Lady Boomer NYC as Miss Piggy Puma, courtesy of Gary and Mawm
Our PUMA Anti-Convention
“So, how’d it go at the Democratic Convention?”
I get that a lot from my family and friends. They know I had been working the entire year to get Hillary Clinton elected President while “raging against the machine,” and that I was going to Denver to protest. I replied,
“Ummm . . . good. . . . I, I wasn’t really at The Convention.
We were like . . . the Anti-Convention!”
Post-Denver, although still mourning for what could have been, most hardcore, grassroots Hillary supporters have moved on — in one way or another. They know, or are deciding, what they will do with their votes and/or their efforts. Will they work for one campaign or other at the top, or just support down-ticket candidates? They are mulling over whether to: vote nothing on top, vote third party, write in Hillary’s name, stay home, or cast a protest vote for John McCain. For most, that would be their first Republican vote ever, and they do not take it lightly. The only reason they would do it is to protest Barack Obama and Democratic Party leaders who subverted the democratic process and 18 million voters.
But I can’t fully move on yet. This story is roiling around inside me, unwilling to be forgotten. One week plus is old news, past prime, but I keep getting these “little messages.” Last week I ran into my neighborhood Brazilian Café and struck up a conversation with husband and wife owners, Marcello and Juliet. I’d been socked away in my “Puma Den” for the last six months, making rich stove top espressos at home on the cheap.
Marcello asked, “I heaven’t seen you for a while. Where have you bean? What have you been doing?”
I hesitated protectively, having lived undercover using my handle for so long that I had to consciously produce my real name in my head before saying it. “Actually, I’ve been doing a lot of writing most of the year, political writing. Do you know what blogs are? I have a blog and contribute to other sites and efforts.”
They continued the conversation as they scurried about their business, “Oh really, and who were you supporting for President?”
My personal self gulped inside my political self having been so underground and divided, “Actually, I was supporting Hillary Clinton, working to get her elected. I still support her and believe she would make the best President.”
They both jumped to attention and gravitated back to the counter to face me, “Really? We’re for her too!”
(See why I can’t stop?) “That’s great,” I cooed, as I came clean, telling them about my blog and links to others, our efforts prior to and during Denver, and our work to ensure a roll call, a floor vote, and a record of the truth about this election.
They pointed out to me, “It’s just like 2000, Gore and Bush!”
“Right!” I answered, “and now from our own. It seems so much worse that way. Did you know that Democrats have a weird gene that makes them eat their own?”
They laughed. We talked about the delegates. They had seen the same things that Puma and Just Say No Deal Coalition members have been uncovering, observing, highlighting, and shouting about all year long: the subversion, bullying, and undemocratic processes. They could not believe when they saw the vote halted and delegates switched. “We voted. We went in and pulled the lever. Why should we even bother?”
“I KNOW. How do they do it in Brazil?”
“We vote. It gets recorded. Somebody gets elected. That’s it.”
“Wow, that simple. You mean one person one vote? I am committed to working for that in our country. And to think that our soldiers and young people, are dying in other countries to fight for a democracy that we don’t even have!”
As people began to line up, I moved to leave. They didn’t want me to go and would have continued.
Civic Center Park, Denver, CO
My Denver Surprise
The biggest revelation of my trip, despite everything we’d done all year and any possible outcomes we’d imagined, is that many people are only now becoming aware of the election. They have not heard the story of what really happened . . . or they saw something go by and didn’t quite believe their eyes . . . or they absorbed it and are slowly beginning to wake up.
To the young-looking 50 year-old Denver mom of two teens seated next to me on the outbound plane, who asked what I’d been doing there, and upon hearing it replied:
You know, my husband and I watched the Rick Warren town hall meeting with Obama and McCain. Did you see it? We heard Obama say something, and the day before he’d said the exact opposite. Well, we’re Christians, she intimated, implying they’re people of their word. I turned to my husband and said, ‘did you hear that?’
To the tattooed young performance artist, an Obama supporter, who listened respectfully as I carefully talked to him about what really happened in this election. To the young woman who listened intently, as we rode the uniquely silent electric shuttle.
To the Hillary delegate from a Hillary state, who was I “accidentally” seated next to after missing my connection due storms over Dallas. We chirped for the entire ride. She planned to cast her first ballot for Hillary, but then switch to Obama. I wonder now how she actually cast that ballot? She had a resolute personality, and, despite lots of grief from the black community, stood firm in her support of HRC. She did not agree, however, that the Superdelegates had endorsed too soon based on Party pressure. She thought they had merely done their jobs.
To the youth of all races and nationalities, whom I met traveling to Hillary events — especially the young African American women who had grown up in solidly Democratic households, their entire families dedicated to the Clintons, proudly displaying their photos on the wall. These strong young people felt bashed and abandoned by their peers and their Party, yet stood strong in their commitment, and decided to go work for McCain in early June before school started in the Fall. They did not tolerate well their heroes being thrashed.
If the media, blogs, the campaigns, and politicians have moved on, the electorate has not. The story isn’t finished — and to some, it hasn’t been told yet.
Maryland Puma and crew setting up headquarters
I’ll Meet You In Denver
I went to Denver to represent — myself, the movement, and you! Any of you who wanted to go but couldn’t for one reason or another, I was there for y-o-u. I hadn’t planned on going, but a friend encouraged me to do so, saying, “It’s an experience of a lifetime.” To tell you the truth, what with the pre-convention buzz about cages, warehouses, diarrhea-producing gas bombs, police in riot gear, and Recreate ’68, (being old enough to remember Chicago in 1968), I was scared to go.
Puma PAC‘s “Murphy” encouraged me to help with the live-blogger effort, lineup call-ins to the radio shows, protest, speak at The Beautiful Protest/The Rise, and contribute to our efforts in general — all my honor and pleasure.
No matter the immediate outcome, Pumas made a difference that is yet reverberating. We helped shape the conversation and message that played out in the media — locally, nationally, and internationally. I will continue to tell the stories that have not been told. I get why my bubbie (Yiddish grandma — yeah, Donna, I have one too), used to tell me bedtime stories of the Old Testament. Although I used to squirm like hell, by teaching them to me, they would not be lost.
Colorado State Capitol Building
Rocky Mountain High
Let me say that Denver is a beautiful city. I hadn’t been there, except to the airport hub. Well, unless I count the ride I got during the summer of 1970 when I was hitching and two cops picked me up. I was tripping at the time, but speaking well and remember it still. They asked me to describe what LSD was, why people took it, and why some kids were jumping out of windows. I did my best to describe things from my spiritual and honest 23 year-old viewpoint. They listened with interest and respect and dropped me off at my destination.
In yet another 2008 strange twist of fate, all my fears of being caged by the cops (sounds kinky, doesn’t it?) were allayed when the headquarters that Murphy found were directly across the street from Denver’s police station complex. They became our protectors, greeting us as we walked by, immediately realizing that we were not the ones they were looking for. Cops did confront some of the militant protesters at the Pepsi Center, trapping innocent bystanders in the fray. Due to hiring so damn many just in case, they seemed to have spent many stifling hours in riot gear in the midst of a heatwave.
Puma blogger pool
Puma PAC Headquarters: From Virtual To Reality
On Sunday, August 24, we were setting up headquarters, many of us meeting for the very first time after having been an active and energized virtual community on behalf of Hillary Clinton for the last six months. It was exciting! We were a busy beehive, with a plethora of media outlets looking to harvest honey. Bloggers set up their laptops into a computer bank, people made signs, set up and bought Hillary gear including, tee shirts, buttons, stickers, bracelets, and more. We talked about our upcoming events and schedules, and our ongoing efforts to have all the delegates’ votes counted properly at the Democratic National Convention. Isn’t that just an odd thing to have to write or say?
Puma PAC founder, Darragh Murphy, being interviewed
With news being produced so quickly, we were not watching it, we were making it! At any given time there were several media outlets from anywhere in the world at headquarters. We didn’t get to see the results of our efforts, but Charles Lemos at By The Fault captured some stories here. (Readers, please add links) PUMAS were the story of the Convention. How could we NOT be? We were the unpredictable — as Murphy says, “the ones no one was expecting!”
Sunday ended with the movie premiere of “The Audacity of Democracy,” which recounts the systematic corruption of the democratic process in the 2008 Democratic primary election. This fabulous Puma PAC event was attended by local, national, and international press, and Puma/Just Say No Deal coalition members.
Puma protester being interviewed on the march
Marching To MSNBC
Monday, August 25, we held our protest march through the 16th Street Mall, a beautiful outdoor walking mall lined with restaurants and shops. It was hotter than hell in Denver, and people were in for the Convention, so the place was packed like on a weekend. We were joined all along the route by dozens and dozens of reporters, who had to keep pace with us to get their story or photos. I was joined by a well-suited young man from WA. I’d handed him a Puma HQs flier and asked him to join us after he declared he was a Hillary delegate. He stayed with us all the way, never removing his jacket and tie despite the heat.
Hundreds of people rose out of their patio chairs, ran out of restaurants, and stopped whatever they were doing to jump up and capture our protest. Professional photographers and videographers appeared out of nowhere. Cars and trucks would honk ‘n wave. We were seen and noted. My sense was that no matter which side was observing us, we appeared as a force, a committed phenomenon, as if, “there go those Pumas we’ve been hearing about.”
As we reached our destination, MSNBC’s outdoor media stage at Union Station, they were preparing for Chris Matthews and Mike Barnacle to broadcast. We Were the Action and the crew began to turn around their huge camera and 10-foot boom to capture us, as we declared,
No more bullying! Count our votes! Stop delegate intimidation!
Although they were equal in people power and had some loud guy voices, Obama supporters were no match for us as they tried to shout us down. All they could do was insert a “get over it” or “he won” on the off-beat.
Pagan Power stirs up the heavens (yes, folks, Pagan’s a guy)
Speaking Our Purpose, Envisioning the Future
That evening “The Beautiful Protest/The Rise event,” was held in Cheesman Park. Sponsored by Puma PAC, it featured speakers, including Dr. Saharra Bledsoe, riverdaughter, and many others including yours truly.
In the 1960s, I was compelled to help build a spiritual community/commune, and devote my life to a vision and mission larger than myself, for sake of creating a better world. It was the only clear path I could choose. At the time I felt, how could I not? In this 2008 election year, I was also compelled in that same way — to speak out for Hillary and our country. How could I not?
People have died for democracy, for the right to have a voice in their government. When one-half of the maternal side of my family — everyone but my grandma and her aunt — was exterminated in Nazi Germany because people stayed silent in the face of injustice, how could I not speak up in a free country? How could I witness these present day acts and remain silent? I can no more support a stolen election perpetrated by my own party than I could in 2000.
Beyond Obama & Co.’s shallow, copycat, wavering policies, demeaning primary season conduct, and perpetration of misogyny, the source of my continued protest and conscientious objection is the complete subversion of Fair Reflection.
BJ, Sheri, and Robin
You Still Have Friends?
The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us . . . that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
— President Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Nov. 19, 1863
I am not equating our struggle with the brave, momentous Civil War, nor suggesting that we freed slaves, nor that death occurred — unless you count the democratic process. However, the principles of our cause are serious, and we are dedicated to preserving our government by and for the people. Families and friends are similarly, painfully divided. I basically live in the closet with my leanings, avoiding mental-emotional reprisals from family and friends. My grown kids think I’ve lost half my mind.
We were in Denver to make sure that the winning candidate, Hillary Clinton, and the 18 million voters who cast their vote for her were represented. We were there to bear witness to the way our votes had been distorted and the people’s good will had been intentionally manipulated and discarded, and the way the winning candidate was abandoned and abused by her Party. And for what? Money? Power?
Can you remember any election — and I can’t in my baby boomer lifetime — when you were afraid to walk down the street for fear of being pushed, punched, stomped, shouted at, had a finger shoved in your face, your sign torn from your hands or your front lawn? For what? Because you wore a tee shirt, button, or carried a sign in support of a political candidate? I’m undercover, but many Pumas are not, and found themselves treated thusly. Can you remember when caucuses and voter registration drives were rife with coercion and pressure from within one’s own Party? Can you remember a woman, former First Lady, sitting Senator, or Presidential candidate who was treated with such disrespect?
WomenCount.org’s Jehmu Green
On Tuesday, August 26, 2008, we had to decide between several events because Hillary was scheduled to be at a few leading up to her convention speech that evening. I began with the DNC Women’s Caucus, attended by thousands of women, and heard Donna Brazile praise Obama and talk about her momma, Clinton loyalist Tina Flournoy eulogize Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Emily’s List President, Ellen Malcolm, and the Catharine Harris-like, slithering, Alice Germond also spoke.
We left after hearing that Hillary would be speaking at two luncheons that day, reasoning that she likely wouldn’t attend the praise Obama Women’s Caucus. With four events at once, instead of donning white outfits for the Rise Hillary Rise 160th Suffragette Anniversary walk, we opted for the WomenCount.org luncheon with Hillary and other Democratic women leaders. Congresswoman, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, who had died suddenly the week prior, had helped conceive of the luncheon and was to appear with Hillary. Stephanie was remembered for her strong spirit and support of women.
Chelsea Clinton appreciating her mom
We were all delighted to attend, and those of us with tickets were allowed to bring in other guests, so all were accommodated. The mood was generous. To me, this spirit was a continuation of the embodiment of Hillary’s campaign. She received resounding appreciation and expressed hers to us. Women candidates, including Jean Shaheen and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, spoke, Chelsea appeared with Hillary. I connected with Sheila Jackson Lee, met Alice Palmer who got Obama into politics before he threw her under the bus, and introduced myself to Women Count’s Jehmu Green.
Several of us then visited the “300 Petition” suite, an effort by the energetic and committed Michele Thomas and John West. On top of that petition, they were now organizing a new 20% petition, (826 of delegates), whose signatures were needed to ensure a roll call vote according to DNC rules. Several of our group hit the streets with that petition, and I returned to headquarters to blog about it.
Hillary Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention
August 26, 2008
Code Pumpkin: Hillary Makes History Again
That evening as we watched intently at Puma Headquarters, Hillary spoke eloquently and wore a pumpkin-colored silk pantsuit, the same colors as Women Count.org. It was the historic 160th anniversary of women’s suffrage. She quoted riverdaughter’s phrase “the sisterhood of the traveling pantsuits!” We delighted in that she’d been listening, and was responding and giving a h/t to our support and efforts. It was code.
On Wednesday afternoon, we ran down to the Hillary-friendly bar to watch the unexpectedly early, orchestrated, sham roll call vote on the Convention floor. We watched in amazement as CA, NM, and IL yielded, and Hillary threw her and NY State’s support to Obama. WTF? That evening, we again ran down to see Bill Clinton give his speech. My impression of the usually impassioned Bubba was that the words were there, but his characteristically pink face looked pale, his underlying demeanor was tepid.
What We Used To Call Home
Many Pumas left for home on Wednesday evening and Thursday, not wanting to subject themselves to the DNC’s Mile High spectacular embarrassment.
pieces of what
when the world has turned
paralyzed and wrong
cold blooded claws
never offered anything at all
past the point of love
shattered and untied
waiting to pick up the pieces
that make it all alright
but pieces of what
pieces of what
pieces of what
doesn’t matter any more
moonlight on my floor
shining through the roof
they got the city surrounded
as if I needed proof
i forgot my fear
feelings on the rise
burying all of the pieces
falling from the sky
but pieces of what
pieces of what
pieces of what
we used to call home
pieces of what
we used to call home
when i drank your tea
and shallow water still
at the belgian gates
i waited for my meal
On September 2, 2008, I published Null and Void, a comparison and analysis of the 2008 Presidential delegate count vs. the roll call vote at the Convention. A delegate added a comment that the vote commenced an hour earlier than planned. There were some delegations and Edwards delegates that had even tried to change their votes to Hillary but were not allowed to do so, with deadlines being constantly changed. Alegre has cross-posted Part 1 from Ricki Lieberman’s Electability Watch email accounts by delegates and others. Sheri Tag on her 9/7/08 PUR (Puma United Radio) show, “No We Won’t,” and Riverdaughter also expose more of what the delegates were subjected to by the Obama campaign.
The hollowing out of what was formerly known as the Democratic Party was as complete as that of a Halloween pumpkin. The Party we used to call home had kicked us out, and only now are they beginning to notice they miss us.
The thing is, like Hillary, we’re a bunch of fighters! Beyond a common goal to expose the unparalleled injustice, fraud, and misogyny of the 2008 primaries starting at the top, we are committed to reforming The System and MSM. (I can’t believe how Repub that sounds, but it goes for both parties.) Our diligence in Denver of purrs, prowls, pounces, and growls left their mark on the world, and are reverberating in the difficult descent of Obama. Hillary said all along that she was the one who could win the electoral college. History will show that she was right.
I am not bitter, I am better — Betty’s Chevie
[cross-posted from The Confluence]
[h/t to V for his awesome audio assistance]