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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pastor Mac at Living Word Christian Center Will Address the Flock Fleecing Allegations at Services This Weekend

The scandalous allegations are about fleecing the flock rather than having purchasing sex from a rent boy. It will be interesting to see if the media shows up to the services tomorrow and gets comments from parisioners. From the Living Word site:

Pastor Mac will address many of the recent articles and allegations circulated in the media during the services this weekend. Also, the following is our public statement on these matters:

Living Word Christian Center has a long history of making every effort to conduct the financial affairs of the church with integrity and candor. It is standard procedure for all appropriate contracts and financial transactions to be reviewed by our law firm (Faegre and Benson), audited by an independent accounting firm (Ernestvedt and Christensen), and approved by our board.

Every effort is made, and will continue to be made, to completely comply with and diligently follow all applicable legal standards established by the IRS and the State of Minnesota for the conduct of non-profit organizations.

Living Word and those outside professionals involved in the conduct of our financial affairs remain confident any fair review of our dealings will reveal the validity of our effort to consistently be an accountable and honest ministry before God, our congregation, and our community.

Earlier this week, Minnesota Monitor did some excellent spade work on shenanagans with the Living Word finances. Dump Bachmann Gumshoe followed up with a report on the planes that were registered to Mac Hammond. How can it be legitimate use of the flock's money to pay for a stunt plane.

This story is on the front page of the Strib Sunday edition. From Minnesota Monitor:

According to the documents, which involved a loan application in 2003 and contained over 100 pages of pictures and detailed descriptions of the church's land amounts, financial transactions and administrative history, Hammond owns two airplanes, one bought from Living Word for $1.06 million on credit supplied by Living Word. He leases the planes back to the church at a total annual rate of more than $893,000. The church asserts that "the aircraft are important to the efficient management of its ministry at the present time..." Living Word also rents a hangar to store the planes, and it pays for the expenses of the planes as well.


Pawlenty Blows it at the MFC Lunch on Stem Cells

MPR asks some good followup questions based on Pawlenty's statements.

St. Paul, Minn. — U of M stem cell researcher Dan Kaufman was disappointed when he heard that Gov. Pawlenty would veto stem cell legislation if it didn't contain restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

"He seems to be backing away from what he said in the campaign where he...pledged to support all types of stem cell research, adult stem cells and human embryonic stem cell research," says Kaufman.

Last fall, Pawlenty said he thought President Bush and Congress should go further than they have on stem cell research. But in a speech to the Minnesota Family Council this week the governor said he does not support "wide-open embryonic stem cell research." He defined wide-open research as using embryos capable of producing human life.

Pawlenty did say he would be OK with using more stem cell lines than what the federal government has approved for research use. These new lines have already been created using private funds. The governor said he was in favor of using the additional lines, because the embryos have either already been destroyed or they are no longer viable.

"I think the governor needs some scientific and ethical education on what exactly he's talking about," says Meri Firpo, who is also an embryonic stem cell researcher at the U of M. "There seems to be a line he's drawing that is not based on current scientific understanding of the technology."

She says the governor's idea relies on an emerging technology that is not well understood yet.

"(It) is not clear that extracting cells from embryos does not damage them, and that is not a technology that is going to be able to be used efficiently anytime soon," Firpo says.

The governor's spokesman Brian McClung doesn't dispute Firpo's assessment. But he says that doesn't mean the idea is not worth investigating.

"With any new technology, I think it's being refined. And so there have been some reports that they have been able to do that...We're outlining as many options as exist right now," McClung said. McClung says the governor is looking for ways to move embryonic stem cell research forward. He says these ideas do that in a way that can satisfy most Minnesotans.

"No normal person cares about what we're talking about," says McClung. "They want to know, are you going to allow some additional research so that we can try to find cures? And the answer is, yes. And we think because of the new technologies that that can be done in a way that upholds the moral and ethical concerns that lots of people have."

Brian McClung is out of his league on any scientific topic. Most of his career has been spent on the Twins Stadium boondoggle.

Don't Let the Door Hit You in the A**

Patrick Reusse Opines on the Hennepin County Twins Debacle

Patrick Reusse: Maybe Twins ought to ditch stadium plan

Bruce Lambrecht was the co-founder of Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility. Among the ideas that he opposed vociferously was the creation of a train line, the North Star Line, from St. Cloud to downtown Minneapolis.

Then, Lambrecht discovered that the train would run through land that he owned with others on the northern edge of downtown Minneapolis.

Uff-da! Lambrecht had an epiphany and started attending pro-North Star meetings and showing his support.

Officials of the Twins and Hennepin County now have been reminded what can happen when you wiggle into a sleeping bag with a hypocrite.

Lambrecht, historically a large contributor to Republican causes, was a self-anointed lobbyist for a Twins stadium in the 2006 legislative session. In the final hours, permission finally was granted to Hennepin County to impose a .15 sales tax as the main funding piece for a new ballpark.

This was a huge victory for Lambrecht, since the legislative action specifically stated the stadium would be built on a small hunk of land behind the Target Center parking ramps owned by Changeable Bruce and his partners.

There were handshakes all around among Lambrecht, Twins officials and the four Hennepin County commissioners who had put their necks on the chopping block to get this done.

And now the Lambrecht group -- rather than accept a payment close to the current assessed value of $13.35 million -- has decided that it's worth a little more than that. The land owners have gone so far as to mention numbers north of $50 million for this few acres that rest in the shadows of the garbage burner.

"That's a lot of money for a ditch," said a local politician requesting anonymity for his quip.

The Twins and Hennepin County did Lambrecht's group the favor of endorsing a site-specific bill. It has seized that clause to demand an outrageous sum.

Here's the solution: The Twins call Lambrecht and give him a deadline -- say Valentine's Day -- to accept a reasonable county figure ($15 million) or the team will bail on the entire deal.

When Jerry Bell, then the team president, started working on this a decade ago, the goals were a stadium with a retractable roof and a prime location on the river.

The Guthrie got the river. The roof was lost in negotiations with the county. The desperate Twins took what they could get: a cramped outdoor ballpark located not along the Father of Waters but in Bruce's Ditch.

It doesn't have to be this way. The Twins can give Lambrecht and the Hennepin County negotiators until Wednesday to be shot with Cupid arrows, or then announce:

"We're going to call Anoka County and find out if that $280 million it had waiting for the Vikings is still there. Then, we're going back to the legislature and get permission to make a deal for a ballpark in big, roomy Blaine."

Just think: Space for a roof and a 6,000-car parking lot that would bring $7-8 million to the Twins' coffers, all for under $500 million.

The Pohlad family's current commitment is $100 million for an uncovered mini-park. Wouldn't it be worth twice that much to the Pohlads -- and $100 million more in future sale price -- to get everything they once dreamed of in a ballpark?

Anoka County had a 6-1 voting advantage with its commissioners when it came to imposing a .75 sales tax to attract the Vikings. Steve Novak, the county's coordinator for stadiums, said that pro-stadium advantage is now closer to "4 ½ to 2 ½."

He also was quick to mention that Anoka County wasn't interested in doing anything to mess with Hennepin County's deal with the Twins.

"Obviously, the Twins would have to initiate any conversation," Novak said. "I do like those guys. The Twins have a classy organization. If something happens with the current deal and they wanted to talk, we would love to be a partner.

"Eighty-one games. It would be great. There are a lot of good baseball fans up here in Anoka County."

This wouldn't be problem for Lambrecht and his partners, of course. They could proceed unencumbered with the ambitious plans they have for the area surrounding Bruce's Ditch.

They simply would require one minor alteration: Changing the development's name from Twinsville to Garbageburnerville.

'Anoka County Twins' has a wonderful ring to it.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Kiffmeyer Will Have to Wait

May 7th trial date for Rep. Mark Olson.

The SC Times:

ELK RIVER — State Rep. Mark Olson will stand trial May 7 on two misdemeanor counts of domestic assault.

The trial date was set during a pretrial hearing today in Sherburne County District Court.

Olson had asked that the trial take place in June, after the legislative session closes, but that request was denied.

Olson has pleaded not guilty to the charges that stem from an incident Nov. 12 at the Olsons’ home in Big Lake Township.

Olson’s wife told deputies she and Mark Olson had argued and that he had pushed her to the ground three times.

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Lack of Iraq Debate Could Shut Down US Senate

Republicans tell Senate to debate war or be frozen


WASHINGTON - A band of Republican senators, including Nebraska's Chuck Hagel, threatened Wednesday to shut down the Senate until it debates a resolution disagreeing with President Bush's troop surge for Iraq.

Seven GOP senators wrote the chamber's leaders of both parties, calling on them to work out a deal to resurrect the resolution that Republican senators stalled Monday with a filibuster and possibly other resolutions.

"The war in Iraq is the most pressing issue of our time," the letter said. "It urgently deserves the attention of the full Senate and a full debate."

Hagel, who helped draft the letter, said in an interview that his group was frustrated that Senate leaders haven't been able to resolve a dispute over which resolutions to consider.

"If anyone thinks that we're going to go away or this issue is going to go away, that just isn't going to happen," Hagel said.

"This is just going to get worse and worse, and you're going to see demonstrations of more than a million people before this is over this year. We're dividing our country in a very dangerous way, and the most irresponsible thing Congress can do is walk away from this."

The letter's signers include Hagel and John Warner, R-Va., who are leading sponsors of the resolution that seeks to rebuke Bush's troop increase. Monday, however, Hagel and Warner joined nearly all other Republicans in filibustering that resolution, leading to the current stalemate.

In doing so, they backed a GOP complaint that the Democratic majority was using arcane rules to try to block consideration of other war-related resolutions.

Since then, the Senate has been in a holding pattern.

The dispute boils down to this: Most Democrats want to vote on the anti-surge resolution. Most Republicans also want to vote on a resolution by Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., that would declare support for U.S. forces in the field and oppose any effort by Congress to curb funding for troops deployed.

The other senators who signed the Hagel letter are Norm Coleman of Minnesota, George Voinovich of Ohio, Gordon Smith of Oregon, and Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine.

Recognizing that strong opinions are held on both sides of the Iraq question, given the overall 06 election results, the Republicans in Washington are playing with fire if they don't allow for a discussion. 2008 won't be pretty.

Twins Stadium Deal Off

The Strib says so:

Hennepin County's top negotiators for a new Minnesota Twins stadium said they have begun considering the need to find another location for it because of a stalemate over land negotiations and other problems.

Though Thursday's announcement was viewed by some as a negotiating tactic, county officials also postponed actions related to the $522 million stadium in downtown Minneapolis.

That would make it unlikely that construction crews will begin work on the site in March as scheduled.

Not surprised. Rapid Park was a lousy site.

So, what happens to the stadium tax?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mayor Rybak on Don Samuels' "Burn it down" comment about North High School

"I disagreed with what Samuels said about North High School, but I share his outrage for a learning gap that has left too many African-American students behind in this city and in this country. I spend a lot of time in north Minneapolis and North High and I see amazing things happening there to address the learning gap and that help prepare our youth for the future. Don and I both support the reforms that Mike Favor is pushing and I think that North High School is becoming part of the solution, not part of the problem."

The Strib supports Don Samuels:

Cut Don Samuels some slack. What the Minneapolis City Council member said about burning down North High School was foolish and hurtful, and he has apologized for it.

But Samuels isn't the issue. He merely used a clumsy metaphor to express the frustration he feels -- and that the whole city ought to feel -- about public schools' inability to overcome the deep and abiding social deficits that too many Minneapolis children bring into the classroom, and then spread to their classmates.

I made the mistake of voting for Don Samuels in 2005. I will not be making that mistake again. I am not appalled by Samuels remark because he is "not black enough". I am appalled by his remark on the face of it. Students in North High would have been expelled for making similar remarks.

More on the Stadium Boondoggle

From City Pages:

Even Mike Opat, the Hennepin County commissioner who has been the main architect of the ballpark plan for two years, admits that things are messy. "The metaphor I can come up with is that there's a swan swimming on the surface, silent, not making a wake, but there's a whole lot of paddling beneath the surface," Opat says, pointing out "complicated" negotiations with the county and the team, the Ballpark Authority and the team, and the like. "But all negotiations, with the exception of Land Partners, have been productive."

To further muck up matters, the ballpark bill explicitly says that the county can't spend more than $90 million for land acquisition, site remediation, and infrastructure. Though he refuses to break down the various costs, Opat says it's vital that the county avoid overpaying for the land. "And if we can't get a price that's acceptable to the county," Opat concludes, "we might have to walk away."

Shane Nakeru:

According to my source, the problem with the schedule is not really the county's concern. The county is on the hook to purchase the land and infrastructure. Cost overruns on the ballpark itself are the Twins responsibility. The county (and Mike Opat especially) is taking a lot of heat over this project, so it is crucial that they do everything in their power to make sure the "public experience" at the ballpark is as top notch as possible. The county will not sacrifice the public experience (i.e. infrastructure) in order to satisfy the demands of a couple of land owners. For that they should be commended.

So, the county currently has two options: they can either wait until Land Partners II negotiates in good faith (Randy Johnson said yesterday that LPII has not even made a counter offer) or they can look for a new site. From what I understand, right now they are leaning towards a new site.

To reiterate the stance of Land Partners II, in 2004 the county and LPII agreed on a sale price of the land ($12.95 million) and a land swap. In other words, money and land was to change hands. Today, the county wants to purchase the land for $13.5 million with no land swap. LPII would rather go through a condemnation process than agree to what they feel is a "lowball" offer. Hennepin County does not want to go through the condemnation process because they are capped at $90 million for land purchase and infrastructure. If the condemnation process decides on a land value of more than $13.5 million then some infrastructure will suffer and the "public experience" along with it (and quite frankly the political careers of people close to the project may suffer too).

Those political careers deserve to suffer.

Strib covers it here. This was funny:

Moving to another parcel of land would force the county and the Twins to return to the Legislature, where approval last year was conditioned on the stadium being built on the so-called Rapid Park site. Rep. Brad Finstad, R-New Ulm, the chief House author of the stadium bill, said Thursday he would "have a hard time seeing any appetite for this again."We gave them everything that they asked for," said Finstad, who said he was assured that the stadium, including the land purchase, would proceed as planned. "For them to essentially screw this up at this point -- and I'm not blaming anybody -- it's going to lie on their shoulders."

This issue was used against Finstad in his last campaign for reelection. He's not too happy about the angry letters from Hennepin County residents about his role in increasing Hennepin County taxes.

GR Anderson of City Pages on the Hennepin County Twins Scam

More great reporting.... don't look for this kind of story in the Star Tribune

BREAKING NEWS: Protestants Tithe To Support Payoffs for Sexual Misbehavior

Hush money is no longer the sole domain of the Catholic church.

Haggard Agrees Not To Discuss Scandal Publicly
Years-Long Recovery Lasted 3 Weeks

POSTED: 8:22 pm MST February 7, 2007
UPDATED: 10:58 am MST February 8, 2007

DENVER -- Ted Haggard and the mega church he founded in Colorado Springs have signed an agreement that bars him from speaking publicly about the scandal that led to his departure from the church, co-pastor Rob Brendle said Wednesday.

Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and was forced out as senior pastor at the 14,000-member New Life Church last year after a Denver man made sex and drug allegations against him. Haggard publicly admitted to "sexual immorality."

Haggard told church members in an e-mail Sunday that his family planned to leave Colorado Springs and that he and his wife planned to pursue master's degrees in psychology.

Haggard signed an agreement last week that he would not rejoin the ministry at New Life Church, which he founded in 1985, Brendle said. Haggard agreed to relocate from Colorado Springs and not to speak publicly about the scandal.

The agreement included a financial settlement -- and a stipulation that neither the church nor Haggard would disclose the amount.

Brendle said that the decision for the Haggards to leave Colorado Springs was mutual.

"We recognize that his contributions to our church are immeasurable, as our founder and as our senior pastor for 22 years. At the same time, we recognize that his indiscretions are inexcusable," Brendle said.

Haggard went to a Tucson, Ariz. religious retreat after his resignation, where he was to undergo a "restoration plan" for his problems. The counseling team charged with restoring Haggard spiritually said earlier that the process could take as long as five years.

He stayed three weeks.

Haggard's intensive counseling was geared toward returning him to a life "that conforms with the teachings of the Bible and the example of Jesus," a pastor at his former church said.

"Beyond that, it's fruitless to speculate," associate New Life Church Pastor Rob Brendle said regarding claims that Haggard is "completely heterosexual" after counseling. "That (his sexual identity) is something that likely only Ted knows for sure."

Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur, one of four ministers who oversaw Haggard's three weeks of intensive counseling, told The Denver Post that Haggard is convinced he's heterosexual and his behavior wasn't a constant thing. Ralph said their investigation found Haggard was only involved with a former male prostitute, Mike Jones, who came forward with sexual allegation.

"Give me a break," Jones told The Gazette of Colorado Springs Wednesday, adding that Haggard performed oral sex on him over the three years they saw each other.

"Until he's honest with himself, he'll never be happy," Jones said.

Haggard's counseling after his gay affair have rekindled debate over the controversial premise that people can overcome same-sex attractions through "reparative therapy." It's a concept espoused by many religious conservatives, and disputed by many mental health experts.

"After three weeks of counseling, you suddenly become completely heterosexual after a three year homosexual relationship? That's not the way things work in real life," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the Washington-based National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which in the 1970s worked to declassify homosexuality as a mental disorder.

When the directions about tithing were set down in Scripture, I don't think this is what the writers had in mind.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

FRC Blog is Quite Entertaining

A few days ago, Mark H pointed out the move in Washington State to pass an amendment to force heterosexual couples to have children within 3 years of tying the knot, or to have their marriages annulled. Leave it up to the FRC to come up with a reaction that has to be read to be believed.

For the moment, let's take this group seriously enough to examine the question, "Is marriage solely for the purpose of creation?" My tentative answer: Yes and no. I agree with natural law thinker Robert George, who says, "Here is the core of the traditional understanding: Marriage is a two-in-one-flesh communion of person that is consummated and actualized by acts that are reproductive in type, whether or not they are reproductive in effect..." He adds: "Although not all reproductive-type acts are marital, there can be no marital act that is not reproductive in type."

A number of factors could prevent a married couple from having a child within three years (e.g., what if the child is stillborn?) so it would be unfair to penalize them for something that is beyond their control. Instead, a more reasonable criteria should be established that is based on actions that are solely within their power. For example, all couples who wish to marry--both gay and straight--must be willing and able to engage in "marital acts", acts that are reproductive in type. To paraphrase the WA-DOMA, those couples who cannot or will not engage in marital acts that are reproductive in type should equally be barred from marriage.

The FRC blog seems to regularly provide material in the "you can't make this up" category. I encourage readers who want to get a daily chuckle, to go check it out.

Theocratic Legislators Embarrassed to be Seen at the MFC Shindig with Governor Pawlenty

Eleventh Avenue South:

The mood at this year's Minnesota Family Council's Legislative Insights Luncheon was somber. As the lunch of cold ham-and-cheese sandwiches, pasta and cake began, MFC CEO John Helmberger asked if any legislators who were present would stand and be recognized.

Nobody stood up.

Meanwhile the Minnesota Family Council's parent, the Family Research Council has figured out that President Bush will mumble platitudes to them at base events, but won't mention their issues when speaking to the general public.

FRC Bleating About Bush's 2007 SOT"U

Oh heavens! No mention of abstinence. Oh get me my smelling salts!

Bleat away, FRC, bleat away. Get used to being treated like a cheap date by President Bush.

Great quote from Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)

On the Senate floor a few moments ago, Jon Tester said that he's traveled all around his home state of Montana, and "not a single person told me we should debate about whether or not to have a debate on Iraq."

I appreciate Senator Coleman's procedural vote in favor of having the debate, especially when he and Senator Susan Collins were the only two Republicans to not vote with their caucus.

Andy from Eleventh Avenue South and Minnesota Monitor wrote about Pawlenty appearing at the Theocratic Minnesota Family Council luncheon a few days ago.

Pawlenty said he'd veto any domestic partner legislation. It will be interesting to see if the spineless democrats decide not to even vote on the legislation.

He also said he'd veto stem cell legislation.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I Just Hope He Didn't Have to Offer a Demonstration.....

Haggard Pronounced ‘Completely Heterosexual’
Filed at 9:59 a.m. ET

DENVER (AP) -- One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is ''completely heterosexual.''

Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday's edition.

''He is completely heterosexual,'' Ralph said. ''That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing.''

Ralph said the board spoke with people close to Haggard while investigating his claim that his only extramarital sexual contact happened with Mike Jones. The board found no evidence to the contrary.

''If we're going to be proved wrong, somebody else is going to come forward, and that usually happens really quickly,'' he said. ''We're into this thing over 90 days and it hasn't happened.''

Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals last year after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. He was also forced out from the 14,000 New Life Church that he founded years ago in his basement after Jones alleged Haggard paid him for sex and sometimes used methamphetamine when they were together. Haggard, who is married, has publicly admitted to ''sexual immorality.''

Haggard said in an e-mail Sunday, his first communication in three months to church members, that he and his wife, Gayle, plan to pursue master's degrees in psychology. The e-mail said the family hasn't decided where to move but that they were considering Missouri and Iowa.

Another oversight board member, the Rev. Mike Ware of Westminster, said the group recommended the move out of town and the Haggards agreed.

''This is a good place for Ted,'' Ware said. ''It's hard to heal in Colorado Springs right now. It's like an open wound. He needs to get somewhere he can get the wound healed.''

It was also the oversight board that strongly urged Haggard to go into secular work.

Welcome back, Ted.

Washington state initiative would require married couples to have kids

And how about throwing in a no-sodomy rule for heterosexual married folks?

02:34 PM PST on Monday, February 5, 2007 Staff and Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. - An initiative filed by proponents of same-sex marriage would require heterosexual couples to have kids within three years or else have their marriage annulled.

Initiative 957 was filed by the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance. That group was formed last summer after the state Supreme Court upheld Washington's ban on same-sex marriage.

Under the initiative, marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. Couples would be required to prove they can have children in order to get a marriage license, and if they did not have children within three years, their marriage would be subject to annulment.

All other marriages would be defined as "unrecognized" and people in those marriages would be ineligible to receive any marriage benefits.

“For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation ... The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine," said WA-DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow in a printed statement. “If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage."

Supporters must gather more than 224,000 valid signatures by July 6 to put the initiative on the November ballot.

Opponents say the measure is another attack on traditional marriage, but supporters say the move is needed to have a discussion on the high court ruling.

Monday, February 05, 2007

On New Blogger

Be patient while I add the features I had on my old blog. There are a few bugs here and there. Adding the haloscan comments made the blog look funky, so I took those away. There's still the option of commenting with blogger.

Aravosis and HRC Having A Hissy Fit Over Snickers Commercials


The sophisticated message seemed to be that the overreaction of "straight" men to homosexual contact is completely irrational, and, in the case of the proposed threesome, maybe that contact is not entirely shunned.

In typical fashion, however, some loud gays have totally missed the point and are overreacting themselves. John Aravosis at AmericaBlog leads with this headline: "Snickers Superbowl (sic) Web site promotes violence against gays and lesbians. Bears & Colts players react in disgust, on camera, to gays."

HRC's John Solmonese got in on the act Monday afternoon, issuing this statement: "If they have any questions about why the ad isn’t funny, we can help put them in touch with any number of GLBT Americans who have suffered hate crimes.”

Well, I had about 30 "GLBT Americans" at my party, and they enjoyed the ad.

The Snickers Web site features some of the Super Bowl participants reacting to the commercial. Aravosis focuses on the facial reactions of Chicago Bear Muhsin Muhammad and Indianapolis Colt Cato June, who look less-than-comfortable with the kiss. Aravosis seems to be saying that not only are people not allowed to be uncomfortable watching something, but certainly no one can show that discomfort.

In the Web site video, producers of the commercial can be heard telling Bears tight end Desmond Clark that it took 50 takes of the two men kissing for them to get it right.

"I hope they got paid a lot of money," Clark said, assuming that the two men were straight and did not enjoy kissing one another. "I think this is going to be the most shocking commercial for the Super Bowl."

Some of the featured voices, however, are overtly positive about the commercial.

Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison took the piece well, laughing along with it and saying, "It's definitely a great piece. I don't know who came up with it, but it's definitely a great piece."

Bears quarterback Rex Grossman had praise for the commercial: "It's up there with some of the best I've ever seen, and there's been some great ones. A lot of people that don't like football will watch the Super Bowl for the commercials and the parties. And those types of people are really going to love this commercial."

This ad is not remotely gay-bashing. The point of the reaction of the men was so ridiculous that it made the reaction of straight men to homosexual contact the butt of the joke, not the kiss itself.

Some enjoyed the ad very much. Seth Sutel of the Associated Press gave the commercial his "Best Ad for a Loud Bar" award.

Love it or hate it, Snickers will be getting far more publicity than they could have dreamed of from this ad.

And if I were Mars Inc., which produces Snickers, I wouldn't worry too much about the boycott that Aravosis is threatening: Containing a high fat content and more calories than you could burn running a 5k, Snickers bars don't get eaten by gay men anyway.

Robbie from Malcontent seems to agree.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Human Rights Campaign Becomes a Cash Cow for the Democrats

They drop the ball on opposing the anti-gay ballot measures in the process. Boston Globe:

Playing down its support for gay marriage, the HRC mobilized its 650,000 members to staff phone banks, raise money, and participate in get-out-the-vote campaigns to elect candidates sympathetic to gay issues, even if they didn't support gay marriage. The group was the single biggest donor to Democratic state Senate races in New Hampshire, helping the party take control of both chambers of the Legislature for the first time since 1874.

The group also helped congressional candidates from Arizona to Florida and Ohio, and party activists believe the organization can play an even larger role in the 2008 elections. The idea, leaders say, is to become a steady source of funds and grass-roots support for Democrats -- more akin to a labor union than a single-issue activist group.

"They took it to the grass roots and had people in individual states helping, either by volunteering or sending personal contributions," said Tina Stoll , a Democratic fund-raiser. Instead of throwing its money at defeating ballot initiatives banning gay marriage, the HRC focused on electing Democratic majorities -- even if it meant helping candidates who weren't fully in support of their agenda, she said.

Former Washington Blade Editor Craig Crain comments:

The Human Rights Campaign has finally shed any semblance of staying non-partisan in the fight for gay civil rights. Leaders of the D.C.-based HRC told the Boston Globe in a story published last week that their new strategy is to "become a steady source of funds and grass-roots support for Democrats—more akin to a labor union than a single-issue activist group."

The "new HRC" isn't just belaboring the obvious—that the Democratic Party is clearly better on gay issues than the GOP. HRC’s head honchos have gone much further, deciding that the fate of the movement lies inexorably with the fate of Democrats generally, which means throwing money and support wherever Dems say it's needed, even if it means pulling money out of actual pitched battles over our civil rights.

How has the Democrat-ization of HRC worked out so far? For one, HRC took money out of the fight last November to defeat ballot initiatives that ban gay marriage, even those that amended state constitutions. HRC chief Joe Solmonese told the Globe he was "more effective by focusing on candidates."

So HRC sank money instead into quirky priorities of the Democratic National Committee not even marginally relevant to gay rights. As a result, the Globe reported, HRC turned out to be the single largest donor in New Hampshire state Senate races. How exactly does that bring gay Americans closer to equality?
"The most obvious danger is putting all the gay movement’s marbles in the Democratic Party basket, even though the party has almost never taken a political risk for its gay constituents."

The most obvious danger of the new DNC-controlled HRC is putting all the gay movement's marbles in the Democratic Party basket, even though from Bill Clinton and John Kerry on down, the party has almost never taken a political risk for its gay constituents.

Democrats don't even deliver for organized labor, HRC's supposed new role model. HRC must be the only lobby in the group anywhere, and certainly the only civil rights organization, modeling itself after labor unions. We can all see how powerful they aren't, after sinking themselves into a one-party, no message strategy.

HRC left gays in the states who had ballot initiatives hanging out to dry in order to elect democrats who will deliver little, since HRC has never expected much in return. When Patty Wetterling returned HRC's check as if it was dirty money, HRC just accepted that. How can an organization that promotes equality for gays, promote under the radar and closeted strategies for electing people?

Scorecard for Evaluating Democratic Results for Gays

Take it away Dale Carpenter:

it must be admitted that Republican congressional leaders tried to do more harm than they actually did, as by pushing for a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Republican congressional leaders also set a tone of hostility toward gay Americans, exemplified by the comments of former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) warning that decriminalizing gay sex would lead to “man on dog.”
"We will hear pleasing and soothing words from congressional leaders for a change. The federal marriage amendment won’t even get a vote for the next two years. But is this enough?"

The Democrats will be an improvement on this. The tone will be much better. We will hear pleasing and soothing words from congressional leaders for a change. The federal marriage amendment won't even get a vote for the next two years.

Is this enough? For some people it will be. Moreover, all manner of excuses will be made for any lack of action: why pass legislation the President will veto, other matters require more immediate attention, the Democrats can't afford to be seen as beholden to "special interests," it's more important to concentrate on electing a Democrat to the White House in 2008, and so on.

For those who expect more in exchange for gays' loyalty to the Democrats, here is a point system for grading them.

(1) Federal recognition of gay relationships (up to 50 points): Congress could vote to repeal DOMA (35 points). It could vote to give spousal benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of federal employees (15 points). At a minimum, Democratic leaders could hold hearings on these matters that will get the ball rolling toward eventual federal recognition of gay relationships (3 points).

(2) Gays in the military (up to 30 points): With strong Republican support, a Democratic Congress and Democratic president gave us "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in 1993. The new Democratic Congress could make amends by voting to repeal the law, leaving to the president the power to decide whether to allow gays to serve (20 points). Or it could vote simply to ban discrimination against gays in the military (30 points). At a minimum, Democratic congressional leaders could hold hearings on anti-gay discrimination in the military (3 points).

(3) ENDA (up to 15 points): Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already prohibit employment discrimination against gays. A federal bill making this national policy has been pending in Congress in one form or another for more than three decades. The latest version being pressed by national gay groups would also ban discrimination against transgendered people, which complicates its chances of passage even with Democrats in control. Congress could pass the legislation (with or without protection for transgenders) (15 points), though it might pass a weak bill with lots of broad exemptions for small businesses, religiously affiliated institutions, and the like (deduct one point for every 10 percent of gay employees not covered). At a minimum, congressional leaders could schedule another round of hearings (1 point).

(4) Hate crimes legislation (up to 5 points): There's no evidence hate crimes laws actually deter hate crimes. There's little evidence the states aren't already prosecuting anti-gay crimes. But a federal law would have some symbolic value. Congress could pass such a law (5 points). Yet a federal hate crimes law might be unconstitutional. Alternatively, Congress could pass a bill assisting local law enforcement with the investigation and prosecution of such crimes (up to 4 points). Hearings on this are of little value (1 point).

Dale predicted a low score for the democrats. Is there anyone who will predict a reasonable score.