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Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Current State of U.S. Society and of the U.S. Empire’s Government by RAY LIGHT (FROM ROL, USA NL 107-108)

Originally Appeared in ROL, USA NL 107-108 Mar-Apr; May-June
 
The Current State of U.S. Society
and of the U.S. Empire’s Government

by RAY LIGHT

The first quarter of 2018 has brought much political turbulence and disruption both to the rulers and the ruled in the USA. Because U.S. imperialism is still the main bulwark of world capitalism, what has been going on in the USA these days has real significance for the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples of the world, as well.

Fundamentally, what has been occurring in the USA over these several months reflects the fact that the U.S. Empire continues its decline.
- Chaos among the Rulers-

Previously, we have discussed the contradiction between President Trump’s constant effort to defend the Trump Family Empire and his relative indifference to the interests of the Wall Street ruling class, i.e. the strategic interests of the U.S. Empire. The Trump Regime itself has included representatives of both the Trump Empire and the U.S. Empire. This is reflected in the continual lurching of the Trump Regime from one crisis to the next and the continued paralysis of the “Republicrat” Congress, dutifully trying to serve the U.S. ruling class, rather than the Trump dynasty.

As a result of this contradiction, the firings and resignations of top Trump Executive Branch officials have greatly accelerated.

Gary Cohn, head of the National Economic Council, Trump’s chief economic adviser, one of the top Goldman-Sachs officials who moved into the Trump Regime, resigned after objecting to Trump’s decision to place tariffs on steel and aluminum. It is possible that Cohn’s resignation is a signal that Goldman-Sachs and Wall Street may be coming to the conclusion that they have squeezed as much out of Trump as they are going to get and are beginning to bail out or even turn on him. It is also noteworthy that his replacement, Larry Kudlow, also expressed disagreement with Trump’s tariff announcement prior to coming over from his cable news job. What makes Kudlow’s appointment even more “peculiar” is the fact that Kudlow’s only major economic policy agreement with Trump is on “tax breaks for the rich”, the one victory already “accomplished” by the Trump Regime with Congress. (And it was done under Cohn’s leadership.) Rather than for adherence to any economic “principles” whatsoever, clearly Kudlow was chosen for his loyalty to Trump and the Trump Empire and not to the U.S. Empire.

Trump abruptly fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the
TILLERSON, TRUMP, MCMASTER
former CEO of Exxon-Mobil, after Tillerson had followed Trump’s instruction to drive most experienced U.S. diplomats out of the foreign service during his year in the job. Current CIA Director, Mike Pompeo, a top West Point graduate and Tea Party favorite, is awaiting Senate confirmation to replace Tillerson at State. Whether Pompeo is confirmed or not, there is no way that U.S. diplomacy will be a major U.S. force, relative to U.S. military and intelligence efforts, for some time to come. For the Trump Regime has cannibalized the U.S. diplomatic corps.

Finally, General H.R. McMaster resigned as Trump’s National Security Adviser amid rumors that Trump was planning to fire him soon. And, as with Secretary of State Tillerson who was dismissed, Trump first announced McMaster’s departure via a public tweet. Trump has chosen John Bolton as his new National Security Chief. Bolton, like Kudlow was also tapped from cable news and has the reputation that “he has never met a war he didn’t like.” Also, both Kudlow and Bolton have been upgraded to directly reporting to Trump instead of reporting to Chief of Staff John Kelly, effectively downgrading Kelly in the Executive Branch hierarchy.

Among the so-called “grown-ups” in the Trump Regime that have supposedly tried to keep a lid on Trump’s erratic behavior in the first 15 months, H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn are all gone and John Kelly seems to be on the way out, leaving only Secretary of Defense General “Mad dog” Mattis still apparently having standing.

Trump’s handling of his top advisers and cabinet members reflects his need to consolidate his power to be answerable to no one. For he is driving toward the autocratic power that would make him a dictator free to pillage and plunder without any accountability.* Trump represents “blowback” on the U.S. Empire of all the “tin horn dictators” that U.S. imperialism has sponsored for decades all over the world.

*In arguably the clearest example yet of Trump’s pursuit of the Trump Empire’s agenda priority for maximum profits, Veteran Affairs Secretary David Shulkin was fired by Trump clearly because he resisted the privatization of the massive Veterans Administration. Most veteran organizations, other than the Koch brothers - sponsored one, concerned about the possible dismantling of VA health care, are opposing Trump’s nominee of his own personal White House physician, Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, who has no experience running a large organization.

*****

Also, in the past several months, the FBI investigation into the Russia-Trump campaign connection has allowed Mueller’s forces to examine Trump’s corrupt business connections along with potential campaign finance law violations. This investigation has continued to close in on the President.

Several major players in Trump’s 2016 campaign have already been indicted including his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort. Now his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, had his law office, home and hotel room raided by the FBI. Cohen’s communications activity with Trump (and his other two (!) clients’ records) were seized. This led to the discovery that Fox Network’s Sean Hannity was one of Cohen’s two other clients. Hannity has had phenomenal access to the airwaves where he has boosted Trump and attacked Clinton, without anyone knowing about his connections with Trump’s “team.” Hannity’s failure to disclose his personal connection to the Trump campaign also seems clearly to constitute illegal activity.

Despite the fact that both Houses of the U.S. Congress have had Republican majorities during Trump’s first 15 months, the only success they’ve achieved has been so-called tax reform, the long anticipated boondoggle for the rich 1%. Moreover, Trump, and the U.S. Congress led by Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell were unable to “repeal and replace” the “affordable care act” over the past year. Consequently, they were unable to carry out the Republican plan to use the billions of dollars “saved” by eliminating millions of people from health care coverage and use the proceeds to pay for the tax breaks for the super-rich. Since the tax reform, therefore, even the Republican-controlled responsible Congressional research committees are advising Congress that the combination of tax breaks and military spending increases make the U.S. budget they recently passed “unsustainable.”

In this situation, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, third in the line of Presidential succession, and only forty years old, has announced that he is not running for re-election to Congress! This reflects several things: 1.  Ryan thinks it will be an uphill battle to win re-election personally; and that it will be an uphill battle to lead the Republican Party  to a  2018 House  victory.   2.  Ryan does not want to be mixed up in Trump’s (monkey) business. 3.  Ryan recognizes that the only Republican Congressional victory under Trump, namely, the tax break for the super-rich, will be exposed as the boondoggle for the wealthy and a resulting government financial crisis for the 99% of us; and Ryan wants to live politically to run for office another day.

Thus, Congressional paralysis combined with Trump’s autocratic rule is making it increasingly difficult for the ruling class to rule in the old way. And with Trump’s incessant drive toward a one-man dictatorship and his growing violations of constitutional law, there is certainly a danger of a fascist coup by the Trump forces or by military brass in defense of  Trump or in opposition to Trump or any of several other scenarios.

*****

Immediately after the 2016 election, I wrote that international forces, including major reactionary and/or progressive powers and their allies, could take advantage of the weaker and more erratic leadership of the U.S. Empire that the Trump Regime would offer. This was also the case for whatever revolutionary forces outside the USA were “together enough” to take advantage of the situation. This vulnerability of the U.S. Empire with Trump at the helm still pertains to this date for external adversaries of U.S. imperialism.

*****

-Motion among the Ruled-

Meanwhile, there has been much restlessness and movement among the masses of the U.S. population. The 99% of us clearly sense something is fundamentally wrong and are feeling the harsh, oppressive hand of an increasingly autocratic government led by Trump and enabled by the corrupt “Republicrat” (Democratic and Republican) politicians in Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. 

According to the Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, “One in five Americans have protested in the streets or participated in political rallies since the beginning of 2016. Of those, 19 percent said they had never before joined a march or a political gathering.” (Washington Post, 4-6-18, “Rallying Nation,” Mary Jordan and Scott Clement) While some of the recently involved have come out to support Trump and reaction, the large majority are protesting at least somewhat against the powers that be.

--Women are fighting back--

Trump’s continual public projection as President of blatant disrespect and outright sexual abuse of women has been accentuated by a series of scandals involving payment to sex partners of  “hush money,” some evidently illegally provided from Trump campaign contributions.  On January 20, 2018, there were large demonstrations led by and peopled by women from all classes and backgrounds against arguably the most openly misogynistic president in U.S. history. It was the one-year anniversary of the truly massive demonstrations predominantly made up of women protesting Trump on the day of his inauguration. The Trump-led assault on U.S. woman had already led in the fall of 2017 to the take-down of film industry mogul Harvey Weinstein and the explosive growth of a #Me Too movement that has continued to bring down other male supremacists and sexual predators in powerful political and cultural positions in U.S. society. The 2018 Academy Awards show and other cultural award shows became platforms for mass education emphasizing that women should and would no longer take abuse. Women are fighting back.

This growing culture of resistance to the powers that be, especially among women, though still at a low political level, has been a tremendously healthy development for U.S. society. It played an undeniably significant role in the wonderful uprising (“out of nowhere”) of the (predominantly women) West Virginia school workers who launched a strike against the state legislature on February 22. Supported by the parents, students and most of the people of the state of West Virginia, in the heart of the oppressed Appalachian region, the strike by the three unions (the AFT and NEA major teacher union affiliates and a school employees union) was a “bottom up” and “illegal” strike which was not in the control of union bureaucrats. [See the article on “the State of the U.S. Labor Movement, Part 2” found elsewhere in this issue.]

 Furthermore, the strikers showed a determination not to be
STRIKING TEACHERS IN W. VA
derailed by the reactionary politicians. The teachers and school employees also demonstrated their own loyalty to the students, by continuing to provide school lunches out of their own pockets to the many that really needed them; and they demonstrated solidarity with all the public sector workers of their state. The nine-day strike resulted in a clear victory that included a pay raise for all the state employees of West Virginia and clear support for the importance of education for the state’s youth. This victory inspired school teachers and workers in other impoverished states including Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona to follow the lead of the West Virginia school workers.

Thus, a truly massive cultural shift among women is already producing a higher level of struggle within the U.S. labor movement and among the U.S. working class in general.

*****

--Youth are rising up in their own defense--

A similar cultural shift regarding protesting against the powers that be in the streets is developing among the U.S. youth on a wider scale than has been seen at least since the 1960’s. 

On February 14, the epidemic of mass school shootings, including in privileged neighborhoods across the USA, spread to a 2018 Valentine’s Day Massacre that erupted at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. The response has been an outpouring of tens of thousands of high school youth who took to the streets to protest a U.S. society that is so hate-filled and violent, that it cannot provide safety to its children, even its privileged children, in school. And the youth largely organized most of these street demonstrations themselves.

While, no doubt, building upon the strong Afro-American-centered Black Lives Matter movement developed (with the aid of cell phone camera technology) in response to the systemic police brutality and murder of Afro-American youths and Latino and other (particularly male) youths of color, this new upsurge involves U.S. youth across the spectrum of the 99%. Like the women’s movement, the youth movement, too, is starting with a very low level of political understanding as is quite natural in a society that lived for decades to one extent or another in alliance with U.S. imperialism and at the expense of the world’s workers and oppressed.

In our greeting and salute to the high school youth, [reprinted starting on the front page of this Newsletter] we invite them to join May Day demonstrations in their local areas celebrating their human solidarity with the working people of the whole world. We call on the youth to reject and repudiate the imperialist violence, hatred and war of the U.S. Empire that, according to Martin Luther King, Jr., (already in 1967) had made “my own government the biggest purveyor of violence in the world.” The establishment of connections of brotherhood and sisterhood of the U.S. youth with the working class youth and oppressed youth of the rest of the world is one of the most important elements that will transform the USA into a land of peace and love for all humanity.

*****

The Attempt to Elevate Billy Graham to Sainthood and the Latest U.S. War Crime Against Syria

Billy Graham died at his home in North Carolina on February 20 at the age of  99. On February 24, there was a massive motorcade carrying Graham’s body through the western half of North Carolina. Along the parade route, crowds of mostly white folks gathered along the highway exits and bypasses in reverence to this iconic figure. His body lay in state at his Charlotte headquarters. Then he was buried on March 2 at a private funeral in his home village base of Montreat, North Carolina.

The U.S. ruling class made sure to use the week-long opportunity to promote an outpouring of support for the imperialist status quo. For Billy Graham was arguably the Christian minister who most effectively united U.S. Protestantism and U.S. Catholicism, the two main strands of white Christian population that form the religious base of U.S. imperialist reaction. As Wall Street Journal columnist and savvy Republican pundit, Peggy Noonan, noted,  “as the big thing now is that we hold together as a nation and not split apart, Graham’s ecumenical force should be noted among his achievements.” (WSJ, 2/24-2/25/18)

From U.S. Presidents Truman until Trump, they all prayed with and supported the Missionary of Mass Murder and Empire. Indeed, it is no accident that Billy Graham owed the most important boost to his then fledgling career as a minister to the infamous newspaper empire mogul, William Randolph Hearst. Hearst’s greatest claim to fame was that he was largely responsible for starting the Spanish-American War in 1898! Hearst was the most famous war-monger in U.S. history; and the U.S. victory over Spain by which the USA came to possess Cuba, Puerto Rico and ultimately the Philippines sealed the imperialist destiny of the USA.

Author Neil Young wrote in the Los Angeles Times (2-22-18) that in September 1949, Reverend Graham “was already thinking about leaving the ministry after a series of disappointing revivals in other cities” prior to his arrival in Los Angeles. He recommitted to his ministry when he was “met by a group of Los Angeles businessmen who were ready to sponsor his next crusade. Graham was now able to finance an enormous tent that would host more than 350,000 Californians. The city’s press reported constantly on the events inside the Canvas Cathedral.” Young continues: “When William Randolph Hearst learned of the many celebrities who were answering Graham’s altar call, he sent a two-word telegram to the editor of every newspaper he owned: ‘Puff Graham.’  Graham’s face was soon on front pages across the country.” (L.A. Times,  “Billy Graham: Made in L.A.”) This was the watershed event that made his career.

Two of the worst presidents with whom Billy Graham was especially close were Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. (In a separate article on Graham’s death in this Newsletter, comrade Casey Cole documents Reverend Billy Graham’s proposal to president Nixon that he carry out a major war crime against the Vietnamese people that would have cost a million Vietnamese lives!)

One of the world’s other great, modern war criminals was George W. Bush. Bush credited Billy Graham with giving him the religious strength to quit drinking. And, according to Bush, “Perhaps his [Graham’s] most meaningful service came on September 14, 2001. After the 9/11 attacks I asked Billy to lead the ecumenical service at Washington National Cathedral.” Bush was the U.S. president who ushered in the unauthorized unlimited War of Terror on the peoples of the world allegedly in response to the 9/11 attacks.

By the time Donald Trump became President, Billy Graham was in his late 90’s. His son and corporate religious heir, Reverend Franklin Graham, has been among Trump’s most loyal supporters since the 2016 election. According to the Huffington Post (1-25-17),  among other things, Franklin Graham participated in Trump’s “Thank You” tour and gave a Bible reading at Trump’s inauguration.

Following the latest U.S. war crime against the Syrian people, Franklin Graham called on the U.S. population to carry out Trump’s directive to pray for our troops and allies and Reverend Graham the younger gave the order to also pray for Trump. Thus, Franklin Graham is functioning as a General in Trump’s Religious Army.

Despite Trump’s fascistic attacks on those of us within the heartland of U.S. imperialism, he has been much less aggressive internationally than his two predecessors, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. One year ago, Cindy Sheehan and I signed a May Day leaflet entitled, “[Condemn] President Trump’s Criminal Missile Attack on the Sovereign State of Syria.” We observed the following: “In 2013, Obama and Clinton tried to launch a U.S./British war on Assad and Syria. The British Parliament and the U.S. people, including many “red state” supporters, successfully blocked the event. And Vladimir Putin of all people saved Obama from a major political defeat when he convinced Assad to turn over his stores of poison gas, etc. But the military strategy of  Wall Street imperialism remained as follows: to remove the Assad Regime from Syria so that Iran, the main regional competitor for Saudi Arabia (and U.S. imperialism) in the oil-rich Middle East, would be vulnerable to be bombed, invaded and defeated by the Israeli settler regime in combination with U.S. imperialism. This would have the effect of pushing Russian influence back out of the Middle East and leaving the U.S. Empire once again in a position to dictate to much of the rest of the world.”

Regarding Trump’s April 2017 unprovoked bombing of Syria, we also observed: “Finally, after being hidden away from the U.S. public for the past five months since the election, Hillary Clinton, … incredibly reappeared hours before Trump’s war crime against Syria. Even more incredible, she seemed to ‘go public’ in order to give Trump the very specific direction to try to destroy the Syrian air force, the very course Trump then followed!” So in the 2017 U.S. bombing attack on Syria it was the Democratic “loser” Clinton who led the Republican winner Trump. And many Democratic bigwigs, including Congressional leaders Pelosi and Schumer, as well as mainstream Republicans, praised Trump’s war crime as “presidential.” And even so-called progressives such as Bernie Sanders and Noam Chomsky condemned Assad and justified Trump’s war crime.

In April 2018, almost exactly one year later, Trump along with British Prime Minister May and French President Macron, launched more than one hundred missiles in an unprovoked attack on Syria, committing another war crime. Once again, the justification was alleged Assad Regime chemical weapon attacks on “his own” people. This time a day before the media allegations about chemical weapons appeared Trump had announced that he was pulling the U.S. out of Syria! Moreover, as Professor Jose Maria Sison, Chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) has pointed out, “A chemical attack by the Syrian government in Eastern Ghouta defies any logic. The region has just recently been liberated by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The Syrian government has basically won the war recovering most of the territory it had lost to the terrorist groups trained, armed and financed by the US-led coalition in a futile attempt to effect regime change in Syria.” (“ILPS Condemns US, UK and France for missile attack against Syria”) Comrade Sison concludes: “The pretext for perpetrating this war crime is clearly a false flag operation.”

And yet Trump immediately reversed course and joined his French and British counterparts in the act of war. Trump may well have been pressured by the encroaching FBI investigation of his campaign finances and connection to Russia. Whatever Trump’s motive for reversing course, Macron and May, as well as Trump, took this drastic action without waiting for the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), who responded to an invitation from the Assad government to carry out an investigation of the alleged chemical attack in Douma. Moreover, the three leaders launched the attack on their own individual authority without waiting one day to give their Parliament/Congress the opportunity to debate and, in the case of the U.S. Congress, vote the action up or down. Very dangerous and dictatorial conduct by the leaders of all three powers.

Letting “the cat out of the bag,” Macron bragged that, “Ten days ago President Trump wanted the United States of America to withdraw from Syria. We convinced him to remain.” So once again, in attacking Syria, Trump was a more reluctant war criminal than more social-democratic and mainstream political figures who, like Hillary Clinton, are ever ready to carry out unprovoked attacks in pursuit of maximum profits and territory on behalf of their global capitalist masters.

Clearly, it is not only the Trump Empire, but even more, the Wall Street Empire that is the main source of imperialist war and violence that the people of the USA and the world must defeat to make a better world for our children, our families, our communities and our human family everywhere on earth.

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