Thursday, December 04, 2008

Run-Off Blues

The run-off election results were largely a disappointment in Georgia, and I have heard some wailing, gnashing of teeth, and rendering of garments as a result. As the Young Democrats of Georgia, we worked *very* hard to turn Georgia blue in 2008. Obama got 47% of the vote in Georgia, which is the highest percentage won by a Democratic presidential candidate in Georgia since Jimmy Carter won the state in 1976 and 1980. Before Carter, the last time Georgia had supported a Democrat for President was Kennedy in 1960! Georgia supported Goldwater in 1964 and segregationist George Wallace in 1968. It’s been a GOP love-fest since, with exceptions for Carter and Clinton in 1992. Even when Clinton won in 1992, he won with 43.47% of the vote. We came agonizingly close to winning Georgia in 2008, and we certainly made the state competitive. While our electoral votes went to McCain, we still should be very proud of how well Obama did.

The youth vote is still strange in Georgia. It very much behaves as a swing vote. In national elections, the GOP is getting about 52% of the vote for president. In 2006, the youth vote was the only demographic won by Democrat Mark Taylor on his way to getting 38% of the overall vote for Governor. For the 2008 primary, youth vote tripled, and our share of the Democratic electorate shot up 4 points. The 2008 youth vote for President seems to have mirrored the state results in Georgia, although nationwide, Obama won the youth vote with about 68% to John McCain’s 32%.

We continue to improve, though. So many of Georgia’s youth vote GOP because their parents do. The more our message gets out, the more those youth realize the GOP offers them nothing, and that their beliefs place them firmly in the Democratic Party. Every cycle, we do a little bit better. We are close to parity now, and it won’t be long before we will regularly win the youth vote not only in state and local elections, but national as well.

The run-off results are also set up for a GOP victory. You have to remember that the run-off rules are a relic of the segregationist past. They were set up to ensure that the old (white) guard maintained control of the Democratic Party. Remember, until 2002, Democrats had ruled Georgia since Reconstruction. As the civil rights movement gained momentum, Georgia Democrats adapted by creating an uneasy alliance between urban blacks and rural whites. This maintained Democratic dominance until 2002, when the effort to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Georgia state flag combined with pissing off teachers resulted in Roy Barnes’ defeat. The GOP is stocked with Dixiecrats who left the Democratic Party to join the GOP as the “white” party in Georgia. The GOP has continuously pushed the notion that Democrat = black in an effort to “ghettoize” the Democratic Party. Sadly, it has largely worked. In 2008, for the first time ever, the majority of the Democratic primary electorate was black. The GOP is hoping this means that what is left of the “old guard” in Georgia will flee the Democratic Party for the GOP as the black share of the Democratic electorate continues to grow.

For the Democratic youth, this racial stuff doesn’t matter nearly as much as it does to our elders. We care much more about policies and getting things done than the exercise of raw (or, more accurately, imagined) power. You do see moments where young people try to emulate their elders by trying to incite racial bias, but those efforts are not widespread. They also usually fail.

The Georgia Run-off law requires a winning candidate for any office other than President to get an absolute majority of 50% plus one. If you look at the 1990 Democratic primary for governor, you will understand the usefulness to the white power structure of the run-off law. Since the Democratic nominee always won the general election, open Democratic primaries were crowded. The top two vote getters in July 1990 were Zell Miller and Andrew Young. For whatever reason, it is an accepted fact in Georgia that black voters do not turn out for run-offs. You see a significant drop-off in participation all over the electorate, but it tends to be especially dramatic for black voters. White voters will come out again in much higher numbers for a run-off. This is especially true of white Republican voters. Of course, in 1990, the 2008 white GOP voters were still pulling a Democratic ballot, and they certainly were not going to support a BLACK man for Governor. So Andy Young got his clock cleaned by Zell Miller, who went on to win the election in November.

Another example is 1998 when Mary Margaret Oliver faced off with Mark Taylor for the Lt. Governor nomination. Oliver, a liberal Democratic white woman from DeKalb, came in 1st place with 29% of the vote. Taylor, a rural white boy from Albany, came in 2nd with 21% in a primary with 6 candidates. Counting on the fact that Oliver’s base of black support in Atlanta wouldn’t show up again, Taylor whipped up the conservative white boys into a frenzy and won the run-off with 57% of the vote. The whole point of the run-off system is to be sure that rural white guys would win the day at the end.

We knew going into 2008 that we had an uphill climb. Georgia has only become more red since 2002. The mass exodus of DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) to the GOP followed the rise to power of the GOP. These people would become Socialists if it meant being with the party in power. They generally have no moral compass other than their personal aggrandizement. Such party switchers include people like Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, who was defeated from the Public Service Commission in 2002 as a Democrat only to switch parties so he could reclaim “his” seat in Tuesday’s run-off. Another such party switcher who’s sole concern is personal power and aggrandizement is State Rep. Mike Jacobs. The man was a hard-core Democrat until he realized that to get real power in the state house required him to become a Republican.

I never thought that winning GA for Obama (or Hillary) was realistic in 2008. My stated goal was to make Georgia competitive. For me, that would be a win. Oh, we definitely campaigned to win, and our efforts worked. The state was competitive for Obama, and Georgia had the most extensive volunteer-driven network for Obama in the nation. That is why we won a record 47%, and held McCain to GEORGIA. This is the state that gave Bush 58% in 2004, and 55% in 2000. The fact that we saw presidential ads in Georgia is a win if you ask me since the last time you saw any advertising for a presidential candidate may have been Clinton in 1992.

Unseating Saxby was also going to be difficult. When the primary season started, we had about 5 candidates who were fairly lackluster. No one really sparked a huge fire, although we did have a couple of interesting choices. We also had the Saxby-financed Vernon Jones campaign (it was an open secret in DeKalb that Saxby asked his builder buddies to finance Vernon’s campaign) since Saxby knew that Vernon as the Dem nominee would assure his reelection. He might as well not have an opponent as to have Vernon.

In the end, though, Jim Martin came through and decided to run. He started late, though, and required a run-off to secure the nomination. Even then, it was going to be a huge uphill fight. We had hoped that people excited about the Obama win would come back out to support Jim on Tuesday, but that did not happen. Despite ads and robo-calls from Obama to the black community, and rap artists pleading for turnout, the huge black turnout for Obama in November did not materialize in December. Of course, the turnout with white progressives was not so great either. I know many people were turned off by all the ads and calls as the eyes of the nation focused on Georgia. Many of those simply did not vote, which I think is silly. Although, it’s also silly for candidates to call people on Thanksgiving.

The results showed that people who turned out to re-elect Saxby just went to the PSC race and voted for the Republican. They didn’t care who it was, so long as the “R” was by his name. That is the only reason Jim Powell lost, as he was CLEARLY more qualified and independent than Bubba. Georgia voters, who supposedly hate taxes, just elected a man who will ensure that our utility rates increase. Way to go, Georgia!

Saxby’s campaign again was full of lies and distortions about Jim Martin. Saxby got his feet wet in 2002 by strongly hinting that triple-amputee and Vietnam veteran Max Cleland was a supporter of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin-Laden because he supported labor rights for the new Homeland Security department. It was a despicable charge against an honorable man who left three limbs on the battlefield for his country while Saxby got 5 deferments for a “bad knee”. A knee so bad, apparently, that Saxby is practically a professional golfer. Amazing how that works.

This year, Saxby basically ran a campaign that said Jim Martin was a child murdering, child prostituting, and inveterate tax raiser who also liked to line his own pockets with public money. Anyone who has ever met Jim Martin knows what a pack of lies these charges were. Jim Martin is an honorable and decent man who has always cared more for results than getting credit. He is one of the most decent people I’ve ever seen in politics, especially when compared to Saxby “Big Daddy” Chambliss who has few morals and even fewer ethics. Saxby always leaves me feeling dirty, and I have the impression that he is a bad person. I do not say that lightly. Generally, I feel Republicans are good people, just misguided.

A bright spot in the run-off election results was the win by Sara Doyle for GA Court of Appeals. While she is a consistent Republican voter, she was not nearly as rigid or ideological as her opponent, “Christian” Taliban tool, Mike Sheffield. I put “Christian” in quotation marks because I consider the man to be anything but a true Christian. His philosophy and beliefs are anything but Christ-like. But he calls himself a Christian, so I’ll put it in quotation marks. He would have added a highly partisan and extremely right wing voice to the Court of Appeals, and defeating him was a real victory.

It does feel like we got our asses handed to us in Tuesday’s run-off election. We have not mastered the art of turnout for a run-off, especially around the holidays. It is not a reason to despair. No one would have thought we could force Saxby into a run-off even as late as September. The “smart” money was on a Saxby easy victory on election night. That we forced Saxby into a run-off and drained away all that GOP money is a victory for us. It may feel hollow, but that is the reality.

So, my fellow Democrats, do not despair. We started out in a very deep hole, and we got close enough to feel the edges. Maybe next time we can pull ourselves out. That is what we are working toward. It is not likely that Georgia will ever go back to the years of Democratic dominance that many of us remember from childhood. We are making Georgia ever more competitive, though….and there will be a time in the near future where Georgia is not considered an automatic lock for the GOP. That is what we are fighting for. When that victory does come, it will be very sweet, especially for those of us who have toiled, and will continue to toil, in the darkness of GOP power in this state. We keep chipping away at the GOP majority, so keep your eyes on the ultimate prize.

We can and will win Georgia again. We cannot allow ourselves to get discouraged. We must learn from the mistakes we make, correct them, and move on to the next battle. We cannot cede this state to the reactionary forces of the GOP. That would be bad for Georgia, bad for us, and bad for the nation. Georgia deserves better than to be a GOP, right wing ghetto. The South deserves better. WE deserve better.

That’s why we fight…and in the end, that is why we will win.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thursday, October 09, 2008

John McCain's Rage is a National Security Concern

Creepy... McCain's temperament is a serious concern in this election.

Friday, September 26, 2008

"If you don't vote, you're a moron!"

I can add nothing to Ferguson's message.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

John McCain's ads are LIES. Here's the video proof.

Sen.McSame used to be a maverick and a truth teller. That man is now dead. It is obvious that McSame would rather lose his HONOR than lose this election. His lies cannot go unpunished.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sarah Palin is Not MY Mother -- Thank God

The adoration from the religious right over Sarah Palin's GOP nomination as the Vice President should send chills up the spine of anyone who loves the United States of America and its Constitution, especially the 1st Amendment. I especially reference the part about forbidding the establishment of religion. The Bush years were not able to usher in an uber-right "Christian" Theocracy, but hope springs eternal with the nomination of Sarah Palin, who is a true believer in some really crazy stuff. Bush and Cheney have done unspeakable harm to this nation, but if Sarah Palin reaches the White House with McSame, I sure hope McSame has a food taster, because the right will be looking to send him to meet Jesus sooner rather than later and get their darling in Oval Office.

The right wing curmudgeon of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jim Wooten, practically slobbered over himself praising the virtues of Gov. Palin in a recent column. I especially became nauseated at the following passage:

Palin’s story is our story. Her life is our life.

She and McCain will carry the South because her values and his are ours.

She is not of Washington.

She is of us.

The question arises, who fits the definition of "us"? Does one have to attend a rigid, far right evangelical, perhaps penecostal, church? Do you need to eschew birth control and other forms of family planning? Do you need to viciously attack people who cross you, aiming to destroy their lives? Do you need to a white, heterosexual family living in a rural, or maybe ex-urban, area? Do you need to have come out of the womb with a shotgun? Do you need to mock people when you sense they are better than you...or at least as Christian, even if they don't agree with you on issues? Do you need to support prayer as a way to convert LGBT Americans from their "sin"? Do you need to brow-beat any Jews you know to accept Jesus or face eternal hellfire and damnation? Do you need to eschew science, and advocate patently false teachings that the earth is 6000 years old and that early man frolicked with the dinosaurs (or "Jesus horses" as our beloved Superindent of Education here in GA once called them)?

If so, then I am certainly not of the "us" that Wooten refers to. Her story is NOT my story. Her life is NOT my life. Her values are CERTAINLY NOT my values. We're both not "of Washington", so I suppose we have that in common. Since I obviously don't fit in to the definition of "us", I'm not lumped in that category with Gov. Palin.

What I am is a white, gay, southern male who is progressive, Christian, and concerned for the future of my country. This brings to me another part of Wooten's column that touches on something that annoys me.

People in the small towns where she grew up, “love their country, in good times and bad, and they’re always proud of America.” It’s not conditional love. It’s not love based on whether we behave and believe as others wish. It’s lasting and unconditional.

Just like I grew tired of being told that I couldn't possibly be a Christian because I was a gay Democrat, I am SICK TO DEATH of hearing the GOP mantra that to challenge your country in any way is somehow "hating America" and near-treasonous. For the record, I love my country in good times and bad. But like my parents always said to me growing up, "We will always love you, no matter what. We may not like what you do sometimes, but that will never mean we love you any less." If I had turned out to be a mass murderer, my mother (since Dad's dead) would still love me with all her heart. She certainly wouldn't be PROUD of my actions as a serial killer though, and the horror I had done would break her heart. But she would love me to her dying day. THAT is unconditional love.

I may not have a child, but I do unconditionally love my country. That does NOT translate into unconditional approval of actions my country may take. I love America, but I am ashamed that we fell for the trap of George W. Bush, especially in 2004 when we should have known better. It was clear the man had manipulated intelligence to get us into a war we should not have been in. It was clear that he was ready to divide the country by attacking gay people in order to win votes. Yet, we voted him back into office. My country is better than that, and I am ashamed of what we did on election day, 2004. I am ashamed that my country has countenanced torture against sometimes innocent people, and disregarded the human rights upon which our government is founded. We should be better than that. I still love my country though, even when it became clear how badly we'd gone astray at Abu Garib prison and at Guantanimo Bay. I found it embarassing that we impeached a president over a sexual infidelity, but I still loved my country. I can, and have, deeply loved my country without always being proud of it. And where I am not proud of my country, I am proud of the spirit that allows me to work to make it better. I love my country as it is, but I want it to be better... just as any parent would want his/her child to do better when you know that child is capable of so much more. It is that criticism and the attempt to make it better that shows how much I do LOVE my country. If my love was conditional, I would simply give up on America, on the ideals that make up the American spirit. I would drop out, stop engaging, and cease to care one way or another.

In an AP article by Sara Kugler, the response to Palin has included such statements as: "She's every mom," said Lindsey Denny, a mother of 7, including a set of quintuplets, two of whom have special needs like Palin's infant son with Down syndrome.

Every mom? Really? I don't think so.

My mother had one child, and even that was a struggle. She stayed at home with me, and instilled a love of learning and curiousity that has served me well. She prayed that I would be smart and do well in school, remembering well how her own mother had belittled and mocked her because my mom struggled in classes, especially math and science. She loved me unconditionally, but her discipline was firm. When I came out of the closet, she struggled, but never once did I think she would disown me. She left a church that she had attended for years because of the way that church drove me from its membership, and the membership of any church, for seven years. Today, she bristles when people trash LGBT Americans. She has even taken to speaking up on our behalf with friends, although she still struggles with whether to reveal that her only son is gay. My mother believes that women deserve equal pay for equal work. She believes that health care is a right, and that we all deserve basic coverage, no matter our station in life or what job(s) we have. My mother believes in science, and reveres the Bible without worshipping it blindly. My mother has a strong faith in God, but she does not believe she is called for force everyone to believe as she does, nor does she think the power of government should be used to coerce her opinions on others. My mother is pro-choice, believing that the decision to carry a pregnancy to term is intensely personal, between a woman, God, and her doctor. She would never presume to impose her choice on someone else. My mother does not belittle others, no matter what their circumstance. More often than not, she seeks to help people in any way she can, over-empathizing in their plight. My mother is terrified of guns, having had a rifle pointed at her head at age seven by her own father. She cannot face a dead animal. She is rarely sarcastic and never mean.

In other words, my mother is everything that Sarah Palin is not. The only thing they have in common is anatomy and a deep belief in God. Even that belief takes them to very different places. My mother is a southern girl from Tennessee who worries about paying her bills, having health insurance, and making ends meet. I thank God that Sarah Palin is not MY mother.... and I will work my butt off to make sure she doesn't become my Vice President.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The REAL Sarah Palin

This email letter came to me this morning from a colleague. It seems to be bouncing around the country, but it's written by someone who is from Wasilla, Alaska and who knows Sarah Palin. It's worth reading. I will certainly have more to comment in the future as this race heats up. Anne Kilkenny has taken a real risk. After the nasty, demeaning attacks against Barack Obama and ANYONE who works in their community to make it a better place during her acceptance speech, this lady has put herself in real jeopardy. Talk about an American hero!

>> Begin forwarded message:
>> From: Anne Kilkenny
>> Date: September 1, 2008 12:20:01 AM PDT
>> Subject: re: SARAH PALIN
>> Dear friends,
So many people have asked me about what I know about Sarah Palin in the last 2 days that I decided to write something up . . .
>> Basically, Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have only 2 things in common: their gender and their good looks. :)
>> You have my permission to forward this to your friends/email contacts with my name and email address attached, but please do not post it on any websites, as there are too many kooks out there . . .
>> Thanks,
>> Anne
I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child's favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.
She is enormously popular; in every way she's like the most popular girl in middle school. Even men who think she is a poor choice and won't vote for her can't quit smiling when talking about her because she is a "babe".
It is astonishing and almost scary how well she can keep a secret. She kept her most recent pregnancy a secret from her children and parents for seven months.
She is "pro-life". She recently gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby. There is no cover-up involved, here; Trig is her baby.
She is energetic and hardworking. She regularly worked out at the gym.
She is savvy. She doesn't take positions; she just "puts things out there" and if they prove to be popular, then she takes credit.
Her husband works a union job on the North Slope for BP and is a champion snowmobile racer. Todd Palin's kind of job is highly sought-after because of the schedule and high pay. He arranges his work schedule so he can fish for salmon in Bristol Bay for a month or so in summer, but by no stretch of the imagination is fishing their major source of income. Nor has her life-style ever been anything like that of native Alaskans. Sarah and her whole family are avid hunters.
She's smart.
Her experience is as mayor of a city with a population of about 5,000 (at the time), and less than 2 years as governor of a state with about 670,000 residents.
During her mayoral administration most of the actual work of running this small city was turned over to an administrator. She had been pushed to hire this administrator by party power-brokers after she had gotten herself into some trouble over precipitous firings which had given rise to a recall campaign.
Sarah campaigned in Wasilla as a "fiscal conservative". During her 6 years as Mayor, she increased general government expenditures by over 33%. During those same 6 years the amount of taxes collected by the City increased by 38%. This was during a period of low inflation (1996-2002). She reduced progressive property taxes and increased a regressive sales tax which taxed even food. The tax cuts that she promoted benefited large corporate property owners way more than they benefited residents.
The huge increases in tax revenues during her mayoral administration weren't enough to fund everything on her wish list though, borrowed money was needed, too. She inherited a city with zero debt, but left it with indebtedness of over $22 million. What did Mayor Palin encourage the voters to borrow money for? Was it the infrastructure that she said she supported? The sewage treatment plant that the city lacked? Or a new library? No. $1m for a park. $15m-plus for construction of a multi-use sports complex which she rushed through to build on a piece of property that the City didn't even have clear title to, that was still in litigation 7 yrs later--to the delight of the lawyers involved! The sports complex itself is a nice addition to the community but a huge money pit, not the profit-generator she claimed it would be. She also supported bonds for $5.5m for road projects that could have been done in 5-7 yrs without any borrowing.
While Mayor, City Hall was extensively remodeled and her office redecorated more than once. These are small numbers, but Wasilla is a very small city.
As an oil producer, the high price of oil has created a budget surplus in Alaska. Rather than invest this surplus in technology that will make us energy independent and increase efficiency, as Governor she proposed distribution of this surplus to every individual in the state. In this time of record state revenues and budget surpluses, she recommended that the state borrow/bond for road projects, even while she proposed distribution of surplus state revenues: spend today's surplus, borrow for needs.
She's not very tolerant of divergent opinions or open to outside ideas or compromise. As Mayor, she fought ideas that weren't generated by her or her staff. Ideas weren't evaluated on their merits, but on the basis of who proposed them.
While Sarah was Mayor of Wasilla she tried to fire our highly respected City Librarian because the Librarian refused to consider removing from the library some books that Sarah wanted removed. City residents rallied to the defense of the City Librarian and against Palin's attempt at out-and-out censorship, so Palin backed down and withdrew her termination letter. People who fought her attempt to oust the Librarian are on her enemies list to this day.
Sarah complained about the "old boy's club" when she first ran for Mayor, so what did she bring Wasilla? A new set of "old boys". Palin fired most of the experienced staff she inherited. At the City and as Governor she hired or elevated new, inexperienced, obscure people, creating a staff totally dependent on her for their jobs and eternally grateful and fiercely loyal--loyal to the point of abusing their power to further her personal agenda, as she has acknowledged happened in the case of pressuring the State's top cop (see below).
As Mayor, Sarah fired Wasilla's Police Chief because he "intimidated" her, she told the press. As Governor, her recent firing of Alaska's top cop has the ring of familiarity about it. He served at her pleasure and she had every legal right to fire him, but it's pretty clear that an important factor in her decision to fire him was because he wouldn't fire her sister's ex-husband, a State Trooper. Under investigation for abuse of power, she has had to admit that more than 2 dozen contacts were made between her staff and family to the person that she later fired, pressuring him to fire her ex-brother-in-law. She tried to replace the man she fired with a man who she knew had been reprimanded for sexual harassment; when this caused a public furor, she withdrew her support.
She has bitten the hand of every person who extended theirs to her in help. The City Council person who personally escorted her around town introducing her to voters when she first ran for Wasilla City Council became one of her first targets when she was later elected Mayor. She abruptly fired her loyal City Administrator; even people who didn't like the guy were stunned by this ruthlessness. Fear of retribution has kept all of these people from saying anything publicly about her.
When then-Governor Murkowski was handing out political plums, Sarah got the best, Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission: one of the few jobs not in Juneau and one of the best paid. She had no background in oil & gas issues. Within months of scoring this great job which paid $122,400/yr, she was complaining in the press about the high salary. I was told that she hated that job: the commute, the structured hours, the work. Sarah became aware that a member of this Commission (who was also the State Chair of the Republican Party) engaged in unethical behavior on the job. In a gutsy move which some undoubtedly cautioned her could be political suicide, Sarah solved all her problems in one fell swoop: got out of the job she hated and garnered gobs of media attention as the patron saint of ethics and as a gutsy fighter against the "old boys' club" when she dramatically quit, exposing this man's ethics violations (for which he was fined).
As Mayor, she had her hand stuck out as far as anyone for pork from Senator Ted Stevens. Lately, she has castigated his pork-barrel politics and publicly humiliated him. She only opposed the "bridge to nowhere" after it became clear that it would be unwise not to.
As Governor, she gave the Legislature no direction and budget guidelines, then made a big grandstand display of line-item vetoing projects, calling them pork. Public outcry and further legislative action restored most of these projects--which had been vetoed simply because she was not aware of their importance--but with the unobservant she had gained a reputation as "anti-pork".
She is solidly Republican: no political maverick. The State party leaders hate her because she has bit them in the back and humiliated them. Other members of the party object to her self-description as a fiscal conservative.
Around Wasilla there are people who went to high school with Sarah. They call her "Sarah Barracuda" because of her unbridled ambition and predatory ruthlessness. Before she became so powerful, very ugly stories circulated around town about shenanigans she pulled to be made point guard on the high school basketball team. When Sarah's mother-in-law, a highly respected member of the community and experienced manager, ran for Mayor, Sarah refused to endorse her.
As Governor, she stepped outside of the box and put together of package of legislation known as "AGIA" that forced the oil companies to march to the beat of her drum.
Like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. She has questioned if the loss of sea ice is linked to global warming. She campaigned "as a private citizen" against a state initiative that would have either a) protected salmon streams from pollution from mines, or b) tied up in the courts all mining in the state (depending on who you listen to). She has pushed the State's lawsuit against the Dept. of the Interior's decision to list polar bears as threatened species.
McCain is the oldest person to ever run for President; Sarah will be a heartbeat away from being President.
There has to be literally millions of Americans who are more knowledgeable and experienced than she.
However, there are a lot of people who have underestimated her and are regretting it.
*"Hockey mom": true for a few years
*"PTA mom": true years ago when her first-born was in elementary school, not since.

*"NRA supporter": absolutely true

*social conservative: mixed. Opposes gay marriage, BUT vetoed a bill that would have denied benefits to employees in same-sex relationships (said she did this because it was unconstitutional).

*pro-creationism: mixed. Supports it, BUT did nothing as Governor to promote it.

*"Pro-life": mixed. Knowingly gave birth to a Down's syndrome baby BUT declined to call a special legislative session on some pro-life legislation

*"Experienced": Some high schools have more students than Wasilla has residents. Many cities have more residents than the state of Alaska. No legislative experience other than City Council. Little hands-on supervisory or managerial experience; needed help of a city administrator to run town of about 5,000.

*political maverick: not at all

*gutsy: absolutely!

*open & transparent: ??? Good at keeping secrets. Not good at explaining actions.

*has a developed philosophy of public policy: no

*"a Greenie": no. Turned Wasilla into a wasteland of big box stores and disconnected parking lots. Is pro-drilling off-shore and in ANWR.

*fiscal conservative: not by my definition!

*pro-infrastructure: No. Promoted a sports complex and park in a city without a sewage treatment plant or storm drainage system. Built streets to early 20th century standards.

*pro-tax relief: Lowered taxes for businesses, increased tax burden on residents

*pro-small government: No. Oversaw greatest expansion of city government in Wasilla's history.

*pro-labor/pro-union. No. Just because her husband works union doesn't make her pro-labor. I have seen nothing to support any claim that she is pro-labor/pro-union.
First, I have long believed in the importance of being an informed voter. I am a voter registrar. For 10 years I put on student voting programs in the schools. If you google my name (Anne Kilkenny + Alaska), you will find references to my participation in local government, education, and PTA/parent organizations.
Secondly, I've always operated in the belief that "Bad things happen when good people stay silent". Few people know as much as I do because few have gone to as many City Council meetings.
Third, I am just a housewife. I don't have a job she can bump me out of. I don't belong to any organization that she can hurt. But, I am no fool; she is immensely popular here, and it is likely that this will cost me somehow in the future: that's life.
Fourth, she has hated me since back in 1996, when I was one of the 100 or so people who rallied to support the City Librarian against Sarah's attempt at censorship.
Fifth, I looked around and realized that everybody else was afraid to say anything because they were somehow vulnerable.
I am not a statistician. I developed the numbers for the increase in spending & taxation 2 years ago (when Palin was running for Governor) from information supplied to me by the Finance Director of the City of Wasilla, and I can't recall exactly what I adjusted for: did I adjust for inflation? for population increases? Right now, it is impossible for a private person to get any info out of City Hall--they are swamped. So I can't verify my numbers.
You may have noticed that there are various numbers circulating for the population of Wasilla, ranging from my "about 5,000", up to 9,000. The day Palin's selection was announced a city official told me that the current population is about 7,000. The official 2000 census count was 5,460. I have used about 5,000 because Palin was Mayor from 1996 to 2002, and the city was growing rapidly in the mid-90's.
>> Anne Kilkenny
>> August 31, 2008

Friday, August 29, 2008

OBAMA FULL SPEECH: Offers Policy Specifics, Goes on Offense v. McCain

I cannot tell you how amazing this speech was as I watched it with 400 or so Democrats last night at Amsterdam Bar in Atlanta. He even talked about gay rights in a way that made me so proud to be a Democrat.

Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) addresses the DNC

Hillary Clinton shows why she was such a formidable candidate and why the Democrats' cup raneth over in this year's presidential primary. It was a shame that we had to pick one, but her speech shows the class, character, style, and intelligence that I love about Hillary... and that the Republicans never have understood and never will.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT) at the DNC

Some of you might have missed Gov. Schweitzer's folksy, fun, and brilliant performance at the DNC unless you are a C-SPAN watching nerd like me :)

Guys like this give me great hope that we can WIN this election despite all the nasty, negative, racist attacks the GOP will continue to throw at us.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What's Up with the Twink Worship?

Many of us have different definitions of what a "twink" is. I did an online search, and I had a heck of a time finding a good definition, although I did find one here. One that made me laugh was from something called "The Jargon File" which said a twink is "gay slang for a cute young thing with nothing upstairs (compare mainstream `chick')." That definition probably comes the closest to what I think of when I think of a twink. Combined with the requirement that you be under the age of 25, as well as having a certain amount of shallow vapidness... I'm not a fan of the twink.

Yet, I find that the gay community is virtually obsessed with them, including guys who would never stand a chance of landing a twink unless he first showed his bank statement. Lately, I've had a slew of friends who have expressed varying degrees of twink worship that I find disturbing. I've never liked the overly skinny mostly because I first felt that I could break them too easily. I'm a relatively strong man, and if I want to give my guy a bear hug, I do not want to have to worry that I'm going to break bones doing it. Then, after I gained weight myself, I had a new reason to dislike the twink: the twink's obvious, public, and utter disdain for my very existence.

I respect people having different things they are attracted to. Lord knows I have my own quirks. One thing I strive never to be, however, is downright rude. The twinks I've run into have made rudeness an art form. Last Thursday night when I was out for my birthday with friends, I was feeling pretty good, and I was smiling and nodding "hello" to anyone to caught my eye. It wasn't a come on; I was genuinely in a great mood and just being friendly. However, I started getting a string of disgusted looks, eye rolls, and heads whipping in the opposite direction that it threatened to sour my evening. And the perpetrators of this behavior were the twinks. Others either politely smiled back, ignored me, or otherwise didn't react - all fine reactions. But acting like I had walked up to them and asked to fuck them in a public toilet was uncalled for....but with twinks, I find it's typical.

Perhaps it is the worship all things young and thin in the gay community that causes twinks to think that they are better than anyone else who is NOT them. I have no idea, and I'm not particularly interested in why they behave the way they do. I do have friends who qualify as twinks who aren't such insufferable assholes, but they seem to be the exception that proves the rule. It's not like these twinks have anything to particularly be proud of. They are young, which is an accident of birth...but time spares none of us. They won't be twinks but a few years. They are skin and bones thin, and look like young boys for the most accident of genetics, drugs like crystal meth, or both. They usually haven't even graduated college if they went at all. Many of them dropped out of school to work full time in retail, figuring that having money to go out and party was more important than an education. And those who are in college have the added irritation of feeling superior in intellect as well as body and looks....and they let you know it. Their favorite hangout is the gay bar or club, and they usually can be found there a majority of nights, even during the week. They sneer at those of us considered to old, too fat, or too WHATEVER to even breathe the same air they breathe. Yet the gay community as a whole worships them, even those who should know better.

Maybe this is what my friends feel when they meet some of the guys I date. Maybe they feel the same sense of frustration, thinking "What in the HELL is going through his head?!?" as they resist the urge to shake some sense into me. I don't know. It just makes me sad when I see great guys who have a lot to offer mindlessly chase twinks for relationships because they somehow fetishize the type. They think the twink they settle on will be of the good ones. They somehow think that the nightly bar hopping, and the lack of a real career or motivation to excel in the one they are in is somehow going to change once they are together. Even when burned, my friends seem not to learn the lesson that perhaps they should expand their horizons a bit and be open to non-obvious attractions. That's a lesson I've had to learn. I have things that I'm heavily attracted to, but I don't limit myself to that. If I click with a guy, I'm open to pursuing that unless there is simply no attraction whatsoever. Sometimes you can't help matter how great the guy, if there is zero interest, there is zero interest.

But the twink worship continues. For my part, I would be happy to let the twinks have their own little fantasy world where everyone can be young, rail thin, and "fabulous" forever going from bar to bar and party to party. Someday they all have to grow up (one hopes), even if that transition is tough for them. I just don't have the patience to deal with the drama and bullshit that twinks dish out. They have no interest in knowing me as a person, and I'm certainly not going to waste my time trying to convince them I'm worth knowing.

I just wish I could convince several of my friends of this....but I fear they may need to get hurt badly (again) in order to learn the lesson.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Why YOU Should Vote Republican

Getting Older Doesn't Have to Suck

I turned 33 years old last Thursday. It still feels weird to say that, let alone type it. I remember when my parents were 33, since I was 8 years old then. That was the year that I started attending Sayre after the disastrous 2nd and 3rd grade merger in my public school. I can’t imagine having an 8 year old right now. Shoot, I can’t even find someone to date, let alone someone willing to share my life.

That leads me to the edge of the spiral that I went down in the days before my birthday. I never thought I’d be 33 years old and alone. My plan had been to settle down between ages 25 and 30, then maybe have a kid or two. Being gay did not change this initial plan, just the gender of my spouse. Of course, I never anticipated that I would have such poor judgment when it came to picking men to date. I never knew that I’d have this “rescuer” complex where I try to take on the wounded and troubled in hopes of helping to “fix” them which would result in their undying love and devotion toward me. I never knew that I’d try to settle with a guy that I wasn’t in love with simply because he seemed to “make sense”. So now I find myself at age 33, alone, and with no prospects for that changing anytime soon.

The night before my birthday, I was really wallowing in the self-pity. My dinner that night consisted of a bottle of Amarula, my favorite liqueur from southern Africa. It’s not a heavily alcoholic drink, so I just got a healthy buzz. The thing about alcohol being a depressant is that while it gives you a buzz, it also keeps you down in the dumps. And boy was I depressed about my birthday the next day.

Then my actual birthday arrived. I was determined to feel bad all day about growing older, being alone, being overweight, and having no prospects that things would ever turn around. However, I started getting the legion of happy birthday notes and emails not only from Facebook but through general email. Many weren’t just birthday wishes but some said things like “Sure am glad you were born!” and “I hope you have a fantastic day!” I found it impossible to maintain my bad mood in the face of all this love coming from the greater world around me.

By the afternoon, I even had plans for my birthday night. At first, I had no plans at all, which also contributed to the general “I’m a loser” feeling I had approaching my birthday. My friend John had said that we’d go have dinner, but I hadn’t heard anything else about that. Turns out he forgot, but invited me to tag along on a planned trip to the Botanical Gardens for Cocktails in the Garden. I’d never been, so I decided to accept the invitation. Then I made dinner plans with Daniel, who just got paid, and was in the mood for some hibachi.

Dinner was great, as usual, and I left feeling stuffed. The Garden was nice, but it was HOT as hell. It didn’t really cool down until 8:30pm or so. The cocktails in the park were weak, too. We even had a stalker who followed us around after eavesdropping on the conversation in line.

After the garden, we decided to head to Apres Diem for some real drinks. I had four Hendrick’s martinis, extra dry, with a twist. They were really good. Turns out high quality gin tastes a lot better than the cheap stuff. The conversation was really good, and we definitely decided not to drive home. In fact, we didn’t go home at all, but walked to Blake’s where I proceeded to have 2-3 more gin and tonics.

Turns out I can hold my liquor better than John or Meg, so by the time we got a cab to take us back to their neighborhood in Grant Park, they were both pretty much passed out. We did get Meg in the house, and her sister drove John and I to his house where we crashed.

We awoke about 9am, and had to scramble to figure a way back to our cars. Luckily, Tim was driving to work, and when I told him the situation, he came and picked us up to return us to our cars. I had a presentation at 10:30am on the health plans for McCain and Obama, and I wasn’t feeling it. My head didn’t pound, but I sure did feel nauseated. Luckily, they had water, and I somehow muddled through it. I was a mess, but I didn’t care… my birthday had been a blast!

McCain on LGBT issues

John McCain is such a douche bag.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

All Saints ROCKS!

I could not let my last post sit there without a follow-up on what's happened since. The rhetoric was pretty heated, as you read, but it seems to be going in a direction that makes me happy and reaffirms why I am a member of All Saints' Episcopal Church in Atlanta, GA. The first thing that happened was my rector, Geoffrey Hoare+, posted his thoughts on Gay Marriage. This seemed to calm a lot of tempers. What I so admired in Geoffrey's post was his naked confession that he didn't understand bisexuality or bisexuals, and certainly did not understand the transgender...but he concluded that he was open to education on the matter.

The 2nd piece was a letter to the GALAS list from Elizabeth+, the priest assigned to our group. Her letter is printed in its entirety below:

Dear beloved GALAS,

I have remained on the sideline during much of this current conversation. I was present at the retreat during the time that the new mission statement was being formulated. People fell on both sides of the fence as to whether or not GLBT should be included in the statement. At the end of our discussion, it seemed that the entire group felt that this was a good statement to guide our work, not necessarily in terms of who we are now, but more in terms of who we are striving to be as a community.

We are taking a risk with this change and offering radical hospitality. We are expressing to the world that God’s love is offered to everyone and that GALAS in our life and ministry together are intentionally offering a welcome to all who desire to come into our community.

We seek to be a visible and welcoming presence of the unconditional love of Jesus Christ for all people especially the GLBT community of All Saints’.

Last week it was reported that the clergy were against the explicit inclusion of bisexual and transgender persons in the mission statement of GALAS. I could not respond at the time because we had not yet had any sort of discussion about this as a group. During our Program Staff meeting on Tuesday we did discuss the new mission statement and the naming of bisexual and transgender persons in that statement. On behalf of the entire clergy staff I would like to say that we are in support of changes that are inclusive, we are in support of naming all four letters G – L – B – T. We support changes that do not exclude people from community.

This discussion has spurred much passion within the group, for which I am elated to see. I don’t believe that the conversation has come to an end. As we continue to discuss our thoughts and feelings on these and other issues I want to remind everyone of a couple of guidelines. 1) Speak only for yourself. (Yes, using “I” statements) Please do not quote others, whether from casual conversations or sidebar e-mails. Allow them the freedom to choose to engage in the conversation when they are ready. 2) Please remember to be respectful of others, especially those whose opinions differ from yours. This is a conversation, a forum for communication and sharing of ideas, not a battlefield.

Finally a suggestion: If you feel strongly that a GALAS meeting should be held to discuss this issue with one another face-to-face, please e-mail your GALAS chairs directly Jamin Harkness and Patty Williams so that they can either add this into the fall meeting schedule or if the discussion can not wait until the fall, then to possibly find a time this summer to gather everyone together.

I offer the following prayer for our continued discussion and discernment:

Most loving God, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.



There really is not much more to say. I think that ultimately we will include GLBT in our mission statement, and then get to work on the education piece for ourselves, and the church as a whole.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

We Really DO Eat Our Own!

In the last 24 hours or so, my gay group at All Saints has been having a heated conversation. It started innocently enough with a proposed change to our mission statement. Currently, our mission statement reads:

Gays and Lesbians of All Saints' provides a welcome mat for persons of all orientations. We offer an environment for fostering community and reconciling issues important to our faith. Through our regular gatherings, special social events, annual retreat, and educational and service opportunities, our goal is to grow as beloved children of God.
At our annual retreat (which I couldn't attend due to holding the YDG Exec Retreat), the following mission statement change was suggested:

To be a visible and welcoming presence of the unconditional love of Jesus Christ that allows GLBT people to participate fully in the life and ministry Christ within the community of All Saints.
Not a huge deal, right? As a group within All Saints, we have certainly been maturing. We are no longer a group of mostly older gay men who survived the worst days of the AIDS epidemic in Atlanta. We are also generally NOT made up of single people anymore, much to my chagrin. (So I hoped to meet a nice boy at church...who knew that meant I'd first have to break up a happy home?!? Hence, I'm single with no end to that status in sight.) We are chock full of committed couples, and I'd also say that we are certainly in the middle of a "gayby boom" with male and female couples having children all over the place. As our needs change, the group should change.

Who knew that those four little letters would ignite such a controversy? G.L.B.T.

G.L. are no problem. After all, just about all of us are gays or lesbians. It's when we reference those pesky bisexuals and transgender folk that people back up and say "WHOA! Going too far there!"

The opening salvo came from one of our lesbian members:

However, I have some strong feelings about the new mission statement. In particular, the use of GLBT. I think it's confusing and misleading. To include Transgendered in a mission statement for GALAS would lead (albeit uneducated) people to think that transgendered people are gay. I've had a bunch of conversations with people along these lines and you'd be surprised how many people just don't understand what being transgendered means.

I also feel that it's misleading to a transgendered person who would come across it. Sure, we welcome them, but I feel it gives the impression that we in some way champion their cause or represent their issues. And let's be honest - we don't. We are working very hard toward full inclusion of gay people into the church and are taking steps to educate people of gay issues. But none of it has to do with gender identity.

I know this may come across as harsh and exclusive and I don't intend for it to be. I have great sympathy for the struggle of transgendered people, but I just don't feel that it should be included in our statement.
And with that, we were OFF to the races! Personally, I could not believe that we really had people suggesting "Yeah, we'd welcome them, but we certainly won't talk about them!" This from a group of people who largely grew up in churches that explicitly and HARSHLY excluded them for being gay or lesbian. I know I grew up in a church where it was clear that my pastor did not like gays, nor would he tolerate them in his congregation. He also made it perfectly clear that God didn't particularly like me either. It took me years to give church another chance, and I found a place in All Saints that accepted me for who I was, an openly gay man. That was a tremendous gift, and I didn't understand how others would argue we should deny that to others.

The same lesbian came back later to add:

I am not uncomfortable with transgendered people. And I do not wish to exclude anyone. I simply don't see a need to call out transgendered in our mission statement, for the reasons I stated earlier. Everyone is welcome at the table, but we aren't listing transvestites, cross dressers, etc. in our statement either. It's a question of clarity. We are gay people fighting for the inclusion of and education about gay people. Sexual orientation, not gender identity.

If we want to tackle these larger issues, that's a discussion for another day and a mission for a future group.

I wasn't sure how to respond, but I knew I had to. This is what I said:
By specifically excluding T when the popular press and the political world all recognize that we are part of one community (LGBT) is to really have a mission statement who's true meaning is:

To be a visible and welcoming presence of the unconditional love of Jesus Christ that allows gay, lesbian, and bi-sexual, but not those freaky transgender, people to participate fully in the life and ministry Christ within the community of All Saints.

Honestly, how could the underlying message be anything BUT that? It seems we have a strong sentiment that trans people are freaks and undeserving of the love of Christ or being able to participate fully in the life and ministry of of Christ in His Church. Of course, there is same fear that led Barney Frank to exclude the transgender from the Hate Crimes and ENDA legislation. There was a majority for protecting gays and lesbians, but certainly not "those people". But even then, there was a promise that the community would come back later and take care of the I am not even hearing that. I get the feeling that many of us would simply shun a transgender person who came to All Saints...and for those of us who have grown up with the shame of being gay in the church, been told that God does NOT love us, that we are unworthy of the community of Christ... how do we turn around and do the same thing to the Transgender person, if one was so bold as to step inside our church?

It was the crossdressers and trannies who rioted at Stonewall and launched the gay rights movement, if I have my history correct. Yet here we are being quite explicit about who in our community is and is not worthy of full participation in the community of Christ.

I do not think we have achieved full integration. If we had, then we would not have seen each and every gay or lesbian candidate for vestry voted down since we moved to mail-in ballots. We are integrating, but we have work we need to continue to do...and I think the gayby boom we are seeing in All Saints will help that tremendously, as long as the new parents continue to devote themselves to church service and then stand for election to Vestry.

I would agree with the sentiment below, but I would also add that we are to be a source of education for the rest of the church too, as we connect ourselves with other ministries.

> Personally, my interest would be more towards "evangelism." What I
mean by that is there needs to be some mechanism to help gays and
> 1. Know the grace and love of God expressed at All Saints' for
gays and lesbians
> 2. Connect with other gays and lesbians to feel comfortable and
> 3. Find ways of connecting gays and lesbians into the overall
community and ministries within the rest of All Saints'

I think it's good to have this conversation, even if by email. I am not comfortable with transgender issues myself, so I sympathize with the notion of excluding them to protect ourselves...but something inside me says that course of action is just not right. Whether that is simply my conscience or the Holy Spirit nagging at my soul, I cannot say. But the steering committee will follow the will of the membership, whatever that may be.
I got some emails back saying that I was full of anger and falsely attributing things to people who wanted to just name "gay and lesbian" to our group's mission. I thought I was just clarifying things, pointing out what we were REALLY saying by specifically saying we won't touch the trans or bi issue.

Then one of my fellow "Steering Committee" members got into the fun. You have to understand some background of this fellow to fully appreciate his contribution to the discussion. This is a man who has a history of imposing a storyline on his life, or at least TRYING to. The last couple of years since he turned 30, he's been on this kick of being part of a "perfect gay family". He will move heaven and earth to make this a reality too. In the meantime, his partner is in this country illegally, having overstayed his visa after the government turned down his application for permanent residency. They recently adopted a baby girl through open adoption, although how the illegal residency thing was missed by background checks the agency did is beyond me. During the process, this man went through more than a few shortcuts so he could get his child sooner than later. Both men have easy and ready access to recreational drugs (I know that's common in Atlanta, but if you're trying to be the picture perfect gay family, I'd think drugs would not be included), and up until the child arrived, they were ho9lding regular threesomes with God-knows-who and smoking up every chance they got! Now if he weren't trying to play like he's the gay version of "Leave it to Beaver" I wouldn't care less. But it's the hypocritical sanctimony that gets to me. Here was his missive:

Adding the initials “BT,” I believe is inflammatory and will not be received well within the parish. In fact, after a conversation with leadership at All Saints’, I don’t believe it will be accepted by the priests or vestry. Nor do I believe it is our decision to make—that is, adding it to our Mission Statement. I believe we can make recommendations to the leadership/rector/priests/vestry at All Saints’ but GALAS still functions within All Saints’ Episcopal Church and thus it’s internal group’s Mission Statements must be approved. Also, I want to again say I was very comfortable with the original Mission Statement even though I wasn’t even involved, at all, within GALAS at its origin. I think we need to pause and treat this dialogue as our recommendation for a new Mission Statement.

I am all for the process of dialogue and for respectfully sharing our opinions. Personally, I am against adding the “BT,” because again, I think it’s inflammatory and I think we should be cautious as the church is fatigued with these issues. I respect, have considered and acknowledge ’s comments on other issues the church has faced in the past and the results. Adding those initials is not something I am willing to stand up for and push hard for within our church. I believe our parish has taken significant steps already towards our support and yet also feel we are not fully affirmed and included yet.

To that end, my partner and I have respectfully told and requested of Geoffrey that when he and Vestry will stand behind us or “approve,” we want to have our commitment ceremony in the church – at the same altar (or table) as other parishioners. To use Bruce’s words, to be completely affirmed as beloved children of God in our church. Another GALAS member and I were discussing this today and considering that pets can be blessed at All Saints’ but Gay and Lesbian couples cannot. Step by step—true, but I have personally made it known to Geoffrey that my partner and I want to be affirmed as beloved children of God, at the altar, the same as our straight brothers and sisters who I sit beside in the pew at church.

I propose that we approach our dialogue towards refining our Mission Statement as a recommendation to the Rector/Priests and Vestry.

I also acknowledge I do not personally know any transgender people nor understand their issues. Because of that, I’m not personally comfortable adding their initial in our Mission Statement. Thank you for your well written and respectful email on the issue. That email has made me think a lot. Also, I take issue with the concept of bisexuality and believe it inhibits fully committed relationship with another. Because of that, I’m not personally comfortable adding their initial in our Mission Statement.
So, I was left with this apparent backlash by "upstanding, respectable" gays and lesbians against the more flamboyant members of our community. They were going so far as to say that Trans people aren't even MEMBERS of our community. That made me wonder how I could explain that they are. I am certainly not the perfect vessel. I have my own issues of transphobia and just plain not getting it. But I don't think that means I should turn around and suppress them! This is what I came up with:

The question of whether or not transgender people (or even bisexuals) really belong in our community is an interesting one and perhaps at the heart of this mission question. We are an affinity group, so our mission should be narrowly tailored to the community we intend to serve. So that begs the question: are transgender folks a part of our community or not?

Looking at the issue of sexual orientation, it's easy to see how at first blush, one could say "Maybe, maybe not" depending on the transgender person. An MTF (Male to Female) person who was always attracted to men will technically go from gay to straight after full transition. However, an MTF who has always been attracted to women will go from technically straight to gay! I could offer similar examples for women. Would we, therefore, include the MTF who "becomes" gay upon transition and exclude the MTF who "becomes" straight upon transition? Or do we say the question is too confusing, and we're excluding the whole lot?

I've thought a lot in the last day about how a transgender person is and is not part of our community. It goes beyond who that person falls in love with or sleeps with. The more basic question is what could possibly unite G, L, B, and T? Why does society disparage ALL of us? Why do so many in the worldwide church froth at the mouth at
the mere thought that we might be considered beloved children of God?

Biblical translations aside, ultimately, each and every one of us is violating the norms of our born gender. For gays and lesbians, we dare form our primary attachments to members of our SAME gender! Why, I was born a MAN...and everyone KNOWS a man is supposed to be with a woman! I'm spitting in the face of that by admitting I'm gay! Same goes for any lesbian. You and I know that is just how we are born and
wired. We couldn't force ourselves to fall in love with an opposite gender mate than we could survive underwater. The bisexual dabbles in this expression of noncomformity by being quite open to relationships with BOTH sexes.

Where does the Transgender fit into this? A Trans woman is born a man with XY chromosomes, a penis, and testicles. He's supposed to fit into the gender roles of a MAN. There's a problem, though. Everything tells him that he's really a woman, despite the physical evidence to the contrary. So if he comes to terms with that, he will transition into a SHE, and literally cut off the parts that "make" him a man. For society, this is MUCH MUCH worse than our transgression of merely having romantic and sexual relations with members of our own gender. A man that would multilate his own body in order to live as a WOMAN! Imagine it! And then you have a Trans man who is born as a female, and then cuts off her breasts and turns her vagina into a penis! A woman trying to be something she never can...a "real" man!
We will have NONE of that, thank you!

And then you have those in between folks...the ones who are NOT transgender, but who nonetheless have much in common with the transgender in that they live their life displaying characteristics of the opposite gender. By this, I mean the flaming queen who swishes down the street and the bull dyke is often mistaken for a teenage boy. For many of us, we are just as uncomfortable with them as we are with the idea of the transgender. If we decide that trans is certainly NOT a part of our community, do we also say that the flaming queen and the bull dyke really aren't either? If we insist on making room for them, how do we justify saying to the poor transgender person who dares walk into All Saints, "Sorry, we're not here to serve you. Form your own group." The trans person would probably expect that, sadly enough, and likely isn't going to go into church. The statistics on transgender folks are scary...most have no jobs, few friends, and they tend to live on the street. That's why you have so many "tranny hookers". Their suicide rate makes our 30% rate as gay/lesbian youth
look downright low.

We are certainly arguing over something that hasn't happened yet, and I doubt will happen in the near future. Transgender issues are far behind the rest of gay and lesbian rights. Declining to reference them is a conscious choice to exclude them from our mission and our community. The people in the church who would freak out at the mere thought of a bisexual or transgender person would also freak out at the flaming queen and the bull dyke. Most of us at All Saints are pretty mainstream and downright ordinary. As we approach our goal of full integration and equality in the church, should we consciously leave behind the more flamboyant members of our community to "seal the deal"... or do we betray ourselves in doing that?

Our society as a whole has not figured that out yet, but it's certainly underpinning our conversation.
I don't know what the result will be. I feel like I'm wholly ill equipped to make the Trans-inclusive argument, and I certainly understand the feelings of the other side. They sense trouble brewing, or stalling our movement forward in the church, so they are trying to get rid of anyone who might hold our cause of full acceptance back. But it just seems WRONG to do it that way.

I'm open to any thoughts....

Friday, March 14, 2008

Silly Log Cabin

I would think that when reading a tabloid like the Drudge Report, that one would proceed with caution before believing what you read is the gospel truth. Apparently, this is not true if you are a Log Cabin Republican.

Last night, while I was at the AEN meeting on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", I fell into conversation with a self proclaimed "gay Republican libertarian". Personally, I thought that Libertarians were different from the GOP, but I'll leave that aside for the moment. In a wide ranging, and enjoyable, conversation about varied topics such as forced sterilization as a condition of receiving welfare (his proposal), his opposition to all marriage, not just gay marriage, and Hillary Clinton's political genius, he tried to sell me on Clinton's homophobia.

Yes, he tried to seriously argue that Bill Clinton was really a homophobe. This guy was from Louisiana, and the Democrats there gay bashed with as much glee as the Republicans. Bill, being an Arkansas boy, just *had* to be a homophobe because he's from the South? And a Democrat to boot? It seemed like he was arguing that southerners all hate homosexuals, including the Democrats, even though they might pretend to like us.

His biggest piece of "evidence" was something he'd read on Drudge. His claim was that Clinton set an expiration date for the non-discrimination order in federal employment where it concerned protections for LGBT workers. This did not seem right to me, but I had nothing with which to disprove his assertion. He claimed that Bush extended the LGBT protections proactively, which seemed patently absurd to me.

I have since discovered what poppycock this claim is. In 1995, Bill Clinton signed an Executive Order which lifted the ban on LGBT people from receiving a security clearance on the ground that being closet cases, they can be easily threatened or blackmailed. On May 28, 1998, Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13087 which amended Executive Order 11478, which was the Equal Employment Opportunity in the Federal Government order signed by Richard Nixon on August 8, 1969. The amendment tacked on "sexual orientation" to the list of protected classes within federal employment. There was not any sunset provision provided. This amendment was PERMANENT. The thing Bush did was decline to rescind Clinton's order of non-discrimination.

Those silly Log Cabiners....they never learn.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Things We Learn...

One of the peculiar things about serving as President of the Young Democrats is the knowledge that you must be careful what you blog. I learned that lesson right out of the gate, which explains my unusual quietness on this blog. On political matters, especially, anything I write can have unintended blow-back on the Young Democrats of Georgia. Yes, people understand that you can have separate opinions from stances you must take as a leader, but when you're the titular head of an organization, the caution you must use is magnified. Hence, you have not heard a peep out of me about this year's exciting Democratic primary for President.

That is not going to change, at least until we have a nominee. My only comment will be that we are blessed to have two excellent candidates vying for the nomination this year. Our cup truly runneth over.

Today, I want to reflect on a personal situation and the lessons I've learned from it. I have come to the unmistakable conclusion that I have horrible judgment when it comes to choosing who I want to date. It seems that a cute face and a messed up soul will win me over every time. Yet, this affliction does not carry over into my friendships. My mother has often remarked that I have surrounded myself with really good people as friends. I couldn't agree more. I seem to have a knack (hopefully I'm not jinxing myself here) for picking quality people for friendships. Quite often, I've been pleasantly surprised by the caliber of my friends, especially when hard times hit. I've had a disappointment here and there, but the vast majority of the time, I've been proven to have decent judgment about people.

Not so much when it comes to dating. I have recently completed the drawn-out denouement of a dating relationship that really ended New Years Eve. Yes, it is the end of February, so what was the problem? It's really twofold: he led me on for most of February, and then I just refused to be dumped via TEXT MESSAGE.

I suppose starting at the beginning is best. JHA first contacted me in the search for a missing mutual friend. The friend ended up in the hospital, but that's not important to the story. Turns out the missing friend was partially a ruse. JHA was looking through our mutual friend's facebook page, and apparently thought I was cute. When I was mistakenly told that JHA was a raving Republican, he went with it as a way to meet.

We met on Halloween at Amsterdam Bar. Talk about foreshadowing! We hit it off, and he revealed that the GOP thing was a ruse, and that he was supporting Hillary Clinton for president. By that time, I didn't care because we'd hit it off. He also told me that he was indeed HIV+, which is something he'd hinted at in emails. He only seroconverted last summer, but he seemed quite calm about it and discussed it matter-of-factly. Not an ideal situation for me, but certainly not a deal breaker.

Anyway, romance bloomed, at least on my end of the deal. I honestly don't know anymore if there was anything there for JHA. I started to feel things that I had not felt in almost 10 years. I had honestly wondered if I was capable of feeling that rush of excitement that so often comes with "new love". With JHA, I felt it once again, and it was nice. Almost addicting. Those brain chemicals are pretty sweet.

The relationship never became physical. For those of you who know me, that is probably surprising. This area was the first hint I had that JHA had not dealt with his HIV status as well as I previously thought. He wanted to take things slow, and mentioned "after Christmas" as a good time to revisit defining our relationship more clearly as well as moving on the physical stage. The goo-goo-ga-ga brain chemicals made me completely OK with that. He was spending a couple of nights a week sleeping over, so I didn't have that feeling of alienation that a sexless dating situation would have over time. Besides, I thought that this could last, so why be hasty?

Of course, that was silly of me to think that it would last. First, when he first met some of my friends at Blake's, he went on a crying jag at the bar over the way one of my friends "spoke" to him. Apparently, he felt that he'd been degraded and talked down to. I didn't see it, but I played the dutiful, supportive boyfriend type. He later fled the scene to hang out with his other friends, which ended up being translated into doing cocaine with them. I didn't know this for a week or so until he revealed that he REGULARLY does cocaine, but nothing like he did in college.

I should have fled at this point, but I didn't. I have no idea what I was thinking, honestly. An active cocaine habit? That's not cool. He swore he only did it every 2-3 months, and he didn't deal it (I asked). Things got even more weird around Christmas, when he left me at a Christmas party to hunt down his ex to "collect" $100. I'm not even sure that was real. He refused to discuss past relationships, although he insinuated that his ex had infected him with HIV. JHA was also full of stories about condoms just "breaking" on him all the time. Having quite a bit of experience with condoms, only ONCE has one broke on me, and you definitely know when it's happened. My guess is that in reality, JHA was high on cocaine at his brother's wedding (where he says he was infected with HIV) and barebacked with someone. Maybe his boyfriend at the time, maybe someone else. It was obviously the wrong person if that is indeed where he got infected. Anyway, JHA knew this ex's passwords to banks, email, etc.....and he checked them REGULARLY. Another major warning sign that something was not right.

So high on brain love chemicals, I went merrily along with all of this, and spent a considerable amount of time putting thought into JHA's Christmas gift. We had had a conversation once about his flagging faith, which was mostly tied up in his HIV status. He figured that if God existed, He wouldn't allow HIV to exist. So I found a book written by an HIV+ man and his reflections on God. It's an excellent book, very moving. I also got him a tie and a bow tie because I knew he loved bow ties. His gift to me? He reached in his backseat and grabbed a mixer that was left over from gifts he'd bought his cousins. And yes, he actually TOLD me that.

He met my mother while she was here for Christmas. We had dinner at my place, and it was pleasant. My mother said afterward that she liked JHA better than my last serious relationship because that guy had been all over me like a cheap suit. But she had a word of caution. She told me that every time he spoke to me, he had a little dig. It wasn't major, but it was noticeable. She did not like the way he spoke down at me or the way he always tried to have a little dig at me. She told me that she realized that we both share the trait of wanting to please the men we are with, even to our own detriment. She told me to be careful, and not to take abuse from anyone. I basically ignored these comments, but it turns out that my mother was quite observant and absolutely correct in her observations.

Then came New Years Eve. I admit that I am a bit silly about my NYE superstitions, like if you are with the one you care about at midnight, it is good luck for your relationship the coming year. But I made clear to JHA that this was how I felt about it, even after he told me that was stupid, because he was with his ex last NYE, and that did not last. However, I was supposed to meet him around 11pm at Wild Mustang to ring in the new year. I was at a Young Democrat house party before that, and about an hour before I was to meet up with JHA, he sends me a text message to not meet him. He had been reading the book I got him for Christmas, and he needed space. He SWORE this was not a break-up, but he needed room to evaluate his life and where he was going. He also promised to call me the next day. Needless to say, he has not spoken to me since.

Oh, he'd text message me, and sometimes email. He never called, claiming he'd had to go to the hospital for strep throat. I sincerely doubt that is true. First, even with HIV, you don't have to go to the hospital for strep. Second, if it WAS true, if he were a man of his word, he would have called me as soon as he was able...or at least texted me. He did neither. I had to text him, asking what had changed that he couldn't keep his word. One thing I cannot stand is for people to lie directly to me, and jerk me around.

Of course, I blamed myself for this "break" that he never could define. He claimed he'd stopped smoking, but seeing him later in January at a bar, he was smoking like a chimney as usual. He claimed a lot of things, I have found, few of which turn out to be true. JHA's behavior toward me was that of a person who'd stepped in dog poo and couldn't get it off his shoe. My patience grew thin.

The finale happened on his birthday. This happened to be a day that was pretty stressful for me where several things happened at once. One of the biggest stressors involved YDG, so I didn't want to vent to anyone in the organization. A president needs to keep up his image after all! But that left very few options for me. My mother's job situation had not cleared itself yet, so I didn't want to vent to her. The only person I trusted to vent to was JHA. He'd been helpful in previous situation where I needed a sounding board, so I texted and asked if I could call him. I should have just called.

His answer back was "no". His reason? It was his birthday, and he shouldn't have to "deal with anyone's sh*t" on his birthday. Any other day, he'd be glad to do listen. But not on his birthday, and it was SELFISH of me to even ask. He also used the excuse that he was in his "best friend's" office and couldn't talk. This best friend is someone I think JHA has a real thing for because he talks about him ALL the time, and spends whatever moments he can with him. JHA is not this friend's cup of tea, so nothing is happening there. JHA would probably give his left nut to change that.

In my world, this kind of behavior by JHA is reprehensible and unforgivable. You don't treat people you claim to care about in this manner, even if it is your birthday. Had the shoe been on the other foot, I would have taken the call, realizing that a friend (let alone someone you're supposedly dating, albeit on a "break") would not call me on my birthday unless the need was very real. But I have found that JHA is quite self-absorbed, and his ability to show empathy to anyone is virtually non-existent. He only considers how something affects him. He couldn't care less how it affects someone else.

So I was really hurt, but I did get an opportunity to vent later that evening. I felt much better, but was still pretty stressed, so I went by Amsterdam for their $3 Long Island Tea special. I was reading one of our local gay rags and sipping my drink, when a piece of cake was placed in front of me. This "piece" of cake was whatever was left over because it was mostly icing and was smashed all over the plate. It was also pink. I asked what this was, and the bartender told me, "It's what's left of 's cake. He asked me to give it to you." At this point, I saw him heading out the door with his gaggle of bar friends with a paper tiara on his head.

Here is how I interpreted this "jesture". First, he obviously saw me come in, although I did not see him. He chose to not even say "Hello" or "kiss my a$$", but instead sent me remnants of his birthday cake to show me that he'd: a) had a party, b) not invited me, and c) wanted to be sure I truly understood a) and b). It was a cheap, tacky stunt that was cruel to boot. I have no idea why he wanted to rub my face in his now-obvious contempt for me, but he did. Now I was just pissed. And a little drunk. So I went on a drunk texting/calling binge. JHA always had his phone with him, so I wanted to tell him live what I thought of him. He never picked up or answered my texts. Sober, I'd take the hint, but considering his behavior earlier in the day combined with this latest stunt, I paid no heed that telling him what I thought of him was not going to happen that night. Many of us have been there, and I was embarrassed the next day that I'd done it. I even apologized in an email to him.

That didn't matter. He read me the riot act on email, telling me that I was "obsessed" and "scary". That turned out to be the last real communication I had with him. Right then, I called another friend to go with me to the JJ Dinner the next week. The last thing I wanted to do was spending what should be a fun night with JHA. I did wait until about an hour before we were supposed to meet for JJ and basically texted him the same message he'd texted me on NYE. I figured he deserved a taste of his own medicine. Considering that Hillary Clinton was going to be at the JJ, I hope this disappointed him, but that's probably a pipe dream. He texted back saying that it was OK, and besides, this wasn't going anywhere, so we should "just call it".

Yes, he was trying to dump me for good via TEXT message! I have never encountered something so cowardly and just LOW RENT. How much more trashy can one be? I wrote him back that if we were over, I deserved a hell of a lot better than a text or email. I demanded it. I'm a grown man, and I should be treated like one. You text a trick you never want to see again. Not someone you've dated. Trashy! Just TRASHY!

So we had some terse email exchanges where he went on his kick of "write me at my gmail, not at work". I figured he was just being an a$$ as usual, so I wrote BOTH places. Never in my time knowing him had he ever answered his gmail, so I figured if I needed a response, I had to write work. This, of course, irritated him. I finally got him to agree to a time for us to meet in person, which I intended to be the last time we'd ever speak. JHA had proven himself to a self-absorbed jerk with a cruel streak, and I deserved MUCH better.

Of course, JHA backed out of that meeting too, reitering how creepy I was for my drunk dialing and texting on his birthday. I had nothing more to add, having already acknowledge that I was wrong and apologized. I hadn't behaved like that since the last time I was awash in the brain love chemicals, except now I had the sense to be embarrassed about it later. The last time he'd stayed over, he took a towel and one of my tshirts for the gym, and I told him to just mail them to me. I certainly have no desire to see him.

Since that last email exchange, I have purged him my email, my phone, and even defriended him on Facebook...which you Web 2.0 folks know is the ultimate "You are Dead To Me" statement. LOL!

The message I take home from this, and that I want to share is that when it comes to dating, we often disable our "jerk radar" or "jerkdar". When you have the quality of friends that I do, you need to give those friends permission to grab you by the collar and tell you to RUN AWAY when they see you trying to date someone tragic. Friends will stick by you, and they generally do have your best interests at heart. I know I will try to listen more carefully next time, and empower my friends to intervene early when they see me going merrily down a path of potential emotional destruction. That lesson almost makes the experience with JHA worth it. Almost.