Thursday, August 27, 2009

Volunteer POV

If you were a Mayday volunteer, this would be your view of the store!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Stacked Chairs

Making sure Mayday's chairs are stored correctly is an important task in book store management. Here, for the record, are two images of perfectly stacked chairs in Mayday's "chair alcove".

The bricks in back of this archway block off one of the old tunnels that run through the West Bank of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Come the revolution, we'll probably need to break down those walls and reclaim the tunnels as we fight for a better world!


Friday, August 21, 2009

Author Event

Dahr Jamail

Great book. Great author. Come to our next event:

Dahr Jamail in Minneapolis
Dahr Jamail in Minneapolis

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Join the Army and Get Radicalized

“Black Radical; The Education of an American Revolutionary” – by Nelson Peery, 2007

Minnesota’s own Nelson Peery tells his story of his revolutionary awakening after World War II. He came home as a soldier and ran into discrimination and poverty in the North and heard about lynchings in the South. After the war, Peery and his 6 brothers became members or supporters of the Communist Party (“CP”), while their father became a well-known and professional anti-communist in Minneapolis and later Los Angeles. Later Peery left the CP to form the Communist Labor Party ("CLP"). This book can be seen as Part 2 of Peery’s earlier memoir, “Black Fire,” about his life in rural American Minnesota, the depression and World War II.

The book starts with him coming home after 4 years of combat. Peery’s experience in the Pacific war paralleled that of many black soldiers – not only in World War II, but also in the Civil War and World War I. Combat empowered black men and some women to feel both competent to handle any physical threat and entitled to equal rights with white people. It, in an odd sense, was the incubator for revolutionary and egalitarian feelings. Black ex-soldiers formed the heart of the anti-discrimination and anti-Jim Crow movement that developed after World War II. Educated not on the pablum of non-violence and obsequiousness, but on combat cohesion and the risking of their lives for ‘democracy,’ black soldiers after World War II were changed men. The 90 years of post-Civil War neo-confederate rule, the result of the defeat of Reconstruction, was about to end, in both north and south.

Peery re-joins his neighborhood after the war, but cannot just blend back into the aimless life of partial work and partying. He joins the Communist Party (at their office on Fifth and Hennepin), greatly influenced by people like Paul Robeson and W.E.B Dubois. Later he joins the Party group at the University of Minnesota, where he starts reading Marxism more deeply. He was part of a group that got the first black professor hired at the U in the late 40s. In an incredible scene during this period, Leadbelly tours Minneapolis and Peery invites him over to his home to meet the ‘Red Bishop' of the English Anglican church. At the families' south Minneapolis house, Leadbelly performs an impromptu concert for the bishop, and 200 other people show up.

The Party then asked Peery to leave the U and get a working-class job. With some trepidation, he agreed. Fearing the ordinary unskilled union jobs usually assigned blacks, he walked upstairs in the union hall to the office of the Bricklayers Union, and got a job as the first black bricklayer in Minneapolis through plain moxie and a threat of a lawsuit. Peery worked construction for awhile and learned the trade from the Swedes on the job. As the Red Purge picked up in the United States, mostly targeted at unionists and workers, Peery was then assigned by the CP to go ‘underground’ in Detroit. The CP was afraid the whole organization would be outlawed, rounded up and incarcerated in jail, much as some of their leaders were due to the Smith Act. In Detroit he meets one of the Scottsboro boys hiding there, who had been heavily marked by his experience in prison. Perry lost contact with the Party organization due to its own disorganization. Peery eventually decides to re-emerge on his own, contacts the CP again, and is then assigned to work in Cleveland. There he joins a black Party club that helps initiate a major boycott of the Cleveland Sears for their refusal to hire blacks.

Problems in the Party start to surface. Peery initially made the mistake of going to a CP convention in New York and criticizing Tito when Tito was Stalin’s darling. For this, he is roundly denounced by the Party leadership at the convention meeting. The very next day Stalin denounced Tito, and then the U.S. Party also decided to denounce Tito. Peery, of course, was suddenly back in favor. Peery did not fail to notice that ‘thinking’ in the CP was not an independent process.

It is somewhat difficult in this book to figure out exactly which political or strategic issues lead to the break between Peery and many black comrades on the one hand, and the CP on the other. It is clear during the McCarthy and 50's period that the white leadership was afraid of getting deeply involved in anti-racist activities that might involve illegalities. The Party lost its nerve, and it meant that more radical comrades were asked to leave. The black comrades in Cleveland, through their anti-discrimination work, had stood up to the East Cleveland white racists, the FBI and the Cleveland police in their work in the mass Negro Labor Council. Some were expelled for refusing to leave the Negro Labor Counsel. Peery was also expelled for something similar to this reason, though his conflicts with various leaders over other issues seemed to play a role too.

Peery’s first marriage, to a non-political women, fell apart in Cleveland, and he moved to New York. In New York, he met his politicized second wife, Sue Ying. After the departure from the CP and move to New York, Peery joined the Provisional Organizing Committee (POC) (…to reconstitute a Marxist-Leninist Communist Party in the United States of America), who were a group of ex-CP’ers in the city. There, in one significant moment, he describes having the idea of giving political speeches on street corners in Harlem. His Marxist speeches were made not far from the headquarters of the Black Muslims. In the audience was a young Muslim, Malcolm X. Later, Malcolm started giving street corner speeches, and of course, drew far vaster crowds than Peery. The implication is that Peery gave the idea of talking on the streets to Malcolm.

Then Peery and Ying moved to Los Angeles’ Watts district for the POC, and helped form the California Communist League, and later, the CLP, his own organization. You see, he seemed to have a habit of pissing-off the leaders of every organization he was part of, until the CLP. While in California, Peery was involved in the 1965 Watts uprising, which he characterizes not as a ‘riot’ but as a people’s rebellion against white privilege and the police state in Watts. During Watts, he sees the unorganized black masses of Los Angeles almost overcome the strength of the cops and state, though at the cost of many dead, wounded and arrested.

This is a personal, non-rhetorical book, combining both private and political details. What runs throughout this second part of his memoir is how Peery always understood that black nationalism, no matter how radical or phrased, is ultimately a dead end in defeating capitalism and institutional racism. While he well knew that many white people, even those who call themselves communists, are flawed, he also knew that no overthrow of American capital can occur without black, white and Latino workers uniting. And this is the ‘red’ thread that runs through all his organizing - his bedrock commitment to a united working-class movement.

And you can buy it at Mayday Books!
Red Frog, August 17, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Best Health Care in the World


The U.S. health care is very good for many people including me---but it is not very good for the 40 million plus who have no care. And it is not very good for the 90,000 people who die each year from infections acquired in hospitals and the same number w ho die due to incorrect drug treatment. Except for the first mentioned the care here is a disgrace. This is the richest country in the world. What’s wrong? More than 100 years ago, Germany put in a national plan. Europe and the rest of the industrialized world have had it for 50 years or more. The profit system is blamed, yet Germany did it under the capitalist profit system?

As an advocate of socialist principles, I believe that in a true socialist society , this would never even be a question; it would automatically be instituted.

Tom R. Dooley. 8/15/09

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

There's a Killer on the Loose

“American Assassination – The Strange Death of Paul Wellstone” – by Four Arrows and Jim Fetzer, 2004

Are you a ‘conspiracy nut?’ This is the bourgeois media’s eternal phrase for anyone who believes conspiracies are possible. Intellectually, of course, conspiracies are very possible. Intellectually, of course, the ruling-class media is allergic even to the phrase “intellectual.” So is their analysis of the impossibility of conspiracies based on facts? No. Only on oft-repeated myths or cherry-picking.

Since the 60s the U.S. CIA/FBI has operated death squads – and not just in foreign countries. Overseas, most observers agree the CIA and their trained henchman made/make death squads and assassination normal tools of political life. In Iraq right now death squads have been operating for years, outside the military purview, under the control of the U.S. secret services, using Iraqi para-militaries. This is no different from the bloody CIA Phoenix program used in Vietnam. The well-documented involvement of the secret services in the deaths of Lumumba, Che and attempts on Castro are the tip of the foreign iceberg. But for anyone conscious, the deaths of Malcolm X, the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King were all government hits – carried out by a conservative group within the CIA/military under the control of James Jesus Angleton and J Edgar Hoover, with help from the mob and local police departments, and, as these authors argue, with heavy influence from the Bush family and other ruling-class entities.

Assassination is an essential tool of the armed bourgeois state's political rule. You will notice that the overwhelming majority of targets are those on the liberal or left side of the spectrum – something mathematically impossible based on the laws of probability. As of 2004, there were 47 ‘accidental’ deaths by plane crash or some other method for U.S. politicians or whistleblowers, also illustrating a mathematical impossibility of 2-1 majority of liberal or ‘troublemakers’ having ‘accidents.’ If Obama strays off the ranch, he too will be the target of assassination. Recently, the Secret Service refused to arrest a gun-toting Republican at a "town hall' anti health-care reform rally, held right outside the site of Obama's appearance.

The recent 2009 revelation that Dick Cheney had set up an assassination squad ostensibly limited only to Al Quaeda is no surprise. Since killing Al Quaeda members has been official public policy for years, this secret Cheney hit squad had something more about it than the supine major press wants to delve into. After all, why would it be secret, even to the Congress, if it was only duplicating U.S. policy? The key lies in revelations by journalist Seymour Hersch, who has information that this unit was actually operating on domestic terrain too.

We are all familiar with how the FBI ‘loses’ much crucial evidence over and over again, in various politically sensitive cases, from the Kennedy assassinations onward. What is interesting is the involvement since 1996 of an ostensibly 'objective' agency, the NTSB – the National Transportation Safety Board – in covering up evidence in controversial crashes. The present head of the NTSB, Carol Carmody, is a former CIA officer. Within hours of a few crashes, this supposedly ‘scientific’ NTSB head has rushed to microphones to assure people that the crash is ‘only an accident.’ Prior to any scientific investigation, the legendary ‘forte’ of this supposedly neutral government agency. How does she know? You may well ask.

Now to the specifics of this book:

  • The Sheriff of St. Louis County confirmed that Minneapolis FBI was on-site at Wellstone's plane crash site, just below Eveleth in northern Minnesota, between 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. The crash site was publicly identified at 10:50 a.m. One of the controllers at the airport thought the FBI was there by at least 1:00 pm. No one has claimed they notified the FBI of the crash. It is impossible to get from Minneapolis to Eveleth, even by air, in that time period, without already being on the road. (The FBI claimed they used the Duluth airport, not the Eveleth airport, which necessitated a car rental and drive as well.)

  • The FBI claimed it got there at 3:30 p.m., and verified it was a Minneapolis evidence crew. Washington D.C. Capitol Police got on-site at 4:00 p.m. The NTSB, the ‘official’ investigators, got there at 8:00-9:00 p.m., also from Washington.

  • Around 6:00 P.M. the FBI announced there was no ‘terrorist’ connection about the crash to the national news – 2-3 hours before the arrival of the NTSB, the official investigators.
    It is NTSB policy that ONLY the NTSB can investigate a crash. The FBI is supposedly not allowed to investigate crashes until the NTSB determines they are criminal matters. The NTSB had not done so.

  • Carmody announced the initial NTSB focus was recovering the ‘voice data recorder.’ There was none required on this plane, but sometimes they are installed. A voice data recorder might reveal it was not an accident, and could have accounted for the speed of the FBI intervention, and Carmody’s concern. No voice recorder was found, or, if found, was made public.

  • Weather was blamed by the media for the accident. However, many other similar planes were flying. Visibility was around 2-5 miles, temperatures on the ground were 36 degrees, winds were light to non-existent, the clouds were higher than normal, and icing was not a major problem for any other plane in the area. Local reporters and weather experts said weather was not a factor – only the national news and some government types floated these ideas.

  • Dick Cheney personally told Wellstone that “There will be severe ramifications for you and the State of Minnesota’ if he continued to oppose the Bush administration on the war. Wellstone was enemy number one in the Senate for the White House across many fronts – asbestos, the Iraq War, the control of the SEC, the Homeland Security and Patriot acts, labor issues and tax cuts.

  • The guidance system at the airport and the planes mechanical condition were fine, and the NTSB agreed with this finding.

  • The NTSB said they only have public hearings in ‘high profile cases.’ No hearing was held in the Wellstone crash. They have hearings in almost 50% of cases.

  • It was known for several days that Wellstone was going to fly up north instead of appearing with Ted Kennedy for a fundraiser. Wellstone used the same pilot 12 times. While the Wellstone boys later sued the aviation firm over an ‘unqualified’ pilot - one has to ask why Wellstone used this same ‘unqualified’ pilot 12 times, if he was so incompetent?

  • The FBI and Capitol Police were omitted from the listed parties to the investigation by the NTSB. This in spite of the fact that the FBI were the first one’s on the scene after emergency personnel, and later ruled it ‘an accident’ several hours later. The Capitol Police also arrived before the NTSB, and also began investigating.
  • Carmody much later agreed it was “an accident” too, before her 11 month investigation closed, although NTSB rules indicate no verbalization of cause can be made before a report is officially issued.

  • First responders were ordered by the FBI not to take photos of the wreckage.

  • The plane turned almost 180 degrees before it crashed, and was last known going 85 knots -- and hit the ground at a 30 degree angle. A stall is at 69 knots. Stalling was later blamed for the crash. Why would a 'stall' make a plane turn 180 degrees?

  • Two witnesses heard the plane’s engines going ‘on and off’ and ‘quiet.’ One witness said they heard a ‘bang’ while the plane was in the air. A witness aid they saw fire and blue smoke in the tail. On the ground, it was confirmed the tail was burned, though gas tanks are in the wings. KSTP reporters said the fuselage was a ‘fire pit.’ Mechanics did not understand why the fuselage or tail would burn, when the fuel was in the wings, which were separated at the crash site. Instead of black smoke for fuel, the smoke from the fuselage was blue, which means electrical smoke.

  • Cell phone call in the immediate area broken up at 10:18 a.m. At 10:19 a.m. the Wellstone plane started its unexplained turn and plunge. The NTSB says it is not aware of ‘electro-magnetic pulse’ weapons. However, electro-magnetic impulses have lead many planes to crash. According to Fetzer, weapons that produce these pulses exist, and they can bring down planes. Time magazine reports their use in Iraq. Rayethon holds many of the patents, some developed in 1993. That is why individuals cannot use electronic devices during takeoff and landing of an airplane.

  • The NTSB never considered a ‘non-accident’ scenario. This from a supposedly ‘scientific’ body. Not considering sabotage as one scenario is a political decision. It underlines their investigations of nearly every other recent plane crash.

  • Carmody also worked on the plane crash of Democratic Senator Carnahan in Missouri, who died 2 years earlier, a few days before his senate election in Missouri against John Ashcroft. The NTSB also ruled that crash an accident. What is interesting is that Carnahan's widow took his place and won against Ashcroft. This time, Sheila Wellstone was also on the plane with Wellstone, and died too. So she could not take Wellstone's place on the ballot. This is either an 'accident,' or it implies that this time that option would be unavailable.

  • The assassination of Wellstone was predicted by a website, Vox Fux, which said it would relate to a tight electoral contest, and look like the Carnahan crash. This web-site was taken down by the government later. A former CIA contact with close ties to the CIA/FBI asserted to the authors that the Wellstone crash was not an accident.

  • The lead pilot, Conry, was a careful, experienced flier, especially concerned with weather issues. The FAA had re-certified Conry two days before the crash. The co-pilot was also very experienced, and could have easily taken over from a sleepy pilot. The Star Tribune concentrated on the ‘sleepy pilot’ theory, of course.

  • Both electrical communication and control of the airplane ended at the same time. Hitting a flock of birds or some other ‘catastrophic’ event would normally have been reported, as all power would not be out. Instead all electrical systems failed simultaneously.

  • Logs of planes arriving in Duluth that day have disappeared. From what I can tell from the book, the car rental logs have also not been found. The FBI said they landed in Duluth and rented a car.

  • The official NTSB report blamed pilot error for causing the plane to stall, not weather, and not the plane. They highlighted Conry’s prior felony conviction. His felony does not, of course, explain why the plane turned, instead of just dropping down. Nor does it explain why the pilots let the plane stall, in spite of a very loud ‘stall’ horn. It is only useful in a campaign of character assissination.

  • NTSB simulations of the stall failed to duplicate what happened to Wellstone’s plane.

  • Opponents of the authors assert that some ‘unexplained event’ caused the crash, not sabotage or the official NTSB explanation. But they cannot verbalize what ‘unexplained event’ that would be.

  • 2 of the 5 NTSB members are HW Bush appointees. Only one is an actual aviation expert. One, again, is a former CIA agent. A real police investigation would start with the questions 'who had the motive, ability, and the most to gain' from the death of Paul Wellstone. The tentative answer here, of course, is Dick Cheney and those around him.

Why, as a radical, would anyone care what happens to Paul Wellstone, a left-liberal in the capitalist Democratic Party? Well, for those whose vanilla schematic of the world is that there are no divisions within the ruling class, or that the Democratic Party is one completely uniform body, that makes sense. However, when divisions arise between the rulers, or a few Democratic Party members stray from the 'path,' then we are left blind to the consequences if conflicts erupt. Leaving out facts, and replacing them with political generalizations makes Marxists into preachers, not scientists. And we are, above all, scientists.

Essentially, Four Arrows and Fetzer argue that the most logical and explanatory answer to what happened to Wellstone’s flight was that it was not an accident, but was sabotage of some sort – an electro-magnetic pulse, small plane-attached bomb, or some combination. This is the only thing that scientifically explains the long string of facts and strange, fraudulent or contradictory happenings concerning this somewhat simple event.

And I bought it at MayDay Books!
Red Frog, 8/12/2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is ideology important?

I was at a meeting at Mayday Books about ten days back. This was one where anyone who was so inclined was allowed to speak for two minutes, ostensibly on the economic crisis. And what a farrago of nonsense I had to endure (for over two hours). The people at the meeting who understood the roots of the economic crisis could probably be counted on a crippled hand. The rest ranted on whatever took their fancy. These people don't seem to understand that just proclaiming that one is "of the Left" doesn't necessarily make it so. Some theoretical understanding and some responsibility in utterance is called for. Without viewing the world through an ideological prism, one cannot be of the Left. All that is left is inchoate moral outrage and the simplistic and puerile thinking that those in charge are "evil"; and that once these "evil" and "greedy" people are supplanted, everything will be hunky-dory. This is the rubbish one has to endure at these meetings. I remember a meeting two or three years back when one person stood and proudly announced, "I hate Bush." So ...? The problem has never been Bush. This is an imbecile's view of social and political reality. Bush has gone and Obama is in. What has changed? You could put an archangel in the White House and the structure and dynamic of the empire would not change an iota. The aircraft carriers, the foreign bases, the wars of aggression, and the assassinations and the torture would continue unabated (as they are in the Obama administration). Someone has to say this out loud: Ignoramuses who have never cracked a book and never learnt to think and who then go to these worthless meetings and self-importantly spout drivel are not going to accomplish anything. These meetings are an exercise in futility and other than stoking the egos of a pack of sorry losers accomplish precious little else.