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Executive Vice President – Rebuild America Campaign
Melinda began learning about free enterprise at age 6, by running a lemonade stand and selling candy bars. These, she discovered, could be purchased three for a dime at a local store and sold for 5 cents each, along with lemonade.
She has studied the evolving dynamics of political and social change since she was a young teenager. She is also a columnist, self-published and published by others, the author of several books, and a published poet.
Most of her life has been spent in politics, working for social and justice reform from the convergent ideological position of left-libertarian. She is presently working on a book on the use of PR and political manipulation as tools of control by the corporate infrastructure, which she identifies as ‘Greedville,” which is also the name of a board game she has designed.
The term Greedville references the absolute size of the number of people, the 1%, now in control of the world economy, this number being around 100,000. Most people who think they are part of this ‘elite,’ she says, would be in for a rude shock, if Greedville were to succeed with their agenda.
She long since came to the conclusion that, “most of the people I met in politics were more interested in burnishing their bottom line than in the betterment of humanity and the world.”
Melinda read Conscience of a Conservative by Barry Goldwater when she was 11 and Atlas Shrugged when she was 12. For the next 12 years she confesses having been a firm and obnoxious Objectivist. She recovered, but views the experience as a useful exercise in learning to discern the difference between ideology, its rhetorical expression, and reality. She looks at the causes for conflict behind ideology which keep us from realizing our spiritual unity in the sacred.
Today, Melinda focuses on the need to heal and move on, assisting those who need to recover from trauma or from their inborn inability to love and lack of conscience. A study of those carrying these characteristics lead to a study of psychopathy. She has written numerous articles on the issue of psychopathy and sociopaths, who account, she believes, for many of our present problems since they behavior, including lack of a conscience and empathy, is not accounted for by our legal and court systems.
She believes until we understand the problem presented by psychopaths, we cannot solve it. As normal people, we love and trust others. Psychopaths are predators living within the envelope we create, founded on compassion and the capital of trust. Melinda am persuaded this can change and is presently pursuing possible remedies for psychopathy.
Melinda gave birth to five living children. She has never forgotten her daughter Abigail, who died before she could hold her in her arms. The death of her youngest child renewed her interest in alternative medicine and helping others to find life-affirming ways to live together. She believes people overwhelmingly want to do the right thing, and will.
Read Melinda’s story in her own words.
“In 1975, when we were gathering signatures to get Roger MacBride on the ballot for president, I discovered that I could get signatures faster than anyone by looking tired and explaining that I only needed X number more before I could take the kids home. When you are pregnant and have one in a Snugli and one in a stroller, this works like magic. I had determined ideological arguments did not work. People were moved to action by compassion and emotion, not ideas. They wanted to help me; they signed, despite their politics. This was a heart-warming experience and also began a thought process for me.
During that period I was Chairman of the Libertarian Party (LP) in West Los Angeles and my treasurer and I started the very first think tank dedicated to deregulation. We called it Stamp Out Unfair Regulations (S. O. U. R.). We had our founding meeting on a bus with my kids on our way to Culver City, to buy a head for my Selectric typewriter. We wanted, “real stationary.” I used one of the kid’s crayons to color the lemon shape we used as a graphic. I drew the lemon; we wrote it together. Wally went on to be Walter K. Olson of the Manhattan Institute, now of Cato, the author of The Litigation Explosion and The Excuse Factory. He told me later that the bus ride to Culver City was the defining moment in terms of his career.
Wally had just graduated from Yale then and was a member of Skull and Bones.
My three kids, all then under four years of age by 1978, went with me to every imaginable kind of event. Their first memories were collating parties and protests. Sometimes they carried little signs of their own I would make, taping the handles so there would be no splinters. Sometimes they got more active participation, for instance when we made paper shackles and they broke them for the cameras demonstrating the debt being accumulated in the non-trust fund of Social Security.
What to do about Social Security was an issue which has stayed with me.
I managed 24 campaigns, running once myself. I also organized protests, wrote radio ads, did interviews, and avoided committee meetings.
The LP morphed into an institution with all of the habits of a major party in, what for an institution, was the speed of light. Later, having studied the other parties, some things became painfully obvious.
The LP had been taken over by the people we know today as “NeoCons.”This was orchestrated by the political manipulations of Koch Brothers. Today you are seeing the same patterns with the Tea Party, far more overtly controlled by the Kochs.
For the first several years the LP had a tremendous amount of intellectual vigor, lots of new ideas, and much discourse. Activism was local, innovative, and effective. But around 1981 it started to fizzle like the air escaping from a balloon. Many struggled to make it float, but nothing worked for reasons not then obvious.
In 1987 – 1988, I served on National Committee for the LP. It was a deciding moment. I left, determined to learn more, study the issues, and find solutions. Joining the Republican Party was a way of observing politics from a different perspective. I decided if things don’t make sense I need to dig in and find out why.
Organizations – tools for human action – caught my attention. “How did they work?” Saul Alinski and others were added to my reading list. This lead to more study on sociology, neurobiology, and systems of all kinds.
In the meantime, my mother had died suddenly, sending shock waves through our family. Dad, growing infirm, moved in with my eldest sister, Anne Pillsbury Gripp, in Santa Barbara. Dad had asked me to make sure that a book was written about his father, Arthur C. Pillsbury.
In 1989 I had written a brief update of the family genealogy, an addendum, adding only to our line of the family, from The Pillsbury Book, published in 1895 by Emily Getchell. During that process I started my first time line to keep things straight. This technique proved to be very useful when I started looking at the generational dynamics of my own family. Adding dates and events, patterns emerged and the same technique worked for other lines of inquiry.
About my name
My name, Pillsbury-Foster, is not a combination of my ‘maiden’ name and a man’s name, but the names of the two families from which I am descended which most resonated with my sense of myself. Reading through an old law book, I realized the practice of taking a man’s name was a form which denoted a transferal of ownership from father to husband. I was not going there. Around 1974 I changed my name to Pillsbury-Foster, and this has been my name ever since.
Pillsbury is for my father and grandfather, a line of people whom I had always admired: Radical Abolitionists, suffragists, and workers for justice. Foster memorializes the family of Dr. Harriet Foster Pillsbury, my great-grandmother, a woman who attended the Women’s Infirmary of New York, finishing her education in 1880. She was also a suffragist and went on to run women’s clinics, setting these up in California when the family relocated there in 1883.
I discovered Harriet was the descendant of at least nine of the survivors of the Salem Witch Craft Trials. This lead onto the eventual merging of what had been two distinct lines of interest for me: politics and family history. There is still a lot we do not know about why people become who they are. But there is probably no better indicator of what you are going to do than family history and the culture and customs passed on through our earliest experiences.
Please note the Trials were not about witchcraft, but rather mark the first use of state power to seize the wealth of the accused using asset forfeiture. Salem paid reparations to the survivors of the victims in 1711. The events of 1692 should be called, “The first cause for a Court of Conscience for the Abuse of State Power in North America.”
I am a descendant of multiple lines of family, from both sides of my family, who fought for freedom in the American Revolution. I proudly joined the Daughters of the American Revolution years ago.
Parents teach us what is right, wrong, and true by what they do. We learn by watching them.
Dad died April 12, 1991. In late 1990 he complicated the task he had asked me to undertake regarding my grandfather. The time line work expanded into other areas about which I then knew nothing. My research broadened. This project is still continuing today, but parts can be found at Arthur C. Pillsbury Foundation.
In 1994, the Northridge Earthquake totaled our home in the San Fernando Valley. I spent the next two years cleaning up the mess and dealing with the death of my sister, Anne, of a heart attack in March of the same year. The heart attack took place in Tokyo while she was there on business. When we realized she was brain dead, she was medevaced back to the U.S. so her wish to die at home could be honored. She had long made her wishes known. Japan will not let you turn off the machines.
She took her last breath at her home on Verdura Road in the same room where my mother had died, with family gathered around reading her favorite book. I still miss her every day. Anne, and the Gifts Life Brings.
Our other sister, Carol Sylvia Pillsbury Holbert, had died of a heart attack on February 12, 1974, while I was pregnant with my second child and due to give birth within days. Carol is buried beside my parents in Porterville, California, and is never far from my thoughts.
Our oldest brother, Charles Arthur Pillsbury, suffered a heart attack in 2004 at age 59, resulting in years of aphasia. His condition continued to deteriorate and he died in 2010. Our youngest brother, Stephen Martin Pillsbury, survived triple-bypass surgery when he was 44 and is still living.
These loses renewed my studies of alternative health care, as the death of three siblings to the same cause, and near loss of my remaining sibling, forced me to confront my own heart condition. In 1997 and 1998 I survived two heart attacks. Using alternative approaches, acupuncture, Rolfing, and Yoga, and by changing my diet I was able to reduce my heart irregularity enormously.
In 1995, with enormous assistance from Dr. Jeff Singer and Tom Rawles, I put on a national convention in Santa Barbara for the Republican Liberty Caucus, a sort of libertarian adjunct to the Republican Party. We had scheduled 25 speakers, some of whom you would recognize as NeoCons. The convention also hosted a memorial to Roger MacBride, who founded the RLC, paying for the original organizing. Roger died March 5th, 1995, having asked me the previous November to host the convention for him.
Soon after this, several events occurred which resulted in my becoming the full-time caretaker for my son, Arthur Foster, who suffered two major brain injuries. The first occurred on September 27, 1997, as the result of a motorcycle accident. Although not expected to live, Arthur nonetheless returned to consciousness but with a severe brain injury. Six months later he shot himself through the brain. Again, he was not expected to survive and I was advised by his physicians to disconnect him from life support and donate his organs. I committed myself to Christ, and to prayer. Arthur returned to us.
After Arthur was again able to communicate I learned the attempt was caused by the manipulations of my estranged husband, his adopted father. He was motivated by the desire to avoid paying support for his disabled, adopted, son.
This event focused my attention on rehabilitation for Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which I continue to study. TBI and PTSD are major problems which can be solved, in large part. With so many people today impacted by emotional trauma these technologies, I believe, should be widely available so all of us can find healing and peace.
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