POLITICS, CONSCIENCE, CATHOLICISM, CONTRACEPTION, TRUMP – AND ME

 

 

mimikennedyspeechimage

 

Huntsville, Alabama – May 4th, 2017

 

I WAS REALLY NERVOUS, HAVING TO WRITE THIS SPEECH. I WAS FIRST ASKED TO GIVE IT IN MAY 2017 FOR A DEMOCRATIC WOMEN’S CLUB.  IN ALABAMA.  I HADN’T SPOKEN PUBLICLY ON POLITICS SINCE THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP IN 2016. I KNEW I’D BE ADDRESSING WOMEN – DEMOCRATIC WOMEN.  BUT ALABAMA! WERE THEY CAUTIOUS OR KICK-ASS? PART OF ME JUST WANTED TO BEGIN BY LEADING THEM ALL IN  A PRIMAL SCREAM.

I DISCOVERED THAT HUNTSVILLE, WHERE THE CLUB WAS, HAS THE HIGHEST PER CAPITAL RATIO OF PH.D’S TO POPULATION IN THE WORLD, BECAUSE NASA IS BASED THERE.  SO, AS ONE OF OUR GREATEST FIRST LADIES MODELED,  I DECIDED TO “AIM HIGH.” WHETHER MY AUDIENCE WANTED TO HEAR ABOUT MY ACTING OR MY ACTIVISM, I DECIDED I’D COMBINE BOTH.

MY FAVORITE THING EVER SAID ABOUT MY PROFESSION WAS WHAT SEAN PENN ONCE SAID AT A POLITICAL FUNDRAISER:  “AT LEAST WHEN WE’RE ACTING WE KNOW WE’RE LYING.”

WHEN I SPEAK ON POLITICS, I’M SPEAKING AS MYSELF.  SO I DECIDED I HAD TO TALK ABOUT HONESTY – AND THE FORMATION OF POLITICAL CONSCIENCE. AS A CHILD, MY CONSCIENCE WAS FORMED BY WHAT I WAS TOLD WAS RIGHT AND WRONG, ACCORDING TO MY PEOPLE’S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS.  AS I GREW, EXPERIENCE TAUGHT ME WHAT HELPED AND WHAT HURT.  SOMETIMES BELIEF AND EXPERIENCE TAUGHT CONFLICTING THINGS TO MY CONSCIENCE. IT HAPPENS TO US ALL – THAT’S WHAT BLAKE’S ‘SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE’ ARE ABOUT.  WHEN THAT HAPPENS, IT TAKES  WISDOM AND STRENGTH – AND COMPASSION – TO STAY POLITICALLY INVOLVED.

BUT WE HAVE NO CHOICE, AS AMERICANS WITH FREE SPEECH – AT LEAST FOR NOW.  AND WE MUST USE IT, FOR THE SAKE OF OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE AND THE PLANET’S. BECAUSE NOTHING LESS IS AT STAKE.

PEOPLE ASK ME WHY I USE THE TERM “PROGRESSIVE”. WHAT’S WRONG WITH ‘LIBERAL’ THEY ASK, WHY CAN’T I JUST SAY I’M A LIBERAL? AND MY ANSWER IS THAT THE RIGHT WING WON THAT WORD-WAR WHEN LIBERALS WEREN’T, APPARENTLY, PAYING ENOUGH ATTENTION. IT BECAME EQUATED WITH ‘LIBERTINE’  – SEXUAL PROMISCUITY – AND LIBERAL SPENDING, SQUANDERING OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY, ESPECIALLY HARD-EARNED TAX DOLLARS. TOO OFTEN, DEMOCRATIC POLITICIANS SEEMED OBLIVIOUS – AND ACTED IN WAYS TO PLAY RIGHT ALONG.

I DIDN’T WANT TO WASTE TIME ON THE WORD-WAR. AND I THOUGHT PROGRESSIVE WAS A WORD WE COULD DEFINE – AS BELIEVING IN THE FUTURE AND BEING WILLING TO PROGRESS TOWARDS IT. THE REPUBLICANS ARE FURIOUS, BECAUSE THEY CONSIDER IT THEIR OWN PROPERTY, COURTESY OF TEDDY ROOSEVELT, THOUGH THEY WEREN’T READY TO RESURRECT IT YET.  THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA IS STILL TIMID ABOUT USING IT, EXCEPT COMBINED WITH BERNIE SANDERS.

BUT I BELIEVE IT’S ESTABLISHED: PROGRESSIVES BELIEVE IN THE FUTURE AND ARE WORKING TO MAKE PROGRESS TOWARDS IT, WHICH MEANS CONSENSUS, COOPERATION — AND CARING.

I THINK A LOT OF THE DIRE STATE OF OUR NATION AND POLITICS HAS TO DO WITH DESPAIR. PEOPLE FEEL A LACK OF CARING ABOUT BASIC NEEDS. AND THE FUTURE THEY WERE TAUGHT TO BELIEVE IN FAILED THEM. THE AMERICAN DREAM THAT EACH GENERATION WOULD DO BETTER THAN ITS PARENTS – GONE. ARE WE TO BLAME? THEN WE DESERVE SHAME. THE MILLENNIUM CAME AND WENT – NO ARMAGEDDON, NO RAPTURE. OR THE RAPTURE DID HAPPEN AND WE’RE LEFT BEHIND, WHICH MEANS WE’RE NOT AS GOOD AS WE THOUGHT WE WERE, SO WHY TRY ANYMORE? LET’S END THE SUSPENSE: BRING ON THE APOCALYPSE!

IF EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVED TURNS OUT TO BE A LIE, MAYBE IT’S OKAY TO LIE TO EVERYBODY ABOUT EVERYTHING. AT LEAST YOU GET AHEAD ON EARTH THAT WAY. AND THESE DAYS, WITH LIARS GETTING RICH, IT SEEMS ALMOST IRRESPONSIBLE NOT TO JOIN IN, SO YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR KIDS A LITTLE MATERIAL WEALTH IN A WORLD FULL OF COMPETITION FOR SCARCE RESOURCES.   

WELL, AS THE NATIVE AMERICANS POINT OUT, WHEN THE LAST RIVER IS POISONED AND THE LAST TREE IS CUT DOWN, IT’LL BE TOO LATE TO FIND OUT YOU CAN’T EAT MONEY.

AS AN ACTRESS, I LIE PROFESSIONALLY. BUT AS SEAN POINTED OUT, EVERYONE KNOWS THAT’S WHAT I’M DOING. IT’S AN OUTLET FOR ME, FOR MY IMAGINATION – BECAUSE IN REAL LIFE, I AM AN ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE LIAR – I JUST CAN’T DO IT.  

MY FIRST SPANKING WAS FOR LYING – IF IT HAPPENED TO YOU, RAISE YOUR HAND.

I EMERGED FROM SNEAKING CANDY IN THE KITCHEN AND MY FATHER HAPPENED TO BE STANDING THERE. I WAS ABOUT FOUR OR FIVE, AND I MUST HAVE LOOKED LIKE ONE GUILTY PUPPY, BECAUSE HE ASKED WHAT I’D BEEN DOING. I CONFESSED: EATING CANDY. HE ASKED IF SOMEONE GAVE ME PERMISSION AND THAT MADE A LIGHTBULB GO OFF IN MY HEAD. I COULD GET OUT OF TROUBLE IF I SAID I HAD PERMISSION! I TOLD HIM THE BABYSITTER GAVE ME PERMISSION. UNFORTUNATELY FOR ME THE BABYSITTER WAS STILL IN THE HOUSE AND MY LAWYER-FATHER CALLED HER TO THE WITNESS STAND.

SHE SAID NO, SHE’D GIVEN NO PERMISSION. AND I UNDERWENT A RITUAL I’LL NEVER FORGET. IT DIDN’T PHYSICALLY HURT. IT JUST LET ME KNOW HOW IMPORTANT HONESTY WAS, TO MY FATHER. AND THAT HE DIDN’T EXPECT ME TO LIE. EVER.

TOP THAT OFF WITH THE FACT THAT MY FIRST GROWN-UP PLAY  WAS “SPIDER’S WEB” AT THE COMMUNITY THEATER, AN AGATHA CHRISTIE WHODUNIT IN WHICH A CHARACTER QUOTES THAT LINE FROM SIR WALTER SCOTT ‘OH WHAT A TANGLED WEB WE WEAVE WHEN FIRST WE PRACTICE TO DECEIVE’ — 

— AND YOU HAVE WHAT I GLEANED FROM EXPERIENCE: I WAS ON NOTICE TO KEEP A BRIGHT WHITE LINE BETWEEN BEING MYSELF AND PRETENDING TO BE SOMEONE ELSE. SO WHEN I WAS MYSELF, I NEEDED TO BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT WHAT I WAS SAYING, AND TRY TO BE AS HONEST AS I COULD.

 

SO LET’S START WITH A BIG QUESTION EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW THE TRUTH ABOUT, ABOUT ME: AM I REALLY A KENNEDY? 

 

WELL, MY FATHER’S NAME IS REALLY KENNEDY:  DANIEL GERALD KENNEDY.  AND HERE HE IS WITH JFK.

 

Left- John F. Kennedy. Right- Daniel G. Kennedy

I ALWAYS THOUGHT THEY LOOKED A LITTLE ALIKE.

THE TRUTH IS, THEY MET IN 1952 AND PORED OVER A MAP OF IRELAND TO SEE IF THEY WERE RELATED, AND THEY FOUND OUT THAT AT ONE POINT OUR FAMILIES WERE IN ADJACENT IRISH COUNTIES. SO WITH 10 KIDS IN MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER’S FAMILY  NOT BEING UNUSUAL, IT’S POSSIBLE BACK ON THE OLD SOD WE SHARED THE SAME ROOTS.

BUT NOT HERE.

HERE, THEY WERE DEMOCRATS – AND WE WERE – HOLD ONTO YOUR FEDORAS – REPUBLICANS.

 

AS JFK SAID WHEN HE MET DADDY, “I DIDN’T THINK THERE COULD BE SUCH A THING AS A REPUBLICAN KENNEDY!”  SO HOW DID IT HAPPEN? AND HOW DID I ESCAPE THE CULT?

THE VIETNAM WAR MADE ME A DEMOCRAT.

AND I WROTE THIS SPEECH BECAUSE I’M A DEMOCRAT. I MET THE WOMAN WHO ASKED ME TO ALABAMA, PAM MILES, AT A MEETING OF THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE IN 2006.  YOU CAN HARDLY GET MORE DEMOCRAT THAN GOING TO A DNC MEETING.  I WENT BECAUSE, TWO YEARS INTO BEING ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR OF PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA, I WAS ON A PANEL ABOUT THE ISSUE THAT HAS BECOME MY MAIN POLITICAL CAUSE – ENDING STOLEN ELECTIONS. WE NEED A MANDATORY PAPER BALLOT THAT CAN BE HAND-AUDITED REGULARLY AND THE RIGHT TO FULLY HAND-COUNT IN PUBLIC WHEN RESULTS ARE FISHY.  WE ALSO NEED TO END VOTER SUPPRESSION LAWS WITH AN AFFIRMATIVE RIGHT TO VOTE, IN THE CONSTITUTION – PEOPLE THINK THAT EXISTS, BUT IT DOESN’T. WOMEN AND FORMER SLAVES NEEDED THEIR OWN AMENDMENTS TO ACCESS THE BALLOT. AND NOW WE ALL DO, TO PROTECT US FROM STATE TRICKS.  PAM MILES TOLD ME ABOUT HOW THE POPULAR DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR OF ALABAMA, DON SIEGELMAN, HAD HIS RE-ELECTION STOLEN IN 2002, BY A LATE-NIGHT ELECTRONIC SHIFT OF 3000 VOTES, FROM HIS COLUMN TO HIS RIVAL’S, WITHOUT ANY OTHER RESULTS BEING CHANGED. THEN-ATTORNEY GENERAL WILLIAM PRYOR IMPOUNDED THE PAPER BALLOTS AND THREATENED TO PROSECUTE ANYONE WHO TOUCHED THEM. THEY HAVEN’T BEEN CHECKED TO THIS DAY.

 

Don Siegelman with His Daughter Dana

DON WENT TO PRISON, AFTER HIS LOSS, ON CHARGES THAT A JUDGE HAD PREVIOUSLY THROWN OUT OF COURT AS BEING THE MOST RIDICULOUS CASE HE’D EVER SEEN. THE SECOND TIME, UNDER A JUDGE WHO’D BEEN HEARD TO PROMISE HE’D “HANG SIEGELMAN”, THEY TOOK. DON WENT TO PRISON AND WAS RECENTLY RELEASED. THE MORE I LEARNED, THE ANGRIER I BECAME. BECAUSE DON REMINDED ME OF MY FATHER – A GOOD MAN, AN HONEST MAN – AND WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN ALLOWED. THE RIGHT-WING JUDGE – NOW RESIGNED IN DISGRACE FOR DOMESTIC ABUSE – GAVE JURY INSTRUCTIONS THAT MY LAWYER FATHER WOULD HAVE FOUND LAUGHABLE.. ‘INFERRED FRAUD’ – YOU CAN CONVICT BECAUSE YOU BELIEVE SOMETHING HAPPENED, NOT BECAUSE THERE WAS CORROBORATED TESTIMONY BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT, OR EVIDENCE WITHOUT ERROR PRESENTED IN COURT! I REALIZE NOW THAT MY OUTRAGE SHOCK IS PARTLY DUE TO MY WHITE SKIN. PEOPLE OF COLOR KNOW THAT THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON IN OUR COUNTRY FOR A LONG TIME.

 

SO WHY WAS DADDY A REPUBLICAN?

HIS FATHER, DAN KENNEDY, DIED WHEN DADDY WAS 7. SO I NEVER KNEW MY KENNEDY GRANDFATHER, SON OF AN IMMIGRANT. I KNEW THE STEPFATHER WHO SAVED THE WIDOW KENNEDY AND HER FOUR YOUNG CHILDREN FROM HARDSHIP, AND HE WAS A REPUBLICAN JUDGE – JUDGE LOVE – WHO LIVED UP TO HIS NAME. HE WAS A GOOD MAN. HE WAS AN ELECTED JUDGE, SO MY FATHER WALKED THE PRECINCTS TO GET OUT THE VOTE FOR HIM, WHICH CEMENTED DADDY’S ROLE IN ROCHESTER, NY, AS A LOYAL REPUBLICAN. THIS WAS BACK WHEN REPUBLICANS WERE LIBERAL. ROCKEFELLER REPUBLICANS, THEY WERE CALLED, IN HOMAGE TO GOVERNOR NELSON ROCKEFELLER, WHO, AMONG OTHER LIBERAL MOVES, PASSED THE NATION’S STRICTEST ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS BEFORE THERE WAS AN EPA.
I ALSO LIKE TO THINK THAT MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER, WHO WE KNOW HARBORED IRISH REPUBLICAN SYMPATHIES BACK IN THE OLD COUNTRY, ARRIVED IN NEW YORK CITY IN 1868 TO HEAR THAT LINCOLN, A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT, HAD FREED THE SLAVES. AND HE THOUGHT “REPUBLICANS, THEY’RE FOR ME!” BUT WE DON’T KNOW THAT- SO PUT IT IN THE FICTION COLUMN. TO BE HONEST, I DON’T KNOW THE TRUTH, AND NOBODY’S LEFT TO ASK. ANYWAY – OUR FAMILY STOOD ON TWO SACRED PILLARS. ONE WAS THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND THE OTHER WE SHARED WITH THOSE OTHER KENNEDYS- THE CATHOLIC CHURCH.

 

St. John Evangelist 1955

HERE I AM ON THE DAY OF MY FIRST COMMUNION WITH 60 OF MY FELLOW SECOND GRADERS. THIRD ROW DOWN FROM TOP, THIRD FROM LEFT.

St. John Evangelist 1955, 1st Communion Mimi Kennedy

I STUDIED UP ON ALABAMA, FOR GIVING MY FIRST VERSION OF THIS SPEECH. AND I FOUND OUT THAT IT WAS THE NUMBER ONE BIBLE-READINGEST STATE IN THE NATION. SO I FIGURED THEY’D GET ME, AND UNDERSTAND THAT MY ATTEMPT TO BE AS MUCH OF AN ANGEL AS I LOOKED IN THIS PICTURE WAS AND IS VERY REAL.  I REMAIN THAT KID INSIDE.

BUT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH’S TRUE BIBLE WAS THE BALTIMORE CATECHISM, AND THAT’S WHAT I READ THE MOST.  IT WAS THE CATHOLIC INSTRUCTION MANUAL FOR CHILDREN, AND WE HAD TO MEMORIZE IT IN ORDER TO MAKE OUR FIRST CONFESSION AND COMMUNION AT THE AGE OF SEVEN, THE AGE WHEN THE CHURCH SAYS CHILDREN OFFICIALLY AND SUDDENLY KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL AND ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR CHOICES.

 

HERE’S WHAT WE WERE TAUGHT ABOUT CONFESSION.

 

Story of a Bad Confession

JOHN IS SEEN HERE CARRYING FOUR MORTAL SINS INTO CONFESSION. WHAT HAS HE DONE THAT’S SO BAD HE’LL GO TO HELL IMMEDIATELY WHEN HE DIES BECAUSE HE DID IT? MURDER? STEALING AN ELECTION?

MORE LIKELY,  EATING A HOT DOG ON FRIDAY, FOUR TIMES IN A ROW, KNOWING IT WAS A MORTAL SIN AGAINST CHURCH TEACHING. BUT FOUR TIMES SEEMS LIKE TOO MUCH, SO JOHN IS ASHAMED AND ONLY CONFESSES TO THREE.  LYING IN CONFESSION IS A MORTAL SIN THAT PREVENTS ALL OTHER SINS FROM BEING FORGIVEN. SO INSTEAD OF A WALKING OUT WITH A CLEAN CONSCIENCE, JOHN LEAVES THE CONFESSIONAL WITH FIVE UNFORGIVEN MORTAL SINS ON HIS SOUL.

NO CONFESSION HE EVER MAKES IN HIS LIFE WILL BE GOOD UNTIL HE GOES BACK AND MAKES UP FOR THIS ONE, AND CONFESSES THAT FOURTH FRIDAY HOT DOG. SAY HE WANTS TO COME CLEAN AT AGE 30, BECAUSE HE’S A HUSBAND AND FATHER AND WANTS TO SET A GOOD EXAMPLE.  HE’LL HAVE ABOUT FIFTY THOUSAND MORTAL SINS TO REMEMBER AND RE-CONFESS BECAUSE THEY’VE NEVER BEEN FORGIVEN IN ALL HIS CONFESSIONS. THIS WAS WHAT WE WERE TAUGHT TO BELIEVE. IT’S ALMOST FUNNY. EXCEPT IT HAS A LETHAL EFFECT ON OUR CURRENT POLITICS. IT LEADS TO DESPAIR. WHY HAVE INTEGRITY IF YOU’RE ALREADY DAMNED?  ALL THAT MATTERS IS THAT YOU KEEP UP APPEARANCES AND PROSPER HERE BEFORE YOU FALL INTO HELLFIRE.

I TRAVELED A LOT WITH THE PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA (PDA) AND OFTEN I’D DRIVE TO MY HOMETOWN OF ROCHESTER TO SEE RELATIVES. I FOUND A RADIO SHOW, THE CATHOLIC HOUR, WHICH CONSISTED OF A 90-YEAR OLD NUN CONSTANTLY RAILING AGAINST OBAMACARE BECAUSE IT ALLOWS THE TRAGEDY OF ABORTION. IT HAD TO BE REPEALED. IT WAS A GREAT SIN FOR CATHOLICS NOT TO GET ACTIVE IN VOTING TO REPEAL IT. HER INFLUENCE IS REAL. I RARELY LOST HER SIGNAL ALONG THE UPSTATE NEW YORK PART OF THE THRUWAY. YOU’VE PROBABLY NEVER HEARD OF HER. BUT AS MY FATHER ONCE TOLD ME, ‘YOU CAN HAVE MORE INFLUENCE, SOMETIMES, IF YOUR NAME’S NOT IN THE PAPERS.’

THIS NUN’S INFLUENCE IS WHY SO MANY PEOPLE OF CONSCIENCE CANNOT VOTE FOR ANYONE WHO IS NOT PRO-LIFE. THEY CAN VOTE FOR A SEXUAL PREDATOR, A LIAR, AND CON MAN BUT THEY CAN’T VOTE FOR SOMEONE WHO’S PRO-CHOICE.BECAUSE THEN YOU’RE KNOWINGLY COLLUDING IN THE MORTAL SIN OF KILLING BABIES. AT LEAST THE CON-MAN PREDATOR PROMISES TO STOP THAT. THE REST OF HIS SINS ARE ON HIS CONSCIENCE – NOT YOURS.

MEANWHILE, THE NEXT GENERATION IS OUTRUNNING THIS WHOLE DEBATE ABOUT GOD-GIVEN SEXUAL DIFFERENCE WITH DEFINED ROLES. THEY HAVE WIDE EXPERIENCE OF HORMONAL CHANGES THAT ARE REDUCING OR DENYING THEIR FERTILITY-BIOLOGICAL REPRODUCTION BY NATURAL MEANS OR ANY MEANS AT ALL. FOR THEM, GENDER IDENTITY ISN’T CLEAR CUT AS TWO DISTINCT SEXES, AN EITHER-OR CHOICE. IT’S A SPECTRUM OF EXPRESSION. AND IT’S PROVABLY, IN PART, DUE TO CHEMICAL CHANGES IN OUR ATMOSPHERE THAT COME FROM PETROCHEMICALS PRODUCED BY SOME OF THE VERY PEOPLE WHO ARE LOUDEST IN CONDEMNING GENDER SPECTRUM MANIFESTATION AS AN IMMORAL “CHOICE.”  PETROCHEMICALS MIMIC HORMONES IN THE HUMAN ENDOCRINE SYSTEM. THAT CREATES CHANGE THAT DOESN’T CONFORM TO BIBLICAL AND HISTORIC EXPECTATIONS OF GENDER.  TO CONDEMN IT IS A SOURCE OF TERRIBLE SUFFERING, ESPECIALLY FOR THE YOUNG. SO WE MUST STOP. WHY NOT TAKE A CUE FROM THE ANGELS?  THE NUNS SAID THEY WERE NEITHER MALE NOR FEMALE. THEY HAD MEN’S NAMES, LIKE GABRIEL AND RAPHAEL, BUT WORE DRESSES AND LONG HAIR, LIKE WOMEN. THEY WERE SUPERIOR BEINGS, WE WERE TOLD – CREATED BY GOD TO PRAISE HIM AND HELP US. SO LET’S STOP BEING SO UPSET. OR IF YOU ARE UPSET, JOIN US IN RESTORING PLANETARY HEALTH.

 

 BUT, AH – WE RUN INTO THAT DARNED PROBLEM OF CONSCIENCE AGAIN:  HERE’S ANOTHER PAGE FROM THE CATECHISM:

Another Page from the Catechism

 

WE SEE A GOOD CATHOLIC FAMILY DOING WHAT THEYR’E SUPPOSED TO, WHICH IS SAFEGUARDING OUR FAITH BY, AMONG OTHER THINGS, AND I QUOTE “NOT READING BOOKS AND PAPERS OPPOSED TO THE CHURCH AND HER TEACHING.” ANSWER 205 STATES THAT CATHOLICS SIN BY TAKING PART IN NON-CATHOLIC WORSHIP BECAUSE THAT IS THE SIN  OF ‘INDIFFERENTISM’ – WHICH IS BELIEVING ONE RELIGION IS AS GOOD AS ANOTHER. AS IT STATES IN SUMMARY, ‘THESE SINS HURT GOD DEEPLY.”

NO-ONE WANTS TO HURT GOD DEEPLY – EVEN PEOPLE WHO DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD. SO WE STRIVE TO OBEY.

 

WELL, HERE’S HOW THE VIETNAM WAR MADE ME DISOBEDIENT ENOUGH TO BECOME A DEMOCRAT.

IN HIGH SCHOOL, I’D ONLY READ THE LOCAL PAPERS WHICH SAID THE WAR WAS ABOUT OUR BOYS FIGHTING COMMIES. AND THE COMMIES WERE GODLESS. THE BODY COUNT WAS FEATURED ON THE FRONT PAGE LIKE A BOX SCORE. AND WHEN THE VIET CONG HAD MORE DEAD GUYS THAN AMERICAN GIs, I FELT GOOD. THE SOUTH  VIETNAMESE  WERE MOSTLY CATHOLIC, AFTER ALL – SO THEY WERE FIGHTING FOR THE ONE TRUE RELIGION.

AT FRESHMAN ORIENTATION AT SMITH COLLEGE, I FILLED OUT A QUESTIONNAIRE ABOUT THE WAR. I’VE SEEN IT SINCE, AND I’M HORRIFIED. I WROTE THAT I SUPPORTED LYNDON JOHNSON’S ESCALATION OF THE WAR. “BECAUSE WE’RE FIGHTING ATHEISTIC COMMUNISM OVER THERE AND IF WE DON’T DEFEAT IT WE’LL HAVE TO FIGHT IT OVER HERE.”

AT SMITH, I READ THE NEW YORK TIMES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE. I FOUND OUT WE WERE NAPALMING CHILDREN AND MASSACRING VILLAGES, AND THE SOUTH VIETNAMESE ARMY WAS CORRUPT.

I HAD TO CHANGE. MY CONSCIENCE TOLD ME THAT LETTING CHILDREN SUFFER AND DIE FOR MY BELIEFS, SO I COULD BELIEVE THEM, UNDISTURBED, AT HOME, AS A RESULT OF THEIR SACRIFICES, WAS IMMORAL AND WRONG.

THE 1968 ASSASSINATIONS OF BOBBY KENNEDY AND MARTIN LUTHER KING MADE MY GENERATION FEEL MAYBE LIKE SOME TRUMP PEOPLE FEEL NOW: WHAT’S THE USE?   THE COUNTRY’S DOWN THE TUBES. WE WERE ROBBED OF WHATEVER HOPE WE’D CLUNG TO AFTER JFK’S ASSASSINATION IN 1963.

THE VIOLENCE CAME HOME.

 

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KENT STATE HAPPENED THE YEAR I GRADUATED. THE VIOLENCE CAME HOME. MARTIN LUTHER KING HAD WARNED US VIOLENCE HARMED BOTH VICTIM AND PERPETRATOR. WHEN STUDENTS PROTESTED THE BOMBING OF CAMBODIA, AND FOUR WERE SHOT BY THE NATIONAL GUARD AT THEIR CAMPUS DEMONSTRATION, I JOINED THE NATIONWIDE MORATORIUM, STOPPED CLASSES, STAGED A READING OF ANTI-WAR THEATER,  AND WORE BLACK ARMBAND AT GRADUATION.

IN NEW YORK CITY, I STARTED MY ACTING CAREER AND FORGOT ABOUT POLITICS FOR WHILE. BUT I REMEMBER A COVER OF THE VILLAGE VOICE THAT SHOWED A COMIC- BOOK WOMAN HOLDING HER HEAD IN CLOSE-UP AND SAYING “OH NO! NUCLEAR WAR? THERE GOES MY CAREER!” THAT’S PRETTY MUCH THE WAY I AND MY FRIENDS FELT.

BUT I VOTED AGAINST NIXON IN ’72. AND SAW THE PHOTO PUBLISHED THAT YEAR THAT WAS TAKEN BY A PHOTOGRAPHER WHO SAID, WHEN HE TOOK IT, HE KNEW IT WOULD END THE WAR. IT EVENTUALLY DID. PHOTOGRAPHER NICK UT WON THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR IT. I WON’T SHOW IT, BECAUSE IT DOESN’T BELONG IN A SPEECH THAT COVERS SHOW BUSINESS, TOO. BUT IF YOU EVER SAW THAT GIRL RUNNING AWAY FROM HER NAPALMED VILLAGE, YOU REMEMBER IT.

 To see the Image Click HERE

photo7grease

IN ’76 I WAS IN THE ORIGINAL BROADWAY PRODUCTION OF ‘GREASE.’ JIMMY CARTER RAN FOR PRESIDENT AND I LOVED HIM. I REMEMBER RUNNING UP BROADWAY ONE DAY AFTER THE MATINEE TO CATCH HIM AT AN OUTDOOR RALLY, AND A  DOORMAN CALLED OUT TO ME ‘YOU GONNA TELL YOUR GRANDCHILDREN YOU SAW JIMMY CARTER?” AND I YELLED BACK  “YES!” AND FELT SO HOPEFUL THAT WE WERE ALL TOGETHER, BLACK AND WHITE, IN A GOOD COUNTRY AGAIN. I HAVE GRANDCHILDREN NOW. AND WHEN THEY’RE OLD ENOUGH, I’LL TELL THEM I SAW JIMMY CARTER.

GREASE LED TO LA AND TELEVISION

 

The New York Times March 30, 1977

ACCORDING OT THE NY TIMES I WAS AN INSTANT STAR!

 

I WAS ON THE COVER OF TV GUIDE!

 

“THREE GIRLS THREE” LASTED FOUR SHOWS. “THE TWO OF US” WAS CANCELLED AFTER ONE SEASON. I WAS LEARNING THE ROPES.

BUT THERE WERE THINGS I CARED MORE ABOUT HAPPENING IN MY LIFE. I’D BECOME A MOTHER, AFTER  THREE YEARS OF WORRYING IT MIGHT NEVER HAPPEN. IN THAT TV GUIDE PICTURE, I WAS PREGNANT AND DIDN’T NOW IT. EXCEPT I REMEMBER THAT SKIRT I THOUGHT WAS MY SIZE DIDN’T ZIP UP THE  BACK.

WHEN YOU’VE GOT LITTLE KIDS AT HOME, YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME IN WITH THE RADIO AS YOUR ONLY ADULT COMPANIONSHIP. ON KPFK, LA’S PACIFICA STATION, I HEARD BLASÉ BONPANE AND AMY GOODMAN TALKING ABOUT SECRET WARS IN EL SALVADOR AND NICARAGUA, AND VILLAGES BEING MASSACRED AND BOMBED, CHILDREN TORTURED, NUNS AND PRIESTS AND UNION ACTIVISTS SHOT, SOMETIMES IN CHURCH. MY MOTHER-HEART IGNITED. I WROTE LETTERS, DID MAILINGS, WENT TO MEETINGS WHERE I SAW AND MET FAMOUS ACTORS WHO WERE SPEAKING OUT, LIKE MARTIN SHEEN AND MIKE FARRELL.

 

Dharma and Greg

 

dharma and gregcomposite

“Dharma and Greg” (TV Series 1997-2002)

 

“DHARMA AND GREG” WAS ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SHOWS I EVER DID.  IN ITS LAST YEAR, 9-11 HAPPENED. THE CAST AND CREW WERE CALLED TOGETHER AND TOLD THERE WAS A CREDIBLE THREAT AGAINST THE STUDIO AND WE’D ALL HAVE TO GET PHOTO ID, EVEN THE BIGGEST STARS. WE’D HAVE TO ARRIVE AN HOUR EARLIER TO WORK, BECAUSE OF ALL THE NEW SECURITY PROCEDURES. I REMEMBER LOOKING AROUND THE GROUP AND WONDERING WHO I’D SAVE, IF A FIREBALL ROARED INTO THE SOUNDSTAGE RIGHT THAT MINUTE. WOULD  I BE COURAGEOUS ENOUGH TO STOP AND HELP A COLLEAGUE, LIKE THE HEROES OF 9-11? MY INNER ANSWER MADE ME ASHAMED. I WANTED TO SAVE MY OWN ASS.

I KNEW I HAD TO STEP UP MY ACTIVISM AND BE BRAVE. I DIDN’T WANT TO DIE A COWARD, TARGETED BECAUSE I WAS AN ACTRESS ON A TV SHOW IN A STUDIO OWNED BY RUPERT MURDOCH. I WANTED TO LIVE, AND DIE, IF I HAD TO, BECAUSE I WAS EXERCISING MY RIGHT TO SPEAK OUT AS A BRAVE AMERICAN CITIZEN.

ROWEN WILLIAMS, THE FORMER ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY, WROTE THE BEST BOOK I’VE READ ABOUT 9-11, WRITING IN THE DUST. IN IT, HE TALKS OF HOW HE ONCE ANSWERED A SWEDISH INTERVIEWER IN SWEDISH BECAUSE HE WANTED TO SHOW OFF TO THE GUY THAT HE COULD SPEAK THE LANGUAGE. THE INTERVIEW PROCEEDED IN SWEDISH UNTIL ROWEN REALIZED HE WAS NOT EXPRESSING WHAT HE MEANT, AND COULDN’T POSSIBLY, UNLESS THEY SWITCHED TO ENGLISH. HE BEGGED OFF, AND THEY SWITCHED LANGUAGE.  HE SAID THE “MESSAGE” OF 9-11 HIJACKERS WAS SENT IN VIOLENCE, AND WE ANSWERED WITH VIOLENCE, BUT WE HAD TO STOP DOING THAT. BECAUSE ONCE YOU ANSWER IN ONE LANGUAGE, YOU MUST BE PREPARED TO CONTINUE IN THAT WAY, UNTIL YOU BEG FOR THE LANGUAGE TO CHANGE – AFTER A LOT OF LIVES HAVE BEEN LOST AND DAMAGE DONE – OR IT CONTINUES TO THE VIOLENT END, WITHOUT YOU EVER HAVING SAID WHAT YOU MEANT. THAT’S SUICIDE.

 

I BEGAN STUDYING NONVIOLENCE IN SATURDAY CLASSES WITH REV. JAMES LAWSON.

 

lawsoncomposite

 

MARTIN LUTHER KING CALLED HIM “THE TEACHER” BECAUSE, AS A METHODIST MISSIONARY STUDENT IN INDIA, WHERE GANDHI WAS ACTIVE AT THE TIME, LAWSON HAD LEARNED ABOUT NONVIOLENCE. HARVEY COX INTRODUCED THE TWO MEN, AND DR. KING ASKED REV. LAWSON TO COME TO THE SOUTH – “WE NEED TO LEARN WHAT YOU KNOW.”  REV. LAWSON TAUGHT THE STUDENTS OF FISK COLLEGE HOW TO DO NONVIOLENT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE FOR THE FIRST SIT-INS AT NASHVILLE LUNCH COUNTERS.

DENNIS KUCINICH HEARD ME TALK ABOUT NONVIOLENCE AT AN ACTORS’ MEETING AGAINST THE RUSH TO WAR IN IRAQ. HE ASKED ME TO ACCOMPANY HIM FOR SOME OF HIS CAMPAIGN TRAVELS IN 2003, AND I DID.  PEOPLE WOULD TELL ME DENNIS WAS A LOST CAUSE, AND ASK WHEN WAS I GOING TO COME OVER TO HOWARD DEAN? MY ANSWER WAS ALWAYS, ‘WHEN HOWARD DEAN AND DENNIS STAND SIDE BY SIDE ONSTAGE AND HOWARD SAYS,‘MY GOOD FRIEND DENNIS KUCINICH.’”

 

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TIM CARPENTER, THE FOUNDER OF PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS OF AMERICA, GOT IT DONE IN ROXBURY, MASSACHUSETTS, DURING THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION IN BOSTON IN 2004.  I FIRST MET TIM THAT DAY, AND HE ASKED ME TO BE ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR OF PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRATS, THE NEW ORGANIZATION THAT HE WAS STARTING WITH THE PROGRESSIVE DELEGATES OF THE KUCINCH, DEAN, EDWARDS, SHARPTON, MOSELY-BRAUN AND EVEN KERRY CAMPAIGNS.

OUR MISSION WAS TO TAKE THE PEACE AND JUSTICE MOVEMENT INSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY.  I SIGNED ON KNOWING TIM PROBABLY ASKED ME BECAUSE I HAD A NATIONAL PROFILE FROM BEING ON TELEVISION, AND HE WAS GONNA ASK FOR MONEY AND FIGURED PEOPLE MIGHT WANT AN IDENTIFIABLE PERSON TO GO TO IF THEY DIDN’T LIKE THE WAY WE WERE SPENDING IT. OUR DONORS – THOUSANDS OF SMALL DONORS – LIKED THE WAY WE WERE SPENDING IT.

 

Tim Carpenter

 

TIM TAUGHT ME EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT ORGANIZING. HE WAS THE FIRST PERSON I EVER HEARD TALK ABOUT “THE INSIDE/OUTSIDE STRATEGY” – TAKING IT TO THE STREETS TO GET IN THE SUITES, AND LEARNING HOW TO BEHAVE BOTH PLACES.

 

Dianne Feinstein’s District Office

HERE WE ARE DEMONSTRATING OUTSIDE DIANNE FEINSTEIN’S DISTRICT OFFICE PROTESTING HER REFUSAL TO CONDEMN CIA TORTURE. THE SECURITY GUARDS SAID THE PRIVATE BUILDING WAS OFF LIMITS AND THEY’D CALL THE COPS TO ARREST US. WE SAID OUR SENATOR’S OFFICE WAS A PUBLIC SPACE. EVENTUALLY AN AIDE CAME DOWN AND TOLERATED US; FEINSTEIN’S OFFICE WAS NOTORIOUSLY INACCESSIBLE AND UNRESPONSIVE. BUT OVER TIME, DIANNE FEINSTEIN BECAME A STAUNCH SENATE VOICE AGAINST TORTURE.  SHE’D HAD EXPERIENCE, HEARING FROM ACTIVISTS, THAT FORCED HER TO EXAMINE HER BELIEFS – AND CHANGE HER MIND.

HERE’S TIM, ME – AND MEDEA BENJAMIN AND CINDY SHEEHAN. MEDEA COULD HAVE HAD A CAREER IN THE SUITES. SHE WORKED FOR THE U.N. BUT HER CONSCIENCE TOLD HER TO GET LOUDER AND WITH JODIE EVANS SHE STARTED CODE PINK, ONE OF THE MOST CREATIVE NONVIOLENT OUTSPOKEN GROUPS IN THE WORLD. ONE OF THEIR MOTTOS IS  ‘STOP THE NEXT WAR NOW.’ CINDY SHEEHAN SAID SHE HADN’T WORRIED MUCH WHEN GEORGE W. BUSH WAS SELECTED BY THE SUPREME COURT IN 2000. SHE’D THOUGHT ‘HOW BAD CAN IT BE?’ HER BELOVED SON CASEY ENLISTED AFTER 9-11 AND WAS TOLD, AS A DEACON’S ASSISTANT, HE’D NEVER COME UNDER FIRE. HE WAS KILLED IN 2004 IN A ROADSIDE BOMB AND CINDY SAID SHE LEARNED THAT HOW BAD IT CAN BE IS THE WORST THAT CAN HAPPEN. SHE BECAME AN ACTIVIST AND THOUSANDS JOINED HER ASKING BUSH “WHAT NOBLE CAUSE” PEOPLE WERE DYING FOR IN IRAQ.

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PDA STAGED PROTESTS NATIONWIDE. HERE’S ONE IN LA WHEN JOHN BOEHNER’S DEFICIT-PHOBIC CONGRESS WANTED TO CUT FOOD STAMPS. HEY- WHERE ARE THOSE GUYS NOW, WITH  TRUMP DEMANDING TAX CUTS THAT WOULD BALLOON THE DEFICIT AND A ‘BEAUTIFUL WALL’ THAT WILL BE  A RIDICULOUS WASTE?

 

Don Siegelman

DON SIEGELMAN WAS OUT ON APPEAL IN 2008, WHEN I FINALLY MET HIM IN PERSON AT PDA’S PROGRESSIVE CENTRAL AT THE 2008 DEMOCRATIC  CONVENTION IN DENVER. I WAS THERE WHEN HE MET OUR BOARD MEMBER, JOHN CONYERS, WHO EVEN AS CHAIR OF THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE COULDN’T CRACK THE WALL OF INJUSTICE THE GOP BUILT TO IMPRISON DON. MEETING DON CONFIRMED EVERYTHING I’D HEARD & READ. HE’S AN  EXTRAORDINARY MAN.

Tim Carpenter

TIM PASSED IN 2014. WE HELD HIS MEMORIAL IN THE CHURCH IN NORTHAMPTON MASSACHUSETTS, TIM’S ADOPTED HOMETOWN, WHERE JONATHAN EDWARDS PREACHED FIRE  AND BRIMSTONE TO THE PURITANS. BERNIE SANDERS WAS THERE, AND I PRESENTED HIM WITH 10,000 SIGNATURES PDA HAD GATHERED ASKING HIM TO RUN BERNIE RUN – AS A DEMOCRAT. HE DID, AND WE HELPED STAGE HIS FIRST RALLY IN LA AND AROUND THE COUNTRY UNTIL THE MOVEMENT TOOK OFF WITH STADIUM RALLIES OF TENS OF THOUSANDS.

 

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Tom Hayden and Tim Carpenter

 

TIM LOOKED TO TOM HAYDEN AS A MENTOR, AND TOM LOOKED TO TIM AS A YOUNG TURK. TOM PASSED IN OCTOBER 2016. HIS WIFE BARBARA SAID HE’D WANTED TO STAY ALIVE UNTIL THE ELECTION TO SEE HOW IT TURNED OUT, BUT HE CALLED FATHER GREG BOYLE, THE JESUIT WHO’D WORKED WITH HIM ON GANG RECONCILIATION IN LA, BEFORE THAT, AND SAID HE WAS READY TO GO, IN FACT, “SO READY I’VE EVEN FORGIVEN DONALD TRUMP.’ I’VE OFTEN WONDERED IF THE DYING GET PREVIEWS SO THEY DON’T FEEL THEY’RE MISSING ANYTHING. ANYWAY, NEITHER OF MY POLITICAL MENTORS LIVED TO SEE DONALD TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE.   SO SOMETIMES I’VE FELT A LITTLE ON MY OWN.

 

BUT NOW I PLAY A MENTOR ON TV.  SO I HAD TO LEARN ABOUT SOMETHING NEW -THE 12 STEPS- IN ORDER TO PLAY OLD-TIMER MARJORIE, SOBRIETY SPONSOR.

Allison Janney, Mimi Kennedy & Anna Faris on CBS’ Mom

 

WHEN YOU PLAY A COP OR A DOCTOR, YOU HAVE TO LEARN ABOUT WHAT IT IS YOU’RE ASKED TO DO.  SO I WENT TO A 12-STEP MEETING AND REALIZED, WOW, DOES THIS EVER APPLY TO ACTIVISM! ONE DAY AT A TIME. STAY IN TOUCH WITH A HIGHER POWER TO STAY SANE, AND PRAY FOR THE SERENITY TO ACCEPT WHAT YOU CAN’T CHANGE, THE COURAGE TO CHANGE WHAT YOU CAN AND –THE WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.

SO HERE’S SOMETHING POLITICAL I WANT TO CHANGE, AND THINK I CAN. BECAUSE I KNOW IT CHANGED IN ME.

DATA AND SEVERAL THINGS I’VE READ- IN THE JESUIT MAGAZINE AMERICA, THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER, A RECENT OP-ED IN THE LA TIMES – POINT TO THE FACT THAT IT MAY HAVE BEEN SUBURBAN CATHOLIC WOMEN, WHO SOMETIMES VOTE DEMOCRAT, WHO PUT DONALD TRUMP OVER THE TOP IN MICHIGAN, WISCONSIN, AND ELSEWHERE – OR AT LEAST PROVIDED THE NARRATIVE TO JUSTIFY THAT HE WENT OVER THE TOP.  THEY VOTED TO GET A PRO-LIFE SUPREME COURT, BECAUSE THIS WAS THEIR CHANCE TO END ABORTION. WHEN I TELL PEOPLE ABOUT THIS, I OFTEN HEAR FROM LISTENERS THAT THEY ALSO KNOW SOMEONE WHO ABANDONED THE DEMOCRATS THIS TIME BECAUSE HILLARY WAS JUST TOO IDENTIFIED WITH ABORTION IN THEIR MINDS.

I AM NOT SURPRISED, THOUGH I AM SAD. I KNOW, FOR CATHOLICS,  THE VOTING BOOTH ISN’T AS PRIVATE AS THE CONFESSIONAL. THE CONFESSIONAL IS YOU, A PRIEST, AND YOUR CONSCIENCE. SOMETIMES, FOR US LAPSED CATHOLICS, IT’S JUST OUR CONSCIENCE. BUT FOR A CONSCIENCE FORMED BY THE CATECHISM, IT IS TOO MUCH TO KNOW THAT YOU’VE COLLUDED, AS A VOTER,  IN WHAT YOU THINK IS BABY-KILLING, AT THE MOMENT YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO DO THE OPPOSITE – EVEN IF THE MESSENGER PROVIDED WAS A CON MAN AND SEXIST PREDATOR.  YOU SAW THAT CATECHISM PICTURE. YOU COULD END UP LIKE JOHN, WALKING OUT OF THE CONFESSIONAL AND THE VOTING BOOTH WITH A MORTAL SIN THAT WILL NEVER GO AWAY UNLESS YOU STOP VOTING THAT WAY.

OR CANDIDATES  STOP MAKING IT A HYPOCRITICAL  LITMUS TEST.

CATHOLIC WOMEN HAVE THE CHANCE TO UNDERSTAND, NOW – WITH A LIAR AS THE PRO-LIFE GUY – THAT THEY MUST EXPAND THEIR CONSCIENCE TO CONSIDER ALL LIFE IN THEIR ‘PRO-LIFE’ STANCE, NOT JUST THE REPRODUCTIVE LIVES OF FERTILE WOMEN. AND I’M HOPING CANDIDATES WILL STOP PUSHING THIS. BECAUSE, FOR ONE THING,  FROZEN EMBRYOS ARE DISCARDED BY COMPANIES IN THE PROCESS OF HELPING INFERTILE WOMEN BECOME MOTHERS ALL THE TIME.  THIS IS NEVER DISCUSSED BY SUCH CANDIDATES. WHY? “CORPORATIONS ARE PEOPLE MY FRIEND.” BUT THEY’RE NOT WOMEN, SO THEIR EMBRYOS ARE IGNORED BY  LAWS THAT RESTRICT WOMEN’S FREEDOM BUT NOT MEN’S. THIS IS RANK HYPOCRISY. I DON’T WANT TO CRIMINALIZE PEOPLE TRYING TO HAVE CHILDREN ANY MORE THAN I WANT TO ENFORCE INVOLUNTARY MOTHERHOOD ON WOMEN WHO AREN’T EDUCATED ABOUT SEX, OR CAN’T GET BIRTH CONTROL; OR CAN’T SCHEDULE THEIR MARITAL SEX ACCORDING TO RELIGIOUS RESTRICTIONS, OR SHOWED BAD JUDGMENT – OR WERE RAPED.  SO LET’S GET OFF THIS DIME.

I’VE READ THE TRANSCRIPT OF THE SENATE SESSION THAT PASSED THE COMSTOCK LAW IN  1872, WHICH BANNED CONTRACEPTION RIGHT ALONG WITH ABORTION, AND LEGISLATORS BARELY KNEW THE DIFFERENCE. NO-ONE WAS SURE OF THE BIOLOGY OF HUMAN FEMALE REPRODUCTION, NOT EVEN DOCTORS. MY RESEARCH DISCOVERED THAT THROUGH THE 19TH CENTURY, DOCTORS TOLD WOMEN THEIR ‘SAFE’ TIME WAS ,IN THE MIDDLE OF THEIR CYCLES – RIGHT WHEN THEY WERE LIKELY TO GET PREGNANT.  BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT WOMEN, LIKE ANIMALS IN HEAT, WERE FERTILE AROUND THE TIME OF THE VISIBLE SIGN OF BLOOD.

 

Anthony Comstock

THIS MAN, ANTHONY COMSTOCK, THE KARL ROVE OF HIS DAY, WAS 29 YEARS OLD WHEN HE CAME TO WASHINGTON WITH A SUITCASE FULL OF MARRIAGE MANUALS AND CONTRACEPTIVES, AND THE DRAFT OF HIS LAW AGAINST WHAT HE CALLED ‘OBSCENE ARTICLES AND LITERATURE.” HE DISPLAYED HIS CONTENTS IN A ROOM AT THE CAPITOL GIVEN HIM BY LEGISLATORS WHO WERE SUPPORTED BY ANTHONY’S PATRONS, RICH DONORS TO THE  YOUNG MEN’S CHRISTIAN ASSOCIATION IN NY.  THE EVENT WAS WELL ATTENDED BY THE GENTLEMEN LEGISLATORS ALL IN THE INTEREST OF EDUCATION, OF COURSE. THE BILL LANDED ON THEIR DESKS IN THE LAST HOURS OF THE LAST DAY OF THAT YEAR’S CONGRESSIONAL SESSION, SHORTLY AFTER THE GENTLEMAN HAD VOTED TO RAISE THEIR OWN SALARIES. NO-ONE HAD READ IT, SO A SENATOR ASKED THAT IT BE READ ALOUD BEFORE THEY VOTED. ANOTHER SAID NO, THAT THEY SHOULD JUST VOTE, BECAUSE “THE DETAILS WERE SURE TO BE ‘TOO DISGUSTING.” THEY JUST VOTED. THE BILL PASSED, WITH AN AMENDMENT SNUCK IN THAT EVEN COMSTOCK DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT, FORBIDDING EVEN DOCTORS TO DISCUSS, OR SHOW, ANY MEANS OF AVOIDING  PREGNANCY. FROM THAT DAY UNTIL 1965, WOMEN, EVEN MARRIED COUPLES, HAD NO LEGAL CONTRACEPTION EXCEPT THE RHYTHM METHOD, ABOUT WHICH SUCH MISINFORMATION PERSISTED THAT MY OWN MOTHER, ON THE EVE OF MY MARRIAGE IN 1978, DUTIFULLY INFORMED ME ABOUT THE RHYTHM METHOD TO MAKE SURE I KNEW IT – AND EXPLAINED IT BACKWARDS. SHE WARNED ME NOT TO MAKE LOVE UNPROTECTED AROUND THE TIME OF MY PERIOD BUT TO WAIT UNTIL MID-CYCLE.  I LAUGHED, SURE SHE WAS CONFUSED.  SHE FROWNED, AND REPEATED WHAT SHE’D SAID. I DROPPED THE ARGUMENT. I’D USED BIRTH CONTROL FOR YEARS, WHY UPSET HER WITH THAT INFORMATION NOW?

SINCE THEN, I ASKED THE CATHOLIC WOMEN WHO REMAIN IN MY FAMILY, OF HER GENERATION, AND ALMOST ALL OF THEM SAY THEY DON’T REMEMBER THEIR MOTHERS TELLING THEM ANYTHING ABOUT BIRTH CONROL, BUT THAT THE ADVICE MY MOTHER GAVE SOUNDED LIKE WHAT THEY’D UNDERSTOOD AT THE TIME – WORLD WAR II.

THE SUPREME COURT FINALLY RULED, IN 1965 GRISWOLD V. CONNECTICUT, THAT THE STATE BAN OF CONTRACEPTIVES WAS AN UNCONSTITUTIONAL INVASION OF MARITAL PRIVACY, AND COUPLES WERE FREE TO USE WHAT THEY WANTED IN THEIR OWN HOMES WITHOUT FEAR OF ARREST.

AND YET, STILL, RIGHT-WING CONSERVATIVES REMOVE MONEY FOR CONTRACEPTION, RIGHT ALONG WITH ABORTION, IN FOREIGN AID AND DOMESTIC APPROPRIATION. THEY HATE PLANNED PARENTHOOD – WHERE MOST YOUNG WOMEN GET BIRTH CONTROL IN ORDER TO AVOID HAVING TO FACE THE CHOICE OF ABORTION. WHEN I WAS FIRST OUT OF COLLEGE, I DIDN’T HAVE A GENERAL PRACTICE DOCTOR, OR A HEALTH PLAN, OR MONEY TO SEE A SPECIALIST, WHICH IS WHAT A GYNECOLOGIST WAS. PLANNED PARENTHOOD WAS IT: MY BULWARK AGAINST IGNORANCE, BAD TIMING,  AND ABORTION.

BUT THE ABORTION WARS GO ON, AS THE CATHOLIC HOUR NUN MAKES CLEAR. IT’S BEHIND THE INSISTENCE ON REPEALING OBAMACARE AND IT’S WHY WE CAN’T HAVE MEDICARE FOR ALL, OR SINGLE PAYER. THAT’S THE REAL SOLUTION TO MEDICAL COSTS AND EVERYONE KNOWS IT. BUT TO PROVIDE NATIONAL COVERAGE FOR ALL MEANS MAKING ALL THOSE DIFFICULT DECISIONS TO COVER REPRODUCTIVE DECISIONS OF WOMEN IN THEIR FERTILE YEARS, AND THAT’S JUST TOO BOTHERSOME FOR CONSCIENCES THAT DEMAND PURITY EVEN WHEN THE PRICE IS PAID BY OTHER PEOPLE’S SUFFERING.

NEAL GORSUCH IS IN. CAN WE STOP THIS NOW? AND HOPE HIS LEGAL MIND RECOGNIZES THE COMPASSIONATE WISDOM OF ROE V. WADE, A DECISION WHOSE AUTHORS DIDN’T FIND THE DETAILS “TOO DISGUSTING.”  THEY PARSED THEM CAREFULLY TO SEPARATE THE TIME WHEN THE STATE HAS AN ARGUABLE INTEREST IN PROTECTING A VIABLE CHILD OUTSIDE THE MOTHER’S WOMB FROM THE TIME WHEN A WOMAN MUST DECIDE WHETHER WHAT HAS HAPPENED INSIDE HER CAN PROGRESS WITH HER NECESSARY NURTURE AND COOPERATION.

THIS IS A MATTER OF POLITICAL EQUALITY. THE LAW CANNOT FORCE MEN TO FATHER THE RESULTS OF CONCEPTION.  NOR CAN WOMEN BE SO FORCED, JUST BECAUSE A PARTICULAR RELIGION BELIEVES THAT THEY SHOULD .

“WE HAVE A LITTLE THING IN THIS COUNTRY CALLED THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE,” MY FATHER ONCE TOLD ME. IT WAS DURING THE NIXON-KENNEDY CAMPAIGN WHEN I WAS IN 7TH GRADE AND OUR LOYALTIES WERE TORN, AS A FAMILY, BETWEEN THE FIRST CATHOLIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE – NAMED KENNEDY, NO LESS! – AND THE GRAND OLD PARTY. WHEN A FLYER CAME IN THE MAIL FOR THE THEOCRATIC PARTY, I THOUGHT I’D FOUND THE ANSWER. “LOOK, DADDY – YOU CAN VOTE FOR THESE GUYS. THE THEOCRATIC PARTY – A  BIBLE IN EVERY  HOME! DOESN’T THAT SOUND GOOD?”

(LIKE I SAID, I WAS A DEVOUT CHILD.)

THAT’S WHEN HE TOLD ME ABOUT CHURCH AND STATE, AND ADDED,  “YOU COULDN’T LEGISLATE A BIBLE IN EVERY HOME EVEN IF YOU WANTED TO. THE GUY’S A CRACKPOT. THERE ARE ALWAYS GUYS WHO RUN WHO DON’T STAND A CHANCE. A GUY NAMED HAROLD STASSEN IS ALWAYS ON THE BALLOT TOO BUT NOBODY EVER VOTES FOR HIM.”

I ASKED WHO HE WAS GOING TO VOTE FOR AND HE TOLD ME THE BALLOT WAS PRIVATE, SO PRIVATE EVEN HE AND MY MOTHER DIDN’T ALWAYS TELL EACH OTHER WHO THEY VOTED  FOR.

THEN HE ADMITTED NIXON ‘WASN’T HIS CANDIDATE.” HE’D WANTED SOMEONE ELSE IN THE PRIMARY, HE SAID, BUT IT WAS GOOD FOR THE PARTIES TO FIGHT IT OUT AMONGST THEMSELVES BECAUSE THAT WAY, THEY CAME UP WITH TWO CANDIDATES, ONE OF WHOM, AT LEAST, “EVERYBODY DOESN’T HATE.”

NIXON HAD A NICKNAME, HE TOLD ME. HAD I EVER HEARD IT? “TRICKY DICK?”

I HADN’T.

WELL, DADDY SAID, HE THOUGHT IT WAS DESERVED AND THEN HE TOLD ME , THAT, DURING THAT TIME IN WASHINGTON WHEN HE’D MET JFK – 1952 – NIXON WAS A CONGRESSMAN ANGLING TO BE VICE PRESIDENT AND DADDY WAS WORKING FOR ROCHESTER NATIVE AND US SENATOR KENNETH KEATING, ONE OF DADDY’S MENTORS. KEATING’S SENATE JUDICIARY BUSINESS  HAD NOTHING TO DO, HE ASSURED ME WHEN I WAS OLD ENOUGH TO ASK, WITH THE HOUSE UN-AMERICAN ACTIVITIES COMMITTEE.  MY FATHER GOT A CALL FROM NIXON, OFFERING A NAME FOR AN INVESTIGATION LIST. MY FATHER ASKED WHAT THE PERSON HAD DONE TO REQUIRE INVESTIGATION, AND. NIXON SAID,  “YOU KNOW THE DRILL, GERRY. DOESN’T MEAN THEY’VE DONE ANYTHING,  I JUST WANT THEIR NAME IN THE PAPERS AS BEING INVESTIGATED.” MY FATHER SAID, “WE DON’T DO THAT,” AND HUNG UP.

LATER THAT YEAR, HE AND NIXON MET FACE TO FACE IN A RAILROAD CAMPAIGN CAR WITH IKE AND SEN. KEATING AND SOME OTHER MEN. NIXON WAS INTRODUCED ALL AROUND AND WHEN HE GOT TO DADDY, HIS WAS THE ONLY HAND NIXON DIDN’T SHAKE. HE LOOKED MY FATHER IN THE EYE, NODDED, AND SAID, “YES. I KNOW GERRY.”

MY FATHER ISN’T ALIVE TO SEE THAT A CRACKPOT THAT NOBODY THOUGHT HAD A CHANCE DID GET ELECTED, AND I’M GLAD. I LIKE TO THINK HE’D BE HORRIFIED, BUT I REMEMBER WHEN HE DISCOVERED RUSH LIMBAUGH ON THE RADIO AND TOLD ME THE GUY WAS HILARIOUS, THOUGH YOU COULDN’T TAKE A THING HE SAID SERIOUSLY. HE SHOULD ONLY KNOW HOW SERIOUSLY HE WAS TAKEN. I LIKE TO THINK THAT, BACK IN 1960, HE VOTED FOR HIS CATHOLIC 24TH COUSIN AND SO DID MOTHER.  BUT  I CAN’T SAY IT’S TRUE; IT’S JUST MY BELIEF. SO LET IT BE.

WHAT THERE IS EVIDENCE FOR – WHAT ANGERS ME AND MAKES ME SAD – IS THAT PEOPLE LIKE MY CLASSMATES IN THIS PICTURE MIGHT HAVE PUT TRUMP OVER THE TOP.

 

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OR MADE HIS WIN CREDIBLE ENOUGH TO STICK., HOWEVER IT HAPPENED, SOME OF THEM MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT IT UPSET GOD LESS IF THEY VOTED FOR TRUMP THAN IF THEY VOTED FOR HILLARY, BECAUSE TRUMP WOULD PUT THE PRO-LIFE GUY ON THE SUPREME COURT.  THEY FELT THEY WERE DOING THE RIGHT THING.

ALABAMA’S JUDGE ROY MOORE INSISTED ON KEEPING THE TEN COMMANDMENTS MONUMENT ON PUBLIC PROPERTY BECAUSE, HE SAID, IF WE DIDN’T PUT GOD’S LAW, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, ABOVE THE LAWS OF MEN, WE’D BE LOST.  HERE’S WHAT EXPERIENCE OFFERS AS A LESSON TO JUDGE MOORE, AND US ALL: JOSEPH KONY IN AFRICA RECRUITED CHILDREN TO MAIM AND KILL THEIR OWN FAMILIES IN THE NAME OF HIS RELIGIOUS BELIEF THAT GOD WANTED HIM TO ESTABLISH THE TEN COMMANDMENTS AS SUPREME LAW IN UGANDA. YOU CAN GET VERY, VERY LOST IN DEFENDING GOD’S LAW WHEN  YOU REFUSE WHAT EXPERIENCE OFFERS YOU AS  CONSEQUENCES OF YOUR OWN ACTIONS AND BELIEFS.

WE BIBLE-MINDED PEOPLE CAN TAKE GUIDANCE FROM THE STORY OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN. HE WAS JESUS’ HERO – THE UNPOPULAR MINORITY, NOT THE BUSINESS MAN, NOT THE RELIGIOUS MAN STAYING PURE FOR HIS VISIT TO THE TEMPLE.  IT WAS THE SAMARITAN  WHO GOT THE WOUNDED GUY HEALTHCARE AND PAID FOR IT UNCOMPLAININGLY. LET’S FOLLOW THAT EXAMPLE AND GET OFF THE ABORTION WARS AS A MATTER OF POLITICAL CONSCIENCE. LET’S TURN TO  A PROGRESSIVE CENTURY. AN AMERICA WHERE PEOPLE CARE FOR ONE ANOTHER THROUGHOUT LIFE, NOT IN AN IDEOLOGICAL REALM WHERE WE IMPOSE PURITY AND SUFFERING ON OTHERS FOR OUR OWN BELIEFS, BUT REALLY CARE, HANDS ON, TO RELIEVE PHYSICAL SUFFERING – WHICH, IN TURN, MAY BRING REWARDS OF PEACE NOT YET KNOWN IN OUR COMPETITIVE CULTURE.

 

TWO MORE PICTURES:

 

THIS IS FROM 1981. I WAS INTERVIEWED BY ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER JERRY BUCK FOR BEING IN ‘THE TWO OF US’ – THAT SHOW ADVERTISED ON MY COVER   OF TV GUIDE.  WE TALKED IN A RESTAURANT BEFORE WALKING OUT INTO THE SUNSHINE OF VENTURA BLVD. WHERE  A PHOTOGRAPHER WAS WAITING TO SNAP A FEW SHOTS. HE MADE ME FEEL PRETTY, AS  GOOD PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHERS DO, THEN HE WALKED AWAY.

JERRY BUCK SAID, ‘YOU SHOULD FEEL PRETTY GOOD ABOUT YOURSELF,  YOU JUST HAD YOUR PICTURE TAKEN BY A PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING PHOTOGRAPHER.”

“OH?” I SAID. “WHO’S HE DONE?” THINKING ELIZABETH TAYLOR? I WAS REALLY RISING TO THE HEIGHTS OF FAME NOW!

HE SAID, ‘REMEMBER THAT PICTURE OF THAT LITTLE GIRL RUNING AWAY FROM HER VILLAGE, COVERED WITH NAPALM, IN THE VIETNAM WAR?”

I STILL CAN’T TELL THAT STORY WITHOUT LOSING MY BREATH.

MY CELEBRITY PUFF DREAMS EVAPORATED AS THE REAL WORLD CRASHED IN, AND THE REVERBERATIONS WILL LAST UNTIL THE DAY I DIE.

I WAS WRITING MY MID-LIFE MEMOIR IN 1994 WHEN I WANTED TO TELL THIS STORY, SO I GOT IN TOUCH WITH NICK UT. HE WAS GLAD TO HEAR FROM ME. HE REMEMBERED. HE TOLD ME THAT THE GIRL’S NAME WAS KIM PHUC AND THAT HE’D STAYED IN TOUCH WITH HER, BECAUSE AFTER HE’D TAKEN HER PICTURE THAT DAY, HE’D HELPED HER GET TO A FIELD HOSPITAL.

IN FACT, SHE’D RECENTLY CALLED HIM, FROM CANADA, WHERE SHE’D MOVED, MARRIED, AND BECOME A MOTHER. SHE ASKED HIM TO COME UP THERE AND TAKE HER PICTURE AGAIN.

 

HERE IT IS.

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I DON’T HAVE A BETTER ENDING THAN THAT. THANK YOU.

About the Author
Public Relations - Cayuga PR - cathy@cayugapr.com

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