Dumb and Dumber

Perry

Brokeback Perry

Two pieces of Rick Perry news today: His portrait was unveiled at the Capitol in Austin. And Perry endorsed Donald Trump today.

Perry’s portrait now hangs on the first floor in the rotunda just two pictures away from Ann Richards. They’ll be separated only by Gov. George Bush.

While endorsing Trump, Perry said he’d consider the vice presidential spot on a Trump ticket.  And why not? He’d balance the ticket well. They both have real estate. Trump has Trump Tower. Perry has his hunting camp Ni***rhead.

Trump made New Yorkers look like idiots. Perry, well, he succeeded a governor who already did that for Texas, but he enhanced the image a great deal.

Perry once called Trump a cancer on the Republican Party and a “false prophet.” “A man too arrogant, too self-absorbed, to seek God’s forgiveness is precisely the type of leader John Adams prayed would never occupy the White House,” Perry said about Trump in a speech last summer.

Here’s one of Perry’s most entertaining quotes about the man he endorsed: “Donald Trump is the modern-day incarnation of the ‘Know Nothing’ movement.”

Hello pot? Kettle calling.

So, we look forward to a Trump-Perry ticket. Dumb and Dumber bumper stickers already being printed.

—  David Taffet

Trump celebrates Cinco de Mayo

Here he is ladies and gentlemen, the presumptive GOP nominee for president of the United States, Donald Trump. Aren’t we all just so proud?!

(But seriously, after the party nominated Sarah Palin for VP, are we surprised that it’s come to this?)

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—  Tammye Nash

Clinton, Sanders respond to 2016 presidential HIV/AIDS questionnaire

Bernie Sanders and Hillary ClintonIn February, a coalition of more than 50 AIDS and HIV service organizations, including AIDS Arms and Houston’s Legacy Community Health, sent a survey to presidential candidates from both parties to assess their stances on HIV/AIDS policies and initiatives. Candidates were question on their positions on HIV stigmatization laws, research funding and needle exchange policies.

Of the five candidates still in the race, only the two Democrats — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders — have responded.

In general both support policies supported by HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention advocates. But when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of policy, Clinton shines.

On the issue of ending HIV criminalization laws, here’s Clinton’s take:

As President, I will work with advocates, HIV and AIDS organizations, and Congress to review and reform outdated and stigmatizing HIV criminalization laws — and I will call on states to do the sameI will continue to aggressively enforce the Americans with Disabilities Act and other civil rights laws to fight HIV-related discrimination. And I will ensure that my Administration releases the latest facts about HIV transmission and risk behaviors to counter unnecessary laws and work to educate prosecutors about the latest science of HIV to reduce unnecessary charges against people with HIV that are not scientifically valid. 

Here’s Sanders’ take:

We should continue and expand the policies that are working. The United States has clearly come a long way in its attitudes towards sexual orientation, gender identity, and health status, but there is still a long way to go. We must ensure that health providers, social services, law enforcement, and all other entities have proper resources and training to handle the varying needs of the community they serve. Schools must be giving students age-appropriate, comprehensive sex education. I echo the Strategy’s recommendation that all Americans should have access to scientifically-accurate information regarding HIV infection. For starters, I would direct FDA to update its blood donation policy. The recent update was a step in the right direction, but a blanket one-year ban is still not supported by science. I have joined other Members in asking FDA to implement a risk-based policy for all donors.

Click here to read Clinton’s complete response. Click here to read Sanders’ complete response.

For what it’s worth, the coalition is still happy to receive responses from remaining GOP candidates Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, businessman Donald Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich. In absence of a response, however, the coalition reviewed campaign literature, speeches or other positions of the candidates but found no information directly related to HIV/AIDS issues addressed in the survey.

—  James Russell

WATCH: An actual political ad from 50 years ago that’s oddly relevant today

Screen shot 2016-03-13 at 1.38.16 PMIn 1964, when LBJ was running against Barry Goldwater (dramatized in the current DTC production All the Way), his campaign ran the following ad — four minutes in length, just one longshot of a man talking to the camera. It’s an amazing relic from our political past, and quite effective to me. Listen to the words, though. He might as well be talking about Donald Trump or Canadian-born Rafael Ted Cruz.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A report from the campaign trail

Sanders wins more primaries this week, but Clinton gets more delegates; Kasich waffles on ‘religious freedom’ laws

candidates

Lisa Keen  |  Keen News Service
lisakeen@mac.com

The Democratic presidential candidate who appears to have the most LGBT support narrowly lost a major primary Tuesday, March 8, to the Democratic presidential candidate who boasts the most consistently pro-gay record.

The only Republican presidential candidate who has encouraged business owners to respect LGBT people appeared this week to back off that position. And to this mix, add the Republican frontrunner’s new rally feature: asking participants to raise their hands and “solemnly swear” to vote for him and saying, “Bad things happen if you don’t live up to what you just did.”

Wins vs. delegates

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders picked up a surprise win in the Michigan primary Tuesday, as did Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.

Polls leading up to Tuesday gave Democrat Hillary Clinton the advantage in Michigan. She appeared to have had significant support from the LGBT community in Michigan. Gay philanthropist Jon Stryker, head of the Kalamazoo-based Arcus Foundation, contributed heavily to political action committees supporting Clinton. LGBT organizers in Royal Oak on Sunday hosted former President Bill Clinton. And Michigan LGBT newspaper publisher Susan Horowitz said she supports Clinton.

But of the six states that held Democratic balloting between Saturday and Tuesday, Sanders won Michigan and three others (Kansas, Maine, and Nebraska) and Clinton won two (Louisiana and Mississippi). That kept up a general trend, so far, of Sanders winning in the northeast and Midwest, and Clinton winning in the south.

Though Clinton won fewer states in the past week, she picked up more delegates (152 to Sanders’ 136) and is now more than halfway to securing the 2,383 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination. Sanders is 24 percent of the way.

While Trump is the Republican frontrunner, he has only 37 percent of the 1,237 delegate votes needed to secure the nomination. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has 29 percent, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has 12 percent, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich has 4 percent.

Unless Kasich and Rubio can pull off victories in their home states next Tuesday, March 15, the Republican contest could soon be a two-man race.

But Trump continues to lead in most of the remaining polls — including in Florida and Ohio — and maintains the lion’s share of media attention.

That continued this week when Trump began asking rally participants to swear an oath to him, unleashing open discussion of a concern that Trump’s rhetoric and tactics are reminiscent of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Trump has also had security personnel to remove protesters from his rallies.

Abraham Foxman, a former head of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Times of Israel, “As a Jew who survived the Holocaust, to see an audience of thousands of people raising their hands in what looks like the ‘Heil Hitler’ salute is about as offensive, obnoxious and disgusting as anything I thought I would ever witness in the United States of America.”

Trump called on his audience to make the pledge in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 5, and Concord, N.C., on Monday, March 7. Photos from the events show some people holding their hands up in a classic pledge pose, with their forearms perpendicular to their upper arms. But many held their arms straight out from their bodies in a pose reminiscent of Hitler’s salute.

Asked about it by various television news reporters, Trump said the oath was just “for fun” and that his audiences were beckoning him to “do the swear in.”

Kasich waffles

Republican Party leaders are distraught over the seeming likelihood that Trump will win the nomination and many have been throwing their support behind Rubio and Kasich. Anecdotal information suggests LGBT Republicans are getting behind Kasich, too.

Many LGBT Republicans were pleased with Kasich’s remarks during a Feb. 25 debate in Houston about the refusal of some to do business with same-sex couples.

“If you’re in the business of selling things, if you’re not going to sell to somebody you don’t agree with — OK, ‘Today, I’m not going to sell to somebody who’s gay and tomorrow maybe I won’t sell to somebody who’s divorced’.

“If you’re in the business of commerce, conduct commerce,” Kasich in Houston. “That’s my view. And if you don’t agree with their lifestyle, say a prayer for them when they leave [the shop] and hope they change their behavior.”

But during the latest debate on March 3, Fox News reporter Bret Baier said “some faith leaders got nervous about that answer” and asked Kasich “Do gay marriage dissenters have rights?”

Suddenly, Kasich seemed to waffle. After rambling about trying to be “a man of faith every day as best as I can,” he then restructured the conflict into one that gay couples were causing.

“Look, you’re in the commerce business, you want to sell somebody a cupcake, great, OK? But now they ask you to participate in something you really don’t like — that’s a whole ’nother issue, OK? Another issue,” Kasich said.

He reiterated that he didn’t agree with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down state bans on same-sex marriage and that he favors “traditional marriage, a man and a woman.”

“If you go to a photographer to take pictures at your wedding, and he says, ‘I’d rather not do it,’ find another photographer. Don’t sue them in court,” said Kasich. “You know what the problem is in our country? In our country, we need to learn to respect each other and be a little bit tolerant for one another.”

“…At the end of the day, if somebody is being pressured to participate in something that is against their deeply-held religious beliefs, then we’re going to have to think about dealing with the law,” Kasich said.

At that same debate, Baier then asked Cruz, “Do you believe a gay couple should be able to adopt?” (This was four days before the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order that said Alabama had to accept an adoption approved in Georgia for a same-sex couple.)

Cruz said, “Adoption is decided at the state level, and I am a believer of the 10th Amendment in the Constitution. I would leave the question of marriage to the states. I would leave the question of adoption to the states.”

On Monday, a voter in Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., confronted Kasich about his revised position. According to the Washington Post, the voter “asked if the governor would stand for the rights of gay people to be served just as Lyndon Johnson had stood for the rights of black people.”

The Post said Kasich “tried to pull [the voter] over [to his side] by portraying the religious liberty fight as one good people could agree not to have.”

“Don’t make laws until you think you need to,” Kasich said, according to the Post. “Let’s take a deep breath and see if we can get along. … If common sense doesn’t prevail, we can pass a law.”

He did not, apparently, identify which law he would want to pass.

Reacting to Kasich’s remarks, the Clinton campaign Twitter feed posted a graphic of a smiling Clinton against a rainbow background with the message “Marriage equality is the law of the land — Deal with it.”

Coming up

The race for the nomination in both parties now rushes into the District of Columbia (Saturday, March 12) and five delegate-heavy states: Illinois, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and Missouri.

The Clinton Twitter feed, @HillaryClinton, has been posting numerous LGBT-related messages. A March 4 post says, “Today, nearly 100 #LGBT leaders from all across Illinois announced their support for @Hillary Clinton.”

The list includes State Rep. Kelly Cassidy; Chicago Aldermen James Cappleman, Ray Lopez, and Deb Mell; Community Leader Bernard Cherkasov; long-time activist Rick Garcia; and NGLTF Creating Change Co-Chair Kenny Martin-Ocasio.

A March 5 post says, “We should be supporting LGBT kids — not trying to change them. It’s time to end conversion therapy for minors.” And a March 6 video showed same-sex couples together, with Clinton saying that “I’m running for president to stand up for the rights of LGBT Americans and all Americans.”

© 2016 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.

—  Tammye Nash

Trump promises to ‘bring people together,’ even the LGBT people, if he is elected

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After having the Iowa caucus win stolen from him by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, Donald Trump headed to New Hampshire this week to try and improve on what polls say is his double-digit lead headed into next Tuesday’s primaries there. And Sue O’Connell with NECN’s (New England Cable News)  Broadside show was there to interview him live on camera.

O’Connell, who is a lesbian and also co-publisher of the LGBT newspaper Bay Windows, did manage to ask Trump if the LGBT community can expect more “forward motion” on our issues, but got only a vague “bring people together” in return.

After noting that she is a lesbian and that the LGBT community has seen great progress on civil rights and equality issues in recent years, O’Connell asked: “When President Trump is in office, can we look for more forward motion on equality for gays and lesbians?”

“Well, you can,” Trump responded. “And we’re gonna bring people together. That’s your thing. Other people have their thing. We have to bring all people together, and if we don’t we’re not gonna have a country anymore. It’s gonna be a total mess. It’s a mess right now but it’s gonna be even more of a mess.”

Then Trump declared his love for the people of New Hampshire and pledged that once he is elected he will solve “the heroin problem, the drug problem” in New Hampshire that he’s heard so much about, and that he will do that by building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

Watch the 6-minute-18-second interview here.

—  Tammye Nash

Cruz wins Iowa caucuses, Clinton barely edges Sanders

Ted CruzTexas Sen. Ted Cruz won Iowa’s Republican caucuses last night, beating businessman Donald Trump 28 percent to 24 percent, with Florida Sen. Marco Rubio receiving 23 percent.

The most drama came in the Democratic caucus. In the caucus, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton garnered 49.9 percent to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 49.6 percent. While the Iowa Democratic Party called the race for Clinton, Sanders declared the race a “virtual tie.”

Two candidates also announced they were suspending their campaigns: Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who came in a very distant third in the caucus, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who won Iowa’s GOP caucus in 2008.

While LGBT issues did not play a deciding role among Iowa Democrats, they were a hot topic among Republicans. Evangelicals and social conservatives dominate the state’s GOP caucuses. Cruz and Trump played a tug of war for the social conservative endorsement. Among vocally anti-LGBT leaders, Cruz had the backing of Bob Vander Plaats of the Family Leader, while Trump earned the endorsement of Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.

“From threatening to overturn nationwide marriage equality, to campaigning with a notorious ‘kill the gays’ pastor in Iowa, to using transgender Americans as a punchline on the trail, Ted Cruz has spared no opportunity to attack the dignity and rights of LGBT Americans,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Gregory T. Angelo, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, dalso enounced Cruz’s win.

“Log Cabin Republicans will continue to advocate for a common-sense conservative presidential nominee while ramping up our campaign to make Hillary Clinton’s anti-gay past known. Log Cabin Republicans does not endorse in primary elections, but we encourage all our members to step up as our members in Iowa did today to advocate for a stronger, more inclusive GOP. This presidential race is fluid and far from over,” he said in a statement.

Candidates are now focusing their eyes on New Hampshire’s primary election on Feb. 9.

—  James Russell

Jeffress says he can’t endorse Trump — as he endorses him

Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church of Dallas

First Baptist Church Pastor Robert Jeffress

Churches and their pastors can’t endorse political candidates without risking losing their tax exempt status. But that didn’t stop the So-Called-Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of Dallas megachurch First Baptist, from making sure that everyone knows Donald Trump is his man. (See video below.)

Jeffress, who wasted no time making a name for himself as an anti-gay crusader when he moved to Dallas from Wichita Falls in 2008, flew to Iowa over the weekend to introduce the GOP’s leading presidential contender at an appearance at Dordt College. (This is at least the second time Jeffress has introduced Trump; he also did so at a rally in September at the American Airlines Center. And as the Dallas Morning News reported here, later in September, Jeffress joined Kenneth Copeland and some other right-wing hatemongers at a gathering at Trump Tower in New York City to lay hands on The Donald “in prayer.”)

In Iowa, Jeffress acknowledged the limitations placed on pastors when it comes to politics, but then continued on with what basically amounted to a “screw that, I am endorsing Trump anyway” moment: “Although as a pastor I cannot officially endorse a candidate, I want you to know I would not be here this morning if I were not absolutely convinced that Donald Trump would make a great president of the United States,” Jeffress said.

He also warned that only Trump could save the U.S. from its current “death spiral,” and that the country would not survive “another third term of Barack Obama in the form of” Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders.

He wound up the intro by describing Trump as “a great leader, a great visionary and a great American.”

Now, I am not endorsing any candidate for president. But I will say this, if the idea of a candidate that gets Robert Jeffress’ backing scares you — and it should — then you need to make sure you are registered, and you need to MAKE SURE YOU VOTE.

—  Tammye Nash

A debate watcher’s guide to batshit-crazy Republicans!

Jones, Arnold WayneNow that Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race — technically, he has “suspended” his campaign, sort of the way a cattle rustler gets “suspended” from committing larceny by a vigilante posse — many gay Texans are probably scratching their Stetsons with quizzical looks on their faces wondering, “Garsh … who can I vote for now?!” Fear not, Log Cabinites! I have prepared this handy-dandy voters’ guide to help you navigate the remaining slate of GOP candidates, in more-or-less descending order of incompetence, ignorance and hate-mongering (including his or Carly’s current rounded average ranking in the polls according to RealClearPolitics.com). Keep it close as you watch the presidential debates on CNN tonight. It’s educational and fun!

Ted Cruz (7 percent) and Mike Huckabee (4 percent). No, these aren’t the same person, they just seem like it because they share the same batshit-crazy ideas. Both are fundamentalist Christians, and both foolishly cleave to their skewed understanding of the Bible, the role of religion in American politics and, frankly, our constitutional structure. Huckabee is slightly more of a dolt than Cruz, but when you factor in that the Canadian-born Cruz is a lawyer whereas Huckabee just a hick from the sticks and an ordained preacher, you can forgive the ignorant redneck slightly more. Both think that Kim Davis had a right not to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Both, surprisingly, think that the Dred Scott decision — which was overturned by an amendment to the Constitution — is still good law and it’s just that no one enforces it. Both are more loyal to God than to their oaths, logic or humanity as a whole. They are homophobic demons who, if there were a God, would have been struck down by lightning years ago for perverting Her message.

Ben Carson (18 percent). Ben Carson was a pioneering surgeon at separating conjoined twins, but that seems to be where his educational achievements and intellectual pursuits end as well. He is a climate-change denier. He does not believe in the “myth” of evolution and has no reason to doubt the earth is as old as the Bible says. (Carbon dating is irrelevant, according to Carson, cuz God could make anything as old as He wanted.) He takes the “political” position that homosexuality is a sin, and suggested that prison “makes” people gay. He’s compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, and had to apologize for it. He’s black, but thinks “Black Lives Matters” is divisive. He wants a flat tax and to abolish the I.R.S. (How you collect even flat taxes without the I.R.S.? Not sure.) As a non-politician, Carson is ignorant of the world as a whole, admittedly lacking familiarity with such issues as Israeli political parties and NATO members. I somehow doubt he could find Canadian-born Ted Cruz’s homeland on a map if we spotted him Mexico and the U.S. Short course: He’s a kook.

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Donald Trump (29 percent). At his appearance in Dallas Monday (in a not-sold-out American Airlines Center, not that he’ll ‘fess up to that), Trump rambled on and on with drivel and self-aggrandizing statements about football, himself and himself again. Because Trump is not a politician and has never been elected to any office, he thinks broad-stroke ideas about “jobs” and “immigration” substitute for specifics. So, for instance, he wants to fight immigration by building a 2,000-mile-long wall on the southern U.S. border and “making Mexico pay for it.” (How you force a foreign country to pay for an infrastructure program on your own soil he’s vague about.) He also promises to increase American jobs … but won’t say how. (He’s knows he can’t just say “You’re fired!” to the elderly and children, right?) He has a foolproof plan to combat ISIS, but will only share it if we elect him. (Gee, you’d think he’d want to prevent genocide ASAP; guess not.)  He will consider shutting down the U.S. government in its entirety to prevent Planned Parenthood from getting any federal funding. For the record, PP gets about $550 million in public monies; the 16-day 2013 government shutdown cost the economy $24 billion, or about 44 times as much as PP gets, according to S&P. (Anyone who would spend $24 billion to save $550 million shows exactly why he’s forced so many of his companies into bankruptcy.) He also devolves to ad hominem insults against others, from attacking Carly Fiorina’s face and John McCain’s war record. His statements about gay issues aren’t the worst among the Republican slate, actually — he acts resigned to SCOTUS’ marriage equality ruling, if not enthusiastic about it — but his overall incompetence, abrasiveness and arrogance make him the most likely to ruin America in the long run. America isn’t a business you leverage — it’s a nation of people whom you serve. Folks like Trump don’t get that.

Carly Fiorina (4 percent). The best thing Fiorina has going for her? Being the undeserved target of The Donald’s jackass-fueled vitriol. (Vitriol! Regular Unleaded and Premium available as your local KKK fill-up station!) Worst thing about her? Literally every other fact of her life. Just as Carson is the GOP’s “black friend,” Carly is their “girlfriend,” the one woman in a lineup larger than the Miss American pageant who proves Republicans have nothing against chicks. What they don’t have is any skill in picking a good one. (Possible reason: All qualified women are too smart to be members of the Republican party.) Fiorina is a failed candidate for public office, and was a disaster as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, eventually getting fired for virtually running the tech giant into the ground. I, for one, am not a fan of the “business folks can be good chief executives of the nation” line of reasoning, but if it were true, don’t you want one who actually did a good job? Romney’s business background makes her look like a schoolchild with a lemonade stand at the North Pole.  She’s anti-choice, anti-marriage equality, was pro-Prop 8 and pro-gun nuttery.

Rick Santorum (1 percent). He’s just as much a fundamentalist, just as crazy, as Mike and Canadian-born Ted, but because he’s barely even alive in the polls, he’s less of threat to sanity. On the plus side, his name is a synonym for sloppy, dirty gay sex. Oh, and he’s anti-abortion but his wife had an abortion. So he’s also a hypocrite. Sound familiar?

Bobby Jindal (n/a). Another non-entity from a political standpoint, he’s anti-immigration even though his parents were immigrants; he’s a fundamentalist about Christianity, even though he converted to the faith as an adult. He’s one of the worst state executives in the country, ruining his state’s economy, then doubling down to welcome homophobic groups to his state just as Ohio was backing off from their ill-fated effort at institutionalized hatred. He’s not just a nut — he’s a coconut. If he weren’t such a blip in the polls, he’d probably be higher on this list.

Rand Paul (3 percent). Another doctor-who-seems-to-know-nothing, Paul was a darling until his overwrought devotion to libertarianism got him in hot water with the GOP faithful. He’s actually said we don’t need the EPA or the Clean Water Act because the environment has never been better in 50 years … right, because that’s when we passed the EPA and Clean Water Act. Like all doctrinaire goofballs, he can’t see the error of his logic. But at least he didn’t run to Kentucky to embrace Kim Davis … and he’s from Kentucky.

Marco Rubio (6 percent). This sad wannabe looks like what the GOP thinks voters want, sort of the way Steve Guttenberg became a movie star. No one really thinks he’s qualified, but he’s young and attractive and speaks Spanish (but won’t because “Immigrants!”) and so will give the Republicans someone to hold up to voters younger than Chuck Norris to support. Trouble is, no one in the base feels that way, so while Rubio might stand a chance in the general, he’s a non-starter in the primaries. He’s also not very bright, so far as I see. He’s pro-life (i.e., anti-choice), opposes equal pay for women, has voted against raising the debt limit, was pro-DOMA and basically stands as a party-line hack.

Lindsey Graham (n/a). I do declare! This closet case has only two saving graces: First, even South Carolina Republicans can’t put him on the polls, and second, he’s close friends with Joe Biden. Frankly, I’d like to see a face-off between Biden and Graham in the general. At least it would appear civilized.

Scott Walker (4 percent). His greatest claim to fame is surviving a recall election and demonizing unions and teachers, but ever since he actually started running for president, this cheesehead has been virtually irrelevant on the national scene. He’s not even doing all that well in Iowa, which is right next door to his state. He’s just the latest example of a small-state governor with a national profile who thinks popularity at home translates into higher national office. Ummm, he’s wrong.

Jeb! (8 percent). Since the B in Jeb stands for Bush, he doesn’t get a last name. But he also hasn’t earned the exclamation point. He’s the tone-deaf zero of the pack, the slow-witted assistant high school principal who believes the kids think he’s cool, even though they know he’s a tool. With Colbert last week, he acted like he was on the edge politically when he said, “I don’t think Obama has bad motives.” Whoa! Imagine! He flirts with alienating his base by assuming our president wants to do a good job! If that doubles for “moderate” in the GOP, you see why Jeb doesn’t generate as much support even in his party as “undecided.” Like his brother, I think he’s actually a good guy who is so desperate to be president as a kind of birthright, he’ll betray every instinct he has to win. Oh, and his handling of the Terri Schiavo incident also makes him a total dick. That’s someone you can’t trust.

Chris Christie (2 percent). Even I was surprised that Christie managed to appear so near the “top” of my “not the worst candidate” list, but given the clown car that is the GOP slate, that’s like saying, “which rusty knife do you want plunged into your eye?” He’s a typical Jersey politician, an opportunist who, more than anyone aside Trump, “tells it like it is” but who is actually quite dangerous. He’s not an enemy to, for instance, the gay community, but he’ll never be a reliable friend. He’s comfortable wadded in scandal. He’s the Bill Clinton of the GOP, and I mean that in the worst possible way.

John Kasich (3 percent). I have very little respect for someone who will attend a gay wedding and then come out against it “officially,” as this man did. But considering that he has experience in Congress and as a chief executive, he’s got the political chops and the history that make him, at a minimum, qualified. Which is more than you can say about every other person in the debate.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A debate watcher’s guide to batshit-crazy Republicans!

Jones, Arnold WayneNow that Rick Perry has dropped out of the presidential race — technically, he has “suspended” his campaign, sort of the way a cattle rustler gets “suspended” from committing larceny by a vigilante posse — many gay Texans are probably scratching their Stetsons with quizzical looks on their faces wondering, “Garsh … who can I vote for now?!” Fear not, Log Cabinites! I have prepared this handy-dandy voters’ guide to help you navigate the remaining slate of GOP candidates, in more-or-less descending order of incompetence, ignorance and hate-mongering (including his or Carly’s current rounded average ranking in the polls according to RealClearPolitics.com). Keep it close as you watch the presidential debates on CNN tonight. It’s educational and fun!

Ted Cruz (7 percent) and Mike Huckabee (4 percent). No, these aren’t the same person, they just seem like it because they share the same batshit-crazy ideas. Both are fundamentalist Christians, and both foolishly cleave to their skewed understanding of the Bible, the role of religion in American politics and, frankly, our constitutional structure. Huckabee is slightly more of a dolt than Cruz, but when you factor in that the Canadian-born Cruz is a lawyer whereas Huckabee just a hick from the sticks and an ordained preacher, you can forgive the ignorant redneck slightly more. Both think that Kim Davis had a right not to grant marriage licenses to gay couples. Both, surprisingly, think that the Dred Scott decision — which was overturned by an amendment to the Constitution — is still good law and it’s just that no one enforces it. Both are more loyal to God than to their oaths, logic or humanity as a whole. They are homophobic demons who, if there were a God, would have been struck down by lightning years ago for perverting Her message.

Ben Carson (18 percent). Ben Carson was a pioneering surgeon at separating conjoined twins, but that seems to be where his educational achievements and intellectual pursuits end as well. He is a climate-change denier. He does not believe in the “myth” of evolution and has no reason to doubt the earth is as old as the Bible says. (Carbon dating is irrelevant, according to Carson, cuz God could make anything as old as He wanted.) He takes the “political” position that homosexuality is a sin, and suggested that prison “makes” people gay. He’s compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, and had to apologize for it. He’s black, but thinks “Black Lives Matters” is divisive. He wants a flat tax and to abolish the I.R.S. (How you collect even flat taxes without the I.R.S.? Not sure.) As a non-politician, Carson is ignorant of the world as a whole, admittedly lacking familiarity with such issues as Israeli political parties and NATO members. I somehow doubt he could find Canadian-born Ted Cruz’s homeland on a map if we spotted him Mexico and the U.S. Short course: He’s a kook.

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Donald Trump (29 percent). At his appearance in Dallas Monday (in a not-sold-out American Airlines Center, not that he’ll ‘fess up to that), Trump rambled on and on with drivel and self-aggrandizing statements about football, himself and himself again. Because Trump is not a politician and has never been elected to any office, he thinks broad-stroke ideas about “jobs” and “immigration” substitute for specifics. So, for instance, he wants to fight immigration by building a 2,000-mile-long wall on the southern U.S. border and “making Mexico pay for it.” (How you force a foreign country to pay for an infrastructure program on your own soil he’s vague about.) He also promises to increase American jobs … but won’t say how. (He’s knows he can’t just say “You’re fired!” to the elderly and children, right?) He has a foolproof plan to combat ISIS, but will only share it if we elect him. (Gee, you’d think he’d want to prevent genocide ASAP; guess not.)  He will consider shutting down the U.S. government in its entirety to prevent Planned Parenthood from getting any federal funding. For the record, PP gets about $550 million in public monies; the 16-day 2013 government shutdown cost the economy $24 billion, or about 44 times as much as PP gets, according to S&P. (Anyone who would spend $24 billion to save $550 million shows exactly why he’s forced so many of his companies into bankruptcy.) He also devolves to ad hominen insults against others, from attacking Carly Fiorina’s face and John McCain’s war record. His statements about gay issues aren’t the worst among the Republican slate, actually — he acts resigned to SCOTUS’ marriage equality ruling, if not enthusiastic about it — but his overall incompetence, abrasiveness and arrogance make him the most likely to ruin America in the long run. America isn’t a business you leverage — it’s a nation of people whom you serve. Folks like Trump don’t get that.

Carly Fiorina (4 percent). The best thing Fiorina has going for her? Being the undeserved target of The Donald’s jackass-fueled vitriol. (Vitriol! Regular Unleaded and Premium available as your local KKK fill-up station!) Worst thing about her? Literally every other fact of her life. Just as Carson is the GOP’s “black friend,” Carly is their “girlfriend,” the one woman in a lineup larger than the Miss American pageant who proves Republicans have nothing against chicks. What they don’t have is any skill in picking a good one. (Possible reason: All qualified women are too smart to be members of the Republican party.) Fiorina is a failed candidate for public office, and was a disaster as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, eventually getting fired for virtually running the tech giant into the ground. I, for one, am not a fan of the “business folks can be good chief executives of the nation” line of reasoning, but if it were true, don’t you want one who actually did a good job? Romney’s business background makes her look like a schoolchild with a lemonade stand at the North Pole.  She’s anti-choice, anti-marriage equality, was pro-Prop 8 and pro-gun nuttery.

Rick Santorum (1 percent). He’s just as much a fundamentalist, just as crazy, as Mike and Canadian-born Ted, but because he’s barely even alive in the polls, he’s less of threat to sanity. On the plus side, his name is a synonym for sloppy, dirty gay sex. Oh, and he’s anti-abortion but his wife had an abortion. So he’s also a hypocrite. Sound familiar?

Bobby Jindal (n/a). Another non-entity from a political standpoint, he’s anti-immigration even though his parents were immigrants; he’s a fundamentalist about Christianity, even though he converted to the faith as an adult. He’s one of the worst state executives in the country, ruining his state’s economy, then doubling down to welcome homophobic groups to his state just as Ohio was backing off from their ill-fated effort at institutionalized hatred. He’s not just a nut — he’s a coconut. If he weren’t such a blip in the polls, he’d probably be higher on this list.

Rand Paul (3 percent). Another doctor-who-seems-to-know-nothing, Paul was a darling until his overwrought devotion to libertarianism got him in hot water with the GOP faithful. He’s actually said we don’t need the EPA or the Clean Water Act because the environment has never been better in 50 years … right, because that’s when we passed the EPA and Clean Water Act. Like all doctrinaire goofballs, he can’t see the error of his logic. But at least he didn’t run to Kentucky to embrace Kim Davis … and he’s from Kentucky.

Marco Rubio (6 percent). This sad wannabe looks like what the GOP thinks voters want, sort of the way Steve Guttenberg became a movie star. No one really thinks he’s qualified, but he’s young and attractive and speaks Spanish (but won’t because “Immigrants!”) and so will give the Republicans someone to hold up to voters younger than Chuck Norris to support. Trouble is, no one in the base feels that way, so while Rubio might stand a chance in the general, he’s a non-starter in the primaries. He’s also not very bright, so far as I see. He’s pro-life (i.e., anti-choice), opposes equal pay for women, has voted against raising the debt limit, was pro-DOMA and basically stands as a party-line hack.

Lindsey Graham (n/a). I do declare! This closet case has only two saving graces: First, even South Carolina Republicans can’t put him on the polls, and second, he’s close friends with Joe Biden. Frankly, I’d like to see a face-off between Biden and Graham in the general. At least it would appear civilized.

Scott Walker (4 percent). His greatest claim to fame is surviving a recall election and demonizing unions and teachers, but ever since he actually started running for president, this cheesehead has been virtually irrelevant on the national scene. He’s not even doing all that well in Iowa, which is right next door to his state. He’s just the latest example of a small-state governor with a national profile who thinks popularity at home translates into higher national office. Ummm, he’s wrong.

Jeb! (8 percent). Since the B in Jeb stands for Bush, he doesn’t get a last name. But he also hasn’t earned the exclamation point. He’s the tone-deaf zero of the pack, the slow-witted assistant high school principal who believes the kids think he’s cool, even though they know he’s a tool. With Colbert last week, he acted like he was on the edge politically when he said, “I don’t think Obama has bad motives.” Whoa! Imagine! He flirts with alienating his base by assuming our president wants to do a good job! If that doubles for “moderate” in the GOP, you see why Jeb doesn’t generate as much support even in his party as “undecided.” Like his brother, I think he’s actually a good guy who is so desperate to be president as a kind of birthright, he’ll betray every instinct he has to win. Oh, and his handling of the Terri Schiavo incident also makes him a total dick. That’s someone you can’t trust.

Chris Christie (2 percent). Even I was surprised that Christie managed to appear so near the “top” of my “not the worst candidate” list, but given the clown car that is the GOP slate, that’s like saying, “which rusty knife do you want plunged into your eye?” He’s a typical Jersey politician, an opportunist who, more than anyone aside Trump, “tells it like it is” but who is actually quite dangerous. He’s not an enemy to, for instance, the gay community, but he’ll never be a reliable friend. He’s comfortable wadded in scandal. He’s the Bill Clinton of the GOP, and I mean that in the worst possible way.

John Kasich (3 percent). I have very little respect for someone who will attend a gay wedding and then come out against it “officially,” as this man did. But considering that he has experience in Congress and as a chief executive, he’s got the political chops and the history that make him, at a minimum, qualified. Which is more than you can say about every other person in the debate.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones