Saturday, September 30, 2006

DMV Success

Saturday, September 30, 2006

On this, the day of NC Pride, it is my pleasure to announce that we have had what can only be called a victory with regard to drivers' license gender markers. Some may recall a BLOG I wrote a few weeks back which made the point that nowhere in the NC General Statutes nor in the NC Administrative Code can be found ANY reference to appropriate gender markers for transitioning Transexuals. I had discovered, upon renewal of MY driver's license, that the policy had been set by the Commissioner of the DMV as set forth in the Driver's Examination Manual. I was not allowed to be privy to this document. I was clearly and succinctly informed that, barring a letter from my surgeon confirming that I had GRS, they would be unable to put the appropriate gender marker, an "F", on my license. They insisted I must keep my "M".

I explained to the officer on duty that this was a discriminatory policy and that it contributed to job discrimination for those seeking employment. No go. I was, however, given the name and phone number of the District Supervisor and was able to contact her a few days later. Suffice it to say that we were extremely fortunate to have found a sympathetic ear. She was not only conversant and educated regarding TS issues, but she knew someone...a close friend...who had transitioned and had GRS. She was happy to inform me where the policy could be found and from whom it was derived. She agreed to send me a copy of the policy.

In the meanwhile, my good friend, "A", an activist in our community for years, had taken an interest in my situation and was pursuing a resolution utilizing resources she had developed over the years. We were fully prepared to meet with the Commissioner of DMV, and to push the issue as far as necessary. But...another stroke of luck for our community. After speaking with the Help Ofice at the DMV, she was able to learn the exact language of the policy statement and realized that it had, in fact, been misapplied. Here is the exact text:

"For a Transgender person to obtain a change of sex on their NC drivers licence, they have to provide a letter from a duly licensed medical practitioner, such as a psychiatrist, therapist or other, that they are in the {PROCESS OF PROCEDURE} in changing their sex, or produce a court order."

The application of policy being currently used by all DMV's in NC had asserted that the letter need be from a surgeon. An examination of the exact policy clarifies the ACTUAL intent of the policy. It need only be from a "licensed medical practitioner". This obviously can include a pyschiatrist. "A" was assured that the policy would, in the future, be applied correctly and she called me to give me the good news. I, in turn, called the District Supervisor who had been sympathetic and so kind and discussed what I had learned with her. After a brief exchange wherein she stressed that the individual writing the letter must be state certified, she agreed with the PROPER application of this specific DMV rule. Furthermore, she has agreed to bring the matter up at the next meeting of State District Supervisors and make them aware of the correct application of this rule.

Needless to say, this is quite a victory for a number of reasons. Firstly, it shows that attitudes ARE really changing, albeit slowly, and the fact that both "A" and I found sympathetic ears in the government in NC is a breath of fresh air. Secondly, all transitioning TG and TS individuals in NC can now be given appropriate gender markers and will possibly face less discrimination in their quest for employment. Thirdly, the ruling in this state as well as in others...New York, Indiana, Tennessee and California...will help to establish "persuasive authority" for other states struggling with specific language in their attempts to create a fair and equitable policy regarding gender markers on drivers' licenses.

On this day of NC Pride...there is cause for celebration and for optimism. Let the flags of freedom be unfurled and may our cries for equal treatment under the eyes of the law be heard far and wide!!


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Spin Zone Revisited

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Again, I must ask the question..."Am I living in a parallel universe?". I feel the need to pose this query, again, after the declassification and release of the latest National Inelligence Estimate. Having read this document, I wonder if I have received the same estimate that those on the Right have described. They seem to beleive that this estimate is all the rationale needed to make the case for the U.S. presence in Iraq...our invasion, our prosectution of hostilities, and our plan for victory. Hello????!!!!

Yes...the NIE DOES state that a win in Iraq would demoralize jihadists, but...the honest truth is that we are NOT winning and there really is NO way TO win when fighting an insurgency in the midst of a civil war. Peter Galbraith, who has been to the region repeatedly, has made the case that this conflict is unwinnable. And, it is a no brainer that, initially, our leaving will create a vacuum. This is inevitable. Regardless of when we withdraw, there will be a power vacuum. The truth is that the U.S. NEVER intends upon fully withdrawing from Iraq. That is why we have spent literally millions of dollars to create a U.S. permanent base in Iraq. And, even at that, if and when the bulk of troops withdraw...there will STILL be a period of unrest.

The NIE clearly asserts that our entry into Iraq has led to destabilization, not only in the region, but with respect to jihadists worldwide. They state that Iraq has become the "cause celebre" for jihadists. Again...I ask...what NIE has Press Secretary Tony Snow or House Majority Leader Boehner been reading? The ability of these persons to COMPLETELY alter the gist of this statement is baffling. And, this is just the latest incident of revisionistic thinking we have seen. This administration and its crones have a habitual pattern of deceit, obfuscation and denial.

I just saw a new poll this morning of Iraqi citizens. They overwhelmingly want the U.S. to establish a time table for withdrawal and want the U.S. out within a year. The State Department's recent poll found that two thirds of Bagdad residents want the U.S. out of Iraq IMMEDIATELY. We just do not get the message. As an occupying force, we are unwelcome. The same poll just cited states that four out of five Iraqis believe that the U.S. military force provokes more violence than it prevents. 72% of Iraqis believe that the U.S. will NEVER completely withdraw and will maintain permanent bases in Iraq. These are startling statisitics but not at all surprising.

There has also been mention of a more recent NIE that the White House insists is merely a draft. But, there have been those who have alleged that a reading of the latest NIE paints an even less salutory image of U.S. efforts in Iraq, and, allegedly, asserts that, yes, this IS a civil war and no, there is no conceivable strategy to "win".

How many times must I, and every other sane blogger, make the point that this administration is practiced in the art of deceit? How many times will this administration's apologists completely ignore the truth and spin the facts 180 degrees? And, perhaps most many times will we, as American citizens, allow this administration the grace to get away with their preposterous rhetoric, their never ending campaign of fear and their complete snow job of the people who elected them?

The answer should, and must, be NO MORE TIMES!!!


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

War Powers Act

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

As a follow up to yesterday's BLOG...I was just informed that the great Republican compromise regarding the Geneva Convention and treatment of enemy combatants continues to endorse language that, for all intents and purposes, grants amnesty to all members of the Bush Administration for any and all potential war crimes allegations. In my humble opinion, this negates ANY value that may be gained from the concessions the administration has made. Yes...certainly...those changes regarding the need for evidence and the narrow interpretation of Geneva Convention provisions are important. But, as long as we create a situation wherein immunity is automatic, it must be clear that government officials may still mistreat enemy combatants, may still pyschologically torture them, and may basically engage in ANY activity they choose, legal or not, because they will NOT be prosecutable under the terms of the Republican compromise.

So much for the opinion that McCain, Powell, et al, had "seen then light" or that they had finally awakened to their party's undermining of the U.S. status throughout the world. This can be seen as nothing more than the further obfuscation of the truth. This compromise purports to be a reasonable interpretation of the Geneva Convention and an advisable course of action with respect to the War Powers Act and what constitutes legimate avenues of intelligence gathering.

As the expression goes...SSDD!!


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Executive Authority Revisited

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Last week the rift in the Republican Party with regards to treatment of ememy combatants was apparantly resolved after last minute parleys between the Bush Administration and senior Rebublican Senators and Congressmen. It seems as though the administration has made concessions regarding the need for a defendant to actually HEAR evidence presented against him. This compromise also alleges to narrowly interpret the provisions of the Geneva Convention regarding torture and treatment.

Nevertheless, the Bush Administration continues to claim executive authority regarding policy and, to my way of thinking, this is the kind of policy attitude that brought us down this road in the first place. Bush, Cheney, et al, insist that the 2nd Article of the Constitution provides for this unlimited executive authority as it applies to the President's Commander in Chief role. Section 2 of Article 2 merely states that he DOES have Commander in Chief powers. Period. There is no emunmeration regarding specific duties, about executive perogative, nor the extent of executive authority. To read into the Consitution such attributes as described would be an incredibly liberal interpretation of this instrument. And, considering the fact that this administration, particularly, has declaimed repeatedly against "activist judges" who liberally interpret the Constitution at their own whim, it seems to be rather, if not entirely, disingenuous.

I have heard, on many occasions, the expression, "What would the founding fathers have said or done" regarding any specific interpretation of this or that clause. A reading of the Federalist Papers will make abundantly clear that the founding fathers were particularly concerned about, and fearful of, an overly strong or extended Excutive Branch of the government. They attempted to sufficiently separate or balance the powers amongst the three branches with the intent that the other two would provide oversight and, if necessary, a stopgap, to executive powers gone wild.

It must be evident that the kind of Consitutional interpretation we see from this administration is EXACTLY the kind of extension of powers and authority that the founding fathers feared. Their intent was that the other two branches would not allow this to happen, but they had not accounted for the sell out we now see from the legislative, to a greater extent, and the judicial, to a lesser extent, branches. At least the Supreme Court has made wise and definitive rulings that tend to limit the Bush agenda. But, this highly partisan Congress need only revise statutory law to cricumvent the courts. If Congress decided to limit our concurrence with the Geneva Convention, or if it decided to amend the War Powers Act to serve the Administration's goals, there is little the Supreme court can do. Yes, they have the power of judicial review, but considering the nature of our current Supreme Court, it is far from certain that they would be able to be objective. In the case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, the court really had no choice but to rule in favor of Hamdan because of the nature of statutory law AS IT EXISTS today. But, would the court be as nonpartisan were the statutes different?

To many of us, the resolution of this conundrum regarding the apparent lack of separation of powers is to restore Congressional oversight. If only to restore the balance of power, it is critical that we not have an executive, a legislative and a judiciary that all march to the same drummer. Is this not self evident? Even if a person is a fiscal conservative and subscribes to conservative values, can they not see the logic of divided power which assures the system of necesary checks and balances and keeps the government from running amuk?

As we approach the midterm elections, it is critical that we keep in mind the spirit of the Consitution and those who constructed it. They valued a free press more than they valued a strong executive. Their concern for the individual far outweighed their concern for the state. they feared any system of government whose executive power became so unrestrained as to approach the dreaded monarchy they fought against. Let us reaffirm their intent and return to a government that subscribes to a bipartisan and balanced approach.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Through the Eye of the Needle

Monday, September 25, 2006

I recently finished reading Ace Lundon's "Through the Eye of the Needle". The basic premise is a "what if" scenario...what if AIDS had reached the epidemic proportions in the U.S. as we have seen in Africa and Asia. This is certainly an intriguing supposition not that far from possible reality. I think this affirms what has now become an urban myth, as echoed by Stephen King's Captain Trips virus in his book "The Stand". The combined distrust of governments and their penchants for secrecy certainly open the door for such speculations.

The beginning of "Through the Eye of the Needle" was a slow start for me. Mr. Lundon's style is jocular, related through the meanderings of the storyteller's internal dialogue. I would not call his approach to the narrative captivating, although by the middle of the book, the premise, in and of itself, was, indeed, quite riveting. In fact, it became one of those books I had to finish without setting it down.

The basic premise is that a wealthy and dynastic family has had members who have succumbed to the AIDS virus. The family, coincidentally, has as it's main source of income pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical research. This, of course, sets the table for their directed and secretive work towards finding a cure. It is also notable that they have targeted but influential government contacts. This scenario is the background against which the story unfolds.

What is truly interesting and inspired my imagination was the development of factional antagonism because of the inability to control the virus. Containment camps became necessary because the virus had mutated. Urban myths regarding methods of infection prevailed. Eventually, the appeal went out to each and every citizen to form neighborhood watch groups with the intent to expose their friends and neighbors to government scrutiny. What is scariest,however, was the dichotomy between members of the GLBT communities and drug users, on the one hand, and "normal", but infected individuals on the other hand. The treatment of these two disparate groups was markedly different and brought about the transformation of some of these containment camps into concentration camps. The neighborhood watch groups become vigilante groups with the intent to turn in ALL the members of the GLBT and drug communities WHETHER THEY ARE INFECTED OR NOT!!!

I guess it is this latter development that kept me on the edge of my seat. The similarity I perceived between this scenario and the kind of rhetoric I hear from Mr. Dobson (Family Values) and Rick Santorum (U.S. Senator), for example, is palpable. The resonance with what some on the Christian Right espouse is downright scary. Some of them have even gone so far as to imply that stoning of GLBT individuals would not be such a bad idea. I would have to say that herein lies the value to Mr. Lundon's book and his premise. It elucidates the inevitable outcome when one group attempts to marginalize another. When the impetus is religious authoritarianism, there can be no rational discourse because the haters generally appeal to rhetoric which is, to their way of thinking, irrefutable. This, of course, is because it finds its basis in scripture which is alleged to be the word of Deity.

These are issues which are, in this day and age, undeniable and long to be addressed. The polarity in this country is extreme in nature and group mindthink evidently runs very deep. An appeal to a more moderate philosophy will be required. Many believe that the kind of religious intolerance we see today cannot last forever and that it is destined to run its course. Nevertheless, as long as zealotry remains the norm rather than the exception, books like this one written by Mr. Lundon will enable us to envision the possible consequences iconoclastic thinking engenders.

I certainly recommend "Through the Eye of the Needle" to any person who has ever speculated on elitism, disenfranchisement and religious and social persecution based on blind doctrine. Before we can correct a problem, we must acknowledge its existance. The time for denial is past. It is now time to ratify what we can see through our own personal experiences and insist upon an end to the divisiveness that religious certainty often provokes.


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Rosh Hoshanah

Saturday September 23, 2006...Rosh Hoshnah...the Jewish New Year

Rosh Hoshanah, the Jewish New Year, began last night at sundown. Similarly to the New Year with which we are all accustomed, the Jewish New Year is a time for reflection on the past and a one for visualizing the future. Just like all measuring devices, it serves as a marker to evaluate just where we are today and where we are going tomorrow. It is a balancing mechanism, as well, in that it helps to place equal weight on all phases of our lives...the past , the present and the future.

I am not what might be called an "observant Jew". In fact, when I search within, I find that my spiritual beliefs do NOT resonate with much of the Old Testament or the God therein. The prevalence of violence, jealousy and retribution are alien to my personal understanding of the Great Spirit. I DO understand the connotation of Rudolf Otto's deity which diplays the trait of "mysterium tremendum"...a GOD who is wholly "other", a God which inspires awe, in the true sense of the word. Somehow, I can intuitively navigate around this seeming paradox by looking within and realizing that the life spirit both resides within each of us and is simultaneously wholly ineffable and unknowable. This coincidence of opposites, however, does not, or cannot, least to my way of thinking...the rage of the God of the Old Testament.

I am a Jew by birth, however, and there are customs and traditions that DO resonate. Modern Judaism is, for the most part, focused on life here on earth and not on any messianic concept of eschatology. We do good works for their own sake and not to achieve some kind of reward upon physical dissolution. This is highly appealing to me. Jewish mysticism is equally attractive to me in that it explicates a doctrine of emanations which seems to me to cogent explanation to how life and existence developed. Again, I can look inside and feel the truth of such a doctrine. A third factor that makes me appreciate my birth faith is the acceptance by modern Judaism of all other religions and its refusal to adopt myopic and elitist attitudes that demand this way to be the only way.

I can integrate all these concepts into the introspective and personal examinationn of my life...past, present, and future. The past always serves as a reminder and life's lessons are guideposts that help me to understand what I have done that was good and beneficial to all life forms and what things I may have done that were not so helpful. We hope that we can benefit from thses lesssons. The future is the bearer of dreams. None of us can live without dreams and aspirations. Of course, it is better to mold one's dreams around others than to turn them into narcissistic desires for self gratification. Life is always better when shared. The present is, however, where we live from moment to moment...and...lives devoid of this kind of presence become empty vessels, devoid of meaning. To live in the present implies a certain amount of focus and attention and substance. The present is the truest measure of accomplishment, happiness and self worth.

So...on this Jewish New Year which begins the 10 days representing the holiest time in the life of a Jew...I take a moment to reflect, to appreciate and to dream.


Friday, September 22, 2006

Thinking Green Starts At Home

Friday, September 22, 2006

I had so many ideas for today's BLOG...wanted to write about the meaning of success...wanted to further explicate my sentiments regarding sexual ambivalence...wanted to write about the start of Rosh Hoshanah this evening.I had also wanted to discuss the alleged Republican compromise regarding the Geneva Convention. But, it was brought to my attention last night that I had been remiss regarding my neglect of green related issues. That being's BLOG will be devoted to a green issue...thinking green starts at home.

We have all heard the expression..."Think globally...act locally". Truer words have never been spoken when it comes to green issues. The personal habits we develop, those same habits we teach our children, have an impact that far exceed the perimeter of our individual and separate lives. The town in which I live is a perfect example of a community that eschews the "act locally" part of the aforementioned expression. The litter strewn on roads and sidewalks, the daily trash thrown onto private lawns, the indiscriminate tossing of litter and cigarettes from moving vehicles...goes beyond the pale. This is a small town, one rich in history, small in size; yet, it conceives itself to be one in which the sense of community is important. Nonetheless, neither the citizens nor the elected officials...mayor, city council nor city planners...seem to care one whit about the face it presents to outsiders regarding it's trashiness. This also carries over into their position globally.

One can imagine the habits that youth will develop when they see their parents thoughtlessly throw trash from the car or see that the city has no interest in the rampant accrual of trash on the streets and sidewalks. Of course...they will carry this mentality into adulthood and, if they move from this community, will continue to maintain an attitude that they are entitled to throw trash anywhere they like. It is incumbent upon parents, and communities, to practice virtuous habits reagrding environmental and ecological issues because the net result is that nature and our quality of life standards will be the victims in the long run.

Habits learned early in life become the guide by which we conduct our adult lives. And, the developing attitudes we have regarding Mother Earth, the pollution she has undergone, and the global implications therein, become the policies instituted by companies and governments as we begin and conduct our professional careers. A grasp of macrocosmic/microcosmic relationships helps to connect our individual lives to our collective lives. By the same token, those relationships make abundantly clear the inherent effect local actions have on global results. Life does not exist in isolation or in a vacuum and as the world in which we live continues to metaphorically shrink, the bigger picture becomes much clearer. Pollution in Tennessee affects the ecology of Western Carolina...Pollution in the U.S. effects the ecology of Europe. No one region can take measures that may serve as insulation.

Al Gore has devoted the last 5 or 6 years to educating the world about global warming. One need only look at the declining status of glaciation , the loss of habitat by increasing numbers of species and the trend towards rising oceanic temperatures to begin to suspect that something is out of kilter. A quick perusal of government redacted scientific reports is all the evidence we need to understand the Bush Administration's penchant for revisionism. Now, more than ever, it is critical that we raise the collective conscience of public awareness and pass it on to our children and to the generations that follow them.

Ecological education starts at home and continues locally in our towns, cities and communities. It's province should be our parents, locally elected officials and company leaders. It should be ever evolving and growing and should be embraced by anyone chosen to represent us in government office. Lastly, the corporate and business world must not take precedence to environmental concerns; rather, they must be trained to make concessions on behalf of this wonderful and vibrant planet upon which we have been blessed with our lives.

"Think globally, act locally"...truer words...


Thursday, September 21, 2006


Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's inescapable! Extremists to the right of us...extremists to the left of us. We find those who declaim against extremism and those who plead its necessity. There are those who maintain the "correctness" of THEIR particular extremism while decrying someone else's version. And, of course, we have the myriad of pundits who feel is is within their bailiwick to analyse and evaluate what all these folks are REALLY saying, what THEY purport to be the "truth".

We are overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of these diatribes. We desperately need a breath of fresh air, a dose of reality, and a return to common sense. How can we accomplish this? We must take the dual paths of inward searching and outward communication. Such is the path of the Golden Rule and the Golden Mean. Were we to pursue the attitude which attempts to understand another's perspective, were we to refrain from asserting such maxims as "my way is the only way"...or...My God's way is the only way"...we would begin to grasp a means through this quagmire.

Common sense should be the key regarding any assertion that there is only one path and it is mine. The diversity of the world precludes any such monolithic claims. There are, conceivably, as many paths as there are individuals. Yes, it is true, the sense of community may create a path that many may pursue together, but as soon as the scent of elitism enters the air, the value of sharing that path is negated. Is it not obvious that elitism can NOT be a very spiritual asset?

The Golden Rule encourages us towards empathy. It's message is one of tolerance. Extremists who maintain that they, and only they, hold the keys to understanding the Great Spirit's intent are delusional. This includes all groups, sects or denominations which espouse this distorted they Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Wicca, Buddhist, Taoist, Shinto, Coptic, Hindu...whatever. And, historically, none have been innocent of such abuses at one time or another. Is it so difficult to accept the possibility that ALL religions and spiritual paths SHARE in the spiritual experience? May we not accept the validity of another's faith just as we accept the validity of ours?

One of the impediments in such a mutualistic pursuit is the existence, or creation, of spiritual texts and the interpretations therein. It is the interpretation of these texts that provide the grist for the intolerance mill. As soon as the assertion is made that this or that text is the truth, the only truth, as spoken by GOD...that's where the trouble begins. Yes, certainly, sacred texts may derive from a divine inspiration, of sorts, but when a religious group maintains a strict and constructionist understanding of spiritual texts, they use these as ammunition, as it were, in their mssion to promulgate and proselytize. They adamantly maintain the truth of these texts, that they contain the ONLY truths, to the exclusion of everything else. These texts are often held to be true even in the light of scientific and logical evidence which proves their doubtful authority. Unfortunately, many religious groups have lost the ability to understand allegory and metaphor. They fail to recognize that their texts point to A way, but do not point to THE way.

The Golden Mean is the tool we use to discriminate between extremes. It is the measure that accounts for divergent opinions and resolves them into a cogent and reasonable path that is neither exclusionary nor elitist. It asks us to pursue the middle path and to eschew ALL extremes. This does not imply a homogeneity as one might presume. It accepts diversity as reality but encourages the rational belief that in a world of infinite possiblites, it would be unsound to proclaim that only one faith derived from GOD's truth and that the rest were aberrations.

It is only when we appeal to each other's humanity that we can surpass the divisiveness and sectarianism that spawn extremism. Only when we understand the literary techniques of allegory and metaphor can we avoid the pitfalls of religious authoritarianism. Our progress as a society and as a world can only be accomplished when we have cultivated compassion not driven by ulterior motives but truly altruistic in nature. Our possibilites are equally as unlimited as the world's possibilities. It takes vision, however, to see past sectarianism and embrace the diversity that is so obviuously evident. It takes looking within and the desire to communicate without.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Microcosmic diversity

Monday, September 18, 2006

I have often written about diversity on a large scale...race, religion, gender, this variegation we see in human lives is reflected back to us through every facet of nature.

I was given an epiphany last Saturday night when I was afforded the grace to see, appreciate and assimlate the effects of diversity on a microcosmic level, specifically the mutifactedness of the gender diverse community. I had occasion to be invited out for the evening by a group who might describe themselves as heterosexual cross dressers. There are those in the TG community who might assert that there really is no such critter...that all hetero CD's are still in denial and are "in process". There was a time when I might have concurred, but no longer.

I realize, and this became very clear to me Saturday night, that we must embrace the differences WITHIN our community before we can expect to be embraced by the GLBT community, a slightly larger microcosm, or society at large, the so called macrocosm.
Why we should attach ourselves to pejorative judgement, to elitist and exclusionary mindsets, defies logic. It seems evident that the same factors that create division in larger populations are also at work here; namely, a lack of understanding leads to some type of fear...perhaps the fear that this "other" community is not serious enough or the fear that they will preclude or defer acceptance of OUR group. This is all perceived and maintained, by a party line, with alleged "higher" goals in mind, but the fallacy is in believing that ANYONE can be disenfranchised or marginalized and not inevitably and inexorably destroy the original intent of those "higher" goals.

I suspect that, regarding the differences between pre and post op TS's (who might consider their efforts to be "more serious") and hetero CD's are the elements of alleged promiscuity and frivolity. That a group of individuals should be spurned because they have embraced a certain joie de vivre is preposterous. Their zest for life should not only be admired but embraced! That is NOT to say that we must all become promiscuous. Each and every one of us must determine, for ourselves, exactly who and what we are. Nonetheless, there is no reality to a perceived threat to whatever "higher" goals we would like to attain. This same argument applies to all other subsets within the overall TG, or gender diverse, community, be they gay, lesbian, bisexual, gender queer, drag queen or any variant of TG...or anything else, for that matter. I understand (from an examination of myself) that perhaps the off-putting characteristic is the less than serious conception of sexuality, of which I, myself, experience a pronounced ambivalence. Any therapist could note that we are a culture which has repressed our sexuality and that we are a culture of mixed messages. At one and the same time, we are encouraged to embrace sexuality while concurrently remaining thralls to denial. This is a very strange combination, indeed! I do have further thoughts regarding my own personal take on this phenomenon, but I will reserve THAT discussion for another day.

We must never lose sight, however, of the proposition that either we all get to ride in ANY seat of the bus, or we are ALL consigned to the back seats. There are no exceptions and I have discovered that this is a fundamental issue for which I can abide no deviation. If all peoples are not given equal opportunitues and equal treatment in the eyes of society and the law, then no one is truly free. It would be an illusion. We may choose to live this illusion as though it were reality but we would necessarily be deluding ourselves.

As I sat with my new friends, saw their amorous interaction, I came to realize that they had EVERY right to be exactly who they are and to do exactly what felt right and good to them. And, furthermore, anyone who would choose to demean them by copping a "more TG than you" attitude has no grasp of the bigger picture and serves to undermine ANY effort towards a pervasive sense of tolerance and acceptance in society.

I felt a love for and bond with these new friends and embraced that joie de vivre they expressed without a thought of denial or repression. I experienced that epiphany... that we are all part of the Great Spirit's plan, that no one's life is incidental, nor insubstantial, and that we must all celebrate the beauty and wonder of diversity. We must always remember that we are mirrors, reflections, so to speak, of the rest of creation and that diversity and multifacetness are the real faces of nature.


Saturday, September 16, 2006

National ID Act and Transgender Individuals

Saturday, Septemeber 16, 2006

Here is the text I wrote to a support group regarding the Natonal ID Act and its effect on transgender individuals (the context is that I have been attempting to have the NC DMV assign me an appropriate gender designation on my NC drivers' license even though I have NOT had GRS (Gender Reassignment Surgery):

Hi everyone,

I'm not gut tells me that my potential struggle with the DMV may be dead in the water before it even got its feet wet!

Before I go any further...I am obligated to extend my deepest gratitude to (a friend) for her relentless assistance and support. Yesterday she forwarded to me the text of the National ID act, which was passed in May,2005:

H.R. 1268, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for FY 2005, Public Law 109-13.

It was bundled along with funding for the DOD, the alleged "war on terror" and tsunami relief.

Here is the text:

No: 109-3
Date: May 13, 2005
President Signs Public Law 109-13, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005
On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law H.R. 1268, the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for FY 2005, Public Law 109-13. This law provides emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2005 for defense, the global war on terror, and tsunami relief. The law establishes and implements regulations for State driver's license and identification security standards. The law prohibits funds from being used by a Federal agency to produce any prepackaged news story, unless the story includes a clear notification that it was prepared or funded by that Federal agency.
P.L. 109-13 prohibits Federal agencies from accepting State-issued driver's licenses or identification cards unless such documents are determined to meet minimum security requirements. It sets forth issuance standards for such documents that require, among other things: (1) evidence that the applicant is lawfully present in the United States; and (2) issuance of temporary driver's licenses or identification cards to persons temporarily present that are valid only for their period of authorized stay (or for one year where the period of stay is indefinite).
Division A-Title VI of the new law contains the following provision of interest to SSA:
Section 6076. Prepackaged News
Unless otherwise authorized by existing law, no funds provided in this Act or any other Act, may be used by an executive branch agency to produce any prepackaged news story intended for broadcast or distribution in the United States unless the story includes a clear notification within the text or audio of the prepackaged news story that the prepackaged news story was prepared or funded by that executive branch agency.
Division B—Title II of the new law includes the following provisions of interest to SSA:
Section 202. Minimum Document Requirements and Issuance Standards for Federal Recognition
Beginning 3 years after enactment, prohibits a Federal agency from accepting, for any official purpose, a State-issued driver's license or identification card unless the State is issuing driver's licenses and identification cards that conform to the standards specified in the new law.
These standards require a State to include, at a minimum, the following information and features on each driver's license and identification card issued to a person by the State:
The person's full legal name;
The person's date of birth;
The person's gender;
The person's driver's license or identification card number;
A digital photograph of the person;
The person's address of principle residence;
The person's signature;
Physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes; and,
A common machine-readable technology, with defined minimum data elements.
States must certify their compliance with the new standards to the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of the Transportation, may prescribe regulations establishing the time and manner of the certifications.
States must require, at a minimum, presentation and verification of the following information before issuing a driver's license or identification card: 1) a photo identity document, or other identity document if it includes both the person's full legal name and date of birth; 2) documentation showing the person's date of birth; 3) proof of the person's SSN or verification that the person is not eligible for an SSN; and, 4) documentation showing the person's name and address of principle residence.
States must require evidence of lawful immigration status before issuing a driver's license or identification card to a person. A State may issue a temporary driver's license or identification card to noncitizens who are temporarily present in the United States .
States are required to verify, with the issuing agency, each document required to be presented by the person to obtain a driver's license or identification card.
States must confirm with SSA the full Social Security account number presented by a person to obtain a driver's license or identification card. In the event that a Social Security account number belongs to another person to whom any State has issued a driver's license or identification card, the State must resolve the discrepancy and take appropriate action.
Section 206. Repeal
This law repeals section 7212 of PL 108-458, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Section 7212 required the Department of Transportation, in consultation with the States and DHS, to promulgate regulations establishing minimum standards for drivers' licenses or personal identification cards issued by States.
NOTE: P.L. 109-13 does not change any other provisions of P.L. 108-458.

National Conference of State Legislatures
(printer-friendly version)
On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law the “REAL ID Act of 2005,” which was attached to the “Emergency Supplemental Appropriation for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005” (H.R. 1268, P.L. 109-13). Title II of REAL ID—“Improved Security for Driver’s License’ and Personal Identification Cards”—repeals the provisions of a December 2004 law that established a cooperative state-federal process to create federal standards for driver’s licenses and instead directly imposes prescriptive federal driver’s license standards. The following table summarizes the act’s driver’s license title.
Provisions / Citation Summary
Repeal of 9/11 Commission Implementation Act DL/ID Provisions
§206 Repeals §7212 of 9/11 Commission Implementation Act of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (Public Law 108-458), which directed DOT in consultation with DHS to establish a negotiated rulemaking committee of state and federal officials along with other stakeholders to created federal minimum security standards for DL/IDs
Minimum Standards for Federal Use
§205(b) A federal agency may not accept a driver’s license or personal identification card (DL/ID) after May 11, 2008, unless the state has been certified by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in consultation with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to meet the requirements of the law
The DHS Secretary may grant a state an extension to meet the certification requirement if the state provides adequate justification for noncompliance

DL/ID Document Standards
§202(b) At a minimum, a state shall include the following information and features on a DL/ID: (1) person’s full legal name, (2) person’s date of birth, (3) person’s gender, (4) DL/ID number, (5) digital photograph, (6), person's address of legal residence, (7) person’s signature, (8) physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting or duplication for fraudulent purposes, and (9) a common machine-readable technology with defined data elements

Minimum DL/ID Issuance Standards
§202(c)(1) At a minimum, a state shall require the presentation and verification of the following information:
A photo identity document (except that a non-photo identity document is acceptable if it includes both the person’s full legal name and date of birth)
Documentation showing the person’s date of birth
Proof of the person’s social security account number (SSN) or verification that the person is not eligible for an SSN
Documentation showing the person’s name and address of principal residence

§202(c)(3)(B) A state shall not accept any foreign document other than an official passport

§202(d)(3) A state shall subject each DL/ID applicant to mandatory facial image capture

§202(d)(6) A state shall refuse to issue a DL/ID to a person holding a DL/ID from another state without confirmation that the person is terminating or has terminated the other state’s DL/ID

§202(d)(10) A state shall limit the period of validity of all DL/IDs that are not temporarily issued to a period that does not exceed eight (8) years

Verification of Documents Before issuing a DL/ID, the state shall verify, with the issuing agency, the issuance, validity and completeness of each document to be presented

§202(d)(5) A state shall confirm with the Social Security Administration a SSN presented by a person using the full SSN; in the event a SSN already is registered to or associated with another person to which any state has issued a DL/ID, the state shall resolve the discrepancy and take appropriate action

§202(d)(4) A state shall establish an effective procedure to confirm or verify a renewing applicant’s information

Immigration Requirements
Verification of U.S. Citizenship and Lawful Status
§202(c)(2)(A) , (B) Before issuing a DL/ID, a state shall require and verify valid documentary evidence that the person: (i) is a U.S. citizen, (ii) is an alien lawfully admitted for permanent or temporary residence, (iii) has a conditional permanent resident status, (iv) ) is a refugee or has been granted asylum, (v) has a valid, unexpired nonimmigrant visa or nonimmigrant visa status, (vi) has a pending application for asylum, (vii) has a pending or approved application for temporary protected status, (viii) has approved deferred status, or (ix) has a pending application for adjustment of status to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence or conditional permanent resident status

Temporary DL/ID
§202(c)(2)(C) A state only may issue a temporary license to persons who presents documentary evidence for the categories (v) through (ix) under the evidence of lawful status section above. A temporary DL/ID:
Shall be valid only for the period of the applicant’s authorized stay in the U.S. or one (1) year if there is no definite end to the period of stay
Shall indicate clearly that it is temporary and shall state the date on which it expires
May be renewed only upon presentation of valid documentary evidence that the status by which the applicant qualified for the temporary DL/ID has been extended by DHS

Non-Conforming DL/IDs
§202(d)(11) In any case in which a state issues a DL/ID that does not satisfy the federal requirements, a state shall ensure that that the DL/ID: (A) clearly states on its face that it may not be accepted for federal identification or any other official purpose, and (B) uses a unique design or color indicator to alert federal agencies or other law enforcement personnel that it may not be accepted for any such purpose

SAVE Participation
§202(c)(3)(C) No later than September 11, 2005, a state shall enter into a memorandum of understanding with DHS to routinely utilize the automated system known as System for Alien Verification for Entitlements (SAVE) to verify the legal presence status of a non-citizen applying for a DL/ID

Security and Fraud Prevention Standards
§202(d)(7), (8) and (9) A state shall ensure the physical security of locations where DL/IDs are produced and the security of document materials and papers from which DL/IDs are produced
A state shall subject all persons authorized to manufacture or produce DL/IDs to appropriate security clearance requirements
A state shall establish fraudulent document recognition training programs for appropriate employees engaged in the issuance of DL/ID

§203(a) Establishes a federal criminal penalty for persons who knowingly traffic in false or actual authentication features for use in false identification documents, document-making implements, or means of identification

Data Retention and Storage
§202(d)(1), (2) and (13) A state shall employ technology to capture digital images of identity source documents so that the images can be retained in electronic storage in a transferable format
A state shall retain paper copies of source documents for a minimum of seven (7) years or images of source documents for a minimum of ten (10) years
A state shall maintain a state motor vehicle database that contains: (A) all data fields printed on DL/IDs issued by the state, and (B) motor vehicle drivers’ histories, including motor vehicle violations, suspensions, and points on license

Linking of Databases
§202(d)(12) A state shall provide electronic access to all other states to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the state
Grants to States
§204 DHS may make grants to a state to assist the state in conforming to the minimum federal standards
Authorizes such sums as necessary for the fiscal years 2005 through 2009 to carry out the law (but does not appropriate any money)

§205 Grants authority to DHS to issue regulations, set standards, and issue grants under the law in consultation with DOT and the states


Note that this statute says NOTHING regarding change of gender...nevertheless, I cannot help but feel that a national standard will create massive confusion with regards to the TG and TS communities and efforts to achieve appropriate gender designation on our ID's.

My first thought was that this clearly represented a violation and/or abridgement of the language in the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constituition...namely, that any rights or obligations not specified in the Constitution revert to either the states or to the people. But, considering the nature of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose jurisdiction governs NC) and the U.S. Supreme court, I would speculate that it is doubtful we would get a ruling using that interpretation. The prevailing winds are not politically with us AT THIS TIME.

Perhaps of greatest concern for TG and TS individuals is §203(a):

"Establishes a federal criminal penalty for persons who knowingly traffic in false or actual authentication features for use in false identification documents, document-making implements, or means of identification"

Will this be used strictly for creation and traffic of false documents? Or, can this be construed to mean anyone with disparate documents. It is highly possible that all personally identifying documents must be aligned...which includes drivers' licenses, social security cards, passports and birth certificates.


"Linking of Databases
§202(d)(12) A state shall provide electronic access to all other states to information contained in the motor vehicle database of the state
Grants to States
§204 DHS may make grants to a state to assist the state in conforming to the minimum federal standards
Authorizes such sums as necessary for the fiscal years 2005 through 2009 to carry out the law (but does not appropriate any money)"

Obviously, anyone who has NOT had GRS and cannot have specific gender changes made to documents will have disparate ID's.

Furthermore, and I am waiting for specific information from the NC DMV, it is possible that to have gender designation on NC drivers'icenses amended MAY, in the near future, require an amended birth certificate. Anecdotal evidence has shown that this can be a painstakingly slow procedure and there are some states which are loathe to amend a birth certificate. In fact, Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee have ALL refused to amend birth certificates for cases of GRS(as of 2005 statistics).

So...where does this leave us??

Once again, the necessity for transgender and transexual individuals to take part in the political process has now become essential to any effort for procuring fair and equitable civil rights. Unless we are there to work for change INSIDE the system, we can expect that the system will NOT change one whit and we will continue to be marginalized and disenfranchised.

More to come??

I really can't say at this time...I have NOT given up; rather, I think we need to reevaluate the situation, bide our time and gather as much information as we can before appealing to the NC DMV. I will add, however, that the NC Commissioner of Motor Vehicles is responsible for the language in the NC Examiner's handbook. Additionally, the fact that New York State DOES have provisions for amending the gender on a D.L. PRIOR to GRS, as long as one has subscribed to the HBSOC, is a positive note. This N.Y statute can only be used as a persuasive authority outside of New York, but states often listen to persuasive authority in the creation of their own statutes.

Will keep ya'all posted as developments occur


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Government Immunity

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Just when you thought it was safe to come out...those familiar words...this administration has the ability to continue its campaign of shock and awe!! The latest development is the executive intiative calling for a Congressional amendment to the War Powers Act. The intent of this amendment is to remove any culpability for interrogators regarding suspect methods of obtaining information. Of course, this includes the topical and poignant considerations of torture, pseudo torture and simulated torture.

The prospective changes have been recently introduced in Congress and they aim to amend the language in Title 18, section 2441. This section's emphsis had been to enumerate actions and tactics that have been prohibited pursuant to the Geneva Convention, signed on August 12, 1949.

For clarity's sake, here is an exact representation of the CURRENT language of section 2441 of Title 18:

(a) Offense. - Whoever, whether inside or outside the United

States, commits a war crime, in any of the circumstances described

in subsection (b), shall be fined under this title or imprisoned

for life or any term of years, or both, and if death results to the

victim, shall also be subject to the penalty of death.

(b) Circumstances. - The circumstances referred to in subsection

(a) are that the person committing such war crime or the victim of

such war crime is a member of the Armed Forces of the United States

or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of

the Immigration and Nationality Act).

(c) Definition. - As used in this section the term "war crime"

means any conduct -

(1) defined as a grave breach in any of the international

conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949, or any protocol to

such convention to which the United States is a party;

(2) prohibited by Article 23, 25, 27, or 28 of the Annex to the

Hague Convention IV, Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on

Land, signed 18 October 1907;

(3) which constitutes a violation of common Article 3 of the

international conventions signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949, or

any protocol to such convention to which the United States is a

party and which deals with non-international armed conflict; or

(4) of a person who, in relation to an armed conflict and

contrary to the provisions of the Protocol on Prohibitions or

Restrictions on the Use of Mines, Booby-Traps and Other Devices

as amended at Geneva on 3 May 1996 (Protocol II as amended on 3

May 1996), when the United States is a party to such Protocol,

willfully kills or causes serious injury to civilians.

Below is the NEW language for which the Bush administration is seeking an amendment:

"which constitutes any of the following offenses, when committed in the context of and in association with an armed conflict not of an international character under common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949:

1. Torture, inhuman treatment, or cruel treatment. -- Any person who commits, or attempts to commit, an act specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering (other than pain or suffering incidental to lawful sanctions) upon another person within his custody or physical control shall be guilty of a violation of this subsection. "Severe mental pain or suffering" has the meaning provided in 18 SC 2340(2). [I.e. despite the title, which includes "inhuman" and "cruel" treatment, the definition follows only the torture definition, and does not include reference to legislation on "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

2. Performing biological experiments. -- Any person who subjects one or more persons to biological experiments without a legitimate medical purpose and in so doing seriously endangers the body or health or such person or persons shall be guilty of a violation of this subsection.

3. Intentionally killing any person taking no active part in the hostilities. -- Any person who intentionally kills, or attempts to kill, one or more persons who were taking no active part in the hostilities, including those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall be guilty of a violation of this subsection. The intent required for this offense precludes its applicability with regard to collateral damage or to death, damage, or injury incident to a lawful attack.

4. Mutilating or maiming any person taking no active part in the hostilities. -- Any person who intentionally injures, or attempts to injure, one or more persons who were taking no active part [in hostilities, presumably], including those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, by disfiguring the person or persons by any mutilation thereof or by permanently disabling any member, limb, or organ of his body, without any legitimate medical or dental purpose, shall be guilty of a violation of this subsection. The intent required for this offense precludes its applicability with regard to collateral damage or to death, damage, or injury incident to a lawful attack.

5. Intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury. -- Any person who intentionally causes, or attempts to cause, serious bodily injury to one or more persons who were taking no active part in the hostilities, including those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, or intentionally engages in conduct that places such a person at significant risk of serious bodily injury, shall be guilty of a violation of this subsection. The intent required for this offense precludes its applicability with regard to collateral damage or to death, damage, or injury incident to a lawful attack. "Serious bodily injury" has the meaning provided in 18 USC 1365(h)(3).

6. Rape -- Any person who forcibly or with coercion or threat of force wrongfully invades, or attempts to invade, the body of a person by penetrating, however slightly, the anal or genital opening of the victim with any part of the body of the accused or with any foreign object shall be guilty of a violation of this subsection.

7. Sexual assault or abuse. -- Any person who forcibly or with coercion or threat of force engages in sexual contact with one or more persons, or causes one of more persons to engage in sexual contact shall be guilty of a violation of this subsection. For purpose of this offense, "sexual contact" has the meaning provided in 18 USC 2246(3).

8. Taking hostages. -- Any person who, having knowingly seized or detained one or more persons in violation of the laws of armed conflict, threatens to kill, injure, or continue to detain such person or persons with the intent of compelling any nation, person other than the hostage, or group of persons to act or refrain from acting as an explicit or implicit condition for the safety or release of such person or persons, shall be guilty of a violation of this amendment."

Note that the clause whcih reads as follows:

"which constitutes any of the following offenses, when committed in the context of and in association with an armed conflict not of an international character under common Article 3 of the international conventions signed at Geneva 12 August 1949:"

They have restated the provision to exclude any conflict NOT of an international character, which precludes the inclusion of conflicts with other than "nation states" other words...unaffiliated combatants. This is a complete and total negation of the intent for which the Geneva Convention had been created and nothing short of the wholesale undermining of an interrogator's responsibilty or culpability. In short, this is just one more example of the tendency towards revisionism and one more instance of this administration's attempts to broaden executive power while shortening executive oversight.

Note, also, that the list of alleged war crimes has been shortened to exclude "less than" torture tactics as well as simultated torture. Excluded are psychological torture, sexual humiliation, sleep deprivation, prolonged standing, and a host of "psudo torture techniques" that will now be considered to be acceptable. Additionally, this amendment's intent is to include retroactive measures used at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib and other detention centers, extending back in time to cover any Bush administration abuses.

Any sane person who does not find this amendment to be frightening is clearly NOT paying attention. As that old expression goes, if you are not outraged, you are not paying attention. This amendment must NOT be allowed to clear the Congressional process and make it to Pres. Bush's desk, where he will, undoubtedly, sign it.

This amendment is a violation of rights. This amendment cannot be allowed to pass. It is obviously a reaction to the Supreme Court's Hamdan v Rumsfeld decision and an attempt to sideswipe the Supreme Court's intent regarding this case. George Bush, Dick Cheney, et al, are committed to the broadest possible interpretation of the Patriot Act and of executive authority and this proposed amendment is clear evidence for their agenda.. It is, perhaps, footwork they deemed necesary before their next preemptive and illegal invasion of another foreign nation. Because it will be internatinal in nature, it will now, if this amendment passes, be excluded from any of the Geneva Convention protections and safeguards.

All efforts necessary must be made to ensure that this administration is not allowed to breach Geneva Convention protocol and rules governing the treatment and interrogation of those persons seized as alleged prisoners of war. This is nothing short of a moral imperative!


Monday, September 11, 2006

Words of Wisdom

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

I will confess to not being an avid John McCain fan. He is far too hawkish for my likes. His fawning with Jerry Falwell seems disingenouous and staged. Furthermore, no matter how much he professses to not be motivated by politics, it is hard to take that claim seriously.

Nevertheless, I just listened to part of an interview of John McCain with Chris Matthews wherein the Arizona Senator's remarks were SO laudatory that I felt compelled to comment. He suggested that immediately following the attacks on Septembber 11, 2001, the United States should have immediately added dramatically to the Peace Corps. He further suggested that we should have offered educational packages to any one who volunteered for ANY kind of service to this country...Peace Corps, Vista or military.

I cannot help but wonder what the world might look like today had we heeded that advice five years ago. We might have capitolized on the great stores of world sympathy that tragedy evoked. We, perhaps, could have made a statement that the U.S. stands for a world united against terrorism. Other nations would have realized that American rhetoric was not just lip service, that we truly cared about issues such as poverty, hunger, disease and tyranny. Our actions could have conceivably turned the world's nations into allies. What is more, it is possible that the fertile breeding ground which has spawned rampant religious extremism might have been turned into barren soil.

There are lots of coulds and mights in this speculative argument. Unfortunately, we will never know if such possibilities were potential realities. Instead of a sympathy dividend and a sense of international comradery, we deposited hatred, alienation and global tension in our "foreign policy bank account". The interest on these funds has accrued accordingly. Every disingenuous action has been repaid by another country which disavows U.S. policy. Every soldier in Iraq has been countered with ten new radical extremists who would further their cause of Islamic expansionism. Each and every country with whom we have refused to negotiate, often those very same nations we demonized with "Axis of Evil" monikers...each of these nations now pose serious threats to American freedoms, not to mention the threats to other world nations.

Rather than embrace fair and equitable trade policies that might have arisen with a strong and influential Peace Corps, we opted for trade biased by corporate greed. These kinds of trade agreements are diametrically opposed to fair labor and environmental standards which might have been a boon in the fight against AIDS, other deadly diseases, hunger and poverty. We purposefully denied the influence of global climate and refused to be a cooperative agent. We hypocritically espoused nuclear non proliferation while continuing to develop new nuclear programs at home and rewarding allies with a blind eye regarding THEIR nuclear weapons programs. must be said...citizens of the world are not all rubes...not all naive and gullible. They have seen through our rhetoric, they grasp the overall U.S. plan. It is often said that foreigners love Americans but hate America. Is there any wonder at this? The reality is...any possiblitiy that our current administration will see the logic of this argument is extremely doubtful. But...the possiblity that a NEW administration might see the value of a stretched out and benevolent American hand is certainly not out of the question. It may be that a renewed dedication coupled with a new mutualistic goal will help impel us toward those strides that will restore the confidence and trust we have lost from our former international allies.

Again, I applaud Senator McCain for his far reaching insights and hope others may be inspired to build the kind of world we all want. It's fruition is within our grasp!!


Irreconcilable Differences??

Monday, September 11, 2006

What a heyday for the media...mourners, revelers, pundits and prognositicators...on this 5th anniversary (which some claim to be celebrating), no one is excluded. This day is an equal opportunity perspective is ruled out. I find within myself a cacophony of emotions. Grief, despair and confusion are all mixed up with a sense of hope and optimism. Unfortunately...I also have a sense of trepidation.

My grief is felt in empathy and in sympathy to those who died needlessly and to their families who suffered this virtually unimaginable tragedy. My hope is predicated upon my undying and uncompromising faith in the human spirit. In between are those other emotions which refuse to be quelled...the confusion, the fear and the trepidation. At times I find myself adopting the mindset of the survivalist...things are bound to get better, but they might get far worse in the meantime. We may have a distinctly dark period through which we must traverse, as a nation and as a world, before we can see the light of a new day, a new era.

My fears grow from political and social developments which appear to bode ill winds ahead. Our administration continues to perpetuate its agenda of lies, deception and fear. They appear to be escalating this agenda at every opportunity and one wonders just what they will NOT do in the efforts to realize their goals. I am acutely concerned about their view on dissent, their appeal, on nationalistic and patriotic ground, that criticism of the government will only serve to get Americans killed. My local, morning newspaper echoed the same chorus. Granted...the bipartisanship in this country is excessive and granted, the American public is disenchanted with both parties, but to imply that speaking out against policies which are detrimental to our freedoms is NOT to be discouraged. Our freedoms are predicated upon this right. Many of those who wrote and ratifed our Constitution were adamant with regards to an adversarial press. Some beleived a free press to be MORE important than the executive branch of government!

It is this pejorative view on dissent that emboldens my fears and which gives wing to my trepidation. Are the concepts of a strong America and a free America mutually exclusive? Does the debate between unlimited executive power and Congressional oversight have no common ground? Are the differences between those who would "stay the course" and those who would "alter the course" irreconcilable?

I choose a middle path...strength AND freedom, America AND the rest of the world. We must see past our differences and remove the blinders that render our vision limited. We need not be myopic; rather, we can see unlimited possibilities and work towards a world where terrorism finds no home, where equality and fair trade amongst nations prevails, and where the idea of this world, which no longer lives in remote and separated isolation, can truly become one of peace and prosperity.


Sunday, September 10, 2006

VP Cheney on Meet the Press

Sunday, September 10, 2006

My mouth is agape. I am in a state of complete and utter disbelief! I just listened to VP Cheney in his interview with Tim Russert and I cannot recall having ever heard a larger raft of lies, obfuscations and distortions of reality. It is unfathomable!! One must question if our Vice President is living in the same universe as the rest of us, reading the same accounts and assimilating the same facts. To say that this boggles the imagination is an understatement.

Asked if terrorism in the world has increased or decreased since we invaded Iraq, his answer was "I don't know". Asked if the sectarian violence in Iraq was all but a civil war, he said that no, there was no civil war. Asked what influences were reponsible for the increased violence, he resorted to his usual response... outside influences were largely responsible, namely Al Quaida. He insisted that our efforts have substantially diminshed the influence of Al Quaida, regardless of the fact that we have all but abandoned the search for Osama Bin Laden. His response to the assertion that Pakistan had made agreements with tribal factions friendly to Osama was to deny that Pakistan had also abandoned the search. When informed that the American public was largely against U.S. policy in Iraq, he stated that they were mistaken and did not understand...the same allegation he rudely proffered to Tim Russert..."What part of this do you not understand?".

He maintained that the Taliban is not gaining strength in Afghanistan, he glossed over the record setting opium harvest and used his sterotypical rhetoric that we must support Karzai or else we will be seen as "cut and runners". He made the same point with regards to Iraq. He again insisted that the only way this war could be lost was if American opinion "lost faith"..meaning that dissent at home enboldened the "enemy" abroad. He still insisted that we were making progress in Iraq. In keeping with his tradition of stating, at each juncture, that we are on the verge of winning...he asserted that 2006 would now be the year that we would see the tide turning. Mr. Cheney is evidently not familiar with the tale of "the boy who called wolf".

Domestically, he predicted that the Democratic party would not win the majority in either the House or the Senate. He still believes in his justifications for a strong and extended executive branch which has the power to reinterpret the Constitution at whim and at will. He has continued his attacks on Joe Wilson while defending Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

I can only hope that most Americans who listened to this conversation can no longer be persuaded by the continuous and unsubstantiated assertions that come from this man. The campaign of deception, the insistent appeal to fear, and the incessant revisionism are wearing thin. We tire of this man's rhetoric. We long for honesty and integrity. At the very minimum, we must work for a change in Congress and a restoration of oversight which is a Congressional obligattion and responsibility. Perhaps a vigilant House and/or Senate will curtail the ability of this administration, and this Vice President, to undermine our Constitution and to cow the American public into submission!


Saturday, September 09, 2006

Thoughts Regarding Passing

Saturday, September 9, 2006

The topic of "passing" has recieved a lot of attention amongst some of my support groups of late. "Passing", in the vernacular of the Transgender community, is the ability to present in the appropriate gender without detection.It has been my contention that those who are consumed with this issue do a disservice to themselves and to the community. I make the point that it lends itself to a sense of elitism and often has the same biases we, as a minority, have tried so hard to overcome. I still hold to this point of view when the motive for passing serves to contribute to a sense of shame, or embarrassment about being Transgender. Those who are TG and who prefer to NOT be seen with others who are TG are as guilty of discrimination as any other bigot.

After careful consideration and upon hearing some well founded arguments (figuratively speaking) from friends and acquaintances, however, I have a new perspective. For many, the necessity to pass is a safety concern. For others, it is a requiremsnt to remain gainfully employed. In the former situation, the ability to pass may provide protection against the victimization that accompanies discrimination and intolerance. Passing may keep someone from being attacked or from coming to harm because of a societal predilection to fear what we don't understand and to hate what we fear.

In the latter situation, we are only too familiar with the case of individuals losing their jobs upon the employer's discovery that they are transgender. In order to ensure that they can provide for themselves and for their families, it is not only prudent but critically important for them to be able to live in stealth, undetected.

As long as we live in a society that feels entitled to withold equal rights to all of its citizens, there will remain a need for certain individials to hide the fact that they are different...regardless of what that difference may be. Of course, this is not always possible. The witholding of civil rights, as they pertain to racial issues, is blatant and unmistakable. Civil rights, as they apply to the transgender world, signify an entirely new dimension...a new frontier, so to speak, and it will take a concerted effort by many to realize the changes we so desperately need.

In the meanwhile, those who can live without the necessity to hide, those who can fight for those rights openly, and without fear, must lead the struggle. Eventually, we hope to see the day when discrimination and bigotry, fear and hatred, have been subdued. If and when that day comes, we can dispense with the necessity to pass in order to keep a job or to remain safe.


Friday, September 08, 2006

Random Notes

Friday, September 8, 2006

Last evening I listened to Texas Rep., 14th District Representative to Congress, Ron Paul address the House of Representatives. I remain in awe! His address was logical, cogent and went so far as to fully deny the legitimacy of this administration's stance, not only in Iraq, but with regard to Iran, Lebanon, Palestine and Israel...generally the entire Middle East. His premise is that negotiation is the only stategy that is sensible and that conflict is not only non productive, but actually counter productive. He berates this administration as well as others, for not pursuing diplomatic discourse with these so called "axis of evil" countries. He decries our actions in Iran, starting in 1953 with the collaborative U.S./Great Britain overthrow of a DEMOCRATICALLY elected government in Iran and it's replacement by the autocratic and despotic Shah.

He commented on our abortive attempts at democratization and how they are bound to fail. He mentioned our efforts to thwart negotiations between South and North Korea. He addressed the issue of our presence in Iraq ATTRACTING more subversives rather than preventing them from increasing their numbers. Similarly, he recognized that our support for this last Israeli attack on Lebanon served to enbolden Hezbollah.

I marveled at this man's logic. I was overjoyed at his truly objective analysis of our foreign policy under George Bush. Is he really from Texas? Is he really a Republican? I presume he comes from the old school...fiscal conservatism and non government interference. What ever happened to that Republican ideology?
It was a breath of fresh air...and...I am attempting to get a transcript.

I was driving to Greensboro yesterday and was struck by the fact that I STILL see many cars with their "Bush/Cheney '04" bumper stickers on their vehicles. Remember, this is the South...but...I could not help but to wonder at these folks. They reminded me of people who inadvertently wear "kick me" signs on their backs. Surely the realization must be dawning that this administration has sold them out. It spends money recklessly, it practices secrecy regularly and it has a track record of deceit. Perhaps someone should tell these sorry individuals about that "kick me" sign they are wearing.

As the midterm elections approach, I must remark on the proliferation of punditry. Do these people reproduce by simple cell division? Their numbers swell as do their proportionate analyses and prognostications. I can see that during these next 60 days we will be deluged by opinions, interpretations and explications. I hope we are all still functionally literate by the time this season has passed!!


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Astrological Perspectives on Islamofascism

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Since I have been focusing on Islamofascism...I thought I might make a few astrological analyses and comparisons. I wish to thank my astrologer for his wisdom and his insights without which I would, most likely, not have understood much of this.

We (the world) are currently in the midst of a major aspect...a confluence of two planets' energies. They are Neptune in Aquarius and Saturn in Leo. They are opposite (180 degrees)to each other which usually signifies that their energies are in disharmony...that they "oppose" each other. Saturn is a planet that usually denotes safety, contraction, withdrawal. It has limiting influences which keep us from taking risks, getting involved...perhaps one might infer that they also contribute to a sense of fear, threat and those actions one might take to keep themselves safe in those eventualities. Being located in the sign Leo, a fixed fire sign, can lend to this paranoia a sense of obstinacy yet Leo, being a demonstrative sign, likes to be the center of attention. We can see egos that are overinflated, a need for control, highly dogmatic rhetoric and an overly developed sense of defensiveness. This can also lend itself to power grabbing and a lust for hegemony.

Neptune is the illusion planet, the planet of dreams and shadows. It can represent the subconscious. The sign Aquarius is an "electric" signifies the advance of technology, can represent either the culmination of individuality and self identity or the coming together of a group mind set. Neptune placed in Aquarius combines the illusory nature of that planet with the technological and group mind set of the sign it is in. Together, they point towards a mass hysteria, a group "mind-think", the unwitting and unknowing power of dogma over rationality.

If we look at the overall picture...we see a perfect depiction of what we, in the U.S., are experiencing...a pervasive ideology, espoused by this administration, which is couched in secrecy, which avails itself of modern techonology, which dispenses an agenda of fear, and which is imbued with fundamentalistic and myopic overtones. Internationally, the prevalence of another kind of fundamentalism...Islamic fundamentalism, also partakes of the group think mentality, the dogma of fear, unleashed through acts of terrorism, which have been described as "Mc Gyver-like" techniques...very Aquarian in nature.

This opposition is strong and it is pervasive. Astrology is not an absolute predicts trends, things that may transpire if no outside events or activities deter or affect these events. are not necessarily fated or predestined to occur...only exist within a probability curve which may or may ot happen. That being should become evident that we have the power to overcome the negative manifestations of this aspect. We must demand transparency and call for accountability from our government, we must dispel the dogma of fear, and we must not let technology become deified. We must work towards equality and away from classism which always feed mass hysteria.

We are not helpless nor is the situation hopeless...the stars teach us about possibilities and potential courses of action. But...the path we choose is fully up to us!!


Monday, September 04, 2006

Islamofascism Revisited

Monday, September 5, 2006

After a lively debate with a close friend, I find it necessary to make a few amendments reagrding my BLOG on Islamofascism. She makes the following points:

1) Classical fascism DOES often draw upon religious backgrounds...e.g...Shinto in Japan and a revial of so called paganism in Germany.

2) Classical fascism is often a reactionary response to a perceived threat.

3) Classical fascism envisions a return to some mythic past wherein the worle was allegedly in perfect balance but underwent corruption and degradation.

4) classical fascism relies upon a scapegoat who can be held responsible and blameworthy for the lapse in values.

5) classical fascism is usually under the authority of a strong and charasmatic figure.

6) She also contends that religious extremism uis not always and necessarily a response to repression, marginalization or exclusion and her reference is modern American fundamental extreme literalist Christianity and some versions of Jihadic Islam. And...I will fither concede, after investigation, that some versions of Muslim Haditha DO lend themselves to violent interpretations of the Koran and of Islam.

That being said...I beleive there to be a fallacy in describing contemporary Islamic, jihadic, extreme forms of Islam as Islamofascism. Even though we DO see the evidence of strong charasmatic leaders, a desire for the mythic return to "better days", and scapegoatism...we do NOT see the kind of centralized state control and authority that was a major ingredient to the fascism of the early 20th century. Fascist regimes also had a strong and centralized standing army under state control and with the exception of Hezbollah and the Irani armies. It would be difficult to describe unrelated extremist terrorists as centralized armies.

We can exempt modern forms of concept of a return to a mythic past and a disavowal of any primal religious belief...but...we might say that there are certainly totalitarian elements in communism just as there are totalitarian elements in modern jihadic extememism.

Were we to use the formula she proffered, we might be inclined to describe the age of the Crusades or the Inquisition or the era of witch burning as fascisistic...they meet all of the above criteria...yet...we know they were not considered to be so.

I think part of the key to resolving this dilemna is to return to a basic understanding of motives. Why is it that we find the use of the word "Islamofascism" to be so pervasive in today's political discourse? It must be accepted that it is used with the intent to manipulate public opinion, to drive the debate via the perpetuation of fear and that it continually makes the case that we remain safe only so long as the current administration is in charge. This view continues to make the point that if we do not engage in preemptive "war" abroad, we will be faced with war on American soil. These same proponents use language meant to disturb...that this so called "war on terrorism" is THE driving issue of the 21st century.

These ideas all amount to the politics of fear. They rationalize our killing of thousands of innocent citizens to avenge the deaths of 9/11. They conflate terrorist cells with despotic regimes and with consolidated plans to take over America and the world. It must not go unnoticed that these policies, in themselves, resemble fascism as much as Islamic extremism does...strong charasmatic leader...a desire by the fundamentalist right in this country for a return to better days...scapegoatism...

These appeals to jingoism and parochial mindsets are patently NOT appropriate nor are they in any way effective in our search for world peace. They serve to alienate, not to unite. They are the politics of fear, meant to stigmatize and radicalize the American population. Their only purpose is to stir a sense of nationalistic indignation to a fevered pitch and turn Americans into a world wide lynch mob.

I appeal to all citizens to resist this dangerous agenda, to continue the exercise of free speech and dissent, and to not succomb to rhetoric whose only logical outcome is to hasten world antagonism, divisiveness, contention and conflict.


Happy Labor Day

Monday, September 4, 2006...Labor Day

I would like to take this opportunity to send my best wishes to all those who have lost their jobs this year. To those who had manufacturing jobs that left for condolences. To those in IT whose jobs left for India...I commiserate with you. For those struggling to feed their families because their corporate masters felt compelled to create more profit for heartfelt sympathy. I send my deepest concern to those who no longer have health insurance, to those who have lost their houses, and to those who have lost their pensions due to corporate malfeasance and greed.

Studies have shown that corporate profits have grown substantially in the past 10 years. Studies also show that many executives make in one day what it takes an average American to make in one year. Golden parachute deals, executive severance packages and other corporate raiding have shot through the roof. Pension plans are losing their backing and are underfunded by some 400 billion dollars.

Our trade deficit with China is astronomical. Our federal budget deficit is approaching figures that are beyond our imaginations. Our government claims that the economy is healthy but tell that to the person who has no insurance, who can't feed her kids, who can't make rent.

It is obvious that the class war , perhaps the ONLY war being waged today, is raging. One can make the case that the so called "war on terror", that misnomer, is really an extension of a global class war. Sure...those religious zealots, regardless of what continent on which they dwell, fuel the fires of extremism and hate. But...most of the recruits they manage to acquire are dissatisfied with their lives, for one reason or another, and are ripe for the picking.

It should be equally obvious that the way to end the subversion of otherwise innocent and ordinary populations is to address poverty, hunger and lack of medical assistance. I watched a repeat on 60 Minutes last night about 13 doctors and paramedics, from New York City, who had gone to Pakistan following the earthquakes of last year. They were some of the few who could not stand by and watch and had to become involved. These intrepid and caring souls went to offer their medical expertise and their hearts. The respect they garnered, for themselves and for America was priceless and irreplaceable. Asked if there were a better way to win the hearts and minds...these doctors remarked, "Probably not".

This is truly the way towards preventing the terrorists and extremists of the world from gaining a foothold amongst those in need. We can applaud the efforts of Bill Gates, his wife and the Gates Foundation. We also extend our thanks to Warren Buffet and his family. But, the corporate world, in general, is NOT following suit. Their goal is monolithic...self aggrandisement.

I call on the corporate world to lose the blinders, to open the windows and doors of their hearts and souls, to abandon the philosophy of greed, and to embrace all the earth's creatures with care and respect, and in harmony. Use your mind's eyes...see the possibilities. Acknowledge the crossroads in the course of human history at which we have arrived...make the choices that go beyond selfishness. We have the and I and all of make changes that will restore a balance, embrace equal opportunity and equal rights. Please don't let the moment slip away...the results will be horrendous.


Sunday, September 03, 2006

Common Ground

Sunday, September 3, 2006

An often used technique in the art of negotiation is to arrive at some kind of common ground between the conflicted parties. It can be something of minor agreement on the weather, the shape of the table...anything that works to disarm the preconceived hostilities with which the parties have entered the negotiations. Or, it can be something of moment which appeals to boht sides' deeply seated emotions. Specifically, the intended result is to encourage both sides to put aside the baggage of animosity, fear and reluctance to communicate due to previous allegations made, one against the other.

We desperately need this kind of detente at all levels of discourse...worldwide, nationally and locally. The degree to which partisanship now prevails is rapidly becoming unstoppable. We, as a world, a nation and a community, must find away to stem the tide. Otherwise, we may reach a point wherein reversability will not be possible before all out conflict ensues. In this age of world wide trade, uncontrolled power, unchecked emotions and unlimited egos...the results will be nothing short of cataclysmic. These are not like times even as recently as 100 years ago when the chances of hostilities between two countires or regions did not threaten to upset a delicate world balance. That cannot be said for the world in which we live today. We DO live in a world where that balance is extraordinarily sensitive to external and internal change and it is easy to see that no country, no people and no community wil go unaffected.

Where can that common ground be found? There are undoubtedly avenues worth exploring. Perhaps we should focus on human values. There is no one, no nation, that does not want the best for its peoples...a decent opportunity to be educated, to be healthy, to not go in hunger. We can appeal to the universal desire for happiness, growth, productivity and love. Perhaps the last is the most important. Love. We readily acknowledge that there are universal values shared by all sentient beings and, perhaps, love is the most basic and the most enduring. Love is a starting point and an ending point. It encompasses all of life's endeavors, it envelops all of life, encourages and enboldens all growth. It provides the fertile soil in which all of our dreams can take root and grow.

A smile is another universal constant. We all express happiness, and love, with this archetypical expression. Archetypes know no artificial boundaries. They are part of our genetic heritage, part of what makes being alive life. Any person can look inside him or herself and find these themes regardless of whether they are in plain sight or if they have been hidden and submerged. They can be revived if they are not easily evoked because they never leave us nor do they ever die out. That is what makes them universal constants and what equally allows them to provide the common ground we so desperately need in this age of contention and division, of acrimony and fear.

We may find that, after we have fully embraced the love that lives inside all of us, a smile, a nod of tacit acceptance or an empathetic gesture may be emblematic of the archetypes that also reside within. We may discover that we are not quite so inclined to intolerance, which often arises out of a lack of understanding. A smile and the love which it represents may be the bridge to a realization of what we actually DO share. It may be a starting point that prevents intolerance from developing but rather ignites the fires of curiosity inquiry, and identity with others. Knowledge is the key to the dissoultion of intolerance. The dissoultion of intolerance is the key to the prevention of fear. And, the prevention of fear is a giant step in the effort to keep the seeds of hatred from ever growing.

A smart fellow once penned..."All you need is love"... (John Lennon.. whom I greatly admire). Truer words were never spoken!! It is time for all of us...the world, individual nations and rediscover the meaning and power of these words!


Saturday, September 02, 2006

Astrological Influences

Saturday, September 2, 2006

I will plead to my ignorance. The art of astrology is, like any other discipline, complex and multi layered. One's knowledge can be deep or superficial depending upon the depth of interest and the dedication to observation. My knowlege is not prolific but I do have a basic understanding of my chart and the changes I can observe within. And, I can see the effects of certain astological moments in time and how they may influence events. I will refer those who are more interested to my guru...Eric Francis, at Planet

Where am I going with this? I do not have the expertise to do the analyses of which Eric is capable, but I CAN detect that the world is going through a period of acute and dramatic moment. For those who attune themselves...the confluence of events is palpable and visceral. We can feel them physically as well as emotionally and spiritually.

Two predominant events seem to be occurring and their effects are pervasive. The first is a Neptune in Aquarius opposition to Saturn in Leo. These celestial movements are reflected in much of what has developed and is developing throughout the world and, more specifically, in the U.S. The false messiah of technology gone bad, the dangerous potential of group think and propaganda, the onset of actual and observable global climate changes. These are all within the domain of this conjunction. Our government is attempting to deviate away from the course set out by the founding fathers, a path that abrogrates many of our rights, including that most important right to dissent.

The second major event is the approaching Pluto/Galactic Core conjunction due to occur in December 2012. There may be some who are familiar with the ancient Mayan calendar and will recognize this time period coincides with the predicted end of the Mayan calendar. I somple terms, it denotes some kind of cosmic change...a reawakening to a new and enlightened path or the road to destruction. The choice is ours to make...what kind of world are we capable of envisioning and what efforts are we willing to make. Perhaps even more important, what kinds of Heart do we have, how do we understand the power of Love?

My intention is to be a gadfly... a nagging reminder that attention and observation must not flag...that we are required to be helpers in the cosmic plan...that mere observation is not enough. Please be a particpant, not a spectator!!

Again...for more details...I refer the reader to


Friday, September 01, 2006

Just Imagine...

Friday, September 1, 2006

Here we are...the first day of September...midterm elections are a mere two months and a week away. The Republican Party's campaign to maintain it's vise-like grip on all three branhes of government is well underway. By some pundit's reckoning...a week earlier then the prior after Labor Day onset to the campaign as in previous years. It is obvious that Karl Rove, et al, have decided to use the same theme as in 2004 and 2002...the focus on terrorism. They have, however, added a new dimension by beefing up the rhetoric with the use of stigmatizing language meant to shame the public into returning them to Congress. Not the least of these tactics is to compare dissent with Nazi appeasement.

With that in mind, I have created an "imaginary" scenario...reminiscent of the days preceding World War Two and Hitler's rise to power.

Imagine a country where the goverment in power has relied upon nationalistic fervor to set its agenda. The appeal to patriotism is a dominant theme and it's incessant use creates a sense of urgency. Imagine, in this scenario, that the country uses paranoia as a tool to enhance the nationalistic impulses of their agenda. The people are fed a steady diet of reasons to live in fear and a litany of demonstrative examples to show them that, in fact, their very lives are threatened by "the enemy", whomever that might be. This government creates an atmosphere which is highly charged and the tool of divide and conquer is used to make the point: You are either with us or against us. Disagreement is discouraged and couched in language that creates the belief that those who dissent are collaborators.

This imaginary country uses propaganda, half truths and mis and dis infomation to bolster its arguments in order to create the palpable fear needed by the government to maintain and extend its control. There is enough truth to ensure that the public "takes the bait", but, because the populace has been so stirred up by the nationalistic rhetoric, few make the effort to fully examine those statements issued by the leaders. Those who do, again, are lambasted and relegated to those who give aid and comfort to the enemy. The propaganda machine dredges up old villains to be used as examples with which to describe our ememy and to portray those who dissent. They are characterized in the most vile terms...they are despicable, evil, and detrimental to the well being of society.

Again, in this imaginary land, there is a natural division of its peoples, some who are considered to be on the "A" list...everyone would LOVE to be there...and those considered to be on the "B"...list...the pariahs, the outcasts, those deserving of blame. If only "those people" were not here to spoil this wonderful world for all of us "A" people!! The government manages to marginalize them, to disenfranchise them, and, regardless of how loudly they speak, the population's sight line is focused on that nationalistic zeal that has swept them into a tide patriotism. The condition of the "B's" goes unnoticed and unaddressed. The divide between the "haves' and "have nots" is visceral.

Does this not seem despotic and, perhaps, totalitarian? Perhaps this is the beginning of a fascist regime, which could be measured by the strength of the ruling party and the state, as well as its consolidation of power. Any predilection towards hegemony in the region, or in other regions, or attempts at neocolonialism might be clues that this government is imperialistic. They might use the excuse that they are in dire need of natural resources to maintain their way of life. This regime may feel the need to spy on its citizens, to detain them without just cause, to invade their privacy. These actions would be rationalized by that ever present appeal to fear: that, unless our government is strong and takes these necessary measures, we will be overun by the enemy. We must take the fight to them...otherwise, they will bring the fight to us. The terror that we will be attacked is the driving force behind all of this government's actions. It may say that these measures are unfortunate, but necessary.

This imaginary country might appear to some as a nightmare scenario...opposed to everything that the United States stands for: freedom of expression, due process, equal rights under the law for ALL citizens. Unfortunately...this IS the United States as it exists today and as this administration maintains it must be. Many have expressed the opinion that the Bush Administration has threatened the very fabric of our Constitution, and that the effort to extend executive power will serve to undo the rights our founding fathers fought so desperately to create. It's use of fear as a motivator, it's litany of half truths and untruths, it's cherry picking of information to bolster its agenda, its spying on its own citizens, it's pandering to wealth...these are all tactics that a depotic and totalitarian regime might avail itself.

It is imperative that the American public sees through this illusion that George Bush and his team have conjured. Yes...there is an ever present threat to world peace by religius extremiests, but not all of them are practicing Muslims. Extemism, in the name of religious fervor, is nothing new and has been used effectively by ALL faiths throughout history. We can, however, stem the tide of converts to this zealotism by refusing to occupy other nations, by not forcing our standards upon them, by not making the art of negotiation all but extinct and by maintaining equal and fair trade with other nations.

We need a new strategy...the old one is not only ineffective, but is counter productive to world peace and, in reality, is hastening the conflict. We must let the Bush Administration know we want change and the first place to do that will be by returning Congress to the sane care of the Democratic Party.