Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Rush Limbaugh Effect: A Never-Ending Season Of Destructive Politics

“Texas is open. And I want Hillary to stay in this, Laura. This is too good a soap opera. We need Barack Obama bloodied up politically, and it's obvious that the Republicans are not going to do it and don't have the stomach for it.” — Rush Limbaugh

Note to myself: Lay off the broccoli & dip for Sunday morning breakfast.

There’s a reason I made the above mental note. I was doing my Sunday morning sabbatical of watching the political shows – in this case “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” roundtable discussion with the pundits. I was munching my breakfast while listening to Donna Brazile making the case for the Obama campaign, while admitting that Clinton won big states: “she won Texas, and she won Ohio ….”

After hearing Texas, I damn near asphyxiated myself with my own breakfast (maybe this is why George Bush Sr. never liked broccoli!) After finally dislodging the broccoli, I got pissed off all over again.

Yesterday the entire state of Texas’ elected delegates to our second level – the State Senate Districts – spent our entire Saturday electing delegates to the Texas State Democratic convention. I am here now to dispel once and for all that Hillary Clinton DID NOT WIN THE MAJORITY OF DELEGATES IN TEXAS.

Word to Donna Brazile, the Clinton Campaign, the media at large: stop perpetuating this false report, please!

“I see that [the Clinton campaign are] threatening to sue in Texas over the selection process down there, delegate-wise, because you can vote twice with the caucuses and with the primaries.” — Rush Limbaugh

Yes, Texas does things differently. We have a vote and we have the media’s so-called “two-step caucuses” (what we call precinct conventions to elect our proportional-strength delegates). It seems confusing, except the wisdom of it is only coming out now. What this does is divvy the party’s national delegates on a proportionate value (via the “caucuses”) based upon traditional party vote in governor’s races. Senate districts all get at least two delegates for each party, but if they are strong GOP or strong Democrat districts, they can have as many as eight (and thus heavier precinct portions). My district’s close to equal Dem to GOP (slightly GOP), and we have five that will go to the national convention.

The reason it’s now become smarter than the “dumb” process people labeled it is the Rush Limbaugh effect. As Republican neo-con stalwarts are disappointed and bored with their race, the only thing they can find to do with themselves is start trouble elsewhere. If they can’t have what they want, they’ll simply trash the whole shebang and flip the bird to America. That’s what good patriotic conservatives like the ever-so-hypocritical Oxycontin-Head Rush Limbaugh are supposed to do.

“We have laws against selling drugs, pushing drugs, using drugs, importing drugs …. if people are violating the law by doing drugs, they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up …. too many whites are getting away with drug use.” — Rush Limbaugh

It turns out that party-switchers have had their effect. Recently there’s been a notable rise in party filing for the Democratic party in Pennsylvania. It could be candidates’ drawing power, though we’ll see how they vote down the ballot and whether it’s (as some have reported) GOP folks registering with the opposition party purely for creating chaos with the hated liberals.

This crossing the aisle, reaching across the aisle is fine and dandy, except it doesn't work. We always end up compromising our core principles to get anything done this way.

In Texas, we’ve already noted a lot of party switching. Large numbers of sudden Democratic voters arrived at sleepy rural county Dem primaries. It could be candidate interest. But it was also noted how frequently these same voters were voting for the president and no other candidate. It was also reported that some of our Texas primary voters were calling in to the conservative talk shows bragging of their renegade disruptions and even commenting they went home afterwards to pray for forgiveness.

Sure enough, as Rush had requested the votes for the conservative-despised Hillary of Clinton-land, Clinton pulled off victories in both Ohio and Texas on the popular votes. Besides Hillary’s expected support in latino strongholds (not surprising), she also carried virtually all rural counties where latinos are quite the minority. It gave her 100,000 votes more than Obama on election night, and that’s all the media reported – 65 delegates for Hillary, 61 for Obama. Hillary also has 11 superdelegates out of our 31, Obama 10. End of story?

“I want the Democrats to lose. They're in the midst of tearing themselves apart right now. It is fascinating to watch, and it's all going to stop if Hillary loses.” — Rush Limbaugh

Time to insert the Dikembe Mutombo finger (a Houston Rocket basketball shot-blocker extraordinaire) and add an emphatic “No, No, No! Not so fast!”

We “dumb Texans” don’t just apportion our delegate strength to all districts equally based upon the vote. Two-thirds of the available vote went based on popular vote when went 51-48 Clinton to Obama. That meant 65 delegates Clinton, 61 Obama. Superdelegates 31 votes will also balance to the overall vote, with two-thirds of them committing now: 11-10 with Clinton holding the slight lead.

But the last third is weighted to favor Dem strongholds – folks who traditionally vote (and would be presumed more knowledgeable) on our party candidates. This is where the major cities and strong Dem districts came out for Obama.

An unusual conglomeration developed that became Obama strengths beyond the African-American vote. The intellectual white crowd, the outsourced-and-offshored crowd, progressive college students, Arab-Americans, the aging hippie/biker set and transgender and trans-supportive gay and lesbian backers made a big and visible difference in this race for Obama. Clinton won over most of the white vote outside of intellectual and outsourced (esp. the establishment Dem set), most all non-black women, most latinos, virtually all Asian-American non-Arab, most all recent white Republican converts (esp. women) and most gay and lesbian voters that were not of the trans-supportive defections (read: the HRC set). Non-Arab Indian were pretty evenly divided.

The only surprises I noted were the Asian-Pacific bloc on Hillary’s side (even my next-door neighbor’s adamant support) and the white Republicans on Hillary’s side. I was led to believe they were more in support of Obama (and indeed I worked with one lady to convince her convert husband to switch from Hillary to Obama with her). As it played out in my precinct and others I noted, they all went Hillary – with one latino GOP couple in my precinct going for Obama. I don’t know what happened there.

“The problem I do have with it is that it appears that it's an appeal to the media and it's an appeal to the Democrats. It's a desire to please them. I would love for Senator McCain to start treating liberal Democrats the way he is treating conservative Republicans. I'd like to see him throw some of them under his bus.” — Rush Limbaugh

In my senate district, the reported apportioning based on delegates to our precinct conventions (caucuses) was 81 for Obama, 46 for Clinton. Even our precincts voted heavily Obama, 73 elected delegate from precincts to 20 for Clinton (the differences made up in at-large senate selections.). The reports have it that Obama ended up with 60% of the delegates statewide in the last third.

Using those calculations, with the 71 remaining delegates in our “caucuses”, Obama gets 43, Clinton gets 28 (60-40%). Add 43 to 61 (popular vote) and 10 superdelegates and you have 114 Obama delegates. Clinton gets 28 plus 65 (popular vote) and 11 superdelegates or 104.

That gives Barack Obama a ten vote advantage right now, with only ten more superdelegates undecided. Even if Hillary Clinton managed to rope in all 10 of those votes, that only ties her with Obama at best. Even if Obama picks up one more of those superdelegates, he wins the Texas primary.

As a post-script, all my blockwalking, campaigning and organizing paid off again. My precinct, though for the time chaired by a Clinton supporter, went for my candidate (21 Obama to 9 Clinton), and elected our two Obama delegates (those with votes) and left the alternates to Clinton. For the third straight presidential campaign, my precinct is sending a transgender – yours truly – to the Texas State convention, and hopefully to Denver. And my co-delegate, an African-American male attorney, and I have already worked very well as a team and I’m coaching him to take his first delegate trip all the way up there with me!

Note to Harold Ickes of the Hillary Rodham Clinton campaign, and the Human Rights Campaign: in close elections, when you dismiss or take for granted a segment even as small as the transgender community, it can come back to bite you. We’re more than willing to repay like in kind …!

“If Senator McCain attempts to identify Obama as a liberal on a few things, we don't have time to list them here. Obama could retort, "Well, Senator, you supported our party. You supported us on that issue” ….” — Rush Limbaugh

“There’s no way in hell I could ever pull the lever for John McCain” — talkshow hostess, Laura Ingraham

“[McCain’s presidency is] going to destroy the Republican Party. It's going to change it forever, be the end of it. A lot of people aren't going to vote. You watch”. — Rush Limbaugh

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Super Shell!: Gender Identity Now Covered In Oil Giant’s Employment Policy

“I get up at seven AM, I go to work at nine.
I got no time for living, yeah, I’m working all the time ….” — Working Man, Rush

Sometimes it’s just a matter of being in the right place at the right time and nothing more than some well-placed comments.

Today I got a surprise Email from a fellow NTAC-er and local friend Sara Rook forwarded a note from Shell’s GLBT group rep, Elaine DeCanio notifying that Shell Oil has finally completed the circle and included gender identity in its equal employment opportunity policy!

A few weeks back, fresh from getting a trans-inclusive policy passed at Key Bank, I’d asked Sara about the policy at Shell. Her report back to me wasn’t positive: she’d been working on it for close to twelve years, nothing had happened and no one in HR seemed to care.

At the time I asked her who I could go to, but was instructed that we contract folks couldn’t approach them on this. Shell could not care less about "getting a 100% score on HRC's report card." Closed case, no shot, oh well ….

While here I haven’t been overt about being trans, but still dropped a comment to the person whose duties I’d assumed and office I’d inherited. She’s a very supportive straight friend, had known one of my former GLBT Shell employee friends. Fern’s been a big backer of mine, and apparently I made a good impression in a short month with her and at least a couple of the account executives here as well (one of whom I believe is GLBT).

Fern’s old office (now mine) is in a corner flanked by two employees’ offices with the rainbow flags on their nameplates – Bill who I’d met in other local GLBT organization functions, and the other being … Elaine DeCanio. Both Bill and Elaine have been friendly, increasingly so as my tenure has continued.

When coming on, I noted around the coffee machine that this didn’t seem an optimal employment opportunity with all things considered – noting some of the “policy shortfalls.” Apparently my comment and those about my unnamed trans friend (Sara’s) disappointment in the policy made the rounds. As it turns out, I didn’t even have to do a thing afterwards.

Elaine spent the afternoon in the U.S. corporate offices downtown, so I haven’t had the chance to see her yet. But I did drop into Bill’s office and asked about Elaine. He flashed a broad smile and noted she was down there all afternoon working on retirement and “other” issues and had been a proponent on the policy expansions for some time.

All of this gets me to thinking – why the hell do we need a Human Rights Campaign, or any of those other Washington DC folks who are there to soak up money, put their faces on TV and names in print and provide little to nothing in return? If we can get it done without them, who needs them? Seriously!

The way I look at it, I may be the “negative tranny” and Public Enemy #1 to those folks.
Great. Enjoy that! I’m quite proud and happy to be Public Enemy #1 and welcome every bit of bile and character impugning you wish to throw my way if it means getting stuff done in concrete fashion. In fact, I look forward to the next NTAC-bashing.

I’ll take that any day of the week over our “heroes” and the scant difference they make in our lives. And I can guarantee they won’t do anywhere near this many actual policies changed or ordinances expanded for zero dollars! Match that HRC, et. al.

As we just heard got word of this around 4PM, I’m not sure if this is just Shell U.S. or if its global policy … I’ll update that later. Hopefully this (like Key) will be global.

After such a difficult week at work, it’s nice to get a bit of good news over the Email for a change. Message to Sara … if you read this, drop me an Email and let me know if you can make a trip out here to wild, wild West (Houston). And bring a little bit of money.

It seems we owe Elaine a lunch – and some high fives all around!

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community.... Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.” — Cesar Chavez, founder of National Farm Workers Assn.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Taking Pot Shots At Trans Rights

“I was sitting in my basement.
I just rolled myself a taste
Of something green and gold and glorious
To get me through the day.” — I Got Stoned And I Missed It, Shel Silverstein

“"I have always loved marijuana. It has been a source of joy and comfort to me for many years. And I still think of it as a basic staple of life ….” — author, Hunter S. Thompson

Another day, another … reason to go get stoned.

It’s too damn bad I stopped buying that stuff back in the mid 80’s. It’s not been an especially good weekend. We just reached a new and ignominious milestone in the War in Iraq. 4000 deaths.

A new friend of mine I met during our precinct convention (or Texas Two-Step caucus as the media likes to tag it) Emailed me today to say she couldn’t make it to next weekend’s senate district convention as a delegate. It turns out that she was notified that her grandson was one of those reported killed in Iraq this weekend. After the initial shock of Billy’s news, my thoughts then immediately went out to my own nephew who’s over there right now. Another fresh, innocuous Army face doing the honorable thing on the front lines … I can’t imagine what he’s thinking.

On top of that, two friends – one a former co-worker, and another one of the delegates from my precinct, are losing jobs at the end of the month.

Maybe there’s hope on the horizon. It seems there’s a decriminalization bill for small amounts of marijuana that is making it’s way through the processes in the U. S. House of Representatives. We can all just catch a buzz and fuggeddaboudit!

And guess who spoke out in favor of this bill …? Rep. Barney Frank, the top congressional GLBT (and I add the T though I fully realize we have no representation up on the Hill) member on the Hill. Yep, the same Barney Frank who knew we didn’t have enough support for a fully inclusive Employment Non Discrimination Act because, well, you know … we can’t have transgender people working in jobs around children and stuff. Especially not with the almost-daily reports of transgenders molesting kids and stuff … wherever the hell that raft of case histories came from.

Or maybe they weren’t there after all. Probably just all the pot smoke ….

“But you've got to understand. I want to be president. I want to lead. I want to set– Do you want your little kid to say, "Hey, Daddy. President Bush tried marijuana. I think I will?" — the Texas Gov. George W. Bush in taped interview with confidant Doug Wead

“Am I high? Just look in my eyes.
If you could see them from the other side,
You’d still be wonderin’ “Am I High?”” — Am I High?, Asleep At The Wheel

Oh yeah, back to Barney … he explained it this way: "Many elected officials are hesitant to support any proposals that might be viewed as weakening our drug laws, but I believe this is a common sense idea that will give some people who are suffering a measure of relief."

In fact, Barney even gave high-fives to GOPpers supporting the bill as well. GOP maverick Ron Paul of Texas, and conservative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) are supporting the measure. That’s pretty impressive. Indeed, it does have some common sense to it, even if it is a pretty controversial topic.

"Do you really think people should be prosecuted for smoking marijuana? I don’t think most people agree with that.” Actually, I’d agree with him on that. Pot is not a dangerous, addictive drug in the vein of opiate, amphetamine or cocaine based drugs. The question is, has the party chair done a “whip count” to poll and see how many of the other Reps are supportive of this? Did they listen to the worried freshmen whom may be frightened about supporting such a political hot potato?

Who’d have thunk it, hmm? We’re living in a day – even in the same congressional session – where we could see gay rights and marijuana legalization with realistic chances of passage!

And as for transgenders? Sorry! Not a snowball’s chance in hell, babies!

“It's Public Enemy, Number One!
Women Cry For It - Men Die For It!
The Sweet "Pill" That Makes Life BITTER!
Adults Only!
Drug Crazed Abandon!
Sin - degradation - vice - insanity!” — Movie Trailer soundbites from “Reefer Madness” (1936)

“Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.” — conservative pundit, William F. Buckley Jr.

What this clearly communicates is even if you’re a fully law-abiding transgender, you’re still lower than a pot-smoker who may be breaking the law. Ain’t that ducky?

It’s Barney’s way of saying “If you break a law because of pot, you can get a job – hell, we’ll make it legal, so you can be legit! But you transsexuals? We ain’t hiring! Back out to the shadowy streetcorners with ya, with the other hookers and lowlifes where ya belong!”

It’s kinda sad. I had a dream that some day we’d be at least as good, maybe even considered a little better than -potheads. Oh well, it was a nice pipe-dream, I suppose. We still haven’t even risen to the level of child molesters yet! They often keep their jobs – even in religious organizations and churches.

But don’t let them catch you transitioning from one gender to the other! Horrors! You’ll be tossed out with little hesitation!

Very few studies have been allowed to be compiled on support from the public for equal employment opportunities for transgenders. However, they have shown a consistent result: the majority of respondents support trans inclusion in employment legislation. In the North Carolina study that HRC contracted (and buried shortly thereafter), a slightly higher percentage supported trans inclusion in the workplace over sexual orientation!

And yet … there’s not the support for us transgenders on the Hill. Barney Frank says so. We’ve not done any education or lobbying on Capitol Hill for trans rights, said Barn. Done a piss poor job, according to his opinion. So it must be fact, right? The dude’s bitchin’, he wouldn’t shaft us.

He’s been the transgender community’s hero for years! No one has worked harder! That’s what we’ve all heard from … from somewhere. I don’t remember where. Or maybe it didn’t happen at all … I don’t know. Hey, what do you expect? Stoners are more lucid and employable than us trannies.

On the pot legalization bill, Barney noted that, “it’s one area where the public is ahead of the elected officials.”

Actually there have been a few studies on equal employment opportunities for transgenders. The consistent result has shown a majority of the public support trans inclusion in employment legislation. Oh, I said that already? I forgot. Hey-y-y! Barney was right! The public IS ahead of the elected officials! Oh, wow ….

“A drunkard wants another drink of wine, a politician wants a vote.
I don't want much of nothin' at all, but I will take another toke.” — Long-Haired Country Boy, Charlie Daniels

"I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone ... but they've always worked for me." — author, Hunter S. Thompson

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Welcome To The Bush-Leagues

“And the great owners, who must lose their land in an upheaval, the great owners with access to history, with eyes to read history and to know the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need. And the little screaming fact that sounds through all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. The great owners ignored the three cries of history. The land fell into fewer hands, the number of dispossessed increased, and every effort of the great owners was directed at repression.” — John Steinbeck from the novel “The Grapes Of Wrath”

A friend I just made at our recent precinct convention whose helping coordinate our delegation for Obama just found out her position writing contracts has dried up and she’s going temp now. With the foreclosures starting to pop up again here, and my friends losing jobs, it’s almost like Reaganomics again. So far, we haven’t seen the folks mailing in their house keys and walking from their homes as they do up north, but how far away can this be if our jobs start evaporating again? I still recall the 17–18% unemployment days of the 80’s ….

With all of the news on the economy lately, the pain at the pump and the grocery store, the skyrocketing insurance, medical care and housing costs along with the flatlined wages (if indeed we still have a job!) for the overwhelming majority of this country, the President spoke from New York financial district just over a week ago on how the economy is resilient, strong and how we’re not in a recession! What the hell is this guy snorting?!?

The only person in the country that truly buys that garbage is Dickless Cheney! What kind of reaction is he expecting, and how clueless is he making the Republican Party look?

Sayeth the W: “Our economy obviously is going through a tough time. The challenge is not to do anything foolish.” Yeah, like borrowing money from China to give every American a $600 rebate check to … go out and spend on more stuff (not save and pay off bills) and drive up the National Debt and drive our dollar down on those same Chinese (and other nation’s) imports with our ever-devaluing dollar, thanks to our inability to pay off debt and drive away foreign investors in dollars. Sadly, this is something both parties think is a great idea – instant economic boom! I’m not close to being an economist, but that’s so stupid it insults even my intelligence – limited as it may be!

On the subject of foolish … Bush also had the audacity to repeat that the economy is still “fundamentally strong” (WHAT?!?) and was not going to admit we’re in a recession even though the experts, the regular joes in America and even the failing banks (like Bear-Stearns) are all screaming that we’re already in the recession. At the very least we’re in stagflation that’s making the Nixon-Ford era of this look like child’s play! At one point, our illustrious prez thought the subject was so funny, he cracked himself up on the podium. Seriously.

But Bush-baby wasn’t done! “It’s important not to overcorrect, because when you overcorrect you end up in the ditch.” Too bad the economy and the country have been stuck in the money-draining ditch known as Iraq for longer than the Vietnam War now! We never even tried to finish Afghanistan or the hunt for Bin Laden … does anyone remember Bin Laden? 9/11?

“So welcome back baby, to the poor side of town.” — Poor Side Of Town, Johnny Rivers

So here we are in probably the most difficult economy since the Great Depression and we can’t get much more than a bit of press from the Dems – but they seem too intent on tearing down each other. Economy doesn’t get much press. Meanwhile, friends from my former job are losing their jobs at the end of this coming month and prospects are drying up out there. My sister, a single mom of two in the title insurance biz who gets zero help from her deadbeat ex is feeling the pinch at her job.

At least my temp positions have kept me going the past few years – nothing to be able to catch up, but it pays the bills in demand. My current job ends July 1 when we complete the transition phase of moving our American home office finance department processes (two miles from my home) to India.

Oh, did I tell you this is one of the major oil producers/refiners in the world? Yes, times are purportedly tough in big Oil, and they need to be mindful of maximizing their bottom line.

If oil companies with their record-shattering quarterly and annual profits are finding it necessary to outsource and offshore their functions, can there be any company that can really afford to keep employees in America? Even with stagnant wages, we’re still too expensive to hire. Making it more attractive, these corporations can actually avoid taxes by producing overseas. Making more money and paying few taxes, what a deal!

Maybe if our dollar falls far enough, we can start attracting back jobs like those burgeoning third-world countries. We can be a cheaper version of China’s workforce, though we’ll have to get rid of all our benefits, shitcan the OSHA safety standards, and always remember we need to work with no expectation of raises, bettering our collective lot or retiring. You see, we workforce folk are a dime a dozen … really more like a penny a dozen with stagflation.

The root of our current problem is that nobody learned from history. We’ve been through this economy before a century ago with Pres. William McKinley and the robber-baron era. How we got out of it was what once made Detroit great and was championed most famously by Henry Ford. It was a simple concept really. Produce a product that is affordable to the masses (though an ultimate essential), and pay the workforce that produces it a generously competitive wage.

You don’t make as much profit per unit and don’t do as well early on, but then all your workers are eligible to buy your product – increasing your market and pushing overall revenue and profits up. America today is all about maximizing their profit margin and looking at nothing beyond the next quarter. Jack up prices, keep your employees desperate and hold the wages low.

Then a funny thing happened … suddenly only the rich had money to spend. And the vast remainder of the country didn’t … and didn’t spend any more. And the less we spend, the more stores close and factories lay off … which means even few people spend, and profits wane and on and on the cycle goes.

If the government really wants to fix the issue, they’ll give tax breaks only domestically and only to those companies whose top-level officers and owners make no more than 25 times their lowest-level employees wage. Those who want their profit and paychecks much heftier can just pay a comparatively heftier share of taxes on it. Author Thomas Friedman said the “world is flat” for the American workforce … I say it’s time to flatten out the CEO paychecks in similar fashion.

And we don’t want to hear the righteous indignation and outrage of the privileged “good old boy club” complaining about having to shell out for taxes! Tell it to the employee who just got pink-slipped or the former homeowner who was just foreclosed on.

“The fields are all bare and the cotton won’t grow,
Me and my family got to pack up and go,
But I’ll make a living – just how I don’t know
’cause I’m busted.” — Busted, Nazareth

“They're workin' away our spirits, tryin' to make us cringe and crawl, takin' away our decency.” — Henry Fonda as Tom Joad from the movie, “The Grapes Of Wrath”

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Shock And Awe, Five Years Hence

“It is better, to fight against inflation (war only brings destruction)
And to build … build a better nation (war only brings destruction)
Everybody must have a place (war only brings destruction)
All this hate must become a memory (war only brings destruction)” — War In The East, D.O.A.

Shock! It went by so fast, and snuck up with no warning. Suddenly, it hit.

It’s been five years since the Iraq War began.

Five and a half years ago, I was arguing strenuously with those agreeing with going into Iraq – even my own dad (a blue-dog Dem, no less) who thought it was a good idea. Former CIA estimates, Sec. of State Colin Powell’s statements at the beginning of Bush-baby’s presidency, and first-hand accounts of former Gen. Scott Ritter – one of America’s own who was a weapons inspector in Iraq for years – none of it made one good damn bit of difference. There was just enough of a majority for Bush/Cheney to self-justify war, and off we lemmings went.

The months and weeks leading up to the war were like the twilight zone: surreal. I couldn’t believe that so many people, and virtually the entire media empire were bought into this “threat” from Saddam Hussein as vengeance for 9/11. Ironically, the only news that was showing the deceit and duplicity in all its glory, the only news reporting the real story was the Daily Show with Jon Stewart … from Comedy Central! It floored me that no one but the comedians could see truth – similar to medieval days when only the court jesters dared speak truth to the king. And, of course, it was always laughed off by all – it’s from a joker, what could they know?


The week before the War, we held a war protest here in Houston – one of the largest in the country with well over 10,000 joining. Yet, even with this, and the few American cities that actually drew more than us here in Bush’s back yard, nowhere did our numbers come close to European cities which drew totals in the hundreds of thousands – and it wasn’t even their president leading them off a cliff!

“Had a dream, it was war,
And they couldn’t tell me what it was for.
But it was something they could lie about,
Something we could die about ….” — Had A Dream, Roger Hodgson

With all of the delays in the war, I was hopeful that somehow we would just bluff our way around and never follow it into Iraq. Right before the date given for the beginning of the Iraq War, I’d scheduled a trip to Philadelphia for the IFGE conference, with two side trips to Washington DC – one for the National LGBT Health Coalition Lobby Days (NTAC, the group I chaired, was one of its original members) and after a two-day return to Philly, a second trip for the National Policy Roundtable at NGLTF headquarters. Between all the aforementioned, plus an NTAC Board meeting at IFGE on its final day before I flew back home from Philly, I really didn’t have much time to watch the war unfold.

On the night it was supposed to take place, I stayed with a dear friend, Kathy Padilla, and we talked about the war and the general direction this country was headed. Waking up Monday morning, I was hopeful – war hadn’t begun that previous night as was advertised. It seemed I was overanxious over what was going to be nothing after all.

After checking in and parking my rental car at Mara Keisling’s apartment in DC, I grabbed a Metro train and headed directly to the Health Coalition’s pre-lobby day conference at the Press Club in downtown DC. Sitting at the “tranny table” with friends Jessica Xavier, Lorraine Sade Baskerville and Ben Singer, as the day went on I began putting thoughts of this new war further out of mind. It wasn’t happening – we were safe after all!

At 4:15, one of the speakers came up to the podium for a brief interruption: America had just begun the bombing in Iraq. An uneasy numbness set in as the last hour of the meeting wound down. I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t the only person who’s interest level in subjects at hand dropped a few notches.

After the conference ended, I had an hour to waste before walking the two blocks south to our reception. Just downstairs from the conference banquet room, I stood transfixed before the bank of large-screen TVs. Each was turned to a different network, all were showing the same live shots of bombs blasting Baghdad. I could not believe our country was actually doing this! For all the Republicans specious claims about Clinton imitating the movie Wag The Dog (premise of which was an administration creating conditions for a war for political gain and avoiding scandal), here we were watching Wag The Dog unfold before our very eyes by these very same Republicans!

And in Orwellian fashion, the press bought it hook, line and sinker and helped sell it to the masses! I stood there alone watching the images, knowing what was true, and what apparently very few in the nation saw. I watched America bomb a country that had nothing to do with the reason we were engaging in this same war. And I was watching it in the Press Club – national symbol of the very institution who did a marvelous job helping to sell it to America’s Barnum Babies! No checks or balances, no keeping government honest this time … just peddling the canned message and giving it the hard-sell.

For the next hour or so, watching the bombs on TV then later walking to the Thomas Building for the reception and even the beginning of the reception, I felt very detached.

“Newspaper lies and government cries
Of war in the east and war in the west –
Fighting one another, killing for big brother,
The Mideast and Africa too ….” War In The East — D.O.A.

Arriving at the Thomas Building, I was vaguely aware of where it was located – just a block east of the White House. One block east was the very man who had his finger figuratively on “the button”, and who was “stable” enough to push for this elective war. Who knew what he was capable of doing?

After an hour, the gathering at the reception had loosened up a little with the snacks and wine. We half-joked about not being able to catch flights back home and shared our disbelief at what had just happened. One of our hosts grabbed our attention and asked if we were enjoying ourselves at the reception – polite applause afterwards. It was a nice distraction, all considered. Then he replied, “good, I hope you really enjoy it because you can’t leave.” Polite laughter.

Again he reiterated, “No, you really can’t leave – they’ve locked down all traffic in and out of downtown Washington. It seems we have a bomb threat in the reflecting pool just south of us and they’ve requested everyone to remain in place.”

Over the uneasy murmurs, I swear you could’ve heard my heart splattering on the floor at that moment. Here I was, right as the Iraq War starts, a block from the White House! Miles from my rental car, over a hundred miles from where I fly back home from, and over a thousand miles from home … what great fortune. I could get blown to bits with the same jerkweeds who decided to start a war “just because,” and I couldn’t even get away from these bozos to save my own life!

What little humor there was died at that moment. Lorraine Sade Baskerville and I just stood there staring at each other with the same stunned look on our faces. We put on our brave faces, but I could see the fear there … and would imagine my own was showing as well. It’s hard to describe that moment in time. Surreality isn’t even close to an apt descriptor. To those of us at that reception, we immediately knew this war would have stark consequences – even if indirectly so.

As it later turned out, that the bomb threat just happened to be a crazy coincidence which had nothing to do with the war – it was a disgruntled farmer pissed off about his tobacco farm subsidies being cut, and decided at that moment in time to drive his tractor into the reflecting pond in front of the White House and make empty threats of having a bomb. The next day, those stunned lobbyists did as I did: we worked our congressional offices in machine-like fashion, professional but emotionless. In every congressional office, the TV’s were on and tuned to the war. We’d watch along with the staff for a few minutes, shake our heads collectively, then break and head for the next appointed rounds – the strangest lobbying foray I’ve ever worked.

“I don’t care what the future brings,
Give a damn about anything,
I’d be fine if they’d only leave me alone.
But it’s time, gotta take a chance
‘Cause I won’t get a second chance.
And I know now I’ll have to make it alone.” — Had A Dream, Roger Hodgson

So now we find ourselves five years hence. Iraq is better than it has been the previous year, but it’s much worse off than it was shortly after the war began – or even before it. The war has created a geopolitical vacuum that’s created new threats unforeseen and largely not possible before it.

America’s additionally exacerbated our armed forces with over 100,000 on disability due to injuries and nearly 4,000 dead. Our fighter planes, artillery, vehicles and other materiel are wearing out much faster than expected, and certainly much quicker than for what budgets prepared. And oil, though stabilized and secured in Iraq, didn’t remain stable but has instead skyrocketed.

This has created much quicker need for fuel additives to stretch oil further, such as corn for ethanol. What wasn’t planned was the escalating cost to corn, causing a corn-growing boom that began supplanting previous wheat growth as corn became the new cash crop. With wheat farming reduced at the same time drought and global demand rose, wheat became both scarce and prices also began their climb.

In the midst of all of this, we had our own economic woes domestically. War in this iteration was outsourced as much as possible to maximize profit. Meanwhile, interest rates rose as did costs on virtually everything else while domestic wages went flat. As more people lost their homes and went bankrupt, the vast consumer base began fearing the future and holding onto their paychecks. And we now see the beginnings of the layoffs as Americans stop spending on anything but essentials.

While the Bush Administration struggles to search for a way out of this corner they’ve painted us into, there’s one fact that can’t be avoided. We can’t afford to bail ourselves out any more. Our money goes to Iraq for the war. Any stopgap loans like those to pay for the $600 economic stimulus tax rebates get borrowed from our dear friends, China. And all the borrowing America does only helps devalue the dollar further, making those same outsourced-job-produced imports even more expensive.

Five years. I’m in awe. I’m awestruck at how comprehensively this war has changed us all. I don’t look at our country the same way, I damn sure don’t look at our leaders the same way, and I’ve even learned not to simply dismiss conspiracies the way I did after hearing the conjectural rants in the previous decade. Maybe conspiracies aren’t there, but one thing that is for certain is the level and the stunning depth of manipulation has increased dramatically in the new millennium, and how deftly it’s played and how well it succeeds.

One might consider it … shocking. Shock and Awe indeed.

“There is at the outset a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I, and others, have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor -- both black and white -- through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam and I watched the program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war, and I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.” — Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at a speech given exactly one year before his assassination

Sunday, March 9, 2008

What Fresh Hell Is This?

“So immoral, working on the thing can drive you mad. That's what happened to this friend of mine. So he had a lobotomy. Now he's well again.” — Fox Harris as J. Frank Parnell, from the movie Repo Man

There was an interesting article from New York’s Gay City News that made the rounds recently. They reported on Mara Keisling’s American Tour date in the Big Apple (following on the heels of the recent HRC banquet protest – opportune timing), beginning with a bit of what impressed them as “a Las Vegas comedy act from the '60s.”

The article then noted, “Keisling gave HRC and the House Democratic leadership their due.” From that it sounds as if they were treated to more of the same press she’s given the past few months.

They then reported that Keisling, “commended HRC and Congressman Barney Frank, a Massachusetts Democrat and ENDA champion, for advancing transgender issues. Last fall, Frank was widely criticized for "throwing trans people under the bus."

"Congressman Frank really, really wants to protect transgendered people," Keisling said per the Gay City News article.

I had to re-read that again to make sure I was reading it correctly.

It was just a couple weeks ago that the tit-for-tat press battle from just a couple weeks ago was reported in this same Gay City News. Now they’re being commended? What exactly changed recently? Regarding HRC, there’s been no change between them and the trans community specifically, unless there was something behind-the-scenes. Either way, this is a stark departure between the words of NCTE’s board members, specifically Steve Glassman and Donna Cartwright’s open letter and board chair Meredith Bacon’s stunning takedown of HRC.

Lest we forget, it was Barney Frank who bolted from the original inclusive bill and began pushing separate bills (obviously one bill much more eagerly than the other – you can imagine which one). Not only was Barney Frank pushing for separation and by extension abandonment of employment rights on the House ENDA bill, but also was its prime cheerleader in the gay press.

It makes all the more astonishing the comment from Keisling that Rep. Barney Frank “really, really wants to protect transgendered people.” Eternal skeptic that I am, there’s been far too much history to be so quick to forgive and easy to forget. When it comes to the rank-and-file ground-level trans folks who’ve kept a wary distance, there’s been no such forgiveness or amnesia from any of the above parties: HRC, Barney Frank or NCTE.

“First she’s up, then she’s down. Can’t decide … Merry-go-round.
First she’s in, then she’s out. Can’t decide ….” — Merry-Go-Round, the Producers

So why this sudden about face from Barney Frank?

Perhaps there’s been a bit of scrambling around for damage control on Ol’ Barn’s behalf: I’ll call it the Shame Factor. While Barney’s been giving a mighty push equality (for gays and lesbians only), but he hails from Massachusetts, one of the most liberal states in the union which has any amount of rights for gays and lesbians – even marriage! – and yet no protections whatsoever for transgenders.

To that end, the gay and lesbian orgs in the state of Mass. is trying to wipe egg off of face and play catch up, and Barney just recently deigned the state effort with his ever-important (at least in Mass. and GLBT circles) endorsement. That’s a huge departure for Barney. However, does this seem like something of Barney’s own volition, or more akin to Gov. George Wallace going back and apologizing for his all-too-obvious-and-glaringly-antipathic history? Having dealt with his pomposity once before and watching it unfold in recent months in the media against all our supporters in the gay and lesbian community outside of HRC, my money’s on the latter.

The recent scuttlebutt says that Barney’s coordinating a hearing before Congress on transgender employment issues with HRC leading the effort, and Mara Keisling serving as the transgender coordinator lining up the participants. So where does this leave us on the current marketing message that Barney’s suddenly our friend and hero again?

“The most intense of burning hells,
Blasting expectations into smithereens.” — 59 Times The Pain, Husker Du

On face value, it sounds positive. But something sounds too cosmetic, too quickly arranged, too contrived. It feels too much like buying a suspiciously clean looking vehicle from a dirt-lot used car dealer in poor-town offering E-Z Term financing (spelled with two letters to pander to those simple dupes they hope to draw in and capitalize upon). And like all the other working stiffs standing around looking at the gleaming paint job, kicking the tires and scratching my head, my gut is screaming “caveat emptor!”

We’ve been down the road with all three parties – Frank, Solmonese (et. al.) and Keisling (previously Wilchins) – and we in Trans America still remember the previous deals we bought. There were great expectations, a really attractive product pushed and a great sales pitch proffered with a wide smile. But the only thing that ever came from it was disappointment and the distinct feeling of being burned. When all came to light, Frank and Solmonese began pointing fingers at each other, and Keisling jumped out and pointing fingers at both with loud claims that she was burned and we shouldn’t trust them. In the article Mara even managed to insert: “"Some are still afraid of the gay thing" – a nice little Barney-esque dig. Maybe repayment for the “people with transgender” comments? TouchĂ©.

"We have to show Barney Frank 220 votes. If we show him 220 votes, nobody is going to work harder on this. The same with HRC... It's going to happen again next year." — Mara Keisling, Exec. Dir. of NCTE in Gay City, 3/6/08

So here we find ourselves walking down the same road, and lo, here’s Keisling with the advertised message above on the NCTE billboard. Nobody is going to work harder than Barney Frank … apparently including folks like Rush Holt or Jerry Nadler, et. al. if this is to be believed. And the same goes for HRC, and it’ll happen again next year.

From my skeptic’s mind, I look at the wording and immediately wonder what “it” is that’s going to “happen again next year.” It comes from standing here on the outside looking at the “product” that’s packaged and sold to the masses from “inside.” Never knowing what’s being constructed in there means you’re always scrutinous if you’re experientially wise.

And if not, well … for every sheep there’s always a willing market for a fleece. Enjoy your shearing!

“There’s no fool like an old fool” — saying first published in John Heywood’s proverb collection, 1546

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Texas Political Dogfighting … And How Did I End Up In The Middle Of This Again?

“I am a new day rising.
I'm a brand new sky
to hang the stars upon tonight.” — Times Like These, Foo Fighters

Sorta short blog post tonight, y’all – I’m wiped the hell out.

This whole primary season was a once-in-a-lifetime. I’ve never seen anything like it in either of two presidential primaries I’ve run. Far and away, there was more interest in this than both of the previous elections combined.

Three years ago, I decided not to run for reelection for precinct chair / election judge as there was another warm body to fill it. She was interested; I’d already done it for six years – why not?

“Why not” was explained in all its glory this election season. For the first time in two decades, Texas’ primary actually had two front running candidates in contention on the Dem side – both serious presidential material. Moreover, our precinct was flipped to blue five years back, and it’s large – four square miles with nearly 5000 voters and counting.

As fate would have it, my successor at precinct chair (lesbian) was devoted to Hillary Clinton. Being trans, and knowing Hillary’s history and her expressed sentiments on trans people in employment over the years (not to mention the ultra-closeness with HRC), I couldn’t sit aside and just watch. Barack Obama was on an eleven-state win streak, and Hillary needed wins in Ohio and Texas to put herself back in the game.

And the lead up to elections was a dogfight. There was the Clinton commercial heavily played in Texas with the red-phone, trying to play upon voters’ fears about Obama as president – shades of LBJ and the atom bomb commercial circa 1964. Then there was her LGBT statement to the community noting her trans support by pointing out her sponsorship of the senate ENDA bill – a transgender-excluded ENDA. Then immediately before, we had Rush Limbaugh instructing Republicans to cross lines and vote for Hillary in order to extend the campaign contention. Nothing like being a shit-stirrer – ‘dem good ol’ family values, eh Head-Rush?

For me locally, the precinct chair was providing me zero info – with good reason. Less the voters knew where to vote and caucus, the better for her and her candidate.

Less than a week out, I finally discovered our voting location – in a different precinct (while that precinct had to vote a couple miles further down the road!) Yep, let’s jerk the Dems around some more … rattle the cage. Did I mention our County Clerk (who oversees elections) is conservative?

Election day hit with a bang: my precinct chair wasn’t going to be friendly and allow me the “caucus packet” for our “caucus” (they’re still really precinct conventions to us). Later I spoke with my Obama campaign organizer, Anuj Gupta, who gave more wonderful news: the clerk’s office was not including enough sign-in sheets for the delegation. After a quick search, I found the form on the County Dem Party website (thank God!) and printed up 21 pages (with twelve lines per page). With 26 total pages to sign in, we easily filled them – 379 people signed in.

Between the long lines to sign in, my precinct chair’s histrionics when she thought she was being trumped by me (and taking her ball and going home) and a too-small room that was too warm mixed with impatient screamers, it was barely contained chaos. So … guess who had to take control and run the meeting? I thought I was over this three years ago, and I wanted my candidate to win … but I thought it was someone else’s turn in the hotseat. The convention (caucus) chair ended up being another girl who just thought it would be cool – no idea what chairing a meeting that emotional was about. So I had to play ventriloquist and feed her the lines she needed to say, explain the processes, and announce the delegates.

“I am a little divided.
Do I stay or run away
and leave it all behind?” Times Like These, Foo Fighters

The counting was contentious, the two camps were testier than cornered porcupines and the throng was yelling down our backs. Tempers flared, and I even had to cut one lady off at the knees at one point. She has no idea how close I was to snatching her bald. Even the Obama supporters wouldn’t trust me (I wasn’t her color), and I had to snatch the tally sheets out of one woman’s hand by force and remind her that she was an observer, I was secretary.

But ultimately we made our counts, openly for all to verify, we nominated and elected the correct allotments based on the rules (our precinct chair long gone) and made it a good clean convention, with 42 delegates for Obama and 18 for Clinton.

When I tossed my name in for delegate for Obama, I was shocked. It was a near unanimous acclimation. After it was all said and done, both sides– the very people who were screaming and throwing tantrums just minutes before -- came to me and complimented me on the job I did. It almost felt like I was a candidate for office the way they all came up, shook hands or hugged, and heaped the admiration. And thank God I had my old faithful poll workers from my days (both candidates’ supporters) and others who just stepped in when they saw the need and filled in. It was a phenomenal team and they all hung in admirably – even with all the garbage thrown at us!

Ultimately, it was a victory for teamwork – no matter how different we all were – and most of all a victory for what was right. When even the loudest Clinton supporter – a recently converted Republican no less – came up to me and shook my hand, thanking me for how we made this work with a huge smile – I gotta say it was worth it. Tough as it was, it was done right … and it was worth it.

“It's times like these you learn to live again.
It's times like these you give and give again.
It's times like these you learn to love again.” — Times Like These, Foo Fighters

Monday, March 3, 2008

Pounding the Pavement in Primary Season: It’s Obama Time!

“We need a revolution for the people – for the poor, for [those] who have nothing! The politicians and the rich, they’ve already got it all! What do they need?” — Stonewall veteran, Sylvia Rivera at the 2001 NTAC Board meeting in Washington DC

It seems just like old times. Admittedly I’ve been jaded after a decade plus of political activism, with nothing to show for it other than broken nails, broken dreams, broken promises and a broken spirit. Yet just like the old war-horse that everyone presumes is out to pasture, as soon as I hear the battle bell and become inspired, I’m back in the game just as before. This inspiration came from the same source that appears to be inspiring the country, the likes of which haven’t been seen since JFK.

This inspiration is Barack Obama.

So it was that I’ve been wearing out one of my two good pair of Nikes hitting my precinct to get folks to the post-election caucus, and on a Saturday night spending in the heart of Houston’s gayborhood bar district, pushing folks to vote and then go back to the post-primary caucus to elect delegates. Frankly it’s been two very different tales from my suburban precinct here in wild, wild West Houston, and the tony, elite progressive environs of the Montrose.

From my home precinct, one I chaired until 2005 (when economics demanded I start focusing on my own housekeeping before I lost the house I was keeping) it’s been pretty inspiring a response so far. This was a raw meat-red precinct when I took chair in 1999, and it would be another four years before this transitional spot began the domino flipping of red-to-blue in my area. When I turned the chair over to my successor, I never presumed we would have a situation where Texas would ever matter in a presidential primary selection. We never had before.

Lo and behold, Texas matters for the first time in my lifetime in primaries. In fact, as it’s looking now, Texas may well be the knockout punch for Obama over Hillary Clinton. From what I’m seeing in my precinct and the undecideds I’m bringing over (especially among African American voters and men of all categories in my ethnically diverse neighborhood) things are looking very promising for caucusing on Tuesday.

However, I’d be remiss to use my precinct as a bellwether. I block walked heavily during the Kerry 2004 campaign, and even helped a neighboring precinct chair do likewise for her first elections. Kerry carried my precinct with 57% of the vote, 54% in the precinct I helped and 53% on the precinct on the opposite side of me. The initial ebullience over now having three blue precincts in our sea of red was dashed when I got home to see the numbers in the rest of the city and the nation. Kerry didn’t carry everywhere else.

So on Saturday afternoon at a Montrose cafĂ© after one of my board meetings, I happened to meet a young college student at the counter who asked if I’d go pass out flyers in the bar district on a Saturday night with her and others. Shades of the Parker Campaign in 1997, and the Gore Campaign in 2000 – I found myself outside the bars with the same old verve.

“Hope will never be silent.” — late San Francisco City Councilmember, Harvey Milk

I even saw a couple of other old familiar faces, notably Randall Ellis, former executive director for the Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby (LGRL), an activist I truly respect despite LGRL’s previous history before his tenure. He’s a man after my own heart, not someone who simply talks and directs others while he preens for the camera. Like me, he’s out the pounding pavement, leading by example.

There were lots of other Obamamaniacs as well, with a surprising contingent that made the trip down from the Seattle area. One of them was a very cool transwoman from Bellingham, WA named Rebecca who appeared about my age. There were also a gaggle of younger Obama supporters who were there on assignment from the media from the Seattle paper (and working on contract out of the Chronicle). They watched us work the crowd and took notes; including the same ugly earful we drew from a few of the Clinton supporters who sought to evoke a reaction.

That ugliness surprised me a bit. I understand their candidate is losing and that they have tight loyalties, but Obama supports the gay and lesbian community virtually as much as Hillary Clinton, only without the long-term relationship. Why this would draw the Hussein comments (uttered with intent derision) or worse the “Obama bin Laden” from the flitty little gayboi (with his jaunty equal sign/HRC ball cap) and clinging to his boyfriend’s arm. The worst was the drunken old vato suavecito who took great pleasure in getting in my face, then Rebecca from Washington’s while referring to Obama rather loudly as the antichrist.

Something like this was what I’d expect from Rove-led Republican Red-Meatheads. It was astonishing coming from progressive liberals.

However, it wasn’t all bad news in the heart of the Montrose. A notable portion of the passers-by was supporting Obama. Unlike my home precinct, it was probably the opposite – about 55-45, maybe 60% for Clinton at best. However, I did note that all gay African Americans were for Obama, as well as what few trans people I encountered there.

One thing I didn’t expect: being tabbed as the impromptu “election expert” on the street. It was amazing to watch folks (even if they weren’t those directly asking the question) begin flocking over to listen to how the delegate process works. I’d had that individually in homes in my precinct, but seeing folks come over and begin asking multiple questions and learning the process was heartening, even if surprising. There may not have ever been much reward for all those years working the precincts and maneuvering the delegate process, but suddenly it became useful knowledge.

It seems improbable until you understand that by the time primaries ever made it to Texas, the presumptive nominee already had the election sewn up. That was a recipe for apathy and no need to learn the rather complicated processes. Now, with both sides’ supporters needing to learn on the fly, I’m almost like a rock star to the suddenly curious.

All of this comes courtesy of Barack Obama’s campaign. Four years ago at the Boston DNC convention, I thought he was a phenomenal speaker. But I must admit that I didn’t think he had a chance at securing the nomination in 2008. Here’s a kid of mixed-race, from a teenage mom in a single-parent household, from Hawaii who even had his period of “youthful indiscretion” as George W. Bush would phrase it, and now this man has grown and is proving the impossible may be possible after all.

For a transgender person like myself who got a lifetime of naysayers telling me “it’s impossible,” it catalyzes your inspiration. If there was ever a time we needed this, it’s now.

Obviously all the work I do will not even get the scarcest of notice outside of my own precinct, yet another year of my life spent with no personal return. But for once, someone from this same improbable background, someone who’s an outsider like most me (and most all trans folk) is getting a chance to fulfill the dream. My dream won’t be realized, but at least I can work to fulfill someone else’s dream rather than work for someone who’s already got it and for whom it’s just another trophy in an overfull trophy case.

I’m sore, I’ve worn out one pair of my Nikes, and I’ve lost a bunch of sleep. But I’m back in the game again. Who knows … maybe I can dream someday?

“You gotta give ‘em hope….” — late San Francisco City Councilmember, Harvey Milk

“These dreams, they won’t let me close my eyes.
Every moment I’m awake, I live another life.” — Dreams, Heart