Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

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

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


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

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

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Friday, May 28, 2010

National Lawyers Guild Demands Immediate Release of Attorney Peter Erlinder Vigorous Legal Advocate Arrested in Rwanda

Date: Fri, 28 May 2010 15:30:40 -0500 (CDT)
From: wamm@mtn.org
Subject: [Women Against Military Madness] Action Alert-Peter Erlinder arrested

National Lawyers Guild Demands Immediate Release of Attorney Peter Erlinder Vigorous Legal Advocate Arrested in Rwanda

For Immediate Release: May 28, 2010   

Contact: David Gespass, 205-566-2530
Heidi Boghosian, 917-239-4999

New York - The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) demands the immediate release of its former president, Professor Peter Erlinder, whom Rwandan Police arrested early today on charges of "genocide ideology." He had traveled to Rwanda's capital, Kigali, on May 23, to join the defense team of Rwandan presidential candidate Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. Erlinder is reportedly being interrogated at the Rwandan Police Force's Kacyiru headquarters.

Professor Erlinder has been acting in the best tradition of the legal profession and has been a vigorous advocate in his representation of Umuhoza. There can be no justice for anyone if the state can silence lawyers for defendants whom it dislikes and a government that seeks to prevent lawyers from being vigorous advocates for their clients cannot be trusted. The entire National Lawyers Guild is honored by his membership and his courageous advocacy," said David Gespass, the Guild's president.

Erlinder traveled to Kigali after attending the Second International Criminal Defense Lawyers' Conference in Brussels. Since his arrival in Kigali, the state-sponsored Rwandan media has been highly critical of Erlinder. The Rwandan Parliament adopted the "Law Relating to the Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Ideology" (Genocide Ideology Law), on July 23, 2008. It defines genocide ideology broadly, requires no link to any genocidal act, and can be used to include a wide range of legitimate forms of expression, prohibiting speech protected by international conventions such as the Genocide Convention of 1948 and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966.

Sarah Erlinder, Arizona attorney and NLG member said, "My father has made a career defending unpopular people and unpopular speech - and is now being held because of his representation of unpopular clients and analysis of an historical narrative that the Kagame regime considers inconvenient.
We can help defend his rights now by drawing U.S. government and media attention to his situation and holding the Rwandan government accountable for his well-being."

Before leaving for Brussels and then Kigali, Professor Erlinder notified the U.S. State Department, his Minnesota Congressional Representative Betty McCullom, Representative Keith Ellison, and Minnesota Senators Al Franken and Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Professor Erlinder is a professor of law at the William Mitchell College of Law. He is a frequent litigator and consultant, often pro bono, in cases involving the death penalty, civil rights, claims of government and police misconduct, and criminal defense of political activists. He is also a frequent news commentator. Erlinder was president of the National Lawyers Guild from 1993-1997, and is a current board member of the NLG Foundation. He has been a defense attorney at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda since 2003.

The National Lawyers Guild, founded in 1937, is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state. # # #

Call and demand the immediate release of Professor Peter Erlinder:

Senator Al Franken   (202) 224-5641    Or send an email at

Senator Amy Klobuchar   202-224-3244   Fax: 202-228-2186   Or send an email at

Representative Keith Ellison    202-225-4755    Or send an email at

Representative Betty McCullom    (202) 225-6631   Fax: (202) 225-1968    Or send

Rwandan police arrest Minnesota lawyer

Arrested for defending human rights.

Tell Obama to intervene: 

Drop the charges!

Photo: Peter Erlinder, a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul

Peter Erlinder, a law professor at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul (Raoul Benavides, William Mitchell College)

Rwandan police arrest Minnesota lawyer
by Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
May 28, 2010

St. Paul, Minn. — Rwandan police arrested a prominent Twin Cities law professor Friday for allegedly expressing what are considered illegal views on the country's genocide, according to Rwandan news reports.

William Mitchell College of Law professor Peter Erlinder had arrived in the country earlier this week to represent an opposition candidate for president who faces similar charges.

Erlinder has been outspoken in his disagreement with the government's official explanation of the 1994 genocide, said Eric Janus, president and dean of William Mitchell College of Law.

"He felt that there was a strong case to be made for rethinking the nature of the causes of the genocide and who was to blame for it, and that there were many people who were extremely upset with him because of that advocacy," Janus said.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department confirmed the arrest, but declined to comment on any pending charges.

"The decision to arrest Mr. Erlinder was the responsibility of the Rwandan authorities," said State Department spokesman Andy Laine.

Laine said U.S. Embassy officials have been in contact with Erlinder, and have provided him with a list of attorneys to represent him in the Rwandan legal system. Laine said there is no evidence that Erlinder has been mistreated, but said he does not know where the law professor is currently being held.

Sarah Erlinder, the professor's daughter, said she spoke with U.S. State Department officials who confirmed her father's arrest.

Sarah Erlinder said officials told her that the State Department will not interfere with Rwanda's legal process, but will monitor the situation closely. She said she has not been able to speak with her father since his arrest.

Erlinder went to Rwanda to represent Victoire Ingabire, an opposition leader running against President Paul Kagame in Aug. 9 elections.

Kagame has been lauded abroad for social and economic reforms and is expected to win another seven-year term. But human rights groups say his administration has an ironclad hold on power and quashes opposing views.

Rwanda's 1994 genocide claimed the lives of more than 500,000 people, mostly Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The massacres ended when mostly Tutsi rebels led by Kagame defeated the mostly Hutu extremist perpetrators.

Ingabire, a Hutu, returned to Rwanda in January to contest elections after 16 years of living abroad. She says she returned to Rwanda because the country needs an open discussion to promote reconciliation.

She immediately visited a memorial to Tutsis killed in the 1994 genocide, and asked why Hutus who also died weren't remembered. She was arrested and freed on bail, but her passport was seized and she cannot leave Kigali. If convicted, Ingabire, 41, could be sentenced to more than two decades in prison.

Her case has become a test of where Rwanda stands in its effort to move past the genocide - and how much freedom the government will allow.

Erlinder is the president of an association of defense lawyers at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda that is trying the masterminds of the 1994 genocide.

He "has been publicly saying that there was no genocide in Rwanda," said police spokesman Eric Kayiranga.

"It has nothing to do with diplomacy, it is totally a criminal case," said Kayiranga when asked whether the arrest could cause a diplomatic spat with the U.S.

Steve Linders, the spokesman for William Mitchell College of Law, said Erlinder's work in Rwanda was not sponsored by the school, but said William Mitchell professors have a long history of outside legal work for a variety of causes.

A lawyer since 1979, Erlinder, 62, has been on the William Mitchell faculty since 1982. He has worked as a litigator or legal consultant on numerous high-profile cases involving the death penalty, civil rights, alleged government or police misconduct and defense of political activism.

The St. Paul resident assisted in the legal defense of Mohammed Abdullah Warsame, a Canadian citizen who in 2009 pleaded guilty in federal court in Minneapolis to aiding al-Qaida.

He also represented Sami al-Arian, a former University of South Florida professor who pleaded guilty in 2006 to conspiring to aid terrorists.

Last November, Erlinder traveled to the Netherlands in order to aid in the defense of a Somali man from Minneapolis being held there on U.S. terrorism charges. He also recently advised Ojibwe Indian bands in northern Minnesota in a dispute over treaty fishing rights.

Linders said Erlinder has worked on legal issues involved Rwanda for some time, and had traveled to the country prior to his current trip.

The U.S. State Department said in a March report on Rwanda that citizens' rights to change their government are "effectively restricted" and cited limits on freedoms of speech, press and judicial independence.

Erlinder's family and his colleagues at William Mitchell are consulting with the state's congressional delegation in the hopes of pressuring the Rwandan government to release Erlinder immediately.

(Associated Press writer Edmund Kagire reported from Kigali, Rwanda)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Environmental Activists Arrested in Michigan's Upper Peninsula trying to halt dangerous sulfide mining

Please, if you have a moment, call the Michigan State Police post at (906) 475-9922 and demand to know why Charlotte Loonsfoot and Chris Solsha were arrested today on federally ceded land up at Eagle Rock, near Big Bay, Michigan north of Marquette. This is all in regards to Kennecott and the proposed Eagle Mine...a metallic sulfide mine on the Yellow Dog Plains. Insist all charges be dropped.

Get further information from these sites:




More information:


At Issue: Upper Peninsula sulfide mine

Let's join voices to protect environment


[Note: William G. Milliken of Traverse City served as Michigan's Republican governor from 1969 to 1983]

No resource is more important to Michigan's future than the Great Lakes. They literally surround us, leading to our identification as the "Great Lakes State.”

Any action that could threaten the quality of the Great Lakes must be approached with extreme caution, particularly by the State of Michigan. That is why all people who care about the future of this state and of the Great Lakes should be very concerned about a proposal now before the state Department of Environmental Quality to blast a nickel mine in the Upper Peninsula under the headwaters of the Salmon Trout River, one of Lake Superior's primary tributaries.

The mine being proposed by the Kennecott Minerals Corp. would be much different from the iron ore mines that now exist and have existed in the U.P. for decades. It would involve blasting into underground sulfide ore deposits that contain nickel being sought by the mining company. Sulfide ores leach acid as soon as they come in contact with water or air.

Underground water seeping into the mine itself would create sulfuric acid, resulting in acid mine drainage of the equivalent of battery acid that would run off into rivers, contaminate groundwaters and end up in Lakes Superior and Michigan.

The top of the proposed mine is level with the aquifer closest to the surface that connects with the Salmon Trout River, which adds to the threat that the river could become contaminated with acid mine drainage.

The material loosed in the blasting process would be hauled out by trucks, with an estimated 80 truckloads per day leaving the mine. Each truckload would spill sulfide ores along its way, creating more acid contamination along its route.

The proposed mine also poses the threat of air pollution, with a ventilation system that would vent air from the mine through a 50-foot tall stack that would have no air pollution controls, releasing an estimated minimum of 20 tons per year of dust containing sulfides and metals only 300 feet from the Salmon Trout River.

Beyond that, geologists say that because of the huge hole that would be created underground by the blasting operations, there is also the real threat that the river would actually collapse into the mine at some point.

The DEQ initially issued a draft decision to permit the mine in January. That was followed by the revelation that a report from a DEQ consultant that was highly critical of the proposed mine was suppressed by DEQ staff during the permitting process. The suppressed report was subsequently made public and the draft permit was revoked.

The area of this proposed sulfide mine is wide open, unpaved and unpowered. It is situated right in the middle of the largest undeveloped tract in all of Michigan. Its rivers and streams feed Lake Superior and Lake Michigan. What a terrible place for a mine. What a terrible threat to the Great Lakes, and all this for a mine that has a projected life of seven to eight years and is projected to create, at the most, 100 jobs. When the mine closed, we would be left with a huge hole in the ground, the potential for severe environmental damage, and no jobs.

If Michigan were to allow this mine to set up shop, we would be carrying out a modern-day equivalent to the Biblical story of Esau selling his birthright for a "mess of Pottage.”

The residents of the area are overwhelmingly opposed to this mine. They do not want their neighborhood despoiled. They have made that opposition very clear and have created their own Web site: "savethewildup.org.”

We made great progress in the latter decades of the 20th century reversing the old mindset of exploiting our natural resources, including the Great Lakes, and then cleaning up the mess at a later time. The lakes became more natural, drinkable, swimmable and fishable.

Unfortunately, the Great Lakes face more threats today than ever before. Let's join all our voices with those of the citizens of the Upper Peninsula who are determined to protect their environment and the Great Lakes. Let's tell the DEQ in no uncertain terms we don't want this mine to despoil our state.

William G. Milliken of Traverse City served as Michigan governor from 1969 to 1983

What Wall Street did to Greece

The United States likes to pretend that it is not responsible for the dire economic straits Greece is in today and Wall Street's leading mouth-pieces are trying to portray "the greediness of Greek workers" for the problems; when, in fact, when the truth is finally told, we will find that it is none other than the Wall Street directed U.S. imperialism that is fully responsible for what is taking place in Greece today where the working class is being expected to bear the burden of the economic crisis that Wall Street maintains requires "austerity measures" in order to save "democracy" and "free enterprise" in Greece.

The fact of the matter is that it was the "U.S. Marshall Plan" that set up and set in motion the economic and social problems Greece is experiencing today.

The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was the primary program, 1947–51, of the United States for rebuilding and creating a stronger economic foundation for the countries of Western Europe. The initiative was named for Secretary of State George Marshall and was largely the creation of State Department officials, especially William L. Clayton and George F. Kennan. George Marshall spoke of the administration's desire to help the European recovery in his address at Harvard University in June 1947.

Does "European Recovery Program" have a special ring to it for Americans? If not, it should, because all the muddle-headed middle class intellectuals supporting Barack Obama called for a "Marshall Plan to save America" and the result was the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" (stimulus funding) which is going to do to American workers the very same thing the U.S. Marshall Plan has done for Greece and the other European countries having been "lucky" enough to receive such "aid:" impose austerity measures on the working class by driving down our standard of living.

The U.S. Marshall Plan was imposed on the Greek people in 1947 following the victory over Hitler fascism in order to try to head off a popular socialist revolution led by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and its trade union partners which began in 1946--- a bloody reign of fascism in Greece followed the imposition of the U.S. Marshall Plan.

Today, the KKE and PAME lead the way again in the struggle for freedom against Wall Street's drive to profit from the problems being experienced by Greek workers as forced austerity measures from which Wall Street and all the international financial centers of the world comprising imperialism will profit are being shoved down the throats of Greek workers.

The struggle of the Greek working class to be free from fascism and U.S. imperialist dictate was the first battle of the Cold War.Once again Greek workers are on the front lines defending the rights and the living standards of all workers.

American workers would be well advised to beware of what comes in the name of Obama's "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009" because Wall Street is going to try to force workers to "pay through the nose" for its "generosity" in financing the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009."

Today the Greek workers, led by the KKE and PAME are fighting the battle we here in the United States will be fighting shortly unless we are going to become Wall Street's slaves.

American workers would do well to bring themselves up to speed concerning the present struggles in Greece and not accept the force-fed lies of Wall Street's well-paid capitalist apologists intent on "protecting" us from the truth.

Check out the PAME web site for up-to-date information as the Greek workers lead the way in the struggle against Wall Street's austerity agendas...

A message from Greece...
Note: This is the link to PAME, the All Workers’ Militant Front, as mentioned below.:


Communist Party of Greece - [13.05.2010] Message to the National Committee of CP, USA

Communist Party USA,
National Committee,
New York
Athens, Thursday, 13 May 2010

Dear comrades

We would like to thank you for the information regarding your 29th party convention and to extend our greetings to the delegates. Our parties have met in the past in common struggles for workers’ rights, in the struggle against anti-communism, for the defense of socialism and the Soviet Union, for the unity of the communist movement on the basis of our revolutionary principles and traditions.

We are following as closely as we can the developments in the USA, the escalation of the aggression of US imperialism which lately has become quite obvious. The US is striving to respond to the trend of losing ground within the framework of the imperialist system by inciting regional tensions and conflicts, so that it can take advantage of its political and military supremacy in order to safeguard its interests and maintain its spheres of influence.

In Greece, the working class and the popular strata are facing a barbaric attack, on the pretext of the economic crisis; an attack which has been jointly unleashed by the social democratic PASOK government, the EU and the IMF, with the assistance of the conservative ND party and the open support of the nationalist LAOS party.

The remarkable resistance presented by the labor and popular movement is spearheaded by KKE which continually strives to reveal the real cause of the crisis, the sharpening of the basic contradictions of capitalism. Without the consistent exposure of the compromised and discredited in the eyes of the workers trade union leaderships of GSEE and ADEDY (the national confederations of the private and public sector respectively), without the decisive contribution of PAME (All Workers’ Militant Front), the national trade union front comprised of class oriented Federations, trade unions, labor centers and trade unionists, the labor movement in our country would have been disarmed, unprepared, and unable to fight back.

KKE calls upon the working class, the self-employed, the poor farmers, and the youth to engage in even stronger, more massive and organized actions in order to stave off the onslaught and pave the way for a different path of development. There can be no way other than the nationalization of the monopolies. The working class must take possession of the concentrated means of production and mobilize them with central planning and popular participation. This presupposes a struggle aiming for people’s power, for socialism-communism.

The fightback against anti-communism, the adamant defense of the historical contribution of the Soviet Union and socialist construction in the 20th century, of the identity and revolutionary traditions of the communist movement, take on particular importance today.

As long as the crisis of the international communist movement persists, as long as the situation does not improve and retreats from ideological and theoretical principles are not resolutely confronted, as long as the front against opportunist views that hinder the formation of a single revolutionary strategy against imperialism does not become strengthened, the situation will harbor the danger of an even greater backslide.

The existence of strong Communist Parties steadfast to the principles of Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism, with a revolutionary program for the overthrow of the rule of monopolies, for building socialism - communism, is the foremost demand of our times.

We look forward to learning the conclusions and the resolutions of your convention.

With comradely greetings

The Central Committee of KKE

e-mail: cpg@int.kke.gr

This is an interesting perspective:

Please do not reply to the listserv. To correspond with the author, write immanuel.wallerstein@yale.edu. To correspond with us about your email address on the listserv, write dunlop@binghamton.edu. Thank you.

Commentary No. 280, May 1, 2010

"Is Europe Imploding?"

Europe has had its nay-sayers since it started on the long road to unification. There were many who believed it impossible. And there were many who thought it undesirable. Still one has to say that, in the long and sinuous path it has taken since 1945, the project of European unification has done remarkably well. After all, Europe had been torn apart by nationalist conflict for at least 500 years, conflict which culminated in the particularly nasty Second World War. And revenge seemed to be the dominating emotion. As of 2010, what is now called the European Union (EU) houses within it a common currency, the euro, which is used by 16 countries. It also has a zone with 25 members, called Schengen, which permits somewhat free movement without visas. It has a central bureaucracy, a human rights court, and is on track to having a president and a foreign minister.

One shouldn't exaggerate the strength of all these structures, but one shouldn't underestimate the degree to which all this has represented, for good or ill, the overcoming of nationalist resistance throughout Europe, especially in some of the stronger states. Yet, it is also the case that right now Europe seems in some important ways to be imploding. The code words for this implosion are "Greece" and "Belgium."

Greece, as all the world is aware, is undergoing a severe sovereign debt crisis. Moody's has declared Greek state bonds to be junk bonds. Prime Minister George Papandreou has said, very reluctantly, that he would probably have to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan, a loan that would imply the usual IMF conditions requiring specific forms of neoliberal restructuring. This idea is very unpopular in Greece - a blow to Greek sovereignty, Greek pride, and especially Greek pocketbooks. It was also greeted with dismay in a number of European states that feel that financial assistance to Greece should come first of all from other EU members.

The explanation of this scenario is quite simple. Greece has a big budgetary deficit. Because Greece is part of the eurozone, it cannot devalue its currency to alleviate the problem. So it needs financial aid. Greece asked for European aid. The biggest and wealthiest European country, Germany, has been highly reluctant, to say the least, to give such aid. The German public is strongly opposed to helping out Greece, basically out of a protectionist reflex in a time of European stress. They also fear that Greece is the first of a line of others (Portugal, Spain, Ireland, and Italy) who will make similar demands if Greece gets such aid.

The German public seems to wish it would all go away, or at least that Greece somehow be thrown out of the eurozone. Aside from the fact that this is legally impossible, the country that would suffer most as a result, besides Greece, is surely Germany, whose own economic health is largely based on the strong export market it has within the eurozone. So, for the moment, we seem to be at an impasse. And the market vultures are hovering over all the eurozone countries that are in sovereign debt trouble.

In the midst of this, the now perennial Belgian crisis has reared its head in a particularly acute way. Belgium, as a country, came into existence as a result of pan-European politics. The collapse of the Habsburg empire of Charles V resulted in the partition of the so-called Burgundian Netherlands into the United Provinces in the north and the Austrian Netherlands in the south. The Napoleonic Wars led to the two parts being put together again in the restored Kingdom of the Netherlands. And the European conflicts of 1830 led to the two parts being split apart again, with the creation of Belgium in more or less the erstwhile Austrian Netherlands, with a king imported from elsewhere.

Belgium was always a composite of Dutch-speaking "Flemish" and French-speaking "Walloons," largely but imperfectly located in two different geographical sectors (the north and south of Belgium). There was also a small German-speaking zone.

Up to 1945, the Walloons were the more educated, wealthier ones, and they controlled the major institutions of the country. Flemish nationalism was born as the voice of the underdogs fighting for their political, economic, and linguistic rights. After 1945, the Belgian economy underwent a structural shift. Walloon areas lost strength and Flemish areas gained strength. Belgian politics became as a consequence a never-ending struggle of the Flemish to obtain more political rights - devolution of powers, with the ultimate objective for many of dissolving Belgium into two countries.

Bit by bit, the Flemish got more and more of their way. Today, Belgium as a country has a common monarchy, a common foreign minister, and very little more. The sticking-point in this arrangement is that Belgium is now a confederal state with three, not two, regions - Flanders, Wallonie, and Brussels (the capital).

Brussels is not only the capital of Belgium. It is the capital of Europe, the locus of the European Commission. Brussels is also a very bilingual city. And the Flemish are insisting on making it less so. The problem is that, even if there were to be agreement on the dissolution of Belgium, there would be no easy way to arrange the fate of Brussels.

The latest negotiations were so intractable that Le Soir, Belgium's leading French-language newspaper, proclaimed that "Belgium died on April 22, 2010." Their lead editorialist asked "Does this country make sense anymore?" At the moment, the king is trying, perhaps vainly, to recreate a government. He may have to call new elections, without much hope that the elections will produce a really different parliament. On July 1, Belgium assumes the rotating six-month presidency of the EU, and it is not certain there will be a Belgian Prime Minister to preside over it.

The Greek problem is the problem of spread. Will Greece's difficulties not be replicated - are they not already being replicated - elsewhere in Europe? Can the euro survive? The Belgian problem presents however an even greater problem of spread. If Belgium comes apart, and both parts are then members of the EU, will not other states consider coming apart? There are after all important secessionist or quasi-secessionist movements in many EU countries. Belgium's crisis could easily become Europe's crisis.

Of the two threatened implosions, the one symbolized by Greece is easier to solve. It basically only requires that Germany realize that its needs are better met by European protectionism than by German protectionism.

The Belgian crisis poses a much more fundamental question. If Europe were ready, right away, to move forward to a truly federal state, it could accommodate the break-up of any of its existing states. But it has not been ready up to now. And the world's collective economic difficulties have much strengthened the narrow nationalist elements in virtually every European country, as all the recent elections have shown. Without a strong European federation, it would be extremely difficult for Europe to survive a stream of break-ups. Amidst the political havoc, Europe could go down the drain.

There is a certain Schadenfreude among U.S. politicians about Europe's difficulties. What may however save Europe from any implosion is precisely the ever-increasing threat of the implosion of the United States. Europe and the United States are on a seesaw, on which as one goes up the other goes down. How this will play out over the next two to five years is not at all clear.

by Immanuel Wallerstein

[Copyright by Immanuel Wallerstein, distributed by Agence Global. For rights and permissions, including translations and posting to non commercial sites, and contact: rights@agenceglobal.com, 1.336.686.9002 or 1.336.286.6606. Permission is granted to download, forward electronically, or e mail to others, provided the essay remains intact and the copyright note is displayed. To contact author, write: immanuel.wallerstein@yale.edu.

These commentaries, published twice monthly, are intended to be reflections on the contemporary world scene, as seen from the perspective not of the immediate headlines but of the long term.]

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Warriors for Justice... from today's Bemidji Pioneer Press


Curtis Buckanaga, left, and Greg Paquin staff a protest sign at Sunday’s DFL Central Committee meeting at Bemidji High School. Paquin is forming the political party “Warriors for Justice,” provided he gets 500 petition signatures by June 1. If so, he would face Sen. Mary Olson, DFL-Bemidji, on the November ballot. Similarly, Nicole Beaulieu would also run under the “Warriors for Justice” banner as a Nov. 2 candidate against House 4A Rep. John Persell, DFL-Bemidji. Buckanaga is Beaulieu’s campaign manager. Both candidates had earlier sought DFL endorsement. Pioneer Photo/Brad Swenson


This was a protest held outside the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's State Central Committee meeting at Bemidji Public High School in Bemidji, Minnesota where the Bemidji Regional Event Center (B.R.E.C.) has been planned, is under construction, and will be staffed and maintained without an affirmative action plan being developed and enforced in accordance with Executive Order #11246 which is required that all public works projects be subjected to analysis to determine if an affirmative action plan is required in areas were unemployment among people of communities of color are suffering exceedingly higher unemployment and lack of quality public education in relation to the rest of the population. Since three Indian tribes in the Bemidji Region and a large Native American Indian population in the City of Bemidji itself as well as in Beltrami County where Bemidji is located are suffering in excess of 70% unemployment rates it would be considered plain old common sense that Executive Order #11246 would come into play.

A racist white Beltrami County District Court judge, Judge Melbye, has ruled that it is sufficient that "non-discrimination in hiring" is adequate and that affirmative action is not required thus adding "legitimacy" to the long and continuing pattern of institutionalized racism permeating every facet of life in Bemidji which is widely known as the most racist city in North America.

In the five county region which includes three very large Indian Reservations, public employment for Native American workers is less than 1%. 

Many of the contractors awarded contracts for the construction of the BREC are non-union.

The Minnesota AFL-CIO has refused to throw its weight behind the demand for affirmative action on this 80 million dollar community center which is the first phase of a 300 million dollar development project which will be mostly city, county, state and federally funded with tax-payers even subsidizing privately owned development.

The Republicans have openly stated they are opposed to affirmative action while former United States Senator Mark Dayton has publicly stated that he is appalled that neither the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MNDOT) and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) have refused to insist upon the enforcement of affirmative action and pledged, that if elected governor, he will see to it that affirmative action is enforced.

Senator Leroy Stumpf publicly stated at his nominating convention, that the activities of Greg Paquin and Nicole Beaulieu triggered his own inquiry as to affirmative action not being enforced on the Bemidji Regional Event Center and was led to believe by deceitful Bemidji City officials that affirmative action was being enforced when the facts are such that Bemidji City officials are trying to pass off their very weak "non-discrimination" clause for hiring as affirmative action when non-discrimination in hiring is completely different from a governmental agency creating an affirmative action policy and then enforcing that affirmative action policy which would include non-discrimination as part of the hiring process.

At the same Senate District nominating convention, Minnesota State Representative Dave Olin, the former Pennington County Prosecuting Attorney who now acknowledges that he let drug dealers ply their dirty trade un-hindered through the Seven Clans Casino-Thief River Falls, says it is not his job to make sure affirmative action policies are in place and enforced on public works projects financed with public funds. Olin, who is widely known as doing political favors for his friends, says that this is not his job but the job of other state agencies. This is probably all that one can expect from a former prosecuting attorney who didn't believe it was his job to go after drug dealers. It is interesting that Representative Dave Olin takes huge campaign contributions from casino managements and the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association but refused to prosecute drug dealers breaking the law just as he now refuses to acknowledge he has a role to play in seeing to it that Native American Indians have equal opportunities provided by affirmative action enforcement. Failing to provide the enforcement of affirmative action is the largest single contributor to Native American Indian poverty. 

Not one single Native American Indian sits among Minnesota's state legislators while the Minnesota State Legislature is full of racist creeps like Democrat Dave Olin who has more in common with Republicans.

The entire working class is paying a terrible price for this racism because it is the divisiveness of racism mainly responsible for the lack of unity among working people which suppresses the standard of living of the working class--- a racially united working class would be able to wrest many concessions, including real living wages for all workers, from big-business interests.  

Every worker a "warrior for justice."

Alan L. Maki

What does this mean?

Note: To charts use this link:
Survey Reports
May 4, 2010

"Socialism" Not So Negative, "Capitalism" Not So Positive

A Political Rhetoric Test


“Socialism” is a negative for most Americans, but certainly not all Americans. “Capitalism” is regarded positively by a majority of the public, though it is a thin majority. There are certain segments of the public – notably, young people and Democrats – where both “isms” are rated about equally. And while most Americans have a negative reaction to the word “militia,” the term is viewed more positively by Republican men than most other groups. 

These are among the findings of a national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press that tests reactions to words and phrases frequently used in current political discourse. Overall, 29% say they have a positive reaction to the word “socialism,” while 59% react negatively. The public’s impressions of “capitalism,” though far more positive, are somewhat mixed. Slightly more than half (52%) react positively to the word “capitalism,” compared with 37% who say they have a negative reaction.

A large majority of Republicans (77%) react negatively to “socialism,” while 62% have a positive reaction to “capitalism.” Democrats’ impressions are more divided: In fact, about as many Democrats react positively to “socialism” (44%) as to “capitalism” (47%).

Reaction to “capitalism” is lukewarm among many demographic groups. Fewer than half of young people, women, people with lower incomes and those with less education react positively to “capitalism.”

The survey, conducted April 21-26 among 1,546 adults, measured reactions to nine political words and phrases. The most positive reactions are to “family values” (89% positive) and “civil rights” (87%). About three-quarters see “states’ rights” (77%) and “civil liberties” (76%) positively, while 68% have a positive reaction to the word “progressive.”

Reactions to the word “libertarian” are evenly divided – 38% positive, 37% negative. On balance, Republicans view “libertarian” negatively, Democrats are divided, while independents have a positive impression of the term. “Militia” elicits the most negative reaction of the nine terms tested: Just 21% have a positive reaction compared with 65% who have a negative response.

Partisan Divide over “Socialism”

The most striking partisan differences come in reactions to the word “socialism.”  Just 15% of Republicans react positively to “socialism” while 77% react negatively. By more than two-to-one (64% to 26%), independents also have a negative impression of “socialism.” However, Democrats are evenly divided – 44% have a positive reaction to “socialism” while 43% react negatively.

“Capitalism” elicits a less partisan reaction. About six-in-ten Republicans (62%) react positively to “capitalism,” compared with 29% who have a negative reaction. About half of independents (52%) have a positive impression while 39% react negatively. Among Democrats, 47% react positively to “capitalism” while nearly as many (43%) react negatively.
There is a substantial partisan divide in views of the word “progressive.” However, majorities of Democrats (81%), independents (64%) and Republicans (56%) have a positive reaction to “progressive.”

More than four-in-ten independents (44%) react positively to the word “libertarian,” while 32% have a negative reaction. Democrats are nearly evenly divided (39% positive, 37% negative). However, Republicans on balance have a negative impression of this term (44% negative, 31% positive).

Majorities of Democrats (70%), independents (66%) and Republicans (59%) react negatively to the word “militia.” Nearly twice as many Republicans (27%) as Democrats (15%) have a positive view of this term.

Young People Lukewarm Toward “Capitalism”

Young people are more positive about “socialism” – and more negative about “capitalism” – than are older Americans. Among those younger than 30, identical percentages react positively to “socialism” and “capitalism” (43% each), while about half react negatively to each. Among older age groups, majorities view “socialism” negatively and “capitalism” positively.

People 65 and older have a particularly negative reaction to “socialism” – 73% have a negative impression of the term compared with just 14% who are positive. But those 65 and older are no more likely than those ages 30 to 64 to have a positive reaction to “capitalism” (56% vs. 55%).

More than twice as many blacks as whites react positively to “socialism” (53% vs. 24%). Yet there are no racial differences in views of “capitalism” – 50% of African Americans and 53% of whites have a positive reaction.

Those with a high school education or less are evenly divided over “capitalism” (44% positive vs. 42% negative). Among those with some college experience, 49% react positively to “capitalism” as do 68% of college graduates. Those with a high school education or less are more likely to express a positive view of “socialism” than do those with more education.

People with family incomes of $75,000 or more are the only income group in which a clear majority (66%) reacts positively to the word “capitalism.” Views of “socialism” also are much more negative among those in this income category (71% negative) – and those with incomes of $30,000 to $75,000 (64% negative) – than those with incomes of less than $30,000 (46% negative).

Conservative Republicans stand out for their overwhelmingly negative reactions to “socialism” (84% negative) and highly positive reactions to “capitalism” (67% positive). No more than about half in other political groups, including moderate and liberal Republicans (51%), have a positive impression of “capitalism.”

Perhaps surprisingly, opinions about the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” are not correlated with each other. Most of those who have a positive reaction to “socialism” also have a positive reaction to “capitalism”; in fact, views of “capitalism” are about the same among those who react positively to “socialism” as they are among those who react negatively (52% and 56%, respectively, view “capitalism” positively). Conversely, views of “socialism” are just as negative among those who have a positive reaction to “capitalism” (64% negative) as those who react negatively (61% negative).

There are some differences in the relationship between these terms by demographic groups, although the association is not particularly strong among any group. For instance, among college graduates, 71% of those with a positive reaction to “capitalism” have a negative reaction to “socialism.” By contrast, among college graduates who have a negative view of “capitalism” a smaller proportion have a negative view of “socialism” (51%).

Gender Differences in Views of “Militia”

While the word “militia” is viewed negatively, there are gender and partisan differences in reactions to this term. Overall, twice as many men (28%) as women (14%) say they have a positive reaction to the word “militia.” In addition, more Republicans (27%) than independents (20%) or Democrats (15%) have positive impressions.

Republican men have a more positive impression of “militia” (36% positive) than do Democratic men (19%). Moreover, GOP men have a more positive reaction than do Republican women (18% positive).

There also is a sizeable gender gap in independents’ reactions to “militia.” Among independents, 28% of men have a positive reaction to “militia,” compared with just 10% of women. The gender differences are more modest among Democrats (19% positive among men vs. 12% among women).

"Socialism" Not So Negative, "Capitalism" Not So Positive

About the Survey

Results for this survey are based on telephone interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates International among a national sample of 1,546 adults living in the continental United States, 18 years of age or older, from April 21-26, 2010 (1,006 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 540 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 203 who had no landline telephone). Both the landline and cell phone samples were provided by Survey Sampling International. Interviews were conducted in English. For detailed information about our survey methodology, see http://people-press.org/methodology/.

The combined landline and cell phone sample are weighted using an iterative technique that matches gender, age, education, race/ethnicity, region, and population density to parameters from the March 2009 Census Bureau's Current Population Survey. The sample is also weighted to match current patterns of telephone status and relative usage of landline and cell phones (for those with both), based on extrapolations from the 2009 National Health Interview Survey. The weighting procedure also accounts for the fact that respondents with both landline and cell phones have a greater probability of being included in the combined sample and adjusts for household size within the landline sample. Sampling errors and statistical tests of significance take into account the effect of weighting.

The following table shows the error attributable to sampling that would be expected at the 95% level of confidence for different groups in the survey:
In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.


The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press is an independent opinion research group that studies attitudes toward the press, politics and public policy issues. We are sponsored by The Pew Charitable Trusts and are one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.

The Center's purpose is to serve as a forum for ideas on the media and public policy through public opinion research. In this role it serves as an important information resource for political leaders, journalists, scholars, and public interest organizations. All of our current survey results are made available free of charge.

All of the Center’s research and reports are collaborative products based on the input and analysis of the entire Center staff consisting of:

Andrew Kohut, Director
Scott Keeter, Director of Survey Research
Carroll Doherty and Michael Dimock, Associate Directors
Michael Remez, Senior Writer
Robert Suls, Shawn Neidorf, Leah Christian, Jocelyn Kiley and Alec Tyson, Research Associates
Jacob Poushter, Research Assistant