Progressive Calendar 10.08.06
From: David Shove (
Date: Sun, 8 Oct 2006 09:27:00 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    10.08.06

1. Kurds/KFAI       10.08 9am
2. CO status        10.08 1pm
3. Stadium/forum    10.08 3pm
4. KFAI/Indian      10.08 4pm
5. New US farmer    10.08 7pm
6. Iraq/film        10.08 7pm

7. Cam/police chief 10.09 5:30pm
8. US empire 101    10.09 5:30pm
9. Pentel/Governor  10.09 7pm
10. Spirit progs    10.09 7pm
11. Iraq/film       10.09 7pm
12. Haiti hospital  10.09 7pm

13. Better Ballot Campaign lit drop

14. Mark Dowham - What Cynthia McKinney means to me

--------1 of 14--------

From: dan rein <rebusa [at]>
Subject: Kurds/KFAI 10.08 9am

The Kurds, a People in Search of Their Homeland.  Tune into Century Song,
(KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis, 106.7 FM St. Paul Sunday, October
8 from 9-11 and hear Dan Rein interview journalist and author, Kevin
McKiernan.  Keven McKiernan spent his high school and college years in the
Twin Cities.  He now is a journalist who has worked ABC, CBS, NBC, The New
York Times, Time, and Newsweek and wrote and directed the PBS documentary,
"Good Kurd, Bad Kurd.", He has recently publish a book, "The Kurds, a
People in Search of Their Homeland,"  which gives his personal accounts of
his work and interactions with the Kurds from 1990 to the present.  Dan
Rein interviews him about his book and what is in the future of the
Kurdish people.  There will also be music from the Kurds of Turkey, Iran,
and Iraq.

--------2 of 14--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: CO status 10.08 1pm

Sunday, 10/8, 1 to 3:30 pm, Vets for Peace classes to prepare families for
conscientious objector status, basement of St Stephens school building, 2123
Clinton Ave S, Mpls.  $10/family.  RSVP Kim at 612-721-6908.

--------3 of 14--------

From: Shar in Minneapolis <sharinminneapolis [at]>
Subject: Stadium/candidates 10.08 3pm

Last-Minute (sorry) CALL TO ACTION -- Candidate Forum

Sorry about the sort notice, but we just received word of this. Show up if
you can -- we plan to be there!!

Sunday, October 8th 3:00 - 5:00 p.m
Westminster Presbyterian Church
1200 Marquette Ave Minneapolis, MN 55403, US

Our information about the forum is sketchy, but this is what we know:

"Faith in Democracy: Renewing the Promise"

Our understanding is that more than just the county commissioner
candidates have been invited, and that two questions will be asked of the
candidates, and then it will be open to questions from audience.

1. "Do you, if you are elected, see yourself at a table with members of
these assembled community groups to determine together the goals and
standards for local hiring and minority and women owned contracts
associated with the Twins Stadium development project?"

2. "You have heard what are our values and vision. What is your vision
regarding public benefits resulting from public investment?"

We plan to attend and will have signs and (our newly-printed) "Vote the
Bums OUT" lit!!  PLUS flyers for the fundraiser!!

We're not giving up and we're not going away!

[Vote the bums out! -ed]

--------4 of 14--------

From: Chris Spotted Eagle <chris [at]>
Subject: KFAI/Indian 10.08 4pm
Uprising for October 8th

KFAI's Indian Uprising for October 8th

SONGS AND MUSIC from Bill Miller's (Stockbridge-Munsee band of Mohicans,
Wisconsin) CDs

Columbus Day, a national holiday -- for whom?

Christopher Columbus' reputation has not survived the scrutiny of history,
and today we know that he was no more the discoverer of America than
Pocahontas was the discoverer of Great Britain. Native Americans had built
great civilizations with many millions of people long before Columbus
wandered lost into the Caribbean.

Columbus' voyage has even less meaning for North Americans than for South
Americans because Columbus never set foot on our continent, nor did he
open it to European trade. Scandinavian Vikings already had settlements
here in the eleventh century, and British fisherman probably fished the
shores of Canada for decades before Columbus. The first European explorer
to thoroughly document his visit to North America was the Italian explorer
Giovanni Caboto, who sailed for England's King Henry VII and became known
by his anglicized name, John Cabot. Caboto arrived in 1497 and claimed
North America for the English sovereign while Columbus was still searching
for India in the Caribbean. After three voyages to America and more than a
decade of study, Columbus still believed that Cuba was a part of the
continent of Asia, South America was only an island, and the coast of
Central America was close to the Ganges River.

Unable to celebrate Columbus' exploration as a great discovery, some
apologists now want to commemorate it as the great "cultural encounter."
Under this interpretation, Columbus becomes a sensitive genius thinking
beyond his time in the passionate pursuit of knowledge and understanding.
The historical record refutes this, too. Excerpts from Examining The
Reputation Of Christopher Columbus by Jack Weatherford for the Baltimore
Evening Sun newspaper (see attached). Weatherford is an anthropologist at
Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota.  He has authored books on
indigenous issues.

* * * *
Indian Uprising is a one-half hour Public & Cultural Affairs program for,
by, an about Indigenous people broadcast each Sunday at 4:00 p.m. over
KFAI 90.3 FM Minneapolis and 106.7 FM St. Paul.  Producer and host is
Chris Spotted Eagle.  KFAI Fresh Air Radio is located at 1808 Riverside
Avenue, Minneapolis MN 55454, 612-341-3144.

--------5 of 14--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: New US farmer 10.08 7pm

Sunday, 10/8, 7 pm, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy presents film
"Broken Limbs: Apples, Agriculture and the New American Farmer," Bryant Lake
Bowl, 810 W Lake St, Mpls.

--------6 of 14--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Iraq/film 10.08 7pm

Sunday, 10/8, 7 pm, free film "Iraq for Sale," Open Circle Church 2400
Highland Dr, Burnsville.  Reservations required:

--------7 of 14--------

From: Cam Gordon <CamGordon333 [at]>
Subject: Cam/police chief 10.09 5:30pm

Council Member Cam Gordon
Invites you to a public meeting to discuss the Police Chief selection.
October 9th, 5:30-7pm Matthews Park, 2318 28th Ave S

The appointment of a Chief of Police is likely one of the most important
decisions this Council will make this year.  This appointment process is a
great opportunity to raise our ideas for reforming the Police Department,

- stronger, fully empowered civilian oversight
- greater accountability from the police department
- a real, effective model of community-centered policing

Cam welcomes your input on this important decision, whether at the
discussion on the 9th or by phone (673-2202) or email
(cam.gordon [at]

--------8 of 14--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: US empire 101 10.09 5:30pm

Mondays, 9/11 to 11/13, 5:30 to 8 pm, free class "American Empire 101" with
U of M prof Richard Martinez, Jack Pine Center, 2815 E Lake, Mpls.

-------9 of 14--------

From: Ken Pentel <kenpentel [at]>
Subject: Pentel/Governor 10.09 7pm


Mondays October 9th and 16th
Bryant Square Park, 3101 Bryant Ave S.,
Agenda: Short meeting, team-up and flyer.

--------10 of 14--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Spirit progs 10.09 7pm

Monday, 10/9 (and each month's 2nd Monday), 7 pm (socialize 6:30), Network
of Spiritual Progressives hosts Sondra Samuels talking about the Northside's
PEACE Foundation at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1900 Nicollet, Mpls.
brucelissem [at]

--------11 of 14--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Iraq/film 10.09 7pm

Monday, 10/9, 7 pm, film "Iraq for Sale," 1349 Midway Parkway ("The Lion
House"), St Paul.  651-642-1796. (Other screenings linked at

--------12 of 14--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Haiti hospital 10.09 7pm

Monday, 10/9, Tracy Kidder speaks about his book "Mountains Beyond
Mountains" about hospital in central Haiti, Davis Auditorium, Macalester
College, Snelling & Grand, St Paul.

--------13 of 14--------

From: Jeanne Massey <jkmassey [at]>
Subject: Better Ballot Campaign Lit Drop

The November election is just a month away and the Better Ballot Campaign needs
volunteers to help get IRV literature out to voters across Minneapolis.

You don't need to live in Minneapolis to help. Everyone who wants to see IRV 
root in Minnesota is welcome - and needed!

We've organized lit dropping to be easy and convenient - bags of literature and
routes are available at any time on porches at pick up locations in each ward.

Below is a list of current pick up locations. Locations in other wards will be 
soon. Check back at for an updated 

Ward 1: 1706 Tyler St NE
Ward 2: 2509 34th Ave S
Ward 3: 319 12th Ave SE
Ward 7: 1777 Dupont Ave S (all other precincts)
Ward 10: 2533 Colfax Ave S
Ward 11: 1508 57th St E
Ward 12: 5106 41st Ave S (part of a condo unit)
Ward 13: 4233 Linden Hills Blvd

Questions? Contact info [at] betterballotcampaign.

--------14 of 14--------

My Favorite Member of Congress is Gone (But Not Forgotten)
What Cynthia McKinney Means to Me
Weekend Edition
October 7 / 8, 2006

Yeah, I'm upset with the fact that the powers that be have not so gently
thrown Cynthia McKinney out of her seat in Congress, just about the time
the Democrats may take over. It's a gross injustice, sleazy, and we are a
worse country for it. It's not the kind of message that the Democrats
should want to be sending at this time, but they did little to prevent it,
and probably encouraged it. Why?

I grew up in New Baden, Illinois in the 1950s and 60s. New Baden is a
small town, at the time somewhere between 1500 and 2000 people. New Baden
literally straddles the border between Clinton and St. Clair counties,
about 30 some miles east of St. Louis. Most of New Baden is in Clinton
County, and it is generally considered to be in Clinton County. St. Clair
County is the infamous "metro-east" area represented for years by the late
Congressional powerhouse Mel Price, including the now almost entirely
black city of E. St. Louis, the hometown of my dad.

Clinton County, however, is a county of small towns about every five miles
- the county seat is Carlyle, population maybe 5,000 and home of the
Carlyle Lake reservoir, the largest in Illinois. It is a unique county in
that it is heavily settled by German-Catholic farmers. These very serious
and competent people, with good land and a favorable climate, were able to
establish and keep family farms over many generations. The small towns,
ranging in size from several hundred to several thousand, are
characterized by large, ornate catholic churches, with very tall steeples.
The one in New Baden, St. George, looks like some kind of gothic
cathedral. We grew up distinguishing between the "publics" and the
"catholics." I was a public.

Clinton County in general had very little racial diversity at that time.
(Still doesn't) No, Illinois didn't have "Jim Crow" outwardly. I didn't
grow up with separate water fountains, bathrooms, counters, and the such.
No, I would only encounter that on my first trip to Florida to visit my
grandmother in 1962. That blatant racial prejudice was pretty shocking to
me. I was much more used to a quieter, subtle kind where you try to
pretend that you weren't being prejudiced.

In our region there were a handful of African-Americans in a few of the
towns, but most didn't have any. New Baden sure didn't. There were all
kinds of whispers about black people amongst us kids growing up. Even
though there was Scott AFB nearby, which is a major military installation,
and we often got transient military families coming through our schools,
they were always white. We always thought that if a black family tried to
move into New Baden, that they would get the message real quick they
weren't welcome. That may have happened a time or two - I seem to recall

This kind of attitude got some not so subtle as well as subtle
reinforcement from our adult leaders. For example, a varsity basketball
coach from our consolidated high school was quoted as saying to his
players that he "never saw a nigger that couldn't sing, dance, or play
ball." The long time biology teacher at the high school, in preparation
for an annual biology class trip to Shaw's Gardens in St. Louis, (now the
Missouri Botanical Gardens) famously reminded us "not to yell at the
'brownies' when we drove through East St. Louis." There was more, believe
me. It was a constant reinforcement of racial prejudice that I grew up.

I never liked it. I never was comfortable with it. I usually just sat
there in silence when all this was going on. The fact is that I had some
heros who were black men when I was growing up. For example, Curt Flood. I
guess a lot of people know about Curt Flood, but a lot probably don't.
Curt Flood was centerfielder for the Cards. You don't grow up with a dad
who comes from East St. Louis who is a baseball nut and coach, and not be
a Cards fan. Well, I guess there's a few traitors, but not many.

Curt Flood was as good a centerfielder as there was in the majors. (back
in the long forgotten days when the national league was better than the
other league.) Just ask Willie Mays - he'll tell you, and Willie was the
best! Curt could do everything - field, hit, run, throw, entertain. That's
why I was shocked when the Cards tried to trade him. Who would have ever
guessed that such a great player would be traded, let alone "blackballed?"
And now what he asked for- not to be treated like property, occurs as a
matter of course through "free agency." This was one of my first
experiences of a black person I admired getting the shaft. I was too young
to really understand what was going on.

But Curt Flood wasn't the only black person I admired as I grew up. Dick
Gregory had a huge impact on me at a very key point in my life. When I was
19 and a freshman at Western Illinois University, Dick Gregory came to
speak. He was just beginning to get some attention as an entertainer. And
while he was a "controversial" character, he got access to the state
universities of Illinois because he had recently graduated from Southern
Illinois University as an all-star track and field athlete. That was my
good fortune.

I've seen Dick Gregory speak 3 times now in person. He's totally awesome.
When he speaks, he repeats a key phrase - the main point of his talk -
repeatedly throughout the talk at strategic times, in different tones and
inflections, to help drill home the point. The first time I heard him, his

"mantra" to us college kids was "you have a big job ahead of you." He was
referring to turning around the corruption, greed, ignorance, prejudice,
and violence of our society. He was so right. After hearing him that first
time, in 1970, at WIU, I became a vegetarian and have never gone back to
eating meat. I became an activist. His influence on me was one of the
strongest of an outside advisor, and I'm proud to say that.

And what about Miles Davis? Miles came from East St. Louis, the home town
of my dad, and one of the most creative, enigmatic, charismatic musicians
ever. Being a horn player myself, I fell in love with Miles Davis. He was
cool. And of course there were Dr.and Mrs. King, Aretha Franklin, and many
other black people that were top-notch heros to me as I grew up. So as I
have grown up with these outstanding black role models, I have just had a
hard time dealing with the prejudice. I didn't want to be prejudiced. I
wanted to be like them! And while at the beginning of my life, I didn't
actually live around African-Americans, and had very limited contact, now
I actually live in a region where there are a number of black people and I
have been able to experience first hand what goes in such a community. I
now have regular, although still somewhat limited contact with black
people in the community. What I see and feel is that, while most white
people think that things are "better than they were," there is still a lot
of room for improvement in black/white relations, and African-Americans in
general still face significant obstacles in life that most white people in
general don't. And, it is just plain wrong to think that all of our
nation's racial problems have been solved or are even near to being

* * *

And then there is the forest protection movement. I wouldn't have guessed
how important forests would become to me, and that I would have ended up
buying land adjacent to a national forest. I also wouldn't have guessed
that trying to stop the U.S. Forest Service from allowing our national
forests to be destroyed by a variety of ills would become at least part of
my employment. But it did, and with it, conferences, conference calls,
meetings, etc. etc. etc. Networking, organizing, working in teams, working
toward consensus on issues. Like any political movement, there is a lot of
give and take, working together with other people. Typically, this working
together, networking, organizing, etc. occurs between white people when
you deal with national forests. I know it can't be because only white
people care about public lands, and I know it isn't because the activists
in the forest protection movement don't like nor want diversity in their
ranks. But that's how it is. That, however, could (and probably should) be
the subject of a whole separate paper.

When I first started getting educated about national forests, which was in
the early 1980s, there were certain baseline beliefs that we were all lead
to accept as unchangeable. Two of those were that there would be logging
of some sort on the national forests, and that off road vehicles would be
allowed to be used at some time or another. I guess that has pretty much
remained true, although not everywhere.

These beliefs became challenged, at first by visionaries like the late Dr.
Bob Klawitter, from Protect our Woods, an Indiana-based grassroots
environmental organization formed around 1985 to give local input into the
first Hoosier national forest plan. Dr. Klawitter, at the first Heartwood
Forest Council, held in 1991 in Southern Illinois, laid out a perfect case
as to why logging shouldn't be allowed on our national forests. Heartwood
itself was formed in 1990 specifically to fill the advocacy void because
none of the national or even local groups would publicly come out for a
flat out ban on logging and off road vehicles on national forests. This
was still considered a little far out for most.

Our activist community was getting convinced, especially on our small
national forests of the Ohio Valley, because people with academic
credentials such as Klawitter were making irrefutable arguments on behalf
of such a policy. But, even among our allies, it was a hard sell to get
people to go public stating that they thought there should be no logging
or off road vehicles on the national forests, even though there had been
repeated media coverage about how the Forest Service lost hundreds of
millions of dollars nationally each year selling trees from the national
forests. And as far as taking on the ORVers, we all knew that they were
tearing up the national forests, but in most places they were entrenched
and taking them on, well that would have been just plain suicidal. So we
took positions like stopping clearcutting and limiting off road vehicles
to certain trails.

But the sad fact was and still is that the National Forest Management Act,
the law that (still) governs our national forests, allows all kinds of
logging and off road vehicles, with what is fundamentally very few
restrictions. And, sadly enough, Congress, with many member's pockets full
of timber and ORV industry's hefty campaign contributions, gives a lot of
money to the Forest Service to subsidize these activities on national
forests for the benefit of their clientele.

On top of that, with judicial review of Forest Service actions governed
under the Administrative Procedures Act, only those actions that are
"arbitrary and capricious" are overturned by the courts. Arbitrary and
capricious means that the agency has to do something really really illegal
to get caught, not just plain ol' illegal. Furthermore, under that
standard, if the agency calls one of their people an "expert" in a certain
subject, and he or she has some kind of college degree to back it up, his
or her word then becomes more important, whether or not he/she truly is an
"expert" in that subject, than the word of a real independent expert in
the subject who may come to a completely different conclusion about an
issue. Furthermore, you are limited in the evidence the judge can see to a
written record which the agency has compiled in the light most favorable
to them. And then there are the judges - often conservative and not well
educated in issues like "biodiversity," "habitat fragmentation," or
"conserving an endangered species." Even many Democratic-Presidentially
appointed judges don't get it. Add it all up, and it means that there's a
lot of bad things occurring on our national forests and not a lot of
defense against it.

There were some early champions that saw this and tried to get Congress to
strengthen the laws governing the national forests. Ned Fritz, a forest
lover and attorney from Dallas, Texas, is a very courageous visionary for
his time in this regard. Ned was doing all he could to try to craft new
legislation that will fill at least some of the most egregious gaps in the
NFMA. He went so far in the early 1980s as to fly in a small plane all
over the country with a photographer to different national forests
documenting horrific clearcuts. Ned, now in his 90s, was and still is
determined to stop clearcutting, or the mass cutting of all trees across
large areas, on national forests. He crafted legislation that, if passed,
would prohibit clearcutting, make it easier to sue the Forest Service, and
put some further restrictions on "selective" logging, or the practice of
picking specific trees throughout the forest for logging but not cutting
every tree. Ned's legislation never passed.

Then a group called "Save America's Forests" started in D.C. with the goal
of lobbying for new national forest legislation. Their bill, after several
evolutions, ended up picking up a lot of Ned Fritz's ideas, with some
increased restrictions on logging. That bill, which would not, as their
authors admit, stop all the logging on the national forests, has been
introduced a few times, but it's kind of dormant now, as its top advocates
are pretty much waiting for the Democrats to take at least one of the
chambers of Congress. John Kerry had endorsed the bill. It's an easy
position to take. A politician could claim that they were doing something
for the environmental protection of the national forests but in reality,
since the bill doesn't restrict the volumes that can be cut from the
national forests, the politician can also tell the timber industry not to
get heartburn over it, that the timber would still be coming. It avoids
the hard questions about losing money on timber sales, and what our public
forests are really worth to the public. But the bill does have some
support, and some knowledgeable people in the movement believe that it
will be a version of the Save America's Forest bill is the one that has
the best chance to get through even a Democratically controlled but timber
industry compromised Congress.

While there are a number of bills that have either been passed or have
come and gone to deal with specific issues on national forests, such as
forest fires, payments to counties, recreation fees, things like that,
there haven't been any other that have made the light of day that deal
directly with logging and the money loss - except one - the National
Forest Protection Act, or NFPA. I heard about it early on - a bill that
would basically ban selling trees from federal lands, and divert some of
the funds that are currently filling the "timber management" side of the
Forest Service staff, which is most of it, into environmental

Of course, I have worried that the wrong definition of "restoration" could
end up keeping the timber pipeline full, but I also knew that the main
supporters of the bill did not want to compromise on the ban on sales. If
it became point blank illegal to sell any trees from federal lands, that
would pretty much shut down the logging. It wasn't the fact that cutting
trees and not selling them would lose money - no, they already lost money.
But the incentive for the timber industry to stay in bed with the agency
would be gone, and that would be a huge disincentive for the Forest
Service, which primarily sees itself as partners with the timber industry.
On the other hand, it would save the taxpayers billions of dollars over
the years to come. So, knowing Congress, would they opt for saving the
taxpayers billions and protecting the forest or continuing the giveaway to
their timber industry buddies? No way, Jose', was my thought. That bill
will never even get introduced.

* * *

Was I surprised when I learned that the bill actually had been introduced
into the House of Representatives by a Congresswoman named "McKinney?" You
bet. I didn't recognize the name. Of course, to this day, I hear the names
of representatives that I know nothing about. But there are 435 of them
scattered across the country, so in a way that isn't surprising. But this
was an issue that I knew about and I was mystified about who this new
found environmental and economic champion was that was taking on the
influence of the timber industry on Congress.

To tell you the truth, I was pretty shocked and surprised, in a good way,
that there was a congressional representative out there that would
actually put their name on the line and introduce legislation to challenge
what had been drilled into out head was an immovable barrier - that is, to
fundamentally shut down logging on the national forests. I was really
surprised when white Republican Senator from Iowa, James Leach,
co-sponsored the bill in the U.S. Senate. At one point, the bill had over
100 co-sponsors. Who was this Rep. McKinney who had started all of this? I
had to find out about this person.

Was I surprised to find out that this particular representative was an
African -American woman, not from an area with a national forest, but from
the Atlanta urban area? You know it! And better yet, the more that I read
about this particular representative, the more impressed I was. She was
doing all kinds of great things to promote the causes that I believed in -
a heck of a lot more than any of the elected officials that I knew in
Illinois. Some of the issues she spoke out about, however, were definitely
pushing the system - for example, on behalf of the rights of the
Palestinians, and questioning the spending and the power of the pentagon,
just to name a few of the big ones. She spoke truth to power. I wondered
how she was getting away with it. People don't get that far questioning
the system with the voracity that she was and stay in power. At least
that's what I thought. But I was very glad that she was there. We need
that kind of courage at the top to do the "big job" of cleaning up our
society. Unfortunately, I would soon come to find out that she wouldn't be
there much longer.

* * *

In 2002, a group out to unseat Ms. McKinney, primarily funded by AIPAC,
the American-Israeli Political Action Committee, ran another
African-American woman, Denise Majette, against her in the Democratic
primary. Ms. Majette was much more conservative. Majette also had mega
sums of money poured into her campaign by AIPAC and other
Republican-linked sources. It was practically unprecedented for a complete
political unknown to have this kind of money in a campaign against a
multi-term incumbent.

The smears put on McKinney were nationwide and inaccurate - the biggest
one being that she had blamed George W. Bush for the 9-11 attacks. She
never did that. But what she did do was ask "what did he know and when did
he know it." Those were good questions, but they cut too quick to the bone
for the powers that be. They feared her and had to shut her down. Heaven
forbid that people start finding out the deeper truths of our country. We
might actually start demanding to find out who killed President Kennedy or
Dr. King! We didn't need to be asking those kind of questions.

So the right wingers who wanted to get rid of Ms. McKinney fed a story to
the media which the national consolidated, corporate mainstream media
printed and broadcast over and over and over and over again - that Ms.
McKinney was accusing Bush of causing the 9-11 attacks. While the short
history since 9-11 has shown us that the Bush administration knew a lot
more about the situation with Bin Laden and what Al Queda may be planning
than they were admitting to at time, the American public wasn't in the
mood to blame Bush for the attacks, and there was political backlash from
the repeated story that Rep. McKinney had done just that (even though she

There was an organized effort statewide in Georgia by the Republican party
that year to minimize primary challenges so that, under archaic Georgia
primary laws, Republicans could cross over in the McKinney primary, not
risk any Republican primaries, and vote out McKinney in favor of Majette.
With the help of AIPAC backing, it worked. Tens of thousands of
Republicans crossed over and Majette won the primary. In that district,
the Democratic primary victor would win the final election, so for all
intents and purposes, this was the election. The Democratic party leaders
basically sat back and let it happen, even though McKinney was a 5 term

To make things worse, shortly after the election a reporter purportedly
asked her Dad, a well- known retired state senator and historic civil
rights activist in the Atlanta area, why her daughter had been defeated.
Supposedly his answer was the infamous "J-E-W-S." I have no idea whether
he really said it or not. Knowing the media's record in making up false
statements attributed to Ms. McKinney in order to destroy her politically,
I wouldn't be surprised if he didn't even say it. And while sometimes the
term "jew" is used in a derogatory, prejudicial manner, the use of that
word to describe a person of the Jewish faith doesn't automatically mean
there is prejudice. My guess is that Mr. McKinney was unhappy because the
main Jewish lobby had targeted his daughter for false reasons. I don't
think that it was a terribly inaccurate statement, if he made it, that
Jewish interests were primarily responsible for her defeat.

One thing for sure is that Ms. McKinney didn't make any such statement.

Nevertheless, McKinney's opponents (and the corporate media) seized on it.
Not only did the mainstream media nationwide spread the word about her
father being a blatant anti-semite, they also repeated insinuation that
like-father, like-daughter, Ms. McKinney was also anti-semitic. Of course
that fit AIPAC's goals like a glove, because they want to stop anyone who
speaks up for the Palestinians at all. While no doubt there is true
anti-semitism in the world, not everyone who dislikes things that Israel,
AIPAC, and Jewish leaders do is anti-semitic, just as it isn't true that
anyone who criticizes the U.S. government, or the Pope, for example is
anti-American and anti-catholic. It often seems to me accusations of
anti-semitism are used to deflect and avoid legitimate criticism and
discussion of political issues surrounding the behavior of the Israeli
government and their corporations, and this may very well be one of those
cases. But regardless of the legitimacy of their claims, AIPAC wanted her
out, and they are very powerful. McKinney's voice was removed from the

* * *

I couldn't believe that so shortly after I discovered this woman in power
who was saying things that I actually believed in had been so brutally and
unfairly thrown out of power. Where was the Democratic party? Why didn't
they help? But I wasn't going to let her influence go that easily. I
suggested that we invite her to be the keynote speaker at our Heartwood
Forest Council at Camp Blanton, and there was unanimous support. I was
going to try to get to her at the huge January, 2003 anti-war march and
rally in D.C. and ask her personally. That was the first time I heard her
speak in person. I got very close to her, but the crowd was so huge that I
couldn't get her attention. But I did love her talk, and she was only one
of two elected officials that came out on the frozen day and spoke to the
hundreds of thousands of people gathered there to insightfully oppose what
would be the imminent invasion of Iraq. After that we contacted her
through some networking associates. Amazingly, she accepted, even though
we could only promise her a very meager compensation for her trip. We were
all very excited to have her join us.

You need to realize that Camp Blanton, on the edge of the Blanton Forest,
one of the largest blocks of old growth forest in the eastern U.S., is
deep into the mountains of Southeast Kentucky. There are no major or even
semi-major airports near. There aren't a lot of fancy hotels. It's country
- backwoods - and mostly white. So when we proposed this trip to Ms.
McKinney, we informed her of the long drive from the Tri-State airport on
winding mountain roads, and the lack of fancy accommodations. She wasn't
demanding at all. She went along with what we could do. One of our members
would pick her up in their personal vehicle in Asheville, North Carolina,
and give her a couple hour drive to the camp site. We got her a motel room
at a nice but modest motel in Harlan, Kentucky. She never complained, and
was very cheerful about it all.

When she showed up at the camp, I didn't know what to expect. There were,
sadly but typically, very few minorities at the gathering. (Although more
than usual) As she was being brought up to the registration table by the
driver, I went up to introduce myself. She was a gracious, gentle, warm
soul, who seemed genuinely happy to be there. A number of people noticed
her at the registration table, and came to greet her. She was, afterall,
kind of a celebrity in our crowd, although she didn't come off that way at
all. She went from registration right into our display room, and walked
the room viewing the literature and displays. Finally, she shopped the
silent auction, bidding (and winning) on a number of items.

After meeting several other of the leaders, she got a ride back to her
room. She would be brought back in a couple hours, just before her speech.
When she did return, she wanted to see where she would be speaking. Andy
Mahler, Ann Phillippi, and I walked with her to see it. The amphitheater
was a beautiful setting. We sat on one of the seats for about an hour
talking about all kinds of things. I was very impressed by her knowledge,
her ability to listen, and her overall charisma. I couldn't wait to hear
her speak. Then people started to arrive at the amphitheater. Not only
that, but people were arriving just for the evening. When it was time for
her to speak, there were about 350 people present.

She was told she could speak about anything. She spent a good bit of her
speech talking about how Martin Luther King had been followed and harassed
by the FBI leading up to his assassination, and how the public still
doesn't know the truth of what really happened. She warned us about the
rising influence of the neo-cons. It was a powerful speech, giving us
information which she said she had obtained from information requests she
had done as a congresswoman, and which I had never heard about. Her theme
wasn't that much different than that of Dick Gregory's first speech - that
we have a big job ahead of us to clean up the corruption, greed, and
prejudice of our society. She electrified the audience out in that forest,
and she was given an incredible ovation. Afterward, she stood up there in
front of these 350 or so people and took questions for over a half hour.
After that she hung around for an hour or so mingling with the people.
Then she got a ride back to the motel, and was driven back to the airport
the next morning.

One of the things that she did during that talk which really surprised me
was that she gave her email address out to everyone during the talk. Not
only did she give it out, but she encouraged people to write her. I
hurriedly took my pen out of my pocket and scribbled it on a piece of
paper. I was going to write her.

And I did. When I got home, I wrote her an email thanking her for coming,
praising her for her great speech, and thanking her for all of her work.
Low and behold, she wrote me back. I couldn't believe it. I mean, really,
I'm a nobody. I'm not famous or important. I might get a handshake from my
own Congressman, but not much more. But of course I emailed her back. It
turned out that we kept emailing. We ended up becoming what I call great
pen pals. We didn't see each other, but we kept in touch regularly. We
worked on a number of projects together. I wrote some stories about her.
But even more so, I came to admire her work even more.

* * *

During the time when she was not in Congress, she both went back to school
and traveled all over the country speaking to groups like ours that wanted
her. She lent her hand on tough issues. She built an ever growing email
list. I have always been impressed at her dedication, vision, and ability
to draw people together. The Green Party approached her about a
presidential run. I wasn't sure if that was the right way to go at that
time. When she decided that she was going to run for re-election to her
Congressional seat, I wanted so bad to help her. She had the kind of
courage to say things that needed to be said more than anyone else in
Congress. In that regard, I felt she was a critical part of our democracy.

I had followed the campaign closely. When Majette decided she was going to
abandon her House seat and run for Senate, I knew Ms. McKinney was reading
the tea leaves. The Republicans had some hotly contested seats, including
a U.S. Senate primary. The 9-11 talk had died down, in part because people
forget over time, and in part because information had come out that
strongly indicated that McKinney was right to raise the question of who
knew what when in regard to 9-11, questions we still don't have answered
completely. In the face of 6 other good candidates running with Ms.
McKinney, she had a real opportunity to take back her seat, but she needed
to get 50% plus one, because a run-off would be dangerous.

Because of the relentless media attacks on her and her Dad after the
election two years before, there was still some significant resistance and
funds coming into the district to oppose her. Some groups that had
supported her, for example, the Sierra Club, refused to endorse her. But
she had set up a campaign headquarters and had a great organization
working grassroots to get her back in. Kristi and I, plus another couple
that are close friends, felt that maybe we could make a difference in some
white neighborhoods and with the environmental community if we helped the
campaign. We offered the campaign our help and they accepted. I wrote
essays endorsing her and criticizing the Sierra Club. We made plans to go
to the Atlanta area the weekend before the primary and go knock on doors
for her. We were going to try and help her get back in Congress. We
thought it was incredibly important.

Her campaign managers assigned us to some fairly well- to - do primarily
white neighborhoods near downtown Decatur. A lot of the neighborhoods were
Jewish, and there was some hostility to our campaigning. But a good deal
of it was open to it also. We worked hard for two days. During that time,
we got to experience other parts of the campaign besides door to door
campaigning that told me a lot about the depth of Cynthia's support within
the African-American community. But we also felt the effects of the AIPAC
campaign to label her as an anti-semitic. It had been pretty effective.

After the first day of campaigning, a number of campaign workers had a
tent set up out in the parking lot of the little strip mall where Cynthia
had her campaign headquarters just outside of DeKalb. They were grilling
and drinking beer and hanging out. It wasn't all black - there were a few
other white people. But it was largely black, in a largely black
neighborhood. The spirit was really good. People were determined to get
Cynthia back in. We met her Dad, former state senator and the purported
infamous mutterer of the "J-E-W" exclamation that the press used to beat
up on Cynthia at the time. He couldn't have been nicer.

One of the more interesting and extraordinary experiences that we had
while there occurred spontaneously. As we were standing out in the parking
lot drinking beer and hanging out with Cynthia's supporters, her Dad, who
had disappeared inside for a while, came walking up the parking lot to us
and said, "Cynthia wants you to come to the BPW (Business Professional
Women) banquet where she is speaking tonight, so we need to get going." We
were sweaty and tired, dressed in our "blue crew" t-shirt, after a couple
beers. We tried to argue off the suggestion, saying that we weren't
dressed or ready for such an occasion and such. But those excuses weren't
to matter. Pretty soon we were in vehicles heading somewhere, still in our
blue crew tshirt, still sweaty and still not dressed for any such

We ended up at the Atlanta airport at one of the fancy hotels. Her Dad
lead us into the ballroom. There was no doubt that he was highly
respected, the way he was greeted. The four of us, plus her Dad, plus her
campaign treasurer, whose husband was her bodyguard for the night, had an
empty table waiting. We walked through a sea of black faces, dressed
formally, looking interestingly at us. We were sitting around a table with
a couple hundred or more people, mostly dressed in either tuxes or fancy
suits, most black, dancing and hanging around waiting for the program to

We were served dinner. Then the president of this chapter of the BPW got
up to introduce Cynthia. She made a passionate plea to get work to get her
back into Congress. She said firmly, "We need Cynthia back in Congress!"
She introduced her father, a retired state senator and the first black
policeman in Atlanta, to a stirring round of applause. Cynthia got up, and
the first thing she did was acknowledge us. It was kind of embarrassing
really, because we were all sweaty and totally out of dress. But at the
same time, it was empowering, because we love Cynthia for who she is and
all her great work.

Cynthia gave a short but very good speech about leadership. This is a
important topic to her, and it is to me also. We went home that night
inspired. We went door to door the next day, and then, afterward, before
we headed home, went to a bar and had a debriefing session with our
friends. We talked about the obstacles she faced, and wondered if she
could overcome them. We all felt really good about what we had done, and
hoped that we had made a difference.

Cynthia won that primary, beating out very good candidates, and garnering,
not by a lot, but by enough, the over 50% she needed by Georgia's
out-of-date primary rules to win without a runoff. . And, as expected, she
easily won the general election. We felt elated and part of the victory,
even though we couldn't be there in Georgia for the election night
celebrations. That elation was to turn to some frustration and anger when
Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi stripped Ms. McKinney of the
seniority she earned with a decade of service in House, even though other
Representatives had their seniority restored in similar circumstances.
Protests to Pelosi fell on dear ears. Once again, the Democratic party did
nothing to help her.

* * *

While working in Congress zaps your time, she still tried to make the time
to keep up with her network. That in and of itself is a tribute to her
dedication. She remained a strong progressive advocate, and had
accomplished some very impressive things. For example, she was the first
Representative to bring up in hearings the fact that there had been at
least 5 military exercises on 9-11 that may have affected the "official"
response to the attacks. She uncovered and questioned the $61 billion or
more simply missing from Iraq. She went to New Orleans after Katrina and
was one of the first people in power to speak about how primarily
African-American citizens were stopped by armed police from crossing a
bridge out of New Orleans to get help after their neighborhoods had been
destroyed and flooded. She was one of the first and most vocal
Congressional Representatives to be against the war in Iraq - speaking and
marching at large events held by citizen's organizations prior to and
during the war - even rallies in which one or maybe no other Democrats
would attend. Then she started speaking out about the ills and technical
problems with electronic voting machines and the voting laws in general.
The Democrats still aren't dealing with this issue properly, and it is
likely that Ms. McKinney was victimized by the very ills to which she has
been trying to draw attention. These are all cutting edge issues that are
proving to be serious and critical.

In spite of her continuing to push these progressive issues, the press was
reporting sporadically about what a "good girl" Ms. McKinney had been
during her new term. Under the radar screen, however, the Republican state
legislature had redistricted Georgia's congressional districts. In
Cynthia's districts, there were subtle, but important shifts. Their
significance would make themselves known later. I certainly didn't
understand them.

* * *

But, right as the media was saying that she would easily cruise to a
primary victory and keep her seat, came the highly publicized encounter
with a U.S. Capitol policeman. We all know the (purported) story. She
didn't identify herself well enough - a well-meaning but coincidentally
white Capitol policeman innocently didn't recognize her, asked her for
more identification. She got mad and outraged because she is such an
important person and how dare a white policeman talk back to her, and she
hauled off and cold-cocked the policeman, some stories said with her cell
phone, some said fist. It didn't matter. It was something to make her look
bad. As it turned out, it wasn't true. However, it was just what her
opponents needed.

Now a primary challenge materialized - another conservative black (this
time) man, Hank Johnson, running as a Democrat against her. Then came the
Republican and AIPAC money backing Johnson, and guess what, "deja vu all
over again." Then came the Democratic party failing to help her at all.
The "slugging the policeman" incident became a media firestorm for many
days. It couldn't have been a much more unflattering portrayal of her, all
with no evidence - no videos, no audios, no nothing. Just the media
reporting it the way they wanted. Ms. McKinney said that she had reacted
in a defensive manner to being grabbed from behind as she was walking. She
apologized for the encounter, noone was even close to injured, there was
no threat to the public, and that should have been the end of it.

Even so, a Republican run U.S. Department of Justice convened a grand
jury. But when all their evidence was in, NO charges were brought.
Unfortunately but typically, as far as the mainstream media goes, they
didn't give that piece of news nearly the firestorm that they did the so -
called slugging incident. You think if a Republican-run Justice Department
could have gotten charges on her they wouldn't have? Obviously there was
just no evidence that she had done anything criminal. But the mainstream
media's repetition of the incident told in the inaccurate and negative way
to taint Ms. McKinney had taken it's toll.

Unfortunately, we didn't make it to Atlanta to campaign this time. I feel
bad about that. But, interestingly enough, in spite of the challenges and
the media attacks, Ms. McKinney did win the first primary, only failing by
a few percent of getting the 50% plus one she needed to avoid a runoff in
a three way primary. In most other states, including mine, Illinois, she
would have become the Democratic candidate that night. But in Georgia, she
faced a run-off, and now, all Republicans that didn't vote in the original
election could cross over and vote against her.

The national corporate media, lead by pseudo-liberal political journalists
like Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal, and Ken Ruden, NPR's
"political junkie" continued their relenteless attacks on McKinney. Tucker
and Ruden proved themselves to be nothing short of corporate hacks - not
journalists - though all of this. I've seen Tucker as a talking head on
some national news shows, and she seems haughty and full of
self-importance. She wrote column after column, based on the same lies
that couldn't stand up to the pitifully weak evidentiary standards of a
grand jury, lead by a Republican attorney general, to try and destroy Ms.
McKinney. Ruden spewed the same garbage on the supposedly "liberal" NPR.

I can't help but wonder to what degree Tucker was jealous of Ms. McKinney
because she had done what Tucker could never do, which was travel the
country and build a grassroots constituency. Or maybe she is simply the
consummate corporate reporter - loyal to the duty of destroying anyone who
might question corporate power, regardless of the merits of their
question. Ruden just seemed to be happen to have someone on the "left" to
attack, for "balance." Heaven forbid there might have been facts involved
that they may have gotten wrong.

For whatever reason, Tucker used the full power of the local paper to
pound on McKinney continuously leading up to the primary. These attacks
too took their toll. " well organized effort of Republicans to vote in the
Democratic runoff again provided the votes to defeat her. Oh yeah, Diebold
voting machines and difficulty in voting were part of the defeat equation

Even if Cynthia McKinney did make some mistakes, (and by the way, don't we
all) what about the good things she had done? What about things like
confronting the incidents of the armed guards blocking a bridge to safety
that black people from flooded areas of New Orleans were trying to use to
escape the misery associated with the storm and flooding? What about her
assistance in asking Mitch McConnell to ask the FBI to help solve the
suspicious murder of a young black woman, Jessica Currin, in Mayfield,
Kentucky. What about her courage in asking for an investigation into the
military exercises on 9-11 that could have very well contributed to the
lack of response by the U.S. Air Force to the hijackings, and in asking
for a true accounting of the billions of taxpayer dollars literally
missing in Iraq? And most of all, what about insuring that everyone who
wants to vote legitimately can, and that their votes are counted fairly?
Isn't that the most important question a democracy, especially one that is
holding itself up as an example for the rest of world, needs to be asking.
She was asking great questions, but the mainstream media is afraid - akin
to a coward - in confronting difficult questions. And these are just a few
of the very timely and legitimate issues she was raising.

Instead of Ms. Tucker and the rest of the media even mentioning any of the
good things that Ms. McKinney had done, she repeatedly was subjected to
intense negative media blitzs against her for things that haven't ever
been proven to be true. The so-called policeman slugging incident
shouldn't even have made the media at all. All kinds of Congresspersons
have done a lot worse than that without any media attention, let alone a
negative national media firestorm, for example my Congressman Shimkus, who
covered up Foley's salacious chats with underage pages but seems to have
skated. But it didn't seem to matter to the mainstream media. They smelled
McKinney blood, and they went for it, the facts be damned.

So where was the Democratic party in all this? Nowhere to be seen, as far
as I can tell. And that is the shame. The Democratic party should have
been there fighting for Cynthia. They should be fighting for the questions
she asked, and the issues she raised, regardless of whether or not she is
there. But they should have fought for her. And the failure to do so is
obvious. It reflects on Pelosi, Reid, Emmanuel, Durbin, and many others.
To me it is subtle racism and I don't understand it-especially at the same
time that the Democrats bank heavily on the votes of the
African-Americans. It reminds me a lot of my youth days in New Baden.

Some of the party leaders could have come to Atlanta and helped her
through the primary. Many did for Joe Lieberman. Doesn't Cynthia McKinney
deserve it as much as Lieberman? Lieberman is male, white and Jewish.
McKinney is black, female, and speaks up for the Palestinians. Duh. And of
course there is Rahm Emmanuel, former citizen of Israel and Congressman
from Chicago who is the chair of the House Democratic party re-election
committee. Was there some reverse prejudice coming from Mr. Emmanuel and
the party's failure to support one of their own? There's more here than
meets the eye and it's time for the party to be upfront about what is
going on.

As far as the Democrats go, all I have to say is SHAME SHAME SHAME,
(infinity, as Pee Wee Herman would say). You've made a bad choice by
standing on the sidelines and letting Ms. McKinney get thrown out by rules
that would never stand in other Blue states. By letting her get torn down
by untrue accusations. By not embracing the truth she brings to national
politics. You are letting down a whole constituency and driving them
farther to the left. Already many of the pundits are pronouncing Cynthia
McKinney's political career dead on arrival, and the Democratic party
seems satisfied to just let it happen. But I wouldn't be so sure. The
truth doesn't die, and she speaks the truth.

And who would blame her if she left the Democratic party to build an
independent progressive movement? I do not know her plans for the future,
and haven't had a lot of communication with her since the election. But I
can't imagine that she will stop caring about justice and equality for the
weakest and most powerless. I can't imagine that she will stop speaking
out. And I can't imagine that more and more people won't listen, and that
her leadership will be an issue that in time the Democrats won't be able
to ignore any longer.

Mark Donham lives in Brookport, Illinois. He can be reached at:
markkris [at]


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