Thursday, July 31, 2008

We are fed up!

Alan Maki published this blog today. I don't think it can be said any better.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

By Alan Maki

Exxon/Mobil has biggest quarterly profit ever at $11.68 Billion... Are we fed up with the robbery at the pumps?

I hope this will be circulated far and wide… if you know any of the “Progressives for Obama” pass this on to them for their comment and consideration.

Can a movement be built around “We are fed up!”?

We are fed up! Stop the robbery at the pumps!

If progressives can’t build a grassroots movement around stopping the robbery at the pumps now taking place, I question whether or not “progressives” have the ability to build any kind of grassroots movements in this country anymore.

The outfit called “Progressives for Obama,” from Tom Hayden and Carl Davidson to Katrina vanden Heuvel and Emanuel Wallerstein to Bill Fletcher---and, well, look at this list…


Barbara Ehrenreich

BIll Fletcher, Jr.

Danny Glover

Tom Hayden


Sean Ahern
United Federation of Teachers

Jean Alonso
Dorchester-Roxbury Labor Committee

Fran Ansley
University of Tennessee

David E. Apter
Yale University

Barbara Aguirre

Rosalyn Baxandall
American Studies SUNY Old Westbury

Daniel Bourke
National Lawyer Guild

E. Richard Brown
Public Health, UCLA

Paul Buhle
Writer and Historian

Anna Burger
Secretary-Treasurer, SEIU

Paul Burke
Sacramento Progressive Alliance

Malcolm Burnstein
Progressive Caucus, California Democratic Party

Duane Campbell
Sacramento Progressive Alliance

Jim Campbell
CC-DS, Nat'l Co-chair

Jeff Chang
Author, 'Can't Stop, Won't Stop'

Frank Christopher
Crosskeys Media

Steve Cobble
Progressive Democrats of America

Barry Cohen
NJ Institute of Technology

Carl Davidson

Laurie Davidson

John Delloro
Dolores Huerta Labor Institute

Ariel Dorfman
Chilean Playwright

Peter Dreier
Occidental College

Thorne Dreyer
MDS Austin, Texas

Terry DuBose

Andrea Dupree
Lighthouse Writers Workshop

Carolyn Eisenberg
Hofstra University

Eddie Eitches
President, AFGE Local 476

Daniel Ellsberg
Writer, Military Analyst

Jane English
Plymouth UCC Board of Social Action

Diane Fager
Public School Administrator

Margaret 'Julie' Finch
Progressive Democrats of America

Mickey Flacks
Housing Advocate

Richard Flacks
Santa Barbara County Action Network

Jane Fonda
Writer, Actor

Rev. John C. Forney
Progressive Christians Uniting

Aviva Futorian
Long Term Prisoner Policy Project

Christine George
Researcher and Unversity Teacher

António Geraldo Dias

The Rev. John-Mark Gilhousen
Progressive Democrats of Oregon

Todd Gitlin
Columbia University

Danny Goldberg
Gold Village Entertainment

Jorge Gonzalez
Cuba Journal

Thomas Good
Next Left Notes, Editor

Van Gosse
Franklin & Marshall College

Ellen Gurzinsky
Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues

Paul Haggis

Nancy Hall
City Life/ Vida Urban

David Hamilton
MDS, Austin Texas

Lionel Heredia
Freedom Media

Jim Hightower
Radio Commentator

Adam Hochschild
Author, 'Breaking the Chains'

Sharron Howard
Lafayette Area Peace Coalition

George Hunsinger
Princeton Theological Seminary

David Jacobs
Americans for Democratic Action

Steven Jacobs
Rabbi, Progressive Faith Foundation

Harold Jacobs
SUNY New Paltz

Michael James
Heartland Cafe, 49th Ward Democrats

Zenobia Johnson-Black
Nat'l Org of African-Americans in Housing

Earl Katz
Public Interest Pictures

Marilyn Katz
Founder, Chicagoans Against War on Iraq

Stephen R. Keister M.D.
Physicians for National Health Care

Georgia Kelly
Praxis Peace Institute

Robin D.G. Kelly

Anne Lowry Klonsky
Education Writer, Chicago

Fred Klonsky
President, Park Ridge Education Association, IEA, NEA

Susan Klonsky
Education Writer

Michael Larkin
South Kingstown Peace and Justice Action Group

William Mandel
Journalist and Activist

Amy Manuel
Denton for Barack

Eric Mar
SF Board of Education

Jay Mazur
Working Families Party

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Joe Moore
49th Ward Alderman, Chicago

Ruth Needleman
Labor Studies, University of Indiana

Max Palevsky

Robert Pardun
Writer & Producer

Patricia Paredes
Texas Campus Compact

Frances Fox Piven
Author, 'Poor Peoples Movements,' CUNY

Matilda Phillips
Progressive Democrats North Carolina

Brian Redondo
Asia-American Activist

Christine R Riddiough
Americans for Democratic Action

Constancia Dinky Romilly, RN
Civil Rights Activist

Mark Rudd
Writer, Organizer

Jay Schaffner
Local 802 American Federation of Musicians

Stanley & Betty Sheinbaum

Jennifer Amdur Spitz
Amdur Spitz & Associates

Don St.Clair

Andy Stern
President, SEIU

William Strickland
UMass, Amherst

Dan Swinney
Center for Labor and Community Research

Harry Targ
CC-DS, Purdue University

Jonathan Tasini
National Writers Union

John Trinkl
San Francsico for Democracy

Flo A Weber
Progressive Democrats of Los Angeles

Immanuel Wallerstein
Yale University

Paula Weinstein

Cornel West
Author, 'Race Matters'

Mildred Williamson

Betty Willhoite
Living Wage Advocate

John K Wilson

Tim Wise
Author, Anti-Racism Educator

All of these “Progressives for Obama” continue to say that what we need is “grassroots organizations” and “movement building” to influence and keep pressure on Obama to force him to do what is right by the American people. We know Obama understands and appreciates mass movements because his mentor was Frank Marshall Davis… the journalist, poet and member of the Communist Party USA. Check out this excellent video:

Two books by Frank Marshall Davis are well worth reading; I assume Barack Obama has read them both:

"Livin' the Blues"

"The Writings of Frank Marshall Davis"

Both books are available from your local socialist institution, more commonly known as the Public Library.

Plus, we know Barack Obama was a community organizer; so, we know Barack Obama will not only appreciate, but understand, the power of such a grassroots campaign with people marching and picketing across this country at Exxon/Mobil/Esso gas stations and convenience stores saying: We are fed up! Stop the robbery at the pumps! Tax oil company profits to pay for education, housing and health care! No more wars for oil company profits!

Now, look at this list of “Progressives for Obama.” These people have the resources and the influence to roll out such a grassroots movement for change… if they can’t spark this kind of movement, they sure can’t be believed they are going to influence Obama and the Wall Street coupon clippers backing him. Make no mistake, Barack Obama is the candidate of choice for state monopoly capitalism in this country… his handlers are the foremost proponents of neoliberalism. Progressives will not get such a candidate’s attention to act on our concerns by whispering in his ear.

These people have control over tremendous movement resources… there is no way anyone can tell me that if this most impressive group of writers, newspaper and magazine publishers, union officials, philosophers, historians, ideologists, university professors, radio commentators, and activists from a variety of movements and organizations can’t come together around organizing a nationwide boycott of Exxon/Mobil--- a boycott which would include an educational campaign about the nature of imperialism and exploitation; more important, a grassroots action campaign aimed at demonstrating to Barack Obama and the Democratic Party that we mean business by flexing our collective, united progressive muscle for change as we bring Exxon/Mobil to its knees… if we can’t do this then there is something drastically wrong with “progressivism” in the United States.

Here we have the biggest rip-off in world history taking place, combined with massive seething public anger and we have this body of progressives coming together in support of Barack Obama while acknowledging that Obama is neither progressive or liberal and it will take grassroots organization to convince an Obama Administration to do what is right by the American people instead of going along with his “handlers” and the big-business interests backing him to the hilt and we keep hearing from Carl Davidson and Katrina vanden Heuvel that they are all for “grassroots movement building.”

A war for oil is being fought in Iraq… Exxon/Mobil is poised to reap the spoils of this war… its profits should be taxed to the hilt to pay for socialized health care, or, at least single-payer universal health care.

I don’t think anyone would mind if on each and every sign carried in front of an Exxon/Mobil/Esso gas station convenience store saying, “We are fed up! Join our boycott of Exxon/Mobil/Esso” would be this: “We are fed up! A united grassroots campaign for change initiated by: Progressives for Obama.”

You see, I do not think Tom Hayden and some of these other “progressives” are sincere. I think they have ulterior motives. I think they are intentionally trying to stymie real grassroots campaigns for change even as they repeatedly claim “movement building” as their intent. It would be easy as heck for this impressive group of “Progressives for Obama” to initiate a campaign: We are fed up!

If this headline: Exxon Mobil has biggest profit ever at $11.68B isn’t enough to spark a grassroots movement--- “We are fed up!”--- I don’t know what it will take. Perhaps Carl Davidson or Tom Hayden or Robert Borosage could provide us with an articulate explanation as to why they aren’t rolling out such a campaign. This campaign could be kicked off around the country on Labor Day… it is not like it takes a great deal of thought to pick up some heavy black markers and poster boards and walk in front of Exxon/Mobil/Esso gas stations and convenience stores. It is not like it takes book after book being written to explain to people that there is a robbery at the pumps taking place. I think most Americans will get the drift of what is going on, and why.

Exxon Mobil has biggest profit ever at $11.68B

Jul 31, 8:28 AM (ET)


HOUSTON (AP) - Exxon Mobil reported second-quarter earnings of $11.68 billion Thursday, the biggest quarterly profit ever by any U.S. corporation, but the results fell well short of Wall Street expectations and shares fell in premarket trading.

The world's largest publicly traded oil company said its net income for the April-June period came to $2.22 a share, up from $10.26 billion, or $1.83 a share, a year ago.

Revenue rose 40 percent to $138.1 billion from $98.4 billion in the year-earlier quarter.

Excluding an aftertax charge of $290 million related to an Exxon Valdez court settlement, earnings amounted to $11.97 billion, or $2.27 per share.

Analyst on average expected Exxon Mobil to earn $2.52 a share on revenue of $144 billion, according to a survey by Thomson Financial. The estimates typically exclude one-time items.

Exxon shares fell more than 2 percent, or $1.88, to $82.50 in premarket trading.

Big prices for oil, record 2Q profits at Shell

Jul 31, 7:37 AM (ET)

By TOBY STERLING AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) - Royal Dutch Shell PLC (RDSB) reported a 33 percent jump in second-quarter profits Thursday, its biggest quarter ever at $11.6 billion thanks to high oil prices and the weak dollar.

The company earned $8.67 billion in the same quarter last year.

Shell said its selling price per barrel of oil was around $112, up from $64 a year earlier. That pushed earnings at its main exploration and production arm up 90 percent to $5.88 billion, despite a 1.1 percent fall in production to 3.05 million barrels of oil and equivalents per day.

Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer dismissed calls in Britain for a windfall tax on oil companies.

Britain's BP PLC (BP) reported this week that its profits jumped 28 percent to $9.47 billion in the quarter.

"If we do less investment there will be less supply for consumers" which would drive prices higher, Van der Veer said.

"The world needs energy."

He said the company was reinvesting profits and now expects capital spending of between $35 billion and $36 billion this year, up from the last previous estimate of $24 billion to $25 billion. That figure includes the company's $5.8 billion bid for Canada's Duvernay Oil Corp., launched earlier this month.

He said Shell was benefited from a strong operating performance as well as high energy prices, but said refining margins had weakened.

Refining profits rose 16 percent to $4.54 billion, but Shell said at the current cost of supplies - which strips out the impact of oil prices - refining earnings would have fallen by 63 percent to $1.08 billion, mostly due to weaker margins in the United States.

The company's net sales were $131 billion in the quarter, up from $84.9 billion.

The strong quarterly results had been widely expected and shares rose 1.2 percent to 23.63 euros ($36.77).

Petercam analyst Alexandre Weinberg repeated his "buy" recommendation, saying the company has been undervalued since 2004 when it was forced to restate its proven oil reserves in a major accounting scandal.

"Though the sentiment toward the majors (major oil companies) has weakened in the past weeks due to the oil price decline, we believe that Royal Dutch Shell will continue to generate massive cash flows," he wrote in a note on the earnings.

"The following 18 months should see significant production capacity increase," he said, citing a large project on Sakhalin island in Russia expected to begin production at the end of the year.

"The company still trades at a discount to its peers and we deem this unjustified."

There are some problems ahead for Shell, however.

In Nigeria's oil-rich delta region, the company had nearly 200,000 barrels per day of oil shut down during the quarter due to attacks by armed militias. The militias seek a share of oil profits now controlled by the national government.

Shell has been investing in deep-sea oil platforms in Nigeria to minimize the risk, but in June, its Bonga platform 75 miles from the coast was shut down briefly after an attack there.

"We had always right or wrongly thought that being that far away, an attack would be relatively unlikely," Van der Veer said.

"We will think through how we can better protect our facilities, I don't think we should publicize what we (plan to) do."

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

Monday, July 21, 2008

Priscilla Lord Faris to challenge Al Franken for United States Senate...

I haven't decided if I will support Priscilla Lord Faris or not. I do know I have no intention to vote for Al Franken. Like Alan Maki has been saying, "Al Franken is the epitome of a dumb donkey."

At least Priscilla Lord Faris is intelligent and her father, Miles Lord, must have taught her to have some compassion for people.

The down side for me is that she is mimicking everything Barack Obama says. I won't vote for Obama; I might vote for Priscilla Lord Faris in the DFL primary.

Another downside to Priscilla Lord Faris is that she pumps up Hubert Humphrey, who, in my opinion, was the worst two-faced, opportunist politician to walk the face of the earth. My radar goes up anytime I hear anyone praising Hubert Humphrey. Humphrey authored the Communist Control Act and kissed up to Lyndon Johnson in supporting the war in Vietnam. Humphrey knew how to suck up to the big corporations, too.

I would be more encouraged if she had more in common with Rudy Perpich than Hubert Humphrey.

That these Democrats like Brian Melendez and Andy O'Leary are upset and going postal is good enough for me to vote for Priscilla Lord Faris in the primary. We need to get Al Franken out of there he is nothing but a loser. Franken stands for nothing and doesn't care about anyone.

It's probably too much to hope for that Priscilla Lord Faris will be any better than the rest of these Democrats; but she does seem pretty feisty to me. I think we need to see where she comes down on the issues. I will definitely keep an open mind on this one maybe there is some potential that Priscilla Lord Faris will work for some real change beyond if she is anything like Judge Miles Lord.

I am hoping Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer has the good sense and decency to support Priscilla Lord Faris in the primary.

Whatever, check out the web site Priscilla Lord Faris has up:

A good primary fight where some of the real issues come forward will be well worth it. There should be more primary challenges. This stuff about letting a handful of party big shots choose the candidates is for the birds.

One thing that bothers me to no end is none of these Democrats seem to understand what working people are up against as capitalism is taking a nose dive. Then again we have Communist Party USA leaders sitting in their glass offices in New York who should be out at gas stations carrying signs saying, "We are fed up" and building the fight back. Come to think of it why aren't we all out there carrying signs, picketing and protesting and raising hell in front of Mobil gas stations. Boycott these crooks. There just doesn't seem to be any political movement or action in the streets to match the rising anger over the direction of our country. What's with this? Anyone know?

Check out the post below by Alan Maki. I would say "ditto" for Priscilla Lord Faris. We need to hear some real solutions. I have nothing against millionaires even though I don't know any but geesh if these people are going to run for public office we should at least get something for our votes. We need to put the pressure on and find out where Priscilla Lord Faris stands on socialized health care.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Alan Maki: Obama needs to offer solutions to get working-class votes

Alan Maki: Obama needs to offer solutions to get working-class votes

Alan Maki — 7/17/2008

Dear Editor:

I agree with the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka that "labor must battle racism"; however, I don't think racism is the main obstacle to Obama getting the votes of working people.

Trumka recently eloquently rattled off the list of problems working people are experiencing. The problem Obama is having convincing workers to vote for him is that he has not put forward one single solution to any of the problems Trumka listed: "when it comes to protecting jobs, when it comes to protecting pensions, when it comes to health care, child care, pay equity for women, Social Security, Medicare, seeing to it that people can afford to go to college and buy a home -- and restoring the right to collective bargaining ..."

Until Obama clearly brings forward real solutions to the problems of working people he is going to have a very difficult time getting our votes -- and this has nothing to do with racism.

For some reason, Trumka conveniently made no mention of the need to end this war for oil in Iraq. Why not? We cannot have an economy of guns and butter.

Trumka also failed to note the other twin evil of racism: anti-communism.

Anyone who looks at the conservative and right-wing bloggers supporting John McCain sees that the attacks on Obama are both racist and anti-communist.

These attacks center around Frank Marshall Davis, the deceased black journalist and Communist Party member who Obama says was his "mentor." Apparently Joe McCarthy has risen from the grave and intends to go goose-stepping backward over the dead body of one of this country's most courageous working-class journalists.

Richard Trumka had better concern himself with both racism and anti-communism, pernicious forms of hate and bigotry which feed on each other and spell a doomsday scenario for progressive working-class politics.

Alan L. Maki

Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Warroad, Minn.

This is an outrage!

I received this from Alan Maki this morning. I am outraged! A huge company like CenturyTel is trying to undermine our democracy. Simply appalling!

Alan Maki published his views side by side with Al Gore's opinions. Alan Maki went so far as to provide people with a link to Al Gore's speech; a written copy of Al Gore's speech; and the coverage Al Gore's speech received in the New York Times.

Alan Maki provided a model for how democracy is supposed to function.

The corporate world refuses to allow democracy to flourish.

In many countries death squads trained at the School of the Americas in Georgia simply kill people for expressing their opinions. In other countries they are jailing people. George Bush and the CIA are torturing "prisoners" in an attempt to bring democracy to Iraq.

Who will bring democracy to the U.S.A?

I agree one hundred percent with Alan Maki calling for public ownership of the Internet by placing the Internet under the jurisdiction of a specially created United Nations agency.

Big-business can't be trusted with control over a technology like the Internet. What has happened to Alan Maki and his e-mailing proves this.

I don't know of anyone who has more effectively combined use of the Internet through blogging and e-mailing for organizing working people than Alan Maki. Because Alan Maki has become so effective the powers that be are trying to harass him into silence.

Me kind of thinks they have picked on the wrong person this time because anyone who knows Alan Maki knows he can't be silenced.

By the time this fiasco makes the rounds of the Internet Al Gore is going to wish he had debated Alan Maki.

I would just note one oversight Alan has made here. Al Gore is widely recognized as one of the initial primary boosters that got the Internet up to speed. I wonder if Al Gore intended for big-business to have this kind of power and control to the extent of Internet Service Providers like CenturyTel trying to stamp out democracy?

I would go even further.

This makes me wonder and question Al Gore's motives concerning his role in the issue of global warming.

Gore got extremely wealthier than what his inheritance from Occidental Petroleum provided him with; yes, Gore increased his wealth with investments in Internet companies!

Makes me kind of wonder what is motivating Al Gore on the issue of global warming. Does he really see another gold mine in solving the problem of global warming? Seeing as how he has major financial interests in corporations all set to enrich themselves further through Barack Obama's new "green economy" I would say that Al Gore is one pretty slick salesman. A real shyster and huckster. Al Gore is nothing but one more greedy capitalist trying to make a profit from our suffering.

Read what Alan Maki has to say. Read or listen and watch what Al Gore has to say.

We need a real open discussion on this issue.

If anyone is going to this shindig in the Cities next Sunday where Jim Hightower, Leo Gerard and Ray Waldron are going to be speaking on this issue you might want to read this and ask them some questions because I am sure the event was planned as another Obama booster.

Check out Cynthia McKinney's website along with Cindy Sheehan's website. These are two women really giving these big-business jerks a run for their money.

Cynthia McKinney:

Cindy Sheehan:

Don't forget to check in often on Alan Maki's fantastic blog:

You can call Centurytel toll-free and tell them you resent them harassing Alan Maki the way they do: 800-809-1410

Also, call, write and email your state and federal public officials. Tell them to get big-business out of the Internet.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Democracy and Internet Service Providers (ISP)

July 20, 2008

This is what my Internet Service Provider, CenturyTel, does to me when I am e-mailing.

I was emailing my views on Al Gore’s ideas about using his proposed “carbon tax” to finance Social Security and now they have prohibited me from e-mailing.

By Federal Statute political e-mails with political opinions is not “Spam.”

Just like citizen Tom Paine used to leaflet and post his opinions where ever he could, I distribute my opinions via e-mail.

It is amazing to me that all the big-business gurus like Alan Greenspan boast of how the Internet has “revolutionized” communications for business; but, the corporations— like CenturyTel who now have hijacked control over the Internet are opposed to citizens using e-mail and the Internet to convey their views.

Al Gore is putting forward his views very cleverly, not for the public good; but to bolster the profits of the businesses he is heavily invested in.

No wonder Al Gore doesn’t want to talk about taxing “wealth.” And, he hides this refusal to discuss wealth behind cute little ditties like, “We should tax what we burn; not what we earn.”

The corporate world, including the CEO’s of my Internet Service Provider— CenturyTel— apparently like Al Gore’s message better than mine… so, since they have the “power and control” they exercise this “power and control” to silence me when I bring forward alternative views, like those I posted here yesterday; views in opposition to the capitalists’ neoliberal agenda.

What is really the epitome of hypocrisy is these corporations have the unmitigated gall to turn around and call this “democracy.”

Al Gore has a multi-million dollar campaign promoting his views on global warming and his so-called “solutions.”

Those of us with opinions contrary to the reactionary, neoliberal views Gore is trying to pass as “progressive” have a right to respond to his views in a way that we become part of the decision-making process… this is what democracy is really supposed to be all about.

There is a very simple solution to corporate and government suppression of political views which I and many, many others in the United States— the world’s greatest “bastion of democracy”— are being subjected to.

The solution is very simple…

Take all aspects of the Internet out of corporate hands.

The Internet should be managed, run and operated on a not-for-profit basis; the only goal and objective being to make this great marvel of the new, modern, hi-tech world available for all people to freely and democratically communicate their views, just as Al Gore does now because he can afford to buy his way into this “public square” and dominate the battle of ideas in our modern world.

Working people create all wealth. The wealth created by workers has created the Internet. It is simply wrong that national governments and local public bodies have abandoned their responsibilities to the public to insure that big-money does not create the rules of usage for the Internet through their “terms” of use which not only do not take into consideration the democratic rights of working people to be full participants in society to the full extent technology has the potential to provide; worse yet, these elected public officials and those working for government agencies… in the name of “hands off business” have enabled these corporations to push working people right out of the decision making process— again.

The bosses have never liked working people to express their views and opinions— especially when those views and opinions run contrary to the corporate drive for maximum profits.

As such…

The Internet should become the first truly fully inter-nationalized publicly owned venture, jointly owned by all of humanity under the direction and control of a United Nations’ body specifically created for this purpose.

These “Internet Service Providers” are making out like bandits as they rip us off and then don’t even let us use the full potential of the service when we express views not to the liking of big-business which is seeking to profit off of ending the very global warming they created in the first place.

Here is the response I received from my Internet Service Provider— CenturyTel— a huge, mega-communication corporation, which has denied me the right to use, a service I am over-charged for.

For many days I have been denied the right to use MicroSoft Outlook to convey my opinions and response to Al Gore stated:

CenturyTel - Contact Request Processed
var s_pageName=”Contact Request Processed”;
var s_server=””;

var s_account=”centelcom”;

We’re committed to delivering quality service.

Thank you for contacting CenturyTel Customer Service!

We appreciate the opportunity to answer your questions, because it is our goal to provide the highest quality service available. We will do our best to respond to your e-mail within 2 business days. Please feel free to contact us again if you have
additional questions or comments.

The information submitted…

Area: High-Speed Internet

Topic: Help Desk

I cannot use my Microsoft Outlook to send out. This problem happened before after I sent out a large number of e-mails.I use my e-mail for Democratic Party related political activities and this is my right. Politically related materials are not spam as defined by federal statutes.I expect you to get my service that I pay your company a very good price for, to get my service back up and running properly.

Centurytel is making a corporate decision to interfere with my right to advocate my views.

Posted by alanmaki

A dangerous threat to Social Security linked to proposed “carbon tax” from Al Gore
July 20, 2008

Al Gore made an important speech on “carbon taxes;” click on the link to hear his speech or read it below:

Please distribute this widely to all your e-mail lists and list serves so Al Gore’s speech gets the kind of discussion these ideas deserve in a democracy.

My thinking on Al Gore’s speech:

The time has come to start talking about the politics and economics of livelihood… working class politics.

Al Gore has proposed that the solution for keeping Social Security solvent is to fund it with a “carbon tax.”

Think about this: The idea behind the “carbon tax” is to end pollution… as carbon emissions decline, so will revenue from the “carbon tax.”

Social Security should continue to be funded from the sources that are taxed right now… any change jeopardizes the very existence of Social Security.

If anything, Social Security taxes on the employers needs to be increased.

This is a very regressive and reactionary idea aimed at destroying the best progressive social program we have in this country— Social Security.

The source of funding for Social Security is just where it belongs right now… the only reform in funding required is to drastically increase the burden on employers so Social Security will provide all those in retirement a real living income; and, retirement age should be reduced to 50 so that the millions of unemployed will have jobs so they continue to build-up the Social Security fund… unemployed people contribute nothing towards Social Security; apparently mercury emissions have retarded thinking among some politicians.

There is nothing wrong with Social Security that full-employment wouldn’t solve.

Social Security should derive its funding from the point nearest where wealth is being created; not where wealth is being destroyed.

A “carbon tax” should be placed on each and every corporation and industry, including a very heavy carbon tax on any industry using coal, gas and oil; this tax should be used to finance the creation of new clean, green industries being proposed by Barack Obama.

In fact, if these industries were threatened with nationalization and public ownership we would see more rapid compliance than with the threat of taxes or fines.

What is really bizarre is that Al Gore and Barack Obama have been completely silent when it comes to what kind of concrete action is required to save closing auto plants like the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant… ironically, this present clean, green manufacturing operation would pay no Social Security taxes at all under the Gore proposal supported by Barack Obama. Obama supports this hare-brained scheme like that advocated by Al Gore to finance Social Security; but he has not raised his voice to save the jobs of two-thousand auto-workers, who, with their employer are paying into Social Security in a very big way… Do Al Gore and Barack Obama support the capitalist scheme to close the St. Paul Ford Plant Twin Cities Assembly Plant, place a hydro dam powering the operation into the hands of a private foreign corporation, and shipping these two-thousand jobs to Thailand… this is really a boon to Social Security, isn’t it?

At some point there has to be some accountability from politicians like Al Gore and Barack Obama— this is not a one-way street; in return for votes, politicians have to be taught to listen respectfully to working people with an eye towards solving problems in favor of working people and their standard of living and livelihoods.

How much will carbon emissions increase when the Ford Motor Company brings its new Ford Ranger plant in Thailand into full production once they begin shipping to North America? How much will the Ford Motor Company contribute towards the U.S. Social Security fund from “carbon taxes” on its operations in Thailand… The same amount they will pay into Social Security in Thailand— absolutely nothing. Al Gore and Barack Obama have not considered this.

Why not nationalize any corporation that doesn’t meet Gore’s proposed guidelines?

Alan Greenspan is laughing like heck over all the dates set way into the future at which point these industries will have to come into compliance with carbon emission and pollution standards… Greenspan figures by these far distant dates established for compliance by these dirty industries, they will have been replaced with new technologies paid for compliments of U.S. tax-payers and the impoverishment of the working class in North America.

We could force 100% compliance with carbon emission and pollution standards in five years, instead of fifty, if these industries were threatened with nationalization for lack of compliance with clean air and water standards.

Again, transferring funding for Social Security from its present base of “wealth” to deriving revenue from a “carbon tax” is not the way to go.

Barack Obama and Al Gore propose that tax-payers fund this “new green economy” creating an entirely new industry and subsidizing corporations to the hilt… to the tune of trillions upon trillions of dollars; what tax-payers finance, tax-payers must own… including a share of the profits the equivalent of tax-payer funding. We must introduce this new kind of thinking into the political process right at the initial beginning stage.

Modern state-monopoly capitalism has concocted these neoliberal schemes to confuse working people while standards of living are driven down through such schemes; before workers know what has hit them the damage is done. Workers create all wealth… the working class’ standard of living must rise along with this “new clean, green industry.”

The time has come for working people to assert themselves into the decision making process in a very vocal and decisive manner. Keeping quiet until after Election Day is not the answer. Speak up now.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

Below is the New York Times coverage of Al Gore’s speech which is followed by the speech itself.

New York Times coverage of Al Gore’s speech:


Gore Calls for Carbon-Free Electric Power


Published: July 18, 2008

WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Al Gore said on Thursday that Americans must abandon electricity generated by fossil fuels within a decade and rely on the sun, the winds and other environmentally friendly sources of power, or risk losing their national security as well as their creature comforts.

Al Gore spoke about energy policy in Washington on Thursday.

“The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk,” Mr. Gore said in a speech to an energy conference here. “The future of human civilization is at stake.”

Mr. Gore called for the kind of concerted national effort that enabled Americans to walk on the moon 39 years ago this month, just eight years after President John F. Kennedy famously embraced that goal. He said the goal of producing all of the nation’s electricity from “renewable energy and truly clean, carbon-free sources” within 10 years is not some farfetched vision, although he said it would require fundamental changes in political thinking and personal expectations.

“This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative,” Mr. Gore said in his remarks at the conference. “It represents a challenge to all Americans, in every walk of life — to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.”

Although Mr. Gore has made global warming and energy conservation his signature issues, winning a Nobel Prize for his efforts, his speech on Thursday argued that the reasons for renouncing fossil fuels go far beyond concern for the climate.

In it, he cited military-intelligence studies warning of “dangerous national security implications” tied to climate change, including the possibility of “hundreds of millions of climate refugees” causing instability around the world, and said the United States is dangerously vulnerable because of its reliance on foreign oil.

Doubtless aware that his remarks would be met with skepticism, or even ridicule, in some quarters, Mr. Gore insisted in his speech that the goal of carbon-free power is not only achievable but practical, and that businesses would embrace it once they saw that it made fundamental economic sense.

Mr. Gore said the most important policy change in the transformation would be taxes on carbon dioxide production, with an accompanying reduction in payroll taxes. “We should tax what we burn, not what we earn,” he said.

The former vice president said in his speech that he could not recall a worse confluence of problems facing the country: higher gasoline prices, jobs being “outsourced,” the home mortgage industry in turmoil. “Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse,” he said.

By calling for new political leadership and speaking disdainfully of “defenders of the status quo,” Mr. Gore was hurling a dart at the man who defeated him for the presidency in 2000, George W. Bush. Critics of Mr. Bush say that his policies are too often colored by his background in the oil business.

A crucial shortcoming in the country’s political leadership is a failure to view interlocking problems as basically one problem that is “deeply ironic in its simplicity,” Mr. Gore said, namely “our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels.”

“We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet,” Mr. Gore said. “Every bit of that’s got to change.”

And it can change, he said, citing some scientists’ estimates that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth in 40 minutes to meet the world’s energy needs for a year, and that the winds that blow across the Midwest every day could meet the country’s daily electricity needs.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the presumptive Democratic candidate for president, immediately praised Mr. Gore’s speech. “For decades, Al Gore has challenged the skeptics in Washington on climate change and awakened the conscience of a nation to the urgency of this threat,” Mr. Obama said.

A shift away from fossil fuels would make the United States a leader instead of a sometime rebel on energy and conservation issues worldwide, Mr. Gore said. Nor, he said, would the hard work of people who toil on oil rigs and deep in the earth be for naught. “We should guarantee good jobs in the fresh air and sunshine for any coal miner displaced by impacts on the coal industry,” he said by way of example. “Every single one of them.”

“Of course, there are those who will tell us that this can’t be done,” he conceded. “But even those who reap the profits of the carbon age have to recognize the inevitability of its demise. As one OPEC oil minister observed, ‘The Stone Age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones.’ ”

This is Al Gore’s actual speech

July 17, 2008

A Generational Challenge to Repower America (as prepared)

D.A.R. Constitution Hall

Washington, D.C.

Ladies and gentlemen:

There are times in the history of our nation when our very way of life depends upon dispelling illusions and awakening to the challenge of a present danger. In such moments, we are called upon to move quickly and boldly to shake off complacency, throw aside old habits and rise, clear-eyed and alert, to the necessity of big changes. Those who, for whatever reason, refuse to do their part must either be persuaded to join the effort or asked to step aside. This is such a moment. The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk. And even more – if more should be required – the future of human civilization is at stake.

I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse – much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland’s largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees destabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an “energy tsunami” that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil. Meanwhile, the war in Iraq continues, and now the war in Afghanistan appears to be getting worse.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn’t it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

Like a lot of people, it seems to me that all these problems are bigger than any of the solutions that have thus far been proposed for them, and that’s been worrying me.

I’m convinced that one reason we’ve seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately – without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective – they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges – the economic, environmental and national security crises.

We’re borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change.

But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we’re holding the answer to all of them right in our hand.

The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels.

In my search for genuinely effective answers to the climate crisis, I have held a series of “solutions summits” with engineers, scientists, and CEOs. In those discussions, one thing has become abundantly clear: when you connect the dots, it turns out that the real solutions to the climate crisis are the very same measures needed to renew our economy and escape the trap of ever-rising energy prices. Moreover, they are also the very same solutions we need to guarantee our national security without having to go to war in the Persian Gulf.

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don’t cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

The quickest, cheapest and best way to start using all this renewable energy is in the production of electricity. In fact, we can start right now using solar power, wind power and geothermal power to make electricity for our homes and businesses.

But to make this exciting potential a reality, and truly solve our nation’s problems, we need a new start.

That’s why I’m proposing today a strategic initiative designed to free us from the crises that are holding us down and to regain control of our own destiny. It’s not the only thing we need to do. But this strategic challenge is the lynchpin of a bold new strategy needed to re-power America.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans – in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen.

A few years ago, it would not have been possible to issue such a challenge. But here’s what’s changed: the sharp cost reductions now beginning to take place in solar, wind, and geothermal power – coupled with the recent dramatic price increases for oil and coal – have radically changed the economics of energy.

When I first went to Congress 32 years ago, I listened to experts testify that if oil ever got to $35 a barrel, then renewable sources of energy would become competitive. Well, today, the price of oil is over $135 per barrel. And sure enough, billions of dollars of new investment are flowing into the development of concentrated solar thermal, photovoltaics, windmills, geothermal plants, and a variety of ingenious new ways to improve our efficiency and conserve presently wasted energy.

And as the demand for renewable energy grows, the costs will continue to fall. Let me give you one revealing example: the price of the specialized silicon used to make solar cells was recently as high as $300 per kilogram. But the newest contracts have prices as low as $50 a kilogram.

You know, the same thing happened with computer chips – also made out of silicon. The price paid for the same performance came down by 50 percent every 18 months – year after year, and that’s what’s happened for 40 years in a row.

To those who argue that we do not yet have the technology to accomplish these results with renewable energy: I ask them to come with me to meet the entrepreneurs who will drive this revolution. I’ve seen what they are doing and I have no doubt that we can meet this challenge.

To those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world. When demand for oil and coal increases, their price goes up. When demand for solar cells increases, the price often comes down.

When we send money to foreign countries to buy nearly 70 percent of the oil we use every day, they build new skyscrapers and we lose jobs. When we spend that money building solar arrays and windmills, we build competitive industries and gain jobs here at home.

Of course there are those who will tell us this can’t be done. Some of the voices we hear are the defenders of the status quo – the ones with a vested interest in perpetuating the current system, no matter how high a price the rest of us will have to pay. But even those who reap the profits of the carbon age have to recognize the inevitability of its demise. As one OPEC oil minister observed, “The Stone Age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones.”

To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider what the world’s scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don’t act in 10 years. The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis. When the use of oil and coal goes up, pollution goes up. When the use of solar, wind and geothermal increases, pollution comes down.

To those who say the challenge is not politically viable: I suggest they go before the American people and try to defend the status quo. Then bear witness to the people’s appetite for change.

I for one do not believe our country can withstand 10 more years of the status quo. Our families cannot stand 10 more years of gas price increases. Our workers cannot stand 10 more years of job losses and outsourcing of factories. Our economy cannot stand 10 more years of sending $2 billion every 24 hours to foreign countries for oil. And our soldiers and their families cannot take another 10 years of repeated troop deployments to dangerous regions that just happen to have large oil supplies.

What could we do instead for the next 10 years? What should we do during the next 10 years? Some of our greatest accomplishments as a nation have resulted from commitments to reach a goal that fell well beyond the next election: the Marshall Plan, Social Security, the interstate highway system. But a political promise to do something

40 years from now is universally ignored because everyone knows that it’s meaningless. Ten years is about the maximum time that we as a nation can hold a steady aim and hit our target.

When President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely in 10 years, many people doubted we could accomplish that goal. But 8 years and 2 months later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon.

To be sure, reaching the goal of 100 percent renewable and truly clean electricity within 10 years will require us to overcome many obstacles. At present, for example, we do not have a unified national grid that is sufficiently advanced to link the areas where the sun shines and the wind blows to the cities in the East and the West that need the electricity. Our national electric grid is critical infrastructure, as vital to the health and security of our economy as our highways and telecommunication networks. Today, our grids are antiquated, fragile, and vulnerable to cascading failure. Power outages and defects in the current grid system cost US businesses more than $120 billion dollars a year. It has to be upgraded anyway.

We could further increase the value and efficiency of a Unified National Grid by helping our struggling auto giants switch to the manufacture of plug-in electric cars. An electric vehicle fleet would sharply reduce the cost of driving a car, reduce pollution, and increase the flexibility of our electricity grid.

At the same time, of course, we need to greatly improve our commitment to efficiency and conservation. That’s the best investment we can make.

America’s transition to renewable energy sources must also include adequate provisions to assist those Americans who would unfairly face hardship. For example, we must recognize those who have toiled in dangerous conditions to bring us our present energy supply. We should guarantee good jobs in the fresh air and sunshine for any coal miner displaced by impacts on the coal industry. Every single one of them.

Of course, we could and should speed up this transition by insisting that the price of carbon-based energy include the costs of the environmental damage it causes. I have long supported a sharp reduction in payroll taxes with the difference made up in CO2 taxes. We should tax what we burn, not what we earn. This is the single most important policy change we can make.

In order to foster international cooperation, it is also essential that the United States rejoin the global community and lead efforts to secure an international treaty at Copenhagen in December of next year that includes a cap on CO2 emissions and a global partnership that recognizes the necessity of addressing the threats of extreme poverty and disease as part of the world’s agenda for solving the climate crisis.

Of course the greatest obstacle to meeting the challenge of 100 percent renewable electricity in 10 years may be the deep dysfunction of our politics and our self-governing system as it exists today. In recent years, our politics has tended toward incremental proposals made up of small policies designed to avoid offending special interests, alternating with occasional baby steps in the right direction. Our democracy has become sclerotic at a time when these crises require boldness.

It is only a truly dysfunctional system that would buy into the perverse logic that the short-term answer to high gasoline prices is drilling for more oil ten years from now.

Am I the only one who finds it strange that our government so often adopts a so-called solution that has absolutely nothing to do with the problem it is supposed to address? When people rightly complain about higher gasoline prices, we propose to give more money to the oil companies and pretend that they’re going to bring gasoline prices down. It will do nothing of the sort, and everyone knows it. If we keep going back to the same policies that have never ever worked in the past and have served only to produce the highest gasoline prices in history alongside the greatest oil company profits in history, nobody should be surprised if we get the same result over and over again. But the Congress may be poised to move in that direction anyway because some of them are being stampeded by lobbyists for special interests that know how to make the system work for them instead of the American people.

If you want to know the truth about gasoline prices, here it is: the exploding demand for oil, especially in places like China, is overwhelming the rate of new discoveries by so much that oil prices are almost certain to continue upward over time no matter what the oil companies promise. And politicians cannot bring gasoline prices down in the short term.

However, there actually is one extremely effective way to bring the costs of driving a car way down within a few short years. The way to bring gas prices down is to end our dependence on oil and use the renewable sources that can give us the equivalent of $1 per gallon gasoline.

Many Americans have begun to wonder whether or not we’ve simply lost our appetite for bold policy solutions. And folks who claim to know how our system works these days have told us we might as well forget about our political system doing anything bold, especially if it is contrary to the wishes of special interests. And I’ve got to admit, that sure seems to be the way things have been going. But I’ve begun to hear different voices in this country from people who are not only tired of baby steps and special interest politics, but are hungry for a new, different and bold approach.

We are on the eve of a presidential election. We are in the midst of an international climate treaty process that will conclude its work before the end of the first year of the new president’s term. It is a great error to say that the United States must wait for others to join us in this matter. In fact, we must move first, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because moving first is in our own national interest.

So I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge – for America to be running on 100 percent zero-carbon electricity in 10 years. It’s time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now.

This is a generational moment. A moment when we decide our own path and our collective fate. I’m asking you – each of you – to join me and build this future. Please join the WE campaign at We need you. And we need you now. We’re committed to changing not just light bulbs, but laws. And laws will only change with leadership.

On July 16, 1969, the United States of America was finally ready to meet President Kennedy’s challenge of landing Americans on the moon. I will never forget standing beside my father a few miles from the launch site, waiting for the giant Saturn 5 rocket to lift Apollo 11 into the sky. I was a young man, 21 years old, who had graduated from college a month before and was enlisting in the United States Army three weeks later.

I will never forget the inspiration of those minutes. The power and the vibration of the giant rocket’s engines shook my entire body. As I watched the rocket rise, slowly at first and then with great speed, the sound was deafening. We craned our necks to follow its path until we were looking straight up into the air. And then four days later, I watched along with hundreds of millions of others around the world as Neil Armstrong took one small step to the surface of the moon and changed the history of the human race.

We must now lift our nation to reach another goal that will change history. Our entire civilization depends upon us now embarking on a new journey of exploration and discovery. Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within 10 years. Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.

The Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens said in a statement that Mr. Gore’s plan would still not address “the stranglehold that foreign oil has on our country.” Mr. Pickens has called for a blend of government leadership and private enterprise to harness the full potential of wind power to help break what he calls “our deadly addiction to foreign oil.”
Posted by Alan L. Maki at 9:32 AM Links to this post

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

British soldiers accused of sickening sex assault on Iraqi boy, 14

I just got home from an agonizing day at work. Turned on my computer and I have this from Alan Maki.

As a mother I find this so heartbreaking and heart wrenching. I am sitting here in front of my computer balling my eyes out.

Disgusting degenerates; complete madness. I don't know why the outrage is not pouring over into the streets making this country unmanageable.

What does this say about the people in power responsible for this war in Iraq?

If this doesn't demonstrate the perversion of this criminal war and those carrying it out I don't know what does.

When will the American people stand up and say: E-N-O-U-G-H !!!

I can't type anymore.

My God what kind of monsters are doing this with our tax money and our support?


Notice this kid's terrible “crime.”

This should be distributed all over the place.


British soldiers accused of sickening sex assault on Iraqi boy, 14
Just days after the MoD has to pay out millions to the father of a man UK soldiers beat to death, fresh claims of abuse emerge

By Andrew Johnson
Sunday, 13 July 2008

British soldiers forced a boy of 14 to carry out an act of oral sex on a fellow male prisoner in Iraq, according to shocking new allegations made about the behaviour of British troops.

The Ministry of Defence confirmed yesterday that the Royal Military Police (RMP) have launched an investigation. If the allegations are proved, it would mark a sordid low in the behaviour of British troops in Iraq, and damage further the reputation of Britain in the Middle East.

The victim, now 19, whom The Independent on Sunday has agreed to identify only as Hassan, says he was rounded up with a friend while trying to steal milk cartons from a food distribution centre. He was whipped, beaten and forced to strip naked.

"They made us sit on each other's laps," he said. "They were enjoying humiliating and abusing us, I wished I was dead at this moment. Then they made me sit with Tariq... where I was forced to put Tariq's penis in my mouth. The other two were made to do the same."

Court action is ongoing over a series of allegations surrounding the British base Camp Breadbasket and incidents that took place there in May 2003. There have been allegations of simulated sexual abuse of Iraqis by British troops, but this, if true, would be the first example of actual sexual abuse.

Soldiers rounding up looters as part of an operation codenamed Ali Baba took photographs of prisoners suspended in nets from forklift trucks and others forced to strip naked and adopt simulated sex positions.

The photographs caused outrage around the world when they were published, after a British soldier took them to be developed at a high-street shop. An RMP investigation led to just four soldiers being jailed for up to two years in 2005. A number of the alleged victims, including Hassan, are suing the MoD for damages.

The MoD last Thursday reiterated its official line that abuse was isolated to just a few rogue soldiers, after agreeing to pay nearly £3m compensation to the father of Baha Mousa, 26, a hotel receptionist beaten to death by British soldiers while in custody in a separate incident in September 2003, and nine other Iraqis beaten at the same time.

Mazin Younis, of the Iraqi League, who has travelled in Basra collecting witness statements of allegations of abuse, says he now has "more than 80" cases involving allegations against British troops.

"Every single time I uncover a personal story of torture and humiliation in Iraq, I think to myself that I have seen the worst there is," Mr Younis added. "Then I hear the next story.

"Hassan shook with emotion and humiliation as he described to me the treatment he suffered at the hands of British soldiers five years ago. It had taken constant prompting and repeated reminders about the importance of detail before Hassan felt brave enough to describe how he was forced to engage in oral sex with his friend Tariq while their British captors laughed raucously and took photographs."

Such is the culture in Iraq that Hassan fears for his life if identified. It has taken him four years to find the courage to talk about the incident, Mr Younis said. He fled Basra after the incident, giving up his education and staying indoors for fear that someone may recognise him.

Mr Younis added: "There is, of course, no case as bad as a killing or murder. But the fact that this is sexual ... It can lead to suicide because it is so humiliating. Hassan fled Basra because he couldn't face his friends, the people who had seen this.

"He left education and is now unemployed. He has been very, very traumatised. It is the kind of thing that is very difficult to admit to or talk about. No one expected the British to be worse than Saddam Hussein."

Mr Younis said the more than 80 allegations of abuse will form the basis of a series of actions at the European Court of Human Rights, as many of them took place outside British bases and are therefore outside British jurisdiction.

Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, has represented many of the Iraqis who allege abuse at the hands of British troops, including Baha Mousa's family and Hassan. "It should be a national scandal that representatives of the British state could have engaged in such appalling behaviour," he said. "I call on the British government to immediately set up an inquiry into this incident."

The Labour MP Harry Cohen also joined calls for an investigation. "We need to have a full inquiry into how we keep prisoners. It obviously needs a complete overhaul," he said.

An MoD spokesman said yesterday: "We can confirm that a new allegation has been received in relation to the alleged abuse of a 14-year-old boy by British soldiers at Camp Breadbasket in May 2003.

"The allegation has been referred to the Royal Military Police, and efforts are in the process of being made to contact the alleged victim as soon as possible.

"All but a handful of the more than 120,000 British troops who have served in Iraq have conducted themselves to the highest standards of behaviour, displaying integrity and selfless commitment. All allegations of abuse are investigated thoroughly and – where proven – those responsible are punished and the abused are compensated.

"The Army has done a great deal since the cases of abuse related to the death of Baha Mousa in 2003. Procedures and training have been improved. But we are not complacent and continue to demand the very highest standards of conduct from all our troops."

A case to answer

Baha Mousa

Beaten to death in September 2003. Nine others also mistreated. MoD agreed to £2.83m compensation payout last week and will hold a full inquiry into the abuse.

Camp Breadbasket

Prisoners beaten, forced to strip and simulate sex in May 2003. Subject of damages claim by 11 of the victims.

Abu Naji

Twenty Iraqi civilians allegedly executed at British base in Abu Naji in May 2004. Five survivors bringing a claim for damages.

Jabbir Hmoud Kammash

70-year-old tribal leader is bringing action over claims he was hooded and beaten during a raid at his home in Basra in April last year.

Ahmer Jabbar Kareem and Ayad Salim Hanoon

Teenagers forced to swim a canal, resulting in the drowning of Kareem, 15. Kareem's father and Hanoon are pursuing a claim for damages.

Hassan's statement: 'They enjoyed abusing us'

At 7am my friends convinced me to head towards Camp Breadbasket in order to steal dried milk cartons in order to sell them on the black market. The hangars were surrounded by a high fence, though there was an opening in the fence. Next to the fence there was a road, then a river.

When we tried to leave the hangars via the opening in the fence British soldiers chased us. We tried to run away but were caught. Some Iraqis managed to escape arrest. I believe some may have drowned as they were trying to escape the British.

British soldiers caught me and started beating me and others using their vehicle's aerials. They were beating us very harshly. We were led inside the hangars while still being beaten all the way. The beating became stronger when we were inside the camp. I was kept in a hangar along with four other Iraqis.

They ordered us to take off our clothes by gesturing to us to do so. When we refused they continued beating us, so we had to follow their orders. They made us sit on each other's laps. I was with one of the detainees, while another two detainees were made to do the same thing, as in the photos. They were enjoying humiliating and abusing us. I wished I was dead at this moment. Then they made me sit with Tariq as in the other photo, where I was forced to put Tariq's penis in my mouth. The other two were made to do the same.

They locked the hangar while we were inside and left us there with no food or drink till the afternoon of the day after, when they opened the hangar and let us go. Since then I fled Basra altogether as I cannot see Tariq again after what had happened, despite the fact that we were close friends.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Mind and the Obama Magic

This is an interesting article. Perhaps what makes this article so interesting is that it comes from this linguistic expert who got us in this mess by advising the Democrats to talk about "progressive policy directions" and never talk about progressive solutions to problems.

Some people think this guy has the answers to winning. I think he is the reason why Democrats aren't doing anything.

Along comes jerko Lakoff worried about Obama taking up rightwing positions.

Wow-wee! Whooo-hooooooooo! Where has Lakoff been, on Mars? Obama is rightwing. Obama has been rightwing. Obama will remain rightwing.

Must be Obama didn't hire Lakoff and Lakoff is trying to drum up business. Speaking up because he is pouting.

Anyways, it is an interesting read. Just confirms for me why I am supporting Cynthia McKinney. I can't stand this cowardly crap any more.

As far as I am concerned any politician who doesn't bring forward solutions to problems is rightwing. Lakoff is a jerk. He wrote the Bible on rightwing politics claiming to be progressive.

The "Progressives for Obama" think this article is so great. They are jerks too.

What other reason is there for government if not for solving problems?


Tom Hayden the jerk from "Progresives for Obama"

George Lakoff just plain jerk.

Friday, July 11, 2008
Obama and Voters of Two Outlooks
Photo: George Lakoff

The Mind
and the
Obama Magic

[This very interesting piece misses one point. Obama has a number of long-held positions beyond the usual progressive camp simply because he has always held them --CarlD]

By George Lakoff
UC Berkeley

July 6, 2008 - Barack Obama should not move, or even appear to be moving, toward right-wing views on issues -- even with nuanced escape clauses. Arianna Huffington, Paul Krugman, and the NY Times Editorial Page all agree, for various reasons. I agree as well, for many of the same reasons, as well as important reasons that go beyond even excellent political commentary. My reasons have to do with results in the cognitive and brain sciences, as discussed in my recent book, The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st Century Politics with an 18th Century Brain.

But before I get into the details, it is important to get a sense of why Obama might be "moving to the Right." There are at least three possibilities. The first is for political expediency. The second is to reassure voters that he is a responsible leader, not a crazy radical. The third is that he thinks that nuanced positions don't have the effect of the moving to the right.

Let's start with the first possibility -- expediency, the one assumed by most observers.

The Political Expediency Argument

The usual political wisdom is (1) voters vote on the basis of positions on issues, (2) there is a left-to-right spectrum of voters defined by positions on issues, (3) most voters are in the "center." Polls are constructed to appear consistent with this tri-partite hypothesis. The Dick Morris strategy, based on this hypothesis, says: if a Democrat moves the Right, he will get more votes because he will "take away" the other side's issues. If Obama and his advisors believe this, then the more they more to the Right, the bigger their win should be. But all three hypotheses are false, and so is the conclusion based on it.

First, voters mostly vote not on the details of positions on issues, but on five aspects of what might be called "character," as Richard Wirthlin discovered in the 1980 Reagan campaign. They are Values (What are the ethical principles that form the basis of your politics?); Authenticity (Do you say what you believe?); Communication (Do you connect with voters and inspire them?); Judgment; Trust; and Identity (If you share voters' values, connect with them, tell them the truth effectively while inspiring trust, then they will identify with you -- and they will voter for you. Positions on issues matter when they come to stand symbolically for values. Reagan and George W. Bush understood this. Carter, Mondale, Gore, and Kerry did not. And in the primaries. Hillary Clinton did not get it (she focused on policy, while Obama and McCain focused more on character, on who he was).

Values, authenticity, communication, judgment, and trust are not irrational reasons for voting for a president, even over positions on specific issues. The reason is that situations change, and what you rationally wind up depending on are just those virtues.

Obama introduced himself to the primary voters not as a policy wonk, but as a person of character, who announced his values, said what he believed (no pussyfooting), communicated beautifully and powerfully, and gave examples of his good judgment -- he was someone you could trust and identify with. That was a major part of the Obama magic. If Obama even appears to adopt Right-wing views for the sake of getting more votes, he will appear to be giving up on his values, renouncing his authenticity and believability, clouding his judgment, and raising questions about whether he can be trusted. The Obama magic will be in danger of fading.

Let us now turn to the second reason. There are two major modes of thought in American politics -- conservative and progressive, what I've called "strict" and "nurturant." We all grow up with brains exposed to both and capable of using both, but usually in different areas of life. Some people are conservative on foreign policy and progressive on domestic policy, or conservative on economic issues and progressive on social issues -- or the reverse. There is no left-to-right linear spectrum; all kinds of combinations occur. I've called such folks "biconceptuals." Brainwise, they show a common situation called "mutual inhibition," where two modes of thought are possible but the activation of one inhibits the other. The more you activate a conservative mode of thought, the more you inhibit the progressive mode of thought -- and the more likely it is that the conservative mode of thought will spread to other issues.

Interestingly, many people who call themselves "conservatives" actually think like progressives on a range of issue areas. For example, many "conservatives" love the land as much as any environmentalist; want to live in communities where people care about each other, that is, have social not just individual responsibility; live progressive business principles of honestly, care for their employees, and care for the public; and have progressive religious values: helping the poor, caring for the sick, being good stewards of the God's creation, turning the other cheek. One view of "bipartisanship" for progressives is finding self-described conservatives and independents who have such progressive values and working with them on that basis. That's what Obama did when he went to Rick Warren's megachurch and it is his strategy in Project Joshua. Note that this is the opposite of the form of bipartisanship that involves really adopting right-wing values, or even appearing to. What this bipartisan strategy does, from the brain's viewpoint, is to activate the progressive mode of thought in the brains of conservatives, and thus tends to inhibit conservative thought.

But the form of bipartisanship that involves adopting, or appearing to adopt, right-wing views has the opposite effect. It strengthens conservative thought in the brains on those biconceptuals and weakens progressive thought. In short, it actually helps conservatives. Rather than "taking arguments away from them" it strengthens their basic values and hence all their arguments. It give conservatives more reason, not less, for voting for conservatives.

If Obama adopts, or appears to adopt, right-wing positions, he may still win, since McCain is such a weak candidate. But it will hurt Democrats running for office all up and down the ticket, since it will strengthen general conservative positions on all issues and hence work in the favor of conservative candidates.

As has often been said, if you are a conservative, why vote for the progressive spouting conservative views when you can vote for a real conservative?

In short, if Obama adopts, or appears to adopt, rightwing views, he will not only hurt himself, but also hurt other Democrats.

The Responsibility Position

Suppose that Obama's motivation is not political expediency, but rather an attempt to counter both rightwing and centrist stereotypes of progressives as being irresponsible.

Adopting, or appearing to adopt, rightwing positions is not going to work, and will only hurt, for reasons given above. What is the alternative?

In The Audacity of Hope, Obama portrays what I would call progressive ideals as simply American ideals, and he continued that account throughout the primary campaign. I think it is a correct account. And I think it is the key to uniting the country without adopting rightwing views. From this perspective, responsibility and the strength and judgment to act responsibly works with empathy (caring about other people) to define the basic American ideals: freedom, fairness, equality, opportunity, and so on. One can speak from this perspective of "full responsibility" both social and individual as central to the American vision, and they say what it means to be both responsible and committed to American ideals in each issue area. Moving to rightwing views, and abandoning American ideals, is never necessary to win.

The Nuanced Policy Position

It is possible to add nuance to a policy to make it look like you are moving to the right without actually doing so in policy terms. This can seem to do double duty, avoiding criticisms without making really substantive changes. It is an illusion.

When Obama ran for Senator in Illinois he had to at least appear to support Illinois industries -- coal, ethanol, and nuclear energy. He has used nuanced escape clauses, such as if it turns out to be economically feasible, while aware that sequestered coal, corn ethanol, and nuclear could not be economically feasible. Is this good politics? It may have been for a new senator, but it is not for a president. The reason again is that doing so activates a conservative mode of thought and inhibits a progressive mode of thought, making the move to real alternative energy that much harder.

Positions like this depend on a deep mistake about policy. There are two aspects to policy: cognitive and material. Material policy is about the nuts and bolts, how things are to work in the world. Cognitive policy is about what the public has to have in its brain/mind in order to fully support the right material policies. Coal, nuclear energy, and ethanol are policy disasters, and even giving them support with nuanced escape clauses hurts the possibility of real energy reform, but it activates, and hence strengthens, the conservative modes of thought that lie behind those proposals.

The bottom line: A nuanced policy that looks like a rightward move has the cognitive effect of a rightward move. Cognitive effects matter awfully in presidential campaigns.

Can You Avoid Attacks?

No. No matter how many rightwing views you move toward, you will be viciously attacked as too liberal, as influenced by radicals, as inexperienced, as unpatriotic, as all words and no content. Stick to your core values. Be yourself. Voters will respect you.

Why Understanding the Political Mind Matters

Politics looks different from the perspective of the cognitive and brain sciences. That is why I have written The Political Mind. Your arguments change when you start with how the brain and mind really work.

From the brain's perspective, the pragmatic arguments and moral arguments converge: Don't adopt rightwing positions for the sake of political expediency (that will backfire) or to demonstrate responsibility (that too will backfire). The best way to be expedient is to be authentic, stick to your core values, show and discuss responsibility, and thus garner trust. That is how to lead our nation, and to do so responsibly and toward fulfillment of its ideals.

[George Lakoff is the author of The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 20th Century American Politics with an 18th Century Brain. He is Goldman Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley.]

Sunday, July 13, 2008

McKinney, Green Party make history

Finally a progressive candidate we can support.


McKinney, Green Party make history
John Nichols — 7/13/2008 9:54 am

CHICAGO -- With an assist from Wisconsin activists -- including Madison Alder Brenda Konkel and local attorney and Liberty Tree Foundation director Ben Manski -- the national Green Party has made a good deal of history this weekend.

The party has nominated a former member of Congress for the presidency, a coup for the party that itself has yet to elect a U.S. representative or senator.

The party has nominated a woman for president, no small matter in a year when Democrats have rejected an opportunity to crack the political glass ceiling.

The party has nominated an African-American for president, no small matter in a year when the Democrats have embraced Barack Obama.

And the former member of Congress, the woman and the person of color the party has nominated is a savvy, articulate and outspoken public figure who -- despite the fact that she has taken her hits from a media and a political class that never could get comfortable with the idea that a young black women was walking the corridors of power and making no apologies -- appears to be more than capable of standing her ground in a presidential race that so far has been longer on style than ideas.

Cynthia McKinney, a former Democrat who represented Georgia in the U.S. House during the administrations of Bill Clinton and George Bush and often sparred with presidents of both big parties, easily secured the Green nomination Saturday at the party's convention in Chicago.

She then delivered an acceptance speech in which she made it clear that the small but serious party, which has more than 200 elected officials nationwide and grassroots organizations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, would be heard in a campaign where much of the media has a hard time seeing beyond Democratic blue and Republican red.

As delegates and supporters waved "Paint the White House Green" signs, McKinney declared, "I am asking you to vote your conscience, vote your dreams, vote your future, vote Green."

Manski was delighted by the energy with which McKinney took the stage as a Green.
The veteran campaigner for the party, who was a key player in Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential run on the party's line and works closely with 2004 Green presidential nominee David Cobb, said, "Cynthia McKinney is already bringing new people to the Green Party. She's expanding the party, broadening it."

Manski organized and participated in a number of issue-oriented forums at the convention, which featured presentations by Konkel, a former Madison City Council president, Madison attorney and Liberty Tree fellow Juscha E. M. Robinson, former Racine Alder Pete Karas and other Greens from Wisconsin.

Issues and organizing strategies were far more central to the Green convention than the personality politics that tends to dominate at Democratic and Republican sessions. That's part of the reason why McKinney's move from the Democratic fold to the Greens has gone reasonably smoothly.

"When it comes to the war, impeachment and so many other issues, she's always been closer to the Greens than the Democrats," explained Manski.

Resolutely anti-war and anti-imperialist, firmly committed to defending individual liberties and determined to hold the outgoing president and vice president accountable -- as a member of the House in 2006, McKinney introduced the first articles of impeachment against President Bush -- McKinney is an ardent advocate for national health care, expanded education spending and energy policies that emphasize mass transportation and conservation rather than rewarding oil-company profiteering.
And, as she notes, "I have a record of standing up on all of these issues."

It is that record, and her willingness to stand on it, that distinguishes McKinney from Democrat Obama and Republican John McCain, both of whom are being accused of changing positions in order to reposition their campaigns for November.

McKinney does not spend much time attacking either the Democrat or the Republican. Rather, the former state legislator and six-term member of the House -- whose broad experience as a child of the civil rights movement, a community activist, an educator and a state and national official compares favorably with both of her big-party rivals -- simply says: "Don't expect me to keep a count of the major flip flops of the other candidates between now and November. I'm sure there will be plenty. They are in this flip flop because they have to appear to share our values -- while they serve somebody else."

That "somebody else" comment is a reference to the corporate and governmental elites that Cynthia McKinney has spent a lifetime battling. She has her scars. But she is still reasonably young by presidential politics standards -- just 53 -- and she is still appealing and appropriately idealistic.

Don't talk about "wasted votes" or "spoiling" that which is already spoiled, she says
"We are in this to build a movement," McKinney told the cheering delegates. "A vote for the Green Party is a vote for the movement that will turn this country right-side-up again."

John Nichols — 7/13/2008 9:54 am

Saturday, July 5, 2008

I'm sorry, I am laughing so hard I can't type

Alan Maki sent this letter to the Washington Post. Oh my gosh. Krauthammer is going to keel over from a heart attack.


Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Ever-Malleable Mr. Obama

Re: The Ever-Malleable Mr. Obama

Mr. Krauthammer,

Not that Obama is a Communist, but your suggestion that Obama switches his ideas more than the “Daily Worker” is absurd; as you are fully aware.


The Daily Worker never switched sides… always siding with the working class.

I think many people are saying, or suggesting--- as you have done with your Daily Worker comparison--- that Obama must be a Communist because his “mentor,” Frank Marshall Davis, was a Communist.

Having been a Little League coach and a Communist--- I still am a Communist, too old for coaching--- many parents told me their children looked upon me as their “mentor.” Perhaps I unwittingly created a bunch of Communists? Lol! Wouldn’t that be something? Now there is something for you and your right-wing friends to have nightmares over! Get those old FBI agents out going over eight years of team rosters … you might find a Communist or two.

What the heck, you should even have these special agents check on the teams we played… at least that will keep a few people employed for a couple years.

With that said, I would suggest that you actually read some of the old “Daily Workers” and Frank Marshall Davis’ own writings like “Livin the Blues” and “The Writings of Frank Marshall Davis;” you might get an education; plus you might sleep better knowing that perhaps Obama will be using Davis’ writings as kind of a “measuring stick” to determine how much progress he makes.

Besides, so what if Obama is a Communist? Last time I read the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights I didn’t notice any exclusionary provisions against Communists holding the highest office in this land; but, I do notice in reading the same documents that George Bush and Dick Cheney have committed a number of impeachable offenses. Come on Mr. Krauthammer, you can’t possibly believe Obama could be any worse than George Bush whose only remaining hard-core base of support comes from the John Birch Society?

By the way, I wouldn’t walk across the street to vote for Barack Obama; it doesn’t look like he will need my vote to win anyways... looks to me like he will win a landslide over the Republicans no matter what, just because your Presidential choice is as rotten and corrupt as the capitalist system itself.

Right about now I think about all Obama would have to say between now and Election Day is that his first act will be nationalization of the oil industry for perpetrating this robbery at the pumps and he and Michelle can take a vacation until Inauguration Day.

Perhaps if Obama were a more principled Communist I would run to the polls to vote for him.

I guess your red-baiting must be in response to your frustration of realizing your beloved capitalist system is on the skids to oblivion.

Obama is too wishy-washy for me, too.

Where is the Daily Worker and Earl Browder when you need them?

I’m voting for Cynthia McKinney.

You probably have already figured out that I would never vote Republican unless Lincoln rose from the grave.

Feel free to publish this alternative viewpoint in the Washington Post… bak, bak, bak, bakkkk, bak, bak, bak, baaaaakkkk.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


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