Online Edition: January 2007     Vol. XIX, No. 5

sponsored by Peace Life Center, Public invited

  • MODESTO PEACE LIFE CENTER VIGILS: Vigils are held once a month; Friday evenings; call the Center for info: 529-5750.

  • PEACE LIFE CENTER WILL BE OPEN TUESDAYS, Noon to 3 pm. Come by for coffee or tea and just to chat or look at our book and magazine collection. Bring your own bag lunch; there may be films some days. 720 13th St. Call us 529-5750, we'll get back to you with info on vigils and other activities.

  • Click here for other Peace Actions around the Valley and Mother Lode

Emergency Vigil Modesto to say NO! to Bush’s Iraq War Escalation

Join others protesting across the nation at the same time

THURSDAY, JANUARY 11, 2007 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Across from the Brenden Theatre Tenth Street Place, downtown Modesto

Bring signs. We will have some signs and candles.

Organized by the Modesto Peace Life Center

Downloadable signs at

Connections needs help!

Stanislaus Connections, the peace and justice newspaper of the Modesto Peace Life Center, needs volunteers able to help edit, write, or help put up the paper each month. We meet two times per month. If you are interested in helping with our progressive paper, contact us.

Email Jim Costello, or call 537-7818. Or call Myrtle Osner, 522-4967,


San Joaquin Connections--Our Sister Publication to the North--November Issue (pdf)

Peace & Justice

Around the Center: 



Living Lightly

Rivers of Birds, Forests of Tules: Central Valley Nature & Culture in Season:  30. Lucky Buckeyes

Recipes from Connections

A Gathering of Voices--Tom Portwood

Out and About


Masthead and Back Issues

Opinion and Letters to Connections

Folk audience awaits McCutcheon concert


An audience energized by folk singer John McCutcheon’s previous performances in Modesto enthusiastically awaits his sixth annual concert to benefit the Modesto Peace/Life Center. The Modesto Church of the Brethren hosts the 2007 event at 7 p.m. January 24.

Yvonne Brouard attended the previous two Modesto appearances and appreciates McCutcheon’s ability to appeal across generations. Brouard said she will “hopefully be going again this year with my children and possibly some cub scouts.” The singer’s skill at multiple instruments also fascinates Brouard. He “plays the dulcimer, and that’s just fantastic to see someone play the hammer dulcimer tremendously well as he does,” said Brouard. McCutcheon’s values also appeal to Brouard who called him a “great musician, also a great political activist.”

Another listener appreciates McCutcheon’s combination of solid artistry with the ordinary. Dave Hoberg finds him to be “such a fine musician but on top of that [his music’s] so down to earth.” Hoberg’s interest in McCutcheon’s music predates the Modesto performances and remains strong. Hoberg said he finds the artist’s performances to be “just a great human experience quite frankly.” “I’ve had the opportunity just to speak with John,” Hoberg said, “before and after his concerts ... he’s so easy to talk to ... there’s no pretense about him.” Then McCutcheon “comes back ... fifth year ... he remembers who you are .... That means a lot. That just says something about a person’s being as well as integrity,” said Hoberg.

Sandy Sample had also been drawn to McCutcheon’s work well before the annual Modesto concerts began. “I traipsed around northern California to several of his concert venues for five or six years,” Sample said of that period. For Sample, McCutcheon’s concerts are an opportunity to celebrate community with others who work for a less violent, more nurturing culture. “John’s music is so hope filled and committed to finding common ground and common vision, and the response of his audience is filled with such laughter.” Sample gets “a sense that I’m not alone in this.” She finds it fitting the event warms the chilliest and drabbest month. McCutcheon’s song based on a World War I interlude has won Sample’s favor. “Christmas in the Trenches is my favorite ‘cause it’s an amazing story, because it’s true and it makes me weep,” she said.

You can support the Modesto Peace Center while discovering for yourself the musician the Oakland Tribune called the Bruce Springsteen of folk music.

ACTION: Tickets are $17 advance or $20 at the door, $5 for ages 17 and under and are available at the Modesto Church of the Brethren, 2301 Woodland Ave., Modesto, (209) 523-1438, or at Anderson Custom Framing and Gallery 1323 J Street Modesto, (209) 579-9913.

John McCutcheon’s web site:

Sponsor the John McCutcheon Concert

This year, we have added something new to the John McCutcheon Benefit Concert — a chance to be a sponsor of the concert. For the suggested donation, you’ll receive concert tickets, your name in the program, and an invitation to a reception with John McCutcheon following the performance. Five levels of sponsorship are available:

  • Autoharp – $35                                  One ticket, name in program, reception

  • Guitar – $75                                        Two tickets, name in program, reception

  • Banjo – $150                                       Four tickets, name in program, reception

  • Piano – $200                                       Eight tickets, name in program, reception

  • Hammer Dulcimer – $500                 Fifteen tickets, name in program, reception

To become a sponsor, print and fill out the form below and mail it to the address below by January 16th, so we can have time to acknowledge your sponsorship in the program. If you have any questions, call 572-1307 or email


c   I would like an Autoharp Sponsorship ($35).

c   I would like a Guitar Sponsorship ($75).

c   I would like a Banjo Sponsorship ($150).

c   I would like a Piano Sponsorship ($200).

c   I would like a Hammer Dulcimer Sponsorship ($500).





Enclosed is a check for:_____________________

Make checks payable to: Modesto Peace/Life Center.

Mail to: Keith Werner, 1313 Floyd Ave #184, Modesto CA 95355.

Legendary football coach to speak at MLK Commemoration


Herman Boone, legendary football coach, will speak at the 13th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration on Saturday, January 13, 2007 at the Mary Stuart Rogers Student Learning Center, Modesto Junior College West Campus at 7:00 p.m. Doors open at 6:00 p.m. This program is FREE and open to the public. There will also be singing, a short video, and a spoken word presentation. Mr. Boone will take questions after the program.

In 1971 outstanding football coach Herman Boone faced the challenge of a lifetime. His inspirational story was captured in the Disney film Remember the Titans starring Academy Award-winner Denzel Washington.

Racial tensions ran high in 1971 in Alexandria, VA, as three schools were integrated to form T.C. Williams High School. From this union the Titan football team was created. Former rivalries between the schools coupled with strains between black and white players resulted in a team in turmoil.

Tensions escalated when Boone was named head coach, passing over Bill Yoast, the local favorite and successful head coach of the former white Hammond High. Yoast’s supporters were angered by Boone’s appointment.

Remarkably, the two coaches put aside their prejudices and unified their players to form a team whose common vision was to respect each other and win football games. At the same time, through the game of football, Boone and Yoast were able to help their small community put aside its intolerance and join together to support its children. The Titans became one of the best teams in Virginia. The team won the state championship, and become ranked second in the nation.

NOTE: The film, Remember the Titans will be shown free at the King-Kennedy Center, 601 S. Martin Luther King, Dr., on Thursday, January 11 at 6:00 p.m.

ACTION: Hear Herman Boone as he continues to motivate and inspire audiences with presentations on respect, teamwork, and community involvement. Come and remember Martin Luther King and his vision. Additional sponsors are needed and appreciated. For information, call (209) 575-7991.

Sponsors at press time: The Modesto Peace/Life Center; City of Modesto Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Dept; The King-Kennedy Memorial Center; Modesto Junior College; Yosemite Community College District; California State University, Stanislaus Service Learning; The Modesto Bee; Frailing, Rockwell, and Kelly; Kaiser-Permanente; Modesto Irrigation District; AARP; NAACP, Stanislaus Chapter; Associated Students of MJC; Jerry Cooper, State Farm Insurance, Modesto BMW Lexus, and Infinity; the Women’s Auxiliary; Emerson Johnson, McDonalds; Project Sentinel.

MLK observance features Eddie Moore in Sonora


The Mother Lode Martin Luther King, Jr. Committee will present the 12th annual MLK, Jr. birthday observance the day before Dr. King‘s birthday, Sunday, January 14, 2007, at 2 p.m. at the Sonora Opera Hall on Washington St. in Sonora.

The theme of this year‘s event is The Challenges of Diversity. Headlining the program is Eddie Moore, a nationally known diversity trainer from Seattle, Washington. Dennis Brown and the Pine Cone Singers will perform a selection of songs. Singer Emily Valentine will also perform as will Mi Wuk dancers. Essay and art contest winners, focusing on the event’s theme and the philosophy of Dr. King, will be announced during the event. Refreshments and a social hour will follow. The event is free and youth are especially encouraged to attend.

What has been known for 12 years as the The Martin Luther King, Jr. Annual Birthday Observance Committee has now incorporated and changed its name. The goal is to broaden its range of activities and to create funding sources for these events. Donations to the organization are now tax-deductible and the committee is eligible to apply for grants. The Sonora group has come together annually since 1995 to organize a free public event on Dr. King‘s birthday to commemorate his philosophy and ideals and to honor his legacy. The 10-member board is committed to this work.

By incorporating, the group will become more of a presence in the community, according to board chair Deanna Lamb. “We have been around for over 12 years and we hope to grow and expand our events beyond the once a year birthday of Dr. King. Last year we initiated the fall essay contest relating to Dr. King‘s ideas. His philosophy of justice for all ethnicities can only enrich our increasingly diverse community,” she said.

ACTION: For directions to the Jan. 14 event or to contact the committee, email:

Faith-Based Fraud: political manipulation of religion only compounded the crime of political neglect of the poor


David Kuo is the author of a new book called Tempting Faith: An Inside Story of Political Seduction. Kuo was a special assistant to the president and the number two official at the White House office on faith-based initiatives from 2001-03. He could be a big problem for the Bush administration, because he asserts that the famous White House faith-based initiative fell far short of its bold promises, was a cover-up for very bad domestic policies on poverty, and was cynically politicized to serve partisan Republican purposes.

It’s strong stuff. Kuo says he was “dazzled” by George W. Bush and his idea of “compassionate conservatism,” but that Bush never followed through with his promises. The actual funding fell far short of the $8 billion the president personally pledged for his faith-based initiative—about 1 percent of the pledge—while effective domestic programs for low-income families were slashed to pay for tax cuts mostly favoring the rich.

Bush talked a lot about his faith-based program but never fought for it, according to Kuo. He believes the president’s campaign speech on faith-based initiatives “was one of the most important political addresses given in the last generation,” but Kuo says the failure to deliver on those promises came before 9/11. In the end, Bush delivered only “a whisper” of the promise and let the “compassion agenda” languish.

Only a fraction of the money promised was ever appropriated and disbursed, and the program also tended to favor organizations friendly to the White House political agenda, claims Kuo. I have also been told of extremely pro-administration, pro-Republican, and anti-Democratic political rhetoric at meetings of the faith-based initiative grantees. Kuo further alleges that former White House political director Ken Mehlman used the office to mobilize religious voters in 20 targeted races — 19 of which were won by Republicans. Kuo says the outreach was directed both at conservative evangelicals and at traditional Democratic allies in racial/ethnic communities that are highly sensitive to religious messages and Republican wedge issues. Kuo charges that this was the exploitation of religion for political ends in which “good and well-meaning people are manipulated,” and that “God and politics were fused together.”

Is anybody surprised that a White House ruled by the likes of Karl Rove and Dick Cheney would engage in manipulation of religion? I recall the reflections of the first head of the faith-based office, John DiIulio, who left after six months. DiIulio later cited the disconnects between the White House’s faith-based office and the domestic policy advisers, whom he referred to as “Mayberry Machiavellians.”

Kuo describes the cynical character of the faith-based program, where White House officials would regularly “roll their eyes” privately about religious leaders and refer to them with disdain, even calling them “nuts,” while in public praising them as allies and reaching out to their constituencies for votes. Kuo writes, “National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy.’” On 60 Minutes in mid-October, Kuo said, “You name the important Christian leaders, and I have heard them mocked, by serious people in serious places.”

For full disclosure, I should say that I’ve known David Kuo for years. We met at a retreat and began a conversation that has lasted ever since. He was and is a conservative evangelical Christian, as he said on 60 Minutes, and he was quite unhappy with the many contradictions and hypocrisies of liberalism. I had to agree with much of his critique. But he also genuinely cared about the poor, and that was our point of connection. Kuo was one of those genuine “compassionate conservatives” that many liberals don’t believe really exist, but truly do. Yet he eventually came to realize that there weren’t many compassionate conservatives in the White House, which preferred to use the religious community for its own political purposes.

When asked if he believed the White House will now come after him, Kuo replied, “Of course they will, I can hear the attacks, ‘Oh, he’s really a liberal, or maybe that brain tumor really messed up his head.’” (Kuo survived a bout with brain cancer while serving in the White House). But, he said, “I have this burden on my heart that the name of God is being destroyed in the name of politics. … I felt like I had to write this.”

KUO AND I HAD lunch just before he left the White House, and he told me of his plans to resign. “I believe the president really has a heart for the poor,” he told me, “but I don’t think it matters.” It was a stunning statement, clearly suggesting that other priorities ruled at the White House. “So,” he told me, “I am going to leave before he breaks my heart.” Now Kuo is the Washington editor for Beliefnet and oversees the God’s Politics blog.

The White House Office of Faith- Based and Community Initiatives hired some of the best people around. Its first two directors, DiIulio and Jim Towey, are people I greatly respect and consider friends. DiIulio realized quickly what the White House priorities were and got out, while Towey, in my opinion, stayed too long.

In the beginning, I supported the initiative too, and I met with President Bush and other religious leaders on several occasions to discuss it. I believed, and still do, in a level playing field for faith-based organizations, which ought to be eligible for public funding if they obey federal law and guidelines and do not use social service funding for explicitly religious purposes. “Fund results, not religion,” as DiIulio used to say. But I said to President Bush early on that partnerships with faith-based organizations should never become a substitute for sound domestic policies aimed at serious poverty reduction. And that’s exactly what happened. Then political manipulation of religion only compounded the crime of political neglect of the poor.

Read Tempting Faith, written by a real compassionate conservative, and weep for the loss of what could have been. Then beware of those who would manipulate genuine faith for partisan political purposes.

Jim Wallis is editor-in-chief of Sojourners. A version of this column appeared on the God’s Politics blog (


Opportunity to learn Spanish in Mexico

Modesto Junior College is sponsoring a one-month summer program to study Spanish in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Participants will live with a Mexican family from June 15 to July 14, 2007, while they study at the Spanish Language Institute and immerse themselves in Mexican culture. This MJC program offers the opportunity to travel, study and earn transferable MJC units - all for approximately $2,300.

Cuernavaca is in the heart of Mexico, an hour south of Mexico City and enjoys a year-round “eternal spring” climate. The city offers beautiful garden restaurants, dance clubs, sports activities, central plazas teeming with people and vibrant music, and a wide range of lively cultural events.  

Native Mexican instructors offer personalized instruction in small classes, using a conversational approach that will help students learn to speak Spanish naturally in real-life situations. The Institute also arranges for optional guided excursions to many places of interest, including the pyramids at Teotihaucán, the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, the Ballet Folklórico, the Frida Kahlo Museum, Taxco, Puebla, Xochicalco, Cholula y Acapulco and the Archeological Zone.  

To learn or improve your Spanish, sign up for this unforgettable experience.

ACTION: For information contact Dan Onorato, (209) 526-5436,, or Laura Manzo, (209) 575-6462, Visit the Spanish Language Institute at:

A Day of Days


December 5th 2006 was truly, a day of days. Perhaps I was the only one who knew this.

I awoke in the morning as though I were a child waking up and rising with the excitement of what I was to find under the Christmas tree.

There was to be a Modesto City Council meeting at 5:30 that evening, and just like a child building up the cache of presents beneath the tree in the minds eye, I found myself pacing about my office like a hungry, restless panther, pent up in a cage. Who will be there tonight? Who will be there to hear me speak? Will I even get an opportunity to speak, what with so many people in attendance? I had better get there early. There will surely be nothing but standing room only. Yes. Best if I secure the table at the back with that reporter from the Modesto Bee. I wonder if Fox 40 will be there. Where will they setup? Maybe I should have some statements handy. The whole state will be hearing about this one. I am sure of it!

And for the rest of the day it was nothing but excitement, apprehension and nervousness. The office trashcan eventually overflowed with wadded up sheets of notebook paper consisting of dozens of statements, speeches, and outlines started and re-started over and over again.

I arrived at the Modesto City Council Chambers an hour early, with nothing prepared for anyone. I felt okay about that, since I was sure I would not have the opportunity to speak anyway. So many people would want to speak. And the times I do speak, it’s usually nothing more than local law enforcement issues.

I eagerly stood beside the locked doors of the Council Chambers. “O.K.”, I thought to myself, rising a bit on the tips of my toes, with a pursed lip, “I can stand here and greet everyone as they come in. Thank them for coming.”

It slowly became fifteen minutes before the meeting was to start and in the forty-five minutes preceding, I saw only city and county employees, leaving to go home for the day. “O.K.”, I thought. “The doors will open and I can rush in and grab my seat at the table.” And just then, they did unlock the doors – remotely.

I went ahead, as I had planned, taking my usual table at the back. And sure enough, Adam Ashton from the Modesto Bee followed suit.

And within the remaining moments leading up to the commencement of the meeting, only a couple of residents from the entire county appeared. Not one other activist, like myself.

The feeling I had awoke with that day, steadily morphed from sweet anticipation to sorrowful ferocity.

I was to be the only one speaking on the issue. After merely a salute to the flag, a prayer, and few rules of order, my time had come, as the only one to speak on behalf of what has become “My District”. And this is more or less what I had to say:

As I walk though the streets of the Airport District, I am often swept back through time to when I was sixteen years old, walking through the streets of Sioux Indian reservations in South Dakota, looking for non-tribal police, toting my bulky 35 mm camera.

There were no sidewalks or streetlights and just like the Airport District, many of the residents were forced to live in squalor.

I never did find any non-tribal police, but what I did find was something that changed the way I looked at the world, the way I looked at other communities. It changed the way I looked at other people.

These beautiful people, through all of their pain and suffering, were proud to be living on the reservation.

They weren’t proud because they had no sidewalks or basic services like those who lived outside of the reservation, they were proud of their community. Just like the beautiful people living in the Airport District.

Today is truly a day of days. Because today, we – the citizens of Modesto – we have an opportunity to reclaim that which we have somehow lost.

Today, we have an opportunity to show our family of the Airport District that not only are they on the same team, they are very important member of that team.

Author’s note: Visit and support your community with your own awareness.

Contact the author, president of LocalBlack, “A Civil Rights Organization” at (209) 496-2363; 


Tenth of each month. Submit peace, justice and environmentally friendly event notices to P.O. Box 134, Modesto, CA, 95353, or call 522-4967 or 575-4299, or email to Jim Costello. Free listings subject to space, availability and editing.