By Jason Miller
Thankfully, it appears that Bush’s reign will end in just three years, unless he succeeds in shredding the Constitution and becoming America’s first true dictator. Fortunately for the Oligarchy which rules America behind the veil of our severely weakened republic, they have a leader waiting in the wings with more cunning and ruthlessness than "W". Sam Brownback is yearning for his shot at the Oval Office. Living in Kansas, I know the futility of attempting to reason with Senator Sam Brownback. As his constituent, I have corresponded with him on a wide range of issues. His canned responses reflect his close alignment with the Religious Right and the Neocon plutocrats who have a stranglehold on power in America.
Yes, Brownback has set his sights on the White House. On 4/16/05 he officially kicked off his presidential bid by speaking to 150 members of the New Hampshire Cornerstone Research group. He regaled them with discourse on his beliefs concerning the definition of life, marriage, and the church and state relationship. Cornerstone represents Brownback's "base". To get a sense of the nature of his anti-gay, anti-choice base, consider the position of Karen Testerman, the executive director of Cornerstone Policy Research.
In 2003, Testerman told the Associated Press that “gays and lesbians” were comparable to “shoplifters and drug addicts”. In the same year, she told the Concord Monitor of her support for "abstinence only" education. She elaborated by stating that "holding hands is the first step", and "you're not even supposed to do that if you can avoid it."
Portrait of a radical
As one examines various facets of Sam Brownback, one formulates a profile of an individual who is dangerously radical. As I write this article, he is pandering to the Religious Right, his extremist base. Brownback is threatening to filibuster the Senate bill that would relax restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research. This legislation would enable the US to begin catching up with nations like South Korea. Yes, you read that correctly. America's cutting edge scientific community has fallen behind South Korea in a critical area of medical research.
According to the Kansas City Star, as he discussed the stem cell bill, Brownback alluded to the Democrats’ use of the filibuster on judicial nominations as he said, "I've learned how to delay and stop things." This bill he is so eager to “delay and stop” has already passed the House. It would give researchers access to more than 400,000 frozen embryos that fertility clinics will discard anyway. Federal funding for research on these embryos holds very strong promise for developing therapies and cures for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Rather than enhancing the human capacity to cure serious illness, Brownback would rather see the embryos thrown out like garbage. If Brownback is successful with his filibuster, while he gains political traction with the pro-life crowd, 400,000 embryos will be wasted and real human beings will continue to suffer needlessly.
Despite support of the bill from fellow Republicans Arlen Specter and Orrin Hatch, who has long been ardently pro-life, Brownback believes the research is "wrong" and used this twisted analogy in a quote to the Kansas City Star:
Why not use death row inmates in some sort of positive way? They are going to be killed. Why not take their body parts, their heart and lungs and eyes, and yet as I say that, doesn't that sound ghoulish? Human life is sacred."
In a further display of his distorted worldview, Brownback had this to say about American voters aged 18 to 25:
"They were born", he said, "when abortion rates were highest, so many of them feel they're the survivors of a holocaust: one in four of their compatriots are not here.''
The cognitive disconnect in that analogy is astounding. Yet at the same time, one can marvel at the propagandistic genius of mobilizing his minions amongst the “pro-life” faithful by equating the “crime of abortion” with the systematic murder of six million innocents.
Need more evidence of his fanaticism?
You remain skeptical that Brownback is closely aligned with the Religious Right, and is a dangerous extremist? Reflect on Brownback crediting Pat Robertson for his election to the Senate in 1996. Contemplate Robertson's recent endorsement of Brownback as a presidential candidate for 2008 on ABC's This Week. This means that one of Brownback’s most prominent supporters for his nascent presidential bid is a pivotal leader of the Religious Right movement. To affirm his radical mindset, Robertson once said:
“I am bound by the laws of the United States and all 50 states...(but) I am not bound by any case or any court to which I myself am not a party....I don’t think the Congress of the United States is subservient to the courts...They can ignore a Supreme Court ruling if they so choose...”
Still not convinced? Contemplate Brownback's membership in Opus Dei. While they are a Catholic organization, Opus Dei promotes many of the socially conservative values of the Protestant Religious Right. There is also speculation that this highly secretive cult has links to fascist corporations. Opus Dei has a history of supporting fascists. Members of this sect were involved with Franco’s government in Spain. Although Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, was canonized by the Catholic Church, he was a controversial figure. His biographers have characterized him as devious and manipulative. Escriva created Opus Dei on principles of secrecy, power, and an emphasis on finding holiness in one’s work. Opus Dei and Sam Brownback are not the elixirs America’s ruptured ailing needs to nurse it back to health.
Apparently Brownback has an affinity for surreptitious religious organizations. He maintains a residence in Washington DC in a house owned by C Street Center, a sister organization to a loose coalition of Christian government and business leaders known as the Fellowship. The Fellowship is so secretive that many of its members deny its existence. What is known about Brownback's affiliation with this group is that he pays a heavily subsidized rent of $600.00 per month to live in the Fellowship's house, and that he holds weekly religious meetings with the other five Congressmen who share his quarters. Despite its innocuous appearance, there are dark motives beneath the surface of the Fellowship, sometimes known as the Family. Founder Abraham Vereide's held many fascist viewpoints, and infected many of our nation's leaders with his ideologies as the Fellowship grew in popularity over the years.
Here is an excerpt from an Alternet article (http://www.alternet.org/story/16167) about the Family:
In 1935, Abraham Vereide starts it. By the 1940s he has about a third of Congress attending a weekly prayer meeting. In the mid-50s, he gets Eisenhower's support.
[According to a 2002 Los Angeles Times article, during the 1950's Vereide played a major role in the U.S. government's anti-communist activities: "Pentagon officials secretly met at the group's Washington Fellowship House in 1955 to plan a worldwide anti-communism propaganda campaign endorsed by the CIA, documents from the Fellowship archives and the Eisenhower Presidential Library show. Then known as International Christian Leadership, the group financed a film called 'Militant Liberty' that was used by the Pentagon abroad." Showing Faith in Discretion, Lisa Getter, The Los Angeles Times, Sep 27, 2002]
I highly recommend reading the complete article on Alternet, and Jeff Sharlet's Harper's Magazine article at http://www.harpers.org/JesusPlusNothing.html?pg=1. Senator Brownback has aligned himself with a very unsavory organization.
How can we restore something that was never lost?
Perhaps most telling is Senator Brownback's ardent support of the Constitutional Restoration Act of 2004 (which failed) and now its revival in 2005. Were this to become law, the effects on the tattered republic in America would be devastating. This bill represents a culmination of the plan Pat Robertson began outlining on the 700 Club in 1985. Robertson’s vision is for Christian conservatives to secure control of the government. One of his principle strategies to ascend to power is to curtail the powers of the judiciary. In light of the true agenda behind it, a more appropriate name for this legislation would be the Constitutional Reconstruction Act.
At (http://www.prayeralert.org/alertarchives/alert-040204.html) Urgent Prayer Alert high-lights some key components of this frightening piece of legislation:
This CRA (S. 2082 & H.R. 3799) could end 40+ years of religious judicial tyranny (see http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_bills&docid=f:s2082is.txt.pdf).
Empowered by Article 3, section 2 of the Constitution this Act will remove from federal court jurisdiction all matters pertaining to the acknowledgement of God, neutralizing the radical agenda to expunge God from American public life.
CRA’s teeth are a provision for the impeachment of judges who overstep their bounds.
CRA reminds the federal courts their jurisdiction is constitutionally limited as is Congress’ jurisdiction. Neither has authority to govern religious expression. The Founders were careful to leave such matters entirely to the states and to the people.
CRA affirms the right of government officials to "acknowledge God as the source of law, liberty and government." It prohibits federal judges from using foreign laws and judgments as the basis for rulings.
His record speaks for itself
Evaluations of Sam Brownback’s voting record in the Senate provide tangible evidence that he is unfit to succeed Bush as a president who would restore a semblance of social justice and civil liberties to America. NARAL, a pro-choice group, rated him at 0%, which of course translates to 100% pro-life voting. The ACLU gave him an abysmal 20% rating on concerning civil liberties. His 27% rating from the NEA indicates that he usually votes against public education. Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants gave Brownback a 25% rating, meaning he rarely votes for criminal rehabilitation. Brownback is ardently pro-military, as evidenced by his 0% rating by SANE. The AFL-CIO gave him an "F" (0%) for his lack of support for labor unions. ALPHA took exception to his consistent disregard for public health and gave him a 0%. The League of Conservation Voters expressed their disenchantment with Brownback's lack of support for the environment by giving him another "F".
Who gave Brownback their seal of approval? For his faithful devotion to business and “family values” (as defined by the Religious Right) both the US Chamber of Commerce and the Christian Coalition gave him 100% ratings. Brownback embodies the social conservative movement’s cruel Social Darwinism. In his priority system the success of corporations and abstract “family values” supersede the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of flesh and blood human beings.
Despite his professed deep concern for the plight of the genocide victims in Darfur, Sudan, Brownback has virtually ignored people experiencing similar fates in other nations. It is no coincidence that Brownback focuses his concern on the Sudanese genocide. In Darfur, Muslims are killing Christians. Non-Christians who suffer are apparently not worthy of the Senator’s attention. Like Bush, Brownback believes in the false construct of the "good Christians" versus the "evil Muslims". Obviously, his compassion is reserved for "true believers".
Where is Brownback’s holy devotion to acts of compassion when in comes to homosexuals in America? Gays are the one minority in America who receive no federal protection of their civil rights, and he aims to keep things that way. He has vigorously supported a federal ban on gay marriage and has voted against including sexual orientation to the federal definition of hate crimes. While voting against legislation that would help protect gays from battery or murder, Brownback expressed grave concerns (http://www.cogforlife.org/schiavobrownback.htm) about Terry Schiavo and others like her. Brownback’s concern for human life is both inconsistent and selective.
Wolf in sheep’s clothing
Low key and laid back, Sam Brownback likes to portray himself as a down to earth, small town “family values” man who can relate to the "average American". While he does hail from the tiny hamlet of Parker, Kansas, he can hardly relate to the plight of the average American. He is married to Mary Stauffer, an heiress to a fortune built on a Topeka-based media fortune. His membership in Opus Dei, a secretive, elitist organization with fewer than 90,000 members further distances him from relating to the "average American".
Mr. Brownback exhibited anti-Semitic tendencies and a propensity to use dirty politics in his 1996 campaign for the Senate. In What's the Matter with Kansas, Thomas Frank wrote:
"Consider the enlightened Sam Brownback. He may be against slavery--and what a bold stand that is 140 years after the Civil War!--but when faced with a tough challenge in 1996 from Democrat Jill Docking of Wichita, his campaign inundated the state with TV commercials that sought to tarnish her by pointing out that she was raised in the now-hated state of Massachusetts and that before she was married her name wasn't Docking at all (the Dockings are now a famous Kansas family) but Sadowsky. Get it? As though to drive this point home, voters across the state received mysterious phone calls in the week before the Election Day reminding them that 'Docking is a Jew.'"
After defeating his opponent by attacking her state of origin and religious affiliation, Brownback has proceeded to implement his perverse, extreme, and hypocritical agenda through the course of his tenure as US Senator. In 2004, to maintain his position in the Senate, he even accepted $17,000.00 from corporations and individuals profiting from the porn industry (per Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington). He took this money despite having called pornography "the crack cocaine of sexual addiction" and having called pornographers’ products “damaging to our culture, our families, and our nation."
Sam Brownback already wields too much power for a man with such radical views. Within the Senate he serves on the Committee on Appropriations, the Committee on the Judiciary, the Joint Economic Committee, and is chairman of both the Helsinki Commission and the Constitution subcommittee. As his constituent, I feel appalled that he represents me in Washington.
As the latest opinion polls show, Americans are slowly awakening to the damage rendered by the Bush administration. More Americans are realizing their perceived walk in the park is actually a slow and steady march toward tyranny and theocracy. While many of the changes they have instituted are still abstract to many Americans (i.e. the Patriot Act), the Plutocrats, Oligarchs, and Theocrats are on the verge of extinguishing our republic. They have already installed the mechanisms to forge a fascist state. Historically, fascism has included the use of propaganda and censorship, strong nationalism, fusion of religion and state, and corporatism. As a Senator, Sam Brownback has worked diligently to implement each of these components in some fashion. Beware, America. If the right to vote in America still exists in 2008, a Brownback victory could signal a comeback for the Brown Shirts.