Friday, September 30, 2005

A measley twenty bucks?

People are scratching their heads over Tom DeLay's PAC's contributions to local Republicans in the last election cycle. Mark Kennedy and John Kline each got, in round numbers, $30,000; Gil Guteneckt got, Spotty recalls, about $6,000. And Jim Ramstad got a measly $20. That's right: twenty bucks. What's that all about? asks Wendy Wilde and others. Spotty will tell you.

That is a highly symbolic $20. Ramstad doesn't need the money, but DeLay wanted to remind him who his real benefactor is for things like Jimbo's seat on the Ways and Means Committee. Just like LBJ used to do little things to remind his colleagues that "he had their peckers in his pocket."

Spot cannot recall an instance of Ramstad crossing DeLay. If he had, Jimbo would never see the light of day in the House.


Spot to Dave,

Three comments by Dave to Hoo-rah! Hoo-rah! Hoo-rah!:
Why do you completely disregard the opinion of the troops in Iraq, when it was the opinion of the troops in Vietnam that made all the difference? Oh yeah, that would leave a huge hole in your argument. You can disagree with Katie all you want, but telling a Marine officer that he doesn't know what he is talking about is more than unpatriotic, it's downright absurd.

[In response to another commenter:] Many military that disagree with the war? Than why is the spokesman of the anti-war movement a mother of a KIA? Where are all the disgruntled soldiers? Over one and a half million troops have been served in OIF. Where are all the disenters? And yes I can throw the unpatriotic lable around when I am leaving for Iraq next week.

And you question the label terrorists? Does Spotty have any delusions that people who blow up inoccent civilians are terrorists? Do you honestly believe these people are freedom fighters? And by the way, since Spotty has never served in the military, the phrase is not hoo rah, it's HOAH. I won't bother trying to explain.
Spot’s post is evidently quite controversial, in some places anyway, although nobody jumped to defend Katie’s honor.

Spotty usually picks selected issues from a post or article to write about; it is often too tedious for both Spot and his readers, especially the other canine ones, to address them all. But it’s a new day, and Dave says some things to which Spot wants to reply.

Spot notes that he has never turned the sarcasm beam to high for Dave, and he does not intend to now. Dave and many of the rest of the Minnesota Guard are headed off for six months or so of training and then deployment to the Middle East. The prospect of packing up and leaving job and family for perhaps a couple of years would make anybody testy.

Regarding the first comment, Spotty says that he would not take the opinion of a single commentator, regardless of source, as gospel. Colonel Vold (quoted by Katie in the post at issue) is no exception. Readers might also like to know that Col. Vold is associated with an organization called Spirit of America. Spot chose not to refer to SoA in his earlier post. SoA is doing some good and charitable things in Iraq, but it all stems from the frame of reference that the US should be the template for all nations, especially Iraq. Spot doubts the premise.

As to the second point, Spot observes that many veterans are opposed to the war. Andrew Borene, a former Marine officer, and who lives here in the Twin Cities, in Spot’s hometown in fact, is an outspoken critic of the war. Here’s an article by Andrew on the Operation Truth website.

As to the final point, Spot never called the terrorists in Iraq freedom fighters. But he does object to conflating (Spot loves that word and has been itching for a chance to use it) terrorism in Iraq with the 9/11 terrorists. It’s like the street corner shell game, only this time there are two peas: Usama and Saddam. Wingers like Katie, and apparently the two military men she talked to, have tried to confuse these two characters for years now. It’s sloppy logic, and probably worse.

Spot also commends the comments of CP to Hoo-rah! Hoo-rah! Hoo-rah! to his readers. CP is Spot’s military adviser. You might check out his blog too; link to the right.

Incidentally, Dave, HOO-RAH makes a much better two syllable cheer than the single syllable HOAH, don’t you think?

PS - Spot thinks that most of the incompetence concerning the planning and execution of the war can be laid at the feet of the civilian leadership in the Pentagon.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Then the other guy goes . . .

Why bloggers should not do movie reviews.

Hoo-rah! Hoo-rah! Hoo-rah!

Sitting on the edge of the bed, she reaches down to tie her low-cut boots and to fold over the cuff in her khaki socks. She rises stiffly, and inspects herself in the mirror, straightening the khaki-colored turtleneck sweater and her short camo pleated skirt. Not bad, considering. (Considering what, Spotty? Well, considering that we are looking at the country’s oldest living military cheerleader.)

Once on the field, she begins her extended stretching and warm up; those jumps are getting harder and harder to do. Often, after warming up, she is almost too exhausted to do the routines. She feels a little silly sometimes. But for her commander in chief, no sacrifice is too great (except for sacrificing her kids, but that’s another story).

Yet again, Katie has put on the uniform to cheer for the war in Iraq. In her column today, entitled Reservist says protesters are breaking faith, Katie trots out the latest GOP meme, and she is happy to parrot it. She quotes Reserve Col. Jeff Vold from Maplewood, who says regarding the war protests here in the United States:
Antiwar demonstrators sometimes claim that their prime motivation is concern for the safety of American troops. "Support the troops," the lawn signs say, "bring them home."

But it doesn't work that way, says Vold. "I try not to take it personally. The reason I'm a Marine is to ensure this is a free country. But I don't think the protesters know the effect they're having on the soldiers. You're always tired, cold or hot, homesick. The last thing you need is a sense that people back home say your mission is doomed, when you see good things happening all the time."
The meme is of course that anybody who questions the war is an unpatriotic lout, is insensitive to the feelings of our Fighting Men and Women, and just might be a traitor. Essentially, it is psychological manipulation. It’s a variation of the If you loved your Mother, you would call once in a while stratagem.

Katie didn’t think this up on her own. Since the unlikely candidate Cindy Sheehan ignited ant-war sentiment around the country, Republicans have made strenuous efforts to paint the anti-war movement as kooks and “out of the mainstream.” One writer in the local Edina Sun Current weekly newspaper described the 400 odd demonstrators at a Cindy Sheehan vigil here as “fringe.” It is well, silly, to call that mostly-middle age crowd “fringe.” It is, Spot supposes, because the fringe is now the majority of the country.

The Heritage Foundation, the conservative “think” tank, is also getting into the act. Spotty commends The Politics of Slander, an article on Cursor’s Media Transparency site for a discussion of this. Katie weighs in today. She continues in the column:
How did the Sheehan protest play in Iraq? Yesterday, I asked Vold's friend, Lt. Col. James MacVarish, an adviser to Iraqi troops in Fallujah. He told me in an e-mail that the Iraqis he works with believe such protests and the press they generate "play directly to the strengths of our mutual enemy." Iraqis "are absolutely astounded," he adds, "that we 'allow' that to continue." A few days ago, he had to give his Iraqi colleagues an hour long civics lesson on freedom of the press.
No. What emboldens the enemy is the utterly stupid way the war was promoted (yes promoted), planned, and fought. The notion that the US can only lose if decides not to win is an exercise in titanic hubris. Oh sure, we might pacify the country if we occupy it with 400,000 troops more or less indefinitely, but that isn’t going to happen. We probably couldn’t round up that many soldiers if we wanted to, absent a draft.

This whole fiasco came a cropper before George Bush strutted on the aircraft carrier and announced mission accomplished. Only we, and probably he, didn’t know it yet.

Vold also makes the point that we have to leave our military twisting in the wind in Iraq so as not to embolden the “terrorists.” They seem pretty bold already, don’t they Colonel? Not to mention the fact that the US is responsible for making Iraq the hotbed of “terrorism” that it is today.

So Katie, keep cheering as the stands get emptier and emptier. Don’t forget your pom-poms.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Here's a shocker . . .

A recent study published in a US – based academic journal made some pretty remarkable findings. The whole article in the Times of London is linked here.
RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

According to the study, belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy society but may actually contribute to social problems.

The study counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.

It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

Many liberal Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have been described as its “spiritual capital.” But the study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually contribute to its ills. [emphasis added]

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: “Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing [should probably read developed] democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”
Say it ain’t so, Katie. Actually, Spot dares you to say it ain’t so, and to prove it, not just with gas emissions, but with statistics.

Katie’s Krowd (Spotty kind of likes that; look for it in future posts) loves to tell us how godless institutions like public schools are morally rudderless. If you read Katie’s dreck you will know she has said that many times. Spotty has called that baloney, because it is.

Spot commends the whole article to you, gentle readers. Spot’s going to try to get a hold of the journal article. In the meantime, Spotty will close with a quotation from the study’s author:
“The non-religious, proevolution democracies contradict the dictum that a society cannot enjoy good conditions unless most citizens ardently believe in a moral creator.

“The widely held fear that a Godless citizenry must experience societal disaster is therefore refuted.”


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Rode hard and put up wet . . .

Spotty, just like Katie, has a day in history he wants readers to remember. But not in a good way. Today is the eleventh anniversary of the photo-op signing of the “Contract with America” on the steps of the US Capitol by Congressional Republicans. These were the thrilling days of yesteryear for Sheriff Newton and his faithful deputy Annette Meeks, now of the Center of the American Experiment.

In the rhetorical flourishes that went along with signing this malignant manifesto, the Repubs said they would restore accountability to Congress and end its cycle of scandal and disgrace if they were elected to a majority in the House. That fall, the Republicans got their majority. As Dr. Phil might say, How’s that working’ for ya, America?

Spotty says American has been rode hard and put up wet by the looting, profiteering, and general knavery of the likes of Sheriff Newton, Tom Delay and their corporate buddies in several industries, including financial services (credit cards, especially), pharmaceuticals, energy, and transportation. The recent punitive bankruptcy bill, and the Medicare prescription drug benefit that does more to line the pockets of Big Pharma than it does to provide prescription coverage to seniors, are just a couple examples of how the Republican Congress is more accountable to the citizens and less scandalized and disgraced. Right.

Congress just passed the porkiest transportation bill in its history. It also passed an energy bill giving billions in tax savings to energy companies that are making historic windfall profits at the same time.

There has been a lot written lately about the performance of Congressman Jim Ramstad at the recent town hall meeting in Edina. Those in attendance will remember that the transportation and energy bills were prominent in the things that the Congressman pointed to with pride.

And yes, Jimbo was in attendance that sunny day in September eleven years ago to add his name and solemn pledge to the Contract on America.


Intelligent design . . .

The incomparable Non Sequitur applies Intelligent Design to tax accounting.


Monday, September 26, 2005

Hinderaker has a soul mate, too.

Here's a great letter from J.C. Christian, Patriot and Jesus' General, to John Hinderaker of Powerline.

Katie: Scab Picker

Spotty has always believed that it was important to study a body of a writer’s work to try to discover his or her psychological motivations. Actually, he just made that up, because Spot knows zilch about literary criticism. But he has always enjoyed trying to figure out what makes people tick, or tock, or make whatever noise they make. Spot has long felt that Katie was a special case.

Katie is a scab picker. In her column today, Katherine Kersten chastises most of us for forgetting the Korean War, America’s “forgotten war.” Since her column was launched, Katie has taken the public to task for forgetting World War II, the Bomb, 9/11 a couple of times, and several other things that Spot has forgotten - again.

Katie is a busy person, running around picking at all these scabs on our psychic hide, making sure they remain open, and bleeding if at all possible. Most columnists do remind us from time to time about historical events they believe are important, but with Katie it is an obsession. Why?

Spotty says that it is part of Katie’s effort to maintain tribal identity and a sense of grievance. Another term for this, considered on a little grander scale, is nationalism. There is a quotation in the linked Wikipedia article that Spot likes:
The philosopher Avishai Margalit in The Ethics of Memory (2002), discusses the defining role of memory in shaping nations: "A nation," he says acerbically, "has famously been defined as a society that nourishes a common delusion about its ancestry and shares a common hatred for its neighbors. Thus, the bond of caring in a nation hinges on false memory (delusion) and hatred of those who do not belong."
In one part of her column, Katie writes of “annihilating” the North Koreans. Nothing like a little blood lust with your breakfast cereal, right gentle readers?

Spot is waiting for Katie’s column to remind us to mourn the defeat of the Christian Serbs by the Muslim Albanians on the Plain of the Blackbirds in 1389.


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Michele and Michel's kind of place.

Over at Dump Michele Bachmann, there is a link to a story about a child who was expelled from a Christian school because her parents are lesbians.

A 14-year-old student was expelled from a Christian school because her parents are lesbians, the school's superintendent said in a letter.

Shay Clark was expelled from Ontario Christian School on Thursday.

"Your family does not meet the policies of admission," Superintendent Leonard Stob wrote to Tina Clark, the girl's biological mother.
As it says on DMB, that’s Michele Bachmann’s kind of school. And Spotty says it’ll be the kind of school you help to pay for, if legislators like Michele Bachmann and Geoff Michel (two Republican Minnesota state senators who both sit on the Education Committee) have their way. Both are, of course, proponents of school vouchers for private schools in Minnesota.

What do proponents of voucher programs really want? For the most part, they want to send their kids to religious schools. About 70% of students in
Milwaukee’s voucher program attend religious schools.

It is apparent from a couple of recent studies in Cleveland and Michigan that public school education is still the gold standard for student achievement. For several articles on the subject, you should check the excellent site here.

Spotty says that no public money should be wasted on providing a sectarian education because it comes at the expense of a quality public education for all kids. As Spotty has written before in Vouchers Smouchers, vouchers violate the Minnesota Constitution.


Saturday, September 24, 2005

The first Spotty award . . .

Spot has decided to recognize people who write an op-ed article, a letter to the editor, or some other piece that Spot wishes he had put in a post. So, here is a letter in today's Star Tribune, and the winner of the first "Spotty" Award:
I'm not a Kelly Doran supporter, but I had to laugh when I read state GOP chair Ron Carey's histrionic lambast of Doran for switching from the U.S. Senate race to the governor's race (Star Tribune, Sept. 22).

According to Carey, "... Minnesotans aren't interested in giving away the governor's office to an impulse buyer."

Carey's pathetic attempt at spin has backfired: His favorite candidate for governor, Tim Pawlenty, also switched from the U.S. Senate race to the governor's race.

Pawlenty's "impulse" switch to the governor's race came as he was driving to announce his Senate candidacy and received a phone call from the Bush administration telling him they'd prefer Norm Coleman to run for Senate.

Apparently, the Republicans think it's only OK to switch races when it's done on the orders of Dick Cheney.

Lori Peterson, Minneapolis.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Spotty loves irony . . .

Especially when it is found within a single section of the newspaper. One the front page above the fold in Friday's Star Tribune, there is a story about the evacuation from Hurricane Rita in Texas. Prominent in the story is reporting about the monumental traffic jams on freeways leaving Houston, even though traffic on both sides of the freeways is now directed away from Houston. People are running out of gasoline, and pushing their cars to preserve their remaining gas as the traffic creeps along for hundreds of miles. Great. So efficient.

Ok, here's the irony part.

When Spotty turned to the op-ed section, which often contains laughs far better than Mallard Fillmore, he found a commentary by Fritz Knaak, a former legislator and one of the Grand Wizards of the anti-transit movement. Fritz suffers from a terminal case of bad timing. He argues that the disaster of Hurricane Katrina proves that we need more cars, not more public transit. Hysterical laughter. Sorry.

Fritz, don't forget that fleet of modified cars you will need for all the disabled and the non-drivers to drive themselves to safety.

Spot would call Fritz Knaak a fool, but he doesn't like to state the obvious.

The picture is from the Strib's story.


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Paintin' purty pitchers . .

Katie tells a pretty interesting story today. Really. In her Thursday column entitled They're mastering the old painting techniques, she tells the story of a Twins Cities art – painting, really – school called Atelier. Spotty used to go past the school often on the way to work when it was housed in a building in the Uptown neighborhood and was called Atelier Lack, the “Lack” part being the name of the founder. Atelier has not been around long enough to be an institution yet, but it is headed that way.

In summary, the column tells the story of Atelier’s teaching of classical painting technique:
Richard Lack, a Minneapolis native and internationally renowned painter, founded the Atelier -- first known as Atelier Lack -- in 1969. Trained in Boston, he practiced a style of realist painting directly descended from the French Academy, a center of the 19th-century art world. But in the 1950s and '60s, Lack and artists like him were shut out of galleries and museums as the juggernaut of modern art swept all before it.
But, as usual, Katie wants to make sure that we come away from the article with the Point. So, in typical Katherine Kersten fashion, we get hit upside the head with the Point several times:
Not surprisingly, the Atelier teaches foundational artistic techniques that generally get short shrift -- if they're taught at all -- at today's art colleges and university art departments. It's a demanding, time-consuming process. "Our society teaches that art should be easy," Wicker [one of the school’s directors] said. "But it's not. There are no shortcuts."
That’s a priceless quote for Katie. Apart from wondering how Katie was able to make a nation-wide survey of art colleges and departments and inventory them on painting technique, Spot observes that the Wicker quote reinforces two important things in the Kersten Credo: 1) we are a nation of shiftless slobs headed directly for hell without even a proper hand basket, and 2) nothing after the nineteenth century is any good at all. We all know that Katie yearns for the thrilling days of yesteryear.

Here’s how Atelier does it:
The Atelier uses the time-tested apprentice system. With 18 full-time students, it offers a four-year program of sequential study based on personal critiques of student work. As in the days of Michelangelo, students painstakingly study anatomy, composition and classical drawing and painting techniques. The school also offers individual classes for part-time students.
Katie especially likes the painstaking part. It appeals to her constricted asceticism. We do get a sense of Katie’s bewilderment at modern art when she says:
Today, establishment art programs generally discourage -- even frown on -- representational art.
Indeed, Katie, why can’t they just paint purty pitchers? Spot bets that Katie never colored outside the lines, ever. The Italians painted pictures of the Madonna and Child for hundreds of years; why stop now?

There is one little thing. Katie writes:
The centerpiece of the Atelier's program is figure drawing, a mainstay of traditional art training. Every morning of their four-year program, in a scene straight from Paris in the 1850s, students gather with easels in a big skylit room and paint for several hours from a live model.
Katie, did you know that the models are usually NEKKED?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

It just gets funnier . . .

Even Spot is surprised at the storm created by his post Conservative Reverb. Just as a refresher, this is the post where Spot compares the language from emails reprinted in Swanblog with that in a Katherine Kersten column on the same subject, and finds them, well, similar.

Peter Swanson, the author of Swanblog, then puts up a post stating that the column was not plagiarized from him. But Spot never used the word plagiarize. Why? Not because he was too timid to use it, but because Spot has always found it more satisfying when his audience draws its own conclusion, especially when it is the conclusion that Spotty wants them to make.

In coming to Katie's defense on the unmade plagiarism charge, it is obvious to Spot that Mr. Swanson believes that plagiarism is the inference that people would make. That's why he posted.

Swanblog punches the tarbaby again this morning at 4:37 AM. Either Swanson works as an all-night teller at TCF, or sleep is coming hard for him. He give us an analogy to explain why Katie's column is A-OK.

Spot really wants his readers to go read the whole post, but here's the punchline. Swanblog says that Katie is not like a car thief who drives away in somebody else's car without permission; she is like a parking valet who drives away in somebody else's car with permission. Spot is not making this up. He even saved the Swanblog post in case it is taken down.

So there you have it, gentle readers. Katherine Kersten, the parking valet of journalism.

Tags: calls a

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Monday, September 19, 2005

The poetry of tags . . .

Spot has started using Technorati tags on some of his posts. In the course of using them, and observing their use by other reprobates like Mr. Sponge, it occurs to Spotty that a new, and up to now mostly latent, literary form inheres in tags. For example, here is Spot's favorite so far:
Walmart Jesus Saves Katherine Kersten
Of course, additional mischief is possible because of the fact that the tag and the tag label that shows in the post don't have to be the same. So, you could link a label "Clueless Boob" to posts about George Bush in the Technorati database.

It's a little like haiku in that the form challenges the writer.

Go to it people.

Randy's epitaph . . .

When the Newspaper of the Twin Cities landed on Spotty’s doorstep this morning with a leaden thunk, he knew what it meant: it’s Monday and the paper carrier was laboring under the extra load of a column from Katie. Instead of the usual lead, though, Spot found out that the paper held a small marble headstone inscribed Leading means thinking for yourself, together with a column that Katie, or some blogger in the right wing, will be able to massage gently into Randy Kelly’s political obituary.

Readers will recall that Randy Kelly, DFL mayor of St. Paul, endorsed George Bush for president last fall. Randy now finds that while the horse he bet on for the election won by a nose (yes, by a nose Katie; it wasn’t a mandate), that horse is now headed straight for the glue factory. Such a pity.

Katie says that the common wisdom is that Randy Kelly’s poor showing in the mayoral primary last Tuesday was due to that endorsement. Probably. Hopefully. It’s just part of that personal responsibility you keep harping about Katie. When you burn your butt, you have to sit on the blisters!

But Katie says that the mayor should be exempt from the rule. Why? Because the DFL should tolerate more diversity. Hysterical laughter. Sorry. Not since Katie delivered an apologia for Michele Bachmann has Katie written anything so wildly funny.

Of course, Katie brings out the straight shootin’ (and apparently tolerant) Ronald Reagan as a totem to which the mayor should be compared. Isn’t this the same guy who led a bunch of extra-chromosome conservatives (to use George I’s terminology) to challenge a sitting president of his own party – Gerald Ford – for the nomination in 1976? You’re old enough to remember that Katie.

And isn’t it our own Republican governor Arne Carlson who couldn’t get his party’s endorsement for re-election as governor, after Carlson had stepped in and rescued the party from titanic scandal in the Grunseth pool-party affair? Why yes, it was.

There is a Bible verse that Spot is thinking about here, and there’s a box of kibble for the reader who comes up with it.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Ok people, listen up!

There have been a lot of comments about Spotty’s post Conservative reverb. Some of it surrounds what Spot said, or what he didn’t say. In order to – try – to clear things up, Spotty says:

The post and the quoted and compared material therein speak for themselves. As Spot said in response to a comment, Spot believes the post makes out a prima facie case of plagiarism. Spot points out that the author of Swanblog, where the material first appeared, apparently came to the same conclusion, based on the language of his defense of Katie.

Now, it may be that Katie can explain, although Spotty personally (personally?) has his doubts. In any event, it is up to Katie, not Swanblog, or Dave, or anybody else to provide the explanation. That’s Katie’s job. And Spot says she must do it in a column devoted to the issue.

What say you Ms. Kersten?

Friday, September 16, 2005

More about junk food . . .

Spotty has written before about Intellectual Takeout, the new conservative website designed for college students in You'll be hungry an hour later. There was an article about the website, and its first target St. Olaf College in the Wednesday September 14th Star Tribune. Annette Meeks, the current Geat Kahuna at the Center of the American Experiment, the Creator of the site, says that our own Katie Kersten provided the idea for it. Spotty knows why.

Remember the column about taking son of Katie to college? She just wants to be sure that son of Katie stays in touch with the conservative catechism, although it is difficult to believe that said son of Katie would be permitted to attend a college where he might stray from the straight and narrow.

More on this, especially the St. Olaf angle, in a day or two.

Spot just calls her Katie.

Swanblog starts a post today with:
A blogger is claiming that Katherine Kersten plagiarized the story about Jim Lodoen from my weblog.
If Swanblog reads carefully, however, he will see that the word plagiarize, in any of it forms, does not appear in Spot's post Conservative reverb. Spot simply pointed out similarities between posts in Swanblog and Katie's column.

Sometimes the mind, when introduced unexpectedly to facts, is drawn irresistibly to unwanted conclusions.

By the way, Swanblog, Katie is just Spot's pet name for her.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Conservative reverb . . .

Here in the blogosphere, Spotty means. Why yes, there is. Katherine Kersten’s Thursday column in the Star Tribune, titled Gratitude, not anger, comes from Astrodome, sounded suspiciously familiar to Spotty. He decided to sniff it out.

What Spot found is evidence of the right wing echo chamber at work, and echoes that percolated up from the winger blogs almost directly into Katie’s column. Before we get into that though, let Spotty describe the column.

Katie tells, or rather retells, the story of Jim Lodoen, a Minneapolis attorney who was in Houston last week to visit his mother, in the hospital, which Spotty always approves. While he was there, he spent several days at the Astrodome as a volunteer, and he also raised several thousand dollars from colleagues in Minneapolis, which he distributed in the form of Target gift cards and cash. Very commendable. It is efforts like this, and like that of Spotty’s acquaintance Gayle Wood and Good Samaritan United Methodist Church, in addition to local, state, and federal government efforts, that will rescue the Gulf Coast.


Katie says that Lodoen told her that reports of the criticism of the federal government response were wrong.
Back at his mother's hospital room, Lodoen saw television reporters interviewing victims who appeared angry and indignant. "I thought, 'Where are they coming up with these people? I'm not seeing them.'" He was also shocked at the shrill finger-pointing on the news. "All around us, politicians are focused on the blame game. Yet the victims themselves are blaming no one. I didn't hear one complaint. In fact, I was overwhelmed by the love, faith, determination and compassion that everyone shared."
Who is Katie’s stringer, Spot wondered? In just a few moments work, he found out that Lodoen is a right wing side kick of Peter Swanson of Swanblog and Scott Johnson of Power Line. These are, of course, two blogs in the vast right wing circle jerk. Lodoen is also the guy who put this question to Vin Weber at a conclave at the Center of the American Experiment right after last fall’s election:
I’ve got a quick follow-up to the Supreme Court discussion. Is it going to be difficult to replace Rehnquist or possibly Antonin Scalia with a justice of similar position and strength, or Bush won’t [probably should read won’t Bush] be able to move to the right of there? Will he lose ground and move a little bit more toward center?
Clearly, a man of liberal political sentiment. It would be ungrateful of a hurricane survivor to complain to a complete stranger giving you money, of course. But are Lodoen and his blogger and columnist buddies just trying to put a brave face on the criminal ineptitude of the Bush administration? Spot thinks so.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, here are just a few of the echoes from the blogosphere that wound up in Katie’s column.

From an email from Lodoen reprinted in Swanblog:
The people are comfortable and the Houston operation is very well organized. A lot of food is available although the selection is not too extensive at the moment, and doesn't work for special diets. Free stores stocked with clothing, personal items and games are well stocked. Social Security, FEMA, Job Service, etc. are all in place and helping people. Volunteers are on laptops helping people find family and friends. People are very secure with police everywhere.
And then from Katie:
Once in Houston, Lodoen made his way to the Astrodome complex, which houses thousands of victims displaced from ravaged New Orleans. He was prepared to find chaos. Instead, he says, he was struck by how well-organized the massive operation was. "There was lots of food, and free stores stocked with clothing, personal items and games. Volunteers on laptops were helping people find family and friends." FEMA, Social Security and other agencies were out in force.
From Swanblog:
In fact one family spent their first four days in the stadium seats at the Astrodome after arriving in Houston because the cots on the floor were full. They slept in the stadium seats. I said, "That must have been terrible." She said, "No, it was o.k. I was just grateful to have food, air conditioning, lights and a roof over us."
Katie actually embellishes this one a little:
He met a family that had slept in stadium seats for four nights. "I said, 'That must have been terrible.' 'Oh, no,' the woman said. Instead of focusing on what they lacked, they were deeply thankful for what they had: food, lights, a roof, each other."
One husband/wife with 4 kids had both been working two jobs to buy their first house. The closed on Friday and stayed at the house that evening, moved in on Saturday, waited out the storm on Sunday and evacuated on Monday. They were grateful for the two days they had in their home. The father shared that all he does in life is about and for his family, and he needed to get them out. (His wife took me aside and shared that he is thinking that he did not do as much as he should have to protect his family so when he and I spoke I was able to give him a big pat on the back for saving his family, etc.) They left the house hand in hand with the two youngest on he and his wife's shoulders and walked through blocks and blocks of water up to their necks to a bridge where they waited for buses.
Another family told of fleeing their first home two days after moving in. The mother and father left hand in hand with their children perched on their shoulders, struggling through water up to their necks. They were awestruck at nature's power, and grateful to survive. Now, at night, the parents plan their future as their children sleep.
Actually, Katie, you got that last part messed up in the transcription, because Lodoen attributes the planning for the future while the children sleep on cots to a different family mentioned in a different post:
Michael said they try to go out for ice cream twice a week and that this was a real treat for them to do this again. His focus tomorrow is to try to get a job with a Houston division of the water delivery company he worked for and to work with his insurance company, etc. to see what their new beginning will look like financially. He and his wife are busy planning their future at night as their children sleep on the cots next to him.
And finally, commenting on volunteer help:

First Swanblog:
However, the kind words or hugs of the volunteers working for the charities, or a contribution "from some friends at Lindquist & Vennum in Minneapolis", does something more by letting people know someone--an actual person or group of persons--cares! That makes them feel special--like we are all in this together. And we are!!
And Katie:
Lodoen acknowledges that hurricane victims need government aid. "But volunteers can do something more. With hugs and kind words, they can let people know that someone -- an actual person or group of persons -- cares. "That makes the victims feel like we're all in this together. And we are."
Then, of course, Power Line has to get into the act:
September 14, 2005
Houston without CNN
My colleagues Gene Allen and Peter Swanson have been working overtime to get out the story of Jim Lodoen, the Minneapolis attorney who personally brought the generosity of the Minneapolis legal community to New Orleans evacuees in Houston. Peter is the proprietor of Swanblog and has written about Lodoen here, here, and here.
Our friend Katherine Kersten knows a good story when she sees one, and better yet knows how to tell it. That's what she does in her moving column in tomorrow's Star Tribune: "Gratitude, not anger, comes from Astrodome."
Posted by Scott at 11:14 PM
Actually, Scott, it appears that Katie only knows a good story when it comes up and kicks her in the ass.


Wednesday, September 14, 2005

9/11: the Betrayal . . .

Katie has a soul sister. Her name is Karen Hazel, who “raises her voice” about 9/11 on the District 41 (Minnesota) GOP website here. After describing her September angst and the fact she was an “eyewitness” to the collapse of the towers in New York, she chides the rest of us for not being sufficiently reverential in remembering the events of that day.

Karen says we “talk about it less” as the event draws farther away. Why yes, Karen, that’s true; it is the psychology of healing, not the complacency that you suggest that it is. What would you have us do? Run up and down the streets screaming and wailing and beating ourselves with sticks? It must be so discouraging for you to have that pesky hurricane competing for the nation’s attention, especially since it demonstrates the bumbling ineptitude of the administration in preparing for a national disaster. Utter fools, and cronies of fools.

As Spotty has written before here and here, 9/11ism has morphed into a giant national self-pity party that has made us insane. With time and distance, sanity and perspective are returning to our citizens: not a promising development for George Bush and his clanging claque of sycophants like Karen – and Katie.

This administration manipulated the emotions of the nation whenever it suited: orange alerts, terrorists under every bed, swarthy boogie men everywhere. While all the time doing very little to secure the ports, chemical factories, and nuclear facilities in the “homeland.” Not to mention putting in a half effort to find the terrorists, including bin Laden. And really not to mention the unbelievable folly of the war in Iraq, which is proving awfully counter productive, terrorist production-wise.

And of course, according to Karen, it’s all Bill Clinton’s fault. Karen is right about one thing, if Bill Clinton’s presidency had not been beset by the baying hounds of the right wing, he could perhaps have spent more time on terrorism.

Let’s remember, though, that the perpetrators of the first bombing of the World Trade Center were prosecuted and locked away for life. When it was established that bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for the African embassy bombings, Clinton struck against bin Laden’s encampments, an act roundly criticized by conservatives as “wagging the dog.”

In the closing days of the Clinton administration, it prevented the planned Millennium attack in part by putting the Customs Service on high alert, a move that paid off. The Clinton administration also presented the evidence that it had collected on the Cole bombing to the new Bush administration, which by all appearance did nothing about it.

In fact, in spite of being warned that bin Laden was going to be his biggest problem, Bush did virtually nothing about bin Laden prior to 9/11. He and Condi Rice ignored the advice of Richard Clarke, and he couldn’t be bothered while on vacation to do anything about a Presidential Daily Briefing in August of 2001 that contained a dire warning about bin Laden’s intentions.

The real problem, Karen, with our recollection of tragedy of 9/11 is that it has been so manipulated by the President and his neocon buddies that the aftertaste is one of increasing bitterness and betrayal.


Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Boy, those guys at Power Line!

Boy, those guys at Power Line! Rarely in the field of human endeavor have so few written so much but said so little. They're at it again, this time with the help of the director of media relations for an outfit called the Competitive Enterprise Institute criticizing the Friday column of Nick Coleman. It took the loquacious Scotty and Billy over seventeen hundred words to reply to Coleman: nuh uh! Seventeen hundred words. You know Scott, Power Line readers are not like clients who have to pay you by the word.

At any rate, Coleman writes a column making the point that the social Darwinist hunter gatherers over at the Center of the American Experiment may have had something to do with the federal government's criminally inept preparation before and and rescue efforts after Katrina:
Part of what drowned New Orleans is a political ideology determined to shrink government and ignore scientific evidence of global warming. Well, "stuff" flows downhill, and some of those tainted ideas came straight from Minnesota.
Coleman then points out that one of the former anti-environment "scholars" at the Center was David Riggs, now with the aforementioned Competitive Enterprise Institute. The aforementioned Morrison has a hissy fit and writes a huffy letter to the Star Tribune, a leaden screed that Morrison must know could not be published, but he apparently sent a copy to our correspondent Scott for inclusion with the rest of the bird droppings from the Power Line (birds sit on powerlines, get it?)

At the beginning of the his letter, Morrison draws himself to his full rhetorical height and writes:
Coleman describes the Competitive Enterprise Institute ( as a think tank “whose mission is preventing environmental concerns from interfering with business.” As an organization favoring limited government, our real goal is to create structures in which the values individuals place on environmental quality can be expressed as directly as possible through market forces, rather than being clumsily interpreted through political channels.
Oh, now we get it. The people of New Orleans should have had bake sales, sold chocolate bars, and held pig roasts to raise money to hire Halliburton to build up the levees. Of course! Or they could have done it themselves. Just think of the demand that would have created for shovels!

Face it Morrison, you don't give a rusty rat's ass about the environmental values of all the poor people we saw swimming for safety. The structures you want to create, you moral scrub, are impediments to people like this even expressing their values.

Morrison goes on to tell us that 1) global warming doesn't exist, and 2) doing something about about the global warming that doesn't exist might harm the economy.

In support of his first point, Morrison cites the opinion of three of the darling biostitutes of the Competitive Enterprise Institute: Robert Balling, Sallie Baliunas, and Fred Singer. All three are so intellectually crooked that when they die they will be screwed into the ground.

As to the second point, Spotty recommends Jared Diamond's latest book, Collapse.


Monday, September 12, 2005

More sunshine from Jim . . .

It is always good to start the week with the sunny optimism of Jim Kuntsler:
In the economic sector, the delusion persists that the US Economy will be "unaffected" by the massive losses entailed by Katrina (as the New York Times put it last week). We don't need no steenkin' Mississippi Reever sheeping terminals or oil refineries. It is hard to imagine what species of gnostic theology this line of thinking is predicated on. Or how the economic press figures that price inflation of all ordinary household goods will not shoot up when truckers are paying twice as much this year to move frozen fried chickens from Arkansas to Philadelphia -- not to mention the fact that the disposable income previously allocated to Blue Light Special shopping in the chain stores is now being blown out the tailpipes of people struggling to pay for their fifty-mile commutes.
Yessir, boys and girls, we are in for an interesting fall and winter.

Katie's truck fetish . . .

Somebody needs to talk to Katie about worshipping graven images. Given a rare Sunday slot to celebrate observe the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Katie reintroduces us to the Memorial Truck. Katie likes the Memorial Truck. For those of you too lazy to look at the link, the Memorial Truck is a semi-trailer truck with a paint job that includes the names of all of the people killed on 9/11, except the terrorists, of course.

The truck makes personal appearances (which is a pretty good trick for a truck, you must admit) in various places, and people come up and touch the names of people they don't know, and cry. Think of it as sort of a diesel-powered Wailing Wall.

The Memorial Truck made an appearance in Kellogg, Minnesota on 9/11, as part of that town's solemn observance of Watermelon Days. Katie's Sunday column was about all the mourners in sack cloth and ashes - and with watermelon-stained faces - gazing up in anguish at the Memorial Truck. Spotty wonders if the Memorial Truck brought the watermelon!

If it is up to wingers like Katie, the national self-pity party will never end. It is a useful mood for them to have the country in, because it makes us all so blessedly uncritical of whatever hogwash the Bush administration is currently serving up. Support the troops! Remember the Alamo! Remember the Maine! Gott mitt uns!

Here's what we have become:
Patriotism has become a hollow, partisan notion in our country. It's been in the name of patriotism that we've turned our young soldiers into scapegoats and fodder. The betrayal of the young in the name of patriotism is a staggering fact of our post-9/11 response. The old men have carried the young men up the mountain and put them on the altar. It's Abraham and Isaac all over again. It's the oldest story, a kind of human sacrifice, and that's what's made those cries of parents so poignant this August. But those cries also have to include an element of self-accusation, because parents have done it to their children. We've done it to our children. That's what it means to destroy the United States Army. Night after night, we see that the actual casualties of that destruction are young men, and occasionally women, between the ages of 18 and 30. And this in the name of patriotism.
This is a quotation from an interview with James Carroll, a former Catholic priest and an anti-war activist. You can read the whole TomDispatch interview here.

Tags: (Just kidding on the last one.)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four years . . .

Juan Cole at Informed Comment does a little summing up:
Four years.

In four years, Roosevelt and allies defeated Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. In four years, Bush hasn't managed even to corner Bin Laden and a few hundred scruffy terrorists; or to extract himself from the deserts of Iraq; or to put the government's finances in good order so that it can deal with crises like Katrina.
It's a good post; Spotty recommends it.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Compare and contrast . . .

From Powerline:

By far the best column on the theme I tried to explore in my Standard piece is Victor Davis Hanson's in the Washington Post this past Sunday: "Why we must stay in Iraq."

Posted by Scott at 06:02 AM
From James Wolcott:
Victor Davis Hanson is the Marlboro Man of war apologists, a sun-bronzed rider of the purple sage whose stentorian words and battlefield vision have made many a chickenhawk less ashamed of himself as he shuffles around in his fuzzy slippers. The aria Hanson sings in article after article pays Wagnerian tribute to the Western Way of War, or why democracies are so admirably advanced when it comes to committing mass slaughter.
. . .

As Werther [a nom de plume for an anonymous inside the Beltway type] observes, the terrible thing about Victor Davis Hanson and his lyrical serenades to war is that there's no escaping them. "The concrete-like slab of The Washington Post Sunday edition thunked on our doorstep only a few hours ago, and with it the latest effluent from the Sage of Fresno himself as a featured op-ed: 'Why We Need to Stay in Iraq.' Note the sheer chickenhawk effrontery of that 'we,' and the almost ghoulish tastelessness of whooping it up for endless foreign deployments as the dead of New Orleans remain uncounted."
Sorry Scott, advantage Wolcott and Werther. Of course, these guys are probably not burdened with an expensive law school education that wrung every ounce of energy out of their writing. WHEREAS, you are.

Scott also waxes in the "it's all Jane Fonda's fault" mode by claiming the Vietnam war was lost on the home front. No, silly boy, it was lost in Vietnam, long before the Tet Offensive that you bemoan as a military victory but a public relations defeat. Spotty is too tired to look through his archives right now, but there is a post back awhile now that refers to and quotes extensively a long interview given by Robert McNamara where he acknowledges the war was lost by 1967. But then Scott probably doesn't remember Robert McNamara.


Grilled spawn . . .

Let Spotty set the scene for you, gentle reader:

A sensible beige sedan motors down a ribbon of highway in a sea of corn and soybeans. There is a middle-aged couple in the front seat and a young man, about eighteen or so, wedged in between boxes in the back seat. A decal in the back window proclaims Providence Academy and a worn bumper sticker shows ush/Che in faded red, white and blue. They are obviously headed to take the boy to college.

A perfectly ordinary fall scene. But these are not ordinary people. This is Katie, Mr. Katie, and Spawn of Katie.

In her Thursday column, titled Strong examples from life, fiction make the man, Katherine Kersten tells the bittersweet story (Katie's words, not Spot's) of a thirteen hour road trip to take the youngerster off to college for the first time. Thirteen hours of Katie's withering cross examination. That's enough to make anybody question the existence of a just God.

At some point in the journey, as Katie is humming Onward Chrsitian Soldiers, she turns back to her son who has the iPod cranked up to cover the incessant humming. Say, son of Katie, she says, who was your favorite high school teacher? In Katie's world, it is very important to rank everything; all things must be ranked in the pecking order of goodness. If you don't rank people too, how will you know who is the better person? This would be a confusing state of affairs to Katie, for whom heirarchy is life.

Son of Katie is pinned in place in the back seat; caught like a rat in a trap. He knows that Katie will be all over him until he coughs up a name and a justification for his answer. So, he names his literature teacher. Why? Well, let's see. Oh yeah. We read The Iliad and learned about sword fighting and manhood and stuff. It was cool.

Katie abstracts this into a Great Life Lesson about decision making. The best and most recent decision-making lesson to come out of The Illiad is for Brad Pitt, reminding him that he stinks in beards and sandels soap operas. Kind of like Tom Selleck and Rachel Ward did as Ferdinand and Isabella in the stinker Columbus.

Anyway, Katie talks to the literature teacher and comes to the ground-breaking conclusion that a high school teacher has a big influence on his or her charges. This is just the sort of laser perception for which Katie was hired by the Strib. Entire new avenues of scholarship are opened by Katie's epiphany. Well, okay, maybe not.

Spotty wil conclude with a wish for the son of Katie. May you have a chance to read Mark Twain, James Joyce, Sinclair Lewis, Graham Greene, Frederick Manfred, Frank McCourt and many other great and more contemporary authors in addition to the classics. Maybe read the book currently on Spot's nightstand, The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. Take in the movie Crash. Who knows? You might learn something. Just don't tell Mom.


Thursday, September 08, 2005

Don't ride the one trick pony! part deux

Spotty says read part one for a description of Katie's latest column, Private schools do more for variety of kids. This is, of course, another installment in a series dedicated to the denigration of public schools, or gummint schools as Katie calls them.

Katie tells us of two "crack babies" (her words, not Spotty's) who were better off in a Catholic school, in spite of not being the "cream." The cream is what private schools are alleged to skim off, in Katie's telling of it, leaving the rest to the public schools. These two non-cream crack babies are proof of the superiority of private sectarian education. A titanic conclusion from a rather small sample size. Katie doesn't tell us that the boys are doing better than they did in public school.

Spot hates to quarrel with you Katie (who is he kidding? He loves to quarrel with Katie), but these two boys don't seem especially difficult to educate: they speak English, aren't special education students (they wouldn't be in a private school if they were), and very importantly, they have a parent (please note, Katie, that the boys are in a single-parent adoptive home) who is interested in, and has the time to be involved in, their education.

Katie tells us of the difference in cost between the public schools and the private school that the crack babies attend. Inner city schools have a lot tougher kids than these two, that's for sure. And Spot wonders if part of the cost differential is the fact that at least some of the faculty at the Catholic school have take a vow of poverty?

Katie says the difference is discipline and "moral vision." If she means by the latter fundie Christianity, she is right. If she means ethical judgment and human (gasp!) values, she is wrong. It is a libel of public schools to say they are unconcerned with morality. Perhaps it is Katie's pinched-faced moralism that is lacking. The shrieking shrewry of Katie and Pierson Yecke and Bachmann have claimed the high ground long enough. Their morality says pray that the hurricane will turn away, and pray for its victims, but make sure that the government is too crippled to help, and surely don't fix the levee.

Katie talks so much about discipline that Spot wonders if she has a business involving leather on the side.


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Buddy, can you spare a dime? Thanks again

Three 24 foot trucks pulled out of the Good Samaritan parking lot this evening full of donated clothes, toiletries, bottled water, soccer and basketballs, etc. and etc. and headed for Little Rock, Arkansas. There is a displaced persons center there at the Convention Center that is expected to take in tens of thousands of people. It staggers the imagination.

If you had a chance to donate; thank you. If not, I am sure relief efforts are just getting underway.

Thanks again, Spot

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Buddy, can you spare a dime? part deux

For a relief effort for Katrina's victims see Spot's post Buddy, can you spare a dime? Good Samaritan's Gayle Wood tells Spot that donations will be accepted right up to the 7 PM departure time tomorrow night. (Wednesday the 7th)

Don't ride the one trick pony!

Well, Spotty's pups are all installed at college now. Boy, it is really quiet around here. Dogs are pack animals, as you know, and Spotty doesn't like it much.

Now, where were we? Ah, yes, Katie's latest column entitled Private schools do more for variety of kids. Katherine Kersten tells us once again that there is no such thing as a public good or the general welfare of the citizenry. Katie is a veritable Glenn Gould, humming to herself as pecks away at her Underwood, spinning multiple Goldberg variations of the same basic anti-social theme.

Here's the general setup: Katie found a couple of low income families who wanted to put their kids into religious schools, and were able to get scholarships to do so from Katie's heroes, the Waltons. (See Jesus Saves.) Apparently, the kids and their parents are pleased with the results. From this, Katie concludes that private schools are better.

Either Katie is a blithering idiot, or she thinks her readers are.

Some of Spot's lawyer friends have let him in on a little trade secret, and he is going to share it with you now, gentle reader. It is called inductive reasoning. It permits the grandest of conclusions to be drawn from the scantest of evidence. And of course, that is why courtroom lawyers, especially, like it.

Suppose someone saw Spot, Mrs. Spot and one of the Spot pups strolling across the green lawns of academia last weekend. He says There are three dogs, and they are all spotted. From this evidence I conclude that all dogs are spotted. Perfectly good inductive reasoning.

The more specifics you have, the better the inference that you can make. Katie's use of inductive reasoning is always gas baggery, however. That is because she is striving for ideological conclusions, not objective truth. Katie is a sanctimonious charlatan.

Katie's true aim is to destroy public confidence in public education. Public education is the backbone of this country and this state.

Spot will have more to say about some specific things in Katie's column, probably later today.


Sunday, September 04, 2005

Buddy, can you spare a dime?

Or maybe a bucket of toiletries like soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, and toothbrushes? Or clean usable clothing (or new stuff if you are so inclined) for kids or adults? Or blankets? How about that soccer ball, football, or basketball that has been lying around? Or just about anything that might be of use to someone who fled from home with only the clothes the person was wearing?

On Wednesday evening, Good Samaritan United Methodist Church in Edina is sending a caravan of rented trucks to a refugee center in Arkansas that has taken in a large number of refugees from deadly Katrina. Anything you can contribute will be welcome on the trucks. Just drop the stuff during the day Tuesday or Wednesday until about midafternoon, and it will get there. Directions to the church are in the link above.

If anybody asks how you found out about this, just tell 'em Spotty sent you. If you know of anyone that you think might be able to contribute, please forward this post. If you never forward a post of Spotty's, please forward this one.

If you have been thinking of contributing money but haven't figured out how you want to do that yet, let Spotty suggest UMCOR, the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Methodist churches pay all the administrative expenses of UMCOR through their apportionments, or dues. One hundred percent of your contribution goes to relief of the hurricane victims.

We get reminded once in a while that the family in family values is the family of humankind.

Spot says thanks.