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Monday, July 31, 2017

Wall Street’s Dilemma: The Trump Family Empire versus the United States Empire by RAY LIGHT (FROM NEWSLETTER #103)

Wall Street’s Dilemma

The Trump Family Empire versus
the United States Empire

by RAY LIGHT

On the surface, it seems that the Trump Presidency will be a bonanza for the Wall Street finance capitalists that rule the USA. During the first five or six months of his term, the stock market has performed brilliantly for the top one-tenth of one percent. Moreover, Trump appears hell-bent on dismantling the U.S. public health care system (Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obama-Care” or “Romney-Care”),  with the projected loss of health care coverage for more than twenty million people providing billions of dollars in “savings” that can be turned over to the super rich among us in the form of “tax relief.” This is the old “Robin Hood in reverse” that rich people around the world are so fond of — stealing from the poor and giving to the rich.

Trump’s Budget Proposal offers virtually nothing positive for the rest of us in the USA — the hard pressed working class, the increasingly desperate middle class, heavily indebted students and professionals alike, the Afro-American people and other oppressed nationalities, including Latino and Muslim immigrant workers, experiencing intensified police repression, incarceration and social ostracism, and the severely underemployed and unemployed and obscenely underpaid youth. Under Trump’s plan, the social network, already wretchedly inadequate, is to be cut to the bone. Meanwhile, more billions of dollars than what the U.S. armed forces have asked for are being earmarked for a military-industrial complex that is already spending more money than the military forces of all the rest of the world combined. Clearly, the U.S. working class and more than 99% of us have good reason to be worried about where the Trump Regime, with all the Democratic and Republican “CongressBees” buzzing about, is taking us. And more of us need to become fighting mad and need to get serious about doing something about it.

***

But our Wall Street rulers are worried about Trump, too. In the 2016 Presidential election, the U.S. Empire’s candidate, Hillary Clinton, was supported by all the Democrats as well as those “independents” that the corrupted Sanders campaign could keep bound and tied to the Clinton/Wall Street/Corporate Democrats. Hillary Clinton also was supported by the mainstream (Wall Street) Republicans, from the last two Republican presidents, George H.W. and George W. Bush, to the 2008 and 2012 Republican candidates, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Romney, in particular, even stuck his political neck out to undercut and oppose Trump’s Republican presidential run.

Trump’s campaign featured a combination of populist, anti-Wall Street, anti-Goldman Sachs, anti-mainstream Republican and Democratic rhetoric combined with great nation chauvinism, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant nativism and white supremacy, a dangerous and demagogic combination reminiscent of Hitler’s platform on behalf of the fascist Nazi movement in 1930’s Germany. Trump’s anti-Wall Street campaign attracted a large number of disaffected white folks, including many white workers, some of whom had voted for Obama in the previous two elections and for Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary. Since Trump “won” the presidency in November under the anti-democratic election procedure  used in the United States of America (with the electoral college “vote”, Clinton’s three million vote plurality be damned), the Wall Street ruling class has seemingly made the best of an awkward situation.

Trump had campaigned against Goldman Sachs’ shameful influence on his main Republican contender, Ted Cruz, and exposed Goldman’s corruption of Hillary Clinton, his Democratic party rival for the presidency, through hundreds of thousands of Goldman Sachs dollars in “speaking fees.” Yet, from the very beginning, Trump put Goldman Sachs senior officials in charge of the Trump Regime’s financial and economic policies and practices. Many Trump voters should be surprised or even shocked by this. The list of Trump power appointees from Goldman Sachs includes: Steven Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury; Jim Donovan, as Mnuchin’s deputy Secretary; Gary Cohn, who left his position as number two at Goldman Sachs to become Trump’s top economic adviser and the face of the Trump Regime’s efforts to deregulate the financial industry on behalf of Wall Street. Trump has even placed Jay Clayton, the high powered attorney who represented Goldman Sachs in its government bailout (and whose wife works for the company), as the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) “responsible for rooting out financial crime,” to cover their tracks. Beyond the strictly economic arena, Trump has already shifted and promoted former Goldman Sachs partner, Dina Powell, to deputy national security adviser for strategy.*

*And even Trump’s apparent “chief strategist,” Steve Bannon, the chauvinist in chief, had worked at Goldman Sachs in the 1980’s, though he now stands as a Wall Street “critic.”

Again, on the surface, all looks rosy for Goldman Sachs and Wall Street. But is it?

***

Kellyanne Conway and the
Office of Government Ethics

On Thursday, July 6, Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), announced his resignation effective July 19. Having joined the office during the George W. Bush Administration, Shaub was appointed by President Obama to head the department in 2013. Leaving six months prior to the end of his term, Shaub made clear in his announcement that he believes there needs to be stronger enforcement of ethics rules by the Trump Regime, meaning the Trump Regime has been thoroughly unethical. In reality, Shaub’s role as Ethics Watchdog has brought him into sharp confrontation with Trump from the very beginning of Trump’s presidency.

In early February, just a few weeks after his inauguration, President Trump had tweeted a vicious attack on Nordstrom, the huge West Coast department store chain. Trump was incensed because Nordstrom, apparently in a private corporate business decision, had dropped his daughter Ivanka’s clothing line. Following Trump’s lead, however, Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, appeared on “Fox & Friends,” a major TV show on February 9, 2017, and made a direct plea to Fox viewers to go out and purchase Ivanka Trump’s clothing line. In the TV interview, Counselor Conway was clearly speaking from the White House briefing room and had the White House emblem behind her.

OGE chief Shaub wrote to White House Deputy Counsel Stefan Passantino, calling on the White House to “launch an investigation of Conway’s conduct and “consider taking disciplinary action against her.” According to Shaub, the facts seemed “to establish a clear violation of the prohibition against misuse of position.” Indeed, the top Democrat and Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee had immediately written to Shaub urging him to review Conway’s actions. While no discipline has been meted out to Conway from the Trump White House, it is significant that Utah Republican Congressman Jacob Chaffetz, the chairman of that House Committee suddenly announced his resignation from Congress and now OGE chief Shaub is leaving his post as well.

Can the corporate and finance capitalists associated with Nordstrom expect fair treatment from the Trump Regime in the future? What about all the other monopoly capitalist and imperialist financial targets, the current and future prey of the Trump Family Empire?!

The Atlantic Magazine Takes on
Trump’s Drive for Dictatorship

The cover story of the March issue of The Atlantic magazine was entitled, “How to build an Autocracy.” Written by senior editor David Frum, a former speech writer for Republican President George W. Bush, it would have been “indelicate” and more dangerous for Frum and the Atlantic had he used the words, “one-man dictatorship” but look up “autocracy” in your dictionary. To Frum’s credit, the article puts forth the view that, if he’s not actively resisted, Trump will lead the country to autocracy. A companion piece by Atlantic contributing editor Jonathan Rauch is entitled “Containing Trump.” Clearly, Wall Street capitalists associated with the Atlantic already recognized the danger to their system that Trump represents.

Among Frum’s observations: “If citizens learn that success in business or in public service depends on the favor of the president and his ruling clique, then it’s not only American politics that will change. The economy will be corrupted to, and with it the larger culture. A culture that has accepted graft is the norm, that rules don’t matter as much as relationships with those in power, and that people can be punished for speech and acts that remain theoretically legal — such a culture is not easily reoriented back to constitutionalism, freedom and public integrity.”

At the time Frum wrote this piece, he assessed that, “His [Trump’s] immediate priority seems likely to be to use the presidency to enrich himself. But as he does so, he will need to protect himself from legal risk.” This will lead Trump to “construction of an apparatus of impunity and revenge ... an authoritarian state.” As a spokesman for the U.S. ruling class, Frum concluded: “We are living through the most dangerous challenge to the free government of the United States that anyone alive has encountered. What happens next is up to you and me.”

In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR) a few weeks ago, Frum was even more decisive. He said that Trump’s aim as President is to use the office to become the richest person on earth. No wonder Wall Street is worried. For Wall Street needs a President whose first priority is to defend the U.S. Empire, not his own!

Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and the Unrestrained Pursuit of Individual Wealth

At the end of June 2017, one week prior to OGE Chief Shaub’s resignation announcement, former 2016 Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort very belatedly registered as a foreign agent for a pro-Russian group in Ukraine. Manafort disclosed that his firm, DMP International, had been paid slightly more than $17 million over two years beginning in 2012.  Manafort was ousted as Trump’s campaign chairman in August 2016 following the Republican National Convention amid questions about his well paid work in the Ukraine. According to USA TODAY, “The law requires that citizens must be registered within ten days of agreeing to become agents and before performing any activities for the foreign client.” Thus, by his own admission, prior to his time as Trump’s campaign chairman, Manafort had been an agent for a foreign government to the tune of $17 million dollars worth, and had functioned illegally in blatant violation of that law.*

*General Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, responsible to provide the President with daily briefings on the world situation, had been dismissed by Trump after he had blatantly lied to the Senate committee vetting him for his key presidential appointment about meetings he held with top Russian government officials during Trump’s election campaign. After he was terminated, General Flynn, too, belatedly, and in violation of the law, registered as a paid agent for a private company that was doing work, in his case, for the Turkish government.

How had Manafort become the Trump Campaign’s chairman in the first place? Roger Stone, his former partner in the infamous lobbying firm, Black, Manafort, Stone and Atwater, had recommended him to Donald Trump. Stone more than anyone else had encouraged Trump on several occasions over the past few decades to make a run for President. Most likely, on those other occasions, Trump and Stone used the political leverage from threatening to run or from making a pass at it, to obtain a “sweet deal,” a quid pro quo, for Trump’s business empire and for Stone’s aristocratic life style. It’s likely that Trump’s initial foray into the 2016 race was motivated by more of the same greed. But 2016 was a presidential race where the voters were fed up with the mainstream Democratic and Republican politicians, the “Republicrats.” So Trump’s candidacy (as well as Bernie Sanders’ campaign) immediately resonated with the primary voters. Trump stayed in the race, got stronger and won. But Trump’s original motivation of individual greed never wavered.

Individual greed is the prime motivation of Manafort and Stone as well. In the new Netflix movie starring Stone as himself (“Get Me Roger Stone”), journalist Jane Mayer observes: “Lobbying had been considered kind of a sleazy business, but Roger Stone unabashedly came out and said, ‘I’m going to make a pile of money off of this and no apologies.’”

In a 1985 profile of Stone in the  New Republic (“The State-of-the-Art Washington Sleazeball”), Jacob Weisberg linked Stone to key Reagan aides, Lyn Nofziger, Michael Deaver, Lee Atwater and Ed Rollins who “have abandoned helping Reagan make conservative ideas reality in order to sell their connections to the highest bidders — whether in service to these ideals or not.” Stone worked on both victorious Reagan campaigns but did not go into the Reagan administration. Instead  he started a political consulting and lobbying firm with several co-workers from the campaign, mining their connections with those who did go into Reagan’s regime. That firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Atwater (later Kelly) was one of several companies that together earned the nickname “the torturers’ lobby,” for representing countries condemned as human-rights abusers. These included, for example, dictators Mobutu of Zaire and Marcos of the Philippines. Basically, with valuable access to the Reagan Regime, these lobbying firms were paid a portion of the funds those blood-stained governments received from our taxes.

When George W. Bush became U.S. president, I thought that the U.S. Empire in decline was getting “blowback” from all the decades of sponsoring so-called banana republics and their dictators. Bush was so much less formidable, more ignorant and less competent as helmsman for the brutal U.S. Empire than either Bill Clinton or Barack Obama who preceded and followed him. His tenure made the Empire more fragile and vulnerable to conquest and defeat — a good thing for the international working class and the oppressed peoples of the world.

In his serious and comprehensive warning about the coming Trump autocracy, the Atlantic’s David Frum observed, “If this were happening in Honduras, we’d know what to call it. It’s happening here instead, and so we are baffled.” The Trump Regime is led by a man with the character of a two-bit dictator in a banana republic. And competent U.S. ruling class strategists like Frum know that U.S. monopoly capitalism and imperialism, the U.S. Empire, has plenty to be worried about.

Rex Tillerson, Wilbur Ross and the
Russian Connection


I paid serious attention to Trump’s effort to humble and humiliate Mitt Romney, Wall Street’s man; to get Romney to “jump through hoops” as he ardently pursued Trump’s nomination for Secretary of State. No doubt, Wall Street wanted Romney in this position leading the Trump Regime’s foreign policy establishment in defense of U.S. Empire. And, Trump clearly wanted Wall Street to think that their man had a chance. But I clearly saw that he did not. Romney, who had stood against Trump’s presidential run more strongly and openly than any other Republican bigwig was the last person Trump would put in charge of negotiations with all the other countries of the world. There were too many business deals out there ripe for Trump Inc.’s taking.

***

What I had not considered very much, however, was the Democratic Party allegation that the Russian government had actively attempted to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, possibly including involvement with Wikileaks’ distribution of information damaging to Clinton and Wall Street.

What I was concerned about then was how Wall Street imperialism was rallying around its candidate, Hillary Clinton, to stem the tide of the rising democratic wave. And how the tiny U.S. proletarian vanguard and other forces could help keep the mass momentum alive. Of even greater concern was the anti-Russia hysteria in the United States fomented by Clinton and the Wall Street Democrats which seemed, on the eve of an expected Clinton election victory, to be driving the USA toward a major war against Russia.

Besides, the U.S. Empire routinely interferes indirectly and directly in the political life of all the countries and peoples of the earth.* Lobbyists not very different from Stone and Manafort had interfered in Russian elections, especially since the formal elimination of the Soviet Union in 1991. At one point such U.S. “lobbyists” led the corrupt, incompetent and often inebriated Boris Yeltsin’s re-election campaign, helping him retain his power and keep out of top office Gennady Zyuganov, the head of the (revisionist) Communist Party of the Russian Federation, who had been the front-runner.

*For example, do you remember when Obama, the Democrat, announced to the world that he was ordering Libya’s Moamar Kadafi to get out of Libya? The Libyan people and peoples throughout Northern Africa have still not recovered from the U.S.-led devastation that followed.

If the USA had some substantial democratic political features, the Wikileaks material issued on the eve of the Democratic National Convention most likely would have toppled the Clinton candidacy and led to a strong Sanders run for President with its positive domestic platform somewhat at least on behalf of the 99% of us in the USA (though always coupled with his reactionary pro-U.S. Imperialist, pro-Empire international policy). For Wikileaks exposed the truth about how the Democratic National Committee (DNC) under Debbie Wasserman-Schultz had rigged the Democratic Primary season in favor of Hillary Clinton and against the popular, social-democratic candidacy of Bernie Sanders. The revelation carried enough clout that Wasserman-Schultz had to immediately resign as DNC chair and remove herself from her planned leadership role in the Convention.

A Sanders win against Trump, a distinct possibility in the anti-Wall Street, anti-mainstream  Democratic and Republican Party sentiment at the time, would have been extremely costly for Wall Street in terms of social spending, health care, college tuition and loan forgiveness, etc. as well as an encouragement of at least social democratic politics among the U.S. population, a big stride forward in terms of class consciousness that would have ultimately led to higher wages. But the Democratic Party, as the primary political gatekeeper for U.S. imperialism and with Sanders’ collaboration, was able to hold off any democratic upsurge sparked by Wikileaks’ revelations.

***

Then, Trump nominated Rex Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon-Mobil, the world’s largest oil company, to be the U.S. Secretary of State. Tillerson had no “foreign policy” experience. Remarkably, Exxon (and Exxon-Mobil) is the only company Tillerson has ever worked for! And the one foreign country in which he has had extensive experience working on behalf of Exxon-Mobil has been  Russia. In fact, in 2012, Tillerson received the “Order of Friendship,” a high honor, from Vladimir Putin. I immediately understood the tremendous motivation for the Russian government to try to influence the election of Trump over Clinton. For Clinton, as Secretary of State and beyond, has been a cold war anti-Russian war hawk who, along with Obama, has supported Ukrainian fascist political forces in bolstering the pro-Western Ukrainian government. The US has military bases surrounding Russia. Despite the promises of Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush to the Russian government, NATO has recruited former Soviet bloc countries and is increasingly squeezing Russia. Clearly, the Russian moves into Crimea and other parts of Ukraine have been defensive, especially in comparison to aggressive U.S./NATO military forces.

Beyond the geopolitical and military strategic considerations, the election of Trump and emergence of Exxon-Mobil’s Tillerson as his Secretary of State have given the Russian government the best chance of eliminating the U.S. sanctions dealing with Russian oil revenues, sanctions that have restricted the economic and political power of Putin and Russia both internally and in relation to Europe and the world. Elimination of sanctions would be a tremendous win-win also for Exxon-Mobil, Tillerson and Trump.

Only by keeping alive the charges of Putin/Russia meddling in the 2016 U.S. election in favor of Trump, have the anti-Russia forces on Wall Street been able to keep the sanctions against Russia in place. Initially, placed there because of Russia’s activity in Crimea and Ukraine, the new justification is “Russia’s meddling” in the US election. Of course, if anyone stops to think about it, the Democratic National Committee, as exposed by Wikileaks, did far more to sabotage the U.S. Presidential election than the Russian government could have done.

In fact, two major articles in the July 5th Wall Street Journal, tell us what we need to know about Secretary of State Tillerson and President Trump. One article cites Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham reporting from Afghanistan, criticizing Tillerson for a lack of strategy in the face of the anticipated U.S. troop surge there and for having the foreign service there “woefully understaffed.” The article also refers to President Trump’s decision to give the Pentagon “unilateral authority to send thousands more American troops to Afghanistan at its discretion ...” It is that delegated authority that leads McCain and Graham to expect the military surge soon. It is clear that Trump is giving the U.S. military elites exceptional autonomy to go along with the $54 billion extra for the Pentagon he proposed in his budget. As with Goldman Sachs and Wall Street on broad questions of economic and finance policies, Trump wants to appease or placate the U.S. military as well. Nevertheless, beyond their personal goals for maximum private profit, neither Trump nor Tillerson is really interested in public policy as it effects the USA and the world. Sure, Trump and Tillerson would rather win the war in Afghanistan than lose it. But they do not occupy themselves with such matters. As the Pentagon is weighing plans to send between three thousand and five thousand U.S. troops to add to the current nine thousand in Afghanistan, after sixteen years in the longest war in U.S. history, McCain and Graham are right to be worried about the attention span of Tillerson and Trump.

In the same day’s WSJ, an article entitled’ “Oil Giants Push Back on Russian Measure,” opens with the following: “Exxon Mobil Corp. and other energy companies joined President Donald Trump in expressing concerns over a bill to toughen sanctions on Russia, arguing that it could shut down oil and gas projects around the world that involve Russian partners.” “Both Tillerson and Trump have been trying to find a way to eliminate the sanctions entirely. Both are really worried now about the prospects for the passage of a bill in Congress to make the sanctions on Russia tougher.”  The article’s authors, Olson and Nicholas, point out, “the lobbying by Exxon and other big oil companies is part of a push to preserve potential business relationships with Russia even as U.S. ties with the Kremlin sink to new lows.” They continue, “ The pushback from energy companies such as Exxon and Chevron Corp ... threatens to complicate House passage of the legislation, aimed partly at punishing Russia ... Exxon’s advocacy also presents a potential political problem for the Trump administration, which has been trying to avoid conflict-of-interest questions involving Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the oil giant’s former chief executive ... “Mr. Tillerson, who has promised to recuse himself from matters involving Exxon, hasn’t explicitly spoken out against the sanctions bill but last month urged Congress not to take any actions that tie the administration’s hands.” In other words, “the White House hasn’t ruled out a presidential veto of the sanctions measure, which includes a provision that would make it more difficult for the president to relax existing sanctions against the Kremlin, saying that it could erode Mr. Trump’s ability to conduct diplomacy.”

All this convoluted talk is thinly disguised tiptoeing around the real pushback by the “oil giants” and the Trump Regime. Unlike the question of war and peace in Afghanistan, Trump and Tillerson really care about this issue. Their private personal stakes have to be enormous. And that’s why they care.

***

Turning to finance, while Goldman Sachs has been appeased or assuaged by the multiple power appointments the firm has received from President Trump, for the critical position of Secretary of Commerce, dealing with trade and the business of business, Trump selected Wilbur Ross, a billionaire Wall Street “vulture investor” who offshored textile jobs to China and Mexico. It seems clear, however, that Trump tapped Ross because he has direct ties to several leading Russian oligarchs. A central question involves Ross’s role as Vice Chairman of the Bank of Cyprus. The largest bank in Cyprus, it is one of the key offshore havens for illicit Russian finance. Evidently his fellow bank co-chair was appointed by Vladimir Putin. The Ross appointment, like that of Secretary of State Tillerson, points to a level of cooperation with the Putin-led Russian government that shouts of a coordinated effort, to the benefit of the Trump Empire and the detriment of the U.S. Empire.

Clearly, Tillerson and Ross with their heavy Russian connections, are part of the Trump Empire’s “A Team.” The main concern of neither man is defending the U.S. Empire.

***

Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump
and the China Connection


The other two members of Trump’s A Team outrank Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Commerce Ross. They are Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. Like his father-in-law, President Trump, young Kushner is a Manhattan real estate mogul. He took over his father’s business when Charles Kushner was sent to prison for serious white collar crimes. (Chris Christie was the federal prosecutor who sent the elder Kushner to prison, a fact that will no doubt limit Christie’s role in the Trump Regime.) While Tillerson and Ross have heavy Russian connections, Jared Kushner’s biggest international business deals seem to be connected to China. And Ivanka Trump’s clothing line apparently is produced in large part by Chinese workers in China under oppressive conditions.

On the same day as the OGE chief’s resignation announcement, a complaint was filed with OGE by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington alleging that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and “chief adviser on everything,” had failed to disclose his ownership of a significant part of Cadre, a technology company that he co-founded. This resulted in his certificate being granted with incomplete information. Moreover, when Kushner requested his certificate of divestiture he also failed to disclose his ownership interest in the company, a status which would apparently compel him to sell his interests in Cadre immediately. Is this latter point the reason that Kushner suppressed such obviously important information? This is just the most recent “impropriety” clinging to Trump’s “A Team.”

Despite the fact that Kushner and his wife are the two most senior people in Trump’s executive branch hierarchy, neither was thoroughly vetted by the Senators that questioned Trump’s cabinet appointees. Initially, daughter Ivanka Trump tried to work daily in her own designated office in the White House, close to the Oval Office, without affirming and signing the conflict of interest paperwork necessary to qualify as an assistant to the President. Later, under pressure, she relented and now functions openly as one of President Trump’s primary aides, easily outranking his vetted Cabinet members. The other day, at the G20 Summit, President Trump had Ivanka sit in his place on several occasions during the meeting with the other heads of state. All this certainly gives Ivanka the clout to make global business deals on behalf of her own companies, as well as on behalf of the Trump Empire, in addition to representing her father, U.S. President Trump!

In the past few months, three Chinese labor activists, having taken jobs as factory workers in two large Huajian International shoe factories in Southern China making Ivanka Trump’s shoe line, have been arrested and detained by the Chinese authorities. According to China Labor Watch(CLW), for whom the activists undertook their Huajian International employment, CLW has done hundreds of undercover inspections of labor practices in supply chains of multinational companies, including Samsung and Apple. But this is the first case in which the Chinese authorities have detained the group’s activists and pushed them into the country’s criminal justice system. All three have now been released on bail but only one, Hua Haifeng, has been willing to make a public statement since. Hua said that he decided during his four-week detention that he would speak to the news media because the public has the right to know about the excessive work hours and other unfair or illegal practices at Huajian. It is noteworthy that the Chinese regime resorted to unusual methods to try to silence these activists, at least partly to cover up the regime’s collaboration at the corporate level with Ivanka Trump.

In May, Kushner Cos. conducted a China marketing push, led by Kushner’s sister. They were seeking three hundred Chinese people who have the money and the desire to pay one-half million dollars apiece to invest in twin 66-story commercial and residential towers in New Jersey. With that investment each individual could be eligible for a green card under a U.S. investment-for-immigration program called EB-5. According to the Wall Street Journal (5-8-17), “It is the latest sign the Kushner family is looking to China for funding to support its U.S. property development.” In March, Anbang Insurance Group, “a big Chinese insurer with strong political and family connections to the government in Beijing” broke off advanced talks with Kushner Cos. about providing as much as half of the $2.5 billion in equity for a planned $7.5 billion dollar redevelopment project after negotiations became public. With Jared Kushner’s senior role in President Trump’s foreign policy pursuits, there was widespread concern that Kushner “might be overly influenced by Anbang if the company helps his family turn a so-so deal into a bonanza.” (WSJ, 3-22-17)

The fact that the Kushner Cos./Anbang discussions had gone so far and might well have been consummated is fascinating, especially in light of the fact that the son-in-law of the current U.S. President has been a major figure with Kushner Cos. while the top official of Anbang is the husband of Teng Hsiao-ping’s grand-daughter! (Teng was the principal Chinese Communist Party leader who led China down the capitalist path.) Again, unlike Tillerson and Ross, the main international business deals of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner seem to be focused in China.

***

President Trump and His Sons:
The Rest of the Trump Empire’s A Team


Finally, President Trump himself has refused to show his tax returns or to divest any of his vast holdings. He has made it clear that he will refuse to cooperate with the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and will fight to maintain as much control of his private Empire as possible. The other members of the Trump Family Empire’s A Team are Trump’s two grown sons who are currently in direct charge of the Trump Empire’s business affairs — a situation that Ethics personnel have consistently stated is grossly inadequate to deal with President Trump’s potential for conflict of interest. Trump’s autocratic ways challenge anyone to try to restrict his autonomy in pursuit of his objective to become the richest person on earth.

***

CONCLUSION:

Point #1: Most significant for this article is the fact that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Trump’s top aides, are trying to maintain and increase big deals with the Chinese government, while Tillerson and Ross are clearly working to do the same with the Russian government. This means that the most important feature of Russian involvement with the Trump election is about Trump’s attempt to make lucrative business deals advantageous to the Trump Empire. Whether such deals are good for the Russians or for the U.S. Empire is of little or no importance to the Trump Family Dynasty.

Point #2: On the day before the G20 Summit opened, President Trump made a “major speech” calling for defense of historic western values. It was just verbiage to make it seem that Trump cares about defending the U.S. Empire.

Point #3: On the same day the Japanese government and the German-led EU signed an important treaty of cooperation. Essentially, Trump’s approach to treaties, and specifically his abrogation of the TransPacific Partnership paved the way for the Japan-EU treaty. And he is not much concerned since it doesn’t impact his personal fortune.

Point #4: Politics and Economics are dialectically interconnected, despite the constant effort of bourgeois pundits and experts to bury this fact and  pretend that “never the twain shall meet.” Donald Trump never has been and is not now a public servant. He is serving as U.S. President in order to use the political power at his disposal to enrich himself and his personal Empire. His goal is not to defend western or white or Anglo-Saxon culture. His goal is to be the richest man or to have the wealthiest empire in the world. That is the limit of his concerns.

Point #5: The international working class and the oppressed peoples need to understand the weaknesses and the strengths of our adversaries so that we can overcome them and win proletarian power and justice for the 99% of us. Hillary Clinton was the champion of the Wall Street ruling class in the 2016 election. She was a ruthless defender of the bloody U.S. Empire. The contradiction between the Trump Empire and the U.S. Empire is a real source of weakness for imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism, still the main enemy of the international working class and all humanity. Workers of the world and oppressed peoples, unite!
 
 
___________________________________________________________________________
 

POSTSCRIPT: STALIN AS THE ANTI-AUTOCRAT, THE ANTI-TRUMP — Beautifully expressed in Pablo Neruda’s wondrous poem (From NEWSLETTER #103)

POSTSCRIPT:

STALIN AS THE ANTI-AUTOCRAT,
THE ANTI-TRUMP —
Beautifully expressed in Pablo Neruda’s wondrous poem
Introduction: Pablo Neruda was the most famous and beloved Latin American poet of his time. This great communist poet from Chile also served in the Chilean Senate, representing the railroad workers from whose ranks he came. His magnificent and lengthy poem, entitled “Let the Railsplitter Awake”, refers to Abraham Lincoln, arguably the only U.S. President who ever held a working class job. As a “railsplitter” Lincoln had helped build the railroads that spread across the USA. Neruda uses Abe Lincoln as a symbol of the best democratic traditions in the USA. Neruda tries to explain to the returning white and Afro-American servicemen who had fought in the U.S. military against fascism in Europe and Asia what was happening in the world in the post World War II period as the Truman Regime was shifting from the Soviet side to the fascist side upon the death of Roosevelt. Neruda was trying to convince this U.S. pool of anti-fascist fighters to continue to fight on the side of justice and democracy.

The following excerpt deals with Stalin and the high government and military officials of the Soviet Union who had just led their people and the world’s peoples in the global victory over fascism. In writing the piece above on Trump’s drive toward autocracy in the USA in 2017, I constantly thought back to Neruda’s description of Stalin, in particular, who helped rid the world of the Russian Tsarist Autocracy one hundred years ago in 1917 and then led the world in getting rid of the fascist autocracies in the 1940’s. Moreover, during the almost forty years that he led the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) Stalin never accumulated any personal wealth and left nothing to his own children except a marvelous legacy of public service to the world’s peoples, and especially the Soviet and international working class. As Pablo Neruda’s beautiful poem shares with us, Stalin was the anti-autocrat, the anti-Trump.



Within three rooms of the ancient Kremlin
lives a man named Joseph Stalin.
The light goes out late in his room.
The world and his country give him no rest.
Other heroes have brought a country into being; beyond this, he helped to conceive his
and construct it
and defend it.
His immense land, therefore, is part of himself
and he cannot rest because she does not.
In other times snow and gunpowder
found him facing the old bandits
who wished (as again now) to revive
the knout and misery, the anguish of serfs,
the dormant pain of millions of poor.
He was against the Wrangels and Denikins
sent by the West to “defend culture.”
They were stripped of their hides there, those
defenders of the hangmen, and throughout the wide
lands of the U.S.S.R. Stalin worked day and night
But later in a leaden wave came
the Germans fattened up by Chamberlain.
Stalin confronted them at all the vast frontiers,
in all their retreats, in all their advances,
and as far as Berlin, like a hurricane of people
his sons arrived, bringing the broad peace of Russia.

Molotov and Voroshilov are there,
I see them with the others, the high generals,
the indomitable ones.
Firm as snow-covered oak-groves.
None of them has palaces.
None of them has regiments of slaves.
None of them was made wealthy by the war,
by selling blood.
None of them like a peacock
travels to Rio de Janeiro or Bogota
to command petty satraps, blood-stained torturers.
None of them has two hundred suits,
none of them owns shares in armament factories,
and all of them own shares
in the joy and construction
of that immense country where dawn resounds
arising from the night of death.

They said “comrade” to the world.
They made the carpenter king.
No camel shall pass through this needle’s eye.
They cleansed the villages.
Divided the land.
Elevated the serf.
Eliminated the beggar.
Annihilated the cruel.
Brought light into the deep night.


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FIRST APPEARED IN ROL, USA NEWSLETTER #103

The California Independence Movement Steps Forward by CINDY SHEEHAN (FROM NEWSLETTER #103)

The California Independence Movement Steps Forward

by CINDY SHEEHAN




Since my son Casey was killed in Iraq on 04/04/04, I have consistently taken steps to remove myself from the government of the USA: I stopped paying income taxes (how can I fund more murder after I essentially funded the murder of my own son?); I sold my car; dumped my house; and vocally oppose just about everything America does. Unfortunately, I still have a US passport and I feel like, not only do I want to live in California, my surviving children (5th generation Californians) and my five grandchildren (6th generation Californians) live here, so I feel I need to live here.

Also, why should I be forced to “love it (the US) or leave it?” Mostly, almost all the people who can afford to be so mobile and move around the world are the people who create untenable living conditions for the rest of us.

Having written the above, you can imagine that I was extremely excited when I saw that there was a renewed interest in California Independence! I quickly contacted leadership of the movement and became involved myself and am now on the board of the California Freedom Coalition.

On May 19, 2017 about two-dozen of us joyfully, yet with a sense of gravitas, filed paperwork in Sacramento at the office of the Attorney General to put California Independence in front of Californians in the form of a ballot initiative. Currently, we are awaiting approval from the AG of California to begin collecting signatures.

As with the first American Revolution in 1776 (an effort which few colonists supported, at first, so the “Patriots” also had to wage a battle to win the “fence-sitters” over), it has become “self-evident” to some of us here in California that the US government (USG), way across the country in Washington, DC does not represent us, or our values, in anywhere near a competent, or even, humane way. We feel like we are treated as vassals to unrestrained capitalism and war.

Even California’s federal contingent that are sent to DC by the people of the state are a club of millionaires who have lost touch with California and the average Californian. How else are reps like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Nancy Pelosi (D) able to constantly vote for wars, war funding, and work diligently to protect the out of control US regime and corporate interests?

While California is one of the leading economies in the world, there is still an appalling unemployment and homeless problem. Following the trajectory of the US, California’s good, manufacturing jobs have fled for greener pastures and what’s left for us: service jobs or the military. Californians send billions to the USG to support US military adventurism, and while we mostly don’t support the wars, our young people and families pay the highest and irredeemable prices in war deaths, injuries, and the deepest cut: suicide.

If left in the Republic of California, what we here in the state could do with our human, natural, and financial resources, is almost limitless.

I grew up in a California that took education and enrichment of its young people seriously! Compared to when my own children started public school in California and everything extra was fee-based, the teaching of the “three r’s” was exemplary, and the subjects that make a student well-rounded like music, theater, art, summer school, field trips, and driver’s ed were free and accessible to everyone.

Also, quite extra-ordinarily, state colleges and universities were tuition-free up until the Ronnie Raygun era. Our energy is extremely left-wing and, regarding education, we only want what we had before: fully-funded and quality public school education.

Similarly, the potential of a free California to lead the world in peace, education (the wealthy state of California consistently rates in the bottom 10% in education in the US), meaningful and full-employment with good wages and benefits, sustainable energy production, clean agriculture, clean water, clean air, etc.


We, the patriots and matriots of Californian Independence not only want a healthier country to live in, we also feel that if California does become independent from the bloody US Empire, it would ultimately deal a death blow to that Empire. Without California, the US will have to scale back its sick habit of regime change/carnage around the world, or perish. I would rather have the US voluntarily follow California on a much more peaceful and sensible path for humanity, but if it perishes, that is fine, too. Anything to stop the Empire’s reign of terror around the world.

This is in no way a rightwing “Free State of Jefferson” movement (CalSplit vs. CalExit) that seeks to add another state to a nation that has, beyond a shadow of any doubt, demonstrated its psychopathic tendencies. We don’t advocate for an independent California to further separate the rich and the poor, but to retain the beautiful diverse nature of our state; and to elevate everyone in equality and prosperity (some people will have to de-elevate, but, that’s only a matter of time, too).

We in the movement also recognize that under a complete Democratic majority since Jerry Brown was re-elected as Governor in 2010, that few things have improved for we the people. Brown and the other Democrats seem to be in the back pockets of big oil, big pharma, private prisons, charter schools, and war profiteers. The Democrat majority in Sacramento (every state office and majorities in both the Senate and legislature) allows the US Empire to maintain at least 50 military installations in California and California leads the nation in the export of death and destruction in the form of aerospace and defense industries. A free California could lead the world in re-tooling industries to (for example) create and maintain sustainable, clean forms of energy production and other healthy endeavors.

Consequently, this is also not a “liberal” initiative that only wants to skedaddle because Trump is the current CEO of Murder, Inc; only to return to again beg for scraps from our “master’s” table when a Democrat once again assumes that position. This is a bi-partisan effort that strives to leave the divisions of the US behind and join together as Californians of all demographics to put the power and future of California where it rightfully belongs: in our hands and in our communities.

To succeed, this effort must be diverse, wide-reaching, inclusive and we must be able to unite all workers against two common enemies: capitalism and it’s decaying, end-state, Imperialism, which are embodied in the United States of America.

I was honored to be asked to sign the “California Declaration of Independence,” and the significance of this was not lost on any of us.

We are working hard for success and we all know that it will happen and it will be good for everyone (except the 1%, at first), but we wondered how did the signers of the Declaration of Independence feel on the sweltering day (it was also hot in Sacramento on 19 May) of 4 July, 1776? I am sure, like we, they were optimistic, excited, and a little fearful of what terror would be unleashed by the major Empire of that day.

Nothing can be achieved without people willing to take the risks of ridicule, demonization, marginalization, or worse. We won’t become free until we demand freedom. As the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass stated in 1857, “power concedes nothing without a demand.”

As we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, we must emulate the courage of the leaders and workers of that righteous struggle. Some things are worth fighting for and the very future of sustainable life on this planet is the very thing we believe this initiative will foster. 
 
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FIRST APPEARED IN ROL, USA NEWSLETTER #103

Commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution: The October Revolution and the National Question by RAY LIGHT (from newsletter #103)

 By the middle of 1918, within months of the victorious October Socialist Revolution, a bloody foreign military intervention and civil war was launched by the old Tsarist White Guard armed forces in alliance with the military forces of a dozen imperialist and other foreign countries, led by the Entente powers of Britain, France, Japan and the USA. Tsarist Russia had been infamous for being the “Prison House of Nations.” And, much of this bloody war took place in the territories of the formerly oppressed peoples in the vast territory in Russia’s border areas.

In his immortal work, Foundations of Leninism, Stalin forthrightly stated: “The [October] revolution would not have been victorious in Russia, and Kolchak and Denikin [White Guard admiral and general respectively] would not have been crushed, had not the Russian proletariat enjoyed the sympathy and support of the oppressed peoples of the former Russian Empire. But to win the sympathy and support of these peoples it [the October Revolution] had first of all to break the fetters of Russian imperialism and free these peoples from the yoke of national oppression.” As Stalin indicates, one characteristic feature of the successful October Revolution was that the proletariat of the oppressing country, Russia, led by the Bolshevik Communist Party, carried the emancipation of the toiling masses of the population both inside Russia and in the oppressed nations on the territory of the former Tsarist Empire on their revolutionary working class shoulders.

How was this accomplished?

Most dramatically, eight days after the victory of Red October, the new Soviet government led by the Russian working class, issued an edict (signed by Lenin as Chairman of the Council of Peoples’ Commissars, the head of the government, and Stalin as the Commissar of Nationalities) entitled “Declaration of Rights of the Peoples of Russia.” The law provided every nation formerly oppressed by Tsarist Russia the right to self-determination up to and including the right to a separate and independent existence as a state.

Unlike the proletariat of other “ruling nations,” whose vanguard parties failed to carry out “a stubborn, continuous and determined struggle against the dominant-nation chauvinism of the “socialists” of the ruling nations (Britain, France, America, Italy, Japan, etc.) who do not want to fight their imperialist governments, who do not want to support the struggle of the oppressed peoples of ‘their’ colonies for emancipation from oppression, for secession,” the Russian proletariat had been educated by the Bolshevik Party. The Russian working class was trained “in the spirit of true internationalism, in the spirit of closer relations with the toiling masses of the dependent countries and colonies, in the spirit of real preparation for the proletarian revolution.”  It was such an internationalist working class that could produce the “Declaration of Rights of the Peoples of Russia” and stand strongly behind its implementation.

Stalin continued: “Without this it would have been impossible to consolidate Soviet power, to implant real internationalism and to create that remarkable organization for the collaboration of peoples which is called the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and which is the living prototype of the future union of peoples in a single world economic system.” (p. 81, “The National Question,” Chapter VI, Foundations of Leninism)*

*Stalin’s tremendous confidence in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) (cited here from 1924) proved well founded as even U.S. bourgeois experts grudgingly came to admit over the next several decades that, “... the USSR within the framework of the over-all Soviet system seemed to have found a constructive solution to its nationalities question, and is the best example afforded by the twentieth century of a multinational state.” (A History of the Modern World, R.R. Palmer, Second Edition, 1956, p. 732)

But Leninism also teaches that, “The victory of the working class in the developed countries and the liberation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism are impossible without the formation and consolidation of a common revolutionary front.” (Stalin, p. 79) “Hence, the necessity of fighting against the national isolationism, narrow-mindedness and aloofness of the Socialists in the oppressed countries, who do not want to rise above their national parochialism and who do not understand the connection between the liberation movement in their own countries and the proletarian movement in the ruling countries. Without such a struggle it is inconceivable that the proletariat of the oppressed nations can maintain an independent policy and its class solidarity with the proletariat of the ruling countries in the fight for the overthrow of imperialism.” (ibid, p. 82, my emphasis)

The Foreign Intervention and Civil War resulted in total victory for the Soviet Republic and the Bolshevik-led Soviet Red Army created in the crucible of this war. One favorable result of this war in which the Bolsheviks rallied the workers and peasants on the basis of a war for the fatherland against the foreign invaders and the bourgeois and landlord Whiteguards, is that the opportunist parties smashed by the revolution, the Socialist-Revolutionaries, Mensheviks, Anarchists, and nationalists had supported the Whiteguard generals and the invaders, fomented anti-Soviet plots against the Soviet Republic and resorted to terrorism against Soviet leaders. Whatever support they had retained prior to this war, now they all suffered total political collapse. This was also a Leninist implementation of the national question in the proletarian revolution.

***

To help explain the Leninist position on the national question, Comrade Stalin discussed “the two tendencies in the national question: the tendency towards political emancipation from the shackles of imperialism and towards the formation of an independent state — a tendency which arose as a consequence of imperialist oppression and colonial exploitation; and the tendency towards closer economic relations among nations, which arose as a result of the formation of the world market and a world economic system. (page 80, my emphasis)

He points out that “for imperialism these two tendencies represent irreconcilable contradictions,” because imperialism can only exist on the basis of exploitation of colonies and on their forcible retention within the imperialist framework and because imperialism only brings nations together by means of annexations and colonial conquest. “For communism, on the contrary,” says Stalin, “these tendencies are but two sides of a single cause — the cause of the emancipation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism; because communism knows that the union of peoples in a single world economic system is possible only on the basis of mutual confidence and voluntary agreement, and that the road to voluntary union of peoples lies through the separation of the colonies from the ‘integral’ imperialist ‘whole,’ through the transformation of the colonies into independent states.” (ibid, p.81, my emphasis)

Contrasting the national question in the period of the Second International and in the period of Leninism, Stalin made the following observations:

1.    “Formerly, the national question was usually confined to a narrow circle of questions, concerning, primarily, ‘civilized’ nationalities ... European nationalities — that was the circle of unequal peoples in whose destinies the Second International were interested. The scores and hundreds of millions of Asian and African peoples who are suffering national oppression in its most savage and cruel form usually remained outside of their field of vision. Leninism laid bare this crying incongruity, broke down the wall between whites and blacks, between Europeans and Asians, between the ‘civilized’ and ‘uncivilized’ slaves of imperialism and thus linked the national question with the question of the colonies.

2.   “Formerly, the principle of self-determination of nations was usually misinterpreted ... leaving all political power in the hands of the ruling nation ... . Leninism broadened the conception of self-determination, interpreting it as the right of the oppressed peoples of the dependent countries and colonies to complete secession, as the right of nations to independent existence as states.”

3.   “Formerly, the national question was regarded from a reformist point of view, as an independent question having no connection with the general question of the power of capital, of the overthrow of imperialism, of the proletarian revolution ... . Leninism has proved, and the imperialist war and the revolution in Russia have confirmed, that the national question can be solved only in connection with and on the basis of the proletarian revolution, and that the road to victory of the revolution in the West lies through the revolutionary alliance with the liberation movement of the colonies and dependent countries against imperialism.” (ibid, pp. 72-75)

Thus, Leninism raised the cause of the emancipation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism as one of the three most important contradictions facing capitalism in its last, dying, imperialist stage — on the same level of importance as the contradiction among the various financial groups and imperialist powers over re-division of the already divided up world and the contradiction between labor and monopoly capital and imperialism. Leninism taught that these three contradictions need to be implemented in coordinated struggle for the overthrow of monopoly capitalism and imperialism. 

***

Soviet implementation of the Leninist position on the National Question

Veteran Chinese communist leader Liu Shao-chi observed in his outstanding Marxist-Leninist document, “Internationalism and Nationalism,” (1948): “As soon as the Great October Revolution in Russia had overthrown the bourgeois provisional government and placed the toilers in power, Lenin and Stalin immediately proclaimed the annulment of all the unequal treaties which the Czarist government had concluded with China and other countries, abolished the whole system of enslavement which Russian imperialism had imposed on its colonies and semi-colonies and proclaimed the complete equality of all nationalities within the country. Such is the application, in deeds, of the great principles of proletarian internationalism.” (ROL, USA Reprint, 2017, p. 20)

Soviet implementation of this proletarian internationalist policy on the national question, no doubt helped inspire the preeminent bourgeois leader of the Chinese national democratic revolution, Sun Yat-sen, to arouse the people and unite “for a common struggle with all the nations of the world who regard us as equals.” According to comrade Liu, “Sun Yat-sen also carried into effect the three great principles of unity with the USSR and with the Communist Party [of China], and of extending support to the workers and peasants.” Thus, the October Revolution’s stand on the national question immediately helped strengthen the Chinese national democratic revolution even before the Chinese Communist Party came to the forefront of that crucially important struggle. And this heroic effort culminated in the liberation of one quarter of humanity from the yoke of imperialism with the victory of the Chinese national democratic revolution in 1949.

Another important implementation of this Leninist line by the new Soviet Union and the Bolshevik Party was the creation of the University of the Toilers of the East. Named for Stalin, a native of the oppressed nation of Georgia. its acronym was KUTVA. The outstanding Afro-American communist, Harry Haywood was enrolled there beginning around early 1926.  In his invaluable autobiography, Black Bolshevik, Haywood stated: “It was founded by the Bolsheviks for the special purpose of training cadre from the many national and ethnic groups within the Soviet Union — the former colonial dependencies of the czarist empire — and also to train cadres from colonies and subject nations outside the Soviet Union.” (Black Bolshevik, p. 155)

When he got there the student body already represented more than seventy nationalities and ethnic groups. According to Haywood, it was divided into two sections—inner and outer. The inner section included Turkmenians, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kazaks and both Inner and Outer Mongolia from Soviet Asia. From the Caucasus, Armenians, Georgians, and many more that Haywood had never heard of before. The outer section of the school included, in addition to the Afro-Americans, Indians, Koreans, Indonesians, Filipinos, Persians, Palestinian Jews, Arabs from the Middle East and North Africa, Moroccans and Algerians, Chinese and others.

Haywood pointed out, “The Chinese, several hundred strong, comprised the largest group of the outer section at the school. This was obviously because China, bordering on the USSR, was in the first stage of its own anti-imperialist revolution, a revolution receiving direct material and political support from the Soviet Union. While KUTVA trained the communist cadres from China, there was also the Sun Yat-sen University, just outside Moscow, which trained cadres for the Kuomintang.” (ibid, p.156)

Quite impressive proletarian internationalist support for the struggle for emancipation of the oppressed peoples from the yoke of imperialism from the still new and struggling Soviet Union!

Of course, the Soviet Union was also hosting and leading the Communist International on its liberated turf. Led by the Bolshevik Party and Lenin, and armed with the Leninist position on the National Question, the Communist International advanced the Marxist slogan for the world’s workers to now include in the era of imperialism and the unfolding proletarian revolution:

Workers of the World and Oppressed Peoples UNITE!


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FIRST APPEARED IN ROL, USA NEWSLETTER #103

If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention (From Newsletter 103)

First appeared in ROL, USA Newsletter #103

******************************************************************************


 If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention
Submitted by Pearl Haines



 According to Fortune Magazine, Raytheon stock surged 2.5% the day after the Trump administration attacked the sovereign state of Syria with 59 Tomahawk missiles, adding $1 billion to the company’s coffers. Raytheon makes the Tomahawk missile at a cost $1 million a piece. The combined stock of Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing, Lockheed and Northrop Grumman - main defense contractors of the military industrial complex- gained a combined $5 billion in market value the day after the bombing of Syria.

***
The Trump administration’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2018 has been dubbed the “tanks and tax cuts budget.” It contains an increase of $54 billion for Pentagon “defense” spending and a number of tax breaks for the super wealthy, including elimination of the estate tax and the surcharge on wealthy investors. (Trump and his family would handsomely benefit from both.) To pay for it, the budget slashes social programs and numerous benefits for the 99% including food stamps, Medicaid, Social Security benefits for the disabled, student loans, health insurance benefits for low-income children (CHIP), scientific research, Center for Disease Controls (CDC), Federal Worker retirement benefits, planned parenthood and a 13% cut in the public education budget. And for good measure, meals on wheels will get the axe as well.

***
Representatives of both political parties (the Republicrats) agree that health care is a privilege, rather than a human right. This played out in the recent debates over repealing (and so-called replacing) the Affordable Care Act (ACA). According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) the new “American Health Care Act” passed by the House of Representatives will knock an additional 24 million people off health coverage, cause those with pre-existing conditions to pay more (in some cases raising premiums 1000%), gut Medicaid benefits to millions of people and give additional tax breaks to the rich. In the meantime, almost no politician of either “Republicrat” political party is raising up the need for a “public option” single payer health care system “Medicare for All!” as a better way to fix the many problems of the Affordable Care Act and the U.S. medical system based on private corporate profit.

***
The con jobs never stop. House of Representatives Democratic Party leader Nancy Pelosi recently proclaimed that if the Democrats are put back in control of the House of Representatives in 2018 mid-term elections, they would pass a $15.00/hour minimum wage bill “within 100 hours.” This is when there is no chance that such a bill would be signed by the current U.S. president.  Yet, when there was a “chance” to pass such legislation, this same Nancy Pelosi, who in 2008 was the Speaker of the House of Representatives when the Democrats controlled the House, Senate and White House, did not lift a finger to raise the poverty $7.25/hour minimum wage!

***
Ever since the murder of Mike Brown, an unarmed black man shot by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer on August 9, 2014, many outraged Afro-American activists local to the area have been in the public eye. They and their Ferguson movement became the core of the “black lives matter movement” that spread throughout the USA. And too many of them have suddenly died over the past three years.

Edward Crawford (the man seen throwing a canister of tear gas away from protesters during a clash between them and police in an iconic picture taken by a photographer with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) was found shot to death in his car in May of this year. Activists Darren Seals and DeAndre Joshua have also been found dead in their cars. Seals died on the September 2014 day a grand jury decided not to prosecute Darren Wilson, Michael Brown’s killer. And Joshua lost his life in 2016. Both men were shot in the head and their vehicles had been set on fire. Crawford’s death was judged as a suicide, while the deaths of Seals and Joshua have been treated as homicides by local authorities.

The fact that these three young men all involved in the same prominent social justice movement against police brutality have lost their lives in the same pattern should have been big news.

While some capitalist media outlets briefly touched on the stories of Crawford, Seals, and Joshua, the focus of most mass media outlets is on trivial pursuits such as being for or against President Donald Trump’s daily Twitter insults. Serious journalists representing a serious movement for Afro-American freedom and/or working class power would be investigating these deaths and questioning motives for homicides: were they carried out by the Ferguson/St. Louis County police force, white nationalists, the FBI? 

***
Wall Street pays lucrative rewards for those who serve them well. We know of Hillary Clinton’s infamous $275,000 per Goldman Sachs speech. Former presidents from Reagan to Bill Clinton raked in millions after leaving the White House. Former president Barack Obama just received $400,000 for one speech paid for by Wall Street investment banking firm Canter Fitzgerald. (Ten times what a worker averages for an entire year of punching the clock!) For the investment “banksters” who sunk the economy, destroyed the lives of millions, avoided any prosecution and jail time and got bailed out at the expense of “Main Street”, this is but a small token of their appreciation to Obama and his Regime.