Don’t let establishment opportunists ruin the resistance movement

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/09/dont-let-establishment-opportunists-ruin-resistance-movement

As a powerful grassroots movement emerges, some want to use it for their own gain. The history of the Tea Party has important lessons on how to avoid that


Thursday 9 March 2017

The fury currently welling up against our demagogue president is a gorgeous thing. The Women’s March on Washington bowled me over by its sheer numbers. The town hall meetings calling Republican representatives to account are delicious payback for decades of phony populism. The combination of the two is one of the healthiest political developments I have seen in many years.

But opportunism never sleeps, and with the rage and the resistance of recent weeks some far less noble characters have seen a chance to develop a new con. They’re up on the resistance bandwagon right now, rending their garments, shaking their fists and praying that no one holds them responsible for the dead end into which they’ve steered us over the years. Inveighing loudly against Trump has become, for the people I am describing, a means of rescuing an ideology that has proven a disaster.

Comparing this moment with the Tea Party tells us a lot about this misdirection. In its 2009 heyday, the Tea Party represented a kind of superficial secession from the Republican party, which had discredited itself with the series of disasters we call the George W Bush presidency. Throw the old leaders out, the Tea Party seemed to demand, and start fresh.

But that’s not really what happened then, and it’s probably not going to happen with the hack politicians, million-dollar consultants and smug journalists who led Democrats to utter powerlessness this time around.

Yes, the Tea Party brought down many Republicans, but in truth it was a way of rebranding the same old Republican party without the stink of George W Bush attached. Conservative activists back then looked out over an economic disaster brought on by libertarian idealism – by a generation that worshiped bank deregulation – and insisted that what we needed was more deregulation, that we needed to go full-on free market. That’s the achievement of the Tea Party.

There is a possibility that the resistance to Trump will turn out the same way – that it will become a vehicle for our Enron Democrats to avoid accountability. “I don’t think people want a new direction,” House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said in December. Now is not the moment for infighting, others have insisted, but for unity and togetherness. Unity behind the existing leadership, that is. Changing the personnel in the C-Suites will only weaken us, they will say; hell, we can’t even afford to see our leaders criticized.

And so the thinkers of the “center left” proceed to hold their failed leaders above scrutiny and to redouble their commitment to the shabby ideology that allowed Trump to win. Former prime minister Tony Blair, the British face of Clintonism and one of the principal forces behind the Iraq war has been doing just this. Writing the other day in the New York Times, Blair used his audience’s horror at the Trump phenomenon as an excuse to urge them into battle against, yes, the left.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/09/dont-let-establishment-opportunists-ruin-resistance-movement

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She was an ultraconservative Texas Christian. Then Kai was born and everything changed.

From Fusion:  http://fusion.net/story/393673/texas-bathroom-bill-sb6/

By Kathryn Joyce
3/26/17

On the Monday before Christmas break at an elementary school in Pearland, Texas, just south of Houston, a five-year-old girl named Kai went with the rest of her kindergarten classmates to the library. Physically slight but hugely affectionate with silky blond hair, Kai loved her teacher, her classmates, and her school.

Yet a short time later, Kai’s family claims, she was crying and standing over a puddle on the hallway floor. Accidents aren’t uncommon for kindergarteners, of course. But when Kai’s mother, Kimberly Shappley, picked her up that day, Kai was wearing different clothes than what she’d gone to school in, her original outfit was wet and balled up in her backpack, and she was distraught.

“That day she made a big deal of it, because in her mind and her heart, it was a different feeling, and she knew it was different,” said Kimberly.

Kai assured her this accident wasn’t because she’d gotten distracted playing or waited until the last minute. It was because Kai is transgender, and adults at her school took too long to figure out what bathroom she should use.

Kai’s own classroom, like all kindergarten classrooms at her school, has a single-occupancy, unisex bathroom for everyone to use. But when Kai goes to the cafeteria, library or gym, she isn’t allowed to use the regular girls’ restrooms, thanks to a confusing workaround the school district came up with last spring.

When Kimberly first approached the Pearland Independent School District last year, saying her child would be starting school in the fall and she hoped they might find a private way to accommodate her, school officials initially seemed amenable. But days after that conversation, Kimberly said, the superintendent, John Kelly, lamented to the Houston Chronicle about the “social engineering” of Obama’s Departments of Education and Justice in mandating that public schools let trans students use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

The May 2016 directive, clarifying that gender identity was a protected category under Title IX— the federal law that forbids sex discrimination in public schools—was an assertion of dominance from a “hostile vocal minority,” Kelly said. “What’s next? Legalizing pedophilia and polygamy?”

Continue reading at:  http://fusion.net/story/393673/texas-bathroom-bill-sb6/

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Coming Out as Transgender Made Me a More Effective CIA Officer

From The Atlantic:  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/transgender-cia/520050/

An intelligence official explains how being honest with herself and her colleagues helped her serve her country.

Jenny Hall
Mar 20, 2017

I sat in a bunker hoping the incoming rocket did not have my name on it. I was a young CIA officer, called by September 11 to serve, and found myself amid generals and sheikhs, writing for presidents—the life I’d dreamed of since childhood. Drained by 18-hour days and fitful sleep, my demons flooded the moments of peace. In the dark, I heard fighting beyond the wall, thought of friends killed and wounded, and remembered my secret.

You feel explosions before you hear them, and there was a bomb at the center of my life that no one could see. I was transgender, and feared I would lose my family and friendships. It was before an Executive Order protected transgender employees, and I imagined myself ridiculed or fired if I admitted the truth. I had heard a story about what happened to one CIA officer who had taken that step:

“Once upon a time, an officer with decades of experience lost it; clearly the stress. One day he decided he was now a woman—hilarious I know—and wanted everyone to believe him. Management didn’t know what to do with the transsexual. CIA had only just accepted gays; the officer left the Agency.”

When I was a child I knew that trans-people existed, but I knew I couldn’t possibly be one of them. I was going to make history, not be some freak on television. My self-discipline and self-hatred marched in lock-step.

I bottled up my problem, and tried to live up to the CIA’s values: to “put mission before self” and “go where others cannot.” But CIA has other chiseled words: “the truth shall set you free.” How could I speak truth to power but not be honest with myself?

Sinking into depression, I built a double life; living as a woman outside work and changing genders in Langley’s unisex restrooms. My juggling act faltered at a staff meeting when a friend whispered that I had forgotten to remove my mascara.

The trans-community has a joke: “What’s the difference between a crossdresser and someone who changes genders? Two years.” The punchline ignores the trans-people who never transition or find happiness outside the gender binary. But for me, my hours as Jenny lifted a terrible sadness in my life.

If you found out you needed glasses, and discovered that the world is filled with beauty and color that you thought was just a blur, why would you ever take them off?

I finally reached the breaking point. I was failing at my job and found myself crying in the bathroom. I walked into my boss’s office and closed the door. She later told me she was relieved when I told her. From the look on my face, she thought I had cancer.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/03/transgender-cia/520050/

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