An article in Rolling Stone says it’s not Republicans who do Democrats in – it’s Democratic consultants. The piece raises important questions. I hope all our candidates – especially whichever one gets the nomination – read it.

One of the charges is that 10% of donor money goes to consultant commissions. So as you can imagine, I have heard from more than one DNC donor since the article appeared.

But actually, at the DNC, the concern was raised in time for 2004 and your money was not wasted – and won’t be this cycle, either. THE COMMISSION ON DNC MEDIA BUYS WAS ONE PERCENT, NOT TEN PERCENT.

This, from page 340 of Terry McAuliffe’s What a Party:

I knew we were going to spend $135 million on media in the next six months and there was no way in hell I was going to let a media consultant skim off 10 percent of that and pocket $13.5 million to go buy a villa in Italy. . . .

As we prepared for the 2004 election, I hired Leslie Kerman, a Virginia attorney who had been representing campaigns on finance matters. Leslie . . . promised me she could hold the fee to 1 percent, which would clearly be historic. Leslie, who was working for free, thus became our biggest fund-raiser. . . . [S]ure enough, seven top firms ended up competing for our business and agreed to the 1 percent contract. The gravy train was over for the Democratic political consultants.

Howard Dean is even tighter with a buck than Terry McAuliffe. Flies cheapest coach, walked two miles from the Sayville train station to the ferry to save cab fare – carrying his overnight bag. (Well, he said later, he was early, and it was a nice day – and it was a little further than he thought.)

So please forward the Rolling Stone piece to the candidate of your choice. But please do not think any appreciable portion of your support of the DNC is going to consultant commissions.


Alexandra Neville: ‘I am glad you posted on the Equality Ride! I am a student and University Democrats president at Baylor University, and we have experienced firsthand the bigotry and also progress that comes from having an organization like Soulforce visit the campus. If you’d like, here is a blog that my vice president, Justin Mueller, and I wrote about the experience:

On Tuesday, six gay-rights advocates were arrested on the campus of Baylor University. Five of those individuals were members of Soulforce, a group of Christian homosexuals and heterosexual allies traveling on their Equality Ride tour to conservative religious universities across the United States.

Soulforce had initially requested an open dialogue on the Baylor campus about human sexuality, and the relationship between Christianity and homosexuality. This request was denied, and the Soulforce members were informed that they were not welcome to speak at our private university campus and could not hand out literature or buttons.

Addressing the student body, Dr. Dub Oliver, Vice President for Student Life, informed us that, as per the will of God, we were not to participate with advocacy groups ‘which promote understandings of sexuality that are contrary to biblical teaching.’ Specifically mentioned was premarital sex of any orientation, and homosexuality. Many students who advocate gay rights had heard about Soulforce’s upcoming visit through resources such as Facebook, but their presence was made known campus-wide via the forewarning email.

So, Baylor informed Soulforce that they could not come to campus unless invited by students. The administration then proceeded to inform students that they are not allowed to associate with such people.

As Soulforce spent time on campus, conversing with students and handing out buttons and literature on what the Bible does and does not say about homosexuality, they were being unknowingly followed and videotaped by plainclothes policemen.

The group met with students on and around campus during the day to talk about students’ experiences on being LGBT at Baylor and the bigotry they may have faced as a consequence. At a rally off campus, students expressed their desire to unite and reminisced about Baylor Freedom, a group of students that used to chalk gay-pride messages on campus. Soulforce decided that in honor of Baylor Freedom, they would march to the front of our chapel and chalk Bible verses and other messages.

When they began to chalk Baylor sidewalks with messages like ‘God loves you,’ ‘Our God is a God of peace, love, and understanding,’ and other statements of love and hope, the students were confronted by the plainclothes police officers. After refusing to stop chalking, which is the most common medium of event and group communication at Baylor, the five Soulforce members, as well as one Baylor student, were arrested for criminal trespassing. They were carried off singing ‘We Shall Overcome.’

According to Baylor Police Chief Jim Doak, they asked for this by their actions. Apparently arrest, a night in county jail, and $2,000 in bail per Soulforce member (only $1,000 for the one Baylor student who somehow managed to defy definition and trespass at the university he attends) is now the punishment for nonviolent well-wishing and declarations of equality.

Soulforce offered to pay the bail of our Baylor student, who returned to campus after being released. The climate here has been both positive and negative, with many students praising the group’s efforts and coming forward with interest to form a campus-wide gay-straight alliance. On the other hand, many have praised the actions of the police and applaud Baylor for upholding their Christian conservative standards.

‘I am glad they were arrested. I am so proud to be a Baylor Bear right now,’ I overheard one student say while talking about what had happened. I was disgusted to know that there are people who are proud of the campus’s actions.

We are working hard to spur progress on LBGT rights on campus and looking to get changes made to Baylor policies. We’ll start asking the question, what is Baylor University doing to support its LGBT students? And hopefully we will get an answer soon. With so much fear being instilled and the constant threat of being silenced, it is easy to feel intimidated. Hopefully someday the Baylor administration will find in their hearts the capacity to love and welcome everyone.

☞ It’s only a matter of time.


So if there were ever an easy way to define the difference between a movie and a film, it is in the contrast between the idiotic (but fun) ‘Blades of Glory,’ which Charles and I saw last Saturday in Jersey City (‘Don’t tell them I was in Jersey City!’ Charles moaned when I mentioned I might write about this) (it’s a long story, but for the record, Charles was with me in Jersey City only under protest) and the subtitled (but wonderful) ‘The Lives of Others,’ about the East German secret police, which we saw Sunday (safely back in Manhattan).

For the record, Jersey City has lots to recommend it. Don’t miss the pepper chicken at the Panda Express in the food court of the Newport mall.

And for the record, even someone as middle-brow as your faithful correspondent loved ‘The Lives of Others’ – one of the best films he’s seen in a long time.


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