Saturday, July 29, 2017

Not normal bourgeois politics: Criminalizing political differences

Liberals witch hunt to impeach Trump driven by fear of the working class



The shrill and unrelenting witch hunt by liberal Democrats, some Republican politicians and most of the bourgeois news media who accuse President Donald Trump of “colluding” with Moscow to “influence” the 2016 presidential elections, has reached a new fever pitch. These forces thought they had finally reached a “gotcha” moment when Donald Trump Jr. admitted he had had a meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and lobbyist Rinat Akhmetshin in June 2016.

The witch hunt is aimed at criminalizing what are in fact political differences in order to force the impeachment or indictment of President Trump and bring down his administration.

Trump is the target of an open-ended investigation by special counsel and former FBI chief Robert Mueller, as well as both the Senate and House intelligence committees.

The New York Times giddily ran an article July 22 that they had uncovered a memo by Kenneth Starr, who served as special counsel assigned to look into possible impeachment of then President Bill Clinton, that said a sitting president could be criminally indicted.

Liberal papers, nighttime TV talk shows, morning commentators and countless others with blood in their mouth are full of calls to bring Trump down.

This is not normal capitalist politics.

The capitalist rulers saw something new and different in the 2016 elections that kindled fear of the working class. The object of their fear isn’t Trump, but the workers they saw behind his victory. Millions of workers and farmers are beginning to see that the capitalist political parties have no solutions for the carnage they face from today’s deepening crisis of capitalism — except throwing the monetary and human costs of their crisis onto the backs of working people. The rulers fear what they see coming out of this — sharpening class struggle.

“The media often reports that Trump won a majority of voters without college degrees, which is taken by Trump supporters as just a nicer way of being called stupid,” Gary Abernathy, editor of the Times-Gazette in Hillsboro, Ohio — where Trump won 75 percent of the votes — wrote July 21. For millions of people, he says, when Trump calls charges of collusion with Moscow “fake news,” he “strikes a chord because the Russia hysteria is not real news, either, not compared with the issues that impact their daily lives.”

What is important here for class-conscious workers is not that Trump is better politically than the liberals, he isn’t. His goal, like theirs, is to defend the interests of the capitalist system in a time of crisis.

But the appointment of a special counsel, and fawning praise from the liberals for this former FBI top cop, is dangerous for the working class. The special counsel is called out when the rulers are looking to get someone. He starts with a target and then goes to work to find something to use. He digs with no time limit, no limits on what he can investigate or the charges he can bring. His appointment undercuts the constitutional protections to due process in the Bill of Rights.

And bringing down Trump would tell millions of workers who voted for him that their votes are less meaningful then the liberals’ political vendetta.

Trump fights back

Trump has begun to call out those he suspects of being part of the “leakers” feeding the press frenzy. And others he believes have made it easier for the liberals to use whatever they can get their hands on to take him down.

This is what’s behind his complaints that Attorney General Jeff Sessions betrayed him when he recused himself from having anything to do with the “Russian collusion” charges.

And Trump criticized Sessions for failing to investigate Hillary Clinton over the scandal that found she had illegally sent and received “top-secret” information on her personal computer.

In a remarkable turnabout, the liberal press has now become a champion of Sessions, a politician they have pilloried as a racist and reactionary. The July 27 Economist ran an article headlined, “Jeff Sessions Is in Peril; So Is America.”

Trump went back on the road to mobilize the workers who elected him against the liberals’ crusade. He spoke to an overflow crowd of more than 6,000 in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25.

When he said he was glad to be “back in the center of the American heartland, far away from the Washington swamp,” he got some of the biggest cheers of the night, with loud chants of “Drain the swamp.”

“I don’t care for the hatred directed towards him or the people who supported him,” Dave Torrance, an African-American Trump supporter who attended the rally from Hermitage, Pennsylvania, told the New York Post. “There have been plenty of presidents I did not vote for, but I always want them to be successful so that our country is successful.”

“He’s exactly who we wanted, someone fresh, different, not a politician,” Roxanne Jewell, of Orangeville, Ohio, told the Post.

Ranchers’ Rights to Graze Cattle on Federal Lands

(As I See It)

Defend the Bundys! Defend ranchers’ access to 
public land



OAKLAND, Calif. — “In Defense of Ranchers’ Rights to Graze Cattle on Federal Lands” was the topic of the Militant Labor Forum here July 21. This writer was the speaker, on behalf of the Socialist Workers Party.

On July 17 Dennis Richter, from Los Angeles, and I attended the opening day of the frame-up retrial in Las Vegas of Scott Drexler, Richard Lovelien, Eric Parker and Steven Stewart, four men who participated in a protest three years ago demanding that Cliven Bundy’s cattle be freed from federal government impoundment. A number of other people who joined the protest, including Bundy and two of his sons, are in prison pending later trials on related charges.

This past spring a jury in the same courtroom had been unable to find the defendants guilty. The charges included “assault on a federal officer,” “threatening a federal law enforcement officer,” “interstate travel in aid of extortion,” and “conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States.” Judge Gloria Navarro declared a mistrial of the four, while two others were convicted on some of the charges.

The Bureau of Land Management seized 400 of Bundy’s cattle near his Bunkerville, Nevada, ranch in April 2014, and was preparing to take them to California and sell them. They claimed to be acting in defense of the environment, with court decisions backing them up.

The fact is the Bundys — like most farmers and ranchers — pride themselves on being stewards of the land, on which their livelihoods depend.

Hundreds of ranchers, family members and other supporters from all over the western United States rallied in defense of the right of the Bundys and all ranchers to graze their cattle on lands controlled by the federal government.

Federal agencies control nearly 87 percent of the land in Nevada. For generations Bundy family members paid grazing fees, until BLM bureaucrats arbitrarily limited Cliven Bundy to grazing 150 head on the land. He decided to ignore the order and continued to graze his cattle as his family had done for decades. By 2014, the family faced $1 million in unpaid fees, fines and interest, and a series of court orders to stop using federal lands near his small 160-acre ranch.

Following a tense standoff between the heavily armed Clark County police, sheriffs and BLM cops on one side, and Bundy family members and their supporters, a few of whom were armed, on the other, the cattle were released. As Lovelien’s attorney Shawn Perez said in his opening statement at the trial, “Not a shot was fired, not a bottle was thrown, not a rock was thrown.” Not by Lovelien, any of the other defendants or any other supporter of the Bundys.

After this victory, Democratic Sen. Harry Reid, at that time the majority leader in the Senate, threatened, “It’s not over!” And sure enough, the FBI went to work to cook up “evidence” for frame-up charges against Bundy, the current defendants and others. The defendants have been denied bail while awaiting trial.

When the prosecutors failed to get the four defendants convicted last spring, they pressed for a new trial and got Judge Navarro to bar defense attorneys “from referencing constitutional rights to freely assemble and to bear arms,” and “from mentioning alleged misconduct or excessive force by law enforcement,” as they did successfully in the earlier trial.

Working people should stand with the Bundys and the other defendants. The day before the trial began, Richter and I knocked on doors in a workers’ neighborhood in Las Vegas near the Nellis Air Force Base.

“We introduced ourselves as members of the Socialist Workers Party, explained our revolutionary perspectives and reported on protests in defense of the Bundys and the other defendants party members had attended the day before,” said Richter. “The four workers who we had the chance to speak with at length said they had heard about the ranchers’ protests and the trials. They expressed their solidarity and all got copies of the Militant.”

We explained, and I repeated it at the forum in Oakland, that a fighting alliance between workers and independent producers such as ranchers and farmers is necessary to end the dictatorship of capital and to make the revolutionary changes needed in this country. “The logic of workers, farmers and ranchers fighting in our interests — against the wealthy capitalist rulers and their government — is to mobilize in our millions to take power, to establish a workers and farmers government,” I told the forum.

Such a government would ensure that ranchers are able to continue to make a living and act as guardians of the land and the environment as a whole.

Friday, July 21, 2017

U.S. bourgeois campaign against the working class today 

Liberals furor against Trump reflects fear of working class


Why are liberal Democrats, some Republican politicians and most of the mainstream capitalist media continuing to promote the witch hunt against President Donald Trump? Why can’t they accommodate themselves to work with his administration? After all, he’s one of their own: A wealthy capitalist seeking to advance the interests of U.S. capital at home and abroad.

The fact is both the Democratic and Republican parties are in crisis. The rulers increasingly fear the working class, which is battered by depression conditions and sees no wing of the capitalist political parties with answers and responds to Donald Trump’s call to “drain the swamp.” The bosses see working-class battles coming down the road.

The most significant phrase uttered by President Trump in his inaugural speech, economics columnist Martin Sandbu wrote in the July 18 Financial Times, was not “America First” but “American carnage.”

“What sort of country describes itself, in the words of its highest leader no less, in such terms?” Sandbu asked.

“American decline is not a figment of Mr. Trump’s imagination,” Sandbu said, describing the carnage facing working people in the U.S. “Centuries-old progress against mortality has gone in reverse” and working people “are dying from the afflictions of broken lives and broken communities: drug overdoses, liver disease and suicide.”

The rulers fear of the working class fuels the relentless drive of the liberal Democrats and media moguls, as well as the middle-class left and some anti-Trump Republicans, to press for indictments against his family members and to drive him from office. They are bound and determined to criminalize what are in fact political differences with President Trump.

Campaign against the working class 
“Trump didn’t seize the presidency by deception,” wrote Colbert King in the Washington Post July 14. “Nearly 63 million Americans sent that burlesque comedy with headliner Donald Trump to Washington.” In other words, the problem isn’t Trump, but the workers who voted for him.

“The hosts of the late-night shows decided that they had carte blanche to insult not just the people within this administration, but also the ordinary citizens who support Trump,” Caitlin Flanagan wrote in the May issue of Atlantic, viewing them as the “minions pouring out of his [Trump’s] clown car.”

As a result, working people don’t believe much of what they see on the news, Flanagan says, because they see themselves falsely portrayed as “a bunch of trailer-park, Oxy-snorting half-wits” and KKK supporters.

This is why the workers who turned to Trump, many of whom had turned to Barack Obama four years earlier, don’t buy the liberal assault on the president. They agree that the capitalist media runs “fake news.”

Is Moscow the smoking gun? 
After months of trying to find a crime they could pin on Trump and his administration, the New York Times and others leading the charge against the president thought they finally found the smoking gun — a June 9, 2016, meeting Donald Trump Jr. had with a Russian lawyer and an ex-spy lobbyist who they thought had dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump Jr. says it turned out the duo didn’t have any information of use, and they listened instead to their calls for relaxing sanctions against Moscow.

But even after the release of Trump Jr.’s emails, and scores of op-eds in the Timesand other papers crying bloody murder, no one can point to any “crime” that has been committed.

President Trump gets a hearing from many workers when he argues that Hillary Clinton violated the law with her handling of thousands of government emails, but was never prosecuted, while “my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News media.”

Charles Krauthammer, a conservative opponent of Trump, conceded in the Washington Post July 13 that Moscow is not the only world power that tries to intervene in the elections of other countries.

“You don’t have to go back to the ’40s and ’50s when the CIA intervened in France and Italy to keep the communists from coming to power,” he said. “What about the Obama administration’s blatant interference to try to defeat Benjamin Netanyahu in the latest Israeli election?”

The criminalization of political differences between different factions of the capitalist parties will continue.

Both parties are wracked by divisions and will never be the same. In addition to the ceaseless anti-President Trump chorus, the Republicans are divided by their own differences, incapable time and again of passing an alternative to Obamacare. And this despite the fact they have a majority in both houses of Congress.

Trump himself isn’t really a Republican. “President Trump has a funny way of talking about the Republicans as if he’s not one of them,” James Hohmann wrote in the Post July 19. “Maybe it’s because he was a registered Democrat until as recently as 2009.”

The Democrats are in no better shape. While they all are buoyed by the shrill campaign against Trump, they are bitterly divided on how to rebuild a party that can win elections and con working people. The Bernie Sanders “revolution” is working hard to gain position to take over the party, even if it means the Democrats continue to lose elections while they plod along.  


Joseph Hansen on 1969 moon landing

Read issue here:

Joseph Hansen:

The age-old fantasy of reaching the moon finally became a reality. The feat consti-
tutes a major milestone in the history of
mankind, particularly the development of

Watching the coverage of the event on
television, who could fail to be impressed
by the technological level that has now
been reached?

First of all, that man's first steps on
another planet could be viewed by millions
of persons all around our own globe
at the very moment these steps were taken
would hardly have been credible only a
few years ago. This advance itself is one
of the fantastic consequences of the space
age with its Telestar relay system.

Equally remarkable was the display of
reliability, not to mention clarity in voice
and image, of the communications system
linking the astronauts with their Houston
base. How much depended on this can be
judged by what would have happened to
Armstrong and Aldrin after they landed
if a single link in this system had failed.
Even more impressive was the revela-
tion of the sophistication reached in the
computers that carried out the continual
calculations as to the orbits and rendez-
vous of the two space ships. Hardly born,
the computer is already automated, mini-
aturized, coupled with radar and brought
to a level of dependability that spoke for
itself in the Apollo 11 mission.

As to the power of the jet engines, this
met all the requirements long laid down
by the better science-fiction writers.
Perhaps the most outstanding feature
of the entire mission was its superb orga-
nizational level- at least this was what
struck many Americans, who incline to
be connoisseurs of the organizational side
of human endeavors, ranging from the
performance of teams in the field of sports
to work forces numbering in the tens and
hundreds of thousands.

Most of the labor in the Apollo 11 mission
went into planning and preparation, the
actual mission representing only a live
performance of drills already performed
thousands of times. The contrast to ex-
ploration in previous centuries was strik-
ing, a convenient gauge happening to be
available in the news about the failure of
Thor Heyerdahl's attempt to cross the
Atlantic in a papyrus-reed boat.

The truth is, of course, that an enter-
prise of the scope of this one -like the
successful production of the atomic bomb-
is beyond the capacity of private enter-
prise. Only a government could assemble
500,000 persons, allot $24 billion, make
available the resources of the Army, Navy,
and Air Force in a concentrated effort
of such breadth for almost a decade. Which
does not mean, of course, that it was not
a highly profitable business for the compa-
nies that got the contracts. An accounting
on this would be highly revealing....

Hansen concludes:

....What can be achieved through central-
ized organization and the application of
scientific knowledge has been shown in a
way that will sink deep into the conscious-
ness of the masses.

Why can't similar organization and
scientific knowledge be applied to make
our everyday lives more secure and liv-
able? If we can go to the moon, why can't
we assure food for everyone? Provide de-
cent housing? Adequate medical services?

Guaranteed yearly incomes? An end to war?

It is now all the harder for the powers
that be to dismiss such questions as uto-
pian. They proved that itwas even possible to go to the moon!

Before too long science may thus have
its revenge on those who have diverted
it to inhuman ends-to profit-making at
the expense of human needs, to mass
murder, to the construction of fiendish
weapons capable of exterminating man-

New layers of humanity will now see
in a more vivid way how insane capi-
talism has become and what a world
could be built if the technological base
humanity has constructed could be placed
at the disposal of the people and utilized
in accordance with rational planning.

The most important feature of the Apollo
11 triumph may yet be the impact it has
on bringing man, the tool-making animal,
to realize that he has become sufficiently
skilled with tools, and that now he must
master his social and economic relations
if he is not to perish from what the tool
has become.