Progressive Calendar 10.08.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2010 00:31:35 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   10.08.10

1. Peace walk         10.09 9am Cambridge MN
2. WILPF/water/women  10.09 10am
3. Socialist talks    10.09 10am/2pm/4pm/7:30pm
4. Baby food workshop 10.09 11am
5. CUAPB              10.09 1:30pm
6. Northtown vigil    10.09 2pm
7. TonySerra/radicals 10.09 5pm
8. Pentel/gov/Mayday  10.09 6:30pm
9. David Rovics       10.09 9pm

10. Stillwater vigil  10.10 1pm
11. Grand juries/what 10.10 2pm
12. Your rights v FBI 10.10 4:30pm
13. UN event/deadline 10.10

14.   - Your help is needed to defend Constitutional rights!
15. Amber Garlan  - Green candidate against Betty McCollum
16. Robert Jensen - Economics: doing business as if people mattered
17. Quigley/Meeropol - PA monitors left, liberal & radical groups
18. Anderson-Connolly - Vs the lesser-of-2-evils trap/a voter's manifesto

--------1 of 18--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 10.09 9am Cambridge MN

every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM
Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street

--------2 of 18--------

From: Doris Marquit <marqu001 [at]>
Subject: WILPF/water/women 10.09 10am

WILPF announces the next discussion in its 3-part Women, Water and Food
"Coffee With" series:

The Global Water Crisis: Women as the Center of the Solution (Part 2
of the series)
Saturday, Oct. 9, 10 am-noon
Van Cleve Community Center, 901 15th Ave. SE, Minneapolis

LEADERS: Three program coordinators of the recent Women and Water Rights
Exhibition - Liz Dodson, Marilyn Cuneo, and Luella Greene - will present a
round-table discussion. They will be joined by Marc Dettman, Humphrey
Institute graduate student doing research on women and water issues in the
Middle East.

Public invited. Refreshments. Free

--------3 of 18--------

From: Lisa Luinenberg <lisacge [at]>
Subject: Socialist talks 10.09 10am/2pm/4pm/7:30pm

Socialist Action Educational Weekend
October 9-10, 2010
Everybody welcome!

Saturday, October 9 - Mayday Bookstore
10AM "Mother Nature: Eco-Socialism's Model"
        Christine Frank
2PM  "What Would Debs Do? - Socialist Election Policy Past & Present"
        Dave Riehle
4PM " Rosa Luxemburg - A Revolutionary for the 21st Century"
        Adam Shils
7:30PM Showing of "Land and Freedom" (Location TBA)
with commentary on the Spanish Civil War by Michael Livingston

Sunday, October 10 - Mayday Bookstore
10AM "Solidarity Knows No Borders - Defending Immigrant Rights"
            Lisa Luinenburg and Cristobal Cavazos

ALL sessions except Saturday evening at Mayday Bookstore, 301 Cedar Ave
South, Minneapolis, 612-333-4719. Sat. event location will be announced at

--------4 of 18--------

From: Do It Green! Minnesota <Do_It_Green_Minnesota [at]>
Subject: Baby food workshop 10.09 11am

Make Your Own Baby Food
Saturday October 9th, 11:00am
Do It Green! Minnesota Resource Center, Midtown Global Market
Why: Wondering what exactly is in store-bought baby food?  Wishing you
knew how to make your own?

Meet local mom Therese Asmus and learn her techniques for making healthy
and delicious baby food from organic ingredients.  Therese will go over
the benefits of homemade food for your little ones, bring in samples of
some of her baby food, and give a demonstration of a simple recipe.

Cost:  $10 for the public and $8 for Do It Green! Minnesota members
email eva [at] to register

--------5 of 18--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 10.09 1:30pm

Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue

Communities United Against Police Brutality
3100 16th Avenue S
Minneapolis, MN 55407
Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867)

--------6 of 18--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 10.09 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------7 of 18--------

Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2010 23:36:57 -0500
From: Sara M. Grant <sgrant04 [at]>
Subject: TonySerra/radicals 10.09 5pm

Representing Radicals: A Talk by Civil Rights Attorney Tony Serra
Saturday, October 9th 5pm
Hamline Law School, Room 105

Tony Serra is a well known civil rights attorney and tax resister from
California. In 2003, he won Trial Lawyer Of The Year for his work
representing Earth First! and labor activist Judi Bari in her lawsuit
against the FBI, in relation to the bombing of her car. Other clients of
note include Rod Coronado, Huey P. Newton, and Sara Jane Olson. He has
also represented members of the White Panthers, Hell's Angels, Earth
First!, and the New World Liberation Front. He will be talking about his
experiences representing high-profile radical clients in
politically-motivated cases.

It's free, but they are collecting donations for our very own local
activist Scott Demuth (suggested donation $5-20), who is still trying to
raise funds for legal fees.

--------8 of 18--------

From: PRO826 [at]
Subject: Pentel/gov/Mayday 10.09 6:30pm

Saturday, October 9th
KP4G Fundraiser
MayDay Bookstore
301 Cedar Ave. Mpls 55454
6:30p - 9p

--------9 of 18--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: David Rovics 10.09 9pm

"David Rovics: Live from the Black Dog Cafe"

Host Amy Goodman has called David Rovics "the musical voice of Democracy
Now"; however, reaching into the history of peoples' movements, Rovics
might more aptly be called the musical voice of Howard Zinn.  On his
current "Troubador" tour, Rovics sings about social struggle and the power
of action while weaving in his experiences with grassroots activism around
the world. (Sept. 2010)

MTN 17 viewers:
"Our World In Depth" cablecasts on Minneapolis Television Network (MTN)
Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!
Households with basic cable may watch.

Sat, 10/9, 9pm and Tues, 10/12, 8am
"David Rovics: Live from the Black Dog Cafe"

--------10 of 18--------

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
Subject: Stillwater vigil 10.10 1pm

A weekly Vigil for Peace Every Sunday, at the Stillwater bridge from 1- 2
p.m.  Come after Church or after brunch ! All are invited to join in song
and witness to the human desire for peace in our world. Signs need to be
positive.  Sponsored by the St. Croix Valley Peacemakers.

If you have a United Nations flag or a United States flag please bring it.
Be sure to dress for the weather . For more information go to

For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560

--------11 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Grand juries/what 10.10 2pm

Grand Juries - What are they? How can we resist them?
Sunday, October 10, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. Walker Church (in the basement),
3104 16th Avenue South, Minneapolis.

In the last week of September, 14 anti-war and international solidarity
activists were hit with Grand Jury subpoenas. These are the most recent
but certainly not the only grand jury subpoenas served on activists from
different movements around the country. In this context it is critical
that radicals, activists, and supporters of those targeted understand the
use of this shadowy institution - including the "rights" they grant us and
the rights we claim for ourselves.

Carrie Feldman, a local activist and former member of the Coldsnap Legal
Collective, will be speaking about what a grand jury is, how they have
been used to target radical movements, and her experience resisting a
federal grand jury investigation into the animal liberation movement.

In addition, one of the local anti-war activists targeted by the latest
round of subpoenas will speak on the current situation in that case.

Stop the FBI harassment! Say no to government repression of activists!
For more information on the recent raids and subpoenas into the anti-
war movement, visit: For more information about
Carrie's case, visit:

--------12 of 18--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Your rights v FBI 10.10 4:30pm

Legal Education Session and Know Your Rights Training in response to the
FBI offensive against the Anti-War Movement: The Legal Information
Activists Need to Know
Sunday, October 10, 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue
South, Minneapolis.

The following topics will be covered: an explanation of the Federal Laws
prohibiting "Material Support to Terrorists" and how they are being used,
and how they threaten the rights of peace activists everywhere; discussion
of the federal grand jury process, and its oppressive use against
political movements; training on what to do "if an agent knocks"; what are
rights if a federal agent wants to talk to you, comes to search your house
or other property, or serves you with a subpoena?

Information will be presented by local civil rights Attorney Jordan
Kushner, with contributions by other lawyers and activists with pertinent
experience. Sponsored by: the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-MN).

--------13 of 18--------

From: United Nations Association of Minnesota <info [at]>
Subject: UN event/deadline 10.10

United Nations: Searching for Justice in Rwanda, Cambodia, and Yugoslavia
United Nations Association of Minnesota & World Without Genocide

Please join us for conference The United Nations: Searching for Justice in
Rwanda, Cambodia and Yugoslavia, on Saturday, October 16th. The conference
occurs shortly before United Nations Day, celebrated on October 24th, and
is this year's celebration and rally for the United Nations.

United Nations tribunals have been created to prosecute perpetrators of
mass violence in Rwanda, Cambodia, and Yugoslavia.

This conference examines the issues surrounding the creation of the
tribunals, the search for forensic evidence, and the challenges of
defining and instituting justice.

Speakers will be Dr. Gregory Stanton, on constructing justice tribunals;
Andrew M. Baker, M.D., forensic examinations in Kosovo; Prof. Barbara A.
Frey, preventing transfer of small arms used to commit atrocities; Judge
Edward Wilson, divergent responses to ethnic strife in Rwanda and Kosovo;
and Prof. Peter Erlinder, defending the accused at the Rwanda tribunal.

The event is open to the public.  Admission is $10. Reservations are
required by ***Oct. 10*** at

Two CLE credits are available. Continuing education credit is available
for teachers.  For additional information, contact 952-693-5206 or
info [at] [mailto:info [at]]

Co-sponsors: William Mitchell
College of Law; United Nations
Association-Minnesota; University
of Minnesota: STAND-UMN,
Program for Health and Human Rights, Human Rights Program.

Give Your Support
We strive to bring the community events like this, that support the
mission and values of the United Nations. If you would like to make a
tax-deductible contribution in support of these programs, please send to:

United Nations Association of Minnesota
211 N. First Street, Ste 410, Minneapolis, MN 55401
612-455-6065 / info [at]

--------14 of 18--------

Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2010 00:15:23 -0500
From: Sue Ann <seasnun [at]>
Subject: Your Help is Needed to Defend Constitutional Rights

Your help is needed to defend Constitutional rights!

You have probably heard about the coordinated national FBI raids and
subpoenas to Grand Jury proceedings in Chicago for antiwar activists. Your
support is essential at this historical moment when everyone's rights
under the Constitution are threatened.  The government is targeting
legitimate antiwar activity.

The National Lawyers Guild came immediately to the defense of the targeted
activists in all locations.  We are asking you to help defend
Constitutional rights by donating funds for legal defense. The lawyers are
working pro bono, but have significant expenses for staff and court costs.
Any amount you can donate is appreciated.

  - To donate online, got to and click on the donate button.
  - For checks, make them payable to CSFR (Committee to Stop FBI
   Repression) and mail them to CSFR, P.O. Box 14183, Minneapolis MN 55414.
   - For more information and updates, go to or call

Thank you for your support.  We all need to stand together.

A letter from Meredith Aby:
October 4, 2010
Dear supporters,

On Friday, September 24th, the office of the Twin Cities' based Anti-War
Committee, and six homes in Chicago and Minneapolis were raided by the
FBI. The Anti-War Committee's database, as well as individual's personal
computers, cell phones, and political papers were seized in order to
investigate "material support for terrorism" and to discover how we
"indoctrinate people into joining the Anti-War Committee".  Fourteen
anti-war activists have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in
Chicago, including members of the Anti-War Committee and a member of Women
Against Military Madness.

These raids and subpoenas are an attack on the first amendment right to
freedom of speech and are a blatant attempt to silence those who speak out
against US foreign policy. The anti-war and international solidarity
activists who have been summoned to appear before a grand jury have worked
for years to educate people about the impact of US wars abroad. They have
traveled to war-torn Colombia and Palestine to learn firsthand about the
devastation caused by US military aid and share their experiences upon
their return. It is outrageous that activists who organize for an end to
U.S. war and military aid and in support of peace and justice are being
investigated for material support for terrorism!  They are on the front
lines trying to end the war on terror.  These are people of conscience not

It is essential that we take a strong stand against this attempt to erode
our constitutional rights to speak out against our government. We must
defend our sisters and brothers who are being investigated and harassed by
the FBI and the Grand Jury process. The Anti-War Committee has been at the
frontlines in opposing US wars abroad. We cannot allow the government to
terrorize our activists in an attempt to silence our movement - your help
is needed for their defense. The legal costs of resisting the FBI and
grand jury harassment will be significant.

You can help by making a generous donation today online at or
by mail to: Committee to Stop FBI Repression P.O. Box 14183 Minneapolis,
MN 55414

This is a critical time for us to stand together and say no to the
terrorizing of dissent in this country!  Thank you for your support.
 - The Anti-War Committee

"The law will never make men free; it is men who have got to make the law
free."  Henry David Thoreau*

--------15 of 18--------

Date: Wed, 6 Oct 2010 13:06:16 -0500
From: Amber Garlan <agarlan [at]>
To: 'Diane J. Peterson' <birch7 [at]>,
     'St Paul Greens' <gpsp-list [at]>
Subject: Green candidate against Betty McCollum

Hi Greens,

I am so frustrated and disappointed with the lack of interest or action by
Rep. Betty McCollum for single payer health care, that when Diane asked me
to be a write in candidate for the 4th CD House of Representatives, I said

The insurance corporations are bankrupting families, businesses, the state
of Minnesota and the whole economy.  I have to get Rep. McCollum's
attention some how.  If you want to get a politician's attention, you run
against them.

State Senator John Marty has written a wonderful single payer health care
bill!  SF 118/HF 135 are the Senate and House numbers of the single payer
bill, the numbers will probably change this year.

I work in a mental health clinic, and my job is to find out everyone's
co-pay's, deductibles, if a prior authorization is necessary and if we are
in or out of network with each individual insurance plan.  My goal is to
eliminate my job!  Everybody in, nobody out, one comprehensive plan for
all regardless of age, income employment or health history is the goal I
am working for!  The state of Minnesota is one of the states that could
possibly be the first in the nation to pass single payer health care!

Minnesota could lead the country in single payer health care.

Single Payer health care NOW!

I am not going to ask anyone for a contribution, just write in my name for
4th CD House of Rep. when you vote 11/2/10.

Peace, Amber

--------16 of 18--------

Economics: Doing business as if people mattered
By Robert Jensen
Wednesday, October 06, 2010

When politicians talk economics these days, they argue a lot about the
budget deficit. That's crucial to our economic future, but in the
contemporary workplace there's an equally threatening problem - the
democracy deficit.

In an economy dominated by corporations, most people spend their work
lives in hierarchical settings in which they have no chance to participate
in the decisions that most affect their lives. The typical business
structure is, in fact, authoritarian - owners and managers give orders,
and workers follow them. Those in charge would like us to believe that's
the only way to organize an economy, but the cooperative movement has a
different vision.

Cooperative businesses that are owned and operated by workers offer an
exciting alternative to the top-down organization of most businesses. In a
time of crisis, when we desperately need new ways of thinking about how to
organize our economic activity, cooperatives deserve more attention.

First, the many successful cooperatives remind us that we ordinary people
are quite capable of running our own lives. While we endorse democracy in
the political arena, many assume it's impossible at work. Cooperatives
prove that wrong, not only by producing goods and services but by
enriching the lives of the workers through a commitment to shared
decision-making and responsibility.

Second, cooperatives think not only about profits but about the health of
the community and natural world; they're more socially and ecologically
responsible. This is reflected in cooperatives' concern for the "triple
bottom line" - not only profits, but people and the planet.

The U.S. government's response to the financial meltdown has included some
disastrous decisions (bailing out banks to protect wealthy shareholders
instead of nationalizing banks to protect ordinary people) and some
policies that have helped but are inadequate (the stimulus program). But
the underlying problem is that policymakers assume that there is no
alternative to a corporate-dominated system, leading to "solutions" that
leave us stuck with failed business-as-usual approaches.

It's crazy to trust in economic structures that have brought us to brink
of economic collapse. But even in more "prosperous" times, modern
corporations undermine democracy, weaken real community, and degrade the
ecosystem. New thinking is urgently needed. Politicians who talk about an
"ownership society" typically promote individual ownership of a tiny
sliver of an economy still dominated by authoritarian corporate giants. An
ownership society defined by cooperative institutions would be a

None of this is hypothetical - there are hundreds of flourishing
cooperative businesses in the United States. The United States Federation
of Worker Cooperatives,, provides excellent
information and inspiring stories. In Austin, a cooperative-incubator
group, Third Coast Workers for Cooperation,, offers training and support for people
interested in creating democratic workplaces.

Putting our faith in institutions that have become too big to fail has
failed. Institutions that are too greedy to defend can't be defended.
Cooperative businesses aren't a magical solution to the critical economic
problems we face, but a national economic policy that used fiscal and tax
policies to support cooperatives would be an important step on a different

--------17 of 18--------

Attention Left, Liberal and Radical Groups
Pennsylvania Has Been Monitoring You!
October 6, 2010

Thank you, Institute of Terrorism Research and Response (ITRR), for
reminding us how many bad-ass, dedicated, and creative groups we count as
allies in our efforts to create a more just world!

Our friends at, the Ruckus Society, Immokalee Workers, the new
SDS, Jobs with Justice, the Brandywine Peace Community, ANSWER, PETA, Stop
Huntington Animal Cruelty, MOVE, The Yes Men, Poor People's Economic Human
Rights Campaign, Climate Ground Zero, the Rainforest Action Network,
pro-Palestinian Groups, Puerto Rican nationalists, prisoners' rights
organizations, citizen conservation groups, and immigration activists
opposing Arizona's crazy attempts to criminalize all non-citizens should
know - Pennsylvania has been monitoring you.

Just over a month ago, ProPublica broke the story that Pennsylvania's
Office of Homeland Security contracted with the Institute of Terrorism
Research and Response (ITRR), a private Israeli-based company, to assess
terrorist threats impacting law enforcement priorities in Pennsylvania.

For almost a year, ITTR provided bi-weekly intelligence briefings to
Pennsylvania Homeland Security which focused in equal part on "jihadist"
communications and trainings throughout the world, and also social justice
organizing and protests across the country.

Pennsylvania Homeland Security, in turn, distributed this information to
800 federal, local and state law enforcement agencies, along with
"relevant stakeholders" like local businesses.  Information provided
included the political views and movement building strategies of hundreds
of law-abiding groups and individuals.

The targets of ITTR are not just Pennsylvania groups but also a veritable
who's who of left and liberal groups, including, the Ruckus
Society, Immokalee Workers, the new SDS, Jobs with Justice, the Brandywine
Peace Community, ANSWER, PETA, Stop Huntington Animal Cruelty, MOVE, The
Yes Men, Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign, Climate Ground
Zero, the Rainforest Action Network, pro-Palestinian Groups, Puerto Rican
nationalists, prisoners' rights organizations, citizen conservation
groups, and immigration activists opposing Arizona's crazy attempts to
criminalize all non-citizens.

In the scandal that followed PA Governor Rendell disavowed ITRR's focus on
First Amendment protected activity, and promised to end the contract.
Pennsylvania State Homeland Security Director Ed Powers resigned.  And in
response to significant public pressure, OHS published the hundred-odd
intelligence bulletins produced by ITTR over the last year on its website.
These bulletins are posted on the home page of the Pennsylvania Emergency
Management Agency.

As lawyers at the Center for Constitutional Rights, many of these groups
are longtime friends and allies.

Indeed, even our organization, CCR, itself gets a mention, as
"Pennsylvania Actionable Intelligence Bulletin No. 106" includes a lengthy
discussion of an ALF press release reminding activists that: "Nobody
Talks, Everybody Walks" and suggesting as further reading CCR's
know-your-rights pamphlet, "If an Agent Knocks".

CCR is succinctly described as "a veteran legal advocacy organization
devoted to a plethora of radical causes".  Well said!

But we shouldn't joke too much.

While ITTR frequently acknowledges that the groups whose first amendment
actions it has so closely monitored have no history of violence or
illegality, over and over they warn law enforcement of the risk of
violence and property destruction that accompanies protest.

Bulletin No. 6, for example, provides the details of an anti-war protest
at Lockheed Martin.  "TAM-C analysis have found no indication that this
protest will be disorderly" ITRR reports, but "Lockheed Martin is an [sic]
key commercial-resource . The possibility exists that the high-profile
nature of the target will attract radical protestors from the ranks of
local Communist and/or Anarchist movements".  Similarly, a Lancaster
protest against the desecration of Native American Graves appears to be a
"peaceful protest designed to conform to legal norms" but, "ITRR analysts
note the small, but present, risk that the above-mentioned issue may be
taken up by more radical elements, potentially including anarchists or
lone-wolf Native American rights supporters".

If there is one central theme to be taken from the bulletins, it is this:
dangerous anarchists are everywhere, and even the most peaceful protest
may turn violent.

ITTR provides not just dates and times, but "strategic analysis".  For
example, the November 20, 2009 Bulletin includes a lengthy and detailed
account entitled "the Return of Campus Activism".  Students everywhere are
organizing against increases in tuition, we are told.  Protests like one
at UC Davis, which included placards stating "Education only for the rich"
are not "spontaneous," but rather are "part of an international Anarchist
movement that has been coordinated through Internet postings".  If
"student are coordinating their activities" ITTR ominously concludes, "it
behooves law enforcement personnel from both the campus environment and
civil authorities . to start working on their coordinated responses".

Another exceptionally creepy bulletin includes a segment entitled "West
Chester Activists Hope to 'Build Momentum'". recounting an anti-war
activist group's attempts to mobilize people to attend anti-war
demonstrations in DC.  ITRR recounts "thus far, the group has: lectured to
college students, taken part in a protest organized by the West Chester
University branch of Students for a Democratic Society in opposition to
the troop surge in Afghanistan . and some members have helped put out a
radical newsletter".  Don't worry: "ITRR is monitoring anti-war activist
communications for additional planning related to Pennsylvania assets".

The extent of the "monitoring" here is far from clear.  Much of ITRR's
information clearly comes from organizations' own websites and press
materials, but the bulletins are laced with more sinister references to
"intercepted internal communications".

And not just groups are named, there are some references to individuals
too, including an inexplicably detailed bio and discussion of the
political views of the newly hired Executive Director of Rainforest Action

The Bulletins are so outrageous as to be almost comical, but the upshot is
not funny.

This is not an isolated incident.  While ITRR claims to have no other
governmental contracts, it seems clear that they generally perform just
this type of surveillance and monitoring of protest groups for
corporations who fear the impact of speech and organizing on their bottom
lines.  This explains the constant rants regarding the potential
dangerousness of animal rights and environmental activists: when
successful, such groups force corporations to internalize the harm they
cause to the environment and to the communities who stand in their way.

And yes, this contract may end shortly, but what has happened to the
hundreds of bulletins already distributed to law enforcement across the

There is a direct negative effect of consistently teaching law enforcement
that protestors pose national security risks has real effects on policing
and on enforcement respect for lawful protest.

Since 9-11 we have seen increased hurdles to dissent in the US.  Every
protest now not only brings out local cops but also is a potential
terrorist event monitored by Joint Terrorism Task Force personnel.  These
folks do not have any real terrorists to monitor so they are going after
First Amendment protected activities of freedom to assemble and freedom of

For an example, we need look no further than the Office of the Inspector
General report released last month, detailing what happens when an FBI
agent has a slow day.  It is titled A Review of the FBI's Investigations
of Certain Domestic Advocacy Groups, Office of the Inspector General,
Sept. 2010.  Available online at

Apparently the FBI has so little work to do they occasionally tell new
agents something like "you might as well go watch the crowd at a protest,
and hey, while you are there, be sure to photograph any folks who look
Middle-Eastern".  It is also noteworthy that this report only discusses
FBI surveillance which people outside the FBI have documented.

Reflect as well, on the recent series of FBI raids and grand jury
subpoenas issued to over a dozen anti-war and anti-imperialism activists.
Going to Palestine or Colombia for a solidarity trip and protesting at the
RNC?  Well, our country has FBI agents and Joint Terrorism Task Force
people to investigate you.

Our advice to you: take a look at the bulletins for yourself.  If you or
your group is named, make a stink about it.  Find out if your local law
enforcement offices have received the information, and demand they destroy
it.  And remember, at least you're in good company.

Bill Quigley and Rachel Meeropol are attorneys working with the Center for
Constitutional Rights.  You can reach Bill at quigley77 [at]

--------18 of 18--------

Rejecting the Lesser-of-Two-Evils Trap
A Voter's Manifesto
October 5, 2010

Our climate of anger, disgust, and helplessness has produced three quite
different exhortations regarding the election in November. All are
understandable yet ultimately inadequate because they fail to recognize
that the current economic disaster is nothing but the logical culmination
of a political sickness rooted in the two-party system itself. If the
objective is to prevent corporate rule then the most reasonable strategy
in November is to cast a vote for a multiparty democracy. Other approaches
merely tinker with the imminent expiry of what remains of American

The most dynamic manifestation of the current turmoil is the so-called Tea
Party, not really a party but simply the rightest wing of the GOP. With a
few victories in the primaries this would have been a remarkably
successful challenge to establishment incumbents were the Tea Party itself
not fomented by the establishment. The saddest aspect is the participation
of the economically insecure and downwardly mobile, unable to comprehend
the causes of the crisis, promoting an agenda that can only worsen their

The left is split. Among one segment, particularly the Democratic
center-left but including such solid comrades as The Nation's Katrina
vanden Heuvel, the lesser-of-two-evils argument is proclaimed with almost
hysterical vigor, drawing renewed strength from the rightward lurch of the

Another big chunk of the left, along with many in the middle and the right
and the obliquely outside, will simply not vote, voicing either an
explicit disappointment in the broken promise of change or a muted
recognition of a lack of efficacy.

All these reactions have some measure of truth - Throw the bums out! Don't
let the nutjobs seize control! Nothing changes so why bother? - yet all
fail to acknowledge the preeminent truth out our time: the all but
monotonic movement over the last 40 years toward elite rule by means of
corporations hindered only by the merest trappings of democratic

One term for this is corporatocracy, a 21st century neologism which seems
to not differ much from either plutocracy or oligarchy but might differ
from fascism, a 20th century neologism, in that it may not be quite as
violently repressive. It seems unlikely, however, that corporate rule,
once the legitimacy held only by democracies is lost, could maintain its
high levels of inequality without extreme violence. But whether we use the
f-word or the c-word or some other term it would be hard to deny the
assertion that we have moved, and continue to move, toward a system where
an elite dominate virtually all spheres of political and economic life.

What is the evidence for this extreme diagnosis? We must, of course, start
with the economy. The statistics are grim and undeniable. The mean income
of the richest 20% increased by $60,000 in real terms from 1974 to 2009.
The mean income of the poorest increased by $600 dollars over that same
period. The bottom 40% of the population have essentially no net worth;
the top 10% own over 70% of the country's wealth; the top 20% have 85%.
The official poverty rate is over 14%; if proper adjustments for the cost
of living had been used it could easily be twice that amount.

It is important that the current economic crisis not be seen merely as the
trough of a business cycle, even that of a particularly bad one. The
recession was the culmination of forty years of increasing inequality and
the resulting stagnation of the purchasing power of the middle and working
classes. The upswing was artificially extended and the collapse
exacerbated in large part by a transfer of money from the rich to the poor
via debt: a movement from those who consume a smaller share to those who
consume a larger share of their income. Now the tide has changed
direction: the repayment of debt means a transfer from those on the bottom
to those on the top. Consumer demand and growth will necessarily stagnate.
Inequality and unemployment are linked.

The very same forces that undermined the middle class and delivered tens
of millions of households to food stamps have strengthened the economic
elite. In part, wealth was redistributed upward through corporate welfare,
with warfare as one of the most effective means. Even more importantly
downward redistribution is a pittance: the highest marginal tax rates are
far too low and the rates on capital gains are unconscionable; there are
no family allowances here as in Europe; health insurance is private and
poorly regulated; college tuition is poorly subsidized. The weakness of
unions, built into our labor law, keeps downward pressure on wages and
allows profits to capture a bigger share of the pie.

One does not need to be a card-carrying Marxist to recognize the material
basis of the crisis. In Germany from 1928-1936 the share of income going
to the richest 5% of the population increased by 15%. In the United States
from 1980-2009 the increase was 32%. There was a 19% increase during the
dot-com decade, 1990-2000. The peak was in 2001 when the richest twentieth
took 22.4% of all income; the richest have fallen back slightly to 21.7%
in the wake of the financial crisis. By the way, the share of the richest
twentieth in Germany in 1936 was 23%. We're almost there.

In any case the cultural and political superstructure has moved pari passu
with the economy. We see a Christianity led by a sword-wielding savior.
According to a 2008 Gallup poll 44% of Americans believed that God created
man in his present form - the same percentage as in 1982; another 36%
believed God had a guiding hand in the process. Casual racism against
Arabs or Mexican immigrants is mainstream. Gays still can't marry and Fox
News leads in ratings. The culture stagnates along with wages.

The state, as the Tea Party correctly recognizes, is far too strong yet in
reality that power has been used on behalf of the oligarchy. Corporations,
it seems, are persons and money equals speech. The state is in the
business of extra-judicial kidnapping and assassination. Spying,
ostensibly designed to catch the next would-be Saudi bomber, in reality
targets environmentalists, anti-globalization protestors, and left-wing
activists in general. The U.S. leads the world in both the total number of
prisoners and the rate of incarceration, edging out Russia, our former
superpower rival.

What policies might reverse course? Marginal taxes on the richest ought to
be doubled, more or less. Same holds for the minimum wage, which today is
lower in real terms than in the 1960s and '70s. Existing labor law -
particularly the repressive Taft-Hartley Act - must largely be scrapped
and replaced with labor-friendly work councils and codetermination.
Anti-trust must make a vigorous comeback, starting with the four giant
financial institutions, still operating under the same disastrous
incentives that come with too-big-to-fail. Trade agreements that favor
capital over labor must be voided or entirely re-written. Healthcare
should become Medicare for all. The states need to commit to covering most
of the costs at their universities and colleges instead of hitting
struggling students with tuition to be paid back with interest.

To be successful it would take a massive redistribution of resources from
the wealthiest and most powerful to the poorest and least powerful. It
would be a dismantling of the
Military-Industrial-Financial-Prison-Security-Congressional complex. Who
would do this? Would the Praetorian Guard in the Pentagon and National
Security Establishment permit it? Who even talks of such things?

Certainly not the Tea Party.

And not the Democrats.

The most successful Democrat over the last 40 years, Bill Clinton, can't
be far to the left of Richard Nixon. Clinton, recall, gave us "Welfare
Reform," NAFTA, the Telecommunications Act, expanded government
wiretapping, a capital gains tax cut, Alan Greenspan (reappointed), and
deregulation of the financial sector. Just as important were his
nondecisions: he did almost nothing to strengthen labor or to defend the
environment. Defenders of his presidency should ask, "Were corporations
stronger or weaker at the end of his eight years?"

Obama's record to date suggests he is closer to Clinton than to FDR except
for the similarities in the condition of the economy. Despite strong
support from the electorate and supermajorities in Congress, Obama could
pass a version of healthcare "reform" only with the backroom support of
Big Pharma, providing a nice illustration of the relative balance of power
between corporations and the demos. Similarly it was Wall Street, not
homeowners, who received government largesse as a response to the housing
crisis. Workers are still waiting on the modest reform embodied in the
Employee Free Choice Act.

Obama was elected with a mandate for change. Large Democratic majorities
controlled Congress. The economic crisis provided as much political cover
as the party could ever need. This was the perfect moment to aggressively
regulate corporations and transfer income and wealth from the rich to the
working and middle classes. Instead the indifference and inefficacy of the
Democrats put corporate control into the sharpest possible relief. How is
it possible to look at the record of Obama and the 111th Congress and then
assert that the Democrats support the average worker over the elite?

One argument in favor of voting Democratic cites the Supreme Court. Yet
when the Republicans controlled the presidency the Democrats in the Senate
abetted the ascendance of the corporate representatives in black robes.
Let us not forget that the five votes in favor of corporate personhood in
Citizens United came from justices confirmed with votes by Democrats in
the Senate. (Those five justices, by the way, are all Roman Catholic,
suggesting, perhaps, that the American version of fascism will have more
of an Apennine than Teutonic flavor). The Democratic response to the
decision has been typically tepid: the occasional rhetorical condemnation
more than offset by the absence of a real counterattack on corporate

Some Democrats speak about the plight of the middle class, and may even
genuinely be sympathetic to the human suffering, but they are caught in a
system where promoting the interests of corporations is the best way to
promote their own immediate interests, i.e., reelection. Money from
corporations and the economic elite overwhelm the contributions from

According the Center for Responsive Politics on their wonderful site the Democratic Party so far in the 2010 election cycle has
received $3 million from labor. The party has received $31 million -yes,
that's 10 times as much - from the sector identified as Fire, Insurance
and Real Estate, more colloquially known as Wall Street. The Democrats
have received $14 million from communications/electronics and $10 million
from the health industry.

Those lower and middle class Americans who made $20 contributions to
Obama's presidential run are now perhaps realizing that their investments
were far too meager to earn any return, and maybe even feeling a bit silly
for imagining it could have been otherwise. It now seems likely many will
find a better use of their money in 2012, assuming they can still scrounge
up a Jackson.

Is there any observer of the American political scene who would deny that
the entire "political spectrum" has almost continually shifted rightward
over the last four decades? But this was no impersonal act of nature, some
law of increasing political entropy: the shift was the result of a
conservative discourse employed by politicians in both parties. Among
Democrats the corporate agenda normally gets packaged as
"bi-partisanship," which liberals happily take as a sign of their
reasonableness. But it doesn't really matter whether a vote in favor of
corporate rule was cast as a compromise - the effect on the distribution
of power and resources is the same regardless of intent.

Let me be quite explicit, because critiques like these are often used to
construct men of straw, that I believe the average Republican to be worse
than the average Democrat on virtually every issue. The argument here is
that even the lesser-of-two-evils is so bad that we need to radically
alter our strategy. Moves within the same game are no longer sufficient;
looking ahead merely a few steps we can see that American Democracy will
be in checkmate. Voting for Democrats is a tactic that, at best, will
delay the arrival of the corporatocracy.

While the lesser-of-two-evils argument is probably the most reasonable,
none of the three reactions to the current crisis weakens the oligarchy.
The Tea Party gives us Christ the Capitalist, defender of tax-free capital
gains. Those who stay home send a message that is too ambiguous and
uncoordinated to be properly received. To find a strategy for November we
must not weigh the pros and cons of these three distinct recommendations
but look instead for a common cause. The root problem, in this diagnosis,
is not merely the greed, cowardice, or corruption of particular incumbent
Democrats and Republicans, nor even of both party organizations in toto,
but rather the late-stage symptoms of a disease known as the two-party

The two-party system is not the result of any explicit preference by the
citizenry. It has little to do with tradition or culture or party loyalty.
Two parties emerge as a reasonable response to a particular arrangement:
single-member districts with plurality voting. Most Americans are woefully
ignorant of comparative politics and might regard this type of voting
simply as voting when, in fact, it is mostly confined to parts of the
English-speaking world (probably another reason for American ignorance of
the alternatives).

The empirical pattern between the type of voting system and the number of
viable parties is so clear that it is known as Duverger's Law, named after
the French sociologist who discovered it. What Duverger found, and what
has been repeatedly confirmed, are two empirical facts:

(1) single-member district plurality voting, as in the United States,
tends to produce only two viable parties and

(2) proportional representation and runoff voting tend to produce
multiparty systems.

While it's possible to find a counterexample, this one factor - the voting
system - explains more of the variation in the number of viable parties
than any other. The logic is simple: under a single-member district
plurality system vote-splitting among those who are ideologically similar
could give the victory to the least preferred candidate. It makes sense
for ideological blocs to congeal around only two parties to prevent this
dysfunction. And once established the forces of tradition and inertia can
certainly strengthen the rational basis.

Put most simply I assert the following argument: for various historical
reasons that today we can simply take as given labor has been weak
relative to business in the U.S. We also inherited plurality voting, with
its problem of vote-splitting, creating our two-party system. Both parties
became captured by the stronger economic elite. The politicians in the two
parties created a political-economic system that strengthened the initial
advantage of the economic elite. The ever-wealthier elite strengthened
their control over both parties.

The simplicity of this stylized account doesn't matter much if we are now
stuck in that last causal loop: (1) the economic elite control the
politicians in both parties; (2) The politicians pass laws that maintain
or expand the economic power of the plutocrats.

If indeed the two-party system is the central problem then it follows that
a multiparty democracy is the only solution. Duverger's law again applies.
Proportional representation is the most important factor in producing more
than two viable parties.

Imagine what would happen in November if we had proportional
representation. New parties on the left, right, and center would spring
into existence - tradition be damned! Both the Democrats and the
Republicans would get the thrashing they deserve. There would be no talk
of the enthusiasm gap. Yes, the Tea Partiers would pick up 15% of the vote
and therefore earn about that many seats in Congress, but Greens,
Progressives, Social Democrats, Socialists, and other parties of the left
would collectively do even better.

A party or coalition that spoke to the insecurities of the middle class
without the (tea) baggage of Christian fundamentalism, xenophobia, and
homophobia would carry the day. The cross-national data indicate that
countries with proportional representation have higher levels of equality
and have resisted the trend toward inequality followed by the U.S. and the
U.K. over the last 40 years.

Many of those on the left, while able to acknowledge the failings of both
the Democrats and the two-party system as well as the rise in inequality,
at this point generally respond with some type of pooh-pooh. Isn't
proportional representation unconstitutional? Or, nice idea, but it won't
work because we don't have a parliament.

Neither these nor any other fundamental objection exists. The House of
Representatives could easily move to version of proportional
representation simply by repealing a 1967 law that mandates single-member
districts. House delegations from each state could be elected at large. Or
large states like California could be broken into two, three, or four
multi-member districts. (The Senate, on the other hand, is essentially our
House of Lords and should be similarly debilitated or abolished outright.)

It is of secondary importance for the number of viable parties whether
elected officials work under a parliamentary system or something like the
U.S. Congress. If no party received a majority then several parties would
simply caucus together.

Instant runoff voting would be even easier because it does not require a
switch to multi-member districts but simply the ranking of candidates on
the ballot - a good start although it would likely not produce as many
viable parties as proportional representation.

So where do we stand? The country is suffering from corporate dominance.
The cause of the disease is plurality voting and the two-party system. If
we continue on this course the prognosis is full-blown corporatocracy or
fascism. The cure is the greater political and economic equality that
follow from a multiparty democracy. This can be realized only by adopting
proportional representation.

What is to be done? Although I fear that nothing can prevent our ultimate
decline into fascism, that it might be time to consider a strategy to
rebuild a democracy after a collapse, I suggest that a reasonable
counterattack for November is to link the push for a multiparty democracy
with a publicized decision-rule: Vote for candidates who commit to voting
reform, particularly proportional representation but also instant runoff
voting and public financing of campaigns.

That's it. Party affiliation should be irrelevant, unless more than one
candidate in the race supports voting reform. If no candidate supports
voting reform then don't vote but, importantly, make it known to the
candidates that you didn't support them for that reason.

This can easily be done via email. For example, I have contacted the
candidates running for federal office in my state and district, inquiring
of their views on proportional representation, instant runoff voting, and
public financing. So far, no response. On election day I will follow-up to
explain why I didn't support them.

This decision rule includes the three responses - the Tea Party, the
lesser-of-two-evils, and abstention - as particular cases: I would vote
for a tea-partying Republican who supported proportional representation;
voting for a Democrat who promoted voting reforms would be entirely
palatable; and I will be forced to abstain if no worthy candidate is in
the race.

It would also include as a fourth case, one largely ignored in the current
campaign season, a vote for a genuine "third" party or independent. Both
the Libertarians and Greens are good on voting reform. (Yet Ralph Nader,
surprisingly, does not seem to understand the importance of this issue or
perhaps prefers the role of spoiler as some have suggested.)

How might this voting rule be defended to a hysterical Democrat? If indeed
Democrats are the lesser-of-two-evils then appeals for procedural
fairness, that is, a more representative democracy, should be seen as a
reasonable demand. On the other hand, if the Democrats are not more
committed than Republicans to a fair voting system, the sine qua non of
democracy, then the rest of us don't need to take their moral posturing
very seriously.

Even so, to sweeten the deal for the Democrats I would offer an secondary
decision rule: If both a Democrat and a third-party candidate support
voting reform, then vote for the Democrat. This undermines the spoiler
charge; the responsibility for vote-splitting now rests with the

Nonetheless my central message is that we must reject the trap of the
lesser-of-two-evils. Democrats are moving us toward corporate rule just as
surely as the Republicans. If two cars are both driving toward a collapsed
bridge one should hardly be excited about getting inside the vehicle that
is traveling more slowly. Democrats who refuse to see the magnitude of the
oncoming crisis, or who see it but do nothing to reverse course, have no
moral claim to our votes.

We can make sense of our times only be recognizing that the root of our
problem is a two-party system that has been completely captured by the
economic elite. The solution will not be found by picking the best choice
among the available options but rather by transforming the system into a
genuine multiparty democracy. Therefore a vote in November for candidates
who support voting reform is the most reasonable strategy for preventing
corporate rule and for renewing our democracy.

Richard Anderson-Connolly is an Associate Professor of Comparative
Sociology at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma. He can be reached
at: raconnolly [at]


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