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The Gay Old Party Comes Out

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After the jump...a great column by Frank Rich which appeared in yesterday's New York Times. (Monday 10-17)


The Gay Old Party Comes Out


PAGING Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council: Here?s a gay Republican story you probably did not hear last week. On Tuesday a card-carrying homosexual, Mark Dybul, was sworn into office at the State Department with his partner holding the Bible. Dr. Dybul, the administration?s new global AIDS coordinator, was flanked by Laura Bush and Condi Rice. In her official remarks, the secretary of state referred to the mother of Dr. Dybul?s partner as his ?mother-in-law.?

Could wedding bells be far behind? It was all on display, photo included, on www.state.gov. And while you?re cruising the Internet, a little creative Googling will yield a long list of who else is gay, openly and not, in the highest ranks of both the Bush administration and the Republican hierarchy. The openly gay range from Steve Herbits, the prescient right-hand consultant to Donald Rumsfeld who foresees disaster in Iraq in Bob Woodward?s book ?State of Denial,? to Israel Hernandez, the former Bush personal aide and current Commerce Department official whom the president nicknamed ?Altoid boy.? (Let?s not go there.)

If anything good has come out of the Foley scandal, it is surely this: The revelation that the political party fond of demonizing homosexuals each election year is as well-stocked with trusted and accomplished gay leaders as virtually every other power center in America. ?What you?re really seeing is the Republican Party on the Hill,? says Rich Tafel, the former leader of the gay Log Cabin Republicans whom George W. Bush refused to meet with during the 2000 campaign. ?Across the board gay people are in leadership positions.? Yet it is this same party?s Congressional leadership that in 2006 did almost nothing about government spending, Iraq, immigration or ethics reform, but did drop everything to focus on a doomed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

The split between the Republicans? outward homophobia and inner gayness isn?t just hypocrisy; it?s pathology. Take the bizarre case of Karl Rove. Every one of his Bush campaigns has been marked by a dirty dealing of the gay card, dating back to the lesbian whispers that pursued Ann Richards when Mr. Bush ousted her as Texas governor in 1994. Yet we now learn from ?The Architect,? the recent book by the Texas journalists James Moore and Wayne Slater, that Mr. Rove?s own (and beloved) adoptive father, Louis Rove, was openly gay in the years before his death in 2004. This will be a future case study for psychiatric clinicians as well as historians.

So will Kirk Fordham, the former Congressional aide who worked not only for Mark Foley but also for such gay-baiters as Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma (who gratuitously bragged this year that no one in his family?s ?recorded history? was gay) and Senator Mel Martinez of Florida (who vilified his 2004 Republican primary opponent, a fellow conservative, as a tool of the ?radical homosexual agenda?). Then again, even Rick Santorum, the Pennsylvania senator who brought up incest and ?man-on-dog? sex while decrying same-sex marriage, has employed a gay director of communications. In the G.O.P. such switch-hitting is as second nature as cutting taxes.

As for Mr. Foley, he is no more representative of gay men, whatever their political orientation, than Joey Buttafuoco is of straight men. Yet he?s a useful creep at this historical juncture because his behavior has exposed and will continue to expose a larger dynamic on the right. The longer the aftermath of this scandal continues, with its maniacal finger-pointing and relentless spotlight on the Republican closet, the harder it will be for his party to return to the double-dealing that has made gay Americans election-year bogeymen (and women) for so long.

The moment Mr. Foley?s e-mails became known, we saw that brand of fearmongering and bigotry at full tilt: Bush administration allies exploited the former Congressman?s predatory history to spread the grotesque canard that homosexuality is a direct path to pedophilia. It?s the kind of blood libel that in another era was spread about Jews.

The Family Research Council?s Mr. Perkins, a frequent White House ally and visitor, led the way. ?When we elevate tolerance and diversity to the guidepost of public life,? he said on Fox News Channel, ?this is what we get ? men chasing 16-year-old boys around the halls of Congress.? A related note was struck by The Wall Street Journal?s editorial page, which asked, ?Could a gay Congressman be quarantined?? The answer was no because ?today?s politically correct culture? ? tolerance of ?private lifestyle choices? ? gives predatory gay men a free pass. Newt Gingrich made the same point when he announced on TV that Mr. Foley had not been policed because Republicans ?would have been accused of gay bashing.? Translation: Those in favor of gay civil rights would countenance and protect sex offenders.

This line of attack was soon followed by another classic from the annals of anti-Semitism: the shadowy conspiracy. ?The secret Capitol Hill homosexual network must be exposed and dismantled,? said Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, another right-wing outfit that serves as a grass-roots auxiliary to the Bush administration. This network, he claims, was allowed ?to infiltrate and manipulate the party apparatus? and worked ?behind the scenes to sabotage a conservative pro-family agenda in Congress.?

There are two problems with this theory. First, gay people did not ?infiltrate? the party apparatus ? they are the party apparatus. Rare is the conservative Republican Congressional leader who does not have a gay staffer wielding clout in a major position. Second, any inference that gay Republicans on the Hill conspired to cover up Mr. Foley?s behavior is preposterous. Mr. Fordham, the gay former Foley aide who spent Thursday testifying under oath about his warnings to Denny Hastert?s staff, is to date the closest this sordid mess has to a whistle-blower, however tardy. So far, the slackers in curbing Mr. Foley over the past three years seem more straight than gay, led by the Buffalo Congressman Tom Reynolds, who is now running a guilt-ridden campaign commercial desperately apologizing to voters.

A Washington Post poll last week found that two-thirds of Americans believe that Democrats would behave just as badly as the Hastert gang in covering up a scandal like this to protect their own power. They are no doubt right. But the reason why the Foley scandal has legs ? and why it has upstaged most other news, from the Congressional bill countenancing torture to North Korea?s nuclear test ? is not just that sex trumps everything else in a tabloid-besotted America. The Republicans, unlike most Democrats (Joe Lieberman always excepted), can?t stop advertising their ?family values,? which is why their pitfalls are as irresistible as a Moli?re farce. It was entertaining enough to learn that the former Christian Coalition leader Ralph Reed wanted to go ?humping in corporate accounts? with the corrupt gambling lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The only way that comic setup could be topped was by the news that Mr. Foley was chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children?s Caucus. It beggars the imagination that he wasn?t also entrusted with No Child Left Behind.

Cultural conservatives who fell for the G.O.P.?s pious propaganda now look like dupes. Tonight on ?60 Minutes,? David Kuo, a former top official in the administration?s faith-based initiatives program, is scheduled to discuss his new book recounting how evangelical supporters were privately ridiculed as ?nuts? in the White House. If they have any self-respect, they?ll exact their own revenge.

We must hope as well that this crisis will lead to a repudiation of the ritual targeting of gay people for sport at the top levels of the Republican leadership in and out of the White House. For all the president?s talk of tolerance and ?compassionate conservatism,? he has repeatedly joined Congress in wielding same-sex marriage as a club for divisive political purposes. He sat idly by while his secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, attacked a PBS children?s show because an animated rabbit visited a lesbian couple and their children. Ms. Spellings was worried about children being exposed to that ?lifestyle? ? itself a code word for ?deviance? ? even as the daughter of the vice president was preparing to expose the country to that lifestyle in a highly promoted book.

?The hypocrisy, the winking and nodding is catching up with the party,? says Mr. Tafel, the former Log Cabin leader. ?Republicans must welcome their diversity as the party of Lincoln or purge the party of all gays. The middle ground ? we?re a diverse party but we can bash gays too ? will no longer work.? He adds that ?the ironic point is that the G.O.P. isn?t as homophobic as it pretends to be.? Indeed two likely leading presidential competitors in 2008, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani, are consistent supporters of gay civil rights.

Another ironic point, of course, is that the effort to eradicate AIDS, led by a number of openly gay appointees like Dr. Dybul, may prove to be the single most beneficent achievement of this beleaguered White House. To paraphrase a show tune you?re unlikely to hear around the Family Research Council, isn?t that queer?


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The sad part is that in our two party system, most people fall somewhere in the middle. Very few people agree 100% with one party or the other and we always end up voting for someone that is a compromise. Usually it is a bad compromise dictated by pocketbook issues.

I remember hearing a lot of my fellow Southerners saying that they wanted to vote for an oil man because the democrats won't let them drill and are hostile to their business. [here in good ole Mississippi, we've got refineries and many, many offshore workers]. I'm not saying this is good-- that's just how it is.

When the Democrats roll out people like Gore or Dean, they scare the living shit out of the red states. People who are part of the traditional democratic base vote against them because they are afraid that some of the more radical environmental proposals are going to put their employers out of business and them out of work.

I'm of the opinion that a third party is desperately needed in this country. There has got to be a middle way between the extremes of the Left and Right and the corruption of one party politics. I think that there is probably no better time for a 3rd party than now. Many voters are deeply disturbed and disgusted with the republican incompetence and corruption while holding the presidency, house and senate. Others deeply resent and distrust the Left for a host of issues from economically damaging environmental policies to a lax attitude on National security and military matters.

I would like to vote for that 3rd party. A party of moderates that protect and defend the country and the Constitution. I would like to vote for a party that isn't the bitch of special interests or cooperations. I would like to vote for a party that encourages scientific innovation, a robust economy and protects the environment. I would like to vote for a party that has a reasonable energy policy that does not depend on something magical happening in the future. I would like to vote for a party that is deeply committed to protecting the civil rights of all of its citizens and is not willing to make politically expedient deals at any groups expense.

I would like to vote for that party but I'm afraid that it doesn't exist. I'm absolutely sure that millions of people feel the same way. It just has to have more going for it than blind anger and a crazy billionaire.


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I agree with James 100% that a middle of the road "third party" is needed, badly. Why it hasn't happened yet beyond me -- other than neither party want's it to happen. After all that is their playgound! :icon1:

But as you mentioned -- now is the time for the third party to happen. I can't remember any time in our past history the discontent and/or contempt that we are seeing for this administration/president in the eyes of US citizens and the world community. I am deeply embarrassed the rest of the world has been witness to the past 6 years.

I was born and raised in Ohio to a Republican, Southern Baptist family and have spent many years voting the Republicans into office - sometimes. I am most happy to state that George Bush DID NOT get my vote in 03. Being Gay and Bush having that ATTITUDE towards Gays brought me to my senses -- BIG TIME!!! At this time, I am now a registered Democrat -- for the FIRST time.

I would welcome a third party with open arms -- now all we have to do is find that party!!

Is it even possible???? :w00t:

Hugs to all,


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I won't profess to understand US politics. Hell, I don't even understand Canadian politics and that's where I live. However, one thing is obvious to me that is wrong with both of our systems, and that is the representative system. In the past there were major problems with communications and quick response times to crises, but that time is surely gone. What we need to do is encourage a whole new system in which we have politicians proposing laws and having everyone voting on each issue. The infrastructure may be a few years in the making, but it IS feasible.

One caution about multi-party systems: you can end up with a majority government with significantly less than 50% popularity. And I mean significantly. I'm sure that some of you who are math geniuses will be able to figure it out exactly, but I'll just give you a very broad based example. 100M people can vote. A majority government is one which has 1 more seat than all the others combined. If there are 100 seats, only 51 need to be 'taken'. If there are 4 parties (mostly 4 across Canada) then only 25.1% of the people in any one of those areas comprising a seat need to vote for that party. 25.1% of 51% of 100M is 12.8M. BUT, the average voter turnout is about 60% in a "hot" election, so 7.68 million people can elect a majority government that cannot be defeated in any vote on any topic whatsoever. That's 7.68% of the country's population swings it like that in a multi-party system. It's not perfect, believe me. The 3rd most popular party in Canada is one dedicated to the breakup of Canada, with the French Canadians forming their own country. How's THAT for dissension?

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I'm not sure this is the place to discuss different electrol systems, but since we've started.

The issue with what Trab has proposed is that the seat is won by someone who simply has the most votes in that seat -- not a majority. Australia uses a preferential voting system where the winner is the person with the majority votes. If there are four candidates and after counting everyone's first preference none of them have that majority, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the votes for that candidate are re-distributed based on what the voter said is their second preference. This process continues until one candidate has a majority.

So, you can vote as "I want the Greens candidate to win, but if they can't, I'll vote for the 'We're looney but we're here' party candidate, and if they can't win either, then and only then will I vote for the Liberal candidate. The Labor candidate is my last preference".

No vote is "wasted" by voting for a minority party, and it sends a clear signal back to the major parties that they need to lift their game because they are NOT getting the primary (first preference) votes. It also means that the minority parties have some sway because a lot of votes will place their preferences based on the "How to vote" cards handed out by the political parties. The major parties work hard to get the preferences of the minor parties (eg. If they speak to the Greens party, they might say "We'll add a reforestation policy to our platform if you put our candidate down as the second preference" -- so they have a good chance of picking up the votes of the people who want to vote for the Greens).

That can have side effects, though. Our Senate system is different again, and because of preferences, the Family First party here in Australia ended up with a senator, despite only polling just over 2% of the primary vote....

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One correction Graeme. I didn't propose that. What I personally like is the use of the popular vote countrywide to assign the number of seats each party gets in the legislature. However, your Australian voting systems sounds like a very useful method. Is it still true that Aussies are required to vote, and don't just have the 'right'?

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Correction accepted. :icon1:

Yes, voting is a legal requirement. Exemptions can be applied for, but otherwise if you don't vote, you get fined. That has it's pros and cons.

As a pro, the political parties need to court EVERY vote and don't need to put any effort or strategic thinking into who is going to vote.

The major con is that also means they go for the lowest common denominator, because there is a significant number of people who are voting because they have to, not because they want to.

There is a thing called the "donkey" vote which adds around 1% to the person first on the ballet. This is where the voter has just gone blindly 1, 2, 3, 4... down the paper as their preferences. At one stage the ballets were in alphabetic order... until one candidate changed his name to Aardvark to ensure he'd be first on the ballet. Now the order is random.

No system is perfect.

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Firstly, I do not mind these political discussions as other people have pointed out that the net is the last stronghold of free-speech.

Graeme is right about compulsory voting being a legal requirement in Australia with one slight exception.

The law is that one must attend a poling booth on the appointed day to cast a vote by having their name crossed off an electoral list. There is no check to see that you have actually voted. If there was then it would not be a secret ballot and would be open to all kinds of abuse and threats.

This also allows for the democratic principle of the right to dissent from the majority view.

Your vote would then be informal which is considered by many to be wasted.

Compulsory voting in Australia is founded on the principle of taxation not being voluntary, therefore neither should the representatives who decide what is done with the collected taxes be elected voluntarily.

"There shall be no taxation without representation."

This point is constantly being argued in political circles but is stable at the moment.

(An interesting aside here would be that if you don't vote then you don't have to pay taxes . This is not likely to happen.) :icon1:

As for the division of Left and Right parties being challenged by a middle party, here in Australia our Left party "The labour Party" moved its base platform to just right of centre. This had the effect of moving the Right wing party called "The Liberal Party" further to the right. The Labour Party was warned back in the 1980s that this could happen .

Our present Federal Government has many sympathies with the Bush administration and your Republicans.

Yet they managed to move, or appear to move, back to the centre on SOME policies which many people believed was an indication of a fairer party. This in itself pushed our left wing Labour Party further to the right if not on some issues then certainly on the way it presents itself to the electorate or the way they are perceived.

I think some of this tactic holds true in the USA and the UK making a true middle ground party difficult to achieve if not an impossibility. This of course suits the Left and the Right as they only want two parties.

The less conservative Left-wing parties appear too kookie to the majority of the voters, The Old Left -wing Parties are out on a limb by themselves and the conservatives are running amok with fear tactics.

So this might seem like nothing has changed. The position on Left to Right balance has certainly changed, but as, http://www.politicalcompass.org/ shows there are really two other aspects to politics apart from Left and Right, these are the Authoritarian and the Libertine.

Please explore this site if you are at all interested in an "unbiased" discussion on the nature of the political spectrum. I found it fascinating.

They have a wonderful test to show where the individual's sympathy lay.

You should take the test first, before exploring the rest of the site.

Now I should say that I have no affiliation with any political party or organisation, extremist or otherwise.

I do not condone violence of any kind and I have no desire to convince you to all think like me.

Heaven help us, one of me is enough. :w00t:

The above points are just my current thoughts and references on the subject under discussion and I have been known to be wrong. :w00t:

Having said all that I do enjoy these types of discussion provided we keep our cool.

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Very interesting site Des. I'm just starting to explore, but I did the test and I'm right there, with Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and the Dalai Lama. What can I say, except "Wow". My results were L/R -7.88 and L/A -5.49

Some of those questions are a bit ambiguous though, so I think we have to be a bit careful about reading too much into it.

Thanks for posting that. :icon1:

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My test results:

Economic Left/Right: -4.13

Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.15

I'm almost spot-on with the Dalai Lama. At first I was surprised at my result, but then, thinking about it, it's pretty much the way I do think socially and politically. But, hey, I'm only 16-going-on-17, so what do I know? :w00t:

This was fun! I'm going to have Chris and Doug take it tonight, and I'll bring the URL to school tomorrow and give it to my Psych teacher. That should be fun! :icon1:

Colin :w00t:

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But, hey, I'm only 16-going-on-17, so what do I know?

Obviously as much as some of the best people in the world. Okay, maybe your knowledge level is lower, but your soul is right there, with the best.

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This is both funny, and tragic. It's from the Opus Funny mailing list. You can subscribe to this list by sending a blank email to:


If you consider that there has been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theatre of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2,112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000 soldiers.

The firearm death rate in Washington, D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000 for the same period.

That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in the U.S. Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.

Conclusion: The U.S. should pull out of Washington, D.C. immediately.

Colin :icon1:

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But, hey, I'm only 16-going-on-17, so what do I know? :icon1:


In the Civil War the average age of the Union soldier was 17. The average age of the Confederate soldier was just a little short of 15.

In many of the worlds revolutionary movements, the foot soldiers are students.

Alexander the Great won his first battle at 16, became king of Macedonia at 18 and had conquered the known world by the age of 33.

Kant made a major mathematical breakthrough at the age of 16.

Mozart played 6 instruments by the age of 4 and toured at the age of 10.

Blaise Pascal worked out the first twenty-three propositions of Euclid on his own at the tender age of 11.

Steve Wozniak started developing complex electronics while still in grade 5 and went on to become one of the founders of Apple.

Thomas Chatterton composed the poems that would make him famous at age 12.

John Stuart Mill knew several dead languages by age eight and studied scholastic philosophy at 12.

Michelle Wie qualified for the USGA amateur championship event at 10.

Tiger Woods won the Optimist International Junior tournament at age 8.

Wayne Gretsky was playing hockey at age 6 and is recognized as the greatest hockey player of all time.


There is nothing wrong with being young. Young people have made major contributions in every field- to deny that genius and energy is pure folly. Young people are the force vitale and force majure of any society. The health and prosperity of any society depends on that energy to maintain its greatness.

Don't sell yourself short simply because you are young. Over the centuries young people have proven over and over that they have something unique and outstanding to offer.



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