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Friday, April 08, 2005

Morris Students put Intelligent Design Creationist in his place

Pharyngula describes this here.

The best part of the evening, though, was when Nelson opened up the floor to questions. He was kept hopping for the next hour and a half; a few of us faculty spoke up, but mainly it was our students who hammered him with awkward questions. You know, simple stuff like asking him for evidence for ID. A few mentioned the negative nature of his argument, and reminded him that "having open questions is not a shortcoming". I was impressed and proud, although I can't take credit for it: we don't have any classes where we specifically coach our students in critiquing creationists, although they do get a grounding in what to expect of a good scientific theory. Nelson kept up a cheerful front, but I don't think the Q&A was going in exactly the direction he expected.

In fact, in that 90 minutes of grilling, he only got one comment from a pro-creationist attendee, and it was basically, "it's all a matter of opinion; there aren't any transitional fossils; and evolution is all based on faith, anyway." To Nelson's credit, he looked more uncomfortable with that ill-informed point than all the criticisms he was getting. It must be hard to live with the fact that all of your friends are morons.

Man, though, but our students are good. I left that talk feeling very optimistic, that there is hope for the future of science in this country when our students can be that strong and informed and critical.

I hope Nelson can now convince his pals at the Discovery Institute to send a few more sacrificial lambs out to friendly UMM. The students would have a grand time eating Dembski and Behe and Meyer and Richards and whoever alive. Hey, maybe we could agree to send just the freshman class up against them. Not that it would change the outcome, but it would prolong the sport a bit more.

Voters in Minnesota Rally for Gay Equality

Carson at Minnesota Liberal has photos.

Michele Bachmann predictably, made an effort to circumvent the committee process and bring this amendment to the floor. This effort lost. All DFLers, Sheila Kiscaden (I), and Paul Koering (R) voted against this effort. The rest of the Republicans voted for it.

I talked with Ann DeGroot and Monica Meyers at Outfront Minnesota (the Minnesota Statewide GLBT organization), and they expect that Bachmann will bring this up again Monday and Tuesday next week. After Tuesday, it will require two thirds vote to bring this amendment to the floor.

Carson posted more about the rally at Dump Michele Bachmann blog.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Voters Rally for Gay Equality at the Capitol

Carson at Minnesota Liberal has photos.

Michele Bachmann predictably, made an effort to circumvent the committee process and bring this amendment to the floor. This effort lost. All DFLers, Sheila Kiscaden (I), and Paul Koering (R) voted against this effort. The rest of the Republicans voted for it.

I talked with Ann DeGroot and Monica Meyers at Outfront, and they expect that Bachmann will bring this up again Monday and Tuesday next week. After Tuesday, it will require two thirds vote to bring this amendment to the floor.

Lloydletta Gets An Award

Thanks North Dallas Thirty:

Next up is the "Get the Hell Out of My Chair, Koppel and Rather" Award for Lloydletta, aka Eva Young, whose coverage of this story has been fair, balanced, exhaustive, and cross-linked beyond compare -- my blogroll has exploded since I started tracking through her.

Martinez's Staff Admits to Writing Schiavo "Talking Points" Memo

John Aravosis has the story.

But for Hindrocket at Powerline, the black helicopters are still circling.

One more thought: The story as we currently have it does not account for the two versions of the memo, the second of which corrected three of the typos in the first draft. I have no idea what that means, except that the story as we are currently getting it from the AP, the Washington Post, and Senator Martinez does not account for all of the known facts.

As mentioned earlier, Big Trunk has been skeptical of Hindrocket's conspiracy theory from the beginning.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

First there was the Bachmann Amendment, and Now the Betzold Amendment

CORRECTION: OutFront Minnesota's Press Release referred to last year's effort. OutFront's Press release is from last year, not this year. Lloydletta regrets the error.

State Senator Don Betzold has introduced an amendment to court strip. Andy at Eleventh Avenue South has the scoop. Unlike last year when this identical amendment was introduced in the Senate, and Outfront stayed silent, they are now opposing this amendment.

Apparently this amendment passed in the Judiciary Committee - by our "friends" the Democrats. (UPDATE: This passed out of the Judiciary Committee last year. This year Betzold has introduced this amendment, but the issue has not been heard in the Judiciary committee. I understand this is an underhanded way of trying to kill the Bachmann amendment, but the wording of this amendment is still of major concern.)

From the OutFront Press Release:

Press Release:
OutFront Minnesota Rejects
Senate Attempt At "Compromise"
Anti-Marriage Language

March 26, 2004 - For immediate release.

(Minneapolis) - Responding to pressure from opponents of equal civil marriage rights for same-sex couples, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to approve a
new proposal to amend the Minnesota Constitution, an extreme disappointment to OutFront Minnesota, the state's leading organization serving the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and its allies.

"Although less offensive than the initial proposal, in that it preserves the Legislature's power to authorize marriages or other legal frameworks for same-sex couples, the Betzold amendment approved today nonetheless would have the effect of hanging a 'gays not welcome' sign on the door of every courthouse in Minnesota," said Ann M. DeGroot, Executive Director of OutFront Minnesota.

The revised amendment language, proposed by Sen. Don Betzold (D – Fridley), does not ban either same-sex marriage or civil unions, as originally sought by Sen. Michelle Bachmann (R – Stillwater). However, the Betzold language would strip Minnesota's courts of their hitherto unchallenged power to interpret the State Constitution when it comes to issues related to legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

"Regardless of the difference in language, the reality is that today's vote by the Judiciary Committee keeps alive divisive, election-year efforts to marginalize our families and our community," said OutFront Minnesota Public Policy Director Monica Meyer. "Today's committee vote moves Minnesota one step closer to the creation of permanent second-class citizenship for our state's GLBT community."

Contact: Monica Meyer, Public Policy Director
(612) 822-0127, ext. 115

Ann M. DeGroot, Executive Director
(612) 822-0127, ext. 107

This is a totally unprincipled move by the Senate Democrats, since this amendment will most likely be found unconstitutional. This means the Senate Democrats are voting to increase taxes to defend an unconstitutional constitutional amendment.

Log Cabin Republicans and USA Next

There was a panel discussion about "Reforming Social Security" at the Log Cabin Republicans convention. A letter signed by a coalition of conservative groups, including Log Cabin Republicans urging social security privitization was distributed during this panel. Mike Rogers at BlogActive has an image of the letter. USA Next - the group that used an anti-gay ad to attack AARP also signed this letter.

I asked the panel specifically about the anti-gay ad, and the panelist from the Cato Institute told me that Cato had made a statement condemning this ad. Here is Cato's statement:

Conservative Group Launches AARP Attack

"USA Next, a conservative group planning a campaign attacking AARP over its stance on Social Security and other issues, ran an Internet advertisement on Monday linking the group to support for same-sex marriage," the New York Times reports.

"Officials at USA Next said the advertisement was a test, but maintained that they planned to attack AARP, the powerhouse lobby for older Americans, on the issue of same-sex marriage. AARP is a significant opponent of President Bush's Social Security plan."

Michael Tanner, director of the Cato Institute's Project on Social Security Choice comments: "The merits of individual accounts are indisputable and the intellectual argument for reform is compelling. Cato and other pro-reform groups believe that the Social Security debate represents a tremendous opportunity for political bridge-building and for gays and ethnic minorities to feel included in the national debate over retirement issues.

Social Security reform with individual accounts has great appeal for minorities, gays, and women -- indeed for all Americans. USA Next's commercials are offensive and counter-productive. They are a great strategic blunder and wrong in principle."

Kristen Kestner, editor,

R Kane at Central Front comments:

The LCR and USA Next? Talk about strange bedfellows.

[UPDATE: I wanted to point out in the interest of clarity that this is a letter regarding Social Security reform that the LCR is on record as supporting. There were also several other organizations which signed the letter in question. I know the LCR is supportive of Republican policies but seeing the LCR logo on any letter with USA Next, an organization that has blatantly used homophobia as a political weapon, seems a little odd.]

As I commented on the CentralFront blog:

That's a fair point. I asked Chris Barron and the Cato Institute panelist on social security. The Cato Institute put out a press release condemning the USA Next Ad. This was done in the interest of being part of a coalition. I understand the reasoning, but I too am troubled with having LCR's good name fouled by being next to USA Next on this letter.

Chuck Muth on the Anti-Gay Ex-Gay James Hartline's Fatwa on the San Diego Party Chair

This is an update on the story Lloydletta Nooz reported on earlier.

Chuck always has a way with words.

Which brings me to a chap by the name of James Hartline.

On March 26 Hartline issued a fatwa on the San Diego County Republican Party chairman, Ron Nehring, and called on his local supporters to commence with a modern-day exodus from the GOP. In an exclamation point-filled email to fellow Christian crusaders, Hartline proclaims hysterically: “It is time for Christians to speak up, step out and tell the big-tent, anything goes Republican leadership in San Diego that the hundreds of thousands of Christian voters in San Diego have had enough!!! We are not going to take it anymore and we are leaving your party until you represent us totally and honestly!!!”

Boy, he sure has his tights in a twist, huh? So what exactly did Chairman Nehring do to get Mr. Hartline’s nose so bent out of shape?


But in Mr. Hartline’s world, Nehring is the political anti-Christ.

“Ron Nehring, chairman of the San Diego Republican Party has taken one too many chances with the county’s conservative base,” Hartline says. “This time he has gone too far. First, there was his overt support for pro-abortion, pro-homosexual, anti-christian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. But now, Nehring has gone too far.”

What sin, pray tell, did Nehring commit to so animate Mr. Hartline...other than being a Republican Party chairman who overtly supports the state’s Republican governor (duh)?

Well, it was “one of the most disrespectful things Nehring could have done to Christians in San Diego.”

He agreed to speak at a meeting of the local Log Cabin Republican organization (gasp!).

Imagine that, a Republican Party chairman agreeing to speak to a Republican affiliate organization.

The problem is, in case you didn’t know, that Log Cabin is an organization of gay Republicans.

But here’s the kicker. James Hartline is a former homosexual himself.

And you thought ex-SMOKERS were bad?

"I am immediately divorcing myself from the California Republican Party until Nehring is gone and the Republican Party in San Diego stops endorsing such evil pro-abortion, pro-homosexual candidates like Arnold Schwarzenegger," Hartline continues in his email declaration. "I will now register as an independent. I am asking all Christians in San Diego to drop their Republican Party affiliation, and register Independent, until Ron Nehring is gone and the party cleans house of its pro-homosexual agenda. We no longer care about party affiliation. The Republicans have taken us for granted and we demand party revival along righteous, Biblical standards. Nothing else will be acceptable from this day forward!"

These kinds of political threats from these kinds of Christian zealots are really getting tiresome. My response to Mr. Hartline would be pretty simple: Adios. Which is pretty much what I told him in an email message after I received his fatwa on Nehring. THAT elicited this e-outburst from the queer-hating former queer:

"We are interested in Christians running the Republican Party and not those that are pushing a secular agenda, which Nehring is. I have many contacts in the churches in San Diego, including my church, the 2,000 member Mission Valley Christian Fellowship, where I am the legislative liaison, and we will be pushing for Bible based politics. Nehring IS NOT our friend. I have been a supporter of the Republican party, nationally, but no longer in San Diego, until Nehring and his secular-based ilk are gone. I can promise you that I will have a major role in a revolt from the San Diego Republican Party. Nehring’s catering to homosexuals in San Diego, must go!"

To which I called him a loony-tune and suggested he’d be better off finding a new fringe political party where he'd be more at home. I also advised him not to let the door hit him on his way out of the GOP. To which Mr. Hatline responded:

"I will be supplying your email to my 2,400 Christians readers in San Diego and you need to do a check on who I am. I am the individual that just removed the nudists groups out of Santee and Escondido, California. I am the person that has led the charge to save the Mt. Soledad Cross in La Jolla and brought 350 Christians to the city council. I am also the person that just exposed the Bishop of San Diego and will be seeing his removal. You just challenged the wrong person. To challenge me, means you have challenged tens of thousands of Christians in San Diego who are standing with me. I will also be supplying your email to my media contacts here in San Diego. Let's see what the media thinks of your disrespecting me. Let’s see what the church’s think of your disrespecting me."

Awfully full of himself, ain't he? Isn’t vanity one of the deadly sins?

Oh, here’s the deal on the bishop reference...

Hartline somehow pressured San Diego Catholic Bishop Robert Brom to ban a funeral Mass for a deceased local gay business owner last week. The bishop has since apologized to the man’s parents...which outraged Hartline, who then called the bishop "totally spineless." I guess he’s issuing a fatwa on the bishop as well as Nehring now.

Anyway, Hartline is the kind of religious nut who gives all Christians a bad name. Not because he believes what he believes...but that he believes the rest of us should be forced, by government and the Republican Party, to believe what he believes. The San Diego GOP will be better off if this kook does, indeed, pick up his loose marbles and goes home. But if he insists on picking a political fight with Ron money's on Nehring. He'll clean Hartline’s political clock every day...and twice on Sunday.

I'd never heard of Hartline until Chuck told me about him. It seems that there is a never ending supply of these wackjobs. They do need to start their own party.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

No Bonding Funds for Colin Powell Center

I talked with Linda Koblick, Hennepin County Commissioner, at the Minnesota Women's Political Caucus "Founding Feminist" event. She told me that the bonding bill ended up including the Planetarium as the only Minneapolis project getting funds. I talked with several state legislators at this event, telling them that this particular project was a poor use of funds.

Senator Linda Higgins also confirmed this on the Minneapolis Issues list:

The Colin Powell center funding was stripped from the bill
yesterday. At that point the Planetarium was in for $20 million, and $2
million from the CP center went to the Planetarium.

Developing. . .

Lloydletta vs GayPatriot

Dan Blatt at GayPatriot continues to misrepresent the Log Cabin Republicans convention in New Orleans. I posted this in the comments.

There was debate at this convention on the panel about marriage - and it was a vigorous debate between pushing for civil unions and having the government get out of the marriage business all together - or whether the goal should be getting marriage to be an institution that includes gays.

My guess is if Perkins or his ilk got invited, he wouldn't come. Perkins showed his colors with not wanting Log Cabin at a CPAC panel about the issue at CPAC.

Are you suggesting that Log Cabin Republicans should debate whether to support the FMA or similar state amendments?

Do you think gays should NEVER use the courts to get redress? Why?

There was no opposing view on the panel about Social Security. Not all Log Cabin Republicans members support the official Log Cabin Republicans position on that issue. It's interesting how you didn't mention that panel.

So Dan - tell us, how would you vote on the Minnesota amendment to the constitution - which would ban gay marriage or legal equivalents?

I'm trying to figure out the difference between Mike Rogers having his "undercover" folks getting embarrassing pictures of people at the convention to misrepresent what the convention was about from the left, and Dan Blatt aka GayPatriotWest printing the un-substantiated allegations from a disgruntled fired employee and pushing to get Patrick Guerriero fired.

So give it up, Dan - who is funding GayPatriot? I'd like to see more transparency from Log Cabin Republicans - and I'd like to see it from "Gaypatriot Media".

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Minnesota House Passes Hate Amendment

Coverage here.

13 Democrats voted in favor of this, and 3 republicans voted against. The vote is available on OutFront's website here.

The strategy with OutFront has been to ignore the house and only focus on the Senate. That's unfortunate. It leaves very little room for error.

Three Republicans voted against this: Ray Cox, Ron Erhardt and Doug Meslow. Dan Dornan voted for stripping the civil union portion of the bill. Ron Abrams didn't vote on this bill. Last year he had voted for the amendment.

13 Democrats voted in favor of this bill including Bev Scalze and Denise Dietrich.

Mary Cheney Under a Gag Rule on her personal life while at the Bush Campaign

From Central Front: is reporting:

"Republican political strategist Mary Matalin, the head of Simon & Schuster's new conservative publishing subdivision, Threshold, said that Cheney was barred from discussing her personal life while working as a top aide on her father's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, but that the memoir will give her an opportunity to speak her mind." [hat]

So I guess we now know why she couldn't. She was barred from discussing her personal life. Now the $500,000 question is, will Mary Cheney address this in her book and give her opinion on how it felt to be openly gay yet barred from speaking about her life. As many times as those grandchildren were trotted before the cameras, I would bet her heterosexual married sibling didn't receive the same treatment in regards to their personal life.

I hope Mary Cheney does speak out. I'm sure she influenced her father to oppose the Federal Marriage Amendment.

Log Cabin Republicans/Liberty Education Council Convention

I had a wonderful time at the convention. I saw lots of old friends - Andy Eddy, Dave Kaplan (who is running for City Council in Des Moines, Washington - more on that race later), Dan Blatt aka GayPatriot, Frank Richiazzi the Godfather of Log Cabin Repubicans, Bill Brownson, Board Chair of Log Cabin Republicans and many others. There were also alot of new faces. The club reports were very interesting. There is a club starting in Colorado Springs - James Dobson's home town.

Andy Eddy from Broward County Florida had been keeping materials from his long tenure being active with Log Cabin in Florida. Unfortunately much of this got destroyed in the hurricane. I am very interested in trying to find a location that is interested in being a repository to archive Log Cabin materials.

I also was extremely impressed by the annual report presented by Patrick Guerriero, President of Log Cabin Repubicans. He gave us overall numbers on the budget, numbers of members, and numbers of subscribers to inclusion wins. We had never gotten this much information (even as a board) when Log Cabin Republicans was run by Rich Tafel.

Dan Blatt asked LCR board member Karen Cookson about the Bush endorsement and suggested that endorsement discussion didn't include members. Karen very ably defended the organization and how much outreach they had done with clubs before making that decision. Dan now has posted about a lawsuit filed against Log Cabin Republicans by a disgruntled fired employee. This is something that will be decided through the courts. Just because something is on a press release doesn't mean it's so. Christian Grantham also posted the press release about the lawsuit.

I've never been to New Orleans before. So I've had alot of fun seeing the city.