Monthly Archives: December 2008

PL Youth Activity Spurs Exposé of Obama, Builds PLP

NEWARK, NJ, November 29 — “I really need to know how I can become a member of this group,” exclaimed a young high school student at a recent study group organized by a high school PLP club. We have recently seen an upsurge of interest among students and parents.

Many students who attended the study group later joined PL members at the polls on election night to distribute our election pamphlet to workers going in to vote. Afterwards they returned to a teacher’s house to watch the returns and further debate whether or not to support Obama.

Later, three of those students joined us in Brooklyn to demonstrate against the racist bosses at Agriprocessors (see CHALLENGE, 12/10). Those who couldn’t come eagerly asked how it went.

These responses were born in the club’s bi-weekly study groups, analyzing PLP’s election pamphlet. High school students, teachers and interested parents — Asian, Latin, black and white — discussed the then upcoming election and its meaning for the working class. We’ve had over 15 participants, the most since the club was formed. We covered many topics — from who holds the real power to what life would be like under a communist world led by PLP.

Obama’s “Change” was without a doubt the hottest topic. Many students and parents are convinced Obama will create the change workers need. One teacher responded by saying, “Yes, there will be change, there will always be change, but who will it benefit? Wall Street doesn’t put millions of dollars behind a candidate so he can turn around and give power to the working class. The only change that we need will come from the workers who run this world.”

One parent, a NJ Transit bus driver, agreed, but also said Obama is what we need right now because the working class isn’t organized well enough. While he disagreed with our position not to vote, he still remains friends with, and continues to support, PLP.

We still meet regularly with these students. Many are still excited and want to know more about communism. The newest club member now leads the sessions, currently reading “Marx for Beginners” by Rius.

We’re trying to use the momentum gained from our activity during the bosses’ election to build the Party among students and parents in our area. Although many people around us have dangerous illusions about the Obama presidency, that he will solve workers’ problems, we know our lives will worsen.

Capitalism’s contradictions are becoming clearer to workers everywhere. This offers opportunities for PLP’ers to expose him and his capitalist system, particularly as imperialist wars and fascist exploitation come down even harder on our class.

While the rulers may win workers to believe in their representative, this honeymoon can’t last forever. That’s why it’s more important than ever to maintain personal as well as political ties to those around us. Through consistent struggle, we can expose Obama and other misleaders for what they really represent –– ruling-class interests.

While many of our friends are planning to attend Obama’s inauguration, we are struggling with them to begin building for our most important event — May Day. Although nearly five months away, we’re planning events from now until then for students, parents, and teachers to help organize for, and participate in, May Day, to enable them to see themselves not only as Party friends and member, but eventually as leaders.

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AUTO BAILOUT MEANS MORE RACIST ATTACKS

DETROIT, MI, December 8 — It appears GM, Ford and Chrysler will get about half the $34 billion bailout they went begging for, enough to ensure they don’t collapse over the next 90 days. They presented their “business plans” to Congress on the same day the Labor Dept. reported a loss of 533,000 jobs in November, the largest monthly loss in 34 years.

The money may come attached to a new federal “Car Czar” who will oversee the industry’s restructuring. This would be another step in the development of fascism as the bankers use their state power to protect their investments.

It also appears that the full weight of the crisis will be placed on the backs of auto workers. GM will eliminate up to 30,000 white and blue collar jobs in North America and close 11 more factories by 2012. GM will start 2009 with layoffs at three plants in Michigan, Ohio and Ontario. They will be idled throughout January and will resume production each with one less shift and a total of 4,400 fewer workers.

The “new General Motors” will have sold or closed Hummer, Saab or Saturn. Pontiac will be greatly reduced. GM CEO Wagoner should have no trouble getting by on his $1 salary for 2009. He stole $24 million in 2006 and again in 2007, and squeezed by with $2.2 million in 2008.

Auto workers won’t be so lucky. Our contracts will be reopened and gutted. We will face severe wage and benefit cuts, and many workers could lose homes as a result. No one will be spared, including retirees.

In the 2007 contract, the auto companies and the UAW set up the Voluntary Employee Benefit Association (VEBA) that was supposed to “guarantee” retirees’ healthcare, even if the industry went bankrupt. The Big Three were to contribute the bulk of the $60 billion fund. Also, a 3% wage increase for current UAW workers is being deferred to VEBA. But the global credit and financial crises plunged domestic auto sales to their lowest rate in 25 years. GM already failed to make a $1.7 billion payment in July, and canceled healthcare for all white-collar GM retirees. This may be the beginning of the end for retiree health care.

These layoffs and plant closings have a deadly racist character. According to a report from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Center for Economic Development, black males, ages 16 to 64, have an unemployment rate over 50% in the industrial cities of Buffalo (51.4%), Milwaukee (51.1%) and Detroit (50.6%). Marc Levine, the Center’s founding director, said, “And given perilous economic conditions on the horizon, we have every reason to fear that conditions may get even worse.” The bailout of the auto bosses will only mean more racist poverty, terror and homelessness for the working class.

Currently, the entire working class is taking it on the chin. The attacks are coming so fast that the situation appears to be overwhelming. We must do everything possible where we are to launch a fight-back that ultimately can challenge the bosses for power. We should try to set up unemployment committees in our factories and unions to ensure those laid off remain part of the struggle. In local unions, we should fight all-out to strike against any more concessions to current, future or retired workers. We can take the fight against racist unemployment to our community and immigrant organizations, schools and churches, uniting black, Latin and white workers.

Where there is a mass base of CHALLENGE readers and distributors, we should move them into action and into PLP, and work to establish more such bases. This economic crisis and auto bailout plays a big part in the inter-imperialist rivalry that is pushing the bosses towards world war. A PLP-led fight back can lead us towards communist revolution.

Bankers Hold the Bonds; Workers, Riders Left Holding the Bag

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – In mass transit, the issue of schedules is where “the rubber hits the road” for workers. This is a life-and-death issue for transit drivers. The long-term effects of speed-up, more riders with less equipment, tighter schedules and no rest breaks are stress-related illnesses such as high blood pressure and bodily injury. Transit agencies are all talking about more cuts in service and higher fares to pay loans and deal with the financial crisis.
The mass transit budget is where the biggest conflict comes up between the needs of Big Finance Capital and the needs of both drivers and working-class riders. Maximization of profit in the financial sector is the root of killer schedules and service cuts. In addition, the “Oil-War Budget” has cut federal transit funds. Better and more inclusive transit schedules would require more transit workers, more equipment and more money in the budget. That won’t happen without the organized power of the drivers and riders.

Deficit Financing: Working Conditions Worsen and Passengers Lose Service

In the ‘90s, San Francisco MUNI sold $467.9 million worth of equipment (such as trains) to investors and banks under “Sell & Lease-Back Agreements” – then leased this equipment back. MUNI got a lump sum up-front from the sale (to meet deficit budgets), bought insurance from AIG and guaranteed the life of the equipment so the investors got the depreciation. Thirty-one transit agencies in the U.S. sold equipment, a total value of $9.3 trillion.

This debt financing is a sour deal for transit workers who continue to lose “real wages” due to part-timing, increasing health expenses, etc. but have longer hours and more passenger boardings per shift to increase “productivity.”

Where’s the Money?

When Willie Sutton (a famous bank robber) was asked “why do you rob banks?” he replied, “that’s where the money is.” This makes perfect sense to most working-class people. Let the banks and finance institutions pay all those “lump sum payments” back into the transit system. Make them pay higher transit assessment fees which reflect the enormous value that transit infrastructure adds to their business (brings the workers to work) and their property (increases property values).

But that won’t happen — like the current eviction/foreclosure crisis and tax bailout, the working-class will pay. It’s the inevitable working-out of finance capitals’ control of taxes, credit, markets, and the political process. The working class’s needs are in direct conflict with “free” markets, profits and wars for control of resources. Transit workers and passengers need safe, decent and free transit. This requires the development of a mass revolutionary movement to overthrow capitalism.

Like the bailout, Obama’s plan for rebuilding infrastructure, including transit, and 2.5 million jobs, will make millions for the banks and investors who control the “Infrastructure Fund.” Obama’s advisors and cabinet members set up similar deals under Clinton and Bush. Millions of working-class people are opposed to this, many who support Obama believing they can “hold his feet to the fire.” But working-class people are the source of such change, not union leadership or the president.

Mass Transit is the life-blood of big cities, which puts tremendous power in our hands if we are organized to use it. At MUNI, at AC Transit and around the country, we must work on uniting community groups who are hurt by the Transit Effectiveness Project (TEP), riders whose service is being cut back, and transit workers who are hurt with nightmare schedules. We have plenty of and powerful allies if we get out there and organize them.

Societal change and revolution may sound overwhelming and far-off. PLP presents the alternative of a communist society to our coworkers and friends with every struggle for improvement in our lives. As these battles continue, many will see a relationship between “schedules,” capitalism, and the need for revolution.

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Calif. Dems Pass Budget Cuts; Workers, Students Must Hit Back

The longest budget stalemate in California history ended in September with a budget  “balanced” on the backs of workers and students. The budget, which stands to be cut further,  is a racist attack on the working class that:
• Cut $3.3 billion from base K-12 funding and from community colleges, libraries and adult education
• Cut billions more from low-income seniors and people with disabilities, from the CalWorks job training program, and other social services.
• Cut MediCal benefits, public health, the discount drug program, and payments to MediCal providers
• Will make mid-year cuts to the University of California (UC) and the California State University (CSU) systems, but not to “debt service” (interest flowing from workers’ taxes to banks)
• Diverted money for public transit to fund $1 billion in transit-related debt service
• Kicked in $250 million extra for COPS, Sheriffs, and more fascist law-enforcement

California’s Racist Cuts

Democratic politicians took advantage of the huge Obama turnout to pass an initiative raising LA County’s sales tax to 8.75%.  Now they’re planning more racist mid-year budget cuts which will hurt all workers. For example, the bosses closed King Hospital in South LA, patients were shunted to public health clinics; now the County Board of Supervisors threatens to cut the clinics.

Like 18 other states, California is running out of unemployment insurance funds. The official unemployment is over 7.7%, up from 5.5% last year. The San Francisco Chronicle reported (9/11/08) that California hoped to borrow from the Federal Government for the first time since the 1930s.

Meanwhile, workers here are losing their homes at 2½ times the rate a year ago. Tuition is likely to increase in the UC system, and in the CSU system with proportionally more black and latin students.  At community colleges (with even more black and Latin students) fees could rise by 30% or 50%. These fees don’t go to the colleges, but into the general fund where they help pay for bond interest and prisons.

Our Fight

College students protested budget cuts last spring, and are planning statewide rallies for the coming weeks. Students and workers still have illusions about capitalism, but as discussion leads to action, opportunities for communist work expand.  CHALLENGE sales on campuses are increasing, more students are looking to the Progressive Labor Party for leadership. It will be up to us to take this opportunity to show that capitalism is not a viable system for the working class. Join Us.

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Mumbai Massacre Heats Up India-Pakistan Dogfight

The Mumbai terrorist attack is being played as a religious holy war between Moslem and Hindu fundamentalism. But behind that lies what is killing millions of workers worldwide today: the dogfight among the world’s imperialists and their lackeys for control of the energy resources, pipelines (see below article) and the right to super-exploit workers.

In South Asia, this deadly mixture has brought two regional nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, to the brink of another war, and exposed the weaknesses of U.S. imperialism’s policy towards Afghanistan-Pakistan. “The crisis…fallout may… [expand] to include the United States, NATO, Afghanistan and Iran,” reports the NY Times (Week In Review, 12/7)

The U.S.-NATO Afghan war has had a devastating destabilizing effect on Pakistan (see CHALLENGE, 12/10). A fractured Pakistani ruling class is so divided that it cannot help U.S. imperialism’s design for the region. “A collapsing Pakistan, and with it the loss of any real border separating India from Pakistan, is India’s worst nightmare,” says Robert Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. “Making matters worse, every time the United States launches an air attack into Pakistan from Afghanistan, it further destabilizes the Pakistani state.” NY Times, 12/8)

Any of the many factions of the Pakistani ruling class could had been behind the Mumbai massacre — which killed 192 people and injured hundreds more — as well as the recent bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul, the Afghan capital. Many in the ISI (Pakistan’s powerful military intelligence service) see India as the main enemy of Pakistan. Killing innocent people is business as usual for imperialism’s big bosses and their goons.

The Mumbai massacre has shaken India’s growing alliance with the U.S., enabling India’s old ally, Russia, to re-emerge. Following the Mumbai massacre, Russian president Medvedev visited India and not only made a deal to sell India 80 M1-17 helicopters but also got an extra $2.2 billion from India for an aircraft carrier.

Mumbai has not only led to Russian weapons’ sales to India but has now brought India’s bosses closer to the Russian position in Afghanistan.
During Medvedev’s visit, in a Joint Declaration, India and Russia shared their concern over the “deteriorating security situation” in Afghanistan and called for a “coherent and a united international commitment” to deal with the threats emanating from that country.

The implied criticism of the U.S.-led war is obvious as is the rejection of the U.S. strategy to retain the war as its exclusive domain. The Joint Declaration then says, “Both sides welcome Russia’s initiative to organize an international conference in the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, involving its Member states and Observers.”

Both India and Russia are derailing the U.S.-Saudi plan to make a deal with some Taliban leaders at the expense of the former’s interests in energy-rich Central Asia.

This mixture of imperialist-capitalist rivalries and their use of religious fundamentalism is deadly for the region’s workers and their allies. The urban and rural workers and youth, from Kabul to Karachi to Mumbai, have a long history of fighting capitalism and imperialism. What’s needed is a revolutionary communist outlook to unite and destroy all the bosses and their various ideologies.J

Imperialists’ Battle Over Oil Pipelines Will Widen War

The Mumbai massacre (see above) highlights the rapid, blood-letting pace of the sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry for control of the Caspian region’s vast oil and gas resources and its strategic pipeline routes to world markets. This rivalry, intensified by the worldwide, deepening capitalist economic crisis, is leading eventually to World War III.

U.S. imperialism’s seven years of indescribable carnage in Afghanistan was originally intended as a quick military operation to secure pipeline routes for transporting Caspian region resources to the Indian Ocean Gwadar port in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, by-passing Russia and Iran.

Now, with the U.S. bosses bogged down in two wars — and major ones with Iran, Russia and/or China looming — while facing one of the worst economic crises in their history, they’re desperately trying to stem their rapid decline and remain the number one imperialist power. Oil, despite its sharply lower price, is still crucial to this endeavor, as it is to Russia’s and China’s rise as rival super-powers.

IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM, HAVE THEM JOIN YOU

With the Russian victory in Georgia making it unfeasible to build new U.S. trans-Caspian pipelines, Afghanistan is again (short of invading Iran) the most realistic, practical route to transport Caspian energy to market, by-passing Russia and Iran.  That’s why the “U.S. is actively considering [peace] talks with elements of the Taliban….in a major policy shift that would have been unthinkable a few months ago.” (Wall Street Journal, 10/28/08)

The objective is to “pacify and stabilize” Afghanistan enough to guarantee safe transport of these resources, while occupying the country indefinitely. At a recent NATO meeting, “the alliance visualized a long haul in Afghanistan.” (Asia Times on-Line, 10/15/08)

U.S. bosses hope to have everything in place by 2013 when Kazakhstan oil, being developed by U.S. oil companies, will start flowing. With this outlet, U.S. imperialists hope to reverse Russia’s gains in the energy-rich ex-Soviet republics.

RUSSIA, CHINA, IRAN AND THE NORTHERN ALLIANCE

These plans directly threaten the geopolitical interests of Russia, China and Iran, so they’re pushing back. This fight will only lead to wider, and eventually global war.

Russian President Medvedev criticized the U.S. for creating chaos in Afghanistan. He called for a new pan-European security pact, saying NATO can’t ensure the continent’s security. He said the “United States’ desire to consolidate its global role” is unrealizable in a multi-polar world.

Defying Russia’s warning, U.S. imperialists arrogantly think they can unilaterally expel Russia and Iran from Afghanistan. But the Northern Alliance, Afghan President Karzai’s main base of support, is very dependent economically and militarily on Russia and China.

Iran also has close ties with former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, leader of the anti-Taliban coalition (Northern Alliance) in the 1990s. Kabul is courting Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a holy warrior who fought for the CIA against the Soviet army in Afghanistan. He leads the fastest-growing insurgent group in Afghanistan.

China, a major player in the region, opposes the U.S.-NATO permanent military presence in the area. Afghanistan is being courted by the SCO to become a member. The SCO is a regional organization created by Russia and China to stop U.S.-NATO expansion in the Caucuses-Caspian regions. Since 2004,

Karzai has been a guest of honor at all the SCO’s summit meetings.

U.S. bosses are also supporting the Balochistan secessionist movement, which could eventually break up Pakistan if it degenerates into a failed state or becomes too independent. This would both deny China access to alternative energy resources and transport routes, and provide U.S. bases to further encircle Russia and China militarily.

PLP condemns the terrorists behind the Mumbai attack, along with all the capitalists-imperialists and their religious fanatics terrorizing workers worldwide. Workers need the ideas in CHALLENGE to fight all the bosses and build a mass international revolutionary PLP to fight for a communist world, without any bosses and their mass terror.

Pakistan and China in U.S. Bosses’ Sights

U.S. actions in Afghanistan and the region are also aimed at preventing China from importing 80% of its oil by skirting the Strait of Malacca, a narrow passage-way which the U.S. can block in case of war.

For China, the closest and safest sources of energy are Iran and the Caspian region, by-passing the Malacca Strait. Thus, China has signed mega energy contracts with Turkmenistan and Iran, a country the U.S. strives to isolate.

China’s other alternate routes are Pakistan’s Gwadar port in Balochistan with prospective pipelines from there to China’s remote western regions; and the Myanmar’s Sittwe port from which it will build two 900-mile pipelines to its Yunnan province.

Other possible routes for China to bypass the Malacca Strait are in the Indian Ocean. Thus, the U.S., using pirates in the area as pretext, has sent warships to “patrol” it. The U.S. is also negotiating bases there to gain full control of the Indian Ocean and adjacent seas, and temporarily thwart all Chinese solutions to their Malacca dilemma.

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Student Strikes Sweep Europe; Bosses’ Bailout Bills Workers

Students and working class youth are not only fighting back in Greece. Students in Germany and Italy took to the streets, took over schools and universities and demonstrated against the bosses’ “reforms.” These reforms will mean more cutbacks for students and teachers, to make them pay for the bosses’ economic crisis.

Over 100,000 German high school students struck on November 13 against standardized tests and a teacher shortage resulting in overcrowded classrooms. The next day over 300,000 workers, professors, college, high school and middle school students in Italy protested the bosses’ paying to rescue banks while cutting funding for education and research. They chanted the slogan “We will not pay for this crisis!”

The budget cuts are affecting working class students all over the world. The bosses are offering tests instead of teachers, and the bosses will not trade their profits for our well being.  They are more concerned with preserving their precious capital so that they can go on maximizing their profit than they are with preserving our lives as they cut into healthcare, education, scientific research, and all of the needs of the working class.

Students everywhere can be inspired by the anger and militancy of the student strikers in Greece, Germany and Italy as well as from their unity with workers. Students do not have to accept the poor conditions they face in schools or the second-rate education they receive in the bosses’ schools. The bosses need students to become the workers and soldiers of the future. The mass fightback of students today is the best lesson they can learn, which will never be taught in the capitalist schools.

When students take to the streets or take over their schools, when students refuse to take their exams, show up to teachers’ union meetings to protest budget cuts, create mass petitions about school conditions, walk out or sit in, protest against imperialist war or fight the racist cops like in Greece, they are beginning to fight back against the system. It is the role of communist youth and teachers to turn these mass struggles into school for communism and build a massive worker-student alliance to smash capitalism.

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Killer Cops Spark Youth Rebellion, Strikes Across Greece

ATHENS, GREECE, December 9 — For three consecutive days, police and protesters have clashed nationwide following a Special Forces cop’s fatal shooting of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos on December 6 in this city’s central district. The cops claimed Alexandros and other youths were throwing rocks at police cars. But the youth were just shouting anti-police slogans.

The arrest of two cops for this murder has not calmed the masses’ anger. Hundreds of students battled police in Thessaloniki, while protests also turned violent in Trikala, the port of Piraeus, and on the island of Corfu. Major mass marches were planned for today.

The rebellion and mass anger against this police murder reflect the hatred of many workers and youth for the cops. During the “colonels’ dictatorship” of 1967-74, cops were particularly brutal against those opposing the military junta. And in recent years under the right-wing government, police brutality has intensified. The cops have especially brutalized immigrant workers, particularly in Athens’ police stations. The national government has been trying to divert the anger of workers and youth by attacking immigrant workers and refugees here.

The protests are not just the actions of a “few hothead vandals” as right-wing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said on national television. After the killing, students have occupied a majority of schools nationwide. The High School Teachers’ Union has already called a 3-day strike and the Primary School teachers were set to walk out tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in Germany a dozen demonstrators occupied the Greek consulate in Berlin, replacing the Greek flag with a banner proclaiming Greece “a murderer state.”

There have been recent mass strikes opposing the government plan attacking pensions and job security, under orders from the European Union to cut the budget deficit. The government also gave billions in bailouts to local banks growing out of the current worldwide financial meltdown.

While workers were being attacked, a scandal erupted involving a land swap between an Orthodox monastery and government officials in Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’ New Democracy Party. A land scandal had further tarnished the government’s political standing. Even recent wildfires have been linked to speculators who want to build hotels in protected forest land.

The opposition Panhellenic Socialist Movement (Pasok) and the reformist “Communist” Party, both with lots of influence in the union movement, are using the rebellions — the biggest since World War II here — to push for an electoral defeat of the right-wing New Democracy government, but without changing the capitalist essence of Greek society.

Amid the growing capitalist economic crisis and sharpening inter-imperialist rivalry leading to wider wars, reformist electoral politics won’t extricate workers and youth from the hole into which capitalism has driven us. The lesson from these rebellions and strikes is to fight for a revolutionary communist leadership, capable of uniting workers Europe-wide and globally, to transform society into a world without any bosses, police terror or economic crises in which workers pay for the bankers’ bailouts.

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OBAMA DRAFTS WAR AND FASCISM CABINET

Will Barack Obama’s choice of black, Latin, Asian and female cabinet members and advisors finally represent the interests of long-oppressed segments of the U.S. working class? We think not. Class analysis shatters Obama & Co.’s egalitarian facade. Each and every appointee serves the dominant, imperialist wing of U.S. capitalists. Every last one has a bloody record of attacking workers by aiding the rulers’ war machine or their growing police state.

CLASS POLITICS PRIMARY

Identity politics is a dead end. What matters most is class. Warmakers Obama, Eric Holder, and Susan Rice won’t help the black working-class youth they seek as cannon fodder for the rulers’ wars. Family-splitting deportation honcho Janet Napolitano won’t help poor immigrant women. Thinking that the Obama administration signals positive change would be a grave political error. Politicians and their subordinates all serve the capitalist class.
What follows is an incomplete rogues’ gallery of the anti-worker criminals — many Clinton administration veterans — Obama has assembled so far. U.S. imperialism faces sharpening military and economic challenges. The rulers hope Team Obama’s ruling-class diversity will divert workers from our need for mass, multi-racial working-class unity and help them implement the widening wars and domestic crackdown they require to restore their profits.
The communist Progressive Labor Party is the only political movement that has workers’ needs at heart. Functioning outside — and opposed to — the bosses’ electoral system, we stand for mass, multi-racial struggle against racist unemployment amid the deepening Depression; unity of the employed and unemployed; and work towards ultimately destroying the deadly profit system, replacing it with workers’ rule.

ERIC HOLDER, African-American, future attorney-general, is who Obama promises will “clean up” Guantanamo. Don’t count on it. Working as a lawyer at Washington’s Covington and Burling firm in 2004, Holder defended Chiquita Banana’s gun-running to Colombia’s right-wing death squads. “Defending” Chiquita’s plantations, they slaughtered over 4,000 peasants. Now Holder joins the deadliest death squad in history.

ROBERT GATES, returning “defense” chief, constitutes a different facet of Obama’s inclusiveness, revealing the new regime’s main purpose. An author of the “surge” in Iraq and U.S. troop expansion in Afghanistan, Bush alumnus Gates, like Jones (see below), is meant to win over Republican conservatives to the imperialists’ ever-expanding war agenda. Pointing to the next U.S. theaters of operations, Gates’ Pentagon just announced a program to hire translators skilled in “35 languages including Arabic, Hindi [spoken in India], Farsi [spoken in Iran], and Somali.” (Boston Globe, 12/6/08)

Janet Napalotano,
Obama’s Homeland Security czar, has a “rational approach” to immigration policy which boils down to Gestapo-style terror. As Arizona governor, she turned state and local cops — through a joint training program — into agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).  Thus, “Arizona led the nation in deportations — comprising about a fifth of the total 349,041 [undocumented] immigrants deported nationwide.” (AP, 11/7/08). Napolitano’s state is home to three major ICE pre-deportation concentration camps. Obama wants this proponent of “immigration reform” as a mask to “federalize” individual states’ attacks on immigrants.

JAMES JONES
Retired Marine general and now National Security Advisor, was a major architect of both Iraq genocidal wars and Clinton’s civilian-wide bombing of Serbia. Like Holder, Jones promotes the killing of civilians for corporate profit. He’s a Director of Boeing and Chevron, which make billions off imperialism, one by selling the Pentagon weapons of mass destruction, the other from access to Mid-East oil.

SUSAN RICE,
African-American, the next U.S. Ambassador to the UN, strives to cover U.S. war-making with a humanitarian fig leaf. As a Stanford professor and Clinton aide, she has written extensively urging U.S.-led UN military intervention in places like Darfur, citing a “responsibility to protect.” Inevitably, it is resources, such as Sudanese oil, that demand U.S. protection from Chinese control.

BILL RICHARDSON,
Obama’s Commerce Secretary, claims “man-of-the-people” status despite a ruling-class pedigree. His father ran Citigroup’s vast imperialist operations in Mexico (which it may have to sell) from the 1930s to the 1950s. Bill and his late distant cousin Elliott Richardson, who held a record four cabinet posts, descend from merchant brothers who settled near Boston in the 1630s.
A young Bill Richardson toiled for arch-imperialist Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. He served as energy secretary to Clinton, whose energy policy amounted to air war against pro-Russian forces in the former Yugoslavia involving Caspian oil routes and preparation (with sanctions and missiles) for the seizure of Iraq’s oil fields.

HILLARY CLINTON, for Secretary of State. Obama deceitfully courted anti-war voters in the primaries. He had attacked Clinton’s 2002 Senate vote for invading Iraq. Firmly under the bosses’ control, president-elect Obama makes warmaker Hillary a major agent of U.S. foreign policy.

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Newark Port Jobs Plan Elates Bosses, Exploits Workers

On September 16, 2008, Newark Mayor Cory Booker unveiled a port development program supposedly aimed at “fighting poverty.” “OpportunityNewark” (ON) is an 18 month project led by Harvard business prof Michael Porter (Newark Star Ledger 9/16/08). One of the recommendations in the ON report was to clear land that’s not being used for functions compatible with development of airport and seaport-based industry. “Clear land” means to take the land and give it to the port bosses. The city says the businesses dislocated by the land grab will need help, but is not specific. Like Newark’s 20-year tax abatements to Prudential and others, this amounts to using workers’ tax money to subsidize rich corporations.

Due to “globalization” and rising imports from off-shore manufacturing, the port had already been growing for years before Booker became mayor. Port Newark/Elizabeth is the largest container port in the eastern U.S. and the third largest in the country. Since 1998, the Port has seen a 65% increase in traffic volume. In 2003, the Port moved over $100 billion in goods. Plans are underway for billions of dollars in improvement –– larger cranes, bigger rail facilities, deeper channels, and expanded wharves. Booker’s giveaways are on top of huge profits already made.

Booker’s program is supposed to help workers with prior convictions. In class society, hundreds of thousands of youth, many of them unemployed black and Latin youth, are locked up for drug possession and non-violent offenses. When released from jail, they can’t find jobs because of their records. Most of the port jobs pay between $12 and $18 per hour. But many of these jobs will pay below the median Newark income of $34,452, which is half the state median! Forty percent of the jobs pay below $25,000 per year. With little wage progression, these are racist dead-end jobs meant for black and immigrant workers. In other words, one more bosses’ scheme to bring down the wages of the working class in order to meet their needs, not ours.

The biggest capitalists and bankers are now in hot water from the financial mess. They are looking for new ways to exploit workers and make us pay for their crisis, especially now that off-shore manufacturing is about maxed out. They would like to funnel immigrant workers and those with prison records into the lowest-wage jobs, since those groups have fewer options and may be less willing to fight back. This also means those who make a little more at the port will be in an unstable situation. With no protection, what is to prevent port bosses from replacing the worker who makes $18 or more an hour with a $12- per-hour worker just released from jail?

As workers, we need to begin to take responsibility for ourselves as a class. A big step in that direction would be organizing around communist ideas from PLP. This could lead to port workers as a group fighting back against the bosses’ attempts to destroy the wages and benefits of one more group of industrial workers. Organizing in the midst of the port expansion could mean more industrial workers being won to communism, free of exploitation. Communism would put workers first and allow everyone a say in working conditions. The benefits and burdens of society would be shared by all workers.

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RULERS TO OBAMA: SELL WAR EXPAND WAR RECRUIT FOR WAR

Soon after Barack Obama’s election, U.S. rulers spelled out his most pressing new task: preparing for widening wars in an intensifying imperialist rivalry. Public notice came through a November 16th New York Times editorial entitled, “A Military for a Dangerous New World.”  Putting economic crises on the back burner, the Times demanded, “the Obama administration will have to rebuild and significantly reshape the military.”

Times editors identified near- and long-term enemies of U.S. imperialism requiring varying levels of mobilization: “The United States and its NATO allies must be able to defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan — and keep pursuing Al Qaeda forces around the world. Pentagon planners must weigh the potential threats posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions, an erratic North Korea, a rising China, an assertive Russia and a raft of unstable countries like Somalia and nuclear-armed Pakistan.”

The editorial, triple the usual length, bore the marks of a significant policy declaration. The leading members of the Times editorial board belong to the Council on Foreign Relations ((CFR), U.S. imperialism’s most influential think-tank.

U.S. RULERS COUNT ON OBAMA TO EXPAND ARMY AND NAVY

The Times’s specific recommendations to Obama focus on waging wars to seize and occupy territory, like oil-rich Iraq, while avoiding Bush & Co.’s on-the-cheap errors (Rumsfeld’s “hi-tech,” small mobile force, “shock-and-awe” bombardment). First is “more ground troops.” The rulers’ “newspaper of record” endorses Obama’s campaign call for 92,000 additional soldiers and marines to total “759,000 active-duty ground troops.” It also notes that the U.S. had 200,000 more foot soldiers than “at the end of the Cold War.”

The rulers’ plan implies that Obama, especially with his appeal to so-called “minorities” — who began abandoning the military under Bush — can boost troop strength significantly before resorting to a draft. However, his appeal includes white youth as well. A big part of his “National Service” program includes youth in general, considering ROTC a “service organization,” returning it to the Ivy League colleges, as well as using “National Service” as an umbrella to re-build the entire military — officers, non-commissioned officers and GI’s.

The Times says Obama’s enhanced forces can multiply U.S. might by creating U.S.-led colonial armies in conquered lands. “The military also must field more specialized units, including more trainers to help friendly countries develop their own armies to supplement or replace American troops in conflict zones.”
The rulers, speaking through the Times, also want Obama to ensure that the U.S. war machine can invade wherever it pleases: “The country must ensure its ability — so-called lift capacity — to [transport] enormous quantities of men and material quickly around the world and to supply them when necessary by sea.” In addition to building more fast cargo ships, “the Pentagon needs to spend more on capable, smaller coastal warcraft” says the Times manifesto.

But it also warns that the U.S. should not abandon its lethal carrier groups, which may come in handy against China some day. “China is expanding its deep-water navy, much to the anxiety of many of its neighbors. The United States should not try to block China’s re-emergence as a great power. Neither can it cede the seas. Nor can it allow any country to interfere with vital maritime lanes.”

WARMAKING RULERS ALWAYS EMPLOY BIG LIE

The editorial mentions the rulers’ need to portray their deadly imperialist adventures as “righteous causes.” It calls “the fight in Afghanistan, the war on terror’s front line,” when the war, in fact, represents U.S. imperialists’ efforts to check their Russian rivals’ expansionism. The U.S. and Russian bosses are locked in a bitter, ever-sharpening struggle to control the vast oil and natural gas of the Caspian Sea region, their exploitation and the transport routes to market them.

Bush, Jr. bungled the Big Lie maneuver with his blatantly false “weapons-of-mass-destruction” pretext for invading Iraq. Bush, Sr. had played the Big Lie like a violin, marshalling world support against Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, which the U.S. had, in fact, encouraged.

Bill Clinton also proved a master of the Big Lie. Vowing to stop “ethnic cleansing,” Clinton unleashed a bombing campaign — bigger than anything since World War II — on the former Yugoslavia. Here too, the real target was securing pipeline routes to transport Caspian Sea energy riches to the European market, by-passing Russia and erecting military bases to encircle Russia in preparation for global war.
Each of these “noble” U.S. efforts claimed over a million lives, mainly civilian.

The war agenda the Times outlines explains Obama’s bait-and-switch choice of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Deceitfully courting anti-war voters in the primaries, Obama had attacked Clinton’s 2002 Senate vote for invading Iraq. Firmly under the bosses’ control, president-elect Obama makes warmaker Hillary a major agent of U.S. foreign policy.

On the economy, Obama’s appointment of Timothy Geithner to Treasury Secretary signals that whatever the new administration does will favor U.S. imperialists over workers. Geithner is a protégé of the biggest U.S. war criminals. He has toiled for the profit system both at Kissinger Associates and the CFR.

Basically, the Times’ ruling-class plan is a warning to the international working class that U.S. rulers are hell-bent to maintain their military supremacy worldwide, to be in position to launch wars whenever and wherever they feel their “strategic interests” — mainly control of oil — are threatened. Their past adventures which killed millions will seem paltry compared to what’s in the works.

All the more reason for the working class to challenge these murderers, and build PLP into a mass communist party capable of winning millions of workers, soldiers and students to answer their bloodbath with revolution to destroy this hellish, war-producing profit system.

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