Monday, February 28, 2011

Crepes Française closes

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 6:19 PM

According to one eyewitness who saw a note on the door, a disconnected phone number and a complete jerk at the Tejon Street Wine Shoppe who called me a "media maggot," (somehow blaming us for the demise), Crepes Française International has closed at 321 N. Tejon St.

The crepe craze is slowly diminishing.

The eatery sadly follows in the footsteps of its predecessor at that location, Flavors on Tejon.

What do you think, eaters?

Is it the location, or something unseen by us, like the rent, the landlord or another issue?

Or, could it be the "piss-poor management" as our aforementioned wine store worker so politely insisted?

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Countdown to comic cover

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 5:12 PM

You may not have realized this about us yet, but we here at the Indy can sometimes be one giant, pain-in-the-ass tease.

You know ... dropping a little hint about an upcoming issue early to get you interested, only to stop there and make you wait for it.

Patience. Patience, dear readers.

To illustrate my point, quite literally, I'm releasing the first of a playful series of cover-image tests that the subject of this week's cover story drew for us.

Each day, leading up to Thursday's release, I'll release another image and then a finale of sorts featuring several awesome images.

If this art speaks to you in any way, you'll definitely want to pick up the paper this week.

Stay tuned ...

Hint: This character is modeled after a real person in Colorado Springs.
  • Wait and see ...
  • Hint: This character is modeled after a real person in Colorado Springs.

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Can I go to the metaverse now, please?

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Romantic, not at all ridiculous. A Second Life wedding.
  • Romantic, not at all ridiculous. A Second Life wedding.

The cynics say that technology is addictive, and that our obsession with it, fueled by the ever-more portable gateways to it, is breaking down our ability to deal with the real world.

To this I say: eh.

Getting distracted by my Blackberry Twitter app and nearly plowing over one of my coworkers doesn't indicate to me an unhealthy obsession. I could have just as easily gotten distracted by a passing conversation, or by my internal bitching that The Social Network didn't win the big prize last night. That walk from my desk to the commode this morning was enriched by my ability to scan dozens of tweets.

So, yes, I'm in love with the future, and I'm happy I live in it. I look forward to the day when I get to jack in and go to exclusive parties in the metaverse. (My only problem with Second Life was that it wasn't Second Life-y enough.)

And while most Americans share my love for connectivity, they are also conflicted by it, according to an Intel poll over at Fast Company.

We've long heard people complaints about PDA, or public displays of affection. "Get a room!" is the typical response. But now it's the other kind of PDA—the personal digital assistant, the smartphone—that's leading to public displays of an even more unfortunate sort. According to Intel's survey, 91% of American adults say they've seen people misuse mobile technology (which seems a little low, actually), while 75% think the problem is worse now than it was in 2009. One in five 'fessed up to engaging in bad behavior themselves. People are seeing about five such "mobile offenses" every day.

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Theo Jansen's walking art

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 2:06 PM

I received this wonderful link recently from our copy editors. It came with the subject line, "massively wonderful," and it truly is.

It is the story of kinetic sculpture artist Theo Jansen, who builds huge walking "animals" on the beaches of the Netherlands. Also called "strandbeests," Jansen's creations largely consist of PVC skeletons with plastic sheets made to catch the wind and propel them. Once they get moving, they can really walk, all by themselves, dwarfing their creators and spectators. Jansen's work is a marvel of engineering and beauty, but just as compelling is his philosophy about his creations. This, from Jansen's website, says it all:

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Jansen provides details on his engineering mechanisms on his website.
  • Jansen provides details on his engineering mechanisms on his website.

Click the image for a blog on a movie about Jansen.
  • Click the image for a blog on a movie about Jansen.

So again, for something "massively wonderful" in action, click here.

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On naked men: A love letter to the fig leaf

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 1:05 PM

Dear Men of the Downtown YMCA,

First, let me just acknowledge that if you're going to be nude anywhere, the locker room is a swell place to strip down; the YMCA's locker rooms even come in two flavors. If you're of a mind to show some skin in the poor-people dressing room, there are concrete benches, fans and a urinal or two. For the classier folk who know the secret code into the upper-crust locker room, there are flat screens, leather chairs and complimentary scented goo.

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  • Oh, to be one of the guys ...

To that last, let me add naked men. Lots and lots of naked men, whose apparent goal is to never let this skin touch anything but God's grace.

"But aren't there naked men in every locker room?" ask the curious youth in the audience. To those inquiring minds I say, "Yes, but not like this. You may have never seen naked men like this." (And because I hate to leave the women folk out, I hear it's exactly the same in their parts, except maybe worse.)

I don't know if it's some product of the code on the door acting as a signal to begin male bonding, or if I just never got the notice that hanging out while hanging out is male bonding in the first place. But if it's a flesh feast in any normal space, it's a veritable luxury of riches in the executive suites. (Not to mention scientific confirmation that humans don't age — they melt.)

I'm talking bare bottoms enjoying a self-administered rub-down with lotion, or cologne or Oil of Olay. Or showering, drying off, then losing the towel and kicking back to catch the latest from Libya; or just chatting it up, bits enjoying their newfound freedom. I even had the pleasure of a nice young man falling asleep in a chair located right in front of my locker — balls to the walls.

Of course, inspired as I was, I even tried to get in on the act. I changed; I took my shirt off; I felt the sweet breeze of refined air. But then I put on my socks and instantly felt overdressed.

I know that clothing must be exchanged for clothing in the pursuit of athletic perfection. I just ask that the aura of au naturel from those dear devotees of disrobing be tempered with a little scrap of, um, anything.

Regards,
Bryce

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Reaction to graffiti spells 'troble'

Posted By on Mon, Feb 28, 2011 at 12:55 PM

There’s a spray-painted anti-Semitic message reaching a procession of victims from its place on a fence in a residential neighborhood. The fence is property of Hillside Gardens and Nursery (1006 S. Institute St.), just a turn and a short drive from the city’s Hillside Community Center. In your author’s time in the area, he gathered unexpected local responses on how this crime should be handled.

Hateful graffiti on a nurserys fence at the intersection of Arcadia St. and Sante Fe St.
  • Hateful graffiti on a nursery's fence at the intersection of Arcadia and Sante Fe streets.

I approach a man who identifies himself as Hillside’s owner, aside his bulldozer. I describe the scene at the three-way stop made up of Sante Fe and Arcadia — the 4-foot-by-4-foot Jewish star with the misspelled “troble” beneath it, positioned head-on with cars coming to a stop on Arcadia. What, I ask with faux-naiveté, do we (citizens/humans) do in this case: “Call the police?”

The nursery’s owner is not alarmed and doesn’t think the law should be notified. He’s worried about inciting more graffiti that police would make him deal with. As we separate, he drives away in his equipment.

I see a police vehicle (#9357) without its lights on, stopped for a red light at the Fountain Avenue and Institute Street intersection. I want to tell him about the hate crime. I do everything to let the cop know I need to speak with him before he acknowledges me with a wave from behind the wheel. The light changes. He drives past me.

I do not believe my reason for attempting to talk with the policeman was lacking any urgency, but what if it was even more vital? My motions suggested it. Turn on your sirens; drive through the red; and next time and all times see to those flagging you down officer — for your sake as well.

The intersection has a crossing guard for schoolchildren. The guard sees that the police passed me when I obviously wanted him to pull over and started yelling for the disappearing car.
I ask for the crossing guard's thoughts on the despicable painting.
“You’ll need to tell Hillside Nursery that.”

I explain to her that I had, and that he thought it best just to let it be.

She says insistently to not involve the police, saying, “They’ll go after [the business owner]. He’s had some break-ins up there. He doesn’t need the trouble. I live in this neighborhood. Don’t call the police."

She tells me that the police won’t do anything unless they catch someone spray painting. She uses the cop that didn’t stop for me as an example of how the police force is understaffed now, and how the burden — financial and otherwise — for the vandalized fence would fall on Hillside Gardens and Nursery.

A mother pushing a stroller with another young girl by her side reaches the corner shared by the crossing guard and me. The guard greets them by name and continues talking to them as she follows them down the street. They’re headed southward, in the direction of the fence.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

The scene at Denver's pro-union rally

Posted By on Sun, Feb 27, 2011 at 3:11 PM

"Obviously, if you have to have two protests on the same day, things aren't going too well," said a speaker Saturday afternoon at Denver's pro-union rally in support of Wisconsin state workers' right to collective bargaining.

Noon rallies were held in all 50 state capitols, but Denver's was complicated by the fact that a reproductive rights demonstration had already been booked for the same site.

At first, the convergence of the two mostly sympathetic causes proved beneficial to each, as the crowd grew to 3000. (At least by organizer estimates, police on the scene suggested attendance was less than half that amount).

But the rally soon ground to a halt when, at 12:40 p.m., reproductive rights advocates led a march to Denver's 16th street mall. While the event permit actually went until 2 p.m., most protesters assumed the pro-union rally had ended. Some joined the march, but most went home.

"This is the shortest demonstation I've ever seen," commented one woman, who was among the less than 200 protesters who stayed on. An hour later, 150 or so marchers returned to the capitol for its final moments.

Meanwhile in Madison, Wisconsin, some 100,000 demonstrators were braving snowy conditions to gather at the state capital. There, Gov. Scott Walker is threatening to begin laying off thousands of state workers if his union-busting legislation continues to be blocked by Democratic legislators.

Following are photos from the Denver protest, along with a news report from Russian television critiquing U.S. media and politicians for "flying the flag for popular uprisings thousands of miles away" while ignoring ongoing domestic demonstrations that will soon enter their third week.

Wisconsin transplant fireman shows off his former state's traditional headwear.
  • Bill Forman
  • Wisconsin transplant fireman shows off his former state's traditional headwear.

When causes converge ...

Not quite the same impact here...

Guy Fawkes and guy on stilts join forces.

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Life after the death of the Rocky Mountain News

Posted By on Sat, Feb 26, 2011 at 3:49 PM

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Two years after the closure of the Rocky Mountain News by its parent E. W. Scripps Company, former editor and publisher John Temple is taking stock of life after the death. Temple contacted 146 former staffers — including reporter John Ensslin, now at the Gazette — to see what life's been like for the journalists ever since.

The good news? Ninety-two are still working in the biz, including several who made the switch to the Denver Post. The bad news? For some, things aren't that great. But the comments vary across the spectrum and are certainly worth reading. Here's a sample:

John Ensslin
General assignment reporter, now legal affairs reporter at the Gazette in Colorado Springs
Life somewhat better

I feel like I'm doing some of the best work I've done in years. I'm especially pleased at the way I've been able to reinvent the beat through live blogging and a court blog I've developed called "The Sidebar."

I also feel that I've "doubled-down" on my commitment to journalism. Earlier this year I was elected national secretary-treasurer of the Society of Professional Journalists, an outfit whose mission I strongly believe in. SPJ continues to do important work in supporting journalists around the country and improving the craft under adverse economic circumstances.

I'll be running for president-elect in October at our national convention in New Orleans. If the delegates see fit, I'll be national president in two years. Wish me luck.

Ed Sealover
Reporter, now reporting for the Denver Business Journal
Life about the same.

"About the same" doesn't really answer the question, but I can't say life is better or worse.

I miss working at the Rocky and having that mammoth audience of readers. But at the same time, I like the challenge of helping to increase the readership here at the DBJ - something we have done since the Rocky closed.

At times during the past election season, I missed the thrill of jumping in my car and following a candidate halfway across the state (we covered only events in the Denver metro area at the DBJ). At the same time, I liked an election season where I actually got to go home and see my wife every once in a while, and I know she liked that too.

I love the kindness of my fellow staffers here, but I sometimes miss the buzz of the big newsroom, where 20 things were happening at once and you knew you were bound to get swept up in it.

I don't so much miss 14-hour days, which come a lot more rarely when we have a narrower focus on business issues and don't have to cover every nine-hour legislative committee hearing on the death penalty. One of the great things about having more personal time is that I can engage in more personal projects. For example, my first book, a guide to Colorado breweries, is set to come out in July, and I'm not sure if I could have found the time to research and write it while working at the Rocky.

I miss telling people that I work at the Rocky and hear them reply how it's their favorite paper and how they've read it since they were a little kid. But I also love telling people that I work at the Denver Business Journal and hearing them explain how much they've come to appreciate our paper, especially since the Rocky closed.

So, there's good, there's bad. I really do love what I'm doing now. But I do miss the Rocky. Take what you will from that. Overall, though, I'm just glad I had the experience I did at the Rocky, even if it was only for its last 7-1/2 months.

Kevin Huhn
Deputy sports editor, now working at copy chief for FOXSports.com in Los Angeles
Life is somewhat worse

I was given an amazing opportunity by FOXSports.com to learn valuable web skills that I hadn't previously acquired. I'm also being given the opportunity to create, from scratch, a copy desk. I have to laugh because an entity in the web industry that continues to hurt newspapers approached me about helping "build a traditional style newspaper copy desk." Really? What's wrong with this picture? Anyway, professionally I have no complaints because I've been given an opportunity in which I'm being paid to learn skills I desperately need. Personally, I miss Denver a lot, which is why I say my life is somewhat worse. But I fully anticipate my current job helping me reposition myself to someday return to Denver in a professional situation that more closely resembles what I had at the Rocky than what I had in the year before I was given my new opportunity.

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Holly Hinkle goes steampunk

Posted By on Sat, Feb 26, 2011 at 9:00 AM

Next week, The Incomparable Steampunk Art Exposition will open at Heebee Jeebees. Local artist Holly Hinkle sent us some of her work from the upcoming show, which also features work from Myles Pinkney, Douglas Rouse, Daisy McConnell, Liese Chavez, Phil Lear and many others.

Queen Mabs Crown
  • "Queen Mab's Crown"

Mechanism
  • "Mechanism"

Black Widow
  • "Black Widow"

Things kick off March 4 at 7 p.m. For more on the event, click here.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Breast milk, buttermilk and more

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 5:56 PM

Time for the weekly in-box unload:

Breast milk returns to the spotlight with this NPR story about a London ice cream store selling it. (And you thought my April Fool's story last year was far-fetched. Tsk-tsk.)

• Speaking of milk, IHOP will give free short stacks of buttermilk pancakes on March 1 to solicit donations for Shriners Hospitals.

Eater writer Gabe Ulla calls Google's new recipe view "pretty much magic."

Learn more about it in the article or here:

• Gluten-free Boulder brewery New Planet Beer released a new beer this month called Off Grid Pale Ale.

Some details on it:

Screen_shot_2011-02-25_at_4.14.58_PM.png
Off Grid Pale Ale is a wonderful interpretation of the classic pale ale style. It has a distinctly deep amber color and great character and body. Three varieties of hops provide a wonderful aroma and a citrus and spicy hop flavor. This smooth gluten-free ale is made from sorghum and brown rice extract, molasses, tapioca maltodextrin, caramel color, hops, and yeast. ...

As part of New Planet Beer’s Mission, each of our labels is named after a concept that helps “do good things” for the planet.’Off Grid’ means living in a self-sufficient manner without the reliance on public utilities like gas and electric. Alternative and renewable energies like solar, geothermal and wind are becoming more and more available and affordable. So, if we can help influence people to become aware of their usage of fossil fuels for heating and powering their homes and take steps to reduce that load, the better off our planet will be.

New Planet Beer will donate a portion of our proceeds from the sale of Off Grid Pale Ale to non-profit organizations promoting alternative energy education.

• Potential beekeepers need to meet a March 1 registration deadline for the Pikes Peak Beekeepers Association's annual Bee School, to be held March 12-13 at Bear Creek Nature Center. Call 632-0075 with questions. (Disclosure: I'm a member of said club and attended this school two years ago.)

Marriage: giving beekeepers the confidence to tend hives sans gloves since 1953. (Not really.)
  • Marriage: giving beekeepers the confidence to tend hives sans gloves since 1953. (Not really.)

Pikes Peak Urban Gardens' next class is set for Saturday, March 12, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The topic this month centers on preparing your garden's soil. Register and get more info here. (Disclosure # 2: I'm on the PPUG board.)

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CSEA: Monday's meeting will stay closed

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Here we go, hot off the presses. The president of Colorado Springs Education Association has announced that it will not agree to opening up Monday's bargaining meeting, in response to the School District 11 board's vote to see if they might just reconsider that whole previous agreement business.

... according the current terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Monday’s bargaining meeting will be closed to the public. We trust that the District will respect this position at Monday’s session and will take all appropriate steps to ensure that our prior mutual agreement will be honored. Included in this would be the security of all involved and assurances that the District intends to enforce the closed and private nature of the bargaining session scheduled for Monday, February 28th and all subsequent meetings until such time as a different understanding has been reached.

CSEA_letter_to_D11_School_Board_and_Bargaining_Team.jpg

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Good quotes rule the night at election forum

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 4:46 PM

If you ever wanted to see how a pre-election candidates forum should work, you should have been among the 160 or so people who crammed into the Westside Community Center on Tuesday night for an event sponsored by the Organization of Westside Neighbors.

It wasn't perfect, but it was definitely enlightening.

Jan Martin

The forum covered the mayoral race as well as the City Council at-large and District 3 battles, with a few candidates missing. Steve Bach was the only absentee among the mayoral group, with the other eight filling the stage. Of the 16 vying for five at-large seats, only Tim Leigh and Dawn Lloyd couldn't make it. Leigh had a representative there, handing out fliers and saying Leigh was in Florida.

Lisa Czelatdko and Michael Merrifield led off, with the OWN sponsors squarely in that district. Both made their usual points with no real surprises. But one recurring question, asking everyone whether they would support collective bargaining for city employees, separated the two. Czelatdko answered "no" while Merrifield hedged, as others did later.

From there, though, the at-large Council candidates (who took the stage in three groups) and the mayoral crowd provided some interesting comments and quotes.

Among the at-large campaigners:

Newcomer Brandy Williams did a nice job selling herself as a civil engineer who could bring needed expertise on Utilities issues.

Sean Paige, calling himself the "accidental Councilor," said the city was not business-friendly anymore.

Bill Murray, who recently served on the Memorial Hospital citizens committee addressing ownership issues, said, "I'm not accidental. I'm here on purpose."

Helen Collins, part of Douglas Bruce's gang, answering the question of whether she would want to revise the local Taxpayer's Bill of Rights: "I have to be a TABOR supporter." Really.

Jan Martin made more than a few people gulp by saying, "This is the first time all of us have met as a group, and it's just three weeks until the election." Meaning, of course, three weeks until mail ballots go out, but that's still scary.

Then came the mayoral field. Some highlights:

Mitch Christiansen talked about "18 years of steady decline" in the city, which he called a "rudderless ship."

Phil McDonald, who's never held public office: "This is no time for on-the-ground training of a new mayor."

Kenneth Duncan: "We need to unite and stop the madness," saying he'd take less than the full salary of $95,000-plus and pay "50 percent of the health-care insurance."

Richard Skorman: "I'm the Reform Team. Not them."

Who won? Who lost? That depended on whom you liked going in, most likely. From all indications, not many minds were changed. But from the size of the crowd, it's obvious the level of interest is high.

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Armstrong avoids jail time, must pay $99,247 in restitution

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 4:40 PM

The Rev. Don Armstrong won't have to serve any jail time for misusing funds while he was rector of Grace and St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.

No apology necessary: the Rev. Don Armstrong
  • File photo
  • No apology necessary: the Rev. Don Armstrong

That ruling came Friday afternoon from 4th Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner, who upheld an earlier plea agreement that gives Armstrong two concurrent four-year probation terms for no-contest pleas involving his stewardship of a Grace scholarship fund called the Bowton Trust.

Werner did order Armstrong to pay $99,247 in restitution to Grace for money that went from the Bowton Trust to pay for his children's college-related expenses. Werner singled out those funds because, he said, Armstrong had fiduciary responsibility over the trust as Grace's rector.

The judge also ordered that, during his probation, Armstrong will have to do 400 hours of community service outside his current church, St. George's Anglican Church. The 61-year-old rector also must disclose all of his current finances and is prohibited from managing the finances of any church or group in a fiduciary role.

"I do not believe jail time is appropriate," Werner said in his ruling from the bench. He cited "massive confusion" in Grace's record-keeping processes through the years, as well as the fact that lay leaders of the church co-signed checks for as much as $12,000 without questioning Armstrong. That amounted to implicit approval, in the judge's view, explaining why Armstrong faces no restitution for repaying hundreds of thousands in other allegedly misused funds that came from Grace and not the Bowton Trust.

Werner denied a request from the prosecution for Armstrong to write a letter of apology to Grace, saying such a letter would never satisfy everyone, "and I'm not going to go there."

"All of us feel this has been a painful episode in Grace's history, and we're ready now to move on," said Fr. Stephen Zimmerman, the Grace rector since November 2009. "I believe the judge felt constrained by limitations of the First Amendment."

About 40 Grace members, plus a handful from St. George's, filled the courtroom for most of the two-day hearing. After Werner's decision, the Grace crowd showed no emotion, while Armstrong appeared jovial as he left the courtroom to register for his probation.

"What's done is done, and it's over with now," said Clelia de Moraes, one of Grace's lay leaders. "But we don't want what happened to us to happen to anyone else, and hopefully [because of this case's notoriety] it won't."

For more on Armstrong, read this week's stories here and here.

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Bloomers make a comeback

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 3:22 PM

A year of dirt beds where flowers should have been is over with the city's announcement today that it's bringing back the Springs in Bloom program.

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To participate, individuals, families, clubs and businesses can adopt one of about 60 flower beds throughout the city. The program is coordinated by the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department.

According to a press release from the city:

Flowers purchased by the City from private greenhouses will be provided free of charge to all volunteer adopter groups. Flower bed adopters will take responsibility for planting and maintaining the beds throughout the summer, per guidelines provided by the City.

Forty-five percent of the flower beds are already adopted by past volunteers, and flower beds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department hopes to have sponsors for all flower beds by April 4, as prime planting season runs May 15 thru June 10.

To volunteer or donate, go here. You may also contact Donna Sanchez at 385-6568.

To get you in the mood, here's some inspiration:

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The Freakout Majority

Posted By on Fri, Feb 25, 2011 at 2:16 PM

Gay rights have taken another great step forward under the Obama administration, which has the religious right freaking out.

OH NOES!!1!
  • OH NOES!!1!

I was driving back from an interview on Powers Boulevard this morning to this bastion of liberal heathenism, the offices of the Indy, and I was listening to some random AM Christian station. I hadn't really checked out the AM in this town, and I gotta say what I heard today is exactly what you'd expect out of Little Jerusalem.

The theme for the entire drive was gay marriage. How the gays getting married will lead to polygamy, the social acceptance of "sexual triadism" and a lot of other scary- (fun?-) sounding stuff. The rhetoric was over-the-top, comparing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to Adolf Hitler, while us righteous listeners were being warned to stand up against the tyranny or one day become a modern-day Niemöller: "First they came for their rights to marry, and then they came for my children."

And after this rant, floating over the bumper music, the recording of a sweet voice announcing the support of Focus on the Family ... and there you go.

So, then, why would it be of any surprise that Focus would be behind a slew of anti-anti-discrimination bills that are working their ways through state legislatures?

From the Colorado Independent:

Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family has drafted legislation for lawmakers in states around the country that would legally protect employers and landlords who turn away gay applicants based solely on the fact that they’re gay. In some cases, Focus on the Family legislation would nullify already-existing anti-discrimination laws meant to guard against discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender.

The article, which you ought read yourself, focuses on three bills — in Montana, Tennessee and Iowa — that, while differing on the specifics, are all geared to allow businesses the right to deny providing services based on what they consider religiously defensible bigotries.

It's like the 1964 Civil Rights Act never happened.

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