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, November 18, 2008

The Republicans and the Democrats have lied to us about the serious economic problems

First Bush lied to us about the war in Iraq; and the Democrats acquiesced and followed Bush to war.

Now both the Republicans and the Democrats have lied to us over and over again about the seriousness of the economic mess we are in.

Barack Obama obviously has known for a very long time, at least two years if not longer, that the economy was going to hell in a hand basket during the entire time he was campaigning for president; and, he never even broached the seriousness of the situation until problems became so out of hand they could no longer be kept hidden.

While the "officials" still don't dare use the "D" word--- depression--- they now admit that this "isn't your 'garden variety' downturn." So, we have gone from speculating that this is probably a minor "blip" to acknowledgment of being in the midst of a recession, to "this isn't your 'garden variety' downturn."

I suppose we should appreciate the current candor since we know that it is so difficult for these people in high places to tell the truth about anything.

The seriousness of what lies ahead changes everything and the way we view problems and look for solutions to existing problems which we all know are only going to get worse as the economy sinks deeper and deeper into troubled waters where humans have never been before.

Dilly-dallying with minor and incremental reforms is only going to make matters worse; Franklin D. Roosevelt found this out.

Wealth re-distribution--- major, major wealth re-distribution--- is the only way to head off complete chaos and mass suffering at this point.

Saving the capitalist system is not even an option to consider; I doubt it can be saved, and only those who have profited from the creation of the present crisis would want to save it.

The main thing is saving people--- keeping people working, in their homes, fed, clothed, going to school, and in good health.

Health care is a prime example of where immediate action to bring health care to millions presently without access to health care can prevent millions more suffering the same fate as we take steps to re-distribute the wealth in this country--- a process that should have begun over seventy years ago in order to prevent where were are today.

Barack Obama and those muddle-headed middle class intellectuals pushing alternative schemes to single-payer universal health care in the form of tinkering with a completely broken and unfixable system blew their wad when they lied to the American people by with-holding important facts about the economy.

Obama was afraid of offending those people in high places he used to get to the presidency.

Congress twiddled their thumbs as the economy spiraled downwards out of control, refusing to enact single-payer universal health care legislation in the form of H.R. 676.

Now it is too late for even H.R. 676.

It is time for all of us to act responsibly and take a fresh new look at what is required given the dire economic straights we have found ourselves in due to nothing of our own making and which was intentionally made completely out of our control. The American people, the working class had no say in anything... we worked and we worked and we created massive, unimaginable, great wealth... wealth that was stolen which has now come back to haunt us all and society requires this wealth be returned as a prerequisite to getting us out of this mess. Not returned in small increments but in massive amounts; and real fast if we are going to avoid mass misery unknown in modern human history.

Solving the health care mess is part of solving the economic problem because no matter what, there needs to be an immediate massive redistribution of wealth in order to stave off mass misery for the working class and there is no better way to quickly redistribute wealth than to take the profit-gouging insurance industry completely out of the picture.

In my opinion, Congress has waited far too long to implement health care reform.

Single-payer universal health care as in H.R. 676 is a "no-show" and would now be too little, too late; completely unworkable with no way to continue funding the kind of high profit margins required by greedy doctors, HMO's, hospitals, nursing homes and private for-profit in home care and the health care industry. Simply taking the insurance companies out of the picture still leaves these others sucking massive wealth out of the system that we can no longer afford the luxury of.

Given the very serious and deep economic depression we are into, nothing short of full-scale socialized health care will have any impact on the economic side.

Of course, single-payer universal health care would still alleviate the problem of access to health care for millions of people... but the enormous profits still being sucked from society simply is too much to bear.

President Franklin Roosevelt learned the hard way that when you dilly-dally as the economy crumbles you waste time and end up with an even bigger mess by trying to appease big-business with incremental-ism.

Now is no time to worry about appeasing the American Medical Association and these others who have had their greedy fingers in the pie for so long.

There is only one pie and when it is gone, it is gone. Our economy has had the ingredients to bake another completely depleted so we have to carefully share what is left for the time being.

There are those who argue that such massive redistribution of wealth through universal social programs like socialized health care will lead to people demanding more socialism to solve their other problems as capitalism is on the skids to oblivion while dragging us all down the road to perdition.

We need to answer them firmly: So what? Whatever works best to maintain the best quality of life and standard of living for the working class and Obama's cherished middle class is simply what needs to be done.

Single-payer universal health care would have only been an incremental step towards socialized health care anyways; an incremental step to appease the American Medical Association and big-business along with muddle-headed liberals afraid to challenge the status quo even though they know capitalism is falling apart at the seams as the entire foundation crumbles.

Obviously, none of the other health care schemes are even worth considering given what we now know about the current state of the economy.

Those pushing anything other than full-scale socialized health care today do so for selfish political reasons and society can no longer afford to indulge these self-centered individuals. We now need to look at the common good; the health of everyone and the economic well-being of our Nation.

Let's hope and pray Barack Obama and those who have been desperately trying to derail the single-payer universal health care movement in favor of all these incremental reforms will now see and understand the error of their ways... hopefully Obama will have the courage to socialize the entire health care system very quickly, within days of taking office... delaying weeks or months could further drag us all down to a place none of us want to be in.

We need a far ranging and deep discussion of this now so there is momentum pushing and prodding Obama to do what is right... obviously, he, like Bush, has lied to the American people about the depth and dire consequences of the economy that is far from merely faltering for a few months as Bush lied to the G-20; capitalism is failing and we can't allow its failure to drag all of us down with it.

Instead of the present fifty-million people without access to health care, failing to socialize health care during this kind of economic crisis and disaster will leave over 150 million people in this country without access to basic health care.

Figure it out, as unemployment mounts these workers will not be able to afford to pay any insurance premiums as they struggle to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads; and the very last thing we need is for the government to be subsidizing the profits of this health care industry--- not the insurance companies, not the doctors or HMO's or hospitals who have been gouging us for so long.

The Republicans obviously used up any goodwill they might have had with their lies about Iraq; people are fed up that the Democrats acquiesced to these crooked and corrupt Republicans for eight long years. Now we have had Democrats and Republicans tell us lie after lie after lie about the economy--- we simply can't get any straight answers based on hard facts and scientific data about what is going on... the people like Bush and Obama who know what is going on are still stuck in a mode of playing word games about the nature of this crisis so they have used up any goodwill they might have had with the American people.

Obama, the new kid on the block when it comes to wealth and power, now finds himself trapped between the grassroots people who gave him their votes and the wealthy Wall Street crowd who provided him the money to put on his show; he is now caught with no friends real friends that he can trust in high places while quickly losing any and all respect from those who gave him their votes.

But, Obama's problems are of his own making and we shouldn't allow those now pulling his strings to destroy us all.

As liberals and progressives, what many call "the left;" we have some very serious work and choices to make.

Health care is one of the choices we need to take a stand on.

The choice we make in health care reform must now consider not only what will best serve the health care needs of the people; but, the economic health of the Nation.

People before profits.

Massive redistribution of wealth is required and socialized health care is one of the ways to do this.

Socialized health care must be part of a larger project of redistributing the wealth which must include drastic cuts in military spending including ending these senseless wars for oil and drugs in Iraq and Afghanistan... let Bin Laden rot in his cave in Pakistan; we need to drastically raise the minimum wage to a real living wage. There needs to be a moratorium on all home foreclosures and evictions and all student loans should be forgiven as paid in full... if need be, let everyone who owes on student loans work it off for three months in the soup kitchens and food shelves.

This is the kind of emergency program required to stave off massive human misery in the days ahead and will allow the economy to muddle along as we figure out how to finally get rid of this rotten capitalist system which has now become such an enormous burden on us all.

That Barack Obama and his surrogates in the blogging world are still hard at work trying to derail the single-payer universal health care movement as so much more--- socialized health care--- is now needed, is the epitome of pathetic. While destroying the health of the people Obama is slitting his own throat because the rich and the powerful in high places who paid for his way to the presidency are going to be falling right along with their crumbling system.

Barack Obama now has some serious thinking of his own to do. He might want to keep in mind that Franklin D. Roosevelt faced an organized coup attempt when he started tinkering with incremental-ism instead of bringing on massive redistribution of wealth programs at the time they were most needed.

Perhaps Barack Obama is such an opportunist he doesn't even understand what is at stake and the seriousness of the situation... all the more reason for those who were deluded into supporting him better find a way to get past Rahm Emanuel for a serious talk with him.

What the heck made these dumb donkeys and dumb clucks think they could get away with telling lies about the economic problems like they lied about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan... perhaps we give them reason to think we are stupid?

Alan L. Maki

Monday, November 17, 2008

Capitalist sooth-Sayers finally admit: "This is no 'garden variety' downturn"

The capitalist sooth-Sayers have finally acknowledged what most working people knew long ago, "This is no 'garden variety' recession."

For once we get an once of truth with the tons of lies from the Wall Street government passing itself off as the "world's greatest democracy."

The associated press reported:

The raft of grim economic news prompted Sandra Pianalto, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, to say in a speech Friday that the data to date "tells me that the economy is now in a recession."

"At the moment, the signs point to a recession beyond just a 'garden variety' downturn," she said. "The length and severity of the recession will depend on how quickly credit markets return to normal."

How can credit markets be returned to "normal" by loaning more money to banks and businesses that can't even pay back what they owe because between the Wall Street coupon clippers and the crooked and corrupt CEO's who looted their own businesses and banks, they failed in the first place?

What is really mind-boggling is that the Wall Street bankers remain in charge of trying to solve this problem.

A problem they are still trying to tell us stems from problems relating to credit... on top of telling us the problem stems from a credit crisis (which is an outright lie) these bankers are telling us they intend to solve this problem by making it easier for those who cannot now repay loans to get even bigger loans!

Does anyone really believe a credit crisis which is claimed to be responsible for plunging the world economy into what is "not your typical 'garden variety' downturn" is going to be cured by providing further credit at tax-payer expense to failing banks and industries?

If anyone really believes this, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn I would like to sell you.

Even though the capitalist sooth-Sayers have gotten around to admitting this isn't your "garden variety downturn," these capitalist sooth-Sayers cannot get the word "depression" off their tongues and through their lips because the word "depression" is an admission that the capitalist system has failed and the economy is in a complete shambles with none of these blowhards knowing what to do to solve the problem.

This is no problem of failure of "economic philosophies" as Barack Obama claims. This is a failure of the system... economic depressions are part and parcel of the capitalist economic system--- one of the primary reasons the system needs to be replaced with socialism.

We are now supposed to trust Barack Obama and a bunch of dumb donkeys to be able to get us out of this "not your typical 'garden variety' downturn" when they haven't even been able to stop wars that they never should have allowed to start... and, they turn to the very Republicans who got us into the wars and lied about the state of the economy the same way they lied about the wars... with Colin Powell deciding to lie about the economy to make amends for telling lies that led our country into wars for oil and dope. And this is what we are supposed to accept in the name of bi-partisan unity...

These greedy parasites really expect working people to grab a six pack, settle into the easy chair and watch the Super Bowl.

There are solutions to be found for the depression we are in... an economic depression from which there is no way out if the capitalist road is taken because capitalism is on the skids to oblivion and as long as we remain on this road we are on the road to perdition.

As working people we have some serious choices to make.

Do we allow the Wall Street coupon clippers of the military-financial-industrial complex to continue to do our thinking for us and drag us along down the road to perdition? Or, do we say, "Enough!"

The country is going to hell in a hand-basket and the only solution these people can think of is to give the same banks and industries that have already robbed us blind more credit at our expense... isn't it nice they continue to be so generous with our tax-dollars and the wealth we have created?

It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that funneling the wealth of our country to the greedy few will only intensify already serious problems that only the redistribution of wealth to the working class can begin to address.

After all, we are talking about the wealth we have created which has been stolen from us by the Wall Street crowd in the first place.

There is only one course of action that will get us out of this mess.

We need to consider an anti-capitalist, socialist course of action.

George Bush begged the G-20 governments not to give up on capitalism simply because there are a few problems for a "couple of months."

Bush's lies are going to continue without let-up right to the end and even his capitalist partners from around the world are not buying into his "couple months of economic problems" scenario.

Every course of action we allow these dumb donkeys and dumb clucks to take in the name of "bi-partisan unity" will plunge our nation and the world deeper and deeper into crisis which we all know means more human misery; as if we haven't had enough the last two-hundred years.

Below are some suggestions; read it over and talk with your family, friends, neighbors and fellow workers:

There is broad consensus among labor unions and progressive organizations, economists and politicians that we need a bottom-up solution to the economic crisis. That is, the priority should be fixing Main Street, not Wall Street. The main immediate proposals include:

1) A moratorium on home foreclosures, and giving bankruptcy courts the power to renegotiate mortgages.

2) Extend unemployment benefits and increase funding for food stamps, heating assistance, and other survival programs for the duration of this economic depression.

3) Aid to state and local governments so they can avoid layoffs and reductions in vital services.

4) Rebuilding the infrastructure of America: clean energy, roads, bridges, water systems, schools, and housing, providing good-paying jobs.

5) Increase the minimum wage to a real living wage based upon the calculations of the United States Department of Labor and its Bureau of Labor Statistics with the minimum wage legislatively mandated to be continually adjusted based upon all--- and real--- cost of living factors.

6) Forgive student loan debts.

7) Forgive all health care related debt and implement socialized health care.

8) Save jobs through public ownership of closing plants and nationalization of failed industries. What tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own.

9) Drastically slash the military budget and reorder priorities to meet human needs. The military-financial-industrial complex has robbed society of the resources needed to create a decent quality of life for all people.

Bailing out Wall Street without fixing Main Street is like fixing the cracks in the wall while your foundation is crumbling. The measures listed above, as well as more basic changes, are necessary. But with more than 100,000 families losing their homes each month, I would like to focus on one critical part of the foundation -- stopping foreclosures and keeping families in their homes.

The root of the crisis is that working families have been squeezed from all sides, especially since the recession of 2001. Household income has been falling behind the increasing cost of necessities. The squeeze has been aggravated by the decline of medical coverage and retirement plans, shifting these costs, along with soaring costs for education, food and energy, onto over-strained family budgets.

Many have dealt with this strain by going into debt. They were pushed deeper by the mortgage brokers, real estate agents, appraisers, and credit card vendors, who piled on fees, charges, and hidden interest rates, often based on wildly inflated housing prices. Even when this debt was not the result of outright fraud and conspiracy by the financial and real estate industries, it was in violation of any reasonable banking standards. Financial institutions, staffed by MBAs, PhDs and other highly-trained experts, made loans that no first-year economics student should have approved.

The immediate cause of the financial crisis on Wall Street is this mountain of debt smothering people on Main Street. In simplified form, here is what happens.

● Hard-pressed families fall behind on their mortgage and credit card payments.

● When homeowners can't make payments, the banks foreclose, but the home frequently stands empty and the bank is unable to recover much of the outstanding loan.

● The bank, with less money coming in, has trouble paying other banks and investors that it borrowed money from.

● Those other banks and investors have trouble paying banks and investors they borrowed from.

● Banks, investors, and ordinary businesses are afraid to lend money to other banks, investors and ordinary businesses.

Families owe more on their mortgages and their credit cards than they can ever pay back. Add to this the incredible massive student loan debt and unpaid medical bills. The efforts of working class families to save their homes and meet creditors' demands is undermining their families, their neighborhoods and the local economy, as family members work multiple jobs and cut back on health care, local purchases, local taxes, utilities, and home maintenance while the robbery at the pumps continues and every trip to the grocery store finds rising prices.

The bailout package just approved by Congress doesn't address this problem at all. Homeowners and consumers still have the same debt, still face the same monthly payments. The only change is that the U.S. government has become a collection agent for the banks and investors.

The solution is to reduce the amount that working people owe. Reduce homeowners' and consumers' debt to the level it would be at if reasonable lending standards had been applied in the first place. Conservative practice is that families should pay no more than 25 percent of their income for housing. So a people's bailout plan would mandate that mortgages be reduced so that monthly payments will be 25 percent of household income. But in no case should the debt be for more than the real value of the house, as determined by historical price levels adjusted for inflation. Credit card debt, second mortgages, and home improvement loans, college loans, and medical debt could also be adjusted by similar calculations, to a maximum of 10 percent of household income.

This would not cost the government a penny -- it would force banks and investors to recognize the losses resulting from their own bad judgment and fraudulent practices. Millions of people would still be in their homes, and neighborhoods and local tax bases would be stabilized. And the financial system would be more stable because the banks could now be confident of receiving a steady stream of payments, even though these payments would be less than what they originally expected.

The proposals to revive the economy, listed at the beginning of this article, should still be adopted. The economic stimulus package that was blocked in the Senate by a Republican filibuster a few weeks ago included some of those provisions. And major reform and regulation of the financial industry is necessary; there are some excellent proposals to take over failing banks, regulate the financial industry, and tax financial transactions and exorbitant compensation to control speculation and help pay for the program. But until we clear up the massive, unfair, and often illegal debt that has been fastened on working families, it will act as an anchor dragging down the economy, and Main Street will be haunted by insecurity and misery.

Democratic leaders in Congress had a number of proposals that would have reduced the amount families owe on their mortgages. They were blocked by the Republicans, who don't support any meaningful relief for homeowners.

During the vice presidential debate, Senator Biden expressed support for bankruptcy reform to reduce the amount owed by homeowners, and said that he thought that McCain opposed it. Governor Palin said that Biden was wrong, implying that McCain also supports the measure, and said that McCain is on the side of the people against “the greed and corruption on Wall Street.”

There is a simple test to see if Palin's claim has any substance. Will McCain show leadership and bipartisanship by proposing that Senators Obama and Biden join him in pushing to pass this bankruptcy legislation immediately? The proposal was killed in the Senate last April after encountering “stiff opposition from many Republicans as well as the banking and mortgage loan industries,” according to the New York Times. (April 4, 2008) But with McCain's backing, there should be no problem getting this legislation through Congress now.

Wall Street bankers, financiers and industrialist profited; the working class has been left with the misery and the problems.

Write Barack Obama; tell him you support these measures:


Other suggestions:

* Print and Post this on bulletin boards in union halls, community centers, schools, churches on refrigerators.

* Give a copy to your friends and neighbors.

* Talk to local, state and federal public officials--- after talking to enough dumb clucks and dumb donkeys you might get lucky and come across someone reasonably intelligent. Finding a politician caring and compassionate to stand up and take action is another matter.

* Organize demonstrations and picket lines to call attention to the problem and the solution.

* Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper, newsletters, and post a link to this on your blog or web site.

* We need to begin building grassroots and rank-and-file committees and organizations in every neighborhood, school and place of employment to begin putting together a massive all-people's united front type coalition so we have the strength and the power to stand up to these Wall Street parasites and vultures.

Just as this is no "garden variety recession," the web of control and corruption that has been spun by the military-financial-industrial complex is not your "garden variety" spider web erected to catch "garden variety" prey... YOU are the target, WE all are the prey.

State-monopoly capitalism has spun a powerful web of corruption and control, and it is going to require one heck of a fight and struggle to set us free.

People Before Profits!

Please distribute this widely.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Single-payer universal health care--- what is the compromise?

This was in the Progressive Democrats of America’s newsletter:

“We've just returned home from Washington D.C., where we attended a national conference with the leaders of other organizations working to pass H.R. 676 or some form of single-payer healthcare.”

The important point here is: “or some form of single-payer healthcare.”

I have repeatedly asked each of the groups named as part of this coalition if the “Minnesota Health Act” is single-payer universal health care. I asked the national Physicians for a National Health Program to declare whether the “Minnesota Health Act” constitutes their idea of single-payer universal health care.

I also put the same question to the Progressive Democrats of America.

After all, we have a right to know what those bargaining with Barack Obama over this health care issue have in mind.

All of these organizations have refused to answer this very simple question.

Even the Minnesota Green Party joined the Democrats in declaring they are for the “Minnesota Health Act;” even though anyone who takes the time to read the “Minnesota Health Act” readily finds that this is nothing more than a scheme to put a greater share of health care costs onto the backs of the working class while removing some of the burden of health care costs from middle class professionals and small and large business.

Since being challenged that the “Minnesota Health Act” is not single-payer universal health care, most of the supporters--- with the exception of the Green Party--- have dropped single-payer universal health care from their description of the “Minnesota Health Act;” acknowledging that it is merely a “cost saving” piece of legislation, but, again, no mention of who will be saving the 5% to 20% depending on who you ask.

Many of the organizations part of this “coalition,” which includes the Progressive Democrats of America, are still talking in terms of “affordable universal health care.”

As we are in the throes of a severe economic depression, one has to wonder what is affordable, and to whom, when millions of people are losing their homes to foreclosure, millions more are in default on student loans, millions can't afford the cost of heating the homes they still have for who knows how long, as millions join the ranks of the unemployed as entire industries are going bankrupt.

Really, one has to ask these "do-gooders" what is meant by "affordable" since they are not honest enough to say; and apparently too ashamed to answer when asked since their answers usually come in the form of name-calling usually expected only of the most reactionary members of the "ultra-right."

Again, from the Progressive Democrats of America web site, “All of these organizations of approximately sixty people representing over a dozen organizations and three members of Congress were in attendance. The agenda included a political overview, developing a legislative strategy, and alliance-building discussions. Among the represented groups were Healthcare-NOW!, the AFL-CIO, All Unions Committee for Single-Payer, American Medical Students Association, Rep. John Conyers, and aides from the offices of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Dennis Kucinich.”

It would be nice if at some point the rest of the country could read just what these discussions consisted of; assuming the strategy is not secret.

I doubt any of these organizations have done the kind of canvassing we did in Roseau County, Minnesota to find out what people really want in the way of health care reform before we put together the resolution which unanimously passed the Roseau County DFL Convention which defined single-payer universal health care as:

“No-fee/no premium, comprehensive (pre-natal to grave), all-inclusive (eye, dental, mental health, physical therapy, prescription drugs) single-payer universal health care; publicly funded and publicly administered.”

The delegates to the Roseau County MNDFL Convention clearly stated that publicly funded meant in a manner like social security with profit gouging insurance companies and HMO’s completely removed from the picture.

A resolution in support of single-payer universal health care passed the MN DFL state convention in 2006; approved by 72% of the delegates… immediately, the DFL leadership went into a mode of denial… sending Amy “Republican Lite” Klobuchar out to try to head off the grassroots rallying around this by saying she did not support the resolution… then Senator John Marty, known as the friend of middle class professionals and university intellectuals together with small business ramped up support for his scheme: the Minnesota Health Act and with no shame tried to pawn this reactionary piece of legislation which would merely make the State of Minnesota the bill collector for greedy, profit-motivated doctors, HMO’s, hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers and pharmaceutical companies.

In fact, the Minnesota DFL until just recently only put on their website the fact that the DFL has a plank supporting single-payer universal health care in its “Action Agenda” which politicians and candidates say they pretty much ignore. But, the DFL also posted to its “Action Agenda” support for “affordable” health care which is a complete contradiction to single-payer universal health care.

When I asked those supporting this legislation if they had read the legislation, they ALL (with ONE Single exception) replied “NO.”

When I asked them why they had not read the legislation they all said: “It was too difficult to understand.”

When I asked them why they would support a piece of legislation they had not read, most all said, “Because the gurus of single-payer universal health care say it is what we need.”

Mind you, the Progressive Democrats for America now trot out Representative John Conyers as their guru on health care reform… this is the same Congressman Conyers who publicly proclaimed--- without any shame--- upon being asked if he had read the Patriot Act before supporting it, said, “No.”

This is the same Congressman Conyers who traversed the country talking about the need to impeach Bush and Cheney, then had Cindy Sheehan arrested when she paid him a visit at his office to discuss what concrete steps he intended to take when the election gave Democrats a majority in the House and Senate.

It is interesting to note, that all of the dozen or so organizations that have come together, all operate under the umbrella of the Democratic Party and in Minnesota, the Green Party generally acquiesce to the Democrats the way the Democrats have acquiesced to the Republicans.

As we all know, people for “change” who backed Barack Obama thinking he was sincere who were first told they had to leave their signs for “single-payer universal health care” outside the rallies for Obama as their price for admission, now find that even the more “progressive” voices in the Democratic Party are beginning to buckle in their support for single-payer universal health care by cleverly stating “we attended a national conference with the leaders of other organizations working to pass H.R. 676 or some form of single-payer healthcare.” With “or” being the all important word.

We have to ask, “What is there in H.R. 676 they would agree to drop as a compromise in health care reform?”

What exactly is the “or some form of single-payer healthcare” they would be agreeable to?

We know in Minnesota the advocates of single-payer universal health care are willing to accept the Minnesota Health Act as “the compromise” in health care reform… and for a long period of time they were willing (some apparently still are) to call this bogus scheme “single-payer universal health care.” So, this question really does need to be answered though I doubt that it will.

Instead of being bailed out of this health care mess, the American people, in addition to carrying the burden of this economic depression by bailing out Wall Street, will now find themselves bailing out the American profit-gouging medical establishment.

It is far too much to expect from people who support a piece of legislation without reading it that they will read Karl Marx to understand what is happening in our country--- with health care or anything else… it is far easier to call names, spread lies and refuse to discuss these issues. Once again, we see where it is the great “liberals” in Hubert Humphrey tradition, who try to conceal their scheming and scamming behind anti-communist bigotry at the very time there is a pressing need to organize a united people’s front to push forward a much needed people’s progressive agenda for real social and economic justice centered around a call for peace to put an end to these dirty oil and dope wars.

Barack Obama and his Clinton-Republican baggage coming in under the guise of bi-partisan unity are using the health care issue as the issue to drive a wedge between progressives. If real liberals, progressives and the left are going to have any influence at all on the thoroughly reactionary plans of Barack Obama we are going to have to stand firm in defense of single-payer universal health care by refusing to budge and acquiesce to anything less than H.R. 676 when it comes to health care reform.

Look, the American people have spoken at the polls two times now. In 2006 and now in 2008 we voted to toss out of office the Clintons and the Republicans… the call was for “change;” and, here, we have Barack Obama bringing everyone the American people tossed out in through the back-door to make policy and for the explicit purpose of undermining the kind of real change people were expecting when they cast their ballots.

Single-payer universal health care is going to be the first victim; the rest will come.

There has been no recognition by Barack Obama and the Democratic Party of the overwhelming majority of progressive voters who gave him a mandate for “change” which includes the redistribution of wealth to finance legislation creating social programs for single-payer universal health care.

There is no compromise when it comes to health care reform; the American people, the overwhelming vast majority, have spoken in favor of "single-payer universal health care" and no organizations or individuals have a right to bargain this away through the flimsy premise of compromise with a flim-flam man and con artist who is preparing to make the working class bear the brunt of the problems of this country which stem from putting profits for a few before people when any thinking person with an ounce of common sense understands that it should be People Before Profits, most especially where health care is concerned.

Once again the wealthy big-business class has been allowed to get off with all the profits, leaving the working class all the problems and ill health.

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

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Thoughts From Podunk


Friday, November 14, 2008

Citizens for Election Integrity

I was one of about 200 "auditors" recruited by Citizens for Election Integrity which works in cooperation with the League of Women Voters to assure election procedures are adhered to by those responsible for conducting elections here in Minnesota. After all, it does little good to vote if one's vote is not counted, or not counted for the candidate or issue the voter intends to cast their ballot for.

The "Audit."

As the law requires, two precincts in each county were selected by random draw at an earlier date to be counted by hand to make sure the machines are doing what they are intended to do: Count Votes.

Based on my observations the machines are very reliable provided voters do what the machines require: fill in the little oval with a black pen.

The big problem, in my opinion, as to why there are problems tabulating votes, is because Election Officials, mainly the Minnesota Secretary of State--- Mark Ritchie, has a very lax, cavalier and flippant attitude in enforcing voter education and insisting that Election Officials, beginning with the Head County Election Official does his/her job properly... which in my opinion in this case, borders on malfeasance on the part of the Head of Roseau County Elections based on what I observed as a trained auditor.

There really is no excuse for one single voter entering a voting booth not knowing the procedure and requirements for assuring one's vote is counted. The responsibility for this lies with the head County Election Official... there is no escaping this.

Yesterday (Thursday, November 19, 2008) at 9 A.M. I went to the Roseau County Courthouse up here in northern Minnesota to audit, observe and record my observations.

While I must point out that the only part of the electoral process I observed was the hand-counting of the ballots the "machines" are intended to do more efficiently--- and faster--- than humans are able to do the job; I was to observe that the auditing process was done according to procedure.

What I observed was all done correctly and according to the law, and the intent of the law--- with one important exception which I will get to further on because it was not the primary problem in my opinion--- but, rather, in my opinion there are two very glaring problems occurring.

For some unexplained reason--- and the head of Elections in Roseau County did not want to address my concerns even though she continually asked if we had any questions which I think was to her credit for doing so--- she refused to consider.

The first problem I see is integrally related to the second problem.

First. We need to understand that the voting machines become very unreliable if voters do not understand completely what is required of them to have their votes counted, and counted accurately.

For these vote counting machines to work instructions for voting have to be carried out exactly if the vote counting machines are going to do what they are intended to do: COUNT VOTES.

If every voter does exactly as instructed the machines will count every single vote as the voter intended to vote; if instructions are not followed THERE WILL BE PROBLEMS.

Is the PROBLEM to anyone's advantage? Probably so, I would argue; but this is not the point of this blog posting. I will be writing about this later. We need to address the PROBLEM first.

As I have stated, based upon my observations, the machines are apparently performing their very simple task, a task that is really not based on a very elaborate technology... computers have been "counting" since their invention some 60 odd years ago.

HOWEVER... and this is a very BIG however; however, when voters do not follow the procedures exactly as instructed (and this is the second part of the problem: the instructions and instructors) their votes are very likely not going to be counted at all; or, not counted as they intended to cast their ballot.

What is the requirement?

Voters have to use the black PEN--- not a pencil--- and fill in the little oval on the ballot.

It seems so simple, eh?

Well, apparently this is not so simple and Mark Ritchie the Minnesota Secretary of State bears full responsibility for the problems occurring.

In my opinion, if voters were fully educated on the need to fill in this small little oval on their ballots with the black ink pens provided in the voting booth there would be no problem.

The Head of Elections in Roseau County assured me that every single voting booth has a black ink pen.

OK, so why are two (actually three) problems (based on what I observed) occurring:

One. People are placing an "X" or a "check mark" in the oval... or, circling the oval.

Two. People are apparently taking pencils out of their pockets to mark their ballots and the scanners on the vote counting machines are many times not picking up these pencil marks.

Three. People are changing their minds after filling in the oval. And, make no mistake, people do have the democratic right to change their minds while in the privacy of the voting booth... as we all know, this is a very common practice and something that goes along with every single person's right to vote; anything restricting or thwarting this right should be frowned upon by anyone who believes in the very basic concept of democracy. The use of these vote counting machines is forcing--- and coercing--- people to give up this very important and very fundamental right, the right to change their minds while in the privacy of the voting booth. However, even here, Mark Ritchie, the Minnesota Secretary of State bears full and complete responsibility for this problem occurring.

Mr. Mark Ritchie called me on the telephone knowing I was a delegate to the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party State Convention and begged for my vote. Mr. Ritchie got my vote as a delegate to the MN DFL State Convention and as a voter... Mr. Ritchie need not ever ask or beg me for my vote ever again based upon what I observed as an Auditor from "Citizens for Election Integrity."

In fact, it is difficult to fathom and comprehend why the League of Women Voters and other organizations observing the election process in its entirety have failed so completely as advocates on behalf of voters when it comes to voter education.

Without voter education concerning the very simple act of how a ballot needs to be "marked" in order for the optical scanner on the vote counting machine to perform its function, voting becomes a farce, especially in a close election like the Coleman-Franken contest.

Personally, I could care less which one wins--- the choice is between a dumb cluck and a dumb donkey as far as I am concerned.

But, the question--- and the problem remains--- one of the integrity of the electoral process which is highly skewed because the Minnesota Secretary of State has failed so miserably in his duty of insisting that county and precinct election officials carry out their legislatively mandated duties of assuring that every single voter entering a voting booth understands the very simple, yet less than obvious requirement, of having to fill in that little oval with a black pen... and if they change their minds after having voted, the procedure of requesting a new ballot.

What would it take for the Election officials to show each and every voter how the oval has to be filled in at the time they come into vote?

The solution is so simple; yet the politicians are so insensitive and uncaring.

In my opinion, Mark Ritchie should resign as Minnesota Secretary of State as a result of this voting fiasco we are witnessing in this race between the dumb cluck and the dumb donkey.

One problem I observed which in this case presented no problem because it was very apparent everyone selected to do their job in the auditing process was very honest and very diligent and carried out their task knowing the importance of counting every vote.

I do think there was a problem that probably all of those counting the votes knew how many votes had already been cast and counted for president, senator and state representative--- I may be wrong, but this appeared to be the case from what I observed and heard.

The problem as I see it with people involved in conducting the audit knowing how many votes there already are, is that if there were those less than honest involved and motivated towards the bias for who they voted for, the auditing process could be severely compromised--- after all, we know that even jurors on occasion can be "bought." We all know the role "big money" now plays in elections and we also all know the kind of "games" politicians will engage in to win an election.

Exactly how to resolve this problem, I don't know. It is kind of like an attorney asking a potential juror on the O.J. Simpson "robbery case" if they ever heard of O.J.'s murder trial... when you have election officials doing the audit you are probably going to get people who already know what the machines have counted for vote totals... kind of a common sense conclusion, but, politicians are making these laws to protect themselves, eh? Not exactly an unbiased process to begin with in such a thoroughly corrupt political process.

Even my own observations as an "Auditor" of the auditors and my opinions of the entire electoral process which are highly biased and difficult to overcome; but, overcoming our biases is not the issue at hand--- the integrity of the electoral process in Minnesota and the country is the issue involved.

I think that a little education of each and every voter entering the voting booth--- irrespective of our biases--- is in order.

One other small problem based on my observations as an "auditor." There was no vote counting machine available during the auditing process to try counting the ballots in question. Without trying to run the questionable ballots through a vote counting machine, we really aren't verifying anything, are we?

After all, we are not talking about anything that requires spending a single additional penny on... all that is required is a Secretary of State interested in defending democracy through a little education... it is not like we are asking that each and every voter be required to pass the Bar Exam.

And it is not like we are expecting every Election Official to be a university professor, although I understand some of the greatest problems are occurring where university professors are working as Election Officials in the precincts on Election Day... now, if these professors are having difficulty in teaching voters how and why the little "oval" needs to be filled in with ONLY the black ink pens supplied... I would suggest that this might be one reason why this country is so screwed up.

Why these problems, so simple to remedy, continue to occur after eight controversial years of election fraud and irregularities across the country is thoroughly bind-boggling.

Mind you, I only observed a few actual problems in the two precincts audited--- one precinct, from the City of Greenbush had about 370 voters, the other precinct was the Township of Juneberry which had 12 voters... however, considering there are over four-thousand precincts in Minnesota it becomes very obvious the potential for voter machine counting errors when voter education is so lackadaisical, especially in a close election.

Now, someone might ask, "What the heck are voters doing voting for "dumb clucks" and "dumb donkeys" anyways? Maybe the real voter education required goes far beyond filling in a little oval with a black ink pen?

Yes, you most likely did vote--- if you filled in the little oval on your ballot with a black ink pen properly.

Something to discuss and think about around the dinner table.

Alan L. Maki
Citizen "Auditor"
Citizens for Election Integrity, Minnesota
Roseau County, Minnesota

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Will Barack Obama suffer the fate of Lyndon Johnson?

Barack Obama has pretty much sealed his fate before he enters the White House because the Democratic Party has learned nothing from the presidencies of Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon.

Contrary to popular belief, but, what every historian knows, the Democratic Party has long been the party of war and the mainstay of the military-financial-industrial complex in this country.

According to Minnesota's socialist Farmer-Labor Party Governor, Elmer Benson, Franklin D. Roosevelt could have prevented World War II had he listened to the advice of United States Congressman John Bernard and supplied assistance to the International Brigades fighting the fascist Franco in Spain.

Warmongers in the Democratic party wanted a big war in order to create a "bubble" to get the American economy going, which is what happened.

In fact, had it not been for World War II, capitalism would probably not have survived because the economic depression would have continued indefinitely--- just like the present economic depression is going to do--- and the massive movements and struggles for reforms by working people would soon have become a revolutionary tidal wave sweeping away capitalism and replacing the rotten system with a cooperative socialist system.

Obama, like Lyndon Johnson, is very likely destined to suffer Johnson's fate as he is intent on pursuing wars and bailing out Wall Street bankers, financiers and industrialists; thus doing the very two things sure to plunge the capitalist economy into the worst economic depression ever known to humankind. The Obama Administration is taking humanity into a place where everyone will have wished they have never been... the most ghastly, horrible death and destruction with an economy unable to sustain human civilization.

In fact, Obama will be fortunate to survive his first term, never mind a second term, because Obama is likely to be driven from office in disgrace before completing one full first term like warmongers Lyndon Johnson and is likely to suffer a fate similar to Richard Nixon.

Both Johnson and Nixon made the fatal mistake thinking that war and military spending would provide a boost and stimulant to the economy. Both were wrong! Unfortunately for the Vietnamese, they were dead wrong.

Johnson and Nixon had no clue as to the nature of the capitalist beast, which in spite of the capitalist sooth-Sayers who rail against the redistribution of wealth, wealth under capitalism is always being redistributed; the problem is, the wealth is always being distributed up towards the wealthiest which kills off the economy eventually every time because the majority of the population which creates all wealth can no longer buy back the goods it has produced.

One does not have to be a genius to figure out that the capitalist system--- given the cold hard facts--- can not help but be plunged into economic depression, which, in spite of the capitalist system's best apologists, has nothing to do with "oversight" or "regulation," and everything to do with what, at first glance, noting humanity being in need of so much, is in fact a crisis of overproduction.

John McCain and Sarah Palin, being defenders of the capitalist system, had good reason to fear socialism... where they were wrong is calling Barack Obama a "socialist" and "Marxist;" unfortunately for the American people and the peoples of the world Obama is nothing but a self-serving flim-flam man willing to allow those in power to pull the strings manipulating him as long as he, and he alone, climbs the ladder.

Liberals, progressives and those on the left can remain silent and motionless and let Barack Obama have a "honeymoon;" but, at the risk of very, very grave consequences.

We don't have to wait to see what is going to happen if Obama is given a chance; all we have to do is soberly analyze where we are at AND WHERE WE WANT TO GO.

We know we don't want more wars; we didn't want these wars we now have to begin with; we certainly don't want these wars expanded into other countries. As liberals and progressives who look left for solutions to our country's very serious economic problems we certainly don't approve of bailout to the wealthy.

The wars and economic bailouts of the wealthy are a recipe for complete and total disaster--- here at home and abroad... at least for the working class, and even for the much heralded and ballyhooed middle class which the politicians have pandered to.

Right now Obama is pushing for a bailout of the auto industry, an industry that has grown fat exploiting workers who have been forced to produce unwanted and unneeded as well as environmentally destructive automobiles along with its share of weapons of war.

This is an industry which took its profits--- the wealth created by auto workers here in this country--- and immediately started investing those profits in Canada... the rest is history as the American auto industry took the wealth created by U.S. and Canadian auto workers and began building plants all over the world in quest of ever cheaper resources and labor.

Now the Big Three cry poverty while holding the hands of corrupt and incompetent labor "leaders" tagging along behind who just forced the worst contract in labor history down the throats of auto workers in the United States.

Why should American tax-payers subsidize the Big Three with bailouts when the only thing the government has to do is patiently watch and wait for a few more months and tax-payers will be able to purchase the entire auto industry for fifty cents a share... and Warren Buffett said he got a good deal buying General Motors stock for $3.00 a share.

Why should American tax-payers be taken for a ride when we can get a real bargain and come out the owners of the entire industry for a fraction of what expanding the war in Afghanistan will cost?

Is this socialism? Well, dah! Not quite, but it is getting us there and that is the direction we need to go--- if we want jobs and peace with a healthy economy that puts People Before Profits!

Instead of doing what is right and just--- beginning to redistribute the wealth to the working people who created this wealth; just the opposite is being done.

We need peace.

We need socialized health care.

We need jobs.

We need an indefinite moratorium on all home foreclosures and evictions.

We need a minimum wage that is a real living wage.

We need an end to the robbery at the pumps and at the grocery store.

We need People Before Profits!

Obama doesn't need a "honeymoon" because he has been wedded to the military-financial-industrial complex for a long time--- that he has chosen Rahm Emanuel as his right-hand man only demonstrates the marriage was kept a secret; what Obama does need, like any other dumb donkey, is a good kick in the ass to get him going to do what people voted for him to do.

Of course, for a bunch of dumb donkeys and dumb clucks--- politicians--- who don't see anything wrong with approving "Compacts" creating the Indian Gaming Industry which has resulted in some two-million of their constituents working in more than 450 smoke-filled casinos strung out across this country without any rights at poverty wages with no protections under state or federal labor laws that are protecting all other workers... and for politicians who have refused to rescind the draconian "at-will hiring, at-will firing" legislation in twenty-eight states including Minnesota and Michigan who now turn around, and for political expediency, tout the Employee Free Choice Act as the bone they intend to throw to labor, we don't think these politicians will consider doing what is right by the American people because they are already busy soliciting their pay-offs from big-business, again.

I get a kick out of Barack Obama talking about "cost cutting" in health care when three times more than anything he intends to do could be saved--- not to mention the health of two-million workers--- by ending smoking in casinos... that these dumb donkeys and dumb clucks don't have the common sense to think of such solutions should tell us something about everything else they are doing.

Consider this: Homeowners could have been bailed out by the United States government buying up every mortgage in foreclosure and this still would have been a gift to the Wall Street Bankers.

Think about this: Where would the money going to purchase the mortgages have ended up? In the vaults of the very same bankers!

Now, do you really want to allow these dumb donkeys (Democrats) and dumb clucks (Republicans) to continue on the course they are headed.

We have two choices: capitalism or socialism; take your pick.

Goddamn it! Who is in trouble, and who needs the help?

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Can We Talk About the Real Obama Now?

This is the very best article--- Can We Talk About the Real Obama Now? (see below)--- I have read about Barack Obama--- several months late; but late is better than never.

I hope this will be circulated very widely in the interest of open dialogue, discussion and debate because we have a very difficult struggle ahead.

This essay deserves widespread distribution and serious discussion and consideration.

I have highlighted some of the things from this essay which I think need to be explored more in-depth.

In my opinion, maybe not to the author, it is very clear who groomed and put Obama where he is today. State-monopoly capitalism needs this flim-flam man, or as Smith calls him, a con-man now that the entire capitalist system and imperialism is falling apart, probably, sending us and the entire world, into many years of economic depression and all the misery this entails for working people--- perhaps over twenty years, if not more--- unless working people take the road to socialism; because capitalism is on a very destructive road to perdition and oblivion.

In my opinion there are only three things missing in this essay:

1. Never mentioned is George Lakoff, the linguist, who has prepped the Democratic Party for years now on how to achieve victory at the polls under the guise of “progressivism” without providing one single solution to any problem working people are experiencing.

Lakoff calls this properly framing issues with progressive policy directives while explicitly stating never, ever put forward a solution to any problem because you will lose support and votes from some constituency group.

Lakoff has almost single-handedly made it possible for Democrats to rake in the campaign contributions like never before imagined on the one hand while making these politicians completely lacking in accountability to voters--- especially working class voters.

Please, please take the time to read George Lakoff’s little booklet:
Don’t Think of An Elephant!

I hate to sell his books for him but this one is cheap and it is what the Democratic Party is using to train its politicians and all those they want to keep tethered to this pathetic politics we have become entrapped in as working people.

I cannot stress enough the need for you to read this short little book.

Please note while reading, Lakoff very specifically states Democrats must not bring forward any solutions, rather, the “trick” is to frame issues with a progressive perspective--- and this is why we have been tricked too often by politicians who sound so good.

2. No explanation of the kind of “left” movement required (class struggle is not mentioned), although Sam Smith does use the “left” of the thirties as his example of what will be required (I would encourage the reading of Earl Browder’s: The People’s Front--- no use throwing out the baby with the bath water)… but, this is the topic for another essay which hopefully will be forthcoming from Sam Smith and much discussion by all of us.

In fact, it wouldn’t hurt for people to do a little reading of the history of the “left” of the thirties which so successfully pushed Roosevelt, his Administration and the Congress to come through with the New Deal reform package, from which was omitted socialized health care because there wasn’t quite enough strength from the people’s front.

Check out William Z. Foster’s: “Twilight of Imperialism” and Gus Hall’s: "Working Class USA"… concluding with a good read of Victor Perlo’s: “Super Profits and Crisis” and Beatrice Lumpkin’s: “Always Bring A Crowd, the story of Frank Lumpkin, steelworker” about the struggle to save Wisconsin Steel in Chicago.

Agree with the perspectives put forward in these books, or not; you will thank me for suggesting that you make them part of your arsenal for struggle ahead.

For too long we have all been reading the critiques and criticisms of these ideas without going straight to the source and getting our information “straight from the horse’s mouth” so-to-speak; and really, to continue in this way is very dishonest intellectually and shortchanging yourself from having a slightly different view and perspective on things.

All of these books are available on the Internet quite cheap.

Get these books, read them, study the ideas. Keep them handy because we are in for big, big trouble.

I would also encourage people to read up on Frances Perkins who was the first woman cabinet secretary in U.S history, serving as FDR’s Secretary of Labor… if you are not familiar with the life of Frances Perkins, now is the time to find out about this most important woman in American history as we watch Barack Obama make his cabinet selections… you will find out quickly why our children don’t learn in school about this very concerned and compassionate woman who was in the forefront in making this world a better place for working people to live.

I have never had one single person tell me, after reading these books, that they did not appreciate me suggesting they read these books.

We have a very difficult struggle ahead and we might as well all get acquainted and understand each other and how we view the world.

I look forward to discussing these ideas with all of you.

I, also, look forward to receiving suggestions from you on what you think I might like to read.

3. The only other thing missing from this essay is this pathetically racist stereotype graphic appearing on the “Progressives for Obama” blog--- the same people calling for building a “new ‘New Left’ ”--- as if the old “New Left” was something to be proud of have published this graphic. Quite ironically, the old “New Left” kicked off with its own version of racism, too, with a pamphlet called “Student as N----r;” so, as this graphic so amply demonstrates--- and I am sure any anthropologist will agree--- some things never change in the world of muddle-headed, middle class intellectualism even though they are conceived as being “new:”

Check out this thought-provoking essay and let's talk about it:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


By: Sam Smith

Who is Sam Smith, the writer of this essay:


Over the past few weeks I've been a good boy. I've placed everything
having to do with the real Barack Obama into a futures file and spent
my time on the far grimmer matter of the real John McCain and Sarah

Now the party is over and it's time for people to put away their
Barack and Michelle dolls and start dealing with what has truly

This, I admit, is difficult because the real Obama doesn't exist yet.
He follows in the footsteps of our first postmodern president, Bill
Clinton, who observed the principles outlined by scholar Pauline
Marie Rosenau:

Post-modernists recognize an infinite number of interpretations...of
any text are possible because, for the skeptical post-modernists, one
can never say what one intends with language, [thus] ultimately all
textual meaning, all interpretation is undecipherable.... Many
diverse meanings are possible for any symbol, gesture, word...
Language has no direct relationship to the real world; it is, rather,
only symbolic.

As James Krichick wrote in the New Republic, "Obama is, in his own
words, something of a Rorschach test. In his latest book, The
Audacity of Hope, he writes, 'I am new enough on the national
political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of
vastly different political stripes project their own views.'"

This is remarkably similar to Ted Koppel's description of Vanna White
of TV's Wheel of Fortune: "Vanna leaves an intellectual vacuum, which
can be filled by whatever the predisposition of the viewer happens to

Obama has left the same kind of vacuum. His magic, or con, was that
voters could imagine whatever they wanted and he would do nothing to
spoil their reverie. He was a handsome actor playing the part of the
first black president-to-be and, as in films, he was careful not to
muck up the role with real facts or issues that might harm the
fantasy. Hence the enormous emphasis on meaningless phrases like
hope and change.

Of course, in Obama's postmodern society--one that rises above the
purported false teachings of partisanship--we find ourselves with
little to steer us save the opinions of whatever non-ideologue
happens to be in power. In this case, we may really only have
progressed from the
ideology of the many to the ideology of the one or, some might say,
from democracy to authoritarianism.

The Obama campaign was driven in no small part by a younger
generation trained to accept brands as a substitute for policies. If
the 1960s had happened like this, the activists would have spent all
their time trying to get Martin Luther King or Joan Baez elected
president rather than pursing ancillary issues like ending
segregation and the war in Vietnam.

Obama himself took his vaunted experience in community organizing and
turned its principles on its head. Instead of empowering the many at
the bottom, he used the techniques to empower one at the top:

It is historic that a black has been elected president, but we should
remember that Obama was not running against Bull Connor, George
Wallace or Strom Thurmond. Putting Obama in the same class as
earlier black activists discredits the honor of those who died,
suffered physical harm or were repeatedly jailed to achieve equality.
Obama is not a catalyst of change, but rather its belated
beneficiary. The delay, to be sure, is striking; after all, the two
white elite sports of tennis and golf were integrated long before
presidential politics, but Washington-as Phil Hart said of
the Senate-has always been a place that always does things twenty
years after it should have.

There is an informative precedent to Obama's rise. Forty-two years
ago Edward Brooke became the first black senator to be elected with a
majority of white votes. Brooke was chosen from Massachusetts as a
Republican in a state that was 97% white.

Jason Sokol, who teaches history at the University of Pennsylvania,
wrote in History News Network:

"On Election Day, Brooke triumphed with nearly 60 percent of the
vote. Newspapers and magazines hummed with approval. The Boston
Globe invoked a legacy that included the Pilgrims, Daniel Webster,
and Charles Sumner, offering the Bay State as the nation's racial and
political pioneer.

Journalist Carl Rowan was among the unconvinced. For whites, voting
for Brooke became "a much easier way to wipe out guilt feelings about
race than letting a Negro family into the neighborhood or shaking up
a Jim Crow school setup." Polling numbers lent credence to Rowan's
unease. They showed that only 23 percent of Massachusetts residents
approved of a statewide school integration law; just 17 percent
supported open housing."

That's the problem with change coming from the top, as Obama might
have heard when he was involved in real community organizing. It
also helps to explain why there have been no more Catholic presidents
since John Kennedy. Symbolism is not the change we need.

Getting at the reality of Obama is difficult. He performs as the
great black liberal, but since he is one half white and one half
conservative, that doesn't leave him a lot of wiggle room.

To be sure, in the Senate he got good ratings from various liberal
groups, but two things need to be remembered:

First, liberals aren't that liberal any more. Thus getting a 90%
score merely means that you went along with the best that an
extremely conservative Democratic Party was willing to risk. This is
not a party that would, in these times, have passed Social Security,
Medicare or minimum wage. In fact, many liberals aren't much
interested in economic issues at all-especially that portion of the
constituency that controls the money, the media and the message.

Second, politicians reflect their constituency. Obama's constituency
is no longer Illinois. He has a whole new set of folks to pander to.

There is one story from Chicago, however, that remains relevant. A
citizen walks into his alderman's office looking for a job. "Who
sent you?" he asks. "Nobody," he replies. Says the staffer: "We
don't want nobody nobody sent."

Who sent Barack Obama remains a mystery. He has risen from an
unknown state senator to president in exactly four years and that
only happens when somebody sends for you.

The black liberal image falters on a number of other scores including
Obama's affection for extreme right wingers like Chuck Hagel and an
obvious indifference to anybody who votes like, say, a state senator
from Hyde Park.

Think back over the campaign and try to recall a single instance when
Obama reached out to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party or
to the better angels of the Congressional Black Caucus. Instead his
ads attacked as 'extreme' the single payer health insurance backed by
many of his own supporters, he dissed ACORN and Colin Powell was as
radical a black as he wanted to be seen palling around with.

The key issue that has driven Obama throughout his career has been
Obama. He has achieved virtually nothing for any other cause. His
politics reflects whatever elite consensus he gathers around himself.
This is why his "post partisanship" needs to be watched so carefully.
If Bernie Sanders and John Conyers don't get to White House meetings
as often as Chuck Hagel, Obama will glide easily to the right, as
every president has done over the past thirty years. If liberals, as
they did with Clinton, watch without a murmur as their president
redesigns their party to fit his personal ambitions, then the whole
country will continue to move to the right as well.

Since the real Obama doesn't exist yet, it is impossible to predict
with any precision what he will do. But here is some of the evidence
gathered over the past months that should serve both as a warning and
as a prod to progressives not to take today's dreams as a reasonable
facsimile of reality:

Business interests

Advisor Cass Sunstein told Jeffrey Rosen of the NY Times: "I would
be stunned to find an anti-business [Supreme Court] appointee from
either [Clinton or Obama]. There's not a strong interest on the part
of Obama or Clinton in demonizing business, and you wouldn't expect
to see that in
their Supreme Court nominees."

Obama supported making it harder to file class action suits in state
courts. David Sirota in the Nation wrote, "Opposed by most major
civil rights and consumer watchdog groups, this big business-backed
legislation was sold to the public as a way to stop 'frivolous'
lawsuits. But everyone in Washington knew the bill's real objective
was to protect corporate abusers."

He voted for a business-friendly "tort reform" bill.

He voted against a 30% interest rate cap on credit cards.

He had the most number of foreign lobbyist contributors in the

He was even more popular with Pentagon contractors than McCain.

He was most popular of the candidates with K Street lobbyists.

In 2003, rightwing Democratic Leadership Council named Obama as one
of its "100 to Watch." After he was criticized in the black media,
Obama disassociated himself with the DLC. But his major economic
advisor, Austan Goolsbee, is also chief economist of the conservative
organization. Writes Doug Henwood of the Left Business Observer,
"Goolsbee has written gushingly about Milton Friedman and denounced
the idea of a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures."

Added Henwood, "Top hedge fund honcho Paul Tudor Jones threw a
fundraiser for him at his Greenwich house last spring, 'The whole of
Greenwich is backing Obama,' one source said of the posh headquarters
of the hedge fund industry. They like him because they're socially
liberal, up to a point, and probably eager for a little less war, and
think he's the man to do their work. They're also confident he
wouldn't undertake any renovations to the distribution of wealth."

Civil liberties

He supports the war on drugs.

He supports the crack-cocaine sentence disparity.

He supports Real ID.

He supports the PATRIOT Act.

He supports the death penalty.

He opposes lowering the drinking age to 18.

He supported amnesty for telecoms engaged in illegal spying on


He went to Connecticut to support Joe Lieberman in the primary
against Ned Lamont.

Wrote Paul Street in Z Magazine, "Obama has lent his support to the
aptly named Hamilton Project, formed by corporate-neo-liberal
Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and other Wall Street Democrats to
counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the
Democratic Party... Obama was recently hailed as a Hamiltonian
believer in limited government and free trade by Republican New York
Times columnist David Brooks, who praises Obama for having "a
mentality formed by globalization, not the SDS."

Writes the London Times, "Obama is hoping to appoint cross-party
figures to his cabinet such as Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator
for Nebraska and an opponent of the Iraq war, and Richard Lugar,
leader of the Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee.
Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war
veteran and one of McCain's closest friends in the Senate, was
considered an ideal candidate for defense secretary.

Richard Lugar was rated 0% by SANE...rated 0% by AFL-CIO...rated 0%
BY NARAL...rated 12% by American Public Health Association...rated 0%
by Alliance for Retired Americans...rated 27% by the National
Education Association...rated 5% by League of Conservation Voters...
He voted no on implementing the 9/11 Commission report... Voted
against providing habeas corpus for Gitmo prisoners...voted no on
comprehensive test ban treaty...voted against same sex
marriage...strongly anti-abortion...opposed to more federal funding
for healthcare...voted for unconstitutional wiretapping...voted to
increase penalties for drug violations.

Chuck Hagel was rated 0% by NARAL...rated 11% by NAACP...rated 0% by
Human Rights Coalition...rated 100% by Christian Coalition...rated
12% by American Public Health Association...rated 22% by Alliance for
Retired Americans...rated 36% by the National Education
Association...rated 0% by League of Conservation Voters...rated 8% by
AFL-CIO...He is strongly anti-abortion...voted for anti-flag
desecration amendment...voted to increase penalties for drug
violations...favors privatizing Social Security


Obama voted for a nuclear energy bill that included money for bunker
buster bombs and full funding for Yucca Mountain.

He supports federally funded ethanol and is unusually close to the
ethanol industry.

He led his party's reversal of a 25-year ban on off-shore oil


Obama has promised to double funding for private charter schools,
part of a national effort undermining public education.

He supports the No Child Left Behind Act albeit expressing
reservations about its emphasis on testing. Writes Cory Mattson,
"Despite NCLB's loss of credibility among educators and the deadlock
surrounding its attempted reauthorization in 2007, Barack Obama still
offers his support. Even the
two unions representing teachers, both which for years supported
reform of the policy to avoid embarrassing their Democratic Party
'friends,' declared in 2008 that the policy is too fundamentally
flawed to be reformed and should be eliminated."

Fiscal policy

Obama rejected moratoriums on foreclosures and a freeze on rates,
measures supported by his primary opponents John Edwards and Hillary

He was a strong supporter of the $700 billion cash-for-trash banker
bailout plan.

Two of his top advisors are former Goldman Sachs chair Robert Rubin
and Lawrence Summers. Noted Glen Ford of black Agenda Report, "In
February 1999, Rubin and Summers flanked Fed Chief Alan Greenspan on
the cover of Time magazine, heralded as, 'The Committee to Save the
World'. Summers was then Secretary of the Treasury for Bill Clinton,
having succeeded his mentor, Rubin, in that office. Together with
Greenspan, the trio had in the previous year labored successfully to
safeguard derivatives, the exotic 'ticking time bomb' financial
instruments, from federal regulation."

Robert Scheer notes that "Rubin, who pocketed tens of millions
running Goldman Sachs before becoming treasury secretary, is the man
who got President Clinton to back legislation by then-Sen. Phil
Gramm, R-Texas, to unleash banking greed on an unprecedented scale."

Obama's fund-raising machine has been headed by Penny Prtizker former
chair of the Superior Bank, one of the first to get into subprime
mortgages. While she resigned as chair of the family business in
1994, as late as 2001 she was still on the board and wrote a letter
saying that her family was recapitalizing the bank and pledging to
"once again restore Superior's leadership position in subprime
lending." The bank shut down two months later and the Pritzker
family would pay $460 million in a settlement with the government.

Foreign policy

Obama endorsed US involvement in the failed drug war in Colombia:
"When I am president, we will continue the Andean Counter-Drug

He has expressed a willingness to bomb Iran and won't rule out a
first strike nuclear attack.

He has endorsed bombing or invading Pakistan to go after Al Qaeda in
violation of international law. He has called Pakistan "the right
battlefield...in the war on terrorism".

He supports Israeli aggression and apartheid. Obama has deserted
previous support for two-state solution to Mid East situation and
refuses to negotiate with Hamas.

He has supported Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel, saying "it must
remain undivided."

He favors expanding the war in Afghanistan.

Although he claims to want to get out of Iraq, his top Iraq advisor
wrote that America should keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in

Obama, in his appearances, blurred the difference between combat
soldiers and other troops.

He indicated to Amy Goodman that he would leave 140,000 private
contractors and mercenaries in Iraq because "we don't have the troops
to replace them".

He has called Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez an enemy of the United
States and urged sanctions against him.

He claimed "one of the things that I think George H. W. Bush doesn't
get enough credit for was his foreign policy team and the way that he
helped negotiate the end of the Cold War and prosecuted the Gulf War.
That cost us $20 billion dollars. That's all it cost. It was
extremely successful. I
think there were a lot of very wise people."

He has hawkish foreign policy advisors who have been involved in past
US misdeeds and failures. These include Zbigniew Brzezinski, Anthony
Lake, General Merrill McPeak, and Dennis Ross.

It has been reported that he might well retain as secretary of
defense Robert Gates who supports actions in violation of
international law against countries merely suspected of being
unwilling or unable to halt threats by militant groups.


Obama opposes gay marriage. He wouldn't have photo taken with San
Francisco mayor because he was afraid it would seem that he supported
gay marriage


Obama opposes single payer healthcare or Medicare for all.


Obama would expand the size of the military.

National Service

Obama favors a national service plan that appears to be in sync with
one being promoted by a new coalition that would make national
service mandatory by 2020, and with a bill requiring such mandatory
national service introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel.

He announced in Colorado Springs last July, "We cannot continue to
rely on our military in order to achieve the national security
objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security
force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

On another occasion he said, "It's also important that a president
speaks to military service as an obligation not just of some, but of
many. You know, I traveled, obviously, a lot over the last 19
months. And if you go to small towns, throughout the Midwest or the
Southwest or the South, every town has tons of young people who are
serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's not always the case in other
parts of the country, in more urban centers. And I think it's
important for the president to say, this is an important obligation.
If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some."

Some have seen this as a call for reviving the draft.

He has attacked the exclusion of ROTC on some college campuses.

Presidential crimes

Obama aggressively opposed impeachment actions against Bush. One of
his key advisors, Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago Law
School, said prosecuting government officials risks a "cycle" of
criminalizing public service.


Unlike his deferential treatment of right wing conservatives, Obama's
treatment of the left has been dismissive to insulting. He dissed
Nader for daring to run for president again. And he called the late
Paul Wellstone "something of a gadfly".

Public Campaign Financing

Obama's retreat from public campaign financing has endangered the
whole concept.

Social welfare

Obama wrote that conservatives and Bill Clinton were right to destroy
social welfare.

Social Security

Early in the campaign, Obama said, "everything is on the table" with
Social Security.


As things now stand, the election primarily represents the extremist
center seizing power back from the extremist right. We have moved
from the prospect of disasters to the relative comfort of mere crises.

Using the word 'extreme' alongside the term 'center' is no
exaggeration. Nearly all major damage to the United States in recent
years-a rare exception being 9/11-has been the result of decisions
made not by right or left but by the post partisan middle: Vietnam,
Iraq, the assault on constitutional liberties, the huge damage to the
environment, and the collapse of the economy-to name a few. Go back
further in history and you'll find, for example, the KKK riddled with
members of the establishment including-in Colorado-a future governor,
senator and mayor after whom Denver's airport is named. The center,
to which Obama pays such homage, has always been where most of the
trouble lies.

The only thing that will make Obama the president pictured in the
campaign fantasy is unapologetic, unswerving and unendingly pressure
on him in a progressive and moral direction, for he will not go there
on his own. But what, say, gave the New Deal its progressive nature
was pressure from the left of a sort that simply doesn't exist today.

Above are listed nearly three dozen things that Obama supports or
opposes with which no good liberal or progressive would agree.
Unfortunately, what's out there now, however, looks more like a rock
concert crowd or evangelical tent meeting than a determined and
directed political constituency. Which isn't so surprising given how
successful our system has been at getting people to accept sights,
sounds, symbols and semiotics as substitutes for reality. Once
again, it looks like we'll have to learn the hard way.

Monday, November 10, 2008

After a Year, Bargaining Set for Casino Workers at Foxwoods


The United Auto Workers and the AFL-CIO have completely evaded the issue of the "Compacts" creating the Indian Gaming Industry.


In Michigan, UAW Lead Lobbyist, Nadine Nosal, was ordered by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger not to vigorously oppose the Gun Lake Casino "Compact" which is embroiled in corruption and controversy. Nosal would only put a check on the "Hearing Card" indicating the UAW opposition to the "Compact."

The Gun Lake Casino "Compact" like the Petoskey Nurses' Strike, seems destined to become one of the longest in the Nation's history to win approval after being mired in corruption and the Jack Abramoff scandal while rumors abound that Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, now appointed by Barack Obama to his Transition Economic Advisory Board may have taken huge cash bribes from Station Casinos like the corruption in Missouri.

Governor Jennifer Granholm has been closely connected to the UAW and it is widely believed that Granholm and the UAW used their connections with the Democratic Party in order to work out a "sweetheart contract" with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation because the UAW became embarrassed that it had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on an organizing drive which was yielding no results.

Speculation is, that in order to save face, the UAW leadership has already determined that they will settle for a contract containing little more than workers have now and the contract will be unenforceable since tribal courts have no jurisdiction and the United States Supreme Court has been heavily biased in favor of the casino industry on all questions.

Gettelfinger is afraid to fight and struggle for justice.

Until the "Compacts" are opened up and have the rights of workers inserted in them casino workers will get no justice... where there is no justice, there can be no peace.

I had requested from United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger that the UAW join the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council in vigorously opposing the Gun Lake Casino "Compact" unless workers' rights under state and federal law are fully included as part of the "Compact."

Unions should not "respect" the "right" of any Nation to be immune from the enforcement of labor laws.

In fact, what this article doesn't discuss in addition to these "Compacts" is that the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation doesn't have any laws protecting the rights of workers nor laws guiding workers' rights to organize unions and collective bargaining.

In addition, the United Auto Workers refuses to negotiate for smoke-free casinos--- this is one of the "pre-negotiation" sweetheart agreements the UAW made with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation which utilizes a mobster dominated and controlled management firm.

Interesting is the fact that this AFL-CIO "Press Release" does not state who the management firm is that the UAW will be bargaining with nor who their attorneys are.

More than two-million casino workers are employed in smoke-filled casinos in the Indian Gaming Industry at more than 450 casinos/resorts/hotels/restaurants/theme parks; all receiving poverty wages.

These "Compacts" have created right-to-work for less, without-any-right colonies, and these "Compacts" have gone unchallenged, and unmentioned, by the UAW and other AFL-CIO unions.

Former Red Lake Nation Chairman Roger Jourdain declared, in response to these draconian "Compacts:" "Indian Law and sovereignty should not be used to deprive Indian people or any other workers of their human rights."

Too bad the United Auto Workers and the AFL-CIO do not understand what Roger Jourdain understood very well.

The United Auto Workers Union is refusing to make public the "agreement" they worked out with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and its management firm... even the Foxwoods casino workers have not been allowed to see and study the "agreement."

I challenge UAW President Ron Gettelfinger to post the "agreement" with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and its management firm on the UAW website... ditto for President John Sweeney and the AFL-CIO... where is the beef!

Yes, where is the beef!

Interestingly enough, the beef, along with all other meats sold in these casinos, does not have to pass any state or federal inspections. Casinos across the country bought up almost the entire shipment of contaminated hamburger unfit for the school lunch programs and they are still serving this beef to casino patrons.

Stanley Crooks of the Mystic Lake Casino empire boasts that he always provides casino patrons with the best deals... the head chef said: What customers don't know isn't going to hurt them... while Melanie Benjamin of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwa is trying to figure out how to get out of her own mess--- now accused of stealing millions of dollars from the huge Grand Casino empire. Plenty of money for these corrupt casino managements, but no money to provide real living wages for casino workers.

There is only one Indian Band in the United States that has labor laws... that is a Band near Saginaw, Michigan, and the "labor law" states that union membership is prohibited.

AFL-CIO President John Sweeney, in pushing for the Employee Free Choice Act refused to state if "card check" legislation would apply to casino workers.

Sweeney has also evaded the issue of "at-will hiring, at-will firing" legislation in effect in twenty-eight states, including Minnesota and Michigan; legislation which will nullify "card check."

While this AFL-CIO and UAW press release states that the UAW represents casino workers in other states; the UAW has yet to negotiate any contracts in the Indian Gaming Industry. The UAW has adamantly refused to consider the rights and special problems of casino workers. The UAW refuses to negotiate a healthy and safe workplace for casino workers by negotiating smoke-free casinos in spite of supporting "Freedom to Breathe" legislation for all other workers in states like Minnesota and Michigan, which has led many casino workers to conclude the only thing the UAW cares about is the dues money to make up for the losses being suffered in the auto industry. One Foxwoods' dealer has said that the UAW has sold out workers before negotiations have even begun... autoworkers would likely agree.

Native American casino workers have branded the UAW a racist union for refusing to include affirmative action clauses in their proposed contracts.

Women of child-bearing age have called the UAW sexist.

Maggie Bird, a Native American and the President of the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council, has noted that there has never been a Native American on the Executive Board of the UAW, and stated: "The UAW leadership has worked with casino managements and the Democratic Party trying to thwart our organizing efforts; the UAW leadership is racist and sexist with complete disregard for health and safety in the workplace. The American Cancer Society and the Heart and Lung Foundation both unequivocally state that young women of child-bearing age are most at risk when exposed to second-hand smoke. Many casino employees are retired elderly workers forced back into the workforce because they cannot make ends meet trying to live on meager Social Security checks and second-hand smoke is a death sentence for these elderly casino workers. Let Ron Gettelfinger try working in a smoke-filled casino."

In connection with the deplorable working conditions in casinos; this e-mail was received:

Dear Mr. Maki:

Thank you for your response to our press release. This sounds like a very serious concern for working women’s health. We would be interested in doing what we could to inform the public about the situation through our research or outreach. I’d like to learn more about the policy levers that you are pursuing to combat this disgusting situation. I was recently in Las Vegas for a conference and was just horrified by the smoke filled casinos among many other things.

In terms of our press release, we were speaking to how Obama’s messages may have resonated with women voters in general – it wasn’t intended to provide opinion on his policy stances, the practices of his campaign funders, or to comment on how all women feel about Obama. .

Barbara Gault, Ph.D.

Acting President

Institute for Women's Policy Research

1707 L St. NW, Washington, DC 20036

202-785-5100, ext. 23


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

After a Year, Bargaining Set for Casino Workers at Foxwoods


by Mike Hall, Nov 3, 2008

More than a year after some 2,600 casino workers voted for a voice with the UAW, contract talks are at last set to begin between the American Indian tribe that owns the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut and the union.

UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn says the agreement with the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation also recognizes the UAW as the workers’ collective bargaining agent. She called the agreement a

first step toward achieving a contract for workers at Foxwoods. It came about because both parties were willing to listen and address each other’s concerns. The Mashantucket Pequots have set an extraordinary example by respecting the rights of workers, and we look forward to building a strong relationship in the future.

The casino is located on the Mashantucket Pequot reservation and the agreement will be negotiated under tribal law, without either party waving their rights to federal labor law.

Jackson King, general counsel of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, says:

The concepts of tribal sovereignty and self-government are very important to all Native American tribes. We are very pleased to have come to an understanding that both acknowledges employees’ rights to join unions and respects the rights of Native American governments.

Following the November 2007 election, the Mashantucket Pequots challenged the election on the grounds that the National Labor Relations Act does not apply to a casino on tribal land. But in July, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) upheld the election and certified the UAW as the workers’ bargaining agent.

Both sides agreed to stay legal actions pending before the NLRB and the U.S. Court of Appeals. According to a UAW press release, if the parties are unable to reach an agreement within five months, either of the parties has the right to have unresolved issues submitted to binding arbitration under the tribal system, which provides for a final decision by a neutral party agreed to by the employer and the union.

Bonnie Forman, a dealer at the casino for more than seven years, says:

Everyone at work is very excited. This is exactly what we have been working for—an opportunity to sit down with management so we can improve our workplace and make Foxwoods the best possible choice for our customers.

The casino is the largest in the United States and ranks second globally. Foxwoods is Connecticut’s largest employer. The UAW represents more than 8,800 casino workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island.