November 30, 2009

Say No to War - December 2

End the US Wars and Occupations! The American People Say NO to Troop Escalations in Afghanistan!

5:00 PM, Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Federal Building
SW Madison & SW 3rd, downtown Portland

This Wednesday, December 2nd, one day after the expected official announcement by President Obama that the US will send an additional 30,000 US troops to Afghanistan, local peace and social justice organizations will gather at the Federal Building in downtown Portland to protest the decision to escalate the war and occupation. The demonstration against sending additional US troops will begin at 5:00 PM on Wednesday, December 2nd, at the Federal Building at SW Madison and SW 3rd in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Backing the local call for protesting President Obama's decision are Peace and Justice Works Iraq Affinity Group, Portland Code Pink, Portland Peaceful Response Coalition, Freedom Socialist Party, International Socialist Organization, Portland War Resisters League, the Military and Draft Counseling Project, Oregon Community of War Tax Resistance, Whitefeather Peace House, Living Earth, Peace Voice, Progressive Democrats of Oregon, Students United for Palestinian Equal Rights, Vancouver for Peace, Portland Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and others. To add your organization's name to the call to oppose troop escalations in Afghanistan, please call 503-344-5078 or write to pprc@riseup.net.

Please spread the word, and join us this Wednesday, December 2nd, at 5:00 PM, at the Federal Building at SW Madison & SW 3rd in downtown Portland.

November 27, 2009

HONDURAN COUP STRIPS CATHOLIC PRIEST OF CITIZENSHIP

Father Jose Andres Tomayo was declared unworthy of his Honduran citizenship and expelled from the country. This occurred just prior to upcoming "elections" being held under increasing military presence and martial law.
Father Tomayo is much loved in Honduras for his leadership of non violent struggle for environmental justice. In particular his work to save Honduran Forests. In 2003 he received the Honduras National Human Rights Award. He now has been forced to leave Honduras and is in El Salvador.

Pressure is increasing on Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton to condemn the upcoming elections being conducted by the coup leaders. All candidates who oppose the current regime are refusing to be a part of the elections which they see as a sham. The coup announced that there will be military soldiers at all polling sites.

November 25, 2009

Fidel Castro Writes About Obama

Obama's Trip: A Science Fiction Story Written by Fidel Castro Ruz

Reflections by Comrade Fidel

I very much regret to have to criticize Obama, knowing that there are in that country other could-be presidents worse than he. I am aware that that office in the United States is today a major headache. The best example of this is the report in yesterday's edition of Granma that 237 US members of Congress, or 44%, are millionaires. This does not mean that every one of them is an incorrigible reactionary but it is extremely difficult that they feel like the many million Americans who do not have access to medical care, who are unemployed or who need to work very hard to earn their living.

Of course, Obama himself is no beggar; he has millions of dollars. He excelled as a professional and his command of language, his eloquence and intellect are unquestionable. Also, he was elected president despite his being an African American, a first time occurrence in the history of his country's racist society, which is enduring a profound international economic crisis of its own making.

This is not about being "an anti-American" as the system and its huge media intend to label its adversaries.

The American people are not the culprits but rather the victims of a system that is not only unsustainable but worse still: it is incompatible with the life of humanity.

The smart and rebellious Obama who suffered humiliation and racism in his childhood and youth understands this, but the Obama educated by the system and committed to it and to the methods that took him to the US presidency cannot resist the temptation to pressure, to threaten and even to deceive others.

Read more here.

World Communist Movement Meets In New Delhi

Delhi Declaration Written by Communist and Workers' Parties

This 11th International Meeting of the Communist and Workers' Parties, held in New Delhi, 20-22 November 2009 to discuss "The international capitalist crisis, the workers' and peoples' struggle, the alternatives and the role of the communist and working class movement":

Reiterates that the current global recession is a systemic crisis of capitalism demonstrating its historic limits and the need for its revolutionary overthrow. It demonstrates the sharpening of the main contradiction of capitalism between its social nature of production and individual capitalist appropriation. The political representatives of Capital try to conceal this unresolvable contradiction between capital and labour that lies at the heart of the crisis. This crisis intensifies rivalries between imperialist powers who along with the international institutions-the IMF World Bank, WTO and others - are implementing their 'solutions' which essentially aim to intensify capitalist exploitation. Military and political 'solutions' are aggressively pursued globally by imperialism. NATO is promoting a new aggressive strategy. The political systems are becoming more reactionary curtailing democratic and civil liberties, trade union rights etc. This crisis is further deepening the structural corruption under capitalism which is being institutionalised. 


Reaffirms that the current crisis, probably the most acute and all encompassing since the Great Depression of 1929, has left no field untouched. Hundreds of thousands of factories are closed. Agrarian and rural economies are under distress intensifying misery and poverty of millions of cultivators and farm workers globally. Millions of people are left jobless and homeless. Unemployment is growing to unprecedented levels and is officially expected to breach the 50 million mark. Inequalities are increasing across the globe – the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. More than one billion people, that is one-sixth of humanity go hungry. Youth, women and immigrants are the first victims.

Read more here.

Palestinian trade unions unanimously support boycott movement

In reaction to reports alleging that a Palestinian trade union official has stated his reservations about the Palestinian civil society campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), the full spectrum of the Palestinian trade union movement has expressed solid support for the BDS National Committee (BNC) and for the global BDS campaign against Israel as an effective form of resisting its military occupation, war crimes and apartheid policies.

Read more here.

Peña Cultural, Music And Spoken Word Event Coming In Salem

Event: Peña Cultural, music and spoken word
What: Concert
Start Time: Friday, December 11 at 7:30pm
End Time: Friday, December 11 at 10:00pm
Where: Coffee House Cafe, downtown Salem

CWA Members Build A Health & Safety Program

CWA Star Search: Win the Contest for Best Safety and Health Video

Forget Dancing with the Stars. Become a celebrity in your own union by entering CWA's contest for the best YouTube-style video that spotlights a safety and health issue on the job.

Be funny, be serious, be creative. It's up to you. "Highlight your issue and show everyone there is a safe and smart way to work and avoid injuries," CWA Safety and Health Director Dave LeGrande said.

Videos can be e-mailed to CWA or sent on a CD. The best file formats: Windows Media Video (WMV), AVI (windows), MOV (Mac), MP4 (iPod/psp), MPEG or FLV (Adobe Flash).

E-mail your video by Jan. 8 to Larry Smoot at lsmoot @cwa-union.org. Or mail CDs by the deadline to CWA Safety & Health Department, Attn: Dave LeGrande, 501 Third St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20001.

Portland Says Yes To Helping People

Hi there Friends:

Thanksgiving "Giving" Help- please help, forward and post to your pages :) Thank you!!

If you know of anyone else that might want to share in the holiday celebrations- Here are the items we are looking for: Does anyone have any of the following?? f so please contact, Andrea Dudley Hart (508)284.6981 or drop in the driveway of this address, 9076 SW Rystadt Ln-Portland.

A group of 25 of us volunteers will be making thanksgiving a joyfull day for 5 families- please help in anyway you can to help these needy families- (if you can provide any of the following - please bring no later than 8am thanksgiving morning)...

Thank you ALL so much Portland!!:

Healthy foods for the pantry, New socks,Sneakers,shelf to put food on,
refrigerator, warm clothing for adults, teens, youth and infants
work clothes for adultsschool clothes for teens and children (boys and girls)
potty chair, baby wipes, computer, sm kitchen table, undergarments for woman,
tennis shoes for adults & youth Dress clothes and shoes For youth & women
DVD player.2 queen box springs, pots & pans, furniture, TV,
baby clothes for boys, bunk bed mattress, blankets, sheets, towels
pillows & Healthy food to feed families!


Thank you all for the support!

Couldn't do it without you all!!

-Andrea

Corvallis Says No To The Surge

Event: Say NO to Obama's SURGE
What: Protest
Start Time: Wednesday, December 2 at 4:00pm
End Time: Wednesday, December 2 at 6:00pm
Where: 4th Street and Monroe, Corvallis, OR 97330

November 24, 2009

HUGO CHAVEZ CALLS FOR "FIFTH INTERNATIONAL"

psuv_1st_ext_congress_1.jpg
Yesterday, at the opening session of the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela) Hugo Chavez gave a radical socialist speech and called for the setting up of a new International which he called the Fifth International. He explained that Karl Marx set up the First International, Engels participated in the founding of the Second International, Lenin founded the Third International, and Leon trotsky the Fourth International. He stated that for different reasons none of them are in existence today.

There were 772 red shirted delegates, mostly workers, peasants and students elected by 2.5 million voters.
Chavez pointed out that all the previous Internationals were originally based in Europe, reflecting the class battles of the time. But today the epicenter of revolution is in Latin America, especially Venezuela.

His speech represented the pressure he is receiving from those who are frustrated and tired of talk about socialism, while there seems to be little real progress towards change. Chavez talked about the necessity of destroying the bourgeois state and replacing it with a revolutionary state. But he also referred to the dangers of the bureaucracy (some would say corruption) in the Bolivarian Movement. He also called for vigilance against signs of privileged bureaucracy within the PSUV.

He received loud applause when he announced they are going to take over seven banks. It appears that Chavez is trying to breathe new life into the Bolivarian Revolution and his cadres in Venezuela. We will have to wait and see if a genuine Worker's State will be established in Venezuela.
(Thanks to the eyewitness report by Alan Woods

November 22, 2009

Exorcising Demons and Scoundrels: We Look At Germany And Anti-Communism

Thank God it has come and gone. The anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall threatens to become a regular ritual celebrating the triumph of capitalism and the bankruptcy of socialism. The ruling ideology needs landmarks and symbols to reassure that capitalism is both good and enduring to those barred by an invisible wall from entering the elite club of wealth and power. The 1989 opening of the barrier between East and West Berlin serves as such a symbol and, accordingly, is celebrated with much acclaim by the elites and their media lapdogs. They are confident that the louder and more extravagantly they celebrate, the more the rest of us will buy the old Cold War myths of socialist slavery and capitalist freedom. Tragically, many buy it.

Read more here.

November 21; Coffee with the Tea Baggers

What a morning!

Yesterday, November 21, about 150 Tea-Bagger types were out in front of the State Capitol protesting the Democratic/Obama health care reform/deform bill. In response to the Tea-Bagger event, about 35 counter-demonstrators showed up from Salem Move-On, Mad as Hell Doctors, Physicians for a National Health Program, and Willamette Reds, calling for real health care reform.

Upon arrival at the event, I saw a Tea-Bagger over on the counter-demonstration side of the street. He was haranguing a couple of the counter-demonstrators. Evidently he was going to lose his health care if the current bills pass. (I'm not clear how he would have lost his health care... He looked too young to have Medicare). He was mad. "I'm going to lose my health care," he kept saying.

Two of the counter demonstrators responded by telling the guy that they had no health care. This didn't phase the guy at all, he kept on about his health care.

This is what Tea-Baggers are about. Somehow millions of others are supposed to suffer, fall on their swords, do with nothing; and all is well as long as the Tea-Baggers have what they want. A very selfish group of people.

My personal "favorite" Tea-Bagger speaker was a woman who claimed to have Canadian roots. Her rap said the Canadian system doesn't work, and besides, Canada can only afford Single Payer because the U.S. empire takes care of all of Canada's national defense. In a way, the woman is right. The scape and maintenance of the American Empire does get in the way of taking care of domestic needs. I do hope the Canadians appreciate the sacrifices the U.S. has made to in defending Canada against... Who again??? Us???


It is worth noting that not one of the counter-demonstrators was out in support of the pending health care legislation. Our side was frustrated too. We were out there for H.R. 676, Single Payer.

November 21, 2009

Weak Public Option Myths That Liberals Believe, By Kevin Gosztola For OpEdNews: Kevin Gosztola, Nov 20, 2009

On Saturday night, the Senate will take a procedural vote to move debate on the current health insurance enrichment bill in Congress forward.

Democratic Senators like Dick Durbin, Patrick Leahy, and Chuck Schumer, through a project called Citizens for a Public Option, have been building support for the public option and encouraging Americans to write letters to the editor that debunk health care reform myths---myths that the conservative echo chamber have been propagating.

Senators (and representatives in the House and Obama) can champion this health insurance legislation all they want and claim it will “foster greater competition in the marketplace, create more choices for consumers, and lead to lower costs and better quality for all,” but doctors who have been on the front lines of America's sick care non-system do not believe many of the arguments that Democrats are using to create support for a public option.

Myth #1 – Public option will help control costs

Dr. Margaret Flowers with Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) explains that Americans have been led to believe that “the public option is going to keep companies honest and help control costs.”

Obama and Congress are taking an approach that has failed to control costs time and time again.

“We've already had states that have tried this type of approach over the past few decades,” says Flowers. “Every state that has tried this approach has had these grandiose hopes where they had said we're going to cover this many of hundreds of thousands of people in this time period and not a single one of them has succeeded. They've all fallen far short and then gone under financially.”

Self-employed doctor, Dr. Matt Hendrickson, who risked arrest in a MobilizeforHealthcare.org action at the Cigna Offices in Glendale, CA, cites examples “from the last 20 years of states that have attempted a public option.” He explains that Tennessee, Oregon, and Massachusetss (twice) have tried the public option.

“In each case, the number of uninsured went down briefly then returned to the baseline for one reason: cost,” said Hendrickson. “There's no way to control cost as long as you allow private insurance industry to add a 25% surcharge to all healthcare transaction and to continue divert money to avoiding the sick, marketing and advertising, to avoid the sick and try to dump them onto a public plan.”

Anesthesiologist Dr. Samuel Metz, who is with the Mad as Hell Doctors, explains, “Massachusetts has been held up as an example of a state that has come closest to providing universal health insurance. However, not only has it failed to provide universal health insurance. It is also now the most expensive place on the planet for healthcare. It leads the U.S. in annual cost per person.”

The public option, “will not reduce the cost of healthcare,” says Metz. “In fact, it's anticipated it will add $800 billion more into a system that's already twice as expensive as the average industrialized nation.”

Myth #2 – The public option is a "public" option

The public option that came out of the House, according to Dr. Flowers, is “even worse than we could have imagined because they're predicting that maybe 2% of the population will be able to go into that public option, that it will be run by private insurance companies, and that it will actually cost more than private insurance.”

What's so public about something only open to 2% of the population?

As Kevin Zeese from the Prosperity Agendaexplains, “No matter how much you hate your current insurance, no matter how much they've abused you with premiums, co-pays, denials of care, no matter what they've done to you, you can't leave your insurance and go to the public option,” said Zeese. “90% of Americans can't even choose it. So much for choices.”


Flowers adds the government would be subsidizing the purse of private insurance to try to help people buy their products. Government would be putting public dollars into the pockets of private insurance companies. And, a private corporation would be allowed to run the public option.

How many Americans really think putting reform in the hands of those who have created this crisis in health care in America will ultimately work or produce any favorable results?

Myth #3 – Public option will make single-payer possible

Doctors, nurses, and patients following the de-evolution of health care reform closely know that the public option (especially the idea of a robust public option) is a carefully calculated political carrot being offered to progressives so they will sit down, shut up about single-payer, and support this current corporate giveaway to private insurance companies, which is moving through Congress right now.

Hendrickson explains, “The reason why the public option was introduced, according to congress people that have spoken to the single-payer movement, was because of the single-payer movement. There was such an upswell in the progressive part of this country for single-payer that they opted for some compromise that would not have been given if there wasn't so much support for single-payer.”

If you ask Zeese, this won't do anything to get us closer to single-payer.

This bill will “enshrine and deepen the power of the insurance industry.” Hundreds of billions of dollars in new revenue, according to Zeese, will now be available for corrupting and influencing Congress.

It will be even harder to get single-payer if a weak public option remains in the bill. And the money government gives away will help private insurance fight any additional reforms to legislation passed by Congress and Obama.

Metz concludes that the public option will make it impossible for us to achieve universal coverage for at least a decade.

“Every passing year we'll see more Americans with worse health and nobody will do anything because we will point to our legislation and say give it another couple years to work,” says Metz. “And in five years, we will have exhausted the financial resources of the government, we will have exhausted taxpayers, we will have exhausted the good will of voters, the patience of voters, and no one will want to attempt health reform again.”

Poll indicates opposition to capitalism

From L'Humanité: Round the World, Opposition to Capitalism Continues

An opinion poll conducted in 27 countries reveals a rejection of capitalism. 23% of those polled believe we need to change economic systems. In France, the proportion climbs to 43%.

The celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall have not changed public opinion. Capitalism is no longer in favor. According to a poll published yesterday by the BBC World Service, the publicly-funded international broadcaster, just 11% of the 29,033 people polled in 27 countries believe that the capitalist economy works. Worse yet, 23% of those polled think that the free market system is fatally flawed and has to be abandoned.

The French have the most critical attitude: 43% believe we need to switch to a new economic system. They are not alone: 38% of the Mexicans and 35% of the Brazilians hold the same opinion. Capitalism is in the dock even in some East European countries. More than 20% of the Poles believe that there needs to be a change of economic systems, and more than 45% believe it has to be “regulated or reformed.” In just two countries – the United States (25%) and Pakistan (21%) - over a fifth of those polled believe that capitalism is working in its present form.

“It appears that the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 might not have been a crushing victory of free market capitalism, contrary to impressions at the time,” commented Doug Miller, the president of the GlobeScan polling institute, which conducted the poll. The attitude to the dismantling of the Soviet Union (USSR) is much more nuanced than the triumphant speeches heard these past few weeks. Only 54% believe that it was a good thing, against 22% who think it was. Thus 63% of the Czechs, 61% of the Russians and 54% of the Ukrainians think the collapse of the USSR is regrettable.

Were the celebrations of the fall of the Berlin Wall an opportunity to wipe capitalism’s slate clean? “The economic crisis has resulted in a severer and more intense reaction against the market economy than against the communist regimes at the time of their collapse,” complained Dominique Reynié last spring. With his Foundation for Innovative Politics, which is linked to France’s governing conservative UMP party, he was then launching a cycle of conferences on “the memory of communism.” It was intended to be a fire-wall against attacks on capitalism.

November 19, 2009

U.S. HOUSE HAS HEARING ON CUBA TRAVEL BAN

Today the House of Representatives Committee On Foreign Affairs held a hearing on the Cuba Travel Ban. The importance of this is that they actually held the hearing. This is the result of the hard work of the Latin American Working Group and other groups and citizens who have been pressuring for the hearing to start moving the legislation. So the fact that it happened is a victory. I watched quite a bit of it and would like to make a few comments.

The award for the most consistent and principled participant definitely goes to Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona. He has been a consistent supporter of ending the Travel Ban and the Embargo (Blockade). He was the only legislator I saw who took on the myths and lies coming from testimony. It was claimed that Americans only go to Cuba to stay in big hotels, smoke cigars and don't interact with any Cubans except their waiters in the restaurants. He took this on forcefully stating that Cuban workers in the hotels should not be denigrated. He went on to say Americans who travel interact with Cubans and are not prohibited from traveling anywhere on the island or talking to anyone.

The biggest disappointment was the approach of the Democrats on the panel. They seemed to only address those who were there spouting the typical counter revolutionary rhetoric. It was like they only wanted to assure them that eliminating the ban would mean that Americans can "influence the change in Cuba after Fidel dies". Even Rep. Barbara Lee who represents the Bay Area in California took this approach.

The hottest fireworks were between Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (Always the mouthpiece of the rabid Cuban American Foundation in Miami) and Gen. Barry McCaffrey. He almost lost his military discipline as she refused to call him General and attacked him for meeting with Fidel for three hours. First he made her apologize for not using his military title and corrected her by saying that he had actually met with Fidel Castro for seven hours. He went on to say that the message he was bringing is that Cuba is not a national security threat to the United States and that we must engage diplomatically with our neighbor.

Finally, the saddest part of the hearing was exactly what I have been afraid will happen. I didn't expect it in a discussion about ending the travel ban, although I knew that it will come up in discussions of ending the blockade. Three different Republicans on the committee railed on about "cop killer" JoAnne Chesimard. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen actually flourished a tabloid newspaper with a 1973 picture of Assata Shakur. Assata was framed and sent to Alderson Prison For Women. This is a Federal Maximum Security Prison in West Virginia although she was never convicted of a Federal crime. She escaped and has been living in Cuba since 1978. The Helms-Burton Act is the legislation which codified the Cuban blockade. That legislation states that the blockade cannot end until JoAnne Chesimard (Assata Shakur) is returned to the United States. This is a good time to read or re-read ''Assata, An Autobiography". When I met her in Cuba I asked her if she intended to write another autobiography. She just smiled. I didn't think this would come up as part of the bill to end the travel ban. But it may.


November 18, 2009

Frohnmayer's Bad News For Oregon Higher Education

Dave Frohnmayer, the recently retired president of the University of Oregon, believes that Oregon needs to convert our largest universities into public corporations. This hoped-for flexibility is expected to help some schools raise funds, or so Frohnmayer says. Media reports talk about "revitalizing the state's stifled higher education system" by essentially privatizing these public services and institutions. It seems that the collective bureaucratic wisdom is that some of these state institutions need to compete with and aid the private sector and compete with other institutions all at once. We have been covering this on our blog for several years.

It amounts to "privatization lite," but for the sake of expedience and clarity I'm going to refer to this plan, and those in place in Oregon like it, as privatization. Critics will say that I'm exaggerating, but I don't think so. A diminished public role and presence for any state institution or service under these circumstances is privatization.

This is being spun as a new turn for the Oregon University System. In fact, this has been discussed and debated behind the closed doors of the State Board of Higher Education and in the hallways and offices of state higher ed decision-makers for some time. Higher ed in Oregon operates with a pretense of openness and accountability that is really a kind of manufactured or crafted secrecy. The more they tell you they're involving the stakeholders and working to hear and consider every opinion the more they have worked to make sure that their desired outcome will be realized in short order.

Frohnmayer's fabled urgency comes at a bad moment and we wonder if this is a ham- fisted attempt at lobbying or a means of grabbing revenue before another negative budget report comes in or an attempt to throw a few competing institutions under the bus. The Legislature can give the State Board of Higher Education authority to restructure the university system this February if Frohnmayer is able to create the panicked stampede he seems bent on. On the other hand, he may have just given the anti-tax people a great weapon to use in their fight to overturn the state budget. Higher ed could easily become the poster child of the anti-tax movement in Oregon. The let's-drown-government-in-the-bathtub folks could have no better model of what's wrong with public institutions and services than Oregon's higher ed system. If the budget is overturned there might not be much left to privatize. Or does Frohnmayer and his crowd really want to play off higher ed against the torn social safety net and social spending, the rest of the state's educational system, healthcare and law enforcement in a scramble for what's left after the anti-tax folks gut the state budget?

If the economic model here is Oregon Health and Science University, as is being seriously reported, someone needs to remind Frohnmayer of some of OHSU's costly mistakes and its special dependency on the healthcare economy. Even OSU's science, veterinary and natural resource programs don't operate with the kind of economic levers OHSU has at hand. The humanities, law and the technology programs cannot and should not be subject to the market forces and economies which privatization will expose them to. It's likely that they will either be sacrificed, folded into other divisions or subsidized if privatization continues. We have to question how much might really be saved in initial costs and over time in such a scenario.

If the economic model includes the Port of Portland and SAIF Frohnmayer is comparing apples to rocks. Nothing in higher ed matches the port or SAIF. Almost any injured worker can tell you what a hassle dealing with SAIF is. Should students and higher ed workers have to deal with similar problems because Frohnmayer made a bad call?

Frohnmayer's talk of Oregon becoming a "stagnant backwater" if he doesn't get his way is ridiculous. We're in the midst of a world economic crisis and it is that crisis and the fightback against it which will determine our social living standards. Higher ed cannot, by itself, turn that around. The past privatizing social services and institutions has made real economy more difficult, not less so. Considered in this light, it is Frohnmayer's thinking which may indeed push us back into the dark ages.

This is not some experiment, mind you. Privatize a public institution or service and its usually gone forever. Our tax dollars paid for these institutions but we will not get anything back when they're sold off.

Listen to Frohnmayer's attempts at stampeding public opinion. "There is no point in waiting until everything falls off a cliff to do something that could cushion the fall," he says. "We will fall if we don't do something dramatic."

One might ask where Frohnmayer has been while this alleged crisis has been evolving and why he is waving this particular flag now.

The Frohnmayer plan does not free the the largest universities from all public oversight. In fact, it sticks the state with some oversight or policing functions but does not give the state real control or the authority needed to make its diminished role quite meaningful. When the plan talks about giving the largest schools authority over tuition and teacher salaries--and does not mention classified staff--you know that tuition increases are coming in some programs and that salary cuts will hit some faculty while others will be specially rewarded or bought off. When it talks about these universities having control over admissions standards you know that we're going to end up with either profitable revolving door education or some kinds of exclusivity and the enhanced recruitment of international students from countries with favorable exchange rates and dollars on hand.

The best we get from the Democrats on this is Richard Devlin saying, "I don't think we should rush to judgment on something so big without consulting Oregonians about what direction they want to go."

Don't worry, Richard, OUS will get a fact sheet out and hold a few meetings. They will make it nearly impossible for anyone to check their facts. You will see a few faculty supporting this, a couple opposing this and student government people looking to cut a deal. The sports and military programs will sneak right by, the grant-dependent and industry-driven programs will get their lobbyists working, the public service programs will be held up as antiquated and inefficient and most of the non-teaching and non-tenure track faculty positions will survive any scrutiny or cuts using methods that would make Mayor Daley proud or envious.

Our Governor and unnamed faculty and student groups are supposedly studying the Frohnmayer proposals and withholding comment. In other words, they're testing the winds and looking for the necessary deals to be cut before they sign off on a deal which potentially puts all public services and institutions at increased risks of privatization. We have been playing this game with state services for quite awhile now, and with higher ed in particular since at least 1994.

Paul Kelly, the president of the State Board of Higher Education, shakes his head wisely and says that Frohnmayer is making a persuasive argument and is performing a public service by making his proposal. Kelly has had time to make the same proposal and perform the same public service, but you have not seen him stepping up until now. Either Kelly is being less than honest or he has been derelict in his duties.

We start hearing another agenda emerging as this glad-handing and chin rubbing continues. Kelly is being quoted as saying that "the challenge is broader than higher education. We've got problems in how we are dealing with K-12 public education, with the number of students who do not graduate from high school and the relatively small number who go to college." So, says Kelly, let's privatize our entire educational system.

Faithful to his semi-libertarian agenda, Frohnmayer is assuring us all that leading Oregon universities will be held more accountable to the public as they convert to public corporations. He spins this as if an exchange is being made. We have a proposal: keep the universities under public control and make them more accountable right where they are. What is it about handing over public resources to the private sector and investors that builds accountability anyway?

Establishing missions and mission statements, performance goals, academic standards and programs and allocating state money on the basis of performance is all pretty meaningless and irrelevant if favoritism, cronyism, bureaucracy, built-in and manufactured waste, control-and-command management, low pay and high tuition and artificial isolation from society continue on in higher ed. Nothing in Frohnmayer's proposals anticipates higher ed's dysfunctional organizational culture. The ability of universities to raise money by selling bonds, leveraging their own property and assets for borrowing, and creating a tax base subject to voter support is a recipe for economic chaos or a guantee that whiz kids like OSU's President Ed Ray get more power. In this case power is quantifiable: the more power they have, the less power the people have.

Jim Francesconi, vice president of the Board of Higher Education, wants to go even further. He supports the concept of converting universities into public corporations and thinks that any overhaul needs to include the state's four regional universities. You have to wonder if he, Kelly and our Governor are sharing the same Kool Aid or if they suddenly had a conversion experience. Maybe they have been nursing this dream all along.

This is at least the second time we have seen this proposal. State per capita spending on the Oregon University System may have declined by 44 percent in the past 15 years, but that is hardly a problem privatization will solve. If capitalists won't lend to other capitalists, and if taxpayers are being stretched as they lose jobs and incomes and homes, what makes anyone think that the wealthy or the poor will put their money into higher education?

If prison spending has climbed by 50 percent in this same period a commonsense solution would be to either change the justice system or give the prison system some part off higher ed so that the schools get money and inmates get education.

Frohnmayer finds state support for higher ed full of "stifling regulatory restrictions." We suggest that if he is troubled by government and regulation he is in the wrong job. There are many capable people who could do his job and not be so troubled. He could look to faculty and staff to find such persons.

OHSU may indeed have fared better economically since 1995, when it was privatized, but healthcare has its own economy and the state has not been better off for spinning OHSU off. OHSU's financial success is mythic in any case.

Frohnmayer also says that there is a crisis in in-state enrollment and getting in-state students degrees. We suggest more bilingual education, lower or no tuition, expanded humanities programs, less dependence on grant-driven private industry and military-related projects, better integration of higher ed into the K-12 school system, a regional educational system and making the rich and the corporations pay more.

November 17, 2009

WHITE HOUSE MUZZLES MELODY BARNES


Melody Barnes, White House Domestic Policy Advisor and the person who oversees the Domestic Policy Council became a victim of a White House gag rule. In the technology age this means instructing the Boston College School Of Law not to release video of her speech. Members of the Gay and Lesbian Community are confronting White House officials where ever they appear. This included the question and answer period of her speech on November 9. So what was the problem?

Paul Sousa, co-founder of the LGBT organization Equal Rep, and the individual who asked Ms. Barnes the question described his question: "I know there isn't much you can say right now because it is your job to defend President Obama even if he is wrong on a domestic policy stance. What I would like to know is - whether or not you support equal civil marriage rights for gay and lesbian Americans and if so, are you speaking or will you speak with President Obama on this civil rights matter?" Sousa stated that in her response, Barnes did state that she personally believes in marriage equality and can appreciate the frustration that our community is feeling. She said she is trying to move the ball forward with other action items.

Another observer who is a law student at Boston College confirmed her answer. "Ms Barnes did express her own personal sympathy with the questioner's position in favor of same sex marriage." The White House immediately came out with a cryptic statement saying she didn't discuss her personal views and that her personal views were irrelevant to her work advancing the President's Agenda.

That may have been the end of it except that the Gay Bloggers wanted the video of her answer to post on their blogs. They were told by Boston College that the White House was not releasing the video.

The White House needs to learn they cannot play games with the Gay Community - we are in no mood and are the most energized section of his political base.

After all it was the strong United Front of all the most popular Gay Blogs that joined together with the "Don't Ask, Don't Give" Campaign. Thousands have pledged to give no money to the Democratic National Committee or the Obama Campaign until he fulfills his campaign pledges. After 6 days the video was released to Boston College, but by that time I am sure thousands more of those pledges were received and passed on to the White House. So the White House sends a message about tightening the muzzles of its Advisors and the Gay Community sends its message, "We are fighting and we will not go away!"

November 16, 2009

Interview with Hans Heinz Holz on his life, 1917, and the role of the impoverishment of theory with Revisionism in USSR

The interview took place in Dublin in 2007. See this link for the source, and/or a PDF of the interview.

For our readers who might not know you would you mind telling us a little about yourself?
After the 2nd world war I started with being a journalist because it was then absolutely impossible for a Marxist to make a career in the university. I first worked for our party newspapers until the prohibition of the party in 1956 and afterwards as a free lance journalist first in Germany and after 1960 in Switzerland. When the student movement at the end of the 60’s developed there came the demand for Marxism at the university’s and with the support of the student movement and student unions in Germany I was nominated as a professor of philosophy at the University of Malburg and later on at the University of Honing. I stayed 8 years in Malburg and 18 in Honing years teaching philosophy but always engaged and involved with politics, naturally. After the re-foundation of the Communist Party in Western Germany I was engaged in politics there. I would say the main point of my work is Marxist theory though in the last 15 years after the collapse of socialism in eastern Europe I have done much base work in the party with the committee for a new party program.

When did you first get involved in politics?
When I was 16, that was in 1943, we were already in the fascist era in Germany I formed a little resistance movement in my school. This was not for political reasons but for moral reasons, against the immorality of the fascist system. I was imprisoned in 1943 and it was there I met in the same cell a young communist worker. It was he who introduced me to Marxism, the elementary points of Marxism. That was my first commitment in politics.

How long did you spend in prison?
Until the end of the war, 2 years.

That must have been extremely hard for a 16 year old?
Yes, well it was a fascist era. Fascism is a very hard thing! Immediately after the war I began to study the texts of the classic Marxism. Especially I was influenced by works like ‘State and Revolution’ by Lenin and I would say also by the Hegel texts of Lenin, and also by the small works of Stalin in dialectical and historical Marxism. And naturally the text of ‘State and Revolution’ brought in the question of the October Revolution. I immediately understood this was the change of an era, change of the world going over to a new formation of society. Then followed an intense study of Marx and Lenin and the question of revolution at that time was being actualized by the Chinese Revolution in 1949 and the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Revolution accompanied my life!

What were the challenges that faced building socialism after the October Revolution?
The special situation of the Russian revolution was that it was not prepared by a long development of capitalism. The transition of feudalism to capitalism in the French Revolution was prepared by 200 years of early capitalism that was not the case in the Soviet Union. That means the revolution was not just a transition of power but it had to build that what capitalist society should have built up before. That was one of the situations. The second was, a great part of the population in Russia was still illiterate and you can’t develop participatory democracy without an educated people. There was an immense and huge education program for the first decades of the Soviet Union. This was the first step to build up a socialist democracy it was not possible to have this social democracy in the first stage and this brought forth special contradictions in the first phase, that socialism could not be build up by the broad masses but had to be built up by the minority of the working class which was a very small minority compared to the peasants and also by the party. The party had to be a leading power in developing ideas but also administratively and that naturally had the consequence of developing a special form of party bureaucracy. This was not due to any bad will of persons but was from objective conditions.

What were the achievements of the early soviet state?
First the educational problems, second the social problems that meant a better provision of medical treatment, the overcoming of unemployment, there was no unemployment in the Soviet Union and I would stress the development of all cultural potentiality of man. I was in the soviet union in the 50’s and 60’s and it was stupendous the the worker in the plants were engaged in cultural activities like the fine arts, sociology and philosophy that they were really engaged in these subjects and all this stuff that we have not in western world. And a great freedom in conditions of doing what they did in the plants, the worker in the soviet union and the socialist countries had much more personal rights than any worker here in the western world. It is a legend that there was no freedom. There were other structures in the decision making and administration with problems but in daily life the freedom of the worker was much greater than here.

Why did you write your book ‘Downfall and Future of Socialism’ in 1992?
It appeared in 1991 in German and 1992 in English. It was a situation when all leftists were depressed by the collapse. I felt it necessary at that moment to say that the defeat did not mean that there was no future for socialism. I needed to say what was the theoretical background, what were the achievements and also the faults which were done so they wont be repeated next time.

You listed 3 main reasons for the collapse they were the immaturity of economic conditions to begin with, the subsequent development of the corrupt bureaucracy, and finally the impoverishment of theory. Can you comment on these 15 years later?

I would say for the checklist of reasons all three reasons are still very decisive but after 15 years of study I would add many more. I think even more than I stressed in the book the impoverishment of theory was one of the main points because it made an open gate for the infiltration of western ideas, the revisionism as we say. And with the 20th party congress of the Soviet Union, not so much with the moralistic incrimination of Stalinism that was not the right historical view point, but the decisive thing was Khrushchev made as criteria for the development of the Soviet Union the living standards of the United States. The living standards of the United States is the living standard of a capitalist country with imperialist expansion, and a living standard that only touches half of the population the other half live in poverty. This should not be an aim. It set a target for all those who were still coming out of the old society with its old ideas and America was a symbol for them. This was the decisive break in of a non-socialist idea. This expanded because the theory was so poor. And the theory began to become poor I would say after Stalin. During the period of Stalin’s power there were a lot of intense theoretical discussion in the scientific magazines and it is not true that Stalin was the cause of the impoverishment of theory. It was after him.

Do you think this made way for Gorbachev’s reforms?
It was I would say a straight consequential line from Khrushchev to Gorbachev. At any moment at this time it had been possible to counter act but it wasn’t done.

You wrote, "Whoever would learn from history must reflect upon it."  What must we reflect upon now?

We need to reflect upon the contradictory development of each historical process and we need to reflect upon the specificity of each contradiction in itself, a contradiction of Russia. So today we need to reflect upon the specific contradiction in China and as our Cuban comrade said yesterday we need to reflect upon the contradiction which are in the development of Cuba. That is the point of reflection so we can learn from history what reasons are for the generation of these contradictions for the solutions of these so we can learn how not to do it again. I think we can realize that there are certain features and constant traits in history. If you read some of the ancient historians, Thucydides, you find very similar structures even in quite other social formations and if you are keeping in mind that history has only a certain range of possibilities because there are anthropological traits that are in mankind than you can learn from history. I think it is a strategy of late capitalism and even of the social democrats to destroy our relation with history, to be anti-historical or ahistorical. We Marxists have the task to develop the historical understanding.

What do you draw inspiration from today?
I think for me socialism, or better to say communism, is the logical as well as the historically only alternative to the capitalist system, for reasons of dialectical logic. I would say one state of time of society can only be overcome by its determinate negation. It is not that we have capitalism or a utopian idea of society. We have to ask what are the main characteristics of capitalism? Private property in the production means and the accumulation of capital profit of surplus an alternative society must overcome these main traits of capitalism and therefore socialism is the logical result. The historical reason is within in the capitalist system as a necessary moment in the system developed the working class and the working class is the only class which is not part of the profits of the surplus in so far as the working class and the revolutionary movement of the working class is the historical reason why communism is the only alternative to capitalist system. But that does not mean that it comes of itself we can also have the negative chance of barbarism even of the end of humanity. Therefore we must develop the consciousness of the working class. The working class now has other structures than of the 19th century class therefore we must analyze these latest developments not on the question of whether there is no working class but upon the changes within the working class and we must have ideas of how to mobilize the working class and develop political insight and class consciousness and therefore the impulse to change society. That is my hope and my life work. I am 60 years in the communist movement. It is my whole life to work in this direction to help prepare the minds of men. As Lenin always said, without consciousness we will have no revolutionary moment. It is an important part of the movement to develop and spread the theory among the people. It is no only a question of academic development, but you must have that to have a good popularization. But the popularization is always necessary that is why I always write for newspapers and not only am writing academic pieces or books. In my academic work I have written 3 volumes on the history of dialectics since the renaissance and volumes on aesthetic problems. That is the academic level upon which you elaborate ideas but then they must be brought and adopted by the masses. That is a large question for trade unions, the educational work of trade unions.

Would you comment on Venezuela today?
Venezuela is not yet socialism and if you look back to the Cuban revolution it was not socialism in the beginning but it developed out of its internal reasons. I see one danger in the development of Venezuela there is much influence of utopian socialism, that Marxism for the 21st century, the books of Diderik I don’t know if you have heard of him. Well he is an advisor of Chavez otherwise he would just be an intellectual. In this function he has a lot of ‘queer’ ideas influenced by American human rights ideas and if Chavez follows this counsel, he is not the only one, that might be a dubious thing. I spoke with Cuban comrades who were disquieted by the influence Diderik has in Latin America.

Who is this Diderik?
He is a German who taught at the University of Mexico. He visited Chavez in jail and had interviews with him and from then he has had contact with him and know he is traveling the world propagating his ideas. In this respect it is absolutely necessary to elaborate theory and strengthen theoretical discourse.

What about the positives of Venezuela?
I think there are very many positives from the fact that this country resists American Imperialism and this has huge influence even in the bourgeois leftist circles, for example in Argentine, Brazil although Lula is a separate question, also in Ecuador in Bolivia. It is a positive influence and I hope that under the influence of the real situation in the country Chavez will develop more and more in the socialist direction and as I understand he has great respect for Fidel Castro and Fidel will be of great good I think. I admire Castro. He is one of the very great men of the last century.

November 15, 2009

Health Care Reform? Just say "No".

Dennis Kuchinich (D-Ohio) got it right when he voted "no" on the House's version of health care reform. Yes, what is passing for health care reform in the Congress and White House really is that bad!

At this stage of the health care end game a "no" vote is not a case of ultra-leftism, or a pig-headed refusal to compromise. Instead, a "no" vote from one of the U.S. Congress' most progressive member is an honest statement as to how bad the health care reform packages really are. There is nothing, and I mean NOTHING in either the House or Senate for working people and the poor. What's worse, pending health care legislation actively does harm to workers and the poor by deliberately excluding the most vulnerable segments of the population from health care coverage and at the same time criminalizing this segment of the population for being unable to afford to purchase health insurance.

Also of great importance, House or Senate legislation contains nothing which will limit health care inflation. The failure to deal with astronomical rises in the price of health care will insure that those who are insured will continue to be subject to less and less health care at higher and higher prices.

The big winners in the health care reform game are the insurance companies, who will get a 60 million person captive market forced to buy highly profitable, minimal coverage catastrophic health insurance plans. The other big winners are the health care chains who will benefit when the minimally insured poor check in for their final high-cost terminal illness.

If you ask me, it is asking a lot to ask the poor, working class and unemployed, to fall on their swords to make the Democrats look good. The current health insurance legislation sucks to its last comma. I'd like to suggest, with this analysis in mind, that we call our legislators with the following three messages:

1. That legislators have created a monster that's so bad it should be killed.

2. That legislators of both parties, at least in Oregon, have failed society's most vulnerable individuals miserably.

3. That Democratic Party politicians should be aware that our support is not automatic and might very well not be there in the next election.

I'd also like to suggest that, given the actions of the current Administration and Congress, we on the left start acknowledging what we've always know, that workers have no political party in the U.S., and thus, we learn who to fight from the grass-roots.

November 14, 2009

Venezuela vs Colombia... I think I've seen this act before.


A few days ago I read an article... well, more like a snippet, in the Statesman Journal. Apparently Hugo Chavez has told the Venezuelan army to prepare for war with Colombia. This snippet was buried on page four or five and occupied a plot about three inches by two inches. I know, that's six square inches. But three by two sounds smaller, and I use what I can to my advantage.

Regardless of my tricky techniques, many of us know that the United States has pushed for the use of military bases in Colombia, and seven of them are in the works. Activity is already occurring in this adventure. Of course, predictably, the US and Colombia say these bases are only for use in the fabulously successful War on Drugs. Well, I guess we can all get behind that.

Debating the War on Drugs will be saved for another day. Actually, it probably won't, because it's one of the most ridiculous wars ever, and there you have it, my opinion on that in one sentence.

But I will go back to these bases. Venezuela is for some reason skeptical of these joint US/Colombian plans. They point out that a document presented by the US military to the US Congress declares that this whole drug trafficking prevention scheme may be more than it's being sold as.

Wait, what?

This document states that one of these bases provides a “unique opportunity” for “conducting full-spectrum operations throughout South America”. And apparently cinnamon rolls are available at pizza joints now. Surprises everywhere. Is nothing sacred? I mean, Colombia, yes, obviously a sketchy bunch of folks. But, if you can't trust the good word of the United States, what's left? Just ask Nicaragua. No, don't ask them. El Salvador? Nevermind.

Okay, I may be cynical, but I think I know what's going on here. I think the US Government gives about as much of a crap about cocaine as they do about the sweet loads of poppies now rolling out of Afghanistan. I also know that they ARE for some reason immensely annoyed by populist and leftist movements in Latin America. War on Drugs?.. not very successful. War on the Left in Latin America?.. we've had a few victories there. I think this might be one of those wars. Shh, don't tell everyone.

So, here we go again. Since we can't just plop down a fantastic amphibious landing on the coast of Venezuela and smoke the annoying socialist out of his hole,.. not with Al Jazeera all wandering around. I guess we'll go back to the old proxy method. Oh, Oliver North, where are you now? If that was a song it would be right up there with John Brown's body moulderin' in the grave! We could march to proxy war inspired by Ollie, couldn't we? Didn't we? I don't recall.

Well, the media will doubtful give it much coverage now. But, when Venezuela has to march off, song or no song along the way, to trade fire with "Colombia", the news might talk about it a scad, as they did the coup in Honduras. And as in Honduras, you'll notice the Colombians with their shiny M-16s and AR-15s and other assorted American weaponry. Yes, God blesses America with night-vision goggles and a 30-round clip.

And with the God Blessed Empire comes a shopping list. We love shopping. Every good empire needs its resources. And well, winter is coming. And yes, that Chavez guy is pretty good to low-income Americans 'n all, with his Citgo doling out cheap oil during times of crisis. But what kind of pagan commie goes and gives the proceeds from their oil sales back to the people of his nation? This sort of activity is intolerable, and most likely contagious. What if all of Latin America nationalized their resources? C'mon! Did I mention that Colombia is buried in cocaine? Someone needs to get on that.

Luckily, with our new Communist/Muslim/Christo-Fascist US President we don't have to worry about these bases in Colombia. I heard somewhere that the government can never do anything right. So, obviously this is all a minor hoopla concocted by the usual treehugging beatniks that are so good at that sort of thing. It's probably nothing. Go about your business.

Labor History, the IWW, Centralia: Remember The Dead And Fight For The Living

We try not to use abbreviations or terms that are not familiar to most people. The "IWW" used below refers to the Industrial Workers of the World, popularly known as the Wobblies. Please hit the links provided to learn more about them.

This year and next will mark a number of important labor and radical history anniversaries that should serve to remind us of our past, help us celebrate and organize in the present and prepare for the future. We have the Russian revolution, the west coast longshore organizing, the Minneapolis Teamster strike, the Seattle general strike, the WTO protests and a number of other events to integrate into our work. A commemoration can be modest or a really big deal. Since I don't know a group of people locally who celebrate the liberation of Yugoslavia, or who know much about our Tito, I end up marking the day myself. On the other hand, our Communist Party is rightfully making a big deal out of being 90 years old this year; it has a legacy and past to be proud of.

Ask a group of union members why we should study labor history and you almost always get the answer that we should study history so that we don't make the same mistakes over again. It's a good answer, almost always given by rote learning, but it never satisfies me. If we learned froim our past, labor would be much further along as a movement. Instead, we repeat the same errors and each repitition looks like a sad caricature of the past. So I tell our sisters and brothers that it's okay if you study history for the fun of it, devouring like you might a good meal, or if it awakens in you some passions and curiosity that are ends in themselves or if you can use history as a weapon in the class struggle.

Yesterday and today two of us attended the anniversary of the Centralia Tragedy in Centralia, Washington. A planned and coordinated attack on an IWW hall by members of the American Legion in Centralia on Armistice Day of 1919 left 4 Legionnaires dead. Retaliation came with the horrible assassination or lynching of IWW member Wesley Everest by leading citizens of the town and a prolonged period of repression directed against labor and radical forces in the area. The events of that day still drive people to passionate discussions. A thoughtful mural and an old statue at the Centralia courthouse and Everest's rediscovered grave all help tell the story. The conference was well-attended and there was a good mix of local people with out-of-towners and spanned three generations.

The commemorative conference featured music by Mark Ross taken from labor's past and brought to life in the present. Mark has been a fixture on the left since the 1970s and much of his music reaches back in time for inspiration and energy. I am not a big fan of most so-called "labor music." I would be more of a fan if I knew more workers who sang it and if more of the singers came out of the working class and could use their music to interpret our lived experiences today. Hazel Dickens has been doing it for years.

We saw a brief preview of a still-being-produced film on the Centralia Tragedy by a local student. This looked interesting and homegrown without suffering from cliches or sentimentality. This project is called "The Forgotten: Armistice Day 1919" and we wish Michael Duffy, the film's producer, good luck.

Less satisfying for me was the long documentary film "Lewis County: Hope and Struggles" made by Anne Fischel. Fischel teaches at The Evergreen State College. The film deals with the Tragedy, has a long middle section on Lewis County farming and touches on some of the issues and struggles at stake in today's labor movement.

The film's strong point is in its ability to capture some of the details of the Tragedy and to arouse discussion and debate. It's well-made and meditative. It has footage of the IWW men who survived the repression of 1919 and this footage is slowed to give them fully human dimensions which allows the audience to identify with them. The film doesn't clobber you with facts and transmits some radical thinking quite well.

The downside is that the film transitions from labor issues to farming issues and then back to labor issues poorly and the family farmers interviewed seem to veer into right-wing populism in their interviews. This all passes without comment or needed context. THe IWW would not accept farmers, even tenant farmers, as members. The larger left had a place for them, but this flew very much ion the face of the IWW. The question of whether farmers are capitalists, part of a laboring middle class or part of the proletariat is never dealt with and this makes the film and the filmmaker's intentions somewhat confusing.

The other obvious downside is that the film does not deal with the complexities of the cases of the arrested IWW members, doesn't say much about what happened to them and doesn't critically examine the IWW.

The Saturday sessions we attended were a bit better. Mark Ross was still singing. There was some back-and-forth between Centralia residents and conference speakers. I found the readings of affidavits collected in the twenties and thirties testifying to the innocence of the railroaded IWW members enlightening and moving.

But the overwhelming questions skirted in the conference remain with me: how valid was IWW thinking and practice? How valid could it be today? How does a movement or an organization which claims to hold advanced working class thinking in its hands and head become so dogmatic? The conference was, in some sense, an IWW conference in disguise. We have to judge the IWW along with the conference.

By 1922, and certainly by 1928, most of the IWW's best organizers and most class-conscious members had joined the Communist Party. That said, none of the speakers gave the Party or its broader solidarity organizations much credit at the conference without being pushed to do so. The anarchists--and the IWW is an anarchist organization, regardless of what they say--are rewriting history and casting themselves as its victims. Lenin dealt with their politics, idealism and opportunism in some of his best writings.

Wesley Everest and the other arrested and railroaded Wobblies were indeed victims. But there were hints in the conference presentations that they had little or no grasp of what they were up against, that they lacked a collective discipline and that they attracted a marginal group of workers to their fold and could organize no further than that. Aaron Goings gave a balanced and scholarly presentation on the IWW but was cut off before he could properly finish his talk that might have helped clarify some of these questions.

I won't recommend "Lewis County: Hope and Struggle" or the politics that motivated it. Additional study and debate are needed as we approach the questions raised by the IWW.

Michael Duffy has the hope that an interpretive center can be built in Centralia which will explain the Tragedy to people. It is greatly needed.

November 13, 2009

A Step Forward For Progressive Labor

AFT 1021, part of United Teachers Los Angeles, representing over 10,000 teachers and professional education support personnel, passed the following motions at its meeting Thursday, 11/12/09. If you're a union member and you want your union to take similar steps, you can use these resolutions as a template.

END THE AFGHANISTAN WAR AND SUPPORT DOMESTIC PROGRAMS

Whereas, polls show that a majority of the American people oppose continuation of the war in Afghanistan, 38% support immediate withdrawal, and only 25% favor any increase of troops to be sent there; and

Whereas, since 2001, US taxpayers have spent $ 230 billion on the war in Afghanistan, and

Whereas, military spending creates many fewer jobs than the same amount spent on infrastructure and other domestic needs (Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier, "The Wages of Peace," The Nation, March 31, 2008), and

Whereas, the U.S. death toll in Afghanistan has escalated each year and 830 U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan so far as of 9/15/2009, and

Whereas, the $65 billion to be spent in Afghanistan this year, and the hundreds of billions of dollars required in coming years for counterinsurgency there, are desperately needed for urgent domestic social purposes, including health care for all, housing relief in the foreclosure crisis, full veterans benefits, and the creation of millions of jobs, therefore be it

Resolved, that AFT 1021 call for the U.S. government to end the war and occupation of Afghanistan and end its attacks on neighboring Pakistan; close all military bases in the region; and begin to withdraw all troops, mercenaries, contractors, and weapons immediately, and further

Resolved, that AFT 1021 call for the redirection of the military budget for Afghanistan to reparations for infrastructure and social programs for the Afghani people; and to expenditures to support returning US troops, and to meet urgent human needs domestically, such as education, healthcare, housing, jobs, and other social programs and public services, and further

Resolved, that AFT 1021 will undertake an educational campaign on these issues among its membership and seek to involve the members in the political tasks necessary to implement this resolution in public policy, and further

Resolved, that AFT 1021 endorse local, regional and national mobilizations this month and into the spring that support the goals of this resolution, and finally

Resolved, that AFT 1021 will communicate this resolution to its elected Congressional representatives and affiliates (CFT/AFT, LA County Federation of Labor, US Labor Against the War) with a request that they act accordingly.

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Emergency Resolution on the Current Crisis in Honduras

Whereas, following the June 28, 2009 military coup in Honduras, the AFL-CIO National Convention passed a resolution in September demanding immediate reinstatement of President Manuel Zelaya, restoration of all labor and democratic rights, and an immediate halt to all U.S. aid to the coup government; and

Whereas, a U.S.-brokered deal [the Tegucigalpa/San Jose Accords] to reinstate President Zelaya by November 5th -- in preparation for the Nov. 29th elections -- has unraveled, and the coup regime refused to restore Zelaya to the Presidency. As a result, President Zelaya, denouncing the "bad faith" of the U.S. government, said the Tegucigalpa/San Jose Accords were "a dead letter," and

Whereas, President Zelaya is still taking refuge in the Brazilian Embassy and the Honduran people led by the National Resistance Front Against the Coup (including many teachers in the leadership) continue to mount massive daily demonstrations against the coup regime; which responds with mass tear-gassing and beating of protesters by U.S.-trained army and police in an attempt to suppress the popular will and prevent the exercise of democratic rights; and

Whereas, there is a total lack of political space for opposition candidates to campaign and for the expression of any dissident political opinion, and under the current coup regime, conditions for free, fair and open elections are non-existent; and

Whereas, the National Resistance Front has denounced the Nov. 29th elections as a scheme by "the de facto regime that is repressing the people and violating the civil and human rights of its citizens, with the goal of validating the dictatorship of the oligarchy," and that participating in such an electoral exercise "would give legitimacy to the coup regime or its successor." The Front also stressed that "our stance in opposition to the electoral farce will remain firm even if President Zelaya is reinstated between now and Nov. 29th, since 20 days or less is too short a time to dismantle an electoral fraud many months in the making," and there is no time for opposition candidates to mount a campaign;

Therefore be it resolved, that AFT 1021 stand in solidarity with the heroic people of Honduras as they resist the savage repression of a military dictatorship, and fight to win real democracy and sovereignty for their country; and

Be it further resolved, that AFT 1021 send official letters to Congressional representatives, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and President Obama demanding that the U.S. government take strong measures against the repressive coup government in Honduras -- and whatever government may succeed it as a result of the "electoral farce" scheduled for Nov. 29th. These measures should include: 1) Immediately break off all political and economic ties with the coup government and its successor; 2) Recall the U.S. ambassador; 3) Establish an economic embargo on all trade and aid to Honduras; 4) Freeze the U.S. bank accounts of the coup plotters and deny them visas for U.S. travel; 5) Shut down U.S. military bases in Honduras; and

Be it further resolved, that AFT 1021 demand that the U.S. government denounce and refuse to recognize the results of Nov. 29th elections or any electoral process organized under the repressive coup regime; and

Be it further resolved, that AFT 1021 will submit this resolution as an emergency resolution at the Delegate Assembly of the County Federation of Labor on Monday, November 16, 2009 and further encourage its other affiliates, such as CFT and AFT to adopt similar resolutions; and

Finally be it resolved, that AFT 1021 make common cause with other labor and community organizations, to develop a reliable support network for the National Resistance Front against the Coup, and for the labor unions, especially the teachers union, that are at the center of the Resistance movement in Honduras.

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Call for Statewide Day of Action to Support Public Education

Whereas, California public education from pre-kindergarten through college and adult ed, is facing its most dangerous crisis in years; with funding cuts, tuition increases, reduction of college seats available, furlough days for educators and support staff, and layoffs of employees and outright closures of entire departments; and

Whereas, new registrations for anti-union referenda have been introduced in order to further damage education workers and their unions, and

Whereas, the official national, state and, in many cases, local agendas for public education will result in increased class size, increased testing, teacher accountability measures which do not take into account many factors, and the creation of tiered categories of employment based on such measures, and

Whereas, following successful statewide events at CSU, UC and community college campuses in September, 2009, a conference is being held on October 24 in San Francisco to explore the possibilities of statewide actions to "Save public education! No budget cuts, fee hikes, or layoffs!
For state-wide student, worker, and faculty solidarity!"; therefore, let it be

Resolved, that AFT 1021 join the call for a statewide day of action to be held March 4, 2009, to include the demands of 1) restoring full funding of all public education, 2) assuring all of our students their right to a safe and free public education, 3) maintaining the rights of education employees to guaranteed pay, benefits and safe working conditions, and 4) ensuring adequate funding for the health, housing, jobs and safety of all working people; and further

Resolved, that AFT 1021 will organize within United Teachers Los Angeles (including bringing this resolution or a similar one to the House and Board of Directors of UTLA) its own internal education campaign, and mobilize support for an action locally, building coalitions with other education and affiliated unions, teachers, students, and community organizations to further the goals of this resolution, and finally

Resolved, that AFT 1021 will carry this resolution to CFT and to the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor for their concurrence and support.

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Support the Call for Solidarity Day III March and Rally in Washington, DC next spring

Resolved, that AFT 1021 call on the AFL-CIO and Change to Win to organize a Solidarity Day III march on Washington D.C. in the spring of 2010 to demand jobs, housing, health care, full funding for public education and social services, and peace.

________

Community Input on military academies and opposition to charters

Whereas, the forces of educational privatization and charter companies are making strong attempts to convert existing public school campuses throughout the country, and

Whereas, the forces of educational privatization and charter companies are seeking to convert new publicly-funded school construction projects to charters and other types of schools, and

Whereas, community, parent, faculty, labor, and youth voices are not part of the dialogue that allows for these charterizations and privatizations, and

Whereas, existing collective bargaining agreeements are being circumvented and ignored in this process, and

Whereas, many of these schools may be initiated or converted by private companies into military-style academies,

Therefore, let it be resolved, that the CFT insist that any new military and military-style academies in public school districts thaqt utilize school district resources conduct community forums where community stakeholders can provide input and vote on the militarization of the local school,

Be it further resolved, that the CFT discourage charterization and privatization of public schools in any form if community, labor, and parent voices are not included in the formation of these charter or private schools, receiving public dollars, or using publicly financed construction projects,

Be it finally resolved, that the CFT publicize this stand to all CFT locals and affiliates, and forward to the AFT for ratification at the 2010 AFT Convention.

Andy Griggs
lauslaw2@gmail.com
310-704-3217

November 12, 2009

Cascade AIDS Project Open House In Portland

Open House
4:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Savory on the eighth floor, sweets on the first!
208 Southwest Fifth Avenue, 8th floor (CAP Main Office)
209 Southwest Fourth Avenue (Men's Wellness Center)
Light Hors D'oeuvres & Beverages Served
Please RSVP by December 4, 2009
ecollins@cascadeaids.org or 503.278.3811
Feel free to forward this invitation - everyone is welcome!
_______________________________________________________
Cascade AIDS Project and Men's Wellness Center Move to New Location!
As of July 2009, Cascade AIDS Project moved four blocks north on Fifth Avenue to a new home that will allow the agency to consolidate and expand its services. With 12,000 square feet of office space on the 8th floor and 3,000 more on the first floor for their Men's Wellness Center, the agency was able to secure a deal at the beginning of 2009 that only a crashed economy could deliver. For roughly the same square foot price of their old space, which CAP had occupied for 15 years, the new site came with a half million dollar build-out covered by the landlord, four months free rent, and a $75,000 cash moving allowance. You are invited to an Open House to visit with CAP staff and tour the new space.

November 11, 2009

Veterans Day Lesson

I felt compelled today to simply post a paragraph from the introduction to a book I am currently reading. Ironically enough, it's entitled Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour, by Joseph E. Persico.

"One hopes that so cruel and pointless a conflict as World War I would, at the very least, have suggested lessons for avoiding a repetition. I thought, as a long-ago college student, that if every world leader was compelled to read Erich Maria Remarque's World War I masterpiece, All Quiet on the Western Front, there could be no more wars. We ultimately recognize, however, that those who instigate wars are not blind to their horrors but undeterred by them. The lives lost are only the purchase price that a leader is willing to pay for objectives, noble or ignoble, especially since that leader will likely still be standing at the end. We conclude, finally, that while situations shift, human nature does not. The same impulses - gain, glory, fear, pride, honor, envy, retribution - coupled with short collective memories will continue to propel mankind into a never-ending cycle of conflict occasionally interrupted by peace."

Quick! Guess What Country This Is!

Imagine a country where prices don't go up for more than 30 years yet salaries rise by around 4 per cent every year.

A country where unemployment is unknown, employees are unsackable and childcare is readily available for next to nothing.

Of course, no such country exists.

But once it did and for 22 years I was one of its citizens. What was this country?

Read the story here.

Just In Time For Veteran's Day: The November Peace Worker Is On-Line

Table of Contents:

Opinion and Analysis
Think Outside the Box by Peter Bergel
Starting Another Year of War in Afghanistan by Norman Solomon
The Myth of the Powerless by Ken McCormack
Moving Beyond War in Afghanistan by Winslow Myers
Obama Peace Prize: Three Views

Letters to the Editor

The Big Picture
Army Prisoners Isolated, Denied Right to Legal Counsel by Dahr Jamail
Schrader, DeFazio Call on Obama to Deescalate in Afghanistan
Michael Moore's Action Plan: 15 Things Every American Can Do Right Now
We Were Arrested for Speaking by David Swanson
News Reports from Inside the Financial Coup by David Degraw

Beltway Bulletin by Phil Carver

Focus Topic: What We Are Thankful For
Humanity Reconstitutes the World As Never Before by Paul Hawken
Obama and Medvedev Cut Nuclear Weapons by Ben Spencer
Rev. Gail McDougle - 2009 Salem Peacemaker Award Winner by Peter Bergel
Sgt. Kevin Benderman, An American Hero by Cynthia McKinney
Making Nature Sacred Again - The Politics of Enchantment by William James Gibson
WWII Pacifists Served in Oregon by Jeffrey Kovac

Brief-ings

SMART Stuff
Obama at the U.N.: Securing Our Future by Robert F. Dodge
Another Nobel Controversy by Lawrence S. Wittner

What's Happening in the Movement
Imagine Eugene City of Peace by David Hazen
350.org Walk, Other Oregon Actions, Join Worldwide Event by Peter Bergel

OPW News
Dolores Huerta Brings Her Message to Salem by Peter Bergel
Holiday Party, Annual Meeting and Great Getaway Raffle by Peter Bergel

PLUS a calendar of events!

Read it here.

November 10, 2009

Exploitation Soars, Unemployment Jumps!

With all of the anti-communist hoopla yesterday and today on the radio, and the absence of celebrations marking the 1917 revolution by leading left groups here in the US, you may have forgotten that we have a so-called "jobless recovery" under way. Read about it at ZZ's blog:

This sure is some recovery! The first week in November brought remarkable results for an economy widely held to be on the mend. Earnings of corporations are on the rise, the stock market is perking up, and the Administration is claiming credit for pulling the economy back from the brink and setting it well on the course to health.

But in the other world, the world outside of Wall Street, gated communities, and the political elite, the news is catastrophic, pushing the misery index dramatically higher.


Read more here.

November 9, 2009

Proposed Roads To Freedom

We did a great forum in Salem yesterday on the peace movement. Will Seaman, one of the speakers, referred to Proposed Roads To Freedom by Bertrand Russell. The text opens with this:

The attempt to conceive imaginatively a better ordering of human society than the destructive and cruel chaos in which mankind has hitherto existed is by no means modern: it is at least as old as Plato, whose ``Republic'' set the model for the Utopias of subsequent philosophers. Whoever contemplates the world in the light of an ideal--whether what he seeks be intellect, or art, or love, or simple happiness, or all together--must feel a great sorrow in the evils that men needlessly allow to continue, and--if he be a man of force and vital energy--an urgent desire to lead men to the realization of the good which inspires his creative vision. It is this desire which has been the primary force moving the pioneers of Socialism and Anarchism, as it moved the inventors of ideal commonwealths in the past. In this there is nothing new. What is new in Socialism and Anarchism, is that close relation of the ideal to the present sufferings of men, which has enabled powerful political movements to grow out of the hopes of solitary thinkers. It is this that makes Socialism and Anarchism important, and it is this that makes them dangerous to those who batten, consciously or unconsciously upon the evils of our present order of society.

You can read the entire text here.

FIDEL PREPARES



fidel-castro-barack-obama-suenos-padre-03
New pictures of Fidel were published recently in Paris Match.
This is my favorite. It looks like he is studying up on Barack by reading his autobiography Dreams Of My Father in Spanish.
No doubt he will be ready to participate in any meetings to discuss ending the blockade.
The way it is looking right now it is another change that is not forthcoming from our President.

November 8, 2009

Why I Voted No

From CommonDreams.org, by that dogmatic ultra-leftist Dennis Kucinich, who is clearly out of touch with the democratic people's movement led by President Obama:


We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.

Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.

But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. In H.R. 3962, the government is requiring at least 21 million Americans to buy private health insurance from the very industry that causes costs to be so high, which will result in at least $70 billion in new annual revenue, much of which is coming from taxpayers. This inevitably will lead to even more costs, more subsidies, and higher profits for insurance companies - a bailout under a blue cross.

By incurring only a new requirement to cover pre-existing conditions, a weakened public option, and a few other important but limited concessions, the health insurance companies are getting quite a deal. The Center for American Progress' blog, Think Progress, states, 'since the President signaled that he is backing away from the public option, health insurance stocks have been on the rise.' Similarly, healthcare stocks rallied when Senator Max Baucus introduced a bill without a public option. Bloomberg reports that Curtis Lane, a prominent health industry investor, predicted a few weeks ago that 'money will start flowing in again' to health insurance stocks after passage of the legislation. Investors.com last month reported that pharmacy benefit managers share prices are hitting all-time highs, with the only industry worry that the Administration would reverse its decision not to negotiate Medicare Part D drug prices, leaving in place a Bush Administration policy.

During the debate, when the interests of insurance companies would have been effectively challenged, that challenge was turned back. The 'robust public option' which would have offered a modicum of competition to a monopolistic industry was whittled down from an initial potential enrollment of 129 million Americans to 6 million. An amendment which would have protected the rights of states to pursue single-payer health care was stripped from the bill at the request of the Administration. Looking ahead, we cringe at the prospect of even greater favors for insurance companies.

Recent rises in unemployment indicate a widening separation between the finance economy and the real economy. The finance economy considers the health of Wall Street, rising corporate profits, and banks' hoarding of cash, much of it from taxpayers, as sign of an economic recovery. However in the real economy - in which most Americans live - the recession is not over. Rising unemployment, business failures, bankruptcies and foreclosures are still hammering Main Street.

This health care bill continues the redistribution of wealth to Wall Street at the expense of America's manufacturing and service economies which suffer from costs other countries do not have to bear, especially the cost of health care. America continues to stand out among all industrialized nations for its privatized health care system. As a result, we are less competitive in steel, automotive, aerospace and shipping while other countries subsidize their exports in these areas through socializing the cost of health care.

Notwithstanding the fate of H.R. 3962, America will someday come to recognize the broad social and economic benefits of a not-for-profit, single-payer health care system, which is good for the American people and good for America's businesses, with of course the notable exceptions being insurance and pharmaceuticals.