Thursday, May 31, 2007

Boy, that was fast!

In a story by former Stribber Tom Hamburger (now of the L.A. Times), printed in both the Strib and the Times today, some dots get connected about Tom Heffelfinger's departure—perhaps in advance of a firing—as US Attorney in Minnesota:

WASHINGTON — For more than 15 years, clean-cut, square-jawed Tom Heffelfinger was the embodiment of a tough Republican prosecutor. Named U.S. attorney for Minnesota in 1991, he won a series of high-profile white-collar crime and gun and explosives cases. By the time Heffelfinger resigned last year, his office had collected a string of awards and commendations from the Justice Department.

So it came as a surprise — and something of a mystery — when he turned up on a list of U.S. attorneys who had been targeted for firing.

Part of the reason, government documents and other evidence suggest, is that he tried to protect voting rights for Native Americans.

At a time when GOP activists wanted U.S. attorneys to concentrate on pursuing voter fraud cases, Heffelfinger's office was expressing deep concern about the effect of a state directive that could have the effect of discouraging Indians in Minnesota from casting ballots.

Citing requirements in a new state election law, Republican Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer directed that tribal ID cards could not be used for voter identification by Native Americans living off reservations. Heffelfinger and his staff feared that the ruling could result in discrimination against Indian voters. Many do not have driver's licenses or forms of identification other than the tribes' photo IDs.

You will remember, boys and girls, that Monica Goodling testified before the House Judiciary Committee that Heffelfinger might have been on the firing list for spending too much time on Indian stuff. Eric Black didn't buy it, and neither did Spot. But maybe Monica was being Freudian, she wanted to come up with some kind of half-plausible performance reason to terminate Heffelfinger, but she got closer to the real reason than she intended. It wasn't that Heffelfinger was spending too much time on Indian stuff; it was just the wrong stuff.

Hamburger's story is a good one, boys and girls, and Spotty tells you to read the whole thing at one of the links above. It is regrettable that it had to be written by an L.A. Times reporter. But what caught Spot's eye in the article, and the Wege's as well, was this:

After Heffelfinger resigned, his job went to a conservative Justice Department employee, Rachel Paulose. One of her first acts was to remove Lewis, who had written the 2004 e-mails to Washington expressing concern about American Indian voting rights.

Paulose noted Wednesday evening that those e-mails "were drafted ... when I was still in private practice. I was, and remain, unaware of their alleged existence."

Rachel Paulose has been extremely tight-lipped about the whole l'affaire Heffelfinger. But when confronted with the fact that she removed an assistant U.S. attorney [from responsibility for this issue, apparently, not the office itself], she has a canned—and frankly artificial sounding—statement all ready to go.

Maybe Hamburger touched a nerve, eh Spotty?

Spot thinks so, grasshopper. "Their alleged existence," Spot's hind end. Like Sgt. Schultz, she knows nothing, even now! That just isn't credible.

But why would she be eager to get out in front of this issue? If she is tied to efforts to stamp out pockets of resistance in the U.S Attorney's office to the GOP's voter suppression efforts, all the king's horses and all the king's men (nor Katie) will be able to put Rachel back together again.

That would be at best, odious partisan political interference in the work of the U.S. Attorney's office, at worst it is obstruction of justice.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Cowards, Quislings & Scrubs II

Alternate title: Give me the money with no strings or the soldier gets it.

About a week ago, Spot posted a link to a Keith Olberman "Special Comment" on YouTube about the passage of the Iraq Supplemental stripped of any deadlines, benchmarks, or any other even half-way enforceable measures to require the president to begin winding down the fiasco in Iraq. Olberman was, as you would suspect, boys and girls, distressed. And Spot concurs with his sentiments.

It occurs to Spot, however, that he should single out for mention—and appreciation—the two legislators in the entire Minnesota congressional delegation who voted against the final iteration of the bill: Betty McCollum and Keith Ellison. Jim Oberstar didn't vote, but Tim Walz, Colin Peterson, and Amy Klobuchar were Democrats who voted for the bill.

Walz said that he wanted to "support the troops." (Not that Spot is picking on Tim Walz; well, maybe he is because Walz has been so impressive to date.) But Glenn Greenwald (quoted) and Digby make it clear what hogwash that meme is. And the Democrats conceded the field.

There are all sorts of reasons which, though misguided, at least constitute coherent arguments against withdrawal. But the notion that de-funding constitutes a failure to support the troops -- in a way that, say, timetables do not -- is just inane, not even in the realm of basic rationality or coherence.

And yet exactly this nonsensical notion was permitted not only to take hold, but to become unchallengeable conventional wisdom in our public debate over the war. The whole debate we just had was centrally premised on an idea that is not merely unpersuasive, but factually false, just ridiculous on its face. That a blatant myth could be outcome-determinative in such an important debate is a depressingly commonplace indictment of our dysfunctional media and political institutions.

Digby calls the argument just one more in a long string of fatuous slogans used to support decision-making in our political life. And the thing is, Tim Walz is better positioned to make that argument than anybody else in the Minnesota congressional delegation. Based on what he has said and written before, he has to know what fatuous gas baggery it is. Where was Tim Walz the teacher to tell his constituents that he would force the president to begin winding down this awful, useless mess because that was the only way to really support the troops? The war can't be materially more popular in the 1st than anywhere else.

If, as MNPublius suggests, it was a matter of political calculation, it was a bad one. Tim Walz is a better congressman and teacher than that. Spot really hoped that Walz would use his military experience and his prominence in the freshman class to help bring this war to an end. Spot, for one, is very disappointed.

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Just on the odd chance

If for some reason any of you, boys and girls, haven't hasn't had enough Katie this week, Spot has a treat for you. Katie has followed up her warbling defense of Rachel Paulose, discussed by Spot here, with a radio interview by the always suave and urbane Davey Strom. You can actually hear the plaintive cry of the communis rixatrix by going to Minneapolis Confidential. Not only can you hear the effluent (that's the word Spot meant to use) praise of Paulose by Katie, while omitting the substantial criticisms of her chronicled by Spot and others, you can hear Katie say, in petulant tones, that she is rarely at a loss for words, but that the badgering of poor Rachel left her speechless!

She's right. Katie seldom lacks words: it's the stringing them together in an interesting fashion that often eludes her.

A big thump of the tail to Norwegianity for the link to others.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pat goes Wilde!

Pat drains the last of his scotch—a very expensive single malt of course—and rises slowly from the desk in his study. He walks into his bedroom, changes into his pajamas, and pads into the bathroom to brush his teeth. He pops a couple of Ambien when he is done brushing, along with some Maalox, and then returns to the bedroom to crawl into the bed that has been turned down by the housekeeper. Pat's wife is away visiting her family.

As he is drifting off, he thinks to himself, "Well, no spirits so far. It must have been that potato salad, after all. The whole episode was kinda funny, now that I think about it."

Deep in the night, Pat is half roused by a hand stroking his forehead. "What does that woman want now?" thinks Pat through the fog. Then he remembers that his wife is not there. Suddenly Pat is very awake.

"WHAT THE HELL!" exclaims Pat as he jumps out of bed. He looks over and can make out the form of a man, lying in the bed, dressed like, say, a nineteenth-century English gentleman, perhaps even a bit of a dandy. "Who are you?" demands Pat. "And what do you want? I'll have your arrested."

"You could try, I suppose," replies the gentlemen, with a definite brogue, "but it wouldn't do you any good."

"And why is that?"

"You see, I'm here, but then again, I'm not." The gentleman with the brogue is playing with Pat.

"We'll see about that." Pat picks up the telephone, but before he can dial, the man says, "I am the first spirit who is sent to you. Just as the spirit of Jerry Falwell foretold."

Pat slowly puts the telephone receiver back into the cradle. Now regarding the man with a mixed sense of curiosity and dread, he says, "That's impossible. Falwell's ghost was just indigestion."

"Ah, yes, but it was much more than that. It was a warning, an entreaty really, that you listen to me and to the two spirits who will follow me."

His voice shaking a little now, Pat asks, "What do you want?"

"Spirit of Jerry already told you that. I want to warn you so that you may change you ways. I was sent to talk to you about your hatred of homosexuals. You do hate them, don't you?"

"Oh, yes, with every fiber of my being do I hate them!" affirms Pat.


"Because my Jesus hates the gays!" thunders Pat.

"I don't recall Jesus saying anything about hating gays," replies the man.

"He must have," spits Pat, "and anyway there's plenty of gay-hatin' in the Old Testament. St. Paul was down on them, too."

"It says not to eat pork in the Old Testament, too. But you tucked into a couple of nice-looking pork chops for dinner. And shellfish. You love lobster, don't you, Pat?"

"Well, yes, but somehow that's different. And remember St. Paul."

"Sometimes the biggest homophobes are latent homosexuals, Pat. You undoubtedly know the rumors that the Apostle Paul was gay. Well, I can confirm them." The man smiles at Pat.

"You don't know that," Pat replies, his voice really shaking now. "You still haven't told me who you are."

"Oh, I do too know that. And for the record, I am, or rather I was, Oscar Wilde."

"He—you—was a homosexual!"

"Yes, I was gay, although I have often thought that a curious term, somehow inapt considering how society treats us so-called 'gays.' And I suffered for it, too, with two year's hard labor on conviction for 'gross indecency.' I never did figure out how I was harming anybody. There were a lot of Old Testament-type Christians in nineteenth century London, too. England seems to have mostly grown out of it, though. Alas, I was just a hundred years or so early."

"Is that why you were sent? So you could testify to me?"

"Partly. But also because I wrote a novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Do you know what it's about, Pat?"

"It's about a man who was able to make his portrait age instead of him. The portrait took the heat when he killed people and he debauched a young woman."

"That's right. Have you considered the parallels to your own life, Pat?"

"That's preposterous!"

"Really? What about your diamond mining adventure in Africa and paling around with the brutal Mobuto Sese Seko? No to mention ruining a young woman recently."

"Do you mean Monica Goodling?"

"Of course. She went to that pseudo-law school of yours and learned to ignore constitutional law to follow a 'higher power,' and look where it got her. Disgraced. You should be ashamed. And by the way, Pat, have you looked at the portrait of you that hangs in the hall recently?"

"Oh my God!" Pat races out of the bedroom and into the hall. He switches on the light and looks at the portrait of himself. What had been an extremely charitable rendering of Pat—for which he had paid a handsome sum—was now contorted and bilious.

Pat turns to Wilde, who has followed him into the hall, and bellows, "You did this! I'll kill you!"

Wilde replies, "Sorry, not possible. And you did this to yourself."

Pat lunges at the portrait and tries to scratch the paint off the canvas.

"I wouldn't do that, if I were you, Pat," says Wilde, "you remember what happened to Dorian Gray when he destroyed the picture of himself?"

Robertson emits a strangled cry and then sobs, "Yes. I remember. But what am I going to tell my wife?"

"I recommend the truth," says Wilde. Then, Oscar Wilde simply fades away.

The next thing Pat remembers is awakening in his bed, kicking and flailing his arms, with light streaming in the window, the bed covers tossed about, and his pajamas torn. He is sweating and breathing heavily. He gets out of bed and goes to his portrait in the hall. It's there and it looks just as it had the day it was painted, except for a series of deep and frantic finger-nail gouging. Pat sinks to his knees, weeping.

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Hypocrisy, thy name is Katie!

L.K. Hanson, the cartoonist at the Strib (Hanson also does Farley goes to the Fair), has a feature from time to time called You Don't Say. MNObserver, well, observed yesterday that Monday's You Don't Say went well with Katie's column of the same day. You know, boys and girls, the column about the Republican governor standing as a bulwark against the despotic Democratic masses?

Spotty pointed out that Katie had argued exactly the opposite point when it came to putting a gay marriage ban amendment on the ballot.

Anyway, here's Hanson's cartoon:

You can also make a much better case for restraining the democratic despots when the issue is protecting the civil rights of an unpopular minority than you can when the issue is a penny on the marginal pound of income taxation or collecting enough money to repair our transportation infrastructure.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Katie cuts another one

Doggone it! That post has to be in here somewhere.

What are you looking for, Spotty? Maybe we can help you find it.

It was a post about Katie taunting Democrats about not wanting the gay marriage ban amendment to be put to a vote of the public.

I remember it Spotty, it was when the Legislature was considering a bill to put the amendment on the ballot during the session before the one just concluded. So it must have been in the winter or spring of 2006. Let me look. Is this it: Two Trick Thursday:

Katie's first trick was her column in the Strib today taunting Democrats with what are you afraid of? Let us vote on the gay marriage ban amendment. The Democrats who have kept this bottled up are not afraid of anything, you twit; they are the most courageous people in the Legislature, as Lori Sturdevant (you know Lori, don't you Katie?) said in a recent column. Even Lori thinks you're trying to give the state a wedgie, in spite of your protestation to the contrary.

Boys and girls, did you know that Katie gave over $1,800 to George Bush and the Minnesota Republicans in the 2004 election cycle? Yup; just go to to check it out. Spotty says you have to take what a partisan hack like Katie says about wedge issues with a grain, nay a shaker, of salt. Actually, it is a good idea to take anything Katie says with a shaker of salt - and everything else that Jimmy Buffet says ought to go with it.

We don't vote on a gay marriage amendment, dear Katie, for the same reason we don't vote on racial discrimination or discrimination against, say, Catholics. It's the civil rights, stupid. One of the enduring, Spot hopes, and maybe the most prominent, features of the legal system in these United States is the enshrinement of equal protection under law. The principal genius of the Constitution is the promotion of democratic principles, in a republican form of government, with protections afforded to unpopular minorities against the prejudices of the majority, especially as fanned by whatever demagogue (think Katie here, boys and girls) that might come along.

The notion of equal protection evolves as we learn things, like the fact that homosexuality is something you are born with. Just like civil rights are things you are born with, not subject to Mother Katie Knows Best. Spot doesn't claim to understand homosexuality, but then he doesn't understand being black or a woman, either. But he's prepared to believe they are viable options.

Last week at pre-session meeting with constituents, Minnesota Senator Geoff Michel, a supporter of the gay marriage amendment ban, said he thought that Minnesotans were ready to accept civil unions for gays, but not marriage. But Michele Bachmann's bill last year – and which passed the Minnesota House - would ban civil unions, too.

That's the one Spot was looking for.

Spotty, that doesn't seem so out of character for Katie, trying to get a law on the ballot to vote for a gay marriage ban. Katie apparently thinks it's downright democratic.

Yes, but today Katie argues exactly the opposite point. Writing in favor of the action Governor NO's vetoes this past session, she writes with approval:

Turn back to the scene just after the Revolutionary War. The American people were not about to give significant power to state governors. They had just thrown off one king - with his often-hated colonial governors - and the last thing they wanted was another. Instead, they placed their trust in "the people." In the new nation, the law would be whatever 51 percent of the people's elected representatives decided it was.

But "the people" can be despots too, as Americans quickly discovered. State legislatures across the country began confiscating property, enacting wild paper money schemes and adopting various schemes to suspend the ordinary means for recovering debts. When the people exercise unchecked power, a new kind of tyranny is born. John Adams labeled it "democratic despotism." A popular assembly "under the bias of anger, malice or a thirst for revenge, will commit more excess than an arbitrary monarch," a frustrated legislator wrote in 1783.

What it comes down to is if Katie thinks that democratic power should be restrained on some issue (tax policy, for example), then by all means, restrain it! But when the shoe's on the other foot (gay marriage, for example), then submitting the issue to the popular will of the people must be inviolate.

The key is whether Katie thinks the public would go along with what she believes is the better alternative. How many of you think that's a good rule for employing democratic principles?

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Great Jerry's Ghost! - Update

The first spirit to appear in Pat Robertson's bedchamber is late, but he or she is coming. By drinking some scotch and downing a couple of Ambien and a fistfull of Maalox each evening, Pat has made himself almost forget about his visit from the spirit of Jerry Falwell. Too bad.

Rachel, we must talk!

[a clipped South Asian voice speaking with a British accent] Rachel? Rachel, where are you? I want to talk to you!

[walking into the room] Here I am Daddy. What's up?

I am in some ways disappointed with you! I want to ask you some things.

Okay, but before we begin, we have to establish some ground rules.

Ground rules? I am your father!

I know, I know. But there are some issues that are just off the table.


First of all, there will be no questioning the things I charged last month. Absolutely none. Your job is just to pay the bill.

You went shopping again? How many times?

I'm warning you, Daddy.

I was actually going to ask you about the $400 cell phone bill I just got.

Sorry Daddy. I won't be accepting questions about that, either.

I'm just supposed to pay that one, too?

Of course. Now what else do you want to talk about?

I noticed that there is a big scratch in the fender of the car and that the petrol is exhausted!

Oh, that. Well, we can't talk about that either.

[sputtering] Daughter, what will you talk about?

[batting her eyes innocently] We could talk about how I'm doing so well in school.

Arugh! I give up.

Bye, Daddy. It's been nice visiting with you.

Apparently Rachel had practice before telling the press that she would only field questions about a prostitution bust in her first presser.

In what may have been a first for a Minnesota public official soliciting media attendance at a press conference in a public building, US Attorney Rachel Paulose's staff announced prior to the start of her Monday press conference that Ms. Paulose would NOT be taking questions off the topic of her indictment of 25 people in a prostitution ring.

Say what? No other questions? Did we just move to Uzbekistan? Not even George W. Bush has been so clueless as to dare admonish the press corps to avoid questions he might find uncomfortable. (Of course until his approval ratings cratered the boys and girls on the White House bus were thoroughly self-admonishing.)

She must have known that the news people wanted to ask her about other things, boys and girls! But Rachel would have none of it, and she was like, rilly rilly mad, when KARE 11's Scott Goldberg and others asked her questions about other things, such as the politicizing and hollowing out of the integrity of the Justice Department.

From Goldberg's blog:

In case you also missed it, here is what Powerline blogger Scott Johnson, who says he attended the same press conference, had to say:

Most of the reporters at the press conference focused their questions on the indictment consistent with the ground rules of the press conference. Jean Hopfensperger's Star Tribune story on the indictment, for example, evidences her interest in the investigation and the substance of the horrendous crimes charged in the indictment. At the press conference Hopfensperger asked about the involvement of murdered St. Paul Police Officer Jerry Vick in the origin of the investigation.

There were two notable exceptions to the professional demeanor of most of the reporters in attendance. One of the two was KARE 11's Scott Goldberg, whose story evidences his other interests, if not his rudeness. I forget the other, but he too was a piece of work almost up to the Goldberg standard. Let's call him the Goldberg variation.

Yes, Scott, it really is a sad day when the press doesn't just lap up the milk it is given and then go away and write it up! This country is really going to hell in a hand basket, isn't it?

Spot would love it, if just for a week, we transplanted the British press to our shores to ask all the lords and ladies serving in this Republican administration some questions, and George Bush had to stand up in the House of Representatives for Question Period.

And what's the lawyer for a savings and loan doing at a press conference to announce a prostitution bust? Sounds kind of kinky to Spot.


Monica takes the waters

In her testimony, Monica Goodling took a cleansing immunity bath about the choice of persons as immigration judges:

Without any provocation, nor any prior public discussion about the matter, Monica Goodling in her prepared statement acknowledged that she "took political considerations into account in making recommendations for positions as Immigration Judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals." See discussion here. She testified that she thought such political criteria could be used because Kyle Sampson had told her that OLC "had provided guidance some years earlier indicating that Immigration Judge appointments were not subject to the civil service rules applicable to other career positions." Goodling further testified, however, that in late 2006 the Civil Division "expressed concerns that the civil service rules might apply" to such immigration judges. In her oral testimony, Goodling specified that "concerns were raised about political criteria for such employment decisions as a result of some litigation, after which "the Civil Division came to a different conclusion" from that allegedly reached by OLC.

Without any provocation? In other words, she brought it up on her own.

Why would she do that, Spotty?

Remember, grasshopper, that Ms. Goodling was offered immunity for her testimony. She laid the foundation for an objection to any later prosecution of her as the result of the immigration judge appointments. As Marty Lederman points out in the linked article, she was well represented.

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Only Women Bleed

St. Paul's date with destiny (if you define neverending breeding as destiny, which some people do) approaches and we have a preview of the event holds for us available over at Think Progress.

Describing birth control as "pesticides," Unruh attacked the recent FDA approval of Lybrel, a form of birth control that eliminates the monthly bleeding that comes with the use of more traditional birth control pills. Once again displaying the fact that it's not just abortion and emergency contraception they're out to criminalize, but birth control itself, Unruh can be heard on the tape screeching,"Big Pharma, here we go again, attack on children and families and on women. I want more babies! More babies! We love babies!"

Remember, Leslee Unruh's bringing her circus to St. Paul's Riverfront Crown Plaza July 9-11, so be there and pick up tips on how you can start your own Purity Ball and purchase your purity rings, tie clips, and lapel pins.

I'm almost certain that Leslee's partner in anti-sex legislation in South Dakota, Ted Klaudt has a stash of purity rings he'll be unloading at the conference. Cheap, too, I'd bet.

Doesn’t inflation spend money?

You know, boys and girls, that the governor doesn't want to take inflation into account in budget forecasting. Charlie's says it's a no-brainer.

Spot thinks Charlie is right.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hugs and Kisses Forever! Love, Monica!

Looking for all the world like a fugitive from a high school yearbook, Monica "Praise Jesus!" Goodling testified before the House Judiciary Committee, yesterday. It's been all over the blogs, of course, including Keith Ellison's questioning of Monica about Tom Heffelfinger. But there was one thing that hasn't gotten as much attention. That is Monica's dismissive attitude about the practice of caging to trim voter rolls of likely Democratic voters:

In her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee today, Monica Goodling — the Justice Department's former White House liaison — tried to dismiss the voter suppression allegations against [Tim] Griffin, a protege of Karl Rove, by calling caging just "a direct-mail term."

There is a video of Goodling's testimony on the subject at the link. Tim Griffin, incidentally, is now a US Attorney in Arkansas, a "Patriot Act" special, appointed without confirmation by the Senate. Here's what a commenter to the linked ThinkProgress post says about caging:

Actually, "caging" is a standard direct mail fundraising term, in widespread use for decades. I know this from working both in the direct mail business and Democratic campaigns. Its more recent use in reference to voter suppression is more recent.

The "cage" in "caging" refers to cash cages, the rooms in a casino that handle the counting and securing of cash, including selling chips for table games and handling the cash boxes from gaming machines.

In direct mail fundraising, the handling of responses, especially the money from those responses, is caging. It is a function that is often contracted out to enhance security and auditability — the contractor can invest in more stringent controls and surveillance as they are handling responses from any number of campaigns. As with other campaign service companies, they often specialize in either liberal or conservative organizations, but not always.

A "caging list" would originally have been a list of your party's contributors, organized by precinct. In other words, likely voters you want to make sure get to the polls, and vote unchallenged. The problem is that in recent years there have been charges (that seem to be well documented) that have twisted this to supress voting. A mailing is sent out to all the addresses in a precinct (often available in easy to use digital form from your local registrar of voters or a service firm), often for some legitimate fundraising. But a list is prepared of the address of each piece of mail that got bounced back as undeliverable. This list can be used to challenge the validity of voter registration, by asserting that the person does not live at that address.

The problem is, it can also mean that mail service to that area, say an inner city neighborhood, is crappy, or the mailbox was unreachable or unusable due to vandalism, etc. Problems that you don't see in the suburbs.

The Republicans have been doing this for years, in spite of a consent decree that supposedly prevents it:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today [October 31, 2006] sent a letter to Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman calling on the Republican leader to confirm that "the RNC will refrain from engaging in, assisting in or participating in any" program that could potentially disenfranchise voters in these midterm elections. The letter specifically calls on Mehlman to comply with both the letter and spirit of a "consent decree," which was entered into as a result of a lawsuit the DNC filed against the RNC over Republican so-called "ballot security" initiatives that targeted predominantly African American and Hispanic voters to keep them from exercising their fundamental right to vote.

This November it will have been 25 years since the RNC scheme was used in New Jersey by Republican operatives who compiled a list of 45,000 voters to challenge at the polls because mail to the address at which they were registered had been returned. RNC poll watchers tried to have those voters removed from the rolls, and Republican operatives employed off-duty county sheriffs and local police to watch polling places in predominantly African-American and Latino precincts where they had posted signs warning minority voters that it was a crime to violate election laws.

Spot has some suspicion that caging has been occurring on Minnesota's Indian reservations. (Although it is less important in Minnesota with the same-day registration system we have. Coupled with picture ID requirements, however, the effect could be greater in the future.) He hopes to have a chance to investigate that more. Tom Heffelfinger has been pretty straight with the Indian community, and it may explain why, in part, that Goodling cited his Indian efforts as a reason for desiring Heffelfinger's departure from the ranks of US Attorneys.

Update: Jack Balkin at Balkinization also just put up a post about this. Spot didn't know about it, honest.

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Cowards, Quislings & Scrubs

Keith Olbermann sums it up pretty well:

If you prefer your scorn in written form, Spot recommends Chris Floyd's It's Alright Ma, They're Only Bleeding: Dems Sellout, Slaughter Goes On.


The Red Herring

Spot mentioned the Monica Goodling testimony in his post about Katie's paean to Rachel Paulose (it's the next post, just scroll down, Spot's not going to link to it), and he linked to Eric Black's Strib article about the Goodling appearance before the House Judiciary Committee.

Among the things that Eric reported was that Goodling said that Tom Heffelfinger was considered for firing because he spent too much time on Indian stuff. Spot thought that was pretty stupid, and was going to say something about it, but EB beat him to it this morning at The Big Question:

The trouble is, the story [Monica told in the hearing] and the quote both act like now we know what Heffelfinger's name was doing on those let's-fire-these-guys lists. [emphasis in the original]

People, people, please. Goodling may know the real reason, or she may not. But that ain't it.

At the risk of sounding like someone from planet Earth, suppose you are in charge of federal law enforcement in America. And suppose you have an experienced, loyal Republican (did you know Heffelfinger was appointed U.S. attorney by both Presidents Bush), highly-regarded prosecutor, who has never received a negative job evaluation. And suppose this prosecutor is in a state that has several Indian reservations and is the chairman of the U.S. attorney group that deals with Native American issues. And suppose, just suppose, you've decided he is spending too much time on Native American issues. (Heffelfinger thinks that's drivel and it does sound drivelish, but just suppose that you do think it.)

Do you call the guy up and suggest that he reconsider how he's budgeting his time? Do you just immediately put his name on a list of guys to fire? Or is it possible, just possible is all I ask you to consider, that we still don't know the real reason Heffelfinger's name was on those lists?

Yeah, it does sound fishy, doesn't it Spotty? Mr. Black sounds pretty scornful. But what we want to know, Spot, is why Mr. Black beat you to a comment.

Because he posted at 1:03 AM today. Spot was sleeping the sleep of the righteous at that time.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Ye will be known

By the company you keep. Nobody is faster than Katie to honor the bromide. Usually.

Thursday (tomorrow; Spot's a little ahead of himself), we get a long tract on the virtues of Rachel Paulose, the sitting—or perhaps ducking—United States Attorney in Minnesota. Oh, she's so smart and so hardworking. But the fact remains that her appointment was based at least "partly" on political considerations:

Rachel Paulose was appointed interim U.S. attorney for Minnesota last year partly because she had more conservative Republican credentials than another candidate, former Justice Department official Monica Goodling testified Wednesday.

Asked by Rep. Keith Ellison if the other candidate was passed over because she was a Democrat, Goodling replied, "I heard she was a liberal. I think it was a factor in some ways, but it wasn't the overarching factor."

In the short but intense exchange with Ellison, D-Minn., at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, Goodling also became the first Justice Department official to acknowledge hearing complaints about the performance of Paulose's predecessor, Thomas Heffelfinger. She said she had heard that Heffelfinger had spent an "extraordinary" amount of time on his work as chairman of the subcommittee of U.S. attorneys that deals with American Indian issues.

Goodling also said this, according to the Eric Black byline article:

She acknowledged that, in some instances, she "crossed the line" by allowing political considerations to play a role in filling civil service positions at the Justice Department in violation of regulations that require a non-political process. But she implied that such cases were few and that the violations were unintentional.

United States Attorney is not a civil service position, but if politics played a role in civil service appointments, how big do you suppose that role was for the USA jobs?

It is almost as if Katie knew what Goodling was going to say and wanted to offer her rebuttal. Katie says that Paulose comes in for criticism because:

She's young, female, a "person of color" and an immigrant. (Her grandfather came here from India with $7 in his pocket in the 1960s, she has said, and the rest of the family followed.) If she were a political liberal -- as such people are expected to be -- she would be the toast of the town. But she's not. In some folks' view, such renegades must be run out of the public arena quickly before other minority folks get similar uppity, independent ideas.

Second, she's an evangelical Christian. "This image of her as a kind of Jesus freak is just bizarre," says Kendall. "I've read things [about this] I find hard to believe. The descriptions of her aggressive religiosity just couldn't be farther from the person I knew."

The first of these two paragraphs could have been written by C.J. In fact, it was written by C.J. Katie championing the plight of young, female, minority immigrants. Hmmm, what's wrong with this picture?

The second paragraph is just Katie's Christian-persecution complex. That's more like it Katie.

Rachel Paulose has not gotten raves from the people who actually work in the office, nor the previous holder of that office. Getting the job through her pal Monica "I'll take the Fifth" Goodling is a blot on Paulose's escutcheon that she has done nothing since taking the office to remove.

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Twenty cents on the dollar

A brown-haired man does a loose-jointed shamble down the sidewalk. He has a rather vacant stare, and he hum-whistles something tunelessly. It sounds vaguely like Onward, Christian Soldiers. The man is brought up short when he spies a dollar bill lying on the sidewalk. He looks at the dollar for a moment, blinks, apparently thinking, and then bends down to retrieve his treasure.

"Hold it," says a man sitting on a bench next to the sidewalk. "Before you can pick up that dollar, you have to put twenty cents in its place."

"You mean I have to spend twenty cents to make a dollar?" quizzes our pedestrian friend.

"That's right," comes the reply.

"No way, man! That's just stupid. Do I look like a rube to you?" asks the first man. He straightens up and strides off indignantly.

This man is our governor, Tim Pawlenty. This is what he did when he vetoed the gas tax increase passed by the legislature.

Only multiply the dollar by one hundred and sixty million. Annually.

The data in this post comes from someone knowledgeable about transportation finance in the state of Minnesota and the US.

Presently, 24.5% of Minnesota's 20-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax is used to get matching federal funds. Currently, this amounts to about 134 million dollars a year, for a match of four times that, or 536 million, approximately.

So, if we raised the gas tax by just a nickel, boys and girls, assuming the demand would remain steady (which regrettably it probably would), and we dedicated it all to projects for which federal matching funds were available, how much would that be?

Okay, Spotty, I'm going to say forty million dollars.

Show your work, grasshopper.

You start by working backward to see what one hundred percent of the gas tax collections equals, and then find 25% percent of that, since that's the amount of the gas tax increase.

That's a remarkably round number, grasshopper, but we'll use it. Using the 80/20 formula for matching funds, that's 160 million dollars annually that might be available in federal matching funds.

Why don't we use some of the rest of the existing gas tax revenue instead?

I suppose we could, grasshopper, but it would beggar state and county projects, and those roads need work, too.

How do you know the state would actually get the money from the feds?

Well, there's no guarantee, but remember that Minnesota's Jim Oberstar is now chairman of the cookie jar. In fact, Oberstar visited the Minnesota Legislature last January and laid out essentially the facts recited above. Spot guesses that the governor was out campaigning for John McCain that day.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Spot's a grasshopper!

For most of tomorrow, anyway. Go read Balkinization, boys and girls, Spot's new favorite law blog.

Reading trend lines

Spotty got this graph from Informed Comment.

Boys and girls, what can we conclude from this graph?

That things have been getting steadily worse in Iraq, essentially from the get-go?

Very good grasshopper. If we were to draw a single line representing the number of attacks, what would it look like?

An ascending line from left to right, showing an increase in attacks over time.

Right again. One last question. Based on your reading of this graph, all the administration people who have been saying that the war in Iraq was getting better these last four years are what?

Delusional or liars.



Monday, May 21, 2007

What is the key to long life?

Today, Katie tells us about a very old person:

John Dahlheimer shook his head when he first saw his newborn daughter Catherine. "That scrawny baby will never make it," he prophesied.

The year was 1894. Today, his daughter -- Catherine Hagel of New Hope -- is 112 years old: the seventh oldest person in the United States, and 14th oldest in the world as of last week, according to the Los Angeles Gerontology Research Group. She has lived in three centuries.

Congratulation to Catherine Hagel. (Really)

But Katie cannot resist turning every column into a Moral Story. That's why she is such a communis rixatrix. The moral is right at the end, there, boys and girls, do you see it? It's the part about attributing the causes for Catherine Hagel's remarkably long life:

What's the secret of Hagel's long and fruitful life? She credits hard work -- a surprising prescription for an era like ours when we increasingly make comfort our goal. But she also took a quiet hour each day to immerse herself in the newspaper and enjoy her favorite section, the funny pages and "Little Orphan Annie."

Finally, Hagel credits her religious faith. As I prepared to leave the nursing home after our interview, she sat with her daughter and granddaughter and together they prayed the guardian angel prayer she had learned as a girl: "Ever this day, be at my side - to light, to guard, to rule and guide."

Let that be a lesson to all of you layabouts out there! Unless you spend decades ankle-deep in cow and pig manure like our farm-wife Catherine, in addition to not amounting to much, you'll probably die young.

Of course, we can't forget the invigorating tonic of religious faith.

Say, that raises a question. How old was that godly man Jerry Falwell when he shuffled off this mortal coil, when he pulled a "dead whale on the beach?"

Seventy-three. Three score and ten and three, as old Jer' might say. Not that old these days. What does that mean, boys and girls?

It calls into question the real value of religious faith in long life, or maybe whether Jerry Falwell was actually as religious as he claimed. One or the other.

Very good, grasshopper.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Great Jerry’s Ghost!

[Scene: Pat Robertson's opulent study. Time: the present, late one night]

Paaaaaaaaat! Paaaaaaaaat! Are yooooooooooou thereeee?

What? Hello? Is somebody there? Jesus Christ that's spooky.

Noooooooo. It's not Jeeeeeeeeeesus. It's meeeeeeeeeee, Jerreeeeeeeeee. Jereeeeeee Faaaaaaaaaalwell.

Jerry Falwell? You're, I mean he, is dead!

Some believeeeeeeeeeeeer you are! I'm Faaaaaaaaaaaalwell all right. Look over here!

[Robertson turns to see the ephemeral figure of Jerry Falwell, dressed in a coarse brown robe. He is dirty, sooty even, and disheveled. There is a rope tied around his waist like a belt, and one end of the rope is looped into a hangman's noose around Falwell's neck. There is the smell of brimstone in the air.]

Jesus, Falwell, you look terrible! What do you want with me?

I haaaaaaaaaaaaave cooooooooooome to waaaaaaaaaaarnnnnnnnnn yoooooooooou!

Warn me? Come on; I've read Charles Dickens. Get out of here, you fraud! [With that, Roberson picks up a leaded-crystal paperweight and hurls it at the Falwell figure. It catches him square in the chest but passes right through, striking the wall and shattering.]

Niiiiiiiiice shot. Doooooooooo yoooooooooou believe meeeeeeeeeee nowwwwwwwwwww?

It must be some kind of trick. Or maybe the potato salad I had for a late night snack was bad.

Oooooooooooooh, that potatooooooo saaaaaaaaaalad was naaaaaaaaaaasty, all right, but I'm reeeeeeeeeeal, as reeeeeeeeeeal as any ghost can be.

[a little uncertain now] Okay, but what do you want to warn me about?

I waaaaaaaaaaaant yoooooooooou tooooooooo repennnnnnnnnnnnnnt.

From what? A little gluttony? Compared to you, I'm Adonis, for chrissake!


What so funny?

You're as bliiiiiiiiiiiiind as I was.

God has given me great vision.

Noooooooooo, Pat; you gave you great vision.

I must say your diction is getting better.

Thank youuuuuuuuuuuuuu. But don't change the subject. D'you see this rope around my neck? It is the braid of bigotry. I have been weaving it all my life. And now I must wear this coil, this noose, of my own making. It is my eternal punishment. And I have seen the one you have been weaving, Pat, and it is already longer and thicker than mine.



What can I do, Spirit Jerry, to avoid your fate?

Listen up, Pat. In coming days, you will be visited by three ghosts or spirits, or perhaps even persons. I'm not sure who has been lined up for you yet. But listen to them and ye may yet avoid my fate.

And if I don't?


I understand.

I'm not sure that you do, but heed them well. Goodbye, old friend. If you're lucky, we won't meet again. [the ghost vaporizes]

[Robertson sits quietly for a moment, trembling. Then he brightens.]

I gotta tell the housekeeper to get rid of that potato salad. I need a scotch!

[Pat will get his visitors in coming days.]

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Contractor deaths soar

WASHINGTON, May 18 — Casualties among private contractors in Iraq have soared to record levels this year, setting a pace that seems certain to turn 2007 into the bloodiest year yet for the civilians who work alongside the American military in the war zone, according to new government numbers.

At least 146 contract workers were killed in Iraq in the first three months of the year, by far the highest number for any quarter since the war began in March 2003, according to the Labor Department, which processes death and injury claims for those working as United States government contractors in Iraq. [italics are Spot's]

That brings the total number of contractors killed in Iraq to at least 917, along with more than 12,000 wounded in battle or injured on the job, according to government figures and dozens of interviews.

The numbers, which have not been previously reported, disclose the extent to which contractors — Americans, Iraqis and workers from more than three dozen other countries — are largely hidden casualties of the war, and now are facing increased risks alongside American soldiers and marines as President Bush's plan to increase troop levels in Baghdad takes hold.

From the New York Times today.

Spot raised this issue before when the casualty numbers were much lower. In a comment to that post, Spot's friend Dave assured us that being a contractor was really safe, a piece of cake really:

Well at least you called it an assumption and admitted what you don't know [when Spot surmised that there were many times more injured than killed], Spot. That's progress. In reality, 90 percent of contractors over here never leave the safety of the coalition bases. In Army terms, they never leave the wire. I don't have any figures to back me up, but I'll bet you are safer on a US base in Iraq than in the slums of any major US city.

Spot should have taken Dave's bet. And look who was doing the assuming.

The dead contractors don't come home with an honor guard.


Friday, May 18, 2007

Spot uses the "I" word

Actually, it's not Spot, but rather Professor Jonathan Turley talking to Keith Olberman.

Turley says that approval of the NSA warrantless wiretap program by George Bush over the objection of senior Justice Department officials was criminal, and therefore impeachable.

A thump of the tail to Diane at Great Scat.

And on the third day

Jerry Falwell is still dead.


You wonder if Bob had anything to do with it?


Yes, grasshopper: Professor Robert Delahunty of the St. Thomas Law School here in our fair city. Spot doesn't have a link at the moment, but he recalls that Professor Bob was going to teach a course in legal ethics at the University of Minnesota Law School this spring semester, too. Sigh.

What's "it?"

"It" grasshopper, was the initial approval of the NSA's warrantless wiretap program that ran unimpeded before a new guy at the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, Jack Goldsmith, raised questions about it and told Attorney General Ashcroft not to recertify the program. Deputy Attorney General Comey wouldn't certify it when Ashcroft was in the hospital, and neither would Ashcroft from his hospital bed:

The must-derided John Ashcroft, on the other hand, showed himself when it counted to be a man of courage and substance whom history will surely treat more kindly than did contemporary commentary. Few attorneys general get tested as Ashcroft did that night in 2004. One can disagree with him about a lot of things and still recognize the fact that ultimately, he passed the hardest test: From a hospital bed in intensive care, he stood up for the rule of law. More broadly, the Justice Department seems to have performed admirably across the board--from the OLC having taken its job seriously, to the willingness on the part of the department brass and Mueller to lose their jobs to defend the department's ability to determine the law for the executive branch. Had the story ended with Comey's victory, it would have been an ugly crisis with a happy ending. [italics are Spot's]

Spot has to grudgingly agree with Marty Lederman's quoted language from Balkinzation. The president, as Spot as mentioned in an earlier post, reauthorized the program anyway.

Golly, Spot, who approved this NSA program in the first place?

It was John "Organ Failure" Yoo who was in charge of the OLC at the time. This John Yoo:

Well, fortunately for us we have this recent interview conducted by Frontline, in which John paints a fairly clear picture about the sorts of programs that he authorized (including data mining that was prohibited by Congress), and the legal justifications, based on Article II, that were the underpinnings of the authorization. It's consistent with the story he tells in his recent book. The authorization was likely to be remarkably indiscriminate, and it was based on a theory that the Commander in Chief can disregard any laws that he thinks get in the way of how best to defeat the enemy: "There's a law greater than FISA, which is the Constitution . . . ."

This is Professor Organ Failure's elucidation of his "unitary executive theory" which says that under Article II of the Constitution the president can do anything he wants so long as it is in pursuit of "national security" objectives. This is a Nixonian idea. The president decides what is a national security objective, naturally.

Well great, Spotty, but what does this have to do with Robert Delahunty?

Oh, thank you grasshopper. Spot got a little carried away and almost forgot!

In addition to approving the NSA warrantless wiretap program, when John Yoo was at OLC at DOJ, he authored a memo, referring in part to the same constitutional authority, and approving coercive interrogation tactics of detainees, saying that it wasn't torture if the procedure didn't result in "organ failure" or death.

So that's why you call him Professor Organ Failure! You still haven't told us what that has to do with Robert Delahunty.

If you had read the first link in this post, grasshopper, you would know that Robert Delahunty co-authored the torture memo and was at the OLC with John Yoo at the time the NSA warrantless wiretap program was initially approved by the OLC. Spot hasn't seen any reports of Delahunty's involvement in the NSA program, but you can about bet he had a role.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Ding, Dong, the Witz has Fled

That's the shameless ripoff of a post title from Informed Comment today by Professor Juan Cole. It's about, of course, Paul Wolfowitz's impending departure from the World Bank. There were lots of articles and blog posts about the Wolfowitz "resignation," but none with a title that good.

Professor Cole also picked up a bit from the recent Bush – Blair news conference. When asked whether he (Bush) was the cause of the end of Blair's premiership, Bush in an act of unprecedented candor said:

I could be.

Of course, they same could be said for the loss of the Senate and the House of Representatives by the Republicans last November.

Busy day tomorrow, boys and girls. Spot will post if and when he can.

If it's Thursday, this must be Kersten

Spotty's busy burying bones in the backyard, and he gave me the go-ahead to provide today's analysis into the latest from Katie Kersten.

It's a column that tries to pretty much say that because we don't want people to die from inhaling second hand smoke, abortions are bad. Or divorce is bad. Or pornography is a public health threat. Or something like that. All I can say is that the logic of the thing resembled a Pee Wee Herman monologue. ("If you like abortion so much, why don't you marry it?")

But Fecke seems to have captured the essence in a post entitled Katherine Kersten Strongly Against Abortion in Public Restaurants. Go read it.

Tags: abhors

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

He was pushed!

McClatchy, yes @#$%^&* McClatchy, has the story tonight, in what Josh Marshall calls a "buried lede."

Is this the buried lede of all buried ledes?

Deep down in the second to last paragraph of the new McClatchy Attorney Purge story out tonight reads ...

A U.S. attorney in Minnesota, who disagreed with the Justice Department on a case involving voting rolls, was asked to resign early last year.

Minnesota only has one US Attorney district, the one based in Minneapolis. So this must refer to Thomas Heffelfinger, the former Minneapolis US Attorney who resigned last year to be replaced by the notorious martinet Rachel Paulose.

It's been long suspected that Heffelfinger might have been shoved aside to make room for Paulose. And we've known for almost a month that Heffelinger did show up on the DOJ firing list not long before his departure. But I was not aware that we had had clear and specific evidence that he was fired or, as they say, asked to resign. And as hard as it might be to believe his desire to move on to other challenges was just a big coincidence he did go on Minnesota public radio at the end of the last month and very definitively say that he hadn't been pushed out.

But McClatchy is saying -- and even rather offhandedly -- that he was told to resign and that he was pushed because he wouldn't go along with the voter roll purges that the Department of Justice was pushing in swing states around the country. If I'd had to guess what happened. Something like that would be my top guess. But who found this out? And why is the first we hear of it so deep down in this article about two other US Attorneys?

Spotty has said it before, Tom, being disposed of by this outfit is no blot on your escutcheon; it's a badge of honor.

Update: In an update this AM, TMP TPM reports that McClatchy meant "Missouri" not "Minnesota." Oops. Spot believes that someday this is how the story will be written, however.

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The Rule of Law II

You're kinda big on this rule of law stuff, aren't you, Spotty?

Yes grasshopper, Spot is. You may remember he wrote a week ago about a playwright's version of Sir Thomas More's defense of the rule of law. At the time, Spot was discussing the partisanship that had not merely crept, but galloped, in to the selection of personnel at the Department of Justice.

Now with the recent testimony of the former Deputy Attorney General James Comey before the Senate Judiciary Committee, we have another very specific example of the lawlessness of the Bush administration, and in particular the man currently sitting as Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales.

Comey tells the story of Andrew Card and Gonzales' effort to get the—controversial to put it mildly—warrantless wiretap program reauthorized over Comey's objection. Comey was at the time Acting Attorney General when John Ashcroft was seriously ill. Here's what Marty Lederman at Balkinization says about it:

Former Deputy Attorney General James Comey just completed his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Much of the testimony concerned the incident on March 11, 2004, when Comey, AG Ashcroft and AAG Jack Goldsmith (OLC) refused to sign off on the legality of the NSA "terrorist surveillance" program.

Unfortunately, I missed the first half of the testimony. CSPAN did not cover it, and I'm told that committee webcasts are not recorded! (which seems remarkably short-sighted). But Paul Kiel's very helpful summary is here, and I now have a transcript of the testimony. READ IT. It's just about the most dramatic testimony I can recall in a congressional committee since John Dean. [italics are Spot's]

If that isn't enough to make the hair on the back of your neck, or maybe on your whole back if you're like Spot, stand up, consider another post at Balkinization, this time by the eponymous Jack Balkin titled Nixon's Ghost. A few snippets:

First from a David Frost interview of Richard Nixon:

Mr. David Frost: So what in a sense you're saying is that there are certain situations . . . where the President can decide that it's in the best interests of the nation or something, and do something illegal.

Mr. Nixon: Well, when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal.

Mr. Frost: By definition.

Mr. Nixon: Exactly. If the President, for example, approves something, approves an action because of national security, or, in this case, because of a threat to internal peace and order, of significant magnitude, then the President's decision in that instance is one that enables those who carry it out to carry it out without violating a law. Otherwise they're in an impossible position. [italics are Spot's]

And now from the Comey testimony:

SPECTER: OK. Well, now I understand why you didn't say [continuing the NSA program without Justice Department reauthorization] was illegal. What I don't understand is why you now won't say it was legal.

COMEY: Well, I suppose there's an argument -- as I said, I'm not a presidential scholar -- that because the head of the executive branch determined that it was appropriate to do, that that meant for purposes of those in the executive branch it was legal. I disagreed with that conclusion. Our legal analysis was that we couldn't find an adequate legal basis for aspects of this matter. And for that reason, I couldn't certify it to its legality.

George Bush did reauthorize the program without the DOJ certification, according to Dahlia Lithwick at Slate:

Next day, crisis averted. Comey and Mueller each met one-on-one with the president and persuaded him to "do the right thing, and put the program on a footing that we could certify its legality," Comey says. We don't learn exactly how long the program went on operating illegally while the Justice Department made its fixes, but it was around three weeks. We really know only that the president was quite willing to forge ahead with an illegal program.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., is so aggrieved by Comey's revelations that he looks like he might cry. He frets that Schumer took too much time questioning the witness and then grouses that his Republican colleagues haven't shown up, leaving him alone (and "lonely") with seven (grinning) Democrats.

Specter does get Comey to admit that the president ultimately did the right thing by modifying the program. Also that nobody overtly threatened Comey. Or maimed him. But Comey gets one more chance to launch his main zinger: "They went ahead and reauthorized the program without my signature." And that's about all he needs to say. The White House went ahead and reauthorized a controversial, presidential-power-grabbing program deemed illegal by the Justice Department, after trying to extract permission from a critically sick John Ashcroft who didn't quite know what day it was.

Every time we have elected a Republican administration since Dwight Eisenhower, it has proven its disrespect for the rule of law: Watergate, Iran Contra (the Boland Amendment), and now this. Spot was just a pup during the Eisenhower administration. Every Republican president in Spot's long adult life has been a crook who put constitutional government at risk.

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You can’t make this stuff up

Spot had no idea there was such a rift between Jerry Falwell and Fred "God hates fags" Phelps. But MEC at Mercury Rising says there is in a post titled Proof that 'Clueless' and 'Evil' are not Mutually Exclusive. Apparently Pastor Fred thinks that Falwell was way too inclusive in distributing God's love.

MEC relays Dan Savage' post in SLOG, which in turn links to the Westboro Baptist Church "press release" on Falwell's death. Here's a more from the horse's, er, mouth:

WBC will preach at the memorial service of the corpulent false prophet Jerry Falwell, who spent his entire life prophesying lies and false doctrines like "God loves everyone".

There is little doubt that Falwell split Hell wide open the instant he died. The evidence is compelling, overwhelming, and irrefragable. To wit:

1. Falwell was a true Calvinistic Baptist when he was a young preacher in Springfield, Missouri, and sold his soul to Free-Willism (Arminianism) for lucre.

2. Falwell bitterly and viciously attacked WBC because of WBC's faithful Bible preaching -- thereby committing the unpardonable sin -- otherwise known as the sin against the Holy Ghost.

3. Falwell warmly praised Christ-rejecting Jews, pedophile-condoning Catholics, money-grubbing compromisers, practicing fags like Mel White, and backsliders like Billy Graham and Robert Schuler, etc. All for lucre -- making him guilty of their sins.

Falwell is in Hell, Praise God!!

Perhaps he has heard someone call Jerry Falwell too liberal before, but Spot can't remember when.

In his travels through the South, Spot has been struck by the fact that you will see a clutch of little churches in a small town, often close together, and they will each be a Southern Baptist church. Apparently, some of them are adherents to Free-Willism, some are not, and perhaps some even like Billy Graham!

Anyway, Pastor Fred may get his shot at martyrdom if he shows up.

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Michel and Demmer

How are they alike, boys and girls?

Well, Spotty, maybe they both . . .

Careful, grasshopper.

It has to do with the gas tax bill, doesn't it Spotty?

That's right. They were both, in the regrettable words of John Kerry, for a gas tax increase before they were against it.

In Demmer's case, he was the author of a gax tax increase bill just this session, but voted against the bill just passed.

Sen. Geoff Michel was roundly criticized in the district for opposing a gas tax increase in prior sessions. Michel had a particularly tough time in a town hall meeting when citizens compared his record—unfavorably—on this issue to that of Reps. Neil Peterson and Mr. Transportation, Ron Erhardt. Michel promised, in a debate in advance of the election last fall, to support an increase in the gas tax.

How did the Great Pretender vote, Spotty?

To mix a metaphor, grasshopper, he shed his skin once again and voted against the bill.

You mean even after the sackcloth and ashes routine he put on when the Crosstown Commons project got delayed last year?

Yes, grasshopper, even after that.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Rejected Letters to the Editor

If Spot had known about this one, boys and girls, he probably wouldn't have started a blog.

A thump of the tail to News From Underground for the link.

Katherine Kersten: The Smell of Fear

Katie has been off the anti-Muslim beat for a while, but Spot knew it couldn't last. In today's Strib, Katie speaks in admiring tones about the congressional clunker, the Protecting Americans Fighting Terrorism Act of 2007 and one of its sponsors, Col. John Kline. Boys and girls, your friend Spotty already wrote about the bill he calls the Insulation of Bigotry Act of 2007. With a follow-up here. Spotty liked both posts and he hopes you will read them.

The bill is a grandstanding nothing. It may fool some people into feeling that their bigotry is okay to let out, but it won't keep them from getting sued for defamation. From the first post linked above:

One of the co-sponsors was the Colonel, our own John Kline.

Spotty has seen some grandstanding in his day, but Reps. Pearce and Kline, you take the Oscar® for this one. How many lawsuits do you think this will prevent, boys and girls?

It has to be a lot Spotty, otherwise Reps. Pearce and Kline wouldn't have bothered.

Oh, you are a callow fellow, grasshopper! The answer is zero. Here's what Rep. Pearce's bills says: you can't bring a civil action in a federal or state court for making a "qualified disclosure" of "suspicious conduct." Here's how a "qualified disclosure" is defined:

For purposes of this section, the term "qualified disclosure of suspicious behavior" means any disclosure of the allegedly suspicious behavior of another individual or individuals to a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency or other security personnel that is made in good faith and with the reasonable belief that such behavior is suspicious.

Who is going to determine whether the discloser had a "reasonable belief" that the behavior was "suspicious"? And what's the standard? A reasonable person, or the panicked Mr. and Mrs. Bigot?

Boy, those sound like a question for the courts, Spotty!

Yes, grasshopper that's right. Which is why Rep. Pearce's exercise in futility will not keep anybody out of the courtroom. And Spotty says that the bill does not affect the legal standard a whit, either.

The unraveling of the recent Ft. Dix "plot" by an "alert Circuit City employee" making a copy of video footage is offered by Katie as proof the bill is needed. It has yet to be determined whether the feds have discovered a real nefarious plot or just paint-ball playing fools. In either event, the "alert Circuit City employee" managed to report on the amateur videographer without the Colonel's spiffy new law.

Katie why don't you and the rest of the Pucker People just give it a rest? People are tired of the constant scare tactics.

Now word comes to Spot of an initiative, apparently by the Department of Health in Minnesota, called It was created to scare us. At the site, there is a link to a handy list of what citizens can do to prepare for the apocalypse. Really useful tips like: "be aware of your surroundings at all times" (those are really words to live by), and "take precautions when traveling" (pack the Imodium and some extra condoms?).

In the spirit of this valuable and undoubtedly expensive initiative by our state government, Spot has a few of his own tips to offer:

  • Be sure, boys and girls, to save all your old combs, hairbrushes, and toothbrushes and label them carefully in plastic bags so that the authorities can more easily identify your remains through DNA testing after you have been kidnapped and killed by terrorists.
  • Carry some hair, nail clippings, or skin scrapings of each of your children with you at all times, along with recent front and profile pictures of each of them for the same reason.
  • says don't accept packages from strangers. But here's one you probably haven't thought of, boys and girls: if you have a substitute mail carrier one day, make that person show you some ID and then verify it with the local postmaster before you let the carrier put any mail in your slot. Enforce your wishes at gunpoint, if necessary!
  • Move or leave if something does not seem right. Again, this is advice from But if this advice is to be effective, you must push and kick through any crowd you might be in, screaming "Let me outta here! Help!" at the top of your lungs.
  • Be sure not to drink tap water. It's probably fluoridated, anyway. Only drink bottled water from a reliable source. This means if you travel, which Spot does not recommend in any event, you must carry an adequate supply of water for drinking and bathing along with you! There are handcarts that can be adapted for this purpose.
  • Have your children tattooed with their name, your name, and a second emergency contact along with phone numbers in your child's mouth: on the inside of a cheek or along the gum. Consider shorter names for any future children to minimize their pain and discomfort when you have this done. And get a good dental impression while you are at it! Be sure to have the information updated if you get a new phone number or change emergency contacts.
  • Google the names of everyone on your block and make up a tab sheet for each of them. Note carefully any deviation from normal, an extra trash bag, for example. Consider ordering up a full background check for anyone who looks suspicious, especially—and this should go without saying—if they're brown.
  • Buy a police scanner, so that you can keep informed about violence in your neighborhood.

There's much more that Spot might offer. But be sure you check in with for the weekly tip that will be offered. Good night everybody. Sleep lightly and know where you gun is at all times. Sweet dreams!

Tags: is

Sunday, May 13, 2007

We call him Flipper!

Remember maybe a week ago when Evil Bobby dissed Spot's assessment that Tim Walz was a lock for re-election; he mentioned Randy Demmer as a good candidate to run against Walz? And Spot asked Evil Bobby what color the sky was in his world?

Well, it looks like Demmer is going to run, and may be being groomed—or perhaps wire brushed—for the job.

Demmer recently told a television reporter that he was unalterably opposed to raising taxes on gasoline.

Which is curious, of course, as A Bluestem Prairie points out, since he authored a gas tax increase bill earlier this year.

How do you explain that Spotty?

Perhaps—and this is just a guess—the roads in Demmer's district are in especially crummy condition, so when he was representing the interests of his district he wanted to raise some revenue to do some much-needed road work. Now that he wants to be a candidate for the big show, he's polishing his conservative creds for the whole district. Ollie's got the whole story at the link.

Tags: will never beat

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Is anyone surprised?

Via Mark Crispin Miller's blog News from the Underground, comes the Joseph Rhee story for ABC News that reveals substantial financial ties between officials in a No Child Left Behind reading program and publishers who stand to make substantial money from supplying materials for the program:

A scathing report issued today documents "substantial financial ties" between key advisors of Reading First, a controversial federal reading grant program, and publishers who benefited from the program.

The report, issued by Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, called the findings "troublesome because they diminish the integrity of the Reading First program."

Reading First is a multi-billion-dollar program meant to boost literacy among low-income children that was adopted as part of No Child Left Behind in 2001.

The news report continues:

The Kennedy report centers on four directors of the Reading First Technical Assistance Centers, who, the report says, were highly influential in advising states on which reading programs to adopt in order to qualify for federal funds.

According to the report, the directors had "extensive ties with education publishers" at the same time they were responsible for evaluating other publishers' programs. The report concluded that such ties may have "improperly influenced actions."

May have? Come on Spot, that's sounds speculative.

Perhaps, grasshopper, but consider this:

Dr. Edward Kame'enui, the director of the Western Technical Assistance Center, was found to have received more than $400,000 from publisher Scott Foresman after authoring a reading program that was widely adopted by schools under Reading First.

While acting as a Reading First director, Kame'enui's contract with Scott Foresman required him to attend and speak at "a minimum of six sales-related workshops or presentations per year" on behalf of the publisher.

Dr. Kame'enui declined to talk to ABC News but acknowledged in a recent House hearing that he was on the Scott Foresman payroll while advising states on Reading First.

Wow, who does this guy think he is, Roger Clemens?

Exactly, grasshopper. It was Department of Education Inspector General's Office that discovered this knavery originally:

Today's report follows six investigations by the Department of Education's inspector general that found bias, mismanagement and conflicts of interest in the implementation of Reading First.

This follows on the heels of the revelation of the student loan industry scandal, and that the official charged with its oversight was resigning, in disgrace:

Under criticism that it has been lax in policing the $85 billion student loan industry, the Education Department announced yesterday that the chief official responsible for overseeing the loan program was stepping down.

Even Forbes magazine is starting to notice.

Tags: ,

Medieval morality

Pope Benedict XVI, der Panzerpappen, der Pappenfüher, or simply 42 made a revealing statement to reporters during a recent trip to Brazil. In apparently his first "press availability" ever since becoming pope, he was asked if the Mexico City politicians who had voted to legalize abortion in the first trimester had "excommunicated themselves," he replied:

"The excommunication was not something arbitrary," the pope said. "It is part of the Code (of Canon Law). It is based simply on the principle that the killing of an innocent human child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ. Thus, (the bishops) didn't do anything new or anything surprising or arbitrary."

The linked article continues:

His statements left journalists wondering whether the pope had really just spoken of the excommunication of politicians. And what ramifications could that possibly have for many politicians in liberal Western European countries and the United States where abortion is legal?

Later, journalists bombarded the pope's spokesman, Federico Lombardi, with questions about what, exactly, the pope was trying to say. "If the bishops haven't excommunicated anyone, it's not that the pope wants to," Lombardi said. "Legislative action in favor of abortion is incompatible with participation in the Eucharist." He said that politicians who vote in favor of pro-abortion legislation are excluding themselves from communion. He added, however, that the pope had not set any new policy with his statements. Under Catholic law, being denied communion is a milder sanction than being excommunicated.

So the pope is an old man, and we should just write off what 42 said to his mishearing over the jet noise? Oh ho, Spotty doesn't think so. It is apparent he believed that Mexican bishops had affirmatively taken the step of excommunicating the offending legislators, and that such action was plainly called for. It was only later that the press secretary, in a very Reaganesque moment, said no, no, the Holy Father meant something else; he misspoke himself.

Spot thinks that the pontiff committed the cardinal sin (is that a pun?) of candor in his earlier off-the-cuff remarks. Were Justices Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito, Roman Catholics all, worried about excommunication when they considered and decided Gonzales v. Carhart? Were they more worried about saving their own skins than deciding the case on its constitutional merits?

What happens when Americans consider the imposition of Shari'ha law? We freak out. We even recently helped Ethiopia invade Somalia to prevent the institution of a Shari'ha law regime. Apparently no legal regime at all is better. We are honest-to-god secularists when it comes to Shari'ha law (think Katie here), but we react differently when the moral precept comes from a more, er, mainstream religion in the U.S.

But we shouldn't react differently under the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Secular is secular. There are substantial numbers of people in this country, a majority Spot thinks, who don't think that abortion has anything to do with religion, or that if it does, they don't care because they don't subscribe the precept, or because they believe that a woman's sovereignty over her own body is a trump card.

These people would say: Don't like abortion? Fine, don't have one. But don't impose your medieval morality on me.

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