Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

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Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008



By Robert Borosage

Campaign for America’s Future STAFF

September 30th, 2008 - 10:27am ET


September 30, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join the discussion below

Militarism and the economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

People can get along just fine without Wall Street.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 John Sweeney, president, AFL-CIO

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

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

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

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

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

 Leo Gerard, president, United Steelworkers (USW)

 Maude Hurd, national president, ACORN

 Nan Aron, president, Alliance for Justice

 Amy Issacs, national director, Americans for
Democratic Action

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

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

 Deepak Bhargava, president, Center for Community

 Deborah Weinstein, executive director, Coalition for
Human Needs

 Donald Mathis, president, Community Action

 Jane Hamsher, firedoglake.com

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

 Brent Blackwelder, president, Friends of the Earth

 John Cavanagh, director, Institute for Policy Studies

 Sarita Gupta, executive director, Jobs with Justice

 Wade Henderson, president, Leadership Conference on
Civil Rights

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

 Sally Greenberg, executive director, National
Consumers League

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

 Gary Bass, executive director, OMB Watch

 Adam Lioz, program director, Progressive Future

 Joanne Carter, executive director, RESULTS

 William McNary, president, USAction

 Paula Brantner, executive director, Workplace

 Dan Cantor, executive director, Working Families

 Mark Lotwis, executive director, 21st Century

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


Phone: 218-386-2432

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

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

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

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