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  • Sunday, September 28, 2008


    Palin, Muthee, Dominionism and Witchcraft, Part 2

    My previous post barely touched the surface of the problems with the intersection of Palin, Dominionism and Witchcraft. At this point, however, Palin's connection to the good Bishop Thomas Muthee is relatively old news.

    Moving beyond the obvious bald Palin/Muthee facts leads to the question of using prayer to affect politics. The particular worldview of Dominionism is an intensely righteous and judgmental one. There is no problem with clearly defining battle lines for their "spiritual warfare." There is also little separation between personal spiritual and secular political goals since the widespread institution of Biblical law in secular government is a central tenet.

    At core, Dominionism is a profoundly anti-democratic philosophy, rejecting pluralism for a rigid and strictly homogeneous society, kept that way through intimidation and severe punishments. People who didn't conform in such a society would be harshly reformed or eliminated.

    Now, Bishop Muthee's Word of Faith Church website has a number of interesting phrases. Some of this may be attributed to poor English skills but I'm struck by this one: "Our Vision: Touching lives for total community transformation thereby taking cities and nations."

    "...taking cities and nations," presumably for Christ in this instance, has this conquering tone of overpowering the non-believers, converting where possible and destroying or driving out when necessary. Also of interest is what seems to be a kind of motto for Word of Faith Church: "'we preach christ crucified' 1cor. 1:23." [sic capitalization] The full passage reads: "But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;" (King James version, here for different translation versions/comparisons.)

    This is borne out in the story of Bishop Muthee driving the "witch" Mama (or Mamma) Jane out of the Kiambu, Kenya. According to sources, this was where Bishop Muthee founded his first Kenyan church. Note also that almost twenty years after those events, witch hunting and killing continues to happen in Kenya.

    Muthee's website claims he has 400 churches currently. By the way, I can't find a source for Muthee's "Bishop" title since no source I've found tells if it was conferred to him by some organized hierarchy or organization. I suspect he granted it to himself.

    I have to note that the details of the story of Mama Jane seem to come entirely from Muthee or his supporters. The earliest independent news story on the events is the 1999 Christian Science Monitor story. Most information on the events surrounding Mama Jane seems to come from a DVD called Transformations rather than investigative reporting.

    Once again I've run out of time for this story and I admit what I've written in this post is rather disjointed. There were several other points I was going to include but I think I'll just briefly list links to connected stories I found.

    "Why are intercessors sometimes referred to as armor bearers? Please explain the role that they fulfill in this capacity."

    Palin's Churches and the Third Wave

    Praying Down God's Power

    Christian Fundamentalism Permeates the Republican Party: Sarah Palin’s links to the Christian Right

    The Republicans' Subliminal Ticket: Will American Voters Be Hoodwinked?

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    Friday, September 26, 2008


    Palin, Dominionism and Witchcraft

    While I find the story of Sarah Palin's blessing by Thomas Muthee a less-than-compelling reason to condemn her or her beliefs, it does bring to the fore certain lines of Evangelical thinking. (For background on the Palin/Muthee brouhaha, see "Targeting cities with 'spiritual mapping,' prayer", "Palin under fire over African pastor friend who waged witch-hunt against woman he believed caused car crashes" and "Palin linked electoral success to prayer of Kenyan witchhunter" for a small selection of news stories.)

    The whole "spiritual warfare" concept seems a dangerous philosophical practice. No matter how much the "spiritual" aspects are emphasized, couching it as "warfare" leads to a general perception of a life-or-death struggle. In that context, justification of the most horrible tactics becomes easy. If you are part of a war between Good and Evil and you consider yourself on the side of Good, what won't you do to vanquish all opposition? And what keeps you from lumping all those that oppose you into the Evil category?

    There's a saying (the source escapes me at the moment) that what people do in the name of evil pales beside the atrocities people are willing do in the name of good, God or country. I don't mean this to damn all efforts to fight injustice but to point out the pitfalls of such extreme dichotomies of view, allowing no areas of grey and diversity of opinion. Believing only in absolutes is a poor match with a pluralistic democracy like the USA.

    On a wider level, we can see this playing out in US politics. Rank and file political partisans are encouraged to demonize the opposition, to use flagrant insult and taunts in place of political discussion of positions and options. Classical debating styles are viewed as too intellectual, too boring, too forgiving of differences.

    I had much more to say on this subject but time has run short tonight. I may return to it later.

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    Thursday, September 25, 2008


    Starhawk: Collapse and Elections: My Lessons from Katrina

    The following essay from Starhawk neatly sums up some of my own doubts and thoughts about the coming election. I've taken the liberty of linking some of the people and groups she mentioned to websites and Wikipedia entries but these links did not exist in the copy I got through email. --DemiOrator

    Collapse and Elections: My Lessons from Katrina
    by Starhawk

    I’ve been meaning to write this essay for three years, since I went down to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to volunteer with a grassroots organization called Common Ground Relief. I went to New Orleans because for decades I’ve been part of groups holding a few key beliefs, among them, that this current system is unsustainable and will eventually come crashing down, and the other—that small scale, directly democratic grassroots organizing is the most empowering and effective way to take action. I wanted to see what it was like in a place where the crash had come, and to see if our grassroots, do-it-yourself mode of organizing could work in that situation.

    Now, with the Gulf Coast battered by a new round of storms, Wall Street deconstructing and capitalism in meltdown mode, that prediction is coming true. It seems a good time to review those lessons.

    In New Orleans, the crash had come. Not just the devastation left by the storm—every major system that was supposed to offer protection, succor or relief had failed. Starting with the faulty levees built by the Army Corps of Engineers, moving on to an evacuation plan that was no plan at all for those without means, to completely inadequate shelter facilities for those who remained, to disorganized and punitive responses for those who survived, nothing official was working.

    What I arrived, a month after the hurricane, the only systems that were functioning were the decentralized, autonomous relief efforts. Common Ground Relief was started by a local organizer, Malik Rahim, who lived in Algiers, a neighborhood that had not flooded. He sent out a call that made its way into activist circles.

    And people responded. Nurses, doctors and street medics who had honed their skills setting up emergency clinics for street actions went down and set up a functioning clinic long before the Red Cross arrived. Others helped set up distribution for relief supplies, and later, as residents began to filter back, organized groups of volunteers to gut houses contaminated with toxic black mold and to offer other forms of service. I worked on a bioremediation project, using natural methods to decontaminate soil.

    The experienced deepened my commitment to decentralized, grassroots organizing. Our ability to move swiftly, without being hampered by red tape, to respond to immediate need and to call on thousands of people to volunteer their time, efforts and money was impressive.

    But I also saw our limitations. I remember sitting in one early meeting where we were discussing whether to send supplies across the river to the main part of town, still without power, or out to Houma in the bayou country, or to focus where we were. “What about Mississippi?” someone said. “I hear there’s no relief in Biloxi at all!” The discussion spun down a vortex of overwhelming need, and I remember thinking, “There should be someone or something who could send a team into every county and parish, assess the need, set up distribution…”and then…”There is an agency that’s supposed to do that. It’s called FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or failing that, the National Guard.”

    The National Guard was partly in Iraq, partly in Florida moving military equipment out of the way of the storm. While the military had searched every house in the city for bodies in the aftermath of the flood, they were providing more harassment than relief to those who remained. FEMA was under the control of a Bush political appointee who has become a famous symbol of utter mismanagement. And I couldn’t help thinking, “There are people dead today who would still be alive if we had had somebody even minimally competent in charge.”

    Our grassroots efforts were effective, but they couldn’t begin to match the enormous need. Eventually, Common Ground Relief had centers in several different neighborhoods in New Orleans, and along with many other relief efforts, drew on thousands of volunteers who came down over the next year. College students came down on breaks, communities sent down convoys of supplies and helpers, but there was no way we could respond on the scale of the disaster.

    Our volunteer efforts were also difficult to sustain over time. While many, many people made personal sacrifices in order to come, and some stayed for a year or more doing unpaid and extremely difficult work, not many people could afford to do that. Efforts like our bioremediation project suffered from lack of consistency. When a person who had enthusiasm for it was there, it flourished. When they left, it died.

    Volunteer efforts also depend on people getting along well together. Direct democracy means people make decisions together, and that can be tremendously empowering or tremendously frustrating. Stress, trauma and overwhelming need do not further good group process. Common Ground’s efforts often felt the strain of interpersonal conflicts, which also drained energy and enthusiasm from volunteers.

    I came away from the experience with profoundly mixed feelings. On the one hand, I see even more strongly the power of positive, creative direct action—that is, directly solving our own problems, organizing to provide for needs and to exemplify solutions, and doing it in groups where every person involved has a say in decisions. I feel called to help plant the seeds of that kind of organizing in every neighborhood, town and bioregion of the land, and to help further refine our skills in making decisions and handling conflicts.

    But I also see the need for big systems. There are problems that need to be addressed on a massive scale, and we face some crucial ones at this moment in history. While my long-term vision is a world of empowered, decentralized communities in charge of their own destinies, there’s a short term problem we desperately need to address: completely transforming our technology, our energy infrastructure, our economy, our food, manufacturing and transportation systems to a zero carbon basis, and doing it in a way that furthers social justice.

    I call this a short term problem because we need to begin this transition now, not in some distant, utopian future, not even in fifty years or fifteen or ten. Jim Hansen, the world’s leading climate change scientist, says we are already past the tipping point for irreversible, runaway climate change. That means potentially billions of deaths, from drought, from thirst, from increased and frequent storms like Katrina and like the hurricanes currently battering the Caribbean and the Gulf Coast, the potential rise of sea levels, billions more left homeless refugees, major extinctions and huge losses of biodiversity. Trust me, we don’t want to go there if we don’t have to.

    And we don’t have to. We have the technology and knowledge we need to make the shift—possibly with less personal sacrifice than we think. You don’t have to trust me on this, check out the resources at the end of this post and read the folks who have crunched the numbers for us.

    But we do need to make the shift on the big scale as well as the small. Changing our individual lightbulbs won’t do it. Organizing our own communities to plan and implement the transition will be a big step, but it won’t be enough. We need massive investment in new infrastructure and major shifts in the policies that have subsidized the current fossil fuel economy along with the failed global casino economy. In short, we need intervention on the scale of government.

    If we’re going to have government, it should be well-run, honest, and accountable. Its police powers should be limited and it should serve as a way for us to pool our resources and address issues that are too big to solve individually. It should protect the weak from the strong, the poor from the rich, the honest from the greedy, and use its resources to help mitigate the suffering of individuals from the misfortunes of loss, disease and disaster which can afflict us all.

    Instead, we’ve had eight years and more of the opposite—government that has increased police and military power at the expense of every nurturing function, inflated police power and undermined our freedoms, waged illegal wars, favored the rich over the poor and middle class and encouraged such unbridled greed that the whole system is now collapsing. Unfortunately, in such a crash those at the bottom get crushed under the most weight.

    We have the Republicans chanting ‘Drill, Baby Drill!” while blocking the extension of tax credits for solar, wind and renewables. If the question is, “Which candidate is more likely to lead us to a solar future”, there’s simply no contest.

    Let me just say here that, in the circles I run in, the question is not, “Should I vote for Obama or McCain.” The dilemma is “Should I bother to vote at all, when even Obama’s policies are not nearly progressive enough. Won’t he just sell out and betray us, like every other politician?”

    Obama won’t save us. His policies do fall short, for me, in many respects. But he is headed in the right direction, toward the future while McCain and Palin want to drag us back into a feudal, fossil-fueled, fundamentalist past.

    If Obama did represent my position, on say, Palestine, he would be unelectable.

    Asking politicians to take unelectable positions is like asking ducks to sink. If we want those positions represented, we need to build popular support for them. And we need to make that support mean something in terms of votes, funds and volunteers.

    On some issues, progressives have done that. The fact that Obama is running at all is a tribute to the civil rights organizing over decades. No, we haven’t ended racism, but we’ve moved in my lifetime from being a country where Obama and I could not have drunk from the same water fountain in many states to a country where he can run for President. That is an extremely meaningful change, and his election will have a powerful, symbolic meaning that will shift the ground of racism in ways we cannot fully anticipate.

    We’ve built powerful opposition to the War in Iraq. Or maybe, the war itself has done that for us. Obama is the candidate because of that opposition. Had Hillary Clinton opposed the war more strongly, she would most likely be the Democratic candidate. Nonetheless, her candidacy, and the fact that conservative Republican strategists turned to a woman to bolster their faltering campaign, are a tribute to the decades of feminist organizing that have changed our collective sense of what women’s roles should be.

    On other issues, like justice for Palestine, we have not yet shifted public opinion or built enough support for a truly progressive solution even to be on the table. Why not? In part, because for the last eight years trying to organize in this country has been like trying to walk to the left with a gale force wind pushing us to the right. We’ve done well even to hold our ground and make some small headway.

    I don’t think Obama will be our savior. But if he’s elected, the wind will shift. The breeze will be at our backs, pushing us further and faster toward destinations we otherwise cannot reach.

    If McCain wins, or steals the election, the right will claim a popular mandate that will propel their destructive programs onward. Progressive causes and movements will suffer.

    I sometimes hear the argument that it has to get worse before it gets better, that people will become radicalized when it gets really awful. I’ve been hearing that since Nixon was elected in ‘Sixty-eight, and I’ve yet to see it happen. It is already really awful, and we’ll be lucky if we can persuade most of the people to simply not vote the architects of the awfulness back into power.

    People do not become empowered by constantly having their powerlessness rubbed in their faces. In the United States, at least, where the worst possible thing you can be is a ‘loser’, people like to be on the winning side. Increased repression does not tend to make people more radical—if it did, we’d see our movements growing over the last eight years instead of shrinking. It tends to make people give up, or turn their energies toward smaller efforts where they feel they can make some impact. A McCain win would reward the machinery of lies and corruption and cement the power of the police state.

    For Obama to win, and to assure that this election does not get stolen like the last two, he needs to win big. To have some hope of implementing progressive changes, he needs to have a supportive Congress and Senate win with him.

    I hear arguments from some of my dear friends that voting doesn’t matter, that it’s not empowering or revolutionary. But for the vast majority of people in this country, elections are the only place where they interface with politics or attempt to exercise power, and if we sneer at that, we lose the chance to link together and open up broader channels for change. And for the kids I’ve worked with in the Bayview, who have never seen a flowing river and whose career options range from crack dealer to murder-for-hire, voting would be a big step upwards.

    I’m a registered member of the Green Party. I vote Green often, and on a local level, I think the Green Party can have an enormous impact. I also love Cynthia McKinney, whose policies are much closer to those I hold dear. But I hold no illusions that she can win. A Green Party can provide a counterweight on the left to the many pulls to the center and the right that play on candidates. But I would prefer to see the Green Party concentrate on the local issues and candidates that can make a difference, rather than make a weak showing on the national front.

    Policy is only one aspect of what we need in a President. A President must be able to garner the power and the backing to get policies enacted.

    And on an energetic level, a President embodies a national mood, a zeitgeist, an energetic field. Obama has that magic charisma, that ability to inspire a mood of hope and optimism. In spite of all the attempts by both Clinton and the Republicans to diminish his appeal, he retains that great gift. In these times when so much of what ordinary people have depended on is crashing down around us, mood might actually be more important than specific points of policy. Because if we have no hope, if we spiral downwards into cynicism, despair and apathy, we will lose any power we might otherwise wield.

    Obama may or may not be all we hope. But this election, we actually have a clear choice between candidates who represent very different approaches to the huge crises that we face. For the people who’ve lost their homes or pensions in the last months, for the people under fire in Iraq, for the companies struggling to start up solar or wind installations, for the millions without health insurance, for the billions of people around the world at risk from climate meltdown, the decision we make in the next weeks is crucial.

    I will continue to work and organize and teach with the vision of a thousand, a million Common Ground-style organizations everywhere. I won’t give up my vision of an ideal world of shared and decentralized power, and the bulk of my efforts will always go into envisioning that world, teaching the skills and understandings we need to bring it about, and agitating to make it happen.

    But I’m also going to vote, and to encourage others to do so, to engage with this election, to register the disenfranchised, work in the swing states, volunteer to monitor to assure fair elections, and talk to your friends and neighbors.

    And when I cast my ballot for President, it will be for Obama.


    Addendum: If you are looking for good, solid, number crunching around energy policy and the transition to a carbon-free society, check out: Arjun Makhijani. Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy. Takoma Park, MD. Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

    It’s not sexy writing, but it’s vital information, very technical and well researched. Makhijani was skeptical that the transition could be done economically, then did the research (funded by Helen Caldicott) and found that indeed we could. I’ll be writing more on this later.

    (Feel free to forward and repost this—just let me know where if you post it.)
    This post has been sent to you from This is an announce-only listserve that allows Starhawk to post her writings occasionally to those who wish to receive them. To subscribe to this list, send an email to

    Starhawk is a lifelong activist in peace and global justice movements, a leader in the feminist and earth-based spirituality movements, author or coauthor of ten books, including The Spiral Dance, The Fifth Sacred Thing, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising, and her latest, The Earth Path. Starhawk's website is, and more of her writings and information on her schedule and activities can be found there.

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    Wednesday, September 24, 2008


    Personal Economics

    The bleak economic news continues to rattle around. Investment firms falling like dominos, stock market quakes, the US$700 billion to prop up Wall St., etc.

    I'm somewhat removed from direct effect of these events (no investments, no retirement fund, minimal savings, an annual salary barely above poverty level) but it strikes fear into me. A crisis of such enormous proportions will eventually hit me where I live. My mother has some investments and I have no idea what's happening to them.

    I'm reminded of the Great Depression. I think of expanding our garden but that won't do much good as we head into the Fall season in New England. What would it take to have chickens here? What is the minimal amount of electricity needed to run our household necessities?

    The fear reminds me what is important and essential: food and shelter. Everything beyond that can be let go if necessary. I look toward dropping my minor acquisitive vices: books, CDs, and magazines. Satellite TV? I'd probably be better off without it. I start to view the internet as a tool, not a form of entertainment.

    What grows is not quite an ascetic view but certainly a leaner approach to my life.

    Will things get as bad as the Depression? No telling at this point but it wouldn't surprise me. On the whole, Americans have gotten too used to prosperity, too used to disposable income, too used to abundant shallow entertainment. "It couldn't happen here!" is the saddest of refrains, the ejaculation of the stunned and disbelieving. Yet we are being reminded that there is so much out of our control, that oligarchy is the true governing system of the US and the corporate elite live fat on the sweat of the majority of American workers/people.

    I suggest you start planning now for a new future. The old one is looking shaky.

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    Monday, September 22, 2008


    The Shallowness of American Politics

    I continue to be amazed at the limitations of US politics and the narrowness of acceptable solutions by politicians. To use an entirely overworn metaphor, our political options remain in a box controlled tightly by the media and "elites".* Solutions "outside the box" are usually dismissed without serious consideration and usually without ever even seeing the media light of day.

    So it is with our current economic crisis. Instead of acknowledging the flaws in our policies that led to our current problems and acting to correct them, we are left with applying emergency fixes in a crisis. Thus we have bailouts of huge private economic linchpins allowed to grow unregulated until our economy is dependent on them. De-regulation of areas of financial markets turns into the sub-prime fiasco.

    Yet we hear from many pundits that it is those people who got these sub-prime loans who are to blame for poor fiscal responsibility, for getting loans they knew they couldn't pay back. What's lacking in this analysis is the economic optimism encouraged by American society since WWII. Until relatively recently, Americans were used to thinking of themselves as continually moving up the economic ladder. Hard work leads to advancement and increased pay.

    This hasn't been true for a long time but the attitude remains a core value and assumption for many American workers. Never mind that wage stagnation has been the rule for many years, the future's so bright I need sunglasses, right?

    So what solutions do we hear proposed? Crisis band-aids and studiously forgetting the role money managers might have played in creating the problem. Top management keeps its billions of dollars in pay and bonuses despite their evident culpability while homeowners lose homes for want of a few thousand dollars.

    We live in a kind of pyramid scheme called Capitalism. Where do those wealthy top 1% get their money? Conventional thought is that it comes from their bold investment of money with the risk of loss on a large scale. In other words, what most people do all the time when they make large purchases like an automobile or a home. The difference is that when those at the bottom of the pyramid make a poor decision, it is personally catastrophic.

    One pundit recently said when some people end up defaulting on mortgages, they just put the keys in the mailbox and walk away, leaving the bank with the problem. I find that a fascinating perspective. I have to wonder how many people in today's society can actually just "walk away" from a bad debt. Unless they somehow have a new identity waiting, debt tends to follow someone around for a long time in one form or another. People don't just get disapproving looks for bad debt; they get phone harassment, revoking of credit lines, raising of credit card interest rates, and much more.

    I seem to have strayed far from my initial subject but perhaps not too far. Our politicians seem bound by political expediency and fear of upsetting the big ticket contributors to their campaign coffers. So don't say the problem is de-regulation and overdependence on complex shuffling of paper money. The problem is the borrowers because the borrowers have all the power in the situation, right?

    When the house of cards comes down, we are left wondering why our politicians didn't see it coming years ago. In a way, they did. Their solution was to focus on the "War on Terror". Iraq. Afghanistan. Because we still live with the post-WWII prosperity idea that wars benefit our economy. And wars did help our economy when we produced real goods. In a services economy like we've got today, not so much.

    Wars do distract the population, though, keeping them from demanding too much or the right things.

    *I use "elites" here to mean practically all national politicians and 98% of the "authorities" seen on any TV news or commentary.

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    Friday, September 19, 2008


    I Heart Frameshop

    My other commitments have been sucking at my time so I admit my reading of blogs has been severely limited over the last year or two. I'm trying to sample some of my old favorites as well as reach out to some new ones.

    This has brought me back to Frameshop and a renewed appreciation of the analysis provided there. I never leave Frameshop without substance to chew over. Some may find it a little abstract but I never do. For example, his recent post Frameshop: The Winning Frame has Emerged examines the various frames used by various candidates in the campaign.

    Here's his take on the Democrats' frames:
    Opening Frames: 'American Dream' and 'Hope'
    The 2008 election started out with multiple competing frames from Democrats and Republicans. The largest opening frames, however, came from the Clinton campaign and the Obama Campaign.

    From the start, Clinton set the idea of restoring the 'American Dream,' and idea that was fundamentally economic. During the course of the primary, Clinton arrived at a new way to express her opening frame by talking about 'the invisible.' It was a very convincing idea, particularly as the economy went south. Despite the ideological statements of the Republicans, a majority of Americans felt that the economy had left them behind and that nobody cared about their troubles. The 'American Dream' frame became 'the invisible' and Hillary Clinton won millions of votes as a result.

    The Obama campaign offered a different opening frame in the idea of 'Hope.' In many ways, 'Hope' was a much stronger frame than 'American dream' because it spoke to larger questions about the future of the country as a whole. By talking about 'Hope,' Obama was talking about American idealism beyond the mechanics of building family wealth. 'Hope' was also a more forward looking frame because it implicitly acknowledged new challenges that Americans face--such as global warming, conservation, technology, international interdependence, and so forth. The 'American Dream,' was more nostalgic. The problem with 'Hope' as we discovered in the primary, was that it was difficult to re-emphasize in terms of the economy when that became the key issue in the primaries. The middle ground framing of 'more people participating' that was so successful for Obama in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, became less successful for his campaign in Pennsylvania. The better frame in idealistic terms, 'Hope' did not readily present a way to ground that idealism in the concrete issues that contingency was forcing into the election.

    Obama won the nomination, but the sense coming out of that long contest was that he was left with a very big challenge of finding an economic foundation for his 'hope' frame. And even by the time of the DNC, it did not seem like that new frame had emerged quite yet.

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    Wednesday, September 17, 2008


    Dominionism, Part 4: Broad Application of the Death Penalty

    While researching Dominionism/Christian Reconstructionism for my last post, I came across this tidbit:
    However, in some areas the application of theonomy could increase the authority of the civil government; prominent advocates of Christian Reconstructionism have written that according to their understanding, God's law approves of the death penalty not only for murder, but also for propagators of idolatry[3][4][5], active homosexuals[6], adulterers, practitioners of witchcraft, and blasphemers[7], and perhaps even recalcitrant youths[8] (see the List of capital crimes in the bible).
    And that List of capital crimes in the Bible article came up with this:
    According to the Torah (or Mosaic Law), these are the offenses which may merit the death penalty in a Jewish major court of 23 judges.
    1. Murder, applies to Noachides as well (Genesis 9:6, Exodus 21:12-14, Leviticus 24:17-23, Numbers 35:9-34)
    2. Striking a parent (Exodus 21:15)
    3. Cursing a parent (Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9)
    4. The "degenerate son" (Deuteronomy 21:18-21)
    5. Kidnapping (Exodus 21:16, Deuteronomy 24:7)
    6. Negligent homicide, specifically by ox-goring (Exodus 21:28-32)
    7. Sorcery and Augury (Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 20:27)
    8. Bestiality (Exodus 22:19, Leviticus 20:15-16)
    9. Sacrificing to gods other than God alone (Exodus 22:20, Leviticus 27:29)
    10. Sabbath breaking (Exodus 31:12-17, 35:2, Numbers 15:32-36)
    11. Sacrificing to Molech, probably Human sacrifice (Leviticus 20:1-5)
    12. Adultery (Leviticus 20:10)
    13. Incest (Leviticus 20:11-12)
    14. Male homosexual sexual relations (Leviticus 20:13, Leviticus 18:22, see also Leviticus 18)
    15. Marrying your wife's mother (Leviticus 20:14)
    16. Prostitution by the daughter of a priest (Leviticus 21:9)
    17. Blasphemy (Leviticus 24:10-16)
    18. Worshipping Baal Peor (Numbers 25:1-9)
    19. False prophecy (Deuteronomy 13:1-10, 17:2-7, 18:20-22)
    20. Contempt of court (Deuteronomy 17:8-13)
    21. False witness to a capital crime (Deuteronomy 19:15-21)
    22. Unchastity among those engaged to marry (Deuteronomy 22:13-29)
    I just love Wikipedia.

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    My Pitifully Weak Resolve Concerning Sarah Palin

    Now I give lie to my previous post where I called for a cessation of Palin bashing. I sincerely think that she's not a very good focus for critical examination leading up to the election. Her flaws and lacks in relation to the VP position are myriad and are being hashed out quite thoroughly in the public arena. I think it serves little good purpose to continue to thrash her beliefs, views, skills, etc.

    Yet... I still shamefully feel the urge. As a target, she's stunningly easy to find fault with. While there are some false stories floating around, there's still plenty of substance. Pharyngula has a nice post from a scientific perspective on some of Palin's beliefs.

    Related is an opinion piece by Chris Hedges: "For Palin, It’s a (Christian) Man’s World". I think some of Mr. Hedges' points are a bit off, not the least being taking a starkly black and white absolutist view of Ms. Palin's denomination while accusing them of exactly that. Then again, Hedges has much greater knowledge of the subject matter than I can possibly lay claim to. I do know that Dominionism or Christian Reconstructionism shouldn't be dismissed casually. It is a very serious religious movement with strong fascistic elements. If Palin is involved in a denomination affiliated with Dominionism, that is quite disturbing.

    Here's a quote from the current Wikipedia article on Christian Rconstructionism:
    While many Christians believe that biblical law is a guide to morality and public ethics, when interpreted in faith, Reconstructionism is unique in advocating that civil law should be derived from and limited by biblical law. For example, they support the recriminalization of acts of abortion and homosexuality, but also oppose confiscatory taxation, conscription, and most aspects of the welfare state. Protection of property and life needs grounding in biblical law, according to Reconstructionism, or the state set free from the restraint of God's law will take what it wishes at a whim. Accordingly, Reconstructionists advocate biblically derived measures of restitution, a definite limit upon the powers of taxation, and a gold standard or equivalent fixed unit for currency. (all emphasis mine.)
    Normally, of course, what a candidate believes religiously is not particularly relevant to their election and ability to serve in office. However, when the beliefs explicitly call for bringing civil law into line with Biblical law, then there is a problem for everyone. Even most Christians wouldn't want the imposition of Biblical law which includes slavery among its tenets. Read the Old Testament; the laws and punishments would horrify the vast majority of Americans. The quote above is a little evasive. Re-criminalization of abortion and homosexuality means execution for the perpetrators of these acts, not mere jail time. At least it means that if you're going to strictly follow those Biblical laws.

    I have no idea what goes on the the heart and mind of Sarah Palin. I don't know enough to predict what she would do in the Vice-Presidency. Most of the info I've seen indicates she is much like George W. Bush in her certainty levels: Act first and let others deal with the fallout. A decider, not necessarily a thinker.

    Personally, I think we've had enough of that kind of leadership style in the last eight years. Between McCain's quick-to-anger moods and Palin's breezy don't-let-facts-get-in-the-way-of-decisions approach, I'm not eager to see the results of their administration.

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    Tuesday, September 16, 2008


    Parting from Palin Bashing

    While it appears the sport of Palin bashing remains quite popular, I'm really of the opinion it should be given a rest. At this point I think it unlikely that anyone will change their opinions about her abilities and competency for being VP (with a strong possibility of being President).

    I did come across this blog post I found interesting: 'Alaska Women Reject Palin' Rally is HUGE:
    Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn’t happen here.

    I like hearing personal stories like this. Such observations don't paint the whole picture but they do provide impressionistic color, bits of a mosaic. Particularly interesting is that this rally was in her home state.

    Aside: I was going to write a piece comparing the most recent positions of Obama and McCain but stalled out on the research. One progressive magazine I saw recently spoke of the strong rightward drift of Obama's positions since the time when he became the nominee apparent back in the Spring of 2008. It's always been clear that, despite Obama's rhetoric of change, there are many things he will NOT change or will change only superficially.

    In that vein, I think Obama is probably a Bill Clinton-type centrist. Lest you forget, Clinton wasn't a boon friend to civil liberties or working-to-middle class people. He was a friend to business and, it could be argued, left much of Reagan's legacy in place after taking office as well as forcing more people into deep poverty through some of his programs.

    Aside aside: The following is a poor argument but it is something that has run through my mind on occasion. The US Presidency has almost become dynastic in the last twenty years: 4 years of GHW Bush as President; 8 years of Bill Clinton; 8 years of GWBush. For 20 years, a Bush or a Clinton has been in the Presidency. Sometimes I wonder if this played a part in the rejection/failure of Hillary to become the Dem's nominee. Sexism, personal antipathy, historical baggage, etc. played parts as well but I don't recall anyone speaking to the dynastic aspect. 24-28 years of two families to control the Presidency seems exceptionally antidemocratic. Yes, I know, we should look at qualifications, not familial connections but still...

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    Saturday, September 13, 2008


    Blogs of Interest in Five Part Harmony

    Nothing shows bloggy love like finding new blogs to share. Some of these are old faves, others are new to me. The DemiOrator sez: Visit them and spread the love.

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    Thursday, September 11, 2008


    Celebrating the September 11, 2001 Anniversary

    Celebrating? Is that really the word I should use? Probably not. There is nothing to "celebrate." It was a horrible series of events with a staggering death toll.

    Yet when I look at the titles of the many programs on TV today commemorating the events, I'm astonished at the static nature of the descriptions. It's like the USA has never moved beyond the events at all. Seven years later, we are still recounting the details of that day in 2001. Images of chaos, smoke, fire, ash and staggering people. The second plane hitting. The Pennsylvania field. The Pentagon strike site smoldering.

    Today, the media treat it like it is surgically isolated from events before and after, a tragedy without cause and effect. For example, the use of those events as a major justification for the 2003 Iraq invasion by the US and subsequent occupation. This despite there being no evidence that I'm aware of that there was any connection whatsoever.

    Fear of enemies has always been a prime rationale for government theft of civil liberties. "We're protecting you! Bad people are out there! Be afraid! Be resolute! Be angrily patriotic! These colors don't run!"

    Some of the worst aspects of xenophobia, racism, and blind chauvinism bloom unquestioned when the 9/11 banner is waved. This is why the event continues to be de-contextualized, removed from the continuum of historic events and held as an encapsulated example. This way it remains a red flag to the bull of the collective US citizenry, inflaming unresolved trauma and inciting a blind urge for retribution. We are held hostage to the memory and misdirected to blame the wrong people over and over. This is the way power brokers and politicians manipulate us.

    A responsible media wouldn't just replay these events in more and more detail every year. But it does. Does a new voiceover narration make the events different or improve our understanding? Do we learn anything new? Or are we doomed to be consistently reactive, our kneejerk responses as predictable as the ticking clock?

    At some point, mourning must end. These events can't be used to justify even worse atrocities on the part of the USA. That is an unacceptable and immoral course of action.

    Listening to: Take Me to the River by Talking Heads

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    Saturday, September 06, 2008


    Starhawk's RNC post 10: The Last March

    UPDATE: All our cluster is out of jail, the bus is back on the street, and I’m home in my own bed! But some of the young organizers who put together food, housing, and meeting spaces for the direct actions are facing trumped up charges of conspiracy to riot and ‘terrorism’ under Minnesota’s version of the Patriot Act. This is one of the clearest uses of this post 911 legislation to target dissent. The Welcoming Committee members are not accused of actually doing any rioting—indeed, they were all in jail during the convention, nor was any physical evidence found to corroborate the fabricated statements of the paid informants who infiltrated meetings. It’s vitally important for progressives to stand behind these young people who have been targeted mostly because they proclaim themselves ‘anarchists.’ If they can be targeted for their beliefs, so can any of us. If they can be held responsible for the actions of people over whom they have no control, so can anyone who organizes a march, a rally, a civil disobedience, or a protest where a provocateur breaks a window. The lawyers are estimating that to fight their charges may take $250,000 over the next several years. Hey, that’s only 1000 people who can donate $250 each. I’ll be one of them, will you? To donate any amount, go to:

    And thanks again to all of you who have been so supportive and generous during this last week. Here’s my final post, my previous posts can be read at:

    The Last March
    By Starhawk

    Thursday, September 4: This is the final night of the convention, the night that John McCain is scheduled to speak. There’s also an antiwar march scheduled to begin on the steps of the Capitol—an unpermitted march. We make our way there through a city that has become an occupied zone. There are rumors that police are blocking the bridges, that the whole city will be under curfew from 5 pm on.

    We gather up our cluster—only about ten of us. The Capitol is surrounded by clumps of riot cops and the tension is throbbing as speakers on the stage rile up the crowd. Jason and Riyanna are fresh out of jail, and not eager to go back, so they will stay on a safe edge and not put themselves into danger. At least, not if Lisa has anything to say about it—she’s snapping at them like a mother dog correcting her pups. She, of course, will snap equally hard at anyone who suggests that she ought to stay out of danger. Juniper and I together can sometimes corral her enough to let us watch her back—but not always. Andy and I have been remarking about how, even though our tactic of choice is to wade into danger and stolidly obstruct it, nothing seems to happen to us. This has held true for both of us, separately and together, in situations much more dangerous than this one. Is it something we do? Will naming it jinx it? How far can we trust it?

    A few people in our group are having a moment of panic. Nothing’s happened, yet, but all our intuition tells us that something could, at any moment. They decide to go back, and be our support if something does.

    I’m feeling the fear, but it’s a little bit outside of me. I’m trying to drop down below it, to the calm place where I can get information, or at least, a clear hunch. Is this going to go really badly? If so, do I want to be out of it, or in it, to try and make it less bad?

    There are two great instincts that war in the human breast; not sex and death, as Freud maintained, but these: the urge to stay safe, and the urge to get into the action or at least, see what’s going on.

    For the moment, the second urge is dominant in all of us who remain. The march starts off, and we join it. But we’re extra alert. We’re looking for the exits and the escape routes, positioning ourselves always so there is somewhere to go.

    The march heads up the street alongside the Capitol lawn, and then tries to turn across one of the bridges leading into downtown. The police move in, and block us.

    There’s a tense crowd of people on the bridge and filling the intersection. Around us are police in full riot gear and gas masks. There’s also a group of bike cops, looking slightly underdressed in shorts and gas masks. They’ve brought in the Minnesota specials—a line of snowplows across the bridge. On them are perched black-masked cops in heavy leathers holding thick-muzzled rifles that shoot rubber bullets.

    The energy is unfocused. Nobody knows quite what to do. It could all fall apart, in a moment, with the cops attacking the crowd, or it could remain a standoff for a long time. I am softly drumming, not quite sure what to do, when a young, African American woman with long curls and a ring in her lip comes up and says, “Do you know how to sing, ‘Aint’ Gonna Study War No More?”

    I shift the beat, we begin singing, and soon gather a small chorus that forms around us. A tiny, round, young black woman in spectacles steps in front. She has a large voice, and she takes over as lead singer. The chorus grows and a space opens up in the center of the intersection, that is soon filled with riders on bikes, circling around and around, counterclockwise. A young man turns a cartwheel. A clown on stilts appears, out of nowhere, and joins the ride. Suddenly, it’s a circus in the street. The mood shifts and becomes almost festive.

    My own mood has shifted, too. I’ve been practicing a more Buddhist-style meditation lately, just watching my breath in odd moments and being present to what’s happening. I’m doing that now, breathing and drumming with the bikes and the song and the riot cops, and for no rational reason whatsoever I feel a surge of pure joy.

    Two of the cyclists are punk kids covered with patches and graphics that I’ve seen at spokescouncil. One of them is named Maggot, and I’ve seen him sitting with his head down, mumbling his comments which always make sense. Now he’s on a bike, his head up, smiling.

    The young woman in front of me turns and taps my elbow. “Let’s sing, ‘We Shall Overcome’”, she says.

    I drum and the others join hands and sing.
    “We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
    We shall over come, someday…”
    There’s some piece of magic at work here. The circling bikes remind me of our dragon-clad cyclists from the ritual that began this week. Now, after all the pain and the ugliness, the tension and the snatch squads and the media lies, after all the arguments and conversations about violence and nonviolence and tactics and accountability, after the splits between Obama and Hillary and the fruitless arguments about which is more crucial, gender or race, it seems deeply and oddly wonderful to be asked by two young black women to sing the old Civil Rights songs of the sixties here in the face of the riot cops. As if something is truly welling up from the earth, some spirit that knows and values rage but persists in remembering the power in acting out of love.

    It’s a spell. For just one moment, in one place, we sing in spite of our fear, and the violence abates.

    “Deep in my heart, I do believe, we shall overcome some day.”

    It’s been a hard week. We’ve seen the full machinery of the violence of the state called out to quell any semblance of dissent. I’ve seen friends arrested, beaten, shoved, nearly trampled by horses, tasered, pepper sprayed, beaten and literally tortured in jail. We’ve seen organizers targeted for ‘terrorism’ and media lies paint a totally warped picture of what has happened here. They’ve tried to make us feel powerless and afraid, and at times, they’ve succeeded.

    But we’re here, at the end, still singing.
    Below are all of the DemiOrator posts containing Starhawk's reports from the 2008 Republican National Convention:
    Starhawk's RNC post 1: On the Bad Side of Town
    Starhawk's RNC post 2: Raid on the Convergence Center
    Starhawk's RNC post 3: New Moon Ritual
    Starhawk's RNC post 4: Police Seize Permibus
    Starhawk's RNC post 5: A Spiral Dance in the Streets
    Starhawk's RNC post 6: Emergency Calls Requested
    Starhawk's RNC post 7: Dancing with Delegates
    Starhawk's RNC post 8: Peace Island and Poor Peoples’ March
    Starhawk's RNC post 9: Updates on Thurs, 4 Sept 2008
    General Info about Starhawk's RNC Posts

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    McCain: His Military Voting Record

    A recent In These Times article caught my attention: "John McCain: Dereliction of Duty" by Cliff Schecter. It's reproduced a few places but notably at the Veterans Today website.

    In an election season, I have great doubts about reportage but something I find easy to grasp is McCain's voting record in the Senate. A voting record provides practical guidance about what programs McCain actually puts his vote behind or ignores. For me, it provides a counterpoint to his rhetoric and a check on his version of the truth. All national level politicians are prone to exaggerating and minimizing, promises and deliberate silences on particular subjects. It's part of the breed standard.

    Here are some excerpts from the article but there's more meat to it:

    Because McCain is running for president almost solely on his biography as a war hero, he can't - and won't - allow the slightest doubt to linger about his dedication to soldiers both past and present. It didn't matter that the vet simply wanted to know how McCain - himself a former soldier and prisoner of war - could oppose important healthcare legislation for veterans. In fact, he didn't even ask McCain about the GI Bill that he opposed, which had been supported by a bipartisan group of 75 senators, including Republican veterans Chuck Hagel (Neb.) and John Warner (Va.).

    Most notably, McCain also testily responded to his inquisitor that he had "received every award from every vets organization."

    The problem is, not only is that assertion not true, but McCain's record on veterans' issues paints a picture of a man who has been willfully negligent when it comes to providing for his former brothers and sisters in arms....

    In 2005, Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), now chair of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced legislation that would have increased veterans' medical care by $2.8 billion in 2006. He also introduced another bill that would have set aside $10 million for "readjustment counseling services" - a program to provide a wide range of counseling, outreach and referral services for those returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, to ease their readjustment back into society. (This program was started in 1979 for Vietnam veterans, so one would think McCain is quite familiar with it.)

    But McCain - and other Republicans who are more concerned with using government funds for tax cuts for multimillionaires or for corporate subsidies to oil and gas companies - voted this effort down....

    The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the country's largest Iraq veterans' group, looked at 155 Senate votes since Sept. 11, 2001, on legislation that "affected troops, veterans or military families." It then awarded each senator a grade by comparing his or her votes to IAVA's view of what constitutes effective support for active troops, veterans and their families.

    No senator received an "A" grade. Thirteen senators - all Democrats - received an "A-." The worst grade received by a Senate Democrat was higher than the best grade granted to a Republican. Obama, for his part, got a B+.

    McCain received a "D."

    In fact, IAVA founder and Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff says that "there has been no bigger obstacle to passage of the GI Bill than Senator McCain. Even though he'd now like to claim credit for it, he didn't even show up. He thought it was more important to be in California for a fundraiser."

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    Friday, September 05, 2008


    Background on Sarah Palin

    While I'm sure there are plenty of critiques of Mrs. Palin, the Republican Vice-President candidate, I haven't read many of them. I was, however, drawn to About Sarah Palin: an e-mail from Wasilla because of its informed firsthand content and tone.

    Assuming it is authentic (in an election season I take nothing for granted,) it provides a picture of her that focuses on her local accomplishments and the tenor of her administration skills. I prefer this kind of evaluation to more polished punditry.

    What interests me as well is whether people will ignore her qualification shortcomings to support her because of particular identity issues: Anti-choice, Christian, woman, authoritarian, "soccer mom," etc.

    Not the least of her apparent qualifications is her conventional attractiveness. When my mother, a dyed in the wool Republican her whole life, described McCain's pick she didn't once mention Palin's qualifications. Instead my mother described Palin: her hair, her clothes, her energy. I asked about Palin's skills and my mother brushed that aside as if it were insignificant and unimportant. I admit I was a little shocked. It seemed like a "cult of personality" attitude, except my mother didn't even know Palin's public persona well on that first day.

    I'm actually looking forward to how the Republicans are going to present her and, more importantly, whether people will accept the image uncritically.

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    Thursday, September 04, 2008


    Starhawk's RNC post 9: Updates on Thurs, 4 Sept 2008

    Hey friends, here’s some quick updates on the various legal issues, including our bus, our friends in jail, and more.

    Thanks for all your calls and emails—they have been tremendously effective, as you’ll see below!

    My full accounts of the actions can be found at

    UPDATE: First, the good news: Elliot Hughes, who was badly beaten, tasered and maced in jail, is out now, with all charges dropped. He’s with our Pagan Cluster, getting lots of healing, good food and a bath, and this morning will go to a hospital for a CT scan as he has head injuries. His spirit is amazingly strong, and it’s really good to have him back and see him smiling and laughing.

    Riyanna is also out of jail, with all charges dropped, and back with us. She’s unharmed and doing well.

    Jason Scarecrow is still in jail, still as far as we know has not received medical treatment for his wounds, including a gash in his foot and remaining bits of copper from the taser in his hip, but sounds in good spirits and we hope to see him get out today. He was tasered seven times by the police in the street when he was not resisting their unprovoked arrest, and beaten up badly for no evident reason.

    Over a hundred activists were released uncharged throughout the night. Police were driving them far away from the jail and their waiting supporters and dropping them off in lonely places with no phone access.


    The City Attorney’s office in Minneapolis has now said that seizing the bus was “a regrettable misunderstanding”. The bus will be released today, and while the Wilsons will still have to have it towed from the lot because of some clauses in the city’s insurance policies, they are free to drive it, do workshops and trainings from it, and stay in the state of Minnesota as long as they like. One of the National Lawyers’ Guild lawyers is a former truck driver and has offered to help them fix the mechanical issues with the bus that were found in the inspections. So the PermiBus may soon be on the road again. Thanks so much for all the support, and thanks to all of you who have donated money. Any funds left after they pay for towing, impound, and repairs will go to help pay for gas and food for the crew as they carry on their journey of teaching and training the skills we need for survival and change. Oh yeah—and for starting a lawsuit that will help deter the authorities from doing this sort of thing again.

    See their blogs and journals at

    Information on Earth Activist Trainings can be found at


    Eight members of the RNC Welcoming Committee have been charged with criminal conspiracy to riot in furtherance of terrorism, under the Minnesota version of the Patriot Act. The Welcoming Committee organized the food, logistics, housing, and meeting spaces for protestors coming to the Twin Cities. No actual acts of violence were committed or alleged to be committed by any of them. No weapons or physical evidence of any conspiracy were found. The entire case against them is built on the testimony of three paid informants who infiltrated meetings. Such testimony has been proven, over and over again, to be notoriously unreliable—as the informants have a vested interest in fabricating plots and plans that can justify their pay and a disproportionate police response, which we have seen.

    This is exactly what we’ve always feared the various anti-terrorist laws would be used for: not to stop another September 11, but to target dissent.

    I’ll have more information later on this—a press conference is scheduled for this morning. But let’s just be clear—when people can be charged with ‘conspiracy’ for things they have not actually done, we are all at risk. Almost all the protestors arrested in this last week were charged with ‘conspiracy’: ‘conspiracy to riot’, Riyanna was charged with ‘conspiracy to use poisonous substances’ (???) although no evidence of any poisonous substances were found anywhere on or around her. (Those charges were dropped.) When we can be arrested, tasered, beaten, have our property seized and illegally searched on no evidence that we’ve actually done something but only on suspicion that we might have thought about or spoken about the possibility of doing something or be somehow associated with a group that someone else thinks might be thinking of doing something—whoa, no one is safe.

    Thanks again, everyone, for standing so strongly with us through all of this! Starhawk
    Below are all of the DemiOrator posts containing Starhawk's reports from the 2008 Republican National Convention:
    Starhawk's RNC post 1: On the Bad Side of Town
    Starhawk's RNC post 2: Raid on the Convergence Center
    Starhawk's RNC post 3: New Moon Ritual
    Starhawk's RNC post 4: Police Seize Permibus
    Starhawk's RNC post 5: A Spiral Dance in the Streets
    Starhawk's RNC post 6: Emergency Calls Requested
    Starhawk's RNC post 7: Dancing with Delegates
    Starhawk's RNC post 8: Peace Island and Poor Peoples’ March
    Starhawk's RNC post 9: Updates on Thurs, 4 Sept 2008
    General Info about Starhawk's RNC Posts

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    Wednesday, September 03, 2008


    About Starhawk's RNC Posts

    In case it's not obvious, I'm reproducing these reports pretty much as I get them by email. I've stripped the listserve and her bio info after the first couple in this series but you can find it below in this post. I've done some very light corrections (spelling) and spiffed up the formatting (bolding the titles, adding hyperlinks where needed for convenience, etc.). My apologies to Starhawk for changing her words but I can tell these pieces are often a little rushed. I can't really count correcting obvious spelling errors as "editing" but the writer in me quails a little at altering another writer's work without express permission. I figure the important thing is getting this info onto the web.

    I've also numbered them differently because I'm counting the emergency posts as well. (She's on 6, I'm up to 8)

    I'm willing to be taken to task by her for my liberties when she has the time. (Hahahaha! Sure, like that will happen soon!)

    Listserv sub info and bio
    This post has been sent to you from This is an announce-only listserve that allows Starhawk to post her writings occasionally to those who wish to receive them. To subscribe to this list, send an email to

    Starhawk is a lifelong activist in peace and global justice movements, a leader in the feminist and earth-based spirituality movements, author or coauthor of ten books, including The Spiral Dance, The Fifth Sacred Thing, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising, and her latest, The Earth Path. Starhawk's website is, and more of her writings and information on her schedule and activities can be found there.
    Below are all of the DemiOrator posts containing Starhawk's reports from the 2008 Republican National Convention:
    Starhawk's RNC post 1: On the Bad Side of Town
    Starhawk's RNC post 2: Raid on the Convergence Center
    Starhawk's RNC post 3: New Moon Ritual
    Starhawk's RNC post 4: Police Seize Permibus
    Starhawk's RNC post 5: A Spiral Dance in the Streets
    Starhawk's RNC post 6: Emergency Calls Requested
    Starhawk's RNC post 7: Dancing with Delegates
    Starhawk's RNC post 8: Peace Island and Poor Peoples’ March
    Starhawk's RNC post 9: Updates on Thurs, 4 Sept 2008
    General Info about Starhawk's RNC Posts

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    Starhawk's RNC post 8: Peace Island and Poor Peoples’ March

    UPDATE: Hi folks—not so much action today, but lots of really bad stuff is happening in the jail.

    We’re asking people to continue to call three people:

    Mayor Chris Coleman 651-266-8510
    Sheriff Bob Fletcher 651-266-9333
    Ramsey County Chief Judge Gearin 651-266-8266
    Head of the Ramsey County Jail: Ryan O’Neill 651-266-9350

    On the good side, some progress is being made toward getting the bus back. Update on all that later. Thanks for all the calls and support, Starhawk

    More updates on my website, . If you want off my personal listserve, directions on how to unsubscribe yourself are on the bottom of every post. Don’t bother me right now and ask me to do it for you. If you want on, email and put ‘subscribe’ in the subject line. Thanks.

    Peace Island and Poor Peoples’ March

    Tuesday, September 2:

    I begin the day at a very different kind of action, the conference called Peace Island, for which my old friend Susu is a major organizer. The conference aims to bring together the peace and environmental communities to look at solutions to our problems. I’m speaking on the panel about transforming our food system. The main speaker, Jim Harkness of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, does a great job of tying the current food crisis to two overarching systems—the industrial agriculture that destroys soil and local subsistence farming, and global trade policies and institutions that have forced developing countries to sell their food reserves and produce for export, not for home consumption. China, with its history of famine, resisted these pressures, subsidizes its own grain production and maintains deep reserves, and it has not seen huge rises in the price of grain.

    I speak about soil as sacred, and as a potential sink for carbon. When we compost, when we manage grasslands holistically and graze them skillfully, when we plant and nurture forests, we can actually sequester carbon and create healthy, resilient systems that can provide the basis for real prosperity. It felt good to step out of the chaos of the streets for a bit, and think about the world that can be, and all the other forms of activism and organizing that can bring it about. I also talked about the Transition Town movement in Britain and similar movements in the U.S. where people are getting together to organize their communities, making energy descent plans, strategizing on how to use the resources we have today to prepare for a zero-carbon future. While these accounts focus on the actions in the streets (because, frankly, it just makes much more exciting reading!) I’m actually spending most of my time these days in efforts to build the world we want and to teach the skills of sustainability, and that’s the focus of my longer-term writing.

    In the afternoon, I listened to my old friend Terry Gips from the Alliance for Sustainability speak about the Natural Step Program, and the ways he is working with businesses and cities to plan for sustainability. He was very encouraging about the efforts being made by even huge corporations to shift, and the speed of change which has been rapid in the last year.

    I’m glad to hear his talk, because I have come to believe that we need rapid, large-scale change as well as grassroots empowerment. It’s something I learned from the last hurricane to hit the Gulf, when I went to New Orleans to volunteer after Katrina. I went partly to see if our directly democratic organizing style had anything to offer in a crisis. I found that it did—indeed, in the first weeks after the hurricane, all the official systems were dysfunctional, the National Guard and military either absent or oppressive, FEMA disastrously incompetent, the Red Cross bound up in red tape. But the activist group Common Ground Relief, drawing on the skills of many of these people I see in the streets around me, and many of the same medics who staff our clinic here, was up and functioning within days, seeing patients, offering medical care and counseling and doing it all in a warm and welcoming way. Common Ground Relief organized distribution of supplies, volunteers to gut houses and clean out toxic mold, a bioremediation project to help heal soil, and many other programs. I found that our activist organizing style had a lot to offer in emergencies.

    But I could also see its lacks. We were a tiny effort, compared to what needed to be done. We could have used a thousand Common Ground Reliefs, or some big agency that could go into every parish, every county, assess the damage, bring in help and medical care and resources. And I found myself thinking, hmmn, we’re supposed to have such an agency—it’s called FEMA. We’re supposed to have such an institution, it’s called government, which we the people are supposed to control. And for a problem on this scale, we need an answer on a large scale. So I do believe we need government—that works, that’s accountable to the people, and that helps us to collectively provide for each others’ needs and mitigate the losses and wounds of life.

    Tuesday afternoon: I leave the conference to go meet our cluster, to walk together in the March for Our Lives organized by the Poor People’s Movement. The March had been permitted originally, has had its permit withdrawn, reissued and changed so many times I’d lost track of whether it was going to be legal or illegal. We gather in a small park, and the organizers ask everyone there to commit to honoring their nonviolent principles. Everyone raises their hand and promises to act nonviolently.

    Just after that, there’s a disturbance in one corner of the park. We run over, and someone runs toward us and tells us that Jason and Riyanna, two of our cluster, have been arrested. They were scouting, roaming the edges of the crowd, when an undercover cop grabbed Jason and threw him on the ground. Later we get the full story: he was tasered seven times with several different devices. Barbs from one of the tasers were left in his hip until he reached the jail, much later, and today, a day later, he’s still removing pieces of copper. He has a deep gash on his leg which has only now, after twenty-four hours, stopped bleeding. He was beaten up—we have a cell phone recording of it, and his face is bruised, he has a black eye and his mouth is hurt. Video of his arrest is at:

    I’m going to just jump to the jail stuff and just say that the march was lively, completely nonviolent, but for us, tense. Undercover cops were everywhere, and I was especially concerned for Lisa who we know is on their lists. Several of us stuck close to her throughout the march. At the end, near dark, we left while many people went into the caged area near the convention that was designated the Free Speech Zone. Shortly after we left, the police fired flash bombs, pepper spray and tear gas into the crowd which included women and children.

    He was badly beaten when the cops knocked him off his bicycle. They stepped on his chest, and he was coughing blood all night but received no medical treatment. The guards were calling him ‘Princess’ and making homophobic remarks. We heard from Jason that last night, Elliot was making noises to protest not receiving any food for more than twelve hours. Twelve officers entered his cell. Screams were heard for over five minutes. He was tasered three times, maced, and beaten, then removed and the men were told he was being taken to a restraint chair. We have heard, now, that he is being released and are trying to confirm this. Riyanna is still in jail—when last we heard, she was okay and with the other women. Many others have been arrested and are being badly treated and denied medical care—so please include them all in your prayers and energy.

    Good news now—Elliot has been released, and is being taken to the wellness center. We’re off to a march against police brutality—I will write more later, Starhawk
    Below are all of the DemiOrator posts containing Starhawk's reports from the 2008 Republican National Convention:
    Starhawk's RNC post 1: On the Bad Side of Town
    Starhawk's RNC post 2: Raid on the Convergence Center
    Starhawk's RNC post 3: New Moon Ritual
    Starhawk's RNC post 4: Police Seize Permibus
    Starhawk's RNC post 5: A Spiral Dance in the Streets
    Starhawk's RNC post 6: Emergency Calls Requested
    Starhawk's RNC post 7: Dancing with Delegates
    Starhawk's RNC post 8: Peace Island and Poor Peoples’ March
    Starhawk's RNC post 9: Updates on Thurs, 4 Sept 2008
    General Info about Starhawk's RNC Posts

    Labels: , , , , ,


    Starhawk's RNC post 7: Dancing with Delegates

    Emergency Note: Yesterday, Tuesday, two of our cluster were arrested before the start of the March for Our Lives organized by the Poor People’s Movement. Riyanna and Jason were standing at the edge of the park where the rally was happening when they were attacked by police. Witnesses reported to us that Jason was tasered while he was lying on the ground, not resisting, and was refused medical aid. Somehow, later, he managed to get a call through to us on his cell phone, to report that the two taser barbs were still in his hip and the police were refusing to take them out. His phone remained on while we could hear what sounds like the cops beating him up. In a later call, he reported that he has a black eye and multiple abrasions on his head and torso, but is basically okay, and that the taser barbs have been removed. We also heard from Riyanna who is also okay. I just talked to her, and she sounds fine and strong and worried about other prisoners who are being denied needed medication. Arraignments and release are now going very slowly, and she could be held as long as 36 hours, or more. . A good person to call today would be the St. Paul mayor, Chris Coleman, 651-266-8510 demand that he end the targeting of protestors, the abuse of prisoners, and the confiscation of property.

    Our PermiBus has been officially ‘released’, but its owners are being told there are 23 violations against it and they are not being allowed to drive it away. They have not received copies of any of the violations except for one: ‘no proof of insurance’. In reality, Stan Wilson has proof of insurance on the bus but was never allowed to produce it. The authorities claim that all searches and seizures over the last week have been done legally, with warrants and judicial review. But the bus was seized illegally with no charges and searched illegally, without a warrant and without the presence of the owners. This is a violation of the Bill of Rights. For the PermiBus, call the Mayor Rybek of Minneapolis,

    (612) 673-2100 (His office)

    Complaints to Mayor Rybek can be directed by email to

    Thanks to all who have made calls—they’ve been very effective If you can’t get through—that’s probably because so many of us are calling!

    This account will also be up on my website, as are my stories from the first few days:

    And don’t worry—after this week I won’t be posting so often!

    Dancing with Delegates
    by Starhawk

    Monday, September 1:

    We find ourselves on a wide street that leads into the enclosure where delegates are being allowed into the convention. I look over the river, which winds below us, and when I look up, Lisa and Juniper are in the street, holding back a bus with their hands. The bus driver is inside, looking down at them, and the rest of us run out and join them, until a line of police comes over and, in a fairly gentle manner, pushes us away.

    We regroup on the sidewalk, and realize that we have found one of the key sites where delegates are being admitted. Another bus pulls out, and we run out in front of it, forming a spiral which the police again push back.

    Across the street, we see a group of delegates walking in on foot. We rush over, and form a line, interfering with their progress and attempting to talk to them. They are attempting to push through us, and one gent in a business suit begins pushing, shoving and shouting at us until the police jump in, push us back and let them through.

    …Now there are several hundred of us, Funk the War has joined us with their sound system. We swarm into the street and become a dance party that blocks buses from coming in. We dance our way back up to the enclosure by the convention center.

    Groups of delegates are coming through but they’ve got to make their way through hordes of expressive youth and a barrier of rumbling bass. I see one flying wedge of riot cops push a group of delegates through the crowd, These are new cops, much harder edged and more angry than the first ones we encountered.

    The swarm still fills the street, and the busses can’t get through. A line of riot cops forms up and begins pushing us back with batons, chanting “Move! Back! Move! Back!”

    I’ve gone into the state I think of as the Zone of Deadly Calm—alert, aware, grounded just like I train everyone to do, but strangely emotionless. A lot of truly frightening things are happening all around me, but I’m not feeling fear. That can be a good thing or a bad thing—fear, like pain, is useful information. I’ve done stupid things, in this state, as well as brave ones. But I’ve been through a lot of these actions, and I’ve been in Palestine, supporting nonviolent resistance to the occupation, where we were standing in front of tanks and reasoning with soldiers who shoot real bullets, and the tension never eases up. I understand more now about what exposure to violence does to a person. Yeats has a poem, “The Easter Rising”, I found myself reading over and over after my first tour in the West Bank. It has a line in it that stuck in my head like a mantra:
    Too long a sacrifice can make a stone of the heart.
    Down the way, at the point where the bridge comes into the street, I see a line of cops on horseback forming up. They move into the swarm and begin pushing us onto the sidewalk with the horses.

    We fall back, staying as close to the horses as we can, talking to the cops on their backs. “Don’t do this to your horse,” Andy is saying over and over again.

    More delegates arrive, and the horses block us. Then a way opens up and we take the street again, pushing forward to the entrance, a small gate in the barricades. The horses are trotting after us and shoulder us aside, then they fall back to regroup and we move forward. Our cluster brings out balls of yarn and we begin tossing them back and forth, weaving a web. Lisa keeps tying it onto the fence, blocking the entrance, and a cop with a knife keeps cutting it.

    The web is a soft deterrent to the horses—but it also could easily entangle us. At a certain point, we let it drop. The horse cops have called for reinforcements, and there are more of them now. Suddenly they charge into us, pushing us back into the curb in a panicky crush. Elizabeth yells out—her foot has been caught under a hoof. I am squeezed between the horses and the crowd, and I stumble. But strong hands lift me onto the curb, up to safety. I turn and see David Solnit, an old friend from back home in San Francisco. My rescuer! I thank him and he just grins.

    Elizabeth, it turns out, is not hurt, just grazed. But we all regroup on the sidewalk, where all along a vendor has been selling hot dogs. Seeds of Peace arrives with sandwiches and carrots, and we grab a bite of lunch.

    A young woman in a motorized wheelchair rolls up near our group. She’s speaking to me, but her voice is so soft I have to lean over to hear her. Her head is large and her limbs are shrunken and twisted, and I can’t help but wonder what will happen to her if the police bring out chemical weapons. I put my head next to hers, and she says, “I’m sorry that this is the image you’re getting of our town. It’s really a very nice place to live.”

    She seems very brave, alone in her wheelchair, so vulnerable, but with undaunted curiosity. I thank her for coming out, and she rolls away.

    A young man sitting on the wall looks up at me. “Pagan cluster, you rock!” he says. “You guys were holding back horses with your bare hands!”

    I smile at him. That’s the true reason I’m still willing to put myself out here on the streets, at an age when I probably should know better. Nonviolence isn’t something that can just be preached. It must be practiced. Show, don’t tell. It’s hard to persuade people of its power—because it goes against all of our deepest instincts and the assumptions we’ve internalized from our violent culture: that power comes from the weapon, from physical strength and the willingness to use it to hurt and destroy, that force works. No sane person wants to stand against horses and clubs and more lethal weapons with only our soft bodies and hands. Yet when we do, a different sort of power arises.

    Elsewhere in the city windows have been broken. I don’t have patience for long, philosophical discussions about what constitutes violence or nonviolence, or whether inanimate objects have feelings. I don’t agree with those tactics, because, for me, what gets shattered are webs of relationships—the trust and support given to us by the ordinary people of this city where I have friends and relatives and long-standing ties. It’s those relationships we need to truly transform this country. Small groups of isolated activists, however passionate and ideologically pure, aren’t going to do it alone. We need to honor the courage and win the trust of all those people who are never going to see broken windows as anything but vandalism, but who struggle every day against huge forces just to hold their lives together as the system crumbles around us all. And to do that, I believe we have to embody the kind of power we want as a base for our lives: the power of compassion, creativity and love.

    Lunch is over. The temper of the cops is worsening with the day, and as more and more demonstrators appear in the streets, they get rougher. A bus moves down the street, and we surge forward to block it. The police form a line and begin driving us back, pretty roughly. We’re forming up our cluster on the sidewalk when the police jump on a protestor and pull him down. A young man is standing nearby, writing down the legal information, and suddenly the cops lunge for him. He’s alert, and runs beyond their reach. They grab Aaron, who is standing holding our flag. They rip the flag out of his hands, throw him down on the ground, and kneel on him. I run forward trying to get to him, but I’m blocked by a cop and his motorcycle and I can only watch as they kneel on his back and jerk his hands up to be cuffed. One of his hands is bleeding.

    They’ve got him surrounded, and we can’t get to him. We can only call out, “Aaron, Aaron we love you! We’ve got your back!”

    Then the police push us out, further down the road. Their mood is getting uglier. They’re spraying pepper spray, from big canisters, shooting it out before them into the crowd. The mood of the crowd is starting to get angrier, too. Behind us now are not horses but lines of riot cops in gas masks—a bad sign.

    We’re moving away when we catch the acrid scent of tear gas on the wind behind us. I have asthma, and though its very mild I feel an obligation to myself to at least try to stay out of tear gas, when I can. So we move faster.

    We’re rounding a corner of a building when a cop goes berserk. He lunges at soft-spoken Deborah, whacks her on the arm with his nightstick and knocks her to the ground. Elizabeth runs back and grabs her away as Andy and I move toward the cops and slow them down, talking to them calmly. “We’re leaving,” I say. “We’re doing what you’re telling us to do.”

    Deborah is bruised, but okay. We’re moving back up the streets, away from the convention center. We sit down on a lawn to regroup and rest for a moment.

    A young man in black, with a Nikon camera, comes running into our group, with two cops on bikes behind us. He rushes through us—they drive into us but can’t get through. He looks around like a cornered rabbit, sees us caught in the melee and turns back, his hands up.

    “I’m giving myself up!” he calls to them. He could have gotten away, but I believe that he makes his choice because he feared the cops pursuing him were hurting us. He’s shaking, trying not to cry. “I was only taking pictures. I’m only seventeen. I live here!”

    The cops frisk him and search him while we get his name and his mothers’ phone number. We try to get his camera, to keep it safe, but the police won’t release it. “We’ve got your back! We love you. Stay strong!” we call to him. The police lead him away, and Lisa phones his mother.

    It’s been a long, tense day and hard to assess its success. But I believe I’ve met my goal—to hold the Republicans accountable in the streets, since the Democrats and the media and the institutions of conventional politics have failed to do it elsewhere. And tomorrow is another day.
    Below are all of the DemiOrator posts containing Starhawk's reports from the 2008 Republican National Convention:
    Starhawk's RNC post 1: On the Bad Side of Town
    Starhawk's RNC post 2: Raid on the Convergence Center
    Starhawk's RNC post 3: New Moon Ritual
    Starhawk's RNC post 4: Police Seize Permibus
    Starhawk's RNC post 5: A Spiral Dance in the Streets
    Starhawk's RNC post 6: Emergency Calls Requested
    Starhawk's RNC post 7: Dancing with Delegates
    Starhawk's RNC post 8: Peace Island and Poor Peoples’ March
    Starhawk's RNC post 9: Updates on Thurs, 4 Sept 2008
    General Info about Starhawk's RNC Posts

    Labels: , , , ,

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