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Dear Alice and Don, Please refund my tax dollars

Dear Mr. Fowler and Ms Germond,

I was disappointed to see that two months of our steady demands for recognition have not yielded results.  Indeed, your latest missive to we few “shrieking bands of paranoid holdouts” indicates that you still do not understand the dilema you have created within the ranks of the Democratic party.  Let me try to describe this to you slowly.

By February 5th of this year, Senator Clinton had won MI, FL, NY, NJ, CA, MA, AZ, TN, NM and AR as well as several other states.  In any other year, the contest would have been over.  Senator Obama would have graciously conceded defeat.  This year was different because more weight was given to states for which we haven’t a prayer of winning in November and Hillary had no prayer of winning in February and March.  And yet, you and your Rules and Bylaws committee persisted in withholding delegates from Clinton, killing her momentum.  Not only that, but you awarded mysterious, non-voters to Senator Obama in MI while ignoring all of the real voters in the caucus states who were unable to leave work or other responsibilities to vote for Clinton during a few precious hours.

But that is not what bothers me the most about your incredibly ill-advised letter.  The thing that bothers me the most is that as a New Jersey resident with a gifted child, I am struggling to find an appropriate educational setting for her.  This kid could be the next Edison or Andrew Wyeth but much to my dismay, the state of NJ allocated no money to gifted and talented education this year.  The individual districts are left with mandates but no funds.  There is no gifted and talented curriclum advisor in my district.  The gifted and talented teachers who are trained in the subject of these exceptional children are instructed to teach them social studies.  Math, science and other subjects are left to the discretion of the regular classroom teachers who are not aware of the eccentricities of the gifted child, their over excitabilities and their peculiar study habits.  As a result, some of these children are misdiagnosed each year as ADHD.  My own nephew dropped out of school after years of being categorized as a problem child.  He is now working as a security guard.  His IQ has been measured at 160+.

So, what does this have to do with the election?  Everything.  My state of NJ paid millions of dollars to have a primary.  I dutifully voted in that primary for Hillary Clinton.  In fact, all of the states I mentioned previously voted decisively for Hillary Clinton.  And now you are telling me to shut up, sit down and support a candidate that did not win my state.  A candidate whose name will be placed in nomination over the person who *did* win my state.  A candidate who took the ill-gotten delegates from MI who were offered to him even though he earned none of them, who took delegates who belonged to his opponents.  A candidate who does not represent my sense of fairness and ethical behavior.  A candidate who failed to defend the fourth amendment on FISA legislation, who fails to comment on the Bush administration rule redefining birth control as abortifacients, who grandstands in Europe.  A man who willfully robbed my daughter of money that might have paid for a real gifted and talented education coordinator for my state and the money to fund programs.

You are saying to me that I forked over my tax money for a sham primary.  That is what your letter is saying.  Your party has perpetrated a fraud on the states that conducted primaries and voted decisively for Hillary Clinton.  The convention hasn’t been held yet but you have pre-determined the outcome and have stripped my vote of any meaning.  This is the message you are sending to me and others.

Think very carefully if this is the message you meant.  God help you if you really mean it.


Riverdaughter at The Confluence.

The Pre-Convention PUMA Conference

Hi, guys,

I am copying this shamelessly from PUMAPac but I think that’s OK.  Here are the details for the Pre-Convention PUMA Conference:

Marriott Wardman Hotel

Washington, D.C.

August 8 – 10, 2008

Dear PUMAs,

The 2008 PUMA Conference Committee is ready to ROAR with these incredible conference deals! For the amazing (and we mean that sincerely) price of $250, you will receive the following:

–  Lodging at a FIVE STAR hotel – the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C. for THREE nights (Thursday, Friday and Saturday)

–  Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday.

–  Lunch on Saturday.

–  AND it also includes the price of the conference itself.

Mind boggling, crazy good isn’t it?

Registration will open tomorrow at 12noon PST at:



After the first 250 people register at the $250 price, IT IS GONE.  As we are under tight time constraints with the hotel for numbers and commitment at this time, once you register there will be NO refunds. (Please reread that sentence before you register.)

1.  YES we have a registration offer if you’re local or not planning to stay at the hotel.  If you would like to attend without the hotel room, the price is $150 (or if you aren’t one of the first 250 to register).

2.  YES we welcome vendors.  If you would like to have a “vendor table,” you may do so (we reserve the right to determine if your organization is a good fit).   We have 30 slots open for $100 per table.

3.  YES we need sponsors.  If you’re interested, please email us immediately at PUMAConference@yahoo.com.

4.  YES you will have an opportunity to volunteer – you can do so during the registration process.

5.  YES we are still working on how folks can participate via the internet (Just Say NO DEAL) and radio.  Details will follow late next week.

Email us with any questions at pumaconference@yahoo.com.

READY?  So are we!  Meet you in D.C!

~  PUMA Conference Committee

Now, Conflucians, if you must pick a place to go this summer, choose Denver.  We will do everything in our power to make sure you are are included in this conference in DC even if you can’t be there in person.  But if you *can* attend, please register ASAP.  The conference rate is spectacular.  We’re still scratching our heads over how we snagged such a sweet deal.  Maybe it’s because we’re returning to the scene of the crime and there’s some kind of cosmic justice in that.

The Confluence has been graciously volunteered to lead workshops on blogging.  If you have any suggestions as to what these workshops should include for 1.) covering the PUMA movement 2.) Covering Denver and 3.) planning for the future, please leave your ideas in the comments.

Meet Me In Denver with Darragh Murphy and Friends

Set your batchannels for tonight’s premier of Meet Me In Denver with Darragh Murphy and Friends on the NQR network of Blogtalkradio.

I’m predicting that Darragh will be discussing the details of the rally in Denver including how to arrange to get on a bus.  She will probably also be discussing what is being planned for a pre-Denver PUMA conference to be held in DC on August 8-10.  And there’s lots more.

The party starts at 9:00pm EST.

You know, Darragh made a good point about friends the other day in Princeton.  Who are Obama’s friends?  We know that Bill and Hillary have thousands of them.  Some of them have been lifelong friends.  Mack McClarty and Vince Foster had been Bill’s friends since elementary school.  Hillary too has a coterie of friends she has known since she was a girl.  Loyal friends who share mutual admiration and respect for her.

But who are Obama’s friends? Who knows him, vouches for him, is loyal to him?  Where are the FOBs for Barack?

Oh, man, this is going to be one LONG campaign season

So, I get to Linda’s campaign office late.  I have another throbbing headache and it took me longer to get there than I anticipated.  There’s only one person in the office, everyone else is canvassing.  He sets me to work phone banking.  Conflucians, I’ll do just about anything for a candidate but I absolutely LOATHE phone banking.  Yes, I’ve done it.  Called hundreds of people in PA and NJ.  Done the scripts, multiple scripts, winged it, left messages.  But for every person I reach, the next name on the list gets that much harder to deal with.  I get relatively few negative results.  I don’t know what it is about a phone that makes me want to hide under a desk but the tension builds the longer I have to do it.  Usually, I manage to quell my anxiety with a bit of downtime every 5 calls or so. There’s something about a phone that just feels wrong.  I’ve never been a phone person.  Text and face to face are fine but phones drive me crazy.  But anyway, I’m rambling.  It’s just my least favorite activity.  It’s a necessary evil.

The phone banking was an endless series of message machines this afternoon.  I guess I should be grateful but the longer I got used to leaving messages, the more rattling to the nerves that first voice contact.  So, I asked Jorge if there was something else I could do.  He asked me to bundle door hangars.  Calming, menial, went well with headache.  That’s when I spotted my first Obama sign.  It was inevitable.  Linda shares her office with the state Democratic campaign.  Of *course* there were going to be Obama signs.

My reaction was visceral. I can’t help it.  It’s a physical reaction.  I want to sink my teeth into it and rip it to tiny bits. I can’t stand the coca-cola Obama symbol.  I made some comment to Jorge about the sign like, are Linda and Obama campaigning together?  He said the office was joint and anyway, he was the nominee.  Ooo, did that set me off.  He is NOT the nominee.  The convention hasn’t been held yet.  Jorge said something like, it’s going to happen, get used to it.  I replied, not if *I* can do anything about it.  (More on viscera and the like from Heidi Li who gave a talk this morning at the 160th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Conference on Women’s Rights.  In 160 years, all we’ve earned is the right to vote for whoever the men pick.  Makes me want to take down an antelope.)

A few minutes later, Travis came in.  Jorge went to him and they had a conversation that I heard bits of.  Sounded like, “Hillary supporter”, “nominee”, “that makes no sense”.  Basically, I am a batshit crazy Hillary deadender who won’t get with the program.  Guys, I might be an ancient, uneducated, woman, but if you’re going to talk about me, make sure you’re out of range of my hearing aid.  Whoops!  That wasn’t my hearing aid, it was my Bluetooth.

Jorge, Travis, if you’re reading this, pay attention:  Obama is NOT the nominee.  He is just a candidate.  He doesn’t have enough pledged delegates to win.  He needs superdelegates just like Hillary would.  The pledged delegate count is essentially even and the only reason Obama is ahead is because he got awarded unearned delegates in MI and more delegates in caucus states that is warranted by their sparse populations.

Now, you can keep saying that we should get used to it and that it’s over but if Hillary’s name is not entered in nomination at the convention in Denver as it should for someone who has as many pledged delegates as she has, then Obama is not a legitimate nominee, as far as I and millions like me are concerned.  You can follow Obama to defeat in November for all we care.  That’s what’s going to happen.  Get used to it.

In the meantime, I’m campaigning for Linda only.  I will not lift a finger or read a script that has anything Obama in it. The minute anyone suggests that I do, I’m outta there.

BTW, what kind of sick thing has this election season turned into when I actually WANT Sean Hannity to take on Barack Obama?  Sean Hannity would be stupid to make such an offer to Hillary.  We’ve seen what she did to Bill O’Reilly.  But Obama?  That’s something I would pay HBO premium prices to see.

One more thing:  I don’t know of any other term for a black hole.  It is both an astronomical term and a phrase that is used so frequently that most of us don’t give it a second thought.  Colloquially, it just means a place where things disappear and that are never seen again.  The gravitational pull for important things that are lost forever is a black hole.  I’ve used that phrase before and never knew I was a racist.  But until someone can come up with a better name for a black hole, I’m going to have to stop using the term unless I am refering very specifically to the astronomical event and nothing else.  Oddly enough, I have also found myself editing words like Oreo and zebra.  I’m not kidding.  In the sentence above, the first animal I wanted to take down was a zebra.  It’s all of those damn MUtual of OMaha footages with Marlin Perkins that come to mind when a lion stalks its prey.  I just keep seeing zebras but now I realize that it is a no-no.  Someone is sure to cut and paste it into a “Riverdaughter is a racist” page of examples.  This is ridiculous and is making true racism meaningless.  Obama needs to stop it or he’s doing African-Americans real harm.

A Bittersweet Experience

As some of my regular readers know, I am a professional singer as well as a politics-obsessed bloggista. Last night, I was privileged to sing in a Concert for Life, sponsored by the Project People Foundation. The experience left an indelible impression on me.

My part in the concert was small: I was there as a “backup” for the Cantor at the temple where I sing. (That temple has long been a partner in PPF’s efforts). The rest of the time, I was able to sit, snack, and enjoy the other performers. And what a show it was!

Project People Foundation is dedicated to improving the lives of impoverished and AIDs-scourged South Africans. To highlight this focus, PPF opened the concert with performances from South Africans who are part of the cast of The Lion King. They danced and sang with amazing energy, skill and passion. Then, an absolutely phenomenal gospel group sang several pieces that were so inspiring, they almost convinced me to convert. (Oy!) In the middle of all of this was a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday, complete with a gorgeous cake.

Finally, the gospel choir closed with a knockout performance of “We Shall Overcome,” with the first verse sung in Hebrew to honor the Temple’s participation. The entire room stood up and held hands spontaneously. It was incredibly moving to touch strangers and colleagues in such a comfortable way, and sing along with that ultimate anthem of faith and resolve.

That was the sweet, and how sweet it was.

And now, for the bitter.

Continue reading

Saturday: The forgotten

The presidential primary season and the drama that attended it has stretched for so long that some of us may have forgotten that there are other campaigns going on around the country.  Here in NJ-07, there is an excellent opportunity to pick up a house seat with Linda Stender.  I want to play a clip for you to show you just how special Linda is.  This is from her 2006 debate against Rep. Mike Ferguson where she presents her closing statement:

Ohhhh, yeah! Tell it, Linda!  In 2006, Linda came within 4000 votes of beating Ferguson’s ass.  I canvassed and phone banked for her that year and we *almost* pulled it out.  If Rahm Emmanuel hadn’t sunk so much of the DCCC money in places where the chances were slimmer, who knows if Linda might have won?  She got precious little help on her campaign from the nationals until the very end.  This district’s popuation is dense (in more ways than one) and to lose by less than 4000 votes is a triumph in itself but also a heartbreaking result.  It didn’t have to be.

Anyway, Linda’s campaign asked me to put in some time at her office today so that’s where I’m headed this morning.  Maybe there are PUMAs there.  We’ll see.  You can donate to Linda Stender’s campaign here. Oh, one more thing.  Despite our population size and supposed gender equity in NJ, the NJ Delegation to Congress doesn’t have one, even one female member out of 13 Representatives and 2 Senators.  Let’s do something about this.  It’s embarrassing.  Here’s one of her latest ads: “Working Hard *should* mean getting ahead”.  Ooo, who does she sound like?  No, no, don’t tell me…let me think…

In the meantime, we’ve gotten a few comments from Green party activists at The Confluence.  One commenter in particular is lamenting that PUMA is dissing someone who wants to talk about primary reform on blogtalkradio.  Look, guys, it’s not that I’m not sympathetic but blogtalkradio is like blogs in general. The barrier to starting your own show is very low. There is no reason why you have to depend on PUMA to be heard. I suspect their reluctance to interview is based on a couple of things:

  1. Your take on the primary system is widely shared. In fact, there have been several bloggers who have gone into quite a bit of detail on the subject. If *I* were planning a show on the primary system, I would interview anglachel, a political science guru.  She wrote about this very subject in (Wonk) the Primary Vote back in March. The level of detail, insight and thoroughness on the subject puts everyone else’s take I’ve read to shame.
  2. I may be wrong here but you appear to be a fan of the Green party. PUMAs are not Greens. They are Democrats or former Democrats. We’re not interested in Green party dynamics. Sorry. Your candidates so far have been a little fringey. Nader and McKinney come to mind. Going to the Greens would be little different than voting for Obama. In Obama’s case, the ideologues are zealously screaming for CHANGE!, whatever that’s supposed to mean, while with the Greens, the ideologues are zealously screaming for dumping everything in the current system that many Americans now rely on, like corporations for jobs and gas powered engines and stuff like that. The point of the PUMA movement is that change doesn’t happen by ideology alone. The ideologues can’t simply grab the reins of power and impose their vision of the world on the rest of us. They have to be able to work hard and sometimes with their enemies. I don’t see that either the Greens or Obamarama have abandoned their belief in magical thinking. I object to parties composed of people who demand an unattainable degree of purity from human beings. I’m a rational person. I think most PUMAs are.

So, there you have it. If you feel miffed at the PUMAs because they won’t invite you to talk on their radio programs, start your own. If you can’t find an audience, don’t blame the PUMAs. Maybe we just don’t like the message.

In other news:

  • Don’t forget to set your dials tonight for blogtalkradio’s newest addition, Meet Me in Denver with Darragh Murphy and Friends.  You can listen here tonight at 9PM EST.
  • The Denver Group has written a letter to Howard Dean.  It seems the Deanster has acknowledged our troublemaking activities.  To summarize the point of the letter, a roll call vote in Denver with Hillary’s name on it is insufficient and merely symbolic.  In order for the roll call vote to be a valid expression of the will of the voters and their delegates, Hillary’s name must be nominated.  That is, someone has to go to the mike and say, “I so-and-so ask that Hillary Clinton be nominated for POTUS” or something to that effect.  If only Obama is nominated, it won’t matter if Hillary’s name is on the ballot.  Only one name will count- Obama’s.  Now, Dean is busily flim-flamming people on TV to make it sound all tickety-boo and get the Hillary supporters to shut up and sit down.  Nah-gah-happen, Howie,  Not until we see the schedule of events that say: Speaker X to introduce Hillary Clinton’s name into nomination for POTUS.  Must be signed in Donna’s blood. preferably voluntarily.
  • Heidi Li is promoting the 160th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Conference on Women’s Rights this weekend.  Check it out.

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