GOP Elephants Panic At The Sight Of Gay Mice
I’ve got to ask: Why are Republicans so obsessed with gay people?

Other than Hillary Clinton, no individual or group of individuals receives more negative attention from the Republican Party than our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LBGT) community. (For purposes of convenience, I’ll refer to them collectively as “gay” or “homosexual”, even though they’re not all the same.) This should already be evident to anyone with half a brain and an interest in politics. After all, Republican President George W. Bush has come out in support of a constitutional amendment (largely sponsored by Republicans, with almost no support from the Democratic caucuses in either the House or Senate) that would define marriage as a union between man and woman, which clearly shuts out homosexual couples who wish to marry. This move, along with the Republican Party’s continued anti-gay bent, prompted a group of gay Republicans, known as the Log Cabin Republicans, to deny their endorsement to President Bush. Well, the man got what he was asking for.

But none of Bush’s antics compares to the anti-homo sentiment being amplified by some of the Republicans running for the U.S. Senate. Not only do these Senate candidates bother to mention the issue of gays when people are dying in Iraq, losing their jobs and health care at home, and feeling the effects of domestic program cuts and huge tax windfalls for the wealthy pushed through by President Bush and Congressional Republicans, what they say when talking about gays is absolutely bizarre and, frankly, creepy. Let’s see some of this gay-obsessed drivel.

Let’s start with the great state of South Carolina, itself not exactly renowned for acceptance of anyone other than white guys with Confederate fla- er, never mind. In the race to replace retiring Sen. Ernest F. Hollings (D), the Republican candidate is Rep. Jim DeMint, who is actually leading his Democratic opponent, Education Superintendent Inez Tenenbaum, in the polls. What’s sad is how this man obsesses over gay people (as well as his proposal to replace the federal tax code with a 23 percent national sales tax, but that’s another story). DeMint has expressed fears of homosexual teachers – gasp! – teaching our children, because god knows what kind of radical agenda or alternative lifestyles those fags are trying to push on our children’s young and delicate minds, right? What a bunch of bullshit. DeMint even went so far as to propose a kind of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy (similar to the one for gays in the U.S. military) for teachers. (DeMint’s attacks on teachers were not limited to gays; it also included pregnant women who were single and living with the boyfriends who fathered those children. Because we all know that those women, who probably make up 0.01 percent of the total U.S. population, are a threat to mankind.)

However, there’s a serious lesson to be learned from DeMint’s rant on (opposing) gay rights. DeMint, as a U.S. Representative and prospective Senator, would have little to no control over the selection of teachers in South Carolina or in any other state. The only way DeMint would be able to accomplish his goals is if he pushes through national legislation banning gay and pregnant-mothers-living-with-their-boyfriends-who-fathered-their-children teachers. Such legislation would probably die a fiery death because it would be lampooned by Democrats who stand up for gay rights as well as Republicans who stand up for states’ rights. In all likelihood, the only Senators besides DeMint who would support that legislation would be anti-gay bigot Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and the other two gay-obsessed nutheads I describe in this column, if they were to get elected as well. So DeMint’s gay talk isn’t about actual policy; it’s about playing up a cultural issue so he doesn’t have to defend his party’s failed policies on the economy, failed policies on Iraq, failed policies on counterterrorism, failed policies on health care, failed policies on domestic programs, failed policies on homeland security – you get the picture. Plus DeMint hopes to score big on the bigot/homophobic vote, which in a state like South Carolina is probably fairly substantial. It’s a brain-dead form of politics that has assured DeMint’s victory, meaning that DeMint’s mindless homophobic diatribes, which undoubtedly have already depressed the House floor, will now spread to the Senate.

DeMint may have a friend in his anti-gay crusade, though, and that friend would come from a similarly backward state called Oklahoma. There, voters have the delectable choice between a conservative and a far-right lunatic. (I’d hate to be a voter in Oklahoma right now. Or any other time, for that matter.) The race to replace retiring Sen. Don Nickles (R) is one between “moderate-to-conservative” Rep. Brad Carson (D) and former Rep. Tom Coburn (R). While I fear a Carson victory because I have an awful feeling that Carson will defect to the Republicans on many key votes, I would be absolutely mortified at a Coburn victory. Dr. Coburn is a former physician who sterilized a woman, allegedly without her permission, to “save her life”. What, did the thought of her having functional ovaries so disgust our dear doctor that he would have killed her outright had he not eviscerated her reproductive system?

But never mind that, what’s really scary is how Coburn, apparently thinking that there’s a gay stalker creeping over his shoulder and lurking at every street corner, told of “rampant lesbianism” in an entire region of Oklahoma. According to Coburn, one school district had to set a rule allowing only one girl to use the female restroom at a time, out of fear that the school was so overrun by lesbians that they would all be having state-sponsored gang-bangs in the stalls. Now, I wish that there were that many lesbians, especially in a backwards state like Oklahoma, but c’mon. Gay populations as a whole constitute 10 percent of the national population – at most – and I doubt that they’d all look to Oklahoma as Mormons looked to Utah. More importantly, no one at the school or the district could vouch for Coburn’s claim; there apparently is no such rule, nor is there any problem with gays, nor is there a plague of lesbians descending on Oklahoma’s schools. Apparently, Coburn made the whole story up to feed his homophobic imagination – and to score points with bigoted voters? Probably.

None of this, however, tops the Senate candidate Ron Gunzburger of called “King of the Outrageous Statements”: radio show host and frequent candidate-for-many-offices Alan Keyes. He’s running for the seat in Illinois being vacated by Peter Fitzgerald (R). There’s one problem, though: he’s not even from Illinois, he’s from Maryland.  This is actually a fairly interesting story. Alan Keyes attacked then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton for running for a Senate race in New York even though she wasn’t from New York. Now that the shoe’s on the other foot and Keyes is running for a Senate race in a state he’s not from, Keyes explains his change in opinion with the same excuse that Republicans have used for every issue under the sun: 9/11. Okay… but what the fuck does 9/11 have to do with this?  

Keyes has made some of the most outlandish statements on the campaign trail. On October 16, he claimed that the children of same-sex couples would inevitably commit incest because they wouldn’t know who their biological parents were. I can’t really work out the logic behind this not-so-airtight case; I’m guessing that what Keyes means is that because the children of same-sex couples would be adopted, they might not know who their biological parents are, so they could end up having sex with their own siblings. Well, first of all, how is it “inevitable” that such children wouldn’t know who their biological parents are? Second of all, how is this different from any other adopted children? Third of all, why are you bringing up this bullshit?

Keyes has made attacking gays the centerpiece of his campaign (under the banner of some kind of “moral leadership”) and even went so far as to attack Vice President Richard Cheney’s lesbian daughter, Mary. (Oddly enough, that drew little response from Cheney or any other Republican, but when Senator John Kerry mentioned Mary Cheney in the third presidential debate in a positive light, it stirred up a shitstorm among the right-wing militia.) It’s too bad Keyes’s own daughter is a lesbian. I wonder what life is like for him. Does he cry himself to sleep every night, knowing that the homosexual devils he’s dedicated his life to exterminating have corrupted his own flesh and blood?

For Keyes, though, there’s another problem: gay-bashing and sanctimonious preaching of phantom “moral values” is not going to work in the liberal and strongly-Democratic state of Illinois. No wonder Keyes is losing by forty points to his charismatic Democratic opponent, State Senator Barack Obama, in the polls.

So, thankfully, Keyes will not be joining his fellow homophobe Santorum in the nation’s most prestigious legislative body. However, DeMint is widely favored to defeat his opponent and Coburn has a roughly 50-50 chance of defeating his. Will these two Representatives join Santorum and bring to the Senate the same poisoned rhetoric of gay condemnation that they contaminated the House with? Let’s hope not.

President Bill Clinton: Liberal Warrior (!)
How I’ve Made My Peace With Clinton-Gore

Until recently, I was very distrustful and disgusted with the previous Democratic President, William J. Clinton, and his Vice President Albert Gore, Jr. Commonly referred to as Bill Clinton and Al Gore, they presided over what I had viewed as one of the biggest retreats from Democratic Party principles and ideology in modern history. They had used their sell-out strategy of “triangulation”, compromising Democratic principles for shallow political gain. Or so I had thought.

New information garnered from admittedly biased sources – James Carville’s We’re Right, They’re Wrong, E.J. Dionne Jr.’s Stand Up Fight Back, Jules Witcover’s Party Of The People, and Bill Clinton’s own My Life – shows that Bill Clinton and Al Gore were actually liberal stalwarts that fought aggressively to promote the Democratic agenda. This is hard for anyone – including myself – to believe at first glance so let me explain.

When it came to fiscal policy, I have often attacked the Clinton administration vociferously for budget cuts. Indeed, the three most important budgets of the Clinton presidency – the ones passed in calendar years 1993, 1996, and 1997 – all contained some budget cuts. Even after reading the pertinent parts of My Life, I still don’t know what specifically was cut. In that book, Clinton describes his 1993 budget (the one passed in 1993, not the one for 1993) as containing “150 specific cuts”, to a total of $255 billion. But what was cut? Clinton doesn’t really specify but alludes to COLA decreases in Social Security (meaning a slight reduction in Social Security benefits, basically) and decrease in administrative and defense spending. That’s not too bad. As for his 1997 budget, he says he “cut spending in hundreds of other programs”, but again doesn’t specify, meaning that the programs he cut were either so significant he didn’t want to discuss them or that they were so insignificant that spending ink on them would be wasteful. I suspect, based on my newly-found conclusion, that the latter is true.

Clinton brags about raising spending in many programs, including – but not limited to – health care, education, and the environment. A Center On Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) report shows that Clinton spent a healthy amount of money on non-defense domestic discretionary programs towards the end of his second term – ironically, the blurb on Clinton was buried in a report that took the current Bush administration to task for not doing the same.

The 1996 budget is the one that makes me especially proud. That budget was the result of a fierce battle between the newly ensconced House Speaker, Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), and Clinton. Gingrich attempted to ram through serious budget cuts in domestic programs – ones that even President Reagan wasn’t able to achieve – and Clinton held his ground and stood firm, forcing two government shutdowns. (Unfortunately, some of the cuts survived, albeit in more modest form.) I will always look back at this particular episode and hold it as a shining example of how Democrats have and should always stand firm and fight back in the face of the implacable foe that is the Republican Party. Clinton forced Gingrich to back down and essentially derailed his Contract On – I mean, With – America, saving Democratic principles, and by extension, liberalism itself, from a powerful right-wing assault.

Another huge issue on which I have slammed Clinton-Gore repeatedly was the Reinventing Government/National Performance Review (REGO/NPR) program that Clinton subcontracted to Gore. Gore was tasked with making the federal government “work better” by reducing its size, mainly by cutting federal jobs and rolling back useless or redundant regulations. I condemned REGO as a treasonous anti-government measure, and I am still mildly suspicious of it to this day. Yet I now realize that REGO was a well-intentioned measure that was, by all measures, pro-government. As E.J. Dionne put it, “One of the most important tasks of those who believe in government’s purposes is to reform it and make it work. Al Gore’s ‘reinventing government’ project was an underrated achievement of the last administration and could usefully have been pushed even farther.” I understand this now. I also understand that REGO saved money, which could then be used to fund public programs. While I hate the idea of cutting federal jobs, regulations, and spending, the economy was growing so fast that the ex-government workers could easily find new jobs, some (though not all) regulations were somewhat redundant or useless, and the spending was largely bureaucratic and administrative in nature. Most importantly, by making government work better – in We’re Right, They’re Wrong, James Carville points out increased efficiency and better service in such federal government entities as the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Small Business Administration – REGO improved the quality of the federal government and, in effect, made the government that much easier to defend.

The third area where I had beef with the Clinton administration was welfare reform, an issue long held dear by the right. I bitterly opposed the 1996 Welfare and Medicaid Reform Act, a Republican-authored law signed by President Clinton, which reduced welfare benefits and placed restrictions on how many and how long people could be on welfare. However, I discovered in E.J. Dionne’s Stand Up Fight Back that “Clinton’s original welfare proposals were more compassionate than the existing program. But when the Republican Congress kept passing welfare reform bills as the 1996 election approached, Clinton finally signed a version of their less generous plan.” I still abhor the legislation and am disgusted with Clinton’s sell-out on behalf of pure politics, but at least Clinton had wanted a better, more generous welfare plan before the Republicans forced his hand.

Clinton and Gore left a positively liberal legacy. Again, I must cite E.J. Dionne, who asserted that “The talk about Clinton simply offering conservative-lite ignores the fact that he called openly for higher taxes on the rich, condemned ‘trickle-down economics’, saw economic salvation from the bottom up – through a better-trained, more skilled workforce – and thought government spending (‘investment’) could make things better.” Clinton’s conservative rhetoric, Dionne says, was used “on behalf of liberal ideas”. Indeed, one of the things I like most about Clinton was the way he was able to turn the Republicans’ own weapons against them – screwing them over in the process.

Clinton and Gore gave us many other liberal things as well. They gave us a more active, more efficient federal government. They gave us progressive budgets that raised taxes, increased many areas of domestic spending (albeit amidst scalebacks in some other areas), and most importantly, slew the deficit dragon. With the deficit gone, as Clinton senior adviser Rahm Emanuel put it, “you can have an affirmative, positive view of government. You can raise your sights again.” Clinton himself was about to follow up on deficit reduction with a slew of new programs, and was halted only by Monicagate.

Perhaps one of Clinton’s most well-known and well-deserved legacies was the epic economic growth that occurred on his watch. Hardly does a day go by when one Democrat or another crows about the 22 million jobs created under the Clinton administration. This remarkable economic expansion is especially good for the liberal Democratic cause because it proved that economic growth could coexist – in fact, was promoted by – an active federal government that raised taxes. It delivered a devastating blow to the Republican orthodoxy that raising taxes would hurt the economy – though perhaps not devastatingly enough, since Republicans are still squawking that hackneyed line today.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Clinton isn’t suddenly my favorite President, nor do I completely approve of his budgets, REGO, and welfare reform. But if I don’t agree with them 100 percent, I still agree with them 90 percent, and I sympathize and embrace them much more today than I did in the past. All in all, Clinton and Gore were two great Democrats and, yes, two liberal warriors.

Wow! I’m Impressed
Senator Kerry Rocks In Foreign Policy Debate

Senator John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) scored a huge victory in September 30’s foreign policy debate at the University of Miami. He was clear, articulate, and had a sound command of the facts. President George W. Bush (R), on the other hand, looked like a confused and bumbling fool – probably because that’s what he is.

The part where I was most pleased was when the sole question the candidates were asked on homeland security came up. Kerry emphasized that the Bush administration had shortchanged homeland security and instead spent the money on a huge tax cut for the rich – a point that former President William J. Clinton (D) had made at the Democratic National Convention.

“This president thought it was more important to give the wealthiest people in America a tax cut rather than invest in homeland security,” Kerry declared. “Those aren’t my values. I believe in protecting America first. And long before President Bush and I get a tax cut — and that’s who gets it — long before we do, I’m going to invest in homeland security and I’m going to make sure we’re not cutting COPS programs in America and we’re fully staffed in our firehouses and that we protect the nuclear and chemical plants.” This was exactly what the country needed to hear.

Bush gave a lame response, saying he had increased funding to a total of $30 billion a year and increased the number of border patrol personnel. That’s good, but four words, Mr. President: That is not enough. When Kerry replied that “the test is not whether you’re spending more money. The test is, are you doing everything possible to make America safe?” Bush came back with an even lamer response: “Of course we’re doing everything we can to protect America. I wake up every day thinking about how best to protect America. That’s my job.” In other words, in the face of an overwhelmingly solid case, Bush can only offer bullshit rhetoric.

Unfortunately, only one question centered on homeland security so Kerry wasn’t able to press his point further, but I sincerely hope he continues to pound away on homeland security on the campaign trail – and today he did.

I was also pleased at how Kerry finally repudiated the charge on his Iraq “flip-flop”, though I do think he could’ve done it better had he been given more time. This is the explanation the public has needed to hear for a long time – and Kerry gave it last night.

“I know exactly what we need to do in Iraq, and my position has been consistent: Saddam Hussein is a threat. He needed to be disarmed. We needed to go to the U.N. The president needed the authority to use force in order to be able to get him to do something, because he never did it without the threat of force. But we didn’t need to rush to war without a plan to win the peace.

Bush, for his part, pounded away on an overly simplistic theme: that he’s a strong, consistent leader – which is of course not true. He’s flip-flopped on other issues, and even with Iraq he has changed his primary rationale for the war as his previous ones were disproved one by one. Moreover, during the fight over the $87 billion supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan, the President threatened a veto if the supplemental came in the form of a loan and not a grant – yet on the campaign trail blasted Kerry for his nuance position on Iraq by saying “There’s nothing complicated about supporting our troops!” Apparently he forgot about his own nuance on the $87 billion bill. Can this man be any more shameless?

Other than loosing false attacks on Kerry – including an absurd and rather Orwellian charge that Kerry’s campaign rhetoric was undermining the troops – and giving false praise to himself, Bush didn’t have too much else to say. Clearly, Kerry had the edge in this round, and I hope that he can kick Bush’s ass in the next two debates. Whatever the case, I think we’re beginning to see Kerry’s “come from behind” pattern in play, and just like he was able to come from nowhere to topple Dr. Howard Dean in the last few weeks of the Iowa primary contest, I think Kerry has a good chance of coming from behind to topple President Bush in the last weeks of the campaign.