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Grassroots Retreat in Upstate NY

My Vote is My Voice (MViMV) will be sponsoring a Grassroots Retreat in Lake George, NY on February 3rd-5th, 2006. The theme of the weekend will be Balancing Life (time, money, sanity, etc) With Activism, but other topics of discussion will certainly be welcome.

Single occupancy - $100 per person includes:
Lodging for Friday and Saturday night
6 meals: Friday Dinner through Sunday Lunch
Ride to/from Albany, NY Airport if needed

Double occupancy - $75 per person includes:
Lodging for Friday and Saturday night (1 Queen bed)
6 meals: Friday Dinner through Sunday Lunch
Ride to/from Albany, NY Airport if needed


Because the atmosphere for the weekend is meant to be relaxing, and not overwhelming, space at the retreat is limited to 14 people. Please purchase your ticket ASAP through PayPal to myvoteismyvoice@yahoo.com.
For more information, or if you would prefer to send a check, please email myvoteismyvoice@yahoo.com. (You can also post questions in the comments section below).

Posted by Jessica Falker on January 16, 2006 at 07:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Progressive Christians Eyeing Political Fray

Progressive Christian Leaders Launching Nationwide Movement at Historic February Summit

Dallas, TX.  CrossLeft.org announced today that San  Francisco will be hosting the first major summit of progressive Christian leaders, an event that will launch a larger Christian movement capable of confronting the Religious Right on theological grounds.  On February 4-5, leaders from Sojourners, The Center for Progressive Christianity,
Progressive Christians Uniting, CrossWalk America, the Christian Alliance for Progress, Clergy Strategic Alliances, LLC, Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing, the Faith and Public Life Resource Center, Protestants for the Common Good and Clergy and Laity Concerned about Iraq will join bloggers and church leaders at Holy Innoccents Church in San Francisco to discuss their common agenda for fighting against poverty, racism, political corruption, and economic injustice.

The Rev. Jim Burklo, California pastor, TCPC Executive Council member and author of Open Christianity who will be in attendance, argues that the Christian agenda need not be  politically conservative.  He says, “We look forward to this summit  of leaders who are working together to change the dominant paradigm.”

This gathering follows newsbreaking interfaith conferences in Berkeley and Washington earlier this year, and more recently, an attack on a morally corrupt  Budget by Jim Wallis and other Leaders, in which progresive Christians stood  up against the values of Justice Sunday.

This summit will be the first to bring geographically dispersed progressive  Christian groups together as peers under one tent and will provide a unique  opportunity for progressive Christians to forge a common strategic plan  nationwide.  As Reverend Peter Laarman, Executive Director of Progressive  Christians Uniting argues, “This is the ideal time to create stronger  synergies and clearer common messages.”

Leaders will discuss  their plans for a progressive Christian presence in 2006 and beyond, planning  to collaborate on a massive campaign of media events, conferences, and marches.  Kety Esquivel, Executive Director of  CrossLeft, says, “The progressive Christians who preceded us -- the  abolitionists, the suffragists, the Civil rights movement – knew how to  harness fellowship towards political change It's time we come together to build  a movement.”

Participants will also discuss the online presence of progressive Christianity, and the need for progressive Christian think tanks, educational  institutions, and political lobbies. “In the struggle for the global  future, the movement that organizes, builds institutions, networks, harnesses technology, and converts more hearts, wins,” says Joanna Guldi, Communications Director for CrossLeft. “Progressives have a battle to fight for the soul of America, and the stakes are the culture of life against the culture of blind greed.”

For additional information
Kety Esquivel, Executive Director, CrossLeft, kety@crossleft.org, T. 415.568.8002
Stephen Rockwell, Managing Director, CrossLeft, steve@crossleft.org, T. 215.317.1865

Joanna Guldi, Communications Director, CrossLeft, jo@crossleft.org

CrossLeft is a strategy clearing-house and central hub for grassroots activism among progressive Christians.

We seek to provide a forum where progressive Christians reclaim  their political voice and evangelize for Jesus's social teachings. 

Jesus taught loving one’s neighbor as oneself. At CrossLeft  we believe that that means promoting welfare, healthcare, education, and opportunity for all, regardless of race, economic background, nation, or  sexuality. Our site receives thousands of visitors each day.

CrossLeft is built by an open community of volunteers nationwide.  In just nine short months, CrossLeft co-organized the Path to Action Conference at the
National Cathedral, DC and  has launched  CrossLeft.org a Website community, national progressive Christian calendar & portal  featuring the exclusive CrossLeft News Service;  a Speaker's Bureau; a  Research Institute; a monthly webzine; Weekly Podcasts; A Community Outreach Program: Faith  in Action and the CrossLeft College Network: Agitating  for Action.

Meet  Christianity that Works: www.CrossLeft.org

Posted by Kety Esquivel on January 9, 2006 at 05:56 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

Wake-up Call

An Emergency Town Meeting with Ed Markey
(A summary report by North Bridge member Cynthia Ritsher)

•  Ed Markey is a Massachusetts Representative  in Washington
•  Marc Rotenberg is the Executive Director of EPIC, the Electronic
Privacy Information  Center   (see: www.epic.org)
•  Carol Rose is with the ACLU

Yesterday evening, January 4th, at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington  several North Bridge  members were present at an important wake-up call, similar in many ways to the one  sounded in Seattle some years ago when thousands of Americans  marched in unison against the
WTO, the IMF and the World Bank.  Back then we were affirming our solidarity with third world countries suffering under the  club of U.S. empire. Yesterday we were clear about our frustration with King George and his gang in Washington.  We supported Ed Markey’s call for regime change  at home.  Both events were wake up calls.

On his web page, Ed Markey posted yesterday’s large gathering  as  “AN EMERGENCY TOWN MEETING on the Bush Administration’s Program on Domestic Surveillance.”  He, along with his two invited panelists, was clear that they were sounding an alarm, the first of many Emergency Town
Meetings that will be heard across the country in the coming months.  All three speakers declared that we’re in the midst of a CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS.

Together they refuted eight myths we are asked by our government  to believe  regarding domestic surveillance. Paraphrased, these myths are:
1.  That we could have prevented 9/11 if we’d had a secret surveillance program in place at the time.
2.  The FISA court is too slow for wartime and undermines surveillance capabilities.
3.  The NSA program is limited and tightly controlled.
4.  The President already has existing authority to conduct secret surveillance.
5.  There is congressional oversight.  Members are periodically briefed.
6.  The domestic spying programs is closely monitored and approved by top Justice Department officials.
7.  Too many restrictions on surveillance already exist.
8.  Talking about this is shameful.  It helps the enemy.  (taken from a Bush quote)

The refutations (Forgive my too brief note-taking.)
1.  After 9/11 Senator Specter and the FBI affirmed in a well-known interchange that there was adequate legal authority and information.  Carol Rose agreed that information gathering is adequate.  What is needed is better analysis.  She spoke of the constitutional crisis
we’re in.
2.  By law we can get Ex Post Facto authorization from the FISA court.  Secrecy is what the Bush government wants, not speed and agility.
3.  the NSA is within the Defense Department and has both funds and power in the extreme.  What we’re missing judicial and legislative oversight.
4.  Simply put, the President is NOT above the law.  (More was said about the 4th Amendment and the 1978 FISA law… but I didn’t take notes.)
5.  Speaking from his own experience, Ed Markey disagreed with President’s notion that there is Congressional Oversight.  He stated further that secret congressional briefings degrade the role of
Congress.
6.  Though the government has stated that the domestic spying programs are closely monitored and approved, Markey made it clear that there’s little information or understanding in congress about WHAT Bush has approved or WHAT he has authorized. He believes Congressional Hearings
– with subpoena powers – are needed.
7.  The FISA Court is a one-sided representation, a rubber-stamp.  Regarding this, the panelists agreed that the Bush gang seeks to do DATA-MINING. In fact, Governor Romney is planning to set up a model FUSION CENTER in Framingham, for collecting and organizing vast amounts of data gleaned from various sources.
8.  The panelists agreed  that we, the audience, and we the people, must be INFORMED and ACTIVE – during this Constitutional Crisis. We must push Congress for Hearings, with subpoena powers. And as we must remind the people about the high stakes at risk. We must inform and inspire
each other to action, making sure that Emergency Town Meetings take place across the country.

Posted by Charlene Johnston on January 7, 2006 at 06:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Some White House Framing on the war in Iraq

Recently, after much negative press, the President gave a live public
address about the war in Iraq. In it, he tried to convince the American
public that the war is good. The primary framing he used focused on
democracy and freedom. Here is one excerpt from the transcript:

Democracy in Iraq
On the political side, we're helping the Iraqis build inclusive
democratic institutions that will protect the interests of all Iraqis.
We're working with the Iraqis to help them engage those who can be
persuaded to join the new Iraq, and to marginalize those who never
will.
In two-and-a-half years, the Iraqi people have made amazing progress.
They've gone from living under the boot of a brutal tyrant, to
liberation, to free elections, to a democratic constitution.


Let's look at the framing:
"Democracy" - the implication of this word is that the government is
elected by the people, and thus represents their wishes. Democracy is a
good thing. Thus the war in Iraq, by creating a democracy, is a good
thing, too.

First, some facts: The people who voted did not include a whole
religious segment of the population, and thus those elected are not
representative. The people who ran for office were the ones we allowed
to run.

So even if the entire population had voted, their choices were limited
to candidates who may not necessarily represent them.

What these facts mean is that this was not a democratic election. It’s
like the people were taken to a farm-stand and told they could choose
from only the apples. The lettuce, pears, carrots, potatoes, corn, and
oranges were hidden away, so the people wouldn’t get any ideas of their
own.

"Those who can be persuaded to join the new Iraq"

This means that those who don't go along with an outsider's viewpoint
of what's good for them - a large percentage of the population - are
somehow stubborn or irrational - "unpersuadable." They deserve to be
"marginalized," which means ignored - or worse. With this framing the
administration means to convince us that these people who are trying to
point out the lack of democracy don’t really indicate a lack of
democracy, but are nobodies to be ignored.

"They've gone from living under the boot of a brutal tyrant to
liberation, to free elections, to a democratic constitution"


Saddam Hussein was definitely a brutal tyrant. Living in his regime had
to have been a life of daily fear for large swaths of the population,
and ending his regime held the promise of a better future.

But look at the tense of the verbs - the implication is that life is
better right now, in the present. However, the country is still
occupied by foreign troops. People are shot for driving their cars at the wrong
time. They are killed for carrying a cell phone. They are dragged from
their homes without evidence, imprisoned, and tortured. They have no
electricity or water much of the time. Most Iraqis know personally
innocent people who have dies as the result of the ongoing war in their
homeland. Is that liberation?

Are elections where the candidates are chosen for you, and which are
meaningless to you if you belong to the "wrong" religion free?

Is a constitution provided to your country by another country
democratic? Even though you couldn't vote for it, and had no voice in
what it says about your future?

The White House used careful framing. The implication is that if you
are against the Iraq war, then you mustn’t want people in Iraq to have a
democracy, you mustn’t want them to have liberty, and that you want
them under the boot of a brutal dictator.

This is a very common tool in message strategies - creating what's
called a false dichotomy: create an “either/or” choice as if those are
the only two possible choices.

To break the frame, you can either use the frame itself, or you can
break out of it entirely.

To use the frame itself, you can restate one of the false choices as a
question, like "Is being killed for having a cell phone freedom? If it
is the legitimate price of freedom, should all cell phone owners be
killed?"

To step out of the frame you can ask: "Is there a better way to acheive
the goal of freedom for the people of Iraq?"
Posted by Liane Allen

Posted by Jessica Falker on January 2, 2006 at 08:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)