Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...

512-517-2708

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...

http://peaceandsocialjustice.blogspot.com/2013/03/a-progressive-program-for-real-change.html


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


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

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blocking Escalation Not Good Enough

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

Sent: Thursday, October 22, 2009 10:27 PM

To: 'David Swanson'

Cc: 'David Shove'; 'teresa_detrempe@klobuchar.senate.gov'; 'elizabeth_reed@levin.senate.gov'; 'keith@keithellison.org'

Subject: Re: Blocking Escalation Not Good Enough

David,

I am glad--- and appreciate--- you have spoken your mind very forcefully and taken this initiative encouraging this action (see below).

I am sending this around for others to mull over and hopefully act on.

I do think you are missing one important point that needs to be addressed because it is so basic and fundamental to any kind of democracy and we never seem to get around to discussing this:

“Accountability”

In addition to what you are proposing; I hope you will consider the issue of “accountability.”

In my opinion, there are two ways progressives can enforce “accountability” from these politicians:

1. Tell them in no uncertain terms---

A. No peace; no votes.

B. No real health care reform; no votes.

2. We need to get progressive peace and health care candidates to challenge all of the pro-war candidates in the caucuses, conventions and the primaries; and, if need be, run as independents on a platform of peace and health care in the general election.

There is no way in hell that in any country where the vast majority of the people want two things so badly--- peace and health care--- that these dirty wars should continue while the American people are denied health care.

For those who don’t want to criticize Obama and the Democrats, they still have a responsibility to move these issues forward without compromise coming from their lips before the battle even begins--- as you point out, this is an invitation--- a situation, if you will--- where you give into these warmongers and insurance companies by giving them one little inch and they take the proverbial country mile.

It is interesting that it is those politicians who keep voting to continue these wars while denying the American people health care who advise the anti-war and health care advocates that they need to compromise in order to maintain respectability.

And then, even on the “left,” we have these muddle-headed middle class intellectuals who are going around yelling “ultra-leftists” at anyone who dares to advocate the “radical” idea that democracy is based upon “accountability” and all the while they talk about how we need to fend off the danger from the “right” when nothing can be more reactionary than waging unconstitutional, illegal and unjust wars by squandering tax-payers’ dollars on death and destruction rather than providing health care to people for free.

Our union Organizing Council and our associated Organizing Committees were among the first to take a stand against the war in Iraq and then against the war in Afghanistan and the senseless carnage now taking place in Pakistan… this region of the world is just waiting to explode in massive violence and destruction as a result of the animosities, injustices and the human indignities spread and fostered by the United States government which might just as well be taking the resources of our country--- the wealth created by workers--- and dumping this wealth into the ocean… at least if this were to be done people would not be dying.

However, I think it has become obvious to the overwhelming majority of the American people that they have come to recognize that if their government has these kinds of resources to waste on such unjust wars, that this government can provide the best health care in the world for its own people without further enabling insurance companies to dig their greedy Wall Street fingers further into the public till as the merchants of death and destruction do.

If we can join together the people’s struggles for peace and health care a very powerful coalition could be forged that neither Barack Obama nor any member of congress would dare to oppose.

Again, the demand for “accountability” is primary, in my opinion, to forging such a massive coalition.

“Warriors for peace and justice” demanding “accountability” is what we need.

Our votes are too precious to continue throwing away on candidates who imply they are for peace and real health care reform to get elected; then turn around and wage wars with our tax-dollars which we thought would be ear-marked for health care reform, not health insurance reform.

Obama is a darn good health insurance salesman; Wall Street coupon clippers are smiling as the children die.

Thanks for your efforts;

Yours in solidarity in the struggle,

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



Blocking Escalation Not Good Enough

http://afterdowningstreet.org/node/47250

By David Swanson

Why is it that every time we elect "peace" candidates we defund the peace movement, stop calling for an end to wars, and limit our demands exclusively to opposing war escalations?

In 2006 we voted into Congress the candidates who looked most likely to end the war in Iraq. We congratulated ourselves on a job well done. Then we mildly urged them not to escalate the war they'd been elected to end, and they escalated it anyway.

In 2008 we voted into Congress and the White House the candidates who looked most likely to end the war in Iraq. Candidate Obama promised to pull out two brigades per month for sixteen months. Here we are in month 10 and that withdrawal has yet to begin. And what in the name of all that is true, good, and free-of-hope are we doing about it? Not a god damned thing.

Meanwhile Obama promised, much less noisily, to escalate a war in Afghanistan and has done so with no resistance, even as the American people have (at least in polls) turned against it. Now party leaders in Congress have given Obama the go-ahead for a larger escalation, and what have we done?

To begin with we've accepted the terms of the debate that our government officials always impose on us following an election: Are you for an escalation or do you think the current troop/mercenary levels are adequate? There is no room in that debate for arguing that the entire enterprise is illegal, barbaric, self-destructive, and must be immediately replaced with civilized acts of aid and diplomacy.

Of course we should oppose an escalation, just as we should prefer a "public option" to no healthcare reform at all. But self-censoring our demand for single-payer shifts the debate so far right that we can't even pass a public option. And self-censoring our demand for an end to wars shifts the debate to a point where the middle ground becomes an escalation of half the largest size anyone proposes -- and the war in Iraq is not even mentioned.

Well-meaning peace groups are pointlessly urging us to lobby the president, and are publicly whipping congress members on the following items: sponsorship of a bill that would require some sort of non-binding exit plan for Afghanistan if actually passed by the House and Senate and signed by the president, and sponsorship of a bill that would deny funding for an escalation in Afghanistan if actually passed by the House and Senate and signed by the president. But getting either of those bills through the Senate is going to be significantly more difficult than getting the House to stop funding the wars, and thus far no organizations have begun building a public list of House members committed to voting No on war money.

In June, because all the Republicans were voting No on the war money for their own crazy reasons, we only needed 39 Democrats to vote No to block it, and we managed to get 32. We could easily line up 39 right now if we worked at it. Then we could begin building from there in the direction of 218. Even if all you wanted to oppose was escalation, the way to actually do so would be to build a whip list of House members committed to voting No on war funding bills that did not limit troop levels in Afghanistan to the desired level. Nobody is doing that. The next supplemental spending bill will probably come by spring, and it'll come sooner the greater the escalation, but peace coalitions tell me they think it's smarter not to prepare for such fights ahead of time.

FireDogLake, which hosted our whip list in June, is fully immersed in healthcare struggles. United for Peace and Justice and a new anti-escalation coalition have both refused to host a list of congress members committed to voting No on war funding or even escalation funding. So, I'm going to provide, not a replacement for the anti-escalation campaigns, but a necessary addition to them. I'm going to post a list at the top of http://afterdowningstreet.org and encourage you to ask these 32 heroes from back in June (plus a very short list of Republicans) whether they are committed to voting against further funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Please phone them at (202) 224-3121 and post your responses on the website.

Tammy Baldwin
Michael Capuano
John Conyers
Lloyd Doggett
Donna Edwards
Keith Ellison
Sam Farr
Bob Filner
Alan Grayson
Raul Grijalva
Michael Honda
Marcy Kaptur
Dennis Kucinich
Barbara Lee
Zoe Lofgren
Eric Massa
Jim McGovern
Michael Michaud
Donald Payne
Chellie Pingree
Jared Polis
Jose Serrano
Carol Shea-Porter
Brad Sherman
Jackie Speier
Pete Stark
John Tierney
Nikki Tsongas
Maxine Waters
Diane Watson
Peter Welch
Lynn Woolsey

Ron Paul
Walter Jones



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

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The new normal

Following this essay appearing in the new on-line "People's World" are my comment and a comment from Rosalio Munoz, Betty Smith and others.


The new normal

http://www.peoplesworld.org/the-new-normal#PageComment_988

by: Sam Webb



October 21 2009


Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase are back to the "old normal." Profits are soaring - $3.2 billion and $3.6 billion respectively in the third quarter. Bonuses of $23 billion (yes, I got it right - 23,000,000,000 bucks) are in the pipeline for their managers and traders. Their field of competitors has thinned. And these leeches have morphed from "too big to fail" to "much too big" to fail.

In the meantime, the rest of us are fast-forwarding to the "new normal." Let me explain.

A year ago the old model of capitalist accumulation (profit making) and right-wing political governance, resting on the rise of finance, mountains of debt, record levels of inequality, unsustainable global economic imbalances, and successive bubbles in real and fictitious assets came crashing down - not with a whimper, but with a bang that triggered an economic tsunami.

The U.S economy imploded, throwing people out of their jobs and homes, closing family farms, evaporating pension funds and savings, shuttering more plants and factories, and devastating cities and towns. Much the same occurred elsewhere in the world.

A complete collapse of the economy was dodged, but the crisis was the worst since the Great Depression and isn't yet over. Unemployment levels, for example, are still rising. Reliable forecasts have joblessness climbing to nearly 11 percent officially in the United States.

Moreover, the prospects for a quick and robust recovery seem dim. Some economists, including mainstream thinkers, argue that economic stagnation is just as likely as a vigorous recovery.

In their view, the economy could operate at sub-normal levels in terms of growth, capacity utilization, employment, and income for an extended period of time. Or to put it differently, the tendencies toward stagnation are stronger than the tendencies toward full recovery.

Interestingly, this insight isn't new:

"It is an outstanding characteristic of the economic system in which we live that ... it seems capable of remaining in a chronic condition of sub-normal activity for a considerable period without any marked tendency either towards recovery or towards complete collapse."

The author is British economist John Maynard Keynes, the quote is from his masterpiece, "The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money", and the year is 1936. Keynes' insight, however, fell out of favor among traditional economists with the resumption of vigorous growth in the core capitalist countries following WW II.

Ironically, it was Marxist economists, and especially Paul Sweezy and Harry Magdoff, who further theorized this dynamic of U.S. capitalism during this period.

But in the wake of the present economic crisis, Keynes' notion of long-term sub-par economic performance is reentering the mainstream dialogue, but clothed with a new name - "the new normal."

In the "new normal" universe, conditions for a fresh round of capital accumulation and economic growth exist on the supply side of the equation. Because of the depth and scale of the current downturn, inefficient plant, equipment, and businesses have been destroyed, a plentiful pool of unemployed wage labor is now available, the price of labor power (wages/salaries) is cheaper, interest rates are low, and economic power is further concentrated and centralized in the hands of fewer industrial, service and financial corporations.

But on the demand side of the equation, conditions for accumulation (profit making) are far less favorable. Demand (consumption and investment, domestic and global), and again because of the economic crisis (evaporation of wealth, layoffs, foreclosures, wage implosion, mountains of debt to be paid off, etc.) is insufficient relative to the productive capacity of the global economy. And there are many reasons to think that this will not change in the near or medium term.

Indeed, it is hard to see where the new dynamism to power economic growth, employment, research, and broadly shared income gains will come from other than a government financed and directed economic development project. Such a project should be sustainable, green, maximize worker and community input and decision making, and dynamic enough to give a growth impulse to the whole economy.

An obvious objection that will arise among friends, as well as foes, is that the federal deficit is out of control now and a project of this size goes way beyond the scope of government and would represent a massive intrusion into people's lives.

The federal deficit is at record levels and there are dangers to be sure, but nothing as big as the danger (and costs) of long-term stagnation to the American people. Moreover, some of the financing could come from a reduction in the military budget and a shift of taxes to Wall Street and corporations.

As for government intrusion, federally directed development could encourage municipal and regional authorities to plan and organize major projects as well as channel investment dollars to small and medium sized businesses and worker/community cooperatives.

Whether a developmental project like this sees the light of day depends only in a small way on its feasibility and necessity. In a larger sense it rests on which of the competing sides (there are more than two on the political landscape) are able to frame the national conversation and win active popular majorities to its vision.

At this moment, political strength, moral authority, and public opinion tilts in the direction of the new administration and the broader movement that elected him, but not to the extent that it is able to win such radical economic reforms, assuming for the moment that everyone sees their necessity.

That task lies ahead.



Comments

By:

Alan L. Maki
Co-Chair
Lake-of-the-Woods Communist Club



While the next lesson or step as suggested is very important and should figure prominently in what we do, even more important is that Barack Obama and the Democrats be told in no uncertain terms that they will not be receiving our votes unless they come through with what people expected from them when they went to the polls in the last election.

These people have to be held accountable right here and now.

It is nothing short of criminal that Barack Obama and the Democrats have refused to legislate a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions. There is precedent for this action. It is a moral imperative and a political responsibility to the American people who are being victimized by Wall Street coupon clippers, parasites and all kinds of rapacious vultures, not least of which are the mortgage bankers and the health insurance industry.

The majority of the people who went to the polls did so looking to end these dirty wars--- not ten or fifty or one-hundred years from now; but now.

This sentiment can be summed up and is reflected in: Not another death; not another dime.

The majority of the people in this country went to the polls in anticipation of peace and real progressive health care reform of people before profits; not Obama's bogus health insurance reform or any kind of a scam called "the public option." People have spoken very clearly, they want single-payer universal health care and a vastly expanded public health care sector that is publicly financed, publicly administered with delivery of health care services along the lines of VA or the Indian Health Service... neither of which Obama and the Democrats have fully funded as required by their constitutional mandate.

Let's get specific here.

People have real problems requiring real solutions.

Most Americans are feeling just the way this labor leader feels as quoted in the Boston Globe:

“It’s beyond belief to me,’’ said Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. While Obama and Congress inherited “a big mess’’ from Bush, Haynes said, “there aren’t any excuses anymore. If you can’t deliver health care, and you can’t deliver jobs, and if you can’t deliver [card check legislation] , and you can’t figure out how to take care of the working people of this great city and country, you don’t deserve to stay in office.’’


The time has come to stop talking in vague terms about "developing programs" for the "next election" and this so-called "coalition" without leaders and a "coalition" without a name.

The time has come to organize a "people's lobby" along the lines of "the people's front" with real people as its leaders and real people and organizations among the members and to go to Barack Obama and the Democrats and tell them:

End these dirty wars. Use the money to finance real health care reforms along the lines people have been demanding and anticipated they would be getting in return for their votes... instead of maintaining 800 U.S. military bases on foreign soil dotting the globe, create 800 public health care centers across the United States serving as the bases of support for the required 30,000 local community health care centers. This would create millions of jobs at good pay with good benefits with the health care workers employed in these centers becoming government employees.


We are talking about something so fundamental and basic to anything passing itself off as democracy--- accountability--- that a broad mobilization of the American people, especially the working class, in support of these demands will be a tremendous rebuff to reaction and the ultra-right posing threats to our now fragile democracy... such as it is; not at all cracked up to what it is claimed to be in the first place.

Working people who produce every bit of the tremendous wealth in this country have never had a seat at the table when it comes to the real decision-making and this needs to change; and change quickly if we are going to save ourselves from this road to ruin as capitalism is on the skids to oblivion taking us all along down the short bumpy, dangerous ride on the way to perdition.

Peace really is the key to health care reform... our call should be for public policies and programs--- including health care--- that put people before profits.

What is required is not coming up with issues and devising programs... the issues and the solutions are already part of the national dialog taking place in "the public square."

What needs to be done is bring together everyone and anyone and the organizations they belong to in a very broad people's front... or people's lobby... coalition... call it what you will.

Wall Street is our enemy.

No peace; no votes.
No health care; no votes.

Democracy is all about accountability.

Not only about accountability from Obama and the Democrats; but, there is the matter of accountability from those who claim to be the leaders of organizations from the labor unions to the Communist Party when it comes to understanding and articulating "What Needs To Be Done."

Alan L. Maki
Co-Chair;
Lake-of-the-Woods Communist Club
Minnesota

Posted by Alan L. Maki, 21/10/2009




By:

Rosalio Munoz
Board Member
Los Angeles Workers' Center






One of the next steps following up on the thrust of the article is developing a legislative agenda pointing in this direction for the 2010 elections. Such a program should appropriately identify and project itself as solidly with the union movement. It should aim to build the biggest, broadest participation in the ongoing legislative struggles and all aspects of the election. Perhaps a certain focus on young workers.

Posted by Rosalio Munoz, 21/10/2009



By:

Jim Lane
Writer for People's World


•This commentary comes just as we Texas communists finished, for the time being, posting our programmed lessons on basic economics. If our assumptions are correct, then it seems that even a massive government intervention on the side of jobs and workers' rights would only be a stopgap in capitalism's staggering downturn.

A demand that really seems worth re-inventing is "30 for 40 with no cut in pay" to get the workweek lowered to 30 hours while maintaining present pay scales. Is there any other serious idea that would address long-term unemployment? Most of the missing jobs either went overseas or were eaten by automation. At any rate, they aren't coming back.

Productivity hit 6.4% last quarter, and has generally risen every quarter since it's been recorded. Albert Einstein is supposed to have said in 1934, "Only a fraction of the abvailable human labor in the world is now needed for the production of the total amount of consumption goods necessary to life. Under a completely laissez-faire economic system, this fact is bound to lead to unemployment."

Let's cut the workweek!
Posted by Jim Lane, 21/10/2009



By:

Betty Smith
CPUSA and International Publishers
http://www.intpubnyc.com/

•Generally good, but it should say "some" Marxist
economists....Lumer, Perlo et al didn't do this...and they
get little notice or credit for writings that still stand up
well. We've even had requests to reprint Lumer's
"Poverty, Its Roots and Future" as one of the best
explanations ever, even though his dollar-and-cents
figures are of course out of date.

Also, when do we develop a program to meet this
crisis? General descriptions don't put anyone to work.

Posted by Betty Smith, 22/10/2009

And this is from the Associated Press...


By:

Alan L. Maki

•I find this particular comment to be very interesting and note that it has apparently stymied further discussion on Sam Webb's most important article concerning "the new normal" which is Wall Street speak for its current campaign to use this capitalist economic crisis as an excuse to drive down the wages and over-all standard of living of the working class with Barack Obama's and the Democrat's help.

I know a lot of Terrie's; I don't know if I know this particular Terrie who posted this comment, or not:


"•For the record, I know communists. I work with communists and Alan Maki is no communist.

Posted by Terrie, 21/10/2009 11:01pm (11 hours ago) "

What I find interesting is that Terrie would post something like this without taking issue with the ideas and point-of-view being expressed.

I have circulated this article by Sam Webb quite widely as the Editor of PW requests be done with articles from the new People's World because I think this article merits a great deal of discussion.

In "Terrie's" eyes I may not be a "Communist" like the communists she knows.

But, perhaps "Terrie" would like to explain just what me being a communist--- or not, in her view--- has to do with saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and two-thousand to 2,500 jobs in the process?

After all, whether or not I am a communist ---in "Terrie's" opinion; I am not the one implementing economic policies in this country with the intent of establishing "the new normal" as a way of life for working people for many years to come. Nor, do I make any of the decisions involved in closing mines, mills and plants and tossing workers by the millions out into the streets. Nor do I make any of the decisions to reduce the work week of employees from 40 hours to 30 hours with an even more drastic cut in pay and loss of all benefits including health care which many public employees at township, county, city and state governments are being subjected to.

I have sent "Terrie's" comment and this essay by Sam Webb and all the comments along to a number of Minnesota state legislators and to a number of people in the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party and the casino managements we are fighting in our efforts to win living wages and a smoke-free working environment with the full protections other workers enjoy under state and federal labor laws ... I am sure that "Terrie's" comments will enable them to sleep tonight.

And, hopefully, whether or not I am a Communist--- in "Terrie's opinion"--- will not deter her from becoming a "warrior for justice" fighting for peace, real health care reform and the rights and improved livelihoods and standard of living for all working people...

And for socialism as an alternative to this rotten capitalist system now on the road to oblivion--- which has Wall Street dragging us down the very short, bumpy, winding and dangerous road to perdition where we will rest in a "new normal" state.

At first I didn't think that "Terrie's" comment had anything to do with Sam Webb's essay on "the new normal;" on second thought, perhaps "Terrie's" comment has a great deal to do with this essay on "the new normal."

And, speaking of the "profits in the pipeline" which Sam Webb brings forward in his commentary and analysis of "the new normal;" I have a suggestion for another article for the People's World.

It would be nice to see an article about the Enbridge Pipeline... the huge pipeline that will carry the oil in the tar-sands of Alberta to the Great Lakes region of the United States for processing... because, in addition to the environmental concerns raised in the PWW, there is the matter of lack of enforcement of affirmative action for Native American workers in hiring for this pipeline construction... might this "new normal" include not enforcing affirmative action guidelines for hiring, too?

"Terrie;" for the record--- I will let the views I express speak for me as to what kind of "communist" I am... did you ever consider I just might not want to be the kind of "communist" like the "communists" you know and work with?

Posted by Alan L. Maki, 22/10/2009




Higher jobless rates could be new normal

By TOM RAUM (AP) – 2 days ago

WASHINGTON — Even with an economic revival, many U.S. jobs lost during the recession may be gone forever and a weak employment market could linger for years.

That could add up to a "new normal" of higher joblessness and lower standards of living for many Americans, some economists are suggesting.

The words "it's different this time" are always suspect. But economists and policy makers say the job-creating dynamics of previous recoveries can't be counted on now.

Here's why:

_ The auto and construction industries helped lead the nation out of past recessions. But the carnage among Detroit's automakers and the surplus of new and foreclosed homes and empty commercial properties make it unlikely these two industries will be engines of growth anytime soon.

_ The job market is caught in a vicious circle: Without more jobs, U.S. consumers will have a hard time increasing their spending; but without that spending, businesses might see little reason to start hiring.

_ Many small and midsize businesses are still struggling to obtain bank loans, impeding their expansion plans and constraining overall economic growth.

_ Higher-income households are spending less because of big losses on their homes, retirement plans and other investments. Lower-income households are cutting back because they can't borrow like they once did.

That the recovery in jobs will be long and drawn out is something on which economists and policy makers can basically agree, even as their proposals for remedies vary widely.

Retrenching businesses will be slow in hiring back or replacing workers they laid off. Many of the 7.2 million jobs the economy has shed since the recession began in December 2007 may never come back.

"This Great Recession is an inflection point for the economy in many respects. I think the unemployment rate will be permanently higher, or at least higher for the foreseeable future," said Mark Zandi, chief economist and co-founder of Moody's Economy.com.

"The collective psyche has changed as a result of what we've been through. And we're going to be different as a result," said Zandi, who formerly advised Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and now is consulted by Democrats in the administration and in Congress,

Even before the recession, many jobs had vanished or been shipped overseas amid a general decline of U.S. manufacturing. The severest downturn since the Great Depression has accelerated the process.

Many economists believe the recession reversed course in the recently ended third quarter and they predict modest growth in the nation's gross domestic product over the next few years. Yet the unemployment rate is currently at a 26-year high of 9.8 percent — and likely to top 10 percent soon and stay there a while.

"Many factors are pushing against a quick recovery," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute. "Things will come back. But it's going to take a long time. I think we will likely see elevated unemployment at least until 2014."

At best, many economists see an economic recovery without a return to moderate unemployment. At worst, they suggest the fragile recovery could lose steam and drag the economy back under for a double-dip recession.

"We will need to grind out this recovery step by step," President Barack Obama said earlier this month.

Obama and congressional Democrats are having a hard time agreeing on how to keep the recovery going and help millions of unemployed workers — short of another round of stimulus spending amid rising voter alarm over soaring federal deficits.

So far, they've been unable to win even a simple three-month extension of unemployment insurance for people in states with jobless rates above 8.5 percent.

The extension easily passed the House earlier this month but is bogged down in the Senate over disputes over which states would get the funds. Hundreds of thousands of people have already lost their benefits or are about to lose them.

The White House credits the president's $787 billion stimulus plan passed in February for keeping job losses from becoming even worse. Since Obama took office in January, the economy has lost 3.4 million jobs.

Republicans argue that the stimulus program has not worked as a job producer and is a waste of tax money. And last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a multimillion advertising campaign to celebrate small business entrepreneurs — and to argue that further government intervention will not spur permanent job growth.

Chamber leaders called for creation of more than 20 million new private-sector jobs over the next decade, saying it's needed to replace jobs lost in the recession and to keep pace with population growth.

"The government can support a few jobs in the short-run" while free enterprise is the only system that can create 20 million of them, said Thomas Donohue, the chamber president.

To many economists, such a goal seems unreachable given today's altered economic landscape.

"It's a new normal that U.S. growth is going to be anemic on average for years. Right now, the prospect is bleak for anything other than a particularly high unemployment rate and a weak jobs-creating machine," said Allen Sinai, president of Decision Economics Inc. He says he doubts that unemployment will dip below 7 percent anytime soon.

Many economists consider a jobless rate of 4 to 5 percent as reflecting a "full employment" economy, one in which nearly everyone who wants a job has one. After the 2001 recession the rate climbed to 5.8 percent in 2002 and peaked at 6.3 percent in 2003 before easing back to 4.6 percent for 2006 and 2007.

Will unemployment ever get back to such levels?

"I wouldn't say never. But I do think it's going to be a long time," said Bruce Bartlett, a former Treasury Department economist and the author of the book "The New American Economy: The Failure of Reaganomics and a New Way Forward."

"The linkage between growth in the economy and growth in jobs is not what it was. I don't know if it's permanently broken or temporarily broken. But clearly we are not seeing the sort of increase in employment that one would normally expect," said Bartlett.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Why did the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party allow a racist Community Development Director to undermine and circumvent affirmative action?

October 20, 2009



Rita Albrecht,

Community Development Director, City of Bemidji. Minnesota

rita.albrecht@ci.bemidji.mn.us



Ms. Albrecht;



I would like to know why in all of your planning surrounding the Bemidji Regional Events Center (BREC)… from all the initial planning to the multi-cultural aspects of the ground-breaking ceremonies to the many intricate particulars you have considered from the art-work to adorn the BREC to its shrubbery, not once did you consider employment and affirmative action policies as to construction, maintenance and staffing the completed Bemidji Regional Events Center?



Now that this topic of jobs has been broached--- again; what do you intend to do to see to it that this most disgraceful, racist injustice is remedied?



Certainly you must see that there is something wrong when you promote multi-cultural awareness and appreciation as a cover for hiding racist hiring practices.



Now, what steps are going to be taken to see to it that Native Americans are going to be hired at all levels and paid real living wages and salaries in staffing the completed BREC?



I assume you think my questions are just as important as any of the minute detail you have been praised for considering by the likes of the Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, John McCarthy who fronts for the interests of mobsters like the Fertitta family who are looking forward to increasing their already obscene wealth using the BREC in promoting the UFC--- Ultimate Fighting Championship scam being passed off as “sport.”



You have even worked out details about how to shuttle those attending BREC activities to the smoke-filled local casinos where workers are employed at poverty wages without any rights or protections provided by state or federal labor laws.



Could you not work out a way to transport and shuttle Native American workers for employment in the building and construction of this tax-payer financed Bemidji Regional Events Center? Did not John McCarthy offer the services of the casino shuttles? McCarthy must have furnished free food to the Beltrami County Democratic Farmer-Labor Party fundraiser expecting to get something in return… since John McCarthy and the DFL have refused all comment, let me suggest what McCarthy received in return for furnishing the walleye dinner was Democrats, once again, looking the other way as Native Americans were denied good-paying union construction jobs because the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association doesn’t want casino workers getting the idea that it is only through good union contracts combined with the protections offered by state and federal labor legislation that can provide a decent and healthy working environment at real living wages--- the only chance working people have to rise from poverty.



No doubt, Ms. Albrecht, you have earned the praises of John McCarthy and the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association because your intent is to deny Native Americans employment in staffing the Bemidji Regional Events Center in the very same way you connived to deny equal employment opportunities to those hired to build and construct the BREC.



Let us have answers to these questions at the same time you post all the jobs that will be available for hire in staffing and maintaining the Bemidji Regional Events Center. Hopefully these answers and the job postings from you will be forth-coming in time to prevent further racist injustices.



Since you have seen fit to use the news media and various list serves to tout your accomplishments regarding the Bemidji Regional Events Center, I assume you are not opposed to discussing this problem in the same public manner.



Perhaps you and Senator Mary Olson and all those who participated in the BREC groundbreaking ceremony would like to explain to the Native Americans who participated why they were welcome to perform drum and dance ceremonies but had the door closed on them when it came to employment?



Maybe I should ask you, also; are you aware of affirmative action laws regarding hiring here in Minnesota?



You might not find this discussion as thrilling as to what kind of shrubbery will adorn the BREC but, I would appreciate you indulging me just the same.



Sincerely,



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



http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Canada sends a socialist, working class union leader and NDP politician to Washington as its Ambassador


Canada's most reactionary ever politician, Prime minister Stephen Harper, has been forced to send Manitoba's Gary Doer, a socialist working class union leader and NDP politician to Washington as its Ambassador because of mounting pressure from the labor, peace and progressive movements in Canada looking for more sane international relations and complementing the international hopes for a new U.S. foreign policy--- which has not yet materialized under the Obama Administration; but, which, is sure to be given a great big push with the arrival of Gary Doer in Washington D.C. as Canada's new Ambassador to the United States.

U.S. peace, labor, health care and environmental activists should start beating a path to Gary Doer's door before the multi-national corporations have a chance to mount their campaign, which they are sure to do in attempt to keep Canada within the fold of U.S. imperialism.

Gary Doer has proven to be North America's most popular progressive politician in decades as he headed up the Manitoba New Democratic Party for many years leading to becoming Manitoba's Premier where he led the efforts to substantially improve the lives, living conditions and standard of living for the working class.

Gary Doer, a rank-and-file worker, is a past president of the powerful Manitoba Government Employees Union.

Americans should seek to learn from Gary Doer about Canada's health care system and working people would do well to learn from Gary Doer what kind of political movement it takes to bring workers to power--- even if that power is only limited to political power at this stage of the class struggle within the capitalist economic system and does not yet include economic power.

For working people in the United States... the arrival of Canada's new Ambassador, Gary Doer, is much more important than the election of Barack Obama because Doer has demonstrated the ability to lead--- and win--- struggles against capitalist corporate power and imperialist domination.

Ironically, the American people, working people, now really do have a real representative in Washington D.C.--- even if he is from Canada... now, there is something to think about!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stalled agenda irks labor leaders; Unions see little action from Democrats in D.C.

This is a comment I made in response to the posting of this article which appeared in the Boston Globe.

This statement here, quoted in this article---below, needs to be emphasized over and over again; it should be put on blogs and websites and in leaflets and quoted in letters to the editor and posted on every single union bulletin board in this country:

“It’s beyond belief to me,’’ said Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. While Obama and Congress inherited “a big mess’’ from Bush, Haynes said, “there aren’t any excuses anymore. If you can’t deliver health care, and you can’t deliver jobs, and if you can’t deliver [card check legislation] , and you can’t figure out how to take care of the working people of this great city and country, you don’t deserve to stay in office.’’


Ok, sounds great; real militant... but, why hasn't anyone taken the next step and said to Obama and the Democrats:

If you don't deliver peace, real progressive health care reform, jobs at real living wages and card check; you will not be getting our votes?

This would be the very simple and common sense thing for anyone with the least little bit of organizing knowledge to bring forward because we all know that most people did not vote for Obama and the Democrats or for any of what they are presently doing--- all of which is against the interests of the working class, because Obama and the Democrats never articulated their agenda when seeking votes from working people which pretty much makes a mockery out of what is passing in this country for democracy.

Really, people were led to believe they would get one thing from Barack Obama and the Democrats and all they have received is a kick in the ass.

Even the Progressive Democrats of America in their statement released today, conceded defeat on single-payer and the Kucinich amendment and then go on to say... we will be back in several years... how convenient; "several" just happens to be three; just in time for these "progressives" for Obama to drum up a campaign in support of Barack Obama for his second term.

Again, we need to ask: Why wouldn't Tim Carpenter and the Progressive Democrats of America declare: We are organizing for the next three years--- organizing to make sure not one single Democrat who betrayed us doesn't get a single progressive vote.

Why the hesitancy to organize people around the issue: In a democracy, people are entitled to get what they need for a better life in return for their votes--- no peace, no health care, no jobs, no card check... no vote.

And, on top of this, the AFL-CIO and other unions, just today "released"--- it was supposedly leaked from UAW Region 8--- a letter stating that they would be backing Obama by essentially giving in to him by trying to pass off anything Obama and the Democrats do as some kind of victory for labor.

Well, if you keep agreeing to whatever Obama and the Democrats dish out to you, you kind of have to call this a victory.

The AFL-CIO leadership obviously doesn't have the back-bone to stand up for its members who overwhelmingly insist that nothing less than single-payer is acceptable--- and most Americans want an expanded public health care sector. People are not stupid; they know that any government spending so much money on these dirty wars can cough-up with the funds for free health care for everyone.

Just stop the wars and spend the money on health care.

Why is it so hard for the leadership of the AFL-CIO to take a stand for peace and reordering this country's priorities... do they think their members will not support this kind of leadership, or what?

And the entire process of sucking up to the Democrats who are nothing but a bunch of dumb donkeys starts all over again beginning in 2010, leading up to 2012.

With this kind of "strategy" it is no surprise that labor is at such a low point organizationally... here they are talking about organizing un-organized workers and how the labor movement needs "warriors for justice" and these very "leaders" can't even come up with something so basic as telling Obama and the Democrats, "Either come through for us or forget our votes; we will organize our own party."

Furthermore, it is the epitome of arrogance for the Democrats to keep blaming everything on Bush and the Republicans because they either supported everything the Republicans did or at least refused to try to stop them... usually it was support.

There is only one solution to putting an end to all of this crap: grassroots/rank-and-file organizing around a progressive agenda aimed at getting people to with-hold their votes from these politicians unless they get something that will make their lives better.

Health care is a very important issue because it unites all working people and the left should jump all over this issue.

In fact, I don't understand why Michael Zweig and Bill Fletcher didn't take this tact when they had the opportunity on Bill Moyer's nationally syndicated PBS program.

We keep hearing these people say that they are going to lean on Obama and the Democrats... well, what more appropriate way to "lean" than to tell them they will not be getting the votes from progressives; and then proceed to organize to demonstrate that they mean business.

What other accountability is there if we don't wrest this accountability through our votes. Our votes were important when Obama and the Democrats needed them to be elected; don't we have the right to now use these very same votes to hold them accountable? If we don't have this right and aren't prepared to exercise this right, elections mean absolutely nothing.

Maybe Howard Zinn would care to comment?

These labor leaders are "irked;" working people are suffering and people, mostly working people, are dying.

Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Check out my blog:
http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/


Date: Tuesday, October 13, 2009, 3:20 AM

Another comment on this article by someone else from a post on a list server:

(The real question is why should anyone be surprised? As – since 1948 - NO Democrat President has ever delivered on his campaign promises.

(What Dennis Kucinich says below is correct, except – as usual - he doesn't draw the necessary conclusions.)


Stalled agenda irks labor leaders
Unions see little action from Democrats in D.C.


http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/10/12/stalled_agenda_in_washington_irks_labor_leaders/

By Susan Milligan
The Boston Globe
October 12, 2009

WASHINGTON - With Democrats in control of Congress and the White House, organized labor had hoped to be celebrating a long list of legislative successes this year. Instead, labor’s agenda has been pushed down on the priority list by the very lawmakers they helped elect, leaving some union backers frustrated.

Labor is eager to win passage of a “card check’’ bill, a measure that would make it easier for workers to form unions, but the White House and Congress took up a Wall Street bailout plan first.

In the health care debate, labor is seeking to avoid a tax on expensive health care benefits. But President Obama, who slammed the idea during the campaign, this summer indicated he might be open to such an idea.

The Obama administration is also encouraging creation of some charter schools, a long-time concern of teachers’ unions, who fear money will be diverted from other public schools. And an increase in the minimum wage, which supporters pushed in the last Congress, when Republican George W. Bush was in the White House, hasn’t even been introduced in this Congress.

“It’s beyond belief to me,’’ said Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. While Obama and Congress inherited “a big mess’’ from Bush, Haynes said, “there aren’t any excuses anymore. If you can’t deliver health care, and you can’t deliver jobs, and if you can’t deliver [card check legislation] , and you can’t figure out how to take care of the working people of this great city and country, you don’t deserve to stay in office.’’


The poor economy and the attention demanded by such issues as health care, Afghanistan, climate change, and the pending closure of the Guantanamo Bay prison have put labor unions’ concerns far down on the list in Washington, analysts and lawmakers say.

Many labor union leaders say they still have faith that Obama will push for their legislative wish list, especially the so-called card check bill to allow workers to organize unions without a secret ballot, once he gets a health care bill signed. And while unions are anxious about provisions in the health care bill that might affect union members, leaders say the larger goal of getting closer to universal health care is most important.

The White House is reassuring. “We’ve been able to make tremendous progress on issues important to the labor community,’’ said White House spokesman Bill Burton. “We have a good partnership, and we’re going to continue to work hard on issues important to the labor community.’’

Still, some labor advocates within Congress are venting their frustration.

“Labor is the core of the Democratic party. Labor has always delivered for the Democratic party. But the Democratic party doesn’t always deliver for labor,’’ said Representative Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio. Obama “still has time,’’ Kucinich said, but he added that he thinks Democrats need to step up and help workers to merit the campaign help unions can provide.

Only a small portion - 12.4 percent - of the workforce is unionized, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Excluding public employment, the percentage is even lower; just 7.4 percent of private-sector workers belong to a union. Union organizing is especially tough during a recession, said Vanderbilt University labor specialist Dan Cornfield, since people are more focused on getting and keeping a job than on securing workplace organizing rights.

But despite their low numbers, unions still corral their members to provide Democrats with crucial election help: phone banks, canvassing, and get-out-the- vote drives.

Union-sponsored political action committees are still heavy campaign contributors. In the 2007-2008 election cycle, PACs representing labor unions doled out $66.4 million to federal candidates, with 92 percent of it going to Democrats. Less than a year into the 2010 election cycle, the PACs have given almost $16 million to federal candidates, with 93 percent going to elect Democrats.

White House aides say that Obama remains committed to passing the Employee Free Choice Act, the formal name for the card check bill, and note that the president signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act early in his tenure. That law makes it easier for employees to sue for pay discrimination for a longer period of time after the alleged violations occurred.

But the bill is languishing, as Democrats and White House negotiators focus on health care and financial regulatory legislation. Obama, while giving verbal support for the bill, is not putting political muscle behind it, at least for the moment.

“A lot of folks on the left . . . thought that it would be this complete revolution in American society, and things just don’t work that way,’’ said Glen Spencer, executive director of the workforce freedom initiative at the US Chamber of Commerce, which opposes the card-check bill.

“The president is looking at some very significant issues, the kinds of things that really shape a legacy. This bill would be very tough to do, may not be successful, and is only going to be seen for what it is: a payoff to this large interest group that put a lot of money into their campaigns.’’

National labor leaders want to take advantage of the rare political advantage of having such Democratic dominance in Washington. But they say they are willing to be patient.

“The administration has been dealt a really tough economic hand. They’re doing the best they can,’’ said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Anna Burger, secretary-treasurer of the Service Employees International Union, said the health care bill was also important to the union, and she understood that Obama needed to get it finished first. Other leaders said that Obama has put strong union advocates in key jobs at the Department of Labor.

“On balance, he’s been a very pro-labor president ,’’ said Chuck Loveless, director of legislation at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. But if Obama and Congress do not deliver for labor, lawmakers may lose the campaign help they will need next year, when Democrats face serious electoral challenges, Kucinich and Spencer each said.

Representative Marcy Kaptur, Democrat of Ohio, acknowledged the labor strides Obama has made but said it was not yet enough. “The president could do much more to give visibility to the cause of working men and women in this country, and their plight,’’ Kaptur said.

© Copyright 2009 Globe Newspaper Company.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Enforcement of Affirmative Action: Missing from Obama's--- and the Democrat's--- Agenda

This letter to the editor appeared in northern Minnesota's leading daily newspaper, The Bemidji Pioneer, (published Sunday, October 11, 2009) containing this introductory title which says it all:

"County governments employ few American Indians"

http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/event/article/id/100012354/


The "Letter to the Editor" is then published...

At election time all the politicians come looking for native American votes and our money — dollars derived from Indian gaming revenues. The real story of what these politicians are doing for Indian people is told in the employment statistics of local county governments:

Beltrami County:.. 16 native Anishinabe out of a workforce of between 385-400 employees

Cass County ... six native Anishinabe out of a workforce of 300 employees

Itasca County … one native Anishinabe out of a workforce of between 380-400 employees

Hubbard County ... Unknown native Anishinabe out of a workforce of 195 employees

Crow Wing County ... one native Anishinabe of a workforce of 489 employees

Our counties receive tremendous resources from the state and federal governments not to mention local tax revenues paid by Indian people, too.

How can anyone claim that affirmative action guidelines are being adhered to when we find this kind of racism in hiring practices at the county level of government?

Is there any wonder unemployment on Indian reservations is over 50 percent and poverty is all pervasive?

Is there any doubt that the disgraceful and deplorable conditions of poverty among native Americans is not the result of an official government policy of institutionalized racism permeating the highest to lowest levels of government?

How can we expect that affirmative action in hiring policies will be enforced on all these huge construction jobs now receiving billions of dollars in “stimulus funds” if no one has monitored and enforced affirmative action guidelines at the county government level where employment practices are easiest to control?

Obviously, this situation results because we have not one single native American sitting in the Minnesota state Legislature demanding accountability from any level of government and none of those making the claims they are looking out for our rights are doing anything.

Fewer than 30 native Americans are employed out of over 1,500 workers employed in the five county governments comprising Senate District 4; how does the present senator explain this?

This situation is a disgrace; just like the poverty which institutionalized racism in hiring practices breeds.

Gregory W. Paquin

Bemidji



Note: Gregory Paquin is the head of Native American Labor Union #12 and is a Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (MNDFL) candidate for Minnesota State Senate District #4 a seat currently held by Democrat Mary Olson whose campaign manager is John McCarthy, the head of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association.

I would add to this "letter to the editor" that Barack Obama and those supporting him have not done one single thing to see to it that long-standing affirmative action policies in place since the days of President Lyndon Johnson are being enforced.

Greg Paquin is right: Failure to enforce affirmative action in hiring only breeds greater poverty and the figure he has cited from an area in the United States with one of the largest Native American populations drives home this point.

Which begs the question:

Why aren't all these liberals, progressives, those on the left and the "leaders" of organized labor like Richard Trumka who supported Barack Obama and who roared that it was racism which threatened the election of Barack Obama, now stepping up to the plate and demanding stringent enforcement of Affirmative Action policies and guidelines already in place at every level of government as trillions of dollars in "stimulus funds" under the "American Recovery and Investment Act" now being dispersed?

Since these jobs being created will soon disappear along with the funds almost as quickly as they are dispersed; what is required is an immediate response to this problem... no doubt this community of left-wing intellectuals and university professors supporting Obama will call for an "investigation" years from now to find out how it happened that so much money could have been spent without the required oversight needed to assure that communities of people of color hardest hit and stricken by poverty were "overlooked" as trillions of "stimulus fund" dollars were spent.

In fact, if the billions of dollars being allocated for road repairs finding its way into the coffers of private corporations and contractors in the form of profits were instead ear-marked for poverty elimination through meaningful long-term employment initiatives on Indian Reservations like the Red Lake Nation, Leech Lake and White Earth Indian Reservations, poverty could practically be eliminated or at least brought "down to" and in line with the poverty, as disgraceful as this is, of the general population of this country.

Even the new head of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, Shar Knutson, has remained shamefully silent concerning institutionalized racism and its role in maintaining and expanding poverty in Minnesota.

Noted civil rights activist, Julian Bond, speaking on Minnesota Public Radio, fully knowledgeable of the deplorable poverty on Indian Reservations not once mentioned the role of institutionalized racism in perpetuating the most horrendous conditions of poverty being intentionally maintained by governments at every level who are refusing to enforce affirmative action guidelines.

Of course, the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association does not want to see Native Americans sitting in the Minnesota State legislature because they are aware that the first question that will be asked is:

Why are workers being paid poverty wages for working in smoke-filled casinos without any rights under state or federal labor laws?

Democrats who created these "Compacts" which gave birth to the Indian Gaming Industry are now looking to get their fingers on casino revenues as a quick-fix to Minnesota's, and other state's, deep financial problems exacerbated by this capitalist economic crisis made worse by billions of dollars of debt... and a situation made even more severe by government squandering our resources on wars and militarism.

A recent posting to a Democratic Party controlled list serve by, Marc Asch, a wealthy businessman prominent in Democratic Party circles in Minnesota calling for re-opening these "Compacts" so the state could get some of the revenues along with the mobsters who own the slot machines, declared:

From: Marc Asch

Subject: Re: press conference from legislators

To: mn-politics@forums.e-democracy.org

Date: Monday, October 5, 2009, 2:21 PM


Lee (Surma) wrote:
> Bcause the Indian Gaming Lobby and the Democrat party
> have reached nirvana and have become one in the same. If
> we taxed Indian Gaming like other states do,
Lee continues his practice of creating alternate realities.

Indian Gaming is controlled by a compact negotiated and signed by two
Minnesota Governors. The original compact was negotiated and signed by
Gov. Perpich (DFL). It was replaced by a later compact expanding the
type of gambling permitted negotiated and signed by Gov. Carlson (R.)

Governors of both parties are responsible for where we now are in our
ability to extract revenue from Indian Gaming. Certainly both signed
bad deals for the people, citizens and workers of MN. They not only
failed to extract reasonable payments in exchange for permitting Indian
gaming but they left workers without adequate workplace protections and
injured customers without access to fair and unbiased legal protection.

The how and why of two MN Governors getting it so wrong is a fascinating
story that I have never any solid reporting on the the press or in book
form.

Our failures in this area have been curiously bipartisan.

--
Marc Asch marc@asch.org
34 North Oaks Road 651-484-9037
North Oaks, MN 55127

"Democracy is not a spectator sport."
Craig S. Wilson

Marc Asch


Noticeably, Marc Asch and the Democrats who in fact created this problem no matter how feebly Mr. Asch tries to portray this as a "bi-partisan" creation, are now looking to get their fingers into gaming revenues and profits only after they have no other place to look to come up with funds to solve the state's budget problems... although, this group of extremely wealthy business people led by Mr. Asch now controlling the Democratic Party in Minnesota which is led by their hand-picked leader, Brian Melendez--- a wealthy corporate attorney and backer of Barack Obama, have refused to consider they should perhaps levy a tax on their own obscene incomes lest Minnesota's historically progressive electorate starts calling for a tax on the wealthy to solve the problems created by this financial and economic crisis.

That Mr. Asch and his wealthy band of Democrats known as the "Summit Hill Club" and organized through the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Democratic Party's "Business Caucus," also profit from a working class divided when affirmative action guidelines are ignored and not enforced says something about how concerned Mr. Asch really is about the rights and the plight of casino workers... Native American workers form the base of the casino industry's workforce.

Poverty can run rampant in creating a living hell for Native Americans forced onto reservations; but, let the state slide into bankruptcy and these Democrats now want to call attention to the plight of casino workers as their excuse to re-open these "Compacts" which should have protected the rights of casino workers and extracted revenues for the state right from the very beginning of these "Compacts" being created... these Draconian "Compacts" are part of the racist and anti-labor legacy of the Humphrey family's dominance over Minnesota politics for so many years.

Mr. Asch and the Democrats have an interesting party line as they seek to protect their own wealth from being taxed; but, casino workers know that their rights and their plight will be ignored in Minnesota by Democrats just like the labor-backed Democrats led by Jennifer Granholm in Michigan ignored the rights and the plight of casino workers as they extracted some of the casino revenues for the state through opening these "Compacts."

A lot of people, most notably those suffering from poverty, are waiting to hear from Mr. Marc Asch and the dozen or so of the Democrats now vying to become the next Governor of Minnesota, what they intend to do right now in seeing to it that affirmative action guidelines are strictly enforced by government agencies like the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

Minnesotans know they can't rely of lame-duck and discredited Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty who is now seeking the Republican nomination for President in 2012 as a way to escape the mess he has left Minnesota in to do anything of benefit for working people, much less enforce affirmative action guidelines.

Minnesota Democrats, including all but one of the dozen, now running for governor, were all involved in killing legislation aimed at saving the jobs of two-thousand Ford workers employed at the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant slated for closure and legislation known as "The Minnesota People's Bailout." Tom Rukavina,the long-serving state representative from Minnesota's Iron Range, who makes no bones about being from the historically liberal and progressive "Farmer-Labor wing of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party" is the lone voice for labor running out of this large field of candidates, and from all appearances it looks like the Democrat's "Business Caucus" is already ganging up on Rukavina, trying to eliminate him from the field of candidates as the mainstream media mocks his efforts.

Rukavina's only hope for success will be determined by how effectively he can link his campaign to the grassroots and rank and file progressives in Minnesota who are active around peace and for enforcement of affirmative action and social and economic justice issues; since the same top echelons in the labor movement who have ignored, chided and ridiculed the "warriors for justice" are mocking and ignoring Rukavina's campaign.

As Richard Trumka and his staff claim they are looking for "warriors for justice," Native Americans in Minnesota are wondering why their plight and the poverty they are forced to endure at levels far exceeding the "average" were not addressed at a recent Political Action Conference sponsored by the Minnesota AFL-CIO and a number of Native American activists have already called upon Shar Knudson and Brad Lehto to explain how this happened with all the talk people heard coming from Richard Trumka that racism needed to be vigorously combated.

Of course, Sam Webb and the People's Weekly World trumpeted similar remarks... and just as similarly all questions of enforcement of affirmative action--- a most important key link in the struggle against racism--- are being ignored.

Is not this story now unfolding in Minnesota grist for the People's Weekly World?

Over the years working people have been able to count on the Communist Party U.S.A. and its publications to lead the way, and often blaze new ground and new paths, in the struggle against racism... today, one can't help but ask why there is such a deafening silence from its leadership and publications when it comes to insisting that Barack Obama and the Democrats monitor and enforce affirmative action guidelines for hiring minorities especially when millions, billions and even trillions of tax-dollars are being spent under the guise of "economic stimulus" which appears to be passing by the poverty plagued Indian Reservations in Minnesota and elsewhere in this country except for a very few short-term, poverty wage jobs.

When I recently very publicly inquired how many Native Americans had been directly hired into programs receiving these "stimulus funds," Brian Melendez, the Chair of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party issued an "order" instructing Minnesota's Democratic elected public officials not to provide me with this information because the information they supplied would be used to "embarrass" them.

What could, or should, be a bigger embarrassment to Democrats claiming the mantle of "progressivism" than their failure to insist that affirmative action guidelines in how our tax-dollars are being spent, should be enforced?

Someone did get some of the facts, and, as we can see, these facts definitely are a major embarrassment... something one would think the United States Department of Justice would be investigating... but, then again, the regional head of the U.S. Department of Justice, Ken Bergeron, boasts that he is a personal friend... of guess who? President Barack Obama.

The entire government of this country is nothing but a web constructed by Wall Street parasites held together by all forms of racism and bigotry--- especially institutionalized racism--- and its twin evil, corruption; Barack Obama has not lifted a finger to turn this situation around--- quite to the contrary, Obama has signaled, by his lack of voice and his intentional inaction in calling for strict enforcement of affirmative action; Obama has given a green light that this pernicious web of exploitation be strengthened rather than torn to smithereens as is required.

Affirmative action must be seen as an important weapon in combating the racist induced poverty in this country, and it is a weapon one would expect any liberal, progressive or those on the left to insist that Barack Obama should wield with enthusiasm; this "club" in the form of affirmative action should be used in smashing racist injustice and the poverty racism breeds.

Alan L. Maki

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Friday, October 9, 2009

Barack Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize








I published my response to Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize on The Huffington Post:

Ironically, the most hypocritical statement (which most likely quite by accident is also the truth) I have ever heard from an American politician, comes from Mr. Steele, the head of the Republican Party, who has probably given us valuable insight into how the 2010 and 2012 elections will proceed and shape-up when he states this so very obvious, basic, elemental and fundamental political truth in asking this question:

"The real question Americans are asking is, What has President Obama actually accomplished?"


Are Democrats and Obama actually so stupid that they do not see what most people see; or, are they just so much a part of this rotten and corrupt capitalist system that they are just playing their assigned role by their Wall Street masters in stringing the American people along in playing a game that they are not even aware they are a part of?

That a warmonger like Barack Obama was actually nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, let alone receiving it, even though he couldn't deliver the Olympics to Chicago, is like we are living inside of a freakish, bizarre Gore Vidal novel... no doubt Barack Obama "winning" the Nobel Peace Prize has provided Gore Vidal the motivation, impetus and material for his next, and final, novel.

We should tell Barack Obama to cherish his Nobel Peace Prize; but, unless these dirty imperialist wars for oil actually end--- he can forget about taking home our votes.

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

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Thursday, October 8, 2009

America Needs Warriors for Justice

Below is the posting of Stewart Acuff who heads up the National Organizing Department of the AFL-CIO which he posted on The Huffington Post on October 2, 2009.

Following Mr. Acuff's post are my comments which Mr. Acuff has not responded to.

On one thing stated by Stewart Acuff I whole-heartedly agree:

America is ready for change.

I could have asked:

Why doesn't the AFL-CIO put "warriors for justice" on its staff as organizers?

Why does the AFL-CIO merely criticize one aspect of capitalism which it knows can not be changed or reformed rather than join the movements and struggles of the rest of the working people around the world for socialism--- the only socially just economic system?

Why did the AFL-CIO pump millions of dollars into Barack Obama's campaign for the presidency rather than spending all that money helping to create a real party for working people like they have in Canada in the New Democratic Party?

Why doesn't the AFL-CIO support a real living wage for every single worker employed in the United States of America (and notice I say every single worker in America rather than every single American worker) based upon real cost of living factors determined by the scientific calculations of the United States Department of Labor and its Bureau of Labor Statistics?

Mr. Acuff then goes on to ask the grand-daddy of questions of all questions:

Why then is change so hard to achieve?


The answer is rather simple:

Because the AFL-CIO allows the corporations to educate and indoctrinate working people with capitalist ideas instead of the AFL-CIO conducting the needed socialist education of working people.


The AFL-CIO will get its "Warriors for Justice" when it begins to properly educate working people as to the real nature of capitalism and the need for socialism and begins a discussion in earnest based upon the real politics and economics of livelihood.

And it just might help if Stewart Acuff was not so arrogant that he feels he does not have to respond to the questions and ideas posed when he makes a posting to The Huffington Post.

If Mr. Acuff understands anything about what working people in this country want he would understand that the questions and concerns that I am raising are the questions and concerns shared by most working people in the United States.

What I find most noticeably absent from Mr. Acuff's blog posting citing the need for "Warriors for Justice" is that he omits any mention of the fact that affirmative action in hiring guidelines are not being enforced by Barack Obama and the Democrats as trillions of tax-payer dollars are being dished out for massive projects which creates one of the greatest injustices in America as communities of people of color from urban inner cities to Indian Reservations are being intentionally plunged into worse poverty and despair than what has ever existed in the past as unemployment rates on Indian Reservations soar over 70% when multi-billion dollar construction projects on public buildings is taking place without the enforcement of the governments' own affirmative action guidelines within a stones throw... if Mr. Acuff needs a specific example I would cite the Bemidji Regional Events Center here in Minnesota and I would be happy to take Mr. Acuff and the leadership of the AFL-CIO on a tour across this country where trillions of dollars are being spent from the funds allocated under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act... funds, which in the first place should be allocated in a way that serve to end the extreme poverty being experienced by those living on Indian Reservations and other communities primarily inhabited by people of color where politicians are fully aware of the extreme poverty and most despicable living conditions in the richest country in the world.

I hope that Mr. Acuff's thoughts along with my voiced concerns and questions will give working class families something to think about around the dinner table and in the mines, mills, factories and other workplaces across this country, in community centers and classrooms or as friends gather in living rooms over a game of Scrabble or Cribbage or in peace vigils and demonstrations or on the picket lines or at labor union conventions.

Yes, America needs many "Warriors for Justice"... in the tradition of Eugene V. Debs, Mother Bloor, William Z. Foster, James W. Ford, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, Gus Hall, Phil Raymond...

Yours in the Struggle,

Alan L. Maki
A working class warrior for justice


America Needs Warriors for Justice

It is beyond doubt that we are living in a period of potentially great historical change in the United States.

Just a year ago we trade unionists, progressives, and Americans of good will made history with the election of an African-American President--something many of us never thought possible -- and large majorities of pro-working family Democrats in both Houses of Congress.

With the implosion of our financial services sector and the consequent economic crisis and recession, it has become abundantly clear that unregulated, unfettered free market capitalism doesn't work for anyone. We now have irrefutable proof that greed is not good, that the markets don't by themselves work for the common good in the nation's interest, that if all the money and resources go to the top, the middle and the bottom are starved. And speaking of the middle, we now know that the middle class is in peril -- endangered by the policies of free market economics -- unfettered corporate-driven globalization, illegal and immoral union busting, contracting out, working rat, privatization, benefit busting, wage thievery -- all the policies that have made up the 30 year assault on working families and unions. While some may have doubted these truths two or four or more years ago, these truths are beyond doubt today.

Those who once held themselves up to be leaders of our society and government are now scorned -- Wall St, Bush, Cheney, AIG. The recipients of the governments bailouts continue to shovel obscene amounts of our money to executives without a clue while we suffer 10 percent unemployment, continued loss of health care, and declining wages and a consequent declining standard of living, and a potentially frightening future for our kids and grandkids and beyond.

Most importantly, our people are ready for and even demanding change. By significant majorities, Americans want a public healthcare plan included in the larger health care reform package, and Americans want the Employee Free Choice Act to be passed to once again allow American workers to freely form unions and bargain collectively.

America is ready for change.

Why then is change so hard to achieve?

Those who've prosecuted and benefited from the 30 year financial assault on America's working families refuse to let go, to give up what they've come to see as theirs -- the insurance companies, the union busters, the ABC, the Comcasts, the Walmarts, Wall St and manipulators of our finances, the Radical Rightwing including Cheney and Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove and Dick Armey and the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute.

It is clear that if we are to win the change we voted for last fall and many of us have worked for for years, we are gonna have to fight, fight hard, and fight outside the normal Washington lobbying box.

Washington politics and lobbying does not work for workers and working families.

We cannot forget that we've gotten to the verge of passing the Employee Free Choice Act by running the largest national grassroots legislative campaign in the history of the American labor movement. Over the six year course of this campaign we've put literally hundreds of thousands of people on the street and more than a million workers in motion. We delivered one and a half million signatures to the Congress, sent half a million emails, wrote 300,000 handwritten letters and made 200,000 phone calls to Senators.

That's a ton of good work. But it is more than clear that we have to do more of it.

While the Employee Free Choice Act has not yet passed, we have realized many benefits -- more than a dozen states have passed new public employee collective bargaining laws including majority authorization. Public officials from town and county commissions to city councils to state assemblies to governors and mayors to the Congress to the President of the United States now realize what hell workers go through when they try to organize and bargain for a better life. More public officials than ever have weighed in to support workers trying to organize.

We have got to ramp up our grassroots lobbying by our members.

But just as importantly, we have to ramp up our effort to engage and organize workers who don't have a union, to make use of the progress and allies we've made and enlist unorganized workers in the struggle to organize their workplaces and to fight and struggle in the public policy fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. Every organizing campaign is a direct and clear reason to pass the Employee Free Choice Act.

It is not enough to wait for the Employee Free Choice Act to pass. We have to demonstrate its necessity with struggle--old fashioned struggle right now, today not tomorrow. And by their actions, unorganized workers have to demonstrate the necessity for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act.

It is not enough to wait on the law to change.

History is not made and humanity is not advanced by those who accept the status quo. History is made and the human condition is advanced by warriors willing to struggle for a better life for their kids and grandkids, warriors who understand what they have was won by the blood and tears and sacrifice of our forebears.

America today needs warriors -- warriors to organize and struggle, to fight for change, to fight the Radical Right and corporate domination, to organize and struggle, to dare the rat bastards to stop us, to refuse to lose, to challenge the status quo, to tell those who've run our country and too many lives into the ditch that change is now, that we will fight in Washington but that we will also fight all across America.

The future is ours. Let's take it.


My two responses as posted on The Huffington Post:


Your insinuation that we have a Congress composed of those sympathetic to working people demonstrates just how out of touch you are with reality.

Congress is dominated over by Wall Street's coupon clippers and Barack Obama is anything but progressive.

You talk about organizing the unorganized yet the AFL-CIO has sat in silence as over two-million American workers are forced to work in the Indian Gaming Industry's smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws as the direct result of your Democratic Party partners creating the "Compacts" which brought this despicable casino industry into existence without one iota of concern or respect for the human rights of the working people who you knew would be employed in this industry just so the Democratic Party could reap huge political contributions from the mobsters controlling these casino operations.

The AFL-CIO has a back-bone about as stiff as a wet noodle; organize a political party like workers have in the New Democratic Party in Canada... a party for socialism not afraid to stand up for the rights of working people.

No mention of the need to enforce state and federal affirmative action guidelines in hiring policies when it comes to billions of dollars spent through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects leaving people of color and women in a lurch having to fend off poverty and discrimination by themselves.


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






I was hoping others might comment on other aspects of Stewart Acuff's self-serving, hypocritical drivel about "we need Warriors for Justice."

First of all, there is not one single mention here of single-payer universal health care... by far the most popular health care reform proposal supported by working people who as "Warriors for Justice" have taken up this struggle by bringing the struggle for single-payer universal health care directly from the mines, mills, factories and working class communities where they work and live right onto the floor of the national AFL-CIO convention where Mr. Acuff did not even support their resolution... and the resolution passed in spite of opposition from the "leaders" of the AFL-CIO who did not want to embarrass President Barack Obama who has become an insurance salesman rather than the advocate for the needs of working people as Mr. Acuff and those at the helm of the AFL-CIO claim him to be.

Why hasn't the AFL-CIO divested all of its investments--- including the union health care plans and pension funds--- from the health insurance companies?

Why hasn't the leadership of the AFL-CIO "led" the way by becoming, themselves, "Warriors for Justice" on this and so many other fronts... including the fight for peace and the reordering of this country's priorities away from war and military spending?

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

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Leading figure in Democratic Party brings to light the abuse of casino workers in the Indian Gaming Industry

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

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

Sent: Tuesday, October 06, 2009 12:06 AM

To: 'marc@asch.org'

Cc: 'Jim Hart'; 'shove001@tc.umn.edu'; 'Gordon, Cam A.'; 'farheen@farheenhakeem.org'; 'info@jamesmayer.org'; 'rep.al.juhnke@house.mn'; 'rep.bill.hilty@house.mn'; 'rep.brita.sailer@house.mn'; 'rep.carolyn.laine@house.mn'; 'rep.dave.olin@house.mn'; 'rep.maryellen.otremba@house.mn'; 'rep.tom.anzelc@house.mn'; 'rep.tom.Rukavina@house.mn'; 'rep.tony.sertich@house.mn'; 'Carl Levin'; 'Sen.Jim Carlson'; 'sen.mary.olson@senate.mn'; 'sen.david.tomassoni@senate.mn'; 'john mccarthy'; 'brian.melendez@usa.net'; 'charleyunderwood@hotmail.com'; 'Alan Uhl'; 'ddepass@startribune.com'; 'Randy Furst'; 'bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com'; 'mmiron@bemidjipioneer.com'; 'laurel1@dailyjournal-ifalls.com'; 'Working_Class_Study_and_Action@yahoogroups.com'; 'mzweig@notes.cc.sunysb.edu'; 'joel@joelclemmer.org'; 'amistad.nai@rcn.com'

Subject: For once you, a Democrat, have mentioned workers rights denied in the Indian Gaming Industry...

Mr. Asch,

Thank you!!!!!!!!

Now the question is:

What steps will the Democratic Party take to resolve this problem of worker’s rights… or, are you bringing in the issue of worker’s rights only as leverage for Democrats to re-open these disgraceful, unjust “Compacts” in an attempt by Democrats to raise much needed revenue?

I would note that in Michigan Democrats have successfully gotten a very small chunk of change by re-negotiating some of the “Compacts” but they have all but forgotten the rights of casino workers forced to work in these smoke-filled casinos for poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws.

Mr. Asch, I hope it is not your and the Democrats intent to use worker’s rights as a bargaining chip to simply extract some funds from these casinos to pay down Minnesota’s enormous debts to the bankers and then conveniently ignore the plight of casino workers as you and the Democrats have done for so many years. Of course, when it comes to worker’s rights there is no need to speak of the Republicans; because, with the exception of honest Abe Lincoln and the Republican Vito Marcantonio, they have never been concerned about the plight of working people.

Again, thank you Mr. Asch for helping to raise awareness concerning the plight of casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry in Minnesota.

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


From: Marc Asch
Subject: Re: [Minnesota] Viking stadium-10 am press conference from legislator
To: mn-politics@forums.e-democracy.org
Date: Monday, October 5, 2009, 2:21 PM


Lee wrote:
> Bcause the Indian Gaming Lobby and the Democrat party
> have reached nirvana and have become one in the same. If
> we taxed Indian Gaming like other states do,
Lee continues his practice of creating alternate realities.

Indian Gaming is controlled by a compact negotiated and signed by two
Minnesota Governors. The original compact was negotiated and signed by
Gov. Perpich (DFL). It was replaced by a later compact expanding the
type of gambling permitted negotiated and signed by Gov. Carlson (R.)

Governors of both parties are responsible for where we now are in our
ability to extract revenue from Indian Gaming. Certainly both signed
bad deals for the people, citizens and workers of MN. They not only
failed to extract reasonable payments in exchange for permitting Indian
gaming but they left workers without adequate workplace protections and
injured customers without access to fair and unbiased legal protection.

The how and why of two MN Governors getting it so wrong is a fascinating
story that I have never any solid reporting on the the press or in book
form.

Our failures in this area have been curiously bipartisan.


--
Marc Asch marc@asch.org
34 North Oaks Road 651-484-9037
North Oaks, MN 55127

"Democracy is not a spectator sport."
Craig S. Wilson


Marc Asch



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

http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

The key to health care reform

Barack Obama's misfortune in the polls has turned into our possible good fortune... we now have something to bargain with Barack Obama and the Democrats in exchange for health care reform: our votes.

Our country is embroiled in controversy and debate over health care reform. Focus on the purpose of health care has been lost. Health care has two purposes:

1. Keep people healthy.

2. Get people well when sick.

Barack Obama and the Democrats have killed single-payer universal health care which was by far the most popular alternative. Now they are confusing the issue with talk about a "public option" when the only real "public option" is something like VA or the Indian Health Service; both of which could be combined and expanded to include everyone under a Public Health Service.

Obama and the Democrats have confused the issue even further by now veering from discussing legislation for health care reform by derailing this discussion and diverting the discussion to "health insurance reform."

Our public officials squander our limited and scarce resources--- during a period of a crumbling capitalist economy--- financing wars in three countries; subsidizing the Israeli military machine; and spending trillions of dollars financing 800 U.S. military bases on foreign soil dotting the globe; and then they tell us there is no money for health care. Instead, we should be building 800 public health care centers stretching out across the United States providing a public health care system which includes:

• No-fees/No premiums

• Comprehensive (cradle to grave)

• All-inclusive (general, dental, eyes, physical therapy, prescription drugs)

• Universal (everybody in; nobody out)

• Publicly funded

• Publicly administered

• Publicly delivered

The United States is the wealthiest country in the world.

We can afford to provide a first-rate, world-class, free public health care system for our own people--- if we get our priorities straight.

We need health care reform based upon: Everybody in; all the profiteers out.Health care is supposed to be about people, a human right; not about profits.

We must not let Barack Obama and the Democrats do with health care reform what Bill Clinton did with welfare reform.

There are those that confuse what needs to be done by suggesting that some kind of massive grassroots coalition brought Barack Obama to power when the fact is that what brought Barack Obama to power was no organized coalition seeking anything; just plain old resentment and disgust with a thoroughly corrupt, warmongering Republican Party--- and the Democratic Party has proven to be no better.

There are those who want to turn the need for real progressive health care reform into nothing but a struggle to save Barack Obama's worthless political butt.

We need to begin discussions about creating a real all people's united front to win real progressive health care reform before Barack Obama gives us the shaft and sticks us with mandatory health insurance that is no better than the high-priced automobile or home-owners insurance which are good until needed.

Some people pawned Barack Obama off on us as a progressive when all we got was an insurance salesman.

Our initiatives for real progressive health care reform as articulated above require that we inform Barack Obama and the Democrats that they will not be receiving our votes in 2010 or 2012 unless real progressive health care reform legislation is enacted.

No health care reform; no votes... it really is as simple as that.


Alan L. Maki
58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432


Check out my blog:


http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/