Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Sunday, December 31, 2006

The debate over health care

Prior to the November 7 election there was tremendous support for doing something about the health care mess in this state, and in our country. There is growing support from all segments of our society who want to see changes in health care now--- during the upcoming state and congressional legislative sessions.

Let's be clear: people want single-payer, universal health care... nothing less, nothing more (for now). The American Medical Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, multi-national corporations, hospital conglomerates, HMO's, politicians, and especially the insurance companies along with their media pundits are now trying to hoodwink and trick us into accepting just about any scheme other than genuine single-payer, universal health care.

They are pitching all kinds of Mickey Mouse "Band-Aid" solutions... I guess Johnson and Johnson would like to protect their profits... ever see what a Band-Aid or disposable diaper costs in a hospital?

All these businesses and groups have their fingers in the cookie jar and they don't want the cookie jar taken away from them.

We must be very clear what we expect in the way of health care reform and let the politicians know we will settle for nothing less than real single-payer, universal health care because settling for single-payer, universal health care is already a compromise since we all know the long-term fix requires socialized health care.

What are the features of a socialized health care system? All industry associated with health care from the pharmaceutical companies to the manufacturers of high-tech equipment would be publicly owned industries. Hospitals and all health care institutions would be publicly owned and operated. Doctors and nurses would be paid wages or salaries. All support workers would receive real living wages, including those who mop the floors. All health care would be on a no fee basis from cradle to grave including eye, dental, and mental... nothing concerning human health would be excluded. All financing would come from the government with a tax on corporate profits and stock and bond transactions. The system would be completely publicly administered. We probably aren't going to have such a health care system like this in place anytime soon... anything from which a quick buck can't be made by a bunch of crooks, vultures and parasites is out of the question in America.

Socialized health care is out of the question because it just won't fly in America right now; it is as simple as that. This entire system is driven by greed and the accumulation of wealth... health care is just one more trough for the corporations to feed at. Health care in a civilized society would be based upon what people need and what society can afford.

In the United States the military budget is so overbearing that it makes the cost of anything that benefits people just about untouchable.

The social compromise that has been reached is single-payer, universal health care which is achievable right now if we all get behind it in a big way in telling the politicians we will settle for nothing less.

What are the main features of single-payer, universal health care that we cannot negotiate away like jobs have been negotiated away in union contracts?

First: the insurance companies have to be taken completely out of the picture... the government has to be the "single-payer." The insurance companies have fed at this trough for far too long already... they have accumulated so much wealth that their chief executive officers are making fools out of all of us with their multi-million dollar salaries and huge bonuses... United Health's McGuire is but one example of dozens of insurance companies that are operating this way. This fiasco simply has to end. The American people have been paying for these big-shots to live lavish life-styles instead of getting the health care they thought they were paying for. Except for the casino industry there probably isn't a more corrupt industry than the health care industry... well that isn't quite true is it? We have the merchants of death and destruction... the military-financial-industrial complex... and nothing gets more corrupt than that except for the oil industry... well, no use going on with this line of thinking or we will let the insurance companies right off the hook... Mr. McGuire actually looks kind of like an angel, eh?

Second: everyone, without exception, must be covered; yes, even the insurance company CEOs. This is what universal means: everyone; it simply would not be right to make them pay their own way after the way they have treated us--- pun intended.

Third: you go in to get whatever health care services are required from a doctor at the office, from a hospital, or therapy and they submit the bill to the government. If you want to pay the bill I am sure no one will stop you. Let's see if Mr. McGuire of United Health volunteers to pay his tab.

Fourth: all health care must be publicly financed in one way or another. The revenue will have to come by taxing corporations something comparable to what they are paying right now in health care premiums, and there will probably have to be some kind of employee payroll tax similar to the Social Security tax; perhaps slightly more than Social Security unless we put everyone back to work at real living wage jobs; common sense tells us the more people paying into the system the less we all have to pay--- this is what is wrong with Social Security right now--- wages have been driven down as corporations have been allowed to move to low wage areas and people without jobs, or those with poverty wage jobs, aren't paying into the system.

It is hard to keep social programs going with a government which only looks out for the wealthy and always manages to find the funds--- or borrows what they don't have--- to fight wars; I have never been able to figure out why these politicians always find money to fight a war but plead poverty when it comes to funding human services like health care, education, and housing.

Hopefully the struggle for single-payer, universal health care will force this issue of making people and their needs a top priority over killing people in Iraq. We simply need to bring priorities in this country more in line with what is good for all of us and not just big-business profits; maybe this is why politicians fear this single-payer, universal health care movement so much. They kind of view it from the bottom of a hill like a snowball getting bigger and bigger and gaining momentum?

Fifth: In any debate over this issue, health care for people has to be placed at the very top of all discussions... not whether doctors will be happy with their fees, not if insurance companies are going to go broke and out of business, not if corporations are going to cry about having to pay through the nose for awhile until the system is up and running. Of course, the right-wing will try to convince those who are employed that they will be paying for welfare moms, etc., etc.; nothing we haven't heard before from the Republicans.

The health care system is a complete mess right now. What is wrong with it is that so much money is being paid "for" health care yet so many people do not have access to health care... a single-payer system would be like medicare for all without people having to think about co-pays and all these other fees. You walk in and get the care required and you never see the bill... there will be those who argue that they see the bill in the form of a new tax... so what? The only way to avoid this is to either fund health care instead of warfare and stop trying to run the world... or just get rid of the whole damn system... after all, the rotten health care mess is only a reflection of a rotten capitalist system that puts the profits of Wall Street coupon clippers before people and their needs. I think working people are still bending over and getting the shaft with the single-payer compromise; the politicians and the wealthy should just be happy everyone doesn't think like me :)

In the final analysis of this issue the issue of single-payer, universal health care is a "family issue" that goes right to the heart of what any society that even has a pretense to human values is all about; what we are talking about is health care being a very basic and fundamental human right. If these politicians have to cater to the insurance companies and big-business before concerning themselves with this very basic and fundamental human right that each and everyone of us is entitled to as a birth-right then maybe we should just get on with replacing this entire corrupt system.


I received a call earlier today... it seems people have seen Dick Cheney in the company of Saddam Hussein in Las Vegas taking turns at the roulette wheel and shooting craps.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Wealth of the Poor: Managing ecosystems to fight poverty

I would encourage everyone to read this publication which is a "collaborative effort" between four international agencies including the United Nations Development Program and the World Bank.

For those who will be participating in the upcoming "Labor and Sustainability Conference" at the Ford Local 879 UAW Hall across from the Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant on January 19th and 20th this publication is a must read.

Several people have suggested that I provide information regarding the "Millennium Goals of the United Nations." This publication provides a lot of this information and is loaded with statistics and commentary about poverty.

Like everything we read we need to be aware of who is involved in creating a report like this, and what their intended purpose is. Few poor people will have the opportunity to read or discuss this report, much less be invited to participate in the real decision making processes affecting their lives, communities, and ecosystems.

One would expect that those who produce a report and a publication like this are sincerely interested in eliminating poverty... this is not the case... they are interested in reducing poverty; and even this stated objective is highly suspect given the role of the World Bank in countries where poverty is becoming more the norm when it comes to real world living conditions and experiences of most working people... make no mistake, the question of poverty is a question that involves each and every person who works for a living.

The World Bank is no more interested in ending poverty than the Ford Motor Company is concerned about their employees or the surrounding communities of St. Paul and Minneapolis as they move to shut down the Twin Cities Assembly Plant--- although both the World Bank and the Ford Motor Company do have a common goal: maximizing corporate profits.

Poverty, together with issues such as global warming, war, racism and oppression go hand in hand with capitalist exploitation; this publication does not consider this fact. Of course, we could not expect any effort upon which there has been collaboration with the World Bank to be interested in exploring capitalism as the main source of poverty and the problems associated with ecosystems; in fact, this publication touts the "globalized economy" as a solution to poverty and the well-being of ecosystems... but, with any publications of this nature, one always finds some very interesting kernels of truth, and there are many such kernels of truth in this document like this:

The percentage of people living on less than $2 per day in Eastern Europe and Central Asia rose from 2 percent in 1981 to 20 percent in 2001, largely as a result of the collapse of communism in those regions (Chen and
Ravallion 2004:19).

One must ask a very simple and basic question that is never broached in this well researched publication that touts globalization as a solution to poverty--- and make no mistake, it is "capitalist globalization" being referred to: How is it that capitalism has brought poverty to such a large section of the world's peoples and anyone can still justify the destruction of socialism in these countries and advocate the capitalist road for the rest of humanity? I was going to write: "the capitalist road to development;" however, that would obviously be an oxymoron if ever there was such a thing.

This region referred to has been on the capitalist road now for at least 17 years. We were told, and more importantly the people affected were told, that free markets would bring them salvation. They now have their Bibles; but no jobs, no access to health care, or public education, which once was the one of the "crown jewel" of socialism, along with free universal health care; all is in a shambles, including life itself. And poverty, which had been virtually eliminated by any standard or measuring stick that has ever been devised in modern human history, now engulfs twenty percent of the population. Just about the same level of poverty we have here in the United States after this rotten capitalist system was introduced to the North American continent over 400 years ago.

Does anyone really believe that capitalism is going to fare any better for the people in these formerly socialist countries than it has here in the United States the last four hundred years; a country touted as the most industrially advanced, wealthiest country in the world?

Given these facts, what do we do with them? Do we place this publication on the shelves in the research departments of labor unions, environmental groups, social justice, and anti-poverty organizations? Do we allow the World Bank and all the big-business think-tanks along with the commercial media to explain to us why we have poverty in this country or any other place in the world? I would suggest that it is time for working people to begin to study publications like this and do some analysis in the same manner and with the same intent that Karl Marx studied publications similar to this; and that we draw our own conclusions, as working people--- while sitting around our kitchen tables in every "Podunk" community discussing this report and what poverty is really all about.

Over one hundred years ago the great labor and revolutionary leader and Marxist thinker, Eugene Victor Debs, made the observation that to the capitalists workers were mere "hands;" factory hands and farm hands. Debs went on to point out that one of the great problems is that the capitalist owns what we produce with our hands and the capitalist uses his head to do our thinking for us; this is a process which continues today; a process that is going to have to change if we are serious about eradicating poverty.

Obviously, the World Bank is only paying lip service in stating that it has any intent to reduce poverty... the World Bank would like to hold up the "hope" to people living in poverty that something is really going to be done to eliminate poverty; when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.

Capitalism not only breeds poverty but requires masses of impoverished people in order for the system to survive... it is the impoverished peoples of the world who have been held over the heads of working people everywhere as they struggle for a better life... we see full well the examples here in Minnesota of corporations blackmailing working people as companies, large ones like Ford Motor Company closing its Twin Cities Assembly Plant, and small ones like Mattracks expanding from a small operation in Karlstad, Minnesota to a much larger operation in China. This sends a clear signal to working people: work for less or we will move to where there is massive poverty and people starving will do what you do for much less and corporate profits will soar.

Any school child knows what this study has avoided: that poverty cannot be ended so long as corporations pay working people poverty wages.

While this report's intent is to place the need to protect ecosystems into the context of creating an integrated framework for economic globalization to proceed smoothly as the solution to all our economic and social ills, it fails to address the real problem: capitalism. In fact, it intentionally obscures the fact that what is being referred to as "economic globalization" is really "capitalist globalization." When one further studies beyond this report we understand that the World Bank does not intend to allow socialist economies to integrate into, or become a part of, this economic globalization unless they prove that they are well on their way to restoring capitalism... apparently something that has been over-looked in China.

Rather than creating jobs while protecting ecosystems, capitalism destroys the people and ecosystems by using people to rape the land in quest of greater profits... this is the nature of imperialism, the highest and last stage of capitalism... we now have a choice to make, we can stand up and rid the world of capitalism or die along with this decadent, rotting system that has turned parasitic and moribund itself... it is time to bury capitalism out in the Big Bog and let socialism sprout from its decay along with wild orchids of spring.

"The Wealth of the Poor: Managing ecosystems to fight poverty"--- This is an excellent read, but read it with eyes wide open and read between the lines... read this publication in order to grasp the complexities of the problems before us with a view to resolving this mess to the benefit of the working class... with cooperation and socialism.

One of the problems with a publication like this is that it deals with poverty as mere facts and figures... we must remember that behind every fact and figure is a living, breathing human being who is suffering--- often in the process of dying as a result of drought, hunger, malnutrition, or a disease going untreated.

I will have more to say about this publication relating to ecosystems and poverty in the near future concerning the struggles now underway to halt peat mining in the Big Bog and MinnTac's contamination of our living environment. I would encourage everyone to study this publication very thoroughly. Minnesota politicians might want to figure out how the thousands of people trapped on Indian Reservations fit into "managing ecosystems to fight poverty."

Many years ago, Roger Jourdain, the long-time serving Chairman of the Red Lake Nation who used public and cooperative ownership successfully to fight poverty came to many of the same conclusions about the relationship of ecosystems to wealth and poverty--- that is why he fought so hard to stop peat mining in the Big Bog. It is a sad irony that those like Roger Head--- who working with Chairman Floyd Jourdain, have destroyed all the programs Roger Jourdain labored so hard to create aimed at ending poverty in the same manner that the dilipidated old shacks were burned to the ground as new housing replaced the old. Not coincidentally, the same politicians who lambasted Roger Jourdain's achievements as "socialism in the north woods and swamps of Minnesota" now hail the new direction of "casino capitalism." And, like the people of the formerly socialist countries referred to above, poverty is on the rise for the people of the Red Lake Nation when the course had been set that was eliminating it.

Roger Jourdain understood what Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro understands, that it is public ownership of industry and cooperatives through which poverty is combatted not through "free enterprise,""free markets," and "capitalist globalization"... again, it is no coincidence that Roger Head and his reactionary thinking would lead him to reject a helping hand from Hugo Chavez in the form of heating assistance to the impoverished people of Red Lake Nation.

The United Nations and the World Bank spent millions of dollars to create this report and all they would have had to have done is contacted Jody Beaulieu at the offices of the Red Lake Nation archives to obtain Roger Jourdain's call to defend the Big Bog from peat mining in order to learn that it is necessary to protect ecosystems because they are the wealth of the poor.

A basic and fundamental question is: Why is the entire ecosystem of the Big Bog now being destroyed as it is drained by a Canadian multinational corporation and polluted by Minntac... all intentionally, given everything we know?

I hope we are not going to wait for the United Nations and the World Bank to do another study to explain to us why poverty is on the rise in Minnesota as ecosystems are being destroyed.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Mark your calendar...

Today I am only posting the flier being distributed announcing the upcoming "Labor and Sustainability Conference." Over the next few days I will be raising some questions I think are pertinent to this issue

Please distribute this flier as widely as possible and give people links to my blog as we shall have quite a bit to discuss around our kitchen tables leading up to this conference.

Please note: to go to the website... for this conference simply click on the heading above, "Mark your calendar."

Labor & Sustainability Conference
January 19th-20th, 2007
2191 Ford Parkway, St. Paul, MN

“Building A Movement For Sustainability: How Labor Can Respond to the Climate Crisis”
Jack Rasmus, Chairperson of Bay Area National Writers Union 1981 (UAW) & Author of The War At Home: The Corporate Offensive From Reagan To Bush and Fire On Pier 32.
Bill Onasch, Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1287 Retiree (Kansas City, MO Bus Drivers), Labor Party Interim National Council & U.S. Labor Against the War Steering Committee.

Welcoming Address by Lynn Hinkle,
Health & Safety Director, UAW 879
Box Lunch
Dinner Panel Discussion
1. The Campaign For Zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions From All Sources
2. Saving The Ford Plant Through Green Manufacturing & The Need To Expand Clean Mass Transit
3. The Extraction Industries In The North Country & Eco-Friendly Job Alternatives
4. The Conversion To Wind Power: Building A Worker/Farmer/Indigenous Alliance
5. The Effects Of Climate Change In The Region & Its Economic Impacts
6. The Environmental & Health Impacts Of Transporting & Using Coal
7. Sustainable Collective Bargaining In Union Contracts, Retrofitting Union Facilities For Green Operation & Investing Union Funds In Clean, Renewable Energy
8. Confronting Globalization: Embedding Environmental Regulations & Fair-Labor Practices Into Trade Agreements While Guaranteeing Farmers’ Rights & Food Sovereignty.
9. Overcoming Environmental Racism & Achieving Justice For Indigenous Peoples & Communities of Color
10. Growing Healthy Food Through Sustainable Agriculture

Free & Open To The Public. Endorsed By: AFSCME 3800, Douglas County Supervisor Adam Ritscher, 4th & 5th CDs Green Party, IMPACT, Labor Education Service, Mac CARES, Mayday Books, Mpls. CLUC, MN AFL-CIO, MN-CPUSA, MNs For Peace & Social Justice, Prof. Peter Rachleff, Red Lake Casino, Hotel & Restaurant Employees’ Union Org. Cmte., Save Our Bog, St. Paul Area Trades & Labor Assembly, State Rep. Frank Hornstein, 3CTC, UAW 879, UFCW 789, UTU 650, WAMM, WILPF-MN Metro.
For More Information: www.laborandsustainability.org Email: info@laborandsustainability.org Or Phone: 651-699-4246.
Printed On 100% Recycled Paper.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Israel seeks pipeline for Iraqi oil

Today I think I am just going to let this April 20, 2003 Observer article stand on it's own without comment--- if you would like to view the original article just click on the title:

Israel seeks pipeline for Iraqi oil US discusses plan to pump fuel to its regional ally and solve energy headache at a stroke Ed Vuillamy in Washington Sunday April 20, 2003.

Plans to build a pipeline to siphon oil from newly conquered Iraq to Israel are being discussed between Washington, Tel Aviv and potential future government figures in Baghdad.

The plan envisages the reconstruction of an old pipeline, inactive since the end of the British mandate in Palestine in 1948, when the flow from Iraq's northern oilfields to Palestine was re-directed to Syria.

Now, its resurrection would transform economic power in the region, bringing revenue to the new US-dominated Iraq, cutting out Syria and solving Israel's energy crisis at a stroke.

It would also create an end less and easily accessible source of cheap Iraqi oil for the US guaranteed by reliable allies other than Saudi Arabia - a keystone of US foreign policy for decades and especially since 11 September 2001.

Until 1948, the pipeline ran from the Kurdish-controlled city of Mosul to the Israeli port of Haifa, on its northern Mediterranean coast.

The revival of the pipeline was first discussed openly by the Israeli Minister for National Infrastructures, Joseph Paritzky, according to the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz .

The paper quotes Paritzky as saying that the pipeline would cut Israel's energy bill drastically - probably by more than 25 per cent - since the country is currently largely dependent on expensive imports from Russia.

US intelligence sources confirmed to The Observer that the project has been discussed. One former senior CIA official said: 'It has long been a dream of a powerful section of the people now driving this administration [of President George W. Bush] and the war in Iraq to safeguard Israel's energy supply as well as that of the United States.

'The Haifa pipeline was something that existed, was resurrected as a dream and is now a viable project - albeit with a lot of building to do.'

The editor-in-chief of the Middle East Economic Review , Walid Khadduri, says in the current issue of Jane's Foreign Report that 'there's not a metre of it left, at least in Arab territory'.

To resurrect the pipeline would need the backing of whatever government the US is to put in place in Iraq, and has been discussed - according to Western diplomatic sources - with the US-sponsored Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmed Chalabi, the former banker favoured by the Pentagon for a powerful role in the war's aftermath.

Sources at the State Department said that concluding a peace treaty with Israel is to be 'top of the agenda' for a new Iraqi government, and Chalabi is known to have discussed Iraq's recognition of the state of Israel.

The pipeline would also require permission from Jordan. Paritzky's Ministry is believed to have approached officials in Amman on 9 April this year. Sources told Ha'aretz that the talks left Israel 'optimistic'.

James Akins, a former US ambassador to the region and one of America's leading Arabists, said: 'There would be a fee for transit rights through Jordan, just as there would be fees for Israel from those using what would be the Haifa terminal.

'After all, this is a new world order now. This is what things look like particularly if we wipe out Syria. It just goes to show that it is all about oil, for the United States and its ally.'

Akins was ambassador to Saudi Arabia before he was fired after a series of conflicts with then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, father of the vision to pipe oil west from Iraq. In 1975, Kissinger signed what forms the basis for the Haifa project: a Memorandum of Understanding whereby the US would guarantee Israel's oil reserves and energy supply in times of crisis.

Kissinger was also master of the American plan in the mid-Eighties - when Saddam Hussein was a key US ally - to run an oil pipeline from Iraq to Aqaba in Jordan, opposite the Israeli port of Eilat.

The plan was promoted by the now Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and the pipeline was to be built by the Bechtel company, which the Bush administration last week awarded a multi-billion dollar contract for the reconstruction of Iraq.

The memorandum has been quietly renewed every five years, with special legislation attached whereby the US stocks a strategic oil reserve for Israel even if it entailed domestic shortages - at a cost of $3 billion (£1.9bn) in 2002 to US taxpayers.

This bill would be slashed by a new pipeline, which would have the added advantage of giving the US reliable access to Gulf oil other than from Saudi Arabia.

Perhaps as your family discusses this article around the kitchen table you will have your own comments as the tally of body bags from Iraq continues to climb.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

"Why do you rely on the Democrats?"

I get e-mails, phone calls, and comments from people every day along the lines of this question; some people, in fact most people, come right out and ask me why I even bother working in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party at all. I find more and more people losing what little bit of confidence they had in the Democrats at the time they voted on November 7; actually no matter what kind of spin Brian Melendez wants to put on the election outcome... the only real assessment one can make is that people voted in opposition to the Bush/Cheney agenda of war in Iraq and the big-business assault on the living standards of working people here at home... in overwhelming numbers voters and non-voters are for single-payer, universal health care as an alternative to the present mess they understand is the creation of money-grubbing insurance companies, profit hungry pharmaceutical companies and greedy doctors who would rather be at the country club playing golf with the CEO's of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies than helping people get well and stay well.

Let us be clear in understanding the outcome of the November 7 elections... the Republicans lost the election; the Democrats didn't win it... in fact, the Democrats, with a few notable exceptions, never put forward a single solution to any problems working people are experiencing--- let alone campaign for single-payer, universal health care. Here in Minnesota the majority of DFL candidates for state and federal office didn't even have the moral or political courage to run on their own party's platform that included massive and overwhelming support for single-payer, universal health care--- only days before the election DFL candidates and long-time state Representatives Huntley and Lieder campaigned in opposition to single-payer, universal health care by putting forward a bunch of Band-Aid "solutions" to this mess. Not once during the election campaign did Brian Melendez, the leader of the Minnesota DFL, encourage DFL candidates to campaign on the single-payer, universal health care solution--- rather he encouraged these candidates to use the meaningless, nice progressive sounding "affordable health care for all." Well, there is no such thing as any health care being affordable to anyone in this country anymore except for the wealthy... we all know that; and there never will be any such thing... there never has been any health care in America that was ever affordable except in the minds of those on the board of the American Medical Association.

It is easy to see why so many Minnesotans lack confidence in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party to implement change. I understand this lack of confidence completely. What I don't agree with is giving these dumb donkeys free reign to continue down the road of appeasement and "moderation" without opposition because these dumb donkeys will always take the easy road; that is the nature of this beast... capitulating to the warmongers and big-business is the easy road... resistance requires some thought and extra effort... again, I stress, we are dealing here with a bunch of dumb donkeys... dumb donkeys like Walter Mondale who in the midst of a campaign to break the stranglehold of the Republicans where the desire for peace on the part of the American people is overwhelming, that this dumb donkey would come out and advocate a "pre-emptive" military strike against North Korea as if it wasn't bad enough that he and Hubert Humphrey supported the bloodletting of the Korean War and then turned right around and were stupid enough to support the Vietnam War--- after so much death and destruction that resulted from the Korean War... but again, what can one expect from dumb donkeys? They are hard to teach... at least you can teach an old dog new tricks... it is hard to ever teach a dumb donkey anything.

It is not a matter of having any kind of blind faith in the National Democratic Party or the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. I think we have to keep the pressure on the Democratic Party/MNDFL and not let them off the hook... and make no mistake--- to withdraw from working with or within the Democratic Party would be a big mistake, in my opinion--- after all, if we are going to expect government to heed our demands to end this dirty war in Iraq and for single-payer, universal health care, or to revoke the permit to mine peat in the Big Bog, or stop the criminal actions of United States Steel's Minntac operation in contaminating the streams, rivers, lakes, aquifers, and lands of northern Minnesota we are expecting the Democratic Party/MNDFL to act... certainly the Green Party isn't where we go when we want action from state or federal legislators, and I don't see any of the other left/socialist/communist parties with any legislative clout... not yet.

Often when I talk to people about the need to take concrete action to do the necessary things to bring pressure to bear on local, state, or federal officials and casino managements--- be they elected or appointed--- people will say they will do something and then they don't follow through, be it making a phone call, writing a letter, or sitting down to talk with the appropriate person/s. Then we get together later and go through our check list of what everyone agreed to do and many of the things that we agreed to do haven't been done. This is no way to build movements for social change; nor does it convey the message to Democrats or anyone else in government that we are serious about what we say--- in effect, we let these people off the hook.

Should we have to pressure Democrats to cut off funding for this dirty war in Iraq? Or to begin impeachment proceedings against Bush and Cheney? Should we have to pressure anyone to revoke the permit to mine peat in the Big Bog? Should we have to pressure anyone to halt the contamination of the waters and lands of northern Minnesota? Should we have to pressure public officials into seeing to it that 20,000 of our fellow Minnesotans who go to work in smoke-filled casinos without any rights under state or federal labor laws at poverty wages, that this denial of human rights be corrected? The answer to all of these questions is rather obvious... "NO!" we should not have to lift a finger in order to expect that something right and just be done by any public official... elected or appointed... the sad reality is such that we have to do a great deal.

The reality is quite different from what any caring, considerate, and thinking person would expect from our fellow human beings in these positions of power and authority that are supposedly derived by the consent from the rest of us. Sometimes I am forced to wonder if some of these people are human beings at all with the emotions one would expect from a human being--- compassion, sympathy, empathy... SHAME. Quite frankly, I do not often find these emotions on the part of Democrats any more than from Republicans. I think this is very sad... but it goes with the domination by big-business over the political process. One only has to look at where the campaign contributions come from for these politicians to understand why there is such a lack of concern by politicians for the problems working people are experiencing... in fact, most of these problems that we have as working people are the direct result of the big-business drive for profits--- think about this: problems on the job usually are the result of management's drive for profits; threats to our environment, again come as a result of a corporate quest for greater profits; the health care mess... there you have it again, big money to be made; casino workers without any rights or a voice at work... big, big, big money there; people losing there homes because they can't meet their mortgage payments... the banks profit.

Often when I ask people, "How do you expect change to happen if we don't get together and educate ourselves and others around us about the nature of our problems and organize into powerful movements in the face of such opposition by such extreme wealth?" I receive the reply, "We have to 'hope' things will change." Or, when I ask how something will get done if we don't act on it, the response is, "All we can do is 'hope' that someone will do that." Movements for social change aren't built on "hope." Movements for social change are built on the concrete activity of individuals who join together for action on issues.

The sad fact is, that under capitalism, hope is only for the hopeless; for those who have given up; for those who expect a dumb donkey to one day smarten up.

I do not "hope" the Democratic Party/MNDFL will do a goddamn thing for working people. I know that the Democratic Party/MNDFL will not take the required action to end this dirty war in Iraq, bring forward legislation for single-payer, universal health care let alone initiate legislation for a minimum wage that is a real living wage, halt the peat mining in the Big Bog or the contamination of our streams, rivers, lakes, aquifers, or land by United States steel, or stop the injustices casino workers are subjected to daily...

I do not "hope" the Democrats/MNDFL will do any of this... it is simply too much to expect from a bunch of dumb donkeys who only move when they smell corporate money.

In response to the question, "Why do you rely on the Democrats?" my response is, and always has been: I don't. We need an alternative to the present political parties... be it the Democrats, the Republicans, or their junior wannabe the Greens whose politicians seem to only jump when offered money to work for Democrats... these Greens will only squawk enough to create a little noise to get the attention of Democrats or Republicans who then purchase their silence with cushy jobs... classic example: Elizabeth Dickinson in St. Paul.

I would suggest that until these politicians of every political stripe begin seeing "Red" things are not going to change much in this country... the "Red" that I speak of is the "Red" of the real Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party and the "Red" Finns of the Iron Range.

I have no illusions what-so-ever that the Democratic Party or the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is going to do what is morally or politically right for working people... however, I do understand the wisdom of socialist Governor Floyd B. Olson who said, "The only way to make these capitalist politicians of the Democratic and Republican parties listen is when you bring a crowd." And bring a crowd he did!

We don't have an alternative to the Democratic and Republican Parties nor their junior Green Party organized right now, do we? "Hope" is not going to create such a working class political party... if you want to know who is going to undertake this task... go look in the mirror. "Hope" is the refuge sought by those who have been beaten down and given up.

Until this "hoped" for development of a working class political party takes place that provides a real alternative, I and many other liberals, progressives, socialists, and communists will continue to work with one foot in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and one foot outside of it--- ready, eager, and prepared to come into an alternative political party that will address the needs of working people and our living environment... we will come into that party with both feet. Until that time we are not going to give these politicians free reign to help the corporations squeeze every last drop of blood from working people and rob us of the air to breathe and clean water to drink, nor to exploit us without opposition... if you want to sit and "hope" for something better than the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party to come along before finding a way to participate in the struggles of people for a better life and a healthier environment... just come home from work, sit at home in front of the television and "hope," drink a little beer and smoke some weed. But do not twist my activity into something that it is not... I do not rely on the Democratic Party to do anything... in fact, if there is anything I "hope" for from the Democratic Party it is that they will just sit and do nothing rather than vote to send more troops and piss away more money on this dirty war in Iraq... with my involvement I try to insure the Democratic Party will take action to end this dirty war in Iraq and implement single-payer, universal health care... if everyone sitting at home "hoping" for something better or for someone else to do something would take the initiative to act we just might be able to end this dirty war and get single-payer universal health care.

First step... sit around the kitchen table and talk to your family, friends, and fellow workers about the problems... put your ideas in letters to the editors... send those letters to the editors that you write off to your legislators and the MNDFL... distribute your letters as leaflets in your community and at work or wherever you go... initiate petitions followed up with peace vigils and organize forums and conferences to discuss these issues. And remeber the advice from Governor Floyd B. Olson... always take a crowd with you.

First step... discussion around the kitchen table.

Remember, there will be those like the leaders of the Minnesota DFL who will first tell you they only need your money and your vote; then when you get involved and make an issue so it is no longer out of sight and out of mind they will tell you to get lost... and if you don't get lost they will start to call you names... so what, ignore them... get involved.

If we can initiate kitchen table discussions in every "podunk" community in Minnesota we will be well on our way to building the kind of movement required for the kind of real change that we want to see... and we just might be able to stop this dirty war in Iraq... in the process, if we work together in turning out a big enough crowd, we just might be able to attain single-payer, universal health care.

Think about this: one little snow-flake doesn't amount to a hell of a lot... but when we get a blizzard all those little snow-flakes sure add up... each of us is like one little snow-flake, the politicians can ignore us when we are alone... but together we are like a blizzard.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

George Bush is doing the work for the terrorists...

Well, there you have it; this is all over the internet:

The U.S. military on Tuesday announced the deaths of six more American soldiers, pushing the U.S. military death toll since the beginning of the Iraq war in March 2003 to at least 2,978 - five more than the number killed in the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

George Bush managed to kill more Americans than Osama Bin Laden; what a great way to avenge the deaths of those who died in the World Trade Center. How many Iraqis have died we will never know... to the Bush/Cheney gang of crooks and liars the human death toll and destruction of Iraq never was important anyways... the only thing that ever mattered was the oil and the intent of U.S. imperialism to dominate the Middle East.

William Z. Foster, writing in the "Twilight of World Capitalism" encouraged American workers to get educated real quick about the real nature of imperialism... that was in 1949 and how many wars, deaths, and how much destruction later?

As we sit around our kitchen tables we need to discuss the nature of the capitalist system and the web that has been spun by the military-financial-industrial complex;
unless we begin to understand how capitalism in its final imperialist stage has grown parasitic and canabalistic we are doomed.

The American people voted on November 7 to end this dirty war. George McGovern has come up with a very sensible "Blueprint" to get us out of Iraq... the time has come for the Democratic Party to stand up to Bush by cutting off funding for the war and move quickly to impeach Bush and Cheney... they both have to go... they lied about this war from the start... they stole the elections in 2000 and 2004 to begin with... now it is time to end this war and get these two crooked warmongers out of office.


Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas Day 2006

Fred and I arose about 5:30 A.M. this Christmas morning to a light snowfall. I put the coffee on and we walked for awhile. While walking I got the idea for this blog: "thoughts from podunk." I had been thinking about an e-mail that I received in response to an e-mail that I circulated widely about the need to impeach the Bush/Cheney gang. I received the e-mail from the revisionary managing editor of Political Affairs Magazine [which makes the claim of being a Marxist publication put out by the Communist Party, USA--- which I have belonged to since I was I teenager] in which he arrogantly referred to a former mayor calling for Bush's impeachment as being from a "Podunk town." The use of this kind of language is wrong; as if peoples' thoughts about this dirty war in Iraq and the struggles of working people--- most of whom reside in "Podunks" someplace on our planet, are insignificant; where, like me, they live, work, and recreate. We can't all live in big cities where we make the decisions over what gets published in glossy, slick magazines and what doesn't get published... but all of us "podunkers" sure can blog!

It seems this managing editor who hails from Ann Arbor, Michigan was upset about the manner in which I circulated an article he wrote in the newspaper of the Communist Party, U.S.A.--- the Peoples' Weekly World.

Quite frankly, I don't know why he was so upset... his article held its own, I thought.

I selected his article as one of three [Metro Times, The Nation, Peoples' Weekly World] concerning the need to impeach the corrupt Bush/Cheney gang of warmongers that is trying to drive down the standards of living of working people all over the globe. I thought (maybe thinking was my first mistake... the bosses just hate it when workers think!)--- well, I just thought it was a really good article that Joel Wendland had written... I still do; but his response in referring to Grand Rapid, Michigan and writing off a prominent Republican calling for George Bush's impeachment as coming from a "podunk town," rather than coming from an important United States Senator was wrong. Grand Rapids, Michigan is a working class community that has been devastated by capitalist globalization just like most other working class communities across the Midwest; this characterization just really rubbed me the wrong way... I guess I expect people who publish and write for Marxist, revolutionary, working class publications to have a little more respect towards working people and the communities we live in... and then I started thinking more and more about Grand Rapids, Michigan being a "podunk town;" the more I thought about this statement the more I reached the opinion that his attitude reflects much more than simply a disrespectful arrogance towards working people--- his rotten attitude was directed towards working people in general, and specifically towards working people involved in struggles trying to make the world a better place to live in, too.

For a long time I have noticed among the "movers and shakers" [usually those who observe and write] of the Left this same kind of arrogance, although, not usually so blatantly stated as it was done this time. Why care when someone makes this kind of arrogant statement that the opinions of someone can be disregarded because they come from a "podunk town" like Grand Rapids, Michigan? For starters, most working people live and work in such "podunk towns." If we are serious about real social change in this country we need to have the involvement of the working people from all these "podunk" towns and communities, not just the "great thinkers" from the ivory towers in Ann Arbor and those that are smart enough to write newspaper articles and choose what gets published in these newspapers and magazines, and what doesn't.

Communist Parties all over the world have relied on organizing "communist clubs" in these "Podunk" towns and communities as their chosen methods of organization for several reasons. Communist parties have made it a point of trying to organize these "clubs" where people work and in the communities where working people live because workers are the only class that can successfully stand up to the capitalists. These "communist clubs" are places where working people can get together, socialize, and collectively think problems through as a process of educating each other as they work to mobilize and energize the working class for action. It was such Communist Party clubs that formed the resistance to fascism in Europe, China, and the Philippines during World War II... not to mention which contributed towards mobilizing our own country against the fascist menace of Hitler, Mussolini, and Japanese imperialism. Similar Communist Party clubs were the backbone of Vietnamese people in defeating U.S. imperialism... and it was communist clubs in "podunks" all over the United States that helped to mobilize the American people against that dirty war in Vietnam... we could do with many more "Podunk clubs" in the United States today.

In other words, these communist party clubs provide working people with alternatives to big-business think-tanks and the lies spewed daily by the commercial media about everything from the war in Iraq to health care problems and the misinformation about wages and working condidtions and just about everything else one can think of. Communist Parties have almost always stressed building these clubs everyplace where there are working people... in all the "podunks" one might say as a means of strengthening the working class movement and all progressive movements for peace and social justice.

These "communist clubs" have stressed: education, organization, unity, and united action which have been the key to the successes of these "communist clubs" for the last 150 or so years--- all over the world... on every continent, in every country... our goal has been to establish these "communist clubs" in every "podunk" without any exceptions.

In the past few years there are those arrogant "leaders" like this managing editor of Political Affairs who have decided that these "communist clubs" are no longer needed... or if they are, it is sufficient that a few great thinkers belong to these clubs in the great centers of revolutionary change, and the rest of us "podunkers" are just supposed to listen up and let them expound on their views, from their ivory towers and 7th floor offices in New York.

The present day revisionary "leaders" of the Communist Party, U.S.A. have embarked down a trail that will lead to liquidating the Communist Party, U.S.A. if they are allowed to proceed unchallenged. The way to counter their destructive efforts is to build communist clubs in every community and place of employment possible.

Over the years communist clubs have served working people well when these clubs have been organized along open, non-sectarian lines. It was such communist clubs that sparked the great organizing drives among industrial workers; whenever anyone in this country thinks of communists they think of union organizers; union organizers were educated and trained in these communist clubs. These communist clubs helped shape the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party where Communist Party members like John Bernard spearheaded the Farmer-Labor efforts on the Iron Range and eventually led to his own election to the United States Congress where he had the courage to stand in defiance of big-business; Bernard was from the little "Podunk town" of Eveleth, Minnesota... both of Minnesota's most beloved governors, both socialists--- Floyd B. Olson and Elmer Benson--- hailed from "Podunk towns and communities." Native American leader Roger Jourdain of Red Lake came from another "Podunk community" which became known as "an island of socialism in the backwoods of northern Minnesota" as he labored to bring good housing, jobs, and health care to victims of racist genocidal oppression.

Perhaps if the present "leaders" of the Communist Party, U.S.A. would concentrate their efforts and resources on building communist clubs in all the "Podunk" cities, towns, and communities across the Midwest where capitalists have set up shop we could give the kind of thoughtful direction needed to working class struggles today just as William Z. Foster, Paul Robeson, Claude Lightfoot, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Gus Hall and all those "Podunk" Communists like William and Virginia Glenn, Axel and Edna Nielsen, Nate Sharpe, John Bernard, and those heroic "Podunk" Communists like Phil Raymond, Wyndham Mortimer, Robert Travis, Bud Simons, Nadia Barkan, Art Briggs, Earl Dutton, Frank Melder, and Sid Nadolsky helped to lead working class struggles... by organizing Communist Party clubs in every single "Podunk" city, town, and community they ever lived in or ever drove through. Phil Raymond and Wyndham Mortimer always pointed out that it was because of these Communist Party clubs in Michigan "Podunk" cities like Grand Rapids, Flint, Muskegon, Benton Harbor, Calumet, Marquette, Copper Harbor, Manistique, Baldwin, Idlewild, Cadillac, Battle Creek, Jackson, Hardy Dam, White Cloud, Holland, Kalamazoo... Communist Party Clubs in all these "Podunk" communities is what led to the great union we know as the United Automobile Workers of America. All across Wisconsin and Minnesota the Communist Party had clubs in "Podunk" cities, towns, and communities... there wasn't one single town on the Iron Range without a Communist Party Club... these "podunk" Communist Party Clubs on the Range stretching from Jacobson to Cherry, Eveleth, Gilbert, Virginia, and Ely built the network of Red Finn Co-operative stores, and even creameries, all of which eventually led to organizing the huge open pit iron ore mines and the forestry industries.

It is no accident that a revisionist leader, a very prominent one at that, who has been entrusted with the responsibility for a publication like Political Affairs and writing in the Peoples' Weekly World... which is supposed to be the theoretical journal and newspaper of the Communist Party, U.S.A. respectively, serve the purpose of helping to organize and educate working people in a way that builds and strengthens Communist Party clubs to do battle with the capitalist class would denigrate working class communities in this way... after all, one only has to read Political Affairs to understand that it has become little more that a puff piece attacking socialism. The Communist Party leaders should understand that everytime another Communist Party Club is organized in a "Podunk" someplace this places us closer to bringing an end to this rotten capitalist system and strengthens the movements for peace and social justice, which includes the movement to impeach the Bush/Cheney gang. For working people in the "Podunks" across America it is important to impeach the Bush/Cheney gang as part of the struggle to maintain what little domocratic rights remain and to end this dirty war in Iraq (we need the greatest democracy possible to build the peace movement and impeaching Bush and Cheney contributes to the struggle for democratic rights, which in turn will help us mobilize people to end the war... we already see the Democrats moving backwards on this issue, again, even though the American people are opposed to the war)... We need to step up the pressure for: socialized health care... to establish a minimum wage that is a real living wage, not the miserely poverty wage Democrats are talking about... to save our planet from nuclear annihilation and global warming... the movement to end this dirty war in Iraq must include calls for impeachment... even the former Republican mayor of a "podunk town" like Grand Rapids understands this.

For many working people in all the "Podunks" across America socialism is always on the front burner... it's time to put revisionism--- along with capitalist thinking--- on ice.

The success of our present struggles, like working class struggles of the past for a better life will largely hinge on how many club "podunks" the Communist Party, U.S.A. can build across this country and how quickly. My suggestion to Comrade Wendland would be that he pay a visit to Grand Rapids, Michigan to find out what would have propelled a leading Republican and former mayor--- and the longest serving mayor at that--- of this "Podunk town" to make the need to impeach George Bush and end the war in Iraq the topic of a Sunday morning guest sermon in one of the largest, most respected churches in this "podunk town;" Comrade Wendland just might consider that the very powerful peace movement in this "podunk town" nudged this Republican to call for Bush's impeachment... and among this powerful peace movement that is mainly working class, the Communist Party U.S.A. might just pick up a few new members.

My suggestion to Comrade Wendland: start talking to working people in Grand Rapids, Michigan about starting a "Podunk Club" of the Communist Party, U.S.A.

I can remember when the predecessors to the "Peoples' Weekly World--- "The Worker," "The Daily World"--- would have published the call from a former Mayor and big shot in the National Republican Party from a "podunk town" like Grand Rapids, Michigan to impeach his own Party's sitting president over the lies, that initiated this imperialist war for oil, as front page news. I kind of think this is what most people would expect from a Communist newspaper.

What do you think? Talk about this over coffee as you sit with family, friends, neighbors, fellow workers, and around the kitchen table.