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Saturday, February 19, 2005

Stonewall DFL Endorsements

UPDATE: Mayor Rybak has responded. He did not make the statement Megan Thomas attributed to him.

I observed the Stonewall DFL Board of Directors meeting. I came late - and the Board had already ratified the membership's decision to endorse Dennis Tifft for 8th ward.

I'm hoping that minutes will be available on the Stonewall DFL website. Megan Thomas made a motion to overturn the recommendation by the Stonewall membership for the Ward 5 race. This was because Don Samuels had supported a Green Party candidate against a DFL candidate (Dianne Loeffler) in Northeast Minneapolis. Tim Bonham and Andy Heuer spoke against this. However the motion carried.

On the Minneapolis Mayoral race, council member Scott Benson spoke asking for Stonewall to give the Mayor an acceptable rating.

Lisa Vecoli (a former aid of Peter McLaughlin) spoke about her reasons for bringing the resolution to find Rybak unacceptable - these were because Rybak didn't sufficiently respect the DFL endorsement - not because Rybak had a bad record on GLBT issues.

Carol Becker spoke eloquently asking that the board not overturn a recommendation by the 38 members who made it a point to spend a Saturday afternoon doing endorsements.

Megan Thomas mentioned during discussion that Rybak had been quoted saying this: "The Black community wouldn't accept Sharon Lubinski as Police Chief". I asked Megan for her source after the meeting, and she said she didn't recall the source - but thought it may have been the Spokesman - and to ask Gary Schiff.

I'd like to ask CM Schiff to go on record on this one. I would also like Mayor Rybak to respond: Did Mayor Rybak actually tell people that the reason he decided against Sharon Lubinski is because the Black community would not accept an openly Lesbian Police Chief.

If this quote isn't true - then I believe Megan Thomas owes Mayor Rybak an apology.

These are my recollections of the meeting. I hope the meeting minutes will become available on the Stonewall DFL website.

There was a roll call vote on whether to give Rybak an acceptable rating - that motion passed: 7-3.

Stonewall's Chair - Alan Hooker mentioned having gotten inundated with email over this issue.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

O'Reilly Suggests Buster Episode is Like S&M thing in the East Village here

Hat Tip Media Matters:

O'REILLY: Mr. Weber, Pat Mitchell could chuck GBH [WGBH, the Boston PBS affiliate that produces Postcards from Buster] right out of the PBS system if she wanted to, OK?

JOE WEBER [Business Week correspondent]: I'm sure.

O'REILLY: I don't want to play these semantic games with anybody -- not you or anybody. She had power to say no Buster under the PBS banner, period.

WEBER: And what she said was she's not going to distribute Buster.

O'REILLY: Yes. She washed her hands like Pontius Pilate. Not good enough. And then she's taking flak from the left. Explain that to us.

WEBER: Well, what's interesting to me, Bill, about this is that she has actually -- she's in a no-win position. She is taking flak from the right clearly --

O'REILLY: On Buster.

WEBER: Obvious -- on Buster.

O'REILLY: Right.

WEBER: Clearly you demonstrated that. She's also taking flak from the left because the left believes that they want shows like that to be aired. And they ought to be encouraged. Now that's their stance.

O'REILLY: Right.

WEBER: She tried to walk a middle road here and say, OK, she's not going to distribute the show. GBH can distribute it if they want to. And local programming -- and this is why there's a crucial difference between a lot of public television stations and other type of network stations -- the local stations can choose to run the show or not.

O'REILLY: Right.

WEBER: Whether PBS distributes it or whether GBH distributes it.

O'REILLY: But she got in trouble because the education secretary, Ms. Spellings, the new education secretary --

WEBER: That's correct.

O'REILLY: -- basically bawled her out and said, "We're not going to be kicking you $80 million in taxpayer money if you're going to have Buster the Bunny hop." And not -- it's not only about homosexuality.

WEBER: That's right.

O'REILLY: I wouldn't want Buster hopping into a bigamy situation in Utah. I wouldn't want him hopping into an S&M thing in the East Village here. I think Buster should --

WEBER: There clearly are some lifestyles that are a little strange.

O'REILLY: Yes.

WEBER: I mean, there's no question.

O'REILLY: So, let's keep Buster out of the sexual realm in all areas. Wouldn't that be the best thing to do?


There was no suggestion of the "sexual realm" in this episode. These lesbian parents were portrayed in a matter of fact way. That's what the Leviticus Crowd is afraid of: Gays being portrayed as people - just like everyone else.

VideoBlog from a Postcards from Buster Producer

Here. There's an interview with the producer of the episode - as well as footage from the episode that Margaret Spellings criticized.

Tom Swift seems to have a blog

Here.

More on Postcards from Buster

I reported earlier on a letter the MFC's Tom Prichard sent to the Minnesota legislature. It plays on the "gays are after your children" stereotype.

Good analysis New Patriot:

The reason? One episode features Buster visiting Vermont, where gay civil unions are legal. He visits real kids who teach him about farm life and maple sugaring. The clincher, of course, is the kids — in real life — have two mommies. They don't dwell on it, or veer off into some sort of "gay agenda" subtext some conservatives enjoy obsessing over. It's just a fact of their lives Buster learns about. Something that any real kid visiting Vermont (or their local school or church) might well encounter.

The mission of the Department of Education is to "ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation." The DoE site also cautions, "Please note that in the U.S., the federal role in education is limited. Because of the Tenth Amendment, most education policy is decided at the state and local levels."

If that's the case, why in the hell is the education secretary interfering with it's own mission, and the mission of public broadcasting? When did the mission of the DoE become one of censorship and bigotry? Margaret Spellings needs to keep her holier-than-thou nose out of my television. Margaret Spelling needs to keep her closed-minded, anti-education, right-wing religious beliefs at home. Trust us to decide what's right for our kids. That's what Twin Cities Public Television is doing.

Barney Frank Condemns Margaret Spellings Actions

news release
from
Barney Frank
Congressman, 4th District, Massachusetts
Washington Office:
2252 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
(202) 225-5931

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Peter Kovar 202-225-9400

February 14, 2005



FRANK DENOUNCES ADMINISTRATION'S ANTI-GAY SCHOOL OF THOUGHT

Today Congressman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) released a letter he sent to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings criticizing her condemnation of gay families after she pressured the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) to withhold an episode of a popular children's television show "Postcards From Buster" because it included a visit to a maple sugar farm in Vermont that was run by a lesbian couple with children.

In a January 25 letter to PBS President and Chief Executive Officer Pat Mitchell, Secretary Spellings said, "Many parents would not want their young children exposed to the life-styles portrayed in this episode. Congress' and the Department's purpose in funding this programming certainly was not to introduce this kind of subject matter to children, particularly through the powerful and intimate medium of television." Spellings also suggested that PBS refund the federal education funds that were used to make the episode and insisted that all references to Education Department sponsorship be deleted from the program credits and any materials about the program.


In a strongly worded letter to Spellings, Frank asserted, in part, that "No one - not even you - has suggested that anything particularly intimate was being portrayed in this TV show, so it is apparently simply the fact that two women love each other and live together that you find so shocking that it is not fit to be broadcast. And of course that only makes sense to those who have such a negative view of those of us who are gay or lesbian that believe that we ought to be shunned in various ways."

Frank's letter closes, "I am by now myself used to the kind of meanness which was the basis of your decision, but I am sorry that young people all over this country who happen to be gay or lesbian have now learned that the person who has been picked by the President of the United States to help with their education has such a fundamentally negative view of their very existence."

A copy of the letter is attached.

# # # #

February 11, 2005

The Honorable Margaret Spellings
Secretary of Education
Federal Office Building 6
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202

Dear Madame Secretary,

I was out of the country at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland when you brought pressure to bear on the Public Broadcasting System to compel them to abandon a show which included two lesbians and the child they are raising. I therefore was unable to react at the time, and when I returned, I thought I would make sure that I had read all of the relevant comments before communicating with you. Today, having just finished reading an interview in which, incredibly, you note that you had made the same decision as the people at PBS, I write to tell you how deeply I resent your profoundly degrading comments about me and millions of other Americans. Of course the suggestion that PBS and you independently arrived at the same conclusion is a degree of intellectual dishonesty unworthy of public debate, and I would hope that you would not in the future say things of this sort, which you must realize no one believes. That is, no one thinks that PBS did this on its own, absent pressure from you.

Beyond that, as to the substance, you have said that families should not have to deal with the reality of the existence of same-sex couples, and the strong implication is that this is something from which young children should be shielded. I am a gay man who has been very lucky in several respects. Twice in my life I have had strong emotional relationships with men, and in each instance, part of the joy of that relationship has been sharing it with members of my extended family. I am also lucky to have three loving siblings, who among them have had ten children and grandchildren, so I have some first-hand experience with what effect it has on small children when they learn of same-sex relationships. What I have experienced, directly contrary to the basis on which you have condemned us as being unfit for young eyes, bears out the song from South Pacific, "You've Got to be Taught to Hate." My nieces, nephew and great-nephews at early ages have in no way been harmed by knowing that I have shared my life with another man, and it has not been at all difficult for any of my siblings to explain that. In fact, in most cases it has not required a great deal of explanation because young people, not exposed to the kind of distaste for us that you embody, did not demand explanations.

No one - not even you - has suggested that anything particularly intimate was being portrayed in this TV show, so it is apparently simply the fact that two women love each other and live together that you find so shocking that it is not fit to be broadcast. And of course that only makes sense to those who have such a negative view of those of us who are gay or lesbian that believe that we ought to be shunned in various ways. For the Secretary of Education of my country to hold such an attitude is of course profoundly disturbing not just to me but to many, many others - not just those of us who are gay and lesbian, but those of our friends and relatives who have had experiences of the sort I have noted, directly contrary to what you assume to be the case.

I am by now myself used to the kind of meanness which was the basis of your decision, but I am sorry that young people all over this country who happen to be gay or lesbian have now learned that the person who has been picked by the President of the United States to help with their education has such a fundamentally negative view of their very existence.

BARNEY FRANK

PBS Cowardice on Buster

Media critic Jeff Jarvis comments.....

Barney Frank issued a press release publicizing a letter he wrote to Margaret Spellings.

Money quote from the letter:

Today, having just finished reading an interview in which, incredibly, you note that you had made the same decision as the people at PBS, I write to tell you how deeply I resent your profoundly degrading comments about me and millions of other Americans. Of course the suggestion that PBS and you independently arrived at the same conclusion is a degree of intellectual dishonesty unworthy of public debate, and I would hope that you would not in the future say things of this sort, which you must realize no one believes. That is, no one thinks that PBS did this on its own, absent pressure from you.


I can't find the interview where this was said. However from the AP story about this, PBS said they were already concerned about this issue:

A PBS spokesman said late yesterday that the nonprofit network has decided not to distribute the episode, called "Sugartime!," to its 349 stations. She said the Education Department's objections were not a factor in that decision.

"Ultimately, our decision was based on the fact that we recognize this is a sensitive issue, and we wanted to make sure that parents had an opportunity to introduce this subject to their children in their own time," said Lea Sloan, vice president of media relations at PBS.


So PBS gives cover to Margaret Spellings......

Using that logic, PBS shouldn't use footage of the Cheney-Edwards debate - when Mary Cheney and Partner Heather Poe got on stage with the Vice President after the debate. This would just be promoting that "lifestyle"....

Now Pat Mitchell, President of PBS has decided to leave at the end of her contract.

Days after coming under fire for flip-flopping on her support of an episode of the children's program "Postcards From Buster," PBS President and CEO Pat Mitchell announced that she would not seek a third three-year term.

*****************snip****************************

According to one source with knowledge of the situation, PBS staffers had been prepared to stand behind the episode and were taken by surprise when Mitchell "pulled the rug out from under them."

Sloan told The TV Column yesterday that the reason she told the Globe that Mitchell was satisfied with the content was because Mitchell "was personally comfortable with the episode."

But that weekend, after conversations with a number of PBS stations and "national leadership," Sloan said, Mitchell changed her mind.

The PBS stations, according to Sloan, had asked Mitchell to "please don't put us in the position in which you feed the show to them and then they have to make the call in their communities" whether to air it.

Asked how many stations Mitchell had heard from, Sloan said it was her impression that there were a dozen. PBS includes more than 340 TV stations.


EY: Good riddance to her. This should have been easy to defend in the battle of public opinion. I just donated to TPT locally because they didn't fall for this nonsense.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

So Called "Pro-Life" Groups have no position on birth control

Strange.....

In this week's edition of the conservative Weekly Standard, Naral placed an advertisement asking abortion rights groups to "please, help us prevent abortions" by increasing access to birth control.

But Carol Tobias, political director for the National Right to Life Foundation, dismissed the invitation as an effort "to get the pro-life movement into a debate over birth control," on which her organization takes no position. Ms. Tobias called the Democrats' talk "pulling the wool over the eyes of voters."


So why won't the National Right to Life Foundation support common sense steps to reduce and prevent the need for abortion?

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Crystal Meth, Unsafe Sex and New Drug Resistant HIV Strains

From the New York Times:

"Gay men do not have the right to spread a debilitating and often fatal disease," said Charles Kaiser, a historian and author of "The Gay Metropolis." "A person who is H.I.V.-positive has no more right to unprotected intercourse than he has the right to put a bullet through another person's head," he said.

While not endorsing specific strategies, even mainstream organizations like the Gay Men's Health Crisis support the idea of trying methods that would have been anathema a few years ago. "It makes a community stronger when we take care of ourselves," said Ana Oliveira, the organization's executive director, "and if that means that we have to be much more present and intervene with people who are doing this to themselves and others, then so be it."

For many others, however, even talk of such steps provokes hand-wringing. "We don't want public health vigilantes going out and taking matters into their own hands, particularly if it means breaching the confidentially and civil rights of people with H.I.V.," said Jon Givner, the director of the H.I.V. Project at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. "Frankly, I find it pretty scary."


This sounds like Randy Shilts's And the Band Played On all over again. The debate continues:

A more effective approach, he said, would involve gay organizations using traditional public health measures, such as more widespread screening and a partner-notification effort to track users of crystal meth who have been infected recently.

"Why would it not be possible to get them together to communicate to each other, and then to their sex partners, that lives are being put at risk by reckless behavior?" he asked. "I think there are ways to do interventions ethically, sensitively and compassionately. There's a huge window of opportunity between criminalization and empty prevention messages."

Still, others remain wary of such measures. Walt Odets, a clinical psychologist and the author of "In the Shadow of the Epidemic: Being HIV-Negative in the Age of AIDS," said he thought such intervention smacked of a witch hunt.

He and others said it would be more effective to try to identify the underlying causes of drug abuse and self-destructive behavior, including the difficulty of living in a society that rejects committed gay relationships while condemning homosexuals for having sex outside those relationships. Gay men, he said, are using methamphetamines as an anti-depressant.


This is nonsensical enabling of irresponsible - and potentially lethal - behavior. It's just the notion of celebrating sexual license, rather than escaping oppression. There are parts of gay male culture that do this.

Stephen Bennett - the Posterboy Ex-Gay - rather predictably is exploiting the situation:

As a former homosexual, Bennett has buried numerous lovers and friends in
the ground who have died from AIDS. Bennett left the "gay" lifestyle in 1992 after 11 years. He is now married almost 12 years to his wife and the father of their two children.

"For years the Center for Disease Control has been warning Americans of the increase in HIV infection, with homosexual male sex being the predominant cause (upwards of 60% or more of all cases reported.) Yet even within such a high risk group, homosexuals continue to engage in risky, deadly behavior.

While young 'gay' men are dying early deaths, the media, schools and state governments continue to promote this deadly lifestyle. It was a miracle I was never infected with HIV. No doubt, if I continued in my homosexual lifestyle, I would probably be dead today myself," said Bennett.


Sexual irresponsibility is a problem - whether practiced by gays or straights. Ofcourse the Leviticus Crowd promotes the notion that "condoms don't work" in the "abstinence only" curriculum - this is also a lethal message. Condoms used properly do significantly reduce (though do not eliminate) HIV transmission.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Pioneer Press Comparison of Knoblach and Bachmann

Here
.

Two Republicans — State Sen. Michele Bachmann, of Stillwater, and state Rep. Jim Knoblach, of St. Cloud — today officially jumped into the 2006 race for Congress.

They are vying for the endorsement for the seat now occupied by U.S. Rep. Mark Kennedy. Kennedy on Friday said he would run for U.S. Senate in 2006.

Bachmann made her announcement in the St. Paul State Office Building at a press conference filled with supporters. Knoblach's announcement was lower key — he simply walked around the offices of the state Capitol press corps to spread the word that he was in the race.

Knoblach, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman, said he avoided a splashy announcement because he wanted to make clear that his first priority right now is the Legislature.

The two differed in the major issues they chose to highlight in their bids for the 6th District, which stretches from St. Croix Valley to Anoka and Wright counties north to St. Cloud and Sherburne, Stearns and Benton counties.

Bachmann mentioned national security, "the rights of the unborn," the push to define marriage as only between one man and one woman, education and a Social Security overhaul including privatization.

Knoblach said health care, transportation, the federal deficit and homeland security would be his top priorities.

Both Knoblach and Bachmann said they would vacate the race if Kennedy were to decide to run against for his 6th District seat.


Knoblach scored an excellent point with this article. Bachmann is a relentless self promoter, while he's busy at the legislature doing the people's business.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Bloggers and Journalists

Reliable Sources has covered the Eason Jordan/Jeff Gannon stories. Transcript here. Jeff Jarvis comments.

Jay Rosen asks whether the Eason Jordan story is Blog Storm Troopers or Pack Journalism at its best.

Stonewall DFL Endorsements

Minneapolis City Council Member Robert Lilligren posted on the Minneapolis Issues forum about a Stonewall DFL endorsement meeting.

There were endorsements in several ward races where only one candidate requested to be screened; Wards 1 (Ostrow), 4 (Johnson), 5 (Samuels), 6 (Lilligren), 7 (Goodman), and 9 (Schiff). In Ward 3 Hofstede was endorsed strongly on the first ballot, as was Bernard in a large, strong field in 10. The real contest of the day was in Ward 8 which went to the fourth ballot and endorsed Tifft. There was a vote for no endorsement in Ward 2 after one balanced ballot.

In the mayor's race Rybak was not found "acceptable" by SDFL. Speeches were made in favor of this action citing his disregard of the party endorsement, past work against DFL endorsed candidates, and deliberately dividing communities (the police chief debate was used as one example). No speeches were made against. An acceptable rating by the caucus is perquisite to endorsement. McLaughlin was found acceptable and endorsed.

There was only one contest in the library and park races. Kummer was easily
endorsed on the first ballot.


Several of the noble freethinkers of Minneapolis Issues responded.

Yours Truly:

Oh gee, this must have been entertaining. Was this past work against DFL endorsed candidates referring to Rybak's support of Don Samuels over DFL endorsed Olin Moore?

I assume what Robert meant by the Police Chief issue, is that Stonewall perceived that Rybak was deliberately trying to divide gays from the African American communitee by pushing for McManus - rather than openly Lesbian Sharon Lubinski for police chief. The Police Chief issue is legitimately a GLBT issue - but I've
never understood why Stonewall uses candidate history of going against DFL endorsement as criteria. I'm not sure this was the case.

I assume Rybak did not make an abide by DFL endorsement pledge this time. Did McLaughlin make that pledge?


Tamir Nolley wrote:

I'm not much af a fan of RT Rybak these days, but I have to respond. Rybak's selection of McManus to be police chief was one of the few times that the Mayor actually tried to bring the community together as opposed to dividing it....and in fact the community came together overwhelmingly for the new police chief.


Barb Lickness wrote:

Tamir, you are neither gay or black. How can you speak with such certainty about how the black community or gay community felt about the police cheif decision and whether or not they were pitted against one another in a move to divide and conquer? Obviously, there were people at Stonewall today that thought that is exactly what happened and they spoke out about it.


Stonewall DFL posted an official statement to the Minneapolis Issues list the following day to make it clear that Stonewall DFL had not endorsed - but rather made some recommendations which would be confirmed by the Stonewall DFL board of directors.

Tim Bonham, an unofficial historian for Stonewall DFL gives some more background.

Most notably:

Certainly nobody at this meeting put RT Rybak in the same class as Michelle Bachmann, or suggested vengeance toward him (just Dyna on this list). At the meeting he was well received and applauded. And RT Rybak did not "defy the DFL endorsement"; if you remember, there was no DFL endorsement for Mayor in 2001.


Actually Rybak in 2001 made no promise to abide by DFL endorsement. Sharon Sayles Belton did promise to abide by DFL endorsement. It is true that the DFL endorsement was blocked.

Developing. . .

David Strom says Bachmann and Yecke are "Moderate Women"

On Channel 5's At Issue today, David Strom of the Taxpayer's League referred to Michele Bachmann and Cheri Pierson Yecke as "moderate women". This was in the context of discussing the 6th congressional district race.

Ember Reichgott Junge disputed that assessment but didn't elaborate.

Bachmann has gotten to be well known mainly for her single minded obscession with trying to prevent gays from being able to marry - or to have any legal protections for their relationships.

More background on Michele Bachmann is available here.

There are links to Bachmann's website, her radio shows with Olive Tree Ministries. Bachmann says different things to the mainstream press and to radio shows from Olive Tree Ministries.

Full Disclosure: I started the Dump Bachmann blog. I am looking for others willing to help contribute to this blog. Email me offline if you are interested. Please put "DumpBachmann" in the subject line.

Yecke is known for among other things, promoting "equal time" for "Intelligent Design" Creationism to be taught in Biology Classes.

Yecke also did not intervene until pressured from some Science Committee members when a Creationist sent a threatening letter to the committee. More about this here.

Science Standards committee chair, Duane Quam defends the threatening letter here.