Monday, March 06, 2006



Last week after the HUFFINGTON POST picked up a story I had written about why I thought Joe Lieberman is bad for Democrats, bad for Connecticut and bad for our country, they got a letter of complaint from a close Lieberman associate and they asked me to respond to his charges that my accusations were false. I was grateful for the opportunity, and after I had written the piece, Arriana returned from a trip and immediately made sure I got the actual letter. I wasn't surprised to see who it was from: Dan Gerstein, who I remembered as the guy who collaborated with Lieberman on the infamous stab in the back he administered to Clinton at a time when only partisan Republicans were calling for Clinton's impeachment over the Monica Lewinsky brouhaha. (From Lieberman, now Bush's biggest Senate enabler-- at a time when only a third of the country thinks he's doing an acceptable job as president-- we got: "the President apparently had extramarital relations with an employee half his age, and did so in the workplace, in vicinity of the Oval Office. Such behavior is not just inappropriate. It is immoral. And it is harmful, for it sends a message of what is acceptable behavior to the larger American family, particularly to our children, which is as influential as the negative messages communicated by the entertainment culture." I wonder if he and Dan have ever thought about writing a speech pointing out how inappropriate, harmful and immoral his hero George Bush has been to the larger American family since stealing the 2000 election.)

The letter, said Gerstein, was a way of getting in touch
"about Howie Klein's vicious rant against my old boss, Joe Lieberman, that's up on your site now. I am less concerned with Klein's absurb mischaracterizations of Lieberman's position on free speech issues — which I would be happy to debate him on -- than with his slanderous statements about Lieberman being a racist and a
homophobe. Those accusations are not open to debate — they are demonstrably untrue. Lieberman
went to Mississippi to register voters in 1963 and then marched with MLK, hardly the work of a racist.  In addition, he has long been a leading cosponsor of ENDA, and he introduced a
domestic partnership benefits bill for federal employees — hardly the work of a homophobe.  (If necessary I can send you a much longer exposition on Lieberman's record on civil rights.) As such, I would ask you to remove those references from Klein's post or take it down. These kind of wild, unsubstantiated, sleazy attacks have no place on a blog that is trying to promote a serious,
substantive political debate. Indeed, I have great respect for your site precisely because unlike much of the liberal blogosphere, your commentators have refrained from this kind of ugly vituperation and
written on a far higher plane. Please don't let people like Howie Klein drag you down into that gutter.
I would be happy to discuss any of this in more detail if that would be helpful. Otherwise, thanks in advance for your attention to this matter."

Before I get into the specifics of Dan's charges and characterizations, I want to point out that we're not talking about someone who volunteered to hand out flyers at a Lieberman rally in Stamford once. On his own website Dan describes himself as having "served on the senior strategy team for Lieberman’s 2004 presidential campaign"... and "as deputy communications director, where he coordinated the strategic planning process, directed the policy and speechwriting operations and led daily briefings of the candidate." In 2000 he had been Lieberman's "chief national spokesman," where he "managed relations with national and local reporters, assisted in development of communications strategy and rapid response efforts, and wrote statements and select speeches. One of the speeches Gerstein worked with Lieberman on was a widely-praised address on role of religion in public life at the University of Notre Dame." He was also "communications director in Lieberman’s Senate office, where he served as chief message strategist, spokesman and speechwriter, and counseled the Senator on domestic policy matters." His own website goes on to proclaim that "He collaborated with Lieberman on his renowned floor statement chastising President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky matter. He was the chief architect of Lieberman’s high-profile values agenda, helping to craft the Vchip law and initiating an FTC investigation into the marketing of adult-rated entertainment products to children. He was a leading strategist behind the passage of the groundbreaking No Child Left Behind education reform bill."

The one other bit of context, also in Dan's own words, that I'd like to ask you to consider is the recent editorial attack he made in the WALL STREET JOURNAL against Democratic netroots activists claiming that listening to the reviews of the Democrats' performance in the Alito hearings make it easy to come away thinking much of our party "is living in a parallel universe."

One thing I always noticed about people who are naturally predisposed towards the political Right is that they inevitably seem to think that when they are called on their shit they can declare, as if by fiat, that reality is something more malleable than it is. In his letter, Dan attributes "slanderous statements [to me] about Lieberman being a racist and a homophobe. Those accusations are not open to debate." Is that so? Scratch the surface of a right-wing Democrat and you find...

Let's debate them anyway. Now I'm not African-American, so I based my statement-- which NEVER called Dan's old boss a racist, of course (Dan, who prides himself at being a communications expert, made that up to make a point)-- but only pointed out what I have been told by African-American friends, namely that Lieberman "made racism quasi-acceptable by framing it as being against unfair affirmative action." Dan points out that in 1963 Lieberman "marched with Martin Luther King, hardly the work of a racist" (Dan's strawman again). Well today Joe Lieberman marches with George W. Bush. And between his heady student days in the 60's and his taking up residence deep in Bush's anus, he had been marching with William F. Buckley, Rick Santorum, Lynn Cheney and Bill Bennett.

In the article I referred to last week by Dr. Manning Marable there was a paragraph I didn't cite, one that describes "a staged NEW YORK TIMES
photograph of Senator Lieberman standing before the meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus at the recent Democratic National Convention. Standing on either side of Lieberman are Labor Secretary Alexis M. Herman and Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Only hours before, Herman and Waters had engaged in a spirited public disagreement over the selection of Lieberman. In the photo, Herman looks relieved, and Waters appears sad. Perhaps Maxine reflects the grim realization of other black Democrats, who are now forced to campaign for candidates and a party platform they privately oppose. All they are left with is to frighten black voters to the polls with the spectre of a Republican victory. They don’t realize the obvious: the Republicans have already won. By accepting Lieberman onto the ticket, as NATION writer David Corn states, Gore 'has accepted—or surrendered to—the Bush terms of battle.' Bush, Cheney, Gore and Lieberman, in the end, only reflect variations of the same bankrupt political philosophy." I'm sure Dr. Marable would be consigned to Dan's parallel universe as well.

Now, I am more qualified to speak about Lieberman as a homophobe because, although I'm not an African-American, I am a gay American. And although Lieberman's condescending statement to the NEW HAVEN ADVOCATE that "some of my best friends are gays and lesbians," just goes to show how out-of-touch and patently dishonest he is, in my case it is completely true (although some of my best friends are straight too). Me and my gay friends remember-- viscerally remember-- the emotions that Lieberman stirred up by labeling us as some kind of a dysfunction that society had to be protected from. If not for George H.W. Bush's veto, Lieberman's viciously homophobic (and youthophobic and free-speech-o-phobic Media Marketing Accountability Act, which I'm gathering from his website might actually have been Dan's idea, would be another law singling out gay people for special treatment-- i.e., that they can't be mentioned in songs, at least not in songs that songwriters want sold in the vast majority of retail accounts. And special treatment is something Lieberman feels is needed for gay Americans, something I could understand-- though still abhor-- from a senator from Utah or Alabama, but not from an enlightened, progressive state like Connecticut. In 1996 Joe "Some of My Best Friends Are" Lieberman voted for the putrid Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). We know Lieberman is not a real friend of gay men and women. When a guy like Paul Hackett-- in a DEEP RED Ohio backwater says "Gay marriage -- who the hell cares? If you're gay you're gay -- more power to you. What you want is to be treated fairly by the law and any American who doesn't think that should be the case is, frankly, un-American," we know we have a real friend we can trust. Lieberman is, at best, equivocal.

New York's GAY CITY NEWS pointed out how even Cheney sounded like a stauncher defender of gay as he stood next to Lieberman in their Vice-Presidential debate: "...when questioned about government sanction of same-sex couples in the 2000 Vice Presidential debate, [Lieberman] gave a weaker answer than Dick Cheney, father of out lesbian Mary Cheney. The Republican said, 'I think we ought to do everything we can to tolerate and accommodate whatever kind of relationships people want to enter into,' incurring the wrath of the religious right. (His administration, of course, has done nothing to advance same-sex partner rights.) Lieberman in that same debate said his mind 'is open to taking some action that will address these elements of unfairness while respecting the traditional religious and civil institution of marriage.' In a BOSTON GLOBE survey last week, Lieberman stopped short of endorsing even civil unions."

He still opposes the right of gay men and women to marry. God only knows what all his best friends think!

This morning I woke up and put on CNN and one of their feeble-minded, empty talking heads was on a viciously homophobic rant-- homophobic to the ear of a gay person, but perhaps not to a non-gay person. He was talking about the Oscars. Without ever saying he hated or feared or disliked gay people, he made it crystal clear that he did by the utter contempt and sneering disdain which he used in talking about-- and refusing to discuss-- BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and TRANSAMERICA. Lieberman is skilled at sending messages; he's an expert at talking out of the both sides of his mouth-- communicating different messages to different audiences, pandering here, attacking there, but always creating an image for himself as part of some kind of god-squad empowered by their election to set the morals and values for the country. Phooey! Joe Lieberman may have been cool when he was 20 marching in Mississippi. He has amassed quite a record since then, a record that will help catapult Ned Lamont into the U.S. Senate and give Lieberman an opportunity to clean-up on the rubber chicken circuit with like-minded, atavistic and delusional reactionaries like Zell Miller and Bill Bennett.

And since Dan Gerstein has been wholly unsuccessful in his attempts to get me silenced and censored, I will still be quite happy to debate him. May I suggest that we ask for the opening act slot at the Ministry concert in D.C.? And if you, like me, no longer want to see Dan's old boss on the morning talk shows piously intoning Republican claptrap to demonize his Democratic colleagues and their positions, please consider visiting the DWT ACT BLUE Page for Ned Lamont, who will face off against Lieberman in the August 8th Democratic primary in Connecticut and can use all the $10 and $20 contributions he can muster against the donations of the big money interests whose favorite senator is being challenged.


At 12:51 PM, Blogger Dr. Tex Nology said...

I love being able to see the sun shine on that “Anonymous” rat.

I think the measure of a person, especially a person that represents others, is not just what they say, it’s also the image they convey.

I don’t think anyone can deny that Lieberman has created, as you put it,
“an image for himself as part of some kind of god-squad empowered by (his) election to set the morals and values for the country.”

If Lieberman and his lackey Dan Berstein are so concerned with the “negative messages” that Clinton and the “entertainment culture” communicate, why don’t they stop for a moment and consider the consequences of their own “moralizing messages” for what is acceptable behavior. Even if the loss of our freedoms and 1st Amendment rights don’t have a direct link to Lieberman, the image he conveys can have serious consequences. It’s not always about what the politicians do directly, it’s about how the tone they set makes people feel enabled and encouraged to do things on their own.

Once again, this moralizing assault by Lieberman on the music business hits home for me. I was an artist on Howie’s 415 Label in 1980 and then moved on to EPIC/CBS in ‘83 and ‘84.

That was the time period when:
(Several of these are quoted from “Parental Advisory, Music Censorship in America”)

Fearing association with its theme, Mercury Records refuses to release Frank Zappa’s single “I Don’t Wanna Get Drafted.”

Youth Minister Art Diaz organizes a group of local teenagers who conduct a record burning at the First Assembly Church of God in Des Moines, Iowa, including albums by the Beatles, Ravi Shankar, Peter Frampton, and the soundtrack to the movie Grease. A similar burning takes place a few months later in Keoku, Iowa, where a church group burns the work of The Carpenters, John Denver, and Perry Como.

Two parents complained about a Prince album at a PTA meeting in Cincinnati, Ohio. An action that started the mid-80s music censorship movement.

Critics called for boycotts of Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the U.S.A.

The Institute of Living, in Hartford, Connecticut, told it’s staff to remove MTV from the mental hospital’s television system, because as they said, MTV “induces a temporary state of insanity” over patients and could potentially cause hallucinations.

Walmart discontinued sales of all major rock magazines such as Rolling Stone, Hard Rock, Spin, and Tiger Beat following attacks from a conservative group lead by the Reverend Jimmy Swaggart.

Televangelist and presidential candidate Pat Robertson calls for content regulation of rock music on radio and television.

The PMRC writes to music industry presidents and CEOs and requests a rating system for music lyrics and imagery. The letter contains a list of the "filthy fifteen".
One of those "filthy fifteen" was Cyndi Lauper! who happened to be on the same label I was on at the time.

Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, with whom my band had played a few gigs with back in the early days, is charged with violating section 313.1 ("Distribution of Harmful Materials to Minors") of the California state penal code for a poster included in the band's Frankenchrist LP. The offending poster contains a painting by noted Swiss artist H.R. Giger (best known for his Academy Award winning art design work for the 1980 film Alien).

Now, what I’m getting at is this, Lieberman may not be directly responsible for this kind of moral hysteria, but it sure seems like he advocates an environment in which this kind of repression can flourish!

At 3:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lieberman has a pretty hairy voting record that is hard to defend. He also voted for mandatory discharge of HIV positive folks in the military.104 S. 1124 Sec. 567.
Then there are the school vouchers and the multitude of "faith-based" initiatives. I think one was for drug addicted teenagers that turned into a fiasco and a nightmare. Apparently some of the sanctioned faith-based drug treatment places were cultish abusive scams. In fact "faith-based" in general is a hairy proposition when it involves Republicans. Its more money making scams.

At 3:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whenever Congress considers these so-called media censorship, "save the family issues," they bring real freaks out of the closet to testify. For some dubious reading pleasure, the curious can look at testimony via THOMAS on GPO Access (Gov. printing office) or the famous Lexis Nexis.

At 3:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now, what I’m getting at is this, Lieberman may not be directly responsible for this kind of moral hysteria, but it sure seems like he advocates an environment in which this kind of repression can flourish!

Oh, he's pretty thick with the repressive type evangelicals all right.

At 7:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And don't forget Lieberman's collaboration with Lynne Cheney against dissenting Professors, via the Nation:
Open letter to Dr. Lynne Cheney & Senator Joseph Lieberman

At 7:49 PM, Anonymous M said...

Calling all Lamont fans . . .
by: Kim Hynes
March 07, 2006 at 20:21:15 EST
We received a letter from DFA today, thanking us for our endorsement application, and urging supporters to contact DFA and recommend Ned. I have copied the letter below. I am quite sure you all know what to do!
Dear Candidate,

Thank you for applying for Democracy for America's DFA-List endorsement. DFA supports socially progressive, fiscally responsible candidates for all levels of office. We believe that the way to take our country back is from the bottom up, not the top down.

During this election cycle, Democracy for America will be weighing grassroots support as the most important factor in making our endorsements. We encourage you to contact your local DFA-Link or state coalition group before seeking DFA's support. DFA-Link information can be found at and state coalition information can be found at

You can also show your netroots backing by encouraging supporters to recommend your campaign at

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's a Lieberman quote:
(The entertainment industry & talk shows are) degrading our culture and ultimately threating our children's future through sexual deviancy and hyperemotional confrontations. The reality is that these shows are at the front lines of distorting our perceptions of what's normal and acceptable. The tendency of our country to define deviancy down Maybe someone should ask Gerstein what Lieberman means by "sexual deviancy." Or better yet, maybe someone should ask Lieberman's best Empower America buddy, William Bennett what Lieberman means by sexual deviancy.

At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If necessary I can send you a much longer exposition on Lieberman's record on civil rights
Please do, Gerstein! I will have your rebuttal ready for you by the time you do your scrub job.
By the way, school vouchers=antiaffirmative action plus old Southern segregationist cracker trick.
Oh and Gerstein, how is the pharmaceutical industry these days? You and Joe must have received some sort of award for contributing to the rising cost of healthcare by cosponsering bills that extend patents etc.

At 8:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch smarmy Joseph lieberman go! Recent interview on Connecticut Local Politics blogspot.


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