Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Gloomy Days Of Winter

I decided I’d do something different as it’s been a weird day today … extremely cold, almost freezing here, and snow is getting very close. I actually saw flakes falling a mile north of my house, flurries at home. Strangely enough, Galveston got snow – just three months after Hurricane Ike! Even Seabrook on the coast had an inch of snow! Points north and east of me ended up getting quite a bit of snow, enough to cover the grass!

This is totally bizarre. It’s not even winter yet (and we never get snow before Christmas).

The National Policy Roundtable occurred yesterday (Tuesday). It’s the national gathering of all groups that work on policy work across the country (both national and more localized). Over the years, I’d sensed that NTAC was getting pushed out in favor of the newer, Mara Keisling-led NCTE. It felt even more so this time. I truly miss the Kerry Lobel-era of NGLTF (or even the Kirsten Kingdon-era of PFLAG). Things have never been the same since.

It was also interesting watching the interplay between HRC’s Joe Solmonese and NCTE’s Mara Keisling. It was clear there’s no hard feelings these days between the two parties, even with the words and occurrences over the course of the past year. If anyone is thinking there’s animosity between these two, let me disabuse you of those impressions now.

One item that became news while we were in the Roundtable was the arrest of Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich for blatantly selling the appointment of Senator (filling Barack Obama’s uncompleted term). Yes, selling for money. About the only way he could’ve been more brazen about it would’ve been putting the senate seat up for sale on Ebay. Actually, that would’ve been more open and could’ve brought in some really good money for the state deficit – ah … except this lamebrain was keeping the money for himself.

Reportedly Blagojevich even contacted President-Elect Obama (who was hopeful his friend Valerie Jarrett might get the seat) and attempted to solicit money from them for the seat! Obama apparently told him to take a flying leap (and the Lincoln state Guv had some profanity-filled things to say about the President’s not wanting to play politics the old fashioned, graft way!) What a tool. Some things just never change. Greed is greed is greed.

Republicans have also been pleasantly surprised, and even claiming their own Obama-like victory in – of all places – the most democratic seat in the country: New Orleans, Louisiana! Further more implausibly, this was the first Vietnamese-American elected to a federal congressional seat in a very African-American, democrat district. The GOPers are feeling bulletproof and 90-foot tall. Of course, this wasn’t just any old democrat, but Rep. William “Cold Cash” Jefferson – he who was found to have $90,000 in bribe money stashed in his freezer. And of course, there could be another explanation beyond GOP’s inevitable invincibility. Maybe democrats are just sick of scandal and have a desire to clean house – even if it’s one of their own.

Frankly, this should be an example for Illinois to learn from too. Blagger Buddy’s been caught now like genitalia in a zipper. He ain’t getting out of this one, and there will be pain. He needs to do the honorable thing and resign ASAP, and whomever the replacement is should work to make an open decision free of controversy.

Of course, the Kool-Aid drinkin’ neo-cons are already crankin’ up the scandal-tinged rhetoric and calls for inquisitions. “How dare the Democrats …?” These folks have the memory of moths hitting a burning lightbulb: any light goes on and they race to beat themselves to death against the white hot orb. Apparently, Republicans are supposed to be … what? Scandal-free? Uh … Valerie Plame’s outing? Manipulation of pre-war intelligence for Iraq? Sanctioning torture? Defiance of the Constitution? I could go on ….

Locally we have a GOPer who is Harris County’s Tax Assessor / Collector. Here in Texas, that means he’s the one in charge of voter registration collection (and purging, when he’s of a mind). This year, apparently there was a number of folks who registered to vote and were disallowed. They did everything right, but (against federal voting rights statutes) the man in charge, Tax Assessor Paul Bettencourt, saw fit to not register these new voters. Even though he had a hard-fought re-election, being GOP, he was re-elected (even facing the possible lawsuits of disenfranchising voters). After being re-elected, Bettencourt decided to announce he was resigning. Since the County Judge, Ed Emmett is also Republican, that guarantees that the replacement will be – you guessed it – yet another GOP. It’s become a pretty common tack for GOP folks … run for re-election even when you don’t want to, then resign shortly thereafter in order to have one of your own appointed. It gives them instant name recognition while working and learning via OJT their new political office. It gives the appointee the leg-up on competition when the actual election later takes place.

And after all, Ed Emmett should understand this. When the last County Judge was re-elected, he resigned and had appointed one of his own to replace him … Mr. Emmett. Gee, that’s okay … we voters here in the land of the vapid mind are too stupid to notice that pattern … so they say.

This blogger also found it both expected but also counterintuitive that the Vatican decided to oppose France’s resolution to the U.N. to urge member nations to decriminalize homosexuality. It’s a no-brainer that the Catholic Church would not support the resolution as it violates their stated views on the practice. But to conspicuously oppose it could encourage these same implications towards some of their own priesthood who’ve – ahem – thusly sinned. If keeping it criminalized is something that’s implicitly uniform for all, it’s not exactly a good visual having priests frog-marched in handcuffs to the back of a squad car.

And to wrap things up, Marti Abernathey put out a great blog post on “The Gingrich Who Stole Christmas” (not Newt!) She noted the consistency of Candice Gingrich’s statement on Countdown with Keith Olbermann with the most recent revelation (if you can call it that) from Rep. Barney Frank at a bloggers’ get together in Washington, where he noted pushing for inclusive legislation on employment wasn’t “pragmatic.” That’s right, Ol’ Barn’ is planning on pushing for the status quo in the upcoming congress. Shocked?

It’s true, Barney and HRC and the like are being clever with their wording. Lord knows we trans people are allegedly easy dupes, and some of us actually help self-fulfill their prophecy when we fall prey to that crapola. But cunning and guile shouldn’t cause us to take our eyes off of the patterns that are well-established. We need to begin fighting these attempts now. Yes, we’ll get whines from Mara about needing to “damage control” those of us putting forth these “rumors.”

Keep in mind, the “rumors” that were “damage controlled” last time … ended up being true. Learn from history. If you can’t, the rest of us don’t feel like repeating it with you.

"A winters day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow." — I Am A Rock, Simon & Garfunkel

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