It’s All Fine and Good…

I’m not fond of Donald Trump and I don’t support his candidacy. I suppose I’d go so far as to say his candidacy scares the living crap out of me. But I’m not about to tell you why. Why? Because everybody else does.

I’m glad that so many people have stepped forward to offer their take on why Mr. Trump should never, ever, be let anywhere near the White House, except for maybe a guided tour. They should. The people need and deserve to be told about how they are being hoodwinked by a snake oil salesman, which is one of the safer things I can say about the man.

But my issue is that among the many diatribes bashing the big basher himself, a large, even vast number of them involve some sort of analysis of why he has risen to the prominence of being the presumptive presidential nominee of a major political party. An even bigger topic for these frightened American souls is who are his followers and why do they follow him.

The speculation runs from the sublime to the ridiculous and it seems lately that virtually every pundit who is worth his ego must needs weigh in. It’s like the Olympics of opine. I may be wrong, after all, but it appears to me that there is an amazing race (homage to the reality TV world of today) to see who can most definitively and correctly determine the correct and definitive reason for the phenomenon that is Trump and his minions.

Enough already. Frankly, we really don’t need to figure out why he is a mere 270 electoral votes from being the most powerful man in the “free” world. At least until after he is given a sound beatdown (although many of us have a pretty good idea why). And this is where the pundit analysts and opinion talkers, in my opinion, are failing.

In reality, these journalists and political analysts and pundits and party personalities are singing loudly, even if mostly on key, to the choir. They are educated intellectuals writing and blogging and making videos for educated intellectuals in places where only educated intellectuals will read, hear and see them. In other words, while often brilliant in their insight, they will have little to no effect on the votes of a sizable (read huge) majority of those whose hearts and minds are what really need to be changed.

Our task is to fight as hard as we can to defeat this charlatan, this wolf in wolf’s clothing. What we really need is for us educated intellectuals (effete intellectual snobs as Spiro Agnew once called us) to get busy, down and dirty, and get everyone possible who knows the real dangers of a Trump presidency to go to the polls and vote against him, better yet for a candidate who is capable of defeating him. And convince those who doubt this is a very real danger, that it is very real and very dangerous, and get them to the polls to vote against Trump also.

Holding ones nose strikes me as a much better option than potentially having no hands to hold it with.

We don’t need to figure Trump and his followers out. We just desperately need to defeat him.

Clinton isn’t a steamboat and Sanders isn’t a Colonel

Something that disturbs me, and more so as time passes, is the breaking out of the baseball bats and socks full of dung, used to bash each other upside the head by supporters of both Sen. Sanders and Secretary Clinton. Recently I read a post in a thread about this topic, a particularly virulent attack on Ms. Clinton that had more in common with a conspiracy post on “Infowars” than a rational discussions about left and centre left politics. I hear more and more rumblings and grumblings from Sanders supporters that if their champion is not nominated they shall take their ball and go home, or, perhaps worse, he will run as a third party candidate.

The result of either of those strategies would be catastrophic. What will such “brave and visionary” behavior bring? Shall we have a theocrat or fascist then as president? Or shall we have a wonderful man with a powerful, positive vision for an American people who are not yet ready to embrace it? Shall we have anarchy? Or an imperfect woman who has the most and best qualifications. The bane of the activist is that they insist on the perfect and reject the less than perfect. This is right action and imperative in fighting for a single, isolated issue. Those fighting this way need the strength that lifts them up, found in purity of mission.

However, In electoral politics we cannot allow the perfect to be the enemy of the good. I have grave issues with the corporate dependencies of HRC. I have serious problems with her neoliberal economics. Having spent many years standing in the public spotlight she has made plenty of mistakes and grown plenty of warts. However I have much graver, real fears about either of the GOP frontrunners and especially the well hidden dominionist nature of Kasich, who could be a brokered candidate.

I have admired Sen. Sanders for many years as a truth teller. Truth telling is a necessary and critical quality for any pubic servant to display. Bernie is one of the only, if not the only, truth tellers in Congress. However, truth telling in today’s America is only supported by between 30 and 40 percent of the voters. This is how effective the lies of propaganda have been.

It is not enough at this point in history to have the candidate who is right. To stop the victory of fear we must have the right candidate. Understanding modern American politics we find that the right candidate is often not the best candidate. This must change. The only way to change it is for activists to roll up their sleeves, and, instead of throwing themselves behind a candidate they love, but who they expect will do all the work, must go back to their communities and do the work themselves.

We must educate the public about both the lies and the truth. This will not be easy. The furrows have been burrowed deep in people’s minds. They react instantaneously to what they hear and read based on what frames have been physically established in their brains. They prize what they don’t have to think about.

So our work is cut out for us. It is not simply a matter of telling them the truth and expecting them to accept it merely because it’s true. We have to dig our furrows deeper than the other guy’s. This is an unfortunate reality of cognitive science. It’s not junk science. It’s not conspiracy. It’s reality. And we need to be a team and not a collection of individuals to accomplish the change.

We can gather and commiserate among like minds and we can complain to anyone who will listen, but the sad fact remains if someone like Bernie Sanders is to be elected President and, more importantly, be successful, citizen’s hearts and minds will have to be changed, and that will take a ton of real work. It doesn’t have to be done on a national scale. It can be done by small local, community organizations and even some individual activism. But the work needs to be constant and consistent. This is most difficult given the proclivity for activists to become disillusioned and leave a place for another place they think will be better.

Our work is before us. In essence my message is quit bitching about the way things are and start working on the way things must be. Don’t depend on a political savior to guide us out of Egypt. Although things are really fucked up, and we all know they are, reality dictates that we can’t change things from the top down. The top is too well guarded and insulated to invade without the will of a large majority of the people. Anyone who thinks we have a large majority with us is a fool.

I am so impressed with and proud of the many people who are speaking out and speaking their minds who have previously chosen not to. I have also been inspired to do so. Unfortunately speaking my mind involves surveying my mind, which seems to have always been complex and verbal. So this is just another example of who the fuck I am, with new and improved less fear of revealing such.

I will be happy regardless of whether you choose to read this or not. The clarity it brings me to put my thoughts in some sort of order feeds my joy. Life is meant to enjoy. This is why we fight. When anyone’s joy has been ripped from their soul it pains all of us.

The people who oppose us are not idiots, or fucktards, or repugs, or bat shit crazy, although I must admit some approach that. They are Americans who have bought the snake oil. Your mission Mr Phelps, should you choose to accept it, is to convince them that they have been played, and the snake oil will never heal therm. This tape will self destruct in 5 seconds.

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.

 

Who Has the Power? ( And How Did They Get It?)

Please be advised that this post presupposes that science has value and can legitimately shed light on at least several things in this universe. This is no longer a given.

Lately there seems to be something of a rush to discover and reveal the real differences between Conservatives and Liberals. It’s a mean and meme world out there and there are plenty of pundits with a need to chime in on every tweety youtube trender that comes along, regardless of whether they know anything about it or not. Thus the recent spate of “Here’s the secret handshake of science” journalism that probably comes from certain so-called experts’ need to separate themselves from the glutted pack of a thousand points of sites. And there are plenty of new studies out there for these limelight addicts to reference.

We have the brain activity explanation, complete with those graphs and GIFs of brainwaves that folks are fond of displaying in their articles and on their blogs. Oft times well meaning but inadequately informed journalists will look to graphs to help flesh out their stories, especially if they are pretty. (The graphs that is). The brain wave explanations are so au courant and impressive but as with most speculative science those brain waves are subject to the classic query, “Nature or Nurture”. And, also as usual, I believe it’s some of both.

There is then the genetic proclivity explanation, with a different, more structural look at the brain. They often talk in science-ese, a bizarre language they use to keep us confused enough that they can keep their jobs. They talk about how this or that lobe or area of the brain is larger or smaller, or more or less developed. It gives them reason to declare that there are genetic proclivities towards certain influences and behaviors that predict our political tendencies. I think there is some merit to this point of view, but it is not a complete explanation. The fact that tradition shows us that most national elections, when push comes to shove, are decided by a relatively small margin. This balance references the fact that many brain functions have a binary, on or off, function. More on this later.

My particular preferred explanation for all this terminally intellectual stuff comes through the branch of Cognitive Science that is Cognitive Linguistics. It is on this subject that I will wax poetic, seemingly for the next several days.

Because our brain does not primarily use words to communicate with itself, but only to communicate with others, the development of language says everything about how humans communicate thoughts, ideas and concepts. The study of the brain and how it works speaks to us about the relationship between brain function and the way we use words. The science shows us that words can actually, physically change the brain. For me this reconciles other research being done by cognitive linguists about the influence of our brains on our politics, with the aforementioned purely physical reasons.

Cognitive science is a big deal these days. My opinion is that it grew simultaneously with and parallel to the quest to unlock the human genome. Curiosity is the engine behind scientific discovery, and as the technology to study and research both the physical functions of the brain and the body’s cellular level programming became more and more advanced, so did the drive to uncover the secrets of these heretofore mysterious and vitally important body parts.

What science is discovering is that the existence, outside of us, of a transcendent mind, which houses truth and reason, that we tap into to various degrees, to access universal meaning and conceptual reality, is a falsehood. Rationalists be damned, we are discovering that all human function is embodied in the brain. Not only does the brain control our typing and eyesight but our thinking and feeling.

One may ask, if all human thought is controlled by the individual brain and not an external static source, how is it that we have nearly universal acceptance of certain concepts. In essence that acceptance comes through experience and communication. Our thoughts are more pictorial than verbal. In fact, verbal communication is a limited, imperfect brain function, informed by the differences in individual human thought more so than any concrete construct. Agreement on the collective nature of things and ideas begged the question of what symbols to use to adequately and consistently communicate about things and ideas, between the ever larger sociopolitical and socioeconomic groups that evolved over time. Language became more and more important the larger the number of people we needed to talk to.

Words connect us with the pictures our brains use to simplify complex situations, concepts and functioning physical systems. Words are the triggers that bring entire groups of things and ideas into consciousness, from the unconscious, in one instantaneous moment. These verbally supported thought pictures define both what is and isn’t part of the communication at hand. For example, when one says the word “hospital” we immediately call up the words that trigger pictures of doctors and nurses and gurneys and IVs. Just that one word calls into our conscious minds an entire complex idea. The word also immediately references what is not in a hospital, i.e. a motorcycle or football. It cements a clear definition of the concept in our brain. Our brains do this as a shortcut. The brain processes millions of bits of information a second, and has an incredible amount of information in storage. In order to function quickly and efficiently it has to compress information dramatically in order to do this.

You may have heard the phrase ‘words have power’. This is more true than any of us ever imagined. Cognitive linguists are finding that words and the collective acceptance of their meaning cannot only influence people’s conceptualizations, but can actually change the brain. The brain learns and constantly changes to reflect that learning. Wanna learn how to hit a curveball? The more curveballs you try to hit the brain better remembers the group of complex physical responses that bring to the task both success and failure. Eventually it builds an express lane that more efficiently sets that entire process in motion the instant the eye sees what it recognizes as a curveball. We get better at hitting the curveball. The brain, over time, has learned how to make that entire quantum of processes respond more quickly and accurately, by physically changing its structure. The repetition has worn a “deeper’ neural pathway in the brain, from the seeing of the ball to the hitting of it. This better worn groove speeds up the process and enhances its effectiveness.

The desire for accomplishment and knowledge which leads to changing the brain does not only apply to physical performance but to conceptualization as well. If we are constantly exposed to a pervasive mental or emotional stimulus the brain learns which picture to call up, into the conscious mind, that the word, or grouped word metaphor, triggers. When dealing with a word that can have several meanings, repetition of the word trigger that points to the preferred definition determines which neural pathway becomes dominant. This now dominant pathway points us to that desired definition to the exclusion of others.

The brain can only assign one picture at a time to any given word. This is where the battle originates. Two opposing forces that support different meanings associated with a word, meanings called contested concepts, will fight over which meaning takes hold in the unconscious minds of the masses. The unconscious mind is where the meanings of words live. We could never hold the meanings of the several thousands words we know and use in our conscious minds minds all at the same time. The fight is over which picture comes into consciousness when the word is used and sets off the trigger. Establishing which meaning of the word is dominant is important because, as one address can’t be used for two homes at the same time, one word can’t point to two pictures at the same time. Their is a reason different definitions for a word in the dictionary are numbered. Pickle can’t mean a tasty, if salty, treat and a predicament concurrently.

Conservatives learned and accepted these ideas, putting their own frames around the pictures much earlier than liberals. They have gotten the jump on them in many areas of defining political ideas. In fact, to this day, many liberals consider as cheating the selling of the meanings of words to the public through repetition, by claiming opinion is truth, and by asserting their victimhood, etc.. They say manipulating the meanings of words is propaganda and against their principles. It is, of course, a type of propaganda, and as such is underhanded and vile, but we are in the middle of a war of words, a battle for the political hearts and minds of America. In war if you use inferior weapons, no matter how much you are loathe to use the better ones, you will almost always lose. And liberals are losing. Frankly, contests for the meanings of words take place every day in all disciplines. The irony here is that liberals often accuse conservatives of being more concerned with ideological purity than serving the people when, in this case, it is they who are being ideologically pure to their own detriment.

As usual I have gone way off the reservation here, but there is a method to my madness. People often read the end of articles first, to see what passes for a summary. So I often put the salient points toward the end. Maybe not the wisest thing to do, but I have never been accused of being particularly wise.

I have to put the difference between liberals and conservatives in here somewhere. So here are my salient points. All the folks who love to blame brain structure or brain wave activity or genetics for people’s political philosophies seem to forget that willful manipulation can actually change the brain. In some cases, to varying degrees, they are mistaking the effects for the causes. This often happens when one is looking to support a particular position and only delves as deep as the level where their evidence lives. It doesn’t mean their science is bad, it just means it’s incomplete and, thus, often inaccurate.

Earlier I mentioned that I feel genetics does play a role in a person’s values, fears, and perceptions, things that help forge our politics. I used the example of how close virtually all national level general elections are. But I’m not convinced that the ideological split is right down the middle. Few genetic proclivities, although based in binary sources, are exclusively black or white, on or off. On a dualist continuum there is not one exact place where X suddenly turns into Y but a gradual change from one value to its opposite. If you over-generalize, which for our purposes isn’t all that bad, one can claim that the division of dominance can be divided into thirds. X is dominant over 1/3 of the graph, Y dominates another third, and the hybrid Z, the gray, is prevalent in the middle third. One can see this is fairly true in political choice, as polls show, most often, on nearly any issue, that one third are conservative, one third are liberal and one third will not admit to being either.

This is where the framing of the pictures comes in. Electoral politics is the battle for that middle third. It is inaccurate to call these people moderates. They cannot honestly claim to be truly conservative or liberal because they find truth in elements of both philosophies. But when they are asked to choose, as in an election which only has two choices, they have been shown to choose by turning inward to their feelings about a candidate rather than his/her stance on the issues. So the definitions of the words used to describe candidates and their issues becomes vitally important. This is because the picture a candidate’s or party’s words elicit can influence a person’s feelings in a much different way than the speaker intends, based on the dominant definitions of the words that are triggered in that listener’s brain.

So, convincing that middle third to accept your definitions becomes the goal behind the goal. There are plenty of ways to accomplish this. Public opinion normally moves up and down in somewhat of a sine wave over time, but that doesn’t mean a skilled politician can’t manipulate the public’s feelings, to sell approval of their politics and not their opponent’s, regardless of prevailing trends. They can. in essence, be all things to all people. This duplicitous nature, normally attributed to all politicians often comes from their forked tongued efforts to appeal to all of the Z side of the triangle, and win the votes of everybody except that hard core one third of the other team.

In many ways elections are about using power to keep power. One particular application of political power is, to my mind, the reason why so many incumbents get reelected over and over again, even in the face of a predominantly negative feeling among voters that “we need to throw all the bums out”. This is the power of the incumbency. It is is reflected in the voting booth, where, faced with a choice between the lesser of two evils, a choice we are faced with much too often, we will vote for the incompetent idiot we know over the incompetent idiot we don’t know. That power can come from just a word, a familiar name. The familiarity doesn’t even need to be with an known individual. Here in Scandahoovian country, just having your name end in “son” can get you elected. This phenomenon is a type of scientifically explainable preference as well, just of a different kind.

Yes, there is a great deal of science in how a person behaves politically. But as long as humans use the imperfection of language to communicate the feelings of meanings, there will be a direct and imperfect relationship between the two. We can agree that red is red much easier than freedom is freedom, because the physical evidence of color that we all share allows for little contest in the meaning of red. Imperfection opens the door for falsehood. If the truth is not completely true then lies can appear to have an element of truth. And the political philosophy salesman only needs to get his foot in the door. He only has to establish plausibility to persuade. The meanings of words are one of the best tools he has in his tool belt.

It’s a shame our brains have to use our consciousness as a communications go between. Things could be so much clearer if we could just plug it to each other directly.

Maybe that’s why there is such a deep, ingrained fear in the human psyche that robots will eventually supplant us on top of the food chain. In fact, they don’t even need food.