Progressive Calendar 11.12.10
From: David Shove (
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]>
Subject: Media/storytell 11.13 9am

Fall Media Forum and Storytelling Slam/ Storytelling and Beyond: STORY

Saturday, November 13 the Twin Cities Media Alliance's holds its sixth
annual Citizen Media Forum, where featured presenters include 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
or email Jeremy [at]

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

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
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]>
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]>
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
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

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]>
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

  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]>
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  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

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],

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]>
Subject: CUAPB 11.13 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)

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

From: Vanka485 [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 11.13 2pm

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

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

From: scot b <earthmannow [at]>
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

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

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

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
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]>
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]
Subject: Obama or progress 11.14 3pm

SUN.NOV. 14, 3pm to 6pm
May Day Books, 301 Cedar Ave. (basement Hub Bicycles) West Bank,
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]>
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 ) that does a lot
of secular work including womens rights and rescuing people from bonded

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

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

From: David Shove <shove001 [at]>
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] 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:
  Dissident Voice
  Common Dreams
 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

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

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

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

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]


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

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
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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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
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] Read other articles by David.

This article was posted on Friday, November 12th, 2010 at 7:00am and is
filed under Labor, Unions. ShareThis


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