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The Nation

Barney Frank: Clinton "Best Equipped" to Advance Gay Rights

Both openly-gay members of Congress have now endorsed Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination.

The New York senator secured the support of Tammy Baldwin, the Wisconsin congresswoman who is the only out lesbian in the House, months ago. And this week Clinton gained the enthusiastic endorsement of House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, the only out gay man currently serving in the chamber.

Frank specifically hailed Clinton's support for gay and lesbian rights in announcing his decision to back the woman who current leads in national polling on the Democratic race and who is the front-runner in most early caucus and primary states.

The Massachusetts Democrat said that he is "convinced that Hillary Clinton is the candidate best equipped to pass laws that will treat all Americans with dignity, fairness and equality no matter who they are or who they love."

That comment came as part of a particularly warm embrace of Clinton by Frank, who has traditionally been one of the party's most determined and effective campaigners among liberals in Massachusetts and other states.

"I have from the beginning of this campaign believed that Hillary Clinton was the candidate best qualified to serve as president," the congressman explained. "I am convinced that once elected, the qualities she will bring to the job -- commitment, intellect and political skills -- will make her an extremely effective leader in our effort to reverse the badly flawed course on which George Bush and past Republican Congresses have set this country."

Frank's sister, veteran Democratic party leader Ann Lewis, is a senior adviser to the Clinton campaign. He has been a longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

When Baldwin endorsed Clinton last summer, she cited her longstanding friendship with the senator as well as a shared commitment to health care reform. In addition, the Wisconsinite described Clinton as "strong and vocal" in her support of ending employment discrimination against gays and lesbians.

Baldwin acknowledged at the time, however, that she and Clinton do not see eye to eye on the issue of same-sex marriage. The New York senator supports domestic partnership initiatives and civil unions, but has opposed moves that allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.

"It's not my position," Baldwin said of Clinton's stance. "I support full marriage equality. We will voice encouragement for (Clinton) to be open to changing her opinion."

Clinton's chief rivals for the Democratic nomination, Illinois Senator Barack Obama and former North Carolina Senator John Edwards, share the front-runners opposition to same-sex marriage.

In contrast, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich, a longtime colleague of Frank and Baldwin in the House who is also seeking the Democratic presidential nod, has been an outspoken backer of marriage equality for many years. Says Kucinich, "This is really a question of whether you really believe in equality. When you understand what real equality is, you understand that people who love each other must have the opportunity to be able to express that in a way that's meaningful."

Right-to-Lifers Endorse Thompson -- Cynically

The most cynical group currently operating on the American political stage, the National Right to Life Committee has endorsed the most cynical man to seek the presidency in recent memory, Fred Thompson, for the Republican nomination.

It is a perfect match, although not one that can be said to have been "made in Heaven." After all, what brings the National Right to Life Committee and Fred Thompson together is the fact that both the interest group and the candidate have sold their souls to the highest bidder.

National Right to Life gave its blessing to Thompson despite the fact that he has been open during the course of the current campaign about the fact that he does not support what has historically been the highest stated priority of the organization: enactment of a constitutional amendment to ban abortion.

Thompson's an advocate for leaving the issue to the states, which would create a patchwork quilt model where some parts of the country would respect the right of women to make decisions regarding their own bodies while others would not. That's a dramatically more liberal stance than had been traditionally tolerated by anti-abortion activists, and that is supported by a number of Thompson's fellow contenders for the 2008 Republican nod.

This begs the question: Why Thompson?

It is true that the National Right to Life Committee was not going to endorse former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who historically has been every bit as pro-choice as Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. It is equally true that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, while he may now oppose abortion, used to be an even more articulate advocate for the pro-choice position than Giuliani or Clinton. And is surely true that, while Arizona Senator John McCain may have a 100-percent record of opposing abortion, has had his fights with the group over campaign-finance issues and electoral tactics.

But why didn't National Right to Life endorse former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, a rising star in the Republican race who has been a consistent social conservative and who is actually running stronger than Thompson in a number of early primary and caucus states? After all, while Thompson rejects the constitutional amendment, Huckabee declares at the top of his campaign website: "I support and have always supported passage of a constitutional amendment to protect the right to life. My convictions regarding the sanctity of life have always been clear and consistent, without equivocation or wavering. I believe that Roe v. Wade should be over-turned."

There is an answer, but it has nothing to do with the abortion debate.

The National Right to Life Committee is no longer best known in Washington as a social-issue group. Rather, the committee is best known as an organization that is in the forefront of opposing campaign finance reform and other moves that might limit the its ability and the ability of organizations like it to use corporate special-interest money for political purposes -- and, of course, to maintain lavish offices in the tonier sections of Washington.

With aggressive lobbying on Capitol Hill, lawsuits at the federal and state levels and grassroots organizing around the country to oppose campaign finance reforms, the National Right to Life Committee has made itself the primary defender of corporate influence in politics.

As such, Mike Huckabee was unacceptable as a contender for the National Right to Life Committee endorsement.

Huckabee is a social conservative, but he's an economic populist. A relatively honest player who is sincere in his beliefs, the former governor of Arkansas argues that it is impossible to talk about "family values" without addressing the threat to American families posed by economic and trade policies that leave working people entirely at the mercy of multinational corporations.

While he's no Ralph Nader, Huckabee's arguments on behalf of corporate responsibility have earned him some surprising support. For instance, the Machinists union has endorsed his candidacy for the Republican nomination.

But it has also earned Huckabee some powerful enemies. The corporation-linked Club for Growth has been attacking the one Republican candidate who might reasonably be described as Reaganesque.

In contrast, Fred Thompson is taking no hits from business-linked interests.

While Thompson may have had lobbying ties to Planned Parenthood, which advocates for abortion rights and in some regions actually provides access to the procedure, the former senator from Tennessee is a 100 percenter when it comes to serving the interests of major corporations. And that's what concerns National Right to Life these days. The group is part of a Washington-based alliance to advance corporate interests by using social-issue appeals to convince working-class voters to oppose their economic interests.

Thus, Fred Thompson got the National Right to Life endorsement instead of the more consistently socially-conservative Mike Huckabee because Thompson is the more consistently pro-corporate candidate.

Jonathan Demme on The Other Politician He'd Like to Film

Last month, the Washington Post ran an interview with Oscar winning Director Jonathan Demme. The subject: His documentary, "Jimmy Carter Man from Plains." The Nation has long believed that Carter is the best ex-President this nation has had in the 20th century. If you're sane, why wouldn't you value and celebrate people who redeeem themselves with moral *and common sense* acts and ideas after they leave official power.

So, when Demme--who had the wise and good taste to spend some tough time on the road with "an ex-president {who} moves so much faster than" the rock and rollers he worked with (think Talking Heads in "Stop Making Sense" and Neil Young in "Heart of Gold") --was asked if there were any other politicians he'd think would make a good documentary subject, who knew he'd give the name of one of my all-time favorite politicians? Maurice Hinchey!

Hinchey is one of the congresspeople you may never have heard of. (He representsNew York's 22nd CD, which spans eight counties including the Hudson Valley.) He's why I still have faith in the institution of Congress and the Democratic Party to do some good/ (usually if pushed and challenged..) As Demme put it, Hinchey is "this incredibly decent, well-informed, energetic American elected official. He's a plain talker. We search vainly for anybody who speaks plainly in the Democratic Party."

Hinchey is just that --a plain and straight talker. He is also one of the few in the party who make up what the late, great Senator Paul Wellstone (and, later, Governor Howard Dean) used to describe as "the democratic wing of the Democratic Party." We need to retrieve and work with such people because, in the absence of radical reforms (which I also support) we need to work with the world as it is, with determined idealism and grounded realism, and Hinchey and his colleagues' work (check out the Progressive Caucus, the largest and certainly the most inspiring caucus in this House) will determine whether we end this disastrous war, avert a catastoprophic strike on Iran, connect with the daily struggle of working people in this country and find a real 21st century remedy for the environmental crisis confronting us.

It takes a Jonathan Demme to see in a Maurice Hinchey-- 68 -year old Navy veteran, and a passionate progressive who speaks fearlessly in defense of the constitution and a free and independent media-- a boon to a wise filmmaker in search of a narrative.

Muted Victory for Ehren Watada

This country sets aside two days to honor military service. On Veterans Day we celebrate the living; on Memorial Day we remember the dead.

I'd like to propose a third national holiday: Active Duty day. A day to celebrate those who refuse to leave their conscience at home. A day to cherish those who elevate this nation's morals by refusing to participate in illegal acts.

Leading this year's Active Conscience-on-Duty Day parade should be First Lt. Ehren Watada, the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq.

"To me," Watada told a court earlier this year, leading soldiers into battle in Iraq "means to participate in a war that I believe to be illegal."

Last Thursday a civilian judge handed Watada a victory against those in the military who would like to see him silenced, convicted and locked up.

In June 2006, Watada gained international attention when he publicly denounced the Iraq war as an illegal occupation and then refused to deploy with his Fort Lewis Stryker Brigade.

This February, his court-martial ended in a mistrial, after which his attorneys claimed that Fifth Amendment constitutional protections protected him from a second round in court.

On November 8, Judge Benjamin Settle agreed: "The same Fifth Amendment protections are in place for military service members as are afforded to civilians ... . To hold otherwise would ignore the many sacrifices that American soldiers have made throughout history to protect these sacred rights," he wrote.

In issuing a preliminary injunction, the Judge concluded that "it is likely" that Watada will succeed in his claims that a second court-martial would violate constitutional protections against being tried twice for the same crimes.

But Army officials aren't giving up. In a statement, they said they will file briefs in U.S. District Court to try to prevent the injunction from becoming permanent.

Now is the time for all moral men and women in uniform to stand up -- not just behind Lt. Watada, but at his side. So far, not one other officer has followed in the lieutenant's footsteps.

According to the Army more than 10,000 soldiers have deserted since the Iraq invasion started. Every year, the number of deserters has gone up. Official statistics say 3,196 went AWOL last year, compared to 2,543 the year before. Based on the calls they received, groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War put the real numbers at ten times that.

Desert if you must, but better yet, come out. Activate your Conscience on Duty and I bet I won't be the only one to hoot and holler and organize a parade.

For more on Lt.Watada's case go to Thank you Lt. Ehren Watada.

11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month

On the 11th hour of the 11th Day of the 11th month, the guns of World War I fell silent. And a war that should never have been fought – arguably by anyone, certainly by Americans – was done.

Americans who know their history celebrate Veterans Day not to honor war, but to recognize the soldiers who died and the soldiers who survived the wars of the past – and, hopefully, to ponder the futility of abandoning George Washington's advice to avoid the entangling alliances of distant continents and the mortal combats of the kings and conquerers who intrigues Americans rejected when the United States revolted against monarchy, colonialism and the madness of empire.

It is in that latter pondering that Americans would do well to recognize the courage of those who opposed the madness that was World War I, a courage born of a concern for America's troops that was not evidenced by their commander-in-chief.

Wisconsin Senator Robert M. La Follette, the great midwestern progressive leader of the first quarter of the American century, risked his political career to oppose World War I and to defend the free-speech rights of those who joined him in opposition.

La Follette rejected the arguments of President Woodrow Wilson as empty excuses for plunging the sons of Wisconsin farmers and factory worker in a European war where they had no place and no cause.

Wilson, a petty Anglophile of the worst sort, told the American people that entering the Europe's war on the side of the British king was some kind of fight for democracy. But La Follette challenged that fantasy by noting that there was scant democracy in the British colonies of Ireland, Egypt and India. Detailing the cruelties and bigotries of British colonialism, he condemned Wilson for seeking to "inflame the mind of our people into the frenzy of war."

Unfortunately, the frenzy of war won out. La Follette was one of just six senators to oppose the declaration of war that would send 166,516 Americans to their deaths and leave 204002 severely wounded. In the House, 50 members who opposed the declaration, including its sole woman member, Montana Republican Jeannette Rankin, who famously declared, "I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war. I vote no."

For their opposition, La Follette, Rankin and their allies were branded traitors.

But La Follette knew the people were with him. He often recalled that, of all the letters he received during 19 years as a senator, more than a third came during the relatively short course of the war and they ran 60-1 in his favor. Four years after the war was done, Wisconsinites reelected La Follette to the Senate by a record margin.

Six years after the war's finish, 4.8 million Americans cast ballots for the ticket of La Follette and his fellow critic of the World War I war profiteers, Montana Senator Burton K. Wheeler, in the 1924 presidential race.

Along with the votes of his fellow Americans – which meant the most to the great democrat – La Follette would receive vindication from history.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who celebrated La Follette's opposition to World War I as a profile in courage, would tell historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. that Wilson's scheming to pull the United States into World War I merited placing Wilson low on any list of American president.

Surely, George W. Bush will rank lower.

A president has no greater responsibility than that of assuring that the men and women of the U.s. military are called to duty only when absolutely necessary. Wilson failed in that duty 90 years ago, just as Bush fails today. That is the painful truth of this Veteran's Day. But it is a truth that must never obscure our regard for the soldiers who serve and suffer in this country's name.

So, on this anniversary of that distant 11th day of that distant 11th month, let us honor all the dead of all America's wars. Let us honor the living by bringing the soldiers who are mired in the quagmire that is Iraq home from a Middle Eastern civil war in which they have no place and no cause. And let us honor those anti-war Americans who today display the courage, the wisdom and the sincere concern for the troops and the country they serve that was so well evidenced Robert M. La Follette nine decades ago.

Norman Mailer--The Good Father

My mother and Norman Mailer were longtime friends. So it made sense that Betsy Mailer and I were roommates in our first year of college. On the big moving day, out of NYC to Princeton, Norman and Norris (Betsy's stepmother) and my mother Jean rented a car, packed us up and drove us the hour or so down the Jersey turnpike. It was an uneventful trip, though I think we all groaned and held our noses driving through the chemical smells of Elizabeth, NJ.

When we got to the campus, I'll never forget Norman Mailer-- great American writer, world class rabble rouser, pugilistic pensman--helping move stuff into our dorm room and chatting with parents who'd come from around the country for the big day. I remember thinking that most didn't seem to have a clue who he was. And Norman didn't seem to mind.

My mother, who wasn't chatting it up with the other parents, was wearing the biggest sunglasses I'd ever seen. And she kept sniffling and tearing up about my leaving home. Norman didn't have much patience with her...barking, at some point, "Jean, the kids have to get out of the house!" It was a loving bark. I didn't quite get it then, though I realized soon after that Norman was depositing his second child-- of eight of his brood/ kids at college. My mother stopped sniffling. Eventually, after we all had a meal in town, the parents took off back down the turnpike.

Betsy and I enjoyed the craziness of first year at college--without parents. I don't think Norman and Norris ever came back to Princeton, except for graduation, though I may be wrong. I know my mother never made it back down, except for another round of sunglasses and tears at graduation five years later (I didn't get out of there in 4 years-- deciding, instead, to take a year off to intern at The Nation.)

Many will celebrate the work of Norman Mailer--as it should and must be. But I keep thinking of Mailer, the Good Father, moving books and stuff into his daughter's dorm room on her first day of college in Fall 1977.

Norman Mailer: He Went Down Swinging

There is much, much to be said of Norman Mailer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and world-class rabble-rouser who died Saturday at age 84.

But the pugilistic pensman would perhaps be most pleased to have it known that he went down swinging. The chronicler of our politics and protests in the 1960s with two of the era's definitional books--1968's Armies of the Night and Miami and the Siege of Chicago, did not rest on the laurels--and they were legion--earned for exposing the dark undersides of the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

He went after George Bush with a fury, and a precision, that was born of his faith that all politicians--including 1969 New York City mayoral candidate Norman Mailer - had to be viewed skeptically. And, when found to be lacking, had to be dealt with using all tools available to a writer who had pocketed two Pulitzers, a National Book Award, a George Polk Award, a Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation and a global prominence rarely accorded the pushers of pens.

Mailer did not hesitate to suggest that Bush and his compatriots were setting up "a pre-fascistic atmosphere in America" and he saw the war in Iraq as an imperialistic endeavor destined--as all such attempts are--to diminish democracy at home.

"Iraq is the excuse for moving in an imperial direction," Mailer wrote on the eve of the conflict. "War with Iraq, as they originally conceived it, would be a quick, dramatic step that would enable them to control the Near East as a powerful base -- not least because of the oil there, as well as the water supplies from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers--to build a world empire."

Mailer recognized in the president's schoolboy militarism the most dangerous of instincts. So it was that, when Bush made his 2003 appearance in flight-suit drag before a sign declaring "Mission Accomplished" as part of the first--though certainly not the last--celebration of the fantasy of "victory" in Iraq, Mailer responded with a critique that remains the most damning assessment of a president who has known more than his share of damnation.

"Democracy, more than any other political system, depends on a modicum of honesty. Ultimately, it is much at the mercy of a leader who has never been embarrassed by himself," Mailer, who as a young Harvard graduate had served in the South Pacific during World War II, wrote of Bush at the close of a brilliant piece for The New York Review of Books. "What is to be said of a man who spent two years in the Air Force of the National Guard (as a way of not having to go to Vietnam) and proceeded--like many another spoiled and wealthy father's son--not to bother to show up for duty in his second year of service? Most of us have episodes in our youth that can cause us shame on reflection. It is a mark of maturation that we do not try to profit from our early lacks and vices but do our best to learn from them. Bush proceeded, however, to turn his declaration of the Iraqi campaign's end into a mighty fashion show. He chose--this overnight clone of Honest Abe--to arrive on the deck of the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln on an S-3B Viking jet that came in with a dramatic tail-hook landing. The carrier was easily within helicopter range of San Diego but G.W. would not have been able to show himself in flight regalia, and so would not have been able to demonstrate how well he wore the uniform he had not honored. Jack Kennedy, a war hero, was always in civvies while he was commander in chief. So was General Eisenhower. George W. Bush, who might, if he had been entirely on his own, have made a world-class male model (since he never takes an awkward photograph), proceeded to tote the flight helmet and sport the flight suit. There he was for the photo-op looking like one more great guy among the great guys. Let us hope that our democracy will survive these nonstop foulings of the nest."

Mailer would continue protesting the foulings of the nest, on the streets of New York during the 2004 Republican National Coronation and with a pugilistic pen that pummeled the empire builders and their lesser stooges--asking pointedly in final years that paralleled Bush's "Patriot Acts" and an endless "war on terror": "What does it profit us if we gain extreme security and lose our democracy?"--until it was finally laid to rest on Saturday.

What's Next For 'ENDA With No Gender'?

Congressional democrats, civil rights groups and now the New York Times frame The Employment Non-Discrimination Act as an example of the politics of the possible. But an almost-definite Presidential veto makes it look like a convoluted example.

An ENDA bill to protect employees from sexual orientation discrimination passed the House Wednesday, after Tammy Baldwin's amendment to include protections for transgendered employees was debated but not voted on.

Expect the Senate to also keep transgendered people in the rhetoric but not the legislation. A press release yesterday by Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy pointed out that, "Today it's perfectly legal in most states to fire an employee because of sexual orientation or gender identity." Kennedy declared that, "America stands for justice for all" and "Congress must make clear that when we say 'all' we mean all."

The Senator's solution? To "extend the protection of Title VII [of the 1964 Civil Rights Act] to those who are victimized because of their sexual orientation."

His strategy follows fellow Massachusetts liberal Barney Frank. A longtime champion of GLBT rights, Frank originally wrote House legislation that included transgendered people but took that provision out when Labor Committee Chairman George Miller told him freshmen Democrats from districts that voted for Bush would never support it. "I wish we had the votes to ban all discrimination," Frank said on the House floor Wednesday. "But I will not act on my wishes irresponsibly."

But the committee's compromise has not made Republicans any less aghast. Of course, they can't quite come out and say it's okay to fire someone because they're gay. Which, as Frank noted, is progress in its own way.

"I first filed a bill 35 years ago to say that you couldn't fire someone because he was gay or she was a lesbian, and at the time people were very straightforward in their opposition," Frank recounted to members of the House. "Times have changed: It is no longer fashionable to say that you ought to be able to discriminate against someone based on his or her sexual orientation, so now we get other arguments."

Indeed, Republicans acted like Congress was on the verge of passing the "Mandatory Gay Marriage and Frivolous Lawsuit Act of 2007." Pennsylvania's Joseph Pitts warned in House debate that ENDA is a devious "component in a larger strategy," a "building block to overturn traditional marriage law." And when not implying that ending workplace discrimination for gay and lesbian employees will wreak havoc on heterosexual marriages everywhere, Republicans reverted to hoary whining about "burdensome litigation."

"This is frankly a trail lawyers dream," moaned Buck McKeon of California, warning bill implementation will be a nightmare for the rest of us.

President Bush, who has benefited from GOP voter mobilization efforts around state amendments to ban gay marriage, is not surprisingly on the same page. A White House statement gives the legally dubious argument that ENDA would statutorily recognize state sanctioned same-sex marriages and thereby conflict with the Federal Defense of Marriage Act.

So with those obstacles in mind, New York Democrat Jarrod Nadler argued on the House floor that now was the time to make a "principled stand" and include transgendered people while waiting for a Democratic President to make a bill law.

Protections for transgendered employees is hardly a symbolic issue. A letter to Congress signed by the NAACP, several unions and the Human Rights Campaign, a leading GLBT advocacy group, asserted it was "beyond dispute" that transgendered employees "face far more pervasive and severe bias in the workplace and society as a whole."

But after first opposing "ENDA without gender" those groups now support it. Human Rights Campaign reasons that House passage was historic and that if a bill including transgendered people had been defeated it would have been harder to pass the next time.

It sounds like a politcally sensible strategy from politically sensible progressives. The problem is that its one thing to tell GLBT advocates to compromise and quite another to to tell the Republican Party.

Karl Rove Slams Bloggers

Karl Rove ripped into liberal bloggers at a web politics conference this week, assailing the "angry kooks" on the "nutty fringe of political life" who have seized "inexpensive and easily accessible" platforms to upend public debate. Ever the strategist, Rove also emphasized that he is a "fan of many blogs." So how does he know which ones are good? Apparently blogs affiliated with the liberal netroots are the problem:

My point is not that liberals swear publicly more often than conservatives. That may be true, but that's not my point [...] It is that the netroots often argue from anger rather than reason, and too often, their object is personal release, not political persuasion.

 Several people have pointed out the blatant hypocrisy here. Rove is famous for a political career built on the most vitriolic, angry and immoral approach to public affairs. He is an equal opportunity slander operative, smearing John Kerry and Ann Richards with the same intensity as he sabotaged conservative "allies" like John McCain and John DiIulio. But dealing with Rove, there's a political lesson here too.

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Karl Rove poses with bloggers at Yahoo's "The Rise of Citizen 2.0" conference on Thursday. Photo credit: Clay Johnson.

Rove's attack fits with the Republicans' long-term strategy to discredit the netroots, marginalize bloggers and pressure Democratic politicians to avoid their own web activists. The idea is to blunt the obvious fundraising, organizing and energizing benefits of liberal web activism by isolating it from Democratic leadership and the progressive establishment in general. That is why Republicans aim to morph liberal Internet activism into a "scandal" whenever possible, from random blog comments to the MoveOn Petraus ad to the feigned outrage over John Edwards' campaign bloggers. In fact, the Edwards dust-up in February traces Rove's new attack quite closely. A Republican operative famous for unethical hardball (Bill Donahue) hypocritically attacks the "vitriol" of bloggers, focusing exclusively on liberals in order to pressure naive Democrats -- not improve public discourse. Then important people grow very "concerned" about an outbreak of "dirty politics" on the left. In February, the bloggers resigned from the campaign; this week, Rove is pushing a broader narrative for the media, not trying to actually get a specific person fired. (For more details, see the Nation comment I wrote about the incident at the time.)

But the real question is whether any Democrats (or reporters) will naively take another self-interested Republican attack at face value. Rove is simply attacking liberal bloggers because they are effective. Deep down, he might even admire their aggressive approach to politics. Ironically, that would be another thing he does not have in common with many Democratic leaders.

UPDATE: Washingtonian reports that during the conference Rove also IM'd with MoveOn.org Washington Director Tom Matzzie, whom he criticized during his remarks: "This is rove and I did take your name in vain [...] Have enjoyed listening to your calls!" 
 It's not clear if Rove was joking about domestic surveillance, referring to MoveOn's political autocalls, or something else.