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Friday, December 30, 2005

DFL Blog on Zimmermann Mentions "Personal Rapid Transit" (PRT).

DFL Blog rings in the new year with this thought:

"One wonderful thing about 2006 is that Dean Zimmermann will no longer be on the Minneapolis City Council...."

The DFL blog post mentions Zimmermann's promotion of PRT and also mentions Michele Bachmann's support for PRT.

Does this signal a change in DFL policy on Personal Rapid Transit?

DFLers at the state and local levels have voted for PRT. The progressive think tank, Institute for Local Reliance (ILSR) and its head David Morris still promotes PRT and opposes rail transit. David Morris is a regular on the local Air America talk radio station.

PRT, like other gadgetbahn schemes is a stalking horse for right-wing and libertarian anti-transit groups here and in other cities. There are ties between groups like Seattle's CETA (Coalition for Effective Transportation) and Twin Cities PRT proponents. PRT is more about stopping light rail and commuter rail projects. Some of these anti-transit gadgetbahn groups receive funding from the auto, highway and oil industries who have an interest in stopping transit initiatives.

The recent special elections in Saint Cloud have demonstrated that Northstar is very popular in the northern metro. The DFL has a good chance to win in 16b next year. DFL-endorsed Jim Huhtala is a strong supporter of Northstar and LRT. Representative Mark Olson, like his pod-partner Dean Zimmermann has been a tireless promoter of PRT and an opponent of LRT and Northstar for years.

DFLers needs to listen to responsible transit groups like Transit for Livable Communities that has a resolution opposing public funding of PRT projects. The DFL leadership should make sure that DFL legislators never again lend their names to PRT bills like Senator Mee Moua and Senator Yvonne Prettner-Solon did the last couple of years.

If the DFL is smart, they will hang the PRT/gadgetbahn albatross around the necks of Representative Mark Olson, Senator Michele Bachmann and other right-wing Republicans foolish enough to continue supporting it.

Learn more about the PRT scam at the PRT is a Joke web site.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Rebecca Otto's Record on the Bachmann Amendment

I got this in email from a reader:

You indicated that, "As a legislator, Otto was the only House Democrat to vote in favor of putting the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on the ballot." I checked with her, and found that this is not true. What gives?

This was referring to this post, where I talked about Politics in Minnesota (PIM) picking up on a post here and on Dump Bachmann here, discussing Rick Stafford - Chair of the DNC LGBT Caucus - endorsing Rebecca Otto. I was quoting from Politics in Minnesota (generally I indent material when I'm quoting from someone else here.) Before I quoted Politics in Minnesota, I said: "From this week's Politics in Minnesota".

After I quoted PIM, I added my two cents (so I'm quoting from an earlier Lloydletta post here):

Otto was the only house democrat to lose. She was joined by many other house democrats in her vote on the Bachmann amendment, including Al Juhnke, Mary Jane Otremba, Bev Scalze and Denise Dieterich. None of the house democrats who voted against the Bachmann amendment lost. Even though Al Juhnke voted FOR the Bachmann amendment, the Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage still used billboard ads to attack Al Juhnke as supporting gay marriage.

I should have made the point that Otto was the only Minnesota house democrat to lose in 2004. Otherwise, I stand by what I wrote above.

It will be interesting to see if DFL congressional candidate Elwyn Tinklenberg pays attention to the recent win in St Cloud. Both Tarryl Clark and Larry Hawes were on record as opposed to the Bachmann amendment. Their opponents tried to make the Bachmann amendment a campaign issue and it didn't work for them. Tinklenberg made a point of saying that he supported the Federal Marriage Amendment at his campaign announcement speech.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

52% Votes Reported, Tarryl Clark Has Comfortable Lead Over Dan Ochsner

Focusing on abortion and gay marriage aren't enough of a strategy to get a win. Results here. Tarryl is leading by over 900 votes at this time.

Matt Abe isn't too happy about the Eck Wreck.

It seems that the only things that will get Minnesota Republicans, from the party leadership at the state and BPOUs to the grassroots, serious about winning elections is a Democrat governor and a DFL-controlled House and Senate.

Read Ramsey County Judge George T. Stephenson's "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" from last Friday, posted on the mn-politics-discuss Yahoo! Group. Judge Stephenson's ruling is clear and correct. The entire endorsement process suffered a system-wide failure.

The Pioneer Press quoted House Speaker Steve Sviggum (R-Kenyon), "I feel real bad for the citizens of St. Cloud. They will not have a choice now. The write-in option now might be the only way to go." Who will be held accountable for this train wreck? The DFL had nothing to do with it; all they had to do was stand back and smile. Of course, this sort of thing happens in both parties, it's just the Republicans' turn.

Matt also suggested that donors are going to close their checkbooks. My personal opinion is Ron Carey should take some responsibility - but it looks like he passes the buck of blame to the Senate and House caucus.

UPDATE: According to AP, Ox has conceded. The results of this special election are being trumpeted by the "Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee". I've never heard of that group.

Results - with one precinct remaining:

Becker: 792
Ox: 4267
Clark: 6320
Writeins: 45

From the AP:

"Whenever you have a write-in situation, it's virtually unheard-of that a write-in candidate will win," said Mark Drake, spokesman for the state Republican party. "It's the political equivalent of a 'Hail Mary' pass, that race."

The election fills the seat vacated by DFL Rep. Joe Opatz, who left to become interim president of Central Lakes College in Brainerd.

The House district covers the core of St. Cloud, including St. Cloud State University, whose students are currently on break.

Drake said the turmoil in the House race cost the GOP the Senate race.

"The Ek situation clearly created confusion among the voters and drowned out our message (in the Senate race) that Tarryl Clark is a liberal who is out of touch with the district," Drake said.

That's self-serving. The Ek situation hurt, but Dan Ochsner's campaign also had a number of self-inflicted wounds. It was notable that the St Cloud Chamber of Commerce took a pass on endorsing in this race. This was a big loss for the MCCL which was Ochsner's one big endorsement - and this was a loss for the MCCL in an area where they have strength.

But Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar, said it's only the Republicans' fault for picking a House candidate who didn't live in the district. He said Clark won her Senate race because she focused on issues that matter to voters.

"I do believe it sent a strong message again that folks in Minnesota care about education, health care, transportation and the environment, and the divisive issues that Republicans have been using come in second," Johnson said. "It's the core issues that continue to win DFL seats with us."

Clark had already run for the seat twice, losing by just 496 votes in 2002.

Republican Sen. Dave Kleis won a race for St. Cloud mayor in November, prompting him to resign from the Senate seat he'd held since 1994.

The district takes in St. Cloud as well as a mostly suburban area to the west and south.

The special election won't change the balance of power in the closely divided state House or Senate. The DFL majority in the Senate improved to 38-29, including Sen. Sheila Kiscaden, IP-Rochester, who caucuses with the Democrats, while the House GOP maintained its one-seat advantage.

This pretty much means the marriage amendment in Minnesota is dead.

Governor Pushing Stadium Tax Increase Again

Strib here.

Call Governor Pawlenty at 651-296-3391.... Tell him to just say no to a stadium tax increase.

Strib on St Cloud Special Elections


Ox also defends the doctored photo on his campaign piece.

Another brochure -- with a photo of a Bush rally last year that Ochsner emceed, but with the Bush-Cheney signs changed to ones for "Ox" -- also drew attention in the Senate race.

Critics say it disproves Ochsner's claim to be "Central Minnesota's voice of integrity."

Ochsner defended the digital imaging switch as a necessary shortcut in a brief campaign. "We had to get things going quick," he said.

"Nobody thought there was anything wrong with it. There's no legal problems with it."

In my opinion, Ox ran a campaign that was too stupid to win. Most of the time, DFLers tend to run campaigns in that way.

Also Pawlenty has said that he thinks Clark will win:

Now Haws, a three-term Stearns County commissioner, is an odds-on favorite to beat Kay Ek, a newcomer to electoral politics who entered the House race only last week as an 11th-hour write-in candidate. The Senate race is thought to be closer, but even as loyal a Republican as Pawlenty suggested last week that DFLer Clark, who lost to Kleis in both 2000 and 2002, will probably win this time.

"Tarryl has run twice before," said Senate Majority Leader Dean Johnson, DFL-Willmar. "She's a known commodity in the St. Cloud area. We're cautiously optimistic."

Although central Minnesota is known as a hotbed of religious conservatism, Johnson suggested that "social issues are not carrying the day" as they did in the past. "Core issues" such as education, transportation, health care and the environment are gaining more attention from voters, he said.

Ochsner, Ek and the IP's Becker are touting their opposition to abortion, support for a constitutional ban on gay marriage and fiscal conservatism. Besides the "core issues," Clark and Haws stress positive efforts to reduce abortion instead of new restrictions -- "The Ten Commandments didn't end sin," Haws says -- and note that a 1997 state statute outlawing gay marriage has not been challenged.

This will be interesting. A Republican friend of mine - who has a gay son, will be voting for Clark - he said his choice was between high taxes and his son - and he'd rather vote for someone who would raise his taxes than someone who would attack his son.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

RNC Website Says "Happy Holidays"

Americablog here:

Someone should inform the Catholic League's Bill Donahue.

IDiot Views Actually Weaken the Foundation of Faith

PZ Myers has an excellent post on the topic which fisks the Discovery Institute Fellow David Klinghoffer's column in the National Review.

The National Review weighs in on the Kitzmiller decision, going for their usual simplistic black & white dichotomizing. David Klinghoffer thinks the choice is God or Darwin. The split is between god-hating atheistic evilutionists (apparently, Judge Jones must be in that group, but I don't know anything about his religious beliefs) and good Jesus-loving Christian creationists, with no conscionable position in between.

To support his claim, he trots out a parade of the wicked: Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Steven Weinberg, Paul Mirecki, and…PZ Myers. Ooo-whee, I find myself in august company!

He's exactly right about one thing: all the people on his little enemies list say terrible things about religion. Speaking for just myself, I don't like it at all—I think it's a bad idea to afflict a society with an institution dedicated to opposing critical thinking, the acceptance of dogma, and belief in unsupported and frankly, ludicrous claims. I'm going to express my detestation often and without reservation here, as the others in that list have done in their own venues. So? Is this an opinion we are not allowed to have? Does it make us unfit to speak on science or philosophy? Is it more offensive than the frequently stated and rarely questioned Christian opinion that we unbelievers are damned to spend all of eternity suffering in agonizing torment? (I suspect that most sensible Christians respond to us saying "piffle on religion" with a weary "eh" and perhaps a little eye-rolling, just as most sensible atheists find the flaming ghost-life threats weird and ineffectual.)

Myers also very effectively points out the threat to faith in the Klinghoffer's approach to science:

Now here's a strange situation. I'm a flaming, uncompromising, damned heretical atheist, with a brutally unkind attitude towards religion, as many have noted. Yet here I am, saying that science and faith have nothing to do with each other, that this hypothetical, mythical god is something supernatural, unreachable by the toolkit of methodological naturalism, and that there are no empirical tests that can decide its existence yay or nay.

I hate to say it, but that makes me a "friend to faith" (not by intent or desire, though, but only as a consequence of adherence to principle), much more so than the conservative Christian who pins his belief in god to whether some microscopic collection of proteins in bacteria proliferating in his bowel evolved by natural means or not.

Klinghoffer doesn't understand that principle at all. He seems discombobulated by the complexity of a Christian professing his confidence in science.

Some advocates go further, seeing Darwin as a friend to faith. When I was in New York recently I spent an enjoyable hour at the new Darwin show at the American Museum of Natural History. In the last few yards of exhibit space, before you hit the inevitable gift shop, the museum addresses intelligent design. There's a short film with scientists talking about Darwin and religion, seeking to show that Darwinism actually has religion's best interests in mind. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome project and a self-identified Christian, says that ID can "potentially [do] great harm to people's faiths." How so? Says Collins: by "putting God in the gaps"—by discovering God's creative powers at the junctures in life's history that science can't so far explain. When science at last finds mechanistic explanations for every presumed miracle, where will that leave God?

Smart people see the Christian Francis Collins doing world-class science, and they realize that hey, studying the world around us doesn't conflict with their beliefs in things not of this world. Klinghoffer sees Francis Collins undermining his preconceptions about who can do science, and he thinks that "makes Collins a funny kind of Christian."

That's interesting. Klinghoffer thinks only his narrow interpretation of what Christians should think can define what a Christian is: if you believe in god but don't think he actively and directly conjured up blood clotting proteins, then you must be a "funny kind of Christian". If you want to raise up a child in the church, then by Klinghoffer's strange rules, the scientific professions are all closed off to that kid; if she were to close one of the gaps in our knowledge, she would be shutting out god.

Yet I, who deny all those things, am the threat.

Myers put this very well.

Now the Discovery Institute has gotten the Klinghoffer column published in Myers hometown paper. Apparently after the Discovery Institute issued a press release which criticized Myers, among others, the PR person for the University of Minnesota, Morris wrote Discovery Institute to demand they list Myers affiliation as with the University of Minnesota - Morris. The Discovery Institute put up a blog post on this.

University of Minnesota (Morris) Wants Credit for Darwinist Biologist P.Z. Myers

Note: From now on, we will try to properly credit the University of Minnesota, Morris as the employer of Darwinist biologist P.Z. Myers. In a press release earlier this month, we mistakenly stated that P.Z. Myers was a biology professor at the University of Minnesota. We soon received an e-mail from a public relations person at the University of Minnesota, Morris. She wanted to make clear that Dr. Myers was actually employed by the University of Minnesota, Morris.

The press release in question highlighted Myers' bigotry and intolerance, pointing out that he advocated "the public firing and humiliation of some teachers" because they are critical of Darwin, and quoting his complaint that Darwinists "aren't martial enough, or vigorous enough, or loud enough, or angry enough."

Apparently administrators at the University of Minnesota, Morris are proud of P. Z. Myers, and want to make sure that when we highlight his bigoted and intolerant comments that their institution gets appropriate credit for making such comments possible. OK, we'll try to comply. After all... we want to give full credit where credit is due.

This all means that PZ Myers is successful at what he does.

We have an excellent university out here in our lonely stretch of the prairie, and I think it is wonderful that the Discovery Institute has chosen to mock us for our institutional support for diversity. That's public relations gold. "Come to UMM—the university the Intelligent Design creationists detest!" It's good timing, too, as this is when we're trying to get students to apply and enroll for the next academic year. It's not too late: if you know any high school seniors, send them to our page for prospective students, have them apply, and we promise to give them a first-rate liberal arts education if they are accepted and choose to come here. As another bonus, the Discovery Institute's PR is going to discourage students who are poor at science, the only ones who approve of their message, from coming here. It's free advertising, and it's going to select for a better applicant pool. Woo-hoo!

Oh, and I really can't let this slide. It's so representative of the dishonesty and distortion the Discovery Institute relies on to make their false cases. They say,

he advocated "the public firing and humiliation of some teachers" because they are critical of Darwin

Notice that only part of the quote is actually from me, and the closing bit is a complete fabrication. You can read the whole thing in context, where you'll see that what I'm demanding is basic competence from teachers, not some slavish adherence to 19th century doctrine, and in fact I am critical of Darwin.

Hey, there's a new slogan for them. "The Discovery Institute: supporting incompetence in education since 1990!" Or maybe, "The Discovery Institute: we don't require rigor and discipline. And it shows!"

I would recommend Morris to students who want to get a good rigorous liberal arts college education. It's a smaller school than the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities - and that means lower class sizes - and more of a feeling of a University community.

The Discovery Institute is trying to drum up complaints about Myers to the Provost - and trying to do to Myers what John Altevogt did to Paul Mirecki at the University of Kansas.

A commenter on Myers blog adds:

John Emerson — 12/24 at 09:42 AM
You have to give credit to UMM. Of course, they have a national reputation and really aren't dependent on drawing from the surrounding counties the way some other Minnesota schools are, not to name any names. And their ultimate head office is presumably in Minneapolis, and safe from local attackers.

Disovery Institute's true colors do come out pretty clearly here, don't they? First playing the victim card, and then trying to rouse the pitchfork-wielding know-nothings. I doubt that it will work very well, even in Stevens County.

That's exactly what the Discovery Institute is trying to do to PZ Myers. Myers should be happy that the Discovery Institute is attacking him. What that means is he has been effective. I'm sure it burns the Discovery Institute, that Myers is now the go-to guy to get a comment about stories about IDiocy in the mainstream media. In a story about the Dover decision, the Strib sought comment from PZ Myers and creationist Dave Eaton - from the Minnetonka school board. Other Minnetonka board mebers aren't too happy with Dave Eaton - since he's made it look like their school district is pushing for IDiocy. That's not the case - Dave Eaton is pushing for IDiocy in the Public Schools in Minnetonka.

Friday, December 23, 2005

DFL or Clark Campaign Hit Piece on Dan Ochsner (Ox)

King Banaian explains:

The DFL has dumped a great deal of money on postcards in this last week. Yesterday we got a disgusting one pretending to be a Christmas card from Dan Ochsner, the Republican senate candidate, which when opened screams that Ox has called St. Cloudites "morons" and SCSU "a disgrace". (Frankly, I've had occasion to agree with those comments from time to time, particularly the latter. So too have several of our faculty. If I had a morning talk show five days a week, I might have uttered those words on-air.) It's utterly meanspirited. When I mentioned this at breakfast, the DFLers at the table replied "oh, you should have heard the push-poll someone called me with last night." Um, that's fairly different, and I've had three DFL push-pollers call me this month too.

King sung a different tune, when he parroted creationist John Altevogt's talking points on Professor Paul Mirecki:

The water apparently got too hot for Prof. Mirecki at U. Kansas, the religious studies scholar who when we last visited had proposed to teach a course on intelligent design. We now learn that he has pulled the plug on the course. The good professor heated up his own water by posting about the course on a Yahoo group where he refers to fundamentalists as "fundies".

It seems to me that King gets selectively outraged. It's ok to take something out of context for Mirecki. (Remember that Mirecki's email was sarcastic - the salutation was "to my fellow damned" - because it was addressed to a student atheist group, and the email was signed "Evil Dr P"). But it's mean-spirited for the DFL to use Ox's own words on talk radio against him.

I find this sort of thing from both sides on many issues tends to shut down honest discussion of issues.

Michael Brodkorb is really grasping for straws. He breathlessly claims:


Then he has a screen shot of a DFL e-newsletter which has the headline:

It's official - Sue Ek is off the ballot - and her mom can't run either....

In other words:

The latest DFL Dispatch is claiming Kay Ek cannot run for the House of Representatives in HD 15B.

While Kay Ek will not appear on the ballot, she is running for the seat. Any legal voter in HD 15B can write-in Kay Ek's name on their ballot. Only at the end of the DFL Dispatch does it say Kay Ek is waging a write-in campaign. Why then does the DFL say Kay Ek can't run?

It's clear the DFL's goal is to confuse the voters of HD 15B. The latest DFL Dispatch is claiming Kay Ek cannot run for the House of Representatives in HD 15B.

While Kay Ek will not appear on the ballot, she is running for the seat. Any legal voter in HD 15B can write-in Kay Ek's name on their ballot. Only at the end of the DFL Dispatch does it say Kay Ek is waging a write-in campaign. Why then does the DFL say Kay Ek can't run?

It's clear the DFL's goal is to confuse the voters of HD 15B. Call the DFL Party at (651) 293-1200 and tell them to stop the dirty tricks in HD 15B.

What evidence does MDE have that this is intentional?

I'd put this down to poor writing - that the writer meant "Sue's Mom can't make the ballot either" - rather than meaning literally "her mom can't run either."

This is petty. Why would the DFL mention that Ek was running a write in campaign if they were trying to imply she couldn't do that. MDE's screen shot shows that the DFL does say that Kay Ek is running a write-in campaign. It's clearly a newsletter for party activists - plus moles from the other side. That's what the GOP Newsline is for also.

It's this sort of nitpicking and avoiding the real issues that turns many off to politics.

Update: Andy at Residual Forces comments on this also.

How the Personal Rapid Transit Scam Works

The PRT scam artists tried to sneak a resolution onto the Saint Paul City Councilmeeting agenda Wednesday.


Pioneer Press 12/20/05:

"St. Paul City Council: Regular meeting, 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, 15 W. Kellogg Blvd. The council will discuss the city's Emergency Operations Plan and a potential feasibility study on a personal rapid transit system...."


What happened?

I heard the councilman yanked the PRT resolution. I've also heard from a reliable source that the PRTers claimed they had an "angel" willing to invest in a PRT "demonstration project" in Falcon Heights... a monorail between the Midway stadium and the State Fair.

Apparently, the angel didn't exist (maybe the angel was raptured).

The PRTers have pulled variations of this scam in Duluth, Minneapolis, and Rochester. They convince some well-meaning councilmembers to vote for a resolution saying they are "considering" or "studying" a PRT project for their city.

The anti-LRT/anti-Northstar bunch (Bachmann and Mark Olson are prominent Northstar haters and PRT boosters) in the legislature use the resolutions to convince DFLers to vote for their anti-transit PRT bills because a PRT project in their district smells like pork. That's the Democratic Party for you, the Dems will eagerly hang themselves if the rope is made of pork. Last session the PRT demonstration project was supposed to be in Duluth and they got Senator Prettner Solon to co-author a PRT bill.

Some suckers have actually bought stock based on these bogus resolutions and bogus bills.

Which City Council in Minnesota will be the next target of the PRT scam artists?

Learn more about the PRT scam at the PRT is a Joke web site.

Welcome Salon Blog Readers

My post about my correspondance with conspiracy theorist Mike Adams got linked by World O Crap.

He now posts an unhinged rant he sent to the UNC Chancellor.

I might just forward the Chancellor a copy of my correspondance with Mr. Adams.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Some Conservatives Not Following Party Line on Ek

Kevin Eckers at Eckernet (an excellent blog by the way).

Boo f-ing Hoo. Sorry, I have no sympathy for the GOP. I realize this is a loss for them and I realize what this means at the state level, but I still say good.

I have no room in my heart for incompetence. I mean seriously, residency requirements aren't exactly rocket science. If you can't be trusted to do the simple things, then perhaps you don't deserve a seat on our government. How can I trust you to balance a state budget if you can't even remember your address??

Who I do have sympathy for, is anyone who contributed money to her campaign or that district. You entrusted your party with your hard earned cash and they f-ed it up. Hope you learned from it. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Translation : keep your eyes open next time, because sure as hell they aren't.

I realize my side lost, but I didn't sell my soul when I embraced conservatism. A dumbass is still a dumbass, and what I see is a dumbass. Our dumbass lost. Their dumbass will probably win. At least theirs can remember their zip code.

Hopefully lesson learned. Just don't expect a sympathy card.

Via Powerliberal.

St Cloud Times Profiles Ox and Clark

Tarryl Clark

This lists Clark's endorsements: Education Minnesota and League of Conservation Voters

Dan Ochsner "Ox"

Ox's endorsements only include MCCL. The Chamber of Commerce took a pass. I wonder what the story behind that one was.

The profile also mentioned photoshop-gate:

Next, one of his campaign mailings was criticized for doctoring a photo taken at a 2004 St. Cloud rally for President Bush to make it appear as though it were a rally for Ochsner, and for a picture of him and his wife, Jan, with a godchild that could leave the impression that the child is his.

As long as the doctored rally photo belongs to Ochsner, there is nothing illegal about altering it, said David Schultz, a professor at Hamline University and the University of Minnesota who specializes in election law.

"On ethical grounds, it is very, very deceptive," he said. "On legal grounds ... I suspect he's safe."

Ochsner said he didn't pick the photos for the fliers and can't help it if people misconstrue them.

Bitchy Queens over that the Independent Gay Forum


What Did They Expect?
Two headlines from this week's Washington Blade: Gay, AIDS groups oppose Alito and Bush declines to name [openly gay D.C. Attorney General Robert] Spagnoletti for judgeship. Only in lesbigay political never-never land would gay activists think they can vehemently oppose all of the president's judicial nominees, and then expect he should reward our community by appointing a gay judge.

I sometimes think gay activists are the only people in D.C. who don't have a clue how politics works—or, more depressingly, they do know but care more about being on the left and losing (which is actually better for their fundraising efforts), then making progress.

More: From reader Curtis:

Bush doesn't owe the critics of his judicial nominations anything, that's for sure. And LCR's failure to support his re-election pretty much rules them out as effective lobbyists.

So Bush gets a free ride with all those gay Bush voters who have no institutional lobbyist in Washington.

Gay activists to Bush: We will never, ever, EVER support you. Now, here's what we want!


Thing is that people like Steve Miller and Curtiss are giving the message to Bush that it doesn't matter what he does on gay issues, because we will support you no matter what. That's as bad as the message the gay liberal groups give to Bush.

A pox on both sides.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Comments on Mirecki Post

A commenter left a rather long winded comment to one of my recent posts about Paul Mirecki, the Religious Studies Professor who has been under fire by the religious right. Robert Richardson, a member of SOMA - the Society of Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics - the group that Mirecki advised, stopped by and responded:

I'm a member of SOMA and a personal friend of Dr.M, and I just wanted to say thank you.

When the people who oppose him are known to utter sentences like,

"Secular Atheists are using science to try and discredit theology but I suspect the only thing that is being dicredited is science itself since you have to break all the established laws of physics and chemistry in order to support the big bang and spontaneous life and evolution."

the real motivation becomes clear. They contend in the same breath that it is wrong to criticize the most radical fringest of religious thought, but that science is discrediting itself when it contends that the Big Bang (etc) is in accordance with all known laws of physics, chemistry, and biology.

Yeah. It's all just a big conspiracy between 99% of Chinese, Russian, Australian, British, Italian, German, Japanese, and American scientists to stop competing with one another and start pushing the "secular atheist agenda" of universal acceptance of evolution. Good grief.

Robert gave some more background on this story in response to this post:

Eva - I'm a member of SOMA. We've seen many of the more radical posters on this subject, at the LJWorld and elsewhere, post that in fact it was members of our group who beat him up, just to get publicity, or more commonly they make references to the scenes in "Liar Liar" and "Fight Club" where the protagonist beats himself up. Frankly, I find that image hilarious-- Dr. Mirecki must be one of the most peaceful individuals I've ever had the good fortune to know. He'd have trouble, no doubt, smashing an insect. Imagining him punching himself or anyone else is hilarious enough to make me snort coffee out my nose, if I do it at the wrong time.

As you pointed out, the photo shows his wounds several days later, and they are very clearly not self-inflicted, even to a layperson. Had the doctor or the nurses, who see wounds like that all the time, even suspected self-injury, he's mandated by law to tell the police.

Of course, asking people like Malkin or Adams to think things through rationally is far too much, I know.

This student has a blog.

I asked Mitch Berg over at Whine in the Dark what he thought about John Altevogt - Mirecki's critic - wanting the SOMA group booted off the KU campus. Here was his response.

"I'm wondering if you agree with kicking the campus atheist group off campus?"

Assuming they're following the rules (and the rules don't discriminate against deist groups) of course not.

If I were on campus (thank goodness, I'm not), an atheist group would be comedy gold on the hoof. Losing them would be like losing "guy walked into a bar" jokes.
Posted by: mitch at December 18, 2005 08:34 PM

Blogger Berg has got another self-serving whiny post about the poor persecuted fundementalist christians. Cleversponge - who goaded him into it, has already responded.

A Fee is a Tax is a Fee

I heard Speaker Steve Sviggum speak at Bethlehem Lutheran tonight. Sviggum kept on referring to the Health Impact Fee as a tax. He also complained about the ruling from the "activist judge". His arguments for the fee were all about how smokers cost the state money, and the fee is meant to recover this money. Well earth to Sviggum - that was what the Tobacco settlement was all about. That's why the tobacco companies took the state to court - and they won - rightfully so.

David Strom gloats:

Pawlenty is flirting with completely destroying his reputation as a conservative. Rather than admitting this was a mistake and taking a (very) temporary hit to his pride, he is apparantly considering violating the constitution again by trying to impose this fee on his own.

"We are very disappointed by the court’s ruling and will ask for an immediate appeal directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court," Pawlenty said in a statement. He also is considering "using existing administrative authority" to apply the fee at retail outlets.

House Minority Leader Matt Entenza got it right on this one:

House Minority Leader Matt Entenza, DFL-St. Paul, said he was unclear what Pawlenty might mean in using "administrative authority" to apply the fee at the retail level. Entenza suggested that the Legislature, not the governor, would only have that authority.

"That’s why we have tax bills," he said.

Read the whole thing. Doug from Bogus Gold piles on.

The story goes national with Polipundit.


A judge struck down Minnesota's new 75-cent-a-pack charge on
cigarettes Tuesday, saying the fee violated a 1998 settlement with
tobacco companies.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who crafted the charge on the wholesale price
of cigarettes, called for an appeal to the state Supreme Court.

* * *
Ramsey County District Judge Michael Fetsch ordered the state to
pay refunds or give credits to the tobacco companies for fees paid
since the law took effect in August.

Memo to Gov. Pawlenty:

If it looks like a tax, smells like a tax, walks like a tax, and talks
like freakin' tax, it's a tax!


Try reducing some spending, raTHer than taxing companies and consumers.

Memo to Judge Fetsch:


Developing. . .

Will Pawlenty Have a Challenger from the Right?

Andy from Residual Forces floated this rumor last week.

This little rumor made the Star Tribune in Bloghouse last weekend.

The Rumor Mill

Andy of Residual Forces (10) (GOP Senate District 51 chair) has some interesting gossip: "I've just caught wind that a person will be running for Governor as an independent from the right. I cannot say who, but I can assure you that this person is on the right side of the political spectrum. ... If this person manages to gather a meaningless 2 percent of the vote in the general election, that may be enough to cost Pawlenty, the Republicans, and yes even conservatives the Governor's office."

MN Publius (11) may know who the mystery candidate is: State Sen. Brian LeClair of Woodbury. The evidence: Someone recently registered the web addresses and

Yesterday he breathlessly informs us he will be having lunch with the candidate on Wednesday and he'll have more then.

Now it looks like he was stood up.

The person had something much more important come up last minute, so we had a 2 minute phone conversation, rather than our planned lunch hour meeting.

They have been waiting to see how certain things play out as far as the State Legislature goes, before they go public.
They are setting up a campaign team already, composed of people from all parties, independent, GOP, DFL. Truly non-partisan.
They will be trying to get the Republican endorsement, not just running in the general, like I had said.
This is not just a defeat Pawlenty mission as many in the blogosphere had feared, myself included.
The person strongly believes that they would be a breathe of fresh air in St. Paul.
From their years of experience in operating a business, they know how to make people work together which is definitely needed.
They do not want to defeat Pawlenty at the expense of getting a DFLer into office.
They actually want to win, and think they can.

Andy's gotten attention in City Pages also.

The local freebie alternative paper, The City Pages, took my post from an anonymous emailer(MNGOP Internal Concerns), and turned it into a full fledged story. Even mentioned me in bold type, how about that?

Last month, Andy Aplikowski, a party activist from Blaine and chair of the GOP Senate District 51, published an anonymous complaint on his blog, Residual Forces. Along with some musings on the meaning of the new leadership, the nameless commentator concluded that Sutton "should either be a state employee or a Party staffer, but not both" and fretted that Sutton was "a scandal waiting to happen." For his part, a less judgmental Aplikowski concluded that Sutton’s dual roles were "somewhat troublesome."

Anonymo-Republican blogger, Republican Minnesota is not pleased:

Triple-A provides friendly fire on Republicans

Clearly Triple A enjoys his name in lights. I mean what else would be his reason for helping Democrats and hurting Republicans?

First, he posts an e-mail sent out to MNGOP leaders and surprise surprise, it turns up on MNGOP Watch moments later. Now its turned into a story in City Pages. He even points out that his name is mentioned in bold face type.

Secondly, he claims to have a person who wants to challenge Pawlenty as an independent, but he refuses to name the person. I think this is bogus because he refuses to name the person. This rumor even appeared in Sunday's Star Tribune.

Residual Forces is most likely the top read blog by the DFL next to MDE, followed by MNGOP Watch and MNPublius.

MN GOP Watch is chortling over this.

It's nice to know that we've managed to play a role in this round of Republican infighting.

Developing. . .

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

PZ Myers Gives Panda's Thumb an F- for Response to Mirecki Situation


There was an interesting (in an unpleasant way) social dynamic going on. Instead of coordinating our responses, the email backchannel paralyzed them: a few timid reactionaries could throw up a fog of unfounded hypotheticals and completely lock up any action. These same people are now patting themselves on the back for not making any "mistakes" and not saying anything that might require retraction or modification in the future. Of course, they've accomplished this mighty feat of perfect performance by not doing anything. That trivial point seems to have escaped their notice.

Gary might be a loose cannon, but the Panda's Thumb has a whole grand gundeck of cannons neatly stowed and plugged, never loaded and never fired out of fear of missing the target*. I have more respect for those willing to take an isolated shot then a whole broadside that will never, ever be ordered. The whole group is rendered rather ineffectual by its reluctance to employ the diverse talents signed up there, unfortunately. It's clear to me that while the Panda's Thumb is great for following events in the evolution-creation wars, it has abdicated any pretense of leadership.

Another lesson I've learned, that might be reassuring to some, is that the group as a whole is far more religion-friendly than you might think from reading creationist sites. Criticizing "fundies" is a bad, bad thing, and will cost you the support of many of the Panda's Thumb gang. Mirecki should be grateful that he isn't an atheist; I definitely got the feeling that there'd have been anti-Mirecki diatribes publicly washing our hands of him if that had been the case. At least, I don't feel particularly welcome there, and definitely perceive that I'm a third-class citizen in the hierarchy (heck, I didn't even know there was a hierarchy until recently). I don't feel bad enough about it to start going to church to win the prize of being a valued theistic evolutionist, though.

I'm still involved with the group, but I've resolved to mostly ignore the email communications from them, and I plan to be more of a critic. I may also play the loose cannon now and then, but hey, one of us ought to be limbered up and loaded—just remember, I am an individual actor and not representative of the whole of the Panda's Thumb crew. While I'm a flaming liberal atheist, most of the people there are not, and they're actually a diverse bunch; it's too bad there's less interest in seeing that diversity expressed than in maintaining a bland front of tepid inoffensiveness.

The Panda's Thumb is a great resource for science and focused critiques of creationism, and everyone should keep reading it, but we should also be clear on what it is not. It is not ever going to address the root causes of creationism in our country: the virulent, pathological brands of fundamentalism that are growing in our midst. That would be . . . rude.

Several Panda's Thumb contributors - and Gary Hurd, the author (who just left PT) who wrote the controversial post about Mirecki are commenting on PZ's article.

Ed Brayton, a Panda's Thumb contributor who claims he is "skeptical" of Mirecki's account has commented here and here.

William Dembski Maintains an Unusual Silence about the Dover Case

Intelligent Design Creationist Bill Dembski is usually pretty vocal about this sort of thing. He hasn't even deleted critical comments and banned people.

Pawlenty Hoisted by his own Petard on the "Health Impact Fee"

From Checks and Balances:

Today, Ramsey County District Judge Michael Fetsch ruled that the $.75 Healthcare Impact fee Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) called for last legislative sesssion violated the 1998 Tobacco settlement. This means the 2006-07 State Budget has a $400 million hole and may force the Governor to call a Special Session.

In response the Governor released the following statement:

"We are very disappointed by the court's ruling and will ask for an immediate appeal directly to the Minnesota Supreme Court. The judge made a significant error by ignoring the principle of separation of powers which is the legislature's authority to independently make decisions without being bound by prior agreements reached by the Attorney General.

"We will also consider using existing administrative authority to apply the fee at the retail level of sale which is clearly allowed.

"This ruling is particularly unfortunate as recent evidence has shown that many Minnesotans are choosing to quit smoking, due in part to the Health Impact Fee."

We at Checks & Balances were not surprised by this ruling since we had first discussed it, in August, three weeks before the Tobacco Companies took the matter to court.

If this had been a tax, then the tobacco companies wouldn't have a prayer in the courts to block it.

Dover IDiocy Loses in Court

PZ Myers is elated. He has fun at Michael Behe's expense.

The decision is a very strong decision on the grounds of separation of church and state.

To preserve the separation of church and state mandated by the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and Art. I, § 3 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, we will enter an order permanently enjoining Defendants from maintaining the ID Policy in any school within the Dover Area School District, from requiring teachers to denigrate or disparage the scientific theory of evolution, and from requiring teachers to refer to a religious, alternative theory known as ID. We will also issue a declaratory judgment that Plaintiffs' rights under the Constitutions of the United States and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have been violated by Defendants' actions. Defendants' actions in violation of Plaintiffs' civil rights as guaranteed to them by the Constitution of the United States and 42 U.S.C. § 1983 subject Defendants to liability with respect to injunctive and declaratory relief, but also for nominal damages and the reasonable value of Plaintiffs' attorneys' services and costs incurred in vindicating Plaintiffs' constitutional rights.

The Discovery Institute is furious.

They also see a silver lining in having the voters vote against the IDiots on the Dover School Board.

Luskin pointed out that the ruling only applies to the federal district in which it was handed down. It has no legal effect anywhere else. The decision is also unlikely to be appealed, since the recently elected Dover school board members campaigned on their opposition to the policy. "The plans of the lawyers on both sides of this case to turn this into a landmark ruling have been preempted by the voters," he said.

PZ Myers fisks the DI press release.

There's more at the Panda's Thumb. ESkeptic has an overview of the case.

This is great news for Science. This "activist judge" was appointed by George W Bush. Will Tom Delay call for his impeachment?

Sue Ek, Kay Ek and Mary Ellen Otremba - Oh My!

Sue Ek's mother, Kay Ek - who doesn't have the problem establishing St Cloud residency that her daughter has will be running as either a write-in candidate for the 15B St Cloud house race. The Republican party was unable to get her on the ballot. Kay Ek, like her daughter is involved with BOMA - an organization that teaches about "natural family planning". King Banaian has more. North Star Politics gloats.

A commenter raises some interesting questions in response to my post earlier this week pointing out that Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba is listed as an instructor for this group, with her state email address as contact.

This isn't the first time Otremba has used her House position to promote her private business. She has proposed legislation in the past that would require a portion of state family planning funds to be set aside for "natural" family planning programs--never bothering to tell anyone that as a "natural" family planning instructor, she stood to directly benefit from her own legislation.

Otremba also is author of legislation that would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill prescriptions if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. So by attempting to restrict the availability of birth control, is this another back-door attempt by Otremba to promote her "natural" family planning business?


Monday, December 19, 2005

Ek is out.....

The Supreme Court ruled against Sue Ek. Her name will no longer be on the ballot, and the Ek absentee votes will not be counted.

St Cloud Times comments here.

Jazzman from Saint Cloud
Ek and the Republican party should be ashamed of themselves for being such phonies and trying to slide this by the people of this district, area and the state of Minnesota. Ek and the party should pay for all costs that were associated with this fisaco. Both Ek and the party owe us an apology.

Marie from Little Falls

Gadfly from St. Cloud
The Supremes have spoken. The deadline for placing names on the ballot has passed. Larry Haws should running unopposed. The Republican Party has no one to blame but themselves. This is what happens when the party gets taken over by the radical MCCL crowd.

olaf flagenwagel from
can a write-in campaign work?

Blondi from The Cities
Personally? I truly believe this was an honest mistake. But, when the error was discovered, immediate withdrawl would have been the honorable route to take...

Amicus libertae from Galt's Gulch
All's fair in love and politics. Prepare for another tax increase from your friends in the DFL.

Concerned from St. Cloud
Or, Amicus, a property tax iincrease from your good friends in the GOP. Oh, yeah, they claim not to be responsible for the shifting sands.

mosie from st. cloud
Another low in partisan politics. How in the world are we to get things done in St.Paul. Bet you a buck, another gridlock year with nothing going to be accomplished, except for more stupid special interest laws and tax increases. The Joe's and Jane's lose again.

Concerned from St. Cloud
mosie, its a bonding year as the budget was dealt with last year. Unless of course they decide to redo everything; yet again.

auntie j from stearns county
Probably the right decision, but you fanatics need to take some valium and relax a little. Life is too hard the way it is. No need to get your panties in a bind over politics. It really doesn't matter that much. They all are crooked. Some are just more crooked than others. Man, people. RELAX!!!

Concerned from St. Cloud
I wonder if this means the GOP will run a vigourous getout the write in vote campaign??

barrier from reef
I promised SusanT I would sum up all the wingnut posts in the Ek thread using my ISO 9000-certified WANKER (Wingnut And Nincompoop Knowledgeless Emittance Review) program. (For those of you that don't know, the WANKER interface allows you to feed all the winger whines, false analogies, straw man arguments, ignorant blather and outright lies into it, returning a summarized version of all the "points" made by Bush loyalists and other halfwits.)

Weirdly, most of the crazies were focused on the Ox, not Ek's special brand of absentee office seeking. Thankfully, the WANKER could handle both issues:


(Note: no animals were harmed during the testing of the WANKER. All Rights Reserved, All Wrongs Reversed.)

Concerned from St. Cloud
barrier, I believe your wanker does need a bit of work because I believe it missed some important points. It should have stated:

"She doesn't live here, but she is GOP, Pro Life, Anti-Gay, so thus qualified! This Court thing is merely a DFL smear campaing to eliminate a mainstream Central Minnesotan!"

boatman from St. Cloud
For once, our laws have worked the way they were intended. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

SusanT from Silver Lake
Barrier: What more can I say.
barrier from reef
Concerned--do not taunt the WANKER. Do not make eye contact with the WANKER. Do not shake the WANKER. You have been warned.

(Note: I missed those comments, as I was so flabbergasted my mac's unique, well-researched take on the voting patterns of Democrats, unions, and African-Americans that I really couldn't go any further without throwing up in my mouth...)

SusanT from Silver Lake
Concerned: Maybe Barrier could update to a new edition: ISO 9000-certified WANKER-II
boatman from St. Cloud
I wonder if Sue Ek will move to St. Cloud for real now, or at least make sure she moves back to meet residency requirements before a possible run in next election. She has established some name recognition. Perhaps this will give her time to educated herself on the issues concerning our city.

Blog reaction:

King Banaian:

It's a sign that some folks didn't do their due diligence. The commenters on the St. Cloud Times chat board seem gleeful and don't think Republicans should get to replace Ek. I would be happiest if I could cast a ballot for "none of the above", but I felt that way weeks ago.

Andy from Residual Forces:

I hope we can all agree this is terrible news for the GOP, and great for the DFL. (Not that I am happy with this.)


Sue Ek should have set aside her ambitions and 1. Not have run at all until her residency was firmly established; and/or 2. dropped out of the race early on as soon as this situation saw the light of day. Now here we are, only a week until the elections, and we have no candidate.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if Larry Haws gets elected (a probability even if Ek was allowed to remain in the race) does that mean an even Minnesota House? as far as I can tell the current tally is a 68-66 majority in favor of the Republicans.

Regardless, the Republicans (I count myself among them) have a lot of work to do to either regain or maintain control in the November, 2006 elections.

The winner in 15B will be replacing a democrat. The best the Dems could do with this is to maintain 66 votes to the Republican 68.

MN Publius:

Ek's replacement

While we still do not know if the MN GOP will be allowed to replace Sue Ek for the December 27th special election, rumors have begun to swirl about just who the Republicans will try to shoehorn on the ballot. MN Publius has heard two separate trains of thought on the matter:

First, some have speculated that Sue Ek was at the bottom of the GOP candidate wish list, making it unlikely that they would be able to come up with a credible candidate on such short notice. Allegedly, Speaker Sviggum was originally trying to recruit Ek's parents to run in the special, and Sue only agreed to run after both of them declined.

This afternoon, however, a credible source claims that rumors are flying around St. Cloud that the GOP has in fact found a candidate with the name recognition to mount a strong campaign.

North Star Politics:

The N-Ek-t Step

So, Sue Ek is off the ballot and it's very, very unclear whether the GOP will be able to put another candidate on. Tomorrow marks one week from the election, so between the legal uncertainly and the time it will take to resolve it, I'll guess that Larry Haws will be unopposed on the ballot next Tuesday, and I'm nearly certain that he'll win in a landslide regardless.

The next question is whether Sue Ek will face criminal charges for her actions in this electoral fiasco. I'm no lawyer - obviously - but this blogger would be mightily surprised if Sue Ek was not in danger of being charged with - and is probably guilty of - at least one count of fraud.

Lloydletta Was First Reporting Conflict of Interest in Mpls Biomass Energy Project

In a Lloydletta post on Monday, November 21, 2005, this blog pointed out a looming conflict of interest in a biomass project in Minneapolis. The Southwest Journal reported that that Michael Krause, former executive director of the Green Institute and close friend of Minneapolis City Councilmember Lisa Goodman was the head of new corporation (Kandiyohi Corp.) that plans to be a player in the burgeoning biomass energy field in Minnesota.

Today, the Minneapolis Observer reports that the dispute between Krause and the Green Institute has turned bitter with the potential to cost the city over a hundred thousand dollars:


"Michael Krause, who left his position as executive director of the Green Institute last summer, has created a development company of his own and last week convinced a key City Council committee to reconsider its decision to work out a deal with the Green Institute. Krause’s firm, Kandiyohi Partners, also includes the former head of the city’s Empowerment Zone, Kim Havey. Both men are familiar faces at City Hall (Krause is a member of the Planning Commission) and both have close personal ties to Community Development Committee chair Lisa Goodman.

"Those connections were invaluable when Krause worked for the Green Institute, but now they appear to be steering some city officials away from the organization as a partner in the biomass project. The Transportation and Public Works Committee last week voted to halt the city’s negotiations with the Green Institute and issue a Request for Proposals in April that would open the project to more bidders.

"Carl Nelson, director of the Green Institute’s Community Energy Project, was not happy with the decision. “The Green Institute has gotten screwed,” he said.

"The organization does not oppose an open bidding process, Nelson said. “They should have done that from the beginning. The problem is changing the rules mid-stream.”

The Green Institute has invested some $110,000 on the biomass project already, money Nelson said was only spent because the city had given the organization the impression it was the only group in the running for the project. He hinted that the organization may ask to be reimbursed by the city."


Many questions remain about this story. Will the local media investigate this matter or will the taxpayers have to fork over $110,000 in a settlement without anyone in government being held accountable?

Sunday, December 18, 2005

St Cloud Times Endorses Tarryl Clark and Larry Haws


Our view: District's best bets on special election ballot: Clark, Haws
Times editorial board

With full awareness that the Minnesota Supreme Court could shake things up in the next few days, the Times Editorial Board today endorses Larry Haws for House District 15B and Tarryl Clark for Senate District 15 in the Dec. 27 special elections.

Party-line voters either can shake their heads in agreement or run screaming from the room, but we believe these two DFL candidates are best qualified to represent their respective districts.

Clark for Senate

We like Clark for her many strengths. Having spent 18 years in St. Cloud, she knows the needs of a regional center. Working as a lobbyist in St. Paul, she has a solid grasp on how the Capitol operates. While her enemies are trying to paint her as fiscally liberal, there is nothing to indicate that's true.

She shows strong support for and a good understanding of how to improve public education. She also wants to make sure the most vulnerable Minnesotans are treated fairly. But she is equally aware that unchecked spending is not a realistic option, especially in the current legislative environment.

Her main counterpart, Dan "Ox" Ochsner, is a staunch fiscal conservative working hard to portray himself as a reformer in the mold of former seat-holder Dave Kleis.

He makes a good point about ending partisanship by having lawmakers represent their districts, not their parties. But he backslides quite a bit in praising the success of "no new taxes" in resolving the state's deficits and advocating the state's school year be based on what the tourism industry wants. Such positions are more about party lines than regional representation.

This board also has reservations about Ochsner's leadership given his job is to lead a partisan radio show that includes segments perceived by many as minimizing minority groups. Ochsner says his bits only promote equality. However, if he's really as in touch with "regular people" as he claims, he would know a good portion of them don't see it that way.

Dan Becker is running as the Independence Party candidate in this race. He has a reasonable message about eliminating special-interest money from the Legislature, but he also suggests the state raise its revenues in part by only allowing some businesses to operate if they share profits with the state. That's unreasonable.

Haws in the House

The legal battle about the residency of Republican candidate Sue Ek is dominating this race.

Regardless of what the courts decide, Haws is the better candidate. Of all the candidates interviewed in both races, he has the best perspective on how local, county and state governments are connected.

For example, in the wake of the recent news that the state has a budget surplus, he aptly pointed out how counties are now struggling with higher bills for jails because the Legislature shifted its costs to counties a few years ago.

Overall, Haws has a wealth of ideas on how to help everything from regional transportation projects to health care access.

As for Ek, the question rages about whether she is a St. Cloud or St. Paul resident. Regardless of the courts, just know this:

When asked by the board about recent education issues, she said she had not heard of the plan to extend the school year five weeks, she did not know that an education group with strong local ties recently asked for $1 billion more in statewide funding, and she said, "St. Cloud should look into joining Q-Comp."

St. Cloud did. The governor was just here presenting the district with a check for $2.52 million.

From the comments on Dan Ochsner:

Hawkeye from St. Cloud
"This board also has reservations about Ochsner's leadership given his job is to lead a partisan radio show that includes segments perceived by many as minimizing minority groups. Ochsner says his bits only promote equality. However, if he's really as in touch with "regular people" as he claims, he would know a good portion of them don't see it that way." This is the problem I have with Ochsner. I listened to his show for one 30 minute segment about 18 months ago and was repulsed by his disparaging remarks about minorities. IMO, Ochsner will only get votes from "straight-ticket" Republicans who know nothing about him other than the radio sound bite ads and the mailers arriving daily from the GOP. They probably have not recognized his featherbrained KNSI billboard ads and associated that goofball image with the sanitized coat-and-tie portrait on his flyers.

Dan Becker (IP candidate) isn't happy with MCCL:

Dan Becker from St. Cloud

Mark. I see the MCCL as a special interest group. I wouldn't take a penny from them. However, I am anti-abortion and agree with them on their pro-life positions. In their mailing with questions, they had a deadline for it to be in. I received the mailing the day after that deadline. This is a fraction of the behavior that troubles me about the political process relating to the special interest groups. This statement helps expose the behavior. If I were not in this race, people can only assume what is going on.

More comments here.

Panda's Thumb's Gary Hurd on Paul Mirecki Situation


Paul Mirecki professor (and former chairman) of the University of Kansas Department of Religious Studies, reported that he was attacked by two men at about 6:30 AM on last Monday, 05/12/05. As one may observe from the link above, Panda’s Thumb has to date not discussed this issue beyond merely mentioning that it occurred. This was the result of considerable debate, hundreds of emails- many very heated, amongst the dozen or so of us who are regular contributors to the Thumb.

The religious right was not so restrained. Within hours, “conservatives” were claiming that Mirecki's report was false and that his injuries were faked Mirecki hospitalized after beating. Within two days William Dembski promoted the idea that Mirecki had faked the attack. The website Dembski directed his readers to also held the possibility that Mirecki was a drug addict and/or drug dealer;

Comment by Sean — Wed 7 Dec 2005 @ 6:39 am

I think it's most likely that he was beat up for some completely different reason, which would have been embarrassing, or even incriminating, for him to admit. A drug deal, perhaps.

Without any supporting evidence at all, or time to reflect, right-wing zealots began braying about Tawana Brawley and Al Sharpton, and comparing Mirecki with Kerri Francis Dunn. We have seen the far right employ this technique so often it is now known as "swift boating." I am reminded of the advice provided to the Army’s Airborne Rangers if captured, "Admit nothing, Deny everything, Make counter-accusations."

Later in the post he criticizes the University of Kansas administration for being cowardly and claims that the attackers were law enforcement officers. I'm with him when he criticizes the Kansas University administration. I disagree when he makes the claim that it was police officers who must have been the attackers.

Gerald Harbison, a conservative atheist has some good posts responding to this here and here. He documents wacky Freeper reaction to the beating here.

Now, the management of FReerepublic is quite aware of all of this. They have been alerted to several of the crasser posts, and have let them remain. Since Free Republic is usually willing to remove posts it disapproves of, and ban the offending poster, one can only assume Jim Robinson approves of the posts above. Indeed, only a month ago, a FReeper called dsc called for the use of bloodshed against academics who disparage religion. The moderators were alerted, and did nothing.
The moderators however today banned a Roman Catholic FReeper whose only offense, apparently, was to question the Christianity of the yobs quoted above
Unless the conservative movement purges itself of religious right wingnuts, Americans will recoil from the garbage I've quoted above. And one has to question the intelligence and the ethics of a web site owner who provides a forum for it.

He talks about how this will hurt Kansas here.

So Christian Fundamentalists have won their battle; they have suppressed free speech and academic freedom; may have physically intimidated a man who dared to mock them; and taken one further step towards a theocratic Kansas. How the large number of decent Kansans will react to this will decide the war; I predict when they realize what has been done, they will recoil, throw out their know-nothing School Board majority, and remove some of the more fringe nutcases from office. Kansas has been damaged already; but if its voters don't act quickly, it will be damaged far more and for a longer time. No intelligent person I know wants to live in a state where you can be hounded or beaten for a single injudicious comment, or for voicing your opinion.

I reserve most contempt, however, for the administrators of KU, who seem throughout to have run scared of the fundies; who have done little or nothing to stand up for academic freedom; and who seem to have pressured Mirecki to resign. Anyone considering studying or teaching at the University of Kansas should take note: if you go there, be prepared to keep your head down and not offend the mob.

More on Paul Mirecki

Mitch Berg references Mike Adams meanspirited column about an "interview" with Paul Mirecki, the Kansas Religious Studies professor, who recently got beaten up by anti-evolutionists.

Let me be clear for those of you not gifted with excessive reading comprehension: I'd like to hope that an ostensibly responsible university professor wouldn't fake his own attack - not that we can assume anything anymore; there seems to be a wave of academics who think that ethics are secondary to message. I'd hope that if someone - "fundy" or not - attacked Mirecki that law enforcement would find them and throw the book at them.

However, I think - and I think Adams must suspect - that where there's smoke, there's fire; Adams asks some interesting questions, ones that (from the sound of it) the police are also asking.

I'm going to wait until we hear something substantial, of course, before jumping to conclusions unwarranted by evidence. Because goodness knows that accepting things purely on faith with no empirical evidence would be wrong, wouldn't it?

Mitch naturally has no idea what the Police are asking.

I wrote Adams to get more information abou the interview. Here were his responses:

From: Eva Young
Subject: Your "interview" with Paul Mirecki
Date: Sat, 17 Dec 2005 16:45:19 -0600

Did Mirecki respond to your email - or did you insert the "no comment"
answers in your column attacking him?


At 05:28 PM 12/17/2005, you wrote:
Eva, most people saw it as a parody on Mirecki's cowardice. But, you are vastly superior - intellectually speaking. You recognized that each time I emailed him, Mirecki actually - quite calmly, I might add - typed in the words "no comment." Are you a feminist professor, by any chance?

Mike Adams


You are avoiding the question. Did Mirecki actually answer your emails - or did you write your column from having unanswered emails. Or is your column a parody.

I'm not a professor and I have no idea of the relevance to feminism in this one.


At 07:35 AM 12/18/2005, you wrote:
Of course, he actually answered my emails. I hired a pair of men from Kansas - one with wool gloves, the other with a red visor - to strike him repeatedly with a metal object while he slowly, but calmly, typed the words "no comment" on the keyboard. That's my final answer. Now I'm off to get lawyered up!

Mike Adams

Meanwhile the Kansas State Legislature wants to micromanage the Kansas University Religious Studies Department.

Mirecki critic, John Altevogt wants SOMA kicked off the Kansus University campus, and the religous studies department put under an outside reviewer:

John Altevogt, a conservative columnist and activist in Kansas City, visited the student group’s list serv and compiled a series of Mirecki’s comments made in recent years.

Altevogt sent the compilation to the media, politicians, university officials and others.

The following day, Thursday, the university announced the course's closure.

Altevogt said cutting the course was the wrong outcome.

"This is again a meaningless gesture," he said.

Altevogt said he was concerned about the focus of the religious studies department and he wants to see Mirecki and another faculty member moved to another department. He said he also wanted the religious studies department cleaned up and perhaps transferred to a religious organization that can monitor it; the chancellor fired, and the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics student group kicked off campus.

That's the real agenda behind those going after Mirecki. Kansas University has to decide whether they want to kowtow to this nonsense or fight.

DFL Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba Lists State Affliation on BOMA Website

Republican Minnesota house candidate Sue Ek on her campaign website claims to be the Executive Director of BOMA-USA. As MNPublius has pointed out this organization is listed as "inactive" at the Minnesota Secretary of State's Office. If you look at the BOMA website through the Way Back Machine, there are no archives for 2005. Sue Ek is listed on the website - with a St Paul address in a 2004 archive of the instructor's page.

The BOMA USA website lists Rep. Mary Ellen Otremba (DFL, Long Prairie) as an instructor.

Click on the screen shot to go to the website. What's rather odd about this listing is that Otremba is listing her state representative address as the contact address. Shouldn't she be using another email address for her personal business?

Developing. . .

UPDATE: Otremba was on the conference commmittee for the Positive Alternatives act. Did she disclose a conflict of interest here? Did Matt Entenza make that appointment?

Lloydletta's Nooz in Politics In Minnesota

From this week's Politics in Minnesota:

An Awkward Endorsement

Eva Young, writing here and here and Pam Spalding, here, object to former DFL party chair Rick Stafford endorsing former DFL Rep. and current candidate for State Auditor Rebecca Otto. Stafford was recently elected chair of the Democratic National Committee's GLBT Caucus. As a legislator, Otto was the only House Democrat to vote in favor of putting the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage on the ballot. Certainly there was intense pressure from her district at the time, given the Senator there, Michele Bachmann (R-Stillwater), is the chief proponent of the amendment. Otto, who surprisingly beat GOPer Matt Dean in a 2003 special election, lost to him in the 2004 general election.

Otto was the only house democrat to lose. She was joined by many other house democrats in her vote on the Bachmann amendment, including Al Juhnke, Mary Jane Otremba, Bev Scalze and Denise Dieterich. None of the house democrats who voted against the Bachmann amendment lost. Even though Al Juhnke voted FOR the Bachmann amendment, the Minnesota Citizens in Defense of Marriage still used billboard ads to attack Al Juhnke as supporting gay marriage.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Tarryl Clark Advising the Bush Administration

During the St Cloud Times Online Debate, Tarryl Clark claimed:

My training and my experience training others (as well as my work and volunteer experience), taught me the importance of working with all people, not just those who look or sound alike. My desire is to find solutions, not just engage in partisan bickering. That is why I have been able to be involved with the State DFL Party and, at the same time, be a policy advisor to the Bush Administration. We don't need loud voices trying to shout down their opponents with increasingly shocking (and usually untrue) statements. We need to work together to find and implement real solutions. That is what my education, training, and experience has prepared me to do as State Senator.

I contacted her campaign about this claim. After speaking with the Clark campaign, it turns out that Clark was on advisor on a Bush administration affordable housing initiative.

Chuck Muth on the Patriot Act Filibuster


While it's true that it's primarily Democrats who are filibustering renewal of the Patriot Act in the Senate, conservatives and Republicans (not necessarily the same thing) shouldn't be so quick to automatically assume that this filibuster is a bad thing. The fact of the matter is, a considerable number of highly-regarded and highly-influential conservative leaders have been actively opposing some of the same aspects of the Patriot Act which the Democrats are now citing as justification for their filibuster. They include bona-fide limited-government defenders of individual rights as former Rep. Bob Barr and American Conservative Union chief David Keene.

For Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to compare conservative opponents to certain aspects of the Patriot Act - including Republican New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu who yesterday repeated Ben Franklin's "Those that would give up essential liberty in pursuit of a little temporary security deserve neither" quote on the Senate floor - to those who "have called for a retreat and defeat strategy in Iraq" is simply outrageous, offensive and insulting.

You sure won't find folks such me, Barr and Keene siding with the Democrats and the ACLU very often. This is one of those exceptions which prove the rule.

I'd encourage people to write both Senators: Norm Coleman and Mark Dayton on this matter.

Andrew Stangl, President of the Society of Open Minded Atheists and Agnostics Defends Paul Mirecki

Andrew Stangl, the President of SOMA, the Society of Open-Minded Atheists and Agnostics at Kansas University has an oped in student newspaper today strongly defending Paul Mirecki:

Opinion: Don't judge private e-mail
by Andrew Stangl Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005

As I watched the news coverage of the recent incident involving Professor Paul Mirecki's creationism and intelligent design course, it quickly became apparent that people needed to hear the entire story. The e-mail so many have quoted was sent to the Society of Open-Minded Atheists’ (SOMA) e-mail list serv, meant only for SOMA members.

Someone, most likely a Christian fundamentalist, joined the list serv with the sole intention of monitoring our e-mails and using them against SOMA members.

I'll come back to what this says about fundamentalist ethics and morality in a moment, but this entire situation occurred because a "mole" on our list serv unethically sent Dr. Mirecki's e-mail to some fundamentalist, intelligent design nut job in Kansas City, who started this whole thing.


It certainly doesn't do a lot of good for the argument that religion, specifically Christianity, inspires morality when people pull stunts like this. My opinion of Christianity only continues to drop every time I witness some clearly Christian person commit some sort of offense.

If a secularist committed some offense, we would all be hounded openly by every fundamentalist preacher in the country. It's hypocritical, it's wrong and it's horribly unethical to focus on Mirecki’s statements and then call him a bigot. How many preachers will claim on Sunday that all secularists are immoral, terrible people? How many qualified, aspiring politicians will lose elections because they are secularists?

And yet, Mirecki, a man most people have likely never met, is a bigot based upon an abstract of an e-mail he sent to a private list serv?

Last week after reading King's post about Paul Mirecki, I joined the kusoma yahoogroup to get a first hand sense of what this so-called "hate group" was all about. I also talked with Andrew Stangl a bit about the controversy.

Andrew was especially disappointed in the way that Robert Hemenway, Chancellor of Kansas University reacted to the controversy. Hemenway referred to Mirecki's email as "repugnant and vile". In Andrew's view, this sort of language was way out of proportion to the email Hemenway was referring to and was "responsible for throwing fuel on the fire". Andrew suggested that "immature" would be a better way to describe - and distance himself from Mirecki's email.

Bartholemew has more analysis on how the Kansas Chancellor has reacted here.

Weblog Awards

Pam Spaulding won in the Best GLBT blog category. Pam got 29% of over 11,000 votes. Pam got around twice the votes in her category as Powerline got in the Best Blog category which Daily Kos won. Jesus General won the Best Humor blog by about 2/1 over his closest competitor, the Dilbert blog.

I wish the weblog awards would add a Best Science blog category.

You can check out other nominees and winners here.

Sarah Janacek and Brian Lambert to Get Drive Time Talk Show Slot

From Politics in Minnesota:

PIM Publisher Sarah Janecek will host a new daily radio show with former Pioneer Press media critic and Senator Mark Dayton's Communications Director Brian Lambert from 5-7 p.m. on 100.3 FM beginning January 2, 2006.

How will NARNian King Banaian react? Or frequent Janacek critic Kennedy v the Machine?

Judge Rules Against Sue Ek in Residency Case

Now it goes to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Catholic League's Bill Donahue Having a Cow Over Bush's Christmas Card


O'BRIEN: It is the holiday season, and I say that h-word with some trepidation, because you say that these days and people get upset with you. That's how things are going in this season of concern about what's happening to Christmas. And enter into all that along with all the other concerns about Wal-Mart and whether they're say -- doing things to exclude Christmas, the White House -- I would say Christmas card, but holiday card, which is distinctly well, it's Old Testament, put it that way. Joining me now is Bill Donohue. He's president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. He got this card in the mail -- not very happy about it. Why not?

DONOHUE: Well, when I first got it, I wasn't too unhappy, quite frankly, cause I thought this -- this kind of generic Christmas card is probably something all presidents did. Then I found out later in the day -- I got a phone call from Alan Cooperman from The Washington Post and said I was wrong on that, that every president from FDR up until Bush one [President George H.W. Bush] had at least one Christmas card where they mention 'Merry Christmas.' It began under Clinton, they decided to neuter it. So I began to wonder, why is W not following his father' precedent, as opposed to Clinton's. That made me a little bit angry, and after all we went after Wal-Mart, I'm not gonna be a phony about this and say that a president whom I've met and that I like -- I'm not gonna be be a phony about it and give him a pass. So I think he should put out a Christmas card after all, is it too much to ask people to say "Merry Christmas" at Christmastime in a Christmas card?

I emailed WaPo reporter Alan Cooperman to thank him for calling out this loser.

Minnetonka IDiocy Hearing

PZ Myers gives his impressions of the hearing.

Hot Dogs for Homophobes

Check them out here.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Mirecki Makes the Onion


I posted about Mirecki's beating on the Real Abortion Debate list - managed by the guy who got the Culture and Family Institute to write a hit piece on me that Swiftee likes to quote from).

Here's what I posted:

Since this occured, some anti-evolutionists have beaten him up.

(plus full text of the Kos post)

Anyway, here was the response from the manager of the list:

He should be beaten up. There isn't a shred of evidence providing proof for evolution while there is overwhelming evidence for intelligent design.

You want to debate the topic, step up to the plate.

Mitch Berg over at Whine in the Dark has another mean-spirited post about Mirecki, casting doubt about whether he was really beaten up.

I've interviewed Andrew Stangl from SOMA (the group that had the listserv where Mirecki posted his controversial email). Andrew told me Mirecki isn't doing interviews. I will be posting the interview with Stangl at Lloydletta this weekend.

I'm curious how Mitch will react should the his theory about Mirecki's beating be false. Will he appologise to Mirecki? Will Michelle Malkin appologise to Mirecki for her mean-spirited posts? Doesn't it seem a bit over the top for Malkin to call the hospital to ask for medical information about Mirecki?

Mitch Berg follows up with a pointless - and inaccurate - post about the word fundementalism. Clever Sponge puts Mitch in his place.

Over at Shot in the Dark, Mr. Berg is engaging in some particularily whiny (and, as we will shortly contend, wildly inaccurate) talk about the definition and meaning of "fundamentalism". The gist of the post is that the word "fundamentalist" is woefully misused as an insult by elitists (comically represented in the post by Hollywood) against good, God-fearing, conservative Christians. Throughout the course of complaining about the misuse of a term that describes something of such great importance, Mr. Berg clearly demonstrates that he has no real use for the term in anything other than a political sense...which is sort of what he is complaining about from the other "side".

Read the whole thing.