Caught In Passing…Er, Something

My goodness.  The local leftybloggers are having what passes for a field day in their circles with my statement, in the previous post, that I am the foremost feminist I, or (likely) you, know.

Local rentablogger and Soros byatch talkingpointbot Jeff Fecke notes:

(Note to super-feminist Mitch Berg: this is why distinguishing between “gender” and “equity” feminism is prima facie evidence that you’re not a feminist:

No, Jeff, it’s prima facie evidence that you and I disagree, and that you got your views of “feminism” from the bottom of some fembot’s stiletto as it sank into your throat.   

My view of the difference between Equity and Gender feminism is coherent with, among many others, that of Camille Paglia – and if you want to tell her that she’s, um, prima facia not a feminist, I’ll be happy to sell tickets to people who want to watch her twist your giblets into party animal shapes (rhetorically speaking, of course).

 there’s no equity without adjusting our view of gender.) 

That’s one of those statements that’s about nine syllables too long to be a protest chant, but is usually spoken/written with about the same level of consideration – and it dodges my point (most likely without really knowing it, or why).

Views of gender change.  Doy.

But in an age when women have, for most practical purposes, achieved equity with men in the workplace and in society (yeah, yeah, there are exceptions, bla bla bla.  And I have a fifteen year old daughter who’d going to be going out into the world before too terribly long, so if anyone wants to compare how much they’re onto these exceptions with me, they’re in for a rude, smugness-cracking surprise), the current strain of “gender feminists” aren’t so much “adjusting our views of gender” as they are – to quote the Friesians - engaging in a social revolution…:

…which is essentially based on a form of Marxist theory that substitutes “gender” for Marx’s category of “class,” or simply adds the two together, usually with “race” thrown in. This sort of “race, class, and gender” theory is typically a dangerous form of political moralism, with the same totalitarian characteristics as other versions of Marxism have proven to display. One consequence of this is that the substantive content of criticism is rarely addressed but that it is considered sufficient to vilify critics as, in effect, “class enemies,” i.e. directing ad hominem arguments against them that their status, in terms of race, class, or gender, or simply in terms of their critical attitude, is sufficient to refute their arguments. Hence the convenient device of dismissing most of Western civilization as the product of “dead white males” — though for feminism the inconvenient fact remains that Eastern and Middle Eastern civilization (and every other) must also be dismissed as the products of “dead non-white males.”  

In other words, save the slogans, Jeff.  “Adjusting our view of gender” has little or nothing to do with “gender feminism”. 

SIDE NOTE:   Given that we’re dealing with Soros’ kids here, I’ll take bets on which response will come out first:

  1. Rew from Powerliberal/MNMoney:  “Bwahahaha!  Mitch has a crush on me”
  2. Jeff Fecke from BlogOModLeft/MNMoney:  “Why does Mitch Berg hate women?”

Place your bets now.

Why It’s So Hard To Explain Things To Ultraliberals

First things first:  I am the most feminist person I know. 

Seriously. I have a daughter.  I want her to be able to go wherever her merits and qualifications take her in her life, whether it’s a career or domestic life or…whatever.  So if and where equity is the goal of feminism, I’m totally on board.

Of course, in the vast majority of our society, the equity feminists have long since won the battles that matter.  Feminists with any common sense are currently sorting out the aftermath of those victories (how many women really want to put off having kids to join the work force?), but for the most part the “war” for women’s equality is down to a mopping-up operation.

Now, the feminism that’s most concerned with establishing womyn as a separate fiefdon with its own victimology-based pseudo-religion?  Not so much. 

So you’d figure – rightly – that a blog called “Feministe” would provide a rich vein of fisking material.  Someone planted a bomb at an Austin, TX abortion mill “female health clinic”. 

Had that bomb been found outside a post office or a school, the headlines would have been hysterically running on about ZOMG TERRORISM TERRORISM IS AL QAEDA INVOLVED?

Dunno, “Zuzu”; statistically, bombs in the US aren’t aren’t nearly as rare as we’d like.

And the right-wing warbloggers would be pissing their pants and hyperventilating about profiling Arabs and banning Muslims from public life and dhimmitude and how if they had been there, they’d have stopped it with their concealed carry and their extra-super special powers of righteousness, just like they saw in a movie once and BOMB IRAN! and 9/11 CHANGED EVERYTHING!!!

Are we done yet?

No? 

but they still have better things to do than join the military, but they’ll be happy to go into the woods and hunt Russians and shout WOLVERINES!!

But it’s an abortion clinic, so. Ho-hum.

Now are you done?

Yes?

Is it “terrorism” to put a bomb in an abortion clinic, with an aim toward scaring people out of being suppliers or consumers? Absolutely.  And as anti-abortion as we are, I don’t think you can find a single credible right-of-center voice that doesnt’ condemn it.

But is a bomb in an abortion clinic the deeply-evil act of a person who is putting his or her personal quest to protect human life above the law of the land, or part of a coordinated attack against the US?

For some reason, terrorism doesn’t count if it’s directed against women and their health care providers.

Er, right.  Which is why protestors at Planned Parenthood clinics are kept across the street, right? 

 It’s just not news, and the fact that it goes unremarked in the national media — and hell, even in the local media, as in the case of the Austin bomb — contributes to the idea that women are not important and that violence directed at women is not only to be expected, but to be dismissed.

To the extent that it didn’t get covered in the news, it’s more a symptom of the values of the news industry; nobody bleeds, the story doesn’t lead.  It’s worth noting that while abortion-related violence has been declining, eco-terrorism has been growing, even though the media aren’t knocking themselves out covering that, either.

Does that mean that the nation doesn’t care about loggers and meat producers?  Or that it’s really not news?

But if all you’re after is to assuage your own sense of invincible righteous victimhood, knock yourself out.

And I don’t mean “knock yourself out” to imply I support domestic violence against women, even if it’s self-inflicted.  We’re clear on this, right? 

UPDATE: Lesser feminists than I chortle at my opening sentence, proving two things: Twin Cities leftybloggers are largely incapable of carrying on a logical discussion (preferring, with a few exceptions, snark and obscenity), and George Soros is a terrible comparison shopper.

Seriously, Rew:  try to ding my premise.  Preferably in terms other than “bwahahaha” or “Mitch has a crush on me”.  Side benefit:  If you manage to do either and/or avoid dumb scatology or wondering why I’m not in the Army, you’ll be staging a better argument than 95% of leftybloggers, including the entire Minnesota Monitor staff, can manage.

Betting Has Opened

The Strib sets the stage for the usual, closing-rush budget battle in the Legislature:

So far, Pawlenty’s attitude has amounted to “fat chance.” Secure in the knowledge that DFLers need Republican votes to thwart his will, the governor instead has threatened to veto every spending bill in sight.

Who wins the staredown in the final three weeks of the legislative session could determine whether schools get their biggest funding increase in years, who gets health care and whether Minnesota’s rich will pay the highest state income tax rate in the nation.

That may sound like all the ingredients necessary for a stalemate similar to the deadlock in 2005, which led to a partial government shutdown and a special legislative session. But DFLers and Pawlenty sound acutely aware that there are few special session scenarios in which either side emerges a winner.

Let’s take our bets for the stock characters we’ll see in the Strib over the next three weeks:

  • Republicans who criticize the Governor and side with the DFL being portrayed as “courageous”, “mavericks” and “a nod to the good old days when the GOP and DFL got along”; 2000-1 in favor.
  • The Taxpayers’ League portrayed as the villains: 22000-1 in favor.
  • Schools being depicted as cash-starved underdogs: 300-1 in favor.
  • Peevish huffing from Nick Coleman to the GOP to act the way the GOP did back in the seventies, when the GOP acted like beaten dogs who only wanted the DFL to love them:  5-1 in favor.
  • Arrogant snarking from Doug Grow to the GOP to act the way the GOP did back in the seventies, when the GOP acted like beaten dogs who only wanted the DFL to love them:  12-1 in favor.
  • Anguished plea from Lori Sturdevant to the GOP to act the way the GOP did back in the seventies, when the GOP acted like beaten dogs who only wanted the DFL to love them:  500,000-1 in favor.

The floor is open.

The Insane Charging The Insane

A student’s creative writing essay – in which he was instructed not to censor himself! – leads to arrest, charges.

A high school senior was arrested after writing that “it would be funny” to dream about opening fire in a building and having sex with the dead victims, authorities said.

Another passage in the essay advised his teacher at Cary-Grove High School: “don’t be surprised on inspiring the first CG shooting,” according to a criminal complaint filed this week.

Allen Lee, 18, faces two disorderly conduct charges over the creative-writing assignment, which he was given on Monday in English class at the northern Illinois school.

Students were told to “write whatever comes to your mind. Do not judge or censor what you are writing,” according to a copy of the assignment.

I’m not sure what part bothers me the most here; that the student was arrested, that he was charged with “disorderly conduct” for essentially following his directions (albeit tastelessly and flippantly, as we’ll see below) or that if you take the statement below seriously, he was quite clearly looking to poke and prod the system:

According to the complaint, Lee’s essay reads in part, “Blood, sex and booze. Drugs, drugs, drugs are fun. Stab, stab, stab, stab, stab, s…t…a…b…puke. So I had this dream last night where I went into a building, pulled out two P90s and started shooting everyone, then had sex with the dead bodies. Well, not really, but it would be funny if I did.”

Officials described the essay as disturbing and inappropriate.

Lee said he was just following the directions.

“In creative writing, you’re told to exaggerate,” Lee said. “It was supposed to be just junk. … There definitely is violent content, but they’re taking it out of context and making it something it isn’t.”

The system is reacting with the same common sense that I’ve personally come to love about the public (and too many private) school systems:

Lee was moved to an off-campus learning program, and the district was evaluating a punishment, schools spokesman Jeff Puma said.

“It wasn’t just violent or foul language,” Puma said. “It went beyond that.”

The teenager’s father, Albert Lee, has defended his son as a straight-A student who was just following instructions and contends the school overreacted. But he has also said he understands that the situation arose in the week after a Virginia Tech student gunned down 32 people before committing suicide.

Defense attorney Dane Loizzo said Allen Lee has never been disciplined in school and signed Marine enlistment papers last week.

A conviction could bring up to 30 days in jail and a maximum $1,500 fine.

Maybe Lee should treat it as “performance art” parodying the institutionalized paranoia of a system that has lost the ability to discern reality.

 

 

Msistlav Rostropovich

Cello was my first instrument.  And when I was learning it – especially later in high school and college, when I was the most serious in pursuing the instrument – Msistlav Rostropovich was one of the titans of the instrument that I looked up to, much like I did Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan and eventually Richard Thompson on the guitar; the guy who set the level everyone else had to aspire to.

Mstislav Rostropovich, the legendary Russian cellist and conductor whose molten intensity, interpretive imagination, and technical brilliance won him critical acclaim and widespread audience adoration as well as close friendships with three of the era’s great composers, died early this morning. The Russian press reported that he died in a Moscow cancer hospital. He was 80 years old.

Mr. Rostropovich was recognized as one of the great string players of the modern era and the last of the celebrated mid-century Soviet titans, who included the violinist David Oistrakh and the pianist Sviatoslav Richter.
Along the way, Rostropovich curried a love of Russian culcha in me that carried me through an English degree in which I may have read more Russian than British literature.

Nobody Wants Your Guns. Really.

Ed, the Prof and Quando already covered this – but since it’s near and dear to my heart, I had to touch on it.

Dan Simpson, a “retired diplomat” writing in the Toledo Blade, calls for roving gun confiscation squads. Read his piece and, in between bits and pieces of extraconstitutional totalitarian fantasymongering, find the standard-issue gun-controller Potemkin statements (because they’re almost always there):

The likely underestimate of how many guns are wandering around America runs at 240 million in a population of about 300 million. What was clear last week is that at least two of those guns were in the wrong hands.

Unmentioned; none of them were in the right hands.

Had they been – as they have in several other attempted massacres over the years – and had Virginia Tech not been a “gun free zone”, things might have turned out differently.

Cue Potemkin watch:

Because I have little or no power to influence the “if” part of the issue, I will stick with the “how.” And before anyone starts to hyperventilate and think I’m a crazed liberal zealot wanting to take his gun from his cold, dead hands, let me share my experience of guns.

As a child I played cowboys and Indians with cap guns. I had a Daisy Red Ryder B-B gun. My father had in his bedside table drawer an old pistol which I examined surreptitiously from time to time. When assigned to the American embassy in Beirut during the war in Lebanon, I sometimes carried a .357 Magnum, which I could fire accurately. I also learned to handle and fire a variety of weapons while I was there, including Uzis and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
I don’t have any problem with hunting, although blowing away animals with high-powered weapons seems a pointless, no-contest affair to me. I suppose I would enjoy the fellowship of the experience with other friends who are hunters.
Bingo. We have the big three; “Hunting is different”, “I grew up around guns, so I’m OK”, and “I have found MY life to be worth protecting, but…“.
Three for three.
Since he’s noted all of the big three, and that he’s “no liberal zealot”, let’s move on to his actual “proposal”:

Now, how would one disarm the American population? First of all, federal or state laws would need to make it a crime punishable by a $1,000 fine and one year in prison per weapon to possess a firearm. The population would then be given three months to turn in their guns, without penalty.

In other words, violating the part of the Constitution about taking property without compensation (to say nothing about the Second – remember that? – Amendment).
Hunters would be able to deposit their hunting weapons in a centrally located arsenal, heavily guarded, from which they would be able to withdraw them each hunting season upon presentation of a valid hunting license. The weapons would be required to be redeposited at the end of the season on pain of arrest. When hunters submit a request for their weapons, federal, state, and local checks would be made to establish that they had not been convicted of a violent crime since the last time they withdrew their weapons. In the process, arsenal staff would take at least a quick look at each hunter to try to affirm that he was not obviously unhinged.
I love that; government employees (at a “central arsenal” that the government can magically afford!) performing snap psychiatric evaluations.
The odds are better than even that the “arsenal”‘s employees will be more prone to unhingement than the customers (see: postal workers).

 

All antique or interesting non-hunting weapons would be required to be delivered to a local or regional museum, also to be under strict 24-hour-a-day guard. There they would be on display, if the owner desired, as part of an interesting exhibit of antique American weapons, as family heirlooms from proud wars past or as part of collections.

 

I’m trying to figure out in what world the author, a retired bureaucrat, finds this system of “regional museums”.
Here comes the fun part:

The disarmament process would begin after the initial three-month amnesty. Special squads of police would be formed and trained to carry out the work. Then, on a random basis to permit no advance warning, city blocks and stretches of suburban and rural areas would be cordoned off and searches carried out in every business, dwelling, and empty building. All firearms would be seized. The owners of weapons found in the searches would be prosecuted: $1,000 and one year in prison for each firearm.

 

Clearly, since such sweeps could not take place all across the country at the same time. But fairly quickly there would begin to be gun-swept, gun-free areas where there should be no firearms.

 

Warrantless searches conducted at random to trash the Second Amendment without regard to whether the victim is a criminal or is was a law-abiding citizen?
Nope. He’s no liberal zealot. Move along, nothing to see here.

 

The scary part is, the ACLU probably wouldn’t raise a stink about it.

If there were, those carrying them would be subject to quick confiscation and prosecution. On the streets it would be a question of stop-and-search of anyone, even grandma with her walker, with the same penalties for “carrying.”

 

As Ed said, one hopes this article is satire. I’ve put in a call to the author, to ask him on the NARN to find out for sure. I’m not holding my breath.

 

The “gun lobby” would no doubt try to head off in the courts the new laws and the actions to implement them. They might succeed in doing so, although the new approach would undoubtedly prompt new, vigorous debate on the subject. In any case, some jurisdictions would undoubtedly take the opportunity of the chronic slowness of the courts to begin implementing the new approach.

 

The biggest question I have out of this piece of fascist bilge is “how many retired career elitist bureaucrats actually think this way” – that government is their personal little squad of jackboots to turn loose to implement their society’s vision, Constitution be damned?

 

America’s long land and sea borders present another kind of problem. It is easy to imagine mega-gun dealerships installing themselves in Mexico, and perhaps in more remote parts of the Canadian border area, to funnel guns into the United States. That would constitute a problem for American immigration authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard, but not an insurmountable one over time.

 

Yeah. It’s worked so well with drugs.

There could conceivably also be a rash of score-settling during hunting season as people drew out their weapons, ostensibly to shoot squirrels and deer, and began eliminating various of their perceived two-footed enemies. Given the general nature of hunting weapons and the fact that such killings are frequently time-sensitive, that seems a lesser sort of issue.

Where “lesser issue” means “it doesn’t happen today, and is entirely the figment of Mr. Simpson’s paranoid, fascist imagination”.
That is my idea of how it could be done. The desire to do so on the part of the American people is another question altogether, but one clearly raised again by the Blacksburg tragedy.
The only thing that’s been raised, if this article is any indication, is one bureaucrat’s sense of latent fascism.
It WOULD be cool if he turned up on the NARN tomorrow.

My greatest consolation? Knowing that even the loopiest liberals are, if nothing else, too pragmatic to be this moronic and deluded.

In A House In Paris, All Covered In Vines…

One of my favorite parts of having little kids, back when I had little kids, was the whole Madeline series of books, by Ludwig Bemelmans.  I’d read the stories (or occasionally watch the first-run series of cartoons on the subject, narrated by Christopher Plummer, which didn’t mangle the stories or art too badly), and they’d both be reeled in.  The stories were my favorite kids books; low-key, but magical. 

Sheila notes that today is Bemelmans’ birthday:

I always loved the Madeline books, and still do. Madeline: the red-haired feisty rebellious girl in the convent school, the one who always gets in trouble (even if it’s just getting her appendix taken out) – but the one who is also most loved.

I loved how Miss Clavel woke up in the middle of the night, in her cavernous bedroom, sitting up in her cavernous bed with the draperies hanging above it … and she said to herself: “Something is not right!”

She got a candle, and ran down the hallway (the illustrations are so dramatic, so wonderful) and burst into the dormitory, to see Madeline moaning in her bed, all the other little girls sitting up, awake, worried … Madeline is rushed to the hospital to have her appendix taken out. Things might have gone very wrong that night if it weren’t for Miss Clavel’s powers of prophetic thinking. How many problems could be solved if we woke up in the middle of the night, alarmed, and said to ourselves: “Something is not right!”

Sigh.

It’ll be fun having grandkids.

Someday.  No hurry on that.

When In Damascus, Do As The Demasculated Do

Brian Ward on noted feminists Nancy Pelosi and Betty “Rubble” McCollumn’s be-hijabbed visits to Greater Islam:

[T]here is something amusing about feminists like Pelosi and McCollum merrily donning the hijab, which has the primary purpose of hiding one’s femaleness, lest you enflame the attentions of men. If that’s what they want to do, fine. When in a patriarchy, do as the patriarchs tell you, I guess.

Check it out.

He Said, He Said

So as Gary Miller notes, Rudy Giuliani didn’t exactly say, as I reported the other day, “If a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.”

So to preserve the universal stasis, Gary adds…:

That didn’t stop Senator Obama from saying Giuliani had taken the “politics of fear” to a new low.

Well, the Mayor may not have said it but I am, Senator.

If you or Ms. Rodham are elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.

Any questions, beotch?

None here.

No Headline Really Needed

If you’d have asked me twenty minutes ago about the fields that seemed to combine the least long-term upside with the most short-term danger or at least unpleasantness, I’d have suggested:

5. Ryan Rhodes’ plumber

4. Minnesota Monitor’s journalism teacher

3. Courtney Love’s accountant

2. Moslem sex-advice radio host.

1. Etiquette consultant for Democrat bloggers

Twenty minutes later, I see I’m totally wrong:

Dr. Heba Kotb is tackling a taboo in the Arab world unlike anyone else: She’s talking about sex openly on a show broadcast all over the Middle East.

It’s a big first in these parts of the world, and Kotb leaves little uncovered.

“We talk about masturbation … sex over the Internet. We talk about sex and Ramadan. We talk about the wedding night,” said Kotb. Entitled “The Big Talk,” the show is broadcast once a week over a satellite channel from Cairo, Egypt.

It took the 39-year-old mother three years of negotiations to get her show on the air. And a main reason she succeeded is that she talks only about sex allowed in the Quran — sex between husband and wife. (Watch sexologist describe why sex is good Video)

But even with that guideline, it’s no easy sell.

The promo for “The Big Talk” starts with Kotb saying, “Sex. Don’t be afraid. Join me to talk about sex without shame.”

I’m assuming there will be plenty of burka-related questions.

Calling A Spade A Big Nasty Spade

Michael Chertoff on the Dems’ mania for softpedaling the war on terror:

The impulse to minimize the threat we face is eerily reminiscent of the way America’s leaders played down the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolutionary fanaticism in the late 1970s. That naive approach ultimately foundered on the kidnapping of our diplomats in Tehran.

A sensible strategy against Al-Qaida and others in its ideological terror network begins with recognizing the scope of the threat they pose. Al-Qaida and its ilk have a world vision that is comparable to that of historical totalitarian ideologues but adapted to the 21st-century global network.

Is this actually a war? Well, the short answer comes from our enemies. Osama bin Laden’s fatwa of Feb. 23, 1998, was a declaration of war, a self-serving accusation that America had somehow declared war on Islam, followed by a “ruling” to “kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military … in any country where it is possible to do it.”

It’s on this misapprehension, I have to hope, that the Democrats will founder in ’08. 

Weasel Words

By now, everyone’s heard about Alec Baldwin’s profane rant at his daughter via voice mail.

And a good chunk of America – including some who’d claim to know better – has taken sides; Baldwin is the bad guy, according to much conventional wisdom.  And of course, calling your daughter a “pig” is very, very bad form, to say the least; don’t do it, Dads.

And yet. 

In most of these divorce squabbles, it does indeed take two to tango.  And while venting at his daughter was a very bad thing, the fact is that Baldwin’s ex, Kim Basinger, is providing ample grounds for anger:

Basinger is facing trial on 12 misdemeanor counts of criminal contempt for allegedly disregarding court orders concerning Baldwin’s visitation rights.

 I’ve known a lot of divorced dads in my day – guys who don’t have publicists, who can’t even afford lawyers to go to court over things like their ex-wives keeping their kids from them (although they’re happy to cash the child support checks).  For most of these guys, guys who don’t have Baldwin’s resources to fight endlessly in court, the anger turns inward; depression, self-destructive behavior, booze.   The simple fact is – as Basinger’s record shows – there are very few serious consequences for interfering with a father’s visitation in this country.

Once you get past the flagrancy of Baldwin’s tirade, the question you might ask yourself is – “Who’s the pig?

“Kim Basinger did not release the voice mail. Additionally, the voice mail was not sealed under a court order,” said publicist Annett Wolf.

Catch that?  “We deny releasing it, but there’s nothing saying I can’t, so it’s not illegal even if I did!”

Baldwin’s voice mail was stupid.  And I make no claims to clairvoyance; I don’t know that it was the result of pent-up anger and frustration over Basinger’s apparent sabotage of his relationship with his daughter.  But, Baldwin’s politics aside (way aside), I’d like as a father to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Because it might seem he’d have it coming.

Call A Spade A Spade

I’ve always been ambivalent about Rudy “Freakin’” Giuliani.  On the one hand, he’s never been a conservative in terms of his personal approach and too many of his policy initiatives.

On the other hand, he’s a genuine leader. 

And – unlike too many candidates, including all the Democrats – he understands the situation in this world – and that the Democrats’ perception of this world froze solid on 9/10:

Rudy Giuliani said if a Democrat is elected president in 2008, America will be at risk for another terrorist attack on the scale of Sept. 11, 2001.

But if a Republican is elected, he said, especially if it is him, terrorist attacks can be anticipated and stopped.

“If any Republican is elected president —- and I think obviously I would be the best at this —- we will remain on offense and will anticipate what [the terrorists] will do and try to stop them before they do it,” Giuliani said.

And while “anticipate” might not have been the most judicious choice of words, the real choice – between the party that knows there’s a war going on and the one that denies it as hard as they can – couldn’t be more stark.

The former New York City mayor, currently leading in all national polls for the Republican nomination for president, said Tuesday night that America would ultimately defeat terrorism no matter which party gains the White House.

“But the question is how long will it take and how many casualties will we have?” Giuliani said. “If we are on defense [with a Democratic president], we will have more losses and it will go on longer.”

“I listen a little to the Democrats and if one of them gets elected, we are going on defense,” Giuliani continued. “We will wave the white flag on Iraq. We will cut back on the Patriot Act, electronic surveillance, interrogation and we will be back to our pre-Sept. 11 attitude of defense.”

Bingo.

That’s the key to the whole thing; if the Dems win, they will cede the initiative to the enemy.  And ceding the initiative is how nations lose.

He added: “The Democrats do not understand the full nature and scope of the terrorist war against us.”

After his speech to the Rockingham County Lincoln Day Dinner, I asked him about his statements and Giuliani said flatly: “America will be safer with a Republican president.”

He’s got that going for him.

Disconnect

On the other hand, CP’s choice for best leftyblog is a real howler – “Cucking Stool”. 

Oh, the Cuck is just another lefty snarkblog, sort of like Jeff Fecke only as narrated by a fictional dog.

But this part was hilarious (emphasis added):

 The site also benefits from MNObserver’s legal background, especially when dissecting current events such as the firing of U.S. attorneys, the Blois Olson vs. Michael Brodkorb lawsuit,

“Benefits” like presenting the Olson v. Brodkorb case’s disposition completely wrong (on Norwegianity, one of the several other blogs for which she writes. Indeed, all leftybloggers seem to write for several other blogs; in fact, I wonder if there’s a leftyblogger not represented on every leftyblog).

Note to Cuck:  Hope you fare better than last year’s “best leftyblog” winner.

Clear Sympathies

First things first – congratulations to MOB blog “Faithmouse” for winning City Pages “Best Right Wing Blog” award.

We hope they survive it.

I’ve been reading Faithmouse for about a year and half.  It’s good stuff. 

But I think I know what the City Pages really likes about it:

 In examining the dozens of right-wing sites on its blog roll, one can easily surmise where local cartoonist Dan Lacey’s sympathies lie. But judging the cartoons he prolifically posts will leave one scratching one’s head more times that not.

In other words, the City Pages loooves conservatism that doesn’t actually come out and say it.

Gotcha.

Let The Healing Begin. Or Retribution.

“Be careful what you wish for.  You may get it”.

That old adage has been proven truer than ever today, as Nih[i]list in Golf Pants not only loses in its nakedly transparent bid for a repeat win in the coveted (by leftybloggers and Nihilist) City Pages “Best Blogger (Right Wing)” award.

The extent to which so-called “conservative” bloggers Nihililst, Sisyphus and JB were willing to whore and befoul themselves for this piece of filthy, patchouli-reeking lucre is obvious in their despair (emphasis added):

We’ve come up with hilarious top 11 list after hilarious top 11 list, some even anti-Republican. We’ve taken shots at right-wing bloggers that City Pages hates like Power Line and Mitch Berg. We even turned down the $20 cash Swiftee offered us to remove our Best of the Cities 2006 link thingee. We’ve done everything it takes to repeat, except one thing: draw cartoons.

Turning on the Republican bloggers who nurtured them.  Stabbing (in an ineffectual way) those who supported them.  Sniffing Paul Demko’s farts. 

You almost feel sorry for them. 

Almost. 

Sorry for the “loss”, NIGP crew.  But it’s good that you’ve shown your true, “blue” colors.

I bet those lattes at Lurcat talking about The Current, those evenings at Chino debating the labor theory of value, and those nights at the Bryant Lake Bowl watching nude lesbian poetry slams seem pretty hollow now, don’t they?

Attention, Minneapolis Community Technical College

I’m Mitch Berg.  I’m a critic of your institution’s idea to evaluate installing – at taxpayer’s expense – a foot bath for Moslem students.

But here’s a question that might sway me.  Since washing feet – the feet of others, in this case – has a tradition in Christianity that was practiced by Christ himself, I’m wondering; would I, a Christian, be able to wash feet in this foot bath (following Christ’s example, I’d be washing the feet of others rather than my own – a typically-Christian model of self-abnegation, if you know what I mean [1])?

Of course, since the Constitution (as interpreted by the same people who require government workers to remove Christian holiday ornaments from their work spaces) forbids any taxpayer support of faith, I suppose we’re still out of luck, right?

Anyway – please get back to me on this.

Continue reading

Avoiding The Question

The Strib takes a whack at Katherine Kersten, and at all of you who take umbrage at Minneapolis Community Technical College’s investigation into installing foot baths for Moslem students:

Minneapolis Community and Technical College has been bombarded with letters and e-mails — most of them hostile, some of them hateful — since disclosing that it is considering the installation of a foot bath for some Muslim students to use before prayer. This reaction is out of proportion to the modest and cautious inquiry the school has undertaken, and it is certainly out of keeping with Minnesota’s long tradition of social tolerance and temperate thinking.

Actually, it’d be out of keeping with Institutional Minnesota’s traditional self-glorifying view of itself.  Minnesota has plenty of racist skeletons in its closet, from the Duluth lynchings to the Russell Shimooka affair. 

If the downtown Minneapolis school were discriminating in favor of Islam and against other faiths, we would understand the outrage. But it’s not. When Christian students asked for space to study the Bible and conduct prayers, the school obliged them. When a Jewish student asked to reschedule an assignment because of a religious observance, the college agreed.

Small interpersonal affordances are fine – and different. 

The Strib Editorial Board should ask itself “if a Catholic, Protestant or Jewish group asked MCTC for a capital expenditure to modify a building to be more congruent with their religious practices, how far do they think it’d get?

They seem to have learned “logic” from the Minnesota Monitor:

And so the school found itself wading into that murky question of what the Constitution’s “establishment clause” permits and forbids. In our view it has handled that question appropriately. Banning Christmas carols on the official campus coffee cart — which incensed the school’s critics — seems plainly in keeping with a long string of court rulings that forbid the use of public resources to endorse a particular religion. But accommodating the prayer practices of some devout Muslims seems akin to putting kosher items on the cafeteria menu and letting employees display religious objects in their private workspaces — accommodations that MCTC has in fact made in the past.

Surely even the Strib editorial board isn’t this dumb?  Is it?

Kosher food on the cafeteria menu, while a Jewish stricture, is not purely religious; I, a goy, seek out kosher food in many areas.  And the fact that any official body nosed into the privately-funded, privately displayed stuff on a worker’s desk is downright Orwellian.

Now – do you think the foot bath is going to be a community facility? 

But Minnesota will be a stronger state if it tackles these questions in a spirit of generosity and confidence — and who wouldn’t be confident when the state’s schools are full of pious, ambitious young people who are trying to get a college education?

Unless they’re Christians or Jews, apparently.

Intolerance In Action

I love ethnic food.  The more ethnic, in many cases, the better.

But I’m not quite sure what was in the microwave in the lunch room at work today. 

Judging by the smell, I’d say dog droppings marinaded in ammonia.

Negative Growth

Doug Grow is saved from the “distinction” of being the local media’s foremost, most pollyannaish DFL shill only by Lori Sturdevant.  He is, literally, a heartbeat away from the title.

And throughout his career, on no issue has Grow been less rooted in rationality than the gun issue.  His latest column is a further descent.  He writes about a group of mayors – including those of both of the Twin Cities – who want to reverse federal legislation restricting government access to legal gun sale transactions.

Grow writes with his customary German-jazz-band subtlety:

Here’s a brutal example of how all this plays out:

Tuesday night, two Minneapolis men were robbed, then shot and killed. It was a horrid, random crime. To the credit of Minneapolis cops, the suspected assailants were quickly found.

Now, what police would like to know is how the gun ended up in the hands of the young gang banger they believe pulled the trigger.

“Imagine if this was a drug deal,” Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan said. “You wouldn’t just want to get the guy buying the drugs on the corner; you’d want to go after the supplier.”

The feds probably have a record as to where the gun originally was bought. But Dolan said his department will be hard-pressed to get it because of the Tiahrt Amendment and the NRA.

“I’d love to pop whoever helped put that gun on our streets,” Dolan said. “Whoever did belongs in prison, too. But the NRA is very powerful.”

Notice what Grow has done; tied the NRA, via a rhetorical back channel, to a murder.  Framed the Minneapolis Police Department as plucky underdogs against the big bad National Rifle Association.  Implied that the Tiahrt Amendment makes it impossible for the cops to zoom directly in on the gun’s illegal supplier.

What Grow does not do – because it would show a sentient reader that Grow’s case is buncombe – is explain what the “Tiahrt Amendment” really is and really does. 

David Kopel explains it all in this excellent piece in NRO.  Read it, and remember its details, while reading Grow’s piece.  Compare fact and reality.  Kopel (who I shall italicize, to distinguish him from Grow) writes:

the appropriations bill reinforces existing provisions in federal and local gun laws prohibiting the release of those records that are allowed to be kept on gun owners. Federal law requires that dealers inform federal law enforcement any time a person purchases two or more handguns in a 5-day period. Current law requires the federal government to keep private the names of lawful purchasers.

In other words, the Tiahrt Amendment protects the law-abiding gun owner from government surveillance and harassment. 

Which is the sort of thing the typical anti-NRA shill will dance about and call “paranoid”, and which a cursory look at the record shows clearly is not:

In early 2003, the Supreme Court was on the verge of hearing a case involving the city of Chicago’s attempt to obtain the name of every multiple handgun purchaser in the United States. After the case had been briefed, but before oral arguments, Congress passed an appropriation with a very specific prohibition on the release of purchaser names. In light of the appropriation language, the Supreme Court sent the case back to the lower courts. (For details on the law and the case, see my article in ABA Preview of United States Supreme Court Cases.)

 Oh, yeah – and lest you were in doubt, Grow’s thesis – that the Tiahrt Amendment hampers law-enforcement – is hogwallow:

Sometimes the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) traces a particular gun at the request of law enforcement. The trace may involve an attempt to find the owner of a stolen gun, or to learn more about a gun seized from a criminal, or it may involve a gun seized for a paperwork offense (such as failure to register the gun in some jurisdictions). BATFE traces can be useful in some cases, but they are not representative of the broad universe of guns used in crime — as Gary Kleck and I have explained.The appropriations bill requires BATFE to disclose the necessary caveats in published summaries of firearms trace data — thus preventing BATFE from using trace summaries to push a political agenda, as it did during the Clinton years.

In other words – Doug Grow’s mewling aside – the Tiahrt Amendment requires law enforcement to follow due process  in getting the records of law-abiding gun owners.

It wouldn’t be a Doug Grow Strib column on guns if there weren’t a fawning reference to some astroturf group of “anti-NRA gun owners” to complement the cartoonish facade of the NRA:

There is a new organization trying to rationally represent the interests of gun owners who are as perplexed by some NRA positions as the rest of us are. The American Hunters and Shooters Association, founded by former pro football player Ray Schoenke, is working with the mayors and police chiefs in trying to eliminate such bloody pieces of gun law as the Tiahrt Amendment.

“We’re just trying to do common-sense things,” said Schoenke, who once ran for governor of Maryland.

Common sense is a direct threat to the NRA, so Schoenke’s 18-month-old organization is being targeted.

Let’s stop right there.

Grow states this – or, to be accurate, parrots Schoenke’s statement – with not a jot of background for the reader.  Apparently he assumes his word is good enough. 

And he has to hope so, since the facts certainly gut his thesis to the bone.

But 180 mayors aren’t giving up. They keep pointing to a stunning stat: 30,000 people in the country are killed each year by firearms.

 Unstated; how many of them are killed by people who are not involved in the drug trade, or have criminal records and/or histories of chemical or mental impairment, or are suicides (which is tragic and a totally separate issue).

Also unstated:  that every year, firearms are used between 80,000 (FBI estimate) and 1.2 million (Gary Kleck’s estimate) times to deter, repel or kill criminals in the act, over 80% of the time without a shot being fired, and with over 1,000 criminals killed in legal self-defense per year.

When Doug Grow talks about guns, it’s always the interesting stuff that gets left out.

 

200 Reversals

As has been noted many times in this space, I suppor the death penalty for every possible reason except one – the possibility, indeed (given human nature) likelihood of executing the innocent.

And that is the only problem that matters; since life incarceration without parole is every bit as secure as the death penalty, and gets the prisoner just securely off the streets as death – and is reversible, if an error happens - then as much as I believe some criminals genuinely deserve death, it is the only genuinely moral approach.

Especially given this bit of news; DNA testing has just yielded its’ 200th complete exoneration:

The details of the latest exoneration are typically nightmarish: Jerry Miller served 25 years for a rape conviction and had already been paroled when DNA tests showed he could not have been the man who attacked a woman in a Chicago parking garage.

What’s also troubling is how common these exonerations have become since the first reversal in 1989. It took 13 years to reach the first 100 DNA exonerations, but just five to double that number. For prosecutors and judges, as well as defense attorneys, the exonerations raise a larger question: How many others, innocent of their crimes, are behind bars?

Advocates for extensive changes in the way cases are investigated and prosecuted see the 200 as the tip of a huge iceberg and use the word “epidemic.”

And if it’s truly that big a problem (and I allow in advance that it is in the various DNA, anti-death-penalty and reform advocates’ interest for us to think that it is), doesn’t that strike hard at the validity of the death sentence, at the very least?  If not the way prosecuting attorneys handle cases on a shockingly broad basis?

Propaganda!

I wonder what Lori Sturdevant gets out of being a full-time DFL shill?

No, I don’t mean that I think she’s on the DFL’s payroll.  That’d be a pretty defamatory thing to write about a journalist, and that’s certainly not my intent.

Although to all intents and purposes Lori Sturdevant is no more a “journalist”, these days, than Jeff Fecke.

Let’s perform a multi-level fisking of today’s editorial.  I’ll do the traditional dissection of her column; I’ll also put her various propaganda-friendly code words in bold, so we can see the “subtle” shadings of words that make her column (columns?) (entire body of post-beat-reporter work?) an exercise in DFL propaganda.

Watching the House DFL majority laboriously assemble an attractive state budget last week, while knowing that it’s destined to be dismantled by vetoes, was dispiriting work.

So I did what adroit legislators do during deficit years (which is what this year feels like, no matter how much the GOP pols yammer about a surplus). The savvy ones say, when you can’t spend, borrow. I dug out the House and Senate bonding bills, and found something to make me smile: high-speed rail to Chicago.

Beyond  Sturdevant’s reflexive bias, I’m almost starting to wonder if she regards spending itself, rather than programs or “helping” people or the actual work of government, as a virtue in its own right?

Because “smiling” at the mere mention in a bonding bill of a huge, big-ticket boondoggle?

One wonders if Sturdevant would “smile” at a bill that levied a 1% tax on, say, talk radio revenue, converted the proceeds into a huge pile of $20 bills, and lit them into a huge bonfire?

Both bills include $2 million to seriously plan for the day when Minnesotans could get on a train at a restored Union Depot in St. Paul, and disembark 5½ hours later at Union Station in downtown Chicago.

Amtrak runs from St. Paul to Chicago once per day now, and takes eight hours on a good day to do it. Even with service that slow, ridership is rising. The bonding bill proposal, sponsored by Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport, and Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, anticipates six round trips per day, at a top speed of 110 miles per hour.

One wonders if a cost/benefit analysis would be any part of that study.  Why?

We’ll get to that.

You want faster? (I do. [I'm shocked - shocked, I tell you] It’ll cost more [Ibid]), and mean fewer stops. But it’s possible that St. Paul to Madison to Milwaukee to Chicago eventually could be done in four hours.

You know what’d really be cool?  If we built a chair with big rockets on it, that’d get you to Chicago in about forty minutes!

Wait!

That’s what we have now!  It’s called an “airliner”, and it exists, and makes dozens of round trips a day, and, I would guess, is faster and will cost less, in terms of customer fares and public subsidy, than this miracle train that will make the trip for billions of dollars more money and at triple the time.

Imagine the possibilities. A professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison could board a train at 8 a.m., and step off light rail at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in time to teach a noon seminar. A Chicago cycling enthusiast could load his bike on the fast train on Saturday morning, transfer to a southeastern Minnesota circulator in La Crosse or Winona, and be tooling along the Root River trail by midday. A businesswoman in St. Cloud could get on the Northstar (it’ll get there eventually), transfer to Central Corridor light rail, then take the fast train right into the Windy City’s Loop. It’ll take a little more time than today’s drive-fly-drive trip requires, but there’d be ample elbow room for laptop work the whole way.

So not only is Sturdevant sneaking in calls for two more rail projects (an utterly-unneeded “circulator” and the less-stupid Northstar), but she’s assuming that the professor, cyclist and St. Cloud businesswoman market is enough to justify the costs of this immensely-expensive line.

Question for Sturdevant, or anyone who assumes she has a point:  if there’s no market for the current, expensive train that will get you to Chicago slower than your car will at virtually the same cost as a forty-minute flight (even after the immense subsidy that underlies your ticket), why is there suddenly a market for something that’ll be vastly more expensive (to the customer and especially the taxpayer), that’ll provide either cost savings nor a decisive change in speed?

Simple fact; the current generation of Amtrak trains can, at least in theory, make the trip at over 80 miles per hour.  If there were a market imperative to punch passenger traffic down the mainline to Chicago at a higher priority than the freight traffic that currently uses the lines (as, indeed, was done up until air travel made such scheduling obsolete and cost-ineffective), then it’d be a small matter to make the trip to Chicago a six-hour-ish trip, for virtually no extra money.

But there’s not.

Which doesn’t stop Sturdevant from dreaming them up, in the same make-believe world that seems to drive her entire conscious life:

The Midwest Regional Rail System’s map has the fast train following the existing Amtrak route — go down the Mississippi along lovely Lake Pepin to La Crosse, then hang a left.

The map in my mind’s eye includes a spur track to Rochester. (We’re talking a few passenger trains here, not 34 coal-bearing brutes per day.) If Minnesota wants to juice up the job-creating potential of the collaboration between the University of Minnesota and Mayo, how about connecting the two campuses by rail?

Shuttling professors and college kids - slowly and at immense expense, compared to cars – should be a major fiscal priority for this state?

 Read the rest of the piece, if you want to see as shameless an endorsement of cash-whoring pettifoggery as I’ve ever seen.

Sturdevant ends the piece by recognizing – sort of – the opposition:

Of course, only one Republican’s attitude really counts. Gov. Tim Pawlenty hasn’t been a promoter of high-speed rail, but neither has he signaled opposition…[R]emember what Pawlenty said in his 2003 State of the State speech? “Behind me is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. When he took office, he set two main goals. First, preserve the Union. And second, build the transcontinental railroad. … He had a vision and agenda for building the future beyond the immediate crisis. … We also need to get about the business of rebuilding Minnesota’s future.”

If the governor and his Republican allies won’t go along with the kind of building that a generous state budget affords, the least they can do is follow the example of their party’s founding father and start building a better railroad.

Every time I read one of Sturdevant’s flights of fancy, I wonder if she’s really that dumb, or if she just thinks her audience is?

In Lincoln’s day, the transcontinental railroad was a technological marvel, a social imperative and political masterwork.

Today, a “high-speed” train to Chicago is a technological throwback, an economic albatross, an ideological reflex and a serving of political pork.

Slow, expensive pork.