The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Issue no. 732 — August 2 - 30, 2004

Don’t Look to Bush or Kerry for Jobs

Aug 2, 2004

The Democratic Convention is over, the Republican is still a few weeks away. But without waiting for it, we can easily predict that the Republicans, like the Democrats, will talk about how devoted they are to our best interests.

Devoted? Devoted to screwing us maybe.

There are almost 11 million people without a job, and three million more forced to work at jobs that are part-time. Not to mention all the temporary workers. But Bush will get on that Republican Convention podium and tell us all we have to do is wait–his INCENTIVES, SUBSIDIES and TAX BREAKS will start producing jobs any day now. You’d think he’d be ashamed to tell that old lie again.

The corporations already got their incentives, subsidies and tax breaks. They didn’t create jobs. They got rid of jobs. Point. End of story.

So what did John Kerry propose to do about jobs when got up at the Democratic Convention podium? First, give INCENTIVES to corporations to create jobs; second, give SUBSIDIES to corporate research and investment to create jobs; third, give TAX BREAKS to corporations to create jobs. Didn’t his mother ever tell him not to lie?

Money to corporations doesn’t create jobs–it increases profits. Twelve% of the total gross domestic product–all the goods and services created in this country by the labor of working people–went to corporate profits in this last quarter, an all-time record.

But no new jobs were created. And most of the lost jobs are still lost.

To create jobs, you pay money to put people to work to do the things that need to be done.

And there are tons of things just waiting to be done, if only government would use tax money to hire people to do them–new schools that should be built, children to be taught; playgrounds, parks and sports areas established and run; roads and bridges repaired; lighting, water and sewage systems rebuilt; dams and reservoirs repaired: public transportation resurrected, etc. etc. etc. Everyone of us can come up with a list of all the things government is responsible to provide–but less and less does it.

Put those millions of people to work, pay them decent money, provide them medical care and payments into a real pension–and see what happens to the economy, as they go out week after week, paycheck in hand to buy the things they need.

As we are surrounded by all the hullabaloo of these conventions, Democratic then Republican, we shouldn’t let the balloons and confetti and scripted cheers make us forget what we know about these two parties. Neither one of them represent us.

Don’t wait on Bush or Kerry to put people to work.

For that to happen we’ll have to create some hullabaloo of our own.

Pages 2-3

Only One Exam—Then You’re on Your Own

Aug 2, 2004

The Medicare program for senior citizen health care has, up to now, not covered physical examinations. This has been a glaring (and expensive) weak spot, because early detection of disease is the most effective and economical approach.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decided that it will now, starting January 1, pay for ONE comprehensive physical, if it is done no later than six months after a senior’s first day of eligibility for Medicare.

An annual physical is the standard of care recommended by doctors for everyone. HHS may believe that suddenly at age 65, seniors will never develop any more health problems! But no one else is so foolish.

Does their one "comprehensive" exam include taking height and width measurements–for the pine box?

Corporations’ Cash Hoards Grow

Aug 2, 2004

On July 20 Microsoft Corporation announced that it was paying out a special dividend worth 32 billion dollars to its stockholders. Moreover, to boost Microsoft’s stock price, the company was going to buy back another 40 billion dollars worth of stock over the next four years. It’s nothing but an incredibly huge gift to some of the wealthiest people in the world.

Microsoft is able to pay out such vast sums of money because it has accumulated a huge cash hoard, currently pegged at about 54 billion dollars, and growing at a rate of about a billion dollars per month.

Microsoft is not the only company which is accumulating enormous amounts of cash. Five hundred of the biggest non-financial companies in the country have amassed an estimated 556 billion dollars in cash–or over half a trillion dollars. This is a record amount. These companies all have familiar, household names. ExxonMobil has 16 billion dollars in cash; Hewlett Packard has 15 billion dollars; Pfizer has 14 billion dollars; Intel has 13 billion dollars; Johnson and Johnson has 10.5 billion dollars.

This record accumulation comes from profits that are rising at record rates–plus the fact that the companies are not reinvesting these profits. In fact, the companies are doing the exact opposite, they are investing little and squeezing more and more work out of fewer and fewer workers–cutting the workers’ wages and benefits as well.

On the one hand, these companies are sitting on a growing mountain of cash, which they then funnel back to the capitalist class in one way or another. On the other hand, the working class is on a terrible treadmill, producing more while facing growing unemployment and poverty.

That is the way the capitalist system works when the workers don’t mobilize to protect themselves.

Higher Gasoline Prices—Higher Profits!

Aug 2, 2004

The oil companies just announced their most recent quarterly profits. It came as no surprise to see their profits increased substantially over the same time last year. Exxon-Mobil’s profits went up 39%. Shell’s profits increased 54%. Sunoco’s were 190% higher!

Of course their profits went up. Over this period, gasoline prices were over $2.00 per gallon, with the national average still at $1.90 per gallon.

This puts the lie to their claims that the high gas prices were caused by high crude oil prices. Clearly, the oil companies are not being squeezed by crude oil producers. Higher gasoline prices have nothing to do with the scarcity of oil and everything to do with the avarice of the oil companies.

Destruction of Poletown Ruled Illegal—23 Years Late!

Aug 2, 2004

In l981, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the city of Detroit could use its powers of "eminent domain" to seize thousands of homes and small businesses in Detroit’s Poletown area, tear them all down, and give the land to General Motors for a new auto assembly plant.

There was great resistance, organized and unorganized, by the community, but in the end the bulldozers came.

On July 29, 2004, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled–unanimously–to overturn the l981 decision. It’s "unconstitutional" for a government to seize someone’s private property in order to give it to another private party. So said the court.

That’s very interesting. Now will the court order the neighborhood replaced and rebuilt?

Michigan Democrats:
Bush’s Mirror Images

Aug 2, 2004

Michigan’s two most prominent Democratic officials spoke at the Democratic Party National Convention. Governor Jennifer Granholm and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick were hailed as up-and-coming Democratic stars. In their speeches, they attacked Bush for losing jobs and lowering the standard of living for workers. But what are they doing on their home turf? Cutting jobs and lowering workers’ standard of living!

The same week that Kilpatrick told delegates "the nation’s long-term success hinges on strengthening and creating high-paying jobs," his administration announced 1000 layoffs in the Department of Transportation. In every contract negotiation with city unions, the Mayor has demanded wage, benefit, and manpower concessions.

Governor Granholm told delegates, "American families are getting doubly squeezed. While income is down, expenses are up." She didn’t mention the proud part she has played in reducing the income of Michigan state employees by two hours’ pay every week. She didn’t mention how she took over from a Republican governor who had cut state workers and services to the bone–and then she cut some more: about 3000 more workers lost their jobs, and Michigan citizens all were hit with increased fees for many services such as motor vehicle registration and use of parks.

It’s true that workers have suffered mightily under the Bush administration. But the last thing workers need is more so-called friends like these "stars."

Business Has a Friend in John Kerry

Aug 2, 2004

John Kerry was interviewed for a cover story in Business Week on his economic viewpoint. Kerry wanted businesses to understand that he could be as good a friend for business as George Bush.

Kerry said he was one of the first Democrats to push for the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction act in 1985. That bill was the justification for Congress to cut spending on social programs, public services and education.

When asked about his promises to workers that he would tax corporations that take jobs overseas, Kerry said, "I am 100% in favor of companies going abroad to do business." Kerry insisted he only wants to tax corporations that set up headquarters offshore to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

When Business Week asked if Kerry would lower or raise rates on wealthy taxpayers. Kerry said, "I like low marginal [tax] rates. I voted for going down to the 28% and 14% brackets." At another point in the interview Kerry says directly, "I’m not going to tax the wealthy."

So now voters know exactly where Kerry stands–with the rest of the politicians making those who have the least pay the most, so the wealthy get a free ride.

The New California Budget:
The Big Rip-off Continues

Aug 2, 2004

After a month of supposed deadlock, California Republicans and Democrats announced an agreement on the 2004-2005 state budget. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says that since he promised "no cuts and no new taxes," he had only one choice: to borrow money–to be paid back in the future, with high interest rates and fees, of course. (According to the Los Angeles Times, California paid 231 million dollars to Wall Street firms on loans it took out just last year alone.)

Nonetheless, it’s a lie that there will be no cuts or tax increases. Local governments are supposed to "lend" the state 2.3 billion dollars over the next two years. This can only result in cuts to services and raises in fees at the local level. In addition, health care is to be further axed, with a major cut in Medi-Cal for the working poor. Medi-Cal stands to lose at least 400 million dollars next year. School districts are also facing a big cut of two billion dollars, meaning continued cuts in jobs, wages, classes and support services. Schwarzenegger also wants to withhold state workers’ raises that are already in the contracts–after several years of wage freezes.

In justifying these cuts, politicians of both parties told the usual lies–that they faced "tough choices" because there was "no money."

No money? In the fourth year of the "recovery"? When big corporations are bragging about record profits? When the average pay of the CEOs of the 500 biggest corporations went up 22% in 2003?

In fact, the main reason for the budget deficits, in California as well as other states, is the huge tax cuts and subsidies state governments have been giving to the big corporations for years. In California, the share of corporate income paid in taxes has fallen from over 9.5% in 1985 to just over 5% today. According to the research group, California Budget Project, tax cuts enacted by California have cost the state more than 50 billion dollars since 1991–over 25 billion alone since 2001, that is, when California supposedly ran out of money and into deficit.

No, there IS money, and there is plenty of it. It’s just that the politicians of both parties are not willing to go get the money where it is–to the rich–to "balance" their budget.

Pages 4-5

Drilling for Oil off the Coast of Cuba:
What Would the Oil Bring?

Aug 2, 2004

Oil companies have long suspected that off the coast of Cuba there could be substantial oil reserves–just as in a few other parts of the Gulf of Mexico.

Currently, off the coast of Cuba a large Spanish oil company, Repsol, has been drilling for oil in mile-deep waters. And a Canadian oil company, called Sherrit, is considering looking for oil in other regions near Cuba.

Now, wouldn’t you know it, U.S. oil companies are coming forward, saying they would like the U.S. government to rescind the sanctions that have strangled Cuba’s economy for the last 45 years. In other words, they want their chance to make big profits too.

Leading the charge is none other than Halliburton, the company that was once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney. John Gibson, current president of Halliburton’s energy services group, recently said that he favored lifting sanctions against Cuba, as well as Libya and Iran. Not for humanitarian reasons, of course: "There are foreign companies making money in those countries, and I think American companies should have a shot at those markets as well."

Might this lead to the U.S. lifting sanctions? Maybe. But if the Cuban people are hoping their oil reserves might lead to better living conditions, all they have to do is look to the last country Halliburton pushed to get into–Iraq.

Chavez Faces U.S.-backed Recall

Aug 2, 2004

After a year-long legal battle, Venezuelan courts last month allowed a recall referendum against President Hugo Chavez to go ahead. The vote is scheduled for August 15.

U.S. President George Bush called for an "honest and open" vote. He said that "for the credibility of the current government, they must welcome observers, and they must not interfere with the referendum process."

It’s ironic that these words should come from a man who himself became president under questionable circumstances, without actually winning the popular vote. By those standards, Chavez is certainly a more legitimate elected official than Bush is. Chavez has won two presidential elections, in 1998 and 2000, both times with a clear majority of the popular vote.

Venezuela is part of Latin America, however–what U.S. imperialism has long considered its "backyard." So Bush’s close interest in that country’s affairs is neither surprising nor anything new. In fact, this very referendum wouldn’t be happening if it hadn’t been pushed by the Bush administration.

The U.S. has been after Chavez practically from the day he was elected president. Bush backed a coup attempt against him in April 2002. Chavez survived it, thanks to masses of poor and working-class people who poured into the streets in support of him, and army officers who then remained loyal to him. Eight months later, the managers of the state-run oil industry organized a strike. Oil production, the country’s main source of income, stopped for two months. That’s when the Organization of American States (OAS), pushed forward by the U.S., forced Chavez to agree to a referendum campaign against him, even though his term ends in 2006.

Why is the U.S. after Chavez? From the beginning, Chavez showed the U.S. that he had every intention to continue the past relationship between the two countries. He has continued to make new contracts with U.S. oil companies. He has continued to sell Venezuela’s oil in the North American market.

But Chavez creates a problem, none the less, for the U.S. He has a popular base among the urban poor in shanty-towns and the poor peasants in the countryside. As part of maintaining his populist image, he has made defiant gestures against the U.S., such as striking a friendship with Cuba’s Fidel Castro and visiting Saddam Hussein when Bush was preparing to attack Iraq. He ordered the Venezuelan army to repel the U.S.-backed Colombian army, when the Colombians entered Venezuela in pursuit of Colombian rebels.

As a major supplier of oil to the U.S. market, Venezuela is important for U.S. corporations. Any act of independence on the part of the Venezuelan government, no matter how small or symbolic, can be intolerable to the U.S.–especially when the whole region is so explosive. Eighty% of the population lives below the poverty level and there is ongoing war in neighboring Colombia. So the U.S. wants to show all the governments in the region that it will not accept anything but complete submission.

Will Chavez survive the recall? Polls say that it’s likely. That would be no surprise, given that his opponents–the big bosses, oil executives fired by Chavez, some union bureaucrats and the Catholic Church–are almost as much at odds with each other as they are with Chavez.

If Chavez stays in power, however, it is certain that the U.S. will continue to target him. For the big bully has to show everyone on the block who’s the boss.

Afghanistan Medical Aid Workers Forced to Leave

Aug 2, 2004

The international aid organization, Doctors Without Borders, announced last week that it was withdrawing from Afghanistan. The withdrawal is a protest at the government’s lack of action on the grenade attack which killed five of the organization’s staff on June 2.

Since March of 2004, at least 44 foreign aid workers have been reported killed in Afghanistan. But, far more Afghanis have been killed than foreign aid workers, who have international agencies to protect them. The Afghan population has no way to avoid attacks from the various competing warlords or former Taliban, not to mention the bombs dropped by U.S. planes, or the raids carried out by heavily armed U.S. Special Forces troops.

The situation before the U.S. invasion was disastrous for the population. Now it is catastrophic. Doctors Without Borders had been doing aid work in Afghanistan for 24 years–during the Russian invasion, during the civil war which followed, and during the rule of the Taliban.

But Doctors Without Borders says actions by the U.S. military have now made the situation impossible for medical aid to be carried out. U.S. warplanes dropped leaflets in the countryside warning Afghanis that they must turn in opponents to the government if they wanted to receive aid, turning aid workers into targets, reinforcing the civil war going on.

Afghanistan is a situation spinning out of control, despite how little the U.S. press reports, unless they want to praise the U.S.-appointed president, Hamid Karzai. In fact, the presidential elections there have been delayed. Karzai has problems with his allies. His warlord partners are squabbling over who will control which parts of Afghanistan.

This is where the U.S. war has led–the war we never hear about.

Pages 6-7

One Year after the Great Power Blackout—Preparing for the Next One

Aug 2, 2004

It’s now been a year since the Great Power Blackout of 2003, the biggest in U.S. history. Starting on the afternoon of August 14, some 50 million people in eight states and the province of Ontario were suddenly without power for three days, most without clean drinking water, some without critical medical services, everyone without refrigeration, fans and air conditioning on some of the hottest days of the summer.

In the wave of political posturing that followed, all sorts of legislative proposals and recommendations to improve the electrical grid and avoid another massive power failure were made. Yet today, one year after the blackout, not one thing has been done. No new standards have been established to prevent this kind of snowballing failure. Government officials have failed to take even the rudimentary step of requiring all power generation and distribution companies to obey existing operational and safety standards–like clearing away trees near power transmission lines, one of the problems that started the Great Blackout of 2003!

At most big utility companies serving urban areas, the biggest change since the blackout is said to be the planning for the next one!

And that’s it.

The Detroit Free Press reports that industry officials believe more Americans will have to sweat in the dark before any real improvements are made in the electric power industry’s power grid. In other words–it will take another blackout or two to convince the population we need to accept much higher electrical rates.

This is nothing but outright extortion.

History We All Need to Know

Aug 2, 2004

There is an exhibit on lynching at the African-American Museum in Detroit. Its images are shocking and abhorrent–but they need to be seen because they show in the most clear way the terrorism that was carried out against the black population of this country.

What is often not told is how it really started. Lynching was first organized as one of the terrorist means to stop a mobilization of laboring people in the South. During Reconstruction following the Civil War, freed black slaves and poor whites established new communities, organized state governments, sent representatives to Congress. But their real and lasting accomplishment was the establishment of free public schools open to all children. It was the first time anywhere in this country that public schools were widely organized–the first time that the children of poor working people, black or white, had the chance for a formal education.

The former slave-holders set up terrorist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan and the White Leagues to destroy this mobilization of the poor, recapturing the governments of the Southern states. Once back in power, they imposed a new form of slavery–share-cropping–on the poor.

The Klan and lynching surged up again when populist movements of poor farmers and sharecroppers, black and white, developed at the end of the 1800s and early 1900s–and then again in the 1930s with the attempts to organize unions in the South.

Although white organizers of these movements were also lynched, it was the black population that suffered the most virulent attacks. The racism fomented in the poor white population–another weapon used by the wealthy to break the mobilization of the poor laboring people–ended up making any black person a target of violence. Almost every black family today knows of someone in their own background, a family member or friend of an earlier generation, who was lynched.

This violence and hatred has left a legacy of racism that still exists today. Both black and white workers have reason to try to understand it and make sure it never happens again.

The exhibit focuses mostly on the 20th century, given the lack of photographs from earlier years. But it nonetheless gives a sense of this history. The exhibit continues until February 27, 2005.

Record Numbers under Control of the "Injustice" System

Aug 2, 2004

There were a record 6.9 million adults incarcerated, on probation or on parole last year in the United States. That is over three% of the adult population in the U.S.–the highest rate of incarceration of any country in the world.

The huge rise in the prison population is one of the casualties that has come after decades of job losses. While some people are forced to take lower paying jobs, others are simply pushed aside. Some, especially among young people, have never held a regular job. They are forced to make a living any way they can. And some turn to the streets and crime.

Eventually, many wind up in prison, only to discover they are now put to work on the same kind of jobs they couldn’t get on the outside–but for little or no money.

Prison labor has become big business in this country. In 2002, over 70,000 prisoners in the U.S. produced goods and services worth over 1.5 billion dollars. The numbers have increased rapidly since then.

Prisoners represent a cheap and literally captive workforce for the many corporations who use them. They are paid much less than minimum wage, with much of their pay taken by the state. They get no vacations, are often made to work long hours, and cannot unionize. They are often harshly punished for complaining about working conditions.

Social movements, like the workers’ movement of the 1930s, had for a period forced the U.S. government to restrict the use of prison labor. Laws passed in 1935 and 1940 outlawed interstate trade in convict-made goods and set limits on the size of federal contracts involving prison labor. Those laws were repealed in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, with the "Justice System Improvement Act."

Yes, people in prison should have the right to a job–with the same wages that are paid outside. They should be given the training a job can provide.

As for the claim that prison labor as it’s practiced today is a way to rehabilitate someone–that’s a vile lie. It’s a way to provide super profits for companies that get cheap labor.

Prison labor as it is today is nothing but the mark of a society going backward in time. It is like the period of the poor houses in England, which were supposed to provide a form of welfare, but really were a way to force people to work for very low wages.

No Wonder He Wanted to Build Schools!

Aug 2, 2004

Richard Thompson is the man who offered 200 million dollars last year to build 15 charter schools in Detroit. When there was an outcry against this attack on public schools, he took his money and went home.

How DOES he make his money, anyway? Through construction!

Thompson is a former owner or partner of several concrete and asphalt paving companies. He just recently got back into the concrete business, buying two companies.

Interestingly enough, this came right at the time that he began talks with Detroit Renaissance Inc., a council of Detroit area CEO’s, trying to push his charter school proposal.

It’s plain to see now what he hopes to gain by his "generous offer" to build those schools: first, he’d get a big tax break from his "donation"; and then he’d get the money back in construction contracts!

Detroit Public Schools Contract with Inflexion:
How Does This Happen?

Aug 2, 2004

Last month, Inflexion Communications, a little known Internet phone company based in Detroit, announced it had won a contract with the Detroit Public School district to supply local phone service to all its schools and other buildings. The contract will be paid through E-rate, a government fund supposedly created to wire schools for access to the Internet. It is the "largest E-rate voice services contract ever awarded," according to Dwayne Goldsmith, Inflexion’s CEO.

Why would the 11th largest school district in the country hand such a large contract, covering 17,000 phones and other services, to a brand-new start-up–an unknown company with no track record or experience on such a large scale?

The answer can probably be found when we find out who at Inflexion knows someone on the Detroit School Board!

Metro Detroit Bus Systems Fail Disabled

Aug 2, 2004

DDOT (in the city of Detroit) and SMART (in the suburbs) have recently been cited or sued for a number of failures concerning the disabled.

Almost 20% of Metro Detroit’s 4.2 million residents qualify as disabled. And most of them rely heavily on public transportation to get around.

Many have no other option than the buses. As anyone who depends on buses to hold down a job knows, the two Metro Detroit systems are unreliable. Almost half the buses’ wheelchair lifts or ramps are broken and can’t be used. Some riders have reported having to let three or four buses pass them by before finding one with a working lift or ramp.

Door-to-door bus service has been cut back, leaving more people relying on connector bus systems which take disabled riders from their homes to regular bus stops. But the connector buses are often several hours late–if they come at all.

Some communities in the Detroit area are not included in the SMART system–and this leaves everyone in these communities without any public means of transportation.

The problems are not new. But they have gotten worse as the state of Michigan continues to CUT funding to local communities for their bus systems.

Even now, with the bus systems being sued, the Michigan legislature is still considering bills to cut public transport funding even more. Of course, the politicians say they don’t have the money. At the same time, they continue to expand tax breaks to corporations.

Cities like Detroit have done the same thing–give corporations big tax breaks, even while they complain that they have no money to continue basic services for people in the cities. DDOT just laid off over one hundred workers–which means the problems will get worse, not better.

The state of public transportation in the Metro area is a scandal. The current spotlight put on the system because of the recent suits simply highlights a problem that the whole working class shares, whether or not we usually use a bus.

Government has a responsibility to provide basic services for the whole population–and especially for its most vulnerable parts.

A government that doesn’t do this has no reason to exist.

Page 8

Sending Grandfathers to Die in Iraq

Aug 2, 2004

Almost as many U.S. soldiers age 50 and over have died in Iraq as died in the entire Korean War–and the Iraq war isn’t nearly over. Soldiers old enough to be grandfathers die in Iraq at 10 times the rate as their age group died all during Viet Nam.

Of the 275,000 GIs in or readying for Iraq and Afghanistan, about 5,570 are age 50-plus. Nearly all are Guard and Reserve, "weekend warriors."

Lies, politicians’ lies, send all these soldiers into harm’s way. It’s not only the past lies about weapons of mass destruction and about Saddam Hussein’s connections to Al Qaeda. It’s the lie being laid down right now by Democrats and Republicans alike: that the war will wind down sometime soon; that the war is going to go away–and the voters don’t need to worry.

By sending in even the oldest National Guard and Reserve troops, the politicians are scraping the bottom of one barrel–ready manpower–in order to avoid pulling the lid off another barrel: to avoid letting the public see the real scale, the real costs, and the real plans for continuing major warfare in Iraq. To cover up the real news, at least until November 3–the day after the election.

The occupation is not going well. Big areas of Iraq are out of control. U.S. troops are reduced to staying in bases–and even the bases come under fire. The population of Iraq is set on removing the U.S. from their country. In order to impose U.S. domination over Iraq’s oil, whoever is elected will send in many more troops–an overwhelming occupation force.

But as Bush and Kerry both understand, the population of the U.S.–which has to supply the troops, and the money–is not very happy about this war. If continuing the war re-emerges as a big public issue during the presidential campaign, both candidates will have their problems.

So Kerry says he will "bring the troops home"–even while promising to increase overall troop strength by 30,000. One statement is to fool voters; the other is to reassure the ruling class he will continue the war. If Kerry intended to bring the troops home, he wouldn’t need extra troops waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, Bush says he opposes increasing troop strength–even while he is doing it.

As shown by the recent 96-0 unanimous–and very quiet–Senate vote to pass the Bush administration’s new funding request for the Pentagon, both the Democratic and the Republican parties agree on one thing: they intend for the war to go on and they agree to be secretive about it.

Kerry Will Continue War—On Iraq and on Us

Aug 2, 2004

In his acceptance speech, John Kerry accused President Bush of misleading the country into a war with Iraq, falsely claiming there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq when there weren’t. Implicitly Kerry accused Bush of taking the country into a war without real justification.

What conclusions should be drawn? Number one: propose to take U.S. troops back out of Iraq. Number two: arrange to compensate the people of Iraq for all the damage created in their country. On January 21, the day after taking office, Kerry would issue an order to start the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, and another order to transfer the needed funds–without strings–to every Iraqi city, every village, every neighborhood, every family who had been harmed because the U.S. attacked and invaded Iraq, creating the current mess.

Did anyone hear Kerry make such proposals in his acceptance speech? No, not at all! In fact, Kerry presented himself as someone who would be a "strong leader," ready to continue the war. To make that point perfectly clear, the Democrats paraded former generals and admirals out on the platform to praise Kerry’s military credentials, showing films of his time in Viet Nam. Kerry even showed up at the convention in a power boat, surrounded by ex-sailors he had spent some time with in Viet Nam.

The convention itself and his speech were filled with the kind of patriotic references that fill the media during wartime.

Kerry is not proposing to wind down the war. He’s proposing to rev it up. And so what if he says he will bring other countries in, so that U.S. troops are not the only ones to die. The Iraqi people would still be dying, no matter whose hands are on the guns the U.S. supplies. In reality, so will U.S. troops be dying–as is shown by Kerry’s proposal to immediately authorize 40,000 additional manpower for the armed forces.

Voting for Kerry is not a way to repudiate the war that George Bush started. It’s only a way to put another stamp of approval on it.

This is a war the working people of this country, in their big majority, never wanted. It’s a war that sickens most of us today. Voting for either George Bush or John Kerry will only let the one who wins say that he has been given the country’s approval to continue the war.

Vote for neither of the warmongers!

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