Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Drinking Liberally tomorrow (Thursday)

The question for tomorrow evening is: "What would you ask of or say to a delegate at the Republican National Convention?"

Not that you are likely to get within a hundred yards of one, but never mind that.

Alternatively, as Anon I Moose mentions, this is the fifth anniversary of the "Mission Accomplished" speech by George Bush on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln. You could tell Bush for the camera what you think of the speech.

Same time, six to nine, same place, the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Freedom for the speech we hate

A lot of people aren't gonna like this one, Spotty.

Nevertheless, grasshopper.

From the Topeka Capital-Journal:

A federal judge in Maryland on Thursday ordered liens on the Westboro Baptist Church building and the Phelps-Chartered Law office.

If the case presided over by U.S. District Court Judge Richard D. Bennett is upheld by an appeals court, the church, at 3701 S.W. 12th, and the office building, at 1414 S.W. Topeka Blvd., could be obtained by the court and sold, with the proceeds being applied toward $5 million in damages Bennett imposed on church members for picketing a military funeral.

You all remember Fred Phelps and his merry band, don't you? The people who brought gay-bashing to a new low by picketing military funerals on the theory - which quite eludes Spot, frankly - that the tolerant attitude toward gays in the United States is getting our soldiers killed in Iraq. Pat Robertson says that gays attract hurricanes, which makes so much more sense. You can read more about the man in the white hat here.

Phelps and his church came to national attention when they picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay student at the University of Wyoming who was killed by a couple of homophobes that he met in a bar.

If you read the comments to the Capital-Journal article linked above, you will see that the commenters almost uniformly expressed satisfaction, perhaps even glee, that Phelps & Co. may take it in the shorts. There is certainly a part of Spot that feels that way.

However. Banning hate speech is a dubious proposition, and a dangerous one for the civil libertarian.

The leading case in this area is still Brandenburg v. Ohio, decided by the Supreme Court in 1969. In that case, a unanimous court reversed the conviction of a Ku Klux Klan member who was tried and convicted for saying:

I believe the nigger should be returned to Africa, and the Jew returned to Israel.

But Spotty, that was a criminal case. Here, the father of a dead soldier got a judgment for the intentional inflection of mental distress, no conviction was involved!

Good observation, grasshopper, but the First Amendment will protect the speech either way. Do you remember discussing N.Y. Times v. Sullivan with Spot before?

Isn't that the case where a city official in Alabama sued the New York Times for libel and won a judgment because some of the things in an ad taken out by civil rights groups had some factual errors in them? And the official claimed that it damaged his reputation?

Yes, and?

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Alabama libel law unconstitutionally infringed freedom of speech because the prospect of a large award by a Southern jury against a newspaper would chill the newspaper's discussion of the conduct of public officials?

That's right. The Court held that a libel plaintiff, if he was a public official, would have to show that the newspaper acted maliciously. Parenthetically, boys and girls, Times against Sullivan is one of the very important reasons why Martin Luther King's non-violent civil disobedience could be so effective. Northern media could show Southern blacks being attacked with fire hoses, dogs, and clubs without fear of reprisal. The Civil Rights of 1964 and the Voting Right Act of 1965 are part of the legacy of the courageous reporting of the New York Times and Times against Sullivan.

But Spot digresses. What did the Supreme Court do in the Times case?

It placed limits on the reach of state tort law in order to protect free speech.

You are so smart sometimes, grasshopper, that it just takes Spot's breath away. A similar result might be expected here, saving Fred Phelps' unworthy bacon. It certainly isn't clear to Spot that Phelps & Co. were trespassing or otherwise disturbing the peace in the sense of creating an immediate incitement to violence, other than maybe by the counter-protesters, which doesn't really count.

We have to put up with a lot in the name of free speech in this country. In a lot of places, being a Holocaust denier can land you in prison. But we tolerate that, and, so far, we also protect the burning of Old Glory as symbolic protest speech.

What do you think, boys and girls? Should mangy ol' Fred have to disgorge everything because he says stupid and unpopular things?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Seems to us here at the Cucking Stool that if a political organization has the wherewithal and resources to take on board any number off auditor/accountant sleuths to comb through the financial dealings of its opponents and scream bloody murder at what it finds, it might want to consider turning those same inquisitive minds on its own financial dealings.

But this is the Minnesota Republican Party we're talking about. You know, the one that is under investigation by the FEC for years of financial mismanagement. The same organization who retaliated against their own Finance Director who wrote a letter to the party's Executive Committee complaining about the party's accounting practices, including questions about whether employee retirement money was misappropriated and whether the party was - gasp! - guilty of tax evasion. The same organization that continues to file - over and over and over again - statements that it hasn't been able to sort through their own finances enough to figure out where all the money went. The same organization that has racked up legal fees as high as $17,000 in a single month trying to stay out of trouble. The same organization that has been the recipient of a whole series of FEC letters asking about why they can't keep track of their money. The same organization that has some pretty suspicious looking connections with the National Republican Party's favorite accused thief, Christopher Ward.

But once again, we're talking about the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Friday, April 25, 2008

This just in

Marmots are, in fact, rodents.

And it's pronounced just the way it's written: mar-mot. It is not mar-mo. It ain't a French rodent.

Update for Avidor: Check here, and scroll down to order.

Spot will be happy to hear this

In the long list of who's giving law school commencement addresses, no one thought to invite Professor John Yoo to give one.

He's your witness, Mr. Aplikowski

When we last left Andy Aplikowski, he was bemoaning the fact that he had received a citation for failing to control his dog, a hairy brute of doubtful provenance named "Lugnut."

I happen to have a little to say about this [dog legislation being considered] as Lugnut was a bad boy Sunday night. He got out and got into it with a dog which apparently lives behind me. The people called the City, saying my dog was dangerous, and I was issued a citation for a loose dog. No one was harmed, I’m not so sure what really happened but I’m just going to deal with it.

Andy decides to contest this manifestly unfair action by the jackbooted thugs at Animal Control. He pleads not guilty and represents himself at trial. Your faithful correspondent Spot is called by the prosecution as an expert witness on dog and owner relations. After his direct testimony damning Andy for his neglect, it is Andy's turn to cross examine Spot. We pick up the action there.

AA: Spotty, you say you're a dog, right?

J: That's Mr. Spot in the courtroom, please.

AA: [rolling his eyes] Ok, Mr. Spot, you say you're a dog.

S: No actually, Spot doesn't think he said that; he thought it was apparent.

J: Mr. Spot, will you knock off that third-person reference crap in my courtroom?

S: Oh, of course, Your Honor. Sp --, I'm sorry. And I'll stipulate that I am a dog.

AA: What?

J: It means you don't have to prove that he is a dog. That should lighten the load a little for you.

AA: Mr. Spot, have you even seen the defendant?

S: Well, I'm talking to him right now.

AA: I mean Lugnut.

S: Lugnut is not the defendant; you are.

AA: [rolling his eyes] Ok. Have you ever seen Lugnut?

S: Well I've seen pictures of him; he's a little unkempt I must say. He could use a trip to the groomer.

AA: Objection! Slander!

J: Overruled. I've seen the pictures, too. Lugnut is pretty mangy. In fact that will be one of my findings.

AA: Mr. Spot, if you've never seen Lugnut, how do you presume to judge him?

S: Your Honor, will you remind Mr. Aplikowski that we're - well you're - here to judge him, not Lugnut?

J: He's right, Mr. Aplikowski.

AA: Did you know that kids from the Sunday School at the church that abuts my house like to tease my dogs on Sunday morning?

S: I thought the incident in question took place on a Sunday night.

AA: It did. But don't you think that Lugnut was still worked up Sunday night over events that morning? He is a brooder.

S: I won't speculate about that. But I don't think it makes any difference.

AA: What? You don't think that an encounter with giggling children in the morning wasn't sufficient provocation for Lugnut to jump the fence that night and attack the neighbor dog?

S: As a species, we're not that complicated, Mr. Aplikowski. And the ordinance says no loose dogs, and you had one. Don't try to blame it on the children. The kids probably only teased, to use your word, Lugnut because he acted aggressively when they were around. Spot finds that children are uniformly friendly around Spot: all the petting and hugging can be a bother sometimes, but it's the price of celebrity, I guess.

AA: Well, what am I supposed to do about the kids?

S: One simple thing would be to keep him in the house on Sunday mornings. It's only one morning a week. That would seem like the neighborly thing to do anyway; barking at churchgoers isn't very civilized.

AA: But it's my yard, and Lugnut's, too!

S: Indeed it is. But when Lugnut hurls himself over the fence and picks a fight with his neighbor, that's not in his yard, is it?

AA: Your Honor, do I have to answer that?

J: No. It was sort of a rhetorical question. The point was made without your answer.

AA: This witness is a waste of time. I call myself as a witness.

J: Not yet, Mr. Aplikowski. The prosecution has one more witness. Bailiff, will you bring in Mr. Lugnut from the hallway?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Drinking Liberally tonight!

Continuing the salon discussion of what it means to be a citizen and what you'll be doing during the Republican National Convention, Drinking Liberally will meet tonight at its usual place, the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis. Meeting time is six to nine.

The Eagle's Nest?

Word now arrives at the doghouse that Fightin' Joe Repya has a blog. He calls it The Eagle's Nest. It's kind of a regrettable name.

Why do you say that, Spot?

Well, grasshopper, here's the real, or at least historical, Eagle's Nest:

Ooh, that is a bad association.

Well, never mind grasshopper; we'll let Joe fight it out on the battlefield of ideas.

Just be sure, Joe, that you never go into a battle of wits lightly armed!

Spot did notice one thing, though. In the posting Joe has done so far, Spot found only one link, to a letter to the editor in the Strib that he was going to criticize. Yet, the posts are full of Iraq cheerleading and references to what Joe undoubtedly likes to call "the facts on the ground."

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Welcome to the pantheon

The Uptake won a City Pages "Best" award this year for the Best Citizen-Based Media Outlet. Congratulations on the award; it is well deserved.

Spotty you won an award last year from City Pages for the Best Liberal Political blog, didn't you?

Why yes, grasshopper, now that you mention it, The Cucking Stool did. There's a little badge on the right-hand column with a link to the award. It's nice of you to remember.

Who won in that category this year, Spotty?

As far as Spot can tell, grasshopper, nobody won in the category. Apparently after The Cucking Stool won last year, the editors saw little point in continuing the competition.

Nick Coleman got the award for Best Columnist which is richly deserved. As the City Pages editors observe, he cut Carol Molnau into bite-sized serving pieces almost too often to count.

Dumb ol' Jimmy Carter

Steve Sack, the usually perceptive cartoonist at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, drew this one for the paper today:

Yeah, Spotty, what was that old guy thinking, talking to Hamas and urging it to consider peace with Israel? Boy, the nerve of some people.

Sack was probably picking up on remarks by America's Warrior Princess, Condi Rice:

“We wanted to make sure there would be no confusion and there would be no sense that Hamas was somehow a party to peace negotiations" between Israel and more moderate Palestinians, said Ms. Rice, speaking on the margins of an international meeting here on aid to Iraq.

Making peace is our job, Spotty! We're so good at it!

We are, aren't we, grasshopper? Anyway, Spot will say in Carter's defense that his recollection of the conversation with the State Department about meeting with Hamas went a little differently:

"No one in the State Department or any other department of the U.S. government ever asked him (Carter) to refrain from his recent visit to the Middle East or even suggested that he not meet with Syrian President (Bashar) Assad or leaders of Hamas," said a statement released by the Atlanta-based Carter Center, which speaks on the former president's behalf.

Sadly, the AWP apparently missed a couple of days at diplomacy school when some Very Important Stuff was discussed.

Like what, Spotty?

That you don't get to pick your adversaries, for one thing. You have to deal with the one that's there, not your idealized view of the perfect pushover adversary. Spot wishes he had a nickel for every time Israel, or some blind supporter of it, said, "We don't negotiate with terrorists," or "Arafat is not a partner for peace." He wouldn't have to write this blog.

You don't make any money on this blog, Spot. You don't even accept advertising.

Oh, right. He'd still like the money. But Spot digresses.

Before you go off and make extravagant statements about who you will or will not talk to, you'd better be sure that you're prepared to deal with the consequences of not talking to somebody. If you insist on total surrender, you'd better be able to get it.

We have a pretty good object lesson in this from the war in Iraq. For a long time, the administration's position was that we were just going to whip the Sunni insurgency. When it became clear that strategy wasn't going to work, somebody got the bright idea of co-opting some of the insurgency to our side, and the Sunni Awakening was born. We talked to the enemy. We now find ourselves in the awkward position of funding and arming Sunni militias that are not part of the government in Iraq, but the principle is still illustrative.

Grasshopper, what do you think the likelihood is that Hamas can be stamped out?

Well, since Hamas is the popularly-elected government of the Palestinians, and since it's a guerilla movement, probably not very great.

Right, grasshopper. Better to talk to Hamas. Which brings Spot to his second point.

In the terrorism department, the Palestinians have learned from some of the best.

The Jewish Zealots

More than 2,000 years ago the first known acts of what we now call terrorism were perpetrated by a radical offshoot of the Zealots, a Jewish sect active in Judea during the 1st century ad. The Zealots resisted the Roman Empire's rule of what is today Israel through a determined campaign primarily involving assassination. Zealot fighters used the sica, a primitive dagger, to attack their enemies in broad daylight, often in crowded market places or on feast days—essentially wherever there were people to witness the violence. Thus, like modern terrorists, the Zealots intended their actions to communicate a message to a wider target audience: in this instance, the Roman occupation forces and any Jews who sympathized or collaborated with the invaders.

July 2, 1946: The King David Hotel in Jerusalem was bombed, killing 91 people

Menachem Begin, who was later awarded the Nobel Prize for peace, is the same man who planned the destruction of the King David Hotel and the massacre of Deir Yassin. Ex prime minister, Shamir, was originally a member of the Jewish terrorist gang called Irgun, which was headed by none other than Menachem Begin. Shamir later moved over to the even more radical "Stern Gang," which committed many vicious atrocities.
Shamir himself has defended the various assassinations committed by the Irgun and Stern gangs on the grounds that "it was the only way we could operate, because we were so small. So it was more efficient and more moral to go for selected targets." The selected moral targets in those early days of the founding of the state of Israel included bombing of the King David Hotel and the massacre of Deir Yassin. [italics are Spot's]

April 9, 1948

A combined force of Irgun and Stern Gangs committed a brutal massacre of 260 Arab residents of the village of Deir Yassin. Most of whom were women and children. The Israeli hordes even attacked the dead to satisfy their bestial tendencies. In April, 1954, during Holy Week, and on the eve of Easter, The Christian cemeteries in Haifa were invaded, crosses broken down and trampled under the feet of these miscreants, and the tombs desecrated. The Israeli military conquest, therefore was made against a defenseless people, who had been softened up by such earlier massacres as Deir Yasin (where 250 Arabs; men, women and children were massacred).

When "terrorism" is committed by the weak and dispossessed against their oppressors, and it's by a guerilla movement with popular support, it is virtually impossible to stamp out. History is littered with examples of this. The AWP must have missed that day, too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

More evidence of American exceptionalism

Alternate title: We're number one!

Here's the lede from an article that Spot saw on Tuesday night in the online New York Times:

The United States has less than 5 percent of the world’s population. But it has almost a quarter of the world’s prisoners.

Indeed, the United States leads the world in producing prisoners, a reflection of a relatively recent and now entirely distinctive American approach to crime and punishment. Americans are locked up for crimes — from writing bad checks to using drugs — that would rarely produce prison sentences in other countries. And in particular they are kept incarcerated far longer than prisoners in other nations.

George Bush has told us since 9/11 what good people we are, Spot. What gives?

That's a great question, grasshopper. The answer has a lot of people puzzled. Here's what the reporter at the NYT, Adam Liptak, says:

Criminologists and legal scholars in other industrialized nations say they are mystified and appalled by the number and length of American prison sentences.

The United States has, for instance, 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation, according to data maintained by the International Center for Prison Studies at King’s College London.

China, which is four times more populous than the United States, is a distant second, with 1.6 million people in prison. (That number excludes hundreds of thousands of people held in administrative detention, most of them in China’s extrajudicial system of re-education through labor, which often singles out political activists who have not committed crimes.)

Even those civil libertarians, the Russians, are mere pikers compared to us:

The United States comes in first, too, on a more meaningful list from the prison studies center, the one ranked in order of the incarceration rates. It has 751 people in prison or jail for every 100,000 in population. (If you count only adults, one in 100 Americans is locked up.)

The only other major industrialized nation that even comes close is Russia, with 627 prisoners for every 100,000 people. The others have much lower rates. England’s rate is 151; Germany’s is 88; and Japan’s is 63.

The median among all nations is about 125, roughly a sixth of the American rate.

Gosh, Spotty, that means that every day, several of your readers are behind bars!

No, Spot doesn't think you can draw that conclusion, grasshopper, but it's a sobering thought. In addition to Russia and China, think of all the other Shangri-Las that the US had to beat out for the title: Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Myanmar, Kazakhstan; it's truly impressive.

According to the article, this is a fairly recent phenomenon, too, extending back only to the last quarter of the twentieth century.

It seems that we are neither as free as we thought, nor as brave as we thought if we think we have to lock all these people us to keep the rest of us safe. And Moose, this is certainly one of those growth areas in government you've been complaining about.

So that's why he wasn't at the Taxpayer Rights rally

Minnesota's most God-loving tax cheat and former fugitive has been busy. In addition to representing himself in his tax evasion trial starting this week, there appears to be some evidence of a plot he's been orchestrating in an effort to terrorize the federal judge presiding over the case:
Beale told his common-law wife, Mun Suk Kim, in an April 3 conversation that God wants him to "destroy the judge. That judge is evil. He wants me to get rid of her."

Mr. Beale, Cucking Stool readers will recall, is one of the early funders of World Net Daily and is the father of Vox Day.

More later as the details emerge.

The timid Malthusian

In his column yesterday, Paul Krugman - whose column Spot really likes, by the way, at least most of the time - said there were three competing views of the current economic situation:

  1. The current run up in oil prices, and hence everything else, is just fueled by speculation. The bubble will burst and things will settle down.
  2. Fundamentals are at play here: increased demand from China and India, etc., but we'll drill more and plant more and everything will be fine.
  3. Jeebus Christmas! We're running out of stuff!

Krugman says that his view is somewhere between 2 and 3 above. Spot thinks this is the most alarmist that Krugman has ever been. People like James Kunstler, writing about the Peak Oil phenomenon in The Long Emergency, have been saying for some time that we're in the number 3 scenario.

Remember not so many months ago when it was the consensus opinion of "leading" economists that it was unlikely that the US would even go into recession in 2008? The paradigm seems to be shifting, and fairly quickly.

Oh Spot, that's such a dated thing to say!




Monday, April 21, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

I made me all by myself

Last Saturday, there was the annual Minnesota Taxpayers' League piss and moan session on the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol Building. It was a cold day, but the exhaust from the speakers, including Chris Baker, Jason Lewis and Michele Bachmann, kept everyone warm, if not dry. It was the usual run of buster and bile, with a special dollop of invective reserved for the six Republican representatives who voted with the DFL to override the governor's veto of transportation bill. Since Spot was not there, he doesn't know if Jason and Michele conducted a formal excommunication ceremony. Probably.

Jason and Michele had a little pep rally on Friday in advance of the main event. (A thump of the tail to Charlie for the Dump Bachmann link.)

The boys and girls over at The Uptake put up a little video in response to the rally explaining the real incidence of taxes, all as explained by Growth and Justice's Angela Eilers:

Angela talks about the most recent Minnesota Department of Revenue tax incidence report that shows that high income people pay a smaller percentage of their income in total burden than the middle class.

Oh, Spot, that must be some kind of liberal voodoo!

By Governor Pepsodent's Department of Revenue? Spot doesn't think so, grasshopper.

Anyway, the conservatives get all lathered up when they talk about "letting taxpayers keep their own money" and railing against "redistribution of income." But what a just tax policy should be about is making sure that taxpayers pay their fair share. A progressive tax system is most definitely not just "soaking the rich."

Regrettably, it often gets framed that way, even by candidates would be better off appealing to people's sense of equity.

Spot has written, maybe many times by now, about how the government services - state services, but federal services, too - are far more valuable to wealthy people than poor people. Take health care for example. The government spends a lot of money on the Centers for Disease Control; the advances in science and medicine that it makes are more valuable to those people who have health insurance to take advantage of them.

Police protection is more valuable to people with property than people without it.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is obviously more valuable to people with, well, capital. The same is true of banking regulation and insurance. Even Warren Buffet agrees with Spot that it takes a village to make a millionaire:

"I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I've earned."

At least everybody gets the same deal in being protected by our armed forces, right Spotty?

Well grasshopper, read this quote by Major General Smedley D. Butler, USMC:

I spend 33 years in the Marines, most of my time being a high-class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism.

Maj. General Butler, by the way, was a two-time Medal of Honor winner. Butler also testified in front of the US Congress in 1934 about the so-called Business Plot, a plan by wealthy business interests to overthrow the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. Butler was approached about being involved in the plot.

The bilious fools Chris Baker and Jason Lewis each moved to Minnesota from their radio gigs in low tax Texas and North Carolina, respectively. If this is a such a terrible place to live, Spot invites them to move on back to where they came from.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Etymology for Saturday

E. Cobham Brewer 1810–1897. Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898.

Cucking-stool (The)

or Choking-stool, for ducking scolds, is not connected with choke (to stifle), but the French choquer; hence the archiac verb cuck (to throw), and one still in use, chuck (chuck-farthing). The cucking-stool is the stool which is chucked or thrown into the water.

“Now, if one cucking-stool was for each scold,
Some towns, I fear, would not their numbers hold.”

Poor Robin (1746).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ein Völker


We got a lot of folks from different backgrounds and different states, all of whom were talking about the effects of the pro-growth economic package that was passed by the Congress and how that package is causing them to make capital investments that they might not have made in the year 2008.


And I just want the folks to know what I told the Taoiseach is true, that the United States will continue to stay engaged and will be very supportive of helping the process move forward.


I also congratulate the Prime Minister on having a 16 percent flat tax. I'm a little envious. I would like to have been able to achieve the same objective for our tax code, and it was a smart thing to get done, because I think those kinds of policies will enable the Romanian folks to have a bright future.

or even:

Why don't I start out with Israel, because it's freshest and most recent. I think I had good sessions all the way around. A lot of the folks I've known a long time. I've known Ehud Olmert since he was mayor of Jerusalem. We used to attend together the Jerry Ford conference in Beaver Creek, Colorado, under AEI auspices every June.

If you go over to the White House website, you can find nearly 2000 references by the President or some other administration official referring to "folks."

Now, consider this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all folks are created equal . . .


We the folks of the United States . . .


. . . that government of the folks, by the folks, and for the folks shall not perish . . .

It's kind of chilling, isn't it?

This is not just a matter of the incapacity of the folks in the current administration to employ a little more soaring rhetoric. Rather, it is as Susan Jacoby suggests in her new book, The Age of American Unreason, a diminutive for referring to people, or citizens. Folks aren't expected to think hard thoughts the way citizens are.

Folks implies an Orwellian animal clubiness, a rathskeller assemblage of smiling rustics, or the rallying around the security of the homeland, or is it the Fatherland? It is part of the anti-intellectual forces that have roamed the land for most of Spot's adult life.

It is part of the same crap that permits Hillary Clinton and John McCain, both raised in privilege, to call Barack Obama, raised by a single mother and grandparents, elitist.

When George Bush, or Dick Cheney, or any of the other administration flacks call you folks, people, it is not because they're your chums and they want to have a beer with you. No, it's because they want you to turn your civil liberties and your responsibilities as a thinking citizen over to them.

Drinking Liberally tonight (Thursday)

We will meet at the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis from about six to nine.

No formal program, but Spot may bring a video camera and interview some of you about what you think a democracy really is, what you believe are your duties as a citizen, your view of the role of the media, and what you'll be doing during the Republican Convention late this summer.

It might be a chance for you to use up a few of your fifteen minutes of fame for a video project sponsored by The Uptake.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Singing in the rain!

Alternate title: Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!

The last scene in The Life of Brian:

And so says Katie "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" Kersten today!

Minnesotans are facing real economic challenges, and there's some justification [Katie really works up a passion for things sometimes] for both private and government efforts to soften the sharp edges.

But before we declare an economic emergency and demand a "New Deal" for the new millennium, let's remember a classic American resource that was in ample supply 75 years ago, when unemployment was not 5.1 percent, but 25 percent.

Hey, that's great Spotty! I didn't know we had a classic American resource that was going to get us out of this economic jam. Will it work in Iraq, too? What's the resource?

Katie wants us to look at the glass as half full.

You're kidding, right?

No, Spot is not kidding.

Maybe Katie lives in the half of the glass that's full!

That's a good way to look at it, grasshopper. And undoubtedly true.

Katie goes on to wax nostalgic about the hardships endured by her parents and grandparents:

If you know people who grew up in the Great Depression and started adult life in the 1940s, you've heard about this resource. It was an attitude, a set of expectations -- the "glass half full" view of life.

I learned something about it from a practical joker and his wife -- John and Jeanne Kersten of Fairfield, Calif.,  my mom and dad.

The intrepid Kersten duo made its way east, miraculously avoiding the stampede of Iowans leaving for California at the time, finally to Fort Dodge, Iowa where Katie grew up.

Boy, I'll bet Katie endured some hardship, too, Spotty!

Yes, of course, grasshopper. Apparently she had to share a bedroom.

Oh, that's awful!

Yes, but just imagine what it was like for her siblings!

[whistling] Now there's hardship, Spotty.


Katie, like a lot of conservatives, especially boomer conservatives, channels the experience of her parents or theirs and thinks that she somehow lived those experiences herself. As a result of having experienced - even vicariously - hardship, Katie thinks she is entitled to preach on optimism, thrift, and sacrifice. Not Katie's sacrifice, naturally. That's only good for other people.

Governor Pepsodent is another one just like Katie. He likes to bring up his working class roots, but his was not a life of unremitting toil; it was his dad's.

Both Katie and Pepsodent are perfect examples of the unempathetic little scrubs that infest the Republican party today.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer was on Midday today at eleven. You can hear the program here. Among other things, JNP expressed his eagerness to debate with Al Franken.

A classy ending

Here is Terri Bonoff's concession speech from the DFL Third District Congressional Convention last Saturday. Behind Terri you can see her husband, one of her children, and her campaign manager. The stage was full of red-shirted people, many of them misty eyed.

Bonoff made a call to those assembled to unite to win the general election in the fall.

Ashwin Madia made a great acceptance speech, too, which you can see here.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sorry, Big E

Eric Pusey raises the question Why is Ron Erhardt attending DFL conventions?

Last Saturday, I saw Rep. Ron Erhardt (R-Bloomington) at the MN-03 convention. This is the second time I've seen him at a DFL event since the budget override. He also attended the SD41 convention at Bloomington Kennedy High School. I saw him talking to DFL Party Chair Brian Melendez last Saturday. What do y'all think they were chatting about? The weather?

It's a little late for Ron to defect as we have an endorsed candidate Kevin Staunton running against whoever wins the Republican primary ... if Ron's still going to run. Obviously, Brian wants DFLers to win in every district and would never do anything to weaken any DFLers chances, but I would love to be a fly on the wall if they two of them ever did meet for coffee or something like that.

Eric is going to draw some flak from an unexpected quarter here, but sigh, so be it.

First, that's Ron Erhardt (R-Cakeville), not Bloomington. Ron has represented Edina, or at least most of it, for nine terms. He is the second-most senior Republican in the Minnesota House, eclipsed only by Dennis Ozment who is retiring at the end of the term. Ron is a popular legislator who has represented the area since a lot of your readers were in middle school, Eric.

Ron Erhardt is the last pro-choice Republican in the Minnesota House. He has consistently voted against the anti-gay marriage amendment foolishness, and he is also an unwavering opponent of the gun lobby's agenda, including conceal and carry. Ron has been a thorn in the side of the likes of Governor Pepsodent, Steve Sviggum, Marty Seifert, and Michele Bachmann for a very long time. He's been in favor of a gas tax increase for many years.

Taking the vote he did to override the governor's veto of the transportation bill on the eve of the Republican endorsing convention in SD 41 was an act of considerable political courage. Erhardt knew he had a challenger for the endorsement, but he voted the way he did anyway.

Ron does not deserve the abuse you imply.

Second, Eric, you don't have a DFL endorsee in 41A: Spot does. Ron Erhardt running in the Republican primary or as an independent is a formidable opponent who would have a lot of appeal to DFLers who have known him for years.

Third, this is America, not Afghanistan. We do not make women, party officials, or anybody else wear burqas and avoid contact with unrelated persons. Brian Melendez can chat amiably - and in public - with Ron Erhardt or anyone else he chooses, and it is hardly a source of gossip or innuendo.

A few days ago, Avidor sent Spotty an image of the poster that was going to be handed out at the Taxpayers' League rally at the Capitol last Saturday. It is emblematic of the vitriol that has been directed at Erhardt by a party that he must hardly recognize anymore.

Al Franken on Midday - 4/14/08

Al Franken was interviewed on Midday at eleven o'clock today. You can listen here.

At about 19:20, a caller named "Michael" asked Al, given the fact that Al's corporation had incurred a penalty for unpaid workers' compensation in New York recently, how could he be trusted to make laws in the Senate?

Spotty, wasn't that the unemployed Republican political operative Michael Brodkorb?

Yes, grasshopper it was Michael Brodkorb. But remember, he just says that he is not employed by any candidate or the Republican party.

I guess he was taking an early lunch so that he was on break when he called in to MPR to gig Al. What was it, about eleven thirty or so?

That's about right, grasshopper.

Gosh, Spotty, Mr. Brodkorb is really good about doing this stuff on his own time, isn't he?

Yes, he is, grasshopper.

Al also got two questions about dodging debates with Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer. The first one was by host Gary Eichten right at the beginning of the program, and the second was an email question read at about 39:00.

Al did say, in response to the second question, and rather grudgingly, Spot thought, that he would debate Jack in advance of the convention!

Spot has been harping on this for some time, and just for old time's sake, here's a little video he made urging Al to debate:

Jack, incidentally, will be on MPR tomorrow's Midday program: same time, eleven o'clock.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Like no one saw this coming

Charter school getting threats for Islamic ties
An Inver Grove Heights charter school has received harassing and threatening calls in the wake of accusations that it blurs the line between religion and state by promoting Islam, the school's director said Friday.

The city's police are investigating and will put extra patrols in the area as a precaution, Police Chief Chuck Kleckner said. He said the school's director contacted the police Friday morning.

* * *

The school came under fire last month after Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten questioned whether TIZA, which receives public money, promotes the Muslim faith.

Well, it not only was the subject of a Kersten column last month, she went after it again on Wednesday of this week, and on Thursday she piled on a tlevison report about their lack of an American flag.

Of course Katie can't be held responsible for the acts of her readers. But when we once again see the flying monkeys of the right wing attack machine stalk and threaten children, advocate gunning down protesters in St. Paul and mail fake anthrax letters to prominent liberals in sick attempts to join the club, we can't help but ask ourselves when the vitriol whipped up by the likes of Kersten, Malkin, and Coulter starts to swerve into Radio Rwanda territory.

"Kindly tell us when you renewed your anti-Soviet criminal activity"

Don Siegelman

Georgia Thompson

Joseph Nacchio

The ACORN indictments

Dr. Cyril Wecht

Justice Oliver Diaz, Jr. and Paul Minor

Scott Horton recently reminded us of the role model here:
As every good Communist knows, justice is a tool of the class and of the party. It is used to bolster the party and its political control over the state. Individuals may therefore be prosecuted because they presented a threat to the rule of the party, or simply because it is politically expedient to do so.

More here.

(Title courtesy of Andrey Vyshinsky)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Al Franken: cybersquatter?

What is it, grasshopper?

Well, I was doing some Google searching about Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer for some, um, extra credit, and I found these:

That's nice, grasshopper.

But it's where they take you that's important, Spotty!


Yeah. If you click on either one of those links, they take you to Al Franken's senate campaign web site.

You're right, grasshopper! That's a good catch. Tell Spot who did this.

That's the funny thing, Spot. If you do a WHOIS search on either one of them, the owner comes up as a dummy registrant: WhoisGuard Protected.

Maybe that's his name, grasshopper.

You think?

No, of course not.

Some day we'll have a lecture about campaign pranks. Maybe we'll even get Michael Brodkorb in as a guest speaker! Or, we could get the person who pulled this stunt. Grasshopper, why don't you ask Al Franken if it was somebody associated with his campaign?

Hey Al Franken! Did somebody associated with your campaign do this?

Nice column, Katie

[walking up and sitting on the corner of her desk in the newsroom] That was a nice column on Wednesday, Katie.

[looking up, startled] Really? Oh, I mean, thank you. I liked it, too, Mr. Tice. I did some digging to get that information about that Muslim school operating right under our noses!

Well, let's not get carried away. I know that you got that tip dropped in your lap by a recent College Republican chair at Winona State:

In the fall of 2005 [Amanda Getz] was elected Chair of the Winona College Republicans and was recently appointed as Vice Chair South.

I hardly think that matters!

I suppose not. Let me ask you, though, have you ever had a source or interviewed somebody who wasn't a Republican?

I'm sure that I have.

Okay, whatever. But you see, here's the deal. You got the ACLU of Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Education to look into this school for mixing religion and public dollars. The former I can sort of understand, but the latter is downright amazing.

Yeah, that was cool, wasn't it?

I suggest that you expand this into a real, well, crusade.

What do you mean?

There are lots of other charter schools that have a pretty obvious religious connection: Ascension Academy, New Visions, Higher Ground, New Spirit Primary, New Spirit Middle, the list goes on.

[looking up, shaken] But that's clearly different, Mr. Tice!

Oh, how?

Those sound like Christian schools.

I see your point. Never mind.

Update: A belated thump of the tail to Ollie Ox at A Bluestem Prairie.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Did you ever have to finally decide?

In the words of those philosopher kings from Spot's youth, the Lovin' Spoonful:

Did you ever have to make up your mind,
To pick up on one and leave the other behind?
It's not often easy, and not often kind;
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

Spot stuck his cold, wet nose in the Third Congressional District campaign for the DFL endorsement, but he's been quiet about it since Spot's guy dropped out of the race.

Until now.

Spot would be really happy to be represented by either Terri Bonoff or Ashwin Madia, especially when compared to the Republican offering, Erik "you kids get off my lawn" Paulsen.

But Spot thinks he would be better represented by Terri Bonoff. Spot endorses her for the DFL, er, endorsement and for Jim Ramstad's seat in Congress.


Having talked with them each multiple times, Spot believes that Terri is deeper on a couple of policy issues that are important to Spot: transportation and education. This flows perhaps naturally from Terri's committee assignments and work in the Minnesota Senate. She speaks knowledgeably and impressively about federal - state relations in these areas, especially when it comes to funding.

There is no question in Spot's mind that Terri can do a better job of sticking up for the District.

Terri is also more committed to getting out of Iraq sooner rather than later than Ash Madia is.

As an incumbent state senator, Terri Bonoff has been at a distinct disadvantage in the short campaign since Jim Ramstad announced his retirement. That's especially true since the legislature went back into session; she simply hasn't had the time to campaign that Ash Madia has had and represent her district, too. It has undoubtedly affected the time she has had to prepare, and to practice her speech making, too.

For example, she had to cancel an appearance at Drinking Liberally last week to stay and vote on amendments to what ultimately became the budget bill.

Which bring Spot to Steve Perry's snotty piece at Minnesota Monitor this afternoon. Perry cribs extensively from the carnival barker Michael Brodkorb in saying that Terri Bonoff's speaking style will cause her to lose the endorsement.

How many times the soothsayer Perry has actually heard Terri, he doesn't say. But Perry's little hit piece on the eve of the convention and parroting the Republican apparatchik Brodkorb ought to be dismissed the way you'd scrape doggy doo off your shoe.

Drinking Liberally tonight, well maybe

UPDATE: No Drinking Liberally tonight. That is all. Carry on.

Be sure to check the WCCO crawler for the latest information. (Kidding)

If the weather cooperates enough to permit DL tonight, remember that the regular time is six to nine, and the place is the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis.

No candidate or other speaker lined up, but if you come, you may be able to see Spot and Hairy Truman execute an intricate pas de deux on their way to and from the mens' room.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Compare and contrast

Boys and girls, Spot wants you to go to The Uptake and see the convention stump speeches of Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer and Al Franken. See which one moves you.

Spot, you shot the JNP one, didn't you?

Yes, grasshopper, Spot did.

The faithful sailor

On Tuesday, Scott Horton at the blog No Comment told again the story of the Navy's Lieutenant Commander Matthew Diaz, who served his country as a staff judge advocate at Guantánamo. Diaz was confronted with a moral dilemma: obey and uphold the chain of command or obey international humanitarian law. He chose the latter and has paid a heavy price for it. Here's how Horton describes it:

Matthew Diaz served his country as a staff judge advocate at Guantánamo. He watched a shameless assault on America’s Constitution and commitment to the rule of law carried out by the Bush Administration. He watched the introduction of a system of cruel torture and abuse. He watched the shaming of the nation’s uniformed services, with their proud traditions that formed the very basis of the standards of humanitarian law, now torn asunder through the lawless acts of the Executive. Matthew Diaz found himself in a precarious position—as a uniformed officer, he was bound to follow his command. As a licensed and qualified attorney, he was bound to uphold the law. And these things were indubitably at odds.

Diaz resolved to do something about it. He knew the Supreme Court twice ruled the Guantánamo regime, which he was under orders to uphold, was unlawful. In the Hamdan decision, the Court went a step further. In powerful and extraordinary words, Justice Kennedy reminded the Administration that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions was binding upon them, and that a violation could constitute a criminal act. One senior member of the Bush legal team, informed of the decision over lunch, was reported to have turned “white as a sheet” and to have immediately excused himself. For the following months, Bush Administration lawyers entered into a frenzied discussion of how to protect themselves from criminal prosecution.

Diaz talked about it. Here's what happened:

Diaz was charged, tried and convicted for disclosing “secrets.” For the Bush Administration, any information which would be politically embarrassing or harmful to it is routinely classified “secret.” In this fashion the Administration believes it can use criminal sanctions against those who disclose information it believes will be politically damaging. The list of detainees at Guantánamo, which by law was required to be disclosed, was classified as “secret.”

Diaz spent six months in prison and left it bankrupt and without a job. In addition to his sentence, the Pentagon is working aggressively to have Diaz stripped of his law license so he will not be able to practice his profession. The Bush Administration has sought to criminalize, humiliate and destroy Diaz. Its motivation could not be clearer: Diaz struck a blow for the rule of law. And nothing could be more threatening to the Bush Administration than this.

Diaz was recognized for his courage to speak out:

On Thursday in the National Press Club in Washington, a crowd gathered to witness the presentation of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling to Lieutenant Commander Matthew Diaz.

You can read Horton's entire post at the link above, boys and girls. Spot urges you to do so. You can read Horton's contrast of Matthew Diaz with the author of the "torture memo," John Yoo. Perhaps for Spot's purpose, however, the most important paragraph is the highlighted one. This is the view of everyone, really, that Spot knows, save one.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Outside agitator!

Spot had never heard of this skin-headed, jack-booted radio thug before before Avidor, Andy Birkey, and Coleen Rowley got Spot's attention.

Wow! Who is this guy, Spot?

Let's let Andy Birkey, writing at Minnesota Monitor, tell us:

The Twin Cities' newest conservative talk show host has an idea for managing the thousands of protesters coming to the Republican National Convention in St. Paul in September: machine guns.

Chris Baker, formerly a talk radio host in Houston, took over the morning spot on KTLK in early March. On Friday, he took issue with the debate among Minneapolis law enforcement personnel as to whether police should limit the use of Tasers and pepper spray on protesters in Minneapolis (link to audio file). Baker's suggestion is violent suppression of what he calls "stinky protesters" that are part of "an industry funded by billionaires and communist organizations (and) they are well-coordinated and incredibly dangerous."

Baker continued: "So we've been talking about police protection during the upcoming convention when all those stinky protesters are coming. There seems to be a big debate over whether or not police officers will be able to wear helmets, carry shields, use pepper spray and Tasers on this crowd. You know, I'll tell you what works on a crowd like this -- a machine gun, that always works very well." [italics are Spot's]

Andy continues, quoting Baker:

"You must have order, you cannot have a civilized society without order and if that means cracking a few skulls, so be it," said Baker. "A good ole boy network is what you need and hand out some ax handles."

Peace advocate and former FBI agent Coleen Rowley heard the violent rhetoric on Friday. "It doesn't take an expert on the First Amendment to recognize that suggesting the 'good ol' boy network' hand out ax handles and machine guns be used to mow a crowd down comes close to inciting violence," she wrote at the Huffington Post. "This inflammatory rhetoric looks no different than the reason we are not allowed to falsely yell 'fire' in a crowded theater."

Spot thinks because Baker spoke these words last week, and the convention isn't until late in the summer, his rant is probably protected by the First Amendment, in that it doesn't have the necessary quality of immediate incitement necessary for a criminal offense. During the convention, or in the immediate run up to it? Well, that would be a different thing.

Ironically enough, Baker is probably protected by the same thing that will allow peaceful protest during the convention, and the thing that permits Spot to say that he thinks Baker is a skin-headed, jack-booted thug!

Chris Baker has had a promising career in radio ever since he caught that break working for Radio Rwanda.

You made that up, didn't you, Spot?

Yes, grasshopper.

Monday, April 07, 2008

One man wrecking ball

Alternate title: John Yoo - the gift that keeps on giving

Spot and many other commentators have discussed John Yoo's torture memo. The memo contains in footnote ten a reference to another memo authored by John Yoo - and Robert Delahunty - about the application of the Fourth Amendment to "domestic military operations":

[The entire Yoo memo is linked in the link above.]

Here's what the Associated Press said about the footnote and the memorandum referred to in it:

WASHINGTON — For at least 16 months after the Sept. 11 terror attacks in 2001, the Bush administration believed that the Constitution's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures on U.S. soil didn't apply to its efforts to protect against terrorism.

That view was expressed in a secret Justice Department legal memo dated Oct. 23, 2001. The administration on Wednesday stressed that it now disavows that view.

The October 2001 memo was written at the request of the White House by John Yoo, then the deputy assistant attorney general, and addressed to Alberto Gonzales, the White House counsel at the time. The administration had asked the department for an opinion on the legality of potential responses to terrorist activity.

The 37-page memo is classified and has not been released. Its existence was disclosed Tuesday in a footnote of a separate secret memo, dated March 14, 2003, released by the Pentagon in response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

This earlier memorandum apparently gave the go ahead for the NSA's warrantless wiretap program:

Exactly what domestic military action was covered by the October memo is unclear. But federal documents indicate that the memo relates to the National Security Agency's Terrorist Surveillance Program, or TSP.

That program intercepted phone calls and e-mails on U.S. soil, bypassing the normal legal requirement that such eavesdropping be authorized by a secret federal court. The program began after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and continued until Jan. 17, 2007, when the White House resumed seeking surveillance warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

John Yoo is a one man constitutional wrecking ball.

Ignorance can kill

On Sunday - naturally - Katie came out against sex education. Katie is in favor of the "keep your pants on, Missy" approach to the problem:

Minnesota's soaring rate of sexually transmitted disease [STD] is in the news again. At the national level, a recent study found that 25 percent of 14- to 19-year-old girls have at least one of four common STDs.

The solution? Enlightened folks tell us it's more sex education, counseling and treatment. They call for more tax-funded initiatives such as a $1.3 million bill for screening and public education recently considered by the Minnesota Legislature.

But few are talking about the real reason for the epidemic: too many kids are having sex at too young an age.

And Katie has the statistics to back it up:

This idea [that kids are, in Katie's words, "going to do it"] is one of the biggest cons of our generation. At least one group understands this -- the 53 percent of high school students who reported that they had never had sexual intercourse in a 2005 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Empowering? Give me a break

The con about youth sex is rooted in the myth behind the sexual revolution: that sex without restraints -- doing what you feel -- is both liberating and fundamental to human happiness. But in our sex-saturated culture, the opposite is true for many young people. It's far from liberating to be at the mercy of frenzied adolescent impulses.

"High school" encompasses about the ages of fourteen to eighteen. Without looking at the data, Spot is quite confident in saying that the curve of the sexually-experienced increases when plotted against the age of the student.

Well, duh, Spotty. The likelihood that somebody has had sex increases as they get older? Thanks for the insight.

Don't be impertinent, grasshopper. Spot is just saying to consider the true meaning of the statistic that Katie quotes. For example if no one under seventeen in high school had sex, it would mean that everyone over that age had sex. And one has to wonder what percentage of those in the haven't column would be in the those who have column, given the opportunity.

But Spot, doesn't advocating abstinence and keeping kids in the dark about it discourage sexual activity?

Apparently not:

A survey of more than 2,000 teenagers carried out by a research company on behalf of Congress found that the half of the sample given abstinence-only education displayed exactly the same predilection for sex as those who had received conventional sex education in which contraception was discussed.

So then, boys and girls, here's the difference between Katie and Spot: Katie is apparently okay with the extra unplanned pregnancies, extra abortions, loss of fertility and maybe the loss of life that results from ignorance; she may even think it is just punishment for the offenders. Spot does not. Not for his pups; not for the neighbors' pups; not even for Katie's pups.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Wanted: John Yoo


John Yoo

A/K/A Professor Organ Failure. Known to associates as "Vlad." Yoo is wanted (or will be) by international criminal authorities for the commission of war crimes.

Gosh, Spotty, that was dramatic. Do you really think he is?

It doesn't matter what Spot thinks; there are some pretty good commentators out there that think he is. Professor Organ Failure is the principal author of the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel's memorandum (Part One and Part Two), released last week, holding the view that harsh interrogation of detainees in the warron terra did not violate US law or the Geneva Convention.

Among other reasons, Professor Organ Failure said that such trifles as US law and the Geneva Convention did not apply to the president because:

It is also a canon of construction that laws of general applicability are not read to apply to the sovereign. In United States v. Nardone, 302 U.S. 379 (1937), the Supreme Court explained its application: (1) where it ''would deprive the sovereign of a recognized or established prerogative title or interest," id. at 383; or (2) "where a reading which would include such officers would work obvious absurdity[,]" id. at 384. As the Court explained, "[a] classical instance" of the deprivation of a recognized or established prerogative title or interest "is the exemption of the state from the operation of general statutes of limitation." Id. at 383.

Here, the application of these statutes to the conduct of interrogations of unlawful combatants would deprive the sovereign of a recognized prerogative. Historically, nations have been free to treat unlawful combatants as they wish, and in the United States this power has been vested in the President through the Commander-in-Chief Clause.

This is on page 15 of the memorandum. POF is full of canons of construction, and in the end reminds Spot of the song he used to hear on the Morning Show on MPR: "I Am My Own Grandpa." As others have pointed out, Yoo was obviously trying to justify a position, not give legal advice. Yoo is a dangerous proponent of the "unitary executive," a notion that the president can do anything in the name of national security.

Glenn Greenwald has a very good summary of the Yoo memo at John Yoo's war crimes posted at Salon. Here's a nugget that Glenn picked out Yoo's feat of legerdemain:

If a government defendant were to harm an enemy combatant during an interrogation in a manner that might arguably violate a criminal prohibition, he would be doing so in order to prevent further attacks on the United States by the al Qaeda terrorist network. In that case, we believe that he could argue that the executive branch's constitutional authority to protect the nation from attack justified his actions.

Oh, Spotty! There must be some limit on what the president, or someone acting on his behalf, can do?

Well, if there is, Professor Organ Failure hasn't seen it yet:

In other words:

Dahlia's [Lithwick, another writer at Slate] aptly summarizes this just-released memo's constitutional conclusion: "if the president authorizes it, it isn't illegal."

Law professor Jack Balkin summarized why Yoo probably won't be taking any foreign vacations in the future:

Those responsible for the interrogation of Detainee 063 face a real risk of investigation if they set foot outside the United States. Article 4 of the torture convention criminalizes “complicity” or “participation” in torture, and the same principle governs violations of Common Article 3.

There are a number of countries, including several in Europe, that assert the principle of "universal jurisdiction" to try war criminals.

This is among the sorriest chapters in American legal history. It would be entirely fitting if John Yoo had to stand in the dock somewhere and try to justify what he has wrought.