|Progressive Calendar 11.12.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 12 Nov 2010 17:44:22 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 11.12.10 1. Media/storytell 11.13 9am 2. Peace walk 11.13 9am Cambridge MN 3. WILPF/water 11.13 10am 4. FBI v activists 11.13 10am 5. Mpls Greens 11.13 10:30 am 6. Transition towns 11.13 12noon 7. CUAPB 11.13 1:30pm 8. Northtown vigil 11.13 2pm 9. Stillwater vigil 11.14 1pm 10. Right to die 11.14 1:15pm 11. Nonviolence 11.14 3pm 12. Obama or progress 11.14 3pm 13. India/film 11.14 7pm 14. ed - Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama/11.12.10 15. Jim Fuller - Getting real about Obama 16. Roger Hodge - Speak, money 17. Linh Dinh - Revolution number ten 18. David Macaray - Organized labor and the big con --------1 of 18-------- From: Richard Broderick <richb [at] lakecast.com> Subject: Media/storytell 11.13 9am Fall Media Forum and Storytelling Slam/ Storytelling and Beyond: STORY TELLING AND BEYOND: NEW TOOLS FOR PARTICIPATION Saturday, November 13 the Twin Cities Media Alliance's holds its sixth annual Citizen Media Forum, where featured presenters include Placeblogger.com founder Lisa Williams, spoken word artist and storyteller Tish Jones, photographer Wing Young Huie, national story slam champion Nancy Donoval, and videographers Chuck Olsen and Allison Herrera. 9 A.M to 3 P.M., Minneapolis Central Library, 4th and Hennepin, Mpls. Following the forum there will be a HAPPY HOUR AND STORY SLAM from 3:15 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. at the Old Pub (formerly Kieran's), at 330 2nd Ave. So., hosted by Diego Vazquez and Allison Broeren. This whole event is free and open to the public. To register for the forum, go to www.thedatabank.com/dpg/262/donate.asp?formid=TCM-Event&c=9231005&anchor=register#register or email Jeremy [at] tcemdiaalliance.org. --------2 of 18-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 11.13 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------3 of 18-------- From: Doris Marquit <marqu001 [at] umn.edu> Subject: WILPF/water 11.13 10am event Sat Nov 13 The Global Water Crisis: Sustainable Food Security Saturday, Nov. 13, 10am-noon Van Cleve Community Center 905 15th Avenue SE (near Como SE), Mpls with Shiney Varghese, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy Last of a 3-part series on Women. Water, and Food sponsored by the Women's International League for Peace & Freedom MN Metro Branch, and co-sponsored by the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute-OLLI) Shiney Varghese, senior policy analyst, leads the Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy's work on global water policy: the impact of the water crisis on water and food security, and sustainable local solutions that emphasize equity & environmental justice. She is cochair of the fresh water caucus, UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Shiney grew up on a farm in India,and worked there on social and environmental issues for more than a decade with indigenous groups, civil organizations, and international groups. She holds degrees from the Institute of Rural Management (India) and the Institute of Social Studies (Netherlands). Moving to the US in 1998, Shiney has worked with IATP since 2001. --------4 of 18-------- From: Jason Stone <jason.stone [at] yahoo.com> Subject: FBI v activists 11.13 10am I wanted to draw folks' attention to this important coffee hour - an opportunity to hear direct testimony and context for the recent raids. Coffee Hour: International Solidarity, Anti-War Activism, and FBI Raids 11/13/10 10:00am-11:45am At the Resource Center of the Americas 3019 Minnehaha Ave, Suite 20 Presented in English At this Coffee Hour well hear testimony on FBI raids of local anti-war activists in the broader context of FBI oppression and the chilling impact of the material support law. MEREDITH ABY is a member of the Colombia Action Network and the Anti-War Committee. Her home was raided on 9/24 and she was subpoenaed to the Chicago grand jury. Meredith has led several Colombia Action Network delegations to Colombia, and can talk about how this case, and the material support law, hinder the work of international solidarity activists and undercut our freedoms to oppose US policy in Colombia and elsewhere. CHERRENE HORAZUK is a former executive director of CISPES and a leader in the MN Committee to Stop FBI Repression. She will talk about the history of FBI repression of Latin America solidarity movements and the significance of recent attacks on activists here in MN and elsewhere. BRUCE NESTOR is a member of the National Lawyers Guild, and is working to provide legal support to the activists raided and subpoenaed to the grand jury in Chicago. Bruce will speak about the material support law and address the significance of this case, and the legal rights of international solidarity activists. --------5 of 18-------- From: Susan Leskela <sleskela [at] comcast.net> Subject: Mpls Greens 11.13 10:30 am Membership Meeting - Nov 13/10:30 to 12:30 Only a few people have elected to get a postcard for the meetings now. A big thank you to Kevin Chavis who left the Steering Committee but continues to perform this task. This is a great cooperative effort and really appreciated! This announcement will be posted on facebook and the announcements list also. Saturday, November 13, 2010, 10:30-12:30 Franklin Library, 1314 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis 55404 Agenda: a.. 10:30-10:35 Finance report b.. 10:35-10:45 Ratify statements on FBI raids and gun control c.. 10:45-11:00 Election recap d.. 11:00-12:00 Future of the 5th District/2011 Planning e.. 12:00-12:25 Elected officials report f.. 12:25-12:30 Announcements* --------6 of 18-------- From: Alliance for Sustainability <iasa [at] mtn.org> Subject: Transition towns 11.13 12noon Neighborhood Sustainability Networking Fair Saturday November 13 - Noon to 5pm South High School Auditorium, 3131 19th Avenue South Minneapolis, MN 55407 See agenda at www.afors.org Flyer Noon -Resource and Neighborhood Tables, Networking, Food 1pm - Keynote Presentation and local solutions panel - Building Resilient Communities: Preparing together for a Changed World - Richard Heinberg - a Journalist and educator, and author of The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies and Powerdown : Options and Actions for a Post-Carbon World. Richard is a Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. 2:45pm - Small Group Topic Conversations - Local Food Resource Hubs- Gardening Matters, Micro-Business / Urban Agriculture Coop Project, Organizing Transition Towns - Good Work Inc.Community Solar- MN Renewable Energy Society, Applied Energy Innovations, Community Energy Conservation - CEE, CERTS, Minneapolis Bike Plan - Mpls Bicycle Coalition, Power line update - Midtown Greenway Coalition, Youth Activism- Youth Environmental Activists MN, Supporting local businesses, Powderhorn Local, Suggest your own topic! 4:00pm Neighborhood Conversations - meet your neighbors to explore your next steps 5:00pm Resource Tables, Networking - Purchase Low Cost Weatherization Supplies! - Cooperative Energy Futures Suggested event donation $5, (and receive a copy of the current YES Magazine on Local Resilience) No one turned away for lack of ability to contribute. For more information please contact - Sean Gosiewski, Alliance for Sustainability 612-331-1099 sean [at] afors.org, www.afors.org CO-SPONSORS/ Exhibitors - Alliance for Sustainability, Applied Energy Innovations, Corcoran GROWS, Saint Anthony Park ERG, Longfellow ETC, Powderhorn Local, Seward EC, South Side Coop Project, Gardening Matters, Giving Tree Gardens, Good Work Inc. Hiawatha Yoga, In the Heart of the Beast, Center for Energy and Environment, Metro CERTS, Midtown Public Market, Mpls Community Education, MN 350, MN Renewable Energy Society, PRI Cold Climate, YEA!MN, South High Green Tigers, Women's Environmental Institute, YES Magazine - More exhibitors and co-sponsors are welcome ($25 per table) --------7 of 18-------- From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at] visi.com> Subject: CUAPB 11.13 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) --------8 of 18---------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 11.13 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------9 of 18-------- From: scot b <earthmannow [at] comcast.net> Subject: Stillwater vigil 11.14 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 --------10 of 18-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Right to die 11.14 1:15pm November 14: Compassion and Choices of Minnesota presents You Are There: the 2010 World Right-to-Die Conference. Chapter President Jane Conn will share all the news from the conference. 1:15 - 3:15 PM at Rondo Public Library, 461 Dale Street, St. Paul. Free underground parking. --------12 of 18-------- From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Nonviolence 11.14 3pm FOR Annual Meeting: "Transforming Our Culture with Nonviolence" Sunday, November 14, 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. Hamline University HUB, Bush Student Center, 1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul. WAMM member, Don Irish will be recognized as Peacemaker of the Year at the Minnesota Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) Annual Meeting. Guest speaker: Janet Chisolm, Executive Director speaks: "Creating a Culture of Peace." Sponsored by: FOR. Endorsed by: WAMM. --------12 of 18-------- From: lydiahowell [at] comcast.net Subject: Obama or progress 11.14 3pm SUN.NOV. 14, 3pm to 6pm PROGRESSIVE MOVEMENTS IN THE AGE OF OBAMA May Day Books, 301 Cedar Ave. (basement Hub Bicycles) West Bank, Minneapolis (612)333-4719 FREE! Open Debate!Food! If you are not held totally hosage to the Democratic Party & have rec ognized that progressives can NOT keep doing what we've done for the last 2 years - and want to reuild progressive resistance on all lvels, please come to this event. Share with others who are fed up with a conserivative agenda pushed by Democrats. --------13 of 18-------- From: Karthik Ramanathan <ramanath.karthik [at] gmail.com> Subject: India/film 11.14 7pm We are showing a film called Had-Anhad which traces the story of a 15th century Poet through folk music from across the Indian sub-continent. The event is free but we welcome donations towards M G Foundation, Pakistan toward flood relief effort there. M G Foundation is a Human Rights Organization in Pakistan (see www.mehergarh.org ) that does a lot of secular work including womens rights and rescuing people from bonded labor. A Movie Presentation from friends of South Asia and Pangea World Theater MOVIE : Had-Anhad (Bounded-Boundless) November 14th, Sunday, 7pm - 9.30pm 711 West Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408 (Pangea World Theater) About the film: Had-Anhad, by Shabnam Virmani, is a lively, dramatic film that will move you to faith, hope, and tenderness in this time of crisis and emergency. The film takes us on a journey through Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Karachi as we listen to folk musicians give us mesmerizing renditions of Kabir bhajans and dohas. The film is focused on Kabir, the 15th century mystic poet and saint whose poetry renders a different Ram from contemporary invocations of the Hindu God Ram and a South Asia different from that of the Af-Pak strategy.* *Note: Donations are welcome toward M G Foundation, Pakistan for flood relief.* --------14 of 18-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama/11.12.10 [Here, after the election and even more negative evidence re Obama, is your chance to pledge no vote for Obama in 2012. Each month, week, day, gives more reasons for the pledge. -ds] Pledge 2012 No vote for Obama Some of Barack Obama's bad actions: 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan record high military budget bombing by unmanned drones in Pakistan continued Iraq war rejection of landmine treaty continued torture and coverup of past torture support for Honduras coup support for Israeli occupation of Palestine suppression of Goldstone Gaza war report bank bailout no prosecution or even investigation of Bush & Co reaffirmation of Patriot Act for insurance companies & vs single payer support for expanded nuclear power For these, and many other bad actions, We the undersigned publicly pledge not to vote for Barack Obama for US president in 2012. Robert Halfhill Amber Garlan Tom Cleland David Weisberg Dave Bicking Andy Hamerlinck Doug Mann Ted Dooley Melissa Hill Dori Ullman Ryan Carey Jan McGee Bill Oldfather Carol Mellom Michelle Gross Mike Whelan Robert Palmer Tom Dooley Tim Nolan Johnny Hazard Suzanne Linton Michael Cavlan Steven Boyer John Simcox Louise Bouta Vanessa Vogl Lisa Grant M J Schoen Clinton Dietrich Lydia Howell Farheen Hakeem Jan Nye Margaret Beegle Dave Berger Brandy Baker (MD) Myles Hoenig (MD) Danene Provencher Donald L Maxwell Neil Lageson Molly Reiter Mustafa Adam Bob Schmitz Mary Metchnek Dan Dittman James Benthall [Rochester MN] Maria Balla Alan Maki Judy Bjorke Kenny Kalligher Diane Williams Paul Busch David Shove [room for YOUR name] ==end of pledge To sign this pledge, send to shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu an email from your standard personal email address, with your name, and the words: No Obama 2012 vote. The above will be published regularly on the Progressive Calendar, Green Party lists, etc. Continuing chances for additional people to sign. If you need to research any topic raised here, go to eg: 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 MD = Maryland --------15 of 18-------- Getting real about Obama by Jim Fuller Sunday, November 07, 2010 http://blog.jamesclayfuller.com Here's a fascinating but not readily answerable question: Is Barack Obama one of the most cleverly, cynically corrupt politicians/government figures in history, or is he, despite his obvious talents as a scholar, one of the most stupid? It is one or the other. I go with stupid, but not with any degree of certainty. If you can't buy stupid, try monumentally inept. The inarguable, heavily documented facts: Obama continues to "reach out" to the Republicans in Congress, to seek their cooperation in governing on behalf of the people of the United States. He says "Please" time after time, and with even greater frequency, they say, "We're going to destroy you." They act on that promise. And Obama offers his hand again. And he makes irrationally big concessions on all issues. Before there was any negotiation whatever, the president secretly gave the far right the promise that he would not seek a public option in improving (one can hardly say reforming) health care. He kept his word. The Republicans in Congress almost literally spat on him, and some of their adherents did, in fact, spit on Democrats who sought real reform. Obama has done that time and again. He gives away everything important on all major issues before a fight begins . With perfect precision, the Republicans kick him in the groin each time by way of thanks. Right now, after the election that crushed Democrats, Obama is giving away any regulation of the increasingly dangerous natural gas producers. He is crawling on his belly before the big bankers, completely surrendering to them everything they want on mortgage foreclosures and claiming with bare face that, in essence, foreclosures are good for the economy. He said in a post-election speech that he's going to "Work harder at building consensus." He has to know what is going to happen. A dribbling idiot would know what's going to happen. Every half-informed person in this country I've ever mentioned the issues to, or who has ever mentioned the big ones to me, knows the Republicans have no interest in governing right now, certainly none in doing anything for the people of the country. Everyone but a few lost-in-spacers knows that their only interests are to grind their heels on Obama and regain the White House - and to help the super rich form and solidify the oligarchy they are so swiftly constructing. So why does he go on doing the same idiotic thing every time - and in the process giving the extreme right what it wants, making sure that the people will be screwed at every turn by the rich? If could be a charade, planned from the very beginning, before anyone wrote Obama's "hope" speeches. Is he a dummy, set up with his own knowledge to draw attention from what's really being done to American democracy and to take the blame for the evils being perpetrated on the people and on what once was a democratic form of government? [This is what I think and have said. -ed] That is pretty much beyond belief. It would make what we're witnessing one of the most successful, cynical and rotten political shell games of all time, on a par with the Nazi takeover of Germany in 1933 and the earlier creation of Soviet "communism," which gave a tiny, ruthless elite dictatorial powers over the vast reaches of what became the U.S.S.R. [I think we are witnessing such a shell game. The elite is sociopathically ruthless, and has been working on this for decades. -ed] Or perhaps the man is so frozen by the fact that, pretty much for the first time in his life, reality refuses to conform to his expectations that he cannot act. Maybe he is so unable to accept that Republicans never had and never will have the slightest interest in serving the country or the will of the people that he can't get to the point where he recognizes that he must fight - fight them with every fair and unfair method he can come up with in order to perform just a small fraction of the things he assumed he would accomplish by the force of his charm and wit. [I don't buy any of this line. -ed] Oh. Wait. After I wrote the above, I had a head-slap moment. There is a third possibility, which could work in conjunction with the stupidity theory. Obama's unwillingness to fight for what he ostensibly believes is right and for what is good for the vast majority of this country's citizens may be rooted in a petrifying fear of conflict and confrontation. It may be that he is simply a congenital coward, utterly lacking in even a standard ration of guts when faced with someone who vehemently stands against him. I have known such people, people who would go to appalling lengths to avoid facing or standing in open conflict with anyone who opposed them on any level; some of those half-people rose quite far in professions and/or society. Or it may be that Barack Obama was raised from childhood through youth to avoid conflict, carefully taught to be always amiable, to give way to others who had strong opinions, never to put himself into a position to draw the ire of others and, if he did, to back down and devote his energies to smoothing over the unpleasant bumps, even if it meant demeaning himself. Given his background, that seems a possibility. (Yes, I know. We're not supposed to involve ourselves in what often is disdainfully described is "Psych 101," but the fact is we all do it, and have to. The person who can't, consciously or unconsciously, get a handle on the motivations of those around him is going to get blindsided regularly.) Oh, well. It is an academic question, fascinating for future generations, if there are any in a position to examine the history of his failures. (Or if there is a future that will allow largely truthful accounts by which to judge.) For now, it is irrelevant. We haven't time for such academic discussions, except for a few minutes in passing. What is abundantly clear is that this Obama guy isn't going to fight anybody for or against anything. [That is all too clear. -ed] Our fight is for the survival of our country, our republic, our freedoms and our economic well-being and one of the obvious facts with which we must deal is that Barack Obama is not going to be of any use in that. We've already wasted far too much time, money and effort on that hope. Three nights after the November 2010 elections, my wife and I were sitting, half watching one of the evening political shows. A very knowledgeable and earnest woman was talking about one of the myriad almost overwhelming problems with which this country is faced. She said, "President Obama must stand up to those who are doing this and take a firm stand and...." And both my wife and I broke out laughing. It was not the kind of laughter inspired by a great witticism or a great joke or some child's antics. Bitter is the word. For two years, Barack Obama has ducked every challenge to a fight, has refused to stand up against those who directly attack what he claims to believe is right, has been firm with no one except the liberals and progressives who put him in office; they are the only ones to whom he has been rude. Yet night after night - after two years of his ducking and dodging and spinelessness - the pundits and politicians and advocates for countless programs and populations tell us that "The president has to stand up to these people and tell them firmly that...." People. It ain't gonna happen. We, you, the pundits and advocates and observers have to get a grip on that fact and henceforth act accordingly. [Amen. We're on our own. -ed] Geez. - James Clay Fuller, principal (and principle) author of this site, is a sort-of retired journalist who has worked in newspapers and magazines for more than 45 years. His day job for 30 years was at the Minneapolis StarTribune, where he was a business and economics reporter, features writer, and sometime music critic, as well as an editor in charge of several specialized sections of the newspaper and a number of investigative projects. He was nominated for Pulitzer Prizes in 1977 and 1992, and was the instigator and senior editor on a project that was nominated for a Pultizer in 1997. He has written for many national publications. Professionally, Fuller has been known throughout his career as Jim Fuller. However, when applying for the URL of that name, he learned it has been hijacked by a Web squatter who is using it in an extremely offensive way. In addition, Web searches for "Jim Fuller" turn up thousands of others with the same name, so he is now using his full name - James Clay Fuller - to make it easier to find him online --------16 of 18-------- Speak, Money by Roger D. Hodge From HARPER'S October 25 2010 From The Mendacity of Hope: Barack Obama and the Betrayal of American Liberalism, out this month from HarperCollins. Hodge is the former editor of Harper's Magazine. As we prepare yet another round of offerings to the demigods of America's political religion, we would do well to remind ourselves of what our electoral votives truly signify. Ideally, our ballots purport to be expressions of political will, which we hope and pray will be translated into legislative and executive action by our pretended representatives. Through hard and painful struggles, against daunting odds, our forebears and elders fought so long for voting rights - for unpropertied men, for women, for blacks - that we may perhaps be forgiven the error of thinking that casting a ballot is the perfection of civic virtue, the ultimate and sovereign duty of the citizen-ruler. Alas, the agony of citizenship is never ending; voting is the beginning of civic virtue, not its end, and as suffrage has expanded so has its value been steadily debased. The locus of real power is elsewhere. Wealth and property qualifications, poll taxes, and the like are very far from being historical curiosities; they have simply mutated. Campaign contributions and other forms of political spending have assumed that old exclusionary function, and only those who can afford to pay are able truly to manifest their political will. Voters still "matter," of course, but only as raw material to be shaped by the actual form of political influence - money - which molds the body politic by realizing itself in the ductile mass of common voters. The Atlantic republican tradition that informed the minds of our founding generation had a name for this state of affairs: corruption, a term that suggested far more than mere bribery. Corruption, in its institutional sense, denotes the degeneration of republican forms of government into despotism, and typically comes about when the private ends of a narrow faction of citizens succeed in capturing the engines of government; its prevention was one of the primary concerns of the framers of the Constitution. Citizens, like states, are susceptible to the disease of corruption, and in the classical republican understanding a corrupt citizenry is one that has allowed its private and narrow personal interests to trump those of the general public. The radicalism of the American revision of republicanism consisted in founding a state on the premise that the public interest might be served by the assertion of private interest, and that a large, well-regulated republic might withstand corruption by absorbing the manifold competing interests of a large and diverse population. Most republicans throughout history have viewed history through a tragic lens; the life cycle of republics - their degeneration into anarchy, oligarchy, or monarchy - was thought to be inescapable. James Madison, in particular, sought to escape that tragic cycle. His principles were sound, his institutional design was brilliant, and yet he failed. Perhaps the time has come for us to reckon with that tragedy. The corruption of our institutions manifests itself in a variety of ways, but in none so dramatic as the imbalance of national wealth, which in recent decades has shattered records formerly set in the late 1920s. Although it is often claimed that the gap between rich and poor began decisively to widen in the late 1970s, as if to absolve Ronald Reagan for what his followers no doubt count as his primary accomplishment, the total share of income of the wealthiest 10 percent of American families was well within the postwar norm until 1982, when Reagan's policies began a massive, decades-long transfer of national wealth to the rich. Under Bill Clinton, who shamelessly appropriated the Reaganite agenda, the transfer was even more dramatic, as the top 10 percent captured an ever growing share of national income. The trend continued under George W. Bush, and by 2007 the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans (families earning more than $109,630) were taking in 50 percent of the national income. In 1980 the top 1 percent of Americans received 10 percent of the national income; by 2007 the superrich (those with income above $398,900) had increased their share to 23.5 percent. The average increase in real income for the bottom 99 percent of American families between 1973 and 2006 was a mere 8.5 percent, whereas the richest 1 percent saw a 190 percent rise in real income. Such a distortion of the nation's balance of wealth did not come about by accident; it was the result of a long series of policy decisions - about industry and trade, taxation and military spending, by flesh-and-blood humans sitting in concrete-and-steel buildings - that were bought and paid for by the less than 1 percent of Americans who participate in our capitalist democracy by contributing at least $200 to political campaigns. Gross inequalities in wealth not only create a perverse feedback loop in which the interests of the wealthy and the centers of power in government recede ever further from those of the general public; such inequality also distorts the political psychology of voters. Some of the best recent empirical work in political science has shown that most Americans attempt to vote in accordance with their economic interests, rather than by the dictates of ephemeral antagonisms over God, gays, or guns. Unfortunately, economic mprovements for the vast majority of Americans over the past three decades have been so marginal that they are easily overshadowed by cynical manipulations of the political business cycle, the timing of economic expansions with election years, and by the strange fact that lower-income voters are more sensitive, in terms of voting behavior, to income growth among the wealthy than they are to their own economic well-being. Since the early 1980s, the Democratic Party has largely abandoned its commitment to policies that serve the material interests of most Americans and has joined the Republican Party in a shameless competition for the patronage of large corporations and the superrich . Add to these complexities the proven power of campaign spending to influence election outcomes (Larry Bartels has calculated that each additional dollar spent per voter by a candidate increases the probability of a given undecided voter's support by almost four percentage points), and it is easy to see that the average American has no hope of safeguarding his interests, whether they pertain to life, liberty, or happiness. We cast our empty ballots for one party; then, disgusted with the inevitable betrayals, pray for a redeemer from the opposing party to rescue us from politics and history, only to repeat the cycle once again. Meanwhile, most of our citizens are fully absorbed in their personal affairs, oblivious and largely ignorant of the details of politics and governance. We are so very far from the classical republican ideal of ruling and being ruled, of exercising political agency and participating in the life of our commonwealth, that, incapable of pursuing even narrow self-interest effectively, we instead offer ourselves up as impotent, obsequious subjects, the unresisting tools of interests we scarcely comprehend. Occasionally, however, the political class expresses itself in unmistakable terms, unintentionally disclosing the true nature of our political economy . In January, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the United States Supreme Court held that restrictions on independent corporate expenditures in political campaigns are unconstitutional infringements on the freedom of speech. Much of the judicial literature on the subject, including Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion in Citizens United, simply substitutes the words "speech" and "speak" for the words "spend" and "buy." Corporations, according to the court's majority faction, are speakers, persons who have constitutional rights. When they spend, they speak. Kennedy admits that favoritism and influence can result from campaign spending but he asserts that far from being objectionable or avoidable, favoritism and influence are the essence of representative politics, that it is right and natural that a representative should favor certain "voters and contributors." Indeed, he continues, "it is well understood that a substantial and legitimate reason, if not the only reason, to cast a vote for, or to make a contribution to, one candidate over another is that the candidate will respond by producing those political outcomes the supporter favors. Democracy is premised on responsiveness." With admirable frankness if less than impeccable logic, Kennedy equates not only the act of spending money with speech but also the act of making a campaign contribution with voting . The idea of corruption resulting from the quid pro quo of contribution for legislation troubles him not at all. "The appearance of influence or access, furthermore," he repeats, as if a lie may be converted into truth by mere reiteration, "will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy." If there were any doubts about what sort of government we live under, Kennedy's opinion should lay them to rest. Indeed, civic virtue has now completed its centuries-long metamorphosis from the republican ideal of the free citizen-ruler to the degraded economic norm of the consumer buying on credit; virtue for us is no more than a spotless credit rating. Thus the terror of a credit crisis; it strikes at the very foundation of public personality. The more abstract and financialized our commercial expressions, the more virtuous they become; corporations, fictional beings of pure commerce, predicated on our collective fantasies, are now the highest expression of political art. Corporations are evolving under judicial legislation into the perfect, immortal citizen-rulers of our capitalist democracy, a virtual republic in which all political speech is advertising and all real citizens are commercial fictions. It is a curious metaphysical doctrine, is it not? Corporations are artificial beings, theoretically immortal, which come into existence by means of state charters and reproduce like amoebas by splitting into subsidiaries; midwifed by lawyers, they combine in bizarre mating rituals called mergers; they are owned, like slaves, by shareholders who buy and sell their chattel daily; and they possess constitutional rights. Oddly, however, our corporate citizens are denied the right to vote. By what logic can a corporation be granted personhood and the constitutional right to speak money, yet be denied the constitutional right to vote? How can our system permit these corporate persons to be enslaved through ownership? Does not the force of all logic and morality require us either to deny the personhood of corporations, or to grant them the right to vote and to free them from slavery? If we insist on maintaining their status as persons, at least let us give ourselves the power, if they commit serious crimes against property, to put corporations to death. Given the weird First Amendment metaphysics to which a majority of our Supreme Court justices subscribe, it is obvious that mere campaign-finance reform is a dead letter, notwithstanding President Obama's pious noises following the Citizens United verdict. It seems only a matter of time and litigation before all limits to political expenditures are erased in the name of free speech; the radical doctrines of the Roberts Court admit no foreseeable limit. Even so, the Republican Party and its ideological lawyers in the Federalist Society may yet have reason to regret their determined advocacy on behalf of the money-equals-speech heresy. Obama outspent McCain two-to-one during the last election, and there is no reason to believe that all or even most corporate spending will ultimately be channeled to the party of Abraham Lincoln and Sarah Palin. On the contrary, Democrats are likely to benefit as much or more than the G.O.P., even after Kennedy, Scalia, et al. finally get their chance to liberate flesh-and-blood persons, especially that wise and judicious 1 percent who wish to make their money speak, from the fetters of financial censorship and disenfranchisement. As Obama's purported reforms, in health care no less than in finance, have demonstrated, the Democrats have made certain that their contributors will secure enviable returns on their political investments. Citizens United is not the cause of our troubles; it merely highlights the essential character of our system, and for that we should be grateful. Nevertheless, given this judicial perversion of the First Amendment, our only sure remedy is constitutional. The Democratic Party's lamentable DISCLOSE Act, which this summer failed to muster sixty votes in the Senate, would do nothing, if passed, to curb the flow of cash and the further disenfranchisement of the vast majority of the citizenry. It is no great burden for large corporations and wealthy individuals to hire more clerks to file additional disclosure forms, and under current law we already know a great deal about who buys and sells our commodified rulers and their derivative legislation. Far more robust is the Fair Elections Now Act, which would establish a system of public financing of elections, yet even if it survived a Supreme Court review, such a law would fail to contain the disproportionate power of the wealthy. In an ideal system of public campaign financing, in which all political speech has been equalized by law, in which political advertising is banned and persuasion stripped of its commercial aspect - the corporate businessman and the millionaire (not to mention the billionaire) would still stand taller than the common citizen. In fact, as the political theorist John P. McCormick has argued, the wealthy are likely to dominate any political regime that chooses its magistrates and lawmakers solely by means of election. Republican theorists have traditionally recognized the centrality of economic class in politics and in the design of stable republican institutions. Past republics, in antiquity and in the Renaissance, were particularly concerned to contain the power of the rich and prevent them from dominating the institutions of government. Historically, it has been the insolence and dominating ambition of the wealthy that has led to the decline of great republics, not the revolutionary or leveling fervor of the lower classes, who mostly wish to be left to their own devices. The Roman tribunes vigorously defended the rights and privileges of the plebs against the depredations of the rich, and the tribunate had the power to veto actions proposed by the Senate and to accuse patricians of political crimes. Florentine constitutional thinkers such as NiccolaČ Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini gave much thought to such questions, and a variety of devices - including lotteries and class quotas, often in combination with election - were considered and employed. No doubt these classical republicans would consider our Constitution's silence on the matter of class a debilitating and perhaps fatal defect. It is perfectly legitimate for the rich to pursue their own interests; what is not legitimate is the current exclusion of all other interests from the reason of state. A constitutional amendment establishing public financing of elections would be an obvious and reasonable first step toward correcting this imbalance, as would an amendment stripping corporations of their rights as persons. Even better would be a convention, in which we might attempt to introduce new constitutional devices designed to more equitably distribute access to political deliberation. Admittedly, however, the prospects for a constitutional remedy appear dim. Is it possible that the majority of Americans whose interests are not being served have no political will? As James Madison asked long ago: Are we utterly without civic virtue? If so, then we are truly wretched. "To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea." Although we have always benefited from the activities of public-spirited individuals, even men and women of great wealth who recognize that greed as a principle of public conduct often leads to perverse outcomes, the United States Constitution was emphatically not founded on the assumption that either citizens or magistrates could be trusted to act selflessly. If my argument can be taken as a call to republican virtue, it is only so within the modern realist framework devised by Madison and his colleagues in 1787, according to whom government is a response to humanity's inherent wickedness. Men are not angels, Obama notwithstanding. A properly American call to republican virtue is not a utopian exhortation that our citizens cast aside their private and selfish interests and embark on a course of austere political action, with their eyes fixed on some transcendent public good apart from their own. No, what is required is that Americans take a stand on behalf of their selfish material interests and against those of the monopolies and transnational corporations that have captured our institutions of government. The paradoxical character of our popular corruption is that the people have become slothfully selfless, too absorbed by their ephemeral entertainments and petty cultural disputes to assert their self-interest against the plunderers who rule them. Surely, however, the American people have not become so servile that they will forever submit to the rule of 1 percent. Surely we are capable of recognizing that the perverse corporate regime that has arisen in our country is a usurpation of popular government. Our Constitution unquestionably recognizes the right of a people to alter its mode of government; we have done so twenty-seven times. We may do so again. We may throw off these bonds and provide new guards for our future security. --------17 of 18-------- Revolution Number Ten by Linh Dinh November 12th, 2010 Dissident Voice Revolt is in the air. Fed up with our corrupt government, Tea Partiers elect new, improved Republicans, those who will restore God, vote against gay marriage, tighten our borders and, above all, keep America strong militarily, even though she already has the most bloated (yet strangely inept) military in history, even though the military industrial complex is the very source of governmental corruption. Tea Partiers want to trim pork even as they feed this monstrous hog. We must support our troops. Secessionists, on the other hand, have had enough of this madness. Why send tax dollars to Washington to be wasted on foreign wars? To save their own state or region, they want to get off this suicidal roller coaster ride, but what will happen when federal troops are sent in? The Civil War was fought over secessions. If the American empire is loathe to give up even its most distant outpost, why would it let go of, say, Vermont, without a bloody fight? There are secessionist movements in about thirty states now. Among the more established is the Second Vermont Republic, founded in 2003. Besides political independence from Washington, it is also aiming for a more local and sustainable economy. "Life should be lived on a human scale," it states on its website. "Small is still beautiful [..] We celebrate and support Vermont's small, clean, green, sustainable, socially responsible towns, farms, businesses, schools, and churches. We encourage family-owned farms and businesses to produce innovative, premium-quality, healthy products". All of these goals are laudable but the SVR's commitment to non-violence ensures that it'll never succeed on any scale, I'm afraid. Big government is big business now, and it will not release its prey, I mean, let go of its market share, without spilling blood. Big Brother will bare his fangs as soon as you cut into his profits. It will be the Domino Theory all over again. If you let Vermont fall (aside), then you'll loose New Hampshire, Maine, then Massachusetts. Even resorting to violence, the Kurds, Basques, Catalonians or Corsicans, etc., have not managed to secede from their respective states after many decades of struggle, but we also have the Soviet Union, which broke up into fifteen republics. Each of these new countries was an ethnic enclave within the Soviet empire, however. Several had only been absorbed quite recently. These peoples never saw themselves as Russians, and were only too glad to break away. We don't have the same conditions here. The United States will not splinter along ethnic and racial lines, at least not without a considerable mess. So if electoral politics, ala Tea Party, and peaceful secessionism, Vermont style, are both futile, should Americans resort to more militant actions? For several years now, James Howard Kunstler has conjured up scenes of fed up proles rising up to torch the manor of a blood sucking CEO. A typical, quite gleeful passage, "people with little interest in principle beyond some dim idea of economic fairness, will be hoisting the flaming brands out of sheer grievance and malice. By the time Lloyd Blankfein sees the torches flickering through his privet, it will be too late to defend the honor of his cappuccino machine". In 2006, William S. Lind wrote even more ominously: One of the things U.S. troops are learning in Iraq is how people with little training and few resources can fight a state. Most American troops will see this within the framework of counterinsurgency. But a minority will apply their new-found knowledge in a very different way. After they return to the U.S. and leave the military, they will take what they learned in Iraq back to the inner cities, to the ethnic groups, gangs, and other alternate loyalties they left when they joined the service. There, they will put their new knowledge to work, in wars with each other and wars against the American state. It will not be long before we see police squad cars getting hit with IEDs and other techniques employed by Iraqi insurgents, right here in the streets of American cities. If disaffected Americans started to imitate Iraqi insurgents, the best they could hope for is to achieve the latter's success, or lack thereof. For every American invader killed by an IED, how many insurgents have lost their lives? How many innocent civilians? For all the casualties they suffered, the Iraqis have won nothing. The United States still occupies their country. It has set up its Green Zone, built Enduring Bases, defended the Petro Dollar, stolen Iraqi oil proceeds and robbed American tax payers, so everything has gone according to plan, more or less. The loss of a soldier here and there has long been factored in. No biggie, this collateral write-off is merely a cost of doing business in any difficult neighborhood. With its well-armed, confused and increasingly angry populace, the United States can quickly become the mother of all difficult neighborhoods, one would think, but so far, all is placid. We rally, rant and hold up cute signs, yes, but unlike the Thais, we don't occupy the central commercial district for two months, then torch a mega shopping center and the stock exchange. We don't riot like the French and the Greeks, or topple the government like Icelanders. The Obama card was a brilliant move by our ruling class. After eight years of Bush, they placated our liberals and blacks with an articulate and personable black effigy. After four years of Obama, they will likely appease the gun happy and ultra religious with a deer hunting mom of a combat soldier. Sarah is so "real," she even has a reality show. Pacified momentarily by a fake head, many Americans won't realize, yet again, that nothing has changed. Many will celebrate and weep, and equally earnest lines such as these will be written, "Citizenship is a passionate joy at times, and this is one of those times. You can feel it. Tuesday the world changed. It was a great day". (Rebecca Solnit in The Nation, 11/6/08.) I have a feeling, however, that we may be nearing the end of being jerked back and forth like this, that even the most insensate and silly among us is about to explode. Linh Dinh is the author of two books of stories and five of poems, and a just released novel, Love Like Hate. He's tracking our deteriorating socialscape through his frequently updated photo blog, State of the Union. --------18 of 18-------- Organized Labor and the Big Con by David Macaray November 12th, 2010 Dissident Voice When the axe came into the woods, many of the trees said, "At least the handle is one of us". - Turkish proverb It's not uncommon for union guys to express regret at not having been around in the bad old days - when labor activists regularly mixed it up with company goon squads, when Pinkertons armed with clubs whaled away on picket lines, cracking heads and causing havoc, when industrial riots, mass arrests and blood on the streets made all the front pages. Mind you, no one misses the violence or the chaos. What they miss is the clarity. Organized labor's biggest gains were made back when there was no doubt about which side you were on: the workers.. or the owners.. As soon as management made it clear they were refusing labor's request for a larger slice of the pie - in the form of profit-sharing or decent wages and benefits - the lines were drawn; and it was across these clearly delineated boundaries that the battles, both figuratively and literally, were fought. Then, roughly 30 years ago, everything changed. Following Ronald Reagan's firing of the Air Traffic Controllers, management announced that organized labor would no longer be regarded as an adversary, and requested that America's unions do likewise - that they ennoble themselves by embracing management as their partner, not their foe. And ever since that absurd proposal, working people have been on a downward spiral. Indeed, as the middle-class continues to sink, the rich continue to edge toward the stratosphere. In 1980, the CEOs of the country's largest companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker. By 2001, they were making 531 times as much. From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in family income went to the richest 1 percent. As president of a union I experienced this New Culture firsthand, in the early 1990s, when the company approached the union's Executive Board with a startling proposition. They asked that a group of union officers (whom they would appoint) assist in the hiring process by sitting in on their job interviews. Because nothing like this had ever been offered before, we were suspicious. We asked the HR manager why they wanted our help. "Because these new folks will be working with you guys, not us," she answered. "Doesn't it make sense that you have a say in who gets hired?" But that's always been the case - why invite us in now? "Because the world has changed," she smiled. "Those adversarial days are behind us". As stunned as we were, her observation wasn't totally wrong. It did sort of make sense. Admittedly, over the years the union had rolled its eyes in disbelief at some of the people the company had hired, and had marveled at some of the stories and assertions they'd apparently swallowed during the interview process. We were a tough audience; behavior that impressed management didn;t necessarily impress us. Often, where they saw a clear, open road, we saw danger signs. In truth, while we never in our wildest dreams imagined being given a chance to put it into practice, we always assumed we could do a better job of hiring union workers than the seminar crowd could. Maybe we were fooling ourselves, but we honestly believed we could smell a stinker a mile away. So we decided to take the plunge - but on our terms. We began by reconfirming the company's premise. Did they agree that we had more insight into the psyches of working men and women than they did? Yes. And when it came to interviewing these people, did they agree that we probably had the better bullshit detectors? Yes. And because they were the petitioning party, we felt we had some leverage. First, even though we understood their concerns, we insisted that it be the union, not the company, who chose who attended. They balked at first, but once we convinced them we wouldn't be bringing in any Mau-Mau or anti-social types (why would we?), they agreed. But our second demand turned out to be a deal breaker. Remembering Douglas Fraser, the former president of the UAW who, in 1980, was named a token member of Chrysler's Board of Directors, we told them that we wanted to be more than a hood ornament; we wanted to be the engine. We wanted the final say on who got hired. It wasn't as radical as it sounded. We weren't looking to overthrow the regime or seize power. This was still going to be entirely their show. While they would do all the necessary vetting - checking backgrounds, confirming employment records, conducting preliminary interviews - once they were satisfied and prepared to offer them jobs, the candidates would be turned over to the union, and we would conduct our own interviews. The company balked. They wanted to know exactly what kind of interviews we had in mind. All we could promise was that we wouldn't ask anything illegal or grossly offensive, and that our sole aim would be to learn all we could about these applicants - what kind of relief they'd make, how they'd handle the stress of high-speed equipment, how agreeable they'd be, how diligent, how reliable, how trustworthy, etc. We were confident that our knowledge of the environment, our style, our humor, the questions and scenarios we posed - all of it - would induce these applicants to drop their guard and allow us to pierce their defenses, especially once it was clear that there were no management people in the room to intimidate them. Alas, this is where it all came to a screeching halt. Which was unfortunate because some of us were excited at the prospect of putting such an experimental program to work. While the company insisted they would "consider" our input, they refused to let us make the final call (to give us "veto power," as they put it). They reminded us that hiring employees was their job, not ours, and that wasn't going to change any time soon. Some of the E-Board's more skeptical members had been opposed to the idea from the beginning. They suspected that the company's real aim was more symbolic (a la the UAW's Doug Fraser) than practical, that they were more interested in showcasing their "New Culture" relationship with the union than in actually doing something innovative. We declined their offer. Understandably, the company was bitterly disappointed. They accused the union of being "close-minded," "stubborn" and "irrational," and we accused them of being gutless swine. Apparently, all it took for both sides to flee the New Culture and engage in the mutual recriminations so reminiscent of the pre-Reagan era was an old-fashioned labor-management dispute. Following my early departure from the facility in 1999 (foolishly believing I could make a commensurate living as a playwright), I learned that the Local had agreed to serve as a "partner" in the hiring process, albeit in a very limited role. Since the partnership the company has hired many average workers, some good workers, a few heroic workers, and some really crappy workers - just as they always had. Which raises the question: How would it have played out had the union been given the reins? David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright and author (It.s Never Been Easy: Essays on Modern Labor), was a former union rep. He can be reached at: dmacaray [at] earthlink.net. Read other articles by David. This article was posted on Friday, November 12th, 2010 at 7:00am and is filed under Labor, Unions. 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