Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Congressman Brian Baird's Successfully Civil Town Hall Meeting – Health Care Reform

Kudos to the Congressman and his staff for hosting a successfully civil discourse Town Hall meeting last night in Ilwaco, in Pacific County, WA. And of course, the primary range of questions had to do with Health Care/Insurance Reform. Death threats to the Congressman aside, he still managed to conduct his usual in-person Town Hall meetings in several Southwest Washington counties.

What was the process?

I can't speak to the in person Town Hall meetings he held in other counties except for what I've read in media (some of which has been reported at Washblog). I can speak to the TH we attended in Ilwaco last night. Also Baird has added telephone Town Hall meetings as well to his usual array of in-person TH meetings in the SW counties.

The Ilwaco TH meeting was orderly and permitted the many to hear both the questions and Baird's responses without interruption or interference. Which is precisely what I wanted - information and not the drama of interference that has been the hallmark of many other TH meetings across the nation.

We arrived at the high school, and yes, there was a tiny contingent of less than impressive 'protesters' with their home-made cardboard signs. They kept their behavior under control and did not molest the people as they were coming into the auditorium. We signed in, and we were asked if we wanted to ask a question of the Congressman; if so, we were given a number (kind of like at an auction).

We were seated and it was explained by the moderator that corresponding numbers were in a twirl cage (bingo comes to mind), and numbers would be picked at random. Those persons who held those numbers would come forward to be seated in the first row of seats. Each would then get 3 minutes of time at the microphone to state their concerns, ask their questions and the Congressman would have 3 minutes of time to respond.

Questions came from both parties. I think people are sophisticated enough to filter out what is rhetoric and focus in on the actual question, when there is a question and not just a 3 minute pulpit for speech making. The Congressman's opportunity to respond, or better said, give the facts as he knows them, provided a format that helped enormously to dispel some of the rhetorical myths, giving the auditorium of people an opportunity to listen to and hear the information.

In Congressman Baird's Town Halls that we have attended in the past, even when my own emotions have been highly charged, (ie, his vote in 2007 for the Surge in Iraq where our son-in-law was deployed), he has been respectful to all, including us, in responding to concerns and questions. Last night's Town Hall was no exception. He was respectful, courteous, and responsive to every question, even the few who formulated their questions in what seemed designed to bait him. He actually was skillful in handling those baiting type questions, both responding and further elaborating on concerns and situations that led to the current Health Care Reform issue.

It was a 2 hour TH meeting, so obviously, there was not time for everyone who might have wanted to ask a question to have a turn at the microphone. But with the quality of the kinds of questions asked, and Baird's informative responses, I think probably most of the concerns people had in their minds received air time in a very Civil dialogue.

Earlier in August, I was also on one of Baird's telephone TH meetings (Pacific County), and got to ask my question of him; specifically what concerns about the Health Care Reform Bill did he have as he has said he is unsure how he will vote when it comes up for vote in Congress. Frankly, I would like to see him vote for the Bill with all of it's warts and flaws rather than to vote against it. I sense that voting for the Bill starts the ball rolling, probably with a lot of tweaks needed in years to come. Whereas to vote against it because of it's imperfections does little to alter or change the current deeply flawed Health Care 'system'.

As Baird explained he has heard from doctors, it is not really a system so much as an evolution that has evolved into a complex hodge podge of health care that some get and some don't.

On a personal note, I do have to be a bit amused at one of the questions last night. The Chair of the Republican Party in our 3rd Congressional District was among one of those whose number was called, giving her time at the microphone. She has had time at earlier Town Hall meeting in another county to state her concerns to the Congressman and she did make an offer of her home as a venue for the Congressman to hold an in- person Town Hall, guaranteeing him an assurance of safety she would personally provide. He did thank her for and it did seem he accepted the offer; I'm not sure he intended to hold a Town Hall in her home, nor would that be logical. He did hold the in person Town Hall in Ilwaco, at the high school - a more appropriate venue and approximately 2 miles from her home. She has not been deprived of opportunity of access to the Congressman, nor of opportunity to state her concerns or questions.

She has had a beef with what she terms his rejection of her offer, labeling it as evidence of an unwillingness on the part of Congressman Baird to hold in-person Town Hall meetings. She has both blogged it and arranged for a newspaper article in The Columbian, of her account of his rejection of her offer. In my opinion, it goes to show the 'slant' of her perspective in presenting the situation as a rejection, as an unwillingness on Baird's part to conduct in person Town Hall meetings. And it is a perspective she is pleased to broadcast in the media and telegraph to her party. It was, in fact, Baird offering a more appropriate venue with a wider opportunity, for the larger populace in the area to participate in an in person Town Hall. Probably safer for everyone also, with the County Sheriff there, and the presence of uniformed officers stationed along the side corridors.

Her concern as she stated it in the question last night to Congressman Baird were some remarks he had made in earlier years; favoring universal health care and duration terms of office. Baird corrected the perception she had of his earlier remarks on terms of office. She spoke again indicating she was in favor of all people having access to health care, and when Baird asked if she was in favor of universal health care, she said no, she was not, and promptly sat down. There was a bit of a buzz talk after that exchange amongst the people in the auditorium.

Highlighting this more to illustrate, in my opinion, a tactic of intent on the part of the Republican party in trying to direct attention away from the Health Care Reform issue, while offering little of substantive value as an alternative method to adjust the disparities in health care as we know it today. Congressman Baird is not the issue, nor is the next election. Health Care Reform is the issue on many people's mind and they seem to want information, not politicking.

My thanks to Brian Baird for the opportunity to learn what I felt I wanted and needed to learn about Health Care Reform - less the noise of disruptive interference. Good job in putting together the Ilwaco Town Hall meeting.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Bill Moyers interviewed on Bill Maher - videos

Did you watch Bill Moyers on Bill Maher this past Friday? It is worth watching. Bill Moyers is well … Bill Moyers and he says it best. If you missed it you can see 3 part video posted below; also at LiveLeak - links here and here and here.

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Coyote Moon – Native American – Chant - Meditation

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Our weekend out of town; The Story.

Our weekend;   The Story.  I have a peridontist appointment about every three months, in a town about 2 + hours from where we live.  So we have turned it into a weekend getaway, and a visit with my mother who lives in a nearby town to the town where my peridontist is located.

Had my peridontist appt Friday and the report was good - some small improvement actually.  Not much improvement, but far better than deterioration.    Then we went to my mother's home, spent the weekend. and then came home to our animals.   Our cat and dog remain at home, and so our time away is limited to a safe duration for the cat and dog to fend for themselves.  Now that my cat bite is healing and the cat is healing, life is returning to normal.   (A couple weeks earlier the cat was bitten by an animal, and in not knowing she was bitten, I picked her up, more rather tugged her out of her hiding place and she bit me…not at all her usual behavior, she is a very loving cat.   We didn’t see her wound at the time, but knew something was wrong with her.  Arthur spotted her wound, and we took her to the vet, who gave her a vaccine, and told me was more concerned that I get myself to hospital to treat the cat bite.  I did, was vaccinated and given antibiotics, the incident reported to County Health, the cat quarantined at our home for 10 days and we are both mending without incident, the primary concern being exposure to rabies).   When we returned home, our dog Jake resumed eating again.  He misses us when we are gone and gets sad - depressed.  Dogs have feelings.  Oh, and our cat too, she has feelings, misses us and glad when we return home. 

After my peridontist visit on Friday afternoon we drove to my mother’s home, picked her up and went out to eat.  We live in a rural town, and there aren’t a lot of restaurants or places to eat, so we enjoy the opportunity of eating out at different restaurants on the days of  my peridontist appointments.  It’s an eating out together date we look relish.  Choosing a restaurant in the town where my mother lives proved not to be as obvious as it might seem.  We kind of scoured what we knew to be restaurants in her neighborhood, opted to go further away, settled on Black Angus, since I was hankering for a nice steak lunch.  We got there and it no longer has lunch, open for dinner only.  Must be the economy.  The hour was growing late into the afternoon, I was hungry now, and we had not eaten breakfast that day,  or at all, so we wound up at (oh yuck!) Old Country Buffet.   Arthur likes the many choices of buffet restaurants, and sometimes so do I, but Old Country Buffet is not one of my favorites.  We both really enjoy the buffet variety of primarily healthy choices at  Sweet Tomatoes restaurant, but there were none the town where my Mom lives.    

Saturday Arthur spent the day home, defrosted Mom’s freezer for her because it had become so full of ice that the ice on all the shelves were touching each other, no room for food.   He took care of some other taskings for her, then spent the rest of the day fooling around with installing stuff in  his old fashioned computer.  Not the laptop kind, the big bulky kind.  Some guy he knows had given him some Linus software to download or told him about it.  Anyway, it was a dead computer (not working) and when Arthur finished the download it sprung back to life, installed Windows XP and is sort of functional again.  He was delighted.  Still needs an audio driver and something else that would permit it to link to internet.  He was just intrigued that it started working again...kind of like a guy tinkering in his garage with his power tools, only Arthur likes to tinker with puter.

Saturday I took Mom to Farmers Market in Proctor area of Tacoma.  That is a district that more resembles Portland or some Seattle districts; organic, green living, conscientious choices - that sort of thing, and an amazingly cool, fun grocery store with very upscale item choices.  For a mere $309.00 you can purchase a wheel of gourmet cheese!  An experience in itself.  (I’m being a bit snarky – it would be very unlikely we would ever spend that kind of  money on cheese.)  We visited a new consignment shop in her immediate neighborhood – delightful items, colorful, fun, upbeat, cheerful.  I liked it.   But I didn’t buy anything, because in truth, neither of us need another thing!

And more for the hunt of treasure than because either of us need anything more in our homes, we went to a few garage sales. What was being offered wasn’t the kind of garage sales we were looking for - more like junk sales.  We had fun anyway because we toured many of the University Place neighborhoods, the million + $$ homes with breathtaking views of the Narrows water, Narrows Bridge, the outlying island.  And alongside the million + $$ homes, are more modest ranch style homes.  You can be on a ‘house of dreams’ street and turn to go down the the next street which could well be a quiet and modest street of different ranch style homes.    University Place neighborhoods are in interesting mix of income levels.   After our tour of neighborhoods,  I took her to visit Charlie at cemetary where his ashes are placed.  It is a beautiful, peaceful cemetary, a place of quiet serenity amidst the hubbub of getting from here to there.  Nice place to quietly reflect on life.  I know, it may sound like a strange juxtaposition to reflect on life when at a cemetary where the dead are buried…..but that is how it works for me.

We went back to Proctor district that evening to have dinner at a niche Mexican restaurant (not a restaurant chain) because Mom said she heard good things about the food and atmosphere there.  Lively atmosphere with mix of old and young people dining.    I had a Taste Assault dish called Chicken Mole, although it would be better named Chicken in Mole (prounounced molay)  Sauce, because the sauce was Outrageous -  6 ingredients, and I can remember plums, almonds, mole (an unsweetened chocolate), and some other ingredients.  It wakes up your taste buds like wowza!   Not hot or even spicy, flavorful would be the word I would use to describe it.  Flavorful with each bite.  Arthur took a menu and will experiment at home with making the mole sauce because I liked it so well. 

Sunday we took Mom to her church (St Andrews Episcopal Church).   A bit of history here; my mom lost half her sightedness recently and is vision impaired now.  Mom had been saying she felt she needed something inspirational amidst all the doctor appointments and bad news.  Along the way, I decided to call the Priest at St Andrews to talk to him about Mom.  When she was a child, she attended Episcopal church in Spokane.  I explained to him her childhood church exposure, and her current medical condition with being sight impaired, being told by her doctors not to drive anymore. He agreed to visit Mom immediately and arranged for someone to pick her up and take her to church on Sundays.  

She has been to St Andrews now, a few times, and wanted us to visit her church.  We wanted to visit it also, as I enjoyed the upbeat conversation with the Priest - he was energetically young, even though he isn't young.    That Sunday they had special guests, a singing group who livened up the entire worship service with renditions of the hymns done to foot tapping music.  Guitars, tambourines, horns, and one of the gals playing guitar was barefoot!   Felt like we were at a campfire gathering!  Geesh!  But the worship service having a combination of traditional liturgy, the laying on of hands for healing, the Eucharist, and the lively music with a welcome invitation to all does reflect ‘The Emerging Church’.

We loved the church, it had accommodations our little church building isn’t equipped to have, and if we lived in that area, we would likely attend that church.   Afterwards we ate at a restaurant in her immediate neighborhood that she is fond of - an old fashioned restaurant left over from approximately the 1950’s era.     So lots of eating this weekend, way too many calories, and Mom had a nice weekend.  So did we.  

Oh and at the Farmer's Market I bought some snow peas that were priced below what is usually charged for snow peas, so I bought enough to freeze.  Bought a couple of tomato plants already bearing tomatoes, and a basil plant.   I didn’t plant a vegetable garden this year, and haven’t spent much time outside with the herb and flower gardens, so keeping it light this year.   Weather hasn’t been too cooperative where we live – cold, rainy, then unseasonably blistering hot, then cold again.   At the market, I found a growing salad bowl planter that I wanted and Mom bought it for me for my birthday gift.  The planter has growing  lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro plants  - salad ingredients, and that is the extent of my vegetable garden this year.   Except all the herbs I have been growing for a few years now. 

And I was delighted to learn about a lovely tasty sauce called Chimichurri?  Oh, I tasted some at the market, and just had to buy one - lime Chimichurri.  Great to use as braising sauce for grilled vegetables, on meats, or just straight on healthy chips or fresh veggies.   Taste delight!

It was a rather sweet weekend.  Last year around this time, we had visited Mom and she and I went to Lavender Festival on Vashon Island, ferry ride over and back, a beautiful, clear, sunny day, making the waters deep blue and picturesque. There was a Farmer’s Market there too, and we visited that Farmer’s Market

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It’s American Migration History

I am not sure why I found myself agitated after reading the book, and in talking to my husband who has written and published his own book ‘And Should We Die’ on the same subject, I came to realize some of the reasons for the agitation. My husband, is a descendant of one of the ancestors of the Martin handcart company; Mary Crossley. He did not know that when he wrote his book, and the sensitive and tender manner in which he handled the characters and subject is one of his many attributes which attracted me to him.

In appreciating, respecting, and admiring that he has such a proud ancestral heritage and lineage, I began to feel like I needed to learn more about my own lineage. And I set about to do so, learning of a strong maternal Norwegian emigrant lineage and an equally strong paternal German emigrant lineage. But that is as far as it got for me – people’s names but not so much their stories. I have to admit I envied my husband who had actual accounts and stories of his emigrant English lineage in the Mormon migration under Brigham Young . Having learned of and read my husband’s book, I had a great empathy for the hardships the people of the handcart companies endured in their pilgrimages, with the Willie and Martin handcart companies enduring the unendurable.

Reading the later book by David Roberts, ‘Devil’s Gate, Brigham Young and the Great Mormon Handcart Tragedy’ I found myself in an uneasy place in recognizing this historical migration does not belong strictly to Mormon history but more appropriately belongs to American history. The unease for me, I think, comes in the efforts by the LDS Church to minimize the extent of the cruelties and hardships endured by the emigrant migrants in making their way from native countries to the great Zion of Salt Lake Utah by a means prescribed by one man – Brigham Young and adhered to by his ardent followers – the early Mormons.

Essentially I am struck by how it was conceivable in his mind (Brigham Young) that women, children, men should travel in approaching winter months across the Rocky Mountains with so little in the way of clothing and food; much less the tortuous manner of travel in the energy required to be exerted in pulling handcarts minus anything resembling conditions facilitating the necessary amount of sustenance required to do so day after day.

With an inaccurate record of the recorded deaths along the treks of both the Willie and Martin handcart companies, it is nonetheless considered by history to be one of the greater tragedies of the American migration westward, with an exceedingly high number of (un-necessary) deaths. The number of deaths from the combined Willie and Martin handcart companies could be put at approximately 200, exceeding the number of deaths on the historically famously known Donner Party pilgrimage.

In what appears to be a long term historical effort by the LDS Church to turn human travesty and needless suffering into a story of faith and testimony elevating the LDS Church and beliefs, at the expense of the real faith of those who suffered, I find that I have come to resent the presentation of this history that has been so guarded by the Church in a false belief that it belongs to Mormon history. As long as it is permitted to belong to Mormon history, the narrative of the story is colored by the agenda of the LDS Church. That I do not resent, but rather understand and permit that the Church like any other institution wishing to present itself in a more favorable light will write the narrative to it’s own agreeable satisfaction.

However, the history of the Willie and Martin handcart company does not belong strictly to Mormon history, nor does the LDS church have ownership of the narrative. It is a history that better belongs to the whole of American history, and not in the glorious form of hardy, valiant and persevering souls as is presented in Mormon history but to be added to the numerous tragedies that abound in the American history of westward migration.

I recommend the book and even taking into consideration that the author wished to compile the content in a way as to point to accountability and culpability of Brigham Young and his adherents in this fatalistic crossing, one cannot help but come away from the book disturbed with the mechanisms that fostered the horrific conditions suffered by the people of these two handcart companies who undertook the journey. Their Personal Faith is a testament to Faith with a capital F. I am not sure it is a testament or testimony to the belief set of the LDS Church or Mormon beliefs, but I absolutely know it is a testament of Faith.

How dare the LDS Church take credit unto itself for the strength and determination of the personal faith of those pioneering souls!They came and they persevered with an internal and personal faith beyond the comprehension of the LDS Church. I claim their courage as a testimony to human capacity of internal faith that fosters extraordinary human endurance in the face of great odds. I believe such faith rarely belongs exclusively to any Church but is unto itself the depth of which faith can help humans to persevere in the face of much adversity.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Craftivism, what is it? Where did it come from? Who thought that one up?

Well, whewww, someone put it together – activism + craft = craftivism.  That works for me! 


Because it is possible to go beyond banners, email petitions and chants as ways of fighting for a cause you believe in. You could have a knit-in, papier-mache puppets, teach a crafty class for kids- all ways of turning that energy into a more positive, more useful, force. Atrocities are happening in our front yards and on our televisions and we need to find ways to react against what is happening without either giving up or exploding.

This is less about mass action or more about realizing what you can do to makes things around you better.

Read more - link here   -, created by Betsy Greer, who advanced ‘craftivism’ as a Masters thesis.    Now she’s talking, no, excuse me, now she’s crafting --- with a message!   

Gives me that elusive concept that I have been struggling with for over a year now.  How can I go from 5 years of intense and passionate activism to end the Iraq war to dabbling in exploration of hobby crafts – how are those two things congruent at all?   Looks like maybe there is a common thread, after all.  

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Gatherings are Gaily Wrapped Gifts

Lovely holiday luncheon yesterday.  Dear Lady put on a sit-down holiday luncheon for about 20 women in our community.  If  it had been 1950, the luncheon might have looked like women wearing shirt-dresses with petticoats to make them flounce, hats and gloves, and a fashionable purse.   But it isn’t 1950, and that is not what the women looked like at our luncheon yesterday.  Although, our dear hostess, bless her heart, had a gift for each of us at the close of the luncheon --- individual hand-sewn aprons that she had been making since the previous summer.  She made them specifically to gift to each of us at her holiday luncheon.


I would share photos, but I haven’t obtained permissions from the women, so in respect for their privacy, if I have photos that don’t reveal faces, I’ll post those later. 


I’m just tickled with the holiday festivities this year right here within our small little village.  Open house party, holiday luncheon, church potluck, Women’s Club potluck coming up next week, annual Christmas play put on by the children, Open house party on New Year’s Eve, chili dinner – bring breads later in January.  Perhaps these gatherings have been the norm here for several years, but I’m just entering into all the festive fun this year, so it’s all new to me.  And as such, it’s like opening a lot of gaily wrapped presents, different in form and shape.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

The End of American Thanksgivings; A Cause for Universal Rejoicing

Nobody celebrates Thanksgiving quite like Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.

We at BC are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity’s deliverance from the rule of evil men.

Thanksgiving is much more than a lie – if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events – subsequently revised – were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England. The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise – Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously – an overlapping and ultimately inseparable

Act Two.
The last Act in the American drama must be the “root and branch” eradication of all vestiges of Act One and Two – America’s seminal crimes and formative projects. Thanksgiving as presently celebrated – that is, as a national political event – is an affront to civilization.

Celebrating the unspeakable
White America embraced Thanksgiving because a majority of that population glories in the fruits, if not the unpleasant details, of genocide and slavery and feels, on the whole, good about their heritage: a cornucopia of privilege and national power. Children are taught to identify with the good fortune of the Pilgrims. It does not much matter that the Native American and African holocausts that flowed from the feast at Plymouth are hidden from the children’s version of the story – kids learn soon enough that Indians were made scarce and Africans became enslaved. But they will also never forget the core message of the holiday: that the Pilgrims were good people, who could not have purposely set such evil in motion. Just as the first Thanksgivings marked the consolidation of the English toehold in what became the United States, the core ideological content of the holiday serves to validate all that has since occurred on these shores – a national consecration of the unspeakable, a balm and benediction for the victors, a blessing of the fruits of murder and kidnapping, and an implicit obligation to continue the seamless historical project in the present day.

The Thanksgiving story is an absolution of the Pilgrims, whose brutal quest for absolute power in the New World is made to seem both religiously motivated and eminently human. Most importantly, the Pilgrims are depicted as victims – of harsh weather and their own naïve yet wholesome visions of a new beginning. In light of this carefully nurtured fable, whatever happened to the Indians, from Plymouth to California and beyond, in the aftermath of the 1621 dinner must be considered a mistake, the result of misunderstandings – at worst, a series of lamentable tragedies. The story provides the essential first frame of the American saga. It is unalloyed racist propaganda, a tale that endures because it served the purposes of a succession of the Pilgrims’ political heirs, in much the same way that Nazi-enhanced mythology of a glorious Aryan/German past advanced another murderous, expansionist mission.
Thanksgiving is quite dangerous – as were the Pilgrims.

Rejoicing in a cemetery

The English settlers, their ostensibly religious venture backed by a trading company, were glad to discover that they had landed in a virtual cemetery in 1620. Corn still sprouted in the abandoned fields of the Wampanoags, but only a remnant of the local population remained around the fabled Rock. In a letter to England, Massachusetts Bay colony founder John Winthrop wrote, "But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not 50, have put themselves under our protection."

Ever diligent to claim their own advantages as God’s will, the Pilgrims thanked their deity for having “pursued” the Indians to mass death. However, it was not divine intervention that wiped out most of the natives around the village of Patuxet but, most likely, smallpox-embedded blankets planted during an English visit or slave raid. Six years before the Pilgrim landing, a ship sailed into Patuxet’s harbor, captained by none other than the famous seaman and mercenary soldier John Smith, former leader of the first successful English colony in the New World, at Jamestown, Virginia. Epidemic and slavery followed in his wake, as Debra Glidden described in

In 1614 the Plymouth Company of England, a joint stock company, hired Captain John Smith to explore land in its behalf. Along what is now the coast of Massachusetts in the territory of the Wampanoag, Smith visited the town of Patuxet according to "The Colonial Horizon," a 1969 book edited by William Goetzinan. Smith renamed the town Plymouth in honor of his employers, but the Wampanoag who inhabited the town continued to call it Patuxet.

The following year Captain Hunt, an English slave trader, arrived at Patuxet. It was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them into slavery for 220 shillings apiece. That practice was described in a 1622 account of happenings entitled "A Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affairs in Virginia," written by Edward Waterhouse. True to the explorer tradition, Hunt kidnapped a number of Wampanoags to sell into slavery.

Another common practice among European explorers was to give "smallpox blankets" to the Indians. Since smallpox was unknown on this continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans did not have any natural immunity to the disease so smallpox would effectively wipe out entire villages with very little effort required by the Europeans. William Fenton describes how Europeans decimated Native American villages in his 1957 work "American Indian and White relations to 1830." From 1615 to 1619 smallpox ran rampant among the Wampanoags and their neighbors to the north. The Wampanoag lost 70 percent of their population to the epidemic and the Massachusetts lost 90 percent.

Most of the Wampanoag had died from the smallpox epidemic so when the Pilgrims arrived they found well-cleared fields which they claimed for their own. A Puritan colonist, quoted by Harvard University's Perry Miller, praised the plague that had wiped out the Indians for it was "the wonderful preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ, by his providence for his people's abode in the Western world."

Historians have since speculated endlessly on why the woods in the region resembled a park to the disembarking Pilgrims in 1620. The reason should have been obvious: hundreds, if not thousands, of people had lived there just five years before.

In less than three generations the settlers would turn all of New England into a charnel house for Native Americans, and fire the economic engines of slavery throughout English-speaking America. Plymouth Rock is the place where the nightmare truly began.

The uninvited?

It is not at all clear what happened at the first – and only – “integrated” Thanksgiving feast. Only two written accounts of the three-day event exist, and one of them, by Governor William Bradford, was written 20 years after the fact. Was Chief Massasoit invited to bring 90 Indians with him to dine with 52 colonists, most of them women and children? This seems unlikely. A good harvest had provided the settlers with plenty of food, according to their accounts, so the whites didn’t really need the Wampanoag’s offering of five deer. What we do know is that there had been lots of tension between the two groups that fall. John Two-Hawks, who runs the Native Circle web site, gives a sketch of the facts:

“Thanksgiving' did not begin as a great loving relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people. In fact, in October of 1621 when the pilgrim survivors of their first winter in Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial 'Thanksgiving' meal, the Indians who were there were not even invited! There was no turkey, squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie. A few days before this alleged feast took place, a company of 'pilgrims' led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian chief, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out!”

It is much more likely that Chief Massasoit either crashed the party, or brought enough men to ensure that he was not kidnapped or harmed by the Pilgrims. Dr. Tingba Apidta, in his “Black Folks’ Guide to Understanding Thanksgiving,” surmises that the settlers “brandished their weaponry” early and got drunk soon thereafter. He notes that “each Pilgrim drank at least a half gallon of beer a day, which they preferred even to water. This daily inebriation led their governor, William Bradford, to comment on his people's ‘notorious sin,’ which included their ‘drunkenness and uncleanliness’ and rampant ‘sodomy.’”

Soon after the feast the brutish Miles Standish “got his bloody prize,” Dr. Apidta writes:

“He went to the Indians, pretended to be a trader, then beheaded an Indian man named Wituwamat. He brought the head to Plymouth, where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years, according to Gary B. Nash, ‘as a symbol of white power.’ Standish had the Indian man's young brother hanged from the rafters for good measure. From that time on, the whites were known to the Indians of Massachusetts by the name ‘Wotowquenange,’ which in their tongue meant cutthroats and stabbers.”

What is certain is that the first feast was not called a “Thanksgiving” at the time; no further integrated dining occasions were scheduled; and the first, official all-Pilgrim “Thanksgiving” had to wait until 1637, when the whites of New England celebrated the massacre of the Wampanoag’s southern neighbors, the Pequots.

The real Thanksgiving Day Massacre

The Pequots today own the Foxwood Casino and Hotel, in Ledyard, Connecticut, with gross gaming revenues of over $9 billion in 2000. This is truly a (very belated) miracle, since the real first Pilgrim Thanksgiving was intended as the Pequot’s epitaph. Sixteen years after the problematical Plymouth feast, the English tried mightily to erase the Pequots from the face of the Earth, and thanked God for the blessing.

Having subdued, intimidated or made mercenaries of most of the tribes of Massachusetts, the English turned their growing force southward, toward the rich Connecticut valley, the Pequot’s sphere of influence. At the point where the Mystic River meets the sea, the combined force of English and allied Indians bypassed the Pequot fort to attack and set ablaze a town full of women, children and old people.

William Bradford, the former Governor of Plymouth and one of the chroniclers of the 1621 feast, was also on hand for the great massacre of 1637:

"Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire...horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy."

The rest of the white folks thought so, too. “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots," read Governor John Winthrop’s proclamation. The authentic Thanksgiving Day was born.

Most historians believe about 700 Pequots were slaughtered at Mystic. Many prisoners were executed, and surviving women and children sold into slavery in the West Indies. Pequot prisoners that escaped execution were parceled out to Indian tribes allied with the English. The Pequot were thought to have been extinguished as a people. According to IndyMedia, “The Pequot tribe numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had brought their numbers down to 1,500 by 1637. The Pequot ‘War’ killed all but a handful of remaining members of the tribe.”

But there were still too many Indians around to suit the whites of New England, who bided their time while their own numbers increased to critical, murderous mass.

Guest’s head on a pole

By the 1670s the colonists, with 8,000 men under arms, felt strong enough to demand that the Pilgrims’ former dinner guests the Wampanoags disarm and submit to the authority of the Crown. After a series of settler provocations in 1675, the Wampanoag struck back, under the leadership of Chief Metacomet, son of Massasoit, called King Philip by the English. Metacomet/Philip, whose wife and son were captured and sold into West Indian slavery, wiped out 13 settlements and killed 600 adult white men before the tide of battle turned. A 1996 issue of the Revolutionary Worker provides an excellent narrative.

In their victory, the settlers launched an all-out genocide against the remaining Native people. The Massachusetts government offered 20 shillings bounty for every Indian scalp, and 40 shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave any Indian woman or child under 14 they could capture. The "Praying Indians" who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with "hostiles." They were enslaved or killed. Other "peaceful" Indians of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts – and were sold onto slave ships.

It is not known how many Indians were sold into slavery, but in this campaign, 500 enslaved Indians were shipped from Plymouth alone. Of the 12,000 Indians in the surrounding tribes, probably about half died from battle, massacre and starvation.

After King Philip's War, there were almost no Indians left free in the northern British colonies. A colonist wrote from Manhattan's New York colony: "There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts." In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a "day of public thanksgiving" in 1676, saying, "there now scarce remains a name or family of them but are either slain, captivated or fled."

Fifty-five years after the original Thanksgiving Day, the Puritans had destroyed the generous Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief King Philip was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later.

This is not thought to be a fit Thanksgiving tale for the children of today, but it’s the real story, well-known to the settler children of New England at the time – the white kids who saw the Wampanoag head on the pole year after year and knew for certain that God loved them best of all, and that every atrocity they might ever commit against a heathen, non-white was blessed.

There’s a good term for the process thus set in motion: nation-building.

Roots of the slave trade

The British North American colonists’ practice of enslaving Indians for labor or direct sale to the West Indies preceded the appearance of the first chained Africans at the dock in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. The Jamestown colonists’ human transaction with the Dutch vessel was an unscheduled occurrence. However, once the African slave trade became commercially established, the fates of Indians and Africans in the colonies became inextricably entwined. New England, born of up-close-and-personal, burn-them-in-the-fires-of-hell genocide, led the political and commercial development of the English colonies. The region also led the nascent nation’s descent into a slavery-based society and economy.

Ironically, an apologist for Virginian slavery made one of the best, early cases for the indictment of New England as the engine of the American slave trade. Unreconstructed secessionist Lewis Dabney’s 1867 book “A Defense of Virginia” traced the slave trade’s origins all the way back to Plymouth Rock:

The planting of the commercial States of North America began with the colony of Puritan Independents at Plymouth, in 1620, which was subsequently enlarged into the State of Massachusetts. The other trading colonies, Rhode Island and Connecticut, as well as New Hampshire (which never had an extensive shipping interest), were offshoots of Massachusetts. They partook of the same characteristics and pursuits; and hence, the example of the parent colony is taken here as a fair representation of them.

The first ship from America, which embarked in the African slave trade, was the Desire, Captain Pierce, of Salem; and this was among the first vessels ever built in the colony. The promptitude with which the "Puritan Fathers" embarked in this business may be comprehended, when it is stated that the Desire sailed upon her voyage in June, 1637. The first feeble and dubious foothold was gained by the white man at Plymouth less than seventeen years before; and as is well known, many years were expended by the struggle of the handful of settlers for existence. So that it may be correctly said, that the commerce of New England was born of the slave trade; as its subsequent prosperity was largely founded upon it. The Desire, proceeding to the Bahamas, with a cargo of "dry fish and strong liquors, the only commodities for those parts," obtained the negroes from two British men-of-war, which had captured them from a Spanish slaver.

Thus, the trade of which the good ship Desire, of Salem, was the harbinger, grew into grand proportions; and for nearly two centuries poured a flood of wealth into New England, as well as no inconsiderable number of slaves. Meanwhile, the other maritime colonies of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and Connecticut, followed the example of their elder sister emulously; and their commercial history is but a repetition of that of Massachusetts. The towns of Providence, Newport, and New Haven became famous slave trading ports. The magnificent harbor of the second, especially, was the favorite starting-place of the slave ships; and its commerce rivaled, or even exceeded, that of the present commercial metropolis, New York. All the four original States, of course, became slaveholding.

The Revolution that exploded in 1770s New England was undertaken by men thoroughly imbued with the worldview of the Indian-killer and slave-holder. How could they not be? The “country” they claimed as their own was fathered by genocide and mothered by slavery – its true distinction among the commercial nations of the world. And these men were not ashamed, but proud, with vast ambition to spread their exceptional characteristics West and South and wherever their so-far successful project in nation-building might take them – and by the same bloody, savage methods that had served them so well in the past.

At the moment of deepest national crisis following the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln invoked the national fable that is far more central to the white American personality than Lincoln’s battlefield “Address.” Lincoln seized upon the 1621 feast as the historic “Thanksgiving” – bypassing the official and authentic 1637 precedent – and assigned the dateless, murky event the fourth Thursday in November.

Lincoln surveyed a broken nation, and attempted nation-rebuilding, based on the purest white myth. The same year that he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he renewed the national commitment to a white manifest destiny that began at Plymouth Rock. Lincoln sought to rekindle a shared national mission that former Confederates and Unionists and white immigrants from Europe could collectively embrace. It was and remains a barbaric and racist national unifier, by definition. Only the most fantastic lies can sanitize the history of the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts.

”Like a rock”

The Thanksgiving holiday fable is at once a window on the way that many, if not most, white Americans view the world and their place in it, and a pollutant that leaches barbarism into the modern era. The fable attempts to glorify the indefensible, to enshrine an era and mission that represent the nation’s lowest moral denominators. Thanksgiving as framed in the mythology is, consequently, a drag on that which is potentially civilizing in the national character, a crippling, atavistic deformity. Defenders of the holiday will claim that the politically-corrected children’s version promotes brotherhood, but that is an impossibility – a bald excuse to prolong the worship of colonial “forefathers” and to erase the crimes they committed. Those bastards burned the Pequot women and children, and ushered in the multinational business of slavery. These are facts. The myth is an insidious diversion – and worse.

Humanity cannot tolerate a 21st Century superpower, much of whose population perceives the world through the eyes of 17th Century land and flesh bandits. Yet that is the trick that fate has played on the globe. We described the roots of the planetary dilemma in our March 13, 2003 commentary, “Racism & War, Perfect Together.”

The English arrived with criminal intent - and brought wives and children to form new societies predicated on successful plunder. To justify the murderous enterprise, Indians who had initially cooperated with the squatters were transmogrified into "savages" deserving displacement and death. The relentlessly refreshed lie of Indian savagery became a truth in the minds of white Americans, a fact to be acted upon by every succeeding generation of whites. The settlers became a singular people confronting the great "frontier" - a euphemism for centuries of genocidal campaigns against a darker, "savage" people marked for extinction.

The necessity of genocide was the operative, working assumption of the expanding American nation. "Manifest Destiny" was born at Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, later to fall (to paraphrase Malcolm) like a rock on Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, etc. Little children were taught that the American project was inherently good, Godly, and that those who got in the way were "evil-doers" or just plain subhuman, to be gloriously eliminated. The lie is central to white American identity, embraced by waves of European settlers who never saw a red person.

Only a century ago, American soldiers caused the deaths of possibly a million Filipinos whom they had been sent to “liberate” from Spanish rule. They didn’t even know who they were killing, and so rationalized their behavior by substituting the usual American victims. Colonel Funston, of the Twentieth Kansas Volunteers, explained what got him motivated in the Philippines:

"Our fighting blood was up and we all wanted to kill 'niggers.' This shooting human beings is a 'hot game,' and beats rabbit hunting all to pieces." Another wrote that "the boys go for the enemy as if they were chasing jack-rabbits .... I, for one, hope that Uncle Sam will apply the chastening rod, good, hard, and plenty, and lay it on until they come into the reservation and promise to be good 'Injuns.'"

Our military leaders in Iraq continue to personify the unfitness of Americans to play a major role in the world, much less rule it.

What does this have to do with the Mayflower? Everything. Although possibly against their wishes, the Pilgrims hosted the Wampanoag for three no doubt anxious days. The same men killed and enslaved Wampanoags immediately before and after the feast. They, their newly arrived English comrades and their children roasted hundreds of neighboring Indians alive just 16 years later, and two generations afterwards cleared nearly the whole of New England of its indigenous “savages,” while enthusiastically enriching themselves through the invention of transoceanic, sophisticated means of enslaving millions. The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory in their own depravity and savagery in their most helpless victims, who can only redeem themselves by accepting the inherent goodness of white Americans.

Thanksgiving encourages these cognitive cripples in their madness, just as it is designed to do.

Things are looking up

We began this essay by saying that “the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy.” We firmly believe this. The wired world works against the Bushites insane leap to global hegemony, while creating the material basis for (dare we say the words) brother- and sisterhood among humankind. It becomes clear that the fruits of millennia of human genius cannot be captured and packaged for the enrichment of a few for much longer – and certainly not by a cabal that cannot see beyond the bubble of its own, warped history. The dim outlines of a new and more democratic world order can be seen in the often tentative, but sometimes dramatic actions of movements and nations determined to construct a fairer way to live. As the world witnesses the brutality, stupidity and sheer incompetence of the Pirates currently at the helm of the United States, the urgency of a common, alternative human project becomes apparent to all. The “end of history” that the Bushites triumphantly announce is really the end of them, through a process they have accelerated with every deranged action and delusional strategy they have undertaken since 2001.

They are like men in quicksand. White racism as a global scourge will sink with them, and eventually whither to a mere prejudice rather than a world-threatening menace.

We at BC are thankful to be alive in the knowledge that a new world is just over the horizon, close enough to sense, even if we never see it.

We are optimistic about our struggle in the United States – if not, we would never encourage anybody to fight and struggle for anything.

We are thankful for our hope that Barack Obama is the real thing and a genuine social democrat who will with our support and criticism push the envelope in civilized directions.

We are thankful we can renew our confidence in African Americans, citizens of the African World and all other people of good will who will continue to be part of the movement for economic justice, social justice and peace.


Any article may be re-printed as long as it is re-printed in its entirety and full credit given to the author and . If the re-print is on the Internet we additionally request a link back to the original piece on our Website.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

View Driving Home








I was capturing some of the scenery on our drive home. We were driving home as the sun was starting to set.  I was able to get a nice set before we lost the light.   Not bad considering these were taken as a passenger in a moving vehicle.

photos taken by Lietta Ruger

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Wind Power Plans Coming to Pacific County? Will the communities accept new eco-industry?

article at Daily Astorian

If a project isn’t sold to the community it will struggle to gain public acceptance

There are suddenly plans for a lot of wind-based power generation blowing into Washington's Pacific County, possibly a hint at what may occur in many of the coastal counties of Oregon and Washington in the years ahead.

A "joint operating agency" of Washington state electricity providers is planning an 82-megawatt wind turbine farm in the Naselle area, with completion of up to 45 wind turbines eyed in 2011. A smaller, very interesting four-turbine project is getting started in northern Pacific County and southern Grays Harbor County. In total, all this may be enough to power some 40,000 average-sized homes.

The Pacific Northwest and the nation need more of the relatively clean energy that wind farms provide. Pacific County can use the construction and operation jobs that Radar Ridge would generate along with electricity. A similar-sized plant in Calgary cost about $140 million Canadian in 2006, perhaps not far different than what the local project will cost in U.S. dollars a year or two from now. That's a mighty big and mostly welcome investment.

At the same time, it's important to note that phalanxes of giant wind turbines have not met with universal acclaim everywhere they've been constructed. Residents often complain about the impacts they have on landscape, bird migration, traffic, hunting access and other rural values.

Quoting Canada's National Post, "Activists now decry windmills with a fervour once reserved for nuclear plants. To some, it seems strange to waste time railing against a power source that does not generate greenhouse gases, is relatively quick to construct and can serve as a powerful symbol of a community's environmental convictions. They say critics are only displaying a modern strain of 'Not In My Backyard' syndrome.

"Opponents, however, say they are driven by concerns about windmills' effects on everything from bird migration to health to property values to earthworms.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

First Lady (to be) Michelle Obama phoned me at my home!!

She really did.  She phoned on Veterans Day. I was sitting at my desk in my home in my lounge around the house clothes, working on my laptop.  The dawning of the fullness of the recognition that I was listening to Michelle Obama, who will very soon be the First Lady hit me like a ton of bricks and blew me away.  Wow, I'm on a phone call with the First Lady -- how cool is that!

Actually, it was a conference call, listen only, that Michelle Obama made on Veterans Day to Blue Star Families 4 Obama, to thank them for their pro-active help in the campaign, to thank them for their sacrifices as military families.  We are a Blue Star family and I had joined the BSF4O group during the campaign at my mybarackobama campaign site.

So no, it was not a personal call specifically to me, and I was having a little fun with the first part of this post.  Still, I was surprised at my own reaction and recognition -- this really is Michelle Obama, she really will be the First Lady, she is talking to us on a phone conference call, talking about her daughters, getting them into schools, getting ready for the inauguration. It had a surreal feeling to it for me.  I am not used to being on a phone call from the First Lady and well, the Vice President -- an earlier conference call I got to participate in (listen only) with Joe Biden.  

If I were to be on a phone conference call with President Elect, Barack Obama, based on my reaction to Michelle Obama's phone conference call, I'm sure my reaction will cause my heart to beat faster.  

Towards the end of the campaign, I was on a listen only conference call from Joe Biden that he set up via his email listserv.  He had just concluded his speech in Tacoma, WA, thanked us  and was encouraging the many of us on the conference call to get out there and keep working, and not to take anything for granted.

The audacity of hope..boy, am I feeling it!

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