Monday, March 31, 2008

The Devil Made Me Do It!

Wasn't that Jimmy Swaggert's line when he was caught in compromising behavior with hookers?

Yeah, and the bubbas bought it, Spotty.

Yes they did, grasshopper. Unlike, apparently, a jury in Colorado that convicted a man of rape of and theft from a woman hired to be his maid when the man claimed he was merely engaging in "traditional Muslim behavior."

Someone named Il Duce - clearly a person of munificent sentiment - at the odious snot rag,, wants to charge all liberals with complicity:

I have no doubt that rape and abuse are typical Muslim behavior, but do we really want to be tolerant of this shit? Are liberals really ready to sacrifice all of our laws at the temple of Multi-culturalism?

By the way, Il Duce, it should be altar of multi-culturalism: temples are usually much larger, and generally refer to entire buildings. But never mind. Spot digresses.

Joe Bodell, the proprietor of Minnesota Campaign Report, replies: Hey, it's unfair to blame all Muslims, or certainly all liberals, for that matter. And, of course, it is. But Joe, it is the sort of libel you must expect from drooling cretins like Il Duce and his ilk.

This is perhaps a good time, boys and girls, to remember the difference between natural law and positive law. Interestingly, it is the conservatives - especially the Christian conservatives - who most often posit that natural law, God's law, governs the affairs of mankind.

God's law, however, is an elusive concept, and it exists in many forms, depending on the beholder, or believer. Which God's law should we apply? Should we apply Sharia law, lopping off the odd limb or noggin here and there? Or perhaps we should apply the law of Moses and stone non-virgin brides on their fathers' doorsteps? Maybe we should obey the Catholic Church's condemnation of capital punishment?

It's a puzzle, isn't it, Spotty?

Indeed, grasshopper. It is why, in spite of Tommy Jefferson's regrettable rhetorical flourish in the Declaration of Independence (perhaps forgivable because it was addressed to a fellow who believed in the divine right of kings), the United States, and its foundation document, the Constitution, are thoroughly positive law institutions. We choose democratically the laws by which we are governed, according to a guiding set of principles, not by some theocratic hoo hah who claims to know the mind of God.

It is for precisely the same reason that we do not accept that: 1) women may be kept in involuntary servitude and raped when convenient, 2) gays and lesbians are "abominations," and 3) women do not have sovereignty over their own bodies and lack reproductive choice.

Jimmy Swaggert may have successfully pleaded that the devil made him do it, and it may have worked for his congregation, but claiming that the devil - or God - made you do it, or permitted you to do it, is of no moment in U.S. law. That's what a jury in Colorado concluded, too.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The sun: Nothing New Under Department

Today, boys and girls, we turn to a couple of excellent legal writers to tell us that George II is just following in the footsteps of Charles I and the Federalist John Adams. Spot finds it oddly comforting to consider that George Bush is not an innovative charlatan, but merely a charlatan.

Consider Charles I of England. A monarch beheaded for treason - consider that for a moment, boys and girls: a king adjudged guilty for crimes against his own Crown, himself in other words - who found the courts, weak and ineffective as they were in England at the time, to be a nuisance to avoided:

In England of the seventeenth century, the Stuart monarchs gradually found the court system to be entirely too much of a bother. Of course, they would pick the judges and keep them in line with promises of royal favor or the reverse, and they developed the cajoling of juries into a high art form, often enough promising retribution against jurors who failed to render the desired verdict. But the bottom line was that this legal system was simply too unpredictable. Why, it actually dispensed justice in some cases. And that was decidedly not what the monarch desired—or to put it more in the framework of the times, it was the King’s justice that they were after, a particular and personal flavor. So some cures were crafted. One was the use of military tribunals to try cases—tribunals which immediately dispensed the justice that the sovereign desired. And another was the practice of putting prisoners, especially those in political cases, on boats and shipping them off to places where the hated writs of the English courts, and particularly the writ most in disfavor, habeas corpus, did not run—to the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, and even on occasion to America.

Much of the reign of the Bush dynasty has been an exercise in reliving the mistakes of the seventeenth century, and in short order we have seen Bush resort to each of [these] techniques of the Stuart monarchs so close to his heart. And now we leap forward some three hundred and fifty years to discover that we have an Administration intent on dispensing not American justice, but Bush justice–and that it’s best doing this with a sleight of hand worthy of a Stuart monarch.

That's Scott Horton, writing on his blog, No Comment. As Horton points out, the architect of a lot of this seventeenth century thinking is John Yoo, Professor Organ Failure. The avoidance of habeas corpus and military commissions to try "certain" prisoners are the acts of a monarch, or as John Yoo might put it, a unitary executive.

The second legal writer that Spot wants to quote today is Anthony Lewis, the author of the award-winning Gideon's Trumpet and the author of the new book Freedom for the Thought We Hate. Here's Lewis on page 21 of the book:

But one feature of the Sedition Act did not disappear: the political use of fear to justify repression. Again and again in American history the public has been told that civil liberties must be sacrifices to protect the country from foreign threats. There have been repeated examples of what Richard Hofstadter called "the paranoid style in American politics." As in 1798, when the Federalists spoke of French terror to justify the Sedition Act, so in the twentieth century Congress many laws branding as infamous anyone who was suspected of a Communist taint; politicians from the 1920s through Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy won votes by charging their opponents with being soft on communism. In the "war on terror" in the twenty-first century, President George W. Bush persuaded Congress to deprive alleged "enemy combatants" of legal rights in order, he said, to keep the country safe.

James Madison [a principal drafter of the Constitution] foresaw the problem. Two months before the Sedition Act was passed, in a letter to Vice President Jefferson, he wrote: "Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."

When the witless cowboy George Bush proclaimed that "everything changed on 9/11," he actually proclaimed his historical ignorance once again. Terrorism as a political force is very old, some placing its roots with the Jewish Zealots, the Sicairii. It is a tool of the dispossessed, usually inflamed by nationalist or religious sentiments.

The notion that we can "beat" terrorism is laughable and naïve. We could just as well declare war on human nature.

The self-hating woman

Janet at SCSU Scholars has no time for feminists; they're just a waste of space on college campuses:

A few years ago, one of the Twin Cities major papers (I forget which one) ran a front page article questioning the value of a college education. Seems a young lady had just graduated from one of our local private institutions (say $120,000 investment) with a degree in women's studies but couldn't find a job.

DUH - what does one learn in a women's studies curriculum? Do they learn about: Chinese foot binding; east African gender mutilation; the Hindu practice of making widows throw themselves on the burning funeral pyres of their husbands (until the Brits forced the end of this absurd practice); polygamy in the Middle East; "temporary" mandated marriages; etc. No, the female instructors of Women's Studies curricula focus on white men, period.

Janet, there are lots of undergraduate majors that don't prepare one well for the job market. That's why God created graduate school! Janet sounds like the principal of Mechanics Arts High School, not the college lecturer that she apparently is. [involuntary shudder from Spot]

Laying aside the fact that Janet is a little wide of the mark in describing women's studies, what is the measure of the value of an education? We may conclude without contradiction that Janet believes education is solely to train the next generation of troglodytes or Deltas. But education is not merely an industrial process that prepares children for a life of toil. Parents hope their offspring will be employable, of course. But there are countless writers, artists, composers, and musicians with parents who wanted them to be dentists. And the world is richer for it.

Other than cheerleading for the decaying American economic system, it is hard to see what anyone could be getting out of Janet's class.

Friday, March 28, 2008

'Atta boy, Nick

Long time, or even short time, readers of the Cucking Stool will know that Spot had a little post about the cancellation of the Vets for Freedom traveling roadshow at Forest Lake High School. In yesterday's column, Nick Coleman called it out even better: A political agenda hid behind a talk with heroes:

Tuesday's cancellation of a visit to Forest Lake High School by Iraq War veterans in a giant bus labeled "Vets For Freedom National Heroes Tour" produced a bonanza of outraged media reports:

"Heroes banned by School! Minnesota hates the Heroes!"

Or maybe a Minnesota school was just trying to keep its students from becoming pawns in a political game.

There would not have been much outrage if that big bus, instead of saying "Heroes Tour," had been painted to say "Republican Tour to Shore Up the Pro-War Vote." But that would have been an honest paint job.

Here's how the planned visit came about:

The visit to Forest Lake was worked out by [Forest Lake High's principal Steve] Massey and Forest Lake alum Pete Hegseth, an Iraq veteran who heads Vets for Freedom. VFF says it is nonpartisan, but the liberal watchdog group the Center for Media and Democracy said it began as a Republican front group managed by White House insiders.

Their plan? According to the Center for Media and Democracy, the plan is to drum up support for the war. The group's political bent was clear last year when it bought TV ads to thank Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., for supporting the war.

Nick points out correctly that the right-wing blowfish would have a different view if the veteran was on the other, er, foot:

After all, they [students at Forest Lake High] may soon be in Iraq, or Iran, themselves. But if they hear from Vets for Freedom, they should hear from Iraq Veterans Against the War, too. Or see "Body of War," a documentary about a soldier named Tomas Young who volunteered after 9/11 and was paralyzed in Iraq.

"Many of us volunteered with patriotic feelings in our heart," he says. Until he was "sent into the wrong country," to fight in Iraq, not Afghanistan.

Your assignment this morning, boys and girls, is to google (some day they're gonna lose that trademark) "Nick Coleman" to see how many right-wing blogs have commenced their wounded bellowing over Nick's column.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Wege would want you to know this

Thanks to lots of attention from all manner of people who just wouldn't let it alone - including the intrepid Wege - former Alabama Governor and political prisoner Don Siegelman is being granted release from prison on an appeal bond:
Former Gov. Don Siegelman will be released from prison, after the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals granted him an appeal bond, the lead prosecutor in the case said.

Acting U.S. Attorney Louis Franklin said he received a courtesy call from the court today. "He's going to be released," Franklin said.

He said he was disappointed but said, "The 11th Circuit has the discretion to do that and I respect that."

Drinking Liberally tonight!

Drinking Liberally tonight in its regular location, the 331 Club in Minneapolis. Six to nine.

Tonight, we will be discussing the art of the political film, particularly the new blockbuster, Al, Debate Jack!

We'll probably also celebrate March birthdays in the group.

UPDATE: This just in: PZ Myers will try to make an appearance tonight!

Al, Debate Jack!

Jack believes we had better tackle climate change sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Peter's Victory Through Carnage tour

Spot learned yesterday via RSS and a post that he correctly guessed was from Janet, that the Forest Lake High School principal had canceled an appearance there by Peter Hegseth's competitive uniformed cheer squad, currently on its Victory Through Carnage tour across this broad and beautiful land. This is the road show featuring Fadi Fadhil, the Iraqi ex-pat who will tell all who will listen that things are getting really peachy in Baghdad, although he hasn't been there for a few years.

Janet says that the excuse for canceling the visit was "lame," and she quotes Kathryn Jean Lopez, K-Lo of the NRO, in support of that position. Why, these students would have been lucky to touch the hem of the garments of the likes of Peter Hegseth, Michael Baumann, Dave Thul, or maybe even the beatified (or is is fossilized?) Joe Repya. Of course, as K-Lo says (you can find the link to her NRO post at Janet's post, if you're interested), Peter Hegseth is a frequent contributor to the National Review Online. Imagine that!

Janet and K-Lo cannot imagine how anyone would think that a tour organized by Peter Hegseth and featuring Fadi Fadhil would be considered political.

There is an article in the Strib this morning that Pete was able to pitch his tent revival at the local American Legion in Forest Lake, and that some students were in attendance. One young fellow said he just wanted "to support the troops" and was sorry that the show didn't take place at the school. But really, boys and girls, does anybody actually think this is about supporting the troops and not the war policies of the current administration?

If it's just about the troops, what the @#$%^&* is Fadi Fadhil doing there?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

What have you done with him?

Who are you, and what have you done with our Spotty?

What ever are you talking about, grasshopper?

Oh, you're not fooling me! I know you're not the real Spot!

Don't be foolish, grasshopper.

If you are the real Spot, how can you explain a couple of things: that you endorsed two candidates for DFL endorsements, and more important, you haven't said boo about Katie in weeks and weeks?

Ah, grasshopper, Spot takes your point. Uncharacteristic, really. As to the first point, Spot fell into a fit of conviction for a couple of candidates, only one of whom, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, is still a candidate. As to the the latter point, Spot has no defense. But how about if Spot discusses Katie's column from Sunday, right now?

Yay! It is you after all, Spotty!

First of all, grasshopper, it really hasn't been that long.

It seems that way when you're looking forward to it.

All right; Spot is sorry.

Sunday, Katie told us the story of an Iraqi ex-pat who wants us to continue the war. Spot will let Katie set it up for you, boys and girls:

Fadi Fadhil -- Freddie to his friends -- is probably marking the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war's launch with closer attention than the average Minnesotan.

Fadhil, an Iraqi citizen living in Minneapolis, served as an interpreter for U.S. forces in Baghdad, his hometown. From April 2003 to February 2005, he guided American soldiers through some of their most challenging days.

Lt. Col. Michael Baumann, commander of a battalion task force with the 5th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, with whom Fadhil worked, calls him a vital "cultural bridge." Baumann, of Lakeville, moved heaven and earth to bring Fadhil to Minneapolis in 2005, after his life was threatened.

Freddie is an interesting story. Imprisoned by Saddam Hussein - for refusing to be a Baathist, according to Katie - released about the time the Baghdad fell, Freddie saw a US officer and a Muslim cleric talking or arguing on a street, and as an English speaker, Freddie went up to the two and offered to help.

What does this tell you, boys and girls?

That Freddie is a do-gooder?

No, grasshopper; Freddie is actually the hero of this little story. But this is an example of the kind of preparation that was done for the occupation of Iraq. The Administration didn't think much of civil affairs; our soldiers are warriors after all. The guy who hired Freddie as an interpreter on the spot, says as much:

Lt. Col. Michael Baumann, commander of a battalion task force with the 5th Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division, with whom Fadhil worked, calls him a vital "cultural bridge." Baumann, of Lakeville, moved heaven and earth to bring Fadhil to Minneapolis in 2005, after his life was threatened.

Of course, Freddie might have been other than a boy scout, but there was no way for Lt. Col. Baumann to have known one way or the other. One has to wonder whether everyone who offered to help really intended to be helpful. But Freddie did, and good for him.

But here's Spot problem with Freddie. He fled the country in 2005, but now he says this:

Fadhil will be telling Minnesotans he meets at [Vets for Freedom] tour events that Baghdad is now a far safer and better-functioning city than it was when he left in 2005. "Baghdad has taken huge steps toward where Iraqis want it to be," he says.

What is Freddie not, boys and girls?

An eyewitness to what Baghdad is like now, Spot?

Right, grasshopper. Freddie would make a laughable witness on two grounds: he has no first-hand knowledge, and he's a little, well, biased in favor of his former employer and life saver. Here's another view of the "facts on the ground" in Baghdad as military types like to say:

Over the course of five years, Baghdad, the capital city of Iraq, has been transformed from a metropolis into an urban desert of half-destroyed buildings and next to no public services, dotted by partially deserted, mutually hostile mini-ghettos that used to be neighborhoods, surrounded by cement barriers reminiscent of medieval fortifications. The most prominent of these ghettos is the heavily fortified city-inside-a-city dubbed the Green Zone, where Iraq's most fearsome militia, the United States military, is headquartered. It is governed by the Americans and by the American-sponsored Iraqi government, headed by Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki.

Here's was Nir Rosen - who is an eyewitness to rather more recent conditions - had to say in a chilling Rolling Stone article:

It's a cold, gray day in December, and I'm walking down Sixtieth Street in the Dora district of Baghdad, one of the most violent and fearsome of the city's no-go zones. Devastated by five years of clashes between American forces, Shiite militias, Sunni resistance groups and Al Qaeda, much of Dora is now a ghost town. This is what "victory" looks like in a once upscale neighborhood of Iraq: Lakes of mud and sewage fill the streets. Mountains of trash stagnate in the pungent liquid. Most of the windows in the sand-colored homes are broken, and the wind blows through them, whistling eerily. House after house is deserted, bullet holes pockmarking their walls, their doors open and unguarded, many emptied of furniture. What few furnishings remain are covered by a thick layer of the fine dust that invades every space in Iraq. Looming over the homes are twelve-foot-high security walls built by the Americans to separate warring factions and confine people to their own neighborhood. Emptied and destroyed by civil war, walled off by President Bush's much-heralded "surge," Dora feels more like a desolate, post-apocalyptic maze of concrete tunnels than a living, inhabited neighborhood. Apart from our footsteps, there is complete silence.

But that doesn't stop our Katie, fawning bootlicker that she is, from trotting out the story of Freddie as spokesman for "the surge is working." Katie, never a critical thinker, doesn't put the smallest energy into finding out if Freddie has any idea what he is talking about.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The counter-protest was apparently even smaller

A bilious old soldier had this letter in the Strib today:

I was amazed at the poor showing of war protesters at the Lake Street Bridge on March 19, the fifth anniversary of that war's start. As I walked the bridge in my personal counterprotest, carrying my "Liberate Iraq -- Support Our Troops" lawn sign, one of the 30,000 we printed and gave away in 2003, I heard media and police estimate the crowd between 600 and 800 people. It struck me that in a metropolitan area of nearly 3 million people, this was a very small crowd to show up when the weather was so mild.

It becomes more obvious each day that the people of Minnesota realize that the change in strategy and tactics by the "surge" are now working. Even the mainstream media, which many accused for so long of slanting the news to the negative, are now reporting the success of both the military and political advances in Iraq.

No matter how you feel about the events that took us to war, we are there and must succeed. We are faced with an election this year that will decide whether the Iraqi people will actually succeed in their efforts to build a safe and secure nation. An independent democracy in Iraq is in the best national interest of America. We as a nation have sacrificed too much to turn tail and run away. [italics are Spot's]


Joe, those 30,000 signs you had printed up? Spot hasn't seen a single one for a long time.

Even Gen. David Petraeus, the surgemeister, says that there is no military solution to Iraq. And Joe, your boy Dave has also said that nobody thinks adequate progress is being made on a political solution, either.

What color are you eyes, Joe? Spot bets they are brown.

Joe's remarks about sacrifice as a nation is insulting to families who have lost a service member, or service personnel who are now saddled with lifetime disabilities. The Administration has done everything to avert national sacrifice, whether it be by taxation, or even looking at rows of the caskets of the KIA. But whatever the sacrifices were, and by whom, is irrelevant to decisions about staying in Iraq. Those sacrifices, to use the clinical terms of economics, are sunk costs. That cannot be recovered regardless of what we do. Here's a quote that was in an earlier post by Spot, too:

Some economists who track the war expenses say they worry that politicians are making mistakes similar to those made in 2002, by failing to fully come to grips with the short- and long-term financial costs.

“The relevant question now is: what do we do now going forward? Because we can’t do anything about the costs that have already happened,” said Scott Wallsten, an economist and vice president of research with iGrowthGlobal, a Washington research institute. “We still don’t hear people talking about that.”

But the chickens, and the chicken hawks, too, are coming home to roost. Surging oil prices and the collapse of the dollar are directly related to the credit card war. If you want to jump off a cliff, Joe, be my guest, but don't take the rest of us with you.

Friday, March 21, 2008

DL: looking into the future

This just in:

Candidate for the DFL endorsement for the Third Congressional District Terri Bonoff will be at Drinking Liberally on Thursday, April 3rd. This is not next Thursday - apparently State Senator Bonoff will be in session into the evening that night - but the following Thursday.

Details to follow.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Reminder: DL with Ashwin Madia tonight

Ashwin Madia will be at DL tonight. Sources tell Spot he'll be there around seven for some remarks and a meet and greet. Six to nine is the regular meeting time. 331 Club in Minneapolis. Madia's running for the DFL endorsement for the 3rd Congressional District seat currently held by Jim Ramstad.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Just swipe that card again, Mr. President

Alternate title: Happy Birthday Blunder!

Today marks the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq. And we've put the whole damn thing on the credit card. Well, we thought we got good terms! Nothing down with generous repayment terms: the next generation pays. But the pesky bill keeps coming due earlier and earlier.

Nobel Economics Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and his co-author, Harvard professor Linda Bilmes, have estimated the total cost of the war, just to the United States, to be three to four trillion dollars. The rest of the world will pay similar amount. They wrote a book called The Three Trillion Dollar War, but that estimate is apparently out of date, although the book just came out:

All of the war-price tallies include operations in the war zone, support for troops, repair or replacement of equipment, reservists’ salaries, special combat pay for regular forces and some care for wounded veterans — expenses that typically fall outside the regular Defense Department or Veterans Affairs budgets.

The highest estimates often include projections for future operations, long-term health care and disability costs for veterans, a portion of the regular, annual defense budget, and, in some cases, wider economic effects, including a percentage of higher oil prices and the impact of raising the national debt to cover increased war spending.

The debate raging on Capitol Hill, on the presidential campaign trail, in research institutes and in academia touches on such esoteric factors as the right inflation index for veterans’ health care costs; the monetary value of nearly 4,000 soldiers killed; and what role, if any, the war has had in higher oil prices.

Some economists who track the war expenses say they worry that politicians are making mistakes similar to those made in 2002, by failing to fully come to grips with the short- and long-term financial costs.

“The relevant question now is: what do we do now going forward? Because we can’t do anything about the costs that have already happened,” said Scott Wallsten, an economist and vice president of research with iGrowthGlobal, a Washington research institute. “We still don’t hear people talking about that.”

In discussions about the economy, the elephant - boy, is that an apt metaphor - in the room is the war. The national debt has soared, as has the price of oil, and the dollar has plunged. The Fed keeps throwing "liquidity" on the fire; it seems to help for a little while - at least in terms of buoying the stock market - but only for a little while. As the Fed accepts dodgey-er and dodgey-er debt as collateral, the prospect that the taxpayer is going to foot the bill becomes more and more inevitable.

Privatize the profits and socialize the losses!

Spotted: Dog

And Spotty says he gets lost in St. Paul...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Here's what Obama said

Here is a video of the speech that Barack Obama gave this morning on the subject of race:



Spot is not going to gush about it but will just say it was a great speech. Here's a text of it, if you would prefer to read it.

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Christian woman expresses doubt!

Who's the woman, Spot?

Michele Bachmann.

Really? Wow! What does she doubt? The account in the Bible's book of Luke about the virgin birth of Jesus? Luke was written at least a generation or two after Jesus' death.

No; she believes that all right.

How about Jesus rising from the dead? Again, there are no written first-hand accounts, only oral tradition that was handed down to the gospel writers, who were in turn selected to be in the Bible only later.

Nope; she doesn't doubt that either.

Then what does she doubt?

Global warming.

[hysterical laughter] Oh come on! She can't possibly doubt that!

Regrettably, it's not a laughing matter, grasshopper. Evidence of global warming is irrefutable:

Scientists have found the first unequivocal link between man-made greenhouse gases and a dramatic heating of the Earth's oceans. The researchers - many funded by the US government - have seen what they describe as a "stunning" correlation between a rise in ocean temperature over the past 40 years and pollution of the atmosphere.

The study destroys a central argument of global warming skeptics within the Bush administration - that climate change could be a natural phenomenon. It should convince George Bush to drop his objections to the Kyoto treaty on climate change, the scientists say.

Goddard Institute for Space Studies' James Hansen agrees:

Even "moderate additional" greenhouse emissions are likely to push Earth past "critical tipping points" with "dangerous consequences for the planet," according to research conducted by NASA and the Columbia University Earth Institute.

With just 10 more years of "business as usual" emissions from the burning of coal, oil and gas, says the NASA/Columbia paper, "it becomes impractical" to avoid "disastrous effects."

The study appears in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Its lead author is James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

The forecast effects include "increasingly rapid sea-level rise, increased frequency of droughts and floods, and increased stress on wildlife and plants due to rapidly shifting climate zones," according to the NASA announcement.

But drooling idiots like Michele Bachmann want to fiddle while earth burns. She not only doubts global warming concerns, she calls them a "hoax."

Maybe it's all part of the Rapture pre-game show for Michele, but it's not for Spot. But, sigh, Michele will undoubtedly next favor us with her theory of how the earth is surrounded by crystal globes in which the stars are fixed to rotate around the earth.

Drinking Liberally for advance planners:

On this Thursday night, the 20th, Ashwin Madia, DFL candidate for Congress in Minnesota's Third District, will be at Drinking Liberally for a meet and greet. Six to nine is the usual meeting time; Spot doesn't know exactly when to expect Ash, but he'll post that when he finds out. We meet at the 331 Club in Minneapolis.

We are also trying to line up an appearance by Terri Bonoff, the other DFL candidate for the endorsement. More about that later.

The DFL 3rd District endorsing convention is in April.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Jack talks about fund raising

There have been some extravagant remarks recently about how Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer is not a serious candidate. Here's Jack, at DL in February, talking about fund raising:

Spot's book report

And now, for something entirely different.

Spot has written some about the Peak Oil phenomenon. Others have written more about the prospect of ever-dwindling oil supplies, increasing world-wide demand, and the prospect for resource wars.

It occurred to Spot that he should write a dystopian novel about life in the US in such a post-apocalyptic world. It turns out that somebody already did. James Kunstler, Spot's favorite Malthusian, wrote a book titled World Made by Hand, that is being released this week.

Spot got his paws on an advance copy several days ago.

Kunstler is also the author of The Long Emergency about the future of declining oil supplies. It is obvious that the author has been thinking about this for a long time. The book is a comprehensively-imagined story about a small upstate New York town after a series of wars, environmental catastrophes, disease contagion, and insurrections that are only hinted at, and not clearly understood, or even known about, by the residents of the town.

In addition to imaging a world without oil, or very much of it anyway, World Made by Hand is the story of the social disintegration and what Spot might call neo-tribalism that might result.


Update: James Kunstler will be in the Twin Cities are part of a book tour, sometime in April, Spot thinks.

Joe and Flash and Al, oh my!

Spot has made no secret of the fact that he is a Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer supporter. You can read a little more about why that is here and here. Spot did not intend to endorse anybody in the endorsement or primary races: the races are not what Spot is really about. But in a momentary lapse of his non-conviction, Spot decided that he really liked Jack. And, boys and girls, Spot thinks you should, too. But there is an assortment of conventional thinkers in the DFL who will tell you that Jack should be dismissed as an inconvenience to Al Franken. You can hear a little of the Clintoneque sense of entitlement creep into their voices:

Ah, a puff piece on the guy who's running against Al Franken for the DFL endorsement.  Look, I respect what JNP is doing, and will no doubt get several comments from Pallmeyer boosters (Hi Charley) on this post.  And Pallmeyer has made a better effort in this race than Ciresi did -- namely, he has actually defined himself positively instead of telling delegates constantly only that he is not Al Franken.

But to say that Pallmeyer "ousted" Ciresi from the race is just downright disingenuous.  Ciresi himself and Franken did that well enough on their own.

Again, I have deep respect for what Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer has accomplished for his issues and for his supporters.  But there's very little chance at this point of Jack actually winning the DFL endorsement.  The Star-Tribune, which claims to be the leading newspaper in the Twin Cities traditional media, needs to step up and actually analyze the situation in this race instead of sitting back, taking a few quotes from Pallmeyer and his field organizer (who's a good guy, by the way), and just telling the story of a day at a local convention.

The fact is that Jack had been raising more money that Ciresi - except for money that Ciresi "loaned" his own campaign - just before Ciresi dropped out. And he's within spittin' distance in-state fund raising  vis-a-vis Al Franken. (Spot will get those numbers for you, boys and girls.) So it is pehaps just a tad cavalier to suggest that Jack had nothing to do with Ciresi's dropping out.

Joe and Flash, too, would rather have you focus on polling data more than a half a year before the election. Just as a gentle reminder, everybody (including Spot) thought John  McCain was DOA six months ago. Since it is the delegates coming out of the conventions who will make the endorsement, perhaps observing conventions is not such a bad way to gauge a candidate's support (and the softness thereof), potential, and momentum.

Spotty says, boys and girls, be chary of breezy assertions that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer has no chance. He does.

And now for a little disclosure: Spot's alter ego is a Nelson-Pallmeyer delegate to the state DFL convention.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Why won't you debate, Al?

Spot wrote before about Al Franken's unwillingness to have debates with Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer before the state convention.

Spot has thought about this some more, and he strongly recommends that all JNP supporters at upcoming district or county conventions demonstrate in favor of debates.

Moreover, Spot says that even Franken supporters should remain uncommitted until Al agrees to debates. Plural.

White: it's the new Black

Geraldine Ferraro, in trouble for her remarks saying Barack Obama would be nothing if he was a white man, shoots back:

"Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls [the Obama] campaign down and says let's address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you're accused of being racist, so you have to shut up," Ferraro said. "Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

Spot has some reality for you, Geraldine: people prefer Obama's hopefulness to your churlish apparatchik. Spot says that the Clinton campaign should look in the mirror to see who is playing identity politics.

Drinking Liberally tonight!

Since Spot got a mention in the Strib's Bloghouse for his challenge to Al Franken to engage in debates with Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, Spot didn't want to cover up the post with another too soon.

But now, boys and girls, the time draws nigh: Drinking Liberally is tonight at the 331 Club in Minneapolis. Six to nine.

The last couple of weeks, the crew had been made up largely, as one wag put it, of men, often bewhiskered, who were born during the Truman Administration.

Nevertheless, the company is splendid, the liquor flows freely although you do have to pay for it, and the weather is benign. Come and join us.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ok, Al, here's the deal

You want the DFL endorsement and nomination to run against Norm Coleman? You want everybody in the DFL to work for you and promote your candidacy?

Not before you beat Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer fair and square for the endorsement. And you can't do that by avoiding any further debates with your only remaining (serious) challenger. Frankly, Al, Spot's not sure you're up to it. The other "debates" have all been opportunities for all the candidates - including at least Ciresi and Cohen, too - to provide short answers to short questions. Sound bites.

Here's what MPR says about the prospect for additional debates:

Nelson-Pallmeyer said he wants to debate Franken as much as possible before the state DFL convention in June. Nelson-Pallmeyer said Franken's celebrity and money have driven his success, not his positions on the issues.

Larger view

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer

"The reason Franken is ahead is because he was in the race for two years and has spent millions of dollars," he said. "What I find is that everywhere I go in the state of Minnesota whenever we're side-by-side I have tons of supporters coming over to my campaign. So this is the period where that will continue."

"I like Jack tremendously but he's not going to dictate what I do with my campaign," Franken said. Franken said he will not commit to another round of DFL debates.

"You know, we've had, I don't know, 16 debates or something and right now I'm really very busy doing all of the things I need to do to prepare for the general," he said.

Really, Al? The general election is in November, and even the state convention is a couple of months away. I am sure that you and Andy Barr can free up some time between now and then, my liege.

Spot would like to see you sit across a table from Jack and actually discuss issues with him: engage in a dialog. He wants to see, among other things, whether you can do that without interrupting all the time, as you had a propensity to do on your radio show. Spot wants to see somebody actually confront you, put you on the spot, make you justify yourself.

The DFL is entitled to that.

Perhaps you can talk about the Iraq war, climate change and our responses to it, including expanded use of nuclear energy, and health care. There are lots of other things, too.

Spotty says to all the delegates at this weekend's DFL conventions in the 3rd Congressional District (and of course any county or district conventions after this weekend, too): if Al shows up, demand that he debate Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer.

Shout it out to him if you have to.

Governor commits hara-kiri with own penis!

That's what Eliot Spitzer did.

That's a little judgmental, Spot.

Spitzer was a little judgmental, too. And therein lies part of the problem for Spot. That, and the hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy is one of the greatest sins a politician can commit. In this, Spitzer is more blameworthy in Spot's eyes than even Bill Clinton, because at least Clinton was never a crusading moralizer.

Spitzer has brought dishonor on himself and the Democrats in New York and revulsion to the citizens of that state who elected him by such a large margin.

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Norm Coleman campaign expenditure!

This is how Norm spends his money, boys and girls. If you want to see the whole picture, so to speak, you'll have to go and visit Auntie Tild.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A gangland murder

Ken Avidor produces a little film remembering Walter W. Liggett. Liggett was a  muckraking journalist in the Twin Cities in the 30s. Liggett was shot down in front of his family; his wife identified the killer as Isadore Blumenthal: Kid Cann.

Update: Spot posted this late last night and wasn't very descriptive. Be sure to read Ken Avidor's comments.

Further update: Here's the Wikipedia entry for Kid Cann. He is buried in a cemetery not far from where Spot lived, and still lives, and Spot remembers the day of the funeral quite clearly, a lot of big black cars and men in homburgs:

After his release from prison, he moved to Miami Beach, Florida with his friend Meyer Lansky. They reportedly continued to make money through illegal activities, though they changed tack, focusing instead on stock market fraud, money laundering, and questionable real-estate dealings. He frequently visited his family and friends in Minnesota and declared to a Minneapolis reporter in 1976 that he had recently turned down an offer to write his memoirs. He said, "I have nothing to say, really." He died in Minneapolis of heart disease in the summer of 1981. After the Kaddish was recited at the graveside by a rabbi from Temple Israel (see Reform Judaism) he was interred at the Adath Yeshurun Jewish Cemetery in Edina, Minnesota.

One down; one to go

The path to the endorsement for Spot's boy Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer became a little more clear today.

Core delusions

Because two of the Override Six are from Spot's neighborhood - Senate District 41 - he has heard a lot of the wailing about the traitorous Ron Erhardt and Neil Peterson, culminating in their failing to be endorsed by the GOP for re-election. One of the phrases repeated over and over is that the Override Six failed to observe one of the "core beliefs" of the GOP: lower taxes, sometimes pronounced "tat-sez" by many Republicans. It began to sound like a talisman or a holy writ to Spot.

So, Spot did a search on the term "Marty Seifert core belief" and this is part of a blog comment to the very first hit that came back, and, not surprisingly, it's a comment to a post at the circus billboard that is also known as Minnesota Democrats Exposed:

More fundamentally, however, their vote went against the party platform. In voting the way that they did, those legislators thumbed their noses at one of the critical principles that define Republicans in Minnesota. It’s like being Catholic but not believing in the divinity of the Virgin Mary.

I think that we all agree that there are times and places where one should and likely must compromise in order to make the wheels of government work. It is unreasonable to expect people to dig in and fight every time. However, there are also times when a particular issue arises that goes against a core belief. An issue that defines you as a person or group. At those times, there can be no compromise, no surrender. In those moments, one must fight for those beliefs with all of the passion and heart they can muster.

Exactly. The author of this comment said it quite well, and with a more explicit reference to religion than Spot might have dared. Well, probably not, but never mind. As the commenter suggests, a core belief is something that is accepted as true irrespective of the presence or absence of proof, and even when there is common sense evidence to the contrary. The core belief - or faith - does not admit the possibility of exception or error. To do so would call the entire belief system into question.

The Override Six are not merely dissenters: they are apostates. As such, they must be excommunicated, or better yet, killed.

MPR reports that Marty Seifert used a Civil War analogy to explain the situation; the override vote was Bull Run and the election will be Gettysburg for the Republicans. Spot's got a better analogy for you, Marty: the French Revolution:

But the French Revolution ironically was a failed revolution: Liberté, Egalité, and Fraternité quickly descended to the towering figure of Robespierre and his Reign of Terror as the revolution spun out control and began to murder itself.

Guess who is starring in the role of Robespierre in this remake, Marty?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Ron's dilemma

Ron Erhardt - and Neil Peterson, too - lost his bid for endorsement for re-election yesterday. Peterson has already said that he would run in the Republican primary in September. Erhardt said he would either run in the Republican primary, or run as an independent.

If Erhardt runs in the primary, he probably wins, but then even if he wins the general election, he returns to the House where Marty Seifert is his party leader. Bummer.

If he runs as an independent, Erhardt picks up the disaffected Republicans and some DFLers who have voted for him over the years. The veto override is not the first time that Erhardt has bucked the Republican party establishment, and he has many admirers of his stance on social issues: abortion, gay rights, gun control.

The road is perhaps steeper as an independent, but if successful, Erhardt gets to caucus wherever he wants. Spot guesses this has a lot of appeal to him.

Look for Rep. Erhardt to run as an independent.

Dumb as rocks, and that's a good thing

News from the Republican caucuses yesterday:

Three Republican legislators who voted with the DFL to override Gov. Tim Pawlenty's veto and pass a $6.6 billion state transportation bill were denied the GOP endorsement for reelection at local caucuses Saturday. All three said they plan to run for reelection.

Guess where two of the three are from, boys and girls?

That's easy, Spot. They were Ron Erhardt and Neil Peterson. Right?

Correct, grasshopper: districts 41A and 41B out here in Cakeville and part of Bloomington (the prestigious western end). Erhardt has had opposition from the Christo-fascist nutjob Keith Downey for some time, but as far as Spot is aware, real opposition to the endorsement of Peterson only arose after Erhardt and Peterson voted with the DFL majority to override the governor's veto on the transportation bill.

Isn't it a little extreme to call Keith Downey a "Christo-fascist nut job," Spotty?

Well, maybe grasshopper, but here's what Ron Erhardt said of him:

Erhardt said Downey drew votes from "the Christian right with all their social issues, which I don't vote for.'' He said he will either enter the Republican primary against Downey or run as an independent.

Kind of a Michele Bachmann in wing tips, huh, Spotty?

That's a memorable way to put it, grasshopper.

Although the DFL's convention in the district is not until next weekend, likely candidates are Kevin Staunton in 41A and Paul Rosenthal in 41B. Rosenthal ran pretty well against Peterson in the last election; Staunton is a member of Edina's Planning Commission.

Yesterday's "deliberations" undoubtedly boost the chances of the DFL taking one or both of these long-time Republican seats.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Warning! Warning! Warning!

Lethal levels of irony ahead.

Katherine Kersten wrote a column today (it's actually in the Sunday paper edition; it was up Saturday night on the web) taking a charter school to task for being religious and using public funds.

What? How can that be? Katie hates public schools. She loves charter and parochial schools and supports taxpayer-paid vouchers to send kids to 'em.

Well, it's true grasshopper. Of course, it's a school that Katie says is a Muslim school.

Why didn't you say so, Spotty? Katie hates Muslims. Muslim cabbies, Muslim airline passengers, you name it. What'd she have to say?

Well right off, Katie doesn't like the name of the school:

Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA) -- named for the Muslim general who conquered medieval Spain -- is a K-8 charter school in Inver Grove Heights.

Naming a school after a military leader? Dastardly! Never mind Stonewall Jackson High School, or Robert E. Lee High School. Why naming schools after traitors to the United States is one thing, but naming a school after a Muslim is just out of bounds!

And Katie is suspicious about the school's claim that:

TIZA uses the language of culture rather than religion to describe its program in public documents. According to its mission statement, the school "recognizes and appreciates the traditions, histories, civilizations and accomplishments of the eastern world (Africa, Asia and Middle East)."

Spot thought you liked schools that taught civilization, Katie. Or is that only western civilization?

Katie's feathers are ruffled about this, too:

TIZA's strong religious connections date from its founding in 2003. Its co-founders, Zaman [the principal] and Hesham Hussein, were both imams, or Muslim religious leaders, as well as leaders of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota (MAS-MN).

It's a good thing Christians have never been involved in charter schools! Well, maybe some. Bill Cooper and Don Samuels for example (just use Google, boys and girls).

Here's how Katie winds up:

TIZA has improved the reading and math performance of its mostly low-income students. That's commendable, but should Minnesota taxpayers be funding an Islamic public school?

The answer is, of course, "NO" Katie, but it shouldn't support schools like Ascension Academy and Higher Ground, either.


Andy Birkey had a good article about this Katie column at Minnesota Monitor. Read especially the comments of The Wind in his Sails - Craig Westover - to see the intricate thinking of somebody who doesn't think there is a wall of separation between church and state. Ironically, he seems to disagree with Katie, too, but he has the opposite reason for doing so. With the stale fish stick smell of meatless Friday afternoons in Spot's old elementary school, Sticks lays out his tired vision of what education "should" be. He refers to the Core Knowledge curriculum, designed whether Sticks admits it or not, to demonstrate the superiority of western culture.

One of Sticks' insinuations is that you can't have a moral agenda without religion. This is just an update to a post, so Spot won't get into that, but it's rubbish. Religion is the first moral scheme that most people encounter, but that certainly doesn't mean it's the only source.

Friday, March 07, 2008

In his own words

Why - II.

This is the second installment in Spot's case for his endorsement of Jim Hovland (Third District Congress) and Jack Nelson Pallmeyer (Senate).

Man-made climate change

Shouldn't that be "human-made climate change," Spotty? Women must be responsible for part of it.

Ok, grasshopper, but Spot has noticed that you are always especially in favor of gender equity when there is some blame to be spread around.

Nelson Pallmeyer says it is the most critical issue faced by, well, humankind:

JNP opposes the increased use of nuclear energy. That is not true, as far as Spot can tell, of JNP's opponents.

And this is from Hovland's website:

Edina, like other cities across our state, is acting locally to good global effect, but these are matters better handled by the federal government where comprehensive strides can be made. We need leaders committed to taking a strong stand on clean water and emission standards, who understand the important role that development and alternative transportation play in our overall capacity to deal with the significant threats to our environment.Edina, like other cities across our state, is acting locally to good global effect, but these are matters better handled by the federal government where comprehensive strides can be made. We need leaders committed to taking a strong stand on clean water and emission standards, who understand the important role that development and alternative transportation play in our overall capacity to deal with the significant threats to our environment.

Jim is a leader in Edina in establishing its Energy and Environment Commission. The Commission's mission is to "help the City stay on the forefront of issues of sustainability."

Madia's platform advocates increased use of biofuels:

Expanding the use of homegrown energy offers incredible economic opportunity for states like Minnesota, and for our nation as a whole. I support the use of a mandatory cap and trade system for carbon dioxide emissions. I also support expanded federal incentives for sustainable energy like wind, biomass, and biofuels.

We are learning daily about the effect of using food for fuel, from a sharp escalation in the price of corn masa in Mexico, used in making the food staple tortillas, to the draining of aquifers due to more intensive cultivation, and to questioning the wisdom of taking that last several inches of topsoil in many places and blowing it out our tailpipes. Substantial questions have also been raised about the conversion efficiency of biofuels, especially corn ethanol.

And while Bonhoff pays lip service to this issues on her website, the enviroment is not high on her list of priorities, based on this Chief Author List.

Spotty, these two guys are looking better and better!

I told you they would, grasshopper.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Why - I.

Gee, Spot. Jim Hovland and Jack Nelson Pallmeyer? That's kind of an odd couple, isn't it?

What do you mean grasshopper?

Well, Hovland is a self-described conservative Democrat; Nelson Pallmeyer is a taller Paul Wellstone with more hair.

Very funny grasshopper. But there are a couple of things in particular that the two have in common that impress Spot. First, on Iraq:

Both say we have a "moral obligation" to help Iraq, and that the way to do that is not through the use of our military, but rather reliance on international institutions. Listen to the first several minutes of Nelson Pallmeyer's response to a question about at Iraq at Drinking Liberally:

And here's Jim Hovland on the same subject:

As much as we are occupying Iraq, Iraq now is occupying us. Beyond building anti-American sentiment worldwide, the cost of this war has soared almost beyond comprehension. Pentagon prewar estimates stated that we could begin and end this war within months and with limited casualties for $50 billion. Nearly five years later the actual costs are still not predictably measurable.

. . .

As clear as it is that we no longer can use our military on an ill-fitting mission to police violent streets and prop up a paralyzed and dysfunctional government, it is equally clear that we must help repair what we can of damage done.

Since invading their country, we now have a moral obligation to the people of Iraq, a failed state of our creation, as Strobe Talbott of the Brookings Institution calls it. The question now is how to reverse course without leaving behind an unstable, devastated country and a people in economic and social ruin.

. . .

I’m not willing to commit any more Americans to George Bush’s war. With a new administration next year, I believe we will be able to start working with the international community to achieve a political [solution]. Before that, however, we must start to craft a plan allowing us to withdraw our troops to make way for security forces and humanitarian organizations whose expertise is rebuilding nations and begin the long process of creating stability and a functioning society in Iraq.

Contrast with Ashwin Madia:

Our best hope for a resolution to the Iraq war is for the U.S. to reduce its forces on a responsible timeline and to build a political solution to the country's problems. I propose withdrawing our forces over a period of 18-24 months, with a force of about 10,000-20,000 left in Iraq for three missions:

1. protecting U.S. State Department and USAID workers;
2. targeting high ranking members of Al-Qaeda; and
3. in conjunction with other nations, preventing ethnic cleansing.

Through these measures, I hope to bring about the best possible resolution to an incredibly complex and difficult situation.

He doesn't say if we'll ever actually, you know, leave.

And here's Bonhoff:

My first priority in Congress will be ending the war in Iraq and bringing our soldiers home. That is both my unwavering commitment and the lens through which I will evaluate proposed policy.

We are struggling with the complexities of this war and there are no easy solutions. We must stop arguing amongst ourselves as to the tactics, let go of the continual focus on the popular opinion polls and use the power of the office to turn the governing of Iraq over to where it belongs, the Iraqi people.

The highest level of direct communication must be used so pitfalls can be identified and solutions negotiated. Our soldiers are serving courageously and valiantly. Yet they are now caught in the middle of a civil war. They have served this country magnificently, but you can’t expect to win a political battle without a clear mission.

The status quo is unsustainable and our country has borne a tremendous cost. Withdrawal comes with a price as well. We must exit in a manner that will minimize casualties and chaos.

What utter word salad. At least she says we should get out, but she doesn't give us much of an approach for actually obtaining a stable Iraq.

Another issue where Nelson Pallmeyer and Hovland stand out is health care policy. As far as Spot can tell, none of the other candidates for either office proposes single-payer health care.

Here's what Terri Bonhoff, for example, says about health care:

Despite having the best quality of care in the world, the growing cost of health care is negatively affecting more and more families and businesses. We must work together to ensure every American – man, woman and child – has access to quality, affordable health care.

Rubbish. We do not have anywhere near the best health care outcomes in the world.

But it turns out, the US was in the middle of the pack for the majority of health issues that were compared.

Madia? Nope.

It's cool to talk about universal health care, but Hovland and Nelson Pallmeyer are the only ones talking about the reality of getting there. And it is quite interesting to Spot that Hovland justifies a single-payer system on business grounds, and Spot says that he is correct.

There is more to come, boys and girls.