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...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008



By Robert Borosage

Campaign for America’s Future STAFF

September 30th, 2008 - 10:27am ET


September 30, 2008

On September 29, Congress revolted against the $700 billion price tag of the proposed bailout of Wall Street. The day before, that same Congress passed without murmur—unanimously in the Senate—a $700 billion budget for the Pentagon in 2009. The worst financial crisis since the Great Depression has shattered the conservative illusions about deregulation and market fundamentalism. But the equally costly illusions about America’s role as an “indispensable nation” policing the globe go without challenge. We remain prisoners of war.

Most Americans have no sense of the cost and scope of America’s role as globocop. We sustain what Chalmers Johnson calls an “empire of bases” across the globe – over 700 active bases in more than 30 countries. Our navy polices the world’s oceans. We task our military to maintain “dominance” not only in our own hemisphere, but in Europe, the Persian Gulf and Asia. Our intelligence “plumbing in place” engages in covert activities throughout the globe. We are the only nation with the capacity to airlift expeditionary forces rapidly and in large numbers across the globe. We are now devoting some $12 billion a month to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

President Bush has declared a “Global War on Terror,” a so-called “long war,” without limits or exits. Our Defense Secretary complains that the military is displacing the desiccated State Department as America’s representatives across the world.

The cost of sustaining this commitment is staggering. The Pentagon’s budget itself represents more than half of all discretionary spending—everything the government does, outside of entitlements like Social Security and Medicare, and interest on the national debt. At $700 billion, it is about equal to that spent by the rest of the world combined on the military. But the actual cost of our military is strewn throughout the budget. Add in the cost of our veterans, the arms aid in the State Department budget, Homeland Security, and more—and actual spending climbs over $1 trillion a year.

Our military has no rival, but we grow ever less secure. There are three fundamental reasons for this.

As carpenters know, if you only carry a hammer, lots of things start looking like a nail. Maintain a global military constantly engaged across the world, and it will find things to do. As one conservative Southern Senator once said, “the greater ability we have to go places and do things, the more likely we are to go there and do them.” Neo-conservatives dream of the military remaking the Middle East. Humanitarians demand that it act to stop genocide or atrocities from Rwanda to Darfur. Global corporations insist that it challenge pirates and rogue states that are posing an increasing nuisance to shipping.

Thus, the fanatics that launched the airplanes against the World Trade Towers are turned into warriors; the very real threat they pose transformed into a Global War on Terror. This not only helps justify the “war of choice” against Iraq, surely the most costly national security debacle since Vietnam. It also distracts us from a sensible strategy against al Qaeda and its allies. As http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/2007/RAND_OP168.pdf “>the Pentagon’s own think tank, the Rand Corporation concluded in a recent study, the very concept of a “war on terror” isn’t only a distraction; it is detraction from a sensible strategy. By elevating al Qaeda into global warriors, it inflates their importance, and aids their ability to recruit. At the same time, it scorns the real measures needed to counter al Qaeda—intelligence cooperation, financial constraints, and alert and aggressive policing. Worse, it undermines the broad challenge that must be made to engage Islam, to rally the forces of moderation, and to isolate the extremists.

The second problem is the obverse: things that don’t look like nails get ignored. America’s priorities are badly distorted. Abroad, as Defense Secretary Gates acknowledged, generals and admirals displace our diplomats. Arms sales dominate our foreign assistance programs. At home, our country is literally falling apart from lack of investment in a modern, energy efficient infrastructure. We spend tens of billions each year to project our military power into the Persian Gulf, but fail to invest in the renewable energy and conservation at home that could reduce our dependence on foreign oil, generate jobs here in the U.S., and help capture the green markets that will be the growth markets of the future. We are a wealthy country, so in fact, we probably could afford to sustain military spending at current levels. But we can’t do so, and slash taxes on the wealthy and the corporations, without starving basic investments here at home, even as we rack up record deficits.

Worse, the military has no answer to the major threats to our security: a growing global indebtedness that can’t be sustained, the rise of India and China as economic powerhouses, catastrophic climate change and the growing resource struggles that will be far more destabilizing than Islamic terrorists, an integrated global economy of ever greater instability. Worse, the attention devoted to military misadventures like Iraq gets in the way of addressing these looming threats.

The third problem is the contrast between the Republic we are trying to secure and the national security state that has been built to police the globe. War augments the power of the executive. War and military threat justify secrecy, covert operations, disdain for constitutional limits and checks and balances. President Bush claims the right to launch preventive war on any nation in the world, to wiretap Americans without warrant, to designate them an enemy combatant and arrest them without reasonable cause, to hold them without review. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, rendition and torture have shamed America during the Bush years. But the lawlessness of the national security state – and the trampling of our own liberties in the name of security – did not begin in 2000. Bush has merely taken to the extreme prerogatives claimed by presidents over the last decades.

But the myths that sustain our military—and the lobbies that promote military spending—are politically unassailable. Both major party presidential candidates pledge to increase the size of the military and project higher military spending in the future. Both support an increased military occupation in Afghanistan, ignoring the history of fierce Afghani resistance to foreign occupation that confounded Britain at the height of its empire, and the Soviet Union right off its borders. The financial crisis and coming recession is forcing a great reckoning in America. But to date, there is no serious challenge to our priorities, or to America’s commitment to policing the globe. The presidential debate on foreign policy featured disputes about Iraq, about Georgia, about Afghanistan, about the economic crisis. But our basic global strategy, our spending priorities went without question or comment.

Economic crisis, like hanging, has a way of concentrating the mind. The financial crisis and the harsh recession likely to follow will spark a fundamental debate about America’s economy. But the debacle in Iraq has not had the same effect on the foreign policy debate. A challenge to America’s global strategy will not come from Washington. It won’t come from the national security managers of either party. It can only come if citizens build a democratic movement willing and able to demand the debate that we need.

Join the discussion below

Militarism and the economy

By Alan Maki | September 30th, 2008 - 2:54pm GMT

The presidential "race" is a one-sided fiasco... Barack Obama is the "chosen one" by the military-financial-industrial complex of Wall Street coupon clippers.

Obama has of late been showing his true allegiances to Wall Street--- even disregarding the fact that Warren Buffett and Goldman-Sachs are his best "bundlers"--- Obama simultaneously calls for increasing military expenditures and "belt-tightening." Obama has done all but call for reinstatement of the draft which won't endear him to his young constituency who will be marching off to war rather than going to college.

You talk about a recession. Capitalism is going to fall, and this baby is going to fall hard. It is going to come crashing down in the worst economic depression in human history... the writing is clearly on the wall.

You seem eager to offer advice on saving this rotten system which has brought humanity so much misery.

Rather than worrying about saving this system we should only be worried about bringing about the needed reforms to help working people sustain and main their livelihoods and the best standard of living as capitalism leaves the stage.

There is no way to have "guns and butter" as they say.

You and John Sweeney along with other progressives signed a statement concerning this crisis... now, what resources are you going to make available for working people to launch the necessary struggles where they work and in the communities where they live to fight for the reforms you outline?

John Sweeney has stated on numerous occasions his intent is to save capitalism... it makes little sense to try to save a system in which these kinds of economic crisis are an inherent and inseparable part of the system where these kinds of problems, and worse, are only going to be replicated time and time again.

Our message to the Wall Street coupon clippers should be: Take care of your own mess, it is your system not ours; you and the generals should go hold baked-good sales to finance the solution to problems of your own making.

The centers of finance want to use socialism to bail them out of their problems; well, what is good for the goose, is good for the gander. As long as it is now widely recognized that socialism is the only solution to problems, it is time to demand socialized health care as an immediate reform--- this will be good for the health of all people and it will free up trillions of dollars to begin building a people centered green, peaceful, cooperative socialist economy as an alternative to this profit driven, dog-eat-dog, war and poverty economy of capitalism.

I would suggest that you add socialism to your otherwise very good list of needed reforms which will help working people through this mess.

With socialized heath care together with your call for moratoriums on foreclosures/evictions and restructuring the mortgages, this will free up enormous resources and funds for all the social programs we need.

I like your idea about insisting on tax-payers getting equity in any bailout too--- what tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own. Getting equity and ownership in industries and mines, mills and factories should be seen as part of the process of socialization which needs to take place... this is a good place to start.

People can get along just fine without Wall Street.

My question remains, what resources is the Campaign for America's Future, the AFL-CIO, Change To Win and these other organizations willing to make availbable to create the kind of organized rank and file/grassroots upsurge that it will take to win these kinds of reforms? Certainly your organizations should be able to pony up at least as much as is being pumped into supporting Barack Obama... let Warren Buffett and Goldman Sachs take care of funding their own candidate... we need to prepare to do battle with the Obama Administration.

If I were you, I would put a lot more emphasis on ending these dirty oil wars and the need to cut military spending while transferring this wealth towards social programs.
Pumping all this money into war and militarism is like taking money from your billfold and tossing it into the ocean. Those bankers, financiers and Wall Street coupon clippers who reaped massive profits from militarism are the same ones who now cry to tax-payers for help; they ironically created a big part of their own mess largely because they fed like pigs at the trough of militarization.

You might want to consider forgiveness of all student loans, too... this would have the effect of getting billions of dollars back into the economy. Maybe suggest that these student loans be paid back at fifty-cents on the dollar without interest into some kind of "green economic development fund."

Here is what you called for. These aren't the kind of demands a group of thirty-five people just sign their names to and mail to Congress expecting a bunch of millionaires working for billionaires to implement; these are fighting words requiring a real struggle if you are serious about winning such reforms:

We urge the Congress to insist on some basic conditions
for any bailout.

1. Public Oversight. This kind of power can never be
centralized in a single individual - much less one who
did not even stand for election. Any funds must be
controlled by an independent entity, with consumers and
workers given seats on its board. Congress should be
empowered to name independent monitors and to approve
all board members.

2. Protect the Taxpayer. The Treasury bill would have
taxpayers buying paper that nobody else wants at prices
far above its current value. If a firm wants to auction
off its toxic paper to the US Government, taxpayers
should get equity in that firm equal to any amount paid
in excess of the paper's value. This will deter
profitable firms from using the government as a dumpster
for their toxic paper. And it will insure that if the
bailout works and the firms become profitable,
taxpayers, not simply bankers, benefit from the upside.

3. Curb the casino. This crisis was caused because
sensible regulations of the banking system that worked
for dozens of years were dismantled or went unenforced.
No bailout can go forward without requiring the
necessary regulation to insure this does not happen
again. Any institution, which receives assistance,
should agree to come under a microscope going forward in
terms of disclosure requirements, and it should have
stringent capital requirement imposed upon it.

4. Invest in the real economy. Ending the bankers strike
is not sufficient enough to avoid the recession into
which we have been driven. Major public investment in
new energy and conservation, rebuilding schools and
infrastructure, extending unemployment and food stamps,
helping states avoid crippling cuts in police and health
services - is vital to get the real economy moving and
put people back to work. No bailout should proceed
without being linked to support for a major public
investment plan to get the economy going.

5. Hold CEOs and Boards of Directors Accountable. Wall
Street CEOs shouldn't be pocketing millions while
taxpayers are forced to bail them out. Any firm that
applies for relief must agree to cancel all stock option
programs and CEOs should have stringent limits placed on
their compensation until the Company has repaid all
taxpayer assistance.

6. Aid the victims, not just the predators. Both bankers
and home owners made foolish bets that home prices would
keep rising. Many homeowners, however, were misled by
predatory lenders into taking mortgages that they didn't
understand and couldn't afford. It would be simply
obscene to help the predators and not those that they
preyed upon. No bail out of the banks should take place
without measures to help people in trouble stay in their
homes. Explicit provisions should ensure use of the full
array of financial and legal tools available to the
government to stop foreclosures and restructure home
mortgage loans for ordinary Americans, including
amending the bankruptcy code to allow judges to modify
mortgages. Where workouts are not feasible, people
should be allowed to stay in their homes as renters.

 Robert Borosage, co-director, Campaign for America's

 John Sweeney, president, AFL-CIO

 Andy Stern, president, Service Employees
International Union (SEIU)

 Gerald McEntee, president, Am. Fed. of State, County
and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)

 Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of
Teachers (AFT)

 Larry Cohen, president, Communications Workers of
America (CWA)

 Dennis Van Roekel, president, National Education
Association (NEA)

 Leo Gerard, president, United Steelworkers (USW)

 Maude Hurd, national president, ACORN

 Nan Aron, president, Alliance for Justice

 Amy Issacs, national director, Americans for
Democratic Action

 Kevin Zeese, executive director, Campaign for Fresh
Air & Clean Politics

 John Podesta, president, Center for American Progress
Action Fund

 Deepak Bhargava, president, Center for Community

 Deborah Weinstein, executive director, Coalition for
Human Needs

 Donald Mathis, president, Community Action

 Jane Hamsher, firedoglake.com

 James D. Weill, president, Food Research & Action
Center (FRAC)

 Brent Blackwelder, president, Friends of the Earth

 John Cavanagh, director, Institute for Policy Studies

 Sarita Gupta, executive director, Jobs with Justice

 Wade Henderson, president, Leadership Conference on
Civil Rights

 Carissa Picard, esq., president, Military Spouses for

 Sally Greenberg, executive director, National
Consumers League

 Christine L. Owens, executive director, National
Employment Law Project

 Gary Bass, executive director, OMB Watch

 Adam Lioz, program director, Progressive Future

 Joanne Carter, executive director, RESULTS

 William McNary, president, USAction

 Paula Brantner, executive director, Workplace

 Dan Cantor, executive director, Working Families

 Mark Lotwis, executive director, 21st Century

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council


Phone: 218-386-2432

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

P.S.--- I have written my Blue Dog Congressman Collin Petersen and my Senator, Amy "Republican Lite" Klobuchar telling them I have added my name to this impressive list of endorsers along with the demand for socialized health care and raising the minimum wage to a real living wage and raising Social Security payments because the more wealth we can pry away from the bankers and Wall Street coupon clippers and put into the pockets of working people who will spend, spend, spend, the better things will be all the way around... the quicker this can be done the better; plus the less money Democrats will have to spend trying to fix this mess :)

Alan L. Maki
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


Sunday, September 28, 2008

For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling

But, what about Barack Obama's ties to the same Indian Gaming Industry?

This is my response to the New York Times (the New York Times article is published below my letter):

Mr. Becker, Writer--- New York Times,

Hopefully you will follow through on Barack Obama's support from the Indian Gaming Industry just as you have with John McCain.

I find it very strange that neither you, nor your newspaper--- the New York Times--- has exposed the deplorable conditions under which casino workers are forced into while receiving poverty wages:

* smoke-filled casinos;

* no rights under state or federal labor laws; no respect for even flimsy international labor laws or standards.

All of this takes place with the full and shameful complicity from both the Democrats and Republicans.

Right now in the State of Michigan, the "labor-backed" Democratic Governor and the "labor-backed" Democratic House majority have approved one more Compact, this time with the Gun Lake Tribe which, again, completely ignores the plight and injustices of casino workers.

The New York Times has perverted the issue of "sovereignty" as an excuse for tolerating these injustices.

Please, tell me if you know, of any other sovereign nation on the face of this earth where it is acceptable for working people to be employed without any rights under such draconian conditions.

I would suggest that you take a good hard look at the role of Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck... the law firm/lobbyists of choice for most of the Indian Gaming Industry which represents that sleazy creep Frank Fertitta (Station Casinos/Colony Enterprises) and his "family."

You pick on poor old John McCain who has just been tossed into this Presidential race as a wringer like a boxer paid to take a dive.

Here in Minnesota, the State Legislature approved no-smoking, "freedom to breath" legislation for all public places and places of employment... except for the Indian Gaming Industry which employs some thirty-thousand workers in the State. Michigan is considering similar legislation; again, leaving out casino workers. Yet, in Manitoba and Ontario the governments have been able to coerce the Indian Gaming Industry to make their casinos smoke-free. The same could be done at the 400 plus casinos you reference. Here we have an industry employing so many young women of child bearing age, and many senior citizens trying to make ends meet because they can't survive on their miserly Social Security checks--- two very vulnerable segments of our population which the American Cancer Society and the Heart and Lung Foundation have warned specifically of the high health care risks associated with second-hand smoke, and the New York Times ignores this.

The UAW spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to organize dealers at Foxwoods, and management thumbs its nose at the majority of workers voting in favor of union representation... even the UAW and other unions are so closely tied to the casino industry which bankrolls their Democratic Party politicians they fear challenging these Compacts.

Why don't you interview Nadine Nosal, the UAW's lead lobbyist in Lansing, Michigan and find out why the UAW refuses to pressure Jennifer Granholm to withdraw support from the Gun Lake Casino Compact.

Better yet, why not ask Barack Obama, "the chosen one," what this great advocate for organized labor intends to do to right these wrongs and injustices casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry are being subjected to?

Obviously, the New York Times is out to paint a picture of John McCain to be the moron and Neanderthal he really is... as far as casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry are concerned, Barack Obama is no better.

Some two-million workers are employed in the Indian Casino Industry, and you, and your newspaper--- the New York Times--- have ignored our plight and you boast of the great "free press;" how pathetic and shameful your many double standards are.

Alan L. Maki,
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

phone: 218-386-2432


For McCain and Team, a Host of Ties to Gambling


Published: September 27, 2008


Senator John McCain was on a roll. In a room reserved for high-stakes gamblers at the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, he tossed $100 chips around a hot craps table. When the marathon session ended around 2:30 a.m., the Arizona senator and his entourage emerged with thousands of dollars in winnings.

Mr. McCain supported tax breaks for casinos over the years, including one that helped Foxwoods in Connecticut. He has also gambled there.
A lifelong gambler, Mr. McCain takes risks, both on and off the craps table. He was throwing dice that night not long after his failed 2000 presidential bid, in which he was skewered by the Republican Party’s evangelical base, opponents of gambling. Mr. McCain was betting at a casino he oversaw as a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and he was doing so with the lobbyist who represents that casino, according to three associates of Mr. McCain.

The visit had been arranged by the lobbyist, Scott Reed, who works for the Mashantucket Pequot, a tribe that has contributed heavily to Mr. McCain’s campaigns and built Foxwoods into the world’s second-largest casino. Joining them was Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s current campaign manager. Their night of good fortune epitomized not just Mr. McCain’s affection for gambling, but also the close relationship he has built with the gambling industry and its lobbyists during his 25-year career in Congress.

As a two-time chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain has done more than any other member of Congress to shape the laws governing America’s casinos, helping to transform the once-sleepy Indian gambling business into a $26-billion-a-year behemoth with 423 casinos across the country. He has won praise as a champion of economic development and self-governance on reservations.

“One of the founding fathers of Indian gaming” is what Steven Light, a University of North Dakota professor and a leading Indian gambling expert, called Mr. McCain.

As factions of the ferociously competitive gambling industry have vied for an edge, they have found it advantageous to cultivate a relationship with Mr. McCain or hire someone who has one, according to an examination based on more than 70 interviews and thousands of pages of documents.

Mr. McCain portrays himself as a Washington maverick unswayed by special interests, referring recently to lobbyists as “birds of prey.” Yet in his current campaign, more than 40 fund-raisers and top advisers have lobbied or worked for an array of gambling interests — including tribal and Las Vegas casinos, lottery companies and online poker purveyors.

When rules being considered by Congress threatened a California tribe’s planned casino in 2005, Mr. McCain helped spare the tribe. Its lobbyist, who had no prior experience in the gambling industry, had a nearly 20-year friendship with Mr. McCain.

In Connecticut that year, when a tribe was looking to open the state’s third casino, staff members on the Indian Affairs Committee provided guidance to lobbyists representing those fighting the casino, e-mail messages and interviews show. The proposed casino, which would have cut into the Pequots’ market share, was opposed by Mr. McCain’s colleagues in Connecticut.

Mr. McCain declined to be interviewed. In written answers to questions, his campaign staff said he was “justifiably proud” of his record on regulating Indian gambling. “Senator McCain has taken positions on policy issues because he believed they are in the public interest,” the campaign said.

Mr. McCain’s spokesman, Tucker Bounds, would not discuss the senator’s night of gambling at Foxwoods, saying: “Your paper has repeatedly attempted to insinuate impropriety on the part of Senator McCain where none exists — and it reveals that your publication is desperately willing to gamble away what little credibility it still has.”

Over his career, Mr. McCain has taken on special interests, like big tobacco, and angered the capital’s powerbrokers by promoting campaign finance reform and pushing to limit gifts that lobbyists can shower on lawmakers. On occasion, he has crossed the gambling industry on issues like regulating slot machines.

Perhaps no episode burnished Mr. McCain’s image as a reformer more than his stewardship three years ago of the Congressional investigation into Jack Abramoff, the disgraced Republican Indian gambling lobbyist who became a national symbol of the pay-to-play culture in Washington. The senator’s leadership during the scandal set the stage for the most sweeping overhaul of lobbying laws since Watergate.

“I’ve fought lobbyists who stole from Indian tribes,” the senator said in his speech accepting the Republican presidential nomination this month.

But interviews and records show that lobbyists and political operatives in Mr. McCain’s inner circle played a behind-the-scenes role in bringing Mr. Abramoff’s misdeeds to Mr. McCain’s attention — and then cashed in on the resulting investigation. The senator’s longtime chief political strategist, for example, was paid $100,000 over four months as a consultant to one tribe caught up in the inquiry, records show.

Mr. McCain’s campaign said the senator acted solely to protect American Indians, even though the inquiry posed “grave risk to his political interests.”

As public opposition to tribal casinos has grown in recent years, Mr. McCain has distanced himself from Indian gambling, Congressional and American Indian officials said.

But he has rarely wavered in his loyalty to Las Vegas, where he counts casino executives among his close friends and most prolific fund-raisers. “Beyond just his support for gaming, Nevada supports John McCain because he’s one of us, a Westerner at heart,” said Sig Rogich, a Nevada Republican kingmaker who raised nearly $2 million for Mr. McCain at an event at his home in June.

Only six members of Congress have received more money from the gambling industry than Mr. McCain, and five hail from the casino hubs of Nevada and New Jersey, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics dating back to 1989. In the presidential race, Senator Barack Obama has also received money from the industry; Mr. McCain has raised almost twice as much.

In May 2007, as Mr. McCain’s presidential bid was floundering, he spent a weekend at the MGM Grand on the Las Vegas strip. A fund-raiser hosted by J. Terrence Lanni, the casino’s top executive and a longtime friend of the senator, raised $400,000 for his campaign. Afterward, Mr. McCain attended a boxing match and hit the craps tables.

For much of his adult life, Mr. McCain has gambled as often as once a month, friends and associates said, traveling to Las Vegas for weekend betting marathons. Former senior campaign officials said they worried about Mr. McCain’s patronage of casinos, given the power he wields over the industry. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We were always concerned about appearances,” one former official said. “If you go around saying that appearances matter, then they matter.”

The former official said he would tell Mr. McCain: “Do we really have to go to a casino? I don’t think it’s a good idea. The base doesn’t like it. It doesn’t look good. And good things don’t happen in casinos at midnight.”

“You worry too much,” Mr. McCain would respond, the official said.

A Record of Support

In one of their last conversations, Representative Morris K. Udall, Arizona’s powerful Democrat, whose devotion to American Indian causes was legendary, implored his friend Mr. McCain to carry on his legacy.

“Don’t forget the Indians,” Mr. Udall, who died in 1998, told Mr. McCain in a directive that the senator has recounted to others.

More than a decade earlier, Mr. Udall had persuaded Mr. McCain to join the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. Mr. McCain, whose home state has the third-highest Indian population, eloquently decried the “grinding poverty” that gripped many reservations.

The two men helped write the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 after the Supreme Court found that states had virtually no right to control wagering on reservations. The legislation provided a framework for the oversight and growth of Indian casinos: In 1988, Indian gambling represented less than 1 percent of the nation’s gambling revenues; today it captures more than one third.

On the Senate floor after the bill’s passage, Mr. McCain said he personally opposed Indian gambling, but when impoverished communities “are faced with only one option for economic development, and that is to set up gambling on their reservations, then I cannot disapprove.”

In 1994, Mr. McCain pushed an amendment that enabled dozens of additional tribes to win federal recognition and open casinos. And in 1998, Mr. McCain fought a Senate effort to rein in the boom.

He also voted twice in the last decade to give casinos tax breaks estimated to cost the government more than $326 million over a dozen years.

The first tax break benefited the industry in Las Vegas, one of a number of ways Mr. McCain has helped nontribal casinos. Mr. Lanni, the MGM Mirage chief executive, said that an unsuccessful bid by the senator to ban wagering on college sports in Nevada was the only time he could recall Mr. McCain opposing Las Vegas. “I can’t think of any other issue,” Mr. Lanni said.

The second tax break helped tribal casinos like Foxwoods and was pushed by Scott Reed, the Pequots’ lobbyist.

Mr. McCain had gotten to know Mr. Reed during Senator Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign, which Mr. Reed managed. Four years later, when Mr. McCain ran for president, Mr. Reed recommended he hire his close friend and protégé, Rick Davis, to manage that campaign.

During his 2000 primary race against George W. Bush, Mr. McCain promoted his record of helping Indian Country, telling reporters on a campaign swing that he had provided critical support to “the Pequot, now the proud owners of the largest casino in the world.”

But Mr. McCain’s record on Indian gambling was fast becoming a difficult issue for him in the primary. Bush supporters like Gov. John Engler of Michigan lambasted Mr. McCain for his “close ties to Indian gambling.”

A decade after Mr. McCain co-authored the Indian gambling act, the political tides had turned. Tribal casinos, which were growing at a blazing pace, had become increasingly unpopular around the country for reasons as varied as morality and traffic.

Then came the biggest lobbying scandal to shake Washington.

Behind an Inquiry

At a September 2004 hearing of the Indian Affairs Committee, Mr. McCain described Jack Abramoff as one of the most brazen in a long line of crooks to cheat American Indians. “It began with the sale of Manhattan, and has continued ever since,” he said. “What sets this tale apart, what makes it truly extraordinary, is the extent and degree of the apparent exploitation and deceit.”

Over the next two years, Mr. McCain helped uncover a breathtaking lobbying scandal — Mr. Abramoff and a partner bilked six tribes of $66 million — that showcased the senator’s willingness to risk the wrath of his own party to expose wrongdoing. But interviews and documents show that Mr. McCain and a circle of allies — lobbyists, lawyers and senior strategists — also seized on the case for its opportunities.

For McCain-connected lobbyists who were rivals of Mr. Abramoff, the scandal presented a chance to crush a competitor. For senior McCain advisers, the inquiry allowed them to collect fees from the very Indians that Mr. Abramoff had ripped off. And the investigation enabled Mr. McCain to confront political enemies who helped defeat him in his 2000 presidential run while polishing his maverick image.

The Abramoff saga started in early 2003 when members of two tribes began questioning Mr. Abramoff’s astronomical fees. Over the next year, they leaked information to local newspapers, but it took the hiring of lobbyists who were competitors of Mr. Abramoff to get the attention of Mr. McCain’s committee.

Bernie Sprague, who led the effort by one of the tribes, the Saginaw Chippewas in Michigan, hired a Democratic lobbyist who recommended that the tribe retain Scott Reed, the Republican lobbyist, to push for an investigation.

Mr. Reed had boasted to other lobbyists of his access to Mr. McCain, three close associates said. Mr. Reed “pretty much had open access to John from 2000 to at least the end of 2006,” one aide said.

Lobbyist disclosure forms show that Mr. Reed went to work for the Saginaw Chippewa on Feb. 15, 2004, charging the tribe $56,000 over a year. Mr. Abramoff had tried to steal the Pequots and another tribal client from Mr. Reed, and taking down Mr. Abramoff would eliminate a competitor.

Mr. Reed became the chief conduit to Mr. McCain’s committee for billing documents and other information Mr. Sprague was digging up on Mr. Abramoff, Mr. Sprague said, who said Mr. Reed “did a great to service to me.”

“He had contacts I did not,” Mr. Sprague said. “Initially, I think that the senator’s office was doing Reed a favor by listening to me.”

A few weeks after hiring Mr. Reed, Mr. Sprague received a letter from the senator. “We have met with Scott Reed, who was very helpful on the issue,” Mr. McCain wrote.

Information about Mr. Abramoff was also flowing to Mr. McCain’s committee from another tribe, the Coushatta of Louisiana. The source was a consultant named Roy Fletcher, who had been Mr. McCain’s deputy campaign manager in 2000, running his war room in South Carolina.

It was in that primary race that two of Mr. Abramoff’s closest associates, Grover Norquist, who runs the nonprofit Americans for Tax Reform, and Ralph Reed, the former director of the Christian Coalition, ran a blistering campaign questioning Mr. McCain’s conservative credentials. The senator and his advisers blamed that attack for Mr. McCain’s loss to Mr. Bush in South Carolina, creating tensions that would resurface in the Abramoff matter.

“I was interested in busting” Mr. Abramoff, said Mr. Fletcher, who was eventually hired to represent the tribe. “That was my job. But I was also filled with righteous indignation, I got to tell you.”

Mr. Fletcher said he began passing information to John Weaver, Mr. McCain’s chief political strategist, and other staff members in late 2003 or January 2004. Mr. Weaver confirmed the timing.

Mr. McCain announced his investigation on Feb. 26, 2004, citing an article on Mr. Abramoff in The Washington Post. He did not mention the action by lobbyists and tribes in the preceding weeks. His campaign said no one in his “innermost circle” brought information to Mr. McCain that prompted the investigation.

The senator declared he would not investigate members of Congress, whom Mr. Abramoff had lavished with tribal donations and golf outings to Scotland. But in the course of the investigation, the committee exposed Mr. Abramoff’s dealings with the two men who had helped defeat Mr. McCain in the 2000 primary.

The investigation showed that Mr. Norquist’s foundation was used by Mr. Abramoff to launder lobbying fees from tribes. Ralph Reed was found to have accepted $4 million to run bogus antigambling campaigns. And the investigation also highlighted Mr. Abramoff’s efforts to curry favor with the House majority leader at the time, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, a longtime political foe who had opposed many of Mr. McCain’s legislative priorities.

Mr. McCain’s campaign said the senator did not “single out” Ralph Reed or Mr. Norquist, neither of whom were ever charged, and that both men fell within the “scope of the investigation.” The inquiry, which led to guilty pleas by over a dozen individuals, was motivated by a desire to help aggrieved tribes, the campaign said.

Inside the investigation, the sense of schadenfreude was palpable, according to several people close to the senator. “It was like hitting pay dirt,” said one associate of Mr. McCain’s who had consulted with the senator’s office on the investigation. “And face it — McCain and Weaver were maniacal about Ralph Reed and Norquist. They were sticking little pins in dolls because those guys had cost him South Carolina.”

Down on the Coushattas reservation, bills related to the investigation kept coming. After firing Mr. Abramoff, the tribe hired Kent Hance, a lawyer and former Texas congressman who said he had been friends with Mr. McCain since the 1980s.

David Sickey, the tribe’s vice chairman, said he was “dumbfounded” over the bills submitted by Mr. Hance’s firm, Hance Scarborough, which had been hired by Mr. Sickey’s predecessors.

“The very thing we were fighting seemed to be happening all over again — these absurd amounts of money being paid,” Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance’s firm billed the tribe nearly $1.3 million over 11 months in legal and political consulting fees, records show. But Mr. Sickey said that the billing statements offered only vague explanations for services and that he could not point to any tangible results. Two consultants, for instance, were paid to fight the expansion of gambling in Texas — even though it was unlikely given that the governor there opposed any such prospect, Mr. Sickey said.

Mr. Hance and Jay B. Stewart, the firm’s managing partner, defended their team’s work, saying they successfully steered the tribe through a difficult period. “We did an outstanding job for them,” Mr. Hance said. “When we told them our bill was going to be $100,000 a month, they thought we were cheap. Mr. Abramoff had charged them $1 million a month.”

The firm’s fees covered the services of Mr. Fletcher, who served as the tribe’s spokesman. Records also show that Mr. Hance had Mr. Weaver — who was serving as Mr. McCain’s chief strategist — put on the tribe’s payroll from February to May 2005.

It is not precisely clear what role Mr. Weaver played for his $100,000 fee.

Mr. Stewart said Mr. Weaver was hired because “he had a lot of experience with the Senate, especially the new chairman, John McCain.” The Hance firm told the tribe in a letter that Mr. Weaver was hired to provide “representation for the tribe before the U.S. Senate.”

But Mr. Weaver never registered to lobby on the issue, and he has another explanation for his work.

“The Hance law firm retained me to assist them and their client in developing an aggressive crisis management and communications strategy,” Mr. Weaver said. “At no point was I asked by Kent Hance or anyone associated with him to set up meetings with anyone in or outside of government to discuss this, and if asked I would have summarily declined to do so.”

In June 2005, the tribe informed Mr. Hance that his services were no longer needed.

Change in Tone

After the Abramoff scandal, Mr. McCain stopped taking campaign donations from tribes. Some American Indians were offended, especially since Mr. McCain continued to accept money from the tribes’ lobbyists.

Resentment in Indian Country mounted as Mr. McCain, who was preparing for another White House run, singled out the growth in tribal gambling as one of three national issues that were “out of control.” (The others were federal spending and illegal immigration.)

Franklin Ducheneaux, an aide to Morris Udall who helped draft the 1988 Indian gambling law, said that position ran contrary to Mr. McCain’s record. “What did he think? That Congress intended for the tribes to be only somewhat successful?” Mr. Ducheneaux said.

Mr. McCain began taking a broad look at whether the laws were sufficient to oversee the growing industry. His campaign said that the growth had put “considerable stress” on regulators and Mr. McCain held hearings on whether the federal government needed more oversight power.

An opportunity to restrain the industry came in the spring of 2005, when a small tribe in Connecticut set off a political battle. The group, the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation, had won federal recognition in 2004 after producing voluminous documentation tracing its roots.

The tribe wanted to build Connecticut’s third casino, which would compete with Foxwoods and another, the Mohegan Sun. Facing public opposition on the proposed casino, members of the Connecticut political establishment — many of whom had received large Pequot and Mohegan campaign donations — swung into action.

Connecticut officials claimed that a genealogical review by the Bureau of Indian Affairs was flawed, and that the Schaghticoke was not a tribe.

The tribe’s opponents, led by the Washington lobbying firm Barbour Griffith & Rogers, turned to Mr. McCain’s committee. It was a full-circle moment for the senator, who had helped the Pequots gain tribal recognition in the 1980s despite concerns about their legitimacy.

Now, Mr. McCain was doing a favor for allies in the Connecticut delegation, including Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, a close friend, according to two former Congressional aides. “It was one of those collegial deals,” said one of the aides, who worked for Mr. McCain.

Barbour Griffith & Rogers wanted Mr. McCain to hold a hearing that would show that the Bureau of Indian Affairs was “broken,” said Bradley A. Blakeman, who was a lobbyist for the firm at the time.

“It was our hope that the hearing would shed light on the fact that the bureau had not followed their rules and had improperly granted recognition to the Schaghticoke,” Mr. Blakeman said. “And that the bureau would revisit the issue and follow their rules.”

Mr. McCain’s staff helped that effort by offering strategic advice.

His staff told a lobbyist for the firm that the Indian Affairs Committee “would love to receive a letter” from the Connecticut governor requesting a hearing, according to an e-mail exchange, and offered “guidance on what the most effective tone and approach” would be in the letter.

On May 11, 2005, Mr. McCain held a hearing billed as a general “oversight hearing on federal recognition of Indian tribes.” But nearly all the witnesses were Schaghticoke opponents who portrayed the tribe as imposters.

Mr. McCain set the tone: “The role that gaming and its nontribal backers have played in the recognition process has increased perceptions that it is unfair, if not corrupt.”

Chief Richard F. Velky of the Schaghticokes found himself facing off against the governor and most of the state’s congressional delegation. “The deck was stacked against us,” Mr. Velky said. “They were given lots of time. I was given five minutes.”

He had always believed Mr. McCain “to be an honest and fair man,” Mr. Velky said, “but this didn’t make me feel that good.”

Mr. Velky said he felt worse when the e-mail messages between the tribe’s opponents and Mr. McCain’s staff surfaced in a federal lawsuit. “Is there a letter telling me how to address the senator to give me the best shot?” Mr. Velky asked. “No, there is not.”

After the hearing, Pablo E. Carrillo, who was Mr. McCain’s chief Abramoff investigator at the time, wrote to a Barbour Griffith & Rogers lobbyist, Brant Imperatore. “Your client’s side definitely got a good hearing record,” Mr. Carillo wrote, adding “you probably have a good sense” on where Mr. McCain “is headed on this.”

“Well done!” he added.

Cynthia Shaw, a Republican counsel to the committee from 2005 to 2007, said Mr. McCain made decisions based on merit, not special interests. “Everybody got a meeting who asked for one,” Ms. Shaw said, “whether you were represented by counsel or by a lobbyist — or regardless of which lobbyist.”

Mr. McCain’s campaign defended the senator’s handling of the Schaghticoke case, saying no staff member acted improperly. The campaign said the session was part of normal committee business and the notion that Mr. McCain was intending to help Congressional colleagues defeat the tribe was “absolutely false.”

It added that the senator’s commitment to Indian sovereignty “remains as strong as ever.”

Within months of the May 2005 hearing, the Bureau of Indian Affairs took the rare step of rescinding the Schaghticokes’ recognition. A federal court recently rejected the tribe’s claim that the reversal was politically motivated.

Making an Exception

That spring of 2005, as the Schaghticokes went down to defeat in the East, another tribe in the West squared off against Mr. McCain with its bid to construct a gambling emporium in California. The stakes were similar, but the outcome would be far different.

The tribe’s plan to build a casino on a former Navy base just outside San Francisco represented a trend rippling across the country: American Indians seeking to build casinos near population centers, far from their reservations.

The practice, known as “off-reservation shopping,” stemmed from the 1988 Indian gambling law, which included exceptions allowing some casinos to be built outside tribal lands. When Mr. McCain began his second stint as chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee three years ago, Las Vegas pressed him to revisit the exceptions he had helped create, according to Sig Rogich, the Republican fund-raiser from Nevada.

“We told him this off-reservation shopping had to stop,” Mr. Rogich said. “It was no secret that the gaming industry, as well as many potentially affected communities in other states, voiced opposition to the practice.”

In the spring of 2005, Mr. McCain announced he was planning a sweeping overhaul of Indian gambling laws, including limiting off-reservation casinos. His campaign said Las Vegas had nothing to do with it. In a 2005 interview with The Oregonian, Mr. McCain said that if Congress did not act, “soon every Indian tribe is going to have a casino in downtown, metropolitan areas.”

Prospects for the proposed California project did not look promising. Then the tribe, the Guidiville Band of Pomo Indians, hired a lobbyist based in Phoenix named Wes Gullett.

Mr. Gullett, who had never represented tribes before Congress, had known Mr. McCain since the early 1980s. Mr. Gullett met his wife while they were working in Mr. McCain’s Washington office. He subsequently managed Mr. McCain’s 1992 Senate campaign and served as a top aide to his 2000 presidential campaign. Their friendship went beyond politics. When Mr. McCain’s wife, Cindy, brought two infants in need of medical treatment back to Arizona from Bangladesh, the Gulletts adopted one baby and the McCains the other. The two men also liked to take weekend trips to Las Vegas.

Another of Mr. McCain’s close friends, former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, was a major investor in the Guidivilles’ proposed casino. Mr. Cohen, who did not return calls, was best man at Mr. McCain’s 1980 wedding.

Scott Crowell, lawyer for the Guidivilles, said Mr. Gullett was hired to ensure that Mr. McCain’s overhaul of the Indian gambling laws did not harm the tribe.

Mr. Gullett said he never talked to Mr. McCain about the legislation. “If you are hired directly to lobby John McCain, you are not going to be effective,” he said. Mr. Gullett said he only helped prepare the testimony of the tribe’s administrator, Walter Gray, who was invited to plead his case before Mr. McCain’s committee in July 2005. Mr. Gullett said he advised Mr. Gray in a series of conference calls.

On disclosure forms filed with the Senate, however, Mr. Gullett stated that he was not hired until November, long after Mr. Gray’s testimony. Mr. Gullett said the late filing might have been “a mistake, but it was inadvertent.” Steve Hart, a former lawyer for the Guidivilles, backed up Mr. Gullett’s contention that he had guided Mr. Gray on his July testimony.

When asked whether Mr. Gullett had helped him, Mr. Gray responded, “I’ve never met the man and couldn’t tell you anything about him.”

On Nov. 18, 2005, when Mr. McCain introduced his promised legislation overhauling the Indian gambling law, he left largely intact a provision that the Guidivilles needed for their casino. Mr. McCain’s campaign declined to answer whether the senator spoke with Mr. Gullett or Mr. Cohen about the project. In the end, Mr. McCain’s bill died, largely because Indian gambling interests fought back. But the Department of Interior picked up where Mr. McCain left off, effectively doing through regulations what he had hoped to accomplish legislatively. Carl Artman, who served as the Interior Department’s assistant secretary of Indian Affairs until May, said Mr. McCain pushed him to rewrite the off-reservation rules. “It became one of my top priorities because Senator McCain made it clear it was one of his top priorities,” he said.

The new guidelines were issued on Jan. 4. As a result, the casino applications of 11 tribes were rejected. The Guidivilles were not among them.

Kitty Bennett and Griff Palmer contributed to reporting.

Support the Windsor University Faculty Association

We support the Windsor University Faculty Association in their quest for justice and human dignity as they struggle, not only to defend their own rights and livelihood, but workers everywhere who struggle for justice and dignity.

Just across the border in Michigan, adjuncts employed by Northern Michigan University have no rights, are paid sub-poverty salaries, have no health care, no child care and have not had a raise in years in spite of escalating food and gas prices and huge debts incurred in obtaining their own educations with pitifully little in the way of receiving upgrading in their teaching skills. The WUFA, in struggling for their own rights against a very anti-labour Administration/Management sets an example for those employed in universities like Northern Michigan University and universities everywhere.

As workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry who are forced to work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without ANY rights under state or federal labor laws--- where these corrupt managements completely ignore even the most basic international labor laws--- we are especially appreciative of the WUFA setting a stellar and exemplary example of how to struggle for the rights of labour.

We support a quick negotiated settlement with the Windsor University Faculty Association [WUFA] and we urge you to get back to the negotiation table. The University of Windsor works because WUFA does; we teach, research and counsel. Faculty, sessionals, and librarians are the hearts and minds of the University of Windsor.

We urge you to drop your demands for concessions on wages, benefits, working conditions, and promotion, tenure, and renewal, and offer WUFA members a fair and equitable contract that embodies the principal of sector parity, that embraces employment equity, and that preserves the quality of education at the university. we urge you to end this strike, which hurts your students, your members, and the reputation of the University of Windsor.

We urge working people everywhere to support the struggle for justice and dignity being waged by the Windsor University Faculty Association by clicking onto the CUPE web site and signing on to a statement of solidarity condemning the shameful actions of the Administration of the University of Windsor in trying to weaken the Windsor University Faculty Association.

Click on to the CUPE web site to show your support for the Windsor University Faculty Association in their struggle for justice:


In addition to the struggle of the WUFA, we appreciate the Canadian Union of Public Employees bringing this struggle to our attention with a request for solidarity,

Yours in the struggle,

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

58891 CR 13
Warroad, Minnesota USA 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell Phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Blog: http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

CUPE supports Windsor faculty

The Faculty at the University of Windsor is now entering its second week of strike.

In the hope of helping WUFA get a fair deal, Paul Moist offered CUPE’s support to WUFA’s bargaining team. “We offered them our support dealing with their strike campaign and we had a very positive relation with the committee, said Moist. I hope they can benefit from CUPE’s vast experience in the post-secondary sector. This is a perfect example of public sector workers who need our support in these crucial times.”

On campus, CUPE locals 1001, 1393, 4580 and 1281 are coalition partners, working closely with WUFA.

WUFA president, Professor Brian E. Brown said “Too much misinformation has been released by the university giving an entirely unjust view of the situation. The truth is that 47% of our Faculty are part time staff. They are underpaid, overworked and increasingly treated as casual labour. We can’t attract and keep the best new faculty with uncompetitive salaries and poor working conditions. Pay equity and employment equity imbalances are important issues that have to be addressed.”

Brown also noted both the Graduate Student Society and the University of Windsor Students' Alliance have voted to support WUFA. "Too much is at risk at this institution. Students and faculty have united to preserve quality education at the University of Windsor."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Obama Five Point Plan on Economy; more questions than answers

I find it very welcome the issues are being addressed in this campaign. (See article below from Twin Cities Daily Planet)

However, I also find it very troubling that the Democratic Party and Barack Obama are engaged in a well known strategy devised by linguist George Lakoff to “frame progressive sounding policy directives” which “unite;” but, refrain from bringing forward specific progressive solutions fearing to fracture the “progressive voting coalition.”

Raising issues in these troubled times is not enough. We need to hear well formulated and specific solutions to problems; not simply recognition the problems exist.

Here in Minnesota, the Democratic Party has become its own corrupt self… arrogantly and completely evading any solutions to problems as it strives to capture the votes of suburbia and gated communities.

It is simply mean for any political party to play these kinds of games simply to win votes and arrogantly expect people to vote for its candidates simply because the Republicans are so bad.

We have many clear examples of this arrogant indifference towards working people and their problems from the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party… ranging from continuing to ignore the plight of some thirty-thousand casino workers forced to work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights to the closing of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant where State Senator James Metzen sabotaged efforts to pass SF 607 which would have kept the plant and hydro dam intact as an industrial unit until it was brought under public ownership or new owners of the plant could be found to continue production—- thus saving some two-thousand good-paying union jobs to employer biased unemployment compensation laws to single-payer universal health care and socialized health care.

Contrary to the bad advice from George Lakoff, elections can be won by those politicians with the moral and political courage to bring forward real solutions to the problems working people are experiencing… the fact that socialists of the real Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, Floyd B. Olson and Elmer A. Benson, were the most popular of all elected politicians in Minnesota history with the voters turning out at the polls, proves those advocating real solutions to the problems of working people are “electable” without having to participate in such shameful games in misleading voters.

I would like to know from Barack Obama and his supporters, what specific solutions they have to the concerns I have raised and I would like to see it spelled out exactly what this so-called “Five Point Plan” comprising Obama’s economic strategy really consists of. I don’t think this is too much to ask.

A trillion dollars to bail out a bunch of corrupt, conniving and crooked bankers and Wall Street coupon clippers proposed behind another bunch of lies by the Republicans with Democrats acquiescing just as they did with the war in Iraq; another similar bailout in the works for the U.S. auto and steel industries… socialism for the rich. What is good for the goose is good for the gander… let’s have socialism to solve the problems of the working class.

There isn't a single banker in this country who would make a five-hundred dollar loan to anyone without some collateral or something of substance to back up the loan and without assuming full ownership should payment not be forthcoming, yet, the United States Congress refuses to exercise its fiduciary responsibility by getting anything as collateral... it is time that tax-payers own something other than an empty sack of promises for that which they finance... what tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own should become our demand... certainly Warren Buffett and Goldman Sachs will understand this.

Obama has specifically promised three things--- and only three things, which we can expect him to keep his promises to adhere to… if anyone else knows of more, I would like to be informed of such.

Obama has promised:

1.) To increase military spending;
2.) To reinstate the draft;
3.) That in addition to bailing out the banks and financial community; the working class will get to endure “belt-tightening.”

This is far from a progressive program; in fact, it is regressive and outright reactionary as politics gets. So, let’s have the facts concerning this “Five Point Economic Program.”

Obama recently stated to a gaggle of his supporters:

“So let's be clear: what we've seen the last few days is nothing less than the final verdict on an economic philosophy that has completely failed.”

In fact, the capitalist system has failed and is on the skids to oblivion... the only question remaining is how many people will now be hurt before we give it the boot.

After eight long years of George Bush and Republican rule I want to see some real change not listen to a bunch of meaningless platitudes from Barack Obama whose biggest financial backers are Warren Buffet and Goldman Sachs.

I would hate to see McCain and a Neanderthal like Palin win; but, I am not so afraid of McCain and Palin that I will cast my precious one vote without getting something in return. A vote based upon fear is a vote thrown away.

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council




Obama rally addresses the economy

By Lisa Peterson-de la Cueva , TC Daily Planet

September 20, 2008

More than 3,500 Obama-Biden supporters gathered downtown Minneapolis on Friday to hear Barack Obama’s plan for the economy. The rally took place as McCain addressed thousands of supporters in Blaine.

Bill Clinton’s phrase “It’s the economy, stupid!” seems to have resonated with the Obama-Biden campaign as it tries to persuade voters Obama has a viable plan to fix the economy. The rally is an indicator of the campaign’s efforts to hone its message as economic woes on Wall Street and across America deepen. Speakers R.T Rybak, Majority House leader Margaret Anderson Kelliher, and Representative Keith Ellison stuck close to Obama’s economic plan.

Nick Kimball, spokesman for the Obama campaign in Minnesota, said there has been a shift in voters’ concerns as the economy weakens. “We’re having conversations with about 10,000 a night through door knocking and phone calls,” Kimball said. “It’s very clear that people are looking for details about the eocnomy and they want to know exactly what the candidates are going to do about this crisis we’re in.”

Obama’s five-point plan consists of providing tax breaks for the middle class, bringing a responsible end to the war in Iraq, regulating Wall Street, investing in renewable energy sources, and cracking down on lobbyists. How specifically Obama and Biden will accomplish these was not the focus of Friday’s rally, but the five points appeared frequently and visually. During one speech five supporters held up poster boards representing each point.

Carol Bouska, an Obama supporter, said the rally was refreshing for its focus on a single issue rather than personality or celebrity. “The campaigns have become about style over substance, and we have to get back to the issues,” Bouska said, “It was really good to be at the rally because even though Obama and Biden weren’t there, there were a lot of people gathered there because they actually care about the economy.”

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Michigan Legislators know no shame...

Michigan legislators are now considering making all public places and work areas "smoke-free" but their proposed legislation will allow smoking to continue in casinos.


There is no opposition to this from the Michigan AFL-CIO or Change to Win... so much for defending the interests of the entire working class.

And, oh yes, the Internet Technicians employed by the Michigan Legislators, have been directed to "filter out" any e-mails to legislators coming from me or anyone from the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council...

Obama and the Democratic Party can go to hell.

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Another nightmare on Wall Street: Dow down 450

Don't worry; be happy... Capitalism is just on the skids to oblivion... Bush and Cheney have everything under control... and Sarah Palin is asking God to help... brother, can you spare a dime?


Another nightmare on Wall Street: Dow down 450 By ELLEN SIMON, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK - The stock market took another nosedive Wednesday as the American banking system appeared even shakier and investors worried that the financial crisis is spinning so far out of control that even government rescues can't stop it.

The Dow Jones industrial average, which only two days earlier had suffered its steepest drop since the days after the Sept. 11 attacks, lost another 450 points. About $700 billion in investments vanished.

One day after the Federal Reserve stepped in with an emergency loan to keep American International Group Inc., one of the world's largest insurers, from going under, Wall Street wondered which companies might be the next to falter.

A major investor in ailing Washington Mutual Inc. removed a potential obstacle to a sale of the bank, and stock in two investment banks, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, was pummeled.

It was the fourth consecutive day of extraordinary turmoil for the American financial system, beginning with news on Sunday that another venerable investment house, Lehman Brothers, would be forced to file for bankruptcy.

The 4 percent drop Wednesday in the Dow reflected the stock market's first chance to digest the Fed's decision to rescue AIG with an $85 billion taxpayer loan that effectively gives it a majority stake in the company. AIG is important because it has essentially become a primary source of insurance for the entire financial industry.

As the stock market staggered, the price of gold, which rises in times of panic, spiked as much as $90.40 an ounce. Bonds, a traditional safe haven for investors, also climbed.

"The economy is not short of money. It is short of confidence," said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University.

The financial stocks in the Standard & Poor's 500 dropped even more, falling 10 percent, and insurance that backs corporate debt soared for the last two surviving independent U.S. investment banks, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs.

"It seems as though banks are hoarding cash, no matter what rate they could be lending it at," said David Rosenberg, North American economist at Merrill Lynch.

Markets around the world also tumbled, with stocks dropping from Hong Kong to London. Brazil's benchmark index saw the largest drop, losing nearly 7 percent in a day.

Worse, the short-term credit markets remained frozen, with overnight interest rates soaring for loans between banks and for overnight loans to businesses. Long-term loans, however, didn't rise as much.

"The worry on short-term loans is you're not sure who the ultimate borrower is," said Brian Bethune, chief U.S. economist at Global Insight Inc.

And in case anyone needed additional symbolism, a glass panel near the top of a Bank of America skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan fell more than 50 stories onto the street below and shattered. No injuries were reported.

In the United States, the faltering economy and banking system have begun to dominate conversations at dinner tables, bars and online, not to mention seizing the campaign trail.

One blogger, Michele Catalano of Long Island, posted this on Wednesday: "Dreamed about AIG and the stock market, woke up with the urge to stock up on canned goods and shotguns."

Mortgage rates, which had fallen after the government's takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, rose again, removing a glimmer of hope that the housing crisis, the kindling for the broader financial meltdown, was hitting bottom.

And new statistics showed that construction of new homes and apartments fell a surprising 6.2 percent in August to the weakest pace in 17 years.

The Treasury Department, for the first time in its history, said it would begin selling bonds for the Federal Reserve in an effort to help the central bank deal with its unprecedented borrowing needs.

Treasury officials said the action did not mean that the Fed was running short of cash, but simply was a way for the government to better manage its financing needs.

Separately, the Securities and Exchange Commission tightened rules on short selling, the practice of betting that a stock will fall.

A $62 billion money market fund — Primary Fund from Reserve — on Tuesday saw its holdings fall below its total deposits, a condition known as "breaking the buck" that hasn't happened to a money market fund since 1994, Rosenberg said. Money market funds are supposed to be conservatively invested and almost as safe as cash.

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama appeared Wednesday in a two-minute commercial to outline his economic plans and caution it won't be easy to fix the nation's worsening financial problems.

"The truth is that while you've been living up to your responsibilities, Washington has not," he said.

Republican John McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, said of the AIG move: "It's understandable but very, very disappointing that taxpayers are called upon for another one."

The Dow fell 449.36 to 10,609.66, finishing near its lowest point of the trading day. The index is down more than 7 percent just this week and more than 25 percent since its record close less than a year ago, on Oct. 9, 2007.

Stock in Washington Mutual fell 13 percent, dropping 31 cents to $2.01 amid reports that the government was trying to find a buyer for the bank, which has been battered by bad home loans. It lost $3.3 billion in the second quarter.

Many economists worried about the unintended consequences of the Fed's actions.

"Every time that umbrella widens, it gets heavier and heavier for those holding it up — which is the taxpayer," said Bernard Baumohl, chief economist at the Economic Outlook Group in Princeton, N.J.

"With most Americans now preoccupied about their own future job security, the one thing they do not want to hear is how they will end up paying the bill for poorly managed companies," he said.

Solidarity Divided: the Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice

Solidarity Divided: the Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice by Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Fernando Gapasin, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2008, 301 pp. ISBN #978-0520-25525-8

I will be writing my own review of this book... in my opinion, the writer/reviewer is much too kind regarding what the reviewer regards as "venial sins"--- or, without putting words in the reviewer's mouth--- forgivable sin.

The authors themselves ask for debate to take place over their writing--- and now such debate should ensue--- real debate... for far too long anti-communism and lies about the Communist Party USA have been tolerated and excused in order to spare the feelings--- and often in the interest of "unity"--- of those bringing forward distortions and outright lies... not to mention, glossing over the role a Communist Party plays in working class struggles.

More often than not, the "venial sins" are used by those committing them to push their own political agenda to escape criticism… as I believe these authors have done.

Fletcher is obviously working with others trying to create and build some kind of "non-Leninist," "multi-tendency," "left formation" as an alternative to Communist Parties in both the United States and Canada. One only has to follow the work of the "Center for Labor Renewal" and "Socialist Project" to know what is taking place.

I don't think the problems this reviewer sees are mere "quibbles," especially given Fletcher's repeated silence on solutions to plant closings while calling for "labor renewal."

Readers of this book, and the review, would do well to read "Always Bring A Crowd, the story of Frank Lumpkin, steelworker" by Bea Lumpkin and "Working Class USA, the power and the movement" by Gus Hall along with the book, "The Communist Party and the Auto Workers Union" by Roger Keeran. Other good books are, "Organize" by Wyndham Mortimer and "The Many and the Few" by Henry Kraus along with "Labor Radical" by Len DeCaux. A good introduction to Marxism-Leninism would serve any rank and file activist well--- perhaps a handbook like "Reader in Marxist Thought" by Howard Selsam, et.al. which would serve as an introduction to further exploring and discovering Marxist ideas which have served the working class movement so well.

We need to start hearing more from working people themselves articulating their own problems and their solutions... ironically, even those "educators" who write about the problems of working people often do the same thing the corporations do: deny working people the right to be participants in the discussions, dialogues and debates.

The weakness of this review, and the book--- "Solidarity Divided: the Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice"--- is that no specific issues are discussed along with an approach to finding real solutions regarding plant closings--- the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant could have been used... and, there is no concrete discussion regarding the crisis in health care, the minimum wage or defense of Social Security. The entire debate shaping up around global warming and how the struggles of working people for social and economic justice is an integral part of saving our planet and creating livable communities is just about missing... there are far too many concrete examples the authors could have used to have been excluded from this book.

It is not good enough to articulate the general; what is now required is to get specific--- a colossal and monumental failure of the authors of this book given the state of the economy and our environment along with the bankruptcy of of the two-party political system which is incapable of solving the problems of the crisis ridden capitalist system.

In a way, the book "Solidarity Divided: the Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice" is to organized labor what George Lakoff is to the Democratic Party... almost irrelevant for rank and file workers. The reviewer doesn't help matters any tossing around words like "venial sins."

In the final analysis, what militant rank and file workers do under the leadership of a well organized Communist Party will determine the outcome of the struggles ahead.

More specifics later... here is one reviewer's opinion.

Alan L. Maki

Book Review

Written by Thomas Kenny

Friday, 15 August 2008

Solidarity Divided: the Crisis in Organized Labor and a New Path toward Social Justice by Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Fernando Gapasin, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2008, 301 pp. ISBN #978-0520-25525-8

This left analysis of the US trade union movement by Bill Fletcher, Jr. and Fernando Gapasin is the best book in years on the predicament of US unions. Every left trade unionist should buy it and read it. We are the ones who will take to heart its many insights.

Bill Fletcher is a career labor educator. He was Education Director of the AFL-CIO in the first years after the 1995 New Voice victory. He hasbeen president of the TransAfrica Forum, and he is a frequent columnist for the Black Commentator website. His co-author Fernando Gapasin is also a labor educator, a former president of a southern California CLC, and a professor of industrial relations and Chicano studies who hastaught at Penn State and UCLA.

Much of the book is taken up by the authors' account of the battles in the top union leadership in Washington DC, above all, the 1995 coming to power of the New Voice coalition led by John Sweeney and the 2005 secession of the Change to Win unions. As a top AFL-CIO staffer since 1995, Bill Fletcher certainly had a ringside seat. Fernando Gapasin's strength is a grasp of central labor council struggles and West Coast developments.

But the book's biggest contribution is its profound political analysis of the ills of the existing US union movement. Fletcher and Gapasin judge it to be in critical condition. They bluntly state their thesis in the preface:

We contend that labor renewal in the US depends on the adoption of a different theory and practice of trade unionism than has prevailed until now. Such an approach must understand the neoliberal global environment, reexamine who should be in the labor movement (and who is currently excluded), and redefine the role of the union movement in a process of social transformation. We are not interested in perpetuating illusions. The reality is that, absent an alternative, transformative trade unionism, the US will see no trade union renewal. Rebuilding the AFL-CIO or even creating a new federation will have been an exercise in futility unless we get to the roots of the problems facing organized labor.

This is the main crisis referred to in the book's title. Solidarity Divided also recounts the string of lesser crises along the way. One was the crisis of Cold War trade unionism symbolized by George Meany and Lane Kirkland. In 1991 after the Cold War's end, and especially in 1994 when Newt Gingrich's Neanderthals took over Congress, simmering discontent in the AFL-CIO Executive Council boiled over and by 1995 led to the uprising of the Sweeney "New Voice" coalition. New Voice proved to be a false dawn. They detail the successes and failures of the New Voice coalition, which went into a crisis of its own, resulting in the secession of the Change to Win coalition of unions in July 2005, taking 40 percent of the AFL-CIO with it.

Change to Win has also proven to be a false dawn. While not sparing the lash with respect to the AFL-CIO, the authors are scathing about the claims of Change to Win, whose admirers in its early days fancied the breakaway federation to be a new CIO. The authors suggest that most of CtW's policies are a 21st century update of the ideas of Samuel Gompers, "neo-Gompersism."

Fletcher and Gapasin do not fear the phrase "class struggle." The book opens with a telling anecdote about a South African trade unionist chiding a group of US trade unionists visiting Johannesburg. One of the US visitors had casually remarked that the job of a union, of course, is to represent the interests of its members. The COSATU member replied, "Comrades, it's the role of unions to represent the interests of the working class." At times they are in conflict. The authors are unafraid of the word "imperialism." Moreover, throughout their narrative, especially in the chapter "Left Behind," the co-authors, an African-American and a Latino, investigate and denounce the racial and gender exclusion, blatant or subtle, that still mars the union movement and blocks class unity.

The book's sins – and there are not many – are venial sins. Their account of the historical role of the CPUSA in the US trade unions is honest and fair, though one could find details to quibble about.

The remedy they advocate is "social justice unionism." Unions should join together with other working-class organizations to fight for the broad class interests of workers. The expansion of union membership and contract negotiation should be only one element of the tasks of unions. This movement would campaign on the full spectrum of issues affecting the working class. Unions would both reach out to oppressed racial and ethnic communities and join the fight against racism and sexism as the path towards a united movement and toward a more inclusive and just society.

It is a bold vision, though not entirely new. For this reviewer, the question is: who will lead the left? What or who will organize in each union and community "for social justice trade unions." A movement for social justice unionism won't arise spontaneously. Its creation requires leadership. This reviewer would contend that the task requires a revolutionary vanguard party. Fletcher and Gapasin are not far from the same answer, the rebirth of a conscious left:

Thus one piece of our conclusion — which will be unsettling to some – is that a left, anti-capitalist analysis and a reconstituted left are essential for the renewal of labor and the reconstruction of trade unionism. Try as some may to erase the role of the left in the successful historical moments of us and even globe trade unions, their effort will fail.... The movement needs the inspiration of a left vision.

There is much more to admire in this book. Perhaps reflecting an occupational frustration of labor educators whose work all too often is not properly used by unions who employ them, Fletcher and Gapasin again and again call for a wide "debate," or they complain that a debate is non-existent. True enough. But Fletcher and Gapasin have misplaced expectations. The center forces running a movement punching below its weight do not have the politics to fathom the extent of the crisis. They will not read or debate this book. Nor will an undeveloped rank and file debate it – for now. It is the left current in the trade unions that must read it. The implication of this impressive book is that the crisis of the US union movement has forced us back to the ideas of William Z. Foster and his teacher, Lenin. It's about time.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Democrats Pre-Authorized Use of Force at RNC

No one should find it strange that Minnesota Democrats worked in collusion to intimidate people from participating in the Labor Day "March Against the Republican National Convention" and other lawful activities during the time the Republicans came to town, as is charged below by Michael Cavlan in this essay.

The Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is controlled by a bunch of manipulators constantly striving to smother the very voices of peace and social justice who are expected to vote DFL who marched on Labor Day in Saint Paul; yet, they arrogantly expect working people to vote for the Dumb Donkeys they have been forcing on us through a very undemocratic "endorsement process" where the Chamber of Commerce and the Summit Hill Club select who we will have the right to vote for. As such, we end up with a bunch of dumb donkeys without any respect for the right of the people to voice their views and concerns in a way that enables them to be participants in the decision-making process--- which democracy is supposed to be all about.

It is no coincidence that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's elected officials would try to silence the voices for peace and social justice... this is the same Party which remains shamefully silent as more than 30,000 Minnesotans continue to go to work in smoke-filled casinos without any rights under state or federal labor laws at the hands of managements every bit as mean and vicious as the black-booted thugs who posed as police officers during the Republican National Convention.

In the weeks ahead, I will be posting, under the theme--- America Marches Against the Republican Party; many of the hundreds of pictures I took during the very peaceful March Against the Republican National Convention which drew thousands of people will be posted at:


You will likely see your friends and neighbors along with the disgraceful and arrogant intimidation they had to endure to voice their concerns about the future of our country.

Tom Paine and Thomas Jefferson would be convulsing in their graves if they knew what took place in St. Paul in the name of "democracy" as public officials worked in collusion and conspiracy to try to intimidate and coerce people into silence.

Susan Gaertner, the Ramsey County Attorney--- who intends to run for Governor of Minnesota on the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party ticket was the primary orchestrator of the vicious and violent police repression aimed at smothering democracy during the Republican Party's National Convention.

This is the same Susan Gaertner who made a highly publicized, self-serving speech: "The Link Between Animal Abuse and a Culture of Violence" as the Ramsey County Attorney at the 42nd Annual Criminal Justice Institute on August 27, 2007. If only Susan Gaertner had half the concern for Human Beings she pretends to have for dogs, the police violence during the RNC in St. Paul never would have taken place.

Had any cop done to any dog, what they did to human beings, in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention, Susan Gaertner would have opportunistically grand-standed and prosecuted with the full force of the law.

In fact, Susan Gaertner--- Ramsey County Prosecutor, along with Brian Melendez and the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's elected public officials, with well thought out premeditation, approved of--- and organized--- the most violent and heinous criminal activity on the part of the police. It was Gaertner who coordinated the activities of the FBI, Homeland Security, National Guard, Minnesota Highway Patrol, Sheriff Fletcher and the St. Paul and Minneapolis Police Departments and the media--- all media--- has ignored Susan Gaertner's role in organizing what many people are describing as a fascist assault on the democratic rights of the people of Minnesota.

Apparently Susan Gaertner learned how to mistreat the people who pay her salary by watching the methods used by the criminals who mistreat animals.

Do these politicians like Susan Gaertner, R.T. Ryback and Chris Coleman have no understanding of the meaning of the word: S-H-A-M-E? Minnesotans should give Gaertner and this bunch of worthless dumb donkeys a dictionary, not their votes.

The time has come to tell these corrupt Democrats to go their own way and for working people to reconstitute the real Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party as envisioned by Floyd B. Olson, Elmer A. Benson and John Bernard who used the powers of the police to protect the people from the kind of thugs Susan Gaertner, R.T. Ryback and Chris Coleman hired to thwart, stifle and beat down democracy.

The reason the politicians are opposing a complete investigation into the police violence and misconduct is because they know where such an investigation will lead.

That the best "friend" organized crime has ever had in Minnesota--- Tom Heffelfinger--- has been chosen to look into this matter by Democratic Party politicians speaks volumes.

Alan L. Maki

EXCLUSIVE: Democrats Pre-Authorized Use of Force at RNC

by Michael Cavlan

Explosive News: Democrats' Collaboration at Republican National Convention Exposed. Secret meetings authorized excessive use of force.

We know the stories of police abuse, mass arrests, targeting journalists, street medics, use of rubber bullets, plastic bullets, wooden baton rounds, mace, tear
gas, tasering and other differently lethal methods of crowd control in St Paul and Minneapolis this week. What is not known is how the local Democratic Party and other so called progressive elected officials collaborated with authorities in the past weeks and months before the RNC Convention in St Paul, giving them legal authority for their excesses and abuses of power.

This is your Independent Journalista's on-the-ground account of what happened and how local elected officials collaborated with the authorities and again abandoned their Oath to Protect and Defend the Constitution from All Enemies, Foreign and
Domestic. This is the news that you will not hear from the corporate media, Air
America, the Nation magazine or other so called progressive, alternative media outlets. This is true, muckraking journalism that honestly speaks truth to power, no matter how uncomfortable it makes some folks.

Now, before we get to the facts surrounding how our elected officials betrayed us and the Bill of Rights, a truth must be stated. No matter what the local City Councils of St Paul and Minneapolis did, the authorities would have done what they did.

This story is not about that. It is instead about how the local government knowingly collaborated with them, with no input from citizens and finally passed a Resolution granting them legal authority to use rubber and plastic bullets, wooden baton rounds, tasers and chemical weapons that were deployed against peaceful protesters, journalists and street medics treating the victims of their brutality in a secret meeting with no public allowed.

In the months before the Republicans came to town, there had been a flurry of activity. Local activists were keeping a close eye on their local elected officials. Initially, there had been a so called Free Speech Committee set up, supposedly to look at how authorities could allow free speech during the RNC and keep order.

However, local activists immediately developed some serious concerns. We found out that the Free Speech Committee did not allow any members of the public to add our input. Only City Council members on the committee and lawyers were allowed to speak. There was no free speech allowed at the misnamed Free Speech Committee.

Nonetheless, activists followed the Committee's actions closely and were present during each meeting. The City Council of Minneapolis is almost 100% Democratic. In fact the only real opposition in Minneapolis is the Green Party which currently has one Green on the City Council, Cam Gordon, who was a small light in a very dark room. But, we were to discover, even that light was to be extinguished.

The so called Free Speech Committee would change the time and locations of its meetings, in an obvious attempt of loosing the local activists who were closely following
their intents and actions. During this time, Councilman Gordon kept the local activist community appraised of when and where these meetings were being held, including
last minute changes. There was much talk of using the Washington Model of crowd
control versus other Models. The Washington Model was touted as being a little less restrictive.

There was also discussion on protest groups being required to register themselves and even their members, to be "allowed" to protest. At these times, Cam Gordon spoke eloquently on behalf of the community and in opposition to these repressive measures. When he spoke, he drew cheers from the activists present. We also waved our protest signs in agreement each time. We would also boo when the head of the Committee, Paul Ostrow, would make an especially egregious remark. That was the
extent of public participation and free speech at the so called Free Speech Committee meetings.

This went on for moths at a time. Then suddenly we found out that the Free Speech Committee had their last meeting, July 16th. The meeting itself was unannounced, unlike the other meetings which at least had a pretense of openness and public inclusion. At the next Minneapolis City Council meeting July 25th, the recommendation of the misnamed Free Speech Committee was announced. The Free Speech Committee Resolution passed unanimously, even by our one small light, Councilman Cam Gordon.

The Minneapolis Police were given "legal" authority to shut down any protest or group of 25 people or greater. They were also authorized to use rubber bullets, mace and the other array of non-lethal weapons on innocent, peaceful demonstrators, practicing our First Amendment Rights. Also violated repeatedly was the Fourth Amendment Right protecting us citizens against illegal search and seizure. Police violated the laws of assault and battery and destruction of evidence of their crimes, as
evidenced by their targeting journalists. All talk of the Washington Model was removed.

As this Resolution was passed by the large Democratic majority Minneapolis City
Council july 25th, another protest broke out. Local activists presented each member of the Minneapolis City Council, including Mayor RT Ryback with a Statement of Reprobation, condemning them for this betrayal of our most precious right to Free Speech, Assembly and Peaceful Petition of Our Government.

One of the main organizers, Michelle Gross of Communities United Against Police
Brutality, presented the Statement of Reprobation to both Councilman Cam Gordon
and the head of the Free Speech Committee, Councilman Paul Ostrow. Another was handed to Mayor RT Ryback.

During this presentation, a young man, Jude Ortiz with Coldsnap Legal Collective, read aloud the charges against the Minneapolis City Council. When he did so, he
was bundled off the podium by Minneapolis Police and brought to the Hennepin County Jail. He was later released uncharged.

All Minneapolis City Councils are taped and shown on local Public Access TV - all except for this one, which has never seen the light of day. Clearly, the "progressive" City Council had something to hide.

Since then, Michelle Gross was arrested twice, during peaceful protests that were targeted by police.

Many of the examples of excess and police brutality and thuggery were practiced
by Minneapolis Police. But, all of these actions and betrayals were mirrored by the 100% Democratic City Council of St Paul. Both Mayor RT Ryback and Mayor Chris Coleman, who laud themselves as "progressive" held a Press Conference, calling the RNC Convention a "success."

Ironically, we now have a number of the very City Councilpersons who gave our rights away, without a fight, now engaging in tough talk and rhetoric. This includes my own Councilwoman Elizabeth Glidden and Councilman Gary Schiff. Covering Your A** with tough talk will not make up for your betrayal of the citizens of our country, Council members and Mayors. Not even close.

I ask the question again. What do we do about it? I leave the answer up to you.

Michael Cavlan