Monday, March 10, 2008

Obama lobbies homosexuals for edge over Hillary

Letter to 'LGBT community' affirms he'd dump Defense of Marriage Act

It's not easy to find on his campaign website, but Sen. Barack Obama has issued an open letter to the "LGBT community" assuring them he believes in "full equality" for homosexuals and stating that, unlike Sen. Hillary Clinton, he advocates the complete repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. In the letter, published on a campaign blog, Obama says he's "running for president to build an America that lives up to our founding promise of equality for all - a promise that extends to our gay brothers and sisters." Pointing out that throughout his career he's "fought to eliminate discrimination against LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) Americans," Obama lists some of his specific accomplishments.

* In the Illinois legislature, he "co-sponsored a fully inclusive bill that prohibited discrimination on the basis of both sexual orientation and gender identity, extending protection to the workplace, housing and places of public accommodation."

* In the U.S. Senate, he has co-sponsored bills "that would equalize tax treatment for same-sex couples and provide benefits to domestic partners of federal employees."

As president, he says, "I will place the weight of my administration behind the enactment of the Matthew Shepard Act to outlaw hate crimes and a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act to outlaw workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity."

In the run-up to the recent Texas and Ohio primaries, Obama bought full-page ads in homosexual-oriented newspapers in Columbus, Cleveland, Dallas and Houston. The ads were the brainchild of Stampp Corbin, co-chairman of Obama's National LGBT Leadership Council, the Advocate newspaper reported. Stern told the 'gay' publication the coordinated buy was "the icing on the cake" in terms of the campaign's outreach to the homosexual community in the two states. "It's a direct appeal to LGBT voters, asking for their support," Corbin said. The Advocate said the Obama campaign "has actively been trying to cut into the long-standing ties between gays and lesbians and Sen. Hillary Clinton."

In his letter, Obama says he will also use the presidency's bully pulpit to "urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws." The candidate for the White House says he would not prevent legalization of same-sex marriage. "I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment," he sayes. "But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union or a civil marriage."

Obama says he has opposed the Defense of Marriage Act since arriving in the Senate three years ago, and, unlike Sen. Clinton and those who say it should be partially repealed, "I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether." "Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does," he says. The Defense of Marriage Act is a law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996 that says the federal government and individual states are not required to recognize a same-sex marriage, even if it is recognized by another state.

Obama points out he also has called for repeal of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy of barring personnel from disclosing homosexual behavior or "orientation" while preventing authorities from investigating it.

The Illinois senator says he also has worked "to improve the Uniting American Families Act so we can accord same-sex couples the same rights and obligations as married couples in our immigration system." The bill would allow unmarried "permanent partners" of U.S. citizens to obtain permanent resident status in the same manner as spouses.

More here

The empty vessel on Iraq

One of his advisers on Iraq was unwisely frank:

Samantha Power, one of Barack's top foreign advisors before she wasn't, went on the BBC and told the whole world that Obama has no real exit strategies for Iraq and that WHEN and IF he becomes president that he'll talk to the military brass to see what strategy they'd recommend.

Just like his talk on NAFTA, it looks like Obama is not to be trusted with what he says on Iraq, either. The American Mind has the transcript:

STEPHEN SACKUR: Let me stop you just for a moment. You said that he'll revisit it when he goes to the White House. So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment isn't it?

POWER: You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are gonna be like in Jan. 2009. We can't even tell what Bush is up to in terms of troop pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US senator.

He will rely upon a plan, an operational plan that he pulls together, in consultation with people who are on the ground, to whom he doesn't have daily access now as a result of not being the president.

So to think, I mean it would be the height of ideology, you know, to sort of say, well I said it therefore I'm going to impose it on whatever reality entreats me -

SACKUR: Ok, so the 16 months is negotiable?

POWER: It's the best case scenario

It's the best case scenario

Ultimately, Barack has no idea how quickly he can withdraw forces. He has no idea if it can even be done. Figures.

More here


By Barry Rubin, writing from Israel

The U.S. presidential election is not--at least not supposed to be--like electing a high school class president. Vague promises, glib speeches, and personal popularity shouldn't be enough to gain victory. This should be especially true this year since so many Americans don't seem to think they did such a great job of choosing the last time they voted.

All these points go double and more for the Middle East, an area too dangerous and important to deal with lightly. Yet since these debates are so highly partisan there has been a huge amount of distortion and self-interested blather on all sides.

So let's sort it out. The first issue must be who you trust to deal with the Middle East. The question is definitely not Israel, or even Arab-Israeli issues, in isolation. The next American president will face a lot of other problems, too, including at a minimum: Afghanistan, attempts to takeover states, Egypt's post-Mubarak president, Hamas, Hizballah and Lebanon, Iranian expansionism, Iranian nuclear, Iraq, oil supply and prices, radical Islamist movements, stability of relatively moderate Arab regimes, Syria, and terrorism.

The overriding question is a struggle between a well-organized radical alliance (HISH: Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, in Iraq both insurgents and radical Shia, and Syria) and a relatively moderate though completely uncoordinated set of states. In addition, there are radical Islamist forces that don't work with the HISH bloc but seek revolution in their own countries. Failure to recognize that reality is extraordinarily dangerous.

Facing this very tough situation, it's hard to believe that Barack Obama has the experience, understanding, or worldview to manage the virtually continuous crisis the region faces. The critical point here is not whether he says the "right" things but whether he understands things the right way. Speaking as an analyst, my main concern is not whether or not Obama is elected but that if he becomes president he will do the best possible job. The best-case conclusion-a combination of wishful thinking and accurate assessment-is that sooner or later he will reach what I'll call the default position for U.S. Middle East policy.

In other words, he might start out convinced that he can persuade the Iranian and Syrian governments along with others who are enemies of the United States to play nice. Along the way, one hopes, he will learn that this doesn't work. The main problem is that they don't just object to U.S. policies (or values even, at least if those stay confined to America) but that they rightly see the United States as a barrier standing between them and a Middle East filled with Islamist states and under their hegemony.

All presidents need to learn in office. In relative terms, though, both Hillary Clinton and John McCain are pretty much ready now. Obama is going to need two or three years. So the good news could be that Obama will eventually understand what needs to be done; and the bad news is what happens during that time period.

Given current trends, it's quite possible that by the time he gains the needed comprehension, Iran will have nuclear weapons, Lebanon and Iraq will be satellites of Tehran, and Hamas will run the West Bank. In addition, perceiving Obama as na‹ve and appeasement-oriented-not my invention but one inevitable in the region-will embolden extremists and make relative moderates rush to cut a deal with what they'll see as the winning side. Or to put it another way, the economist John Maynard Keynes said that in the long run we are all dead. In the Middle East, in the medium-run we will all be in very serious trouble.

More here


Canadians will die if we adopt a universal health insurance plan. "Single payer" are weasel words for government-run. He who pays the piper calls the tune. Democrats have made it clear that they no longer want to pay top price for top service. They will save you money. That will drive down the quality, availability and quantity of health care. I know this because that is how it is done in every socialized medicine country.

In a column in the Toronto Globe and Mail, Lisa Priest explores: "Why Ontario keeps sending patients south." She has the numbers. Heart patient with clogged arteries? You're headed to Detroit for the same angioplasty that is offered in West Virginia apparently is not offered in Ontario. Curious.

High risk pregnancy? Enjoy the ride to Michigan. Charleston (population 50,000) has more neonatal intensive care units than Calgary (population 1 million). That's why this summer those "Canadian" quadruplets were born in Great Falls, Mont., which also has more NICU beds than Calgary. Hey, they can run for president of the United States in 2044.

Her article told the story of one heart patient, a Mr. Bialkowski, who was sent to Detroit.
The price to treat him, including a two-day hospital stay in March, 2007, was $40,826.21 (U.S.) With a 35 per cent discount from Henry Ford Hospital, the bill to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan tallied $26,537.03(U.S.), according to a health ministry document, a copy of which was sent to Mr. Bialkowski.

The father of six, a human resources manager for a manufacturing company based in Windsor, is back at the gym and feels great. It didn't matter where he received the lifesaving care, he said, just so long as he obtained it. "I guess the Canadian government took care of me," he said.

If by "took care" he means mooched off the United States, then I guess the Canadian government did just that. But what happens when an Obama or another Clinton is elected president? Maybe they can life flight heart patients to India.



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