Progressive Calendar 10.12.06
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2006 23:46:59 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     10.12.06

1. GP meetup         10.12 9am
2. CRA hearing       10.12 1:30pm
3. New Hope vigil    10.12 4pm
4. Eagan peace vigil 10.12 4:30pm
5. UN: what future?  10.12 4:30pm
6. Northtown vigil   10.12 5pm
7. Jesus coming      10.12 6pm Bemidji MN
8. CO status         10.12 6:30pm
9. Ground Truth/film 10.12 7pm
10. Finney/Fletcher  10.12 7pm
11. W Africa         10.12 7:30pm
12. Island/prison    10.12 7:30pm
13. 64A/Jesse/debate 10.12 7:45pm
14. GLBT conference  10.12-14

15. PC Roberts   - Lost wars and a lost economy
16. Joshua Frank - The Dems and the war on civil liberties
17. Ron Kovic    - Breaking the silence of the night
18. ed           - Dark joke  (poem)

--------1 of 18--------

From: Kevin Chavis <kevinchavis [at] gmail.com>
Subject: GP meetup 10.12 9am

I moved forward with creating a local Meetup for our
party<http://green.meetup.com/203>. ( http://green.meetup.com/203 )  The
group will be closely related to environment, peace, and oil awareness
meetups. I will be scheduling them during my spare time, which are weekday
mornings and weekend evenings. This month there will be two:

1)When: Thursday, October 12, 2006, 9:00 AM     Where: Seward Cafe
2129 East Franklin Ave
Minneapolis , MN 55404

2)When: Sunday, October 29, 2006, 7:30 PM   Where: Pizza Luce
2200 East Franklin Avenue
Minneapolis , MN 55404

5CD General membership meetings will also be posted.

The current objective is to inform local citizens about the party in a
social setting. Those interested can join the party and volunteer on
campaigns. Discussions on local, state, and national political issues
should take up the bulk of these gatherings.

I encourage anyone with a current Meetup account to join, and anyone else
interested. Any others who would like to assist with the Meetups, or be an
additional organizer please let me know.


--------2 of 18--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] minn.net>
Subject: CRA hearing 10.12 1:30pm

AND LET'S NOT FORGET THE CRA...

There will be a public hearing on Thursday, October 12th at 1:30 p.m. at
City Council chambers, room 317 of City Hall, 350 S. 5th Street,
Minneapolis, on the proposed CRA reforms crafted by the CRA Working Group.
Thursday is the day we get to find out if the City Council has the
cahoonas to stick with the original proposal by Becky Hodges requiring the
police chief to discipline all sustained CRA cases or if they will take up
the truly terrible compromise language, also proposed by Hodges, that lets
the chief off the hook.  You won't want to miss those fireworks!


--------3 of 18--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: New Hope vigil 10.12 4pm

NW Neighbors for Peace, Carole Rydberg, carydberg [at] comcast.net

Weekly demonstration at the corner of 42nd Avenue N. (Cty. Rd. 9) and
Winnetka in New Hope.  Many signs available ... just bring yourself.
Come and go when you please.


--------4 of 18--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <skograce [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 10.12 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.


--------5 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: UN: what future? 10.12 4:30pm

Thursday, 10/12, 4:30, through Saturday morning, International Roundtable:
"The United Nations: What Future?," Weyerhaeuseer Chapel, Macalester
College, Grand west of Snelling, St. Paul.


--------6 of 18--------

From: EKalamboki [at] aol.com
Subject: Northtown vigil 10.12 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] aol.com.


--------7 of 18--------

From: A Thayer <athayer [at] paulbunyan.net>
Subject: Jesus coming 10.12 6pm Bemidji MN

The Roots of Migration:  The Impacts of Globalization and "Free Trade" on
Immigration

Featuring Keynote Speaker
Jesus Leon de Los Santos
Thursday, October 12
6:00pm to 8:00 pm
Crying Wolf Room
Bemidji State University

Jesus Leon, from the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, has spoken to international
audiences about the role NAFTA has had on Mexico.  As a farmer and worker
since his youth, he has witnessed the devastating impact of a trade model
that forces people off their land and into a search of a better life.  As
founder of CEDICAM (Center for Integral Capesino Development of the
Mixteca) Jesus Leon has looked at both the local impacts on farmers and
workers and the international impacts on immigration as the results of
such "Free Trade Agreements".

Join us to hear first hand stories and analysis, and to put a human face
to globalization, trade, and immigration!

Lauren Dasse, a senior member of the Witness For Peace Mexico Team based
in Oaxaca, Mexico will be accompanying the tour to provide
translation/Interpretation, facilitation and additional analysis.

Joining Lauren will be Audrey Thayer, Greater Minnesota Racial Justice
Project (ACLU-MN), Bemidji, MN that is co-sponsoring this wonderful event.

This a great opportunity for our community.

For additional information, or interest to speak in your class Tuesday,
October 11th or Wednesday, October 12th in the afternoons please contact
Audrey Thayer at (218) 556-6239.


--------8 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: CO status 10.12 6:30pm

Thursday, 10/12, 6:30 to 8 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.


--------9 of 18--------

From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at] mppeace.org>
Subject: Ground Truth/film 10.12 7pm

Amazing New Movie!
The Ground Truth

Thursday, October 12, 2006
7pm

St. Joseph's Parish,
<http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=36th+And+Boone+Avenue,+New+Hope,+MN>36th
and
Boone<http://maps.google.com/maps?oi=map&q=36th+And+Boone+Avenue,+New+Hope,+MN>
Avenue, New Hope

The Ground Truth stunned filmgoers at the 2006 Sundance and Nantucket Film
Festivals. Hailed as "powerful" and "quietly unflinching," Patricia
Foulkrod's searing documentary feature includes exclusive footage that
will stir audiences. The filmmaker's subjects are patriotic young
Americans -- ordinary men and women who heeded the call for military
service in Iraq -- as they experience recruitment and training, combat,
homecoming, and the struggle to reintegrate with families and communities.
The terrible conflict in Iraq, depicted with ferocious honesty in the
film, is a prelude for the even more challenging battles fought by the
soldiers returning home -- with personal demons, an uncomprehending
public, and an indifferent government. As these battles take shape, each
soldier becomes a new kind of hero, bearing witness and giving support to
other veterans, and learning to fearlessly wield the most powerful weapon
of all -- the truth.

Cost: Free and open to the public.

Sponsored by: Northwest Neighbors for Peace
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NWNeighborsforPeace/

More Information: Lois: (612) 588-5572, or Carole: (763) 546-5368


--------10 of 18--------

>From faarjenson [at] qwest.net Wed Oct 11 16:36:17 2006
From: Renee Jenson <faarjenson [at] qwest.net>
Subject: Finney/Fletcher 10.12 7pm

I hope everyone has Oct 12th on their calendars (7-8:30 pm) to come and
see the Finney/Fletcher Forum.

Volunteers from the community (the Citizen's Advisory Council) put this
forum together because they thought it was important that the people of
Ramsey County get a chance to meet the sheriff candidates and have an
opportunity to ask them some important questions.

If anyone has a question they want these candidates to respond to email it
to Dawn at dawn.m.autenreith [at] co.ramsey.mn.us befor october 8th.

The forum will be at the Northeast Metro Area Learning Center Auditorium,
70 W County Rd. B2 (Southeast corner of County B2 and Rice Street. North
of Hwy 36.Free Parking.)

This forum should be very informative and lots of fun.  You know this is
my kind of fun.  I think we should take both the candidates out for some
drinks after and have a really good time.  Yayyyy!


--------11 of 18--------

From: humanrts [at] umn.edu
Subject: W Africa 10,12 7:30pm

October 12, 2006 - David Crane:  Dancing with the Devil--Taking on West
Africa's Warlords, Mafia, and Thugs".  Time: 7:30 p.m.. Cost: Free and
open to the public..

Judge David Crane, chief prosecutor of the Special Court for Sierra Leone,
will speak on "Dancing with the Devil: Taking on West Africa's Warlords,
Mafia, and Thugs"

Cosponsored by the HHH Institute, the Minnesota International Center,
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, the University of Minnesota Law
School, University of Minnesota Human Rights Center, William Mitchell
College of Law, Hamline University School of Law, University of St. Thomas
School of Law. Location: Cowles Auditorium at the Humphrey Institute of
Public Affairs, 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55455


--------12 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: Island/prison 10.12 7:30pm

10/12 to 10/29, Thur to Sun at 7:30 pm, Pangea World Theater presents play
"The Island" with discussions after Saturday performances (10/14 on legality
of incarceration of political prisoners; 1021 on Robben Island to Guantanamo
to Abu Ghraib; 10/28 on race issues), 711 W Lake St, Mpls.  Reservations,
612-203-1088.


--------13 of 18--------

From: Jesse Mortenson for 64A <jesse [at] jessemortenson.com>
Subject: 64A/Mortenson/debate 10.12 7:45pm

Getting into this race for an open seat, I wanted to make sure folks in
64A had the opportunity to open up a real conversation about the future of
the progressive agenda in Minnesota. I've invoked that conversation
door-to-door, and now we have a couple more important venues to keep it
going. Please join me at our first two scheduled debates:

    Thursday, Oct 12 at 7:45pm
    Linwood Recreation Center
    860 St. Clair Avenue, St. Paul
    http://www.jessemortenson.com/debate/oct16

    Wednesday, Oct 18 at 7pm
    Weyerhauser Memorial Chapel
    Macalester College
    1600 Grand Ave, St. Paul
    http://www.jessemortenson.com/debate/transit


The first debate is sponsored by the Summit Hill Association, and the
second is sponsored by the District Councils' Collaborative and will focus
on transit issues, especially as they relate to the Central Corridor
project.

Big thanks go to my campaign manager, Paul, who did a great job of getting
the impetus and momentum together to make sure that debates happen, and to
Merritt Clapp-Smith of the Summit Hill Assoc., who very efficiently put
together the debate this week.

And there's one more event you're invited to:

   Friday, Oct 13 at 6pm
   House Party for Local Green Candidates
   at the home of Phil Willkie
   3853 Pleasant Ave, Minneapolis

Sincerely, Jesse Mortenson Green Party Candidate for Minnesota House of
Representatives District 64A www.jessemortenson.com


--------14 of 18--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com>
Subject: GLBT conference 10.12-14

10/12 to 10/14, Voices United Conference to advocate for GLBT inclusion in
all faith communities, Hennepin Ave United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland,
Mpls.  $40.  www.faithfamilyfairness.org


--------15 of 18--------

On Borrowed Time (and Money)
Lost Wars and a Lost Economy
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS
CounterPunch
October 10, 2006

President Bush and his neocon flaks have simultaneously lost two wars and
America's economic future.

Last Friday's payroll jobs report was a continuation of Bush's dismal
record. Only 59,000 net new private sector jobs were created during
September. That is about 90,000 less than would be needed to stay even
with population growth. Like all jobs that the US economy has created in
the 21st century, the September jobs are in domestic services.

Waitresses and bar tenders accounted for a quarter of the new jobs. The
remainder were in health care and social assistance, wholesale trade and
transportation, financial activities, and accounting and bookkeeping
services.

US manufacturing lost another 19,000 jobs. Since Bush took office, the US
has lost 3 million manufacturing jobs.

Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services in Washington DC notes that
the growth of total hours worked over the current "recovery" is less than
half the average rate of all previous recoveries and is the worst
performance on record. Due to offshoring, manufacturing hours worked have
declined 6.6% since the recovery began in November 2001.

It has been years since the US economy has created high-productivity,
high-paying jobs in export and import-competitive sectors. The US
manufacturing trade deficit is now twice the size of the oil import bill.
The years of deficits have destroyed America's creditor status in the
balance of payments. At the beginning of this month, the Wall Street
Journal reported that for the first time in 90 years, the US is now paying
noticeably more to foreign creditors than it receives from its investments
abroad."

Jobs offshoring and work visas for foreigners are dismantling the ladders
of upward mobility that made America an opportunity society for American
citizens. In the 21st century, real income growth has been limited to a
few at the top, while median family income stagnates or declines. As a
result of the moronic American system of tying CEO pay to quarterly
results, fat cats get richer by arbitraging labor and replacing American
workers with foreigners.

The current recovery is based on the expansion of consumer and public
debt. The artificially low interest rates engineered by the Federal
Reserve fueled a real estate bubble that encouraged Americans to refinance
their homes and to spend the equity.

Another source of the "recovery" has been credit card debt which has been
turned into securities and sold to investors. Credit card companies assume
that the high interest rates that they charge compensate for the high
default rates and, therefore, issue new cards to people already
overwhelmed with credit card debt. Much of this debt is tied to
derivatives in ways that no one understands.

Many of the home refinancings used interest only adjustable rate mortgages
that are now pushing up monthly payments for households. As these higher
payments hit over-stressed budgets, US employers plan to lay off more
Americans in order to lower costs by locating production abroad and by
hiring more foreigners on work visas.

Meanwhile corporate bankruptcies and other machinations are depriving more
Americans of pensions and health care coverage. The growing number of
Americans without health coverage will turn to the hospital emergency
rooms and join the illegal immigrants in driving more hospitals and
communities into bankruptcy.

Meanwhile Bush and his neocon cabal have wasted $333,000,000,000 in out of
pocket costs and several hundred billion dollars more in future costs,
such as veterans care, on an illegal and immoral war in Iraq, a war that
has destroyed America's reputation in the world and caused countries
threatened by Bush to pursue nuclear weapons.

All that President Bush, his government and the Republican Party care
about is war, because it enriches their friends and donors in the
military-industrial complex. Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have
created 99.9% of all terrorists that have ever existed.

A government whose military bombs homes, hospitals, schools, wedding
parties, civilian infrastructure, tortures and abuses prisoners, and rapes
and murders 14-year old girls is a government that produces a lot of
"terrorists." These so-called terrorists are enraged people who are out
for revenge against the barbarians who have invaded their countries,
destroyed their homes, and murdered and mistreated their relatives.

If Bush and his neocon nazis succeed with their plans to attack Iran and
North Korea, there will be even more "terrorists" for Republicans to rant
about. Bush's drive for world hegemony is the source of global instability
and a new arms race.

Bush's illegal and immoral wars are financed by foreign borrowing.
At some point pressure will come to bear on the countries that are
enabling America's barbaric wars, and the foreign lenders will be forced
to cut off financing. This point may be close at hand or distant, but it
exists. When the dollar goes, American real incomes will fall.

Meanwhile, Americans think they are the salt of the earth, and neocons
sing "Tomorrow Belongs to Me."

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan
administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal
editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor
of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:
paulcraigroberts [at] yahoo.com


--------16 of 18--------

Know Your Rights (All Three of 'Em)
The Democrats and the War on Civil Liberties
By JOSHUA FRANK
CounterPunch
October 10, 2006

I'm still wondering where all the damn outrage is, and I'm not talking
about the Foley scandal. On September 29, the Senate voted 100-0 in favor
of the pork-swollen Pentagon Budget, which earmarked $70 billion for our
ongoing military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was no debate
over the appropriations and not one Democrat voted against the egregious
spending. On the same day, the Senate also overwhelmingly approved the
dismantling of habeas corpus for "enemy combatants". Twelve Democrats
sided with the Republicans to allow the US government to detain people
arbitrarily and indefinitely.

We shouldn't be all that surprised the Democrats didn't filibuster the
awful bill, which also expanded the definition of "enemy combatant" to
include anybody who "has purposefully and materially supported hostilities
against the United States." Whatever that's supposed to mean. No, the
Democrats have long been on the frontlines of the federal government's
assault on our civil liberties.

In fact, what we are seeing today is just a logical continuation of a
foundation laid during the Clinton era. Before the now well-known Patriot
Act there was The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which was
signed into law following the Oklahoma City bombing. "The act was
wide-ranging, dealing with everything from the making of plastic
explosives to trading in nuclear materials," writes Georgetown law
professor David Cole and James X. Dempsey in Terrorism and the
Constitution.

"Members of Congress immediately felt tremendous pressure to pass
antiterrorism legislation," Cole and Dempsey recall. "It did not matter
that the proposals in the President's initial bill were directed largely
against international terrorism, while the Oklahoma bombing was the work
of homegrown discontents Eager to get the bill on the President's desk by
the April 19 anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, the Senate adopted
the conference report on April 17 in a 91-8 vote. The next day, the House
also adopted the report by a vote of 293-133. On April 24, President
Clinton signed The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996."

"To make the death penalty effective," explains civil liberties expert
Elaine Cassel in The War on Civil Liberties, "meant making it harder to
appeal convictions of capital offenses." Clinton's law, says Cassel, also
"[made] it a crime to support even the lawful activities of an
organization labeled as terrorist [authorized] the FBI to investigate the
crime of 'material support' for terrorism based solely on activities
protected under the First Amendment [freezes] assets of any US citizen or
domestic organization believed to be an agent of a terrorist group,
without specifying an 'agent' [expanded] the powers of the secret court
[repealed] the law that barred the FBI from opening investigations based
solely on activities protected under the First Amendment [and allowed] the
Immigration and Naturalization Service (now called the US Citizenship and
Immigration Services) to deport citizens (mostly Muslims) upon the order
of INS officials."

Of course, these are but a few of the ways in which the Clinton
administration infringed upon civil liberties. Speaking of the legacy of
these breaches in the guarantee of civil liberties, Clinton himself
admitted to making "a number of ill-advised changes in our immigration
laws, having nothing to do with fighting terrorism."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

In the wake of September 11, it wasn't surprising that Clinton's successor
George W. Bush legislated additional infringements upon civil liberties in
the name of patriotism and national security. And yes, the Democrats
overwhelmingly supported the Patriot Act in both of its awful versions.
But it wasn't the Patriot Act that allowed the federal government to make
those sweeping detentions across the country immediately following 9/11 --
it was Clinton's Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty bill.

So, who is honestly supposed to believe that ushering the Democrats back
into office in November will bring any sort of legitimate change -- in
Iraq, or back at home?

[Nobody, really, but this denial and eyewash will let us feel good for
another month or two. What is life but a succession of pleasing lies to
get us off any uncomfortable hook? Truth? What is truth? Peace in our
time.  Everyone back to sleep. Zzzzzzzz -ed]

Joshua Frank, author of Left Out! How Liberals Helped Reelect George W.
Bush (Common Courage Press, 2005) edits www.BrickBurner.org. He can be
reached at: BrickBurner [at] gmail.com.


--------17 of 18--------

Breaking the Silence of the Night
by Ron Kovic
Published on Wednesday, October 11, 2006 by Truthdig

A time comes when silence is betrayal.
-- Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, 1967

It all begins somewhere, the questioning, the doubting, the feeling that
something's not right; like that day the captain set fire to the
Vietnamese woman's hooch, or the night we shot those women and children by
mistake. It's all got to start somewhere. For them it might have been the
innocent civilians killed that day at the checkpoint just north of Baghdad
or the dead children lying in the road in Kirkuk, or that night in
Nasiriyah when they kicked in the front door of that house, screaming and
cursing at the children as they threw their father to the floor, tying his
hands behind his back and putting a hood over his head, but you remain
silent, you say nothing. You've been taught to follow orders, to obey and
not question, to go along with the program and do exactly what you're
told. You learned that in boot camp.

You learned that the very first day at Parris Island when the drill
instructors started screaming at you. It is "Yes sir" and "No sir," and
nothing in between. There is the physical and verbal abuse, the vicious
threats and constant harassment to keep you off balance. It is a powerful
conditioning process, a process that began long ago, long before we signed
those papers at the recruit stations in our hometowns, a process deeply
ingrained in the American culture and psyche, and it has shaped and
influenced us from our earliest childhood.

Born on my country's birthday in 1946, I had grown up in the shadow of the
Cold War after the great victory of World War Two. Both my mother and
father had served in the Navy during that war. It was where they met and
were married, and we their children were to be called the "Baby Boom." It
was a beautiful time, a time of innocence, a time of patriotism, a time of
loyalty, conformity and obedience. The threat of Communism was everywhere.
We did not question. We did not doubt. We believed and we trusted our
leaders. America was always right. How could we ever be wrong? We were the
most powerful nation on earth and we had never lost a war, but all that
was to change, all that was to be shattered in Vietnam.

I can still remember marching on Memorial Day, our parents on the
sidewalks waving their American flags proudly. There were the war movies
and the Sergeant Rock comic books, the toy guns that we got for Christmas,
and the little plastic green soldiers that I played with in my backyard,
fighting the Japs and the Germans, attacking the imaginary bunkers with
our bazookas and flamethrowers, dreaming that someday like our fathers
before us we would become men.

I volunteered for my first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1965, only to return
to a country deeply divided. I remember tears coming to my eyes when I saw
a photograph in the newspaper of the American flag being burned at an
antiwar rally in New York City. I was outraged and became determined to
set my own example of patriotism and volunteered to go to Vietnam a second
time, ready to die for my country if need be. Before leaving I purchased a
diary that I promised to keep during my second tour of duty. I still have
that diary today, and though it is a bit worn and frayed the words that I
wrote nearly four decades ago are still there. On January 18th, 1968, two
days before I was shot and paralyzed, I wrote, "Time is going fast in a
way, while in other ways it seems I've been here 100 years. I love my
great nation and am ready to die for freedom." Just below I had written
the quote,

"Fear not that ye have died for naught
The torch ye threw to us we caught.
Ten million hands will hold it high,
And Freedom's light shall never die!
We've learned the lesson that ye taught
In Flanders fields." .R.W. Lillard

Like many Americans who served in Vietnam and those now serving in Iraq,
and countless other human beings throughout history, I had been willing to
give my life for my country with little knowledge or awareness of what
that really meant. I trusted and believed and had no reason to doubt the
sincerity or motives of my government. It would not be until many months
later at the Bronx Veterans Hospital in New York that I would begin to
question whether I and the others who had gone to that war had gone for
nothing.

It was a violent spring. Martin Luther King had been killed in Memphis and
I had just begun reading Senator Robert F. Kennedy's book "To Seek a Newer
World" at the Bronx VA when Kennedy was assassinated at the Ambassador
Hotel in Los Angeles. Kennedy had been the antiwar candidate, and I
remember picking up his book with hesitation at first, his views seeming
so very different from my own back then, but there was something that drew
me toward him and his call to end the war that spring. Maybe it was the
wounded all around me on the paraplegic ward, or the hundreds of Americans
who continued to die each week, but I remember feeling deeply saddened
when he died, just as I had when his brother, President John F. Kennedy,
had been killed in Dallas in 1963.

I had been so certain of victory, but each day now I began to realize more
and more that we were not going to win in Vietnam, and that realization
was painful and devastating. I felt betrayed and could not understand why
my government had not done all that it could to win the war. Did they have
any idea how much we had sacrificed, how many had already died and been
maimed like myself? I felt sad and depressed and would often go down to
the hospital library on the first floor, where I would read for hours at a
time trying to forget the war. The first book that I read was about the
life of Vice President Hubert Humphrey, and I remember listening to his
voice on the Armed Forces Radio during my second tour of duty and writing
in my diary how much hearing him and his determination to stay the course
and not give up in Vietnam had inspired me. Several days later I
discovered the diary of Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary who had gone
to Bolivia and was later killed there while attempting to inspire a
revolution. I felt uneasy at first holding the book in my hands as I sat
paralyzed in my wheelchair, afraid that someone might come up to me and
catch me reading about the "enemy," but I now wanted to know who this
enemy was, who were these people I had been taught to hate and sent to
fight and kill.

I remember watching the 1968 Chicago Republican National Convention on TV
with other paralyzed veterans in their wheelchairs, the crowds in the
streets outside the convention hall chanting, "The whole world is
watching! The whole world is watching!" as antiwar demonstrators were
beaten and bloodied by police and dragged into waiting paddy wagons. Most
of my fellow veterans were angry at the protesters, cursing them and
calling them traitors, but I remember feeling very differently that night.
What the police had done was wrong, and for the first time, though I did
not share it with anyone yet, I began to sympathize with the
demonstrators.

It was not long after that that I left the hospital and began attending
classes at Hofstra University on Long Island, determined to rise above
what had happened to me and begin a new life after the war. It was a quiet
and peaceful campus, so different from Vietnam and the hospital, and it
was at the university that I was to first hear the passionate exchange of
ideas and different points of view. Many of the discussions had to do with
the war and why it had to end. There were the lit candles and the
moratoriums, the John Lennon song "Give Peace a Chance," and I remember
listening to the Woodstock album and hearing Jimi Hendrix's wild rendition
of the "Star Spangled Banner" for the first time. There was the infamous
My Lai massacre poster, "And babies too?" It was shocking and I could not
help but think back to that night during my second tour of duty when we
shot those women and children by mistake, all those bloody bodies, the old
man with his brains hanging out and that Vietnamese child whose foot had
nearly been shot off, dangling by a thread.

I continued to attend classes, still keeping my thoughts and feelings
about the war deep inside of me and sharing them with no one.

It was during this period that I read Henry David Thoreau's essay "Civil
Disobedience" and was immediately struck by the concept of "resistance to
civil government and non cooperation with evil" seeming to directly
contradict what I had once believed in as a boy - that my country was
always right and could do no wrong. The whole idea that we as citizens had
a right to follow our conscience and resist laws that were unjust and
immoral had a powerful effect on me. I was later to learn that Senator
Joseph McCarthy had attempted to ban Thoreau's essay (<
http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/banned-books.html>) and that both
Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King's philosophy of creative nonviolence
as a tactic for social change had been strongly influenced by their
reading of "Civil Disobedience."

There was "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" and "Nigger: An Autobiography"
by Dick Gregory and Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," which exposed the
brutality and horror of colonialism. I remember reading Jerry Rubin's "Do
It" and Abbie Hoffman's "Revolution for the Hell of It," astounded at the
sheer audacity of these two "Yippie" (Youth International Party) radicals
and their willingness to stand up to the most powerful government in the
world and its policy in Vietnam. They were wild and outrageous, and
believed in revolution and were not afraid to say it or write about it and
act it out. There was the article in Ramparts magazine by the Army Green
Beret Sergeant Donald Duncan, who had turned against the war, and I
remember someone from the university mentioning that a Vietnam veteran
from Suffolk Community College was now heading the S.D.S. (Students for a
Democratic Society) on his campus.

There were the Columbia University sit-ins and Woodstock and the
alternative radio station WBAI, which I listened to in my room late at
night, deeply moved by talk of protest and revolution, power to the people
and provocative antiwar songs that brought tears to my eyes, giving me an
entirely different perspective on what was happening in Vietnam and here
at home.

America seemed to be tearing itself apart; never before had the nation
been so polarized, not since the Civil War had we as a people been so
divided. Everything was being questioned, nothing was sacred, even the
existence of God was now suspect. The very earth beneath my feet seemed to
be shifting, and there no longer seemed to be any guarantees, or anything
that could be trusted or believed in anymore. Many of the students had
become so angry and frustrated with the war and what was going on that
they had begun to give up on America. Many wondered if we were ever really
a "democracy" to begin with, while still others spoke openly of leaving
the country and abandoning America forever. I continued attending my
classes, trying to be a good student, but I could not help but be affected
by all the things that were happening around me. Several weeks later while
sitting in the back of a crowded auditorium I remember listening to the
impassioned words of the late Congressman Allard Lowenstein, who had come
to speak at our campus that day, fiercely condemning the war and telling
us all to not give up and that it was "better to reclaim the country than
abandon it!"

It was about that time I received a call from my friend Bobby Muller, whom
I had first met at the Bronx Veterans Hospital only a few months before
and who had also been paralyzed in Vietnam, asking me if I would join him
at Levittown Memorial High School on Long Island later that week to speak
against the war. I remember being hesitant at first, telling him I wasn't
sure. I had never spoken in public before and the thought of giving my
first speech against the war frightened me. When I got off the phone I
felt an uncomfortable burning in my stomach. A part of me wanted to speak
for all I had seen in Vietnam and the hospital and for all the thoughts
and feelings I had been having ever since I had begun attending classes at
the university, while another part could not help but think of what might
happen to me if I did. Would I be called a traitor? Would I end up in some
FBI file, no longer the quiet student sitting in his wheelchair alone on
the outskirts of the demonstrations but now a direct participant, a
radical, a demonstrator? I would be stepping over the line and joining
with the very people I had once thought of as traitors. What would my
mother and father think if they found out? And the veterans at the
university - what would they say? Would they feel that I had betrayed
them? Bobby called me several times that week, sounding a bit impatient,
but again I hesitated, telling him that I hadn't made up my mind yet. I
asked him if he would call me the following morning, which was the day of
the speech, saying I would let him know for sure. I could hardly sleep
that night, tossing and turning, tormented by fear and doubt, trapped
between the awful twilight of what might happen to me if I did speak and
what I knew would continue to happen if I remained silent.

The phone rang early the next morning and I remember picking it up,
telling Bobby in a voice that was still only half awake that I had decided
to join him that day. It was nearly forty years ago but I can still
remember driving down to the high school in my hand-controlled car
thinking of all the things I wanted to say to the students. When I arrived
I parked the car, transferred into my wheelchair and pushed over to the
entrance of the school and into the auditorium, where Bobby was already
sitting on the stage in his wheelchair talking to one of the teachers. I
was carried up a few steps, where I joined him, and for a moment I
remember turning my head and looking out at all the students, thinking how
much they reminded me of myself only a few years before, so young and
innocent, so trusting and willing to believe without question. Bobby spoke
first and a few minutes later it was my turn. I approached the microphone
slowly, pushing my wheelchair to the very center of the stage, and in a
voice that I can still remember being a bit anxious I began to speak. I
told them about the hospital first, the overcrowded conditions, the rats
on the ward, and just as I began to speak about how I had been shot and
paralyzed in Vietnam the fire bell rang. The auditorium quickly cleared
after that, one of the teachers telling us that someone had just called in
a bomb threat. I didn't know what to think at first. I remember feeling
frightened, angry and outraged all at the same time! Why would anyone want
to stop me from speaking? Who could that voice on the other end of the
phone have been? Was it another boy, a student, a teacher, an angry
parent? What could they have possibly been thinking? I would never know
for sure, only that someone had made an effort to stop me from speaking
that day, and that affected me deeply. We all went outside and after a
brief discussion decided to go over to the high school football field,
where we assembled all the students in the grandstands and I continued
speaking, more determined than ever to not be silenced.

There would be Kent State and my first demonstration against the war in
Washington, D.C, the VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against the War), arrests,
tapped phones, undercover agents, and many more speeches in the months and
years that were to follow as my political awakening continued and I began
to discover an America far different than the one I had once believed in
as a boy. There were the trials and days and nights I spent in jail in my
wheelchair feeling more like a criminal than someone who had risked his
life for his country, but I continued to speak.

Perhaps it was survivor's guilt, or my own desperate need to be forgiven
and keep others from having to come back like me, but as I sat before
those crowds I began to open up my heart in a way that I had never done
before, sharing everything, all the horrors and nightmares, all the things
I had locked deep inside of me and had for so long been afraid to say. In
many ways I was confessing the sins of America. I remember many nights
driving home to my apartment after those speeches feeling exhausted and
deeply troubled, unable to sleep, knowing that if I did, the nightmares
would return and I would be back in Vietnam all over again; only to awaken
a few hours later with my heart pounding in my chest, feeling terribly
alone and wondering why I was putting myself through all this pain and
agony.

It had only been a few years before that I had sat in the living room of
my house in Massapequa, Long Island, with tears in my eyes listening to
the words of President John F. Kennedy call my generation to "A New
Frontier," urging us all to be ready to "pay any price, bear any burden,
meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe in order to insure
the success and survival of liberty," but those words seemed hollow to me
now. Somewhere along the way we had taken the wrong turn, somewhere
through it all America had veered tragically off course, leaving behind
our sacred ideals and betraying the very roots of our revolutionary past.
Instead of the great champion of liberty we had emerged the imposter, a
fraud, a dangerous, corrupt frightening monstrosity of what we had first
set out to be. America had lived a terrible lie. We had been on the wrong
side of history. The great defender of liberty had become the tyrant, the
arrogant bully, the cruel exploiter of "the tired, the poor, the huddled
masses yearning to breath free." Wearing the deceitful mask of the great
liberator and promising freedom and democracy, we had robbed and raped,
blackmailed and perverted our way around the world, supporting the most
despicable tyrants and despots as we expanded our bloody empire, causing
the death and suffering of countless human beings. I now understood what
Martin Luther King had meant when he had called America "the greatest
purveyor of violence in the world...."

I remember reading "State and Revolution" by Lenin and "The Prison Poems
of Ho Chi Minh." There was George Jackson's "Prison Letters" and a
powerful book by Felix Green called "The Enemy: What Every American Should
Know About Imperialism." There was the documentary "Hearts and Minds," and
the agonizing scene of the grief-stricken Vietnamese woman being held back
by family members as she tried to crawl into the grave of her husband, who
had just been killed in an American air strike, and the haunting scene of
a terrified Vietnamese child screaming and running naked from her village
after being severely burned in a napalm attack as the war raged on, and my
speeches grew angry and bitter at a government I could no longer trust or
believe in anymore. There were the body counts and booby traps, body bags,
"light at the end of the tunnel" and Vietnam veterans throwing their
ribbons and medals away at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., outraged with
a government and a war they had now come to see as unjust and immoral.

The Vietnam War finally ended in the spring of 1975 and with its end came
the hope that America might change and begin to confront the painful
legacy of its past. I will always remember the words of Vietnam Veteran
Against the War John Kerry as he spoke before the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee in the spring of 1971:

"And so when thirty years from now a brother goes down the street without
an arm, without a leg or a face and small boys ask why, we can say,
Vietnam, and not mean a desert or some filthy obscene memory, but instead
mean the place where America finally turned and where soldiers like us
helped in that turning."

But tragically that "turning" was not to be, and the dream of a more
peaceful and nonviolent America was put on hold by a government that
continued to refuse to face the reality of the terrible crimes it had
committed in our name.

For the past three and a half years I have watched in horror the mirror
image of another Vietnam unfolding in Iraq. As of this writing over 2,700
Americans have died and nearly 20,000 have been wounded while tens of
thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, many of them women and children,
have been killed. Refusing to learn from the lessons of Vietnam, our
government continues to pursue a policy of deception, distortion,
manipulation and denial, doing everything it can to hide from the American
people its true intentions in Iraq. Sadly, the "War on Terror" has become
a war of terror. Never before has this government through its outrageous
provocations and violent aggressions placed the citizens of this country
in such grave danger. Never have the people of this country been so
threatened, never before has life and liberty been in such great peril;
not in the two hundred and thirty years since our revolution have we as a
people and a nation been at such a crucial turning point. These are
dangerous times. A century of arrogance, brutality and aggression has come
back to haunt us all. September 11th has happened. The mask has been
ripped away. The lie has been exposed and this criminal government now
stands naked before the world! These are provocative words, and the truth
may be deeply unsettling but when will we speak the truth? When will we
end this silence? How much longer will we wait before we are ready to
finally admit that the murderer lives in our own house, that this
government that we entrusted long ago with the sacred task of protecting
life and liberty now, by its every reckless, unjust and immoral action
threatens the lives and liberty of us all?

Have we become so complacent, so coward and intimidated by this government
that we have forgotten our own revolutionary birthright of rebellion and
dissent? Have we become so paralyzed by the eleventh of September that we
would give up our liberty and freedom for the promise of a security that
does not exist by a government that now threatens our very lives? What
will it take before we finally realize the true reality of this crisis?
How many more terrorist attacks, senseless wars, flag draped caskets,
grieving mothers, paraplegics, amputees, stressed out sons and daughters
before we finally begin to break the silence of this shameful night? Let
us open up our hearts and speak in a way we have never spoken before
knowing that lives now depend on it, and the very survival of our nation
is now at stake. Let not our silence in this crucial moment betray us from
our destiny.

Disabled Vietnam War veteran and antiwar activist Ron Kovic, subject of
the film "Born on the Fourth Of July," reaches out to touch fingers with
an admirer during a massive protest against U.S. involvement in Iraq. The
demonstration occurred in downtown Los Angeles in September 2005.

Copyright 2006 Truthdig, L.L.C.


--------18 of 18--------

 Bush demon-strates
 his dark joke for us all has
 grim reaper-cussions


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