Progressive Calendar 01.03.07
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2007 10:09:25 -0800 (PST)
              P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    01.03.07

1. MN budget/women    1.03 12noon
2. Welfare rights     1.03 12noon
3. Immigrant/arts     1.03 12noon
4. Full moon walk     1.03 7pm

5. Somali youth       1.04 1:30pm  late word - POSTPONED!!
6. Eagan peace vigil  1.04 4:30pm
7. Northtown vigil    1.04 5pm
8. Small is beautiful 1.04 5pm
9. Ground Truth/f     1.04 7pm

10. John Stanton     - US leaders promise more pain & destruction
11. Jonathan Weisman - Left activists seek bolder approach to war, spying
12. Chris Hedges     - America's holy warriors

--------1 of 12--------

From: erin [at]
Subject: MN budget/women 1.03 12noon

Minnesota Women's Consortium
Today, Wednesday, January 3: The Consortium hosts a Brown Bag discussion
reviewing the state budget process and the budget's effects on women, on
the opening day of the 2007 legislative session. Noon-1PM at the Women's
Building.  RSVPs are always appreciated.

--------2 of 12--------

From: Welfare Rights Committee - Alt Email <welfarerights [at]>
Subject: Welfare rights 1.03 12noon

JOIN the MN Welfare Rights Coalition and the Welfare Rights Committee at the
Opening Day Rally on the Capital Steps

Wednesday, January 3, 2007
12 noon
MN State Capitol, Front Steps

Stand up & Fight Back! with the Welfare Rights Committee and MN Welfare
Rights Coalition this 2007 Legislative Session.

WRC and our supporters will again be a visible force at the capital to
protect programs for poor and working families of MN. We will keep the
pressure on the politicians and the Governor so that we can stop the
attacks on poor, undo all cuts from 2003, and to make sure the agenda of
poor and working people are heard!

Download the flyer from Welfare Rights Committee's website:

Some of the items that we will fighting for:
1. Raise the Welfare Grants.
2. Stop Workfare/Slave Labor
3. Undo Cuts to Welfare.
4. Stop the Five Year Time Clock.
5. Stop Attacks on Immigrants
6. Childcare: Undo Co-pays and Increase Eligibility
7. Stop MA Co-pays

Groups can still endorse MN Welfare Rights Coalition's opening day rally!

INITIAL ENDORSERS INCLUDE: Low Income People Organizing for Power-Duluth,
Alliance of the Streets, Somali Justice Advocacy Center, Twin Cities Peace
Campaign Focus on Iraq, Jobs Now Coalition, SAACP; Anti-War Committee; State
of MN Council on Black Minnesotans; United Food and Commercial Workers Local
789; St. Paul NAACP;Women Against Military Madness, Communities United
Against Police Brutality, Woman's Political Alliance, Anti-War Organizing
League, St. Joan of ARC/WAMM Peace Makers, Community Stabilization Project

For more information contact the Welfare Rights Committee and Minnesota
Welfare Rights Coalition 310 E 38th St #207, Minneapolis, MN 55409 pho:
612-822-8020 Fax: 612-824-3604 welfarerightsmn [at]

--------3 of 12--------

From: Jim Pounds <jim [at]>
Subject: Immigrant/arts 1.03 12noon

Intermedia Arts presents
Immigrant Status: Contributions
Brown Bag Dialogues with International Artists

How does art heal?
How do immigrant artists demystify culture and religion through their
How do art and religion affect the social, cultural, economic,
political aspects of our communities?

Spend your lunch hour in the newly renamed Sandy Agustín Gallery at
Intermedia Arts, discussing Art and Healing and Art and Religion with two
featured gallery artists: Dr. Niccu Taffarodi (Iran) and Koffi Mbairamadji
(Chad). On December 13, 2006 and January 3, 2007, Intermedia Arts hosts
two Brown Bag Dialogues designed to examine the intersections between life
and art from a world perspective. These Brown Bag Dialogues are part of
Immigrant Status, a four-year multidisciplinary arts series that sheds
light on the many variations of the new immigrant experience.

Koffi Mbairamadji, a native of Chad, started his paintings years ago as a
habit, then it turned into an interest and then, part of his daily life.
He uses several sources of inspiration such as the Bible and nature, which
he sees as "God's fingerprints."  Koffi was introduced to Intermedia Arts
when he was selected as a featured artist in the first edition of
Immigrant Status: Ndimgbe. He has been a part of numerous art shows in the
Twin Cities. Koffi's talents reach out beyond the visual arts. He is
editing an independent film that he wrote, directed and produced entitled
"Le Mediateur", and has designed a children's book entitled African
Savannah Stories.

Art and Religion featuring Koffi Mbairamadji (Co-curator; Immigrant
Status 2007)
Wednesday, January 3, 2006
12-1 PM at Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
All Brown Bag Dialogues are free and open to the public.

On September 28, 2006 Intermedia Arts opened a new gallery exhibit
entitled Contributions. This exhibit honors the creative contributions
of the many visual, performing, media and literary artists who now call
Minnesota home. Contributions is the fourth and final installment of
Immigrant Status, which was created in response to the loss experienced
by Minnesota's immigrant community following the death of Senator Paul
Wellstone. The project uses the arts to explore the impact of current
policies and conditions on new immigrants (defined here as having lived
in the United States for 25 years or less). Immigrant Status:
Contributions was created by, for and about new immigrant artists,
curators, and community leaders.

Funding for Immigrant Status generously provided by The Wallace
Foundation, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation, Bush
Foundation, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation.
Intermedia Arts is a catalyst that builds understanding among people
through art.

CONTACT: Jim Pounds 612.874.2817 jim [at]

--------4 of 12--------

From: Susu Jeffrey <susujeffrey [at]>
Subject: Full moon walk 1.03 7pm

New Year's Full Moon Walk
Around the Coldwater Area
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Gather 7 PM, Walk 7:15 PM
Theme: Resolutions
1) Peace
2) Get more exercise
3) .
Traditional Group Howl

Meet: at the South end of Minnehaha Park. From Hwy 55/Hiawatha turn East
(toward the Mississippi) at 54th Street and circle around to your left into
the pay parking lot.

Sunset 4:44 PM
Moonrise  4:40 PM

--------5 of 12--------

From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at]>
Subject: Somali youth 1.04 1:30pm

I wanted you to know that the Civil Rights Department with be presenting a
Report on Somali Youth Issues to the Health, Energy and Environment
Committee meeting on January 4th, 1:30 pm at City Hall in the 3rd floor
City Council Chambers, room 317.

Shukri Adan will be presenting the report that explores some of the
challenges facing Somali youth and recommendations for positive steps that
we can take to help. There should be time available for comments from the

I am sorry the report is not available on line at this time.  I will try
to send it along later.  For now, though, I wanted to make sure you knew
about the meeting in case you are able to attend. Please feel free to
share this information with others who may be interested.

Cam Gordon Minneapolis City Council Member, Second Ward 673-2202, 296-0579
cam [at]

--------6 of 12--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 1.04 4:30pm

CANDLELIGHT PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest
corner of Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs
and candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends
south of the river speaking out against war.

--------7 of 12--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 1.04 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------8 of 12--------

From: Jesse Mortenson <jmortenson [at]>
Subject: Small is beautiful 1.04 5pm

First and third Thursdays of the month
12.02 5pm
Cahoots coffeehouse
Selby 1/2 block east of Snelling in StPaul

Limit bigboxes, chain stores, TIF, corporate welfare, billboards; promote
small business and co-ops, local production & self-sufficiency.

--------9 of 12--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Ground Truth/f 1.04 7pm

Begin the new year with a fresh understanding of what it is like to be a
soldier trained to kill and then return home.

On Thursday evening January 4th at 7:00 PM at Ascension Episcopal Church
214 N 3rd Street in Stillwater, Mike Perkins,with Military Families Speak
Out,,and Chante Wolf of local Chapter 27, Veterans for Peace, will show
and discuss with us the documentary

The Ground Truth: The Human Cost of War.

It shows how we train our soldiers to kill but do not take responsibility
for the devastating psychological and physical damage they experience in
war. We send young men and women off to war and then often ignore their
struggles to adapt when they return home.

Things that have been - a most enjoyable December retreat. Things to come.

Some valley peacemakers are on the agenda for the Stillwater City Council
Tue Jan. 2nd to present the valuable asset that a Peace pole would be in
our city Park. We are not interested in flooding the meeting with people
but if you have any experience with peace poles that would help us present
our case please send us a note.  or call earthmannow [at] scot 651
999 9560

--------10 of 12--------

American Leaders Promise More Pain
Appetites for Destruction
January 2, 2007

Just 32 years ago in 1975, former US President Gerald Ford (unelected to
both the vice presidency and the presidency) served as master of
ceremonies for the close of the Vietnam War. There are two images that
remain seared in the minds of many around the world from that terrible 10
year debacle and defeat. One is a photograph taken by Hubert van Es during
the fall of Saigon depicting Vietnamese civilians climbing to the top of
an apartment building frantically attempting to board a US helicopter. The
other is a photograph taken by Nic Ut of a young Vietnamese girl, Phan Thi
Kim Phuc, her flesh seared by napalm in a US aerial assault. She is
running down a road, naked and screaming.

Thirty-two years later, as much of the world celebrated religious and
cultural holidays, and prepared to greet the new year 2007, its newspapers
and electronic media outlets depicted photographs and video of the hanging
of former Iraq Dictator Saddam Hussein. The 21st Century and the
freedom-loving US government approved a good old style 1800's hanging in
Iraq. Hussein, guilty of mass murder, swinging from a rope in a stairwell
somewhere in Baghdad. In 1975, Ford and Kissinger gave a green light to
Indonesia's invasion of East Timor which left some 200,000 dead.

As an aside, perhaps Americans should be reminded of its history with
hangings and what's likely to come from 21st Century military tribunals.
According to Wikipedia,

"the largest single execution in United States history was the hanging of
thirty-eight Lakota people convicted of murder and rape in the Sioux
Uprising. They were executed simultaneously on December 26, 1862 in
Mankato, Minnesota. A single blow from an axe cut the rope that held the
large four-sided platform, and the prisoners (except for one whose rope
had broken, and who consequently had to be restrung) fell to their deaths.
The second largest mass execution in United States history was also a
hanging: the execution of 13 African American soldiers for their parts in
the Houston Riot. Notably, both incidents involved ethnic minority
defendants, and military tribunal judgments in time of war."

                        Appetite for Destruction

The two images from the Vietnam War and the photos and video of the
hanging of Hussein capture in vivid detail the end results of strategies
and tactics designed and executed by incompetent American leaders. Failure
is everywhere in the stills and video. Failure to manage risk, failure to
anticipate, failure to understand, failure to have compassion for human
life, failure to accept change, failure to realize that perception is
often not reality. Title, rank or advanced degree have never been a
barrier to poor decision making or the maniacal drive for power to ensure
a lasting place in world history. On what basis can one make such an
outrageous claim?

What's the record of the US leaders since 1975? Some of the highlights
include: Vietnam War; Cold War (post Cold War mis-management); Iranian
Revolution/Hostage Crisis; Iran/Contra; HIV/AIDS (1980's); Grenada War;
War on Drugs; Panama War; Iraq War I; Iraq War II; Afghanistan War I;
Somalia I (think Blackhawk Down); Yugoslavia/Bosnia War; Ethiopia vs
Somalia War (US now backing Ethiopia); War on Terror; Israel vs
Lebanon/Hezbollah (US backing Israel); Lebanon Stability Operation (200
plus US Marines needlessly sacrificed); botched presidential election of
2000 decided by US Supreme Court; 911 attack on New York City, New York
and Arlington, Virginia; military tribunals,; income disparity (US middle
class disappearing); tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; health care
cost increases; record foreclosures and bankruptcies in 2006; 2007
recession looming; sanctioned domestic electronic surveillance, refusal to
honor international treaties, nuclear proliferation (Egypt and Saudi
Arabia will now build nuclear reactors); global warming; over 3,000
Americans dead and many more thousands maimed in Iraq II and Afghanistan
I; military families on food stamps; unprecedented national debt,
unreliable infrastructure (electrical grids, for example); 911 Commission
and Iraq Study Group; and now trial balloons being floated for a return to
military conscription.

But the nail in the coffin, so to speak, is that "The Vote" does not
matter one bit. The 2006 mid-term elections in the USA sent a clear signal
to US leaders that the time had come to get out of Iraq. And yet as the
new year enters, Democrats and Republicans, CEO's and Generals are united
in their support for a troop "surge" in Iraq. Those in charge in America
are creating the conditions which lead to open revolt. When votes do not
matter, when draconian laws and regulations weigh on people, when
employment is uncertain, and there is no longer any outlet for expression,
frustration and anger set in. That leads to violence.

[So are we going to honor these traitorous parties by voting for their
candidates in 2008? What difference will a vote for Hillary make, other
than allow us to do little or nothing effective till November 2008, allow
the Dems to do their patented sellout on all important issues, and feel
good for a day or two after the election before it all comes crashing
down? Denial will cost us two years of effective action, two years in
which the criminal ruling class will screw the world even more
mercilessly. -ed]

                          Operation Roadrunner

And what do the folks in charge offer as solutions? Catch phrases and
information manipulation. Over at the Pentagon the thinking on Iraq II is
something like this: go long, go short, maintain, get out, go left, go
right, go, go down. Is this what $1 trillion a year buys. Meanwhile, the
President, with his staff in tow, tells the American people. "...My heart
breaks everyday for our dead soldiers and their families. Next
question...Go shopping." Are you kidding?

What's next!? Cartoon character Wylie Coyote briefs the Joint Chiefs,
President Bush and incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority
Leader Harry Reid. Speaking on guarantee of anonymity, a source who was at
the briefing said that, "Mr Coyote provided some keen insights that are
applicable to the Global War on Terror, The War on Terror, The Long War,
The Asymmetrical War, The Irregular War, The Calling of Our Time War. The
President and Joint Chiefs were receptive. The Pentagon feels that if Mr.
Coyote had the space, sea and land assets that we now have, he would have
caught that Roadrunner whom we see as an example of your basic modern day
Al Qaeda/Anti-American terrorist. Mr. Coyote was far ahead of his time in
the use of technology from defense contractor ACME and his understanding
and application of psychological operations techniques. We appreciate his
timely advice."

The world waits in horror for a congressionally mandated commission
co-chaired by former President Bill Clinton and Former President George
Bush II to study every commission created from 2001 to 2008. Why not Homer
Simpson and Sponge-Bob Squarepants?

What more can be said about the down right crappy leadership that the
American public and the world have endured for a little over three
decades. Clinton promised "A Bridge to the 21st Century." That bridge
needs to be demolished and a new one built. Unfortunately it is going to
fall to the next three generations to fix it, if they can. It's time to
listen to the words of Malcolm X, speaking at Oxford Union, UK in 1964.

"I read once, passingly, about a man named Shakespeare, who wrote
something that moved me. He put the words into a character named Hamlet
who said, 'To be or not to be'. He had a doubt about something. 'To suffer
the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.' Compromise. 'Or to take up
arms against a a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them.' And I go for
that. If you take up arms you'll end it. But if you sit around waiting for
the ones in power to change things you'll be waiting a long time. In my
opinion young people today, whites, blacks, browns whatever else there is,
must realize that they live in a time of revolution, a time of change.
Those in power have abused it and there has got to be change. A better
world needs to be built and the only way it is going to get built is by
extreme methods. I will stand with anyone, I don't care what color you
are, as long as you want to change the miserable condition that exists on
this earth."

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political and
national security matters. Reach him at cioran123 [at]

--------11 of 12--------

Activists on the Left Applying Pressure to Democratic Leaders
Liberals Seek Bolder Approach to War, Spying
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 3, 2007; A03

Democratic leaders set to take control of Congress tomorrow are facing
mounting pressure from liberal activists to chart a more confrontational
course on Iraq and the issues of human rights and civil liberties, with
some even calling for the impeachment of President Bush.

The carefully calibrated legislative blitz that Democrats have devised for
the first 100 hours of power has left some activists worried the passion
that swept the party to power in November is already dissipating. A
cluster of protesters will greet the new congressional leaders at the
Capitol tomorrow. They will not be disgruntled conservatives wary of
Democratic control, but liberals demanding a ban on torture, an end to
warrantless domestic spying and a restoration of curbed civil liberties.

The protest will be followed by an evening forum calling for the
president's impeachment, led by the Center for Constitutional Rights,
antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan and a pro-impeachment group called World
Can't Wait.

Those priorities will not be in evidence inside the Capitol, where the
newly sworn-in Democratic Congress will immediately begin work on new
ethics rules, the reinstitution of federal deficit controls and new
policies designed to increase civility in House proceedings. In the coming
weeks, Democrats plan to pass bills designed to raise the minimum wage,
lower prescription drug costs for Medicare recipients and interest rates
for student borrowers, bolster homeland security and boost alternative
energy research.

Nowhere in the Democrats' consensus-driven agenda is legislation
revisiting last year's establishment of military tribunals and suspending
legal rights for suspected terrorists. Nor is there a revision of the
civil liberties provisions of the USA Patriot Act, a measure curbing
warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency or an aggressive
confrontation of the president on his Iraq war policies.

To Democratic activists and some lawmakers, the agenda skirts the larger
issues that damaged the president's approval ratings and torpedoed
Republican control of Congress.

"We've been told for many years, 12 years now, 'Wait until we get in
power. Then you'll see things change,' " said Debra Sweet, national
director of World Can't Wait, a pro-impeachment group helping to organize
the protest. "We'll give them a couple of months or a few weeks to see
what they come up with, but if they don't do something very decisive
around the war and these other issues, I think there will be trouble."

"If the first 100 hours is going to be characterized by an increase in the
minimum wage and improved health and education benefits for Americans,
that's fine," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich
<> (D-Ohio), a
liberal firebrand who ran for president in 2004 and has announced for
2008. "But then let's talk about the second hundred hours, because we
cannot let this war be lost. We cannot abandon the troops in the field to

To most Democratic lawmakers, such activism presents a quandary. House
Republican leaders spent years trying to placate their conservative base
with agendas built around opposition to same-sex marriage, antiabortion
votes and tax cuts, said Sen.-elect Benjamin L. Cardin
<> (D-Md.).
The partisan tone enraged Democrats and ultimately alienated moderates and
independents, who swept the GOP from power in November after a dozen years
in control.

"The Democrats have to be careful not to fall into these traps that I
think paralyzed the Republicans," Cardin said.

But Democratic lawmakers -- especially the freshmen who capitalized on
voter discontent -- said their core supporters' anger is real and must be

"Those people protesting on Thursday care deeply about their country,"
said Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire, an incoming House freshman who
ran as an ardent opponent of Bush and the war. "I think we do need to pay
attention. People are begging us to remember the Constitution, what made
this country great."

One lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of
alienating such voters, said wherever he goes, he hears from activists
calling for Bush's impeachment. Cutting off funding for the Iraq war comes
in a close second.

"For most progressive activists, there is generally speaking, an open mind
but also a real fear that the 110th [Congress] will not be as aggressive
as many of us want it to be," said Ralph G. Neas, president of the liberal
People for the American Way. "On the other hand, there is a lot of
pragmatism as we go into the 2008 election season. There's this high-wire
act for everybody, not only for the House and Senate leadership but for
the progressive community, too."

The high-wire act will be on display almost as soon as the new Congress is
sworn in. The first motion from the House floor will be a parliamentary
inquiry from Rep. Rush D. Holt (D-N.J.) on the disputed election to
replace retired Rep. Katherine Harris
<> (R-Fla.).
In November's balloting, Republican Vern Buchanan beat Democrat Christine
Jennings by 369 votes.

But more than 18,000 ballots that day did not record a vote in the closely
contested race, an "undervote" rate of nearly 15 percent, mainly from the
Democrat's stronghold of Sarasota County. An academic study, commissioned
by the company that made the electronic voting machines, found "that there
is essentially a 100 percent chance that Jennings would have won" had
Sarasota voters cast their votes with different machines and ballots.

Holt's inquiry will make clear that Buchanan's swearing-in tomorrow should
not prejudice or compromise a House investigation or ongoing legal
challenges to his election. But that falls well short of activist demands
that the seat be left vacant, or even that the House simply seat Jennings.

Holt said he is willing to take the heat for that decision.

"There are some Democrats who say we should seize that seat any way we
can," he acknowledged. "But if in a heavy-handed way, we just say we've
got the votes and we're going to throw out Vern Buchanan, we would
undermine the principle we say we are fighting for."

--------12 of 12--------

America's Holy Warriors
By Chris Hedges
Sunday 31 December 2006

The former New York Times Mideast Bureau chief warns that the radical
Christian right is coming dangerously close to its goal of co-opting the
country's military and law enforcement.

The drive by the Christian right to take control of military chaplaincies,
which now sees radical Christians holding roughly 50 percent of chaplaincy
appointments in the armed services and service academies, is part of a
much larger effort to politicize the military and law enforcement. This
effort signals the final and perhaps most deadly stage in the long
campaign by the radical Christian right to dismantle America's open
society and build a theocratic state. A successful politicization of the
military would signal the end of our democracy.

During the past two years I traveled across the country to research and
write the book "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on
America." I repeatedly listened to radical preachers attack as corrupt and
godless most American institutions, from federal agencies that provide
housing and social welfare to public schools and the media. But there were
two institutions that never came under attack - the military and law
enforcement. While these preachers had no interest in communicating with
local leaders of other faiths, or those in the community who did not
subscribe to their call for a radical Christian state, they assiduously
courted and flattered the military and police. They held special services
and appreciation days for all four branches of the armed services and for
various law enforcement agencies. They encouraged their young men and
women to enlist or to join the police or state troopers. They sought out
sympathetic military and police officials to attend church events where
these officials were lauded and feted for their Christian probity and
patriotism. They painted the war in Iraq not as an occupation but as an
apocalyptic battle by Christians against Islam, a religion they regularly
branded as "satanic." All this befits a movement whose final aesthetic is
violence. It also befits a movement that, in the end, would need the
military and police forces to seize power in American society.

One of the arguments used to assuage our fears that the mass movement
being built by the Christian right is fascist at its core is that it has
not yet created a Praetorian Guard, referring to the paramilitary force
that defied legal constraints, made violence part of the political
discourse and eventually plunged ancient Rome into tyranny and despotism.
A paramilitary force that operates outside the law, one that sows fear
among potential opponents and is capable of physically silencing those
branded by their leaders as traitors, is a vital instrument in the hands
of despotic movements. Communist and fascist movements during the last
century each built paramilitary forces that operated beyond the reach of
the law.

And yet we may be further down this road than we care to admit. Erik
Prince, the secretive, mega-millionaire, right-wing Christian founder of
Blackwater, the private security firm that has built a formidable
mercenary force in Iraq, champions his company as a patriotic extension of
the U.S. military. His employees, in an act as cynical as it is deceitful,
take an oath of loyalty to the Constitution. These mercenary units in
Iraq, including Blackwater, contain some 20,000 fighters. They unleash
indiscriminate and wanton violence against unarmed Iraqis, have no
accountability and are beyond the reach of legitimate authority. The
appearance of these paramilitary fighters, heavily armed and wearing their
trademark black uniforms, patrolling the streets of New Orleans after
Hurricane Katrina, gave us a grim taste of the future. It was a stark
reminder that the tyranny we impose on others we will one day impose on

"Contracting out security to groups like Blackwater undermines our
constitutional democracy," said Michael Ratner, the president of the
Center for Constitutional Rights. "Their actions may not be subject to
constitutional limitations that apply to both federal and state officials
and employees - including First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights to
be free from illegal searches and seizures. Unlike police officers they
are not trained in protecting constitutional rights and unlike police
officers or the military they have no system of accountability whether
within their organization or outside it. These kind of paramilitary groups
bring to mind Nazi Party brownshirts, functioning as an extrajudicial
enforcement mechanism that can and does operate outside the law. The use
of these paramilitary groups is an extremely dangerous threat to our

The politicization of the military, the fostering of the belief that
violence must be used to further a peculiar ideology rather than defend a
democracy, was on display recently when Air Force and Army generals and
colonels, filmed in uniform at the Pentagon, appeared in a promotional
video distributed by the Christian Embassy, a radical Washington-based
organization dedicated to building a "Christian America."

The video, first written about by Jeff Sharlet in the December issue of
Harper's Magazine and filmed shortly after 9/11, has led the Military
Religious Freedom Foundation to raise a legal protest against the
Christian Embassy's proselytizing within the Department of Defense. The
video was hastily pulled from the Christian Embassy website and was
removed from YouTube a few days ago under threats of copyright

Dan Cooper, an undersecretary of veterans affairs, says in the video that
his weekly prayer sessions are "more important than doing the job." Maj.
Gen. Jack Catton says that his being an adviser to the Joint Chiefs of
Staff is a "wonderful opportunity" to evangelize men and women setting
defense policy. "My first priority is my faith," he says. "I think it's a
huge impact.... You have many men and women who are seeking God's counsel
and wisdom as they advise the chairman [of the Joint Chiefs] and the
secretary of defense."

Col. Ralph Benson, a Pentagon chaplain, says in the video: "Christian
Embassy is a blessing to the Washington area, a blessing to our capital;
it's a blessing to our country. They are interceding on behalf of people
all over the United States, talking to ambassadors, talking to people in
the Congress, in the Senate, talking to people in the Pentagon, and being
able to share the message of Jesus Christ in a very, very important time
in our world is winning a worldwide war on terrorism. What more do we need
than Christian people leading us and guiding us, so, they're needed in
this hour."

The group has burrowed deep inside the Pentagon. It hosts weekly Bible
sessions with senior officers, by its own count some 40 generals, and
weekly prayer breakfasts each Wednesday from 7 to 7:50 a.m. in the
executive dining room as well as numerous outreach events to, in the words
of the organization, "share and sharpen one another in their quest to
bridge the gap between faith and work."

If the United States falls into a period of instability caused by another
catastrophic terrorist attack, an economic meltdown or a series of
environmental disasters, these paramilitary forces, protected and assisted
by fellow ideologues in the police and military, could swiftly abolish
what is left of our eroding democracy. War, with the huge profits it hands
to businesses and right-wing interests that often help bankroll the
Christian right, could become a permanent condition. And the thugs with
automatic weapons, black uniforms and wraparound sunglasses who appeared
on street corners in Baghdad and New Orleans could appear on streets
across the U.S. Such a presence could paralyze us with fear, leaving us
unable to question or protest the closed system and secrecy of an emergent
totalitarian state and unable to voice dissent.

"The Bush administration has already come close to painting our current
wars as wars against Islam - many in the Christian right apparently have
this belief," Ratner said. "If these wars, bad enough as imperial wars,
are fought as religious wars, we are facing a very dark age that could go
on for a hundred years and that will be very bloody."


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
                     over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02
              please send all messages in plain text no attachments

                        For life on earth to survive
                        the ruling class must perish

  • (no other messages in thread)

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.