Progressive Calendar 10.21.10
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2010 01:43:24 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R    10.21.10

1. Ken Pentel/KFAI     10.21 9am
2. Farheen Hakeem/KFAI 10.21 9:30am
3. Eagan peace vigil   10.21 4:30pm
4. Northtown vigil     10.21 5pm
5. 4CD candidates      10.21 6pm
6. Pentel/Hamline      10.21 6:30pm
7. Stop FBI            10.21 7pm
8. Iraq/middle class   10.21 7pm
9. Catholic/gay marry  10.21 7pm
10. Amnesty Intl       10.21 7:15pm

11. Palestine vigil    10.22 4:15pm
12. Merriam potluck    10.22 6:30pm
13. Coleen Rowley      10.22 7:30pm

14. Peace walk         10.23 9am Cambridge MN
15. Health advocacy    10.23 9:30am StPeter MN
16. Wool/books/bakery  10.23 10am
17. Bioneers           10.23-24
18. Protest Obama/FBI  10.23 11:30am
19. CUAPB              10.23 1:30pm
20. Northtown vigil    10.23 2pm

21. StopFBI-MN  - 62 MN legislators sign letter condemning FBI raids!
22. Grace Kelly - The many ways of Sheriff Bob Fletcher's mis-management
23. Philippe Marlire - France erupts; Sarkozy under siege
24. Tariq Ali   - A tale of two nations: red hot France; tepid Britain
25. Charles Sullivan - America's false consciousness
26. Joel Hirschhorn  - How voting perpetuates evil

--------1 of 26--------

From: lydiahowell [at]
Subject: Ken Pentel/KFAI 10.21 9am

Thur.Oct. 21, 9am: KFAI Radio
90.3 fm Mpls/106.7 fm St.Paul
ONLINE:Live-streaming & archived for 2 weeks each program's
page at

9 AM:CATALYST:politics & culture, hosted by Lydia Howell, with special
guest co-host Dustin Hinz interviewing KEN PENTEL running for Minnesota
Governor on the ECOLOGY DEMOCRACY PARTY. Pentel digs deep into the
structural problems of the electoral system and economy that are
destroying our environment and increasing inequality as wealth is
conentrating in fewer hands.

--------2 of 26--------

From: lydiahowell [at]
Subject: Farheen Hakeem/KFAI 10.21 9:30am

9:30 AM NORHTERN SUN NEWS, hosted by Don Olson.
90.3 fm Mpls/106.7 fm St.Paul

Hear from FARHEEN HAKIM, running for MInnesota Governor on the GREEN
PARTY. Hakim previously ran for Minneapolis mayor and has a long history
of peace and justice activism. She's been a voice for youth, civil
liberties and confronting anti-Muslim discimination. Also hear from ANNIE
YOUNG, also of the GREEN PARTY,who is running for re-election on the
Hennepin Park and Rec Board.

--------3 of 26--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 10.21 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.

--------4 of 26--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 10.21 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------5 of 26--------

To: birch7 [at]
Subject: 4CD candidates 10.21 6pm

Minnesota Women's Building, 550 Rice St., St. Paul, MN  55103
4th Congressional District
Candidate Forum
Steve Carlson
Teresa Collett
Betty McCollum
[As usual, minor party candidates are excluded. Let them know you don't
like that. Give McCollum a piece of your mind. Vote instead for Amber
Garlan, Green. -ed]

Thursday October 21, 2010
6:00-7:30 p.m.
Wilder Center Auditorium
451 Lexington Parkway N.
near University Ave
Free and open to the public

--------6 of 26--------

From: PRO826 [at]
Subject: Pentel/Hamline 10.21 6:30pm

Thursday, October 21st

6:30pm- Hamline University, sponsored by the Native American Student
Association, Sorin Hall, A&B room, Englewood & Hewitt streets

--------7 of 26--------

From: kimd <kimdefranco [at]>
Subject: Stop FBI 10.21 7pm

Solidarity Meeting to defend anti-war activists and to resist the FBI
harassment and repression We still won't be Silenced!

Thanks to Everyone one who are coming to the meetings and getting involved
to stop the FBI harassment and repression. Defend the right to dissent!
Defend international solidarity with peoples' movements around the world.

Last Thursday Oct 14's meeting was canceled.
HOWEVER This Thursday Oct 21's meeting is on - 7 PM @ WALKER CHURCH (3104
16th Ave S)

Next meeting after that: Thursday, November 4th  @ 7 PM @ WALKER CHURCH

--------8 of 26--------

From: Joe Schwartzberg <schwa004 [at]>
Subject: Iraq/middle class 10.21 7pm

Free and open to the public

Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Avenue, Minneapolis
(at Lyndale and Hennepin). Park in church lot.
Thursday, October 21, 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Iraq's on-going middle-class refugee disaster is a crucial, but seldom
acknowledged, reason why peace in Iraq remains so elusive.  Forty percent
of Iraq's professional class is now among the 4.7 million refugees
displaced in neighboring countries. This is an unmitigated disaster, a
shattered nation that desperately needs its native professional class to
rebuild. Filmed in Syria and Jordan, and shot in the verité style, The
Unreturned lets the displaced Iraqis speak for themselves. It vividly
portrays the lives of five such individuals from different ethnicities and
religions and chronicles the ways by which they cope with adversity.
Discussion will follow the showing of this 70-minute film. Come early so
as not to miss anything.

Presenter: NATHAN FISHER. Fisher has an MA in documentary filmmaking from
the New School University in New York. His films situate individual
experience within a context of broader social forces.  Critically
acclaimed, The Unreturned was voted the "best" of the 2010 Minneapolis-St.
Paul International Film Festival and was described in City Pages as
"artful and unflinching, - a feat of remarkable cinematic agility."
Prior to making that work, Fisher produced and co- edited Gimme Delta, a
2008 documentary on suburban development and urban sprawl in the San
Francisco Bay area. He was recently awarded a Jerome Foundation grant for
emerging artists.

Respondent: SAMI RASOULI. An Iraqi-american businessman, Rasouli returned
to Iraq after the US invasion and works there with the Muslim Peacemakers
team. His contacts are very broad and he is up to date on developments in
his native country.

Sponsor Organizations: Minnesota Chapter, Citizens for Global Solutions;
Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers; United Nations Association of
Minnesota; Social Concerns Committee, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist

--------9 of 26--------

From: Amber Garlan <agarlan [at]>
Subject: Catholic/gay marraige 10.21 7pm

On Thursday 10/21/10 from 7:00 to 9:00 in the evening Daniel Maguire will
talk on "Why you can be Catholic and support gay marriage".
St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral, 519 Oak Grove St., Minneapolis, MN 55403.

--------10 of 26--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at]>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 10.21 7:15pm

AIUSA Group 315 (Wayzata/Western suburbs) meets on Thursday, October 21st,
at 7:15 p.m. at St. Luke Presbyterian Church, 3121 Groveland School Road,
Wayzata (near the intersection of Rt. 101 and Minnetonka Blvd).

--------11 of 26--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Palestine vigil 10.22 4:15pm

The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the
intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo
starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs

--------12 of 26--------

From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at]>
Subject: Merriam potluck 10.22 6:30pm

2010 Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace Potlucks
We hold a monthly potluck at a member's home or go out to dinner together
- usually on a Friday at 6:30 p.m.
Friday, October 22, 2010

Please e-mail info [at] or call Anne at (651) 647-0580 or Krista at
(651) 641-7592 for more information.

--------13 of 26--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Coleen Rowley 10.22 7:30pm

Coleen Rowley: "Civil Rights and Effective Investigations"
Friday, October 22, 7:30 p.m. Twin Cities Friends Meeting House, 1725
Grand Avenue, St. Paul.

Coleen Rowley exposed the FBI's mishandling of information related to the
9/11 attacks and was named one of Time Magazine's Persons of the Year in
2002. Coleen is a staunch member of Minnesota's peace community. Endorsed
by: WAMM. FFI: Call Don, 612-724-3061.

--------14 of 26--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
Subject: Peace walk 10.23 9am Cambridge MN

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

--------15 of 26--------

From: Bonnie Watkins <bonnie [at]>
Subject: Health advocacy 10.23 9:30am StPeterMN

October 23: Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition and the Campaign for
the MN Health Plan Organizing and Advocacy Training on the Minnesota
Health Plan. Full day education and advocacy held from 9:30 AM - 3 PM.
Morning education session only held from 9:30 AM - 12:30 PM at Saint Peter
Senior Center, 600 S Fifth St., Suite 219. St., Saint Peter.
Pre-registration required. Suggested donation: $25 full day; $10 students;
$15 morning only.

--------16 of 26--------

From: "Susan Hensel Design,LLC" <Susan_Hensel_Design_LLC [at]>
Subject: Wool/books/bakery 10.23 10am

Coming Soon! As if the Wool Market Isn't Enough!
South Minneapolis Wild Wool Market Returns!
Saturday,October 23, 10-4 - ,

The wool market returns with lots of fibery goodness. Come to 3441 Cedar
Ave S, Minneapolis, to see some of your favorite fiber people in action!
You will find materials for spinning, felting & knitting; tapestry;
weaving demonstrations and completed weavings; spinning demos; recycled
fibers and MORE!

Barbara Koppang Susan Hensel Pauline Mitchell Chiaki O'Brien Pam Angier
Stephanie Moss Kat Corrigan

The annual Corcoran Book Sale event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 23
from 9:00 to 4:00 featuring books of all kinds priced from $0.50 to $2.50,
as well as baked goods. Proceeds from the sale benefit CNOs work. The book
sale is in the Corcoran Office, at the corner of Cedar Ave. and 35th St.,
just 3 doors south of Susan Hensel Gallery!

What could be better?  Wool + Books + Baked Goods + Coffee! [Belly dance?

--------17 of 26--------

From: lydiahowell [at]
Subject: Bioneers 10.23-24

Northland Sustainable Solutions presents:

5th annual Northland Bioneers Conference
October 23-24, 2010
Macalester College, St. Paul, MN

Join us for this inspiring weekend, now a Twin Cities tradition!
Keynote lectures and panels given by local and regional experts
Workshops on relocalizing our food, solar and wind energy, many other topics
Neighborhood networking, facilitated by the Alliance for Sustainability
Exhibits by local businesses and non-profit groups

Keynotes by:
 Dr. Massoud Amin, Director of Technology at the U of MN, Expert on the
need for a "smart" electrical grid in the U. S.
 Dr. Roopali Phadke, Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Policy
and Politics at Macalester, whose research is on water issues and
environmental awareness around the world
 Timothy DenHerder-Thomas, 2009 graduate of Macalester, recipient of the
Mario Savio award, founder of the national student group Summer of
 Bill and Rebecca Wilson, Midwest Permaculture


--------18 of 26--------

From: Meredith Aby <riot369 [at]>
Subject: Protest Obama/FBI 10.23 11:30am

Obama: Stop the Attacks on the Anti-War Movement!
Saturday, October 23rd @ U of M Northrop Auditorium, 84 Church St SE,
11:30 - Meet in front of Coffman Union to pick up "Stop FBI" outreach
12:00 - AWC rally starts in front of Northrop Auditorium, Gates open for
Obama event at 1:00 pm.

President Obama is coming to MN. While he's here lets take our message to
him directly and demand that he call off the grand jury and stop
repressing the anti-war movement! We'll be posting more details soon!
Initiated by the Anti-War Committee. For more info go to or

--------19 of 26--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: CUAPB 10.23 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)

--------20 of 26--------

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 10.23 2pm

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

--------21 of 26--------

Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2010 18:58:18 -0700
From: deblkon [at]
Subject: [StopFBI-MN] 62 legislators sign on to letter/resolution
condemning FBI raids!
To: stopfbi-mn [at]

Rep Clark and Sen Berglin introduced a resolution at the Special Session
on Monday to show support for the anti-war activists targeted by the FBI
and to disavow the FBI practices threatening civil liberties.  They also
circulated a letter addressed to the MN Congresspeople, Senators Klobuchar
and Franken and President Obama which contained the resolution.  62
Senators and Representatives (about 1/3 of the legislature) signed on to
this letter. We were also told that more would have signed on had there
been more time to ciruculate it (the Special Session lasted less than 3
hours). [Applause - ed]

--------22 of 26--------

Date: Thu, 21 Oct 2010 15:15:03 +1300 (NZDT)
From: "Grace Kelly (nicknamed Kelly)" <thegracekelly [at]>
To: stpaul-issues [at]
Subject: [SPIF] The Many Ways of Sheriff Bob Fletcher Mis-Management

In Bob Fletcher's time as Ramsey County Sheriff, he has gone over $5
million over budget. He sued for the right to go over budget. Contrast
this overspending with all the other law enforcement agencies, like the St
Paul police force, that managed to stay in budget. However the budget is
just a symptom of Sheriff Fletcher's mis-management. My 15 years of
experience as corporate project manager told me that if the money is
mismanaged, then I should look further.

On videos, I have retired and reserve deputies talking about how the focus
of the Sheriff's department has become more towards getting Bob Fletcher
re-elected and less towards providing public safety. Instead of offering
promotions and positions based on seniority and merit, promotions and
positions are based on being "Friends of Bob". A "Friend of Bob"
volunteered or donated to Bob Fletchers campaign, did favors for Bob or
just did what Bob asked. Sometimes some of those requests for were for
actions that should not have been done. I am using the term, "Friends of
Bob", because that is what the system is called inside the department.

Just like the Metro Gang Strike Force where Bob Fletcher had a key
leadership role, there is severely missing or sloppy paperwork. Written
evaluations are never done. Manual and processes are not reviewed and
revised. The rules of process and procedures are not followed, even
threatening the safety of lives. For example, proper procedures like
checking people in the jail regularly would prevent deaths. Sheriff
Fletcher's jail has had deaths from medical reasons and from suicide.

On video, Retired Ramsey County Deputy Cynthia Bell describes how training
was be limited because extra funds would run out in September. Funds were
spent on creating special programs or units like the "Cold Case" unit that
was created to investigate one of Chief Finney's old cases. Sheriff
Fletcher was running against Chief Finney at the time. Assignments to
the new units were based on being "Friends of Bob".

Evie Pedersen, a retired Ramsey County deputy, also describes the
political patronage system of Sheriff Fletcher. Evie volunteered on a
Ramsey County Sheriff Fletcher campaign and therefore received better job
assignments. Specifically she received an choice "Asian Gang" special unit
assignment. Later, Evie testifies that when she did not do and would not
agree with everything that Bob Fletcher wanted, that she was constantly
moved about. When Bob Fletcher took over the Sheriff's department, the
seniority system was discarded, and assignments were based on Bob
Fletcher's favor. These are the examples of what Retired Ramsey County
Deputy Evie Pedersen observed:

* In a quickly planned trip, Evie observed Sheriff Bob Fletcher and 4
deputies jump in a van to check out how gang force units operate in

* Despite shortages of equipment, an 18 person van was purchased to
transport Asian youth around, for social purposes, not law enforcement
purposes. This van was only used for Asian youth and no other minorities.
There is a rumor that a second van was purchased, after she left the

* In one of Evie's positions, she prepared sex offender notifications that
she never observed being distributed.

* People were paid from different budgets that are not necessarily the
assignments that they were working on.

* Evie describes how she used a computer for years of work that had been
seized in a search warrant and not returned.

* Evie describes how outsiders had been picked from outside the Sheriff's
department and given top positions, sometimes with newly created titles.

* Evie recommends that an audit be done in Sheriff' Fletcher's department.

An anonymous source described to me how Bob Fletcher once even created a
new job position just for a demotion. This means that people's time and
skills are not being effectively or efficiently used. I once observed over
10 Ramsey county deputies who waited around for a whole morning just to
provide a visual presence for Bob Fletcher when he testified before a
state committee meeting. Speakers are scheduled ahead of time so all the
deputies could do was stand or sit around.

Reserve Deputy James Hereaux also describes Sheriff Fletcher's punitive
management style on video. Not only are deputies expected to work on
campaigns, they are expected to put up campaign signs illegally.

Collaborating evidence is found Bob Fletcher's financial statements.
According to my rough counts, in the last Bob Fletcher finance report,
there are 58 donors (31%) that list the Ramsey County Sheriff's office
address. Another 58 donors (31%) list "Best Effort" which I think means
they made failed to get paperwork which is also supports the claims of a
management style that does not go through proper procedure and paperwork.
Those "Best Effort" donors could all also be from Ramsey County. So only
73 donors (38%) are known to be from diverse sources.

Collaborating evidence is also from this portion of a letter published in
Highland Villager, October 13 - 26, 2010, by Ron Petrusson from Summit

"I'm a recently retired commander in the Ramsey County Sheriff's Office. I
served under Bob Fletcher for his 16-year-tenure. I was a Fletcher
supporter in his first and even his second term. However, as time went on,
it became apparent that FLetcher cared much less for public safety and the
citizens of Ramsey County than he did for his own agenda and continued

Fletcher has appointed more than 30 friends, relatives, and political
workers outside of the normal civil service hiring channels. He lost a
$750,000 lawsuit for transferring and in essence demoting a lieutenant and
sergeant who had opposed him in the previous election. There have been no
measurements of performance in place. Fletcher's political appointees,
however, are brought in a high rank and pay levels.

Wasteful spending has been the hallmark of Fletcher's tenure. Although
Fletcher denies overspending his budget, the fact is that he has overspent
a minimum of $5 million in his combined annual budgets. Additionally,
taxpayer funds have been used to directly enhance Bob Fletcher's campaign
efforts. For example, when Bill Finney ran for sheriff, Fletcher opened
and outreach center in the African-American community:Costs fro building
rental, staffing and equipment for this center ran into hundreds of
thousands of dollars. At the same time, Fletcher created a previously
nonexistent Cold Case Unit to reopen the Barbara Winn homicide case in
which Finney's friend Aaron Foster was a suspect. The Cold Case Unit has
not existed since that investigation. Under Fletcher, the Sheriff's Office
has never had a strategic plan. The Sheriff's policy and procedure manual
has not been updated in 16 years."

Ramsey county pays an incredible number of civil rights lawsuits because
Bob Fletcher's mismanagement like a $750,000 lawsuit from an employee who
campaigned against him. There is even a current pending civil lawsuit that
Chris Tayson has against Sheriff Bob Fletcher and his department. Internal
affairs is widely used as leverage as well as punishment assignments,
sometimes to have people take the blame for something that they are not
to blame for. Then the Sheriff can claim the one-bad-apple defense when
in truth Sheriff Fletcher's mismanagement is the cause. If there is civil
lawsuit, it is usually settled out of court with a gag order. Notice how
Sheriff Fletcher wins in all possible outcomes and Ramsey county does not
get to even find out about our poor law enforcement service. Even with
the gag orders that prevent people from talking about what happened, you
would think that the sheer numbers and amounts of civil lawsuits would
tell the story.

The people who believe in the second amendment civil rights of gun
carrying have had extraordinary courage in telling about the Fletchers
mis-management. Fletcher has the highest denials in the state, over 10%.
Not only are the denials high but a person, Michelle Rae Wilson, was
approved, who should not have been approved. She later committed murder.
Through this event, it was discovered that Sheriff Fletcher's department
was very sloppy in matching names to do the paperwork checking, so the
reports of two different people were credited to only one person.

Collaborating evidence of Bob Fletcher's effect on other law enforcement
groups from former Chief John Harrington, available on video:

"I have had cases where civilian staff with no law enforcement staff at
all were in my briefings and we had to toss them out."

And then there is the ultimate proof of mismanagement when two top level
employees of Sheriff Fletcher's department are now convicted felons:

"Two former employees of the Ramsey County Sheriff's Department were
sentenced Friday to nearly three years in prison after a federal jury
found them guilty of conspiracy and theft of government funds."  (Fox

The strongest testimonial is 130 major endorsements that Fletcher's
opponent, Matt Bostrom, is receiving from all over Ramsey county, from
both parties and from diverse issue related groups because they have all
had interactions with the current Sheriff's department.

You might now be wondering, why there is so much evidence in one letter
and why I saved it to write all at once. I am doing this to protect the
people who speak out. I talked to many people who who have experience
inside the Sheriff's office. Most would only speak off the record, however
people who go into law enforcement usually want to be heroes. And there
are a few heroes who are going on the record. Many anonymous sources
support what is being said on the record and no one gave me contradictory
evidence. Let's make something clear, people who speak out against
Fletcher are taking on the strong risk of Sheriff Fletcher's
vindictiveness, so speaking out is a strong act of courage. These people
speaking out are heroes!

Grace Kelly nicknamed Kelly Still Speaking Out in Merriam Park
Complete article with links and videos here:

--------23 of 26--------

France Erupts
Sarkozy Under Siege
October 20, 2010

When he entered the Elyse palace in 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy dreamed of a
glorious destiny. Enthusiastic commentators predicted that his casual
populism would revamp the Bonapartist right, and that his Gallic brand of
neoliberal policies would sell the "American dream" to a mistrustful
population. Things have not gone according to plan. Sarkozy wanted to be
the French JFK; today he looks more like Louis XVI awaiting trial in 1793.
He may escape the guillotine, but his presidency is now under siege.

The French are deeply unhappy with the way they have been governed, but
their main grievance is about pension reform, which is seen as a cynical
ploy to make ordinary people work more for inferior entitlements, while
bailed-out bankers and the rich get tax rebates and continue to enjoy the
high life. Over the past month, six national demonstrations have gathered
together an estimated average of 3.5 million per action day. The latest,
on Tuesday, was again a big success.

The movement is popular: 69% of the nation back the strikes and
demonstrations; 73% want the government to withdraw the reform. And high
school pupils have now joined the fray. Over 1,000 high schools are on
strike as the youngsters take to the streets to protest against mass
unemployment and the raising of the retirement age. The government has
patronisingly labelled them as "manipulated kids", but these comments have
backfired and served only to galvanise the young, who have hardened their
resistance and taken further interest in the reform. When interviewed by
the media, pupils come across as articulate and knowledgable. Parents
worry about their children's future, so they will not stop them from

In France, strikes and demonstrations are seen as a civilised and
effective way to enact one's citizenship. Students are expected to join
marches from an early age, receiving by the same token a "political
education". France's youth have always scared governments because of their
radical potential. Student demonstrations of late have been invariably
popular because people know that the young have been badly hit by
unemployment over the past 30 years.

University students are preparing to strike as well. Sarkozy, like Louis
XVI in 1789, does not seem to have grasped how volatile the situation has
become. He should know better. Since May 1968, all governments have been
forced on the ropes every time youngsters have entered a social movement.
This time it could prove crucial in helping to reach a tipping point; a
stage in the conflict where the balance of power switches from the
government toward those opposing the pension reform.

Last week, Sarkozy had to send in riot police to reopen fuel depots
blocked by strikes in several places. Yet several hundred filling stations
had to shut because they had run out of supplies. Lorry and train drivers
are also starting strike actions.

How can the current situation be interpreted? Undoubtedly, the rebellion
seems durable and runs deeper than the question of pensions. The reform
has triggered a web of collective actions that are now spreading fast.
Discontent is fuelled by low incomes and unemployment, but also by the
impact of the crisis on people's daily life, the arrogance of the Sarkozy
presidency, corruption cases and police brutality.

There is a sense of moral outrage at the imposition of a neoliberal
medicine to cure an illness caused by the same neoliberal policies. The
French are not hostile to reforms: they just demand those that
redistribute wealth and allocate resources to those who need it the most.
Any comparison with May '68, however, may be hasty. Then, France was
experiencing a period of economic prosperity. Today, events occur in the
context of a deep economic depression. This is why the political situation
is potentially explosive. Radicalised workers and youngsters are forcing
the unions to up their game. The normally toothless Socialist party has
pledged to return the retirement age to 60, should it come back to power
in 2012.

One can envisage two possible scenarios. Opposition to the reform hardens,
in which case Sarkozy may have to water it down or even withdraw it. This
would mark the first major popular victory in Europe against the post-2008
neoliberal order. Alternatively, Sarkozy stays put and imposes a deeply
unpopular reform, in which case the political price to pay for the
incumbent president would be very high, should he decide to run again in

Philippe Marlire is professor of French and European politics at
University College, London (UK). He can be reached at
p.marliere [at]

--------24 of 26--------

A Tale of Two Nations
Red Hot France; Tepid Britain
October 20, 2010

France is grinding to a standstill as millions of workers and students
erupt in the streets at the government's prposal to raise the retirement
age from 60 to 62. Across the Channel, the new Tory Chancellor has
announced savage cuts in public expenditures that will slice away more
than a million jobs, drive workers out of south east England and doom the
country to years of austerity (unequally imposed, bien sur.) Yet the
response has been muted. [Sounds like spineless wimpy on-our-knees America

A few years ago, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy told an interviewer
that he knew the French better than most. Today, he confided, they were
admiring the good looks of his wife; tomorrow they would cut his throat.
It hasn't quite come to that just yet, but the French - students and
workers, men and women, citizens all - are out on the streets again. A
rise in the pension age? Impossible. The barricades are up, oil supplies
running out, trains and planes on a skeleton schedule and the protests are
still escalating. More than three million people a week ago. Hundreds of
thousands out this week, a million yesterday, and more expected this
weekend. And what a joyous sight: school students marching in defense of
old people's rights. Were there a Michelin Great Protest guide, France
would still be top with three stars, with Greece a close second with two

What a contrast with the miserable, measly actions being planned by the
lily-livered English trade unions. There is growing anger and bitterness
here too, but it is being recuperated by a petrified bureaucracy. A ritual
protest has been planned, largely to demonstrate that they are doing
something. But is this something better than nothing?

Perhaps. I'm not totally sure. But even these mild attempts to rally
support against the austerity measures are too much for dear leader Ed
Miliband. He won't be seen at them. He has renegued on a promise - made
when he was seeking union support for his leadership bid) to show up at a
union rally. The rot of Blairism goes deep in the Labour party. A crushing
defeat last year might have produced something a bit better than the
shower that constitutes the front bench. Ed Balls, the bulldog, might have
gone for the jugular but he has been neutered. Instead, the new front
bench is desperate to prove that it could easily be part of the coalition
and not just on Afghanistan.

There is growing bitterness and growing anger in England, too, but not
much else so far. It could change. The French epidemic could spread, but
nothing will happen from above. Young and old fought against Thatcher and
lost. Her New Labor successors made sure that the defeats she inflicted
were institutionalized.

This is a country without an official opposition. An extra-parliamentary
upheaval is not simply necessary to combat the cuts, but also to enhance
democracy that at the moment is designed to further corporate interests
and little more. Bailouts for bankers and the rich, an obscene level of
defense expenditure to fight Washington's wars, and cuts for the less well
off and the poor. A topsy-turvy world produces its own priorities. They
need to be contested. These islands have a radical past, after all, that
is not being taught in the history modules on offer. Given the inability
of the official parliament to meet real needs why not the convocation of
regional and national assemblies with a social charter that can be fought
for and defended just as Shelley advised just under two centuries ago,
shortly after the massacre of workers at Peterloo.

 Ye who suffer woes untold
 Or to feel or to behold
 Your lost country bought and sold
 With a price of blood and gold.
 [. . .]
 Rise like Lions after slumber
 In unvanquishable number,
 Shake your chains to earth like dew
 Which in sleep had fallen on you.
 Ye are many, they are few.

Tariq Ali's latest book "The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War
Abroad" is published by Verso this month.

--------25 of 26--------

America's False Consciousness
by Charles Sullivan
October 20th, 2010
Dissident Voice

An essay authored by Patrick Martin, and published at the World Socialist
Web Site on October 13, 2010, revealed some interesting findings regarding
the approval ratings of Democratic and Republican members of Congress.
Martin's piece was titled "Demagogy and Duplicity: The Democrats in the
2010 Elections:. He cites data from a Zogby International Poll of
independent voters which found that "only 13% gave a favorable rating to
congressional Democrats and only 5% to Congressional Republicans".
Considering that the U.S. is the most conservative developed nation on
earth, these are astonishing revelations.

Poll after poll indicates that voters have lost faith in the Democratic
and Republican Parties, whose respective approval ratings have fallen to
historical lows. The Zogby findings indicate a repudiation of right-wing
politics by those who are not wed to either of the major political

No one associates liberalism with the Republicans; however, it is equally
clear that the Democrats do not have a functioning left-wing either. The
electoral choices are between right-wing candidates in the Democrat and
Republican parties, despite the offerings of political parties and
organizations operating outside of the mainstream. As a result, all of the
contests are between pro-corporate candidates who occupy the extreme right
of the political spectrum. The only message that reaches the public ear is
that of the ruling class. Thus the continuity of results is assured.

The paradox is that while independent working class people have
overwhelmingly rejected right-wing policies, the country nevertheless
continues to lurch further to the right. This happens when voters mistake
politicians like Obama for a liberal or a Socialist. Conservative and
liberal working class people should be philosophically and ethically
opposed to any political party that undermines their social and economic

Almost inexplicably, conservatives continue to identify themselves with
Republicans and liberals with Democrats. Traditional conservatives and
traditional liberals, while still in existence, are politically extinct.
Neither conservatives nor liberals are organized into a viable political
force. They are fighting one another while the super-rich are looting the
public treasure and privatizing the public domain.  Traditional
conservatives and traditional liberals were replaced by neoconservatives
and neoliberals, which are entirely different animals. We behave as if the
terms "conservative" and "liberal" and the parties they were traditionally
associated with continue to exist and function the way they did in the

Liberalism no longer finds articulation in the Democratic Party. Cynthia
McKinney may have been the last truly liberal Democrat. McKinney, like the
liberal wing of the party itself, was abandoned when the party sold out
its liberal base to pursue corporate bribes in order to compete with the
Republicans. As a result, the left continues to ineffectually grope for
political expression.

The trouble is that the people do not comprehend who or what the real
enemy is. Let me clarify it for them: The enemy is the ruling class, its
social, financial, and political institutions, and the capitalist system
that spawned them. Its enemy is the corporate state and the commercial
media in its various forms of expression.

It is irrational, if not delusional, for working class people to support
candidates and policies to which they are philosophically opposed. And yet
that is what they are doing. As recent polls make clear, neither
conservatives nor progressives want to have their social security benefits
cut. They do not want to see their retirement benefits reduced, or their
Medicare and Medicaid payments slashed.  The unemployed do not want their
unemployment checks cut or eliminated, as some Republican members of
Congress advocate. Workers do not want the retirement age raised. They do
not want to see college tuition priced out of reach to all but the

The working class consists of liberals and conservatives. It encompasses
the devoted followers of Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh. However, Beck,
Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, and all of the other right-wing
crackpots support such policies, as do most Democrats, including President
Obama. Why would any working class person, Democrat or Republican, support
any of these charlatans?

Why would they support a social and economic system that exploits and
subjugates them? Clearly they do not understand that system or the
alternatives that are available to it.

The answer is that Americans are too indoctrinated to see clearly. The
majority exists in a media-induced state of false consciousness. To them,
up is down and down is up. Brown is white and white is brown. The people
are confused and disoriented. They are misled and lied to. They are
looking for quick and easy fixes to complex problems that were long in the
making. For the reasons outlined above, voting cannot cure what ails
America. The game is fixed. The appearance of choice is an illusion, an
utter hoax.

Political and media demagogues portray liberals (progressives &
Socialists), which continue to be miscast as democrats, as the enemy of
the working class. Working people do not comprehend that the benefits they
are fighting to preserve were the result of progressive policies, many of
them stemming from Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Conservatives,
neoconservatives, and neoliberals have always opposed these policies and
have fought to end them since the day of their inception. Let us not
forget that FDR was accused by one of his adversaries of being "a traitor
to his class".

It would be a mistake, however, to confuse FDR for a genuine progressive.
Certainly he was no socialist. It was his Secretary of Labor, Frances
Perkins, a Democratic Socialist, not FDR, who was the principal architect
of The New Deal. It should be noted, too, that The New Deal excluded most
blacks. It was essentially affirmative action for whites. Spooked by the
social unrest engendered by The Great Depression, FDR, an avowed
capitalist, perceived these policies as the only way to save capitalism
from the socialist threat of his time. Roosevelt was correct in his
assessment. It would have been better for the nation in the long run if
FDR did not enact The New Deal. If he had not, it is likely that massive
social upheaval would have ensued, and Socialism may well have supplanted
capitalism as the dominant paradigm.

Before any of my readers point out the failure of Soviet Socialism,
particularly under the murderous Stalin regime, let me state that this was
not Socialism as Marx, Engels, and Trotsky envisioned it; it was state

Similarly, if President Obama did not bail out America's financial
institutions with public funds, global capitalism would have collapsed.
Predicated upon greed and exploitation, these institutions should have
been allowed to fail, bringing down the global capitalist economy. If Adam
Smith's much ballyhooed, "invisible hand of the market" actually existed,
the world today would look very different than it did a few short years
ago. We might actually be in recovery. Now we are waiting for the next

History demonstrates that free (deregulated) markets, the Holy Grail of
Milton Friedman's capitalism, do not actually exist. They never have. Free
market capitalism is an ideological myth that is reified in our culture.
Markets are always manipulated by elites for the sole benefit of elites.
Otherwise the global economy would have fallen like a row of dominoes two
years ago. What we witnessed was Socialism (public funds) propping up
capitalism (privately owned financial institutions). All of the benefit,
to the tune of $13.8 trillion, went to the financial institutions and to
the elite. Working people were rewarded with government-imposed austerity.
This has occurred not only in the U.S. but elsewhere in the world.

The international financial aristocracy is laying the foundation for
global governance. The public domain is being privatized. The poor are no
longer part of the social and political discourse.

As a result of these policies, there is social turmoil in every capitalist
nation on earth, except the U.S. Compared to the rest of the world,
Americans are comatose, which is the result of so many people being
informed by Rush Limbaugh, Fox News, and other wealthy demagogues working
the airwaves on behalf of the ruling class. Most Americans are informed by
ideology, not by facts.

This is what Friedrich Nietzsche meant by conviction. Reality pales before
the shadow of belief and false hope. Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" comes
to mind. Fantasy becomes the norm. Capitalism would not long endure in the
presence of collective true consciousness. It exists by deceit.

Charles Sullivan is a naturalist and free-lance writer residing in the
hinterlands of geopolitical West Virginia.

--------26 of 26--------

How Voting Perpetuates Evil
by Joel S. Hirschhorn
October 20th, 2010
Dissident Voice

For many years Americans have justified voting for candidates they were
not especially thrilled with by convincing themselves that the lesser evil
deserved to win office.  The fraction of people totally committed to one
of the two major parties is small.  Most Americans see themselves as
independents, liberals, conservatives, progressives or libertarians, but
not as loyal Democrats or Republicans.  Most Americans are fed up with
both major parties, not just incumbents.

But this year.s mid-term elections will once again result in only
Democratic or Republican candidates winning.  Other than staying home and
not voting, nearly all voters will employ the lesser-evil justification.
Just one problem: That lesser-evil strategy has resulted in the dismal
state of the nation that angers most Americans.

The only logical conclusion is that lesser-evil voting perpetuates all the
cancerous evil plaguing the political system.  This should not surprise
anyone.  Regardless of party affiliation, major party candidates
convincingly lie to voters and the tons of money poured into politics
create a mass propaganda machine from both parties that deceives voters.

Lesser-evil voting sometimes works in favor of Democrats and sometimes
favors Republicans.  Negative advertising creates fear of some candidates
and media pundits and celebrities use their considerable power to give
voters reasons to vote for or against candidates.  The thirst for true
reforms of government persists, as evidenced by the Tea Party movement and
even the election of President Obama.  It is the force that moves the
pendulum from one party to the other.

When will Americans wake up and realize that lesser evil still means evil?
Least bad still means bad.  Least corrupt still means corrupt.  Least
dishonest still means dishonest.  Least stupid still means stupid.

But many people despairingly see no other option if they want to fulfill
their civic responsibility and participate in elections.  That is because
the two major parties have given Americans no real options.  They like the
lesser-evil system that sustains the two-party plutocracy.  Only voters in
Nevada can choose the "none of the above" option.  The rest of us can stay
home or vote for third party candidates that stand no real chance of
winning.  What to do?

Stop deluding yourself that any Democrat or Republican in Congress or the
White House will actually do absolutely everything, even if it means not
winning reelection, to reform the corrupt, dysfunctional, wasteful
government system being controlled by wealthy people and corporate
interests, and devastating ordinary Americans.

Your lesser-evil vote perpetuates evil.  Do you want to live with that?

Accept the ugly reality that voting within the electoral system is no
longer capable of reforming and fixing our government.  Is that it?  Is
there nothing else to do in our constitutional republic?  Actually, there
is something else.  The Founders put an alternative path to reform in the
Constitution.  In their wisdom they foresaw the possibility that the
electoral system might fail we the people.  Very few Americans know about
this option in Article V, which itself speaks volumes about the decay of
our educational and political systems.  State convention delegates could
propose reform constitutional amendments that would never be proposed by
Congress, and they would still have to be ratified by three-quarters of
the states.

Instead of feeling frustrated with lesser-evil voting take the time to
learn about the Article V convention option and why Congress has refused
to honor the hundreds of state applications for one.  Friends of the
Article V Convention, a national nonpartisan group, makes those
applications available on its website, something that Congress never did,
as well as many other resources.

Political powers on the left and right have worked hard to prevent the
Article V convention option from ever being used.  That should tell you
that what they fear we the people need now more than ever before.  The
main thing to fear is the status quo political system that your
lesser-evil votes sustain.  Only vote for someone who you deeply believe
without reservations is the absolute best person to have in office.  That
may mean not voting for every office on the ballot.

Joel S. Hirschhorn has a new book, Delusional Democracy: Fixing the
Republic Without Overthrowing the Government, which supports
constitutional conventions and other peaceful ways to restore American


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