23 May 2016

Update no.753

Update from the Heartland
No.753
16.5.16 – 22.5.16
To all,

            Saturday evening, our local family gathered at West Elk High School in Howard, Kansas, to witness Granddaughter Tylyn’s graduation from high school.  She graduated with honors and a GPA of 3.89.  Well done, Tylyn!  We are very proud of her accomplishments.  She will begin her college education at MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas.  Tylyn’s family offered a delightful buffet reception afterward.  We all had a great time.  Congratulations, Tylyn.

            In Tuesday’s Wichita Eagle, this editorial caught my attention:
“Allow gender change on birth certificate”
Editorial
Wichita Eagle
Published: MAY 17, 2016 12:06 AM
I immediately wrote a short letter to the editor.
            All of my life I have stood for the fundamental and unalienable rights of every citizen to their choices in “Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness.”  I served 25 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, defending those rights for every citizen, not just the chosen.  I am a supporter of and advocate for transgender citizens.  How they see themselves and choose to identify themselves is their private choice entirely, full stop.  I laud your support of transgender citizens in opposition to the archaic notions espoused by the Brownback administration.  What the state government is attempting to do, as is being done in other states, is wrong on many levels and contrary to the founding principles of this Grand Republic.
            Yet, I am deeply troubled by your editorial.  A birth certificate is an historic document; it is not a matter of gender identity; it is a simple, direct, snapshot of a moment in time, like a photograph.  It represents the judgment of a medical doctor at the time of birth based on her/is highly educated observation of genitalia at the moment of birth – anatomy and biology, not gender identity.  Allowing retrospective alteration of that historic document is NOT the way to solve our current political debate.
            We are all embarrassed by Article IV, Section 2, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution.  Fortunately, that shortsighted, compromise provision was superseded by the 13th Amendment, but it was constitutional law for the first 77 years of this Grand Republic – that is history.  We cannot and should not attempt to alter history.
            I strongly urge you to focus the ire of your pen on the root cause, not the symptoms in this question.  There remains a significant and influential minority (perhaps even majority, depending upon perspective), including our current governor, who feel it is their right, their obligation, their duty, to impose their beliefs on every resident of the Great State of Kansas.  It is that antiquated, ill-informed, intellectually unsound attitude that is the root cause here.  Gender identity is NOT the problem.

            Although I doubt anyone reading this edition of the Update is unaware of the disappearance of Egypt Air Flight 804 (MS804), I feel compelled to note that far too many people from political presidential candidates to technical analysts (who should know better) have jumped far too quickly to terrorism as the cause.  While I understand and appreciate the urge, in the troubled times in which we live, the available public evidence does not justify such presumptive statements that are not helpful for the truth.  The search units have recovered surface debris from the flight.  I suspect they will locate and recover the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) in comparatively short order.
            A few reminders might be useful . . . Egypt Air Flight 990 (MS990) [31.10.1999] could have easily been classified as terrorism, and yet more likely it was suicide with company, like GermanWings Flight 9525 (4U9525) [693, 694; 24.3.2015].  Unfortunately, we are likely to never know why the MS990 crashed.  Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) [638, 691, 711, 716; 8.3.2014] disappeared; it may well have been terrorism, but it could also quite plausibly be another suicide with company, e.g., 4U9525.  My message here . . . let us focus on the facts, however long it takes those facts to emerge, and not jump to emotional conclusions.

            I usually do not pass along the doomsday crap I read nearly every day.  Yet, occasionally something sparks my attention.  Here is an exception:
“Enjoy your transgender bathrooms. We just lost America.”
by Kyle S. Reyes
New Boston Post
Published: MAY 17, 2016
This one caught my attention, largely because of the title.  OK . . . call me shallow!  Guilty!  Reyes last two sentences seem the most relevant to me.  “It’s time we start having some very difficult and very real conversations. I hope this helps start that.”  Agreed.  That has been the underlying purpose of this humble forum for more than a decade and remains my primary motivation to continue spending the time to collect, digest and reflect the information.  Fortunately, for all of us, enough readers choose to contribute their opinions to further the objective of this humble forum.  Thank you all.

            For those who are concerned or worried about this whole transgender matter, I have just one question.  What do you think has been going on for the last . . . oh say . . . 50 millennia?  Non-heterosexual people, including gender-ambiguous folks, have been part of humanity since human ancestors walked upright.  Have gender-ambiguous people been holding their urine in some miraculous manner?  Laws discriminating against non-heterosexual or gender-ambiguous citizens are wrong, ill-informed and otherwise really bad at the most basic level.   Are we really going to inspect genitalia or birth certificates before anyone can use the restroom?  Really?  Is this really what we have become?  Creating a boogie-man for ignorant citizens to fear is hardly unique or even new.

            Just an odd thought that came to me this week . . .
            Regardless of the religious beliefs of any of us, or whether any of us believes in an after-life of any form, the notion of an after-life has profound wisdom on many levels for me.  Since my religious faith is predominately Christian, I shall use the word ‘heaven’ to represent the concept of an after-life.
            The introduction of the concept of heaven into the teachings of the revealed religions strikes me as one of, if not the, most profound elements of religious faith, in that our actions in our lives of the flesh will be judged for eternity for their worthiness.  This to me is the essence of conscience, morality and respect for other life-travelers around us.  Without that sense of post-life judgment, peaceful co-existence would be much more difficult to achieve.  Morality is what we do when no one is watching – the rules of conduct that guide our behavior.  Thus, the thought that God is watching and our actions will be judged is a civilizing concept that has made us all better, regardless of our belief systems.

           An interesting opinion:
'God is Being Eroded, Eclipsed, Liquidated' in the United States, Cardinal Says – Robert Sarah warned against a 'demonic' threat to American society and encouraged prayer.”
by Rachel Dicker | Associate Editor, Social Media
U.S. News & World Report
Published: May 18, 2016, at 1:31 p.m.
I shall respectfully and emphatically disagree with Cardinal Robert Sarah.  His cited reasons are private matters, just as an individual’s relationship with God (and her/is choice of religion) is a private matter.  I will continue to argue with the likes of Cardinal Sarah. We must mature for secular society to recognize the equality of every human being, and the fundamental right of every citizen to freedom of choice.  He is not the arbiter of right and wrong, good and bad.  He seeks to shame people into conformance with his beliefs, his notion of worthiness.  My faith in God is far stronger than he believes and it cannot be eroded, eclipsed or liquated by anyone.

            An article that instigated a thread of exchange:
“Can White Kids Grow Up To Be Black? Some Preschoolers Think So”
CBS Detroit
Published: May 19, 2016; 8:32 AM
Contributor comment:
“Very true.  Our nation is rapidly going down the shiter, as the masses turn into those low IQ folks in Idiocracy, or those with higher IQ but no real way of using discernment.”
 . . . to which I replied:
I respectfully and adamantly disagree, my friend.  We have survived far, FAR worse.  We shall overcome.
 . . . the follow-up comment:
“Thank you for the respect and I understand those that are not concerned about our trend-vector, at least from some the perspective of Americans.  I think the resistance many of us have whether this subject email's news item or let's say the one hot in the press now, the transgender bathroom debate, is many of us believe the GOV and liberal if not socialist news media (and Hollywood, and the music industry) are acting as change agents, not for the good of the ones they say they are protecting, but to gain more power and contain our free thought and speech, if not even locus of control.”
 . . . to which I replied:
We are only controlled if we allow them to control us.  I see the issue you illuminate in an entirely different light.  The Press is no different from society at large.  Democracy depends upon diversity of opinion, vigorous public debate, disagreement, arguments and sufficient citizens who seek solutions.  A lame attempt to maintain the status quo ante on some idealized "good old days" is simply resisting change, maturation and attempting to stop the tides.  Whether the Press is intentionally or unintentionally trying to affect change is really irrelevant.  In a viable democracy, we are and should be exposed to a very broad spectrum of opinions.  We filter, digest, absorb and eventually adopt a perspective on any particular issue.  My concern in the transgender issue is the right of every citizen to dignity, respect and equality under the law.  Gender identity, sexual orientation, sexual conduct itself, are private matters and should be beyond the domain of government or other citizens for that matter.  Passing laws about imaginary boogie-men and discriminating against a very small segment of our citizenry is wrong in the worst possible way.  So, I say and suggest . . . we do our job as citizens . . . listen, argue, decide.

            Comments and contributions from Update no.751:
“First of all, congratulations to your daughter.  I wish her the best.
“Now, what caught my eye this week was the following:
“Brownback claimed the success of the Republican front-runner in the primary season is directly attributable to President Obama.  The really sad reality in all this, Republicans appear even more pathetic when they blame everything, including their own primary results, on President Obama – the boogie-man did it.  Really?  What are We, the People, supposed to think of this juvenile nonsense?  The anger that the Republican front-runner managed to tap into is much larger than President Obama and the desperation that has led so many to grasp at the closest life-ring they can see.
“Specifically, Brownback says: ‘The really sad reality in all this, Republicans appear even more pathetic when they blame everything, including their own primary results, on President Obama – the bogeyman did it.  Really?  What are We, the People, supposed to think of this juvenile nonsense?’  How conveniently he forgets eight years ago when the democrats blamed everything on President Bush.  What did We, the People, think then?  Well, I’ll tell you what We, the People thought.  We were schmoozed by a smooth-talking community organizer from Chicago, and you know the rest of the story.  We are now paying for it.  We’re trying to dig ourselves out of a severe decline in National leadership and eight years of societal degradation as a result.”
My response:
            Re: “How conveniently he forgets eight years ago when the democrats blamed everything on President Bush.  I have mentioned this observation many times in my writing.  I did not appreciate the mindless negativism of the opposition during the Bush (43) administration, just as I do not appreciate the exact same mindless negativism of the opposition during the Obama administration.  That said, I do not agree with “a severe decline in National leadership.
            Re: “eight years of societal degradation as a result.  What exactly are you referring to hear?  Yes, our society has its very real and serious problems, but our problems today pale in comparison to what we faced in the 60’s & 70’s as our society was being literally torn apart at the seams.
            I understand and accept that some folks do not appreciate what President Obama has done, yet to portray his performance in totally negative terms does not recognize reality.  He has accomplished a great deal.  He is certainly not stood up to my expectations, but total failure, I cannot find justification for such a conclusion.
 . . . follow-up comment:
“When I try to weigh in on your posts I am generally referring to the here and now as I was with the most recent post regarding the present abysmal administration and the to be abysmal administration, not the 60s and 70s.  You forget that we are not that far apart in age.  I was there during those times.  Mindless negativism or not, aren’t there facts to be taken into account?  When I speak of a severe decline in leadership, I am speaking of over extending authority on using Executive Privilege, enlisting the likes of Al Sharpton as an advisor, facilitating/allowing the IRS to target conservative organizations, facilitating/allowing the EPA to do the same, instigating social outrage by weighing in on situations that he should have stayed out of (Travon Martin), treating the military with disdain, apologizing for America, facilitating the Benghazi cover up, exerting control over the Justice Department so as to prevent them from doing their job, i.e., taking the justice out of Justice Department, and not holding those under his domain, or himself,  responsible for their/his actions, and for making a secret deal with Iran that may not be in the best interest of America or the world, and for promoting/feeding the entitlement base in order to garner votes.  All of this sets the tone for contemporary societal degradation, not degradation in the 60s or 70s.  Aren’t the generally history-ignorant populace looking up to contemporary leadership for direction, not leaders of the past as you or I might, or as some intellectually savvy minds might?  And then I get home from work yesterday to find that our arrogant leader hijacked the commencement exercise at Rutgers to further his own and his party’s agenda.  On a positive note, Obama securely took the mantle of worst president of all time away from Jimmy Carter.  Okay, my rant is over.  My fear in trying to provide you adequate rebuttal is coming off like Alan Combs or Juan Williams or Valerie Jarrett or Jehmu Greene who hem and haw and deflect, and evasively seldom provide any answers of substance when asked simple questions.  I wish I had the time to debate you on your level, and for not being able to do so, I apologize.
 . . . my follow-up response:
            My reference to the past is for point of comparison, nothing more.
            The long and short of this . . . you are entitled to express your opinion, as am I, and I will always listen.  So, we shall respectfully disagree.
            Re: executive orders.  I find it rather baffling that critics of President Obama seem to believe President Obama’s use of executive orders is somehow excessive compared to other presidents.  I think the evidence will show every president from Franklin Roosevelt and subsequent used executive orders in ways that can easily be argued as excessive.  I am not aware of any executive order issued by President Obama that is out of the ordinary when compared to his predecessors.
            Re: Al Sharpton.  Come now, every president should listen to a full range of voices.  I am not a fan of Sharpton for a host of reasons, but in some circumstances, I would like to hear his opinion.  Surely, we are not suggesting the president should only listen to people we approve of in society?
            Re: IRS.  I have written before, every administration has abused the IRS, including Bush (43) and Reagan.
            Re: EPA.  Now, there is a worthy topic.  Some of the EPA’s most recent decisions exceeded their authority, appear to be driven by a political agenda, and those decisions have been more impactful on society.  Just like the IRS, the EPA is NOT a political instrument.  Again, the Obama administration is not the first to use federal agencies for political purposes; this observation does not excuse such conduct; violators should be prosecuted, but they have not been in this administration or previous administrations.
            Re: social outrage.  This is an arguable point.  Again, I look to history.  President Truman took on racial discrimination as a virtual singular voice back in his day; he unilaterally banned racial discrimination in federal employment and military service by issuing Executive Orders 9980 & 9981 [26.7.1948].  Some members of Congress wanted to impeach him for that action alone, and Truman alone had many others.
            I should continue my observations of your points, but this should suffice.  So much of our assessment of any individual’s performance, opinions, or positions depends upon perspective, e.g., the glass half full metaphor.
            You are doing quite well with your rebuttals.  I believe I clearly appreciate your opinions regarding President Obama.  We simply do not agree.  I am not an unseeing, unthinking supporter of President Obama; I only seek a balanced assessment.  I simply believe President Obama’s performance is as negative as your portray.
 . . . Round three:
“Ah, there is finally a glimmer of hope in my Sisyphean rebuttals.  We agree that neither of us is a fan of Al Sharpton.  However, unlike you, it would please me to no end to never hear another peep from him.”
 . . . my response to round three:
           Wow!  Oh my, I had to resort to the big boy’s dictionary for that one – “Sisyphean” – wow! 
            I choose to hear all voices . . . well, within reason.  I read Mein Kampf, because I wanted to know how or why he thought the way he did and acted out the way he did, not because I had some yearning to be a National Socialist.  Voices we don’t like are important, perhaps more important than voices we like – peaks need the valleys to be peaks.
            There is always hope.

Another contribution:
Subject:  Re: Update no.752
From:  "Darren"
Date:  Mon, May 16, 2016 3:26 pm
To:  "cap@parlier.com"
“Thank you.   I've done many same-sex weddings in the limousines, mostly females.  Never had any issues and they always handle themselves well, respect the cabin and myself, and usually tip well.  I've actually made friends with one of the couples, the more husband kinda role one, she served in military and I've actually driven her son's graduation from HS celebration.  It's been a word-of-mouth thing where in their community they tell others about our company and my service, and specifically request me.  I treat 'em all like I treat anyone else--well and with respect (I hope).  I may not like what Target is doing, or Obama, on this transgender restroom/locker room issue, but I do try not to judge those in the LGBT community, as I am not above them or any better.  If there is judgment, I let God do that or the laws of karma.  There are many-many worse things than those who are wanting to marry as same-sex couples.  Just wanted to state my position on that matter sir.”
My reply:
            Thank you for your generous words and observations.
            I did not convey the joyous news in our family to seek approval, or to impose my beliefs on anyone else.  As always, my words are only my opinion, my perspective, nothing more.  I am proud of our daughter and our daughter-in-law.  They are good people, good citizens, who simply are working on their pursuit of Happiness, as each of us has an inalienable right to do in life.  Let’s allow them that without condemnation.
            No one is asking for acceptance, only respect . . . for their choices (for anyone’s choices), as all of us would expect for our choices.
            Denying transgender citizens the restroom of their choice is judging them and not showing them respect for their personal identity.  Who are we to judge?  Target is trying to respect the rights of all citizens, including transgender citizens.  Let us deal with criminal conduct when it occurs, not our perception to other folk’s private lives.

A different contribution:
“First of all, hurray for committed loving relationships!  Thank you for sharing your joy, something with which I have had experience because of similar unions of folks I love.  Too bad that our government from the earliest colonial days made marriage a legal issue rather than leaving it up to non-governmental religious or other rule makers.  All my adult life I have believed, and occasionally been criticized for it, that it was unconstitutional for government to favor or disfavor marriage in any way whatsoever, all the while hypocritically taking advantage of any tax breaks my marital state afforded.  Our country's mistake of having made laws defining, controlling, favoring, disfavoring, forbidding, rewarding (etc.) has cost us dearly, when the answer has always been to leave marriage to be defined, favored, disfavored, etc, (see above) by non-governmental forces.  Now we are obliged to take sides as some folks who disagree cite legalities to bolster their views and others cite religious freedom.  That being said, I am saddened by the widespread nationwide condemnation of and use of inflammatory exaggerations to predict ill effects of Mississippi's statute to protect citizens with sincerely held religious beliefs from governmental prosecution.  Unlike most commentators, I have read the law and know the motivations of those who have championed its plain purpose.  Of course, no amount of defense will diminish the din of outrage flooding the media.  Again, too bad as a nation we made the mistake long ago of setting ourselves up for this tragic war among citizens, most of whom really are willing to live and let live so long as their beliefs are not run over roughshod in a shouting match.
“Second, IMHO you gave your blogger friend responding to 751 way, way far, far too much space.  His or her views, some of which are at least interesting and tempted me to comment, were well acknowledged and appropriately countered by your own.  No need for more than one round with that blogger...  Whew!”
My response:
            Thank you for your kind words.
            Re: marriage.  Interesting observations.  I would have no problem with anything you suggest as long as everyone’s freedom of choice is respected and treated equally under the law.  Discrimination in the matter of public policy and conduct for any reason that does not respect every citizen’s inalienable right to “Life, Liberty and pursuit of Happiness” is simply not acceptable in a free society and especially within the example this Grand Republic represents.
            Sincerely held religious beliefs” do NOT enable, allow or rationalize discrimination in public conduct, period.  I truly respect the religious beliefs of each and every citizen, as long as those citizens respect my rights and the rights of other citizens.  Who an individual chooses to associate with, accept, condone, whatever in private matters is the right of every individual, but there is a huge difference between the private and public domains.  The issue here is public conduct.  Restroom access is a public matter.  The operation of a business is a public matter.  Respect under the law is a public matter.
            Difference of opinion and a vigorous public debate are essential to any democracy.  We must disagree and challenge ideas.  It has always been my purpose to give voice to dissent, to contrarian views, and to other perspectives.  I will continue to make every effort to give as much space as I am able to further public debate.

            My very best wishes to all.  Take care of yourselves and each other.
Cheers,
Cap                        :-)