Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

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Alan Maki

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

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


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

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

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What kind of organization would a third party movement require?

My two cents.

I like the ideas former United States Senator Mike Gravel gave voice to— for the most part.

But Gravel always seems to toss a bizarre aspect into the mix for some reason and making a million dollars a prerequisite for conducting a Primary or third party campaign strikes me as being bizarre.

This is in keeping with politics focused and centered around money which we want to break free from.

Our politics as liberals, progressives and the left should be focused on framing issues properly in a way that leads people to coming up with common sense, reasonable and rational solutions to our problems:

End the wars and use the money to fund human needs; what more is required just tax-the-hell out of the rich.

Raising money obviously needs to be a consideration of great importance; but, the ideas and solutions should come first with the fundraising becoming an integral part of our struggles to free ourselves from Wall Street’s two-party trap.

Making money a focal point of the need to run is wrong but I agree with the rest of what Gravel says as far as his criticisms of Obama. He acknowledges that Cynthia McKinney would make a good candidate— and I agree.
But, instead of focusing on money the focus should be more modest and more about what grassroots activism is all about.
If we set up 1,000  gatherings in homes, church basements, community centers and union halls this would be more effective and likely raise the same amount of money through collections at the meetings: $1,000.00 at 1,000 meetings.
That would be a modest 20 meetings in each state.
Can liberals, progressives and the left, the grouping representing the historic coalition that has proven it is possible to win real change get together— overcome some insignificant differences compared to the urgency of the moment, and handle this kind of organizational task with the intent of forming a third party?
A Cynthia McKinney/Cindy Sheehan ticket would reflect the kind of country we really want.
To make it as easy as possible for this kind of ticket to run, a complete cabinet could be announced reflecting representation from different regions and the full gamut from liberal to progressive and left united around a basic program with specific solutions for real change.
Let’s build around ideas so we are building a base that will carry our movement into the future representing at the ballot box what people are struggling for in their neighborhoods, communities, at school, at work and in the streets— peace, social and economic justice:
End the wars.

Tax the rich.

Full employment with jobs for all putting people to work solving our pressing problems.

What Gravel has stated we can build around:

“Somebody should challenge Obama, there’s no question about it. He is what he is, and it’s not what we want…”

We have never been in a worse situation with respect to leadership. We’ve been in a lot of bad ones, but what we have today equals many of the bad ones of the past.”

“Obama was elected with a scant record, allowing voters to assume that his opposition to the Bush administration’s policies was based on more than mere politics.”

Obama presented himself not as what he is; he presented himself as you would want him to be… And then, of course, when he gets power he turns out to be what he is: a tool of the military-industrial complex and Wall Street.”

“Obama campaigned on transparency and he’s doing more than anyone else to stop transparency in government.

We still have renditions, we have secret prisons around the world, we have Guantanamo still open, obviously in these secret prisons we still engage in torture — what else do you think you’re doing in these secret prisons? — and then either our involvement or we condone Israeli assassination activities in Iran and try to change government in Iran through sabotage.”

That’s what we’re doing. And that’s all on Obama’s watch, which is essentially worse than Bush’s watch in certain degrees.”

Ron Paul is just too far over there for my tastes,” Gravel said. “He is a strict constructionist, not believing in the people.”Gravel said that former Georgia Rep. Cynthia McKinney would make an excellent candidate.

In addition to making raising a certain amount of money a precondition for running, I disagree with Gravel when he states:

Unlike some disappointed Democrats, Gravel doesn’t believe that Hillary Clinton would have been any better than Obama. “Oh God no!” Gravel said, adding that Clinton “would have been a tool of Wall Street and the military-industrial complex. And she’s that right now.”

This is an apt assessment for a third party challenge; however, let’s get real here. Any and every Democrat who would run trying to Primary Obama is going to represent just what Hillary Clinton represents as articulated beautifully by Gravel.

In my opinion, when it comes to looking for someone to Primary Obama, the only thing we should be concerned about is if we think we can apply enough pressure to force the candidate once elected to “bend towards justice.”

The fact is, the Democrats have never put forward anything other than a Wall Street imperialist for the presidency and seldom does anyone better squeak by in the U.S. House or Senate or even state legislatures— heck, not even mayors or city commissioners. Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson are often held up as exceptions but not a one of them was any prize for liberals, progressives or the left to write home about. Their primary quality was understanding and having the ability to “bend towards justice.” Make no mistake, Obama will never “bend towards justice;” for Obama it is a policeman’s billy club across the skull, tear gas and bullets.

In my opinion, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry would likely be apt to “bend towards justice.” Whereas, Cynthia McKinney would be the real thing.

I don’t see why we need to pit a Primary challenge to Obama against a third party campaign. We could, and should, do both with the idea the Primary builds towards a third party; a third party now, not later.

Verizon workers battle the company while both Verizon management and the union leadership support Barack Obama

I received an e-mail from Tim Carpenter who heads up the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) which was brought into existance and financed specifically as an Obama front group. This letter from Tim Carpenter touting solidarity needs to be placed in perspective because the call for solidarity rings as hollow as all of Carpenter's idle, self-serving talk about "holding Obama's feet to the fire." The letter is included in full below.

This e-mail like all kinds of other "solidarity" with Verizon workers are making the rounds.

BUT--- why is no one asking how it is that a union, in this case the Communications Workers of America, can support Obama along with Verizon? 

We see the same pattern with the present lock-out in the Red River Valley with American Crystal Sugar locking out 1,300 workers.

We saw this same thing with the lockout of United Steel Worker union members who were locked out at Honeywell which ended with workers losing the shirts off their backs and the USW leadership calling it a "victory"--- again, union and management both supporting the same Barack Obama.

I have a question:

How can workers and management who have such sharp differences over wages, benefits and working conditions agree when it comes to supporting Barack Obama?

Obama comes to Cannon Falls, Minnesota. He goes to talk to the Chamber of Commerce not locked out American Crystal Sugar workers in the Red River Valley who are members of the BCTGM union which backed Obama to the hilt in a cooperative and working alliance and partnership with American Crystal Sugar's management along with working together supporting the Republican running as a Democrat, Congressman Collin Peterson.

Obama encourages high levels of unemployment making it easy for corporations to recruit scabs. Obama doesn't advance EFCA nor does he table anti-scab legislation. What exactly and specifically is the working class getting from Obama? Nothing but his wars and forced austerity measures to pay for his wars.

The UAW backs Obama along with the Big Three and Obama comes to Minnesota avoiding so much as even speaking in defense of locked out American Crystal Sugar workers and he also refuses to discuss the thousands of jobs that will be lost when the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant is closed and bulldozed over in September. 

Tim Carpenter who is an apologist for everything the Democrats do now declares in his letter below:

"Verizon has joined the pack of corporatists that are taking the race-to-the-bottom approach that is devastating the lives of public and private workers around the country."

Well, what politician is siding with these views of Verizon and this "pack of corporatists?" Barack Obama.

Doesn't it seem strange to anyone besides me that both union leaders and corporate management would be enthusiastically supporting the same president?

How can the same president serve both workers and management?

With Honeywell, American Crystal Sugar and Verizon managements being in the dominant position over workers by their sheer wealth (of course the wealth was created by the workers and stolen by management through a scheme we Marxists call exploitation); who is best served by Obama remaining silent during these strikes and lock-outs? 

Who is getting the best value for their investments in supporting Barack Obama: workers or management?

Tim Carpenter travels all over the country talking about how PDA has been "holding Barack Obama's feet to the fire" as have his "coalition partners," including union leaders; but, how come Tim Carpenter in his letter here doesn't call on Barack Obama to take the side of striking and locked out workers? 

Why doesn't Tim Carpenter call on Obama and the Democrats to table anti-scab legislation?

Obama has called for "putting America first;" but, why isn't Obama calling for placing the plight of the working class before Wall Street's greedy drive for unlimited profits derived from the exloitation of working people and maximized through austerity measures being used to force working people to pick up the tab for Wall Street's imperialist wars?

CWA President Cohen calls for the re-election of Barack Obama; so does Verizon management.

Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Miller union leader Mark Froemke calls for the re-election of Barack Obama; so does the management of American Crystal Sugar.

Leo Gerard, President of the United Steel Workers calls for the re-election of Barack Obama; so does Honeywell management.

Unions and management fight like hell over wages, benefits and working conditions but become best buds in supporting Obama? How can two groups (classes) agree to support the same Barack Obama?

The answer lies in what we Marxists call "class collaboration;" or sell-out and betrayal of the working class by union leaders.

Oh, yes--- what about Wisconsin? Union leaders there continue their support for Obama but what has Obama delivered in return to their struggle?

And then we have the National Education Association rushing to be the first union to back Obama's re-election efforts; and public school teachers have gotten what from Obama that would explain their enthusiasm for him? Maybe it's just the pension fund managers pulling the strings connected to NEA leaders?

Come on, really; how are working people ever going to win anything fighting for better wages, benefits and working conditions when there stand Obama and the Democrats, just like the Republicans, waiting to take everything away won through struggle as with Verizon workers--- or, in the case of Honeywell and American Crystal Sugar, workers just turn, upon advice from union leaders to complacency and acquiescence without struggle.

I wonder what Barack Obama would have had to say if American Crystal Sugar workers would have occupied the plants knowing management stated in advance they were going to lock workers out and bring in scabs to do their jobs anmd take away their livelihoods?

Doesn't anyone see that Obama is not supporting working people in return for their support?

And then we have the thoroughly scabby bastards heading up the United Food and Commercial Workers union that continues it support for Obama and renting the non-union facilities of the Grand Portage Casino/Resort in Grand Portage, Minnesota for their so-called "Hands Across the Border" conference and rally which was nothing more than a CIA instigated confab organized at the behest of the rabid anti-communist ITUC trying to figure out how to "lead" Canadian workers away from class struggle trade unionism and rejection of advocacy of socialism through their New Democratic Party in exchange for "Obama style" politics.

Find union leaders supporting Obama and if you look closely you find those more closely associated with pork chop trade unionism, sweetheart contracts, poverty wage contracts (like UFCW) and outright sellouts and betrayers of working people in favor of employers' interests... just like Obama who is Wall Street all the way from wars to economics and none of these union "leaders" or Tim Carpenter are asking working people:

How is Barack Obama's Wall Street war economy working for you?

These class collaborationist union "leaders" can't ask this question because they, like Obama, (but in a different way) do Wall street's dirty work and in doing Wall Street's dirty work in misleading workers, this is where these union "leaders" and management find "common ground" in supporting Obama and undermining the struggles of the very workers whose dues pay the big, fat salaries of these Obama supporting union "leaders." 

Is it any wonder the current crop of worthless union "leaders" would rather we not learn about the real union leaders who built the unions in the mines, mills and factories and the politicians who supported them: Big Bill Haywood, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, William Z. Foster, Phil Raymond, Wyndham Mortimer, Nadia Barkan, Jim Tester, Ray Stevenson, John Bernard, Floyd Olson, Elmer Benson, Frances Perkins, Harry Bridges, Tim Buck and Gus Hall?

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

Here is Tim Carpenter's pathetic "solidarity statement" with Verizon workers with not a mention of Barack Obama and the need for Obama to take the side of workers who supported him with campaign contributions, phone banking, walking the neighborhoods---

Who the hell does Tim Carpenter think took single-payer universal health care off the table just when the movement supporting it was peaking? Was it not Barack Obama and that sleazy bastard Max Baucus who Obama has now brought into his "Super Congress?"

And here we go again with the "tax-the-rich" rhetoric when we all know that Obama and the Democrats have no more intent to actually "tax-the-rich" than their intent to really end the wars--- all demogagic campaign rhetoric that could have been mouthed by Mussolini to hoodwink the people.

The only way working people are going to get anything out of this Wall Street government is through more militant strikes utilizing occupations to combat lock-outs and a nation-wide General Strike. Wall Street is not going to listen to the voices of working people until the profits come to a stop.

Alan L. Maki

An injury to all

Dear Alan,

Collective bargaining is under siege around the world, especially in "free trade" countries. From Wisconsin forward, 14 states have passed and 19 states have introduced legislation undermining collective bargaining.
Right now, 45,000 Verizon workers are on strike, because Verizon is trying again—despite Verizon's record profits—to eliminate the healthcare coverage putting these workers in the one percent of all American workers who receive company-paid medical benefits. They earned this through collective bargaining.

If these workers were in Canada or the UK, healthcare wouldn't even be an issue up for negotiation. In those countries, everyone is provided healthcare coverage by their governments.

Trying to justify themselves citing "Obamacare's" so-called "Cadillac Provision," Verizon argues that the CWA and IBEW members striking to maintain their contracts should lose their hard-fought and hard-won healthcare benefits.
The Verizon workers, PDA, and our coalition partners know that our government and Verizon's management have it all backwards: We all need to have full medical benefits—through expanded and improved Medicare for all. Verizon has joined the pack of corporatists that are taking the race-to-the-bottom approach that is devastating the lives of public and private workers around the country.

Show your solidarity with Verizon's workers, picketing at Verizon stores and offices in the eastern US. Tell Verizon's CEO that you stand with Verizon's workers against corporate greed.

And make sure you're part of the more than 60 September 1 actions across the country in support of National Nurses United's Main Street Campaign to make Wall Street pay their fair share. Watch the campaign's inspiring video.

An injury to one is an injury to all!

In solidarity,

Tim Carpenter, national director