Catania on Barry: “… a long-bankrupt public servant …’

DC Council Member David Catania (I-At Large)

DC Council Member David Catania (I-At Large)

“Barry’s attacks also prompted David A. Catania (I-At Large) to rip into Barry for trying to make a policy dispute into a racial litmus test. Catania called it  ‘the stock in trade of a long-bankrupt public servant who has long, long ago failed to offer constructive solutions for the problems that afflict this city,” and he said, ‘I have had it.’” (Washington Post, Dec. 19, 2012)

Gotta love local policitcs!

Hatred Meets Anger: The Aryan Nation vs Protesters

Yesterday was a gorgeous Fall day here in DC.  As I came home from having breakfast with a friend in Arlington, I encountered blocked traffic on 8th St SE, as it was closed off for one of the many Fall festivals DC and cities around the country celebrate.  Finally making my way closer to home, I saw Metro Police everywhere.  I parked on East Capitol Street, just half a block from my building.  When I asked one officer what was going on, he said there was a march shortly.  “Who’s marching?” I asked.  “The Aryan Nation.”

Police in cars, on bikes, on foot, and on horseback were everywhere.  Here are some photos of what happened when the small group of Aryan Nation marchers — I counted less than 10 — were met by a much larger group of protesters who blocked the march at several points along the way.  It was an experience of contrasts.  The positions of the Aryan National are certainly reprehensible.  But the counter protesters, with shouts of “Death to the Nazis…” were equally disturbing.  While there was no violence (at least none I saw), it’s hard to describe this sort of event as “peaceful.”

Stop Blaming “Washington”

“‘Earmarks are a symptom of wasteful Washington spending that the American people have said they want reformed,’ [Texas Republican Sen. John] Cornyn told reporters,” reports today’s Washington Post (Republican senators say they’ll vote against their own earmarks).

I know that when it’s used in this sense, “Washington” means so much more than the 68 square mile piece of land along the Potomac River and its 600,000 inhabitants. But as one of those inhabitants for over seventeen years, it irks me to no end that “Washington” as a word so often becomes politicians’ shorthand way of doing just what Sen. Cornyn did to describe all that is bad with federal government and politics.  The truth is, it’s not Washington that spends money or that imposes taxes or that sneaks earmarks into legislation.  No, it’s the very politicians from Texas and Florida and Kansas and South Dakota and every other state in the nation that sends Texans and Floridians and Kansans and South Dakotans to do these things. Instead of blaming “Washington” — whose citizens don’t even have the full representation that the citizens of these other states enjoy — why don’t these senators and representatives take responsibility for their own actions and simply replace “Washington” with “we” or “senators and representatives.” More honestly, Cornyn should have said, “Earmarks are a symptom of wasteful spending by me and my fellow senators…”

That would certainly be more accurate, though perhaps, like earmarks themselves, just a little too close to home.

Fighting Bigots in DC

Submitted the following in response to the article in today’s Washington Post on possible referendum re: same-sex marriage in D.C.

Dr. Lenora Cole and Mr. Charles Lowery, Jr.
Members, Board of Elections and Ethics, Government of the District of Columbia
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street NW
Suite 250 North
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Dr. Cole and Mr. Lowery,

My name is Tim MacGeorge, and I am a resident of and registered voter in the District of Columbia. I have lived in Washington, DC for almost sixteen years.

I am writing to ask you not to allow a referendum to be placed on the ballot asking voters to decide whether the District of Columbia should recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions or whether same-sex couples should be allowed to be legally married in the District.

While I recognize that on one level, this request goes against one of the principles of a democratic society, namely that “the people” rule and that “the majority” usually prevail. However, allowing such a referendum could possibly lead — as it did in California — to the violation of another principle of a democratic society that requires limitations to be placed on the “tyranny of the majority,” lest the rights of the minority be trampled underfoot. This second principle must always supersede the first, and our history as nation bears this out. While there have been bleak chapters of our national story in which the rights of some were denied due to the color of their skin, the religion they professed, the gender/sex with which they were created, or other characteristics that define them as persons, we have come a long way as a society in ensuring that people are judged for what they do, and not who they are. Those who seek this referendum fail to recognize the truths about gay men and women, notably that sexual orientation is a given, not a choice; that gay men and women are good, productive members of society; and that gay men and women deserve the same rights to their committed relationships currently afforded married heterosexual couples. Allowing this referendum will afford these individuals, many of whom do not even reside in the District of Columbia and should have no standing whatsoever to bring such a request, to begin a campaign of fear and misinformation that perpetuates so many lies that minorities have always been subjected to.

I make this request as a Christian, as a man who was ordained as a Catholic priest…. I have heard all my life the so-called “Christian” or “biblical” arguments against homosexuality. In fact, I cannot recall ever hearing an “argument against homosexuality” that was not at its root religiously based. These arguments are frail, flimsy, and are easily discarded within the context of a legitimate and honest theological discussion.

Your task, however, is not based on theology. It is based on the law and whether or not such a referendum will advance the cause of justice within the District of Columbia. As citizens of the District of Columbia, we know all too well what it is like not to have full rights within a democracy. Such a referendum will more likely advance the cause of hatred and bigotry and injustice, and continue to keep a segment of our society “less free” than others. I urge you not to allow this referendum to move forward.