Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

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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...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

President Buffenbarger Rips into Obama

International Association of Machinist President Tom Buffenbarger ripped into Barack Obama; it's about time someone did this.

Buffenbarger is now being attacked for his remarks; however, those attacking Buffenbarger are not telling the truth about what he said, or why he attacked Obama--- a very justified and long-overdue attack in my opinion.

Buffenbarger's very scathing attack on Barack Obama is much more than support for Hillary Clinton. It is the reason for this attack which discussion of Buffenbarger's remarks should focus on: defense of the rights of working people, the right to a job, plant closures; and something not too often discussed: this moribund capitalist system that has reached its most cannibalistic, decadent and deadly imperialist stage; held in place by state-monopoly capitalism which has spun a web of corruption creating the most undemocratic, racist, anti-labor political and governmental structures in history; make no mistake, there has never been a government more arrogant and corrupt than that which we have in the United States of America today, and it is quickly headed into becoming the most repressive.

For quite some time the United States has been propping up some of the worst and most brutal fascist dictatorships around the globe in protecting the multi-national corporations in their quest for ever greater profits; profits derived from stealing resources through the brutal exploitation of human labor--- and, now, this quest for super-profits has extended to driving human labor in these other countries at a deadly pace in the industrial manufacturing process--- subsidized by the American tax-payer along with the enormous profits which have been squeezed from, and accumulated through, the exploitation of American workers.

For some reason Tom Buffenbarger thinks Hillary Clinton is part of the solution; I don't know why he would think this--- I certainly disagree with him. Hillary Clinton has never been a fighter for working people--- as Buffenbarger is suggesting; although, given the choice between Obama and Clinton, I don't know why one would choose Obama... but then again, why are we in the position of having such a pathetic choice? An issue which no one seems to want to address.

With this said, Buffenbarger's remarks raise another very important question, and problem, confronting working people--- and the American people in general, which I have alluded to above that I would like to discuss after you listen to Buffenbarger's remarks; or, at least read the digested version of his remarks... links to both follow.

I am providing the reader the opportunity to watch and listen to Buffenbarger's speech for yourself so we can discuss what I see as a much larger problem and the trap Buffenbarger has stepped into.

This is the link to Buffenbarger's actual speech--- it is well worthwhile to watch and listen to this entire video:

VIDEO: Clinton supporter Tom Buffenbarger attacks Sen. Barack Obama during a campaign event in Youngstown, Ohio.

Note: You might have to copy and paste this link in the address bar of your browser to get it to work.

Here is the highlight of Buffenbarger's speech from the IAM website:



President Buffenbarger Rips into Obama

Before a raucous crowd of Hillary Clinton supporters in Youngstown, OH Tuesday night, IAM President Tom Buffenbarger ripped into Senator Barack Obama, taking aim at Obama’s lackluster record as a state Senator and his unwillingness to fight for working families.

“He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois state senate. Took a walk more than 130 times! That’s what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves, all the right combinations, all the right footwork --- but never steps into the ring. He walks away from the fight,” said Buffenbarger.

Buffenbarger also spoke at length about Obama’s trip to Galesburg, IL in 2004, in which Obama spoke to Machinists at Maytag who were fighting to keep their factory open. The Maytag plant would eventually close and Obama did little as more than 1,600 Machinists saw their jobs shipped to Mexico. In fact, before speaking to IAM members, he accepted more than $120,000 in campaign contributions from the Crown family, including Maytag’s single largest stockholder, Lester Crown.

“Barack so loved his own performance that he made Galesburg part of his presidential stump speech,” said Buffenbarger. “All he proved is that like Janus, the two-faced Roman god, he could ACT like a friend of the working man as he DANCED to the tune dictated by billionaires.”

The criticism of Obama comes as Machinists and working families throughout the country find their livelihoods at stake heading into the 2008 presidential election, struggling to deal with a rapidly spreading mortgage crisis, skyrocketing unemployment, hefty retirement costs and the continued loss of jobs.

“Hillary Clinton is a fighter. She’s our kind of fighter. All her life she’s fought our battles. For our jobs, for our health care, for our kids and for our country,” said Buffenbarger. “The Republican attack machine has taken its best shot at her time and time again and she’s still standing – and she’s still fighting for us.”

Lester Crown (left) and buddy Shimon Peres (center):

Lester Crown is worth over FOUR BILLION DOLLARS making him one of the wealthiest men in the world and he needed to close a plant and ship almost two-thousand jobs to Mexico because he is so greedy he wants more, more, more.

So, Buffenbarger's remarks do not center on Barack Obama for his "speaking style;" but, because Barack Obama betrayed the workers Buffenbarger is paid to represent. And, I for one, think Buffenbarger did one heck of a job stating why he has no use for Obama.

The issues involved:

1. Workers were struggling to defend their livelihoods;

2. The huge Maytag Corporation was moving the jobs of these workers to Mexico;

3. Barack Obama sold these workers out in order to get campaign funding from Lester Crown and his family--- one of the wealthiest, most reactionary and viciously anti-labor families in America, who are major stockholders in the Maytag Corporation;

4. The Crown family made billions when Maytag shipped the jobs of 1,500 workers to Mexico.

For the Crown Family and the Maytag Corporation shipping jobs across borders and overseas is no different than sticking washing machines or a dryers in cardboard cartons and shipping them around the world. Jobs are shipped off to the lowest wage areas in the world in the same uncaring and a callous manner; the washers and dryers manufactured as cheaply as possible are shipped off to where they can be sold for the highest prices; manufacturing takes place where resources and labor are the cheapest... today with computer technology, entire manufacturing operations can be shipped almost as quickly as the cost/analysis can be performed by the "whiz kids"--- this is simple to understand, it is what "free enterprise," "the market system," "free markets" are all about; call it what you will; it is capitalism, plain and simple, in its highest and most advanced stage: imperialism.

State-monopoly capitalism is the structure which enables all this to take place smoothly as the Wall Street coupon clippers stuff their pockets while the capitalist sooth-sayers "explain," and "justify," it all.

Of course, we must never mention that there is an alternative to all of this.

A former head of the IAM, William Winpisinger, who once occupied Tom Buffenbarger's position as the President of the IAM, brought forward this alternative--- Winpisinger called the alternative socialism.

And this is where we, working people--- like Buffenbarger, have stuck ourselves in a trap--- we don't have socialist candidates who are alternatives to the Obamas and the Clintons.

In just about every country in the world, working people have strong socialist and communist parties which they rely upon to take their fight with the bosses into the political arena to try to make government serve the interests of the working class, rather than, the interests of the wealthy few.

A few examples...

Canadian workers have the socialist New Democratic Party (NDP), which has held the dominant power in the Provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan for much of the last sixty years through which the powerful Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliated unions carry forward their political activity; in South Africa, the South African Communist Party is part of a powerful coalition influencing the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the African National Congress... this powerful alliance was able to break the back of racist apartheid system which was put in place to brutally control and exploit labor; this powerful alliance with workers at the helm now governs South Africa. Just days ago, the working people of Cyprus came to power through their Party, AKEL--- the Communist Party of Cyprus.

As the Director of Organizing for the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council, I can appreciate Buffenbarger ripping into Obama the way he has done, and justifiably so. On the other hand, I find his support for Hillary Clinton to be less than appropriate since the casino workers I represent, over 200,000 casino workers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa are working in loud, noisy, smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state, federal or tribal laws protecting all other workers. In fact, some two-million American workers are going to work under these very same Draconian conditions at some four-hundred such casinos in the Indian Gaming Industry spread out across the United States... and Hillary Clinton is supported by the notorious mobster and front man for the Kansas City mob, which is known for its casino skimming operations, Mr. Frank Fertitta and his "boys."

Melanie Benjamin, who oversees the huge Grand Casino empire, is one of the most vicious anti-labor reactionaries in Minnesota, and is one of Hillary Clinton's primary backers.

The lawfirm of Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck, which is also one of the most important lobbying firms and peddler of the most reactionary, most racist, most environmentally destructive, most anti-labor agenda on behalf of a bunch of mobsters who now occupy many of the corporate boardrooms in America in addition to overseeing this huge, huge casino/hotel/restaurant/resort/theme park empire controls many union pension funds including the grand-daddy of them all, the teachers' union pension fund.

So, I am wondering, why I, and casino workers, should not feel as insulted towards Clinton, as Buffenbarger is towards Obama? As a worker, as a union organizer, I am offended that anyone would support Obama after the way Buffenbarger articulated his union's grievances with Obama because an injury to one is an injury to all; and, as casino workers, we can identify with the corporate assault on Maytag workers. Why any union would be supporting Obama after Buffenbarger's very justifiably emotional attack on Obama needs to be explained by those who continue their support for Obama.

On the other hand, I would like to hear from Tom Buffenbarger why he would support Hillary Clinton knowing what is taking place under the terms of these "Compacts," which have created some four-hundred "right-to-work colonies" where American workers are forced to endure such Draconian conditions?

I think I have asked Tom Buffenbarger and the rest of the American labor movement which is squabbling over the backing of Obama or Clinton a very legitimate question: Why would any union back either candidate when organized labor could be running a fighter from among its own ranks? Perhaps Tom Buffenbarger?

How much longer will U.S. unions continue to step into the same trap before learning the lesson that labor needs its own political party?

More than just a "political party;" labor needs a party putting forward the socialist solution to this corrupt, exploiting capitalist system.

The time has come to create a working class political party that puts the needs of working people before corporate profits--- this is the solution... not Hillary Clinton; for sure not Barack Obama.

I wouldn't walk across the street to vote for Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.

Something to talk about around the kitchen table.

I hope if Tom Buffenbarger reads this he will give some thought as to why two-million casino workers and the Draconian conditions they are forced to endure are being ignored by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton because I think he will find a clue as to why those IAM jobs have been shipped south of the border to Mexico... perhaps some of those workers who had been employed in Galesburg, Illinois at Maytag are now working someplace in a loud, noisy, smoke-filled casino without any rights--- much like workers in the maquiladoras in Mexico--- although these sweatshop workers, have a few "rights;" casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry in the United States have no rights... how would you like to have a mobster like Frank Fertitta for your boss?

At least the Maytag repairman appears to be thinking, since, as we know from the advertisements, he has nothing better to do.