The Debate a LONG Time Coming

U.S. Marshall escorting James Meredith to class at Ole Miss in 1962

I will be watching tonight’s debate knowing just how historical this event truly is.

Oh and gee, glad to know John McCain has decided to show.

Yes, the economy is in the toilet. It has been for sometime, Senator McCain.


Tonight’s debate and the INCREDIBLE significance of where the debate is taking place has been YEARS in the making and has come at a very high price for many Americans.

The acknowledgment of their sacrifices and their challenges should not be postponed one minute longer.

Segregation was and is horrendous. Why should any American have to fight, be humiliated or denied their right to receive an education based upon race [gender, religious beliefs, or sexual orientation]?

This is a terrible, terrible, unbelievably horrendous mark in American history.

I applaud those that stood up to an unfair system and created a path for either themselves and/or others to change the status quo.

Tonight is significant and I shall be watching.



Today a potentially innocent man is scheduled to be executed in the state of Georgia.

URGENT ACTION is needed!

Please read more about Troy Davis, his case, and then help justice truly be served — take action!

Help justice to truly be served. This case needs to be reopened and new evidence needs to be heard.

Please click here for more information.

My peaceful protest

A few years ago I joined a small group of women in a small town in Montana stand in protest of the war in Iraq every 1st Monday of the month. Our peaceful protest includes signs and little white Christmas tree lights – one light for each American military death in Iraq. (I don’t think this little town has enough lights to represent ALL of the deaths from this war in Iraq even if each of the 6,000 + residents donated their lights.)

Most of the women in this group are 50 years of age and above. I am in my 40’s and I was one of the younger women! I remember at one of the protests one of the really younger women (in her 20’s!) asked all of us if we were truly making a difference. I understood what she was asking…here we were in this little, tiny town in a state that has more sheep and cattle than it does people, and we were a little, tiny group of women standing on the sidewalk in front of the post office holding signs protesting a war that had more American military personnel fighting in it than we had people in not only our state, but in the two or three states next to us combined. Were we making a difference?

My dear friend Margot Kidder, one of the fearless leaders of our group and the original Lois Lane of the Superman movies, walked by with her sign just as this young woman asked that question. Margie (pronounced Margee) turned so quickly and responded emphatically, “Yes, yes, yes, we are making a difference and we will continue to protest because that’s what we have to do. It’s our right and it’s our voice that is going to make a difference. This country has changed before because of peaceful protesting and it will change again.”

Our peaceful protesting along with many other similar protests happening throughout our VERY politically conservative state helped to defeat long standing, senior Republican Senator Conrad Burns and elect Jon Tester (D). Senator Burns had been deeply entrenched in the Bush administration politics. Over the past couple of years, Senator Tester has been instrumental in the passing of the recent GI Bill, has worked tirelessly for American military veterans, and continues to speak out against the “war on terrorism” in Iraq.

Did our little group protest make a difference? Yes and it continues to do so.

More people are registered to vote in Montana now than at any other time in history. More people came out for the primaries than at any other time in history. And it’s not because of the political ads on TV or in print – those have been around during every election. It’s because of the small groups of people peacefully protesting, peacefully marching in the little, tiny 4th of July parades that take place each year, peacefully holding screenings of films like Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath, and American Made, peacefully talking with their neighbors they see outside or in the coffee shops or at the grocery store, peacefully sitting at a table passing out bumper stickers and yard signs at their local college, peacefully writing emails, blogs, letters to the editor, etc.

How funny…just as I was typing that last paragraph a film director friend of mine in Los Angeles sent me an email letting me know that the presidential race in Montana is tight – McCain is polling at 49% and Obama at 45%. He was asking in his email what I was going to do about it! (Right on, Lance!) For those that know me, that’s a funny question! I’m not much of a wallflower when it comes to something I believe in. (Lance, who does know me, was asking if as a Hillary supporter I was going to actively support Barack in MT. Lance very actively campaigns for Barack in California.) Yes, Lance…I am actively campaigning for Barack!

It is emails like my director friend Lance Mungia‘s today that inspire me to keep standing strong, to keep using my voice and to keep peacefully protesting and it’s stories like the one I’m about to share that continue to reinforce the words Margie stated a few years ago to that young 20-something-year-old girl.

In 1983, I traveled as a cast member in Up with People. A few days ago another alumni from Up with People sent me two links to a story I found incredibly inspiring. The friend who sent me the links traveled in Up with People in the 1970’s. For those of you not familiar with Up with People, the organization started in 1965 during a turbulent time in the United States and became fully recognized as a nonprofit organization in 1968. It started because a small group of people believed peacefully “protesting” violence in the world by means of music and song could make a difference. And they believed that the greatest impact would be made if the music and song came through young people brought together from all over the world to travel as a cast and get this…stay in people’s home as they traveled all over the world with their musical show!

You may be wondering what Up with People, Margie Kidder, Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath, peaceful protesting, and elections all have in common. The incredible story contained in these links brings it all together. With the upcoming presidential debate at the University of Mississippi, please take the time to learn about its history and why THIS debate at THIS place is so significant.

The presidential debate at the University of Mississippi is going to be truly historical. So much history has been made so far in this election…


In regard to peaceful protest and how it works to change the world, I believe the story contained in the two links speaks volumes.

I encourage each of you to read the stories and then as you watch the presidential debate on TV, give thanks to those that protested before us. And then keep running with the baton that has been passed to you. As my friend Lance wrote, his 4-year-old daughter needs me. She needs you. She needs each one of us to keep peacefully protesting because as Margie so powerfully stated, protests have changed this country in the past and they will change it again.

While I no longer live in the earlier mentioned small town in Montana, I continue my peaceful protest.

My peaceful protest is in each call I make on behalf of the Obama campaign, each email, blog, and letter to the editor I write, each sign I post and carry, each time I talk with a friend about Divided We Fall: Americans in the Aftermath, each 4th of July parade I march in, each time I pray for peace, each time I encourage people like Valarie Kaur to keep staying strong in her life, each time I see something special in film directors like Sharat Raju and Lance Mungia and I take action to get to know them as people and friends, and each time I write a blog people I don’t even know may read.

I shall continue to protest and I shall vote because a shockingly small group of incredible women won that victory for me 80 years ago.


I know I have victories to win for others.

Harold Koh, Dean of Yale Law School, recently told this year’s incoming students:

“When I was graduating from college, heading off to England on a scholarship, a family friend came to me at graduation and congratulated me on my accomplishments. My older sister, who was standing next to me, waited politely until the friend left, and then she asked, “What accomplishments? You have no accomplishments. All you have done is go to school!” She said, “There are many people who have no schooling but have made genuine accomplishments; and there are many people with world-class schooling but no accomplishments. And the difference between them is that those who have really accomplished something know what they stand for.”

Smart sister.

Standing for human rights, a change in America’s foreign policy, the end to genocide, peace in the world, and much, much more,

~ Penny

Montana, Google, and Android

Congratulations, Jeffrey Sharkey!

You put your brain to work and it paid off!

With a 2008 master’s degree in computer science from Montana State University in your hand what are you going to do next?

Right…win a $275,000 cash prize from Googleland!

When Google announced a design contest for their new cell phone operating system, Android, Jeffrey Sharkey heard the call.

Creating a system that uses a cell phone to read a product’s bar code and then using the phone’s Internet connection to read reviews, prices, product availability, and other information on the Web, Sharkey developed his entry, Compare Everywhere.

Compare Everywhere earned Sharkey a place in the top 50 out of approximately 1,800 applicants. With the top 50 placement, Sharkey was given $25,000 and the summer of 2008 to refine his entry. In August, Compare Everywhere was one of the final 10 entries to earn the top prizes in the Google contest.

Way to go, Jeffrey!

And people think Montana is just about mountains and cowboys.

The Real Sarah Palin

Before Sarah Palin came into the national spotlight, I campaigned against not just her stand, but also her  actions promoting big oil and aerial killing of wolves in Alaska. Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund recently produced a commercial that speaks volumes.

Warning: images in this video are gut wrenching and gruesome, but this is the reality of aerial killing of wolves and this is what Sarah Palin promotes.

OK, much clearer now!

I have no idea who wrote this, but I LIKE it! I received it as a FWD in an email.

I’m a little confused. Let me see if I have this straight…..

If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you’re “exotic, different.”
Grow up in Alaska eating moose burgers, a quintessential American story.

If your name is Barack you’re a radical, unpatriotic Muslim.
Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you’re a maverick.

Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable.
Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you’re well grounded.

If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive t hat registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs,
Environment and Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees, you don’t have any real leadership experience.

If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people,2020 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to become the country’s second highest ranking executive.

If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you’re not a real Christian.

If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you’re a Christian.

If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.

If, while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state’s school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant, you’re very responsible.

If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family’s values don’t represent America’s.

If you’re husband is nicknamed “First Dude”, with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn’t register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.

OK, much clearer now.

STOP the execution of Troy Anthony Davis

Please help stop the execution of Troy Anthony Davis. Take action here.

From Amnesty International USA:

Amnesty International
Press Release
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Human Rights Organization Demands Stay of Execution

Contact: Wende Gozan, 212-633-4247,
or Jared Feuer, 404-876-5661 x14,

(Atlanta, GA) – Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) is shocked that the State Attorney General’s office today has issued a death warrant for Troy Anthony Davis. Given that Mr. Davis has not been able to see justice served, the human rights organization maintains that the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles must prevent the execution.

“The Attorney General’s decision to issue the death warrant is an appalling display of injustice,” said Larry Cox, executive director for AIUSA. “Given the Georgia Supreme Court’s failure to order an evidentiary hearing for Mr. Davis, it is all the more essential that the Georgia Board step in. We are disappointed by the Attorney General’s decision to short-circuit justice.”

The death warrant is dated for September 23, signifying that his execution could occur anywhere from the 23rd to the 30th of this month.

“Last year the Georgia Board stated that they will not carry out this execution unless there is no doubt as to Mr. Davis’ guilt,” said Jared Feuer, Southern regional director for AIUSA. “Throughout his legal appeals, the courts have relied on technicalities to ignore essential evidence as to Mr. Davis’ guilt. Not only do doubts remain, but they are pervasive. Letting this execution go forward simply should not be an option.”

Mr. Davis was convicted in 1991 of killing off-duty police officer Mark Allen MacPhail. His conviction came despite police failing to produce a murder weapon or any physical evidence linking Mr. Davis to the crime. Since his conviction, seven of nine state witnesses have recanted or changed their testimony in sworn affidavits, during a time in which convictions relying solely on eyewitness testimony have come under scrutiny. One of the remaining two state witnesses is alleged to be the actual killer, but this lead was not investigated by police.

Support for Mr. Davis has been far-reaching. To date Amnesty International has collected more than 100,000 letters and petition signatures for Mr. Davis from Georgians as well as concerned citizens across the United States and around the world. Groups ranging from the NAACP and European Parliament have passed resolutions calling for Mr. Davis’ sentence to be commuted.