Thursday, August 28, 2008

Not-So-Colluding Commie Strikes Back Against Kincaid (And Us)

Well, seems things are getting a little heated in blogging land.

Cliff Kincaid who is Richard Melon Scaife's hatchet man and this dim-wit liberal apologist for the Democratic Party, Terry Krepel, are at war over Frank Marshall Davis.

Reading Kincaid's and Krepel's stupid musings about Frank Marshall Davis I get the impression both of these guys think Frank Marshall Davis is running for President instead of Barack Obama.

Kincaid drags up old FBI files on Frank Marshall Davis. Now he talks about Davis being some kind of "pervert" because he enjoyed sex. I guess that makes most of us "perverts".

What is really hilarious is that the biggest pervert of all was FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover who used to dress up in drag for his equally perverted assistant while they got off their jollies admiring pictures of those they were persecuting for reading dangerous pamphlets like the Communist Manifesto and watching Charlie Chaplin movies. I bet Kincaid would have had fun playing "dress up" with his mentor, J. Edgar Hoover.

Just looking at a picture of Kincaid sends shivers up my spine. I wouldn't want the guy hanging around the school yard where my kids hang out. Then again I wouldn't want my kids sitting on John McCain's lap either.

As for Terry Krepel I can't figure out what this sissy is whining about. He wrote about someone and something without having any facts. For Krepel he can attach a "cheekily alliterative headline" but he can't take what he dishes out.

Krepel has gone from supporting one loser Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama.

Talk about perverts what kind of president sticks his dick in his intern's mouth dirties her pretty blue dress and then talks about George Bush and political patronage? If Frank Marshall Davis was still around he probably would have had a comment or two about this and then Kincaid would have called him a pervert for writing about it and Krepel could have defended Bill Clinton.

Talking about perverts has anyone seen John Edwards at the Democratic Party Convention in Denver?

Talking some more about perverts I wonder what Kincaid and Krepel think about that cop in Denver using his billy club on a Code Pink activist and calling her all kinds of names? Kind of perverted if you ask me.

I wonder if Kincaid is going to get Scaife to give him the money to payoff some woman to come forward claiming she was the thirteen year old girl he claims Frank Marshall Davis had sex with? Now wouldn't that be something. Kincaid and Krepel could argue over if Barack Obama should stand trial for his mentor's act of rape.

Both Kincaid and Krepel now want to take out their wrath on Alan Maki and the only thing he has done is ask a simple question: What specific solutions is Barack Obama suggesting in the way of change?

Come to think of it shouldn't this be the primary question being asked of Barack Obama by both Cliff Kincaid and Terry Krepel? As to what books communist literature Barack Obama reads it would be nice to know he just knows that a book has to be held right side up so you can read it. As I recall, at the time the Twin Towers were destroyed George Bush was trying to read a book to young children but he was trying to read with the book upside down.

When I went to college we had to read the Communist Manifesto. We actually studied it quite thoroughly. I don't understand why Cliff Kincaid is so concerned with Barack Obama having read Marxist literature. This raises an interesting question here. How much Communist and Marxist literature has Cliff Kincaid read? I am assuming Kincaid has read Marxist and Communist literature even that other perverted little creep Roy Cohn who was Joe McCarthy's sidekick claimed he had first hand knowledge of how wrong it was for anyone to read Marxist and Communist newspapers and magazines.

Probably Kincaid and Krepel should compile an accepted reading list for presidential candidates.

I think if there is one thing to come out of this election it is that the media no longer treats perverts like Cliff Kincaid and Terry Krepel as credible sources.

Maybe by the time Kincaid and Krepel get done talking about Alan Maki we will have McCain sitting in the White House. Now you talk about your perverts. McCain brags that he dropped bombs on innocent people at least 25 times and cries about getting shot down and mistreated as a prisoner of war. I wonder if McCain had any dirty thoughts in his head about what he would like to do with a thirteen year old Vietnamese girl as he was being held in an animal cage where he deserved to be. Rape her as so many American heroes did or just douse her with napalm or maim her with cluster bombs?

Here we have a war criminal and a war monger running for president and Cliff Kincaid and Terry Krepel are arguing if Frank Marshall Davis was or wasn't a sexual pervert because of a book he supposedly wrote. What next? A debate about if Shakespeare was a pervert? What kind of perverts come up with some of these themes for some of these movies my kids rent at the video store?

I noticed at Abu Gharib prison there were some pretty perverted things going on. Who should we blame for this perversion? Frank Marshall Davis, Barack Obama or Alan Maki? There has to be a commie somewhere to blame.

Perverted Commies? What about your perverted delegates attending Democratic and Republican Party conventions where the police say they don't know how to handle the influx of prostitutes?

What about that perverted foot tapping Republican who played footsy at the Minneapolis Airport? Was he playing footsy with one foot or two?


Not-So-Colluding Commie Strikes Back Against Kincaid (And Us)

Topic: Accuracy in Media

We noted that back in July, Accuracy in Media's Cliff Kincaid was touting the word of a self-proclaimed communist named Alan Maki as "deadly confirmation that a hard-core CPUSA member [Frank Marshall Davis] played a key role in helping raise [Barack] Obama," further describing Maki as a "friendly fellow." Turns out Maki isn't eager about the connection.

In the midst of a lengthy screed attacking us for being "a Democratic Party hack" and suggesting that we would be joining Conrad Black in jail -- we're not sure exactly what brought this on since all we did was note Kincaid's approving cite of him and criticism of Maki and Kincaid by Frank Marshall Davis, who claims to be Frank Marshall Davis' son -- Maki made the following declaration:

In fact, the “collusion” to which Krepel refers--- between me and Cliff Kincaid--- is me telling Mr. Kincaid in no uncertain terms--- using language I am sure Mr. Krepel would object to--- to never call me again, and my reporting his calls to me to the United States Department of Justice, the Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson, and the Minnesota Commissioner of Public Safety, Michael Campion because I consider Kincaid’s call to me to be part of the vicious right-wing hate campaign against me initially instigated by Brian Melendez in his attempt to silence me from bringing forward working class issues involving the rights of casino workers; public ownership as a means to save the closing St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant; bringing forward the issue of single-payer universal health care as the MN DFL Party leadership was trying to betray the wishes of Minnesotans on this issue; and my persistent opposition to this dirty imperialist war for oil in Iraq predicated upon lies and deceit which the Democrats acquiesced to and went right along with--- including funding the carnage in Iraq when that money is needed right here at home for education, health care and housing.


In fact, Mr. Krepel, had you bothered to pick up the phone and make two-calls… you would have found that I forced Cliff Kincaid to recant his vicious and malicious postings about me because had he not, I intended to sue him for libel and defamation of character. I wouldn’t walk across the street to vote for your dear Barack Obama; and Cliff Kincaid tried to use me to demonstrate Communist Party USA support for Barack Obama. As a proud long-time member of the CPUSA it would be a cold day in hell before I ever voted for a capitalist politician no matter what their name… I have stated my intent to vote for Cynthia McKinney--- a real progressive and the best Democrat in the race. My one and only interest in the Obama Campaign is to try to make sure working peoples’ voices are heard loud and clear by the incoming Obama Administration and my blog postings make this crystal clear… unlike you, I state where I stand and what motivates me right up front…

Well, all righty, then.

Maki then goes off and makes numerous false about us, which leads to the aforementioned linking of us with Conrad Black over our original cheekily alliterative headline, "Is Kincaid Colluding With a Commie?"

Your headline reminds me of what Conrad Black wrote about me: “Commie, Go Home.”

Mr. Krepel, you might want to take note of where Mr. Black currently makes his home.

Which begs the question: Why did Kincaid, initially at least, treat Maki as a credible source? That raises some questions about Kincaid's judgment. Is Kincaid so desperate to smear Obama that he'll take the word of just anyone? If Maki sent the same kind of screeds Kincaid's way as he did ours, does Kincaid still think he's a "friendly fellow" whose word can be trusted?

Posted by Terry K. at 12:50 AM EDT

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and save jobs on the Iron Range









This action also takes place during the RNC. The picket line is

sponsored by the Coalition for Public Ownership of the Ford Plant and

is supported by the Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities. With

Ford’s TCAP having been given a reprieve with the postponement of the

plant closing to the end of 2011, there is still time to pressure

local authorities to make the right decision. With all of the

government handouts and tax breaks the auto industry has been given

over the years, in addition to the hydro-electric dam it was

graciously given at the behest of the Army Corps of Engineers, it’s

safe to assume that we each own a piece of it by now anyway. So why

not public ownership? If Ford’s board of directors and shareholders

can’t run it properly and keep it open as a vital part of the local

economy, then the manufacturing facility and hydro-dam should be taken

over in the public interest. The assembly line can be retooled and

converted for either the production of wind harvesters or clean

electric train engines and carriages and the dam can provide clean

power for the community. So spread the word and bring your friends to

this important action.










Alan Maki — Organizer, Casino Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union Organizing Committee

David Riehle — Local Chairman, United Transportation Union 650

Michael Wood — Coalition for Public Ownership of the Ford Plant & Gus Hall Action Club

Christine Frank — Volunteer Coordinator, Climate Crisis Coalition of the Twin Cities

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Great Consumer Crash of 2009

This is an interesting piece about the economy.

I disagree with the final outcome Mr. Quinn is predicting:

In conclusion, the gathering storm has arrived. It will be long, painful and destructive. Those who prepared for the storm by not taking on excessive debt and living above their means, will ride it out unscathed. Those who built their house on sand by leveraging up and living the “good” life, will see their house swept out to sea. The storm will pass and we will rebuild. Our country is resilient. The purging of this massive debt will result in the creative destruction that is the hallmark of American capitalism. New opportunities, new technologies and a new attitude will put us back on course.

Why should the American working class continue to put up with a system that over and over again creates so much human misery?

The time has come for the working class to dig a good deep grave for American capitalism. Bury the system. Put a great big boulder on top of the grave so it will never re-emerge as it did in Russia, Poland and Finland.

At the web site I took this article from you will find the graphs:


The Great Consumer Crash of 2009

* by James Quinn

* August 19, 2008

James Quinn is senior director of strategic planning, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

“It is easy to ignore the storm if you look at the opposite horizon. When the storm reaches your location there can be no more ignorance.”

I hate to tell you, but the storm has reached your location and it is a Category 5 hurricane. The levees are leaking. Ignore it at your own peril. The 6,000 sq ft McMansion buying, BMW leasing, $5 Starbucks latte drinking, granite countertop upgrading, home equity borrowing days are coming to an end. The American consumer will not go without a fight. For the last seven years the American consumer has carried the weight of the world on its shoulders. This has been a heavy burden, but when you take steroids it doesn’t seem so heavy. The steroid of choice for the American consumer has been debt. We have utilized home equity loans, cash out refinancing, credit card debt, and auto loans to live above our means. It has been a fun ride, but the ride is over. We can’t get steroids from our dealer (banks) anymore.

After examining these charts it is clear to me that the tremendous prosperity that began during the Reagan years of the early 1980’s has been a false prosperity built upon easy credit. Household debt reached $13.8 trillion in 2007, with $10.5 trillion of that mortgage debt. The leading edge of the baby boomers turned 30 years of age in the late 1970’s, just as the usage of debt began to accelerate. Debt took off like a rocket ship after 9/11 with the President urging Americans to spend and Alan Greenspan lowering interest rates to 1%. Only in the bizzaro world of America in the last 7 years, while in the midst of 2 foreign wars, would a President urge his citizens to show their patriotism by buying cars and TVs. When did our priorities become so warped?

How Did I Get Here

And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
And you may ask yourself-Well...How did I get here?

And you may ask yourself
Where is that large automobile?
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful house!
And you may tell yourself
This is not my beautiful wife!

- Talking Heads, David Byrne lyrics to Once in a Lifetime

By 2005 practically everyone had a large automobile and a beautiful house. By 2010 many of these people will be asking where is that large automobile and will realize as the sheriff escorts them out of their house that this is not my beautiful house. There is plenty of blame to go round for this predicament. According to Northern Trust economist Paul Kasriel, “We’re a what’s my monthly payment nation. The idea is to have my monthly payments as high as I can take. If you cut interest rates, I’ll get a bigger car.” Major banks offer credit cards using your home equity as a way to pay everyday expenses like groceries, gas and clothes. Eating your house was never so easy.

I have been accused by many of my friends and family as someone who sees the glass as half empty. I disagree with their assessment. I see the glass as it is. I find myself scratching my head trying to figure out why a society that always saved for a rainy day, consistently saving between 8% and 11% of their disposable income, now has a negative savings rate. I believe that keeping up with the Jones’ is the primary reason that Americans have taken on so much debt.

The authors of the book, Why Middle Class Mothers and Fathers Are Going Broke contend that the costs of housing and a good education for their children are killing them. It now takes two incomes to provide what one income provided 30 years ago: a middle-class house in a safe neighborhood with a decent public school. Bidding wars erupted for homes in what are thought to be good school districts, making homes in those areas ever more expensive. A phenomenon called “expenditure cascade” has occurred in the U.S. according to Cornell Professor Robert Frank. When top earners build large multi-million dollar mansions, they shift the frame of reference for those just below them on the income scale. Those people then respond by building bigger houses and so on down the food chain. This has resulted in families living on the edge. If one parent loses their job, it’s an easy slide into bankruptcy.

The U.S. is the country in the developed world with the lowest savings rate. Canada and Japan are trying to keep pace. Germany and France have social programs which allow for more savings. We may come in last in savings, but no other country in the world can spend like us. Our motto is live for today, the government will bail me out in the future.

We have outsourced our savings to the emerging economies, along with our manufacturing jobs. The Chinese are saving the money we’ve paid them for flat screen TVs and the Middle Eastern countries are saving the money we’ve paid them for oil. You need savings in order to increase investment. The emerging markets are making the vast majority of the investments in the world. While the U.S. endlessly debates drilling and construction of nuclear plants (none built in U.S. since 1987) and oil refineries (none built in U.S. since 1977), China brought four oil refineries online in 2008 and plans to build 30 nuclear reactors in the next twelve years. The Asian Century has begun, but the U.S. has tried to keep up by using debt. It will not work. If anything, this has accelerated the shift of power to Asia.


Positive Feedback Loop

The last thing that anyone thought would result while watching the Twin Towers collapse on September 11, 2001 was the greatest housing boom in the history of the world. When a country goes to war, it usually asks its citizens to sacrifice.

“I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many months of struggle and suffering.”
- Winston Churchill – May 13, 1940

In the true spirit of Winston Churchill, President Bush could have paraphrased Churchill by saying: I have nothing to offer but tax cuts, tax rebates, 0% auto financing, and no-doc mortgages. Americans grieved for a few weeks and then did their patriotic part by buying everything they could get their hands on. As Alan Greenspan denies causing the housing crisis today, his words from November 2002 come back to haunt him, “our extraordinary housing boom…financed by very large increases in mortgage debt, cannot continue indefinitely into the future.” After making this statement, he proceeded to slash the discount rate to 1% in June 2003 and left it at that level for a year. This began the positive feedback loop:

1. The Federal government cut taxes and sent rebates to all Americans.

2. The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to 1%.

3. Government officials urged Americans to spend in order to defeat terrorism.

4. Alan Greenspan told people that adjustable rate mortgages were a good thing.

5. Congress and President Bush believed that everyone should own a home and pressured lenders to provide mortgages to low income people.

6. GM, Ford, and Chrysler offered 0% financing on their cars through their finance arms, while also encouraging low rate leases. Credit card companies sent out 5.3 billion offers in 2007. In 1968, when the credit card was a new concept, total credit debt was $8 billion. Now the total exceeds $880 billion, according to the Federal Reserve.

7. Wall Street created new investment vehicles that allowed mortgages to be packaged and sold to investors throughout the world with investment grade ratings provided by Moody’s and S&P, for a price.

8. Mortgage companies and lenders developed ARMs, Option ARMs, teaser rate loans, no-doc loans, negative amortization loans and 100% financing loans.

9. Low income people started buying homes, with these exotic mortgage products, from middle income people. Middle income people started to buy larger houses from rich people, boosting demand for new homes. Rich people bought mansions and second homes. Bidding wars for houses were common.

10. The demand caused by this influx of new home buyers drove prices skyward, with home prices doubling in five years. This price rise brought in the speculators/flippers, who began to buy multiple houses with nothing down, pre-construction, with plans to sell them for a profit without ever moving into them.

11. Average Americans who saw their paper wealth growing rapidly, as their home value increased, took advantage of this by refinancing their mortgages and extracting the equity from their homes and spending it. The chart below shows that in 2004 and 2005, Americans sucked $800 billion from their homes in each year.

Source: Calculated

12. Homebuilders throughout the U.S., but particularly in California, Arizona, Florida, and Nevada, went on the biggest building binge in the history of the U.S. These builders either believed their own bull about demographics, or just decided to ride the wave as far as it would take them. This binge led to 8.5 million total home sales in 2005, about 3.5 million more than what would have been expected based on historical rates.

13. The massive number of excess home sales and equity withdrawal led to huge demand for home furnishings, remodeling services, appliances, electronic gadgets, BMWs, and exotic vacations. This led to massive expansion by retail and restaurant chains based on extrapolation of this demand.

14. Retailers, homebuilders, restaurants, and car makers extrapolated the false demand far into the future. There are now over 7,000 Wal-Marts, 6,000 CVSs, and 30,000 McDonalds. Any company that built their business on false assumptions and excess debt will be meeting their maker, shortly.

15. Because the originators of virtually all loans to consumers were immediately selling the loans off, they had no incentive to follow any guidelines or due diligence when issuing the loans. Anyone with a pulse could get a mortgage, car loan, or credit card. Unscrupulous mortgage brokers popped up everywhere, luring uneducated and willing people to join the party. Greedy appraisers went along with the scam by overvaluing houses to whatever the banks desired.

16. The debt induced spending that occurred from 2001 until 2007 accounted for virtually all the GDP growth over this time. Without the mortgage equity withdrawal, the U.S. would have had less than 1% average GDP growth for the entire period.

Source: John Mauldin

Negative Feedback Loop – Underway

The pseudo-wealth that has been created in the last seven years has begun to unwind, but will increase in speed in 2009. You only know how you’ve lived your life over the last seven years. Your neighbor who has been getting their house upgraded, sending their kids to private school, driving a BMW, and taking exotic vacations may have been living the high life on debt. As usual, Warren Buffet’s wisdom comes in handy.

“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

The tide is on its way out, and the naked swimmers are numbered in the millions. Mohamed El-Erian, the number two man at PIMCO, fears a negative feedback loop consuming the country. I believe we have begun the negative feedback loop and it is starting to accelerate. The stages are as follows:

1. Home prices reached an unsustainable level in 2006. Prices had gone parabolic between 2001 and 2006, with the average price reaching above $225,000. In 2001, prices were just above $125,000. As the pundits keep looking for a bottom in housing, the chart below clearly shows there is a long way to go.

2. The massive overbuilding based on false demand has led to 3.5 million excess homes in the U.S. based upon historical trends. The most shocking fact is that there are 1.5 million vacant homes. This oversupply can only be corrected by massive price decreases.

3. With the tremendous price increases in houses over the last decade, you would think that equity would be at all-time highs. But no, owner equity as a percentage of house value has reached an all-time low of 45%. People have sucked the equity out of their homes and spent it faster than the prices were rising. The problem is that house prices can and will fall, debt remains like an anchor around your neck until paid off or it drags you down into bankruptcy.

4. The millions of exotic mortgages (subprime, alt-A, ARMs, no-doc, and negative amortization), which have started to blow up, has led to a tsunami of foreclosures. In 2005 there were less than 600,000 foreclosures in the U.S. In the 1st two quarters of 2008 there have been more than 1,350,000 foreclosures, with the pace accelerating. Approximately 15% of all subprime mortgages and 7% of all Alt-A mortgages are in delinquency. According to UBS, 27.2% of subprime mortgages originated in 2007 by Washington Mutual are in delinquency. Washington Mutual is the poster child for how not to run a savings and loan.

Source: MBA

5. The combination of oversupply, over-leverage, and foreclosure tsunami has now taken on a life of its own. Home prices have been spiraling downward for two years to the point where 29% of all households that purchased in the last five years owe more than their house is worth according to Zillow, the home valuation company. For those who bought in 2006, 45% have negative equity. It is now making economic sense for people to just walk away from their house and send the keys to the lender. This is referred to as ‘jingle mail’.
6. The ongoing housing price decreases are now affecting prime mortgages, home equity loans, and home equity lines of credit. Prime mortgages for less than $417,000 had a delinquency rate of 2.44% in May, up 77% from last year. Prime jumbo loans over $417,000 had a 4.03% delinquency rate in May, up 263% from last year. According to the ABA, 1.1% of all home equity lines are in delinquency, the highest level since 1987.
7. Consumers have dramatically increased the use of credit cards, now that the housing ATM has run out of cash. The average American household has credit card debt of $9,840 versus $2,966 in 1990, at an average interest rate of 19%. Credit card delinquencies have increased to 4.51% in the 1st quarter. Amex just announced a major unexpected write-off because its prime customers have hit the wall and are defaulting. Consumers used their credit and debit cards to buy $51 billion of fast food in 2006 according to Carddata. According to the Federal Reserve, 40% of American families spend more than they earn. This has led to the result in the chart below. The reversal of this trend will be necessary but traumatic. It has already begun, with the savings rate increasing to 2.6% in early 2008. David Rosenberg, the brilliant economist from Merrill Lynch, describes what has happened and what is to come:

"This is an epic event; we're talking about the end of a 20-year secular credit expansion that went absolutely parabolic from 2001-2007."

“Before the US economy can truly begin to expand again, the savings rate must rise to pre-bubble levels of 8pc, that the US housing stocks must fall to below eight months' supply, and that the household interest coverage ratio must fall from 14pc to 10.5pc.”

"It's important to note what sort of surgery that is going to require. We will probably have to eliminate $2 trillion of household debt to get there," he predicts, saying this will happen either through debt being written off, as major financial institutions continue to do, or for consumers themselves to shrink their own "balance sheets".

The elimination of $2 trillion of household debt will lead to the closing of thousands of retail stores, strip malls, restaurants, and bank branches. There should be a lot of vacant buildings available in the next few years, and a few suspicious fires.


8. Banks are doing what they usually do. They are closing the barn door after the pigs have escaped. As their losses have crossed the $500 billion mark, it is getting tougher for them to convince more suckers to buy their stock. They have so much toxic waste “assets” on and off their books at inflated values that they can not or will not lend. The Federal Reserve reported that banks have tightened standards for all loans in record numbers. After giving loans to anyone with a pulse for the last five years, this information is refreshing. But based on the well qualified assessments of Bridgewater Associates and NYU economist Nouriel Roubini, there is still $1.0 to $1.5 trillion in losses to go. Bank lending to consumers will be subdued for years.

Source: Mike Shedlock

9. Government unemployment figures have begun to skyrocket, while the true unadjusted unemployment figures point to a major recession. If the number of people who have given up looking for a job were included, the official 5.7% unemployment rate would jump to 14%. People without jobs can’t spend money or make mortgage payments. With the deep recession that I anticipate, the official figures will reach 7%. This will result in lower consumption.

Source: Haver Analytics

10. Car sales have plummeted. The major car manufacturers have stopped leasing cars to consumers. J.D. Power and Associates forecasts car sales of 14.2 million units in 2008, a 12% decrease over the 16.1 million units in 2007. This would be the lowest level since 1993. For many years, virtually anyone could lease a luxury automobile and appear to be successful. In 2007, one of every five new vehicles was leased. When that current lease runs out, good luck trying to get a new one. Chrysler, GMAC, Wells Fargo and others will no longer offer auto leasing. They have taken massive losses due to the huge decline in residual value not accounted for in their nice little financial models. You can’t give away a truck that gets 10 MPG today. Expect to see more junkers on the road.

Source: J.D. Power

11. Retail store closings and retail bankruptcies have begun to accelerate. This will lead to hundreds of thousands in job losses. Barry Ritholtz recently documented the fate of many retailers so far:

Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide

Bombay Company: to close all 384 U.S.-based Bombay Company stores.

Cache, a women’s retailer is closing 20 to 23 stores this year


Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores.

Dillard's Inc. will close another six stores this year.

Eddie Bauer to close more stores after closing 27 stores in the first quarter

Ethan Allen Interiors: plans to close 12 of 300 stores to cut costs.

Foot Locker to close 140 stores

Gap Inc. closing 85 stores

Home Depot store closings 15 of them amid a slumping US economy and housing market. The move will affect 1,300 employees. It is the first time the world's largest home improvement store chain has ever closed a flagship store.

J. C. Penney, Lowe's and Office Depot are all scaling back

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines closing 150 stores nationwide

Levitz - the furniture retailer, announced it was going out of business and closing all 76 of its stores in December. The retailer dates back to 1910.
Macy's - 9 stores closed

Movie Gallery – video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500 Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations the video rental chain closed last fall as part of bankruptcy.

Pacific Sunwear - 153 Demo stores closing

Pep Boys - 33 stores of auto parts supplier closing

Sprint Nextel - 125 retail locations to close with 4,000 employees following 5,000 layoffs last year

Talbots, J. Jill closing stores. Talbots will close all 78 of its kids and men's stores plus another 22 underperforming stores. The 22 stores will be a mix of Talbots women's and J. Jill

Wickes Furniture is going out of business and closing all of its stores. The 37-year-old retailer that targets middle-income customers, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

Wilsons the Leather Experts – closing 158 stores

Zales, Piercing Pagoda plans to close 82 stores by July 31 followed by closing another 23 underperforming stores.

I know Linens & Things just went belly up, and Steve & Barrys recently filed for bankruptcy protection and sale.

12. Mall owners and commercial developers are on the brink of bankruptcy. Commercial developer CB Richard Ellis didn’t sound too optimistic in their recent 10Q filing:

"We are highly leveraged and have significant debt service obligations. Although our management believes that the incurrence of long-term indebtedness has been important in the development of our business, including facilitating our acquisitions of Insignia and Trammell Crow Company, the cash flow necessary to service this debt is not available for other general corporate purposes, which may limit our flexibility in planning for, or reacting to, changes in our business and in the commercial real estate services industry. Notwithstanding the actions described above, however, our level of indebtedness and the operating and financial restrictions in our debt agreements both place constraints on the operation of our business."

General Growth, a mall developer, looks like a prime candidate for bankruptcy based on their recent 10Q info. Mike Shedlock assesses their situation:

“Interest expense for 3 months ending June 30, 2008 was $312,943,000.Net Income for 3 months ending June 30, 2008 was $34,082,000 Earnings per share from continuing operations was $.01 Earnings per share from discontinued operations was $.12 If the cost to refinance $18 billion were to rise to 8.0%, interest expense would rise by 50% to a whopping $469,414,000 per quarter. Even 7% would be a killer based on the numbers presented above."

Given that the Shopping Center Economic Model Is History and credit is tightening everywhere, General Growth Properties is going to be in deep trouble if credit conditions remain as they are, or even if they improve slightly. I expect credit conditions to worsen.”

13. Consumer and business confidence is shot. Consumer confidence is at multi-decade low levels. Small business confidence is also at historic lows. Small businesses do most of the hiring in the U.S. Consumers and businesses are correct in their assessment of the situation. It is our political and corporate “leaders” that are in denial.

Source: Haver Analytics

In conclusion, the gathering storm has arrived. It will be long, painful and destructive. Those who prepared for the storm by not taking on excessive debt and living above their means, will ride it out unscathed. Those who built their house on sand by leveraging up and living the “good” life, will see their house swept out to sea. The storm will pass and we will rebuild. Our country is resilient. The purging of this massive debt will result in the creative destruction that is the hallmark of American capitalism. New opportunities, new technologies and a new attitude will put us back on course.

There has been and will be resistance to the inevitable deep recession that is coming. The American consumer is not cutting back willingly. They are being dragged kicking and screaming towards the joys of frugality. The “material generation” needs to dematerialize. My biggest concern is that our politician leaders and their cronies running our government will continue to try and reverse the normal capitalistic course of recession and expansion. Companies need to fail, housing needs to find its bottom based on supply, demand and price. Those who gambled must be allowed to lose and suffer the consequences. If the government attempts to shift the losses to those who lived lifestyles of thrift, an angry uprising will ensue. Government intervention in this natural process could lead to a decade long depression. Let’s hope that reasonable heads prevail.

This article reflects the personal views of James Quinn. It does not necessarily represent the views of his employer, and is not sponsored or endorsed by his employer.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Young Obama's Red Mentor

The Wall Street crowd has finally gotten around to their old dirty tricks. They have dug deep into the anti-communist abyss; egged on by Cliff Kincaid the love-child of the John Birch Society and the KKK.

Today Kincaid attacked Obama for being soft on Russia. What Kincaid did not provide his dumbed-down readers with is a link to Patrick Buchanan's article in the magazine "Human Events," not exactly your run of the mill liberal publication.

Here is the link:

Blowback From Bear-Baiting

I wonder if Kincaid thinks Patrick Buchanan is a left-over Soviet agent being directed by Stalin from his grave?

Well, the Wall Street crowd seems to like Kincaid:

Young Obama's Red Mentor

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Election '08: The mainstream media have finally gotten around to revealing Barack Obama's early mentor. But they've downplayed the mystery man's communist background.

IBD Series: The Audacity Of Socialism

As noted in the July 29 curtain-raiser to this series, the seeds of Obama's far-left ideology were planted in his formative years as a teenager growing up in Hawaii — and they were far more radical than any biography or media profile has portrayed.

Poet-journalist Davis speaks in Hawaii in this undated photo.

A careful reading of Obama's first memoir, "Dreams From My Father," reveals that his childhood mentor up to the age of 18 — a man he refers to only as "Frank" — was none other than the late communist Frank Marshall Davis, who fled Chicago after the FBI and Congress opened investigations into his "subversive," "un-American activities."

In a belated story on the relationship, the Associated Press describes Davis as "left-leaning."

In fact, Davis was a member of the Moscow-controlled Communist Party USA, according to the 1953 report of the Commission on Subversive Activities of the Territory of Hawaii, which labeled him "a bitter opponent of capitalism." The report was introduced as evidence in the U.S. Senate Internal Security Subcommittee hearings probing the "Scope of Soviet Activity in the United States."

"Davis scholars dismiss the idea that he was anti-American," the AP reports. But one of them, ex-University of Hawaii professor Kathryn Takara, acknowledges in a Ph.D. paper on Davis (not quoted by AP) that he'd been fingered as "a Communist."

Davis wrote militant poems as a black writer in Chicago, including one in which he hails the Soviet revolution: "Smash on, victory-eating Red Army." He also attacked traditional Christianity, titling one inflammatory screed, "Christ is a Dixie N*****."

As Obama was preparing to head off to college, he sat at Davis' feet in his Waikiki bungalow for bitter nightly bull sessions. Davis plied his impressionable guest with liberal shots of whiskey and advice, including: Never trust the white establishment.

"They'll train you so good," he said, "you'll start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that sh**."

In the eyes of white America, Davis warned Obama: "You may be a well-trained, well-paid n*****, but you're a n***** just the same." He also nurtured anti-white hatred in his young mulatto subject, telling him, "Black people have a reason to hate."

AP conveniently glossed over these quotes.

How much influence did Comrade Davis have on Obama? The Democrat White House hopeful refuses to talk about the relationship now. In the book, he only shares that he was "intrigued by old Frank, with his books and whiskey breath and the hint of hard-earned knowledge."

However, Obama followed in Davis' footsteps after college, working as a "community organizer" for the same socialist network in Chicago. He even considered a career in journalism like Davis.

Obama attended socialist conferences, and took a shine to other black Marxist revolutionists. Not long after Davis died in 1987, Obama came under the spell of another black nationalist-socialist, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who, like Davis, wore a dashiki and became a father figure.

If the relationship with Davis was as blase as the Associated Press makes it sound, why is Obama mum about it? And why did he try to hide Davis' identity in his first memoir, published in 1995?

"With the exception of my family and a handful of public figures," he wrote in the preface, "the names of most characters have been changed for the sake of privacy." But there was no need to protect Davis' privacy. He had long been dead.

More likely, the cryptic references to his communist mentor were — and still are — designed to protect Obama's background from the scrutiny it deserves.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Birchite and Bigot Cliff Kincaid and his racist, anti-communist lies exposed on his own web site

CLIFF KINCAID WROTE: But if the relationship were so innocent, why didn’t Obama identify Frank by his full name in his book and denounce his communist and anti-American views? Why doesn’t he denounce those views now?

RESPONSE: Obama didn’t identify “Frank” by his full name in his book because he identified a number of people only by their first names. This is common practice in a memoir. I would think a journalist like Cliff Kincaid should know that. Obama probably did not (and does not) denounce his “communist and anti-American views” because Davis did not reveal any “communist and anti-American views” to Obama. What specific “communist and anti-American views” is Kincaid referrring to?

His demand for fair wages and other benefits for workers?

His demands for equal protection of the laws?

His demands for freedom of the press?

His support for a woman’s right to choose?

His demand for integration of the armed forces?

His support for the integration of the AFL and CIO?

His demand to end restrictive covenants in real estate?

His support for the Fair Employment Practices Act?

His demand for general dismantling of all laws supporting racial segregation?

His demand for an end to laws support anti-Semitism?

His demand for an end to nuclear weapons?

His demand for the rights of soldiers in combat zones to vote in national elections?

His support for a broad United Nations (not just the U.S. and Great Britain forming a world power union)?

KINCAID WROTE: “Regarding the Davis-Obama relationship, now confirmed by the Obama campaign, the Post, as well as its “conservative” competitor, the Washington Times, recently ran a dishonest Associated Press story that portrayed Davis as a positive influence on Obama who had no affiliation with the CPUSA. This was the real lie.”

RESPONSE: What evidence do you have that Davis was not a positive influence? If the AP’s failure to mention Davis’s affiliation with the CPUSA is a “lie,” then AIM’s portrayal of Davis’s “Red Army” poem as anti-American is ALSO a lie, because AIM failed to mention that the Red Army was an ALLY of the United States when the poem was written. If AIM-speak considers half-truths to be “lies,” then AIM may one of the world’s biggest liars because AIM columns regarding Davis are filled with half-truth’s including the facts that:

-When Davis opposed U.S. entry into WWII, both Congress and the general population opposed U.S. entry into WWII. Failure to mention Davis’s position was the common position was a half-truth, and therefore a “lie” in AIM-speak.

-When Davis was associated with communist-affiliated institutions, other leading African-American writers, such as Richard Wright and Langston Hughes were ALSO associated with communist-affiliated institutions. It was NORMAL for African-American writers to be associated with communist-affiliated institutions for one simple reason. According to The New Red Negro ONLY the Communist left had any significant institutional impact on African-American writing during the 1930s and 1940s. This support was crucial as the institutions that had maintained the New Negro Renaissance faded. And for better or for worse, the leading CPUSA functionaries involved in “Negro work” took a direct interest in African-American cultural production in a manner that was unusual, if not unique. Failure to mention that Davis’s association with communist-affiliated institutions was NORMAL during that period was a half-truth, and therefore a “lie” in AIM-speak.

AIM should be careful about calling the kettle “black.” If AIM’s half-truths are added to AIM’s direct falsehoods, they may set a new record in the Annals of Prevarication.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cliff Kincaid and Terry Krepel are two racist and anti-communist creeps in the same pod

Anti-communism and racism go together. Usually people think of anti-communists and racists as being of the ultra-right variety.

This is not the case.

Liberals are some of the biggest racists and anti-communists.

A case in point: Terry Krepel.

This creepy Krepel is out to prove that Barack Obama is not a Communist.

People do have a right to be a Communist. I am a Communist. This is my right.

So what if Barack Obama is a Communist? So what if Frank Marshall Davis was Obama's "mentor." So what if Barack Obama read the writings of Frank Marshall Davis.

According to liberal Terry Krepel who spends his life trying to deny the accusations being made by Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media funded by Richard Mellon Scaife that Obama might be a Communist I ask, "Who cares"?

What is this we are all going to be judged by what books we decide to check out of the public library now?

This creepy Krepel of Media Matters is playing the same filthy game Hubert Humphrey played.

I have read three books by Frank Marshall Davis since becoming aware the guy ever existed a few months ago. Reading these books hasn't hurt me or my children. We read a lot of Frank Marshall Davis' writings together. My kids loved his poetry. So did the neighborhood kids. We took a drive along the North Shore and read to each other as the waves hit the rocks. I have never seen my kids so eager to read anything.

Now along comes this Cliff Kincaid a bigoted Bircher teaming up with this liberal creep Krepel trying to make it look like Obama is somehow unfit for office if some Marxist thinking might have rubbed off from Frank Marshall Davis on him. The Bircher claiming Obama is unfit to assume the presidency if he is a Marxist. The liberal creep Krepel saying the exact same thing because he is desperately trying to prove Obama is no Marxist.

To both the Bircher and the liberal their warped thinking coincides at the point they both use a person's Marxist world outlook to say that person is not fit to hold public office. To me this kind of thinking is everything democracy is not.

The Bircher and the liberal both express anti-communism.

The Bircher and the liberal both express openly racist ideas in doing this because they are saying we don't have the right to consider the views of an Africa-American Communist. What the Bircher and the liberal are saying is that we don't have the right to check out the books from the public library if those books are written by a Communist who is African-American.

What Kincaid and Krepel are both saying is that because I have read the views of Frank Marshall Davis I am not qualified to hold public office and I resent this.

What both Cliff Kincaid and Terry Krepel should be concerned about is a candidate running for public office whose mind is as closed as their own in fearing to read Marxist ideas.

A kind old man who had the courage to live his life according to his Marxist views befriended a fatherless Barack Obama. I would think we would appreciate that Frank Marshall Davis had the human compassion to mentor a youth who it looks to me didn't turn out all that bad.

Are Kincaid and Krepel now going to suggest that the Big Brother programs should start screening participants to exclude them if they read books by Frank Marshall Davis or heaven forbid they are Marxists?

How far do we carry the demented logic of Cliff Kincaid and Terry Krepel? Should I be denied the right to vote because I am a Marxist? My vote could be the one vote that elects Barack Obama. We know Sam Webb intends to vote for Obama. Should Sam Webb be denied the right to vote?

So what if the Communist Party USA supports Barack Obama? Bill Clinton supports Barack Obama. John Edwards supports Barack Obama. So do millions of other people in this country support Barack Obama. Should we investigate every single Barack Obama supporter to see if they have ever done something not to someone's liking like read books by Frank Marshall Davis?

I am surprised Kincaid and Krepel don't ask Barack Obama if he ever voted for a Communist or Marxist for public office. If he did does it matter to anyone?

I would just love to have a president for a change that knows how to read. Listen to George Bush "reading" his speeches. He can't even pronounce half the words. I have noticed the right-wing nuts like Cliff Kincaid champion stupidity. The liberals like Terry Krepel think they should do our thinking and reading for us.

A true liberal would not bother trying to refute any claims of Cliff Kincaid accusing Barack Obama of being a Marxist or a Communist. A true liberal would simply say, "Who cares"?

Cliff Kincaid and Terry Krepel both have a similar anti-communist and racist agenda.

For all I know Cliff Kincaid might walk around at night with a white sheet over his head. Someone told me Terry Krepel is a pedophile. I hope he stays away from Duluth.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Once again Alan Maki has given the nail a good clunk on the head

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Most companies in US avoid federal income taxes

Below is a very short story from the Associated Press, published in BusinessWeek.

This headline says it all: Most companies in US avoid federal income taxes.

This is a very interesting story.

Al Gore talks about "taxing what we burn; not what we earn," conveniently evading the question of taxing wealth.

Workers create ALL wealth--- with the exception of Mother Nature's unique form of help, the working class really does create ALL wealth... this is scientific truth; something which has been known for hundreds of years yet seldom mentioned except by Marxists.

People wonder why there is never any money for things we need--- socialized health care, public education, housing, public libraries, parks and recreation, road and bridge maintenance and infrastructure and child care; well, this story provides a big part of the answer... corporations are allowed to get away with stealing the wealth created by the working class without so much as even having to pay any taxes on this wealth.

This is by design... United States Senator Carl Levin doesn't have to look too far to find out how it is that U.S. corporations are absconding--- running off in secrecy--- without paying any taxes... Levin needs only look in the mirror because Democrats worked in a bi-partisan manner creating this opportunity for corporations to steal the wealth of our Nation; wealth created by the working class... stealing this wealth without even having to pay any taxes.

The CATO Institute has been the primary architect of such reactionary and regressive tax policies and working in cahoots with Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Schreck positions in government agencies and legislative staffs have been stacked with those who have been trained to have a mind-set to carry out this robbery in a manner even slicker than the robbery taking place at the gas pumps.

Of course, the politicians--- Republicans and Democrats--- are both feeding like pigs at the trough... at our expense.

Marxists, like myself, refer to the Democrats and Republicans as being the two-headed monster of big-business for a reason; and this is one of those reasons.

After reading this, no one should wonder why Democratic and Republican politicians tell us no-fee, comprehensive, all-inclusive, single-payer universal health care which is publicly financed and publicly administered is not affordable.

Well, when corporations can get away without paying a dime in taxes as the billion-dollar CEO's and Wall Street coupon clippers walk off with the profits is it any wonder nothing is left for government to meet the needs of society for things like health care, education and housing?

Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands that whatever wealth is created by the working class with Mother Nature's unique contribution, that is all society has to work with... when it comes to wealth there is one pie, no more.

How that pie gets divided up is what working people need to get concerned about.

It is not just big-business sticking their greedy fingers in the pie before it cools as they try to grab what they can without getting caught... the working class is supporting a monstrous military-financial-industrial complex of state-monopoly capitalism which is growing more expensive by the day to support as imperialist wars are waged for oil and to secure cheap labor markets.

Karl Marx pointed out long ago that when a Nation takes the wealth which has been collectively created by the working class and pumps this wealth into military spending and wars, that one might just as well take the money from your your pocket and throw it out into the ocean.

Capitalism has spun a web for the working class and the capitalist parasites are having a feast--- the working class is the victim and it is time for working people to tear this web apart and break free.

Now since it is close to Election Day, Senator Byron Dorgan talks about these corporations having to "pay their fair share." What a hypocrite; for years the guy has closed his eyes, covered his ears, and twiddled his thumbs knowing full well this was all taking place... we all knew it.

We expect the Republicans to do this; the Democrats on the other hand keep getting elected because, like Dorgan and this bunch of Democrats--- in order to get our votes they claim they are different from Republicans, when, in reality, the only difference is the Republicans do what they say they will do for the corporations and Democrats lie about what they say they will do for working people while after getting elected, the Democrats wring their hands and say they don't know how to stop the Republicans from doing what they said they were going to do.

The time has come for working class political independence. This is why I support the campaigns of Cynthia McKinney for President and Cindy Sheehan for United States Congress.

There is no such thing as a free bus ride... big-business is along for the ride without paying the "FARE;" and, no matter how anyone looks at it this scheme and way of doing things is not "FAIR."

This article published in BusinessWeek proves that the working class is paying the entire "F-A-R-E." And this, by design of both Republicans and Democrats, is not "F-A-I-R."

It is all about wealth; it is all about "fare" and "fair." Give the Democrats a dictionary, not your vote.

Something to keep in mind: To top it off, these same corporations paying no taxes, can't even pay workers real living wages--- and, they turn around and fight tooth-and-nail to prevent the minimum wage from becoming a real living wage.

If this doesn't provide some food for thought around the dinner table in working class households I don't know what would...

Alan L. Maki

The Associated Press

August 12, 2008

Most companies in US avoid federal income taxes



Unlike the rest of us, most U.S. corporations and foreign companies doing business in the United States pay no federal income tax, according to a new report from Congress.

The study by the Government Accountability Office, expected to be released Tuesday, said two-thirds of U.S. corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, and about 68 percent of foreign companies doing business in the U.S. avoided corporate taxes over the same period.

Collectively, the companies reported trillions of dollars in sales, according to GAO's estimate.

"It's shameful that so many corporations make big profits and pay nothing to support our country," said Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., who asked for the GAO study with Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich.

An outside tax expert, Chris Edwards of the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, said increasing numbers of limited liability corporations and so-called "S" corporations pay taxes under individual tax codes.

"Half of all business income in the United States now ends up going through the individual tax code," Edwards said.

The GAO study did not investigate why corporations weren't paying federal income taxes or corporate taxes and it did not identify any corporations by name. It said companies may escape paying such taxes due to operating losses or because of tax credits.

More than 38,000 foreign corporations had no tax liability in 2005 and 1.2 million U.S. companies paid no income tax, the GAO said. Combined, the companies had $2.5 trillion in sales. About 25 percent of the U.S. corporations not paying corporate taxes were considered large corporations, meaning they had at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in receipts.

The GAO said it analyzed data from the Internal Revenue Service, examining samples of corporate returns for the years 1998 through 2005. For 2005, for example, it reviewed 110,003 tax returns from among more than 1.2 million corporations doing business in the U.S.

Dorgan and Levin have complained about companies abusing transfer prices -- amounts charged on transactions between companies in a group, such as a parent and subsidiary. In some cases, multinational companies can manipulate transfer prices to shift income from higher to lower tax jurisdictions, cutting their tax liabilities. The GAO did not suggest which companies might be doing this.

"It's time for the big corporations to pay their fair share," Dorgan said.

Posted by Alan L. Maki at 8:28 AM

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Card Check... does the Employee Free Choice Act have a future?

This is a posting from Alan Maki's blog.

Labor newspapers and newsletters would do well to reproduce this post.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Card Check

This should be posted everywhere for discussion.

Labor supporters of Barack Obama have made "card check" the primary basis for their support for Obama and the Democrats and it know appears attaining even "card check" from Barack Obama and the Democratic Party is in doubt.

What does everyone think of this coming from George McGovern, one of Barack Obama’s most progressive supporters?

Does this portend what is in store from "Progressives for Obama" on other issues?

Do “Progressives for Obama” have anything to contribute concerning this little “whammy” from the Democratic Party?

I wonder how John Edwards responds to McGovern? What about Hillary Clinton? Anyone heard from Barack Obama regarding this Wall Street Journal op/ed piece by George McGovern whose support he has enthusiastically received?

This raises important questions of to what extent lobbyists exert influence over politicians, like George McGovern, even when these politicians are no longer in office.

This op/ed piece by George McGovern should also serve to explain to "Progressives for Obama" that when it comes to working class ideas, policies and solutions to problems there is one heck of a chasm between big-business monopoly interests and the interests of the working class in the Democratic Party.

Like any other pro-labor reforms, card check faces an uphill struggle, even though it has been put forward as the centerpiece of organized labor's reason for endorsement of Barack Obama.

John Sweeney and Andrew Stern along with those who advised us that the closing of the St. Paul Ford Plant was a “done deal” have told us that card check will become reality with a Barack Obama Administration and Democratic Party majorities in the House and Senate… even on the one and only pro-worker policy these people have held out to working people as a reason to “vote Democrat;” this one pro-working class policy is far from a “done deal” should Obama and Democratic majorities be elected in the House and Senate.

This raises the question: Was George McGovern pressured by “team Obama” to come forward with this opposition to card check?

“Blue-dog” Democrats voiced their opposition to card check long ago, something Sweeney and Stern have ignored even as they pump millions of dollars of workers' hard earned money into supporting these reactionary shills.

To think, with all the hard-earned dues of union members being pumped into the campaigns of Obama and Democrats--- including Blue-dog Democrats--- working people will not even be able to leave the voting booth confident they are getting card check as part of the deal in return for their votes; this is shameful.

All these millions of dollars of union members might better be spent organizing a grassroots, rank and file movement against “at will hiring; at will firing” in twenty-eight states, including Minnesota and Michigan.

Better yet, organize such struggles as part of the campaign for national "card check" legislation so even when enacted, "card check" will not be undermined by “at will hiring; at will firing.”

What is most interesting, when I brought forward a resolution on the issue of “at will hiring; at will firing” (in opposition) before the State Convention of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party; Ray Waldron, the President of the Minnesota AFL-CIO, along with his sidekick, Mark Froemke, organized the opposition and even after the resolution was seconded to thunderous applause... Waldron was quick to bring his floor workers into action twisting the arms of "union leaders" not to vote for the resolution I introduced calling on Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party's Legislative Caucus in the Minnesota to rescind “at will hiring; at will firing” legislation.

In Michigan, UAW President--- Ron Gettelfinger, in spite of my request to him, has refused to authorize the UAW's lead lobbyist, Nadine Nosal, to undertake a campaign among Democratic Party legislators and the "labor governor," Jennifer Granholm, in opposition to “at will hiring; at will firing” and rescind, once and for all, this most Draconian legislation that is the major impediment to union organizing.

I bet even George McGovern is opposed to “at will hiring; at will firing.”

Not one single elected Democratic Party state legislator in any state where it exists, has had the courage to challenge “at will hiring; at will firing.”

“At will hiring; at will firing” is the real impediment to union organizing that even “card check” legislation will not be able to overcome.

Not once have we heard one peep from John Sweeney or Andrew Stern concerning “at will hiring; at will firing” for the simple reason that the pro-business, anti-labor Democrats we all know to be lurking in dark corners would come out of the woodwork like termites getting a good dose of Chlordane. These are Democrats The AFL-CIO and Change to Win put in office.

By the way… card check will not apply to some two-million workers employed in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages in the Indian Gaming Industry… this industry enforces its own Draconian version of “at will hiring; at will firing” claiming this state legislation in Michigan and Minnesota as their guide in “labor-management” relations.

I think we should find out what Cynthia McKinney and Cindy Sheehan have to say about all of this.

We need to take a reading of where Barack Obama and all Democrats stand on this entire scenario before Election Day because with the price of gas, there is no use making a trip to the polls on Election Day if we aren’t going to get something for our votes… on the Red Lake Nation Indian reservation here in northern Minnesota people make sure they at least get turkey or a tank of gas for making the trip to the polls because they know they won’t get anything else from their votes… all working people should learn a lesson from Red Lakers.

For anyone who really wants to know what kind of government working people can expect to get from the Democratic Party, just ask Democrats running for public office to do as George McGovern has done with "card check;" state their positions in writing on “at will hiring; at will firing.”

John Sweeney and Andrew Stern are said to be fuming after reading George McGovern's op/ed piece, printed below, in the Wall Street Journal... and justifiably so.

But, at least George McGovern is not going into public office... while Barack Obama and his mixed-bag of Democrats are.

Brownstein/Hyatt/Farber/Shreck has lobbied hard against "card check," too; this grouping of law firm/lobbyists of choice for big-business which has become a primary component of state-monopoly capitalism and its slavish support for AIPAC is also the major backer and booster of Barack Obama.


My Party Should Respect Secret Union Ballots


August 8, 2008; Page A13

As a congressman, senator and one-time Democratic nominee for the presidency, I've participated in my share of vigorous public debates over issues of great consequence. And the public has been free to accept or reject the decisions I made when they walked into a ballot booth, drew the curtain and cast their vote. I didn't always win, but I always respected the process.

Voting is an immense privilege.

That is why I am concerned about a new development that could deny this freedom to many Americans. As a longtime friend of labor unions, I must raise my voice against pending legislation I see as a disturbing and undemocratic overreach not in the interest of either management or labor.

The legislation is called the Employee Free Choice Act, and I am sad to say it runs counter to ideals that were once at the core of the labor movement. Instead of providing a voice for the unheard, EFCA risks silencing those who would speak.

The key provision of EFCA is a change in the mechanism by which unions are formed and recognized. Instead of a private election with a secret ballot overseen by an impartial federal board, union organizers would simply need to gather signatures from more than 50% of the employees in a workplace or bargaining unit, a system known as "card-check." There are many documented cases where workers have been pressured, harassed, tricked and intimidated into signing cards that have led to mandatory payment of dues.

Under EFCA, workers could lose the freedom to express their will in private, the right to make a decision without anyone peering over their shoulder, free from fear of reprisal.

There's no question that unions have done much good for this country. Their tenacious efforts have benefited millions of workers and helped build a strong middle class. They gave workers a new voice and pushed for laws that protect individuals from unfair treatment. They have been a friend to the Democratic Party, and so I oppose this legislation respectfully and with care.

To my friends supporting EFCA I say this: We cannot be a party that strips working Americans of the right to a secret-ballot election. We are the party that has always defended the rights of the working class. To fail to ensure the right to vote free of intimidation and coercion from all sides would be a betrayal of what we have always championed.

Some of the most respected Democratic members of Congress -- including Reps. Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, George Miller and Pete Stark of California, and Barney Frank of Massachusetts -- have advised that workers in developing countries such as Mexico insist on the secret ballot when voting as to whether or not their workplaces should have a union. We should have no less for employees in our country.

I worry that there has been too little discussion about EFCA's true ramifications, and I think much of the congressional support is based on a desire to give our friends among union leaders what they want. But part of being a good steward of democracy means telling our friends "no" when they press for a course that in the long run may weaken labor and disrupt a tried and trusted method for conducting honest elections.

While it is never pleasant to stand against one's party or one's friends, there are times when such actions are necessary -- as with my early and lonely opposition to the Vietnam War. I hope some of my friends in Congress will re-evaluate their support for this legislation. Because as Americans, we should strive to ensure that all of us enjoy the freedom of expression and freedom from fear that is our ideal and our right.

Mr. McGovern is a former senator from South Dakota and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Go, Cindy, Go!!!

What Kind of Extremists Will We Be?

This is Horseshit


August 6, 2008

It is not if we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists will we be?
-- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

You know, I don't care if it's not proper for a Congressional candidate to
say: "horseshit." I don't care if it is not a good "tactic" to get kicked out of a Congressional non-impeachment hearing that was just a bunch of horseshit anyway. I don't care if I get accused of being too "extreme" for bucking the (cyst)em by doing everything from camping in a ditch in Crawford, Tx to non-violent civil disobedience to, lately, running for Congress as (oh no!) an independent.

If people can't see how this nation is teetering on the precipice of financial ruin and dragging the rest of this planet down with us as we destroy our ecology, too - and if people don't realize how desperate our situation is, then I must say, that's horseshit!

I am angry. No, I am incensed that hundreds of thousands of people are dead, dying, wounded, displaced from their homes or being imprisoned and tortured by the sadists that reside or work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue with the approval of their accomplices down the road in Congress. I am furious that I buried my oldest son when he was 24 years old for the unrepentant lies and the unpunished crimes of the Bush mob. Are you incensed? If not, maybe you should ask yourself: "Why?" Hypothetically: "Why am I not enraged that my country has killed or hurt so many people for absolutely no noble cause in my name and with my tacit approval?"

I am steamed that the working class has to, once again, pay for the excesses of the capitalist criminals that feeds its rapacious appetite with the flesh and blood of our children and won't rest until it owns every penny in this world and has all the power.

You may say, "But Cindy, it is not polite to be angry or to use such strong language in public." Horseshit! In my opinion, every citizen in this country should rise up in anger and DEMAND that George Bush and Dick Cheney not only be impeached and removed from office, but be tried and convicted for murder and crimes against the peace and humanity!

We should all walk off of our jobs and refuse to work and refuse to be cogs in the wheels of psychotic consumerism until our troops, military contractors and permanent bases are removed from Iraq and Afghanistan. We should, but most of us won't. We won't because it may mean that we would lose something of "value." Material possessions are so transitory, as are our lives. We can leave a lasting impression by our courageous activism and moral sacrifice, or we can leave a pile of rusting metal or rotting wood. I choose the former for myself.

We should come out of our comas of too much TV news and not enough non-biased information to push for alternatives to fossil fuels that are clean and renewable and protest nuclear facilities and off-shore oil drilling like we used to in the olden days when people actually cared enough about not poisoning our world to get off of their couches or (today) out from behind their computer screens to do something constructive instead of complacently shelling out hundreds of dollars a week for gasoline and food.

I get so pissed off when one of my supporters has a tooth ache and can't afford to go see a dentist to fix it or when my sister has had a cough for almost two years and doesn't have the health insurance she needs to get fully well. And when I think that almost 50 million people in this country are non-insured or under-insured, I see red. Why, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, do some have the "privilege" of being fully insured and healthy, when health care is a basic human right, not a privilege for the elitists? My heart hurts every night when the men who sleep propped up against my campaign office, huddled under their blankets against the San Francisco chill, wish me a "good night" and I can't choke the same words back to them, or do much of anything but give them coffee to keep warm and books to read to help pass the time. My campaign office is being visited on a daily basis by Iraq war vets who can't access the help they need to get physically or mentally healthy---and I am "extreme" because I actually want things to really change and choose to act on this desire and not sit around passively pretending that this horseshit doesn't exist?

Since Casey died, even though every day I am filled with pain and longing, I have tried to be the poster-mom for this pain telling my neighbors and fellow Americans how it feels to be profoundly hurt by the Military Industrial Complex and that it wouldn't be too long before the cancer of BushCo would strike every American home and now that this prediction is awfully coming true, I see more and more apathy and less and less action.

Three years ago today, I first sat in a ditch in Crawford, Texas and three years later, we are in dire straits, my friends, and the prognosis is not good, unless we all make a conscious effort to sacrifice some of today's comfort for the sake of our children and grand-children's futures.

Sixty-three years ago today, the monsters of the US war machine dropped a WMD on hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children and since then, this nation has just descended into a further spiral of war and profiting from war and preparing for war and more profiting from war; which is destroying every aspect of our society and we MUST reclaim our very souls from the Military Industrial Complex before it is too late.

Please don't wait for November, or January or for the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius because every second we allow this demented pattern to continue, is one second too long!

Cindy Sheehan is running for congress as an independent. She can be reached through her website.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Framing issues... Framing ideas... Framing solutions to our problems

Alan Maki has given us a lot to think about here. I would suggest readers go over this a few times. As usual Alan gives us a lot to consider.

Sam Webb's article looks to me to be one more example in a long line of his sellout revisionist thinking. Webb has yet to offer any solutions for any problems making the lives of working people miserable.

The article by Webb could have been written by any staff person working for Obama. It could have been written by any Democratic Party hack. It could be a paid advertisement for Obama in any newspaper.

Months ago the Webb led CPUSA leadership of the National Board started campaigning for Obama. Jarvis Tyner called Obama "progressive." Webb has said Obama is not progressive or liberal. Webb has said the Communist Party does not endorse any of the candidates for president. Does anyone reading this article by Webb believe the Communist Party USA is not supporting Obama? The People's Weekly World, Political affairs and even the CPUSA "leadership blog" have been non-stop support for Obama without noting problems with Obama and his campaign.

Webb talks about looking for the good. As we should. The role of the Communist Party is to point out problems too. The role of the Communist Party is to help initiate movements with the goal of solving problems working people have. Alan is optimistic Webb will begin to address these questions. Maybe he is being sarcastic. I have no optimism Webb is going to move from his revisionist positions. This article makes very clear Webb must be removed from his position as Chair of the CPUSA.

Sam Webb still doesn't believe capitalism is in serious crisis. Webb has stated socialism is not in the cards right now. What kind of Communist leader talks like this. Communists always explain to working people that socialism is a viable alternative to capitalism. Always.

Capitalists tinkering with their system trying to make it work is not what determines if capitalism will continue. The working class makes that determination. If Communists do not educate workers on the need for socialism we won't have a revolution no matter how low the capitalist system sinks. Even when the capitalist system is "doing good" it never works good for most working people. Sam Webb does not understand working class life. Sam Webb does not understand the class struggle. Sam Webb refuses to acknowledge the deficiencies of Barack Obama and how is campaign is controlled by the rich and the monopoly corporations. It's like Webb views the monopoly interests and control of the Obama campaign that will reach into an Obama presidency as some kind of minor glitch. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I think Sam Webb wants us to identify with bourgeois politicians because he is an apologist for them. Webb is working against progressives and the left just like he did in supporting the legislation for continued spending on the war in Iraq that he said just like all the capitalist politicians was the way to end the war. Worse Webb is working against the interests of the working class by not advocating for workers in making apologies for Obama. I have to wonder if Obama and the Democrats have designated Sam Webb to be their official apologist.

This present article by Sam Webb must be considered with all of Webb's previous writings all of them making excuses why the Democrats can't do better all ignoring the role of the Communist Party to defend the interests of working people. Obama and his campaign staff can do just fine without Webb's and the CPUSA's support. Obama will win with or without Webb's support. Many opinion writers for the bourgeois media have said the exact same things in the same way Sam Webb does. Webb uses their opinions to justify his own seditious brand of revisionism when he should be using the writings, facts and figures from the bourgeois media to advance the class struggle and defend the rights and interests of working people.

Give this a good read and see what you think.


Note--- this blog posting appears on my blog on Barack Obama’s official campaign website:

Alan Maki's Blog

Frank Marshall Davis Roundtable for Change

Framing issues... Framing ideas... Framing solutions to our problems

By Alan L. Maki - Aug 5th, 2008 at 11:46 am EDT

My good friend Sam Webb has published a very important piece of work. I am posting it below followed by a quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt and something of mine published in the Madison, Wisconsin "Capital Times."

As you will probably note, Sam Webb emphasized the positive with the Obama campaign to the exclusion of the negatives and the requirements for uniting people for change.
I share Webb's confidence that Obama is going to win; and, I share Webb's enthusiasm for dumping the Republicans.

I don't just think Obama is going to win... I think Barack Obama is going to win in a great big landslide simply because the American people are just so darn fed up with Bush and the Republicans.

I also think that those who are counseling us to "hold back until after the Election" are dead wrong; Barack Obama, the community organizer, understands and appreciates the fact that "out of sight is out of mind." Barack Obama, the community organizer, understands that during an Election is the perfect time to "make political hay" in bringing concerns forward. We shouldn't be timid; we for sure shouldn't be holding back in our thoughts or our actions. In fact, with-holding our thoughts and opinions and suppressing our actions at this crucial time can only be to the benefit of John McCain.

People, working people, are fed up for a reason... actually a whole lot of reasons which Webb didn't get around to mentioning and I do in my follow-up letter to the Madison, Wisconsin "Capital Times" and in my previous commentary on this blog which I re-publish below... followed by what I think are some good suggestions for action which anyone can participate in.

But, whether or not this Obama victory benefits working people and the working class is another matter; as Carl Winter, who Webb quotes so often, drew our attention to while he was the Editor of the Daily World... the newspaper that replaced the Daily Worker and the Worker which Frank Marshall Davis read and circulated among his friends and fellow activists.

Here is Sam Webb's excellent article in the People's Weekly World. For some reason Webb has had a lot of difficulty grappling with the Obama campaign; I don't know why:

Elections ’08: embracing the moment

Author: Sam Webb

People's Weekly World Newspaper, 08/01/08 13:46

The expected presidential nomination of Barack Obama is a path breaking and historic achievement from many standpoints, not least the struggle for equality and against racism. Obama’s nomination leaves an enduring mark on every aspect of our nation’s culture – a culture steeped both in racism and anti-racism.

Eugene Robinson, a columnist for the Washington Post, had this to say:

“A young, black, first-term senator—a man whose father was from Kenya, whose mother was from Kansas and whose name sounds as if it might have come from the roster of Guantanamo detainees—has won the marathon of primaries and caucuses to become the presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party. To reach this point, he had to do more than outduel the party’s most powerful and resourceful political machine. He also had to defy, and ultimately defeat, 389 years of history.”

The breaking of this barrier says much about the candidate but it also speaks volumes about the American people. While it augurs well for our country’s future, it must be very disconcerting for the ruling class – that class which has been the main architect and beneficiary of racism for nearly four centuries.

People crossed racial and gender barriers in numbers that many of us didn’t think possible only a few months ago. Some said an Obama nomination was impossible, that it would never happen, and that white voters would never pull the lever for a Black presidential candidate. But the primaries proved that the doubters were wrong.

Breaking barriers

The Clinton campaign also broke barriers. Her concession speech was stirring as well as profound in many ways. While we had disagreements (and stated them) with the racist text/subtext in her campaign, it is also true that she captured the imagination of millions of women who in their own lives encounter gender barriers and oppression in the home, work and community. I am not sure if we have taken full measure

Her candidacy dissolved male supremacist notions disfiguring the thinking of men and plowed away barriers preventing women from playing a full and equal role in every aspect of social life. The struggle for full equality of women won’t necessarily be easy going forward, but Clinton’s campaign did take the fight to higher ground.

Decent and democratic minded people are rightfully celebrating the breaking of these barriers. Imagine how enthused the depression-era communists – those who gave their lives to Black/white unity and equality at a time of legalized segregation and lynching with impunity — would be about these turn of events.

Soberness in politics is essential, but it should be combined with passion, hope, excitement and images of a just and peaceful future. If we are going to err with respect to the significance of the moment and the potential of the coming elections, it is better to err on the side of passion and hope.

Anti-racism at a new level

Most, I suspect, underestimated the growth of anti-racist feeling among white people to one degree or another. Consider this statement by Loree Suggs, executive secretary of the Cleveland building trades, in reference to Obama:

“Go back to your locals. Now is the time to unite. We cannot let any bias or racial thoughts get in the way. If your members have any problem with racial bias, tell them to get over it for all time, but especially now for this election, get over it. We must put Barack Obama in the White House and, if we don’t, we are in deep trouble.”

This may not be typical of changing sentiments of white people in general and white unionists in particular, but it isn’t atypical either. Mass thinking is changing. Again, to quote Robinson,

“he amazing thing isn’t that there were instances of overt, old style racism during the campaign, it’s that there were so few. The amazing thing is that so many Americans have been willing to accept – or, indeed, reject – Obama based on his qualifications and his ideas, not on his race. I’ll never forget visiting Iowa in December and witnessing all white-crowds file into high school gymnasiums to take the measure of a black man – and, ultimately, decide that he was someone who expressed their hopes and dreams.”

While I don’t think that we have fully digested the political meaning of this turn of events, we can still say that the readiness of so many white voters to cast their ballot for an African American candidate in the presidential primaries gives confidence that the struggle against racism in its ideological and material forms can proceed on higher ground and in a bolder fashion.

Beware of rigid concepts

Tightly sealed political categories in this moment are not useful. It is said, for example, that Obama is a centrist or, worse still, a bourgeois politician. But aren’t categories of this kind, even if they capture some aspects of reality, too closed to be useful in a dynamic situation?

Political categories should allow for complexity, contradictions, transitions and new experience. If this is true in general then it is even truer at this moment when politics are fluid and social actors (individuals and social groups) are in motion?

Isn’t it possible for a social group or an individual to occupy more than one political space? Isn’t there something to be said for Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci’s concept of “contradictory consciousness?” Shouldn’t we think twice before embracing cut and dried assessments of social actors that not only fail to capture complexity of their politics, but also impede our political imagination to creatively elaborate strategic and tactical positions?

Assessments of candidates should be informed by their political formation and sensibilities, the movement that has sprung up around a candidacy and the overall context of these elections, including the presence of a powerful right-wing attack machine. Rather than pigeonholing Obama, for example, as a centrist or bourgeois politician, it may be more useful to characterize him as a potentially transformative political figure, much like Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Martin Luther King, Jr. were. None of them were revolutionaries, but they each had a keen appreciation of the moment in which they lived, they each interacted with the larger movement of their time and they each understood the necessity of expanding and giving new content to democracy and citizenship rights, albeit in the context of their times.

It isn’t ordained that Obama will fit into this category, either, but it is also far too early to foreclose that possibility. Life and struggle will decide.

Appreciating political realities

There is a tendency – especially among some on the progressive and left part of the political spectrum — to nitpick every single position of this or that candidate, including Obama. Some people on the left were apoplectic over Obama’s speeches to AIPAC and a Cuban American group in Miami. It is true that there is much in each speech that the left would disagree with, but at the same time we should look for positive openings that the speeches offer, if not now, then in the event of an Obama presidency. Unfortunately, looking for openings, by the way, isn’t something that the left is skillful at doing, especially in the electoral arena.

There should be an appreciation of this broad popular movement that has arisen around Obama’s candidacy. It has diverse currents and trends, including sections of the ruling class – all of which have to be taken into account. This campaign is also up against a very powerful right-wing attack machine – not to mention powerful and reactionary corporate interests.

What is more, to win, the campaign has to reach out to independents and disaffected Republicans. Without winning a section of them, a landslide victory is improbable.

The broader movement should give some wiggle room to this path-breaking candidacy. Obama is not running for city council in Berkeley or a safe congressional seat. Instead he is running for the highest national office in 50 states and in every region of the country.

Being right in the right way

Communists and others on the left can and should differ with Obama and other Democratic candidates. But the more important question is how we do it. Carl Winter, a former national leader of the Communist Party, said to me on more than one occasion: “It is not enough to be right, but you have to be right in the right way.” By which I understood Carl to mean that Communists, in advancing our views, have to be not only respectful of other people’s opinions and circumstances, but also to present them in a way that deepens people’s understanding, confidence and unity in the context of our strategic objective.

In order to advance one iota of a pro-people’s agenda, the people’s movement has to elect Obama and to enlarge the Democratic Party majorities in Congress. Without that everything else is wishful thinking.

However the focus in these elections should neither be solely on the candidate nor solely on the movement, but rather on the interactions and connections between the two. We should accent dynamics, fluidity and possibilities of the political process rather than dwelling on this or that shortcoming of either the candidate or the broader movement. If the latter consumes us, if it becomes the main thing, we will miss the forest for the trees.

Sam Webb is chairman of the Communist Party USA. This article is based on excerpts from his latest report on the 2008 elections. For more information:

This appeared in the writings of a professor who trains community activists:

Obama can certainly learn valuable lessons from
President Franklin Roosevelt, who recognized that his
ability to push New Deal legislation through Congress
depended on the pressure generated by protestors and
organizers. He once told a group of activists who sought
his support for legislation, "You've convinced me. Now
go out and make me do it."

As depression conditions worsened, and as grassroots
worker and community protests escalated throughout the
country, Roosevelt became more vocal, using his bully
pulpit-in speeches and radio addresses-to promote New
Deal ideas. Labor and community organizers felt
confident in proclaiming, "FDR wants you to join the
union." With Roosevelt setting the tone, and with allies
in Congress like Senator Robert Wagner, grassroots
activists won legislation guaranteeing workers' right to
organize, the minimum wage, family assistance for
mothers, and the 40-hour week.

The entire article is an excellent read:

My own letter published in the Madison, Wisconsin "Capital Times" is more specific and raises specific points we need to discuss because I am sure Barack Obama, as Sam Webb has suggested, shares many things in common with President Franklin D. Roosevelt; and, one of those things is that even though he may personally agree with much of what we are talking about when we talk about the kind of change we need in this country, there are also very powerful financial forces, many of us call it the "military-financial-industrial complex," in opposition to moving our country in a more progressive direction... and, Sam Webb's article alludes to these problems; that is, a lot of big-businesses are banking that they will be able to exert greater influence and pressure over Barack Obama than can, we--- the people. This is why Frank Marshall Davis always tried to make working people fully aware of the class struggle--- bankers, industrialists, war-profiteers on one side; working people determined to create a better life on the other side.

Keep in mind, this statement by President Franklin D. Roosevelt is of utmost importance:

"You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it."

We are not in a situation where we have the ability to whisper in Obama's ear our concerns. Barack Obama needs to be able to tell his big-business backers, "Hey, fellas; look here, I got all these people out here yelling and demonstrating and raising heck about their problems... I can't just ignore all these people... I have to discuss with them how we are going to solve their problems."

Unlike President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Barak Obama the community organizer, understands we have a job to do in mobilizing grassroots working class activists; and because he received guidance from Frank Marshall Davis he will understand that he has a job to do right now--- get elected President of the United States--- and Obama will understand, that as working people who are suffering the consequences of a rotten capitalist system on the skids to oblivion, we aren't willing to go down with the sinking ship.

Here is my letter published in the Madison, Wisconsin "Capital Times":

Obama needs to offer solutions to get working-class votes

Link to article in Capital Times I responded to:

Link to my Letter to the Editor:

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.

In another article of mine published in a variety of publications around the country, and previously in one of my blog postings on this site, I referred to some specific issues:

It is up to working people to clearly chart the course for progressive change and to unite for change behind the agenda we articulate. We need to make politicians understand that they work for us, not the other way around.

Several very basic changes come to mind that I think about:

1.) In the area of health care we need single-payer universal health care which will be a stepping stone to get us to socialized health care. Obama’s idea of health care “reform” leaves much to be desired; he wants to leave the profit gouging insurance companies, HMO’s, doctors and the pharmaceutical industry in control when most of us know this is what is wrong with the system--- profits come before people; and, it should be the other way around.

2.) We need a minimum wage that is a real living wage. Any job that an employer needs done should provide the worker doing that job a real living wage. The way to arrive at what the minimum wage should be is to use the statistics and calculations of the United States Department of Labor and the Bureau of Labor Statistics based on real cost of living factors rather than having some politicians pull a miserly figure out of their hat at election time. If employers don’t like this let them do the work themselves; with the robbery at the pumps it won’t be long before it won’t pay to go to work anyways. What’s Obama’s stand on the minimum wage? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter. We need to seize the initiative and make it clear to him the change we want.

3.) We need to end this dirty war for oil in Iraq; it’s a war that was based upon lies and deceit right from the beginning and it has taken a terrible toll, not only on the people in Iraq, but on us here, too--- to the point where we can say that every bomb dropped and every bullet fired is destroying our society, too. We can’t have a foreign policy which sees wars as solutions to complex problems. As far as I can see Obama doesn’t really offer much change in this area either so we are going to have to take the initiative in charting a course for change as we expect things to be and make our voices heard.

4.) We need to make it clear that in any program aimed at “greening” America through massive government subsidies to business and industry, that what taxpayers finance, taxpayers should own--- including the profits.

5.) Public ownership of the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant needs to be considered. Saving two-thousand jobs is a major priority for Minnesotans in this election.

In the end, we should see ourselves and our unity as the surge for change, and stop waiting for Obama or any other politicians to explain what kind of change they are for.

Change should be about solving real problems. The people experiencing these problems, you and me, should be able to articulate the solutions… this is what real change is about.

In a democracy people are supposed to be active participants in movements for social change, not mere cheerleaders clapping and waving placards for politicians mouthing hollow, meaningless platitudes about “change.”

“Yes we can” bring about “change” if we get together where we work and in our communities.

Once again I would note what President Franklin D. Roosevelt told a group of leaders from the Communist Party USA and the Unemployed Councils during his meeting with them:

"You've convinced me. Now go out and make me do it."
Of course, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was referring to Social Security.

I am confident that we will be seeing Sam Webb elaborating on the class struggle aspect of the 2008 Elections as we go along.

I do think that this posting from another blog, in the best traditions of community organizing, is the direction we need to be moving in very quickly if we intend to build a bridge to the Obama Administration:

Help Make A Grassroots Movement Grow... Starting a grassroots movement for change is as easy as 1, 2, 3, 4...

1. Get your friends and neighbors together around the kitchen table.

2. Discuss the problem.

3. Make up some signs saying:
"We are fed up!"

"Stop the robbery at the pumps!"

"No more wars for oil!"

"Tax oil company profits to pay for health care, education, housing!"

"Boycott Mobil/Exxon/Esso!"

4. Head out with your signs for your neighborhood Mobil/Exxon/Esso gas station/convenience store.

The time has come to serve notice on the oil companies that we are fed up with the robbery at the pumps and we aren't going to take it any more.





One little raindrop doesn't amount to much... but, let it pour and all those little raindrops sure add up... talk to your family, friends, fellow workers and neighbors.

Whenever possible purchase Citgo gas and oil products.

The time has come to consider public ownership and nationalization of the oil industry.

Let's talk about the politics and economics of livelihood.

Some people have intentionally mis-stated my motives in stating my views so openly on these issues.

The right-wing has been pounding away on my blog here for weeks now. Others, who I consider friends, think I should keep my thoughts to myself until after the Election. In all candor, I don't think suppressing ideas is what is called for. I am not going to be bullied from the right; and I am not going to be bullied into silence by those who call themselves "liberals," "progressives," or "left."

As Bob Dylan sang, "The times they are a changin'"... but, the answers, my friends are not blowin' in the wind... we need open dialogue, discussion and debate.
I would encourage everyone to go out and get the two books by Frank Marshall Davis, "Livin' the Blues" and "The Writings of Frank Marshall Davis" from your local public library... and begin a Frank Marshall Davis Roundtable for Change in your neighborhood. This doesn't have to be anything elaborate... sitting on lawn chairs out in the back-yard or gathering in a local coffee shop or restaurant. Think of the Frank Marshall Davis Roundtable for Change as an alternative to the big-business "think-tanks" like the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute or RAND... as working people and community activists and labor and community organizers we need our own think tanks.

In his recent book, "The Age of Turbulence," Alan Greenspan repeatedly points out how important his weekly get-to-gethers with the thoroughly reactionary Ayn Rand were to shaping his thinking, his outlook and developing a strategy for American business to dominate the world. We see, and are experiencing, where we are at today as a result of letting the Alan Greenspans of the country do our thinking for us.
In view of the attacks from the right-wing we shouldn't cower or with-hold our thoughts; as President Franklin D. Roosevelt stated on numerous occasions, and as his wife--- the heroic Eleanor Roosevelt--- continued to say in response to right-wing racist and anti-communist attacks long after President Roosevelt's death:

"We have nothing to fear, but fear itself..."

Madame Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins, a close friend of labor leader Harry Bridges and the first woman secretary ever appointed to such a high-level government position--- appointed Secretary of Labor by President Roosevelt--- was even more forceful in her response to the never-ending, vicious, right-wing attacks emanating from big-business circles, calling Frances Perkin's advocacy of social programs like Social Security and socialized health care "straight from the pages of the Communist Manifesto;" Madame Secretary Perkins courageously responded to these vicious right-wing attacks hurled at her from the likes of the American Medical Association and the Nazi sympathizers like Henry Ford, "I would much rather see these programs as legislation helping people rather than remaining as words on the pages of a pamphlet."

Alan L. Maki

Initiator of the Frank Marshall Davis Roundtable for Change

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