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Friday, March 31, 2006

Republicans against fair tax system

So Democrats and Republicans are arguing over tax relief. DFL Senator Larry Pogemiller wants to get rid of the marriage penalty and fix the Alternative Minimum Tax, which is hurting more and more middle-class taxpayers. In order to make the proposal revenue-neutral, he recommended increasing taxes on the top wage earners in the state.

Republicans say raising taxes isn't necessary because there's a "surplus", but they also admit that the surplus isn't big enough to deal with the marriage penalty and the AMT. Besides, given how small the surplus is, making it revenue neutral isn't a bad idea anyway.

So why are Republicans against this? Why, indeed. Once upon a time, I wrote about how the richest in this state don't pay their fair share in taxes. Pogemiller's plan would flatten the hump paid by the middle class while slightly increasing the amount paid by the top earners; in short, it would make that graph flatter. Which means fairer. What's the problem with this?

Drinking politically

Another story in the Strib, this one about Drinking Liberally and Drinking, uh, Conservatively. I've attended the Drinking Liberally get together, though it has been quite a long while. It's on Wednesday nights at the 331 Club in NE Minneapolis.

Portraits of immigrants

The Star Tribune has a bunch. It's a pretty good read.

Probe flap back

Greg Wersal, the lovable conservative whose lawsuit led to political endorsements for judges, is now demanding an investigation into the whole Dean Johnson-judicial conversation issue. And it looks like he is going to get it.

Is this what people really want? I think the truth that comes out isn't going to make anybody look good. If I had to bet, I would say that there was a conversation between Johnson and a judge, and it went something like this:

Johnson: "You know, I'm getting a lot of heat over our existing DOMA law not being good enough."
Judge: "From where I'm standing, it's a pretty robust law."

That's the end of it. Two sentences max. Certainly not a promise to rule in a particular way, or anything else. Nor is it as strong a statement as Johnson implied. But it was something pretty concrete.

Maybe we'll never know. But like I said, I think this is how it went down, before Johnson and the mystery jurist starting talking about Daunte Culpepper.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

I don't know Katherine Kersten is demonstrably writing more crazy these days, but her last kolumn was only a short respite from the insanity. Today, she is calling for censure -- not of President Bush, consummate liar, but of Dean Johnson.

Wingnuttia Level: 10 (She's gonna blow!)

I guess I really shouldn't be all that surprised. Republicans have been clinging to the Dean Johnson imbroglio like a drowning man to a piece of driftwood. Like I have said before, Johnson made a mistake. I doubt he out-and-out lied, just as I doubt he had extensive discussions with supreme court justices about Minnesota's DOMA law. I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in the middle, in a place that people may not wish exists but does. People talk, on and off the record. It happens.

That hasn't stopped Republicans from calling for Johnson's head, and Kersten is no exception. She is outraged, not only at Johnson, but at the fact that nobody seems to care. Here is a blatant example of lying, in her view, and that nobody is taking it seriously is incredible to her.

You know what? Welcome to the world that I and many other liberals have lived in for years. There's a big difference between Dean Johnson's alleged lies, though, and President Bush's proven lies. Nobody has died as a result of what Johnson said. Nobody will. This will, ultimately, be a pretty minor event in the history of Minnesota. Whether the institutions of the U.S. will ever totally recover from Bush's lies is another story.

Kersten doesn't get any of this. She doesn't understand that maybe people don't care about Johnson's alleged lies because President Bush and other Republicans lie so frequently it's not a big deal anymore. Nobody could foresee people ramming planes into buildings. WMDs in Iraq. Smoking Gun. We'll be greeted as liberators. Mission Accomplished. We have turned a corner. Nobody could foresee the levees being breached. Need I go on?

"If that doesn't warrant censure, I don't know what does." Now only if you said that about President Bush instead of Dean Johnson, I would say "right on."

No comment

So many things could be said about this story that are in poor taste...FarmHouse Frat...hazing... luscious farm animals...etc.

Road construction season is upon us!

And with that comes the release of those projects that MnDOT is undertaking.

It's about time that the Crosstown Commons was fixed. The only thing that stands out on that list is the building of the new Highway 212 in the southwest metro. I guess it's nice when the Commissioner of Transportation is from that area and can speed these little projects up, isn't it?


Stories like this make me think that the MPCA should be renamed the Minnesota Pollution Enabling Agency.

Yes, I understand that the MPCA has to work with businesses in this state, even ones that pollute. But in the end, the air, land, and water are owned by all of us, collectively. So there should be "basic science" done to see if the chemicals being put into our environment are harmful, even if that might tick off the businesses.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Compassionate Conservatism

Good lord. Apparently, Republicans are pushing bills that aim to narc on immigrants who try to get health care, or who have the audacity to get pregnant and then give birth (Culture of Life!). Rep. Neva Walker is absolutely correct: if something like this gets into law, immigrants will for better or worse assume that if they go to the ER for emergency care they will be reported to ICE.

These kinds of proposals would be par for the course from people who just don't give a good goddamn about immigrants. But I seem to remember phrases like "Compassionate Conservative" and "Culture of Life" from erstwhile Republicans. Do these people have no capacity for seeing hypocrisy?

Gophers stadium stuff

Advances in the senate.

I like the bill prohibiting naming rights and the use of student service fees. I'm sick of all these corporate stadium names. What's wrong with the old "Memorial Stadium"? Second, why should mandatory student service fees cover this? Do mandatory student service fees cover other buildings, besides the Rec Center and Coffman, which ostensibly exist and student service buildings?

That's not to say that students can't pay, just let them pay voluntarily. This is the 21st century here. Maybe buying bricks at $50 or $100 a pop isn't good enough: how about a scrolling virtual brick wall on some huge HDTV monitors where money will get you not only your name, but a message, scrolling for all eternity? The brilliant marketing students over at the Carlson School of Management should be able to come up with something.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Gophers stadium?

Of all the stadia proposals out there, the only one I feel I can give any support to is a stadium for the Gophers. The U of M is a public institution, they aren't going anywhere, and the football team does not consist of overpaid whiners. Plus, Big Ten universities need big outdoor stadiums. So if a plan gets done this year, I would have no problem with it.

Plus, the latest plan involves a land swap that would result in land being given to the DNR for preservation amidst a sea of expanding suburbia. That's a good thing. If the U of M keeps this up (as opposed to a PR campaign full of threats and hyperbole), then they may be the only stadium winner this year.

Eminent Domain reform

I have no problem with this. Government should not use eminent domain to enrich one private group at the expense of another. Eminent domain for roads? Parks? Schools? All fine. But for development? No way. I'm glad to see this bill advancing.

Katherine Kersten's Korner

It looks like Kersten has temporarily used up her cache of crazy, because today's kolumn is about an old-fashioned newspaper weekly in Zumbrota. It's all about dedication, hard work, and a paper that has been in one family for a long time. Don't worry about zapping any brain cells.

Wingnuttia Level: 0 (Safe for the reality-based community)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Poll: Minnesotans oppose marriage amendment

A poll commissioned by Equality Minnesota shows that a majority of people in this state are not taking the Republican wedge issue bait: 54 percent oppose the so-called gay marriage amendment, as opposed to 40 percent support. When asked if they support an amendment that bans civil unions, which this one does, support drops to 28 percent (the Star Tribune readers representative has a good column today about how stating that it is just an amendment banning gay marriage, not also banning civil unions, does a disservice to readers).

The poll asked more than 100 questions and found some interesting results. Most people are against gay marriage itself, but agree that the law Minnesota has banning gay marriage is adequate. A bit less than half believe that if gay marriage were allowed, "traditional" marriage would be hurt.

Of course, the homophobe amendment supporters are going to rant and rave about how this poll is biased or something, but I think it is clear that most Minnesotans want to talk about important issues, not divisive social issues.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Senate passes bonding bill

Good for them. Let's get these legislators out of Saint Paul before they try to pass more ridiculous laws. When Michelle Bachmann and Tom Emmer are around, the less the legislature is in session, the better.

Dean Johnson

Can we all move on now?

I do have to say this about the Republicans: their spin machine was revved high enough to distort the fabric of space/time. Websites, daily or hourly press releases, incredulous rants...Abe Lincoln must be proud.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Katherine Kersten ostensibly writes a kolumn for the Metro section of the Star Tribune. Rarely, if ever, does she address actual Metro-area issues. Does she even live in Minneapolis? Who knows? In any case, she tries to do so in her latest kolumn, with less than stellar results.

Wingnuttia Factor: 4 (Innumeracy ahead!)

As most people in Minneapolis and surrounding areas know, a person was fatally shot after a robbery in Uptown on Saturday. The killing was completely senseless, something that most people in Uptown rarely have to deal with. Does this mean that crime is out of control in Minneapolis or Uptown in particular? The way Kersten writes, that's what you would think. The reality? Something a bit different.

Robberies are up this year and last year in Minneapolis. According to her statistics, serious crimes were up 13 percent in 2005. This is after a 40 percent decrease between 1997 and 2003. "Thirteen percent!" people scream. "What an epidemic!" But if my calculations are correct, even if serious crimes went up 13 percent in 2005, they are still down more than 30 percent from 1997. Of course, any uptick in crime is something that needs to be dealt with. But crime is nowhere near as bad in Minneapolis as it was in the 90s, to say nothing about it being worse.

She then starts hammering on outgoing police chief Bill McManus. That's bravery, taking shots at somebody out the door, let me tell you. Anyhoo, she pans his suggestion of "better lighting" in the area to reduce crime. While she may have some kind of issue with this plan, calling it a "band-aid for cancer", this is in fact what people who actually live in Uptown are calling for. Does Kersten live in Uptown? Does she ever visit it? Can she make any valid criticisms of crime-fighting plans for the neighborhood?

Former city councilperson Dan Niziolek believes that the police department is seriously underfunded. And that's all she has to say about that: one sentence. Nothing about Governor Pawlenty's and House Republican cuts to Local Government Aid that took millions from Minneapolis. Nothing about short-sighted tax cuts. Of course not; that would get in the way of Kersten's beliefs that the entire problem is due to McManus.

Niziolek dutifully helps Kersten with this belief, saying that a large part of the blame lies with McManus. According to him, "For years until 2002, we had both beat officers and a crime prevention team here in Uptown. They knew the problem properties, the neighbors. But you don't see them on the street now. They've been taken for a centralized unit to deal with brush fires citywide." I'm pretty sure that happened because budget cuts reduced the number of officers available. Niziolek also takes issue with how CODEFOR performed under McManus, but not enough information is given to prove that point either way. Niziolek also takes a few parting shots at McManus's time spent creating relationships with "community leaders."

The kolumn concludes with Niziolek saying that morale has suffered as a result of "a high-profile investigation of Police Department brass that caused consternation in the department." Again, not enough information is given here, but I'm assuming that he is talking about the investigation into the handling of the Duy Ngo case, where an officer working undercover was shot by another officer. Call me crazy, but I think that's exactly the kind of thing that should be investigated, even if it causes "consternation."

I have nothing against Niziolek, but I do think it's pretty funny that a former councilperson is talking about a former police chief. Where are comments from Ralph Remington, the current representative of the Uptown area? Couldn't he be reached for comment? Or wouldn't his comments bolster the conclusions that Kersten has already drawn?

I guess that after two kolumns harping on teh gay, Kersten thought that she should do what she was actually hired to do. Close, but no cigar.

Oppressed Minority

Via Pharyngula, a U of M study shows that atheists are the most distrusted minority in this country, worse than even teh gay or teh Islamofascists:

"From a telephone sampling of more than 2,000 households, university researchers found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants, gays and lesbians and other minority groups in 'sharing their vision of American society.' Atheists are also the minority group most Americans are least willing to allow their children to marry."

I don't have any illusions about what people think of atheists/agnostics in this country, but to be the worst minority? Wow. I find it funny that people see atheists as believing in "rampant materialism". I'm no expert, but of all the people lacking faith that I know, none are materialists. And if you went to the biggest, most opulent houses in the suburbs, I bet you wouldn't find many atheists if any, but you would find some people claiming to be devout Christians.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

How many people in Minnesota...

...lead empty, meaningless lives?

I guess we know the answer

Teh absurd

Ah, over at Eschaton. From him comes this collection of absurd and hilarious comics. May not be entirely work-safe, due less to the pictures perhaps than to the fact that when you burst out laughing from some of them you will be a distraction.

Monday, March 20, 2006

House passes anti-immigrant bill

Today, the House passed a bill that prevents cities from passing so-called sanctuary ordinances: those ordinances that prevent law enforcement officers from asking people about their immigration status without cause. In this state, only Minneapolis and Saint Paul have these ordinances, which have been passed to allow immigrants to feel more secure when dealing with the police.

In a perfect world, passing such a law wouldn't necessarily be a problem; in fact, there would be no need for sanctuary ordinances in the first place. But we don't live in a perfect world. We live in a world where undocumented immigrants are exploited by employers, partners, spouses, or other people. We live in a world where the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau is woefully understaffed and constantly backlogged, leading to immigration status issues that are no fault of the immigrants themselves. We live in a world where immigration law itself makes little sense.

I don't know what reasons Republican Jim Knoblach had for bringing this bill forward. Maybe it is 100% an issue of security, like he says. But for some supporters of this bill, I find that hard to believe; instead, I think it may have something to do with the stereotype of "illegal immigrants" being brown-skinned people who just swam across the Rio Grande. You can't ignore that aspect of it.

In the end, this bill will only harm our communities. When an immigrant sees a drug dealer down the street or has information on a robbery suspect, he or she will be less likely to go to the police with this information. That means everybody will be more likely to be a victim of crime, immigrant or natural-born U.S. citizen. Is that justice? Not in my book.

Why did it come to this?

I doubt we will ever know the truth about Dean Johnson's discussions or lack thereof about DOMA with judges. I just don't know what he was thinking when he started down this path in the first place. There was no need to bring judges into the mix when discussing why the "I hate teh gay" amendment isn't necessary. Simply saying that there are no court challenges (true) and that we have no idea how judges would rule (also true) are plenty good enough reasons for why we don't need this right now, if Johnson isn't willing to flat-out say we don't need it ever.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Who's running

Here's a purported list of possible candidates running to fill Sabo's seat. I noticed that Senator Scott Dibble isn't running. But a lot of others are.

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Wow, she's got stupid firing on all cylinders. I guess she is in the midst of some kind of "Best of Right-Wing Idiocy: the Anti-Homo Amendment", because she has yet another kolumn about the marriage amendment. This time, it's about how evil Senate Democrats are keeping entirely reasonable, thoughtful, people, the crème de la crème as it were, from voting to prevent the LGBT community from ever having relationships that get the kind of public respect that Britney Spear's and Liz Taylor's marriages do.

Wingnuttia Level: 10 (She's gonna blow!)

Are people who want to permanently enshrine in our state constitution the fact that they don't like homosexual "bigots"? Well, I'm not sure. But what I do know is that I can't think of a single positive thing to say about them. There's no point to this amendment.

Kersten reveals this herself when she says, "What's the upshot of this view? That, as a group, Minnesotans who support the marriage amendment are foolish, motivated by an irrational animus against homosexuals. If you believe that children need a mother and a father, you are the equivalent of a Southern bigot who demands that blacks and whites use separate bathrooms."

See, if people really cared about "children needing a mother and a father", they would be banning divorce and mandating that any woman who gets pregnant out of wedlock marry the father. It's that simple. The fact that Kersten and the other wingnuts behind the amendment aren't arguing this shows that this has nothing, nothing to do with the kids. So stop pretending.

She then moves on to another favorite argument, that if this amendment doesn't pass, then criticizing homosexuality will become illegal. Come on, this is America: making this kind of speech illegal would be like making it illegal to protest the president. Uh...all kidding aside, this kind of irrational fearmongering makes about as much sense as the polygamy argument. Pointing out that there are hyper-sensitive pro gay-rights groups out there, something conservatives love to do, doesn't mean a thing.

Hey, Star Tribune: are you embarassed yet? What is it going to take?

Saturday, March 18, 2006

100,000 visits!

How cool is that?

Thanks, anonymous qwest.net person from Marshall, Washington.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Big news

Probably, you've heard by now that Martin Sabo is retiring. This comes as a pretty big shock, to say the least. Who is going to jump in the race? Who will be able to put together a successful campaign between now and the 5th CD convention on May 6th? There are lots of names, but nothing certain at this point.

I have no idea what will happen. If, however, Mike Erlandson runs, I don't think I would be terribly inclined to support him. Of the people listed in the Star Tribune story, I find Sen. Scott Dibble to be most intriguing right now.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Even more teh funny

Via Pharyngula, the best mistranslated Chinese menu ever!

I'll have the "Man fruit braise the north almond", please.


I wish Mark Dayton would blast President Bush as harshly for knowingly, repeatedly, and continually breaking the law as much as he blasted Russ Feingold for trying to remind people that not even the President is allowed to ignore the law. Seriously, WTF?

Why do Republicans hate voters?

I got an e-mail about this bill, and yes, it is pathetic. It would require people who register to vote to provide proof of citizenship like a birth certificate. And surprise, surprise, it is authored by Republican Tom Emmer. Since Republicans can't directly do away with same-day voter registration, I guess they are trying to go through the back door by making it next to impossible for people to actually register on election day. After all, who keeps their birth certificate lying around and takes it to their polling place?

Of course, Emmer and other supporters of this bill will whine about all the fraud that is going on, and how voters don't trust the election system. In fact, there is so much fraud out there that the people who continually introduce bills like these can't point to any instances of non-citizens actually voting illegally. Of course, who cares about facts?

You know what makes me less trustful of the voting system? The fact that there are voting machines out there that are easily hacked, don't produce a paper trail, and are manufactured by a company whose head said that he was going to work as hard as possible to get votes for one particular political party. Yeah, that kind of thing makes me worried. If Tom Emmer wants to instill more trust in our voting system, he should introduce a bill that would require all electronic voting machines used in Minnesota t be open-source and to produce a voter-verified paper trail. Of course, that wouldn't keep people from voting, a top Republican priority, but hey, at least it addresses a real issue.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

I knew it. I just knew it. Since her last two kolumns were relatively benign, I knew that she was saving up a doozy, one so incredible stupid that it threatens to implode itself due to the weight of its idiocy, and this week's kolumn is it. Wow. Just, wow. She has taken up the battle cry of the truly wackjob anti-gay marriage wingnuts, saying "If gay marriage is legalized, polygamy won't be far behind."

Wingnuttia level (∞: It's a Kersten singularity!)

First, let's take the easy things. An HBO series? Yeah, right, that's important. And how can conservatives like Kersten say that "Brokeback Mountain" is simultaneously a meaningless movie that is ignored by "Middle America" because of its far-out values while at the same time saying that it culturally packs a big wallop? If I've learned nothing else, it's that conservative minds don't explode when faced with such cognitive dissonance. Finally, "influential voice" and "John Tierney" don't belong within a hundred miles of each other, much like "Katherine Kersten" and "able to put together a coherent argument."

I almost forgot the "elite" law professors at elitist coastal law schools like Columbia and Yale that are "laying the groundwork" for polygamy. Names? Proof? Facts to back this up? Nah, we don't need those.

Now that the simple stuff is out of the way, I'll explain the reason why polygamy will not happen, in small words so that even Kersten can understand: marriage law is incapable of handling polygamy.

That's it. No ambiguity. Existing law can very easily handle same-sex marriage: just remove gender language from the statutes, and there you go. Nothing fundamentally changes in statute. However, to legalize polygamy, you can't just change a few words. It would take a fundamental rethinking and redrafting of the law to incorporate this change, something that is probably impossible.

If three people are in a marriage and one wants out, how you do you handle it? How do you divide assets? Who gets the house? How do you handle custody of kids? Do the two remaining people get two-thirds of the custody, and the person leaving the marriage one-third, in order to keep the proportions? What about child support? What happens if one member of the marriage is in a Terri Schiavo-like situation, and his or her spouses have to decide what to do, but are evenly split. Do you flip a coin? Can marriage be added to or subtracted from at any time, or do you have to marry everybody at once and then separate everybody if one wants out?

That's three people. Imagine five, or ten, or fifty. It is completely untenable. I don't think even the most "elite" of minds could come up with a framework that allowed this to happen.
Does Kersten care about this, though? Has she given one split-second of thought to what allowing polygamy would mean from a legal standpoint? Of course not. No, it's far more fun to just parrot stupid arguments in favor of the homophobic marriage amendment, throwing them out there in case they stick. Thinking gives you wrinkles, after all.

Why doesn't Kersten simply write a piece about how not passing the marriage amendment will lead to the destruction of Earth by space mutants? Because that has as much logical basis as her polygamy argument, and it would probably be a lot more fun to read.

Star Tribune: are you embarrased to have this fool writing for you yet? I could write drivel like hers if you want, and I would probably do it for less. How about it?

The "Schiavo Bill"

Yes, apparently some legislators have absolutely no shame.

The article does a poor job of actually explaining what the hell this bill may do, but from the title, I can surmise that if a Terri Schiavo-like situation existed in Minnesota, then her husband and doctors would be forced to keep her alive until "nature" had taken its course. In which case this bill is utterly disgusting.

I am glad that Schiavo had no consciousness left, because otherwise she would have been imprisoned in a personal Hell for years, having no meaningful existence but unable to express anything. Should I ever find myself in a similar situation, I don't want to be kept alive to prove the "sanctity of life." That's not life. That's a technological profanity.

And what does "Katy Thuleen, whose son was born 9 weeks prematurely with cerebral palsy, leaving doctors to suggest he may not live long" have to do with this? Does the law currently say that unless people explicitly say people should live, they will be killed? Thuleen didn't need this law to protect anything. How is her story relevant?

Republicans: in your bedroom, in your doctor's office, in your pocketbook. And increasingly in jail. What a party!

Foot in mouth

Saying this was stupid, whether accurate or not. But the point remains: nobody is mounting a court challenge in Minnesota to legalize same-sex marriage, so the issue is moot. We don't need the amendment.

This has to be the coolest thing I have ever heard on the subject:

Jamie Raskin a law professor, when asked by a Maryland State Senator for his comments on the fact that the Bible says that marriage is between one man and one woman, said "Senator, when you took your oath of office, you placed your hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the Constitution. You did not place your hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible."


Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pawlenty can keep radio show

This really isn't surprising. I didn't think having the radio show was illegal, but it certainly is unfair.

Right-wing peas in a pod

A lot of people blew their tops when it was implied that right-wing Republicans like Michelle Bachmann are really not that far from the Fred Phelps wackos that protest funerals. Are they really that far apart?

Well, the Department of Health is cutting funding for the Minnesota AIDS hotline, which has been in service for twenty years. Some see this as the right-wing's continuing attacks on the Minnesota AIDS Project. Attacking this program is nothing new to far-right conservatives.

Seeing as how Fred Phelps and his brainwashed acolytes like to carry signs that say things like "AIDS Cures Fags", I'm sure they would very much approve of this step by the Department of Health.

Bizarro again

Pawlenty's plans:

Marriage penalty fix? Good.
Single sales? Also good.

Something's goofy here...


Nahm thinks that the White House "needs a new team" because they have a "political tin ear."

I've got a better reason: how about because they are the most incompetent and rapidly becoming the most criminal White House team ever? Criminals like Claude "I'm a Refund-amentalist" Allen et al don't need to have their ears closer to the ground. They need them in jail.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Reducing abortions

Via Atrios, Tapped has this commentary on William Saletan's abortion rantings. I know, I know, that's a lot of indirection (kinda like last night's Simpsons episode), and it's not really Minnesota-related, but it's still something that bugs me.

I don't know about most pro-choicers, because I don't hang around huge gatherings of pro-choice people (if such gatherings exist). I am pro-choice, but to me, that means first and foremost reducing the number of abortions that occur. This isn't some "third-way" mamby-pamby stuff, or a gimmick. There are too many preventable abortions out there, and reducing them is something that is both incredibly possible and desirable, without getting into the abortion debate itself.

This, however, is where the pro-choice movement diverges from its opponents. Since the vast majority of women who are getting an abortion didn't use some form of contraception, getting everybody who is sexually active, male and female, to always use contraception will drastically reduce the number of abortions in this state (also notice that in all of 2004, there was one, that's ONE, third-trimester abortion. "Partial-birth abortion" pandemic indeed...), maybe even by half. That's the "mix of abstinence ed, sex education and contraception, as well as making adoption more socially acceptable and providing better services, such as health care, to young children regardless of their parent's means" that Mario Cuomo called for.

Notice that it says a mix of abstinence and sex ed. Obviously, abstinence is the best choice, especially for teens and others who are unable or unwilling to be parents. It is 100% effective against pregnancy and STDs, and I don't know if there is anybody out there who really wants their teenage kids to be sexually active. However, just as schools tend not to simply teach students that they should not drink or smoke either, but go into some depth as to what drinking and smoking can actually lead to, so should sex ed include discussions on contraceptives. Which are best, what their failure rates are, which are crap (I'm looking in your direction, natural family planning). Saying that comprehensive sex ed makes kids want to have sex is like saying that teaching about saturated fats makes kids want to buy Big Macs. Give me a break.

As Tapped points out, though, this is exactly the kind of initiative that so-called pro-lifers adamantly oppose. If they truly wanted to reduce the number of abortions, they would support these proven methods, but they don't. Instead, they latch onto ideas that either serve to make abortion simply more inconvenient for people (24-hour waiting periods), or outright lie to try to get people to make uninformed decisions (the fake link between abortion and breast cancer, or fetal pain). Whereas sex ed and contraceptive use could reduce the number of abortions by the thousands, how much of an impact has the 24-hour waiting period had on the number of abortions in Minnesota? It certainly hasn't gone down by the thousands.

It's all about morality. There are a lot of people who have a problem with contraception and how this has dissociated sex from parenthood to some extent. Well, regardless of whether these feelings are valid or not, you can't put the genie back in the bottle. The pill, the patch, the sponge, they are all a part of our lives and will be forevermore. The right-wing extreme may want to push us back to some pre-modern Amish lifestyle where none of these evil contraceptives exist, but most people aren't going to go along with that. The only choice is to figure out how best to deal with our new situation.

That brings us to another interesting point in the article, about calling abortion "awful" as opposed to bad or evil. I agree with that, and although I have not come up with a good term myself, awful is not a bad one. Because every time somebody has an abortion, it is awful. Sometimes, the awfulness is the result of being a victim of crime. Sometimes, it's the result of being a victim of somebody in power: a family member, a teacher, another authority figure. Sometimes, it's the result of an awful failure in those contraceptive methods at a time when supporting a child isn't an option. Sometimes, it's the result of an awful substance abuse problem, leaving nobody fit to deal with raising a child. And sometimes, it's the result of being awfully irresponsible, as people tend to do. In any case, I don't think anybody would argue that every abortion represents a missed opportunity at best and a tragedy at worst.

Whereas right-wingers want to force women into raising children they don't want, marrying men they don't want, or even giving rapists equal parenting rights, though, I believe that abortion needs to be legal and accessible in these circumstances. There's a time for discussions about morality; that time, however, is not when a woman is facing an extremely difficult choice, when she doesn't necessarily know what is the best thing to do. "Pro-lifers" want to shove their morality down her throat right then.

The right has somehow painted a picture of pro-choicers as being people who want to put up drive-through abortion clinics at every corner, or a picture of people who think that when a woman chooses to have a child instead of an abortion it's a bad thing. I don't know how they managed to do this, but it is in no way a reflection of the reality of most pro-choice people in this country. Remember, the majority of the people in the U.S. don't want to overturn Roe vs. Wade. We just want to reduce the number of abortions, and some of us have better ideas than others. It's time to do something about it.


Who here had fun getting around today? Nobody? Didn't think so.

I don't think I've seen driving conditions this bad in quite some time.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

It's pre-Monday, and Katherine Kersten's latest kolumn is already up. She is giving her silly muscle a rest apparently, because like the last one, it's not fully of craziness. Instead, it's a Horatio Alger-like story of tough times and child endangerment.

Wingnuttia Level: 0 (Safe for the reality-based community)

If you like the hard-scrabble life, go nuts.

Pharmacists and birth control

Why is this such a big issue? Don't pharmacists know that their job is to fill prescriptions? What's next, a bill protecting vegetarian butchers from serving meat? If you are against birth control, then find a different line of work. Simple. If you don't want to fire a gun, don't join the military or become a police officer.

Because of the crazy laws in this country, and the fact that Republican leadership is refusing to allow Plan B to be sold over-the-counter, pharmacists have to dispense it. I'd be a lot happier if anybody could get any drug without a prescription, eliminating this problem, but I know that's not going to happen anytime soon.

This bill could be worse, in that it could be written to allow pharmacists to refuse to prescribe drugs without any consideration given to helping the customer/patient go elsewhere. What "timely access" really means, though, is going to be the big issue here.

If it does pass, I hope that pharmacists with a conscience will inform their employers that from this point forward, they will refuse to fill prescriptions for Viagra for Republicans due to moral objections.

I can't hear you!

Bu..bu...but, climate change doesn't exist!


Still looking for some answers to some questions.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Blind optimism

Zach over at MN Publius must be smoking something pretty good: according to him, Becky Lourey's straw poll results means she "has renewed momentum after her strong showing at precinct caucuses and I bet she thinks (and she's right) that she's got a real shot at the endorsement."

Now, I'm not picking on him for any reason other than the fact that I read this and was struck by how ridiculous it sounds. There's optimism, and then there's craziness. There is no way that Lourey has the momentum right now, nor does she have a "real shot" at the endorsement.

I still think that the most likely outcome, barring anybody dropping out of the race beforehand, is no endorsement. There is a small chance that Hatch will get the endorsement, which becomes a big chance should Lourey be his running mate. There is zero chance that Lourey or Kelley will get the endorsement unless Hatch's bus hits Doran's car and they both fall into Ole Savior's personal bottomless pit.

Let's remember the logistics of getting the endorsement: you need 60%. It's not completely accurate to extrapolate delegates from straw poll results, but they are a start. Hatch got 38.3% of the vote, meaning he is just a couple of percentage points away from being able to singlehandedly deny everybody else the endorsement. Similarly, Lourey and Kelley combined can also deny everybody else the endorsement if they hold together.

For Lourey to win the endorsement, she would have to keep all of her delegates, get all of Kelley's delegates, all of Doran's, both of Savior's, and get almost all of the undecideds to go her way. If Kelley was dropped in the voting before Lourey, would they all go to her? Almost certainly not. The same thing applies if the situation is reversed: Lourey delegates would not go to Kelley, especially if Hatch made a big deal about Kelley's stadium support, which is anathema to most liberals. The result is a stalemate and no endorsement.

If Hatch really is going after Lourey as a running mate, that's a very smart move on his part. She is a liberal woman with small business experience from a pretty rural part of the state, all of which make up for perceived Hatch shortcomings. Furthermore, if you take the Molnau dual-role route and offer Lourey control of a state agency, say the Department of Human Services, it may look pretty attractive to her. Plus, such a team would, by the numbers, be close to the endorsement if not already there.

Again, I'm not saying this because I love Hatch or hate Lourey. Governor Hatch, Governor Lourey, either one would be fine for Minnesota. It's just unrealistic to argue that somebody with 22% in a straw poll, barely in second place, has the momentum and a real shot. Lourey and Kelley better start thinking long and hard about their positions and what they can do with them. As should Hatch.

Who I like in the DFL at this point in time

I'm not hugely thrilled with any candidates for any office, to the extent that I am volunteering for any or writing huge checks. They are a good bunch, but none are either so wonderful that I must go out and spread the word, or so evil that I must work to defeat them at any cost. Nevertheless, here is who I plan on supporting:

Senate: Klobuchar
Governor: Hatch
Secretary of State: Ritchie
Auditor: Otto
Attorney General: Entenza

Let the bashing begin.

State of the State

Today was Governor Pawlenty's State of the State address. The full text is here, the highlights are here.

What was the message? Typical Pawlenty: I solved the budget deficit, moving forward, let's hate teh gay, and so forth. Nothing really Earth-shattering.

Education: Pass the 70% bill. Meh.

Health care: Insurance companies should provide better care and more people should have access to insurance. Yes, and beer should be free too. What is he actually going to do about it?

Natural resources: Pass a constitutional amendment dedicating funding, let's do better for conservation. Nice, but people won't forget how much spending on the environment and natural resources has been cut lately.

Plus, crack down on illegal immigrants and pass the gay marriage amendment, because those (especially the latter) are huge issues.

Where was transportation? I must have missed it. I'm sure I'll have plenty of time to mull it over sitting on the freeway in rush hour traffic, though.

Needless to say, I wasn't too impressed by the whole thing.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Today's kolumn is apparently about hockey, and I am sufficiently uninterested that you will have to read it for yourself. I hope that you will live.

Meet teh Stupids

Over half of Americans reject evolution, say that God created life exactly as it says in the (Christian) Bible.

I guess we don't need Nobel Prize winners in this country anymore, do we? I'm sure the nice Chinese and Indians and Koreans will share their medical and scientific breakthroughs with us, don't you think?

More caucus stuff

With 75% of precincts reporting, here are the results of the DFL straw poll for governor:

Mike Hatch 38.3
Becky Lourey 22.7
Steve Kelley 22.4
Undecided/other 9.8
Kelly Doran 6.4
Ole Savior 0.3

So I was pretty much right, although Hatch did have a bit more than I would have expected. Some are saying that this proves how weak Hatch is, but come on: there are at least three serious contenders in the race, so nobody was going to get anywhere close to 50%. I think this shows that Hatch has the momentum. If Lourey can't get the votes of the most liberal of the DFLers, those who attend the caucuses, she isn't going to do much better in a primary. Kelley is still unknown. So Hatch is the frontrunner, although if I had to make a prediction today with all of these people in the race, I don't think anybody will get the endorsement.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Precinct caucus report

Attendance was down from 2004, which isn't surprising. However, about 50 people showed up. The straw poll for governor was virtually a dead heat between Hatch, Kelley, and Lourey; I predict that statewide, Hatch will eke out a narrow victory. Other than that, your basic caucus activities. Lots of fun!

More questions

Via Digby again, today I found this video of a person interviewing anti-abortion protesters and asking them how a woman who has an abortion should be punished if abortion is made illegal. Now, it's not as if I expect these protesters to be geniuses, or even competent most of the time, but the fact that almost none of them had ever considered the question is mind-boggling. Only one of them would admit that yes, if abortion is illegal, then maybe a woman who gets an abortion should do hard time. Others said that no punishment was necessary, as an abortion was "punishment enough" or that "God would judge." That's an interesting theory of criminal justice.

These people spend so much time screaming "abortion is murder" that they don't seem to make the connection: if abortion is murder, then women who get abortions and the doctors that perform them are guilty of murder, and their punishment should be strict, up to and including life in prison or the death penalty. That's what happens to murderers. But no, that seems just beyond their grasp. Even the South Dakota abortion ban makes getting/performing (I'm not sure which) an abortion a Class 5 felony, in the same class as possessing half a pound of pot. Abortion is murder indeed.

Why didn't anybody move to amend this law to charge people who get abortions with murder, and call the anti-abortion nuts on their logic? I would certainly do the same if I had the chance.

Do it NOW!

Why aren't you heading to your precinct caucuses yet?

The info:

DFL Party
Republican Party
Independence Party
Green Party

Kirby Puckett, 1960-2006

Sure, he wasn't a saint; in his personal life, he did make mistakes. But I still get chills watching the end of Game 6 of the '91 Series and hearing Jack Buck say, "And we'll see you tomorrow night!"

Monday, March 06, 2006


Given the South Dakota abortion ban, and Amy Sullivan's call for more religion in the Democratic party, a few questions are going around in my head. I'd like to hear some answers.

Assume that we are talking about two young adults, male and female, who have never had sex. They get married without engaging in pre-marital sex. In other words, two people who are not "immoral" in the eyes of the fundies.

1. These two younguns have always heard the "abstinence until marriage" message, and they have followed it until they married. Now what?

Seriously, now what? Is it okay to start having sex within the bonds of marriage? What if they don't want kids right away; can they use birth control? Or is it their duty to start shooting out kids right away, and doing anything else is wrong? Please note: any answer that includes "natural family planning" will not be considered a serious answer.

2. They have two or three kids, and decide that they can't afford any more, or they don't want any more. Now what?

Can they start using birth control now? Do they have to stop having sex? Whose duty is it to call off the sex? What if the other person doesn't like that? Is it okay to have an affair? How many people would put up with a marriage that had no sex? Is sterilization (tubal ligation or vasectomy) an option?

3. What if there's a mistake? Let's say Alice and Bob are celebrating their anniversary, New Year's, or some other fun event, and they get a little bit tipsy. Things happen as they are wont to do, and even though there are no regrets, they find themselves in a situation where a pregnancy would not be a good thing. Would it be okay to go to a pharmacy and get Plan B? Should they be condemned to Hell for a mistake that countless people make, especially if it is within the confines of a marriage? We're not talking abortion here, just the morning-after pill. Are these immoral people?

These aren't extreme "sodomized virgin" questions. These aren't even the more atypical hypotheticals about incest or rape. These are pretty normal questions that lots of people deal with on a daily basis.

The people who are behind the South Dakota abortion ban, or who want to keep Plan B out of people's hands, are going to answer these questions in a pretty specific way. Their answers are going to be far outside of the mainstream, and they want everybody to live by those answers. That's why it's important to pay attention to things like South Dakota: these extremists want complete control in a way that is horrifying to most people, and they need to know.

Finally, the question of the day: if you were in a fertility clinic that was burning down, and you could save either a two-year old child or a petri dish with five blastulae, which would you save?

Or, if you were at the Casa de Shapiro, and you could save only one of the Virgin Ben's dirty used tube socks, or.....nah, we'll forget about that one.


The governor's plan to protect privacy is a good thing.

Reducing class sizes is not a panacea.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Fun with site searches!

Ahh, Sitemeter. Giving me hours of fun seeing how people get here. Take, for example, the guy in Grand Prairie, Texas, who came here by way of searching for "secret photos of dicks". Uhh, somewhat surprisingly, I am hit number 21 for that.

Must be pretty lonely on the prairie in the suburbs of Dallas.

Katherine Kersten's Korner

Yay! It's time for another kolumn from Katherine Kersten. Today, it's all about how ignorant Americans are about their freedoms. The horror, the horror.

Wingnuttia Level: 4 (Hidden agendas and bending of reality ahead)

Yes, it is pretty sad that lots of people don't know the first thing about the U.S. Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and so forth. Every year, surveys come out that demonstrate how ignorant people are. Jay Leno makes part of his living off of it, I hear. Something needs to be done about it, but Kersten doesn't mention one thing: turning off Fox News. After all, lots of surveys show that people who get most of their news from Fox News are the most ignorant about it. Ditto for programs like Rush Limbaugh. When people listen to the evil, liberal NPR for their news, though, they tend to be a bit less ignorant that Fox News viewers.

Passing over the obligatory potshots at the Profile of Learning (it's dead, get over it), Kersten moves on to ignorance on college campuses. Again, it is true that this a problem. As a fairly regular reader of the Minnesota Daily, the U of M's student paper, it pains me to see that there are real college students who are so stupid they don't know what science is and erroneously think that it applies to Intelligent Design. These people can get into a university? Pathetic. Anyway, Kersten points out that big, evil, liberal universities are so ignorant of the Bill of Rights that they aren't letting students be good little Christians.

Typically, she completely ignores any subtleties and shades of gray in her black-and-white world. Take the University of North Carolina, where "administrators threatened to deny official recognition to the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship because it required its leaders to be Christians." Interfering with the free exercise of religion? Maybe. But should the university grant its blessing of recognition to a group that requires its leaders to be white? To be heterosexual? To be male? To have blue eyes? Universities also have the duty to reach out to all of its students in the quest for knowledge. That means being non-discriminatory. Had the IVC not been officially recognized, no students would have been prevented from being Christian. Officially recognizing exclusionary groups, however, shows that the university is not entirely welcoming. Do these finer points elude Kersten's grasp? Yes, each and every one of them.

I'm getting a bit sick about how conservatives like Kersten argue that Christians are so oppressed in the world. Remember last weekend how there was a front-page story in the Star Tribune about how Christians are evangelizing in the workplace? Yep, I sure do. Remember how many atheists have been elected president? I know that one, too. Yes, it's dangerous that Americans don't understand their freedoms. But the danger is of fundamentalist Christians exerting a greater and greater influence on our public and private lives, something that Kersten herself seems to believe in.


Memo to Patty Wetterling: get better phone lists. I live nowhere near the 6th CD, and yet I received a call from your campaign about attending precinct caucuses. That's not terribly efficient use of resources.

Also, using your recorded voice without announcing it is not nice. In fact, it may not be legal; though I'm not at all sure about that. In any case, nobody likes robo-calls.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


Who else here needs to vomit after reading this about South Dakota's abortion ban?

FRED DE SAM LAZARO: Napoli says most abortions are performed for what he calls "convenience." He insists that exceptions can be made for rape or incest under the provision that protects the mother's life. I asked him for a scenario in which an exception may be invoked.

BILL NAPOLI: A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.

Hell, if she wasn't sodomized "as bad as you can possibly make it", then an abortion is just "convenient", right?

I have a picture of what these people are going to be subject to in Hell, and coincidentally, it is akin to Napoli's little "story".

Via digby


Apparently, Minnesota could lose one of its eight Congressional seats after the next census. We're growing, just not fast enough. Obviously, that is not a good thing.

The only quibble I have with the article is calling Texas "the mother of all red states." Since most of Texas' growth is in its Hispanic population, and they tend to vote Democratic, Texas may not be the mother of all red states for long. In fact, that's precisely why DeLay et al gerrymandered Texas districts; they know which direction the wind is blowing.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Spinning into the stratosphere

MDE can't stop, bringing up more insane rationalizations for the Republican CD brouhaha:

6. Democrats post the contact information of their elected officers! Gasp! What will they do next, post contact information of legislators?

7. The DFL tracks people using publicly available databases! And I'm sure the Republicans have never, ever bought the Secretary of State's voter list.

He does bring up one point: that DFL websites that collect information don't have privacy policies. If they really don't, they should. The issue of privacy should not be partisan.

Want a billion dollars?

Let's say I offered you a proposal: give me a dollar, and I will give you five to seven dollars in return. Would you take me up on it? Unless you are Montgomery Brewster, probably. That's what the state is missing out on by not going after tax cheats. There's a billion dollars not being collected from people who are breaking the law and ignoring their responsibilities, and it's time that we put more effort into collecting it.

Of course, at some point you reach the law of diminishing returns, and nobody wants a bunch of tax thugs shaking people down for their quarters. But we are far from that, and the state can do better.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Katherine Kersten's Korner

It's time for another Katherine Kersten's Korner, and today, she joins the homophobes to ask, why are big bad Democrats afraid of the people?

Wingnuttia level: 10 (She's gonna blow!)

Of course, like a good wingnut, she starts out by saying that Democrats are afraid of people because they don't think it is necessary to vote on an amendment to enshrine discrimination in our state's constitution. Hmm. How about an amendment to ban divorce? Or an amendment to ban interracial marriages? An amendment to bring back slavery? Guess what, Kersten: there are some issues that are so stupid they don't deserve a vote. The ban on gay marriage is one of them.

She attempts to play the victim by saying that opponents of the amendment will paint supporters as "hate-mongers." I don't know; if one wants to put discrimination into the state's constitution, what else are you? Again, if people brought forward a ban on interracial marriages, would they not be correctly described as hate-mongers? What else would they be? What else are the liars who are hell-bent on creating a tempest in a teacup over this issue? Can somebody give me a better description?

Next, she moves on to supposedly fallacious arguments from opponents of the ban. Such as...

"The marriage amendment is unnecessary". Yes, it is. It is already against the law. She says that "activist judges" (read: any judge that doesn't find for the conservative point of view) may challenge it. But nobody in this state is challenging it. In addition, public sentiment is already moving towards acceptance of same-sex unions. I don't know how old Kersten is, but I'm willing to bet she is a member of a generation that doesn't like homosexuals. I, on the other hand, see no problem with same-sex union, nor do most young people. How stupid do we want to look in 20 years? How stupid would Minnesota have looked in the 1960s had we passed a ban on interracial marriage? Or interfaith marriage? Would we look back on that now with pride?

"The marriage amendment is divisive". Uh, yes, it is. There is no organized attempt to get same-sex marriage in Minnesota, as much as Kersten and other wingnuts like to pretend that there is. How many bills have been introduced on this topic in the past ten years? If anything, there may be attempts to treat homosexuals the same as everybody else in terms of civil unions, which is perfectly okay with me. Sure, Kersten may think it's okay for one person in a same-sex relationship to be unable to visit his or her partner in the hospital, or any of the myriad tiny things that married people take for granted, but I'm not okay with that. I guess it's because I'm not an uncaring asshole. So quit pretending that it's the same-sex relationship proponents who are divisive. After all, which side is lying in their radio ads?

"The amendment is discriminatory, a product of unfounded fear and hatred of gays". Again, yes it is. Replace "same-sex" with "interracial", or "interfaith", or relationships with an age difference of more than 10 years. Are those not discriminatory? Is it okay to say that banning so-called "May-December" marriages is not discriminatory? Oh, and nice try with the polygamy stuff. Ban proponents never fail to bring up their absurd beliefs that same-sex marriage will lead to polygamy or marriages with dogs and box turtles. Seriously, this is what they say, and must honestly believe. Am I the only one who is frightened by this?

"The marriage amendment is a cynical political wedge issue, a distraction from issues that people really care about, like schools and housing". Um, yes once again. If this wasn't a wedge issue, then the liars wouldn't be out in force with their ridiculous websites and radio ads. Besides, if Kersten really thought that marriage was "a universal social institution that connects fathers and mothers to their children, and thereby perpetuates the social order", then she would be advocating for a ban on divorce, not a ban on gay marriage. If a few hundred or a few thousand people a year entering into same-sex marriages is damaging to our "social order", then what about the breakup of tens of thousands of marriages?

Kersten brings out the same old arguments about how children need a father and a mother. Yes, that would be great. But it's an insult to every single mother and father who is trying their hardest to raise their children when Kersten says that kids without both will somehow be damaged. Guess what? Life sometimes isn't pretty. Reality gets in the way, at least for those of us who belong to the reality-based community. So it's not always possible for kids to have both a mother and a father. Maybe the father or mother was abusive. Or had substance abuse problems. Or was killed in Iraq. Or was just a bad parent. Kids, with love and support, can prosper even in an environment that doesn't fit Kersten's "Leave it to Beaver" nostalgia. To imply otherwise is disgusting.

Her ending is a real humdinger: "On the one hand are people who think that fundamental social institutions like marriage can be drastically redefined without harm. On the other are people who believe the social order cannot be tinkered with beyond a certain point without risking serious and unintended consequences." Not quite. On the one hand, you have people who realize that life can be difficult, but love and support can and should trump the beliefs of those people who want to go back to a lifestyle that never really existed. On the other hand, you have people who lick their chops at any attempt to divide the public on an issue that will not affect at least 90% of people, if not more, and almost nobody in a negative way.

If Kersten and her ilk could provide one shred of evidence that same-sex marriage actually and provably affects anybody in a negative way, then perhaps they could make arguments that went beyond fear and loathing. But they can't. No matter what they do, they won't be able to produce a person who has been hurt by a same-sex marriage. Conversely, I can provide plenty of people who actually have been hurt by homophobia and discrimination without lifting a finger. Kersten believes that homosexuals simply don't matter. Their lives are unimportant. They are not allowed to have aspirations of simply being treated like everybody else. They don't count. Perhaps she is perfectly fine with these beliefs. I, however, would have a hard time sleeping at night if I thought like this. Life for everybody is hard enough, but especially hard for people who are routinely discriminated against, as members of the LGBT community are. All supporters of the ban want to do is twist the knife a little bit for their pleasure.

Anti-abortion activists gear up for a fight

MCCL is back (not that they ever left), getting ready to fight Doe vs. Gomez, which requires the state to pay for abortions for low-income women as long as they provide other pre-natal services. Emboldened by complete abortion bans in South Dakota and now perhaps Mississippi, they are champing at the bit.

Republicans may want to think about this for a bit. If Roe vs. Wade is overturned, it will be for Republicans what the Civil Rights Act was for Democrats: a watershed event that will drive a huge chunk of the electorate from the party. Do Republicans really want that?

Thou doth protest too much

Gotta love MDE. When it was brought to the attention of the world that the Republican's hate-teh-gay CD is spyware, the excuses and spin started in earnest.

1. Of course the Republicans are going to collect the data; what do you expect?

2. If you don't ask questions, tough luck.

3. Since it was done in open, it can't be secret, moonbats!

4. Some company might be doing something else so you are biased (?)

5. Since it hasn't been released yet, drawing conclusions from the samples handed out by Republicans to spread the word is faulty!

I do have to admire right-wing bloggers: what they lack in quality they make up for in quantity.

It doesn't matter if this isn't illegal (although I do have to wonder about whether there are any laws dealing with the collection of data from children, since this CD could easily fall into a child's hands). It doesn't matter if others have done it. None of this matters. What matters is that it is highly unethical to collect personal information without the consent and knowledge of the spied-upon. All they would have to do is provide some privacy policy or EULA in the very beginning that spells this out. Nobody reads those things anyway, and they would not have had any problems.

Whoever is in charge of this computer dealie for the Republicans should know better than this.

Legislator spills tale

Rep. John Lesch, who went to Iraq last month, shares some of his tale here.