Category Archives: Politics

The Black Panthers and the Second Amendment

“Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.”Mahatma Gandhi (1869 – 1948)

Not quite my farm life in rural Wisconsin

Not quite my farm life in rural Wisconsin

As a writer, I find myself delving into all sorts of things I never imagined I would as a young girl growing up in rural Wisconsin. There were about 12,251 people in my hometown and not a single one of them was black. Not one. I don’t remember any brown people, either. While there were a few Asians (doctors and their families), the people of color were primarily Native American. And they were generally discussed derisively. Growing up gay in the upper Midwest was (and still is) challenging. It made me sensitive to what it means to be the other, the outsider.

The Civil Rights Movement, The AIDs Movement and the Women’s Movement were a big deal to me. I sang the Desiderata and Abraham, Martin and John at the top of my lungs. I marched. I chanted. I volunteered. I burned for the Apartheid Movement. As a child, I believed we were making the world a better place for everyone. So, it will probably be no surprise that the events in Ferguson and plethora of postings about the current state of the Civil Rights Blackslide has me distressed.

I’ve spent the last three years researching the Symbionese Liberation Army and the women at the heart of that tragic movement. During that research, I discovered that the Gun Rights Movement and Second Amendment Insanity is firmly rooted in the Black Panther Movement of the 1960’s. The Black Panthers on the Capitol StepsOn May 2, 1967, Black Panther leader Bobby Seale led 24 men and six (6) women carrying .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45 caliber pistols to the state capitol in Sacramento. Citing an obscure state statute which made it legal to carry loaded weapons if the were not concealed, Seale said, “The time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.” Decades of abuse at the hands of unchecked police brutality, the Panthers decided to take up arms.

The Pathers’ efforts provoked an immediate backlash. Republicans in California eagerly supported increased gun control. Big-Man-Elbert-Howard-Black-Panther-Party-founding-member-oakland-1968 Governor Reagan told reporters that afternoon that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” He called guns a “ridiculous way to solve problems that have to be solved among people of good will.” California passed the Mulford Act prohibiting carrying loaded weapons but the spark had be ignited.

Founded on November 17, 1871, The National Rifle Association was primarily an organization for sportsmen and hunters until the Black Panther actions of the 60’s and early 70’s. In 1977, Wayne LaPierre joined the NRA and, over the next two decades, lobbied and catalyzed it into the overwhelmingly powerful organization that it is today.

Poet’s Surprises Announced


Public Service – Las Vegas Sun
Breaking News Reporting – The New York Times Staff
Investigative Reporting – David Barstow of The New York Times
Explanatory Reporting – Bettina Boxall and Julie Cart of the Los Angeles Times
Local Reporting – Detroit Free Press Staff and Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin of the East Valley Tribune, Mesa, AZ
National Reporting – St. Petersburg Times Staff
International Reporting – The New York Times Staff
Feature Writing – Lane DeGregory of the St. Petersburg Times
Commentary – Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post
Criticism – Holland Cotter of The New York Times
Editorial Writing – Mark Mahoney of The Post-Star, Glens Falls, NY
Editorial Cartooning – Steve Breen of The San Diego Union-Tribune
Breaking News Photography – Patrick Farrell of The Miami Herald
Feature Photography – Damon Winter of The New York Times


FictionOlive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)
DramaRuined by Lynn Nottage
HistoryThe Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (W.W. Norton & Company)
BiographyAmerican Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Random House)
PoetryThe Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)
General NonfictionSlavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (Doubleday)
MusicDouble Sextet by Steve Reich, premiered March 26, 2008 in Richmond, VA (Boosey & Hawkes)

A shout out to Ryan Gabrielson for winning a Pulitzer Prize … he was the reporter who covered the Maricopa Community College District during the whole scandal and retribution period. He was a great reporter. Congrats to him for all of his hard work!



Click the desired video format to watch the Q & A.
MPEG4 format     Flash Video Format     Windows Media

While we were at Sundance, Barack Obama was inaugurated as the 44th president of the United States. Everything stopped at Sundance on that Tuesday morning. We all watched the proceedings and then returned to our panels, screenings and meetings. Amazingly, the night before, we attended a screening of PROM NIGHT IN MISSISSIPPI about a town that just finally had an integrated prom in the spring of 2008. That’s right, 2008.

From the Sundance film guide, ” In 1997, Academy Award–winning actor Morgan Freeman offered to pay for the senior prom at Charleston High School in Mississippi under one condition: the prom had to be racially integrated. His offer was ignored. In 2008, Freeman offered again. This time the school board accepted, and history was made. Charleston High School had its first-ever integrated prom—in 2008! Until then, blacks and whites had had separate proms even though their classrooms have been integrated for decades. Canadian filmmaker Paul Saltzman follows students, teachers, and parents in the lead-up to the big day. Freeman addresses the student body. Girls shop for dresses and get their hair done. Boys rent tuxedoes and buy corsages. These seemingly inconsequential rites of passage suddenly become profound as the weight of history falls on teenage shoulders. mikecyndi.jpgWe quickly learn that change does not come easily in this sleepy Delta town. Freeman’s generosity fans the flames of racism—and racism in Charleston has a distinctly generational tinge. Some white parents forbid their children to attend the integrated prom and hold a separate white-only dance. ""Billy Joe,"" an enlightened white senior, appears on camera in shadow, fearing his racist parents will disown him if they know his true feelings. Prom Night In Mississippi captures a big moment in a small town, where hope finally blossoms in black, white, and a whole lot of taffeta.”

As I said in the posting about ADAM, I keep promising myself that I’ll break the videos that Michael Montesa shot into shorter, 10-minute chunks for posting on YouTube but, thus far, time doesn’t seem to be appearing. So, I’m doing the lazy human version, linking to his site so you can enjoy the video in this lifetime! Thanks to Michael for his prompt posting and diligent recording!! Go check out his wonderful photos and videos at!

Courtesy of Michael Montesa. ©2008, All Rights Reserved.

Boycotting Sundance?!?

FROM Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE: PARK CITY ’09 | In the Wake of Prop 8, Film Community & Fest Organizers Defend Sundance Amidst Talk of Boycott | With about a week to go before programmers internally lock the lineup for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, organizers are carefully navigating calls for a boycott of the annual event. Talk of a boycott emerged via blogs last week, including Huffington Post and AmericaBlog, in the wake of anger and frustration over the passage of California ballot Proposition 8 halting same sex marriages in the state. Members of the indie film community immediately came to the festival’s defense today, including filmmmaker Allison Anders (“Mi Vida Loca,” “Gas, Food Lodging”), who said, “To boycott the festival which has been the home for all diverse voices to be presented on the screen is dangerously backward thinking.” Figures I would have tickets and be planning to go on the year that the boycott is called because of failed legislation on same sex marriages. It’s ironic and laughable.

What makes it even funnier? The reason they’re calling for the boycott is because Sundance is held in Mormonland (Utah). As you undoubtedly know, Salt Lake City is the world headquarters for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which counts about 62 percent of Utah residents as members. The church encouraged its members to work to pass California’s Proposition Eight by volunteering their time and money for the campaign. Thousands of Mormons worked as grassroots volunteers and gave tens of millions of dollars to the campaign. And, here in little Utah, the Church advocated that Mormons work to pass Proposition 102 (the “marriage is only one man and one woman” proposition). Since it’s already in the Arizona constitution, it was unnecessary overkill (in my opinion).

But, at the end of the day, here’s the conundrum. What is the film I’m screening in a little more than two weeks? A film about Mormons. Talk about a tiger chasing its own tail, a snake consuming itself, a personal Catch-22.

Clinton Scores WV, Obama Snags Edwards

Hillary Clinton scored a resounding win over Barack Obama in West Virginia, beating him by about 40 percentage points. Working class WV weighed in on their candidate of choice and it went to the underdog, the woman, Hillary. Instead of boosting her campaign, it seems that it sounded the death knell. John Edwards came forward and threw his support to Obama. All of the photos look like running mates. Edwards brings that work-class credibility to the Obama ticket. Obama’s got the vision thing. I don’t know. Hillary just seems to be getting more isolated.

A few weeks ago, I read an interesting essay about the first woman president versus the first black president. “Well, I’m overcoming oppression that we’ve endured since before the Civil War,” says Barack. Cue the marching band. “That’s nothing,” says Hillary, “I’m overcoming oppression that we’ve endured since God created humanity.” The great oppression debate.



McSame Ad

Okay, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool liberal from Arizona (now there’s an oxymoron if I ever heard one) who is supposed to be thrilled that our state senator, John McCain is the presumptive Republican nominee. Although McCain is certainly more liberal than most any other Republican candidate, his support for Bush and the war is just more than I can get behind. So, I find the McSame Ad pretty amusing. Cleverly done. Points for creativity.

SNL Hillary

hc_snl.jpgI’m thrilled the writer’s strike ended because SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE came back on the air and I LOVE what they do with political satire. There was a sketch last week in which they parodied the media fawning all over Barack Obama and it was priceless. SNL just has a knack for skewering the sacred political cows. This week, Hillary Clinton, opened the show. It’s always funny to watch people in their nascent efforts at sketch comedy. There are always those odd timing issues that creep into the space.

I’m sitting here watching the Primary Returns for Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont. I have to say I’m just delighted to see that Hillary Clinton took three out of four. After Obama supposedly had all this momentum and mojo, after he outspent her on advertising by more than two-to-one, Clinton stomped him in Ohio and even squeaked past him in Texas. After watching all of those enormous rallies, I was quite certain that Texas was lost. Given my new found love for Rhode Island (thank you Anne and Mary), I was delighted that Clinton took Rhode Island, too. She’s a scrapper, that’s for sure. Given the choice between a virtual junkyard dog and a cuddly, stuffed-shirt, covert bunny for president, I’ll have to say I’m preferring the Comeback Kid.

My biggest disappointment, I generally love listening to Keith Olberman and Rachel Maddow but for the last three weeks, they’re just all-Obama, all of the time. I totally agree with Clinton that, had she (rather than Obama) made the premature NAFTA re-negotiation with Canada, the press would have crucified her. Sadly, Olberman and Maddow keep deriding Clinton and telling her to throw in the towel and get behind Obama for the betterment of the Democratic Party. What about what’s best for the country? What if she is the better choice? She certainly believes that she is better suited to serve as President. But the MSNBC media gang (you can throw Chris Matthews into the mix, too) has been quite condescending and disparaging for the last few weeks. I guess I’d like it, if I were an Obama aficionado. Since I’m not, it’s just disappointing because I used to like listening to those guys. I just don’t watch them like I used to …

I’ve taken up other pursuits … like chanting … C’mon Hillary. You go, girl! You can do it!

David Shuster in the Doghouse

So I want to begin this post by saying that I really like MSNBC reporter David Shuster. I find him to be literate, educated and thorough. So, I was shocked, absolutely shocked to hear David Shuster was in the doghouse over a comment he made about Chelsea Clinton. shuster.jpgEspecially since I’d seen the episode in which he made the offending comment and was not offended at all. I guess I’m slipping. I just didn’t find it all that upsetting. Shuster appeared on the TUCKER CARLSON show (which I never watch because I find him totally offensive) but knowing Shuster was on, I thought there might be something interesting in the political arena. After a news story about how Chelsea Clinton (who has never participated in the campaigning for either of her parents in the past) was now campaigning for her mother, Shuster made an off-hand remark about the possibility of Chelsea being “pimped out” to call the Super Delegates. I laughed when I heard it. Maybe it’s because I taught in a college environment and heard the term “pimped out” bandied about with great frequency. Maybe it’s because I follow what is being produced on cable networks (anyone ever heard of PIMP YOUR RIDE?).

To be honest, I find myself far more upset by the misogynistic commentary routinely made by Chris Matthews on HARDBALL. Even political pundit Rachel Maddow (whom I also adored) has spoken out against Matthews’ woman-hating commentary. And, as many of you know, I do enjoy watching Keith Olberman but, lately, it seems that all of his reporting has been, “Obama good, Hillary bad.” Since I’m pro-Hillary, I find that far more irritating. So, to have David Shuster getting suspended and being publicly flogged for humorously stating the obvious, it’s quite surprising. But, I’m thinking, if the Clinton Camp is getting sick of all of the lopsided coverage by the media, this might put everyone on notice that they need to shift out of that misogynistic mode. It also paints Hillary as the underdog and that may drive voters to the polls in the upcoming primaries. I assume there are people much smarter than me running these campaigns so I’m certain they’re thinking of all of these sorts of things too. Perhaps, David Shuster is just the sacrificial lamb. He’s such a terrific reporter and analyst, I sure hope this resolves soon.


politicalMap.jpgThe votes are being counted and Obama is having a good evening. He’s taking many of the states in the nation’s mid-section, some by substantial margin. In terms of both popular vote and delegates, it’s a squeaker, right now. The current delegate estimate is 837 for Clinton, 841 for Obama. Thus far, Obama has won 13 states. With the Kennedy Blessing, the Oprah Endorsement and an inspiring speaking style, Obama sure seems to have the mojo.

And, in the Republican race, McCain is the fellow with the mojo. All of the major victories were his — California, New York, Missouri. Romney had a pretty dismal showing and may be folding up shop. Rush Limbaugh’s rant against McCain may be having some impact (for those who don’t follow the foul-mouthed fellow, he has said he’d rather have Hillary Clinton than John McCain). Huckabee did a lot better than anyone thought he would and, tonight, they announced he is meeting with some super right-wing fat cats who want to throw money at his campaign.

The most important thing about all of this political upheaval is that it shows how concerned the American public is with the state of the nation. When the races started, the war in Iraq was a big concern but, over the last few weeks, the economy has moved to the forefront. Today, the stock market fell 370 points and the service sector lost jobs. Several economists now say that we are in a recession. So, the choice of our next national leader seems to be of great concern to every age group. And this concern is making the candidates bring their “A” game to the political arena.

Super Fat Tuesday

It’s the eve of Super Tuesday and the Democratic contest is tight. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are in a statistical dead heat. It’s an exciting time for politics in America. Either a woman or an African American will be the Democratic candidate for President. I can’t imagine the Republicans will hang on to the White House. Given the terrible state of the economy, the Iraq War and Bush’s gross deficit budget proposal, I just can’t imagine it. But, of course, I didn’t think Bush would win a second term, so there’s no accounting for the blind faith of humans, especially in politics.

Obama really has the momentum right now. I wonder if it will keep growing or stall as time goes on. Only time will reveal what will ultimately happen. I can hardly wait to see how this all shakes out. Even Arizona is in play. So, get out there and vote!

Tomorrow is also Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, which is celebrated with such flair in New Orleans.


Obama Present But Not Accounted For

For example, in 1997, Obama voted “present” on two bills (HB 382 and SB 230) that would have prohibited a procedure often referred to as partial birth abortion. He also voted “present” on SB 71, which lowered the first offense of carrying a concealed weapon from a felony to a misdemeanor and raised the penalty of subsequent offenses.

In 1999, Obama voted “present” on SB 759, a bill that required mandatory adult prosecution for firing a gun on or near school grounds. The bill passed the state Senate 52-1. Also in 1999, Obama voted “present” on HB 854 that protected the privacy of sex-abuse victims by allowing petitions to have the trial records sealed. He was the only member to not support the bill.

In 2001, Obama voted “present” on two parental notification abortion bills (HB 1900 and SB 562), and he voted “present” on a series of bills (SB 1093, 1094, 1095) that sought to protect a child if it survived a failed abortion. In his book, the Audacity of Hope, on page 132, Obama explained his problems with the “born alive” bills, specifically arguing that they would overturn Roe v. Wade. But he failed to mention that he only felt strongly enough to vote “present” on the bills instead of “no.”

And finally in 2001, Obama voted “present” on SB 609, a bill prohibiting strip clubs and other adult establishments from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, and daycares.

If Obama had taken a position for or against these bills, he would have pleased some constituents and alienated others. Instead, the Illinois legislator-turned-U.S. senator and, now, Democratic presidential hopeful essentially took a pass.

Cry for Change Rings Out in Iowa

The results of the Iowa Caucuses are pretty much reported now and the cry for change is ringing out. They had record turnout in Iowa; over 230,000 people came out to participate.

The Democratic winner was Barack Obama, capturing the youth vote, the independent vote and the female vote. I find myself wondering how much of a difference Oprah made in campaigning for him. She had to have been phenomenally valuable in terms of boosting awareness and credibility for his candidacy. John Edwards edged Hilary Clinton out by a percentage point or so. Not surprisingly, I like Hilary but many folks around me don’t like her at all and will be pleased Obama knocked her back on her heels. A wonderful public servant for decades and wise fellow, Joe Biden garnered only 1% of the vote and ended his bid for the presidency.

On the Republican side, Mike Huckabee did remarkably well. He thundered ahead of the pack, stomping Romney by about nine (9) percentage points. McCain gathered a respectable 13% and is expected to do well in New Hampshire. Rudy Guiliani earned a dismal 3%.

New Hampshire’s primary is January 8. Nevada will caucus on January 19. South Carolina will hold its primary on January 26. Florida’s primary is on January 29. All of this leading, of course, to Super Tuesday on February 5.

I find myself wishing Rick Houck were still alive and he could make the prediction as to who the winner will be. He was exceptionally good at that sort of thing. He could tell who would win elections based on how “activated” a candidate’s astrological chart on election day. If the Secondary and Tertiary Progressed charts, Planetary Stations and Natal chart showed activation on the angles (within one degree), one could safely predict victory. He did need the exact birth information, however. I had decided it would be fun to see what it said about the key political players but I discovered that the birth time for Obama is unknown. So, predictions are difficult to time.

I did find a site with the following observations … made in the Fall of 2006 …

obamaRising.jpgBarack Obama, Rising Star in 2008 — Barack Obama’s horoscope (August 4, 1961; Honolulu; time unknown) synchronizes neatly with the U.S. national horoscope. Among the many close contacts is his Neptune at 8º36′ Scorpio, which is exactly, to-the-minute, conjunct the U.S. Scorpio Ascendant. This link describes the vision that he espouses for Americans of all ethnic backgrounds, as he expresses in his recently published book The Audacity of Hope.

Another connection is his natal Uranus, which opposes the U.S. Moon, located at 25º28′ Aquarius. Here is where the excitement, the charisma, and the sudden skyrocketing to fame can be seen. Candidates must have extremely tight connections to the U.S. Moon to ensure their popular approval and to get elected. Obama’s progressed Venus, the planet directly associated with popularity, is near his natal Uranus, a dynamic combination that has electrified his national following. In early 2008, at the height of the Democratic primaries, Obama’s progressed chart looks extremely favorable (progressed Jupiter conjunct the U.S. Pluto, as his progressed Sun trines the U.S. Pluto) for advancing his ambitions.

America’s First Gay President

I am not certain how I missed this in my upbringing in Wisconsin but somehow I failed to learn that the U.S. has already had a gay president. A friend in Colorado sent information on another script we’re working on and said something flip about a friend being related to the live-in partner of America’s First Gay President. What?!? 180px-James_Buchanan.jpgI was referred to dozens of sites and was shocked to discover that JAMES BUCHANAN, the president prior to Abraham Lincoln was likely our first gay president.

Later, Senator King (the man who lived with Buchanan for decades including while he was in the White House) was elected to the Vice Presidency with Franklin Pierce. That would make King the first gay Vice President.

According to , an art project on the U.S. Presidents by Alex Forman, “Buchanan was a gentle, diplomatic person, religiously fatalistic in his approach to life. He stood six feet tall and was a heavy man. Buchanan “sometimes acts like an old maid,” said James Polk. Buchanan enjoyed a 20-year intimate friendship with Senator William Rufus de Vane King. They shared quarters in Washington, DC for sixteen years. When King died in 1853, Buchanan wrote, “I am now ‘solitary and alone,’ having no companion in the house with me. I have gone a wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them.” He referred to King as “Aunt Nancy.” Buchanan was the only bachelor President. In 1866, Buchanan published the first Presidential memoir.”

And people still resist electing a woman (Hillary) or an African American (Obama). They’re only a century behind the curve.

On a personal note … Happy Birthday Joyce!

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