The GOP and the compartmentalization of dignity

There are historians (and I know some personally) who will argue that the “cause” of the U.S. Civil War was not slavery: It was economics.

“Oh, yes, there were some abolitionists who sincerely were opposed to slavery,” the line goes. “But they were the tools of the industrial North, which wanted to destroy cheap labor in the South.” The proof? After the war, the Northern carpetbaggers came and forever changed the face of the nation, especially in the South.

Some others will argue it wasn’t about slavery or economics — it was about states’ rights.

Let’s concede for a moment that true abolitionists were a small minority and were manipulated by Northern robber-barons for their own purposes. Even so, you know who the Civil War remained “about slavery” to? The slaves. Economy, states’ rights… Pfftt! Fact is, when the war ended, the Constitution was amended to give an entire class of Americans rights guaranteed to them that they had never been given, despite being human beings. Before the Civil War, one man could own another in this country; after, they could not. That’s a big deal.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

‘Fed Up!’ may come back to haunt Perry

Gay marriage among issues on which he’s backed away from book

WILL WEISSERT | Associated Press

AUSTIN — Maybe Rick Perry’s not so Fed Up! after all.

Just nine months ago, the Texas governor released a rhetorical bomb-throwing book under that title. He dismissed Social Security as a New Deal relic that smacked of socialism. He said states’ rights trump all else. He suggested that the Supreme Court’s nine unelected “oligarchs in robes” could have their rulings overturned by two-thirds votes in both houses of Congress.

Now that the Republican is running for president, his campaign has begun distancing itself from some of the candidate’s own words on issues such as Social Security and states’ rights.

Pulling back won’t be easy because Fed Up! Our Fight to Save America From Washington is anything but the nuanced list of general positions that fills the pages of most presidential candidates’ books.

Politicians “typically don’t take strong positions. They are largely biographical and usually not specific at all,” said Adam Bellow, editorial director of Broadside Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, who edited Sarah Palin’s two books. “It is unusual,” Bellow said of Fed Up!, “but we are in an unusual moment.”

Perry, who’s shot to the top of many public opinion polls among the GOP contenders, hasn’t shied away from bashing Social Security. Last month in Iowa, he said the program “is a Ponzi scheme for these young people.” Later, he told reporters, “I haven’t backed off anything in my book. So read the book again and get it right.”

Campaign spokesman Mark Miner said “no one can argue that Social Security isn’t broken.”

“The goal was to put these issues on the table and ensure they’re addressed,” Miner said.

But, in his book, Perry goes well beyond criticizing the program’s financing problems and vilifies the entire concept as a failed social experiment.

“Like a bad disease,” he wrote, New Deal-era initiatives have spread. “By far the best example of this is Social Security.” The program “is something we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years now.”

Already, Perry communications director Ray Sullivan was reported as saying that the book is not meant to reflect Perry’s current views on Social Security — even though Fed Up was published just last year.

While skewering the program might help Perry with tea party supporters, it could cost him with elderly voters in Florida and other important states were he to win the nomination, said GOP strategist Ford O’Connell.

“He definitely needs to cut back on the volatile rhetoric and couch his words more carefully or they can come back to haunt him,” O’Connell said.

Polling by the Pew Research Center in June found that 87 percent of Americans see Social Security as good for the country. “The views of the public are, it’s overwhelmingly positive,” said Carroll Doherty, the Pew Research Center’s associate director.

Perry’s GOP rivals are expected to use the book against him, emphasizing the idea that he might be too extreme for independent voters.

“This year, Republicans believe that losing the election means losing the country,” said Alex Castellanos, a Republican strategist who has worked for Perry opponents but is now unaligned.

“Any candidate who displays general election weakness, because his radical views scared seniors, independents, or soccer moms, would be disqualified in the GOP nomination process. A vote for such a candidate in a primary would be seen as a vote for Obama in the general.”

Already, Perry has pulled back from his unequivocal position on states’ rights.

In Fed Up! he writes, “If you don’t support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don’t come to Texas. If you don’t like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don’t move to California.” Elaborating in July about New York’s decision to allow same-sex marriage, he said, “that’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me.”

Perry has since clarified that he’s against gay marriage anywhere, and last month signed a pledge that, if elected, he would back a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman, which would preclude a state’s choice.

He devotes an entire chapter to lambasting the Supreme Court, anticipating that the justices one day issue a ruling forcing nationwide gay marriage on the country. As a check on judicial power, he proposes allowing Congress to override the high court with a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate.

“While ideas like that may sound very cogent to Perry, he may have a real problem explaining them,” GOP strategist O’Connell said.

The governor has long known his book could be problematic in a national campaign. As the polls closed on election day 2010, giving Perry his third full term as governor, he told The Associated Press that Fed Up! proved he was too conservative to seek the White House.

“I think probably the best display, the best concrete evidence that I’m really not running for president is this book,” Perry said, “because when you read this book, you’re going to see me talking about issues that for someone running for public office, it’s kind of been the third rail, if you will.”

—  John Wright

THE AUDIO, THE VIDEO & THE TRANSCRIPTS: Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s big gay marriage flip-flop

On Thursday we told you about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s big flip-flop on same-sex marriage.

Last week, speaking to a group of GOP donors in Aspen, Colo., Perry said New York’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage was “fine” with him because he believes marriage is an issue that should be decided by the states — and not the federal government — under the 10th amendment.

Perry’s comments in Aspen landed him in hot water with social conservatives who’ve historically been among his biggest supporters.

Then, on Thursday, Perry attempted to backtrack during a radio interview with Tony Perkins, president of the anti-gay Family Research Council. Perry declared that “gay marriage is not fine with me” and expressed strong support for a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Gov. Rick Perry

Perry, a likely GOP presidential candidate, maintains that his position hasn’t changed, and that his support for a federal amendment is still in line with states’ rights, because three-fourths of states would have to ratify it. But we’ll let you decide for yourselves after listening to his comments on both occasions.

Above is video of Perry’s comments last week in Aspen at a forum that featured several Republican governors. Perry’s comments about marriage begin just after the 30-minute mark, when the moderator asks him what he thinks about cyclist Lance Armstrong, an Aspen resident, and the issue of stem cell research. Perry ignores the stem cell research question and chooses to focus instead on the FDA’s investigation of doping allegations against Armstrong, citing the probe as an example of Washington’s overreach. Here’s a transcript of Perry’s response:

“The fact of the matter is our federal government is engaged in way too many things that they shouldn’t be involved with at all,” Perry said. “The idea that they’re telling us how to deliver health care, the idea that they’re telling us how to educate our children, the idea that they’re telling [New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez] how to build transportation infrastructure in her state, is just completely and absolutely out of the main line thought of our founding fathers. They had no preception of what that would look like 200 years [ago], but they knew that they wanted to enumerate.

“The 10th amendment clearly states that the powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution nor prohibited to it by the states, are reserved to the states,” Perry said. “The simplicity and the eloquence of that is so powerful. The idea that the federal government is telling us how to deal with issues that we ought to be.

“[Virginia Gov.] Bob [McDonnell] and I are social conservatives,” Perry said. “I am an unapologetic social conservative. I’m pro-life, I’m pro-traditional marriage, and the fact is we passed a constitutional amendment, and it passed by 77 percent of the vote in the state of Texas. Our friends in New York, six weeks ago, passed a statute that said know what, that’s New York and that’s their business and that’s fine with me. That is their call. If you believe in the 10th ame3ndment, stay out of their business if you live in some other state or particularly if you’re the federal government. The idea, the idea that the FDA is spending your tax money going after Lance Armstrong for something someone said he did in France is an absolute atrocity.”

Now for the audio of Perry’s remarks on Thursday, when he was questioned by Perkins about his widely reported comments in Aspen:

—  John Wright

Ann Coulter, the right-wing Judy Garland? Oh puleeze!

Pundit turned stand-up for GOProud’s Homocon, and the jokes were all on the gays

Hardy Haberman | Flagging Left

Ann Coulter
Ann Coulter

Last weekend, the queen of the Neocons met the queens of the Homocon in a surreal event in New York City.

The group GOProud invited Ann Coulter to speak to them. This is the same Ann Coulter who called John Edwards a “faggot.” The same Ann Coulter who claims she has “never failed to talk a gay out of gay marriage.”

The same Ann Coulter who the event organizers called “the right-wing Judy Garland.”

From reports by those in attendance, Coulter delivered less of a speech and more of a stand-up routine. I have no problem with comedians, but her show consisted of gays being the punch line of every joke, if you rule out the jokes directed at black people.

Imagine standing in a group of LGBT people listening to and laughing at a straight woman tossing off one liners like, “Marriage is not a civil right. You’re not black!”

I am waiting for the laugh, and I expect I will continue waiting for a while.

Coulter continued her routine with remarks about why gays and abortion foes should band together, “as soon as they find the gay gene, you know who’s getting aborted!”

I am again left astounded at the strangeness of these self-proclaimed conservative gays who apparently feel chumming around with Ann was worth weathering the insults she spewed.

These folk, and there were only about 150 of them, claim they focus on “federal issues” rather than “state issues like marriage.”

I keep hearing echoes of 1950s white Southerner’s talking about “states rights” when they really meant retaining Jim Crow laws.

What these alleged gay conservatives miss is that to the GOP we are just a punch line.

LGBT Americans are not a group of citizens struggling against discrimination, they are just funny fags who can be so amusing and do a fabulous job decorating and styling hair.

To tell a group of LGBT people that civil rights are the sole property of racial minorities is outrageous, but for that same group to actually stand and pay some blonde bimbo to say it while clinking champagne glasses and making chitchat is appalling.

I fully realize that there will be lots of apologists for this strange event. They will say that I misunderstood the intention of the event; it was “to start a dialogue”… etc.

But a dialogue has to have some kind of give and take. It is not just someone talking and another person waiting to talk.

Perhaps there is some common ground for Coulter and her adoring Homocons in the fiscal responsibility I hear touted by the Republicans. But isn’t it funny that she decided to go for gay jokes instead of substance?

There will also be those who defend the Homocons by pointing to the Democratic Party and saying, “Hey, what have you done for LGBT people?”

To them I would say this, “Not enough!”

Still, at least with the Democratic Party, we are part of a real conversation, and we are not thought of as punch lines. We are not limited to the sidelines and asked to passively stand by while we are insulted and demeaned.

And as to the reference to Judy Garland? Well, for those old enough to remember Miss Garland, whose performances I adored, she was a tortured and sad woman who struggled with drug dependency and emotional ups and downs wilder than any rollercoaster. I suspect a lot of gay men admired her ability to persevere in spite of her problems and let her talent soar.

She was both brilliant and sad but she was bursting with enough talent to transcend the struggle and whisk audiences away over her own personal rainbow.

Ann Coulter, on the other hand, may have charmed the self-loathing Homocons with her snappy quips and tasteless attempts at humor, but for me she would be much better cast as the Wicked Witch of the East.

Now, would someone please drop a house on her?

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Is Greg Abbott going to sit idly by while a federal court throws out Texas’ gay marriage ban?

Greg Abbott

Ten states have submitted a brief opposing same-sex marriage to the federal appeals court that will decide whether California’s Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution, The Associated Press reports. But guess what? Texas isn’t one of them.

Anti-gay Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who’s fought to prevent Texas courts from recognizing same-sex marriage even for the limited purpose of divorce, has failed to get involved in a case that could ultimately result in the state’s marriage ban being thrown out:

Former Utah Sen. Scott McCoy, the first openly gay state senator, said Saturday he is not surprised Utah signed on to the opposition brief. If the California ruling against Proposition 8 is upheld, it would follow that Utah’s Amendment 3, which defines marriage as a union exclusively between a man and a woman, is unconstitutional, he said.

Abbott’s failure to get involved is even more surprising given that the brief filed Friday specifically argues that states, and not federal courts, should determine whether to allow same-sex marriage. As you may know, Abbott is all about states’ rights and protecting us from Washington and the evil federal government. So what gives?

We’ve contacted spokesman Jerry Strickland to find out why the Texas AG’s office has chosen to sit this one out, but thus far no response. Stay tuned.

—  John Wright

Broden’s campaign literature includes anti-gay buzz words but not his party affiliation

Pastor Stephen Broden with Karl Rove

This morning I had campaign literature for Pastor Stephen Broden hanging on my front door when I left the house. He’s running for Congress against incumbent Eddie Bernice Johnson. (I include the title “Pastor” in his name because he does so in the literature.)

I assume Broden is running on the Republican ticket, because his yard signs are red and Johnson is a Democrat. But in his campaign literature he never mentions the R word. Understandable in the heavily Democratic Oak Cliff and Oak Lawn district. But on his website he does mention Tea Party.

On his website, among his list of supporters are a number of people marked “precinct chair.” None of them are listed as “Republican precinct chair,” however.

Broden uses anti-gay buzz phrases to boost his conservative cred. He’s “pro-family” as if he’s campaigning against someone who hates her family.

He’s for a “strong national defense.” Is he talking about keeping a gay translator like Lt. Dan Choi in the military or would that weaken defense? He can’t be talking about Johnson’s House vote for the huge defense appropriations bill that failed to make it through the Senate yesterday because of a Republican filibuster. Note to Broden: Waterboarding might make prisoners talk, but it doesn’t make them talk in English.

He’s for vouchers, so he can send his children to schools that won’t allow gays and lesbians to send their children to those schools. Funny, a few years ago, most Texas schools would have kept his kids out.

His No. 1 reason under “Why I’m running” is “Concern over the turn from founding principles & Judeo-Christian values to socialism.” But he never says which “Judeo-Christian” principles those would be. Probably not the Judeo ones that are quite Socialist. Like commandments about caring for the poor, the sick and treating others as you would be treated — you know, equality.

On issues, he’s pro-10th amendment. That’s the states’ rights amendment. The one that was used to justify slavery is some states since the federal government didn’t prohibit it. The one used to deny blacks the right to vote, since how to register voters was not enumerated in the Constitution and so it was left to the states. Interesting position for an African-American candidate to take.

But I found his omission of affiliation with his party the most interesting part of his door hanger and website. An Independent would actually have a better chance to win that district, but he is the Republican candidate in House District 30.

I’m glad Johnson has an opponent. I’ve lived in her district since she was my Oak Cliff state representative. But no one should be running unopposed. They should have to stand up and defend their record. But candidates should be honest and list their party. Using red ink on printed materials is a wink, wink.

More information you won’t find on his website. Yesterday, Sarah Palin endorsed Broden. On her Facebook page, Palin wrote:

It’s an honor to support Stephen Broden to represent Texas’ 30th Congressional District. As a teacher and pastor he has made it his life’s work to support the good people of the Fair Park and South Dallas areas in the beautiful Lone Star State.

I’m not sure what good a Palin endorsement will do someone in a district that was packed more than 80 percent Democratic in the last redistricting. A better question might be: Why was I reading Sarah Palin’s Facebook page?

—  David Taffet