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My Friend's Friend's Brother Is In

Thursday, March 31, 2005
Bush's Poll Plunge on Domestic Issues

Even the Washington Times can't deny the obvious:

"We don't get caught up in the week-by-week polling that goes on," White House press secretary Scott McClellan told reporters aboard Air Force One yesterday.

But the presidential spokesman went on to cite a "Gallup survey showing now that Social Security was at the top of the list in terms of the priorities that need to be addressed."

Unfortunately for Mr. Bush, Gallup also found that only 35 percent of Americans approve of his handling of Social Security, compared with 56 percent who disapprove.

Yes, it's always great when you've identified a big issue. Kudos. But Americans usually like it even more when your "plan" doesn't actually do anything to solve said problem.

Pope Given Last Rites

This really doesn't sound encouraging:

The pope is suffering from a high fever caused by a urinary tract infection, the Vatican confirmed earlier Thursday -- one day after revealing he had been put on a nasal feeding tube.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said in a statement released Wednesday: "To improve his calorific intake and promote an efficient recovery of his strength, nutrition via the positioning of a nasal-gastric tube has begun."

Medical sources at Gemelli hospital in Rome, where the pope has been hospitalized twice since February, told CNN that no provisions are being made for the pope to be readmitted for treatment.

Now, getting the last rites doesn't mean you're doomed--John Paul II got them when he was shot in 1981. But you generally don't get the last rites if you're going in for a hangnail.

Shout Out

I still think his candidacy is unlikely to result in a victory, but mad props to Rober Fitzgerald to stopping by and saying hello. I said his campaign was doomed, but like I said, it's likeable.

Theresa Schiavo, 1963-2005

Rest in Peace.

No...Not That!

If you don't back GDub's wildly unpopluar "social security" "reform" "plan," he's gonna make you pay the political price!

Because usually, relatively unpopular Presidents can really make you pay for opposing programs that about 60% of Americans also oppose.

And so I say it now: if you do not support "Jeff's Law," also known as the "Give Jeff Fecke $30 Million Tax Free Law," there will be a heavy price to pay! And I can enforce that! So there!

Friday Random Ten
Special Thursday Edition

Since I'm leaving for Boston tomorrow, I thought I'd get a jump on the competition....

1. "Pele Merengue," Luscious Jackson
2. "I Want Candy," MC Pee Pants
3. "Out of Range," Ani DiFranco
4. "Vigilante," Love Jones
5. "Heartbreaker," Pat Benatar
6. "James K. Polk," They Might Be Giants
7. "Goodbye Again," John Denver
8. "Seether," Veruca Salt
9. "We're the Replacements," They Might Be Giants
10. "Losing Transmission," Honeydogs

Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Who's Up, Who's Down, and Who's Out
Minnesota 2006 Edition

As is tradition here at the Blog o' Mod Left, I've added "Who's Out" to the list of Minnesota candidates for Senate and Governor. Because a few candidates are definitely up, and most are fading fast. We start on the left side of the aisle....


Who's Up?

Hennepin County Attorney Amy Klobuchar (DFL-Minneapolis)

Klobuchar is rapidly consolidating her position as the insider's choice for the nomination. She's already secured 49 endorsements from state legislators, and she's the first candidate to actually launch a website that pegs her as a Senate candidate. Biggest knock on her? She's liked, but she isn't well-liked. Pencil her in at #1, folks.

Patty Wetterling (DFL-St. Joseph)

Wetterling has also started aggressively stepping up, showing herself to have some pretty decent political instincts. She's begun fundraising, and of course, she's well-liked. She's even leaked polls showing her leading Kennedy by the widest margin of any DFLer. (Second-widest? Klobuchar. See a trend?) The biggest problem with Wetterling is her lack of experience; it remains to be seen how much her experience in the sixth district race against Kennedy has seasoned her. But even though it's very early, this is looking to be a two woman race, with Wetterling at 1a.

Who's Down?

Michael Ciresi (DFL-Minneapolis)

Ciresi doesn't have to launch a campaign just yet; unlike the other candidates in this field, he's got a sizeable fortune. He can fund his campaign by way of Phillip Morris for a while, so he can enter the race in July or October or even January and still be viable.

That said, while Wetterling and Klobuchar are off to the races, Ciresi is already drifting from player to afterthought in this race. Even if he doesn't have to start the heavy lifting now, he may want to soon, if only for appearance's sake.

State Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia)

This isn't Rukavina's fault--with the legislature in session, Rukavina simply doesn't have time to campaign full-out. But he needs to get going, and soon; the fact that 49 of his fellow legislators have signed on with Klobuchar can't be a good sign.

State Sen. Steve Kelley (DFL-Hopkins)

Steve: turning on your caucus--even if you claim to have a high-minded reason for it--isn't the way to endear yourself to the rank-and-file. You have to get the nomination before you move to the center.

Who's Out?

Mark Rotenburg (DFL-Minneapolis)

Face it, Mark: your candidacy does not pass the laugh test. When you're best known for running Joe Lieberman's presidential campaign in Minnesota, you're not going anywhere.

Fmr. State Sen. Jerry Janezich (DFL-Chisholm)

Watching Janezich thus far is to remember his failed 2000 bid--he's a fun, entertaining guy. But he just doesn't have the killer instinct to play at this level. And he has yet to give a raison d'etre for his candidacy, other than that he'd like it.

Ford Bell (DFL-Minneapolis)

Ford Bell claims that people have been urging him to run. I'd like to meet these people, because I haven't met any myself.

Power Rankings
1. Klobuchar (1)
2. Wetterling (4)
3. Rukavina (3)
4. Ciresi (2)
5. Kelley (5)
6. Bell (--)
7. Janezich (6)
8. Rotenburg (7)

Dropping out: Alan Page (9), Buck Humphrey (10)


Who's Up?

Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Stillwater)

So what if he seemed completely at sea during an interview in friendly territory. Kennedy has this race locked up tighter than Gary Bauer's sphinchter. The Politburo is showing no signs of allowing anyone to challenge Comrade Kennedy, even if they were once on the Central Committee themselves. Like the saying goes, barring dead girl or live boy....

Who's Down?

Fmr. Sen. Rod Grams (R-Ramsey)

It's bad news when your campaign is described as laughable by your own party. Uff da, Rod. The only reason you're not listed as out is that there are only two Republicans running.

Power Rankings
1. Kennedy (1)
2. Grams (2)

Dropping Out: Gutknecht (3), Sullivan (4), Anderson (5)

* * *

I should note at this point that I've decided to stop noting the Independence party's up/down/out, simply because of two words: Who cares? Unless Jesse Ventura comes riding back to save the house he built, then torched, the IP is dead in the water. As is the likeable but doomed Robert Fitzgerald campaign.

* * *

Governor, too, is not especially interesting. Pawlenty is a mortal lock, barring tragedy or scandal. And other than some brief flirtations by Dean Johnson, I've yet to hear of anyone seriously contemplating challenging Mike Hatch for Governor.

The only wild card I've seen is a poll being conducted by Zogby that lists Ciresi as a potential gubernatorial candidate. Does Zogby know something nobody else knows? Or was he just trying to get something started?

As is, until either Johnson throws his hat in the ring, Pawlenty is caught in bed with a dead girl and a live boy, or Ciresi switches races, I'm going to hold off handicapping the race. It's Hach v. Pawlenty here, folks; we've known that since mid-November of 2002.

Yeah, We're Pretty Much Screwed

Kevin Drum ruins my day, but it's not his fault; he notes that the effects of global dimming--the way polution interferes with sunlight reaching the Earth--may have signiificantly mitigated the effects of global warming.

Why is that a bad thing? Because we're all trying to eliminate polution--and if we get all the electric cars and clean-burning coal plants, what's been thus far an orderly temperature creep upward might suddenly become much worse. (As noted by Drum, in the three days following 9/11/01, global temperatures gained one degree celsius simply because of the lack of airplane contrails in American skies. Yikes.)

Of course, we all know the solution: we need to get off the fossil fuels. But like an addict spiraling downward, we don't care if it hurts our children and we don't care if the worst elements of the world are getting rich off of us. We just need one more hit.

Oh, and two-thirds of the world's resources are gone, and the environmental degradation in just the past fifty years dwarfs everything we've done as a species over our history.

Enjoy that Humvee, slugger. Some day, many years from now, our children's children will despise you for it.

Wetterling Is Fundraising

Per Robin at DFLSenate. How come I don't get cool Patty Wetterling fundraising calls?

Bobby's Law

Forget everything I've said before, this is the living will for me. Especially this:

I want my case to be turned into a circus by losers and crackpots from around the country who hope to bring meaning to their empty lives by investing the same transient emotion in me that they once reserved for Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy and that little girl who got stuck in a well.

Amen to that, brother.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Screw You, J Robinson!

The Supreme Court has upheld the rights of Title IX Whistleblowers:

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, writing for the majority, said Alabama high school girls basketball coach Roderick Jackson was entitled to pursue a Title IX lawsuit after he was fired for complaining that the boys team received better treatment.

``Teachers and coaches such as Jackson are often in the best position to vindicate the rights of their students because they are better able to identify discrimination and bring it to the attention of administrators,'' O'Connor wrote.

``Without protection from retaliation, individuals who witness discrimination would likely not report it,'' she said, and charges that a school was ``deliberately indifferent'' to sexual harassment would similarly go unnoticed.

O'Connor was joined by the court's liberal wing -- Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer.

Dissenting were Bill Rehnquist and the Funky Bunch, with Clarence Thomas on lead vocals.

I've been open that I'm slightly biased on Title IX--my sister played goalkeeper for the University of Kansas, on scholarship, no less, and I'm quite aware that would have been impossible had she been born twenty years earlier. But even so, I've always thought college athletics only makes sense if it has some educational purpose. If so, then everyone should be able to participate to some extent; if not, then we should get colleges out of sport altogether.

The usual suspects will whine that colleges and high schools make tons of money on men's athletics and lose tons of money on women's athletics, but that's been proven false. Football makes money (at most schools), as do men's and women's basketball (at some schools). Some schools will have a random moneymaker here or there--Minnesota men's ice hockey, for example, or Iowa wrestling--but for the most part, outside of football and basketball, everyone's on the dole.

Which is why it's always rich to hear J Robinson, the coach of Minnesota Gophers wrestling, bitch about women's athletics. It's arguable that there's no less popular spectator sport in America than wrestling. Few schools even bother to field a squad any more, and not because women have taken all the money.

But for Robinson, it doesn't matter how many million girls play soccer or basketball. It only matters to him that the men don't get as big a slice of the pie anymore.

Tough. The world has been changing for a long time, and there are plenty of women who have grown up as athletes, J. (By the way: J? Seriously?)

Men will have to learn at some point that women belong on the same playing fields as them--whether that's a soccer pitch, a hockey rink, or a boardroom. To my way of thinking, starting with sports at an early age is a good way to teach that.

Hey, maybe sports can be educational after all.

Yeah, That's About Right

You are Buck Russell (from Uncle Buck)! Your
relationships aren't the greatest (mostly by
your own accord), but if anyone has a huge
heart, it's you.

Which John Hughes Character Are You?

brought to you by Quizilla

Falwell in Critical Conditon

Hospitalized with pneumonia.

I don't say this about everyone--for example, I disagree with George W. Bush passionately, but wouldn't say it about him. No, I reserve the next sentence for fellows like Osama bin Laden, or possibly Kenny G*:

Don't get well soon, Jerry. The world is better off without you.

*Just kidding, g-ophiles.

Johnnie Cochran Dead at 67

Story here. Now Chewbacca is a Wookiee. This man is dead, and I'm talking about Chewbacca. Why? It makes no sense! And that's what Cochran's death is...senseless.

Look at the monkey.

Seriously, it's sad news, but Johnnie had a nice run. 67 isn't ever long enough, but what is?

I do worry about the actor who plays Jackie Childs, though....

You Know What They Say About Scoutmasters....

ODub has an interesting tidbit on the private life of Douglas Smith, who spent 2004 defending the Boy Scouts from the evils of homosexuality, and may spend 2006 in jail.

Intelligent Design Explained Graphically

Tom Toles is spot on:


Meanwhile, the Heritage Foundation is sponsoring an ID/Creationism event. In case you'd forgotten which side of the culture war they're on.

Profiting from Death

The Schindlers are selling their list of donors.

To be fair to them, it appears that the decision was prompted by the hangers-on of Randall Terry. Well, lie down with dogs....

Monday, March 28, 2005
Down To This

Rock Star Mike Doughty gets called to jury duty.


The earhquake in Indonesia may have killed more than 2000 people.

And next to the tsunami, that's nothing.

Hey, God? I know there are gonna be disasters, but can you target the next one somewhere other than the Indian Ocean? I think these people have suffered enough.

Tort Reform

Unless you're Rick Santorum's Wife.

BREAKING: Son of Tribal Chair Arrested in Connection with Red Lake Shootings

Via ABC News. What this could mean God only knows. The article is light on details, but I sadly suspect more will probably be forthcoming.

And the Kerning Was Way Off

Look, I'm sorry, but until you have any actual evidence (other than "gee, it just seems odd"), I'm not buying the GOP Talking Points Hoax Story. If you want to give me something substanative, that's one thing, but so far the argument is, "Well, yes, half of the points came directly from Mel Martinez. But the other points talked about the political calculation, and that could never happen with a real talking points memo!"

Sorry, Hindrocket. Muster actual evidence, and I'll be happy to listen. Unfortunately, you have none, just a burning desire to shift the blame on a memo that your side issued--and that's pretty damning to the GOP.

Heh Indeedy

Via Pharyngula, a quote from Rev. Ray Mummert, about who's against his anti-evolution stance:

"We've been attacked by the intelligent, educated segment of the culture," he said, adding that the school board's declaration is just a first step.

Fortunately for his side, the stupid and uneducated are still with him.

Boy, Georgie, Did You Ever Back The Wrong Horse

Joe Gandelman notes an interesting shift in the Terri Schiavo political calculus: the very people that most of America was angry with for interfering are now getting heavy-duty flack from right-to-lifers for not interfering more.

I'm trying not to post anything more on this sad story until after Terri Schiavo's death (I think, at this point, that's the only decent thing to do.) But this story is worth a look if you're factoring the fallout in this debacle.

In Rod We Trust

Over at the not-quite-officially-launched DFLSenate, I ask a question that's been bugging me: why does the GOP hate Rod Grams? The answer, surprisingly, might have something to do with his putter.

Culture of Life

But hey, torture's okay.

All Hail the WCHA

So if you're the Commissioner of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, you've got to be pretty happy this morning.

First off, the Minnesota Golden Gophers women's team repeated as NCAA champs, downing Harvard for the second year in a row, 4-3.

And second, you know that no matter what, the men's hockey champ is going to be a WCHA team, too.

That's because every single team in the Frozen Four is a WCHA team.

The WCHA had already established dominance in the sport, winning the past three, and four of the last five national championships. But this year marks the first time in the history of the sport that four teams from the same conference held all four spots. Take that, Hockey East!

So who will win? Will it be Minnesota, making its third trip to the frozen four in four years? They won it all in 2002 and 2003. Will it be Denver, the WCHA co-champs, who are also the defending national champions? Will it be North Dakota, seeking their eighth national championship? They won in 2000. Or will it be Colorado College, the other co-champ of the WCHA, who haven't won the tournament since 1957?

My money's on a CC-Minnesota final, and there I'm betting on experience. But frankly, given the quality of the teams on the ice, any one of the four could win. It's going to be a fun tournament, and no matter what, it's nice to see that the champion won't have played in the Beanpot.

No Smoking in the Metrodome....

For anyone who's been a Minnesota Twins fan, today's news that Bob Casey has died has to inject a moment of sadness and reflection.

Bob Casey was the public address announcer for the Twins at both Met Stadum and Metrodome, the only announcer in franchise history. Casey was a great announcer, but not in the style of, say, Bob Sheppard, whose mellifluous tones direct the Yankee faithful. No, Casey was a character, in the style of Harry Caray. He'd butcher names, occasionally grouse at the crowd, and once, when told to evacuate Met Stadium calmly due to a bomb threat, informed the assembled crowd to stay calm, but that police had informed him there could be an explosion in the next fifteen minutes.

But Casey was beloved because he was human. His introduction of #34--"The right fielder, Kirbeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Puckett!" is burned into the memory of everyone who was paying attention during the Twins' title runs of the late eighties and early nineties.

It won't be the same going to a Twins game without Casey addressing the crowd. I have a feeling we'll all tear up a bit the first time someone else informs us that there is no smoking in the Metrodome. As when my other favorite baseball franchise lost Harry Caray, a connection to a simpler and quirkier time in sports has been lost, and baseball is all the poorer for it.

Friday, March 25, 2005
Culture of Life

Unless that traumatic brain injury was sustained in defense of your country.

Friday Random Ten

Very Doughty-centric....

1. "Dead Man's Clothes," Son Volt
2. "New York City," They Might Be Giants
3. "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow," The Soggy Bottom Boys
4. "Birdhouse in Your Soul," They Might Be Giants
5. "The Way You Look Tonight," Frank Sinatra
6. "Music for Boys," The Suburbs
7. "Shunned and Falsified," Mike Doughty
8. "Real Love/It's Only Life," Mike Doughty
9. "A Thousand Miles," Vanessa Carlton
10. "Looks," Mike Doughty

Thursday, March 24, 2005
Jurassic Park...The Beginning

P.Z. Meyers has the skinny on preserved dinosaur soft tissues. For real.

P.Z., I'm not a scientist--the last science class I took was "Biologicall Thought and Its Impact on Society" at UW-Madison, which was basically science for poets. But I'm thinking a petri dish, a few billion dollars, and Jeff Goldblum, and we're rich, baby!

(Until, of course, the T-Rexes go nuts and eat everyone. But you can't make an omlette without breaking eggs--every cook will tell you that.)

Fun With Profiling

So who do you think is a likely terrorist? Is it someone who carries bombs and threatens people? Or is it a Canadian-born attorney of East Indian descent?

If you think it's the latter, you're dumb enough to work for Commercial Federal Bank:

Mohamedbhai's lawsuit claims that Genevieve Babcock-Elder of Colorado Cheque Connection told an audience of about a dozen people at a seminar on banking safety at the Brown Palace that Mohamed- bhai is a terrorist and she had blocked his effort to open a checking account at Commercial Federal.

The lawsuit said Babcock-Elder spelled Mohamedbhai's name for the audience.

Witnesses at the seminar have alleged that "Ms. Babcock-Elder asserted that, because Mr. Mohamedbhai had a Social Security number from Florida, which is where the September 11th terrorists learned to fly, and because he looked Arab, she had 'profiled' him and caused Commercial Federal Bank to refuse him a checking account," the lawsuit said.

"Ms. Babcock-Elder further commented that Mr. Mohamedbhai had with him a white American female and that terrorists 'do that to try to give the appearance that they are on the up and up,' " it said.

What? He was with a white woman? Don't deny him a checking account--get a rope!

Really, this is possibly the dumbest profiling in history. The guy has a Florida Social Security number? Him and about ten million other people. He "looked Arab?" He was with a white woman?

Is this woman on crack? Or is she really this stupid?

Did she actually think this would impress people?

The hurts....


In the midst of Schiavogate, some other things have gone by the wayside--but this story shouldn't fall through the cracks:

As the second hurricane in less than a month bore down on Florida last fall, a federal consultant predicted a "huge mess" that could reflect poorly on President Bush and suggested that his re-election staff be brought in to minimize any political liability, records show.

Two weeks later, a Florida official summarizing the hurricane response wrote that the Federal Emergency Management Agency was handing out housing assistance "to everyone who needs it without asking for much information of any kind."

The records are contained in hundreds of pages of Gov. Jeb Bush's storm-related e-mails initially requested by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Oct. 13."

"Culture of Life"--especially if it helps win you some votes.

Zero Brains

This principal should be fired. Don't want your students photographing you breaking the law by smoking on campus? Guess what--don't break the law by smoking on campus.

As for the stupidity of the justification of the suspenstion--he "slandered" the principal? Last I checked, the truth was an affirmative defense against slander.

SCOTUS Rejects Shindler Appeal

That's it. The decision is unsurprising; as I noted before, this Supreme Court is possibly the most states'-rights in a century--and certainly the most since the 1930s. Additionally, Chief Justice Rehnquist has been vocal about the independence of the Judiciary; that has not been well served in this case.

I won't be posting any more on the politics of this for a while; with the battles over, it would be unseemly to discuss base political calculation at this time. We'll discuss it more when the moment is right.

As I noted the other day, there are no winners in this case. Terri Schiavo is brain-dead, and her body is dying, and there is no joy for anyone in that, only sorrow.

If there is any good news out of this case, it is that despite the strains placed on it this week, the rule of law has won the day. The Judiciary did not roll over in deference to Congress, and at least so far, the Executive branch in Florida has been loath to take any extrajudicial action. We are a nation of laws, not men, and this week has verified that.

Beyond that, all of us should think of, and if your religion suggests it, pray for everyone involved--the Shindlers, Michael Schiavo, and of course, Terri. There are many wounded on all sides of this. I hope before they, too, leave this life that their wounds may heal.

My Friend Don Will Love This Site

Want to know how AC/DC connects to Soul Coughing? Check out It's pretty entertaining, and remarkably, the aforementioned connection runs through the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Run, Dick, Run!

Via rew, we find that the Frat Boys are saying Dick Cheney might run for President after all.

I strongly recommend that Vice President Cheney seek the presidency, indeed, I would heartily recommend that the Republican party endose him immediately.

Big Dick would be a great candidate in 2008.*

*For Democrats

Wedge Politics, Part Two

Another well-known libertarian conservative--most of the time--Andrew Sullivan:

The case also highlights - in another wonderful irony - how religious right morality even trumps civil marriage. It is simply amazing to hear the advocates of the inviolability of the heterosexual civil marital bond deny Terri Schiavo's legal husband the right to decide his wife's fate, when she cannot decide it for herself. Again, the demands of the religious right pre-empt constitutionalism, federalism, and even the integrity of the family. When conservatism means breaking up the civil bond between a man and his wife, you know it has ceased to be conservative. But we have known that for a long time now. Conservatism is a philosophy without a party in America any more. It has been hijacked by zealots and statists.

Spot on.

Wedge Politics, Part One

When the GOP decided to go to the mat for Terri Schiavo's parents, in a sense they had no choice. Bush's victory last fall was narrow enough that the Christian Right could claim responsibility for it, and the Christian Right was emphatic in wanting Congress to act, no matter the fallout.

Nevertheless, the GOP didn't take much prodding. There was a sense that this was a slam dunk issue; they were saving a life, they reasoned, and if they ran the issues like they usually did, they'd be able to put the Democrats on the defensive, make them the "pro-death" party. Not only would their actions resonate with their base, but with the middle, too.

But a funny thing happened. The wedge the GOP though existed did; it was just
pointing at them:

Congressional leaders have insisted their only motivation in getting involved in the Terri Schiavo case was saving a life. But Americans aren’t buying that argument, a CBS News poll finds.

An overwhelming 82 percent of the public believes the Congress and President should stay out of the matter.

Just 13 percent of those polled think Congress intervened in the case out of concern for Schiavo, while 74 percent think it was all about politics. Of those polled, 66 percent said the tube should not be inserted compared to 27 percent who want it restored. The issue has generated strong feelings, with 78 percent of those polled -- wheter for either side of the issue -- saying they have strong feelings.

This, of course, runs counter to the GOP theme of last resort--that whether polls support their side or not, the depth of feeling will favor them. Indeed, 85% of those who believed that the feeding tube should not be re-inserted felt strongly...compared to 77% of those who believed it should.

But wait...there's more:

Public approval of Congress has suffered as a result; at 34 percent, it is the lowest it has been since 1997, dropping from 41 percent last month. Now at 43 percent, President Bush’s approval rating is also lower than it was a month ago.

And, in case you were wondering, this is no wacky poll. The GOP was oversampled--44% of total respondents, compared with about 33% in the general population. [This is actually incorrect--the numbers I cited were actually percentages who had living wills. I apologize for the error. --jkf]

We'll talk more about the political fallout here soon, but it's obvious why this policy is crashing and burning, even among Republicans. Like every party, the GOP is made up of various interests. The Christian Right is one, but there's an equally influential portion of the GOP that's essentially libertarian; Glenn Reynolds is a good example.

For good or ill, libertarian Republicans have essentially decided that while their views on social issues will never mesh with Randall Terry's, their agreement on economic and foreign policy issues is enough to hold them in line.

But there comes a point at which social issues reach the breaking point. For the libertarians, who tend to be states'-rightsers and leery of government involvement in personal issues, this is it. The government literally stepping in to overrule a husband on the care of his wife is beyond what many of these people will countenance.

The country is divided closely; it wouldn't take an epic swing to deliver the Senate or House into Democratic hands in 2006. The Terri Schiavo case won't put the Democrats there all by itself; still, when viewed in concert with Bush's failure to shepherd Social Security legislation through and Tom DeLays continuing ethics problems, the Democrats should be cautiously optimistic.

The best hope for the Democrats after 2004 was that the GOP would dramatically overreach and remind Americans why we prefer divided government. In my wildest dreams, I couldn't imagine a better turn of events for the Democrats.

Explosion at BP Plant Kills Undetermined Number of People
70 People Wounded

Terrorism evidently ruled out. Sadly, that's where the mind goes first, isn't it?

In some ways, it's a wonder there aren't more accidents like this at refineries. Petroleum is incredibly explosive. But this plant doesn't seem to have a sterling safety record; there was an explosion recently that caused OSHA to fine BP $63,000. Also, two employees were scalded to death last September.

My thoughts are with the victims and families. I would also hope that maybe this will cause OSHA to rein in what appears to be a very poorly run facility. But this is the Bush administration, so they'll probably just get the Medal of Freedom.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Heh. Indeedy.

Via P.Z. Meyers, a living will I think we'd all like.

Hit Me With The Crazy

Did you ever think you'd be pining for responsible, sane Republicans like Bob Barr?

"To simply say that the 'culture of life,' or whatever you call it means that we don't have to pay attention to the principles of federalism or separation of powers is certainly not a conservative viewpoint," said former Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga.

I think an understated bit of fallout from this debacle will be that many conservatives will be angered by their own party. Let's not forget that a majority of conservatives opposed this action. The Schiavo case is a wedge issue, yes, but the thin edge of the wedge points right at Tom DeLay and the Funky Bunch.

Speaking of the Bugman, in case you'd forgotten, he's a nutjob:

"One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America," Mr. DeLay told a conference organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. A recording of the event was provided by the advocacy organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others," Mr. DeLay said.

Yes, Tom, that's exactly it. God brought us Terri Schiavo to distract from the fact that you've been feeding at the public trough for over a decade. I'm sure her family is glad to know that.

Meanwhile, the Judge assigned by Congress to hear the magical appeal in this case essentially laughed their case out of court. Whatever people say about the Evil Michael Schiavo, the truth is that the state court did its job correctly. In the end, the Schindlers will not win this case because they have no case to win. Oh, and don't count on an appeal to save them; because the Schindlers' lawyers didn't raise any federal issues in their argument before Judge Whittemore, they can't raise those issues on appeal.

What happens then, of course, is anyone's guess; when the most pro-states'-rights Supreme Court in a century refuses to hear this case on appeal, what does Congress do then? Do they give up? Or do they press on with the Emergency Powers Act, suspending civil liberties so that Tom DeLay can go to Florida and personally beat Michael Schiavo to death? At this point, nothing would surprise me, except the GOP experiencing some sanity, and just letting this poor family heal.

And By Opposing

I'm done for the night, and may be done posting on Terri Schiavo for a while. Oh, who am I kidding--this case has me infuriated, for dozens of reasons.

But enough for now. I'll simply close with some thoughts from Amp that sum things up nicely:

On a personal level - and I acknowledge that Terri may not have felt the same way - the more I think about this case, the more horrified I become imagining myself in Schiavo’s position.

Here’s what gets to me: After I’m dead, the main way I’ll continue existing is in the memories of my friends and relatives. It’s macabre to imagine that my loved ones, rather than remembering me as I was, could instead focus on a shell, animated by a brain stem and reflex motions but completely empty of self. Over the years, all the dominant memories of me - what I was like before the accident - would be gradually replaced by memories of my mindless body making random motions and sounds in a hospital bed.

And then I’d really be gone, gone even from the memories of my friends and relatives, removed from their brains in favor of an empty shell. It’s hard for me to imagine anything more gruesome.

Nor I. Amp also helpfully links to some free Living Will documents.

We are either a nation of laws, or not. This case has tested our willingness to accept the rule of law--something I once stated was something that united both left and right. Accepting the rule of law means accepting decisions and laws that you do not believe are correct. There have been dozens of legal rulings that I've opposed, but I accept them as a part of the give and take of society; we empower judges to make difficult decisions. By definition, a lawsuit has to sides, and it's rare that both sides go home happy.

This case was taken before the courts in Florida. They examined the evidence, appointed doctors to investigate, asked people questions, and looked at Florida statutes and case law. In the end, the courts determined that Terri Schiavo would not want to live this way, and that her husband, Michael, was her legal and proper guardian.

Nothing else should've mattered. This never should've been a case that you or I or anyone knew about.

This was a personal matter, between a husband and wife, something that I believe is sacred. The party that spent the last election demonizing homosexuals in "defense" of marriage now tells us that the bond between husband and wife is nothing.

I can't fathom that blithe dismissal. But I know this: Michael Schiavo has turned down $10 million and the opportunity for a free, no-fault divorce from Terri. Those who claim to defend her ask the rhetorical question, "Well, why won't he just let the Schindlers care for her? He'd be done with her."

I may be divorced, but I remember being married. And I may not be perfect, but I know what I'd do if a loved one told me they'd rather die than live hooked up to a machine.

I would fight, with everything I had, to make sure their wishes were acted upon. And neither their parents nor Tom DeLay nor God Himself would get in my way.

To me, though this case is sad, it has always come down to the truth. And the truth, it seems to me, is that Terri Schiavo did want to be released from this if it ever happened, and that her husband is doing what he can to release her.

And neither you, nor I, nor even Terri's parents have the right to say otherwise.

My Brain Hurts

Jeff A. Taylor asks a question that I've been pondering as well. The big centerpiece of the Shindlers' argument today was that Terri Schiavo would not want to have her feeding tube withdrawn, because to decide to have one's feeding tube withdrawn would be a mortal sin. But as Taylor asks, "How's that work? Seriously. Terri Schiavo still has moral culpability for what is done to her?"

Of course, any rational person would say no, she doesn't; since she's in a vegetative state, and unable to communicate (or think, but that's beside the point), neither God nor Tom DeLay nor Randall Terry could find that she's responsible for removing her feeding tube.


There is a way that she could be responsible for having her feeding tube removed: if fifteen years or so ago, she told her husband that if she was ever in a coma or vegetative state, that she'd want him to remove life support.

In that case, she would be morally culpable...but the court would also be right in deciding that she would want to die.

So the way I see it, the big centerpiece of the Schindlers' argument breaks down as follows:

  • If Terri never wanted to be taken off of life support, and she's taken off of life support against her will, she's no more responsible for those actions than a baby left in a dumpster to starve--in which case the argument is nonsensical;
  • If Terri did want to be taken off of life support, then she's morally culpable, but there's no question that the decision was hers to make, and the court has no choice but to terminate life support.

Great argument, slugger. Either it makes no sense, or it answers the ultimate question. Which is it?

Monday, March 21, 2005
I Think Someone Stole David Brooks' Byline

Either that, or Brooks has somehow developed a conscience.

Holy moly, he even rips Ralph Reed. And DeLay, at least through inference.

Bobos in paradise, indeed. How will The Corner respond?

As Usual, Dahlia Lithwick Brings the Pain

Dahlia Lithwick, bang-on as per usual:
And shouldn't we worry—just a bit—when in the name of a "culture of life" Congress enacts legislation that singles out just one Florida family for special legal standing? Frist calls this "a unique bill" that "should not serve as a precedent for future legislation." Yet Schiavo is just one of up to 35,000 people in this country in a persistent vegetative state as the result of trauma, drug overdose, or other medical complications. Remember what happened to Élián Gonzáles when the federal government decided to embroil itself—just this once—in a custody dispute? Why does Terri Schiavo alone warrant the legislative intercession of these self-appointed crusaders? (Not because this is a "great political issue" that would appeal to the base and defeat a Florida Democrat, according to a one-page memo distributed to Republican senators last week.)

Precisely right. If Schiavo is facing a horrific death, so are tens of thousands of others. If Schiavo's case is one regarding intervention just this once, why not the others?

Dahlia Lithwick is the best columnist around--period. (Sorry, E.J.) Not to run down Slate, but it boggles my mind that she hasn't alighted at the Times, Post, or somewhere similar. She's simply as good as it gets.

Red Lake Shooting Update

Good all-around posting over at Curly Tales of War Pigs.

Bleed Cubbie Blue?

I know I do. If you do too, go check out a Chicago Cubs Blog. It'll be especially fun to read when we win the series in October.


Via the Strib:

Totalitarian? What else can we call a government that elbows its way to a deathbed to dictate whether or not its occupant shall be allowed to die naturally? Where is the conservatism in insisting that a woman be interminably fed through a stomach tube -- despite her expressed wishes to the contrary? And how can America's chief champions of "the sanctity of marriage" justify their brazen intrusion into the personal lives of Terri Schiavo and husband Michael?

My sentiments exactly.

Rule of Law

U.S. District Judge James Whittemore has refused to issue a preliminary injunction in the Schiavo case, stating flatly to the parents' attorneys, ''I think you'd be hard-pressed to convince me that you have a substantial likelihood [of winning the case]."

This means the feeding tube stays out, at least for now.

Whether the GOP will rush back to Congress to authorize the "We Really Meant To Force You To Do What We Wanted You To Do, Now Do It" law remains to be seen. But based on early results, I'd say the Judicial Branch is pissed--and rightly so.

The Culture of Life

Unless you live in Congo.

Eight Killed, Six at School, at Red Lake, Minnesota

Two others were shooter's grandparents. The suspect is believed to be among the dead.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families. There's nothing else to say.

In Memoriam

The Moose pauses to reflect on the passing of conservatism. We'll all miss it.

A Dayton v. Kennedy For the Reality-Based Set

DFLSenate is the hip, happening group blog that all the cool kids love. That, or it's the Democratic answer to the BFKADvK folks--a blog devoted to coverage of the 2006 Senate Race.

If you're interested in contributing, let us know at The big official launch is coming shortly. I hope you all enjoy it!

The Culture of Life

...Except when it costs money.

Even a Blind Squirrel....

God help me, I agree with John Derbyshire.

Poll Watch
Terri Schiavo Edition

ABC News, March 20, 2005, 501 adults, MOE +/- 4.5%

Do you support or oppose removing Schiavo's feeding tube?

63% (Strongly: 42%)
Oppose 28% (Strongly: 21%)

If you were in this condition, keep alive?

No 78%

Do you support Federal review of this case?

No 60%

Is it appropriate for Congress to be involved in this case?

27% (Strongly: 14%)
No 70% (Strongly: 58%)

Do you think political leaders more concerned about principles or politics?

Political Advantage 67%

* * *

Every so often I see something that restores my faith in my fellow Americans. This poll is it.

Despite the fact that the newsmedia continues to hammer this issue from the right, Americans aren't buying it. What's more, the vast majority of Americans see Congress' actions for what they are: an incomprehensible interference in a personal matter.

I suspect most Americans have faced just the situation my mother faced, either directly or by proxy. We can do the math. We know that what's at stake is our loved ones' rights to decide whether or not they should be forced to live on past the point where they want to. And we are reasonably revolted by this.

Ezra is right. The Democrats need to turn around and go on offense here. Not for politics' sake, but because we're right, damn it, and the right of families to make their own decisions regarding end-of-life issues is one worth fighting for.

Heh. Indeed.

Carpetbagger nails it:

To recap, Osama bin Laden, Israel, war, and devastation? Vacation on. The religious right wants action on a woman who has been in vegetative state for 15 years? Vacation off. The man has his priorities.

When Randall Terry speaks, George W. Bush listens.

The Pro-Death Crowd

Lolieta Metz was born in 1908, in a little corner of northwestern Illinois. She grew up on a dairy farm, attended Freeport High School through the tenth grade, and dropped out, as most girls did at the time. Some time later, she married Earl Parriott, and the two had four children. Bob and Jack, the two boys, were the oldest. Michele died when her umbilical cord became wrapped around her neck during childbirth. Kay, the baby of the family, was my mother.

My grandparents worked hard to make ends meet. My grandfather was a jack of all trades--a proud union member, painter, mechanic, and tinker. My grandmother took a job as a lunch lady when times were hard. Their two sons served in World War II and Korea. Their daughter grew up during the Vietnam era, and my grandfather was wise enough to advise his future son-in-law to get into the National Guard, rather than enlist in the Air Force.

My grandfather died in 1971, a few years before I was born. My grandmother had never balanced a checkbook, never driven a car. She came of age at a time when women did not do such things.

But my grandmother was fiercely independent, and despite the fact that she was 63 years old herself, she learned. Thanks to Social Security, she was able to remain in the house she and her family had shared, even after Jack moved off to Fort Wayne and Kay moved up to Minneapolis.

For two decades, my grandmother lived alone. It was not that she didn't have family willing to take her--she most certainly did. But she would never hear of it. Her children were all successful, all willing to support her as best they could. She wouldn't take their money. She had pride in being able to take care of herself, and she earned that pride every day.

Eventually, her health caught up to her. She contracted diabetes in her late seventies, and while she was able to control it without resorting to insulin, the disease took its toll. She had several surgeries to keep her legs working, and eventually she had to give up her house and move in with my family in Minnesota.

Still, she remained independent as she could. She looked for a nursing home she could live in on her own, and moved there when she was able; her AARP long-term care insurance allowed her to choose a good facility, and she made some good friends while she was there.

One weekend afternoon in fall, my parents picked her up from the nursing home to go on a car ride out to Stillwater. While driving on Highway 36, a driver who was not paying attention broadsided them. My parents escaped with no injury, but my grandmother sustained a concussion. Even then, she recovered and went back to the nursing home.

But the accident had loosened clots, which one night lodged somewhere in her brain. The nursing staff found her unresponsive, and sent her to Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis, where she'd had surgery in the past.

The decision was agonizing for my mom. The doctors said her chances of recovery were slim; if she did regain consciousness, she would likely be brain-damaged. She would never be able to be independent again.

My grandmother had told my mom that she didn't want to live like that; she had a DNR order signed. My mother had durable power of attorney.

She consulted with Jack (Bob had died a few years before of complications related to diabetes), and they decided that the best thing they could do for their mother was to remove the feeding tube, and allow her to die.

And so they did. On October 18, 1995, one day after her daughter's birthday, my grandmother passed away.

If you want to know why some of us on the left bristle at the casual description of us as pro-death, this is why. My mother's decision was nothing of the sort. She didn't want her mother to die, not ever. She misses her to this day. But when the moment came, my mom made the right decision. It was not barbaric. It was not evil. It was loving, and I'll be damned if I ever believe otherwise.

This is why I'm outraged at the conduct of Congress this weekend. Because they have, in effect, declared my mother--and millions more who have made the same agonizing decision--murderers.

They are not. And those who believe otherwise deserve nothing but loathing from us.

Terri Schiavo is in a persistant vegitative state. Her doctors--not quacks who've seen a heavily edited video, but her care physicians--all agree on this. Her husband--the man that the law believes is the person to make these decisions--says his wife would not want to be kept alive like this.

He is not a murderer. He is making an agonizing decision, made all the more agonizing by the interference of the United States Government. But it is a loving decision. And I see no reason why the government, much less the Congress of the United States, should be involved in it.

There was a time when the Republican party believed that personal, private matters should remain so. No longer. If you want to know why I have left any flirtation with independence behind, this case is it.

Sunday, March 20, 2005
But Matt Entenza....

It looks like Ron Eibensteiner--Chair of the Minnesota GOP--might have some legal difficulties in his future. Here's a hint: don't take illegal campaign contributions, and when you do, don't send thank-you notes.

Schiavogate '05

So when your local conservative starts whining about how the liberals killed Terri Schiavo, you may want to remind them that in 1999, Gov. George W. Bush signed a law allowing hospitals to withdraw treatment even over the objections of family. The latest person to face a death sentence because of this? Spiro Nikolouzos.

And no, this isn't a flip-flop on my part. The person wanting to continue treatment in Nikolouzos' case is his wife--the exact person who should be making these decisions in any case. When it comes to end-of-life decisions, I'm pro-choice.

Saturday, March 19, 2005
Can't Get Enough Fecke?

So you read my random thoughts here, and you think, "Gosh, where can I get more random thoughts from Jeff Fecke?"

Glad you asked! You can agonize with me as I try to make up my mind as to whether or not I should have gastric bypass surgery at Jeff's Bariatric Blog. You'll laugh! You'll cry! You'll learn way too much about my intestinal tract!

Friday, March 18, 2005
Friday Random Ten

1. Soul Coughing, "Down to This"
2. Steely Dan, "Bad Sneakers"
3. Counting Crows, "American Girls"
4. Goo Goo Dolls, "Accoustic #3"
5. Semisonic, "Across the Great Divide"
6. Whiskeytown, "Bar Lights"
7. Ryan Adams, "Sylvia Plath"
8. Everclear, "Queen of the Air"
9. Wilco, "Heavy Metal Drummer"
10. Luscious Jackson, "Strongman"

The Death of Terri Schiavo

There is nothing to be happy about in this case. There will be no winners, only losers.

The Terri Schiavo case is a disaster for all involved. For her husband, it is a disaster because he has been forced to watch the woman he loved, who died fifteen years ago, held fast in between this world and the next. For her parents, it is a disaster because they were unwilling to let go of their daughter--not that any of us can blame them--and because they were given false hope by those who saw a potential political football in Terry.

For Terri herself, it is a disaster because she didn't do what so many of us haven't done--she didn't make explicit her wishes should she someday succumb to the fate she now has.

And for our social institutions, it is a disaster. It is a disaster because our elected officials have chosen to grandstand, rather than allow the courts to do what they were designed to do, and adjudicate difficult matters.

Terri Schiavo's feeding tube was removed today, despite the best efforts of the Congressional majority. Dr. Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader--a man who knows about medicine, and decided to ignore what he knows--even attempted to subpoena Terri, to have her testify before Congress.

A more ghoulish picture can scarcely be imagined, even if it was done only to create a legal hurdle. The idea of a woman in a persistent vegitative state being paraded before Congress--to do what, precisely?--is abhorrent. Terri Schiavo suffered greatly in her too-short life. She should not be made to suffer more now.

P.Z. Meyers argues that we should not worry about who wins this case. That Terri is dead and gone already, her brain more spinal fluid than neurons, her body too stubborn to quit. I disagree. The shuffling off of our mortal coils is not just about the dying, but the living. It says something about us that we cannot let this woman go peacefully into her long slumber. And nothing good, I might add.

I take solace in the polls out today. They say that my fellow Americans are as weary of this gruesome spectacle as I. They say that most of those around me agree that Terri Schiavo's slow motion death should be allowed.

It should, because that which was Terri Schiavo is gone, and that little that is left must be allowed to pass on so that those who are left can grieve.

For her husband, who has been tarred with ludicrous slander (for the record, he did not kill Terri, he did not abuse Terri, and if he was in it for the money, he turned down ten million dollars for no good reason), I wish him the ability to get on with life. He has done the most difficult thing one can do--he fought for his wife's wishes, despite all the opprobrium that the right could dish out. He stood up against Bill Frist, Jeb Bush, and Tom DeLay. He has shown more courage than most--and for no reward, other than to give his wife the rest he promised.

For her parents, I wish them peace. When Randall Terry scuttles back under his rock, and the minicameras go away, and the constant media drumbeat goes quiet, I hope they realize that their daughter was not murdered, but that she died long ago. I hope they can finally grieve, and gain acceptance.

For those who have turned a personal tragedy into a national campaign, I will refrain for wishing what I would like. I will hope for electoral failure in 2006. That would be enough.

As for the rest of us, we can sympathize with everyone, and hope to move on into tomorrow. We should remember that our lives are finite, and that while we may have faith in a world beyond this one, we do not know what comes after we close our eyes for the last time. We should treat each other well while whe know we have the chance.

And while I may not have made a living will yet--and yes, I know I need to, and soon--I will post my thoughts here, where everyone can read them. As long as there's a realistic chance of my recovery, by all means, keep me alive. But when the doctors who have treated me--not quacks and charlatains, but actual doctors--come to you and tell you that my mind is a sponge, and not in a good way....

We are all born to die someday. I don't hope to die for a long time. But I know the day I die is the day my mind stops functioning. At that point, turn off the ventilators, and make sure the doctor gets my organs out to someone who can use them. It is the greatest kindness you could show me--to let me die well.

Group Blog!

So I'm thinking that if the conservatives have a Senate race blog, we liberals probably should to. Would anyone be interested in helping me create one? Doesn't matter if you have a blog or not, if you're interested, drop me a line at Thanks!

Poll Watch
Terri Schiavo Edition

I'll talk more about this in a bit. But for now, here's how your fellow Americans feel:

ABC News/Washington Post/TNS, March 10-13, 2005, 1001 Adults, MOE +/- 3.5%

Do you have a living will/proxy?

Yes 42% (unc)
No 57% (unc)

In cases like Terri Schiavo's, who should have final say?

Parents 25%
Spouse 65%
Other/Neither 4%

If your condition was like Schiavo's, what would you want done?

Kept Alive 8%
Not Kept Alive 87%
Unsure 4%

As for me, I fall with the majority in all cases.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

The newest scent in candles? The scent of Jesus. I am not making this up.


When asked about whether he took steroids as a player, Mark McGwire took the fifth.

As a point of law, we must accept that invoking one's Fifth Amendment privileges is not an admission of guilt. From a legal standpoint, it's a null--neither evidence of guilt nor innocence.

But in the court of public opinion, it's all but an admission that when he hit 70 home runs, he had a bit of illegal help.

Twenty years from now, when we look back at the decade of baseball between 1995 and 2005, we will remember it as the steroid era.

And McGwire's accomplishment in breaking Roger Maris' record deserves far more of an asterisk than Maris' feat ever did. Maris might have had a few more games; at least he wasn't juiced.

Men, Women Less Genetically Similar Than Humans, Chimps

Via Drum. If true, it's pretty astounding, though not overwhelmingly so; while we can argue about Larry Summers 'til the cows come home, anyone who doesn't think there's a difference between men and women is either willfully ignorant or suffering from Asperger's syndrome. We can debate how much is nature and how much is nurture, but given that our personalities are about evenly split between the two, that's my assumption.

Liberals always get up in arms about studies that show race- or gender-based difference in genetics, and for good reason. It was those (hypothesized) differences that formed the basis for the worst evils of the twentieth century. We cannot and should not forget that a major reason Hitler tried to exterminate the Jews, Gypsies, gays, et. al. was the "scientific" belief that they were inferior stock.

But science doesn't answer moral questions, it poses them. If there are genetic differences between men and women of this profound a nature, it would stand to reason that there are behavioral and--perhaps--neurological differences as well.

So, wherefore equality? Don't worry, I'm getting there.

We know men and women may have different behaviors and different motivations, and we can even hypothesize that may mean that men and women, as distinct groups have different skills.

But we also know that women are as capable of men, and vice versa; much is made of the fact that there aren't enough female engineers, but little is made of the fact that the current crop of med students is overwhelmingly female. Neither of these vocations is for the stupid, or even the average.

Knowing that women and men are both capable of intelligence tells us that no matter what differences we may find, men and women must be treated equally as individuals.

There will be those who sieze on this study to "prove" that women belong in the kitchen, when not in the bedroom. That would be wrong. No woman--or man--should be denied the right to pursue their goals because of their gender. There are men who are househusbands, and women who are CEOs, and there's no reason either should apologize.

No matter our genetic differences, we are all individuals. Even if women and men are different, we shouldn't fear that. We're all different. And while we may learn some things of what our roles once were, that should never, ever define what our roles must be.

Blogger Having Issues

I'd like just once over the past two days to have posted without submitting nine times....

To My Minnesota Homies.

The annual state tournament blizzard is on deck for tonight, and right on schedule. People joke that any time a blizzard hits in March, it hits during a tournament; could be hockey, girls basketball, whatever. But Minnesotans know that the tourney in question is the boys' basketball tournament, which concludes this weekend.

It doesn't happen every year. But it happens enough that it seems like it--nature's last chance to remind us that Minnesota is a state beholden to the Gods of Winter.

But as with every tourney blizzard, it is just that--the last major snowfall of the year. Within a week, the snow will be gone, and within three, flowers will begin to blossom, and we will be on the run toward summer in Minnesota, which is when the first settlers must have arrived here, because nobody in their right mind would decide to move to Minnesota after visiting in February.

Happy Saint Paddy's Day!

Everybody loves the reinforcin' o' the stereotypes!

Once again, the best Saint Patrick's day joke ever:

What's green and sits around on the porch all day?

Paddy O'Furniture.

Scenes From the Cultural Revolution

Billmon on David Horowitz's great leap forward.


Count me among those who think that the Congressional hearing on steroids and baseball are a good idea. It may not be the most important issue facing the land, but given baseball's unique place in American history and culture--and the fact that confidence in the game itself is at a Black Sox level--it makes sense for somebody to try to clear the air and get to the bottom of what's going on. One would've hoped that would come from the Commissioner's office and the players' union, but both sides have been interested more in covering up damning evidence.

Should Congress also have hearings on the intelligence failures in the Iraq war? Sure. But they aren't going to given the majority party, so there's no point in complaining about it. At least Congress is using its oversight power for something positive.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Wolfie Wins World Bank Work

Paul Wolfowitz, last seen planning our invasion of Damascus, is George Bush's choice to head the World Bank.

I think that Wolfowitz's nomination can mean but one thing: Screw You, Europe!

Next up: Bush appoints Pat Robertson to head a task force on secularism.

Blake Not Guilty

Story here. More over at Centrisity.

Around the Blogroll

As you may or may not have noticed, I've added new people to the blogroll. Who are they? Glad you asked.

I'll highlight a few now, and more as the days go on.

P.Z. Meyers is a professor at the University of Minnesota Morris, and the creator of Pharyngula, an outstanding blog if you're a believer in evolution. It's even better if you're a creationist, because if you go over and read the site, you won't be for long.

Minnesota Republican Watch is just what it says it is--a blog devoted to following the doings of the GOP in MN.

Dump Bachmann? Yes, please. A site devoted to everyone's favorite wingnut, State Sen. Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater), who's also a candidate to succeed Mark Kennedy in the sixth.

Shakespeare's Sister may fall to the left of me politically, but she asks great questions and has some pretty interesting answers.

So there are a few of the blogs now taking up residence in the left fifth of your screen. Go take some time to check them out.

Democracy! Whiskey! Fecke!

Yep, the ol' blogstead has had a makeover. To the left you'll find new and interesting bloggers on the blogroll and the archive; to the right, advertising, and down the middle, the same random bunch of stuff I've been posting for two and a half years.

Like it? Hate it? Confused by it? Email me at and let me know.

In Other News

Signs your social security plan ain't going over? On ESPN's Page 2, they're runing the Page 2 Invitational, putting random things up against each other--Cigarettes vs. Steroids, Olson twins vs. Canseco twins--and running down the brackets.

One of the matchups is Social Security Personal Accounts vs. Texas Hold 'Em.

Texas Hold 'Em is winning, 83%-17%.

I think it may be time to fold 'em.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Dump Michele Bachmann


Bake Me a Pie!

Amanda Marcotte moves to new digs at Pandagon today, and immediately posts something worth commenting on.

First, a bit of history:

When my sister was in fourth grade, she played soccer on a coed team with fourth and fifth graders. At one of her first practices, one of the fifth grade boys walked over an informed her that girls weren't supposed to play sports. They were supposed to stay in the kitchen and cook.

My sister responded by punching him in the nose, and making him cry.

I generally believe that resorting to violence is inappropriate--but in this case, it was the perfect response. And as a big brother, I couldn't have been prouder.

From that auspicious beginning, my sister went on to play traveling soccer, along the way earning her way onto a few regional teams as a goalkeeper. She was a four-year letter winner at our high school--the first girl in the school's history to earn four letters in soccer, and only the second Freshman ever to make varsity. She won two state championships, was all-metro, all-state tournament, and capped her career by earning a scholarship to the University of Kansas.

For my sister, sports were a vital part of her life, and literally made her the person she is today.

So imagine my surprise to find out that far from being a positive, women playing sports makes baby Jesus cry.

Now, Amanda does such a nice job fisking this article that I hesitate to add my two cents, but how can you avoid it when the level of dumbth is just so high? For example:

For quite a long time, women resisted the feminist call to play sports, since they just weren’t interested like men were. But this didn't sit well with the feminists; they felt this was the fault of male oppression. In the name of “equality,” feminist leaders poked and prodded and pushed women to join the games, until women in droves finally succumbed to the pressure. I think this should give us strong reason to pause and consider the question, “Should women participate in sports?”

Yes, I know when my sister was ten, she didn't want to play soccer. "I just want to play with my dolls and my Easy Bake Oven. Please, please don't make me kick that round thing!" she cried, as Susan Faludi carried her off to the den of iniquity soccer pitch.

Either that, or she was the girl who was running from day one, who once proclaimed herself a "cute little toughie." The girl who would later coach goalkeepers to come out cleats-up, because it's your box and anyone coming on needs a reminder to keep off you. One or the other. My memory's hazy.

Over the years I’ve noticed that Christian parents, as much as any parents, encourage their daughters to participate in sports. This is all the rage in our public schools, especially since the passage of Title IX by the feminists.

Indeed. I think that the council of feminists should be accountable to someone. Do we really want Susan Estrich to have a say in the law of the land?

Worse, the Church itself is being more heavily influenced by the culture instead of the other way around. One of the trends in schools is the participation in sports by women; therefore it shouldn’t surprise us that so many Christian daughters today participate in sports.

The Christian Church being influenced by what children are doing? Horrors! Next thing you know, someone will be saying "Suffer the children unto Me, and do not hinder them; for to such belong the Kingdom of God."

Hippies like that have no place in the church.

But is this really all that bad?

Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes!

I propose that sports greatly hinders the development of godly, Biblical, feminine character. Parents today expend extraordinary amounts of time and energy taking their daughters from one sports event to another, week after week, even to the point where it exhausts the family and family resources.! Not parents using their time and energy on their children! Not that! Why, you may as well suggest that parents eat with their children, or talk with them!

The fruits we see are that today’s Christian women are often ill-prepared to be Biblically obedient wives and mothers.

Yeah, and...WTF?

This brings to mind a couple of questions: “Why do we spend so much time preparing our daughters to play sports?" and "What does it prepare them for in the future?” My answer is that sports prepare women to be more like men. Instead of spending all that time preparing our daughters as the Bible directs, we are training them to be like men so they can better compete with men in traditionally masculine roles - i.e., compete with them in the workforce, in politics, in the military, and in sports.

Furthermore, allowing women to go to school--where they will be "educated" in such masculine fields as "math" and "reading"--is pure evil.

But if I can turn off the snark factor for a second: there are definitely differences in women and men. Whether they are nature or nurture or as with most things a combination of the two is debatable. But team sports are no more automatically masculine than cooking is automatically feminine.

Team sports teach a number of skills, foremost among them the ideal that you should sublimate what is good for you in exchange for the good of the team. In basketball, forego the tough shot to pass to the open teammate; in football, fake your route, then block the covering safety to spring the running back for a big game; in baseball, bunt and take the out in order to advance the runner into scoring position.

This is a tremendous lesson, and it's applicable to all humanity. There is no reason it should be lost on half of us.

I won't even mention that encouraging athleticism for an obese society might be a good thing.

Oh, but wait--my boy Scott takes a bold stand!

Actually, I don’t have a problem with women playing recreational sports on an occasional basis, just with them playing competitive sports on a regular day-to-day basis. This rigorous physical and mental training tends to make women more masculine. I think it is prudent to often ask ourselves “Can a woman do this activity and retain a Biblically feminine character?” With sports I think it will be difficult in most cases. Even some of the traditionally more feminine sports like gymnastics and ice skating are now influencing women to be more masculine.

Similarly, it's okay for a man to grill out once in a while, but don't let me catch him baking a cake!

Maybe, once upon a time, girls playing sports were more "masculine," whatever that means. But that's not true any more. Girls can be girls and athletes--and the trend will only continue. With the social stigma that Mr. Jonas wants to reinstitue gone, no girl need apologize to her date for being a talented point guard.

Heck, a goodly percentage of the men I know would find it attractive that a woman could break down her opponent with a crossover dribble.

The Bible talks about women developing a quiet and gentle spirit; I think sports fosters anything but that. They instead develop a competitive and contentious spirit that will cause them to have great difficulty in their marriages. I already mentioned that the effort expended on sports will hinder the development of wifely duties around the home; even worse is when a man has to compete against his own wife in the workplace and community.

Indeed. A man should be able to do anything he wants, unquestioned by his woman. Sorry, honey, I gambled all our money away. What? You're complaining? Where's your quiet and gentle spirit?

Oh, by the way, sports make you look like a total dyke. No, Scott says so:

Most men I know admire a woman who is reasonably healthy and fit; they are also attracted to a woman who is somewhat “soft” and cuddly. This does not mean she should be delicate like tissue paper; no, a woman should be reasonably strong, and the normal duties of life will make her that way. This is what we learn from the Proverbs 31 woman. However, if you look at pictures of female athletes who play sports or observe them on the playing fields, you will notice that many develop strong, muscular bodies. Female athletes also sneer, wince, push, and fight just like the men. I notice these things all the time in pictures in our hometown newspaper. The sneers are most obvious; they make young women very unfeminine. The masculine uniforms and sweaty bodies aren’t very attractive, either.

No, there are no female athletes out there that men think are attractive. Just, you know, Anna Kournikova, Mia Hamm, Venus and Serena Williams, Brandi Chastain, Maria Sharapova, Michelle Kwan, and I would imagine, about fifty million more.

Are there unattractive female athletes? Of course. But there are unattractive male athletes, too:

I also notice when driving by our public school grounds and sports fields another phenomenon taking place: the young girls are trained in sports right along with the boys. To me, this can only be degrading to the boys. In some cases, girls regularly participate on boys' sports teams, and therefore compete against the boys themselves.

And sometimes, getting popped in the nose by a girl one year your junior can make you rethink whether girls can be strong, and what their proper roles are.

During the past decade, more and more girls participated in wrestling; since there were no girls' wrestling teams, they joined the boys' teams and competed against the boys. I read about one school where the boys refused to wrestle the girls and forfeited their matches; there could be no greater embarrassment to them than to lose to a girl, not to mention it likely violated their sense of masculine chivalry. So not only is female sports participation degrading the feminine nature of women, in many cases it degrades the developing masculinity in boys.

The solution? Eliminate women's sports! That'll learn 'em!

By the way, and I'm speaking to the men here: can we just frickin' end the hangup about getting beat by a girl? Because all of us are gonna. Might be in wrestling, might be in writing, might be for that promotion. Get over it. Besides, now that girls are learning sports from the time they're, well, girls, some women will get to be pretty good at sports. Good enough to beat you, anyhow.

There's no shame in getting beat by a superior opponent, as long as you leave everything on the field. That's true even if the opponent lacks a Y chromosome.

Some Christians might say that women should not compete in professional sports, but any other level is okay. However, professional athletes get their start somewhere.

Just like drug addicts.

They begin in local school and community sports leagues like everyone else, and sometimes move on to college and adult leagues. Eventually, they may end up as semi-professionals or amateurs competing around the world in a variety of sports; but nonetheless, the masculinization process begins when they are young girls. The longer they play, the more likely it is that their femininity will be degraded.

So--dumb question--there's a time limit on these things? Thank god. Since my sister played soccer for twelve years, and coached it another five, I would think she'd have grown a beard by now. But evidently, she's just narrowly avoided the dreaded "eighteen year limit."

Also, I think that it's great that you just end up playing professionally. That'll come as welcome news to all the male and female athletes out there.

It is my belief that participation in sports will tend to likewise build manly character in women. If one believes like Dr. Podles that sports help to prepare men for war, then I think we can conclude that the same is true for women. One of the reasons so many women today enter the armed forces (and workplace) is due to their participation in sports, which have helped prepare them for that endeavor.

Not enough that they want to fight in defense of their nation--they want to work as mid-level managers at a copier supply firm! Stop those manly women before they start demanding equal pay!

Let's see...blah blah blah home schooling...oh, here's some more foolishness:

It shouldn’t be a secret that women’s sports promote immodest attire. The pressure to be immodest is just one more reason women should avoid sports, and in many cases we shouldn’t even watch women’s (and sometimes men’s) sport competitions. The Apostle Paul often referred to how athletes ran races “unencumbered” (i.e. nude), because of the Greek influence in sports during his day. Based on what Mr. Eldridge writes, the question of whether or not women should participate in sports should be easy to answer.

It's good that Mr. Jonas is going after women's athletics for promoting nudity. Without female athletes, fans of naked women would be left with only Playboy, Hustler, FHM, Sports Illustrated, Maxim, 500,000 other magazines, the porn industry, movies, television, radio, and 84% of the internet.

If we can just eliminate women's athletics, we'll have reduced female nudity by almost .05%--and that's a goal we can all get behind.

Given that sports may very well foster pagan and humanistic attitudes, I urge parents to think deeply about this issue and about whether or not any members of their families should participate in organized sports programs. As a minimum, I hope you will agree with me that we should keep our daughters away from competitive sports and spend our time training them how to be Biblically feminine women, wives and mothers.

Yes, indeedy.

Which reminds me.

My sister--you know, the man--is doing well these days. She's working at a supervisor for an insurance company, and preparing for something else: her first child, which she and her husband, Craig, are expecting in June.

They plan to have her baptized by the same Methodist minister who married them.

Maybe my sister isn't the picture of a passive, "Christian" wife. But I think she's going to make a great mother, and I know Craig wouldn't trade her for a dozen passive women. She's smart, independent, and capable.

She owes a lot of that to sports. And no matter what some backwards idiot may think, so do a lot of women.

In a few years, my daughter will be old enough to play sports. I suppose I could try to mold her into a proper woman.

I think I prefer she follow the model of her Aunt Jen.

Monday, March 14, 2005
Hey Jack Kerouac

Here's something you don't see every day--a Democratic governor reopening a bar.

God bless him. There is no surefeit of good bars, and any bar that the writer of On the Road could refer to as "an ideal bar" has to qualify in spades.

Scientists Named Steve

Heh. Indeed.

Friday, March 11, 2005
Farewell, Power Hour

Via Flash, more legislative stupidity:

The traditional power hour most new 21-year-olds celebrate could soon come to an end.

A new bill (HF 1226) introduced in the Minnesota House last week would prohibit 21-year-olds from drinking at midnight on their birthdays. Individuals would have to wait until 8 a.m. instead.

The chief author of the bill, Rep. Morrie Lanning, R-Moorhead, said the purpose is to prevent deaths because of excessive drinking of alcohol by young adults.

Oh, please.

First of all, the only effect this would have on preventable deaths due to excessive drinking is to time-shift those deaths by approximately 24 hours.

Second, though, I've been along for a few power hours, and guess what? Not one of the people I was with was enjoying their first drink. I know, it's shocking, but every single person I know who has not chosen to abstain from alcohol completely drank prior to their 21st birthday.

Which is why said power hours have never been huge drunkfests. They don't have to be. These people aren't trying to drink eight beers in an hour--they're just enjoying being able to drink legally.

For what it's worth, I continue to be dumbfounded that we believe people are capable of driving at 16, voting and dying for their country at 18, but incapable of dealing with alcohol until 21. Yes, drinking and driving, blah blah blah. But everyone agrees that drinking on campuses is far worse than it was a generation ago.

Let's see...a generation ago, legal drinking age was, I can't see any connection whatsoever. Can you?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Gov. Timmy, not content simply to be the minion of the Taxpayers' League, decides he must become the master. His plan? So dumb it hurts:

The proposed system, which would require legislative approval, would work like this:

Attached to the bottom of the annual notices of planned property tax changes -- the truth in taxation notices, mailed in November -- would be a simple new survey designed to determine whether taxpayers are satisfied with the city's and county's proposed tax levy.

The detachable form would ask taxpayers two questions:

"Are you satisfied with the proposed property tax levy?" for the county and for the city in which the property is located.

The proposal would not apply to school districts.

If the number of mailed-in "no" responses exceeded 20 percent of the total parcels of property in the jurisdiction, a referendum would be triggered, and voters would be able to choose between two options: the proposed levy, almost always an increase, or freezing it at the prior year's level. Property owners would get a vote on the triggering mechanism for each parcel they own, meaning those with more than one parcel would get more than one vote. Renters would not vote.


Now, let's ignore for a second that Pawlenty's refusal to raise state taxes has driven up local property taxes by between 9.6% and 17%. The plan is wrong for so many other reasons I can barely imagine that anyone thinks this is good policy.

Let's start with the question at hand. Am I satisfied with property taxes? No. I think they should be higher. Actually, I think income taxes should be higher, but nobody's asking me about that. What if I'm a homeowner sitting around, hating the fact that nobody plows my street anymore, and I send in a "no" postcard? Well, that starts the process of lowering taxes, and ensuring that next year, my street won't be paved.

Next, we come to the extremely low threshhold. Do you think that 20% of property owners are dissatisfied with their taxes? Yes, I do. I also think 20% of property owners probably believe the goverment should distribute free beer. 20% believe that aliens control Dean Johnson. 20% isn't a lot.

We're going to hold elections based on that? Isn't this why we have representative democracy?

Oh, wait--not according to this plan. If I rent my home, I get no vote in this. Never mind that my landlord is undoubtedly passing along some of his tax burden to me. If I'm a renter, I have no say whatsoever in this. Yes, sure, I'll get to vote in the runoff that the landed gentry has called for, but as Minnesota Politics Guru notes:

See, according to his proposal, only property owners would be able to object to tax increases. And a property owner would have as many votes as they have parcels of land. So a landlord with five apartments could have five votes, the hundred tenants in his buildings: zero

So much for one man, one vote.

I don't give this plan any chance of passing the Senate. But it's indicative of the way The Taxpayers' League--er, the GOP--oh, heck, they're the same entity--think about our state. And it's proof that despite being destroyed in the mid-terms, Gov. Timmy's love for the League is undiminished.