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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Another View of the Log Cabin Endorsement of McCain

Senior Strategist Steve Schmidt addressing Log Cabin Republicans:

I did not attend this event.

Kevin, a Republican blogger at Citizen Crain refutes Crain's analysis of Log Cabin Republicans endorsement of John McCain.

His post calling Log Cabin's endorsement of John McCain this week a "big mistake" was one of the longest he's ever posted, I think, and I can only speculate as to why he's been on such a tear about something that most observers saw coming far in advance. (I would speculate that it was for good reasons, that Chris truly wanted more progress in the GOP, because I know as absolute fact that he doesn't want Log Cabin to fail.) But I think Chris didn't have the context, the history and the real significance of Log Cabin's 2008 decision completely right, and that's where he missed the story.

As he's now reported, the endorsement was warmly accepted by the campaign, which dispatched two of its very senior leaders in person -- and before the media -- to say so. Mike DuHaime (l), the political director (and a Giuliani campaign alum) attended the announcement of the endorsement on Tuesday and gave remarks from the podium saying it was proof that McCain is running an inclusive campaign. Then, senior strategist Steve Schmidt (r), the man seen as the driving force behind McCain's general election campaign, attended an event Thursday and was more personal, effusive and explicit in what he saw as the meaning of Log Cabin's endorsement, and of the broader issues facing gay people, as someone who knows about it first hand as the brother of a lesbian. Schmidt called for Log Cabin to "keep fighting for what you believe in because the day is going to come." The video is here.

As Chris has already pointed out, this is very positive news. And I'll add that the endorsement was woven into it completely. Chris was right to say that the "bar must be lifted" on a consistent basis each election cycle, but he failed to grasp the context of where the bar actually was going into this election, and where it is now after the events in Minneapolis.

Log Cabin is an organization that represents, at best, 800,000 to 1 million votes, or a fraction of a percent of the turnout in the last presidential election. It is also the one group inside the GOP that grates more upon the better organized and more numerous Christian right than any other. And this is a group that publicly and bitterly broke with its party's nominee in the last election four years ago, leaving its access and political capital highly depleted for the second Bush term.

The political price Log Cabin paid for its correct stand in 2004 against George W. Bush may have been the highest of any of its decisions in its history. Already a target of extreme (and unceasing) attacks from the gay left, it was now cast out of the national GOP fold. All the more an indicator of great bravery for a group so small in the big picture. (Does anyone remember anything remotely similar contemplated in 1996 when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act and then bragged about it through campaign ads on Christian radio stations in Colorado, despite being miles ahead in opinion polls?) Measuring where "the bar" would be for Log Cabin as the campaign began last year, therefore, was where I think Chris started to get things wrong.

As they set out with great hopes - despite having no ability to control events -- to fight their way back into the game in 2008, Log Cabin set a couple of basic bottom lines. Support for the Federal Marriage Amendment was a non-starter, and Mitt Romney - for his 180-degree turn away from Log Cabin and supporting gay rights - would have to be punished and stopped from becoming the nominee. And from that basis, they would seek every opportunity to build upward.

By the time they pulled into Minneapolis, Romney was gone, all the men who backed or voted for the FMA in the Congressional vote were defeated. The one man who voted -- and spoke on the floor -- against the FMA emerged the victor. Any Log Cabin leader will tell you that, apart from playing a constructive role in stopping Romney, the organization was in no position after the 2004 breach to have a substantial impact on the primary vote at the ground level or in coalition with Republican national leaders. (For this, their compelling pounce on Romney was a sign of the scrap that has always been in the group's DNA.) In reality, the biggest opportunity to rebuild the blown-up bridges in a way that advanced Log Cabin's mission inside the party would be around the convention and the endorsement decision.

If Log Cabin had merely shown up in Minneapolis, endorsed McCain by press release, and gone home saying they'd simply be focusing on the Proposition 8 fight in California, it would be clear signals that the 2004 action had been more damaging to their capacities inside the party than had been thought. Chris would have certainly declared them finished, and it would be hard to argue against. Some partisan gay Democrats would, of course, be cheering at such news; for purely petty and selfish reasons, they've wanted Log Cabin to fail and disappear for more than a decade. Throughout the blogosphere (including in the comments on this very site) many gays openly call for Log Cabin to be "shunned", to be "silenced", to be "punished" or to have their right to speak, to assemble or even to vote taken away. (The attack on the highly obscure Jonathan Crutchley was a perfect example of this mob mentality that does not, and has never existed, within Log Cabin in return.)

But this didn't happen. And it wasn't going to happen. If you believe that the McCain campaign is captured by the Christian right, and that McCain himself is "gay-bashing" to win this election, there was no sense in, and absolutely nothing that either DuHaime or Schmidt could have possibly gained from, going publicly before Log Cabin's delegation and saying the things they said. The backlash would have been far too severe, if those assumptions were true. And yet, there you are. It happened, and it was another first for a GOP presidential campaign. While Karl Rove did meet with Rich Tafel face-to-face at the 2000 GOP convention, and came to agreement on a number of items in return for an endorsement, he never -- EVER -- would have given a speech before our organization that convention week. And certainly not one with such a personal tone that connected directly to Log Cabin's "fight".

New York Times Public Editor Defends Story on McCain Vetting of Sarah Palin

New York Times:

In our instant-news and celebrity- obsessed culture, Palin went from Sarah Who to conservative rock star in less than a week. In less than two months, she could be elected vice president to serve under the oldest president, at 72, ever elected to a first term, and one with a history of recurring melanoma. Intense, independent scrutiny by The Times and the rest of the news media of Palin’s background, character and record was inevitable and right.

And, yes, it was inevitable, and right to a more limited degree, that her family would come under the spotlight, too. As Bill Keller, The Times’s executive editor, said, “Senator McCain presented Mrs. Palin’s experience as a mother as one of her qualifications for the job.”

It was also predictable that party professionals would object vigorously to stories that might undermine the image they were trying to project of Palin as an accomplished governor successfully juggling her “hockey mom” family duties while fighting corruption in Alaska.

But the Times article that drew the strongest complaints from the McCain camp was the one that questioned not her record but his judgment. Published on Tuesday’s front page, the morning after Palin announced her daughter’s pregnancy, the article said that revelation and a series of lesser disclosures called into question how thoroughly McCain had examined Palin’s background.

This isn't surprising. This article exposed John McCain's reckless methods of decision making.

The article, researched by five reporters and written by Elisabeth Bumiller, quoted anonymous sources as saying that McCain had been holding out hope of choosing Senator Joseph Lieberman instead, and that a campaign team assigned to vet Palin more thoroughly had not arrived in Alaska until the day McCain asked her to be his running mate. A number of Alaska political figures said on the record that they had not found anyone who had been asked anything about Palin by the McCain campaign.

The Times article seemed dramatically at odds with one in The Washington Post two days earlier. The Post article quoted McCain advisers as saying that Palin had been thoroughly vetted, including an F.B.I. background check, and that, “Far from being a last-minute tactical move or second choice when better-known alternatives were eliminated, Palin was very much in McCain’s thinking from the beginning of the selection process.”

So was The Times story wrong, as the McCain camp said? It did contain one error. It said that one potentially embarrassing revelation about Palin was her membership for two years in the Alaskan Independence Party, which favors a vote on whether the state should secede. The assertion was based on an announcement by the party’s chairwoman, Lynette Clark, which The Times failed to tell readers. That was a mistake. “We should have attributed it,” Bumiller said. The next day, Clark said she had been wrong. It turns out that Palin’s husband, Todd, had belonged to the party for a time, and she had addressed its annual convention. The Times corrected the error in two follow-up stories.

But the main thrust of its reporting on the vetting process appears to be holding up. The Post said the next day that a lengthy in-person background interview of Palin by the head of McCain’s vetting team did not happen until the day before she was chosen. It also acknowledged that it had been incorrect when it reported that the F.B.I. had checked out Palin. In her home state, the Anchorage Daily News reported that it had found only one person who was asked anything about the governor before McCain selected her. That was the attorney representing her in an investigation of whether she had abused her power in office.

“We stand by our reporting,” said Richard Stevenson, the editor in charge of Times election coverage.

Many readers, like John Southerland of Ocala, Fla., compared The Times’s handling of John Edwards’s extramarital affair and Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and accused the newspaper of a double standard. The newspaper did not seriously pursue the story about Edwards, a populist Democrat, for months, but it put three stories involving Bristol Palin on the first page of its Web site and two on the front page of the printed paper.

I took The Times to task for not trying to report the Edwards story until he acknowledged his affair, but once Edwards came forward, The Times put it on the front page and continued digging. In Palin’s case, the first hint of the daughter’s pregnancy was the family’s announcement of it, and once that happened, it was front-page news everywhere, including the conservative Washington Times. Palin was the anointed Republican vice presidential candidate, and her family was very much part of the biography she was presenting to voters. Two of the New York Times articles were not directly about Bristol Palin: they were about how well McCain researched his choice and about women’s discussions on how Sarah Palin could balance the demands of the vice presidency with the demands of having a pregnant teenager, a baby with Down syndrome and two other children at home.

By choosing a running mate unknown to most of the nation, and doing so just before the Republican National Convention, John McCain made it inevitable that there would be a frantic media vetting. It turns out that Palin was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it, that she sent e-mail complaining about a lack of disciplinary action against a state trooper who was going through a messy custody battle with her sister, and that she never made a decision as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard, one of her qualifications cited by McCain.

The drip-drip-drip of these stories seems like partisanship to Palin’s partisans. But they fill out the picture of who she is, and they represent a free press doing its job, investigating a candidate who might one day be the leader of the Free World.

Breaking News: GOP Supports Home Schooler for Minneapolis School Board

Well, I received a sample ballot from the Minneaplis City Republican Committee, to assist with my decision making in the September 9th primary election.

The only competitive race for the GOP is next Tuesday, when the Minneapolis school board candidates vie for a spot in the general election.

Kari Reed is the endorsed GOP candidate. Her website is

The sample ballot mailing tells me to only vote for Kari Reed... 'we have an opportunity to bring new ideas to help our failing public schools.'

Before I comment further on Ms. Reed's platform, I need to point out that in 2004, I provided some support to another GOP school board candidate, David Dayhoff. At the time, he made it through the primary, but did not win a seat in the general election. It was hard to find any official support from the GOP party, particularly in mailing out sample ballots. For the record, Mr. Dayhoff actually wanted public schools to work, vs. undermining the process.

The September 2008 issue of my neighborhood newspaper, The Bridge', offered up profiles of all the school board candidates.

Here is Kari Reed's profile....

Reed is a home-school teacher of her five children and has taught English to a refugee family in Zaire and “provided motherly care” for 33 parentless children in El Salvador. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Goshen College in Indiana.

Minneapolis’ public schools “are failing our children now,” Reed said. “The district is asking for more money, and more money is not the answer!” she said of the proposed referendum on a special tax levy for schools. Rather than giving the district more funds, a better education for the city’s children could be found with “more universal tax credits [for private school tuition], charter schools, and more home-schooling.”

When asked why she was running, Reed said “I want parents to know they don’t have to send their children to the local, government-run schools.”

“With less money, you can and should be more creative,” she said. Reed described home-schooling her five children with a South Minneapolis home-school co-op, spending roughly $4,000 per child per year, in contrast to the “$10,000–$15,000” she claims MPS spends per child per year.

“I understand that they have a certain amount of overhead,” she said, but she implied that resources were not being spent effectively and that she would push for as much cost-cutting as possible.

To Reed, the goal of “every child college-ready” by 2020 —from the District’s new strategic plan — is an example of this poor spending.

“Every child doesn’t fit into the ‘go-to-college’ box,” she said. Giving parents more choices for their child’s education would produce the kinds of results Minneapolis schools are not delivering.

It's hard to know where to start, but I'll toss out one response.... the Minneapolis School Board doesn't have the authority to issue tax credits for private school tuition and other options. If she feels strongly about that issue, she should run for a seat in the Legislature.

I find this candidacy, and the GOP party's endorsement and support of it, to be a perverse joke. While it isn't difficult to find fault with public education, electing leadership who would support shutting it down is not a good answer.

The Daily Show's Spectacular Finale

Click on the title to watch the final report from the Daily Show's RNC coverage.

It was a great two weeks of convention coverage. I can't wait to watch the rest of the campaign through their lens.

Information for Tuesday's Primary

This link on the Star Tribune website will ask for your address, and then you'll find out your polling place and which races will be on Tuesday's ballot.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Sarah Separatist

Hat Tip: Jesus General via Cucking Stool.

Primaries: Anti-Gay Jan Schneider is GOP Endorsed and Challenges Incumbent Neil Peterson in Primary

Neil Peterson was one the "override 6." For this reason, Jan Schneider challenged him for the republican endorsement. What's less well known is how she and the anti-gay activist group, the Minnesota Family Council are working to defeat Peterson. This is from Schneider's web site:

Peterson is also one of the lowest rated Republicans ranked by the
Legislative Evaluation Assembly of Minnesota, a constitutional watchdog
group (LEA 2007 ratings)

The Legislative Evaluation Assembly is a group that evaluates social conservative issues. They use the name "Legislative Evaluation Assembly" to mask their true nature.

The Minnesota Family Council has rated Peterson one of the worst
Republicans in the House on pro-family issues (2007 MFC ratings)


Wrong on Family Issues
Representative Peterson strayed from supporting traditional values when he:

Rejected requiring parental notification before dispensing of oral
contraceptives to minors (Erickson amendment to SF2171, 2007)

Voted to allow local governments to grant same sex health benefits at
taxpayer's expense (SF960, 2008 - vetoed by the Governor)

Voted against internet pornography filters in the Hennepin County Library
system (Emmer amendment to HF1973, 2007)

If you live in Bloomington, I'd encourage you to vote for Rep. Peterson in the primary. The last thing Bloomington needs is a nut like Jan Schneider representing them. If she does get through the primary, I anticipate the democrat would win in the general, provided the DFL nominated a strong candidate.

So that's why They Chose that Green Backdrop

Fact is stranger than fiction.

Primary Election on Tuesday, September 9th

Lost amid the recent noise about pregnant 17 year olds, moose hunting, and lipsticky pit bulls is the fact that we have a primary election on Tuesday, September 9th. Depending on where you live, there are some interesting races to consider.

If you care about the Minnesota Senate race, you can weigh in on the challenge to endorsed DFL candidate Al Franken. He's got a late-entry primary challenger.

Several legislative races in both major parties have primary contests next week.

In Minneapolis, 3/7 of the school board is up for re-election. Incumbents Lydia Lee and Sharon Henry Blythe face a pool of interesting challengers. Incumbent Peggy Flanagan is not seeking re-election to the board. Minneapolis elects at-large board members, so it's an open field. The top vote getters on Tuesday will advance to the November general election.

I've received direct mail about a challenge for State Rep. Phyllis Kahn, and I read about the school board race in a neighborhood newspaper. Otherwise, the news about any of these races is sparse and localized. It would be worthwhile for everybody to do a little research over the weekend, and show up on Tuesday to exercise your franchise.

John McCain on Abortion

MTP Interview, January 30, 2000.

MR. RUSSERT: Let me turn to the issue of abortion, which is a difficult one for all candidates. The Right to Life Committee had this to say about John McCain, and I'll put it on the screen for you and your viewers. They say, "Senator McCain's positions have been conflicting, and we do not think he warrants the support of pro-life voters."

You have said that you believe life begins at conception.


MR. RUSSERT: And, yet, you want exceptions for rape and incest.

SEN. McCAIN: And the life of the mother, yes.

MR. RUSSERT: That would be the taking of a human life.


MR. RUSSERT: How is that consistent morally?

SEN. McCAIN: Because I think that these are careful balances that you have to make. And by the way, that also happens to be Henry Hyde's amendment, the wording of Henry Hyde's amendment, who is the leading pro-life advocate in the Congress of the United States. We have to make careful decisions here. These are all moral problems that we have to work out for ourselves. The life of the mother, obviously, is a human life, too. The gripping aspects of rape and incest are terrible situations and we have to kind of come to conclusions, taking into consideration the interests of all parties in this very difficult issue.

I have come to the conclusion that the exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother are legitimate exceptions in this situation, but I don't claim to be a theologian. But I have my own moral beliefs and I hold those. And by the way, I do have a 17-year voting record that's pro-life. Mr. Johnson and the National Pro-Life Committee have turned a cause into a business, and they are very worried that if I have campaign finance reform, all this uncontrolled, undisclosed contributions may be reduced and it may harm them in their efforts to continue this huge business they've got going in Washington, D.C.

MR. RUSSERT: A constitutional amendment to ban all abortions?

SEN. McCAIN: Yes, sir.

MR. RUSSERT: You're for that?

SEN. McCAIN: Yes, sir.

MR. RUSSERT: If, in fact, all abortions were banned in America...

SEN. McCAIN: I understand.

MR. RUSSERT: ...under President McCain...

SEN. McCAIN: Understand.

MR. RUSSERT: ...let's look at our country. What would happen to a woman who had an abortion?

SEN. McCAIN: Obviously, it would be illegal, but I would not prosecute a woman who did that. I would think that it would be such a terrible trauma that--but I would not make those abortions available or easy as they are today in America. And I think that, again, we're talking about a situation which is very unlikely at this time, and I would like to see us ban partial-birth abortion, pass parental notification, parental consent and move forward in the areas that we can move forward in, including working with pro-life, pro-choice Americans on trying to make adoption easier, which is very difficult in America, trying to improve foster care, trying to move together in areas that we can agree on, rather than polarizing us as both ends of the spectrum have done.

MR. RUSSERT: But, Senator, women across the country would say, "Senator McCain, prior to Roe v. Wade, hundreds of thousands of women a year went to the back alleys to have abortions."

SEN. McCAIN: I understand that.

MR. RUSSERT: Many died.

SEN. McCAIN: I understand that.

MR. RUSSERT: And here you are, want to bring that back.

SEN. McCAIN: Perhaps.

MR. RUSSERT: Would you prosecute a doctor who broke the law?

SEN. McCAIN: If a doctor violated the law, I believe that he would be prosecuted. But the fact is that if Roe v. Wade were repealed, then it would then be up to the states in the United States of America to make those decisions. It would not immediately outlaw abortion. It would mean that each state would make the decisions on that issue among the states.

MR. RUSSERT: But if it's a moral issue, you would not want to have any state allow abortion either.

SEN. McCAIN: I would not, but your thesis that a repeal of Roe v. Wade would immediately outlaw abortion isn't true. What would happen, it would then return those decisions to the states.

MR. RUSSERT: But you would hope all the states would outlaw abortion, too.

SEN. McCAIN: Yes, I would. Yes, I would.

MR. RUSSERT: And so a doctor would be criminally liable.

SEN. McCAIN: Would be liable.

MR. RUSSERT: Not criminally.


MR. RUSSERT: A woman would be an accomplice.

SEN.McCAIN: Tim, look. This is...

MR. RUSSERT: This is reality.

SEN. McCAIN: I know.

MR. RUSSERT: It's easier for people to say, "I'm for banning all abortions..."


MR. RUSSERT: ...and then when you apply it in a real-life situation...


MR. RUSSERT: ...circumstances of human beings are involved...

SEN. McCAIN: In a real...

MR. RUSSERT: well as...

SEN. McCAIN: In a real...

MR. RUSSERT: ...the unborn baby.

SEN. McCAIN: And in a real-life situation, we in America want to reduce and eliminate abortion over time. We want to work on those areas in which we agree and then address those we don't agree on. Partial-birth abortion is a practice that's taking place today in America. More than 80 percent of Americans think that that's a terrible procedure. Let's work on that and reduce that.

Most parents in America believe that they should be notified if their child is going to receive or seeks an abortion. I think that that also should be made into law, parental notification. There are areas--adoption, foster care--we need to work together and do it in a lot less confrontational fashion. You and I are talking about some very theoretical situations that don't match with the reality in America and where we are in abortion, although I'd be glad to discuss them with you.

MR. RUSSERT: But go slow on banning all abortions outright?

SEN. McCAIN: It's not so much go slow, recognize reality. Abortion is not going to be banned outright. Recognize that. So in the meantime, we go down the path, trying to work with pro-choice, as well as pro-life Americans to reduce and eliminate abortion. Most pro-choice Americans don't like abortion either and would like to work with us to try to reduce and eventually eliminate, not all, but eliminate abortion in America.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Video of Log Cabin Republicans Luncheon

Check it out here.

Elitism and Personality Politics

First, click on the title of this message for some entertainment not directly related to this post (well okay, sort of....)

One of the really alarming themes that have played repeatedly this week on the public iPod re: Governor Sarah Palin is something like 'She's just like us - isn't that great?'

This topic has come up before, and it is not the exclusive territory of Republicans or Democrats. But it has really gnawed at me the past few days.

I guess I'm an elitist - when I consider candidates for really important leadership roles, I'm not looking for myself in those candidates. I would hope I can find people who have a better education, a bigger range of life experiences, a more notable resume, and a longer list of exceptional accomplishments than you'd find from me.

There's nothing wrong with my life or my resume - I'm happy with it. I have a Bachelor's Degree from a state university, and it has served me well in the life I have led. I've worked hard, had some success and a few misses, and am able to enjoy what I consider to be a comfortable middle-class life. It allows for a certain amount of personal entertainment, some generosity to others, and hopefully some security for the future.

But crimony, I'm nobody special. If I listen to a political candidate talk about themselves and their qualifications for elected office, and all I hear is a playback of my own experience, I'm nervous. See, I don't think the life I've led would be quite enough to merit elected office.

And yet, time and time again, we see a dumbing down of the standard. Now, a Congress and White House full of lawyers with Ivy League educations and well-worn passports is not a guarantee of good decision making. Far from it. But can't we start with a higher bar?

Governor Palin is lauded for her 'common sense'. Here's my experience with that term... I hear it a lot from my own family. It always sounds good on TV or in print, and it's a re-assuring endorsement. But that term also gets thrown about if somebody offers an argument or line of thinking others have not previously heard or understood. It can be used as a way to dismiss what might be a useful conversation, but if it's unfamiliar, it doesn't meet the criteria of 'common sense'. The conversation stops, and we click back to 'Dancing with the Stars'.

We are unapologetic elitists when it comes to sports and entertainment. Even 'Dancing with the Stars' sorts out the wheat from the chaff.

Why do we watch the Olympics? Because the athletes are doing things that the vast majority of us will never do.

Why do people pay a lot of money to hear Renee' Fleming sing at the Met? It's not because she sings like you or I, but because she's on the very tiny list of people who have a particular gift and the requisite training.

And to show that I'm not a total snob, I also like Reba. And Elton John.

Why do the plays of Shakespeare, Moliere, and Shaw continue to be read and performed? It's because they're exceptional. They are in an elite class of writing talents. That mastery of language and storytelling is not comparable to our everyday conversations with people we know.

And yet, when we step to the ballot box, more and more we're being persuaded to aim lower, to vote for ourselves.

I'm not in favor of that trend. Let's demand more, and reach higher.

Tim Pawlenty Expresses Support for Creationism on Meet the Press

He is being interviewed about Sarah Palin.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Log Cabin Republicans Endorsement of McCain/Palin

Chris Crain has an excellent post on the topic. Crain is no liberal.

Is political insanity running rampant among Republicans these days?

First, John McCain threw good sense to the wind and tapped Sarah Palin as his running mate, even though she is untested and astonishingly unqualified to be one septuagenarian heartbeat away from the presidency.

Now Log Cabin joins in the fall foolishness by going forward with an endorsement of the McCain-Palin ticket without even waiting to ask, much less get answers, about the Alaska governor’s unknown views on a range of issues important to gay Americans. We only learned today, for example, that she opposes hate crime laws.

(UPDATE: LCR told Reuters it is taking "a wait and see approach with Gov. Palin about her views on gay issues." Huh? A bit late for that at this point.)

My understanding is that Mike DuHaime, the McCain campaign's political director, thanked Log Cabin from the podium today at the group's luncheon. That's encouraging, though let's see if there's any acknowledgment from the podium of the convention itself. Then again, why wouldn't the political director say thanks? The LCR nod helps confuse voters into believing McCain is a "compassionate conservative" on social issues, and he had to do next to nothing to get it.

(UPDATE: DuHaime told Congressional Quarterly the Log Cabin endorsement is "very helpful" because McCain is "running an inclusive campaign." I rest my case.)

It’s as if our gay Republican friends forgot the basic politics of the carrot and the stick. Now that McCain and Palin are happily chomping away on the endorsement carrot that Log Cabin could have kept dangling in front of them, all they’re left with is the stick. With apologies to my friends among their number, including my beloved co-blogger Kevin, gay Republicans aren’t exactly known for carrying a big stick.

With the Log Cabin endorsement in hand, the pressure is off Palin to commit either publicly or privately to what some accounts suggest is her “openness to anti-discrimination legislation.” If McCain is elected, inside support from Palin might be the best shot at avoiding a veto of workplace protection, since the “inclusive” senator from Arizona has voted against such legislation multiple times.

Cynics will no doubt see the rushed endorsement as a desperate ploy by Log Cabin to gain entree into the GOP’s “big tent,” a concept that gay and pro-choice Republicans have demonstrated a much greater commitment to than has the rest of the party.


This important nugget courtesy of Marc Armbinder:

A CBS News / New York Times poll finds that 48% of Republican delegates support either gay marriage or civil unions for gay people.

With very encouraging numbers like that, Log Cabin ought to have raised the bar on what it takes to win their backing, especially considering McCain opposes absolutely any form of recognition, including largely symbolic domestic partnership registries by local governments and not-so-symbolic D.P. benefits by any level of government or public universities and the like.

Sarah Pawlenty?

Fun little video by Political Muse:

John McCain feels up Bristol Palin

The teenage father is in the grey pullover.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Log Cabin Endorses McCain- Update

Eva and I attended a luncheon hosted by Log Cabin Republicans in Saint Paul, today. At this luncheon, LCR announced that the National Board voted 12-2 to endorse John McCain for President. In a written release LCR President Patrick Sammon said,

“On the most important issue that LGBT Americans faced in the last decade—the federal marriage amendment—Sen. John McCain stood with us. Now we stand with him. Sen. McCain is an inclusive Republican who is focusing the GOP on unifying core principles that appeal to independent voters.”
Perhaps, the more interesting part was this statement,

“Sen. McCain showed courage by bucking his own party’s leadership and the president—twice voting against the amendment. He gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, calling the amendment ‘antithetical in every way to the core philosophy of Republicans.’ He paid a political price for his vote.”
I have emailed the Bachmann campaign requesting comment on the fact that the Republican nominee believes that her values are "antithetical" to the core Republican philosophy.

Respect for Privacy... My A**

If this story gets any weirder, I'm going to need to borrow my dad's oxygen machine.

Levi Johnston to join Palin family at Republican convention
By RACHEL D'ORO , Associated Press

September 2, 2008

WASILLA, Alaska - The boyfriend of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's unwed, pregnant daughter will join the family of the Republican vice presidential candidate at the GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn.

Levi Johnston's mother said her 18-year-old son left Alaska on Tuesday morning to join the Palin family at the convention where Sen. John McCain will officially receive the Republican nomination for president. The boy's mother, Sherry Johnston, said there had been no pressure put on her son to marry 17-year-old Bristol Palin and the two teens had made plans to wed before it was known she was pregnant.

"This is just a bonus," Johnston said.

The young man's presence could set off a media frenzy around the young couple as photographers and cameramen scramble for pictures of the two teenagers. On Monday, Palin and her husband, Todd, said their 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, planned to have the baby and wed a young man identified only as Levi. The family asked the media to respect the young couple's privacy as has been the tradition with children of candidates.

Sarah Palin is scheduled to address the convention Wednesday night and traditionally her family would join her at the conclusion of her speech.

Sherry Johnston said she was worried about her son dealing with all the attention. She said it was difficult enough for teenagers to deal with any pregnancy, having the entire nation watching made it worse.

Levi Johnston, a high school hockey player for Wasilla High School, is not listed on the team roster for 2008-2009, and his mother wouldn't say if he graduated. She said simply he's no longer a student and any further information would have to come from him.

The intense media scrutiny has stunned this suburban community about 40 miles north of Anchorage, with reporters camping out near the Johnston home.

"This is out of my league," Sherry Johnston said. "I'm just a country gal and I want to keep it that way."

She spoke Tuesday while standing in the driveway leading to her pale gray, two-story home situated on a densely wooded country lane. The home, like many in Alaska is adorned with moose and caribou antlers outside.

Many social conservatives have rallied behind Gov. Palin and her family's troubles. The McCain campaign has said the Palins are like any other American family and that "life happens."

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said that Palin's family and her daughter's pregnancy were not relevant to her potential performance as vice president. "I think people's families are off limits," Obama said. "And people's children are especially off limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics."

Just days after she was picked as McCain's running mate, Gov. Palin has become a lightening rod for attention. Aside from her daughter's pregnancy, it was disclosed that a private attorney has been retained for her in a legislative ethics investigation for her dismissal of Alaska's public safety commissioner. It also was disclosed that Palin's husband had been arrested on a drunken-driving charge two decades ago.

Log Cabin Endorses McCain

The national organization announced that they will support the election of McCain and Palin.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Party, Party, Party at the Republican National Convention

It's getting better and better

From the NY Times:

Disclosures on Palin Raise Questions on Vetting Process
ST. PAUL — A series of disclosures about Gov. Sarah Palin, Senator John McCain’s choice as running mate, called into question on Monday how thoroughly Mr. McCain had examined her background before putting her on the Republican presidential ticket.

On Monday morning, Ms. Palin and her husband, Todd, issued a statement saying that their 17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, was five months pregnant and that she intended to marry the father.

Among other less attention-grabbing news of the day: it was learned that Ms. Palin now has a private lawyer in a legislative ethics investigation in Alaska into whether she abused her power in dismissing the state’s public safety commissioner; that she was a member for two years in the 1990s of the Alaska Independence Party, which has at times sought a vote on whether the state should secede; and that Mr. Palin was arrested 22 years ago on a drunken-driving charge.

Aides to Mr. McCain said they had a team on the ground in Alaska now to look more thoroughly into Ms. Palin’s background. A Republican with ties to the campaign said the team assigned to vet Ms. Palin in Alaska had not arrived there until Thursday, a day before Mr. McCain stunned the political world with his vice-presidential choice.

Although the McCain campaign said that Mr. McCain had known about Bristol Palin’s pregnancy before he asked her mother to join him on the ticket and that he did not consider it disqualifying, top aides were vague on Monday about how and when he had learned of the pregnancy, and from whom.

While there was no sign that her formal nomination this week was in jeopardy, the questions swirling around Ms. Palin on the first day of the Republican National Convention, already disrupted by Hurricane Gustav, brought anxiety to Republicans who worried that Democrats would use the selection of Ms. Palin to question Mr. McCain’s judgment and his ability to make crucial decisions.

At the least, Republicans close to the campaign said it was increasingly apparent that Ms. Palin had been selected as Mr. McCain’s running mate with more haste than McCain advisers initially described.

Up until midweek last week, some 48 to 72 hours before Mr. McCain introduced Ms. Palin at a Friday rally in Dayton, Ohio, Mr. McCain was still holding out the hope that he could name as his running mate a good friend, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, independent of Connecticut, a Republican close to the campaign said. Mr. McCain had also been interested in another favorite, former Gov. Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania.

But both men favor abortion rights, anathema to the Christian conservatives who make up a crucial base of the Republican Party. As word leaked out that Mr. McCain was seriously considering the men, the campaign was bombarded by outrage from influential conservatives who predicted an explosive floor fight at the convention and vowed rejection of Mr. Ridge or Mr. Lieberman by the delegates.

Perhaps more important, several Republicans said, Mr. McCain was getting advice that if he did not do something to shake up the race, his campaign would be stuck on a potentially losing trajectory.

With time running out — and as Mr. McCain discarded two safer choices, Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, as too predictable — he turned to Ms. Palin. He had his first face-to-face interview with her on Thursday and offered her the job moments later.

“They didn’t seriously consider her until four or five days from the time she was picked, before she was asked, maybe the Thursday or Friday before,” said a Republican close to the campaign. “This was really kind of rushed at the end, because John didn’t get what he wanted. He wanted to do Joe or Ridge.”

Mr. McCain’s advisers said repeatedly on Monday that Ms. Palin was “thoroughly vetted,” a process that would have included a review of all financial and legal records as well as a criminal background check. A McCain aide said that the campaign was well aware of the ethics investigation and that it had looked into it.

People familiar with the process said Ms. Palin had responded to a standard form with more than 70 questions.

“It was obviously something that anybody Googling Sarah Palin knew was in the news and there was a very thorough vetting done on that and also on the daughter,” the aide said.

Mark Salter, Mr. McCain’s closest adviser, said in an e-mail message that Ms. Palin had been interviewed by Arthur B. Culvahouse Jr., a veteran Washington lawyer in charge of the vice-presidential vetting process for Mr. McCain, as well as by other lawyers who worked for Mr. Culvahouse. Mr. Salter did not respond to an e-mail message asking if Ms. Palin had told Mr. Culvahouse and his lawyers that her daughter was pregnant.

In Alaska, several state leaders and local officials said they knew of no efforts by the McCain campaign to find out more information about Ms. Palin before the announcement of her selection, Although campaigns are typically discreet when they make inquiries into potential running mates, officials in Alaska said Monday they thought it was peculiar that no one in the state had the slightest hint that Ms. Palin might be under consideration.

“They didn’t speak to anyone in the Legislature, they didn’t speak to anyone in the business community,” said Lyda Green, the State Senate president, who lives in Wasilla, where Ms. Palin served as mayor.

Representative Gail Phillips, a Republican and former speaker of the State House, said the widespread surprise in Alaska when Ms. Palin was named to the ticket made her wonder how intensively the McCain campaign had vetted her.

“I started calling around and asking, and I have not been able to find one person that was called,” Ms. Phillips said. “I called 30 to 40 people, political leaders, business leaders, community leaders. Not one of them had heard. Alaska is a very small community, we know people all over, but I haven’t found anybody who was asked anything.”

The current mayor of Wasilla, Dianne M. Keller, said she had not heard of any efforts to look into Ms. Palin’s background. And Randy Ruedrich, the state Republican Party chairman, said he knew nothing of any vetting that had been conducted.

State Senator Hollis French, a Democrat who is directing the ethics investigation, said that no one asked him about the allegations. “I heard not a word, not a single contact,” he said.

Mr. French, a former prosecutor, said that he was knowledgeable about background checks and that, he, too, was surprised that the campaign had not reached out to state legislative leaders.

A number of Republicans said the McCain campaign had to some degree tied its hands in its effort to keep the selection process so secret.

“If you really want it to be a surprise, the circle of people that you’re going to allow to know about it is going to be small, and that’s just the nature of it,” said Dan Bartlett, a former counselor to President Bush and an adviser in both of his presidential campaigns.

Former McCain strategists disagreed on whether it would have been useful for Ms. Palin’s name to have been more publicly floated before her selection so that issues like the trooper investigation and her daughter’s pregnancy might have already been aired and not seemed so new at the time of her announcement.

“Had the story been written about the state trooper three months ago, nobody would care about it anymore,” said Dan Schnur, a former McCain aide who now directs the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California. “It’s a risk. No matter how great the candidate, it’s a significant risk to put someone on the ticket” who hasn’t been publicly scrutinized.

“They obviously felt it was worth the risk to rev up the base and potentially reach out to Clinton supporters,” Mr. Schnur said.

But Howard Opinsky, another McCain veteran, said calling attention to Ms. Palin’s possible candidacy during the search process would have undermined the impact of her eventual selection.

“Had her name been played out in the press for months and months, she wouldn’t have been seen as so bold,” Mr. Opinsky said. “You either get freshness and you have to live with what you get in your vetting or you lose the freshness.”

It's difficult to select a favorite storyline from this mess, but for right now, I'd have to go with the Alaska Independence Party. (Cue the 'Green Acres' TV theme). In a classic episode, the citizens of Hooterville took a vote on seceding from the Union. Just like members of the Alaska Independence Party.

Well, That was Quick

So much for 'Abstinence Only' Sex Education

Palin says daughter, 17, is pregnant
By LIZ SIDOTI , Associated Press

September 1, 2008

ST. PAUL, Minn. - John McCain's running mate Sarah Palin said Monday that her 17-year-old unmarried daughter is five months pregnant, an announcement aimed at rebutting Internet rumors that Palin's youngest son, born in April, was actually her daughter's.

A statement released by the campaign said that Bristol Palin will keep her baby and marry the child's father. Bristol Palin is five months pregnant, and the baby is due in late December.

"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We're proud of Bristol's decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents," Sarah and Todd Palin said in the brief statement.

"Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family," they added.

Sarah Palin's son Trig was born in April with Down syndrome. Internet bloggers have been suggesting that the child was actually born to Bristol Palin but that her mother, the Alaska governor, claimed to be the mother.

McCain adviser Mark Salter said the campaign announced the daughter's pregnancy to rebut those rumors.

Senior McCain advisers said the Arizona senator and his top aides had known about Bristol's pregnancy before offering Palin the No. 2 spot on the GOP ticket.

"Senator McCain's view is this is a private family matter. As parents, (the Palins) love their daughter unconditionally and are going to support their daughter," said McCain spokesman Steve Schmidt.

Said Schmidt: "Life happens."

The plot thickens, and it's only Monday.

Sunday, August 31, 2008


Anchorage Daily News:


Palin was in Texas last week for an energy conference of the National Governors Association when she experienced signs of early labor. She wasn't due for another month.

Early Thursday -- she thinks it was around 4 a.m. Texas time -- she consulted with her doctor, family physician Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, who is based in the Valley and has delivered lots of babies, including Piper, Palin's 7-year-old.

Palin said she felt fine but had leaked amniotic fluid and also felt some contractions that seemed different from the false labor she had been having for months.

"I said I am going to stay for the day. I have a speech I was determined to give," Palin said. She gave the luncheon keynote address for the energy conference.

Palin kept in close contact with Baldwin-Johnson. The contractions slowed to one or two an hour, "which is not active labor," the doctor said.

"Things were already settling down when she talked to me," Baldwin-Johnson said. Palin did not ask for a medical OK to fly, the doctor said.

"I don't think it was unreasonable for her to continue to travel back," Baldwin-Johnson said.

So the Palins flew on Alaska Airlines from Dallas to Anchorage, stopping in Seattle and checking with the doctor along the way.

"I am not a glutton for pain and punishment. I would have never wanted to travel had I been fully engaged in labor," Palin said. After four kids, the governor said, she knew what labor felt like, and she wasn't in labor.

Still, a Sacramento, Calif., obstetrician who is active in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said when a pregnant woman's water breaks, she should go right to the hospital because of the risk of infection. That's true even if the amniotic fluid simply leaks out, said Dr. Laurie Gregg.

"To us, leaking and broken, we are talking the same thing. We are talking doctor-speak," Gregg said.

Some airlines have policies against pregnant women onboard during the last four weeks of pregnancy, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises against flying after 36 weeks.

This was going to be Palin's last flight anyway, her doctor said.

Alaska Airlines has no such rule and leaves the decision to the woman and her doctor, said spokeswoman Caroline Boren. Palin was very pleasant to the gate agents and flight attendants, as always, Boren said.

"The stage of her pregnancy was not apparent by observation. She did not show any signs of distress," Boren said.

Palin never got big with this pregnancy. She said she didn't try to hide it but didn't feel a need to alert the airline, either.

They landed in Anchorage around 10:30 p.m. Thursday and an hour later were at the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Wasilla.

Baldwin-Johnson said she had to induce labor, and the baby didn't come until 6:30 a.m. Friday.

"It was smooth. It was relatively easy," Palin said. "In fact it was the easiest of all," probably because Trig was small, at 6 pounds, 2 ounces.

Palin said she wanted him born in Alaska but wouldn't have risked anyone's health to make that happen.

"You can't have a fish picker from Texas," said Todd.

Palin said she won't take maternity leave but will go with Trig to doctor's visits, physical therapy, whatever he needs. She's breast feeding and plans to bring Trig to work with her, just as she did with Piper.

"It just feels like he fits perfectly," Palin said. "He is supposed to be here with us."

Did She Stand on the Shore and Wave?

My intelligence continues to be insulted.

I don't know which is worse...... the idea that disaffected female Hillary Clinton supporters are squealing in delight over James Dobson's favorite hottie, Sarah Palin, or the suggestion that geography alone provides foreign policy experience.

The events temporarily overshadowed a more traditionally political pre-convention debate over McCain's decision to name Palin to his ticket. She was mayor of small-town Wasilla, Alaska, for six years before she became governor in December 2006.

McCain's wife, Cindy, joined the ranks of the defenders. "The experience that she comes from is with what she's done in the government. And also, remember: Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia. So, it's not as if she doesn't understand what's at stake here," she said on ABC's "This Week."

I can't wait to hear what Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do with this line of reasoning.