The Iowa caucus is tonight and one name that has been mentioned in very few news reports is openly gay candidate Fred Karger.
Karger is mostly sitting out Iowa but has spent more time campaigning in New Hampshire than any other candidate. Two recent polls have him tied with Michele Bachman and Rick Santorum in that state.
The New Hampshire primary takes place Tuesday, Jan. 10.
While his bid was always considered a long shot, he is one of just eight Republicans still left in the race. Herman Cain suspended his campaign. Buddy Roemer is seeking the nomination of Americans Elect. One candidate who is not anti-gay, Gary Johnson, announced last week that he will seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party, rather than the Republican Party. Thaddeus McCotter, another candidate who has been excluded from all of the debates, also left the race.
So while Karger is a long shot, he also remains in the narrowing field along with Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, John Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Santorum.
Karger has been excluded from the debates to keep him from embarrassing the other Republicans over their homophobia.
To keep him from participating in the debates, rules were changed to refuse him a place on stage with other candidates. Those rules included raising the percentage candidates had to poll to qualify and increasing the number of polls in which a candidate had to score that higher percentage. Then polls where he scored the required 2 percent were discounted.
Still, Karger continues in the Republican race, but don’t look for him until next Tuesday.
While other candidates who don’t finish in the top three may be considered big losers in the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, Karger will be considered a big winner if he finishes with more than 1 percent of the vote in New Hampshire or with more votes than any of the other better-known candidates.
As Iowa Caucus nears, taking stock of laughingstock that is GOP field
Months ago, in a column I wrote about the Dallas Public Library and some books, I mentioned recommendations for mysteries by gay writer Mark Richard Zubro. I love Zubro and zipped right through all of his books. I bought the only volume the library didn’t own through its “Be A Book Hero” program, so I got first dibs when it came into the system.
Zubro’s books comprise two series, one built around gay Chicago police detective Paul Turner, the other featuring high school teacher Tom Mason and Tom’s partner, professional baseball star Scott Carpenter. In the latter series, when confronted with some monumental idiocy, Tom is prone to say, “Are you nuts?” — which is also the name of one book in the series.
Phyllis Guest Taking Notes
Well, as I take in as much as I can bear of the Republican presidential primary campaign, I keep asking my screens and my radios that question.
Here’s an example.
One morning on the local NPR station, a network political reporter was asking Republican debate attendees which candidate they favored. One couple, finishing each other’s sentences in their enthusiasm, said: “Newt Gingrich. He’s so honest. And honorable.”
This, about a man who asked his first wife for a divorce while she was in a hospital bed, recovering from surgery; who betrayed his second wife through an affair with the woman who is now wife three; and who was fined $300,000 in 1997-98 for violations of House ethics rules. Not to mention that Newt Gingrich was working to impeach Bill Clinton for seducing Monica
Lewinsky at the very same time he was boffing a Capitol Hill aide of his own.
Here’s another example.
Rick Perry, we have recently learned, not only takes his $150,000 salary as governor while he travels around Iowa in a big, ugly tour bus labeled “Faith, Jobs and Freedom,” but he collects $92,000 in government retirement pay at the same time. He lives in a taxpayer-funded spread that costs, if the news reports have it right, $10,000 per month. He hardly governs at all, and as proof that much governance is unnecessary, he proposes to make the U.S. Congress a part-time organization.
This is a man who also benefits from state-funded security protection, doles out jobs to friends with lots of ready money, and subscribes to a Christian faith so profound that he is one lethal injection away from having killed half the persons put to death in Texas since the ultimate penalty was reinstated in 1977.
And a third example.
Mitt Romney, we all know, grew up rich and got even richer. He sells himself on the basis of his business acumen. But he had a huge head start since his father was George Romney, the CEO of American Motors Corp., Michigan’s governor and a national Republican political player. He’s a very bright guy, no doubt; he has degrees from both Harvard Law School and Harvard Business School. Before entering politics, he ran a management consulting firm and its spinoff, Bain Capital, a very successful private equity firm.
But there is something profoundly weird about the man. When he sought the Republican nomination four years ago, I bought Mormonism for Dummies because I knew almost nothing about that religion. I must say I found it not so much impenetrable as incredible, but don’t take my word for it, read about it yourselves. What is weird, though, is not his religion or even the fact that he says, “Corporations are people, my friend.” It’s his whole persona. He seems to have all the right pieces in all the right places, but with insufficient glue holding them together.
Or how about Michele Bachmann? Shall we talk about her assaults on the LGBT community and apparent astonishment when the daughter of a lesbian confronted her? Perhaps we should consider her husband’s “conversion” therapy.
Or what about Ron Paul? For one thing, the man is even older than I am, and given his adherence to libertarian principles, I cannot imagine how he would manage to get anything done in our contentious, contemptuous capital.
Or why not revisit Herman Cain? I could hardly get past the fact that he thought God had called him to run for president so as to pay attention to his sexual exploits. I did manage to notice that his much-vaunted stint as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza was a full 15 years ago.
Finally, consider Rick Santorum, who apparently eschews both self control and birth control and so has seven children, and Jon Huntsman, who apparently lacks the gene for the rabid right-wing statements the party base demands.
So, Republican candidates and Republican voters, I put it to you: Are you nuts?
Phyllis Guest is a longtime activist on political and LGBT issues and is a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 30, 2011.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s presidential campaign suffered yet another setback Tuesday when Bob Vander Plaats, a leading social conservative in Iowa who serves as president of the anti-gay Family Leader organization, endorsed Rick Santorum in the state’s Jan. 3 Republican Caucus.
Perry’s campaign had actively courted the Family Leader’s endorsement, and he signed the group’s controversial “marriage pledge” last month. Politico notes that Perry is in a three-way battle for Iowa’s coveted evangelical vote against Santorum and Michele Bachmann. Vander Plaats’ endorsement could help determine who moves on to New Hampshire and who does not.
Adding salt to Perry’s wounds, Don Wildmon, founder of the American Family Association, endorsed Newt Gingrich on Tuesday. If you’ll remember, the AFA, which is considered an anti-gay hate group, teamed with Perry for The Response, the August prayer rally in Houston that served as a kickoff for his presidential campaign — and at which Wildmon embraced Perry on stage. Right Wing Watch reports on Wildmon’s endorsement of Gingrich:
Wildmon today appeared on Focal Pointwith Bryan Fischer where he explained that while he was initially “ecstatic” about Rick Perry’s candidacy, he decided that because of the Texas governor’s disastrous debate appearances his candidacy “cannot recover.” Wildmon said that electability matters because “we are facing the most critical election this nation has ever seen, the stake in this election is Western civilization.”
At a historic hotel in Maquoketa, 61-year-old Len Ditch sat in the front row, wearing a Perry for President sticker. He said he liked Perry’s commercials in Iowa — especially one recommending that Congress be made part-time. He liked another one advocating prayer in schools but questioned why Perry had included a reference to gays serving openly in the military.
“I don’t believe in the gay world. But I believe live and let live,” he said.
Meanwhile, KWQC Channel 6 in Davenport, Iowa, has posted a transcript from an interview with Perry in which the station asked Perry about “Strong” and whether he thinks being gay is a choice. Read the excerpt below:
WASHINGTON — Republicans are growing significantly less satisfied with the field of candidates to challenge President Barack Obama next year, and they are about evenly split in their support for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, a new Associated Press-GfK poll finds.
Despite Obama’s low approval ratings and deep vulnerability over his handling of the U.S. economy, the poll of all people surveyed, including Democrats and independents, found Romney and the president statistically even. Obama leads Gingrich 51 percent to 42 percent.
With three weeks remaining before the Iowa caucus, the first contest where voters actually declare their choice of a candidate, Romney’s argument that his Washington outsider status sets him apart has not blocked Gingrich’s stunning climb to the top of the field.
A similar AP-GfK poll of Republicans in October found Gingrich well behind the leading candidates, with 7 percent. Romney had 30 percent.
The new poll conducted earlier this month finds Gingrich preferred by 33 percent of Republicans and Romney by 27 percent. However, that finding falls just within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 6 percentage points.
All other candidates are in single digits.
The poll also found a considerable drop in satisfaction with the overall Republican field. In October, 66 percent of Republican adults were satisfied, and 29 percent unsatisfied. Now, 56 percent are satisfied and 40 percent unsatisfied.
Voter preferences in early voting states such as Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina do not necessarily match those in national polls. The Iowa caucus is Jan. 3. The New Hampshire primary is one week later.
At a time when polls show plummeting public approval of government, the 68-year-old Gingrich has a long history in the capital as a member of Congress, speaker of the House of Representatives and, since 1998, a lucrative, Washington-based consultant, speaker and author.
Except for four years as Massachusetts governor, Romney, 64, has spent his career in business and management. He ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 1994 and for president in 2008.
Both men have earned millions of dollars over the years. Romney has built his campaign largely on the argument that his business background makes him better suited for the presidency than anyone else, especially on creating jobs in an economy where unemployment remains at 8.6 percent. But in a recent debate in Iowa, Romney at first struggled to name issues on which he and Gingrich disagree.
After citing Gingrich’s support for a mining colony on the moon and changes to child labor laws, Romney said: “The real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector. I understand how the economy works.”
Among Republicans who say they prefer a non-Washington candidate, Romney has a modest edge over Gingrich. Gingrich has a larger advantage among those who say they prefer Washington experience in a nominee.
Romney’s better showing in a head-to-head matchup with Obama may give him some ammunition with Republicans whose top priority is ousting the president. Otherwise, Republicans appear to see Romney and Gingrich as similar in many important ways. The two men polled about evenly on the questions of who would be a strong leader, has the right experience, understands ordinary people’s problems and can bring needed change. Romney holds a clear edge on who is most likable. Gingrich leads on the question of who “has firm policy positions.” Romney is often asked about his changed positions on abortion, gay rights, gun control and immigration. Gingrich, however, also has shifted views on key issues.
AP Deputy Polling Director Jennifer Agiesta and News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.
Still polling in the single digits in Iowa and faced with the prospect that the Republican presidential primary is becoming a two-man race between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is desperately resorting to extreme anti-gay tactics. In response to President Barack Obama’s memorandum today saying the U.S. will use foreign aid to promote LGBT rights abroad, Perry issued this statement:
“Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights.
“This administration’s war on traditional American values must stop.
“I have proposed a foreign aid budget that starts at zero. From that zero baseline, we will consider aid requests based solely on America’s national security interests. Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.
“But there is a troubling trend here beyond the national security nonsense inherent in this silly idea. This is just the most recent example of an administration at war with people of faith in this country. Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong.
“President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles. I will not make that mistake.”
Also condemning Obama’s memorandum was GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, according to CNN:
“I would suggest that we give out humanitarian aid based on humanitarian need, not based on whether people are promoting their particular agenda,” Santorum said. “Obviously the administration is promoting their particular agenda in this country, and now they feel its their obligation to promote those values not just in the military, not just in our society, but now around the world with taxpayer dollars.”
Santorum, who has long been an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, said Obama needed to clarify his stance on marriage rights. Obama has said he is “evolving” on the issue, but does not currently support the rights of gays to marry.
“He said he’s for traditional marriage, and now he’s promoting gay lifestyles and gay rights, and he’s fighting against traditional marriage within the courts, and I think he needs to be honest,” Santorum said.
UPDATE: According to the Washington Blade, Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese issued a statement in response to Perry’s remarks.
“Rick Perry has made no secret of his dislike for LGBT Americans – but his most recent remarks are outrageous even by his own standards,” Solmonese said. “It is bewildering that someone who wants to be President of the United States wouldn’t want to see our nation be a global leader in universal human rights. This is further proof that Rick Perry doesn’t want to represent the best interests of all Americans — he wants to advance an extremist, anti-gay agenda that represents the fringe views of a very small few.”
UPDATE NO. 2: Log Cabin Republicans also issued a statement:
“With all due respect, Governor Perry is wrong. Speaking out for the basic human rights of LGBT people to life and liberty is anything but ‘at war with American values,'” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans executive director. “Throughout his administration, President George W. Bush was strongly committed to supporting and protecting dissident and minority voices abroad. Our nation can be proud of its long, bipartisan legacy of promoting freedom for all. Around the globe today, gay and lesbian people are often subject to ‘corrective’ rape, state-sponsored torture, imprisonment and execution. Combatting these injustices is not advocating for any kind of ‘special rights,’ and it is shameful for Governor Perry to suggest that American people of faith do not support protecting vulnerable populations from brutality.”
We all know that good traditional GOP values include family and limited government. So of course it makes sense to demand of GOP presidential candidates that they insist on pursuing a divisive family issue by creating needless bureaucracy. (Insert sarcastic eye roll here.)
I think that’s what frustrates me the most about Republicans: Not that we have disagreements over policy (I hardly walk lock-step with Dems on all issues, for that matter), but that the astounding hypocrisy of their positions goes unnoticed by their followers.
The height of hypocrisy this week is a demand by those bigoted hatemongers at the National Organization for Marriage that GOP presidential candidates sign a pledge to investigate the gay community for making their malicious members feel bad for being homophobes. Well, sorry, but I think you should feel bad for being a racist or a hater, though you certainly have a right to do it. That’s what America is about.
What’s remarkable is, three frontrunners — gay closet-bride Michele Bachmann, gay-sex by-product namesake Rick Santorum and politically desperate flip-flopper Mitt Romney — have signed the pledge.
You can read more about it here, but really, that’s all you need to know.
Who’da though Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry could look like progressives next to these morons?
Current Republican presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich used a right-wing Christian forum Saturday, Nov. 19, to claim “the left” is trying to “drive out the existence of traditional religions … and use the government to repress the American people against their own values.”
He made the comment in the context of a discussion about whether religious-oriented adoption agencies should be allowed to refuse adoptions to same-sex couples. Some states, such as Massachusetts, have cut off government funding to adoption groups that refuse to obey state laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation.
At that same event, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that gay couples in Texas cannot adopt, which isn’t true, strictly speaking. Gays and lesbians can adopt as individuals, and in most cases, that person’s partner can do a second-parent adoption separately.
Without referring to gay groups or the LGBT community specifically, Gingrich lashed out against a movement that, since the 1960s, has gone from “a request for tolerance to an imposition of intolerance … [and] closing down those with traditional values.”
Gingrich said he would support a law that would cut off “all federal funding to any jurisdiction that discriminates against religious beliefs in that format.”
The forum was the “Iowa Thanksgiving Family Forum,” sponsored by the Family Leader group of Iowa, as well as the National Organization for Marriage and Focus on the Family. Its format was an “around the family table” kind of conversation with Gingrich and five other Republican presidential hopefuls, including Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Perry.
Mitt Romney, who has been eschewing most Iowa events, declined an invitation.
The candidates responded to questions from a moderator and from several representatives of the host groups, including Brian Brown of the National Organization for Marriage. The topics centered around such broad themes as values, morality and liberty, with a strong bent toward the view that the country is divided into conservatives — who are all happy, God-loving citizens — and liberals, who are all sad and out to destroy religious freedom.
As has become his routine, Santorum boasted about his superiority in the GOP field when it comes to opposing marriage between same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage, he said, “radically changes the entire moral fabric of our country.
“Gay marriage is wrong,” said Santorum. “As Abraham Lincoln said, the states do not have the right to do wrong. … America is an ideal. It’s not just a Constitution.”
But only Cain spoke up when Brown solicited responses for what each candidate would do, as president, if the U.S. Supreme Court should overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.
Cain said he would “lead the charge to overturn the Supreme Court.” After some prodding from the moderator, Gingrich did offer up that he thought it important to “make DOMA not appealable” in the courts.
Brown’s questions came near the end of the two-hour event, held at the First Federated Church in Des Moines. His first, directed to Rep. Paul, was whether he would support an amendment to the federal Constitution to ban same-sex marriage. It was an odd question, given that Paul has for years been on record publicly as opposing such an amendment and voted against it in 2004.
Paul reiterated his opposition, noting that he believes generally that the issue should be left to the states or, preferably, to individual churches and families.
But Paul added that he does support DOMA.
Brown then asked other candidates to explain why they believe a federal marriage amendment is necessary. Santorum jumped in with a recap of his strategy to “stop this problem” through battles state by state. Bachmann touted her own leadership against same-sex marriage in Minnesota.
The forum was marked by dramatically emotional moments in which the candidates shared personal stories related to their faith.
Santorum acknowledged having decided to keep an emotional distance from his infant daughter who he believed would soon die in order to avoid the pain of the potential loss.
Herman Cain talked about what it was like to hear that he had stage four cancer.
Michele Bachmann recalled what it was like, as a child, to watch her mother sell the family’s dishes and other possessions after she divorced Bachmann’s father.
The moderator, Fox News contributor Frank Luntz, and news reports indicated 3,000 people were in attendance at the forum. The chief sponsor, The Family Leader, helped organize last year’s ousting of three Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted with the unanimous court to say the state constitution required equal treatment of same-sex and heterosexual couples under marriage laws.
As you’ve quite possibly heard, anti-gay GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was glitter-bombed by a gay activist Tuesday, during a book-signing prior to a fundraiser for the right-wing Minneapolis Family Council. Watch video of the incident from the AP below.
Clayton M. McCleskey, a contributing writer for the Dallas Morning News, writes on the newspaper’s Opinion Blog that he thinks the incident was “an embarrassment to the gay community and to the gay rights movement”:
If gay rights activists take issue with Gingrich’s less-than-enlightened stance on gay rights, then there are many ways for them to raise the issue. Taking a bag of glitter and dumping it on Gingrich’s head is not one of them. That was a cheap shot. If the goal is to show that gays should be treated like the normal folks they are, is it all that productive to bring glitter into the debate?
According to Andrew Belonsky at Death+Taxes, the glitter bomb was not only productive, it was “fabulous”:
ACT-UP’s members enacted the most sensational and compelling of all gay protests: in 1987, they sprawled out at the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway to demand more access to newly developed AIDS drugs, and that same year hung their famous “Silence Equals Death” banner in front of Ronald Reagan’s White House. Seventeen years later, ten nude ACT-UP activists protests the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York.
Though some of the group’s protests were grim, they all effectively employed a blithe spirit, catapulting them onto front pages around the nation, and the world. So too has Erickson’s stunt, which will hopefully inspire more imaginative and playful protests that capture the nation’s attention.
This morning NBC announced its new fall line-up, which includes The Celebrity Apprentice. The show’s host, Donald Trump, announced he’s not running for president during NBC’s “upfronts,” the announcement of the new season.
Trump said the decision wasn’t easily made, “especially when my potential candidacy continues to be validated by ranking at the top of the Republican contenders in polls across the country.” However, Trump never seemed serious. In earlier statements, he made his priorities clear when he said he would make no announcement before the end of the Celebrity Apprentice season because of his contract with NBC.
Since the White House Correspondents Dinner where President Barack Obama and Seth Meyers made Trump the butt of many of the evening’s jokes, Trump has lost 10 points in most polls. Ratings on his show plummeted. Before Trump’s announcement, NBC said (threatened?) that his show could continue with a different host.