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...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

I voted and made my vote count for the kind of country I want.

I voted yesterday.

I voted for Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party for President and Michael Cavlan of the Open Progressive Party for United States Senate.

I did not vote for any other candidates because none of the candidates for other offices were entitled to my vote because I don't share their views and none of them have ever shown any concern for peace, social or economic justice.

I did not vo
te on on either of the ballot issues because I find the Democrats and Republicans using these issues to divide people.

I expect when I cast my ballot that working people will get something in return for my vote. None of the other candidates offered anything in return for my vote.

When Wall Street backs a candidate it gets something in return for the backing. I expect to get something for my vote, too.

Why should I vote for any candidate who doesn't even promise anything in return for my vote?

Had any of the other candidates offered anything to improve the lives and livelihoods of working people in even the most miniscule way I would have voted for them; but they didn't offer anything but a bunch of blather so they didn't get my vote.

If anyone of these politicians loses in a close election maybe next time they will consider offering working people something in return for their votes.


Who gave their consent to make this a "two-party system" where only one class gets representation?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

A victory for peace activists; please share widely.

Great news! Please share widely...


St. Paul council supports redirecting some military funding to local needs

Updated:   10/10/2012 11:17:35 PM CDT

St. Paul became the first city in Minnesota to formally resolve that federal military spending needs to be trimmed.

A resolution sponsored by St. Paul City Council member Amy Brendmoen unanimously passed the seven-member board Wednesday, Oct. 10. It asks the state's congressional delegation to support shifting funding priorities from military operations to the needs of local communities.
"The bottom line for me is that federal spending impacts the money that goes to local initiatives," Brendmoen said.

Wednesday's council meeting was attended by members of various anti-war and social justice groups, as well as state Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, and anti-war activist Coleen Rowley.

Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, a professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas, said that if every American taxpayer received a bill for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, St. Paul taxpayers' share would total an estimated $1.7 billion over the past decade.

Other major cities to pass resolutions in favor of trimming military spending are Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Hartford, Conn. Rowley said peace activists have approached the city councils in Eagan and Lakeville but have yet to receive responses. They also plan to approach Apple Valley, Inver Grove Heights, Shoreview and Mounds View officials in coming days.

Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172. Follow him at twitter.com/FrederickMelo.

Make peace and poverty the central issues of this campaign.

These wars are making us all poor while Wall Street gets rich from them.

With more education, agitation and diverse activities enabling people to participate how they feel comfortable I don't think we have to hit dead bottom before change comes.

Why does Minnesota's "liberal" Democratic Governor Mark Dayton continue to undermine the enforcement of Affirmative Action?

Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party are irate working people are abandoning them so they have turned to trying to appease the racist bigots in suburbia and the "gated communities" of the well-heeled in competing with Republicans for their votes.

The Viking Stadium with huge public investment is just the type of project Federal Executive Order #11246 (Affirmative Action) was meant for.

Minnesota Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, while campaigning for office, pledged in no uncertain terms to enforce Affirmative Action.

Once elected, Dayton then turned around and appointed as Director of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development a vile racist like Mark Phillips of Kraus-Anderson Construction whose job it was to help politicians, public officials and their other clients to AVOID the enforcement of Affirmative Action.

In fact, it was Mark Phillips who was the front-man for Kraus-Andersen in preventing the enforcement of Affirmative Action in the planning, construction and staffing of the Sanford Center (Bemidji Regional Event Center)--- a 60-million dollar boondoggle; thus preventing Native American from getting any jobs to which they were entitled since the three surrounding huge Indian Reservations are experiencing racist unemployment rates ranging from 60% to 80% which means the people living on these Indian Reservations are literally mired in poverty here in northern Minnesota.

Now, here we go again with the Viking Stadium--- a billion-dollar boondoggle tax-payers didn't want but like these dirty wars it got shoved down our throats anyways; and, once again here in Minnesota, without Affirmative Action being enforced--- no minority, women or handicapped owned developers were even considered for this job as the law requires so the law was violated right from the get-go.   

Affirmative Action should have kicked in the minute these politicians and Viking owners started discussing a new Viking Stadium--- this is the law of the land: Executive Order #11246.


Obviously the politicians are pandering to the band of bigots who scream, "Reverse discrimination" and "You can't remedy a wrong by taking away our jobs."

But, the enforcement of Affirmative Action requires its implementation before a single contractor or worker is ever employed or hired so the idea that Affirmative Action enforcement takes jobs away from anyone is a racist fabrication based on a caricature of Affirmative Action rather than what it really is as explained in the letter following below.

Another huge boondoggle is coming down the pike that involves hundreds of millions of federal, state and local tax-payer dollars--- the bridge over the St. Croix River--- again, Affirmative Action is not being enforced.

Billions of tax-payer dollars; over ten thousand jobs--- no enforcement of Affirmative Action.

The real question we need to ask of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is what he finds so objectionable with EO #11246 that he refuses to enforce its intent here in Minnesota?

By refusing to enforce Affirmative Action pursuant to Executive Order #11246, Governor Dayton has opened the state wide to one huge class action law-suit not to mention the possibility of massive grassroots action and upheaval by people justifiably fed up with their tax-dollars being spent on these public works projects but getting mired in poverty instead of being provided with a job which is the only "ladder out of poverty" for working people. 

People without jobs are going to be poor.

Obviously this is too much for a billionaire governor like Mark Dayton who was born with a gold spoon in his mouth to understand.

Make no mistake: a job is a right; a human right.

Any school child understands what Minnesota's "liberal" Governor Mark Dayton can't get through his head: Working people without jobs are going to be poor.

At the request of Micah Hines, Governor Dayton's top legal adviser, I submitted this letter to Governor Dayton which has gone without answer and obviously without implementation; and, again, we need to ask WHY, especially since no one but a few racist bigots have opposed this suggestion?

Proposal for a Minnesota Governor’s Advisory Committee for the Enforcement of Affirmative Action 

Goal and objective: A level playing field.

All the talk about a new Vikings’ Stadium, the need for infrastructure development and repair, talk of light rail and other large-scale public works and joint public-private initiatives and projects begs the question: What will be done to end racism in employment here in Minnesota that has historical roots combined with present indifference?

Fact: People without jobs are destined to be poor.

Unemployment, under-employment and poverty-wage jobs are the root of poverty.

Poverty is more than statistics. For living, breathing human beings, poverty means going without adequate food, clothing, health care, education, housing, and transportation.

When unemployment rises well beyond the “normal” levels for people of color, women and the handicapped, Affirmative Action as articulated and defined by Federal Executive Order Number 11246 must kick in unless we end up with large pools of unemployed in communities--- and on Indian Reservations--- of people of color which hurt us all, but no where near as much as it harms the victims of racism in employment.

These large pools of the unemployed serve to push down wages and living standards for everyone.

The enforcement of Affirmative Action will help make sure Minnesotans get the jobs funded by Minnesota tax-payers rather than workers from other states.

The enforcement of Affirmative Action will lead to encouraging and strengthening small businesses and entrepreneurship among minorities as minority contractors help recruit people of color through the enforcement of Affirmative Action.

Politicians who pander to the voices of bigotry, racism and hate often claim that advocating for the enforcement of Affirmative Action is so controversial that its enforcement creates divisions in society which tears apart our social fabric. In fact, issues like a new Vikings’ Stadium, as we have seen, are themselves very controversial.

Politics embodies controversy.

The Governor of Minnesota has the responsibility to provide leadership in the just struggle for the enforcement of Affirmative Action in a way that guides Minnesotans to creating a level playing field for everyone.

Governor Mark Dayton should establish “The Minnesota Governor’s Advisory Committee for the Enforcement of Affirmative Action” and this Committee shall consist of: one member representing the Governor, one member each from the AFL-CIO & Change To Win, one member each representing the following firms: public relations, architectural, engineering, general contractors and minority contractors, with two members representing each of the following communities: Black, Native American and Hispanic with at least one member from each of these communities being among the unemployed; three women and one handicapped representative--- 18 members in total.

All members of this Advisory Committee shall participate, together, in at least one training session explaining the history, goals and objectives ofAffirmative Action and must be made aware of the present problems relating to how racism in employment has led to current social and economic problems in the specific communities of people of color, women and the handicapped.

This Advisory Committee shall present concrete goals and objectives in reviewing all public funding where there is any type of state involvement in funding and financing including proposals for bonding bills and any joint public-private ventures in which more than $20,000.00 in public funding is involved and/or more than 15 employees hired.

The loop-hole preventing enforcing Affirmative Action must be closed by the Governor and State Legislature refusing to participate in any township, city, county, state, park’s commission, school district, college or university where there is not an Affirmative Action Policy in place being enforced.

Affirmative Action must kick in when any project is first publicly proposed or there is significant public-private cooperation towards project development--- whichever occurs first; long before the first shovel is sunk into the ground.

It is up to the parties involved to implement Affirmative Action in a timely manner so as to prevent project delays which might lead to additional costs incurred by tax-payers. Where this is not done, any costs relating to project delays should result in fines levied at the direction of the Advisory Committee on the parties responsible.

Affirmative Action is the law of the land. For the victims of historic racist employment practices continuing today which results in the need for the enforcement of Affirmative Action, Affirmative Action is both a Human Right and a Constitutional Right.

The Governor of Minnesota has a Constitutional responsibility to see to it that Affirmative Action is enforced. This Advisory Committee provides the Governor with the tools to achieve the enforcement of Affirmative Action.

People should not have to resort to law suits, direct action and other means of protest in order to have their right to employment protected.

Everyone has the right to seek employment from a level playing field.

A means to enforce Affirmative Action on the Vikings’ Stadium (and all other projects stated above) in line with stated goals and objectives must be found before planning for this project proceeds any further.

I am submitting this “Proposal for a Minnesota Governor’s Advisory Committee for the Enforcement of Affirmative Action” for consideration to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton upon request from Micah Hines, General Counsel to Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton, who requested I submit this proposal in writing to Governor Mark Dayton.

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

Contact information:

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Blog: http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/alan.l.maki

Copies provided to:
Urban League
Minnesota Indian Affairs Council
Change To Win
Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party
Republican Party
Green Party

Posted to:
FaceBook... http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=10150474417745086
Blog.......... http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/proposal-for-minnesota-governors.html

Preliminary response from Governor Dayton:

Thank you for contacting the Office of Governor Mark Dayton. We appreciate your feedback and suggestions about how we, together, can build a better Minnesota. A member of our staff will read your message promptly.

Note: Further responses will be shared. Please share your own concerns on this issue with Governor Dayton. Contact information:

To contact Governor Mark Dayton, please write, phone, fax or e-mail.

Mailing Address:
Office of the Governor
130 State Capitol
75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155

Other ways to reach our office:

Telephone: 651-201-3400
Toll Free: 800-657-3717
Minnesota Relay 800-627-3529
Fax: 651-797-1850

Contact the Governor's Office by e-mail:

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

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell: 651-587-5541

Primary E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net
E-mail: alan.maki1951mn@gmail.com

Blog: http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Thomas Paine, "What a huge debt this country owes its trouble makers".

While I think it is very important we participate in the electoral process by supporting and voting for real progressive candidates like Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, Jill Stein of the Green Party or Stewart Alexander of the Socialist Party for president who courageously stand up and vigorously speak out for the kind of country we want as alternatives to the rapacious, greedy Wall Street warmongers who profit from racism, exploitation and wars--- and we need to come together to support and vote for our fellow activists like Michael Cavlan running for the United States Senate here in Minnesota against Amy "Republican Lite" Klobuchar....

Let's cut through the crap and be honest with ourselves:

We are going to have to combine our electoral activism with nothing short of educating, agitating and organizing a massive grassroots uprising and upheaval if we are ever going to turn this country around enabling us, WE THE PEOPLE, to take power from these Wall Street coupon clippers who have grown fat and rich from our labor and wars.

As Obama or Romney prepare to take us into more of these " dirty imperialist wars" as Mark Twain called them, we need to become more vigorous in our activities remembering the words of Thomas

" What a huge debt this country owes its trouble makers".

There is only one way we are going to end these dirty wars and stop this criminal cabal of Democrats and Republicans from carrying out Wall Street's agenda taking us into war after war paid for through austerity measures they shove down our throats... we need to raise a whole lot of hell.

Make no mistake, Wall Street is our enemy.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hidden Health Crisis Facing Palestinian Refugees

Very sad and deplorable...


Hidden Health Crisis Facing Palestinian Refugees
By IRIN - Johannesburg

New research has uncovered the hidden health toll that refugee life in Lebanon has taken on more than 400,000 Palestinians.

UK medical journal The Lancet has published a series of abstracts drawn from a meeting of public health researchers, The Lancet-Palestine Health Alliance, in Beirut in March 2012. The Alliance aims to "strengthen and expand the capacity of Palestinian scientists to study, report and advocate for the health of their own people," explained Richard Horton, The Lancet’s editor-in-chief.

While much of the research investigates the negative physical and mental health impacts of living in the occupied Palestinian territory, several studies also explore the health and well-being of Palestinians living in Lebanon, which has hosted Palestinian refugees for more than 60 years.

Poor Living Conditions

According to one of the studies, by researchers from the American University of Beirut, “discriminatory laws and decades of marginalisation” have left Palestinian refugees in Lebanon socially, politically and economically disadvantaged. Over half of them live in increasingly overcrowded camps, where “the provision of housing, water, electricity, refuse and other services are inadequate and contribute to poor health”.

Out of 2,500 households surveyed, 42 percent had water leaking from their walls or roofs, and 8 percent lived in homes made of dangerous building materials such as asbestos.

Hoda Samra, a spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) in Lebanon, said many refugees live in shelters lacking ventilation and daylight. While about 5,000 shelters are in need of rehabilitation, the agency has funding to repair only 730. Samra added that there is also a lack of funding to address rundown infrastructure in four out of 12 of the camps.

Camp populations continue to grow but the land allocated for them has not; the resulting overcrowding has exacerbated public health problems.

“Some of the camps are growing vertically but not horizontally,” said Samra, noting that many of the structures were built haphazardly, too close together and without proper foundations.

The study found a direct correlation between poor housing conditions and poor health among respondents; 31 percent had chronic illnesses and 24 percent had experienced acute illnesses in the previous six months.

Poverty and Illness

The researchers also found a strong link between poverty and ill health.

Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon are ineligible for social services, including healthcare, and they are banned from some 50 professions.

UNRWA and the International Labour Organization have lobbied the Lebanese government to ease employment restrictions, but amendments to labour legislation enacted in August 2010, which would make it easier for refugees to secure work permits, are still awaiting an implementation decree from the Department of Labour.

According to another study in The Lancet series, also by researchers from the University of Beirut, 59 percent of refugee households live below the national poverty line; 63 percent reported some food insecurity, while 13 percent were severely food insecure. Only the poorest - about 13 percent - qualify for food rations and small cash grants from UNRWA.

The combination of poor nutrition, unhealthy living conditions and feelings of hopelessness breed "all kinds of illnesses", said Samra. But while primary health care is freely available through UNRWA's clinics, and patients referred to UNRWA-contracted hospitals are treated free of charge, specialized care is only partially covered. Refugees in need of complex surgery or treatment must foot at least half of the bill themselves.

"This is a big, big challenge for them," said Samra. "They often find themselves unable to cover the rest of the bill and have to run up debts they can’t repay or simply forgo surgery or treatment."

She spoke of an 18-year-old in need of a liver transplant that costs US $95,000, which neither he nor UNRWA can afford. "We can't cover that. We're trying now to approach some private sector companies to collect the funds needed."

Need for Mental Health Care

Lack of mental health services presents another challenge. A 2009 study by UNRWA, also published in The Lancet, found that mental disorders related to chronically harsh living conditions and long-term political instability, violence, and uncertainty were a public-health concern among Palestinian refugees living in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon. One of the recent University of Beirut studies found that 55 percent of respondents were "psychologically distressed".

UNRWA offers only basic counselling services, referring refugees in need of psychosocial support to NGOs such as Médecins Sans Frontières. "We’re always pushing project proposals for mental health services to donors with the hope they get funded; there is a need," said Samra.

"When taken together,” writes Lancet editor Horton, “these data expose the hidden crisis facing Palestinian refugees, whose health needs have been sorely neglected.”



Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Big Bird and racist dirty birds

Public Radio in their fund-raising makes the same claims as Fox News about being "fair" and "balanced."

However, I find it very interesting that National Public Radio and Minnesota Public Radio give all kinds of coverage to the racists and bigots in their challenges against Affirmative Action but not one single story has been done about the struggles of people demanding that Affirmative Action be enforced.

Three examples here in Minnesota:

The Bemidji Regional Event Center (now called the Sanford Center) where Bemidji and Beltrami County officials actually told Native Americans to stay on the reservations.


The building of the new Viking Stadium where Democratic Governor Mark Dayton has ignored all demands to enforce Affirmative Action.


The huge new bridge that is going to be built over the St. Croix River where Democratic Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is working in league with Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to ignore the enforcement of Affirmative Action.

Another thing; we see where this racist challenge to Affirmative Action in Texas has become a major issue yet not one single member of the Mainstream Media including NPR and MPR will pose questions to the presidential candidates or any other candidates regarding their views on Affirmative Action (Federal Executive Order Number 11246).

I find it amazing we have a focus on Big Bird by the MainStream Media but don't know where any of the candidates stand when it comes to enforcing Affirmative Action.

Could it be that the MainStream Media and the political process in this country are dominated by a bunch Wall Street serving racist dirty birds?

The face of an Obama sock puppet...

Barack Obama, the original Matchstick Man (a con artist), has his army of sock puppets working the Mainstream Media and the Internet:

sock puppet:

An account made on an internet message board, by a person who already has an account, for the purpose of posting more-or-less anonymously.

sock puppet:

A fake personality, usually a 'friend' or 'sister,' created by a drama queen/king for the sake of defending him/herself against others in an online forum.

Someone who might be an actual person but behaves like the above, defending someone who really deserves no defense.

sock puppet:

Used to describe a person who has no original thoughts, opinions, or ideas of his/her own. Instead they regurgitate the "party-line" or talking points of others; usually of their particular political party or candidate.

Perhaps we should bestow some kind of award for "Obama sock puppet of the week."

Something like, the "Dumb Donkey Sock Puppet Award."

I should point out that not everyone, nor even most, people who support and will vote for Obama are sock puppets--- they are victims of Obama and his team (many very well paid--- some volunteers) of sock puppets.

Perhaps some creative artist or cartoonist could create an illustration of a sock puppet using an old sock on Obama's hand?

Maybe we could even get one of the sweatshops in Haiti enabled by Bill Clinton's philanthropic foundation and enforced by U.N. troops to produce sock puppets real cheap?

We could donate the proceeds from the sales of these Cholera laden sock puppets produced in the free enterprise zones of Haiti to George Lakoff for free distribution of his books to expand Obama's army of sock puppets.

In fact, let me present the first "Dumb Donkey Sock Puppet Award" to the grand-daddy of all Obama sock puppets: George Lakoff; for making hundreds of thousands of dollars peddling his new book supplementing "Don't Think Of An Elephant"--- "The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic."

Monday, October 8, 2012

Matchstick Man

The original "Matchstick Man" supported by a bunch of sock-puppets...


Matchstick Man:

Another term for a scam artist.

Word use:

The Matchstick Man cheated the American people out of real health care reform.

George Edwards / Wilkinsburg resident was USW activist 'every day of his life'

Obituary: George Edwards / Wilkinsburg resident was USW activist 'every day of his life'
March 24, 1918 - Oct. 5, 2012
October 7, 2012 12:01 am



 By Eleanor Chute / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

At the 70th anniversary celebration of the founding of the United Steelworkers of America union this year in Cleveland, George Edwards of Wilkinsburg was one of a kind.

He was the only one who had been at both the founding convention in 1942 and the more recent event.

But at the age of 94, Mr. Edwards was living life with his characteristic activism, including marching the entire length of the Labor Day parade in Pittsburgh this year -- only a stroke in 2000 kept him away -- and participating in a USW civil rights conference in Cincinnati in recent weeks.

"He was an activist every day of his life," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

Mr. Edwards died Friday at UPMC Shadyside.

Born in the South Dakota town of Philip, Mr. Edwards graduated with a degree in psychology from the University of Tennessee. He went on to study theology in Oberlin, Ohio.

He took a job as a machinist in a U.S. Steel mill in Lorain, Ohio, starting with a wage of less than $1 an hour in 1942.

He became involved in the existing union organizing committee and went as a guest to the founding USW convention the same year he started at the mill.

While he once had thought of forming a labor church, he decided he could be more effective working with the union.

His son David of New York City said his father was "very idealistic," adding that many idealistic young people were drawn into the revival of the labor movement.

He worked at the Lorain mill as a member of USW Local 1104 until he retired in 1981, speaking out for collective bargaining and civil rights.

He was the founding editor of the "Lorain Labor Leader," a large labor publication.

He walked the strike picket line a number of times, including a 116-day strike in 1959, his family said. He tapped into the company's electricity and enabled fellow picketers in Lorain to listen to their sports teams on the radio.

His third wife, former Wilkinsburg Councilwoman Denise Edwards, who was with him for 31 years, said her husband's first vote in a presidential election was for socialist Norman Thomas, but Mr. Edwards became active in the Communist Party, staying active until his death.

In the Red scare of the 1950s, his Communist affiliation affected his union work.

His wife, a former steelworker who joined him in activist causes, said he was able to keep his steel job, but he was barred from attending union meetings for a number of years.

His name was removed -- and later restored -- from a plaque in the Lorain union hall, she said.

Later, when living in Cleveland, he opened an enclosed closet for renovations and discovered surveillance equipment, Ms. Edwards said.

In the 1960s, he became active in the civil rights and peace movements, and the national spotlight on communism dimmed.

A U.S. Army veteran, he protested against wars in Vietnam, Korea and Iraq.

In the 1970s, he was the co-chair of the National Steelworkers Rank and File Committee, which believed the union was too close to the company.

Ms. Edwards said the group disbanded in the 1980s after union leadership was desegregated and workers won the right to ratify contracts.

"He was absolutely convinced that the people of the United States, especially the workers of the United States, should determine our own destiny," she said. "The only way we were going to have economic justice was if the people controlled and ran the industries of our country.

"He absolutely believed that and believed that inherent in capitalism is all the inequality and the injustice and that system needed to change fundamentally."

She said her husband was democratic in conducting meetings.

"All voices were heard. At the end of the day, you take a vote and whatever the majority decides to do is what we do," she said.

A plaque honoring him after retirement called him "one of Lorain's finest sons of steel" and praised his work in the rank-and-file movement that helped to make a "great fighting union."

In retirement, he became a founding member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees, known as SOAR; was the executive board member of SOAR in Pennsylvania; and was appointed an emeritus member of the international SOAR's board.

He also hiked, took art classes, painted and did photography, rekindling an interest he had when he had a small commercial studio in Lorain.

He also made chess sets out of scrap metal, including two that the Communist Party USA presented as gifts in Vietnam and Moscow.

Mr. Edwards moved to Wilkinsburg in 1990.

The couple worked to try to stop the privatization of Turner Elementary School in Wilkinsburg, were arrested on the picket line supporting striking Pittsburgh Press unions and participated in Occupy Pittsburgh.

He got the tent out of the garage, but the couple decided not to camp there because of his health.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Edwards is survived by a daughter, Deborah Sakach of Dana Point, Calif.; three sisters, Dorothy Edwards Dale Hughes of Fairhope, Ala.; Wilma Edwards Neas Loga of Janesville, Wis.; and Marian Edwards Farris of Knoxville, Tenn.; four grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and one great-great grandchild.

A date for a memorial service has not been set.

The family suggests contributions to Next Generation or SOAR at the United Steelworkers Union, attention: secretary/treasurer, 60 Boulevard of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222; or to Peoples World, 235 West 23rd St., New York, NY 10011.

 Eleanor Chute: echute@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1955.
 First Published October 7, 2012 12:00 am

Friday, October 5, 2012

For Obama, No More Excuses

Published on Friday, October 5, 2012 by Demos

For Obama, No More Excuses

by Bob Herbert

It's time to stop making excuses for Barack Obama. With so much at stake in this election, his performance at the debate on Wednesday night was indefensible.

President Obama listens to Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in their first debate at the University of Denver. (Photo: LA Times)

Ever since he was elected, there have been reasons offered, either publicly or privately, for why Obama has been unable to fully engage some of the nation's most important challenges. Despite the rampant increase in poverty in the worst downturn since the Depression, Obama supporters whispered that he couldn't do more for the poor and couldn't speak out more forcefully on their behalf because that would not be politically advantageous. So nearly all of his economic initiatives had to be couched in language that referred to the middle class, even though the poor were being hurt far worse. LBJ could launch a war on poverty but not Barack Obama.

Black Americans have been disproportionately clobbered by the Great Recession and its aftermath, losing both income and wealth at staggering rates. Much of the black community is enduring a full-blown economic depression. But Obama and his advisers have been unwilling to address this catastrophe openly and forcefully out of fear that the president would be perceived as too black by prejudiced white voters, thus losing their support.

There is always some excuse, some reason for not bringing all of the president's energy and resources to the fight.

On jobs, the biggest crisis facing the country, the excuse for not having done more has been Republican obstructionism. There is no doubt the Republicans have tried to thwart the president every which way from sundown. But Obama never fought back in kind. He never found his inner Harry Truman, never took his case forcefully to the people. He kept trying to accommodate the other side long after it was clear that no accommodation was possible.

In the face of the worst economic calamity since the 1930s, the United States needed a mammoth job-creation and economic revitalization program, a New Deal for the 21st century. But that would have required presidential leadership capable of challenging the formidable opposition mounted by the very folks who caused the crisis in the first place. Instead we got a woefully insufficient stimulus program and a failed effort at some kind of grand bargain between the president and the retrograde Republicans in Congress. That grand bargain would have imposed austerity measures that would have further crushed the poor and the black and the middle class.

On Wednesday night nearly 60 million television viewers got to witness this chronic unwillingness of Barack Obama to fight. He did not hammer Mitt Romney for his ugly, all-too-revealing comments that demeaned nearly half the population as slackers and ne-er-do-wells. He did not go after Romney's terrible job-creation record as governor of Massachusetts. He did not assail Romney for his callous contention on 60 Minutes that people who don't have health insurance actually do get care -- in the nation's emergency rooms. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die," said Romney. "We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care."

Obama never bothered to bring up that cold-hearted comment during the debate, never bothered to explain why the reliance on emergency room treatment is one of the worst possible approaches imaginable to providing health care.

One of the more remarkable things about the debate was Mitt Romney's absolute contempt for anything resembling facts, truth or reality. Deliberate deception was the bedrock foundation of his strategy. He wouldn't even come clean on the tax cuts that are a cornerstone of his campaign. And yet it was Romney who had the chutzpah to look Obama in the eye and assert: "Mr. President, you're entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not your own facts."

How in heaven's name could Obama let him get away with that?

The harsh truth is that President Obama seemed unprepared for the debate. He came off as a man who didn't really want to be there, who wondered why he should have to be bothered fending off the impertinent attacks and serial untruths being flung at him by his opponent. The millions of Obama supporters who wanted to see flashes of passion and fire from their guy -- from a president fighting effectively on their behalf -- were left with nothing but the bitter taste of disappointment.

Romney, in contrast, seemed not just confident but in command. He was dynamic (as he fashioned one falsehood after another), while Obama seemed flat, uncomfortable and unwilling to vigorously counteract the falsehoods. Most important, Romney was the one far more willing to fight.

There will be more debates. And the election has not been decided by any means. But Obama's supporters need to make it clear that the time for excuses is over. The president had no right to show up for a debate unprepared and offer an expectant nation an embarrassingly half-hearted performance. Progressive leaders, who represent Obama's strongest and most faithful supporters, have an obligation to convey that message in the strongest possible terms.

The president let his people down. And if he's capable of doing that in an election that is clearly so important, it means he's capable of doing it again if he wins a second term.

© 2012 Demos

Bob Herbert, former staff columnist for the New York Times focusing on politics, urban affairs and social trends, is now a distinguished senior fellow at Demos.

What guides Obama's agenda?


Are "The Powell Memo" < http://thepowellmemo.blogspot.com/ > and the Heritage Foundation's "Mandate for Leadership" guiding Barack Obama's agenda?

Check out this movie:



Do we want to reform Wall Street; or, take political and economic power away from Wall Street?


Do we want to rebuild the system; or, do we need a revolution?


Wall Street is our common enemy; an enemy we share with the peoples of the world.

Nina Simone understood what we need:

Democracy is at the crossroads.

Socialism is the solution.

Defend democracy--- cast your ballot for Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein or Stewart Alexander.

Many people are so repulsed--- and justifiably repulsed--- by the domination of Wall Street over the political process that they are calling for boycotts and burning presidential ballots.

Most people in this country are repulsed by Obama who can't defend his record and Romney's arrogance and lies with both being nothing but mouthpieces for Wall Street's dirty imperialist wars and austerity measures here at home to pay for these barbaric wars.

This is my response to those who would withdraw from electoral participation which is an important part of the struggles for peace, social and economic justice:

While I join you in your disgust over Obama who deserves to be defeated and Romney who should not be elected, in my opinion burning your ballots or boycotting the election instead of casting your ballots for one of our fellow activists for peace, social and economic justice--- Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein or Stewart Alexander--- is counter-productive.

There is time to re-think your decision and I hope you do.

How would you feel if Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein or Stewart Alexander were to shit on a struggle you initiated?

Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein and Stewart Alexander are trying their hardest to raise our concerns and we should support them, not abandon them; because their voices bring unity to our causes.

I would be interested in hearing a response to my concerns.

I offer my opposition and opinion to "burning ballots" and "boycott" on the friendliest of terms.

I would note that because some liberals, progressives and leftists have betrayed us (examples: Progressives for Obama/Progressive America Rising, Campaign for America's Future, Progressive Democrats of America, etc.) in supporting Obama there is no reason we should jump without thinking to the opposite extreme; thereby adding more confusion to the mix when we--- as liberals, progressives and leftists--- should be contributing leadership and clear thinking to the issues, problems, movements and struggles for peace, social and economic justice; constructive participation in the electoral process in defense of democracy as part of our struggles is part of our responsibility.

Between Rocky Anderson, Jill Stein and Stewart Alexander, certainly there is an alternative any liberal, progressive or leftist can support.

My preference, voiced a number of times, would have been that these three candidates should have united with one voice in a single united ticket but this did not come to be. BUT, these three candidates have agreed to sign on to the "Unified Platform" < http://newprogs.org/unified-progressive-platform-ratified > which all of us should be able to unite around.

Again, I welcome discussion.

I don't voice my concerns as an attack but rather to stimulate discussion, dialog and debate with the understanding that in the short and long terms we are going to have to find a way to work together if we are going to defeat our common Wall Street enemy in achieving peace and justice.

When all is said and done, we are going to have to wrest political and economic power from Wall Street if we are going to get real change so let's seek ways to struggle which bring us closer together.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ex-defense chief says hit on Iran would be disastrous

Ex-defense chief says hit on Iran would be disastrous



Painting a picture of internal political dysfunction in a dangerous world, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Wednesday night that a U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran would have disastrous consequences.
Neither the United States nor Israel is capable of wiping out Iran's nuclear capability, he said, and "such an attack would make a nuclear-armed Iran inevitable. They would just bury the program deeper and make it more covert."

Iran could respond by disrupting world oil traffic and launching a wave of terrorism across the region, Gates said.

"The results of an American or Israeli military strike on Iran could, in my view, prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations in that part of the world."

First in this season's Norfolk Forum speaker series, Gates spoke to an audience of nearly 2,000 in Chrysler Hall.

United Nations sanctions aimed at discouraging Iran's nuclear ambitions are starting to have an impact on the Iranian economy, he said, and "that's our best chance going forward, to ratchet up the economic pressure and diplomatic isolation to the point where the Iranian leadership concludes that it actually hurts Iranian security and, above all, the security of the regime itself, to continue to pursue nuclear weapons."
And while Israeli anxiety over Iran's intentions is understandable, he added, America should make it clear to Israel's leaders that "they do not have a blank check to take action that could do grave harm to American vital interests."

Meanwhile, Gates warned, the United States is paralyzed by partisan gridlock that threatens the nation with financial insolvency.

The combination of across-the-board spending cuts and tax increases set to take effect in January, put in motion by Congress' inability to agree on how to reduce the ballooning national debt, would do grave  damage to the military and virtually every other essential government operation and could throw the country into a new recession, he said.

The central problem, Gates said, is that both major parties have been captured by their ideological extremes.

"The moderate center, the foundation of our political system, is not holding.

"Too many of our politicians seem more concerned with winning elections and scoring ideological points than saving the country."

Gates ran the Pentagon from 2006 to 2011 under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. He was the first defense secretary to serve under presidents of both parties.

He was also the only career CIA officer in history to rise from entry-level employee to director of the agency. He was director from 1991 to 1993.

The Kansas native now holds the honorary post of chancellor at the College of William and Mary. A 1965 graduate of the college, he is the first alumnus in the modern era to become chancellor.

Bill Sizemore, 757-446-2276, bill.sizemore@pilotonline.com

An open letter to the Sierra Club

Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club Political Director;

What is really pathetic is that the Sierra Club doesn't even bring forward the views of the two "greenest" candidates in this race: Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein.

After watching the real debate on Amy Goodman's "Democracy Now!," I don't think there is any doubt that both Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein out shined  both Romney and Obama who, without the assistance from a teleprompter, proved he was nothing but an idiot on the order of George Bush.

Because Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein have been too short-sighted to understand that had they come together with a united progressive ticket, the American people are going to be cheated out of the opportunity to vote for a team which could have turned this country around; but that is neither here nor there at this late date since either Obama or Romney will continue dragging us down the road to ruin.

Since Obama, who can't defend his horrible record after four years in office, deserves to be defeated; Romney, obviously, shouldn't be elected. What a mess. This is lose-lose for the American people.

The only thing left is for Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein to lead a massive movement of people raising hell in the streets insisting that their progressive programs be implemented.

As the leaders of a massive movement for real change against Wall Street's reactionary agenda of wars abroad paid for with austerity measures here at home, Anderson and Stein should present themselves to the American people in a united ticket in 2016.

By being honest in bringing to the attention of your members the campaigns of Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein, the Sierra Club could do a great service in quest of saving our country and our democracy.

Again, I say shame on the Sierra Club for intentionally ignoring the Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein campaigns.

Don't bother asking me to renew my Sierra Club membership; and don't bother sending me your requests for contributions because all such requests will be met with the same response the Sierra Club has shown towards Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party and Jill Stein of the Green Party--- your requests for further dues and contributions will simply be ignored.

Alan L. Maki

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Barack Obama deserves to be defeated at the polls; Mitt Romney does not deserve to be elected.

George Lakoff, the well-heeled, muddle-headed, middle class intellectual has provided a "guide" for tonight's debate.

Here's the link to Lakoff's shallow thoughts masquerading as "progressive thinking" on what to watch for in the Presiden

tial Debates starting this Wed evening:


Re: George Lakoff

Lakoff is NOT a progressive; he supports the warmonger Obama.

In his book "Don't Think Of An Elephant" Lakoff declares that progressives should offer "progressive policy directives" but never bring forward specific progressive solutions to problems.

His current book links being progressive to supporting Democrats: "The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic."

What Lakoff has taught these neo-liberal thoroughly reactionary Democrats is how to peddle their reactionary neo-liberal Wall Street agenda as "progressive;" thereby tricking the American people to continue getting caught in this "two-party trap."

Lakoff is responsible for "packaging" Barack Obama to be acceptable to liberals, progressives and the left by confusing them that rhetoric is the same as policies, legislation and solutions.

After all, Lakoff is a master LINGUIST, a trickster with words; it is his job to suck people into supporting candidates who sound like they will do what is right while knowing full well they are going to do Wall Street's dirty work and give us the shaft.

Obama is carrying out Wall Street's agenda of dirty imperialist wars abroad paid for with austerity measures forced down our throats here at home; and it is George Lakoff's job for which he is paid extremely well to make this sound good.

I notice in this article by George Lakoff, there is no mention of the fact that alternative REAL progressive candidates like Rocky Anderson--- Justice Party, Jill Stein--- Green Party and Stewart Alexander--- Socialist Party will not be allowed in the debates although people can see and listen to candidates Anderson and Stein as part of tonight's debate here on Democracy Now!:


And for what real progressive politics is all about; check out the New Progressive Alliance:


The New Progressive Alliance is on FaceBook, too; just search "New Progressive Alliance" and join real progressives in discussion, dialog and debate.

All this crap about "safe states" has to go; no politician ever deserved to be punished at the polls more than this Wall Street warmonger, Barack Obama.

The central question of this entire campaign is one based on class that everyone is afraid to ask:

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

There is no question more important than this question yet it is not being asked of the American people because the very question has to do with a dirty word the corporate serving MainStreamMedia and all the muddle-headed, well-heeled and over-paid capitalist sooth-Sayers like George Lakoff assigned to give all of this a progressive connotation and twist wants to pretend doesn't exist: imperialism, the last and final stage of capitalism now in its most barbaric and cannibalistic form.

Barack Obama has been designated to oversee Wall Street's imperialist interests; capitalism in its twilight and dying days dragging us all down a dark, dangerous bumpy road with hidden curves headed straight to perdition with no stops for a breather in purgatory.

Mark Twain understood the barbaric and cannibalistic nature of U.S. imperialism as he gave considerable thought to the Spanish-American War--- a war still going on in the Philippines--- to which Obama has added more troops and the occupations of the Philippines and Puerto Rico we are still paying for but no one in government can tell us how much we have paid.

Like poverty, independence for Puerto Rico is not an issue in this presidential campaign--- after all, Wall Street reaps huge profits from cheap labor which breeds poverty in Puerto Rico.

And, like Puerto Rico, Indian Reservations mired in racist poverty are not being discussed.

How come George Lakoff is afraid to grapple with this very forthright and accurate question every voter should be asking herself or himself---

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

Poverty, its cause and solution, has yet to be addressed during this campaign even though any school child knows that working people without jobs and working people with jobs paying poverty wages are going to be poor.

And the contribution of squandering our Nation's wealth--- all created by workers--- on these dirty wars is, also, making working people poor as the Wall Street merchants of death and destruction grow richer. We might as well be dumping the wealth of our Nation into the deepest depths of the oceans.

Will there be any discussion of how Obamacare (which is the same as Romneycare) is really the "Health Insurance and Pharmaceutical Industry Bailout and Profit Maximization Act of 2010?" One more question going without asking.

George Lakoff's ideas of what is progressive do not include the need to end these dirty imperialist wars so we can reap "peace dividends" to finance human needs.

George Lakoff's ideas of what is progressive do not include the need for a minimum wage that is a real living wage that is legislatively tied to all cost of living factors and indexed to inflation.

George Lakoff's ideas of what is progressive do not include the need for a National Public Health Care System and a National Public Child Care System which combined would put over 15-million unemployed Americans to work in decent, good-paying jobs while providing the American people with free health care and free child care.

Progressives--- real progressives--- are not afraid to raise these kinds of questions while bringing forward these very specific solutions to our most pressing problems.

Barack Obama deserves to be defeated at the polls; Mitt Romney does not deserve to be elected.

No matter which one wins the American people along with the peoples of the rest of the world--- we all lose.

Democracy is at the crossroads.

We have a real mess that is left up to us, We the People, to resolve through grassroots organizing and united, militant activism.

I find it interesting George Lakoff would have us focus on "patriotism" while leaving out any discussion of peace and poverty.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

AFL-CIO Endorses Nationwide Consumer Boycott of American Crystal Sugar in Response to Crystal Sugar’s 14-Month Lockout

The national AFL-CIO is calling for a boycott of American Crystal Sugar after management has kept workers locked out for over a year here in the Red River Valley.


I find it very interesting that local, state and national AFL-CIO leaders were opposed to American Crystal Workers occupying the plants when faced with a lockout but now claim they will organize a boycott of American Crystal Sugar.

Does anyone really believe that this boycott will consist of anything more than a another press conference?

Richard Trumka has given American Crystal Sugar's management the ultimatum:

Negotiate a contract in good faith or face a boycott.

Given the fact that Trumka was opposed to workers taking over the plants when management first threatened the lockout; and for over a year Trumka has made no effort to stop replacement workers from entering the ACS plants and operating them at maximum capacity... I bet American Crystal Sugar's management are just shaking in their boots at the threat of the AFL-CIO threatening a consumer boycott as many consumers already "boycott" sugar simply because they can't afford its high price as a result of the AFL-CIO working with ACS management and politicians (Democrats and Republicans) to keep the price (and profits from) beet derived sugar artificially high.

Let's get real here.

The union has already agreed to most of ACS management's concessions and ASC management refuses to negotiate in good faith.

Do you suppose ACS management wants to shed itself from the union altogether?

In fact, the owners/shareholders of American Crystal Sugar stated long before the lockout that it was their intent to get rid of the union and Richard Trumka and the corrupt local and national "leaders" of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) used intimidation tactics against their own members who dared to so much as mention that a worker take-over of the plants be considered.

Here is a list of sugar companies from all over the world:


How many of these companies' products do U.S. consumers see on the shelves when it comes to beet derived sugar that they can choose from as an alternative to American Crystal Sugar?

Union leaders are subjecting American Crystal Sugar workers to a losing "battle" behind all kinds of militant sounding talk that amounts to nothing but more betrayal from which workers will continue to suffer because they were not encouraged to do the right thing in the first place when ACS management threatened a lock-out.

The correct response should have been a take-over of the plants by the workers until the contract was settled.

There is a lesson in this for other workers.

For American Crystal Sugar workers this is now a done deal. They have lost; if the AFL-CIO union "leaders" have their way these workers will not only lose out on what they should have won in a new contract; they will end up losing their union--- and their jobs... the ultimate in concessions.

U.S. workers are paying a terrible price for class collaboration trade unionism.

What is required is a return to class struggle trade unionism with a good heavy dose of anti-imperialist education.