The Personal Nature of Politics

Those who know me fairly well, or know me over time, will know that I have strong political beliefs.  Those who do not know me but have read recent pieces I have written may be surprised that I would talk politics when my brother is in hospice and his life weighs so heavily on my heart and soul.

My brother, the little brother of my family, is nine years older than me.  I was born into a family of four brothers who were at various points between 9 and 18 years of age when I was born.

Nancy Hill and Brothers 1957

Summer of 1957: Roger, Nancy, Jim, Dave, and Max

Most of us do not consciously think about family as a concept much while we are young.  Family, like so many essential elements of human life, is so integral to our identities that we do not, cannot, separate the concept from our very selves.  As a deviant (yes I am one, and it is okay) a psychological only, an analytical observer from an early age, and an accidental after-thought to a family,  I probably think about family in relationship to culture and identity more than most people.

Roger is the only brother I actually remember as a brother, as someone with whom I remember playing.  Cops and robbers – I was the robber in jail (my crib,) – Cowboys and Indians,  and so on in a litany of 1950s-influenced, early-1960s game variations.

These were profound and defining memories that distinguished him from my older brothers whom I loved,  but who seemed more like what was probably more typical of an avuncular relationship.

His actions, viewed from a sisterly perspective, taught me the ways of the real world.

  • My first political discussion was with him. I was probably about four or five years old and we were walking together up from the barnyard to chicken coop.  The conversation topic was the Cold War and propaganda.  I said something about how the Russians would find our farm to be a wonderful place.  He laughed and said he didn’t think so.
  • My first awareness of global politics rending apart personal lives was with him.  In 1968 he walked across a street in Hue and the television screens of a hundred thousand homes, including mine,  on the nightly news,  helmetless, mustached, with an M14 slung over his shoulder.
  • My first awareness of police targeting of individuals was when I was in high school and the local cops began a decades long vendetta to jail him, one of those purportedly whacked out vets, for pot.
  • I first kept silent about personal assault when I was sexually assaulted when I was 15.  I could not let anyone know because I knew he that if he knew, he would kill the rapist and I did not want my brother to be executed or serve life in prison.

War, a needless war against an ideological boogeyman, communism,  half-way around the world from where we lived, sliced and diced his flesh like so much meat.  It hurt and hardened his psyche in a way that still breaks my heart.  He was the last soldier out of Khe Sanh, horrifically wounded there during the first week of August, in 1968, six weeks after the official end of the battle.

vietnam, hill 950

Through him I learned that countries and the economies in which those countries operate use the children of the poor, the underclass (whether through conscription or the economic draft) as cannon fodder and regard us as little more than slaves and sub-humans.  I see everything from taxation, in which we are taught to use the phrase “income tax” when we refer to wage taxes (to the exclusion of taxes on making profit from money, which is what income is) to election law and the Citizens United Supreme Court decision (talk about double speak!) that grants corporations, and the families they serve, the rights of individuals with none of the responsibilities, through this lens.

The pain and horror my brother suffered, because of war, impacted my family and all we were and are, and all we did and do, since the the late 1960s.

Women, the mothers-sisters-wives-daughters of the warriors who fight for the ruling classes and corporations, are the ones who must change our culture.   The price the workers and soldiers pay to preserve a society that cares nothing for them is a high one.  The price is the destruction and permanent underclass status of the families we women build and nurture.

My brother taught me this.  It is political.  It is personal.




Colorado City, TX to Dickson, TN

Woke up at the Days Inn in Colorado City, TX.  Got to sleep at 2 a.m. local time.  We were on the road for 12 hours yesterday.  Today it was nice to wake up and get on the road in windmill country.  All the trees here abouts, notice the use of the local vernacular, sort of list from the wind so it makes sense to harness wind energy here.

Spent a fair amount of time figuring out dog names
Zsu Zsu
Lady Gaga
Miss Kitty
Princess Leila
Jane’s Curtains
Barbara Steis-Hound
Jaba the Mutt

Hubby wanted BBQ so I googled BBQ I30 (what is this IH crap?) and Little Rock and found a place called Fat Boys BBQ.  Didn’t have a Yelp review. But we went anyway and while it was not what we thought it would be… who ever heard of white folks running a BBQ joint?  It was good.  I had a pork sandwich with cole slaw and potato salad on the side.  The meat was a tiny bit dry, but it was the very end of the day so I can’t complain about that; they were completely out of beef, and locked the doors behind us as we left. It was what I would call Kansas City style BBQ rather than the vinegar and mustard style you will find in Memphis and points east.

We’ve seen several “NOW HIRING” banners today at large plants.  The one we passed outside of Little Rock was in the transportation industry, and that is a leading indicator of the economy. I think the Republicans may be a bit nervous about things getting better.  Their window of opportunity for rolling back the New Deal and Great Society is closing, and they are sweating it and resorting to lies, outright lies, and damn lies.

I will talk about the economy but I will not talk about job creators and workers.  I talk about people.  People.  Period.

Ascribed status and its inheritance from generation to generation, that is why it is called ascribed status, is what the extremely wealthy want, and there is a big difference between passing the family farm down to the next generation and having an oligarchy.  Any time one group of people begins to think that they understand something that others cannot, or that they are anything more than lucky in birth, there is need for a revolution of sorts.

I recommend a book I brought with me on this trip called Beautiful Trouble: A Toolbox for Revolution, from the people who brought you the Yes Men, Billionaires for Bush, etc. which was assembled by Andrew Boyd and published by OR books.  My friend Rae Abileah contributed extensively to the book.  It is a collection of 1 to 3 page examinations of tactics, principles, theories, case studies, practitioners, resources, and bios.    It spans tactics from informational, direction action, to monkey wrenching presented by people who have used, developed, revised, and in some cases, abandoned, specific revolutionary elements.

Do not let your children read this or they will use these tactics on you, the authority they question.

Today I’ve noted the perversity that is conservative states.  We just passed a billboard about using corporal punishment as a good thing,
“Use the rod and save the child” was the reframed abuse encouragement I read on the billboard, believe it or not, and the next one up was for XXX adult warehouse discount stores.  Does anyone besides me see that the co occurrence of  publicly sanctioned perversity and sanctioned child abuse legitimized by Old Testament, North African Tribal customs may be more closely linked than the mainstream American would like to admit.

The sequester of normal desire away from integration into normal life leads to perversion and to the objectification not only of women but of children as possessions rather than life partners.
For good recent coverage of how to frame women’s health care outside of these same said patriarchal, tribal perspectives there is a good article by the guru of framing, George Lakoff,
in Huff Po today.

Photo Similarities Between the Times of the Great Depression & Great Recession

Pay Day Loan / Loan Sharks, 21st Century


Payday Loans, 1937


Dust Storm Over China - 21st Century


Dorothea Lange, Dust Storm, Great Depression


Spent some time today looking at National Archive photos and Wikimedia Commons pics and found these parallel pics.


Dorothea Lange’s photos of the Dust Bowl, Migrants in California, and the general sadness and despair caused by land abuse and economic abuse seem oddly contemporary.

Home Sweet Virtual Village

I can’t begin to do justice to any detailed explanation of just what the heck the metaverse is. But this sort of limitation has never stopped me. I’m absolutely sparkling with energy whenever anyone mentions virtual worlds. We’ve had virtual worlds inside our heads since the evolution of the capacity for language. We live in worlds that we create in our heads. We build worlds from input from eyes, ears, interaction with others, and our own understanding of the world. It is that understanding that is so crucial to really “getting” the concept of virtual worlds.

Just think about how a single bit of knowledge can shift everything in our “real world.” While I have many difficulties with the reasoning behind such actions in this example, I think most contemporary women in the western world can completely understand how the knowledge of an affair by a husband or life partner changes everything. Most women cannot view anything through the same lens once an affair is disclosed.

Similarly the mind’s eye is shaped by our understanding of it. Knowing that our reality isn’t real, as in immutable, changes everything. A new world is evolving. The created world that each of us has in our head can not in the foreseeable future be shared, but mutual realities beyond what we share with our families and most intimate friends began in earnest with oral traditions that contained epic tales. This aspect of shared reality enjoyed another burst of punctuated evolution when fictionalized worlds created by writers climbed the various rungs of shared cultural fictions (drama – think Shakespeare, novels – think Dickens, broadcast media – radio, movies, television, internet.) And now we are coming into the another phase of internet media and one that very well may indicate a change in kind and not just quantity – one that allows vast communally development of ideas outside of the physical world. Single novels each created by thousands of people. Vast networks of women providing direct markets to other women and bypassing the male constrained economic and political systems that may limit their access traditional forms of capital resources and mobility but not their creativity and drive to innovation.

I see organizations that work with global women’s concerns and I see non-profits that help women’s organizations, but most of these seem to mirror the male conceptualizations of hierarchy, corporate structure and hyper-territoriality.

I want to find out what women can do if they build community based on their conceptualizations. The endeavor that I’m undertaking is not only for feminists, communists, anarchists, lesbians or any other stereotype that is often associated with uppity women. What would a women-oriented, women-conceptualized network look like? What would it do? How would it do it? Why would it do it? The only answer I have is that I can provide one node in the answer to “Where would it do it?”

My answer, “here.”

— first draft written in Jan. 2010 on another one of my blogs

Gonna March, Gonna Dance!

The think I like about women’s activism is that it is like a bouncy session on a trampoline.  I visualize it as women standing on a web or net that overlays a map of the country or globe.  As a woman here or there becomes less active and sinks to a less active level, other raise up, and some are just bouncing like mad up to sky in near manic activity.

Women’s networks are amazing!

I’m going back to D.C. for a few days, the first time in almost three years, to catch up with all things PINK at the national level and to represent my family and friends in the OneNation March in D.C. on October 2nd.



We all do what we can, and I have to tell the current admin that we are demanding the change for which we voted and worked.  Drones are criminal. War is not the answer to anything. Education and jobs and taking care of people are what we need — NOT corporate and mega-wealthy tax breaks and propping up the military industrial complex.  Jobs from war funding are tainted jobs.

In a way it is sort of sad as I will be missing a great Pink & Green event here in Tucson, more on that later, but I will be reporting back often from D.C. with tweets, posts, pics and more.

I will also be dancing the night away at Poets & Busboys with Alice Walker and CODEPINK supporters.

I’m staying in a hotel and if there are any snorers who don’t mind bunking in a double with another snorer (major!) then contact me about rooming.   I get dibs on soaking my feet after a day of marching and dancing though!