Sunday, December 30, 2007

Attack of the Moderates: This Time It's For Real?

Consider me somewhat of a curmudgeon, especially when it comes to politics these days. I used to believe that if moderates got active, things would change.

Five years of being involved in moderate Republican groups trying to get people interested and involved have tempered my idealism and made me somewhat bitter.

So, when I perused Jeremy Dibbell's blog (nice to see him posting again)today talking about a potential third party bid, I was a bit skeptical.

I still am, but I also think there is something to this.

David Broder reports in today's Washington Post, that Michael Bloomberg, the current mayor of New York who left the GOP this past summer and is now and independent is gathering a list of moderates in both parties in Oklahoma on January 7th. At first glance, this reminded me of Unity '08, the movement that is backed by old politicos that want to create a unity ticket for President. I've been leery of that movement since it seems to have no other goal than to have everybody place nice. There isn't any there there.

However, as Broder reports, this movement has some heft because of the names it carries. On the GOP side, we have people like former Gov. Christie Todd Whitman and former Senator John Danforth who co-lead the Republican Leadership Council; Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska; former Congressman Jim Leach of Iowa; former Senator and Defense Secretary William Cohen and Susan Eisenhower, a political consultant and the granddaughter of Ike.

On the Dems, we have former Senators Sam Nunn, David Boren, Chuck Robb and Bob Graham.

These aren't second string political players from the 70s, but politicians who were recently in power and have continued to have a role in public affairs.

Does this have any staying power? I don't know. Again, we have seen movements like this before, but this one has some heavy star power. What I have a problem believing is seeing Bloomberg as the candidate. I don't know, but he doesn't seem the type that could propel a centrist movement. I think at this time, we want a healer who can bring people together, but we also want someone that is a bit more charismatic than Bloomberg is. We need a leader, and he seems to much like a manager.

That said, there is someone in that group that could be a great consensus candidate and could rouse passions for a unity government: Chuck Hagel.

Hagel has the fire in belly and this would be a second chance to go after the prize after basically turning it down in March. Hagel could get enough support from Republicans, Democrats and Independents to make this movement an attractive option.

Here are what some others say:

From PoliGazette:

What many American moderates have hoped for - for years now - could very well happen: it seems that Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg has teamed up with moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats. This group of people - who are in contact with Unity08 - has talked to several Republican and Democratic leaders, basically telling them, according to Broder at least, that if the Democrats and Republicans don’t nominate someone who reaches across the aisle, they’ll prepare an independent run.

Is that scary for both Republicans and Democrats?


Bloomberg is a billionaire. If he starts spending his own money on a massive third party campaign he’ll pose a threat to the nominees of both parties. He could, as Americans call it, be a “spoiler.” A spoiler for who? Who knows. Could be for both in theory. In other words, Republicans and Democrats would rather not take the risk. Not only that, R’s and D’s also realize that if both parties nominate extremes (say Edwards and Huckabee) many Americans will consider voting for a third party candidate.

Especially if this third party candidate is backed by several prominent politicians from both parties and has hundreds of millions of dollars to spend for his campaign.

From Moderate Voice:

The American political process — if you include the way campaigns are run, negative campaigning, the tone of talk radio and some aspects of the blogosphere — may have disgusted enough people so that a candidate who doesn’t have the same predictable reactions, whose utterances don’t elicited the all-knowing smug wink and nod from those TV analyst talking heads and isn’t out of a politico cookie-cutter could have REAL appeal.

It looked like it could happen for Ross Perot in 1992, until he withdrew and jabbered about Republican operatives planning to disrupt his daughter’s wedding. By the time time Perot got in again, he had irretrievably lost Big Mo.

If Bloomberg does get in, many Americans open to a new option will be holding their breath — hoping he doesn’t have an engaged daughter.

At this point, I am still not holding my breath. This could just crash and burn. But it is worth keeping an eye. It would be nice to see a true centrist revolution take off.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I'll Take "Boring"

It's been a while since I've posted something vaguely political- I've been taking a break from writing directly about politics, and I've been spending more time writing about that other topic you don't talk about at parties: religion.

But something from a fellow blogger that has been also lying low has offered a post that has made me decide to come back to poliblogging, if only for a short time.

In that post, Alan Stewart Carl poo-poos the Des Moines Register's endorsement of Hilary Clinton and John McCain. The title of his post makes clear how he feel. Clinton and McCain "lack excitement." On McCain, he has this to say:

The Republicans should at least give us a race interesting enough to end in someone other than McCain. Or Giuliani. Those two have done a heck of a job obfuscating their moderate instincts while crushing their once-formidable integrity under months of transparent pandering. They might still lead national polls (Giuliani) and win establishment approvals (McCain) but I think the Republican Party will end up with someone else.

There are a few things here that bug me about his assessment of McCain. I would agree that McCain has on several occasions pandered on various issues (ie: tax cuts, intelligent design, etc.), but he has also stood his ground on several issues such as climate change and torture. And while he has wavered on immigration, he has not degenerated into the name calling that other candidates have done.

This is what the Register says:
Time after time, McCain has stuck to his beliefs in the face of opposition from other elected leaders and the public. He has criticized crop and ethanol subsidies during two presidential campaigns in Iowa. He bucked his party and president by opposing the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. A year ago, in the face of growing criticism, he staunchly supported President Bush's decision to increase troop strength in Iraq.

In this campaign, he continues to support comprehensive immigration reform while watching his poll standings plunge. Some other Republican candidates refuse to acknowledge that climate change is a serious threat caused by human activity. McCain has worked on the issue for seven years and sponsored bills to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.

McCain would enter the White House with deep knowledge of national-security and foreign-policy issues. He knows war, something we believe would make him reluctant to start one. He's also a fierce defender of civil liberties. As a survivor of torture, he has stood resolutely against it. He pledges to start rebuilding America's image abroad by closing the Guantanamo prison and beginning judicial proceedings for detainees.

Is McCain perfect? No. I don't agree with his stands on gay marriage and have condemned him for it. But just as my gay liberal friends are not one-issue voters, neither am I. I want someone who also cares about the environment and is a national security hawk without going sacrificing civil liberties or damaging our image abroad. Out of all the GOP candidates, McCain stands out.

As for the Dems, well if I have to have a Democrat for President, I would rather have Clinton over Obama. It's not that Obama isn't a good politician, he is probably one of the best rhetoriticians out there. But you have to do more than move the people with words, you have to do it with action and I worry that he doesn't have the experience to really be President...yet.

Finally, the final words of Alan's post are some what troubling in my view:

I hope some excitement comes out of this insanely long election season. I have no horse as of yet, so I’m hoping some drama illuminates these carefully guarded candidates. Even if that doesn’t help me come to a decision, it’ll at least be more entertaining than the kind of election The Des Moines Register recommends.

Alan uses the words, "excitement" and "entertaining" in the last paragraph. Okay, the candidates aren't going to set the world on fire, but last I checked, I was voting for President of the United States, not the best singer on an episode of "American Idol." I am not as interested in wanting an "exciting" candidate as much as I do, a pragmatic and experienced candidate. I think it is a common feeling among centrists that we want some one that is bigger-than-life. I supported Ralph Nader in 2000 in the belief that he would shake up the system. I went with Howard Dean four years later for the same reason. Both were exciting, but in the end, they couldn't govern their way out of a paper bag.

In 2008, I am not looking for hero. I am not looking for someone that will entertain me. I want someone that will look at global warming, or work on health care, or immigration reform. McCain isn't exciting, but I think he can do that.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

A (Bipartisan) Solution to SCHIP?

I haven't commented much on the who SCHIP battle, but I am beginning to think that this issue is being played for pure politics on both sides of the debate. For the Dems, this is an opportunity to paint the President and the Republicans as heartless thugs that hate children, and the President and the GOP can run around crying "socialized medicine" at charges that this program is doing more than helping the working poor and that a Canadian-style single-payer system is just around the corner if SCHIP passes.

It seems that there is a way to make sure that the SCHIP does give the children of working poor parents and also insures those kids who parents make above the cut off and yet still need help. Michael Franc of the Heritage Foundation notes that there was a bipartisan agreement introduced early in the year that would preserve SCHIP's mission to help those just above the poverty line, and give tax credits for those not eligible for SCHIP so that the parents can buy insurance.

It's a workable solution that could solve the problem, but I doubt either side would go for it: it would give away an issue to club the other side with in next year's election.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Hillary's Foreign Policy

I'm not crazy about Hillary Clinton, but if we have to have a Dem as President come 2009, I would rather have her than any of the other candidates.

Clinton has released her foreign policy document and it seems to hit all the right themes: blending a democratic belief in civil and human rights with strong sense of security and toughness. Someone once commented that the first female president would have to be a "tough guy," and Senator Clinton seems to be showing that.

This doesn't mean I'm going to vote for her, but I do think that of all the Democrats she is the one who will steer path away from the Bush shipwreck and yet is not beholden to the Ron Paul-Dennis Kucinich view of the world that seems to dominate the Dems.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Another Ron Paul Post

GOP Presidential Candidate Ron Paul, apparently thinks that the US is to big and strong to be attacked ever again. In an interview with the Washington Post, he argues that he could never see a reason to launch a military action or start a war.

Now I frankly don't think we should be initiating wars, I never was for the war against Iraq because we had no solid reason to attack a country that seemed to mean us no harm. But Paul's argument against using military action is just plain off:

"There's nobody in this world that could possibly attack us today," he said in the interview. "I mean, we could defend this country with a few good submarines. If anybody dared touch us we could wipe any country off of the face of the earth within hours. And here we are, so intimidated and so insecure and we're acting like such bullies that we have to attack third-world nations that have no military and have no weapon."

Huh? What planet is he on? The fact is, a terrorist group was able to attack us, not with any high tech weapons, but with simple airplanes filled with fuel. A group or rouge government could sneak a bomb or wreak havoc in many ways. In our very interconnected world, America can no longer think that an ocean can protect us.

Listen, I think the Bush foriegn policy of shooting first and asking questions later has been a disaster. We had no business going into Iraq, I said that five years ago, and I will say it now. I think that the Bushies have used September 11th to whip people into accepting the erosion of our civil liberties. I am wary of GOP candidates like Rudy Giuliani who tend to want to continue the same path Bush has taken on foreign affairs. I want a candidate that isn't afraid to use diplomacy on the world stage instead of military action, which should be a last resort.

That said, Ron Paul is living in a dream world if he thinks that we are so powerful that no one will dare touch us. There are people out there that do mean us harm. That is the world we live in, not the world as we would like it to be. What I want is candidate that is willing to use the olive branch of diplomacy, but is also willing to use the spear if diplomacy fails.

The problem with many Iraq/War on Terror critics is that they assume that there is no real threat out there. For me, the issue isn't that there is or isn't a threat, but how to best fight that threat. The Bush Administration has done a poor job, but Ron Paul isn't a whole lot better. Seeing bogeymen on every corner is bad policy, but so is seeing life through rose colored glasses.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A Letter to Senator McCain

I decided to write a letter to John McCain for not showing up at last night's debate on African American issues. Here it is:

Dear Senator McCain,

My name is Dennis Sanders. I am an African American who lives in Minnesota. I have joked that my New Deal Democrat parents gave birth to an "Eisenhower Republican."

I am writing because I am very dismayed that you did not show up at the recent debate focusing on African American issues. I do not understand why you chose not to attend this forum which would have given you an opportunity to introduce yourself to the African American community.

I have always respected you for standing up for your values, even when they weren't popular. You were willing to support the President's immigration plan, when other Republicans were trying to be as anti-immigrant as possible.
As a survivor of torture, you have stood against our nation allow "coercive techniques." As a gay man, I don't agree with you on some issues, but I have respected you because of your service to this country and because of your bravery.

So with all that, I can't understand why you chose not to at least listen to African Americans. Yes, the vast majority vote Democrat, but we are interested in what ALL the candidates for the nation's highest office have to say. You missed an opportunity to hear what are the pressing concerns an important American constituency. I do not believe that you are bigoted, but your choosing to miss this important debate does not bode well for you or the other candidates who chose to miss the event. You are giving the impression that you don't care about 12 percent of the population. That, Senator, is wrong and no "scheduling conflict" can excuse it.

These are not good times for the GOP. We are losing people left and right because the party has stopped seeing the need of expanding the base. The party needs to expand, not contact. The America of the 21st century is one that is multi-cultural and Republicans and conservatives have to stop pretending that this is not the case.

Senator McCain, I do hope that you will consider meeting with African Americans and present your case to why you should be President. You are NOT running for the head of the Republican party, but as the head of a nation of 300 million people who are of every color and hue.

Thank you for your time.

Dennis Sanders
Minneapolis, MN

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

GOP Mayor Favors Gay Marriage

My partner Daniel and I. I'm the black guy. :)
As I reflected on the choices that I had before me last night, I just could not bring myself to tell an entire group of people in our community that they were less important, less worthy and less deserving of the rights and responsibilities of marriage — than anyone else — simply because of their sexual orientation. . . .
I have close family members and friends who are members of the gay and lesbian community. These folks include my daughter Lisa and her partner, as well as members of my personal staff.

· I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones — for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back; someone with whom they can grow old together and share life's wondrous adventures.

· And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I could not look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships — their very lives — were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife Rana.

-San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders.

Those words come from a Republican mayor who has decided that gay and lesbian Americans deserve to be treated as equal before the law.

And he's a Republican.

Dale Carpenter continues:

Liberal toleration was sufficient to convince Americans (including their courts) to do away with stigmatizing and pointless sodomy laws. That's why the laws could be eliminated in a country in which the majority of the population still viewed homosexual acts as immoral. Doing so simply signaled tolerance. Liberal tolerance might even be enough to sustain support for civil unions.

But allowing gay marriage goes further because it affixes a stamp of approval. The most committed opponents of gay marriage understand this, and that's precisely why they oppose it. Maggie Gallagher once said that losing on gay marriage means "losing American civilization." Losing gay marriage for Gallagher and others means not just losing on some words in the family code or on some legal debate over how to define fundamental rights. It means losing a world-view. The advantage they have in public debate is that they address the moral questions that matter to people, while gay marriage supporters are trained to recite the oath to liberal tolerance: "The government should not legislate morality." That line worked with sodomy laws but it won't work with marriage. Americans understand marriage itself to "legislate morality," so arguing amorally for gay marriage is like arguing for touchdowns in a baseball game.

During the struggle against apartheid, Desmond Tutu is rumored to have said to some white policemen that they might as well join the fight against apartheid since they had already won. Tutu knew this system was crumbling and it would only be a matter of time.

The Religious Right's view of the world is also crumbling as more and more gay Americans come out and live lives that are, well, boring. This past weekend, I got my partner Daniel. We had a wedding like any straight couple. I got to walk my mother and father down the isle, as did Daniel. We were joined by our close friends and family who celebrated with us. Maybe the most surprising was the prayer my 77-year-old father gave before we ate that thank God for this "celebration." For a man who a few years ago was somewhat homophobic, this is a big step forward.

The fact is, people are starting to see gay people as people. We own houses, pay bills and do everything that every other American does. And we also enter into long-term relationships and want to know that when bad things happen, we can visit each other in the hospital or tell each other how we want to be treated if we are very ill.

The war will be won by our side, so it's time that the James Dobson's of the world join our side.

The Incredible, Shrinking Republican Party

The Washington Post has an article today about how the current crop of GOP candidates are bothering not to show up at debates hosted by African Americans and Latinos, two important voting blocks. Part of it stems from the latest anti-immigration push among GOP activists and some extends from thinking it would be a waste of time because they would be booed off stage anyway.

This, along with ditching the debate on gay issues, underscore a big problem for the GOP: a party that is in denial and that is totally out of touch. Former Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate Jack Kemp has it right when he says that if the GOP seems not to want Latinos or blacks to vote Republican.

My take on all of this goes a little like this:

I think what we are seeing is the fingerprints of Karl Rove. He was big on getting the base out to vote and that means getting white evangelicals to the voting booth. This is key, the Holy Grail. No longer are Republicans interested in expanding the GOP coalition ala Reagan, but in doing all they can to please the far right, even if it means losing the vote of independents and minorities. Gays, Latinos, and blacks need not apply. In a recent column, Ron Brownstein notes that the GOP candidates think that they problem with Bush is not that he was a good enough conservative and not that something might be wrong with conservatism itself.

The GOP is in some serious denial. They think that Bush is the problem, but they still think the key to victory is following Bush's guru and not bothering build a conservative coalition that would be made of people from all walks of life.

My own guess is that the GOP won't take on anyone else besides the far right until they get shellacked in 2008 and 2010. Maybe when they become a weak minority party will they decide to change their town and give up trying to please a rabid base.

I'm expecting the 2012 GOP convention to be held in a phone booth if the Republicans don't wake up.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Schwarzenegger and the Future of the GOP

The California Republican Party should be a right-of-center party that occupies the broad middle of California . That is a lush, green, abandoned political space. It can be ours.

That comes from a speech California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who gave a speech about the GOP. He was focused on the California GOP, but I think it applies to the GOP as a whole. I know there are a lot out there who think the GOP is done and will never change, but I think it just might.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

And the Winner Is...

So, I took this quiz that determines what candidates comes close to my views and this is what they told me:

Not a big surprise. Though, I am vary wary of Rudy's foriegn policy; I'm not that interested in Bush Foreign Policy Part Three.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

On the Craig Affair:Keeping Up Appearances

I've been really busy at work and I'm getting ready for a wedding, (yes, mine and yes, it's a gay wedding) so I haven't had much time to blog. But of course, having a story develop in your own backyard, especially when it involves a Senator and sex, well, I just had to say SOMETHING.

First off, I feel somewhat sad about Senator Larry Craig. If the rumors are true, then he has lived a side clandestine life, all to keep up appearances. Most gays and lesbians spend some part of their life in the closet, and it is never fun. Life is a hell of a lot better when you are out in the open.

A few days ago, my blogmates Michael van der Galiƫn and Pete Abel had a civil discussion about how the netroots are having a major affect on the Democratic Party. More and more, they are going after anyone that doesn't toe the progressive line. In my mind, it is not unlike what the religious right has done to the GOP; forcing people into ideological straight jackets (pardon the pun).

It's easy to look at people like Larry Craig and Mark Foley before him as hypocrites that deserve the treatment they are getting. But I tend to think that this might be more the sad result of what it means to "play to the base." When politicians are forced to adhere to positions that they themselves don't believe, they are forced to live double lives, forced to hide what they really think and be nothing more than a puppet.

Dale Carpenter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota , hit the nail on the head when he said:

What unites these cases is not really hypocrisy. It’s two other things. First, nearly all the gay Republicans working in Washington or elsewhere are to one degree or another closeted. Second, at a personal level, very few Republican officials around them care whether someone is gay.

From the top of the party to the bottom, few Republicans personally and viscerally dislike gay people. President Bush has had friends he knew were gay. So has Vice President Cheney. Even the most prominently and vigorously anti-gay Republican, Sen. Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum, had a gay spokesperson whom he defended when his homosexuality became known.

The big, open secret in Republican politics is that everyone knows someone gay these days and very few people – excepting some committed anti-gay activists – really care. It’s one of the things that drives religious conservatives crazy because it makes the party look like it’s not really committed to traditional sexual morality.

So to keep religious conservatives happy the party has done two things. First, it has steadfastly resisted efforts to ease anti-gay discrimination in public policy, even when Republican politicians know better. I can’t tell you how many Republican staffers told me, for example, that their bosses privately opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment but would be voting for it anyway.

Second, to keep the talent it needs and simply to be as humane and decent as politically possible toward particular individuals, the party has come up with its own unwritten common-law code: you can be gay and work here, we don’t care, but don’t talk about it openly and don’t do anything to make it known publicly in the sense that either the media or the party’s religious base might learn of it. It's the GOP's own internal version of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

This uneasy mix of the public and the private is not exactly what I’d call hypocrisy. It’s perhaps better described as a form of ideological schizophrenia: private acceptance welded to public rejection. It’s a very unstable alloy.

The Left tends to think that all GOP politicians are bigots who hate gay people, but in reality, that's not totally true. Many of these politicians have friends and family that are gay. Many of them love their gay friends and family members. Vice President Dick Cheney truly loves his daughter Mary, who is a lesbian in a relationship. And yet, he has not said much when it comes to the effort to pass an amendment banning gay marriage. Not because he hates gay people, but because he is beholden to the religious right that really does hate gay people.

But if it is hard for straight, gay friendly Republicans to truly be who they are, then it is shear hell for the closeted gay Republican. Carpenter notes:

For the closeted gay Republican, this alloy means a life of desperation and fear and loneliness, of expressing one's true feelings only in the anonymity of the Internet, of furtive bathroom encounters, of late nights darting in and out of dark bars, hoping not to be seen. It means life without a long-term partner, without real love.

Worst of all, it may mean a life of deceiving a spouse and children. It’s hardly surprising that most of the men caught cruising in parks, bathrooms, and other public places are deeply closeted and often married. They don’t see themselves as having many other options.

Nevertheless, it seems to work until the day you get caught tapping your toe next to a cop. Desperation sets in and you say things that bring everyone much mirth at your expense, like, “I’m not gay, I just have a wide stance.”

Yes, Mark Foley's sleazy web chats with teenage boys was just chilling and Larry Craig's "wide stance" was just pathetic, but in the end this is what happens. A gay GOP politician can't say he is a proud gay man because that means some hateful preacher out there will conduct some slime campaign against him. So, he (or she) has to live out their existence in this poor way.

Carpenter closes his post by saying that if the GOP doesn't want to see anymore scandals like this, then it has to match it's private belief with it's public stance. Of course, with the power that the Religious Right still has on the party, that might be a long time coming.

But maybe all it takes is for one politician or staffer to say they have had enough. Maybe one day, there will be a senator or governor that will just say they are gay and be done with it. Maybe it will be some straight politician that will say they are tired of hearing their gay son or daughter is a sinner bound for hell.

I don't know. I do believe that at some point, some prominent person in the party is going to say "enough." And that voice will be joined by another and another until the religious right no longer has the power to threaten.

As a gay Republican who is out and proud, it's what I hope for.

After all, you have to have your dreams.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

A New Resource for Centrist Republicans

I don't know how many people are aware of this, but there is a think tank out there for Centrist Republicans called the Ripon Society. The describe themselves as:
... a Republican public policy advocacy organization representing all Americans through moderate, progressive policy formation that uphold traditional common sense Republican principles of:
  • Limited but effective government;
  • A free enterprise based economy;
  • A strong, well-maintained, national defense;
  • A more equitable tax system;
  • Social tolerance;
  • Conservation of natural resources.
They also have a downloadable magazine called Ripon Forum. It has a lot of wonkish goodies. You can read the June-July and the August-September 2007 issues, as well as any issue dating back to 1965.

Check it out.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Giuliani's Middle East Plan

I have not hitched my star to any GOP candidate at this point, but I have liked Rudy Giuliani because of his socially liberal/fiscal conservative views. My doubts have been his take on the war on terror and his foreign policy. And now, his views on probably the biggest foreign policy issue has me taking pause.

Joe Gandleman
reports that the former NYC mayor is breaking with President Bush's policy of a two-state solution in Israel/Palestine. Giuliani thinks creating a Palestinian state at this time is a bad idea:

“It is not in the interests of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism,” Giuliani wrote.

“Palestinian statehood will have to be earned through sustained good governance, a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and a willingness to live in peace with Israel.”

Now, Joe sees this as an apparent distancing from President Bush. I don't agree. Yes, the President has said he supports a two-state solution, but about all he has really done is provide lip service to the idea. Unlike Bill Clinton and his own father, Bush has expended little political capital playing hardball with both sides to solve the situation. In my view, Giuliani is only saying what Bush and many neoconservatives are already thinking.

I think this is not a smart policy. Yes, it will please the hard core base, but it won't make us safer. For whatever reason, the Islamic terrorists use the Palestinian situation as an excuse for their hatred and because of our close relationship with Israel, we are guilty by association. I'm not a foreign policy expert, but I tend to believe that one of the ways we can fight terrorism is by "draining the swamp," or eliminating a reason for fanatics to drive planes into buildings.

Are the Palestinians innocent? No. But neither are the Israelis. This is the Middle East, where there is very little black and white and a whole lot of gray. We have to broker some deal that allows the Palestinians some sense of self-determination, and give the Israelis some sense of security. The United States has the power to bring these two sides together and work on some agreement.

The other thing that is troubling is Giuliani's lumping of the Palestinian issue with the War on Terror. He is partially right that the jihadists use the issue to justify their hate, but that doesn't mean that the two are arm in arm. It seems just as Bush wanted to lump Iraq into the wider War on Terror, Giuliani is doing the same.

Bush's policy has been all about might and Giuliani might give more of the same. Of course I want a president that is willing to call in the Marines and kick some butt if need be. However, I also want a President that has a policy that is smart as much as it is strong. I want a President that has all the military power behind them, but seeks ways to get things done without resorting to military action. (And when they do use the military, use it in a way that is smart)

It's high time for Republicans to develop a smart and strong policy on Terror and on this particular issue. We have had too much of dumb and strong.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

News Flash: Some Republicans Actually Like Gays

A story that aired on National Public Radio's All Things Considered a few days ago, got me steamed.

The story was about the first-ever presidential candidate forum that was focused on issues affecting the gay community. Most of the Democratic candidates and none of the GOP candidates came to the event. Now, I think it is sad that some of the candidates like John McCain or Rudy Giuliani didn't bother to come and chat, but that was not what made me mad. What made me mad is that the reporter talked about how the Dems were so gay friendly, while the GOP was not, ignoring some obvious exceptions to the rule.

Now, I am not here to defend the GOP record on gay rights - I think it has been attrocious and has probably lost the GOP some votes that they will regret down the road. But I get tired of the mainstream media not focusing on those Republicans who do take stands for equality.

Recently, Log Cabin Republicans, the GLBT Republican group, held an event where several current and former GOP office holders spoke. Let's see what a few of them said, shall we?

Here is what Oregon Senator Gordon Smith said about pending hate-crime legislation:

Senator Gordon Smith, who is leading the fight in the U.S. Senate for hate crimes legislation, spoke about the importance of the bill. "We've got to stop talking about hate crimes [legislation] and pass it," he said. "This issue isn't going away and it's growing more important all the time."
And here is what Ohio Congresswomen Deb Price said about the Employee Nondiscrimination Act:

Congresswoman Deborah Pryce, chief Republican co-sponsor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which will come before a vote in the U.S. House this summer, said the bill "is going to pass." She said, "To allow discrimination in the workplace is antithetical to what Republicans are as a Party." ENDA would expand current law banning workplace discrimination to include sexual orientation.
Now, you'd think a Republican co-sponsor to a bill friendly to gays would make news. Oh well. Here is what Flordia Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell:"

Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen highlighted the importance of ending the "Don't ask, Don't tell" law. "We've got to make sure the military has the personnel it needs." Ros-Lehtinen urged passage of the Military Readiness Enhancement Act so that thousands of gay and lesbian service members with valuable skills are able to serve openly and honestly. "America is suffering from a shortage of linguists," she told the Log Cabin crowd.
Hmmm, a Republican that is more concerned about terrorists than some guy holding another guys hand. Shocking!

(Oh, and here is another Republican that is pressing for an end to this ban.)

The fact is, there is a small, but strong body of Republicans who are standing up to the bigotry of the Religious Right, but it seems that for the most part, the media tends to ignore that.


I can only guess there is a certain amount of laziness among journalists, in that they create scripts for certain people or certain groups of people. Anyone that doesn't fit that script is ignored. I tend to believe the media has tagged Republicans as a bunch of backward Bible-thumpers and that is the story they stick with. I'm not saying there aren't people like that, but I think that since that is the group that yells the most, that is the one that gets the attention and sets the view of what a Republican is supposed to be.

I think that's sad. I'm not saying that the media should ignore the bigots, they need to shown for what they truly are. But when someone is taking a stand for justice, well, they should be noticed as well for their stand.

Sometimes, though, the media gets it right. There is an article about Rudy Giuliani that shows a man who took a stand:

As the Justice Department's number three official in 1982, Giuliani authorized the hiring of the first openly gay lawyer for a prosecutor post requiring a security clearance, according to records and interviews.

That precedent-setting but little-known action, combined with his successful push as mayor for domestic partnership and hate crime laws in New York, make Giuliani an anomaly: a front-runner for the GOP nomination who is a top champion of gay rights.
I'm thankful that Newsday was willing to write about this. I hope it shows that while there are Republicans who go after gays, there are others who truly live up to the spirit of Lincoln and strive for equality. I just wish the media would do more of these stories.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Taking a Break

No, I haven't given up on blogging, but I am taking a break for a short while. I've had some family events as of late and I will also be going on vacation for a few days. I should be back to regular blogging by the end of July.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

"The Elephant Looks In the Mirror"

I was in on a conference call from Log Cabin Republicans last night that discussed a poll that was conducted on the current state of the Republican Party. Now, if you listen to the mainstream media, it tends to view the GOP as a bunch of Bible Thumpers. However, according to this survey, the picture of the GOP is far more complex and diverse (or maybe fractured). The poll, conducted by GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio came up with these interesting facts, especially in the area of gay rights. This is from the press release from Log Cabin:

an overwhelming 77% of Republicans believe an employer should not have the right to fire an employee based solely on their sexual orientation. Even among social conservatives, 67% don’t believe an employer should be able to fire someone for being gay. “Republicans in Congress who will vote later this summer on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act should take these numbers to heart,” said (Patrick) Sammon (Log Cabin Executive Director). “Rank and file Republicans support this common sense legislation.”

And on allowing gays to serve openly in the military?

49% of Republicans believe gays and lesbians should be able to serve openly in the U.S. military, while 42% are opposed.

What about marriage rights?

43% of Republicans support either marriage equality or civil unions. 51% oppose all relationship recognition. “There’s much more work to be done educating Republicans about this issue, but we’re encouraged that almost half of Republicans support basic fairness for gay and lesbian families,” said Sammon.

I agree there is still work to do in the GOP on this issue, but it is hopeful that a sizeable minority does support marriage or civil unions for same sex couples.

And finally:

53% of respondents agree that “the Republican Party has spent too much time focusing on moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage and should instead be spending time focusing on economic issues such as taxes and government spending.”

It's an interesting survey and give those of us wanting a more centrist GOP some hope. If more moderate thinking people get involved in the GOP, we could see these numbers grow.

You can read the whole survey, by going here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

"Waiting for Perot"

This past weekend, I spent a few hours at the Log Cabin Republicans booth at the Twin Cities Gay Pride festival. It's always interesting to do this. Sometimes you get the occasional grouch that thinks we are basically "Jews for Hitler," but more often than not, we also get a lot of folks that are thankful we are there. As has been the case for the past few years, we have had someone from the local congressional district party helping us out. This fellow African American (who is straight) is an unabashed moderate Republican that has stayed in the party. He decided to get people signed up to recieve information about the caucuses next March. His belief is that if you want to make the party more centrist, then you need to have more moderate folks going to things like caucus to start making those changes.

Another friend of mine, Jim agreed. Jim is gay and has gone to caucus, being brave enough to put forward a gay-positive proposal. It didn't pass, to go forward, but the margin of defeat was close. Despite the right-ward drift of the party, Jim is not planning on leaving the party. He is a life long Republican and its his home.

I've been thinking about this in light of the recent brouhaha over Michael Bloomberg's expected Independent run for the White House and Pete Abel's post about Third Parties. He cites another blogger from the blog Stubborn Facts who believes this about those who want a third party:

"To be frank, what I believe really lies behind the complaints about the two-party system - consciously or otherwise - is a desire to get one's own way. These folks' views aren't prevailing in the present system, and since they're such rational, reasonable, sensible people, with rational, reasonable, sensible policy views, obviously, if the system isn't producing winners who agree with their policy views, then the system must be broken. After all, any system that worked would produce rational, reasonable and sensible politicians espousing rational, reasonable, and sensible policies, like the ones that the 3d party boosters want. Since they aren't getting their way, and since that obviously means the system is broken, they want to change the system, believing that doing so will lead to them getting their way. "

To which Pete adds:

The irony here, of course, is that third-party boosters typically justify their boosterism on the basis of the extreme polarization and lack of compromise that plagues today's two-party system; and yet what they really want, per Simon, is not compromise, but their "own way."

I think both are correct. Those that whine about how the system is broken and that we need a third party to solve everything are just as bad as the partisans they criticize. I've heard and seen to many former Republicans leave the party because the party isn't perfect in every view. But the fact is, there is no perfect party. Both parties are fallible. In fact, this whole system of government is fallible. It's run by fallible beings.

Ten years ago, I was one of those who thought that a third party would solve everything. If we got into power, then things would get done. Well, in Minnesota, that did happen, when Jesse Ventura got into power as governor in 1998. Did it change things? Jesse got in, and somethings did change, but in the end, he was surprised to find that once in power, people didn't do things his way. He was shocked when the press assailed him. In 2002, he left the governorship angry and bitter, taking his toys with him.

What he didn't realize is that politics is a rough and tumble game and you don't always get your way. In the end, you have to fight for what you believe in. And that also means, that in the end you won't get everything you want.

Back in 2000-01, I decided to leave the Indendence Party and join the GOP. Was it a perfect fit? Heavens no. But it was close enough in many ways and I also wanted to have a place at the table, even if I had to fight for it. The problem with too many centrists is that they don't think politics should be about hard work. They expect some messianic leader to come down from the mountaintop and set all things right. Nevermind, that the messiah is flawed and that he or she won't get their way all the time.

My belief is that if you are a centrist and think that your views are not getting heard, don't waste your time on a third party that is going nowhere fast and only strokes the ego of whatever leader is in charge. If you are a frustrated moderate, then join one of the two major parties that fit you best. Go to a caucus meeting. Make your voice heard and know that you might not always get everything you want.

I say this especially to those former Republicans who are frustrated. Stop expecting the party to change on its own, because it won't. As long as moderates are silent and they only hear from the hard right, then they won't change. "But I don't like the Religious Right!" you say. Fine, I don't either, but that's not a reason to leave the party. Hell, there are people in my family I'm not crazy about, but I don't leave my family. "I don't like President Bush!" you say. Well, last I checked political parties are not susposed to fan clubs, but ways to get policy done. Stop whining, get organized and change things.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I'm a Black, Gay Republican. Deal With It.

I was going to write about the whole Bloomberg stuff, but I decided to write about something that's been bothering me lately. A while back two of my blogmates over at Central Sanity have said (or not said) things that have bothered me. One wondered why I was in a party that didn't like me. The other always talks about moderate Republicans, but uses Pete Abel as an example and never myself.

This is all interesting because it seems at times, that if you are not a straight white person, then your are pretty much limited in what your politics can be. Both liberals and conservatives seem to think that persons of color or gays can only be on the Left.

Now, I have nothing against the Left. I have many friends that are liberals and I respect their views and I even learn a thing or two. What bothers me is that because I am black and gay, my political views are viewed as questionable. It's as if all blacks and all gays SHOULD be Democrats since we are "liked" there.

But the fact is, that I don't agree with a lot of the philosophy of the Dems. I tend to believe in lower taxes and that government is not the solution to every problem. When I decided to become a Republican, I did so after a lot of reading and thinking. I wasn't attracted to the hard-right ideologies being spewed, but I was interested in an older version that was still being found in groups like Republicans for Environmental Protection and Log Cabin Repubicans.

This is why I stay with the GOP: to be a reminder of things past and a hope that it will be again.

I am a black, gay moderate Republican that chooses to be who he is.

And if you can't accept that, to bad.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

If You're Not Angry...

There is a saying that I've found on bumper-stickers that says, "If you're not angry, then you're not paying attention." The meaning behind that statement is that society, social justice is moved by anger, by seeing injustice in the world.

There is some truth in that statement. I mean, to want to change things, you need to be upset at what you are seeing around you.

But as much as anger can move us to change, it can also be a poison that can hurt society as a hold. People on the political left and right are angry. On the right, all you have to do is listen to talk-radio and some right wing blogs. The political left has seen the sucess of the angry Right and has copied it, with left wing blogs becoming as venomous as their conservative counterparts. On each side, there is a lot of talk about how evil the other side is and how they can't be civil, when faced with such evil.

The problem here is this angry discourse have left us with no real answers to some of our most pressing issues and it has forced good politicians to basically whore themselves to the angry bases of both parties. David Broder has talked about how presidential candidates have basically unmoored themselves from the center and have tried to please their bases. Broder writes:

Democrats brushed aside concerns about the impact of their votes to cut off funding for the troops in Iraq or the larger implications of a precipitous withdrawal from that country. Republicans were casual about contemplating the use of nuclear weapons against Iran or the effects of foreclosing a path to citizenship for millions of people living illegally in the United States.

I have to say, just like the problem with the Republicans was that they never really thought through what it meant to invade Iraq, the Democrats are guilty of wanting to leave Iraq without really thinking through what that means for the Middle East and the world.

I agree with Broder that hearing the Republican presidential candidates talk so blithely about a nuclear strike against Iran made me think I was watching "Dr. Stranglove." It also saddens me that only John McCain showed any humanity in dealing with illegal immigration. Everyone else was trying to placate the nativist camp in the party.

In all cases, the candidates are please the angry extremes, that isn't concerned with policy, but with making the other side look bad. It's all emotion with no thought. Maybe in another time, leaders in Washington would come together to solve these problems, not in ways that please the bases, but in ways that would benefit everyone. On Iraq, yes, I would agree with many that we have to start thinking about leaving. But how do we do that without creating a bigger mess? Many on the far left don't seem to have an answer. They seemed to be more concerned about "ending George Bush's war" instead of trying to create an endgame that doesn't end up biting us in the ass.

Republicans have to face up to the idea that you aren't going to get rid of 12 million illegal aliens. So, how do we find a way to make them legal without just creating amnesty? And oh yeah, they need to remember that Saint Ronald was bullish on immigration.

I think we need less anger and more reason in politics. Yes, I am angry that President Bush got us into this war. But that alone isn't going to solve this mess. We need politicians that will "reason together" and find competent solutions, not simply something that will please the furious few.

I close with these words from Joe Klein:

the smart stuff is being drowned out by a fierce, bullying, often witless tone of intolerance that has overtaken the left-wing sector of the blogosphere. Anyone who doesn't move in lockstep with the most extreme voices is savaged and ridiculed—especially people like me who often agree with the liberal position but sometimes disagree and are therefore considered traitorously unreliable. Some of this is understandable: the left-liberals in the blogosphere are merely aping the odious, disdainful—and politically successful—tone that right-wing radio talk-show hosts like Rush Limbaugh pioneered. They are also justifiably furious at a Bush White House that has specialized in big lies and smear tactics.

And that is precisely the danger here. Fury begets fury. Poison from the right-wing talk shows seeped into the Republican Party's bloodstream and sent that party off the deep end. Limbaugh's show—where Dick Cheney frequently expatiates—has become the voice of the Republican establishment. The same could happen to the Democrats. The spitballs aimed at me don't matter much. The spitballs aimed at Harman, Clinton and Obama are another story. Despite their votes, each of those politicians believes the war must be funded. (Obama even said so in his statement explaining his vote.) Each knows, as Senator Jim Webb has said repeatedly, that we must be more careful getting out of Iraq than we were getting in. But they allowed themselves to be bullied into a more simplistic, more extreme position. Why? Partly because they fear the power of the bloggers to set the debate and raise money against them. They may be right—in the short (primary election) term; Harman faced a challenge from the left in 2006. In the long term, however, kowtowing to extremists is exactly the opposite of what this country is looking for after the lethal radicalism of the Bush Administration.

What he said.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Sucess Has a Thousand Fathers...

Rod Dreher nails it:

Few of us stood up to Bush when he took us to this disastrous war in Iraq. Few, if any, stood up to him over his foolish support for Rumsfeld, long after it became obvious what a disaster Rumsfeld was. Few, if any, stood up to him over his amassing of power in the executive branch. Few, if any, stood up to him on the spending. Few, if any, stood up to him over the massive prescription drug benefit. Few stood up to him over the political hackery pervading his administration, which became distressingly obvious during Katrina (indeed, there are still Republicans now who insist that the corrupt politicization of the Department of Justice is a non-issue, because these people "serve at the president's pleasure"). Correct me if I'm wrong, but the first time any of us stood up in significant numbers, and with full-throated voice, against the president was over the Harriet Miers debacle. And then we fell silent again, for the most part.

So yes, by all means let's turn our backs on this failed presidency, and save what we can, while we can. But let's not kid ourselves: Bush has failed conservatives, yes, but we have also failed ourselves. It doesn't take much courage to stand up for conservative principle to a president as weak as this one has become. It would have taken real courage to stand up for conservative principle in 2002, 2003, 2004, even early 2005. How many did? I know I didn't -- not until Katrina and Miers, which came late in 2005. If we're looking to blame someone for the failure of Republican government and the conservative crack-up, look to the White House, yes, and look to the late, unlamented Republican Congress. But also look to the conservative talk show hosts, the conservative columnists, and finally, in the mirror. The only way we're going to rebuild after the present and coming political shattering is through honest reckoning, and taking responsibility for what we've done. It is tempting to blame Bush for everything. But it's not fair, and it's not honest. Bush is today who he always was. The difference is we conservatives pretty much loved the guy -- when he was a winner.

Many Republicans will no doubt blame the President come November 2008 when the GOP loses more seats and maybe loses the Presidency, but they themselves have to accept some of the blame as well.

But I think something more is going on here than the President's messup. What does the GOP stand for? What should it stand for? I think that these are the questions that the party is going to have to ask and struggle to answer long after Bush retires to Crawford.

However you describe it, conservatism has failed. The question now is how to fix it. And President Bush is only part of the problem.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

On the Road to Serfdom: The Venezuela Edition

Every so often, some of my liberal friends talk about how America under the Bush Administration is a dictatorship. As much as I don't like the Bushies, and as much I do think they have danced to the edge if not gone right over the edge when it comes to civil liberties, I don't think we are heading towards people being "disappeared" ala Chile in the 70s and 80s. Last I checked, we are having an election next year to replace the current President and odds are that the Democrats will win. That doesn't sound like a dictatorship to me.

What's funny is that very few on the left are screaming about what is going on in Venezuela under Hugo Chavez, who is taking more and more power and grabbing more and more freedoms from the people. The latest is that an independent TV station was shut down after the Chavez government refused to renew its license. It was replaced by a state-backed channel that will obviously be friendly to "El Presidente."

Many will say that he has helped the poor. Maybe, but he has done it at the expense of freedom and that isn't any better than trying to make people safe at the expense of freedom.

Rudy and Realism

My blogmate, Pete Abel, is not as enanmoured with GOP Presidential Candidate Rudy Giuliani. He is also upset that social conservatives are still more concerned issues than about other issues. He is also concerned about Rudy's apporoach on foriegn policy, a hesitation with Rudy that I share.

This brought up a few things:

First, we should understand that in many ways the "realist" school of foreign policy is no longer prominent in Republican circles. The voices we hear now are those from the Ron Paul-Pat Buchanan school (the isolationist/non-interventionist school) and the neoconservative school. Even though the NeoCon school has failed in Iraq, they are still powerful because of writers and institutions that support their "America alone" approach. Ross Douthat notes:

The vacuum that (Ron)Paul currently occupies is supposed to be filled by an internationally-minded realism. Indeed, it's precisely the coexistence of realism and idealism in Republican foreign policy, the fruitful tension between the two strains of thought, that has long made the GOP the party to be trusted in international relations - because the idealists elevate the realists, and the realists keep the idealists grounded. When the pendulum swings too far in one direction or another, this tension has usually produced a correction, of the kind that, say, the original neocons and then Reagan provided to the cynical machtpolitik of Kissinger. But there's no sign of a realist corrective in the current GOP field: There were ten candidates on that stage besides Ron Paul yesterday night, and not one of them was willing to call the Iraq War a mistake, which seems to me like the place that a serious realist critique of his Presidency's foreign policy needs to begin.

The fact is, we don't have a Brent Scrowcroft school of foriegn policy in the GOP anymore, or at least not in the number that they once were. There is no realist candidate in the GOP field. A realist would have long ago decided that the war in Iraq was going no where and would find a way to extricate themselves from the situation. There is one potential canidate out there that could be the person Pete (and I) are looking for: Nebraskan Senator Chuck Hagel. It would be nice if he got in the race, because he is the voice in the GOP we need at this time. Neocon foriegn policy has not worked. It's time flip the script.

If we are interested in getting a "realist Republican" running for President, then maybe people should join the "draft Hagel" movement. (I'm looking at you, Pete.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Sir Charles Does It Again

“I think if they want to get married, God bless them. Gay marriage is probably one percent of the population, so it’s not like it’s going to be an epidemic.”
-former NBA Player, Charles Barkley.

Being a basketball fan, I was never a big fan of Charles Barkley. But after reading this article, you can count me as a fan.

It's important to hear things from leading sports figures like this. Even more important, it is really important to hear these words from a black man. As a African-American man who is also gay, I have had my share of anti-gay remarks from young black gay men. We need to hear more black straight men who are comfortable enough with their sexuality to speak up for gay people.

Kudos to Sir Barkley.

Ron Paul's Crazy Train

I'm a little shocked by the response of the Centrist blogosphere to the quixotic campaign on Republican representative and presidential wannabee, Ron Paul. He is considered principled on the notion that America got hit on 9/11 because we were hitting Iraq for 10 years.

Andrew Sullivan sees the guy as a "breath of fresh air." Others say he is what conservatism used to be about and even throw in Uncle Ronnie to give Paul some creedence.

I don't get it. People are going gaga over a man who basically wants the United States out of the UN and NATO, has condemned the 9/11 Commission and wants another one, waxes on about a "North American Union," and has said not so kind things about African Americans and Jews.

I'm sorry, but someone who goes around saying that only five percent of African Americans have "sensible politcal views" and assumes 95% of black males in Washington, DC are criminals or semi-criminal is not someone that I think will revive the GOP.

I am not one that wants to silence Paul or block him from debates. He has every right to present his views and he belongs in the party like anyone else.

Listen, I can understand the the American right is in a sorry state and needs revitalization. We need new leaders for a new time, especially after the current presidential administration has done such a bad job on almost everything. But Ron Paul isn't the answer.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Does It Say About Us?

Two events on the same day reminded me how screwed up we are these days. The first was the reaction to Rev. Jerry Fawell's death on Tuesday. That same evening, almost all of the GOP contenders for the presidential nomination seemed to endorse using torture in the War on Terror. Concerning Fawell, it was disturbing to see how many people in the gay community were downright mean concerning his death. It was also disturbing to see so many Republican presidential candidates (inlcuding Rudy Giuliani, my leading favorite) seem not to have a problem with using tactics like waterboarding on terror suspects.

It's interesting in this age where we are so self-reveling about every level of our lives, with blogs and services like YouTube, we don't seem to be so interested in examining our lives and how we live. We are wonderful at telling others how to live, but not so interested in wondering how we are living our own lives.

For example: torture. Many of my compatriots on the right side of the spectrum seem to not have a concern with torturing someone for information. "If it saves lives, then it's okay," they seem to think. They forget the adage that Senator John McCain, who happens to know about torture in a very intimate way, that torture does damage to our reputation more than it provides information to prevent a terrorist attack. The funny thing among a lot of conservatives is that we don't seem to care one way or another about the consequences. There is a certain amount of smugness among some on the right in that America is great, not because of how we live our lives in the world, but by who we are. America is good because it is America. That is a dangerous conotation, because it ignores the fact that people are judge as good or bad by their actions, not by who they are. Some kid in Iraq or Iran is not going to ignore how we treat prisoners. You can rest assured that someone like bin Laden will use such moral failings to prove his point that America is evil and needs to be destroyed. The GOP presidential candidates, minus McCain, are basically doing bin Laden's work.

Now to Fawell. I have to be honest and say that I didn't miss Fawell, but I didn't see his death as a good thing either. Maybe what has saddened me is to see the gay community show such gracelessness towards this death. I can understand the anger, but I have a hard time understanding the basic lack of humanity.

Many in the gay rights movement have talked about the connections between our struggle for rights and the struggle of African Americans. They leech on to the legacy to Dr. Martin Luther King and talk about our movement as the same moral struggle as the civil rights movement. As an African American and as a gay man, I can say this is complete bullcrap. My gay brothers and sisters are clueless to the true meaning of that movement. Dr. King did preach justice for African Americans and condemned those that blocked the progress of African Americans. But you know what? He also loved those same people. He loved them enough to believe they could be redeemed. His Christian faith taught him to seek the wholeness of both the oppressor and the oppressed.

Sadly, most gays and lesbians do not show the same grace that King and many African Americans did back in the 50s and 60s to those that hated them. Instead of showing love when one hates, we have decided to hate them as much they hate us. We celebrate when they die.

Dr. King was working for the redemption of America. He saw racism as this nation's original sin, and wanted to find ways to not only bring freedom for African Americans, but to heal the entire land. His nonviolent campaign of love is responsible for the change that has happened in our society. No, racial progress hasn't been easy, but it has happened.

Frankly gay people need to learn to care for those that oppose us. No that isn't easy. But we need to have more pity for them than hate. I am more sorrowful that Rev. Fawell never understood that we gays were not the threat he thought we were, than scornful of him. True justice won't happen, by "winning" against the far right, but by urging them to repent. Love, seeing the enemy as a human being loved by God or whatever higher being, is what changes society. Storing up wounds does nothing but hurt us.

In both cases, people need to do some introspection. We are not righteous in our own being. We are judged by how we live our lives. Yes, terrorists and bigots are judged, but so are we. Torturing someone, or rejoicing in the death of someone you don't like says a lot more about your moral character than it does your enemy.

The Bible states that we need to look at the planks in our own eyes instead of the specs in our brother's eyes. It's time for gays and conservatives to do some heavy-duty introspection, to save their own souls.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Ins and Outs of Rudy G.

Of all the GOP candidates for President, the one that I tend to like is former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. I like that he is fiscally conservative and socially liberal. But his authoritarian streak and his seeming willingness to use torture in the War on Terror is something that still bothers me, so I am not going to say I am a Giuliani guy just yet, though I am leaning in that direction.

I don't think Rudy is perfect, for the reasons stated above. But I think he represents a strain of the GOP that has long been moribund and needs to be revived- that of the Northeastern, moderate Republican.

Longtime Democratic analyst, Thomas Edsall has an interesting article on how Rudy is bringing the GOP to his viewpoints. Acutally, it's more that the times are a-changing. Homosexaulity is being more tolerated in society and there is a new generation that isn't as scared about two guys holding hands than previous generations.

A side note on Ron Paul. I have respected him for his views on Iraq, but he is hardly a candidate for Republicans who don't care for the current administration could rally around. I don't think I'm that crazy about his views. He's against the Federal Reserve, against NAFTA, CAFTA, the UN and any other alliance, and seems to have a very hard-line immigration policy. It's perfect for a hardline libertarian, but I think a lot of people want to see the government as a partner in solving problems, not simply have it dissapear.

So, no, I'm not going to have a link to Giuliani at this point, but I do know I won't have a Paul link ever.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Let Rudy Be Rudy

Kudos to Rudy Giuliani for being honest about his pro-choice stance.

This is a gutsy move for Rudy, since it means that he is going against the grain of what has been expected of GOP Presidential candidates.

Why is he doing this? It can be summed up in one word: California.

The Golden State has moved the date of its primary to early February, along with two other big states, Flordia and Giuliani's home state of New York. All of these states are full of moderates which could influence the outcome of who will be the next GOP nominee. In a climate where there was only small states like South Carolina and Iowa, you had to be more right-wing because the primary goers tended to be more socially conservative. With these larger states in the mix, it allows a moderate like Giuliani to gain the upperhand.

There has been much consternation about the front-loading of the primaries and I can understand that. There is something about the candidates chatting with people in the town halls of New Hampshire and the farms of Iowa. But this speeded up process just might allow the moderates in the GOP to actually have a say in....well, probably decades. We might finally stop focusing on issues like going after gays and more on terrorism, health care and global warming.

Rudy knows this so, as Time Magazine says, he is more than willing to take a gamble. And the thing is, he might be able to get more people into the process. I know a lot of people who are basically Republicans, but they get tripped up on the current GOP's stances on abortion and gay rights. Knowing that there is a candidate that mirrors their views might just get them to the primary polls and caucuses.

When he was told that his views might cause not be acceptable to some Republicans he responded, "I guess we are going to find out."
How refreshing to hear a Republican that isn't trying to denounce or ignore his former views to appease a few religious fanatics.

He might make a supporter of me yet.

Retreat is A Fine Republican Tradition

The way some ardent war supporters act, they tend to think that all Republicans have stood strong when it comes to national defense instead of doing in the words of the immortal Kenny Rogers (before his dreadful facelift) to "know when to fold them" and to "know when to walk away."

The fact is, Republican leaders in the past have known when it was time to walk away from what appeared to be an intractable situation. Steve Chapman notes the historical nature of Republicans "cutting and running:"

During last week's Republican presidential debate at the Ronald Reagan Library, Rudy Giuliani cited the 40th president as a model of fortitude in dealing with enemies. Among "the things that Ronald Reagan taught us," he declared, is that "we should never retreat in the face of terrorism."

No one present was impolite enough to mention that far from spurning retreat in the face of terrorism, the Gipper embraced it. After the 1983 terrorist bombing in Beirut, which killed 241 American military personnel, he recognized the futility of our presence in Lebanon and pulled out...

The truth is, Republican presidents are not known for staying the course in the face of adversity. Dwight Eisenhower ran on a promise to end the Korean war, which he did -- on terms that allowed the communist aggressors to remain in power in the North. Richard Nixon negotiated a peace agreement with the North Vietnamese government, which provided for a U.S. pullout. Gerald Ford presided over the fall of Saigon and the final, humiliating American evacuation.

In those instances, the presidents came to grips with the unpleasant truth that sometimes, you can't achieve the desired outcome without an excessive sacrifice, if at all. But when it comes to Iraq, Republicans insist we should be ready to pay any price in pursuit of a victory that has eluded us for so long. In their view, weighing the costs against the benefits, or acknowledging that we don't have a formula for success, is tantamount to appeasement.

What Republicans stood for in the past was a sober realism about the limits of our power and our good intentions. That spirit is absent today. They act as though slogans are a substitute for strategy. What they claim as steadfast resolve looks more like blind obstinacy.

The thing is, if we really wanted to win in Iraq, we should have committed more than the small number of troops that were offered at the beginning of this war. It is silly, as Chapman notes, to say we need to stay and fight and yet not being willing to commit the necessary resources.

For me, it seems that what we need to do is find a way to get out of this war in a way that doesn't screw the Iraqis. I don't think we should just leave and damn the Iraqis as some on Left would say, but we can't stay forever, no matter how noble the mission. Yes, leaving does have consequences- Al Queda assumed that our leaving Lebanon in 1984 and Somalia in 1993 meant that the US was a paper tiger that could be cowed after a terrorist attack- but so does staying. Americans will not stand for being in a war with no end.

Many Republicans revere Reagan for standing up to the Soviets. Well, he did, but he also found ways to negotiate with the Russians and ended up making peace with them. In the end, Reagan was not the ideological hawk that so mamy Republicans think he was, but a hard realist who knew when to fight and when to make peace. That is something that the current Republican president, members of Congress and the current slate of presidential candidates has seemed to forget.

Surely there has to be a way to get out of Iraq by saving some face. The sad thing is that the President will not listen and the GOP will pay the price for his staying the course which looks less like fortitude and more like someone not grounded in reality.

Retreat doesn't have to mean failure.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

From the "Hell Has Frozen Over Dept."...

"Barring some calamitous mistake by the Democrats (and true, that can never be ruled out from the "war is lost" party), the GOP enters the 2008 election cycle at a serious disadvantage. If we want to win, we have to offer the American voter something fresh and compelling. I think most of us understand that. And yet at the same time we are demanding that our candidates repeat formulas and phrases from two and three decades ago.

Yes, the GOP needs candidates to display higher-quality leadership than they have exhibited till now.

But if we want higher-quality leadership, maybe we also need higher-quality followership."

I don't think I'd ever agree with David Frum, but I agree with him here. Listen, I like Reagan too, but the GOP needs to basically let some fresh air in and start coming up with ideas to solve the problems we face today. I mean it's sad that we someone like Mitt Romney (whose father was the governor of my home state of Michigan)try to contort himself into some far-right family-values clone to satisfy the crazies in our party when this guy was able to create a universal health care program that uses a public/private mix to make sure everyone in Massachusetts is insured.

Frankly, we don't need another Reagan. He was good for his time, but we need someone new-someone that can inspire and isn't interested in trying assuage a small part of the general electorate. Maybe someone like the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy:

"I want to launch a call to all those in the world who believe in the values of tolerance, of liberty, of democracy and of humanism, to all those who are persecuted by the tyrannies and by the dictators, to all the children and to all the martyrized women in the world to say to them that the pride, the duty of France will at their sides, that they can count on her. France will be at the sides of the Libyan nurses locked up for eight years; France will not abandon Ingrid Betancourt; France will not abandon the women who are condemned to the burqa; France will not abandon the women who do not have liberty. France will be by the side of the oppressed of the world. This is the message of France; this is the identity of France; this is the history of France."

Now THAT'S what we need to hear from the GOP candidates. But we aren't because they are more concerned about telling the base that they don't believe in evolution.


Friday, May 04, 2007

What Would Mark Bingham Say?

For those who don't remember, Mark Bingham was one the passengers on United Flight 93, the plane that crashed in rural Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. Mark was believed to be among the passengers that took the plane back from the terrorists that planned to use the plane as a weapon.

Mark Bingham is seen as hero to many.

Mark was also openly gay.

On September 22, 2001, Senator John McCain delivered a eulogy at Mark's memorial service. He noted then,

"I love my country, and I take pride in serving her. But I cannot say that I love her more or as well as Mark Bingham did, or the other heroes on United Flight 93 who gave their lives to prevent our enemies from inflicting an even greater injury on our country. It has been my fate to witness great courage and sacrifice for America's sake, but none greater than the selfless sacrifice of Mark Bingham and those good men who grasped the gravity of the moment, understood the threat, and decided to fight back at the cost of their lives.

"In the Gospel of John it is written "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Such was the love that Mark and his comrades possessed, as they laid down their lives for others. A love so sublime that only God's love surpasses it.

"It is now believed that the terrorists on Flight 93 intended to crash the airplane into the United States Capitol where I work, the great house of democracy where I was that day. It is very possible that I would have been in the building, with a great many other people, when that fateful, terrible moment occurred, and a beautiful symbol of our freedom was destroyed along with hundreds if not thousands of lives. I may very well owe my life to Mark and the others who summoned the enormous courage and love necessary to deny those depraved, hateful men their terrible triumph. Such a debt you incur for life.

"I will try very hard, very hard, to discharge my public duties in a manner that honors their memory. All public servants are now solemnly obliged to do all we can to help this great nation remain worthy of the sacrifice of New York City firefighters, police officers, emergency medical people, and worthy of the sacrifice of the brave passengers on Flight 93.

Note that McCain says he probably owes his life to Mark and the others who fought back. Not also that he said he incured a debt for life.

Mark Bingham died defending his country. He wasn't in the military, but he was defending it just the same.

So, it is a big puzzle that when asked about allowing gays to serve in the military, McCain would say that he wouldn't support overturning "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." He states:

"I believe polarization of personnel and breakdown of unit effectiveness is too high a price to pay for well-intentioned but misguided efforts to elevate the interests of a minority of homosexual service members above those of their units. Most importantly, the national security of the United States, not to mention the lives of our men and women in uniform, are put at grave risk by policies detrimental to the good order and discipline which so distinguish America's Armed Services."

Uh huh.

Senator, it was a gay man who probably saved your butt six years ago. I don't think you cared back then that he slept with men, you were just glad he did what he did. Have you forgotten what you said at Mark's service? Were those mere words? Do you want the Presidency so bad that you will turn your back on Mark's legacy?

For shame, Senator. For shame.

On Hate Crimes Laws

I'm going against the grain in saying this, but I have a problem with Hate Crimes Laws.

Now, as a gay man, I should be in support of it, and believe me, I have tried to see the value in support them. But in the end, my conservative/libertarian values kick in and in good conscience, I can't.

The reason is this: the fight for gay rights, is at its basis, about equality. We don't want to be treated different than others, we don't want to be treated special, we want to be treated in the eyes of the law like everyone else. We want to have the same legal protections that straight couples do. If we get beaten up by some thug, we want to know that the scofflaws will be prosecuted. Hate crimes laws in effect treat people differently. A crime where there seems to be no bias, is treated differently than one that does. In essence, gays get special protections that others don't. As someone who has fought to be treated equally, I get disturbed about this.

I think sometimes the reason hate crimes laws whether they are based race, gender or sexuaulity are so popular, is that some think this will deter people from committing hate crimes. I tend to disagree. Hate is something that is irrational. I doesn't make sense, it is based on emotions. When someone chooses to gay bash, they are doing it out of fear of their own homosexual tendencies or fear of being gay. I really doubt that someone that decides on beating up a gay man is thinking about the consequences. Laws can't change the human heart. I wish it could, but it does not.

In a way, this line of reasoning coincides with those who think that the death penalty is a deterrent. Again, people who commit murder are usually not thinking about whether or not they will get the chair for this. Murder, like bias crimes, are not rational.

That said, it is interesting to see that the White House is threatening a veto on the proposed federal hate crimes bill soley on its addition of sexual orientation. I agree with Andrew Sullivan on this one: the President and his allies on the Christian Right can't have it both ways. Either hate crimes laws should extend to everyone or to no one. This "everyone but the fags" approach only shows how hateful the Christian Right is towards gays and how much the President is willing to lick their boots. Saying it's wrong to attack blacks or Jews, but that it's okay to pick on gays makes no sense. You don't have to like gay people to know that hurting them is wrong.

Jesus loved the sinners he encountered. It would be nice if those who claim to be his followers did the same.

Hate the sin, but love the sinner my ass.

Dale Carpenter explains why he is against the hate crimes laws. He's gay and he was gay bashed nearly 20 years ago.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Because It Worked So Well for the Republicans

The old saw among some Democrats is that the Democratic party is the home for moderates these days and that we moderate Republicans should just become Democrats. (Never mind that there are some major ideological differences between moderate Republicans and Democrats, but that's another story.) The underlying theme is that the Dems are more tolerant of differences than the current GOP. While I do agree that there isn't much room for differences in the GOP, one might be careful to see that the Dems might start becoming just as narrow-minded.

If you haven't read Jonathan Chait's piece in the New Republic about the netroots, you should. He has an interesting story about the "netroots." They have studied the Christian Right and how went on to dominate the GOP. They are fascinated by this and have sought to create the Democrats in their own image.

Three things have come to mind:

First, karma is definitely a bitch. The GOP might finally get a taste of its own medicine and it will not taste good.

Second, moderates in the Democratic party better watch their backs. We might start hearing about "DINOs" in the same way the Christian Right went after "RINOs."

Finally, in all that is true and right, are the Dems out of their freaking minds? Listen, the Christian Right were able to control the GOP and wield power like never before, but it hasn't got us very far. Maybe if there were more dissident voices in the GOP, we wouldn't be in this stupid war in Iraq. The other fact is that a Democratic Party that is only interested in attaining and holding on to power, will be just as bad as the GOP circa 2001-2006: a corrupt party making laws that don't really help Americans, but does help the base (ie: the Medicare Drug Bill). The other thing, is that the Christian Right created a party that doesn't play well with others. The Netroots are doing the same thing and the thing is, our government is set up in a way that for anything to get done, people have to cooperate and compromise. These days the partisans seems to frown on working with the other party, seeing it as tantamount to treason. Well, let's see what was done when both parties cooperated:

  • The Civil Rights Act;
  • The Voting Rights Act;
  • The Interstate Highway System;
  • The Clean Air Act;
  • The Endangered Species Act;
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act;
  • The 1981 Tax Cuts;
  • The 1986 Tax Reform.

These days, not much has got done. We are more interested in being right and pleasing a rabid base, than in actually doing something.

I wish the Dems would turn away from the netroots. But I think they won't and that's sad, because we all know how the story ends- we are seeing it right now.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Time to Make a Change

Andrew Sullivan links to a British Tory who is giving some good advice to his conservative cousins (read: Republicans) accross the pond, in the wake of the pounding we recieved in 2006 :

  • It won't get better. It will get worse. And it will keep getting worse until you do something.
  • You have to be very honest with yourself about what voters think. It may not be the same as what you think. Confusing these two things is very easy. Untangling them is vital.

  • Nothing should be unthinkable. Everyone makes compromises. Failing to compromise with reality is not an option.
  • Core voters will forgive a winner a great deal.

There is a lot to unpack here, but it all makes sense to me. Right now, the GOP knows it's in deep doo-doo, but I think it's scared you-know-whatless to do anything. I also think many of the leaders are living in the echo chamber that is the conservative movement and not really understanding what the public thinks about various issues, being Iraq or global warming. Just because one might say we need to start thinking about pulling out of Iraq or that we need to tackle global warming doesn't make one a liberal. As for the core voters thing, I think on the whole that's true. There's a reason that people like Tom Tancredo or Sam Brownback are not front-runners even though they are in sync with the base.

Will the GOP listen? In time, I think they will because at the heart of it all, a political party wants to win. That said, I agree with my blogmate Pete Abel in saying in might take till 2010 or even 2012 for the GOP to get a clue.

But why listen to me? I'm just a nutty RINO...

Friday, April 27, 2007

It's all about US.

For those of you who don't know, I didn't support the invasion of Iraq back in 2003. We had no solid proof that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and the connection to 9/11 was shaky at best. I'm hardly a pacifist, but I do think that you only go to war when there is a certain threat and you go in to win. Iraq was only a certain threat in the minds of a few neocons.

You'd think I would be all for getting the hell out of Iraq ASAP, but I don't. It's not that I support the war or anything, but I tend to think that we are to blame for the state Iraq is in now and we have to do what we can to set things right. I have no idea what that means, but we have to think about what's best for the Iraqis NOT simply what helps satisfy a political base.

You know, from the beginning, this war has never been about the Iraqis. Both pro-war and anti-war have never really cared about the actual people who live in this country. The invasion was done for political reasons and the urge to withdraw is also political.

Both the White House and the Democrats are dealing in delusions. The Bushies believed that they would be greeted with flowers and are still telling us that we will face another 9/11 if we pull out. The Dems seem to think that if we pull out everything will be fine. Both side have their own version of reality and they are not planning to change their minds. In my humble opinion, both sides are full of it.

I don't have any easy answers here, but we need to think about what is best for the Iraqis. That means that both sides have to own up to some sense of responsibility. The fact is, even though the Bush Administration invaded, he did so with Democratic support and the support of many average Americans. We have to start seeing that Iraq is America's problem, not just the problem of one adminstration. Democracy isn't just about rights, but about responsibilities and we, the United States have a responsibility to help Iraq. We broke it, we have to fix it. We can't simply leave 26 million people to a fate we created.

Having said that, we also can't continue to send our sons and daughters in battle without some plan. The Bushies say we need to keep fighting, but offer no plan on how to at least bring some stability to country and then pulling out. And no, the "surge" isn't a plan.

I get mad with Democrats who talk about the fact that Iraq is in a civil war and we have to leave since we can't be engage in a civil war. Well, Iraq would not be in this position had we not invaded. That's evading responsibility.

I get mad with Republicans who try to scare people into thinking we have to stay to prevent another 9/11. Please, there never was a connection to 9/11 and our staying there isn't going to stop a 9/11. If bin Laden and his ilk want to attack us, they will do so, regardless.

I wish both side would get off of their collective high horse and work together to find a solution that will help our troops and the Iraqis. Some say that there needs to be a political solution to the current mess on the ground in Iraq. I think we also need political solution in Washington as well.