Monday, June 30, 2008

The real story behind (tm)

The real story behind [fill in the blank] is trademark Katherine Kersten. Whether it's a bridge falling down, Muslims thrown off of airplanes, or Muslim cab drivers balking at carrying passengers with alcohol, Katie is there to follow up actual news reports with what really happened. She provides the kind of analysis that's well, hard to find anywhere else.

Spot always knows that if he misses an important story, especially if it is about gays, Muslims, blots on Christianity's escutcheon, or public schools, he can read Katie a few days later for, er, context. She did it again today.

The real story behind the gay pride issue at St. Joan is Katie's effort to contextualize Archbishop John Nienstedt's forbidding St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church from holding a gay pride prayer service as part of the Twin Cities Gay Pride Festival, as the church has for many years. Katie tells us what happened next:

In response, organizers moved the celebration outside the church. One gay activist attended in what must have struck him as a clown's outfit, given the occasion -- the robes of an archbishop, miter and all. David McCaffrey of the Catholic Pastoral Committee on Sexual Minorities (CPCSM) condemned what he called Nienstedt's "reign of homophobic hatred." In an e-mail to the group's members, he characterized the archbishop's decision as "yet another volley of dehumanizing spiritual violence directed at GLBT persons and their families."

Clearly, there is hatred here. But it is not coming from the Catholic Church. Rather, it's a tool of those who are trying to compel the church to conform to their personal demands with caricatures and public mockery.

Caricatures and public mockery? Gee, Spot is going to have to try that sometime!

Katie continues, revealing the theological advocacy that she undoubtedly picked up during Catholic school recess arguments in Fort Dodge lo these many years ago:

But the truth is different: The church welcomes everyone. Far from rejecting gays as sinners, Christianity teaches that all human beings are sinners. In fact, it maintains, it is precisely because we are sinners that we need the Christian message.

Of course, Katie! That puts an entirely different spin on it. Thank you for that. Katie would not want you to know, however, boys and girls, that even expressing support for gays and lesbians, much less being one, could get you denied the sacrament of communion in the Catholic church. (Thanks to MNO for the link.)

But the absolute best point that Katie makes is to say that the problem is not the "gay," it's the "pride."

The theologian C.S. Lewis called pride "the great sin" -- the root of almost every other transgression. Pride, he wrote, "has been the chief cause of misery ... since the world began."

So "gay pride" is out of place in church. But so is straight pride, black pride, white pride -- or any kind of pride.

So the gays are claiming superiority over everybody else? Um, Spot doesn't think Katie quite has it, do you think boys and girls?

This has gone on quite long enough, but there is one more thing that Spot has to say. Katie laments that gays at first just wanted a little tolerance, but now they want more. They want acceptance:

The controversy at St. Joan of Arc is part of a larger picture. When the gay rights movement emerged several decades ago, its leaders asked only for tolerance -- a live-and-let-live attitude on the part of the larger society. Today, the movement increasingly demands both approval of and conformity to its creed. More and more, it labels all dissent -- even that based on religious conviction -- as "hateful."

Secular institutions have largely acquiesced. The church alone perseveres in the conviction that human sexuality has a larger purpose. That is why it is now a central battlefront in this crusade.

No matter what you wrap bigotry in, Katie, it is still bigotry. And live and let live? Maybe you could talk to Matthew Shepard's parents about that.

But Katie is right; it's just like the blacks. First they just wanted to own themselves. Then they wanted jobs and an education. And then they wanted to vote. Can you believe that?

Update: For an interesting read about C.S. Lewis, see what Phoenix Woman has to say.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

This decision will cost American lives

Is that what you think about the Heller decision, Spot?

Well yes, grasshopper, but it's not a quote from Spot.

Who then?

It's Justice Scalia, quoted in his dissent in the Boumediene decision of a week or so ago.

That's the case that decided that the system set up by the Military Commissions Act for detainees was not an adequate substitute for the writ of habeas corpus. Right?

That is so grasshopper. Just so all the boys and girls are up to speed, grasshopper, Spot will say that Heller is the decision from the U.S. Supreme Court this week holding that individuals have, well, let's let Linda Greenhouse tell us:

The Supreme Court on Thursday embraced the long-disputed view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to own a gun for personal use, ruling 5 to 4 that there is a constitutional right to keep a loaded handgun at home for self-defense.

Spot predicts that history will judge Tony Scalia the same way it has judged Roger Taney and Henry Brown.

Who are they, Spotty?

They are the authors of Dred Scott v. Sanford and Plessy v. Ferguson, respectively.

They aren't held in much esteem, are they Spotty?

No grasshopper, they are not. The cases involve different issues and "rights" under consideration, but they all share a disingenuousness and intellectual cowardice.

There are better places to go than here for an in-depth discussion of the Heller opinion, but here's where you are, so you'll have to indulge Spot a little.

Some of you boys and girls will remember that the Bill of Rights, when first written, was only applicable to the the federal government. That's right, the states could establish a religion even if it wasn't yours, search your house without probable cause, didn't need to give you a jury trial, et cetera and et cetera.

It was only after the Civil War, and the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, that the Supreme Court began to "incorporate" the rights of the Bill of Rights into that Amendment and apply them as prohibitions against the states. After a time, really all of the individual rights of the Bills of Rights had been held to apply to the action of states.

But the so-called individual right to bear arms never was.

Spotty! That's not fair!

Grasshopper, it's onions and petunias, or apples and oranges. Unlike the other rights that had been incorporated into the Fourteenth Amendment and were intended as protection of individuals against the government, the Second Amendment was intended to protect the right of the states themselves to organize militias to suppress their own insurrections, and given the sentiment of the times, to protect themselves from the federal government.

The very language of the Second Amendment makes that clear:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Now, to get from this to saying that the individual has the right to keep a loaded .357 under his (it is almost always his, as Sigmund Spot will likely reflect on later) pillow to keep the bad guys away (to paraphrase Linda Greenhouse) is difficult.

Unless you are Nino Scalia.

If you're Nino, you just ignore the opening phrase.

Which is especially annoying when coming from the original originalist. Nino always makes a big show of conducting a seance with the Founders before making a pronouncement about the meaning of the Constitution. Nino likes to say that the words in the Constitution mean something. Apparently except when they don't!

Actually, Nino has shed his street cred on originalism before, most recently last week with his dissent in the habeas corpus decision linked above. Nino is clearly ready to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in situations far beyond those contemplated in the Constitution.

Spot expresses no opinion, as a policy matter, whether we should allow people to put loaded guns under their pillow. Most places, including Minnesota, you could before the Heller decision. In a few places, like DC, you could not. But to raise that policy discussion to the level of a constitutional argument? Shame on you, Nino.

One last point. Some people, and you know who you are, have expelled great volumes of hot and noxious gas about MNO's remark about the Heller decision perhaps being limited to muzzle-loading flintlock pistols.

Spot regrets to say that these people are far too thick to understand an originalist joke.


Heffelfinger departure from DOJ figures in subpoena

On Friday, John Conyers, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, issued a broad-ranging subpoena to the Department of Justice for documents related to the Valerie Plame Wilson identity disclosure. But that's not all:

In addition, Conyers subpoenaed documents related to the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat, documents regarding the replacement of the U.S. attorney for Minnesota Tom Heffelfinger, memorandums from the DOJ's Office of Legal Counsel, including an Oct. 23, 2001, memo about the use of American military forces to combat terrorism within the United States, and documents related to the 2002 election in which Republican operatives jammed the telephone lines of a Democratic initiative to encourage New Hampshire residents to vote.

Additionally, Conyers wants documents from the DOJ's Civil Rights Division related to redistricting in the state of Mississippi, and a photo identification law implemented in Georgia to combat claims of voter fraud.

We have probably not heard the last of l'affaire Paulose.

A thump of the tail to Ken Avidor.


You can watch it fall down here.

Update: When words fail most of us, we can always count on our leaders to express the thoughts we all wrestle with. Mayor Chris Coleman on the demolition: "Wow! That was the coolest thing ever!" MrMNO and the offspring joined me at the end of Emma Street on the bluff, and we were in the direction the stack fell. I was under the impression that it was going to be going straight down, so when it began to fall directly toward us, the only thing going through my mind was whether this was supposed to be happening. It was, of course, but the stack did appear to miss the earthen berms it was supposed to hit.

Friday, June 27, 2008

And don't let the door hit you on the butt!

Spot has been asking people at Drinking Liberally what they would ask of, or say to, delegates to the Republican National Convention. They'll be collected and edited at some point around the time of the convention, but Spot may run a few of the responses here from time to time, as a warm up.

Here then is one of the pithier ones:

And if you think that's tough, you should see the outtake.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Originalism finds a home

So in District of Columbia v. Heller the Supreme Court has found that the Washington D.C. gun control statute is invalid because it is at odds with what the writers of the Constitution had in mind when they drafted the Second Amendment. No word yet on whether the citizens of the District will be limited to the single-shot, front loaded muskets that the drafters also had in mind when they wrote the Amendment.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Local columnist threatens lawyers!

That would be Katie, of course, in a veiled threat to local lawyers who have sued to get better access for protesters at the Republican National Convention:

In 2008, it's sadly inevitable that crazies will try to turn St. Paul streets into a war zone.

But we don't have to facilitate such intimidation. After the crazies move on, the establishment types who gave them comfort and cover -- and sued to win a march route that apparently facilitates their plans -- had better be prepared to take responsibility for what happens if they get their way.

Lucca Brassi sleeps with the fishes!

You gotta nice little law practice here. It would be a shame if something happened to it.

What are you going to do, Katie? Publish the names of the lawyers like they were abortion doctors? Or do like the right wing bloggers do and publish the addresses of people who expressed an opinion contrary to their own views?

Well, Spot, she did that, actually.

Yes, grasshopper, Spot knows. Katie is a thug. She has a newspaper gig, and therefore thinks her conduct is some how different, but it's not. She's still a thug.

The column was about the efforts of some Minnesota lawyers to secure better access to the Excel Center area for protest parades during the Republican National Convention. Katie is worried about the effect on decent people, meaning delegates to the convention, of having to put up with protesters.

Minnesota should have learned a long time ago that we take a dim view of attempts at prior restraint of the exercise of First Amendment rights. The seminal case in the prior restraint area is Near v.Minnesota, a 1931 United States Supreme Court case. Here's the briefest summary of the facts:

In 1927, Jay M. Near, who has been described as "anti-Catholic, anti-Semitic, anti-black and anti-labor"[2] began publishing The Saturday Press in Minneapolis with Howard A. Guilford, a former mayoral candidate who had been convicted of criminal libel.

The paper claimed that Jewish gangs were "practically ruling" the city along with the police chief, Frank W. Brunskill, who was accused of participation in graft. Among the paper's other targets were mayor George E. Leach, Hennepin County attorney and future three-term governor Floyd B. Olson, and the members of the grand jury of Hennepin County, who the paper claimed were either incompetent or willfully failing to investigate and prosecute known criminal activity.

Floyd Olson took a dim view of all of this, and tried to shut the paper down as a nuisance under what was know as the Minnesota Gag Law. The Supreme Court of the United States reversed a Minnesota Supreme Court decision upholding a conviction under the law. The U.S. Supreme Court held that prior restraint, or censorship, except in very limited circumstances, was unconstitutional.

Without spending a lot more of your time, boys and girls, Spot will just say that any prior restraint of press, speech, assembly and petition rights must be strictly limited to public safety concerns, and it is no justification to say that some people might create a ruckus. That is essentially what one of the lawyers trying to secure better access for protest said:

Todd Noteboom of Leonard, Street and Deinard says St. Paul has provided no evidence that radical groups' threats are serious or involve significant numbers. "The possibility that a small number of people might try to block a roadway or impede access to a bridge does not justify stripping 100,000 people of their First Amendment rights," he said on Tuesday.

If anybody gets out of line, disturbs the peace or destroys property at the convention, there will be police there to arrest them and charges of law violations to be brought. And that's as it should be.

To somehow believe it is appropriate to restrain the speech in the name of order or convenience to the delegates, ahead of time, however, is a serious misreading or misunderstanding of the First Amendment.

Kersten commits journalism

Word on the street is that for the first time in actual memory, Katherine Kersten actually spoke to a source (Todd Noteboom) she quoted in her column today, a source not associated with those Powerline fellows.
Todd Noteboom of Leonard, Street and Deinard says St. Paul has provided no evidence that radical groups’ threats are serious or involve significant numbers. “The possibility that a small number of people might try to block a roadway or impede access to a bridge does not justify stripping 100,000 people of their First Amendment rights,” he said on Tuesday.

Actually speaking directly with sources? Calling people who disagree with you up for comment? Relying on actual first-hand information rather than the websites of those most extreme organizations to jump to unfounded conclusions? No good can come of this, I tell you.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Archbishop bans prayer

A Roman Catholic Church decision to prohibit a Minneapolis gay pride prayer service has many in the gay community up in arms, leading activists to call the action a troubling and telling sign from the Twin Cities' new archbishop.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis recently told staff members at St. Joan of Arc Church they could not hold their annual gay pride prayer service planned for Wednesday — an event held for several years in conjunction with the annual Twin Cities Pride Celebration, parishioners said.

Next up, Archbishop Nienstedt's plans to ban rainbows.

Upcoming DL events!

This Thursday - The conversation veered wildly off course last week, and Spot would still like to have a conversation about the National Conference for Media reform that was held in Minneapolis earlier this month.

Spot also wants to video some attendees answering the question: What would you say to, or ask of, a delegate to the Republican National Convention? Because frankly, it's a close as you are likely to ever get. Your response can be serious, silly, or within limits, filled with invective. Start planning what you want to say now.

Thursday, July 3rd - We'll continue with the video responses, and Spot has a special treat for you. Spot will lay in a supply of bottle rockets from Wisconsin, and we'll shoot them at the motorcycles roaring by without mufflers on University Avenue! There will be a prize, and perhaps an arrest, for the best score.

Really? Can we do that Spot?

No, don't be silly grasshopper. Spot is just kidding.

Aw, it sounds like a lot of fun.

Thursday, July 10th - Here's one you really don't want to miss. Senator Patricia Torres Ray from Minneapolis will be at DL for a meet and greet. Senator Torres Ray, in her first term, has been one of the more persistent critics of the Governor on immigration.

All of these events will be at the regular time and place: six to nine, or so, at the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis.

And now, boys and girls, Spot will be gone for a couple of days. Perhaps he'll see you at DL on Thursday. Stop by, though, because MNO may have some thing for you while Spot is gone.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Progressive Pestilence!

As a general rule, Spot avoids reading Craig Westover. Or maybe not so much avoids as it doesn't occur to Spot to go to the sites where Captain Fishsticks hangs out. However, one of his recent columns was mentioned over at Across the Great Divide, so Spot did go to read The Problem with Progressives. Charlie already did a nice job on Sticks, summing up the context of the column, but Spot has a couple of more thoughts. Go read Charlie, though.

Sticks' argument can be summed up as, You can't trust those progressives; there is no limit to their rapacity. For example:

Progressivism is politics as religion. Left-leaning progressivism strives to impose values on society every bit as aggressively as the Christian right pushing a moral agenda of "family values." Whether the supreme authority over individual liberty is a secular state or a religious one, the operative word is "supreme." Progressivism is ultimately about total control.

Progressivism is immune to restraint; it respects no constitutional limits on government. The progressive may prefer the near-sacramental word "holistic" to describe the effort to create a better world, but, as National Review's Jonah Goldberg reminds us, Mussolini coined the word "totalitarian" for the progressive vision — a society where everyone belongs, where everyone is taken care of, where everything is inside the state and nothing is outside the state, where there are no hard trade-offs.

By quoting Jonah Goldberg as a source, of course, the esteem in which Sticks is held plummets dramatically. But when he quotes Jonah Goldberg who is in turn quoting with approval Benito Mussolini, Spot has to wonder if Sticks has finally slipped the surely bonds of earth and, well, just floated off, a shiny mylar balloon advertising Mrs. Paul's products.

Yes, when the definitive history of twentieth-century Italy is finally written, no doubt it will contain chapters dedicated to the study of how the Black Shirts valiantly fought off the Progressives.

It is so nice when one doesn't have to make the fascist analogies because they make themselves.

Sticks wants you, boys and girls, to think that all progressives are just a bunch of utopian dreamers. But they aren't, any more than all conservatives are like Sticks!

In fact, Sticks, and Davey Strom, and King Banaian all come from a completely different branch of the evolutionary tree from Harold Stassen, Elmer Anderson, Arne Carlson, and Dave Durenberger.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

A measure of a person

Spot says that one good measure of a person is to watch whom they ridicule. If a person makes fun of the comfortable, the pompous, or the sanctimonious, chances are that he or she is a good egg, somebody you'd like to know.

On the other hand, if they ridicule the do gooders, the sick or dispossessed, or the poor, you've probably identified, well, an asshole.

It is a rule that is virtually foolproof.

Do you have some examples, Spot?

Why yes, grasshopper, Spot has a couple of recent examples of the latter category from our very own hometown newspaper! Let's look at them.

First up is Jim (he hates that) Lileks, who writes on Friday that people with toxic bosses are just wussies:

It would be like Mary Tyler Moore skipping work because she had menstrual cramps. Mary did not let that stop her. Ever.

But no, not us! Now we call the office and complain of Existential Fatigue or Twitchy Kidney Syndrome because the boss has halitosis that could melt cloth socks and insists on telling you limericks that have the word "Nantucket" in them. Weaklings! Slackers!

It may be helpful to Jim or his readers to point out that he undoubtedly meant Mary Richards, the character that Mary Tyler Moore played in a sitcom. Mary Richards is, of course, an imaginary person, who did, Spot will admit, show up every week for her television show. No word on whether the real Mary, who is afflicted with juvenile diabetes, had a perfect record, too. Jim concludes his column with this:

At the risk of doubting a Study [finding that bosses can make people sick], one might suspect that some people are not actually sick, but feigning sickness to avoid dealing with the psycho-in-chief. If that's the case, it puts a different light on the study, and might mean that Minnesotans are quite deft at convincing their employers that they're a sweaty gurgling heap on death's stoop.

As anyone who's ever faked a sick day knows, it takes a certain amount of thespian ability to sound sick without sounding like you're trying to sound sick. So if we have more people calling in sick, it means we're doing a pretty good job of pretending we're ill.

We also have one of the highest concentrations of theaters in the United States. Related? Don't know. I'll wait for the study.

Sweaty gurgling heap, indeed.

Second on the list is Katie's column this morning, which Spot has already mentioned. Katie finds that mothers - in her own community, no less - who are trying to do something to improve the environment of the planet where everybody, including Katie, lives are worthy of her contempt.

Spot? He'll go with the EcoMoms of the earth every time.

Boys and girls, Spot has kind of a corollary to his rule. It's especially good for single people who are looking for someone they might like to spend more time with. When you're out with someone for the first time, pay attention to how they treat the waiter or waitress, or the persons standing in line with them at the theater, or the pedestrian a little slow to clear the crosswalk.

You would be surprised at the insight you will get.

One final thing. Spot's Dad, may he rest in peace, was a great sports fan. He always said, "Spot. You root for two teams. The home team, and if they're not playing, you root for the underdog."

Those are not only words to live by, but words to choose your friends by, too.

A thump of the tail to the Mississippifarian.


Boys and girls, Spot has something very serious to discuss with you today. He's just become aware of it and wanted to share it as soon as he could.

What is it Spotty?

There is a shadowy group, national in scope, that has been spreading across the country, infiltrating our cities and towns and our very homes. Its agenda is un-American to the core. The group members are even brain washing their children to carry on after the current generation of radicals fades from the scene.

In a chilling development, this group has established a beach head, right here in Spot's home town, Edina, just before the Republican National Convention.

That is serious, Spot! Who are these dangerous radicals? The communists? Maybe the Islamofascists? Anarchist bicycle riders?

No, grasshopper, it's worse than any of those.

It's the EcoMoms.

Very funny, Spotty.

Don't be so dismissive, grasshopper; Spot is just picking up on Katie's column today: Edina EcoMoms may be opening a can of worms. Here are the opening grafs:

What's the hottest trend on the Twin Cities suburban women's social scene? Product parties are passé. Volunteering at the food shelf sounds so yesterday. Still, gals gotta have fun -- and a sense of superiority.

Edina housewives may have hit the jackpot with a new EcoMom group. Now they can brag about their kids' soccer triumphs and save the Earth at the same time.

The mostly stay-at-home EcoMoms gather in a member's living room and sip merlot under a banner that proclaims, "Sustain your home, sustain your planet, sustain your self." Along with the other 11,000 members of the national EcoMom Alliance, they say, they are "making the world a better place through local, organic, sustainable, non-toxic, slow choices."

The "non-toxic" part had to be the last straw for Katie. To Spot, however, the only poor judgment that Spot can find in this is choosing merlot to drink.

Katie is especially critical of the group's recommended use of worms to break down organic garbage:

It takes a bin of 800 to 1,000 worms to eat one-half pound of organic garbage a day, according to a site linked from the website. If my family's output is any measure, I'd guess about 10,000 of the slimy critters are needed to keep up with the demand.

Katie imagines all the worm bins would depress property values in the tonier sections of town. Creating more landfills out of sight is obviously preferable.

Katie also thinks that craft activities with your kids to do things like make bracelets out of old toothbrushes is just too much:

Wracked with guilt over sending your kids' old toothbrushes to a landfill? Edina EcoMoms' website links to, where you can learn to convert them into bracelets, assuming you have the time. After boiling the toothbrushes in water, you'll need to painstakingly pluck out each bristle with tweezers.

Apparently, Katie has never heard of symbolism. Which is odd, when you think of all the symbolism in Katie's favorite group: Christians.

Katie wants you to watch out for this group of fanatics, boys and girls; they might make you pick up your trash or recycle those plastic bags and bottles.

And that would never do.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Lights! Camera! Action!

Spot has watched with amusement - or is it bemusement - the unfolding forensic investigation of the Take out the Garbage, Honey video ad being aired by the Norm Coleman campaign. A lot of people, including some liberal bloggers, thought it looked kinda, well, "funny," and wondered if maybe Laurie Coleman had been somehow beamed into the kitchen with Norm. Indignant, righty bloggers responded by damning the doubters and taking umbrage that anyone would question the bliss at Casa Coleman.

Spot has remained silent on the matter, at least until now.

Spot has learned that the directors of the ad have stepped forward and accepted, well they accepted something, or at least admitted ownership of the flick.

Now all they have to do is explain why they lit Laurie Coleman like a ceramic fountain.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Once more into the Heart of Darkness

Let's take another excursion, boys and girls, into the calcified little place known at Davey Strom's heart. You may remember that Spot awarded a Spotty™ to a letter writer who criticized Davey's recent ode to Governor Pepsodent for vetoing a bill to provide some mortgage assistance to people in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.

Through his tears of gratitude, Davey says:

Pawlenty's veto was the right thing to do and was done for the right reason -- to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

And when a Liberty Bell rings, it means a governor has earned his wings.

Impairment of contract! shouts Davey.

Now as Spot has mentioned before, Davey is apparently unaware of the United States Bankruptcy Code, which adjusts and rights and obligations of creditors and debtors hundreds of times a day. Its existence has apparently eluded Governor Pepsodent, too, which is regrettable when one considers that Pepsodent is a lawyer and the one who recently appointed one of his pals and former partners as the Chief Judge of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Oh well.

In the Northwest Airlines bankruptcy reorganization, to us a recent example, there were a lot of union workers (to mention just some of the rollees) who got steam rollered a helluva lot worse than any mortgagee might under the legislation that Pepsodent vetoed.

To described the vetoed legislation briefly, Spot turns to Senator Linda Higgins, writing in the Strib in the piece that caused Davey to rise up in righteous indignation in the first place:

[Sen. Ellen Anderson and Rep. Jim Davnie] shepherd the Minnesota Subprime Borrower Relief Act of 2008 through the Legislature. Their bill is intended to avert preventable foreclosure for as many as 12,000 Minnesota families. It simply facilitates foreclosure-prevention counseling, encourages negotiation between lenders and servicers, and provides for a limited foreclosure deferment if the lender refuses to talk to the borrower and the borrower regularly pays a significant portion of the monthly payment (there's no free lunch here).

Now, does that seem so bad, boys and girls? It is said that the United States Bankruptcy Code was adopted to "give an honest debtor a fresh start." The Subprime Borrower Relief Act doesn't even go that far; it would at most allow the borrower to take a little breather. No debt write-off, no interest rate changes, no payment changes (except in the short run).

It seems especially not so bad to Spot when you consider this bit of news in the Strib today:

The FBI has identified the Twin Cities as one of the 10 worst areas of the United States for mortgage fraud and said it has literally dozens of criminal investigations underway here as part of a national crackdown on the problem.

For a description of the fraud fiesta, we return to Senator Higgins' commentary:

Who are these people who have been left to drown? They are the ones who, during the subprime bacchanal, were being taken to the cleaners by predatory mortgage lenders and unscrupulous mortgage brokers, backed and spurred on by the avarice of investors looking for fast and excessive returns. Substitute Minnesota for Bedford Falls, and these citizens are the ones in foreclosure due to the irresponsible lending practices and widely acknowledged financial gluttony of Wall Street gone wild.

Well, let them sue! say Davey. While it is true that the law prohibits both the rich and the poor from sleeping under bridges, it is only a practical problem for one of these groups. Likewise, telling a defaulting borrower who looks to be homeless in a few months that he has a cause of action against a rapacious mortgage broker who was just looking for a fee is of no practical value. Have you priced lawyers lately, Davey? And the legal services for the poor that do exist are overstretched and are being allowed to atrophy from lack of funding.

Surely you jest, Davey. Not very funny, though.

In the final analysis, Davey is just one of the parade of pikers and scrubs who cloaks simple self-absorption into constitutional flim-flammery, just a link in the cretinous chain of empathy-gene defectives that that weighs us all down.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shari'a law coming to the United States!

No, it's not a Katie Kersten column on the arrival of Islamic law to Minnesota. Nor is it the rantings of the Lady Logician on the threat of Islamofascists to our system of jurisprudence. It's not even the crazed screeds of Pamela Geller.

Rather, it's a defense being utilized by a Blackwater company in a lawsuit brought in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, McMahon et al. v. Presidential Airways, Court file No. 6:05CV1002:

To defend itself against a lawsuit by the widows of three American soldiers who died on one of its planes in Afghanistan, a sister company of the private military firm Blackwater has asked a federal court to decide the case using the Islamic law known as Shari’a.

The lawsuit “is governed by the law of Afghanistan,” Presidential Airways argued in a Florida federal court. “Afghan law is largely religion-based and evidences a strong concern for ensuring moral responsibility, and deterring violations of obligations within its borders.”

If the judge agrees, it would essentially end the lawsuit over a botched flight supporting the U.S. military. Shari’a law does not hold a company responsible for the actions of employees performed within the course of their work.

Under a routine conflict of laws analysis, before a court can apply the law of a foreign jurisdiction, there really does need to be a system of law in that foreign jurisdiction, a questionable conclusion when it comes to Afghanistan. But Blackwater has asserted that Afghanistan's Shari'a law should govern the wrongful death action brought by the plaintiffs. Shari'a law, conveniently enough, does not hold an employer responsible for the wrongs of its employees. If applied, Blackwater escapes liability for the acts of its employees and the plaintiffs recover nothing.

So I guess the lesson here is that whether Shari'a law being applied in the United States depends on which Republican operative wants it applied.

I wonder as I wander

So hums Justin C. Adams this morning when he runs down the race for District 41A in Edina. He touts Kevin Staunton, the DFL candidate for the seat, and Kevin is a good candidate.

But Adams says some things about Ron Erhardt, at least by implication, that need to be corrected.

Erhardt never signed the "no new taxes" pledge, unlike our liege from the upper house, Geoff Michel. In fact, Erhardt has been a proponent of raising the gas tax for several years prior to being one of the Override Six.

And Adams implies that Staunton's "conservative opponents" will drive wedge issues. If Adams means to include Ron Erhardt in the list of "conservative opponents," he is dead flat wrong.

Erhardt is the last pro-choice Republican in the Minnesota House.

Erhardt has never supported the gay marriage ban amendment to the Minnesota Constitution.

Erhardt was unalterably opposed to conceal and carry, a stand that was quite popular in Edina, so popular, in fact, that Geoff Michel checked the political winds and changed his position on conceal and carry.

Behind Dennis Ozmet, who is retiring, Ron Erhardt is the most senior Republican in the Minnesota House.

Whether you support him or don't, you have to recognize that taking the override vote that he did on the eve of the Republican convention in District 41 was an act of political courage.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Vale of Malthus

From James Kunstler at Clusterfuck Nation this week:

Like a lot of other activities in American life these days, agribusiness is unreformable along its current lines. It will take a convulsion to change it, and in that convulsion it will be dragged kicking-and-screaming into a new reality. As that occurs, the US public will have to contend with more than just higher taco chip prices. We're heading into the Vale of Malthus -- Thomas Robert Malthus, the British economist-philosopher who introduced the notion that eventually world population would overtake world food production capacity. Malthus has been scorned and ridiculed in recent decades, as fossil fuel-cranked farming allowed the global population to go vertical. Techno-triumphalist observers who should have known better attributed this to the "green revolution" of bio-engineering. Malthus is back now, along with his outriders: famine, pestilence, and war.

He's talking about, among other things, the effects of the floods in Iowa and the cost of fossil-fuel based agricultural inputs. Spot has called Kunstler the "gleeful Mathusian," but he cannot recall Kunstler so explicitly calling on Malthus' ghost before. Here's what Kunstler says about the current agribusiness model:

Behind that magic [of cheap corn and processed foods] is an agribusiness model of farming cranked up on the steroids of cheap oil and cheap natural-gas-based fertilizer. Both of these "inputs" have recently entered the realm of the non-cheap. Oil-and-gas-based farming had already reached a crisis stage before the flood of Iowa. Diesel fuel is a dollar-a-gallon higher than gasoline. Natural gas prices have doubled over the past year, sending fertilizer prices way up. American farmers are poorly positioned to reform their practices. All that cheap fossil fuel masks a tremendous decay of skill in husbandry. The farming of the decades ahead will be a lot more complicated than just buying x-amount of "inputs" (on credit) to be dumped on a sterile soil growth medium and spread around with giant diesel-powered machines.

Have we ever seen this before, Spotty?

Well yes, grasshopper, as it turns out, we may have! Fairly recently, too. North Korea.

Oh, come on, Spot, that's ridiculous.

Not according to John Feffer, writing in Tomdispatch:

Gas prices are above $4 a gallon; global food prices surged 39% last year; and an environmental disaster looms as carbon emissions continue to spiral upward. The global economy appears on the verge of a TKO, a triple whammy from energy, agriculture, and climate-change trends. Right now you may be grumbling about the extra bucks you're shelling out at the pump and the grocery store; but, unless policymakers begin to address all three of these trends as one major crisis, it could get a whole lot worse.

Just ask the North Koreans.

In the 1990s, North Korea was the world's canary. The famine that killed as much as 10% of the North Korean population in those years was, it turns out, a harbinger of the crisis that now grips the globe -- though few saw it that way at the time.

That small Northeast Asian land, one of the last putatively communist countries on the planet, faced the same three converging factors as we do now -- escalating energy prices, a reduction in food supplies, and impending environmental catastrophe. At the time, of course, all the knowing analysts and pundits dismissed what was happening in that country as the inevitable breakdown of an archaic economic system presided over by a crackpot dictator.

They were wrong. The collapse of North Korean agriculture in the 1990s was not the result of backwardness. In fact, North Korea boasted one of the most mechanized agricultures in Asia. Despite claims of self-sufficiency, the North Koreans were actually heavily dependent on cheap fuel imports. (Does that already ring a bell?) In their case, the heavily subsidized energy came from Russia and China, and it helped keep North Korea's battalion of tractors operating. It also meant that North Korea was able to go through fertilizer, a petroleum product, at one of the world's highest rates. When the Soviets and Chinese stopped subsidizing those energy imports in the late 1980s and international energy rates became the norm for them, too, the North Koreans had a rude awakening.

You're just full of good news, Spot.

Indeed, grasshopper; we live in interesting times.

Kersten antidote available here!

Katie got you down again? Does she make you feel listless? Bilious? Sexless?

If that's what's got you down, bunky, Spot has just the thing for you. Visit the Mississippifarian's How do you fake a tornado? and scroll down to hear him deliver a tongue, well, lashing, to Katie about American cultural history.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Who are you voting for in the Senate race, Spot?

Yeah, Spotty, who are you going to vote for, Al or Norm?

That's a pretty foolish question, grasshopper, even for you.

Not so foolish, Spot; you were a big time Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer supporter, and after the endorsing convention, you were pretty hard on a Franken supporter a couple of times.

True. Spot can see how you might be confused. But don't be. Spot will vote for Al Franken and would want you to as well, if you were old enough to vote. Spot has his differences with Al, but they are minor compared to his differences with Coleman.

Spot will paraphrase Norm when he said, in 1996, Spot believes, when talking about Paul Wellstone:

[Al Franken] is a Democrat; I am a Democrat.

But unlike Norm, Spot still is one.

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A moral question, and a Spotty (tm), too!

For this letter in today's Star Tribune, Tom Obert wins a Spotty™:

A moral question

David Strom's June 13 column on the Borrower Relief Act ("It's a wonderful life when government is kept in check") is a perfect example of why certain individuals feel the need to identify themselves as "compassionate" conservatives -- the implication being, absent the modifier, that conservatives view themselves as uncompassionate.

The issue of mortgage relief is not about whether to help people caught up in the subprime mortgage mess is the legal thing to do (in Strom's opinion), but rather whether it is the right thing to do.

Foreclosure, or the threat of foreclosure, is not occurring in a few isolated incidences -- it is a nationwide pandemic. Foreclosure not only affects the specific party involved but the entire neighborhood or community in which it takes place. Thus, thousands of homeowners face the prospect of decreased property values through no fault of their own.

From both a practical and an economic standpoint, it makes sense to do everything possible to prevent foreclosures.

Strom did not write this column when the government bailed out Bear Stearns and other lenders who were hoisted by their own petards. Apparently, he had no qualms about using "other people's money" in those instances because they are major business institutions and their demise would allegedly affect the entire economy. That is debatable -- but it is certainly true that the absence of mortgage relief will lead to the demise of many neighborhoods and communities.


What is possible, what is fair, and what is just or "right" to do with the mortgage crisis at the federal and state levels are all legitimate questions.

But when peevish Governor Pepsodent and Davy "Herbert Hoover" Strom start quoting the U.S. Constitution (the prohibition against impairment of contract) as the basis for doing nothing, perhaps they should look at another part of the Constitution, the Preamble:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Let's see, addressing the mortgage crisis:

Form a more perfect Union? Check.

Establish Justice? For a lot of borrowers, anyway, check.

Insure domestic Tranquility? Double check.

Promote the general Welfare? Check.

The securitization of the mortgage industry makes it impossible for the average homeowner to talk to his lender and try to do a "work out" as was the case in an earlier time. We're caught in a situation where the loan originator took a fee, other parties took a fee for packaging, syndicalizing, and selling the mortgages to a pool of investors. Risk and reward were effectively divorced from one another. The parties left with anything at stake can't possibly deal with each other.

Our Spotty™ winner Tom makes a good point when he says that the likes of Davey Strom and Pepsodent were silent when Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve Bank make the discount window available to a whole class of new supplicants - probably illegally - and started taking some really dodgy collateral. We'll see how much of that the taxpayer gets stuck with.

Remember, boys and girls, a Spotty™ is awarded to the author of a letter to the editor, an op-ed piece, or a blog post or comment that Spot wishes he had written himself.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Only our Katie

Ol' Spotty hasn't had much to say about Katherine Kersten lately.

Yeah, why is that, Spot?

Well, grasshopper, in some relationships, there comes a time when one partner turns to the other and says, "You're not much fun anymore." Spot arrived at that point with Katie some time ago.

You mean you aren't going to talk about Katie? There are people who depend on it, Spot!

Yes, Spot knows, grasshopper. And he doesn't intend to quit entirely. But there are others who also address the musings of the Word Salad Shooter (tm).

Like who?

Like Jeff Fecke, who had some serious fun with Katie's column about Fathers' Day. Jeff dissects Katie's ideas of idealized fatherhood, her stereotyping, and yes, her misogyny. You see, Jeff is a divorced dad who doesn't get to spend every day with his daughter, but is passionately involved in her life and her nuture nevertheless.

The thing that bothered Spot the most about the column is how Katie returns again and again to the theme of authoritarianism in fathers. Only our Katie could actually make Spot feel a little queasy about being a dad.

There is a well-known writer and professor at Berkeley, George Lakoff, who would find Katie's column an excellent example of the conservative mind at work. Lakoff is the author of, inter alia, a book titled Moral Politics:

[Conservatism] is based on a Strict Father model, while liberalism is centered around a Nurturant Parent model. These two models of the family give rise to different moral systems and different discourse forms, that is, different choices of words and different modes of reasoning.

Read Katie and then read Jeff, and you will see what Lakoff means.

Preview of coming attractions!

To Drinking Liberally, that is.

If you attended the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis earlier this month, or you wanted to, come to Drinking Liberally this Thursday night, June 19th. Bill Moyers hasn't confirmed yet, but we'll have some local conference attendees in, well, attendance.

And for those who plan in advance, mark your calendar for Thursday, July 10th when State Senator Patricia Torres Ray from Minneapolis will be at DL for a meet and greet. Senator Torres Ray, a first-term senator, introduced Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer at the DFL state convention.

Both events will be at Drinking Liberally's (in the Twin Cities, anyway) regular location, the 331 Club in northeast Minneapolis. Regular time, too: six to nine, or later if you like the band or the conversation.

More information will follow.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Humanitarian Crisis!

Spot! If we leave Iraq, we'll create a humanitarian crisis!

Who told you that, grasshopper?

Well, Aaron Landry, for one:

It has been disturbing to me that Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer has been labeled and touted by the “peace community” as the “peace candidate” even though his plan to me is extremely dangerous and unnerving. Al Franken’s position on heading towards peace in the Middle East is rooted in getting our troops home as fast as possible without making Iraq worse than it is. He has stated repeatedly that he’d work with experts, the military and intelligence to properly get our armed forces home as soon and effectively as possible while working for stability in the region. Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer’s position on foreign policy boils down to a six month immediate timetable on withdrawing from Iraq regardless of the stability of the Middle East.

Aaron continues:

This position is frightening. You cannot be a “peace candidate” if your Iraq exit strategy is to disregard what our troops are doing to prevent a civil war, to almost intentionally create the largest power vacuum in the Middle East and then give $25 billion handouts to factions that say they’ll help reconstruct the country on good will. I’m a staunch anti-war liberal and this doesn’t fly with me but more importantly it certainly won’t fly with most voters in Minnesota.

And Aaron even uses the video of Jack's appearance at DL that you posted!

Well, grasshopper, Spot is sorry that Aaron alarmed you. You know, of course, that we created the situation that is the source of all of Aaron's hand wringing.

We did? How?

By invading Iraq in the first place.

Why did we do that?

That's a great question, grasshopper. The Administration said it was because Iraq possessed weppenza mass derstruction. But that was pretty obviously a ruse, and that became even more evident when George Bush told the teams of weapons inspectors to leave because he wanted to start the bombing.

As of October of last year, the Congressional Research Service estimated 4.2 million refugees and internally-displaced persons in Iraq. And as of October 2006, the British Medical Journal Lancet estimated 600,000 Iraqi deaths attributable to the war. A follow up study, that Spot cannot find right now, places that figure over a million.

Iraq's population estimates vary, but the CIA thinks it is about 27,000,000. The death and displaced numbers are huge and are even more so when you consider the relatively modest population of the place to begin with. And we haven't even talked about the injured or detained yet.

Wow, Spot, that's a huge mess! If we didn't do it because of weapons of mass destruction, why did we do it?

A lot of people, Spot, er, included, think it was because of the influence of a cabal known as the neo-cons. Jack talks about them in the video above. Now, these guys thought that if we "changed regimes in Iraq," which makes it sound like changing a diaper rather than toppling a government, which it is, that the Iraqis would become Jeffersonian democrats. They would embrace an economic system even more cut-throat capitalistic than our own, and the shining example of the New Iraq would be a beacon to other countries in the Middle East which would follow suit, and everyone would live happily ever after.

Perhaps especially the Israelis, who the Arabs and other Muslim ethnic groups in the Middle East would embrace as brother democrats.

That sounds like a fairy tale, Spot.

Spot would use the term utopian dream, but yes, grasshopper, you're right. And the utopian dream has gone so badly that guys like Al Franken, and Spot suspects Aaron Landry, too, who bought the utopian dream are frantic to dig their way out of it.

We were lied to! they say. Undoubtedly lies were told, but some people didn't buy the lies, including the person whose name Al Franken invokes so often, Paul Wellstone. Wellstone took some council from Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer in making up his mind to oppose the war, by the way. Mark Dayton didn't buy the bull, either.

But now if we leave, all hell will break loose! they say. As the statistics above show, we've done an admirable job of creating hell in Iraq as it is. Now, we're paying and arming the Sunnis to stop shooting at us, and we supporting the largely Shi'ite national army, too. We're probably just making an eventual civil war bigger. Our presence is not helping displaced Iraqis go home. Much better to take some of the twelve billion dollars a month we spend on the occupation and channel it for reconstruction and resettlement through the UN, NGOs, and neighboring countries.

[after a pause] You're kind of anti-Semitic, aren't you Spot?

No, grasshopper, I'm not. What makes you say that?

Well, if the fairy tale, or the utopian dream as you call it, was about protecting Israel, isn't our presence in Iraq at least partly about protecting Israel from the Muslim hordes? After all, there are groups, and people like that I'm a Dinner Jacket guy who want to destroy Israel. That's what Aaron is talking about when he mentions "stability of the Middle East." *

On the other hand, grasshopper, Israel has not said it wants to destroy the Palestinians, but they're actually doing a pretty good job of it. Building settlements, cutting down Arab olive trees, balkanizing the ever diminishing Palestinian land in the West Bank, and turning Gaza into a macabre Warsaw ghetto theme park.

In Palestine, the formerly oppressed Jews of Europe have become the oppressors, of the Palestinians. That's not a popular thing to say in some quarters, but it is true. Spot talked about it as length in Dumb ol' Jimmy Carter.

And until we have an intervention with out friends the Israelis, to get them out of the West Bank, among other things, there isn't going to be peace between Israel and Palestine. Even Tom Friedman seems to understand that.

Since Israel is seen as the U.S. proxy in the Middle East, until that peace comes, we cannot be at peace ourselves.

*Update: This is an example of "dog-whistle politics." Spotty knows from dog whistles.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Drinking Liberally tomorrow (Thursday) night

Where were we, boys and girls? Oh, yes. Drinking Liberally tomorrow night at the 331 Club in Nordeast Minneapolis. Regular time, six to nine.

Perhaps well have a post-convention debriefing with the group breaking into two subcaucuses: the triumphal Frankenians and the despairing JNP-ites ( although Jack would probably have nothing to do with the latter).

Alternatively, or in addition, perhaps we can discuss blogger protocol.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sore loser

Hey, Spot! We haven't heard from you for a while. You're not sore about Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer's loss in his race for the DFL endorsement for the U.S. Senate are you?

Moi? Of course not, grasshopper.

Are you sure? You seem kind of, well, sullen.

Okay, maybe a little.

A little? Looks like a major funk to me.

All right. You're right. Spot's got to blow off a little steam.

Just let it out, Spot; that's what you always tell us to do.

The DFL just took a pass on the most authentic candidate since Paul Wellstone. Authentic is the word that Spot heard last weekend over and over to describe Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer. Instead, the DFL chose a candidate who insures that the campaign will not be about the war in Iraq, military spending, health care, the environment, education, tax equity, campaign finance, or any of the other issues on which Jack has spoken so directly and so well.

No, instead we'll have a debate about whether Al Franken is a humorist, a satirist, a misogynist, or just a potty mouth. Or maybe whether his jokes about gays and lesbians were appropriate. Al Franken: a softball right over the plate, belt high.

There were two principal points in Al's speech to the convention before the vote was taken.

The first was pay no attention to the man on the screen or in print for thirty years; he's not who I really am. Okay Al, maybe so, but we're and you're going to spend most of the energy on the campaign proving that. Maybe we can find some dirt on Norm; then we'll have a real mud wrestling match! Al was a good wrestler; maybe he'll win.

The second was I can raise a humongous amount of money. That will probably be Al's political epitaph: He Raised a Lot of Money, May He Rest in Peace.

Money raising is the Franken supporters' mantra; it is their way of saying electable. But, in the last two cycles, Democrats chose the electable John Kerry and the electable Mike Hatch. and it's a recipe for selecting the candidate who's the most meaningless and uninspiring to everybody, perhaps especially the swing voters who are willing to look at a candidate from either party who impresses and inspires them.

This weekend, Spot asked several Franken supporters to name a single policy position of Al's they liked better than Jack's. Most couldn't, and they all came back to the "he'll raise a humongous amount of money" line.

Look way into the future (Spot hopes), boys and girls, and imagine the funerals of Al and Jack. Al, well he raised a lot of money; Jack's life was monument to peace and economic and social justice. Spot imagines that the eulogies will be quite different.

Not that some of Al's fawning sycophants haven't tried to justify Al on a policy basis. Take for example one of the sniggering claque of Franken bloggers, Aaron Landry, who posted a pre-convention paean to Al. Aaron says that Al is better on the environment, but doesn't say why except to note that the famous Minnesotan Al Gore endorsed Al Franken, and health care by noting that both Jack and Al think that a single payer system is best.

But our confused friend Aaron emits his biggest gas cloud when he writes about Jack's position on Iraq. Jack says the occupation is not doing any good, the numbers of internally-displaced persons continues to grow, and all we're doing is arming all the parties to whatever civil conflict lies ahead for Iraq. Jack wants to withdraw.

Aaron finds this position "truly frightening" and keens about a humanitarian crisis. This, of course, is exactly how war supporters want you to react to justify keeping at least some troops in Iraq indefinitely.

It becomes apparent, though, that Aaron's real fear is that the Democrats will be blamed for anything that happens in the aftermath of our departure. What a heroic little fellow our Aaron is! To illustrate his position, he posts one of Spot's videos of Jack responding to a question about that very thing.

The funny thing is, though, when Spot posted a comment with a link to some of Spot's writing on this issue, by way of refutation, little Aaron deleted the comment because Spot is a pseudonym.

You mean little Aaron used your video and then wouldn't let you comment on it? That's kind of chickenshit, isn't it, Spotty?

Mind your tongue, grasshopper, but you, boys and girls, will have to decide if the grasshopper's characterization is accurate.

And now, grasshopper, we will speak of this no more.

Unless provoked.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Out of sight, but not out of mind

And now, boys and girls, Spot will be gone, probably until next week. Class is not dismissed, however, because MNO may have some things lined up.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Author of the "Friedman Unit" actually says something useful

Tom Friedman, the author of the Friedman Unit, had a surprisingly useful observation in a column today:

Without a radically pragmatic new approach — one that gets Israel moving out of the West Bank, gets the Palestinian Authority real control and sovereignty, but one which also addresses the deep mistrust by bringing in Jordan as a Palestinian partner — any draft treaty will be dead on arrival.

Of course, it wouldn't be our Tommy if he didn't bury the lede by placing the quoted paragraph last in the column. And when pragmatism is radical, you know the ideologues are in charge.

But still.

For the Record

What Melissa said.

Update: What Melissa says, part 2.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Jack speaks and you should listen

Tomorrow, Wednesday, the prohibitive favorite for the DFL Senate endorsement, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, will be on MPR's Midday with Gary Eichten. Not sure which hour, eleven or twelve.

Update: Jack was on at eleven. You can listen at the link if you missed it. Apparently, Al Franken was also invited to make it a joint appearance, but Al declined.

At least at the Convention, there will be a one hour Q&A that Al won't be able to evade.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Hillary supporter bursts into song!

In the new hit operetta buffa, The Thief from Chicago, Kim Frederick sings the aria O! Mia Pista Offa! It follows the rejection of the argument she made in the plaintive recicative Whole Chairs for my People, about the Florida and Michigan delegations.

The entire operetta, in several hundred acts, has been playing around the country since the beginning of the year when it opened in Iowa.

Thousands have thrilled to the intrigue of Bill and Hillary's duet A Shiv for Barry, which appeared first in South Carolina but has been featured several times since then. It recalled for many the Pearlfishers' Duet as sung by Jussi Bjorling and Robert Merrill.

And who can forget Hillary's coloratura rendition of He's a Black Man After All! There is remarkable staging for this aria, particularly, with a sinister black man in a turban who wields a sword menacingly in the background as Hillary sings.

Presently, all signs point to a denouement soon. When it comes, Hillary will sing the achingly sorrowful I'm Too Old to Be a Ballerina, and the stage will go momentarily black.

Then, with a cacophony of dissonant chords from the orchestra, the chorus and all the extras will stream off the stage, spitting the epithet McCain! McCain!