Monday, May 31, 2010

Viva! Viva! Palestina!

Viva! Viva! Palestina!

by Annie Fox and Ray Phillips

With only a few hours notice and planning, and this uniquely Miami chant, more than one hundred South Floridians came together in downtown Miami, across from the Israeli Consulate, to condemn the Israeli attack on peaceful protesters bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Participants came from as far away as Tampa, 250 miles away. We were Palestinian, Jewish, and Turkish; Black, Brown and White; young and old; women and men. All came together in solidarity with the people of Gaza, the people of Palestine, to demand that Obama condemn Israel's violent violation of international law, her "State Piracy." With "Not one penny! Not one dime! No more money for Israel's crimes!" the crowd demanded an end to U.S. aid to Israel, aid that is used to take land from the Palestinian people, to demolish their homes, to isolate them from the outside world, to drive them into poverty, to disposes them, to deprive them of basic human and political rights. Chanting "From Iraq to Palestine, occupation is a crime," protesters damned the U.S. role in the Middle East in perpetrating and funding imperialism, even genocide. "Gaza, Gaza, don't you cry. Palestine will never die!" lauded and affirmed the determination and fortitude of the Palestinian people in the face of repeated attacks, an inhuman blockade, and decades of repression by the Israeli state. With "No justice? No peace!" all sang their unity with the Palestinian people.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

"Socialism" Not So Negative, "Capitalism" Not So Positive

“Socialism” is a negative for most Americans, but certainly not all Americans. “Capitalism” is regarded positively by a majority of the public, though it is a thin majority. There are certain segments of the public – notably, young people and Democrats – where both “isms” are rated about equally. And while most Americans have a negative reaction to the word “militia,” the term is viewed more positively by Republican men than most other groups.

These are among the findings of a national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press that tests reactions to words and phrases frequently used in current political discourse. Overall, 29% say they have a positive reaction to the word “socialism,” while 59% react negatively. The public’s impressions of “capitalism,” though far more positive, are somewhat mixed. Slightly more than half (52%) react positively to the word “capitalism,” compared with 37% who say they have a negative reaction.

A large majority of Republicans (77%) react negatively to “socialism,” while 62% have a positive reaction to “capitalism.” Democrats’ impressions are more divided: In fact, about as many Democrats react positively to “socialism” (44%) as to “capitalism” (47%).

Reaction to “capitalism” is lukewarm among many demographic groups. Fewer than half of young people, women, people with lower incomes and those with less education react positively to “capitalism.”

Read the whole report here...

Friday, May 28, 2010

Military spending comes at the expense of local communities...

[The following was adopted at the CPUSA convention]

Whereas, U.S. military spending for FY 2011 is projected to be $1.4 trillion and this massive, wasteful spending is the might behind US transnational corporate domination and the enrichment of the military-industrial complex;

Whereas, It comes at the expense of states and local communities, struggling with a $180 billion collective deficit, devastating cuts to social services and education, and massive layoffs of public workers;

Whereas, US military spending plus the cost of two wars and hundreds of U.S. military bases worldwide are a chief obstacle to funding massive federal jobs creation, public education, health care, mass transit, affordable housing, other infrastructure needs and aid to the states and municipalities;

Whereas, Militarization of the economy negatively impacts economic growth, the same money could create far more jobs in the public sphere. Deep cuts in military spending are a social imperative;

Whereas, Despite the Obama administration exemption of cuts in military spending, there is a growing recognition of the destructiveness of high military spending and the costs of militarism;

Whereas, A 2009 Pew Research Poll revealed a total of 55% of Americans wanted to decrease (18%) military spending or keep it the same (37%); only 40% wanted it to increase. Some members of Congress have renewed a call for a 25% cut and the elimination of Cold War weapons systems as a first step;

Whereas, The Obama administration is under intense pressure from the right wing, some corporate ruling and military circles to continue militaristic policies and the historic imperialist trajectory of US foreign policy. However, the Obama administration, also reflecting counter-currents, has taken some important steps in the opposite direction. This creates new opportunities to demilitarize the economy and change our foreign policy;

Read the whole post here...

Read other resolutions adopted here...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Rethinking the quest to "maintain U.S. global leadership"

In response to WaPo article posted below. I think U.S. global leadership exists and countries will look to our government and capitalist class because of their position economically and militarily. But maintaining "U.S. global leadership" simply out of jingoist or nationalist reasons or a "we're # 1 posture" is a bad idea; multilateralism and global cooperative development of green technologies even if this means more of a shared model of global partnership with a host of other countries based on goals and joint peace-related projects rather than force, militarism, power is a better model for avoiding the pitfalls and dangers we now face.

--Joel Wendland

President Obama's national security strategy looks beyond military might
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post
Thursday, May 27, 2010

Military superiority is not enough to maintain U.S. strength and influence in the world, and the United States must build global institutions and expand international partnerships beyond its traditional allies, according to a new national security strategy prepared by the Obama administration.

Maintaining U.S. global leadership will also depend on a strong domestic economy and a commitment to "education, clean energy, science and technology, and a reduced federal deficit," the White House said in talking points summarizing the strategy document, which is scheduled for formal release Thursday.

The new doctrine represents a clear break with the unilateral military approach advocated by the Bush administration after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Bush tempered that doctrine toward the end of his presidency, but the Obama doctrine offers a far broader definition of national security.

While military advantage will remain "a cornerstone of our national defense and an anchor of global security," the strategy calls for "new partnerships with emerging centers of influence" and a "push for institutions that are more capable of responding to the challenges of our times," the summary said. At home, the strategy recognizes "American innovation . . . as a leading source of American power."

Read the whole kit-n-kaboodle...


Science News

Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?
ScienceDaily (May 25, 2010) — Exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behavior, according to research presented at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology in San Diego.

"Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature," says Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, who conducted the research with her colleague Susan Jenks.
Previous research studies on M. vaccae showed that heat-killed bacteria injected into mice stimulated growth of some neurons in the brain that resulted in increased levels of serotonin and decreased anxiety.
"Since serotonin plays a role in learning we wondered if live M. vaccae could improve learning in mice," says Matthews.
Matthews and Jenks fed live bacteria to mice and assessed their ability to navigate a maze compared to control mice that were not fed the bacteria.
"We found that mice that were fed live M. vaccae navigated the maze twice as fast and with less demonstrated anxiety behaviors as control mice," says Matthews.
In a second experiment the bacteria were removed from the diet of the experimental mice and they were retested. While the mice ran the maze slower than they did when they were ingesting the bacteria, on average they were still faster than the controls.
A final test was given to the mice after three weeks' rest. While the experimental mice continued to navigate the maze faster than the controls, the results were no longer statistically significant, suggesting the effect is temporary.
"This research suggests that M. vaccae may play a role in anxiety and learning in mammals," says Matthews. "It is interesting to speculate that creating learning environments in schools that include time in the outdoors where M. vaccae is present may decrease anxiety and improve the ability to learn new tasks."

[But why just traipse about in nature? Why not brew up vats of M. vaccae and bottle it as 'Brain Brew." It could be imbibed before taking the SATs or the GRE (GED for that matter). Delegates to national conventions of political parties could drink a bottle daily to prevent the passage of dumb platforms and resolutions. Maybe M. vaccae could be dried and put into tea bags and made into a popular beverage to undermine the influence of Sarah Palin. tr]

Cops don't like Arizona's anti-immigrant law

Arizona immigration law will boost crime in U.S. cities, police chiefs say
By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post

Arizona's new crackdown on illegal immigration will increase crime in U.S. cities, not reduce it, by driving a wedge between police and immigrant communities, police chiefs from several of the state's and the nation's largest cities said Tuesday.

The new Arizona law will intimidate crime victims and witnesses who are illegal immigrants and divert police from investigating more serious crimes, chiefs from Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia said. They will join their counterparts from Montgomery County and a half-dozen other U.S. cities in meeting Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday morning to discuss the measure.

Read the article here...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

War makes you poor

Take Action
from Friends Committee on National Legislation


Teabagger myths about health reform debunked


We’ve seldom seen a piece of legislation so widely misrepresented, and misunderstood, as the new health care law. We stopped counting the number of articles and items we turned out on the subject after the total reached 100.

Some of that is understandable. The debate went on for more than a year, while the different House and Senate bills changed their shape constantly. The final law was the product of an awkward two-step legislative dance that first enacted the Senate’s version, then quickly amended it with a reconciliation "fix." No wonder people are confused.

And even now the misrepresentations continue. The new law is no longer a moving target, but some opponents persist in making false or exaggerated claims about it. Our inboxes are filled with messages asking about assertions that the new law:

* Requires patients to be implanted with microchips. (No, it doesn’t.)
* Cuts benefits for military families and retirees. (No. The TRICARE program isn’t affected.)
* Exempts Muslims from the requirement to obtain coverage. (Not specifically. It does have a religious exemption, but that is intended for Old Order Amish.)
* Allows insurance companies to continue denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions. (Insurance companies have agreed not to exploit a loophole that might have allowed this.)
* Will require 16,500 armed IRS agents to enforce. (No. Criminal penalties are waived.)
* Gives President Obama a Nazi-like "private army." (No. It provides a reserve corps of doctors and other health workers for emergencies.)
* "Exempts" House and Senate members. (No. Their coverage may not be as good as before, in fact.)
* Covers erectile-dysfunction drugs for sex offenders. (Just as it was before the new law, those no longer in jail can buy any insurance plan they choose.)
* Provides federal funding for abortions. (Not directly. But neither side in the abortion debate is happy with the law.)

Read the rest here...

Corporations hate Obama

A measure of who is going in the right direction...

The Old Enemies
Published: May 23, 2010

So here’s how it is: They’re as mad as hell, and they’re not going to take this anymore. Am I talking about the Tea Partiers? No, I’m talking about the corporations.

Much reporting on opposition to the Obama administration portrays it as a sort of populist uprising. Yet the antics of the socialism-and-death-panels crowd are only part of the story of anti-Obamaism, and arguably the less important part. If you really want to know what’s going on, watch the corporations.

How can you do that? Follow the money — donations by corporate political action committees.

Read the whole story here...

Time of Day

by Jack Kurzweil

When asked what time it was, Yogi Berra responded, "You mean, right now?"

For those who are involved in politics, the question is "What's the political time of day, like right now?" What's happening in this country on the large scale? What's the Obama Administration trying to do? What are its internal limitations and its external constraints? And what should progressives be trying to accomplish?

When, during the election campaign, Obama said that he admired Reagan for having captured the mood of the country and shifting the governance of the country according to that mood, I don't believe that he was conveying his approval of the character of the changes. Rather, I think that he was admiring the process of transformation because he envisions his administration initiating a process of change of direction of the nation as well.

Reagan's "revolution" was to distance government on all levels from responsibility for infrastructure, corporate regulation, and social safety net while strengthening the military industrial complex, setting the stage for globalization, breaking the unions, and initiating the most extraordinary transfer of wealth to the ruling classes that this nation had not seen since the 1880's. The slogan, then as now, was free markets and limited government. And that slogan has taken hold; it now represents a deeply held feeling in this country, even among those for whom the absence of government has been crippling.

The Clinton administration, an eight year long hiccup preceded by eight years of Reagan and four of Daddy Bush and followed by eight of Baby Bush, was unwilling or unable to resist the Reagan revolution. Clinton and Gore supported NAFTA and happily proclaimed that the "era of big government is over". Even so, the right wing attack machine proclaimed the illegitimacy of the Clinton presidency. The neocon warhawks, who came to power with Baby Bush, had pilloried Clinton and yearned to implement their plans for US global domination. They accomplished this goal with wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So we have had 28 years of growing globalization, shrinking domestic manufacturing, deregulation of just about everything, a massive increase in the prison population, two debilitating wars, and a vast increase in the resources of the military – industrial complex. Accompanying and justifying all of this is the complex of right wing think tanks, media and the like. The right has, along with these institutional shifts, succeeded in changing the thinking of a significant portion of the American people, persuading them to organize and vote against their own economic interests. In the process, they have left the United States a wreck.

In the broadest terms, I think that Obama has set his administration the task of beginning the process of reversing the Reagan revolution and bringing government back to the job of providing for the common good, a return to a contemporary version of Keynesian economics and the New Deal. The difficulty is that although Obama is moving many things in a progressive direction, there is great disappointment among progressives about how far he is willing to go. His problems arise when the 'common good' requires taking steps against the prerogatives and interests of large corporations - when those interests stand in the way of the reforms needed to solve the problems facing our society. That's where he vacillates - and fails to fight for a truly effective reform program. The refusal to consistently and adequately pursue the 'common good' where it conflicts with corporate interests is, I believe, the main thing separating Centrists from Progressives. They are trying to ride two different horses.

And I think that in the broadest terms, Obama is looking for ways to stand down from the vision of a permanently engaged US military. I do not think that this should be understood as moving toward a progressive foreign policy. The foreign policy of the United States will remain that of a hegemon, but Obama's team seems somewhat more ready to adjust to the realities of the world.

Obama came to the presidency with the support of significant sections of the ruling elites, including many who had financially benefited from the policies of the past decades. For progressives to wrap their arms around this complexity, we must try to understand that some rich and powerful people, movers and shakers can simultaneously work to advance and protect their own wealth and be in favor of changing the direction of this country as a whole. But he also came to the Presidency with the hopes and energy of energy of a people that were disgusted with Republican rule and wanted a different direction.

I would also caution against overstating Obama's mandate for change. Although Obama won a resounding victory in the Electoral College, the popular vote in his favor was a mere 53 - 47. And this was with a Republican ticket that came from a Monty Python show. Obama was trailing McCain until the economic crisis exploded. Were that explosion to have happened a few months later, McCain could very well have won. That's how close the election was. And that's an illustration of the divided mindset of the American people, not only about race, but also about the role of government.

I think that the issue of the role of government is at the core of what the current struggles in DC, as well as in state and local government, are all about. Since the election the Republican Party has shown itself to be interested in just one thing - bringing down the Obama administration and its political vehicle has been "big government". I want to emphasize this point. Although progressives were and continue to be strong advocates for Medicare for All and the Public Option, the resistance of Republicans and conservative Democrats was not, in my view, in the first place to those proposals. Rather, it was resistance to the IDEA that government had a place in health care at all or should be considered a right.

I think that discussing the Republicans should be a starting point for progressives. To restate what everyone knows, the Republicans have continually moved farther to the right in the past decades to the point that there no longer is any significant entity that could be called "moderate Republicans". Those few who could be so characterized have been captured and are held hostage by the right - wing core of the Party. They now have 41 seats in the Senate, making them able to stop most things unless there is full Democratic unity. That power gives conservative Democrats power well beyond their numbers and that power will continue for the foreseeable future unless the Democrats are able to defeat some of the Republicans who now come from quite conservative states. As we have seen, this political and structural reality has dramatic political consequences.

It is important to remember that the Democrats split on issues of globalization during the Clinton administration and that split continues to this day. Clinton Democrats allied themselves with the majority of the corporate (as opposed to libertarian and protectionist) Republicans in opposition to the progressive Democrats to win NAFTA and to loosen financial regulations. The Democrats split over the war in Iraq as well. That means the New Democrats were among globalization's ideological leaders. Major sections of Wall Street, once a Republican bastion, are now firmly entrenched in the Democratic Party, although that may not last as the Obama administration presses for financial reform.

The next big fight, the one that has already started, is over whether big financial institutions should be regulated at all. The Republicans are saying NO and the conservative Democrats will pull the debate to the right. There is no doubt in my mind that Progressives should be prepared to be disappointed with the specific legislative outcomes of this fight. The same thing will happen with legislation about energy and environment, with workers rights, with immigration, and with every other issue of consequence that will arise during this administration.

Aside from taxing the rich, military spending is the elephant in the room. I would argue that the power of the military - industrial complex has increased dramatically in the past decades, not only because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also because of the extraordinary level of privatization of the military establishment during that period.

On all of these issues, the fight that will be fought will be over whether the government should be acting for the common good of all of society or for the narrow interests of the most conservative of the corporate elites. It will not be fought over what is the progressive solution to the problem at hand.

Given all of this, I think that progressives should be giving a continuing shoutout and support for the Progressive, Black, and Latino Caucuses that, for the most part, have been at the cutting edge of advancing progressive legislation, often being forced to retreat and regroup, and remaining the core of efforts to achieve peace and justice.

So all of this poses some interesting challenges to progressives. Who must hold in mind multiple contradictory ideas and realities while reflecting on these goals:

1. supporting the shift that the Obama administration represents, moving to have government assume responsibility for the well-being of the country and its people.

2. advancing progressive solutions to the burning problems of the day.

3. ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

4. increasing the power of progressives in the Democratic Party and build independent progressive movements.

5. defeating Republicans at the polls.

6. holding conservative Democrats to account, pressuring them to support the movement away from Reaganism and support reforms of our corporate culture.

For political activists on the left, this is not simply a mind game. It is at the core of what we do. We do want to advance a progressive agenda; we do want the most progressive proposals to see the light of day, we do want the opportunity to win support for a progressive agenda beyond the ranks of progressives, and we do want to challenge the Democratic Party to consider these more fundamental reforms.

At the same time, we want to defeat the Republicans. We really want to do that because we are now seeing what the Republicans really are. And it's very scary.

I think that we are now in the fight of our lives. The Obama victory has provided an opening for the struggle to place government back into the role of being the economic and structural champion of working people. But it does so with the legacy of Reaganism and neo-liberalism having captured the high ground of the political conversation in this country and the thinking of a major portion of the American people.

I am not offering a playbook or a solution, but rather an invitation to complex and contradictory thinking about complex and contradictory circumstances.

I suggest that this is the time of day.

With thanks to Nancy Friedman and Matthew Hallinan

Bay Area event: check it out


Friday, June 4, 2010 at 7:30 p.m.

Movie: “American Violet” - Based upon a true story of a woman in Texas who fought against systematic criminal frame-ups of several black citizens, on drug charges, and won.

Saturday, June 5, 2010 at 10:00 a.m.

Discussion: The Prison Industrial Complex. Why is the United States the country with the highest number of prisoners per thousand persons in the world? How did our country's prison population mushroom from 500,000 in the 1970s to over 2 million today? Why are the numbers of African American, Latino, and other prisoners of color way out of kilter compared to their numbers in the US population? And what should we be doing about it? How do we combat this racism? How can we organize?

Suggested Readings:

Anthony Papa, “Congress Must Change Racist Crack Cocaine Laws

Seth Sandronsky, “U.S. Inequality and Racism: ‘The Hiring Crisis for America’s Black Teens’”

Juan Lopez, “One Family’s “American Violet” Experience

All articles are available in hard copy at the:
Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library for Social Research
6501 Telegraph Ave., Oakland (bet. Alcatraz and 66th)
Phone (510) 595-7417


Monday, May 24, 2010

Building a New Peace Movement, an Interview with Judith Le Blanc

Originally from

PA: Currently it seems as though the economic crisis and the health care debate have really pushed peace movement issues off the priority list? What do you think the peace movement can or should be done to re-center that effort?

Judith Le Blanc: The peace movement played a critical role in the results of the 2008 elections, and for anybody who has read Game Change and was active in the anti-Iraq War movement, you can really can see that it made a difference. Behind the scenes in the campaigns, both during the democratic primary and in the general elections, people were concerned about the positions the candidates were taking, because they knew the power of the grassroots sentiment opposing the war in Iraq.

The peace movement is now in a period of transition, transitioning from a kind of historical role of being one of the decisive movements working on one of the most critical issues facing the country. Now organizations that sprang up from the grassroots and formed national coalitions that were able to mobilize hundreds of thousands are in a transition from that historic moment to a moment where we have to build a new kind of peace movement from the grassroots up, a peace movement that links the issues and organizes on the basis of relating to other movements which are adjusting to the economic crisis.

Read the whole interview here...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Video: International Greetings and more

Greetings to the CPUSA Convention from Fraternal Parties (excerpts)

(The full statements from all the parties will be listed soon at

Japanese Communist Party:

"....We hope that your convention makes an important contribution to advancing struggle to oppose poverty and joblessness, to improve people's living conditions and promote human rights, and to bring about better education health care, and social security services. We also hope it contributes to development of anti-nuclear and peace movements as well as grassroots movements aiming for a change in the U.s> military and foreign policy...."

AKEL (Cyprus)

...."Your Congress is convened under difficult conditions for the working class and the peoples of the world. Humanity is witnessing during the last two years a global economic crisis that constitutes the clearest indication of the failure of the capitalist system....

We therefor consider as very significant and timely the topic you have chosen as the main theme at your congress...."A Call for United Action to Create Jobs...."

Tudeh Party of Iran

...."We wish your 29the congress a full success in formulating your program of action to develop the struggle of the working class of the USA for peace, welfare, social justice and socialism....

We believe that even under the present difficult conditions, the progressive forces are capable of, and have the historical opportunity to oppose Imperialism and create the necessary conditions for a successful struggle for peace and social progress...."

Communist Party of Viet Nam

....The Communist Party of Viet Nam has always attached great importance to the time-tested relations of friendship, solidarity, and cooperation with the Communist Party of the United States of America....."

More in a moment...

Happy Birthday Harvey Milk

CPUSA celebrated the 80th birthday of Harvey Milk by singing "Happy Birthday" at its convention today. Sorry no royalties.

The Struggle for Equality

Notes from Jarvis Tyner's report to the CPUSA convention

Hits on the importance of Americans electing an African American president and at the same time defeating a thirty year GOP stranglehold on the government.

Tyner noted the transformative effect of the campaign and the victory in terms of the struggle for civil rights and human rights since.

A new racist counter-offensive has emerged, "it is a major threat to everything we've won or could win in this period."

The Republicans assumed the party of "no" and proceeded to sabotage every reform needed to bring the country out of economic crisis.

Structural racism remains a fundamental part of U.S. capitalism, but since the election we've have seen a number of changes that have weakened that structure.

The racist threat from the Republicans has made the fight against racism a key feature of today's struggles.

Every time Sarah Palin speaks she says the Tea Party isn't racist. She has to, because everyone thinks they are. Palin downplays the racism of her movement and claims they are just "angry" and resentful of Obama givign to much to minorities. And now in response they want to take it back.

These ideas and claims and goals are pure racism, Tyner said.

Rand Paul, for example, who won the GOP nomination in Kentucky. He admitted that he was opposed to civil rights enforcement when it comes to private companies. It violates their first amendment rights. But, Tyner pointed out, that Paul really wants to eliminate government altogether, and that means any enforcement of civil rights protections.

Paul's claim that African Americans would have been just fine without the civil rights act represents the kind of mentality we're dealing with.

The tea party is behind the racist anti-immigration laws in Arizona.

Paul also tried to shift the burden of responsibility for the Gulf oil spill away from BP.

"If you don't smell the scent of fascism, you might need some aroma therapy," Tyner responded.

WE can now talk about a Marshall Plan for recovering the economy, and supporting the Steelworkers call for launching a new civil rights movement around economic recovery.

Tyner lauded AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka's consistent call to fight racism during the election campaign and since. Tyner quote Trumka:

There are forces in our country that are working hard to convert justifiable anger about an economy that only seems to work for a few of us into racist and homophobic hate and violence directed at our President and heroes like Congressman John Lewis. Most of all, those forces of hate seek to divide working people – to turn our anger against each other.

So I also want to talk to you tonight about what I believe is the only way to fight the forces of hatred—with a strong progressive tradition that includes working people in action, organizing unions and organizing to elect public officials committed to bold action to address economic suffering. That progressive tradition has drawn its strength from an alliance of the poor and the middle class—everyone who works for a living.

Tyner also called for a jobs program that uses affirmative action policies to ensure that African American and Latino workers are not left out, because they face the worst effects of the crisis.

Youth are increasingly developing a pro-socialist attitude and should be apart of the Young Communist League.

The fight against racism against the Tea Party fanatics has to be our highest priority. And white communists have a special role in leading that charge.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Economics commission report

Program for jobs

In his report, Art Perlo, who chairs the Economics Commission of the CPUSA, called the recession the worst crisis since the Great Depression.

The official unemployment rate, already very high, doesn't tell the whole story. Some 30 million workers or around 21 percent of the workforce are unemployed, underemployed or discouraged workers.

Perlo called for passage of the jobs bill, expansion of unemployment benefits, and strengthening of the social safety net and anti-poverty programs.

Unemployment disproportionately affects African Americans, Latinos and youth.

He noted that investments in the green economy – away from war and prisons – can rebuild the real economy to meet human needs. For example, dozens of cities around the country need expanded public transportation services like buses and trains. Wind and solar energy could meet U.S. demand for electricity and reduce emissions that cause greenhouse gas pollution.

Green development could create 5.7 million jobs.

Education, public health and other social services are being destroyed by budget cuts and layoffs. Real investments in these areas are needed to build the future for society and for the quality of life for all Americans.

He called for rebuilding the social infrastructure to create 11 million jobs, beginning immediately.

Conversion of shut-down factories now to create needed goods could create some 21 million jobs.

He argued that new job creation should be targeted at communities hid hardest by the crisis, especially African American and Latino communities.

New jobs should be union jobs and workers rights should be protected by the Employee Free Choice act.

Perlo called for ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and taxing the rich to pay for the investments he described.

Take Action by joining the labor movement

Keynote speech -- Sam Webb

View the keynote speech at or on C-SPAN (soon).

CPUSA convention -- greetings

Representative of Social Service Employees Union local in New York greets the CPUSA convention.

She explained planned NY state budget cuts that will harm hard-working men in women public employees. "Thus of us who wake up everyday and do the tough jobs are being identified as the problem," she said. She pointed out that the politicians who want to cut pensions mistakenly believe they are gifts to workers rather than the just desert of workers who put themselves on the line to win them.

She added that workers who join in coalition with each other and groups like the Communist Party can protect the needs, benefits and jobs of workers.

"We have to fight back" against the corrupt Wall Street practices that killed jobs and demand we pay for their mistakes.

"If we don't stand together now, it is all going to be lost," she said. "Too many people have gone through too much to give it all away because we're scared of the boss. Not in this city, not in this state, and not in this great country!"

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Path to Socialism and Its "Marxist Leninist critics"

by John Case

The length, depth and scope of the profound, global economic crisis --- that appears from being over, and whose resolution is indeed very clouded with big questions --- is generating many strong and energetic "positions" across the political spectrum. Yet many of these "positions" -- I will just talk about the Left here --- conceal the real interests behind them with phrases and expressions that are highly deceptive and disingenuous, and harmful to requirements of unity.

A narrowly based, but very persistent campaign has been waged on the Internet and in the comments sections of CP publications -- by my count nearly 20% of commenters and discussants and much more if you count the number of words--- with the sole effective purpose being to distract the Left, and especially the CP, from working within the broadly defined Obama coalition, or from focusing on majority-based agenda of reforms.

Claiming to be true followers of Gus Hall, or Joseph Stalin, or WZ Foster, most every comment or article these folks publish is 30% or more devoted to attacks on the CP leadership as revisionists and reformists or sellouts for supporting many of president Obama's initiatives. Like the Greek CP whom they claim to emulate, they support a return to a Stalin style command, centrally planned economy as the cure for the collapse of the USSR, and for the world economic crisis to boot. As if butter would not melt in their mouths, no mention is made of the monstrous terror state erected around Stalin.

But no matter -- already its clear -- the stuff some factons want to talk about would not draw a crowd of workers big enough for a bar in South Buffalo. And whoever heads down the trick road of debating "who is the true marxist-leninist", will never get out of the bar.

A recent post by one says, for example: "[I am] tired of the struggle being defined as "democratic", which has no class content, as opposed to "socialist" which does have class content."

One does not have to re-read Lenin's Infantile Disorder pamphlet to know that this kind of thinking is is nonsense, and dangerous nonsense at that. It's actually anti-political. The struggle for health care reform, both the bill already passed, and the ones yet to come, is a major contest of class forces, in which the working people won the principle of universality of coverage. This was a democratic struggle because it lays important groundwork for substantially enhancing workers protection from disease, death and bankruptcy in the face of no coverage. It also empowers workers by making them dues-paying members of a comprehensive system. As such it much enhances their voice and power to effect change going forward. It has class content. And it is a democratic struggle in which workers and broad popular forces united.

The struggle for financial reform is next. The consumer protection agency, the restrictions on shadow banking, the Volkerite proposals to make the financial system smaller are all profoundly democratic reforms: they enhance the power of the majority at the expense of the financial sector. Who is the majority? Workers, in the main, who desperately need more investment that strengthens their jobs and incomes. Nationalizing the financial sector is NOT achievable at the current time -- does that mean these democratic reforms have no class content, do not promise to help bring a more stable recovery. Financial reforms passed in the 1930's helped sustain rising worker incomes, the advance of industrial unionism, and relative economic stability for over 30 years. Were workers lives improved? Yes.

Energy legislation comes next -- are not the reforms there, including measures to address global warming, as well as green industrial policy both class and democratic demands?

EFCA -- the hopeful rebirth of trade unionism as a key means of worker empowerment -- a solidly democratic reform, and also a class question of high order.

One can go on, but none of this will impress these cultish critics. The writer excerpted above concludes:

"The "democratic" struggle is not inherently a class struggle in the United States. Democratic gains can be made, and should be made where
possible, within the confines of the existing capitalist structures. However, the democratic struggle in and of itself is not a class
conscious battle for working class power in the United States. It can take that form, but does not have to take that form. A communist party
must fight for the class conscious nature of the struggle."

One might ask, what exactly is "a class conscious battle for working class power in the United States", apart from the very large contests enumerated above, according this line? Simple. Just engage in Marxist phrase-mongering! "Discard capitalism implement a socialist state."! "Central Planning Now"! "Instruct the workers that the reforms they seek are essentially meaningless!" We could add more slogans completely!" compatible with these: "Focus on criticizing Obama's Mistakes!", "Defending the Greek CP against revisionism is more important than joining Obama's grass roots lobbying effort for financial reform".

The phrase-mongering pastime on the US Left is of longstanding and sad duration. Its a form of simple laziness. When push comes to shove in the key battles right in front of us, I think forces seduced by this line will be missing in action.

The line of principle vs opportunism in this era is decided by who figures out how to turn out the multitudes to unite for key democratic reforms that involve serious money and political rights for workers, and who stands in the way or distracts from that objective. Whatever party makes the most difference in mobilizing workers to decisively move the reform agenda is the real "communist" party, whatever its name may be.

When the multitudes are in motion, many things become possible, and we shall find out, along with the rest of the working people of this country the true character and potential of this movement without the assistance of any dogmatic incantations. While I do not intend to debate "what is true Marxism-Leninism", I confess it is a travesty that thinkers and fighters on the order of Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin are reduced to cartoons in the cult driven, anti-intellectual and truly anti-scientific mentality of some who dub themselves 'Marxist-Leninists".

Bottom Line: the effect of these and similar ideological trends is to engage in dead-end debates, engage in no action which aids the working class mobilization for the reform agenda in the US, and in fact detracts from and weakens it by sucking it into a truly pointless and infantile discussion. So there is no point of reconciliation or utility going further down that path.

Who has an interest in distracting the people from the momentous work to be done? Republicans, Blue Dog Democrats and their supporters -- and anarchists/libertarians. NOT communists, socialists, or progressive Democrats and their constituencies.

I submit the following resolution for consideration at the convention.

"While asserting our responsibility to project a vision of an advanced socialist society, guided by the principle of "from each according to their ability, to each according to their work", we firmly reject any and all attempts to separate in the slightest degree the path to socialism, or socialist ideology, from broad-based struggle for economic and political reforms that enhance the wealth and rights of working people, or from the path to peace between workers and peoples of all nations."

Live convention blogging (starting May 20th)

Hey everybody,

Just a quick note to let you know that this blog will host live blogging from the CPUSA convention beginning May 20th.

Our new website, which will also host the new PA Editors' Blog, is scheduled to go live Tuesday May 18th. Join us there to blog and to read other commentary on the convention.

If, for some reason the new site doesn't go live by the time of the convention, join us here.


Joel Wendland
PA Editor

Fire Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship

Take Action

The deadly explosion at the Upper Big Branch South Mine in Montcoal, WV, which took the lives of 29 coal miners and injured several others, was a preventable tragedy. It's time for Massey Energy shareholders to fire CEO Don Blankenship and replace him with a CEO who cares about workers' rights. In addition, the three Massey board members up for re-election should be defeated.

Take Action

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Republicans forgot that Susan B. Anthony was a socialist

by Joel Wendland

I was amused to learn this weekend that Republicans have organized a new group called The Susan B. Anthony List. No doubt a knock-off of the influential Emily's List, a political action committee dedicated to supporting the political campaigns of women to public office who support women's equality and a host of related issues.

The Susan B. Anthony List, as its website indicates, does the opposite. It will support women who specifically oppose women's reproductive rights.

So what's the connection to Susan B. Anthony? Anthony was among the preeminent feminist social activists of the 19th century, along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, and many others. She was a staunch abolitionist as well as an advocate for voting rights for women.

Which, of course, makes the Republican campaign to link their opposition to reproductive rights to such a well-known advocate of equality so ironic and offensive.

Above all, however, is the apparently forgotten fact that Susan B. Anthony was also a socialist!

In an article celebrating Anthony's life and career, famed labor activist and serial Socialist Party president candidate Eugene V. Debs said, "she was a heroine in the highest sense and her name deserves a place among the highest on the scroll of the immortals."

Amusing: Republicans are celebrating the life of one of America's home-grown socialists.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Real causes of high deficits

by Joel Wendland

The government reported this week that federal deficit set a record at more than $80 billion, just for the month. They expect the total deficit for the year to easily eclipse $1 trillion.

Republicans are ranting and raving, trying to distract voters from their responsibility for the deficit which doubled when they controlled Congress and the Presidency under Bush.

Here are two basic reasons why the deficit is so high:

1. Taxes for the richest Americans have steadily declined, eroding federal revenues by hundreds of billions.

And don't give me the line that if you raise taxes on the rich there will be a recession. If that tired argument were true we wouldn't be calling the economic crisis that started in December 2007 and just now seems to be ending the "Great Recession."

2. The second main reason is Bush's war of choice in Iraq. Totaling over $720 billion today, the Republicans, who started that war and called anyone who refused to go along with it traitors, still have provided no plan to pay for it. If we follow their argument about how our grandchildren will have to pay for deficits, this trillion dollar war of choice, by definition an atrocity, will take generations to pay for.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Grand Oil Party

Today, Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would require companies like BP to be financially responsible for the clean-up of the disasters like the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Thank you, archaic Senate filibuster rules.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Thomas Riggins

A specter is haunting Washington. The specter of the second Bush Administration. This specter is possessing members of the present administration. On Monday (5-10-10) the New York Times reported that Attorney General, Erich H. Holder Jr., wants a law so the US can "interrogate terrorism suspects without informing them of their [Miranda] rights." Do we really want the government to ignore people's rights? People SUSPECTED of a crime have a right to a fair hearing, a lawyer, a presumption of innocence, etc.

Holder thinks the government needs "greater flexibility to question terrorism suspects." But the government has been expanding the definition of who is a terrorist. It's not just the mad bomber from abroad anymore. Now there are mentally disturbed folks being labeled "domestic terrorists"-- no Miranda for them. There are animal rights activists being charged as "terrorists"-- no Miranda for them. Warning bells should go off anytime the government wants to take rights away from suspects, especially the usual suspects, because there is a danger we will all end up without these rights.

Holder is just pandering to the Republicans and their fear mongering instead of standing up to them and pointing out that the Miranda rules are necessary to protect everyone's rights. The Times reports that "Conservatives have long disliked the Miranda ruling, which is intended to ensure that confessions are not coerced."

It is so much easier to get a coerced confession, as the Innocence Project has shown and the almost weekly announcements of some poor soul, after umpteen years in jail, and been released as innocent. Holder should tell his Conservative critics that he understands and even appreciates their desire to help the US win more cases and get more convictions by the use of coerced confessions, but it's a bad idea since our stance is that we represent truth and justice and all that good stuff.

The Times also reports that "Despite the political furor over reading terrorism suspects their Miranda rights , it is not clear that doing so has had a major impact on recent interrogations." In fact it is all just political theatre. If you want to look tough, Mr. Attorney General, then stand up and fight for the Rule of Law and the Constitution and tell the Republicans their days of ignoring the Constitution and people's rights under the law are over (at least for now).

Dani Rodrik: Greek Lessons for the World Economy

 I find Dani Rodrik's arguments quite compelling. The 'trilemma' concept is given a materialistic foundation, and a very interesting multi-sided model with which to think about the new and ever growing role of internationalism in the overall democratic struggle.


Greek Lessons for the World Economy

Dani Rodrik

listen download_podcast

CAMBRIDGE – The $140 billion support package that the Greek government has finally received from its European Union partners and the International Monetary Fund gives it the breathing space needed to undertake the difficult job of putting its finances in order. The package may or may not prevent Spain and Portugal from becoming undone in a similar fashion, or indeed even head off an eventual Greek default. Whatever the outcome, it is clear that the Greek debacle has given the EU a black eye.

Deep down, the crisis is yet another manifestation of what I call "the political trilemma of the world economy": economic globalization, political democracy, and the nation-state are mutually irreconcilable. We can have at most two at one time. Democracy is compatible with national sovereignty only if we restrict globalization. If we push for globalization while retaining the nation-state, we must jettison democracy. And if we want democracy along with globalization, we must shove the nation-state aside and strive for greater international governance.

The history of the world economy shows the trilemma at work. The first era of globalization, which lasted until 1914, was a success as long as economic and monetary policies remained insulated from domestic political pressures. These policies could then be entirely subjugated to the demands of the gold standard and free capital mobility. But once the political franchise was enlarged, the working class got organized, and mass politics became the norm, domestic economic objectives began to compete with (and overwhelm) external rules and constraints.

The classic case is Britain's short-lived return to gold in the interwar period. The attempt to reconstitute the pre-World War I model of globalization collapsed in 1931, when domestic politics forced the British government to choose domestic reflation over the gold standard.

The architects of the Bretton Woods regime kept this lesson in mind when they redesigned the world's monetary system in 1944. They understood that democratic countries would need the space to conduct independent monetary and fiscal policies. So they contemplated only a "thin" globalization, with capital flows restricted largely to long-term lending and borrowing. John Maynard Keynes, who wrote the rules along with Harry Dexter White, viewed capital controls not as a temporary expedient but as a permanent feature of the global economy.

The Bretton Woods regime collapsed in the 1970's as a result of the inability or unwillingness – it is not entirely clear which – of leading governments to manage the growing tide of capital flows.

The third path identified by the trilemma is to do away with national sovereignty altogether. In this case, economic integration can be married with democracy through political union among states. The loss in national sovereignty is then compensated by the "internationalization" of democratic politics. Think of this as a global version of federalism.

The United States, for example, created a unified national market once its federal government wrested sufficient political control from individual states. This was far from a smooth process, as the American Civil War amply demonstrates.

The EU's difficulties stem from the fact that the global financial crisis caught Europe midway through a similar process. European leaders always understood that economic union needs to have a political leg to stand on. Even though some, such as the British, wished to give the Union as little power as possible, the force of the argument was with those who pressed for political integration alongside economic integration. Still, the European political project fell far short of the economic one.

Greece benefited from a common currency, unified capital markets, and free trade with other EU member states. But it does not have automatic access to a European lender of last resort. Its citizens do not receive unemployment checks from Brussels the way that, say, Californians do from Washington, DC, when California experiences a recession. Nor, given linguistic and cultural barriers, can unemployed Greeks move just as easily across the border to a more prosperous European state. And Greek banks and firms lose their creditworthiness alongside their government if markets perceive the latter to be insolvent.

The German and French governments, for their part, have had little say over Greece's budget policies. They could not stop the Greek government from borrowing (indirectly) from the European Central Bank (ECB) as long as credit rating agencies deemed Greek debt creditworthy. If Greece chooses default, they cannot enforce their banks' claims on Greek borrowers or seize Greek assets. Nor can they prevent Greece from leaving the eurozone.

What all this means is that the financial crisis has turned out to be a lot deeper and its resolution considerably messier than necessary. The French and German governments have grudgingly come up with a major loan package, but only after considerable delay and with the IMF standing at their side. The ECB has lowered the threshold of creditworthiness that Greek government securities must meet in order to allow continued Greek borrowing.

The success of the rescue is far from assured, in view of the magnitude of belt-tightening that it calls for and the hostility that it has aroused on the part of Greek workers. When push comes to shove, domestic politics trumps foreign creditors.

The crisis has revealed how demanding globalization's political prerequisites are. It shows how much European institutions must still evolve to underpin a healthy single market. The choice that the EU faces is the same in other parts of the world: either integrate politically, or ease up on economic unification.

Before the crisis, Europe looked like the most likely candidate to make a successful transition to the first equilibrium – greater political unification. Now its economic project lies in tatters while the leadership needed to rekindle political integration is nowhere to be seen.  

The best that can be said is that Europe will no longer be able to delay making the choice that the Greek affair has laid bare.  If you are an optimist, you might even conclude that Europe will therefore ultimately emerge stronger.

Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2010.
For a podcast of this commentary in English, please use this link:

You might also like to read more from Dani Rodrik or return to our home page.

John Case
Harpers Ferry, WV

Video: Don't get caught in a bad hotel (Lady Gaga knock-off)

The video says it all...

Bring the Troops Home

Return Home from War Not Always Peaceful for Young Vets

ScienceDaily (May 10, 2010) — When young servicemen and women return home from a tour of duty, their family and friends breathe a sigh of relief, knowing their loved ones finally are safe and sound. New research, however, shows that is not always the case.

Young veterans are at risk for violent deaths at home, especially suicide, according to a study presented May 3 at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

Adolescent and young adult veterans die violent deaths in war zones throughout the world, yet little is known about the noncombat violent deaths at home. To explore this issue, researchers, led by Tamera Coyne-Beasley, MD, MPH., studied violent deaths among young veterans in North Carolina.

Using data from the 2004-2006 North Carolina Violent Death Reporting System, researchers found that there were 132 deaths at home among young veterans (51 veterans were 18-24 years old, and 81 were 25-34).

Suicide was the most common form of violent death, accounting for 70 percent of the cases. Almost half of those who took their own life (43 percent) had a history of mental illness, most commonly depression. While those with depressed mood reportedly were receiving treatment, all had a crisis in the two weeks before their death, according to the data. Intimate partner problems contributed to more than half of the suicides, and job problems contributed to 21 percent.

Also concerning was the rise in homicides among the youngest veterans ages 18-24 involving interpersonal conflicts, according to the authors. However, the risk of homicide was lower among 18- to 34-year-old veterans than nonveterans of the same age.

Firearms were used in 67 percent of the deaths, and hanging accounted for 24 percent.

"With the troop deployment surge to Afghanistan involving as many as an additional 30,000 veterans, including young veterans, it will be important to ensure that our young men and women who serve our country and their families are given the support and treatment they and their families may need upon their return home," said Dr. Coyne-Beasley, a researcher in the Department of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine at University of North Carolina.

Support should include management and treatment for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses; ongoing screening and management for domestic violence; marital and partner counseling as needed; conflict management training; safe firearm storage counseling; and employment assistance should young veterans choose not to re-enlist, Dr. Coyne-Beasley said.