MorganRants

Things I am passionate about. Injustice, stupidity, intolerance, bigotry and small-mindedness. Oh and there might just be some humor to offset the whole thing.

Democracy Alliance memo details Dem plan to “educate the idiots” and target minorities

Posted by morganwrites on October 2, 2008

In a confidential internal memorandum obtained by Face The State (PDF), the Colorado Democracy Alliance outlines a roster of “operatives” who worked for Democratic victory in the 2006 general election. The document outlines specific tasks for various members of the state’s liberal infrastructure, including a campaign to “educate the idiots,” assigned to the state’s AFL-CIO union. Among the operation’s intended targets: “minorities, GED’s, drop-outs.”

Individuals named in the document, marked “CONFIDENTIAL,” “for internal use only,” and “DO NOT DISTRIBUTE,” are high-level elected Democrats including House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, former Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald, as well as Gov. Bill Ritter‘s press aide and former campaign chief Evan Dreyer. All are specially marked as “off-the-record or covert.”

Mentioned as a “critical contact” was Dominic DelPapa, a partner at Ikon Public Affairs. DelPapa was at the center of recent controversy stemming from the February leak of a confidential memo he authored detailing a multi-million dollar “foot on throat” attack on Republican U.S. Senate candidate Bob Schaffer, among others.

CoDA is one of 18 state-based versions of the nationally focused Democracy Alliance, a self-described “investment partnership of business and philanthropic leaders” funding liberal infrastructure nationwide. For more information about the Democracy Alliance in Colorado, see day one and two of Face The State’s week-long series on the group.

In a podcast released by the DNC Host Committee Tuesday, national Democracy Alliance founder Rob Stein explains the need for large, secretive donor networks. “We do not have the infrastructure that the right has built, yet,” he said. “But there has never in the history of progressivedom (sic) been a clearer, more strategic, more focused, more disciplined, better financed group of institutions operating at the state and national level.”

In the same podcast, Laurie Hirschfeld Zeller, the newly installed executive director of CoDA, explains her organization’s mission. “Our job is to build a long-term progressive infrastructure in Colorado while we’re conceding nothing in the short term in terms of progressive goals at the ballot box.”

Zeller had high praise for the state’s liberal establishment, specifically naming America Votes, New Era Colorado, Progressive Majority, the Latina Initiative, and ProgressNow as partners in CoDA’s coalition building efforts. “CoDA works with all these organizations,” she said.

The Bell Policy Center, a liberal think tank that regularly plays host to CoDA board meetings, was praised for its work fighting to dismantle Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. She characterized Colorado’s constitutional requirement for voter approval of tax increases as “arcane.”

According to Zeller, CoDA operates “in a structure that provides privacy to members.” Under current law, this structure is as a taxable non-profit organization that allows individual donors to give anonymously to shared causes. She described the structure as a “fiscal irrigation system” designed to “provide a harvest later this fall.”

Stein, the DA founder, said state groups like CoDA have fired “a warning shot to conservatives in America.”

“Conservatives have nothing comparable to possibly compete with it, and they better watch out,” he said. Colorado was chosen as a test case for exporting DA’s national model, due in part to the “significant wealth” of liberal donors living here.

“It’s not just individual donors,” Zeller said of CoDA’s financial underwriting. “One of the things that has been crucial in making the work of the Colorado Democracy Alliance effective in Colorado has been our partnership with institutional donors and activist organizations in labor, particularly,” she said. “That’s been a major part of how we get our work done here.”

According to Zeller, CoDA’s giving is concentrated in five general funding categories: leadership development, communications, “research and ideas,” “civic engagement” and “constituency development.”

“We embrace the ‘progressive’ label in our giving and the strategic role we play in Colorado politics,” she said.

Despite sweeping gains for political liberals both in Colorado and nationally, Stein believes his coalition can do a better job of communicating with voters.

“It feels scary, because we don’t have the message down right,” he said. “[But] We’re being more businesslike – we’re being more professional.”

Can you believe these people?  IF the main-stream media would have some balls and report this – man, the shit would fly.

Posted in liberalism | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

An Old Story

Posted by morganwrites on October 1, 2008

With what looks like imminent passage of the Mother of All Bailouts (following on the heels of a year’s worth of government-funded rescues of private homeowners, lenders, insurers, and automakers), Washington has turned Aesop’s famous fable about prudence and hard work on its head. The time is ripe for a revised 2008 edition of “The Ant and the Grasshopper:”

In a meadow on a hot summer’s day, a Grasshopper was chirping and carousing his time away. He watched scornfully as an Ant nearby struggled to store up large kernels of food and build a secure nest. The Ant pulled overtime shifts to pay off his loans and accumulate retirement funds for the future.

“Give it a rest,” the Grasshopper said. “Why bother saving and slaving and toiling and moiling? Let’s party!” The Ant demurred: “I am planning ahead for winter, and you should do the same.” The Grasshopper blew off the Ant, squandered his supplies the rest of the season and abandoned his home while on vacation (paid for by tapping every last cent of his home equity gain) instead of holding down a job.

When winter came, the Grasshopper’s pantry was empty, and his shelter ruined from neglect. The Ant, weary from planting, harvesting, and stocking up for months, was dining comfortably in his nest.

Cold, hungry, jobless, facing foreclosure and up to his two pairs of eyeballs in debt, the Grasshopper limped to the Association of Community Winged Insects for Rescue Now and demanded recourse. The office was swamped with thousands just like him. ACWIRN immediately put the Grasshopper to work registering dead ants as new voters.

Funded with tax dollars from the rest of the meadow’s residents, ACWIRN organized mass protests at the Bank of Antamerica, ambushed its top officials at their private homes, harassed their children and demanded that the meadow’s politicians halt all foreclosures (“We must keep Grasshoppers in their houses!”) and outlaw discriminatory lending practices against starving, homeless Grasshoppers (“Well-stocked shelters are basic insect rights!”)

The banking industry capitulated; the Orthoptera Lobby secured hundreds of millions of dollars in housing earmarks, grants and counseling subsidies to support the Grasshoppers with the shadiest credit and employment histories. Antie Mae, the meadow’s government-backed home lending giant, fueled the push for increased insect homeownership in the name of biodiversity. Its executives cooked the books and headed for the hills. Katie Cricket and the Mainstream Meadow Media joined the grievance-for-profit circus, profiling Grasshopper sob stories and drumming up ratings as bewildered Ants wondered who was looking out for them.

The banks drowned in toxic debt. More Grasshoppers fell behind on their mortgage payments. Bailout mania and panic gripped the meadow.

Our little Ant, minding his own business, heard a knock on his door one late winter night a year later. It was his old, sneering Grasshopper neighbor. With ACWIRN’s presidential candidate, Barack Cicada, now in office, the Grasshopper had been hired by the meadow as a tax collector.

“I’m here to take your provisions,” the Grasshopper cackled.

But it was the Ant who had the last laugh. “I’ve learned my lesson,” he told his shiftless friend. “Why bother saving and slaving and toiling and moiling? I’ve spent all my savings. I’m walking away from my mortgage. Thrift is for suckers,” the Ant said as he headed out the door, leaving the Grasshopper empty-handed.

Posted in Government Bailout | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Racial views steer some white Dems away from Obama

Posted by morganwrites on September 22, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) – Deep-seated racial misgivings could cost Barack Obama the White House if the election is close, according to an AP-Yahoo News poll that found one-third of white Democrats harbor negative views toward blacks—many calling them “lazy,” “violent” or responsible for their own troubles.The poll suggests that the percentage of voters who may turn away from Obama because of his race could easily be larger than the final difference between the candidates in 2004—about two and one-half percentage points.

Certainly, Republican John McCain has his own obstacles: He’s an ally of an unpopular president and would be the nation’s oldest first-term president. But Obama faces this: 40 percent of all white Americans hold at least a partly negative view toward blacks, and that includes many Democrats and independents.

More than a third of all white Democrats and independents—voters Obama can’t win the White House without—agreed with at least one negative adjective about blacks, according to the survey, and they are significantly less likely to vote for Obama than those who don’t have such views.

Such numbers are a harsh dose of reality in a campaign for the history books. Obama, the first black candidate with a serious shot at the presidency, accepted the Democratic nomination on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a seminal moment for a nation that enshrined slavery in its Constitution.

“There are a lot fewer bigots than there were 50 years ago, but that doesn’t mean there’s only a few bigots,” said Paul Sniderman, a political scientist at Stanford University, which partnered with The Associated Press and Yahoo News to conduct the exhaustive poll and analysis.

The pollsters set out to determine why Obama is locked in a close race with McCain even as the political landscape seems to favor Democrats. President Bush’s unpopularity, the Iraq war and a national sense of economic hard times cut against GOP candidates, as does that fact that Democratic voters outnumber Republicans.

The findings suggest that Obama’s problem is close to home—among his fellow Democrats, particularly non-Hispanic white voters. Just seven in 10 people who call themselves Democrats support Obama, compared to the 85 percent of self-identified Republicans who back McCain.

The survey also focused on the racial attitudes of independent voters because they are likely to decide the election.

Lots of Republicans harbor prejudices, too, but the survey found they weren’t voting against Obama because of his race. Most Republicans wouldn’t vote for any Democrat for president—white, black or brown.

Not all whites are prejudiced. Indeed, more whites say good things about blacks than say bad things, the poll shows. And many whites who see blacks in a negative light are still willing or even eager to vote for Obama.

On the other side of the racial question, the Illinois Democrat is drawing almost unanimous support from blacks, the poll shows, though that probably wouldn’t be enough to counter the negative effect of some whites’ views.

Race is not the biggest factor driving Democrats and independents away from Obama. Doubts about his competency loom even larger, the poll indicates. More than a quarter of all Democrats expressed doubt that Obama can bring about the change they want, and they are likely to vote against him because of that.

Three in 10 of those Democrats who don’t trust Obama’s change-making credentials say they plan to vote for McCain.

Still, the effects of whites’ racial views are apparent in the polling.

Statistical models derived from the poll suggest that Obama’s support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice.

But in an election without precedent, it’s hard to know if such models take into account all the possible factors at play.

The AP-Yahoo poll used the unique methodology of Knowledge Networks, a Menlo Park, Calif., firm that interviews people online after randomly selecting and screening them over telephone. Numerous studies have shown that people are more likely to report embarrassing behavior and unpopular opinions when answering questions on a computer rather than talking to a stranger.

Other techniques used in the poll included recording people’s responses to black or white faces flashed on a computer screen, asking participants to rate how well certain adjectives apply to blacks, measuring whether people believe blacks’ troubles are their own fault, and simply asking people how much they like or dislike blacks.

“We still don’t like black people,” said John Clouse, 57, reflecting the sentiments of his pals gathered at a coffee shop in Somerset, Ohio.

Given a choice of several positive and negative adjectives that might describe blacks, 20 percent of all whites said the word “violent” strongly applied. Among other words, 22 percent agreed with “boastful,” 29 percent “complaining,” 13 percent “lazy” and 11 percent “irresponsible.” When asked about positive adjectives, whites were more likely to stay on the fence than give a strongly positive assessment.

Among white Democrats, one-third cited a negative adjective and, of those, 58 percent said they planned to back Obama.

The poll sought to measure latent prejudices among whites by asking about factors contributing to the state of black America. One finding: More than a quarter of white Democrats agree that “if blacks would only try harder, they could be just as well off as whites.”

Those who agreed with that statement were much less likely to back Obama than those who didn’t.

Among white independents, racial stereotyping is not uncommon. For example, while about 20 percent of independent voters called blacks “intelligent” or “smart,” more than one third latched on the adjective “complaining” and 24 percent said blacks were “violent.”

Nearly four in 10 white independents agreed that blacks would be better off if they “try harder.”

The survey broke ground by incorporating images of black and white faces to measure implicit racial attitudes, or prejudices that are so deeply rooted that people may not realize they have them. That test suggested the incidence of racial prejudice is even higher, with more than half of whites revealing more negative feelings toward blacks than whites.

Researchers used mathematical modeling to sort out the relative impact of a huge swath of variables that might have an impact on people’s votes—including race, ideology, party identification, the hunger for change and the sentiments of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s backers.

Just 59 percent of her white Democratic supporters said they wanted Obama to be president. Nearly 17 percent of Clinton’s white backers plan to vote for McCain.

Among white Democrats, Clinton supporters were nearly twice as likely as Obama backers to say at least one negative adjective described blacks well, a finding that suggests many of her supporters in the primaries—particularly whites with high school education or less—were motivated in part by racial attitudes.

The survey of 2,227 adults was conducted Aug. 27 to Sept. 5. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points.

My, my – it looks like the dem(ons) have come home to roost.

Posted in Democrats, Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Democratic Rep. Rangel calls Palin ‘disabled’

Posted by morganwrites on September 20, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) – Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., already in trouble for tax problems, called Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin “disabled” on Friday, and then quickly retreated and said he misspoke saying he meant “disadvantaged.”Republicans called it a new low for the 78-year-old chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Asked during an interview with New York’s WCBS-2 television why Democrats seem afraid of Pailin’s popularity, Rangel replied: “You got to be kind to the disabled.”

The reporter repeated the phrase.

Rep. Charlie Rangel D-N.Y.

Rep. Charlie Rangel D-N.Y.

“Yes,” replied Rangel and then added, “There’s no question about it. Politically it’s a nightmare to think that a person’s foreign policy is based on their ability to look at Russia from where they live.”

Soon after the interview aired, Rangel in a statement said that he meant to say “disadvantaged.”

“Governor Palin is an obviously healthy person who in no way fits the description of disabled. I meant to say then, and I am saying now, that she entered the campaign with a disadvantage in the area of foreign policy,” said Rangel.

Alex Conant, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said of Rangel’s remark: “As if achieving new ethical lows was not sufficient, now Rangel is hitting a rhetorical low. Insulting the next vice president will not distract from Rangel’s tax scandals.”

Rangel for weeks has been embroiled in controversy over his failure to report taxes on income from a beach house, use of three rent-stabilized apartments in his home district of Harlem, and using official stationery to try to drum up private donations for a college center named after the congressman. On Friday he reporting paying $10,800 in back taxes and said in an open letter to constituents that Republicans were waging a “guerrilla war” against him.

Posted in Democrats | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Meanwhile, the Other No. 2 Keeps On Punching

Posted by morganwrites on September 20, 2008

(NYT) – FLAT ROCK, Mich. — As the economy reels, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. — the Other Running Mate — has been absolutely butchering Senator John McCain across the Rust Belt this week. It is not clear who has noticed.

“John is so out of touch, he just has no idea,” charged Mr. Biden, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, who called his “old, dear friend” someone who “just doesn’t think,” who is behaving in a repugnant manner and who is peddling “Republican garbage,” and malarkey.

The older woman who introduced him at a rally here called Mr. Biden’s Republican counterpart, Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, a “bucket of fluff,” and he rewarded the woman as he took the microphone with an “I love you” and a gentle kiss on the head.

“If I sound angry, it’s because I am angry,” Mr. Biden told a few hundred people gathered at a high school football field. Yes, he sounds angry, yelling through his stump speeches, flailing his arms and telling a (supportive) member of the audience to “Shush up, will you?” (“I’m kidding,” he added, but did not sound it.)

But the reality for Mr. Biden is that while running mates are second-fiddlers by definition, the phenomenon of Ms. Palin has rendered him something of a fourth or fifth fiddle. It is not like last month, when reporters swarmed Mr. Biden’s Delaware home and delegates swooned at the Democratic convention. He is now trailed by just a few national reporters, and struggling to break through in a race marked by historic firsts, political celebrities and charismatic newcomers — none named Joe Biden.

The Obama campaign was hoping to reintroduce Mr. Biden this week as running mate attack dog. But his penchant for verbal rambling ensured that much of the attention he drew was unwanted: he said wealthy Americans had a “patriotic” duty to pay more taxes, a remark the McCain campaign mocked relentlessly.

Yet Joltin’ Joe has also become a fascinating Off Broadway spectacle in his own right. He is a distinctive blend of pit bull and odd duck whose weak filters make him capable of blurting out pretty much anything — “gaffes,” out-of-nowhere comments (pivoting midspeech to say “Excuse my back!” to people seated behind him), goofy asides (tapping a reporter’s chest and telling him, “You need to work on your pecs.”)

Mr. Biden’s role is red-meat serious: to pulverize Mr. McCain, lend foreign policy heft to Senator Barack Obama and be his campaign’s main ambassador to two at-risk constituencies: former supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and blue-collar Democrats. He speaks to working-class voters in the harsh language of their economic trials, and summons easy rage at ear-splitting volumes.

“John said that the economy can have a ‘psychological effect,’ ” Mr. Biden said at a twilight rally in Media, Pa., on Tuesday. “Let me tell you about the psychological effect,” he said, describing his family’s economic struggles when he was young. Mr. Biden might seem like an afterthought on the national airwaves, but he can clearly resonate close up.

“People got to wake up, because these guys in Washington are raping this country,” said Dave McLimans, a steelworker from Coatesville, Pa., who attended the rally in Media. “Joe Biden talks in a way that can wake people up.”

Mr. Biden’s venues are, in many cases, economically challenged areas of swing states. His crowds are up-and-down in number and enthusiasm — some loud and in the thousands, others sleepier and small. But his reviews are generally good from voters, some who came in unconvinced about Mr. Obama.

“Biden is a guy who I really believe, who really seems like he is going to help us out,” said Sheryl Kline, a loader for the United Parcel Service who attended a rally in Maumee, Ohio. “He sounds like someone who knows how we’re struggling.”

Despite his hard words, there is also a joy to Mr. Biden’s pursuit. On Monday, he walked into a Ford plant in Macomb County, Mich., jumped behind the wheel of a red Mustang convertible and let loose with a few satisfying vroom-vrooms of the engine.

“I know I’m not supposed to like muscle cars, but I like muscle cars,” Mr. Biden said as clusters of autoworkers whooped around him. “I tell you man, this is nice,” he said, giving a few extra revs of the engine for good measure, and his Senate cuff links clicked on the side of the car as he jumped out to more applause.

In an interview, he rejected any notion that his message was not being heard. “I just don’t get that, I don’t see any evidence of that,” he said in the back office of the Maumee Elks Lodge.

He barely mentions the Alaska governor in speeches; in the interview, he described her as “a very attractive political personality” who can “really deliver a political message.”

Mr. Biden, 65, has been part of the national political furniture for decades. Like most senators, he thought he could be president, and he made runs for the job twice. Then Mr. Obama picked him for a job he said he never wanted.

Mr. Biden retains his regal senatorial bearing even in gritty settings of the campaign trail. On Wednesday, he wore a pressed blue blazer with a hanky folded smartly into the breast pocket. His skin is perma-tanned, and his smile is shiny white. He has his own big entourage now — own bus, own plane. He conveys the giddy sense of a man who has won a political lottery, or been plucked from an elite purgatory.

In Mansfield, Ohio, on Thursday, Mr. Biden made an improvisational stop at a diner, shook a bunch of hands and walked out into the sun holding a vanilla ice cream cone. “I’m dripping here, man,” Mr. Biden said to a well-wisher as he headed across the street to a carousel.

“Am I too old to get on it?” he asked no one in particular, then headed back to his campaign bus.

“Anyone need a ride?” he asked some people standing nearby. “I’ve got a nice bus.”

Mr. Biden’s tone turns somber when he discusses Mr. McCain, a colleague of over two decades. The tenor of this campaign has tested a friendship that has been close even by Senate standards, where everyone claims to be “my good friend.”

“That guy I used to know, he’s gone,” Mr. Biden said of Mr. McCain at the campaign event in Maumee, shaking his head. “It literally saddens me,” added Mr. Biden, who tends to used the word “literally” about a dozen times per speech (literally).

Mr. Biden recalls that after Mr. McCain came under heavy attack from George W. Bush in the 2000 race for the Republican presidential nomination, he called Mr. McCain and offered to “go anywhere in the country and testify to his character.” Now, Mr. Biden asserts, Mr. McCain has embraced the same tactics he once criticized.

“I tried to talk to John,” Mr. Biden said in the interview. When both men were at Columbia University last week on the Sept. 11 anniversary, Mr. Biden had a staff member try to arrange a dressing-room visit with Mr. McCain. But Mr. Biden was told not to come, he said.

“I walked down anyway,” Mr. Biden said. “And who the hell is going to stop me?” Mr. McCain looked up and was “like, what is this about?” Mr. Biden said. Mr. McCain hugged Mr. Biden’s wife, Jill, and the two senators shared a quick handshake, but there was no time for any discussion.

Leaving the Elks Lodge in Maumee this week, Mr. Biden threw his arms around volunteers, posed for photos, and said he was flattered about the attention.

“Remember, no one decides who they’re going to vote for based on the vice president,” he said. “I mean that literally.”

Posted in Politics | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Barack Obama Campaign Mocks John McCain’s Disability in New Ad!

Posted by morganwrites on September 14, 2008

Much has been discussed about John McCain not being able to use a computer and in an ad from the Barack Obama campaign (shown above) it says, “Can’t send an email,” referencing McCain. An article in Boston.com from 2000, shows McCain cannot type on a keyboard.

It took a blogger from The Corner less than a day to find an article in Boston.com that references John McCain injuries from Vietnam, showing he cannot tie his shoes, comb his hair properly or “typing on a keyboard,” stating it was because of his severe war injuries, which limit his ability to do certain things with his hands.

McCain gets emotional at the mention of military families needing food stamps or veterans lacking health care. The outrage comes from inside: McCain’s severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes. Friends marvel at McCain’s encyclopedic knowledge of sports. He’s an avid fan – Ted Williams is his hero – but he can’t raise his arm above his shoulder to throw a baseball.

One has to wonder if anyone at the Obama campaign knows how to use a search engine.

This new ad is part of the aggressive campaigning the Obama officials say they will be rolling out and as ABC’s Political Punch points out, this is the thrid or fourth time Barack Obama will be “taking the gloves off,” to fight it out.

David Plouffe, who is Obama’s campaign manager, says they are heading into the final stretch and continues on to say, “We will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain’s attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people. We will not allow John McCain and his band of Karl Rove disciples to make this big election about small things.”

If mocking John McCain’s disabilities that he obtained during his captivity in war, is how they plan to fight the big issues, then Obama’s campaign has more problems than just sagging poll numbers.

Perhaps some lesson on how to use a Google search engine should be in order for the Obama campaign members responsible for creating these latest types of ads.

Posted in Barack Obama | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Unfit For Office!!1!!1! McCain Can’t Tie His Shoes

Posted by morganwrites on September 14, 2008

A few more thoughts about what Rob and Proof have said earlier about Obama’s new ad going after McCain for not using email.

FDR won WWII without AOL.

Reagan didn’t use email . . . are you saying Reagan sucked, you pinko ratfink loser?

McCain is absolutely fair game. He has taken the low road against Obama (which, frankly, I am all for and hope he is saving the best for last) so McCain is open to taunts that he is old, that he is rich and out-of-touch, the consumate Washington insider, who chooses an alaskan amazon to be his veep.

But isn’t it a bit of a low blow to say we should laugh at the guy because he can’t use his hands very well? Because they were CRUSHED BY HIS COMMIE TORTURERS no less?

Is this a fruitful tack for the Obamanids to take? Will it play at the VFW?

Barack Obama should leave the Isotoners on – he just isn’t good at playing the bully (he doesn’t have a knack for it, to his credit) and he doesn’t do his research: the claim by McCain that he can’t use email because his captors ruined his hands isn’t just some ad hoc campaign response. From 2004:

McCain’s severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes.

Update: Ouch – “I think they spent months trying to figure out how they can position Obama as better qualified than McCain, and basically came up with the fact that Obama can type.”

Update: Double Ouch – “In a similar vein I guess it’s an outrage that the blind governor of New York David Patterson doesn’t know how to drive a car. After all, transportation issues are pretty important. How dare he serve as governor while being ignorant of what it’s like to navigate New York’s highways.”

Update: Doh! – “In certain ways, McCain was a natural Web candidate. Chairman of the Senate Telecommunications Subcommittee and regarded as the U.S. Senate’s savviest technologist, McCain is an inveterate devotee of email. His nightly ritual is to read his email together with his wife, Cindy. The injuries he incurred as a Vietnam POW make it painful for McCain to type. Instead, he dictates responses that his wife types on a laptop. “She’s a whiz on the keyboard, and I’m so laborious,” McCain admits.”

Crossposted from Ken McCracken

Posted in Barack Obama | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

Global AIDS prevention gives short shrift to gays

Posted by morganwrites on September 12, 2008

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -Jorge Saavedra’s moment of truth came in the middle of an impassioned speech to 5,000 people about the paltry amount of money being spent to stop the spread of AIDS among gay men.

The Mexican federal official paused, then said publicly for the first time that he was gay.

As he held up a photo of himself with his partner, the crowd applauded wildly. Afterward, men from Africa and India congratulated him with tears in their eyes.

“They told me that I was a hero, and that they wished they could do the same in their countries,” said Saavedra, who is infected with HIV and also heads the AIDS prevention program in a country where many gay men live in denial.

Saavedra’s coming out on Tuesday at the International AIDS Conference sent a powerful message to the world: Homophobia must be stamped out if AIDS is to be controlled.

Fewer people are dying from AIDS, but new HIV infections among gay and bisexual men in many countries are rising at alarming rates.

Yet less than 1 percent of the $669 million reported in global prevention spending targets men who have sex with men, according to UNAIDS figures from 2006, the latest available data.

UNAIDS says these men receive the lowest coverage of HIV prevention services of any at-risk population. And experts say discrimination has driven gay and bisexual men in developing nations underground — turning them into one of the epidemic’s hardest groups to reach. From Mexico to India, a surprising number of men who have sex with men insist they are not gay, and in many countries, governments still refuse to admit homosexuality exists.

“It’s very difficult to provide services to men who have sex with men in countries that don’t acknowledge they exist or criminalize them if they do exist,” said Craig McClure, executive director of International AIDS Society, which organized the conference.

In 86 nations, homosexual sex is considered a crime, and in seven countries it is punishable by death, according to the Foundation for AIDS Research, known as Amfar.

During the conference’s inauguration, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged nations “to follow Mexico’s bold example and pass laws against homophobia.”

In 2003, Mexico banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, and it has opened what it calls homophobic-free health clinics. The government has a national campaign that includes radio spots with mothers accepting their gay sons. Saavedra’s program has earmarked 10 percent of its $12 million budget toward prevention among gay and bisexual men.

Worldwide, few developing nations check the rates of HIV infection among men who have sex with men, but researchers who have surveyed some of these countries say they are finding the rates are nearly twice that of the general adult population.

“This fight needs to be driven by epidemiologists” who urge making this high-risk group a priority, not only for the human rights argument, but for the public health argument, said Chris Beyrer, director of the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at Johns Hopkins University. “It’s a virus so you need to put the money where the virus is.”

Gay and bisexual men are 19 times more likely to become infected with HIV than the general adult population, according to Amfar, which collected data on these men in 128 countries. In Mexico, this group is 109 times more likely to acquire HIV. To date, 57 percent of the HIV diagnoses in Mexico are from unprotected sex between men.

Thailand is seeing “an emerging epidemic of really unbelievable proportions” among its gay and bisexual men after being held up as an example for its success with a massive condom campaign that curbed HIV’s spread among sex workers, drug users and migrants, said Kevin Frost, Amfar’s chief executive officer.

Prevalence of HIV among gay and bisexual Thai men was more than 15 percent this year compared to 1.4 percent for the general adult population, according to Amfar. Frost said the country’s prevention programs ignored one of its most vulnerable groups.

“These men believed they were not at risk because they were not having sex with sex workers or women, which is what the campaign focused on,” Frost said. “That scenario is being played out across the developing world.”

Complicating matters is that in countries from Latin America to Southeast Asia, many men who have sex with men, insist they are not gay. More than 30 percent of Latin American men who reported having sex with men said they also had unprotected sex with women, according to UNAIDS. Many are married.

“Everybody knows somebody like that,” Saavedra, 48, said. “Instead of saying they are gay, it’s easier for them to justify their behavior. They say they were drunk and they were really sexually excited and willing to have sex with whomever.”

Some have beaten up transvestites after having sex with them because they are ashamed of themselves, experts say.

Even governments deny these men exist. Last year, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at Columbia University in New York, “In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country.”

In Malawi, that country’s first organization working on behalf of gay men was created in 2006 with the backing of World Bank officials and other international agencies.

Called the Centre for the Development of People, the group surveyed 100 gay men about discrimination to prove to the government that such men existed in Malawi. Homosexual sex is punishable up to 14 years in prison in the African country.

The organization also found through testing 200 gay men that about 21 percent carried HIV compared with 12 percent for the general adult population.

“This means that we are not moving ahead with the fight against AIDS,” said Gift Trapence, the organization’s director who has received e-mails threatening hanging.

AIDS activists say they avoid using words like “homosexual” or “gay” and instead use the label “men who have sex with men,” or MSM, so their work is not impeded by the stigma.

Ashok Row Kavi said he has learned the importance of carefully choosing his words in India, where he started one of the country’s first organizations to work with gay and bisexual men.

The Humsafar Trust found nearly 14 percent of the gay and bisexual men it surveyed in 1999 were infected with HIV. Kavi said when he told India’s AIDS officials they “totally panicked because until now they believed these men did not exist.”

But last year they added a definition of men who have sex with men to their health planning program to start prevention campaigns. The definition includes married men.

Kavi has been training health workers how to ask men if they have had gay sex and not scare them away.

“I tell them to say things like, ‘There are many cultures where men are very close to men. Are you one of these men?'” he said. “These questions have to be sensitive,” especially in India, where sodomy is illegal.

“That’s why the word homosexual is not used,” he said. “If anyone asks a man that, he will slap you.”

Posted in AIDS | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Planet Gore

Posted by morganwrites on September 12, 2008

(NRO) – Possibly scrambling to get right with the Bitter Clingers in Scranton after Hurricane Sarah reminding them that he speaks differently to their face than when they’re not around, Obama dangerously went off-prompter again today to talk about global warming. Fear and channeling the End of Days is one way to change the subject.

In addition to ditching the prompter he went into slightly more detail than he chose to give when a lot more people were watching at the Ocrapolis. I heard the tape on Rush, and recall some of it verbatim (possibly all, but if not consider it a very close paraphrase). His key points of evidence, in support of his claim that “global warming is a serious problem, you know, it’s not just some tree-hugger, uh, sprout-eating liberal thing,” are that “the polar ice caps are melting, the oceans are warming.”

Planet Gore

Planet Gore

Caps, not cap, and melting. Sure, global warming computer models tell us that a greenhouse warming signal is polar amplification, both poles. And our lyin’ eyes tell us the Antarctic is steadily gaining ice mass, and the other end of the planet has a mere 700,000 square miles more ice today than a year ago today. And even NPR has openly struggled over what to call global-warming-without-the-warming after learning that while computer models were still telling us the oceans should be warming, the actual observations were telling us that they were not. Possibly this was Obama’s avatar speaking?

Anyway, I hope he’s got something else in his rhetorical bag to explain how he’s not a sprout-eating — or arugula-eating — liberal.

By the way, when I was looking for a transcript or tape, the first hit was from the Scranton Times-Tribune home page showing The One waiting in an SUV, beneath his airplane (if it’s changed, see here). I wonder if he really thinks he can keep doing that and just think other countries will say that’s ok.

My friends over at the National Center for Public Policy Research have put together a generally superb summary of the shortcomings of the Pickens Plan. The report says that the plan raises several questions:

Has oil production finally and irrevocably peaked, as Pickens claims?  Why use wind power instead of nuclear power?  Are natural gas-powered vehicles a viable alternative to gasoline-powered cars, and would switching to them improve America’s security?  What does Pickens believe the federal government should do to make his plan a reality?  Might he or the firms he owns benefit financially from such federal aid?

Free-market conservatives may not be impressed with the answers Pickens seems to favor.

Posted in Global Warming | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Democratic Candidates Say They’re OK With Second-Grade Teacher Reading Gay Prince Fairy Tale

Posted by morganwrites on September 10, 2008

(FOX) – A fairy tale about two princes falling in love sparked a backlash — and a lawsuit — against a teacher and a school last year when it was read to a second-grade class in Massachusetts.

But the three frontrunners in the Democratic presidential race suggested Wednesday night at their debate in New Hampshire that they’d support reading the controversial book to children as part of a school curriculum.

Moderator Tim Russert asked John Edwards, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton whether they’d be comfortable having the story — called “King & King” — read to their children in school.

Edwards gave the first and most definitive answer — a resounding and instant “yes, absolutely” — although he added that it “might be a little tough” for second-graders.

Obama agreed with Edwards and revealed that his wife has already spoken to his 6- and 9-year-old daughters about same-sex marriage.

Clinton said she believes it’s up to parents to decide how to handle such topics, but added that it’s important to teach kids about the “many differences that are in the world.”


Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, and, as Russert pointed out Wednesday, most of the Democratic candidates have said they oppose it. But though they don’t back the legislation, they apparently think it’s OK to teach elementary-school students about gay marriage.

“I want my children to understand everything about the difficulties that gay and lesbian couples are faced with every day, the discrimination that they’re faced with every single day of their lives,” Edwards said. “I suspect my two younger children, Emma Claire, who’s 9, and Jack, who’s 7, will reach the same conclusion that my daughter Cate, who’s 25, has reached — which is, she doesn’t understand why her dad is not in favor of same-sex marriage.”

The 2004 vice presidential candidate and former North Carolina senator said he doesn’t want to influence his kids’ opinions about the issue.

“I don’t want to make that decision on behalf of my children,” he said. “I want my children to be able to make that decision on behalf of themselves, and I want them to be exposed to all the information, even in — did you say second grade? Second grade might be a little tough, but even in second grade to be exposed to all those possibilities, because I don’t want to impose my view. Nobody made me God.”

Obama told Russert that his sentiments are similar to those of Edwards, and, when asked whether he’d sat down to talk about same-sex marriage with his young daughters, he replied that his wife had.

“The fact is, my 9-year-old and my 6-year-old I think are already aware that there are same-sex couples,” the Illinois senator told the debate. “One of the things I want to communicate to my children is not to be afraid of people who are different. …. One of the things I think the next president has to do is stop fanning people’s fears. If we spend all our time feeding the American people fear and conflict and division, then they become fearful and conflicted and divided.”

Clinton said she respects the viewpoints of Obama and Edwards, but she sidestepped the question of whether she’d be comfortable having a storybook like “King & King” read to her own child at that age.

“With respect to your individual children, that is such a matter of parental discretion,” Clinton said. “Obviously, it is better to try to … help your children understand the many differences that are in the world. … And that goes far beyond sexual orientation. So I think that this issue of gays and lesbians and their rights will remain an important one in our country.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who is vying for the Republican nomination for president, weighed in afterward with a statement accusing the Democratic candidates of being “out of touch” with America.

“Not one candidate was uncomfortable with young children learning about same-sex marriage in the second grade,” Romney said in the statement. “This is a subject that should be left to parents, not public school teachers. We need to strengthen our families by passing a federal marriage amendment and also insisting on marriage before having children. Change in Washington requires Democrats with the courage to stand up to their ultra liberal base and do what’s right for our children.”

Some Lexington, Mass., parents were livid that a Joseph Estabrook Elementary School teacher read “King & King” to their second-grade children in class.

The Dutch tale, which has been translated into English, is about a prince whose mother pressures him to find a princess but who ends up falling in love with and marrying the brother of one of the prospective brides instead.

Last year, a judge dismissed a federal lawsuit brought by two sets of parents of students in the class who objected to the introduction of homosexual themes to their 7-year-olds without alerting them first, on the grounds that it was a violation of the state’s sex-education parental notification clause.

School officials stood by their decision to teach about different kinds of marriage and said that Massachusetts law requires them to do so.

And now Barack is denying that he never said that children should be taught in kindergarten about same sex marriage. Evidently he can’t remember the stances he takes nor can he remember his lies, gaffs and mistakes – and he’s running for the highest office in the land – WTF.

Posted in Democratic discord and confusion | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »