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...

Sunday, April 26, 2009

At what point do human priorities take precedence over popularity polls?

In my previous post I concluded by asking this question:

At what point do human priorities take precedence over popularity polls?

Yesterday I received an e-mail from Becky Spilde in Madison, Wisconsin asking me why I didn't answer my own question.

I was thinking about this all morning and then I got a call from a peace activist friend who lives near Hancock, Michigan--- Mike Salmi. He asked me the same thing.

Here in the United States human priorities will never take precedence over popularity polls until people are fighting for the things they require to live and make life better and these battles become so overbearing, no one, including the politicians and the media, can ignore the issues and the problems.

Its that old saying: The wheel squeaking the loudest gets the grease.

This is very sad, especially given the fact Barack Obama has taken people suffering and hurting the worst for granted and played people for fools and suckers with all of his talk about "hope" and "change" knowing full well what people hurting and suffering would take those words to mean.

Obama is not just a flim-flam man and opportunist; he is worse. Obama is just plain mean and rotten.

I had a lot of e-mail yesterday after being on Mitch Berg's radio program. Democrats got really riled up because I told Mitch Berg that I couldn't care less if conservatives forced Obama from office or limited him to one term... my statement was something like, "I hope you get Obama out; he is no darn good."

I meant just what I said. Let Obama and the Democrats and Republicans fight among themselves; what do I care, none of them are any darn good. All of them read the popularity polls... as long as the numbers in these polls favor them they couldn't care less if people die in wars or go to school hungry or go without access to health care.

A kid going to school hungry means absolutely nothing to any Democrats or Republicans--- unless people start getting fed up and start becoming very vocal in insisting kids receive a good breakfast and lunch in school for free. When politicians don't respond, their numbers in popularity polls begin to drop, and then they are forced to act if they want to remain in office.

Most of the problems people are experiencing could be solved relatively easily if these politicians really cared.

As I have repeatedly pointed out: Polls don't die in wars; people do.

Caring politicians would say the heck with polls, stop the wars.

To the corrupt politicians in the Democratic and Republican parties they don't care about people dying in their dirty imperialist wars as long as their numbers are high in the popularity polls. The only time they will care about people dying in wars is when their numbers start to drop in the popularity polls... this is the kind of sick capitalist society we are living in.

After voicing my views on Mitch Berg's conservative radio program, a DFL state representative called me all irate and fuming... she said, "How dare you lump us together with the Republicans and tell this right-wing talk show host you hope he and his friends drive Barack Obama from office after everything we do for people."

I asked her, "What exactly have you done for people? What have you done for Minnesota's 40,000 casino workers you are forcing to work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty..." And before I could continue with saying "wages," she slammed down the phone and hung up.

This state representative was angered because I asked her to state what the MNDFL was doing for people. She knew the answer was "nothing."

When I see people making statements like this:

"Labor and its allies now have a friend, a people's advocate" in the White House. ... it is obvious that the Obama administration represents a qualitative break with rightwing extremism and free-market fundamentalism. Not to see this, not to acknowledge this, not to welcome this, no matter whether you live in or outside U.S. borders, is to act like the ostrich that sticks its head in the sand and misses what is happening on the ground. "

It makes me sick.

The jerk who said this has his head up some dumb donkey's ass.

Ask a parent who is forced to send their kid to school hungry what kind of "friend" they have in Barack Obama.

Ask someone losing their home to foreclosure how good a "friend" they have in Barack Obama.

Ask the family of some GI returning "home" stuffed in a body-bag before being placed in a flag-draped coffin to be buried what kind of "friend" they have in Barack Obama.

Ask the thousands of autoworkers losing their jobs and being forced to have their contracts shredded what kind of "friend" they have in Barack Obama.

Ask people in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan whose loved ones are being killed everyday what kind of "friend" they have in Barack Obama.

I wonder why none of the pollsters ever take a poll of just the people hurt and suffering to find out how popular politicians are with them?

As long as Barack Obama is popular in the polls he isn't going to lift a finger to help working people. Why should he? He is Wall Street's friend... working people have never had any friends on Wall Street.

Like I told Mitch Berg... Barack Obama is no better than George Bush.

Something to think about.

Alan L. Maki

Thursday, April 23, 2009

AP Poll: Americans high on Obama, direction of US

Based on conversations with people I talk to I would say this poll is very accurate.

However, one important thing has to be noted: President Barack Obama has yet to receive organized criticism from the left--- those who are being hurt by his policies.

All organized criticism of Obama has come from the right; and make no mistake, Obama is a very conservative and right-wing President--- there is nothing in the least liberal, progressive or left about him no matter how many times Rush Limbaugh or Shawn Hannity call him a "socialist." Obama is clearly Wall Street's man brought in to do a very dirty job which will most likely lead to him being a one-term (or less) President.

Once the people who are having the problems, as cited below, begin to organize Obama will take severe criticism from the left; and the resulting mass movements of the people are likely to have the effect of a new broom sweeping Obama from public office and exposing the Democrats for what they really are: part of the way big-business dominates, manipulates and controls the American people in order to keep Wall Streets profits flowing into the coffers of parasitic vultures who have the high-sounding names of banker, investor and industrialist; what they do in life is live off of the labor of the working class because it is labor, with no small amount of help from Mother Nature, that creates all wealth. We work; they profit. Working people die in their wars; they profit.

There are certain things that no poll can ever consider and this one has not:

- The pain and anguish of those experiencing the death of loved ones dying in wars.

- The pain associated with being unemployed.

- The pain of being foreclosed and evicted from one's home.

- The pain of being homeless.

- The pain of hunger.

- The suffering from not having access to health care.

- The feeling which comes from being illiterate.

- Living in communities where the air, water and land is constantly being contaminated and polluted.

- The deep despair which sets in when looking about one's own community and seeing all of this.

What this poll does not tell us is how many people are living like this--- and that number is in the tens of millions... billions world-wide.

For these people to have any improvement in their lives they will, out of necessity, have to turn left for solutions to their problems.

If these people decide to throw in their lot with the teabaggers there problems will only intensify and worsen--- for some, perhaps many--- without any direction from the left--- it will probably be: live and learn.

It is to Obama's advantage to buy off as much of the middle class liberals, progressives and the left as he can in order to thwart grassroots and rank-and-file initiatives while keeping people confused by calling for hope based upon creating false illusions that the "bottom is in sight."

More and more people are beginning to understand that capitalism is on the skids to oblivion and we are all being dragged in the dark down the rough, bumpy and treacherous road to perdition and there are few exits except those to the left.

Working people need to consider--- than bring forward--- a serious progressive left-wing alternative which includes the socialist solution.

We are not talking about Barack Obama's political future and his survival; we are talking about working people and their families surviving--- something Barack Obama is not concerned with.

We need a people's agenda pushed by a people's lobby that is the voice and expression of a massive, united and militant all-people's front for real change.

No poll has ever felt the pains of hunger or the pains of war; nor has any poll ever put food on the family table, stopped unjust imperialist wars or put people back to work--- working class movements based upon unity and militant, united struggle have.

Any nation that can finance and fund more than 800 foreign military bases dotting the globe as the United States does, certainly has the wealth to do much better than it is by its own people.

What we need instead of 800 U.S. military bases on foreign soil is 800 public health care centers scattered across the United States strategically placed to bring free health care to everyone.

You know, just to show how really screwed up Barack Obama's priorities really are (as if fighting three imperialist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan isn't enough to demonstrate his criminal uncaring incompetence); Barack Obama wants to bring broadband communications into every home instead of making sure every family has access to health care first. If this doesn't reflect Obama's screwed up priorities I don't know what does.

Something to think about around the dinner table while discussing this poll...

At what point do human priorities take precedence over popularity polls?

Alan L. Maki


Apr 23, 6:35 AM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - For the first time in years, more Americans than not say the country is headed in the right direction, a sign that Barack Obama has used the first 100 days of his presidency to lift the public's mood and inspire hopes for a brighter future.

Intensely worried about their personal finances and medical expenses, Americans nonetheless appear realistic about the time Obama might need to turn things around, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. It shows most Americans consider their new president to be a strong, ethical and empathetic leader who is working to change Washington.

Nobody knows how long the honeymoon will last, but Obama has clearly transformed the yes-we-can spirit of his candidacy into a tool of governance. His ability to inspire confidence - Obama's second book is titled "The Audacity of Hope" - has thus far buffered the president against the harsh political realities of two wars, a global economic meltdown and countless domestic challenges.

"He presents a very positive outlook," said Cheryl Wetherington, 35, an independent voter who runs a chocolate shop in Gardner, Kan. "He's very well-spoken and very vocal about what direction should be taken."

Other AP-GfK findings could signal trouble for Obama:

_While there is evidence that people feel more optimistic about the economy, 65 percent said it's difficult for them and their families to get ahead. More than one-third know of a family member who recently lost a job.

_More than 90 percent of Americans consider the economy an important issue, the highest ever in AP polling.

_Nearly 80 percent believe that the rising federal debt will hurt future generations, and Obama is getting mixed reviews at best for his handling of the issue.

And yet, the percentage of Americans saying the country is headed in the right direction rose to 48 percent, up from 40 percent in February. Forty-four percent say the nation is on the wrong track.

Not since January 2004, shortly after the capture of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, has an AP survey found more "right direction" than "wrong direction" respondents. The burst of optimism didn't last long in 2004.

And it doesn't happen much.

Other than that blip five years ago, pessimism has trumped optimism in media polls since shortly after the invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003.

The "right track" number topped "wrong direction" for a few months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, according to non-AP media polls, and for several months late in the Clinton administration.

So far, Obama has defied the odds by producing a sustained trend toward optimism. It began with his election.

In October 2008, just 17 percent said the country was headed in the right direction. After his victory, that jumped to 36 percent. It dipped a bit in December but returned to 35 percent around the time of his inauguration and has headed upward since.

Obama is keenly aware that his political prospects are directly linked to such numbers. If at the end of his term the public is no more assured that Washington is competent and accountable and that the nation is at least on the right track, his re-election prospects will be doubtful.

Obama himself has conceded as much.

"I will be held accountable," he said a few weeks into his presidency. "You know, I've got four years. ... If I don't have this done in three years, then there's going to be a one-term proposition."

The AP-GfK poll suggests that 64 percent of the public approves of Obama's job performance, down just slightly from 67 percent in February. President George W. Bush's approval ratings hovered in the high 50s after his first 100 days in office.

But Obama has become a polarizing figure, with just 24 percent of Republicans approving of his performance - down from 33 percent in February. Obama campaigned on a promise to end the party-first mind-set that breeds gridlock in Washington.

Most Americans say it's too soon to tell whether he's delivered on his promise to change Washington. But twice as many say Obama is living up to his promises as those who say he's not (30 percent to 15 percent).

Worries about losing their jobs, facing major medical expenses, seeing investments dive and paying their bills remain high among Americans, the poll shows, just slightly lower than two months ago.

Still, seven in 10 Americans say it is reasonable to expect it to take longer than a year to see the results of Obama's economic policies.

Just as many people say Obama understands the concerns of ordinary Americans and cares about "people like you."

That's a sharp contrast to Bush, who won re-election in 2004 despite the fact that 54 percent of voters on that Election Day said he cared more about large corporations than ordinary Americans.

A majority of Americans believe the Obama administration is following higher ethical standards than the Bush administration.

Most also say he's changing things about the right amount and at the right speed. But nearly a third say he's trying to change too many things too quickly.

Obama is not the first president who sought to tap the deep well of American optimism - the never-say-die spirit that Americans like to see in themselves.

Even as he briefly closed the nation's banks, Franklin Delano Roosevelt spoke in the first days of his presidency of the "confidence and courage" needed to fix the U.S. economy. "Together we cannot fail," he declared.

In the malaise following Jimmy Carter's presidency, Ronald Reagan reminded people that America has always seen itself as a "shining city upon a hill," as one of its earliest leaders, John Winthrop, put it.

Obama started his presidency on a dour note, describing the U.S. economy in nearly apocalyptic terms for weeks as he pushed his $787 billion stimulus plan through Congress.

He turned the page in late February, telling a joint session of Congress and a television audience of millions: "We will rebuild. We will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before."

Of those who say the country is on the right track in the AP-GfK poll, 73 percent are Democrats, 17 percent are independents and 10 percent are Republicans.

"When Obama came in," said D.T. Brown, 39, a Mount Vernon, Ill., radio show host who voted against Obama, "it was just a breath of fresh air."

Others said their newfound optimism had nothing to do with Obama, but rather with an era of personal responsibility they believe has come with the economic meltdown.

"I think people are beginning to turn in that direction and realize that there's not always going to be somebody to catch them when things fall down," said Dwight Hageman, 66, a retired welder from Newberg, Ore., who voted against Obama.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted April 16-20 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media. It involved telephone interviews on landline and cell phones with 1,000 adults nationwide. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.


Associated Press News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and AP writer Christine Simmons contributed to this report.


On the Net:

Poll site: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Indian Health Summit

-----Original Message-----

From: Alan Maki [mailto:amaki000@centurytel.net]

Sent: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 8:47 PM


Joan Kim
Phone: 301-897-2789 x117
Fax: 301-897-9587
Email: jkim@thehillgroup.com or

Kimi De León
Phone: 301-897-2789 x132
Fax: 301-897-9587
Email: kdeleon@thehillgroup.com

Cc: 'Jim Hart'; 'John Kolstad'; 'Kip Sullivan'; 'Carl Levin'; 'Sen.Jim Carlson'; 'rep.bill.hilty@house.mn'; 'rep.tom.anzelc@house.mn'; 'rep.tom.Rukavina@house.mn'; 'rep.tony.sertich@house.mn'; 'ddepass@startribune.com'; 'mmiron@bemidjipioneer.com'; 'bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com'; 'Chris Spotted Eagle'; 'jgoldstein@americanrightsatwork.org'; 'teresa_detrempe@klobuchar.senate.gov'; 'peter.erlinder@wmitchell.edu'; 'peter.makowski@mail.house.gov'; 'esquincle@verizon.net'; 'Walter Tillow'; 'nursenpo@gmail.com'; 'Steve Early'; 'Joshua Frank'; 'Ta, Minh'; 'Rhoda Gilman'; 'David Shove'; 'ken nash'; 'Ken Pentel'; 'WCS-A@yahoogroups.com'; 'MARKOWIT@history.rutgers.edu'; 'tdennis@gfherald.com'; 'Myers, John'; 'loneagle@paulbunyan.net'; 'Thomas Kurhajetz'; 'mhoney@u.washington.edu'; 'moderator@portside.org'; 'debssoc@sbcglobal.net'; 'Tom Meersman'; 'peterb3121@hotmail.com'; 'laurel1@dailyjournal-ifalls.com'; 'jscannel@aflcio.org'; 'rgettel@uaw.net'; 'gdubovich@usw.org'; 'info@jamesmayer.org'; 'mzweig@notes.cc.sunysb.edu'; 'rachleff@macalester.edu'; 'advocate@stpaulunions.org'; 'elizabeth_reed@levin.senate.gov'; 'Alan Uhl'; 'Charles Underwood'


Re: Question on Indian Health Summit

To whom it may concern;

Could you tell me if there will be a discussion at the Indian Health Summit--- July 7-9, 2009 in Denver, Colorado--- concerning the issue of casino workers in the Indian Gaming Industry and the impact to their health of second hand smoke in their workplaces?

Link: http://conferences.thehillgroup.com/healthsummit/contact.html

Could you advise me if there have been any discussions about this with the American Cancer Society and/or the Heart and Lung Foundation?

I am very concerned since I find nothing on this important topic among any of the materials you are distributing for the Indian Health Summit.

With health care costs become an important topic for discussion it would seem that this issue would at least merit some kind of mention at an Indian Health Summit considering the large number of Native Americans employed in the Indian Gaming Industry.

Perhaps you would be interested in having me address one of the plenary sessions since this topic has not been considered previously.

I would point out that I have contacted my of the local offices and administrators of the Indian Health Services concerning this issue and no one will speak to me.

With the Indian Health Services being part of the Department of Interior and associated with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, it would only seem logical that no further casino “Compacts” would be approved unless they contain provisions banning and prohibiting smoking.

I would also suggest that the Indian Health Services insist that all existing “Compacts” be re-opened so a ban and prohibition on smoking can be inserted into them.

“Compacts” are nothing more than contracts and the Obama Administration has seen fit to insist that previously negotiated contracts with labor unions be re-negotiated so there is definitely a precedent that has been established for doing this and I am sure you will agree with me that there could not be a better argument made for renegotiating these “Compacts” than to protect the health of hundreds of thousands of workers employed in these casinos who, in addition to working in these smoke-filled working environments are not protected under any state or federal labor laws, which makes this problem of being employed in a work environment detrimental to human health even a more serious concern.

Perhaps the Indian Health Services could make a recommendation to the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Secretary of the Department of Interior that the Secretary of Labor, Hilda Solis, becomes involved so that the protection of casino workers’ rights under all state and federal labor laws protecting all other workers in the United States be included at the time the Compacts are re-opened to protect the health of casino workers.

If you have any doubts second-hand smoke contributes to an unhealthy work environment and that second-hand smoke is recognized as a leading contributor to a variety of cancers and heart and lung diseases please do not hesitate to request additional information. I will be more than happy to attend your Indian Health Care Summit with the necessary resource materials.

With some two-million workers now employed in the Indian Gaming Industry we want to make sure everything possible is being done to protect the health and well-being of these workers.

If I have addressed this letter to the wrong persons, would you please provide me with the name of the proper person/s and department/s this letter should be sent to.

If you think this issue concerning the impact of second-hand smoke on the health of casino workers is not significant enough to be discussed at the Indian Health Summit would you be so kind as to advise me of your decision and how it was reached?

Thanking you in advance for your timely consideration;

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

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

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk


Cc: Maggie Bird
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Truth About Tea Parties and Teabaggers

This post by right-wing bigot Nancy L. LaRoche to the "e-democracy forum" pretty much tells us the truth behind all the statements coming from the two-bit, half-assed fascist right-wing talk radio big-mouths who host these programs that somehow these teabaggers are putting on some kind of "non-partisan" events open to all who decry wasteful government spending.

Check out this response to me very closely because the truth is in what Nancy L. LaRoche posted in opposition to what I posted.

Here is what I posted which she is responding to:

Alan wrote: "Yes, you want people to attend your "Tea Party" rallies but you exclude those with a left view from speaking... wow! Real democratic.

Invite me to speak; I'll be there."

Now, notice what she says:

Alan: Do you leftist protesters pass their bullhorns and allow the other side to speak at their rallies?

This is a very frank admission that only those from the right side of the political spectrum are welcome at these "Tea Parties."

This statement here makes Mitch Berg, Chris Baker, Shawn Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the chicken shit patriot crowd so eager to send others off to kill and die in these dirty imperialist wars being waged for control of the oil fields and gas pipeline routes along with regional domination and control of the poppy and heroin trade nothing but outright liars afraid to defend their fascist, racist, warmongering, pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist ideas. They lie when they say these "Tea Parties" were organized by "concerned citizens" from grassroots, when, in fact, these right-wing bigots and blowhards of talk radio have organized these "Tea Parties" for two reasons: 1.) As promotional publicity stunts to promote the now largely discredited right-wing talk radio; and, 2.) To try to move the country further to the right THAN WHAT BARACK OBAMA, THE DEMOCRATS AND THE WALL STREET CROWD are already trying to take us. Make no mistake, Barack Obama is not liberal, progressive or left in any sense of the meaning of these words... Obama is definitely not a "socialist" as these racist, bigots of right-wing talk radio are charging.

In other words, the teabaggers are not going to allow me (or any known "leftist" to address their Tax Day Rallies with the message that military spending is wasteful government spending.

The organizers of these "Tea Parties" do not want people hearing the truth that the most excessive, wasteful government spending is for wars and militarism.

These right-wing blow-hards like Mitch Berg are afraid to have me addressing their crowds saying things like:

The United States government, dominated by Wall Street bankers and coupon clippers, is wasting trillions upon trillions of dollars of tax-payer monies borrowed from Wall Street bankers and plunging our nation into debt to finance a vast and far-flung network of over 800 U.S. military bases on foreign soil dotting all parts of the globe with the only purpose of protecting Wall Steet's profits and investments in low wage areas to steal resources instead of building 800 public health care centers right here in the United States providing free health care from cradle to grave for everyone.

Now, this self-avowed, Bircher--- this two-bit, half-assed fascist--- Nancy L. LaRoche declares that I have denied people with differing viewpoints from my own the right to speak at anti-war rallies.

This is another outright and brazen two-faced lie and she is well aware she is a liar in making this statement.

I have never in my life prevented anyone--- from any political perspective or persuasion--- with an anti-war view to speak at any anti-war rally.

To the extent it has been within my power (as one vote on a committee), I have never allowed anyone with a pro-war view to speak at an anti-war rally.

Why would I give consideration to anyone with a pro-war view to speak at an "anti-war rally?" Only a complete idiot and fool like this Birchite, Nancy L. LaRoche, would make such a statement... it is up to her and her warmongering friends who support these wars but never go off to fight them to organize their own "pro-war rallies."

However, I have organized (and participated as a debater in debates I had no part in organizing) dozens of debates all over Minnesota--- some ninety debates, in fact--- prior to the start of the war in Iraq, around the question and issue:

Should the United States Government Go To War in Iraq?

Participants in these debates, generally consisted of two or three pro and con views. As the main organizer of these debates across Minnesota I did not seek out and select participants according to my personal left-wing views. In fact, these debates included retired military people--- both pro and con--- on the question and the issue. In fact, there were even some right-wing talk show hosts who participated in these debates--- several times as the moderators. Not once was I ever accused of stacking these debates. And not once was the discourse anything but cordial. I would note, the bigots and the Birchites did condemn these debates because they included the anti-war view! You see, these two-bit, half-assed fascists do not believe in democracy or any concept of democracy. To them, democracy is only them getting out their views. These is an obviously perverted view of democracy; the same perverted view of democracy that almost thoroughly permeates right-wing talk radio--- with a very few notable exceptions of those who hold genuinely conservative views but welcome all other views into the "battle of ideas in our modern world."

Nancy L. LaRoche intentionally tries to blend "debate" with demonstrations and rallies. She does this intentionally as do all of her bigoted friends because they know that people get their ideas together when they hear the many sides to these complex and complicated questions in the process of public and democratic debate--- and, then, after formulating opinions based upon what they believe to be the best information they can gather; from this informed position they go out a try to convince others to rally and demonstrate with them to try to move government, corporations or whatever in the direction they think society should be moving.

But, where has the debate been on the Obama/Wall Street agenda?

In fact, there has been no debate.

In fact, the "left" which our bigoted, Birchite friend Nancy L. LaRoche so bemoans, has had no voice what-so-ever in a debate, which I would remind the reader, has largely been an attack on socialism.

Denying a voice to the adherents of the socialist viewpoint and perspective under these circumstances can hardly pass for democracy.

By Nancy L. LaRoche's own words here, these "Tea Party" and tax-protests are nothing more than right-wing rallies; her own words give lie to the words of those like Mitch Berg, Chris Baker, Shawn Hannity and Rush Limbaugh along with the "fair and unbiased" FOX news crew that these rallies are anything but anti-communist, pro-war and pro-corporate bash the working class and attack the rest of the world rallies.

That two-bit, half-assed fascists from both the Republican and Democratic Parties participate in these rallies does not mean these rallies are open to all who oppose wasteful government spending; it means that those on the right from both political parties support and sponsor--- and exclude--- anyone not right-wing from participation.

After all, when you openly state as Nancy L. LaRoche has done that "leftists for peace" are excluded; here in the state of Minnesota you are excluding a good 40% of the population.

And, if you are "not going to pass the bullhorn" to leftists to speak about their concerns about inappropriate government spending no one, not Mitch Berg or Chris Baker or Shawn Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, can make the claim they are speaking for all Americans... they are speaking for a very, very narrow slice of America... perhaps 3% to 4% of the population... no more than this.

But, here we are supposedly talking about bringing people of "all political persuasions together" in these Tea Parties who are opposed to "government waste."

Are these "Tea Parties" also "pro-war parties and rallies?" If we listen to Nancy L. LaRoche they really are.

Not only do the American people have to ask:

Where is the change?

We also have to ask:

Where are the debates on these issues?

Nancy L. LaRoche knew better than to demand the microphone at an anti-war rally because she was pro-war.

In her small little demented and perverted mind, patriotism is equated with being pro-war. Waving a flag is equated with being pro-war. That she convinced someone to put down a peace sign and hold the American flag tells us absolutely nothing... did she convince that person to become pro-war? No. And she knows it. That person waved the American flag to demonstrate that peace is patriotic, and war is unpatriotic.

I'm not a "flag-waver" but I will stand my patriotism for this country up against the chicken shit patriotism of these right-wing bigots hosting these Fox radio programs any day... and it they who run from the challenge of debating these issues.

That they can convince a few stupid fools like Nancy L. LaRoche to join them tells us everything we need to know about this perverted crowd of "teabaggers."

Nancy L. LaRoche tells us that she and her friends "don't bite." However, they sure want to give the working class a good "teabagging."

"Come out and understand out side" Nancy L. LaRoche, requests. Other than a bunch of chauvinistic, jingoistic, racist crap decrying socialism based upon a caricature of socialism the teabaggers have created in order to knock down like some strawman in order to proclaim victory, what is Nancy L. LaRoche's "side?"

Teabaggers have more in common with the "steal the land from the Indians," pro-slavery, pro-Hitler crowd than with the sons and daughters of the American Revolution and Tom Paine and Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson.

Again, I reiterate my suggestion for real--- face-to-face--- debates in every city where the teabaggers are planning their events... come on Nancy L. LaRoche, your idols Mitch Berg and Chris Baker refuse to debate me... let's me and you tour these sixteen cities debating the issues involved... let's me and you debate what constitutes wasteful government spending...

bak, bak, bak, baaakkk, bak, bak, baakk, baaakkkkk, bak, bak.

No doubt Hitler was a "teabagger," just like Mitch Berg and Chris Baker in every sense of the word.

Something to think about around the dinner table--- if you can keep from gagging.

Yours in the struggle,

Alan L. Maki

From a posting to "e-democracy" to which the "moderator," Rick Mons, would not allow me the above response.

The posting was from: Nancy L LaRoche Date: 07:23 CDT Short link

Alan Maki wrote:

"Yes, you want people to attend your "Tea Party" rallies but you
exclude those with a left view from speaking... wow! Real democratic.

Invite me to speak; I'll be there."

Alan: Do you leftist protesters pass their bullhorns and allow the other side to speak at their rallies? I've attended some anti-war protests and had great conversations with those opposed to my views. I didn't demand the microphone.

In fact, at one three years ago I made friends with a homeless Native American
who was given an anti-war sign to carry. After we talked for a while, he put
his sign down and picked up a flag. That's what democracy is - the right to
have differing opinions and discuss openly with others. You seem to want to
dismiss and shut up those who disagree.

Come out and talk with us May 2. Try to understand our side face to face.
Again, we don't bite.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is American "science" taking the road to fascism along with the "tea baggers?"

In this article below a group of scientists and professors claim that "over population" is the number one environmental problem we are facing. This smacks of a fascist mentality.

Notice: climate change comes in second and a failed capitalist system isn’t even questioned; and, there isn’t a single mention about the need for peace and to re-order priorities away from war and military spending.

This in spite of the fact that militarism and production for war has consumed almost thirty percent of all the iron ore mined on the Iron Ranges of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan in the last one-hundred and thirty-five years and there is no figure available that I can find documenting how much industrial production has been wasted on militarism and war.

How is it that this kind of group of scientists would not even consider militarism and wars after the Black Forest of Europe and huge, huge tracts of forested land in the Soviet countries and all over the rest of Europe have been destroyed in two major wars? Not to mention the number of trees that have been required to rebuild from wars and the forestry requirements to fight wars.

That these scientists can get away with this kind of “study” in the name of science is atrocious… it demonstrates the weaknesses of the anti-war, anti-imperialist movements in this country and the poor job environmentalists have done in demonstrating the impact of militarism and war on our ecosystems.

Nor does this reflect the tremendous waste under capitalism.

Instead, too many people are the primary problem; and, it has been the capitalist system of production which has encouraged an out of control population… if everyone was assured a decent job with adequate pay with a real education where real life problems from war to socialism to population could be freely discussed free from religious reaction population would not even be a question.

But note: this article claims 100 million people on earth would be good; but 10 million would be better.

What kind of “science” is this?

We have to ask: Where are the professors and educational community who should be on top of exposing a “study” like this with such a conclusion?

Rather than looking at population as it is and what needs to be done to create a better world, we get this.

Tax-payer funds are being used for something as racist and anti-working class as this. This is what passes for “science” in the United States.

Where are the progressive voices of the university community? Out cheering Barack Obama on?

Note where protection of our freshwater aquifers is--- right at the bottom.

Not a single mention that the capitalist mode of production and the corporate drive for profits has largely driven the population explosion.

And, we need to ask: Where is the challenge to this from the student movements?

Where is the left-wing media to take this kind of report on?

One can only imagine what scientists like Albert Einstein would have to say about this kind of study coming out of an American University.

Alan L. Maki


Science News


Worst Environmental Problem? Overpopulation, Experts Say

ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2009) — Overpopulation is the world’s top environmental issue, followed closely by climate change and the need to develop renewable energy resources to replace fossil fuels, according to a survey of the faculty at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Just in time for Earth Day (April 22) the faculty at the college, at which environmental issues are the sole focus, was asked to help prioritize the planet’s most pressing environmental problems.

Overpopulation came out on top, with several professors pointing out its ties to other problems that rank high on the list.

“Overpopulation is the only problem,” said Dr. Charles A. Hall, a systems ecologist. “If we had 100 million people on Earth — or better, 10 million — no others would be a problem.” (Current estimates put the planet’s population at more than six billion.)

Dr. Allan P. Drew, a forest ecologist, put it this way: “Overpopulation means that we are putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than we should, just because more people are doing it and this is related to overconsumption by people in general, especially in the ‘developed’ world.”

“But, whether developed or developing,” said Dr. Susan Senecah, who teaches the history of the American environmental movement, “everyone is encouraged to ‘want’ and perceive that they ‘need’ to consume beyond the planet’s ability to provide.”

The ESF faculty pointed to climate change as the second most-pressing issue, with the need to develop renewable energy resources to replace fossil fuels coming in third.

“Experimenting with the earth’s climate and chemistry has great risks,” said Dr. Thomas E. Amidon, who invented a process for removing energy-rich sugars from wood and fermenting those sugars into ethanol. “This is a driver in climate change and loss of biodiversity and is a fundamental problem underlying our need to strive for sustainability.”

Rounding out the top 10 issues on the ESF list are overconsumption, the need for more sustainable practices worldwide, the growing need for energy conservation, the need for humans to see themselves as part of the global ecosystem, overall carbon dioxide emissions, the need to develop ways to produce consumer products from renewable resources, and dwindling fresh water resources.


Adapted from materials provided by SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, via Newswise.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk


Thursday, April 16, 2009

An open letter to "Tea Party" activists

What I see in your Tea Party "movement" is:

1. racism
2. vicious anti-communism
3. warmongers
4. people sucked in by Wall Street
5. a gross distortion of "patriotism."

I would encourage all of you to read "Citizen Tom Paine" by Howard Fast and his other historical novels on the American Revolution to get some kind of basic grounding and understanding as to what constitutes fighting for freedom, justice and liberty.

You really have a very shallow understanding of the issues.

For instance---

Why no mention of this "little" fact:

Our government is wasting trillions of dollars maintaining over 800 U.S. military bases on foreign soil dotting the globe in countries where we have no business when, instead, we should be establishing 800 public health care centers spread out across the United States providing free health care for everyone.

It is easy for you all to say things like you do using assumed names and monikers... I am wondering if you would dare to say such pathetically stupid, harmful and hurtful things if you had to sign your real names and provide contact information?

I would challenge any of you to debate these issues: anytime, anyplace anywhere.

Any takers?

Bak, bak, bak, bak, baaakkk, bak, bak, bak, baaaaakkkkkkkk.

Just a bunch of chicken shit patriots.

Give me a call if you can converse intelligently.

Alan L. Maki

Please note: for the fourth time I placed this comment (above) on the official Minnesota Tea Party blog and each time I received this message:

Please Note: Your comment is awaiting moderation.

And my comment has never been posted. So much for these Wall Street manipulated puppets believing in democracy.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Barack Obama sees "glimmers of hope"

Today, Barack Obama sees, "glimmers of hope."

Does anyone other than Obama see these "glimmers of hope?"

But, where's the change?

Barack Obama says the housing market is key to economic recovery.

Others say different.

I don't know what they are growing in that White House garden, but Obama must be puffing on something other than ordinary tobacco because he also said today that "home losses" were a big part of the "hardships" Americans are being forced to endure while the media is telling us one out of every nine homes in this country is not occupied and he is doing nothing to stop the foreclosures and evictions when a moratorium for the duration of this depression would be so easy--- especially if he is seeing "glimmers of hope."

These two articles tend to tell us Barack Obama is wrong and hallucinating when he says he sees, "glimmers of hope" and that "the housing market is key to economic recovery."

We really do need to take some time to study this situation because if the President of the United States and his economic advisers don't know what is required for "economic recovery" any more than his military advisers understand what constitutes peace we are in some real deep doo-doo.

Quite frankly, I think we have some way over-paid economists being led around by a President who hides behind the skirt of Rosy Scenario and this definitely does not bode well for us working people.

If the auto and steel industries don't work, the housing problem sure can't be fixed.

What is interesting is that China has become the world's largest steel AND auto producer.

Anyone care to figure out how all of this fits together in a world faced with a global capitalist economic melt-down?

Check out these articles; one from Canada and China, the other from France:

Global steel industry awaits auto turnaround


PARIS (AFP) – Steel is on edge and the global industry is cutting back hard, hanging on for either a budget blast from China, new credit for vast Middle Eastern building schemes or resurrection of the US auto industry.

Demand has dwindled and steelmakers, notably the giant of them all, ArcelorMittal, are damping down surplus furnace capacity while waiting for credit to flow, construction cranes to turn and factories to roll.

A decision by ArcelorMittal last week to pursue temporary production cutbacks, slashing European output by more than half from the end of April according to a union source, dramatises the extraordinary ride and role of steel in the last few years.

In just months the global industry has gone from a boom driven largely by China, emerging markets and a property extravaganza in the Middle East to a narrow line between excess capacity and the costs of waiting for recovery.

"Over the past six months, demand for steel has dropped dramatically and, as a result, producers have been cutting production," analysts at Barclays Capital said in a study last week.

In another report, Morgan Stanley predicted "the current demand shock to lead to excess steel capacity."

Consequently, the bank said, steel plants should operate at rates below 75 percent of capacity until 2012.

"The steel market is not very different from base metals as a whole, but steel has reacted more rapidly and dramatically since September," said commodities analyst Perrine Faye of London-based FastMarkets.

She said the future of the steel industry depended on three factors -- the impact of Chinese economic stimulus efforts, a pick-up in the Middle East construction sector and a revival of the once mighty US auto industry.

"Chinese imports and exports are at a standstill. Everyone is waiting for the Chinese stimulus package to see if it will revive demand."

The Chinese government last month announced a four-trillion-yuan (580-billion-dollar) package of measures that it said could contribute 1.5 to 1.9 percent to the country's economic growth.

Industry experts have meanwhile spoken optimistically of China's prospects.

Thomas Albanese, chief executive at steel maker Rio Tinto, said earlier this year that the company foresaw "a short, sharp slowdown in China, with demand rebounding over the course of 2009, as the fundamentals of Chinese economic growth remain sound."

Analysts have said steel inventories are falling in China in anticipation of projects expected to emerge from the country's huge stimulus package.

"It is encouraging that the inventory of steel products, especially long products, which are mostly used in construction projects, have started to fall (since the end of March), likely suggesting that end-demand is gathering momentum," Frank Gong, a Hong Kong-based economist for JPMorgan, wrote in a research note.

On-the-ground evidence suggested that the Chinese industry had been re-stocking in the first two months of the year, followed by a pause in March before major infrastructure projects were expected to start in the second quarter, Gong wrote.

In the Middle East, according to Faye, the big problem is a shortage of credit, notably for real estate developers and builders.

Construction planners had "counted on a higher price for oil and on credit to finance their huge projects."

In addition, demand for such facilities, especially in the Gulf, has died.

"They were hoping that Americans and Europeans would buy apartments. But property prices have collapsed in the Middle East as well."

In the United Arab Emirates more than half the building projects, worth 582 billion dollars or 45 per cent of the total value of the construction sector, have been put on hold, a study by Dubai-based market research group Proleads found in February.

In Dubai, one of the states of the UAE, prices in the real estate sector have slumped by an average of 25 percent from their peak in September after rallying 79 percent in the 18 months to July 2008, according to Morgan Stanley.

Faye said the fate of the steel sector was in addition tied to that of the struggling US auto industry, once a thriving steel market but one in which two of its giant players, General Motors and Chrysler, are staring at bankruptcy.

The two companies are currently limping along thanks to billions of dollars in government aid.

"We are waiting to see if the auto sector in the US will get out of the crisis intact," she said.


China's runaway steel train

April 11, 2009 at 12:47 AM EDT

FENGRUN, CHINA and TORONTO — Yu Jianshui fidgets in his big leather chair
as he chain-smokes his way through an interview. Times are tough at the
Tangshan Fengrun Zhengda Iron and Steel Co. Ltd.

With China suffering its sharpest economic slowdown in decades, Mr. Yu, the
firm's general manager, complains that he is getting fewer and fewer orders
for his main product, huge bars of raw steel known as billets. In his 23
years in steel, “this is the worst I've ever seen.”

Yet under the corrugated metal roofs of his steel mill, blast furnaces
still blast and two assembly lines still roll out 3,000 tonnes of steel a

It is the same story elsewhere in Fengrun, a gritty steel town where the
red flag of the People's Republic flies from giant-like loading derricks.
After shutting briefly when steel prices dipped last fall, most of
Fengrun's more than 100 mills have come back to life to exploit a price
uptick this winter, churning out countless tonnes of pipe, girders, rolled
steel and heavy cable.

And that, Mr. Yu says, is the problem: Not that so many mills are going out
of business, but that so many are still going.

China simply makes too much steel. The government estimates that China's
annual production is about 100 million tonnes more than it should be, a
figure equal to the whole annual output of the industry in the United

Worse, China has far too many steel companies, more than 700 at last count.
Add in iron companies and companies that roll or otherwise shape steel, and
the total comes to more than 7,000. Despite repeated government attempts to
force them to consolidate into fewer, bigger companies, most of them are
still small and inefficient.

By rights, many companies should have closed. Instead, they march on like
zombies, China's industrial undead.

That was not such a problem when China was growing at 10 per cent or more a
year and demand was soaring for products made in the “workshop of the
world.” No matter how much steel China made and how many companies were
making it, there was always a market somewhere.

Now it's a problem, and not just for China and its steel makers. In China
and around the world, demand for steel is plummeting. Producers are cutting
back: Japan's output fell 39 per cent and Germany's 31 per cent in February
from the same month last year.

But China's crude steel production in February actually grew 4.9 per cent,
even as steel exports hit a 52-month low, falling 62 per cent on a yearly
basis. Since last October, most steel makers have been losing money. Prices
for Chinese hot-rolled steel fell to about $400 (U.S.) a tonne in March,
less than half the peak of $980 a tonne hit last year. Even China's Iron
and Steel Association has cautioned that overproduction has risked flooding
the market with unwanted steel.

In its latest master plan for steel, drawn up this winter, Beijing says it
will force the industry to slim down and consolidate. But such edicts have
been issued many times before, and instead, production has continued to
proliferate. Few believe this time is likely to be different.

The impact of China's overproduction is being felt around the world. As
demand for steel products plunges, China's continued strong production is
hurting producers in other countries. Just this week, a group of American
makers of steel pipe used in oil drilling filed complaints with U.S. trade
officials alleging unfair competition from Chinese imports they say have
been dumped on the domestic market.

“That is the challenge of China,” says Michael Willemse, an analyst
with CIBC World Markets in Toronto. “They can be very disruptive to the
global market if their capacity-expansion plans are not consistent with
consumption needs of the industrial economy.”

MINERS STILL HAPPYChina's romance with steel goes back a long way. Chinese
in the Han Dynasty, 1,800 years ago, produced an early form of steel by
combining wrought iron and cast iron.

In the disastrous Great Leap Forward of 1958 to 1961, Mao Zedong made grain
and steel production the centrepiece of his plan to surpass the decadent
West. The Great Helmsman encouraged the people to build backyard steel
furnaces in every commune and neighbourhood. To meet wildly unrealistic
production goals, they melted down pots and pans and burned furniture for

When Deng Xiaoping abandoned Maoist economics in 1978, China began building
its steel industry in earnest. As foreign investment poured in and the
economy took off, China ramped up production. In the present decade, it has
grown at an average of more than 20 per cent a year. It now exceeds the
combined production of Japan, the United States, Russia, India, South
Korea, Germany, Ukraine and Brazil.

China became the world's biggest consumer and producer of steel, accounting
for a third of the world's total output.

Like the auto industry in North America, steel in China came to be
considered an essential industry, too big to fail. It directly employs 3.58
million people. Millions more live off it in support roles. As of 2007, it
contributed 4 per cent of China's gross domestic product and 9 per cent of
industrial profits.

For a long time, everyone seemed to benefit. Chinese steel makers were
growing and making money. Foreign steel makers were selling lots of steel
to China, which was a net importer of steel until 2006. Iron ore producers
in resource-rich countries such as Canada made a fortune as the steel boom
pushed up prices for ore.

Indeed, the relatively stable demand from China has helped coking coal and
iron prices weather the global economic collapse better than most
commodities – and if Chinese steel makers remain at their current
production levels, that would not be unwelcome to the international iron
ore and coking coal producers.

At a time when financing for most mining firms has all but disappeared,
China has been a lone source of capital, playing sugar daddy abroad to
shore up the future of the domestic steel industry. Last week, Wuhan Iron
and Steel Group Corp., or WISCO, one of China's largest steel producers,
agreed to invest a total of $240-million to acquire a 20-per-cent stake in
Consolidated Thompson Iron Mines Ltd. and a 25-per-cent stake in the
company's Bloom Lake iron ore development project in Quebec.

But for China, the continuing steel push, once a sign of strength, has
become a sign of weakness.

The sector's prodigious growth made it a vivid symbol of China's rise. Now,
it tells the story of chronic overinvestment and overcapacity, manipulated
lending, political interference in markets and overreliance on heavy
industry – faults that are being exposed by the crisis across many of the
country's industries, and that could cost China dearly as the global
recession grinds on.

Steel is not the only industry plagued by too much capacity and too many
companies. China has 5,000 cement makers, 3,800 glass makers, 3,500 pulp
and paper producers, and no less than 24,000 chemical companies.

“It's a kind of a perpetual theme here,” says Jack Perkowski, now a
merchant banker in Beijing who came to China from the United States almost
20 years ago to start a car parts company – and was startled to find
there were already 150 companies making piston rings.

“If you look at any product, there are usually only half a dozen or so
companies making it in most countries. In China, there are hundreds or
thousands making that same product.”

The reasons behind China's capacity issue say a lot about how China works
– or doesn't – and points to a slew of other problems.

Outsiders tend to think of China as a centralized state with an
all-powerful government that can order industries around at will. In fact,
real power often lies with provincial and local officials, the powerful
barons of the Chinese political system.

Like Canadian premiers, they fight among themselves to attract industry.
And steel is a particular favourite, a “pillar industry” that produces
a crucial raw material for many other prestige industries, like automobiles
and appliances. In China, Mr. Perkowski says, “every town and every
village has to have a steel mill.”

The result is a highly dispersed, even balkanized industry, with production
spread around a half-dozen major steel-producing provinces and a dozen or
more smaller rivals. Those provinces compete constantly to outdo each other
at steel production.

The perennial winner is Hebei province, a traditional industrial powerhouse
in northeastern China, surrounding Beijing and the port of Tianjin.
According to the industry watcher mysteel.net, Hebei – where Mr. Yu's
Fengrun mill is located – won the output “championship” for the
seventh successive year in 2008, producing more than 100 million tonnes.

A value-added tax introduced in 1996 gives the provincial barons even more
incentive to lure steel companies and win bragging rights. A quarter of the
revenue from the VAT goes to local governments.

Balkanization makes for massive inefficiency. In a country like China that
lacks high-grade iron ore, the ideal would be to produce steel in big,
modern plants near coastal ports, making it cheaper to bring in ore and
coking coal, and easier to export production. Instead Chinese mills often
have to bring in their ore over hundreds of kilometres of rail track,
pushing up their costs.

Pushing up pollution, too. A report last month from the Alliance for
American Manufacturing claimed that China's steel industry, with its
massive consumption of coal and electricity, produced half of the carbon
dioxide from world steel production, making it a huge contributor to the
greenhouse gases said to cause global warning. It also claimed that
governments help the industry with more than $15-billion a year in energy
subsidies, adding to pollution and overproduction.

China's government-directed banking system plays a part in runaway steel
output, too. In China, the big banks are run by the state. Their local
branches are often closely tied to local officials.

Eager to reap the taxes they get from steel companies, those officials
arrange with banks to provide financing for new mills. In China, where
labour and land is cheap, mills can be built in a fraction of the time it
takes in the West for a fraction of the cost.

If steel prices are rising, they quickly generate handsome profits. But
that adds to China's capacity and, in time, overcapacity. That, in turn,
puts downward pressure on prices. In a normally functioning market, Mr.
Perkowski says, that would lead to an industry shakeout. Weaker, smaller
mills would close. Production would fall to meet demand.

Not in China. With “everyone incentivized to keep producing,” he writes
in his 2008 book Managing the Dragon, “this capacity never closes.
Instead, the plant churns out product at ever-diminishing prices. As long
as it can sell at a price equal to the variable costs of production, it
keeps producing.” Even if it can't cover those costs, friendly banks may
step in to cover its losses.

“This is a topsy-turvy, helter-skelter model of economic growth where
each province has its own plans and the central government just sits on top
and screams,” says Hans Mueller, an independent consultant based in
Tennessee who follows China's steel industry.

The screaming does not seem to do much good. Beijing's latest master plan
would hold crude steel output to its current level of about 500 million
tonnes. It would move more steel-making capacity to the coastal regions.
And it would raise the minimum size of blast furnaces to 400 cubic metres,
up from 300 at present, with the intention of forcing smaller,
less-efficient mills to close.

The aim is to make its industry more like other countries', with a few big
dominant players. China's top three companies account for only about a
fifth of the country's total production, compared with well over half for
the top three in the United States, Russia or South Korea. South Korea, in
fact, gets 87 per cent of its production from just two giant mills.

To bang heads together, China's cabinet set a goal last month of raising
the share of output from its top five steel companies to 45 per cent of the
total from 28 per cent at present.

Canada's Teck Cominco Ltd., a major producer of coking coal used to make
steel, is betting on the consolidation of the Chinese steel industry.
Although it doesn't sell coal to China now, it hopes to in the future once
more Chinese production moves to the coast, creating demand for seaborne

Selling to China's coastal regions was a key driver behind the company's
$14-billion (Canadian) takeover last year of Fording Canadian Coal Trust
– a deal that has left Teck straining under more than $9-billion (U.S.)
in debt. “It's one of the reasons that we believe in the coal assets,”
said Teck spokesman Greg Waller. “There is going to be a fundamental
change in the valuation of metallurgical coal in the future.”

If history is any guide, it could take a long time for Teck's coal to get
to China's coast. The Chinese “have been talking about this as a matter
of national state policy since 2001 and the number of steel firms went up
and up and up,” says Daniel Rosen, principal of Rhodium Group, a New York
consultancy. “The reality went in a totally different direction.”

In fact, Beijing's massive four-trillion-yuan economic stimulus program
threatens to worsen steel's obesity issue. Much of the money will be used
for steel-gobbling projects like railway expansion. To further cushion the
industry from the global recession, Beijing is raising a rebate on steel

Yet despite the likelihood of continued Chinese steel overproduction, the
country's growth could very well serve as the cornerstone for a global
economic recovery.

Na Liu, China strategist at Scotia Capital, says China's iron and copper
imports hit record highs in February, and net imports of aluminum and zinc
are at their highest in several years. China's recent willingness to pay
$140 a tonne for coking coal helped support a 2009 benchmark coal contract
of $129 a tonne that was much higher than many expected.

As for steel, low prices coupled with China's relatively high cost of
production may have already tipped the trade balance in favour of imports.
Russian steel producers “have been selling into the Chinese market at
very competitive prices, and China might actually have become a net
importer of steel in March,” Mr. Liu says.

While China's labour and regulatory costs give it a major advantage over
other steel-producing nations, the bulk of those benefits will eventually

“Gradually, Chinese steel mills are going to lose their cost advantages,
as environmental protection and other regulatory costs begin to go
higher,” Mr. Liu says.

Back in Fengrun, Mr. Yu knows his industry may need to change.

“When I was a kid, the country's power was measured by how much steel it
produced,” he says.

Now, he complains that the industry has too much capacity and too many
players. “They can't all survive,” he says. “Some of these companies
have to die off.”

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Rosy Scenario forgot to mention...

1. GDP growth turns negative: In the fourth quarter of 2008, GDP declined at an annual rate of 6.3 percent, the largest decline since the first quarter of 1982. The drop in growth reflected a 4.3% decline in consumer spending, a 22.8% fall in spending on homes, a 21.7% decrease in business investment spending, and a 23.6% drop in exports.

2. Job losses accelerate: The U.S. economy shed 663,000 jobs in March 2009. Since the recession began in December 2007, the economy has lost 5.1 million jobs, 2.7 million of them-or 53.35 of the total-in just the last four months.

3. Broad rise in unemployment rates: In March 2009, the unemployment rate was 8.5%-the highest level since October 1983. The African-American unemployment rate stood at 13.3%, the Hispanic unemployment rate at 11.4%, and the unemployment rate for whites at 7.9% in January 2009. Youth unemployment has soared to 21.7%; meanwhile, the unemployment rate for people without a high school diploma grew to 13.3%, compared to 9.0% for those with a high school degree and 4.3% for those with a college degree.

4. Hours at work at historic low: Average weekly hours amounted for production workers-the vast majority of the American workforce-fell to 33.2 hours in March. This was the lowest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started to calculate these data.

5. Wages still up due to low inflation: In February 2009, inflation adjusted weekly earnings were 2.5% higher and hourly earnings were 4.1% higher than a year earlier, largely because of low inflation in recent months. This is unlikely to last. Inflation adjusted weekly and hourly wages have already decreased in January and February 2009.

6. Benefits decreased before the crisis: The share of private sector workers with a pension dropped from 50.3% in 2000 to 45.1% in 2007, and the share of people with employer-provided health insurance dropped from 64.2% in 2000 to 59.3% in 2007.

7. Family wealth disappears at record pace: From June 2007-the last peak of family wealth-to December 2008, total family wealth decreased by $15 trillion in 2008 dollars. This reflects a drop of 22.8% during these 18 months, the fastest decline in any 18-month period since the Federal Reserve started to collect these data in 1952. Total family wealth stood at 483.3% of after-tax income-the lowest level since March 1995.

8. The housing market stalls: New home sales in January 2009 amounted to an annualized, seasonally adjusted rate of 337,000, 41.1% lower than a year earlier, despite a year-over-year drop in median new home prices of 18.1%. At the current rate of new home sales, it will still take 12.2 months to sell all new houses on the market. Existing home sales were 4.6% lower and their median sales price 15.5% less than a year earlier.

9. Homeowners' wealth losses mount: The values of all homes fell by $3.9 trillion from December 2006-the last peak of housing wealth-to December 2008. Home equity to after-tax income has dropped to 74.0%, the lowest level since September 1967, and home equity as share of home values dropped to record low of 44.7% by December 2008.

10. Mortgage troubles mount: One in nine mortgages is delinquent or in foreclosure. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the share of mortgages that were delinquent was 7.9% and the share of mortgages that were in foreclosure was 3.3%. The share of new mortgages going into foreclosure stayed at its record high of 1.1%.

11. Families feel the pressure: Credit card defaults rose to 6.3% of all credit card debt by the fourth quarter of 2008, an increase of 52.4% from the fourth quarter of 2007.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Why liberals, progressives and the left need to break free of the Democratic Party and how we might accomplish this...

Two articles (read them below or click on their links) more than any others I have read recently--- one in the Christian Science Monitor, the other in the New York Times--- clearly demonstrate the need to initiate and organize a working class based labor party in the United States which will take on the thoroughly reactionary, warmongering and anti-labor policies of Barack Obama, the Democrats and the thoroughly corrupt and incompetent "leaders" of organized labor who are content holding up the tails of a bunch of dumb donkeys.

Failing to seek solutions outside of the Democratic Party will continue to result in the only opposition to Obama coming from the Republicans and other right-wing groups when a full and complete criticism from the left is fully warranted and required.

There is no problem making the needed criticisms from inside the Democratic Party but this isn't being done.

Moves are underway to build the Peace and Freedom Party into a national political party.

In my opinion, this initiative to build the Peace and Freedom Party--- presently based in California--- deserves a good hard look by liberals, progressives and the left.

A very good and viable third party alternative capable of seriously challenging the Democrats and Republicans could result if this national effort is based upon a firm progressive foundation like what we had here in Minnesota with the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party that elected two socialist Governors (Floyd B. Olson and Elmer Benson) and Communist John Bernard to the U.S. Congress along with many Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party candidates being elected to the Minnesota State House and Senate and many local offices... from township and county public officials to city councils... with Floyd B. Olson having been given serious consideration as a possible socialist candidate to challenge Franklin Roosevelt for the presidency(unfortunately Olson suffered an untimely death in succumbing to cancer).

Should the Peace and Freedom Party take up the working class struggle along the lines of the highly successful Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party--- liberals, progressives and the left along with the working class could very well find a permanent political home once and for all in the United States.

In my opinion, liberals, progressives and the left--- especially the working class--- should be looking to creating some kind of political "form" to challenge Obama and the Democrats from the left in state houses and in Congress by insisting on changing the priorities in this country to focusing on the needs of people instead of wars and Wall Street profits.

One organizational form we might want to explore using to challenge Barack Obama and his Wall Street crowd is some kind of "people's lobby."

Building a strong "people's lobby" to challenge Obama and the power of Wall Street by demanding an end to the imperialist wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan and insisting on the complete reordering of this country's priorities, away from war and military spending and redirected toward meeting the needs of the people.

For instance, we need to be asking why the United States needs over 800 military bases on foreign soil; when, what we really need is 800 public health care centers spread out across the United States providing free comprehensive and basic universal health care to everyone.

A "people's lobby" could challenge the power of the corporations in the streets and in the state houses and in Congress as we put together and build a real progressive alternative to this two-party trap we are stuck in as the Wall Street parasites and vultures pick us clean.

The two articles below clearly demonstrate why we can't trust Obama and the Democrats or their accomplices in organized labor and the Democratic Party controlled and manipulated segment of the anti-war movement.

Most working people and the majority of the American people hold views completely at odds with the Democratic Party and Obama (and these people have clearly rejected the Republicans); the problem is we are not organized to make our voices heard let alone make decisions.

How is it that living in a democracy the majority of the people have no voice and are without any political power capable of making decisions? Lack of organization. Needless fighting amongst ourselves. We can no longer afford the "luxury" of disunity based upon petty differences because the problems we confront are far to severe.

Building an alternative political party, be it the Peace and Freedom Party or some other formation, will require uniting all those who are suffering problems; problems first inflicted by the Republicans and now exacerbated by Barack Obama and the Democrats who have been chosen by Wall Street to implement Wall Street's dirty agenda of wars and poverty from which the coupon clippers of the military-financial-industrial complex profit.

Without organizational forms that have as their purposes to educate and unite people in bringing us all into militant struggle against the power of Wall Street, we are will remain trapped as our standard of living quickly erodes and people die in senseless wars.

We need to challenge these imperialist wars along with the increasing military madness and insanity that robs humanity of the wealth we need to create a society where people live in harmony with nature--- our first priority needs to be taking us off the road to perdition as capitalism crashes; capitalism is on the skids to oblivion... socialism is the only alternative.

We need to be clear that peace is not the same thing as Obama's distorted and perverted view of "peace" which consists of the United States military's successful ending the opposition to occupation; this is not justice--- and the successful occupation of a sovereign nation is in no way the equivalent of peace. Killing and beating down the opposition to the imperialist war in Iraq is not peace.

It is time to part company with those who view the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan as appropriate and just. These are imperialist wars that are no more just than the war in Iraq or Israel's attempt to grab through illegal settlements all the land it can steal from the Palestinian people.

U.S. financial and other assistance to the Israeli killing machine is just as wrong as the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. We can put the resources to much better use solving the problems of working people right here in the United States.

There are many issues which bring honest and sincere liberals, progressives and the left together and if we put our heads together taking into consideration all the problems we have to resolve we should be able to challenge the Democrats and Republicans along with any other reactionary, pro-war racist parties coming along.

Allowing those pro-war "liberals" and class collaborationist, non-struggle union "leaders" to dominate our movements and politics in this country under the guise that Barack Obama "deserves a chance" or that "we need to be careful in how we approach Obama if we want to work with him" is ridiculous... the guy is nothing but a flim-flam man chosen by Wall Street in an effort to thwart the development of a people's challenge to Wall Street's power and control.

The success of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party was achieved when working people with liberal, progressive and left ideas came together to try to solve the problems created as a direct result of Wall Street's greedy drive for profits--- Like now, Wall Street made the economic mess of the 1930's and expected working people to suffer as problems were resolved at the expense of working people--- today, in the same way and progressive traditions of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, we must tell Wall Street things are not going to work the way these greedy vultures and parasites intend.

Let's consider pulling together some kind of "people's lobby" as part or our effort to form and organize a political party capable of challenging the wealthy few for power.

Working people create all wealth; as a result, working people are entitled to establish a political agenda aimed at making the world a better place for everyone to live.

Wars and profits for the few are not the way to go; we are now at war and in this economic mess because for too long we have not challenged the present way of doing things.

These pro-war "liberals" do not represent us; they are not the voices of the legitimate peace movement--- neither do these labor fakers who fear to struggle for justice represent most working people.

We need to build the organizations required to give our voices for peace and social & economic justice a real hearing and we shouldn't be afraid of offending a creep like Barack Obama who sits in silence as the Israeli killing machine piles dead Palestinian children like cord wood and does nothing to stop foreclosures and evictions as a bunch of crooks are allowed to profit from the problems they created.

Let's "bundle" our problems together along with a package of solutions and come together in some kind of "people's lobby" which will serve as a solid base from which to build a real people's alternative to this two-party fiasco passing itself off as the world's greatest bastion of democracy when nothing of the kind is true.

Education. Organization. Unity. Action.

Something to think about...

Alan L. Maki

Antiwar activists split over Obama's Afghanistan policy
Lawmakers and others who were against the Iraq war generally support the president. But they worry about another 'quagmire.'


By Gail Russell Chaddock | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
from the April 4, 2009 edition

Washington - The anti-war movement that helped elect Candidate Obama is in the early throes of a debate over whether to ramp up again – this time, over President Obama's plans to step up US engagement in Afghanistan.

For many activists – on and off Capitol Hill – it's a tough call. It's early in a new administration, they say. Even opponents of the troop buildup in Afghanistan say that they like and still trust this president. They want to give him time.

They also like much of what they're hearing from the Obama White House.

Instead of the go-it-alone, "cowboy diplomacy" of the Bush years, Obama pushes concepts like "shared responsibility" and "civilian effort," they say.

But Obama's decision to send another 21,000 troops to Afghanistan to help stabilize "the most dangerous place in the world," as he calls it, is shifting some anti-war activists into (reluctant) opposition. It's also forcing some members of Congress to explain to voters why they opposed a troop buildup in Iraq but now support one in Afghanistan.

"This could be a one-way ticket to a quagmire," says former US Rep. Tom Andrews (D) of Maine, national director of the Win Without War coalition.

"Sometimes less is more. In the case of Afghanistan and Pakistan, the deployment of US troops can be a source of instability, not stability," he says. "These are very real concerns that we have, and we want to articulate them in a respectful way."

Since President Obama's announcement of a new strategy in Afghanistan last month, Win Without War and other groups have been trying to revive a dialogue on the war. They're especially urging members of Congress and the news media to get back to the business of vigorous criticism and oversight.

The anti-war movement shifted into low gear after Obama's election. Funding and staffing for most groups dropped, in some cases precipitously. Code Pink activists – a highly visible presence at war hearings and protests in the Bush years – have shifted their target from war to Wall Street.

Some elements of the anti-Iraq War coalition think that the buildup in Afghanistan is warranted, even essential.

"Americans have more business in Afghanistan than they ever did in Iraq, Bosnia, Lebanon, Somalia, Panama, or Grenada," says Jon Soltz, chairman and cofounder of VoteVets.org, which rallied veterans against the war in Iraq in the Bush years.

The reason the US is in Afghanistan is that we were attacked, he adds. "As someone who fought in Iraq, I don't think people are as ready to give up on President Obama as they were on George Bush. I'm biased to think that we give this president a chance."

On Capitol Hill, the once-robust Out of Iraq Caucus has also been largely silent on the troop buildup in Afghanistan. Members say they're still working to find common ground.

"We're not there yet," says Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D) of California, a cofounder together with Reps. Barbara Lee (D) and Maxine Waters (D), both of California.

Meanwhile, the Out of Iraq Caucus will be sponsoring forums to help educate members. "History makes it clear that the Afghan people do not look kindly on foreign armies," Rep. Woolsey said in a floor speech on March 30.

"I am also concerned about the cost of sending more troops, the cost in both lives and treasure. It will require a 60 percent increase in military spending at a time when our economy right here at home is suffering so badly," she said. "Now is the time to pause to consider whether there are other alternatives to sending our troops to Afghanistan."

United in opposition to the war in Iraq, liberal Democrats – many of whom have yet to state publicly their view on the buildup – are breaking out more nuanced positions on the war in Afghanistan. Some favor it; some oppose it. All want the president to be successful, and they say it's too early for a confrontation on the policy.

"He's moving away from a military-only protocol that was the hallmark of the Bush years – to the degree that Bush and Cheney were interested in Afghanistan at all – in favor of a community-based, civilian-based, civil society-based policy," says Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D) of Hawaii, a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus.

"Whether or not that succeeds obviously is something that is still open, but it won't be from lack of effort on the president's part," he says.

Another caucus member, Rep. Jim McDermott (D) of Washington, who opposes the buildup, worries that the president may yet be drawn into a mainly military approach to the conflict.

"Those of us who lived through Vietnam are very upset with what's going on [in Afghanistan]," he says. "All of us want him to succeed, desperately want him to succeed. But we worry that as John Kennedy got wrapped up by those guys that sent him to the Bay of Pigs, he'll listen to the guys who say: 'Mr. President, you want to look good, don't you? You don't want to look like a quitter or a loser or weak?'"

But even before they confront the president, Democrats are confronting concerns at home about the new direction of the war in Afghanistan.

Rep. Paul Hodes (D) of New Hampshire, who campaigned against the war in Iraq, saw the first anti-war protests of the Obama administration last month in his hometown of Concord. Even though the protests are small, he says he needs to explain his stance to voters, and the situation is "difficult and complex."

"I opposed the war in Iraq because it was not merely a diversion from the effort that we need to make to battle terrorism, not merely because it was sold on false premises, but because it made us less safe and secure as a country and a world," he says.

"I have long believed that our efforts needed to be directed to Pakistan and Afghanistan in a coherent way with a comprehensive strategy that does not rely on military force alone," he adds.

New Hampshire peace activists planning vigils in Nashua, Concord, and Durham next week to protest the buildup in Afghanistan say they expect to meet with their congressional delegation on the issue.

"We're very concerned that the president announced the increase in troops even before having a coherent plan in place," says Anne Miller, executive director of Peace Action of New Hampshire, which claims some 3,000 members statewide.

"We're still not clear what this plan will accomplish, what benchmarks are, what a win would look like," she adds. "We have colleagues that just got back from Kabul and not one Afghani they spoke to thought that having more troops there would make a difference."

For the most part, Americans aren't focused on the war in Afghanistan, pollsters say. Wall Street and the economy are much bigger concerns, but that's beginning to shift, too.

"There's polling data showing a higher percentage of those saying that the war in Afghanistan has not been worth it," says pollster John Zogby of Zogby International.

"Americans like their wars to be won and short. But President Obama is still getting some slack, as far as the public is concerned," he adds.

As candidate, Obama clearly signaled his intent as president to withdraw US forces from Iraq to refocus energies on the war in Afghanistan. That clarity helps give credibility to the steps he's taking now, say Congress watchers.

"You've got a lot of antiwar liberals who said he didn't really mean that – that he's just talking that way to look tough. What we're learning is that, like many things he's doing on the domestic front, he's doing what he said," says Norman Ornstein a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

"He's got a year – and the protests will start before that," he adds. "If it looks like we're bogged down and lot of Americans are dying, we're in a different situation."

In America, Labor Has an Unusually Long Fuse


Published: April 4, 2009

The workers and other protesters who gathered en masse at the Group of 20 summit meeting last week in London were continuing a time-honored European tradition of taking their grievances into the streets.

Two weeks earlier, more than a million workers in France demonstrated against layoffs and the government’s handling of the economic crisis, and in the last month alone, French workers took their bosses hostage four times in various labor disputes. When General Motors recently announced huge job cuts worldwide, 15,000 workers demonstrated at the company’s German headquarters.

But in the United States, where G.M. plans its biggest layoffs, union members have seemed passive in comparison. They may yell at the television news, but that’s about all. Unlike their European counterparts, American workers have largely stayed off the streets, even as unemployment soars and companies cut wages and benefits.

The country of Mother Jones, John L. Lewis and Walter Reuther certainly has had a rich and sometimes militant history of labor protest — from the Homestead Steel Works strike against Andrew Carnegie in 1892 to the auto workers’ sit-down strikes of the 1930s and the 67-day walkout by 400,000 G.M. workers in 1970.

But in recent decades, American workers have increasingly steered clear of such militancy, for reasons that range from fear of having their jobs shipped overseas to their self-image as full-fledged members of the middle class, with all its trappings and aspirations.

David Kennedy, a Stanford historian and author of “Freedom From Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945,” says that America’s individualist streak is a major reason for this reluctance to take to the streets. Citing a 1940 study by the social psychologist Mirra Komarovsky, he said her interviews of the Depression-era unemployed found “the psychological reaction was to feel guilty and ashamed, that they had failed personally.”

Taken together, guilt, shame and individualism undercut any impulse to collective action, then as now, Professor Kennedy said. Noting that Americans felt stunned and desperately insecure during the Depression’s early years, he wrote: “What struck most observers, and mystified them, was the eerie docility of the American people, their stoic passivity as the Depression grindstone rolled over them.”

By the mid-1930s, though, worker protests increased in number and militancy. They were fueled by the then-powerful Communist and Socialist Parties and frustrations over continuing deprivation. Workers also felt that they had President Roosevelt’s blessing for collective action because he signed the Wagner Act in 1935, giving workers the right to unionize.

“Remember, at that time, you had Hoovervilles and 25 percent unemployment,” said Daniel Bell, a professor emeritus of sociology at Harvard. “Many people felt that capitalism was finished.”

General strikes paralyzed San Francisco and Minneapolis, and a six-week sit-down strike at a G.M. plant in Flint, Mich., pressured the company into recognizing the United Automobile Workers. In the decade’s ugliest showdown, a 1937 strike against Republic Steel in Chicago, 10 protesters were shot to death. That militancy helped build a powerful labor movement, which represented 35 percent of the nation’s workers by the 1950s and helped create the world’s largest and richest middle class.

Today, American workers, even those earning $20,000 a year, tend to view themselves as part of an upwardly mobile middle class. In contrast, European workers often still see themselves as proletarians in an enduring class struggle.

And American labor leaders, once up-from-the-street rabble-rousers, now often work hand-in-hand with C.E.O.’s to improve corporate competitiveness to protect jobs and pensions, and try to sideline activists who support a hard line.

“You have a general diminution of union leadership that was focused on defending workers by any means necessary,” said Jerry Tucker, a longtime U.A.W. militant. “The message from the union leadership nowadays often is, ‘We don’t have any choice, we have to go down this concessionary road to see if we can do damage control,’ ” he said.

In the case of the Detroit automakers, a strike might not only hasten their demise but infuriate many Americans who already view auto workers as overpaid. It might also make Washington less receptive to a bailout.

Labor’s aggressiveness has also been sapped by its declining numbers. Unions represent just 7.4 percent of private-sector workers today.

Unions have also grown more cautious as management has become more aggressive. A watershed came in 1981 when the nation’s air traffic controllers engaged in an illegal strike. President Reagan quickly fired the 11,500 striking traffic controllers, hired replacements and soon got the airports running. After that confrontation, labor’s willingness to strike shrank markedly.

American workers still occasionally vent their anger in protests and strikes. There were demonstrations against the A.I.G. bonuses, for instance, and workers staged a sit-down strike in December when their factory in Chicago was closed. But the numbers tell the story: Last year, American unions engaged in 159 work stoppages, down from 1,352 in 1981, according to the Bureau of National Affairs, a publisher of legal and regulatory news.

Michael Kazin, a historian at Georgetown University, said that while demonstrations remain a vital outlet for the European left, for Americans “the Internet now somehow serves as the main outlet” with angry blogs and mass e-mailing.

Left-leaning workers and unions that might be most prone to stage protests during today’s economic crisis are often the ones most enthusiastic about President Obama and his efforts to revive the economy, help unions and enact universal health coverage. Instead of taking to the streets last fall to protest the gathering economic crisis under President Bush, many workers and unions campaigned for Mr. Obama.

Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, said there were smarter things to do than demonstrating against layoffs — for instance, pushing Congress and the states to make sure the stimulus plan creates the maximum number of jobs in the United States.

“I actually believe that Americans believe in their political system more than workers do in other parts of the world,” Mr. Gerard said. He said large labor demonstrations are often warranted in Canada and European countries to pressure parliamentary leaders. Demonstrations are less needed in the United States, he said, because often all that is needed is some expert lobbying in Washington to line up the support of a half-dozen senators.

Professor Kennedy saw another reason that today’s young workers and young people were protesting less than in decades past. “This generation,” he said, has “ found more effective ways to change the world. It’s signed up for political campaigns, and it’s not waiting for things to get so desperate that they feel forced to take to the streets.”

Obviously, the New York Times is trying to establish a position for labor which fits in well with Wall Street's plans to squeeze everything out of the working class. Workers should read what Steven Greenhouse has been writing and will continue to write aimed at establishing a thoroughly docile and class collaborationist position for labor writing under the guise of "objectivity:"