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, April 29, 2007

Erosion of Unions Hurt Women

Dear Portside Moderator;

I found the posting of the article “Erosion of Unions Hurt Women” to your list by a top leader of the AFL-CIO very hypocritical. In the United States, over one million women are now working in what is referred to as the Indian Casino Gaming Industry which is nothing more than a front for mobsters and organized crime; an industry resulting from one of Meyer Lansky’s brain-farts after being kicked out of Cuba by Fidel Castro.

These casinos make money hand-over-fist because of the way employees are abused. These women--- and men--- most of whom are young are employed without any rights, or a voice at work. These women, mostly of child-bearing age, go to work in smoke-filled casinos without any rights under state, federal, or tribal labor laws; all receive poverty wages.

The AFL-CIO, along with its Democratic Party partners here in Minnesota and across the United States, has remained silent and done nothing in spite of repeated requests for assistance, and support.

I found it very interesting that during the last campaign for United States Senate here in Minnesota, even the most “progressive” of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party candidates, Ford Bell, refused to address this issue even though he was the President of the Minnesota Heart Foundation which has called for smoke-free work environments; and, all the casino managements, without exception, endorsed--- and funded--- the DFL candidate for governor, Mike Hatch. Both Ford Bell and Mike Hatch personally called me begging for my endorsement… I smiled when they lost.

In Michigan, fully aware of all of this, Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm--- a woman and mother--- while sitting in her smoke-free office ignoring her fiduciary responsibilities to Michigan residents signed another “Compact” to allow the building of one more casino in west Michigan under the same Draconian circumstances.

I would point out that in the Canadian province of Manitoba, casino workers are represented by the Manitoba Government Employees’ Union; they are paid real living wages, and work in a smoke-free environment. Of course it helps when a member of your union, Gary Doer, is the socialist Premier of the Province and a member of the ruling socialist New Democratic Party; and the casinos are provincially owned and operated public enterprises; just like the single-payer, universal health care system. Socialist politicians understand that smoke-free working environments are healthier for workers and save the health care system lots of money... but then again, socialist governments always put the rights of working people before corporate profits… and that is why the socialist government of Gary Doer is headed for its third consecutive term in office leading Manitobans to a better life… as Democrats here in Minnesota lack the moral and political courage to do what a previous New Democratic Party socialist government did when the Ford Motor Company decided to close up shop in Winnipeg… the Province simply told Ford to go to hell and took over the operation.

Portside, like most list serves supporting the Democratic Party and AFL-CIO leadership--- neither of which has seen fit to challenge capitalism, has never enlightened its readers about Canada’s New Democratic Party… the party of the Canadian Labour Congress… and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney has never seen fit to tell American workers about what is taking place north of the border.

Concern about the rights of women workers coming from the AFL-CIO, give me a break… this is the same kind of hypocritical talk about workers’ rights coming out of the newly formed International Trade Union Confederation… which refuses to address the issue of the rights of casino workers.

The reason there is an erosion of unions in this country to start with is that organized labor has been under such stupid and misguided leadership which has left the education of the working class to the corporations... there is a huge gap between words and deeds... when I see John Sweeney or any of his administration, including the author of this report, talking to casino workers about their problems like Gary Doer does, I might take such reports as "Erosion of Unions Hurt Women" a little more seriously; but it is all just part of the same old hypocritical capitalist game being played where working people are being played for suckers by both the corporations and union leaders.

I am beginning to think the corporations have placed a bunch of "moles" in the AFL-CIO unions. Make no mistake, these casinos are corporations, huge corporations...

Alan L. Maki

Director of Organizing,

Red Lake Casino, Hotel, and Restaurant Employees’ Union Organizing Committee


Member of the State Central Committee, Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk


Think these casinos aren't profitable? Check out this story from BBC News:

Seminole tribe in Hard Rock deal

There are Hard Rock outlets in 45 countries
British entertainment company Rank Group has agreed to sell its Hard Rock Cafe chain to an American Indian tribe for $965m (£490m).
The business is being bought by the Seminole tribe of Florida, which already runs Hard Rock-branded hotels and casinos in Tampa and Hollywood.

The Hard Rock business made a pre-tax profit of £35m in 2005 and has 132 outlets worldwide.

Rank will now focus on online and phone betting, casinos and bingo clubs.

It has sold off a number of leisure businesses in recent years, including Butlin's, Warner Holidays, Odeon Cinemas, Pinewood Studios and pub chain Tom Cobleigh.

No surrender

Rank said it would pass £350m of the sale proceeds to shareholders via a special dividend.

"Today's announcement sets a clear strategic course for Rank as a focused gaming business," said chief executive Ian Burke.

"We have established clear plans to capitalise on the changes taking place in UK gaming."

The 12,000-strong Seminole tribe has lands in Oklahoma and Florida, and its main business interests are in tobacco, tourism and gambling.

The Florida Seminoles had relied on cattle, citrus fruits and federal loans for economic survival until the late 1970s, when they opened their first bingo hall and tax-free tobacco store.

The tribe now runs two massive Hard Rock hotels and casinos on two of its reservations in Florida and has gaming businesses on three other sites.

It is the only American Indian tribe never to have signed a peace treaty with the United States.
--- end ---

Four years after $60 million scandal, ousted leader of Seminoles ready for comeback

By Mike Clary
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted April 20 2007

Four years after being ousted as chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida amid a $60 million financial scandal, James Billie is planning a comeback.

As charismatic as he is controversial, Billie, 63, has declared himself a candidate to reclaim his old job in the May 14 tribal elections.

While declining to reveal details of his platform before campaigning begins in earnest next week, Billie vowed to "bring integrity back to the tribe, and let the people's voice be heard."

If elected, he said, he would work to maintain the tribe's prosperity while exploring the use of natural, homeopathic cures for such vexing tribal problems as diabetes and addictions. "Indian medicine," he said. "I would like us to be pioneers in that."

Confident of being returned to office, Billie said, "In my heart, I'm still chief of the tribe. They stole it from me."

The current chairman, Mitchell Cypress, is one of the tribal leaders who pushed for Billie's dismissal in 2001 when he was suspended. Today is the deadline for filing candidacy petitions.

Cypress could not be reached for comment Thursday but told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel last week that he was seeking re-election.

Also campaigning for the chairmanship is Moses "Moke" Osceola, now president of the tribe's board of directors.

Since his ouster in 2003, Billie has concentrated on his chickee-building business and steered clear of tribal politics and many ceremonies.

But with the sting of his dismissal now lessened, Billie said, it is time to announce, "Here I am. I'm back."

Before he was suspended from office and later impeached from his $312,000-a-year job, Billie held the chairman's post for 23 years. Under his leadership, the Seminoles in 1979 pioneered high-stakes bingo, which opened the door to an American Indian gaming industry that now rakes in more than $22 billion a year.

At the same time, the Seminoles moved from poverty to stunning wealth. The tribe's seven casinos took in more than $1.1 billion in 2005.

But the free-spirited Billie -- Vietnam veteran, pilot, songwriter, alligator wrestler -- offended other tribal leaders with a series of secret deals that included moving $60 million in tribal money to a brokerage account.

He funneled tribal funds into a secret offshore Internet gambling venture, invested in an airplane manufacturing plant, made a down payment on a $30 million luxury jet and started up a cattle operation in Nicaragua.

Although Billie eventually apologized for some of his activities, he was never charged with wrongdoing and the Seminoles agreed to pay him $600,000 when settling a lawsuit initiated by the tribe.

Seminole businessman Carl Baxley, a candidate for council representative from the Hollywood reservation, said Billie's return to the political arena was a positive development. "He probably was treated unfairly," Baxley said. "Let the people decide."

The elections, along with Billie's return to tribal politics, come at a crucial time for the small tribe, which last December paid almost $1 billion for the Hard Rock International empire and has ambitious expansion plans.

The tribe is poised to begin negotiations with the state on a compact that could permit the tribe to install Las Vegas-style slot machines in its casinos. Under such an arrangement, the state could get a cut of the tribe's gambling revenue.

Of the approximately 3,200 members of the tribe, 1,640 are older than 18 and eligible to vote, according to tribal secretary Priscilla Sayen.

The tribe will publish an official list of candidates Monday.

Also up for election are council representatives from the Big Cypress, Brighton and Hollywood reservations, and three spots on the five-member board.

The tribe chairman serves as vice president of the board, while the vice-chairman of the council is president of the board. The tribal council oversees the gaming operations; the board is responsible for other tribal businesses, including gas stations, cigarette shops, cattle and citrus enterprises.

Mike Clary can be reached at mwclary@sun-sentinel.com or at 561-243-6629.

--- end ---

Saturday, April 28, 2007

David Suzuki says Baird climate plan 'not enough'; Al Gore joins fray in Canada calling the Conservative Party's "environmental plan" a "scam."

Canadian scientist and socialist David Suzuki who has no use for capitalist globalization confronted the Canadian Environment Minister accusing the Conservative government of Bush clone Stephen Harper of failing to protect the rights of Canadians and the rest of us to have clean air to breathe and healthy water to drink.

American, French, and Japanese multinational corporations are the primary polluters in Canada.

Its about time scientists take a more vocal and assertive role on this issue of global warming; they should follow David Suzuki's lead.

To his credit, while in Toronto, Al Gore stood up and vigorously spoke out in defense of David Suzuki's public confrontation with Mr. Baird, the Conservative Party's Environment Minister.

Al Gore went beyond defending Suzuki and called the present environmental policies of the right-wing Canadian Conservative federal government a "scam" and a "fraud." Gore called the Conservative Party's environmental program, "a complete and total fraud designed to mislead the Canadian public.”

David Suzuki has been a big booster of the socialist oriented New Democratic Party headed up by Jack Layton. Suzuki presently supports some of the environmental proposals of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Don't hold your breath waiting for Al Gore to support the socialist alternative to capitalism as David Suzuki does; or, even to engage in support for real solutions to global warming like saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant as he travels across the United States testing the waters for another presidential bid. However, it is refreshing to see someone like Al Gore not shy away from controversy as the other Democratic candidates do. But Gore is still a long ways from putting forward real solutions to real problems, choosing instead to play it "safe" in using the accepted Democratic strategy of speaking in terms of nice sounding progressive policies which are no replacement for advocating real solutions to problems.

Some people have accused Gore of trying to "steal the thunder" out from under David Suzuki's "in your face" confrontation with Baird. Even if this is the case, which it may very well be since Gore went to Canada to promote himself and his movie, "An Inconvenient Truth;" Al Gore's defense of Suzuki, and Suzuki's fighting spirit is still welcome.

The socialist New Democratic Party is headed for a third term in the Province of Manitoba... Manitobans are happy with their steadily improving standard of living under the leadership of the New Democratic Party which has taken numerous steps to defend clean air and water. Manitoba's NDP Premier Gary Doer has done more to defend our air and waters than any of our own elected officials in state and federal governments as he has vigorously defended the boundary waters including Lake of the Woods and the Red River of the North. Fortunately for us, the socialist Premier of Manitoba, Gary Doer, has spoken out vigorously against the intent to contaminate these waters or United States Steel would have purged its MinnTac operation's "Clearwater Reservoir" of billions of gallons of contaminated waste into our streams, rivers, and lakes already. Doer is a worker, and a member of the Manitoba Government Employees' Union seeking his third term as Manitoba Premier. Few Americans know our neighbors to the north have a majority socialist provincial government. American big-business has pumped all kinds of money into Doer's right-wing opponents of the Conservative and Liberal parties. American big-business wants to see Manitoba's publicly owned hydro industry privatized... Manitobans now pay the lowest electric bills in North America and they sell lots of clean "green" electricity generated by hydro dams south of the border. A previous Conservative Party government was tossed out of office after privatizing the publicly owned Manitoba Telephone system... Manitobans have had it with privatization since their phone bills have gone from less than $10.00 an month to over $30.00 and they don't want to see the same thing happen to their electric bills... Manitobans will be sticking with the NDP and the socialist road to real progress where people, workers' rights, and the environment are more important than the corporate bottom line. Even Manitoba's huge provincial casinos are smoke-free providing a healthy working environment for casino employees who are paid real living wages.

Americans would do well to learn more about the socialist New Democratic Party of Canada as we seek an alternative to the two-party trap.

Check out the Manitoba New Democratic Party:


When working people have their own political party they can make real progress... the Manitoba New Democratic Party has demonstrated that by using an expansion of social programs, combined with a vigorous defense of workers' rights and human rights it is possible to fight poverty and racial injustices while creating a healthier environment.


Here is one story from the mainstream Canadian media about Suzuki's face-to-face confrontation with the Conservative government's Baird [What is this? The leader of the socialist New Democratic Party is even quoted in the media? Gees, that is enough to make the editor of the Star Tribune shiver]:

David Suzuki Gets Hot Over Global Warming
Friday April 27, 2007

While hundreds milled about at the Green Living Show on Friday, two men met face-to-face in the crowd, confronting each other as well as the myriad criticisms reserved for the new Conservative environment plan.

On one side was Tory Environment Minister John Baird, defending the very strategy his staff accidentally faxed to Liberal opposition members Tuesday night.

On the other, Canada's most famous ecological scientist, David Suzuki, who wanted to tell Baird personally that his plan is little more than a "disappointment."

"When I met with Minister Baird last week, he promised all kinds of great things and it's been a big disappointment to see what it is," Suzuki insisted.

"It's all smoke and mirrors."

Suzuki claims Stephen Harper's government is ignoring the Kyoto Accord, claiming Ottawa hasn't set any firm dates that it's prepared to meet.

"He is turning his back on the Kyoto process which we are signed on to and he is not setting hard targets for reduction starting right now," he added.

Suzuki continued his confrontation with Baird by insisting there's still opportunity for further action, and in the end the men parted amicably with Baird promising his ministry would be "very happy" to meet with Suzuki again.

Under the Conservative plan, most environmental targets would be reached by 2025, which is 13 years too late by Kyoto standards.

But Baird tells a different story, promising his government's new emissions regulations are a "middle ground" between industry and environmental concerns.

The minister was also quick to point fingers at the previous Liberal government for not addressing greenhouse gases, as well as the Ontario Grits for not delivering on an election promise to close coal-fired electricity plants.

Not surprisingly, Suzuki endorsed the provincial Liberals, and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty wasted no time firing back at the Tory plan, maintaining it falls short of Canadian expectations and promising Ontario will go further.

"Later this spring our government will be issuing a climate change plan that will help Ontarians make the kinds of positive choices that together make a real difference," McGuinty said.

The premier also used the opening of the Green Living Show - held at the Direct Energy Centre - to announce energy rebates for homeowners.

Dubbed "Turning the Corner," the Conservative government strategy focuses on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.

And while everything from the efficiency of household dishwashers to the carbon dioxide emissions of Alberta's oil sands will be encompassed by the new regulations, Canadian households will take a hit as the prices for appliances, cars and electricity are expected to rise.

But none of this is music to the ears of opposition leaders.

"In order to have a strong economy we need to have energy efficiency, we need to modernize our industry," said federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion.

"The best way to do it is to bring the environment and the economy together, but this government does not believe in it.

"This is not a plan, it's a scam."

"This isn't going to get the job done," seconded NDP frontman Jack Layton.

"It's going to have us playing catch up and we're never going to catch up with other countries at this rate."

Friday, April 27, 2007

Some thoughts about progressive politics...

In responses to my blog postings I have been getting all kinds of e-mails and phone calls as well as getting into discussions about what I write in my blog postings... I can't go to the grocery store or stop and get gas without someone talking to me about something they have read on my blog... I am not complaining because I publish my blog in order to get feed-back and promote dialogue and discussion. In fact, I am quite impressed with the power and influence that blogging offers in a world where the battle of ideas in our modern world is mostly dominated by the wealthy and powerful.

If there is one question that surfaces repeatedly more than any other, it is this:

"What can any working person do to make a real difference? These people like Bush just go right ahead and do what they want no matter what we say and how we vote. The Democrats are no better than the Republicans."

I think that just about anyone reading this blog can identify with this sentiment and frustration.

This morning I read an article in David Shove's "Progressive Calendar" by a young guy from the Twin Cities who is getting very frustrated, and rightly so, with military recruiters in the high schools. As one who stood up and refused to fight in that dirty war in Vietnam I can identify with his frustrations. It takes a lot of energy to stand up to the military establishment that has its fingers so deeply into our pockets and our lives. I thought the idea this young guy floated about running anti-militarism, peace candidates for the St. Paul School Board was a fantastic idea; this should be seriously considered.

I have read similar frustrations as vented by Charley Underwood in his wonderful "Peace Calendar" that takes so much work to compile on a regular basis, lamenting the fact that Keith Ellison who he worked so hard to support as a peace candidate for Congress caved in to the pressure campaign that was mounted by the merchants of death and destruction resulting in Ellison taking his cue from Walter Mondale, a decrepit old warmonger, rather than turning to the peace movement for direction on how to vote. Of course, out of a Town Hall meeting, Ellison got a feeble show of support from one irrelevant, reclusive, self-proclaimed old-lefty who lives a detached life in the ivory towers of academia... but, that kind of support is to be expected and shouldn't be discouraging to anyone.

So, what can be done?

I think this idea of running a candidate for the St. Paul School Board should receive serious consideration, but not be limited to the issue of getting military recruiters and militarism out of the public schools.

Young people aren't receiving enough support from the rest of us as they stand up to the military establishment that feeds the military machine with the young as canon fodder for these dirty imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the merchants of death and destruction now want to take us into another war with Iran, as old-goats like Walter Mondale shamefully call for opening up another war against North Korea. With thinking like this we all know the draft is just around the corner because the military recruiters are now having to spend over $200,000.00 just to suck in one new recruit to fill a body bag.

Progressives have a real opportunity to build on this young guy's idea by incorporating "get militarism and the recruiters out of the schools" with a more comprehensive program that would include support for public ownership of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the hydro dam; and saving UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center. Young people need jobs, not war.

Think about this: young people need a future that includes good jobs, paying real living wages. St. Paul needs funds to keep its schools operating... property taxes are killing people (well, not in the same way as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan), but, these rising property taxes that mostly go to finance the public schools, combined with high monthly mortgage and insurance payments is making life very difficult for many people... if the Ford Plant was brought under public ownership those profits that have been siphoned off over the last eighty years by corporate executives and Wall Street Coupon clippers could be used to help finance public education.

The excess hydro could be used to light the schools; another little break for tax-payers.

The Ford Plant would be an important part of the tax-base for a change rather than being a burden on tax-payers... any subsidies or tax-breaks would be to local tax-payers themselves rather than boost the corporate bottom line.

The hydro dam could be expanded to provide all the electricity for all the public schools in the Twin Cities.

Something for progressives to discuss around the dinner table.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

World Resources Institute & Goldman Sachs teamed up for Earth Day

This document, a collaborative effort from the investment firm of Goldman Sachs and the World Resources Institute, a front for the World Bank and big-business, both in the forefront of capitalist globalization--- Scaling Up: Global Technology Deployment to Stabilize Emissions --- you can access from the link below contains excellent facts… this is your opportunity to get rich quick like the Clapp family… lol!


All joking and internet laughter aside, this is a very important document (Scaling Up: Global Technology Deployment to Stabilize Emissions) that puts the “nuts and bolts” to Al Gore’s position as far as the solution to climate change even though he is afraid to say so because it would destroy his credibility and any chance to run for president, again... this is good for us because it demonstrates the latent potential that exists for challenging capitalism and globalization, the imperialist stage of capitalism. I believe it also provides the “solutions” of the Sierra Clubs and the United Steel Workers union along with those like Phil Steger who sees the solution in “markets;” if Phil Steger can make the statement that he thinks the "market" will solve the problem, we should not be afraid to challenge this line of thinking just because he does a good job articulating the consequences of global warming. Same with Al Gore. Articulating the consequences of global warming does not give one the right to bring forward the "market" as a solution simply because they are afraid to confront the real problem... we all know that their corporate funding would vanish if they did this... same with many of the so-called environmental organizations who have come to rely on corporate funding through foundation grants and tax-write-offs.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy is this state's version of the World Resources Institute. There is the Ford Site Planning Committee's own Merritt Clapp-Smith sitting on the board of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, she is the one in orange:

Al Gore beat Bush in 2000; we all know this... and anyone who has watched Gore's movie (and everyone should) knows that compared to Gore we have an idiot sitting in the White House today. Gore didn't have the courage to fight the most powerful economic interests in our country then and he continues to lack that courage in presenting the "Inconvenient Truth." Boosting Wal-mart's bottom line by purchasing new Compact Fluorescent Bulbs (CFB's) is not the solution to global warming... nor are the other suggestions Gore puts forward; there is no doubt that conservation is a major part of the solution to global warming; by no means is conservation alone sufficient.

In order to begin to really solve the problem of global warming what is required is that we have the courage to look beyond superficial solutions to the real cause of the problem. The "inconvenient truth" that Gore did not dare to confront is that capitalism is the source of the problem; make no mistake, compared to capitalism, conservation efforts are only superficial. Production for corporate profits is not compatible with creating a livable world. As long as we are afraid to discuss this and take the appropriate actions the problems will worsen. The problems with the capitalist system can not be cured through reforming the system because the primary and fundamental problem is that capitalism is an economic system where human labor is exploited in the process of raping Mother Nature; this is the very basis of the capitalist system, there is nothing to reform in this. What is required is the replacement of the capitalist system with a cooperative socialist society where labor is used to create what is socially useful and necessary while taking care of Mother Nature in the process.

For far too long in our country it has been "taboo" to discuss such ideas and that is why we are confronted with the mess we have today... a war raging in Iraq with no end in sight while we have politicians talking about doing something about global warming with the same sincerity of Paul Wolfowitz and the World Bank claiming to be fighting poverty and hunger as bankers' profits soar, plunging the world's peoples into even greater poverty and despair.

We all know there are a few people getting rich BECAUSE so many people live in poverty; just as we all know the corporate drive for maximum profit is responsible for global warming not "human beings." The capitalist system is the problem, not people... this is the real "inconvenient truth" which we must face up to and do something about as we change our light bulbs... but make no mistake, if we don't take care of the source of the problem as we switch out our incandescent bulbs with Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, the only thing that is going to change is that we are going to be getting higher electric bills for using less electricity... because, this is the way this rotten system works--- we conserve, they profit. Just as we work, they profit. This is capitalism.

We can see how capitalists fight world hunger and global warming... they take valuable farm land that should be used to grow food to feed hungry people in order to grow corn to produce ethanol to fuel gas guzzling vehicles as they sell us Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs... they make huge profits and we pay through the nose at the pump and in our electric bills every step of the way while others in the world go to bed hungry and starve. Is this any kind of "solution" to global warming? Not to mention what will become of the land and our freshwater aquifers when they are done stuffing their pockets at our expense.

The Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party jumped on the band wagon of ethanol production in a tremendous show of bi-partisan unity with the Republicans, but couldn't muster more than three votes to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant from the wrecking ball; and only one State Senator, David Tomasonni, had the courage to be identified in trying to save the Ford Plant along with more than two-thousand union jobs.

One aspect of global warming that Al Gore never explored is war as a major source of global warming... both preparation for war, and war itself. How much industrial production has to take place in order to prepare for war? What are the consequences to our living environment with "bombs bursting in air?" Couldn't Al Gore have given us these calculations in his "Inconvenient Truth?" It has been estimated that one-quarter of all the iron ore taken from the earth on Minnesota's Iron Range has gone into war production over the last one-hundred years. When one considers the processing of this ore through to the final stage of production, what has been the affect of this on global warming? This is a very legitimate question. Where is the answer? Many politicians like Al Gore, articulate as they are, don't have the moral or political courage to take up this question; certainly the Democratic Party will never rise to this task. What was the contribution to global warming of Bush's "Shock and Awe" Hollywood production of the war in Iraq? Was it the equivalent of a years production from MinnTac... or, was it more?

We need to look at environmental “organizations” very closely to see where their funding is coming from… organizations like the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, the Sierra Clubs, the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the Indigenous Environmental Network… these organizations are all funded through a combination of corporate grants, the so-called “philanthropic” foundations, and the managements of corporations including the largest power generating, mining, forestry, and banking industries… one only has to look at the financial statements of any of these organizations to quickly determine why these organizations are so vehemently opposed to discussing anything from public ownership of the Ford Plant to why they refuse to oppose mining of peat in the Big Bog. Kind of ironic but it was these same corporations that bankrolled the smear campaign of Harold Stassen that led to the defeat of Minnesota’s most honest and popular public figure, Elmer Benson, the socialist United States Senator and Governor of Minnesota on the Farmer-Labor ticket who helped pave the way for Ford workers to organize.

It is no coincidence that these "philanthropic" foundations fund public TV and radio while their parent corporations are the major advertisers on commercial TV and radio and in newspapers. Is it any wonder that it becomes so difficult to have a real dialogue and debate on these questions?

Here in Minnesota the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy is the grand-daddy, much like Moses Clapp is to politics (a little intended pun) of the corporate capitalist approach to “environmentalism” using the finely tuned and honed skills associated with graft, greed, and corruption.

The facts in this publication from the World Resources Institute and Goldman Sachs are straight forward with lots of scientific explanations and conclusions which naturally are all packaged to fit within the capitalist framework, packaged in a way to "prove" that the capitalist market is the next best thing to God.

I think it is documents and reports like this that should challenge us to put forward socialist solutions, including public ownership… what the public pays for the public should own and the profits should go towards maintaining public infrastructure while creating more publicly owned enterprises rather than going into the pockets of capitalist investors.

This document challenges capitalist investors to profit from climate change… Do working people have a challenge?

We should challenge working people to challenge this rotten system that has created this environmental nightmare that now threatens life on this planet. We should view reports like this one from the World Resources Institute (doesn’t this name have the same nice ring to it as the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy?)and develop a strategy that takes up this issue of global warming in a way where we solve social and economic injustices, rather than perpetrating these injustices.

I think we need to be aware of the push from a very powerful section of the labor movement which, like Al Gore, supports this report but is afraid to say so for fear of alienating its base of support. Very influential “leaders” in organized labor have a stake in promoting the views of the World Resources Institute and Goldman-Sachs because the union pension funds are so heavily invested in many of these industries… and, no doubt even though it is not stated in this report, these pension fund monies will be a major source of these “venture capitalist” funds in these emerging and new industries which plan on profiting from "solutions" to global warming. In fact, I began receiving these publications from a friend of mine who sits on a Carpenters' Union pension fund board.

In my opinion we should be boldly challenging working people to think about a socialist future which involves public ownership as the alternative… and we should be making public ownership the centerpiece of our strategy to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant. In fact, it is the only strategy that stands a chance of saving the Ford Plant. We need to convince the rank-and-file workers to participate in this discussion about public ownership of the Plant. We need to challenge the progressive thinking people of the Twin Cities to think about the socialist alternative that public ownership provides to the web of graft and corruption being spun through the use of lies and deceit by the Ford Site Planning Committee which is nothing but a front for those capitalist vultures and parasites who want to pick the Ford Site clean as they divvy up the profitable deals with the Ford Motor Company which has built this industry here over many years on the backs of the working class.

Ford workers created this wealth that Merritt Clapp-Smith, Councilman Harris, the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, the DFL Business Caucus, and the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis now want to steal out from under the people without a whimper of protest from the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, with one lone voice recorded in dissent: that of the heroic State Senator from the Iron Range, David Tomassoni; the word shameful doesn't even begin to describe all of this.

Many people have asked how the St. Paul-Minneapolis Catholic Archdiocese fits into all of this… the Ford Site Planning Committee provides a nice aerial photo of the Ford Plant on its website… however, when we look at a larger view of the area using Google Earth it is quite apparent that one of the largest property owners adjacent to the Ford property is owned by the Archdiocese which stands to make a bundle from this swindle and not just from new patrons for their bingo games… it is no coincidence where the “public meetings” of the Ford Site Planning Committee are being held. There is a reason why the fascist and anti-Semitic Father Coughlin was always welcomed by this same Archdiocese while last Sunday Bishop Thomas Gumbleton was banned from the pulpit at St. Joan of Arc Church where he intended to preach the gospel of peace and social justice… the Ford Motor Company wants no talk of peace and social justice in these communities at a time when they are trying to give the working class the shaft, again. In fact, the fascist Father Coughlin was bankrolled by Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company who worked in cahoots with that murderous union busting thug Mr. Bennett as Ford workers in Detroit were gun-downed in the streets.

Again I raise the issue of the “investment” that many generations of Ford workers have in this Plant, not only in their direct labor at the point of production, but in the decades long struggle to win union recognition… and this is quite the investment. Think about this: Councilman Harris campaigned on the basis of being from a four generation St. Paul family while he ignores the contributions of Ford workers who have struggled for basic human dignity, decent pay, healthy working conditions and to create a "green" manufacturing facility throughout this entire time.

The Minnesota DFL has bowed to corrupt corporate pressure and influence becoming complicit in the pending destruction of the Ford Plant… it is up to us to not waste time crying over this despicable act as some cried over Keith Ellison’s complicity with the merchants of death and destruction… we have to move on with a campaign to save the Ford Plant and the more than 2,000 industrial jobs provided in a way that clearly focuses on a real solution to this very real problem which will have dire consequences for real live human beings who will suffer if the Ford Motor Company and its front, the Ford Site Planning Committee bring in the wrecking ball; cheered on by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy in the name of creating "green" spaces.

Our proposal for public ownership of the Ford Plant is the only proposal remaining on the table to these ends. Our proposal for public ownership which has been ignored by the Ford Site Planning Committee contributes to creating a more habitable living environment while combating global warming.

Check out our proposal:


We need to insist that the UAW’s Gettelfinger becomes an active participant in this struggle… he has sat on the sidelines long enough… workers in Michigan don’t need him there working to fine tune his new bargaining strategy aimed at implementing Interest Based Bargaining (IBB); the Big Three managements can do this on their own. It is time for Mr. Gettelfinger to stop playing footsie under the table with the corporate masters and start working with the rank-and-file to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant. Mr. Gettelfinger should move his offices from Solidarity House to Local 879 on Ford Parkway for the duration of this struggle. It is time for Mr. Gettelfinger to start thinking like Wyndham Mortimer, Bob Travis, Bud Simons, Phil Raymond and “Brother” Bill McKie instead of like Walter Reuther.

The real “inconvenient truth” is that we can have a livable planet or we can have capitalism but we can’t have both at the same time; and, this is where the focus of our discussions need to be.

Perhaps we don’t even need expensive yard signs as I previously suggested… just some nice little window posters on bright yellow paper that proclaim in big, bold, red letters: Public Ownership

If these signs appear in doors and windows in the Twin Cities and across our state like dandelions sprouting after a warm spring rain, I think the message will get across loud and clear.

You can print off a sign like this and place it for others to see... don't wait for Mr. Gettelfinger to make a nice sounding militant statement after the wrecking ball hits as is his way of doing things.

Minnesota’s socialist governors Floyd B. Olson and Elmer Benson along with United States Congressman John Bernard and the Red Finns of the Iron Range and those teamsters who fought the bosses along with autoworkers have left us a rich and solid legacy to build upon. The Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party was a breath of fresh air in response to the failed policies of the corrupt Democratic and Republican Parties… we need to begin to look towards creating a similar political formation because it is obvious from what transpired in a firmly controlled DFL senate committee last Thursday where proposed legislation to help save the Ford Plant went down to defeat, that the Minnesota DFL is not up to the tasks required to defend the rights and interests of working people or our living environment.

Workers at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant have struggled over many years to obtain a good work environment inside the plant; this struggle contributed to a healthier living environment in the area surrounding the plant as many people can remember the days when all kinds of foul and unhealthy fumes contaminated the air from paint and other substances. There was a time when the Ford Motor Company pumped a steady stream of contamination and sewage into the Mississippi River.

This Ford Plant, unlike so much other industry which is powered by electricity generated by coal or nuclear, gets its power from clean, "green" hydro and is able to sell off excess hydro to the surrounding community. If brought under public ownership the excess hydro could be used to light our public schools and other public facilities for free thus creating tremendous savings for tax-payers.

This Ford Plant, if placed under public ownership, could be producing what is required for things like clean "green" mass transit, pollution control devices for the mining industry to protect our air and waters, wind generating and solar electric generating equipment, producing more fuel efficient, environmentally friendly automobiles or trucks.

Unlike many industrial facilities, the state of the art UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center which is an integrated part of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant can provide top notch training and research required in order to keep this plant state of the art in meeting the needs of the American people while providing us with a healthier, higher quality of life through an environmentally friendly production process.

All of these things will need to be produced someplace as this research article from the World Resources Institute and Goldman Sachs clearly points out...

...However, will this production take place to try to satisfy the insatiable greed and appetite of capitalist investors and Wall Street coupon clippers whose primary goal is profit; or, will this production take place for the maximum benefit of society--- to create more union jobs with even better working conditions, shorter hours with higher pay while providing the requirements for a healthier and more livable world as part of a contribution towards solving social, economic, and environmental problems.

From all the pious talk we hear from Al Gore to Goldman Sachs and the World Bank about solving everything from global warming to poverty all we get is war and poverty. Certainly destroying this plant and the jobs of 2,000 workers is no way to combat global warming or poverty.

There is a lot at stake in this struggle to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant through public ownership...

The time has come to talk about the politics and economics of livelihood... the time has come for working people to come forward and shape this discussion and debate. For far too long the Clapps of this world and the Ford Motor Company have been making the decisions that affect our lives and the world we live in... this is what needs to change.

Public ownership is a real solution. Public ownership of the Ford Plant is the only solution.

Al Gore and Goldman Sachs continue to evade the real "inconvenient truth:" We can have social and economic justice on a planet where we can breathe clean, fresh air and drink water without fear where our food is grown in soil that is uncontaminated; or, we can have capitalism... however, we can not have both.

Democracy is much more than being allowed to vote every couple of years. Democracy requires that working people become part of the decision making process in every phase of decision making and planning. Ford workers were never involved in the decision making process to demolish the Ford Plant. Ford workers and the community have not been allowed to participate in the planning process at all. What we have is a phony committee called the Ford Site Planning Committee that was created by the Ford Motor Company and the politicians they control along with the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce which Merritt Clapp-Smith heads up; this is not democracy even though Henry Ford and grand-daddy Moses Clapp envisioned this to be democracy.

For many generations in St. Paul Ford workers and management had different ideas about what democracy is all about. Had Ford workers shared grand-daddy Moses Clapp's idea of democracy they would not have bothered to organize the United Auto Workers union. Ford workers organized to gain a voice at work; today Ford workers need to organize for a voice in their community.

In the larger scheme of things saving the Ford Plant and placing it under public ownership may appear at first glance to be not much different from switching from incandescent light bulbs in our homes to the Compact Fluorescent Bulbs; however, when we consider that what we produce and how we produce is fundamental to combating global warming along with social and economic injustices, saving the Ford Plant is very important... something to think about as you are switching out your light bulbs.

The epitome of hypocrisy is to talk about fighting global warming and then turning around and taking a wrecking ball to one of the largest industrial manufacturing operations and facilities in the world best poised as an existing working model to help us make the needed changes and meet the challenges.


-----Original Message-----
From: World Resources Institute
Sent: Tuesday, April 24, 2007 5:01 AM
To: amaki000@centurytel.net
Subject: WRI and Goldman Sachs Partner on Climate Technology Report

To view this email as a web page, go here.

To better comprehend the economic and policy implications of climate change, World Resources Institute analysts partnered with the Goldman Sachs Center for Environmental Markets to produce a report that outlines a blueprint for implementing the major technologies needed to reduce emissions at the requisite scale.

Expanding on the “wedges” approach proposed by Princeton researchers Stephen Pacala and Robert Socolow, this blueprint focuses on developing a deeper understanding of the policy, investment, and technology drivers vital to achieving emissions reductions.

Scaling Up: Global Technology Deployment to Stabilize Emissions can be downloaded via the following link:


The authors are Fred Wellington, WRI’s senior financial analyst and Rob Bradley, director of the International Climate Policy Initiative at WRI. Emails: fwellington@wri.org and rbradley@wri.org.

This email was sent to: amaki000@centurytel.net

This email was sent by: World Resources Institute
10 G Street NE Suite 800 Washington, DC 20002 USA

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


This sure sounds good... I would encourage you to circulate this widely... Alan Maki


ITUC OnLine...

ITUC May Day Manifesto

Brussels, April 24 (ITUC Online): Working people in all corners of the
globe, gathering together on the 1st of May, celebrate the tremendous
achievements of the trade union movement and commemorate all those who
have given so much in the cause of justice, equality and human dignity.

Each and very person has the right to decent work and a decent life.
For the vast millions to whom these rights are but an aspiration, it is
through the determination and collective will of trade unionism that
this aspiration can become a reality, and for those who today enjoy
these rights in their daily lives, it is through their unions that they
will be defended and maintained.

The historic unification of the world trade union movement, just half a
year ago, gives us new means and renewed vitality in our quest for a
better world. We will harness this new momentum to its very maximum, to
bring solidarity to all those who need it, and to change the course of
the global economy to make it serve the interests of the many rather
than the few.

Our commitment to build a better world, where economic progress serves
social needs, where those who live in poverty and at the margins of
society are empowered to live decent and fulfilling lives, remains
steadfast. The universal values which have underpinned more than a
century of proud trade union history remain as valid today as they did
at the very birth of our movement.

We oppose all forms oppression and exploitation, and proclaim our
determination to continue the struggle against all those who seek to
profit from deprivation, discrimination and despair. We stand united
with all women and men who suffer violations of their rights as workers
and as human beings and will come to their aid in every way we can. We
condemn all those who profit from the misery of others and will carry
forward the fight against the rapacious excesses of corporate greed. We
will maintain our struggle for a world where all can live secure and
peaceful lives, free from the threat of violence, war and destruction.

The generations of today hold the very future of the planet in our
hands. Our actions will leave an indelible mark on the lives of the
children of the world and those to come. We shall fulfill our solemn
duty to work for sustainable economic and social progress, to play our
part in tackling climate change, in providing health and education for
all and confronting the enormous challenges which we face as a world

We seek a world where all nations can cooperate to the common good,
building and sustaining fairness and justice in economic relations,
where no country is left behind and where the aspirations of all men,
women and children to a decent life are met in full. We pledge, in
furtherance of the great and durable traditions of our movement, to
turns these dreams and hopes into reality.

Founded on 1 November 2006, the ITUC represents 168 million workers in
153 countries and territories and has 304 national affiliates.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The "DFL Business Caucus" dominates the Minnesota DFL

The “Business Caucus” of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party wants to silence progressive thought. The well-heeled “Summit Hill Crowd” and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce along with the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis have teamed up and been hard at work trying to stifle all discussion on single-payer, universal health care in the same manner that they have tried to derail the struggle to end this dirty war in Iraq, to revoke the permit to mine peat in the Big Bog, to keep the Ford Plant open, to halt predatory lending, and on the issue of global warming… in each and every one of these areas very serious problems relating to human needs and our living environment are at stake.

Yes, the "DFL Business Caucus" dominates the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party... But, there is no "B" in the name. "B" for business... make that double B for big-business.

There is a common thread that links these groups of the most reactionary elements in our state. That link is the drive for maximum corporate profits and these groups all have a vested interest in seeing to it that a real open and democratic discussion does not take place… to this end these powerful wealthy, corporate interests have engaged the services of one Merritt Clapp-Smith to carry forward the corporate anti-people, anti-environment agenda.

We have seen how Merritt Clapp-Smith has been made a cheerleader for the “Summit Hill Crowd” and she is closely associated with all of these very conservative and reactionary business interests… as a board member of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy which is nothing more than a front for the forestry, mining, and power generating industries who drag this organization out every time they want to create another environmental mess. Check it out:


That is Merrit Clapp-Smith, board member in the orange shirt… this organization set out to disrupt our struggle to save the Big Bog--- our primary freshwater aquifer up here in northern Minnesota… Merritt Clapp-Smith is a past president of the Summit Hill Neighborhood Association and presently is a member of that board… it becomes very interesting to see how these business interests operate… Merritt Clapp-Smith, working with the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis chose a Catholic School community center in which it would be easier to control and manipulate the “public work” of the Ford Site Planning Committee rather than use the public facilities of the UAW-Ford-MnScu Training Center.

I have asked both St. Paul Councilman Harris and Merritt Clapp-Smith to provide us with some of their family histories, both have refused. There is ample reason to believe that both Merritt Clapp-Smith and Councilman Harris have a conflict of interest in the work of the Ford Site Planning Committee.

It is very interesting to note how Merritt Clapp-Smith fosters and advances the work of this extremely wealthy ruling clique composed of the “Summit Hill Crowd,” the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, and the “DFL Business Caucus.” It is this same grouping that has been in the center of being against everything that working people need in each of the issues I have noted. Make no mistake, on the issue of single-payer, universal health care this grouping has worked in the Minnesota Legislature to derail single-payer, universal health care movement in the exact same way that they have blocked the attempt to save the Ford Plant and the jobs of over two-thousand union workers.

Now, if this doesn’t send a clear signal to all of us working on these various issues that we need to come together in order to counter this powerful grouping of the well-heeled and wealthy I don’t know what ever will… but consider the fact that it is this very same conservative and reactionary bunch that denied Bishop Thomas Gumbleton the right to speak yesterday morning at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church… and it was this group’s favorite Bishop, Harry Flynn, who did their dirty work just as Merritt Clapp-Smith has been doing.

Finally we are getting a glimpse of how this undemocratic, corrupt little group works together in order to make the decisions over the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink and the jobs we have.

It is no wonder why Red Lake Gaming Enterprises has approached this little group with the idea of using its last gaming license to build a huge new casino along the St. Paul Mississippi River bank and why the Ford Motor Company wants to maintain ownership of this 15 acre parcel of prime real estate.

I think we need to ask how much DFL Chair Brian Melendez and DFL Executive Director Andrew O’Leary know about all of this… and we need to know why a DFL Senate Committee composed of eleven DFL members and only seven Republicans could not carry forward the legislation to protect the Ford Plant from the wrecking ball last Thursday in committee.

I would note that it is the very same DFL legislators, who are in fact the majority of the DFL caucus, whom have looked the other way in indifference as over twenty thousand Minnesotans go to work every day in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws… something that autoworkers may want to keep in mind as they apply for all those casino jobs that will be replacing their present employment with the Ford Motor Company.

Perhaps there is “an inconvenient truth” in all of this; that the well-heeled and the wealthy have created the game and made all the rules so they can profit at our expense exploiting our labor.

This is all very interesting indeed seeing how Merritt Clapp-Smith sits on the Board of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, the same organization that tried to stick a monkey wrench into the struggle to save the Big Bog from another crooked and corrupt deal involving Red Lake Gaming Enterprises trading off its opposition to peat mining for favorable consideration of a casino operation in International Falls… a dirty deal orchestrated by one of the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy’s favorite DFL Congressmen… James Oberstar, who just happens to be a favorite Congressman of Harry Flynn and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce.

And the Saint Paul Police Department and the FBI want to know what I am doing three hundred and fifty miles from home sticking my nose into what is going on with the Ford Plant.

Oh, and on a final note: It took me over a year to obtain the letter signed by Red Lake Nation Chairman Butch Brun dropping opposition to peat mining in the Big Bog in return for the right of Red Lake Gaming Enterprises to build a new casino in International Falls… it will be relatively easy for me to obtain the birth certificates of Councilman Harris and Merritt Clapp-Smith to begin to explain their long term associations with the business and financial community in St. Paul… but if it took me a year to wrest this letter signed by Chairman Brun of the Red Lake Nation that was on file with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the Minnesota DNR, the Koochiching County Board, the Red Lake Tribal Council, and in the files of United States Congressman James Oberstar… how long is it going to take me to research and obtain the records associated with the Ford Site Planning Committee and the present underhanded work of Merritt Clapp-Smith and the Ford Motor Company, this “DFL Business Caucus,” and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce?

Keep in mind… Ford Motor Company intends to bring out the wrecking balls in about a year.

I think there are members of the DFL Caucus in the Minnesota Legislature who know a lot more than what they are saying about how the Minnesota DFL is being manipulated and controlled by these business interests. It is time they save us all a lot of time and step forward and tell us what is going on.

It is time for the UAW’s Gettelfinger to put the full resources of the United Auto Workers Union into this struggle to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and not sell autoworkers’ jobs down the river as he has done at Bradford-White; and it is time for the rail unions to do the same thing… not only with research, but to insist that the politicians who have been the recipients of campaign contributions of autoworkers and the rail unions now do their part in this struggle to save the Ford Plant which is closely related to all of these other struggles. Let there be no more “Dirty Thursdays” as Senator Cohen develops a new legislative approach towards saving the Ford Plant. It is time for Senator David Tomasonni, and Representatives Tony Sertich, Tom Rukavina, and Tom Anzelc to step boldly into this struggle and insist that there be unity in both the DFL controlled Senate and House.

We all know that the only way this Ford Plant is going to be saved is through public ownership of this plant… we are not talking about “mothballing” a plant structure, and the equipment inside of this plant… we are talking about keeping at least two thousand workers employed in an operating industrial production… this should be the focus of Senator Cohen’s future legislation and the UAW’s Gettelfinger should make this clear to Senator Cohen, Sertich, Rukavina, and Anzlc who will have to carry the ball for working people on this struggle… they have been dropping and fumbling the ball, now it is time for them to shape up before Ford and the Ford Site Planning Committee bring in the wrecking ball.

A lot can be done in one year, all is far from futile; the Ford Plant can be saved; but, if we are going to be successful we have a lot of work to do. Powerful influences of big money have to be overcome.

We prevented Red Lake Gaming Enterprises from building a new casino in International Falls with a door-to-door informational campaign, we have established casino worker organizing committees throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa, we have held off a Canadian corporation’s attempt to mine peat in the Big Bog, we got seventy percent of the delegates at the last DFL State Convention to go on record supporting single-payer, universal health care; we successfully beat back attempts in several home foreclosure cases without any help from the DFL in spite of all their talk about predatory lending… we can beat back the drive to demolish the Ford Plant if we take off the gloves and confront these powerful economic interests by bringing the Ford workers, the people of the Twin Cities, and all Minnesotans into this struggle.

If anyone doubts that the struggle for an end to this dirty war in Iraq is not closely related to the struggle to save the Ford Plant through public ownership, take a drive or a walk through the community surrounding the Ford Plant… the only sign supporting this dirty war in Iraq in the entire community was placed at the entrance gate to the Ford Plant by company management… the rest of the surrounding community is filled with signs to stop the war.

The UAW should consider putting as much into making this a full scale community organizing effort as what they put into supporting DFL politicians... this spring, let's see some yard signs sprouting up like dandelions insisting the Ford Plant stay open under public ownership with people going door-to-door talking to their neighbors in much the same way the UAW uses its resources to get out the vote on Election Day. Petitions, leaflets, rallies, and demonstrations... let's see organize labor marching through the communities like they marched around the DFL State Convention floor in support of Mike Hatch and Amy Klobuchar.

We can no longer afford to heed the narrow vision of those who want us to view all of these issues ranging from single-payer, universal health care to the Ford Plant closing to the rights of casino workers as somehow unrelated… the “Summit Hill Crowd” understands that all of these issues are interconnected, even if we do not… anyone care to ask Merritt Clapp-Smith or Councilman Harris their views on the war in Iraq?

Senator Metzen’s Committee met to consider Senator Cohen’s proposed legislation, SF 607 from 3:15 to 4:34 on Thursday, April 19, 2007 with fourteen of eighteen members of the Committee present and by the time the vote was taken for which the person responsible for taking the minutes conveniently left out how the remaining members voted from the minutes… the vote was recorded as seven opposed and three for. We must remember DFL Senator Metzen is the Chair of this committee made up of eleven members from the DFL and seven Republicans. How then, can a Party which claims to represent labor not pass this legislation [Note: at the bottom I have attached the “minutes” of the meeting such as they are as I received them from Lisa Sarnes; I have placed “minutes” in quotation marks because based upon what one reads one has to ask if Lisa Sarnes is competent to be the clerk of such an important Committee; or, was a political decision made to have the “minutes” kept in this fashion]?

Below is a link to the voice recording of that Senate Committee meeting which I received from Ms. Sarnes:

Dear Mr Maki,

Here is the information you requested-

To listen to the audio, copy and paste this in your browser. After scrolling past the blue boxes you will see that the very first meeting listed is the Business, Industry and Jobs Committee and that is the date you are looking for. I have also attached the minutes and the agenda.


Lisa Sarne

Legislative Assistant

Senator James Metzen

Capitol 322


How dare Democratic Senator Metzen not require that his own legislative assistant (LA), Lisa Sarne, who is responsible for taking the minutes of this meeting not record how each and every member of this Committee voted and who was absent at the time of the vote on this very important piece of legislation.

What does this tell us about the collusion of business interests and the DFL to deprive working class Minnesotans of their right to participate in the democratic process?

Perhaps Harry Flynn could enlighten us as to the meaning of the term “blasphemy;” because how else would you describe this conduct on the part of elected and public officials who preach to the rest of the world that we live in the world’s greatest democracy when these public officials can’t even maintain the proper minutes of a Committee meeting that was called for only one purpose… to vote on SF 607 and which lasted only one hour and nineteen minutes? Any secretary of a high school student council can, and does, keep better minutes.

There needs to be accountability.

The UAW leadership of Mr. Gettelfinger from Solidarity House first put forth the idea that “We need to elect Mike Hatch the Governor of Minnesota and the UAW’s delegates to the state DFL convention got up and danced around the convention floor for Hatch like a bunch of teenage cheerleaders at a high school football game at half-time; and, according to Gettelfinger by putting all of our eggs in the Hatch basket we will be all set and things will work out with the Ford Plant… our members will be taken care of.”

Well, Gettelfinger chose a loser in Hatch; and the UAW is poised to lose two thousand members in the Twin Cities.

Then we heard from Solidarity House we will resolve this in the state legislature… oh, how the UAW political action people heaped praise on the DFL caucus members who chaired the committee meetings in the House and Senate on this proposed legislation.

What has this groveling of the Gettelfinger bunch achieved to date? Not one thing of substance for Ford workers who will now have difficulty saving their homes from foreclosure as the parasitic and predatory lenders of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and the DFL “Business Caucus” circle like vultures over road-kill.

Is anyone getting a clear picture here of how all of these issues are interrelated?

Who will pay their health care bills? For too long the Reuther bunch of which Gettelfinger is a member has put forward the losing proposition that the UAW will solve all of its problems by developing a cozy relationship with the employers; and, the politicians hand picked by these employers... the results of the Reuther bunch have been coming home to roost in plant closings, job losses, autoworkers suffering the consequences of the health care mess like the rest of us.

Now there is Gettelfinger’s great brain-fart: Interest Based Bargaining (IBB). I have photographs of all the campaign signs the UAW supported in the last election from the State DFL Convention… not one of these politicians, with the exception of Senator David Tomassoni, do we know showed up to support SF 607; not one.

A one hour hearing starts out with fourteen of eighteen members present with DFL’er Roger Skoe missing in action and probably out to dinner with his Republican colleagues and this committee ends up with ten members voting; seven to three in opposition to Senator Tomassoni’s motion to support! This is what passes for democracy? Where is the accountability in any of this.

The Republicans who knew their DFL colleagues didn't have the courage to support this legislation were so confident the DFL was opposed they were no-shows, not only for the vote but the hearing itself.

Look, the Republicans had nothing to do with defeating this most important piece of labor legislation that UAW members were counting on. The business controlled DFL legislators did the dirty work of their own volition.

Are the DFL members of this committee now going to have the political and moral courage to step forward to tell us why they left the committee hearing prior to the vote or voted against HF 607? Or, do we have to pry it out of them?

Rumor has it United States Congressman Keith Ellison apparently is awaiting a call from Walter Mondale to get his instructions on what to do about the Ford Plant closing. Mondale sure is taking his time to phone Ellison.

We have been hearing from the DFL leadership that they were unable to accomplish anything of importance for working people in the last legislative session because the Republicans had been in control… now, the Democrats are in complete control of the House and Senate here in Minnesota and they can not even get a very significant piece of legislation approved by one tiny little committee which they overwhelmingly and completely dominate.

We have faced the same thing on health care; and all of these other issues right on down the line. In place of Republicans we get DFL’ers like Leroy Stumpf, Frank Moe, Brita Sailor, and David Olin… big deal.

I went to a little party at the home of Bob Bergland for Ford Bell… David Olin was there. I said, “Oh, are you supporting Ford Bell for United States Senate?”… Olin walked me over into a corner where no one could hear and whispered very sofly, “Of course, or I wouldn’t be here.” I asked him, “Are you going to publicly endorse Ford Bell for the United States Senate against Amy Klobuchar?” He looked around to make sure no one was listening and whispered even softer into my ear, “Shhh, no one has to know I was here this evening, right?” This is the kind of two faced double dealing politicians that comprise the majority of the DFL caucus in both the Senate and the House… here in Minnesota, and in the United States Congress. How can working people accomplish anything backing these kinds of opportunist, back-stabbing, sleaze-balls?

Several days before the election Olin boasted to the media that he was more conservative than his reactionary Republican opponent… I would be willing to bet that Representative David Olin has formed a fast, lasting and deep friendship with Harry Flynn and the “Summit Hill” gang. And Olin was chosen to run by State Senator Leroy Stumpf whose claim to fame is that he has never voted against a piece of legislation that business is for; coincidentally… Roger Skoe and Leroy Stumpf are great chums; and Skoe doesn’t show up for the hearing on SF 607; coincidental? I don't think so.

That the Minnesota DFL is playing games as two thousand jobs in the auto industry go down the river so several thousand poverty wage jobs in a casino can be created is the epitome of what one would call a “sell out” and “betrayal” of working people considering the fact that the very same Democratic Party is also responsible for casino workers having no rights in Minnesota… and Wisconsin, and Michigan, and Iowa… and all across this country.

Yesterday these powerful economic interests silenced the progressive voice of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton… it is now up to us to carry Bishop Gumbleton’s message for peace and social justice out into the communities across Minnesota.

For three days Legislative Assistants have been scurrying about the State Capitol frantically seeking advice on “How should we respond to these questions Maki is asking now?”

I think rather than worrying about how these legislative assistants have been sent scurrying by their bosses trying to figure out how to prevent me from gaining access to information… someone should whip the DFL caucus members into line.

Tell Harry Flynn, Merritt Clapp-Smith, the Summit Hill crowd, the DFL Business Caucus, and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce to go to hell.

It is a sad day in Minnesota when working people get shafted like this… casino workers understand because we have been getting shafted like this by the DFL and the Democratic Party for a very long time.

Alan L. Maki

Director of Organizing

Red Lake Casino, Hotel, and Restaurant Employees’ Union Organizing Committee


Member of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Central Committee

Agenda and minutes of the:

Business, Industry and Jobs Committee

Senator Jim Metzen, Chair

Thursday, April 19, 2007

3:00 p.m. – Room 15 State Capitol


1. S.F. 607-Cohen: Motor vehicle manufacturing plant maintenance requirement.

Proponents: Bob Kailleen, United Auto Workers

Don Gerdesmeier, Joint Council 32 DRIVE

Phillip Qualy, United Transportation Union

Opponents: Mary Culler, Director of Government Affairs, Ford Motor Company

Cecile Bedor, City of St. Paul Director of Planning & Economic Dvlp.

Mark Moeller or Sandra Westerman, St. Paul Chamber of Commerce



Senator James Metzen, Chairman of the Business, Industry and Jobs Committee, called the meeting to order at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, 2007 in room 15 of the State Capitol.

The clerk noted the roll. The following members were present:

Metzen, Chair

Saltzman, Vice-Chair













The following members were absent:





Meeting began with a quorum.

1. S.F. 607-Cohen: Motor vehicle manufacturing plant maintenance requirement.

The following people gave testimony in favor of S.F. 607:

Bob Kailleen, United Auto Workers

Don Gerdesmeier, Joint Council 32 DRIVE

Phillip Qualy, United Transportation Union

Questions and comments from the committee followed.

The following people gave testimony in opposition to S.F. 607:

Mary Culler, Director of Government Affairs, Ford Motor Company

Cecile Bedor, City of St. Paul Director of Planning & Economic Development

Mark Moeller, St. Paul Chamber of Commerce

Questions and Comments from the committee followed.

Senator Cohen and Phillip Qualy gave closing remarks in favor of S.F. 607

Senator Tomassoni moved that the bill do pass and be re-referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

The Chair was in doubt and called for a division.

The motion did not prevail.

The meeting adjourned at 4:34 p.m.


James Metzen, Chair

Business, Industry and Jobs Committee


Lisa Sarne

Committee Clerk

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton denied the right to speak at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in St. Paul Diocese in Minnesota

I spoke with the person answering the phone this morning at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, who refused to provide her name, but said that Pastor Tim De Bruycker had extended the invitation to Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit to speak this morning at their Church; and that the "invitation was rescinded" by the St. Paul Diocese; the Bishop of the Diocese is the very conservative and very reactionary Harry Flynn.

The St. Paul Catholic Diocese is known for its reactionary and conservative views as is its head, Bishop Harry Flynn.

The person who answered the phone at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church told me that she felt the word "prohibited" which has been used by Charles Underwood in his "Peace calendar" was perhaps "too strong a word to use," but, that I could use any word I felt appropriate because in the end Bishop Gumbleton was not permitted the right to speak.

Bishop Gumbleton is one of the foremost champions of peace and social justice in the United States; and a foremost proponent of the rights of equality for the Palestinian people and has criticized the United States policy in Iraq from the day the war began and has been in the forefront of the nuclear weapons disarmament movement in the United states for decades. Bishop Gumbleton best exemplifies those who have the courage to speak out insisting that "swords be turned into plowshares." He is a cleric of unremarkable courage and conviction who has helped to house the homeless and feed the hungry. He has stood and spoken the truth to corporate power.

Those attending mass at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church today were simply told that Bishop Gumbleton would not be present to address them this morning. No explanation was given.

This failure to provide an explanation has fueled speculation that Bishop Harry Flynn bowed to the pressures of the very wealthy, well-heeled, right-wing, anti-Palestinian lobby which supports the warmongering policies of the Israeli government of the corrupt Democratic Party machine of the "Summit Hill Club" and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce which has a firm, tight grip on the Minnesota DFL, and has maneuvered and manipulated using every conceivable dirty trick in the book to prevent a full and open discussion concerning finding a just solution to the situation in the Middle East.

It is this same corrupt and anti-democratic grouping of "The Summit Hill Club" and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce, that calls itself the "DFL Business Caucus" which has prevented me from participating as a duly elected member of the State Central Committee of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party after I took Walter Mondale to task and urged the DFL State Central Committee to take a stand in opposition to the recent Israeli carnage in Lebanon.

This "Business Caucus" took the lead in derailing the struggle for single-payer, universal health care.

It is this same "Business Caucus" that has refused to allow a thorough debate within the DFL concerning the war in Iraq.

It is this same "Business Caucus" that successfully stymied and blocked legislation in the Minnesota State Senate this past week to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant.

It is this "Business Caucus" made up of members of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and the "Summit Hill Club" of which Merritt Clapp-Smith is on the Board of Directors and is the past President which now intends to demolish the Ford Plant destroying over 2,000 union jobs in the process; and, in its place put in a riverfront casino and upscale housing which has pressured the Arch Diocese of St. Paul to prohibit the humanist Bishop Thomas Gumbleton from speaking his mind at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church.

It is this same anti-democratic and corrupt group of "business leaders" that is intent on returning the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party to its origins noted for its racist support for the campaign of genocide to drive Native Americans from their homes and their lands, stole their resources, urged the mass hanging in Mankato, Minnesota--- and then continued to support slavery as they organized the most vicious mobs of "citizen committees" to beat-up union organizers; they then collaborated with the Republicans to run the most despicable, red-baiting, anti-Semitic campaign to oust from office Minnesota's most honest and popular Governor--- Elmer Benson.

It is this same group of corrupt DFL politicians that prevented Elmer Benson from continuing to have a voice in the newly formed Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party [the merger of the Democratic Party and the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party] that has today denied Bishop Thomas Gumbleton the right to speak about peace and social justice and the rights of the Palestinian people along with supporting a just solution to the terrible problems and continuing violence in the Middle East.

If Bishop Thomas Gumbleton can be silenced by this band of two-bit, half-assed fascists there isn't a single person in America who enjoys freedom of speech and conscience anymore.

I would encourage everyone to speak out and condemn the anti-democratic actions of the "Summit Hill Club" and the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce along with the "DFL Business Caucus" and the Catholic Arch Diocese of St. Paul led by the conservative Harry Flynn who bowed to the pressure of this corrupt and undemocratic little group.

This is an outrage of the greatest magnitude.


Saturday, April 21, 2007

President Bush got the welcome a warmonger deserves in Grand Rapids, Michigan

This coverage from the daily Republican rag and big business mouthpieces tells us a lot about what is going on in this country... both the Grand Rapids Press and WOTV continue to shamefully support this oilman's war.

The peace movement mobilizes thousands of people on the spur of the moment, and the Republican Party can't even bring out but a pitiful handful of warmongers that included bankers, the Huntings and the Pews, the Prince family which owns the Blackwater Agency, and Rich and Betsy DeVos along with General Motors' management, along with corporate executives that were brought in from Chicago, Detroit, and New York, along with a crowd of congressional staff of over one hundred from Washington D.C.

The crowd that was in attendance to greet President Bush included six board members of the local John Birch Society as well as members of the World Affairs Council together with Meijer and Bissel Corporation executives.

Only forty-four students from East Grand Rapids High School were allowed to attend because the Republicans were afraid of their own children in this Republican stronghold of East Grand Rapids, Michigan, the home of former Republican Congressman and our only un-elected President appointed by that crook Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford.

Bush, the Republicans, and the Secret Service chose this high school where the sons and daughters of the wealthy--- the bankers, corporate attorneys, and automotive executives go to school... no doubt Lee Iococa who often attends West Michigan Republican shindigs didn't receive an invitation either after Laura Bush read excerpts of his latest book to the President.

Peter Secchia was on hand as was Mike Lloyd the FBI informant turned Editor of the Grand Rapids Press who provided the FBI with much of the information in the dossier on Susan Logie. The group in attendance to hear Bush's words of wisdom were the wealthy and well-heeled while the rest of the people were kept far away.

The Secret Service and FBI even barred the school's teachers from attending Bush's speech because they were worried Bush would receive some loud "boos."

Previously Cheney was sent to deliver a speech to the Party faithful at conservative Calvin College which Cheney intentionally chose because he thought he was safe from protests... and he found out that neither he nor the Republican warmongers were welcome there.

One can't help but wonder what the people who are running this country are thinking when they are pursuing policies of war and destruction that are so unpopular that neither the President nor his Vice-President are welcome in these Republican strongholds.

One thing neither of these media reports mention is that former Republican Grand Rapids Mayor John Logie just months ago, while invited to speak from the pulpit on a Sunday morning at one of the largest churches in Grand Rapids, called for the impeachment of George Bush and Dick Cheney for lying to the American people about this dirty war in Iraq. Logie was the longest serving mayor of Grand Rapids. Perhaps Logie is just angry that the Secret Service and the FBI have compiled a massive dossier, including wire taps and photo surveillance on the family home, because of the peace activities of his wife, Susan.

Protests against president are peaceful

Saturday, April 21, 2007

By Jim Harger

The Grand Rapids Press

EAST GRAND RAPIDS -- AnneMarie Bessette didn't come to shop when she took her 15-year-old daughter, Coralie, to Gaslight Village.

Mother and daughter were there to join nearly 1,000 protesters who roamed the business district Friday, waving signs and shouting anti-war chants while President Bush delivered a speech half a block away at East Grand Rapids High School.

"I'm trying to educate my children and help them understand international affairs," Bessette said. "I'm trying to help them understand what's happening in our country, and especially the war in Iraq."

It was one of two separate protests held during Bush's brief visit to the Grand Rapids area. A smaller group of about 60 voiced their opposition to Bush and the war in Iraq at South Division Avenue and Fulton Street.

Prior to Bush's arrival at the high school, most of the protesters lined the east side of Lakeside Drive SE in the belief the president's motorcade would pass them. When the motorcade arrived from the other direction at 1 p.m., they streamed west along Wealthy Street SE and posted themselves at the intersection of Bagley Avenue SE.

Gaslight Village took on a carnival atmosphere as protesters drummed out anti-war chants and slogans.

Irene Bach, 83, basked in the sun and watched from a lawn chair that she and her husband, Sol, brought from their home on Breton Road.

"I guess I'm opposed to war, period," she said. "I'm very much for peace."

During the protest in downtown Grand Rapids, Amy Hamb, 38, of Rockford, stared at a 250-foot banner that carried the names and dates of death of more than 3,000 Americans killed during the war.

"Those are the dead?" whispered Hamb as she stood at a nearby bus stop. "I didn't realize. You hear about one or two West Michigan deaths, but those are the number dead from this war. I never got that," she said.

Plenty of cars beeped in recognition of the signs instructing "Honk if you want peace."

The handmade messages even included a nod to former President Reagan's words about the Berlin Wall: "Mr. President, tear down this war."

Donna Harris left her downtown residence to see the crowd gathering on the corner. She walked past the signs and moved in closer to examine the banner listing the names of the U.S. war dead. A furrow creased her brow.

"Oh my God, there are 43-year-old women on here. This really makes you face our dead," Harris said. "When I was younger, you used to be able to tell the president something and he would listen. That is not happening," said the 64-year-old woman, who described herself as an artist.

©2007 Grand Rapids Press
© 2007 Michigan Live. All Rights Reserved.


Bush in EGR: 'progress toward liberty'

Updated: April 20, 2007 04:28 PM CDT

EAST GRAND RAPIDS -- Less than 30 minutes after landing at Ford International Airport, President George W. Bush delivered a major policy speech about the Global War on Terror at East Grand Rapids High School.

The president was introduced by Dixie Anderson of the World Affairs Council, and the audience of about 500 included Reps. Vern Ehlers, Pete Hoekstra, Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land and longtime supporter Peter Secchia, plus 44 students from East Grand Rapids High School.

In prepared remarks lasting nearly 40 minutes, the president talked about the surge of both US troops and violence over the past few months.

President Bush said that sectarian murders have dropped by half in Baghdad since the U.S.-Iraqi military buildup began in February, rejecting a Democratic leader's claim that the war is lost.

"These operations are having an important effect on this young democracy," Bush said in a speech on terrorism, his second in two days. "They're showing Iraqi citizens across the country that there will be no sanctuary for killers anywhere in a free Iraq."

Bush said he continues to believe that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is committed to peace and reconciliation. At the same time, he said the U.S. military commitment in Iraq is not-open ended.

"Iraqis must not give in to al-Qaida if they want a peaceful society," he said.

Bush spoke at a high school to about 500 students and members of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan. He urged Americans not to be swayed by the violence inflicted by suicide bombers. He said Wednesday's carnage, in which four large bombs exploded in mostly Shiite areas of Baghdad and killed 230 people, had all the "hallmarks of an al-Qaida attack."

It was the deadliest day in the city since the mid-February start of the U.S.-Iraqi campaign to reduce violence in the capital and Anbar Province, a stronghold for Sunni insurgents.

"Anbar province is still not safe," Bush said.

Pushing back against Democrats, Bush said that not all the troops that he ordered in January in a military buildup have arrived. It's too early to assume defeat, he said.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., says the war in Iraq is "lost" and can only be won through political and economic diplomatic means. He said the surge is not accomplishing anything. Republicans have pounced on Reid for his comments, accusing him of turning his back on the troops and hurting military morale in Iraq.

Bush declined to take the gloves off.

"I respect the Democratic leadership," he said. "We have fundamental disagreements about whether or not helping this young democracy is, you know -- the consequences of failure or success, let's put it this way."

In past addresses, Bush has worked to paint a rose-colored picture of progress in Iraq. This time, he showed maps and photographs of destruction and acknowledged that tough challenges remain.

In recent days, Defense Secretary Robert Gates pressed al-Maliki to do more, and do it faster, to end sectarian strife. Navy Adm. William Fallon, chief of the U.S. Central Command, said Baghdad security has improved a bit but he, too, said Iraqis need to find a way to bring minority Sunnis, who ruled during Saddam Hussein's regime, fully into the government led by majority Shiites.

President Bush then was "happy to answer questions on any subject," and did so for nearly 30 minutes. The first question was how he dealt with Democratic control of the purse strings in Congress. The president answered he believed the troops would get the money they needed.

He expanded the answer to include how the sectarian violence began, how that impacted his decisions, and how it's taking time to train Iraqi troops to do what needs to be done.

The next question concerned his relationship with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the UK's plan to withdraw troops from certain regions of Iraq. "Tony Blair knows what I know," Bush said. "We are in a global war on terror. We are sometimes in different theaters, but we're fighting the global war."

Iran was the next topic of discussion, and how to deal with "their belligerent behavior." The president said the Iranians have defied the world community to "what I believe is to develop a nuclear weapon."

He said the country cannot give in to nuclear blackmail. Our objective, he said, "is to rally the world" to Iran's actions and garner support against their plans.

"Iran is a proud country with great traditions, but their government is" making bad choices.

A woman asked about the Iraq Study Group and the Baker-Hamilton recommendations. The president said he agreed with many of their recommendations, but he was bound "by conditions on the ground" in his reactions and decisions on conduct of the war. He said, plainly, he disagreed with some of their diplomatic recommendations, saying it would be counter-productive for face-to-face meetings with the Syrians until they change some of their behaviors.

In a reference to Nancy Pelosi's recent visit to Syria, the president said Syrian president Bashir Assad uses those visits to tell the world he's important. But, the president said, Assad has not lived up to any agreement with the international community.

"I don't know," Bush said when asked about al-Maliki's understanding of American patience. "We must make decisions based on principles and not on the latest opinion polls," he said to applause. "I believe in the universality of liberty...I firmly believe in the power of freedom."

A question about the US support of Saudi Arabia and other autocratic governments may be fomenting anger against the US. "It's not like I believe Jeffersonian democracy will be blooming in the desert," he said. "I do have a good relationship with King Abdullah and it gives me the chance to share my thoughts with him privately."

"There is progress being made," he added, "toward more liberty." Bush cited future elections in Egypt as being more open. "It takes a while. And the fundamental question is, will we be involved in the Middle East" in ways that affect their societies and the world at large.

"I will tell you," President Bush said, "I worry about us becoming isolationist and protectionist."

"We are all interconnected in this world."

The president wrapped up his session at 2:25 p.m.

After the speech, Bush made an unscheduled stop at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, where the former president was buried in January. He laid a bouquet of white roses on a stone wall that marks Ford's grave and paused there for a few moments.


GRAND RAPIDS -- Officials at East Grand Rapids High School have been working all week to get ready for Friday's presidential visit, but a big difference you might notice now are the road closures.

Bagley Avenue will be closed from 9 a.m. Friday until 4 p.m. Lake Drive between Breton and Lovett will be shut down from 12:45 until 2:30, and Wealthy Street in Gaslight Village will be closed as the president arrives and departs from the school.

The president is expected to speak just after 1:00 Friday afternoon. The White House says he'll deliver a major policy speech on the war on terror. Although the school says the appearance is not a political statement, it's causing some issues among the students at East.

It's a scenario that plays out in just about every city and town the President visits: supporters versus protesters. Grand Rapids is no different. Both sides are planning to make their voices heard.

East Grand Rapids student Tim Vanderploeg is making sure he looks his best for the big day Friday. The high school senior was one of 44 lucky students picked in a random drawing to attend the President's speech.

Thursday, Vanderploeg, a staunch Bush supporter, said the excitement was almost overwhelming. "It's going to be hard to sleep knowing I'm going to see the leader of the free world tomorrow."

But not all students share his enthusiasm or support for the President. "There's been a little bit of tension," he admitted.

Katie Lorenz is also a senior at East. "The school right now is very tense, everyone is on edge," she said. "People are arguing in the hallways."

She and a group of students plan to join one of several protests at nearby John Collins Park. "We're planning to march as far as we can to the high school."

Lorenz is willing to leave school to take a stand for her cause. "It doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat, all we want is peace."

Former CIA advisor turned activist Ray McGovern will be part of what's anticipated to be the largest protest at the park. "We all feel a moral obligation to speak out," said McGovern.

Local Republicans anticipated a reaction to Bush's visit. "We respect their right to protest," said Kent County Republican Committee member Sam Moore.

The Committee said they will not hold a counter-demonstration-they believe the power of the presidency will speak for itself.

"I would anticipate he's going to renew his call that he will veto any legislation that sets a time table for withdrawal in Iraq," said Moore. "He wants the commanders on the ground to decide that, and that's the way it should be."

The note administrators sent home with students mentions conduct of the students as well. "We trust that the students of East Grand Rapids will conduct themselves in a manner that is responsible and respectful."

24 Hour News 8 will have more details about the President's visit Friday.