|Progressive Calendar 10.08.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|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. StopFBI.net - 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] umn.edu> 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] umn.edu> 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] gmail.com> 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 conference. --------4 of 18-------- From: Do It Green! Minnesota <Do_It_Green_Minnesota [at] mail.vresp.com> 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] doitgreen.org to register doitgreen.org/babyfoodworkshop http://cts.vresp.com/c/?twincitiesgreenguide/4792fcb5af/8acadfd1b4/aad80c6d4b --------5 of 18-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 10.09 1:30pm Meetings: Every Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Walker Church, 3104 16th Avenue South http://www.CUAPB.org Communities United Against Police Brutality 3100 16th Avenue S Minneapolis, MN 55407 Hotline 612-874-STOP (7867) --------6 of 18-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 10.09 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------7 of 18-------- Date: Thu, 7 Oct 2010 23:36:57 -0500 From: Sara M. Grant <sgrant04 [at] hamlineuniversity.edu> 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] aol.com Subject: Pentel/gov/Mayday 10.09 6:30pm Saturday, October 9th KP4G Fundraiser MayDay Bookstore 301 Cedar Ave. Mpls 55454 www.maydaybookstore.org 6:30p - 9p --------9 of 18-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> 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] comcast.net> 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 <http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/>http://www.stcroixvalleypeacemakers.com/ For more information you could call 651 275 0247 or 651 999 - 9560 --------11 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> 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: http://stopfbi.net/ For more information about Carrie's case, visit: http://davenportgrandjury.wordpress.com. --------12 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> 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] unamn.org> 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 www.worldwithoutgenocide.org/registerUNevent. [http://r20.rs6.net/tn.jsp?llr=mke9oddab&et=1103740521489&s=347&e=001ZvSWT0aNJ9iFxcgoOpbLyksSV2EP20oeeVV61k3qsaEU8QMMrZpXYWfTdQVxv3-zGDSF9BbtRmXfgspiNp9XL0vh5WbD2EVVtoV2UlRwSEqrG4U34zGrhkVv5JD60Oqpne5N5jpjSIkN_hyVMdoJ6Q==] Two CLE credits are available. Continuing education credit is available for teachers. For additional information, contact 952-693-5206 or info [at] worldwithoutgenocide.org [mailto:info [at] worldwithoutgenocide.org] 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] unamn.org --------14 of 18-------- Date: Fri, 8 Oct 2010 00:15:23 -0500 From: Sue Ann <seasnun [at] gmail.com> Subject: Your Help is Needed to Defend Constitutional Rights Your help is needed to defend Constitutional rights! StopFBI.net 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 StopFBI.net 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 StopFBI.net or call 612-379-3899. 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 criminals! 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 stopfbi.net 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] hammclinic.org> To: 'Diane J. Peterson' <birch7 [at] comcast.net>, 'St Paul Greens' <gpsp-list [at] lists.mngreens.org> 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 OK. 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 game-changer. None of this is hypothetical - there are hundreds of flourishing cooperative businesses in the United States. The United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives, http://www.usworker.coop/, provides excellent information and inspiring stories. In Austin, a cooperative-incubator group, Third Coast Workers for Cooperation, http://thirdcoastworkers.coop/, 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 path. --------17 of 18-------- Attention Left, Liberal and Radical Groups Pennsylvania Has Been Monitoring You! By BILL QUIGLEY and RACHEL MEEROPOL October 6, 2010 CounterPunch 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 MoveON.org, 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 MoveON.org, 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 Network. 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 country? 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 speech. 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 http://www.justice.gov/oig/special/s1009r.pdf 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] gmail.com --------18 of 18-------- Rejecting the Lesser-of-Two-Evils Trap A Voter's Manifesto By RICHARD ANDERSON-CONNOLLY October 5, 2010 CounterPunch 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 Democracy. 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 position. 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 Republicans. 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 governance. 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 personhood. 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 labor. According the Center for Responsive Politics on their wonderful site opensecrets.org 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 system. 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 Democrats. 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] pugetsound.edu. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress for governor now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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