To Bern or Not to Bern!

I am growing weary of the superfluous yet at the same time deeply important clash between the #neverhillary Bernie supporters and the #nevertrump Bernie supporters. I’m not certain the split aligns perfectly with a millennial demographic or not, but somebody is either being somewhat politically naive or is incredibly ideologically pure about something. One puddle of wisdom (from my small reservoir of wisdom) that I have imparted to my millennial daughter on occasion, is that one of the things about life that sucks the most is you will have to sometimes do things you really don’t want to do. I’m pretty sure this is one of those times.

Here’s the thing. There’s a big difference between issues politics and electoral politics. The difference is that in issues politics it is necessary to demand 100% of what you want because that is the only way to get any of what you want. It’s you and your issue versus everybody else and their issue. There are multiple contestants in multiple battles so where you win you stay and where you don’t you move on. In modern electoral politics there are only two contestants (as far as is today’s reality) and the point comes (and it always comes) where you need other people’s supporters on your side to win, because your goal and reward is not a small victory in isolation but a majority victory in a contest decided by everyone. It is not a contest of you versus everyone else but of your coalition versus their coalition.

Compromise of ideologies is necessary in the electoral world and an anathema in the issues world. Many Bernie supporters come from the world of issues politics. They did not previously involve in electoral politics because they had no use for elections unless it directly affected their funding. Other than that they would only pursue an electoral victory if they had a champion for their issue(s). There have been single issues champions throughout the but rarely have there been any special leaders who could coalesce the numerous issues silo activists into a cohesive power bloc.

Issues activists are used to either getting what they want or leaving defeat behind and moving on to the next battle. They make black and white decisions. The concept of joining together in a coalition with the people who just caused you lose, who made you not get what you want, is utterly alien to them and feels dirty and immoral. So it’s not difficult to understand why they have trouble putting together movements. It’s just sad.

This phenomenon works in reverse as well, although people involved in electoral politics usually only drop in to work on issues when they feel burned out and made filthy by the deceits of electoral politics, and want to recharge and cleanse. Someone coming to issues politics from electoral politics will seek coalitions with what they consider to be like minded issues advocates, with similar issues. They don’t quite understand why the other issues groups leave the coalition once they get what they want. Then they remember why they were frustrated with issues activism to begin with and go back to electoral politics. To work in both electoral politics and issues politics concurrently takes some highly skilled compartmentalising, of which not everyone is capable.

This whole broken process has been a bane of the progressive movement for years, because it hasn’t really been a movement at all. It has been a bunch of separate progressive issues oriented advocacy groups all in competition with each other for grants and status and recognition. There is always a lot of rhetoric about coming together as one coherent progressive movement but it always dissolves into jealousy and competition for scarce resources. The scarcity of resources is intentional and part of a greater strategic initiative by right wing tricksters, but that’s another story.

These progressives have only come together in agreement when they have had a messiah figure to rally them. Gene McCarthy, George Mc Govern, Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich, all to widely varying degrees, were able to bring a number of progressives together into some semblance of a movement, enough to have some modest influence on the Democratic Party. Bernie has been the latest, most successful and probably least likely of these standard bearers. The rub is these movements died off with the relevance of their leaders. Without the focus of the strong leader the coalition descends once again into the relative chaos of egotism and economically manipulated competition.

Bernie is, and always has been, aware of this. Warnings about life after Bernie have been clear parts of his speeches from the get go. He has spent most of his time and energy since it became apparent he would not win the nomination imploring that his followers continue on and forge a game changing movement. This is true, and necessary. He has implored them to remember that this is not about him but about us. This is true, and necessary. He has implored us to defeat Donald Trump by any and all means. This is true, and necessary. He is showing and/or reminding us that 30% of 100% is much more than 100% of nothing. This is true, necessary and perhaps his greatest lesson taught.

What I don’t understand is why so many of Bernie’s followers, who have followed him through the crucible of mainstream efforts to get in his way, have now stopped listening to him. Actually I do understand. The messiah has betrayed them. He has not delivered on their issue(s) so they are expressing their rage. They will try another tack later after they get over feeling suckered by promises of glory in a progressive paradise. To be clear though, this type of betrayal is not an unusual occurrence. It is seen, commonly, in the affairs of both parties and is not fixable from the top down. Let me repeat, it is not fixable from the top down but only from the bottom up. This is why Bernie is so adamant that his supporters not run away licking their wounds but stay and fight and elect Clinton despite themselves.

In order to have a bottom up re-evolutionary movement that succeeds the Sanders coalition must stay together and organize. To accomplish this it is critical that the activated millennials not get jaded and cynical and go back to their X-boxes. Bernie is trying his damnedest to impart the knowledge that this whole thing is bigger than him and must survive his primary loss. And the first step towards that accomplishment is to prevent the uniquely American fascism of Trump and his minions from ever getting enough control to do irreparable harm to our nation and thus the globe. That would take generations to recover from.

So listen up kiddos and ex hippies. You think you need an unconditional Bernie electoral victory, when what you really need is for the many wonderful progressive issues activists out there to drop their ego facades, overcome their economic jealousies, and form the powerful progressive movement that has always been there, dormant, and ready to flip the entire political landscape. I can help, but I’m old, as are my beautiful tye dyed peers. The mantel is now being passed from Bernie’s hippie contemporaries to Bernie’s hipster acolytes. We’ll all help actually, if you let us, we’re experienced protesters. And we still know how to roll an English joint.

Here’s a parable for us to end todays sermon. When Mom broke out the Ben and Jerry’s  you told her you wanted 3 scoops of Cherry Garcia. She said no but you can each have a half scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough, because that’s all we have. Do you say no, I know you have some Cherry Garcia in there and it’s either the whole 3 scoops or nothing at all. Or, do you take the cookie dough and get at least a bit of a sweet taste in your mouth. If you all keep bugging mom maybe you’ll get some of that Cherry Garcia next time.

You weren’t that stuck up in school, were you?

The Bernie and Donald Hypotheses

A continuum is a line. A line extends infinitely through space, through the universe. The universe is curved. Therefore a line will eventually meet itself in space as in as circle. A circle with one point missing is considered a line. There can be an infinite number of points between any two points. Thus, speaking from the standpoint of nuclear physics we have established a paradox whereby a line can also be considered a circle based on the observers point of view.

Why am I starting off with all of this gobbledygook? Because it provides a mathematical basis for my hypothesis based in science. Using this information, continuums, which are nearly always portrayed as lines, are actually circles. Therefore the far ends of continuums, rather than being opposites, as is commonly perceived, are very nearly the same thing. Some examples include the fact that both extreme heat and extreme cold will burn the flesh. And obviously the continuum of the changing of the seasons does not have polar opposite ends but ends that run smooth;y into each other.

So to get to the point, (Thank God) it has always been my contention that radical right wingers and radical left wingers have more in common than they have in contention. It is our tendency as humans, these days strongly influenced by the media, to want to see dualities, black and white, in order to simplify life. This causes us to see the ends of a continuum as opposites and encourages us to see extreme liberals and extreme conservatives as complete opposites. This is just not true. This year’s presidential campaigns provide us with good evidence of that fact.

Conventional wisdom would consider Bernie Sanders and his followers to be polar opposites of Donald Trump and his followers. However while they disagree on a number of policies they share many of the more visceral and esoteric ideas about the issues and politics in general. I have experienced a large number of people who say they have been Democrats all their lives who will be voting for Trump as well as life long Republicans that will be voting for Sec. Clinton. Many of these folks go so far as to say they are changing parties permanently. Why is this?

Most of these switchers are Sanders supporters angry at the nomination process and appalled that the Democrats would nominate such a dangerous person who is not a real progressive. There are also traditional Republicans angry at the nomination process and appalled the the GOP would nominate such a dangerous person who is not a real conservative. What do these people have in common? A general mistrust of government and how it operates. Their main goal is to throw out all the mainstream politicians, who they feel are all corrupt sell outs, and replace them with outsiders who are not politicians but are ideologically pure. Most of them have never been involved in politics before, normally because of their strong mistrust of the process, and a belief there is no difference between the traditional parties. They want to throw away government as we know it and start over, based on their interpretation of the constitution and the idea of personal liberty.

But these two factions, as they are considered to be, are generally looked upon as opposites, especially by the press. Now this is true of of much of their overall reasoning, specific complaints, interpretations of the constitution,understanding of the intentions of the founding fathers, and most importantly who they blame for all of it. But the bottom line is they both believe America is going to hell in a hand basket and the only way to save it is to return to government of, by and for the people. And I believe that in essence they are right about a lot of this.

However, this is where I think things go off the rails. People want all of this change, right away,  but for a number of reasons they aren’t ready to do the work necessary to make it happen, especially in the way they imagine it will happen. There are a large number of folks, lovingly referred to as low information voters, who have little to no knowledge of how America works, what our major issues are, and what impact proposed policy will have on them,  the nation, and the world. These people are easily manipulated by appeals to strong emotions and will believe lies if they are told loudly and often enough.

Then there are voters who know a little civics and have opinions on things but who are just too busy to participate in the process. Some are simply disinterested in participating, for various reasons ranging from laziness to feeling that government never changes anything for anyone, ever. These citizens only care about elections the last two weeks before election day. Which is why most campaigns bombard the broadcast media with commercial after unfair commercial in those two weeks, virtually all of them about how awful the other candidate is. So right when they are finally looking for facts, after months of ignoring the campaigns, all they get is innuendo, half truths, and actual bald faced lies.

These two groupings are a very large segment of voters, likely  comprising a majority. And what they have in common is a need to hand over responsibility to those they elect and then forget about politics until the next election. The economy has forced them to be busier than ever before, in order to support their families. They might want to be aware but they can’t afford to be. So, many of us want and expect the president to solve every problem, and right away. They want a savior, a messiah to lead them figuratively out of Egypt, up to and including parting the Red Sea. This phenomenon is one factor that has made President of the United States the hardest job in the world.

The final demographic that needs a savior, and to me the most dangerous, is the radical activists. They are very aware of what is happening in politics and society, both domestic and international. They have a clear idea of what they think will save us and they know that to make it happen they need one strong leader who can get the job done in the face of adversity. It must be somebody who displays supreme confidence and the charisma to sell themself, even to the most opinionated of the activists, who will then follow them fervently and bring along their own followers.

There are many societies who have such a strongman at the top of their government, controlling virtually every aspect of society. Some of these leaders are benevolent but most are authoritarian and dictatorial. I believe the US has avoided such a regime primarily because it’s two party system keeps both parties from straying too far into uncharted authoritarian waters. They have never felt confident that taking such a dramatic stance could be successful, not with a majority of Americans having basically center left or center right views. But things have changed. I’m willing to guess that the change is, in large part, the responsibility of the rise of the political purist, brought on by frightened parties that felt they needed to pander to extremists to gain power. The extremists eventually gained enough power (This happened primarily in the GOP) to require an ideologic purity test for candidates. Which led to a bloc of legislators who refused to make compromises and thus ground the business of the legislative branch to a halt.

This paralysis has been the last straw for those of us who have been progressively more and more disillusioned with government and it’s failed ability to serve the people. They have come out of the woodwork to strongly influence the current presidential race. They were able to get Donald Trump nominated as a Republican, much to the chagrin of many prominent Republicans who know he is far from being one. And they nearly succeeded in nominating a Social Democrat, Bernie Sanders, as the Democratic nominee. What has transpired then is victory for the establishment in the Democratic Party, after a more heavily contested primary than they ever imagined. And their candidate, justifiably or not, has an extremely low likability rating. Lucky for them the GOP nominee, a loose cannon strongman, has an even lower rating.

This brings us to a place where we now have the most disconcerting race is recent US history. The hold your nose, lesser of two evils factor is off the charts. People are tired of having to elect this kind of President. They want someone they can admire. They want big change and they want it now. This frenetic anger has left us vulnerable to an authoritarian strongman being elected President. He will most likely break his promise to make the country a better place for the people, and will institute policies that oppress us even more than we already are. But in the event we can stop this very real danger, the alternative does not inspire much hope that she will ever institute many of the progressive policies this country needs.

This brings us round robin to the longtime democrats and republicans, plus the disillusioned radicals or traditionalists,who are abandoning their ostensible party’s nominee.Some of them are now voting for the other guy by write in , the other teams guy by write in. or a fringe party’s candidate. What affect will this have on the dynamic of the outcome of the election? I doubt any of the mainstream pundits know. This is out of their comfort zone.

We are entering a new era of American politics, one which may result in a system with multiple viable parties, and a more parliamentary method of creating government. The progressive revolutionary laundry list of changes is long. Right now the re-evolution is in it’s infancy and as in any revolution heads will fall. But should we call the executioner just yet? Who’s to say? I’m disqualifying myself.

It is a critical, crucial time to be an American, even more so an educated and aware American. This is the most important election in American history. I’ve said this every four years since Reagan’s second term. Perhaps prophetically that election was in 1984. At its core it was true every time. This time its true on steroids. It has existential implications for the planet. The arc of plant earth’s future will be forged this November, historic like never before.

Our Millennial generation are the only ones who can save us, in my estimation. But they are being systematically destroyed by overwhelming student debt. This is intentional. They are being squeezed by a shrinking job market and reduced public services across the board. They are being distracted by any number of petty playthings designed to numb them from their pain. We boomers, as our last redeeming gift, must protect them, we must run interference for them, we must exert ourselves to keep them from getting picked off one by one by despair. We must keep the light shining so they have something in the distance to aspire to.

A dictatorship will make that nearly impossible.

But we have defeated dictators before.

There is a reason both love and courage come from the heart.

America’s New Four Party System

Evidently it took a pair of transgender sisters to give us a portent of the future, but perhaps not the one they intended. In their Matrix trilogy the then brothers Wachowski named their main character ‘Neo’. I’m not certain if they were aware of their prescience but it appears they have hit on the latest big thing in American politics.

From observations over the last several years, and clearer observations this election cycle, I am seeing the American two party system, which has dominated our politics for many a year, fracturing into four distinctly different parties. This is happening without some of the participants actively being aware of it. The role The Matrix plays in all of this is perhaps more syntactic than anything but were I to name these four new parties, the prefix “neo’ would be used more than once. More about this later.

Probably the oddest thing about these schisms is that traditional, 20th century, liberals and conservatives have been effectively left behind, scrambling to either align themselves with one of the new factions, aggressively hold on to their obsolete values a while longer, or give up on politics altogether. Perhaps this is because the issues and political philosophies of the last century no longer maintain an agreed upon clarity, or, as in some cases, they may not be relevant at all.

For most of the 20th Century Republicans and Democrats had modestly but obviously different outlooks on how best to service the nation. The operative phrase here is “serve the nation”. In those days both parties cared about serving the nation, and were not only able to work together to do just that but both liked and respected each other, for the most part.

But the politics of the early 21st Century has revealed itself to be dominated by rabid partisanship and a dedication not to serving the nation but to serving special and monied interests. The lust for power has replaced the common good as the prime motivator of the modern politician and their parties.

It isn’t surprising to me that both major parties appear to be splitting in two, with none of the resultant parties truly resembling it’s predecessor. This is because the lines dividing the previous two parties are no longer clearly defined.  Currently we are seeing the development of a somewhat loose coalition of former progressive Democrats, Greens, pure Socialists and Democratic Socialists. This far left coalition has not been heretofore what one would call united, left wing politics normally being more identified with absolute correctness on pet issues than with forging partnerships.

They have been brought together this cycle by the candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders. Having previously spent most of their time arguing over whose issues were more important they have come only lately to the idea of taking over the Democratic party. This “Neo-Socialist” party is the actual left wing party, right wing propaganda about our President notwithstanding, with social justice and a well regulated economy being their major issues.

Many of the remaining Democrats joined by some moderate Republicans comprise the Neo-Liberal party. Having been around in Europe for some time the Neo-Liberals have a socially liberal platform but their economic ideas run more toward the corporate capitalist model. They claim to be liberal on the flimsy idea that they support benevolent corporations instead of malevolent ones. Flimsy indeed. They are the center left party, or to those with a different vantage point, the center right party.

On the right we find the Neo-Conservatives, basically the mainstream Republicans of the 90’s and early aughts’s. This party’s platform is based in militarism and right wing Christian morality. It’s new role as a separate party came about because of a split in the traditional Republican Party, a result of Republican pandering to the Libertarian minded Tea Party. The Neo-Cons once held great power in the country, but over the years their credentials as true conservatives have been called into question. As of now they neither fully resemble the party of lower taxes or small government.

The Tea party’s premise lies in a basic mistrust of a government they feel has failed them, is incompetent, spends the public’s hard earned tax dollars foolishly, rewards laziness and disrespects hard working Americans. They have no problem with completely discarding traditional means of operating government in order to get their way. To them compromise is betrayal and treasonous. When the Republicans could not make good on their promises to this faction the Tea Party held them hostage through a small but united caucus of congressmen/women, a critical mass of votes in the House of Representatives that could quash any legislation it did not favor.

This Tea Party extended or as I have called it, in moments of weakness, the Neo-Anderthal Party (Shame on you Will Servant) bases its political philosophy on anti politics. They despise politics as usual and politicians in general for being corrupt and feckless and find common ground in wild and free capitalism, xenophobia, poorly disguised racism,  white supremacism and authoritarianism. Or should I just say fascism.

What used to be a substantial independent voting bloc has been reduced to mainly the legitimate personality  voters, the I vote for the person not the party folks, and dazed and confused former traditionalists from both former major parties. These include but are not confined to traditional Republicans who can neither relate to what they perceive as the drunken sailor spending of the neocons nor the thinly veiled hatred of the “Tea Party”. Former Democrats include those who cannot cotton to the corporatism of the neo-liberals or what they see as the excessive permissiveness of the Neo-Socialists.

But this group of “independents” which is really a misnomer, is smaller than before. The electoral focus of new this four party world will not so much be on winning over the smaller group of independents but on convincing people that they know the best way out of the desert and can lead us through the thick forestation of the complex issues we face as we head closer to the quarter pole of the 21st century.

The most these new parties can hope for under this Neo-Parliamentary (See how I threw that Neo thing in there again) system is to gain the largest plurality of the electoral college vote for their presidential candidate and have the most congressional victors, so they will have the most leverage in forming a governing coalition. This will represent a whole new era in American governance.

While I am obviously not right about all of this I feel that an eventual multi party system will breathe life into American politics and lead to more work getting done all around for the largest and most important special interest group, the American people.

The danger in all of this is that, as we are currently getting big hints about, the chaos surrounding the collapse of the two party system could lead America into a totalitarian strongman government, which would plunge the world into conflict that could make WWII look like a paintball match. “We the People” can’t allow that to happen. Lot’s of people have ideas, many of them good, of how to best turn the darkness into light. I have one too.

Perhaps my strongest feeling regarding the presidential race of 2016, with all of it’s fascinating and frightening subplots, is that those who wish to establish separate parties on either side of the increasingly more centrist major parties are concentrating way too much on the election viability of their candidates and not enough on the actual party building that is necessary for them to become viable. There are way more people out there, on both sides of the constitutional divide, than the intellectuals they have a tendency to bubble with. The average guys and gals and others who comprise most of the electorate really don’t have a clue, they son’t get it, and it’s going to take a s..t load of work to get them to understand the dynamic of life in the 21st century. So folks, build your base with knowledge and sincerity and hard work before you can expect electoral success.

On the other hand the traditional parties are scrambling to hold together what base they have left. They are precariously scratching together the traditional coalitions that have, at various times, bought them victory. They have been so busy throwing up bandaids that they have forgotten how to develop good candidates. They have been at each others throats so long that victory has become the ultimate goal instead of public service. They nominate professional election winners instead of stateswomen. And what has it wrought? The two least likable candidates in USA history. So all four of our future major parties have their work cut out for them. The neo-revolution will manifest differently for all of them, but it won’t happen tomorrow.

Our modern power structure has been built to withstand  a traditional revolution. The revolution must be in the education of the public, in changing the paradigm. It must happen from the inside out. It’s like making wine or beer. It’s a process and it can’t be rushed or the final product suffers. Virtually all revolutionaries who went over the top too early, before they had a solid base, a leg to stand on, have failed. Some were successful early and then failed soon thereafter, some just plain failed. Telling someone burning with a passion to make everything right, who can’t stand it anymore, that they have to chill, is at best difficult and at worst impossible. But it is as valid a position as any that says we must tear down the house. Because it’s real.

After years of study, observation and research the oligarchs have perfected their methods of co-opting revolution by protest. They own law enforcement and the media. Never again will protesters in the streets have the influence they had in the 60’s. Violent revolution will be met with overwhelming force, as the oligarchs also own the military. Those means are lost to us. Frankly, in my estimation, the only way to bring about re-evolution in this climate is through the system, through good, old fashioned, American democracy.

The oligarchs have manipulated organizations to oppress the population but they have yet to oppress the people themselves, and will not be able to. That is the beauty of our democracy. The people actually do have the power. We have simply been coerced into not using it properly. We must display patience and restraint as the incremental change that will bring about continued peace can come about. The messiah Sanders has said so himself. He has told the people to get their butts off the floor, dry their tears and do the hard work of teaching, organizing, living and loving until the world they envision comes to pass. This is the true revolution, a revolution of the soul, first of the individual, and then of the nation.

As an aging hippie I have hoped for a real revolution, without guns but with hearts, for many years. I worry that I won’t see it.

But most of you will.

 

 

 

 

 

My Take on Gender

Lately there have been several laws both passed and signed, and others proposed by certain states, regarding discrimination against gays and particularly our transgender friends. Transgender people are the T in LGBTQ. The laws, in essence, all address transgender people using the bathroom, as well as other discriminatory provisions, one of our nation’s most existentially critical issues (sarc).

I’ve been more and more incensed about the nature of these real and threatened attacks and feel a need to write about where my anger brings me. I’d like to attempt to clarify understanding of the real issue here, which is evolution. Let’s see if I am able.

After losing in a fairly humiliating way in their futile quest to withhold the joys and pains of  marriage from homosexuals of all sorts the “look here it’s another damned abomination” crowd has gleefully waged it’s attack on number two on their hit list, transgender Americans. As is per usual with this crowd there was considerable forethought put into this strategy, and proposals for laws forcing transgender people to use the bathroom designated for those with the sexual organs they were assigned at birth with were simultaneously issued across the nation. Isn’t it fascinating how all these different people from all corners of the USA all thought of the same vile and restrictive thing at the same time (not). How obviously intentional and strategic.

Once again, the frightened reactionary gang, desperately hanging on to the faux morality of the past, have come up with logical sounding, fear based arguments for preventing transgender women from using the women’s restroom. Safety and privacy. OMG men will fake being transgender just to snap a pic to put on Instagram or maybe use for a puerile and perverse purpose later on in the shower, or wherever they do such things. It is the transgender person who is much more likely to be abused in a restroom than any cisgender person.

A word on the word cisgender. It is a new word for many of us. It is an adjective, not a noun. A person isn’t a cisgender. They are a cisgender person. The word simply means a person who identifies with the same gender as their sexual organs indicate. This separation of sex organs and gender identity is significant and that makes understanding cisgender people important.

A word on the words transgender and transexual. Transexual is an older term that is relatively specific. It normally refers to a person who has or wants to change their sex organs to their identified gender. Transgender is a newer term that is a general term that covers all people whose gender identity does not reflect their sex at birth. Some transgender people still refer to them selves as transexual. One should be aware of and sensitive to how a person refers to them selves. This applies to both nouns and pronouns, Although it can be uncomfortable one should use the pronouns the individual transgender pronoun prefers. Also do not refer to the original gender of the transgender person. A person who transitions from male to female identity is a woman or transgender woman.

The word transition is important as well. It is used to describe the process of transformation from one gender to the other. It is not necessarily a sex change or a switch. Transition can include everything from transitional medical intervention to legal change of name to telling friends and family. Transition can be a different process for each individual. For example, a doctor may prescribe transitional surgery for one transgendered person but not another.

The authors of theses bills and their supporters have picked on this group of citizens, transgender people, because they are the least well known, least talked about, least supported, and least understood of the bearers of that “sexually weird people” acronym, LGBTQA+. They are also at the top of the yucky scale. Men kissing men has nothing on a man desiring to change his sexual organs to match her self identity, her knowledge of self. They are an easy target, low hanging fruit, the fish at the top of the barrel.

These folks have said let’s put a different coat on discrimination, run it out and see if anyone of our bunch feels we have the perfect patsy here, the ideal minority group to frame for the crime of being the other, the weakest and least likely demographic to push back on the bunches self congratulatory need for oppression. It’s the age old scenario of the alpha finding the weakest in the herd to kill, to cull.

But these unfortunate misguided souls are in for a rude awakening. The transgender people among us are not weak, they are not fakes, they are the next wave in the truth of human evolution. They are in the vanguard of understanding the ever expanding universe, the opening up of our hearts and souls to the true nature of our species. Let’s talk a little about this.

In the past the medical and psychological tools to help the transgender soul become more  physically comfortable with their bodies was not yet developed. They had to hide behind wigs and constrictive cloth bands and hats and vests and corsets, makeup and voices. They were usually considered merely transvestites or perverts acting out their gender fantasies. There were only two genders. This conflation of sexual identity and gender identity has been responsible for the utter confusion, misunderstanding and often virulent opposition to the real existence of the other states of gender identity.

Hopefully I can explain my understanding of this reality in an educationally sound way. I make no claims of being correct about this. there are others who can judge my interpretations. But I am being honest in what I say here. The simplest way for me to try to wrap my head around an evolved reality about gender is to separate the sex from the gender. In other words I try not to use sex organs to define gender.

I relate sex organs, hormones etc, to sexual activity, We were all born with sexual organs, male, female, none or both. We use these sexual organs to participate physically in sexual relations. They all are instrumental in determining how we physically appear to the world. Sexual relations have two primary purposes, creation and re-creation. We can either  create new life, recreate those moments of the joy of that creative activity, and/or both.

One of the least understood aspects of sexual behavior is the re-creative element. We were designed to enjoy the sex act as a prime directive for procreating the species. We were programmed to love, enjoy, and desire sex. To deny ourselves the sex act because it doesn’t lead to conception is moronic. Everyone deserves and is intended to know the pleasure of sexual fulfillment regardless of it’s consequence.

What does this have to do with the transgender human issue you say. It has everything to do with it. It means that any combination of sexual partners and coming together of sexual organs among peoples has a divine element. It means that the presence of so called male and or female sex organs has less to do with who a person is and more to do with how they choose to enjoy their God given imperative to engage in sex.

What does this mean? It means that gender identity is unrelated to which sex organs one was born with. Gender identity is who one knows one is. We are only beginning to acknowledge that, yes,  it is a reality that there are two more numerous genders, the yin and yang of humanity, the cisgender people, with sex organs to match their gender identity. But the presence of male or female sex organs and their corresponding physical natures, is not the defining indicator of gender. There are those who exist outside of the prevalent genders, those who have no gender, other genders, or several genders, and they are viable and meaningful humans too.

Knowledge defines gender. Sex organs are for sex. Inner knowledge of gender identity determines how someone presents themselves to the world, regardless of appearance. Sexual preference is how individuals present themselves to each other sexually. There is a huge difference here that has been heretofore nearly invisible. It has been taken for granted that cisgender nature is the only natural state of being. In our society gender and sex have been inexorably conflated. We haven’t had a clue that it could be any different.

So it makes sense that those dragging their feet as time reveals knowledge of self will only see sex as synonymous with gender and force those with the sex organs of their birth to use the bathrooms of that gender, to use their birth name, etc. Little do they know that they are opening the very door they wish to close. To be more precise they are creating a real door they where they had only imagined one.. They are creating a situation where those of all genders will be subject to feeling uncomfortable and unsafe.

It is obvious to me that these bills are not about girl’s safety but rather about certain people’s fears that evolution is passing them by and their need to stop it’s forward motion at all costs. We all know this sets up an immoveable object and irresistible force scenario. And for what, for nothing, to give a bunch of aging white men and their frightened and obedient white women partners a false sense of moral superiority. This is such an excellent use of our legislative time and effort (sarc). Such a noble effort. (not). In reality it is a direct and intentional attempt to make one group of people suffer at the expense of soothing another’s fear.

One final word about the ridiculous argument that cisgender men will fake being transvestites to get into girls bathroom s and do horrible things. You can’t fake being a transgender woman. Let me repeat that, you can’t fake being a transgender woman. These men are fake transvestites. A transvestite is someone who psychologically has a desire and need to dress as a woman. A cisgender man who dresses up as a woman to be predatory is a  fake transvestite. Most importantly he is a predator. But he is not a fake transgender woman.

If a man wants to enter a woman’s bathroom to engage in predatory acts he certainly doesn’t have to go through the hassle of dressing up, with possibly a wig and makeup, and then needing to take all of that off afterwards.. He can just walk in and park in an empty stall. Criminals take the path of least resistance, they don’t make things harder for themselves.

Most transgender and transexual people go through extensive (and expensive) psychological scrutiny, and counseling, over time, before they are allowed  to proceed with becoming physically who they are in their hearts and souls. Many transgender and transexual people need this counseling before they feel comfortable in mainstream society. It takes great courage to be who you really are in the face of intense public judgement.

Caitlyn Jenner did not just throw on a pair of pantyhose one day and declare herself a transgender woman. It can take many months of hard work to be recognized as a transgender  or transexual person. Transgender people know they’re a different gender. than they were born. They are not fakes who claim to be a different gender in order to commit crimes. Someone who is just faking it will be easy to reveal as fake and easy to arrest and jail, If law enforcement chooses to do so.

When men humiliate transgendered females by saying they could claim to be transexuals if they are caught lusting after girls in the women’s  bathroom thats when the steam starts coming out of my ears. There are absolutely no records that indicate this has happened. Such acts of cowardice against innocent people definitively proves to me their malicious intent and pure evil of purpose. This is more than hatred. It is dismissal. I myself can handle being hated and many transgender people can and have handled more hatred than I can fathom. But to be dismissed as a human being, to be considered less than animal, is crueler than hatred.

Painfully, many have not been able to handle the hatred, the feeling that nobody even thinks you are human. They have been beaten down in all ways. Suicide rates among transgender youth are astronomical compared to other minority demographics. It is a public disgrace that government sanction of humiliation of this magnitude even be considered, much less enacted into law. When such laws foment suicide among teens we all become murderers.

I myself am diminished by these inhumane laws; for we are all responsible for society’s evolutionary growth; we are all culpable for the creation of bad law that not only hurts real people but can also kill. When we have conversations about our evolution as a species, especially regarding how evolution is not incompatible with Christianity or any other religion, we will be able to push past the barriers set up to keep us at each others throats. Only through looking into each others eyes and souls with love and empathy can we move forward as one, rather than suffer the pains of natural selection.

If evolution determines that our differences warrant a designation that we are no longer one species, there will be a test, and one of those species will become extinct. This species distinction is not out of the realm of possibility. This isn’t about being on the wrong side of history, it’s about being on the wrong side of existence.

I’m not kidding about this. And if you look inside yourself you know the truth of it lives, if only a faint murmur, a soft breeze. And the winds of time will grow, and engulf you.

While who uses which bathroom is not an existential issue, the evolution described in understanding gender identity most certainly is.

 

 

 

 

Some Thoughts on our Political Process

I received so many calls and emails about caucuses on Super Tuesday that it drove me loopy. I know why I got them and I was still pissed off. I really think the idea of carpet bombing likely attendees with GOTV/ persuasion calls and emails is an outdated strategy that has a reverse effect from what it was designed for. These calls are unsolicited and thus perceived as cold sales calls. People don’t like their lives interrupted.

The problem is the bean counters determined you could reach more voters more cheaply by phone than through the mail. Which is true. And you can’t guarantee people will read the mail whereas you can when you reach them by phone. But psychologically speaking, because of the very fact that the person receiving the mail has the choice to read it, it is a less threatening and irritating means of communicating. Because of this I feel, although the number of folks receiving mail is lower, the numbers that get the message are higher. I also feel that if government is the sender of a caucus notification mailer more people would read it upon reception than if it were sent by the candidates. Along with the information about date, time and place of caucuses, candidates could present introductions and persuasive arguments for government to include in the mailer, so that the voter has additional choice in educating themselves.

We must start treating the voter as an owner of government instead of a customer, a real person of value to society, instead of a number on a tally sheet. Enough of his rant and on to another.

Attending your caucus or voting in your primary is the first step in fulfilling your constitutional DUTY to elect those who represent YOU in determining how YOUR taxes are spent and what YOU can and cannot do as YOU interact with society. There is a direct correlation between your vote and your budget and your liberty.

It seems some of the very same people that insist our government is of the people, by the people, and for the people, don’t quite understand what that really means. So many people, including the mainstream media, use the term “our democracy” as short hand for “our government”. This is only partially true. Our government is a Democratic Republic.

Sometimes people forget that we are a republic. I think it’s assumed we know that, since we elect representatives. Thats what a republic is, government by representation. This is the “of the people” part. Our government its made up OF the people we elect.

And yes, we are a democracy, in the sense that our government is elected “by the people”. That’s what democracy means, a government chosen BY the people, usually through free elections.

And the part that is most under attack is the FOR the people part. Our government is supposed to and was designed to work “for the people” and not for corporations or banks or defense contractors. Their interests don’t always line up with the people’s interests. But it sure seems that government works for them instead of us.

So how have these entities taken over. Even though there aren’t a lot of people that run them they have used the thing they have an abundance of that most of the people don’t have. They have an abundance of money. Their money gives them a huge advantage over us. They corrupt the “of the people” by “buying” their hand picked candidates. Largely through the media they have made it very expensive to run for office. The average citizen, without large amounts of donated money, can’t afford to run for anything but small local offices. The people with the money find someone who is attractive and well known and connected and gives them the money they need to run a winning campaign. We all know that nothing is free. For their money those donors get special favors from their “bought and sold” representative.

Having stolen our “of the people” they next work on the “by the people”. First they get their bought and sold representatives to pass laws making it hard for certain people to vote at all. Of course these voters are on to the moneybags and their plan to take over our government. This is why the would be overlords attempt to get their paid off legislators to take way those smart voter’s vote.

Less obvious but maybe more effective is how they discourage people from voting. First they use their money and the elected officials in their pocket to create fear among the people and encourage greed. Then they use the fear and greed to get folks to accept them as their saviors, as the only ones who can protect them and their money. These people will then walk through walls to vote for them.

Next they use a function of the American way of life to discourage people from voting at all. They know that they have their core group of frightened followers who will do anything they say. The fewer people that vote the more electoral power their core has and the fewer people they need to persuade and the more money per vote they can devote to that persuasion. And getting people to eschew voting is relatively easy.

Americans have a finely tuned, well oiled, throroughly developed propensity to assign both responsibility and blame to others. When the corporations and banks, the army of the plutocracy, can convince people that government is to blame for their miserable lives, that all politicians are lazy and crooked and that there is no difference between the parties, plenty of people will just throw up their hands and say their vote doesn’t count. They feel justified in not voting. Their feelings that they have no say in what happens to them are substantiated.

Our government is, by design, participatory. Only by participating do we TRULY respect, honor, and act in accordance with the constitution. If we don’t attend our party caucuses, or vote in primary elections we are giving away our chance to have a say in what government we have.  Do you really think that under 15% of the people, and often much less than that, should determine who will even vie for public office. It just makes it easier for the dominators to dominate. We aren’t going to ever get out from under the yoke of oppression by rolling up and giving up because we think our constitutional duty is meaningless.

That is a bald faced lie.

 

The Zillionth Only Correct Opinion

Many alleged pundits have weighed in with their opinions of the whys and wherefores of the booty kicking taken by the Democrats this election cycle. As a would be has been, I feel it imperative I post my opinions on this issue onto my beloved blog. Even though no one ever reads this blog I do this simply for my own self aggrandizement.

The Democratic party is an urban party. Lots of people know this. It is why it has been so easy for Republicans to gerrymander. They are able to cram Democrats into gerrymandered districts for geographic reasons that appear logical and make “common sense”. The sheer numbers of urban and inner suburban voters vs. Rural and exurban voters has kept the Democrats viable and mostly dominant in urban districts, but in deep trouble in other districts. Nationally they are strong but locally they are weak.

The Northeast, West Coast and Northern tier of Midwestern states have more urban centers and/or philosophically progressive populations than the South and West. The Democrats are creeping into Mid Atlantic coastal states, because of their increased urban populations, and into the southwestern border states because of their increased minority populations. The exception is Arizona, which has large numbers of Conservative retirees. These states are getting more purple. The Republicans are making headway into states without a preponderance of urban centers, but who have progressively minded citizens. They are also working their way into states with large and devastated urban centers with rampant unemployment and strife. They flip these progressively inclined rural voters and desperate urban voters through fear, turning those states purple. Thus we have our swing states, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. Developing swing states include Texas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan. All of these states display some level of those divisive factors.

I believe the emotionally based electoral decisions of these voters are clearly informed. Rural voters hate welfare and they hate both perceived urban elitists and destitute city folk. I feel urban and minority voters hate Republicans for their essentially backwards looking conservatism and their embrace of social and economic biases. The bizarre thing about this hatred is that it originates in the exact same unequivocal American value that “all men are created equal”. But the concept of equality in America is vigorously contested. The equality rationale of the rural voter is because everyone is equal everyone should pull their own weight, by working hard. For them inequality is other people getting stuff for not working, when they themselves are working hard. For disgruntled urban workers equality is everyone having a job. Inequality for them is there being no jobs available for them, when others have jobs. Minorities see equality as equal rights. Inequality to them is others enjoying rights that they deserve, but do not have. Urban voters see equality as everyone being able to be who they are regardless of any social factor. Inequality for them is people who demand they have biblical social values and rigid, conformist gender identities. Of course these reasons are over generalized and there are certainly other factors and multitudes of crossover contempt at hand here, which I have not addressed.

I have thought about this a great deal, as you may have guessed. It is my contention that people get hung up in their particular vision of reality. They need to expand their appreciation of the complexity and diversity of the many issues that define us, as a people and a nation. The existence of a country that is concurrently homogeneous and culturally diverse seems contradictory and impossible. However, I see America as less a melting pot than a pot of rich soup. There is one overriding essence, a distinct and definitive flavor. But there are also the distinct individual flavors of the various ingredients. The oneness of the soup depends on the inclusion of all the ingredients.

We need to be taught that these issues, plus many others, are intertwined and interconnected, with each one influencing others. We also need to be be made painfully aware that there are cheaters and fraud in everything that involves money or privilege, and the fraud people see, in their anger, isn’t true for everyone they despise, just the few who would cheat at anything. We must accept that there are exceptions to all rules, but the exceptions don’t destroy the rules. There will be people who break your rules just as you may have broken theirs. It’s easy to point your focus at the salient exemplar, the Willie Horton, the welfare Cadillac mom. It’s harder to shine light on the stand up, play by the rules, good neighbor, who doesn’t care to be in the spotlight in the first place.

We could all do well to open ourselves to a larger sociopolitical universe. Rural voters could realize that not everyone on SNAP is a drug addict who doesn’t want to work and just sucks at the government teat. Disgruntled urban workers need to know that it is not government alone that has abandoned them and their crumbling cities. They need to know that a cruel combination of natural and contrived economic factors has left them nearly helpless. Minorities need to be aware that they are not the only Americans whose rights are being trampled. They could be more powerful and effective working together with other social justice activists, instead of staying trapped in their issue silo, sequestered from potential allies. Urban voters have to understand that, yes, they are elitists in many ways and there are more ways to skin a cat than they think. They must consider whether their brand of liberalism has a positive or negative impact on the nation as a whole. They need to develop empathy for the rest of the country, instead of judging them. Finally, I think we must somehow overcome the subtle yet incredibly effective propaganda that has kept the American people divided against itself. The joy of knowing truth has been replaced with fear inflamed by lies. The power of knowledge has given way to despair born of confusion. The art and psychology of persuasion has been honed to a fine point, and it cuts indiscriminately.

I believe nearly everyone, on both the left and right, thinks our nation is failing and our Democratic Constitutional Republic is in real existential danger. Where our great divide is, our unbridgeable gulf, is in our perceptions of the cause of this epic fail. To me it is simple. The right thinks government is the cause and the left thinks it’s wealthy oligarchs. The right thinks we are becoming a Socialist Dictatorship and the left says we are already an Oligarchy. I think the reality is a collusion of these factors, rather than one or the other. This is how we are pitted against ourselves. As long as we blame each other we do not notice the real villain at work, and we are unable to use our united power.

From my seat in the stands, albeit the nosebleed section, I see a nation where Plutocrats rule us from on high and remain hidden from us through the interference run for them by their minions. The focal point, the big boy that nobody trusts is Wall Street. The Plutocrats don’t trust it because of its volatility and entrepreneurial vitality. They can’t control it enough to assure themselves the massive earnings they crave. However the Plutocracy controls the capital that fuels Wall Street enough that, using the profit generated from that capital, the market can virtually purchase government, all three branches to a greater or lesser degree. Government doesn’t trust Wall Street either but it is nearly powerless to affect it’s stranglehold on the economy, or its ability to buy and influence government. Government though does have the power to dictate what hoops the people have to jump through to relate to and live in society. Since a plutocratic government does not exist for the people we do not like it no matter which party is in power. After a few years of very little getting done (they are allowed to get a few things done just to make us think they care) we get weary and elect the other bunch, getting tired of them in turn and electing the other guys again, ad nauseum.

Government, being the face of what is seen by the public, is what causes the ire of the conservative base. Progressives see Wall Street owning government and despise the corporations. The plutocrats are insulated by both the corporations and the government, from discovery. Very few of us ever see their machinations, their joy of being our puppeteers, their orgasms of manipulation. This hidden application of total power is by design. So the plutocrats control the corporations, who control the available money, which controls government, which controls the people. We are left to call each other names in the comments of thousands of blogs and more thousands of social media posts, while the big bosses of the big bosses do their damage and then laugh out loud over a Dirty Vodka Martini at the nineteenth hole.

Our task as citizens is daunting but not impossible. I dare say it will be left to our children and children’s children to complete it. First we must take over the government, all 3 branches, by electing courageous men and women, who will resist the temptation and influence of Wall Street, and break corporate control of government. We the people can then force these legislators, through our collective will, to change enough laws that we the people have power once again. Then, armed with renewed strength, and here is the difficult part, we must invade and infiltrate corporate boards and vote the Plutocrats’ lackeys out of power. This will require a sophisticated and perfectly coordinated effort by people with a combination of business expertise, unshakeable progressive values, and most crucially, superior skills in espionage and callous disregard for anyone’s welfare, including their own. I don’t believe anyone with that particular combination of characteristics is in a position of power today, but I have faith there will be many in the near future.

I also have faith in our children. Through evolution they are revealing daily just how dramatically they exceed us. They have knowledge and power we do not even understand, and they know love in a way we have lost from centuries of forgetting how. There is no other way to win back America for Americans. It must needs be cruel and vicious. They have been cruel and vicious for decades. I’m not saying it is the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do. Through taking over the corporations we can use that power the Plutocrats fear, that spirit of progress, to defy their will and cut off the head of the beast. Their amassed insane wealth will then be meaningless. Having nothing of value they will be powerless, and they may as well liquidate all their money into hundred dollar bills, buy a fleet of obsolete luxury liners, load them up, and dump it all into the ocean. It may be preposterous, it may be ridiculous, but this, dear friends, is my dream.

Righteous Anger Management

I’ve been really busy lately and subsequently have not been blogging. I have been accumulating topics to address and intend to address them once I catch up on a bunch of necessary tasks. The past several weeks have seen the media, when not occupied by tornadoes, prattling on about any numbers of government “scandals.” I don’t really have the time but I’m making some. I must comment on all of these things, most importantly the very recent episode of “Crisis TV,” in which most everyone is shocked and angered at the excesses in surveillance by various government agencies, primarily the NSA, that gouge into our protective armor of constitutional rights, at will, without compunction. A majority of media are fanning the flames of indignation, and to be honest much of it is righteous, but not in the way it is being presented to and then mirrored by the public.

I’d like to address these issues, which are legion, in some sort of organized fashion. This could prove difficult. But let’s give it a go anyway, shall we?

The first issue being screamed about is “Benghazi.” There is a significant effort being made to establish the word “Benghazi” as a brand, encompassing any number of negative aspects of government. It is a buzzword on steroids. Those using this brand as a political mace to batter the administration are using the same tactic as those who are appalled by many of the other transgressions, perceived and/or real, promulgated by the catchall villain, as the disrespectful refer to him (among other names), Obama.

They are intentionally failing to admit that they knew what was happening surrounding the incident, always have known that things work this way, and were perfectly happy to allow it to happen unfettered when done by a government of their own persuasion. They conveniently forget to mention that during the previous administration numerous similar incidents took place, also with loss of life. Knowing full well that this type of disinformation and prevarication is status quo for the US intelligence community and any administration who fronts for them, the anti Obama faction also realized they had an excellent opportunity to make political hay. And the hayloft filled up rapidly.

CIA, State, and the White House were not about to reveal what they actually knew about what happened in Benghazi until the matter was settled to their liking, perhaps not for a great while, maybe never. The chaotic nature of the incident also meant that the investigation could take some time. There was a chance that not much was known by anyone. Instead, I believe that a great deal was known, and the White House didn’t want to let on what it knew, so as not to tip off the bad guys. Regardless, the anti Obama gang knew they could sell any type of conjecture, and repeatedly, because the White House, speaking for State and CIA, would not be able to refute without compromising national security. This marketing they did with great vigor and continue to refer to “Benghazi” at every opportunity, as if it were as well known a brand as Coke or Kleenex.

The second manufactured scandal, which has grown tremendous legs, is the issue of the IRS “targeting” tea party and similar organizations applying for 501 c 4 tax exempt status. Until the recent privacy issues this was number one on the manufactured crisis hit parade. That mean old, sick and disgusting, tyrannical IRS was treating these innocents like sewer rats. All they did was ask for the agency to give their obviously political organizations 501c4 tax exempt status. Apparently the good folks at the IRS singled out conservative organizations with the words “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their name for extra scrutiny and asked them humiliating and bizarre questions that went beyond the scope of a legitimate investigation, to which no human should ever be subjected. True, and clearly over the top, but not a socialist plot.

First off, to my mind, the truly interesting thing about this entire matter is that it uncovered the fact that the original statute, from the Revenue Act of 1913, stated (and I paraphrase, emphasis mine) that to receive this 501 c 4 status a not for profit organization or civic league must operate exclusively for social welfare or be a local association of employees of a designated person or persons in a particular municipality. These organizations net earnings are to be devoted exclusively to charitable, educational, or recreational purposes.

Somehow in 1959 the IRS reinterpreted “exclusively devoted to” to “primarily engaged in” promoting, in some way, the general welfare and common good of the community. They did this without any authority or directive to do so. This represented a dramatic change in the perception of the intent of this statute. In essence what it meant was the IRS had been granting this status to numerous organizations incorrectly for many years, for several reasons, and continues to do so. It means that virtually none of the organizations so vociferously bemoaning the alleged shredding of their inalienable rights, by a vile President bent on disregarding and demeaning the Constitution, and thus destroying “Their” America, are rightfully eligible for the tax exemption. This unilateral twisting of the law is what the IRS is really guilty of and not so much the targeting of these particular groups, however screwed up that was.

To be frank, in this instance the IRS was actually doing it’s job, just in an entirely irresponsible way. Congress, including some who are among the complainers, had asked that the IRS investigate applicants for tax exemption for potential fraud, concerned that government was losing plenty of potential revenue through that illegality. They also cut the budget of the IRS, which always leads to a situation where stress and an increase in workload makes it difficult for any agency to fulfill it’s mandate. This led overzealous IRS employees, assigned to reviewing 501 c 4 applications and overwhelmed by a 200% increase in those applications, to begin flagging groups they felt were likely to be “primarily” political in nature. Granted, these were pretty much all conservative groups. But if I were investigating fraudulent applications for tax exempt status I might be inclined to move groups who have publicly expressed their disdain for paying taxes to the front of the line. Stupid and thoughtless, but not a conspiracy.

In reference to the Obama administration being responsible for this disgrace, the commissioner of the IRS at the time of these transgressions was appointed by the previous President. That these challenges to the applications are a sudden revelation is refuted by the fact that this commissioner, Douglas Shulman, testified in front of a House hearing led by Darryl Issa, and said that the process of investigating to separate legitimate groups from “primarily” political groups was, and always had been, standard procedure and did not represent any sort of “targeting”. Evidently even Rep. Issa was satisfied with this testimony and the matter faded into the woodwork. This was in March of 2012. It would seem that if this were to have been considered a true crisis that it should have become so then, or in late 2011 when it was revealed that this investigation was happening. I find it interesting that it suddenly became a big deal right when certain people saw an opening and wished to press their perceived advantage by introducing another scandal into the public consciousness.

Now we come to the part of the story which actually qualifies as a legitimate national concern, worthy of a serious in depth discussion among all relevant parties, most of whom have arguments of value. However, this issue is also being used as a political bludgeon to beat on our chief executive. In this case the events, many leaked to the public illegally, are very disturbing. Starting with requests that the Associated Press allow gov’t access to it’s phone lines, which threatens journalistic integrity, to the revelation that huge amounts of American citizen’s communications data of all kinds are being kept and stored by the NSA, this is the real issue of import to our nation. Contrary to the loud protests on the right this is not a political issue but a philosophic one in which the nature of what America is and what it represents is conflicted and in peril. And contrary to the calls of betrayal from the left this is not so much a radical departure from his values for the President as an epiphany, which all presidents discover, regarding the realities of our national security interests.

Regardless of the outrage at these violations of privacy and liberty, they are legal. They have been legal since the National Security Surveillance Act of 2006, when the illegal activities of the Bush administration were modified slightly, brought before Congress, and voted into law. This type of surveillance is informed by the secret FISA courts, started during the Carter administration, which are supposed to provide oversight on federal surveillance procedures. Unfortunately the courts and the secret court orders they issue, have not been very effective in keeping the barn door closed. The powers granted by the NSSA have been used generously by both the Bush and Obama administrations, citing as justification that they protect national security, by the provision of valuable evidence surrounding terrorist activities. So we see that even in death Osama Bin Laden has dramatically affected the very core of the American way of life.

It is my opinion that this is a serious issue that reaches deep into the protections of the Constitution and also has dramatic national security implications. As usual, technology outstrips the ability of society to understand and integrate it adequately into responsible application. The conundrums created vex us. They elicit strongly held and virulent opinions, whose powerful emotions make it difficult to have a reasoned conversation. If at all possible we must curtail our fury and remove the politics from the issue, which may be, regrettably, impossible. We must enter into, immediately if not sooner, a sober and respectful conversation about the relative merits of the surrender of civil liberties in the interest of national security. There are compelling arguments for both sides of this problem.

There is also an innate fear and mistrust of “Big Brother” in America, and rightfully so. Yet the threat of terrorism, domestic and international, is real and quite frightening. There needs to be a revised understanding of what exactly protection and safety mean and what level and nature of privacy is to be expected in a free society. As is nearly always the case, the best interests of the individual and those of society must go twelve rounds with each other. There is no guarantee that a clear victor will emerge and both parties will undoubtedly come out bloodied.

What truly upsets and scares me is that the spirited offensive against the president and the forced defensive response, both of which unfortunately appear to be tethered to the 2014 elections and beyond, will make it unlikely that we will be able to have the type of sensible and respectful dialogue this issue so desperately needs. We so need to prevent the unfortunate polarization of this sensitive and important issue from causing more rending of the fabric of American society, which we can little afford in this dangerous time.

Sadly, I fear this is wishful thinking. An inevitable and unstoppable fail.

If only I could be convinced the glass is half full.