I have a contact on the other side of the wire. Several years ago I wrote several articles about one Fred Karger, a Republican operative during the Ford, Reagan and GHW Bush Administrations who was the first candidate for President to declare. Karger also happened to be the first openly gay person to declare for the office of the Presidency.
My contact is a gay Republican Washingtonian. "Trent," 27, is a Log Cabin Republican who was active during the hijacking of the LGBT civil rights movement by the Republicans over DADT Repeal.
He first brought Fred Karger to my attention in the dead of winter after the 2010 midterms. He infuriates me often, but after having listened to Fred Karger, I'm giving him credit for being straight-- I mean honest-- in touting him.
"He doesn't identify as a Democrat, because, like me, he doesn't agree with them on everything. Also, it's important for moderates to try to stay in the Republican party to keep it from becoming too extreme (which will happen if it is abandoned and handed over to the tea party). He was interviewed last week, and Brad Friedman asked him this very question. His answer is longer than I would care to write, so you can listen to the interview if you want. His interview is about half way through this hour-long talk show: www.bradblog.com/?p=10654
," Trent explained.
"I shall listen to him," I replied.
"However, I must say that hoping to run somebody like Fred as a moderate Republican, does not account for the fact that the TP is, at length, willing to use coercion or outright force of arms to have their way. They're the ones bearing arms in public and pushing for everyone else to carry. I'm a gun-owner and I'm telling you so.
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"So you would like to see moderates stay in the GOP. Well, pard, that just perpetuates the two-party-dominant system, and you have argued, with me, that the parties have common interest in maintaining their power, example the Commission for Presidential Debates.
"Are you actually hoping for a moderation of the Republican PLATFORM on LGBT rights? Do you actually THINK IT WILL BE MADE SO? I am not real confident about it, which is why I would say, if there is to be an openly gay candidate with a snowball's chance to be nominated and elected, he needs to stand on a platform SOME OF WHICH he could and would logically support. Otherwise, somebody like that English interviewer (BBC) who tore him apart in 2012 is just going to take him apart again with the same contradiction."
Later, as I clicked on the Karger video, I dashed off a note to Trent chuckling at the irony of him directing my attention to one of the only actual left-side news networks remaining. And tiny; I suppose the Power has long ago concluded that Pacifica had been successfully and terminally marginalized.
Well, erg, thought I, they are playing the Zionist-convert Chrysler-salesman Bob Dylan to start, but this is Pacifica Radio, and I found myself looking forward to comment on what Mr. Karger has to say.
On The BradCast, fresh off his latest victory against the anti-freedom group calling itself the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). Karger, a Republican discussed the fining of NOM by the state of Maine of more than $50,000 against NOM after finding, based on a complaint filed by Karger, that the group committed egregious campaign violations in their $2 million effort to ban marriage equality in the state 2009.
Friedman said, "We discussed that, his similar victory out in California against NOM and the Mormon Church, the remarkable recent string of court victories in the marriage equality movement, and why the hell Karger is still a Republican."
Brad Friedman sounds a little like my ex-lover Richard. Fred sounds even MORE like him. Not their voices, their approach and what they are approaching.
Fred's legal efforts as he describes them in this video are bulldog investigation, and are exactly what Richard (with my physical security and assistance) did with several cases in which we won.
When I met Richard in 1977, he brought me to an Indian sprayer full of herbicides that had been left on the right-of-way of the soon to be energized 765-kV line from Hudson Bay into New York.
I took the can to a chemistry professor that I happened to know at Brandeis University. He analysed it, and found it to be 2,4,5-trichlorophenoxyacetic acid, the dioxin-carrying, birth-defect-and-cancer-causing herbicide.
The dioxin, Trent, that causes a complex of diseases that are now (due to the efforts of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War in the halls of Congress) compensable veterans' disabilities, is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin. It is an unavoidable byproduct of the process of making polychlorinated hydrocarbon products.
Pentachlorophenol, a wood preservative long available on American shelves, was another such product. Hexachlorophene, the active ingredient in the popular acne scrub of the 1960s, Phisohex, was another. I didn't just have zits, I had frequent bleeding sores.
Richard investigated (we drove 80,000 miles around New York and then New Mexico in 1978-79) the Power Authority's business to the point that the New York Supreme Court issued a restraining order in 1980 against the Authority's further use of polychlorinated herbicides on their right-of-way (which of course crossed a number of people's farms, which was the reason that Richard got into it to begin with, the year before he met me).
The Authority actually got it reversed within weeks, but in 1981 the Federal EPA BANNED the use of all this class of chemical compounds in the US. WE WON that battle, anyway.
I would say Fred Karger is the same kind of wonky bulldog Richard is.
He worked for Nelson Rockefeller, the liberal plutocrat, in the 1960s, so he's been a moderate-liberal Republican his whole political life. Fred is an earnest, NICE man (the Willie Horton scandal was 26 years ago), who really wants to HELP. I am convinced by this interview that he is part of the solution on the main.
He insists, when the inevitable question of "what in the heck are you doing standing over there with those people?" is asked, that he's just trying to give his party a moderate alternative. However, I'm afraid his incrementalism is going to just be eaten by the radical ("extremism at its core," says a North Carolina NAACP leader interviewed on the video) rightwingers.
Karger is a moderate! AND simultaneously a progressive. The two are not mutually exclusive.
And I am sure Brad Friedman is right that Karger is barking at the moon to try to change an "off the rails" GOP. Fred himself admits that his own access to Republican Party functions is getting tougher.
He hasn't gotten to the point of ditching them because he appears to be an incurable optimist, and at his age I cannot accuse him of naivete. He is acting by choice.
This interview shows clearly that Fred believes we must have a healthy TWO-PARTY system to maintain American democracy (whether I think we are maintaining it now is another matter). If he has considered an independent or third-party role, there is no indication of it.
His answer about CU and its effects on campaign spending limits and democracy is I think behind the curve. It seems to show that he was really surprised that when the ruling was made, the parties (and Parties) for whom the rulings were beneficial did not hew to promises that they never made of transparency and disclosure of their machinations, I mean donations.
He really thought, apparently, that Karl Rove and his ilk would be good guys if given what they wanted, and would be political gentlemen! He did not even mention McKutcheon.
THAT might definitely be called naivete, and I am glad that Brad focused on it.
Random other impressions:
He does not understand about unions at all. Or at least he does not think as far into it to understand how we have lost our manufacturing base. Which perhaps was inevitable anyway.
The Republican Party is calling for a constitutional convention. I was particularly struck by the way Fred said "just 'marriage,' " and left Brad to use the term "same-sex marriage."
It sounds as though he has been very busy since 2012, and doing good. Mostly I applaud him. I do not see a dirty trickster Republican in him at this point.
But I also see a fellow who has become too nice a guy, or is just too mistaken about the virulence of his Party, to accomplish anything but rear guard actions like the NOM one. I almost want him to run into a Republican (shouldn't be hard to find one) who really politically brutalizes him for being gay, and slams the door on him.
I hope he will then have the sense to sadly walk away from the GOP he has spent 50 years in and, say, find a district to run for Congress from as a Democrat. He's got some pockets behind him. He's got some political expertise. He could have his campaign ready to hit the road by 2015.
That would be the most logical thing for a man closer to 70 than me to do. If I wasn't undergoing the broken-hearted blues because my Party of 50 years turned its back on me, that is!