Progressive Calendar 05.21.08
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 21 May 2008 00:43:33 -0700 (PDT)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R     05.21.08

1. Judges/KFAI       5.21 11am
2. Mpls free speech  5.21 1pm
3. End anti-lurk law 5.21 1pm
4. RNC march/StP     5.21 3:30pm
5. 3CD Greens/CTV    5.21 4pm
6. Planned pthood    5.21 6pm
7. Green design conf 5.21-22

8. New Hope demo     5.22 4:30pm
9. Eagan peace vigil 5.22 4:30pm
10. Northtown vigil  5.22 5pm
11. Urban garden     5.22 6pm
12. Hwy 55/film      5.22 7pm
13. Lebanon          5.22 7pm
14. Congo            5.22 7:30pm
15. Palestine        5.22 7:30pm
16. French hip hop   5.22 8pm

17. Somalia/health   5.23 3:30pm
18. Palestine        5.23 4:15pm
19. Abu Ghraib/film  5.23
20. Plays/films      5.23-6.01

21. Erik Hare        - A review of "Tragedy in South Lebanon"
22. Ralph Nader      - A trip inside Google
23. Chalmers Johnson - Our "managed democracy"
24. ed               - bumpersticker

--------1 of 24--------

From: Andy Driscoll <andy [at]>
Subject: Judges/KFAI 5.21 11am

POLITICS AND THE JUDICIARY: How Should We Pick Our Judges?

A recent Supreme Court ruling opened the door to a practice previously
prohibited by Minnesotašs Canon of Judicial Ethics. Judicial candidates
may no longer be prevented from expressing opinions on issues that may
come before the bench, perhaps in the process revealing a bias in favor of
one side or another well before the facts are in and a ruling issued. Many
legal types see this as turning the entire judicial branch of government
into an expensive, nasty politically driven court system. Others insist
that traditional elections open debate to reveal bias and make the
judiciary more accountable.

Former GOVERNOR AL QUIE is spearheading a drive to create a state
Constitutional amendment advocates believe addresses both impartiality and
electoral accountability ­ retention elections.

TTTšs Andy Driscoll and Lynnell Mickelsen talk with Governor Quie and
others about the pluses and minuses of a system that would place only
previously incumbent judges before voters, but not directly elect

 MARK CHRONISTER, President, Minnesotans for Impartial Courts
KFAI Radio, 90.3 Minneapolis /106.7 St. Paul / Streamed [at]

--------2 of 24--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: Mpls free speech 5.21 1pm

Minneapolis City Council's
PS&RS Committee Meeting
Wednesday, May 21
1:00 p.m.
Minneapolis City Hall
350 S 5th Street, Rm 317

We need your help to prevent an unreasonable new ordinance that restricts
free speech from being passed by the City of Minneapolis. This Wednesday,
May 21, a subcommittee of the Minneapolis City Council will meet to vote
on a proposed ordinance that would require groups of 50 or more to apply
for a permit to demonstrate, even if they are planning to gather on the
sidewalk and do not intend to block the sidewalk. Groups can apply for a
permit up to 60 days before the date of their protest, but must apply
within 15 days of that date. This requirement denies people the right to
organize protests quickly in direct response to an immediate event, and
prevents people from gathering spontaneously.

There is no appeal process if a permit is denied. The proposed ordinance
also gives police the right to change the terms of a permit that has been
granted during the protest itself, and to disband the group at their

There is currently no Minneapolis city ordinance requiring groups who
gather on the sidewalk to get a permit. This ordinance was written with
the RNC in mind but its author, Paul Ostrow, said at the last PS&RS
meeting that he intends for this law to become permanent.  At that
meeting, a quartet of mouthpieces for the local business community got up
one after the other and expressed their support for Ostrow's measure,
stating that it will allow them to maintain a neat and orderly business
climate (unmolested by a little thing known as the First Amendment).  One
guy went so far as to demand "business as usual."  Well, we're in the
middle of a war predicated on lies under an administration that uses
torture in violation of international human rights standards.  The
murderous cops who killed Sean Bell in NYC were let off scot free while
MPD and St. Paul cops who thug on people continue to get a free pass.
This AIN'T the time for business as usual!

Cam Gordon has said he will introduce a counterproposal that eliminates
many of the issues with this ordinance and he also plans to introduce a
separate proposal that will control police behavior.  The fireworks from
that will definitely be worth watching!

Take action NOW to oppose this ordinance before the it gets out of this
committee and makes it to the full City Council can vote on it. The Public
Safety and Regulatory Services subcommittee meets this Wednesday, May 21
at 1 pm in room 317 at Minneapolis City Hall (350 S 5th St) to consider
Please attend this meeting or contact the Minneapolis City Council to
express your concerns. The following council members are part of the PSRS

Don Samuels don.samuels [at] (612) 673-2205
Paul Ostrow
<>paul.ostrow [at]
(612) 673-2201
Diane Hofstede
<>diane.hofstede [at]
(612) 673-2203
Barbara Johnson
<>barbara.johnson [at]
(612) 673-2204
Cam Gordon
<>cam.gordon [at]
(612) 673-2202
Gary Schiff (612) 673-2209

--------3 of 24--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: End anti-lurk law 5.21 1pm

Public Hearing
Minneapolis City Council's
PS&RS Committee Meeting
Wednesday, May 21
1:00 p.m.
Minneapolis City Hall
350 S 5th Street, Rm 317

While you're down at city hall standing up for free speech you can make it
a 2 for 1 by sticking around for the public hearing on overturning the
Minneapolis lurking ordinance.  This terrible ordinance makes it a crime
to "lurk with intent" - meaning the cops get to pretend they can read your
mind.  The ordinance is so vague that it would be impossible to know what
not to do to avoid being arrested under it.  The vast majority of people
arrested under this ordinance are homeless Blacks.  As a result, a
homeless person is arrested every 2.1 hours in Minneapolis with most
charges being lurking, loitering or public urination.  Roughtly 80-90% of
lurking charges are thrown out once they reach court.

Speak out against this truly terrible ordinance, which exists only to
give cops and excuse to arrest poor people.  Council member Cam
Gordon plans to introduce measures to strengthen the loitering
ordinance as an inducement to the other council members to support
overturning the lurking ordinance.  We wish to make it clear that
CUAPB absolutely does not support this strategy or any further
strengthening of the already vague and overused ordinance.  We want
nothing less than an outright repeal of the lurking ordinance.

--------4 of 24--------

From: Michelle Gross <mgresist [at]>
Subject: RNC march/StP 5.21 3:30pm

Wednesday, May 21
3:30 p.m., public hearing at 5:30 p.m.
St. Paul City Hall
15 W Kellogg Blvd, 3rd Floor
St. Paul

Call on St. Paul Mayor & City Council to Support Permit Appeal by the
Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War

On Wednesday, May 14, the Coalition to March on the RNC and Stop the War
received an alternate permit for our demonstration on September 1, 2008.
This alternate permit was provided because both the route and the time in
our permit application were rejected by St. Paul Police.

Thanks to public pressure from you, and pending legal action in federal
court, we now have a permit that will take our march up to the Xcel

However, the terms of the alternate permit will not accommodate the large,
national demonstration we are planning. The space and time limitations are
unworkable, and are designed to limit the impact we can have on the RNC
and its media coverage.

Every street around the Xcel Center will be closed, to provide security to
the politicians who will meet inside to congratulate themselves on 5 years
of a brutal war on Iraq. Two parking lots adjacent to the Xcel are
reserved for media trucks, which the RNC will rely on to broadcast their
message of war, trying to convince the people of this country to cast
their votes for more years of war and human suffering in Iraq, and more
years of ignoring human needs here at home.

The alternate permit grants our Coalition the small space that remains: A
2000 square foot triangle, across the street from the Xcel Center.  Our
permit allows the use of that space for less than 2 hours, and requires
that the march proceed along a 1000-foot long turn about, then turn back
on itself, and return to the State Capitol Building on the same road we
marched in on.  This limited time and space cannot accommodate 50,000

The alternative permit effectively protects the Republicans and their
message of war, while restricting the rights of common people to demand
peace, justice and equality. Limiting both time and space for the march -
ensures that only some protesters will have a chance to raise their voice
at the site of the Convention, while thousands may never even see the
building. This is a plan we cannot accept.

According to the City ordinance, permit decisions can be appealed to City
Council. This week, we will ask St. Paul City Council members to overturn
the police department's decision, and grant our original permit request
for September 1, 2008. We will also raise our objections to the alternate
permit that was granted.

Moreover, the St. Paul Police Department is required to demonstrate a
substantial public safety interest that necessitates rejecting the
original request. We have received no explanation of how the alternate
route satisfies any concerns raised by our original route. City Council
members can get real answers.

We ask you to call on the St. Paul City Council to stand on the side of
peace and justice, to issue the permit we applied for, to ensure a
successful March on the RNC to stop the war on Iraq.

We expect our appeal to be heard at the City Council meeting on Wednesday,
May 21, 2008, on the 3rd floor of City Hall at 15 W. Kellogg Blvd, St.
Paul. The meeting begins at 3:30pm, and public hearings are scheduled for
5:30pm - it is not clear when the Permit appeal will be scheduled on the
agenda. Please attend the meeting if you can, and contact St. Paul City
officials beforehand.

Ask them to approve the original permit application, including a later and
longer time, and a route that physically accommodates more protesters and
provides more space at the Xcel Center. They can also help by getting the
police to answer some of these questions:

1.  Why was the original permit denied? What specifically about the route
and time would create the traffic and safety issues stated as the basis
for denial? How does the alternate permit avoid these issues?

2.  Why does the March have to clear the Xcel by 2:00 p.m.? Will all
demonstrators be banned from the "soft security zone" after 2:00 p.m.? If
not, why can't the March go later in the afternoon?  Can the March
starting time be moved back to accommodate people from out of town who
will be arriving? If not, why not?

3. Why do the free speech rights of the corporate media take precedence
over the rights of the people? Two parking lots adjacent to X-Cel are both
being given to the media, can't one of them be given to the people? Either
parking lot would not be any closer to X-Cel than the demonstration zone,
but would greatly expand the ability of people to reach the Xcel and turn
around without problems.

4. When will the delegates arrive on 9/1/08? Is the plan to make the March
pass by X-Cel center by 2:00 p.m. just so that it will be gone by the time
the delegates start arriving?

<mailto:ward1 [at]>Debbie Montgomery (Ward 1) * 651-266-8610
<mailto:ward2 [at]>Dave Thune (Ward 2) * 651-266-8620
<mailto:ward3 [at]>Pat Harris (Ward 3) * 651-266-8630
<mailto:ward4 [at]>Russ Stark(Ward 4) * (651) 266-8640
<mailto:ward5 [at]>Lee Helgen (Ward 5) * 651-266-8650
<mailto:ward6 [at]>Dan Bostrom (Ward 6) * 651-266-8660
<mailto:ward7 [at]>Kathy Lantry, President (Ward 7) * 

Also, please contact
<mailto:mayor [at]>Chris Coleman, Mayor * 651-266-8510

See a map of the City's proposal on-line here -

See the Coalition's proposed route on-line here -

--------5 of 24--------

From: Alan Hancock
Subject: 3CD Greens/CTV 5.21 4pm

3rd Congressional District Green Party Show.

Wednesday May 21 at 4 PM
Thursday May 22 at 12 AM and 8 AM

This show features Ken Pentel Green Party Candidate for Governor 2006 as
keynote speaker at the Earth Day event in Fergus Falls, MN on April 22.

--------6 of 24--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at]>
Subject: Planned parent 5.21 6pm

May 21: Planned Parenthood MN/ND/SD. Please join Friends for Planned
Parenthood for a reading, remarks, and book signing by renowned author Dr.
Kenneth Edelin, whose recent book, Broken Justice, tells the story of his
trial, conviction, and ultimate exoneration of manslaughter charges for
performing a safe, legal abortion after the Roe v. Wade decision. Ticket
price $25. 6-7:30 PM. Open Book/The Loft Literary Center, Minneapolis.

--------7 of 24--------

From: Minnesota Housing Partnership [mailto:bjacobs [at]]
Subject: Green design conf 5.21-22

Minnesota Housing Partnership is a proud sponsor of the
3rd Annual Green by Design conference
How to plan and build healthy, sustainable affordable housing and
communities in Minnesota

Wednesday, May 21 and Thursday, May 22 * The Depot * Minneapolis
This conference will be held May 21st and 22nd, 2008 at The Depot in
Minneapolis, and will welcome Mark Fenton (Host of PBS's America's
Walking), and Van Jones (Green for All) as keynote speakers during the

The Green by Design conference and training aims to provide housing
developers, builders, contractors, architects, city planners,
environmentalists, funders, and other professionals the tools needed to
build energy efficient, healthy, and sustainable housing. Multiple tracks
will be offered, including sessions by local and national experts that
focus on various elements of the Green Communities Criteria and other
related topics. Examples of successful green building projects, including
both multifamily and single-family developments, will be highlighted
throughout the conference.

Topics of interest include: Residential Green Building * Minnesota Housing
Funding Requirements * Energy Conservation and Climate Protection
Strategies * Green Rehabilitation * Equitable Green Economic Development *
Ensuring Healthy Homes and Communities * Rural and Urban Greening
Strategies * Sustainable Land Use Planning * Green Building Materials *
and other great topics on green building, design, and public policy.

The Minnesota Housing Partnership is a statewide nonprofit organization
that advances the preservation and creation of housing affordable to low-
and moderate-income people as a means of strengthening communities and
families. MHP provides local governments and nonprofit housing
organizations access to loans, grants, and technical expertise to plan and
construct housing, in addition to advocating and educating people on sound
housing policies.

--------8 of 24--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at]>
Subject: New Hope demo 5.22 4:30pm

NWN4P-New Hope demonstration every Thursday 4:30 to 6 PM at the corner
of Winnetka and 42nd.  You may park near Walgreens or in the larger lot
near McDonalds; we will be on all four corners.  Bring your own or use
our signs.

--------9 of 24--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 5.22 4:30pm

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

--------10 of 24--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 5.22 5pm

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

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

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

--------11 of 24--------

From: Do It Green! Minnesota <Do_It_Green_Minnesota [at]>
Subject: Urban garden 5.22 6pm

Community & Urban Gardening 101 with Kirsten Saylor
Thurs, May 22nd  6-8pm
Eat Street Community Garden (2416 1st Ave S, Mpls)

Outdoor workshop. Please dress accordingly. Uncooperative weather means
the workshop will be at the Do It Green! Resource Center. Check the
website or email annie [at] to confirm the location on the day of
the workshop.

The urban gardening movement is taking hold of the Twin Cities! Nothing
can be more local nor more satisfying than growing it yourself within your
own neighborhood or city. If you don't have a sunny backyard (or front
yard), there are still many options available to grow your own vegetables,
herbs and more. Kirsten Saylor of GardenWorks will help you navigate the
alternatives, from community gardens to sunny windows.

--------12 of 24--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Hwy 55/film 5.22 7pm

Thursday, 5/22, 7 pm, independent documentary on the Highway 55 reroute
encampment "The ReRoute: Taking a Stand on Sacred Land," Riverview
Theater, 38th St and 42nd Ave, Mpls.  biego001 [at] or

--------13 of 24--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Lebanon 5.22 7pm

Thursday, 5/22, 7 pm, Middle East expert Cathy Sultan discusses her new
book "Tragedy in South Lebanon" about the lives of civilians in south
Lebanan and northern Israel during and fter the war of July 2006, Common
Good Books, 165 Western Ave, St Paul. or

--------14 of 24--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Congo 5.22 7:30pm

Thursday, 5/22, 7:30 pm, A.P. reporter Bryan Mealer discusses his new book
"All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo,"
about the most deadly war since WW II, which has claimed an estimated 3.9
million lives, Magers and Quinn Booksellers, 3038 Hennepin Ave S, Mpls. or 612-822-4611.

--------15 of 24--------

From: "wamm [at]" <wamm [at]>
Subject: Palestine 5.22 7:30pm

Susan Abulhawa: "The Scar of David"
Thursday, May 22, 7:30 p.m. Open Book, 1011 Washington Avenue South,

Susan Abulhawa, author of "The Scar of David" and winner of the 2007
National Best Book Award, presents a literary masterpiece of the
Palestinian story. Mizna Journal release party. $5.00. Sponsored by: the
Coalition for Palestinian Rights, Mizna, the Institute for Global Studies,
the Consortium for the Study of the Asias, and the Department of Asian
Languages and Literatures at the University of Minnesota.

--------16 of 24--------

From: Melis Arik <birchswinger2 [at]>
Subject: French hip hop 5.22 8pm     [Freedom hip hop?]

powerful / political / prophetic french hip hop
La Rumeur + Ursus Minor
with Post Nomadic Syndrome / PosNoSys
Thursday, May 22
Triple Rock Social Club
629 Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis
Doors 8:00 pm
$12 advance, $15 door   18+
opening the show: Post Nomadic Syndrome/PosNoSys
An open conversation with La Rumeur
Wednesday, May 21
Selam Coffee Shop
3860 Minnehaha Avenue, Minneapolis
7:30 pm

These events are part of the 4th annual Minnesota sur Seine Music
Festival* May 15 - May 25w* <>

Known throughout France for their intensely political lyrics, La Rumeur's
music speaks out about the post-colonial "legacy" lived out in the
experiences of their parents and in their own lives as French-born
children of immigrants. We in the US have heard the news of riots of
immigrant youth in the Paris suburbs; taking as a subject the lived
injustices and contradictions of daily life in these commnities has landed
La Rumeur with accusations and literal indictments of "inciting the
riots." (One of the members of the group, Hame, currently awaits trial on
these charges next week and so will not be appearing at MN sur Seine).

Hear them live at the Triple Rock on Thursday, May 22!
To know more about the power behind the beats, feel free to drop by Selam
Coffee Shop on Wednesday, May 21, for an open and informal conversation
about hip hop, political and personal evolution, making art and change...
and wherever the conversation may lead! *Hosted by ibe kaba.*

--------17 of 24--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Somalia/health 5.23 3:30pm

Friday, 5/23, 3:30 to 6 pm, St Kate's presents documentary (and discussion
of) "The Forgotten Struggle: Healthcare in Somalia," free, Old Main
auditorium #600, College of St Catherine, Mpls campus, 601 - 25th Ave,

--------18 of 24--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Palestine 5.23 4:15pm

Friday, 5/23, 4:15 to 5:30 pm, vigil to end US military/political support
of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, corner Summit and Snelling, St

--------19 of 24--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Abu Ghraib/film 5.23

5/23 to 5/29, director Errol Morris (Fog of War) presents documentary
"Standard Operating Procedure" about the people who made and were in the
infamous photos of torture at Abu Ghraib, Lagoon Cinema, 1350 Lagoon Ave,
Uptown Mpls,

--------20 of 24--------

From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at]>
Subject: Plays/films 5.23-6.01

5/23 to 6/1, Spirit in the House presents a spiritual play and film
festival at Hennepin Ave United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Ave, Mpls.

Plays include Jesus in Guantanamo (which ed has seen and very highly
recommends), Witnessing to a Murder by a friend of ed's and highly
recommended by people ed trusts, The Diana and Mother Teresa Story which
ed has heard rave comments about..  Also perhaps of interest are the plays
Dachau Dreaming about the liberation of the death camp, Presente!
apparently about the US-operated torture training school, and The World's
Most Frequently Bombed Hotel which takes place in Belfast during the
Troubles.  Details can be found at

--------21 of 24--------

Books about Peace:  A Review of "Tragedy in South Lebanon"
By Erik Hare

From far away, people in the United States get their information on the
ongoing wars of the Middle East from news sources.  These invariably
emphasize what has changed and what is new about the situation.  But what
hasn't changed is the suffering of the people who are caught in it and
their determination to live their lives while audaciously working for

They are the voices of Cathy Sultan's new book, "Tragedy in South Lebanon:
The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006".  The geo-political forces that rain
down on them examined not as if the region was some kind of chessboard,
but as a power struggle involving real people - including the United
States.  Cathy doesn't let anyone off the hook as the misery, death,
cultural genocide and determined hope of the people are all placed into a
context that anyone with a heart and a brain can understand.

Cathy Sultan raised her family in Beruit and has been actively pursuing
peace as an Executive Board Member of the National Peace Foundation.
This personal connection with the situation shows in "Tragedy in South
Lebanon" through her delicate yet direct touch with her sources and
interviewees.  She isn't a journalist, she is someone who cares deeply
about Lebanon and the desperate need for peace.

With its myriad political, cultural, and economic force, the Middle East
can be difficult for outsiders to understand.  "Tragedy in South Lebanon"
not only explains this situation clearly and concisely, it's also an
excellent read.  Most importantly, you'll never read a dry, analytical
news article about the region again without remembering that these are
real people struggling with the situation.  That's the transformative
power of "Tragedy in South Lebanon", and why it's a must read as the
United States finds itself deeper and deeper into a region so few of us
can relate to.

For more information on Cathy Sultan, visit her website at

--------22 of 24--------

Can the Company Break the Political Gridlock?
A Trip Inside Google
May 20, 2008

An invitation to visit Google's headquarters and meet some of the people
who made this ten year old giant that is giving Microsoft the nervies has
to start with wonder.

The "campus" keeps spreading with the growth of Google into more and more
fields, even though advertising revenue still comprises over 90 percent of
its total revenues. The company wants to "change the world," make all
information digital and accessible through Google. Its company motto is
"Do No Evil," which comes under increasing scrutiny, especially in the
firm's business with the national security state in Washington, D.C. and
with the censors of Red China.

Google's two founders out of Stanford graduate school - Sergey Brin and
Larry Page - place the highest premium on hiring smart, motivated people
who provide their own edge and work their own hours.

We were given "the tour" before entering a large space to be asked and
answer questions before an audience of wunderkinds. E-mail traffic was
monitored worldwide with a variety of electronic globes with various
lights marking which countries were experiencing high or low traffic.
Africa was the least lit. One of our photographers started to take a
picture but was politely waved away with a few proprietary words. A new
breed of trade secrets.

I noticed all the places where food - free and nutritious - was available.
The guide said that food is no further than 150 feet from any workplace.
"How can they keep their weight down with all these tempting repasts?" I

"Wait," he said, leading us toward a large room where an almost eerie
silence surrounded dozens of exercising Googlelites going through their
solitary motions at 3:45 in the afternoon.

"How many hours do they work?" one of my colleagues asked.

"We don't really know. As long as they want to," came the response.

In the amphitheatre, the director of communications and I started a Q and
A, followed by more questions from the audience. It was followed by a
YouTube interview. You can see both of them on: (Q&A) and (Interview).

Google is a gigantic information means, bedecked with ever complex
software, to what end? Information ideally leads to knowledge, then to
judgment, then to wisdom and then to some action. As the ancient Chinese
proverb succinctly put it - "To know and not to do is not to know".

But what happens when a company is riding an ever rising crest of
digitized information avalanches without being able to catch its breath
and ask, "information for what?" I commented that we have had more
information available in the last twenty five years, though our country
and world seem to be getting worse overall; measured by indicators of the
human condition. With information being the "currency of democracy,"
conditions should be improving across the board.

"Knowledge for what?" I asked.

Well, for starters, Google is trying to figure out how to put on its own
Presidential debates, starting with one in New Orleans in the autumn.
Certainly it can deliver an internet audience of considerable size. But
will the major candidates balk if there are other candidates meeting
criteria such as a majority of Americans wanting them to participate?

The present Commission on Presidential Debates is a private nonprofit
corporation created and controlled by the Republican and Democratic
Parties. They do not want other seats on the stage and the television
networks follow along with this exclusionary format.

Google, with its own Foundation looking for creative applications that
produce results for the well-being of people, should hold regular public
hearings on the ground around the country for ideas. They may be surprised
by what people propose.

In any event, the examples of knowing but not doing are everywhere. More
people succumbed to tuberculosis in the world last year than ten years
ago. Medical scientists learned how to treat TB nearly fifty years ago.
Knowledge alone is not enough.

For years the technology to present the up-to-date voting record of each
member of Congress has been available. Yet only about a dozen legislators
do so, led by Reps. Frank Wolf (R-VA) and Chris Shays (R-CT). Recalcitrant
power blocks what people most want directly from their lawmakers. website.
Here Google can make the difference with Capitol Hill, if it wants to
connect information technology to informed voters.

When the internet began, some of us thought that it would make it easy and
cheap for people to band together for bargaining and lobbying as
consumers. At last, the big banks, insurance companies, credit card
companies, automobile firms and so forth would have organized
countervailing consumer power with millions of members and ample full time
staffs. It has not happened.

Clearly technology and information by themselves do not produce beneficial
change. That depends on how decentralized political, economic and social
power is exercised in a corporate society where the few decide for the

I left Google hoping for a more extensive follow-up conversation, grounded
in Marcus Cicero's assertion, over 2000 years ago, that "Freedom is
participation in power". That is what connects knowledge to beneficial
action, if people have that freedom.

I hope my discussions with the Google staff produced some food for thought
that percolates up the organization to Google's leaders.

Ralph Nader is running for president as an independent.

--------23 of 24--------

Our "Managed Democracy"
By Chalmers Johnson
May 20, 2008
Source: Truthdig
Chalmers Johnson's ZSpace Page

It is not news that the United States is in great trouble. The pre-emptive
war it launched against Iraq more than five years ago was and is a mistake
of monumental proportions - one that most Americans still fail to
acknowledge. Instead they are arguing about whether we should push on to
"victory" when even our own generals tell us that a military victory is
today inconceivable. Our economy has been hollowed out by excessive
military spending over many decades while our competitors have devoted
themselves to investments in lucrative new industries that serve civilian
needs. Our political system of checks and balances has been virtually
destroyed by rampant cronyism and corruption in Washington, D.C., and by a
two-term president who goes around crowing "I am the decider," a concept
fundamentally hostile to our constitutional system. We have allowed our
elections, the one nonnegotiable institution in a democracy, to be debased
and hijacked - as was the 2000 presidential election in Florida - with
scarcely any protest from the public or the self-proclaimed press
guardians of the "Fourth Estate." We now engage in torture of defenseless
prisoners although it defames and demoralizes our armed forces and
intelligence agencies.

The problem is that there are too many things going wrong at the same time
for anyone to have a broad understanding of the disaster that has overcome
us and what, if anything, can be done to return our country to
constitutional government and at least a degree of democracy. By now,
there are hundreds of books on particular aspects of our situation.the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bloated and unsupervised "defense"
budgets, the imperial presidency and its contempt for our civil liberties,
the widespread privatization of traditional governmental functions, and a
political system in which no leader dares even to utter the words
imperialism and militarism in public.

There are, however, a few attempts at more complex analyses of how we
arrived at this sorry state. They include Naomi Klein, "The Shock
Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism," on how "private" economic
power now is almost coequal with legitimate political power; John W. Dean,
"Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative,
Executive, and Judicial Branches," on the perversion of our main defenses
against dictatorship and tyranny; Arianna Huffington, "Right Is Wrong: How
the Lunatic Fringe Hijacked America, Shredded the Constitution, and Made
Us All Less Safe," on the manipulation of fear in our political life and
the primary role played by the media; and Naomi Wolf, "The End of America:
Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot," on "Ten Steps to Fascism" and where
we currently stand on this staircase. My own book, "Nemesis: The Last Days
of the American Republic," on militarism as an inescapable accompaniment
of imperialism, also belongs to this genre.

We now have a new, comprehensive diagnosis of our failings as a democratic
polity by one of our most seasoned and respected political philosophers.
For well over two generations, Sheldon Wolin taught the history of
political philosophy from Plato to the present to Berkeley and Princeton
graduate students (including me; I took his seminars at Berkeley in the
late 1950s, thus influencing my approach to political science ever since).
He is the author of the prize-winning classic "Politics and Vision" (1960;
expanded edition, 2006) and "Tocqueville Between Two Worlds" (2001), among
many other works.

His new book, "Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter
of Inverted Totalitarianism," is a devastating critique of the
contemporary government of the United States - including what has happened
to it in recent years and what must be done if it is not to disappear into
history along with its classic totalitarian predecessors: Fascist Italy,
Nazi Germany and Bolshevik Russia. The hour is very late and the
possibility that the American people might pay attention to what is wrong
and take the difficult steps to avoid a national Gtterdmmerung are remote,
but Wolin's is the best analysis of why the presidential election of 2008
probably will not do anything to mitigate our fate. This book demonstrates
why political science, properly practiced, is the master social science.

Wolin's work is fully accessible. Understanding his argument does not
depend on possessing any specialized knowledge, but it would still be wise
to read him in short bursts and think about what he is saying before
moving on. His analysis of the contemporary American crisis relies on a
historical perspective going back to the original constitutional agreement
of 1789 and includes particular attention to the advanced levels of social
democracy attained during the New Deal and the contemporary mythology that
the U.S., beginning during World War II, wields unprecedented world power.

Given this historical backdrop, Wolin introduces three new concepts to
help analyze what we have lost as a nation. His master idea is "inverted
totalitarianism," which is reinforced by two subordinate notions that
accompany and promote it - "managed democracy" and "Superpower," the
latter always capitalized and used without a direct article. Until the
reader gets used to this particular literary tic, the term Superpower can
be confusing. The author uses it as if it were an independent agent,
comparable to Superman or Spiderman, and one that is inherently
incompatible with constitutional government and democracy.

Wolin writes, "Our thesis ... is this: it is possible for a form of
totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a
putatively 'strong democracy' instead of a 'failed' one." His
understanding of democracy is classical but also populist, anti-elitist
and only slightly represented in the Constitution of the United States.
"Democracy," he writes, "is about the conditions that make it possible for
ordinary people to better their lives by becoming political beings and by
making power responsive to their hopes and needs." It depends on the
existence of a demos - "a politically engaged and empowered citizenry, one
that voted, deliberated, and occupied all branches of public office."
Wolin argues that to the extent the United States on occasion came close
to genuine democracy, it was because its citizens struggled against and
momentarily defeated the elitism that was written into the Constitution.

"No working man or ordinary farmer or shopkeeper," Wolin points out,
"helped to write the Constitution." He argues, "The American political
system was not born a democracy, but born with a bias against democracy.
It was constructed by those who were either skeptical about democracy or
hostile to it. Democratic advance proved to be slow, uphill, forever
incomplete. The republic existed for three-quarters of a century before
formal slavery was ended; another hundred years before black Americans
were assured of their voting rights. Only in the twentieth century were
women guaranteed the vote and trade unions the right to bargain
collectively. In none of these instances has victory been complete: women
still lack full equality, racism persists, and the destruction of the
remnants of trade unions remains a goal of corporate strategies. Far from
being innate, democracy in America has gone against the grain, against the
very forms by which the political and economic power of the country has
been and continues to be ordered." Wolin can easily control his enthusiasm
for James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution, and he sees the
New Deal as perhaps the only period of American history in which rule by a
true demos prevailed.

To reduce a complex argument to its bare bones, since the Depression, the
twin forces of managed democracy and Superpower have opened the way for
something new under the sun: "inverted totalitarianism," a form every bit
as totalistic as the classical version but one based on internalized
co-optation, the appearance of freedom, political disengagement rather
than mass mobilization, and relying more on "private media" than on public
agencies to disseminate propaganda that reinforces the official version of
events. It is inverted because it does not require the use of coercion,
police power and a messianic ideology as in the Nazi, Fascist and
Stalinist versions (although note that the United States has the highest
percentage of its citizens in prison - 751 per 100,000 people - of any
nation on Earth). According to Wolin, inverted totalitarianism has
"emerged imperceptibly, unpremeditatedly, and in seeming unbroken
continuity with the nation's political traditions."

The genius of our inverted totalitarian system "lies in wielding total
power without appearing to, without establishing concentration camps, or
enforcing ideological uniformity, or forcibly suppressing dissident
elements so long as they remain ineffectual. ... A demotion in the status
and stature of the 'sovereign people' to patient subjects is symptomatic
of systemic change, from democracy as a method of 'popularizing' power to
democracy as a brand name for a product marketable at home and marketable
abroad. ... The new system, inverted totalitarianism, is one that
professes the opposite of what, in fact, it is. ... The United States has
become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to
be suppressed."

Among the factors that have promoted inverted totalitarianism are the
practice and psychology of advertising and the rule of "market forces" in
many other contexts than markets, continuous technological advances that
encourage elaborate fantasies (computer games, virtual avatars, space
travel), the penetration of mass media communication and propaganda into
every household in the country, and the total co-optation of the
universities. Among the commonplace fables of our society are hero worship
and tales of individual prowess, eternal youthfulness, beauty through
surgery, action measured in nanoseconds, and a dream-laden culture of
ever-expanding control and possibility, whose adepts are prone to
fantasies because the vast majority have imagination but little scientific
knowledge. Masters of this world are masters of images and their
manipulation. Wolin reminds us that the image of Adolf Hitler flying to
Nuremberg in 1934 that opens Leni Riefenstahl's classic film "Triumph of
the Will" was repeated on May 1, 2003, with President George Bush's
apparent landing of a Navy warplane on the flight deck of the USS Abraham
Lincoln to proclaim "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq.

On inverted totalitarianism's "self-pacifying" university campuses
compared with the usual intellectual turmoil surrounding independent
centers of learning, Wolin writes, "Through a combination of governmental
contracts, corporate and foundation funds, joint projects involving
university and corporate researchers, and wealthy individual donors,
universities (especially so-called research universities), intellectuals,
scholars, and researchers have been seamlessly integrated into the system.
No books burned, no refugee Einsteins. For the first time in the history
of American higher education top professors are made wealthy by the
system, commanding salaries and perks that a budding CEO might envy."

The main social sectors promoting and reinforcing this modern Shangri-La
are corporate power, which is in charge of managed democracy, and the
military-industrial complex, which is in charge of Superpower. The main
objectives of managed democracy are to increase the profits of large
corporations, dismantle the institutions of social democracy (Social
Security, unions, welfare, public health services, public housing and so
forth), and roll back the social and political ideals of the New Deal. Its
primary tool is privatization. Managed democracy aims at the "selective
abdication of governmental responsibility for the well-being of the
citizenry" under cover of improving "efficiency" and cost-cutting.

Wolin argues, "The privatization of public services and functions
manifests the steady evolution of corporate power into a political form,
into an integral, even dominant partner with the state. It marks the
transformation of American politics and its political culture from a
system in which democratic practices and values were, if not defining, at
least major contributing elements, to one where the remaining democratic
elements of the state and its populist programs are being systematically
dismantled." This campaign has largely succeeded. "Democracy represented a
challenge to the status quo, today it has become adjusted to the status

One other subordinate task of managed democracy is to keep the citizenry
preoccupied with peripheral and/or private conditions of human life so
that they fail to focus on the widespread corruption and betrayal of the
public trust. In Wolin's words, "The point about disputes on such topics
as the value of sexual abstinence, the role of religious charities in
state-funded activities, the question of gay marriage, and the like, is
that they are not framed to be resolved. Their political function is to
divide the citizenry while obscuring class differences and diverting the
voters' attention from the social and economic concerns of the general
populace." Prominent examples of the elite use of such incidents to divide
and inflame the public are the Terri Schiavo case of 2005, in which a
brain-dead woman was kept artificially alive, and the 2008 case of women
and children living in a polygamous commune in Texas who were allegedly
sexually mistreated.

Another elite tactic of managed democracy is to bore the electorate to
such an extent that it gradually fails to pay any attention to politics.
Wolin perceives, "One method of assuring control is to make electioneering
continuous, year-round, saturated with party propaganda, punctuated with
the wisdom of kept pundits, bringing a result boring rather than
energizing, the kind of civic lassitude on which managed democracy
thrives." The classic example is certainly the nominating contests of the
two main American political parties during 2007 and 2008, but the dynastic
"competition" between the Bush and Clinton families from 1988 to 2008 is
equally relevant. It should be noted that between a half and two-thirds of
qualified voters have recently failed to vote, thus making the management
of the active electorate far easier. Wolin comments, "Every apathetic
citizen is a silent enlistee in the cause of inverted totalitarianism." It
remains to be seen whether an Obama candidacy can reawaken these apathetic
voters, but I suspect that Wolin would predict a barrage of corporate
media character assassination that would end this possibility.

Managed democracy is a powerful solvent for any vestiges of democracy left
in the American political system, but its powers are weak in comparison
with those of Superpower. Superpower is the sponsor, defender and manager
of American imperialism and militarism, aspects of American government
that have always been dominated by elites, enveloped in executive-branch
secrecy, and allegedly beyond the ken of ordinary citizens to understand
or oversee. Superpower is preoccupied with weapons of mass destruction,
clandestine manipulation of foreign policy (sometimes domestic policy,
too), military operations, and the fantastic sums of money demanded from
the public by the military-industrial complex. (The U.S. military spends
more than all other militaries on Earth combined. The official U.S.
defense budget for fiscal year 2008 is $623 billion; the next closest
national military budget is China's at $65 billion, according to the
Central Intelligence Agency.)

Foreign military operations literally force democracy to change its
nature: "In order to cope with the imperial contingencies of foreign war
and occupation," according to Wolin, "democracy will alter its character,
not only by assuming new behaviors abroad (e.g., ruthlessness,
indifference to suffering, disregard of local norms, the inequalities in
ruling a subject population) but also by operating on revised,
power-expansive assumptions at home. It will, more often than not, try to
manipulate the public rather than engage its members in deliberation. It
will demand greater powers and broader discretion in their use ('state
secrets'), a tighter control over society's resources, more summary
methods of justice, and less patience for legalities, opposition, and
clamor for socioeconomic reforms."

Imperialism and democracy are, in Wolin's terms, literally incompatible,
and the ever greater resources devoted to imperialism mean that democracy
will inevitably wither and die. He writes, "Imperial politics represents
the conquest of domestic politics and the latter's conversion into a
crucial element of inverted totalitarianism. It makes no sense to ask how
the democratic citizen could 'participate' substantively in imperial
politics; hence it is not surprising that the subject of empire is taboo
in electoral debates. No major politician or party has so much as publicly
remarked on the existence of an American empire."

>From the time of the United States' founding, its citizens have had a long
history of being complicit in the country's imperial ventures, including
its transcontinental expansion at the expense of native Americans,
Mexicans and Spanish imperialists. Theodore Roosevelt often commented that
Americans were deeply opposed to imperialism because of their successful
escape from the British empire but that "expansionism" was in their blood.
Over the years, American political analysis has carefully tried to
separate the military from imperialism, even though militarism is
imperialism's inescapable accompaniment. The military creates the empire
in the first place and is indispensable to its defense, policing and
expansion. Wolin observes, "That the patriotic citizen unswervingly
supports the military and its huge budgets means that conservatives have
succeeded in persuading the public that the military is distinct from the
government. Thus the most substantial element of state power is removed
from public debate."

It has taken a long time, but under George W. Bush's administration the
United States has finally achieved an official ideology of imperial
expansion comparable to those of Nazi and Soviet totalitarianisms. In
accordance with the National Security Strategy of the United States
(allegedly drafted by Condoleezza Rice and proclaimed on Sept. 9, 2002),
the United States is now committed to what it calls "preemptive war."
Wolin explains: "Preemptive war entails the projection of power abroad,
usually against a far weaker country, comparable say, to the Nazi invasion
of Belgium and Holland in 1940. It declares that the United States is
justified in striking at another country because of a perceived threat
that U.S. power will be weakened, severely damaged, unless it reacts to
eliminate the danger before it materializes. Preemptive war is Lebensraum
[Hitler's claim that his imperialism was justified by Germany's need for
"living room"] for the age of terrorism." This was, of course, the
official excuse for the American aggression against Iraq that began in

Many analysts, myself included, would conclude that Wolin has made a close
to airtight case that the American republic's days are numbered, but Wolin
himself does not agree. Toward the end of his study he produces a wish
list of things that should be done to ward off the disaster of inverted
totalitarianism: "rolling back the empire, rolling back the practices of
managed democracy; returning to the idea and practices of international
cooperation rather than the dogmas of globalization and preemptive
strikes; restoring and strengthening environmental protections;
reinvigorating populist politics; undoing the damage to our system of
individual rights; restoring the institutions of an independent judiciary,
separation of powers, and checks and balances; reinstating the integrity
of the independent regulatory agencies and of scientific advisory
processes; reviving representative systems responsive to popular needs for
health care, education, guaranteed pensions, and an honorable minimum
wage; restoring governmental regulatory authority over the economy; and
rolling back the distortions of a tax code that toadies to the wealthy and
corporate power."

Unfortunately, this is more a guide to what has gone wrong than a
statement of how to fix it, particularly since Wolin believes that our
political system is "shot through with corruption and awash in
contributions primarily from wealthy and corporate donors." It is
extremely unlikely that our party apparatus will work to bring the
military-industrial complex and the 16 secret intelligence agencies under
democratic control. Nonetheless, once the United States has followed the
classical totalitarianisms into the dustbin of history, Wolin's analysis
will stand as one of the best discourses on where we went wrong.

Chalmers Johnson's latest book is "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American
Republic," now available in a Holt Paperback. It is the third volume of
his Blowback Trilogy.

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