Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Mexico. Two weeks. Heaven. Not nearly enough. At least this time I won't have to fake an English accent when folks ask where I'm from. For the first time in eight years, I'll be able to say with pride Si! Soy norteamericana. El presidente Barack Obama? Muy bueno! Hallelujah.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

barack obama is a potty mouth

I don't know why this gave me such a fit of giggles. I haven't been able to quit laughing about it, in between the continuing bouts of tears when I think of what happened on November 4. But I love this . . . how utterly refreshing to actually hear that he was annoyed by the stupidity of our electoral process. Barack Obama, on the stupid fucking questions asked in the debates:

"When you're going into something thinking, 'This is not my best ...' I often find myself trapped by the questions and thinking to myself, 'You know, this is a stupid question, but let me ... answer it.' Instead of being appropriately [the tape is garbled]. So when Brian Williams is asking me about what's a personal thing that you've done [that's green], and I say, you know, 'Well, I planted a bunch of trees.' And he says, 'I'm talking about personal.' What I'm thinking in my head is, 'Well, the truth is, Brian, we can't solve global warming because I fucking changed light bulbs in my house. It's because of something collective'."

Much more on this unusual and brilliant man from Newsweek . . .

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008

it's gonna be okay. really. i can feel it.

Late to my email, I found this note from a friend:

Hey, I see you've had a blogging spurt. And I read your post about your election anxiety.

I saw Barack yesterday. And Bruce Springsteen too. I waited for hours on sore feet and did some more fancy footwork and utter guile to get a place just 30 feet away from the stage.

You can read about it here.

A memorable night for 80,000 in Cleveland

I'm hear to tell ya, it's gonna be OK tomorrow. Really. I can feel it.

Check the video I shot of Bruce singing "This Land is Your Land." And he sang the banned verse. And there I was looking at all these white, black and brown faces waving flags and having such a great time and the tears just fell like rain. I can't even think of it now without tearing up. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen or experienced. For one brief shining moment I believed again. I waved my flag and noted the irony. This country, despite all the bullshit we've had to swallow in the last eight years, is still fundamentally full of enough good people to bring it back.

I wish you could have been there Lynette. You would have been bawling along with me, I guarantee it.

I saw the best of America last night. I think we'll see the best of America tomorrow too.

You take care, Keith

Read Keith's post and you'll never doubt that things can change in this country. Amazing. I really, really have hope today.

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hate wins out

I could never say this half as well. I am grateful for Digby's ability to put into words what the victory of hate over love means in California:

How people can vote for the first African American president in American history, with all that implies, while simultaneously voting to discriminate against gays is testament to the incoherence of American politics and the lack of clear cut philosophy guiding people's choices. Everyone says there's too much ideology in our politics but I'd say there isn't enough. There isn't enough common sense either. Discrimination against others just because you don't like how they live their lives is against the very essence of the two pillars of America --- liberty and equality. To fail to see that even as you vote for an historic, important first African American is incoherent.

I keep hearing about how this will right itself in the long run, that it's just a matter of waiting until this new generation gets old enough and then gay rights will magically be "granted." I hope that's true. But to paraphrase a saying that's been overused lately -- in the long run all of today's gay partners and gay parents will be dead. These soothing tones of "patience" and "don't worry" don't mean much when you consider that you only have one life to live.

It's terrific that we are seeing a decline in racism to the extent that we are able to elect a black president. We've come a long way and there's no taking anything away from those who waged the struggle over all these centuries. But our society is not truly changed if it's still writing discrimination into law.

It's as if we just can't be America unless we are taking active steps to marginalize somebody.

Go read. My joy over the rejection of right wing ideology by the majority of people in this country is profoundly tempered by the sickening triumph of hate in California.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008


and one more thing . . .

NO on Proposition Eight. NO. No. It's not that hard, is it? Practice love, compassion, kindness, acceptance of others. Say NO to judgment, condemnation, otherness. If you live in California, I am keeping my fingers crossed and saying a prayer for love to win out. And for my friend, Bob, once more.

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did you ever?

Did you ever think this day would come? The end of this interminable campaign, of course, but even more astounding, did you ever think the day would come when this nation would allow a black man to get to this point?

I didn't. I can still hear the pundits and the talking heads pontificating about whether or not America "is ready." I remember feeling despair at the beginning, knowing how desperately we need a change of government, feeling frustrated and hopeless that the Democratic candidates were unelectable. Female, black, Mexican-American, new agey woo-woo kooky. It's a measure of the toll the Bush administration has taken on my psyche that I would look at what was a very fine ~ exceptional ~ slate of candidates and find them lacking because they didn't fit the mold.

On the other hand, I'd look at, and listen to, the candidates on the other side and my heart would sink even further. The sameness, the tired arguments, the overemphasis on national security, the very white, very middle aged, very pompous sameness.

As a social democrat, none of these people came close to my vision of effective government. Such is life in America. We take what we can get, and my support went first to John Edwards, then to Hillary Clinton, and finally, after the Rev. Wright thing and after his glorious speech on race, to Barack Obama. I am happy with my candidate. I am inspired by him and he makes me feel hopeful, comforted. I haven't had any Kool-aid in years. I am simply capable of hearing what he is saying.

And what he has said to me is that he also has hope and that he believes in this country and the people in it. I believe we can make things better here, I do. Barack Obama is brilliant and an effective motivator, a consensus-building candidate who inspires and brings people together. It's not "just words" when those words change hearts and minds and attitudes.

But more than anything, I remember how things were when I was little. I remember "colored" and white waiting rooms at the train station. I remember colored and white water fountains. Schools were separate and terribly unequal. In my little town, all ~ all ~ African Americans lived in Dixie Hill, the lowest lying area of that county, right next to the Arkansas River, which flooded every spring. I remember the absolutely casual and accepted expressions of racism. And I remember too well the hot rage that simmered after the Civil Rights Act and into the '70s.

It is amazing and affirming and awe inspiring to see this happen. I believe that Barack Obama is a rare candidate, a once-in-a-lifetime combination of intellect, temperament, and ability. But that doesn't change the fact that this election is historic and glorious. It won't fix things and it doesn't make up for our sordid past, but it feels magnificent and it makes me so very, very happy.

When I voted, I thought of my grandchildren and how even at 10 and 8, they have been aware of and involved in this election. They will come to adulthood in a world where a man like them ~ of mixed race ~ can take the highest office in the land with overwhelming support. I can't think of that without crying. I know it will happen. We will make history. Si, se puede.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008


Elizabeth Hasselbeck, the darling of the wingers, tips her elegant nose up just a hair and pronounces "we are who we associate with." Sarah Palin asserts that Barack Obama's association with '60s radical William Ayers somehow taints Obama in 2008. A real estate developer now in trouble with the law is evidence, by virtue of association, that Obama is not what he seems. Rashid Khalidi, a New York born professor and a Palestinian activist, is framed as a terrorist and contact with him is evidence of Obama's lack of fitness for the office he seeks.

Seriously? Are these people fucking serious? I am a 51 year old white woman living smack in the middle of the buckle that holds fast the Bible belt's grip on this country. I am smart, educated, fiscally sound. I own my own business, I have stepchildren and grandchildren. I am respectable, honest, reliable, decent. I help others at every opportunity. I care about my community and my neighbors. Despite my rage over the winger occupation of my country, I am patriotic as all hell and my anger ~ despite my expressions of frustration ~ will not find expression in violence or destruction of property.

In my 51 years, I have associated with child molesters and rapists. I have worked closely with ~ and loved ~ gangsters of all kinds. I have loved and buried two precious young men who were Crips and one who was a Blood. Most of my dearest friends are recovering alcoholics; some aren't recovering and I love them still. I hang out with drug addicts who don't use anymore, with ex-cons who've gone straight. I know people and have employed men who are now in jail on murder charges. My youth was spent in the company of ecoterrorists and activists of every stripe. I used to work for ACORN.

My family is thick with Republicans, God help me, but populated, too, with Democrats. Among my kin are radical farmers who drove their tractors to Washington to protest farm policy. Two of my relatives are the most despicable kind of neo-nazi anti-semitic haters. My cousin won American Leatherboy 2005 and another cousin was Miss Kansas. Every morning that I work, I hug the barber next door to my shop, a Korean war veteran and a raging right winger.

One of my dearest friends is a drag queen and he's gorgeous. I hang out with gays and lesbians and radical feminists and churchgoing folk. I have photos of my younger self taken with a group of young men who lived in my building, guys who cooked for me the most divine and exotic feasts every weekend. I didn't know at the time they were PLO; I don't know that it would have changed how I felt about them. They were ~ they are ~ dear to me after all these years.

One of my most precious friends is a poorly controlled schizophrenic. My beloved Pam still struggles to overcome the narcotics addiction that sent her to prison three times. My husband used to be a hippie. One friend from high school became a witch; another a prostitute. The guy I ate lunch with every day is a judge in Dallas. Another old friend is a CNN reporter.

Are we really the company we keep? Or is the company we keep evidence of our humanity, of our ability to look at what matters in other human beings? I wouldn't give up a single moment of my life or the people in it, good or bad. I know people who live lives tightly constrained by their views of other human beings and I know they're missing out. No question.

I am more frightened by leaders who surround themselves with people just like them than I am by the prospect of a leader who has vast, wide-ranging associations. A healthy interest in others, in other ways of living, in different beliefs and attitudes and behaviors is evidence to me of a sparkling and solid intellect and is something to emulate, not condemn.

It is evidence of a willingness to look beyond the superficial into the soul, the heart, for the thing that connects us all. I am connected, by my humanity, to the gangster, the rapist, to the schizophrenic, the drug addict, the church lady. I am connected to the terrorist, to the professor, the right winger and, of course, to the lefties who speak my language. The hardest thing for me is to let go of my anger over what has happened, to be open to what might happen in the future. In that, I have an example in our next president. Kindness, generosity of spirit, a spiritual view of other human beings. It's a happier way to live, and more hopeful. I'm trying. You?

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