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Saturday, March 20, 2004

Too Stupid to Win!

As usual - the DFL's worst enemy is ...... the DFL. The Minnesota GOP is promoting the Anti-Gay Activists Monday rally in this issue - but they get so much more mileage from the idiocy from the Minnesota DFL.

Letters to the editor in the Star Tribune on this topic are pretty overwhelmingly negative.

From the Minnesota GOP Newsline......

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CONTENTS:
1. DFL ATTACK AD ON GOVERNOR PAWLENTY BACKFIRES
4. MINNESOTA FOR MARRIAGE RALLY MONDAY, MARCH 22

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1. DFL ATTACK AD ON GOVERNOR PAWLENTY BACKFIRES

The DFL Party is finding out that voters tend to prefer taking their elections one at a time, and in sequence. That would explain the backlash the DFL is getting with their new TV ad that attacks Governor Pawlenty on the issue of sexual predators, claiming the Governor is responsible for setting loose scores of these criminals.

The ad is so outrageous that even some Democrats are blasting DFL Chair Mike Erlandson for airing it. DFL State Senator John Marty wrote Erlandson, saying “I am ashamed to see my party produce a mean-spirited attack ad that is no better than the infamous Willie Horton ad. Political consultants may think such an ad is clever. I think it is sick.”

After seeing the ad, liberal Star Tribune columnist Doug Grow noted that the DFL appears to be “losing grip with reality.”

For the full Doug Grow column “Is DFL Losing Grip on Reality?”, visit:
http://www.startribune.com/stories/465/4670634.html

University of Minnesota Political Science professor Larry Jacobs pointed out the DFL’s error in airing the ad saying, “The DFL is seriously lacking in strategic intelligence. This is Exhibit G.”

Questions abound regarding DFL Attorney General Mike Hatch’s role in the ad. The Star Tribune reported Wednesday that in the last year Hatch has donated $41,000 to the DFL Party. Before 2003, he donated practically nothing. Observers noted that it appears that Hatch may be funneling money to the DFL for the sole purpose of attacking Governor Pawlenty, once again displaying his boundless political ambition.

The new DFL attack ad is yet another example of their willingness (even preference) to engage in gutter politics. Last Friday, they sent out an “Action Alert” calling the President and Republicans “thugs” who are “lying, cheating, and misleading the public.” And that was just in the first sentence.

In less than one week, DFL Party officials have brought the level of political discourse in Minnesota to an all-new shameful low. And, unfortunately, it looks like gutter politics is what Minnesotans can expect from the Democrats and the Kerry campaign for the remainder of the election.

Nevertheless, it’s time for the DFL to, first, stop hyperventilating and, second, heed Senator Marty’s call to take the DFL’s universally repudiated TV ad off the air immediately and renounce their mean-spirited, extreme rhetoric and engage in an issue-based, constructive debate.


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EY: Ofcourse neither party seems to engage in "issue-based, constructive debate".

4. MINNESOTA FOR MARRIAGE RALLY MONDAY, MARCH 22

There is a Minnesota for Marriage Rally at the Capitol on Monday, March 22. The Minnesota Family Council is organizing the rally to promote traditional marriage. You can find information on the rally at the following link.

http://www.mnvoter.com/

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EY: The Minnesota Republican Party continues to support Anti-Gay Bigot Rallies.

Log Cabin Responds to Anti-Gay Actions by the Bush Administration Office of Special Counsel

From: "Christopher Barron"
To: "Christopher Barron"
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 2:34 PM
Subject: Press release: Log Cabin Responds to Actions by
Office of Special Counsel


Log Cabin Republicans News Release

For Immediate Release
Contact: Christopher Barron
Log Cabin Republicans Public Affairs
(202) 347-5306

Log Cabin Republicans Call on Bush Administration to Honor 2000 Campaign Promise to Protect Gay and Lesbian Federal Employees from Discrimination Promise Key to Log Cabin Endorsement in 2000
March 18, 2004

(Washington, DC)-Log Cabin Republicans have called on the Bush administration to follow 30 years of clear precedent and continue protecting federal employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
In a letter dated March 18, 2004, Log Cabin calls on Scott Bloch, Special Counsel, to stop the rollback of protections for federal employees. "The action by the Special Counsel constitutes a dramatic rollback of basic protections. It's a sad day when we see protections taken away that have been guaranteed since the mid 1970s. We call on Mr. Bloch today to immediately restore protections for gay and lesbian federal employees," said
Log Cabin Executive Director Patrick Guerriero.

Bloch has ordered the removal of any references to sexual orientation discrimination from the Office of Special Counsel's website and printed materials. According to a letter from the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, signed by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), this directly contradicts the pledge he made during his Senate confirmation hearing.

Mr. Bloch claims that the statute, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of conduct, is unclear. Bloch's claim is baseless and ignores 30 years of precedent. Since 1974, federal law (5 U.S.C. § 2302(b)(10)) has been interpreted to prohibit discrimination against federal employees on the basis of sexual orientation. While containing no specific reference to sexual orientation, the statute has been uniformly interpreted to prohibit discrimination. In fact, current Solicitor General Theodore Olsen, an appointee of President Bush, concluded more than 20 years ago that, "it is improper to deny employment to or to terminate anyone on the basis of sexual
preference or conduct that does not adversely affect job performance."

"Rolling back more than 30 years of protections for gay and lesbian employees is unacceptable, and would represent a clear repudiation of conservative principles. Men and women seeking to serve the American people through service to the federal government should be judged by their ability, not by their sexual orientation," continued Guerriero.

The decision by the Office of Special Counsel marks a clear breach of a specific promise made to the Log Cabin Republicans by the Bush campaign during the 2000 election. "As part of Log Cabin's decision to endorse Bush, the campaign pledged to Log Cabin that non-discrimination policies for federal employees would be respected. Log Cabin would not have endorsed Bush without this promise. We ask the Bush Administration to remain true to
their word," continued Guerriero.

Log Cabin Republicans call on Mr. Bloch to pledge his support for 30 years of precedent in this area. We call on him to respect the principles of fairness and equality that are the basic building blocks of American society. Log Cabin expects that Mr. Bloch will protect gay and lesbian employees from workplace discrimination, and that all information regarding discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation will be restored to all of the Office of Special Counsel's published and electronic information.


###

Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest organization of Republicans who support fairness, freedom, and equality for gay and lesbian Americans. Log Cabin has state and local chapters nationwide, a full-time Washington office and a federal political action committee.

Christopher R. Barron
Political Director
Log Cabin Republicans
1607 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20009
202 347-5306 (0)
202 347-5224 (f)
202 297-9807 (m)

=========================================================
This Bush employee explicitly lied to congress on this score.

This goes to the credibility of the Bush administration.

Andrew Sullivan: Bush Administration Lied to him

The Bush administration, for its part, has now come out of its own closet. It's in the forefront of attacks on gays, with Karl Rove leading the brigades, urging activists to keep up the pressure on writing anti-gay discrimination into the constitution itself. During the internal debate on the constitutional amendment, gay Republicans were shut out completely. The administration is also busily reneging on its promise not to roll back federal protections for gay government employees. No one can spin this attack on gay employees as a response to "judicial activism." It's pure animus, directed and supported by the fundamentalist right. I have to say that I have been culpably naive about this administration on this issue. They led me to believe they weren't hostile to gay people, that they would not use anti-gay sentiment to gain votes, that they would not roll back very basic protections for gay federal employees. I was lied to. We were all lied to. But now we know.


EY: The article Sullivan references about Karl Rove describes a meeting Rove had with a "small group of conservative activists." From the article:

He also said the gay marriage issue is beginning to help Bush, because polls are starting to shift in Bush's direction, with more people opposed to same-sex unions. But Rove implored the activists to add their voices to Bush's call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to ensure that Bush is not perceived as standing alone on the issue.


I find this rather interesting. If this was indeed helping Bush - as Rove claimed, then why the plea to make sure Bush doesn't look like he is standing alone on this issue. The article continues:

And he expressed irritation that some disgruntled Republicans in Congress and elsewhere have increasingly chosen to go to the news media to air their complaints, rather than bringing them directly to the White House.


That's obvious - the only way to make this Whitehouse pay attention is to communicate through the media.




Minnesota Family Council Source of Anti-Gay Emails

A while back I posted a letter from a Minneapolis State Legislator about a deluge of emails she received about the anti-gay Bachmann Holberg amendment. Another legislator commented anonymously on Lloydletta's blog that they also had received these emails - and found the tactic "effective".

At the time, I checked the MFC website - and at that time, I did not find a link on the MFC site that sent mass email to the full legislature. Now that has changed. The MFC now hosts a web form that will send email to the entire legislature. This web form allows the visitor to put their own text into the form. From the form:

Instructions

Use the form below to send your e-mail to ALL Minnesota legislators. Please note, a few legislators do not accept regular e-mail and are not included.

Please fill out all fields on this form, then click the "Compose Email" button below. We urge you to fill out all fields, for purposes of identification and so that your letter will be seen as a legitimate expression of your opinion.

You will then be given a chance to review your final letter before sending it.


Outfront Minnesota mentions these emails to the legislature in a recent action alert.

Part of the flood of opposition contacts are just blanket e-mail blasts going to every member of the entire House at once ? outside of a committee vote, members are much more likely to listen to their own constituents than to those who are not.




Friday, March 19, 2004

Anti-gay Bigot Republican Senator Whines about Log Cabin Republicans Ad

According to the Leviticus Crowd Agape Press (American Family Association).

Senator Says LCR Puts Homosexual Agenda Before GOP Welfare

By Bill Fancher and Jenni Parker
March 16, 2004

(AgapePress) - A high-profile Republican Senator is accusing a homosexual Republican group of jeopardizing the party's re-election chances.

The Log Cabin Republicans (LCR) recently began running a series of advertisements critical of President Bush's support of a constitutional amendment banning homosexual marriage. The Republican homosexual rights group has already been lobbying to discourage support for the amendment among Republican officeholders, and on March 10 LCR launched an ambitious national campaign to stop the passage of what it calls "an anti-family Constitutional amendment."

While the LCR claim they are working for a better Republican Party and a better country, Kansas senator Sam Brownback feels their actions are hurting the party they claim to support. He feels the group's differing opinions about the Federal Marriage Amendment should be kept within the GOP family.


Then why isn't Brownback also criticizing Republicans who criticize the President on Immigration policy? Shouldn't that be kept within the GOP family? What about the regular drumbeat of bleating and whining by the Family Research Council on this subject.

Last month Brownback commended President Bush for his stand what the senator called "his bold and principled stand in support of a constitutional amendment protecting marriage.” He went on to say that he was looking forward to working closely with Bush to enact this important piece of legislation. "Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman," he declared, adding, "Protecting marriage is essential to the long term health of our families and culture.”

However, the LCR very publicly disagree, claiming an amendment banning "homosexual marriage" would turn back the clock on homosexuals' civil rights. LCR Executive Director Patrick Guerriero says the religious right wanted a culture war and the LCR's national anti-amendment advertising campaign is their way of fighting back.

"We have launched this unprecedented campaign effort because the exclusion and discrimination embodied in this amendment violates the principles upon which the Republican Party is founded," Guerriero says.


Good for Patrick Guerriero!

The LCR began in California 27 years ago, created to fight against the Briggs Initiative, a ballot measure that would have prevented homosexuals from being public school teachers in California. The first Log Cabin activists enlisted the help of Ronald Reagan, who publicly opposed the initiative, and they succeeded in defeating it. The group has since grown into a leading agitator for "homosexual civil rights."

Along with its growing national base, the LCR maintain an experienced political staff in Washington, DC, and boasts, "We may not win every fight in Washington, but our voice will not go unheard." The group works within the Republican Party to advocate "a more inclusive GOP" and to press homosexual equality issues, but also concentrates on building alliances within the larger homosexual community as well.

The Log Cabin group apparently has no qualms about crossing party lines to form these alliances, notwithstanding Senator Brownback's concerns for GOP solidarity. In explaining its purpose and objectives, the group notes on its website, "Despite our political differences with those on the left, some of the issues at stake are too important to let petty partisanship impede real progress."

Brownback, who is a cosponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment in the Senate, says he knows the Democrats will try to exploit this division within the Republican Party, which he feels would almost certainly damage George W. Bush's re-election chances.


EY: The Democrats would have to be stupid not to exploit this issue. This issue works as a wedge within both parties. It's interesting that Brownback essentially says that FMA support will damage George Bush's chances at reelection. I agree - it will hurt Bush more than help him.

In my opinion, Brownback's statements are showing that LCR's ad campaign is successful - and suggests that people ought to contribute to it.

The only way to stop anti-gay campaign tactics is to make sure they are costly to those engaging them. This LCR ad campaign in my opinion does that.

Another USA Queers list member commented:

I generally don't get into the LCR/Democrat GLBT debate because I think its silly (I respect your right to be a Republican) but this story I came across kinda makes me sick.

How can you support a party who's members tell you to sit down and shut up about your rights for "the good of the party"?


My response: I'm not speaking for LCR - but LCR doesn't take orders from Senator Brownback. In fact, Brownback just helps LCR get more attention.

It wasn't LCR that advised Bush to declare war on the Gay community. Gay Republicans aren't planning on sitting back and taking it. Clearly the ad campaign shows that.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Onward Christian Soldiers

Whiskey Bar blog on Baptists looking for martyrdome in Iraq. Money quote:


For the Bush White House, this is simply an extension of the 'faith-based" pork barrel to foreign shores -- yet another way to cultivate the Christian conservatives. And it appears the short-term political advantages of pandering to the base outweigh the long-term damage the missionaries are doing to the administration's alleged goal of stabilizing and pacifying Iraq. By their works ye shall know them.

But this raises an interesting question: What will the administration do when the formal occupation ends at mid year? Presumably, the new Iraqi government (whoever it might be) isn't going to want a bunch of Christian zealots running around the country, stirring up trouble and getting themselves shot. Will the Rovians try to buy a little breathing room -- a grace period, so to speak -- for the missionaries to remain in Iraq until after the election is over? And what will they offer the Iraqis in return?

This could result in some elaborate negotiations. But if I were the Baptist high command, I wouldn't plan on sending any more foot soldiers to Iraq after November 2. Which is probably just as well -- the world doesn't need any more religious martyrs.


Bush the FlipFlopper

Steve Chapman from the Chicago Tribune elaborates.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Planetarium, Stadium Boondoggles, Transit and Library Funding

I'm glad the Mayor posted about the Planetarium. The talking points on the subject are valuable. I still wonder about his priorities though since he gets quoted in the Strib supporting Pawlenty's stadium boondoggle.

At 09:32 AM 3/17/2004, Rybak, R.T. wrote:


Eva Young posted about the importance of the Plaetarium.
I agree, which is why I've testified twice in the past few weeks about it at the Legislature. I told them, and the Governor, that is Minneapolis' number one bonding proposal, and I was happy to deliver the Governor a letter saying that all Minneapolis Senators and Representatives are now in full support....We also have a wide collection of cosponsors, including many Republicans from around the suburbs and Greater Minnesota. I also also trying to recruit private contributors to raise the private dollars necessary to make this work.


Ok - but why not also say this is higher priority than a state and locally subsidized Stadium - and criticize the Governor for misplaced priorities? Mayor Rybak, when you ran for office you criticized your opponents for supporting stadium subsidies. Many of your supporters supported you over Incumbent Sharon Sayles Belton for that reason. Why are you now getting quoted in the press supporting a stadium plan that uses a TIF financing mechanism? That's not what TIF financing is designed for. Saying this is no new taxes is disingenuous at best - since other property taxpayers will pay more to subsidize some billionaires not paying their fair share. Wouldn't it be nice for all of us to be able to earmark any sales taxes we pay to go towards our mortgages.

As far as Pawlenty's claim that if the stadiums aren't here (paid for by the taxpayers) people wouldn't have anything to do. That's ludicrous and suggests the Governor has very little imagination. There are many parks to visit, theaters and concerts to attend, sports leagues to participate in.

And heck - I can't go to my local library Pierre Bottineau on a Saturday any more - but Mayor Rybak wants to give a government subsidy to a Twins stadium?

Meanwhile there is one easy cut to the Governor's bonding proposal. Cut the proposed funding for Urban Ventures Leadership Foundations Colin Powell Youth Center.

Rybak gets called out on Planetarium

My post on Minneapolis Issues called out the mayor. He posted on the list today:

Eva Young posted about the importance of the Planetarium.
I agree, which is why I've testified twice in the past few weeks about it at the Legislature. I told them, and the Governor, that is Minneapolis' number one bonding proposal, and I was happy to deliver the Governor a letter saying that all Minneapolis Senators and Representatives are now in full support....We also have a wide collection of cosponsors, including many Republicans from around the suburbs and
Greater Minnesota. I also also trying to recruit private contributors to raise the private dollars necessary to make this work.
We have the best chance in years to get this, thanks to many people (esp. Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher!)so anything people can to do encourage non Minneapolis legislators would be great....
Remind them of a couple points:
@ 90% of the visits to the Planetarium were from outside of Minneapolis.
@ the Planetarium has a history of inspiring children from around Minnesota to understand space. One example is a young 12 year old from Willmar whose trip to the Minneapolis Planetarium inspired him to learn about out the skies. His name is Pinky Nelson. This history will continue as it is incorporated into a partnership with the six planetariums around the state.
@ building this now can save the state significant resources because it is being incorporated into the Central Library. This means the Planetarium does not have to absorb land costs, constructing building systems (heating/air/elevators/etc), parking costs...All they have to do is build out the shell and do programming. This should not only cut cost of construction but also operating.

A call would be very helpful to legislators from outside of Minneapolis and whoever your Minneapolis rep. is, thank that person because they are all on board.

R.T. Rybak

Misplaced Priorities by Mayor RT Rybak - Stadiums Over Transit and Planetarium

I posted the following to Minneapolis Issues.......

At 10:54 AM 3/16/2004, Laura Waterman Wittstock wrote:
David Strom: "We need to find a way to help low-income workers become less dependent upon government-run transportation, opening up to them the thousands of jobs available around the Twin Cities. Who among the working poor wouldn't rather have a car than depend upon the government to provide their transportation?"

On Tuesday, March 16, 2004, at 09:41 AM, Dan McGuire wrote:

David Strom should scare the livin daylights out of everyone living in Minneapolis. He and those creating this bus shut-down are very clearly willing and eager to see the transit system scuttled.

Strom's statement is probably one of the more absurd opinions we are going to see in a decade. It is quite clear that Mr. Strom has no idea what it means to be poor and have to balance the priorities of shelter, food, clothing, and nurturing. Some poor live in their cars but that is not possible in Minnesota in the winter. Gas is now what, $1.80 a gallon? Add the cost of the car, the maintenance, the insurance, and the percent that takes of a monthly budget for a family of four making $25,000 ($21,249.96 net of taxes) a year is 20%! ($144 for gas, $120 for car payment, $75 for insurance, $11 for maintenance).

Typically for the poor, rent is the biggest item, taking up to 40% of the month's income. Then utilities and food account for another 40%. That puts the choice of a car between clothing and nurturing. One accident. A snow tow. A couple of tickets. Some flat tires. These all spell ruin for the family.

I won't even go into the "thousands of jobs" he is speaking about. Try spending an eight hour shift in a factory that fries potato chips all day or extracts hazardous materials from computers.

Strom is living far, far from reality.

EY: Not to mention people who visit the city or who go to college in the city also like to use the bus system. When I went to Macalester, most students did not have cars. And the college certainly doesn't want all students to have cars.

One reason I really enjoyed my visit to London last summer, and my visit to Kyoto, Japan two years ago is that both of these cities had excellent public transportation systems. Minneapolis is sadly quite behind the curve here.

I also find it offensive that Mayor Rybak uses his bully pulpit to praise Pawlenty's stadium plan which funds the stadiums through TIF financing. What that's equivalent to is saying to a preferred city homeowner - ok - we really want you to live in the city, so we will allow you to apply your property tax towards your mortgage payment.

Why isn't Mayor Rybak working with the same amount of zeal to get the Planetarium through the legislature? This is something many suburban parents would want. I remember well field trips to the Milwaukee Horticultural Gardens (three domes) and the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry when I went to the Madison Public Schools. Kids in the area deserve to have similar experiences visiting the Planetarium.

Also - why isn't Rybak challenging Pawlenty to come to the table and bargain in good faith with the Transit workers union. Negotiating through the media is not a good way to build long term good worker moral - and therefore good customer service. Why isn't Rybak putting his mayoral muscle into getting better mass transit funding to metro transit?

As far as stadiums improving the quality of life in Minneapolis - how? The only people who seem to want them are the fans and the team owners. Why not let the team owners pay for the stadiums.

I wonder if the timing of this strike - and that it looks like the Met Council baited the unions into striking - rather than working under the old contract - was a way to intentionally try to delay the light rail implementation. There are so many "we don't want no choo choo trains" fanatics who populate Republican caucuses - that there isn't much sensible discussion of transportation policy from that crowd - and that crowd was the crowd that endorsed Pawlenty - after he went far right on all their pet issues - including transit and light rail.

I wish Arne Carlson were back in the Governor's seat.

I'd suggest that while Strom is in New York City he do a tour of the city using the subway system.

Scott Dibble on Anti-gay State Constitutional Amendment

Dear Eva,

Thanks for getting in touch about the recent announcement by right wing extremists in the legislature that they intend to push a constitutional amendment that would prohibit marriage for same sex couples.


I intend to spend as much time and energy as is necessary to defeat this mean-spirited and divisive effort. To use the constitution in a way that would limit rights and divide people from each other is un-American and un-Minnesotan.

Minnesotans understand what it means to be fair. Allowing people to take responsibility for themselves and their families by providing healthcare, ensuring inheritance, allowing for hospital visitation ­ all of the rights, responsibilities and commitments that constitute building a life together, is just fair. Minnesotans know that strong, healthy families make strong, healthy communities.

This is an aggressive attempt to turn some Minnesotans into second class citizens. In fact, it is hard to believe that some would use our state’s constitution to enshrine discrimination. Wasting time and political energy on small-minded initiatives like this, when we face such enormous challenges to our budget, education, healthcare, transportation, the environment, state and national security, is to disregard the true reasons we are elected to serve.

I also know that Minnesotans will come to see this effort as a pathetic and transparent attempt to distract people from the failed economic and security policies of the far right neo-conservatives. It is an issue that has been grabbed in a cynical attempt to boost turnout among extremists in the upcoming elections.

On a positive note, I know that this is an issue whose time has come. We will win in the end. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice."

Your voice and energy will be crucial in successfully defeating this at the legislature in order to prevent its appearance on the ballot this fall. I look forward to working with you.

Very truly yours,
Scott Dibble

EY: Ann DeGroot of OutFront Minnesota keeps on characterising this as a "neoconservative" attempt. It is not - this is bigotry - pure and simple. There's nothing conservative about bigotry.

Vatican Joins Islamic States at U.N.; Polygamy OK, Gay Unions Anathema.

From the Independent Gay Forum.....

Another example of religious corruption on a grand scale. A bloc of more than 50 Islamic states, backed by the Vatican, is seeking to halt U.N. efforts to extend spousal benefits to partners of gay employees from countries where such benefits are provided, such as Belgium and the Netherlands. But get this: "The United Nations has recognized polygamy, a common practice in the Islamic world, as a legitimate form of marriage and permits employees to divide their benefits among more than one wife," says the Washington Post. Which, apparently, is just fine with the Vatican.

EY: Exactly. Why isn't the Vatican pushing to stop the UN from offering benefits to polygamists?