin (who defends the Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II) are two of the biggest offenders. When they were warned before Coulter spoke they shrugged it off, only to have have to eat crow afterwards. Then when Tutu was invited to speak, they apparently - in contrast to when right wing bigots speak there - were inclined to ask people in the community about him, never mind that Tutu is a Nobel Peace Prize winner and an internationally adored figure. How could anyone even think of dis-inviting Tutu?

It will take St. Thomas a long time to live this episode down. As Spot said earlier, he hopes that Archbishop Tutu sends his regrets to the new invitation that St. Thomas has apparently offered.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Hitler® belongs to us!

Adolph Hitler® is the registered trademark of the Jewish people, and as such, any reference to Adolph Hitler® may only be made in connection with the the genocide practiced against the Jewish people in the Second World War.

It kind of feels that way sometimes, doesn't it, boys and girls? Never mind that the Third Reich also invaded Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Luxembourg, North Africa, Russia, the Ukraine and other Baltic States (and later in the war invaded Italy), bombed Britain mercilessly and annexed Austria. Never fear, my Jewish friends, there are plenty of WWII death and atrocities to go around!

But you see, boys and girls, Adolph Hitler® is Israel's non-expiring Get Out of Jail Free card. You can hardly blame it for not wanting to dilute the brand. But it is tiresome to Spot to have guys like Doug Tice wade in with pseudo-intellectual crap like this:

It’s time for another tiring episode of “Don’t Call Me Hitler!”

Because, if you hadn’t noticed, the dispute at St. Thomas over whether Desmond Tutu should be invited to speak on campus is, in significant part, a Hitler analogy controversy.

Some while back, we had an extended Big Question discussion about Hitler analogies and I proposed a rule for such rhetorical atrocities that in general seemed well received by readers here. Let’s put it to work:

St. Thomas has decided against a Tutu appearance because of objections from some leaders in the Jewish community, and it seems his offensiveness to them centers on a 2002 speech decrying Israeli “oppression” of Palestinians in occupied territories. Here’s a text available online….and here’s a transcript posted on The differences are minor.

The speech is not vitriolic, but there’s plenty in it for a defender of Israel to dislike — and for a critic of Israel to applaud. It appears this passage is the stinger:

“People are scared in this country [the U.S.] to say wrong is wrong. (applause) Because the Jewish lobby is powerful – very powerful. Ha, Ha, Ha ha! So what? So what! This is God’s world! For goodness sake this is God’s world!

“The Apartheid government was very powerful, but we said to them: Watch it! If you flout the laws of this universe, you’re going to bite the dust! (applause)

“Hitler was powerful. Mussolini was powerful. Stalin was powerful. Idi Amin was powerful. Pinochet was powerful. The Apartheid government were powerful. Milosevic was powerful. But, this is God’s world. A lie, injustice, oppression, those will never prevail in the world of this God….”

Tutu was surely guilty of piling on, if nothing else. Hitler and Stalin are bad enough — way bad enough. But dragging in third rate tyrants and war criminals like Milosevic and Mussolini is insulting on a whole different level.

At all events, the Nazi analogy rule applies. Someone might argue, as they commonly do in these cases, that Tutu was likening the Jewish lobby and/or Israel to Hitler (and company) only in a limited sense — not in terms of genocidal mania, but only as powers that ultimately proved resistible.

As the self-anointed policeman of the use of Adolph Hitler® analogies, Tice goes on to apply his own little rule about when they are appropriate. You won't be surprised, boys and girls, to find that Tice intimates that the analogy is inappropriately used to describe the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians. Shame on you Desmond Tutu!

Spot has some news for you Doug Tice, you unctuous twit: you have no standing to criticize Desmond Tutu on matters of his perspectives on oppression. It is a regrettable fact that by the birth of Israel—and especially after the '67 war—the oppressed have become the oppressors. Spot has not the time nor the inclination to provide the specification of the indictment here, save to mention the hundreds and hundreds of instances of collective punishment (illegal under international law) visited on the Palestinian people—and which are admitted to by the Israelis. It is not far-fetched to say that Israel is pursuing a policy of extinguishing the Palestinian people.

Read this from a 2004 Gary Kamiya review of a book by Richard Ben Cramer:

Richard Ben Cramer is not afraid of sacred cows. He bulldozed one of America's icons, Joe DiMaggio, in a bestselling
biography, and peeped into the stinky hopper in which the sausage of democracy is ground in his classic study of the 1988 presidential
campaign, "What It Takes." With "How Israel Lost: The Four Questions," Cramer, who won a Pulitzer Prize for Middle East reporting in
1979, has taken on perhaps the most explosive, emotion-laden subject in America: Israel

"How Israel Lost" is a mournful, passionate, hilarious lament for the endangered soul of a nation he loves. In a style that slips from the
wisecracking cadences of a Miami Beach hondler to the dispassionate observations of a veteran journalist to the moral outrage of a
world-weary humanist, Cramer argues that in the 20-plus years since he originally lived there, the Jewish state has suffered a cataclysmic
sea-change, a blow to its spirit all the more tragic for being self-inflicted.

The cause of Israel's malaise, Cramer writes, is very simple: Its 37-year occupation of Palestinian land. The occupation, Cramer argues, is
a gross and continuing injustice that has coarsened Israel's moral fiber, corrupted her politics and economy, and split Israeli Jews into
bitterly opposed, self-interested tribes who have lost all sense of allegiance to anything beyond their own needs. The occupation has also
had a deadly effect on Palestinians, stomping out the last embers of hope and creating a generation of sad, hardened children who know
Israelis only as soldiers with guns.

So get off your high horse, Mr. Tice, before you make an even bigger fool out of yourself.

N.B. Spot hears from source that St. Thomas is going to reverse itself on the Tutu visit. If Spot was Tutu—which he obviously is not—he definitely would not set foot on the St. Thomas campus. But, Desmond Tutu is a lot bigger dog than Spot.


The smear of Archbishop Tutu apparently began on the website of the Zionist Organization of America, which bills itself as "the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel/Zionist organizations in the United States." This organization published a screed about a speech of Tutu's in 2002:

Tutu has also openly compared Israel to Hitler and apartheid: “I’ve been deeply distressed in my visit to the Holy Land; it reminded me so much of what happened to us black people in South Africa … I have seen the humiliation of the Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks, suffering like us when young white police officers prevented us from moving about … “I say why are our memories so short? Have our Jewish sisters and brothers forgotten their humiliation? Have they forgotten the collective punishment, the home demolitions, in their own history so soon? … The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust. Injustice and oppression will never prevail.” (Ha’aretz, April 29, 2002)

The quote is truthful. It isn't an open comparison of Israel and Hitler. ZOA and Tice are upset that Tutu infringed their Adolph Hitler® brand.

In his post, Doug Tice "challenged" Desmond Tutu to explain his remarks. What utter chutzpah! Spot is quite sure that Desmond Tutu knows an oppressive and apartheid government when he sees one. It is dissembling Israel apologists like Doug Tice who need the history lesson.


[further update] Spot recommends this post and its comments at A Tiny Revolution. [/further update]