Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Afghans unimpressed by Obama's troops surge
Wed Dec 2, 2009
Afghans unimpressed by Obama's troops surge

By Sayed Salahuddin
KABUL (Reuters) – Thirty thousand more U.S. troops for Afghanistan? Esmatullah only shrugged.

"Even if they bring the whole of America, they won't be able to stabilize Afghanistan," said the young construction worker out on a Kabul street corner on Wednesday morning. "Only Afghans understand our traditions, geography and way of life."

U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement of a massive new escalation of the eight-year-old war seemed to have impressed nobody in the Afghan capital, where few watched the speech on TV before dawn and fewer seemed to think new troops would help.

Obama said his goal was to "disrupt, dismantle and defeat" al Qaeda in Afghanistan and "reverse theTaliban's momentum."

The extra U.S. forces, and at least 5,000 expected from other NATO allies, would join 110,000 Western troops already in the country in an effort to reverse gains made by the Islamist militants, at their strongest since being ousted in 2001.

Shopkeeper Ahmad Fawad, 25, said it would not help.

"The troops will be stationed in populated areas where the Taliban will somehow infiltrate and then may attack the troops," he said. "Instead of pouring in more soldiers, they need to focus on equipping and raising Afghan forces, which is cheap and easy."

For many, the prospect of more troops meant one thing: more civilian deaths.

"More troops will mean more targets for the Taliban and the troops are bound to fight, and fighting certainly will cause civilian casualties," Ahmad Shah Ahmadzai, a former Afghan prime minister, told Reuters.

"The civilian casualties will be further a blow to the U.S. image and cause more indignation among Afghans."


By late morning, the Afghan government had yet to issue an official response to Obama's statement.President Hamid Karzai has in the past said he favors additional Western troops, although he wants Afghan forces to take over security for the country within five years.

Although Obama pointedly addressed Afghans, telling them the United States was not interested in occupying their country, parliamentarian Shukriya Barakzai said she was disappointed because the speech contained little talk of civilian aid.

"It was a very wonderful speech for America ... but when it comes to strategy in Afghanistan there was nothing really new which was disappointing," she told Reuters from her home.

"It seems to me that President Obama is very far away from the reality and truth in Afghanistan. His strategy was to pay lip-service, and did not focus on civilians, nation-building, democracy and human rights."

Other Afghans, hardened by decades of war and wary of foreign forces whom have for years fought proxy battles in Afghanistan, were skeptical of the United States' intentions.

Kabul money changer Ehsanullah wondered why U.S. forces had managed to find former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but had yet to locate Al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden or Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who both fled U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2001.

"This is part of America's further occupation of Afghanistan," he said. "America is using the issue of insecurity here in order to send more troops."

Monday, November 9, 2009


Money for jobs; not for war... unemployed workers shouldn't have to pay any taxes.

Make the minimum wage a real living wage based upon all the cost-of-living factors as scientifically calculated by the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics and then legislatively tie the minimum wage to cost-of-living increases.

A National Conference to Create Living-Wage Jobs,
Meet Human Needs and Sustain the Environment

November 13-14, 2009

New York, NY

The Problem: Even before the onset of our current, deep recession, we faced chronic unemployment, low and stagnant wages, myriad unmet needs and unprecedented environmental degradation.

Today’s rapidly escalating unemployment has put job creation back on the public agenda for the first time in recent history. Nearly 15 million workers were officially unemployed in June 2009, and hidden unemployment brings total joblessness up to almost 30 million with nearly 12 seekers for every available job. If it is possible to ignore the chronic unemployment that besets millions of people in normal times, it is much harder to ignore this current, mass unemployment and its staggering social and economic costs.

 What should progressive activists concerned about economic justice, labor, the religious community and other concerned people do about mass unemployment?
 What long-term goals should we have for the economy?
 How can we build a strong, effective unified movement to achieve full employment and living wage jobs for all?

A strong economic stimulus is imperative to meet the current emergency. Yet, even if the current stimulus package that achieves its intended goal of creating 4 million jobs, it would only reduce official unemployment by a third!

Nor is it good enough to return to official unemployment of 5 million women and men and millions more working poor even in the “best” of recent times, or to be satisfied with the host of unmet needs with which this recession began. In the words of FDR, “We cannot be content, no matter how high the general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people … is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.”

The Challenge: Crises present opportunities for progressive change. This is the time for Progressives people of good will to mobilize and to develop goals and strategies for an economy that provides living wage jobs for all, sustains the environment, and repairs our social and physical infrastructure and begins the transition to a more stable, productive economy that provides for shared prosperity.

Conference Goals and Intended Outcomes:

1. Expand public debate and action on the future of the U.S. economy
2. Increase public awareness of chronic unemployment and underemployment and its human and economic toll, even in better times
3. Build on Increase public awareness of current mass unemployment, its dire consequences for human beings and its waste of potential economic output;
4. Raise public awareness of our current economic dead-end—high personal and foreign debt, inequality, wage lag, environmental degradation, military overreach….
5. Steer public debate and action toward:
• Government promotion and creation of living-wage jobs, strengthening of the safety net and supportive fiscal, monetary and trade policies;
• Government promotion and creation of jobs that improve the physical and social infrastructure (repair of bridges, upgrading public transportation, building affordable housing, improving and expanding public education and child, health and elder care).
• Government promotion and creation of jobs that further the goal of a sustainable economy and begin to restructure it.
6. Develop plans to pay for this program of reconstruction through more progressive taxes and confinement of military spending to genuine defense needs

7. Initiate a movement for living-wage jobs for all and develop strategies for achieving this permanent economic reform-- including similar conferences in cities across the country and a mass mobilization in Washington on behalf of economic reconstruction.

You Are Invited to Be a Conference Convenor/Co-Sponsor: We seek broad participation and sponsorship for this National Conference, especially organizations with a primary focus on the quality and quantity of jobs, economic justice, social security, the safety net and poverty prevention. Other critical participants will be organizations not primarily concerned with employment, but whose goals for union rights, health care, education, child care, elder care, disability rights, housing, economic restructuring, public transportation, environmental sustainability, and the arts would be furthered by job creation in their areas of interest. The hope is to gain their ongoing commitment to conquering unemployment and low wages-- even after the crisis subsides. This would build on a plans of the National Jobs for All Coalition and the Chicago Political Economy Group to simultaneously create living wage jobs for all and, through a renewed public sector, to repair our deeply deficient social and physical infrastructure.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Remember Medicare for All in the healthcare reform debate

Remember Medicare for All in the healthcare reform debate

By Kay Tillow, Coordinator, All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care--HR 676, Nurses Professional Organization - 11/03/09 10:06 AM ET

We are in danger of losing the opportunity to bring Improved Medicare for All, a single payer plan, before the Congress. Last July Congressman Anthony Weiner and six of his colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee attempted to substitute the real public option—HR 676, a single payer plan—for the healthcare reform in the House. Speaker Nancy Pelosi assured them that if they withdrew the amendment in committee they would have an opportunity to bring it to the House floor for a debate and vote. Now Pelosi is threatening to keep the Weiner Single Payer Amendment from seeing the light of day.

If we were able to get this plan really on the table and before the nation in a meaningful way, we could win this hands down. Even Blue Dog Mike Ross, in an unguarded moment, asked why not just have Medicare for All. HR 676, the national single payer legislation introduced by Congressman John Conyers, would cover everyone for all medically necessary care through an Expanded and Improved Medicare for All. The bill and its advocates have been blocked, excluded, and beaten back in the current national healthcare reform debate.

Yet Medicare for All continues to raise its head. When single payer advocates were excluded from the White House kick off meeting for health care reform, doctors’ opened the door to two single payer advocates with a plan to protest at the White House gate. When Senate Finance Chair Baucus ruled single payer off the table, thirteen doctors, nurses, and others rose to protest. Baucus had them arrested. Those gutsy advocates pried open another door and won a round of publicity for single payer. But still not a place at the table.

Yet support for single payer continues to grow. Its simplicity, humanity, and economic efficiency win more supporters each day. The Kentucky House of Representatives, four other state legislative bodies, scores of cities and counties, a half dozen giant religious denominations, NOW, the NAACP, and the National Conference of Mayors have called for passage of HR 676. For unions, it’s the plan of choice. At each contract deadline the double digit rise in health care costs gobbles up the lion’s share of bargaining power. For that reason, 578 unions including 39 state AFL-CIO’s and 134 central labor councils have endorsed HR 676. In September the national AFL-CIO Convention declared unanimous support for single payer as the social insurance plan necessary to achieve social justice.

When Physicians for a National Health Program founder Quentin Young, testified before a House committee last June, Representative Weiner listened and was impressed. Weiner turned HR 676 into an amendment that would transform the House bill into a single payer plan. He popularized it as Medicare for All and catapulted the discussion into the national media with his feisty good humor and popular style.

Now Pelosi wants to renege on her promise to Weiner. We have sent an action alert to over 19,000 unionists asking them to contact Pelosi, and Waxman (who relayed Pelosi’s commitment publicly) and Slaughter (who heads the rules committee) to assure that they allow the Weiner amendment to come to the floor.

The “public option” that remains in both the Senate and the House bills is pitiful and powerless--totally incapable of providing cost control. Those bills, with their forced mandates and fines, their massive transfer of public funds to the insurance industry, and their ban on bulk buying power to rein in the pharmaceutical companies, will fail woefully to cover our people and to make that care affordable.

Pelosi should stick to her promise. We’ll keep up the effort to make her do so. Either now or later Medicare for All will have to come to the table. We’ll keep building the movement to make that happen.

The contents of this site are © 2009 Capitol Hill Publishing Corp., a subsisiary of News Communications, Inc.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A concern

I worked in the building trades most of my life before retiring. I am a proud union member.

I hold my head in shame as I learn about Plumbers and Pipe-fitters holding a meeting at the Fortune Bay Casino and Resort in Tower, Minnesota.

Fortune Bay is a non-union operation.

Employees don't have the protection of state and federal labor laws enjoyed by all other workers; robbed of their rights by politicians and casino managements working in cahoots.

This is no place for unions to be holding conventions, conferences or any kind of meetings.

Shame on the plumbers and pipe-fitters.

Shame on the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council

A proud tin-knocker. But not so proud I will keep my mouth shut when our unions ignore the injustices other workers are subjected to.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Socialized health care the only solution

This cartoon pretty much sums it all up.

Here is one of the best articles I have ever read:

Racism kills when health care is denied as mobsters and corrupt politicians profit

Then there is this article:

Americans Who've Used Canada's Health-Care System Respond to Current Big-Lie Media Campaign

Bill Mann
TV-Radio Critic

Posted: June 13, 2009 05:48 PM

The scare ads and op-ed pieces featuring Canadians telling us American how terrible their government health-care systems have arrived - predictably.

There's another, factual view - by those of us Americans who've lived in Canada and used their system.

My wife and I did for years, and we've been incensed by the lies we've heard back here in the U.S. about Canada's supposedly broken system.

It's not broken - and what's more, Canadians like and fiercely defend it.

Example: Our son was born at Montreal's Royal Victoria Hospital. My wife got excellent care. The total bill for three days in a semi-private room? $21.

My friend Art Finley is a West Virginia native who lives in Vancouver.

"I'm 82, and in excellent health," he told me this week. "It costs me all of $57 a month for health care, and it's excellent. I'm so tired of all the lies and bullshit I hear about the system up here in the U.S. media."
Finley, a well-known TV and radio host for years in San Francisco, adds,

"I now have 20/20 vision thanks to Canadian eye doctors. And I haven't had to wait for my surgeries, either."
A Canadian-born doctor wrote a hit piece for Wingnut Central (the Wall Street Journal op-ed page) this week David Gratzer claimed:

"Everyone in Canada is covered by a single payer -- the government. But Canadians wait for practically any procedure or diagnostic test or specialist consultation in the public system."
Vancouverite Finley: "That's sheer b.s."

I heard Gratzer say the same thing on Seattle radio station KIRO this week. Trouble is, it's nonsense.

We were always seen promptly by our doctors in Montreal, many of whom spoke both French and English.

Today, we live within sight of the Canadian border in Washington state, and still spend lots of time in Canada.

Five years ago, while we were on vacation in lovely Nova Scotia, the Canadian government released a long-awaited major report from a federal commission studying the Canadian single-payer system. We were listening to CBC Radio the day the big study came out.

The study's conclusion: While the system had flaws, none was so serious it couldn't be fixed.

Then the CBC opened the lines to callers across Canada.

Here it comes, I thought. The usual talk-show torrent of complaints and anger about the report's findings.

I wish Americans could have heard this revealing show.

For the next two hours, scores of Canadians called from across that vast country, from Newfoundland to British Columbia.

Not one said he or she would change the system. Every single one defended it vigorously.

The Greatest Canadian Ever

Further proof:

Not long ago, the CBC asked Canadians to nominate and then vote for The Greatest Canadian in history. Thousands responded.

The winner? Not Wayne Gretzky, as I expected (although the hockey great DID make the Top 10). Not even Alexander Graham Bell, another finalist.

The greatest Canadian ever?

Tommy Douglas.

Who? Tommy Douglas was a Canadian politician - and the father of Canadian universal health care.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Call 800-517-5696 today to protest more war funding!

This important vote could come up this week; possibly next week… Act today.

Insist on a response in writing.

Call 800-517-5696 today to protest more war funding!

Do you want the United States government to spend tens of billions of dollars more to fund the war in Iraq and expand the war in Afghanistan?

Next week, your representative will be asked to vote on a war supplemental bill that would do just that.

Call toll-free on May 12

Say no to more spending on two wars. Urge your representative to use our tax dollars to

bring the troops home
take care of them upon their return
rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan
take care of health, education, and energy here at home
Oppose more war funding.

The U.S. government already spends $1.9 million every minute on the military — and that doesn't include funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is the position of our Organizing Council:

All of this money could be going towards the creation of a public health care system. Any country that can spend this kind of money on wars and militarism that includes funding over 800 U.S. foreign military bases dotting the globe; subsidizing the Israeli killing machine; and fighting wars in three countries at the same time certainly can afford to provide its own people a first-rate, world-class public health care system that is comprehensive, all-inclusive and universal which is publicly funded, publicly administered and publicly delivered. Everyone in. All the profiteers out. Health care for people not for profit.

As a working class mother I did not raise my children to go fight wars and kill other people so oil companies can profit.

I voted for Barack Obama very reluctantly and this war funding is not the change I voted for.

Please call today.

Call 800-517-5696 today to protest more war funding!

Maggie Bird


Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

Two-million casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry go to jobs in smoke-filled casinos getting poverty wages without any rights under state, federal or tribal labor laws.

The same government funding these wars created this injustice in the Indian Gaming Industry and refuses to right this wrong.

Distributed by:

Alan L. Maki

Director of Organizing,

Midwest Casino Organizing Council

58891 County Road 13

Warroad, Minnesota 56763

Phone: 218-386-2432

Cell phone: 651-587-5541


Check out my blog:

Thoughts From Podunk

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Teabaggers and Bigots

This is probably the most straight forward piece I have seen about these teabaggers.


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.