Tuesday, June 24, 2008

R.I.P. George Carlin

George Carlin was one of my favorite comedians. I have read many of his obituaries. This is one I like the most.


I think it's the duty of the comedian to find out where
the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.
-- George Carlin

The last vote that George Carlin said he cast in a
presidential race was for George McGovern in 1972.

When Richard Nixon, who Carlin described as a member of
a sub-species of humanity, overwhelmingly defeated
McGovern, the comedian gave up on the political

"Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't
complain about: politicians," he explained in a routine
that challenged all the premises of today's half-a-loaf
reformers. "Everybody complains about politicians.
Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think
these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the
sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another
reality. They come from American parents and American
families, American homes, American schools, American
churches, American businesses and American
universities, and they are elected by American
citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is
what we have to offer. It's what our system produces:
Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant
citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant
leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're
just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish,
ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not
the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks
around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public
sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody:
'The Public Sucks. Fuck Hope.'"

Needless to say, George Carlin was not on message for
2008's "change we can believe in" election season.

His was a darker and more serious take on the crisis --
and the change of consciousness, sweeping in scope and
revolutionary in character, that was required to
address it.

Carlin may have stopped voting in 1972. But America's
most consistently savage social commentator for the
best part of a half century, who has died at age 71,
did not give up on politics.

In recent years, in front of audiences that were not
always liberal, he tore apart the neo-conservative
assault on liberty with a clarity rarely evidenced in
the popular culture.

Recalling George Bush's ranting about how the endless
"war on terror" is a battle for freedom, Carlin echoed
James Madison's thinking with a simple question: "Well,
if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight
fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never
mention that part to us, do they?"

Carlin gave the Christian right -- and the Christian
left -- no quarter. "I'm completely in favor of the
separation of Church and State," Carlin said. "My idea
is that these two institutions screw us up enough on
their own, so both of them together is certain death."

Carlin's take on the Ronald Reagan administration is
the best antidote to the counterfactual romanticization
of the former president -- in which even Barack Obama
has engaged -- remains the single finest assessment of
Reagan and his inner circle. While Carlin did not
complain much about politicians, he made an exception
with regard to the great communicator. Recorded in 1988
at the Park Theater in Union City, New Jersey, and
later released as an album -- What Am I Doing in New
Jersey? -- his savage recollection of the
then-concluding Reagan-Bush years opened with the line:
"I really haven't seen this many people in one place
since they took the group photograph of all the
criminals and lawbreakers in the Ronald Reagan

But there was no nostalgia for past fights, no resting
on laurels, for this topical comedian. He read the
papers, he followed the news, he asked questions -- the
interviews I did with Carlin over the years were more
conversations than traditional Q & A's -- and he turned
it all into a running commentary that focused not so
much on politics as on the ugly intersection of power
and economics.

No one, not Obama, not Hillary Clinton and certainly
not John McCain, caught the zeitgeist of the vanishing
American dream so well as Carlin. "The owners of this
country know the truth: It's called the American dream
because you have to be asleep to believe it."

Not just aware of but steeped in the traditions of
American populism -- more William Jennings Bryan and
Eugene Victor Debs than Bill Clinton or John Kerry --
Carlin preached against the consolidation of wealth and
power with a fire-and-brimstone rage that betrayed a
deep moral sense that could never quite be cloaked with
four-letter words.

"The real owners are the big wealthy business interests
that control things and make all the important
decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an
irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you
the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't.
You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They
own everything. They own all the important land. They
own and control the corporations. They've long since
bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the
statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in
their back pockets. And they own all the big media
companies, so that they control just about all of the
news and information you hear. They've got you by the
balls. They spend billions of dollars every year
lobbying -- lobbying to get what they want. Well, we
know what they want; they want more for themselves and
less for everybody else," ranted the comedian whose
routines were studied in graduate schools.

"But I'll tell you what they don't want," Carlin
continued. "They don't want a population of citizens
capable of critical thinking. They don't want
well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical
thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't
help them. That's against their interests. They don't
want people who are smart enough to sit around the
kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting
fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking
years ago. You know what they want? Obedient workers --
people who are just smart enough to run the machines
and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively
accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the
lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end
of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears
the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're
coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking
retirement money. They want it back, so they can give
it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you
know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all,
sooner or later, because they own this fucking place.
It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not
in the big club."

Carlin did not want Americans to get involved with the

He wanted citizens to get angry enough to remake the

Carlin was a leveler of the old, old school. And no one
who had so public a platform -- as the first host of
NBC's "Saturday Night Live," a regular on broadcast and
cable televisions shows, a best-selling author and a
favorite character actor in films (he was even the
narrator of the American version of the children's show
"Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends") -- did more to
challenge accepted wisdom regarding our political

"Let's suppose we all just materialized on Earth and
there was a bunch of potatoes on the ground, okay?
There's just six of us. Only six humans. We come into a
clearing and there's potatoes on the ground. Now, my
instinct would be, let's everybody get some potatoes.
"Everybody got a potato? Joey didn't get a potato! He's
small, he can't hold as many potatoes. Give Joey some
of your potatoes." "No, these are my potatoes!" That's
the Republicans. "I collected more of them, I got a
bigger pile of potatoes, they're mine. If you want some
of them, you're going to have to give me something."
"But look at Joey, he's only got a couple, they won't
last two days." That's the fuckin' difference! And I'm
more inclined to want to share and even out," he
explained in an interview several years ago with the

"I understand the marketplace, but government is
supposed to be here to redress the inequities of the
marketplace," Carlin continued. "That's one of its
functions. Not just to protect the nation, secure our
security and all that shit. And not just to take care
of great problems that are trans-state problems, that
are national, but also to make sure that the
inequalities of the marketplace are redressed by the
acts of government. That's what welfare was about.
There are people who really just don't have the tools,
for whatever reason. Yes, there are lazy people. Yes,
there are slackers. Yes, there's all of that. But there
are also people who can't cut it, for any given reason,
whether it's racism, or an educational opportunity, or
poverty, or a fuckin' horrible home life, or a history
of a horrible family life going back three generations,
or whatever it is. They're crippled and they can't make
it, and they deserve to rest at the commonweal. That's
where my fuckin' passion lies."

Like the radicals of the early years of the 20th
century, whose politics he knew and respected, Carlin
understood that free-speech fights had to come first.
And always pushed the limit -- happily choosing an
offensive word when a more polite one might have
sufficed. By 1972, the year he won the first of four
Grammys for best comedy album, he had developed his
most famous routine: "Seven Words (You Can't Say on

That summer, at a huge outdoor show in Milwaukee, he
uttered all seven of them in public -- and was promptly
arrested for disturbing the peace.

When a version of the routine was aired in 1973 on
WBAI, the Pacifica Foundation radio station in New
York,. Pacifica received a citation from the FCC.
Pacifica was ordered to pay a fine for violating
federal regulations prohibiting the broadcast of
"obscene" language. The ensuing free-speech fight made
its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rile 5-4
against the First Amendment to the Constitution,
Pacifica and Carlin.

Amusingly, especially to the comedian, a full
transcript of the routine ended up in court documents
associated with the case, F.C.C. v. Pacifica
Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978).

"So my name is a footnote in American legal history,
which I'm perversely kind of proud of," recalled
Carlin. Proud enough that you can find the court
records on the comedian's website: www.georgecarlin.com

There will, of course, be those who dismiss Carlin as a
remnant of the sixties who introduced obscenity to the
public discourse -- just as there will be those who
misread his critique of the American political and
economic systems as little more than verbal nihilism.
In fact, George Carlin was, like the radicals of an
earlier age, an idealist -- and a patriot -- of a
deeper sort than is encountered very often these days.

Carlin explained himself best in one of his last
interviews. "There is a certain amount of righteous
indignation I hold for this culture, because to get
back to the real root of it, to get broader about it,
my opinion that is my species -- and my culture in
America specifically -- have let me down and betrayed
me. I think this species had great, great promise, with
this great upper brain that we have, and I think we
squandered it on God and Mammon. And I think this
culture of ours has such promise, with the promise of
real, true freedom, and then everyone has been shackled
by ownership and possessions and acquisition and status
and power," he said. "And perhaps it's just a human
weakness and an inevitable human story that these
things happen. But there's disillusionment and some
discontent in me about it. I don't consider myself a
cynic. I think of myself as a skeptic and a realist.
But I understand the word 'cynic' has more than one
meaning, and I see how I could be seen as cynical.
'George, you're cynical.' Well, you know, they say if
you scratch a cynic you find a disappointed idealist.
And perhaps the flame still flickers a little, you

Monday, June 23, 2008

This is the last chance

NASA warming scientist: 'This is the last chance' By SETH BORENSTEIN, AP Science Writer

This global warming is just like the war in Iraq. These politicians and big-business people are not going to stop it.

People are going to have to take some appropriate action.

The longer we put off action on this or any other problem the harder it is going to be to solve.

Some of these politicians are just plain stupid.



WASHINGTON - Exactly 20 years after warning America about global warming, a top NASA scientist said the situation has gotten so bad that the world's only hope is drastic action.

James Hansen told Congress on Monday that the world has long passed the "dangerous level" for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels. He said Earth's atmosphere can only stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.

"We're toast if we don't get on a very different path," Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences who is sometimes called the godfather of global warming science, told The Associated Press. "This is the last chance."

Hansen brought global warming home to the public in June 1988 during a Washington heat wave, telling a Senate hearing that global warming was already here. To mark the anniversary, he testified before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming where he was called a prophet, and addressed a luncheon at the National Press Club where he was called a hero by former Sen. Tim Wirth, D-Colo., who headed the 1988 hearing.

To cut emissions, Hansen said coal-fired power plants that don't capture carbon dioxide emissions shouldn't be used in the United States after 2025, and should be eliminated in the rest of the world by 2030. That carbon capture technology is still being developed and not yet cost efficient for power plants.

Burning fossil fuels like coal is the chief cause of man-made greenhouse gases. Hansen said the Earth's atmosphere has got to get back to a level of 350 parts of carbon dioxide per million. Last month, it was 10 percent higher: 386.7 parts per million.

Hansen said he'll testify on behalf of British protesters against new coal-fired power plants. Protesters have chained themselves to gates and equipment at sites of several proposed coal plants in England.

"The thing that I think is most important is to block coal-fired power plants," Hansen told the luncheon. "I'm not yet at the point of chaining myself but we somehow have to draw attention to this."

Frank Maisano, a spokesman for many U.S. utilities, including those trying to build new coal plants, said while Hansen has shown foresight as a scientist, his "stop them all approach is very simplistic" and shows that he is beyond his level of expertise.

The year of Hansen's original testimony was the world's hottest year on record. Since then, 14 years have been hotter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Two decades later, Hansen spent his time on the question of whether it's too late to do anything about it. His answer: There's still time to stop the worst, but not much time.

"We see a tipping point occurring right before our eyes," Hansen told the AP before the luncheon. "The Arctic is the first tipping point and it's occurring exactly the way we said it would."

Hansen, echoing work by other scientists, said that in five to 10 years, the Arctic will be free of sea ice in the summer.

Longtime global warming skeptic Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., citing a recent poll, said in a statement, "Hansen, (former Vice President) Gore and the media have been trumpeting man-made climate doom since the 1980s. But Americans are not buying it."

But Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., committee chairman, said, "Dr. Hansen was right. Twenty years later, we recognize him as a climate prophet."

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Frank Marshall Davis

I received this e-mail from Alan Maki. You may remember Alan sent out an e-mail about "Livin' the Blues" by Frank Marshall Davis. I checked it out from the Duluth Library last week and have been reading it everyday and sharing this with my kids.

I highly recommend and encourage everyone to read these two books. I also ordered two of his poetry books.

Frank Marshall Davis was a journalist and social activist of tremendous courage.

I want to point out that Frank Marshall Davis was not only a voice for civil and human rights; his voice was a solid voice for the rights of all working people.

I can remember back in the 1960's when young people like me were getting involved in trying to end the war in Vietnam. It was so hard to come by solid progressive information. The result was many young people turned to anarchism. Others turned to misguided "New Left" ideas. I see the same thing happening today. We need look no further than the anarchist and Troskyists involved in "planning" the protests around the Republican Party National Convention. They see just one aspect of the problem- the Republicans. There is so much more. These demonstrators should be focusing on the foreclosed homes and the bankers. They should be looking to demonstrate at the St. Paul Ford Plant. They should be looking to demonstrate at the State Capitol for universal health care. Because of misleadership, these demonstrations at the Republican Party National Convention will not be focused on the complete problem. This probably is not coincidental since we have been hearing many of the wealthier Democrats are funding these events around the Republican Party National Convention and it is in their interest not to focus attention to these other issues and the whole picture.

Getting people to read these writings might help them to see things more clearly.

Anyways this is the e-mail I received from Alan Maki.


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

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

Sent: Sunday, June 22, 2008 9:07 PM

To: carld717@aol.com; carl.pope@sierraclub.org; rachleff@macalester.edu; mzweig@notes.cc.sunysb.edu; 'John Beck'; 'John Remington'; 'Robert Borosage'; 'Jim Bryant'; keith@keithellison.org; Kathleen@jackforsenate.org

Cc: 'David Shove'; Shall@kaxe.org; debssoc@sbcglobal.net; lhilty@frontiernet.net; 'William Oldfather'; chris@spottedeagle.org; 'Lydia Howell'; ddepass@startribune.com; mesabapark@hotmail.com; aaronjbrown@yahoo.com; jmyers@duluthnews.com; bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com; moderator@portside.org; gnschmidt@aol.com; info@insightnews.com; 'Randy Furst'; ppheifer@startribune.com

Subject: "The Writings of Frank Marshall Davis; A Voice of the Black Press

I would encourage everyone to read the book: “The Writings of Frank Marshall Davis; A Voice of the Black Press” by Frank Marshall Davis edited with an introduction by John Edgar Tidwell; published by the University of Mississippi Press in 2007.

This, together with, “Livin’ the Blues” by Frank Marshall Davis, should be read by everyone as quickly as possible because right-wing organizations like the John Birch Society are already starting to inject a very racist, undemocratic, vicious, poisonous and pernicious atmosphere into the 2008 elections because Frank Marshall Davis has been identified as Barack Obama’s “mentor.” Whether or not one supports Barack Obama or the ideas of Frank Marshall Davis the right of people to freely write and speak their minds and for freedom of association has to be defended. An open discussion and dialogue concerning the views of Frank Marshall Davis is the only way to honestly resolve this problem in the making.

In my opinion, the views of Frank Marshall Davis offer an important contribution to the democratic process with a clear analysis, often as relevant today as when his words were originally written; Davis’s ideas are a breath of fresh air deserving of dialogue, discussion and debate.

Both books are well worth the purchase price and can be purchased via the Internet at pretty substantial bargains, at least “Livin’ the Blues.” Otherwise, get them from your local public or university library.

If we get enough people around the country reading these books and discussing these ideas, we will be well on our way to organizing a more coherent, unified progressive movement in this country--- something we desperately need.

We should be introducing people to these books at every opportunity in person to person conversations and communications via the Internet: e-mail and blogs. We should be introducing these books to the local “opinion-makers,” politicians at every level, clergy and teachers, instructors and professors--- students and youth, who form a big base of Obama’s network of support should be introduced to Davis’ writings as a way to bring progressive ideas, opinions, analysis, to this public discourse and debate--- which way America, neo-liberalism or progressivism?

This book should be discussed on community television and radio stations.

Unite for Change.

Yours in the struggle,


Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541

E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk


Friday, June 20, 2008

Please don't abandon the Democratic Party in our time of need

Before I get to the post below I want to say something about the loss of a very progressive voice here in Duluth. Richard Gose passed away recently. Tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 10 A.M. his remains will be scattered at Mesaba Cooperative Park near Hibbing. Many of you remember Richard's commitment to social justice and change. Richard was often heard on the radio talk programs in the area taking on the voices of war and reaction. It is with a deep appreciation for his courage and commitment to social activism we mourn his passing. Richard was a very kind, gentle and caring person. I felt I had to say something. Richard was a very good and close friend.

Below is a blog posting from Alan Maki. When I got home this afternoon my mail had at least 25 copies of this posting from friends telling me things like, "Rita you have to read this I feel the same way."

Somehow Alan has this ability to put into writing how many people are feeling and not sure just how to express these ideas on their own.

Just read this and you will see what I mean.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Please don't abandon the Democratic Party in our time of need

A Democratic Party hack called me two days ago with this "request;" then the same issue was brought forward on a progressive list serve/discussion board to which I have been posting my views on Obama and progressive politics:

Alan, please don't abandon the Democratic Party in our time of need.

My response---

Don't abandon the Democratic Party in its time of need?

The fact is the Democratic Party abandoned the working class long ago... when Harry Truman replaced Henry Wallace.

I thought I made it very clear; I work "in the Democratic Party," not FOR the Democratic Party.

I work "in the Democratic Party" for the singular and sole purpose of bringing specific issues and their solutions forward concerning the problems working people are experiencing.

If the Democratic Party, their politicians and party hacks were the least little bit concerned with "being abandoned in time of need," perhaps they should have given this some thought when:

1. They refused to stand up and defend Al Gore's victory over Bush and ABANDONED US to the likes of George Bush--- knowing full well what Bush was about;

2. They should have fought for a minimum wage that is a real living wage based upon the actual cost of living factors and the Democrats should have invited us all to march on Washington to back up this demand;

3. They should have brought forward legislation for single-payer universal health care as the first step towards socialized health care;

4. And, finally, the Democrats should not have abandoned the American people in their full and complete opposition to this dirty war in Iraq.

Just yesterday, the Democratic Party once again abandoned the working class and the American people by groveling at Bush's feet for a "bi-partisan compromise" that includes fully funding this dirty war while attaching extended unemployment compensation benefits, veterans' education benefits, and funding relief for flooding victims; as if the working class thinks it is appropriate to receive a few "bones" as this barbaric carnage and destruction continues in Iraq.

To make matters worse, as far as I am concerned, since I represent some 250,000 casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry who work in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages and without any rights under state or federal labor laws; these same Democrats continue to approve more of the "Compacts" which have led to some 400 (four-hundred) "right-to-work-for-less without-any-rights" Colonies spread out across the entire United States; now employing over two-million workers under these most Draconian conditions... not one single Democratic politician has had the moral or political courage to stand up and say that this wholesale abuse of the human rights of working people must end. The Indian Gaming Industry is nothing but a front for some of the most violent and vicious mobsters--- including the Kansas City Mob. By the way, the Democratic Party and Barack Obama are reaping millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the likes of Frank Fertitta and his "Family," which owns the huge Station Casino empire which is a "management firm" for the Indian Gaming Industry.

Check out the law-firm/lobbyist of choice for the Indian Gaming Industry and the mobsters in this country: Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck and then come back and talk to me about who is abandoning whom. Check out the campaign contributions being made to the Democratic Party coming from this group of law-firm/lobbyists.

I am not ruling out supporting Obama IF he comes on-side on the three core progressive issues and their solutions which I will recapitulate here for you since you seem bent on avoiding and evading their discussion:

1. The war in Iraq. End it on the day of taking office;

2. A minimum wage that is a real living wage as calculated by the United States Department of Labor and its Bureau of Labor Statistics taking into consideration real cost of living factors and legislate a mandatory recalculation every three months based on these cost of living factors;

3. Single payer universal health care based upon the Canadian example using the Canada Health Act as a "template" because this is what Americans say they want more than any of the other fraudulent health care schemes.

After being under attack without let-up since the day Harry Truman assumed the Presidency, the working class is entitled to something in return for votes for Democrats; don't you think?

Corporate lobbyists purchase the votes of Democratic politicians every single day just as they do the Republicans... now, it is time for Democrats to buy the votes of working people... the price is a real bargain: Peace, living wages and health care.

By the way, it is only fair that I declare my own "conflict of interest;" I am the Director of Organizing for the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council so we have a real ax to grind here with the Democrats and Barack Obama, and you better believe we intend to "make some political hay" during this election cycle.

Yours in the struggle,

Alan L. Maki

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Naked OK, but not on Fourth

He said that if the chamber prohibited Moss from participating in the parade, it would be "an interesting commentary on our society that we're willing to tolerate dead bodies through our aggressive foreign policy from the war, but not healthy, naked bodies."

Link: http://www.dailytidings.com/2008/0617/stories/0617_parade_naked.php

June 17, 2008

Naked OK, but not on Fourth

By Michele Mihalovich

Ashland Daily Tidings

Jen Moss, also known as The Naked Lady, has announced in a notice on Craigslist that she plans to lead a group of in-line skaters in the Ashland Fourth of July Parade "wearing only a hemp G-string and blowing a conch shell."

"We'll have hoopers and all kinds of positive peaceful messages and a lot of flesh," Moss, an Ashland resident, said in the online posting.

But the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, which oversees the parade, is not so sure there's anything positive about nudity in a public event that annually draws thousands to downtown.

"We don't feel that someone in the parade who is topless or nearly naked is appropriate for a family audience," said chamber parade chairman James Kidd.

Moss' notoriety began when she pedaled into Ashland in May after checking on the city's nudity laws. She moved from Ojai, Calif., where she said she grew tired of police harassment when she rode her bike with nothing but a hemp G-string and pasties, Moss told The Associated Press.

Ashland Ordinance 10.44.012 requires only that people cover their genitalia when in a city park or in the downtown commercial district, making female nipple coverage unnecessary — everywhere.

Moss, 32, said in May that she celebrated the lack of Ashland nudity laws by stripping off her clothes and doing a handstand in front of the police station.

She has since been seen frequently riding her bike topless through town.

The Ashland chamber learned that Moss' plan for her parade entry differed from her application when chamber members read the Craigslist notice.

Kidd said a letter was sent to Moss on Monday and wouldn't speak specifically about the chamber's position until he was certain that she had received the letter.

Kidd did say that parade rules clearly indicate that entries must be appropriate for a family audience. He also said he understood that the Ashland city ordinance allows women to be topless.

"She's welcome on any other day of the year to do that," he said. "But not on the Fourth of July while in the parade."

Moss said in an e-mail that she did not tell parade officials what she'd be wearing because "it's legal and none of their business."

Moss, who is out of town until Monday, said she hasn't been notified yet as to whether parade officials were going to stop her from participating, but said in the e-mail that if they tried, she would "run around near naked protesting their unconstitutional(ism) and un-Americanism."

Moss wrote, "I shall contact the ACLU and I will sue the (Chamber of) Commerce for discrimination and violating my constitutional rights if they commit such crimes."

City Councilor Eric Navickas said Moss' plan for the parade is a "valid form of freedom of speech."

He said that if the chamber prohibited Moss from participating in the parade, it would be "an interesting commentary on our society that we're willing to tolerate dead bodies through our aggressive foreign policy from the war, but not healthy, naked bodies."

City Administrator Martha Bennett said the city issues permits for the parade and military jets' flyover of the parade route, but has no say in the chamber's policies.

Reach reporter Michele Mihalovich at 492-3456 ext. 226 or mmihalovich@dailytidings.com

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Crooks of Mystic Lake Casino and Democracy

Workers are being fired left and right from the huge Mystic Lake Casino.

The Crooks in charge don't think workers have the right to "blog" so many workers are getting canned.

I say: Boycott the Crooks and their casino empire.

The Crooks think they are like some old Finnish feudal lords.

The Crooks haven't heard about democratic rights.

Maybe if people would stop feeding those rigged slot machines Stanley Crooks might start to treat casino workers with a little dignity and respect.

I wouldn't put a single penny in one of their crooked slot machines.

The Crooks really are a corrupt bunch lacking in respect for the rights of working people.

Come on folks, stop feeding the Crooks and their one arm bandits.

The 60th Anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights is just around the corner and the Crooks think they can fire workers just because they blog.

All power to workers who blog!

It's time to give the Crooks' Director of Marketing a marketing campaign he will remember

Meet Bryan Prettyman... what names they give these Crooks!


Statement by Cynthia McKinney on Barack Obama

The following statement issued by Cynthia McKinney requires widespread distribution and discussion.

John McCain and Barack Obama are already manipulating to squeeze other candidates like McKinney and all others out of the mainstream.

McCain has proposed "Town Hall Forums."

We should all be concerned that voices like McKinney's will be blocked out and silenced.

If the arrest of a guy passing out leaflets at the Obama event at the Xcel Center in St. Paul is any indication, even passing out leaflets to those selectively chosen to participate in these town hall forums will not have access to these ideas; much less the listening and viewing public.

This is what passes for democracy in the United States.

I think every blogger in the United States owes it to democracy to post this and other ideas coming from Cynthia McKinney on their blogs.

Real democracy requires all views be put before the American people.

We know the corporate media moguls will argue they just don't have the space or time for these views. Just like they never have space in their newspapers, on radio or television for our problems.

There is always room and time for advertising for Viagra with Bob Dole talking about how it helps him get it up as if the world turns on whether or not Bob Dole can get a hard.

When will we start to see views from Cynthia McKinney in the mainstream media?

Why hasn't Barack Obama insisted Cynthia McKinney and other candidates receive media coverage?

Barack Obama may have as his mentor Frank Marshall Davis, who was a long-time member of the Communist Party USA; but, Cynthia McKinney has Frank Marshall Davis' vision.


Cynthia McKinney is seeking the Green Party endorsement for President.

Statement by Cynthia McKinney,
Power to the PeopleCandidate for U.S. President,

On the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic Party's Presidential
Candidate in 2008

(statement issued June 9, 2008)

On Saturday, June 7, 2008, Hillary Clinton announced
that her 2008 presidential bid is over, making Barack
Obama the first-ever Black presidential nominee of a
major party in the history of the United States.

Congratulations to Senator Obama for achieving such a

When I was growing up in the U.S. South in the racially
turbulent 1960s, it would have been impossible for a
Black politician to become a viable Presidential
contender. Nothing a Black candidate could have done
or said would have prevented him (or her) from being
excluded on the basis of skin color alone. Many of us
never thought we would see in our lifetime a Black
person with a real possibility of becoming President of
the United States.

The fact that this is now possible is a sign of some
racial progress in this country, more than 40 years
after the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. But it
is also a sign of the deep discontent among the
American people, and particularly among African
Americans, with the corporate-dominated,
business-as-usual politics that has prevailed in
Washington for too many years.

Coming from Barack Obama, the word "change" did not
appear as just another empty campaign slogan. It
galvanized millions of people --mostly young people--to
register to vote and to get active in the political
system. The U.S. political system needs the energy and
vision of all is citizens participating in the
political process. Citizen participation is always the

Senator Obama called for healing the wounds inflicted
on working people and the poor in our country after
eights years of a corrupt and criminal Bush-Cheney
Administration. Just as in November 2006, people full
of an expectation for change, including those the
system has purposefully left out and left behind,
flocked to the polls to vote for Senator Obama. Across
a broad swath of the people of this country, and from
those who are impacted by U.S. foreign policy, there is
a real expectation, a real desire, for change.

While congratulating Senator Obama for a feat well
done, I would also like to bring home the very real
need for change and a few of the issues that must be
addressed for the change needed in this country to be
real. First of all, a few of the more obvious facts:

United for a Fair Economy (UFE) produces studies each
year on the anniversary of the birth of Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. entitled, State of the Dream reports.
UFE has found that on some indices the racial
disparities that exist today are worse than at the time
of the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. For
example, infant mortality, where the overall U.S. world
ranking falls below Cuba, Israel, and Canada. They
also have found that, without a public policy
intervention, it would take over 5,000 years to close
the home ownership gap between blacks and whites in
this country, especially exacerbated because of the
foreclosure crisis disproportionately facing Blacks and
Latinos today. They have found that it would take 581
years, without a public policy intervention, to close
the racial gap in income in this country. UFE has
found unacceptable racial disparities extant on
economic, justice, and security issues. After
analyzing the impact of the Democratic Party's "First
100 Hours" agenda upon taking the Congressional
majority, UFE concluded in its 2007 report that Blacks
vote in the Blue (meaning, they support Democrats in
the voting booth), but live in the Red (they do not get
the public policy results that those votes merit). And
UFE noted that Hurricane Katrina was not even mentioned
at all in the Congressional Democratic majority's 2007
First 100 hours agenda.

United for a Fair Economy is not the only organization
to find such dismal statistics, reflecting life for far
too many in this country. In a study not too long ago,
Dr. David Satcher found that over 83,000 blacks died
unnecessarily, due to racial disparities in access to
health care and because of the disparate treatment
blacks receive after access. A Hull House study found
that the racial disparity in the quality of life of
black Chicagoans and white Chicagoans would take 200
years to be eliminated without a public policy
intervention. The National Urban League in its annual
"State of Black America" publication basically
concludes that the United States has not done enough to
close long-existing and unacceptable racial
disparities. The United Nations Rapporteur for Special
Forms of Racism, Mr. Doudou Diene of Senegal, just left
this country in an unprecedented fact-finding mission
to monitor human rights violations in the United
States. Dr. Jared Ball submitted to Diene on my
behalf, my statement after the Sean Bell police
verdict. The United Nations has already cited its
concern for the treatment of Hurricanes Katrina and
Rita survivors and the extrajudicial killings taking
place across our country, that especially target Black
and Latino males, and especially at the hands of law
enforcement authorities.

I hope it is clear that the desire for change is so
deeply felt because it is deeply needed. Politics,
through public policy, can address all these issues and
more in the favor of the people. We do not have to
accept or tolerate such glaring disparities in our
society. We do not have to accept or tolerate bloated
Pentagon spending, unfair tax cuts, attacks on our
civil liberties, and on workers' rights to unionize.
We don't have to accept or tolerate our children
dropping out of high school, college education
unreachable because tuition is so high, or our country
steeped in debt.

The 21st Century statistics for our country reflect a
country that can still be characterized as Dr. King did
so many years ago: the greatest purveyor of violence
on the planet.

It doesn't have to be that way. And the people know

I have accepted as the platform of the Power to the
People Campaign, the 10-Point Draft Manifesto of the
Reconstruction Movement, a grouping of Black activists
who came together in the aftermath of Hurricanes
Katrina and Rita to advocate for public policy
initiatives that address the plight of Blacks and other
oppressed peoples in this country.

Among its many specific public policy planks, the Draft
Manifesto calls for:

* election integrity, if our vote is to mean anything
at all, all political parties must defend the integrity
of the votes cast by the American people, something
neither of the major parties has done effectively in
the past two Presidential elections;

* funding a massive infrastructure improvement program
that is also a jobs program that greens our economy and
puts people to work, and especially in New Orleans and
the Gulf Coast, Hurricane survivors, treated as
internally displaced persons whose right to vote and
right of return are protected, play a meaningful role
in the rebuilding of their communities;

* recognizing affordable housing as a fundamental human
right, and putting a halt to the senseless destruction
of public housing in New Orleans;

* enacting Reparations for African Americans, so that
the enduring racial disparities which reflect the U.S.
government's failure to address the reality and the
vestiges of slavery and unjust laws enacted can be
ended and recognition of the plight of Black Farmers
whose issues are still not being adequately addressed
by USDA and court-appointed mediators despite a US
government admission of guilt for systematic

* acknowledging COINTELPRO and other government spying
and destabilization programs from the 1960s to today
and disclosing the role of the US government in the
harassment and false imprisonment of political
activists in this country, including Mumia Abu-Jamal,
the San Francisco 8, Leonard Peltier, including
restitution to victims of government abuse and their
families for the suffering they have long endured;

* ending prisons for profit and the "war on drugs,"
which fuels the criminalization of Black and Latino
youth at home and provides cover for U.S. military
intervention in foreign countries, particularly to our
south, which is used to put down all social protest
movements in countries like Mexico, Colombia, Peru,
Ecuador, and elsewhere;

* creating a universal access, single-payer, health
care system and enacting a livable wage, equal pay for
equal work, repealing the Bush tax cuts, and making
corporations and the rich pay their fair share of

* establishing public funding for higher education--no
student should graduate from college or university tens
or hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt;

* ensuring workers' rights by 1) repealing Taft-Hartley
to stop the unjust firing of union organizers, ban
scabbing, and enable workers to exercise their voices
at work and 2) enacting laws for U.S. corporations that
keep labor standards high at home and raise them
abroad, which would require the repeal of NAFTA, CAFTA,
the Caribbean FTA, and the U.S.-Peru FTA;

* justice for immigrant workers, including real
immigration reform that provides amnesty for all
undocumented immigrants;

* creating a Department of Peace that would put forward
projects for peace all over the world, deploying our
diplomats to help resolve conflicts through peaceful
means and overseeing the orderly withdrawal of U.S.
troops from the more than 100 countries around the
world where they are stationed, and an immediate end to
all wars and occupations by U.S. forces, beginning in
Iraq and Afghanistan, and slashing the budget for the

The Power to the People Campaign has visited 24 states
and I believe there is already broad support across our
country for these policy positions. The people deserve
an open and honest debate on these issues and more. I
encourage the Democratic Party and its new presumptive
nominee, Senator Obama, to embrace these important
suggestions for policy initiatives.

About Frank Marshall Davis...

Frank Marshall Davis

Frank Marshall Davis was born on December 31, 1905, in Arkansas City, Kansas. His parents divorced one year after his birth. At the age of seventeen, he moved to Wichita to attend Friends University and soon thereafter he transferred to the school of journalism at Kansas State Agricultural College. He began to write poems as the result of an assignment in college.

In 1927 Davis moved to Chicago, where he wrote articles and short stories for magazines and newspapers. In 1930, he moved to Atlanta to become an editor of a semiweekly paper. Under Davis's editorship, the Atlanta Daily World became the first successful black daily newspaper in America. He continued to write and publish poems, and his poetic work caught the attention of Frances Norton Manning, a bohemian intellectual, who introduced Davis to Norman Forge. Forge's Black Cat Press brought out Davis' first book, Black Man's Verse, in the summer of 1935.

Black Man's Verse was a critical success. The book brought together Davis's interest in jazz and free verse with a condemnation of racial oppression. Sterling A. Brown stated that Davis "at his best is bitterly realistic." One section of the book, "Ebony under Granite," chronicles the lives of various black people buried in a cemetery. For this reason, it has been compared to Edgar Lee Masters's Spoon River Anthology. In 1937, Black Cat Press released Davis's second book, I Am the American Negro. As with his earlier volume, this book presents a strident critique of racism. The title poem, a "docudrama" in free verse and prose, is an attack against "Jim Crow" laws.

Between 1935 and 1947, Davis was Executive Editor for the Associated Negro Press in Chicago. He also started a photography club, worked for numerous political parties, and participated in the League of American Writers. With the encouragement of authors such as Richard Wright and Margaret Walker, Davis completed what many consider to be his finest collection, 47th Street. 47th Street was published in 1948 and chronicles the varied life on Chicago's South Side. Whereas his earlier work focused exclusively on black life, this book presents a "rainbow race" of people, united more by class than color.

In 1948, Davis's vacation to Honolulu, Hawaii, turned into a permanent residence. He stayed on to raise five children, operate a small wholesale paper business, and write a weekly column for the Honolulu Record. Although his work fell slightly out of favor, it was rediscovered during the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s, and in 1978 he published his final volume, Awakening, and Other Poems. Frank Marshall Davis died in 1987. Black Moods: Collected Poems (2002) and Livin' the Blues: Memories of a Black Journalist and Poet (1992) were published posthumously.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Yes, yes, yes; Alan Maki speaks truth to corporate power and corrupt politicians

This is a blog every worker should read. I printed it out and I am going to photocopy this blog posting and spread it all over the place. If we all did this we could build a real working class movement for real change.


From "Thoughts from Podunk"

The voice of a worker.

Link: http://thepodunkblog.blogspot.com/

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ford may review truck plant closure plans, Coleman says

Two news stories, two approaches towards plant closings:

One headline reads:

Ford may review truck plant closure plans, Coleman says

Another headline blazes:

CAW boss disappointed after meeting with GM on plant closure, considers strike, other options

Obviously this closing of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant is far from the “done deal” that many, including the Minnesota AFL-CIO, Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, the UAW leadership and others have proclaimed as an excuse for not uniting working people in a struggle to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and hundreds of jobs.

The time has come for Minnesota DFL State Senator James Metzen to boldly step forward pushing to pass S.F. 607 now!

It is time for the leaders of UAW Local 879 to fully mobilize the retired and active workers, flex their political muscle, and demand pay-back from the MN DFL for many years of loyal support.

The MN DFL has slavishly and shamefully been manipulated by the architects, contractors, bankers and real-estate speculators along with reactionary leaders of the building trades unions who have piggishly put a few jobs for their own members before the rights of autoworkers to continued employment and the welfare of the local community and the economy of our state.

Republican Norm Coleman opportunistically got involved in this issue to try to take the wind out of the sails from the huge Obama rally. However, what Coleman has done is reignite what we all know are the feelings of the vast majority of the people who want to see this plant kept opened.

If Ford won’t keep the plant open now; then, as we have been saying, public ownership is the only solution to saving this plant.

Working people should not be relying on Norm Coleman and the Ford Motor Company to keep this plant operating… this plant can easily and cheaply be re-tooled to produce many other socially necessary and useful products--- from the components for rail to electric or solar or wind generating equipment to making a product making hydro-electric generating plants more productive and efficient or even manufacturing hi-technology systems to bring fresh water to millions of people languishing from drought around the world to pollution control equipment to retrofit a vast assortment of polluting industries... what can be produced in the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant is only limited by our imaginations to turn production in this country towards meeting the needs of people and our living environment rather then seeing production which now takes place with the sole motivation of expanding the bottom line of the Wall Street coupon clippers.

The time has come to take the concept of "people before corporate profits" from mere rhetoric to reality in a way that creates a better life for working people and all of humanity.

Look, let’s be frank; a factory is a factory--- only a fool would destroy this kind of wealth embodied in the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant by taking a wrecking ball to it; workers don’t care what they produce, just so they continue getting a pay-check. Obviously, there are products which could be produced that are more socially useful and beneficial than others--- but, right now, our goal is to save hundreds of union jobs by saving this plant. If Ford doesn’t want to continue production, that is their problem--- our problem is to see that workers continue producing in this plant.

It is time for those like Norm Coleman who talk about “democracy” to bring Ford workers and Minnesotans who have subsidized this operation for over eighty-years into the decision making process. Up until now, politicians like Norm Coleman and Mayor Coleman have maneuvered to prevent working people and tax-payers from having a say in the decision-making process so fundamental to democracy.

It is shameful that Norm Coleman would opportunistically raise expectations about keeping this plant open for his own self-serving political reasons while leaving the final decision on the future of this plant to a bunch of greedy, exploiting parasites and Wall Street coupon clippers operating behind closed doors in Ford’s Detroit corporate boardroom.

It is time to bring the decision-making process over the future of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant to Minnesota--- where it belongs: with Ford workers and tax-payers having the final say.

The response from United States DFL Congresswoman Betty McCollum is equally as shameful as Norm Coleman’s self-serving attempt to use this issue as she belittled Coleman’s efforts instead of offering to join him and by bringing pressure to bear on State Senator Jim Metzen to get S.F. 607 through his Senate Committee on Business, Industry and Jobs which is dominated by the DFL over Republicans--- eleven to seven.

Which brings me to wonder if Coleman is really sincere; why doesn’t he pressure the seven Republicans on this Committee to get behind passing this very straight-forward piece of legislation which brings the decision–making process into Minnesota?

Why DFL Congressman James Oberstar and his staff of displaced iron ore miners has been in hiding every time this issue is brought forward needs to be explained, also; perhaps Peter Makowski would like to explain?

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar’s Iron Range staff member, Jerry Fallos, has been shamefully silent, too.

The Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party state convention is underway in Rochester this weekend… what will we hear from the Minnesota DFL on where it stands on the future of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities assembly Plant?

In the past, James Oberstar has mesmerized convention delegates with his outstanding oratory of “Jobs, Jobs, Jobs;” will Congressman Oberstar have the moral and political courage to open his big mouth in defense of the jobs of Ford workers… which is also a defense of his constituents in the iron ore mines and taconite industry.

It is also time for Canadian and U.S. autoworkers to join hands in searching for solutions to the issues involved in these plant closures... combining the militancy and left-wing thinking of Canadian auto workers with cross-border calls for public ownership of these auto plants and/or nationalizations of the entire industry could prove to be a very powerful force for real change, which someone might want to talk to Barack Obama about; Canadian NDP leader Jack Layton should be up for this discussion.

Let's get former Manitoba NDP Premier Ed Schreyer involved in helping us in finding a solution to saving these auto plants... he managed to save a huge bus plant and hundreds of jobs in Manitoba... we could use his help here in Minnesota. Is anyone curious about how Premier Ed Schreyer, with help from the Communist Party of Canada-Manitoba, saved the bus plant in Winnipeg?

CAW leader Buzz Hargrove might want to consult with Ed Schreyer and the leaders of the CAW in Manitoba, too, in looking for a solution to keeping auto plants open. His sleazy affair with Liberalism hasn't seemed to pay off in saving a single job.

Ford may review truck plant closure plans, Coleman says

By KEVIN DIAZ, Star Tribune

June 6, 2008

WASHINGTON - Sen. Norm Coleman left a meeting with Ford Motor Co. officials Friday expressing optimism that the automaker will review its decision to close the plant in St. Paul that makes the Ranger pickup.

"I'm not raising any false expectations; all I've done is raise the curtain," Coleman told reporters during a conference call from Detroit.

"We'll see if it's fruitful or not."

The Minnesota Republican said he was given no time frame for the review. Ford plans to shutter the plant in September 2009, and Coleman acknowledged that "nothing's been changed, as of right now."

But he said that Ford officials told him that the changing vehicle market responding to $4-a-gallon gasoline is prompting sweeping reviews of operations, including the future of the Ranger, a medium-size pickup that is made exclusively at the plant in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood.

"It was clearly expressed to me that Ford is looking at all aspects of their operations," including the company's plans to close the plant, Coleman said. "That decision is being looked at. It is being reviewed."

Ford spokeswoman Angie Kozleski said Friday that the plan to close the plant has not changed, but that all operations are under review. "We are aggressive in lining up our capacity with demand, and are examining all areas of our business," she said.

Coleman flew to Detroit on Thursday, a day after he wrote Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally, asking that the company review its decision about the truck plant. Coleman noted that Ranger sales have increased this year, as car buyers move away from bigger and heavier sport-utility vehicles and pickups.

Coleman met Friday with Joseph Hinrichs, Ford's vice president for global manufacturing, and Curt Magleby, the company's director of government relations. He said the meeting came at "an opportune time," in light of two recent industry reports praising the Ranger and the plant where it is built.

On Wednesday, a J.D. Power survey ranked the Ranger second in its market segment for quality. On Thursday, a Harbour report ranked the St. Paul plant first in productivity.

"The [1,000] workers of the Ford plant should feel very proud of what they're doing," Coleman said.

Coleman, who has been criticized for not including other Minnesota politicians in his overtures to Ford, said he would talk Friday with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a fellow Republican. He also said that he plans to talk with some Democrats.

"There are internal things that Ford has to do," Coleman said. "The good news is that all options are on the table."

CAW boss disappointed after meeting with GM on plant closure, considers strike, other options

By TOM KRISHER , Associated Press

June 6, 2008

DETROIT - The Canadian Auto Workers could strike or take other action against General Motors Corp. because the company won't budge on plans to close an Ontario pickup truck factory, the union's president said Friday.

Buzz Hargrove said the automaker committed to keeping the Oshawa plant open in a contract agreement on May 15. But earlier this week, GM said it would close the plant in 2009. It employs 2,600 hourly and 300 salaried workers.

After meeting with GM CEO Rick Wagoner on Friday in Detroit, Hargrove said the company wouldn't change its latest stance.

"We're walking away incredibly disappointed," he said. "We still feel betrayed."

GM said it can idle factories if market conditions warrant. In May, U.S. pickup sales fell more than 38 percent, and the company has said the market declined more rapidly than expected last month.

Detroit-based GM announced Tuesday it was closing Oshawa and three other pickup truck and sport utility vehicle factories as $4 per gallon gas has caused sales to tumble.

Union officials described the 90-minute meeting as tense. Hargrove said the CAW would decide its next move after its national convention later this month. Other moves could include arbitration, legal action or filing a complaint with Canada's labor board, he said.

A union blockade of GM's Oshawa offices will continue, union officials said.

Hargrove said market conditions haven't changed in the 2 1/2 weeks since GM agreed to the new three-year deal with the CAW.

"We haven't seen any evidence of that whatsoever," he said, adding that gasoline prices haven't changed since then.

Hargrove said the union has time to decide its next move because the plant isn't scheduled to close until 2009.

"They made a clear-cut commitment on the truck plant" to keep it open and invest in it, he said.

Wagoner told Hargrove and other union officials there was some promise of new products for the Oshawa car plant, Hargrove said. But the CAW president said that wasn't good enough.

Chris Buckley, president of the union local at the truck plant, said GM wrecked any trust it had with the union.

"They fractured the relationship severely," he said.

GM spokesman Stew Low said the factory commitments in the CAW contract are contingent upon board approval, market conditions and making a viable business case.

At the time of negotiations, GM still believed that the slumping pickup market could recover, Low said. Since then, the the trend away from trucks to cars has accelerated, he said.

"We're not in a situation where this is a cyclical type of economic condition where we can wait it out," he said. "We think it's a fundamental shift."

The decision to cease production at the four plants, including Oshawa truck, was made just a few days before Tuesday's announcement and after the bargaining was concluded, he said.

"We absolutely bargained in good faith," Low said.

Oshawa truck was picked for idling because it makes high-end pickups with more expensive options, a segment of the market affected severely by the sales decline, Low said.

Low said GM committed during contract talks to build a second car at the Oshawa car plant, and is looking at a third because the plant is flexible enough to build several models. He would not say what models.

The union's office blockade has forced GM employees to work from their homes, Low said.

GM shares fell 83 cents, or 4.9 percent, to $16.22 Friday after sinking to a 52-week low of $16.20 earlier in the session.

Posted by Alan L. Maki at 9:20 AM

Friday, June 6, 2008

Alan Maki demands suspension of SMSC Gaming Enterprise licenses

Alan Maki, Director of Organizing for the Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council, has requested state officials revoke the gaming licenses for the huge Mystic Lake and Little Six casino operations employing over 5,000 workers because workers are being systematically denied their human and constitutional rights.

Will State officials act or continue to allow the human rights of casino workers to be violated?


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

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

Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 10:37 AM

To: 'rep.tom.rukavina@house.mn'; 'Sen.David Tomassoni'; 'WCS-A@yahoogroups.com'; 'attorney.general@state.mn.us'

Cc: 'darlene.trainor@state.mn.us'; 'rep.carlos.mariani@house.mn'; 'rep.dave.olin@house.mn'; 'Al Juhnke'; 'rep.david.dill@house.mn'; 'rep.frank.hornstein@house.mn'; 'rep.karen.clark@house.mn'; 'rep.loren.solberg@house.mn'; 'rep.maryellen.otremba@house.mn'; 'rep.tom.anzelc@house.mn'; 'rep.tony.sertich@house.mn'; 'gdubovich@usw.org'; 'ddepass@startribune.com'; 'rjkuaw879@yahoo.com'; 'rgettel@uaw.net'; 'nnosal@uaw.net'; 'debssoc@sbcglobal.net'

Subject: Re: Request for immediate suspension of all gaming licenses of SMSC Enterprise (Mystic and Little Six casinos)

Representative Thomas Rukavina and State Senator David Tomassoni;

I am requesting that you and the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety along with the Minnesota Attorney General, commence--- without delay--- an investigation into the illegal and unconstitutional labor practices of SMSC Gaming Enterprise; and, pending a complete investigation, immediately move to suspend the gaming licenses SMSC Enterprise and their Mystic and Little Six casinos for violation of labor laws.

In the process of representing a terminated employee of SMSC Gaming Enterprise which I have previously brought to your attention, it has been found that SMSC Enterprise Policies (specifically Policy # 501) referencing “Personal Conduct & Work Standards” which states in no uncertain terms grounds for termination of employment: “Any union organizing activity.”

I would note that Mr. Crooks, the Tribal Council, along with the Chief Operating Officers and Management of SMSC Gaming are all fully aware, and have been aware for a very long time, that the Indian Gaming Industry falls under the jurisdiction of the NLRA and NLRB and as such, all rights protected under the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, including the Minnesota State Constitution relating to the rights of workers to freely associate and communicate with one another and the general public are being systematically violated.

Particularly troublesome is the fact that the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development continues to base its eligibility for unemployment compensation on whether or not those terminated from the employment of SMSC Gaming Enterprises have violated those sections of the SMSC Gaming Enterprise’s employment policy regarding whether or not they violate these illegal policies of SMSC Gaming Enterprise, that is specifically Policy 501.

I am requesting that you immediately forward this e-mail along to the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety with a request that ALL GAMING ACTIVITY be IMMEDIATELY Suspended on all gaming premises of enterprises owned and/or managed by SMSC Gaming Enterprise and an immediate review of all other Indian Gaming establishments be reviewed immediately and forthwith, and the appropriate suspension of all gaming activity be ordered to cease until employment “Standards and Policies” are brought into line with the NLRA/NLRB directives concerning the rights of those employed in the Indian Gaming Industry in the State of Minnesota.

In the past, you have stated to me that these issues concerning Indian Gaming and labor issues fall to the jurisdiction of federal officials. Let me remind you that when the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development denies workers the unemployment benefits to which they are entitled, based on their interpretation of employment policies of an Employer which are in complete violation of federal and state laws (the Minnesota Constitution includes all federal laws), this is the time at which you and other state legislators need to come forward and insist action be taken that these employers and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development and the Commissioner of Public Safety step forward and vigorously act to protect the rights of working people along with their rights to unemployment compensation.

I also insist that the Minnesota State Legislature direct the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to pay my client the unemployment compensation to which he is entitled and an order be issued from the Minnesota Department of Labor that my client be immediately re-instated to his employment with SMSC Gaming Enterprise.

I will be requesting that the NLRB be brought into this matter if you and state legislators refuse to undertake your responsibilities in this matter.

You have the Case Number and my client’s name which I have not included to protect this worker from further harassment. As I have noted, this employee served in harms way for many months in the United States Armed Forces in Iraq and has an honorable discharge.

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

Alan L. Maki & Associates

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

Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk


Thursday, June 5, 2008

Coleman to make case for Ford plant in St. Paul

Coleman to make case for Ford plant in St. Paul

Comment by Alan Maki on article below as posted on Pioneer Press web site:

Norm Coleman should be applauded for trying to keep the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant open even if it is only a cheap campaign gimmick on his part.

What is really unfortunate is that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party has betrayed the trust of working people and completely abandoned all efforts to save this important plant which creates so many jobs; a plant powered for free by clean, green hydro-electricity.

Tax-payers have subsidized this entire operation to the hilt and if Ford refuses to keep the plant open the whole works should be placed under public ownership with the plant being re-tooled as part of the plan to "green America" as proposed by Obama.

Strange Obama didn't find the ingenuity to mention the need to save this Plant as part of his "green" scheme.

I'm sure the Obama Campaign is just thrilled that Norm Coleman took the wind out of their sails after spending millions turning out a huge crowd at the Excel Center... only to be done in by Republican Norm Coleman's call to keep the Plant open and save the jobs.

Perhaps Norm Coleman should consider adding his weight towards ending this dirty war in Iraq and that money saved could finally be used for the real peace dividends to finance retooling this plant after it is brought under public ownership.



Coleman to make case for Ford plant in St. Paul


By Frederic J. Frommer
Associated Press Writer

Article Last Updated: 06/04/2008 06:09:49 PM CDT

Senator Norm Coleman addresses the Republican Convention after receiving their endorsement Friday afternoon May 30, 2008 at Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, MN.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Norm Coleman announced plans today to travel to Detroit to urge Ford Motor Co. to scrap plans to close the company's St. Paul plant.

The Minnesota Republican also made the appeal in a letter he sent today to Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally. The plant is scheduled to close next year when production of the U.S. version of the Ford Ranger is expected to end.

"The Twin Cities assembly plant has a strong history of producing light, fuel-efficient vehicles that are now in high demand due to the escalating price of gasoline," Coleman wrote, "and I encourage you to consider a long-term mission for this plant that utilizes its contributions to the international automobile market."

Coleman, a former St. Paul mayor, noted that sales of Ranger have increased this year over the same period last year. And he argued that Minnesota is "the perfect environment for the manufacture of light trucks and flex-fuel automobiles," given the ethanol plants and E-85 pumps located in the state.

Ford spokeswoman Angie Kozleski said that the company "welcomes the interest of government officials. We will review the letter when we receive it."

But she noted that company's current plans are to close the plant in the third quarter of next year.

Coleman plans to travel to Detroit for the meeting in the next couple of weeks, said his spokesman, LeRoy Coleman.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Parliament urges Canada to end war resister deportations


Parliament urges Canada to end war resister deportations

On a 137-110 vote, Canadian lawmakers approve the nonbinding motion. It could lead to a last-minute reprieve for a U.S. soldier who deserted in 2006 and has been ordered to leave Canada by June 12.

By Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
1:41 PM PDT, June 3, 2008

OTTAWA -- Parliament passed a motion this afternoon calling on the Canadian government to stop deportation proceedings against foreign war resisters who have sought refuge in this key U.S. ally.

The measure, though nonbinding, could lead the government to offer a last-minute reprieve for Corey Glass, a 25-year-old American soldier who deserted to Canada in 2006 and has been ordered to leave the country by June 12.

Glass and a busload of resisters came to Ottawa to watch the pivotal hearing, and cheered from the gallery when the motion passed, 137-110.

"This is just great," Glass said. "We hope the will of the Canadian people will be carried out. We will see what happens next."

Despite Canada's history as a haven for as many as 50,000 Vietnam War draft resisters, the new conservative government has stood firm with the Bush administration in supporting the Iraq War and the detention of militants at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. But the pending change of U.S. political leadership gives hope to resisters for a change in Canadian policy as well.

"Canada has always been a place that welcomes those who seek peace and freedom," said Bob Rae, a Liberal Party member of Parliament. "We want to see it remain that way."

Glass joined the National Guard in 2002 after assurances he would not see combat. But he was later deployed to Iraq, where he served as a military intelligence officer. He has said that witnessing the killing of civilians by U.S. troops made him want to quit after his first tour of duty.

"What I saw in Iraq convinced me that the war is illegal and immoral. I could not in good conscience continue to take part in it," Glass said last month after Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board denied him refugee status. It ruled that he did not face persecution if he returned to the United States.

Glass, who is still on active duty and considered absent without leave, has been working in a funeral home in Toronto since coming to Canada in August 2006.