RAY O’ LIGHT NEWSLETTER
January-February 2012 Number 76
The Brutal and Decaying U.S. Empire and the Newtown School Tragedy
by RAY LIGHT
“Violence is as American as Cherry Pie!”
— H. Rap Brown, Afro-American liberation fighter
On December 14, 2012, a troubled twenty year old white upper middle class youth, went into the Sandy Hook elementary school in white upper middle class suburban Newtown, Connecticut and murdered twenty innocent six and seven year-old first graders and six teachers. Adam Lanza’s horrific act of wiping out the lives of children so young and innocent and the fact that these children were relatively affluent and predominantly white, as was their executioner, makes the public even more vulnerable than usual to speculation focusing on the lone gunman’s “frame of mind.” This individual focus helps the monopoly capitalist controlled mass media to find “answers” that strengthen the U.S. Empire, the rule of Wall Street finance capital.
President Obama’s response to the tragedy was to immediately back stronger gun control laws. This has been the overwhelming response of the U.S. ruling class, including its military leaders. Already gun buy-back programs have been implemented by such notorious law enforcement agencies as the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). At the same time, other “enlightened” ruling class folks have called for better access to mental health support. And all kinds of social-democrats, pacifists, and other opportunists are prescribing some combination of disarming of the U.S. population (but not the police and the military who are armed to the teeth) and a better mental health care system.*
*NOTE: [In his famous 1961 work, Wretched of the Earth, Algerian psychiatrist Frantz Fanon studied the impact of colonialism and imperialist war on both the colonized and the colonizer. He discussed a European police inspector who was torturing his own family, while his regular job was to torture imprisoned Algerian liberation fighters. He asked Fanon to “cure” him of torturing his own family, in order to enable him to continue his job as a torturer. (See pp. 217-19)]
Whatever their specific prescription, however, the apologists for monopoly capitalism have a unified message: there is nothing fundamentally wrong with this imperialist society; just a few tweaks will take care of the problem.
But a closer look at the facts leads to a different conclusion entirely. The horrific Newtown, Connecticut school tragedy has the “mark of the beast” all over it — the decadent U.S. Empire, having already devoured so many of the world’s peoples as it grew ever more fat and parasitic over the past six decades, is now in sharp decline and is beginning to devour its own young.
For example, between 1991 when the first U.S. Gulf War led by Republican President George Bush I ended and 2003 when his son, George Bush II, embarked on the second unprovoked U.S. war against the people of Iraq, a constant saturation of U.S. Air Force aerial flights enforced a “no-fly zone” that effectively upheld a U.S. embargo, preventing medical supplies and much necessary materiel from reaching the children of Iraq. The estimates are that from 500,000 to a million Iraqi children under the age of five perished as a result of this U.S. embargo that lasted for more than a decade, most of it under Democratic commander in chief Bill Clinton. Were these Iraqi children any less precious than the twenty children of six and seven who were murdered in Newtown, Connecticut last month?!*
*NOTE: [In the U.S. imperialist war of occupation and plunder of Iraq that began in 2003 and continues until today, the people of the USA have known for most of this decade that George W. Bush’s two “reasons” for carrying out this brutal war were bald-faced lies: There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and Saddam Hussein far from being Osama bin Laden’s friend was actually his enemy. Despite knowing these facts, most of the people of the USA have been willing to support the continued U.S. military onslaught against the people of Iraq, including their children.]
The social fabric of U.S. society in 2013 is woven almost entirely from the reality of the crumbling of the U.S. Empire, that is, from the decades-old violent and parasitic legacy of U.S. imperialist hegemony and from its current and precipitous decline.
Following World War II, U.S. imperialism largely replaced all the other major imperialist world powers in their colonies and neo-colonies, becoming the chief oppressor of the world’s peoples economically as well as politically and militarily. The U.S. imperialist unthinkable and grotesque use of the atomic bomb on the men, women and children of two Japanese cities as World War II was drawing to a close, the U.S. imperialist-led war in Korea and the unprecedentedly brutal (and ultimately unsuccessful) U.S. imperialist war on the heroic people of Vietnam, were the most dramatic and draconian examples of the ascendancy of the U.S. Empire to world capitalist hegemonic status. The principle contradiction in the world had become the hundreds of millions of colonial and dependent peoples of the world against imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism.
During the quarter century that followed the massive strike wave of U.S. workers in 1946 against Corporate America, a large sector of the U.S. working class was able to make material gains and many of the youth were able to escape with upward mobility into the rapidly expanding middle class needed to administer the emerging U.S. Global Empire. During that period, they were able to rise not by struggling against U.S. capital but by becoming its supporters in the war against the rest of the world’s working class and toiling peoples.*
*NOTE: [This explains why, in the 1970’s, the U.S. working class remained loyal to U.S. imperialism despite the Watergate political scandal that led to the unelected presidency of Gerald Ford and despite the U.S. military defeat at the hands of the heroic Vietnamese people.]
U.S. imperialism’s unchallenged economic power in the world capitalist camp, however, lasted only from the end of World War II until the early 1970’s. By 1973, when “Japan, Inc.” mounted a powerful economic challenge to U.S. imperialism, threatening to surpass the U.S. economy, the Japanese economy was strangled by the cutoff of Middle East oil by reactionary Arab regimes politically and militarily dependent upon U.S. imperialism. Meanwhile, in 1971, President Nixon took the USA off of the Gold Standard (and froze the wages of millions of U.S. workers abrogating thousands of union contracts) and made the U.S. dollar into the global currency, a force in its own right. Behind gold stood the labor power it took to harvest the gold and turn it into a commodity. Behind the almighty dollar stood the U.S. military.
The ability of the U.S. imperialist state to print dollars and to command that all oil transactions, the engine of monopoly capitalist industry over these decades, be conducted in dollars has been backed by U.S. military might.*
*NOTE: [U.S. imperialism had to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein because he was proposing to the big European and Asian powers that the Euro replace the dollar as the currency in Middle East oil transactions. The U.S. military seized the Iraqi oil fields and deprived the French, Chinese and Russian imperialists of the Iraqi oil they had contracted with the Saddam Hussein regime to acquire. Had Saddam’s plan been implemented, U.S. imperialist economic hegemony would have been broken and the U.S. economy would have even more rapidly crumbled into a second or third tier economy than it is doing now. As the ongoing and ever expanding U.S. War of Terror focused on the Middle East has shown, U.S. imperialism has no choice but to continually expand its Middle East military presence to forestall this inevitable economic collapse.]
The overwhelming U.S. military might is the sine qua non for the ability of U.S. imperialism to bribe wide strata of the U.S. population, including the more privileged and organized sector of the U.S. working class, whose real wages have not increased in the past forty years, to nevertheless experience a continuing increase in material affluence throughout most of this period, up until recently. It explains how the labor of the international working class, and the Chinese working class in particular, has provided the parasitic U.S. imperialist society with so much of its food, clothing and shelter over this period of U.S. hegemony in the world capitalist camp.
In this process, in the past four decades, the USA has become the biggest debtor country in the world! And yet Japan and China, to each of which countries the USA owes more than a trillion dollars, have allowed the U.S. government to print more dollars, “quantitative easing,” as a means of reducing its actual debt to China and Japan without paying them a dime. And neither China nor Japan has openly demanded payment or even demanded the austerity measures to make such payment possible.* The reason why the USA has not had to “pay the piper” up to now is because U.S. imperialism is not only the biggest debtor country on earth but it is also the producer and possessor of more armaments than the rest of the world’s powers combined. Incredibly, the bankrupt U.S. government is still spending more money on its armaments and its military than all the other great powers in the world combined! Furthermore, it uses its murderous power with absolutely no regard for human life.
*NOTE: [Reflect upon the very different treatment accorded to Poland, for example, when the IMF and the World Bank dictated such severe austerity measures to the indebted Polish state, that the Polish people rebelled and overthrew the nominally “socialist” regime under the leadership of Polish trade unions dominated by the Catholic Church.]
The criminal Obama-Biden Regime, in a remarkably seamless transition from the Bush-Cheney Regime of war criminals, has continued to uphold the “Bush doctrine” that the U.S. Empire will not tolerate even regional challenges to its hegemony. Indeed, for the first time in U.S. history, in the change of the Executive Branch Administration from Republican Bush to Democrat Obama, the Republican regime’s Secretary of Defense (Robert Gates) was retained by the Obama regime!
Upon learning that Obama’s first high level national security appointments, National Security Adviser and Director of Intelligence, were a four star Marine General and a retired Admiral respectively, Thomas Schweich who had served the Bush Regime in several high-level jobs, including deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement affairs, warned of the “silent military coup d’etat” he had witnessed first-hand over the previous four years in service to the Bush Regime. Schweich stated: “We no longer have a civilian-led government. It is hard for a life-long Republican and son of a retired Air Force colonel to say this, but the most unnerving legacy of the Bush administration is the encroachment of the Department of Defense into a number of aspects of civilian government. Our constitution is at risk.” Schweich pointed out that the Pentagon had already drawn up plans “to deploy 20,000 U.S. soldiers inside our borders.” (“The Pentagon is muscling in everywhere,” Washington Post, 12-21-08)
Alarmed by this same militarization of the USA, almost two years into the Obama administration, Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the first Reagan term and an Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal, weighed in with an article entitled, “The True Cost of the War.” Roberts observed: “The Bush/Cheney/Obama National Security State has eviscerated the Constitution and civil liberty. Nothing remains. … The president can do whatever he wants as long as he justifies it as ‘national security.’ The president’s part of the government, the unaccountable executive branch, is supreme. This is the legacy of the Bush-Cheney regime, and this criminal regime continues under Obama. America’s ‘war on terror,’ a fabrication, has resurrected the unaccountable dungeon of the Middle Ages and the raw tyranny that prevailed prior to the Magna Carta.” (VDARE.COM, 9-2-10)
Since that time, on the last day of 2011, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act. Among other provisions, this law gives the president the power to target U.S. citizens for assassination without due process and without review of any kind. Today the Obama Regime has vastly expanded the use of drone warfare and is currently waging this barbaric warfare in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen and is ready to wage such war everywhere else, including in the USA itself.
The Obama Regime has continued the unending Bush-initiated War of Terror against the peoples of the world. In concert with traditional European imperialist powers, Italy, France and Britain, Obama launched the bombing and invasion of Libya which has opened up the continent of Africa to renewed imperialist rivalry and conquest. (Mali is the most recent African country whose people are now suffering under direct imperialist military intervention.)
For those who still persist in believing that the Democrats are different from and better than the Republicans, ponder the following: As Obama embarks on his second term, he has nominated former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be his Secretary of Defense, the most important member of his Cabinet. And Obama has nominated John Brennan, the chief of staff to Bush’s CIA Director and then deputy director of the CIA to become his CIA Director. Even Democratic Party-connected CREDO Action has just exposed the following: “In 2008, when President Obama was rumored to want John Brennan as his CIA director, Brennan’s complicity in Bush-era crimes led to an outcry that forced him to remove his name from consideration. Torture and extra-judicial assassinations are just as outrageous now as they were under the Bush administration.” CREDO Action characterizes Brennan as the “assassination czar” and it urges the public to, as its appeal to sign its petition is titled, “Tell the Senate: Don’t let the ‘assassination czar’ of the Obama administration lead the CIA.”
As the citadel of the current world empire, U.S. society, not surprisingly, is much more violent than the other 33 developed nations that make up the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development — a conclusion drawn by Duke University sociology professor Kieran Healy based on his extensive analysis of assault deaths.
On the cultural front, increasingly violent video games such as “Call of Duty” and “Mortal Kombat” are brainwashing U.S. male youth to become unquestioning killers for the U.S. military. During the George W. Bush Regime, TV series such as “24” justified U.S. government torture. And “Dexter” and other shows have projected hired killers as their “heroes,” their main character.*
*NOTE: [So-called reality shows with incentives for contestants to betray each other, strengthen the conviction among the people of the USA that each of us is alone to deal with the system by ourselves.]
The just released brand new feature film “Zero Dark 30” is about the hunting down and killing of Osama bin Laden. It depicts the use of torture as crucial to the “success” of this mission, a “fact” that is evidently false! The controversial film has already garnered prestigious nominations and awards. In the name of national security, “Zero Dark 30” is serving to promote widespread acceptance among the masses of the USA for U.S. military and CIA torture under the Obama Regime, in flagrant violation of all international norms and laws. It has already been reported that the director and the writer of this film had unparalleled access to the intelligence services and special ops forces involved in the mission. With all the billions of undisclosed, unaccounted for dollars in the intelligence agencies’ budgets, it is likely that the CIA and the U.S. military actually produced “Zero Dark 30.”
No wonder millions of “red blooded American boys” have gotten the message that might makes right and that mayhem and murder is the solution to their problems. There is an epidemic of mass murders in U.S. society. Many of them have had a white supremacist and/or fascist motivation. As Mother Jones reports, since 1982, at least 62 mass murders have been carried out with firearms across thirty states.
And there is every indication that tragic mass murder events in the USA will become not less but more frequent in the foreseeable future. Why?
–The Fiscal Cliff, the Tea Party and the Ruination of the U.S. Middle Class–
As an Institute of Southern Studies article (“The reality of the U.S. violence epidemic beyond Sandy Hook”) recently pointed out, “homicide rates tend to increase with poverty.” In the same article the Institute informs us that Adam Lanza’s “mother was allegedly stockpiling guns and food to prepare for a possible economic collapse …” While the Institute of Southern Studies makes this latter point as part of its argument that the U.S. mental health crisis needs to be addressed, there is something much more obvious that the Institute seems to miss entirely. Namely, Mrs. Lanza was not alone. There is widespread fear and worry among the masses of the people of the USA about their economic futures. And this consternation is acute among the U.S. middle class that has already experienced a drastic reduction in its standard of living in the more than four year old capitalist economic crisis in the USA, with its still high levels of unemployment and underemployment, disappearance of decent paying and middle class jobs and rapid growth of minimum wage jobs with few or no benefits. Indeed, this ruined middle class can become the popular base for fascism and is the source of the emergence of the reactionary Tea Party motion in the U.S. body politic. And Tea Party politicians elected to the U.S. Congress in turn have created the conditions for the bankrupt federal government to be teetering on the edge of global loan default and global capitalist economic meltdown.
During the six weeks or so between the November 6th re-election of Obama and the other “Republicrat” incumbents and December 14th when Adam Lanza carried out the bloodbath in the Sandy Hook elementary school, the overwhelming focus of the news in the monopoly capitalist-controlled mass media was the so-called “fiscal cliff.” The “Republicrats” of both wings of the imperialist war party, with House Speaker John Boehner for the Republicans and President Obama for the Democrats in the leading roles, played out their staged “fight” involving “more taxes” (Democrats) versus “less entitlements” (Republicans). In reality, together, they are trying to find a way to get the Tea Party Republicans (as well as the U.S. working class and the rest of the 99%) to go along with the drastic austerity program Obama and Boehner have been trying to put over since the summer of 2011. At that time, Republican House leader John Boehner and Democratic President Obama agreed on a four trillion dollar “grand bargain” that would have, for a time at least, satisfied their U.S. and global banking masters — only to discover that Boehner could not get the Tea Party Republicans to vote for it.
Given Wall Street’s domination of the twin parties of big business, it is understandable that, in the name of “avoiding the fiscal cliff,” the first tangible fruit of this “fight” (as 2013 was ushered in) has been that the temporary Bush-era tax breaks for the rich have largely become permanent. But the already largely ruined U.S. middle class, like Mrs. Lanza, used to a privileged life, had to be worried sick about the fiscal cliff and what would await them at the bottom of the cliff?! Evidently, as she stockpiled weapons and food to prepare for the economic collapse, the fiscal cliff negotiations between the mainstream Republicans and the Democrats on the one hand and the Tea Party Republicans on the other preoccupied and perhaps unhinged Adam Lanza’s mother as well as the young man himself.
But the fiscal cliff itself keeps moving! And in six to eight weeks, the federal government will once again run up against a debt ceiling crisis such as it did in the summer of 2011. The Wall Street ruling class hopes that the Obama-Boehner “fight” against the Tea Party’s “Just Say No to Rich People Paying Taxes!” principle that is leading the U.S. government to the brink of absolute disaster, will con the 99% of people of the USA into clamoring for an austerity program that will impoverish us! So the prospect of more middle class families like the Lanzas, being driven to violent desperation is quite likely.
Furthermore, as Time magazine reports, unlike the popular response to the much more rare mass murder events in Europe which usually lead to tighter gun control laws, following the Newtown tragedy, a USA/Gallup survey released on December 27, found that “74% of Americans say they oppose any law that would ban handguns, compared with 24% in favor — the largest gap in decades.” (“The Uniquely American Response to Mass Shootings, Time, 1-14-13)*
*NOTE: [In the deeply historically ignorant USA, a surprisingly large number of people are mindful of the fact that one of the first acts of the Nazi fascists upon coming to power in 1930’s Germany was to disarm their population.]
“Serious” politicians are promoting the militarization of the schools, with the hiring on a massive scale of armed guards for every school, at a time when teachers and school counselors are being laid off. This is the worst kind of environment for learning anything of value. The National Rifle Association (NRA), in line with the business interests of the gun manufacturers, is encouraging the idea that anyone and everyone should arm themselves. Indeed, the spike in the number of federal background checks for firearms since December 14th reflects the mass sentiment to arm oneself as the only means of finding some safety and security in the USA.
The political representative of the millions of ruined and frightened middle class people that emerged in the USA thus far is the Tea Party, with its single-minded support for the U.S. military, its almost unspoken white supremacy which has energized its hostility to the federal government other than the military and its opposition to any other concept of “community” other than the military and the various police forces. Glenn Beck has thus far been the purest and most hysterical spokesman for this tendency. While the Tea Party was organized and financed by the billionaire Koch brothers as well as big Pharma, the thrust of the Tea Party’s current role in the federal government is to build up the U.S. military budget even beyond what the military brass are asking for (!) and to build up the U.S. military to the point where it can defeat the Japanese and/or Chinese militaries when they are sent to collect the trillions of dollars owed to them by the bankrupt U.S. government and economy. At the same time, the Tea Party is preparing the peoples of the USA to just say no to any debt collection by any “foreign power.”
Given the current political and economic developments in the USA, the only remedy to this sick situation, the only way to avoid an out-of-control epidemic of mass murders such as have occurred so recently in Aurora, Colorado and now Newtown, Connecticut and the developing military-fascist state is to defeat, dismantle and destroy the U.S. Empire. We need to replace the capitalist system, characterized by ruthless exploitation of the many by the privileged few with the socialist system where those who labor have the deciding voice and vote. For the world’s workers want a peaceful world in which to produce an abundant life for themselves, their families and their neighbors everywhere.
Do you know who said it??
“Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital and deserves much the higher consideration.”
Hints: Not a Marxist or a revolutionary. Not even a militant trade unionist.
— Still stumped? See below.
A Labor Movement Lacking “Class”
by MIKE S.
A January 2, 2013 Wall Street Journal Op-Ed by Lynn Forester de Rothschild of the Rothschild banking dynasty and Adam Posen of the Peterson Institute for International Economics opens with the observation, “One of the alarming effects of the global financial crisis has been the widespread erosion of confidence in capitalism itself.” The article continues, “A recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 70% of white working class Americans, 78% of blacks, and 69% of Hispanics believe that the US economic system ‘unfairly favors the wealthy’.” (“How Capitalism Can Repair Its Bruised Image”) The opinion piece calls for capitalism to be more “inclusive” to save itself.
The capitalists are worried. The last thing they want is for workers and the oppressed to turn this erosion of confidence in capitalism into a fight to “build a new world from the ashes of the old.” They have much in their arsenal to suppress, disorient, and divide the working class. One of their tools is all the chatter about the “middle class”: “middle class jobs” – “middle class income” – “middle class tax breaks” – “a middle class way of life.” It is striking how throughout the entire 2012 election there was nary a mention of the working class by the bought and paid for “Republicrat” politicians and the mainstream media.
However, what is even more significant is how the leaders of the U.S. trade union movement sing along in the same chorus! Rarely is there a mention of the working class or the capitalist class, of “Them versus Us.” Emanating from the lips of the vast majority of so-called labor “leaders” are the similar terms – “protect the middle class” – “fight for middle class jobs” – “unions built the middle class” – “tax relief for the middle class” – “vote for what is best for the middle class of the country,” etc. This ideological assault is in the service of the capitalist class, creating the illusion that all U.S. people are in the same boat, with common interests. At the same time it sends the message that there is no working class, no working class pride, no working class interests, no working class solidarity, no working class struggle.
A most graphic example of such class collaboration was displayed by United Auto Workers (UAW) President Bob King during his nationally televised speech to the 2012 Democratic National Convention. King was helping to deliver the unionized segment of the U.S. working class to the Democrats, one of the twin corporate parties. In his closing comments, he made an error and started to say the words “working class” instead of “working families.” King literally choked over the letter “C” in the word “class” as he quickly “corrected” himself. (If you have internet access, you can listen for yourselves by searching “UAW President Bob King’s address to the DNC” and find the YouTube.
With elected leaders of the working class union movement, like the UAW’s King, choking on the words “working class” is it any wonder why workers are so disarmed and find themselves with little organized power in the fight against their class enemy? Thus, it should come as little surprise that in the State of Michigan, the birthplace and largest base of the UAW, the U.S. union movement was just dealt a severe blow. Anti-union forces, funded by the right wing corporate Koch brothers and their demagogically named “Americans for Prosperity” front, were successful in passing right to work legislation. Whatever protests were mustered by the unions, were far too little and too late. Right to work laws (more aptly termed “right to work for less”) ban unions from negotiating “union shops” where all represented employees must pay union dues.* Thus the strength and unity of the workers are diminished. So what was UAW President King’s response to the class war waged against the workers in the industrial heartland? He was taken aback that the legislation was supported by the governor. King pledged that organized labor would support candidates in the future who want to “take care of everybody” and that union attorneys would look into ways to repeal the laws. Anything but class struggle!
*NOTE: [“Right-to-work” laws have their roots in the segregationist South of the United States. In the early 1940‘s, the leader of the “right to work” campaign was Vance Muse, a white supremacist, anti-communist Texas oil industry lobbyist who founded the pro-KKK Christian American Association with the backing of southern oil companies and northeast industrialists such as the DuPonts. In response to the CIO-led advances among southern workers and its anti-Jim Crow stance, the Christian American Association spearheaded right-to-work legislation throughout the southern states. In a direct white supremacist, anti-union appeal to southern white workers, Muse referred to the “closed shop” as follows: “From now on, white women and white men will be forced into organizations with black African apes whom they will have to call ‘brother’ or lose their jobs.” (Source: Stetson Kennedy, “Southern Exposure: Making the South Safe for Democracy,” 1946)]
Meanwhile, the capitalists wage class warfare against the working class, the working poor and oppressed on a daily basis. Lay-offs and unemployment, part-time and temp work, low pay, dangerous working conditions, increased speed up and “productivity” and reduced benefits intensify. Corporate tax breaks, union-busting, attacks on public education and postal services, private profit medical care, massive bail-outs for Wall Street, environmental degradation and imperialist wars all proliferate with the aim of increasing profits and living standards for their class.
Class Collaboration or Class struggle? Such is the fork in the road for the working class and oppressed. The class collaborationist path of the labor bureaucrats leads to further impoverishment, constant concessions to the corporations and the government and deepening Wall Street and monopoly capitalist domination and exploitation. The militant and successful struggle of the Chicago Teachers Union and some of the recent bold stirrings of workers in the Walmart chain underscore that militant class struggle is the best defense of immediate class interests of workers: building militant and democratic unions, defending and improving living standards, defending workers’ rights and collective bargaining, fighting for decent jobs and safe working conditions, creating a labor party for an independent political voice for workers and the oppressed, battling to stop home foreclosures by the banking parasites, winning health care for all as a basic human right.
Class struggle, over the longer run, including building international workers solidarity in our common struggle and common fight, provides the path to workers’ power and socialism. What a day that will be when the parasitic minority will have to work for a living, and the working class, those who create all wealth, will be running society for the benefit of our class interests.
A necessary step forward is to stop choking on the words “working class.”
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“If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention”*
Get Angry, Get Active, Rise Up –
Fight for Workers Power!
The Pentagon recently floated the “trial balloon” that 75,000 U.S. troops “may” be needed in Syria to “secure” alleged chemical weapon stockpiles. Defense Secretary Panetta acknowledged that the U.S. has already drawn up plans in the event that the U.S. believes Syria intends to use chemical weapons. (Reminiscent of the lies and hype about “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq as a pretext for invasion and occupation.) As part of the continued buildup of U.S. forces against Syria, with the ultimate aim of unprovoked war against Iran, the U.S. has sent two batteries of patriot missiles and 400 troops to Turkey near the Syrian border.
The U.S. military has also announced that the U.S. Army will be sending teams into as many as 35 African countries beginning in 2013. With shades of the initial military intervention in Vietnam, the U.S. claims these troops will be “limited” to training efforts but the Pentagon acknowledged that military operations can be conducted with simple approval from the Secretary of Defense. This intensifying military build up in Africa will give the U.S. a ready and trained military force to dispatch anywhere throughout Africa as part of the endless U.S. imperialist “War of Terror.”
With the so-called “fiscal cliff” agreement kicking the can down the road on spending cuts for a couple of months, one thing is certain – the “Republicrats” are coming after Social Security benefits. President Obama has already embraced “chained Consumer Price Index (CPI)” which will reduce future cost of living adjustments to beneficiaries. Chained CPI sounds innocent enough. But, chained CPI calculates inflation lower than it actually is. According to the Senior Citizens League, institution of the “chained CPI” formula would cut benefits by an average of $150.00/month after 25 years of retirement or about 7% lower than it would be if the current CPI method is maintained.
Yet, as so-called “entitlements” are under such attack, tax subsidies consisting of various deductions, exemptions, exclusions, capital gains and various tax loopholes, that largely benefit the wealthiest tax payers and businesses are estimated to total $1.25 trillion a year. This could almost pay for the yearly costs of Social Security and Medicare.
Newly disclosed records reveal that the FBI used “counterterrorism” agents to monitor Occupy Wall Street protests, including investigating communications and activity planning. Information gathered on protesters engaging in their “Free Speech” rights was placed into data bases shared among Department of Homeland Security and a wide range of law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, the FBI routinely shared such information with various businesses associated with banking and finance — with finance capital and the police working together to target, arrest and violently disrupt peaceful Occupy protesters.
A study from non-partisan WealthInsight showed that the United States added 1.1 million millionaires between Jan 1, 2009 and the end of 2011. WealthInsight identified the Wall Street/Bank bailouts as a major contributing factor, pointing out that the finance sector accounts for the largest share of millionaires. This increase works out to more than 1,000 new millionaires a day under the first three years of the Obama administration – in the midst of a great depression for the 99%, with the working class suffering massive unemployment and underemployment, wage depression and further erosion of rights and benefits.
Walmart and other large U.S. retailers had a direct hand in the workplace deaths of 112 textile workers who perished in the Tarzeen factory blaze in Bangladesh. The factory had improper fire escapes, blocked fire exits, lack of firefighting equipment and overcrowding. Managers blocked the doors so workers could not leave after the fire broke out. Most of the products being made at the time of the fire were destined for Walmart shelves. Walmart places the blame on third party suppliers, but Walmart is directly profiting from super-exploited workers being paid $37.00/month slaving in sweatshop conditions with no basic workplace protections. With slave wages in their production chain and minimum low wages in the retail stores throughout the U.S., little wonder the six Walmart family billionaires net worth is greater than the combined net worth of the “bottom” 40% of the U.S. population!
A recent poll by the conservative Hoover Institute of Stanford University shows an increase in support for water-boarding and other types of torture that are illegal under international law and condemned by most governments and people of the world. Professor Amy Zegart, who oversaw the study, singled out television shows like “24” as having contributed to a notable shift in American public opinion toward the idea that brutal interrogations are necessary, stating “I think the evidence is that television is shifting views. Entertainment has an alarming impact.” The new Hollywood movie “Zero Dark Thirty” represents CIA torture in such a sympathetic and compelling way that even war hawk Senator John McCain has condemned the movie saying it “has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner.”
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“The great appear great to us
Only because we are on our knees:
Let us rise.”
— Camille Desmoulins