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    February 29, 2008

    Obama veepstakes sneak peak

    Posted by: Chris

    Given the increasingly long odds facing Hillary Clinton and polls that show Barack Obama ahead in her must-win state of Texas, some pundits have already begun speculating about Obama veep possibilities.

    I nearly fell out of my chair when I read Marc Ambinder's suggestion that Sam Nunn might be near the top of the list. The former senator from Georgia might lend cred on national security and foreign policy, but his role leading the rebellion against Bill Clinton's attempt to let gays serve openly in the military is unpardonable. Nunn as vice president or any role having to do with the nation's military ought to be met with a massive outcry from gays and other civil rights groups.

    I was very pleased, on the other hand, to see American Prospect list Bill Richardson as among the possibilities. The New Mexico governor and former U.N. ambassador is the obvious pick for either Clinton or Obama, which is probably why Richardson keeps stalling on a primary endorsement.

    Maybe he'll come out over the weekend to give Obama momentum with Latinos going into Tuesday's vote.

    McCain's politics of rejection

    Posted by: Chris

    Yesterday in my post about the slippery slope between Louis Farrakhan and Donnie McClurkin, I noted that John McCain appeared on stage this week to accept the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee of the Christian Zionist Movement, who has said very incendiary things about Catholics and Jews and apparently blamed Hurricane Katrina on the gays. Today McCain neither "denounced" nor "rejected" Hagee's endorsement or views, but he did distance himself.

    And in finding common ground with Catholics, he managed to take a swipe at the gays:

    Yesterday, Pastor John Hagee endorsed my candidacy for president in San Antonio, Texas. However, in no way did I intend for his endorsement to suggest that I in turn agree with all of Pastor Hagee's views, which I obviously do not.

    I am hopeful that Catholics, Protestants and all people of faith who share my vision for the future of America will respond to our message of defending innocent life, traditional marriage, and compassion for the most vulnerable in our society.

    McCain is hardly sounding like the champion in the fight against a federal marriage amendment that the Log Cabin folks still imagine him to me.

    Obama's Christian case for gays

    Posted by: Chris

    Obamacross A must-read from Andrew Sullivan today on why gay voters need to coalesce around Barack Obama, highlighting the Illinois senator's reference to his faith in Beaumont, Texas, yesterday to explain his support for gay rights.

    Money quote, as Andrew would say:

    The current Washington set-up is broken. If you haven't seen that these past few years, you have blinders on. It doesn't deliver - and won't, without a president who actually believes that gay people deserve full equality. Yes, it's partly generational - Obama sees gay people in a way Clinton never will, as a function of her age and background.

    But it's also, it seems to me, an indication that he really is a Christian. One day, it will seem as obvious that Christians should support gay equality as it is now obvious that they should have opposed segregation. What Obama does for gay people in a religious context is just as important as what he does for us in a political one. Both are vital - because it is the abuse of religion that is at the core of the hostility to gay dignity.

    Rethinking the gay agenda

    Posted by: Chris

    Hrcprotestgcn Picking up on my post yesterday about the continuing grief the Human Rights Campaign is getting from transgender activists, I want to highlight something those protesting outside the New York black-tie dinner. The motley crue of trans activists, Radical Homosexual Agenda and such were holding signs shaped like giant hands -- except rather than signalling "we're No. 1!" they were giving HRC "the finger." Mature.

    The chant was likewise a meaningful: "What do we want? Liberation! Fuck that assimilation!" Almost self-fulfilling, that one; and so retro as well. I guess every fashion trend does come round for another go.

    Among the more sober-minded of the 50 or so protesters were some members of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club. According to a report in Gay City News, Allen Roskoff, a member of the group, raised a more thoughtful objection to Barney Frank's gay-only Employment Non-Discrimination Act:

    "Jim Owles is asking members of Congress not to support ENDA in any form," he said. "We should revert to the effort originated by Bella Abzug and Ed Koch to amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity and expression."

    Abzug and Koch, as Manhattan representatives in Congress in the early 1970s, introduced the 1964 Act amendment as a way to give gays and lesbians nondiscrimination protection in housing, credit, and public accommodations, in addition to employment. Years later, HRC and Frank originated the more limited ENDA approach to getting anti-bias legislation through Congress.

    Roskoff pointed out that Bill Bradley, in his 2000 challenge to Al Gore for the Democratic presidential nomination, suggested amending the Civil Rights Act, rather than adopting ENDA, "but was shot down by Barney Frank and HRC."

    I wouldn't agree with that change in "gay agenda" priorities, but I do agree that the divisive scrap over ENDA highlights the need for the movement to rethink it's federal legislative plan. It’s critically important that we –- gay and lesbian Americans –- set that agenda, rather than having it dictated to us by the Democratic Party, no matter who is in the White House.

    Politics is by nature self-serving, and politicians from both parties will always reach for the low-hanging fruit unless pressured to actually risk some political capital. That’s actually been the strategy of the movement’s leaders as well, at least since 1996.

    That’s when they scrapped Bella Abzug's broad gay rights legislation and replaced it with ENDA.
    The idea was that polls showed the public most sympathetic to someone being fired for being lesbian or gay, and it was important to get some –- any –- federal gay rights law on the books. And it almost worked. The Senate came within a vote of passing ENDA, and Bill Clinton was certainly ready to sign it.

    More than a decade later, it’s past time to reexamine whether ENDA should still be at the top of the gay agenda for Congress. For one thing, states and local governments have gone a long way to bridge the gap. Today, more than half the U.S. population lives in areas where non-discrimination laws include “sexual orientation,” and the dramatic changes in the culture in the last 10 years have made discrimination far less common in the other half of the country as well.

    In addition, the difficult and divisive debate last fall about what to do if the votes aren’t there for including “gender identity” in ENDA means that legislation is no longer the most likely to break the barrier on federal gay rights legislation. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, which includes gay and transgender protections and has already passed both houses of Congress in different forms, and in terms of popularity is really “the new ENDA.” With a gay friendlier Congress and White House, the hate crimes bill should become law fairly quickly and without much controversy. But a divisive and risky ENDA shouldn’t be next on the list.

    The highest legislative priorities of the movement ought to be redressing where the government itself is discriminating against lesbian and gay Americans – especially when that unequal treatment is widespread, affecting almost all of us and in a significant way.

    Measured that way, the next priority ought to be repealing the Defense of Marriage Act –- at least the portion that blocks federal recognition of valid marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples by the states. Repealing DOMA should be accompanied by a bill that treats state-issued civil unions and domestic partnerships like marriages under federal law as well. Two-thirds of the public already supports gay marriage or civil unions, so the support is already there.

    Marriage is certainly more universal than job discrimination. More than 90 percent of Americans get married at some point in their lives, and given the hefty number of gays in that remaining 10 percent, it’s safe to say almost all of us will enter into a committed, long-term relationship at some point in our lives.

    Workplace regulation, however justifiable, faces non-bigoted objections about the government intruding into the private sector. Even libertarians who are broadly supportive of gay rights object to ENDA on this ground.

    It’s also true that many more gay and lesbian Americans would marry, if they could, than are fired from their jobs due to their sexual orientation. And while it’s relatively easy to get another job in the diverse U.S. economy – or move to a state that has gay workplace protections -– the hundreds of legal rights that come from federal recognition of our relationships are irreplaceable.

    (Photo of HRC protest via Gay City News)

    GNW 5: Police destroy 'man cave'

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Barack Obama releases letter on gay, trans rightsBarack Obama releases letter on gay, trans rights: QUICK LOOK: Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama released an open letter to GLBT voters today that reiterates his support for a wide array of federal gay and transgender... (MORE)
    2. Daughter says dead N.Y. Episcopal bishop was gayDaughter says dead N.Y. Episcopal bishop was gay: QUICK LOOK: In next week's issue of The New Yorker magazine, the daughter of Episcopal Bishop Paul Moore Jr. reveals that the man who was Bishop of New York for 17 years was gay... (MORE)
    3. Police destroy 'man cave' after sex sweep nets more than 40: QUICK LOOK: In the months since police in Johnson City, Tenn., conducted an undercover investigation into illegal sexual activity in a secluded wooded area of Winged Deer Park — and arrested 40 men accused of... (MORE)
    4. S.F. Pride nominates HRC for 'Pink Brink' anti-awardS.F. Pride nominates HRC for 'Pink Brink' anti-award: QUICK LOOK: For the first time, an LGBT organization has been nominated for San Francisco Pride's Pink Brick award – an award meant to recognize groups and individuals who've run... (MORE)
    5. Air N.Z. 'pink flight' takes Griffin, gays to Mardi GrasAir N.Z. 'pink flight' takes Griffin, gays to Mardi Gras: QUICK LOOK: Air New Zealand's "pink flight" from San Francisco has landed in Sydney for mardi gras with an American reality TV star, Kathy Griffin, a gaggle of drag queens and a... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.




    February 28, 2008

    The politics of rejection

    Posted by: Chris

    Farrakhan Mcclurkin In the Cleveland debate earlier this week, Tim Russert pressed Barack Obama on whether he would reject the endorsement he recently received from Louis Farrakhan, who is of course famous for his anti-Semitic fulminations.

    Obama tried simply denouncing the Nation of Islam founder for his anti-Semitism, but that didn't satisfy either Russert or Hillary Clinton. For her part, Clinton related how she actively "rejected" support from a New York political party controlled by anti-Semites and demanded Obama do the same. Obama ultimately caved to the impossible politics of the moment:

    I have to say I don't see a difference between denouncing and rejecting. There's no formal offer of help from Minister Farrakhan that would involve me rejecting it. But if the word "reject" Senator Clinton feels is stronger than the word "denounce," then I'm happy to concede the point, and I would reject and denounce.

    "Good. Good. Excellent," nodded Clinton.

    Of course there is a difference between denouncing a view espoused by a supporter and rejecting all support from that source. Remember this is the same Barack Obama who refused to reject the support of Donnie McClurkin, a black gospel singer who claims to have been "cured" of his homosexuality? Back then, Obama saw the practical impossibility of combing the views of his supporters for those he finds objectionable:

    One of the things that always comes up in presidential campaigns is, if you’ve got multiple supporters all over the place, should the candidate then be held responsible for the every single view of every one of his supporters? And obviously that’s not possible. And if I start playing that game, then it will be very difficult for me to do what I think I can do best, which is bring the country together.

    That struck me as exactly right. Once a candidate starts "playing that game," then there's a slippery slope about which views among which supporters are so beyond the pale that denouncing the views isn't enough, and the supporter has to be "rejected."

    But now Barack Obama is "playing that game," goaded or not, and the slippery slope between Farrakhan and McClurkin begs for some sort of explanation.

    The same questions could be asked of Hillary Clinton, of course, who pushed Obama into not just "denouncing" but "rejecting" Farrakhan. Why, then, did Clinton accept the endorsements of African-American ministers like Bishop Eddie Long and Rev. Ralph Mayberry, who like McClurkin preach that homosexuality can be "cured"? And yet unlike Obama, Hillary has never "denounced" their anti-gay rhetoric or "rejected" their support.

    Just last week, Hillary gave an interview to CBN News, the "news department" of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, even though Robertson has a long history of being virulently anti-gay, even blaming gay Americans for hurricanes in central Florida and the 9/11 attack. Does anyone doubt how the Clinton camp would have reacted if Obama had sat down for a chat with Farrakhan's Final Call newspaper?

    Then today, when Clinton learned that prominent Dallas Hispanic supporter Adelfa Callejo had said some very intemperate things about why Hispanics won't support black politicians like Obama, Clinton's initial response sounded very much like Obama talking about McClurkin:

    You know this is a free country. People get to express their opinions. … You can’t take any of that as anything other than an individual opinion.

    Later, after confirming Callejo's remarks, the Clinton campaign issued a statement saying, "After confirming that they were accurately portrayed, Senator Clinton, of course, denounces and rejects them." Notice that, like Obama on Farrakhan before Hillary pushed him, Clinton has denounced and rejected the views she finds repugnant, not the endorsement or support from Callejo.

    John McCain has his own denouncing and rejecting to do, according to Eric Kleefeld at Talking Points Memo. The presumptive GOP nominee appeared on stage yesterday with Christian Zionist Pastor John Hagee, who Kleefeld said "considers the Catholic Church to be the Anti-Christ, and has said that Jews brought their own persecution upon themselves."

    And last year, McCain famously gave the commencement address at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, the same Falwell who joined Robertson in blaming 9/11 on gays. Liberty also treats students in gay relationships the way Bob Jones University treats interracial couples, expelling all involved. And unlike Obama (with McClurkin and Farrakhan) or Clinton (with Callejo), McCain hasn't done anything to distance himself from Hagee, Falwell or Liberty.

    My point here is that this particular "political game" will ultimately sting anyone running a nationwide campaign, and Obama was right the first time that politics really ought to be about addition, not subtraction. It's ultimately pointless to pressure presidential candidates into "rejecting the support" of even their most extremist supporters. So long as the candidate denounces the offensive views, in clear and uncertain terms, then ultimately it's up to the supporter to decide whether to stick with the candidate.

    Personally, I am tickled pink that unreconstructed types like Donnie McClurkin or Eddie Long are supporting presidential candidates like Obama and Clinton who are committed to a wide array of gay civil rights protections. I hope they do all they can to get them elected!

    So long as the candidate doesn't waver from denouncing their bigotry, that ought to be enough.

    Selling gay rights in Beaumont, Texas

    Posted by: Chris

    Barack_obama_123 Politico's Ben Smith just posted about an energetic Barack Obama rally in Beaumont, Texas, that was largely attended by boisterous African Americans:

    An interesting moment came when he was asked a question about LGBT rights and delivered an answer that seemed to suit the questioner, listing the various attributes — race, gender, etc. — that shouldn't trigger discrimination, to successive cheers. When he came to saying that gays and lesbians deserve equality, though, the crowd fell silent.

    So he took a different tack:

    "Now I’m a Christian, and I praise Jesus every Sunday," he said, to a sudden wave of noisy applause and cheers.

    "I hear people saying things that I don’t think are very Christian with respect to people who are gay and lesbian," he said, and the crowd seemed to come along with him this time.

    I won't just remark that Hillary Clinton would never attempt something so forceful before a largely black audience because the comparison's not entirely fair since she's white. But how about a largely white, working class audience, or if the issue had come up in her recent interview with the "news department" of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network?

    (Photo of Barack Obama in Beaumont via Southeast Texas Record)

    Obama and the LGBT Hispanic vote

    Posted by: Chris

    Conventional wisdom has it that Hillary Clinton enjoys more support among Latinos and LGBT voters, but a small group of influential activists is working to turn the intersection of those two groups -- LGBT Latinos -- into Barack Obama's camp. Super-blogger and journalist Andres Duque tipped me off to an open letter signed by some leading gay Hispanic figures that backs Barack for president:

    As LGBT Latinos and Latinas who happen to be immigrants or descendants from immigrant families we are sick and tired of seeing our lives and values be misrepresented by those who seek to drive wedges in our communities as a means to split our vote and gain power through division.

    We saw it when the right wing used same-sex marriage to rile up the conservative vote for President George W. Bush and we are seeing it again with immigration being blamed as the source for all the nation’s ills.

    We know that these are the politics of fear and that those same politics only served to elect one of the worst presidents in US history.

    This is why we believe that, in this presidential election, there is one clear choice.

    BARACK OBAMA

    On gay issues, the letter credits Obama's support for full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act; Clinton backs only half-repeal, leaving in place the provision that says each state can refuse to recognize gay marriages from other states.

    On immigration, the letter praises Obama for standing up against the scapegoating of immigrants and criticizes the Clinton campaign for exacerbating tension between Latinos and African Americans.

    The full letter and its list of signatories, which includes out actor Wilson Cruz, is available here.

    The experience argument

    Posted by: Chris

    I'm not sure it would have made the difference, but Tom Bevan at Time's Real Clear Politics has offered a much more effective way that Hillary Clinton could have framed the experience argument against Barack Obama than her "Ready on Day One" sloganeering:

    Clinton should have been reminding voters over and over that just four short years ago Barack Obama was in the Illinois state legislature (voting present, no less) and now he's running to be the leader of the free world. Put in that context, the magnitude of the jump Obama is seeking to make suddenly gains perspective, and Clinton has voters pondering exactly the question she wants: wow, is he really ready for this?

    HRC lays a Pink Brick

    Posted by: Chris

    Pinkbrick_09_lrg The Human Rights Campiagn is taking hits on both coasts for its decision to support Barney Frank's gay-only version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. In both cases, the extremism of the critics only reinforces how removed these intolerant ideological purists are from the real lives of lesbian and gay Americans.

    In New York, local politicians stayed away in droves from the annual HRC black-tie dinner, honoring a protest by transgender activists and others outside the banquet hall. In response, HRC Prez Joe Solmonese took to the podium and did what he's best at doing, lowering expectations:

    I have to ask myself: When did we all become so impatient? When did we say to ourselves, okay that civil rights thing, I'll give it a year, maybe two, then I'm done," he said. "Let me be very clear: No, we are not done. We are in the grueling, blinding middle of this fight and the middle of this fight is the hardest part.

    A year or two? ENDA came within a vote of passing the Senate in 1996. It's now more than a decade later, and it's still mired in limbo despite overwhelming public support and Democrats in control of both houses of Congress.

    In San Francisco, the local Pride group has nominated HRC for its "Pink Brink Award," an ignominious honor that according to the Bay Area Reporter is "meant to recognize groups and individuals who've run afoul of the community or pushed for antigay measures." This year's other nominees, to given you some sense of this silliness, are Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    Keep in mind that not only does HRC support transgender workplace rights (and inclusion in the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act), but also pressed with unusual vigor for House Democrats to keep "gender identity" as a part of ENDA. HRC backed Frank's gay-only version after the legendary Massachusetts Democrat concluded the votes were nowhere close to passing the trans-inclusive version. Even Tammy Baldwin, the trans activists' idol in the House, voted for Barney's gay-only version.

    Also keep in mind that after the House vote, HRC's Joe Solmonese reiterated that HRC will continue to oppose sending to the president any version of ENDA that doesn't include transgender protections. Now maybe that (ill-conceived) promise rings hollow since Solmonese had walked away from an earlier (ill-conceived) promise never to support any version of ENDA that wasn't trans-inclusive, but it hardly puts him in Ahmadinejad territory.

    But such is the arrogance of ideological purists -- whether of the Ahmadinejad variety or his San Francisco foil -- that any slight divergence from orthodoxy is heresy and equally condemnatory.

    (Joe Solmonese photo via Bay Area Reporter/Rick Gerharter)

    'We are the ones we are waiting for'

    Posted by: Chris

    Andrew Sullivan has a great post today takes the Barack Obama catch-phrase and applies it to the gay rights movement. The result is dead-on:

    The Clinton model - exemplified by the Human Rights Campaign - is: give us some big donor checks, we'll hire a lobbyist (if you're lucky), and we'll work the Democratic party establishment to give you your equality (which somehow never happens). Meanwhile: keep whining (and sending the checks). The Obama model is: you will only get your equality if you stand up for it, risk your job, status, even life for the sake of your own integrity. Stop whining and start explaining and persuading and acting.

    So many gay people over the years have asked me where our "leader" is. It's the wrong question. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Be the change you want to see in the world. And the world changes. In exact proportion to the number of gay people who have abandoned their fear and self-hatred, it already has. No excuses, guys. And no need to wait.

    I've heard lesbian Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), a Hillary Clinton supporter, give a similar exhortation, including in her memorable speech at the Millennium March on Washington:

    If you dream of a world in which you can put your partner’s picture on your desk, then put his picture on your desk and you will live in such a world. And if you dream of a world in which you can walk down the street holding your partner’s hand, then hold her hand and you will live in such a world.

    If you dream of a world in which there are more openly gay elected officials, then run for office and you will live in such a world. And if you dream of a world in which you can take your partner to the office party, even if your office is the U.S. House of Representatives, then take her to the party. I do, and now I live in such a world.

    Remember, there are two things that keep us oppressed: them and us. We are half of the equation. There will not be a magic day when we wake up and it’s now OK to express ourselves publicly. We must make that day ourselves

    Amen, sister Tammy!

    Obama goes after Hillary's gay vote

    Posted by: Chris

    Obama_lgbt_ad As the crucial Ohio and Texas primaries loom next Tuesday, Barack Obama has been making aggressive plays for the groups that have gone for Hillary Clinton in previous contests, including the working class, women, Hispanics and -- now it appears -- gay and lesbian voters.

    The Obama campaign has purchased ads in gay publications in Columbus, Cleveland, Dallas and Houston. The advertisements go with more of an inspirational message:

    While we have come a long way since the Stonewall Riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect.

    (Click on the ad to see it full size.)

    The campaign also released an open letter today that delves into much greater specifics, outlining Obama's support for a wide array of federal gay and transgender rights legislation, including the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, the Uniting American Families Act, federal employee domestic partner benefits, as well as full repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act and Don't Ask Don't Tell.

    The Obama letter emphasizes his support for full repeal of DOMA -- Hillary backs only half-repeal -- saying, "While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether. Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does."

    On UAFA, Obama adds, "I have worked to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can afford same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system." It's an intriguing claim, since Obama (like Clinton) has not yet signed on as a co-sponsor of UAFA, although both checked off as supporting it on the Human Rights Campaign's candidate questionnaire.

    Perhaps the folks at Immigration Equality can shed some light on the work Obama has done to improve UAFA's chances of passage.

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 For related stories and breaking news, click or bookmark:

    February 27, 2008

    Persistent gay-friendly ignorance

    Posted by: Chris

    Just as I did, Andrew Sullivan posted his reaction to the Self magazine profile of a woman whose marriage collapsed after 11 years and four children when her husband confirmed her worst nagging fears and said he was gay and having anonymous sex with other men. Andrew received an interesting response from a reader that got me thinking.

    The reader pointed out something I've noticed myself time and again:

    I find that when talking one on one, the vast majority of straight people of all political stripes, confronted by personal contact with a gay couple exhibiting  stability and commitment, seem  positive on our securing rights. But, those same supportive persons most often voice their assumption that we already have those basic  rights, and are incredulous (or downright doubtful) when I describe the  reality and impact of how Federal and state laws prevent numerous common sense solutions to partner issues (such as sharing health care benefits or the recognizing of foreign partners). How can they be so ignorant of our plight?

    Is there any greater condemnation of the effectiveness of the organized gay rights movement? I agree with the reader that a sizable number of fair-minded Americans are so supportive of basic civil rights and legal recognition for gay couples that they actually believe we already enjoy such protections and recognition. Unlike the often difficult work of overcoming objections and changing hearts and minds, reaching these folks only requires informing them of the reality of our second-class citizenship and, as Barack Obama might say, activating them for change.

    And yet the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the other D.C.-based crew are so focused inside the Beltway that gay-friendly ignorance is permitted to persist. When was the last time you saw one of our national groups mount an effective public demontration of the rights denied gay and lesbian Americans? The Millennium March on Washington, perhaps? That was April 2000…

    The sliming of Obama

    Posted by: Andoni

    As a 61 year old, I vividly remember the last time I got this excited about a presidential candidate. It was 1960 and the young charismatic, intelligent, candidate was John Fitzgerald Kennedy. He spoke with ease in a manner that conveyed ideas clearly and inspired me.

    One distinct thought I remember from that election was that all the presidents before JFK had been born in the prior century, the 1800s or before. I had nothing in common with these people. Kennedy would be the first president born in the 20th century, my century, the one I could relate to.

    If the election comes down to John McCain and Barack Obama I believe there will be a similar symbolic divide in the minds of voters born after mid-20th century. They will find it harder to relate to John McCain, born in 1936, than Barack Obama born in 1961.

    The other vivid memory I have from 1960 is just how far the people who resisted change (whether to a president from a new generation or because he was Catholic) would go to disparage Kennedy. My next door neighbor was Protestant. She hated Catholics and said so daily. She loved to show me photos of the pope where she had added artwork to include devil’s horns. She showed me pictures of the pope with Kennedy where she added cartoon dialog bubbles with dirty thoughts. She never missed a moment to scare me with thoughts of the Pope ruling America if Kennedy got elected. Where these outlandish thoughts came from -- other than pure hate and fear -- I do not know.

    Today, Barack Obama is a similar barrier-smashing, change candidate who is threatening the status quo in America’s political arena. And today Barack is being hit with smears just like Kennedy.

    In January I received chain emails (even from smart people whom I would not think of as bigoted) claiming Obama was a Muslim who attended a madrassa in Indonesia and then refused to use a Bible when sworn in as a senator, using a Koran instead. When put to any independent fact check test, all those claims turned out to be utterly false.

    Now even someone from our community has gotten into the slime-Obama act. For the past several months, Larry Sinclair has been peddling a story that he picked up Obama in a bar, had sex and did drugs in the back of a limo:

    To stretch credibility even further, Sinclair claimed that Barack liked him so much that he returned for more a few days later. News surfaced yesterday that, not surprisingly, Sinclair failed a polygraph test but we'll have to wait and see if that finally put this particular whisper campaign to bed.

    Now I’m hearing claims that Obama is some sort of cult figure, even putting himself out there as a Messiah. One example is in the first comment under a previous post of mine, "Dr. Barack Obama."

    The cult charge is really off the mark. There is one easy, significant and important difference between a cult or messianic movement and the Obama campaign. The former put all their faith in the leader (Jesus, Jim Jones, etc.), but the Obama campaign spreads the power and responsibility around. “Yes we can.” Notice the “we.” It’s not “Yes, I can” or “Believe in me, I can do it for you.”

    When Obama exites people by saying “Yes we can,” he follows the example of none other than the United States Constitution and “We the people…” In founding our Republic, “We the people” gave the power to our elected officials. Now that it's apparent that elected officials have really botched things, Obama is returning to the original motivation to rouse people into action, to rebuild the country.

    So just like John F. Kennedy, Obama is going to have everything thrown at him from anyone who fears the seismic change that Obama represents. Let’s hope that a majority of Americans are able to objectively analyze each onslaught and see through the bigotry and the lies conjured by those who feel most threatened.

    An alma mater 'offended' by the curve

    Posted by: Chris

    Hweq8l9v1 Since I took some potshots at my college alma mater last week for perpetually trailing the curve of societal progress ("An alma mater behind the curve"), I feel obliged to highlight how so many at my law school alma mater are too busy being "offended" to meaningfully contribute toward that change.

    The impetus comes from a story about Heather Corliss, a hapless instructor from Boston Children's Hospital who gave a lecture at the Harvard School of Public Health about violence against GLBT youth:

    Harvard University students objected to a guest speaker's use of the term "minority" and an apparent lack of concern shown for transgender people during a presentation about the discrimination against homosexual youth yesterday. … Some said calling gay, lesbian and bisexual youth a "minority" is wrong because of the stigma attached to the term.

    Corliss said she did not intend for the word to encourage discrimination, and said she did not include statistics for transgender youth in her presentation because those available were not as thorough as those for gay, lesbians and bisexual youth.

    It's depressing to see how 17 years after I graduated, the P.C. police in "Moscow on the Charles" are every bit as myopic as they were in the late '80s. I still remember my first night in the law school dorms, at a mixer down a long hallway from my room. I went to the bathroom nearby, not realizing that this half of the hallway was for the other gender. Fortunately, I realized my error and skulked out of the restroom before causing a problem.

    "I had no idea that was a girls' bathroom," I said to a few others once I returned to the mixer in the lounge. "Hisssssss!" came the reply from a female student nearby. "No, I'm sorry," I said to her. "I really didn't realize that bathroom was for girls." "Hisssssss!" she said again. "We're women; not girls!"

    And so it was for the next three years, and I found myself growing more conservative by the month in response -- the exact opposite impact of my four years on a conservative college campus. As editor of the Harvard Law Record, the student newspaper, I even became something of a lightning rod for P.C. indignation.

    The straw that broke the camel's back was an editorial I wrote criticizing the Black Law Student Association -- the third rail for a white student. A big Chicago law firm had been in the news for an outrageous job interview given by a senior white partner to a black female law student. His sick idea of a stress test was to ask her questions like, "Why don't black people go to their own country clubs the way Jews do?"

    Months later, representatives from that same firm were scheduled to attend a workplace diversity seminar at Harvard, but the BLSA went ballistic and succeeded at getting them disinvited. My editorial condemned the partner's conduct but also questioned BLSA's response. Wasn't this firm -- more than any other -- in dire need of a diversity seminar?

    In response, the BLSA president wrote an angry letter he distributed in the mailbox of every law student. "I look forward to graduating soon," he wrote, "so I will longer have to deal with ignorant white men like Chris Crain." I have to wonder whether he found the real world more or less challenging than the Harvard cocoon. I  also have to wonder what Barack Obama thought of all this silliness, since he was a member of the BLSA at the time. I have little doubt that engaging that Chicago firm made more sense to him than the defiant and pointless boycott. (Donnie McClurkin, anyone?)

    Perhaps Obama's attempt to transcend identity politics will also rub off on our alma mater, and the good GLBT folks there can get over themselves about being called a "minority."

    Continue reading»

    Kimmel and Affleck fag it up

    Posted by: Chris

    A celebrity-drenched video released by Jimmy Kimmel is getting lots of laughs on YouTube, but I have to confess it went too far for me.

    First, a bit of background. Apparently as a running gag, Kimmel ends his late-night talk show by apologizing to Matt Damon that he's been bumped as a guest for lack of time. Eventually Damon, in response, showed he's put his (imaginary) interminable wait backstage to good use, and teamed up with Kimmel's girlfriend Sarah Silverman to produce a hilarious video, in which she sings, "I'm F**king Matt Damon."

    Not to be outdone, Kimmel put together his own revenge video, backed by an amazing array of celebrities, in which he proclaims, "I'm F**king Ben Affleck":

    The concept is funny, the celebrity participation works perfectly. But it really put me off that Kimmel and Affleck felt the need to don such over-the-top girly stereotypes. The reason the Silverman-Damon skit worked so well was the in-your-face way they advertised their (sham) affair. But is Damon really supposed to be peeved at the sissy silliness of Affleck and Kimmel cavorting about?

    The Kimmel response would have been so much effective, and funnier, if he and Affleck had gone the other direction, as manly men who in addition to their man-sex do all the buddy things Affleck and Damon are famous for doing together. But of course Kimmel couldn't go there, he of "The Man Show" had to exaggerate the fag factor for cheap (very cheap) laughs.

    February 26, 2008

    Larry Craig seeks interns

    Posted by: Andoni

    Most of the interns I have had the honor of working with in my office have moved on to much greater things.

    So goes the ad that Larry Craig has posted on his webpage searching for summer interns. This news item hasn't hit MSM yet, but MyFox seems to be having a little fun, noting that, "Interns are paired with staff members."

    If I were having fun with this, too, I might suggest that reporters peruse the personals of some of the local LGBT papers like the Washington Blade for an ad that might read like this:

    Mature straight acting, closeted powerful government employee capable of advancing the career of the right candidate iso young straight acting male for work in and around DC. Travel and overnights included in official duties. Send resume, wait for personal interview.

    GNW 5: Oscar's gay snub and updates

    Posted by: Chris

    Scottrudinoscars_3 A couple of updates on the No. 1 story below. On the one hand, the Academy has updated its transcript to reflect Rudin's thank-you to his partner. On the other, it's been noted that when Rudin made his thank-you in the TV broadcast, the cameras didn't cut to his partner the way they always do for the adoring wife or husband.

    1. Oscars scrub 'best film' producer's tribute to partner: QUICK LOOK: If you watched the 80th annual Academy Awards last night, you heard No Country for Old Men producer Scott Rudin finish his Best Picture acceptance speech with a shout-out... (MORE)
    2. Accuser recants claims against safe sex poster boyAccuser recants claims against safe sex poster boy: QUICK LOOK: The young man at the center of an unsafe sex allegation involving one of the Gay Men’s Health Safe Sex Poster Boys has admitted to New Zealand AIDS Foundation staff that... (MORE)
    3. Ft. Worth Baptist church kills family photos over gay members: QUICK LOOK: Fort Worth's Broadway Baptist Church members reached a compromise on a church directory Sunday, ending a debate on how to include photos of gay members but leaving the pastor's fate unclear. In a... (MORE)
    4. Gays fight raising age of consent from 14 in CanadaGays fight raising age of consent from 14 in Canada: QUICK LOOK: Raising the age of consent is a veiled attempt to assert conservative moral values on youth, queer and youth-led groups told Senators today. The Senate's legal affairs... (MORE)
    5. Protests in Rome over the deportation of gay IraniansProtests in Rome over the deportations of gay Iranians: QUICK LOOK: Human rights groups scheduled a protest in front of the British Embassy in Rome today, aimed at drawing attention to the plight of a 19-year old Iranian gay man. Seyed... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    Waking up on the wrong side (II)

    Posted by: Chris

    I've written before on occasion about those days when I wake up and see gay activists so wrong-headed that I feel like they're putting us on "the wrong side" of the Culture Wars.

    That's how I felt when the Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders tried to use a public accomodations law to force an Irish gay group into Boston St. Patrick's Day parade or when Lambda Legal tried to force the Boy Scouts to change their membership rules. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked both those attempts.

    It's how I felt when a gay bar in Melbourne tried to exclude heterosexuals, and a gay men's bar in Montreal tried to exclude women. And it's how I felt when a lesbian sued eHarmony to force a matchmaking and a lesbian couple sued a Methodist church in New Jersey to force it into accepting their wedding on its property.

    Richardhudler1 But none of that compares to the anger and disbelief I felt when I read yesterday about how gay groups in Canada are trying to block an effort to raise the age of consent there from 14. Here's how Xtra, the Canadian gay paper, reported it:

    The proposed changes will have a disproportionate impact on gays, said Richard Hudler of the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario.

    "My first lover was 17 years older than me. And this is common [among gay people]," he said. "It is dangerous considering the attitude toward sexual orientation in schools for a young person to attempt to make sexual contact with a peer."

    Hudler looks like he's right out of central casting for the creepy older homosexual angry that our access to 14 and 15 year-olds might be limited if age of consent laws are changed. Not only is it ridiculous to suggest that first gay relationships are more often with much older partners, it obviously plays right into offensive stereotypes about predatory gay men.

    Age of consent laws are arbitrary by nature and cannot take into account the differences in maturity levels among individual teens, and Canadian activists are right to challenge the higher age of consent for anal sex (18). But the idea behind such laws is clear and laudatory: setting an age at which youth should be protected from the risks to their physical and psychological health that come from sexual relationships.

    Yes some teens can handle sex well, but many cannot and gay activists ought to be on the side of protecting youth as much as possible -- giving them the "safe space" to figure out who the are before actual sex comes into play. To see creepy activists like Hudler advocating their exploitation by their elders is, well, disgusting.

    (Photo by Brent Creelman via Xtra.ca)

    February 25, 2008

    Left off the list

    Posted by: Chris

    It's been a while since I've taken a potshot at the Human Rights Campaign, so here goes. Did anyone else notice the nation's largest gay rights organization was not on the list of 10 GLBT groups that will split the record-breaking $65 million bequest by gay Microsoft pioneer Ric Weiland?

    The complete list of beneficiaries includes:

    • amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research
    • Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
    • Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
    • In The Life
    • International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
    • Lambda Legal
    • National Gay & Lesbian Task Force
    • Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG)
    • Project Inform
    • Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

    Perhaps Weiland decided HRC was sufficiently endowed or maybe like many he questions the organization's effectiveness, especially given its resources.

    The Times is finally changing

    Posted by: Chris

    Washtimes0425 Now that the arch-conservative, Moonie-owned Washington Times has raided the Washington Post for its new editor, John Solomon, two of his early changes signal a newfound recognition of, well, reality:

    • Gay is approved for copy and preferred over homosexual, except in clinical references or references to sexual activity.
    • The quotation marks will come off gay marriage (preferred over homosexual marriage).

    I subscribed to and enjoyed the Times in my years in D.C., because it was reliably provocative and covered gay issues almost as much as the Washington Blade. But the avoidance of the G-word, and the use of "homosexual 'marriage'" -- even after a number of countries and the state of Massachusetts were issuing certificates, was just plain offensive.

    The sensible changes at the Times -- which also included using "illegal immigrant" rather than "illegal alien" -- remind me of my first decision as editor of the Washington Blade: to stop capitalizing "Gay" and "Lesbian." (For whatever reason, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual weren't being capitalized.)

    Hidden victims of Christian ignorance

    Posted by: Chris

    Marriedgaycaketopper1 Self magazine has published a poignant profile of a woman who learned, after a decade of marriage and pregnant with her fourth child, that her husband was gay. It's worth the read, but the take-away for me was this excerpt:

    I was 30 years old when this happened, and Chris and I had been married for 11 years. We looked like the perfect family in our Christmas card portrait. Both of us grew up in the small-town South, and Chris was in the military. …

    I was a 19-year-old college freshman in Kentucky when I met Chris. He was 22, a senior and a talented musician who could sing and play brass, keyboards and woodwinds. I'd never had a boyfriend before, and I felt incredibly flattered when this popular, good-looking guy asked me out. I was also pleased that we had a similar religious upbringing. I grew up going to a Methodist church, and I've always had a strong Christian faith. Chris's father was a Southern Baptist minister who preached fire and brimstone. …

    It's not just her husband's (fake) name that makes this story ring true. Time and again, I have seen how the woman most vulnerable to marrying closeted gay men are those from the same sheltered conservative Christian background as the men who aren't equipped to come to grips with their sexual orientation.

    These women (and the men who marry closeted lesbians) are the hidden victims of often-willful Christian ignorance about homosexuality. It's easy enough to see how gay men and lesbians can be tortured about their sexual orientation, worried about risking family, friends and even their eternal hereafter. But the roadkill in their torture are the heterosexual girlfriends and boyfriends they date and often marry.

    The woman in the Self magazine profile actually had many more clues than most do. "Chris" told her at the end of their first date, out of the blue, not to believe all the rumors about him being gay. Most of those in the closet are a bit more adept at hiding who they are. But just as gays from small towns and conservative churches aren't informed enough about sexual orientation to come out, their girlfriends and wives aren't clued in as well about the signs to watch out for.

    Still, let's be clear that responsibility for a sham marriage ultimately falls on the closeted homosexual, as well as on the pressuring family, church and society leaders insistent on making the case that sexual orientation is a "choice."

    I remember all too well the relationships I had with women in college and law school. Whenever I felt like her feelings were becoming serious, I fell into a torment. On the one hand, the relationship held the hope of "saving" me from the feelings I tried so hard to stifle. On the other, I knew I would be risking her feelings and her future as much as my own. I would pull away, but I could just as easily see myself jumping in, with consequences I shudder to imagine today.

    It's too much to ask of these "straight spouses," after all they've been put through, to stand up for us in public. But their stories bear powerful witness to the real human cost of anti-gay ignorance and religious-motivated bigotry.

    February 24, 2008

    Log Cabin's main man McCain

    Posted by: Chris

    Mccainthumbs The good folks over at Log Cabin -- Scott Tucker in particular -- have taken the time to respond to a column I wrote last week that casts doubt on whether gay Republicans should be so happy with John McCain as their party's nominee. While Tucker acknowledges that I'm "a generally reasonable voice" (and thanks for that), he feels I "missed the boat" with this column and headlined his response, "And the Delusion Begins…" (Ahem!)

    Tucker makes a stronger case than I did for McCain as a independent-thinking moderate, arguing that more so than past nominees, McCain succeeded without any support from the social conservatives and the "religious right." He also points out that the Arizona senator did not simply vote against the federal marriage amendment, "McCain gave the most impassioned speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate against the amendment, calling it 'antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans.'"

    Both points are well taken, although McCain's lack of evangelical backing was not for lack of trying. He went out of his way to recant his previous criticism of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as "agents of intolerance" and even gave the commencement address at Falwell's Liberty University, which expels openly gay students. Tucker dismisses McCain's Falwell flip-flop by misstating my point:

    Okay, so, if I’m hearing you correctly, it’s a deal-breaker for a politician to appear with those who preach intolerance of gays?  Guess you won’t be voting for Barack Obama then.

    Note that the Obama reference is linked to an item about the Donnie McClurkin controversy. In fact, my point was that McCain took back his criticism of Falwell for no reason other than to mollify evangelical Christians. Of course McCain's unconditional embrace of Falwell was very different from how Obama dealt with McClurkin, the "ex-gay" gospel singer.

    Obama said that while he accepted McClurkin's support, he disagreed fundamentally with McClurkin on gay rights. Obama has also repeatedly said to black ministers that the black church needs to own up to its homophobia. Suffice it to say that McCain's Liberty commencement included no such challenges.

    More tortured was Tucker's logic in defense of Log Cabin's attack ads against Mitt Romney, who was (for a Republican) supportive of gay rights but reversed himself almost completely in his presidential run. Here's what I wrote:

    “Governor Romney [spent] tens of millions of dollars to hide his record and to distort the record of his opponents,” the gay GOP group said in a statement [after Romney quit the race]. “In the end, voters did not find this version of Mitt Romney to be credible. Too many voters learned the truth about his record, and that record didn’t match his new found conservative rhetoric.” …

    [I]s it really the Log Cabin view that Romney’s pro-gay past is inconsistent with being a true conservative, and his anti-gay presidential campaign reflects “newfound conservative rhetoric”?

    In response, Tucker said this:

    No. That’s why the ads we launched highlighting Romney’s record made no mention of gay issues. It is our view that the Romney who once ran from the Reagan legacy like it was a smelly gym sock, only to brand himself a “Reagan conservative” in a later White House run, is not consistent and not conservative. Ditto his flips on taxes, guns, abortion, and just about every other major issue.

    It's a very strained position that Log Cabin is taking. So Romney reinvented himself on a whole range of issues to appear more conservative to GOP primary voters, but his 180-degree flip-flop on gay rights wasn't yet another example of taking a newfound conservative position? C'mon -- of course it was, and by pointing out all the other ways in which Romney tacked to the right, Log Cabin only reinforced that support for gay rights is not conservative and opposing gay rights is conservative.

    Log Cabin would have been far more effective attacking Romney's credibility, including on gay issues, rather than reinforcing notions about what "qualifies" someone as being conservative.

    Most disappointingly, Tucker makes no effort to address the real criticism of my column: that with public support so overwhelming (including among Republicans) on a whole range of gay rights issues, LCR should expect more than opposition to every form of gay rights, including workplace protection, hate crime laws, repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," civil unions or domestic partnerships.

    McCain is on the wrong side of every one of those issues. Is that really worth cheering about?

    A closeted veep for McCain?

    Posted by: Chris

    Foleycrist With John McCain pretty much wrapping up to GOP nomination, speculation moves to whom he might select as his running mate. This from yesterday's New York Times:

    Quite a few of the names being bandied about are those of politicians in their 40s and 50s, including Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota, 47; Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida, 51, whose well-timed endorsement helped Mr. McCain win the crucial swing-state’s primary; Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, 47; and Rob Portman, 52, a former Ohio congressman and director of the Office of Management and Budget.

    Well you can strike one name off that list: Charlie Crist. The briefly-married, longtime bachelor governor of Florida has too many lingering questions about whether he's gay -- from a fellow politician's recollection of a personal admission from Crist years earlier, to (unproven) stories about a young male activist being seduced at a party.

    Expect McCain to stay as far away as possible from that kind of sideshow.

    February 23, 2008

    Hazards of hiring a gay weatherman

    Posted by: Chris

    GNW: Hillary's big gay snub

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Clinton campaign bans gay R.I. mayor from rallyClinton campaign bans gay R.I. mayor from rally: QUICK LOOK: Openly gay Providence Mayor David Cicilline says he's thinking carefully about his next step, now that the presidential campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton has asked him... (MORE)
    2. 'Straight' 'Big Brother' hopeful has a gay porn past'Straight' 'Big Brother' hopeful has a gay porn past: QUICK LOOK: Big Brother 9: Till Death Do Us Part has only been on air a few weeks, but already the hope for the first ever gay “showmance” seems to have been dashed. Sexy Neil Garcia... (MORE)
    3. Miami hospital excludes lesbian from dying partnerMiami hospital excludes lesbian from dying partner: QUICK LOOK: In the final moments of Janice Langbehn-Pond’s life, the power of attorney she fastidiously filled out didn’t stop her from dying alone. Her partner and children sat... (MORE)
    4. Arrest made in the murder of gay man in cruising parkArrest made in the murder of gay man in cruising park: QUICK LOOK: A 29-year-old man has appeared in court charged with the murder of man at a gay cruising spot this week. Unemployed Mark Malone, 29, appeared before Staines Magistrates'... (MORE)
    5. Calling GLBT a 'minority' offends Harvard studentsCalling GLBT youth a 'minority' offends Harvard students: QUICK LOOK: Harvard University students objected to a guest speaker's use of the term "minority" and an apparent lack of concern shown for transgender people during a presentation... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    Is McCain pulling a 'Clinton?' (II)

    Posted by: Andoni

    The first crack has appeared in John McCain's defense against the New York Times article. The Daily Kos' Barbin MD found a deposition by McCain that appears to contradict statements made by the presumptive GOP nominee at the press conference yesterday. In particular, McCain insisted that the letter he wrote on behalf of the lobbying firms Paxson and Alcalde &Fay about preserving a broadcast ownership loophole was a routine constituent matter and that he had never spoken with them about it.

    But in a deposition under oath on September 25, 2005, Senator McCain when asked how he got information on the matter said, "But I would add, I was contacted by Mr. Paxson on this issue."

    Today in a more complete account of this incident, the New York Times reports that the letters that McCain wrote were unusually blunt and were sent after meetings he had with lobbyist Vicki Iseman and Edwin Edwards, the president of the company that wanted to keep the loophole.

    The money line from the Times article:

    Edwin Edwards, who was the president of the company at the time, said in a recent interview that after retaining Ms. Iseman, he was able to get heard by Mr. McCain.

    Does this prove anything? Probably not on its own. But for a senator who campaigns on cleaning up Washington from the influence of lobbyists, this is not a good Exhibit A. And I'm sure there are more to follow.

    Drip, drip, drip.

    February 22, 2008

    Is McCain pulling a 'Clinton'?

    Posted by: Andoni

    We all remember Bill Clinton's famous,  "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is."

    Could John McCain be playing the same kind of semantics game? The New York Times and the Washington Post are great newspapers whose editors and reporters know the importance of getting a story correct. They know their obligation to the public and to their readers; and they both have set up strict rules of scrutiny so the public can have faith that what they publish is basically true.

    Is it possible that both these great newspapers are totally incorrect in their reports on McCain's improprieties or appearances of improprieties during his 2000 campaign? The chances are slim that not one sliver of what the Times or Post reported is true. And yet McCain's denials at his press conference yesterday were unequivocal. So what else could be going on here?

    In their reporting, the Times said that its sources were "associates" of McCain and the Post claimed its information was from McCain "advisers." However, during Senator McCain's press conference yesterday, the terms used for the denials that anyone ever attempted an intervention in his relationship with Vicki Iseman were "aides" and "staff," not "associates" and "advisers" as described in the two papers.

    Marc Ambinder conjectures that these "associates" and "advisers" acting to separate McCain from Iseman might have been friends or even other lobbyists, and not "aides" and "staff." If this is so, then McCain is playing word games just as Clinton did, and the electorate will not appreciate it. It will be interesting to see how the same Republicans who took Clinton to task for playing with the truty will react if this turns out to be the case with McCain as well.

    Who do I believe here? The Times, for two reasons. First ,it has a track record of good journalism. Second, there is enough history of McCain being in bed (figuratively) with lobbyists even as he has tried to build a reputation opposite of that.

    Today's Washington Post exposes McCain's hypocrisy with respect to lobbyists by pointing out:

    [W]hen McCain huddled with his closest advisers at his rustic Arizona cabin last weekend to map out his presidential campaign, virtually every one was part of the Washington lobbying culture he has long decried.

    This cartoon by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mike Luckovich captures problems McCain is going to have when his real record with lobbyists becomes better known. McCain's reputation as squeaky clean is all P.R. and will go the same route that Hillary's all-P.R. "inevitability."

    This McCain story is still unresolved, and I really hope more comes out from either the Times or Post to prove or disprove things. McCain's denials were so unequivocal that it will take only one small piece of the Times story to be proven true to derail his campaign. If he's caught in a lie -- even a Clinton lie -- he's done.

    Hillary's big gay snub

    Posted by: Chris

    Providence1 The decision by the Clinton campaign to ban Providence, R.I., Mayor David Cicilline from attending her rally there this Sunday had nothing to do with the fact that Cicilline is openly gay. Cicilline, who has campaigned for Hillary in New Hampshire and locally, is embroiled in a drawn-out dispute with the local firefighter's union that was deemed too touchy. (Ironically, the call to Cicilline to stay away was made by Clinton's national political director, Guy Cecil, who is also gay.)

    Never mind that Cicilline restored the public trust in Providence government after a series of scandals stained his predecessors, or that he's a rising star in the party and possible candidate for governor in 2010 -- an election that would be a major victory for the gay rights movement. Regardless, a snub like this would have been unthinkable if Cicilline were African American or Hispanic and is the latest example of how the Clinton camp views gays as a captive clique already in her back pocket.

    February 21, 2008

    Live-blogging the Dem debate

    Posted by: Chris

    SECOND UPDATE: It also turns out that Hillary Clinton's final answer also borrowed from a frequent riff from her own husband's '92 campaign:

    [Bill] Clinton, 92: "The hits that I took in this election are nothing compared to the hits the people of this state and this country have been taking for a long time."

    Hillary Clinton, tonight: "You know, the hits I’ve taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country."

    To see a side-by-side comparison between her final answer and Edwards' earlier debate remarks, check out this short YouTube video:

    All in all, I agree entirely with TPM's Josh Marshall about the significance of these "plagiarism" issues, whether aimed at Clinton or Obama:

    Just to be 100% clear, there's nothing in the least wrong with this. And it's a great line. But I think it shows the silliness of the 'plagiarism' charges based on a few borrowed lines. Politicians borrow good lines and catch-phrases. Happens all the time. There's nothing wrong with it.

    UPDATE: Whoa. CNN just reporting that the Obama campaign is sending out an email that points out Hillary's final, emotional statement is remarkably similar -- though not completely word for word -- to an earlier debate statement by John Edwards. If that gets widely reported, it could neutralize what was for her a very strong moment.

    All in all, I think Hillary was better on the evening, and it was a great move to talk out the clock and end on such a rousing note. But I don't think she came anywhere close to drawing the contrasts that could fundamentally change the campaign. Obama avoided any gaffes and succeeded in drawing contrasts as well.

    11:41: Hillary references almost jokingly to the "tests" she's faced, but she says they're nothing compared to the challenges she's seen Americans face. I always roll my eyes when politicians "feel the pain" of the people. When she returns to a more personal focus and her own motivations for being in politics and running for president it's a very strong moment for her. She's "honored" to be on the stage with Obama -- something he said about her earlier -- and reaches out for a handshake. "No matter what happens, we'll be fine."  She draws a standing ovation, but it was also the end of the debate. Did she find her "voice" again?

    11:36: Clinton ducks a question about superdelegates, saying the party will unify. Obama says the primaries should "count for something."

    11:34: Clinton has three times Obama's earmarks, and King contrasts that with McCain's refusal to use earmarks. Clinton turns the answer around by pointing out McCain's support for Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war. Deft but not answering the question.

    11:32: Jon King asks Obama about his pork barrel earmarks, claims he has refused to disclose them. Obama denies that and says he has.

    11:25: Obama draws a contrast, saying he's better positioned to debate John McCain on Iraq because he opposed the war from beginning. Clinton will be reduced to arguing tactics. Her attacks on the plagiarim issue and health care were more pointed, but he's drawing as many contrasts as she is. You would think these two candidates were still tied in the race for the nomination.

    11:23: Asked about the surge, which neither supported, Clinton repeats what she's said in the past about how the surge has succeed tactically but not in its primary goal, which was to give the Iraqi government the breathing room to make political change.

    11:20: Obama does the best he can on his answer, reminding voters that on the most important related issue -- whether to go to war in Iraq -- he was right and she was wrong.

    11:17: Asked again whether she thinks Obama's not ready to be commander in chief, Hillary returns to her own record, and makes a good case for her depth of experince -- although it always rankles me that she counts her eight years as First Lady.

    11:14: The debate over mandates in health care reform strikes me as a bit irrelevant since the form the legislation would take would go through a rigorous debate that depends on many players other than the president of the United States. But they've stuck to it because she thinks it's a good contrast for her.

    11:11: Asked whether when Clinton said, "One of us is ready to be commander in chief on Day One," does that mean he's not, she ducks the question, saying she would "leave that to voters to decide." Returns to health care and for the second time in the debate compliments John Edwards by name.

    11:08: Commercial break. Clinton waited an hour to go on attack. Given the state of the campaign and how tight the polls in Texas (and Ohio) have become, it's really surprising that she hasn't been more aggressive in drawing contrasts. Her attempt to make something out of the plagiarism charge was especially weak, I thought. Still, she does better than him on substantive policy discussions, so perhaps her campaign views that general contrast as the most important one to make.

    11:05: Obama claims she is attacking his health care plan only because he's ahead. He may be right but it's not an effective argument. He's much better sticking to the issues, rejecting her suggestion that his plan isn't universal also. Interesting contrast on her efforts on health care from the '90s, criticizing the lack of transparency and excluding interested parties. Nice point for him that fits his general campaign theme.

    11:00: Hillary smiles broadly and then says, "If your candidacy is about your words, then it should be your words." Uses a clearly pre-planned line (she even glanced down twice to her notes before she said it): "Using someone else's words isn't change you can believe it; it's change you can xerox." The line bombs; boos from the audience and no claps. Also attacks Obama's health care plan for not being universal, and mortgage foreclosures. Finally the aggressiveness that I'd expected. Returns to attacking Bush and says, "Some of us have been fighting for a long time."

    10:58: Asked about the plagiarism accusations pushed by the Clinton campaign, Obama says Massachusetts. Gov. Deval Patrick is co-chair of his campaign and gave him the line and suggested that he use it. "This is when we start getting into silly season in politics and people get discouraged about it," he says. Nicely done. I wish he had mentioned that the Clinton campaign when asked refused to say whether she had done the same thing -- borrowing lines without credit from other politicians.

    10:54: Obama responds by ticking off his accomplishments. Compliments Senator Clinton's record but focuses on "how change comes about." Gets a laugh line in response to Hillary saying in rallies this week that it's time to "get real" as if his supporters are "delusional." References his endorsement by every major Texas newspaper -- a great line for him. All these people and institutions haven't been "duped."

    10:51: Another great line from Hillary: "The next president should be a lot less hat and a lot more cattle." As close as she comes to a barb was repeating that an Obama supporter when asked on MSNBC couldn't come up with a single one of his accomplishments.

    10:48: Where are the contrasts? So far there's no evidence Hillary Clinton will go after Obama aggressively. Jon King clearly wants to rile things up. Asking each candidate about their attack lines abou the other.

    10:43: Asked about whether the U.S. should become bilingual, Clinton says she would encourage bilingualism (even though she doesn't speak a second language), but English should remain common language. Obama essentially agrees. I think it's a great idea to make learning a second language a requirement of primary and secondary schools. It's much easier at that age, trains the brain in much the same way as mathematics and helps expand horizons as well.

    10:40: Obama returns to enforcement in an employment context. Actually that's smart for him, because his voter base is more white men and blacks than Latinos.

    10:38: Asked about border security, Clinton is smart and focuses more on the absurdities of the Bush administration's approach than on what she would do. "Listen to the people who live on the border," she says, another great applause line.

    10:35: Obama talks more about anti-immigrant rhetoric and scapegoating than policy, although he does get to employer regulation eventually. He talks about hefty fines and going to the back of the line, a surprising emphasis given his audience. Makes the point that helping the Mexican economy should be a central part of immigration policy, a great point that could potentially result in fewer undocumented immigrants than more fences and border patrols.

    10:31: Clinton would support stopping raids on undocumented immigrants. A good position for the Texas Democratic primary but not for the general. (P.S. I couldn't agree more.) Ticks through her immigration policy points; no emphasis on securing the borders (surprise, surprise).

    10:27: Clinton takes a shot at Bush, saying the "wealthy and well-connected" have had a president looking after their interests for the last seven years. She's better so far at delivering the snappy applause lines. She also delivers an exhaustive list of policy proposals, including a 90-day foreclosure freeze and a 5-year interest-rate freeze. Popular proposals but extremely interventionist.

    10:24: Obama details his economic plan but hasn't answered the question from CNN's Jon King -- how would a President Obama manage the economy different than a President Clinton. The only contrast he'll draw isn't substantive. He can pull together a coalition and (implicitly) she can't. Will she take the bait?

    10:20: Obama says "extra step" of presidential-level meeting is justified to signal a marked change from the Bush administration's go-it-alone approach.

    10:19: Clinton emphasizes that "prepatory work" should be done first, something Obama also said. She does push diplomatic engagement, so the contrast here isn't so great. Good applause line: Era of unilateralism of Bush administration is over.

    10:17: Obama would meet Castro without precondition, as he said he would in a previous debate with the presidents of Iran and Syria. Human rights and democratic change would be on the table for the visit. No normalization of relations until changes happen. He's right that total isolation of Cuba has netted pretty much nothing to the U.S. except pacifying influential Cuban-Americans in Florida.

    10:15: Clinton is asked if she'll sit down with Raoul Castro, Cuba's new leader. She sets preconditions for direct contact, including democratic change and release of political prisoners. A presidential visit would be "eventual." So why does the U.S. president regularly meet and visit other world leaders who are dictators and even Communist?

    10:10: No historical connections to Texas from Obama, but he references locals he's met on the campaign trail. He seems a bit rundown, with less energy than her. "We both offer detailed proposals," he says, a subtle dig at her claim that he's all talk and no substance.

    10:07: Hillary's opening statement reinforces her ties to Texas, including friendships with Barbara Jordan and Ann Richard, both immensely popular figures. (Richard, by the way, was long rumored to be a lesbian and lived for many years in the same house with her longtime female assistant and close friend). She stays positive, and draws no contrasts -- a bit of a surprise. With the clock ticking, I expected her to come out with guns blazing.

    10:02: The audience in Austin loves both candidates, but they appear to love Barack Obama a bit more than Hillary Clinton. I predict more fireworks than there were in Los Angeles but not as derisive as the Myrtle Beach catfight.

    10:01 p.m.: I have never tried this before, but I thought I would try live-blogging tonight's debate. It could be good or it could be a complete disaster... ;)

    Will gay superdelegates decide race?

    Posted by: Chris

    Barackobama That's the speculation by former Blade editor Lisa Keen in an article in the Bay Area Reporter:

    According to various media head counts, about 300 of the 796 super delegates have not yet announced who they will support for the nomination. And, seven of those 300 are openly LGBT super delegates.

    So, if the nomination comes down to superdelegates – as many political pundits speculate it will – then the contest for superdelegates would have to be neck-in-neck for seven LGBT politicos to make the difference. …

    [A]ccording to Stonewall Democrats, … of the 15 LGBT superdelegates who have taken sides, 13 support Clinton and two support Obama. One of those supporting Clinton is Mirian Saez, who was at a Clinton get out the vote rally in the Castro last month in advance of Super Tuesday. Saez is a member of the Democratic National Committee.

    The seven uncommitted LGBT superdelegates include California state Sen. Carole Migden (San Francisco); Missouri state Rep. Maria Chappelle-Nadal; New Hampshire state party Chair Ray Buckley; Oregon state party Vice Chair Frank Dixon; Wisconsin DNC member Jason Rae; David Hardt, president of the national Young Democrats of America; and Andrew Tobias, treasurer of the Democratic National Committee, from New York.

    Party rules prevent Buckley, Hardt, and Tobias from endorsing a candidate.

    My own view is that it's increasingly unlikely that the nomination will come down to just a few superdelegate votes, but stranger things have happened. Keen also points out that the lopsided gay support for Hillary, which I've questioned, doesn't hold true in Texas, the next big primary battleground:

    In the once three-way race among Clinton, Obama, and Edwards, Edwards ran first in Texas in terms of contributions raised in heavily gay Zip codes, followed by Obama in second, and then Clinton. The latest Federal Elections Commission report shows Obama with only a small advantage over Clinton in gay-dense Zip codes in Texas – 52 percent versus 48 percent.

    But Texas continues to stand in stark contrast to most gay-heavy Zip codes around the country, where 58 percent of the contributions have gone to Clinton and 42 percent to Obama. And all these variables seem to both contribute to and reflect the constantly shifting fortunes in this historically significant and volatile race.

    It will be interesting to see how long establishment gay Democrats move to the Obama camp, the way he is solidifying support among organized labor and other party lobbies. Given how the Human Rights Campaign has been so obviously in Hillary's camp, it would behoove them to reach out sooner rather than later to the candidate who appears close to being the presumptive nominee.

    GNW 5: Questions about teen's shooting

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Parents ask how fight with gay student led to shootingParents ask how fight with gay student led to shooting: QUICK LOOK: Hundreds of parents filled an Oxnard gymnasium last night to ask hard questions about why school officials didn't intervene more aggressively in an escalating feud between... (MORE)
    2. Man stabbed to death in Surrey public cruising parkMan stabbed to death in Surrey public cruising park: QUICK LOOK: Police investigating the murder of a man in public toilets at a popular cruising site for gays have recovered a knife. The identity of the man in his 50s, found stabbed... (MORE)
    3. N.J. governor would sign gay marriage bill after Nov.N.J. governor would sign gay marriage bill after Nov. election: QUICK LOOK: New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine yesterday said he has "significant concerns" about whether civil unions give gay couples the same rights as married couples, but didn't back... (MORE)
    4. Gay and celibate: Orthodox Jewish rabbi's dilemmaGay and celibate: Orthodox Jewish rabbi's dilemma: QUICK LOOK: It is not illegal to be actively homosexual in Israel, but that does not mean it is accepted -- especially within the country's religious Orthodox community. When a member... (MORE)
    5. Black legislator's coming out causes barely a rippleBlack legislator's coming out causes barely a ripple: QUICK LOOK: In the Connecticut General Assembly, where openly gay legislators have served since 1990, news that Rep. Jason W. Bartlett, D-Bethel, is gay caused barely a ripple. But... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    February 20, 2008

    The ethics reformer has an ethics problem

    Posted by: Andoni

    The New York Times broke a story this evening that calls into question John McCain's ethics:

    [T]o his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

    Is there anything to this? By itself, the story raises a lot of questions that may or may not matter. However, I see a pattern of problems for McCain. The other day, I asked if McCain had already qualified as a flip-flopper, and cited five examples of McCain hypocrisy or position reversals.

    This was the sentence that popped my eyes out most from this Times story about the Arizona senator's "close relationship" with a female lobbyist was:

    Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself.

    This was eerily reminiscent for me of the type of language that we heard from President Bill Clinton's staff in reference to Monica Lewinsky and various other "bimbo eruptions."

    For a candidate of reform trying to portray himself as having ethics above reproach, this and the five examples I cited in my previous post, can be a very big problem.

    Too late for tears

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillaryclintonsad Even before Hillary Clinton lost two more primaries last night, Mickey Kaus was suggesting she make a play for the  sympathy vote, since it proved so successful after the tears episode in New Hampshire:

    Hillary does best when Democratic voters sense she's about to get brutally knocked out of the race, as in New Hampshire. That prospect taps a well of residual sympathy for a woman who has devoted her life to politics, etc. But when Hillary is triumphant she seems arrogant and unbearable, and voters feel free to express those perceptions at the polls. …

    If she wins Wisconsin, and holds a big happy victory rally trumpeting her newfound momentum, the result will be a another surge of support for Obama.

    As things turned out, Hillary lost Wisconsin in a 17-point landslide and held a big happy victory rally anyway. Rather than acknowledge she's on the verge of losing the nomination, she once again didn't reference the reason her speech was playing on national television.

    The suggestion of humility is a very good one, made earlier by Peggy Noonan, but last night would probably have been too late. The time to do it would have been a week ago, after the Potomac Primary blowout, perhaps gaining enough groundswell to win in Maine and be more competitive in Wisconsin. Instead, Hillary stayed in denial mode.

    Why? The Clinton campaign gambit is that if she wins Ohio, Texas and Pennsylvania -- even by slim margins -- she will have the momentum and can make the case to superdelegates that the party should not nominate a candidate (Obama) who has lost the big states -- California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

    Mark Penn is already tipping their hand on this point, according to Politico's Ben Smith:

    "It would be hard to imagine a nominee from this party who didn’t win" any of a series of big states — New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Florida, Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. (I'm not sure whether he mentioned California, but obviously that's on the list.)

    Note that Penn is counting Michigan and Florida, where the primaries were disqualified, and New York, Clinton's home state. Conversely he's not including Illinois, Obama's home state, and populous states like Missouri, Virginia, Minnesota and Washington state, which Obama won. (And Georgia, a reader points out.)

    Of course should Hillary lose any of Ohio, Texas or Pennsylvania -- and Texas is already deadlocked -- then even this long-shot strategy is sunk. Would superdelegates really agree that big states are more important than small states, given how the electoral college works? Very, very unlikely.

    Immigrants are the new gays, con't

    Posted by: Chris

    Returning to a theme he's raised in private before, Barack Obama highlighted in his nationally televised speech last night in Houston how immigrants and gays have been scapegoated by politicians trying to drive a wedge in the electorate.

    Following up on previous posts (here and here) about the extent to which the leading Dems include gay issues in their speeches, Obama's address last night in Houston included this excerpt:

    I know how easy it is for politicians to turn us on each other, to use immigrants or gay people or folks who aren't like us as scapegoats for what they do. But I also know this. I know this because I have fought on the streets as an organizer, I have fought in the courts as a civil rights attorney, I have fought in the legislature, and I've won some battles, but I've also lost some, because good intentions aren't always enough. They have to be fortified by political will and political power.

    If you want to see it on video, it's in the last several minutes of Part 2 of the speech. Here are videos of both halves, which overlap by about two minutes:

    Part 1 of 2


    Part 2 of 2

    For those of you keeping track at home, Hillary Clinton did not mention gay issues in any way in her "concession" speech last night in Youngstown. Then again, she didn't mention the day's primary losses or offer Obama congratulations either.

    Which race is competitive?

    Posted by: Chris

    The phenomenon from last week's Potomac Primary repeated itself tonight in Wisconsin. Even though the GOP race is supposedly the one that's been wrapped up, Barack Obama outperformed John McCain, percentage-wise, and Hillary Clinton under-performed Mike Huckabee (and Huckabee's race was three-way):

    • Obama 58%, Clinton 41%
    • McCain 55%, Huckabee 37%, Paul 5%

    Hillary couldn't dig herself a hole any deeper at this point.

    UPDATE: Consider this shocker, the new Reuters/Zogby national poll shows Obama with a higher percentage of support than McCain has over Huckabee and the same percentage-point lead:

    • Obama 52%, Clinton 38%
    • McCain 47%, Huckabee 32%

    And on delegates, the network estimates vary but put Obama further ahead in overall delegates and way ahead on pledged delegates.

    Counting superdelegates:

    • CNN: Obama 1,301, Clinton 1,239
    • ABC: Obama 1,355, Clinton 1,261
    • CBS: Obama 1,349, Clinton 1,252
    • Associated Press: Obama 1,303, Clinton 1,233
    • Washington Post: Obama 1,423, Clinton 1,297

    Not counting superdelegates:

    • CNN: Obama 1,140, Clinton 1,005
    • NBC: Obama 1,168, Clinton 1,1018

    February 19, 2008

    Barney not squeamish about Foreman

    Posted by: Chris

    Barneyfrank1 Remember when Matt Foreman, the outgoing director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, suggested that Barney Frank backed a gay-only version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act because the openly gay Massachusetts congressman has always been "sqeamish" about transgender rights?

    Well Barney has fired back, asking to appear on Mike Signorile's Sirius radio show, the same forum as Foreman's, and the pugnacious pol pulled no punches, saying Foreman "made up the whole thing."

    I know he said he didn't know that that happened [with ENDA], that he'd bet his life –- or that he would bet his life -- on it. Frankly, I think it's a good thing he didn't bet his life or he might have lost that in addition to his job. He just made that up. That is not remotely how it happened. …

    He also has no basis for talking about my attitude on transgender people because I've had one set of conversations with Matt Foreman about transgender people.

    Instead, Barney said, Foreman was "protecting his own ass," deflecting attention from how, when he was director of Empire State Pride Agenda, Foreman endorsed Republican Gov. George Pataki's reelection in a deal to pass a gay-only civil rights law, the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act:

    "Well," responds Rep. Frank, "you like people to talk bluntly, let me talk bluntly: He's just trying to cover his ass." … Frank continued by reiterating his disappointment in Foreman's group and its endorsement of Pataki, saying "he endorsed the Republican over the African American Democrat, a very significant mistake in my judgment from the standpoint of in our coalition building."

    "The notion that I was squeamish is based on the fact that he was squeamish," Frank continued. "I don't know what he went through and it's not of any great interest to me."

    I love it when Barney gets fiesty like this, although it always reminds me of those occasions when I was the direct recipient -- usually one-on-one. I also think Barney is mostly dead-on here. Matt Foreman has talked about the SONDA story and how he regrets the strategy employed there, even though it resulted in the passage of historic gay rights legislation.

    But in doing so Foreman has sounded very much like the born again Christian or former smoker who careens from one end of the spectrum to another, from black to white (or vice-versa), never acknowledging either before or after the gray that makes reasonable people differ. In the case of ENDA, Foreman and trans activists insultingly charge that failure to adhere to their trans-or-bust view is the result of bigotry in the form of transphobia.

    It's a lazy, offensive and patronizing argument, and apparently Foreman will keep on making on the way out the door.

    GNW 5: Trans boycotts and 8-year-olds

    Posted by: Chris

    1. 'Torchwood' star says gay kiss turned on Marsters'Torchwood' star says gay kiss turned on Marsters: QUICK LOOK: Bisexual actor John Barrowman – who plays Captain Jack Harkness in the hit British TV show "Torchwood" – claims former "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star James Marsters... (MORE)
    2. Williams, Menzel urged to join trans boycott of HRCWilliams, Menzel urged to join trans boycott of HRC: QUICK LOOK: Idina Menzel and Vanessa Willliams face a very gay dilemma. Both are scheduled to appear at the Human Rights Campaign dinner Feb. 23 at the New York Hilton. The problem... (MORE)
    3. Remains linked to Edward II's reviled male loverRemains linked to Edward II's reviled male lover: QUICK LOOK: A mutilated body found at an abbey in the U.K. has been identified as that of Sir Hugh Despenser the Younger, one of the most reviled medieval courtiers and reputed gay... (MORE)
    4. Gay Africans and Arabs are coming out on blogsGay Africans and Arabsa are coming out on blogs: QUICK LOOK: When Ali started blogging that he was Sudanese and gay, he did not realize he was joining a band of African and Middle Eastern gays and lesbians who, in the face of hostility... (MORE)
    5. Colo. school accepts 8-year-old transgender girl student: QUICK LOOK: (*WARNING: anti-gay source*): He's an 8-year-old boy who wants to attend second grade here in the Douglas County Public Schools, but with an unusual stipulation: He wants to go to class as a girl... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.




    Adios, Dictator

    Posted by: Kevin

    Castrogone_2We interrupt this vibrant, democratic election for a special news bulletin from a very different world.  One of the oldest reigning tyrants on Earth is finally leaving office, one who was not - I repeat, not - a friend of freedom and equality under the law, not for anyone, including gay people.

    There have been occasional attempts by contrarians or left-wing activists to make facetious arguments that Cuba might be a better place to be gay than the United States (yeah, and the GOP is nearly perfect on gay issues, menstruation is a blessing and childbirth is painless).  But the overwhelming evidence has always shown that life under the communist regime of Fidel Castro was always miserable for gay people.

    PinkNews.co.uk - not exactly a mouthpiece for western imperialism, pronounced today as a "new day for gay Cubans":

    Prime Minister Gordon Brown said:

    "We can only hope that a new path will open up after this withdrawal and that there will be more democracy in that country."

    Sexual diversity was seen by Fidel Castro as a corrupt consequence of capitalism.

    Cuban poet Jose Mario, an important artistic figure in the country, suffered in Cuban labour camps as Castro's regime 're-educated' homosexuals.

    Gays were incarcerated in Military Units to Aid Production (UMAPs) between 1965 and 1968.

    Castro believed that hard work would rid the men of their "counter-revolutionary tendencies."

    At the entrance of the camp there was a sign which said "work shall make you men", similar to the motto of the Nazi concentration camps, "work shall set you free."

    And the basis for their reporting is from the wide evidence available, for example, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  More in-depth treatment of the horrors of gay life under communism in Cuba was captured quite dramatically in two brilliant films: Fresa y Chocolate, the 1994 drama by reknown Cuban filmmaker Tomas Gutierrez Alea; and Julian Schnabel's Oscar-nominated Before Night Falls (2000), which detailed the agonizing life of gay Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas, based on his autobiography.

    There has not been a single believable tome, study, film or book that has come out in the half-century of Castro's dictatorship that credibly challenged the fundamental evidence underlining the fact that gay life under a dictatorship like Castro's is an experience that ranges from brief spates of hedonistic, secret joy, to dull agony and generalized daily anxiety, to outright terror -- with no hope or possibility of civic redress.

    To me, the particularly cruel aspect of life under a regime which has the power and discretion to invade and control all aspects of a person's life is that it strips away what many of us (rightly) call our inherent human right to freedom, to assemble, to dissent and to redress the wrongs done to us by government.  And the story of gay life under Castro's brand of dictatorship -- one which blindly glorifies the leader out of a sick sense of loyalty above common sense -- is another case study on the inherent link between free and open democracy and the achieving of gay equality under the law and in society.

    For Latin American gays, Castro's exit comes at a particularly critical moment in the debate over how to achieve equality in the wide range of emerging countries around the region.  With full democracy still a very new concept for all the major countries like Brazil (1985), Argentina (1983), Chile (1989) and Mexico (2000), there are not the layers of active civil society institutions that a vibrant democracy depends on to ensure the voices of minorities and dispossessed have a chance to be meaningfully heard.  The rising generations who were reared in some form of open, democratic society are only now coming of age -- and there is a battle for their hearts and minds between those who value building an independent civil society and those who follow the manipulative deceits of leaders like Castro and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez.

    In Brazil, the activist class is very small, and most of them came of age during the military dictatorship.  So they naturally see Castro as a hero, since his was the only voice of dissent against their own awful existence that got through to them.  That's how awful things have been overall.  In Argentina, there is still this chip-on-the-shoulder attitude about how "los generales" bankrupted what was one of the 10 richest countries of the world at the start of the 20th Century, and the manipulative voices of populist Peronism has convinced many of them that a "free society" is one where the central government takes care of everything for you, much like Homer Simpson's winning campaign slogan as Springfield's sanitation chief, "The Garbageman Can!", which so ruined the town that it had to pack up and move.  (The result for Argentines has been similar, without the move option.) 

    Even legal advances in many Latin American countries in the legislatures, including constitutional measures on gay rights, don't translate into meaningful change like they do in a developed democracy - because without highly-developed civil society institutions, implementation throughout society doesn't happen.  Without that added layer of civic participation and pressure, it's all worth less than the paper it's written on.  Americans and Europeans tend to forget this.

    So, yes, there have been stirrings by this or that political figure in Cuba about advancing some rights for gays (on paper) very lately, but only since Fidel landed in his hospital bed.  It is indeed significant that a member of the powerful communist politburo has gone public with support for recognition of same-sex couples, as has Mariela Castro, the daughter of the likely new dictator, Raúl Castro (gotta love that dynastic quality of all  these 'progressives' everywhere!  So trusting with the public, so selfless in their actions).

    But with how awful gay life has been in Cuba, and how long it takes for freedom and equality to be realized in a struggling democracy not to mention a communist dictatorship in turmoil, we should not expect things to change overnight on that Caribbean island.  It will take a long, long time for life to really improve for everyone including gays, thanks to the vain, self-aggrandizing fist of a man who stopped at nothing to gain and then hold onto power for the mere sake of glorifying himself.

    Good riddance, Fidel Castro.  And let's give the Cuban people what they need and deserve to have real freedom, real equality and real happiness as who they are, whatever they are.


     

    Say anything, do anything

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: At the end of the post.

    If primaries, caucuses and superdelegates aren't enough, then the Clinton campaign will set its sites on pledged delegates elected by the people. After all, like presidential electors, they don't technically have to abide by their signed pledge.

    My guess is Hillary Clinton will find pledged delegates less willing to abandon their pledges than she was when she promised Iowa and New Hampshire voters that she would not support the Michigan and Florida primaries that violated primary rules.

    And one day after the Clinton camp tried to make hay out of the fact that Barack Obama has used uncredited lines by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick in his speeches, Hillary aide Howard Wolfson refused to say whether she had ever done something similar:

    In fact, Wolfson seemed to say it wouldn't be as big a deal if it were discovered that Clinton had "lifted" such language. "Senator Clinton isn't running on the strength of her rhetoric," Wolfson said.

    Say anything, do anything.

    UPDATE: The Clinton campaign (followed by Obama) rules out poaching pledged delegates. Is this pledge more or less believable than Hillary's promise to Iowa and New Hampshire voters to abide by the DNC's decision to disqualify delegates from Michigan and Florida? My guess is that it's a perfectly valid pledge, unless circumstances dictate that it be abandoned.

    Has McCain qualified as a flip-flopper?

    Posted by: Andoni

    Johnmccainhands Has John McCain reversed himself yet on enough of his "principled" long-standing positions to be considered a flip-flopper? Let's examine the record.

    1. Most recently, McCain made a U-turn on one of his fundamental issues, that the United States should not torture prisoners. As a prisoner of war himself for more than five years during the Vietnam War, McCain has the most credibility of any politician on this issue. Last week, when the Senate tried to explicitly codify the prohibition of torture by the U.S. (the U.S. is already a party to the Geneva Conventions which prohibits torture, but somehow the Bush Administration didn't understand this treaty), McCain voted against a bill that would have specifically prohibited the U.S. from using water boarding or other interrogative techniques not allowed under the Army Field Manual. Andrew Sullivan, a McCain supporter said it well when he claimed he was heartbroken over how easily McCain dumped his principles on this important issue.

    2. McCain has been a long time champion of immigration reform. In fact he and Senator Kennedy led the fight last year to pass President Bush's comprehensive immigration reform bill. In doing so, he went against a majority of his Republican Party colleagues as well as the GOP base. McCain defended himself by saying immigration reform was one of the principles he believed in very strongly. Now, however, when facing an angry Republican base during the primaries, Media Matters points out that McCain's position has changed so much that he says as president he would not sign the same immigration reform bill he sponsored last year. Media Matters labels this a flip-flop. McCain's talking points have switched from we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform to border security -- building a bigger, longer taller fence. McCain's principles and backbone on immigration seem to have evaporated in the heat of the primary battles and the pressure generated by the Republican base.

    3. When President Bush proposed his tax cut packages, Senator McCain made principled arguments that you couldn't cut taxes for the rich or during a war, and he voted against the Bush tax cuts. Now that he is running for president, he has reversed himself on this principled stance by saying he would extend the Bush tax cuts. And this past Sunday on "This Week," McCain officially pledged "no new taxes" as president. The reason McCain gives for this U turn is that we are heading into a recession, and tax cuts will be a good stimulus to help the economy. There is one problem with the contrived reasoning, however. The Bush tax cuts are set to expire at the end of 2010. It is impossible for anyone to know what the economy will be like at that time, so the arguments that it is necessary to extend the cuts to avoid a recession or that not to extend the cuts will hurt the economy if we are in a recession are bogus. No one knows what 2011 will be like, and permanent tax cuts are not how you generate a stimulus to fight a recession.

    4. Senator McCain long ago made himself a reformer when it comes to campaign financing and transparency in the financing of elections. This same senator now, however, refuses to release his own personal tax returns during the primaries. The fact that the Senator had to get personal loans to keep his campaign afloat during the the lean times of the primary season warrants a look at his personal finances to get a better idea of where the money is coming from or going to. It seems like a reasonable thing to expect that a long held position advocating transparency in financing elections should apply today as well as in the past. However, when it comes to his own situation, Senator McCain appears to be using different standards today than those he has long advocated for others in past.

    5. Finally, and most distant, but something that should have foreshadowed how elastic Senator McCain's principles could really become ... the Jerry Falwell U turn. When McCain ran for president in 2000, he courageously called Jerry Falwell one of America's "agents of intolerance." But in 2006 when McCain began running for president again, he apologized to Falwell and took it all back by telling Falwell he had "spoken in haste." Then on "Meet the Press" McCain completed his U turn by saying that Falwell is no longer an agent of intolerance.

    These five examples qualify McCain as a flip-flopper. The changes were not the result of changing circumstances or deliberate re-examination of principles and positions. They were due solely to personal political expediency.

    The flip-flopper accusation was used very effectively by George Bush in 2004 against Democratic nominee John Kerry. Since then, it's been overused and worn out. So what might be a new catchy 2008 term be that applies to Senator McCain?

    Maybe the "double talk express," the "U turn express," "forked tongue express," the "about-face express," "the retreater." Any other suggestions?

    February 18, 2008

    An alma mater behind the curve

    Posted by: Chris

    Vanderbiltseal_2 My feelings about my college alma mater, Vanderbilt University, run from love to frustration, if not hate. I had an incredible college experience, both in terms of education and figuring out who I am as a person. My initial attraction was the school's reputation as "the Harvard of the South," and I was eager to return to my native region after an abrupt family move from Memphis to Cincinnati during my junior year of high school.

    Ironically, the conservative Southern atmosphere at Vanderbilt -- don't call Vanderbilt "Vandy," you wouldn't call Harvard "Harvy" -- wound up unleashing the activist and journalist in me, and I haven't really recovered since. Even as a conservative Republican from a few hours down the highway, I was surprised my first year by the overt, lazy racism of many of these wealthy, educated students. I helped start an organization called the Racial Environment Project that lobbied for an increased number of minority students and a better racial climate on campus.

    It spilled over into my budding journalism career. Like many of my closeted "best little boys in the world," I channeled my repressed sexuality into my studies and extracurricular life. I managed to become editor of the student newspaper, the Vanderbilt Hustler (we had the name first), as a sophomore and made covering racial issues a priority.

    At the time, my commitment to a better relations between white and black students seemed purely intellectual, but several liberal professors aware of my politics (and religious background) asked me a number of times whether there might be some other motivation. They were as clueless as I was about the connection I see as clear as day today. Even though I was struggling with my sexuality at the time, I identified with the way black students often felt alienated by the macho Southern culture of the campus.

    The closest I came to doing anything about my sexual orientation -- I never acted on it -- was to ask one of those liberal professors for help. I was so nervous -- this was 1986 -- I only got as far as saying I had a problem with girls. "Look," he said in response. "I can see you're really struggling with something, so let me give you the name of someone to talk to. He's a counselor and a great guy; he would have been a priest but he quit the seminary because of all the gays there." Gee, thanks…

    Gay life was completely nonexistent, at least on the surface. The year after I graduated, a group formed and advertised in the Hustler classifieds, but to attend a meeting you had to send a letter to a P.O. Box to learn the location and times. Things were that bad.

    I was president of the Racial Environment Project my senior, and someone suggested at a meeting that we extend our mission to include gay issues. Panicked, I pointed out that the group's name and mission were limited to racial issues, and I changed the subject as quickly as possible. I still feel a twinge of guilt thinking back about that moment.

    If all this seems a bit prehistoric, even for the 1980s, it was. Vanderbilt has always been behind the curve on social progress. It was only in my junior year, after a huge campus debate, that a traditionally white sorority inducted a black girl for the first time. The Princeton Review has consistently ranked Vanderbilt as among the most homophobic schools in the country.

    All of this is background for the debate at Vanderbilt now about whether to add "gender identity" to the university's nondiscrimination policy. I'm not sure exactly when "sexual orientation" was added, but I believe it was well into the '90s. I remember the objection of the school's administration was that "sexual orientation" was too ill-defined and could include a whole range of sexual fetishes.

    A first year law student could answer that concern by simply defining "sexual orientation" to include "heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual," but no matter. It was too much for the school's Board of Trustees to swallow.

    Now the issue is transgender, and you can imagine the uphill battle facing the proposal. Of course adding transgender protections raises a different set of issues, and they have defined gender identity in a broad way, to include "anyone who does not conform to stereotypical gender norms." But the debate ultimately isn't a substantive one, it's merely a matter of pulling (not pushing) Vanderbilt into the 21st century.

    Or, as the first female president of the school's alumni association once said to me about the Board of Trustees, "It usually takes a few good funerals for progress to come to Vanderbilt."

    February 16, 2008

    'Dr.' Barack Obama

    Posted by: Andoni

    Breitbart.tv has assembled a series of video clips showing people fainting during Barack Obama rallies. The interesting thing to me as a physician is how Obama responds to these "mini-emergencies" that occur in the middle of his speech. Take a look:

    What I noticed is:

    1. he remains calm
    2. he takes command
    3. he shouts out orders and directions that are by and large medically sound
    4. and finally he seems genuinely concerned about the person who fell or fainted

    As a doctor, I can't tell you how often I've experienced people panicking and doing entirely inappropriate things when someone has a problem in a crowd. Considering these are unscripted moments, I believe these moments give us a genuine glimpse at Obama -- how he can think on his feet, remain calm and handle a situation. I like what I see.

    If I were the official medical consultant to the campaign (hint, hint), I might take a few minutes to train Barack (since people seem to be fainting all around him) to also add:

    1. lie the patient down
    2. raise the patient's legs a bit
    3. give water very carefully, lest the patient aspirate
    4. someone dial 911

    Then again, maybe this is a bit much for a non-physician. I certainly don't want to invite any malpractice suits Obama's way.

    GNW 5: Criminal 'ex-gay' therapy

    Posted by: Chris

    1. Minister guilty of sex assault of young man in gay 'therapy': QUICK LOOK: A Winnepeg minister and former Christian college instructor has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a young man who sought counseling after he feared he was homosexual. A jury returned with the... (MORE)
    2. D.C. Methodist church under fire for gay services planD.C. Methodist church under fire for gay services plan: QUICK LOOK: A conservative Christian group yesterday criticized a large Methodist church in the District for planning to offer services that recognize gay and lesbian relationships,... (MORE)
    3. Logo greenlights feature film version of 'Noah's Arc'Logo greenlights feature film version of 'Noah's Arc': QUICK LOOK: Logo yesterday greenlighted a feature film based on the channel's popular series "Noah's Arc." "Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom" will revolve around four black gay friends... (MORE)
    4. Md. gay marriage advocates pin hopes on a bishopMd. gay marriage advocates pin hopes on a bishop: QUICK LOOK: Rev. C. Anthony Muse is at the center of a religious-cultural debate on the meaning of marriage in Maryland. As an evangelical bishop and head of the Ark of Safety Christian... (MORE)
    5. First statewide official in Md. to back gay marriageFirst statewide official in Md. to back gay marriage: QUICK LOOK: Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has become the most prominent official in Maryland to endorse gay marriage, telling state legislators Thursday that he believes the... (MORE)

    Gnw_lighthouse_logo_3 These are the Top 5 popular stories on Gay News Watch over the last 24 hours. You can also view the most popular stories of the last week or month, as well as the biggest stories of the last 24 hours, week or month.

    Forget Obama's I.O.U. to Jackson

    Posted by: Chris

    Remember Andoni's post about how Barack Obama owes a debt to Jesse Jackson for his growing delegate lead since it was Jackson who pressured the party into a proportional selection system rather than winner-take-all?

    Well after Obama's unanswered string of eight primary victories -- which could extend to 10 after Wisconsin and Hawaii vote on Tuesday -- even a winner-take-all system would have put Obama in the lead over Hillary Clinton at this point. Talking Points Memo tallied the would-be numbers this way:

    • Obama 1,096, Clinton 1,075

    Still, TPM offered an important caveat:

    A WTA rule would have vastly changed the common spin on the race after Super Tuesday, which in the real world was regarded as a narrow Obama victory. With the same states going to the same candidates, the pledged delegate score after Super Tuesday would have been 1,075 for Hillary against only 743 for Obama, … whereas Obama had won about two dozen more delegates at that point under the proportional system.

    If Hillary had benefited from the momentum of a 300-delegate margin on Super Tuesday, it's likely that Obama's winning streak since would have played out differently.

    And while I'm updating Andoni's posts, a couple of things about whether John Lewis actually switched his superdelegate vote from Clinton to Obama.

    First off, the New York Times reporter who broke the story saying Lewis had switched is standing by what he wrote, saying that Lewis was unequivocal even though the story includes no direct quote on the point. Second, the conflicting statements from Lewis, the Times and Lewis' spokesperson can be reconciled if in fact Lewis is sticking with his endorsement of Clinton, but making clear that if it comes down to a vote of superdelegates, he'll follow the will of his congressional district -- which backed Obama over Clinton by more than two to one.

    February 15, 2008

    'Not accurate' doesn't mean 'not true'

    Posted by: Andoni

    The headline in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution this afternoon read:  "Rep. Lewis: Report of delegate switch to Obama 'not accurate'"

    So what's going on here? Based simply on politics and not inside information, I'd point out that "not accurate" does not mean something is "not true." It means only that something in the story is not correct or  the story is not 100% correct. For instance, if someone said that I robbed a bank with a gun and got away with $10,000 driving off in a black Pontiac, this story could be labeled "not accurate" if I had robbed a bank with a gun getting away with $8,000 driving off in a black Pontiac.

    Politicians use this all the time to wiggle. I'm not pleased to see one of my heroes John Lewis resort to this type of wiggle talk, but here's what I think happened:

    1. It's possible that Congressman Lewis was in the process of switching to Senator Obama from Senator Clinton and word got out before he had a chance to tell the Clintons. Opps, not good. This would be embarrassing and result in the back peddling we see today. However, it would be odd (if possible) for something like this to happen to a politician with Lewis' experience. Things leak and the New York Times is a good paper with lots of sources, and they could have gone to Lewis with the evidence of his imminent switch already in hand.
    2. It's possible Lewis did make this decision to switch, but hadn't let the Obama people know. Once the Obama people heard about it and the possible stampede of many other black congressmen, they got worried. They certainly want superdelegates, but the publicity surrounding black Congressmen, if not the entire Congressional Black Caucus, coming on board en masse would raise the race thing again, just as it had been put to bed. So it's possible the Obama people put the brakes on this at this time.

      They don't want white voters retreating back to Clinton. Internally, it would be beneficial for the Obama people know that they were picking up these superdelegate votes, but I'm sure they would want to control the timing and the numbers. If they had their druthers, they would rather that several white superdelegates, preferably women, switch now.

      Save the Congressional Black Caucus for later in the game, as long as they know that these people are now on their side while they are in holding pattern to announce.

    I don't know what actually happened, but the fact that Lewis' press release today did not call the Times article "false" or "totally inaccurate" to me means one of the above possibilities is likely.

    Anyone else have a thought on this?

    Closing the gap in Texas

    Posted by: Chris

    The polls are all over the place but they do suggest that Barack Obama is already succeeding in closing the gap on Hillary Clinton in the crucial battleground of Texas, as he has done in so many other states.

    Among the surveys:

    Andrew Sullivan notes another surprising data point from the ARG poll: Clinton only leads Obama by 2 percentage points among Latinos.

    Considering the unique Texas primary-caucus delegate system is weighted in favor of African American districts -- because they voted in greater numbers than Latino districts in the last congressional elections -- Obama's position looks very strong.



    Good advice she won't take

    Posted by: Chris

    Hillarymike Conservatives love to give Hillary Clinton advice, even though they can't stand her. But Peggy Noonan had a suggestion today for the flailing former frontrunner that, unfortunately for Hillary, she'd never take:

    She has taken to raising boxing gloves and waving them triumphantly from the podium. Is this a fruitful way to go? It's her way, bluster and combat. … But imagine if she tried honesty and humility. When everyone in America knows you're in a dreadful position, admit you're in a dreadful position. Don't lie about it and make them roll their eyes, tell the truth and make them blink.

    As in: "Look, let's be frank. A lot of politics is spin, for reasons we can all write books about. I'm as guilty as anyone else. But right now I'm in the fight of my life, and right now I'm not winning. I'm up against an opponent who's classy and accomplished and who has captured the public imagination. I've had some trouble doing that. I'm not one of those people you think of when you hear a phrase like 'the romance of history.' But I think I bring some things to the table that I haven't quite managed to explain. I think I've got a case to be made that I haven't quite succeeded in making. And I'm going to ask you for one more try. Will you listen? And if I convince you, will you help me? Because I need your help."

    Noonan goes farther even than Hillary needs to.  I think this would be enough:

    "Look, let's be frank. A lot of politics is spin, for reasons we can all write books about. I'm as guilty as anyone else. But right now I'm in the fight of my life. I'm up against an opponent who's classy and articulate and who has captured the public imagination. I'm not the kind of person to give a speech that will stop the show. But I bring some things to the table that I think are even more important. I've got a case to be made, and I ask you to hear me out. Will you listen? And if I convince you, will you help me? Because I need your help."

    We've already seen how voters -- especially white women -- rally to Hillary's side when she shows humility and appears sympathetic. No tears are necessary, and would most likely backfire. But imagine how different that rally in Texas on Tuesday night, when Clinton completely ignored her Potomac Primary thumping, would have been if she had taken it down a notch.

    Instead of sounding shrill and a bit Howard Dean whoopish, Hillary could have reached out in a more personal way. Maybe that wasn't the occasion, since the crowd was so huge, but Noonan's idea is a very good one.

    John Lewis switches to Obama

    Posted by: Andoni

    Obamalewis Civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.), who had endorsed Hillary Clinton last fall and is a superdelegate told the New York Times:

    I’ve been very impressed with the campaign of Senator Obama. He’s getting better and better every single day.

    And with that the Atlanta congressman said he was going to vote for Obama as a superdelegate at the Democratic convention in Denver. Lewis' congressional district voted for Obama over Clinton 3 to 1. Lewis said he still had high regard for Hillary Clinton and had not yet decided whether to formally withdraw his endorsement of Senator Clinton and give it to Senator Obama.

    My opinion is that the damage is already done. It doesn't matter matter whether he formally withdraws his Clinton endorsement and gives it to Obama. The message has been sent, and everyone knows where he stands.

    Also today, Christine "Roz" Samuels, a superdelegate from New Jersey  switched from Clinton to Obama. This is in addition to Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.) who switched from Clinton to Obama. Two other superdelegates withdrew their endorsement of Senator Clinton today, but decided to remain neutral for the time being.

    This is the movement I predicted in my post the other day stating that if Obama won Virginia and Maryland big and started eating into Clinton's demographics (which he did), we would start seeing an erosion of Clinton support and a switch to Obama. Watch for more defections over the next few days. And if Obama wins Wisconsin, the trickle will turn into a steady stream.

    I don't think Obama has this won yet, but if he keeps on winning, the delegate numbers will take care of themselves as superdelegates decide to get behind a winner, and we avoid a floor fight at the convention.

    February 14, 2008

    Buying off superdelegates

    Posted by: Chris

    As highly as I regard Barack Obama, this stinks to high heaven:

    Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton have been putting on a charm offensive of phone calls and personal visits to woo the undecideds among superdelegates, the 796 elected Democrats and party leaders whose votes may eventually determine the party’s nominee.

    Beyond that, both senators, through their political action committees, have already given some of the elected officials among the superdelegates a considerable sum in campaign contributions. Superdelegates have received more than $890,000 in campaign contributions from Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton in the last three years, according to Capital Eye, a newsletter published by the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that analyzes campaign finance data.

    Mr. Obama’s political action committee, Hope Fund, has given more than $694,000 in contributions to superdelegates since 2005, the article said. And of the 81 elected officials who have committed their superdelegate votes to Mr. Obama, 34 received contributions from him in the past.

    Mrs. Clinton’s political action committee, Hillpac, has given $195,000 to superdelegates. Of the 109 superdelegates who have promised her their support, only 13 received contributions from her.

    Every campaign has its unsavory aspects, and I expect it of the Clintons. But not Obama, and especially to that extent.

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