Tuesday, September 30, 2008
These situations are painful enough without the added burden of worrying about whether a health care facility will recognize that you really are part of your partner's family. Some hospitals do a wonderful job of giving equal recognition to partners. Others put up road blocks that result in tragic consequences.
TEP believes that all persons in Tennessee ought to have the comfort of knowing that they can be with the ones they love during health emergencies. When the General Assembly reconvenes in January, we intend to advocate legislation that would offer more protections for those facing these situations.
The truly disgusting thing about Sarah Palin isn't that she's totally unqualified, or a religious zealot, or married to a secessionist, or unable to educate her own daughter about sex, or a fake conservative who raised taxes and horked up earmark millions every chance she got. No, the most disgusting thing about her is what she says about us.
Monday, September 29, 2008
She is slated to be in Nashville on October 27 for the fifth annual Economic Summit for Women. She will also be in Knoxville for the grand opening of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at UT-K.
The visit comes in the wake of the first female majority on the State Supreme Court with the appointment of Justice Sharon Gail Lee.
In light of the House vote rejecting the bailout, what now?
Phil Bredesen, Gov. (D-Tenn.):
Stay calm, let the House leadership on both sides fashion some changes that will bring along more votes. Note to traders, investors, politicians: bad time for a herd mentality.
In fact, it's been pretty quiet. In comparison with past stories related to the GLBT community, this one hasn't drawn that many comments. There have been just a few blog posts out there. Sean Braisted is supportive...with some questions and qualifications. Truman Bean is enjoying the fact that he has prophetic gifts or enjoying hating the fact that he told us so or something. It's hard to tell. Council Member Megan Barry's every move excites him a great deal. And he want us all to know, but he hates telling us. He must be modest.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
"They are better suited to be representing inner-city Memphis than the rural hills of East Tennessee," said Mumpower.
In other words, he's reminding voters that Rep. Vaughn is African-American and that Rep. Yokely votes as if he were, in Minority Leader Mumpower's view. Not only does he use racial coding in mentioning Memphis, he underlines it by saying "inner-city." His phrase "better suited" basically means that some people belong in some places but not others.
This nonsense is beneath any elected official, especially a party's leader in one of our houses of government who should have as his care the welfare of our entire State.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Weirdest line: John McCain asserting that South Koreans are three inches taller than North Koreans. When John McCain sizes up world affairs, he doesn't mess around. Smirk.
Clearest list: Obama discussing where he stood on the financial plan in the first question. Four points. Much better answer than McCain's. Obama also offered a good list in response to the question about whether we are more secure after 9/11 when he mentioned needing to do better in transit, ports, and chemical sites.
Most self-deprecating: McCain to Jim Lehrer when he asked, "Are you afraid I couldn't hear him?"
Mr. Congeniality: Obama hands down. McCain denied the title twice and Obama showed his best manners the entire debate.
Boldest/Craziest Proposal: McCain who said he could go for a spending freeze except for veterans, national defense, and entitlements. Obama had a good comeback, though, with the line that we need a scalpel, not a hatchet.
Most guest stars: McCain who mentioned Sen. Ted Kennedy, Sen. Hillary Clinton, the late President Ronald Reagan, former Secretary of State George Shultz, and Sen. Joe Lieberman among others. But Obama might have bested him by hammering McCain on Osama bin Laden.
Best critique of free markets without sounding like a Marxist: Obama who asked, "How is it that we shredded so many regulations?"
Best Bush jab: Obama answering the Russia question when he said that his policy wouldn't be based on staring into Putin's eyes and seeing his soul. McCain avoided the Bush association starkly when he revealed that he saw K-G-B when he looked into Putin's eyes.
Most repeated attack line: McCain who continued to say that Obama "doesn't understand" or is "naive." The line Obama kept repeating was that he agreed with McCain on points of foreign policy.
Best song lyrics: Obama quoting McCain singing "Bomb Iran."
Most contested foreign policy theorist: Henry Kissinger--Obama and McCain went several rounds on whose side he is on when it comes to sitting down with Iran without preconditions.
Snarkiest comment: McCain when he said that he doesn't have a presidential seal yet. Ouch!
Most "We are the world" moment: Tie. Obama's discussion of how the children of the world perceive us vs. McCain's "League of Democracies" vision.
Best accessorizing: Tie. McCain brought up a bracelet he had received from a soldier's mother, but Obama said, "I've got a bracelet, too."
Best attack numbers: Tie. McCain on Obama's $932 Million in pork and Obama on McCain voting 23 times against alternative energy initiatives.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Children, youth and families are campaigning for children and asking the real campaigns, those of our elected officials, to make children a priority. These bipartisan efforts will culminate at a rally on Bicentennial Mall on October 6, the eve of the presidential debate, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.Nashville is playing a role in the historic 2008 presidential election, as one of only three presidential debates will be held at Belmont University. On the day prior to the debate children and families will gather at the Capitol Bicentennial Mall to envision a world that considers children first when decisions are made. They will be encouraging everyone involved in the U.S. political process from voters, to candidates for local, state and national office, to ask, "How will it help children?" before making any decision – To vote on a candidate or an issue.
Phil Bredesen, Gov. (D-Tenn.):
The obvious question is too important to get sidelined by reportorial cleverness: Ask “How do you intend to disengage our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan?” Follow up vague answers.
McCain is thinking like a Senator, not a President. Way too much process, way too much insider baseball. Here in Tennessee, people are very scared by a complicated set of issues that are difficult to understand. This crisis, even more than most, cries out for frankness and leadership, but the straight talk express is on a siding somewhere.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
There is nothing conclusive here. No one is on the record. For me the bottom line is that if she doesn't publicly identify as a member of the GLBT community, then I don't see much point in talking about her sexual orientation.
The real take-away from this minor flurry is how little public discussion there really was about Rice as an option. And that's a shame. Despite the fact that she would have been a constant reminder of the Bush administration, it's hard to think of a brighter, harder working official of her rank and experience. The debate between her and Joe Biden on foreign policy would have been electrifying.
I searched all the sites that came up for Tennessee, Nashville, Memphis, Knoxville, and Chattanooga. And I only came up with one with any significant activity--a group for fans of Dennis Prager! I'm sure I missed some that are political or discuss politics among several other topics. But I expected to find ten without much searching. Curious.
Don't have time? Here the gist of it:
But findings by a nonpartisan adoption group being released Thursday conclude that gays and lesbians are an important resource for children awaiting adoption. There is near "universal professional consensus" that these applicants should be judged on their qualifications, not sexual orientation.
"The pool of potential adoptive parents must be expanded to keep pace with the growing number of kids in foster care who are legally free for adoption," stated the report by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, which is based in New York.
Currently, about 129,000 U.S. children are in foster care, many of whom are older, have special needs and face grim prospects for finding a loving, permanent home.
Besides the emotional hardships, a national ban on gay adoptions could add $87 million to $130 million to foster care system expenditures each year, the report said, citing previous research. Not only would children who are removed from gay and lesbian homes be placed in group or institutional care, which is more costly, the state would incur the costs of recruiting and training new foster parents, researchers found.
It's always good news to get more mainstream confirmation of our community's ability to provide loving homes to children who need them.
As many of you know, TEP waged a vigorous fight against adoption restrictions again this year. Similar bills could return in January, but we'll be right there ready for them.
Mark your calendars for Advancing Equality Day on the Hill--February 17, 2009.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
And know that the guy in the pickup who waves at you is just being neighborly. He may very well know that you're Anderson Cooper, but he doesn't care. That highfalutin' suit doesn't impress him. As far as he's concerned, you put your pants on the same way he does.
We Southerners have a peculiar way of insulting people -- with a saccharine smile that belies our brutal intent. If you don't pay attention, you might not notice just how nasty we can be.
If you hear somebody say, "Bless your heart" it's not a good thing. It's our way of saying whatever we want about you and having it be completely mannerly and acceptable. As in "Bless their hearts, those ECME [East Coast Media Elite] don't know any better."
If Nashville voters are politicked out and there's ice on the roads, I can't see turnout above 15 percent. Then it becomes a question of who can turn out the activists. In that scenario, Crafton has the advantage because of his existing list of petition signers.
Of the 17 senators on the committee headed by Senator Joseph Lieberman, only Lieberman, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) were present. Senator Barack Obama is also a member of the committee. As expected, he was on the campaign trail today. It is also being widely reported that Senator John McCain, who is not a member of the committee, hasn't cast a vote in the Senate since April. So I don't read anything into Obama's absence.
Furthermore, he has been a sponsor of the legislation.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Send an email to moderator Jim Lehrer and encourage him to ask each candidate his position on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
The Friday debate at the University of Mississippi is at 9 p.m. Eastern, 8 p.m. Central. Please check your local listings.
“It maybe helps us,” Wendell Moore, former chief of staff for Republican Gov. Don Sundquist who now works for Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., told the Hamilton County Pachyderm Club at its Monday meeting.
Information about Walt Monegan, the public safety commissioner fired by Alaska Gov. Palin, shows he deserved to be fired, Mr. Moore told the Republican group. The McCain campaign has argued that Mr. Monegan was insubordinate.
I think it depends. If the stories focus on the McCain campaign inhibiting the investigation, then it's a negative. It's harder to argue that Palin is the victim in that scenario. But if the stories continue to come back to Palin's former brother-in-law, then it's a positive for the campaign. Whatever Sarah Palin did or didn't do to the commissioner, the public won't care nearly as much if the interview with her former brother in law airs over and over.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
"I am a pro-life, pro-gun, oppose-gay-marriage Democrat," says Ruppe, 45, who now serves as Morgan County executive.
Apparently Jim Maynard is getting under her skin:
On the matter of gay marriage, Ruppe says she has gotten some grief from members of her own party for her stance. She cites a West Tennessee gay activist blogger who urged Democrats to vote Republican rather than back a Democrat disloyal to party principles.
Wow! It's so strange that a gay man might condemn a candidate of the same party for taking a stand against "gay marriage," especially when it's not even an issue that will come before the General Assembly or the voters again.
Maybe she is the better candidate. I don't know. But I seriously hope no one in any party expects us just to shut up and ignore these comments.
Democrats are clearly being more aggressive in voter registration than Republicans in the push:
Democrats contend the increase in new voters bodes well for their party and their presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. Local party workers have registered more than 2,000 voters since the first of the year. Their goal is to register another 1,000 before Oct. 6, the deadline to register in Tennessee. The election is Nov. 4.
“I think in years past voter registration has been a part of the ‘get out the vote push,’ but this year it is markedly different because the Obama campaign has such a grassroots campaign,” said John Bailes, the Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman.
Local Republicans have a more passive effort to draw out new voters, said Connie Weathers, the Republican Party chairwoman. The GOP provides information to anyone who comes into party headquarters, but they aren’t going door to door to find new voters, she said. There’s no way of telling whether those people actually will support the GOP candidate or even show up on election day, she said.
But what will the impact be? Experts agree that it won't have much effect in the presidential race where John McCain is expected to run away with a win in Tennessee. What about legislative races? New registrations are unlikely to have a significant impact because many of the competitive seats are in rural areas and not in the urban areas where the numbers are up.
TEP has been emphasizing voter registration on a steady basis since June. But what we're finding is that most of the members of the GLBT community who are on our lists or attending events (even big events like Pride) are already registered. It would be interesting to find some demographic information on who is registering--men/women, race/ethnicity, Zip codes, age, etc.
Let me confess that I was genuinely unnerved by Sarah Palin's performance at the Republican convention. Given her audience and the needs of the moment, I believe Governor Palin's speech was the most effective political communication I have ever witnessed. Here, finally, was a performer who—being maternal, wounded, righteous and sexy—could stride past the frontal cortex of every American and plant a three-inch heel directly on that limbic circuit that ceaselessly intones "God and country." If anyone could make Christian theocracy smell like apple pie, Sarah Palin could.
Then came Palin's first television interview with Charles Gibson. I was relieved to discover, as many were, that Palin's luster can be much diminished by the absence of a teleprompter. Still, the problem she poses to our political process is now much bigger than she is. Her fans seem inclined to forgive her any indiscretion short of cannibalism. However badly she may stumble during the remaining weeks of this campaign, her supporters will focus their outrage upon the journalist who caused her to break stride, upon the camera operator who happened to capture her fall, upon the television network that broadcast the good lady's misfortune—and, above all, upon the "liberal elites" with their highfalutin assumption that, in the 21st century, only a reasonably well-educated person should be given command of our nuclear arsenal.
Apparently, though, the McCain campaign is worried precisely that more people will take Harris' view and see Palin as unable spontaneously to handle tough questions. The New York Times is reporting that, whereas the Obama-McCain debate will be more back-and-forth between the candidates, the Biden-Palin debate will be more structured:
At the insistence of the McCain campaign, the Oct. 2 debate between the Republican nominee for vice president, Gov. Sarah Palin, and her Democratic rival, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., will have shorter question-and-answer segments than those for the presidential nominees, the advisers said. There will also be much less opportunity for free-wheeling, direct exchanges between the running mates.
McCain advisers said they had been concerned that a loose format could leave Ms. Palin, a relatively inexperienced debater, at a disadvantage and largely on the defensive.
In a year in which we are hearing the words "most watched" to describe every new speech and announcement, these debates will likely fall into the same category. Biden, who is said to have been comfortable with just about any proposed format, is clearly the more experienced policy debater. He's also been a part of several of the debates among Democratic candidates. But one might expect, despite Palin's inexperience, for the McCain campaign to be a bit less cautious. If Palin sticks to her points and keeps a cooler head than Biden, which may not be hard given his penchant for overstatement and offensive gaffes, she could conceivably hold her own with him and possibly set a trap he could walk into, whatever the format. With so many people watching and with so much at stake in this election, it's a shame we won't see a more authentic exchange between Biden and Palin.
As it stands with the more staid format, if Biden keeps a cool head, it's hard to imagine him being bested by Palin. The media commentary around the debate will provide constant reminders of the fact that it was set up to protect Palin.
Quite a contrast from Friday night! Knowing I wouldn't be able to find any gas, Bobby and I took his car to get a milkshake. Up ahead the police were already working one accident and I saw the results of another one that had just taken place. I'm not surprised by the rumors of fighting at the pumps.
It's hard to say at this point whether Friday night or Sunday afternoon is going to be typical of the next few months. It's amazing how much unrest is just beneath the surface.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
From the event description:
Join the business community, service providers, Metro government, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, and other concerned citizens to learn how poverty affects
The purpose of our Poverty Symposium is not just to educate ourselves as to the breadth and depth of poverty in our community, but to serve as a catalyst for identifying and actions that will lead to a significant reduction of poverty in our community in the foreseeable future. To this end, action teams will be formed in the days immediately following our symposium to further study each of the areas at the center of our symposium: housing, healthcare, food and hunger, childcare, economic opportunity, neighborhood development, and workforce development. Symposium participants and other members of our community will have the option to sign up for and serve on an action committee.
A large contingent from Nashville will be heading to D.C. for the dinner. We'll have to check in with them to see how things go.
I am pleased to announce that TEP PAC has endorsed Rep. Mike Kernell (D-Memphis) in his reelection bid for House District 93. He faces Republican challenger Tim Cook in the General Election .
If you live in District 93, we urge you to vote for Mike Kernell. Rep. Kernell has already proven himself an equality advocate by sponsoring one of the birth certificate bills in the this year. He is a trusted friend to our community.
TEP PAC had endorsed Rep. Kernell (D-Memphis) in the primary and has reaffirmed that stand today with an endorsement in his General Election bid.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
"Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn't harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8," Pitt said Wednesday.
Let's hope his gesture inspires more contributions. Thanks, Brad. Now that's hot!
It is an especially appropriate time for the production after a summer of anti-GLBT hate in Tennessee. Bravo to the Bear Hollow Dinner Theatre for bringing the Laramie Project to their part of the State.
We've already had the foreign policy oral exams on ABC. I hope that we'll have some tough questions about the economy from Couric.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Sam is a friend and someone I consider a mentor. He'll offer a good perspective and great service to the City on the Board of Health.
Monday, September 15, 2008
The event is sponsored by the Atticus Circle of Soulforce, a group that address issues of equality and discrimination in religion and politics. The event starts at 5:00 and goes to 7:00. Metro Council meets at 6:30.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Given other recent bailouts, the government's tough love for Lehman is coming as a shock:
The U.S. government, which bailed out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac a week ago and orchestrated the sale of Bear Stearns Cos. to J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. in March, played much tougher with Lehman. It refused to provide a financial backstop to potential buyers.
The crisis is spilling over into Merrill Lynch and AIG:
A sense of foreboding gripped Wall Street as top executives feared collateral damage from a Lehman liquidation. Attention was focused on Merrill Lynch, which boasts the largest force of retail brokers, and American International Group Inc., the insurance giant. Both firms have seen their stocks get hammered on worries that they needed capital.
"Monday will be a day of reckoning for the financial markets," said Carlos Mendez, senior managing director of ICP Capital, a boutique investment firm in New York. On Sunday, he said, "it was like a fire alarm went off and people ran in all directions."
The human toll is going to be staggering.The future of about 25,000 employees at Lehman and an additional 60,000 at Merrill is up in the air. Lehman's work force already has shrunk by about 3,000 in the past year. If the firm essentially goes out of business, most of the remaining employees are likely to lose their jobs. That would deal another blow to New York City's economy, resulting in lower tax revenues on personal income, real-estate transactions and corporate income.
By the end of Sunday, there wasn't much discussion at the Tennessee news sites. But the national media are beginning to assess the impact on the presidential race. The early view is that the developments should give the advantage back to Obama-Biden, who have been struggling to wrest coverage away from the nation's obsession with Sarah Palin:
The stunning weekend developments took place as voters, who rank the economy as their top concern, prepare to elect a new president in seven weeks. It likely will spur a much greater focus by presidential candidates — Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama — and members of Congress on the need for stricter financial regulation.
Samuel Hayes, finance professor emeritus at Harvard Business School, said the Bush administration may get a lot of blame for the situation, which could benefit Obama.
"Just the psychological impact of this kind of failure is going to be significant," he said. "It will color people's feelings about their well-being and the integrity of the financial system."
Here's one sketch of how the campaigns might be adapting their message to cope with the emerging realities:McCain aides say he plans to use the news to underscore the reform message that he began hammering at the Republican National Convention. “This is bad news for the country and yet another sign that we need to reform Wall Street,” a senior McCain official said. “The only way we can do that is by reforming Washington first. We will show McCain and Palin as the ticket who will take action on the economy and make sure the taxpayers aren't stuck with the bill.”
Obama aides say he will hammer the message that the market upheaval shows that the country can’t afford four more years of policies aligned with those of the current administration. His running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), was already scheduled to give a major speech Monday in St. Clair Shores, Mich., and is likely to get heavy coverage for his fiery elaboration on this theme.
Regardless of which campaign is able to make more hay out of the economic misery we are facing, the shift from personality to policy, if only for a bit, will be welcome. Pass the bread and butter!
DO THE MEDIA HOLD WOMEN TO A DIFFERENT STANDARD THAN MEN?Sabrina >> Women hold women to a different standard. I’ve been watching TV over the last two weeks. Women have been the harshest on Sarah Palin. Women reporters … like Nora O’Donnell, Campbell Brown — I looked up their bios, these women have there or four children apiece. And they’re sitting there going, “How can she do that? How could she be a governor? How could she leave her children? She has a Down syndrome child.”
Mary Cady >> We are our own worst enemies here, forever telling women how they should parent because somehow we’ve got it right. Quite frankly, we’re all fighting the same battle here. … We’re all fighting to be heard.
Shifay >> I took a career break right in the middle of my career. … Are you wasting your talents to be at home with your children? Well, I had so many problems having my children, I want to be with them. I’m not letting this gray matter waste. I’m doing things. I’m volunteering, I’m writing, whatever. I’m not judging you, so please don’t judge me. … We’re held to a different standard by other women.
Kathryn >> I meet with my business clients and we analyze whom they should hire for things. And they all look at women in what they call “baby age” and they decide. … They might get married. … What if they have a baby? They might not come back. These women get put in the “no” pile. That’s not fair. When Biden had to raise those two children by himself, do you think anyone brought any of this up?
So that's why I'm confused when I hear people talk about "that liberal Jackson Sun." Upon careful review, it just doesn't stick.
What concerns me when I hear such statements is that they sometimes appear to be fueled by talk show hosts who make their living dividing and classifying Americans as one thing or another, for us or against us. I don't know about you, but I don't fit neatly into any of those classifications. I hold some views that many would consider liberal. I hold others that many would consider conservative. Please don't paint me, and please don't paint this newspaper with one brush before you use your own head to make an informed decision, rather than applying some talk show act's stereotypes.
After all, most of the issues we at The Jackson Sun take a stand on involve things going on right here in West Tennessee. They are neither Republican nor Democrat, liberal nor conservative. They are local. And we are a local newspaper.
Patrick Coleman Saunders, age 30, of Madison, WI, died in an accident early this week. He was born in Neenah, WI, on March 24, 1978, and grew up in Appleton. He also spent two years in Florence, Italy, as a young man. He graduated from Appleton North High School, where he was active in choir and drama. He also graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, where he double-majored in computer science and music. Patrick came out in high school, and he continued to act as an advocate for gay and lesbian rights throughout his life.He later lived in Nashville, TN, and Madison, WI, before earning a Master's Degree in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota.
Pretty much the only Saturday Night Live skit worth watching last night, the Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton announcement about sexism in the media was an instant hit. Tina Fey, in a much anticipated performance, was spot on in her portrayal of the Alaska governor. The video has already been viewed 59,000 times. Amy Poehler likewise captured all the feelings of being cheated that many of us imagine Senator Clinton has experienced over the last few months.
Hope Fey is back for a skit on the Biden-Palin debate.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
JEFFREY FELDMAN: Our system is a deliberative democracy. And that deliberative democracy depends on a certain kind of talk, a certain conversation in order to function well. What right-wing rhetoric does, when it reaches that violent pitch, is it undermines that particular conversation, such that the focus of political debate, becomes increasingly hamstrung by fear, and the ability of citizens to engage in the basic act of civics becomes gummed up. That conversation breaks down.
RICK KARR: Knoxville pastor Chris Buice agrees.
REVEREND CHRIS BUICE: When you blame all your problems on some minority group then everyone else is exonerated. We exonerate ourselves. We don't have to look at ourselves to see what sort of ways we contribute to the problems of the world. We don't have to examine ourselves, to see what we are doing that is helping to create the problems that we're so concerned about.
Friday, September 12, 2008
This Saturday, September 13, TEP will host an information booth at the Cooper-Young Festival. The Shelby County Committee of TEP invites you to drop by our booth on the parking lot of First Congregational Church at 1000 South Cooper Street anytime between 9 AM and 7 PM.
Visitors to the booth can help advance equality and fairness for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender citizens in our community by:
- Writing postcards to the Memphis Mayor and City Council in support of a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance in the city of Memphis.
- Signing up for information updates from TEP.
- Becoming a new member or renewing your membership to TEP for only $20.
- Learning more about TEP's anti-violence project and hate crime initiatives.
- Reporting LGBT hate crimes or discrimination.
- Registering to vote in the November 4th election.
Come see us at the festival. You'll be glad you did!
Thursday, September 11, 2008
If I had to pick an image, though, I'd say she has become something of a vortex in this campaign. There is incredible energy, both personal and the kind that her opponents project on her, at the center. It is the swirling kind that either draws people in through attraction or transforms them when they attack.
The day after she was introduced to the public, Barack Obama was reaching for words. Joe Biden said she was good looking. And even once the pair found words to attack the McCain-Palin team, the ones that got the most coverage were "lipstick on a pig" and, um, that bit about Biden saying Hillary Clinton might have been a better vice presidential pick than he is. A member of Tennessee's congressional delegation is now taking more time than he would have ever imagined explaining what he meant when he referred to Jesus and Pontius Pilate. And a South Carolina Democratic official is drawing fire for saying Palin was picked because she hadn't had an abortion.
Without uttering a word--except what she has said in those repetitive campaign speeches--Sarah Palin has drawn them all in and made them say or seem to say things that are leaving many observers scratching their heads.
Meanwhile, it is only today that her first real interview since the convention is being aired. To put it charitably, her answers on foreign policy are unimpressive. She didn't know what the Bush doctrine is. But even ABC got drawn into the Palin Vortex. Here's how they paraphrase the exchange on their own site:
Palin agreed in principle to the "Bush doctrine," the idea that the United States has the right to preemptively strike those another country the U.S. think will attack first.
"Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend."
That's one of the most generous paraphrases I've ever read.
I can't think of any policy area where I would agree with Sarah Palin, but I'm now having trouble imagining how Obama-Biden can get anywhere by attacking her without getting drawn into the vortex.
Fortunately, it's not up to my imagination and they've still got time. But I'd love to see a clash of ideas that isn't blurred by mythology.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) is inviting transgender and gender non-conforming people in the United States to participate in an online survey. The responses will be part of an important report on transgender people’s experiences of discrimination in housing, employment, health care and education.
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality states:
This is an absolutely critical national effort. We urge all transgender and gender non-conforming people to take the survey to help guide us in making better laws and policies that will improve the quality of life for all transgender people. We need everyone's voice in this, everyone's participation.
Encourage your transgender and gender non-conforming friends and family to participate. The Task Force has been a valuable resource for TEP. Learn more about the survey here.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
TEP ANNOUNCES MAJOR EXPANSION TO ADVANCE POSITIVE LEGISLATION
Nashville, TN: The Tennessee Equality Project announces a new campaign called “It’s Time” that highlights our statewide expansion and our strategy of pursuing positive legislation to provide protections for the State’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. Established a little over a year ago, the Shelby County Committee was TEP’s first regional committee. After a spring and summer of organizing around the State, TEP has looked to
As well as a critical resource in advancing local ordinances, regional committees will fuel the effort to influence legislation at the state level in January when the Legislature reconvenes. Over 30 people came from
The Shelby County Committee’s success has convinced TEP of the importance of establishing strong regional committees throughout
Board member and Middle Tennessee Coordinator Todd Hughes , who has led the effort in starting county committees, agrees. “Our strength lies in our ties to the local community. By identifying and empowering members of any given community, we fortify the organization as a whole.”
The Tennessee Equality Project is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote and sustain the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender persons in
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Lots of e-mails asking about Andrew's whereabouts. I checked in with him; he's fine. He's taking a few days off. Worry not, fans.
The resolution asks that the Internal Audit Department or Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board review MPD’s policies, protocols, procedures, citizen complaint process and Internal Affairs to determine “corrective actions, which will ensure that the human and civil rights of citizens are protected.”
- Jimmy Ogle, former Memphis Park Commission executive director and Mud Island general manager.
- Richard Stringer, business owner with several bids for the City Council in recent years.
- Jack Sammons, former City Council member who chose not to seek re-election in the 2007 city elections.
- John Willingham, former Shelby County Board of Commissioners member, two-time candidate for Memphis mayor and a candidate for Shelby County mayor.
The Memphis City Council will decide Scott McCormick's interim replacement from this list today. Sammons could step right in without a lengthy orientation on council procedures. Willingham is the only candidate who is also running for the permanent seat. Generally, I prefer that interim legislators agree not to run for the seat they keep warm.
Monday, September 8, 2008
The things you learn on MySpace... TEP got a friend request from the MySpace page promoting this original play by George Darden. If you can't make out the words on the image, three performances take place this month at the Darkhorse Theater on Charlotte--Sept. 18, 19, and 21. Tickets are $15.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Newsweek editor Jon Meacham will be in Jackson on October 30 for an event which he will discuss his book, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House.
With the presidential election in November, it's a perfect time to have a new book out on Jackson. Meacham said, "Whoever takes the oath of office next Jan. 20 is taking over an office essentially created not by Washington or Adams but by Jackson."
Then he added, "Your city is named for a president who had two bullets in him, who had killed a man in a duel, engaged in a street brawl in which he almost lost an arm. He was a man who attacked his own assassin twice. He tried to physically assault a man afterward. This was not a retiring soul. He believed he had the interests of the people at heart against the elites."
Meacham pointed out that Jackson came in as president "after exactly the same kind of rhetoric you're hearing from Obama and McCain - 'We're going to clean up Washington.' He was the first person who wrote that public script."
He is refreshingly candid about his skirmish with UT's president over funding for a science building at MTSU:
Q: As you mentioned, you're a graduate of MTSU, a huge Blue Raiders fan. When UT President John Petersen was lobbying against MTSU's science building funding, did you sort of threaten to cut off some federal funding for UT?
Gordon: I didn't sort of. It was very explicit, and it wasn't so much the parochialism of it, it's just he was doing the wrong thing. MTSU had played by the rules. The science building, which is going to be very important to the school, had gone through all the process and become the No. 1 priority and he was trying to undercut that, and I made it very clear to him. Unfortunately, I had to do it twice, but he apologized and said he would back off, and I think they've done that now. Now we've got to go through the process and get this funding.
On his support of the Obama campaign:
Q: On a different subject, are you endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president and will you be campaigning for him actively?
Gordon: I will be supporting Sen. Obama. The fact of the matter is their campaign has made it clear that Tennessee is not targeted, and so they don't expect to win Tennessee, and I don't expect that there's going to be much activity in Tennessee in the presidential race.
Joe Biden gave a good performance on Meet the Press today in the face of particularly strong questions about the influence of MBNA and lobbyists on his work in the Senate. The build up to that particular question went on forever and Biden patiently waited through quotation after quotation to respond. He was also strong on details when he spoke about the Iraq surge and bringing reconciliation among that country's factions.
What the interview revealed is that the Obama campaign is finding its voice on how to deal with Sarah Palin. Biden, who lately has had the problem of calling Palin "good looking" and referring to his wife as "drop-dead gorgeous" (and then remembering that she's smart), has become more focused on referring to "tough, smart women." He used the phrase several times today.
But more substantively he went on the attack without seeming angry. He said that he didn't know her policy positions. He specifically pointed out that he hasn't heard a policy position in which Palin is in agreement with Hillary Clinton. And he went further in saying, "Her silence on the issues is deafening."
He also made clear the reason why we don't know her policy positions. The McCain campaign has "sequestered" her, in his words. At the end of the interview, Tom Brockaw reminded the viewers that Meet the Press would like to have her on the program. Some are already charging that the McCain campaign is trying to stall access to Palin:
Since her debut in Dayton, Ohio, the McCain campaign has been receiving about 80-100 requests a day from news organizations around the world, according to spokesman Ben Porritt, who said interest in an interview was "through the roof" and that the campaign was going through them now.
"There's no doubt in my mind that the McCain campaign would like to run out on the clock on this," said David Chalian, political director for ABC News.
Update: Sarah Palin to be interviewed. ABC gets the prize.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Of course, it's not an issue between the two candidates since they have the same position. Oh, and it's not an issue for Tennessee, since we have a statute and a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.
But it is now an issue for GLBT people in District 12. Teens struggling with issues of sexuality and gender get to hear themselves opposed on the radio on the way to and from school every day. Adults who are probably pretty circumspect about their lives and their partners, if they had any doubt before, will know to stay in their place.
Democrats aren't saying a word. Eager to take control of the Senate, they seem to have a Reaganesque rule about not speaking ill of other Democrats. Ruppe's ad titled "Courage" is still posted without negative comment at the State party's blog. This is the same party that says it is "...the party that continues to provide messages of change and hope against the politics of fear and bullying."
Thankfully most Democrats, though silent about her ad, aren't following her lead. The saddest part to me, though, is that Ruppe's life has been one of courage. 90% of her ad rings true. But she has injected additional fear into a part of Tennessee that didn't need any more.
It's the rare American who agrees 100 percent with everything his or her house of worship says or does. I despised the way people drove a wedge between the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama and I don't think we should automatically assume guilt by association with the Palins. I don't think Joe Biden is answerable for every encyclical that comes from Pope Benedict XVI.
What the press and what activists ought to focus on are policy questions that are within the purview of the federal government--Don't Ask/Don't Tell, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Matthew Shepard Act, etc. No politician and no citizen should have to give a detailed account of his or her faith tradition for the public. So what if she's advancing faith and family in her campaign? It doesn't mean we have to enable that kind of politics by attacking her on those grounds. If you believe that there are no religious tests for office in this country, then act like it and go after her on policy.
Asking Palin how she might break a tie vote in the Senate on hate crimes legislation, for example, is entirely appropriate. There is no need to pit her against her Church or explain her in terms of her Church. The tough questions about the issues must not be lost in the cheap shots. My own guess is that she either won't answer them or won't answer them in a way that affirms the basic rights of GLBT Americans.
A focus on Palin's policy positions would also help avoid the sexist and anti-Pentecostal bigotry that we're already seeing in the blogosphere. If you're trying to attack her politics as bigoted by spewing comments about her Church or through references to her hair or her family, guess what, you're a bigot and a hypocrite.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Hmmm. This video won't be enough to make the questions about Sarah Palin's handling of his employment go away, but I'd say his answers will garner her even more sympathy. CNN has given her talking points every time the subject comes up.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Those looking for lots of social issues culture war-mongering won't be satisfied. There were a few references such as the swipe at judges who "legislate from the bench." His claim that "education is the civil rights issue" of our time was well framed, though naive. It nevertheless allowed him to speak at some length about school choice. I don't think that issue will get him far with most Americans, but it played well to the convention crowd and the activists who will work the phones for him in the coming weeks.
There were themes that softened even that foray into the culture war such as his discussion of the "Latina daughter of migrant workers" punctuated with the line-- We're all God's children and we're all Americans."
And that brings me to religion. As in Palin's speech, the references would have come across as largely non-sectarian. It's possible that the repetition of "stand up" at the end was coded to appeal to Evangelicals who know the militant hymn Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, but it also took on its own meaning. But with the line "Comfort the afflicted" he recalls the words of a much loved blessing from his Episcopal roots, which is based on a passage from St. Paul's correspondence to the Thessalonians.
In the end, McCain's faith is classic American civil religion best summed up in his phrase: "I wasn't my own man any more. I was my country's." The policy specifics still have to be spelled out in the debates, especially with respect to the economy, but McCain showed all the signs of new life tonight, life renewed from a deep love of country.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
The front that Palin opened in the culture war tonight was small town vs. big city America. But she did it in a way that made it seem as if the Democrats had started it.
She went on the attack, which provides the natural opening Democrats need in order to fire back. They'll have to choose their angle carefully, but it can be done. As good as the delivery of the speech was, more of the public will understand that she is fair game now that she has staked out some ground. It will be interesting to see whether they debate her on the culture war or hammer McCain-Palin on the economy.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
They lost me well before "maverick." He opposes all LGBT equality and he picked a VP who does as well. The only thing he didn't do was go to the extreme of supporting the FMA, but he let that amendment enter the party platform.
The real reason for this endorsement's pretty obvious, though: John McCain gave the LCR's access. When it comes to political advocacy groups, that's the best thing he can give.
The Human Rights Campaign goes right to the issues and concedes no points:"John McCain claims to be a maverick who breaks with his party, but on matters of LGBT equality, he's shown that he's anything but. He actively campaigned for a constitutional amendment that would have banned marriage and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples in his home state of Arizona. He went so far as to appear in television commercials for that campaign, is now supporting an amendment to strip marriage equality from California couples and has said that he would vote for a federal marriage amendment if laws already banning marriage equality were to be struck down by federal courts. Sarah Palin has also supported bans on marriage and even domestic partner benefits in Alaska."
What they don't mention, but what I hear privately and in the open at GLBT events on a regular basis, is that this presidential race matters because of the Supreme Court. GLBT leaders are concerned that the Court that decided Lawrence v. Texas will change dramatically in the next presidential term. And those changes could be in place for twenty plus years. It is in the coming era that the conflicting patchwork of federal and state laws on marriage and civil unions will be adjudicated. As more states join Massachusetts and California in marriage equality, how will full faith and credit and equal protection challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act be decided? Marriage is certainly not the largest issue looming in the minds of voters and it's not the only issue of concern to the GLBT community, but it's a big one. And this race could be decisive in determining the timetable for equal rights in this country.
This move increases the likelihood that McCain will be able to duplicate Bush's estimated take of about a quarter of the GLBT vote in 2004.
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