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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Citizen Journalism and Transparency - the Uptake

The Uptake is an up and coming Citizen Journalism site that focuses on Video Citizen Journalism. The Uptake was promoting several events for Steve Sarvi, the 2nd District congressional candidate. while the Communications Director for Sarvi, Bridget Cusick, serves on the Uptake's volunteer Board of Directors as the person focusing on marketing the site. Bridget's bio on the site, when I started working on this story, didn't mention her affiliation with Sarvi's campaign.

I called Bridget up to talk with her about this. Bridget said she had written the bio before she'd taken the gig with Sarvi. She also emphasized that she was focusing on the marketting and not the editorial side of the site. I asked her whether there was a policy about board disclosure of campaign affiliations - and she was not aware of anything. She later emailed me to clarify:

Mike [McIntee] stated something that should have been the first thing out of my mouth vis-a-vis "policy" but for whatever reason was not: clearly, no one working on a campaign would cover that campaign. I think your question specifically related to policy w/ regard to who sits on the board -- nonetheless, I wanted to be clear on the contributor side as well.

Bridget then updated her bio to include her affiliation with Sarvi.

I followed up by talking with Mike McIntee, who is one of the citizen journalists listed on the site:

McIntee talked about the importance of transparency. He also said the trainings they are doing is to develop some trusted contributors who will cover things fairly. They are not aiming for total objectivity, because he doesn't believe that exists.

The Uptake is an all volunteer board.

I asked McIntee if he was holding the Uptake up to the same standards as he was holding Michael Brodkorb.

McIntee responded: "I hold ourselves to the same standard as all journalists should."

"It's a young organization, and we're going to make mistakes.... We are going to try to provide the best journalism we can."

Mitch Berg's Straw Man Argument

From Berg's response to Karl Bremer's post on Daily Mole:

A few years back, many left-leaning commentators - up to and including Geraldo Rivera and some who are on the George Soros payroll - tried to bury Michelle Malkin in a wave of anti-Filipina bigotry.And while many people, left and right, rose as one to condem this ugly racist display, a number of left-leaning commentators were as silent as death on the subject. Among the silent - and thus, complicit - were:

* Steve Perry, editor of the big-buck-lefty-supported Daily Mole (and, at the time, editor of the City Pages),
* Karl Bremer, foul-mouthed Stillwater screechmonger, who has found via the local alt-meda a ready outlet and ravenous market for his raving vein-bulging screeching inner lout.

In this post, Berg links to a post which links to a post on Malkin's website which describes nasty email she has gotten. Anyone who has blogged for a while and has a fair amount of traffic will get very nasty, and very inappropriate email. However, it's apples and oranges to compare this sort of email (or blog comments), to a post on a blog. Karl was talking about a post on the AntiStrib blog which called Native Americans "Dirt Worshiping Heathens."

The Wege condemned the anti-strib column when it came out. It's worth reading.

Karl Bremer Calls Out Racist Post on Anti-Strib; MOB Bloggers Get Livid

Daily Mole:

What happens when a leading local Republican blogger publishes a virulently racist screed that refers to Native Americans as “dirt worshipping heathens,” “domestic terrorists permanently stuck in the Stone Age” and “humanoid animals,” and describes them as a race “so primitive that they created nothing of any lasting value, nor did they contribute anything of note to the world”?

In Minnesota, evidently nothing—at least from his right-leaning compatriots in the Minnesota Organization of Bloggers and the mainstream media.

MOB Parrot Mitch Berg responds by mitching about Karl Bremer the author of the Daily Mole article:

# Karl Bremer, foul-mouthed Stillwater screechmonger, who has found via the local alt-meda a ready outlet and ravenous market for his raving vein-bulging screeching inner lout.

Berg adds:

Karl Bremer’s “boss” at DumpBachmann, Eva Young, attended the last MOB Party. She seemed to have a great time! And - what’s this? Tracy from Anti-Strib attended! Eva must hate Indians, too!

I am not anyone's boss at Dump Bachmann - but Berg never lets facts get in the way of one of his screeds. I noted Eberly's post shortly after it was posted on Lloydletta's Nooz:

An anonymous commenter on the blog tried to threaten Tracy's work.

The best answer to nonsense like this is more speech refuting it - not trying to go after Tracy at his job because you disagree with his opinion.

The post did get lots of comments - and Tracy probably used the language he did to generate lots of comments.

Avidor posted about this on Daily Kos. According to Anti-Strib contributor Jim W commenting on Daily Kos, the black helicopters are circling.

Meanwhile the Anti-Stribers and the Learned Foot are squabbling about site traffic and other things on Mitch the the Dark:

# Kermit Says:
November 10th, 2007 at 3:53 pm

OK Berg, I take semi-umbrage to a couple of characterizations.
The loud We maintain a stringent decorum, based on established and sternly enforced Rules Of Conduct (snicker).
unrepentant Granted, as there is precious little to repent of. It’s awfully hard to be humble when you are so dad gum right all the time
sometimes gauche Now you are just going too far. Most of my fellow droogs don’t have the faintest notion of what “gauche” means, although they can recognize it as French, and therefore something to be mocked mecilessly
sometimes dead-on (well, Anti-Strib, anyway) Sometimes? SOMETIMES? You need to visit more often. We are frigging awesomly correct, and back up what we say with facts, not that “this feels so wrong BS the Left tenders
shoot-first-ask-questions-later We answer any and all comers, even dour cast-offs like Doug. Hell, I’ve even publicly apologized to Doug for an off-hand remark in a comment thread. You will not find a more inter-active blog in the MOB, period. And unlike Learned Foot, we actually have traffic
They are South Park conservatives of the most unrepentant stripe You finally hit the mark. Once again, repentance is not an issue. We is what we is, and if you don’t like it feel free to go get your effing shinebox. Making some liberal feel empowered is not even on the radar
they whiz on Political Correctness Not just with glee, but with the power of bladders unencumbered by bashfulness. Feel free to bring your PC bull, but bring your own towel

Notice to all of the whiny, self-satisfied, holier than thou Left-Wingers out there: We are here, we are not going anywhere, and you are most likely wrong about whatever ill-conceived notion you are peddling. And we are going to tell you as much.

# LearnedFoot Says:
November 10th, 2007 at 4:39 pm

“And unlike Learned Foot, we actually have traffic”

The same 30 people hitting the site 7 times per hour doesn’t count as “traffic”.
# Tracy E Says:
November 10th, 2007 at 4:52 pm

There is no way to top Kermit’s response.

Here is the dry, boring straight take on the points I wanted to make to Doug.

As for the rest, it’s a freaking Blog! Get a life! There are about 70 million out there, if you don’t like ours, find another one.

The fact that we are getting this much attention for a goof on an incredibly annoying poster is evidence that not only do we have an audience, but we are also hitting the mark pretty regularly.

That series of posts was specifically aimed at the ridiculous lengths that people like Doug go to to find cultural equivalence. The mere mention that Western Civilization might just possibly better than Native American culture sends the left into a rage. Playing on that rage has been a source of fun and page hits for about a month now.

PS. Thanks for the defense Mitch, I think?

# Kermit Says:
November 10th, 2007 at 5:47 pm

Paul, Learned Foot can’t be held accountable for his hobbies. One must respect his tenacity, however.
# LearnedFoot Says:
November 10th, 2007 at 6:00 pm

*”remorselessly abrasive jagoffs”

*”Paul, Learned Foot can’t be held accountable for his hobbies. One must respect his tenacity, however. ”

This from an agent of the blog that caused the Wege to write a post I actually agreed with for the first time ever.

Mitch! The irony’s dying here. Better look into that before it spreads.
# Kermit Says:
November 10th, 2007 at 6:53 pm

Ooh! An Irony deficiency! Perhaps a supplement would help. Perhaps one of the multitude of KAR commentors could provide some.

Crossover Votes on ENDA

Anti-gay Activist Peter LaBarbara has compiled a list of cross-over votes on ENDA.

ENDA VOTE TALLY: Total was 235-184; bill passed and moves to U.S. Senate

By Party:
Democrats 200-25
Republicans 35-159

Republicans Voting in Favor

Biggert (R-13, IL)
Bono (R-45, CA)
Campbell (R-48, CA)
Castle (R-DE)
Davis, Tom (R-11, VA)
Dent (R-15, PA)
Diaz-Balart, L (R-21, CA)
Diaz-Balart, M (R-25, CA)
Dreier (R-26, CA)
English (R-3, PA)
Flake (R-6, AZ)
Fossella (R-13, NY)
Frelinghuysen (R-11, NJ)
Gerlach (R-6, PA)
Gilchrest (R-1, MD)
Hobson (R-7, OH)
Kirk (R-10, IL)
Knollenberg ((R-9, MI)
Kuhl (NY) (R-29, NY)
LoBiondo (R-2, NJ)
McCotter (R-11, MI)
McCrery (R-4, LA)
McHugh (R-23, NY)
Miller (R-10, MI)
Platts (R-19, PA)
Porter (R-3, NV)
Pryce (R-15, OH)
Ramstad (R-3, MN)
Reichert (R-8, WA)
Ros-Lehtinen (R-18, FL)
Ryan (R-1, WI)
Saxton (R-3, NJ)
Shays (R-4, CT)
Tiberi (R-12, OH)
Walden (R-2, OR)

Democrats Voting Against ENDA

Barrow (D-12, GA)
Berry (D-1, AR)
Clarke* (D-11, NY)
Cramer (D-5, AL)
Davis (D-7, AL)
Davis, Lincoln (D-4, TN)
Edwards (D-D-17, TX)
Gordon (D-6, TN)
Holt* (D-12, NJ)
Lampson (D-22, TX)
Lipinski (D-3, IL)
Marshall (D-8, GA)
McIntyre (D-7, NC)
Melancon ((D-3, LA)
Michaud* (D-2, ME)
Nadler* (D-8, NY)
Rahall (D-3, WV)
Ross ((D-4, AR)
Shuler (D-11, NC)
Skelton (D-4, MO)
Tanner (D-8, TN)
Taylor ((D-4, MS)
Towns* ((D-10, NY)
Velazquez* (D-12, NY)
Weiner* (D-9, NY)

* indicates that ”no” vote was likely because “gender identity” (pro-transgender) language was not included

The people in Minnesota who deserve thankyous are Jim Ramstad and Collin Peterson. Neither has voted in favor of the gay community while in congress before. Peterson was an original co-sponsor of the Federal Marriage Amendment.

ENDA to be Introduced in the Senate

Lead Sponsors will be Ted Kennedy (D, Massachussetts) and Susan Collins (R, Maine).

Kennedy To Introduce ENDA In Senate
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: November 9, 2007 - 5:00 pm ET

(Washington) Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) says he will introduce a Senate version of the the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in the current session.

"I’m working with leadership to move this bill forward as quickly as possible," Kennedy said in a statement.

The Massachusetts Democrat has a long history of advocating for LGBT civil rights. Most recently he guided the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act to passage.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act passed the House on Wednesday (story) but without protections for the transgendered.

"Although the bill is narrower than many of us had hoped, the House action is still a main step in the long journey toward full civil rights for every American."

The Senate bill also is expected to exclude gender identity.

Republican are expected to mount less opposition to the bill in Senate.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) has announced she will be the lead co-sponsor.

In a statement Collins said that passage in the House "provides important momentum".

"There is growing support in the Senate for strengthening federal laws to protect American workers from discrimination based on sexual orientation," she said in her statement.

ENDA would make it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation in hiring, firing, promoting or paying an employee.

"Forty-three years ago, President Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At that time, some in our country were violently opposed to outlawing racial discrimination, and it was very difficult for Congress to reach a consensus," recalled Kennedy.

"But the best in America, and the best in the Senate, prevailed. My first major speech in this body as a freshman Senator was on the Civil Rights Act. I said then that 'I firmly believe a sense of fairness and goodwill also exists in the minds and hearts' of Americans, and that laws creating the conditions for equality will help that spirit of fairness win out over prejudice. I still believe that today."

The White House has said President Bush will veto ENDA if it is passed.

It also has threatened a veto of the Shepard Act. That bill is currently in conference, working out differences between the House and Senate versions. Sen. Kennedy tagged the bill to legislation on military spending. If the bill in that form goes to the White House Bush would have veto the spending bill to kill the Shepard Act.

A similar move could be used to prod the President on ENDA.

The theocrats are clearly concerned about President Bush signing ENDA, from a Concerned Women for America alert posted on the anti-gay Americans for Truth site:

CWA: First Amendment Trampled With ENDA Passage
November 8th, 2007

CWA Release, November 8, 2007

[Call your senators at 202-224-3121 or go to; call President Bush and urge him to veto ENDA if it passes at 202-456-1414 or 202-456-1111, or]

Washington, D.C. — On Wednesday, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives passed — largely along party lines — H.R. 3685, the so-called Employment Non-discrimination Act (ENDA), by a vote of 235–184. [Click HERE for the Roll Call and HERE to see which Congressmen voted against their party's majority.]

Matt Barber, CWA's Policy Director for Cultural Issues, said, "By passing this Orwellian piece of legislation, the Democrat-controlled House has displayed exceptional arrogance. Congress apparently believes it has carte blanche authority to nullify any constitutional provision which it finds bothersome. In this case, they've drawn a black line through the free exercise clause of the First Amendment."

ENDA contains an extremely weak religious exemption which might partially protect some religious organizations but would leave many others — such as Bible bookstores and many Christian schools — entirely unprotected. It would additionally crush individual business owners' guaranteed First Amendment rights.

I encourage people to write Senator Coleman and Senator Klobuchar to encourage them to signon to ENDA. I also encourage people to call the White House to tell President Bush to ignore the bleatings of the bigots.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Republican Party Chairman Ron Carey Misrepresents ENDA With a Straw Man Argument

From the Republican Party of Minnesota also posted on the Drama Queen's blog:

Friday November 09, 2007 CONTACT: Mark Drake


Self-Avowed "Independent Leader" Walz Sides With Hard-Left… Again

"With his vote against protecting state marriage laws, Tim Walz again serves as a rubber stamp for national liberals and once more demonstrates just how out of touch he is with southern Minnesota. Walz vowed to be an 'independent leader,' but has become one of the most liberal and partisan Democrats in all of Washington."

- Ron Carey, Republican Party of Minnesota Chairman


Walz Voted Against Protecting State Marriage Laws From Being Overturned, Redefined Or Restricted. (House Roll Call Vote 1056 , November 8, 2007)

I was a little confused by this claim. The bill referred to in Roll Call 1056 was a roll call for a motion to recommit HR 3685 - the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA).

I've written Chairman Carey for comment, since Press Secretary Drake's contact information isn't on the press release on the party web site.

Dear Chairman Carey:

I tried to find Mark Drake's contact information on the RPM website and don't see it. Therefore I'm sending this to you, with a cc to Michael Brodkorb (who reposted it on his blog), and to the party general info email. I'm also ccing this to the Star Tribune and the Rochester Post Bulletin. This is a good "Is that a fact" blog post for the Big Question.

When I read the press release, I was confused. I follow the issue of "traditional marriage" fairly closely, and hadn't heard about a bill on the floor of congress addressing this issue. So I googled the Roll Call number you gave and found that the bill you claim was about "protecting marriage", was actually a bill prohibiting discrimination against gays. Why are you misrepresenting the bill? Also, why use the motion to recommit to make your point, rather than the final vote on the bill?

Walz, Ellison and McCollum voted against this. Peterson, Ramstad, Bachmann and Kline voted in favor

Final Passage:
All Minnesota delegation except Bachmann and Kline voted in favor of this.

Don't believe me? Read the bill for yourself.

I'm writing a blog post about this, and would like to give you an opportunity to comment. I'm going with the facts now, but would like to get your response about why you claim a non-discrimination bill is about traditional marriage. When arguing against this bill, why not use more libertarian arguments such as those made by Dan Blatt of Gay Patriot rather than straw man arguments that the bill is about gay marriage. Dan is in the minority among the gay community - and even among gay republicans on this issue, but he has a good substantive argument. The same argument would hold for any discrimination laws.

Thank you for your attention.

Eva Young
Lloydletta's Nooz

It's also worth noting that Congressman Tim Walz didn't claim to oppose gay marriage when he ran for office. He said that he believed everybody should be able to participate in an institution that has been so good for he and his wife. Taking that stand did not hurt him with voters even though the usual suspects tried to use it against him.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Creationist School Board Candidate Bill Wenmark Gets Defeated

I've written about creationist Minnetonka school board candidate Bill Wenmark a few times before.

PZ Myers wrote about him as did Greg Laden:

In a separate scenario, Eaton ended up on the Minnetonka School Board, where he claimed to be an expert on the science standards, having been one of the guys trying to ruin the standards while serving on the committee. During a review process in which Minnetonka was trying to get their standards a) in line with the new state standards and b) adapt them locally and expand them appropriately, Eaton made the claim that he could do a better job than anyone on the planet in interpreting the science standards that he “helped to write.”

His interpretation, of course, was to include wording that would leave open the door to teaching creationism. He took a page right out of the Discovery Institutes’s “Wedge Strategy” … the “teach the controversy” tactic.

This was a kind of straw-that-broke-the-camel’s back for many Minnesotans, and a number of concerned citizens got together and did battle over this, and won. He was humiliated and lost his bid to insert religion into science class.

A local group called Tonka Focus came to the rescue during this period, helping to organize resistance and to get information out there.

Eaton had an ally on the Minnetonka School Board, a gentleman named Bill Wenmark. Wenmark is now running for re-election to the school board. I believe that Bill Wenmark is genuinely interested in politics, government, and in making a contribution to society through his service. However, it appears that he, like Eaton, is in favor of including Intelligent Design in the Curriculum at the least in the form of “teaching the controversy”

I wish I'd seen these posts before, because I would have mentioned them before the election.

Kudos to the Minnetonka Voters who voted for School Board candidates who are committed to strong Science Education rather than IDiocy.

Support of creationism is political poison once it's exposed. Often creationists run as stealth candidates, and it's important to expose them. Tonka Focus did a good job of this with Wenmark.

OutFront Minnesota Reacts to ENDA Passage

To our community:

The non-inclusive version of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday by a vote of 235-184. The bill bans the hiring and firing of employees based on sexual orientation, but not gender identity. While the vote was not surprising, it was disappointing. OutFront Minnesota had joined a large national coalition pushing to have gender identity added back into the bill. Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin introduced an amendment to re-add gender identity to the legislation, but that effort failed.

While an inclusive bill is not what we have been delivered, we are still very proud of the strong national momentum to stand up for our transgender brothers and sisters. This signals a milestone in our movement to include transgender people as full partners in the struggle for our equal rights.

OutFront Minnesota hopes that the legislation will be able to come before congress again in the near future, include gender identity in employment protections, and be signed by a new president.

Thank you to everyone who contacted their U.S. Representatives on this vital legislation.

I'm not the only one who gets tired of Outfront Minnesota claiming to represent "our community. A regular Lloydletta reader wrote me:

Did you see this message from Outfront? Why do they write, “Wisconsin Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin introduced an amendment to re-add gender identity to the legislation, but that effort failed.”? This is simply not true. Rep. Baldwin was given the opportunity to introduce the “T” Amendment after weeks of a “United ENDA” campaign and SHE DECIDED at the last minute to not introduce it. It was not voted on. Why is this written in such a way as to make her look like a hero whose good intentions were “defeated’ when she basically, in the end, acknowledged the very same reality Barney Frank was talking about when this thing first blew up: they didn’t have the votes.

What’s most disappointing is that we just had a Congressional body, for the first time in the nation’s history, assert that gays and lesbians deserve to live free from discrimination. Because of these last weeks of lobbying from “our” national and state organizations with a message of “Inclusive ENDA or no ENDA at all” we can’t even celebrate that fact. Look at this message from Outfront. Does it sound even just a tiny bit celebratory? Does it even acknowledge the fact that the fight is not over, that the Senate could still introduce a bill and attach it to a spending bill?

This is just insane.

Tammy Baldwin withdrew the amendment. Listen for yourself.

Steve Sarvi on GLBT Issues

Here's the questions I asked of DFLer Steve Sarvi, who is a DFLer challenging John Kline.

What is his position on the Federal Marriage Amendment?

What about efforts to court strip (John Kline is author of these bills) on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)?

In general, what is his opinion about separation of powers? Should the courts be able to determine the constitutionality of statutes passed by congress?

Sarvi served in the military. What is his take on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Would he support repeal:
H. R. 1059

To amend title 10, United States Code, to enhance the readiness of the Armed Forces by replacing the current policy concerning homosexuality in the Armed Forces, referred to as `Don't Ask, Don't Tell', with a policy of nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Would he be willing to sign on to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell (this is popular).

There may or may not be a bill on this issue - but where does Sarvi stand on the ability for gay couples to be able to sponsor their

Sarvi's answer via campaign manager Bridget Cusick:

Some try to make these issues are more complicated than they are. The fact is they boil down to questions of basic principle: should all Americans have equal rights, or are some more deserving than others? Do some people deserve to be treated with dignity and others not?

In response to the specific questions you posed, Steve believes:

Judicial review is one of the building blocks of our democracy. We wade into very dangerous territory when we start singling out certain groups or issues as undeserving of full examination within our judicial system.

Marriage is a state issue and should remain a state issue. For those interested in less government in our lives: getting the federal government involved in marriage is NOT the way to accomplish this. And, if we’re truly interested in protecting marriage, then we should be doing more about the issues that really threaten marriage, such as low wages and long hours keeping people apart and poor healthcare coverage leading to huge medical bills and bankruptcy. These are the “kitchen table” issues that occupy people’s lives day in and day out.

The military’s position of “don’t ask don’t tell” is in need of review. Obviously, our men and women in uniform, including our military leadership, have a lot on their plates right now, and when not pushed, most people will maintain the status quo. Thus we must challenge our civilian leaders, in close cooperation with our military leaders, to move beyond “don’t ask, don’t tell” to a position that enables all our nation’s citizens to dedicate their time and talents to service if they so desire.

Immigration is a big issue for this country and has been since our earliest days. It’s almost uncanny: public comments about immigration from decades long past sound surprisingly familiar to much of what we hear today. The way the United States deals with immigration is in need of reform – from the processes of obtaining permission to enter our country legally to how we treat individuals and their family members who have entered without permission. But despite it being a hot topic last election and being put on the table in Washington afterwards, what happened? When it came time sit down at the table and hammer out what would be done, House Republicans refused to negotiate. It makes one wonder if conservatives in Congress really want to fix the problem, or if they just want the issue.

John Aravosis on ENDA - Where We Go From Here


Now, the other odd thing that the folks trying to kill ENDA keep arguing (I'm sorry, I don't mean Pat Robertson, I mean NGLTF and their allies), is that since Bush said he'll veto ENDA there is no chance it will become law. Again, that kind of argument shows a serious lack of understanding of DC politics and legislative process. I've written this before, but I'm going to write it again since too many of the "kill ENDA" crowd quite literally don't seem to understand how a bill becomes a law, yet they're demanding that they be allowed to take the lead in making ENDA become the law of the land. That prospect is a bit frightening. After all, we saw how well they did trying to get the votes to pass Tammy Baldwin's transgender amendment. All the queen's horses and all the queen's men failed, even though they claimed to have the entire gay community behind them and claimed that Congress and America are generally supportive of transgender rights. Apparently, not so much.

Let's recap the way the legislative process actually works in DC:

1. As already stated, we have until November 2008 to get the bill passed in the Senate. This "wait until 2009" stuff is nonsense.

2. The scuttlebutt in town is that Senators Kennedy and Collins are still planning on introducing their version of ENDA in the Senate this Congress.

3. Whether or not we have the votes to get it passed in the Senate, ENDA can be added on to other must-pass legislation, such as funding bills, that Republicans would be loathe to filibuster. This isn't a rare procedural trick. It's standard procedure in DC. You just need to convince the Democratic leadership to do it. And that takes some major lobbying.

4. The same tactic, adding ENDA on to a must-pass bill, is also a way of getting it around a threatened presidential veto. If ENDA is tacked on to a bill that Bush desperately wants or needs, he then has to choose between signing the bill, and making ENDA law, or vetoing his desperately wanted/needed legislation that ENDA has been attached to.

None of this means for certain that we will get ENDA passed this Congress (meaning, before Nov. 2008). But to suggest that ENDA is dead until 2009 shows a lack of understanding about the legislative process and how things work in this town. We are dealing with the civil rights of 30 million gay Americans. We can't afford to have a coalition of political neophytes take the lead when they don't even understand how a bill becomes a law. (Or, maybe they do know that we can still make ENDA the law of the land this Congress, but they're still simply trying to kill ENDA because it doesn't include transgender people - if they can convince you that all is lost, then it really is.)

ENDA can become law in the next year. But it's not going to be easy. It will take some major chutzpah and some major lobbying and pressure to make it so (to pressure the Dems not to let ENDA slide until after the election). The only thing that's certain is that we will lose ENDA, we will fail to pass it this Congress, if we believe those who incorrectly tell us that we've already lost. They may have lost - we have not.

I often disagree with Aravosis, but he's dead on with this one.

Andy Barnett: The Soap Opera Continues

We last noted the St Cloud Times story and comments about the Glenn Beck interview.

Andy posts a tape of the interview.

Larry Schumacher and I had an interview over the phone, then he wrote an article that was loosely based on our conversation. I've got some issues with what he wrote, but rather than point them out I'll let you decide.

I listened to the interview, and thought Larry covered it well. Andy asks Larry if he can record the interview.

Michele Bachmann's Farm Subsidies

(Cross-posted at Dump Bachmann)

Former Star Tribune political reporter Eric Black gave Karl Bremer a guest post on Eric Black's blog about Bachmann receiving farm subsidies:

Guest Poster Karl Bremer of Stillwater, a marketer and free-lance journalist, considers himself U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s least favorite constituent. He has attempted to ask her questions by phone, email and letter and has never received an answer, including his queries relating to this piece.

Looking at Bachmann’s financial disclosure statement, he found that Bachmann holds a substantial interest and receives income from a Wisconsin farm. Further down the paper trail, Bremer found that the Bachmann family farm received more than $125,000 in federal subsidies between 2001 and 2005. (The farm is very likely still receiving them, although the 2006-2007 records aren’t available online.) Bachmann generally opposes such big government excesses. So, is it hypocritical for her to benefit from them? Here’s Bremer’s report, you decide.

As usual, Karl did a great deal of research and there's lots of links in Karl's post, so it's best if you go over and read it at Eric Black's blog

Here's the main point:

Is the Stillwater congresswoman the kind of “farmer” that most Minnesotans think should be collecting subsidy checks? After all, Bachmann, with a $165,200 a year Congressional salary, recently described families earning $83,000 a year in Minnesota as “rich.”

Or is she just another wealthy “urban farmer” milking the federal system who would, were it not for her anti-government Republican credentials, provoke outrage and indignation among right-wing think tanks and radio jocks?

You be the judge.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

ENDA Passes House of Representatives

The version that passed is not the completely inclusive version. This was posted to the Log Cabin Republicans of Minnesota EList by President Alan Shilepski. Alan deserves some credit for raising the issue with Ramstad, as does David Strand, who raised the issue publicly at a town meeting. I have forwarded this message to Peter LaBarbera of Americans for Truth and Tom Prichard of the Minnesota Family Council for comment.

Another surprise vote is Colin Peterson, who was one of the original co-sponsors of the Federal Marriage Amendment. Kudos to Colin Peterson.

I am thrilled to report that ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) passed the US House of Representatives, and that Congressperson Jim Ramstad from Minnesota was one of the 35 Republicans voting to support it.

On October 11 Minnesota Log Cabin Republicans had called his office and also emailed our hopes that he would consider supporting this bill. We had earlier passed out post cards at Pride for people to mail their Representatives in support of this legislation.

Now things will move to the US Senate.

Alan Shilepsky
MN Log Cabin Republicans

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Log Cabin Republicans"
Date: Wed, 07 Nov 2007 23:58:35 GMT
Subject: BREAKING NEWS - Historic Legislation Passes US House

Log Cabin Praises Bi-Partisan House Passage of Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)

35 Republicans Vote for Historic Legislation Providing Workplace Fairness

(Washington, DC) – Log Cabin Republicans praise the U.S. House of Representatives for bi-partisan passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The law, which would prohibit discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation, passed the U.S. House by a vote of 235 -184.

"This historic day marks tremendous progress in efforts to provide basic fairness for gay and lesbian Americans," said Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon. "This long overdue bill makes it very clear that what matters in the workplace is competence and fairness—not sexual orientation."

35 Republicans voted to pass the bill, which is the most significant piece of gay rights legislation Congress has ever passed.

Log Cabin, which has consistently supported ENDA, worked hard to gain Republican votes. "We thank all those courageous Republicans who stood up to do the right thing," said Sammon. We especially thank lead co-sponsors Representatives Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Deborah Pryce (R-OH), as well as the other original co-sponsors of ENDA."

Speaking on the floor of the U.S. House, Rep. Pryce said, "gay Americans currently hold the dubious distinction of being the only segment of our workforce that can be overtly denied an opportunity to contribute to our economy and to earn a living....The concept of ENDA, the fundamental American right to earn a living, should be a principle around which everyone in this chamber, regardless of party or ideology, should be eager to embrace."

Log Cabin members across the country filled out postcards to their members of Congress urging them to vote "yes" on ENDA. Log Cabin also worked hard lobbying GOP members of Congress on this bill.

This bill has strong support among the American people, including Republicans. A June 2007 poll by GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio showed that an overwhelming 77% of Republicans believe an employer should not have the right to fire an employee based solely on their sexual orientation.

In 30 states, it is legal to fire someone for being gay. "Today's bi-partisan vote shows this is clearly an issue that crosses party lines. ENDA is a common sense bill supported by the vast majority of Americans," said Sammon. "We ask the Senate to move ahead on passage of this bill and when the bill reaches President Bush's desk, we urge him to sign it."


Log Cabin Republicans is the nation's largest organization of Republicans who support fairness, freedom, and equality for gay and lesbian Americans. Log Cabin has state and local chapters nationwide, full-time offices in Washington, DC and Sacramento, CA, a federal political action committee and state political action committees.

St Cloud Times Has Another Story on Andy Barnett's Firing

St Cloud Times:

Former talk radio show host Andy Barnett pleaded his case on national cable television Wednesday after being fired last week from a St. Cloud radio station.

Barnett, who told the Times on Wednesday that KNSI-AM Station Manager John Sowada terminated him within two hours of a now-controversial interview with St. Cloud City Council candidates, appeared on a five-minute segment of the Glenn Beck Show on CNN Headline News Wednesday evening.

Barnett interviewed Ward 3 City Council candidates Karen Langsjoen and John Libert on his “Hot Talk” show Friday morning, asking them for their views on abortion, gay marriage and illegal immigration, among other topics.

Langsjoen declined to answer the abortion question, saying it was not relevant to the election. Following the interview, Barnett’s show was brought to an early end and the radio station went to its satellite feed to finish the hour.

Beck, a conservative radio and talk show host whose Wednesday topics included Iranian nuclear weapons, rising oil prices, Chinese economic power and Mexican drug cartels, portrayed Barnett’s firing as an example of “political correctness” stifling freedom of speech on the airwaves.

Barnett seconded that view.

“It seems like anybody who has an opinion that differs with the prevailing progressive thought is silenced,” he told Beck. “I wasn’t even stating my opinion. I was asking a question.”

Barnett told the Times that Sowada fired him “because I brought up a nationally divisive issue in a local debate where it had no place.”

He said he believes he was fired unfairly and told Beck he has hired an attorney.

“There was nothing in my personnel file, I was never reprimanded,” he said. “I had no reason to believe anything was going wrong.”

Sowada declined to comment for this story.

Langsjoen also declined to comment for this story, but previously told the Times that she did not complain to KNSI management about Barnett or the interview.

The comment thread is already active.

Secular Progressive from St. Augusta
Comment Posted: 11/7/2007 9:43:33 PM

If Andy loved Free Speech so much he probably shouldn't have banned comments to his blog this evening!

Ryan S from Sartell
Comment Posted: 11/7/2007 9:48:46 PM

Off topic: I am sure that Andy will be glad to know that ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) has passed the US House.

Unfortunately for Andy, This legislation does not prevent a media company from firing somone for what Andy has done. Radio stations can fire personalities for their content. I am sure Andy will be eligible for unemployment compensation. But this is in no way an unlawful firing--MN is an at-will state, meaning that an employee can be fired for almost any reason.

From MN Department of Labor & Industries' website:


My employer fired me for reasons that I think are unfair and may be a wrongful termination. What can I do? Minnesota is an employment "at will" state. The employer can fire any employee for any reason as long as that reason is not illegal. If you feel that you were terminated because of discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, national origin, ancestry, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation, or marital status; contact the Minnesota Human Rights Department at (651) 296-5663 or 1-800-657-3704.

John Ellenbecker from St. Cloud
Comment Posted: 11/7/2007 11:25:49 PM

It seems like anybody who has an opinion that differs with the prevailing progressive thought is silenced,”

The evil liberal progressives didn't silence you - the very same people who put Michael Savage on their station silenced you. Take it up with your conservative friends - they are the ones who canned you.

The Fighter for Free Speech Turns Off Comments on His Blog

Andy Barnett:

I have decided to turn off comments on this blog because of the vitriolic hatred and poisonous comments made by a vocal minority. If you want to send me a comment feel free to send it to

I'd left a comment which was not accepted.

Some of Andy Barnett's work (courtesy of liberal in the land of the conservative):

Andy: "Now this story about Obama - He is comparing himself to JFK"

Don: "So he's not living any more."

Andy: "Ha, ha, ha, ha.... I wish I could say that."

Glenn Beck's Show Featuring Andy Barnett

Well I can see why I've never been interested in watching that show. What a self-absorbed bore Glenn Beck is.

Barnett stated he has retained an attorney. This time he didn't make the claim that Langsjoen (aka "candidate 2") was complaining to management the way he did on King Banaian and Michael Brodkorb's show.

Michael Brodkorb and King Banaian Should Issue a Correction on Their Show

On Saturday, Andy Barnett claimed that city council candidate Karen Langsjoen had "complained to management" about the debate. I checked with Langsjoen to see whether she had been given an opportunity to come on the show to give her side of the story, and she was not. The only station employee Langsjoen talked with was Michael "the Senator" Jamnick, and he was the backup producer for the show, not management.

Barnett is going to be a guest on Glenn Beck tonight. He's truly acting the part of the Drama Queen about all of this.

He has posted the tape of his appearance on the Final Word:

He is trying to say that he was censored. He isn't. He has the right to say whatever he wants. He doesn't have the right to get paid for his spew.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

70% of Gays Support Getting ENDA Done - Even Without Transgender Inclusion


According to a new poll, 70% of LGBT Americans prefer passing an Employment Non-Discrimination Act that does not cover transgender people over not passing the bill at all. The poll, commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign and conducted on October 26, surveyed 500 members of the LGBT community across the country.

The version of ENDA sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank, which does not include job protections for transgender Americans, was voted out of the House of Representatives rules committee Monday night and is very likely to be voted on Wednesday. Rep. Tammy Baldwin may offer her amendment to add transgender protections to H.R. 3685. If she does, it will be debated but will likely pulled from the floor without a vote as soon as the debate ends.

HRC president Joe Solmonese said the poll numbers weren’t immediately obvious to him or the organization before they conducted the polling.

“There were so many people out there speaking so emphatically about where the entire community was that I thought maybe we should get a sense of it, and that’s why we did the poll,” he said. “So it was surprising to me, but I think it really speaks to the fact that there’s a big diverse community of GLBT Americans all across the country.”

The poll specifically asked: “This proposal would make it illegal to fire gay, lesbian, and bisexual workers because of their sexual orientation. This proposal does not include people who are transgender. Would you favor or oppose this proposal moving forward?” Seventy percent favored moving forward with the legislation.

The poll also asked people if they agreed that “national gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organizations should oppose this proposal because it excludes transgender people.” Only about 20% of the people agreed with that statement.

However, about 70% of people polled still believe that protections for transgender people should be included in the ENDA proposal, as they did in a poll conducted in 2004 -- but they also favor passing a noninclusive ENDA as a path to gaining those protections for transgender workers. This shows a shift from 2004, when 70% of LGB respondents indicated trans inclusion was important even if it caused delay.

HRC has come out in support of the Frank’s noninclusive ENDA.

“We’re on the brink of a historic step in the right direction toward what we’re all fighting for,” said Solmonese, “and with a bill on the floor, regardless of whether you think it ever should have gotten there or not, I would hope that most people think it’s important for our entire community that the bill pass rather than fail.”

Mike Signorile interviews Joe Solmonese about this.

I happen to agree with the incremental strategy with ENDA. However, I also believe that HRC lied to transgender advocates on multiple occasions about this issue. I think these lies cost Solmonese some credibility.

Yet More Soap Opera

In our last episode, Leo Pusateri backed down on his claim that Karen Langsjoen complained to Station President Sowada. Pusateri has now apologized publicly to Langsjoen:

According to Eva Young, John Sowada sent an email to her claiming that Langsjoen did not complain to him (see comments).

Consistent with what I wrote in my last update, I apologize to Ms. Langsjoen for posting what appears to be an inaccurate account of what happened.

Discussion on King Banaian's comment thread is interesting:

Well thank you, Tony.
The Senator | 11.05.07 - 6:22 pm | #

Re Phones Ringing issue...How Andy would know that "the phones were ringing"? The set up of the studio is such that the host could not see the phone board if a call were coming in. The O-N-L-Y way Barnett would know that calls were being missed is if he was trying to plant calls (which he did often when he was wrong).

It is not unheard of for a producer to leave the board once he gets a segment started. The host's time to get coffee, go to the bathroom, etc. is during a break. The producer's is during a segment. This is not uncommon. If a host is so dependent on the producer to punch in impromptu sound effects then the content from the host is not air worthy. If a host is relying on phone calls (especially ones he has planted) then he is not air worthy.

Finally, where exactly did "the kid" go? Perhaps he was running in the back to edit some sound for the show (the equipment in the studio is not capable of allowing both sound editing and archiving the show). Also a common task is to report to the sales staff problems with spots that just ran. "The kid" is also a very capable radio technician/engineer and often tries to tweak things to improve the sound quality of the show.

It would be responsible of those throwing out assertions of "the kid" to get the full story.

"The kid" is very capable and competent "behind the glass" much so that Andy constantly tried getting "the kid" to join the staff to be Andy's producer. Funny how for Andy's entire tenure Andy felt "the kid" was good enough to be his producer and "be another regular" on his show, but the day Andy is fired somehow is evidence of how incompetent "the kid" is.

Tony | Homepage | 11.05.07 - 3:02 pm | #

My point, it just goes to show you the professionalism (or lack thereof) of Mr. Barnett.
Groucho | 11.05.07 - 7:53 am | #

That may very well be "Insider", but the airwaves are no place to try to resolve personnel issues and personal problems.
Groucho | 11.05.07 - 7:51 am | #

I was listening and witnessing what went on and the kid producing the show walked out as the phones were ringing and left Andy without anyone running the audio board, manning the phones, or controlling sound effects...
Insider | 11.05.07 - 3:44 am | #

I was listening to KNSI that morning and there is alot more to that interview than that.

Also, later in the show, Andy yelled at the producer (Don was out that day...whoever the kid is that fills in...) over the air for leaving the studio to go talk to the manager. Not very professional in my opinion...
Groucho | 11.04.07 - 7:07 pm |

The MOB Parrot Mitch Berg still seems rather defensive.

Andy Barnett has decided to share his story:

Chapter 1: The Background Information.

Chapter 2: The "Hot Talk Debate" and the Debacle Afterwards.

Chapter 3: Behind the scenes conversations and more.

Chapter 4: What does this mean for St. Cloud, for myself, and for free speech from conservative thinkers?

Chapter 5: Farewell (?)

Did any of this play a role in the election, since it was the weekend before the election? What do people think?

Election Results for St Cloud Precinct 3

Over at the St Cloud Times. So far one precinct has come in.

Langsjoen - 211
Libert - 201

UPDATE: It appears that Libert has won this one handily.

St Cloud City Council Candidates Agree on the Gay Marriage Question from Andy Barnett

I thought it was very interesting listening to the KNSI interview with the two St Cloud City Council candidates. Barnett asked them about gay marriage. Both candidates agreed. Libert was the first person to answer the question about legalizing gay marriage.

"It hasn't been an issue in my life, and I think everybody should be treated equally."

Langsjoen said "I agree."

It is VERY interesting that Barnett didn't include the whole interview. Both candidates sounded thoughtful on a variety of issues. Neither Libert nor Langsjoen would agree to a "no new taxes" pledge.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Pusateri Backs Down on Claim that Langjoen Complained to Sowada

He's updated his post about the soap opera here.

In the Times Story Chat, Langsjoen denies ever having spoken to Leighton management about the interview. My source states otherwise.

****UPDATE**** (11/3/07 11:26pm CDT)

When I asked Mr. Barnett to clarify whether Langsjoen complained to Sowada, Barnett replied,

Several people at Leighton told me that they saw her talking with John Sowada and heard him apologizing repeatedly to her... I didn't witness it myself however...

****UPDATE****(11/5/07, 6:43pm CST)

I just spoke over the phone with Mr. Barnett to clarify whether Langsjoen complained to Sowada. Barnett maintains that someone told him that they overheard Langjsjoen complaining to Sowada, and Sowada apologizing to her. He also, however, states that the whole situation was "a blurr" (understandable when one gets fired). Others state that she was complaining to an intern ("The Senator) working on the show.

I will continue to try to investigate the story.

If it is confirmed, in fact, that Langsjoen didn't talk with Sowada, I will wholeheartedly apologize in advance.

But my opinion of Langsjoen's evasive, caustic and abrasive behavior on the show, as well as my resultant impression of her fitness for office (or lack thereof) still stands; and I believe that in any event, it was her histrionic reaction to the questions that was ultimately the catalyst for Barnett's dismissal. Also, it remains my opinion that Barnett's questions were not out of line, given the context of the show and its audience.

Mitch Berg doesn't seem ready to admit he made a mistake:

Speaking of dimwitted and irrational, some people think I didn’t “fact-check” my story the other day about the firing of Andy Barnett, the morning host at KNSI radio in Saint Cloud (although taking the unvarnished, spin-driven word of a city council candidate does qualify as a “fact”, apparently). They are wrong, as usual. It’s just that there are precious few “facts” to check.

Goodbye to Paul "Wog" Keuttel

From the St Paul Issues List:

I rarely agreed with the Wog, but his willingness to speak his mind and his enthusiasm for debate and discussion was inspiring. His commitment to the idea of talking and arguing and working through our differences was to be admired.

My condolences to his family and friends.

Diane Gerth
West End.

Diane Gerth
West End, St. Paul

I've always appreciated Paul Kuettel's wit and wisdom on the various E-Democracy Lists. I didn't know Paul well personally, but had gone to his house to have coffee on one occasion. Paul has struggled with liver disease for a long time.

He and his wonderful writing will be missed. Thankfully, with his blog, we can all appreciate his writing. My condolences to his family.

Andy Barnett Tells Story About Firing to AM 1280 the Patriot

He goes on Michael Brodkorb and King Banaian's show: The Final Word.

The show is the show about the St Cloud City Council races.

Station President John Sowada Denies Andy Barnett's Claim About Karen Langsjoen on the Record

As Avidor posted, Lloydletta's Nooz has confirmed that St Paul City Council candidate Karen Langsjoen did NOT complain to the station President:

Date: Nov 5, 2007 4:49 PM
Subject: Re: Andy Barnett Question

The candidate did not complain to me. We are posting the entire interview on the KNSI web site.

John J. Sowada
Leighton Enterprises, Inc.
PO Box 1458
619 West St. Germain Street
St. Cloud MN 56302

Mitch Berg and Leo Pusateri should publicly apologize to Langsjoen. I'm not holding my breath.

Candidate Did Not Complain to KNSI Station President

Lloydletta's Nooz has confirmed that Karen Langsjoen did NOT talk to station general manager John Sowada.

The station has posted the complete November 2nd 2007 Hot Talk interview HERE.

Download mp3 of the interview HERE.

Michele Bachmann & George "Big Spender" Bush

(Cross-posted at Dump Bachmann)

Eva has a post on the ongoing soap opera at KNSI. Before Andy Barnett was canned from the station, he interviewed Michele Bachmann.

Barnett asked Bachmann for her opinion on President George Bush breaking President Lyndon Johnson's record as the biggest spending president ever.

Here's a segment of Bachman's reply (with appropriate music):

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Andy Barnett Firing: The Soap Opera Continues

In our last episode, Barnett had given audio of the interview he conducted to King Banaian at SCSU Scholars. This audio included questions on big government vs small government, abortion, and illegal immigration.

Barnett was on King Banaian and Michael Brodkorb's show yesterday and acknowledged publicly that he'd been fired. It will be interesting to listen to the complete audio of the show.

From King Banaian's comments:

I was listening to KNSI that morning and there is alot more to that interview than that.

Pusateri's description said:

Barnett countered that it was indeed relevant on a number of levels; including the notion that many of KNSI's conservative listeners (yes, KNSI is a station heavily geared toward conservatives) would assess the pro-life stance of candidates as a barometer of the candidate's character; additionally, Barnett brought up the fact that the Council may have to choose city employees' health plans, and voters may be interested as to whether Langsjoen would approve a plan that paid for abortions, and/or domestic partnerships (read: Gay civil unions).

There was no mention of domestic partnerships or gay civil unions in the clip Barnett included on his website.

Groucho in King's comments continues:

Also, later in the show, Andy yelled at the producer (Don was out that day...whoever the kid is that fills in...) over the air for leaving the studio to go talk to the manager. Not very professional in my opinion...
Groucho | 11.04.07 - 7:07 pm

I've emailed the "kid that fills in", Michael Jamnick for comment. I'll let you know if I get anything.

I also asked Karen Langsjoen for comment:

I did NOT make an official complaint to anyone. The only comment I made afterward was to an intern who works there that I know, and who came out to apologize for the interview. I told him that this kind of interview is one of the reasons I belong to the League of Women Voters. Andy can claim anything he wants to, and many people will believe him. So be it. I stand by my right to refuse to answer questions that I do not believe pertain to the office I am running for.

Jamnick was the intern Langsjoen was referring to. I have emailed him for comment on this.


Bachmann Pal Andy Barnett Rants About the Homos

From the KNSI Hot Talk Show for Thursday, October 25th, 2007.

Direct link to the entire audio file HERE.

Robert Knight, Director of the Culture & Media Institute on Morality and the Media.

The infamous Peter LaBarbera used to work with Robert Knight at the Culture and Family Institute before he went to the Illinois Family Institute. Now Peter LaBarbera has his own group, the "Americans for Truth" which is obsessed with one issue: those evil homos.

Michele Bachmann preceded Robert Knight on the show.