Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mighty Meeks is on the way!

Here this and tremble with fear progressives! Annette Meeks, loyal vassal to Sir Newton of Gingrich, is starting a new organization. That's what Katie tell us this morning. Spot is sure that pulses raced and urgent telephone calls were exchanged among the DFL leadership, from Brian Melendez on down, when Katie preached the conservative Good News this morning:

The conservative movement in Minnesota is on life support -- or so the common wisdom goes. Lots of folks predict that the 2008 elections will pull the plug.

So why is conservative activist Annette Meeks brimming with optimism? She is launching a new organization, the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota, to lead the movement's charge into the future -- and she believes that the future is bright.

Is Meeks whistling in the dark? After all, liberals dominate the Minnesota Legislature and the state's constitutional offices, while our center-right governor held on by his fingernails in the 2006 elections.

"I'll bet there are more Minnesotans who call themselves conservative, libertarian or free market today than in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was elected president," Meeks responded. "But people are dispirited because they conflate election cycles with the health of the conservative movement, and they get their news from the Chinese water torture -- the steady drip, drip -- of the liberal media. The conservative movement transcends that. It's a vision of personal responsibility, economic freedom and limited government."

Yes, yes, Eric Black has been waterboarding conservatives for years!

And Annette, Spot says where there's life, there's hope! Sometimes delusional, false hope, but hope nevertheless. Whatever gets you though the day. Spot is really glad you're forming your own support group.

And support, financial support that is, is the goal of the exercise. You see, Annette lost her gig as president of the Center of the American Experiment last February when she was replaced by the former Dead Center, Mitch Pearlstein:

That's when [February 20th of this year] the center's board of directors voted to oust Annette Meeks, a longtime Republican Party activist (and former Newt Gingrich aide) who had served as the organization's CEO and president for the past 20 months. Viewed in isolation, the incident--though unexpected--wouldn't merit much notice. Then Mitch Pearlstein, who had been "kicked upstairs" and given the title of president emeritus when Meeks was moved into the center's top spot, was tapped as her replacement.

Spot thinks that Annette's formation of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota is just further evidence of the ideological splintering at the CAE. Now the CAE and the FFM will sit, cheek by jowl, glaring at each other, like two Baptist churches across the intersection from each other in the South, splintered over a theological spat that nobody can quite remember. Every movement, political, theological, or whatever, based on a belief that the movement is the sole possessor of the Truth, will eventually splinter.

Apparently, the demand for strident movement conservatives to run think tanks is not unlimited! Annette is to be commended for her entrepreneurial spirit. Rather than actually going to work, she is trying to create her own rice bowl. Perhaps she can hire Katie after the next round of cuts at the Strib.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Spot, you were there, right?

Where grasshopper?

At the DFL's US Senate candidate debate last night. How was it?

Well, grasshopper it was . . . . . fine.

You don't sound very enthusiastic, Spotty. What was the matter?

The Senate District 62 organized the event at (Teddy) Roosevelt High School; these people ARE organized. But . . .

But what, Spotty?

The debate itself seemed pretty scripted. Questions were submitted by the audience on note cards in advance of the debate. Then a few were selected, and each candidate got two minutes to answer each question. The questions chosen were pretty predictable: Iraq war, global warming, abortion, gay marriage, sub-prime mortgage crisis. Brian Melendez, the moderator and DFL state party chair, was the most unscripted guy on the stage.

Those sound like pretty good topics, Spot.

Well, of course they are. But what was missing for Spot was some open mike time for questions from the audience. You know, those often great—and sometimes offbeat—questions you can get from the hoi polloi. Perhaps there could have been a way to permit at least a few people to ask questions orally. Spot, for example, had a question, ingenious in its simplicity, that would have immediately separated the wheat from the chaff, the pretenders from the king, the . . .

We get the idea, Spot. What was the question?

Like Spot is going to tell you now. He'll save it, and perhaps in the fullness of time, Spot will get a chance to use it. You all, boys and girls, can try to guess what the question is.

There was a summary of the debate in the Strib this morning.

What did you think of the candidates, Spot?

Because of the format, it was mostly like four guys taking turns in a batting cage. Spot hasn't picked a candidate, and you, boys and girls, are not likely to find out who he is even when Spot has made up his mind. Spot does, however, have a couple of observations.

Mike Ciresi had the best riff of the night:

Ciresi's most spirited remarks came in answer to an abortion rights question when he said "Republicans said they were going to get government out of our lives," but instead told Americans how to live, pray, die and which children to have.

"We should have a politics of hope and vision. Don't let Republicans dictate the agenda to us," he said.

Spot thinks that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer turned in the best overall performance. He demonstrated a facility with the discussion of a broad range of topics from the Iraq war to global warming. Franken and Ciresi are kind of the leading candidates in the minds of a lot of people but Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer deserves a serious look. Everybody invoked the memory of Paul Wellstone, but Nelson-Pallmeyer was the most Wellstonian.

But Spot still doesn't know who would be the best against Norm Coleman, one-on-one.

[update] Proving again that Eric Black is, among other things, a much better note taker than Spot, Eric did the most comprehensive report on the debate that Spot has seen. [/update]

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

What winning looks like

If you're an Iraqi woman, that is.

In Basra:
In Basra, Iraq, religious extremists are waging a violent campaign against women who do not dress or behave according to their interpretation of Islam and doctors who provide medical services to women.

"They kill women, leave a piece of paper on her or dress her in indecent clothes so as to justify their horrible crimes," said Basra police chief Maj. Gen. Abdul Jalil Khalaf. Militants murdered 42 women between July and September, the BBC reported Nov. 15.

Also, women's groups in Iraq are reporting a wave of attacks against male gynecologists, U.N. news agency IRIN reported Nov. 13. One medical group said at least 22 doctors received threatening letters and two doctors were killed last week as they left their clinics. Extremists argue that male doctors should not see women's reproductive organs.

And in the Kurdish provinces:

Ninety-seven women were burnt to death and 27 others killed in the three Kurdish provinces during the past four months, the human rights minister in the Iraqi Kurdistan region revealed.

More here.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Spotty, what's a yird-swine?

Mark Ritchie is the object of the hatred of the Republican Party in Minnesota. They've got their best yird-swine, Michael Brodkorb, after him. You see, Mark Ritchie beat Little Miss Mary Kiffmeyer in the Minnesota Secretary of State contest last November. Secretary of State can be a very important office, especially for Republicans. Just ask Kathleen Harris or Ken Blackwell. The Republicans took the loss of the office very badly. You could tell when Mikey sat in on the passing of the baton meeting between Kiffy and Ritchie. Mikey wasn't legal counsel to Kiffy, oh no! He was odious smear counsel! And Mikey has been on the case ever since:

But Ritchie, who has given no indication he is taking the Republican request [to resign over the latest non-flap] seriously, has been in the cross-hairs before. When Kiffmeyer and Ritchie met before he took office, conservative blogger Michael Brodkorb tagged along with Kiffmeyer and posted an anti-Ritchie item on the meeting within hours.

Here's what Mikey is complaining about:

Mark Ritchie ran an unusually energetic and hard-edged campaign for secretary of state in 2006, unseating Republican Mary Kiffmeyer after charging her with improper partisanship in supervising elections.

Last week, Ritchie saw the tables turned, as Republican complaints forced him to admit he had mixed official and campaign business.

The flap reflects at least two things. The first is the zest with which the GOP targeted Ritchie for payback. Partly, some say, that's because Republicans think Ritchie has higher political ambitions. The second is the lightning rod nature the office has acquired.

The sin? Apparently Ritchie signed up some people who had signed up for a civic engagement program—a matter of public record—for his campaign newsletter. Now, if the Republicans had done this—and what do you bet that the Republicans have copied public record names for political purposes at some time in the past?—there would have been no problem!

Mikey Brodkorb, as most of you know, boys and girls, is, between his own skin-shedding sessions, the proprietor of the Reptile Gardens known as Minnesota Democrats Exposed. Mikey, you can go over there, no link from Spot, but you can find it if you're determined, thinks that Ritchie is somehow too partisan for the office.

Oh yeah? Prior to her defeat, Little Miss Mary delivered an address to the Senate 41 (Spot's home turf) GOP that was described by a gushing correspondent as Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer talks about Election Reform, Voter Fraud and the 1-2-3’s to beating DFLers. Charming. In the same homily, Little Miss Mary said:

Same-day registration: Voter fraud would be significantly reduced in the state if we switched to a 30-day pre-election registration period like most states. A number of cases of vote fraud from 2002 are still in the legal system and have yet to go to court.

This is but a single example from many of Little Miss Mary, Secretary of State.

Spot has a little research project for you Mikey: identify all of the voter fraud convictions in Minnesota that grew out of the 2002 elections. If you find any, then tell Spot how many grew out of the same-day registration process, and of those cases—again, if any—how many were the result of nefarious activity by the DFL?

Spot wants know. He'll be waiting.

Minnesota is always a leader in voter turnout, much to the chagrin of the likes of Little Miss Mary and Mikey. Same-day registration is one of the reasons why.

Meanwhile, Mark Ritchie gets good marks from others:

"I found him to be very supportive of nonpartisan stuff. I just feel like he's done a very good job of reaching out to all the parties," said Craig Swaggert, head of the Independence Party of Minnesota.

Spotty, you still haven't told us what a yird-swine is.

Look it up, grasshopper.

A thump of the tail to Ollie Ox.

It's just a gun

According to Dennis Anderson. He's talking about so-called "black guns" in his column in the Strib today. His conclusion is that while these guns often have a magazine of up to 30 rounds--which can be fired only "semi-automatically"--and okay, look kinda scary, still:

That said, the black rifle remains just a gun. A gun with a bigger magazine, yes. And one that appears more ominous than some other guns.

But just a gun.

And a Siberian tiger is just a cat.

It annoys Spot quite a lot, as someone who has owned guns, fired them, and hunted with them off and on since he was a pup, to read such a moronic piece, defending what amount to a military weapons as sporting arms. Locked and loaded against Bambi.

Here's Denny's description of the "black rifle":

So, what are "black rifles," and are they often used by hunters?

The answer to the second question is yes.

Semiautomatic assault-style (largely a media term) rifles have long been used by American hunters, particularly varmint hunters -- such as those who seek foxes, coyotes and prairie dogs.

The attraction is manifold. Outfitted with heavy barrels and high magnification scopes, black rifles can be extremely accurate. For example, a good shooter with a properly configured AR-type rifle and ammunition can pick off prairie dogs at 700 yards.

Additionally, gas-operated and configured in .223 caliber (5.56 millimeter) -- as the AR-15 was when developed in 1956 (largely) by Eugene Stoner, chief engineer for Illinois-based ArmaLite -- the gun has virtually no recoil, a big advantage while target shooting or hunting.

And most AR-style rifles can be outfitted with magazines capable of holding as many as 30 rounds, which can aid some sporting uses, such as coyote hunting.

In 1959, ArmaLite licensed the AR-15's design and trademarks to Colt, and, in Vietnam, the "little black rifle" became standard military issue beginning in about 1965, and was renamed the M-16.

The M-16 in Vietnam (updated versions are still used today in Afghanistan and Iraq) had its problems. Colt had told the Pentagon that the rifle didn't require exquisite cleaning, but in the southeast Asian environment, it did, particularly the early models. Also, some soldiers complained the stopping power of the 5.56 mm rounds, far smaller than the 7.62 mm NATO rounds previously used by the service, was insufficient. And complaints were heard that the effective range of the early M-16s, generally about 200 meters, was inferior to the M-14, the rifle it replaced.

Still, Pentagon orders soared, and by 1966, more than 400,000 AR-15s had been placed with the military.

Fast forward.

With so many former soldiers familiar with the M-16, its civilian version -- essentially the same rifle but configured only in semiautomatic action -- found increased popularity for target shooting, hunting and home defense.

Denny tells us that he hunted in Wisconsin for deer with a black rifle this fall. Wanted to see if he could shoot a deer twice before it moved. But drat, he never got the chance to blaze away; that would have been something to really brag about, Denny!

Denny might say, get off your high horse, Spot; you can even buy you kids an air rifle that looks like a military weapon. Great for those neighborhood firefights among the kiddies! There's nothing like carrying a bad-ass looking gun around to make those little balls tingle! Might as well get 'em started early!

It is damn fools like Dennis Anderson who have the megaphone of a column in a major newspaper who are speeding the slide of sportsmen, especially hunters, into the lunatic fringe in the minds of the public. Spot hunts mostly with an old side-by-side from the 1940s. It was Spot's dad's; it's a sportsman's gun. A gun that can shoot 30 times without reloading is something else entirely.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Engines of correction

Spot ran across this the other day, a more elaborate definition of the blog's namesake:

cucking-stool   A machine formerly used for the punishment of scolds and brawling women; also a punishment antiently inflicted on brewers and bakers who transgressed the laws, and were, in such a chair or stool, to be ducked and immersed in some muddy or stinking pond. [Also called] a chocking-stool because scolds being thus punished are almost chocked with water ... The Saxons called it scealping stole.

Bailey, Nathaniel. An Universal Etymological English Dictionary, London, 1749.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Melting snow

How many of you, boys and girls, went outside last night to watch the gentle snow and catch snowflakes on your tongue? How many of you are from Minnesota or Iowa? The rest of you from, say, Florida or Arizona, should check into rehab as soon as you finish Thanksgiving dinner.

If you could use a little help in carving your bird, these two online videos are pretty good: America's Test Kitchen and The New York Times. Just find the little turkey icon on either page.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

"An amended report correcting this error will be filed when the committee's internal audit has been completed."

How long has the Republican party of Minnesota been squawking this excuse to the Federal Election Commission as it tries to sort out the financial mess that is the Party's treasury? Months and months and months and months.

But remember, this is the party of fiscal responsibility, the grown-ups, the ones we must trust to guard our tax money and keep it from the hands of the irresponsible Democrats.

Way to go, Scotty!

Donning the breastplate of vicarious victimhood, Scotty Johnson of Power Line fame or in-fame, take you pick, mounts a vigorous defense of Rachel Paulose, formerly of Minnesota, in the National Review last Friday:

If my friend Rachel Paulose were a liberal Democrat, she would be a celebrity. Serving as the United States attorney for Minnesota, she is the first woman, the first immigrant (Indian), the first Asian, and, at age 34, the youngest attorney ever to hold the position. A graduate of Yale Law School, she has compiled an impressive academic record and stellar professional credentials. She’s not a liberal Democrat, however, she is a conservative Republican, and she has been the subject of an old-fashioned, low-tech media lynching.

Yeah, Scotty, she's got great credentials. Sometimes the horse looks great on paper, but can't run in the mud, or in the heat. Or at all. But here's part of Scotty's testimonial about Rachel:

The Times recites that Paulose is also charged with having “used a racial epithet in reference to another employee.” I’ve known Rachel for ten years. For those of us who know her, the allegation is absurd on its face. Among other things, Rachel is herself an Indian-American immigrant sensitive to racial slights. I’ve never heard Rachel utter a swear word or cast a racial aspersion. In her first on the record statement regarding this charge, Paulose states: “I NEVER made any such statement. I have told the department so, and the department is defending me against this outrageous and defamatory lie.”

Paulose adds: “The McCarthyite hysteria that permits the anonymous smearing of any public servant who is now, or ever may have been, a member of the Federalist Society; a person of faith; and/or a conservative (especially a young, conservative woman of color) is truly a disservice to our country.”

Aw, Rachel, cry Spot a river. Here's what one commenter said in a Think Progress post about Rachel's departure:

Paulose has classic conservative victimhood syndrome. Paulose, was not “attacked” because she has “faith”, because she is a conservative, or because she is a woman or a person of color. She was criticized for being a political crony who put the political needs of her benefactors above the needs of the department she ran and the citizens whom she served.

I think it is highly amusing that she plays both the race and sex cards. If this petty parting shot, accusing her critics of being racist and sexist, not to mention McCarthyist, is indicative of how she responded to criticism and challenges in the conduct of her job, then I am very glad she no longer serves this country.

Although Rachel will land in the Justice Department in a job where she apparently won't have to talk to anybody except for the prayer meetings with Monica Goodling.

Spotty, Monica is gone.

Oh, that's right!

The best part about Scotty's chivalry in defending poor Rachel and giving her an outlet without the fear of having to handle pointed questions is that it apparently backfired. This from the Washington Post this morning:

The brief interview provoked some of Paulose's staff, according to her predecessor as Minnesota U.S. attorney, Thomas W. Heffelfinger. He said in an interview last night that "at least one and as many as three of her current staff managers either had resigned or were threatening to resign today."

It became apparent that the time for getting rid of Paulose was really short, and the easiest thing to do was call her back to the mother ship.

Only Mittens

Last week it was reported that Mitt Romney was on the receiving end of some anti-Mormon push polls in New Hampshire and Iowa.

Could Mitt himself be behind the festivities?
Former Bay State Gov. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign furiously denied rumors yesterday that his own supporters were involved in calls placed to voters in Iowa and New Hampshire that spread anti-Romney smears under the guise of conducting a poll.

Political strategists and bloggers slung accusations at Romney’s camp yesterday after a scathing article appeared in the National Review titled “Did Mitt Romney Push Poll Himself?” which identified several Romney supporters at Western Wats, a Utah-based firm believed to have made the calls. The practice of using phony polls to plant a negative message is commonly known as push-polling.
You can read the Nationla Review article here. For those of you unfamiliar with Mormonism, please click here to read about the concept of Lying for the Lord. Hugh Hewitt, author of A Mormon in the White House: 10 Things Every American Should Know About Mitt Romney, had this to say about the push polls:
The truth of who is behind this will be revealed soon enough, as there are a whole lot of people investigating it now. But if it is discovered that the McCain campaign was indeed behind this bigoted attack on Romney, that will be the final nail in the coffin of what history will view as the failed political career of a great American.
And this:
I suspect either extreme anti-Mormons unaffiliated with a candidate or a left wing 527 that is trying to take Romney out before it becomes obvious that the attack is coming from that direction. If as I believe the left understands Romney to be the anti-Hillary and the strongest candidate against her in the general, now would be the time to take him down via appeals to religious bigotry.
Please be Mittens.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The tragedy of a dead irony warning buzzer

Katie's column this morning contained this paragraph:

Today, a favorite college pastime is fanning the flames of grievance. Victimhood is a tremendous source of moral power, and being outraged and oppressed is a sure bet to get your picture in the paper -- displaying a look of grave concern for all humanity.

Oh Spotty, that must have been another column on how conservatives are such victims on college campuses, like the president of the College Republicans. They sure play the victim card.

Not exactly, grasshopper. Today's victim is the fellow at the MCTC who put up a noose as a prank:

Does anyone still wonder why college culture is the laughingstock of the larger community? Our campuses seem to lurch from one politically correct knee-slapper to the next.

Does anyone crack a book at these places anymore?

Meet Gabriel Keith, an aspiring journalist who attends Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Keith has served as news editor of the campus paper, volunteering many hours and even quitting his part-time job when it interfered with the paper's needs.

Isn't the noose kind of symbolic of, well, lynchings, Spotty?

Yes it is, grasshopper. And some people are kind of sensitive to it. Here's Katie writing about the incident:

We join Keith sitting in the college newsroom one afternoon last month.

He is lamenting the headache of student reporters' missed deadlines with fellow staffers. The group jokes about various tongue-in-cheek motivational messages -- an ice pick, a bloody knife and other fanciful instruments of discipline. Keith impulsively sticks a mock noose made from his sweatshirt drawstring to the ceiling, with a note about the hazards of missed deadlines.

The drawstring was there a few minutes, he says, and he tossed it in the wastebasket before he left.

Keith's antic raised the curtain on the politically correct circus-of-the-month at MCTC. Someone flipped the "I'm outraged, simply outraged!" switch, and Keith found himself at center ring under the Big Top after two black staffers filed complaints.

The day after the incident, an astonished Keith got a call from the paper's editor, who fired him. At a meeting set up by college authorities, he apologized profusely to staffers. He called the noose joke "unprofessional" but explained that it was a misunderstanding.

One wonders—Spot doesn't know—whether any of the black staffers who were the object of the message were black? But it hardly matters. A lot of people in the African American community are sensitive about nooses. And it is undoubtedly a racist, hate symbol.

Reacting to the display of a noose is hardly a "knee-slapper" as culturally tone-deaf Katie says. Unless you're the kind of person who enjoys singing the Horst Wessel song on Kristal Nacht!

Anyway, Keith got canned, and Katie is surprised and miffed that anybody got bent out of shape about it at all. Why, where's you sense of humor?

Keith has the distinct advance over Katie, in Spot's opinion, of being genuinely sorry for what he did. Spot has observed humans for a long time, and one thing he has learned it that they are really a bunch of screw-ups.

One of the things that the liberal Spot would recommend is the application of a generous spirit to Gabriel Keith and giving him a second chance.

Ding Dong! The witch is dead!

You undoubtedly don't need to get your news of Rachel Paulose's departure as United States Attorney for Minnesota from Spot. He's always wanted to use that headline though.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Johnny One Note

Johnny "One Note" Brandl, that is. Just about the time you start to feel sorry for Katherine Kersten—well, Spot exaggerates, of course—because of the vast liberal orthodoxy on college campuses, Johnny One Note puts in an appearance to flog his favorite dead horse: public support for parochial education. Here's a guy like, say, King Banaian, another suckling at a public university who doesn't really like public education. Do you suppose they are consumed with self-hatred, boys and girls?

Brandl makes reference to the recent Growth and Justice program on early childhood education:

Here's heartening news: Researchers looking at ways to address the achievement gap between black and white students have found programs that, dollar for dollar, yield far more benefit than they cost.

On Monday the local think tank Growth & Justice brought together some of the country's leading experts on the topic. These scholars have been measuring the dollar costs and dollar benefits of programs in the public schools.

What did they have to say, Spotty?

Well, grasshopper, it appears that early childhood intervention, especially when you couple it with support for poor parents, produces big dividends:

[University of Minnesota professor Arthur] Reynolds and his colleagues studied a program, Child-Parent Centers, which was much more ambitious than Head Start, enrolling children from the poorest neighborhoods in Chicago for as long as six years. Services were provided to their families as well. The researchers located the enrollees 20 years later and noted the differences in their lives as against people from similar family backgrounds who had not been enrolled. They discovered that the people who had been enrolled had completed more schooling, had been in less trouble with the law, had attained higher levels of employment and rated better on a measure of mental health.

Those findings were bolstered by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve's Arthur Rolnick and Rob Grunewald. Their research found that some early childhood programs have had little effect. But they also found that some larger, more expensive programs, incorporating parental involvement and carrying the children for many years, are not only effective but yield dollar benefits that exceed costs.

Henry Levin of Columbia University and Clive Belfield of City University of New York also described programs whose dollar benefits they calculated as exceeding dollar costs.

The most-promising programs reported on by these and other scholars potentially yield spectacular returns, much greater than most private-sector investments. Early childhood programs extending into elementary school can return up to $10 in benefits per dollar of cost. Reducing class size for low-income children results: benefits four times the costs. Creating small schools with a rigorous curriculum and mentoring, with teachers who commit long-term: benefits seven times the costs.

Wow, that's great, Spotty! John Brandl must be in favor of rolling programs out like this all over the place!

Not exactly, grasshopper. Johnny One Note says these programs will only work if they are run in parochial schools. With public money, of course:

We have long known that educational achievement is influenced mostly by characteristics of a student's family and only secondarily by school characteristics. This suggests that the hunt for ways of closing the gap can be understood as a hunt for supportive cultures in which to immerse students who do not receive adequate support at home. Except for Rolnick and Grunewald, the researchers at the conference seemed to be operating under the implicit assumption that those supportive cultures are to be found only in public schools.

This is puzzling, since the deepest source of inspiration for most people is not government but family or religion. We should consider the possibility that some such supportive cultures exist in institutions other than the public schools. For example, most (but not all) research finds that low-income blacks who attend Catholic schools graduate from high school in significantly larger numbers than do those from public schools. The Catholic schools accomplish their results at considerably lower cost. Perhaps for some children religion creates the supportive community they need.

Actually, Johnny, Spot's deepest source of inspiration is his need to point out what a shameless confidence man you are on the issue of school finance. Brandl has provided many examples over the years, but we need not stray from this op-ed piece to prove the point.

That's pretty strong, Spot.

Yes grasshopper, it is. But the program described by Professor Reynolds and extolled by Brandl as a reason to fund parochial schools, Child Parent Centers, is public, not sectarian.

You're right, Spot. That is quite a flim-flam. It's kind of dishonest to use a program run by the Chicago Public Schools as the reason to fund a school run by a bunch of nuns, isn't it?

Yes, grasshopper, but it's typical of the kind of magical thinking—very unprofessorlike—that parochial school advocates and the vouchers crowd like to spout.

From an earlier post by Spot:

To the private and religious school apologists like Captain Fishsticks, Katie, John Brandl, and many Republicans, including the governor and Spot's state Senator, Geoff Michel, a recent Department of Education study says public schools do better. Christian private schools do the worst.

And here's still more from another Spotty post about an earlier homily in the Strib by Johnny One Note:

Brandl writes:

Dewey's vision continues to invigorate many. Many, but hardly all. For some, religion, not government, remains the ultimate source of strength. Here's the rub: Maybe there are millions of people -- poor people who can't afford tuition -- whose family and neighborhood circumstances are such that without the inspiration, structure, protection and love to be found in religious schools, they simply will not thrive. . . .

This is an ignorant and vicious libel of public schools. Every public school that Spot or his pups have ever attended has made an effort to instill values of good citizenship and civic engagement. It is utter demagoguery to suggest that some people are so weak they need some of that ‘ole time religion to “thrive.” At least when it comes to making the argument on Spot’s dime.

Spotty does not want one red cent of public money to go a theistic educational system dominated by homophobes, anti-feminists, and other assorted antediluvian thinkers.

A quality, universal and free public school education is the backbone of the United States, and of Minnesota. Minnesota’s founders recognized that. In some parts of the country, and some parts of this state, the schools have been sorely neglected and underfunded while saddled with mandate after mandate and an increasingly diverse student population.

It is sophomoric of John Brandl to suggest that a solution is simply to give some students a religious school alternative and call the problem solved. And of course he isn’t trying to solve the problems of pubic schools, just lop off some public revenue for religious schools. If the public school problems are exacerbated by that, well, too bad.

It's not his problem!

Well, Spotty, at least Professor Brandl didn't claim all the research supported his position. In a little parenthetical statement, but still.

But it is intellectually dishonest—to be charitable—to claim that a public school early childhood intervention program offers evidence in support of parochial school education.

This and That

How the sausage is made with the Farm Bill.

Minn Post's Steve Aschburner with an interesting article on reporting access in sports. Do his points transfer to political coverage? Should they be applied to sports? All in all a very good and thought provoking piece from one of the best basketball writers in the country.

Charlie on the continuing decline of the Strib.

The anti-Mormon push-pulls have begun against Romney. Romney's response is predictable:
“I think the attempts to attack me on the basis of my faith are un-American,” Romney said. He went on to suggest that it was legislation tied to one of his rivals, John McCain, that was partly responsible for what took place.
Of course, Mittens is quick on the trigger to impose a religious test on the non-religious:
Romney: (Chuckling) "Let me, uh, let me offer just a thought. And that is, uh, one of the great things about this great land, is we have people of different faiths and different persuasions. And uh, I'm convinced that the nation, that the nation does need, the nation does need to have people of different faiths but we need to have a person of faith lead the country."
Recap: According to Mittens, it's un-American to attack faith (including his) but it's perfectly fine to fire away at those who don't believe, among other things, that Native Americans are the descendants of a group of Israelites who made an Atlantic crossing in 600BC and who also believe that, until 1960, African Americans were sub human. (The LDS Church saw the light on the question of equal rights when their tax status was threatened.)

This has nothing to do with being un-American and everything to do with the Romney campaign not wanting people to know anything about the man's ridiculous and transparently false beliefs. Which is, ironically, the same reason why he hasn't, and likely will never, deliver his Kennedy-esque Mormon speech. It's that nonsensical.

Senate bill still allows warantless surveillance.

Great Disney moments (a Tracy Eberly favorite.)

That's all for now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dirt worshipping heathens

That phrase has gotten some play lately. Spot doesn't intend to rehash the matter. But there was something in a Suddenly South post today that caught Spot's eye. Gump copies—or, shudder, maybe recites—part of the Baltimore Catechism he learned growing up Very Catholic. Here's the question and response that is of particular interest to Spot:

15. Q. Where is God?
A. God is everywhere.

The author of "dirt worshipping heathens" was obviously referring to pantheism. How much different is pantheism from the Baltimore Catechism?

Ambrose Bierce, the author of The Devil's Dictionary, didn't think very much. He defined pantheism thusly:

n. The doctrine that everything is God, in contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything.

Bierce was being ironic, of course, boys and girls. But he makes a point.

Here's another definition of pantheism:

Pantheism is a metaphysical and religious position. Broadly defined it is the view that (1) "God is everything and everything is God … the world is either identical with God or in some way a self-expression of his nature" (Owen 1971: 74). Similarly, it is the view that (2) everything that exists constitutes a "unity" and this all-inclusive unity is in some sense divine (MacIntyre 1967: 34). A slightly more specific definition is given by Owen (1971: 65) who says (3) "‘Pantheism’ … signifies the belief that every existing entity is, only one Being; and that all other forms of reality are either modes (or appearances) of it or identical with it." Even with these definitions there is dispute as to just how pantheism is to be understood and who is and is not a pantheist. Aside from Spinoza, other possible pantheists include some of the Presocratics; Plato; Lao Tzu; Plotinus; Schelling; Hegel; Bruno, Eriugena and Tillich. Possible pantheists among literary figures include Emerson, Walt Whitman, D.H. Lawrence, and Robinson Jeffers. Beethoven (Crabbe 1982) and Martha Graham (Kisselgoff 1987) have also been thought to be pantheistic in some of their work — if not pantheists.

Spot thinks it is the Baltimore Catechism's position that God is in the dirt, too.

He can't wear an armband

Tomorrow—Wednesday the 14th of November—Minnesota lawyers will rally at noon in support of the lawyers and judges in Pakistan. Spot has written before about these lawyers and judges who are leading the protests, and being beaten and jailed for it, against the imposition of martial law by President (apparently for life)  Musharraf.

The rally will be at the Supreme Court at the Judicial Center, part of the Capitol complex in St. Paul. The Minnesota State Bar Association is urging lawyers to be there, and even if they can't, to wear a black armband for the day. This is part of events taking place nationwide.

It's a time to show support for the rule of law and all the brave practitioners in Pakistan.

Since Spot can't wear an armband, this will have to do:

"Under these barbarous circumstances the appellant readily confessed . . ."

Eric Muller asks an important question. If It Was Torture in Mississippi, Then It's Definitely Torture, Right?

He draws our attention to several cases from Mississippi from the 1920's where the confessions of African American suspects were actually thrown out by the Mississippi Supreme Court because the confessions were obtained by the use of waterboarding ("the water cure"). Prof. Muller concludes:
If "the cure" was seen as a barbarous form of torture in Mississippi in the 1920's, I guess I'm at a loss to understand exactly how our attitudes about the process have progressed to see it as an acceptable means of interrogation 80 years later.

We're all at a loss.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Now here's a good one

The Twin Cities' own Phoenix Woman over at FDL.

Taking a blow from pursuing filthy lucre

Spotty fired up the 'tubes this morning before reading the Sunday paper, and he saw this on Juan Cole's Informed Comment:

On Veterans Day, think about the thousands of US dead and wounded in Iraq (for what purpose, exactly?), and think about Iraqi Veterans against the War as Star Tribune columnist Nick Coleman suggests.

Typically this group and others like it are being denied a voice in public commemorations of the veterans (who apparently should be honored but should not actually be allowed to speak for themselves.)

There is indeed irony in the bellow of chicken hawks like Rush Limbaugh that veterans against the war are "phony soldiers."

Nick's column, linked above, is definitely worth a read:

Wes Davey, drafted during the Vietnam War, thought America learned a lesson in Vietnam. He never thought he'd spend his 54th birthday in Baghdad, or that a son would serve there, too.

Brandon Day carries the names of 11 dead comrades tattooed on his right arm. But you don't need to see the tattoos to see his pain. It's in his eyes.

And Raymond Camper is one of the Minnesota National Guard members who served a longer stretch in Iraq than any other U.S. troops deployed there.

Camper, Davey and Day share more than their time in uniform. They share the anger and disenchantment of many veterans who have returned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They also share a determination to speak out.

When people like Limbaugh, Katie, Johnny Rocketseed, Janet, and a host of others say that they honor veterans but don't even want to listen to them if the vet has an opinion contrary to their own, you have to wonder if it's the veteran or the war that is being honored.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One last thing about that Kersten column

Don't everyone go telling this to Spotty, but I don't always make it to the end of a Katherine Kersten column. I know, I know, I ought to read them to the bitter end so that I get the full effect, but sometimes I just can't do it.

I have now resolved to end this short-cutting of Katie. What brought this on was the last line in her latest coumn, wherein she misses the everything there is to miss about the faculty of St. Thomas choosing a classic dystopian text. I'll leave it to others to explain to Katie why it's no surprise that the faculty of an institution whose administration is lurching right back to the middle ages would choose to express their displeasure this way. Others can point out that the reason the book was chosen was the very same reason it was written: A warning of what may come to pass.

My beef with her today is her insistence that such books are so last century, so old school. Arguing that the women of St. Thomas have moved beyond such trite notions of yesteryear like equality and the oppression by the pariarchy, Kersten points out the great strides women have made in society. But then she ends with her true message, that all that is meaningless in the face of why women really are sent to college:
For many female college students, the challenge is going to be, not resisting male tyranny, but finding an equally well-educated man to marry.

Living a full life? Intellectual and professional challenge and success? Happiness in what you are and what you contribute? No, dear, your greatest challenge is to become joined to a man.

"There is more than one kind of freedom...Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it." ---Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

This Week In Weekiness (Things That Really Matter)

Tom Cruise brings Scientology to his big movie premier (which is probably why Redford and Streep didn't attend.) Tommy did not recruit Becks to the cult. Spain caves to the cult. Some Christian pastors like the cult.

Brad Childress (aka the George Bush of the NFL) is an idiot. He's also ridiculously cheap and crass.

Rosanne attacks Ellen.

OJ in doo-doo.

Oh yeah, Senate Democrats caved and Mukasey gets sworn in. Waterboarding to appear in next year's X-Games. And you thought the 60-vote excuse meant something.

Democratic campaign theme for 2008: We're mad, we want you to know it, and we're going to do absolutely nothing about it.

Friday, November 09, 2007

We here at the Cucking Stool are shocked

Shocked, I tell you. At this:

Borrowers Facing Foreclosure Often Overpay, Study Finds

Bankruptcy court filings indicate that some lenders and loan servicers foreclosing on properties are charging questionable fees and misstating outstanding balances.

University of Iowa law professor Katherine Porter analyzed more than 1,700 Chapter 13 filings from April 2006 and found that questionable fees were tacked on to more than half of the loans, the New York Times reports. The fees were for items such as faxes, payoff statements, frequent property inspections and something called “demand fees.”

She also found that creditors failed to attach the required promissory note in 40 percent of the claims and the itemized charges in nearly 17 percent of the claims. And in most of the cases, the borrowers claimed they owed less than the amount sought by creditors, a wide-ranging discrepancy she attributes to possible overcharges rather than record-keeping errors. In one case, a lender sought $1 million for what turned out to be a $60,000 unpaid balance.

This was a study done in 2006, nearly 18 months ago and before the surrent sub-prime lending debacle was fully recognized for the problem it is. We can only assume this will get worse as more and more unsophisticated borrowers turn to bankruptcy.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Oh Katie

As Spotty has already mentioned, Katherine Kersten is all hot and bothered over a selection on the freshman reading list at the very open minded campus of St. Thomas.

You can delve into the details of her column on your own free time, but I just wanted to stop by to mention that it's times like these that one really has to wonder if a nagging moralist like Ms. Kersten has ever actually read the Bible.

If she had more than a passing fancy with St. Thomas' most popular piece of literature she would be shocked to know that young Tommies are given a book that gleefully details the brutalization of POWs, incest and family violence, human sacrifice, raping and murdering hookers, and the atonement of sin via execution (among many other equally horrifying stories).

If Katie truly wants to bemoan the teaching of demeaning views of women, I can give her the chapter and verse of where to start her journey.

In hot pursuit

In hot pursuit of filthy lucre, that is. Or in Spot's case, it's more like a dog trot after filthy lucre. Sigh. Regardless, your ol' friend Spot will be pretty busy laboring in the vineyards for a week or so. Won't be posting too much.

Spot will leave you with this: this morning dear Katie decided to become a literary critic and complain about the book assigned to freshmen at St. Thomas this year, The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood:

Novels with these themes -- the oppression of women, environmental catastrophe, and other '60s bugaboos beloved of Baby Boom professors -- are a dime a dozen. Why did St. Thomas single out "The Handmaid's Tale" for a year-long, campus-wide discussion?

Gee, Katie, Spot can't imagine. Perhaps because they couldn't get enough copies of the latest from your favorite author, Danielle Steele.

Spot has an assignment for you, boys and girls, to do while Spot is busy. Google Margaret Atwood and see if you can find how many literary awards she has won. Then do the same thing for Katie—Katherine Kersten—and see how many she has won. Then, compare your results.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

In which we all begin to worry

The United States Senate appears to be poised to approve the appointment to the highest law enforcement office in the land one Michael Mukasey. This is a man who recently stated that the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court might need to be modified so that those declared by the President to be "terrorists" don't have full access to the Court. He stated that giving such suspects access to federal courts and lawyers was a "bold joke [that] could become a reality."

Half a world away, another Supreme Court - along with much of the rest of the judiciary - remains under house arrest because their President felt they were "at cross purposes" with the President's efforts to control what he says is a threat of terrorists and extremists. In Pakistan, twenty-five percent of the nation's lawyers are currently in jail, charged with terrorism offenses by the Musharraf government. Musharraf declared martial law this last weekend based upon claims that there was a need "to address the extraordinary security situation prevailing in the country."

Something in those words sounds familiar.

Mirror, Mirror in my brain

Mirror neurons that is. The author of a recent article in Salon, Gordy Slack, describes them this way:

A young woman sat on the subway and sobbed. Her mascara-stained cheeks were wet and blotchy. Her eyes were red. Her shoulders shook. She was hopeless, completely forlorn. When I got off the train, I stood on the platform, paralyzed by emotions. Hers. I'd taken them with me. I stood there, tears streaming down my cheeks. But I had no death in the family. No breakup. No terminal diagnosis. And I didn't even know her or why she cried. But the emotional pain, her pain, now my pain, was as real as day.

Recent research in neurobiology would explain my response as the automatic reaction of a kind of brain cells known as mirror neurons. On Nov. 4, neuroscientists announced that mirror neurons had for the first time been directly identified in humans. Previously their existence had only been inferred from primate research and the observation of human brains through fMRIs (functional magnetic resonance imaging).

Mirror neurons may explain the roots of human emotions empathy and altruism:

Enthusiasm among scientists has been spreading as growing evidence suggests that "mirrors" may explain the roots of human empathy and altruism as well as provide insight into such disorders as autism and even schizophrenia. But that's not all. In the past few years, dozens of studies have linked mirror neurons to the emergence of language, abstract reasoning and even self-awareness or consciousness. "The self and the other are just two sides of the same coin. To understand myself, I must recognize myself in other people," says [neuroscientist] Marco Iacoboni.

Spotty, what happens if your nearer murrions are absent or not functioning properly?

That's mirror neurons, grasshopper. Apparently what happens in these cases is that you become a Republican:

Along with dozens of studies in neuroscience journals, mirror neurons have also taken a place in the folk psychology battle over how to frame human nature. Alan Greenspan and the rugged individualists may love Ayn Rand's libertarian vision of each person alone against the world, but another set prefers to think of humans as inextricably tied to one another, creating codependent realities and sharing inter-subjective space.

Spot observed in jest some time ago that Republicans just had defective empathy genes. It turns out that may not be so wide of the mark. It may also make you prone to think that religion is what makes us good, while it probably has more to do with our innate nature:

In fact, the problem of altruism has vexed biologists since Darwin. Why do people sacrifice their own self-interest, sometimes even their lives, in order to help others? Genes for such behavior should be selected against quickly and definitively. But if mirror neuron theorists are right, the advantages of directly understanding others may be so great that it blows the evolutionary cost of occasional self-sacrifice out of the water. What's selected for might be the ability to imitate others, and to understand and feel what they are feeling. Self-sacrifice and altruism might be mere byproducts of mirroring and not themselves adaptive in a way selected for by evolution. In any case, "we are good," says Iacoboni, "because our biology drives us to be good."

When you read a sad story and have a good cry, or you cheer at the end of a feel-good movie, thank your mirror neurons. You should maybe thank them for a lot more, too:

Early mirroring must have enhanced our ancestors' ability to learn by imitation -- one primate can "practice" using tools in its head simply by watching another. These new capacities eventually led to the kind of "metaphorical" exercises employed in abstraction of all kinds, including the development of symbolic systems like language, says Ramachandran, whose lab at UCSD is currently investigating the connection between mirror neurons and the human ability to employ metaphor.

"Not just literary metaphors," says Ramachandran in his deep, dramatic East Indian British accent, "but abstractions of all kinds. Once you understand the cross-modal computations that mirror neurons are doing, you can see why human beings are so good at all kinds of abstraction."

Monkey see; monkey do. Really.

Spot likes metaphors; his brain must be one of those mirrored balls they hang above dance floors.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The first thing we do

The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.

Dick the Butcher, Henry VI, Part 2, act 4, scene 2.

Our friend Dick is suggesting killing the lawyers to help foment instability in London in a plot to overthrow the king. Lawyers that both figuratively and literally stand for the rule of law.

Now there are a bunch of lawyers standing up for the rule of law in Pakistan, and Spot is really proud of 'em:

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Nov. 6 — In a telephone address to lawyers in Pakistan’s capital, the ousted chief justice of the Supreme Court urged them today to continue to defy the state of emergency imposed by the president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

Khalid Tanveer/Associated Press
Police officers beating lawyers today in Multan, Pakistan.

“The lawyers should convey my message to the people to rise up and restore the Constitution,” the chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, told dozens of lawyers on speakerphone at a meeting of the Islamabad Bar Association before his cellphone line was cut. “I am under arrest now, but soon I will also join you in your struggle.”

Today, the second day of protests, the police arrested 50 lawyers in the eastern city of Lahore and clashes broke out between hundreds of lawyers and Pakistani police officers in Multan, about 200 miles to the southwest. On Monday, in Lahore and other cities, thousands of lawyers protested, with many beaten by baton-wielding police officers and then thrown into police wagons. By the end of that day, about 2,000 people had been rounded up by the authorities, among them 500 to 700 lawyers, according to lawyers and political officials.

We often forget that the US and Pakistan share something: being a former colonial possession of Britain. British common law is the root of the legal system in Pakistan, just as it is in the US. American lawyers are not physically beaten for standing up to illegitimate authority, but private and JAG lawyers, boys and girls, have made substantial sacrifices to try to make the rule of law apply even to detainees in the "War on Terror."

Spot says lift a glass to them.

Vote early, vote often

Well the first part anyway. There are a variety of races for school board, city council, mayor, etc. around the state. All guaranteed to be low-turnout affairs.

Many school districts have a bond referendum, or a levy referendum, or both. Edina has a levy referendum that, in Spot's opinion, deserves your support. It's easy to make fun of Edina: Every Day I Need Attention, Cake: the Breakfast of Champions, and even Spot does it when he calls Edina "Cakeville." But one thing that Spot has always been proud of is the way Edina supports education. In the twenty seven years he has lived in Edina, Spot cannot recall a school referendum that has ever failed, or even been all that darn close, including a very large bond referendum that passed a couple of years ago.

Spot cannot recall the statistics, but it is a definite minority of households that have kids in school in Edina.

Everybody get out there and support you schools.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Oh, Cornelia!

Katie's column today Classical charter schools make learning come alive for students, about which Spot will write more in a moment, contained Katie's lament that "classical" elementary schools weren't available for her brood. So let's roll the calendar back and imagine:

Oh, Cornelia! Come here please!

Coming Mom, and you know my name is Mary Ellen.

I know, but wouldn't it have been so much more romantic to be named Cornelia?

This is about transferring to the Seven Sisters elementary school again, isn't it?

That's Seven Hills, dear; a reference to the hills surrounding Rome. And wouldn't it be such fun to study Latin every day and maybe make ancient pots? Just imagine!

Yeah, I can see it all now, Mom. No thanks.

You'll love it after a few day; I promise.

Did you sign me up? I told you I didn't want to go there. You're ruining my life!

Lookit me! This is a chance your older siblings, Titus Flavius and Socratea, never had.

You mean David and Lisa? Geez, Mom, when you get something in your head, you just don't let go.

Think how much is will mean to your mother.

Guilt trip!

Then think about how good it will look on a resume, I mean curriculum vita.

Mom, I'm eleven years old.

Well, no matter. You'll thank me someday. Besides, Latin is our mother tongue, the language of our Church, and it's what Jesus spoke!

Mom, you're German. Our people sacked Rome. We're the barbarians, remember? And Jesus spoke Aramaic, not Latin.

Oh, you're so precious! I could just squeeze you to death! How did you know that?

It was that Mel Gibson slasher flick you took us all to a couple of years ago. [never mind the anachronism, says Spot] I'm not going.

Oh yes you are.

No I'm not.

Yes you are. You like living here, don't you?

Oh, Mom. You always play the trump card.

Boys and girls, there are apparently other people in town like Katie.

No way!

Way, grasshopper. According to Katie, there are now five "classical" elementary charter schools in the Twin Cities for Titus Flavius, Socratea, and Cornelia.

Why would anyone send their kids there, Spotty?

Apparently, it is difficult to find a good penal colony in the neighborhood that will take children that young. Either that, or a lot of parents are under the influence of all the beard and bedsheet classics they saw down at the Bijou when they were kids themselves. At all events, it seems odd to Spot that Katie could express so much interest in the humanities without having any humanity for anyone different than she is.

NOW Spot's worried!

From Chris Floyd:

The nightmare scenario that the "War on Terror" is ostensibly meant to address — with its massive outlay of tax dollars and death — is now coming to pass: an Islamic nation which has extensive ties to sectarian terrorism, a nuclear arsenal and a proven record of blackmarket proliferation of WMD technology is collapsing into the status of a failed state. But of course this scenario doesn't apply to any of the three countries already shattered by Terror War "shock and awe" — Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia -- nor to the country squarely in the crosshairs of the next wave of war crime: Iran. No, the nightmare scenario has become a reality in the country that perhaps more than any other has benefited from Washington's Terror War largess — Pakistan.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Damnation with faint praise

From the Washington Post:

In announcing her support for the nominee, Feinstein said: "First and foremost, Michael Mukasey is not Alberto Gonzales. Rather, he has forged an independent life path as a practitioner of the law and a federal judge in the Southern District of New York."

The same article says this about Charles Schumer's approval of Mukasey:

"I deeply esteem those who believe the issue of torture is so paramount that Judge Mukasey's views on it should be the sole determinant of our vote," Schumer said in a statement. "But I must respectfully disagree. The Justice Department is a shambles: politicized and demoralized. The belief and hope that Justice Mukasey, with his experience, independence and integrity, can restore the department motivates my vote."

The flap, of course, is over Mukasey's nomination as attorney general and his refusal to say that "waterboarding" is torture in confirmation hearings. Here's a description of waterboarding from the The Independent in the UK:

Even though Congress banned waterboarding in the US military in 2005, it did not do so for the CIA. As a result, Mr Mukasey told senators, it was uncertain whether this technique or other harsh methods constituted "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment. His answers did not satisfy the Democrats, however, and his approval now hinges on whether he is willing to say the torture method is against US law.

In a further embarrassment for Mr Bush yesterday, Malcolm Nance, an advisor on terrorism to the US departments of Homeland Security, Special Operations and Intelligence, publicly denounced the practice. He revealed that waterboarding is used in training at the US Navy's Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in San Diego, and claimed to have witnessed and supervised "hundreds" of waterboarding exercises. Although these last only a few minutes and take place under medical supervision, he concluded that "waterboarding is a torture technique – period".

The practice involves strapping the person being interrogated on to a board as pints of water are forced into his lungs through a cloth covering his face while the victim's mouth is forced open. Its effect, according to Mr Nance, is a process of slow-motion suffocation.

Typically, a victim goes into hysterics on the board as water fills his lungs. "How much the victim is to drown," Mr Nance wrote in an article for the Small Wars Journal, "depends on the desired result and the obstinacy of the subject.

"A team doctor watches the quantity of water that is ingested and for the physiological signs which show when the drowning effect goes from painful psychological experience to horrific, suffocating punishment, to the final death spiral. For the uninitiated, it is horrifying to watch."

The CIA director Michael Hayden has tried to defuse the controversy. He claims that, since 2002, aggressive interrogation methods in which a prisoner believes he is about to die have been used on only about 30 of the 100 al-Qai'da suspects being held by the US. Meanwhile, a CIA official told The New York Times waterboarding had only been used three times. The Bush administration has suggested that the interrogation of al-Qai'da's second-in-command, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, was a success thanks to the technique, and used this to justify continued aggressive interrogations of suspects in secret CIA prisons.

While US media reports typically state that waterboarding involves "simulated drowning", Mr Nance explained that "since the lungs are actually filling with water", there is nothing simulated about it. "Waterboarding," he said, "is slow-motion suffocation with enough time to contemplate the inevitability of blackout and expiration. When done right, it is controlled death."

Mr Nance said US troops were trained to withstand waterboarding, watched by a doctor, a psychologist, an interrogator and a backup team. "When performed with even moderate intensity over an extended time on an unsuspecting prisoner – it is torture, without doubt," he added. "Most people cannot stand to watch a high-intensity, kinetic interrogation. One has to overcome basic human decency to endure watching or causing the effects. The brutality would force you into a personal moral dilemma between humanity and hatred. It would leave you to question the meaning of what it is to be an American."

If this description seems a little, well,clinical, to you boys and girls, here's a video of how it's done.

It is abhorrent that a candidate for the nation's top position as a law enforcement official could equivocate about this. It is unspeakable that a couple of leading Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee would approve a nominee nevertheless.

Schumer says that he hopes Mukasey can restore a "politicized and demoralized" Justice Department. An unlikely prospect, it seems to Spot. A man so compromised or confused in the face of so easy a moral choice will not make an effective and moral leader.

Update: Here's a good analysis of Feinstein's remarks by Jack Balkin.

Vox Day, they found your Daddy

From the Strib:
Fugitive Minnesota tax protester Robert Beale was in federal custody today, one day after agents from the U.S. Marshals Service arrested him in Florida.

Beale had been at large since August 2006, when he failed to appear for his trial on federal tax evasion charges. The government alleges that Beale failed to pay taxes on more than $5.6 million in personal income.

Loyal readers will recall that Robert Beale is the father of Vox Day, your basic woman-hating, self-centered, selfish, preachy idiot who gives Christians a bad name.

Vox has learned that his father has been arrested and his fans are, of course, more than happy to pray for Mr. Beale.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

No muck boots, but close enough

At the end of the recent post Professors rush in, about King Banaian's plea to Michele Bachman to end farm subsidies to people like, er, Michele Bachman, Spot issued a challenge:

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

Within hours, Avidor sent this image to Spot:


Michele in coveralls? Check. Cross-dressing Marcus? Pure bonus.

Avidor, Spot owes you a box of kibble that may be redeemed for a beer at DL.

Career advice

Via Rick Perlstein at

From Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times:

In a recent column I speculated on President Bush's post-White House plans. What should he do with himself?

Alice Collins of Oak Lawn has an idea.

"Three hundred and sixty-five days a year, in the wind and snow of winter and the heat and humidity of summer, let him tend to the graves of the almost 4,000 men and women who have given their lives in the debacle of Iraq. They honored their oaths, obeyed their commander-in-chief and sacrificed their lives of promise to a lying, unprincipled warmonger.

"He can begin at the grave of my grandson, Lcpl Jonathan W. Collins, killed in action on 8/8/2004."