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    September 30, 2008

    The Week on GNW (Sept. 21-28)

    Posted by: Chris

    Here are the five biggest stories from Gay News Watch over the last week:

    1. GLAAD study shows more GLBT TV characters in U.S.GLAAD study shows more GLBT characters on TV in U.S.: QUICK LOOK: Broadcast television will have 16 gay and bisexual regular characters in prime-time series this fall, more than double the seven of a year ago, a new study has found... (MORE)
    2. Bosnia gay festival closes after hooded men attackBosnia gay festival closes after hooded men attack: QUICK LOOK: Bosnia's first gay festival will close early after hooded men, some shouting Islamic slogans, attacked visitors on its opening night, injuring eight people, organisers... (MORE)
    3. Straight model sues gay mag for 'vulgar' photo shootStraight model sues gay mag for 'vulgar' photo shoot: QUICK LOOK: Genre magazine is being sued by straight model, aspiring actor, University of Central Florida student Benjamin Massing, who was featured in the magazine's March/April... (MORE)
    4. Calif. gay marriage ballot measure not wooing votersCalif. gay marriage ballot measure not wooing voters: QUICK LOOK: Opponents of a ban on same-sex marriage have the upper hand in a new poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment to ban... (MORE)
    5. SMU b'ball player says coach challenged her sex lifeSMU b'ball player says coach challenged her sex life: QUICK LOOK: Playing college basketball is like working at a job, Jennifer Colli says. Her sexual orientation and who she's sleeping with, even if it's a teammate, are her business,... (MORE)

    And here are a few of the most popular from the last week:

    • Gay rape serial killer sentenced to life without paroleGay rape serial killer sentenced to life without parole: QUICK LOOK: A man who raped and murdered eight young men over a 10-year period has been sentenced to eight consecutive life sentences in Louisiana. Police said Ronald Dominique lured... (MORE)
    • Simon Cowell on Aiken outing: 'Wow that's a shock'Simon Cowell on Aiken outing: 'Wow that's a shock': QUICK LOOK: "Extra" caught up with "American Idol's" Simon Cowell, who when told Clay Aiken had come out to People magazine, jokingly responded, "Wow, that's a shock. It's like being... (MORE)
    • Friars sack Boston lay leader over gay erotic memoirFriars sack Boston lay leader over gay erotic memoir: QUICK LOOK: St. Anthony Shrine has removed a gay Boston man from several lay leadership posts after he wrote a memoir that called attention to his dual roles as an author of gay... (MORE)
    • U.K. actress says gay news caused mother's strokeU.K. actress says gay news caused mother's stroke: QUICK LOOK: The British character actress Miriam Margolyes has disclosed that confessing to her mother she was lesbian led to her having a severe stroke from which she never fully... (MORE)
    • Clay Aiken coming out turns off some Claymate fansClay Aiken coming out turns off some Claymate fans: QUICK LOOK: The reactions range from confusion to disbelief to disappointment. But the vast majority of Clay Aiken's hardcore fans -- Claymates they're called -- support his recent... (MORE)


    These were the five stories on Gay News Watch with the biggest buzz over the last seven days, along with some of the most popular stories from the last week. You can also view the stories with the biggest buzz factor from the last month or year, and the most popular from the last month or year.

    September 29, 2008

    The view from the American heartland

    Posted by: Kevin

    NocontinuedThe mega-bailout bill went down in flames.

    I say: "Hear, hear!"

    Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), sensing the shifting polls in Congressional districts across the country against incumbent Democrats, even in safe districts, as angry phone calls and emails roll into Capitol Hill against the bailout, took to the well and blamed the GOP for the crisis just before the vote.

    She did this knowing that she was going to lose almost 100 of her own Democrats in this vote, and would need Republicans to pass it.

    She lost 12 votes in seconds.  The bill failed.

    Approval ratings for the Democratic Congress are about as low as those for the Bush White House.  And as the country learns more about the bumbling incompetence and failure to act by the Congress and a succession of Administrations to stop this crisis from arriving, more and more of us are loudly asking -- why are we being forced to pay for this?

    There are many leaders, many of whom I respect, who are raising all sorts of alarm bells about catastrophe.  Some came up with fairly simplistic explanations about where we stand in terms of the evaporation of credit that may or may not be underway right now.  But in the end, nobody -- nobody -- has made a convincing case that passing this gigantic bill will lead to prosperity and shiny tomorrows.  No one has articulated how we will avoid a Japanese style deflation as a result of endless rescues of worthless asset sheets (and nobody on either side of this debate believes that this bill would be a one-time thing).  And that is why the votes are not there from either party to pass this bill.

    What's more, these leaders don't seem to understand that the taxpayers believe we are already in a recession.  We already are feeling the pain.  It can't get much worse for a lot of people -- except, they argue, if we blindly endorse this massive turkey of a bill and the country goes into the very recession we're all expecting anyway, but with next to no fiscal room to reinvest and recover because of a $700 billion charge sitting on the nation's Visa card, secured literally by the lowest valued junk assets in the country.

    The Democratic leadership is now carrying on at a post-mortem press conference about how they are putting the country first, venting their own hurt feelings over the Republicans' hurt feelings (and the markets slid over 100 points more as they spoke).  You wonder why the country is sick of Washington, and finds itself with an entire government packed with self-interested, panicked idiots who had years to stop this crisis from coming and yet even at this critical moment, still trim all of their thoughts and motives and energies to partisan, self-aggrandizing ends.  Like a pack of wild-eyed derivative traders operating with no rules.

    Frankly, they can all go to hell.  And I'm sensing that the country agrees.

    And should that opinion now dominate this debate, Barney Frank will have no room left.  He'll just have to blame the country.

    (And the market recovered 200 points after they stopped talking...)

    [UPDATE: 4:15pm -- Now a McCain adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin is literally saying Pelosi gave that speech to purposefully to defeat the bill, blame the Republicans and deny McCain a "victory" for delivering the Republicans.  Obama, meanwhile, is apparently gearing up to come back to Washington to force passage of the bill (e.g. suspend his campaign?), and Obama surrogate Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa is saying the bill failed because McCain failed to deliver 100 Republican votes (about as many Democrats as the leadership lost).  This is a bottomless pit now.  Let the markets tank tomorrow and the next day.  Let the utter lack of confidence in all of these people honestly show its face and wash over them.  I can only hope the same happens on Election Day.  If only there was a positive outlet for this anger, but alas.  There probably won't be.]

    [UPDATE #2: 4:45pm -- Paulson just read a statement in the WH driveway.  It seems that he is ready to abandon the bill and start over.  (*stifles a loud cheer*) Let's hope this golden turkey of a bailout is truly dead, and we see something emerge from the ashes that makes sense.  Let's hope it comes either from Obama or McCain, or from the dissident factions in the House -- and that it gives the nation something to get behind instead of something to stab each other with.  Not holding my breath.]

    [UPDATE #3: 5:15pm -- McCain just spoke, and said little.]

    [UPDATE #4: 5:30pm -- Just saw a sound bite of Obama on the stump calling on Democrats and Republicans to get back to work to pass something that will at least deal with immediate concerns.  For once in over week he didn't regurgitate the Congressional talking points.  There are also reported murmurs that Obama actually didn't do enough to back the bill... perhaps because he didn't want to get too close to it.  Is there a reason to hope here?  If Obama sweeps in now with a rational short-term strategy (not something warmed over from that tired Cooper Union speech), puts the childish partisanship of the Congress to one side, and speaks directly and convincingly to the country, he could gain tremendous traction at this crucial moment.  It could only become political paydirt if the Democrats in Washington manage to keep their big mouths shut and fall in line.  He could choose to throw the Congressional leadership under the bus and demand his own plan be put into place, and chide them for their failure.  Boy would that be a game changer.  Bush failed early.  McCain had his chance and didn't deliver. Pelosi and the Congressional Democrats are now face down in the gravel.  Obama has a huge opportunity to change course and capture the moment.  Again, no breath being held.]

    September 28, 2008

    The view from Europe

    Posted by: Andoni


    I’ve been on a Greek island (Santorini) for almost 2 weeks now and have not been keeping up with the day to day news in America. All I have to go on is what I hear here in Europe. So I thought I’d convey to you what they’re saying in the Greek tavernas about us.

    First there was quite a bit of gloating over the fact that America, the country that has spent the past 50+ years telling every other country how to run their financial affairs, appears now to be in deep financial doo-doo itself.

    However, after a few days of glee, most people realized that all our financial futures are intricately tied together, so then the talk got much more serious.

    The locals' first question for me was, "Why is Bush still in power?" They thought that the elections of 2006 were a referendum on his government and he lost. How did he survive that? Now that there is a clear financial catastrophe tied to Bush’s government, and they are even more adamant is asking why his government hasn’t fallen. They are used a parliamentary system where the elections of 2006 would have changed governments --- and if that didn’t quite do it, the current financial crisis would have triggered a no confidence vote, with a new government taking over within days.

    I tried to explain that our head of government and his team stay in power for 4 years no matter what (well almost no matter what – think Nixon), but they don’t get it.

    Putting aside their fuzziness on how our government works, they are now worried that we may not make it out of our mess. They seem to have a different (and maybe more insightful) understanding our financial situation than we do. They explained to me that we have three, not one, trillion dollar time bombs about to explode our economy.

    The first is the cost of the Iraq War, which they assure me will cost a trillion dollars by the time we are out of there. They claim this is unpaid for, off budget, and we will have to pay it back. I can’t argue against them because I honestly don’t know how much of the Iraq War we have paid for and how much of it is borrowed, and not paid for yet. But I am impressed that the ordinary person here seems to know this (or think they know this) better than the average guy in the street in our country.

    The second trillion dollar time bomb is the amount of money that it is going to take to re-arm and rebuild our military. They seem to know we are stretched way to thin and that our personnel and equipment have been severely depleted. We will have to rebuild and that will cost big bucks. When I ask them how they know this they say they know because the US is actively strong-arming European nations to send money and troops to both Afghanistan and Iraq because the US doesn’t have the resources to send more.

    Finally, now there is the near trillion dollar bailout for the current financial mess.

    The Europeans know that 3 trillion dollars is one hell of a lot of debt to incur in such a short time. It would sink most nations and they are not so sure that even the US can dig itself out of such a deep hole without permanent harm.

    I don’t know exactly what the US press is reporting, but the Europeans see how deep in doo-doo we really are and are worrying for us now, and for themselves because they now realize that we are all tied together and they can go down with our ship too.

    Finally, they get around to asking me how is it that America elected this guy in the first place and why is it again that he still is in office?

    September 27, 2008

    Bailout Mess: And you wonder why I'm not a Democrat...

    Posted by: Kevin

    Barneyfrank As soon as I turned on the television and saw the live news conference on Thursday, I could tell what was happening.  Barney was talking, and it was classic Barney.

    We all know that the White House is getting solidly behind their man -- Henry Paulson -- in pushing the mega-bailout as the solution to the current crisis.  It's also not surprising that the Senate Republicans would fall in line behind something gigantic and incomprehensible in times of panic.  And when John McCain had announced he was suspending his campaign to go to Washington to get into the middle of the push and pull over the crisis, the Democrats understood that they were not going to have their way in a walk - they would be matched stunt for stunt.

    And when I heard Barney Frank dismissively joking about the coming White House meeting being unnecessary, that it was all solved, and perhaps the bill would be passed in moments, I smelled a rat.  It's from knowing Barney for many years.  And the fact that Barney, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Barack Obama all spoke off the same talking points for the next 24 hours simply confirmed it.

    The "deal" was a stunt, no less than, perhaps, McCain's return to the Capitol.  McCain was simply being outflanked by a gang of guys who cheerleaded subprime mortgages in the 1990s and took buckets of money from the very companies that are crashing the system today.  And a hapless Obama grimaced and chewed on ice cubes in frustration because yet again, his biblical narrative was being interrupted by reality.  He looked small in the midst of it, out of his league.  (In the debate last night, he defended the bailout and spoke against a spending freeze ... because he wants "to fund early childhood education"?  Huh??)

    The New York Times today tells the real story of what was going on among House members in those critical hours, and now it's widely known that in the rush to jam the mega-bailout through to approval, Americans have been swamping Congressional offices with angry calls in opposition to it.  And now that press conference on Thursday shines through as a classic Barney Frank stunt.  Now, I'm not saying stunts aren't part of the whole game, here.  Nor am I disparaging Barney.  It would be like smacking a dog because he barked - he's a politician.  But this whole week in Washington draws the bright line between the Democrats, the now-comatose White House and what's left of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill.

    And you wonder why I'm not a Democrat.  You wonder why I won't overlook everything that happened this week and vote for Democrats because of some stupid hate crimes bill or what have you.  And I guess my utter disgust at what the Democrats (and plenty of brain-dead Republicans) did this week on the financial crisis is just rooted in me being self-loathing or whatever.  Yeah, right. 

    I won't overlook Trent Lott-style gay-bashing any more than I can overlook the unbelievably hypocritical, self-serving and reprehensible way the Democrats (and some incompetent Republicans) have been handling this entire issue since the 1990s.

    And you wonder why I'm undecided in this race.

    September 26, 2008

    Live-blogging the presidential debate

    Posted by: Chris

    Artsenatorspool After a relatively quiet week here on the blog, I'm going to live-blog the first presidential debate in Oxford, Miss. I'll be adding a bit of armchair commentary from Steve Koval, my former co-blogger at the Washington Blade, who is visiting Rio along with his husband Manapat.

    As the candidates are introduced, Mr. Koval notes that John McCain looks particularly old alongside Barack Obama.

    9:05 p.m.: On the Wall Street bailout, of course, and surprisingly it is Obama who is more detailed while McCain immerses himself on inside-the-Beltway talk about House Republicans. Staying vague won't cut it for either of them, in my view. Obama was also effective pointing the finger at the Bush administration and Republicans like McCain for the role deregulation played in getting us into this mess.

    9:11 p.m.: Both avoid saying how they'll vote on the package but McCain is more evasive, switching the subject to a story about Eisenhower. Huh?

    [We could do without Jim Lehrer's gimmicky attempt to get the candidates to talk directly to each other. He already stepped all over Obama's attempt to call McCain out for saying "the fundamentals of the economy are strong."]

    9:14 p.m.: McCain hits Obama on earmarks, but cites as an example the study of bear DNA in Montana, even though my friend Koval says that Sarah Palin pushed for a similar earmark for Alaska. Obama does a good job of putting earmarks into perspective, but McCain presses on.

    [Lehrer won't give up on getting the candidates to talk directly to each other. What's up with that?]

    McCain suggest an effective argument on business taxes, rather effectively rebutted by Obama. Why doesn't Obama jump on McCain's definition of "rich"?

    9:26 p.m.: Obama ducks a question about what government won't be able to do in order to pay for the $700 billion bailout. Fiscal conservatism is a weakness of his, to be sure.

    McCain ducks as well, hitting Obama on his "liberal" voting record. Surely that dog no longer hunts. I guess we'll see.

    Artdebatewidegi 9:32 p.m.: McCain pushes a spending freeze, which is a political lead balloon. Not surprisingly, Obama isn't going for it. McCain's old saw about cutting foreign spending is a winner among xenophobic Republicans, but is a prime example of why I no longer recognize my former party.

    9:38 p.m.: Finally a direct blow from Obama to McCain on Bush and the Republican control of Congress and voting with Bush on budgets, etc. Long overdue. McCain's response is weak: "maverick" and not "Miss Congeniality." That's the best he's got?

    9:40 p.m.: Switching to foreign policy, McCain's lesson from Iraq is "don't have failed strategies"? Nothing about the dangers of pre-emptive action? Nothing?

    Obama's response is much more direct: We should never have fought this war, and took our eye off the ball in Afganistan.

    Wow, McCain actually scares me when he says, "The next president of the United States won't have to decide whether we should have invaded Iraq." Those who don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. By contrast, Obama hits McCain square between the eyes on his failed judgment on Iraq. In response, McCain is patronizing and then ducks every point that Obama raised.

    9:50 p.m.: Afghanistan: Obama becomes a bit bogged down but makes the central point about how the war in Iraq has siphoned away the forces in Afghanistan actually fighting the Taliban and Al Qaeda. McCain repeats his belief that the Iraqi surge strategy will work in Afghanistan as well, making a big deal about Obama should never had said "out loud" that he was willing to strike inside Pakistan's borders.

    9:57 p.m.: Again McCain is patronizing toward Obama: "I don't think Senator Obama understands that Pakistan was a failed state" when Musharraf took power. McCain's story about wearing a soldier's bracelet is particularly telling: So if our troops die in war, we are committed to fighting and fighting, no matter whether the war is just and winable, simply because we have already lost troops.

    I love Obama's counter, which says that American troops never die in vain, regardless of whether America pulls out of a conflict.

    How on earth can McCain keep hitting on Obama for not having traveled as much to the region when McCain selected a running mate who only got a passport last year!

    10:03 p.m.: McCain suggests a League of Democracies, but does he stop for a second to imagine what a democratically elected government of Iran would look like? Does he think it would be appreciably friendlier toward Israel or the U.S.? What happened, after all, when the Palestinians held elections -- we got Hamas, a terrorist organization, as the official government entity.

    10:09 p.m.: Obama hits McCain squarely on how Henry Kissinger and four other former secretaries of state agree that the U.S. president should sit down with our enemies without preconditions. Surely Americans are tired after eight years of failed isolationism as a strategy for countering Iran, Cuba, North Korea and the like.

    I love the line about the prime minister of Spain from Obama, and McCain's inside-baseball line about not yet having a seal won't fly. Again he patronizing with "what Senator Obama doesn't seem to understand..." I fundamentally don't get why it "legitimizes" the outrageous rhetoric of Iranian president by sitting down with him.

    10:15 p.m.: The question is Russia, but my general reaction is being very impressed with Obama's command of these foreign policy questions. At the very minimum, he is competing with McCain as equals on this debate stage -- and given the difference in experience levels between the two, that's a big victory.

    McCain's repetitive patronization of Obama really works my nerves and judging by CNN's "audience reaction" graph, I'm not alone.

    10:30: p.m.: Obama's rhetoric about restoring America's standing in the world is optimistic and forward-looking, even as it criticizes the direction of the last eight years. In response, McCain is once again patronizing about what Obama "doesn't understand."

    Clearly this was a debate strategy by the McCain camp to portray Obama as a naive rookie, over his head on foreign policy issues. Given Obama's command of the issues, not to mention his foreign tour this summer, that won't fly. And it can't help but raise questions about McCain's own veep pick.

    10:34 p.m.: McCain makes his broader case against Obama, that he's inexperienced and naive. So that's where he's going. And of course it rings incredibly hollow given Sarah Palin.

    My partisan pal Koval says McCain did better than he expected, while my reaction was that Obama did better than I expected. My conclusion draws not just to my own preferences (thanks for the comment, Kevin) but also because Obama seemed at least an equal on foreign policy with McCain -- which was his critical objective.

    Also, McCain's patronizing attitude toward Obama reminded me of every know-it-all elder who suggested those of my generation don't know what we are talking about despite all their very clear failures on the very issues they're talking about.

    September 25, 2008

    Fuck the markets.

    Posted by: Kevin

    NoIn this entire drama unfolding in the past few weeks, it has been a titanic battle over finding someone to blame.  In Washington, it's the other party, or the other branch of government.  On the campaign trail, it's the other guy.  Or his running mate.  In the now-worthless McMansions in dour ex-burbs, soon to be unemployed 35 year olds with six-digit personal debt sit sobbing on their ten thousand dollar couches and blame the government.  At the banks, they blame the other banks for buying the packaged garbage debt they themselves sold them.  And on Wall Street, a lot of shrugging as they hold a gun against our 401(k) funds and say, "Give us 700 big ones or we'll shoot!"

    In reality, it's all their faults.  And it's time they all were forced to live with the consequences of their immense personal failures.  I'm thoroughly disgusted with all of them.  And I know I'm not alone. 

    I'm not willing to fall for Wall Street's angry blackmail.  I'm not willing to cheer this as a "game-changer of the week" for either candidate.  I won't congratulate the Senate and House leaders who stood around with their thumbs up their asses for all these years as they fall all over themselves now, clawing for the cameras and trying to race this bailout monster through without any of us having a chance to read it and understand it.  I certainly don't trust the White House, the Treasury, the Congress or some new bullshit series of agencies that they will appoint themselves to run in order to fix the system that they all allowed to fall apart in the first place.

    I agree with the train of thought that if anything, we have to hold those 700 billion dollars in abeyance because the government is going to need the lot of it in the coming years, for far more productive ends than pumping more cash into this mess.  We'll need to find where the real supply and demand exists in this giant fantasy economy, where the real value and real assets lie, and get behind them in any recovery from the inevitable recession that is coming (and cannot be avoided, even with this humongous credit card charge Washington wants us to sign).  When Eastern Europe fell out of the fantasy economies of Communism in 1989, the United States urged "shock treatment" to bring them around to reality and opt for worse pain for less time, rather than a long, dull pain.  Now it's our turn.

    This bailout is literally the equivalent of putting the balance of your mortgage onto your American Express card to save your house.  The only way to force real reform on this broken system is to burn the house down and throw the bum out onto the street.

    COUNTERPOINT: The Economist disagrees.

    Samfinal1_2 SAVING the world is a thankless task. The only thing beyond dispute in the $700 billion plan of Hank Paulson, the treasury secretary, and Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, to stem the financial crisis is that everyone can find something in it to dislike. The left accuses it of ripping off taxpayers to save Wall Street, the right damns it as socialism; economists disparage its technicalities, political scientists its sweeping powers. The administration gave ground to Congress, George Bush delivered a televised appeal and Barack Obama and John McCain suspended the presidential campaign. Even so, as The Economist went to press, the differences remained. There was a chance that Congress would say no.

    Spending a sum of money that could buy you a war in Iraq should not come easily; and the notion of any bail-out is deeply troubling to any self-respecting capitalist. Against that stand two overriding arguments. First this is a plan that could work. And, second, the potential costs of producing nothing, or too little too slowly, include a financial collapse and a deep recession spilling across the world: those far outweigh any plausible estimate of the bail-out’s cost.

    Steve Pearlstein in the Washington Post has a "gut check":

    You're angry. I'm angry. House Republicans are angry. We're all angry at having to put up huge amounts of cash to rescue a financial system because a lot of very rich people rolled the dice with other people's money and lost.

    Now let me tell you something very simple and very important: You can try to prevent a financial meltdown or you can teach Wall Street a lesson, but you can't do both at the same time.

    So which will it be?

    September 21, 2008

    The Week on GNW

    Posted by: Chris

    Here are the five biggest stories from Gay News Watch over the last week:

    1. Third-party presidential hopefuls vie for gay supportThird-party presidential hopefuls vie for gay support: QUICK LOOK: As Barack Obama and John McCain rev up their campaigning and attacks on one another in the closing weeks of the presidential race, several other White House hopefuls... (MORE)
    2. Gay ex-rep Mark Foley said not to face sex chargesGay ex-rep Mark Foley said not to face sex charges: QUICK LOOK: Former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley isn't expected to face charges after a lengthy investigation into his lurid messages to underage congressional pages, two federal law enforcement... (MORE)
    3. Obama won't repeal 'Don't Ask Don't Tell' on his ownObama won't repeal 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' on his own: QUICK LOOK: In an interview appearing today in several gay newspapers, Democrat Barack Obama said he would not use a "signing statement" to unilaterally repeal "Don't Ask, Don't... (MORE)
    4. Trans woman wins suit against Library of CongressTrans woman wins suit against Library of Congress: QUICK LOOK: A federal judge ruled yesterday that a former special forces commander was discriminated against when officials at the Library of Congress revoked a job offer after learning... (MORE)
    5. Brazil's president defends civil unions for gay couplesBrazil's president defends civil unions for gay couples: QUICK LOOK: Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva for the first time defended civil unions for gay couples, attacking "hypocrisy" on the issue in a TV interview yesterday... (MORE)

    And here are a few of the most popular from the last week:

    • McCain backed gay Tempe mayor when he came outMcCain backed gay Tempe mayor when he came out: QUICK LOOK: Facing a threat that his homosexuality would be exposed by Christian conservatives at a city council meeting, Mayor Neil Giuliano did what he thought was nobody's business:... (MORE)
    • Levi's teaming up with Logo for 'Unbuttoned' promoLevi's teaming up with Logo for 'Unbuttoned' promo: QUICK LOOK: The Levi’s 501 button-fly line of jeans sold by Levi Strauss & Company is joining with the Logo unit of MTV Networks, owned by Viacom, for a campaign called “Logo... (MORE)
    • N.Y. man sues over film portrayal of unusual three-wayN.Y. man sues over film portrayal of unusual three-way: QUICK LOOK: A prominent art dealer is suing the makers of a movie that portrays him having incestuous three-way sex with an ex-girlfriend and the son who murdered her. Sam Green... (MORE)
    • Escort suspect in Dallas man's death, dismembermentEscort suspect in Dallas man's death, dismemberment: QUICK LOOK: An openly gay Dallas man was murdered and dismembered inside his apartment on or before Sept. 4, according to police, and the jailed suspect’s father speculated that... (MORE)
    • Some U.S. radio banning British singer's 'gay anthem'Some U.S. radio banning British singer's 'gay anthem': QUICK LOOK: Adele's hit song Chasing Pavements has been banned in the US for its homosexual connotations. The record - which has proved a huge success in Adele's native UK - has... (MORE)


    These were the five stories on Gay News Watch with the biggest buzz over the last seven days, along with some of the most popular stories from the last week. You can also view the stories with the biggest buzz factor from the last month or year, and the most popular from the last month or year.

    September 19, 2008

    Barack Obama's curious gay Q&As

    Posted by: Chris

    Pgnobamamccain Is it just me or is there something a bit screwy about the Obama campaign's relationship with the gay press? First, Obama avoided gay media interviews during the primary -- save for a 15-minute chat with the Advocate to defend himself in the Donnie McClurkin flap.

    Pgn_obama He caught quite a bit of flak as a result, especially from Philadelphia Gay News owner/publisher Mark Segal, who published a Hillary Clinton interview on the front page alongside blank space symbolizing Obama's supposed snub. Segal, a long-time activist who is regularly accused locally of using the paper to promote his own views and himself, neglected to inform readers that he was a Clinton donor.

    Now, in the last week, Obama has responded to questions from two GLBT publications, but both "interviews" were outside the norm. First, there was an email Q&A with the Washington Blade, which the questions placed curiously enough by Bill Kapfer, the publisher of Genre Magazine and a co-president of Window Media, the Blade's parent company (which I co-founded).

    Then today we have an actual live Q&A with -- drum roll please -- none other than said activist/non-journalist/Clinton donor Mark Segal. Maybe it's just coincidence, or maybe it's just publisher types horning in on big interviews, or maybe it's a calculation by the Obama camp that non-journalists are less likely to throw the hardball questions. (Think Sarah Palin's chat with Sean Hannity.)

    If that's the case, it paid off with Segal. The "news" from the interview picked up by the mainstream media was Obama's response to whether he would, in Segal's words, "end 'Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell' by attaching a signing order to a military appropriations bill." It was the same errant question Segal asked Hillary back in March, ignoring the fact that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was codified by Congress and cannot legally be undone by a "signing statement," "executive order" or other unilateral action by the president.

    Obama's response was nonetheless thoughtful, even if it was taken as something as a retreat by some:

    I would not do it that way. The reason is because I want to make sure that when we reverse “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” it’s gone through a process and we’ve built a consensus or at least a clarity of that, of what my expectations are, so that it works.

    My first obligation as the president is to make sure that I keep the American people safe and that our military is functioning effectively. Although I have consistently said I would repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” I believe that the way to do it is make sure that we are working through a process, getting the Joint Chiefs of Staff clear in terms of what our priorities are going to be. That’s how we were able to integrate the armed services to get women more actively involved in the armed services.

    At some point, you’ve got to make a decision that that’s the right thing to do, but you always want to make sure that you are doing it in a way that maintains our core mission in our military.

    I read Obama as talking more about timing than giving the Pentagon a veto over repeal of the notorious policy, and there's every indication in recent years that the military is already "there" on junking "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," even if (the Democratic-controlled) Congress lacks the will to pull the trigger.

    There were two questions in the brief chat that broke a bit more ground. Segal asked Obama another somewhat cryptic hypothetical: If a constitutional challenge is brought against the Defense of Marriage Act, would Obama instruct his attorney general to file a brief supporting the claim?

    Again the question is based on a legal fallacy -- that the president can order the Department of Justice to join one side or the other of a constitutional claim. Even George W. Bush's A.G. recognizes his professional independence to determine constitutional questions.

    Obama, whose biggest policy difference with Hillary Clinton during the primaries was his support for full repeal of DOMA, was once again patient with his response:

    DOMA was an unnecessary encroachment by the federal government in an area traditionally reserved for the state. I think that it was primarily sent as a message to score political points instead of work through these difficult issues.

    I recognize why it was done. I’m sympathetic to the political pressures involved, but I think that we need to bring it to a close and my preference would be to work through a legislative solution.

    I would also point out that if it’s going before this court, I’m not sure what chances it would have to be overturned. I think we’re going to have to take a different approach, but I am absolutely committed to the concept it is not necessary.

    Easily the best question Segal asked was on foreign policy, pressing whether Obama would raise mistreatment of GLBT citizens as a human rights issue in dealing with foreign countries. Obama's response was very encouraging:

    I think that the treatment of gays, lesbians and transgender persons is part of this broader human-rights discussion. I think it is not acceptable that we would in any way carve out exceptions for our broader human-rights advocacy to exclude violations of human rights based on sexual orientation. I think that has to be part and parcel of any conversations we have about human rights.

    I certainly can't imagine John McCain giving that kind of answer, but then again the only question McCain would likely answer the same as Obama was the softball about whether he and his wife would attend a gay friend's commitment ceremony. Any politician with half a brain and/or half a heart would say yes to that, right?

    Audio of the Obama interview available here: Download Obama.mp3 .

    Good news about a good friend

    Posted by: Chris

    Richardquestheader I am very happy to tell you some good news about a good friend of mine who has bounced back from some tough times.

    After a hiatus of several months, my friend Richard Quest -- one of the few openly gay anchors on CNN or any other news channel -- is back on the air. He is once again hosting "CNN Business Traveller," which airs on CNN International. (Mondays at midnight here in Rio De Janeiro, and Mondays in the AM in Europe and elsewhere. Check the schedule here.)

    Unfortunately, it appears "Business Traveller" doesn't air in North America, but you can still check out Richard's inimitable -- and un-imitatable -- style by watching clips online.

    So far no official word on Richard's other CNN show -- "Quest" -- and it appears CNN has disabled the link for the show on its site. I'll see if I can find out more.

    Regardless, CNN should be commended for sticking by one of its most talented anchors, and Richard should be commended for working through an incredibly difficult time, made tougher by nasty bloggers -- many of them gay -- who found it more interesting to violate his personal privacy than recognize the contribution he makes by being openly gay in an industry where most are still hiding. (You listening, Anderson?)

    Thomas_roberts UPDATE: Just thought I would add a note about another openly gay news anchor, formerly of CNN, who went through some very tough times of his own.

    I've also had the pleasure on a couple occasions to meet Thomas Roberts, a regular on CNN Headline News for many years, and just found out via Google and Wikipedia that he's been back on the air for a while now, covering the Hollywood celebrity beat for "The Insider." He talks all about it in this Advocate cover story from back in May.

    Kudos to Thomas, as well, for bouncing back from adversity. I hope he is enjoying his (somewhat) new beat.

    September 18, 2008

    On the radio (II)

    Posted by: Chris

    Outloudradio I mentioned in a post a few months ago that I am doing some guest appearances on a gay-oriented radio show out of San Francisco called Radio Out Loud. (For those of you on MySpace, the program has a profile here. And don't forget to add me, too.)

    Apparently the nice folks there have enjoyed our political chats as much as I have -- they've invited me to be a regular guest on the weekly show.

    The program airs every Sunday night on KKGN in San Francisco, but each week's show is also available online or you can download the podcast.

    This week I yammer on about the presidential race, comparing the major party candidates and adding some about the third-party contenders, especially Cynthia McKinney, the Green Party nominee.

    Check it out on Sunday and help count how many times I say "umm"! I think I'm actually getting a lot better at that. ;)

    You decide

    Posted by: Andoni

    Map_of_spain UPDATE AT END OF POST.

    I've done a series of posts called McCain's Neuron's here and here. I'm not going to bias you by calling this McCain's neuron's III, but this is truly bizarre at best.

    In an interview  with a Spanish newspaper from Spain, John McCain answered the questions of whether he would meet with Prime Minister Zapatero as though he was discussing a left wing anti-American leader in Latin America. He did not seem to recognize the name of the leader of Spain or even that Spain was in Europe. The reporter sensed McCain was misunderstanding, and twice clarified that she was talking about Spain, in Europe, but McCain couldn't take the hint here and continued to speak as if Spain was not a friend and ally of the United States, but rather a revolutionary country in South America.

    I will ask you guys to come up with explanations of what the hell happened here. My theory is that McCain heard the word "Spanish" and his neural switches went immediately to Latin America. They then were not nimble enough to switch back to any other possibilities of Spanish speaking countries, even when the reporter tried to guide him there.

    I would be interested if any of you can put a positive spin on this.

    UPDATE: Some of the comments below make reference to translation and spin of the Spanish press. The interview with McCain was conducted in English, so you can listen to it and judge for yourself. Here is the Washington Post take on the interview along with an audio of the interview -- all in English. The smoking gun for me is when McCain says he has "a clear record of working with leaders in the hemisphere...." when the reporter was asking about the Prime Minister of Spain. Last time I checked when our leaders say "the hemisphere" they mean our hemisphere (North and South America) and not Europe.

    September 17, 2008

    A plague on both their candidates?

    Posted by: Chris

    Not buying into the Log Cabin schtick that John McCain and Sarah Palin are “a different kind of Republican”? Convinced you are settling if you back Barack Obama despite his opposition to gay marriage?

    There’s always “a third way.” Or in the case of this presidential cycle, a third and a fourth way. The Greens and the Libertarians have nominated their own White House hopefuls, and both parties adopted platforms that back full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

    That single fact alone means their nominees merit a look-see from GLBT voters, but do they really offer meaningful alternatives to the Big Two?

    IMckinneyclementeblogt’s a weird twist of fate this year that both the Green and Libertarian nominees for president hail from metropolitan Atlanta, long a gay mecca in the wilderness of the Bible Belt. But Cynthia McKinney, the Green candidate, and Bob Barr, the Libertarian, have decidedly mixed histories on GLBT issues and gay voters.

    McKinney amassed one of the strongest GLBT records in Congress during her six terms representing DeKalb County, an area long popular with white and black gay Atlantans. Even so, her stubborn association with some ardent gay rights foes earned the ire of many constituents.

    First and foremost there’s her own father, Billy McKinney, who introduced legislation and even sued to block domestic partner benefits, although he conveniently saw the light later when gay supporters were among the few white voters who stood by Cynthia McKinney when redistricting practically booted her from office.

    It was Congresswoman McKinney’s cozy relationship with Fidel Castro and a whole host of Islamic despots, despite their horrendous treatment of gays, that ultimately drove a wedge with many gay (and straight) locals. Father and daughter both blamed white gay voters, along with Jews, for her defeat in 2002. She won her seat back two years later, but the Human Rights Campaign took the unusual step of backing her challenger, out lesbian Cathy Woolard, in the 2006 Democratic primary. Both McKinney and Woolard would ultimately lose.

    The Green Party has long supported full marriage equality, and did so again in their 2008 platform. But I haven’t seen any evidence that McKinney has publicly embraced that view as her own.

    Barr_rootblog Bob Barr, the Libertarian pick, has an even more twisted gay rights history. Barr was arguably Enemy No. 1 of the movement in his four terms as a congressman from Cobb County, which made headlines itself after being shunned by the 1996 Olympic torch relay because of a resolution saying folks of “the gay lifestyle” weren’t welcome.

    That same year, Barr authored the federal Defense of Marriage Act, easily the most notorious anti-gay law ever adopted by Congress. Passed amidst panic over the possibility that Hawaii might marry same-sex couples, DOMA prohibits the U.S. government from recognizing gay marriages. It also says that, despite a constitutional provision to the contrary, no state has to recognize marriage licenses issued to gay couples by other states.

    Barr wound up losing his seat in 2002 due to a changing demographic and redistricting, and subsequently raised eyebrows by reinventing himself as a civil libertarian, even signing on as a consultant for the ACLU. The new and improved Bob Barr has even disassociated himself from his most famous piece of legislation.

    “Standing before you, looking you in the eye, the Defense of Marriage Act, insofar as it provided the federal government a club to club down the rights of law-abiding, American citizens, has been abused, misused and should be repealed,” Barr said in his speech accepting the Libertarian nomination.

    Bob_barr Barr’s “defense of marriage” was always a bizarre contradiction, considering he was twice-divorced and on his third marriage back when he wrote the law. His newfound opposition to his own handiwork is a head-scratcher, too. How exactly was DOMA “abused and misused,” considering its impact was pretty much exactly as foreseen?

    The new Bob Barr still oppose gay marriage mind you, despite the Libertarian Party platform, although he agrees with John McCain htat states should be left to decide the question for themselves. Barr also still supports the half of DOMA that allows states to ignore marriage licenses issues to gay couples by other states.

    Throw in the Libertarian Party’s long-held (if principled) opposition to hate crime laws, workplace protection and other private sector non-discrimination statutes, and Barr lines up on gay rights somewhere just north of McCain – and that’s not saying much.

    There are lots of good reasons that GLBT groups warn us not to throw away our votes on third-party candidates and independent types, but this time around the temptation should be particularly easy to resist.


    The gay donor group eQuality Giving has compiled a very helpful side-by-side comparison of the Green and Libertarian Party platforms on gay rights.

    Southern Voice also has an excellent story comparing the gay rights records of McKinney and Barr.

    September 15, 2008

    Obama and McCain on the financial crisis: hello?

    Posted by: Kevin

    Panic6tfUPDATES at end of this post, regarding the detailed candidate speeches delivered on this issue on September 16, and subsequent rally speeches.

    The newest test of the two presidential candidates, after the Russian invasion and land grab in Georgia, is upon us.  The collapse of Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest investment bank in the world, and the feverishly rapid buyout of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America have brought new signs of financial panic in the U.S. markets, and the impact on the broader economy will be substantial, albeit undefined right now.

    It is another test of both men's judgment as well as policy directions.  So far, it seems that the culture wars and the silly positioning are still distracting both campaigns a bit too much.  The events on Wall Street over the past 48 hours are far more important to the vast majority of Americans than the Looney Tunes short features on whether Obama backed a sex-education program for babies, or if Sarah Palin wants gays to be gassed in death camps.

    Out of the chute, both candidates pointed at the correct issue at the heart of the crisis today: poor regulation.  There has been a serious lack of proper regulation and oversight as the derivative markets flowered uncontrollably, to the point where instruments tied to hyperinflated assets were so complex that traders themselves couldn't figure out how they worked and interacted across the medium or broad scale of the markets.  Plus, these derivatives, along with interest rates held too low for too long at a critical moment, fueled the enormous price bubble in the housing market, which has burst like an infected sore.  These are the common threads woven through the whole crisis.  It is a pox not only on the Bush Administration and the Congress (under both sets of party majorities), but also an indictment of the major financial players themselves.  Everything spiraled out of control from the beginning despite years of warnings from respected corners.

    Credit goes to both McCain and Obama for recognizing what the problem was, and they both called for deposits to be shielded as a priority above the interests of the executives at the crashing companies.  Obama, of course, tried to tie it all polemically to the Republicans, as he should.  But Obama has no experience at all in leading broad-scale institutional reforms, and no record of tackling issues as big and far-reaching as this crisis.  I give him a complete pass on mixing partisan rhetoric into his statements on this crisis today, assuming he wouldn't do the same if he presides over a one-party government next year.  But I have no clue what Obama will do to solve this problem, and after poring over his website and googling the subject, I still can't find the details.  He's got some old bits out there about cracking down on predatory mortgage practices, but that is about two years behind on where the crisis sits today.  I know he will simply appoint a Treasury Secretary and an economic adviser who will be accountable for whatever broad plan he'd try to implement (not to mention having to deal with vested and polemical hams on Capitol Hill).  But we need more than rhetoric about "change" and some easy political shots to be assured that he will know what he's doing on this gigantic issue that has gone far beyond the sub-prime mortgage bubble that burst long ago in this unfolding story.

    McCain has never been a defender of the investment banks in this issue and once again criticized the lack of proper regulation and said he will eagerly re-regulate if elected.  With his many years of experience as a Senate Commerce Committee chairman, especially taking on the tobacco industry (which ran a $40 million campaign against his efforts), his leadership on a number of reform efforts that were enacted, and his vote against the GOP private securities tort reform law in 1995, I don't personally doubt that he could ably lead an effort at reforming the regulatory institutions in this case.  And to his credit, in his statement today and for a while, he linked the current crisis to the broader lacks of control on Wall Street.  His Senate service through the savings and loan meltdown in the late 1980s reinforced his view, he has said, that "government intervention can have unintended consequences."  Good instincts.  I also like to see that he sees the lack of proper regulation as a "handicap" on our end of the global market, and threatens our financial position against other markets.  This is a recognition that there are reasons behind the collapse of the dollar, the decline in confidence in Wall Street around the world, and the worrying shift away from what the U.S. economy does best -- and these reasons are rooted in bad policy.  (I still wonder if Obama shares this philosophy.  I hope he does.)  But I want to hear a lot more about exactly what reforms are needed to get us back on track, and have them be openly graded by market analysts and the financial press.  The details will be a better barometer on his judgment about what must be corrected in the markets, how it needs to be implemented and when.  If he doesn't produce credible details, then the charge that he is out of touch, or no longer "the real McCain", will stick and concern will rise, not lessen.

    Let's see if we can have a serious discussion between the two campaigns on this issue, not a stupid Punch-and-Judy show about whose ex-wife or fifth child or former pastor or plaigarized speech from 20 years ago is a symbol for why the financial crisis is simply a convenient moment to prove that God is on one or the other side in this campaign.

    UPDATE #1 (live-blogging the Sept 16th detailed stump speeches by McCain, Obama, on this issue):

    (Tuesday, Sept 16th - 12:09pm) McCain is delivering a tough speech in Tampa right now, with much more detailed analysis of the financial crisis.  He zeroed in directly on derivatives and other complex instruments that he said (I think correctly) were used to "hide" unsustainable risk by too many in the markets.  He also pointed the finger at Congress and, apparently, the Bush Administration, for being far too influenced by lobbyists from the financial institutions (again, he's said this for years).  He is promising wide-scale reform, with some detail around how he will drill-down and toughen enforcement not only mortgage lenders but the financial operators in the system that multiplied the damage and exposure of the financial system on top of inflated assets.  He clearly knows the lay of the land of the government agencies, and so his tack has credibility.  He's on fire.  He seems to be channeling the "old McCain", so dubbed by his media critics.

    12:19pm (ET): Now, he's moved on to broader economic and enegy policy, segueing comfortably.  He's not stammering.  His cadence is confident, never getting too wonky before this huge crowd, but getting into the details of every policy issue.  (He's on nuclear power now, and the capacity for power storage and partnerships with foreign partners.  Stuff I'll be damned if I understand.  The crowd is on its feet, strangely.  McCain is not reading this speech.  He's ad-libbing most of it.)

    12:27pm (ET): The speech ended with a flourish about Iraq.  Not once have I noticed him mentioning either Obama, or the Democrats.  Sounds like he's fighting against a much broader swath.  Very effective. 

    Now, we've shifted to Obama, speaking in Golden, Colorado.  Obama is speaking non-stop about McCain, saying his philosophy (apparently rooted in Bush's) is responsible for "incompetence" in the management of the markets.

    12:30pm (ET): Obama now, on grading McCain's response to the current financial situation, says he "will provide leadership, John McCain won't, and that is the choice in this election."  He said McCain offered "the oldest Washington stunt in the book" by apparently calling for a commission as part of a reform effort.  "This isn't 9/11 - we know how we got into this mess."  Strange reference. 

    12:32pm (ET): He then says he wants to offer a "bold new opportunity agenda."  It is, he says, a $60 billion "emergency" program which sounds like an infusion of money into schools and into state coffers.  (What exactly would that do to grow the economy?  And how will he pay for it?)  He is talking now about raising penalties for predatory lending.  (OK - the horse is out of the barn, though.  What about Wall Street?)  He's now talking about expansive aid packages for individuals with defaulted mortgages.  (Again - how will this reform the market?)  Now he's talking class war -- bankruptcy law protects the rich too much, etc.  (Ibid.)

    12:36pm (ET): Now he's finally getting around to the markets.  He rightly says that trust must be restored to the markets, and that will come with better oversight.  (Amen.)  He lays out core principles for reform: all qualified borrowers should be subject to requisite oversight (reasonable enough, but who will do the oversight?  Under what rules?); overhaul regulations on financial instruments and transactions - lots of detail, most of it around transparency regarding risk (very good); agencies must be streamlined (again, very good); jurisdictions must be clear and they must be carried out (no brainer); lastly, more regulators (duh).  Obama is very closely reading off the teleprompter, more haltingly than he normally does.  At least he's getting many points right.

    12:39pm (ET): Now he talks about anticipating risk before they overwhelm the scenario, "and that's what I'll do when I'm President of the United States."  I doubt he'll be his own Treasury Secretary, but its reassuring to know he'll keep an eye out.  I worry, though, that the tone of all of this sounds far more interventionist than the government should be.  Would he bail out companies that should be left to crash, simply because of the state they're in or the "workers" they affect (vs., I guess, the "fat cats" who work as analysts, traders and secretaries on Wall Street).

    12:42pm (ET): Now he's talking about taking on special interests.  This is all very welcome.  We now have very strong rhetoric from both sides on this, with some above average credibility compared previous elections.  But Obama is now going back to saying "lobbyists don't run my campaign" as a shot at McCain.  (I know several of these so-called "lobbyists" running McCain's campaign, and to compare them with the shameles lobbyists in the driver's seat among Democrats is beyond laughable.)

    12:44pm (ET): Now we're summing up, and he's layering in his rhetoric about punishing companies that "ship jobs overseas" (ugh.), etc.  Now, coverage is cutting away for a commercial.

    In short, both promised a lot of regulation.  I agree that regulation needs to come into the system, especially on ensuring new instruments and derivatives.  But it does seem like the two speeches reflect the gigantic shift in the political dynamic. 

    McCain laid out an agenda that seemed genuinely in touch with his personality and his core political identity (at least, the one I've known for the last 16 years), and didn't mention his opponent.  He also wove the current crisis deftly into broader economic policy that focuses on growth and on energy (very, very well, as I agree that they are all inter-related).

    Obama spent much of his speech attacking and blaming McCain for the current problems, and went into much more specific detail on specific reforms that McCain, which shows he is now on the defensive.  He offered some well thought-out proposals, others that were not exactly original, and I don't buy that he came up with all of them himself as he has next to no experience on these issues.  I also worry they might sprout from a philosophy that is too heterodox and too interventionist - he should back off the class-war and reassure the middle he gets what markets mean to our economy.  That would increase his credibility with people like me.

    To be continued...

    UPDATE #2: The media seems divided in reacting to the Obama and McCain prescriptions for the financial crisis.  The New York Times has predictably, and fairly shamelessly, sided with Obama in its political coverage.  But a series of accompanying articles take the pulse of the broader body politic and indicate a number of solutions floating around -- all of them serious, some of them radical -- and deserving of consideration and debate (and, in my view, bolstering the concept of a blue-ribbon commission).  The Wall Street Journal gave a more balanced look, tilting toward the belief within the McCain camp that there isn't a "magic solution" to the problem and that McCain's proposals and rhetoric are "tougher-than-usual".

    But Jeff Zelny of the Times captured the larger political truth behind this week's push and pull.  Obama sees this as his moment to recapture momentum from the surging McCain.  He is carrying himself with tremendous self confidence in saying he is making solid proposals while McCain is "passing the buck" to a commission.  It is a risky strategy for someone with no experience, but it seems to be playing well with Obama's base, which is also eating up the class-war rhetoric coming with it.  Thomas Frank in the Wall Street Journal is celebrating, and wants more of it.  It seems that if Obama veers off into this vein, he has a shot at peeling some of the Hillary voters back from McCain-Palin over the coming weeks.  But it will guarantee that the race will grow nastier, more lurid and more negative, and not less so.  That will turn a lot of undecideds and independents off, and one has to wonder what the net gain will be for either side.

    Financial Times to Dems: You're in a hole. Stop digging.

    Posted by: Kevin

    Ftdems_inholeClive Crook, of the Financial Times of London, joins in urging the Democrats to stop digging themselves deeper in the hole their in:

    For Mr McCain to win the election against the odds that faced him pre-Palin – with the economy in the tank and the incumbent Republican president setting records for unpopularity – would be sensational enough. For this to happen because of his vice-presidential pick, a decision that is usually of next to no consequence, beggars belief. The Democrats had to bring all their resources to getting themselves into this fix. They proved equal to the task. ...

    Certainly, the Democrats can see they are in a hole. Somehow, though, the word has gone out: “Keep digging.” Mr Obama is also urged to be less cool and lose his temper. Voters adore an angry candidate, you see. “Dig faster, and be more angry,” is the advice coming down from the political geniuses who decided it was a fine idea to laugh at Ms Palin in the first place. A recurring television image in the past few days has been the split-screen contrast between a serenely smiling Republican operative and a fulminating red-faced Democrat about to have a stroke.

    Efforts to smear the governor proceed at a frantic pace. ... Of course, they will find things. They may even find something important. But the sheer swarming zeal for trivial malfeasance and family embarrassments is rapidly raising the bar for impropriety. I think that many voters – and not just committed Republicans – find this whole spectacle disgusting, so on top of everything else Ms Palin is now getting a sympathy vote.

    Democrats will deny it, but they opened this new front in the culture war by their response to the Palin nomination. The mess they are in is their own fault. They still seem intent on driving significant numbers of women and moderates over to the other side and Mr McCain’s political instinct is doubtless to help this rift in the electorate widen further. It could be a winning strategy. But good politics is not the same thing as responsible leadership. I intend it as a compliment to Mr McCain when I say that if his means to victory in this election is to divide the country, it is a victory he should not want.

    Read the whole piece.  Crook is not a GOP fan at all, but a very incisive British observer in Washington.  I'm still undecided in this election.  And I think that unless things change direction in the Obama camp, this will indeed be another 1988 and not another 1980, no matter how I vote.  Frankly, Crook is speaking for me when he says many voters find the current spectacle disgusting.  I'd hoped this would be an unprecedentedly issues-driven, honorable race.  Now, I'm tuning out.

    If you're an Obama fanatic, it does your cause no good to continue operating in a fog of denial.  Pull yourselves together, people.  You're blowing this election.

    NYT calls for Rangel to step aside

    Posted by: Andoni

    RangelToday's New York Times calls for Rep. Charlie Rangel to step aside as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. That's exactly what I did 10 days ago in my post Charlie Rangel's many homes problem. Welcome to the club NYT.

    While I'm tooting my own horn, I would like to remind readers that I was one of the first people, over two weeks ago, to call Sarah Palin out on her lies in Sarah Palin's lies and Last night's lies.  The corporate media is only now catching on to her lies and reporting on them. Like weren't they listening and fact-checking when the words initially passed her lips?

    Finally, on the day after Mcain chose Sarah Palin as his veep, I called that decison "reckless." It took most mainstream commentators and editorial boards another week or two to come to the same conclusion.

    The mainstream, corporate media so slow, it's sad to watch.

    It's also depressing to watch this presidential race. I don't think it is a referendum on either Obama or McCain. I think it is really a referendum on the American people - who they are, what they believe. Do they want to get this country moving again, do they want to move into the future or remain in the past? Do they want to reward the party that ruined the country in so many ways over the past eight years, can they be fooled again, yet a third time with the same tactics? Do they feel that torture, invading a country that never attacked us, and rendition is what we stand for? Do they feel that blatant lies, ridicule, and figuring out how to divide Americans should be rewarded with the presidency?

    Yes, this is definitely a referendum on the American people, not the candidates.

    September 14, 2008

    This Week on GNW

    Posted by: Chris

    Here are the five biggest stories from Gay News Watch over the last week:

    1. Florida judge strikes down ban on adoption by gaysFlorida judge strikes down ban on adoption by gays: QUICK LOOK: A Monroe Circuit Court judge has ruled Florida's 31-year-old gay adoption ban "unconstitutional" in an order that allows an openly gay Key West foster parent to adopt... (MORE)
    2. Craig argues First Amendment protects foot tappingCraig argues First Amendment protects foot-tapping: QUICK LOOK: In an effort to persuade a three-judge panel to throw out Sen. Larry Craig's guilty plea, his attorney suggested Wednesday that his foot tapping in an airport men's room... (MORE)
    3. AIDS 'healing' by prayer at N.C. college drawing fireAIDS 'healing' by prayer at N.C. college drawing fire: QUICK LOOK: A play featuring anti-gay and “ex-gay” religious themes will be showcased at Winston-Salem State University by a traveling, Atlanta, Ga.-based Christian production company... (MORE)
    4. British treasury minister to marry longtime-partnerBritish treasury minister to meet longtime partner: QUICK LOOK: Angela Eagle, the only openly gay woman MP in the House of Commons is to   "marry" her long-term partner, it has been revealed. The surprise announcement was made at... (MORE)
    5. Episcopal bishops in Calif. oppose gay marriage banEpiscopal bishops in Calif. oppose gay marriage ban: QUICK LOOK: California's six most senior Episcopal bishops Wednesday unanimously declared their opposition to a constitutional amendment on the statewide November ballot that would... (MORE)

    And here are a few of the most popular from the last week:

    • Elizabeth Taylor surprises West Hollywood gay barElizabeth Taylor surprises West Hollywood gay bar: QUICK LOOK: Elizabeth Taylor made a low-key return to public life Thursday night with a trip to her favorite watering hole. In the film legend's first known appearance since she... (MORE)
    • Gay D.J. in N.C. pleads guilty to unlawful HIV exposureGay D.J. in N.C. pleads guilty to unlawful HIV exposure: QUICK LOOK: A gay, 23-year-old man received a suspended 45-day jail sentence, 30 months of probation and a $300 fine, plus court costs, after pleading guilty Aug. 22 to charges stemming... (MORE)
    • The search is now on for Mr. Gay Canada in WhistlerThe search is now on for Mr. Gay Canada in Whistler: QUICK LOOK: There will be a sash, swimsuits and a title, but this is no ordinary beauty pageant.From Sept. 18 to 21, the search for Mr. Gay Canada is on. Organizers say they're... (MORE)


    These were the five stories on Gay News Watch with the biggest buzz over the last seven days, along with some of the most popular stories from the last week. You can also view the stories with the biggest buzz factor from the last month or year, and the most popular from the last month or year.

    Memo to Democratic activists: you're missing the point, and you're blowing it for Obama

    Posted by: Kevin

    A little unsolicited advice for my friends on the anti-Republican side (termed so from the explosion of negativity they ushered into the discourse on the day after the Democratic Convention).

    Stop blaming Barack Obama for the sinking prospects of his ticket -- and your vain hopes for winning the election without a real fight.  Stop crying about racism or unfairness or "two Americas".  Stop turning Sarah Palin into a martyr to millions of suburban white women and rural working class Americans (who didn't back your guy in the primaries, mind you).  Stop questioning the sanity and the intelligence of half of your country.

    And listen up.  Time is running out.

    You want to earn this election, or simply caterwaul all the way to the finish line and blow it yet again?  Well, go back and watch the greatest hits of Obama's thundering primary speeches and tweeze out the most salient political messages which set him apart from Hillary Clinton more than anything else.  He called for an end to exactly what you're doing right now.  He promised to end the division in this country and unite people behind a broad mandate for change.  He promised to bring radical change in tone and spirit, embodied in his own face, mind and life experiences.  And he appealed for -- and rightly earned -- the nation's respect without regard to his young age, his relative lack of experience, or his race.

    And the day after Obama's crowing triumph at becoming the party's nominee, you suddenly veered into an out-of-control orgy of hateful, negative attacks on Sarah Palin that became so thick, so noisy and so ridiculous that nearly all of the undecided voters out there (who will decide this election) quickly tuned you -- and the media, for the most part -- out.  Now, whatever real and genuine criticism that can be leveled at her is being ignored by a chunk of voters whose backs got up fast, and who saw someone in Palin that they could relate to, both in her strengths and in the attacks leveled against her.  An impressive and confident wife and mother being disrespected, talked down to, underestimated, ripped apart with vicious intensity -- even martyred.  (You'd think politically saavy and experienced African American or gay activists would get it and see it, and knock it off.)

    Folks - from a purely Democratic partisan point of view, you are creating a political monster here, and you're revealing how unprepared you were to win over the middle.  Indeed, your contempt for the very voters you need on your side to win is showing.  And the "elite" label will stick if you keep it up.

    So many pro-Obama commentators (most of them white) are carrying on about the "sea of white faces" in the GOP convention hall.  I just watched Palin's speech again.  What I saw was a sea of white female faces.  Mostly older.  Yes - the same faces who opposed Obama in the primaries in many vital states you need to win in November.  And if the delegate opinion polls were any indication, these were not your Republican church ladies of yore.  They were quite a bit more diverse than ever.  I also noticed some old white male faces -- Senators, governors -- smiling and clapping a bit nervously.  I saw a sort-of-downcast Newt Gingrich, despite his follow-on hackery in support of the ticket.  Those old bulls saw the wild reaction in that hall - and it wasn't a bunch of Pat Robertson acolytes down there screaming.  It was a whole lot of women, full of energy, who in some state parties have been itching to take over.  It was something that must have unnerved those guys, too.  It might be another patented McCain fuck-over.

    This year should be favoring the Democrats, and the issues should be deciding everything.  And yet you've turned this into a clash between two sets of change-agents, and an ugly one at that.  You're ruining Obama's strategic narrative, and you're giving a woman you claim to be unqualified a set of knee-guards and a sharper sword in the battle against you're own guy.  And she's winning the first round!!

    You really think Obama is better on the issues, and better qualified?  Good.  Then stop acting like high school children and talk about the issues like adults.  Stop making fun of her hair, her clothes, her family, her accent and her church.  Stop inventing nonsense, and mauling her teenaged children.  Stop being that nasty elitist pack of snots that the Republicans are saying you are.  You're managing to take up so much airtime that Obama himself is finding it hard to break through the noise.

    Take a look at this video from a BBC docudrama on the rise of Margaret Thatcher.  And before you roll your eyes and screech about the comparison, just take a look.  And you'll see how the men (and women) in Britain who had their heads up their asses in all political quarters turned her into the political giant she became, simply by underestimating her, and all the folks out there like her in the electorate.  Whether she was right or wrong politically in your judgment, you have to admit that all of her opponents (until her own downfall after an historic 11 1/2 year reign) were eventually crushed under her heels from the moment she grabbed the nation's attention.

    Watch, and learn.  Or lose.

    September 12, 2008

    HIV: "Remember me?"

    Posted by: Kevin

    Classic_time_bomb_2 The growing raft of statistics is proving what many have been yelling about for years: the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States is far from over, but in fact it is gathering strength in the wake of our government's lagging and inefficient response.

    Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control issued a report that is more detailed than ever about precisely where new infections are happening.  As expected, particularly for local and state AIDS service organizations, the disease continues apace among men who have sex with men, and is disproportionately exploding among blacks and latinos. (The report is here.)

    But between the lines is yet another indication of where the U.S. is falling dangerously behind on a number of policy fronts -- a giant portion of those infected today (between 25% and 28%) don't know they have HIV, and a great number of them will unknowingly infect others and only enter treatment later than they should.  This is horrifying, and it isn't news to any AIDS service organization in major cities or especially the rural South.  Also, as much as 80% of gay and bisexual men in 15 cities have not been reached by HIV prevention efforts that have been proven effective. 

    In short - at a time where no other country is doing more in the global fight against AIDS, America has been slow to react to shifting factors at home, and has abandoned the fight by default.  For the gay community, which spent so much of its blood and treasure, and lost nearly a whole generation in the first half of this epidemic, this should be the most outrageous and galling information to emerge yet in this political year.

    In July of this year, Kai Wright wrote an excellent and incisive piece for The American Prospect which described the creeping "AIDS apartheid" that has unfolded over the past several years.  He shows how it is due to the inertia in shifting our national HIV/AIDS policies to get in front of the changing face of this epidemic.  The American South has become an HIV/AIDS "ground zero" because of outdated, clanking federal policies on routine HIV testing, on funding through the Ryan White CARE Act (that is still far too tied to formulas shaped for the epidemic of 1990), and the gross abdication of effective prevention efforts of any kind where they are needed the most.  And Wright correctly concludes that "(w)hatever is causing the racial disparity in infection rates, it is ultimately going to collapse the system we built to make AIDS care accessible in the United States."

    Wright joins the growing voices in favor of a U.S. national HIV/AIDS strategy.  It is amazing, but we have never had one.  As a pre-requisite of receiving money from President Bush's ground-breaking multi-billion dollar global AIDS program, countries with a tiny fraction of our GDP must have a national HIV/AIDS strategy, with targets and goals spread out over increments of 1-5 years, and must have a national AIDS director that is accountable for them.  And yet, astoundingly, the United States has never done the same.

    Our national response since the advent of the Ryan White CARE Act in 1990 has been a hodge-podge of stop-gaps and fiscal rescuing of state and local authorities.  Congress and the White House (no matter who has controlled either) have played an ever more political game of tennis with the budgets for Ryan White care and treatment funds, CDC prevention efforts and other elements, while state and territorial AIDS directors have struggled and screamed to be heard above the din of their 50+ colleagues.  Presidents, Senators, and House chairmen have taken turns grandstanding, pointing fingers, and putting their heads in the sand -- and as a result, no one has been held accountable for the worsening problems at ground level.  Worse yet, since the beginning, the swiss-cheese of federal HIV/AIDS policy has been the stage upon which the left and the right have pushed their nonsensical ideological agendas, often stepping over the bodies of the dead and dying to grab the microphone and show their utter disregard for science, public health and civic duty.

    Enough already.  If this election is supposed to be about change or reform, then let's hear it.  And let's really demand it on AIDS, as gays of all political stripes.  Obama or McCain (or both) must be pushed to propose some radical reforms on how the federal government deals with this issue. 

    We need a national HIV/AIDS strategy, with specific goals and targets, driven from the executive branch and ratified by the Congress.  We need a national AIDS director who proposes this policy, carries it out, reports directly to the Secretary of Health and Human Services with budget authority, testifies to Congress, and is held accountable for its results.  No more ceremonial offices on Lafayette Square or in the White House, which have too often served only as a political shop since the beginning.  Real policy responsibilities, on a real timetable, and real accountability.

    And Congress must be held to account as well.  This idea that one or the other is the "better" party on AIDS is now shown for the charade that it is.  The Republicans have been the ones who delivered on funding and reforms far and above the Democrats before or after them, but they've also been playing ideological and religious politics with AIDS since the beginning, from gay-bashing in the early days to ineffective abstinence-only and absurd anti-condom prevention requirements today, at the expense of people's lives.  The Democrats have been long on sweet words and militant political support against discrimination (with the exception of visa policy, in which they failed miserably and were cowards until finally rectifying it this year), but have also been shamelessly provincial on funding formulas and naggingly resistent to now-desperately needed reforms in the system.

    Finally, we need to heed the growing clamor from the CDC and adopt routine HIV testing in every state and territory.  CDC director Julie Gerberding has been crying out in the dark to both her own administration and to Congress on this for too long.  Her agency published recommendations, and then guidelines, years ago which call for making HIV testing with informed consent a routine part of medical care for all Americans aged 13 to 65, but no one is heeding it because she has no authority to mandate it.  All of the science shows that it is the only way to close the gap among that huge number of Americans who are not aware of their status.  Without it, we cannot prevent new infections from this population and we cannot move them into treatment.  Two separate studies, one from Harvard and Yale, the other from Stanford, showed that routine testing would be as cost-effective as blood pressure checks have been.  It's barbaric that we've just sit by and let these new statistics just happen even though we've known for years that routine testing could have helped prevent them.

    In the end, my vote will be much more influenced by whether either candidate shows a real comprehension of the emergency we're facing at the federal level on HIV/AIDS, than by their positions on the apparently comatose ENDA or hate crimes bills.  And not just lovely talk, or great big hugs, but real understanding of the sweeping reform that is necessary.

    September 10, 2008

    Party on the verge of a nervous breakdown

    Posted by: Kevin

    Women_on_the_verge_of_a_nervous_breThere is no question that Barack Obama and his senior aides ran an astounding primary campaign, right through to the nomination acceptance speech at the end of their triumphant convention in Denver.  Obama broke out of the pack early on, raised a gigantic amount of money, and took on the Clinton machine head-to-head.  He fought off endless efforts to smear him, both on the internet and in the media, and didn't relent.  Even in his announcement speech, he upstaged the establishment and dominated the scene whether he'd won or lost that day.  Against the odds, he made history on several fronts, not the least of which being the first African American nominated for President of the United States.

    I celebrated his victory over Hillary Clinton, and all that her cynical, soulless borg came to represent.  To me, a Hillary victory would mean the Democratic Party would be "assimilated" into a cynical enterprise meant to serve the Clintons and their Ideology of Me, weakening the party at a time when gays are dangerously - perhaps fatally - dependent on its flagging interest in delivering on our issues.  I agreed fully with the heart and the spirit of the very first notable YouTube fan video for Obama, which portrayed his primary challenge as nothing less than a one-person revolution against a cowed and brainless mass, sitting agape upon having the thin TV screen of their droning and predictable psychodrama (starring Herself) shattered and destroyed.  Hope was alive.

    Obama's Denver acceptance speech was hands down the most electric and ballsy feat of political drama since the day in 1912 in Milwaukee when Theodore Roosevelt was shot in the chest in on the campaign stump and went on to give a thundering 90 minute speech anyway.  Obama will be remembered for the 80,000 cheering fans, the fireworks shooting into the sky, the stagecraft, the music and the iron confidence he showed in himself, despite being the insurgent.  And every African American alive today and for the next hundred years will be able to say that the glorious history of that moment was fully honored and fully inhaled by the nation for time and memorial.  It was, in all sincerity, spectacular.

    But I sat down and read Obama's speech without the fanfare, putting aside the history around his race and the stirring artistry of the scenery.  It was, as the Associated Press rightly pointed out, very light on specifics, despite promises that it would have many.  Most people I know who watched the speech can't remember a single line from it today.  Obama needed to unite his party, yes.  That was definitely achieved.  But he also had to make his case to the vast number of undecided or skeptical voters who, like me, would put aside the historic and visual implications and pay attention to what he actually said and stood for.  Was he really so different?  Was he really bringing "change" that was more than skin deep?

    He didn't break out for me in Denver.  On foreign policy, it was all meringue and no candor or recognizable philosophy.  On education, it was essentially no-child-left-behind-plus-Americorps.  On energy, it was embarrassingly light on comprehension and almost identical to the current policies of George W. Bush (who is pouring money into R&D on biofuels, campaigned on clean coal technology as early as 2000, and is protecting the corn ethanol industry like Obama wants to do).  On taxes, it was about raising them.  And on the issue of gay equality, there were a couple of placating words but, in terms of policy, only a vague reference to hospital visitation rights.  (Noted lesbian reporter Karen Ocamb noticed, and raised an alarm on this.)  Ironically, McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt said about as much to a placated room full of Log Cabin activists in Minneapolis as Obama said in that stadium to the nation.

    To me, this points to a larger weakness in the campaign's central strategy.  Obama is still campaigning as the insurgent despite being the nominee and the presumed President-to-be, given the horrendous approval ratings of the Republican lame-duck.  This is a mistake.  He hasn't yet made the vitally important leap to statesman and "presidential", not in my mind and not in the mind of many undecided Americans. 

    He seems to have thought he'd just shift his insurgent campaign against Hillary to an insurgent campaign against George W. Bush, and simply win the election.  It was exciting in the primaries, at least for us non-Democrats or for new voters, and not for any cynical reason.  I truly like Barack Obama.  I admire his communication skills and his flair for the emotional, the dramatic, the inspirational -- all of which is sorely lacking in honorable U.S. politicians.  I envy his charisma.  To be honest, there were moments a few months ago when I really wanted to be in his corner all the way.  But I was waiting for him to close the deal.  It didn't happen.  And with the ever growing scale of his production values, I grow more doubtful that a deal-closer is there behind the curtain.  (Still time to prove me wrong.)

    Then I looked at the Denver performance again on my DVR and realized I was seeing something interesting.  The agape faces of the Democrats.  The happy, satiated activists.  They had a new psychodrama to latch onto, a new giant jumboscreen to watch.  So what that it was now starring the man who demolished their last one?  They were in their seats again.  Mouths open.  That's what they always wanted.  They didn't need to hear specifics.  They just needed the right lyrics to go with the music.

    I need more than that if you're going to ask me to toss aside nearly everything I believe on every issue besides gay rights and vote the way you say I must.  In the words of Madonna, I've heard it all before.

    And then, the unexpected game-changer.  Sarah Palin happened to Barack Obama and the Democrats.  Aside from what it actually meant in reality, in terms of the Democratic psychodrama it was a sudden, horrifying, Hurricane Katrina of a different sort.  Something suddenly went awry inside their heads.  (Indeed, speaking of hurricanes and kookiness, several noted Democrats publicly likened the arrival of Hurricane Gustav to God's punishment of the GOP that weekend.  Jerry Falwell would be proud of them for that - and it was surreal to hear it coming from their lips.)  And rather than spend the next week sitting back, confident that their man was more than up to this pitiful challenge to him, it seems that much of the party's activist wing began to quickly descend towards a nervous breakdown as independents began to break hard for the McCain-Palin ticket in most polls.

    Obama's faulty strategy hasn't helped him.  He had to leave the stadium and lightshows behind and close the deal, but he's flailing now.  The ridiculous boomlet over his "lipstick" remark was notable not for whether he intended to liken Palin to a pig (I say he didn't), but for the speed in which so many fell for the agile McCain reaction and recoiled.  That was a red warning light that needs to be heeded.  It was one of those bizarre moments where Obama pulled a Bill Clinton -- he said something really stupid (perhaps too candid about his true feelings of contempt?  I hope not) and seemed to almost know it a moment later.  Then he added a metaphor about a stinking fish, and maybe compounded the error.  That this was the only line of his stump speech that got attention that day is a glaring reflection of his failure to move with the shifting direction of this campaign (and he blamed the media for it), and how there is much more going on in the body politic for which repetitive doses of "hope" and "change" rhetoric aren't enough.  If Obama doesn't change strategic direction soon, a whiff of Dukakis will be in the air.

    And the crack-ups going on among the activist base, on glaring display across the internet in the last two weeks, is a troubling sign of the Democratic Party's deeper institutional hollowness that Obama's victory has not addressed.  This party is not ready for prime time if this is all they've got coming out of Denver.  And intelligent people of high note on the blogosphere seemed to go loco and wallow in the lowest depths of conspiracy theories and smears.  The alarm among cooler heads was such that Andrew Sullivan, for instance, had to post a note to readers acknowledging their "concern" and to say that he is "absolutely fine".  It was only days after seeming to demand that Palin submit to a maternity test to prove that her youngest child was her own (he has since backed off such crazy talk).

    Camile Paglia, a partisan Democrat herself, said it best:

    The witch-trial hysteria of the past two incendiary weeks unfortunately reveals a disturbing trend in the Democratic Party, which has worsened over the past decade. Democrats are quick to attack the religiosity of Republicans, but Democratic ideology itself seems to have become a secular substitute religion. Since when did Democrats become so judgmental and intolerant? Conservatives are demonized, with the universe polarized into a Manichaean battle of us versus them, good versus evil. Democrats are clinging to pat group opinions as if they were inflexible moral absolutes. The party is in peril if it cannot observe and listen and adapt to changing social circumstances.

    Some of the charges, exaggerations and pure inventions about Sarah Palin were so loud, numerous and deafening that they seem to have backfired egregiously.  The waters are so muddy and polluted now that undecideds are refusing to believe almost anything being said about her, and any rightful critiques or discrepencies in her record or statements are being painted with the same broad brush of mistrust as the crazy talk.  For a party that has long -- and rightly -- denounced such campaigning to turn so ferociously, chaotically and ineptly to the same tactics was a jolt in the face of Obama's sunny and uplifting style.  And it leaves the undecided voter cold and cynical about whether there is anything about them that has "changed."

    And the fact that simply by writing all this, I will probably be subject to a volley of truly hateful comments says even more about what is going wrong with Obama's quest.  There is still far too much window-dressing and preaching to the choir, mixed with a really shocking level of sleaze from the activists that must be driving Obama crazy.  Perhaps it's because he knows that so long as it continues, voters like me (the ones who will decide this election) will see no difference between him and the Republicans, and when the artistry and emotion is wiped away, he is dead even with John McCain -- and maybe won't hold up.

    September 08, 2008

    Log Cabin's McCain mistake revisited

    Posted by: Chris

    Johnmccainsketch Just as I expected, Kevin has made by far the strongest argument I've seen anywhere in favor of the Log Cabin endorsement of McCain-Palin. His general point is that the decision was necessary for Log Cabin to retain any influence within the Republican Party, and to preserve access in a McCain White House.

    Fair enough. I certainly understand that motivation and guessed as much before they announced the endorsement. Also, I will defer to Kevin's far superior knowledge about the control (or lack thereof) that GOP presidential nominees have over the platform process.

    Still, before I respond to Kevin's argument, a word about motives. Kevin says he "can only speculate as to why [I've] been on such a tear" about the Log Cabin endorsement, although he believes I was motivated by "truly want[ing] more progress in the GOP" because I know he knows "as absolute fact that [I don't] want Log Cabin to fail."

    Of course he's right on both counts -- I believei that I recognize more than most gay non-Republicans how critical support from the GOP will be to hastening our full equality under the law. I regularly defend Log Cabin in part because I know how critical they will be to bringing the GOP around. In fact, that's precisely why I went on "such a tear": because I see Log Cabin mishandling what should be an enormous opportunity, not just to its own detriment but to the movement's as a whole.

    Kevin agrees with me that Log Cabin needs to raise the bar each election cycle, and yet he somehow misses that in reality LCR set the bar in roughly the same place as 2004 and only infinitesimally higher than way back in 2000.

    Eight years ago, Kevin reminds us, "Karl Rove did meet with Rich Tafel face-to-face at the 2000 GOP convention, and came to an agreement on a number of items in return for an endorsement, [but] he never -- EVER -- would have given a speech before our organization that convention week." Kevin doesn't let us in on what "items" Rove agreed to, and we've got no indication what "items" McCain's camp signed off on -- so comparison there is rather difficult.

    The only visible difference we can see between eight years ago and now is the brief public appearance made by two McCain campaign officials at Log Cabin meetings during the convention, as well as the official credentials LCR received in St. Paul. Do those differences really amount to raising the bar -- commensurate with the growth in support for gay rights in general, and among Republicans in particular? It certainly doesn't to me.

    Kevin portrays these mini-advances as achievements made in spite of the non-endorsement four years ago, bu I would argue that's got the politics backwards. The LCR refusal in 2004 served notice that an endorsement this time around was no sure thing, and the McCain camp had to worry about a repeat, along with a series of press appearances that to distract from wooing moderates and independents.

    Most disappointing for me, however, was Kevin's failure in almost 1,800 words to say anything at all about how McCain in reality failed to chin even the meager bar that he says Log Cabin set for presidential candidates this cycle: opposition to a federal marriage amendment.

    To make their case, Log Cabin and Kevin are still reaching back before this campaign season to a time when McCain fervently opposed an amendment as "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans." That's ancient history, as they know far too well. A fair and objective assessment is that McCain is at best "conditionally opposed" or, I would argue, "conditionally in favor" of amending the nation's founding document to ban states from marrying same-sex couples.

    As I've written until blue in the fingertips, McCain has been backing away from his opposition to a federal amendment throughout this campaign season, just as he backed away from condemning the Pat Robertsons of the party as "agents of intolerance." McCain's slow-motion flip-flop climaxed last month in pledge to support a federal marriage amendment if even one judge rules the notorious Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

    My issue with the Log Cabin endorsement isn't just the way it papers over what is supposed to be its line in the sand. I think those inside the Log Cabin bubble -- and those who spent years there -- underestimate their own potential to influence the party and the debate. Kevin would measure LCR's political power by the size of membership rolls orby the number of gay Republican voters.

    They're forgetting the percentage of committed party activists -- like Republican delegates -- and GOP-leaning who are sympathetic to gay rights.  Not to mention those who see scapegoating the gays as a sign of Republican intolerance and judgmentalism, however they feel about gay rights itself.

    If Log Cabin were to play it's P.R. cards more effectively, it could play a major role in defining whether Republican candidates -- at whatever level -- are perceived as hard core conservatives or those of the "compassionate" variety.

    That's why I think Kevin is off base in imagining Log Cabin would have been "declared finished" if it had "endorsed McCain by press release and gone home" to fight Proposition 8 in California. To the contrary, if Log Cabin had withheld its endorsement and done the media rounds to explain why, the media would have eaten it up -- just look at the press the hardcore Hillaryites got. The message would be clear thata candidate like McCain will pay a serious price for opposing every form of gay rights protection ever proposed, and backing away even from opposition to a federal amendment.

    Instead, I'm afraid, the take-away message for GOP politicians and operatives is the one I took last week: opposing our equality doesn't really matter, even if like McCain the record is grossly out of touch with Republicans generally, so long as they say a few placating words.

    September 07, 2008

    GNW Week in Review

    Posted by: Chris

    Here are the five biggest stories from Gay News Watch over the last week:

    1. Activists criticize McCain pick Sarah Palin on gay rightsActivists criticize McCain pick Sarah Palin on gay rights: QUICK LOOK: Republican Senator John McCain has selected Sarah Palin, Alaska's governor and a little-known conservative with a slim record on gay and AIDS issues, to be his running... (MORE)
    2. Gay Log Cabin Republicans endorse McCain-PalinGay Log Cabin Republicans endorse McCain-Palin: QUICK LOOK: Log Cabin Republicans, a group representing gay Republicans, endorsed Arizona Sen. John McCain ’s presidential bid today as the Republican National Convention in St... (MORE)
    3. Hurricane Gustav threatening Southern DecadenceHurricane Gustav threatening Southern Decadence: QUICK LOOK: As of Saturday morning, organizers of the annual gay Southern Decadence festival in New Orleans said all events are still scheduled to take place despite Hurricane... (MORE)
    4. Britain nearing its first openly gay Anglican bishopBritain nearing its first openly gay Anglican bishop: QUICK LOOK: An openly gay cleric is in line to become a bishop, in a move that could plunge the Anglican Communion into fresh crisis over homosexuality. The Very Rev Jeffrey John... (MORE)
    5. Top McCain strategist tells gays their 'day will come'Top McCain strategist tells gays their 'day will come': QUICK LOOK: Steve Schmidt, senior campaign strategist for the McCain campaign, stopped by a Log Cabin Republican luncheon Thursday to welcome the group to the Republican convention... (MORE)

    And here are a few of the most popular from the last week:

    • College wrestler admits fault in gay porn site scandalCollege wrestler admits fault in gay porn site scandal: QUICK LOOK: Two University of Nebraska-Lincoln athletes, senior Paul Donahoe and junior Kenny Jordan, were dismissed from the wrestling team Tuesday afternoon after posing nude for... (MORE)
    • Subway said to fire worker for gay adult video pastSubway said to fire worker for gay adult video past: QUICK LOOK: Gay porn star Kurt Wild, 22, claims he was fired from is day job at a Subway restaurant outside of St. Louis when a customer recognized him and threatened to boycott... (MORE)
    • Judge to say if jury learns suspects' porn-escort pastJudge to say if jury learns suspects' porn-escort past: QUICK LOOK: Will accused killers Harlow Cuadra and Joseph Kerekes be tried together or separately for the murder of Bryan Kocis in Dallas Township in January 2007? Can their history... (MORE)


    These were the five stories on Gay News Watch with the biggest buzz over the last seven days, along with some of the most popular stories from the last week. You can also view the stories with the biggest buzz factor from the last month or year, and the most popular from the last month or year.

    September 06, 2008

    Some questions for Bob Schieffer

    Posted by: Andoni

    Bob_schiefferNow that Sarah Palin has been nominated by the Republicans as their vice presidential candidate, she is nowhere to be found to answer the questions of reporters. Apparently the game plan is to keep her away from them until she can undergo a crash course on foreign issues and how to answer questions without tripping up. Most candidates for president or vice president learn this over a long career or if relatively new, during the long grueling presidential primary. Sarah is going to learn all this in two weeks. I don't want to be facetious, but I have significant executive experience. If I take a two week crash course, am I ready to be vice president?

    More seriously, since the press doesn't have the opportunity to ask Palin some of the burning questions, it should question the next best available person. That would be John McCain, who will just happen to be on CBS's Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer tomorrow.

    Bob Schieffer is a serious reporter. If he is so inclined he can get to the bottom of some of the most pressing Sarah Palin questions and as a result be a hero to other journalists. I know Bob is quite capable of coming up with his own questions, but here are just a few I would like asked to help clear things up:

    1. Senator, when you introduced Governor Palin as an agent of change who fights against earmarks and pork, did you know that she lobbied for the Bridge to Nowhere when she ran for governor and actually accepted many millions of dollars for it, working hand in hand with Senator Ted Stevens to get that money. She only said, "Thanks, but no thanks" after Congress killed the project and said if the bridge was to be built, the state would have to pay more and finish the project. Did you know that she is actively lobbying for another pork bridge project? Would you say this is someone who is against earmarks?

    2. Senator, when you selected Governor Palin were you aware that as mayor of Wasilla she hired a lobbying firm actually connected to Jack Abramhoff to bring lots of pork to her town and she was successful to the tune of $27 million, more than $1000 for every man, woman and child in that town? Does this sound like someone who fights against pork to you?

    3. You described Governor Palin as a fiscal conservative. Were you aware that when she became mayor her town had no debt load, but she left it with $19 million in long term debt? Is this a fiscal conservative in your opinion?

    4. Senator McCain, you said that Governor Palin had executive experience. Did you know that as mayor of Wasilla she borrowed money for a hockey rink, built roads to it, and built the rink only to discover that the land was not thoroughly researched for the city to receive clear title? As a result, the town was embroiled in years of litigation costing it an extra $1.3 million dollars. Furthermore, the rink was supposed to generate revenue, but to this day is running in the red. Is this an example of a good executive? If this were an executive of a small corporation, would you conclude that they should be promoted to be executive of a large corporation?

    5. Senator, when you introduced Governor Palin to America, most of America did not know her, but you vouched for her personally. You only met her once and vouched for her and her entire career. Can you tell America something to put our minds at ease that vouching for someone you only met once to possibly be president of the United States is not an irrational action?

    6. Finally, Senator, you and the other Republicans laughed approvingly when Governor Palin relayed the story that the private jet the state owned for the governor was too much, so she put it on eBay. Do you believe politicians riding around in private jets is something that should be scorned? And how do you reconcile getting mileage out of this story when you ride around in a private jet?

    Thank you very much, Senator.

    Addendum: I'll take wagers on how many times he invokes being a POW to evade answers to these questions.

    Some great ad ideas for Obama

    Posted by: Andoni

    I'm usually in bed by 11, so I TIVO the Daily Show with Jon Stewart every night and watch it the next day. Last night was their wrap up of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, and it was brilliant. If anyone from the Obama campaign was watching, there are at least two TV ads ready to go from the material Stewart put together last night.

    The first potential ad is right along the same lines they have been using -- linking Senator John McCain to President George W. Bush. It shows highlights of the acceptance speeches of each person, and makes them look like twins......word for work. Very powerful. The material for the potential ad begins at 4:25 into the clip and finishes at 6:00.

    The second clip has a lot of material and may be harder to boil down to a 30 second spot. However, it does nail the fact that McCain was one person in 2000 when he ran for president, but from 2006 to now, he morphed into an entirely different person. The real political meat begins at 3:15. Take a look.

    September 05, 2008

    What the Log Cabin endorsement means this time

    Posted by: Kevin

    Schmidtx240 DuhaimeAlthough Chris will slather the criticism on like layers of icing on a New Jersey Italian wedding cake, he gets credit for doling out the praise when it's due.  (Well, a bit more was due for the Log Cabin Romney ads, but I digress.)

    His post calling Log Cabin's endorsement of John McCain this week a "big mistake" was one of the longest he's ever posted, I think, and I can only speculate as to why he's been on such a tear about something that most observers saw coming far in advance.  (I would speculate that it was for good reasons, that Chris truly wanted more progress in the GOP, because I know as absolute fact that he doesn't want Log Cabin to fail.)  But I think Chris didn't have the context, the history and the real significance of Log Cabin's 2008 decision completely right, and that's where he missed the story.

    As he's now reported, the endorsement was warmly accepted by the campaign, which dispatched two of its very senior leaders in person -- and before the media -- to say so.  Mike DuHaime (l), the political director (and a Giuliani campaign alum) attended the announcement of the endorsement on Tuesday and gave remarks from the podium saying it was proof that McCain is running an inclusive campaign.  Then, senior strategist Steve Schmidt (r), the man seen as the driving force behind McCain's general election campaign, attended an event Thursday and was more personal, effusive and explicit in what he saw as the meaning of Log Cabin's endorsement, and of the broader issues facing gay people, as someone who knows about it first hand as the brother of a lesbian.  Schmidt called for Log Cabin to "keep fighting for what you believe in because the day is going to come."   The video is here.

    As Chris has already pointed out, this is very positive news.  And I'll add that the endorsement was woven into it completely.  Chris was right to say that the "bar must be lifted" on a consistent basis each election cycle, but he failed to grasp the context of where the bar actually was going into this election, and where it is now after the events in Minneapolis.

    Log Cabin is an organization that represents, at best, 800,000 to 1 million votes, or a fraction of a percent of the turnout in the last presidential election.  It is also the one group inside the GOP that grates more upon the better organized and more numerous Christian right than any other.  And this is a group that publicly and bitterly broke with its party's nominee in the last election four years ago, leaving its access and political capital highly depleted for the second Bush term. 

    The political price Log Cabin paid for its correct stand in 2004 against George W. Bush may have been the highest of any of its decisions in its history.  Already a target of extreme (and unceasing) attacks from the gay left, it was now cast out of the national GOP fold.  All the more an indicator of great bravery for a group so small in the big picture.  (Does anyone remember anything remotely similar contemplated in 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act and then bragged about it through campaign ads on Christian radio stations in Colorado, despite being miles ahead in opinion polls?) Measuring where "the bar" would be for Log Cabin as the campaign began last year, therefore, was where I think Chris started to get things wrong.

    As they set out with great hopes - despite having no ability to control events -- to fight their way back into the game in 2008, Log Cabin set a couple of basic bottom lines.  Support for the Federal Marriage Amendment was a non-starter, and Mitt Romney - for his 180-degree turn away from Log Cabin and supporting gay rights - would have to be punished and stopped from becoming the nominee.  And from that basis, they would seek every opportunity to build upward.

    By the time they pulled into Minneapolis, Romney was gone, all the men who backed or voted for the FMA in the Congressional vote were defeated.  The one man who voted -- and spoke on the floor -- against the FMA emerged the victor.  Any Log Cabin leader will tell you that, apart from playing a constructive role in stopping Romney, the organization was in no position after the 2004 breach to have a substantial impact on the primary vote at the ground level or in coalition with Republican national leaders.  (For this, their compelling pounce on Romney was a sign of the scrap that has always been in the group's DNA.)  In reality, the biggest opportunity to rebuild the blown-up bridges in a way that advanced Log Cabin's mission inside the party would be around the convention and the endorsement decision.

    If Log Cabin had merely shown up in Minneapolis, endorsed McCain by press release, and gone home saying they'd simply be focusing on the Proposition 8 fight in California, it would be clear signals that the 2004 action had been more damaging to their capacities inside the party than had been thought.  Chris would have certainly declared them finished, and it would be hard to argue against.  Some partisan gay Democrats would, of course, be cheering at such news; for purely petty and selfish reasons, they've wanted Log Cabin to fail and disappear for more than a decade.  Throughout the blogosphere (including in the comments on this very site) many gays openly call for Log Cabin to be "shunned", to be "silenced", to be "punished" or to have their right to speak, to assemble or even to vote taken away.  (The attack on the highly obscure Jonathan Crutchley was a perfect example of this mob mentality that does not, and has never existed, within Log Cabin in return.)

    But this didn't happen.  And it wasn't going to happen.  If you believe that the McCain campaign is captured by the Christian right, and that McCain himself is "gay-bashing" to win this election, there was no sense in, and absolutely nothing that either DuHaime or Schmidt could have possibly gained from, going publicly before Log Cabin's delegation and saying the things they said.  The backlash would have been far too severe, if those assumptions were true.  And yet, there you are.  It happened, and it was another first for a GOP presidential campaign.  While Karl Rove did meet with Rich Tafel face-to-face at the 2000 GOP convention, and came to agreement on a number of items in return for an endorsement, he never -- EVER -- would have given a speech before our organization that convention week.  And certainly not one with such a personal tone that connected directly to Log Cabin's "fight".

    And so far, a pin can be heard dropping in response from within the party.  In fact, a predominant theme of McCain's speech was "country before party."  And say what you want of Governor Sarah Palin, but she gained office by unseating an incumbent Republican governor -- and a member of GOP royalty in the state -- in a primary election.  That ought to give a hint as to how he might respond to a backlash.

    And while I could end up being wrong, I doubt there will be one.  Every Log Cabiner at the convention that I have contacted reported a level of warmth from more average delegates than at any other convention they ever attended.  The poll of the delegates which showed a remarkable level of support for gay marriage or civil unions was not a surprise to many gay Republicans there.  And Log Cabin got official credentials from the convention's host committee, had an official convention booth, had a hotel room block under their group's name with the RNC organizers, and had the national party provide them with sanctioned spaces for their events -- an absolute first for a group that has had to file lawsuits to be able to even have a pamphlet table at some state conventions.  That is a major contrast between McCain and many of the arch-conservative fiefs in the more difficult regions of the country.

    One other thing Chris mistakenly said over and over is that McCain "controlled" the delegates at the 2008 convention, and therefore could dictate the platform.  As I tried to explain once before, this is a misnomer, and a misreading of the de facto situation of "control" of any Republican National Convention.  It's no excuse for the condemnable platform that gets produced every four years.  But no nominee will ever "control" the GOP platform -- far from it -- until the delegate selection rules are changed in nearly all of the key states.  The state parties control the selection processes for delegates, and a long time ago the rules were fixed by a hard-core of far right activists to ensure that no matter who won a primary or a caucus, the delegates going to convention would be of the most hardline social conservative types, with the specific purpose of controlling the platform.  In 1996, Bob Dole tried to shine a microscopic beam of light on the abortion plank and was shot down hard; he then quipped that he hadn't read the final version and didn't intend to.  George W. Bush sent a platform draft to the 2000 convention that was scrubbed of much of the anti-gay language of the previous one, or softened notably.  An organized, but highly outgunned, group of Log Cabin and pro-choice allies tried to preserve the draft, but were mowed down on plank after plank and the bad stuff was loaded back in.  So, as Log Cabin spokesman Scott Tucker said adeptly this week, the platform "was not the hill we were going to die on."

    And wisely so.  That is a battle for later.  For now, Log Cabin has re-emerged from the disaster of the FMA and is re-booting their fight within the Republican Party with a new vigor and a new set of challenges to take on.  What they scored in return for their endorsement in the bigger context of where they came from is extraordinary, and due entirely to their undying persistence in moving forward no matter what gets thrown at them. 

    And I agree with McCain's most senior aide that "the day is going to come" for Log Cabin's fight to be won.

    Charlie Rangel's many homes problem

    Posted by: Andoni

    Rangel_houseNOTE UPDATE AT END (Pelosi calls for ethics investigation + new problems).

    John McCain isn't the only prominent politician to have a house problem. Now Democrat Charlie Rangel has a huge house problem with tax evasion implications.

    Last month The New York Times discovered that Rangel had four rent subsidized apartments in New York. No matter how you cut it, this is two more than any other ordinary individual is allowed to have. The story wreaked of favoritism by the developer because of Rangel's positon, and Rangel's explanations were lame.

    Today's New York Times  discloses that Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which writes the US Tax Code, bought a house in the Dominic Republic for which he received $75,000 rental payments, but never declared and never paid taxes on the income. Excuse me, but as someone who is responsible for the US Tax Code, he cannot claim ingnorance of the tax laws. He tried to explain this away with excuses that his wife was handling the investment property, the management company didn't send timely payments, and with the assertion that after all is said an done, he won't owe federal taxes because he also forgot to list it on his taxes to claim depreciation as a rental property which would offset the taxes owed.

    Come on Congressman. You don't list it on your taxes because you don't want the government to know about it. It's that plain and simple. As chair of the Ways and Means Committee (but probably only a ranking member when he bought the house), you should have known that you had to set up a mechanism for mortgage payments and rental income that would be within the US Tax Code. If you didn't know that, you should resign immediately from the committee because you are incompetent.

    The Internal Revenue Service needs to pursue this as they would against any other ordinary citizen. The IRS needs to be completely transparent on this so we are satisfied that he is not getting special treatment. If the IRS finds he was deliberately hiding income, he should go to jail like any other tax evader. There should also be a House Ethics Committee investigation (that will make two for him, one for his apartments in New York and now for his offshore house) and if found that he acted improperly, he should be removed from the House.

    Until this tax evasion issue is decided, he should step aside as chair of the Ways and Means Committee. His presence would just reek of impropriety. It would also be an election issue against the Democrats.

    So, it isn't just the Republicans who have a house problem. Now the Democrats do too, and in their case their case there is a good possibility that it is criminal. Even if John McCain doesn't know exactly how many houses he has, at least all of his appear to have been purchased and kept legally.

    UPDATE: Today's New York Times  reports that Rangel did not pay interest on his mortgage for this home for more than a decade because it was forgiven by the developer. This is also a big problem for Rangel. Although it is OK to give someone an interest free loan, the tax law says that the recipient has to declare the money saved as income. The thousands of dollars that he saved in interest now appears to be undeclared income, which again gives the appearance of tax evasion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows a crisis when she sees one and has called for an ethics investigation.

    In trying to follow the chain of events in the Times story today on this and other properties the Rangels own, it is quite confusing. In some years they list and report income from their properties and in others, they do not. Their excuse is that in some years the property lost money so there was no income to report. Huh? Losses are deductible and very useful on a tax return. If he was doing his own taxes and made these kinds of decisions, he has demonstrated that he should not chair or even be on the Ways and Means Committee. An accountant should have known better.

    I think Rangel is entering a box where the only two reasonable conclusions are 1.) he really doesn't understand the tax laws, or 2.) he was trying to hide investments and income. Maybe the fact that he did not declare losses in bad years (the ignorance argument) will save him from jail, but it supports conclusion #1 and he should not be on the Ways and Means Committee.

    As a side note, it is absolutely amazing, time after time, how a long established politicians can be coasting along in a career with nothing challenged, then one person gets pissed at something and reports it (his sweet rent controlled apartment deal in NY) and then the press starts looking a bit closer at the person, and the whole seam starts ripping apart.

    Should Sarah Palin be paying attention?

    McCain bests Palin from the podium

    Posted by: Chris

    Mccaincountryfirst I was more impressed than Andoni with John McCain's speech last night, although I agree that much of his rhetoric rings hollow considering how dismissive he's been toward gay civil rights.

    ("Education is the civil rights issue of this century"? School choice? Really? I favor it myself and loathe labor unions in general, but is he so blind toward the real civil rights movements out there -- targeting actual discrimination in the private sector and by our government itself?)

    Of course McCain's delivery was mediocre; speechifying is definitely not his strong suit, though he certainly stepped it up for prime time, as is the norm for nominees giving the big acceptance address.

    Unlike the partisan, dismissive tone set by Sarah Palin and, well, pretty much every other speaker I've heard this week, McCain was far less divisive. That's also to be expected, since the Palin pick has sealed the deal with his base and now he's reaching out for the independents and undecideds. It almost felt like the old John McCain, minus the courageous, stern warning of those days to the "agents of intolerance" within his own party.

    He even tried to set a more respectful tone toward the Dems…

    A word to Senator Obama and his supporters. We'll go at it -- we'll go at it over the next two months -- you know that's the nature of this business -- and there are big differences between us. But you have my respect and my admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us. We are fellow Americans, and that's an association that means more to me than any other.

    But if that was truly the message he wanted to send, he failed pretty miserably. For one thing, he just couldn't help re-using a line that struck me the first time I heard it as among the meanest personal attacks in recent times from one presidential nominee to another…

    I'm not running for president because I think I'm blessed with such personal greatness that history has anointed me to save our country in its hour of need.

    What a turn off, and what dissonance from his earlier profession of respect and admiration for Obama and his supporters.

    And if McCain really wanted to set a respectful tone for the campaign, he would have been much better off if the other speakers this week -- including his own running mate -- hadn't been so dismissive. He'd have been even better off if he'd followed Obama's lead and given his acceptance speech in a larger venue, with the general public present to drown out the rah-rah delegates.

    Their enthusiasm isn't the problem, of course. That's obviously to be expected. But I can't be the only one really and truly bothered by the way the delegates incessantly chant "USA! USA!" -- not because I love my country any less. I've yelled it myself when cheering on our athletes at the Olympics or last year here in Rio at the Pan Am Games. But in a partisan setting, and especially in response to partisan rhetoric, the message is clear: We're the true Americans; the other party isn't.

    Consider the McCain-Palin campaign's new motto: "Country First" That obviously echoes the ugly message the delegates are sending, and we've already seen in comments on this blog and elsewhere how his followers wield it like a patriotic sledgehammer. Why would "Country First" be the primary reason to elect McCain-Palin unless Obama-Biden were putting someone else -- presumably themselves -- ahead of country?

    Like Palin's, the speech last night was also light on specifics -- particularly ironic considering the grief Obama has gotten on that score. Maybe McCain doesn't have more to offer on the domestic front except lower taxes, school choice, tighter spending and drilling, drilling, drilling.

    The speech also ended on a low note for me, as McCain awkwardly semi-yelled "Fight with me! Fight with me!" over the roars of the crowd. I don't know if he recruited many new McCainiacs to "fight with him" with theatrics like that, but on the whole the speech was at least less of a turnoff than Palin's.

    (If you haven't already, check out the New York Times interactive feature that ties video of the speech to the transcript. It's a great way to see what was said.)

    McCain's brain hearts Log Cabin

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATE: The mainstream media is all over the story (here, here and here), so things may get very interesting...

    UPDATE: Now we have video, and Schmidt's remarks are very welcome.

    "We are the party of freedom," he said, citing Abraham Lincoln as the GOP's founder. "And as a party we strive to … reach that goal, and we'll keep fighting as a party to reach it in full. And I think over time it will be reached in full."

    I have to wonder if he or McCain will face backlash.

    (Hat tip: My more skeptical pal over at Good As You)

    My original post:

    More encouraging news out of the Republican convention:

    John McCain's senior campaign strategist Steve Schmidt showed up at a Log Cabin meeting to, in his words, "pay my respect and campaign’s respect to your organization and to your group":

    “Your organization is an important one in the fabric of our party,” said Schmidt, who many view as the new architect of the Republican Party.

    In his brief remarks, Schmidt weaved in a personal anecdote about his lesbian sister and her relationship to him, his wife, and his children. “On a personal level, my sister and her partner are an important part of my life and our children’s life,” he said. “I admire your group and your organization and I encourage you to keep fighting for what you believe in because the day is going to come.”

    Those are strong words, especially when he predicts "the day is going to come" that the GOP will come around on gay rights. Apparently Schmidt had read the polling that shows that the delegates to the Republican convention are actually out ahead of voters in supporting civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples.

    An Advocate story about Schmidt's remarks also reports that Log Cabin received official credentials from the convention host committee for the first time ever.

    Cheneys Still, given Schmidt's influential role, those words ring hollow since the McCain campaign went along with a Republican platform plank that backed the same federal marriage amendment the nominee himself supposedly opposes. And with inflammatory rhetoric, claiming it was necessary to "preserve our children's future."

    We've had eight years with the second most powerful man in the White House backing civil unions and supporting his lesbian daughter and her partner. The effect on policy was nil. It's long past time that the Republican powerful who "get it" to do something about it.

    If Scmidt is right, and he surely is, that our "day will come" even within the Republican party, what exactly are he and Dick Cheney and the rest doing about it?

    September 04, 2008

    McCain's speech didn't talk to me

    Posted by: Andoni

    Mccain_acceptance I just finished watching Senator John McCain's acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for president. Having watched other McCain speeches, I thought this was one of his better deliveries.

    The only point I will make is that his speech did not speak to me. He spoke in broad generalities about rights in the country, but I know he did not mean me. For instance, he said

    If you find fault with our country, make it a better one. … Enlist in our armed forces.

    Sorry, Senator, as much as I would like to, I can't because I'm gay. And you want it to stay that way, so don't tell me to join the armed forces. This doesn't apply to me or millions of others, and for you to suggest it knowing it excludes us is ignorant.

    He also advised viewers, "Defend the rights of the oppressed." Hey, as a gay man in the U.S. I consider myself oppressed by my government. Senator McCain doesn't support my rights as an oppressed person. This is meaningless hyperbole and hypocritical.

    Additionally, he asked the crowd, "Fight for the ideals and character of a free people." Again, I want to be free in this country, but I know he doesn't mean me because he ignores his followers who fight for me and ask him to fight for people like me.

    Finally, he concluded, "Fight for justice and opportunity for all. " Again, sounds good, but this rings hollow, too, because his history on justice for the LGBT community is just about non existent.

    So, in conclusion, Senator McCain gave a good speech, but said nothing to show that he understands my struggles, my fears, and my greatest hope as a citizen of this country. Very disappointing. He showed ignorance and no concern for my concerns.

    If you missed it, you can read his speech here.

    Tracy Flick for vice president

    Posted by: Chris

    SarahpalinconventionCount me among those not particularly impressed by Sarah Palin's speech last night at the Republican National Convention. I do understand why the delegates went ga-ga for her and why Kevin loved it.

    Considering all the hits she took in her short time in the spotlight, the feisty speech served notice she can give as good as she gets. Palin is an engaging public speaker, certainly more effective than John McCain and those who preceded her at the podium last night.

    For Republican partisans and others turned off (or envious) of Barack Obama and his adoring masses, the speech was a clear home run. A woman's softer delivery is better suited for using humor to mock and belittle because it doesn't come off as mean-spirited -- so long as it isn't shrill.

    Annrichardsconvention To that extent, Palin's dismissive tone about an opponent she seemed to pity more than dislike harkened back to Ann Richards' legendary stemwinder against George H.W. Bush at the 1988 Democratic convention. ("Poor George, he can't help it if he was born with a silver foot in his mouth.") Then and now, the anti-elitist rhetoric was the perfect red meat for energizing the base.

    I was a Republican back in those days but at least interested in what the other side had to say. I remember laughing along with Richards -- how could you not like her? But in the end, all those raucous applause lines Richards delivered so well had done little to convince undecided voters to ditch Bush (despite his frighteningly unqualified running mate), much less pull the lever for Michael Dukakis. I would say the same about last night.

    That's my sense about Palin's speech, which included surprising little substance about the economic issues that will decide the election.  She did, at least, come off as a more formidable campaigner than Dan Quayle, though she wind up as tarnished by scandal as Geraldine Ferraro.

    Tracyflick What's more, Sarah Palin is no Ann Richards. Last night at least, she came off half as genuine and twice as smug. Andrew Sullivan absolutely hit the nail on the head when he compared Palin to Tracy Flick, the annoyingly smirky candidate for student body president that Reese Witherspoon played so brilliantly in "Election." (Speaking of annoying, it really rubbed me the wrong way to see Cindy McCain chortling along to Palin's shots at Obama, the supposed elitist. Talk about someone born with a silver foot in her mouth.)

    If that seems like way too many comparisons, it's because Palin remains an empty vessel at this point, partly because she's still unwilling to submit to tough questioning by the "media elite." (This weekend's Sunday talk shows will feature McCain on "Face the Nation," Obama on "This Week," and Joe Biden on "Meet the Press." Notice anyone missing?)

    Time will tell if I was off-base in my first reaction, thinking McCain had "blown the election" by selecting someone so clearly unqualified. At this point, I agree with those (including conservatives) who point out the Palin pick ultimately says less about her than it does McCain's reckless, knee jerk approach to decision-making.

    Karl Rove and Bill O'Reilly

    Posted by: Chris

    We already knew that Bill O'Reilly is a blowhard who is all heat and no light. (Apologies to my dad, who's a big fan.) And we knew that Karl Rove was the type of political operative willing to say anything and do anything to win an election.

    But rarely are we treated to such clear-cut evidence about both, much less presented so brilliantly.


    Last night's lies

    Posted by: Andoni

    Lie_detectorYou know, I'm really getting tired of the party that lied to us repeatedly over the past 8 years continuing to do so. Do they think we're stupid? I guess we'll see on November 4.

    In my comments to Kevin's post "Take that, bitches" I said I thought Sarah Palin's speech last night contained lots of half truths and several outright lies. I got angry listening to all the great sounding, but demonstrably untrue statements. They are lying to the American people again, just like they did at all those news conferences about Iraq, WMD's, yellowcake, Sadam Hussein connected to 9-11, torture, rendition, etc. Have they no shame? I guess the last 8 years proves that they do not.

    I was in the process of going over the text of her speech word by word to point out the lies. However I just discovered a Huffington Post piece  from the AP that examines not only what Palin said, but other speakers as well. It does a pretty good job of saying what I was going to say, so I link it here.

    The bottom line is that the Republicans believe that the road to victory this November is a continuation of lying to the American people. I just hope that enough Americans have wised up by now.

    Kool Aid?

    Posted by: Andoni

    KoolaidmanUPDATE AT END.

    I would like to tell you about one of my aunts. She's a life long Republican and social conservative. It's very unpleasant at family gatherings because she has such strong opinions that if you say something counter to her beliefs, she will take your head off. Everyone knows this and to keep the peace we stay away from her trigger topics.

    One of her long held beliefs is that sex outside of marriage is a sin and she will not condone it. She will actively condemn any couple that is with child before the wedding and she will not attend the wedding. We have had a few such cases in our extended family and to listen to what my aunt has to say about these people is embarrassing. She's good with quoting the Bible, she blames the parents of these kids, and makes sure we all know God condemns these people.

    So you can imagine my shock to find out that my aunt loves and supports Sarah Palin and her entire family, in spite all the recent revelations.

    When I pointed out the obvious, she told me that God really loved Sarah Palin and her family. However, when I mentioned other people who had a similar history, her answer was well that is different. That's the best she could come up with.

    It reminds me of the abrupt change of most of the conservative commentators whose views I thought I knew. When they started writing about Sarah Palin, their long held positions went out the window.

    It's also similar to the Bush v Gore Supreme Court case. Many of the justices in the majority on that decision abandoned long held positions and beliefs, to make a one time only decision to ascertain Bush became president, irregardless of their principles, constitutional law, or precedent.

    This is why I'm so sad to see what is going on.

    UPDATE: I just found a great video clip from Jon Stewart's The Daily Show to illustrate my point. Check it out here.


    September 03, 2008

    Take that, bitches

    Posted by: Kevin

    Palinrnc Tonight, I came in after a solid 36 hours of work (in the real world, where I have a job) to Mitt Romney droning through a speech that appeared to be written in 1980.  Thank God this was his exit from the stage for now, hopefully for good.

    Then I saw Rudy Giuliani speak, and was reminded why I fought, and marched, and campaigned, and bled for that man in 1993 and 1997 in New York's gutter politics with the kind of energy a 20-something activist has plenty of to spare.

    And then the speech of the night.  I spoke to my 68 year-old mother, a registered independent, who was born in New York and lives in a swing state today.  She voted for Hillary in 2000, and again backed her this year.  She was in love.  My sister, who lives around the corner from Mom, who is Palin's age, is a soccer-hockey-baseball-wrestling mom who sleeps about 5 hours a night and drives a minivan, and was on her feet.  My dad, the only registered Republican of the bunch of them, who said to my horror in 1984 that a woman could never handle being President, said he thinks the "other three should step aside and let her do it."

    I say this purely as someone who did politics and campaigns for a decade, and not even a voter or a white guy or a right-handed vegetarian or a homosexual or an itinerate anti-car pedestrian: from what many very clever Democrats (and some temporarily whacked-out bloggers) have done to turn her into a monster, and what some marginally lunatic trolls on the internet have tried to do to her children, the speech given moments ago by Sarah Palin ought to send a chill down your spine tonight.  She represents an America you apparently don't realize is out there, and you'd better get with the program if you don't want to blow yet another election.  This is not Dan Quayle you're dealing with.  That's obvious now.

    And aside from everything that has been said about her record (and what yet might be said by her on the campaign trail), and this was only round one of a two-month long campaign ahead, I can tell you -- I agreed with every word, comma and period in that speech.  I am really, really undecided now.

    More later.  I'm on fumes, and I'm going to bed.  (Chris, you'll have to wait for the tome on the LCR endorsement.  But I think I've hit some of the points already right here.  We'll talk about the issues in a bit, but read through the blogosphere and you'll see why about a million gay Republicans feel a kinship with Sarah Palin tonight.  Emotion cuts both ways, ladies.)

    GOP delegates out in front on unions!

    Posted by: Chris

    Since I've been pretty harsh on Log Cabin for endorsing the McCain-Palin ticket, I feel especially obliged to point out some positive developments in these early days of the Republican National Convention.

    By far the most impressive was some polling data that got buried in the updates to my post on the LCR nod. According to a CBS-New York Times survey of the Republican delegates, fully half (well, 48%) of the delegates support either gay marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples.

    Here's my homemade chart that breaks down the percentages among delegates and voters from each party. It's clearer that really civil unions are the option that the GOP delegates go for, but that's not the real shocker:

    Cbs_nytimes_poll_delegates What truly surprised me is that the delegates to the Republican convention are actually out ahead of the GOP voters on relationship recognition for same-sex couples (shown in yellow highlight).

    Civil unions register 15 percentage points higher support among Republican delegates than among the party's voters, and the combined support for either marriages or civil unions register 10 points higher among delegates than voters.

    On the one hand, it's incredibly encouraging to see that level of support among Republican delegates for marriage or its legal equivalent for same-sex couples. This should come as a wake-up call to those on the left who consider the GOP to be a lost cause on our issues.

    On the other hand, it should come as a wake-up call to Log Cabin that it's high time to raise the bar on its expectations from presidential hopefuls, since fully half the party's delegates are already there on the issue.

    Before gay Democrats feel too comfy, however, they need to consider raising the bar themselves. With a majority (55%) of the party's delegates supporting full marriage equality and half of all Democratic voters feeling likewise, there is another disconnect there with the party's (viable) presidential candidates, none of whom were willing to go the distance on full marriage equality.

    (Hat tip: Marc Armbinder)

    A few other positive tidbits:

    RNC's Shrinking Violet (ok, Lavender)

    Log Cabin announced that about two dozen openly delegates and alternates (out of about 2,400 total) are attending this week's Republican convention in Minneapolis. That sounds like good news, but it's only one-third the number from just four years ago, when there were about 40. (Some 277 out GLBT delegates -- out of 4,400 total -- were selected for the Democratic convention, for those of you keeping count at home.)

    Rakegayguide Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Gays?

    I know I said this post would feature positive news from the Republican convention, but I just can't help myself on this one:

    The Virginia delegation to the Republican National Convention canceled their order of The Rake magazine's "Secrets of the City" guide because it includes a section for gays and lesbians. The publication is a guide to various attractions in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and the gay section contains non-sexual information about local bars and events.

    The campaign for Virginia's Lt. Governor Bill Bolling ordered 150 of the guides to give to Virginia delegates as gifts when they arrived in the Twin Cities. But after reviewing the guide and finding it had a six-page section for gays and lesbians, they canceled their order, said AJ Kiefer, The Rake's advertising director.

    "We need to cancel the order for 150 of the 'Secrets of the City' guidebooks, Melissa Busse, Bolling's political director, wrote in an email to The Rake. "Upon looking at it, though, having a section dedicated solely to GLBT will be a BIG problem for many of our folks. We simply can't hand them out."

    Actually, this does qualify as good news. I can't imagine how those on the right could possibly make themselves look more foolish. Makes you wonder why exactly they were so afraid that their delegation might learn where the gay hot spots are…

    Gaypatriot Dan Does Dallas (ok, Minneapolis)

    A handful of gay bloggers got credentials to cover the Democratic National Convention -- Andy Towle (Towleroad), Daniel DeRito (Thought Theater) and Pam Spaulding, Russ Belville and (my favorite!) Autumn Sandeen from Pam's House Blend.

    But it's pretty fantastic that Dan Blatt (Gay Patriot West of the Gay Patriot blog) was awarded credentials as an out gay blogger covering the GOP confab.

    I had the pleasure of meeting Dan at the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association convention in San Diego last year, and came away very impressed. He's a very fun and engaging guy, and my jaw was agape at how he can bang out on-the-spot posts in the time it takes me to form my thoughts on what I might have to say.

    He's already made some interesting observations (here and here) on what it's like to be an openly gay blogger in the belly of the beast .

    Kolbe_1 Jim Kolbe's Big Blind Item

    Jim Kolbe first came out while serving as a Republican congressman from Arizona when he thought he was about to be outed by the Advocate and gay activists who were angry that he voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (a vote he finally recanted last year). So it's a bit surprising (and fun) to see him engaging in a bit of public gossip about closeted party brethren still serving.

    In a well-received speech at Log Cabin's Big Tent Event yesterday, Kolbe remarked on the fact that his retirement in January last year left no openly gay Republicans in Congress:

    “Don’t worry, there are others there,” Kolbe said of gays in the House. “We just need to make them feel more comfortable.”

    You taking notes, Mike Rogers? Er, let's hope not.

    Less fun was Kolbe's full-throated endorsement of John McCain, based in part on the reaction the Arizona senator had back in '96 to Kolbe's big gay news:

    Kolbe described confiding his sexual orientation years ago to McCain, who he said cut him off and held up his hands. “None of that makes any difference,” Kolbe quoted McCain as saying. “You were my friend yesterday and you’ll be my friend tomorrow.”

    Neilgiuliano That reaction is to McCain's credit, of course, and I remember him issuing a public statement that same year when my good buddy Neil Giuliano came out while serving as mayor of Tempe, Ariz. You may recognize the name because Neil has been doing a bang-up job since 2005 running the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

    If only the partisan hacks on the Human Rights Campaign board had selected Neil instead of a certain someone earlier that very same year. (Just kidding with the "hacks" comment, of course. Kevin's turn of phrase is still ringing in my ears. Not kidding with the partisan part, though.)

    Stevegunderson FYI, CQ Politics erroneously reported that Kolbe is the only openly gay Republican ever in Congress, forgetting Wisconsin Rep. Steve Gunderson, who served from 1981 to 1997, and was outed on the floor of the House in 1994 by GOP blowhard Bob Dornan (R-Calif.) in 1994.

    Whatever happened to Gunderson anyway? He was the guest speaker at my first ever Log Cabin meeting, about 14 years ago now, and I'll admit to coming away a bit crushed out. Anybody out there help out with a "where is he now"?

    Barack really is one of us!

    Posted by: Chris

    Barack Obama makes history as not only the first black presidential nominee, but the first with two dads! Those Log Cabin boys must be feeling pretty darn foolish right about now!


    Somewhere in Washington, Ted Koppel is turning over in his, er, bed. Hair perfectly intact, natch.

    Way to go, TMZ. (Hat tip: Ben Smith/Politico)

    September 02, 2008

    Log Cabin's big McCain mistake

    Posted by: Chris

    UPDATES embedded and at the end of the post. Be sure to refresh your browser because I've added in quite a lot.


    Is political insanity running rampant among Republicans these days?

    First, John McCain threw good sense to the wind and tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate, even though she is untested and astonishingly unqualified to be one septuagenarian heartbeat away from the presidency.

    Now Log Cabin joins in the fall foolishness by going forward with an endorsement of the McCain-Palin ticket without even waiting to ask, much less get answers, about the Alaska governor’s unknown views on a range of issues important to gay Americans. We only learned today, for example, that she opposes hate crime laws.

    (UPDATE: LCR told Reuters it is taking "a wait and see approach with Gov. Palin about her views on gay issues." Huh? A bit late for that at this point.)

    My understanding is that Mike DuHaime, the McCain campaign's political director, thanked Log Cabin from the podium today at the group's luncheon. That's encouraging, though let's see if there's any acknowledgment from the podium of the convention itself. Then again, why wouldn't the political director say thanks? The LCR nod helps confuse voters into believing McCain is a "compassionate conservative" on social issues, and he had to do next to nothing to get it.

    (UPDATE: DuHaime told Congressional Quarterly the Log Cabin endorsement is "very helpful" because McCain is "running an inclusive campaign." I rest my case.)

    It’s as if our gay Republican friends forgot the basic politics of the carrot and the stick. Now that McCain and Palin are happily chomping away on the endorsement carrot that Log Cabin could have kept dangling in front of them, all they’re left with is the stick. With apologies to my friends among their number, including my beloved co-blogger Kevin, gay Republicans aren’t exactly known for carrying a big stick.

    With the Log Cabin endorsement in hand, the pressure is off Palin to commit either publicly or privately to what some accounts suggest is her “openness to anti-discrimination legislation.” If McCain is elected, inside support from Palin might be the best shot at avoiding a veto of workplace protection, since the “inclusive” senator from Arizona has voted against such legislation multiple times.

    Cynics will no doubt see the rushed endorsement as a desperate ploy by Log Cabin to gain entree into the GOP’s “big tent,” a concept that gay and pro-choice Republicans have demonstrated a much greater commitment to than has the rest of the party.

    Ridgeliebermanmccain Witness how McCain picked Palin after he was forced to bypass his first two choices, Tom Ridge and Joe Lieberman, because social conservatives vowed a floor fight over their selection solely because Lieberman is pro-gay and both favor abortion rights.

    This two-issue litmus test gives no credit to the eminent qualification and political advantages of both: Ridge, a former Homeland Security secretary, was twice elected governor of Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state, and Lieberman, a longtime Connecticut senator, was Al Gore’s running mate and has broad appeal among independents, conservative Democrats and Jewish voters.

    Yet these same conservatives are ecstatic about Palin despite her obvious weaknesses because she chose not to abort her fifth child after learning he’d be born with Down’s Syndrome. (It also mattered not that this special-needs child is still an infant and requires far greater attention than Palin could give as vice president or president.)

    (UPDATE: After reading the early comment train to this post, I officially regret including the above parenthetical about Palin's infant son. Not because I think I was wrong, but because it's a total tangent from the rest of the post.)

    Pete Kingma, Log Cabin’s board chair, defended the endorsement by claiming McCain enjoyed “overwhelming support” among members. Listening to the grassroots is a good thing, and no doubt some gay Republicans will conclude that non-gay issues outweigh McCain's opposition to every form of gay rights legislation ever introduced at any level of government. But a record like that ought to preclude official backing from a gay rights group like Log Cabin.

    The national board's decision not to endorse President Bush four years ago divided Log Cabin's members and donors, even though he had pushed for a federal marriage amendment. Even so, a rushed decision to satisfy internal critics who insist on a litmus test based on party affiliation is exactly what Log Cabin has for years rightly criticized the Human Rights Campaign and gay Democrats of doing.

    Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon insists McCain earned the nod by opposing Bush’s marriage amendment:

    Sen. McCain showed courage by bucking his own party’s leadership and the president – twice voting against the amendment. He gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, calling the amendment "antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans."

    Sammon’s statement is most remarkable more for what it leaves out — for one, McCain’s opposition was entirely based on states’ rights, not support for legal recognition of same-sex couples. He even appeared in TV ads backing an amendment to his home state’s constitution that was so extreme – banning gay marriage, civil unions, domestic partnerships and even D.P. benefits – that Arizona voters rejected it back in 2006.

    Sammon also neglects to mention that for awhile now McCain has been backing away from his opposition to a federal amendment, and he pledged last month to back an amendment if even one judge rules the notorious Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.

    McCain’s motive is transparently political, considering that DOMA itself is profoundly “antithetical” to states’ rights, since it requires the federal government to completely disregard those states that recognize gay relationships, and allows sister states to do likewise.

    It’s no surprise, then, that even though McCain controls an overwhelming majority of delegates, he went along with a Republican platform plank saying that to “preserve our children’s future,” the country needs a federal amendment to block marriage and “other arrangements equivalent to it,” meaning civil unions.

    When McCain completes his inevitable, slow motion flip-flop, he will actually be worse on gay issues than President Bush.

    (UPDATE: Sammon told Reuters that "Sen. McCain is no George Bush when it comes to gay issues. We are much more optimistic and enthusiastic about Sen. McCain." Why is that? President Bush has never said how he feels about non-discrimination and hate crimes legislation. Despite veto threats from his staff, there was some indication he might have signed ENDA or the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill if they had passed the Democratic Congress after certain limiting amendments.)

    Log Cabin has made a big deal of its “productive” relationship with the GOP nominee's campaign, which they hope will translate into White House access if McCain is elected. Declining to endorse might risk that door slamming shut, but going along to get along sends the more dangerous signal that opposition on the issues doesn’t matter so long as Republicans answer the phone when Log Cabin calls.

    NOTE: Sammon offered one other justification that's worth noting, praising McCain as "a different kind of Republican" from those who "use divisive social issues in an effort to win elections." That whopper is deserving of its own post, so stay tuned for that…

    UPDATES: Sammon exaggerated McCain's record even more in an interview with CNN:

    He’s a very inclusive Republican, a different type of Republican. At the same time we have honest disagreements on some issues.

    "Very inclusive"? "Some issues"?! Does Sammon qualify as a "partisan hack" at this point, Kevin? ;)

    And this in the same CNN report from Log Cabin member David Valkema, a director of a fine arts foundation in Chicago:

    He's teachable.

    Exactly where does Valkema see that in McCain's decades-long record of opposing every form of gay rights legislation?

    Have these good folks forgotten entirely how they gave George W. Bush the benefit of the doubt back in 2000 and got royally burned as a result? Do they realize how much more they are giving to McCain than he has or will give back to them?

    Shame on Reuters, by the way, for reporting Sammon's praise for McCain "not inflaming passions around the issue of gay marriage," then noting "proposals to ban same-sex unions will be on the ballot … in California and Florida" and failing to mention McCain gave his public support for the California measure.

    I've also yet to see a single MSM press report that notes how McCain has backed away from his opposition to the federal marriage amendment.

    This from Roll Call:

    The nod is significant not just because it allows the party a semblance of unity between its socially conservative and moderate wings but also because Log Cabin is announcing its decision earlier than it has in any recent presidential election. … Four years ago, the group made its non-endorsement [of Bush] by the end of September. In 2000 and 1996, the group endorsed Bush and former Sen. Robert Dole (R-Kan.), respectively, after the GOP conventions.

    With this history in mind, Log Cabin's early nod this time around is even less defensible -- especially since Sammon says they're taking "a wait and see" attitude toward Palin.

    This important nugget courtesy of Marc Armbinder:

    A CBS News / New York Times poll finds that 48% of Republican delegates support either gay marriage or civil unions for gay people.

    With very encouraging numbers like that, Log Cabin ought to have raised the bar on what it takes to win their backing, especially considering McCain opposes absolutely any form of recognition, including largely symbolic domestic partnership registries by local governments and not-so-symbolic D.P. benefits by any level of government or public universities and the like.

    Jimmy LaSalvia, director of programs and policy for the Log Cabin Republicans, told Reuters  yesterday in the video interview below that Sarah Palin's "priorities are our priorities," and "if being anti-gay was a priority for her, we would know about it."

    This is the problem with rushing to endorse, Jimmy, since Palin actually indicated in a 2006 questionnaire to the conservative Eagle Forum that her No. 2 priority as governor would be "preserving the definition of 'marriage' as defined in our constitution." That definition, of course, was established by a 1998 ballot measure that amended the constitution to overturn a preliminary ruling by the Alaska Supreme Court that excluding gay couples from marriage violated equal protection.

    LaSilvia also credited Palin (in a mainstream press interview, no less) for her D.P. benefits veto without any mention of her reluctance to do so, her opposition to any benefits for same-sex couples or her support for yet another constitutional amendment to accomplish what the bill she vetoed legally could not.

    Alas, the "fall foolishness" continues unabated…

    Another video interview, this time Patrick Sammon on CNN.  It's actully less bad than the other MSM interviews Log Cabin has done, but that's not saying much. Sammon corrects anchor Soledad O'Brien's suggestion that McCain supports a federal marriage amendment but (a) never answers her central question about why the nominee who controls the delegates allowed a platform plank to contradict his supposedly fervent opposition, and (b) never acknowledges how McCain has backed away from his opposition on the issue.

    The big problem here, of course, is that Sammon does a huge disservice to gay rights by misrepresents McCain as a "much different Republican" than President Bush, when in fact he is worse than the president on issues besides the amendment (i.e., non-discrimination and hate crime laws, and Bush has spoken somewhat approvingly of civil unions, which McCain would ban, along with domestic partnerships and D.P. benefits by public entities). Hat tip: Rebecca Armendariz/Blade Blog

    More Palin problems

    Posted by: Andoni

    Mccain_eyes_shut Drip, drip, drip.

    When Senator John McCain chose and then introduced Sarah Palin as his running mate in Ohio, he stressed how she was a reformer who fought against Washington pork, just as he had. Well, in addition to the "bridge to nowhere" pork she sought and then accepted money for as governor which I posted  on yesterday, today's Washington Post  details another $27 million in earmarks (pork) which she lobbied for and got as mayor of her small town of Wasilla when she was mayor. That's over $1000 for every resident.

    As mayor, Palin was so into federal pork, that she hired a lobbying firm to get federal money. This is not the modus operandi of a fighter against pork.

    McCain introduced Palin as his compatriot against wasteful government spending. There is nothing wrong with that so long as it is true. But what we have is a myth. They are trying to tell us that red is blue and think that we are too stupid to notice.

    As I noted in Reckless and hypocritical, McCain's decision to pick Palin was hurried and based on impulsive instinct, not careful judgment. Today's New York Times reveals just how little vetting Palin underwent before McCain announced her.

    In the most important decision to date for him in this campaign, McCain demonstrated how he makes important decisions. It is not a model I want to see for anyone sitting in the Oval Office.

    September 01, 2008

    Sarah Palin's lies

    Posted by: Andoni

    Palinmccain UPDATE at end of post.

    It's been only 3 days since Senator John McCain introduced us to his chosen running mate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. During that time several public lies have come to light vis a vis Palin's political career.

    The first lie relates to her words after McCain introduced her in Dayton, when she said she opposed the infamous "bridge to nowhere." She claimed that opposition as the basis to portray herself as a Republican who opposes earmarks or pork projects. The problem is that Palin strongly supported the "bridge to nowhere" when she was running for governor in 2006 and then accepted money for it. Only after the bridge got negative publicity and Congress decided not to continue funding it, did she voice opposition to the project, but in more of an expedient "you can't cut our funding, we don't want it" manner. Of note is that she gladly took the pork money already funded for the bridge and built a road to where the bridge was supposed to be. Andrew Sullivan jokingly calls this the "the road to nowhere."

    The second lie relates to her attempt to get her brother in law, a state trooper going through an ugly divorce with Palin's sister, fired , using her influence as governor. She initially denied any involvement of her office in the incident, that is until tapes surfaced linking in her office to the attempt.The whole episode is under investigation and a full report is expected a few days before the November election. Of note, is that Palin fired the state police chief after he refused to summarily dismiss her brother in law. In my mind this is a real abuse of power. The circumstances of what her brother in law did are irrelevant. If what he did was wrong or bad, she should have used legal means to challenge him.

    Finally, is the accusation that the Trisomy 21 (Down's Syndrome) baby that Sarah Palin and her husband have publicly proclaimed as their 5th child is really the child of her daughter Bristol. (It was just announced today that Bristol is pregnant as a 17 year old unmarried teen.) See UPDATE at the end.

    However the facts eventually turn out for this Trisomy 21 baby - and at the moment with the UPDATE it looks like the baby is hers, at best Sarah Palin showed utter disregard for the welfare of her "about to be born child."

    You can read all the circumstantial evidence that the baby is really Bristol's, not Sarah's here. Note in UPDATE this story has been walked back.

    Let's assume Sarah's story is true. According to Sarah her water broke at 4 am while she and her husband were in Dallas for a conference. As a physician, I can tell you statistically, that for a 5th pregnancy, when the water breaks the baby is coming very very soon and you should get to a hospital ASAP. Additionally, this was a high risk birth because it was a special needs baby (they knew this). To complicate matters further, the water broke early. Certainly they should have gone to a tertiary care medical center that has a neonatal intensive care unit. Dallas has many hospitals that fit this bill. But did Sarah go to a Dallas hospital? No, she decided to give her speech later that morning. After that, she got on an airplane and flew 8 hours to go to Alaska.

    Ask any obstetrician if someone whose water breaks in the 8th month and is carrying a special needs baby should get on an airplane and fly 8 hours, and he will tell you that that would be reckless behavior. It could also be considered malpractice (by the mother) ........ against the baby. These are not the actions of parents who claim to love a baby so much.

    The plane landed in Seattle (which also has great hospitals) and then in Anchorage. Instead of going to the closest hospital in Anchorage which is a tertiary care facility, she drove 45 minutes more to go to a rural, non tertiary care hospital that does not have the facilities that she could need due to the early term birth or the special needs a Trisomy 21 child might have.

    So what's going on here? Is this "right to lifer" totally irresponsible with the life she is about to give birth to and claim they love and want so much.....or is she hell bent on rendezvousing at the rural hospital where her daughter is in labor or has already given birth so Sarah, not the daughter can be the one to emerge from the hospital with the new baby?

    From a medical point of view if Sarah's story is true, she acted totally inappropriately for the welfare of her baby. Her actions do not match her professed words of love for that child. But from a logical point of view, her irrational actions give credance to the rumors that flew on the Internet.

    UPDATE: Fellow blogger Kevin emailed me that the Daily Kos considers the story that the Trisomy 21 baby is really Bristol's ended with the surface of a photo of a clearly pregnant Governor Palin. So my post should be re-titled "2 Lies and one bad behavior." Also, Barack Obama has issued a statement today that he does not want the privacy of Bristol invaded after her mother Sarah Palin today announced that Bristol is pregnant. He said people's family's and people's children are off limits.

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