Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Books for Dave, part deux

Sorry for ignoring you, boys and girls. Spotty has been busy observing Memorial Day. More on that later.

Spot has gotten some inquiries about the "Books for Dave" book drive. Let's see if ol' Spot can answer them:

I have some books, but I can't get to Drinking Liberally on Thursday. Can I still contribute?

Yes, of course you can, grasshopper. You could contact Spot, and maybe Spotty's alter ego (who has a driver's license; Spot does not) can figure out a way to pick them up. Even better, for Spot, anyway, you could ship them directly to Dave at his APO address, which is what Spotty is going to do. Books can be sent "media rate" or what we used to call "book rate," which is pretty cheap. Here's the APO:

SGT Dave Thul
Weapons Company 1-133

That doesn't look like much of an address, but the Army is supposed to be able to track Dave wherever he is. That's actually kind of comforting.

But Spotty, aren't there like, censors, and stuff?

Well, yes, grasshopper. Here is what Spot suggests. Put a note in your package that says in effect, dear censor, if you fail to see that these books are delivered to Sergeant Thul and his men forthwith, you are a scrub, a cretin, and no friend of the Constitution.

If you send books directly, and Spot encourages you to do that, please send Spot an email with what you sent. Spotty can forward that to Dave, who can take inventory, so to speak. And let Spot know if he can list you as a contributor in a blog post.

By the way, Dave will serve as a heavily-armed cameo librarian to be sure everthing that is sent is distrubted no only to his guys but other units, too.

Thanks for your support.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Christian rabbits

One of the things that Katie likes to do is pull Christian rabbits out of secular hats. That is, to pull us in with facts that seem oh so ordinary, and then gasp (a word that Katie especially likes, a lot of the people in Katie’s columns gasp, but perhaps it’s just indigestion), abra cadabra, Christianity pops out! A miracle! The latest example of this was yesterday’s column, entitled In drive time, the number 2 station has higher aim.

The column was about the “[Christian] powerhouse KTIS.” Katie likes her Christianity muscular. None of this turn-the-other-cheek namby, pamby Christianity for her! After describing a non-profit station with “state of the art” broadcasting facilities and a good drive-time audience, Katie tantalizes the reader: is it MPR? Why no, it’s KTIS! Well beat Spot with a stick!

And they do it without a nickel from the gummit! Well if it does, Katie, it’s about the only Christian organization that hasn’t figured out how to get on the public dole. These people have no imagination.

Katie tells us that KTIS is, in fact, Radio Free Northwestern College. Northwestern College is the institution of higher learning that recently refused to let a gay rights student group set foot on campus. (Can’t find a link at the moment, but it’s true.)

Is it just Spot, or does Katie seem to promote only certain intolerant brands of Christianity?

Update: Well, it may be North Central Bible College, not Northwestern College, that stiffed the gay group.

Further update: Northwestern College is apparently the one with the association with that famous freethinker, Billy Graham.

Books for Dave et al.

Spot has cleared it with the Power that be, to-wit REW at the Power Liberal. At Drinking Liberally next Thursday night, June 1st, we’re going to have a progressive/liberal book drive for Dave Thul and his unit of the Minnesota Guard currently luxuriating in tents somewhere in Iraq. Frequent readers know that Dave is one of Spot’s more persistent critics, and Dave has managed to work that activity into his day at least a couple of times while on tour. Spot is truly humbled.

Anyway, several days ago, Dave sent a message to Power Line asking if the boys had any conservative books lying around that could be spared to give the unit some reading material. The request made it into a Power Line post, and apparently Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity, et al., have been coming in over the transom. Spot and CP were thinking about mounting a literary counter offensive, but before we even got to the LD, Dave emailed Spot to ask if Spotty and his friends could provide a little balance. And Spot said sure. Hence the book drive/collection at DL next week.

So, here’s the deal. Come to DL with a book or two. They certainly ought to be liberal in outlook, but no ponderous polemics, please. (Although Spot is not a censor; we’ll send whatever you bring.) Swiftee says he is going to lay in a supply of Franken for us. Maybe readers could bring one, just in case Swiftee doesn’t. Molly Ivins is good. So is Kevin Phillips. Spot thinks he might throw in a couple of novels about the Middle East: The Mulberry Empire and The Kite Runner.

If you could spare a buck or two to help defray the cost of shipping, that would be great.

Thanks. See ya Thursday. DL is 6:00 to 9:00 PM, at the 331 Club, 331 Northeast 13th Avenue, Minneapolis. This is the corner of 13th Ave. N. and University Ave. Can't miss it.

Memorial Day

Hello, boys and girls. Spot sees that it is Friday and that he slept through a whole day, blog-wise. And we haven’t even gotten to the dog days of summer yet! It probably won’t get any better over the Memorial Day weekend. When Spot was a pup, we called it Decoration Day. It was marked in Spot’s little town with a military ceremony at each of the town’s three cemeteries: Catholic, Lutheran, and “general.” We all got to swim in the same pool, however.

Kidding aside, take a moment this weekend to consider all of the armed conflicts in which Americans have participated, some noble, some less so. But in every case, Americans of all colors, religions, ethnic backgrounds, and yes, sexual orientation, have served, and countless thousands of them died doing it. Mourn them; be grateful for them. More of anybody you couldn’t ask.

Spotty has noticed that he has become awfully self-referential lately, but he can’t help linking to his post of Eric Bogle’s The Green Fields of France.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lock 'em up, Lord

Empire Burlesque is one of Spot’s daily stops. Here’s a bit from a recent post:
Earlier this month, the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London released its annual World Prison Population List. And there, standing proudly at the head of the line, towering far above all others, is that shining city on the hill, the United States of America. But strangely enough, the Bush gang and its many media sycophants failed to celebrate – or even note – yet another instance where a triumphant America leads the world. Where are the cheering hordes shouting "USA! USA!" at the news that the land of the free imprisons more people than any other country in the world – both in raw numbers and as a percentage of its population?

Yes, the world's greatest democracy now has more than two million of its citizens locked up in iron cages: an incarceration rate of 714 per 100,000 of the national population, the Centre reports. The only countries within shouting distance are such bastions of penological enlightenment as China (1.55 million prisoners, plus some unsorted "administrative detainees"), Russia (a wimpy 763,000) and Brazil (330,000), whose exemplary prison management has been on such prominent display this week.

Texas of course leads the nation:
Inside the Homeland, the state of Texas sets the pace, as you might imagine. During George W. Bush's tenure there as governor in the 1990s, Texas had the fastest growing prison population in the country, almost doubling the national rate, as the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports. In fact, by the time Dubya was translated to glory by Daddy's buddies on the Supreme Court, one out of every 20 adult Texans were "either in prison, jail, on probation or parole," the CJCJ notes; a level of "judicial control" that reached to one in three for African-American males. George also killed more convicts than any other governor in modern U.S. history as well – a nice warm-up for the valorous feats of mass slaughter yet to come.

But Chris Floyd doesn’t lay all of the blame at George W. Bush’s feet. And in fact, there is plenty to go around.

Aren’t we a Christian God-fearing nation, Spotty? We say so, grasshopper, but apparently not so much, really. The study that Spot refers to in his linked post is described in a London Times article:
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.”

Evangelicals Texas style, Republicans, and crime. A coincidence? Spotty reports, you decide.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Katie the storyteller

Yesterday in Anders doesn’t care, Spot said he had some observations on Katie’s columns on Sunday and Monday. Here they are. In the Minnesota Monthly story commented on in Anders doesn’t care, Anders and Katie emphasized the story-telling role of the news columnist. Let’s see, boys and girls, how good the stories that Katie tells are!

In What happened to media's sensitivity about religion? Katie fulminates about the new documentary on the Catholic Church, The Da Vinci Code. JUST KIDDING, Katie. For those of you who have been living in a cave – or perhaps a tent in Iraq with Dave – The Da Vinci Code is about a twenty-century cover-up by the Catholic Church of the fact that Jesus was married and sired offspring and that their descendents live to this day. The ultimate bad guy in the movie is a monk named Silas, and Silas is kind of an Opus Dei enforcer.

Who are the protagonists in this story by Katie? Are they the characters in the movie? Nah, they just get a passing mention. Katie’s column isn’t a story about the making of the movie, either. Well then, what’s it all about Spotty? Katie is unhappy because she thinks that the media treats Muslims better than Catholics. So you see, boys and girls, the column is about Katie herself! Which is why it really isn’t a story, but rather an opinion piece.

Juan Cole, the brilliant Middle Eastern historian and author of Informed Comment, says that the book and the movie have touched a nerve because it is a parable of American modernity:
Despite the scowls and titters of the critics, the DaVinci Code did $77 million at the box office [over the weekend of its opening] in the US, better than Tom Cruise pulled in MI3. And the world-wide gross is already $224 million.

What in the world accounts for the popularity of this complicated and improbable story?

Dan Brown's narrative is about restoring the happy medium to contemporary Western modernity.

A little later in the post, Professor Cole says:
The film is popular because it isn't about Catholicism or France or some odd conspiracy theory centered on Mary Magdalene. It is popular because it is about the dilemmas of secular modernity.

Cole notes that the Shia are into self-flagellation, just as Opus Dei members are. Katie’s real problem is that not everyone buys into Katie’s belief system, especially some of the minutia, and that’s just sacrilege to her.

This issue came to a head recently at the St. Thomas University commencement. In describing a speech by a graduating senior and a seminarian at St. Thomas, the Star Tribune wrote:
Ben Kessler, an academic All-America football player who plans to become a priest, chastised students for using birth control, criticized them for a recent food fight and upheld the St. Paul university's controversial policy against allowing unmarried faculty and staff members in romantic relationships to room together on school trips that involve students.

"Then he got into other failures of society, and one of my classmates next to me stood up and left," said Daphne Ho, a graduating senior whose family traveled from Hong Kong for the celebration.

The article goes on to describe the reaction to Kessler, the budding
communis rixa. The amazing thing is that this sanctimonious little tight arse probably had no idea that his medievalist homily would meet with less than universal acclaim.

And by the way, Katie, Muslims aren’t always portrayed in a favorable light at the cinema. Think Indiana Jones.

And yesterday, in More a purple state than a blue state now, Katie crows about how more people self-identify as Republicans than used to be the case. Who is this story about? Is it about Larry Jacobs, a professor at the University of Minnesota who is quoted by Katie? Not really. It is about Annette Meeks, who is also quoted as one of the state’s many recent immigrants? Again, not really. It’s mostly about Katie’s exultation that (primarily evangelical) church attendance is up, and that explains why Republicans are more numerous. Maybe. Kevin Phillips seems to think so. I guess we’ll find out more in November.

Anyway, not so much story as opinion piece.

Spot did find one thing funny, though. Katie, quoting her homie Meeks, says:
Annette Meeks, my former colleague at Center of the American Experiment and a longtime Republican activist, says she often meets these newcomers at [Republican] party events. "When I speak to Republican groups, I'm always amazed at the number of people who, like me, have come from other states, where -- for example -- taxes are much lower. They say, 'It doesn't have to be like this.' "

So, people are attracted to Minnesota because of the jobs, the amenities, and the general quality of life. Then some of them, like Meeks, immediately start trying to turn Minnesota into the same kind of shit hole they came from!

Tags: tells stories about and

Monday, May 22, 2006

Anders doesn't care

Katie had a column in the paper yesterday and today. What stamina. Spot has observations on both of them, boys and girls, but first he wants to talk about this article in Minnesota Monthly. Titled Rewrite Man, it is about Anders Gyllenhaal, the latest top editor at the Star Tribune, brought aboard four years ago. It’s generally a puff piece about mild-mannered Anders who can be tough when he needs to be! Hard-scrabble youth, worked his way up, the whole works.

A lot of the story is how Horatio, Spot means Anders, undertook to turn the Strib into the painted lady it is today. One of the things Anders wanted to do was get a “reliably conservative” voice as a columnist. And immediately, or maybe eventually, he thought of Katie – Katherine Kersten. Anders wanted to hire someone for his or her “story-telling ability.” Hysterical laughter. Sorry. Anyway, quoting from the article:
Gyllenhaal eventually found [conservative] reliability in spades: Katherine Kersten. The lawyer/activist/polemicist was a senior fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, a Twin Cities conservative think tank, and she had been a Strib op-ed columnist for eight years—until she and two other (nonconservative) writers were dumped in an op-ed housecleaning in 2003.

Kersten’s column-writing tenure, provocative stances, longtime activism on behalf of conservative causes, and myriad contacts on the right gave Gyllenhaal confidence that she could do the job. She recalls that Gyllenhaal emphasized “storytelling rather than just public-policy analysis” in discussions about the position.

Was this a wise choice, boys and girls?
Many in the newsroom felt journalistic integrity didn’t fare so well—not because of Kersten’s viewpoints, they insist, but because she lacks independence. Most reporters I talked to said they wished that the Strib had diversified earlier, but they fault Gyllenhaal for hiring an activist with no reporting experience, without enough skepticism for the facts on both sides of an argument.

Grow and Coleman, despite their lefty proclivities, love tweaking DFL pols, but Kersten has yet to acknowledge any deficits in the Republican Party or the positions of the political right. Problem? Let the rookie journalist be, Gyllenhaal responds: “She’s still starting out. Let’s see what else she has to say.”

Gyllenhaal sweeps aside reader objections to Kersten’s logic, sourcing, and factual completeness as its own selective reality. “She’s probably getting more reaction than the dozen columnists across the whole paper,” Gyllenhaal says. “She definitely has an edge to her. She’s introducing ideas and opinions and perspectives that the paper hasn’t had. Those all add up to an important new element in the paper.” [italics are Spot’s]

Well first of all Anders, Katie says the same things over and over. There’s the Catholic schools are superior column, the country is going to hell in a hand basket because column, the Sixties was the worst thing that ever happened to the US column, the 9/11 be very afraid column, the we must stay in Iraq until everyone’s fingers are all purple column, and that’s about it. Oh, Spot forgot the gays are evil column. How could he forget that! We don’t really read Katie with bated breath to see what she might say new. And training wheels for columnists, what a concept!

And Anders, it seems that both other Strib staffers and readers think Katie is one of those reality creators that we hear so much about in Republican circles these days. A news section is just the place for that! Gyllenhaal sweeps the concerns aside, creating his own New Newspaper Reality.

Meanwhile, our Lois Lane of the Cornfields couldn’t read a coherent story to grade schoolers, much less write one. The people that Katie interviews – and Spot uses the word interviews with some trepidation – are props or straw men for the point Katie wants to make. Spot will illustrate that later when he discusses Katie’s most recent columns.

The problem is not, Anders, that Katie is conservative. Katie is a great specimen, exemplar, avatar, representative, model, and archetype of a conservative. The problem is that you gave her the honored position of news columnist when she should be on the op-ed page with your other two Stygian witches, Mona Charen and Debra J. Saunders. They all use the same conservative eye and pass the same thoughts among them anyway.

Well, that's enough for now. Spot will take up the recent columns in his next post.

Tag: is reliably conservative

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Geoff Michel commemorative here!

Here's Goldy's new outfit thanks to Senator Geoff Michel and TCF's William Cooper. It's a beauty, ain't it? Maybe T - C - F can now substitute in the song for ski - u - mah! Whaddya bet we see maroon and gold jerseys emblazoned with TCF before long?

The cross-licensing potential of this deal is mind boggling! TCF can become the official credit card pusher to strapped college students! Goldy can make appearances at TCF corporate events - maybe even Republican conventions! That would be swell. TCF can offer the Gopher Account for high-net-worth individuals that would include a little embossed Goldy on credit cards, and on keychains and BIC pens and other promotional merchandise.

This deal is especially noteworthy because now we'll memorialize a business organization headed by man who was instrumental in helping turn the Minnesota Republican party into the ruthless, ideological brigands they are today. And the University of Minnesota has been made the worse for it.

When all is said and done, this won't be so much a new logo on Goldy's jersey as a blot on his escutcheon.

Parody art by Ken Avidor.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Genus: political bozo

Spot – or rather his inner human – said the other day that no one wanted to address the question posed by Zacarias Moussaoui after his sentencing: Why do you suppose we hate you so? Skepticism was expressed over the standard explanation:
Is it so believable to think that a large number of people just went off the deep end and set out to kill Westerners? If anyone is so bold as to question that explanation, he is branded as an “America hater.” Maybe, just maybe, it’s more nuanced than that. And questioning your country’s action is an act of love, not hate.

Well, somebody did tackle the question, Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution. Part of his answer:
They don't care about destroying our freedom. In fact, they give no thought whatsoever to us. Their goal is the same as the goal of political bozos the world over: they want to have more power than their "domestic" rivals.

Think of Bush. If you could listen in on every White House conversation, you'd find his central, overriding goal is not to reorder the Middle East or seize the world's oil. It's to have more power than Democrats. They invaded Iraq because they thought it would help.

Likewise with al Qaeda. If you read the 9/11 report, you'll find the central, overriding concern for al Qaeda had nothing to do with us. Their goal was to triumph "in their struggle for preeminence among other Islamist and jihadist movements," and splashy suicide attacks seemed like the way to make that happen (p. 191).

Meanwhile, the Taliban's goal was also to have more power than their domestic rivals. Thus, they opposed the 9/11 attacks: "The Taliban leaders put their main emphasis on the year's military offensive against the Northern Alliance...They certainly hoped that this year's offensive would finally finish off their old attack against the United States might be counterproductive. It might draw the Americans into the war against them."
But bin Laden's domestic rivals were different. He pressed to go forward because he [quoting from the 9/11 report] "thought an attack against the United States would benefit al Qaeda by attracting more suicide operatives, eliciting greatest donations, and increasing the number of sympathizers willing to provide logistical assistance" (p. 251).

Note the lack of desire to destroy our freedom. Nor was there gloating over all the Americans they were going to kill, just complete indifference. Instead, they were focused on the same crap the political bozo genus is always obsessed with: money and footsoldiers, so they could stay in power within their own societies for a few more luscious minutes.

They're not supervillains. They're just standard-issue dipshits.

Kinda like somebody else we know.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Katie sings Kum Ba Ya off-key

If Carrie Nation recommended a nightcap before bed to promote sleep, what would you think? How about if Nathan Bedford Forrest went into the bed linens business with a black man after the Civil War? Or how about Bull Connor organizing a basketball league for poor black kids? Or maybe Franklin Graham and Louis Farrakhan sharing some pork barbecue and knocking back a couple brewskis?

Pretty unbelievable, huh? So is the spectacle of Katherine Kersten – our Katie – urging more civility in politics. Katie has never performed demagogic hackery on anybody, including gays and lesbians who want to marry, or Muslims, or, well you get the idea. Katie produces more bile than any other columnist at the Strib, boys and girls. And clumsily, too.

But really, boys and girls, Katie’s column is about nasty Democrats. Here’s how it opens:
We live in a Red State/Blue State age of political polarization. Republicans and Democrats glare across the aisle in mistrust, in Washington, D.C., and St. Paul. Politicians regularly charge that their opponent is not only misguided, but a liar.

Last weekend, State Sen. Tarryl Clark, DFL-St. Cloud, took the rhetoric one step further at the DFL Sixth Congressional District nominating convention, where delegates chose Patty Wetterling to face State Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater, in November.

"Bachmann is the devil in the blue dress," Clark fulminated, "and Patty is the saint." How's that for demonizing your opponent?

Parenthetically, Spot will add that he agrees with Sen. Clark on this one! Katie tells us about her conversation with A.M. (Sandy) Keith, a Democrat who has served in all three branches of state government, and is now a director at the Center of the American Experiment about changes that have occurred to the political system:
For one thing, politicians once had both means and incentives to bridge the partisan gap. "It's hard to believe now," says Keith, "but in 1959, we ran for the Legislature without party affiliations. We caucused as liberals and conservatives, not as Democrats and Republicans. Almost all the rural Democrats considered themselves conservatives on fiscal and social issues
The Legislature reintroduced party labels in 1973, when the DFL took control.

Katie, how could the DFL “take control” when legislators didn’t run with those labels or caucus as DFLers, as Keith says?

Katie also neglects to mention the wreckage of judicial independence wrought by Greg Wersal and the Minnesota Republican Party in Republican Party, et al. v. White.

What Katie so transparently wants are more tractable Democrats like we used to have, before the Dems realized what a bunch of ruthless, ideological brigands the Republicans had become.

Tag: longs for yesteryear

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sticks is right!

Alternate title: A vain show, part deux.

Captain Fishsticks criticizes Smartie at The Power Liberal for making an Iraq – Vietnam comparison. Sticks is right; there is no comparison. Iraq is headed south much too fast to be the quagmire of Vietnam. No, the Iraq war really resembles – rather is – the greatest strategic disaster in US history. So says (Ret.) Lt. General William Odom, Director of the NSA during Reagan’s second term.

Some of Sticks’ breezy advice:

Your [Smartie’s] argument should be that Bush is mishandling the war and offer up a candidate that has a victory strategy. At this point, I don’t see that from the Dems. All I see is self-congratulatory stuff like your post, which is gleeful about bashing Bush but hesitant to offer alternatives or accept any part of the blame for rush to judgment.

The violence and sectarian strife in Iraq are getting worse as US occupation continues, not better. It is apparent that we can’t make it better; there is no victory. We screwed the pooch (an especially inapt metaphor for Spot to use, he knows) on this one long ago. There is no redemption through suffering to be had, just more suffering. To think we can “win” is just a vain show. Our children and their children will live with the obloquy of our hubris.

From the neo-cons to the Democratic enablers, there is plenty of blame to go around. But Sticks, store “victory” in the same place you keep your sugar-plum fairies.

Tags: dreams of victory in the

Get out the big stool

For the authors of this letter, and we might as well seat the Star Tribune editorial board as well.
Thank you for your April 30 editorial highlighting the fast approaching demographic changes in Minnesota. The retirement of the baby boomers means that, by the year 2020, our state will have more seniors than kids in school. This will have a dramatic impact on state budgets and policies.

A growing group of state lawmakers is working to draw some attention to this issue. And we would like to bring these "2020" issues into this year's state elections. To that end, we are working with the Citizens League on hosting a potential gubernatorial debate on this topic of generational change. Minnesotans should demand that policymakers at all levels of government address the education, health care, transportation and pension issues that these demographic shifts will cause.

We can change laws and budgets; but we cannot change demographics. The time to prepare is now.


The so-called “2020 Caucus” has been running around crying the boomers are coming, the boomers are coming! for a couple of years now. But, there are a couple of things this group doesn’t do. It doesn’t caucus together; just check the voting records of the members. And more significantly, in Spot’s opinion, it has not come up with a single policy suggestion. For something so important as these legislators suggest, you’d think they would be able to come up with one idea among ‘em. Nope.

What’s it all about, Spotty?

Ah, grasshopper, the answer reveals itself in the letter above. And we would like to bring these "2020" issues into this year's state elections. The 2020 Caucus is simply the principal plank in the re-election platform of a group of junior legislators who feel vulnerable in what shapes up to be an anti-incumbent election year. It is an empty vessel to hold political aspirations.

Don’t believe it? When the campaigns heat up, ask the 2020 Caucus members, say Spot’s own senator, Geoff Michel, what specifically he proposes to do about the demographic freight train he professes to worry so much about. You can ask him about membership in a party that uses substantial Minnesota Care surpluses to plug holes in the general fund. You can ask him about opposing gas tax increases when it is obvious that we have a huge shortfall in transportation funding. Ask him if he really thinks we’re that stupid.


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Martial law declared!

Last night, in a stunning announcement, an ashen George W. Bush called out the National Guard to quell armed insurrection in the former Mexican territory of the southwest United States. Bush has the authority to federalize the various state Guard units and declare martial law to put down insurrection or civil unrest, and of course, to meet a possible invasion threat from the Mexican army.

Spotty, Bush didn’t declare martial law. Yes he did. No, he didn’t.

Well, it sure sounded like he did. Spot may be forgiven for his error. Bush did announce the serial call-up of six thousand Guard members at a time to, well, hang around on the border with Mexico. The prez told us it was not his intention to “militarize” the border. Well, the Guard can’t police the border either, for reasons that Spot will describe in a moment, so it’s doubtful that the Guard will be of much or any use, especially rotating in and out as quickly as Bush envisions.

Okay, boys and girls, who has ever heard of posse comitatus? Oh Spotty, that ‘s just a bunch of fat guys sitting in camo lawn chairs, wearing dark green clothes, and cleaning rifles while talking about black helicopters. Ah yes, grasshopper, but it is so much more:
The origins of “posse comitatus” are to be found in domestic law. Black's Law Dictionary defines the term “posse comitatus” as:

the power or force of the county. The entire population of a county above the age of fifteen, which a sheriff may summon to his assistance in certain cases as to aid him in keeping the peace, in pursuing and arresting felons, etc.

The Posse Comitatus Act, 18 U.S. Code, Section 1385, an original intent of which was to end the use of federal troops to police state elections in former Confederate states, proscribes the role of the Army and Air Force in executing civil laws and states:

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

This Reconstruction era law has proven to be a wise policy, and it’s why you don’t see tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles in the streets routinely the way you might in some banana republic. At least not yet.

There are exceptions to the Posse Comitatus Act for things like insurrection, civil unrest, or national disaster. But absent martial law being declared, the armed forces in the US do not have arrest, seizure, or detention authority.

Here’s your quiz to see what you have learned, boys and girls:

Bush’s action in calling up the Guard in these circumstances is 1) a political stunt, 2) a serious erosion of the barrier between the military and law enforcement, or 3) both.


Sunday, May 14, 2006

A work in progress

Dedicated, of course, to Captain Fishsticks and all the other acolytes of the Scot Presbyterian Calvinist Adam Smith.

Immortal, Invisible Hand only wise,
Be careful, however, it’ll poke out your eyes.
Its origin Scottish, a myth from the moors,
It mostly appeals to the pikers and the boors.

Unthinking, uncaring, and cold as a fish,
Nor gen’rous, nor sharing, a total
Its logic, all simple, its surface appeal,
Will make some scrubs think that it’s the real deal.

All laud they would render; O dear sweaty Hand,
E'en as You turn earth into No Man’s Land.
The Hand gives a
dope slap as it bids us goodbye,
Then gives us the Finger, and a poke in the eye.

Please also read Spot's other posts on the invisible hand, Invisible hand job, Invisible hand job II, and A Spotsian dialogue.

Tags: hearts

And the Spotty goes to

Donald Strei for this letter in the Sunday Star Tribune. A Spotty is awarded to someone who pens a letter to the editor, an opinion piece, a blog entry, or a comment to a blog entry that Spot wishes he had written. Strei’s letter is especially noteworthy in that it both criticizes a column of Katie’s and comments on the butchery of war.
A visitor's gratitude

Having visited the Body Worlds exhibit, I found that Katherine Kersten (May 11) and Linda Schulte-Sasse (May 12) missed some significant aspects of that unusual display. One is that the visiting crowd was hushed and respectful, a mood enhanced by the tasteful music in the multiple rooms. No giggles, no laughter was heard.

Another is that this display shows the incredible intricacies of bodies, helping one understand how fragile is existence, and how awesome are the tasks facing physicians who are expected to repair and heal most everyone's injuries and diseases.

One comes out of that exhibit with fresh gratitude to all the nurses, EMTs, doctors, police, firefighters, pharmacists and everyone whose career deals with these gruesome aspects of life. And it fills one with rage at those who dare to choose war and killing, to settle issues or to show control over others.


Spot has not seen Body Worlds. He doesn’t think he could get in, unless he tried to impersonate somebody’s helper dog. Even then, he is afraid he would be spotted. So to speak.

Friday, May 12, 2006

A Spotsian dialogue

In response to Spot’s recent post Invisible hand job II, a callow libertarian correspondent of Spot’s, a pleasant fellow really – which of course eliminates Captain Fishsticks – wrote to take issue with Spot. And as well with Kevin Phillips, the author quoted by Spot in the post. Spot doesn’t disclose the identity of private correspondents – unless they are abusive, and none has been so far – but he would like to have a dialogue based on Spot’s reader’s epistle.

There is some truth in what that guy writes.

That guy? Do you know who “that guy” is, grasshopper? He wrote the book, so to speak, that engineered the Republican and Nixon drive through the south in the late ‘60s. Phillips has been writing on politics and economics for nearly forty years.

There is so much government interference in the market--for and against market players—[I] would not be surprised if a certain degree of economic chaos happens in the short to medium term.

In a pure social Darwinist hunter gatherer world, of course, it would be everyone for himself. Until, that is, Og figured out that he and Ig and a few others could get together and actually kill a mastodon. And thus began the history of economic cooperation.

Grasshopper, your point seems to be that “economic chaos” occurs in the shorter term because of long term market interference. Does Spot have that right?

Of course, grasshopper, that’s just silly. And that’s not Phillips’ point, either.

Neither business nor the invisible hand is very good at thinking strategically. Spot invites both the grasshopper, and the rest of you, boys and girls, to read an earlier post of Spot’s directed to this very issue, Invisible Hand Job [I]. A taste:
The second thing the market mechanism isn’t very good at is gauging the public interest, particularly when we are talking about thinking strategically. A guy who came along after our Pollyanna [Adam] Smith was Thomas Malthus. Malthus was much less sanguine. He saw a world of over-population, resource shortage, and misery. Charles Darwin was influenced by Malthus. Malthus advocated big-time regulation of population, since he believed that population growth could always outstrip resources.

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

A fundamental error that the grasshopper makes is that all “market interference,” all thumb wrestling with the invisible hand, is evil. Sometimes, it is necessary for the survival of mankind. Global warming is an excellent example. Thinking that the invisible hand will do anything other than take a tight grip around mankind’s throat (perhaps two invisible hands will be necessary!) is fantasy.

Let Spot give you a simple example, grasshopper. If Spot tells one of his pups to quit buying and drinking so much Mountain Dew because it’s bad for him and his teeth, that’s market interference. And Spotty says that when we get together through the political process and tell energy producers to produces fewer emissions and less mercury, it’s no different. Well, maybe in degree, but not essential kind.

All the invisible hand concept points out is that the law of supply and demand brings order to the individual, decentralized activities of particular consumers and businesses. It’s a basic fact of reality--if the law of supply and demand is allowed to operate, which so much government regulation and redistributionism often prevents in the short and medium run.

“Order” as in marching four abreast in orderly rows off the cliff.

Spotty’s spell checker tells him that “redistributionism” is not a real word. Perhaps he should have bought the optional Libertarian Edition module for his word processor! Spot thinks he knows what the grasshopper means, though. It’s something essentially different from the concept of “eat what you kill,” one of the pillars of social Darwinist hunter gatherism. This quaint notion, like so much of our theology, comes to us from our ancestors, in this case Og and Ig’s grandpa. Spot has also addressed the delusion of man being self-made and independent in Sticks regards himself, the Sticks referring to Captain Fishsticks.

In the final analysis, the invisible hand is theology, not so much economic theory. Let’s all get together and sing Immortal, Invisible Hand Only Wise.

Tag: Adam Smith's

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Invisible hand job II

The more that Spot reads Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy, the smarter he (Phillips, not Spot) gets. Some of you will remember, boys and girls, that a few weeks ago Spot quoted Phillips on page 226 of his book about regarding the effects of a theocratic chokehold in a nation’s decline. Now, here’s a bit from pages 316 – 7. This is not the only thing Spot is reading, boys and girls, so save your caustic remarks about Spot’s reading speed.
The Invisible Eighteenth-Century Hand in American Twenty-First-Century Strategy

Adam Smith, the worthy eighteenth-century Scottish economist who inclined to the American side in the Revolutionary War and sympathized with colonial complaints about British mercantilism, commanded a very enthusiastic press in the United States through the last quarter of the twentieth century. Ties bearing his embroidered profile were said to have sold far better in Washington than in, say, London or Edinburgh.

For the twenty-first century, however, some diminution of worship may be expected. Smith's vaunted "invisible hand" - the inerrant guidance of the market - has become too fumble-fingered for a growing percentage of doubters, especially advocates of strategic thinking and the need to consider political, economic, and cultural externalities ignored by more than three decades of marketplace orthodoxy. As a side benefit of their great-power analyses, historians such as David Landes, Paul Kennedy, and Jonathan Israel have held forth at some length describing how Smith's market theory and blinders caused him to misjudge or ignore many political, military, competitive, or strategic factors that influenced the rise or decline of the Dutch and British global economies." Luckily, attention is also growing to the inadequacy of pure market theory in explaining developments in the United States.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett, a critic of the proliferation of financial services and speculations in the United States, also poked fun at Smith and his hallowed marketplace. Instead of finding the "invisible hand" in stratagems such as derivatives, he likened such instruments to an invisible foot kicking society in the shins.

Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy pp 316 – 7 (2006)

Of course, this is heretical to the Rt. Rev. Captain Fishsticks and the Church of Social Darwinist Hunter Gatherism. But if we’re really lucky, enough people may become heretics in time to head off international economic oblivion for the US.

The Great Pretender re-revealed

The Great Pretender reveals himself yet again! Senator Geoff Michel (R-41) has been talking all session (and last, too) about his bi-partisan efforts to get the Gophers a new on-campus football stadium. A bill passed the Minnesota Senate today to do just that. Michel voted lock-step with the rest of the Republicans in the body and voted NO. What you say? Why?

You see, the bill provided for financing different than Michel’s bill, which would have sold part of the University’s soul to TCF, the savings and loan reborn as a real bank. Here’s MPR’s description:
The Senate's bill would have the state pay nearly $13 million a year. That would come from a 13 percent sports memorabilia tax, which will be passed in a separate bill. It also requires that the stadium have the name Veteran's Memorial Stadium instead of a corporate moniker. Student fees couldn't be used toward construction. The House version would have the state chip in up to $9.4 million a year. It didn't specify where that money would come from. In addition, the state would gain access to 2,840 acres of university-owned property in Dakota County that is considered an environmental gem.

So, you have to ask yourselves, boys and girls, does Michel want the Gophers to play on-campus, or does he really only want TCF to get the glory?

Bi-partisan, indeed.

Spot's been trying

From Mother Goose and Grimm

Praying for transportation

The Star Tribune had an article this morning about a hold up in the Crosstown – 35W reconstruction project. It seems that potential bidders are leery about the deal. Spotty just cannot understand why. Here’s the plan:

Okay, we’ll let you build the highway, contractors, but you also have to loan us $96 million dollars over three years. We think we can come up with the rest of the $50 million we’re still short by nicking it from other projects. Not sure, you understand, but work with us here. The total project is $250 million or so, so we do have some money!

And this gives the potential bidders pause? What a bunch of pikers and scrubs! Rep. Ron Cassandra Erhardt has been predicting problems in transportation finance for a quite a long time. In a town hall meeting prior to the current session, he said (from a report of Spot’s about the meeting):

Here, the news was grim. Rep. Ron Erhardt, the chair of the Transportation Finance committee, and who got out of his sickbed with pneumonia to attend the session, brought a little chart. It showed a gap between the “performance-based needs” of transportation (apparently based on DOT forecasts) and funding that will be available of $24.1 billion dollars between 2008 and 2030. Money needed: $38.1 billion; money available: $14.5 billion. Spotty isn’t sure whether the money available includes the motor vehicle sales tax dedication that will occur if the referendum on the subject passes this fall. Regardless, the gap is a boatload of money.

[Rep. Neil] Peterson and Erhardt – but not [Sen. Geoff] Michel – support the idea of a gasoline tax increase to cover at least part of this gap. The governor’s idea is to borrow billions, rather than incur the wrath of Davey Strom & Co., and that seems to be Michel’s position as well. Michel denied that his vote against the gas tax increase last year had anything to do with the No New Taxes Ever, I Really Mean It, Cross My Heart and Hope to Die pledge he made when he was elected to the Senate, but Spotty thinks he doth protest too much.

We cannot bond our way out of our transportation problems without wrecking the state’s bond rating.
Erhardt and a couple of other Republicans (maybe Peterson was aboard, too, but Spot isn’t sure) and the House Democrats made another run at raising the gasoline tax this session, but it won’t go anywhere.

What do you bet that the month delay in the project announced by the DOT stretches into more?

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

Monday, May 08, 2006

Papal school plug

You know, Spot was thinking just the other day that it has been a while since Katie delivered a paean to the Papal schools. Spotty is sure that Katie has been distracted, what with taking in two or three showings of United 93 every day. But like the geyser, Katie spouts off today about the superiority of Catholic schools, even if she is a little late. (No, Katie is not pregnant, to the best of Spot’s knowledge, anyway.)

In a nutshell – God, that was the Freudian – Katie invites us to conclude that since students at a Catholic school in the Twin Cities can draw a world map, and since a recent National Geographic survey showed that nationally students weren’t very good at geography, that Catholic schools are clearly superior. You can real the whole column, but trust Spot, that was the Point of it. Caught in Katie’s logical vise; woe is us!

Of course, there is a huge difference between an anecdote and something that is statistically significant. Spotty hopes that public policy is made on the latter, not the former. For you fans of statistics, here’s a recent study that reports that Christian schools compare unfavorably to public schools. From the Department of Education, no less.

If you think your pup will do better with a big dose of bug-eyed control freakism, be Spot’s guest, but don’t expect Spot to help you pay for it.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Poor Katie!

Pity Katie - the Strib's own Katherine Kersten. First, on Thursday, when Katie was distracted by her homies who are on a shopping spree for public money to build malls and ballparks, Mona Charen gets a column on the movie "United 93." Not only that, it was a column that Katie would have loved to have written: full of righteousness and calls to solidarity in the face of our "enemy."

And now today, on Sunday, Debra J. Saunders gets into the "United 93" act. Lil' Debbie's column is not quite as bloodthirsty as Mona's - she doesn't recommend sacrificing children on the altar of hate the way Mona does - but still.

Poor Katie is left to write the wrap-up of this harpie trilogy. There are hardly any good empty cliches or wooden metaphors left!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A vain show

No Spot today, just his inner human, as the General might say. I have had something running through my head for a while now. It’s the opening baritone solo in the third movement of the Brahms Requiem. In English, it says:
Lord, make me to know the measure of my days on earth, to consider my frailty, that I must perish.

Surely all my days here are an handsbreath to Thee, and my lifetime, is as naught to Thee.

Verily, mankind walketh in a vain show, and their best state is vanity.

It’s from Psalm 34. And it’s about as sobering and humbling a scripture passage as you’ll find. The Psalmists tell us to remember the shortness of our lives and to consider that we spend it too often in vain and self-aggrandizing pursuits. I think author of the Psalm is also trying to warn us against over-reliance on our own capacity to know and to make sound judgments. To show a little humility, in other words.

I think that the United States is walking in a very great vain show right now, especially as it pertains to foreign policy. The country collectively thinks that the projection of military power around the world and achieving global hegemony is the best way to maintain “our way of life” and secure the resources, including especially the fossil fuels necessary to support that way of life. Besides, we know what’s best for everybody: democracy, purple fingers without democratic institutions.

Mona Charen wrote a column this week advising us to take our children to watch “United 93” so they can be properly indoctrinated by seeing “the face of the enemy.” Clifford May has a column (both are in the Star Tribune) wherein he says Islamo-fascist bullies are our problem; that they are intimidating the world. These two are hardly alone.

But nobody in charge around here seems to want to ask the question posed by nutty old Zacarias Moussaoui as he was dragged off in chains: Why do you suppose we hate you so? The answer we are supposed to accept is that the Islamists are just crazy and that there is nothing to be done except kill ‘em all. Kill ‘em all! Kill ‘em all! You can hear the cries echo in the streets.

Is it so believable to think that a large number of people just went off the deep end and set out to kill Westerners? If anyone is so bold as to question that explanation, he is branded as an “America hater.” Maybe, just maybe, it’s more nuanced than that. And questioning your country’s action is an act of love, not hate.

In the Brahms Requiem, the baritone (and the Psalm) continues:
Man passeth away like a shadow, he is disquieted in vain, and he heapeth up riches, and cannot tell who should gather them.

There has been a lot of disquietation and heaping up around here of late. The vain show of our political leaders should give us pause to reflect with a little more of the humility recommended by the Psalmist.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Worse than cockroaches

Mona Charen, Katie’s doppelgänger, writes in the Star Tribune today that we should all be sure to take the kiddies to see United 93. Spot has already written about the movie’s role in picking the scabs of 9/11. And Mona tells us not to miss it. Here’s how she wraps up the column:
I took my 12- and 10-year-old boys [the movie is rated "R"] to see "United 93." There is obviously some violence, but it is far from the kind that is offered for voyeuristic thrills in many Hollywood productions. Take your kids. They need to see the face of the enemy.

Yes, Mona, it is so very important to bring up children with a proper fear and loathing of certain ethnic and religious groups. We can’t sustain a proper prejudice and the warron terra without it.

Parents who teach their kids to fear and hate are worse than cockroaches.

"Complex martyr"

The Justice Department spent years and millions trying to execute Zacarias Moussaoui. The administration needed somebody to sacrifice as a scapegoat for 9/11, and the hapless, schizophrenic Moussaoui was the only candidate in inventory. The prosecution dragged scores of witnesses through the courtroom to tell their stories of loss, showed horrific picture after picture, and even led off its death penalty dog and pony show with the unctuous ring master Rudy Giuliani.

Remember, Moussaoui had plead guilty to conspiracy in the events of 9/11, even though his complicity was pretty much only in his own mind. The judge could have just sentenced him to life, and that would have been it. But, oh no, they had to put Moussaoui on trial in a Virginia district court with a “rocket docket” and a penchant for finding jurors who like the death penalty.

Dahlia Lithwick writes, very well as usual, about the outcome in the Moussaoui case in Complex Martyr. Here’s a little of what she said about the case:
In the end, the only real link between the acknowledged fact that Moussaoui was a terrorist who was willing to die in a suicide attack and the actual attacks of 9/11 existed in the minds of the prosecution. And, at the last minute, these links sprang to life in the fantasy world of the terrorist himself, who cooked up a strange Forrest Gump plot—starring himself and Richard Reid—that the judge herself considered to be hooey and that even the prosecutors didn't believe.

This case was about a conspiracy, about some factual connection, however attenuated, between Zacarias Moussaoui's jihadi heart and the events of 9/11. And although the government has steadfastly stood by its legal claim that it was enough for Moussaoui to have wanted to be on those planes on 9/11, enough for him to have delighted as those planes went down, the jurors recognized this afternoon that a conspiracy to aid in a terror plot requires more than just a bad heart, and more than mere willingness to participate in the next one.

This decision, which will doubtless bring with it some serious national fallout, is more subtle, and more courageous, than the prosecution itself. Acting as a check on a runaway state, these jurors refused to allow a government needing a scapegoat and a man wishing for martyrdom to stand in the way of the facts. These jurors understood that for this country to kill a terrorist for his ideas, hopes, and dreams is not much different than the terrorist's desire to come here and kill us for ours.

Yesterday was a good day for the American jury system. Spot can hardly wait for Katie, Mona Charen, Debra J. Saunders, or Clifford May to weigh in on the subject.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How many angels?

Here’s a question, boys and girls:
Can a Catholic university simultaneously dedicate itself to diversity and to church doctrine?

That’s the question posed by Beth Hawkins at City Pages in an excellent article about sexual politics at St. Thomas University. Spot’s answer is not bloody likely. St. Thomas is Exhibit A in the argument. The events described by Hawkins are a classic tragedy. We can all watch the protagonist – the university – on its path to ruination, the dénouement apparent to everyone but the protagonist itself.

Spot has written about Katherine Kersten’s full-throated, exultant cry over the new anti-shack up rules at St. Thomas in Shacking up Catholic. It started out as a routine morality police action. A lesbian choir director wanted to take her partner on a choir trip to France. Apparently, some of the choir members, perhaps including the little moral exemplar Amanda Kastelic, complained to the administration. The director was asked to leave her partner home; she refused, declined to go on the trip, and is no longer at St. Thomas.

Fast forward a few months. Now, an unmarried straight couple is planning to lead a student trip abroad. In fact, one of the partners was asked to join the other in a leadership role. Then, holy mackerel – or maybe Holy Mackeral in this case – the HR people figure out that if St. Thomas lets these two share a room, St. Thomas’ discrimination against the lesbians will be even more patently obvious!

What to do? What to do? Let’s be in prayer about it.

There has never been a policy about this before, and unmarried straight couples have shared room before, but we’d better quash it now, or we’ll be revealed for the medievalists we are. Okay, unmarried, romantically-involved couples cannot share a room. We can say that with a straight face, can’t we? And we’ll tell the straight couple, just on the down low, that although they’ll have to get separate rooms, we won’t have any bed checks. Wink, wink!

Well, the couple didn't buy the subterfuge. Quoting again from the City Pages article:
In the end, Lawton and Kennedy [the couple involved] withdrew from leading the trip. "Some of the faculty have said to us, 'Why make a big deal out of this, it's just a trip?' But it's not just a trip," says Kennedy. "The university is very public about avowing its commitment to diversity and clearly this was not in keeping with that public face.

"If the administration would create a policy that would affect unmarried people, what was next? The broader human rights issue is very important to us," she continues. "For us to go on our trip knowing that Ann Shrooten [the lesbian choir director] had not gone on hers, we couldn't countenance going on ours. There was no question. She and her partner were never given the option."

Lawton concurs. "If you don't want people like that, then say so in the hiring process. Don't put 'equal opportunity' on your statement," he says. "There are a couple of areas in which religious doctrine comes into conflict with the idea of diversity, and it's critical that the university come to grips with how it's going to be resolved."

Now of course, the morality sharks smell blood in the water. They went after a promising visiting professor in psychology. Why? She once worked as a counselor at Planned Parenthood. What looked like an appointment to a tenure-track professorship last fall turned into hunting for a new job this spring. So sorry it didn’t work out. We’re behind you 100%. Let us know if there is anything we can do.

The big losers here are St. Thomas students and the university itself. Good faculty – gay or straight – will be leery of St. Thomas when word gets around that the HR manual was written by Moses.

Tags: commits intellectual

A thump of the tail to reader Julie for pointing out the City Pages article.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

We have become

A nation of men, not laws. A nation where we are supposed to pledge fealty to the sovereign and its symbol, the flag. George Bush proclaims May 1st as Loyalty Day, an “American Love it or Leave It” day, when sugary patriotism is supposed to blot out the bitter taste of democracy in decline.

And democracy is in decline. It is reported that George Bush has issued hundreds of “signing statements” when signing legislation into law. This from an article by John Dean (yes, that John Dean) on Bush and signing statements:
As [author] Phillip Cooper observes, the President's signing statements are, in some instances, effectively rewriting the laws by reinterpreting how the law will be implemented. Notably, Cooper finds some of Bush's signing statements - and he has the benefit of judging them against his extensive knowledge of other President's signing statements -- "excessive, unhelpful, and needlessly confrontational."

In one recent case, the president issued a signing statement saying he
wasn’t bound by the Congrssional oversight rules in the reauthorized Patriot Act. Not bound. Can you believe that, boys and girls?

Spot and MNObserver were discussing Loyalty Day and the now buried Law Day at Drinking Liberally tonight. Law Day is promoted by that bunch of anarchists over at the American Bar Association. MNObserver has a post comparing Loyalty Day and Law Day that you really should read.

Tags: Spot wants a for his pledge

Sleep tight Johnny!

Here’s the concluding paragraph of Johnny Rocketseed’s recent hysterical scribble about war against Iran:
It seems to me that the case for military action against Iran, designed not just to set back its nuclear program but to change its form of government, is at least as strong as it was with regard to Iraq. But it appears equally clear that the American people have no appetite for the sort of conflict it would require to bring about regime change there. So, by default, we seem destined--at best--for a policy toward Iran substantially similar to the "box" strategy that was deemed insufficient when applied to Iraq. [italics are Spot’s]

Yeah, Johnny, the American people are such gutless wonders. Spot has to admit, your logic is ironclad. All one has to do is look at Iraq to see the undeniable advantage of bringing regime change to Iran, too! Of course, we could just nuke the place into an ash tray. They’ve only got, what,
68 million people? Of course, if we nuke ‘em, we might make their oil too radioactive to use, but that seems like an acceptable risk.

However, there a few things you may want to consider Johnny:

The invasion of Iraq has turned it into the major terrorist playground in the world.

The invasion of Iraq is driving the US to its knees financially.

Iran is a much tougher nut to crack that Iraq, which was supposed to be a “cakewalk,” but the last time Spot looked, it wasn’t.

Iran has promised retaliation if attacked. What a surprise. This is undoubtedly of some interest to our troops already in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The price of oil is already at record levels. Conflict with Iran would severely disrupt the oil market and would probably bring on a world wide depression. At a minimum, it would make that nice house of yours way out there in Apple Valley less valuable.

But lay this all aside, Johnny, and consider the following:
People are so afraid. Take the man, with no address, who wrote:

If you knew that a man posed a danger to you - maybe had a gun in his pocket, and you felt that he would not hesitate one moment to use on you – what would you do? We know Iraq poses a threat to us, to the rest of the world. Why do we sit here and pretend we are protected? That is exactly what happened with al-Qaeda and 9/11. With Iraq, though, the threat is on a much larger scale. Should we sit back, be little children that sit in fear and just wait?

I wrote back:

Please, for the sake of us all, get a shotgun, preferably a 12-gauge double-barrel, and right there in your own neighborhood blow off the heads of people, cops excepted, who may be armed.

Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country, 2005, pp. 108-9.

Spot wonders if Johnny Rocketseed wrote that letter to Kurt Vonnegut. Sounds a little like him, doesn’t it? Spotty says it is time to take all the little frightened Johnny Rocketseeds, feed them supper, and then put them to bed with a warm blanket and a night light.

Tags: Johnny Rocketseed at writes to