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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fishapod



Hat Tip: Pharyngula.

Is Rahm Emanuel Implicated in the Blagojevich Scandal

Huffington Post quoting Fox Chicago:

President-elect Barack Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel had direct conversations with Gov. Rod Blagojevich about Obama's replacement in the US Senate, FOX News Chicago reports.

Citing "a source familiar with the investigation," Fox says that Emanuel had "multiple conversations" with Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris, who was also arrested Tuesday on federal corruption charges, about the seat and that they we're "likely recorded and in FBI possession."

Fox's source said that Emanuel gave the governor's office a list of "candidates that would be acceptable to President-elect Barack Obama" but no "quid pro quo" or "dealmaking" is suspected.


It will be a problem for Obama if Emanuel is involved.

My Fox Chicago report is here.

Boston Globe Editorial Opposes Jim Ramstad as Drug Czar

Read it here:

REPRESENTATIVE Jim Ramstad, a Republican from Minnesota, is said to be a candidate for drug czar in the Obama administration. This would take bipartisanship one step too far, at the expense of public health.

Ramstad, who is retiring after 18 years in office, gets high marks for working with a Democratic colleague, Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island, to require insurers to cover mental health and addiction treatment (the two men are alcohol recovery partners). But Ramstad has also voted repeatedly against federal funding for needle exchange programs for drug users to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS. Washington's paralysis on this issue goes back to when President Clinton let his drug czar, Barry McCaffrey, sabotage funding efforts by Donna Shalala, then secretary of Health and Human Services. McCaffrey hyperbolically called clean-needle programs "magnets for all social ills." In 2002, Clinton admitted that "I was wrong" not to lift the funding ban.

A study this fall in The Lancet found that only 1.5 percent of injecting drug users in Australia have HIV, compared with 16 percent in the United States. "That's largely because we acted very quickly in the 1980s to implement methadone programs and needle exchange programs when other countries like the US were dragging their heels," study author Bradley Mathers of Australia's National Drug and Alcohol Research Center told the Associated Press. Anthony Fauci, director for infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health, flatly says, "needle exchange programs work. There's no doubt about that."

The Centers for Disease Control says the national HIV infection rate is now 40 percent higher than previously thought. Injection drug use causes 12 percent of new infections. Obama, a supporter of needle exchange, has no time to thread the needle with his drug czar.


I've also read that Ramstad is more interested in other related positions within the Obama administration.

Friday, December 12, 2008

So Why Is OutFront Minnesota So Afraid of Expecting More Of Democratic Legislators Such as Kelliher

From Hometown source:

Asked about the party and social issues, several local Republicans opined that while abortion and same-sex marriage and other social issues have been and should remain important to Republicans, neither should they be the sole focus.

“I think our opposition has been fantastic (at depicting Republicans as driven by social issues) and frankly, a great number of our social conservatives have been more than willing to step into it,” said Emmer of a perceived idea that the party is a party of social issues.

Seifert has shied away from social issues in favor of a focus on jobs, cutting regulations, he explained.

“During my tenure as minority leader if you counted the number of times I’ve talked about gay rights or Indian gaming you could probably count them on one finger,” he said.


Has OutFront Minnesota ever made an appointment to talk with Marty Seifert? It might be a worthwhile effort.

Colin Powell: We Should Reevaluate Don't Ask, Don't Tell



Write your Senators and congress members. President Obama will sign repeal if the law is repealed by congress.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Obama Requested 200,000 for Teen Challenge

A commenter points out that Barack Obama also proposed funding for that group of charlatans also known as Teen Challenge.

Obama Requested $200,000 For The Teen Challenge Faith-Based Drug Abuse Treatment And Prevention Program In Illinois. In 2006, Obama requested $200,000 for the Teen Challenge, a faith-based drug abuse treatment and prevention program that operates statewide. After completion of the program, 72 percent of Teen Challenge graduates continue their education, 75 percent are employed, 87.5 percent do not require additional treatment for substance abuse, and 92 percent report good-to-excellent health. Vocational training is essential to successful drug abuse treatment, and this program produces graduates with job skills that allow them to become self-sufficient and return to their communities as productive members of society. To expand the scope of their work throughout Chicago, additional funding is requested to pay for the enrollment of an additional 30 individuals per month. [Obama Request Letter To Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health, Education, 4/5/06]


Why would Barack Obama promote funding a program that believes Harry Potter books and Pokemons are gateways into drug abuse?

Lead Sponsor of DADT Repeal Says It's Possible to Repeal This Ban This Year

CNN:

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The lead sponsor of a bill to overturn the controversial Don't Ask, Don't Tell law said the law could conceivably be passed in the first year of President-elect Obama's administration.

President-elect Barack Obama has pledged to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military.

A transition office spokesman refused to comment for this story but two months ago, Obama signaled he would move cautiously, telling the Philadelphia Gay News newspaper he would first get the military on board:

"Although I have consistently said I would repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, I believe that the way to do it is to make sure that we are working through processes, getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff clear in terms of what our priorities are going to be," he said.


They seem to be bravely running away from a campaign promise. Perhaps they are taking the advice of John Aravosis. As reported here earlier, John Aravosis was suggesting that Obama could appease gays and avoid repeal of DADT by appointing an open lesbian to Labor secretary. I hope gays will be smart enough to see through that nonsense.

It's nice that some of the sponsors in congress want to move forward in this area.


A bill to replace "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", with a policy of nondiscrimination, has 149 co-sponsors in the house, including California's Ellen Tauscher, a Democrat. Tauscher said with new administration, the timing is right to try and pass the bill.

"The key here is to get bills that pass the House and the Senate, that we can get to president-elect Obama to sign, and I think that we can do that, certainly the first year of the administration," Tauscher said in an interview with CNN.

Gay rights advocates say it's important for the new President to avoid the ham-fisted attempt President Clinton tried in 1993, when he naively promised to lift the ban by executive order.

That roiled the Pentagon brass — including then-Joint Chiefs Chairman Colin Powell — and provoked a fierce backlash from conservatives in Congress.

As a result Congress stripped President Clinton of his power to change the policy and forced him to accept the Don't Ask Don't Tell compromise — a law that can only be repealed by Congress.

But after 15 years and four wars, attitudes in the Pentagon — and among the public — have changed dramatically.

A Washington Post-ABC news poll this summer found 75 percent of Americans support allowing gays to serve openly, compared to only 45 percent back in 1993.

More than 100 retired U.S. military leaders — including the former head of the Naval Academy — have signed a statement calling for an end to the military's "don't ask-don't tell" policy, according to a California-based think tank that supports the movement.

Retired Admiral Charles Larson, the former Naval Academy superintendent, tops the list of 104 retired general and admirals who want the government to repeal the policy, the Palm Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara, announced Monday.


Comments expressed strongly held opinions on both sides:

Cynthia November 19th, 2008 9:07 am ET

Please stop comparing what African Americans went through in our history to the GLBT community. It is not on the same level at all!!!!!!!! GLBT folks have not been enslaved. They may have their own challenges right now, but it is not EVEN CLOSE TO BEING THE SAME!!!!!!!!
JohnTexas November 19th, 2008 3:43 am ET

Bob Dillian was right…. The times, the are a'changing. We need every capable soldier in the field for the fight on terror. Why refuse good hearted Americans who wish to serve their country? You think there is a better opportunity to find a boyfriend on the battlefield or someone who wants to protect our rights back home in the battlefield. I bless anyone who would stand in harms way for our country in a foreign land against those who'd wish to destroy our freedoms at home.
noahjigaboo November 19th, 2008 3:13 am ET

shiii,my brudas and sistas rather beeb collecting a welfare chex .let dem queers serve in da army.shiii, out in dem cold trenches a bruda might need toob git his snuggle on or maybe even need toob play hide da monkey.shiii dat don't mean heeb beeb gay just on da down low.
Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can break my heart. « Spreading the Word November 19th, 2008 1:30 am ET

[...] of Thumb, the slave codes, the black codes, the fifteenth amendment, Executive Order 9981, the ERA, Don't Ask, Don't Tell, [...]
rick November 19th, 2008 1:09 am ET

Serving in the military is about honor, integrity, loyalty and it has nothing to do with a lifestye. We give up our freedoms to service our country. Fighting men must trust there fellow soilder, he put his life in his hand and his fellow soldier does the same to him. We who call ourselve men ask that you do not dishonor us.
bulldogs455@yahoo.com November 19th, 2008 12:49 am ET

sorry, but gays should not be serving openly in the military. It makes people uncomfortable and they will face segregation.
Kurt November 19th, 2008 12:00 am ET

The main issue is that the LORD said that being gay is morally wrong and people will not fight their temptations so instead of doing what is right in the eyes of God they choose to fight to make their sins acceptable. It is only right in their mind, it is still morally wrong and a still a sin in the eyes of the LORD your God. Repent and be saved. Those who choose to make sin ok for society will still answer to the LORD and end up in the fires of Hell. Just because you choose to ignore God does not mean that you won't be judged for your sin and your punishment will still fit the sins that you have not acknowlaged and asked for forgiveness.
JCL November 18th, 2008 11:35 pm ET

If being a homosexual or a lesbian in the United States armed services wasn't a problem then WHY haven't they been allowed for over 200 years?funny we have fought many wars without open perversion among the ranks and have done great with most of them and we are still the strongest military power on earth,why would anyone (in their right mind)want to put that at risk?…or put it this way…if allowing homosexuals in the military or allowing them to be "open" whatever that is..if allowing them would put the slightest fraction of risk to the strength of the military or national security WHY would anyone even care about allowing them..is their sexual decisions in life so important that they are willing to put the country at risk…no true American would do that…face it this is the truth.
DJ November 18th, 2008 11:34 pm ET

It is never a person's choice to be gay. God creates a person as gay. Those who would seek to ridicule or hurt those individuals are casting judgment on what God hath made, and that seems sinful to me. That does not give a gay person free license not to be responsible people or to force their orientation on others. I have known gays and lesbians in my lifetime that were outstanding people, who never forced their orientation on me. Some of these people were the best friends anyone could ask for, very loyal, honest, educated, good citizens, fine character, and some served or now serve with honor in the U.S. Military. So get over it - Iraq tested the waters shoring up with the Brits proving that sexual orientation does not make a difference. Again, to correct a prior post, being gay is not a choice, it is way the God created people. To imply otherwise, or to torture these people mentally or try to change them driving them to suicide in some cases - well, God help you who engage in such abuse. You may find yourself shaking on judgment day before your Maker.
Carson November 18th, 2008 11:25 pm ET

This will KILL enlistment. And it comes at time when we are fighting two wars and need all the troops we can get. Doin' a heckuva job, Obamie ! You're not even sworn in yet and you're already FUBAR. Straight young men who want to take part in the very macho environment of the military will not be willing to take showers or live in close quarters with openly gay men. Most of you supporting this (like the clueless Obama) have never spent a minute of your lives in uniform. Imagine if you came in to your civilian job one morning and you hear that you will be taking showers with openly gay men. How many of you would continue to work there? (Not many). The military is not a normal 9 to 5 job with cubicles. You are in very close quarters for much of your training and straight people would be forced into very uncomfortable circumstances with people attracted to the same sex. Men and women aren't forced to shower together in the military, so gays and straights shouldn't be either. If you want to live your gay lifestyle do it oustside the military.
UnitedFamily November 18th, 2008 11:22 pm ET

The end of "don't ask, don't tell" is the beginning of "never mention this again", thank you….
MichaelHsu
You say you won't serve with gays. Don't look now because I would almost guarantee you probably already do!! I am a spouse(wife) of a female active service member and to have the ban done away with would mean more than most could imagine!! It would mean to me that I would be the first one to be notified if something was to happen to her I would be called not someone in her family and then have them contact me….MichaelHsu How would your wife feel if someone else was to be notifed and they found everything out second hand??? How would everyones else wifes and or husbands feel? As far as holding hands in uniform it is not even that how about walking on the beach holding hands, in a shopping mall, movie theater and so on….can you say that doesn't happen with all of the heteosexuals…someone said as long as we (homosexuals) keep it in the privacy of our own homes what about all of the heteosexuals keeping it in the privacy of their own homes??? How about being able to go to all of the holiday parties, festivals, support groups, helping in the spouses organizations. How about being able to be the one to legally be able to make health decisions for each other and not have to side on the sidelines and watch someone else be the one to be making the important stuff….
Patrice November 18th, 2008 11:19 pm ET

It doesn't matter what a person's sexual preference is unless you are hoping to have sex with that person. Otherwise, it is irrelevant.
dave November 18th, 2008 11:16 pm ET

Sexuality doesn't change the path of a bullet
Disgruntled republican November 18th, 2008 11:08 pm ET

Anyone who is willing to risk their life to defend their country should be able to do so. These people risk their lives for people who don't want to see them serve their county. DADT needs to abolished. There have been gays in the military for years. God bless them and all the soldiers who faithfully serve OUR country.
Peter November 18th, 2008 11:05 pm ET

Gays serving openly in the military: Stupid idea then, stupid idea now. Don't ask, don't tell works. Why subvert military discipline by allowing disruptive behavior of any kind? Behavior is after all what's we're talking about - Everyone's entitled to his/her orientation. No reason that can't be kept private. People pushing for this just don't understand the military. The cohesion of the unit is paramount, not individuals' expressions. To diminish the morale of the military this way isn't change, it's insanity.
Former Marine November 18th, 2008 10:59 pm ET

It's rather odd how much of an interest evangelical Christians and others take in the private activity of others. During my service in the Marines, I met people from all wakes of life, some of whom were homosexual. Serving with these individuals was an honor, and I would challenge those whose religion forces them to a prejudical opinion to serve, go to a war zone, and tell me the difference between serving with a heterosexual or homosexual. It's time to wipe our hands clean of bigotry in the name of religion and treat people with some respect.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Amy Klobuchar Proposed a Cool Half Million Earmark for the Harry Potter/Pokemon Obscessed Minnesota Teen Challenge

Earlier this year, Dump Bachmann and City Pages covered Michele Bachmann's association with Minnesota Teen Challenge, and exposed some newsletters that revealed the group to be far out on the fringe.

Parents are supposed to watch for signs that there kids are interested in Harry Potter and Pokemon among other things. These are gateways to drug abuse according to Teen Challenge.

Minnnesota Teen Challenge Newsletter screen shot

Why did Amy Klobuchar propose to fund this group with an earmark to the tune of a cool half million of taxpayer money?

Know the Truth- Prevention Education Project Minnesota Teen Challenge. For the Minnesota Teen Challenge to expand their drug prevention education efforts for teenagers $500,000


Write Betty McCollum. She sits on the appropriations committee. Minnesota Teen Challenge should NOT be funded.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Log Cabin Republicans Illinois Calls for Governor to Resign

This is truly sad day for Illinois. Log Cabin Illinois strongly believes in one's presumption of innocence, but in light of a mass of federal corruption charges, Log Cabin Illinois ruefully calls for the immediate resignation of Governor Blagojevich.

If the Governor fails to do so, we urge the Illinois General Assembly to move expeditiously with impeachment proceedings.

Log Cabin Illinois believes that it is imperative that the United States Senate appointment be made by a new governor, by the Legislature, or special election, freeing that appointment from any improprieties.

Illinois faces a number of issues that require strong leadership in Springfield, and given the allegations that surround the Governor, we are asking our membership to contact their state representatives urging action on this important issue.

Pardongate, Tom Petters, and Jim Ramstad - Oh My!

From Ken Avidor's story in Dump Michele Bachmann.

Two articles today about Congressman Jim Ramstad's earmark for Michele Bachmann's favorite charity Teen Challenge.

Maia Szalavitz at the Huffington Post and another by Andy Birkey at the Minnesota Independent.

Karl Bremer left this comment on MnIndy:

Teen Challenge is also heavily wrapped up in the Tom Petters financial fraud scandal. The common link between the two is Frank Vennes, a convicted money launderer and former Teen Challenge board member who allegedly steered loads of Teen Challenge investments to Petters’ companies. Michele Bachmann and Norm Coleman wrote letters of recommendation for a presidential pardon for Vennes, who has not yet been charged in the Petters affair. Ramstad’s relationship to Teen Challenge should clearly be a part of any investigation of his qualifications for “drug czar.”


For 13 years, Tom Petters ran what is very likely the biggest individual Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. Some people have marveled about how long Petters ran the racket and how much he raked in. It begs the question; did Petters get any help from people in high places? Petters, Vennes and their associates and family gave a lot of money to politicians and political parties.

This is an ongoing Federal investigation and I won't comment publicly about any individual's guilt or innocence... but, I'll say this; when the shoes start dropping... and that may happen soon, public officials like Jim Ramstad, Michele Bachmann, Norm Coleman, Amy Klobuchar and others are going to have some explaining to do.


Commenters weigh in on Andy Birkey's story:

John Dennis
Comment posted December 9, 2008 @ 4:36 PM
Lots of reckless reporting and innuendo here. Teen Challenge is an incredibly successful faith-based program that saves peoples lives from addiction.


Teen Challenge also promotes Exodus - an ex-gay ministry.

Minnesota Teen Challenge has several locations in Minneapolis. Teen challenge is notorious for being abusive to their clients:

For some first hand accouts go to here and here.

Teen Challenge believes Halloween and Harry Potter is a gateway to drug abuse.

Finally check out the Teen Challenge "Men at War" God Tube video.

Teen Challenge is NOT successful. They manipulate their success rates by booting out unsuccessful clients.

They should NOT get ANY public funding. People should contact Amy Klobuchar about this. In the past she has been part of a Teen Challenge fundraiser. People should also write Obama's transition team with their concerns.

Blog Cabin at Minn Post

Minn Post has a new writer, Justin Piehowski, who has decided to start reviewing blogs. It sounds like he is going to try to avoid "harsh political blogs".

Harsh political blogs: Left or right, if you're more interested in bashing those you disagree with than producing thoughtful, original content, I am not interested.


I stopped by and left a comment:

A couple questions:

1. What is your definition of "harsh political blog?"

2. Why not just talk about "harsh blogs", rather than use the "political" descriptor? There are plenty of blogs on non-political topics that bash those that disagree with the blogger.

Your dismissal of political blogs bothers me. It suggests that politics is a dirty and dishonorable profession. There are many honorable people in politics who are interested in good public policy. Sports blogs, movie blogs, celebrity blogs, science blogs etc can all include posts that are scathing about their various targets. In the science blogosphere, read Orac on the "anti-vaccinationists" and PZ Myers about creationists.

If what you mean by a "nice blog" is a blog that avoids taking a strong stand on anything, then that sounds a bit boring to me. The more interesting blogs to me are the ones who write well reasoned opinions.


Justin adds more detail in the comments:

Next, I feel I owe it to readers to open some kind of conversation about best practices in blogging. Lots of people do it for lots of different reasons. I'd like to help the public decide what works and what doesn't.

Finally, I want to acknowledge those who are trying blogging simply because they can. Not because there's a huge money behind it or their boss mandates it, but because they feel they have something to share with the world. Blogs allow that like no other medium in history.

People talk all the time about 'people-powered media' and the 'democratization' of journalism. But, what does that mean? I don't know which experiments will survive and what won't, but it'll be fun to watch, won't it?


I wonder why Justin thinks he can be an expert on best practices in blogging. I do think it's nice that he will focus on the true citizen journalists, rather than the paid media bloggers who have their media outlet to promote them.

It is par for the course that Mitch Berg starts mitching:

"Harsh political blogs: Left or right, if you're more interested in bashing those you disagree with than producing thoughtful, original content, I am not interested."

But as the Strib's misbegotten "Blog House" has showed us, one person's thoughtful original content is the other person's "bashing" - and that decision usually depends entirely on agreeing about politics.

Should I expect much better here?
(#6) On December 9, 2008, Justin Piehowski says:
Hey Mitch,
Love the Blog House. I don't intend to be all focused on politics, in fact, I don't seeing it being a huge part of the column.

But, if there's substance to it, we may get into it.

-JP


I hope blog cabin covers a variety of issues in Minnesota - and includes coverage of politics.

Ollie Ox writes a scathing review of Blog Cabin.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Targetting People at Work for Political Differences

I have never liked this. Michael Brodkorb blogging under the cover of anonymity used to attempt to get campaign volunteers in trouble at work. Now some opponents of the anti-gay prop 8 are targetting businesses where employees contributed to Yes on 8. This is a strategy intended to intimidate, rather than a strategy to persuade and change minds.