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Saturday, May 14, 2005

Family Research Head Tony Perkins' Oped in WaPO

Here.

During his nationally televised press conference April 28, President Bush was asked about the Family Research Council's allegation that some of his judicial nominees have been filibustered because of their faith. After considerable probing by MSNBC's David Gregory, the president said he believed that in fact his nominees were being subjected to these stalling tactics not because of their religious beliefs but because of their "judicial philosophy."

Well, I agree with the president that some Democratic senators have targeted the judicial philosophy of the nominees. But that judicial philosophy has been scrutinized and scorned in several cases precisely because of the nominee's belief system or faith -- not because of his or her record. After all, it was Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) -- not the Family Research Council -- who launched an inquiry into one key nominee's "deeply held personal beliefs." Schumer didn't challenge the nominee's "deeply held judicial philosophy," but rather his beliefs.


And what were those personal beliefs? In the case of former Alabama attorney general William Pryor, as with other filibustered nominees, it appears that it was the nominee's personal views on abortion, homosexuality and other matters on which Catholic and evangelical churches have clear positions that are contrary to those of liberal Democrats and their allies. Pryor failed the Democrats' test because he had spoken out, as a Catholic, saying that abortion is an abomination. He was also questioned about postponing a family vacation with his young children to Disney World because he found out it coincided with "Gay Days" at the park.

Leon Holmes and his wife were put to the test because he wrote an article for a church newsletter about the relationship between husbands and wives based upon Ephesians 5:22-25. Judge Charles Pickering was questioned about a statement he made as the head of the Mississippi Southern Baptist Convention, in which he said that the Bible is an "absolute authority" for human conduct -- a standard that just about any religious person would hold. A group called American Atheists blasted Pickering for these statements, even though they were made outside the scope of any government duties or judicial office. The National Organization for Women also attacked Pickering on religious grounds, citing his advice to convicted criminals to consult prison ministries (they have a marked impact on reducing the recidivism rate among convicts, and participation is voluntary) and his occasional use of biblical quotations in his opinions. (By the way, a judge who writes that "the love of money is the root of all evil" or mentions the "lilies of the field" is quoting from the Bible.)

Having "deeply held personal beliefs" such as these was enough to set the liberal pressure groups on edge and trigger filibusters. The pattern that has emerged is that any nominees who hold to the traditional tenets of their faith as a guide for life, whether they be Catholic, Protestant or Jewish, fail the litmus test, the liberal loyalty oath, that is being employed by some Senate Democrats. Faith is acceptable as long as it remains unknown, or is applied only to personal beliefs about such matters as poverty and capital punishment. Call this standard a litmus test on abortion, a de facto screening for religious conviction, or a demand for fealty to the Democratic Party platform -- whatever it's called, the results are the same.

The sometimes subtle, too often open, campaign against orthodox religious views is too important an issue for us to simply turn our heads and ignore the truth. Left unchecked, the climate of intimidation against religious voices will empty the public square of many of its most-needed voices. Our children, and our children's children, must never be asked to choose between publicly acknowledging their faith by teaching a Sunday school or catechism class and serving in high public office. We must never reward those whose methods of inquiry involve carrying tape recorders into private meetings, Bible study, church services and the chambers of conscience.

In their zeal to preserve an imperial judiciary, liberals have taken abuse of the confirmation process to a new low. The way out is to vote on each nominee on his or her merits.

The writer is president of the Family Research Council.


He doesn't seem to like it too much that Bush distanced himself from the Leviticus Crowd at that press conference.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Nebraska Hate Amendment Dumped by the Courts

The Usual Suspects will be whining about "activist judges".

Hat Tip: Robin at PowerLiberal.

This goes way beyond striking down DOMAs. I have to read over the text of the decision a little bit before I can offer up too much in the way of cogent thoughts, but at the very least this seems to signal that opponents of gay marriage are now going to have to push for a national constitutional amendment to legalize their bigotry.


Americablog has additional analysis.

This time, we can't respond with a policy discussion. We need to play hard ball politics right back. And, let's call this debate what it is....a coordinated campaign of gay-bashing by Republican leaders. This year, let's push back very, very hard. Ask the GOP where will it lead. After they set us aside in the US Constitution, what else is in the right wing's plan for gays and lesbians in America? Everytime they say the term "homosexual agenda," we need to ask what their agenda is for homosexuals.

They want this debate, they'll get it. But this year, it will be on our terms, not theirs.


I'd agree with this except for putting all Republicans in this box. This issue is being debated internally within the party. It's a coordinated campaign by the theocratic wing of the Republican party.

Chuck Muth comments in his e-newsletter:

MARRIAGE BAN STRUCK DOWN

Social conservatives are having a cow over yesterday's court decision striking down Nebraska's recently-passed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. A couple of points being lost in the hysteria...

1.) Defenders of the ban, supposedly conservatives, point to the fact that the ban was approved by an overwhelming majority of voters - seventy percent. These are the same conservatives who, on other issues, berate liberals for not understanding that we are a constitutional republic, not a democracy. If 99% of Nebraskans voted to bring back slavery...if wouldn't matter. No can do.

While there may be legitimate objections to the judge's decision in this matter, the "popularity" of the public vote on it ain't one of 'em.

2.) It should be noted that 40 states now have laws banning same-sex marriages; however, Nebraska is the ONLY state which also, as reported by the Associated Press, "prevented homosexuals who work for the state or its university system from sharing health insurance and other benefits with their partners."

Nebraskans simply went too far. They didn't just ban gay "marriage," they penalized gay couples in general for non-"marriage"-related benefits. Religious right leader James Dobson called the judge in the decision a "judicial tyrant," but the reality is that it was anti-gay over-reaching and tyranny of the majority which did this law in.


Chuck Muth is a card carrying member of the vast right wing conspiracy who also has been a huge ally of the gay community in trying to get limited government conservative opposition to these amendments - at federal and state levels. He has a site, Lawfully Wedded, which is dedicated to defeating the Federal Marriage Amendment. I've met him at the 1999 Log Cabin Republicans Convention.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Lloydletta's Nooz Makes the Skeptics Circle

We're in great company over there. Check it out. PZ Myers from Pharyngula is hosting.

Craig Westover continues to comment on Same Sex Marriage

Here. Well worth reading.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Spokane's Mayor Jim West

There's been lots of discussion about Spokane Mayor Jim West being outed by a local paper. Over on Americablog, Joe in DC lambasts Log Cabin/Washington President Dave Kaplan for saying that West wasn't anti-gay. I'm not sure whether West was anti-gay or not, but since he supported legislation to ban gays from teaching, I'd say that at the minimum he supported anti-gay legislation. Opposing employement non-discrimination bills or hate crimes bills isn't an anti-gay position. However supporting bills to require discrimination against gays is clearly anti-gay. As is supporting state or federal amendments to write anti-gay discrimination in the constitution. However even though I disagree with Dave Kaplan's assessment on West (and this is from reading about the case from media reports without any local knowledge), I feel that Joe in DC's post is over the top and personal in attacking Dave Kaplan. The comments for that thread about Dave Kaplan are personal and nasty. I know Kaplan from Log Cabin Republicans conventions. Kaplan has always promoted a Log Cabin Republicans direction that pushes for fairness for gays. Kaplan was opposed to a Bush endorsement from Log Cabin Republicans in both 2000 and 2004 - so the predictable "Jews for Hitler" or "Uncle Tom" epithet certainly doesn't fit Dave.

Mike Rogers from the Outing blog, Blogactive has some trouble with the Spokane Reviews tactics.

Here.

Oh, Don't get me wrong...
Jim West is a hypocritical pig who deserved exactly what he got.

I must question, however, some of the reporting techniques, inlcuding the reproduction of chats in the paper and the use of fake screennames with fake underage chatters. there's a bit of entrapment, maybe? I'll he writing more on this over the next couple of days.
Mike Rogers


GayPatriotWest has had a number of posts on this topic. Money quote:

But, it appears that, in all this reporting, there may be two newsworthy issues, one of concern to the citizens of Spokane and the other for criminal prosecutors.

The first, for the citizens of Spokane who elected him in 2003, is whether or not the mayor used city computers or city time to access gay chat sites.

The second issue for criminal prosecutors is whether or not he was involved (as has been alleged) in child molestation in the 1970s. If so, he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. West has denied the allegations. He should also be prosecuted if he used Internet chatrooms to solicit sex with minors.


This got the rather predictable discussion of how useless Log Cabin Republicans are - and talked about how all Log Cabin Republicans do is organize cocktail parties. North Dallas Thirty wrote:

Perhaps you'd like to make those remarks to the face of commenter Eva Young, aka Lloydletta, the immediate past President of Minnesota LCR and an impeccably-credentialed activist with a strong record of getting things done and making a real difference, both inside AND outside her party. Go ahead and tell her she's "ineffective" because all she does is "plan cocktail parties", or that the only purpose she and her organization serve is as some sort of dating service for straightacting closeted gay men.

Fortunately for you, Eva is used to being berated by people who know not of what they speak -- and her response is invariably matter-of-fact and classy.

Your responses, Demesne Lord and None, are instructive of one of the biggest issues facing gay activism today -- people who think it gives them the right to stereotype and bash others. Those of us who have had to actually deal with hostile territory, instead of merely surrounding ourselves with syncophants, are aware of the fact that being gay or claiming to speak for gays does not grant you the right to be a jerk and have adjusted our behavior accordingly.


Thanks NDT. I really appreciate that.

Drinking Liberally

I stopped by the Drinking Liberally event tonight. I got a chance to meet Craig Westover - aka "Captain Fishsticks" for the first time. I've appreciated Craig's posts opposing the Bachmann amendment.

Robin from Powerliberal and Mark from Norwegianity were other bloggers at this event.

Peroutka Criticizes Laura Bush's Correspondance Dinner Speech

Hat tip: Andrew Gettis.

Dear Friends of the Constitutional Republic,

Several months ago, I criticized the public remarks of the Bush twin daughters at the Republican National Convention as foolish, embarrassing and dishonorable to their parents. When I began my critique, I asked: Is it just me or did anybody else cringe and feel sorry for our country because of what these young women had to say?

Well, I've had a similar reaction, and would ask this same question, concerning First Lady Laura Bush's recent remarks at the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington DC.

In a well-rehearsed routine that was supposed to be funny - but was not - Mrs. Bush began by stepping to the podium and interrupting her husband who was speaking. Referring to the President as "Mr. Excitement," she noted that on a typical evening he was sound asleep by 9 p.m. and she was watching the TV show "Desperate Housewives" with Vice President Dick Cheney's wife Lynne. Noting that she was a desperate housewife, Mrs. Bush added: "If those women on that show think they are desperate, they ought to be with George."

One reviewer has said that if this sleazy show had a subtitle, "it would be 'sex and the suburbs'" - illicit sex, of course, sex outside of marriage. Referring to this program's "dark take on American domestic life," the reviewer noted that various episodes have been about "betrayal, an affair, an accident, a cover-up, an arrest, a murder, a burial and a memorable scene involving a urine sample."

Mrs. Bush also said that one night, after the President went to bed, she and Mrs. Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and [Bush adviser] Karen Hughes "went to Chippendales." She said she wouldn't say what happened but Mrs. Cheney's Secret Service code name is now

"Dollar Bill." A "Washington Times" story describes Chippendales as "a strip club where women tuck cash into male dancers' skimpy thongs."

Mrs. Bush said the President's mother was less like the "Andy Griffith Show's" character "Aunt Bea" and more like Mafia boss "Don Corleone." She made fun of her husband's inability to pronounce correctly the word "nuclear." And she said the President has learned a lot about ranching since he once tried to milk a horse - "what's worse, it was a male horse."

Ex-Roman Catholic priest and TV talk show host John McLaughlin is quoted in the "Washington Post" as saying, with a chuckle, about Mrs. Bush performance: "She was successful in disabusing any thoughts that she's a Christian fundamentalist extremist." Well, yes. I would say that she did this with vengeance.

Ironically, it was a liberal journalist who got it right. David Corn, a reporter for the far-Left "Nation" magazine said, of Mrs. Bush's standup routine: "It was very risque. I was wondering what the social conservatives and James Dobson had to say about all these jokes that were laced with sexual innuendo. Not a very family-values-type speech."

Several news reports have said that Mrs. Bush saying what she said was the president's idea.

In his historically instructive book "Myths In Stone: Religious Dimensions Of Washington, D.C." (University of California Press, 2001), Jeffrey F. Meyer, a professor of religion at the University of North Carolina, says this about President George Washington's concern about ceremony and domestic behavior:

"[He] sensed that everything he did was significant. From the procedures to be observed in high government rituals down to questions of domestic etiquette - how the president should relate to leading citizens and to ordinary citizens, what kind of house he should occupy, and what clothes he should wear. All of these issues, he realized, were expressive of the status of the president. He understood that all these items would, to use contemporary jargon, 'make a statement.'"

Indeed. And the same thing can be said about the behavior of a president's wife. The actions of a president's wife are significant and revelatory of the status of the office of First Lady. And what

Mrs. Bush has demonstrated is that the status of her being First Lady is not a pretty one.

One TV reporter noted that on this particular evening in Washington, D.C., all of us had seen "a side of Laura Bush that the public has never seen." I, for one, wish that Mrs. Bush had no such side but–since she does - that it had never been shown in public.

For God, Family, & the Republic,

Michael A. Peroutka

Conservative Columnist Craig Westover on Same Sex Marriage Reprise

Well worth reading here.

Westover will be a special guest at Drinking Liberally tonight. Be there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Kansas School Board Member Responds to my friend

This is posted with the permission of the school board member.

Dear ________, Thank you for your message. I do not support the current hearings nor do I support changing the definition of science to include supernatural explanations; unfortunately, I am in a minority of four on the state board. The six member majority on the state board seem determined to do both these things.

Kansas has a long history of very strong education. Kansas is rated in the top 10 of about anything that is used to measure educational quality nationally. That is one of the things that the minority on the state board finds so troublesome we feel the quality of our education system could be jeopardized as a result of this action to weaken science standards. Unfortunately, our minority of four votes will not stop the six member majority on the board from acting.

In 1999 the state board adopted science standards that seriously de-valued evolution. In 2000 the Kansas electorate removed three of the four members who voted for the 1999 flawed standards. I expect they will do the same in 2006.

Also, be aware this movement is in your state as well. Are you registered to vote and prepared to keep this element out of positions of authority in your state? Some of the six member majority were elected in Primary Elections with less than a 10% voter turnout.

Sincerely,

Sue Gamble

PS We have high quality graduates both from k-12 and higher education. I hope you will re-consider your comment and allow our young people to compete with all job applicants.


I do encourage people to send emails to the Kansas Board of Education. Here are the email addresses:

martinkathy@yahoo.com, JWaugh1052@aol.com, MSGamble@swbell.net, krw@ourtownusa.net, jwmsbacon@aol.com, carolrupe@hotmail.com, bill.wagnon@washburn.edu, vanmeter@terraworld.net, conniemorris2010@yahoo.com, sabrams@hit.net

Strib Poll on Including Gays in the Institution of Marriage

Swiftee (as would be predicted) posted this on a comments thread on the DumpBachmann blog.

From the article:

A new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll shows that 52 percent of adults in the state oppose gay and lesbian legal unions while 38 percent favor them. The opposition is an increase of 10 percentage points over last year.

Overall, 51 percent of those polled also agree that a constitutional amendment is needed in Minnesota. Forty-six percent agree strongly.

The increase in the opposition to legal unions, which would give same-sex partners many of the same rights as married couples, comes from a 10-percentage-point rise in those who say they are strongly opposed to the idea. The trend, critics say, reflects a nationwide marketing effort by conservatives and religious groups to sway opinions on what has become one of the most divisive issues of the day.

"The way the conversation is being framed is not a good way for our democracy to make decisions. It polarizes the issue to such a degree that the conversation becomes really stilted," said Ann DeGroot, executive director of OutFront Minnesota, which represents the state's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.


It's unclear whether the poll asked about allowing gays to get married, or talked about legal protections for gay relationships. Polls sharply differ on this question depending on how the questions are worded.

Meanwhile anti-gay, anti-abortion extremist Neal Horsley was on Hannity & Combs bragging about his teenage bestial encounters.

"Is it true?" Colmes asked.

"Hey, Alan, if you want to accuse me of having sex when I was a fool, I did everything that crossed my mind that looked like I..."

AC: "You had sex with animals?"

NH: "Absolutely. I was a fool. When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."

AC: "I'm not so sure that that is so."

NH: "You didn't grow up on a farm in Georgia, did you?"

AC: "Are you suggesting that everybody who grows up on a farm in Georgia has a mule as a girlfriend?"

NH: It has historically been the case. You people are so far removed from the reality... Welcome to domestic life on the farm..."

Colmes said he thought there were a lot of people in the audience who grew up on farms, are living on farms now, raising kids on farms and "and I don't think they are dating Elsie right now. You know what I'm saying?"

Horsley said, "You experiment with anything that moves when you are growing up sexually. You're naive. You know better than that... If it's warm and it's damp and it vibrates you might in fact have sex with it."

Monday, May 09, 2005

The Dog Ate My Homework

From Panda's Thumb on the Monkey Trials in Kansas.

Out of the blue, under a withering cross-examination by Science Coalition attorney Pedro Irigonegaray the hearing room was electrified by Edward Peltzer's admission that he had not read the science standards draft written by the pro-evolution majority of curriculum committee. Peltzer, a Scripps Institution oceanographer and intelligent design witness was flown in from California to share his expert evaluation of the competing science standards drafts, and is currently enjoying the hospitality of Kansas taxpayers.

As the day wore on, each witness in turn was forced to fess up – to an increasingly scornful Irigonegaray — that they too hadn't bothered to read the majority draft before giving their testimony. This despite the fact that each had earlier testified – in response to questions from intelligent design attorney John Calvert – that the minority draft was superior to the pro-science majority draft.

"I've not read it word for word myself," confessed board member Kathy Martin in an ill-fated attempt to salvage the credibility of the witnesses.

Letter writing campaign to Kansas Board of Education members

Another Lloydletta reader commented on the letter to the Kansas Board of Education I published:

While I agree with the letter-writer's anger, I'm afraid it will accomplish nothing. If I was a board member, I would have stopped reading after the first sentence.

Rule #1 of letter writing campaigns: Be respectful to the people to whom you are writing.

That letter got filed in the circular file. I guarantee it. I hope your publishing it is not to set an example of how people should frame their letters.


This reader makes a good point. Here are the addresses for the Kansas Board of Education members. Send them your comments:

martinkathy@yahoo.com, JWaugh1052@aol.com, MSGamble@swbell.net, krw@ourtownusa.net, jwmsbacon@aol.com, carolrupe@hotmail.com, bill.wagnon@washburn.edu, vanmeter@terraworld.net, conniemorris2010@yahoo.com, sabrams@hit.net

Kathy Martin (martinkathy@yahoo.com) is the biggest wingnut of them them all.

North Dallas Thirty quotes from some coverage:

Some of the changes Harris and others are proposing are consistent with intelligent design, but Harris said intelligent design is a "new and maturing science" and it would be inappropriate to mandate teaching it. Instead, he said, students should learn evidence against the theory of evolution, particularly when it comes to species evolving into new species.


This is nonsense. Citing a supernatural "designer" to as a "theory" to explain an empirical observation is not scientific. This type of "theory" can't be tested. Supernatural beings by definition do not have to obey natural laws. It's impossible to make predictions that can be tested based on "intelligent design". Ken Miller says it very well:

The recommendations of the eight dissenting members of the Standards Writing Committee are intended to undermine the teaching of evolution and to support the introduction of non-scientific explanations of origins into the science classroom. The radical redefinition of science in these recommendations would bring supernatural explanations into the classroom under the guise of science, and would distort the meaning of science itself. They would serve only to confuse students, demoralize teachers, and to bring needless religious conflicts into the teaching of science in Kansas.


Ken Miller's quote came from a collection of reviews of the standards posted on PZ Myer's wonderful blog: Pharyngula.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Strib Letters to the Editor on Evolution vs IDiocy

Here.

PZ Myers fisks the creationist letters.