Thursday, March 31, 2005

The North Dallas Thirty Blogosphere Media Event Awards

Once again, the power, speed, and capability of the blogosphere amazes me -- and especially the great people who make it function. The recent events concerning the blog GayPatriot and blogger GayPatriot himself have been both instructive and wonderful to watch, especially due to the actions of certain individuals who I would like to recognize as part of the first semi-annual North Dallas Thirty Blogosphere Media Event Awards.

The "Cover Me Boys, I'm Going In" Award goes to Christian Grantham, who broke the original story and Rogers's similar antics towards other blogs. Christian was a walkaway for this award, especially after his having to put up with certain phone calls. Honorable mention goes to GayPatriot himself, for being willing to share his story, and to GayPatriotWest, who has aptly stepped up to the plate and continued the fine tradition of the GayPatriot franchise (wink).

On a related note, the "Turnabout Is Fair Play" Award goes to Robert of Lime Shurbet for his ability to not only make lemonade (limeade?) out of the lemons of having his blog shut down, but to send several more of them flying back. Honorable mention goes to all the members, as reported by Christian Grantham, of the Forced Outing Watch (kind of like the Black Watch, but with better uniforms and hairdos).

Next up is the "Get the Hell Out of My Chair, Koppel and Rather" Award for Lloydletta, aka Eva Young, whose coverage of this story has been fair, balanced, exhaustive, and cross-linked beyond compare -- my blogroll has exploded since I started tracking through her. Honorable mention on this goes to Mark Jaquith, proprietor of the blog Tempus Fugit, for his beautifully-written and researched piece on the events.

Close behind with the "Christiane Amanpour Memorial Get the Story" Award is R Cane of The Central Front, whose interview with Mike Rogers is not only more than a bit daring, all things considered, but an excellent "other side of the story" bit of reporting.

Finally, the "Keep It In Perspective, People" Award is a tie between Downtown Lad for his commentary piece on the implications of the whole affair for blogs and for bloggers and to Roaring Tiger of Big Cat Chronicles for her offering of insights on the issue.

To all those who I have met through this, but haven't mentioned yet....thank you. It's been a tremendous pleasure.

On your way out, please don't forget to tell Joan Rivers you think her dress is darling. (grin)

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Another Great Set of Points

Maybe it's the busy-ness at work, maybe it's the excitement of other things, or maybe it's just being completely and totally pissed over the events with GayPatriot over the past weekend, but I have had a hard time coming up with ideas for content. Fortunately, another one of Pat and V the K's exchanges in the Comments to my last blogpost triggered some useful thought.

V the K: Frankly, I am at a loss to think of a single person whose life has been "destroyed" through the direct action of a conservative politician because of their sexual orientation.

Pat: V the K, I don't have any hard statistics on this, so I'm just going to give an educated guess. Many gay teenagers and young adults commit suicide because their being gay. Politicians anti-gay votes and rhetoric adds to the misery of young gay folks.

V the K: Which brings up the question, how much impact does the overheated gay propaganda that "conservatives and Christians all want to kill you and take away your rights" have on the psyche of young homosexuals?

As usual, I sit somewhere in-between. It certainly isn't healthy for gay teens and young adults to have to sit through rants about how gays are pedophiles, monsters, and responsible for all ills of our society (Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell), or that they should be denied the opportunity for such professions as public school teaching (Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina). On the other hand, though, it certainly isn't any more healthy for them to hear the same message from the gay press and "gay community" prefaced with "THEY say you are", over and over and over again, plus the constant refrain, "The Republicans hate you, the religious right hates you, everyone else hates you".

One of the most empowering things you can do as a gay individual is to come to the realization that neither the religious right or the "gay community" cares about you as an individual -- they only care about what you represent. If you do as they say, you are their friend; if you don't, you're a threat, regardless of any other redeeming qualities you may have.

Real America works a little differently, as was the case with young Michael Shackelford, a gay teenager in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Michael's issues were chronicled Parts One and Two of an article in the Washington Post, and were cited regularly among the "gay community" blogs and press as an example of how "horrible" things were in "red state America" for gays. However, the publicity that the story generated also got an unwelcome response -- a visit from Fred Phelps -- and the response from the people of Sand Springs, especially Michael's church, was heartwarming -- and also minimally covered in the "gay community" blogs and press.

In Michael's case, he may have found out early the way in which these two radically-opposed sides use people. As a cause celebre, especially prior to the election, I'm not surprised he got an invitation to an HRC ball in DC, as well as other things -- he was a symbol of everything that was "wrong" with "Bush voters" and a reason to bash them, which was all HRC cared about at that point (and apparently still does). Unfortunately, with celebrity comes detractors -- and he found one in spades with Phelps, who was bound and determined to use Michael as a means of shaming and humiliating the people and the pastors of Sand Springs for "protecting the fag".

When the people of Sand Springs stepped forward to defend Michael, though, they sent a powerful message to the Phelpses and the "gay community"....namely that they cared about Michael because he was Michael, not because of what he represented. This was anathema to Phelps and to the "gay community" for ironically the same reasons -- because they broke the rules and refused to toss Michael out on his ear. Neither side was going to get any positive mileage out of the matter, so they dropped it -- the Phelpses left and the "gay community" decided not to publicize it.

Was the reasoning behind the people of Sand Springs's decision acceptable? It depends -- the main reason given throughout for doing what they did is that, by showing Christian love, they would induce Michael to "change", which on its face is more than a little demeaning. However, at the same time, Michael is still a teenager -- it isn't anywhere close to time for him to make a decision about his sexuality, and it ultimately comes down to him doing what is best for Michael. That may mean being gay, bi, or -- horrors! -- STRAIGHT. And you know what? As long as he's happy, I don't give a damn -- and I thank the people of Sand Springs from the bottom of my heart for being willing to stand up and say NO to bigotry, hatred, and prejudice.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

More Debate on Outing

One of the nicer things about the blogosphere -- indeed, after the events of this past week, I'm beginning to think the only redeeming value of it -- is the chance that you get to meet genuinely-decent people who can carry on a cogent argument and bring forward good points. Such is the case with regular commenters Pat and V the K, who have started a discussion on the practice of outing in one of the comment threads.

Pat begins:
V the K, in general I would agree with your broad statement about outing (NDT's note: V the K opposes in any circumstance). But I guess I don't see it as black and white as you do. In the situations I was referring to which I may support outing, the politician, in my opinion, has no right to privacy. These politicians have no problem taking away rights from millions of people, making their lives miserable, and otherwise violating those persons' lives at their "most basic level." I think you would have to provide a more convincing argument as to why this politician's privacy is more important than the millions of people he is trying to destroy.

V the K rebuts:
I think the idea that people's lives are being destroyed because some politicians are opposed to same-sex marriage is more than a little melodramatic.

I stand by my statement. Outing is despicable. It's far, far more personal than the number of SUV's a politician drives. If a politician's policies are wrong-headed, then defeat them by demonstrating that they are illogical, destructive, or unsupported by the facts. Just calling "hypocrisy" is an utterly juvenile tactic that says nothing about the validity of the underlying argument.

Really, the more you read these, the more you realize that Pat and V the K have found what truly is the heart of the outing debate -- does the urgency of the situation justify the tactics?

To Pat's point, what we currently have on a legislative level with several states already having passed or about to pass constitutional amendments stripping gays of rights and legalizing discrimination against them is an attack on our rights as citizens and affects literally millions of people. Obviously, the Federal Marriage Amendment represents the same on a national level. In counter to V the K, the issue is not merely that of people "opposing gay marriage"; it is about using the qualms people have about gay marriage to permanently relegate gays to the status of second-class citizens.

However, as V the K adeptly points out, outing defeats the politician, not the politician's policies. As the Ed Schrock case shows, even if allegations are sufficient to get a Congressperson to not seek re-election, the voters did not change -- and now Thelma Drake, whose record is as bad or worse than Schrock's on gay issues, has Schrock's seat and is pushing the same policies with the blessing of the electorate.

The public logic used by its supporters to justify outing to a great degree reflects the mentality of Washington, DC, where it was born. The Russians who originally colonized Alaska had a saying, "God is in His heaven, and the Tsar is far away"; that sentiment accurately describes the attitude of detachment from the sources of authority, power, and rules that is held by those inside the Beltway. Under the great Atlantis-like dome that shields them from the unwashed masses of the electorate, where all messages are controlled and legions of consultants daily refine the art of spin, the governance of the nation is easily reduced to the equivalent of office politics -- basically who you know and on whom you can step or use dirt to get higher. The reason I found "Legally Blonde 2" and its depiction of how to get a bill passed in Congress to be so hysterical was that it was such an accurate representation.

Simply put, the Beltway operates on the theory of the individual adversary -- get rid of them, and you get your way, since everyone is out for themselves and no one shares a common vision. Outing is exactly aligned with that, with the idea being that removal of the person kills the policies. However, as those of us out here in the grassroots who deal with Baptists and the like on a daily basis know, the fact that there is a backslider rarely if ever means they change their way of thinking -- it means they purge the backslider, through whatever means (including "fixing" them). The "policy" (theology) is supreme; when people can't live up to it, that's their problem.

In this context, in addition to the obvious issue of privacy, outing people is futile -- it has little to no effect on the electorate in terms of re-evaluating stances on gay rights. However, it DOES reinforce the use of sexual orientation as a legitimate weapon -- as well as the stereotype of gays trying to "covertly infiltrate" the government to "push their agenda". Furthermore, it alienates and enrages, especially when applied on a partisan basis, the people whose support is needed to actually advance gay rights -- those who believe that sexuality is no one else's business.

Finally, from a pragmatic viewpoint, the last thing that being gay needs to be associated with is being a hypocrite. The best way to eliminate the threat of the FMA is to one-by-one face down and back off the state antigay constitutional amendments, not by calling the people pushing them names and trying to find "hypocrisy", but by simply pointing out that their actions, even if they may not intend them to be, are discriminating against people like me. As GayPatriotWest wisely blogged, we need to look less for things to criticize and more for things and ideas to build commonality. The opposition to the FMA comes from many angles, but the point is the same -- the FMA is wrong and should be opposed. Outing cannot and will never accomplish anything other than alienation and fear.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Let the Denials Begin.....

Over on Christian Grantham's blog, Mike Rogers -- or at least someone using Rogers's email address and homepage address -- has posted a rebuttal to Christian's post of earlier today reporting on Rogers's involvement in GayPatriot's decision to stop blogging.
1. Don't believe everything you read on the internet.
2. The blogger of this site, apparently failed to mention that, aha, he is the registrant, tech person, and admin for At the very least, you would expect full disclosure.

However, as fellow commenter Brian O'Connell replied, Christian mentioned in the article that GayPatriot is a client of his.
According to GayPatriot, who is also a client of mine, Michael Rogers called GayPatriot's place of employment on Friday immediately following the post above and spoke to GayPatriot's secretary and boss.

As I also pointed out, Christian has disclosed the fact that he provides the registration, technical support, and administration for on more than one occasion. I daresay that constitutes "full disclosure" -- certainly far more than you care to give concerning your donor list, sources, and technical and legal help, Mike.

As to "not believing everything you read on the Internets", trust us, we don't -- especially when it's you talking, like your insistence that there are gay internment camps being refurbished in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, Christian has yet to make such outlandish claims -- and unlike you, has a track record of real activism as opposed to harassment -- so we tend to believe him when he speaks on matters, especially when you call Christian and give him information.

UPDATE (7:33 PM): Christian Grantham has posted a response to Rogers's comments -- and it's a doozy. I wish I shared that unique ability that Christian has to get pissed with complete and utter elegance. (grin)

The Case of GayPatriot

As some of you may or may not be aware, Blog Ally GayPatriot, formerly affiliated with the blogsite GayPatriot abruptly ceased blogging and severed his relationship with the blog on Friday with a rather-cryptic missive:
For personal and professional reasons that I am unable to fully discuss, I have to stop blogging as GayPatriot effective immediately. This has been a great experience for me and I have learned a lot. And I have met a lot of good people along the way (if only through email). As of this moment, I am no longer affiliated with this blog and I turn over all control to GayPatriotWest who will keep the fires going. Thank you for letting me come into your homes since last September. It has been an honor.

That was where matters stood until Steve Koval blogged concerning the issue on the Washington Blade website yesterday evening.
That was it — the entire public entry. One comment to Gay Patriot's final post noted that his abrupt withdrawal occurred the same day he removed a post that showed photos of outing activists Mike Rogers and John Aravosis under the headline "Wanted: Gay Terrorists." Gay Patriot was a longtime nemesis of Rogers and Aravosis, and withdrew the "Terrorist" post without any explanation.

Unless, god forbid, Mr. Patriot is dying, doesn't he owe his readers a little bit more than that?

Apparently GayPatriot felt similarly, as he authorized Blog Ally Christian Grantham to report on the situation this morning.

Christian's post is one of the finest examples of blogosphere journalism I have seen, and needs no commentary or embellishment here. Instead, I would point the reader to R Cane's thoughts at The Central Front for an additional and useful perspective.

All I can say is this....Rogers was named by Genre magazine as one of the 2004 "Men We Love", as he promotes on his website, with pictures, with gushing prose from Mike Signorile praising Rogers's motivations and tactics. NOW do you see why I tend to prefer to bring matters like this and Rogers's and John Aravosis's protection of antigay Democrats to the attention of people?

UPDATE (12:31 PM): Yes, I know it was breaking my word, but I posted the hyperlink to Christian's report on the situation to Americablog. John Aravosis set a land-speed record for deleting it -- under five minutes.

One wonders why John is so reluctant to let the tactics of his confederate and co-conspirator in outing be known, especially since Christian is hardly what you could consider a source biased towards GayPatriot.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Stop the Spin....Aravosis Wants Off

Methinks John Aravosis was particularly stung by yesterday's editorial in the Washington Blade, given his rather incoherent response this morning.

For instance, he says this first:

He's (Crain) contradicts himself repeatedly over whether he is or isn't in favor of outing, suggests that he did and then didn't want to out Mehlman, and then he attacks me and Mike Rogers by name for the outing campaign, conveniently forgetting that he and his newspaper fed off our campaign and begged us for scoops for a significant part of last year - and PRINTED those scoops.

And which ones would those be, John? I've looked at a long list of the Blade's articles concerning outing, and in not a one do they reveal or confirm the person's sexual orientation or identity without said person's consent. What the Blade did was report that YOU and Rogers were running around saying that so-and-so was gay. They also reported that, in many cases, said individuals denied it.

This one in particular had to be the best, though:

The story reeked of an attempt to covertly out Mehlman, and most everyone in town I knew who read the story thought so. And when I discussed that fact with Crain last year in an off the record conversation that I won't share - my journalistic ethics don't change month to month -

OK, so you said you wouldn't share it.....BUT what comes next?

let's just say Crain hardly tried to dissuade me from believing the story was an attempt to out Mehlman. (And if Crain really wants to push it, ask him to give me permission to tell you what he said about whether Mehlman is gay or not.)

So you're not going to share it, you're just going to tell us what was said. That makes perfect sense.....LOL.

Next up, in an even more-hilarious move, John gets his syncophants to post Crain's personal email address -- of course, this same syncophant, Inside the Beltway (as I blogged about yesterday), will not post his own email address or identify himself, despite claiming to be a prominent activist.

Finally, John blogged not a word about the charge Crain brought up yesterday -- that John and Mike Rogers are NOT outing antigay Democrats or the staffers of antigay Democrats, despite their promises to out ANYONE who votes against gay rights. As the old saying goes, never answer anything to which you don't want to draw attention -- and this would qualify in spades. With that, I repeat my challenge to Aravosis -- first, reveal the names of your "outing committee" and second, acknowledge publicly that you have not outed the staffers of antigay Democrats and have no intention of doing so.

This should be interesting....stay tuned.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

A Pleasant Surprise In an Unlikely Spot

It was a bit of a show-stopper when I came upon this item while reading through the online version of the Washington Blade today:
But those critical of the Blade in the RawStory article would go much, much further than that, demanding we investigate the private sex lives of anti-gay politicians and those who work for them. (John Aravosis and Mike Rogers, the editor of RawStoryQ, who have led the outing movement, apparently only investigate anti-gay Republicans and their staffers, but we'll leave aside that naked partisan bias.)

Hmmmm....not to brag, but it looks like someone may have read their email. I have to wonder, though -- if he got the info from me, did he not cite me to protect my privacy? A LITTLE shameless promotion would have been OK.......LOL.

A Riposte for a Repost

One of the more annoying things about giving your word is that it precludes you easily breaking it. (grin) So as not to tick John Aravosis off farther by continuing to jockey my way around his recent ban of me at Americablog, I voluntarily signed off there yesterday after a protracted verbal joust with John's surrogate Inside the Beltway. Of course, Inside the Beltway produced a rejoinder which, being bound by my word not to post again on Americablog, I can't counter there. For that reason, I am answering it here; please read through the original post, and I will draw out selected portions for commentary.

Go fix your own party, and do it as an openly gay man working hard at the local and state and federal level. Get out there and really work at it, and then maybe return and tell us how it's going, how they look at you, how they whisper insults when you leave the room, what their view of you and your future in this country REALLY is.

As most people who have dealt with me before know, "been there, done that, still doing it" (for people who aren't familiar, make sure you look at all the links in the referenced post).

The funny thing is that, in doing all of those things, the bulk of the dirty looks, whispers, and insults don't come from the Republicans involved -- they come from gay Democrats and liberals like Inside the Beltway, who are more dependent on stereotypes as an excuse for why they don't "reach out" than they are on actual experience.

Your attacks on Aravosis were the worst. I know Aravosis, and he is nothing less than a patriot and modern political Minuteman. I have read your site, and you have so many preening "My position" references, it's embarassing.

Aravosis doesn't have positions, he has a body of REAL WORK. As do I.

Of course, Inside the Beltway posted this without an email address, a homepage, or any means of identifying himself whatsoever so that someone could actually cross-check that body of "real work".

The amusing thing about this is that, if Aravosis is as well-liked and respected as people claim he is, you would think that they'd have no problem being associated with him publicly and in a form that the rest of us can see. After all, these people rail against "closeted" individuals on a daily basis, how important it is to live "out and proud", and how necessary it is to publicly support efforts like Aravosis's, don't they?

My speculation in this case is that Inside the Beltway is one of Aravosis's typical supporters -- someone who has to stay "closeted" because a) his business does not want to be associated with the outing campaign, b) his party does not want to be associated with the outing campaign, and c) his organization does not want to be associated with the outing campaign. At any rate, if it were publicly and widely-known he was associated with Aravosis, his situation would suffer.

To Inside the Beltway, I would issue this challenge....if you want to out people, start with yourself.

And I disagree strongly at the least, and find your position beneath contempt at the worst.

Honestly, Inside the Beltway is allowed to disagree with me all he wishes -- it's a free country. However, the problem I have is that he has turned his disagreement into behaviors which are both counterproductive to gay rights and replicative of the very behaviors he claims to deplore among "the right".

If you can get past the gay-left stereotypes of Republicans and conservatives, I have shown that it is not only possible to work with them, but to get them and business leaders to support both gay rights and gay-related causes. This is a necessity if gay rights are to proceed forward; unfortunately, activists like Inside the Beltway and Aravosis are invariably so blinded by their hatred for Republicans that they cannot do it.

The devastation this causes is obvious. Because they absolutely cannot comprehend or practice any cooperation with Republicans and conservatives, it becomes a situation of "any port in a storm", even a blatantly-antigay Democrat. In order to protect these stereotypes and rationalize their cooperation with antigay politicians, they resort to hyperbole and overgeneralization that alienates the very moderates with which they have a considerable amount of common ground. Most moderates do not like Fred Phelps, but given the choice between him and hatemongers like Aravosis and Rogers, the choice is obvious -- at least Phelps isn't calling THEM names.

The key to advancing gay rights in the present and in the future is building commonality and solidarity with moderates, not by allying with loony fringe groups yourself or trying to shame moderates by association. What activists like Aravosis, Rogers, and Inside the Beltway are doing is saying that all Democrats are like Barney Frank and all Republicans are like Jim DeMint. That conveniently ignores the Schwarzeneggers of the world who DO support gay rights, as well as the bigots like Kerry and Byrd who support taking AWAY gay rights. Because they can't see past this blind partisanship, they end up supporting antigay Democrats and attacking pro-gay Republicans, as I previously noted -- something completely counterproductive to the cause of gay rights, as the past year's election results and amendment votes showed.

You only have words: pay no attention to that GOP man behind the curtain, let's blame the Dems for the anti-gay train that's been rolling over us.

Bye bye, stop worrying about Dems, stop worrying about Aravosis.

I will stop worrying about Dems and Aravosis when people like Inside the Beltway can publicly admit that it is wrong for gay people to endorse and give money to politicians who support stripping gays of rights and discriminating them by Federal or state legislation or constitutional amendment, regardless of the party to which they belong. I will stop worrying about Aravosis in particular when he, as I challenged him to do yesterday, publicly admits who his "outing committee" is and that he has not outed the staffers of antigay Democrats and has no intention of doing so.

The ball's in your court, Inside the Beltway. Unlike John, I have no intention of banning people who criticize me, so feel free to come and do it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Thoughts on Outing

Blog Associate Pat, aka anonymous q, had an insightful comment that I was thinking through overnight and had some thoughts concerning to share with the blogosphere.

I agree that if there is an outing campaign, it shouldn't matter what party the person is. But what I don't quite understand is, since you are so against outing, what difference does it make how John Aravosis and Mike Rogers out people? I thought the point that should be emphasized is that they shouldn't be outing it at all. Period. At least when they selectively decide to not out someone, as you point out, that's one less person outed.

Clearly, you've shown that John and Mike have been inconsistent in their manner of outing. It seems like a staffer shouldn't work for someone anti-gay, and then they say it's okay, etc. What difference does it make? They changed their mind and decided to change their strategy, or as I'm sure you feel, they simply lied. It's their campaign, and they obviously are going to do it the way they see fit, and they make no secret of their dislike of the Republican Party. Again, it seems like the issue for you is that they shouldn't be outing at all.

Pat is right in a prima facie sense -- if my primary goal is to oppose outing of another person in any form and for any reason, which it is, why should I care about Rogers and Aravosis NOT outing a person? In addition, in getting John and his surrogate Inside the Beltway to not only admit that there are closeted gay staffers working for antigay Democrats, but to give details on their positions, I have potentially increased the risk of those individuals being outed -- a BIG concern for me.

That being said, the reason I am bringing forward the fact that Rogers and Aravosis have either been completely inconsistent or lying is because it is an example of the single biggest problem I see with gay rights activism -- that so often it is subverted to serve other purposes and causes unrelated to gay rights, with resulting detrimental effects. Furthermore, this subversion often goes completely unreported.

To whit, at the beginning of the outing campaign, both Rogers and Aravosis were insistent that this was not a partisan campaign:
“If you’re gay and you support making sexual orientation a political weapon, then your sexual orientation is fair game, and you will be outed to the rafters,” Aravosis said.

“This isn’t a partisan issue, and it is not a witch hunt,” Rogers said. “Being outed is an empowerment tool. I’m telling the truth to save their lives.”

However, as I have shown, and Rogers, Aravosis, and their surrogates have admitted, they have deliberately not outed current closeted staffers of antigay Democrats for political and personal reasons, primarily because said Democrats would "lose their seats". (Their attempted outing of a former staffer of Democrat Charlie Stenholm, which involved someone who had not worked for Stenholm for months and was not even in Washington, smacks more of a personal vendetta against the specific staffer than it does a consistent attempt to hold antigay Democrats accountable.)

That fact in and of itself reeks of partisanship -- if the point is to punish antigay politicians, why should only Republicans be threatened with losing their seats, while Democrats are not? The only reasonable answer is that, to Rogers and Aravosis, party affiliation is more important than one's voting record on gay rights -- a theory corroborated by, as I reported previously, their attacks on a Republican with a higher HRC score and who voted against the FMA and MPA, unlike the Democrats who DID vote for the FMA and MPA whose staffers they are protecting from outing. Rogers and Aravosis have made their motivation clear -- an antigay Democrat is better than a pro-gay Republican. Furthermore, given Rogers's and Aravosis's clear linkages to the Democratic Party and to Democratic political groups, I strongly suspect that their actions may be part of a coordinated campaign by the Democratic Party to attack and discredit those who refuse to follow the Democratic Party line, while giving the Democrats political "cover" to continue their discrimination against gays in an attempt to pander to voters.

Finally, both Rogers and Aravosis make the excuse that some of the gays they haven't outed are "working from within", despite their previous contempt for using that as an excuse not to out people. My question in that case is simple -- how do they know that? From a more sinister standpoint, is their certainty on that fact due to their having told the individual and their Congressperson that they will out the individual unless they do as they are told?

The best counter-example I can give is of Robin Tyler's outing of Emily Malcom, the founder of EMILY'S List, this past summer when EMILY'S List endorsed Inez Tenenbaum, the Democratic Senate candidate from South Carolina who supported the FMA. While I don't agree with what Robin did, she did it consistently and because of a reason far greater than partisan politics -- Tenenbaum was antigay, and no gay person should support with money or endorsement an antigay politician. I can respect that, even if I disagree with how she carried it out. Furthermore, I know that Robin was out in front of the Democratic National Convention this year protesting the Democrats' antigay stance while John Aravosis was inside supporting it -- a sad case, indeed, when a lesbian has more balls than a gay man. (wink)

In short, Rogers and Aravosis are doing exactly what they accuse the right of doing -- using sexual orientation as a political weapon to destroy peoples' lives and careers. That fact needs to be reported, often and loudly.

Hey John...Whaddya Talkin' About?

The following post is a repost of a comment that I just made to Americablog. I am adding it here because I have the strong impression that it will be deleted shortly.

While your denials of your protecting the staffers of antigay Democrats are amusing, John, they aren't borne out by fact.


When I refer to closeted staffers of Democrats, the best example would be the one that Mike Rogers mentions here:

I have yet to meet a Democrat staff member who opposes what their boss has done. The only case where one Democrat voted for the anti-gay law who has a gay staffer was clear to us that the member was forced to vote that way to attempt to hold the conservative leaning seat.

Now, John, could you clarify whether or not that refers to the individual you mentioned?


Are those the same individual? Furthermore, it begs the questions, John -- who is making the decision concerning "help us from the inside", and what is the nature of this "help" that is sufficient to allow you to protect someone who is, as you put it, "majorly antigay"?

NDT's Note: The reason I think John regularly throws this around without any explanation whatsoever is because he know full well there are quotes out there in which he expresses utter contempt for the "work from inside" theory, as I mentioned yesterday. In addition, were he to reveal the names of the people making the "decisions", my belief is that they could be easily linked back to partisan political groups and the Democratic Party -- and the house of cards would come tumbling down once those groups' involvement in the outing campaign was known, both in terms of Democratic support for him and (I suspect) funding.

Honestly, though, this was my favorite melodramatic statement you made, John:


In terms of equating Democrats to Sophie in Sophie's Choice, the life of Sophie's children was threatened, not merely her job. How much sympathy should we have for people who make antigay slurs and vote for legislation, but then claim they have to do so to keep their job? How many Democratic Congresspersons wouldn't be able to get another job if they were "fired" by their constituency for standing up for gay rights? You cheapen the issue by making a life-or-death choice comparable to one of personal inconvenience, and you make it obvious that protecting the jobs of antigay Democrats is more important to you than gay rights.

Furthermore, John, had Kerry, for instance, not supported antigay state constitutional amendments -- which is not the same thing as supporting gay marriage -- by how much more would he have lost? Michael in New York was emphatic that gays did not cost Kerry the election, Dianne Feinstein was ridiculed for saying they had, and you pointed out that the main reason Kerry lost was that he sucked. Kerry blatantly supported stripping gays of marriage rights in Massachusetts and enacting discriminatory state constitutional amendments in other states and he STILL lost. There is simply no rhyme or logic to the theory that Democrats have to be antigay in order to win elections, because it certainly doesn't seem to work when they do it.

In short, John, the person threatening "Sophie" is not an armed Nazi thug, but a kid with a wet cap pistol. Furthermore, the kid isn't threatening her children's lives -- s/he is just threatening to "out" her at work as being someone supportive of their party's own platform concerning gay rights, which promises gays "full inclusion" and "equality". Are Democrats really that terrified of being seen as supporting gay rights? If so, how in the WORLD can you argue that they will "help" us, when it's obvious that they will NOT stand up to their constitutencies and will throw us away at the first sign of trouble, a la Bill Clinton?

My challenge to you is twofold, John:

1) Reveal the names of your "outing committee".

2) Acknowledge publicly that you have not outed the staffers of antigay Democrats, nor are you inclined to do so.

At that point, with that information, I think the blogosphere and the gay press will take care of matters.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Dear Mike....Whaddya Think?

The following post is a reprint of an email I sent to Mike Signorile concerning events that took place today. I attempted to call in to Mike's radio show this afternoon, but was rebuffed.

Hi Mike....just wanted to get your feedback on John Aravosis's comments on Americablog today in regards to the article on RAW STORY in which it is alleged that Chris Crain, editor of the Washington Blade, is protecting individuals from being outed.

In the Comments section of the post, I mentioned that John and Mike Rogers had publicly admitted to protecting from outing the staffers of antigay Democrats -- that is, ones who had voted for the FMA and MPA, as I quote below:

I have yet to meet a Democrat staff member who opposes what their boss has done. The only case where one Democrat voted for the anti-gay law who has a gay staffer was clear to us that the member was forced to vote that way to attempt to hold the conservative leaning seat.

John himself confirms this today, albeit cryptically:


However, Aravosis was clearly quoted in the Washington Blade previously as completely contemptuous of those who tried the "work from inside" defense:

“An acquaintance of mine, a Southern Republican, worked for a member who was not anti-gay personally, but he signed on to the amendment [banning gay marriage],” Aravosis said. “My friend quit. I’m basically saying, ‘You know what, you have a choice. It’s 2004. You can work for pro-gay Democrats, and now you can work for pro-gay Republicans.’”

Finally, the argument that Aravosis makes for allowing Democrats to be antigay without any criticism from the gay community or tactics like outing being used is that it would be "political suicide" for them to be anything other than antigay. However, he is also openly against the argument that Republicans "have" to vote antigay because their constituents would vote them out of office. In short, Democrats may be antigay to pander for votes without reprisal, while Republicans may not.

My expectation is that you will not respond to this email, which is why I have attached additional members of the glbt media and will be reposting it on my blog at North Dallas Thirty where I will be commenting further on the issue of Rogers and Aravosis's apparent partisanship on this issue.

In any even, thank you for your time and consideration.

North Dallas Thirty

cc'd: Ken Sain, Chris Crain, and others

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

No, I'm Not a Lush...Really, I SWEAR I'm Not....

Thanks (I think) to Blog Ally Boi from Troy for pointing out a handy little online test to check your "alcohol smarts".

Bacardi 151
Congratulations! You're 134 proof, with specific scores in beer (100) , wine (83), and liquor (104).
All right. No more messing around. Your knowledge of alcohol is so high that you have drinking and getting plastered down to a science. Sure, you could get wasted drinking beer, but who needs all those trips to the bathroom? You head straight for the bar and pick up that which is most efficient.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

You scored higher than 61% on proof

You scored higher than 93% on beer index

You scored higher than 90% on wine index

You scored higher than 94% on liquor index
Link: The Alcohol Knowledge Test written by hoppersplit on Ok Cupid

I can't tell whether this is funny, or really, really scary.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

No ID, No Proof of Address, No Problem -- Cast Your Vote!

Today's nomination for the Misguided Ire Award has to go to Americablog for this doozy of a post blaming Republicans in the Georgia Legislature for supposedly "make(ing) voting more difficult" by requiring a photo ID to vote and disallowing things like Social Security cards and birth certificates.

I am reproducing the post in its entirety because I think it has an excellent chance of disappearing.
GOP continues to make voting more difficult
by Chris in Paris - 3/12/2005 03:59:00 AM

The Georgia Senate voted along party lines to remove 12 of 17 potential forms of ID for voting. Their argument is that they want to reduce voting fraud so you must have a valid photo ID and you are no longer able to use a Social Security card or a birth certificate. That's interesting because in order to receive a drivers license or a US passport those forms of ID are completely valid yet to vote in Georgia they're now useless. If they are afraid of voting fraud perhaps they should have included something in the bill that would provide free and easy registration for a photo ID. Then again, the GOP never seems all that interested in voting rights in the US.

First off, according to its sponsor, the bill DID contain something that would provide free registration for a photo ID, even given the nominal normal cost (ten dollars):
Staton said the bill allows anyone, even non-drivers, to apply for a state ID card from Georgia's motor vehicles department. He said people who can't afford one may request one for free.

Second, I was just thinking about all the things I do for which photo ID is required and a Social Security card or birth certificate wouldn't be sufficient identification by themselves.

-- Driving

-- Airport security (and quite often event security)

-- Buying alcohol or tobacco

-- Getting into a bar

-- Cashing a check

-- Using my credit card

-- Getting a passport or getting it renewed

-- Being hired for a job (you have to prove ID and citizenship or right to work)

It's kind of funny. I don't hear anyone complaining about THESE being "hardships" or that -- my favorite bit of rhetoric in the news piece -- having them in place is "stabbing race relations in the heart". Besides, Social Security cards and birth certificates are easily forged or doctored -- and, from a simple voting standpoint, they don't even include a current picture to positively identify the person voting or a current address to be certain said person actually lives in the district or precinct.

Why would black Democrats be supporting the use of forms of ID for voting that neither positively identify the person or show whether they're even eligible to vote in an area? Better yet, why would white liberals and Democrats be supporting them in doing so?

What say you to that, John Conyers and Barbara Boxer?

Friday, March 11, 2005

Is It Really "Free Speech" If They're Paying for It?

CNN Online had an interesting news item today concerning the Federal Election Commission's ongoing review of blogs and whether or not they should be regulated as political groups.
In separate letters, Democratic lawmakers and Internet commentators urged the Federal Election Commission to make sure that political Web sites that serve as focal points for political discussion, like and, don't have to comply with campaign-finance rules.

"Curtailing blogs and other online publications will dampen the impact of new voices in the political process and will do a disservice to the millions of voters who rely on the Web for original, insightful political commentary," said the Online Coalition, a group of bloggers and online activists.

Fourteen members of the House of Representatives said blogs foster a welcome diversity of viewpoints.

"This 'democratization' of the media is a welcome development in this era of media consolidation and a corresponding lack of diversity of views in traditional media outlets," said the group, which consists of thirteen Democrats and one Republican.

Personally, I disagree. As the whole Jeff Gannon incident has shown, websites and weblogs are perfectly capable of being turned into paid political advertisements, and as such should not be granted some kind of blanket clearance from scrutiny for being coordinated political activity.

Christian Grantham in particular is very conscientious about this -- he always is careful to show that he is working with a particular campaign when he blogs on that or a related issue. However, my suspicion is that Christian is, as usual, a very rare gem in the blogosphere -- and that there are far many more blogs receiving funding either from direct party entities, PACs, or 527 groups without making the fact public.

My personal solution is very simple -- blogs should be able to accept money from anyone for whatever reason, as long as the donor list is made public. Anyone who stays in the blogosphere for very long quickly realizes that the most powerful force in its universe is the self-correcting mechanism -- if a blog even LOOKS too partisan, another few will have at it and try to figure out why. This way, the FEC doesn't need to regulate political speech in blogs -- the ecosystem itself will take care of matters, as long as the information is readily available.

UPDATE (12 March): I've finally located some details on The Online Coalition and the fourteen Representatives who signed and sent the letter (thanks to dailyKos).

It doesn't surprise me that Ron Paul is on that list -- this is quite consistent with his general libertarian views on campaign finance. However, given the thirteen Democrats on that list, I can't help but wonder -- is this truly an expression of concern, or just another example of their opposition to anything that might negatively affect their ability to manipulate elections?

Friday Dog Blogging -- March 11, 2005

Today, for Friday Dog Blogging, I thought we'd do something a bit different -- something precipitated by a post on GayPatriot yesterday that brought a whole horde of conserva-pets -- not just dogs -- out of the closet (so to speak).

First off, GayPatriot's faithful companion, PatriotPooch, also caught in a somewhat more compromising position.

Next up came V the K's masters (clockwise beginning at top), Bumpkin, Achilles, and Hannibal.

Then, as Roaring Tiger put it, once they saw the other photos, hers demanded equal here's Kipper the Wonder Dog and Honanie, the Wondering Cat.

I will say that the NDT Mascot is quite pleased with the inclusion of PatriotPooch and Kipper....however, like certain levels of Republican Party leadership, he has not fully embraced the concept of the "big tent", especially in regard to cats....which will make things interesting if North Dallas Thirty and his current beau (2 cat-beasts) end up merging households.

From the NDT Mascot, me, and the League of Conservative Pets.....have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Dead Man Thinking

I was very impressed by a piece in Thursday's Dallas Morning News concerning Jesuit College Preparatory School's production of Tim Robbins's stage adaptation of Dead Man Walking, from the movie of the same name and based on the book by Sister Jean Prejean.

In particular, what really struck me was the fact that Robbins has made this available only to student productions at this point, with some unusual stipulations -- all profits must be donated to charity, discussion of capital punishment must be incorporated in some part into the school curriculum, and the cast must send Robbins a critique with suggestions for improvement.

This quite obviously has two major benefits. First off, it's a huge and heady rush for high-school students to be able to comment and talk with an Oscar-nominated director, especially on material of this magnitude. However, the biggest benefit, in my mind, is that it encourages students to talk about and explore their feelings concerning capital punishment.
Days before the Texas premiere of Mr. Robbins' new play, Dead Man Walking, members of the high school cast were discussing capital punishment.

"When I started the play, I wasn't necessarily opposed," said Kelly O'Neill, 16. "Now, I just see it as just a form of lynching people."

Anna Rossini, 15, plays Hope. Her character is raped and murdered. Before starting rehearsals, she opposed capital punishment. The show has tipped her thinking – but maybe not in the direction you'd expect.

After playing a victim and after watching the pain of her "family" in the drama, "I'm not as, 'No, no, no' about it as I was before," she said. "Now I'm more for it than against."......

Matt Clark, 18, plays Mitch, brother to the killer in the production. He was among the cast members who spent Monday in Huntsville.

He returned to Dallas with uncomfortable memories of the dark cells and the disinfectant smell of the execution room – and with a newfound ambivalence. He's still against capital punishment. But prison officials had recounted stories of convicted murderers assaulting guards and other prisoners.

"I wouldn't want them hurting anybody else," he said.

Tom Thorpe, 18, plays Matthew Poncelet, the murderer central to the story. (Sean Penn starred in the role in the film.) When Tom started the show, he leaned toward supporting the death penalty, he said last week.

"Now, I'm honestly not sure. Now, I'm questioning it a lot more.

"I hope to decide," he said, "by the end of the play."

Isn't that COOL? THAT'S what I call education -- being exposed to and guided to think through viewpoints that may not be your own.

I went through much the same process in my decision to support capital punishment. As a staunch pro-lifer (I oppose abortion as an option except in the case of rape, incest, or severe risk to the life of the mother), I've often heard the old, "How can you oppose killing babies but support killing others?"

The answer....I don't take ANY form of killing lightly. However, in the case of a baby in utero, you can't get any more innocent than that. The only time I can in good conscience even support it being legal to end that life is when a woman's right to choose whether or not to have sex has been taken from her, or if the baby's life endangers her own.

If someone chooses to end the life of another person, he or she in my mind forfeits their right to theirs. However, that should most often mean imprisonment, even for life, with death being reserved for only that which I consider most heinous -- willfully plotting and carrying out their plan to kill another. I support fully all legal attempts possible, including appeal and clemency, to ensure that even a murderer has their full right to a fair trial and decision under the law.

Even when the moment comes and the most awful power of the state must be wielded.....I think of Martin Luther's prayer for the executioner...."Dear Lord, I kill a man unwillingly, for in Your eyes, I am no better than he."

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Heaven's Got a New Cowboy

While driving home today, I got the news that country music artist and former bareback bronc riding world champion Chris LeDoux had passed away today.

Chris was, to make an allusion to Sideways, the pinot noir of country music -- not well-known or widely consumed, but a deep and rich blend, whole and satisfying, that spoke to a select group of devotees. Among the rodeo crowd in which I ran in college and later on the pro circuit, he was the soundtrack of our lives, playing from the stereos of worn-out Cadillacs and high-mileage pickups pulling three-horse trailers, singing over the loudspeakers of a million dusty arenas, and occasionally looking down at us gingerly two-stepping our way around the dance floor with a knowing grin. He had been there, had lived the life of an itinerant rodeo cowboy, and he sang about it -- the thrill of that gold buckle, the silent agony and pain of failure, the constant threat of death that hangs over a place where man and animal work together and occasionally collide -- to each and every one of us. Even more than that, he spoke not only to our present, but to our future -- finding the person we loved, settling down, having a beautiful ranch and friends -- and to the past that we represented, the Old West, the wild horses, the way of life that was fast disappearing.

I sat down when I got home tonight and took out my collection of his CDs and tapes.....feeling the rough surfaces, the worn jewel cases, the greasy fingerprints.....the case in which I kept them still faintly redolent of arena dust and horse manure....and I cried.

I still don't know why....whether it was for the loss of Chris....or something more....the thanks for all the long days I spent singing with him hauling down the interstate, all the nights he accompanied as my buddies and I celebrated being young, single cowboys....for being my inspiration to get into singing and DJing myself....and for accompanying some very special dances with even more special fellows.

To Chris's family, those of us out here share your pain and wish you all the best.....thank you so much for sharing him with us for all these years.

To Chris himself......I think the best tribute would be his own words from his song, "One Less Twister"......
Now there's one less tornado in Texas
And a saddle that's empty tonight
There's one hell of a cowboy in heaven
At that big rodeo in the sky

Thank you for everything, Chris.... vaya con Dios, mi amigo.

We Shall Out Everyone...Well, Almost Everyone...Maybe More Like No One Who Is....

As Blog Ally Christian Grantham confirmed this morning, Joe Solmonese is the new President of the Human Rights Campaign.

What I thought was particularly interesting about this choice was what it confirms about the values of the so-called "outing" campaigns. As I recently and previously blogged, both John Aravosis and Mike Rogers, despite their pronouncements that anyone who used sexual orientation for political gain would be "outed to the rafters", have not outed staffers of antigay Democrats who voted FOR the Federal Marriage Amendment and Marriage Protection Act, while going after Republican staffers whose bosses voted similarly and Republicans like Mark Foley who voted AGAINST both.

The plot thickens with the addition of Solmonese. As the Washington Blade reports:
Last year, Solmonese defended Emily’s List over the gay marriage issue when that group endorsed a pro-choice U.S. Senate candidate who backed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The candidate, Democrat Inez Tenenbaum of South Carolina, received more than $300,000 in contributions from Emily’s List in her race against Republican Jim DeMint, who defeated Tenenbaum in November.

While this action on the part of EMILY'S List provoked outrage and public flagellation from activists for EMILY'S List founder Emily Malcom, who was no longer even directly associated with the group, Solmonese, the then-CEO, remained remarkably untouched and barely even mentioned.

To put this into perspective, I doubt a single one of these screaming activists would let a gay Republican staffer or organizational leader get by with endorsing candidates who endorsed the FMA with excuses about "political reality" or "think of the bigger picture". However, let a Democrat do it, and utter silence fills the air.

One has to wonder...why do these activists cease to care about gay rights when Democrats advocate and support taking them away?

UPDATE: The plot thickens even more in regards to Solmonese's selection. For daring to criticize HRC's choice, gay liberal blogger Michael of GayOrbit was blasted as a "gay right-winger" by RAWSTORYQ -- the "queer" side of liberal gadfly blog RAWSTORY -- edited by none other than Mike Rogers! Back on Americablog, I'm still waiting for John Aravosis to even mention Solmonese's endorsement of FMA-pusher Tenenbaum.

Both Rogers and Aravosis have professed to dislike HRC in the past. Why are they suddenly being such syncophants for it now, especially given Solmonese's past?

UPDATE (10 March): Per Ian S.'s valid point, I have changed the wording of the post to clarify that my evidence shows that Rogers and Aravosis have not outed staffers of Democrats who voted for the FMA and MPA. The possibility exists that there are antigay Democratic legislators as well who are closeted; however, I do not have any evidence to that point. In either case, given Rogers's and Aravosis's "outings" of staffers of Republicans who voted for the FMA and MPA, as well as their pursuit of Republicans like Mark Foley who voted AGAINST the FMA and MPA and who has a higher HRC "gay-friendly" score than most Democrats, it seems safe to say that these "outings", contrary to Rogers's and Aravosis's claims, are almost wholly partisan and have very little to do with gay rights.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Monday Begging for Content for Friday Dog Blogging

Yes, I've been unusually blog-productive today......better late than never, I guess.

To help support Friday Dog Blogging, I would love to hear from those of you who share your lives with an animal friend. Canids are of course what the emphasis will be on, but in the interests of diversity and acceptance, all species of pet are welcome (yes, Lloydletta, including your cat).

Please include a photo (or photos) of your animal pal and a brief outline of their history with you; this should be sent to .

The Self-Immolation of Mike Rogers, Phase I

Over on, Mike Rogers is currently blowing a gasket over House Representative Mark Foley's vote in favor of the Workforce Investment Act, which would allow religious organizations that receive federal funds to operate job training programs to discriminate on the basis of religious grounds in hiring their own employees. Some gay groups have also gotten upset over this particular provision, the theory being that this would allow discrimination based on religious objection to sexual orientation.

(My response: Indeed it does -- as well as allowing discrimination based on someone else's religion, lifestyle, whatever. Besides, look on the bright side -- it's now legal for gay churches to discriminate against straight people, if they so choose.)

The entertaining thing about all of this is that Foley actually has a superb record, according to HRC's 2004 scorecard -- a rating of 88, which is better than five, equal to one, and worse than only one of Florida's 7 Democratic House Representatives. Foley voted against both the Federal Marriage Amendment and the Marriage Protection Act and supported ENDA and hate crimes legislation. Of course, none of those make any difference if you're a Republican; that was John Aravosis's theory for "outing" Foley last summer, purportedly based on information from Foley's former aide, Kirk Fordham -- who told the Washington Blade that he had never even spoken with Aravosis.

As I've posted before, neither Aravosis or Rogers have any trouble with protecting closeted gay staffers of Democrats and Democrats themselves who vote FOR the FMA and MPA, or other antigay laws, nor did they bother to "out" a single person on the Kerry campaign, which agitated for state constitutional amendments banning gay marriage and whose candidate wouldn't actually VOTE against the FMA out of fear for how that vote would appear. The anti-Foley diatribe underscores the obvious -- the outing campaign has nothing to do with gay rights.

I have titled this post "Phase I" because I believe that it is only the beginning. With the recent court decision that bloggers are not protected by shield laws that prevent journalists from being required to provide their confidential sources, Mike Rogers's days of being able to post "anonymous" sources without proof are numbered -- and his attempt to hide behind RAW STORY as a "journalism" site for its protections should be about as effective as Jeff Gannon's attempt to hide behind Talon News. The embarrassment of his going after a Republican with a better gay-rights record than most Democrats should assist greatly in drying up what funding streams and public support he is receiving from gay-left groups worried about their public image.

Sit back and enjoy; I've got the popcorn.

In the Blackboard Jungle: Creationism and Evolution

A couple of weeks ago, Blog Ally Lloydletta picked up on a post I had made about how I was taught both creationism and evolution in high school biology and asked if I could elaborate on what was taught.

First off, to establish the situation, I went to a small private Lutheran Christian high school that had a very strong emphasis on college preparation -- indeed, most of the teachers there had previously been college professors. Religion was a required component for all four years -- Bible history for the freshmen, systematic theology for sophomores (digging into the basics of Lutheran theology), comparative theology for juniors (comparing Lutheran theology to other religions), and applied theology for seniors (applying religion to real-life problems). The school also made a conscious effort to integrate religion into the majority of the curriculum; some results were rather clumsy, as was my tenth-grade geometry textbook, but most were rather striking, as was my sophomore biology.

The opening point in the discussion of evolution and creationism was simply defining the context of the Bible. First off, in the Lutheran theology, the Bible is the literal, inspired, inerrant, and infallible Word of God; however, the point of every portion of the Bible is towards the saving grace of God through Jesus Christ. As my teacher put it, every portion of Scripture is interpreted in the light of John 3:16. While the Bible contains passages of natural history and descriptions, those are not there to make it a natural history textbook -- they are there to point the way to God's saving grace, and in that context, they are literal, inspired, inerrant, and infallible.

The passages concerning Leviathan in Job 41 are a good example. People have used this description for decades to "prove" that evolution is wrong because "obviously this describes a dinosaur, which means they were around at the same time". However, that's not the point of those passages. Leviathan could be real, it could be a mythical beast used as an example, whatever -- the point being made is that God is far greater than man and beyond man's comprehension to understand, as Job reiterates in Chapter 42, and which points back to God's saving grace.

Second off was a very simple point -- not directly recognizing the divine presence or capability of intervention does not necessarily mean that one denies its presence. To explain this, my teacher went back to the Lutheran theological view of the Lord's Supper (Eucharist, Holy Communion, etc.). One of the issues that the Lutheran church has always had with the Roman Catholic Church is the concept of "transubstantiation" -- namely that, in the Eucharist, as the priest performs the rite of consecration, the bread and the wine are transformed into Christ's body and blood while retaining their "accidents" (shape, color, taste, etc.) Martin Luther's view was that this made of the sacrament a magic spell of conjuration, as if God was not there prior to its performance. In the Lutheran viewpoint, God is everywhere throughout His creation as a sustaining force; the Eucharist recognizes that fact and reveals God where He is, rather than treating the Host like a chunk of God fallen from heaven.

Third was the discussion concerning what the theory of evolution really is -- basically, at its root, that the populations of organisms change with their environments; how they do so is that those individual organisms which are better adapted to the environment have a higher tendency to survive and pass on their traits to their offspring, which increases the proportion of those traits in the population. Too often, evolution is mischaracterized as the "man came from monkeys" theory -- that is an application of the theory, not the theory itself.

Finally, to tie all these together, we looked at a particular event in the Bible that historically has been a clash point between theology and science -- Joshua 10. In this passage, it describes how Joshua prayed to God for the "sun and moon to stand still". If you interpret this directly from a strict fundamentalist viewpoint, it means that Copernicus and Galileo were wrong -- since Joshua ordered the sun and moon to stand still, it means that THEY move, not the earth. If you interpret this from a straight scientific standpoint, it means the Bible is wrong -- since observation proves that the earth moves around the sun.

However, as my teacher pointed out, both of those are extreme viewpoints that completely exclude any other forms of understanding. The point of the Bible passage is that Joshua prayed and God answered; HOW the "sun stayed still" is irrelevant to that point. The same applies on the scientific side; if you don't get hung up on the "sun stood still" part, you could logically explain it within Copernican and Galileo's theory by saying that the earth stopped rotating.

The same applies to evolution. From a creationist standpoint, denying evolution means that everything is the same as it was originally created -- which makes of the earth a static entity, in complete defiance of what can be observed. Conversely, complete denial of creationism runs headlong into the fact that the sheer magnitude of probabilities involved, as well as the gaps in the fossil record, mean that the theory of evolution as a replacement for creation is based on extrapolations of things not tangibly observed -- which is a general violation of the scientific rule that theories must be testible and based on solid evidence.

In short, as my teacher put it, creationists have tried to make of faith science, and evolutionists have tried to make of science faith. The simple fact is that we don't know, nor can we prove, how things came about. However, when one considers the basic definition of evolution, it is not incompatible with creationism -- there is nothing to say that God didn't "start" the whole process, nor does saying that evolution exists deny God (see second point above). The problem comes when you try to "stretch" either theory beyond what it actually says to prove your point. Nowhere in Genesis does it say that God created everything as-is, with no changes to ever happen; nor does the theory of evolution automatically "prove" that all species on earth are the result of millenia following a lucky chemical reaction.

Indeed, I lean towards the theory that God, as the song goes, "set time in motion"; the fact that evolution, a marvelous adaptive process that humans can barely comprehend, much less duplicate in our own "constructs" exists is proof to me of His wisdom and power in the design of things. God can "interrupt" at any time; the fact that He usually doesn't does not mean that He can't, nor does it mean that He isn't present.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Remember the Alamo

After the minor embarrassment of Blog Ally Boi from Troy pointing out that several Texas-based blogs, mine included, had not (yet) mentioned Texas Independence Day on March 2nd, I was especially not going to be caught flat-footed on Alamo Day, March 6th.

It's hard to say whether or not you would count Alamo Day as a holiday in Texas -- after all, it's a commemoration of a defeat and massacre. However, for 169 years, it has been remembered -- in battle cry, in song and story, on the silver screen and boob tube, and in the hearts of millions of Texans. I particularly like the way the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, who are the caretakers of the Alamo, phrase it:
While the facts surrounding the siege of the Alamo continue to be debated, there is no doubt about what the battle has come to symbolize. People worldwide continue to remember the Alamo as a heroic struggle against overwhelming odds — a place where men made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. For this reason the Alamo remains hallowed ground and the Shrine of Texas Liberty.

As an aside, the Daughters of the Republic of Texas's Alamo website is one of the best resources out there for discussions of the battle itself, refuting common myths and misconceptions, and learning more about the Texas Revolution.

In a related story, the Dallas Morning News leads off this Sunday morning with the story of how the last remaining known battle flag flown by the Texans at the Battle of the Alamo has reappeared in the Museum of Natural History at Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City. Over the past decades, many attempts have been made to get the flag returned, everything from offering exchanges of other flags that we Texans have to Santa Anna's cork leg to attempts to make NAFTA acceptance conditional on it (yep, we have a fair amount of clout as a state). As the story points out, though, this flag has immense symbolic value to the Mexicans -- to Santa Anna, it was proof of the United States's meddling in Mexican affairs; to many Mexicans today, it is one of the few trophies they have of what they consider a massive land grab by their neighbor to the north; and finally, by right of war, they won the battle.

As a bred Texan and citizen of the Republic, I remember well that the Texas Revolution was not Anglo versus Mexican, but Anglo and Tejano citizens -- Texans -- who were rebelling against a dictator who had taken away their political rights and freedoms. As a symbol of that unity, and as a gesture of friendship, I propose that we relinquish our demand for the Alamo battle flag, asking only that it remain on display in the Museum as a reminder of the desire of both peoples, Texans and Mexicans for liberty and freedom.

I like to think Colonel Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett would approve.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Strange Doings in Dallas County

I must admit, this is one of those stories that gets even more interesting the deeper you dig.

In the Thursday Dallas Morning News, I noticed an interesting article concerning the latest meeting of the Dallas County Democratic Party, which could only be described as "contentious". One line in there particularly caught my attention:

[Dallas County Democratic Party Chair Susan Hay's] detractors include Mr. Molberg, Democrat Theresa Daniel and Shannon Bailey, head of the Stonewall Democrats, a gay and lesbian political group.

As I dug a bit deeper concerning the principals in this argument, I came upon one view and another view of what happened on Burnt Orange Report, as well as some other takes from StoutDem and 100 Monkeys Typing, and all I can say at this point, perspective is everything.

OK, so one may be thinking at this point, why is NDT, who leans towards the conservative and Republican side of the fence, blogging on this at all? Part of it is the Schadenfreude best expressed in GayPatriot's immortal words, "Ooooo.....Kitty has claws". However, the mature and responsible reason for my concern about it is my belief that infighting among Democrats has the potential to cause some significant damage to the delicate balance of Dallas's political ecosystem that supports and encourages nondiscrimination protections for gays.

The reason is fairly simple. It wasn't that long ago that Dwaine Caraway was gaybaiting Ed Oakley in the 2001 Dallas City Council District 6 election which, as Jim Schutze's seminal article points out, Oakley won primarily because of John Wiley Price's endorsement of him to spite Caraway, which siphoned away direct support for Caraway in the black community, and pushing local black activists into manipulating the absentee ballot system enough to counter Caraway's own machinations of the same.

In this situation, though, Price, State Senator Royce West, State Representatives Rafael Anchia and Jesse Jones, AND Sheriff Lupe Valdez have sent letters to the precinct chairs in Dallas County supporting Ms. Hays, while Michael Moon and Shannon Bailey have sent dueling emails, being sure that everyone knows they are "President, Dallas Stonewall Democrats" and "President, Texas Stonewall Democrats" respectively. In short, the official gauntlet has been thrown down -- the groups that purport to represent gay Democrats want Ms. Hays out.

My response: You're nuts. While it's true that there are reports out there that paint Ms. Hayes as everything from Elphaba to Glinda, the simple fact remains that she has the support of the vast majority of Dallas County's Democratic elected officials. Given that Michael hardly had the unanimous support of the Dallas Stonewall Democrats (the vote to act against Ms. Hayes was 20 - 12), and I doubt that the Texas Stonewall Democrats as a whole have approved this, it seems more than a bit presumptuous to give the impression that gays uniformly want her out -- and it quite frankly gives Price, et al., more than enough reason to stop listening to you, or worse, turn loose the worst of The Potter's House devotees on gays. In addition, going into the very real possibility that the strong-mayor initiative will pass in Dallas, the resulting turf war and alliance-building to protect what powers exist on the City Council opens the danger that polarizing minorities will be excluded.

If Michael and Shannon want Ms. Hayes out for whatever reason, that is their right as citizens and party members. However, the impression is that they are using their Stonewall titles to enhance their "authority" to get Ms. Hayes out. If it were a question of her being antigay, that would be appropriate; however, that does not seem to be the issue in this case. My suggestion is that they continue their opposition to Ms. Hayes -- sans the use of their Stonewall titles.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Friday Dog Blogging -- March 4, 2005

One of the travails of travel when you share your life with a small furry friend like the NDT Mascot is finding a place for your buddy to stay when you're out of town. Fortunately, the Thirty is well-placed in a beautiful neighborhood full of dog lovers, all of whom are happy to have the Mascot over for a visit.

Perhaps HIS favorite to visit, though, is his next-door neighbor -- a sweet female, about thirteen, in her twilight years, but more than willing to play Norma Desmond to the Mascot's Joe Gillis (although with generally a MUCH happier ending). In Avea's honor, today's Dog Blogging will be on the noble German Shepherd.

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The German Shepherd as we know it today is primarily the work of Captain Max von Stephanitz who in 1899, building on the work of the earlier Phylax Society, purchased an exceptional dog named Horand von Grafeth and formed the Verein fur deutsche Schaferhunde (Association of the German Sheepdog, or SV). Under von Stephanitz's tight control, a program of line- and selective breeding, using careful crosses with sheepdogs from other portions of Germany, was begun to fix permanently specific qualities of the breed like ear and tail carriage, size, color, and temperament. This intense program was so successful that, within ten years of its founding, the SV was the largest single-breed dog registry in the world.

Von Stephanitz was aware that the breed could not survive as a sheepdog; thus, his next campaign was to demonstrate that the same qualities of bravery, intelligence, and hardiness that made German Shepherds such excellent herders could also put them to excellent use in government service -- and with the onset of World War I, the German Shepherd proved these qualities to both sides. When recognized as a separate breed by the English Kennel Club in 1919, the name "German Shepherd" was replaced with "Alsatian Wolf Dog" to avoid the taint of "German" -- which is why German Shepherds were often referred to as "Alsatians" in English reports and literature.

As befits von Stephanitz's original vision, the German Shepherd is by far the most popular dog for use in police, rescue, and service work, for which its steadfast and steady temperament and high trainability is well-suited. Because of the breed's relatively small degree of genetic diversity, it is susceptible to inherited bone and joint difficulties (dysplasias); this has been heightened by careless breeders attracted by the easy money to be made in churning out puppies. Still, the German Shepherd makes an ideal and active pet, a a blue-blood born with a regal bearing, who gives his or her loved ones the most intense devotion and protection for which one can ask.

A book I recommend for any dog lover is First Lady of the Seeing Eye by Morris Frank, which details his experiences and travels with his guide dog, a German Shepherd he named Buddy, as well as their establishment of the first guide dog school in the United States and their relentless campaign to get service dogs allowed into all public spaces. If the final pages don't make you cry, you don't have a heart.

As always, if a German Shepherd sounds like a good match for you, please contact the American German Shepherd Rescue Association. As always seems to happen with a "popular" breed, there are far too many German Shepherds abandoned after they outgrow their cute puppy stage, or when their owner's failure to train them results in "bad" behavior; all they need is a good home, and you can provide it.

From me, the NDT Mascot (aka Gigolo), and his sweetie Avea....have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Happy Texas Independence Day!

That's right......169 years ago today, on March 2, 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted at Washington-on-the-Brazos, just south of modern-day College Station. With this Declaration, Texas ceased functioning as the Mexican Department of Tejas and became the new Republic of Texas.

After the Mexican Revolution of 1821, which established Mexico's independence, Jose Antonio Navarro, the mayor of San Antonio de Bexar (modern-day San Antonio), who had fled to the United States after participating in a Texian revolt against the Spanish central government in 1813, but had returned to Texas, began to assist Stephen Austin, a US impresario, in bringing Anglo settlers and recent immigrants from the United States to the Texas area, drawn by land grants of 4,000 acres in return for becoming a Mexican citizen. Navarro's motivation, in connivance with Austin, was primarily to settle the land quickly enough to assure a considerable degree of autonomy from the central government; they largely succeeded, even after the banning of new immigration and the creation of the new state of Coahuila y Tejas by the progressive Mexican Constitution of 1824, which established Mexico as a federal republic almost identical in structure to the United States. However, after General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna's ascension to the Presidency of Mexico in 1833, the situation deteriorated; Santa Anna, out of distrust and an obsessive belief that the United States was planning to invade Texas, tightened centralized control, dissolved the state legislatures and abolished the constitution, including the guarantees of political freedom for the Texans. The Anglo and Tejano settlers rebelled, and immediately repelled an invasion force of 600 soldiers from the Alamo mission outside San Antonio de Bexar that had been sent to pacify the city, enraging Santa Anna.

At nearly the same time that Navarro and other delegates were leaving for a gathering of Texas leaders at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Santa Anna was advancing on San Antonio de Bexar. The defenders of San Antonio de Bexar, Anglos and Tejanos, barricaded themselves in the Alamo, in defiance flying a flag emblazoned with "1824", in reference to the Republic of Mexico as a reproach to Santa Anna. Meanwhile, at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Navarro, among others, signed the Declaration of Texas Independence, decrying Santa Anna's attack on liberties and declaring Texas an independent republic -- ultimately the only independent republic recognized by foreign governments to be admitted to the United States.
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Let the Lone Star fly!