Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Dairy of a Last Chance Effort-Part 2

I had to leave the house this afternoon to go attend to an errand. I took my cellphone with me. If I have to listen to other people talk about stupid stuff on their cell phones, I can certainly continue calling Senators. The number is toll free.

2:30 p.m.
Byron L. Dogan ( D-ND)

When I ask the question, a representative from his office tells me he will oppose. I ask for clarification and she lets me know he will oppose the filibuster. "Why? I mean how will he vote on Alito?" "I don't know how he will vote." She says. I don't know what else to say. I'm standing near at the corner of Lafayette Street waiting for the light to change. I keep asking myself what is the use.

2:33 p.m.

I dial the toll free number and it just rings. Perhaps the Capital has grown weary of me and the phone calling "we-still-believe-bunch."

2:35 p.m.
My battery is getting real low. I wish I had bought the spare battery with me.

I’m walking down Broadway resisting the temptation to scream. When I get to the corner of Reade and Broadway, a store clerk is on a megaphone trying to get customers to come in. "$7.99, $5.99 come in and check it out!" Right after this nauseating plea, a man starts " Power ball! Get you Power ball tickets!" How do you wake people from the *^%$#@&* sleep they are in and get them to stop shopping from one stinking minute!

I cross the street to avoid some guy who saw me when I walked past him before. "Hey gorgeous" I say hello with my mind on my business and the phone calls I will make. "Hey, you ain't got time to build?" "What does that mean?" I'm usually very dismissive of this kind of approach. "Build, talk" "No I don't have time." In my head I'm really angry. "Build what? What the *#%#@! Do I look like? Did you call your Senator today? Did you help some old lady with her bag of groceries up the steps of her five-story-walk-up? Did you clean up the trash someone left in front of your building? Did you help some homeless, hungry person by passing up on something you wanted for yourself and get them a cup coffee or piece of bread? Did you give them the dollar they asked for without questioning what they wanted it for? Don't get me started!

When I get home I check my email. An email from Rich says, "Give it your all!!!"

At the laundry mat (yes again!) I'm still making calls. I skip down the list a bit.

6:02 p.m.
Joseph I. Lieberman (D-CT)

I still have images of him as running mate to Al Gore all those years ago. The switchboard connects me to his office. I get the voicemail. After the pleasantries of the "If you have an important message or comment, “ I’m told that the voicemail is full.

6:04 p.m.
Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI)

I take some time preparing exactly what I'm going to say. I write a little script on the side. The operator picks up. I ask for the senator. The operator corrects my pronunciation of his name, but the correction isn't as hares or demeaning as it was from the woman in Senator Landrieu's office. The voicemail come on. He is gone for the day. I leave another frustrated message. "A "No" for Alit is not enough! Filibuster!"

Is anyone really listening?

6:09 p.m.
Barrack Bema (D-IL)

I'm thinking about how Barrack Bema supported Condoleezza Rice's nomination for Secretary of State. I try to ignore my disappointment over that. I try to reassure myself that the only black Senator to date, only the third since Reconstruction has to listen. I start talking real fast when I get to that voicemail. " We love you here in Harlem. Please vote no for Alit and consider the filibuster. Think about out best interest." I continue with this diatribe on "Our founding father's creation of a system with checks and balances. Our system is like no other in the world. We need our Congress and Judicial system to keep this president in check." I think I got a bit nervous thinking I would run out of time. I think I said something about my kids and keeping the world with a three-branch system for their sake. I think I said something about our President going "Amuck." I was on a cell phone. I'm sure those who listen got it all on tape.

My daughter is saying something to me. " Can I make a call?" I'm delighted. It seems louder in the laundry mat. All the calls I've made have the sound of Dominican Bachata is playing over the sound system as I plead my case. "Who do you want to call?" I'm looking over the list of senator’s names and numbers. "No mom I don't want to call them, I want to call ____________” This is a boy she has a crush on. Or likes. Or is talking to. This has been going on for two weeks. I tell her not unless Thomas calls his Senator. I tell her, later. "This is important. Go Check the washing machines," Tomorrow I will call the ACRES program, that invited her to join them in a course on Civil Rights taught by those who were there.

Last Call;
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)

I'm compelled to call him. His voicemail isn't full. I start explaining that I live in New York, but grew up in New Jersey. My parents still live there. I ask him to go for the filibuster.

Later this evening:

I don't know what to do. Do I go to the protest in Times Square tomorrow? At least I will be among the angry. I want to make some noise in the street, just to blow off steam. In the meantime, I listen to Mike Malloy.

I check my email: There must be lots of people organizing on the Sojournors website. They are organizing State of the Union watch parties in states all over the United States as a way to build community and promote discussion.

I don't know what I will do. I will not be a spectator. This is no time to feel bad, bitch or complain. It's time to continue working on the grassroots level. My daughter says I should run for mayor. I laugh at this. But right now, I feel like why not me?

If you can't sit and do nothing:
MidtermElection.com- A website that gives the dates for all the Primary and General Election days for 2006.

Stuff to Read:
Buzzflash.com-Ten Questions That No One Bothered to Ask Americans About Sam Alito
www.counterpunch.org/ roberts01292006- "Blind Ignorance" by Paul Craig Roberts

Monday, January 30, 2006

888-355-3588/888-818-6641-SAVE OUR DEMOCRACY!

A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."

An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

An excert from Al Gore's speech "US Constitution In Grave Danger" Monday January 16, 2006, Constitution Hall, Washington

I still believe in the hope of this country. It is hard at times, but I can't stop because things look bleak.

I received an email last night sent to me by a good friend who keeps me in touch with all kinds of issues about the state of our American government. It began,

The list below is invaluable for efficiently sending out faxed letters or making phone calls to senators' LOCAL offices where the fax machines are not yet jammed. I have only found two, thus far, which are not answering. While most of you can send faxes directly from your PCs, I am sending mine manually. Although this process is a bit time-consuming, it's the least I can do. I expect to have "touched" every senator in some form [some more than once] by Monday morning. I hope you will join me. We only have a few hours left....

It continues with a message from my good friend. He says,

"We need to stop George Bush from getting 60 Senators to end the filibuster on Monday at 4:30 p.m. That means we must convince 41 Senators to either support a filibuster or stay away from the Senate on Monday, preferably by visiting maimed soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital."

Have you been keeping up with the decision on Alito? Do you even know what is going on with Alito, or who he is? I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't know what I'm talking about. Our media has been busy telling you about absolutely nothing that maters. So here is the basic deal. Alito is the latest Supreme Court nominee selected by the President. Judge Alito believes in the Unitarian executive doctrine which basically says the president has the power to say who can be in office, control them in office and remove executive officers and interpret the law as it applies to his office.

As of this writing Senators will be voting this afternoon on his nomination. Judge Alito on the Supreme Court would give powers to the President that would over ride much of the purpose of the congress and the Supreme Court. If Alito were voted in the two branches of government that serve and protect our country from being a dictatorship would slowly be chipped away. If you think extradition of suspected terrorists is bad, if you think the situation in Guantanmo is a horror just wait. Tourture is a human right violation.

Do you need more evidence that our government has ceased working for us? What of our soliders returning from Iraq? Where are they? How are they? Who is caring for the families of those who have lost loved one in a fight that just seems to have no end in sight? What of Hurricane Katrina and it's aftermath? Why haven't we heard anything about the money that was collected for those families, for reconstruction and for the right of return? Why haven't all those children separated from family members been accounted for? And why did those mines in Virgina have so many violations? Where is our government when it comes to protecting our safety in these instances? We have more of a chance of being destroyed by our own government than the bombs that they keep telling us our coming from people who " hate our freedoms." Tiranny is fast approaching. Our president is "signing statments" when he doesn't want to veto a bill, but doesn't really want to pass it. John McCain's Tourture Ban is an example. These statements mean that he is above the law. He want's the courts to interpret the law according to what wants and the people he represents. He is over running the courts and the congress. He will do what he wants and he is using fear to do it. He is over reaching his powers! Stop him. Call your Senator and let them know you want a Filibustor!

Below is a list of 44 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 3 Republicans whose support is possible - the "Alito 48."

We will keep a tally, relying on you to report back on your calls. (Dems.Com has taken the lead on organizing a scorecard on where we stand...please visit the site and send this link to your friends this weekend: http://democrats.com/alito-48)

* Names in PURPLE support the filibuster - don't call them [unless you are calling to say thank you]

* Bold names will probably vote against Alito, but oppose the filibuster - call them first! (Our info sources are numbered and linked)

* Regular names will probably vote against Alito, but have not declared their position on a filibuster - call them second!

This is the latest tally:

Total: 48
Goal or We Lose: 41
Filibuster supporter: 13
Plan to be Absent: 0

Here are the "Filibuster 48" with their direct phone numbers. You can also use these toll-free numbers (and ask for the Senators by name): 888-355-3588 or 888-818-6641.

Ask the question clearly: will Senator X support John Kerry's filibuster of Judge Alito, or will (s)he oppose Kerry's filibuster? We need a firm yes or no - be polite but persistent.

Filibuster Supporters [only call to thank]:

Barbara Boxer (D- CA) , 202-224-3553
Dianne Feinstein (D- CA) , 202-224-3841 (1,)
Christopher J. Dodd (D- CT), 202-224-2823 (1,)
Richard J. Durbin (D- IL) , 202-224-2152
John F. Kerry (D- MA) , 202-224-2742
Edward M. Kennedy (D- MA) , 202-224-4543
Paul S. Sarbanes (D- MD), 202-224-4524
Debbie A. Stabenow (D- MI) , 202-224-4822
Harry Reid (D- NV) , 202-224-3542
Hillary Rodham Clinton (D- NY) , 202-224-4451
Charles Schumer (D- NY) , 202-224-6542
Ron Wyden (D- OR) , 202-224-5244
Russell D. Feingold (D- WI) , 202-224-5323

[Filibuster Opponents - more details at AlitoTraitorWatch)

Filibuster Opponents - silent & scared:

* Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D- DE) , 202-224-5042

Wilmington Phone 302-573-6345 FAX 302-573-6351
Milford Phone (302) 424-8090 FAX (302) 424-8098

* Bill Nelson (D- FL), 202-224-5274

Tallahassee, 850-942-8415 (phone), 850-942-8450 (fax)
West Palm Beach, 561-514-0189 (phone), 561-514-4078 (fax)
Tampa, 813-225-7040 (phone), 813-225-7050 (fax)
Jacksonville, 904-346-4500 (phone), 904-346-4506 (fax)
Coral Gables, 305-536-5999 (phone), 305-536-5991 (fax)
Ft. Myers, 239-334-7760 (phone), 239-334-7710 (fax)
Davie, 954-693-4851 (phone), 954-693-4862 (fax)
Orlando, 888-671-4091 (phone), 407-872-7165 (fax)

* Daniel K. Akaka (D- HI) (1,), 202-224-6361

Honolulu Phone (808) 522-8970 FAX (808) 545-4683
Hilo Phone (808) 935-1114 FAX (808) 935-9064

* Mary Landrieu (D- LA) (1,), 202-224-5824

New Orleans Phone (504) 589-2427 FAX (504) 589-4023
Baton Rouge Phone (225) 389-0395 FAX (225) 389-0660
Shreveport Phone (318) 676-3085 FAX (318) 676-3100
Lake Charles Phone (337) 436-6650 FAX (337) 439-3762

* Byron L. Dorgan (D- ND) (1,), 202-224-2551

Bismarck Phone 701-250-4618 FAX 701-250-4484
Grand Forks Phone 701-746-8972 FAX 701-746-9122
Fargo Phone 701-239-5389 FAX 701-239-5112
Minot Phone 701-852-0703 FAX 701-838-8196

* Olympia Snowe (R- ME) (1,), 202-224-5344

Filibuster Opponents - loud & proud

* Mark Pryor (D- AR), 202-224-2353

Little Rock Phone (501) 324-6336 FAX (501) 324-5320

* Ken Salazar (D- CO) , 202-224-5852

Denver Phone (303) 455-7600 FAX (303) 455-8851
Colorado Springs Phone (719) 328-1100 FAX (719) 328-1129
Fort Collins Phone (970) 224-2200 FAX (970) 224-2205
Fort Morgan Phone (970) 542-9446 FAX (970) 542-3088
Pueblo Phone (719) 542-7550 FAX (719) 542-7555
Durango Phone (970) 259-1710 FAX (970) 259-9789
Grand Junction Phone (970) 241-6631 FAX (970) 241-8313
Alamosa Phone (719) 587-0096 FAX (719) 587-0098

* Kent Conrad (D- ND) (1,), 202-224-2043

Bismarck Phone (701) 258-4648 FAX (701) 258-1254
Fargo Phone (701) 232-8030 FAX (701) 232-6449
Grand Forks Phone (701) 775-9601 FAX (701) 746-1990
Minot Phone (701) 852-0703 FAX (701) 232-6449
Alito Supporters

* Ben Nelson (D-NE) 202-224-6551

Omaha Phone (402) 391-3411 FAX (402) 391-4725
Lincoln Phone (402) 441-4600 FAX (402) 476-8753
Chadron Phone (308) 430-0587
Scottsbluff Phone (308) 631-7614

* Tim Johnson (D- SD) , 202-224-5842

Aberdeen Phone (605) 226-3440 FAX (605) 226-2439
Rapid City Phone (605) 341-3990 FAX (605) 341-2207
Sioux Falls Phone (605) 332-8896 FAX (605) 332-2824

* Robert C. Byrd (D- WV) , 202-224-3954

Charleston Phone 304-342-5855 FAX 304-343-7144

* Ted Stevens (R- AK) , 202-224-3004

The Clueless Caucus: For Details visit AlitoWaffleWatch

* Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D- AR), 202-224-4843, fax: (202) 228-1371

Dumas, 870-382-1023 (phone), 870-382-1026 (fax)
Texarkana, 870-774-3106 (phone), 870-774-7627 (fax)
Little Rock, 501-375-2993 (phone), 501-375-7064 (fax)
Fayetteville, 479-251-1224 (phone), 479-251-1410 (fax)
Jonesboro, 870-910-6896 (phone), 870-910-6898 (fax)

* Joseph I. Lieberman (D- CT), 202-224-4041, fax: (202) 224-9750

Hartford Phone (860) 549-8463 FAX (860) 549-8478

* Thomas R. Carper (D- DE), 202-224-2441, fax: (202) 228-2190

Georgetown, 302-856-7690 (phone)
Dover, 302-674-3308 (phone)
Wilmington, 302-573-6291 (phone)

* Daniel K. Inouye (D- HI), 202-224-3934, fax: (202) 224-6747

Wailuku Maui, 808-242-9702 (phone), 808-242-7233 (fax)
Lihue Kauai, 808-245-4611 (phone), 808-246-9515 (fax)
Kaunakakai, 808-642-0203 (phone), 808-560-3385 (fax)
Honolulu, 808-541-2542 (phone), 808-541-2549 (fax)
Hilo, 808-935-0844 (phone), 808-961-5163 (fax)
Kealakekua, 808-935-0844 (phone), 808-961-5163 (fax)

* Tom Harkin (D- IA), 202-224-3254, fax: (202) 224-9369

Des Moines, 515-284-4574 (phone), 515-284-4937 (fax)
Cedar Rapids, 319-365-4504 (phone), 319-365-4683 (fax)
Davenport, 563-322-1338 (phone), 563-322-0417 (fax)
Dubuque, 563-582-2130 (phone), 563-582-2342 (fax)
Sioux City, 712-252-1550 (phone), 712-252-1638 (fax)

* Barack Obama (D- IL), 202-224-2854, fax: (202) 228-4260

Chicago Phone (312) 886-3506 FAX (312) 886-3514
Springfield Phone (217) 492-5089 FAX (217) 492-5099
Marion Phone (618) 997-2402 FAX (618) 997-2850

* Evan Bayh (D- IN), 202-224-5623

Indianapolis (317) 554-0750 Evansville (812) 465-6500 Fort Wayne (260) 426-3151 Hammond (219) 852-2763 Jeffersonville (812) 218-2317 South Bend (574) 236-8302

* Barbara A. Mikulski (D- MD), 202-224-4654, fax: (202) 224-8858

Salisbury Phone (410) 546-7711 FAX (410) 546-9324 Greenbelt Phone (301) 345-5517 FAX (301) 345-7573 (fax) Annapolis Phone (410) 263-1805 FAX (410) 263-5949 Hagerstown Phone (301) 797-2826 FAX (301) 797-2241 Baltimore Phone (410) 962-4510 FAX (410) 962-4760

* Olympia Snowe (R- ME), 202-224-5344, fax: (202) 224-1946

Auburn Phone (207) 786-2451 FAX (207) 782-1438
Augusta Phone (207) 622-8292 FAX (207) 622-7295
Bangor Phone (207) 945-0432 FAX (207) 941-9525
Biddeford Phone (207) 282-4144 FAX (207) 284-2358
Portland Phone (207) 874-0883 FAX (207) 874-7631
Presque Isle Phone (207) 764-5124 FAX (207) 764-6420

* Carl Levin (D- MI), 202-224-6221, fax: (202) 224-1388 - see notpoetry's ominous comment below

Grand Rapids, 616-456-2531 (phone), 616-456-5147 (fax)
Saginaw, 989-754-2494 (phone), 989-754-2920 (fax)
Escanaba, 906-789-0052 (phone), 906-789-0015 (fax)
Traverse City, 231-947-9569 (phone), 231-947-9518 (fax)
Lansing, 517-377-1508 (phone), 517-377-1506 (fax)
Warren, 586-573-9145 (phone), 586-573-8260 (fax)
Detroit, 313-226-6020 (phone), 313-226-6948 (fax)

* Mark Dayton (D- MN), 202-224-3244, fax: (202) 228-2186

Fort Snelling, 888-224-9043 (phone), 612-727-5223 (fax)
Biwabik, 218-865-4480 (phone), 218-865-4667 (fax)
Renville, 320-905 (phone)
East Grand Forks, 218-773-1110 (phone), 218-773-1993 (fax)

* Max Baucus (D- MT), 202-224-2651, fax: (202) 224-0515

Billings, 406-657-6790 (phone)
Helena, 406-449-5480 (phone)
Great Falls, 406-761-1574 (phone)
Missoula, 406-329-3123 (phone)
Butte, 406-782-8700 (phone)
Kalispell, 406-756-1150 (phone)
Bozeman, 406-586-6104 (phone)

* Frank Lautenberg (D- NJ), 202-224-3224, fax: (202) 224-9707

Camden, 856-338-8922 (phone), 856-338-8936 (fax)
Newark, 973-639-8700 (phone), 973-639-8723 (fax)

* Robert Menendez (D- NJ), 202-224-4744

Newark, 973-645-3030 (phone)

* Jeff Bingaman (D- NM), 202-224-5521, fax: (202) 224-2852

Santa Fe, 505-988-6647 (phone)
Las Vegas, 505-454-8824 (phone)
Albuquerque, 505-346-6601 (phone)
Las Cruces, 505-523-6561 (phone)
Roswell, 505-622-7113 (phone)

* Jack Reed (D- RI), 202-224-4642, fax: (202) 224-4680

Cranston, 800-284-4200 (phone), 401-464-6837 (fax)
Providence, 401-528-5200 (phone), 401-528-5242 (fax)

* Lincoln D. Chafee (R- RI), 202-224-2921, fax: (202) 228-2853

Providence Phone (401) 453-5294 Newport Phone (401) 845-0700

* Patrick J. Leahy (D- VT), 202-224-4242

Burlington, 800-642-3193 (phone)
Montpelier, 802-229-0569 (phone)

* Maria Cantwell (D- WA), 202-224-3441

Seattle Phone (206) 220-6400 FAX (206) 220-6404
Spokane Phone (509) 353-2507 FAX (509) 353-2547
Vancouver Phone (360) 696-7838 FAX (360) 696-7844
Richland Phone (509) 946-8106 FAX (509) 946-6937
Tacoma Phone (253) 572-2281 FAX (253) 572-5879
Everett Phone (425) 303-0114 FAX (425) 303-8351

* Patty Murray (D- WA), 202-224-2621

Everett, 425-259-6515 (phone), 425-259-7152 (fax)
Seattle, 206-553-5545 (phone), 206-553-0891 (fax)
Spokane, 509-624-9515 (phone), 509-624-9561 (fax)
Vancouver, 360-696-7797 (phone), 360-696-7798 (fax)
Yakima, 509-453-7462 (phone), 509-453-7731 (fax)

* Herb Kohl (D- WI), 202-224-5653

Appleton, 920-738-1640 (phone)
Eau Claire, 715-832-8424 (phone)
LaCrosse, 608-796-0045 (phone)
Madison, 608-264-5338 (phone)
Milwaukee, 800-247-5645 (phone)

* John D. Rockefeller, IV (D- WV), 202-224-6472

Fairmont, 304-367-0122 (phone), 304-367-0822 (fax)
Martinsburg, 304-262-9285 (phone), 304-262-9288 (fax)
Charleston, 304-347-5372 (phone), 304-347-5371 (fax)
Beckley, 304-253-9704 (phone), 304-253-2578 (fax)

* James M. Jeffords (I- VT), 202-224-5141

Let's Make History!

Diary of a Last Chance Effort

I've been calling to stop the Alito nomination this morning. Here's my log:

8:53 a.m.
I start with Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE). I was on hold for a while listening to some classical music. I then got a live person on the line. I asked my question: Will Senator Biden support John Kerry's filibuster? We need a firm yes or no. I’m polite like the email says I should be. The woman who has answered the phone says, “ Senator Biden has not made a statement. Just watch the news.” I’m taken back by this comment.
“I’ve been watching the news, there’s nothing on about it.” “Just keep watching the news. It’s all I can tell you.” Is she kidding? Well this is the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. No time to ponder such nonsense. Next call.

8:55 a.m.
I call Senator Schumer’s (D-NY) New York Office. No answer after 15 or 20 rings. I call his number at the capital this time. No hello this time. I get the voicemail. I get a message telling me to call the New York office if my call was of an urgent nature. Where are you Senator Schumer? Surely someone should be setting up the coffee maker?

8:57 a.m.
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
I get the capital switchboard. “Yes?” “Senator Bill Nelson’s office please.”
The phone rings and I get an automated voicemail. Bill Nelson voicemail box is full.
It’s weird to hear the “Good-bye” at the end. I haven’t spoken to anyone.

9:01 a.m.
Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI)
I call the switchboard again. “Yes?” “Senator Daniel K. Akaka’s office please?” Voicemail again. “Aloha” That’s pleasant. The voicemail continues to tell me that the office is closed. I’m told to leave a message. They say something at the end that is perhaps a way to say good-bye. I’m tempted to call that one back just to hear the message again and make out the word. Keep going. No time.

9:04 a.m.
Mary Landrieu (D-LA)
I get the switchboard again. Maybe someone recognizes that I’ve called a few times. I ask for Mary Landrieu. I say it Landroo. I’ve mispronounced her name. I was promptly corrected, clearly by someone who was annoyed. Don’t let that change the issue. Don’t get flustered, I tell myself. “I’m sorry, Senator Landrieu.” On her voicemail there is a lot of information for people affected by Hurricane Katrina. It instructs callers to call FEMA and the Red Cross. I feel bad calling. Am I taking up space someone might need on this voicemail? This is important too. I spill out my message in a hurry “ I’m sorry about what has happened in your state and I know that your people need help, but I’m calling about Judge Alito . . .” I end in a real nervous manner, with “Amen.” Now don’t ask me why I said that. It was something about the southern sounding accent on the voicemail. I was thrown off. I start thinking about my Baptist upbringing. By the time I left this message maybe I was now leaving prayers. I got my message across and left my phone number as I had done on much of the voicemail that asked to leave a message.

9:07 a.m.
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) capital office again. Busy. This is a good thing.

I continue to let my finger do the walking, in hopes that these senators will get to squawking!

Call 1-888-818-6641/ 888-355-3588 before the vote at 4:30 p.m. today.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

"I'm ready for my close up Mr. Demille"

So last week, Tuesday morning I'm reviewing papers from a new class I'm teaching and the phone rings.

It is the producer for Under The Learning Tree. He tells me he is still in Nevada. He tells me I will host the show that evening. To me that is the equivalent of "This is it kid, you’re on!" and my response, "I'm ready for my close up Mr. Demille." I was expecting him to tell me that “so and so” would be hosting or that he had given the learning tree hour to someone else until next week, but not this time.

He gave instructions. I quickly wrote everything down. “Call this one, find out if "so and so" do an interview, see what Cerine has lined up for this week, etc.” It was hard to focus. I had to contain my excitement.

Later that evening I am too nervous about Wednesday's show to sleep. I need a theme. I read articles on line. I'm searching for quotes. I need a playlist. What kind of music can I play for a show about people detained in various situations? I can't screw this up. As far as I'm concerned the whole world will be listening. At 3 am I finally go to sleep. I have dreams of me being late to the studio.

The day begins early, but I need all the hours I can get. I wake up at 6:30 in the morning to get everyone off to school and work. I sit reviewing my new students work for a few hours. There won’t be time later. I hate to disappoint students who've written something that I haven't made any comments on. By mid-afternoon, I'm doing last minute preparations for the show while cooking dinner.

At 6:30 that evening with the assistance of both children, I go to the laundrymat. Even four-year-olds can put clothes in a washer and dryer, and take them out. If this were the old days they would both be working right beside me anyway. At 7 o’clock I leave the older kid to monitor clothes in the dryer, while I take the tot home to have dinner and prepare for bed. My husband arrives home from grocery shopping. He goes to the laundrymat to bring the laundress home. I go to sleep.

I’m up two hours later. I have to finish the creating the playlist. It includes the following: Marvin Gaye's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner", U2's "Pride (In The Name of Love)", Lenny Kravitz "Are You Gonna Go My Way", Celia Cruz's "Guantamera" and Angelic Kidjo's "Worth Fighting For.”

I'd left from home later than I wished. I was on the phone with Kamau. I headed to the A train two blocks from my home instead of the going to the train that would have put me closer to the station. I can’t get the vending machine to give me a metrocard fast enough. It won’t accept my crinkled bills. I miss the downtown train. This puts me in an unnecessary panic. I pace and begin to doubt my abilities. I pace in the station for twenty minutes before the next train arrives. When I get off the train I hurry to the station. I don’t feel any of the cold air blowing in from the river at the end of Wall Street.

I arrive at the station well after 1 o’clock. After 15 minutes I find the engineer. He hadn't been contacted to do the engineering for the show. I stand there silently. “Engineering for someone you haven’t done it with before is like painting a picture for the artist. You don’t know what they want, when they want it.” We get over the awkward moment slowly. “Okay.” He says. “We don’t have much time,” He begins looking for blank disc. He asks me what my topic is. He runs through a checklist: Guest? Phone numbers? “Have you called them?” I pull out my computer to check the CD and he says "Please tell me your music is not on that computer?" “No, it's on disk.” I am proud of my preparation until I realize that I created this disk on the computer at home and not my laptop. The disk is reading "track 1, track 2 etc., I start to listen to each song and write the list for the engineer, trying to decide what song I want in what order. It's 1:50 am. We need to go on the air in 10 minutes. I give the disk to the engineer. “Any particular order you want?” “I don’t want to stress you out Sydney, just play it straight through. It doesn’t really matter what comes when. It is all appropriate.”

I go in and the previous host and I greet each other. I’m so frazzled, I almost don’t want to speak to him. I just want to sit in the chair and get this over with. Suddenly the opportunity of broadcasting live and being in charge doesn’t seem like such a hot idea. The audience for this show is very discerning. Are they going to want to listen to me? Do I really know what I’m talking about? I wonder if I’ve studied the issues enough, prepared appropriate questions, I don’t even really like the sound of my voice, who do I think I am? Wahhhhhhhhhhh! Oh my Gooooooooood!
Who am I kidding?

Sydney starts giving me directions, asking questions: “Do you have your introduction, do you want to come in at the end of this?”

As the opening music plays I realize that it was the theme used by Dr. Carlos E. Russell’s show “Thinking It Through.” I remember the morning I discovered him a year ago. On that night he presented this question, “If radical reconstruction of America is desired, if it could be achieved, is it possible to bring to fruition. . .etc.” We had a 15 to 20 minute conversation. I remember him asking me if I was a “Pollyanna.” It was a term he used when referring to himself and anyone who was an idealist. That conversation made me think seriously about what I was already doing to be a part of the solution. It was that conversation that made me search deeply for what would give meaning and purpose to my life.

Now I’m on the radio. I’m helping to facilitate the conversation of dissent, to listen, to learn, to share and encourage. In this climate of detentions, disappearances, human rights violations, eminent domain and gentrification, the breaking of unions, what I am doing is important. In this time of our government and president “gone wild”, this is important. This is not a time to freak out. This is my time to do my part in the realm of independent media.

The engineer gives the signal. “Good morning. Thank you for tuning in once again to Under The Learning Tree. I am Anna Limontas-Salisbury also known as warrior pen and I’m sitting in for Kamau Khalfani.” And so it went.

Monday, January 02, 2006


10 things to look forward to this year in no particular order, as they are all great in their own special way.

1. Moving. Yes moving as much as I am not looking forward to the task of packing away 3 bookshelves of my husband's comic books, 2 shelves of stuff he uses for reference (he’s a graphic artist), and stuff my children refuse to throw away. I know moving is in our plans this year, perhaps at the end of the month if the deal we are seeking goes smoothly. Don't want to say too much about it, you know what they say about counting your chickens before they hatch. . .

2. Moving to a home that will have an actual bedroom with a door and a lock. For five years my husband and I have been in a one bedroom apartment with our two children. Sound impossible? No darling, everything is possible with Ikea. Really! I've actually enjoyed hiding in the loft bed in the children's room for privacy and quiet. I can blog lots up there. And our new place will have a basement. I’ll stop talking about it, don’t want to ruin our shot at something as precious as more space and privacy.

3. Choosing work ventures carefully. A work situation that will provide some cash and still allow me to have a life not hindered by a job.

4. The television show. Yes I'm going to actually get to stop people on the streets of New York and ask them all sorts of intriguing questions for public access television. I 'll have guests few have ever heard of and we'll talk about real issues and nonsense too! I have no idea what the producer of this show wants me to do, but hey who cares. This is a fantasy many of us want to be called for and few are chosen. And I thought co-hosting a radio show and being a mama was enough!

5. I look forward to getting published. Other wise at the end of the year, I could just as well publish the growing stack of rejection notes, emails, thanks but no thanks etc. One publication actually sent me a letter that had a series of check list in which one of the choices were the following: “We liked this, but it does not met our editorial needs” or some other such nonsense!

6. Spring. I can always look forward to spring. It is the one thing that I know for sure about this year.

7. Writing about a variety of topics. There will always be misery and something to complain about, but I'd like to blog about more.

8. Walking around naked at least once a day. This is a must. For those of you who haven't tried it, you just have forgotten how to live. Walk naked in all the places your mom told you that nudity wasn't polite or decent. Go for the kitchen.

9. Bathing. I've grown up with bathing as a ritual so I look forward to enjoying this passion. I love the sound of the water as it runs into the tub. I love the echo sound of water in my bathroom. We have high ceilings. When I lay in the tub as the water pours in, it's like I'm in a cave. I love the feel of water, the taste, and all the tools of bathing from the type of sponges to the sea salt, and oils or soaps. My favorite soap comes from a factory in Brooklyn right on Atlantic Ave. I can’t remember the name of the brand right now, but they sell this African Black soap that is to die for. I think it’s Nubian Heritage. I love their stuff so much. I could work there. I suppose I could mix soaps to bring in cash. I wonder if it’s done by hand or a machine?

10. Breathing like I mean it.