Progressive Calendar 12.12.06
From: David Shove (
Date: Tue, 12 Dec 2006 03:36:28 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    12.12.06

1. Peacemakers        12.12 11:30am
2. Defend Jill Clark  12.12 12noon/6pm
3. Salvador photos    12.12 2:30pm
4. Govt info trends   12.12 4pm
5. Robert Jensen/SPNN 12.12 5pm
6. Salon/poetry       12.12 6:30pm
7. Ag energy/farm bill12.12 6:45pm  12.12-13 2

8. Art & health       12.13 12noon
9. Fair trade gifts   12.13 5pm
10. Organ trade       12.13 7pm
11. No Anoka stadium  12.13 7pm
12. AI StPaul         12.13 7:30pm

13. VfP Xmas calendars

14. Jerry Kann    - An independent Green Party can be the majority party
15. David Edwards - Dangerous minds

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From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Peacemakers 12.12 11:30am

Tuesday, 12/12, 11:30 am, MN Alliance of Peacemakers annual meeting,
including J. Brian Atwood, Humphrey Institute dean and former head of the
U.S. Agency for International Development, Hennepin Ave United Methodist
Church, 511 Groveland, Mpls.

--------2 of 15--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: Defend Jill Clark  12.12 12noon/6pm

Communities United Against Police Brutality


Attorney Jill Clark has tirelessly and fearlessly defended people of color
and poor people who have been targeted by the criminal justice system,
especially survivors of police brutality and family members of people
killed by police.  She often takes important cases free of charge, in
order to create significant changes in police policies and practices. She
is truly the people's lawyer.

As part of her work, Jill has encountered and exposed courthouse
corruption being used to railroad police brutality victims and others.
This corruption contributes to Minnesota having the highest rate of
overprosecution of Blacks in the country (according to the Council on
Crime and Justice).  In April 2006, Jill filed a formal complaint against
Hennepin County chief judge Lucy Weiland for activities that unfairly
stacked the deck against her client.  She filed another complaint in
October against Weiland, two other judges and a prosecutor who colluded to
deny her client justice.  In both cases, although Jill indicated that she
had extensive documentation on file, the Minnesota Board of Judicial
Standards refused to investigate the case--or even review her
documentation.  We've had dealings with this outfit in the past and can
tell you that this board doesn't do squat and seems to exist to protect
wayward judges, so this was no big surprise.  Still, you would think that
some of her documentation might have at least peaked their interest.

Jill has now learned that Weiland filed a formal complaint against her
with the Lawyer's Office of Professional Responsibility.  Unlike the Board
of Judicial (NON)Standards, this agency takes their responsibilities
seriously.  They have launched an investigation of the complaint.  They
won't find anything--there isn't a shred of truth to Weiland's complaint,
which is mostly a rant about the fact that Jill complained about her.
Still, the process itself is grueling and forces Jill to expend energy
defending herself rather than working for the community.

We must fight back against this vicious attempt to silence one of the
strongest defenders of the community against the abuses of the courts and
cops.  The people need lawyers like Jill who stand up for us against a
repressive system.  If we don't defend her, all other lawyers who do the
right thing will be targeted, too and the community will be without the
help we need.

If you've ever been helped by a lawyer like Jill, now is the time to come
to her defense!  Tell the system, HANDS OFF JILL CLARK!

Press Conference
Tuesday, December 12
12:00 noon
Hennepin County Government Center
300 S 6th Street, Minneapolis
By the fountain on the main floor

Called by the newly-formed Jill Clark Defense Coalition.  Jill will
formally announce the complaint to the media and we will announce the
formation of our coalition and our intent to stand with and defend Jill
and to fight corruption in the Hennepin County courts.  We need lots of
folks to be there, hold signs and be visible supporters.

Organizing Meeting
Tuesday, December 12
6:00 p.m.
Minneapolis Urban League
2100 Plymouth Avenue North, Minneapolis

We will continue to organize our Hands Off Jill Clark campaign and a
counteroffensive campaign of going against the corruption in the Hennepin
County courts.  Come and join one of our working groups to stand with Jill
and take action against the machinery that defends brutal cops and targets
police brutality survivors.

--------3 of 15--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Salvador photos 12.12 2:30pm

Tuesday, 12/12, 2:30 to 4 pm, presentation "El Salvador: Healing Work
Through Photography,"  135 Nicholson Hall, U of M, Mpls.

--------4 of 15-------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Govt info trends 12.12 4pm

I went to one of these sessions some time back... a lot of librarians...
could be useful to those of us interested in doing research...

Subject: 12/12 Metronet Wind Down - Latest Trends and Developments in
Gov't Information  From:    "Deanna Sylte" <info [at]>

Metronet Wind Down: "Latest Trends and Developments in Government
Information" by Julia Wallace
Tuesday, December 12 - 4:00-5:00 p.m.
Roseville Public Library - 2180 North Hamline, Roseville

Ms. Wallace - until her recent retirement - was Head of the Government
Publications Department at the University of Minnesota. Prior to her
appointment at the University, she held the same position at the
Minneapolis Public Library.

She was a founding member of ALA's Government Documents Roundtable, for
many years served as an advisor to the Federal Government's Office of the
Public Printer, and was a member of the Depository Libraries Council.

Please join us!! No RSVP required, but feel free to contact us at
information [at] with questions.

--------5 of 15--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Robert Jensen/SPNN 12.12 5pm

Dear St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers:

"Our World In Depth" airs at 5 pm and midnight each Tuesday and 10 am each
Wednesday on SPNN Channel 15.  Below are the scheduled shows through the
end of 2006.

12/12 and 12/13 "Robert Jensen"  Author and professor at U of TX in
Austin.  Talk given 10/18 at the U of M.

12/19 and 12/20 'Amy Goodman: "Static" Tour' (Part 1).  Host of Democracy
Now!  Talk given 9/8 at St. Joan of Arc Church.

12/26 and 12/27 'Amy Goodman: "Static" Tour' (Part 2).  Host of Democracy
Now!  Talk given 9/8 at St. Joan of Arc Church.

"Our World In Depth" features analysis of public affairs with
consideration of and participation from Twin Cities area activists.  The
show is mostly local and not corporately influenced! For information about
future programming of "Our World In Depth", please send an e-mail to
eric-angell [at]  (PS It might be better than PBS.)

--------6 of 15-------

From: patty <pattypax [at]>
Subject: Salon/poetry 12.12 6:30pm

December 12 we will celebrate Mary Oliver's new book of poems, THIRST.
We can read from that book and any others she was written.  Since she has
become a favorite of ours, and because of the season, we will be having
wine and cheese.  If you want to bring some wine, cheese or crackers ,
feel free.  thanks, patty

Pax Salons ( )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.

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From: David Strand <mncivil [at]>
Subject: Ag energy/farm 12.12 6:45pm  12.12-13

Registration is $125.00 till Dec. 11th and $150.00 at the door.  There
does look like there is a lot of good information available about public
policy as it pertains to wind power at this event as well as discussion of
fuel production from crops and the attendant problems, promises and
possibilities there.  Don't let Tim Pawlenty's appearance put you off.
It appears there is some great information that will be available here.
If you can't afford this conference, the Oxfam and the Land Stewardship
Project are holding a free event around US Farm and Food Policy to
organize for the upcoming re-authorization(reformation!) of the farm bill
in the upcoming session of congress on the evening of Dec. 12th. at Holy
Trinity Lutheran Church, 2730 East 31st Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406 from
6:45 pm - 8:30 pm. I if interested please RSVP by 6:45 Dec. 12th to Oxfam
America and Land Stewardship Project kdanko [at] .

--------8 of 15--------

From: Jim Pounds <jim [at]>
Subject: Art & health 12.13 12noon

Intermedia Arts presents
Immigrant Status: Contributions
Brown Bag Dialogues with International Artists

How does art heal?
How do immigrant artists demystify culture and religion through their
How do art and religion affect the social, cultural, economic,
political aspects of our communities?

Spend your lunch hour in the newly renamed Sandy Agustín Gallery at
Intermedia Arts, discussing Art and Healing and Art and Religion with two
featured gallery artists: Dr. Niccu Taffarodi (Iran) and Koffi Mbairamadji
(Chad). On December 13, 2006 and January 3, 2007, Intermedia Arts hosts
two Brown Bag Dialogues designed to examine the intersections between life
and art from a world perspective. These Brown Bag Dialogues are part of
Immigrant Status, a four-year multidisciplinary arts series that sheds
light on the many variations of the new immigrant experience.

Art and Health featuring Dr. Niccu Taffarodi, (Featured Artist,
Immigrant Status 2007)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
12-1 PM at Intermedia Arts
2822 Lyndale Ave. S., Minneapolis
All Brown Bag Dialogues are free and open to the public.

--------9 of 15--------

From: wamm <wamm [at]>
Subject: Fair trade gifts 12.13 5pm

Ten Thousand Villages: Fair Trade Shop,  Community Solutions Fund Night

Wednesday, December 13, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., 867 Grand Avenue in St. Paul
(at the corner of Grand and Victoria--diagonal from Café Latté) Here's a
fun and easy way to support Community Solutions Fund! Twenty percent of
every purchase that evening will be donated to Community Solutions Fund,
of which WAMM is a member. From folk art to heirloom decorations, musical
instruments to jewelry, Ten Thousand Villages carries a wide variety of
items made by artisans in 32 countries. They work with artisans who would
otherwise be unemployed or under-employed. This income helps pay for food,
education, health care or housing. Ten Thousand Villages is a nonprofit

--------10 of 15--------

From: bkucera [at]
Subject: Organ trade 12.13 7pm

Film: Dirty Pretty Things tells gruesome tale

ST. PAUL - A little-known but gruesome side of the global economy -
trafficking in human organs - is the subject of the next program in the
Labor & Community Film Series.

Dirty Pretty Things will be shown Wednesday, Dec. 13, at 7 p.m. at the
offices of the Minnesota Nurses Association, 1625 Energy Park Dr. (near
the intersection of Energy Park and Snelling Avenues) in St. Paul.

The program is sponsored by the University of Minnesota Labor Education
Service and co-sponsored by the MNA. The screening is free and open to

In Dirty Pretty Things, filmmaker Stephen Frears tells the story of an
undocumented African immigrant doctor working a service job in a London
hotel, who fights to put an end to the gruesome trade in human organs.
This award-winning thriller exposes a side of the global economy that most
people never see - as well as the dynamics between native-born and
immigrant workers that exists in the United States and abroad.

View the complete Labor & Community Film Series schedule at

--------11 of 15--------

From: Ron Holch <rrholch [at]>
Subject: No Anoka stadium 12.13 7pm

Taxpayers For an Anoka County Stadium Referendum


Wednesday December 13, at   7:00 PM
Centennial High School
Red Building - Room 104 4704 North Road Circle Pines, MN

The red building is on the east end of the high school complex, and is set
back furthest from North Road.  Enter on the East side of the building.
The largest parking lots are near this building.

Our work is not over yet and it is important for us to remain vigilant.

Anoka County Officials claim they have taken back their more than generous
offer to Zygi Wilf for stadium in Blaine.  However the County Board has
not had a vote to rescind the offer to the Vikings.  In Addition No One
has said that Anoka County Taxpayers will not pay for a Vikings Stadium no
matter where it is located.  Nor has anyone yet offered us a chance to
vote on a tax increase.  This means a Hennepin County Vikings Stadium can
still increase taxes for us in Anoka County.

Now would be a good time to think about what you will write to your newly
elected representatives to tell them we do not need to waste more money on
stadium giveaways to Billionaires.  Please continue to tell them we want a
vote as required by state law for any tax increase to pay for a stadium.
Write letters to your local paper too.  If you have done these things once
already please do it again.

Lawn Signs for sale!
What will happen in the 2007 Legislative Session?
Any Questions, comments contact me at: Ron Holch rrholch [at]

--------12 of 15--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: AI StPaul 12.13 7:30pm

There are several local Amnesty International groups in the Twin Cities
area. All of them are welcoming and would love to see interested people
get involved -- find the one that best fits your schedule or location:

AIUSA Group 640 (Saint Paul) meets Wednesday, December 13th, at 7:30 p.m.
Mad Hatter Teahouse, 943 West 7th Street, Saint Paul.

--------13 of 15--------

From: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27 <vfpchapter27 [at]>
Subject: VfP Xmas calendars

This is a note to let you know that Chapter 27 has SOA 2007 calendars for
sale ($10 ea.) and SOA mini-photo booklets ($15 ea.).

Both were put together by Chante Wolf and are compiled with her
photography of the SOA event last year. The mini-booklet is intended to
give the observer with information about what the SOA is, who started the
SOA watch, who travels on the bus and why, and what happens during the

The calendar does a similar explaination, but on a smaller scale.

Both are on sale at St. Martin's Table, MayDay Books, Northern Star and
the chapter office. The proceeds go to support the VFP Chapter 27 efforts.

Do you know anyone who would like something for peace to hang on their
wall or sit on their coffee table?

Have a wonderful Christmas and safe and memorable New Year!

Chapter 27 ... 2123 Clinton Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55404 612-821-9141

Veterans for Peace, Chapter 27 St. Stephens Community Center 2123 Clinton
Ave. S. Minneapolis, MN 55404 (612) 821-9141
**new e-mail: vfpchapter27 [at] GMAIL.COM**

--------14 of 15--------

An Independent Green Party Can Be the Majority Party
by Jerry Kann
A Magazine of Green Social Thought
Fall 2006

Where do I want the Green Party to be in 20 years?  In 2026, I want our
party to be the majority political party in the United States.  I want
most of the members of Congress, most governors, and most members of state
legislatures to be Greens.

This is a very ambitious goal but by no means an unrealistic one.  But
people aren't stupid.  If they see the Greens making common cause with,
say, the Democratic Party in presidential elections, people will begin to
ask what makes us Greens different.  They will ask the perfectly
reasonable question: Why should I bother supporting Greens if it's just a
roundabout way of supporting Democrats?

To convince millions of voters that the Greens are for real, the Green
Party must be completely independent of the two major parties -
particularly of the Democratic Party.  The Green Party as an institution
must not collaborate with the very powers in our society whose corruption
and decay have made the Green Party necessary in the first place.

Peter Camejo, Ralph Nader's vice presidential running mate in 2004, and
other Greens have established a collective called Greens for Democracy
and Independence (GDI).  The name is uncomplicated; it declares exactly
what the group is about.  GDI will advocate for a one person/one vote
system within the Green Party for selecting leadership bodies and our
presidential ticket (the "Democracy" part) and for complete independence
from the two corporate parties.

                      The danger of playing it safe

As we Greens look ahead to the national election of 2008, we have to make
up our minds about what sort of national campaign we will run.  The
essential debate among Greens in 2004 was over the question of whether the
Party should give up its independence and take what some believed would be
the "safer" route of cooperation with the Democrats.  Many high-profile
Greens insisted that left-liberal Democratic voters and activists must not
be alienated by a Green presidential campaign that challenged both major
parties.  They floated various scenarios - running a limited campaign, or
pulling out at the last minute and asking supporters to vote for the
Democrat, or even not running at all.

Starting in late 2003, some Greens began to argue that the 2004 campaign
was a special case, an emergency that called for extraordinary measures.
George W.  Bush is such a heinous monster, the argument went, that
virtually any candidate the Democrats come up with should receive the
support of the Green Party, directly or indirectly.

David Cobb, who became the Green nominee for president, proposed that the
Greens run a limited, "strategic" national campaign in 2004.  As Cobb
phrased it, "Most of our resources should be focused on those states where
the Electoral College votes are not 'in play.'"  The idea, of course, was
that the Green candidate for president not campaign in the swing states
for fear of tempting people there to vote Green instead of Democrat, which
might hurt the Democrats' chances of beating Bush.  In other words, the
plan called for making the Greens irrelevant in the very states where they
might have an influence on the outcome of the election.

Cobb and his supporters all knew, of course, that the Green Party nominee
in 2000, Ralph Nader, had a very different strategy in mind.  Even before
Nader announced his candidacy in February 2004, he made it quite clear
that if he chose to run he would run all-out and campaign in all 50

It's important to note that Nader went on to win fully 41% of the delegate
votes at the Green Party convention, even though he was not seeking the
nomination but only an endorsement.  Peter Camejo, who from the first was
well known as a staunch Nader supporter, won more than 70% of the vote in
the Green primary in California (home to about half of all registered
Greens in the US), compared to Cobb's 13%.  These factors would seem to
indicate that many, if not most, rank-and-file Green Party members
supported Nader and his independent orientation toward the major parties.

The practical effect of Cobb's plan was that his 2004 campaign endorsed
the Kerry campaign, albeit indirectly.  The result?  Those voters who
were searching for a genuine alternative to the corrupt major parties
either voted for Nader or stayed home, and the official Green Party
campaign under David Cobb's leadership won only a little over 100,000
votes - not just behind Nader's 443,000, but even behind the totals of the
Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates. Judging by those numbers,
it's fair to say that the Safe States strategy was a dismal failure.

             The Evil of Supporting the Lesser of Two Evils

Cobb, Benjamin, Glick and the rest are more or less sympathetic to the
doctrine of the Lesser of Two Evils.  This is the view that, when
confronted by a choice between two evils, the responsible thing to do is
to choose the one that is, by all appearances, less evil.

At first blush, this idea makes sense.  One can imagine all sorts of cases
in which it would obviously be preferable to cast a vote for some
mediocre candidate over a truly awful one but an important question
arises: just how evil can a lesser evil get before it becomes

Judging by the results of the 2004 election, it's clear that many people
seem to be willing to tolerate an awful lot of evil.  This is nowhere as
evident as in the attitude of Democratic voters toward John Kerry's
pro-war position.

Politics in America has deteriorated so much that people who marched in
peace rallies in 2003 ended up supporting a pro-war candidate in 2004.
Many Democrats might describe themselves as peace activists, and yet they
were prepared to bite their tongues and utter not a word of criticism when
Kerry said in the first debate that he would "lead the troops to victory."
They kept silent when he said he would have voted for the Iraq war
resolution even if he had known the truth about the phantom weapons of
mass destruction.  He had no exit strategy for our troops, and no deadline
for withdrawal.  Many loyal Democrats may have been inwardly horrified at
Kerry's pro-war stance but if they were, they kept it to themselves.

In truth, an abomination like Bush is only possible because liberals have
clung so tenaciously to the lesser-of-two-evils system.  Republicans win
because the Democrats don't offer a credible alternative for voters.
This state of affairs has only gotten worse over the years because
progressives have so appallingly lowered their standards for what a
Democrat needs to do to get their vote.  Progressives abandon their own
core beliefs - in peace, in economic justice, in democracy - in the vague
hope of gaining some influence within the Democratic Party.  What
Democratic leaders are likely to cede any influence to people who are so
pathetically eager to give up their own ideals?

The lesser-of-two-evils habit of many voters ends up giving the Democratic
Party leadership a powerful incentive to become more evil, not less -
which, in turn, encourages the hard-right Republicans to govern like
out-and-out fascists.  People who start out using lesser-evilism as a way
of saving democracy only succeed in helping to destroy it.

              The Cobb strategy's long-term implications

It is very important to study the Cobb strategy for 2004; it helped set a
precedent for Green action in future elections and needs to be thoroughly
evaluated.  We can't, in good conscience, put the experience of 2004
"behind us"  until we've answered the question: do we follow the Cobb
precedent or break with it?

In his "Green Party 2004 Presidential Strategy," David Cobb presented a
case for Green Party collaboration with the Democratic Party.  By
"collaboration" I am referring to an arrangement that would ensure a
meager or even invisible Green presence in the battleground states.

Cobb's "Proposed Overall Strategy" leads off with the premise that George
W.  Bush is a crisis all by himself; a menace of historic significance,
which implies that the little Green Party is not a sufficient force to
deal with him.  He then suggests that the Democrats aren't so bad after
all: "It is unacceptable to claim there is no difference between the
Democratic and Republican parties."

Cobb is clearly implying here that there is a meaningful difference and
that the Democrats are better.  He seems to regard them as viable, if
horribly inadequate, opponents of the Republicans.  Why would he go to the
trouble of saying the Democrats are better unless he hoped to generate
support for the Democrats among Greens?

Cobb seems to be begging his fellow Greens to give the Democrats just one
more chance.  He even goes so far as to suggest it's in the best interests
of the Green Party to do so: "If we want our party to grow, we must
demonstrate to the American people ... that we hear their concerns of the
danger Bush poses."  He obviously wants us Greens to do more than simply
"hear their concerns."  Cobb wants us to "demonstrate" it by surrendering
the one thing that ensures the Green Party's relevance in American
politics - its independence.

A narrow majority of delegates to the 2004 Milwaukee convention followed
Cobb and adopted his strategy.  It resulted in a campaign that, according
to Cobb, was meant to win "millions of votes" and to "culminate in George
Bush losing the election."  What actually took place, however, was a
campaign in which the Greens garnered a tiny fraction of the votes that
we won in 2000 and which effectively split the Green Party right down the
middle - and Bush is still in the White House.

                      IRV: The only solution?

It's very instructive to examine what Cobb's strategy statement has to say
about electoral reform.  Cobb writes: "We consistently articulate Instant
Runoff Voting (IRV) as the only solution to the question of Greens as
'spoilers.'"  Yet before we evaluate this statement, it's helpful to look
at what IRV is and how it works.

IRV is a voting system that allows a voter to choose more than one
candidate for a particular office, but to rank those candidates by
preference.  In elections where there are only two candidates for an
office, IRV is not needed.  It is only operative when there are three or
more candidates in the running.

The classic case study for how IRV would work might be the election of
2000.  Had IRV been in place then, many people who voted for Nader might
have also voted for Gore.  They could have demonstrated their preference
for Nader by ranking him first but also shown qualified support for Gore
by ranking him second.  When the first-choice votes for each candidate
were counted up, it may well have been that Nader would still have
finished third.  By finishing "out of the money," Nader would have been
eliminated.  At that point, the second choice of all those Nader voters
would have become very, very important indeed.

Exit polls in 2000 showed that Al Gore was the second choice for president
among about a third of those who voted for Nader.  Under IRV, those
second-choice votes automatically ("instantly," as it were) would have
gone to Gore.  Under this system, it's hard to imagine how Gore could ever
have lost Florida, and hence, the election.

This all becomes even more interesting when one considers that voters,
under IRV, would have no incentive to force themselves to choose the
"lesser evil."  They could go straight to their true first choice and use
their second choice to hedge their bets. In such a scenario, it seems all
the more possible that an attractive third party candidate could become
the first choice of most voters.  Ralph Nader, unabashedly calling for the
end of the US occupation of Iraq in 2004, might well have out-polled the
two major party candidates who supported the occupation.  This is IRV's
greatest strength - that it opens up the possibility that voters will stop
voting against candidates they hate and start voting for candidates they
believe in.

But I think Cobb's attitude toward IRV is somewhat different.  IRV seems
most valuable to him as his answer to angry Democrats - the people who
like to blame Nader and the Greens for "spoiling" the election of 2000.
Why would Cobb, a Green, be so concerned about the feelings of Democrats?
I don't know - but plainly he is.

It bears repeating that Cobb's strategy statement called on us Greens to
"demonstrate" to voters (Democrats?) that we understand "the danger that
Bush poses" to America and the world. Again, for Cobb it was up to us
Greens to make the sacrifice.  The implication was that if we walked back
to the Democrats on our knees and "demonstrated" our willingness not to
compete with them for votes, then they would magnanimously take us back
under their wing, like forgiving parents dealing with errant children.

Cobb's sympathy for the Democrats is borne out by his close association,
since late 2004, with Progressive Democrats of America (PDA).  At a
gathering of Greens and Democrats in New York in January 2005, Cobb spoke
glowingly about his meeting with PDA in Washington.  He referred to his
"inside/outside"  strategy, his plan for working "across party lines" with
the Democrats.  Of course IRV was part of the package; Cobb noted that a
few Democrats in Congress were in favor of IRV and other electoral
reforms.  After the meeting I asked him about his strategy and he said
quite bluntly that he felt only the Democrats are going to be able to pass

So now the question arises whether IRV is in fact the "only" solution, as
Cobb maintains, for the dread problem of the Greens as spoilers.  It also
forces us to ask just how long we might have to wait, under Cobb's
guidance, for IRV to become the law of the land.

Consider: Al Gore lost the election of 2000 in large part because of the
outmoded, anti-democratic Electoral College system.  The Democrats have
had five years to propose abolishing that system, but have done nothing.
Are we really supposed to expect these same do-nothing Democrats - much
less the Republicans - to pass IRV anytime soon?  The Democrats didn't
even stand up for themselves when a presidential election was stolen from
them in 2000.  Yet David Cobb wants us to wait patiently for them to help
the Green Party by passing IRV - and don't forget: IRV is the only
possible solution to this problem.

Shouldn't it strike Green Party members as a bit odd that the Green
nominee for president in 2004 seems to be urging us to lock ourselves into
a no-win situation?  On the one hand, says Cobb, the Greens dare not run
against prominent Democrats (such as John Kerry) for fear of spoiling
their chances against the Republicans.  At the same time, we must wait
patiently for those same Democrats to pass a law that will make it easier
for Greens to compete. What is the way out of such a dilemma?

There obviously isn't one.  It's simply not believable that the Democrats
would expend a great deal of political capital to pass a law that would
only benefit third parties and make life for Democrats more difficult.
The "progressives" who have come out in support of IRV are a very small
minority within their own party.  Cobb is exhorting us all to look to
these few renegade Democrats as the saviors of the Green Party.  Frankly,
that looks an awful lot like a stalling tactic - and one that gives
Democrats breathing room while it demoralizes and discourages Greens.

The way to pass IRV is to run Greens aggressively for public office right
now, under existing electoral law, rather than to postpone serious
campaigns until the glorious day when we have the ideal, "spoiler-free"
system that Cobb envisions.  We will pass IRV a lot sooner by first
electing Greens to office and then introducing the legislation ourselves
and fighting for it, rather than waiting for our "friends" currently in
power to do it for us.

               We want two different Green Parties

What we've got here is not so much a failure to communicate as a failure
to come to grips with the inevitable growing pains of a new political
movement.  Now we simply must confront the reality that some Greens still
feel connected - emotionally, culturally, or what have you - to the Old
Politics of the two-party system.  Other Greens, however, are
enthusiastically embracing a new world in which the Green Party has thrown
off the shackles of the past and is pursuing an independent course, and
in which each Green Party member has an equal opportunity to take part in
our internal affairs.

Essentially, the Greens want two different kinds of Green Party.
Rank-and-file members - old, new and pro-spective - will sooner or later
have to make up their minds which one they really want to build in the
years to come.

It is helpful to review the features of the two primary factions within
the Green Party today.  One wants complete independence from the major
parties and the other wants to be subordinate, in some respects, to the
Democratic Party.  One wants to have internal democracy and employ a one
person/one vote system for decision-making, while the other wants to grant
heavily weighted votes to smaller state parties in frank imitation of the
US government's anti-democratic Electoral College system.  One has the
lofty but inspiring goal of building a large, mass-based political party
that one day will be the majority party in the United States and the other
aspires to being one party - and presumably a small one in relation to the
Republican and Democratic parties - in a "multi-party democracy."

On this last point I am going on what I've heard from some Cobb
supporters, notably his campaign manager Lynne Serpe, who is very adept
and well-spoken on matters of electoral reform and her own vision of what
sort of Green Party she wants.  Serpe describes a future Green Party that
may attract 10 or 15% of the vote in major elections.  (This is
considerably more than we attract now in most elections, but it is still a
lot less than a majority.)  This plateau is to be reached by first passing
certain electoral reforms, especially IRV and proportional representation
(PR).  These reforms are often presented as the utterly indispensable
changes in the system that Greens will need to win significant support at
the polls.

What I have not heard from Serpe and others is what they expect will
happen, under their plan, to the two major parties that are presently in
power.  I think that omission is very telling.  I can only presume, since
they don't even address the question, that they do not foresee the Greens
ever threatening to eclipse one major party or the other.  They appear to
be saying, by default, that the Republicans and Democrats will continue -
perhaps even should continue - to command the lion's share of the votes in
US elections.

There is no reason for Greens to settle for such limited goals - to
forever be content with being small fish in a big pond.  People can
accomplish so much more than they usually think they can.  We often impose
limits on ourselves in the name of being "realistic."  This is bad
politics, because it tends to empower cynics and often discourages the
idealists who bring about positive change in the world.

To bring about change, however, we need to talk about the long term - and
unfortunately, we Greens have had precious little discussion about
long-term strategy.  Without long-term goals, the Greens are liable to
drift, perhaps aimlessly, from election cycle to election cycle.  If,
however, we set long-term goals for the Green Party, we are much more
likely to actually achieve something close to our heart's desire in
American politics.  Green Party members need to start taking control of
their future, to the extent that we can, right now.

The Greens' unfortunate choice of national strategy in 2004 set a
precedent that everybody will expect us to stick to from now on.  In 2007
and early 2008, some Greens will no doubt argue that a new Republican
horror looms on the presidential horizon and must be stopped.  The
Democrats will once again beg us to stand down from running an aggressive
campaign, and the Safe State Greens will again come forward with the same
bizarre formulation: "Let us grow the Green Party by urging millions of
people not to vote for us!"

Can the Green Party survive such a struggle?  Of course it can.  The
exchange itself will make the party stronger.  It will challenge all of us
to think about the Party's future and our own individual hopes and
aspirations.  The better we Greens know our own minds about that, the
better we will be prepared to persuade people to join us.  New Greens will
have much more confidence in us and in themselves if they have a sense of
long-term mission, if they feel they can ride out short-term crises by
having a prize to keep their eyes on, and if they see the more experienced
Greens sticking to their guns and refusing to retreat in the face of
intimidation from either of the major parties.

Can the two sides co-exist?  Yes, for a time; a year or two, perhaps, but
not longer than that.  The merciless regularity of the election cycle will
eventually force us to take one of two roads - the one less traveled by or
the path of least resistance.  The latter leads right back to serfdom
within the Democratic Party, and probably in short order.  The harder road
promises a long march with no end of difficulties but it leads to freedom
and self-respect.  How can we possibly fail to choose the right road?

Jerry Kann is a Green Party member in New York City.  Mr. Kann was the
2005 Green Party candidate for the position of New York City
Council-person in Astoria, Queens.  He can be reached at:
jerrykann99 [at]

A Magazine of Green Social Thought
c/o WD Press, P.O. Box 300275, St. Louis MO  63130
314-727-8554 (evenings, weekends)  e-mail: fitzdon [at]

[Anyone for taking the path back to serfdom within the Democratic Party?
Not me. -ed]

--------15 of 15--------

Media Lens Cogitation
Dangerous Minds
by David Edwards
December 1, 2006

"Our complex global economy is built upon millions of small, private acts
of psychological surrender, the willingness of people to acquiesce in
playing their assigned parts as cogs in the great social machine that
encompasses all other machines. They must shape themselves to the
prefabricated identities that make efficient coordination possible . . .
that capacity for self-enslavement must be broken."
    - Theodore Roszak, The Voice Of The Earth)

                           Heart Murmurs

Few tasks are more challenging than that of attending to our subtle,
internal responses to the world against the deafening roar of what is
deemed "obviously true." Writing in the 1930s, the anarchist Rudolf Rocker
made the point that the state is not a disinterested spectator on the
issue of freedom of thought. In his classic work, Culture And Nationalism,
Rocker wrote:

The state welcomes only those forms of cultural activity which help it to
maintain its power. It persecutes with implacable hatred any activity
which oversteps the limits set by it and calls its existence into
question. It is, therefore, as senseless as it is mendacious to speak of a
"state culture"; for it is precisely the state which lives in constant
warfare with all higher forms of intellectual culture and always tries to
avoid the creative will of culture. (Rocker, Culture and Nationalism,
Michael E. Coughlan, 1978, p.85)

The stakes, Rocker noted, are high:

If the state does not succeed in guiding the cultural forces within its
sphere of power into courses favorable to its ends, and thus inhibit the
growth of higher forms, these very higher forms will sooner or later
destroy the political frame which they rightly regard as a hindrance.
(Rocker, p.83)

If this strikes us as implausible (as it should), it is for a very good
reason. It seems incredible to us that individuals working for the state -
in government, education, local government - could be eagerly working to
"reduce all human activity to a single pattern." Are they not human beings
like us? Do they not seek freedom of thought, independence of mind, for
their own children?

It is a very reasonable argument and applies equally to the media.
Dissident analysts claim, and in fact demonstrate, that truth is filtered,
depleted to a dramatic degree by the corporate media. But surely the men
and women of the press - again, human beings like us - are not eagerly
striving to oppress humanity.

The answer is found in the way the performance of an organization is
shaped by its primary, bottom line goals. As I have discussed elsewhere,
the process is similar to the mechanisms underlying crystal formation. The
near-perfect, symmetrical shapes of snowflakes and other crystalline
structures are no accident but flow from the founding conditions around
which the crystals form.

If we pour a stream of marbles into a square framework, they will
inevitably form a pyramid. In accounting for the perfect conformity on
every side of the structure no one need propose eager participation on the
part of the marbles. In organizations for which profit-seeking, say, is
the bottom line - the equivalent of the wooden framework - facts, ideas,
values, policies and individuals are naturally selected that fit the
structure, that act in structure-supportive ways, and that do not
challenge the founding framework.

In the absence of the overt, big Brother-style control of past history, we
imagine we are at last free. Erich Fromm thought otherwise:

Anonymous authority is more effective than overt authority, since one
never suspects that there is any order which one is expected to follow. In
external authority it is clear that there is an order and who gives it;
one can fight against the authority, and in this fight personal
independence and moral courage can develop... It is like being fired at by
an invisible enemy. There is nobody and nothing to fight back against.
(Erich Fromm, The Fear Of Freedom)

In our society, education policy, schools, curricula, professional
training, cultural presumptions, media output, our deepest notions of what
is true and important in life, are all filtered by the founding frameworks
of profit and power.

Where does the capacity to think for ourselves, to take ourselves
seriously, fit into this framework? Rocker explains:

Education is character development, harmonious completion of human
personality. But what the state accomplishes in this field is dull drill,
extinction of natural feeling, narrowing of the spiritual field of vision,
destruction of all the deeper elements of character in man. The state can
train subjects... but it can never develop free men who take their affairs
into their own hands; for independent thought is the greatest danger that
it has to fear. (Rocker, p.190)

And what a price we pay for the averting of this human threat! As
children, it means we must be persuaded to defer to external judgments -
to feel sure they must be superior to our own; for then we will learn to
disregard our internal disagreements. We must be made to mouth prayers
that mean nothing, to wave meaningless flags at meaningless ceremonies; to
bow low to people born into a particular family - for then we will learn
to accept confusion as our lot, to accept unreason with a shrug.

How many of us recognize the appalling oppression implicit in the simple
fact that schools are named according to this or that religious tradition?
What does this tell us about our commitment to protecting, rather than
defeating, the precious independence of mind that exists in the new minds
that we welcome into our society?

I am always startled by the gleaming intelligence, sincerity and openness
of young children. As Freud commented, they are intellectually far
superior to us adults. It is vital that young human beings quickly learn
to understand, realistically, the nature of the world around them with all
its demands and dangers. Children seem superbly evolved to discover the
truth, to think for themselves, to work things out. No wonder societies
have to work so hard to mould these dangerous minds into workable

                    School - Sculpting The Pyramid

In his book, Dumbing Us Down, teacher John Taylor Gatto described the
seven real lessons taught by modern schooling.

The first lesson is confusion - the child is presented with a multitude of
unrelated facts; meaning is not sought and so presumed not to exist. We
know that there was a war in Vietnam, but we don't really know why. We
know people are starving, but we don't know why. Failure to understand
deeply is presented as an irrelevance - the key is to memorize facts and
reproduce them on demand. This obsessive focus on retention of information
is a monstrous trivialization and betrayal of the human need to

The second lesson is class position - the child is told his or her place
in the hierarchy. We are taught to envy the 'brighter' and revile the
"slower". Offered a choice between "success" on the terms of authority, or
"failure", we naturally choose 'success'. The A-level students shown
leaping in delight at their results on the news every year are celebrating
their submission to conformity. They have been judged a "success" by
authority and have accepted that judgment as real. By inevitable
implication, they have accepted that authority as legitimate. They are now
surrounded by an electric fence of conformity - to later "fail" by
society's standards will be exquisitely painful.

After joining a new primary school as a child, I came 14th out of 18 in my
end of year exams. Some of my best friends came second and third. I felt
keenly that I was an imposter, that I didn't belong in their company -
they were "up there," exalted; I was a failure. The shame was intense.

Later in my academic experience, I was labeled "lazy", then "average",
then "above average," then "not academic", and then "bright". My
"brightness" appeared to be on a dimmer switch dependent on where I was
and what I was studying. I cringe when I hear a child labeled 'bright' or
"dim". It seems to me that a lot of 'dim' children are too 'bright', or at
least too true to themselves, to tolerate the trivia imposed on them as
"education". To be indifferent to what is of minimal human significance is
not a sign of stupidity.

The point is that a child who accepts the label "not very bright" will, in
his or her own mind, deem risible the notion that he or she might seek to
understand the world, much less to challenge the assumptions accepted by
the society by which he or she has been labeled. For a "failure" who has
been successfully undermined in this way, to reject the labeling system
itself will seem like the most obvious and wretched sour grapes. How can
this one individual be right against a whole world of opinion? And from
where can we gain the confidence that has been stripped away from us by
the very system we are presuming to challenge?

On the other hand, the "bright" child will feel a sense of affirmation and
belonging that will make him or her disinclined to challenge the
fundamental legitimacy and wisdom of the source of his or her own
self-esteem. These are the "winners" who populate our public schools,
Oxbridge universities and corporate media offices.

The third lesson, Gatto tells us, is indifference - the child is taught to
care, but not too much. When the bell rings, enthusiasm makes way for
timetables - learning and passion are subordinated to strict routine. This
makes understanding the world a kind of hobby or game - it is important
and interesting but it shouldn't get in the way of "real life."

In the second term of my third year at university, a lot of my fellow
students quickly turned their attention away from their studies towards
organizing career jobs for the following autumn. Where once the concern
had been Rousseau's description of the social chasm separating human
beings from their real needs, now it was selling chocolate for Cadburys
and biscuits for McVitees. The irony and absurdity, the casual betrayal of
what was supposed to be important, were painful for me to witness.

I was not a fanatical bookworm, but I felt deeply that the issues I was
studying - the nature of human happiness and the implications for
political theory - really did matter. And yet it was clear that these
subjects were not deemed of any great merit in themselves, but were merely
a means to an end, a resource to be crammed for exam passes into high-paid
conformity. It seemed that this game was somehow psychologically and
ethically walled off from reality. So, for example, we read J.S. Mill's

Where, not the person's own character, but the traditions or customs of
other people are the rule of conduct, there is wanting one of the
principal ingredients of human happiness, and quite the chief ingredient
of individual and social progress. (J.S. Mill, On Individuality)

This was quoted in exams, but was not deemed remotely relevant in
considering the value of the exams themselves, or of the corporate work so
eagerly being sought.

This was one of my first experiences of a phenomenon I have encountered
very often in my work with Media Lens. Erich Fromm explained:

Modern man exhibits an amazing lack of realism for all that matters. For
the meaning of life and death, for happiness and suffering, for feeling
and serious thought. He has covered up the whole reality of human
existence and replaced it with his artificial, prettified picture of
pseudo-reality, not too different from the savages [sic] who lost their
land and freedom for glittering glass beads. (Erich Fromm, The Sane

This, actually, is where the Media Lens project might be said to have
started for me. Even before I read the likes of Fromm, Chomsky and Rocker,
I was already astonished, and fascinated, that so much that so clearly
matters could be suppressed in so many people.

Eight years later, I read this description of Glaxo chairman, Paul
Girolami, by David Jack, Ex-Head of Research at the same company:

"I can tell you quite frankly he doesn't have any great regard for
scientists, or for science as a way of living. His whole purpose is to
make money. I don't think there is much folly in his mind about doing
good." (Quoted, Matthew Lynn, "Prudence and the pill pusher," Independent
on Sunday, November 3, 1991)

This, again, contained a sense that all of life - compassion, suffering,
moral responsibility, life and death - was a kind of game to be
subordinated to some higher reality. But what was that "higher reality"
exactly? Career success? Wealth? Corporate greed?

When I started trying to make sense of the world, I noticed that both I,
and the people around me, found it strange that anyone would seriously
make the attempt: "If there were answers to be found," I was repeatedly
told, "they would have been discovered years ago and we would all know
about them." What I didn't realize then was that many answers had been
found but that they conflicted with the interests and goals of people who
control what we come to know about the world. One of the most important
and liberating realizations I gained was the awareness that even our most
painful certainties rooted in a sense of meaningless, alienation and
despair, were actually favored by a system that profits from the absence
of sanity and hope.

Taylor Gatto's fourth lesson is emotional dependency - stars, ticks,
frowns, prizes and honors manipulate children into judging themselves as
they are judged by authority. When I began writing political and
philosophical articles, a constant question running through my mind was:
"Who on earth do I think I am to be writing this stuff?" My own question
was reflected in the nonplussed, embarrassed looks of friends and family.
(Mouth agape, I once made the mistake of telling my dentist what I was
doing: "I'm writing a book about thought control in modern society.") Who
was I - mere me - to be doing that? The answer is I am no more nor less
qualified than anyone else in asking questions and seeking answers to
these questions.

Society had persuaded me that there was something deluded, absurd about
creatures called "ordinary people" presuming to comment on the world. We
are here to be judged - selected or rejected, rewarded or punished - by
the institutions of society, are we not? Who are we to judge the judges?

In the social sciences, at least, it turns out that "expertise" is very
often a label bestowed by people with power. Similarly, to be a
"professional journalist" - someone declared a competent commentator on
current affairs - is merely the result of some corporate editor awarding a
contract. But the title "journalist" - a media version of the famous white
coat worn by doctors - is used to suggest profound specialist knowledge
where, often, very little exists.

In an article on Media Lens earlier this year, Peter Beaumont of The
Observer asked:

"[W]hat is the aim of these self-appointed media watchdogs?" (Beaumont,
"Microscope on Medialens," The Observer, June 18, 2006)

This was interesting because Beaumont had thereby unwittingly revealed
that he considers us lacking in credibility because we are not appointed
by authority. But one might ask where exactly the authority resides that
is qualified to confer respectability on individuals evaluating media
honesty? Are we, as individuals, not able to judge the rationality of the
evidence, of the arguments, for ourselves without appealing to external
authority? Compare the gulf separating Beaumont's worldview from that
described by Rocker:

"Only when man shall have overcome the belief in his dependence on a
higher power will the chains fall away that up to now have bowed the
people beneath the yoke of spiritual and social slavery. Guardianship and
authority are the death of all intellectual effort, and for just that
reason the greatest hindrance to any close social union, which can arise
only from free discussion of matters and can prosper only in a community
not hindered in its original course by external compulsion, belief in a
supernatural dogma or economic oppression." (Rocker, p.143)

The fifth lesson is intellectual dependency - good people wait for teacher
to tell them what to do. Successful children are those who accept and
reproduce what they are told with a minimum of resistance. A stubbornly
questioning child will be met with exasperation and told that, in the end,
the course is about preparing to take and pass exams, not about endless
debate. Later, at work, the employee will be met with the same sighs and
told that the project is about making money, not about discussing the
rights and wrongs of business.

In an interview, Harold Pinter told me about two American journalists who
insisted to their editor that it was the moral responsibility of their TV
station to cover a story on GM food. The editor's response?:

"'Listen, what is news is what we say it is! That's it! And for us that's
not news, right!'"

Pinter paused:

"And then they were fired."

The deeper lesson is that intellectual and ethical freedoms are allowed,
but only within certain parameters - the parameters themselves are not up
for discussion. We are trained, in other words, to accept our lot as
intellectual and ethical jailbirds. To seek to be anything more is to be
dismissed as "a troublemaker." To challenge the whole version of "success"
and "failure" is not even to be a failure - it is to be, by the standards
of the accepted framework, mad.

The sixth lesson is provisional self-esteem. Self-respect is taught to be
dependent on "expert" opinion.

Finally, the seventh lesson is that we cannot hide: we are always being
watched. There is no private space or time in which non-conformity can
flourish. This is a useful preparation for work where our every move is
often monitored to see that we are not wasting company time.
                                                  [Screw the company -ed]

                   Conclusion - Three Small Points

The real point of Rocker's analysis was to suggest that only when we break
free from the chains of anonymous external authority - from the sense that
we need to defer to and seek approval from, such authority - can we learn
to take seriously and develop our own powers of reason, our own critical
thinking and compassion for others:

"Only in freedom does there arise in man the consciousness of
responsibility for his acts and regard for the rights of others; only in
freedom can there unfold in its full strength that most precious social
instinct: man's sympathy for the joys and sorrows of his fellow men and
the resultant impulse toward mutual aid in which are rooted all social
ethics, all ideas of social justice." (Rocker, p.148)

A few hundred years earlier, the Indian philosopher Nagarjuna said much
the same thing:

"Not doing harm to others,
Not bowing down to the ignoble,
Not abandoning the path of virtue -
These are small points, but of great
Importance." (Nagarjuna and Sakya Pandit, Elegant Sayings, Dharma
Publishing, 1977, p.12)

In the modern age, with the greed-driven state-corporate system all but
unavoidable, these three points present the supreme challenge to all who
would live as fully human beings.

Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and
David Cromwell. The first Media Lens book, Guardians of Power: The Myth Of
The Liberal Media, is now available (Pluto Books, London, 2006). Visit the
Media Lens website ( and consider supporting their
invaluable work.

[We think we're thinking for ourselves, when often we're only repeating
the intentionally enslaving drivel spread by the ruling class. A fully
realized human world would have - can have - no ruling class. Disposing of
it should be our first and most human goal. -ed]


   - David Shove             shove001 [at]
   rhymes with clove         Progressive Calendar
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