Category Archives: Fe-911

Day One

I started writing this article Friday morning, one day after the Republican National Convention concluded business. According to their nominee Mr. Trump, the entire world outside my door should be a flaming paper bag of dog shit by now, and he is the only one who will save us from it. I am going to step outside a minute today to check on that and will be right back.


Okay. I have checked the world and confirmed it’s not entirely a flaming paper bag full of dog shit. It is, however, in a transition period between the end of the Republican National Convention and the beginning of the Democratic National Convention.

It appears as though this transition was written as a screenplay by John Le Carre and Richard Condon. For those not familiar with spy thrillers, Le Carre and Condon are (respectively) the authors of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Manchurian Candidate.

Outside of a spy novel plot, what has happened thus far in the 2016 American presidential campaign seems pretty fantastical. It all started off normally enough. On Friday, Mrs. Clinton successfully introduced her running mate Tim Kaine to the rest of the country at the Democratic ticket’s rally in Miami, Florida. Then, while that was happening, WikiLeaks dumped thousands of emails from the DNC’s servers — particularly from DNC leaders Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Amy Dacey and Brad Marshall — which showed the DNC may have colluded with the Clinton campaign against the Sanders campaign.

Although the content of the emails were individual, personal exchanges and suggestions by DNC leadership on how the Clinton campaign could use Sanders’ atheism as a means to stem the Sanders campaign’s insurgency, those suggestions were not used by the Clinton campaign. What the leak did do successfully was to throw the proverbial turd in the punch bowl of the Democratic National Convention. Its timing was perfect, ripping off the scabs from the wounds of die-hard Sanders supporters and delegates who felt cheated by Sanders’ loss in the primaries, thereby creating a contentious Day 1 for the Clinton-Kaine celebration.

But then the story gets even weirder. Over the weekend, the Clinton campaign accused Russia of tampering with American politics, citing that Russians hacked DNC email servers to benefit Donald Trump. The FBI, for their part, believe the same.

For those new to this storyline, the Putin-Trump connection started emerging long before this DNC email hack was reported by the press. Josh Marshall’s article in Talking Points Memo, the Washington Post, and Slate all cover Trump’s Putin connection and its relevance to the campaign, which in a nutshell is this: On the campaign trail, Trump has called for a new partnership with Moscow and overhauling NATO, the allied military force seen as the chief protector of pro-Western nations near Russia. And Trump has surrounded himself with a team of advisers who have or have had financial ties to Russia.

That advisory team includes Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort, partner in the lobbying firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelley, which is featured in the Center for Public Integrity’s Report, The Torturers’ Lobby.  Manafort is a long-time friend and ally of Viktor Yanukovych, former President of Ukraine (elected 2010), who was sympathetic to Russia’s agenda for the region. He was deposed in 2014. Yanukovych now lives in southern Russia under protection of a Russian citizenship granted him by Putin.

With the exception of Deutsche Bank, major banks in the West refuse to do business with Trump. The risk is too great due to his unscrupulous business practices. Trump is a long-time admirer of Vladimir Putin, and Putin’s Russian oligarchic supporters provide capital for Trump’s projects here and abroad.


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The Trump campaign’s gutting of the Republican Party’s platform against Russian tactics in Ukraine indicate how and why he would like the US to change the way we view Russian interests in the region. It supports his financial interests.

Given late June’s Brexit vote, and the failed Turkish coup against Erdogan — another strong Putin fan — acting on behalf of Putin’s interests may serve to completely destabilize an already fragile Europe and NATO. And neither Trump nor Putin gives a shit. They’re bros.

But this week is about the Democrats. As of yesterday, Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla) has resigned from her post as Chair of the DNC. At this morning’s Florida state delegation’s breakfast she was roundly booed. She will not be speaking first to gavel the convention to begin. Donna Brazile will act as temporary Chair for the DNC and the campaign. Senator Sanders will formally endorse Secretary Clinton, though he was booed by his own supporters today when urging their support of her.

This is just Day One of the Democratic National Convention. Four days after the Republican National Convention and we haven’t even begun with the speeches. Who knows what’s going to happen next? It all feels like worlds are colliding, and indeed they are. We are connected by global finance and interests and, in this election year, it shows itself in every way imaginable from the “R” to the “D” side. It may be a case of picking your poison. But maybe one we can recover from; choose the other one, and the world may not.

So there is no real, big flaming bag of dog poop on my front porch at least. But who knows what will happen this week? Well, let me take that back. At least we will know one thing by the end of the evening: Michelle Obama will be the first First Lady ever to have spoken at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions. That’s a positive!

Let Me Get This Off My Chest

Let me get this off my chest right now. This week, there on national television live from Cleveland, Ohio, we are about to experience the rolling thunder review of human rights disasters played out with speeches and ending with balloons. In short, the Republican National Convention. There we will find it all: homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, bigotry, vagina-fearing and gun-lust.


You can stop reading right here, or we can go on. Honestly, given global and domestic events since this Mars station direct, I would prefer to not even write about this.

In fact, given what is going on around the planet and our country right now I would be much happier writing out the recipe for stewed shoes. But I know I cannot ignore it. I completely understand if you would prefer not to watch.

Me? I will check in five minutes per day wearing a gas mask with my finger on the remote’s “mute” button in case it gets really crazy.

Even while reluctant, I feel compelled to check in. It’s like placing a dipstick into a muck-infested pool to test whether the slime has begun to dissipate. I want to see what that ghostly moaning underneath the cellar stairs is. I want to see if there is any semblance of heart remaining in the zombie GOP.

I say zombie, because it seems as though whatever life-consciousness that was in the Republican Party has been slowly drained out by the GOP’s wan acceptance of the extremist Tea Publicans that are the party’s base, and their candidates: Mr. Donald “Deport-the-Mexicans-and-Torture-Terrorist’s-Families” Trump, and his running mate, Mike “Christ-is-Lord-and-Bring-Your-Rapist’s-Baby-to-Term” Pence. They are now the party of the dead.

Whatever remained of sane conservatives have flown the coop, refused to run, were voted out by the Tea Party faction in their state, or went on to work as lobbyists on K Street in Washington. We won’t even see former Republican presidential candidates Senator John McCain or Mitt Romney. That breed of GOP elephant is an extinct species. What remains is the obstructionist wing of the party willing to crater the world to get their way.


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Everything I’ve said so far is nothing I haven’t said before. Both Democratic and Republican conventions are week-long infomercials on steroids. What we’ll witness this week will be the presentation of policies by politicians based on the sullen ignorance we’ve witnessed with dismay over the last eight years. Starting today the themes covered will be under the banners of “Make America Safe Again”, “Make America First Again”, “Make America One Again”, and “Make America Work Again.”

I think a great many of us here are very over the message the Republican Party has to offer. So over it that I think even some Republicans are through with the party as it is. The one thing this week-long visit to the mind and heart of American darkness provides is that it is a way to wrap up any doubts we may have had about holding onto the past: the principles that the Republicans have been desperately trying to hold onto since Barack Obama took office.

But it’s 2016. Mars, Uranus and Eris are in motion and we need to get ready for the future. Changes are going to come. We need to be ready to meet them intelligently, compassionately. It’s time to glance back — albeit briefly — over our shoulders to the shit show on national TV this week and focus ourselves forward in response to it.

It’s as Eric always says: make art, music, sex and noise. Do it as much as you can now. Do it as a response to what you see and hear, and fight the lies that hold us down and back. We’ve got to keep scratching, pulling and pounding on the door this week that some so desperately want to keep closed. The future waits behind it. Let’s go there.


“So afraid of where I’m going, so in love with where I’ve been.”

The line above was written by an inmate at the county jail where we work, used lyrically to describe repeating cycles of addiction leading to repeated incarceration. The show was called “A Place at the Table,” a modern-day retelling of the myth of Sisyphus, the guy in Greek mythology who is damned for eternity never to get it right.

“So afraid of where I’m going. So in love with where I’ve been” also describes a lens through which I view our world this solstice/Full Moon day.

People are struggling with uncertainty in a world where everything changes and moves so fast, yet we track information on the web — a source that comes at us with information at the force, volume and velocity of a fire hose as opposed to a drinking fountain. Too much to take in and absorb all at once, and too little room for reflection on what is really true.

However, there’s plenty of time for reaction…upon reaction…upon reaction. So much so that the reaction becomes fact and the fuel for our argument and distraction — and not the meaning, which drifts further off the moorings. For everyone, life has been offering us big tests of our capacity for grief, patience, tolerance and compassion. We’re walking uphill in a world that has changed rapidly politically, economically and demographically over the last decade.

In the instance of the Orlando shooting case, the ham-handed simplicity with which we’ve traditionally gauged and assessed who causes terror is being challenged. For now, that is a good thing. The Club Pulse shootings happened a week ago, and it’s hard to pinpoint which facet of Omar Mateen’s life places him in the pigeonhole of a mass shooter or a terrorist on a rampage like we always do. Is he like an Adam Lanza (Sandy Hook), Charleston shooter Dylann Roof, or one of the Tsarnaev brothers? Or is he something altogether different?

Mateen’s Afghan heritage and Muslim faith collided with his online presence on gay dating sites, his inclusion on the US “no-fly list” and his conflicted membership in both Hezbollah and ISIS (two opposing forces in Middle East conflicts). Mateen’s recent deadly outburst in Orlando left us all questioning his motives. Was his violent behavior a single-minded act of terror? Or was he living out our country’s cultural, gender and political wars as they resided inside one body — his own. In any case, he should not have had access to a semi-automatic weapon.

Catapulted by events in Orlando, we begin the week in the US with a vote on an amendment that would allow law enforcement to block firearm sales for national security reasons in narrow circumstances. In other words: no one on a Department of Homeland Security watch list should be able to purchase a semi-automatic weapon.

That it’s taken 15 years post 9-11 to happen is shocking anywhere else but in America. Since Americans ‘need guns to put away terrorists’, any weapons-sale ban or background check would have been in violation of our Second Amendment rights, and of our ‘need’ to protect ourselves because of, er, terror.

Also this week, the UK prepares for the EU Referendum, also known as the “Brexit” vote. It takes place Thursday, June 23, exactly one week after Labour MP Jo Cox’s murder by Thomas Mair, who shouted “Britain First” — the cry of the anti-immigrant Far-Right nationalist group of the same name, who support the “Leave” (the EU) movement — as he attacked her.

Mair has been described as an “isolated man with some psychological problems” who was stirred by the same white nationalism that fuels much of Donald Trump’s political support in America — a fear of the other. Mair has also been involved with the National Alliance, an American Neo-Nazi group.

The overall aggressive anti-immigrant tone of this referendum has raised concerns, amplified by Cox’s murder. The moderation of that tone and atmosphere coming on the heels of Cox’s death is now about to be tested by Trump’s planned visit to Britain the day after the referendum.

Certainly, we may be so afraid of where we’re going and so in love with where we’ve been that we screw this phase in time up again. But this is no time for fear. It’s time for reflection on our existing fears using the light of a bright Cancer Sun and a sober Capricorn Moon to see them in full light.

As grieving for the dead continues, feelings bubbling underneath the surface over the last few weeks and months have potential to release their pressure. Maybe we can begin to find a way to solutions that make this world a welcoming, peaceful place for all of us. Maybe we can embrace a little more complexity in our lives as this world changes over time.

It seems a good time for knowing fears exist yet setting them aside, placing ourselves on the correct path regardless of fear, and pushing our load up so we reach the summit of our ideals of living fearlessly on the ever-changing planet. And yes, maybe we screw this up yet again, but maybe at the very least, we could absorb the lessons of the tests we face. A teachable moment is upon us. Can we rise to the occasion?


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Bottom of the 9th

I was going to entitle today’s column: “California, Just Freaking Vote Already!!!”, but since I don’t control either the electorate or time, I have been trying to be patient during this waiting period for the California primary to end on June 7.


Regarding this primary season from hindsight, the Democratic presidential primary was decided back in March, when Hillary Clinton gained a majority of votes and pledged delegates after Super Tuesday.

This lead was firmly ensconced in New York, which voted for Clinton near the end of April. Bernie Sanders, in second place, is a little less than 300 delegates behind the presumptive nominee. Clinton will more than likely get enough pledged delegates to clinch the nomination no later than June 14, if not earlier, by way of the California and New Jersey primaries. Yet, Sanders still plans to fight until the last vote is cast.

Why is Bernie still fighting? Framing his political situation in baseball terms, Sanders is at bat in the bottom of the 9th inning, with one man on base in a game where the score is 5-1 in favor of the pitching team, with two outs and the count is 2 balls and 2 strikes. And yet, he is still trying to get a hit.

At this pace, he will either strike out, walk if the pitching collapses, hit one RBI or hit a home run. The odds are high that even in the best of circumstances, he will not score enough to win the game. But at this stage, with his persistence, you have to think winning the nomination is probably not his aim.

You are probably catching news of Sanders entreating and getting the Democratic National Committee to include a delegation of four pro-Sanders representatives to sit on the convention planning committee, which includes Dr. Cornell West, a far-left leaning leader in the African American community and outspoken critic of President Obama. Sanders’ campaign legal team also wrote to the DNC to remove Barney Frank as chair of the convention, for what many gather as a longstanding feud and rivalry between the two during Frank’s time in Congress.

Sanders’ team lost that one. But he is right to persist fighting to the end, as he promised. If not for votes, then for ideas that could improve the process of electing our presidential candidates.

As an Independent running for the first time as a Democrat, Sanders questioned the ‘eccentric’ ways Democrats go about selecting Presidential nominees. Why did Hillary gain more delegates than Sanders in states she lost? Why do we still have caucuses in some states, and open or closed primaries in others? Why are delegates apportioned the way they are? And why do Superdelegates still exist? 

For that matter, let’s take this further: why is gerrymandering still allowed to assure a single party majority in one state? Why can’t there be a mandatory voting day on a Sunday when people have time to vote, as President Obama suggested?

As it stands today, awarding correctly apportioned delegates in states Bernie won would not make any difference — Hillary is leading in every other metric from caucuses to closed and open primaries, pledged delegates and popular vote. If that Sanders delegate re-apportionment was to happen now, Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates would not change so drastically that the result would flip. She would still be the nominee.


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But Sanders is right in pointing out that even though many of these state nominating processes were created to address unfairness or inequity in the past, the way we select nominees to the Presidency of the United States has grown archaic, seemingly corrupt and appears ultimately unfair to the voters.

Yet it’s an absolute cash cow for every news network looking for the next month’s campaign ad buys. Like they do for most products. Which is probably the reason things are as they stand. At least for now. We like to crystallize business ideas into profit-making entities in America, and we have turned our politics of life, death and taxes into a money making machine for the networks. We know who owns those. These are the wheels that keep grinding away at our will to make the most important decision in our little section of the world.

If nothing else comes from the Sanders candidacy, we should be grateful that he’s drawn attention to this major — if not dangerous — flaw in the political machinery of our ‘democracy’. We have an 18th Century machine in the 21st Century — and we’re paying lots of money for it. The machine includes the electoral college, the two-party system, and our founding fathers’ good intentions when they were drawing up the map of the new nation.

Back then we were a mostly rural country ruled by white property owners, and a very large part of our citizenry were not citizens but in custody as slaves; women were consigned to the roles of baby maker and consort. Looking at that history now, have we come any further? Bernie Sanders’ campaign may soon be over, yet good ideas remain from his challenges to our traditional way of doing things, and the way we’ve used those traditions to hold on to power. Just because we did it before doesn’t mean it should work now, and 46% of the voters in the Democratic presidential nominating primaries agree. The DNC better be listening.

Not all ideas stand the test of time. But good ideas should. Like a democratic republic in every sense of the word, one that represents this country and its people who are far different from what we were when we started more than two centuries ago.

After the first Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.” 

Have we kept our republic? You tell me. Because, thanks to this primary process in 2016, we can look from the stands and realize that the last batter up is really us, neck-deep in a full count, three balls and two strikes. We’re in a game with serious consequences for the country and the world.

What’s at stake is how much our individual votes do matter for this republic. And how much more they could matter if we fight to make all votes count, from primary to Presidential. Not for Bernie’s team or Hillary’s team now, but for us. And we’re going to need every vote this year to fight what could be the end game. More on that next week. See you in the comments.

Stubby Fingers on the Red Button

I wasn’t surprised when Donald Trump became the presumptive Republican nominee for President after his overwhelming victory in the Indiana primary. What was more stunning to me was that, according to the rules and tradition in the presidential playoffs, Mr. Trump would be afforded what was his due as the Republican front-runner: a briefing by the CIA.


Now what will a briefing by the CIA entail?

Whatever the current President of the United States will allow. That could be an overview, or a more nuanced report. It could withhold information vital to the safety and security of the United States and its allies, or it could provide a sweeping overview of our country’s position and stance on certain hot spots as they stand now.

Whether it be a full-bore detailed account or a perfunctory bullet-point Power Point presentation, however vague or detailed the White House wants the CIA to get with Mr. Trump’s briefing, there’s no doubt any information afforded the Donald would run out his non-stop mouth at exactly the wrong time and with exactly the right amount of empty-headedness that we have come to expect. In other words, like a four-year-old running around the house with a very sharp pair of scissors.

I hope to provide some re-assurance to our readers from across the planet that we Americans are a bit stunned that Trump has made it thus far, and that he is offered this unique opportunity to get in on the information base of the world’s darkest spooks.

When I read about this in Daily Kos, it was enough to make me email Eric and Amanda with concern about this CIA briefing rule. I had a tightness building in my chest. As a former intelligence expert said: “It’s not an unreasonable concern that he’ll talk publicly about what’s supposed to stay in that room.”

That concern was noted by the White House press corps when asking White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest about the issue: What information would President Obama allow to be shared with the US’s leading blowhard? Earnest referred to the response by National Intelligence Director James Clapper. Clapper had said, in response to a question from The Daily Beast at a meeting with reporters in Washington last week:

“We have already established a plan for briefing both candidates when they are named, and certainly after November when the president-elect is known, and it gets more intensive.”

Asked what precautions the intelligence community would take to ensure that any classified information the candidates received was not mishandled, Clapper said that the briefings, per custom, would be given in a secure facility wherever it was most convenient for the nominees, and according to their schedule. In 2008, Sen. Barack Obama was briefed by Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell at an FBI building in Chicago, the city where he also had his campaign headquarters.

Once a briefer is chosen to meet with the nominees, the intelligence director’s office will “oversee [the process] to ensure that everybody gets the same information and that we do comply with the needs to protect sources and methods and comply with security rules.”

The White House response did not provide any reassurance from Mr. Clapper’s response, and you have to wonder why.

Given Trump’s propensity for saying whatever the hell he wants — because God knows he’s safe on the 52nd floor of his huuuge Trump-built skyscraper and screw everybody else — it’s reasonable to believe that there HAS to be some sort of safeguard for the man who eschews the rules of propriety, decency and human compassion, let alone national security. Which leads me past the already fantastical reality presented in this article to a few conspiracy theories of my own.

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The Spring Reading is now published. You may order all 12 signs here or choose your individual signs here for immediate access. You may listen to a free audio introduction here now.

There’s a world of ratfuckery that the CIA has perpetrated on other political players — nationally and internationally — that they could also do to He-Who-Cannot-Be-Controlled.

It actually might be fun to sift through what the Donald will say about foreign policy post-briefing to see if there are trigger words, placed in his brain like some kind of Manchurian Candidate, that set off a campaign implosion or cause a national security risk.

He could well do that on his own, without the CIA’s help. Good God, he’s done it before. He’s doing damage to himself by just using his own lips.

Heaven help us for the repercussions when Donald opens his mouth — briefed or not. The adulation of crowds is a drug to a narcissist, who, when given the stage and the opportunity to be loved no matter what he says, can and will slip.

Good job, Republican Party, for introducing us to Sarah Palin in 2008 and for embracing the Tea Party in 2010. This is who we get because of it. Now, we have to send intention to the goddamned CIA, the national intelligence community AND especially the voters to make sure Mr. Stubby Fingers doesn’t press the red button, with his hands or his mouth. Even before and if heaven forbid he takes office.

This is a real Fe-911 — as in the call-in-case of emergency kind of 9-11 — signing off. See you in the comments.

The Cap

While enjoying last year’s Thanksgiving at my sister’s in-laws, the peril of the Trump campaign and potential presidency revealed itself.


While we were enjoying our pre-meal wine and appetizers in a lovely home in Oakland’s Piedmont hills, Sam, a bright young man in his early twenties, pulled a red trucker’s cap with its gold lettering: “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN”

“No.” That was the first word to come out of my mouth. “No, Sam,” I said, shaking my head. “You cannot be serious.”

He looked at me blankly. Suddenly I felt ill.

He said, “But he will make American great again!”

Who was I talking to here at the family dinner? I have watched our cousin Sam since he was a baby. My niece and nephew Nikko and Felicia played with him at my sister’s farm. Sam has since grown into a handsome young man who is earning his degree in international studies at the University of California in Santa Barbara. Fluent in Arabic, he spent last summer in the Middle East, and has a future in the diplomatic corps if he continues as he is.

All these facts swirled around my head, churning both head and gut into a bout of existential nausea when I heard our Sam — our brilliant, handsome Sam — utter the campaign slogan of “He Who Must Not be Named,” wearing the cap no less. And smiling.

I had to check in — was he kidding me? No. He seemed serious. He had a dismissive attitude towards the other candidates in both parties. I could understand why. But my adamant stance against Sam’s pronouncement was going against the unwritten, unspoken rule among my generation of family members: we do not squash, but listen to our kids’ opinions even when we disagree.

It took every measure of patience I had to climb down off the tree a little and calmly remind Sam that too many people, probably people that he knows already, will be hurt by what Trump does — or instigates other people to do. I reminded him that he should be familiar with Trump’s kind of demagoguery, if he’s studied world history as his major suggests. Voting for Trump certainly makes his Deadhead parents recoil.

I remember my own idealism at Sam’s age, and reminded myself that we created a world of shelter, safety and security that allowed kids like Nikko, Felicia and Sam the privilege to make whatever decisions they wanted — because they would not be affected by it. In raising these kids surrounded by comfort, stability and anticipated upward social mobility, perhaps what we neglected to do was involve them in the larger consequences of our choices and preferences.

 The Spring Reading is now published. Order all 12 signs here or choose your individual signs here for immediate access. You may listen to a free audio introduction here.

The Spring Reading is now published. You may order all 12 signs here or choose your individual signs here for immediate access. You may listen to a free audio introduction here now.

People we don’t see are hurt by the ramifications of our actions, our consumption and our economy. For a vast majority of us here and for the rest of the world, the choice of the U.S. President is, unfortunately, too important to decide cavalierly. People are hurt by our vote. We can see that more plainly and on an hourly basis through the Internet.

After Thanksgiving dinner, Sam and I talked about the situation in Turkey, comparing and contrasting Erdogan’s stance to Putin’s, and how we in the U.S. just don’t understand how the Middle East rolls. We don’t understand how the rest of the world rolls.

Even though I stopped pursuing our disagreement about Trump from earlier that evening, I felt quietly relieved that Sam is bright enough and thoughtful enough to consider the whole world in his own voting decisions — now and in the future. And, I am not going to be in the world long enough to watch what happens thirty to forty years from now. He will be. So will Nikko and Felicia.

But I won’t be helpless or inactive. I will make my decisions too. The world is still wide enough for all of us to form the dynamic that will break or make this world. There’s years to come where we’ll see what kind of world we will be creating — starting this year. For all our sakes, here and abroad, I hope it’s the latter. I want that feather in my cap before I go out.

Touching the Wound

I finally got some real down time and recouped sleep lost during two solid months of theatrical production. The dinner I planned for Brandon and his housemates, as I mentioned last week in “Too Close to Home,” went beautifully. I even cleaned out my refrigerator and I’m starting work on the closets.


This week has given me a chance to reflect, not only on Brandon’s recent episode with police, but also on how other parts of Brandon’s life will now be altered because of his recent experience.

Then I began to think about what happens silently, secretly, behind the closed doors of our homes and in the confines of family, starting from the very beginning of our lives. I began thinking on various forms of trauma experienced in this country by most at various stages in our lives and in various forms.

As dramaturg for the Medea Project, I have had experiences that were both challenging and deeply rewarding. Getting someone to write about what happened to them is hard enough. Getting them to write on “The History of My Body” is another.

“The History of My Body” is the recurring theme of our last big production — “Birthright?” — in collaboration with Planned Parenthood, which opened for a two-week run in 2015. The stories ranged from drug abuse and running away from home as a child, to swallowing and burying the experience of severe child abuse. This is what Cassandra, a core member of our company who we met through University of California San Francisco’s Women’s HIV clinic, wrote:

I don’t have a lot of memories from my childhood which I am thankful for, but the ones I do have are painful — flashbacks of my body being touched without my permission. Why were these men and my own brother doing this to me? Where was everyone? Where was my mother?

I was afraid. I thought this was all my fault. I thought I must have done something to encourage this. Was it really an attack because I knew them? Was it actually rape since they were my parents’ friends and my brother?

As a result, I became pregnant when I was 12, and had to have an abortion. My head was spinning and I was physically sick. My mind could not comprehend this. In order to cope, I blocked it out as if it never happened. I shut down completely and decided I would never tell anyone about it. I could feel my body and myself and they were not the same.

I found with the rape that my body healed, but my thought process and inner core were deeply damaged. I blamed myself. I hated myself. I became severely drug addicted. Physical wounds were just the beginning of my struggle. I have emotional scars I’m not sure will ever go away. I try to heal the inner wounds, but new ones are always opened in the process.

Questions that could never be answered hung over my head. I questioned things that I did in order to be put in that situation. As a survivor of child abuse, rape, domestic violence, with an adulthood overcoming drug addiction and living with HIV, I don’t think I will ever escape the emotional scars earned from a childhood of physical abuse. To this day, I will never understand why they did what they did. All I know is that on that night in that moment, they forever changed who I am and how I view the world.

I could feel my body and myself, and they were not the same.

It took a long time for me to get to where I am today. I now know that there was nothing I said or did that caused them to rape me. No matter how well I knew him, or what our prior history was, they were the ones who made the decision. Not me.

From what I have seen in twenty-five years working with at-risk women, the cyclic pattern of abuse/self-abuse is connected — not only for the victim, but also for the perpetrators. What happened to someone that caused them to do something so heinous as to rape a child?

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Find out what the Mars retrograde will mean for you in Eric’s 2016 Spring Reading. You may pre-order all 12 signs here for less than $40. Includes video readings!

For her own reasons, Cassandra did not do her piece for our “Birthright?” show in 2015. Since then she has mastered herself, and performed this piece recently in a short show we did last weekend under the theme “How I Cheated Death.”

Cassandra will also be doing it for our next show on trauma, the working title of which is “When Did Your Hands Become a Weapon?” She feels ready to exorcise this demon on stage. I am glad we’re there to provide her the safety net to do so.

Broadly speaking, there is the social trauma Americans are coping with from their treatment by the criminal justice system, and there’s the physical-psychological trauma that happens to young people of both sexes — including children and infants — in the home. I pose this question to you, our Planet Waves community: how far do you think the ramifications of trauma plays in our society, and ultimately out in the world? I think war and its havoc is not to be ruled out in this discussion.

I am asking this in the name of research for our next show, and to lay down some context based on Hexagram 37 from the I Ching — The Family, of which it is written: “The Family shows the laws operative within the household that, transferred to outside life, keep the state and the world in order.” Looking at our world today through the lens of experiencing trauma, how true is that? See you in the comments section.

What If…?

Let’s take this column with a grain of salt. But — and this is a big but — what if Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton put Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on the ticket as her Vice-President? This is a possibility I read about this morning on Talking Points Memo — the website published by Washington insider Josh Marshall, a credible expert on American politics.


The idea of a Hillary-Bernie ticket could be construed as speculation at this stage — called a weather balloon in politics — but it’s a high floating one, and its intent is quite visible to the naked eye: the idea was floated by Tad Devine, the Sanders’ campaign chief spokesperson.

You might say Devine’s suggestion is “desperation politics” and you might be right. After Super Tuesday, Clinton’s delegate lead looked insurmountable, 200 or more ahead of Sanders by conservative count. Even with Sanders’ wins yesterday, it still is. In order to surpass Clinton, Sanders would have to do better than 60% in the upcoming primaries. That is no small task.

Bernie seems to do well in states with mostly white populations, and his hold on the less populated states in the Northeast and Midwest is steady. He won New Hampshire, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Vermont and Maine. But Hillary has won Iowa (close tie), Nevada (close tie), Tennessee, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Virginia; and her delegate lead, assuming her super-delegates stay steady, puts her firmly in front.

The March 8 primaries include Michigan and Mississippi, states with heavily African-American populations. This is a demographic where Hillary is the strongest, and Sanders is having a hard time convincing this demographic of his sincerity. African-Americans form a principal backbone of the Democratic Party.

Conversely, Hillary has a problem convincing educated and progressive whites and young people, particularly Millennials, of her sincerity. Her ties to the banking industry, her 1% donors, and — let’s face it — her Neptunian proclivity to obfuscate instead of clarify her responsibility for her mistakes all leave her open to attack by her opponents. In short: emails.

Yet none, including the vicious Republican Benghazi Committee in Congress have been able to penetrate Clinton’s resolve. In the words of one panel member after her grueling hearing in October of last year: “She is formidable.” Most pundits, including Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos, project that by March 15, the Democratic candidate will be clearly identified. At this point that would be Mrs. Clinton.

Which begs us to peruse Mr. Devine’s “suggestion.”

1) The Supreme Court vacancy due to the death of Justice Antonin Scalia is THE fulcrum upon which the future direction of the country — extreme right of center or progressively leftward — hangs in the balance. In the event that President Obama cannot place his nominee on the bench because of GOP obstruction in the Senate, Democrats must win the White House AND a majority in the Senate. To confirm a SCOTUS justice who would tilt the court towards a more favorable climate for women’s reproductive freedom and towards separation of church and state, and ultimately overturn Citizen’s United, Democrats will need a Senate majority.

2) Like it or not, Hillary’s foreign policy experience matters. People in this Cancerian country like to feel safe, with a strongman/woman at the helm. There is still a large swath of our population suffering under the hangover of 9-11, and ISIS is the new (manufactured) enemy.

3) Bernie as a senator would be fine, but if his is an isolated voice in the Senate with no chance of a Democratic majority to give him back up, he would remain isolated. HOWEVER, as Vice-President in charge of presiding over a Senate with a Democratic majority or a tie because of “coattails” — the momentum to elect Democrats for congressional seats from a strong top ticket — his could be the deciding vote that would overcome a senate stalemate. There are currently 24 Senators up for re-election this year.


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4) Given the calculus of demographics favoring each candidate, the joint ticket would unite north and south, east and west of the country. The enthusiasm from young and old, people of color and whites could be tremendous.

5) As Eric pointed out to me, “Hillary needs guidance and a high-quality leash” to keep her in check. With Bernie’s populist message and the hopes of young people who would rather stay home than vote if he isn’t on the ticket, that could be a deciding factor in Hillary’s veep selection.

And, frankly, Bill should stay out of her ear as much as possible.

BUT, in order to win, as Moulitsas says, “all Democrats have to vote.” So we’re not off the hook. Mr. Devine’s “suggestion” does have merit — less so for keeping Sanders’ candidacy alive but more so for keeping the Democratic Party intact. Bravo.

Obama and Clinton laid down the hatchet and worked together to unite the party after a grueling and vicious primary season in 2008. Who’s to say that can’t happen again? But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s see what tomorrow’s primaries bring in the states of Michigan and Mississippi on the day of a massive eclipse. A lot can happen in the next 24 hours. Cross your fingers and breathe.