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Tue Dec 02, 2014 at 04:15 PM PST

I work with cops...

by Simul Iustus et Peccator

I am not a cop.  But I work closely with them.  I respect what they do and I see across the board in "my" law enforcement agency smart, hard working, upright, good people.  Society asks a lot of cops and return we give them extraordinary respect, near universal support, life-and-death authority and all sorts of benefits of the doubt.

But I gotta say, they are the most thin skinned, self-important and unself-aware people I will ever run across.

Does the profession attract that personality type or create it?

This past Sunday I dared to speak from the pulpit to the situation in Ferguson and the protests across the country.  The occasion is, in my faith tradition, the 1st Sunday in Advent.  The Gospel for the day from Mark 13:32-37.  Paraphrasing: What sort of shape will the master find his house upon his return?  

Well, the house is in a mess, and we are the caretakers.  Riots in Ferguson, protests across the country, distrust between large segments of our human community and the police, a spate of unarmed black people killed by the police.

We give a lot of respect and support to the police and rightly so but what if we gave at least a second thought to why so many folks are so angry with them?

What if we admit that for most black people, their experiences with the police are far different than our [100% white semi-rural] experiences are?

Yes, Ferguson is in our Master's house.  And there is something wrong there.

Ho-lee shit! Did some people ever get mad.  Two cops, parents of a cop and a friend of a cop and a smattering of others got up and walked out.

No attack on cops, no blanket absolution for rioters.  Just an observation of facts and a couple of questions.

My experience with cops has been pretty positive.  Granted I'm a white guy and I drive like I could teach the AAA 55-Alive class.

But I've seen it -- the demand for absolute 100% butt-kissing respect or else.  

I've made the mistake in my youth of being sarcastic with a cop who pulled me over on my motorcycle, gave me a very expensive ticket for no headlight (it was an old motorcycle) handing it to me like she was doing me a favor and telling me to be more careful to which I replied with a tone, "OK, officer.  I will.  Thank you!"  This set her off pretty badly.

My family recounts the story of when my mom got arrested for giving a jerk of a cop the finger from a block away after he treated her and my dad rudely.  

I've heard cops shriek like three year olds denied a Happy Meal when a civilian mayor dares assert authority over a police force.  If cops are ever given anything less than 100% butt kissing blind and mindless and unquestioning support by a civilian these big strong law enforcement professionals cry about how hard they have it and how much society owes them and maybe they will just stop doing their job and then we'll see how we like that.

"But they have to face dangerous situations!"  Yes, that's their job.  That's why we give them such authority, respect and leeway.  And that is also why society holds them to higher standards than a vigilante group.  Because they are professionals.  It's what they signed on for.  There are rules and laws they must abide by.  And nowhere in the law does it say they are immune to questions or criticism or entitled to butt kissing. If they don't like it then they are in the wrong line of work.

Apparently some of them are in the wrong line of work.

These are professionals who are supposed to confront criminals better than vigilantes would.  To utilize critical thinking skills, to exercise professional restraint (not emotional release).  If they're in it for a power rush they're in the wrong line of work.  If they're too scared to proceed with clarity and safety and common sense they're in the wrong line of work.

We get it!  It's dangerous to confront criminals.  That's why we have professional law enforcement and that's why we give them authority and equipment and leeway.

But knock off the blue line crap.  Out of control cops hurt the profession.  Not FTP videos, not the hands-up-don't-shoot meme, not holding them accountable to civilian oversite.  Pedophile priests and the bishops' cover-ups is what tainted the RC clergy for the next few generations, not the brave souls who dared to speak up.  Likewise, unthinkingly, uncritically, unquestioningly closing ranks on egregiously bad police behavior hurts the police profession.  Indeed, it hurts it worse than violent criminals do.

As long as I'm ranting here's one for the lack of self-awareness:
I've seen union cops, government agents, tasked with enforcing regulations who vote nearly 90% for the party that hates unions, hates government, hates regulations, refuses to outlaw cop killer bullets and establish common sense gun control. Why so many cops are Republicans will never makes sense to me.

Thin skinned, self-important and unself-aware.


Fri Oct 17, 2014 at 12:44 PM PDT

I hate this movie

by Simul Iustus et Peccator

"God's Not Dead" is a bad movie.  Not just a bad movie -- I hated this movie.  I do not speak for all one billion plus Christians, but if I did, I would apologize to all atheists, film editing aficionados, Muslims, women, academics, evolutionary biologists, vegetarians, the script writers' union, Mainline Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox, and anyone capable of more complex thinking than the crap your rwnj uncle constantly forwards to your email that this movie is.

In fact, this whole movie seems to be based on one of those emails.  It even ends in one of those explicitly implied threats that if you don't forward the eye-rape to ten of your closest friends you will be abandoned by God.  You may have been asking yourself why you keep getting texts from acquaintances stating "God's Not Dead."  This movie has one of those duck whistle making scruffy guys tell the audience to send that message out to ten people if you love Jesus.  That texting is why I allowed that horrific, rwnj mythomaniacal load of human excrement to be shown in the church where I am pastor.  [sigh]  Over the jump...

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Thu May 08, 2014 at 10:17 AM PDT

On Killing a Killer

by Simul Iustus et Peccator

A while back I wrote a diary about my friend Doc who is a veterinarian.  A routine part of his job is euthanizing animals.  Being a compassionate and sensitive fellow, this routine is never routine to Doc.  It weighs heavily on him every time he does it.  And he never does it unless it is in the animal's best interest.  In fact, he has lost many clients because he has taken them to task for being too eager to have their animal killed.  And when he does it, he does not sugar coat it.  He calls it what it is, "killing".
Me: "How you doin', Doc?"
Doc: "Shitty.  I killed a dog today."
Me: "What?  What happened?"
Doc: "17 years old, renal failure, couldn't stand anymore."
Me: "But you had to [blah, blah, blah]"
Doc: "I still feel shitty."

As everyone knows, recently Clayton Lockett famously died as a result of what is being called a "botched" execution in Oklahoma.  Apparently the lethal injection cocktail used in the botched execution brought about more suffering in Lockett than was intended. This has sparked (and come on the heels of) much hand wringing about executions in America -- specifically, how governments do it on the behalf of you and me.

Like with many folks out there this event sparked a lot of questions in my mind and it seems like there is little in the way of thoughtful and nuanced discussion with regard to this event.  I'd like to throw out here a couple of victuals to chew on which I think would be helpful to this community when discussing this issue in particular and executions in general.  Doc was helpful with some of the technical stuff.

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A recently enacted policy  by the Minneapolis city council changes Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day.

Last week, Indigenous Peoples Day supporter and Lakota activist Bill Means told Minnesota Public Radio that the story that Christopher Columbus discovered America was "one of the first lies we're told in public education."

He expanded on that idea Friday.

"We discovered Columbus, lost on our shores, sick, destitute, and wrapped in rags. We nourished him to health, and the rest is history," Means told MPR. "He represents the mascot of American colonialism in the western hemisphere. And so it is time that we change a myth of history."

Columbus day always slipped up on me in the form of discovering the mail wasn't running and the bank was closed that day.  Other than that I never really gave it much attention.  But it must stick in the craw of native peoples to have that day memorialized every October.  Good on my home town for doing the right thing.  And I like that it was a unanimous vote.  I could see myself actually looking forward to Indigenous People's Day events even though I'm so white my Dockers come in light tan and dark tan.

MNwiseguy posted a paean to Daylight Saving Time (DST).  It was not widely commented on but those who did weigh in gave very mixed positions on the topic.  
I was just complaining to whomever would listen that DST was no longer necessary and was, in fact, deleterious to my druthers and it ought to be ended.  Then I saw MNwiseguy's post with a completely different view point.  It got me wondering.  
Not intending to take MNwiseguy's thunder I think it ought to be put to a poll.  Please let us know whether DST sucks or rocks and why.


Daylight Saving Time:

57%89 votes
27%43 votes
3%5 votes
2%4 votes
9%14 votes

| 155 votes | Vote | Results


A petty peeve of mine from flyover land:  It's not "Minneapolis St. Paul, MN."  It's "Minneapolis, MN and/or St. Paul, MN" or "Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN."  They may have the nickname of the Twin Cities.  But they are not one and the same.  

The Today show recently aired a segment about some list of healthiest cities.  Minneapolis and/or St. Paul routinely make these and other best of lists.  Which is a point of pride, I admit.

But, please, New York or L.A. media, these two cities may be near each other geographically, They may share the Mississippi river, they may share a common climate and time zone, they may share an international airport and broadcast tv and radio reception.  But they are as different from each other as Boston is different from Seattle.

There are a few other twinned cities in the nation.  I confess I have never been to them so I do not know whether the i.d. lumping bothers them.  If so, please let me know.  We should always honor what people choose to be called.  Dallas-Fort Worth are nearly always called that whenever I hear them mentioned.  Raleigh-Durham are likewise.  Are they one and the same?  I honestly don't know.  Does it irk them to be lumped that way? I don't know.  But I'm here to tell you, Minneapolis is its own city and St. Paul is its own city.  

Currently I live out in the woods because that is where my vocation has led me.  But I am a Minneapolis kid at heart.  In fact, most Minnesotans seem to be either Minneapolis oriented or St. Paul oriented.  Minneapolis has its own suburbs distinct from the St. Paul suburbs.  Out state people either read the St. Paul Pioneer Press or the Minneapolis StarTribune.  People either gravitate to the Minneapolis hospitals or the St. Paul hospitals.  People either shop the Minneapolis stores or the St. Paul stores.  Hipsters either hang out on Grand Avenue if they are St. Paul oriented or Hennepin Avenue if they are Minneapolis oriented.  They are crazy for the Winter Carnival if they are St. Paul oriented or they are Aquatennial goers if they are Minneapolis oriented.  

That's where I'm from, that's where my heart is.  When I was a kid I was a paperboy for the Minneapolis paper.  I was educated in the Minneapolis school system.  I lifeguarded on the Minneapolis lakes.  I enter St. Paul about as often as I get my oil changed.  I enter Minneapolis nearly twice a month.

And I'm telling you, the two cities are different.  Not better or worse (though I am a Minneapolis kid) than each other.  Just different.  It's been said that St. Paul is the last city of the east and Minneapolis is the first city of the west.  If you were to be dropped into the middle of either one you would know the difference immediately.  

The street names have no rhyme or reason in St. Paul.  In Minneapolis they are laid out numerically or alphabetically (or presidentially, for us Northeasters).  And avenues are north-south and streets are east-west in Minneapolis.  In St. Paul there is far less consistency.  It makes it very difficult to find your way around St. Paul if you are not from there.  Address numbers run 001 to 099 along St. Paul streets so you can go several blocks between 2301 Rice Street to 2401 Rice Street.  In Minneapolis the address number resets every block.  Again, making it a lot easier for visitors to navigate.  The streets tend to be narrower in St. Paul and you can park and drive anywhere in any location and direction.  In Minneapolis parking is practically impossible unless you want to take out a small loan and one-way streets are common.

Even the Roman Catholics in St. Paul have their own cathedral while those in Minneapolis have their own basilica.  St. Paul is teeming with small colleges and universities and professional schools.  Minneapolis has the U of M main campus and loads of small ethnic restaurants run by immigrants from all over the planet in every neighborhood with matching theater and acting troupes and art galleries and museums and comedy clubs.

I heard it said that Minneapolis is one great big shopping district with nowhere to park and St. Paul is one big parking lot with nowhere to shop.  But St. Paul has the Capitol and all the accompanying office buildings.

Of course, my Minneapolis orientation comes through in this so I invite a St. Paulite to weigh in.  But my main theme is the Twin Cities are not one and the same.  They are not even twins of each other.

My next diary may be about how Norwegians and Swedes are worlds apart.



I have a close friend who is a veterinarian.  His clinic is across the street from my place of work.  When I am procrastinating I like to walk across the street and visit my friend.  Doc lets me watch him do surgeries and lab work.  He is skilled at every surgery from orthopedics to hysterectomies and castrations to bowel resections and tumorectomies and ophthalmology and oral surgeries.  He does the bulk of his own lab work.  He does radiology and diagnostics and regular check ups and trauma care and dermatology and infectious disease care and on and on and on.  He has one skilled helper who monitors the general anaesthesia and gives injections.  He has one other helper who answers phones and does the prescription filling and clean up of the O.R.

Doc had four years of under grad science and four years of vet school.  And he did an internship for a year.  He is required by law to get many hours of continuing education every year.

He is a highly trained professional in a profession that has a more competitive schooling than human medical schools.  With only one veterinary school in the entire state it takes a lot more oomph to get accepted than it does to get accepted to medical school.

Pooties and woozles and bunnies and horsies are near perfectly analogous to humans.  And yet they each have unique characteristics which affect diagnosis and treatment.

So, if Doc's DVM education is on par with an MD, and Doc's patients are anatomically on par with an MD's patients, why the hell does the price difference in one of Doc's bills vs an MD's bill approach 100 fold?

I have seen Doc, in the course of less than an hour, perform an hysterectomy on a dog (a major operation requiring general anaesthesia), set the patient in a recovery room for a couple of hours and then hand her over to her person with a bill for services rendered of around $240.

Then I get a cough.  It takes 3 hours, two separate locations and about $210 (mostly paid by insurance) to get a little bottle of cough syrup from the people clinic and the pharmacy down the road.

No wonder insurance companies are tight with the purse strings.  The medical establishment are practicing highway robbery.

I call Doc's office because my woozle has a bloody sore on her shoulder.  In 30 minutes my dog is on the exam table and Doc and his helper are doing wound care.  15 minutes later doggie is happily off the table and snuffing around and I am being handed a bottle of prescription antibiotic pills and prescription antibiotic spray.  I go to settle up at the front desk, see the bill for $30, prepare to pay and Doc says it's on the house.

I get an infected bug bite on my leg.  Deciding to tough it out I get a high fever and red lines running all along my leg emanating from the bite.  So I call the clinic and they direct me to the ER.  I sit there for about an hour after being interviewed by two different people regarding my ability to pay.  Then I am directed to a room where I sit for another hour.  Finally a physician's assistant comes in, takes a look, tells me I have cellulitis and I need a prescription for antibiotics.  She tells me to wait there while she gets me the paper work.  So I sit for another 40 minutes waiting for my paper work.  Then I go to the pharmacy, pay the co-pay, and finally get the pills.  A month later I get the insurance statement detailing the costs and what is covered and what I owe.  I have great insurance coverage so I owe very little.  But the insurance company paid out several hundreds of dollars.  Plus it took about 4 hours and I had to go through about 6 different people (none of them MDs).

I am certain plenty of people out there have similar stories.  I am blessed to have health insurance.  And it is a good thing too.  Because if I was paying cash I'd have been taking huge hits for a bottle of cough syrup and a bottle of pills.

I have lots of family who are MDs and RNs and nurse practitioners.  They are deserving of the healthy pay they get.  But holy fucking shit if the medical industry does not gouge people who are at their mercy.  The medical industry...Charges.  Too.  Much.  

All the hullabaloo around healthcare coverage these past years and I never hear it talked about.  Time magazine finally broke the silence a couple months back by asking the question (remember the PayMaster story?).  But there has been nothing ever since.

The medical industry is important but they are too self-important.  They, like the insurers have lobbied congress to get sweet deal laws on the books at the public's expense too.  Requiring a prescription for cough syrup that has as much chance of being addictive as that useless over the counter stuff?  I should have gotten the stuff in 10 minutes for about 6 bucks.  Instead it took 3 hours and my insurance company paid them $210.  

I recognize it will cost more to treat a human than an animal because we put the animal in a cage after surgery rather than a recovery room and because Doc blasts the blues on his stereo but the hospital and clinic pipes in nice elevator music.  Could that account for a cost difference of triple or quadruple?  Maybe.  But why would it be 100 times as much?  A hysterectomy for $240 anyone?  $2,400?  It'll run a human patient $24,000 easily after all is said and done.

I visit all the hospitals in the area as part of my work.  It is rare that a hospital is not undergoing some major renovation and expansion.  It is near constant.  I like a nice clean and pretty hospital too.  But do they really need a major renovation annually?

In the affordable healthcare debate, the insurance companies have done a lot to deserve criticism.  But the medical industry owns a huge amount of blame for millions of people not getting the healthcare they need too.


[Full disclosure: I am Lutheran (ELCA)]
Everyone and their grandma knows that mainline liberal Protestant denominations are going the way of newspapers.  Right?  Demographic trends show mega-church versions of "Evangelical" (Trademark) congregations and RC and even unaffiliated agnosticism and atheism are on the rise and stealing our sheep left and right.  Right?  

Mainline liberal Protestant denominations and their constitutive congregations are little more than neo-gothic necropolises or are on life-support and all this points to the wimpering death throws of a failed experiment.  Mainline liberal Protestant Christianity is viewed with contempt by secular liberals as magical-thinking dupes who are irrelevant and ineffective and that explains our anemic numbers because smart people have finally caught on.  And we are viewed as the Whores of Babylon by the right-winger christianist Taliban and that explains how God has abandoned us to go extinct.  Even within my own denomination and congregation I hear rueful moaning about the numbers and so we make cartoonish outreach efforts to increase our appeal among an increasingly non-white demographic.  I mean we Scandinavian-Americans just ain't reproducing like we used to.  But what if the premise of the schadenfreude among the secularists and the christianists and the fear among ourselves is missing an important piece of reality?   The August 7 edition of The Christian Century has a blurb from the June/July edition of First Things making the outrageous but compelling claim that liberal Protestantism has and is winning the culture war.

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I have marveled at the seeming diversity of traditions and backgrounds represented within the Daily Kos community.  And I seem to remember a few years back someone did a series of non-scientific demographic polling including income levels, education levels, gender and age among other categories.  I don't recall whether there was a "religion" poll.

So I'm going to throw one out there with apologies since I could never include all the categories that are represented without getting unduly long.  So I'll keep a great big fat "other" in there too and encourage people to write a bit more about it responses.


Which is the closest description of how you self-identitfy your faith identity?

28%18 votes
22%14 votes
7%5 votes
1%1 votes
11%7 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
3%2 votes
3%2 votes
1%1 votes
1%1 votes
1%1 votes
0%0 votes
0%0 votes
17%11 votes

| 63 votes | Vote | Results


Mon Apr 29, 2013 at 06:12 AM PDT

Where's jbou?

by Simul Iustus et Peccator

Quite likely not a legit diary but I don't know how else to get this info.

I have missed jbou since his last diary on April 18.  So I got a little concerned for his welfare and looked around his profile for a way to contact him.  Then I see he's been banned.  Anyone know why?

Sure he's offensive and that is in large part why he's so funny.  But I gotta know, what could have caused him to be banned?

And I must admit a bit of relief that his absence is due to banning.  Better than just disappearing.



Actually, this is in praise of Mike Rice's apology.

A rare thing, an apology.  I mean a real apology.  An act of real and true contrition.  Not excuse making.  Not a thinly veiled insult at those cry-babies who are hyper-sensitive.  Not a passive "mistakes were made" shrug.  Not a diversionary attack on the person who called him on his trangression.

I truly believe a real, genuine, contrite apology is as rare as forgiveness.  Rarer, actually.

And that coach (nay, former coach) delivered.

Now, I am not a sports fan.  I had never even heard of the guy before yesterday.  I saw excerpts of the video showing his abusive behavior and I was appalled and angry.  I wanted that guy to suffer for his behavior.  I had cooked up all sorts of names and labels for him that reduced his humanity and mitigated my ungracious opinion.  

The first I heard of the incident was a diary on DailyKos showing a clip of the John Stewart show taking apart Sean Hannity and FoxNews for being apoplectic about the "liberal media" being on a witch hunt about the poor guy.  So I was already in the mood to castigate the coach as another hateful rightwing media darling.  And then this morning I saw the guy standing in front of the cameras.  Apologizing.

How often, in personal relationships, in private interactions, in public displays does a person witness honest, sincere, wholehearted apologizing?  

Not, "I'm sorry, but (insert reason why said action or words were actually the right thing)".  

I know people still want to make this guy hurt.  He was repeatedly physically and verbally abusive to boys under his direction which makes his wrongs that much more awful.  But that apology was good.  

I hope every human being could do that.  It is a great big stick in the spokes of the brokeness cycle.



Sun Feb 17, 2013 at 02:07 PM PST

Kossack orthodoxy

by Simul Iustus et Peccator

Help me understand this, please.  Because I honestly want information.  Immigration issues are one of the political issues I have no knowledge about. Given that a person can not be well versed in everything, I have nearly no opinion on the matter.  I don't know any undocumented immigrants, I live in rural Minnesota with hardly any first generation immigrants of any kind nearby.  It is simply an issue I have not educated myself about.  But I do know that this site seems universally to endorse the blanket amnesty of all undocumented immigrants. Why?

Is it compassion for those less fortunate?  If so that is a noble and laudible position.  Or is it a belief that immigration laws should be rescinded like marijuana laws should be rescinded?  That the law is the problem, not the act itself?  If so, that is a reasonable and practical position.

Honestly, what is it?  We keep reading stories about nice people who have broken the immigration laws.  I never hear anyone give a reason for why those laws are to be ignored...if that is what is being endorsed on this site.

Is there any reason why immigration laws ought to exist?  Or are they just bad laws?

I seriously have no agenda here.  But it occured to me when my kids asked my opinion of it that laws have been broken and the people and politicians I typically agree with seem to feel that is ok.  But I have my doubts.

Of course a Sunday afternoon diary will disappear quickly, but I am hoping a few well informed folks could help me out here.

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