Trump gang in crisis: Attacks on people spread

In addition to the government campaign against the undocumented, there is mounting murderous racism fomented by Trump and his Islamophobic rants.

By Fred Goldstein posted on March 8, 2017.  

March 6 — The Trump administration’s crisis deepens as accusations of ties to Russia multiply and surround him and his aides. Meanwhile, this authoritarian, racist, misogynistic bigot is opening up a war on the people and what is left of gains won over the last 50 years. Especially under attack are the millions of undocumented workers.

The war within the capitalist state has reached a boiling point, with Trump accusing former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Towers during the 2016 election campaign. It is being assumed that Trump heard this on Mark Levin’s right-wing talk show, promoted by Breitbart News. Steve Bannon, Trump’s special “strategy” advisor, previously ran Breitbart.

Trump made the accusations against Obama in a tweet after he flew into a rage when racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who now heads the Justice Department, recused himself from all investigations about the campaign. Sessions’ recusal came after he was found to have lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about having contact with Russians.

What Trump did not consider, in his rage, was that electronic eavesdropping would have to be carried out by the FBI. Eavesdropping on the presidential candidate would be a crime, unless there was a warrant. Since there was no such warrant, according to James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, Trump’s charges against Obama would implicate the FBI in a crime.

The head of the FBI, James Comey, has now demanded that the Justice Department refute these charges because, according to Comey, they are false. So far the Sessions Justice Department has refused to disavow the charges.

This public dispute between the White House, the Justice Department and the secret police spy agency has created the biggest political crisis for the capitalist government since the Watergate crisis that forced President Richard Nixon to resign in the summer of 1974.

Crisis of repression for undocumented workers

Meanwhile, the Trump administration is quietly expanding its arrests and harassment of undocumented workers. There was big coverage in mid-February when 680 undocumented workers were seized in raids in a one-week period.

The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have now changed their public relations strategy. The government is continuing raids all over the country, just not publicizing the total roundups. Take last week as an example. Three workers were picked up in Detroit and 16 were arrested in Ypsilanti, Mich. (freep.com); four workers were arrested in Trenton, N.J. (nj.com); six youth were arrested in Charlotte, N.C. (Charlotte Observer); a restaurant was shut down for two weeks when four workers were detained in York County, Pa. (phillyvoice.com); nine workers were arrested in Grand Island, N.Y., and 23 in Hamburg, N.Y., both near the border with Canada (wkbw.com).

These are random examples of at least 65 workers rounded up in one week at a wide variety of locations. The reports surfaced only on local radio stations and in local newspapers. They show that ICE agents are everywhere and are exercising their newfound authority to arrest any of the 11 million undocumented workers in this country.

More widely publicized was the arrest of the Dreamer Daniella Vargas in Jackson, Miss., after she spoke at a press conference denouncing the recent arrests of her relatives. ICE is supposedly not authorized to arrest Dreamers. Alongside this was the deportation of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez while taking his daughter to school. These arrests were publicized only because cell phone videos were taken and distributed.

In addition to the government campaign against the undocumented, there is mounting murderous racism fomented by Trump and his Islamophobic rants. Two Indian men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, were shot in Kansas. Kuchibhotla died as the alleged killer, Adam Purinton, yelled, “Get out of my country.” Purinton also shot and wounded bystander Ian Grillot, who was trying to stop the attack. (New York Times, March 4)

A similar racist hate crime took place near Seattle a few days earlier when someone shot a Sikh man, Deep Rai, who was working on his driveway. The shooter also told Rai to “Go back home.”

Furthermore, during the past month there have been numerous desecrations of Jewish cemeteries across the country, as well as bomb threats at dozens of Jewish community centers.

In another ominous sign, Attorney General Sessions has indicated he will not enforce the Justice Department’s consent decrees, issued under the Obama administration, to rein in local police departments, most notoriously in Chicago. This can only be interpreted as a green light to police forces everywhere to step up already murderous repression.

In addition, Trump has rescinded protections for transgender students to use school bathrooms of their choice, and the Supreme Court has returned the case back to the lower court without a ruling.

Movement must deal with anti-Russia barrage

The movement is faced with a barrage of anti-Russian propaganda. The problem is that the anti-Trump forces in the capitalist political establishment, the media and especially the Democratic Party leadership are also at the present time the anti-Russia forces — i.e., the military hawks, the party of belligerence and militarism.

The tendency to root for the anti-Russia forces as long as they bring down Trump is very strong. It is the line of least resistance and a convenient political tool for Democratic Party leaders as well as many Republican politicians. Unless the movement resists this anti-Russia demagogy, it will align itself with the hawks of the ruling class.

The long-term goal of the U.S. ruling class with respect to Russia is to weaken Russia’s independent government and turn it into a vassal state — the way it was under Boris Yeltsin, during the first eight years after the collapse of the USSR. Wall Street and the Pentagon want Moscow to follow Washington’s lead, hand over investment rights and open up access to its vast resources.

Trump and especially ultra-right ideologue Bannon have a strategic vision of a rapprochement with Russia in preparation for a conflict with China and a conflict of civilizations with the Islamic world. (See WW, Feb. 23.) Their vision is not a peace plan.

In the torrent of accusations about Russian ties, some may be true, some may be false, and some are insignificant. In any case, they are part of a massive attempt to block any move by the White House to relax relations with Russia and make concessions on sanctions, in the Ukraine or anywhere else.

On the other hand, no one should be swayed by false nostalgia for the USSR, which was a socialist country. Putin is the agent of Russian nationalism, which means he represents the Russian ruling class, made up of anti-socialist oligarchs. Reactionaries throughout Europe and Russia consider Putin the “great white Christian hope.”

Putin is helping the Syrian government for strictly geostrategic reasons; Russia is defending a base in the Mediterranean that dates back to the USSR. He is helping the resistance in Ukraine in order to keep the country, which borders Russia, from being swallowed up by the West. Progressives should support these efforts, without falling under the illusion that because Putin is backing some progressive causes, he and his oligarchic regime are progressive.

Trump and Russian money

In addition to strategic political goals, one cannot discount the possibility that Trump’s relations with Russia are also based on financial interests. Trump has adamantly refused to release his tax returns. He has claimed that he has nothing to do with Russia. These are dubious claims.

One example is the case of his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and his connections with Russian money. Ross is a billionaire parasite who specializes in buying up companies in financial difficulty, stripping them of their assets and selling them off.

According to multiple sources (Miami Herald, New York Times and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC), Ross is the primary owner of the Cyprus Bank. This bank is known as a haven for laundering money for Russian oligarchs. When Cyprus had a banking crisis in 2014 and depositors could not get their money, Ross participated in the rescue, together with the Russian government.

Ross then invited the head of Deutsche Bank to head Cyprus Bank. Deutsche Bank recently had to pay a $630 million fine for laundering $10 billion in Russian money. Deutsche Bank has been the only major bank to loan money to Trump.

Another partner in Cyprus Bank was Dmitry Bybolovlev, a Russian multibillionaire potash king. Bybolovlev was trying to hide his assets and in 2008 bought a Trump property in Palm Beach for $95 million — a U.S. record at the time. Trump had bought it in 2004 for $41 million. So Trump made a $54 million profit on the sale. P.S.: Bybolovlev never set foot in the mansion, and it has since been torn down.

There are numerous other connections between Trump and Russian money, including the admission in 2008 by his son Donald Jr. that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets.” (deathandtaxes.com) There are also recent reports of Trump dealings in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. So political and financial interests may merge in the case of Trump. His greed is legendary, and that has been a powerful force all his life.

Massive removal of regulatory protection for workers and environment

Steve Bannon, the Trump ideologue, has used the phrase “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Translated into ordinary language, that means the destruction of all regulations that protect workers, oppressed people and the environment.

The Trump administration is rushing to destroy all regulatory restrictions on corporate greed. Over 90 major regulations are in the process of being stayed, delayed or removed since Trump took office. (NY Times, March 5)

Seventeen automakers have submitted a list of regulatory changes they want, including removal of mileage standards, emission controls, etc. The pharmaceutical industry is asking that restrictions be removed on prescription drugs for unapproved uses. Trump has already lifted regulations on coal mining and oil and gas exploration.

Trump has overturned a rule that protected pension investors from fraud and another that protected drinking water from pollution.

Banks no longer have to charge fees to their high-income customers to protect against high-risk losses. The Business Roundtable has submitted a list of 16 rules it wants removed.

Rules regarding air pollution, unemployment compensation, endangered species, credit card fees, drilling on the Arctic Shelf, data security, internet neutrality and many other issues are under review. In each case the requests for reviews come from corporate pressures. It’s no wonder the stock market is surging.

Such regulatory protections embody a century of struggle to protect the environment, consumer safety, workers’ health and safety, wages and working conditions. They have already been eroded in many cases. But Trump and Bannon are making a full-scale assault.

This calls for a massive fightback.

There has already been a good national turnout, especially in Wisconsin, for the Day Without Immigrants. Women are planning a Day Without Women on International Women’s Day. And May Day demonstrations are being talked about across the country.

Waiting for Trump to be toppled from above is conceding to the class enemy the primary role of getting rid of Trump. Trump needs to be toppled from below — by mass resistance. That is the only road to victory.

The Trump/Bannon cabal

The people can defeat Trump’s nest of vipers

By Fred Goldstein posted on February 28, 2017

Feb. 27 — As the Trump administration opens up new attacks on the masses, the split between the White House and the capitalist establishment is growing ever sharper.

The head of the Department of Homeland Security, John Kelly (retired general, U.S. Marines), has signed sweeping memos that vastly expand the definition of undocumented immigrants immediately subject to deportation. Random arrests have taken place across the country. Fear is stalking neighborhoods from Long Island to Los Angeles to Chicago and the border areas. Immigrants are afraid to get in a car or go to the store for fear of being snatched by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. Coming across the border is now considered a deportable crime. This applies to 11 million people.

In addition to deportations there is an escalation of arbitrary harassment. For example, Muhammad Ali Jr. and his mother were stopped at a Florida airport and held for two hours because of their Muslim names. A holocaust scholar from Paris who was born in Egypt narrowly escaped deportation. An undocumented worker, Sara Beltran Hernandez, who was hospitalized for treatment of a tumor in Texas, was seized by border control agents and put in a detention center. Incidents such as these are multiplying across the country.

The Trump/Bannon budget

Meanwhile, Trump is scheduled to address a joint session of Congress on Feb. 28 at which he will announce the Trump/Bannon budget. Stephen Bannon is an ultra-rightist and the president’s top advisor.

Advance advertising about the budget calls for a $54 billion increase in military spending, which currently stands officially at $584 billion. The proposed increase is 9.2 percent. (This excludes the Energy Department, which oversees nuclear weapons.)

According to the Feb. 27 Reuters: “Trump has previously said he would expand the Army to 540,000 active-duty troops from its current 480,000, increase the Marine Corps from 23 to 36 battalions — or as many as 10,000 more Marines — boost the Navy from 276 to 350 ships and submarines, and raise the number of Air Force tactical aircraft from 1,100 to 1,200.” He has also been talking about increasing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

“An official familiar with the proposal said Trump’s request for the Pentagon included more money for shipbuilding, military aircraft and establishing ‘a more robust presence in key international waterways and choke points’ such as the Strait of Hormuz and South China Sea.”

The push to expand the military off the coasts of China and Iran flows from Bannon’s worldview that there will be wars in the Middle East and the South China Sea within the next 10 years.

Washington already has the largest military budget many times over than any other country. Furthermore, it is not now engaged in any major wars of a conventional character. One can only speculate that this military budget is preparation for future major military adventures.

The expansion of the military budget is also a resort to the time-honored method of creating jobs, a pledge Trump has been saying over and over since his campaign began. High-tech warfare is technology-intensive and does not produce many jobs. But Trump’s preparation for conventional battlefield, air and sea warfare is part of his jobs program. He is also trying to build political support among the military-industrial complex, both the brass and the corporations.

Bannon and the ‘Strategic Initiatives Group’

The budget may not survive as projected by Trump. But it has Bannon’s fingerprints on it, reflecting his warlike ideology. To further these militaristic goals, as well their anti-immigrant goals, he and Trump have created a behind-the-scenes group, parallel to the National Security Council. This body is called the Strategic Initiatives Group.

The NSC is supposed to be the authoritative body that advises on policy and intervention all over the world. It has been the traditional forum for  mainstream capitalists, their foreign policy establishment and spy agencies — e.g., the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA, etc. The NSC is traditionally the most powerful body advising the president on policy.

The Strategic Initiatives Group is supposed to be a “think tank” inside the NSC, but in fact it is a select group inside the White House. It consists of Bannon, Jared Kushner (Trump’s son-in-law), Steven Miller and other unnamed Breitbart loyalists. One of them, Sebastian Gorka, is the son of an anti-communist Hungarian refugee who was decorated by the Nazis. The son is a fanatical Islamophobe who has been photographed wearing his father’s Nazi medal. (thedailybeast.com, Jan. 31)

Despite its think tank cover, the SIG makes policy proposals, such as the refugee travel ban, among other things. It circumvents the State Department, the CIA, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other organs that are supposed to be in the loop. It is a dangerous cabal. While this cabal suffered a severe setback when three courts ruled against the travel ban, the Trump/Bannon group is trying to reinstate the ban.

Trump administration split

Bannon and the SIG operate independently and in opposition to the establishment agencies. For example, just before Vice President Michael Pence was to go to Brussels to affirm the Trump administration’s support for the European Union, the German-dominated federation of European states, Bannon had a lengthy telephone conversation with the German ambassador to the U.S.

According to a Feb. 21 article in Reuters: “[S]ources described a longer meeting in which Bannon took the time to spell out his world view. They said his message was similar to the one he delivered to a Vatican conference back in 2014 when he was running the right-wing website Breitbart News.

“In those remarks, delivered via Skype, Bannon spoke favorably about European populist movements and described a yearning for nationalism by people who ‘don’t believe in this kind of pan-European Union.’”

Shortly before this conversation, Peter Navarro, the head of Trump’s National Trade Council, accused German bankers of being currency manipulators. This came as a shock in Berlin. It is undoubtedly part of an attempt to sharply escalate antagonisms with German finance capital. Navarro is also a currency hawk against China.

This is part of the Bannon/Trump strategy to maneuver with Russia while fulfilling Bannon’s nationalist line.

Similarly, Trump has been repeatedly quoted about “taking Iraqi oil.” Secretary of Defense James Mattis (retired general, U.S. Marines) had to go to Iraq and disavow any intention to take Iraq’s oil. Of course this was a lie; the entire Iraq war was about trying to get Iraq’s oil. (The effort failed.) But Mattis had to cover up for Trump’s public belligerence.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and DHS Secretary John Kelly went to Mexico to smooth out relations after Trump told President Enrique Peña Nieto that Mexico would have to pay for a wall and that the U.S. would send troops to “clean up bad hombres” there.

Kelly told a press conference on Feb. 23 that there would be no mass deportations and no military mobilization against undocumented workers in the U.S. Shortly thereafter, Trump said there would be a wide campaign against undocumented workers and described it as a “military operation.”

During his campaign Trump said that Japan and south Korea should develop their own nuclear weapons because the U.S. shouldn’t have to pay for them. This called into question the inter-imperialist alliance in Asia. Mattis had to go to Seoul and Tokyo to reaffirm U.S. alliances with both countries.

Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu without the secretary of state. He then told a press conference that he was for a one-state solution to the Palestinian question. This was a sharp departure in words (not deeds) from decades of U.S. official policy.

Nikki Haley, Trump’s U.N. ambassador, then had to state categorically at the U.N. that Washington stands “firmly behind” a two-state solution.

In short, the Trump/Bannon worldview is in struggle with the mainstream military/imperialist view. The mainstream view is rooted heavily in the policy of surrounding Russia in alliance with the NATO powers and pushing into central and Eastern Europe.

This conventional U.S. worldview is also rooted in gradually ratcheting up pressure on China by moving military assets to the Pacific and arming both Japan and south Korea. At the same time, Wall Street and the transnational corporate monopolies have steadily invested in China and built up global supply chains that depend upon stable U.S.-China relations.

The mainstream view is an Atlantic/Pacific strategy of U.S. imperialism that has been built up over decades.

Beware the ‘adults in the room’

Many liberals and even moderate Republicans were overjoyed when Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster was appointed to replace Islamophobe Michael Flynn as Trump’s National Security Adviser.

McMaster is supposed to be a no-nonsense general who has a record of speaking truth to power — that is, telling civilian authorities to stop trying to manage the military in matters of warfare. McMaster, General Kelly, General Mattis and Tillerson are supposed to be the “adults in the room” who will deal with immature, out-of-control Trump and his fanatical adviser Bannon.

However, to look to these Pentagon generals and Tillerson, the former CEO of the largest private oil company in the world, to protect the progressive interests of the masses in the face of Trump is a dangerous and foolish course.

If the generals are opposed to the Trump policy, it is only because they fear he will ruin their plans to dominate the Middle East, Eastern Europe, China and the rest of the world. The military and the oil companies are cunning and deceitful in their plans for global domination.

They are not “adults” to be relied upon. They are enemies of workers and oppressed peoples worldwide. They are the architects of military intervention and aggression around the world. Their goal is conquest and imperialist expansion.

‘Deconstructing the administrative state’

“Deconstructing the administrative state” is the phrase Bannon uses to describe sweeping away all institutional protections for the masses, for the environment, for women, immigrants, people of color, the poor and all who are victimized by the workings of capitalism and capitalist politics.

Whatever rules and regulations exist to slow down the aggression of capital against the people, or to institutionalize the gains they made in the struggle, are in most cases in the regulatory agencies. One look at Trump’s cabinet appointments for the domestic agencies shows that he and Bannon mean to pulverize all the regulatory protections that exist for society as a whole.

To pay for the $54 billion increase in military spending, the offset is going to come from deep cuts in the budgets of the State Department and all the domestic regulatory agencies. This is why Trump’s cabinet picks for Education, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, etc., are all people who want to destroy the fundamental missions of the very departments they are supposed to lead.

If Trump and Bannon are to be stopped, they must be stopped by the mobilized masses — in the communities, in the unions, on the campuses, in the factories and workplaces. A united movement of organized workers and the oppressed acting militantly will interfere with and halt the plans of this reactionary cabal.

Goldstein is the author of Capitalism at a Dead End and Low-Wage Capitalism. Both are available via online booksellers.

Protests open cracks in government

By Fred Goldstein posted on February 14, 2017

Feb. 13 — Donald Trump has suffered a series of setbacks in his foreign policy promises while escalating attacks on the workers and oppressed at home.

There were nation-wide protests in México against Trump on Feb. 12.

Trump campaigned against China all throughout his candidacy. He made aggressive charges that China was “raping our country” through currency manipulation and unfair trade. Trump threatened trade retaliation and questioned the One China policy by taking a phone call from the president of Taiwan, which is rightfully part of China.

Reality set in last week. After a phone call with the president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, who represents 1.3 billion people and the second-largest economy in the world, Trump announced he would follow the One China policy and not recognize Taiwan.

During his campaign, he curried favor with the most right-wing, pro-Israeli forces, like billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, by vowing to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. No other imperialist country has an embassy in Jerusalem.

But when he sought Saudi and Egyptian help in the Middle East, he was told to drop the idea of moving the embassy to Jerusalem. He has not mentioned it since.

Trump vowed to restore torture as official policy and to reopen secret torture sites that the Bush administration had established in other countries but later outlawed. In the face of potential antagonism from the hundreds of millions of people in the Middle East, Trump has had to quietly back away from both these pledges.

Of course, his ban of Muslim immigrants and refugees has blown up in his face. It provoked widespread demonstrations throughout the U.S. and other continents, which are still going on.

Escalating attacks on undocumented

While the capitalist media were focused on the courts and the travel ban, Trump introduced sweeping new rules for deportation. President Barack Obama was rightfully known as “deporter in chief” for the millions of deportations under his regime. In his last years, however, Obama relaxed the rules governing deportations to exclude all but the most serious crimes.

Trump issued an executive order on Jan. 25 changing the rules. His new rules call for deporting anyone with a chargeable offense, whether or not they have been convicted of a crime.

Chargeable offenses include crossing the border without documents, using a false Social Security card (without which no one can work) and any minor misdemeanor. The new rules give local immigration authorities complete discretion in deportation proceedings.

These rules make all 11 million undocumented workers in the U.S. subject to arrest and deportation at any time.

Immigration, Customs and Enforcement immediately carried out 160 arrests in Los Angeles. An additional 200 undocumented workers were arrested in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. About 200 were arrested across Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri and Wisconsin. (New York Times, Feb. 12)

Breaking up a family

Trump’s message was clear in the high-profile deportation of Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, 35, a mother of two who came to the U.S. in the 1990s when she was 14. Garcia was arrested in an ICE workplace raid in 2008, but the agency worked out an arrangement for her to remain as long as she reported to ICE periodically. She had reported eight times since then.

In 2013 an order to deport was instituted, but Garcia de Rayos was allowed to remain. But when Trump changed the rules to allow priority deportation for any illegality, she was seized on Feb. 8 when she reported to ICE and deported within 24 hours.

Protesters were arrested at demonstrations to stop her deportation.

As to the raids over the last week, Trump has announced he was “carrying out my campaign promise.” In other words, he is stoking fear in the immigrant community and stoking hatred in his reactionary racist followers.

Billionaires on a rampage

One of the reasons political machines under capitalist democracy have been hesitant to put billionaires personally in charge of the White House, as opposed to allowing them into the cabinet and other high positions, is the fear that their greed will lead them to wreck the economy and endanger the system altogether.

But now there is a billionaire boss, who came from outside the political establishment, who has moved directly into the White House, and has complete domination of the most powerful governmental executive position in the world.

The Democratic Party administration of Bill Clinton laid the basis for the great financial crash of 2008. Financial policy was dominated by Robert Rubin, Clinton’s secretary of the Treasury and former head of Goldman Sachs, along with Larry Summers and Alan Greenspan, all voices of Wall Street.

This group cast aside regulations that had put a lid on bank speculation. They overturned the Glass-Steagall Act, passed after the Great Depression. The Clinton group fought against regulating a major new speculative instrument called financial derivatives. That unleashed Wall Street and the banks to do as they pleased.

It took less than 10 years for the massive speculation in mortgages and derivatives to build up a bubble. The bubble burst and the Great Recession of 2008 crashed down on the U.S. and the globe. It made the cyclical capitalist boom-and-bust crisis immeasurably worse.

Now the Trump administration is busily crafting new ways of removing all restraints on the banks and financiers.

In the wake of the 2008 crash, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was passed to put some restraints on the banks going forward. Trump boasted to a host of bankers that he was going to get advice from Jamie Dimon of JPMorgan Chase on how to take apart Dodd-Frank, among other regulations.

The working class must get ready for a reenactment of speculative frenzy among the bankers and the bosses if Trump pushes through his financial “reform,” which includes his plan to lower corporate taxes and do away with regulations on corporate crimes against the workers and against the environment.

Attacks breed resistance

The right wing mobilized anti-abortion forces nationally on Feb. 11 to demonstrate against Planned Parenthood. Trump has promised to defund the organization, which provides not only abortions but basic women’s health care throughout the country.

The right-wing demonstrations were met by equal or greater pro-choice forces supporting Planned Parenthood in cities large and small across the country. For example, in St. Paul, Minn., the anti-abortion forces numbered 500 while the pro-choice forces numbered 5,000. (CommonDreams, Feb. 17)

A massive pushback by tens of thousands in the movement against Trump’s Muslim travel ban panicked the ruling class and the courts. Trump suffered a setback as Ninth Circuit Court judges unanimously upheld a Seattle district court ruling that temporarily stopped the travel ban. There is no evidence that Trump has given up the ban, but he has had to say that he might have to redraft it to make it more acceptable in court. But the mass opposition is already in motion.

As demonstrations against the deportations broke out throughout the U.S., a massive demonstration in Mexico City was part of a Mexico-wide mobilization against the wall and the persecution of  immigrants. Meanwhile, in the U.S., workers have been demonstrating against anti-union, “right to work” moves in Wisconsin and Michigan state legislatures.

The temporary victory in court against the travel ban and  deportations is the result of both the demonstrations down below and the harm that the ban does to the tech industry, the universities, hospitals, agribusiness and other capitalist institutions. It is a case in which the movement on behalf of the oppressed benefited from a combination of their own struggle and a split in the ruling class.

Courts no friend of workers and oppressed

The court ruling on the travel ban has been accompanied by mountains of capitalist praise for judicial checks on the executive, the great “separation of powers,” “checks and balances” and so on.

The Seattle and the Ninth Circuit courts issued liberal rulings. Trump will undoubtedly try again, since the judiciary, and especially the federal judiciary, is the most reactionary branch of the three branches of the capitalist state. Federal judges are appointed for life. They cannot be removed by any ordinary means. Therefore, no one should be inveigled into relying on the courts.

Of course, the workers and oppressed are always in favor of rulings they can take advantage of. For example, the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. the Board of Education overturned the racist doctrine of “separate but equal,” which had been the legal basis for Jim Crow laws enforcing segregation in the South.

But that 1954 ruling was in anticipation of the coming massive Civil Rights Movement and the general Black Liberation struggle rising in the South. It was an anticipatory ruling.

Similarly, the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion was a ruling in reaction to a mass movement of women. It had nothing to do with any progressive leaning of the court. In fact, it was a Nixon court with a majority of Republican-appointed judges who were under mass pressure.

By contrast, the history of the Supreme Court is overwhelmingly reactionary. An 1806 Supreme Court ruling that a union organized by shoemakers was a “criminal conspiracy” was applied to other unions for much of the 19th century.

The Dred Scott decision of 1858 declared that runaway fugitive enslaved people were still property of a master and had to be returned. The Plessy v. Ferguson ruling of 1896 upheld the pernicious “separate but equal” doctrine of racial segregation in public facilities.

This reactionary history extends all the way to this century’s Citizens United decision, which unleashed billions of dollars to further corrupt the voting system and gut the Voting Rights Act, disenfranchising millions of African American and Latinx people.

As for checks and balances, these are applied by currents of the ruling class to check each other when needed. These checks and balances, now being hailed by the capitalist mass media, have little bearing on the condition of the workers and the oppressed.

There are no checks and balances on the extreme capitalist exploitation and accumulation of wealth in the U.S. that has left the top 0.1 percent of the population with more wealth than the bottom 90 percent.

There are no checks and balances on mass incarceration or racist police killings. There are no checks and balances on the persecution and deportation of immigrants or on the destruction of health care for millions of poor women. There are no checks and balances on imperialist wars of aggression or on the death machines of the military-industrial complex.

As a rule, these atrocities are either ignored or blessed by the courts.

The only true check on the aggression of the ruling class against the workers and the oppressed is the mass struggle.

Airport protests set new level of solidarity

By Fred Goldstein, posted February 1, 2017

Jan. 30 — The wave of airport protests against Trump’s Muslim ban represents a new high-water mark in solidarity with Muslims in the U.S. These demonstrations are a political rebuff to the vicious Islamophobia stoked for a year and a half by Donald Trump, along with his Mexico bashing and many other reactionary themes.

In fact, Islamophobia has replaced anti-communism in the 21st century as the primary divisive, racist, divide-and-conquer strategy to foment war, intervention and police surveillance. Now the Islamophobes are being pushed back.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, and the World Trade Center bombings, Muslims and those in the movement who support them against ruling-class prejudice and persecution have been on the defensive. Solidarity activities have been relatively small and have been in the shadows.

But Donald Trump, Stephen Bannon, Gen. Michael Flynn and company, now hunkered down in the White House, changed all that by issuing a 90-day ban on people coming from six predominantly Muslim countries — Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen — and banning Syrian nationals and refugees indefinitely.

This reactionary White House circle apparently did not get the message from the 3.3 million people who demonstrated around the country on Jan. 21 at the Women’s March. That march was marked by a high degree of solidarity with Muslim women. Instead, Trump and his reactionary circle, which is moving sharply in an authoritarian direction, provoked a massive movement that was already in motion.

100 demonstrations in 42 states

As of this writing, 100 demonstrations in 42 states have been carried out or are planned. Tens of thousands have already gone to airports to protest. (getgroundgame.com/airportprotests)

Television networks have carried the larger, more prominent ones in New York, Los Angeles, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Boston, Atlanta and so forth.The movement has been powerful enough to force courts in four states to put stays on the deportation of immigrants caught up in the ban and its sudden application. Requests for injunctions have been granted in New York City, Seattle, Virginia and Massachusetts. The Massachusetts injunction goes further than the others, which block deportation but permit detention. Massachusetts is not allowing detention.

The original ban included all people with green cards. This amounts to a ban on hundreds of thousands of people around the world. In their rush to push the ban through, Trump and his National Strategy Adviser Steve Bannon, an ultra-right, Islamophobic, anti-Semite, informed U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Immigration Services of the ban on the very afternoon it was promulgated. Only the massive struggle that erupted at airports the next day forced the head of Homeland Security, Gen. John Kelly, to rescind the green card ban.

In their fanaticism Trump, Bannon, Reince Priebus, Flynn and company showed no concern for all the students from the seven Islamic countries covered by the ban who were returning to continue their studies. They did not care about workers, scientists and technicians returning to their jobs. They showed utter contempt for people coming to be with their families. Even after several court injunctions were obtained, CBP officials refused to allow attorneys to see some detainees and turned away members of Congress who were attempting to find out the status of those detained.

This reflects the authoritarian stamp of the Trump inner circle.

Ideological and political step forward

The legal struggle to eradicate the ban altogether has a long way to go. It will take a great deal of political struggle in the streets, on the campuses and in the communities to push back the Trump administration. But the struggle has begun in a very inspiring way.

A new sense of solidarity has swept the movement, which got a sense of its power at the J21 Women’s March. That power has been transformed into solidarity and militant rejection of Islamophobia.

Anti-Muslim sentiment has been a fundamental ideological and political prop of the ruling class and much of the political establishment since Sept. 11.

By coming out en masse across the country, the airport demonstrators have put up determined resistance to the Trump refugee ban. But they have also struck an ideological and political blow against the Islamophobic poison of the ruling class. These demonstrations have laid the basis for future political steps forward.

Islamophobia has been used to build Homeland Security. It has been used to militarize the police in cities across the country. Above all, it has been used to promote the so-called “war on terror.”

Under the pretext of the “war on terror,” U.S. imperialism and the Pentagon have intervened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia and lately in Yemen. The military-industrial complex — the makers of drones, smart bombs, military satellites, bombers, fighter planes, helicopters, tanks, munitions of every kind, military robots, etc. — have prospered producing arms for the “war on terror.”

From solidarity to anti-imperialism

The solidarity shown with Muslims can cause many to question the ideological and material basis that led to the ban in the first place. It is supposedly to protect the U.S. against terrorist organizations like al-Qaida and the Islamic State group (IS). But the ban is part of a broader offensive against the oil-rich and geostrategic Muslim world of the Middle East and North Africa.

It is precisely the Pentagon and the CIA that are responsible for the rise of groups like al-Qaida and IS. Washington has bombed 11 Islamic countries in the last 25 years. The Pentagon has inflicted untold destruction, suffering and death upon countries from Afghanistan to Somalia. The CIA has destroyed all the progressive secular nationalist forces, all those openly anti-imperialist, all the socialist and communist forces in the Middle East.

But the imperialists have not stopped their plunder and their oppression. They have taken Iraq’s oil. They have destroyed Libya and taken its oil. They have financed a devastating war trying to topple the independent government of Syria. The region is strewn with millions of refugees escaping the destruction of drone warfare, F-16s, A-10 killing machines. The oil barons are searching and drilling for oil in the coastal areas of Islamic North Africa. U.S. troops are spread throughout the region.

Under such conditions, with all progressive and secular forces weakened if not destroyed, it is inevitable that the vacuum of resistance will be filled by reactionary forces. The IS group is a patriarchal, medieval, theocratic organization pledged to drive the Western powers from the Middle East — the powers that divided up the region in the first place.

Such forces are at the same time the enemy of both the masses and of imperialism. The “war on terror” has nothing to do with helping women or freeing society. It has to do with reasserting the dominance of imperialism over the oil-rich Middle East and Africa.

Along with fighting Trump and his ­reactionary anti-Muslim tirades, the movement should try to match its dynamic political resistance with a determination to get to the bottom of the problem. The movement must see the commonality of racism, misogyny, LGBTQ and all gender oppression, anti-immigrant poison and the struggle against the multinational working class as based in the same substance as Islamophobia.

At the root is imperialism, the profit system and the domination of the world by capitalist monopolies.

Goldstein is the author of ­“Capitalism at a Dead End” and “Low-Wage Capitalism,” both of which can be purchased from online booksellers.

(Houston airport photo: Gloria Rubac)

Charlotte uprising forces release of killer cop videos

By Fred Goldstein posted on October 5, 2016

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The truly heroic forces of the Charlotte Uprising have carried out a great struggle to get justice for Keith Lamont Scott, who was murdered in cold blood by the cops on Sept. 20 while waiting in his car for his son to come home from school. Now they are also fighting for freedom for Rayquan Borum, who has been framed up for the police killing of Justin Carr during the rebellion. Eyewitnesses say that the rubber bullet that killed Carr was fired by the police. Only the police have rubber bullets.

In the course of the righteous rebellion, the Uprising has pushed back the cops and established an important precedent that the movement should study and try to follow. They have carried their rebellion to the commercial and financial centers of Charlotte, the Wall Street of the South.

For example, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy, the real ruling class of North Carolina, were forced to tell their workers to stay home for several days.

Taking it to the ruling class

The commercial EpiCenter, which houses businesses, a major hotel, restaurants and bars, was invaded and business has fallen way off. There were major cancellations at large hotels. The Westin Hotel had three large groups cancel, losing several 4,000-room nights of business. The Aria Tuscan Grill restaurant had 300 reservations on a Friday night and none of them showed up.

According to the owner of the Aria Tuscan Grill and City Smoke, “I remember 9/11 vividly, and remember thinking that was the worst. This event is even bigger.” (Charlotte Observer, “Unrest ‘huge blow’ to uptown hospitality industry,” Sept. 28) There was also damage to Walmart, the Omni Hotel, the Hyatt, the Charlotte Convention Center and an office tower near the NASCAR Hall of Fame. There were boarded-up stores in both downtown and uptown.

Demonstrators blocked interstate highways I-77, I-85 and I-277, all of which are important access routes to the commercial districts. The police had to shut down I-277 for several hours.

The Carolina Panthers game on Sept. 25 was the most undersold game in two years. With tickets costing $120 each, much revenue was undoubtedly lost.

Police do 180 on videos

The protesters’ victory so far has been to force an adamant police chief and the mayor to release police videos of the shooting. The police initially refused to release them.

Police Chief Kerr Putney spoke the day after the killing. With Mayor Jennifer Roberts by his side, he firmly refused to release any videos on the grounds that they were part of an ongoing investigation.

Putney started litigating the case in public right away, declaring that Scott got out of his car with a gun and pointed it at the police.

The next day, as the rebellion grew, Putney said that even if the videos didn’t show Scott with a gun, the cops found a gun. Later they said they found an ankle holster. Of course “dropping a gun” is standard police operation when they want to cover up a killing or frame up someone. One video also shows the cops yelling at Scott, “Drop the gun.” But the police knew full well that the dash cam was on them and they acted out their lines accordingly.

A day later Putney said the cops would release the videos when there was a good reason to.

And finally, in the wake of the movement’s calls for his resignation, Putney totally reversed course on Sept. 24 and said he would release the videos.

So far the police have released partial videos; they are due to release much more video. This victory is going to put pressure on police departments across the country to release videos of police shootings. And it was done in a matter of days.

This is no small accomplishment. In Chicago the movement could not get the release of the video of Laquan McDonald’s murder for 14 months, and it was only released after a court order based on a lawsuit by a reporter.

Taking on state by pressuring ruling class

At the present time, the movement against racist police killings and brutality does not have the force to take on the state directly. The local police are militarized, as are the state police and the National Guard. The state can only be pushed back indirectly, by interfering with the sales and profits of the banks, big business, and medium and small businesses. Because the cops are, in the end, only the servants of business, it is the capitalist ruling class that can be forced to tell their servants to pull back.

Of course, the ruling class is secretly behind the new wave of repression being brought against the Uprising — including hundreds arrested, new warrants for organizers and the frame-ups of key people. It is quite expected that the ruling class will strike back with repression. But no matter what, the victory has already been accomplished and cannot be erased. And the repression must be fought, not just by the Charlotte movement, but also by people from the entire country in the struggle for Black lives.

Displaying extraordinary heroism and determination, the Uprising refused to be intimidated by a massive show of force. Hundreds of cops in riot gear, showering rubber bullets and tear gas, and wielding clubs, could not drive the demonstrators off the streets.

The Uprising defied a state of emergency declared by the governor and curfews by the local government. The activists came back, day after day, night after night. While they could not defeat the state outright, they also refused to be intimidated. They pushed up against the cops, the Guard and the state police. And they stayed in the streets.

This struggle has illuminated the relationship between the bosses and the cops. That alone is an accomplishment. Of course, there still has to be the indictment, the trial and the conviction of the cops involved. That is a much larger struggle. But the Uprising has shown the great potential of a truly grassroots rebellion.