Ted Haggard still struggles with his sexuality

Of course he does.
This story is all over but I wanted to get us talking about it as well. Here is the AP video of the story.

I hope to find a way to see the documentary without getting HBO. What Mr. Haggard is doing by striving to maintain his marriage vows is an honorable effort. He is giving voice to many who remain same-sex attracted while in heterosexual marriages. There are many marriages like this which fail but others remain intact.

The Blue Cloud Lives! It's a Portsmouth, Ohio thing

Someone named Berthos just revived a thread from 2006 called “You might be from Porchmuth, if…” Porchmuth (how the natives say it) is really Portsmouth, Ohio, my home town.
Reading through the comments, I remembered at the time trying to find a pic of the memorable-yet-tacky Blue Cloud. Couldn’t find one at the time. Well, I struck Blue Cloud gold tonight.
The Blue Cloud lives!

Here is the caption from the blogger, David Reynolds, who posted this gem.

The infamous Blue Cloud modern art sculpture now resides in a fenced in yard between the new Portsmouth Elementary School playground and Kim’s house. The Blue Cloud used to be downtown in the Roy Rogers Esplanade until some woman tripped over its far left side and fell and sued the city! Tripped over a huge blue cloud in Portsmouth…. Wowsers… And sued!

Well, that is much of the story. First, the Blue Cloud was simply erected in the middle of a common area in the middle of an open area downtown. People could touch it, ponder it up close, etc. But then the accident happened and a chain fence went up around it. Some were not happy with the Blue Cloud going into captivity. A group was formed called Free the Blue Cloud. Finally it was removed. At least that’s how I remember it.
Now The Blue Cloud sits in a restful-yet-proud place as noted by Mr. Reynolds.

Friday open forum: Auto bailout, Blagojevich, Minnesota Senate race, etc.

UPDATE: Blagojevich schedules a news conference for today at 2pm (CST). Gives me time to get some popcorn.
Just saw George Bush announce the 17.4 billion dollar loan program for the auto makers. They have three months to get their sorry act together or he says bankruptcy is coming. Problem is he won’t be there…
Coleman is only +2 on Franken. Gives me the creeps just typing it.
And Blago slows his demise.
Blago’s news conference.

Emanuel: Hey can you hold my place while I go to the White House?

It is always nice when you are in line somewhere and you have to leave the line to do something else and the person behind you says, ‘go ahead, I’ll hold your spot.’
Chicago Alderman Pat O’Connor is that kind of guy.
From today’s Sun-Times:

Emanuel was on track to become U.S. House speaker someday before accepting Obama’s offer. He has told Democratic ward bosses that he would like to reclaim the seat after a few years as chief of staff.
He was believed to be leaning toward O’Connor, in part, because the alderman might be amenable to giving up the seat at some point.

But in light of the Blagojevich scandal, probably not. Emanuel, according to a Dem operative and quoted in the Sun-Times article, has “gone underground.”
I saw this story first on Progress Illinois (I read all of those progressive sites, you know). The author there, Josh Kalven, seemed surprised Emanuel would angle for his spot back.

When rumors surfaced in mid-November that Rahm Emanuel was hoping to find a placeholder to sit on his House seat until he finished up a stint as White House chief of staff, it left a lot of folks — including myself — scratching their head. The idea that Emanuel would attempt to pull off such a maneuver amid all the intense media scrutiny on Illinois seemed a bit far-fetched.

Today’s Sun-Times article, quoted above, seems to indicate the story was more than a rumor.
Kalven says the Blago mess may have a positive effect on the 5th District race.

CQ’s Emma Dumain called me on the day of Blagojevich’s arrest to gauge the impact on the 5th Congressional District race. I hinted at the time that I thought the governor’s scandal would prevent any of the rumored manuevering from advancing and allow for a relatively clean race. Spielman’s report seems to indicate things are moving that direction. We’ll see if it lasts.

Here is what Kalven said to the Congressional Quarterly writer:

“This could actually be good news for the people of the district,” said Josh Kalven, editor of the news and commentary Web site Progress Illinois. “It creates an opportunity for a candidate who’s squeaky clean — who’s an outsider in terms of machine politics in the city and state — to have a shot at the seat.”

Dribs and drabs – Emanuel did talk directly to Blago. When the headlines say Emanuel pressed for Jarrett, read Obama pressed for Jarrett. Rahm doesn’t roll without Obama saying go. How it looks to me is that Obama wanted this to look like Blago was running the selection but was putting some pressure on behind the scenes. Nothing illegal if no quid pro quo is revealed but the reality is at odds with the portrayal. Now the seat is radioactive and will probably come to a special election — unless IL Dems can find some other way to fill the seat without putting it to a vote.

Gays groups benefit from failed mortgage company donations

Picking an unpopular target, PFOX this morning points out that Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae donated thousands of dollars over the last several years to PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), HRC (Human Rights Campaign) and GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).
The news release published on Market Watch, alleges that Freddie and Fannie donated to fundraising events for the organizations. The release quotes a spokesperson for Freddie Mac:

Shawn Flaherty, a spokeswoman for Freddie Mac, said she was not sure PFOX would meet the grant guidelines, adding the foundation focuses on three priorities — stable homes, foster care and adoption, and youth development.
The grants have not focused on the gay community, she said. “It’s a piece of it.”

Only the farthest right would be upset over helping needy gay people get homes. In the years leading up to the collapse, the mortgage giants were encouraged to help anyone who couldn’t get loans otherwise. Hindsight tells us that this was shortsighted, and sexual orientation has nothing to do with that.
What raises eyebrows is that these groups were donating money to charities for non-housing related purposes (fundraising galas?). We know these two groups donated money to politicians who regulated them over the years. Apparently, these groups wanted to curry favor with ideologically based groups as well. While I speculate that left-of-center groups were the main beneficiaries, I would have to review their records to know for sure.
It would be interesting to follow this money to find out if any of these donations were suggested by politicians regulating Fannie and Freddie.
The PFOX release says all grants are “under review.” Under review by whom? While I would like to know, I am not going to bother asking since they do not answer queries from me. My suggestion would be for them to make this more clear and to provide links to the documents from which they derived this information.
PFOX says it wants the same money. Not going to happen. I hope this is a rhetorical device and not a policy objective. I would oppose this request as I would requests from any non-housing related group. A few thousand here, a few thousand there and pretty soon, it gets to be millions and then billions. It isn’t a matter of the government related agencies funding my favorite charity; it is why are they funding anybody’s favorite charity?

Gay leaders angry over inaugural invocation by Rick Warren

Huffington Post and Politico.com have stories about this.
Here is HuffPo’s Sam Stein’s take on it:

Ever since Barack Obama was elected president, the media has been pining to write a story about liberal dissatisfaction with his transition efforts. By and large, the meme has been blown out of proportion, as the press overestimated how divisive Obama’s cabinet choices were for progressives.
The press may now have its conflict moment. And it comes in the form of the spiritual leader chosen to launch Obama’s inauguration.
On Wednesday, the transition team and Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies announced that Rick Warren, pastor of the powerful Saddleback Church, would give the invocation on January 20th. The selection may not have been incredibly surprising. Obama and Warren are reportedly close — Obama praised the Megachurch leader in his second book “The Audacity of Hope.” Warren, meanwhile, hosted a values forum between Obama and McCain during the general election. Nevertheless, the announcement is being greeted with deep skepticism in progressive religious and political circles.

Gay leaders are furious.

“Picking Rick Warren to give THE invocation,” wrote John Aravosis on AmericaBlog, “is abominable.”
“Let me get right to the point,” Joe Solomnese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a harsh letter to the president-elect, “Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans.”

Just yesterday, Obama picked Chicago’s Arne Duncan as Education secretary. The same Duncan who favored an all gay high school in Chicago. Clearly, Obama is more pro-gay than pro-social conservative but this choice is especially galling because Warren supported Proposition 8 in California.
I suspect pro-choice advocates are none too happy either.
I think Obama likes Warren even though he disagrees with him on many issues. Warren clearly brings together evangelical doctrine with social compassion in a way that is attractive. I suspect Obama would like to change Warren’s mind on issues but knowing he cannot, he wants to reinforce the good he sees in Warren and those likeminded.
In any event, we all have to live together even though we disagree on how to even frame up the issues. I doubt Obama will back down on this and may use it as a means to get across a message of co-existence.
UPDATE: 12/18/08 – Sam Stein has the Obama talking points regarding Rick Warren.

• This will be the most open, accessible, and inclusive Inauguration in American history.
• In keeping with the spirit of unity and common purpose this Inauguration will reflect, the President-elect and Vice President-elect have chosen some of the world’s most gifted artists and people with broad appeal to participate in the inaugural ceremonies.
• Pastor Rick Warren has a long history of activism on behalf of the disadvantaged and the downtrodden. He’s devoted his life to performing good works for the poor and leads the evangelical movement in addressing the global HIV/AIDS crisis. In fact, the President-elect recently addressed Rick Warren’s Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health to salute Warren’s leadership in the struggle against HIV/AIDS and pledge his support to the effort in the years ahead.
• The President-elect disagrees with Pastor Warren on issues that affect the LGBT community. They disagree on other issues as well. But what’s important is that they agree on many issues vital to the pursuit of social justice, including poverty relief and moving toward a sustainable planet; and they share a commitment to renewing America’s promise by expanding opportunity at home and restoring our moral leadership abroad.
• As he’s said again and again, the President-elect is committed to bringing together all sides of the faith discussion in search of common ground. That’s the only way we’ll be able to unite this country with the resolve and common purpose necessary to solve the challenges we face.
• The Inauguration will also involve Reverend Joseph Lowery, who will be delivering the official benediction at the Inauguration. Reverend Lowery is a giant of the civil rights movement who boasts a proudly progressive record on LGBT issues. He has been a leader in the struggle for civil rights for all Americans, gay or straight.
• And for the very first time, there will be a group representing the interests of LGBT Americans participating in the Inaugural Parade.

UPDATE: 12/18/08 – Rick Warren just issued a statement via the Christian Newswire. Here is the entire statement:

Statement by Dr. Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church Regarding the Invitation from President-elect Obama to Deliver the Inaugural Invocation
LAKE FOREST, Calif., Dec. 18 /Christian Newswire/ — “I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.
“Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.
“The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history.”
Media Contact:
A. Larry Ross 469.774.6362
Kristin Cole 615.289.6701
media@rickwarrennews.com

International Healing Foundation releases infomercial; ready to heal the world

Richard Cohen’s International Healing Foundation has released an infomercial describing their services and claims. Roll the tape…

In the video, he features his three part program designed to help people go straight, help their kids go straight, and help their clients go straight. He thinks pretty highly of these resources as is apparent in his Fall, 2008 newsletter:

WE HAVE THE ANSWERS
I am proud to announce that I have completed 21 years in public service and ministry. God called me in June 1987 to reach out and help those with unwanted SSA and their loved ones, and to spread the truth throughout the world that no one is born this way, no one chooses to have SSA, and that change is possible. I have been faithful and even more so, successful in helping thousands change their orientation and parents reconcile with their SSA loved ones. Furthermore, I have trained and educated thousands of professionals, equipping them with a systematic approach to helping SSA strugglers and their families. The International Healing Foundation (IHF) is the first organization in the world to create three landmark proven successful protocols:
Coming Out Straight–book and CD/MP3 series
Gay Children, Straight Parents–book and CD/MP3 series
Counselor Training Program–manual and CD/MP3 series
These are our three Olympic Gold Medals to help heal the world! I spent a lifetime preparing and training for this moment. I fought my way out of homosexuality. Against all odds I came out straight! That was indeed a miracle of God.

And you can have this miracle too if you sign up for the three Gold Medals. The world could use a little healing but I am skeptical it will come through IHF.
Richard has big plans for 2009. In his newsletter, he details them. Here is perhaps the most ambitious:

Loving Gays the Right Way: Exposing the Homosexual Myth is the title of a new book that I will write next year. Please read more about this in the 2009 Goals and Projects section. Together we can make a difference, saving one life at a time. Thank you for all your support this year and please contribute generously and/or purchase multiple copies of our books and CD series to donate to public and church libraries. For a contribution of $40 or more, we’ll send you a complimentary copy of the school DVD upon its completion.

He also wants to produce a video for schools which he mentions in the last line.

Over the past year I have shared about our ambitious project to create a film for use in public schools. This year we have already filmed two powerful stories of change—one youngman and his parents from the Midwest, and another from the East Coast. We will film a young woman either by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2009. Each of thesemen and woman came out of homosexuality! Their stories are powerful and will speak directly to our young people in public schools that they do have a choice—either to live a gay life, or to seek change and come out straight. We will promote true tolerance, real diversity, and equality for all!

Richard appears to have a love-hate relationship with the media. He seems to love being involved in it but it has not always been friendly to him. In the latter category is his appearance on the recent documentary, Chasing the Devil. In it he walks off camera twice when asked difficult questions about asking clients to raise money for IHF and his practice of bioenergetics. In a future post, I will review that video.

Shoprite refuses to inscribe cake for child named after Adolf Hitler

This is a disturbing story on several levels.
A Pennsylvania couple have named their children after Nazi figures, including naming their three year old son after Adolf Hitler. The parents wanted Shoprite to inscribe a cake with his full name for his birthday party. The store refused. Now the parents are outraged. The Warren County (NJ) Express-Times went in depth. Here are some excerpts:

HOLLAND TWP. | In a living room decorated with war books, German combat knives and swastikas, a 2-year-old boy, blond and blue-eyed, played with a plastic dinner set.
The boy, asked his name, put down a tiny plate and ran behind his father’s leg. He flashed a shy smile but wouldn’t answer. Heath Campbell, 35, the boy’s father, encouraged him.
“Say Adolf,” said Campbell, a Holocaust denier who has three children named for Nazism.
Again, the boy wouldn’t answer. It wasn’t the first time the name caused hesitation.
Adolf Hitler Campbell — it’s indeed the name on his birth certificate — turns 3 today, and the Campbell family believes the boy has been mistreated. A local supermarket refused to make a birthday cake with “Adolf Hitler” on it.

The ShopRite rationale, while somewhat vague, reserved their right to decide what was appropriate for them to do. Wal-Mart accommodated the request.

Karen Meleta, a ShopRite spokeswoman, said the grocer tries to meet customer requests but rejects those deemed inappropriate. “We believe the request to inscribe a birthday wish to Adolf Hitler is inappropriate,” she said.
The grocer offered to make a cake with enough room for the Campbells to write their own inscription. But the Campbells refused, saying they would have a cake made at the Wal-Mart in Lower Nazareth Township. The Campbells say Wal-Mart made cakes for Adolf’s first two birthdays.
A spokeswoman for Wal-Mart said the store won’t put anything illegal or profane on a cake but thinks it’s important to respect the views of customers and employees.
“Our No. 1 priority in decorating cakes is to serve the customer to the best of our ability,” Anna Taylor, the spokeswoman, said from Bentonville, Ark.

Could the Campbell’s have a discrimination case here?

If the Campbells have a legal case over the refusal, it would be that the family was denied service because of race, ethnicity or religion, said Shannon Powers, of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, a state agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws.
The Campbells, she said, would have to prove ShopRite didn’t make a reasonable attempt to provide service it provides others. She said the offer to make a cake with room for an inscription would probably count as a reasonable attempt.
“It sounds like they (the supermarket) don’t want to offend other patrons or do something offensive to their own sensibilities. If that’s the motivation, that’s totally different from discrimination,” Powers said.

What planet are these people living on?

The Campbells have swastikas in each room of their home, the rented half of a one-story duplex just outside Milford, a borough in Hunterdon County. They say they aren’t racists but believe races shouldn’t mix.
The Campbells said they wanted their children to have unique names and didn’t expect the names to cause problems. Despite the cake refusal, the Campbells said they don’t expect the names to cause problems later, such as when the children start school.
“I just figured that they’re just names,” Deborah Campbell said. “They’re just kids. They’re not going to hurt anybody.”
Heath Campbell said some people like the names but others are shocked to hear them. “They say, ‘He (Hitler) killed all those people.’ I say, ‘You’re living in the wrong decade. That Hitler’s gone,'” he said.
“They’re just names, you know,” he said. “Yeah, they (Nazis) were bad people back then. But my kids are little. They’re not going to grow up like that.”

This is lunacy – or feigned innocence. Of course, this is going to be a problem for the children. A local psychologist weighs in…

Robert M. Gordon, a clinical psychologist in Allentown, said the names would hurt the children.
“Certainly society is going to be hostile towards those kids, especially when they go to school,” Gordon said.
More than that, he said, the children would be harmed by their parents’ views.
“By the time they get to school, they will already have been damaged,” Gordon said. “Any parent that would impose such horrific names on their children is mentally ill, and they would be affecting their children from the day they were born. Only a crazy person would do that.”

I cannot diagnose via a news report but as a former court appointed custody evaluator, I can speculate that one might have to rule out a psychiatric condition in a case like this. The remainder of the article gives a glimpse into the sad emotional state of the family.
We live in a society that values freedom and so we wrestle with situations like this. It is clear that these kids are at risk for social stigma. But parents have rights to raise children in accord with their view of the world. If we intervene here, then where will such interventions stop? However, the state has a role in preventing harm to citizens, and in this case to citizens who cannot protect themselves. Probably, I would advocate some mandated sessions with a counselor or mediator.
I started this post yesterday, and since then it has made the international press with USA Today and the UK’s Guardian picking it up. Not much in the way of analysis in these articles where it seems mostly treated as an oddity.

MSNBC asking questions about Obama and Blagojevich

UPDATE: Illinois high court will not remove Blagojevich.
Surprising to me to see MSNBC report the possibility of 21 calls between Rahm Emanuel and Team Blago. Even MSNBC reporters think Obama could be more transparent and still honor the Federal prosecutor’s request to hold information.

Obama news conference at 11:45am.
UPDATE: First question from CBS News is about Blagogate. Paraphrased: You ran on a platform of transparency, how difficult is it for you to wait until next week to reveal results of your investigation? Obama replied that next week is not that far away and you’ll have answers to all your questions at that time.
He took 3 questions total.
UPDATE 2: Blago might break his silence today or tomorrow. Here is the video:

Sun-Times: Emanuel pressed for Jarrett appointment to Senate

“Sources” are beginning to talk about the details of Rahm Emanuel’s conversations with Rod Blagojevich, in this case to the Chicago Sun-Times.
From the Sun-Times:

President-elect Barack Obama’s incoming chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was pushing for Obama’s successor just days after the Nov. 4 election, sources told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Emanuel privately urged Gov. Blagojevich’s administration to appoint Obama confidante Valerie Jarrett, and the Sun-Times learned Tuesday that he also pressed that it be done by a certain deadline.
Sources told the Sun-Times that Emanuel urged Blagojevich’s administration to select President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate replacement by a certain deadline.
The disclosure comes days after Obama’s camp downplayed Jarrett’s interest in the post.
At one point, an “emissary” who said he represented Jarrett had discussions with Blagojevich chief of staff John Harris and the governor about naming Jarrett to the post, according to a criminal complaint.
In addition to the discussions, Emanuel submitted a list of names of candidates suitable to the Obama team to the governor’s administration. Jarrett was not among those names because she had pulled herself out of the running at that point, a source with the Obama camp said.

Unless we are to believe that Emanuel pressed Blago on his own, then the headline should read Obama pressed Blago on behalf of Jarrett. If Emanuel acted on his own accord, then he should be replaced as CoS. If Obama was being briefed and giving direction, then he should take responsibility for the actions of his right hand man. Thus far, it appears that those actions were appropriate. However, they are in contrast to the picture painted by Mr. Obama about his involvement in the Senate pick.
There are a couple of conversations in the criminal complaint (re: getting Mrs. B on some boards, and another about Emanuel’s 5th District Congressional seat) of some concern and may be someone other than Emanuel. However, if either of them involve someone on the Obama team, then the story will take a new direction.