Monday, April 27, 2009

Employee Free Choice Act & Single-payer universal health care

I will keep this post short and to the point.

The Employee Free Choice Act & Single-payer universal health care are both dead.

Killed by the Democrats just like legislation to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and the Minnesota People's Bailout.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Reflections of Fidel: The Summit and the lie


Havana. April 23, 2009

Reflections of Fidel

The Summit and the lie

SOME of the things that Daniel [Ortega, President of Nicaragua]told me would be hard to believe if it was not him who told me them and it was not at a Summit of the Americas where they occurred.

The unusual thing is that there was no such consensus on the final document. The ALBA group did not sign it; that was confirmed in the last exchange with Obama in the presence of Manning and the other leaders in the morning of April 19.

At that meeting, [Hugo] Chávez [President of Venezuela], Evo [Morales, President of Bolivia] and Daniel spoke on the issue with total clarity.

It had seemed to me that Daniel had expressed a bitter complaint when, on the day of the Summit’s opening, he said in his speech: "I think that the time I am taking is far less than that I had to spend – three hours – waiting at the airport inside a plane."

I asked him about that and he told me that six high-level leaders had to wait on the runway: Lula of Brazil, Harper of Canada, Bachelet of Chile, Evo of Bolivia, Calderón of Mexico and himself, the sixth. The reason? In an act of adulation, the organizers decided it that way in order to receive the president of the United States. Daniel remained inside the hot LACSA aircraft for three hours under the radiant sun of the Tropics.

He explained to me the conduct of the principal leaders in the Summit, the fundamental and specific problems of each one of the Latin American and Caribbean countries. He did not seem in any way resentful. He was direct, calm and comprehensive. I recalled the times of Reagan’s dirty war, the thousands of weapons launched against Nicaragua in that context, the tens of thousands of dead, the mining of the ports, the utilization of drugs by the U.S. government in order to get around Congress decisions banning funds to finance that cynical war.

We did not overlook the criminal invasion of Panama ordered by Bush Senior, the horrific El Chorrillo massacre, the thousands of dead Panamanians, the invasion of little Grenada with the complicity of other governors in the region, relatively recent events in the tragic history of our hemisphere.

In each one of those crimes was the hand of the OAS, the principal accomplice of the brutal actions of the great military and economic power against our impoverished peoples.

He informed me of the damage that drug trafficking and organized crime is inflicting on the Central American countries, the trafficking of U.S. weapons, the vast market that impels that activity, so harmful for the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

He told me of the geothermic potential of Central America as a natural resource of great value. He is of the opinion that, in that way, Nicaragua could reach a generation capacity equivalent to two million kilowatt/hours. At present its total electricity generation, including various energy sources, barely amounts to 700,000 kilowatt/hours and power cuts are frequent.

He spoke of Nicaragua’s capacity for producing food, of the price of milk, distributed at one third of what it costs in the United States, although wages in the latter country are dozens of times higher.

Out conversation gravitated around this and other practical issues. At no point did he seem resentful, and far less suggest extremist measures on economic issues. He is well informed and analyzes what can and should be done with great realism.

I explained that many people in our country had not been able to hear his speech given issues of time and the lack of opportune information on the Summit, and for that reason, I was asking him to agree to explain, in a television program, the issues of most interest related to the Summit of the Americas, to a panel made up of three young journalists, which would certainly be of interest to many Latin Americans, Caribbean people, U.S. Americans and Canadians.

Daniel knows of many concrete possibilities for improving the living conditions of the people of Nicaragua, one of the five poorest nations in the hemisphere as a consequence of U.S. interventions and plunder. Obama’s victory pleased him and he observed him closely in the Summit. He did not like his behavior during the meeting. "He was moving everywhere," he told me, "seeking out people who he could influence, putting ideas into their heads with his power and his praises."

Naturally, for an observer at a distance, as was my case, one could observe a concerted strategy to exalt positions closest to U.S. interests and most opposed to policies favoring social change, unity and the sovereignty of our peoples. In my view, the worst thing was to present a declaration supposedly supported by everybody.

The blockade of Cuba was not even mentioned in the Final Declaration and the president of the United States utilized that to justify his actions and cover up his administration’s alleged concessions to Cuba. We could better understand the new president of the United States’ real limitations in terms of introducing changes in his country’s policy toward our homeland, than the use of a lie to justify his actions.

Should we perchance applaud the aggression of our television and radio space, the use of sophisticated technologies to invade that space from great heights and implement the same Bush policy against Cuba? Should we accept the right of the United States to maintain the blockade during a geological period until bringing capitalist democracy to Cuba?

Obama has admitted that the leaders of the Latin America and Caribbean countries are speaking to him all over the place about the services of Cuban doctors but, nevertheless, stated: "…this is a reminder for us in the United States that if our only interaction with many of these countries is drug interdiction, if our only interaction is military, then we may not be developing the connections that can, over time, increase our influence and have -- have a beneficial effect when we need to try to move policies that are of concern to us forward in the region."

In his subconscious mind, Obama understands that Cuba enjoys prestige on account of its doctors in the region, attaching more importance to it than we do ourselves.

Perhaps he hasn’t even been informed that Cuba has sent its doctors, not only to Latin America and the Caribbean, but to countless African countries, Asian countries; in situations of disaster to little islands of Oceania such as Timor Leste and Kiribati, threatened with being left under water if the climate changes; and even offered to send – in a matter of hours – a complete medical brigade to rescue the Katrina victims when a large part of New Orleans was left defenseless under water and many lives could have been saved. Thousands of young people selected from other countries have been trained as doctors in Cuba, tens of thousands more are currently being trained.

But we have not only cooperated in the field of health, also in those of education, sport, science, culture, energy savings, reforestation, environmental protection and others. A number of UN agencies can testify to that.

Something more: the blood of Cuban patriots was spilled in the struggle against the last bastions of colonialism in Africa and the defeat of apartheid, an ally of the United States.

The most important thing of all, Daniel already said it at the Summit, is the total absence of any conditions in the contribution of Cuba, the little island that the United States is blockading.

We did not do what we did seeking influence and support. They were the principles that sustain our struggle and our resistance. The infant mortality rate in Cuba is lower than that of the United States; there has been no illiteracy for a long time; white, black or mixed race children attend school every day, and have equal possibilities of studying, including those who require special education. We have achieved not only justice, but the maximum of justice possible. All the members of the National Assembly are nominated and elected by the people, more than 90% of the population with the right to vote, use their vote.

We have not asked for the capitalist democracy in which you were educated and in which you sincerely and with every right believe.

We do not aspire to export our political system to the United States.

Fidel Castro Ruz
April 22, 2009
12:53 p.m.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fidel Castro: Obama 'misinterpreted' Raul's words

Everyone knew that President Obama lied and intentionally misinterpreted Raul Castro's words.

The question Obama needs to be asked is "why" he lied.

The world deserves an answer from Barack Obama. Not an answer from Obama's public relations people We are entitled to the answer to this question directly from the mouth of Barack Obama. We don't need to have Obama reading from his teleprompter either.

We just got rid of one president who could never tell the truth about anything and now we have another president who can't tell the truth about anything.

Until Obama tells the truth about why he misinterpreted and lied about what Cuban President Raul Castro said no other leader in the world will feel comfortable and confident that they can trust Barack Obama to convey the truth about what they say to the American people.

From Obama's silence while playing on the beaches of Hawaii as thousands of Palestinians were killed and murdered in cold blood by the racist Israeli government to all the lies about the economy to the Obama led U.S. boycott of Durban II we have had nothing but lie after lie after lie from Barack Obama who promised an open and truthful government.

Obama promised change.

Even the lies have not changed.

Where is the change?

We have had one hundred days of lies.

We have had one hundred days of foreclosures and evictions.

We have had another one hundred days without access to health care.

We have had one hundred days of soaring unemployment.

We have had another one hundred days of wars.

During Obama's first one hundred days in office the killing in Gaza has continued.

During these one hundred first days of Barack Obama's presidency the bankers and Wall Street have been bailed out while the people of main street have gotten the shaft.

During these one hundred days global warming has continued without viable solutions even worked on.

I voted for Cynthia McKinney for president because I never believed any of Barack Obama's hype about change.

When will this grassroots constituency that supported Obama demand the change they voted for?

Obama is no friend of working people. Obama works for the wealthy and filthy rich of Wall Street just like George Bush did. Barack Obama lies just like George Bush did too.


Fidel Castro: Obama 'misinterpreted' Raul's words

Apr 22, 7:29 AM (ET)


HAVANA (AP) - Fidel Castro says President Barack Obama "misinterpreted" his brother Raul's remarks regarding the United States and bristled at the suggestion that Cuba should free political prisoners or cut taxes on remittances from abroad as a goodwill gesture to the U.S.

Raul Castro touched off a whirlwind of speculation last week that the U.S. and Cuba could be headed toward a thaw in nearly a half-century of chilly relations. The speculation began when the Cuban president said leaders would be willing to sit down with their U.S. counterparts and discuss "everything," including human rights, freedom of the press and expression, and political prisoners on the island.

Obama responded at the Summit of the Americas by saying Washington seeks a new beginning with Cuba, but he also said Sunday that Cuba should release some political prisoners and reduce official taxes on remittances sent to the island from the U.S.

That appeared to enrage Fidel Castro, 82, who wrote in an essay posted on a government Web site that Obama "without a doubt misinterpreted Raul's declarations."

The former president appeared to be throwing a dose of cold water on growing expectations for improved bilateral relations - suggesting Obama had no right to dare suggest that Cuba make even small concessions. He also seemed to suggest too much was being made of Raul's comments about discussing "everything" with U.S. authorities.

"Affirming that the president of Cuba is ready to discuss any topic with the president of the United States expresses that he's not afraid to broach any subject," Fidel Castro wrote of his 77-year-old brother, who succeeded him as president 14 months ago.

"It's a sign of bravery and confidence in the principles of the revolution," he said, referring to the rebel uprising that toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista and brought the Castros to power on New Year's Day 1959.

"Nobody should assume that he was talking about pardoning those sentenced in March 2003 and sending all of them to the United States, if the country were willing to liberate the five Cuban anti-terrorist heroes," Castro wrote.

He was referring to 75 leading political opposition leaders who were rounded up and imprisoned six years ago. Some 54 of them remain behind bars, though Raul Castro suggested last year that Cuba would be willing to liberate some political prisoners if U.S. authorities would free five Cuban spies.

Castro compared the prisoners arrested in 2003 to exiles who attacked the island's southern coast during the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and said they were "at the service of a foreign power that threatens and blockades our country," referring to charges they conspired with Washington to destabilize the communist system.

The ex-president had previously expressed his admiration for Obama, but this time Castro blasted the new U.S. president for showing signs of "superficiality."

He also defended Cuba's right to levy a 10 percent fee on every U.S. dollar sent to relatives on the island by Cuban-Americans, saying if the money arriving from abroad "is in dollars, all the more reason we should do it because it is the currency of the country that blockades us."

All top Cuban leaders routinely call the 47-year-old trade embargo against this country a blockade.

"Not all Cubans have family members overseas that send remittances," Castro said, adding that Cuba uses the revenue from fees on exchanging dollars to provide free health care, education and subsidized food to all of its population.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chicken Shit Patriots

This posting from Alan Maki tells us everything we need to know about the Chicken Shit Patriots and half-baked fascists organizing the "Tea Party" movement across this country and right here in Minnesota.

I don't participate in E-Democracy. This is just a bunch of Democrats trying to manipulate and control the public's thinking.

Chicken Shit Patriots.

I love it!


This post by right-wing bigot Nancy L. LaRoche to the "e-democracy forum" pretty much tells us the truth behind all the statements coming from the two-bit, half-assed fascist right-wing talk radio big-mouths who host these programs that somehow these teabaggers are putting on some kind of "non-partisan" events open to all who decry wasteful government spending.

Check out this response to me very closely because the truth is in what Nancy L. LaRoche posted in opposition to what I posted.

Here is what I posted which she is responding to:

Alan wrote: "Yes, you want people to attend your "Tea Party" rallies but you exclude those with a left view from speaking... wow! Real democratic.

Invite me to speak; I'll be there."

Now, notice what she says:

Alan: Do you leftist protesters pass their bullhorns and allow the other side to speak at their rallies?

This is a very frank admission that only those from the right side of the political spectrum are welcome at these "Tea Parties."

This statement here makes Mitch Berg, Chris Baker, Shawn Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the chicken shit patriot crowd so eager to send others off to kill and die in these dirty imperialist wars being waged for control of the oil fields and gas pipeline routes along with regional domination and control of the poppy and heroin trade nothing but outright liars afraid to defend their fascist, racist, warmongering, pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist ideas. They lie when they say these "Tea Parties" were organized by "concerned citizens" from grassroots, when, in fact, these right-wing bigots and blowhards of talk radio have organized these "Tea Parties" for two reasons: 1.) As promotional publicity stunts to promote the now largely discredited right-wing talk radio; and, 2.) To try to move the country firther to the right THAN WHAT BARACK OBAMA, THE DEMOCRATS AND THE WALL STREET CROWD are already trying to take us. Make no mistake, Barack Obama is not liberal, progressive or left in any sense of the meaning of these words... Obama is definitely not a "socialist" as these racist, bigots of right-wing talk radio of are charging.

In other words, the teabaggers are not going to allow me (or any known "leftist" to address their Tax Day Rallies with the message that military spending is wasteful government spending.

The organizers of these "Tea Parties" do not want people hearing the truth that the most excessive, wasteful government spending is for wars and militarism.

These right-wing blow-hards like Mitch Berg are afraid to have me addressing their crowds saying things like:

The United States government, dominated by Wall Street bankers and coupon clippers, is wasting trillions upon trillions of dollars of tax-payer monies borrowed from Wall Street bankers to finance a vast and far-flung network of over 800 U.S. military bases on foreign soil dotting all parts of the globe instead of building 800 public health care centers right here in the United States providing free health care from cradle to grave for everyone.

Now, this self-avowed, Bircher--- this two-bit, half-assed fascist--- Nancy L. LaRoche declares that I have denied people with differing viewpoints from my own the right to speak at anti-war rallies.

This is another outright and brazen two-faced lie and she is well aware she is a liar in making this statement.

I have never in my life prevented anyone--- from any political perspective or persuasion--- with an anti-war view to speak at any anti-war rally.

To the extent it has been within my power (as one vote on a committee), I have never allowed anyone with a pro-war view to speak at an anti-war rally.

Why would I give consideration to anyone with a pro-war view to speak at an "anti-war rally?" Only a complete idiot and fool like this Birchite, Nancy L. LaRoche, would make such a statement... it is up to her and her warmongering friends who support these wars but never go off to fight them to organize their own "pro-war rallies."

However, I have organized (and participated as a debater in debates I had no part in organizing) dozens of debates all over Minnesota--- some ninety debates, in fact--- prior to the start of the war in Iraq, around the question and issue:

Should the United States Government Go To War in Iraq?

Participants in these debates, generally consisted of two or three pro and con views. As the main organizer of these debates across Minnesota I did not seek out and select participants according to my personal left-wing views. In fact, these debates included retired military people--- both pro and con--- on the question and the issue. In fact, there were even some right-wing talk show hosts who participated in these debates--- several times as the moderators. Not once was I ever accused of stacking these debates. And not once was the discourse anything but cordial. I would note, the bigots and the Birchites did condemn these debates because they included the anti-war view! You see, these two-bit, half-assed fascists do not believe in democracy or any concept of democracy. To them, democracy is only them getting out their views. These is an obviously perverted view of democracy; the same perverted view of democracy that almost thoroughly permeates right-wing talk radio--- with a very few notable exceptions of those who hold genuinely conservative views but welcome all other views into the "battle of ideas in our modern world."

Nancy L. LaRoche intentionally tries to blend "debate" with demonstrations and rallies. She does this intentionally as do all of her bigoted friends because they know that people get their ideas together when they hear the many sides to these complex and complicated questions in the process of public and democratic debate--- and, then, after formulating opinions based upon what they believe to be the best information they can gather; from this informed position they go out a try to convince others to rally and demonstrate with them to try to move government, corporations or whatever in the direction they think society should be moving.

But, where has the debate been on the Obama/Wall Street agenda?

In fact, there has been no debate.

In fact, the "left" which our bigoted, Birchite friend Nancy L. LaRoche so bemoans, has had no voice what-so-ever in a debate, which I would remind the reader, has largely been an attack on socialism.

Denying a voice to the adherents of the socialist viewpoint and perspective under these circumstances can hardly pass for democracy.

By Nancy L. LaRoche's own words here, these "Tea Party" and tax-protests are nothing more than right-wing rallies; her own words give lie to the words of those like Mitch Berg, Chris Baker, Shawn Hannity and Rush Limbaugh along with the "fair and unbiased" FOX news crew that these rallies are anything but anti-communist, pro-war and pro-corporate bash the working class and attack the rest of the world rallies.

That two-bit, half-assed fascists from both the Republican and Democratic Parties participate in these rallies does not mean these rallies are open to all who oppose wasteful government spending; it means that those on the right from both political parties support and sponsor--- and exclude--- anyone not right-wing from participation.

After all, when you openly state as Nancy L. LaRoche has done that "leftists for peace" are excluded; here in the state of Minnesota you are excluding a good 40% of the population.

And, if you are "not going to pass the bullhorn" to leftists to speak about their concerns about inappropriate government spending no one, not Mitch Berg or Chris Baker or Shawn Hannity or Rush Limbaugh, can make the claim they are speaking for all Americans... they are speaking for a very, very narrow slice of America... perhaps 3% to 4% of the population... no more than this.

But, here we are supposedly talking about bringing people of "all political persuasions together" in these Tea Parties who are opposed to "government waste."

Are these "Tea Parties" also "pro-war parties and rallies?" If we listen to Nancy L. LaRoche they really are.

Not only do the American people have to ask:

Where is the change?

We also have to ask:

Where are the debates on these issues?

Nancy L. LaRoche knew better than to demand the microphone at an anti-war rally because she was pro-war.

In her small little demented and perverted mind, patriotism is equated with being pro-war. Waving a flag is equated with being pro-war. That she convinced someone to put down a peace sign and hold the American flag tells us absolutely nothing... did she convince that person to become pro-war? No. And she knows it. That person waved the American flag to demonstrate that peace is patriotic, and war is unpatriotic.

I'm not a "flag-waver" but I will stand my patriotism for this country up against the chicken shit patriotism of these right-wing bigots hosting these Fox radio programs any day... and it they who run from the challenge of debating these issues.

That they can convince a few stupid fools like Nancy L. LaRoche to join them tells us everything we need to know about this perverted crowd of "teabaggers."

Nancy L. LaRoche tells us that she and her friends "don't bite." However, they sure want to give the working class a good "teabagging."

Teabaggers have more in common with the "steal the land from the Indians," pro-slavery, pro-Hitler crowd than with the sons and daughters of the American Revolution and Tom Paine and Benjamin Franklin or Thomas Jefferson.

Again, I reiterate my suggestion for real--- face-to-face--- debates in every city where the teabaggers are planning their events... come on Nancy L. LaRoche, your idols Mitch Berg and Chris Baker refuse to debate me... let's me and you tour these sixteen cities debating the issues involved... let's me and you debate what constitutes wasteful government spending...

bak, bak, bak, baaakkk, bak, bak, baakk, baaakkkkk, bak, bak.

No doubt Hitler was a "teabagger," just like Mitch Berg and Chris Baker in every sense of the word.

Something to think about around the dinner table--- if you can keep from gagging.

Yours in the struggle,

Alan L. Maki

From a posting to "e-democracy" to which the "moderator," Rick Mons, would not allow me the above response.

The posting was from: Nancy L LaRoche Date: 07:23 CDT Short link

Alan Maki wrote:

"Yes, you want people to attend your "Tea Party" rallies but you
exclude those with a left view from speaking... wow! Real democratic.

Invite me to speak; I'll be there."

Alan: Do you leftist protesters pass their bullhorns and allow the other side
to speak at their rallies?
I've attended some anti-war protests and had great
conversations with those opposed to my views. I didn't demand the microphone.
In fact, at one three years ago I made friends with a homeless Native American
who was given an anti-war sign to carry. After we talked for a while, he put
his sign down and picked up a flag. That's what democracy is - the right to
have differing opinions and discuss openly with others. You seem to want to
dismiss and shut up those who disagree.

Come out and talk with us May 2. Try to understand our side face to face.
Again, we don't bite.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Poor babies

Wealth-Less Effect: Earning Well, Feeling Otherwise
by Gary Fields
Monday, April 20, 2009
provided by

Proposed Tax Increases on Six-Figure Earners Highlight Mounting Costs of Living -- and the Relativity of Prosperity

Ellen Parnell and her husband, Donald Parnell Jr., seem like the kind of well-off couple President Barack Obama has in mind when he suggests raising taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year. A surgeon at Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center in Sevierville, Tenn., he drives an Infiniti. They vacation at a beach resort every year.

Yet, right now he is working seven days a week. The car is more than a decade old, the vacation home in Sandestin, Fla., comes at a moderate weekly rate because members of Ms. Parnell's extended family own it. Her family of five would like more room than they have in their 2,500-square-foot home, yet they can't afford anything larger. The downturn has them skittish about paying for renovations.

"I'm not complaining, but the reality is Obama may call me wealthy, but I thought we were just good old middle class," says Ms. Parnell. "Our needs are being met, but we don't have a load of cash to cover wants."

It is a tricky situation in which some Americans find themselves after a long boom: They are by no means struggling, compared with the 98% of Americans who make far less, but depending on where they live and the lifestyle choices they have made, they don't necessarily feel rich, either. Worse, in their view, they are facing the same tax rates as those making millions. Some of the expenses are self-inflicted -- like private-school costs and conspicuous consumption. Others, though, are unavoidable, like child-care costs, larger health-care deductibles and education expenses, especially college.

Under Mr. Obama's budget proposal, two of the highest tax brackets would see rates rise, and deductions would be reduced for households earning more than $250,000 annually. President Obama said Wednesday, "We've made a clear promise that families that earn less than $250,000 will not see their taxes increase by a single dime."

By any statistical measure, that income level is at the top of the bracket. But for those closest to the line, the money might be less a sign of affluence than it is of the industry of dual-income couples. It is possible, say observers, that veteran civil servants could fall into the higher tax bracket.

The political calculation is dicey. The White House needs the additional revenue to cover some of its ambitious policy agenda, especially a health-care revamp. But some polling data suggest households that earn above $200,000 went heavily for Mr. Obama in November.

Until more details of the tax changes are disclosed, it is unclear whether people making big six-figure sums will be affected at all. They may, for example, be able to avoid tax increases if any number of deductions pull them below the threshold. But that isn't stopping those who earn near the threshold from worrying about it.

Already, many members of Congress are seeking to scale back some of the proposed tax increases, which call for raising the top federal tax rates to 36% from 33% on households earning $250,000 or above.

Wealth and comfort "depends on where you're coming from," said Lois Avitt, a sociologist and founding director of the Institute for Socio-Financial Studies in Charlottesville, Va. To a family earning $50,000, $250,000 is well off, but for the family earning $250,000, rising college and medical costs and dropping home values make the perception debatable.

The reasons for the insecurity are that net worth is declining at the same time that expenses like education and health care, two of the biggest concerns cited by members of that income group, are going up faster than wages and income, says Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. "Those are the biggies. They are huge parts of the set of middle-class aspirations, and the prices of those have increased way faster than income." The bursting of the housing bubble makes that more stark.

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's, says data show that over the last 10 years, education costs have risen 5.91% annually, and health- care expenses have gone up 4.16% annually, while wages and income have risen only 3.7% over the same time span. That means many families are seeing a greater percentage of their income going toward those two areas.

Education costs, which are far outstripping wages and income, are especially worrisome for this income bracket because upper-income earners are much less likely to receive the kind of financial aid that lower income levels can expect.

The drop in net worth has been staggering. The Federal Reserve, in a recent report, found that U.S. households' net worth dropped by $11 trillion, a decline of nearly 18%, during 2008. That wealth includes everything from home values to mutual funds and life insurance, college and pension funds. The decline equaled the combined output of Germany, Japan and the U.K.

Changes to the tax code don't generally make adjustments for high costs of living in particular areas of the country.

San Jose, Calif., Mayor Chuck Reed calls a family living in Silicon Valley earning $250,000 "upper working class." That is about what two engineers working at a technology firm can expect to make, but "a family earning $250,000 a year can't buy a home in Silicon Valley," he said.

James Duran owns a human-resources company in Silicon Valley and is president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in California. He supported Mr. Obama, but is worried about the tax proposals. He has laid off some employees in recent months and has been wondering how he can fund an extension of those workers' health-care benefits.

Mr. Duran said he and his wife earn about $400,000 annually, but "I'm barely getting by." They have high property and state taxes, as well as college tuition and savings to cover. "I'm an Obama man, but this side of him is a difficult pill for me," he said.

Van Moore, an optometrist in Sevierville, makes just enough in his practice that he worries he might qualify for the tax increase. Mr. Moore said he was contemplating adding two staff workers and another doctor to his practice, but then the economy went soft. In the years after he finished optometry school, his first job brought in less than $20,000 a year. Then he made $50,000 for several years, all the while dealing with his $150,000 student-loan debt, which he still has. Now he is making just above $250,000.

"I'm not in a mobile home with no utilities or running water and holes in the floor," he said. "I'm not poor, but I'm not rich."

For the Parnells, their perception of themselves is based on the math. The value of their house is down $60,000. Ms. Parnell says the couple's gross income last year was about $260,000. Taxes, premiums for medical care and deductions for Social Security and their 401(k) contributions cut the gross to about $12,000 per month. The family tithes $1,300 a month at their church. Their mortgage, second mortgage and payment on land they bought is nearly $4,000 a month. Other expenses, including their family car payment, insurance and college funds, as well as basics like food, utilities and donations to charities, leave them with about $1,200 left over each month.

"I'm not after sympathy. We are blessed. What I want is a reality check on what rich means," Ms. Parnell says. "I can pay my mortgage and I can buy some clothes. I'm not going without, but I'm not living a life of luxury."

Write to Gary Fields at

Copyrighted, Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I don't know how Alan Maki does it...

But somehow he has a way of putting into writing what many people are thinking.

I wish I would have said this myself.

Marc Asch is a Democratic Party booster. Alan Maki has responded to him brilliantly.

I can't wait to see if Marc Asch responds because I am certain Maki will fire right back.


Note: I decided to add a few things since my post yesterday apparently didn’t go through.

Marc Asch wrote:

This is a very imprecise and confusing discussion of IRV.

The party process of endorsement, not nomination, is one that requires a

super majority of 60% to win. The nomination process is through the

primary which requires a plurality of votes cast.

Using IRV in the party process, I think would make an already Byzantine

process only more so.

Using IRV in the general election process as way to fix perceived

problems with the party process is inviting unintended consequences.

I have listened to IRV for decades now and I think it is primarily

attractive to people who want third party candidates to have a chance

win or influence electoral outcomes.

I do not think that we have seen in this race makes any argument for

IRV. Can you just image how longer the process would be taking if the

election officials at every level were trying to determine voter intent

on multiple levels?


Marc Asch

34 North Oaks Road 651-484-9037

North Oaks, MN 55127

"Democracy is not a spectator sport."

Craig S. Wilson

Marc Asch

If too many political parties/candidates complicate matters too much, I would suggest that the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party just withdraw from the political scene since it does nothing for working people anyways.

We see from history that when there is a political party like the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party bringing forward real solutions to the problems of working people that the Democratic and Republican parties become minor players in the political process.

I find it intriguing that so many other countries around the world much less technologically advanced cope very well with dozens of political parties and I don't hear people in these countries clamoring to become "two-party" systems; nor do I see chaos of any kind.

Yes, there is the fear that 90% of those who have been drawn into voting for the Democratic Party claiming "one big tent" will abandon the Democratic Party en masse should we break free from the two-party trap which stifles democracy and robs people of the opportunity to vote their consciences.

During times of great crises, like we are in now, people begin to insist on real alternatives as they seek out solutions to this mess that only the wealthy had a part in creating.

In 1932 there were five candidates running for governor: Communist, Democratic, Farmer-Labor, Industrial and Republican... socialist Floyd B. Olson won--- capturing more votes than all the other parties combined!

In 1936 the Democrats didn’t even dare challenge socialist Elmer Benson for Governor because his support was so overwhelming.

Communist John Bernard, running on the Farmer-Labor ticket for Congress from the Iron Range in 1936, trounced all his opposition.

I can see why some people might be fearful of another socialist party like the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party coming on the scene during a period of severe economic depression, not unlike the 1930's--- maybe even worse since the bottom is still out of sight.

But, fearing the results a third party may have on the future of the Democratic Party is no reason to stifle democracy and strap the people into a straightjacket where the political process is concerned by limiting their choices of participation and at the polls--- the more the merrier; everyone should have the opportunity to vote their conscience and views.

There isn't any difference between Norm Coleman the Republican, from Norm Coleman the Democrat--- he just switched parties but not his thinking or views; and there is no real difference between Coleman and Franken as far as working people are concerned.

Franken has pledged to support Obama.


Where's the change?

What we need in this country is a good solid labor-based political party built by the rank-and-file from the grassroots up to begin resolving the real problems working people face.

With Obama we are getting:

* Saddled with three costly wars with so many needless deaths and the horrendous destruction of it all; no one wants any of these wars... all being fought with no moral justification.

* No single-payer universal health care which DFL State convention delegates supported by a very wide margin as do most Americans.

* Obama bailing out the bankers instead of Main Street.

* Obama bailing out the auto industry when we could have bought up the entire auto industry for less than the cost of the bailout and tax-payers would own something with which tremendous wealth could have been created while producing for the common good instead of corporate profits for the few.

Obviously, the steel industry is impatiently waiting in line for a bailout, too.

Obama has supported the largest military budget in human history which includes funding for over 800 U.S. foreign military bases dotting the globe; when, instead, we should be building 800 public health care centers strategically scattered across the United States to universally serve the health care needs of all the people from cradle to grave.

Any government that can spend this kind of money to fight wars and prop up two-bit dictators all over the world certainly can provide free health care for its citizens; yet all we are hearing from Obama and the Democrats (including Al Franken) is about "affordable health care;" like people unemployed by the millions and being foreclosed and evicted from homes they can't afford to heat can "afford" another bill for health care.

Obama and the Democrats are ignoring this country's problems, and in failing to address these problems from unemployment to poverty wages and home foreclosures/evictions, this is giving rise to a very scary and powerful extremely racist, right-wing backlash which now threatens to regain a majority in Congress in the next election because Obama and the Democrats have left people stranded without any hope; there has been no change.

By his own words, and those words of leading Democrats, Franken would be one more gung-ho vote for Obama and his policies which are clearly in league with Wall Street bankers and coupon clippers and the merchants of death and destruction.

When we asked Al Franken at the Labor Day event in Duluth if he had a solution for saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant... he ignored our question as a rolled around on the ground with my dog Fred.

I can understand why you are so afraid of third parties; they might actually present Minnesotans with some real alternatives... obviously, Obama has been no alternative to Bush; and, Franken, since he states unequivocally that he will be one more slobbering Obama booster, offers no alternative to the Republicans, either.

Again, I ask the question millions of Americans are now asking: Where's the change?

Right now, few people have hope.

People had high expectations after hearing "change you can believe in," "yes we can" and grandiose speeches all about the politics of "hope" for over two years.

Now people are asking:

Where's the change?

In the final analysis voting in Minnesota is a very corrupt political process no matter how one views the process.

Just about every single problem now in front of us could have been avoided if the Secretary of State had done his job and trained all the county election officials properly in how to educate voters as they cast their ballots. It is the epitome of arrogance born of the very corrupt and undemocratic process of the two-party system which has created this mess and not any excesses of democracy implied by Mr. Asch.

Why shouldn’t those who want a real choice by way of third, fourth, fifth, sixth or more parties be upset with the current state of affairs strangling democracy. It is unfortunate that Mr. Asch views expanding democracy by giving more parties and candidates equal access to the ballot as “Byzantine;” I would think he would welcome the challenge of other parties which would force all parties to actually say something about things for a change rather than simply producing cute sound bites for television, radio and newspaper advertisements.

Had both Franken and Coleman had a real challenge from the left we would probably have seen a much different outcome in this race. It is unfortunate that Priscilla Lord-Farris did not run as an independent because then we would have all gotten a chance to see and hear a politician who really cares about people and helping to solve their problems.

Anyone can see the game being played by both the Democrats and the Republicans--- they throw a bunch of ringers into the primary races who all “pledge” to support the victor at the convention and the one with the most money to spend wins while both parties get the luxury of having the “ringers” say to their followers, “we tried, it didn’t work; we need to now get in line behind our party’s candidate.” We had a good example of this with Jack Nelson Palmer… his only job was to try to keep the left-wing from bolting the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. We haven’t seen Jack Nelson-Palmeyer at a single hearing on the legislation to save the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant, the “Minnesota People’s Bailout,” and he has never spoken a single word in defense of the 40,000 casino workers employed in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state or federal labor laws even though he boasted to the world that he had received the support “of the real Norma Rae.”

Very clever; a great system that plays us all for suckers and fools while our problems go unresolved because Democrats and Republicans are controlled lock, stock and barrel by the corporate lobbyists… and Mr. Asch has the nerve to say that those of us seeking alternatives to this two-party trap will only make “Byzantine” political process more so? I don’t know how having any other parties involved could create a more complex, complicated, dirty underhanded system then what exists at present.

I am glad that Mr. Asch recognizes that the present system is “complex, complicated and underhanded;” certainly nothing to suggest that it is worth protecting and saving. And these are Mr. Asch’s own words since he chose to use the word “Byzantine.”

Mr. Asch has seen fit to assess what motivates those who are pushing IRV… no doubt Mr. Asch has a vested interest in keeping other parties out of the political process because he is trying to protect and defend Democrats from being challenged.

Alan L. Maki

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Global steel industry awaits auto turnaround as layoffs on the Iron Range mount and MN DFL twiddles thumbs

Statement of the Iron Range Club of the Communist Party, USA

Barack Obama in an Easter Sunday holiday message had the nerve to lie to the American people about the nature of the economic depression we are in. Obama said he sees "glimmers of hope."

We ask: Where are the "glimmers of hope?"

Obama has not been to the Iron Range.

We ask: Where's the change?

Here on the Iron Range there are no "glimmers of hope;" only the despair that accompanies growing growing joblessness and dire poverty making the Iron Range, what Alan Maki has referred to "the Appalachia of the North with the same pits, pollution and poverty."

The economic situation and social conditions are worsening by the day on the Iron Range as working class families are now experiencing dire economic straits our grand parents tell us they have not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930's.

We and our grand parents were assured such conditions would never come about again.

We were told that Karl Marx was wrong. We were told that the capitalist system could be managed by flaky, weirdos like John Maynard Keynes and Alan Greenspan.

This generation was assured by the best paid economists Wall Street could buy that this generation would never live through an economic depression where the capitalist system collapses.

Yet, today, all economic indicators--- contrary to Barack Obama seeing "glimmers of hope," are pointing to the worst depression ever along with all the misery for working people such a catastrophe will most certainly entail as this "ball continues to drop" if we don't push back against Wall Street, and push back hard.

Larry Summers, Director of the National Economic Council--- Barack Obama's chief economic adviser--- describes the economy like a "ball dropping from the table that has not stopped falling."

Something is terribly wrong with this entire scenario. We are being played for suckers and fools as if we do not have the brains or capacity to reason and think.

Vice-president Joe Biden stated months ago that he and Obama are trying to "dropkick the ball." Here we are, months later, with Larry Summers telling us "the ball is still dropping" and hasn't even touched the ground yet.

Key to Obama's lies is that he continues to state economic troubles were caused by the "crisis in the housing market." This is an outright lie. The housing market, sabotaged by a bunch of greedy crooks not of which one has been prosecuted to date as millions of people lose their homes, is part of the problem; part of the problem contributing to the main problem. But not the primary source of the problem that Barack Obama and his over-paid economic advisers are well aware of but refuse to acknowledge because to do so would expose the capitalist system for what it has become: rotten to the core.

The present crises the capitalist economic system is experiencing is the direct result of the corporate assault on the standard-of-living of the working class that has been well underway in this country for over thirty years, and Wall Street has intensified this assault on the working class over the last eight years of Republican domination over our lives while Democrats sat back like cowards and did nothing.

The problem is one from which the capitalist economic system cannot escape:

Workers not being paid enough to purchase back what they have produced. Most working people in the United States have been receiving poverty wages; unable to purchase even the minimal basic necessities required to live decent lives.

Capitalist exploitation is THE PROBLEM. Capitalists stealing the wealth created by the working class is the source of this economic mess.

Common sense tells us that if the wealth created by the many is being constantly stolen by the rich few there is going to be severe economic problems down the road; we are now at the end of that road.

High-paid corrupt union leaders like Leo Gerard, Ron Gettelfinger and John Sweeney have worked in cahoots with big-business in forcing concession after concession from the very workers whose dues are paying their big fat salaries when they should have been putting the unions' resources into organizing the unorganized. Instead, they plowed union dues into supporting Barack Obama and the Democrats who are now kicking workers in the head while down on the ground.

How else can one explain taking away the homes of working people who are jobless and going hungry?

A moratorium on all foreclosures and evictions should have been and still is the NUMBER ONE requirement needed by hard-hit workers. This is so basic to common human decency we Communists should not even have to be stating this.

Minnesota Senator David Tomassoni could not even get the vote of one single Democrat in support of "the Minnesota People's Bailout." And the United Steel Workers and United Auto Workers unions are pumping money into getting these servants of the Chamber of Commerce, the mining, auto, banking and power industries elected!

If Senator Tomassoni and any other DFL'ers who consider themselves "progressive" don't see the need to leave the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party after this (first it was betrayal and sell-out on saving the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant) now these same rotten Democrats have defeated "the Minnesota People's Bailout" which would have halted foreclosures and evictions so widespread across the Iron Range and the rest of the state and the entire country.

Now these same Democrats are kicking the living daylights out of the working class at every opportunity; not missing an opportunity to kick workers in the head. Case in point: the auto workers; and miners right here on the Iron Range.

No two unions did more to help elect Barack Obama and the Democrats than the United Steel Workers union (USW) and the United Auto Workers union (UAW).

Steel workers and auto workers are now getting kicked in the head by Barack Obama and the Democrats without any help from the Republicans.

What does this tell us about the two-party system?

It should tell us what Communist Party leaders William Z. Foster and Gus Hall said over and over again:

Labor needs its own political party.

The time has come for working people to get up off the ground and fight back.

Since the labor "leadership" is not willing to fight back; the rank-and-file is going to have to stand up and slug it out with these corrupt and wholly incompetent labor leaders, the Democratic Party and Wall Street.

Military recruiters are not shy about walking into our public schools trying convince our children to go fight Barack Obama's dirty imperialist wars.

A third of the ore that has been taken from the ground on the Range has gone into wars and militarism as our children die in these senseless wars that Barack Obama said were "stupid" when he wanted our votes.

Barack Obama and the Democrats are not as eager to solve our problems as they are to ship our kids off to war.

In fact, to a large extent the social and economic problems we are experiencing are directly related to these dirty imperialist wars.

As Alan Maki has pointed out, we need "800 public health care centers spread out across the United States instead of over 800 U.S. military bases dotting the globe."

On this Easter Sunday, we on the Iron Range don't see Barack Obama's "glimmers of hope."

The steel and auto industries need to be nationalized and brought under public ownership and the democratic control of the people.

We will not get a "people's bailout" until we organize some kind of "people's lobby" as part of a "massive people's front" in the struggle for an end to foreclosures and evictions and a legislated minimum wage that is a real living wage directly based upon and tied to all cost-of-living factors.

Polls now show the American people have completely lost confidence in capitalism.

The same polls demonstrate that the time is now to place socialism on the table; socialism is the only way working people are ever going to get out of this economic mess.

The time has come for working people to create a people's political party to challenge the monopolies for power, and put us on the high road to peace and jobs through socialism.

We ask Barack Obama and the lying, warmongering Democrats: Where's the change?

As the article below points out, the steel and auto industries are the key to any healthy economy.

We ask: Does anyone see any indication of these two industries ever recovering again under capitalism?

China bailed is out and saved thousands of jobs for us here on the Iron Range.

Now that Chinese "leaders" have betrayed their people like union "leaders" here and jumped in bed with Wall Street after having been sold a bill of goods by Alan Greenspan, the CATO Institute and the Heritage Foundation that capitalist markets could provide a "quick fix" to their problems there is no place else for us to look other than to our own strength which comes through our own working class unity in getting out from under this mess.

Make no mistake, this economic mess was made by Wall Street capitalists in their never-ending drive for profits; there is no reason for the working class to have to shoulder the burden by way of being driven into poverty to get these vultures and parasites out of this mess that they created.

The corporate CEO's and bankers who created this mess are walking away with multi-million dollar "unemployment checks"--- our tax-dollars; and Barack Obama and the Democrats who expect our votes can't even come up with unemployment checks for workers from time of unemployment until time of re-employment as part of a "people's bailout." This is a disgrace.

We ask: Where's the change?

Since working people are called upon to solve the problems we had no part in creating, we need to resolve these problems in a way that benefits the working class by improving the lives of working class families and not Wall Street pigs gorging themselves at the public trough provided courtesy of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party at our expense.

Again, we ask Barack Obama and the Democrats: Where's the change?

In response to those still saying: "Give Obama a chance;" we say:

Join the Communist Party.

Join the fight for peace and jobs through socialism.

Iron Range Club, CPUSA

Global steel industry awaits auto turnaround

PARIS (AFP) – Steel is on edge and the global industry is cutting back hard, hanging on for either a budget blast from China, new credit for vast Middle Eastern building schemes or resurrection of the US auto industry.

Demand has dwindled and steelmakers, notably the giant of them all, ArcelorMittal, are damping down surplus furnace capacity while waiting for credit to flow, construction cranes to turn and factories to roll.

A decision by ArcelorMittal last week to pursue temporary production cutbacks, slashing European output by more than half from the end of April according to a union source, dramatises the extraordinary ride and role of steel in the last few years.

In just months the global industry has gone from a boom driven largely by China, emerging markets and a property extravaganza in the Middle East to a narrow line between excess capacity and the costs of waiting for recovery.

"Over the past six months, demand for steel has dropped dramatically and, as a result, producers have been cutting production," analysts at Barclays Capital said in a study last week.

In another report, Morgan Stanley predicted "the current demand shock to lead to excess steel capacity."

Consequently, the bank said, steel plants should operate at rates below 75 percent of capacity until 2012.

"The steel market is not very different from base metals as a whole, but steel has reacted more rapidly and dramatically since September," said commodities analyst Perrine Faye of London-based FastMarkets.

She said the future of the steel industry depended on three factors -- the impact of Chinese economic stimulus efforts, a pick-up in the Middle East construction sector and a revival of the once mighty US auto industry.

"Chinese imports and exports are at a standstill. Everyone is waiting for the Chinese stimulus package to see if it will revive demand."

The Chinese government last month announced a four-trillion-yuan (580-billion-dollar) package of measures that it said could contribute 1.5 to 1.9 percent to the country's economic growth.

Industry experts have meanwhile spoken optimistically of China's prospects.

Thomas Albanese, chief executive at steel maker Rio Tinto, said earlier this year that the company foresaw "a short, sharp slowdown in China, with demand rebounding over the course of 2009, as the fundamentals of Chinese economic growth remain sound."

Analysts have said steel inventories are falling in China in anticipation of projects expected to emerge from the country's huge stimulus package.

"It is encouraging that the inventory of steel products, especially long products, which are mostly used in construction projects, have started to fall (since the end of March), likely suggesting that end-demand is gathering momentum," Frank Gong, a Hong Kong-based economist for JPMorgan, wrote in a research note.

On-the-ground evidence suggested that the Chinese industry had been re-stocking in the first two months of the year, followed by a pause in March before major infrastructure projects were expected to start in the second quarter, Gong wrote.

In the Middle East, according to Faye, the big problem is a shortage of credit, notably for real estate developers and builders.

Construction planners had "counted on a higher price for oil and on credit to finance their huge projects."

In addition, demand for such facilities, especially in the Gulf, has died.

"They were hoping that Americans and Europeans would buy apartments. But property prices have collapsed in the Middle East as well."

In the United Arab Emirates more than half the building projects, worth 582 billion dollars or 45 per cent of the total value of the construction sector, have been put on hold, a study by Dubai-based market research group Proleads found in February.

In Dubai, one of the states of the UAE, prices in the real estate sector have slumped by an average of 25 percent from their peak in September after rallying 79 percent in the 18 months to July 2008, according to Morgan Stanley.

Faye said the fate of the steel sector was in addition tied to that of the struggling US auto industry, once a thriving steel market but one in which two of its giant players, General Motors and Chrysler, are staring at bankruptcy.

The two companies are currently limping along thanks to billions of dollars in government aid.

"We are waiting to see if the auto sector in the US will get out of the crisis intact," she said.