The Computer Ate My Vote

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

“The dog ate my homework,” said young Jonathan.  In those tender years, he hoped an authority figure would trust the statement to be true.  As an adult, Jonathan grumbled in frustration, “The computer ate my vote.” The concerned citizen wanted to hear no excuses.  Just as he knew the sweet little pup on his lap never digested the paper he did not write, Jon understood; the central processing system did not devour the votes.  Constituent choices were not read or recorded accurately.  

In January 2008, Jonathon, a New Hampshire resident, cast his ballot for Barack Obama, as did his wife, and their adult children.  When asked by exit pollsters, Jon’s parents proudly proclaimed, “We each voted for Obama.”  Neighbors on either side were loyal to Edwards.  Colleagues were mixed.  Dennis Kucinich was a favorite for Julie, Helene, and Amy.  The three were outspoken in their support. While sentiments were mixed, very few supported the former First Lady, Senator Clinton.  As Jonathon assessed all he heard and read he believed as  the pundits predicted, Obama would Win by 18-20%.  However, that is not what happened.

Post Primary Election Day the results in New Hampshire are being questioned.  By an overwhelming majority Barack Obama was expected to triumph.  Clinton would not see her presumed coronation.  People such as Jonathon and the pundits asked, “What happened?” Conspiracy theories abound.  Americans are reminded, in the last three elections, a ballot cast through circuitry may not be a reliable tally.

Critics, cynics, those who rebuff the idea that any authoritarian agenda might have caused, or effected, the capricious vote count offer evidence that the current system is clean.  Experts evaluate, it is not the method, but the map that produced the unexpected.

Preliminary analysis from Edison/Mitofsky, however, indicates that the difference between the two types of precincts goes back at least two elections. As Joe Lenski, executive vice president of Edison Media Research, wrote in an e-mail, “unless there has been hidden election fraud in New Hampshire for the last three presidential primaries the ‘evidence’ being used by these fraudsters probably does not hold up to any rigorous statistical analysis.”

Moreover, attributing all the differences between these townships to their choice of vote-counting procedures misses other potentially important differences among voters (e.g., proportions independent, highly-educated).

Update: The table below has been updated to reflect new numbers from the Secretary of State.











Vote By Type of Equipment Used
      Optical scanners Paper ballots
2008 Clinton 40.09 33.74
2008 Obama 35.84 39.77
2008 Margin Clinton +4.25 Obama +6.03
2004 Kerry 39.52 32.40
2004 Dean 24.74 34.43
2004 Margin Kerry +14.78 Dean +2.03
2000 Gore 50.35 45.80
2000 Bradley 45.03 49.13
2000 Margin Gore +5.31 Bradley +3.33

Reports that substantiate the validity of what is do nothing to diminish or dismiss the underlying veracity of what might also be true.  There are plenty of questions and the rate of replies grows exponentially.  An analysis begs speculation.  Might the optical scanners appear in affluent areas.  In these communities, people may be less dependent on landlines, and more tied to a cellular telephones.  Possibly conventional means for vote computation occurs in neighborhoods where people are home and accessible to canvassers.   It might be that those polled did endorse Obama in greater numbers.  However, even if this theory is accurate, it does not explain the vastness of the gap.

Jonathon muses, “No one polled me.”  His mother and father were not reached.  Edwards supporters in his neighborhood were not contacted.  Julie, an activist, yearned to offer her opinion to a campaign researcher  She waited for a call.  None came.  Granitite State local Helene wanted nothing more than to declare her support for Dennis Kucinich.  This lovely lady in the “Live Free or Die” state had much to declare.  She and her friend Amy welcomed a call from a pollster.  Indeed, when each was presented with a list of candidates and then asked whom they might vote for, Helene and Amy inquired, “Why was Dennis Kucinich not included in the rooster?”  Many ruminate, the survey amongst voters might reflect more than a margin of error.  Andrew Kohut, President, of the Pew Research Center argues the polls were perfect.  The reviewers are “Getting It Wrong.”

The failure of the New Hampshire pre-election surveys to mirror the outcome of the Democratic race is one of the most significant miscues in modern polling history.  All the published polls, including those that surveyed through Monday, had Senator Barack Obama comfortably ahead with an average margin of more than 8 percent.  These same polls showed no signs that Senator Hillary Clinton might close that gap, let alone win.

While it will take time for those who conducted the New Hampshire tracking polls to undertake rigorous analyses of their surveys, a number of things are immediately apparent.

First, the problem was not a general failure of polling methodology . . .

Second, the inaccuracies don’t seem related to the subtleties of polling methods . . .

Third, the mistakes were not the result of a last-minute trend going Mrs. Clinton’s way . . .

Fourth, some have argued that the unusually high turnout may have caused a problem for the pollsters . . .

To my mind, all these factors deserve further study. But another possible explanation cannot be ignored – the longstanding pattern of pre-election polls overstating support for black candidates among white voters, particularly white voters who are poor.

For Andrew Kohut, a man who makes a career of research, those who conduct polls, and calculate statistical information gathered, are not to blame for discrepancies.  The data is flawless.  The people who respond to a survey are the problem.  Kohut claims humans lie to hide their bigotry.  The rift is realized in race relations.  

That conclusion might be also be disputed.  Indeed, we can hear the quarrel now  Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and their respective spouses spew venom, as they discuss the role of Civil Rights Leader, Martin Luther King Junior   America revisits the achievements of a peaceful African-American leader, and we discover perceptions differ.

Nonetheless, we cannot negate what has been an obvious concern long before this recent election, electronic elections are not fully certifiable.  The process New Hampshire authorities adopted  is arguably better than the techniques many other States use, still the optical scanners are a less than a secure system.

Perhaps, we must consider that charts and editorial information furnished, while interesting, do not lessen the need for our shared concern.  For those that think there is a well-crafted campaign to conspire, we are likely to hear, “Hackers would not wish to leave an easily observable trail.”  For those who do not necessarily fear a plot to alter or obfuscate the results, there is a consensus humans are fallible.  Programmers are not perfect.  Nor are locks.

One brand of machine leads in market share by a sizable margin: the AccuVote, made by Diebold Election Systems. Two weeks ago, however, Diebold suffered one of the worst kinds of public embarrassment for a company that began in 1859 by making safes and vaults.

Edward W. Felten, a professor of computer science at Princeton, and his student collaborators conducted a demonstration with an AccuVote TS and noticed that the key to the machine’s memory card slot appeared to be similar to one that a staff member had at home.

When he brought the key into the office and tried it, the door protecting the AccuVote’s memory card slot swung open obligingly. Upon examination, the key turned out to be a standard industrial part used in simple locks for office furniture, computer cases, jukeboxes – and hotel minibars.

Once the memory card slot was accessible, how difficult would it be to introduce malicious software that could manipulate vote tallies? That is one of the questions that Professor Felten and two of his students, Ariel J. Feldman and J. Alex Halderman, have been investigating. In the face of Diebold’s refusal to let scientists test the AccuVote, the Princeton team got its hands on a machine only with the help of a third party.

Even before the researchers had made the serendipitous discovery about the minibar key, they had released a devastating critique of the AccuVote’s security. For computer scientists, they supplied a technical paper; for the general public, they prepared an accompanying video. Their short answer to the question of the practicality of vote theft with the AccuVote: easily accomplished.

The researchers demonstrated the machine’s vulnerability to an attack by means of code that can be introduced with a memory card. The program they devised does not tamper with the voting process. The machine records each vote as it should, and makes a backup copy, too.

Every 15 seconds or so, however, the rogue program checks the internal vote tallies, then adds and subtracts votes, as needed, to reach programmed targets; it also makes identical changes in the backup file. The alterations cannot be detected later because the total number of votes perfectly matches the total number of voters. At the end of the election day, the rogue program erases itself, leaving no trace.

Computers, cared for, corrupted, and programmed by people, can be as a compulsively confounding as a poll worker.  A central processing unit, by rote, will remove the excess waste as mindlessly as a human might endeavor to do.  In days of old, poll-workers were the problem.  A misplaced bag of ballots or a box filled to the brim with bogus paper ballots was the reason anxious Americans sought a better system.  Mechanical means were thought to eliminate human error or manipulation.

Some elections officials next adopted lever machines, which record each vote mechanically. But lever machines have problems of their own, not least that they make meaningful recounts impossible because they do not preserve each individual vote. Beginning in the 1960s, they were widely replaced by punch-card systems, in which voters knock holes in ballots, and the ballots can be stored for a recount. Punch cards worked for decades without controversy.

Until, of course, the electoral fiasco of 2000. During the Florida recount in the Bush-Gore election, it became clear that punch cards had a potentially tragic flaw: “hanging chads.” Thousands of voters failed to punch a hole clean through the ballot, turning the recount into a torturous argument over “voter intent.” On top of that, many voters confused by the infamous “butterfly ballot” seem to have mistakenly picked the wrong candidate. Given Bush’s microscopic margin of victory – he was ahead by only a few hundred votes statewide – the chads produced the brutal, month long legal brawl over how and whether the recounts should be conducted.

The 2000 election illustrated the cardinal rule of voting systems: if they produce ambiguous results, they are doomed to suspicion. The election is never settled in the mind of the public. To this date, many Gore supporters refuse to accept the legitimacy of George W. Bush’s presidency; and by ultimately deciding the 2000 presidential election, the Supreme Court was pilloried for appearing overly partisan.

Partisan politics is perhaps the truer issue.  Even those that do not ascribe to conspiracy theories, doubt their opponent.  The “enemy” in an election may be the corporations, the rival candidate, the government, or anyone who might garner support in opposition to a particular voter.  Jonathon marvels at the foes that lurk in the shadows.  People he does not know and perchance, personally, never will, are those he does not trust.

In New Hampshire, the electorate attempted to approve the best of both worlds.  Paper ballots are used in every precinct.  Granted, all votes are cast on traceable tallies.  However, recounts, such as the one now proposed by Presidential hopeful, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, may not be possible in the way a verification of the vote once was.  

Consider the plight of Elections Director Jane Platten, in Cuyahoga County Ohio., At 3 in the morning on November 7, at the “end” of a twenty-two hour workday, the too-tired public service official said, “I guess we’ve seen how technology can affect an election.”  The electronic voting machines in Cleveland were once again a source of trouble, and the reason for more time spent on the job.

All went well for a while.  Voter turnout was light on that fateful day.  About 200,000 voters strode through the polls, tapped their choices onto the county’s 5,729 touch-screen voting machines, and gladly turned in their electronic memory cards ready for the count.  All security procedures were followed.  Then the fun began.  

Suddenly, at 10 Post Meridian the server froze, as did all operations.  No votes could be counted.  Technicians gathered.  A young, and well-dressed employee from Diebold, the company that manufactures the equipment used in Cuyahoga elections , entered the scene; yet offered no solutions.  No one could figure out what was wrong. Ultimately, the election workers did what people do.  They cut the power.  The hope was the machine would clear its “mind,” rest a bit, return refreshed, and then begin the calculations anew.

This seemed to work, until the system crashed a again. Once more, the staff rebooted the computer and resumed the count. Gleefully, the computation was completed.

Worse was yet to come. When the votes were finally tallied the next day, 10 races were so close that they needed to be recounted. But when Platten went to retrieve paper copies of each vote – generated by the Diebold machines as they worked – she discovered that so many printers had jammed that 20 percent of the machines involved in the recounted races lacked paper copies of some of the votes.  They weren’t lost, technically speaking; Platten could hit “print” and a machine would generate a replacement copy.  But she had no way of proving that these replacements were, indeed, what the voters had voted. She could only hope the machines had worked correctly

 

As demonstrated repeatedly, the readable receipt may have been altered. The tangible total may not be as accurate as presumed.  Evidence of the discrepancies is everywhere.  

The infamous Diebold [now Premier election solutions] optical scanner voting machine is used to tally fifty-eight [58] percent of the votes, or 175 of New Hampshire’s 301 precincts ballots.  The AccuVote optical scan machines were the only mechanisms independent-minded New Hampshire residents would accept.  Nonetheless, even this apparatus is troublesome.  Persons such as Jonathon, a man anxious for change, and committed to the democratic process of elections, has had many a sleepless night since realizing his vote may not count.

Jonathon, his wife, children, parents, friends, and neighbors may need to be contacted, to vote again if we are to establish how they voted.  Even then, others would wonder; will the truth be told?

Jonathon understands as do many concerned citizens, the Diebold trail, regardless of how secure the equipment is advertised to be, can be diverted.  Diebold itself has done much to redirect the flow of information.

On November 17th, 2005, an anonymous Wikipedia user deleted 15 paragraphs from an article on e-voting machine-vendor Diebold, excising an entire section critical of the company’s machines. While anonymous, such changes typically leave behind digital fingerprints offering hints about the contributor, such as the location of the computer used to make the edits.

In this case, the changes came from an IP address reserved for the corporate offices of Diebold itself. And it is far from an isolated case. A new data-mining service launched Monday traces millions of Wikipedia entries to their corporate sources, and for the first time puts comprehensive data behind longstanding suspicions of manipulation, which until now have surfaced only piecemeal in investigations of specific allegations.

In spite of attempts to alter any information available on Diebold, the company continues to garner much attention.  Each election cycle generates greater concerns than the one preceding it.  The New Hampshire primaries are no exception.

This method is highly vulnerable to error and manipulation; although many may quibble the authenticity of this claim.  Nonetheless, after much scrutiny and many experiments, the truth was told.  Jonathon recalls the news report.

Election Whistle-Blower Stymied by Vendors

After Official’s Criticism About Security, Three Firms Reject Bid for Voting Machines

By Peter Whoriskey?

Washington Post?

Sunday, March 26, 2006; A07

Miami — Among those who worry that hackers might sabotage election tallies, Ion Sancho is something of a hero.

The maverick elections supervisor in Leon County, Fla., last year helped show that electronic voting machines from one of the major manufacturers are vulnerable, according to experts, and would allow election workers to alter vote counts without detection.

Now, however, Sancho may be paying an unexpected price for his whistle-blowing: None of the state-approved companies here will sell him the voting machines the county needs.

“I’ve essentially embarrassed the current companies for the way they do business, and now I believe I’m being singled out for punishment by the vendors,” he said.

There are three vendors approved to sell voting equipment in Florida, and each has indicated it cannot or will not fill Sancho’s order for 160 voting machines for the disabled. Already, he has had to return a $564,000 federal grant to buy the machines because he has been unable to acquire the machines yet.

“I’m very troubled by this, to be honest — I can’t believe the way he’s being treated,” said David Wagner, a computer scientist at the University of California at Berkeley who sits on a California board that reviews voting machine security. “What kind of message is this sending to elections supervisors?”

The trouble began last year when Sancho allowed a Finnish computer scientist to test Leon County’s Diebold voting machines, a common type that uses an optical scanner to count votes from ballots that voters have marked. Diebold Election Systems is one of the largest voting machine companies in the United States.

While some tests showed that the system is resistant to outside attack, others showed that elections workers could alter the vote tallies by manipulating the removable memory cards in the voting machines, and do so without detection.

A Diebold spokesman scoffed at the results, and compared them to “leaving your car unlocked, with the windows down and keys left in the ignition and then acting surprised when your car is stolen.”

State officials similarly played down the results.

But last month, California elections officials arranged for experts to perform a similar analysis of the Diebold machines and also found them vulnerable — noting a wider variety of flaws than Sancho’s experts had. They characterized the vulnerabilities as “serious” but “fixable.”

“What he [Sancho] discovered was — oops — that the conventional wisdom was all wrong,” said Wagner, a member of the panel that reviewed the Diebold machines. “It was possible to subvert the memory card without detection.”

Rather than take responsibility for a system gone bad, voting machine manufacturers would rather not sell to any Supervisor that might question the quality of the hardware or software.  It seems obvious to all, regardless of the excuses, or rationalizations, no matter the method or the map, vote counts are always prone to error.  

Thus, Jonathon wonders is his will stronger than the way of these machines and the persons who program them.  The villainous touch-screen voting machines, were thought too problematic for New Hampshire voters.  Jon, his friends Julie, Helene, and Amy were among the vocal residents who expressed a need for caution.  However, these activists did not have the influence they hoped to have on official decisions.

In New Hampshire, as in much of the nation, technology was considered manifest destiny.  Throughout the country, the use of electronics to tally ballots was employed at great expense.  The cost in dollars can be overshadowed only by the lose of liberty.  Countrywide, Americans ask . . .

Can You Count on Voting Machines?  For Jane Platten, Head of  Poll Worker Training and Voter Education Programs in Cuyahoga County, Ohio says, “No!”

In the lobby of Jane Plattten’s office in Cleveland sits an AccuVote-TSX, made by Diebold. It is the machine that Cuyahoga County votes on, and it works like this: Inside each machine, there is a computer roughly as powerful and flexible as a modern hand-held organizer. It runs Windows CE as its operating system, and Diebold has installed its own specialized voting software to run on top of Windows. When the voters tap the screen to indicate their choices, the computer records each choice on a flash-memory card that fits in a slot on the machine, much as a flash card stores pictures on your digital camera.

At the end of the election night, these cards are taken to the county’s election headquarters and tallied by the GEMS server. In case a memory card is accidentally lost or destroyed, the computer also stores each vote on a different chip inside the machine; election officials can open the voting machine and remove the chip in an emergency.

But there is also a third place the vote is recorded. Next to each machine’s LCD screen, there is a printer much like one on a cash register. Each time a voter picks a candidate on screen, the printer types up the selections, in small, eight-point letters. Before the voter pushes “vote,” she’s supposed to peer down at the ribbon of paper – which sits beneath a layer of see-through plastic, to prevent tampering – and verify that the machine has, in fact, correctly recorded her choices. (She can’t take the paper vote with her as proof; the spool of paper remains locked inside the machine until the end of the day.)

Under Ohio law, the paper copy is the voter’s vote. The digital version is not. That’s because the voter can see the paper vote and verify that it’s correct, which she cannot do with the digital one. The digital records are, in essence, merely handy additional copies that allow the county to rapidly tally potentially a million votes in a single evening, whereas counting the paper ballots would take weeks. Theoretically speaking, the machine offers the best of all possible worlds. By using both paper and digital copies, the AccuVote promised Cuyahoga an election that would be speedy, reliable, and relatively inexpensive.

Little of this held true. When the machines were first used in Cuyahoga Country during the May 2006 primaries, costs ballooned – and chaos reigned. The poll workers, many senior citizens who had spent decades setting up low-tech punch-card systems, were baffled by the new computerized system and the rather poorly written manuals from Diebold and the county. “It was insane,” one former poll worker told me. “A lot of people over the age of 60, trying to figure out these machines.” Since the votes were ferried to the head office on small, pocketsize memory cards, it was easy for them to be misplaced, and dozens went missing.

On Election Day, poll workers complained that 143 machines were broken; dozens of other machines had printer jams or mysteriously powered down. More than 200 voter-card encoders – which create the cards that let voters vote – went missing. When the machines weren’t malfunctioning, they produced errors at a stunning rate: one audit of the election discovered that in 72.5 percent of the audited machines, the paper trail did not match the digital tally on the memory cards.

This was hardly the first such incident involving touch-screen machines. So it came as little surprise that Diebold, a company once known primarily for making safes and A.T.M.’s, subsequently tried to sell off its voting-machine business and, failing to find a buyer, last August changed the name of the division to Premier Election Solutions (an analyst told American Banker that the voting machines were responsible for “5 percent of revenue and 100 percent of bad public relations”).

Researchers at Princeton University are not surprised.  A comprehensive study, Security Analysis of the Diebold AccuVote-TS Voting Machine, released in September 2006 revealed the hardware and software in question are not dependable.

Ed Felten [among the  authors of the report] is a computer scientist at Princeton University, and he has become famous for analyzing – and criticizing – touch-screen machines. In fact, the first serious critics of the machines – beginning 10 years ago – were computer scientists. One might expect computer scientists to be fans of computer-based vote-counting devices, but it turns out that the more you know about computers, the more likely you are to be terrified that they’re running elections.

This is because computer scientists understand, from hard experience, that complex software can’t function perfectly all the time. It’s the nature of the beast. Myriad things can go wrong. The software might have bugs – errors in the code made by tired or overworked programmers. Or voters could do something the machines don’t expect, like touching the screen in two places at once. “Computers crash and we don’t know why,” Felten told me. “That’s just a routine part of computers.”

It is true. Each day, many compatriots swear at electronic gadgetry.  Yet, as a nation, we spend millions in hopes that electronic equipment will work on Election Day.  Americans rely on these erratic electronic marvels to calculate our votes.  Citizens of this country count on defective Diebold voting machines to accurately compute what might be considered the most important decision, we, the people make.  Faulty software and hardware determine who will represent our country, and us.  

More than Jonathon has experienced a moment of frustration with a computer.  Election Boards are familiar with the scenario.

One famous example is the “sliding finger bug” on the Diebold AccuVote-TSX, the machine used in Cuyahoga. In 2005, the state of California complained that the machines were crashing. In tests, Diebold determined that when voters tapped the final “cast vote” button, the machine would crash every few hundred ballots. They finally intuited the problem: their voting software runs on top of Windows CE, and if a voter accidentally dragged his finger downward while touching “cast vote” on the screen, Windows CE interpreted this as a “drag and drop” command. The programmers hadn’t anticipated that Windows CE would do this, so they hadn’t programmed a way for the machine to cope with it. The machine just crashed.

Even extremely careful programmers can accidentally create bugs like this. But critics also worry that touch-screen voting machines aren’t designed very carefully at all. In the infrequent situations where computer scientists have gained access to the guts of a voting machine, they’ve found alarming design flaws.

In 2003, Diebold employees accidentally posted the AccuVote’s source code on the Internet; scientists who analyzed it found that, among other things, a hacker could program a voter card to let him cast as many votes as he liked. Ed Felten’s lab, while analyzing an anonymously donated AccuVote-TS (a different model from the one used in Cuyahoga County) in 2006, discovered that the machine did not “authenticate” software: it will run any code a hacker might surreptitiously install on an easily insertable flash-memory card.

After California’s secretary of state hired computer scientists to review the state’s machines last spring, they found that on one vote-tallying server, the default password was set to the name of the vendor – something laughably easy for a hacker to guess.

But the truth is that it’s hard for computer scientists to figure out just how well or poorly the machines are made, because the vendors who make them keep the details of their manufacture tightly held. Like most software firms, they regard their “source code” – the computer programs that run on their machines – as a trade secret. The public is not allowed to see the code, so computer experts who wish to assess it for flaws and reliability can’t get access to it. Felten and voter rights groups argue that this “black box” culture of secrecy is the biggest single problem with voting machines. Because the machines are not transparent, their reliability cannot be trusted.

For years, there has been much concern and more delay.  In 2007, the Senate decided to hold hearings on the security of voting machine.  Citizens who have long yearned for a viable paper trail inquire, why the wait.  For too long, Americans have known when electronic voting machines record the votes, counts are frequently flawed.  Nevertheless, we continue as we have.  

Currently, in the United States, approximately eighty-seven [87] percent of the votes are frozen in computer chips.  Elections remain entrusted to miniature wires, soldered into plastic boards, and so too is America’s future. Adults in the United States are told to vote; our participation makes a difference.  So, cast your ballot with confidence, and know that even if your vote is counted, it may not count.

Sources, Secret Codes, Software, and Scanners . . .

Presidential Candidates and the People; Politics is Personal

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

A tired and emotionally torn Hillary Clinton trembled slightly as she voiced her concern for the country and her campaign.  A somewhat shaken Senator said, “You know, this is very personal for me. It’s not just political.  It’s not just public.  I see what’s happening . . . It’s really about all of us together.”  Indeed, Senator Clinton, it is.

For months, former Senator John Edwards has shared a similar sentiment.   Once more, in an interview with ABC News George Stephanopoulos, Presidential hopeful Edwards emphatically declared, “I want to be the president who fights for the middle class, fights for working people. The kind of people I grew up with, George. I said this last night. This is not abstract or academic for me. It is personal.”

Republican hopeful, Mitt Romney also embraced the phraseology a month earlier.  In a campaign advertisement released in his home state of Michigan, Mitt reminded the voters, “For me, Michigan is personal.” The place of our birth, the era in which we evolved, the circumstances of our lives are all personal, as are our reactions to these. When we cast a ballot in favor of a policy or a Presidential aspirant, as profound as we wish the decision would appear to be, essentially it is personal.

Each and every individual is influenced by what occurs in the privacy of his or her home.  Our hearts speak more loudly than our minds.  However, reluctant we are to admit this, humans are emotional beings, who rationalize their resolutions, often after the fact.  

The New Hampshire primary elections, as well as the Iowa caucuses were stark reminders of the fact, we cannot predict what people will do.  However, if we understand what truly motivates us, we may better understand the incomprehensible.  From the moment we enter this Earthly existence, we learn what is Right, Left, Middle, or ‘just wrong.’  

Mommy exclaimed, “Do not do that; it is inappropriate.”  Daddy declared, “No more.  What will the neighbors think?”  Grandpa gave the evil eye when he thought some word or deed not becoming of a little lady.  Grandma gently tapped young Sammy’s small hand when the lass reached for what the older woman thought unacceptable.  Brother James also guided the girl’s decisions.  “What are you; crazy?” he would say.  James’s manner was never gentle.  Sammy’s nursery school teacher was far kinder, although equally critical.  “Young women do not do that.”  “We do not speak that way in class, on the playground, in the cloak room.”  “I hope you do not do that at home!”

What Sammy did at home was never correct.  She wanted so much to be appreciated, especially by her elders.  Even among her peers, Sammy felt it vital to feel needed, wanted, valued, and cherished.  She realized at a tender age, that if she was to be happy, she must obey the rules.  Sammy learned to be a good girl.  Today, she still is.  When voting in the Presidential primaries and in the General election, Sammy will cast a ballot for the candidate her friends’ vote for.  Conventional wisdom is always best.  

There is a certain contentment you feel when others concur with your opinion.  Life is calm  Sammy, prefers agreement; she wants no arguments.  Perhaps, that is why she struggled to decide, whom would she vote for.

Sammy remained undecided up until she spoke with acquaintances of the Clinton cry.  Although Sammy and her friends were not Clinton constituents, indeed, they feared she might be soulless, ultimately; each plans to cast a ballot for the candidate.  Just as women in New Hampshire expressed, it would feel good to possibly place a woman in the White House.  The tears Hillary shed resonated within many of the “gentler sex.”  They thought the candidate’s cry was a show of strength.  Throughout America, and New Hampshire women [and men alike] personally identified with the pain Senator Clinton expressed.

Some New Hampshire women admitted they were touched by Clinton’s display of vulnerability at a local cafe, when a voter asked her how she remained so upbeat and Clinton’s eyes, in turn, became misty.

“When I saw the tear-up replayed on the news, it looked like Clinton was truly moved.  It proved she had soul,” said Carol Brownwood, a New Hampshire voter and Clinton supporter.

New Hampshire women voted for Clinton by a margin of 13 percentage points over Obama, according to exit polls.

James, Sammy’s sibling, was never much for conventions.  He was a rebel.  For him every issue was a cause.  As an adult, James will likely not vote for the most popular candidate.  He plans to weigh every angle, assess each agenda.  James will do his own research before he decides whom to support in the Presidential Election of 2008.

Even as a youngster, James had a mind of his own.  He knew what was truly important and what was trivial.  It did not much matter to James what his Mom or Dad might think.  This chap was certain when he thought a particular point of view right or wrong.  While James valued his parents’ opinions, and he did, he was his own person.

When James screamed “No,” at the age of two, it was not a phase; this tot could be authentically defiant.  No matter his age, James was never afraid to speak up.  “You are just wrong,” he would tell his mother or father.  In truth, James often took what his parents thought to heart.  However, he would never give Mom, Dad, or most anyone else, the satisfaction of knowing that he thought their opinion wiser than his own.

In his youth, James was independent and strong.  Competitions were his pleasure.  Enrolled in Little League, Soccer, and Football at an early age, James learned to be a sportsman.  He understood how important it was to win.  He still does.  

Throughout his life, James has been a fighter.  In college, the young man was considered a radical.  He protested for peace.  The little guy was his friend.  An underdog could soar when in the company of James.  He cared for his fellow man deeply.  This chap worked on a political campaign.  He was an activist, and he was motivated to make more of his life.  James studied as hard as he played.

Later, as an attorney, James did not shy away from a fight.  In his professional career, he retains his principles.  While James could make scads more money as a corporate lawyer, he serves the downtrodden.  James is known as an aggressive trial lawyer.  He fights for what is right.  John Edwards is his candidate of choice.  As he ponders the tales the populace aspirant tells, James relates. For James, just as for John Edwards, the battle for change is personal.

One Edwards supporter, departing after a big rally in Des Moines on Saturday night, said he hasn’t heard a message as passionate or strong since Bobby Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign.

Nice clothes aside, Edwards has turned street-fighter for the final stretch run.  His message can be boiled down to a single word — “Fight!” — which he repeats over and over and over and over again: Fight.  Fight.  Fight.  Fight.

Edwards has rolled out anecdotes he never used in the past to make it all the more personal.  They conjure up images that hardly square with his slight frame and good looks.  He was, as he now explains, a brawler as a kid, taking on bullies the way he later took on corporations and insurance companies as a trail lawyer.

“Like many of you, I had to fight to survive,” he told an audience of nearly a thousand people on Saturday night.  “I mean really.  Literally.”

He describes the southern mill town where he grew up as a tough little place and tells the story of getting into a fight one day with an older boy.  “Got my butt kicked,” he says.  When he got home, his father offered a stern lesson in life.

“I don’t ever want to hear, son, about you starting a fight,” he says his father told him.  “But you listen to me and listen to me clearly.  I don’t want to ever hear that you walked away from one.  Because if you’re not willing to stand up for yourself and if you’re not willing to fight, no one will stand up for you.”

Emma, James closest friend is not a fighter.  She is a woman, yet, not one who sees herself as a warrior. While Emma might love to have a woman in the Oval Office, she does not want Hillary Clinton to be her President.  John Edwards does not move this passionate person.  Too often Edwards goes negative.  Emma experienced enough combativeness in her life.  She is turned off by the fervor she experienced in her family home.  

Emma grew up in a good home.  Her parents are well-educated.  Each, is a professional in his or her own right.  Economically, her family is considered Upper Middle Class.  By all appearances, this young woman has had a good life.  She and her folks are healthy, slightly wealthy, and definitely wise.   However, when Emma was young, she realized, for her Mom and her Dad, every event was a drama, a trauma, a crisis, or a catastrophe.

Emma often hid under the bed, went to another room, spent time at a neighbor’s home, just to avoid the chaos she experienced when with her relatives.  As the little girl blossomed, she realized there was fun to be had.  “You cannot choose your family, but fortunately, you can choose your friends.”  A cheerleader, a “Journalist” on the school newspaper, active in a school leadership program, Emma was quite popular.

Academically, Emma had been and continues to be a serious student.  She is enrolled in graduate school, and is doing very well.  She is enthusiastic and energetic; however, she has never been energized by politics . . . that is until now.  Although, in the past, Emma defined herself as apathetic, now she sees herself as an activist.   Emma intends to vote for Barack Obama.  She feels as many throughout the country do.  Individuals, particularly those in her age are excited.  This may be the first time Emma will vote in an election.  She is stoked and not alone in her excitement.  Since hearing Obama speak, for Emma, this election is now personal.

“I just started hearing a lot about him last year, so I started doing my own research,” says Kinkead. “I wanted to know who this guy was that everyone was talking about. I know he has a liberal voting record in the Senate, but he just seems so open-minded to me. He’ll be able to work with Republicans and get stuff accomplished. Hillary Clinton has too much baggage.”

Young voters helped propel Obama’s win in Iowa and McCain’s in New Hampshire. Exit polls in New Hampshire indicated that 31 percent of the youngest GOP voting group went for McCain, with 23 percent voting for Romney; 51 percent of young Democrats supported Obama, while 28 percent supported Clinton.

In Iowa, Obama won 57 percent of the youth vote, compared to 11 percent for Clinton.

The social networking site Facebook has been a huge hub of political interest, with students flocking to Obama on the Democratic side  . . .

Others in the cyberspace community may be connected however, the do not wish to join the rally for Ron Paul nor do the oratory skills of Barack Obama sway them.  Beth is among those who walks to the beat of a different drummer.  This woman is not old or young; however, just as the candidates and constituents she too is deeply affected by her history.  Beth’s parents were and are scholars.  Amidst her earliest memories, Beth recalls research.  Daddy would ask her of newspaper articles she read.  The discussions were deep.  He was not only interested in her superficial comprehension skills he wanted to be certain his daughter became a critical thinker.

Mommy’s style differed; however, the intent, and results were similar.  Beth’s Mom, a brilliant woman, read endlessly.  She spoke of all the information she devoured.  This highly erudite parent encouraged her daughter to be herself, not part of a group, not identified by her gender, not even rigidly tied to which hand she preferred to write with.  Beth, just as her mother, never fit in, and she was fine with that.  Mommy and Daddy were principled people, not influenced by peers or popularity, and so too is Beth.  Perchance that is why she supports Dennis Kucinich.  She feels personally obligated to her country and all the people.  For Beth ethics matters more than an election win.  

I think the question isn’t whether I have a chance. The question is whether peace, health care, jobs for all have a chance. Everyone participating in this chat, everyone reading it, needs to ask what this election means for them. If it means not staying in Iraq until 2013, then perhaps people should consider my plan to leave Iraq immediately and employ an international peacekeeping force. If you want peace in the world, consider that I’m the only candidate who rejects war as an instrument of foreign policy.

This isn’t just about Iraq or Iran, this is about a president wise enough to work with leaders in the world to avoid conflict.  While I wouldn’t hesitate to defend our country, I’ve shown more than any other candidate that I understand the difference between defense and offense. . . .  I’m the only candidate running who voted against the war and against funding for the war. To me it’s inconceivable to say you oppose a war you’ve given hundreds of billions of dollars to.

If people are participating in this and are concerned that they have an outcome in this election that relates to their needs, they should know that I’m the only candidate who would create a not-for-profit health care system that would cover everyone.

No other candidate is saying they would cancel NAFTA and the WTO — I’ve seen the devastation wrought by these agreements. I’ve stood in front of the locked plant gates, with grass growing in the parking lots. I’ve seen the boarded-up nearby business communities, the neighborhoods where people had to leave because they couldn’t pay their mortgages.

I’m the only candidate talking about a profoundly different energy policy, moving aggressively toward wind, solar, and investing heavily in green energy, reorganizing the government along principles of sustainability. We have to challenge these oil companies — we’re in a war in Iraq because of oil, one of the principle reasons we’d attack Iran is because of oil, we continue to destabilize our relations with Russia because of oil.

It’s time for Washington to get control of our energy polices, and the only way we may be able to do that is to take control of the oil companies. We cannot sacrifice our young men and women on the altar of oil. We must regain control in the nation, of our ability to truly be a government of the people, by the people and for the people. That’s why I’m running for president, and in the end if I win, the people of the United States will win.

For a time, people, from various backgrounds, also endorsed Dennis J. Kucinich.  Beth met declared Democrats, Independent minded Greens, Libertarians, and even Republicans who thought the Congressman from Ohio was the only one who could and would turn this country around in a way that gratified them personally.  

A wide breadth of the population thought the Presidential hopeful would be the best for the country as a whole.  However, as is oft occurs, personal perceptions became the reality. The true Progressive, Congressman Kucinich was haunted by a claim continually, reiterated by Americans, “Kucinich is not electable.”  This statement was frequently preceded by the phrase, “Kucinich is great, but . . .”   Group think set in.

Intellectuals, pundits, so called professional political analysts, and regular persons would  say this is not so; however, as we assess human behavior, it is a challenge to think otherwise.

A public less aware of the dynamics of a caucus, or familiar with a seventy-two page rulebook, concludes a decision to influence a voter’s second-choice in Iowa might be thought a sign of weakness; perhaps a concession, or even an endorsement.  Some avid Kucinich supporters began to question the candidate’s faith in his campaign.  More importantly, many Kucinich backers felt personally abandoned.  The slogan “Strength through peace,” was less forceful than this allowance.  To suggest an alternative commitment may be less strong than the sweet smell of freshly baked bread or a promise to stroke your back if you rub mine

Intimidation is not unknown. Also, it is possible for a leading candidate to help a weaker rival against a stronger one.

More often, though, the gaming of the caucus and the wooing of supporters is subtler.

In a training video prepared by the Edwards campaign, for example, a cartoon precinct campaign named Joe leaves for the caucus with a calculator, Edwards signs, and fresh bread. The narrator explains: “His homemade bread is perfectly positioned. Everyone can see it and smell it, especially the undecideds.”

Then, too, “there are always stories of ‘I’ll shovel your walk the next time it snows,’ ” said Norm Sterzenbach, Iowa Democratic Party political director.

While these tactics are troublesome, perhaps what worries supporters of any candidate is their own “personal” standing . . . in the community, in a crowd, in the cavern known as their rational mind.

Might we speculate as to why a presumed front-runner receives more funds in support?  After a primary win, contributions come in.  Every person in the electorate scrutinizes a candidate and the company he or she keeps.  The assumed quality of a spouse can be an asset or a deterrent to the campaign.  If nothing else, when humans are involved, whom a Presidential hopeful weds, why, or when, will certainly be a distraction.  Americans, humans are invested in the personal.  People ponder their lives and wish to know what occurs in the lives of others.

Politics is personal.  Running Mates, and these are not possible Vice Presidential choices, warrant an in-depth and detailed article in the Washington Post.  These individual have greater access to the future President than any other person might.  If Americans elect x, y will have the President’s ear, heart, body, and soul in their hands.  The electorate believes spouses are significant.  The personal permeates the political, or at least, Newsweek Magazine thought so.  This periodical devoted a full spread to the Bill factor.

His New Role

By Jonathan Darman

Newsweek

August 21, 2007

“Man, I like that stuff,” Bill Clinton said. “I shouldn’t eat it, but I like it.” It was Sunday, March 4. On a private plane headed south from New York, the former leader of the free world was staring hard at a fully stocked bowl of food. A recovering snack-addict since his quadruple-bypass surgery in 2004, Clinton was thinking about falling off the wagon with a few bags of Fritos and some granola bars. No one on the plane was going to stop him-certainly not Malcolm Smith. The Democratic minority leader of New York’s state Senate, Smith was just happy to be along for the ride. “He sat right in front of me,” Smith later gushed to a Newsweek reporter. “We shared the food.” . . .

For Hillary’s campaign, “The Bill Factor” is a complex one. To some he’s a shrewd politician, a clear thinker, a brilliant explicator who was president during an era of relative peace and indisputable prosperity. To others he’s “Slick Willie,” an undisciplined man who let his private appetites, and his addiction to risk, blur his focus, distracting the country for much of his second term.

Nonetheless, a polished President offers the public a sense of personal security.  The Clintons are a known entity.  They have a traditional marriage, and they have proven themselves in many arenas.  Regardless of whether or not  you agree with their positions, the two are accomplished; certainly not on the fringe.  

Barack Obama is also quite an achiever.  Born to parents who separated when the future Harvard scholar, United States Senator, and front-running Presidential aspirant was but two years of age, Barack  Obama went on to create a stunning and successful Christian family of his own.

When wife Michelle Robinson Obama is by the candidate’s side, audiences marvel.  The couple is physically beautiful.  The two are statuesque and poised.  Each is extremely accomplished.  Michelle Obama is the a vice president at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Initially she was criticized for retaining this position during the campaign.  However, since she agreed to reduce her workload and currently works far fewer hours than she had, the public, many of whom took her to task for her “personal” life, are now content.  People specifically enjoy how real this spouse is.

[Michelle] She has revealed that the man who may become the world’s most powerful politician is sometimes banished to the spare room for being “kind of snory and stinky.” He also admits obeying her instructions to give up smoking before the campaign.

[Michelle] Obama got off to a rocky start in her early speeches when she talked about her husband’s dirty socks and how he was “stinky” in the morning, an image people perhaps might have found a little too human. Those references have since been dropped from her stump speech, and she’s not giving many interviews these days.

On the other hand, Elizabeth Edwards volunteers to speak to anyone, everyone.  Wife of John Edwards, Elizabeth, is equally at ease in most any situation.  She does not hesitate to speak her mind.  

Elizabeth Edwards will say in one breath that her job is made easier by the fact there are now “so many more female role models in careers like entertainment, the media and politics.”  But she will also say she’s not about to make the same mistakes Clinton did.

“Hillary Clinton in 1992 is a lesson in what not to do,” offers Edwards, also a lawyer by training, whose husband is one of Clinton’s opponents in the presidential race. “She was dismissive of the range of options women had chosen, declaring, ‘I don’t bake cookies. . . . I don’t stand by my man.’ That turned off some people.”

Elizabeth Edwards has been startlingly outspoken during this campaign, calling in to a live news-talk program to take on right-wing pundit Ann Coulter on national television and saying there was too much “hatred” of Hillary Clinton for her to win the general election. She maintains she’s not behaving much differently from 2004, when her husband was the Democratic vice presidential nominee. “There’s just a lot more coverage,” says Edwards, who has received additional attention since revealing she is battling incurable cancer.

In a campaign where every issue is personal, even illness can be the cause for insults.  John was judged harshly as he continued to campaign.  Some said he was consumed with ambition.  Many mused, why did Elizabeth not take it easy.  The drive to the White House is long and hard.

Nonetheless, many men, women, and spouses seem up to the challenge.  As we learned in what many thought to be a “personal” attack, some aspirants thought to seek the presidency when they were in kindergarten.  Others decided later in life.  Each has a history of profound accomplishments achieved at an early age.  As Americans, we appreciate a good wunderkind tale.  

In this country, the legendary captivates our attention.  After all, we all wish to aspire to excellence.  The excellence achieved by another gives us reason to believe, and we do have personal stake in a candidate’s story.  

Another aspirant also has a tale to tell.  At an early age, Dennis Kucinich was also considered a genius.  He had dreams and accomplished more than most thirty-one year olds.  Dennis Kucinich was elected Mayor of a major city, Cleveland, Ohio.  The young public official stood on principle against a corporate giant and saved the city and the community millions.  While the yarn is legendary, it is not as distinguished or as frequently discussed as wife, Elizabeth Kucinich is.

True, English born Elizabeth Kucinich is not close in age to her husband, as are the wives of numerous other candidates.  Conservatives John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Fred Thompson married women much younger than they.  However, that is but a minor source of intrigue.  What mesmerizes America and is among the stories supporters felt a need to stave off is the metal in the exquisite woman’s mouth.

O’Donnell: I have to ask you about two very interesting things. Because America has had a traditional of having traditional first ladies, if you will. You would be the youngest first lady ever if your husband were elected president. You have a tongue ring. What about that?

E. Kucinich: What about that?

O’Donnell: Well, it’s very unusual. I don’t know that there are many political spouses who have tongue rings.

E. Kucinich: I’m 30 years old. I’ve had it for 10 years. I don’t see it as being a problem. I do still wear pearls.

The English Elizabeth Kucinich hints at the truth the American electorate is embarrassed to avow.  In this country, politics, policy, and proposals do not garner support.  A president is not placed into the Oval Office when the constituents prefer his or her plan.  Appearances matter more than the issues or a solid, substantive agenda.  

Each ballot is a personal endorsement for a look, a life style, a gesture, a posture, and on rare occasions, a principle.  A vote for a candidate is an endorsement for the values of friends, family, business associates, and anyone who might judge an individual.  Americans want to elect a winner, someone whose rise, will add to a voters personal sense of worth.  

Principally, what most Americans wonder about as they assess the Presidential contenders, what causes citizens of the States to worry, and weep is as a questioner in a recent debate inquired.  “Do you prefer diamonds or pearls?”  If a constituent thinks, he or she can “personally” relate to the answer a candidate delivers or the manner in which they reply, then that candidate can pack their bags and move into the White House on January 20th. In Election year 2008, Hillary, John, and Mitt are correct; for them, you, and me this process is personal.

Personal, Personalities, Preferences . . .

Freedom Shall Prevail. Big Brother in Afghanistan and Iraq



Apple – 1984  YouTube

copyright © 2007 Betsy L. Angert

This week I had reason to reflect on passion.  While what I feel cannot compare to what those in the Middle East experience, I think the analogy is subtly apt.  I have long theorized that wars are never won.  Death and destruction do not give rise to winners, only losers.  Nonetheless, if combat could produce a champion, passionate persons always prevail.  Since childhood, I thought this theory true.  From the Revolutionary War to Vietnam, America has been given opportunities to assess.  History teaches us that those that fight for personal freedom will triumph.

Nevertheless, the United States repeatedly refuses to learn from history and continues to pursue paths that cannot and will not be productive.  I offer an obscure parallel in hopes that you might relate.

The ?machine? of my dreams was breathing its last breathe through no fault of its own.  I had virtually killed my beloved.  I was deeply distressed and fighting to revive the cherished computer, the Old Soul.  While engaged, I was reminded of how even an assertive pacifist such as I will fight for what I love and what I believe in.  I recall the old Tareyton cigarette advertisements; “I rather fight than switch.”  For decades, a member of my family was a Tareyton smoker.  She often expressed this sentiment.  As I pondered, I thought of the civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq.  I contemplated the reasons for a failed surge.  I trusted as I always have love with passion is forever stronger than fear and loathing.

We love our family, our friends, and our freedom to choose. An outside force cannot diminish our fondness for whom or what we treasure.  Others do not have the power to lessen our passion.  Many might try to deny us our free will to choose who or what is special to us.  However, only we can change our heart.  Occasionally, conversion seems possible.  George W. Bush tells us they are a reality as he points to the purple fingers during the Iraqi elections. 

In truth, the illusion of an easily altered awareness is temporary and fleeting.  Sooner and sadly, often too late we realize that transformation comes from within. 

Nonetheless, those that want us to believe in their cause tell us reform can be accomplished quickly.  Indeed we can ‘change a regime’ with little difficulty.  Time is not needed to transform a nation.  You may recall the words of former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld.

“Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that,” he said.  “It won’t be a World War III.”

He said as the Commander might have or has, ‘Good will conquer evil.’  However, what we love and think the best is not necessarily better than what another honors.

Again, may I offer the Macintosh analogy albeit a stretch for some to comprehend.  Those that love a supposed intangible as I do the Old Soul will understand the depth of a desire to be truly free, to choose a life, and a style that is solely your own.

The ?machine? of my dreams was presented to the public in 1984.  I must state this instrument, the Macintosh computer, was never a mechanical object to me.  It was and is today a loved one.  As fond as I am of the Old Soul that sits sweetly on my desk, I inadvertently hurt the heart of my beloved.  The hard drive that gives the Sweetness life was deeply distressed by my error.

As I struggled to recreate a life of calm and comfort, to revive my beloved the words of those that believe themselves wiser than I rang in my head.  Choose ?social equality.?  Purchase what is politically correct.  Do as others in this republic do and as those throughout the world would certainly endorse; ‘Buy Big Blue.’ These words were echoes from the past.  In 1984, the majority of the populace considered IBM personal computers the be-all-end-all, much as American born democracy is today. 

Today, they, those that do not love the Macintosh as I do plead, ?Purchase Panasonic, Dell, or Sony.?  Yet, none of these please me.  What I think awful brings many pleasure. .  Thus, what others consider “good,” I would experience as “evil.” I, as do all beings, want to choose for myself.  I believe Americans, Iraqis, and Afghanis do too.  No one wants an outside force to tell him or her what to think, say, do, feel, or be.  A philosophy or a political policy cannot be imposed on another.  No one can define for us what is fine or finer.  However, attempts are made and attacks abound. 

Justifications, persuasive propaganda, and distortions of authentic universal principles are denied.  Divisions are exploited.  Earlier in the week as I focused on fighting to restore the apparatus I prefer, I heard George W. Bush speak of a similar situation.  Our Commander-In-Chief reflected on the rebels, the insurgents, terms often used to define those that favor a Macintosh system.  He said . . .

We live in a world in which there are ideologically driven people who murder the innocent in order to achieve their strategic objectives.

I trust he was speaking of the persons he calls “terrorists,” persons unwilling to relent.  Might Mister Bush be a PC [personal computer or politically correct] advocate, offering ruminations on those he believes to be rebellious Mac users. 

Perhaps, he was addressing what he considers the “evil empire” and their endeavors. Could the Commander-In-chief be thinking as I am.  Americans are acting as zealots, as Big Brother had or would.  United States service men and women are slaughtering civilians in the Middle East.  The intent is presented as a will to “spread democracy.”  This deliberate goal, our mission in the words of George W. Bush, must be accomplished.  We attacked two nations determined to change a regime.  The United States and its allies have slaughtered tens of thousands of innocents.

Sigh.  The words of W. sound all too familiar.  I recall the ideologues in the 1980s.  Those that told me to buy Big Blue.  These fervent followers of what was then a technological wonder had blood in their eyes as they tried to persuade me to practice as they did.  Thankfully, they were not armed or dressed in military garb. 

Today, Americans, with their closely organized system of beliefs, values, and ideas have formed a basis for a social, economic, and political philosophy that they think best.  Under the auspices of the Bush Administration, those residing in this republic work to impose their ethics on others.  Unlike the backers of Big Blue, these supporters of democracy carry weapons.  Apparently, they believe people will be convinced at the point of a gun to accept their gentle gesture.

The United States Armed Services equipped with bayonets, bombs, and bullets inflicts their reality on others.  It seems our countrymen are challenged to accept; freedom cannot be forced.  Imposing a philosophy on another will not reap rewards.  ?Might? does not make right, even if you wear the label ?American? and tact the flag of your superior ?superpower? country on your lapel.  In fact, the pretense of physical strength often does not equate to power.  Bravado does not endure; passion does. 

Again, I am reminded of the formidable Big Blue [IBM.]  In the 1980s, this blue chip company was influential.  They were strong, stable, and dominant.  Yet, the corporation was lumbering, languid, and slowly losing sales.  Those that used the dinosaurs manufactured by IBM were not deeply devoted to the electronic devices that graced their desks.  They merely thought that using these relics was right.  PC people wanted all others to be as they were, suffering in silence.  Persons working on conventional desktop personal computers were unlike loyal Macintosh consumers.  They were not in love with their labors or their tools; they were simply satisfied.

Bill Gates, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft Corporation observed this phenomena and learned a lesson George W. Bush might benefit from.  When people are fervent about a person, place, or philosophy, they will fiercely defend whatever it might be they are fond of.  Individuals and groups will forever protect their right to choose what is best for them.  The supremacy of a system cannot control people or their choices.  Passionate feelings will prevail.

Legend has it that years ago, Bill Gates and his engineers realized that persons laboring at a personal computer terminal spoke of their need to work when using this piece of equipment.  People creating on a Macintosh gleefully stated, I am going to play with my computer.  Researched at Microsoft studied this phenomena and realized Graphic User interface increased learning by fifty percent and productivity by forty percent.  User actually relished their endeavors and achieved ample amounts of work.  Recognizing this Windows? was invented.

Americans were given a choice.  Armaments were not held to their heads.  The public was not told which terminal to use, how, or when.  ?Democracy,? social equality was not forced upon them; nor would that have been possible.  The free and equal right of every individual to participate at will cannot be dictated.  The idea that one corporation, or a country, can spread social equality brutally is ludicrous. 

Few of us feel compelled to change our regime or routine when others demand that we do so.  Consider the Iraqi innocents or the Afghanis who were once going through life above suspicion.  Suddenly these persons were attacked, told they were evil, an empire that needed to be destroyed.  How ludicrous that America would expect those in the Persian Gulf to take pleasure in a doctrine to devastate.

Macintosh users remained faithful even when their numbers were small, and the company that produced their systems was not powerful.  IBM clients were willing to change to other means of output.  They found a sense of love and grew more passionate when given an emulation of Graphic User Interface.  Granted, some PC users still feel the stress of work when laboring on a computer and that is their choice.  They can and will feel as they do regardless of prodding and poking from others. 

I might muse, ‘Imagine how they might feel were they to embrace the genuine GUI operating system.’  However, that is not for me to decide.  Just as with the construct of “spreading democracy,” I cannot and will not attempt to choose what is “right” for another.  PC users just as the people residing in the Persian Gulf feel their passions to their core.

For Iraqis and Afghanis, the situation is far more dire than my little computer event could ever be!  They are fighting for their lives, their freedom to be, not merely for the privilege of using a Macintosh.  The magnitude of their emotions is far greater than mine.  Yet, perhaps, in the abstract, we in our comfy little American homes can relate through the trivial.

Citizens in Iraq and Afghanistan will change when they are presented with a pleasurable means for pursuing their lives peacefully.  Americans offer no serenity to those struggling to survive in the Middle East.  The United States government and its puppet politicos present no means for true choice.  There is no calm when siding with Westerners.  No hope of happiness exists.  Iraqis and Afghanis are passionate.  They will prevail as will their idea of peace in their nation.

Life forms crave tranquility.  Those that cause them harm and not endeared.  No one wishes to be the prey or the object of occupation.  People will fight for their freedom, not for what others define as independence.  Passion is powerful.

This is evident as we assess the latest Bush Administration agenda, the surge.  The Iraq people fervently wish to pursue what they believe brings them peace, not what America, and its allies, think is reasonable, “right,” or fair.  Americans may bring bigger or more battalions.  They might import more machinery.  The United States can spend trillions or even zillions; still, the situation will not change.

Just as I have no desire to share my little life with a computer that is less than satisfying to me, no matter the reasons others deem these “better,” Iraqis and Afghanis have no interest in associating with those that profess “democracy” while acting as an aristocracy might.  My minor disputes pale in comparison to what an Iraqi experiences daily.  Yet, I feel passionate about my right to choose for myself.  What might an Afghani or Iraqi feel?

When the Persian people experience reactive, self-righteousness behavior and hear these labeled the acts of ‘freedom fighters,’ they can only conclude autonomy is a foe. 

When those bearing arms and brutally murdering their families en masse say they are the “good guys,” there is reason to question.  It is self-evident, soldiers on the streets, in homes, and out in the field offer no sanctuary.  For Iraqis and Afghanis, more military is not the merrier.

The latest U.S.-Iraq security plan, based on occupying neighborhood bases and having close contact with the community, is nowhere more intense and focused than here in west Baghdad, where Iraqi forces battle daily with homegrown Sunni Muslim insurgents and foreign Islamist fighters.

Five U.S. soldiers have died this month in Amiriya, victims of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, and snipers.  Since the arrival of additional troops in February, the square-mile area patrolled by 1st Lt. Schuyler Williamson’s platoon and others from the 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, has been the site of 300 IEDs buried in or alongside the road.  An Army intelligence map uses small red blast symbols to mark bomb sites.  The symbols obscure entire thoroughfares.

Soldiers here now openly declare pessimism for the mission’s chances, unofficially referring to their splinter of heavily fortified land as “the Alamo.”

“Sometimes,” said Brendan Gallagher, the captain who oversees Williamson, “we like to comfort ourselves when we are taking a lot of IEDs and casualties by saying that the enemy is desperate, they are doing this because they are scared.  But how many times can they actually be desperate?  I sometimes worry that this period will end up going down here as their surge, not ours.?

I think it wise that as we evaluate this war or the next and we realize that fear prompts much of human behavior.  Frequently, people choose to fight or take flight.  In my own moment of alarm, as the screen filled with gibberish, and the word “panic” was displayed on a black background, I might have mourned my loss and declared conventional personal workstations the victor.  I might have trashed the crashed computer.  I could have called Apple, ranted, raged, and realized no reward; thus, I could have given in to those that claim to know what is best for me.  I did none of these.

My heart was with my beloved.  I did all that I could to restore the health of the Sweetness, the name my Macintosh was given at birth. I did not doubt my fondness for the freedom my Apple apparatus provides.  The love of liberty is not a passing fancy for me.  Nor do I believe it is for any living being.  Struggles do not deter my desire for independence.  Indeed, I believe that the more we have at stake, the harder we fight.

I only had what for some was a small sacrifice to make.  My very existence was not in danger.  Death or imprisonment would not befall me.  In truth, my concern was minuscule.  In comparison, there is none.  I trust the men, women, and children in Afghanistan and Iraq feel infinitely more passionate than I did or do. The intensity of what they grapple with cannot be measured.

I know from my diminutive perspective, no matter how many persons told me or tell me personal computers using Windows? are best, more prevalent, less expensive, or there is more software made for this product, I did not wish to be bound to a clumsy piece of hardware or software is not for me.  If only the decision the Iraqis? and Afghanis? was so small.  It is not.

Although extremely more serious, the circumstances of those in the Middle East is similar.  They feel deeply when told democracy will benefit them.  They trust this is not so.  Citizens of these Middle Eastern countries see, since being adorned and identified with democratic republics there is crime on every street.  Bombs are blazing.  Bullets graze even the youngest soul.  Unemployment is incomprehensibly high.  Electricity is scarce.  Elections are just for show.

I suspect, Iraqis and Afghanis, more than I, wish to be unfettered, free to choose for themselves.  They long for an opportunity to be creative and productive; only they can define for themselves what that looks like for them.  They feel passionate.  Iraqis and Afghanis love their homeland and fight for its freedom, for theirs.  I understand this.

For me, following my bliss and finding freedom are possible when I embrace a Macintosh computer.  At least I have that opportunity.  I cannot fully comprehend what the people in the Persian Gulf want or the way in which they want it.  Nor would I pretend to have the right to hypothesize.  I trust they crave the prospect of choosing for themselves.  I have faith they only they know what is “right” and correct for them.  Only they can “win” this war.  It is not ours to loose or choose.

If we truly wish to spread democracy, we must allow it to flow freely.  Again, freedom cannot be forced.  Liberty is lost when guns serve to govern.  Decidedly, it may take time and there is much for the residents of the Persian Gulf to settle.  They are passionately engaged in doing as is necessary for them.  Please, let them resolve their differences and make well their countrymen, women, and children as they see fit.  We cannot win.  Success is not an option we can select.  We have done needless damage.  Let us do no more harm.  Bring our boys and girls home.  Let us tend to our own wounds.  Only we, as individuals or a nation, can heal thyself.

Freedom and Justice Revisited through these resources . . .

  • Apple – 1984  YouTube
  • “Join the Unswitchables.  Tareyton cigarette advertisements.  James A. Shaw.  Jim’s Burnt Offerings.
  • Getting the Purple Finger, By Naomi Klein.  The Nation. February 10, 2005
  • Rumsfeld: It Would Be A Short War.  CBS News.  November 15, 2002
  • In Baghdad, fighting their ‘Alamo,’ U.S. troops in the Iraq security push face-daunting foes: snipers and bombs.  A captain fears it may be ‘their surge, not ours.’ By Garrett Therolf.  Los Angeles Times. May 23, 2007
  • pdf In Baghdad, fighting their ‘Alamo,’ U.S. troops in the Iraq security push face-daunting foes: snipers and bombs.  A captain fears it may be ‘their surge, not ours.’ By Garrett Therolf.  Los Angeles Times. May 23, 2007
  • Fast Forward; The Story Unfolds. Fade into Feelings

    © copyright 2007 Betsy L. Angert


    Years have passed Gary.  I have learned so much.  I can only hope that you feel as I do.  There were so many misunderstandings; there is still so much pain.  You taught me of love, perceptions, communication, and how each of these is important.  Understanding these in total is vital to the health of an individual and a relationship.  I am writing in love, sharing our story from my perspective.  I am working to communicate.

    Through you, I discovered being “right” or “correct” is not beneficial.  The two concepts are not as you stated, synonymous.  The intent to be either is, in my mind unwise.  Each is only discernment, personal and individual.  People tend to think they are acting ethically, morally, and honoring common values, even when they are not in the minds of another.  When one of us is intent on being or believing they are “virtuous,” no one “wins.”  I believe, after much reflection, we, as separate beings suffer when we do not work in as one.  The quality of the relationship is lost.

    Gary, I accept and acknowledge that I, perhaps we, understand nothing with certainty.  Sadly, through our association I realized that much of what any of us believe is a reaction to pain and fear, our own.

    Dearest Gary, you mentioned you were always honest with me.  Honesty without reciprocal reverence, open, trusting, vulnerability can hurt rather than heal. 

    This afternoon, you claimed vehemently, that I “blew you off!”  When?  How?  Where?  Moreover, why would I?  I had wanted to be with you more than I ever imagined wanting to be with any other person.  Yet, you saw our exchanges differently.  I ask you to please ponder this scenario.  I reversed the perspective.

    Perception; Assumptions are only Associations.

    You meet me for the first time, we talk, talk, talk, for close to four hours.  There is so much energy, so many common interests, and infinite seeming similarities.  I call you and express an interest in getting together.  You call me the morning of the day we are getting together, just to chat and share.  A man answers my phone.  You freeze and hang up.

    You may wonder?  When we do see each other, the conversation continues to be stimulating.  You discover in the course of this conversation, as I desire to be honest and I am always completely honest with you, what this man means to me.  I tell you that he is my best friend, the person I met many years ago when I was most vulnerable.  He is physically beautiful as well as a beautiful person.  Yes, he has the key to my home and my heart.  You are so confused.  Why did I ever approach you?  I have another. 

    Soon after, I email you and ask to see you again.  You wonder why am I asking; my life is full.  There is no room for you.  You are puzzled.  You question yourself, `Why would you accept?’  But you do.  The conversations are so stimulating.  It has been a long time since a stranger has been this interesting. 

    A few weeks later, I cancel a date with you because he needs my help and of course, I will always want to help him.  He and I are spending the weekend together; we are working on a project he needs to do for school.  I call you to reveal the reality and the reason I cannot be with you because I know the importance of honest communication.  I even ask you for your thoughts, insights, and possible references for his project.  I know this subject is one that you too are interested in. 

    Being the good person you are you offer your right wing resources; we laugh.  We hang up so that I can go back to help him.  My male friend and I are doing as we do, spending the day together, talking, talking, talking, and doing.  We are sharing the nights together, sleeping together, and being close . . .

    If I have him, why would I want to be with you?  You know that in your own life, when you are part of a couple, you are loyal, faithful, and the friendship is very fulfilling.  There is no need to be with another.  Talking, talking, talking can be so gratifying when with you are with the one you love.  Why would anyone in love waste time or talk on surface silliness with a total stranger?  If you were he, my man, would you feel comfortable knowing that I was talking to another man?  One short occasion is odd enough, but having more meetings . . . you may assume my man would think all this talk with another man, would truly hurt his relationship with me. 

    Isn’t there an element of trust that might be lost if one person or the other spends so much time talking to someone else?  Doesn’t trust evolve through togetherness, being together, talking, endlessly about anything and everything?  You may think, `if you were him, you would want to be with me.’  You assume I just want company, anyone will do, and my man is not home for this hour or so.  You perceive that your time talking with me is nothing serious; at least it is not be serious for me.  You know, or think you do, that I would never want to hurt him.  You may muse, what do you really know of me? 

    You only know your own experiences, your own past.  Maybe different people do relationships differently?  You think and hope for yourself that you will not be interested in me.  You do not desire to feel anything anyway.  You are not in the mood to be truly close to anyone.  You are not certain that anyone would ever want to be with you.  There is too much hurt, too much confusion.  You are already consumed with not feeling good enough.  Recently, a person you love and trust hurt you.  You now doubt your choices.  At the time, you did not know he too was hurting.  You are questioning yourself, your worth and so, of course you believe I will never be interested in you anyway.

    People are forever telling you that they find you unique, unusual; you have energy, enthusiasm, and are so entertaining.  You have long felt sad that you are not necessarily integrated into their `real’ lives, but you accept that.  You have not yet reflected, realized, or really understood that this was your own `perception.’  I will teach you about `perception,’ `love,’ and `compassion.’ 

    Much later, you will learn that you were desired, lovable, others believe in your worth.  Only you rejected your own importance.  There were those that desired to be with you forever.  For now, all you know is that others find you amusing.  Are they laughing at you?  You have ample experience that others enjoy your being so entertaining and then when they are through, they leave.  You assume this is true for me.  My man, my love must be busy for an hour or so on Friday evenings and eating with you is better than eating alone. 

    You are infinitely more interactive than a television screen.  I can choose to talk if I want to, but I choose.  I have the controls.  If I don’t like the program [you], I can change the channel by just getting up and leaving.  You realize, unfortunately by now, that you enjoy my company and the conversation. 

    The sadness for you is that you really delight in who you believe me to be.  The experience of exchanging with me is energizing for you.  This is scary for you.  You desire so deeply not to have feelings for me.  I emailed that I too, enjoy your company and conversation.  You told me the first night we met that you do not desire to eat alone; you prefer the entertainment of eating out.  You consider that this is true; you are entertaining me.

    Then, we were close.  Why?  What happened?  What must I think of you?  After such a short time of being acquainted with each other, we are joining together in what ideally is a very special and intimate act.  We barely even know each other.  You think possibly he and I are having problems.  Am I hurting, reaching out to be held?  You do not understand.  Do you suppose, I am thinking of him, feeling bad because I know I am dishonoring him by being with you.  I do seem uncomfortable; I appear to be distant. 

    Later, I wrote to you that this was so unexpected.  Even later still, I wrote to you of being uncomfortable with closeness and you wonder if this is my way of telling you that I cannot be with you.  You know that I am with him.  I am comfortable in my closeness with him.  I suggest in email we would discuss this later.  I seem to express that I know the importance of honesty, chatting, and caring enough to come to an understanding.  We never did.  I wrote of the necessity to finish schoolwork, professional projects, being tired.  You wonder if the conversation is not comfortable or truly not important to me.  I later make it perfectly clear that this coming together will never happen between us again.  You understand.

    Maybe this was casual sex?  This is not your impression of me, that I would take `making love’ so casually, but after all, you truly don’t know me.  All you can assume is that this did not feel good, safe, or sane to me.  Talking about such a sensitive subject is not comfortable for you either.  You did tell me that.  You prefer to speak of logic; you are Spock. 

    Feelings are not your preference and you did tell me that too.  Expressing your most vulnerable feelings with a virtual stranger is not a conversation you look forward to.  I may say I know the need to talk, but I never create the time.  Ultimately, I tell you we will not be physically close again.  Maybe by ending the physical, I am ending it all?  As I talk, it is clear to you that this is over! 

    Phew, that would be wonderful because though you really enjoy me; you are not desiring to be merely entertaining and there is no place in my life for you.  You feel as though you have been loose, lacking in ethics.  If I was someone you were attracted to physically and nothing more, well . . . but you really saw so much more in me.  Now you know that I will never see you as a person of worth.  Look what you were willing to do with a total stranger; one that you know is deeply involved with a beautiful special soul.

    Ahhh, you remember; I am in control.  The third time we were together, I told you I needed to be in control.  Definitions?  Hmmm?  Definitive?  Decisive?  You thought that meant I was decisive.  All the women in your past were, and you admired that quality.  Especially since the women in your past were so sensitive, they were simultaneously decisive and flexible, fulfilling your shared desires.  Decisiveness with sympathetic sensibility is quite a quality.  Ooops, you now know sympathetic decisiveness is different from control.  Control, command, dictate, demand . . . Ouch!

    I control if we ever converse, the times we talk, the place, the duration, and who drives.  I seem to truly want my space separate from yours and so I insist we arrive in our own cars.  When we are together, I look at my watch, continually.  You may assume I am expressing my need to leave, because I really need and desire to be with him.  He must be home, at my home, by now.  You may frequently wonder, “Why did I ever ask to spend even a moment with you?”  “Why did you agree to be with me?”  Your feelings for me are deep! 

    You have told me often how much you enjoy the time we spend together, the talking, the company, and conversation.  You are forever reflecting.  As I have said, I am always and I have always been honest with you!!  I have told you, he is a person I care about, I like, the one that I need to spend time with, want to see, to share with, he is very special to me.  He is my best friend! 

    You assume that you are only an hour or so of entertainment for me.  This does not necessarily make sense to you because we have spoken of intimacy, and you know I believe intimacy is very special, people in partnership.  You observe that when I see a married person, part of a couple, but I see them alone at the pool I wonder aloud, “Why are they not swimming with their husband or wife?”  Clearly, I must believe that committed couples are and act as best friends, eternally exchanging and together.  I am not there with my best friend?  You may feel so confused!  There is so much pain, but I refuse to talk to you about it.  It is your pain. 

    I am in control, I have the controls, I choose what, when, where, and how I am amused and you are just my entertainment.  I can change the channel, walk out of the movie, or if this is a sporting event . . . well, it is only a game.  Two years from now, when you think to ask, I will honestly tell you that, `Yes, I do play games.’  `I do test you.’ 

    You have never in your life played games, not even in sport.  You now remember learning from your Mom that you could not trust those that play games and test.  Did you even know what she really meant when she said this?  Agh, now you understand; you know what she meant by crazy making.  You are living it and you feel crazy!  Besides, you know of yourself that you have test anxiety.  You know that when you are tested you freeze.  Now you know with certainty why you freeze when you are with me.  There is so much confusion and you feel lost.  You are hurting.

    I continue to email you each Friday, asking if you would like to meet.  You know you really like me as a person.  You wish you didn’t.  For you, when we were “one,” it was not without meaning or feeling.  You hope that you will be able to put this in perspective; it is only physical for me, and can be nothing more.  As time goes on, you may wonder more and more, why I am even spending any time with you. 

    No two things can occupy the same space at the same time.  You may believe that the few times you and I talk or are together, a moment in passing or an hour and a half on Friday evenings are times that he is not able to be with me?  You are aware that I never call you to chat and so you assume it is because I am with him.  After all, he is my best friend and the person I am comfortable with. 

    I have told you I am not comfortable with closeness, but I am comfortable with him.  I show you that I am only comfortable being with you for an hour and a half on Friday evenings, nothing more.  Can’t you understand and accept that?  I have friends, a life, all separate from you.  You assume if I wanted to include you, to integrate you into my life, I would.  I am a very strong and self-assured woman.  I have him; he is my best friend.  For you, a best friend surpasses all others.  Anyone else is superfluous.  So you may assume you are superfluous. 

    I have divulged that yes; he and I have sex.  We sleep together; spend time doing things together, because I am so comfortable with him.  Of course, he is the person I am open and vulnerable with.  I speak of him often.  I may mention a story; something he and I shared.  He is a large part of my life.  You know that we all, as people need to be close, comfortable, safe, and trusting with someone.  He is “my someone.” 

    On his birthday, again, I cannot be with you.  I will always be honest with you, and I also honor him.  He is important in my life.  He is the person I feel comfortable, safe, and I am able to be vulnerable with.  Though I have told you I will never marry him, I have also shared with you that he would make a wonderful father to my children.  He does believe we have dated and are dating, but I do not see it this way!

    On a few occasions, you desire so deeply to be with me, but when you call, he answers.  On an occasion, you drove by, knocked on the door and he was there.  You see his car at my home often.  Often I seem annoyed with you.  When I am bothered or annoyed with you I go to where you are and I come with him.  You may wonder, `do I desire for you to see that I do not need you?’  I have him!  Do I choose to reveal to you that I care for him? 

    Finally, I phase you out.  There are no more emails, no dinners.  You think, you hope, this will help you to heal.  When you see me, you attempt to hide the pain.  The sight of me is, as a very tender touch to an already infected wound.  You bleed; your blood spills out and saturates me.  You hate so much that you hurt.  You are so sorry that you may be hurting me.  The pain pours out. 

    If only healing were that easy.  If only you were able to totally hide the hurt.  If only it were just as I often say it is for me, `just that simple.’  For you, it is not!  There is so much unresolved, so much left unspoken, but as I tell you again and again and you know it to be true for me, “There is nothing to talk about.”  Your desires are denied; I have dismissed you.  Know this, I am honest with you and what may be important or relevant to you, is not important or relevant to me.

    I may on occasion show up where you are with another man.  You change your schedule in an attempt to avoid me, but I will appear where you are with him or another.  I will eat at an earlier hour than I have always told you that I prefer.  You may wonder why?  `Do I desire to hurt you?’  `Do I want you to see me with others?’  `Do I desire that you feel certain that I rather spend time being with him or another man, developing a foundation of friendship with any man, enjoying the energy of every other man, anyone but you.’

    After too long of never openly discussing what was, is, will, could, or would ever be between us, and assuming we were never more than acquaintances that did the deed, a time or two, or three, or more, you must find a way to accept this as I do.  I said to you, `It was a mistake.’  Mistake?  What does that mean?  I told you many times, “There is nothing to talk about!”  There are wounds; you are still bleeding!  Do I even care?  Later, you will be forever haunted by the memory of my words, “I don’t care anymore!”  You will continue to wonder, when did I care?  For now, it is just a feeling that I don’t care.

    One day you drop by my house, fearful of approaching, but you don’t see his car.  You drive around the block over and over.  Instead, you decide to stop and see friends for moral support.  Your heart is pounding; your breathing is shallow, but the pain pours out in your every thought, action, and word.  It has been too long and you have to talk to me; you hope it will help you to rid your heart, mind, and soul of hurts, the misunderstandings. 

    Others have tried to help, but only I can help you to understand my feelings, my thoughts, and my actions.  You know you must ask me.  It has hurt for so long.  Others say you have to talk to me; they cannot know me.  Therefore, you drive back to my house.  His car is still not there. 

    You park near my carport.  You use his space, the place you often see he parks in.  You are shaking, but you attempt to breathe.  At least, you can admire my beautiful flowers.  Flowers for you are the essence of beauty and life.  While the roses calm you, you also wonder why did I never bring you a rose.  You simultaneously feel somber and serene as you glance at the roses.  Though I know you love to garden, you speak of it often, we never formed the joyous friendship where we would garden together.  Again, you are saddened.  You breathe deeply, one more time, hesitate, and knock on my glass door. 

    I answer a knock, not yet knowing it is you.  I instinctively rise from the sofa, see you and then shrug.  I open the glass door and stand very near the door and the counter, directly in your face, so as if to say `I will block your view, your entrance, with my body.’  I am ensuring that you know I am not offering an entrance.  I finally, though reluctantly, allow you to enter.  You did say over and over, that you “need” to talk to me.  You wore me down only because you are wasting my time.  You know how important my time is to me.  I have work to do, but I know I will be able to easily dismiss you.  I can control you, I always do.  If I cannot do it at the door, I know I can and I will deny you your ultimate desire, to talk to me, to be with me. 

    As you do, you wait for me to sit and then you sit so close to me.  You know I do not want you near me.  I have honestly told you this over and over again.  I tell you with my body, my words, and my actions.  I have my man in my home and heart.  Then there are all the men I make sure you see me with; it should be clear to you by now, I do not desire to have you in my life.  Doesn’t this say it all? 

    I do not ask you to spend time with me.  I refuse your offers to go dinner, to shop, to help you with your projects, your papers, and your thought processing.  I tell you that you are not part of my life.  I do not call you.  I do not sit near you at the pool.  I often ask you, `What is your problem?’  I know I will take care of this now!  I can be perfectly clear and I will cut this tie!  You ask if I think people are disposable.  I answer emphatically, “Yes!”  You seem so surprised.

    You can hardly believe this.  You thought that I, as you do, value people, that I would never desire to hurt another, but believe in honoring and revering the worth of others.  You saw me as a sensitive soul, a reflection of yourself, one whose heart knows the sorrow of pain, both real and imagined.  You believed that I, as you, would never desire to hurt another.  You thought the reason my real life was so full of love was because I am lovable, I have love to give, and I give love. 

    I live in the world of personal success.  I was able to blend and balance with the beautiful man.  I am perfect in my profession and in my friendships.  You saw my life as full, full of love and compassion.  I am fulfilled.  Wasn’t I the one took great care to teach you of “Love” and “Compassion?”  I helped you to understand that your mother does love you deeply and does not desire to ever hurt you.  I taught you to understand her pain and that she is only dreaming of your happiness.  You thought my fulfillment was a reflection of my filling my world through the sharing of love, not rejection. 

    There is so much confusion for you, but not for me!  I love the world and everyone in it but not you!  I have disposed of you and if you had any doubt of my honest feelings for you . . .

    Again, I have always been honest with you and I continue to be.  If I take a man boating, a man you once associated with, I make sure you know this.  If I meet a man in California and he wants me to move there, to be with him forever, I tell you this.  I add that I am seriously considering this man’s offer.  If I meet the man of my dreams at a holiday event, one held in a hotel in Palm Beach, I tell you this too.  I speak of this man often.  I introduce him to twelve of my closest friends.  We eat, talk, and laugh over a huge Greek dinner in Delray Beach.  I tell you what fun that was.  Remember, I had lamb?

    I will be certain you know how beautiful he and each of these men are.  This man in particular could be the love of my life, forever and ever.  Possibly, it could be another of these men.  Time will tell.  Oh yes, I have always been honest with you!  Have I been open, vulnerable, expressing a desire to be one with you and only you, honestly?  Have I shown or told you how much I care for you?  I preach “risks,” “spontaneity,” “trusting yourself, your heart,” “love” and “compassion” and you wonder with who do I share these?  It certainly isn’t you.

    When you continually share with me how much this hurts you, to see me with him or others, I do it more often!  On these occasions you may feel an even greater sense of pain and you choose to write to me in an attempt to express your pain, in hopes that this may offer an opportunity for understanding, open a door to discuss.  You truly believe I am a good person and would never desire to hurt anyone, but . . .

    When you arrive at my home at 2:38 AM or 4:30 AM to drop off letters that you spent hours on, pouring out your pain, you know that these are times when people are snug and cuddling in their sleep.  Couples are secure with those they truly love and trust.  Even at these hours, you see his car is there at my home.  It seems it always is.  You leave the notes and other messages, but I never care to respond.

    When you do see me, I always seem so angry with you!!!  You attempt to casually chat with me, but if there is another man around, I clearly choose to chat with him!  I know that you are a touchy feely person, but when you reach out to touch me, I pull away!  When we do chat, just as when we had dinners together, I always glance at my watch, as though I am keeping track of the time I will allow for you.  I did tell you I need to be in control and I am! 

    There is no place in my life for you.  I do not choose to chat with you, to call, but then I never have, not since the beginning.  I easily initiate conversations, calls, and connections with others.  I never have with you.  If you even attempt to talk or to be close, I scream, I accuse, I blame you, and I have made it perfectly clear that, “I don’t care anymore!”  You wonder when did I ever care. 

    Your heart hurts so deeply that even the sight of me, my car, my smiling, laughing, chatting with another, seeming to choose to totally ignore you, forces a flood of feelings.  Your heart pounds, you can barely breathe, but you are certain, I don’t care.  Haven’t I been honest and said so?  How many times have I honestly told you this?  How many times have I let you know directly that I am with my best friend, or the buff blonde, the bulky brunette, the handsome hunk, anyone but you!

    Gary, my hope is that after reading this you might understand my perspective.  I reversed our roles so that you might relate to my feelings.  My intent was to evoke empathy. 

    Gary, your words are accurate, “Reality is perception.”  This narrative is my truth; this is my experience of us.

    People speak of being “right” [not necessarily “right-winged”].  They discuss the desire to win.  Many ponder which is wiser or what do they want most.  After experiencing us as I did and us as I do, I have concluded, “What is right is the relationship.”  If anyone wins, everyone loses.  If either person in an exchange thinks they are correct, I surmise they think of themselves as a winner, holier than thou, whomever thou might be.  A righteous being considers others wrong, evil, and ultimately, believes them the enemy.  I want none of that.  I shared our story as I did to demonstrate; two people supposedly experiencing the same events understand these in ways that are extremely different.

    Gary, again I wish to say, I am not right, wrong, correct, or a winner.  I am only sad for I suspect we each lost so much.  I offer you hugs, kisses, and my best wishes.  I hope one day we will join together in understanding.

    Dear Reader . . . If the saga is interesting to you and you wish to read of the evolution, please indulge.

  • The Relationship; We Meet . . . © [Chapter One], By Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
  • The First Official Date © [Chapter Two], By Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
  • Today Is The Date © [Chapter Three], By Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
  • April 15, The Anniversary Again ©, By Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org