Wednesday, November 22, 2006

YDA in Jackson, Mississippi

I wanted to update you on the latest news from the Young Democrats of America. The last general meeting was this past weekend in Jackson, Mississippi with a theme of "Rebuild. Remember. Retake."

Attending from Georgia were: myself (National Committeeman), Flora Brooke Hesse (National Committeewoman), Kirk Miller (YDA Rules Chair), Billy Joyner (YDG President), Benson Manica (YDG Secretary), Kyle Bailey (Atlanta Stonewall Democrats), and Shelby Highsmith (Atlanta chapter).

Apart from various trainings on Fundraising, Press Relations, and Voter Files, panel discussions explored the emerging "religious left" and the strategy for winning back the South. Former DNC Chair Don Fowler of South Carolina spoke as did the newly elected House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn of South Carolina. At Saturday's luncheon, we heard from the leaders of the Mississippi Freedom Democrats party that formed in 1964 as a protest to continued segregration and black voter suppression in Mississippi. On Saturday evening, a special movie presentation on Iraq entitled "The Ground Truth" was shown with a discussion afterward with one of the movie's stars, US Marine Corporal Sean Huze.

There was a postmortem on the elections done in the Campaigns Committee, for which Billy is the deputy chair and I represent the Southeast. Overall, the campaigns did well, even though Georgia lost its races. There was plenty of data collected during the campaign, and a professor at the University of Notre Dame is analyzing the numbers in order to give YDA a full report by its February meeting. There is the likelihood that some funds will be available to local chapters in 2007 for use in local races. If your chapter has contested city elections next year where the youth vote could make a difference, please let Billy Joyner or myself know so that we can keep you in the loop as the process for doling out this money is determined.

In other news, Billy Joyner was elected the Chair of the State Presidents Association of YDA, which is a great honor for our fearless leader!

YDA adopted its budget for the 2007 year, as well as started a restructuring of its charter and bylaws. The action taken in Jackson included adopting a board structure with 6 non-YD members elected to 4 year terms. There were further technical amendments dealing with future national conventions.

The next YDA meeting will be in February 2-4 in Washington, DC in conjunction with Founder's Day and the Winter DNC meeting. The DNC meeting starts on Feb 1, and the DNC has promised to get passes to any YD who wants to attend. As always, any Georgia YD is welcome to attend, so please let us know if you want to go. We do not know which hotel will hold the event, but it will likely be within walking distance of wherever the DNC is meeting. At the DNC meeting, YDA plans to push the DNC to fulfill its long-neglected promise to include youth in state delegations for the Democratic National Convention. Since 1980, there have been no youth participation targets despite being clearly called for in the rules. YDA would love to have a large turnout to pressure the DNC to formally include youth in ALL state delegations in 2008.


Mark your calendars for July 18-21, 2007!!! The YDA National Convention will be held in Dallas, TX at the Adams Mark Hotel. For those who have attended previous conventions in San Francisco (2005), Buffalo (2003), and Tuscon (2001), you know these conventions are a lot of fun and great way to get together with YDs from across the nation, settle on a national YD platform, and elect national officers.

Confirmed speakers include Hillary Clinton and John Edwards so far. The convention website will not be up until January, but some financial details are available for you to start saving your pennies. The Adams Mark Hotel is the largest hotel in Texas, and for rooms with two queen size beds, the cost is $125/night (or $31.25/person with 4 people in a room). For those who want your own room, a king size bed is available in the Royal Tower for $145/night. Registration will cost $60/person. American Airlines is offering a 5% discount off airfare for conference attendees, and if 10 or more people fly Southwest, an unspecified discount will apply.

With the convention being in Dallas, we will likely have a driving option for those interested in that. The downside of Dallas is that in order to maximize Georgia's votes at the Convention, we must have 34 people in our delegation. Fundraising will obviously be key, and YDG will work with local chapters to offset the costs. The experience of the national convention is worth it, though. Dallas has world class shopping and entertainment, and it promises to be a good time for everyone. I hope you will make plans to attend.

This weekend also featured bizarre jockeying in the clusterfuck that is the YDA campaign for 2007. We identified no fewer than 9 people who were claiming to be running for YDA president. One truly surreal episode involved a candidate my state favors who faced with vociferous threats from the LGBT caucus that if he didn't come out, he could forget running for office. The odd thing about these comments, other than their viciousness in tone, was that the candidate about which they complained is already out! He simply had never announced it to people at YDA, and no one had ever bothered to ask him. Of course, they all whispered their speculation, but they didn't ask the source. Had they asked him, he would have simply told them that yes, indeed, he is gay. In fact, he's been living quite openly in a relationship for 4 years now!

Some might claim he was closeted because he didn't announce his sexuality, especially when someone tried to spread a rumor that he was homophobic, of all things. Those of us who knew him best had a great laugh about that, although at the time, none us knew for sure if he was gay or not. Some of us suspected, but we really didn't care. I knew where this guy stood, so it didn't matter much to me. My initial impression about the gay whispers was that he's a metrosexual kind of guy who didn't sleep around YDA, so they were saying he was gay. But really, had I or anyone else just bothered to ask, he would have told us.

Why is it that asking about someone's sexuality is so taboo? It's like there's something wrong with being thought of as "gay". Most people I know who don't wear their sexuality on their sleeve, are quite open when asked. There are varying degrees of being out, but seriously, with the candidate in question, you'd pretty much have to be deaf, blind, and mute to not at least strongly suspect this guy is gay. He's got way too much sense of style to be straight.

For a moment, let's pretend this guy was deep in the closet despite being heavily involved in a very gay-friendly organization like YDA. Normally, I'm all about people taking whatever time they need to come to grips with their sexuality and to come out on their own terms. I'm also sensitive to the concerns of my fellow LGBT citizens who don't have supportive families or live in areas or have jobs where being out would threaten their livelihoods. At the same time, I also understand the vehemence of Democrats who say "HELL to the No!" when it comes to closet cases in powerful positions. The closet is truly poisonous, and it leads to destructive behavior. At the very least, it's self-torture on an emotional level.

Anyway, people need to understand that the LGBT community is quite diverse. Not everyone in it is loudly out, and for many of those people (including the candidate in question), it's a non-issue. There's no closet, which people would know if they'd ask. It was really very silly as far as "controversies" go, and it's looking like this candidate will end up as the #2 on a ticket that is being put together. The fact remains, #1 or #2 on the ticket, this guy is openly gay and has been for quite some time.

The gay bar in Jackson was a sad, sad place. But we managed to make it fun even though it was "bring your own liquor". Kyle gave a dance performance on stage Saturday night to rival just about any gay club in the country! No really scandalous hook-ups occurred while we were there, which is unusual.

Jackson isn't a bad place. I just wouldn't want to live there.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"Desperate": The New GOP Fragrance for 2006!

In the last several days, I have been reminded of about this time in 1992, just as we started to dare against all hope that Clinton would actually beat Bush the Father. By late October, the Bush Pere campaign was starting to froth at the mouth, which is never a good sign. You had the then-President proclaiming Clinton and Gore to be "bozos" and "environmental whackos". It was really silly, and it didn't stop the inevitable outcome.

There's something about losing power that drives politicians and political parties absolutely bonkers. I can't blame then, since having your own bullet proof sedan, body guards, and control of the US treasury and armed forces would be heady stuff. The trappings of power can and do corrupt better people than the ass clowns currently in power in Washington, DC.

What we have seen in the last week or so is the emotional meltdown of the GOP. Luckily, the NJ Supreme Court decision declaring that gay couples should have equal rights to straight couples hasn't taken off in the press. I kept waiting for the backdraft, knowing the GOP would seize on the issue. They have seized on it, but people don't seem to care as much as they did in 2004 before state constitutions all over the country were amended to prevent gays from marrying, and before courts in Washington and New York bowed to public pressure to give sanction to official discrimination against same-sex relationships. And the New Jersey decision did not confer the name "marriage" on gays, which probably helped lessen the impact. Nevertheless, George W Bush has been railing against "activist" judges who are "putting marriage in doubt". Of course, he's the man to protect us all from the sourge of same-sex love.

The response? People yawn, and talk about corruption and how Bush has made a royal mess out of Iraq. Still, some conservatives drool at the thought of another gay-bashing election season, so the President keeps the references in his speeches. In the past week, he's been to Georgia not once but TWICE. I know he's trying to unseat Jim Marshall in Macon and John Barrow of Athens, but all the attention in a state that STILL loves Bush (when the rest of the country seems to be finally waking up and smelling the coffee) shows how much trouble the GOP is in throughout the country. If Georgia's not "safe" by now, no where is for the national GOP.
Maybe Bush is perusing some land deals with Sonny, preferably in the path of some secret development plans in the vaults of the Department of Transportation that have not been made public yet. Bush will be out of a job in two years, after all. Gotta build that nest egg so he can fight off those crimes against humanity charges (I wish!).

While Bush was in Georgia the first time this week, he announced that if the Democrats win the Congressional elections in either house, then "the terrorists win." Excuse me? Did I miss something? Did the Democratic platform change when I wasn't looking? Are we now the official Party of Al Queda in the US?

The President nakedly makes the argument (backed up by Chief Henchman, Dick Cheney) that the terrorists want Democrats to win, b/c that would be the way to defeat America. So, they're ratcheting up the attacks on our troops to try to sway the elections. The only way to fight the terrorists is to re-elect the GOP congress and "stay the course"! We'll show them!
The more insulting thing is the insinuation that Democrats neither love nor support this country. Sir, we love this country more than you could ever know. Why else would we fight tooth and nail against your disastrous policies...your exploding deficit...and your general incompetence? We don't want to see this country ruined, and if we continue down the path you've lead for the past 6 years, we will be ruined. Our reputation worldwide is in shambles, our military is stretched to the breaking point, and we are building a debt that could swallow this country whole within my lifetime. Myself and my fellow Democrats love this country, and we will fight like hell to protect this country....but we will do it without pissing on our friends, creating new enemies, or engaging in wars of choice while bankrupting our finances. To have you suggest that we are on the side of terrorists is disgusting, and I hope the public punishes you all the more for it on November 7.

Then John Kerry stuck his foot in his mouth yesterday with a comment that's been exploited to say he thinks all military people are stupid. So in another effort to distract, the GOP has jumped all over John Kerry and the "military hating" Democrats. Last I checked, it wasn't the Democrats who gleefully cut veteran care or military benefits the last several years. It was this lilly livered bunch in control who never served a day in their lives. The Democrats are the ones who want to armor our troops, protect them, get them home, and then keep our promises to take care of their physical and psychological wounds once they return. It's another distraction, just like the gay marriage thing. Hopefully it too will pass.

As we come into the final weekend of the campaign, there is no telling what Bush and his team will come up with to try to turn the tide in their favor. Maybe they'll have Bin Laden release a tape declaring that Nancy Pelosi is his concubine or agent. Or maybe they'll just SAY she is, and hope for the best.

I'm sick of this bunch. I'm sick of their games, their lies, and the way they are actively running this nation into the ground. And if the American people don't collectively vote at least one house of Congress to the Democrats on November 7, we will deserve whatever disasters come our way.