Tales from the Trail

Conservatives bash Obama for gay rights stand

Conservative groups and Republican White House hopeful Rick Perry wasted no time in panning the Obama administration for its move on Tuesday to stand up for gay rights abroad – the first-ever U.S. government strategy to tackle LGBT human rights abuses worldwide.

In an seven-point executive order on Tuesday, Obama told U.S. diplomats and foreign aid workers to do more to advance rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered persons abroad – a move that promotes U.S. human rights policies and speaks to a key Democratic constituency at home.

“I am deeply concerned by the violence and discrimination targeting LGBT persons around the world…No country should deny people their rights because of who they love, which is why we must stand up for the rights of gays and lesbians everywhere,” Obama said in the memo, which will be published in the Federal Register. “I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBT persons.”

Obama’s memo coincided with a visit to the White House by pop singer and gay icon Lady Gaga. She was scheduled to meet officials from the White House public engagement office to discuss her new “Born This Way” foundation, which focuses on fighting bullying and homophobia.

Texas governor Rick Perry took time out from his presidential campaign to decry a “war on traditional American values” and termed Obama “out of touch” and “at war with people of faith.”

Washington Extra – Oil up

How high is it? A 2-1/2 year high.

How high can it go? No one knows.

BUSINESS/SUMMERYEnergy Secretary Steven Chu expressed what is on many minds – that the oil price jump can hurt the economy. “We have a very delicate recovery going on and an increase in prices will make that vulnerable.”

Even with all options on the table, U.S. officials expressed great caution about imposing no-fly zones over Libya. “I think we are a long way from making that decision,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.

Some Republicans saw the oil price scare as an opportunity to push again for expanding off-shore oil drilling. “To end this dangerous over-reliance on oil imports, we must find more domestic resources, improve our efficiency and improve international cooperation,” Senator Dick Lugar said.

Lady Gaga, WikiLeaks and :’(

WIKILEAKSWashington has been buzzing for days about Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old U.S. Army intelligence analyst at the heart of the investigation into the leak of a quarter-million State Department diplomatic cables by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.

And then there’s the Lady Gaga connection.

Manning said he listened to the flamboyantly-dressed singer’s “Telephone” as he pulled the documents off a military server in Baghdad, according to a transcript of online chats Manning had with a former hacker, Adrian Lamo. The chats, which occurred earlier this year, were posted by Wired.com on June 10. Lamo confirmed details of the chats to Reuters.

“i would come in with music on a CD-RW labeled with something like ‘Lady Gaga’ … erase the music … then write a compressed split file … no-one suspected a thing. listened and lip-synched to Lady Gaga’s Telephone while exfiltrating possibly the largest data spillage in american history,” Manning wrote in the uncapitalized, lightly punctuated style of a webchat.

from Summit Notebook:

Lady Gaga may not be the only one singing a new tune in November

USA/
The 2010 Reuters Washington Summit included 4 days of on-the-record interviews with policymakers, congressmen and Obama Administration officials here in the DC bureau. The interviews covered a wide range of topics…from the impact of the mid-term elections to the importance of the Lady Gaga vote.

With less than six weeks to go before the mid-term elections the focus was on what a potential shift in power to a Republican-controlled Congress could mean for policy priorities in the coming year. We heard from Senators’ McCain, Dodd, Gregg and Bingaman. On the House side we spoke with the man responsible for getting Democrats elected…Rep. Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He called this election season a “tough and challenging environment,’ but predicted Democrats would retain control of the House.

From the Obama Administration, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs opened his comments by admitting that early on the administration did not have a “real understanding of the depth of what we were in.” News of Larry Summers’ departure as White House advisor came on the eve of our interview with a man who has worked with Summers, Austan Goolsbee, Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Goolsbee said he expected that Mr. Summers’ replacement wouldn’t be part of “a dramatic change in direction.” On the economy, Goolsbee noted that he does not see a double dip on the horizon and that “pulling back on current spending programs could spook the markets.”

from Summit Notebook:

McCain to Gaga: I’ll save my talking for the Senate

Don't expect Senator John McCain to respond to critical Twitter comments from pop star Lady Gaga as the U.S. SUMMIT-WASHINGTON/MCCAINSenate girds for a showdown over gays in the military.

"I only Twitter with Snooki, as you know," McCain said Monday at the Reuters Washington Summit.

The Senate is expected to take up the hot-button issue on Tuesday, and McCain said he expects to focus his efforts on the floor of the Senate, not the popular microblogging service.