Tales of an Untamed Uterus, or Pagophagia and Me

Greetings, fair readers! I submit to you my humble apologies for my long absence. Much has happened since I last updated this blog, but today I am going to talk about my uterus. Of course, you probably didn’t know that there is anything noteworthy about my uterus, and there really isn’t. It is like many other uteri out there, save for the fact that it is mine. And it has a story to tell.

The saga begins on my 12th birthday and goes downhill from there. On that day that began with such promise, I felt the as yet unfamiliar rush that has now come to mean “uh-oh,” and the first in a long line of undergarments that would be relegated to the corner of the drawer was created. AKA, Period Panties. Our one family vacation that year was ruined for me. I would stare longingly at the swimming pool for the rest of our stay. Good thing I received Stephen King’s “Skeleton Crew” for my birthday-always look for the positive!

From my youthful loins there was no trifling flow that some call “light days.” No, mine was the stuff of legends on the level with an apocalyptic vision from the Revelations. The Four Horsemen themselves galloped gleefully through my tortured womb. My insides twisted as if being vitamixed into a tempting vampire smoothie, I skulked down the aisle of the drug store with winged maxis, briefly considering the adult diapers. Shamefaced and pallid, I plopped down my mammoth box of sanitary pads and a mega-sized bottle of Pamprin. For two weeks I bore the curse that left me pale and shaken, barely able to venture from my room.

And so the story replayed itself over and over on a strict lunar cycle, broken only by three pregnancies and extended breastfeeding. Some think that breastfeeding my youngest until three years old is creepy. Judge not the woman who knows this would be the last respite from the floods until menopause! To slow that mad march of wizened eggs down the maze of my fallopian tubes, my heroic breasts were offered up as pale victims to the gods who demanded blood sacrifice.

I realize I am being a bit dramatic; it wasn’t that epic. Fast forward to the present…

I had a full physical with a new doctor a couple of months ago. She was really cool, and by cool I mean very Asheville. Her skirt had little pompoms hanging from it like a Mexican sombrero and she was wearing Tevas sandals. She was both focused and lackadaisical, if you can imagine it. But really nice and I felt comfortable relating to her my health history.

I mentioned that I had recently begun flirting with veganism, though this has gradually morphed into a quasi-vegetarian/pescatarian hybrid diet that leaves me pining for bacon. I told her I was always tired and a chronic insomniac. I spoke of my many failed attempts to donate blood due to low hemoglobin. In a determined effort to donate successfully, I popped extreme doses of iron before my Red Cross appointment. I finally accomplished the level of 12 that was needed on my third try. I happily chatted as they tapped my vein, right up to the moment that I found myself with legs in the air as the nurse attempted to revive me from a swoon. The doctor suggested “you oughta get your blood levels checked, dude.” She hastened me to the lab for the obligatory stick and peaced out.

Sure enough, it was confirmed that I had abysmally low levels of hemoglobin, iron and B12. Cue the order for sub-lingual B12 and a nasty concoction called Floradix that doesn’t tear up my insides and clog my pipes like regular iron pills. And an order for an ultrasound of my lady bits. WTF? Yes. My doctor informed me that anemia is CAUSED by something and you must find out what that cause is to cure it. In my case she suspected that I might have fibroids in my uterus causing heavy bleeding. So a trans-vaginal ultrasound was in my near future.

For an intrauterine ultrasound, one must chug about 64 ounces of water about an hour beforehand. The morning of the appointment, I drank the obligatory amount of water, but having a notoriously nervous bladder, I had to pee even before I started my fluid intake. So I found myself sitting in the waiting room, cold sweat running down my face, legs crossed and frantically shaking. The others waiting had a similar look of desperation.

Finally the technician calls me back. I disrobe and sit shivering in a paper gown as I struggle not to pee. The technician comes in and instructs me to put my feet in the stirrups. Assume the position, as any lady knows how to do. The first in a series of awkward moments ensues: “Your toe nails look pretty,” she says. “Ummm, thank you?” I reply with my knees in the air. “Did you do them yourself?” “yes…” What is with this lady and her obsession with toes? “Shall I insert the wand or would you like to?” She asks. “I guess you,” I respond, thinking that neither option sounds any better than the other and I am concentrating on NOT PISSING all over the place. Then she starts poking around and taking what I presume are snapshots of my womb. All of a sudden, she turns on the sound and I hear what sounds like heartbeats! My heart leaps to my throat and I stop breathing… The technician notices the look on my face and laughs. “That’s just the sound of blood going through your vessels, hahaha!” I emit a sickly laugh and wonder if this can get any worse. It doesn’t, thankfully. In a few minutes I am sighing with pleasure on the potty.

So, long story a bit shortened, I tested positive for fibroids and have to wait forever to get in to see a gynecologist to find out what, if anything, I am going to do about it. There are many options, but they all sound shitty. Fibroids are basically tumors of varying size that are usually not cancerous, but can cause all kinds of havoc. Heavy and painful periods, swollen belly, back pain, restless legs, frequent urination…all things that I have been suffering all of my adult life.

I may be over sharing, but I have a purpose in chronicling the trials and tribulations of my uterus. I have learned a few things that I didn’t know before. I had never even looked up the definition of anemia before. I always thought that it just meant low iron. Paleness, fatigue, nothing serious. Actually to be anemic means that you don’t have enough red blood cells in your body to carry adequate amounts of oxygen to tissues. Anemia can be quite serious and it may indicate a serious underlying illness.

Ever since I was pregnant the first time, I have had a terrible and powerful craving for ice. My husband went into hunter-gatherer mode in search of the perfect pearls of ice that might calm my intense need. Incidentally, I found the holy grail of ice in the hospital when I gave birth to my first child. I think I will dedicate an entire post later to my quest for perfect ice. But for now, know that this craving is called pagophagia and it can be an indicator that you have iron-deficiency type anemia. If you are tired, easily winded, craving ice or other non-food items, get your blood checked! Not sure what craving lemon peels means, but I ate those too. No scurvy for me!

Vegans and vegetarians often have low levels of vitamin B12. This type of anemia can also be caused by autoimmune disorders, heavy drinking, Crohn’s disease, and other problems that inhibit absorption of B12. Symptoms include light-headedness, rapid heartbeat and breathing, easy bruising and bleeding, intestinal distress, pallor, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, and even cognitive impairment. Long term deficiency can lead to nerve damage, so don’t mess around!

It’s important to get your blood tested to find out if you have anemia. Don’t try to diagnose yourself. Iron overload can lead to serious health risks. Too much B12 can lead to cancer.

As I await my next appointment, my internet research has given me plenty of scary scenarios to ponder on. I also fantasize that my stubborn leftover baby fat is actually a fibroid the size of a 5 month fetus…

Oddities and Grandma’s Wisdom

Amaya:

Valentine’s post reminds me of my paternal grandmother, or Granny as everyone called her. She was a tough old lady. She drove up and down the eastern seaboard, visiting her five children unnanounced. She would often stay for weeks, upsetting the order of things. She disapproved of just about everything and never minced words. The most memorable, and painful thing she ever said to me was “I love you, but I don’t have to like you.” I was perhaps ten or eleven years old and couldn’t figure for the life of me why she didn’t like me. I never did. But now I can’t help but think the same thing about a few of my family members. At least Granny was honest! Visit Val’s page to read about her grandmother, who sounds as interesting as mine was, although I daresay much kinder!

Originally posted on QBG_Tilted Tiara:

LVal_2010The world is burning and Nero fiddles from the balcony and we, the peasants are dancing in the streets to a song we barely know and have long since forgotten the steps to. Now and then though something occurs to us, something leaps out and bites us on the ankle, perhaps a memory of days past when things were simple and life didn’t break our hearts. For me, despite some folks in my family were crazy as hell and honestly didn’t have the sense the Good Lord gave a gnat, some of that time was time spent with one of my grandmothers in South Texas.

Valentines Liquor Store 6903 - 3-69-45

My Granddad’s Liquor store

I didn’t see a great deal of her, didn’t spend much time with her because my father and grandfather didn’t see eye-to-eye, this is mildly put. My grandfather was a mean son-of-a-bitch, he was a bigot and a card-carrying member of…

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Forward Together, Not One Step Back: Moral Monday Returns To Asheville, NC

Yesterday I attended Asheville’s second Mountain Moral Monday, a movement that started in Raleigh in 2012 in protest of the extremist policies of the NC General Assembly, most of which have been signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory. Early estimates put the number of attendees at about 5,000-6,500 people-down from last year’s 10,000, but an impressive turnout nonetheless.

Mountain Moral Monday in Pack Square, Asheville

Mountain Moral Monday in Pack Square, Asheville

The Moral Monday movement’s organizer and state NAACP chapter president, Reverend William J. Barber, was in attendance. Barber and hundreds of others have been arrested for peaceful protests in Raleigh and vilified by the far right. The Moral Monday movement has been reported on by national outlets and versions of the movement are beginning to spread around the country. A short clip of his speech can be found here. I hope to add the full video when it becomes available.

Yesterday’s rally focused on voter registration and bringing public awareness to the continuing struggle for equality, environmental protection, quality education and support for teachers, immigration reform, and healthcare for all. There were several speakers directly affected by recent legislation: a doctor from a rural community, a single mother, an undocumented immigrant, a teacher, a gay minister who wants to marry her partner…

Those who attended the rally carried signs that addressed issues important to them.

Medical Cannabis Advocates

Medical Cannabis Advocates

Frack Off Gasholes!

Frack Off Gasholes!

 

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Veterans for Peace

Veterans for Peace

Since Republicans won a super-majority in the General Assembly in 2012, NC legislators have succeeded in pushing forward the far-right’s agenda, such as Amendment One-a Constitutional amendment which bars recognition of same-sex marriages. The earned income credit is expiring this year, as are several deductions and exemptions that will result in a higher tax burden for the working poor and the middle class.

In 2016, the new voter ID law will require voters to show a photo ID to vote. Early voting days have already been cut, and several polling locations have been closed, leading to longer lines and more difficulty casting a vote, especially for minorities.

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Legislators have also voted to fast-track fracking and criminalize the disclosure of the chemicals used in the process. This law, the so-called “Energy Modernization Act,” was passed without public notice or time for public comment-a tactic which has become par for the course in NC. 2378

Restrictions on reproductive rights, unemployment and Medicaid cuts, immigration issues, and tax cuts for the rich  may also be added to the laundry list of grievances about which NC voters have become increasingly concerned. North Carolina has become a test lab for all of the regressive policies that tea-party driven politics have wrought.

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For decades, the far right has claimed to be the moral voice of “real” Americans. Their so-called Christian values are the source of their morality and the reason for the positions they take on everything from gay marriage and women’s rights, to their draconian stance on the refugee crisis at our border. But some Republicans are finding the courage to speak out against what they believe are immoral acts by the government. Reverend Barber recently joined forces in Washington, DC with Adam O’Neal, the Republican mayor of Belhaven, NC, who had just walked 300 miles to the capitol to bring awareness to the health care crisis that that has occurred as a direct result of not accepting federal funds for expanded Medicaid. “For me and the mayor, it’s not about partisan politics,” Rev. Barber said. “It’s about what’s right.”

Dissembling

Wearily I rise as birds begin their morning song,

Thankful for the peace that seems to only come at dawn.

The weight of slumber is not so heavy

As the daily mask I wear.

My smile fixed like a rictus, but I edit it with care.

I tuck away my sorrow like strands of fallen hair.

My eyes, deep pools, never shed their tears.

The salty pearls are swallowed,

How bitter are those spheres!

Carefully arranged, it’s time to face the day.

So practiced, so artful, so perfectly assembled…

I rarely have to fill the cracks that form along the way.

Heartbreak at START

Amaya:

Please visit Valentine’s blog and read this beautiful and so very powerful post. Her courage and compassion will move you to tears.

Originally posted on QBG_Tilted Tiara:

my.opera Last Thursday was Victim Impact with young people in the START (Short Term Residential Treatment) program. This where juveniles land when all else fails, when probation conditions have been broken and less intensive interventions are not working. START is the last stop before full on detention in one of Texas’ lock-down facilities is ordered. The program is 90 days, includes peer-to-peer counseling, one-on-one counseling, group counseling, educational resources, parent inclusion and of course Victim Impact.

I have been doing Victim Impact for years now; you would think it would get easier to tell the story, it doesn’t. You would think it wouldn’t hurt so much; you would be wrong. Some days it is worse than others, there are days when my calendar pops up to remind, ready myself to make the drive to whatever facility I am speaking and my heart clenches, my eyes tear up and I think to…

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Politics, North Carolina Style. Coal Ash Pollutes NC Waters as Regulatory Body Endures Job and Funding Cuts: Duke Energy Promises to Pass Clean-up Costs on To Customers!

On January 27, 3.5 million gallons of raw sewage poured into the Haw River from a cracked main at a Burlington, NC wastewater treatment facility.  Residents were not notified of the breach until January 30, despite state law requiring public notification within 48 hours of any spill over 1,000 gallons. Tom Reeder, director of the Division of Water Resources, stated that the spill constituted only 1 percent of the water flowing through the Haw River at the time; therefore it had no major impact on the environment. Perhaps those who live on or near the river would beg to differ. Why the terrible breach? Most of NC’s water pipes are made of wood or corroding metal. “We have incredibly old infrastructure in North Carolina,” says Reeder. “The thing is it costs billions and billions and billions of dollars to replace all of this aging infrastructure.” And we know that no one wants to spend money on protecting the environment these days, especially in GOP-dominated North Carolina…

In February, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Raleigh opened a criminal investigation into a coal ash spill that resulted in 27 MILLION gallons of toxic sludge being dumped into the Dan River from a now defunct Duke Energy power plant. The public was not notified of the spill until the next day. It took six days to seal the ruptured pipe. It was a full ten days until state officials warned residents not to swim in the river or eat fish from it.

The spill was blamed on a corroded storm water drain that runs beneath the 27 acre (!) coal ash pond. Who puts a storm water drain under a toxic, unlined coal ash pond? Everyone, apparently!  There are no federal regulations regulating coal ash ponds, notes Tom Reeder. More than a dozen of the 31 Duke Energy coal ash ponds in North Carolina have been deemed unsafe and liable to fail at any time. That means that a tasty cocktail of benzene, mercury, lead, and arsenic could be leaching into groundwater from a coal ash pond near you.

Duke Energy Chief Executive Lynn Good said that customers would pay the cost if the state requires the company to empty its 31 coal ash ponds in NC. Duke Energy CFO Steve Young recently informed his investors of compliance costs on a Februrary 18 conference call:

“We currently estimate we will spend between $4.5 billion and $5.5 billion over the next 10 years, with $900 million expected to be spent in the 2014 to 2016 time frame…Approximately 85 percent of our expected environmental compliance investments will be in the Carolinas and Indiana. Both of these jurisdictions have a strong track record of allowing utilities to recover costs related to environmental compliance investments.”

In other words, the company fully expects that NC legislators will allow Duke Energy to charge its customers for the cleanup. Where on earth would they get that idea? From recent history, that’s where!

As a shareholder, Governor McCrory has profited directly from the company, whose profits for the past fiscal year were $2.7 billion. Shareholders enjoyed a 25% increase in earnings after the company’s controversial merger with Progress Energy, which created the nation’s largest utility company. Did you say monopoly? What monopoly? So, in a nutshell, profits are passed on to shareholders while costs are shifted to the ratepayer. Ah, business…the crony capitalist way!

Before the latest spill, NC environmentalist groups had tried three times in the last year to sue Duke Energy and force the corporation to clean up its toxic coal ash dumps. Each time, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) blocked the lawsuits to assert its own authority over regulatory enforcement. The environmental groups were shut out of negotiations that resulted in a proposed settlement considered by many to be highly favorable to the company.

Environmentalists criticized the DENR for its seemingly cozy relationship with Duke Energy, noting the $99,111 proposed settlement fine for pollution from two previous coal ash pond leaks in Charlotte and Asheville constituted nothing but a slap on the wrist for the $50 billion company. The settlement would have required Duke to study how to stop contamination, but would not require the company to clean up the sites. Lawyers from the DENR have now asked judges to disregard their own proposed settlement after public scrutiny has caused backlash and criticism, in addition to the pesky federal probe. The investigation is focusing closely on the relationship between the regulators and the Duke Energy.

The Southern Environment Law Center obtained 400 pages of emails from the DENR as part of legal efforts to force shutdown and clean up of the state’s coal ash ponds. The emails show that DENR officials have known about the problem and have been studying it since at least 2008, after a similar spill in Tennessee. The DENR found that Progress Energy and Duke had not obtained required stormwater permits for several of the coal ash ponds. Attempts to request that the companies obtain proper permits were rebuffed. “Why we would do this when we are looking for a kinder gentler regulatory framework according to the Governor?” asked Duke environmental and legislative director George Everett in a 2011 email. Is seems that he was right to stall. All Duke Energy needed was a Republican-led legislature.

After budget cuts and a shift in focus, the DENR all but dropped its pursuit of permit enforcement. “The legislature has not created a culture where DENR feels like it can act aggressively, and that has gotten worse since the GOP took over the legislature,” said Democratic Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro.

Governor McCrory has chided reporter’s questions about his relationship with Duke Energy as “disrespectful.” It is certain that he and other GOP lawmakers are scrambling to save face after the launch of the federal investigation. He defends his record, stating that “Our DENR under our administration has taken the most aggressive action in North Carolina history.” REALLY?

The relationship between lawmakers and Duke Energy warmed considerably after Governor McCrory took office. At least $1.1 million was contributed to the McCrory campaign by Duke’s PAC, executives, and their immediate families. Duke Energy shareholder and former employee McCrory appointed businessman and climate change skeptic John Skvarla, who has stated the dubious claim that coal is an infinite resource, to head the DENR. After his appointment, he stated that the environment was not his only concern. He characterizes those companies that he regulates as “customers” and the DENR as a “partner” to those entities. His duties, as he saw them:

“Protect the environment and help the economy because DENR has such a bad name. DENR is the number one obstacle to economic growth in the state of North Carolina for a long time.”

Skvarla, who had no experience in environmental regulation before his appointment, told the John Locke Society that if environmentalists had their way, “we’d live in lean-tos and wear loincloths.”

Michael Burkhard, a former senior specialist tasked with investigations into contamination, says that the environment within the agency took a turn after McCrory appointed Skvarla. He stated that his powers to regulate enforcement were weakened and that proposed penalties had to be submitted to Raleigh for ultimate approval before being levied on violators. “The message was that we shouldn’t hold anyone accountable or responsible…They told us that industry and business do a better job of regulating themselves than we do,” Berkhard told Salon. Other employees have stated that their jobs were threatened if they didn’t get with the program.

Legislators have been steadily chipping away at DENR jobs and funding since the 2008 recession. Under Skvarla, the DENR returned almost $600,000 to the EPA that was supposed to have been used to test waters that are potentially affected by fracking and for wetlands research, because the unit that would have handled the tests was eliminated. Legislators also cut the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, which was established to protect watersheds, from a $100 million fund to $11.5 million.

The DENR lost 30 positions in between 2009-2010, and since 2011 has lost 225 positions. The water resources unit has been the hardest hit within the DENR, constituting half of all job cuts since McCrory took office. 67 of those job cuts were since March 1, well after the devastating coal ash spill. The reduction in force was part of Skvarla’s broad restructuring of the agency that began last summer. Now seven regional offices must stretch dwindled resources to continue fulfilling its duties. Here in Asheville, a crew of 12 persons is tasked with monitoring 19 surrounding counties.

Rep. Mitch Gillespie, a seven-term Republican from Marion, NC, made it his mission to gut environmental laws after the GOP took over the General Assembly, in an effort to clear the way for hydraulic fracturing and other oil and gas friendly pursuits. One of those bills resulted in the famous law against sea level change, or rather, the way we measure it. Has he targeted DENR? Absolutely, he says:

“Now, are we targeting DENR? Well, I am. I’m actually targeting regulatory reform. It just so happens that DENR is the issue that I’ve been involved with all my life, as far as regulations go.”

Gillespie, who has received contributions from Duke, Progress Energy and natural gas company PSNC, says that DENR regulations have cost him tens of thousands over his years in the industry.

The Republican-led legislature has been very active in gutting environmental regulations, making deregulation and defunding a top priority. The Raleigh News and Observer reports on the disturbing trend:

“Three major bills that either streamlined or decimated – depending on your point of view – environmental regulations have been enacted since 2011. One such bill prohibits state regulations that are more stringent than federal regulations, and takes decision-making authority on disputes over regulations out of state agencies’ hands.

A 59-page bill enacted from last year’s session restricts local environmental ordinances, weakens groundwater protections around landfills such as coal ash ponds, and requires state agencies to review all their rules every 10 years and trim those that can’t be justified. The bill required DENR be the first agency to undertake the time-consuming process, beginning with some 500 water quality and wetlands rules, with its diminished staff.

Another bill enacted into law last session removed Democratic-appointed incumbents from state commissions, including the Environmental Management Commission and the Coastal Resources Commission, and replace them with Republican appointees, eliminating the expertise and continuity of the former members.”

A federal subpoena of the governor’s office, the DENR, and Duke Energy requires documents, emails, sampling results, and records regarding the Dan River Steam Station to be handed over for a Grand Jury to review beginning March 18.

***Fellow blogger and friend BTG has also written about the questionable relationship between regulators and Duke Energy on his blog, Musings of an Old Fart. Please visit and tell him I sent you!***

Must Read: Mike Lofgren on the Deep State

Former Republican congressional staffer Mike Lofgren has penned a disturbing essay on the Deep State, the invisible power structure within our government that goes beyong mere party politics and elected officials. Lofgren left Washington and the Republican party in disgust due to his experience of the Deep State, which he describes in this way:

Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an exposé of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an “establishment.” All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State’s protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude.

This makes intuitive sense without much understanding of the complexity of the system itself, and upon closer examination, becomes more and more apparent. It seems the natural progression of a government such as ours, which thrives on the military industrial complex and public apathy and ignorance. As more and more money pours into the electoral coffers of our leaders, the hybrid power structure of corporate and national security interests becomes more pervasive. The Deep State has become so entrenched that it has become self-sustaining, no matter who is in office. It matters not who our elected officials happen to be, because they have bought into the very system that usurps any real power they might have to change it. Lofgren quotes Upton Sinclair to elucidate this point:

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Deregulation, privatization of historically governmental functions, the economic crisis, and the erosion of our civil liberties after 9/11 has intensified even further the power of the Deep State. Our elected leaders often either do not know that they are puppets, or willingly participate in the ruse of democracy, since when they leave office, they are very often assured of lucrative careers within the very entities that have dictated their public policies. Lofgren, from an interview with Bill Moyers:

Wall Street is, perhaps, the ultimate backstop to the whole operation.  Because they generate so much money that they can provide second careers for a lot of the government operatives.  They’re going to make more money than they ever dreamed they would on Wall Street. And I think a good example of that is the most celebrated soldier of the last decade David Petraeus.  What did he do when he retired?  He went to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, a Wall Street buyout firm with $90 billion in assets under management.

Lofgren states that this results in an ideology neither Republican nor Democrat in nature. On the surface, there are some differences on social issues-what I call wedge issues: gay marriage, abortion, etc. Not least of these are issues which to many define the meaning of AMERICAN. It is my AMERICAN, God-given right to bear arms, refuse service to gays, or beat my child! Yet, too often we do not question why AMERICA is spying on its own citizens, arresting them for speaking their minds, and letting corporate welfare moochers deplete the public wealth while despising the poor for weakness. No matter what party affiliation, there seems to be some concepts that are universally accepted as gospel, which Lofgren characterizes as the “Washington Consensus”:

…financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor. Internationally, they espouse 21st-century “American Exceptionalism”: the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world with coercive diplomacy and boots on the ground and to ignore painfully won international norms of civilized behavior.

The “mainstream media” tends to support these inviolate principles without question, as it continues to focus on the fractiousness that seems to consume all of public attention and political discourse. American Exceptionalism is the true religion of this nation. To suggest that our nation is not divinely protected and beloved is heresy. It is repeated over again that no matter what mistakes our country has made, it is always with altruistic and benevolent intent. We have always held this truth to be self-evident, and so the Deep State has come into existence due to our own arrogance.

The frightening effects of this state of affairs is becoming apparent. Public infrastructures have long been neglected. A relatively mild snowstorm results in massive power outages, gridlock, and panic. Bridges are literally collapsing. We incarcerate more persons per capita than any other nation, often due to the failed war on drugs, which is nothing but an extension of the devastating effects of poverty. Record numbers of people are on food stamps as corporations enjoy record profits. SOMETHING IS WRONG HERE! Lofgren’s Deep State theory pierces to the heart of the problem:

The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.” “Living upon its principal,” in this case, means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion.

The American people can not continue to feed this unsustainable vampire. Eventually, the system will be depleted of sustenance, but it could very well be too late the stop the cycle, for most of us are as yet still blind to its existence. History shows that once a society that has consumed itself in such a manner, it is often much too late to stop the terrible spiral even after it has become self-aware. And history shows that leaders, in the face of defeat, tend to double down on already failing policies, arrogantly refusing to admit a change must be made.

Lofgren offers a few disturbing glimpses of our future if the Deep State continues to dictate the course of our country. The first step to dismantling this destructive entity is to become aware of it, perhaps through an enlightened leader:

What America lacks is a figure with the serene self-confidence to tell us that the twin idols of national security and corporate power are outworn dogmas that have nothing more to offer us. Thus disenthralled, the people themselves will unravel the Deep State with surprising speed.

I had hoped that Obama would be this true agent of “change,” but he has proven to be yet another extension of the Deep State. I encourage you to read the essay and watch the accompanying interview with Bill Moyers. I welcome your thoughts and opinions.