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, June 19, 2008

Democratic-led Congress to vote on war funding, unemployment benefits extension

Pick up any newspaper in the United States today, and this is the story you will see with this headline blaring out at you:

Democratic-led Congress to vote on war funding, unemployment benefits extension

Link: http://www.startribune.com/politics/national/congress/20496409.html?page=1&c=y

Democratic-led Congress to vote on war funding, unemployment benefits extension

By ANDREW TAYLOR , Associated Press

Last update: June 19, 2008 - 5:24 AM

WASHINGTON - The Democratic-led Congress finally appears ready to give President Bush his request for $162 billion in long-overdue funds for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A deal worked out Wednesday between House Democrats and Republicans and the White House, if it passes as expected, would put to rest Bush's long-standing battles with the Democrats over war funding. At the same time, Democrats would win help for the unemployed and a remarkably generous increase in GI Bill education benefits for military service members.

The House was to vote on the compromise Thursday. (Note: This is TODAY… Alan Maki)

Progressives have some serious questioning to do here.

When I first learned of this being in the works a couple weeks ago, I called the offices of every single congressperson and the two senators from Minnesota asking to be kept informed as this legislation was progressing. I never received a single follow-up phone call, nor even an e-mail.

Obviously, elected public officials did not want citizen participation or input from working people and the unemployed concerning this legislation.

Now I take my morning walk with Fred, pick up a newspaper and read this headline…

Democratic-led Congress to vote on war funding, unemployment benefits extension.

Is this the way we want to see the working class “united for change?” In return for supporting funding this dirty war in Iraq, working people will get an extension of unemployment benefits. This does not sound like the kind of “unity for change” progressives would be seeking; of course, it isn’t. But, this is an example of what Barack Obama has in mind. This is a very clear and perfect example of the reactionary, ultra-right, neo-liberal agenda Obama supports.

Obviously, Democrats hope to buy the votes of working people and the unemployed with this disgraceful “package.”

This is the kind of bi-partisan “unity” we can look forward to from an Obama presidency.

Again, working people were intentionally kept out of the decision-making loop on this; by both the Democratic Party politicians and labor "leaders."

The AFL-CIO and Change to Win labor federations are shamefully supporting this “compromise” that will pump hundreds of millions of dollars more--- billions of our hard earned dollars--- into the death and destruction taking place in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is an outright disgrace, insult and slap in the face to every worker in this country, the overwhelming majority of whom were, have been and are opposed to these dirty wars.

Military spending destroys jobs. More unemployment results from military spending in spite of George Bush’s claim that “military spending creates a few jobs;” another big lie from Bush, just like the lies that he used to start this dirty war in Iraq.
Legislation for unemployment compensation should have been stand-alone legislation; certainly not tied to military spending… a package including for educational benefits for veterans would have been appropriate and this alone would have been enough to create “bi partisan unity.” There would not have been a single Democrat or Republican who would have dared vote against such legislation with a hotly contested approaching election.

Obama has called for “Unite for Change” meetings, discussions and forums to be held all over this country on Saturday, June 28.

These “Unite for Change” meetings should be turned into the beginning of grassroots educational and organizing efforts that will unite the working class in boldly challenging the neo-liberal agenda of increased military spending to support the carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan and insist that the priorities of this country be reordered away from war and military spending to meet human needs, first and foremost--- no-fee, comprehensive, all-inclusive single-payer universal health care which is publicly funded and publicly administered.

The way to unite the working class is to bring forward a bold progressive agenda that drops funding for military spending, coupled with legislation for a minimum wage that is a real living wage which would tie Unemployment Compensation and Social Security to the same cost of living factors. In this way, we defend the “New Deal” reforms of the past by winning a “new” New Deal for today.

For anyone to suggest that we should give up our vote to support these kinds of worthless, sleazeball politicians who would be so unconscionable to attach the needs of working people for survival to funding an illegal, immoral war based upon lies and deceit is all the justification needed for working people to sit home on Election Day as far as I am concerned.

In fact, on the eve of an Election, working people could have gotten this very same package from a Republican controlled House, Senate and Presidency… so, why do we need Obama and the Democrats?

This shameful scenario seeing Democrats cower to the merchants of death and destruction and the military-financial-industrial complex of which they are an integral part, once again brings forward the need for working people to take up the question of re-establishing a labor party in this country along the lines of the old Farmer-Labor Party which served Minnesotans so well for a decade.

In my opinion, supporting and voting for Cynthia McKinney in this Election can help us work our way towards such independence from the Democratic and Republican Parties.

Perhaps what is most interesting is that neither Obama's nor McCain's comments were even sought for this article concerning this dirty deal that is every bit as dirty as this imperialist war for oil itself.

With the capitalist economy already on the skids to oblivion... this huge increase in military spending now being appropriated by the Democratic controlled Congress will speed up this process leaving untold human misery in its wake... unemployment will soar out of sight as industrial plants from small operations like Northern Engraving Corporation in Waukon, Iowa to the the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant close their doors, and the wrecking balls are brought in.

The time has come for working people to become full participants in the decision making process.

Corporate executives at the Northern Engraving Corporation tried to with hold the news of their decision to close the Waukon, Iowa plant which will cause economic hardship to hundreds of people in this small community without their participation in the decision-making process just like the huge Ford Motor Company did in the Twin Cities... in return, working people are supposed to jump for joy that their unemployment benefits are extended for a few more weeks as the bottomless pit of the merchants of death and destruction continues to be fed.

Working people can not survive under capitalism.

Cynthia McKinney is the only politician who has taken the time to meet with workers at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant to ask how she can help them...

Barack Obama came to the Twin Cities, addressed over 30,000 people, and he had the unmitigated gall, audacity and arrogance to ignore the plight of the two-thousand workers who will lose their jobs if the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant is allowed to close according to the decisions made behind the closed doors of Ford Motor Company's corporate boardroom in Detroit without any input from workers or the community.

Something to think about, and discuss, around the dinner table this evening.