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. 813 — January 7 - 21, 2008

Editorial:
Unemployment, housing crisis
– insanity on top of insanity

Jan 7, 2008

The U.S. Labor Department announced a big increase in the official unemployment rate, to 5% in December. Job cuts were all across the board, in manufacturing, the construction of residential and commercial buildings and financial services. Stores even laid off tens of thousands of retail workers – right in the middle of the big holiday rush.

For the last five years, politicians and economists alike had trumpeted the supposed strength of the U.S. economic recovery and the growth in jobs. This was always a lie. But now it is becoming truly grotesque and hideous.

Currently, official statistics show that there are more than 17 million workers who are either unemployed or underemployed. That is almost equal to the entire population of New York State. And everyone knows that the official statistics deliberately don’t count a big number of unemployed workers.

This human catastrophe is what the apologists for big capital tell us is “low” unemployment!

Of course, the capitalists did create some jobs. But what jobs they were! Most were part-time or temporary, which didn’t pay much of anything and didn’t last long. The capitalists also expanded the number of so-called “independent contractors” – a legal fiction – who are paid no benefits, not even Social Security, unemployment or disability insurance.

Job growth was so small it did not even keep up with the growth of the population. Thus, the share of the population that was actually employed fell. Increasing numbers became part of the underground economy, working under the table or depending on little schemes, which of course sometimes meant criminal activity or simply begging out on street corners. In other words, millions more people were driven to the kinds of destitution that one finds in underdeveloped countries around the globe.

Over the last five years, the capitalists invested very little in new production. But companies did recycle their profits back into the pockets of their top investors and executives through higher dividends and stock buy backs and executive bonuses and stock options.

Banks, financial companies, insurance companies and real estate developers fed the biggest housing and commercial real estate bubbles in history. There was rampant speculation on basic commodities, from oil to precious metals to wheat, corn and rice. Companies bought and sold each other in a merger and acquisition boom of historic proportions, a boom that drove up the price of company stocks.

All of this was funded by a stupendous increase in debt of all kinds, trillions of dollars of debt, debt that itself was speculated on, that is, repackaged and bought and sold, over and over again, each time at higher prices.

Now the speculative bubbles have burst, leading to the freezing of debt and credit markets worldwide. Not only are millions of people being tossed out of their homes, but countless numbers of workers and employees are losing their jobs. And these job cuts are beginning to spread, feeding on themselves. More downsizing is just around the corner in what could turn out to be a vicious downward economic cycle.

This is what capitalism has to offer working people. During the so-called good times, tens of millions are either unemployed or are barely employed. When the crisis hits, they are joined by tens of millions more.

All so that a tiny minority of capitalists can become ever richer.

What insanity!

Pages 2-3

Companies buy back their stock

Jan 7, 2008

Standard & Poor’s, the Wall Street analysts, just reported that the biggest U.S. companies paid out 1.32 trillion dollars over the last three years to buy up their own stock. They spent less than that – 1.28 trillion dollars – in new investment. Standard & Poor’s also noted that the total these companies spent on stock buybacks was bigger than the total budget for medical insurance in the whole United States for the year.

By buying back and destroying a part of their stock, companies give their remaining stockholders more of their future profits. But the stockholders who sell their stock usually get an extra payment – plus pay less in taxes than they would have to pay on cash dividends.

But whether the company buys up the stock or issues a big dividend, the fortune of the stockholders increases without any new riches being created.

Nonetheless, the apologists for capitalism pretend that increasing the wealth of this capitalist class increases the wealth of society. But for years now, the opposite has been true. The capitalist class grows richer by pushing the rest of society down.

A record CEO bonus

Jan 7, 2008

Lloyd Blankfein, the CEO of investment bank Goldman Sachs, got a record year-end bonus of 68 million dollars. That’s what the average worker in this country would make ... if they could work for 2,158 years!

Blankfein got his bonus because Goldman Sachs was able to declare an 11.6 billion dollar profit in 2007 despite the “subprime” crisis. Goldman Sachs bragged that, unlike its competitors, it understood that bonds based on risky subprime mortgages were going to decline sharply.

That’s not quite the whole story. While Goldman Sachs speculated on the fall of these bond prices, selling off what it held in its own accounts, it continued to buy them for its clients – stiffing them on the deal!

No honor among thieves!

Attacking immigrants to divide and rule the whole working class

Jan 7, 2008

On January 1, a new Arizona law passed by Democrats and Republicans alike was supposed to take effect, making it illegal for bosses to “knowingly” hire immigrants without papers.

Today, every facet of workers’ lives – wages, hours, working conditions, medical care and benefits, pensions, job security, cost of living – every facet is under concerted attack from the entire corporate world.

But – according to the politicians – “legal” workers are supposed to blame all their problems on “illegal” workers.

When workers are killed in coal mines cited over and over for safety violations, where were these same politicians? Helping the mine owners hide! When a construction scaffold breaks, or a trench caves in, and workers are killed, where are the politicians? Helping the boss hide so he can get more work out the next day!

When the working poor need a big increase in the minimum wage, where are the politicians? Putting every increase off as long as possible and then granting pennies when dollars are needed! When workers’ children need regular ordinary medical care, where are the politicians? Protecting the drug companies and the big for-profit hospitals.

If the politicians did nothing but strictly enforce the existing labor laws – as weak as they are – applying to wages, hours and working conditions, then the bosses would need to hire many more workers, more than all those unemployed today.

Instead, the politicians do the bosses’ dirty work, trying to divide the working class, while pretending to be the friend of some of the workers. Two-faced to the core!

Wall Street’s rip-off of students

Jan 7, 2008

In the coming year, college students are going to find it a lot harder to pay their sky-high costs. And their only alternative to pay those costs, private loans, are drying up because some of the biggest companies that provide loans are in financial hot water.

In many ways, the student loan business resembles the housing and mortgage scams. As colleges and universities hiked their tuition and fees into the tens of thousands of dollars per year, the only alternative for many students was to take out enormous college loans. Students were saddled with unspeakable amounts of debt once they left school, debts that were a source of enormous profit for the lenders – and the biggest banks behind the lenders.

In other words, the student loan business became an enormous rip-off, just like the mortgage business. The biggest student loan company, Sallie Mae, both originated the loans and then bundled them up into financial securities. Sallie Mae then sold these securities to big investors. These securities were highly prized, not only because the student loans carried high interest rates, but because the loans were also guaranteed by the federal government – a no-lose investment, to say the least. So investors bought and sold these securities in a speculative frenzy.

The profits from its student loan business fueled the vertical lift-off of Sallie Mae’s stock price, which quadrupled from 1997 to 2005. James Lord, the CEO, who was granted millions of shares of company stock, went into partial retirement, with ambitious plans to build a 30-million dollar golf course in Maryland’s Anne Arundel County for his own private use and to buy a major league baseball team. In April, Sallie Mae’s fortunes peaked when it announced that it was going to sell itself for 25 billion dollars to a private buyout group.

Then in August the mortgage crisis hit and froze up all the other financial markets – including the funding of student loans. Sallie Mae’s deal to sell itself fell through, and Sallie Mae could no longer get funding, or could not sell off its securities. Just like all those mortgage companies and banks in the housing business, Sallie Mae, which had looked to be so profitable only months before, suddenly deflated like an old balloon. Sallie Mae is now in danger of being gobbled up or dismembered by other big financial companies and so-called vulture funds – which can only mean that student loans will become more expensive.

Thus, students pay... and pay... and pay – for Wall Street’s profits and crises, just like homeowners. And of course, this hits the students from the working class and lower middle class the hardest, since they are the ones who most depend on student loans.

Ripping up any promises for retiree health care

Jan 7, 2008

At the end of December, the Equal Opportunity Commission issued a new regulation, allowing all employers to reduce or eliminate health care benefits for retirees when they turn 65! The AFL-CIO applauded this ruling, agreeing that employers need to be relieved of the “enormous cost pressures on employer-sponsored health benefits.” And this in a time when profits made by the whole capitalist class are bigger than ever before!

What garbage. Bad enough that UAW leaders partnered with the Big 3 to gut retired autoworkers’ health care. The biggest union federation helped do the same thing to the whole working class – in the name of helping the bosses!

In any earlier period of capitalism, workers were thrown out on the trash heap when they could no longer keep up with the pace of work. No pension, no retirement benefits.

Is this what the situation is coming to? It certainly looks like it. Social benefits, won over the years by the workers’ struggles, are being dismantled right and left. And top union officials are helping do the dirty work.

No organization that really represented the interests of the workers would help turn the clock back like this.

In responding to these attacks, the workers can find the way to fight much like those in the 1930s did – and in so doing rebuild their unions or build new ones.

Panic in the economic and financial markets

Jan 7, 2008

On December 18,the central banks of the main capitalist countries were forced to put hundreds of billions of dollars at the disposition of the regular banks in their own countries. The European Central Bank announced that this was only a beginning, that it was prepared to extend credit to the banks without limit. In other words, in the midst of a financial panic, government-run central banks are running an indirect bail-out operation.

The current financial crisis, the direct consequence of the collapse in the U.S. subprime mortgage market, continues to weaken the entire world financial system. The big Wall Street banks, no longer trusting one another, refuse to lend each other money, though this is the basis of their activity. As a result, the international financial system is threatened with paralysis. If this crisis of confidence continues to spread, and if the investors who deposited money in the biggest banks demand to be reimbursed, the banking system can collapse.

Since last August, financial markets and stock exchanges throughout the world have been wildly fluctuating. This only shows that the stock exchanges, supposedly the market places where stocks are simply bought and sold, have become the center of generalized speculation, particularly financial speculation.

In order to avoid panic, governments are today trying to reassure the middle and small bourgeois. They fear a generalized crisis.

For decades now – in fact since the middle of the 1970s – the whole world capitalist system has been in crisis, open or latent. The basis of profit for the capitalists is and remains the exploitation of human labor within the framework of the cycle of production of goods. But for years, the production cycle hasn’t brought in enough profit to satisfy stockholders. Thus, the capitalists have placed most of their profits into the financial markets, instead of more production, searching for greater returns. This has transformed the financial markets into uncontrollable giants.

The collapse of the U.S. real estate market is the latest manifestation of uncontrolled speculation. And the crisis of confidence it reveals goes well beyond previous crises. It can very well lead to an explosion in the entire world’s economic system. This system rests on the necessary confidence in the exchange of all those financial instruments, which daily circulate throughout the world. If the system severely seizes up, all these exchanges can stop and the world could enter the greatest economic crisis of its history. By comparison, the crisis of 1929 would appear very small.

This whole economic system, based on profit, is rotten to its core. It can’t be reformed. It’s urgently necessary to change it.

Pages 4-5

Pakistan:
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto

Jan 7, 2008

On December 27, Benazir Bhutto, the leader of the Popular Party of Pakistan (PPP), was assassinated in a suburb of Islamabad during a campaign rally. A bomb was subsequently set off, killing the bomber and 20 other people.

Benazir Bhutto had been prime minister from 1988 to 1990 and again from 1993 to 1996. She was the first woman elected as the head of a Muslim country. But her two mandates ended in her removal under charges of corruption.

To avoid legal pursuit, she went into exile in London in 1998. But with the dictatorship of General Pervez Musharraf crumbling, the United States and Great Britain pushed Musharraf to form a unity government with Bhutto. Musharraf granted her amnesty. She returned to her country in mid-October, escaping the first attempt on her life, which left 135 others dead. While campaigning to win the January 2008 election Benazir Bhutto was killed.

For over 40 years, the Pakistani state has been in crisis. Long periods of military dictatorship have contributed to the deterioration of the political situation, but the crisis flows from U.S. policies since the birth of Pakistan. All its leaders – whether civilian or military – have always acted in agreement with various American administrations.

The nuclear program, for example, was launched by the father of Benazir Bhutto, Ali Bhutto, and developed further during the dictatorship of General Muhammad Zia, with the help of the U.S.

Pakistan served as the rear base for the Islamic fighters who during the 1980s attacked first the existing government of Afghanistan, then Soviet troops who went into Afghanistan. At the time, the United States aided Bin Laden and the future Taliban to construct their network. U.S. policy was to fight what Reagan called “ the Evil Empire,” that is, the Soviet Union. Aiding the Islamic fighters against the Soviet Union was considered a good move in this war.

In the 1990s, Pakistan gave logistical support to the Taliban as they took over Afghanistan. The U.S. considered Bin Laden and the Taliban better than the secular allies of the Soviet Union.

September 11 and its aftermath forced a revision of U.S. policy in the region. But the policy led by the Bush administration in the rest of the Middle East – supporting Israel unconditionally against the Palestinians and its own armed intervention and military occupation of Iraq and of Afghanistan – heightened the exasperation of the popular masses, thus sowing the ground on which the Islamic fundamentalists prosper.

No matter what happened, Washington kept its direct relationship with the Pakistani army. This army has to give an account to Washington each month about the situation on the Pakistan-Afghan border. After the recent state of siege, the Bush administration demanded that elections be held in Pakistan no matter what the cost – no matter that a part of the population refused to participate, that the judicial situation was paralyzed, that high officials were put into prison, that the media was censored and that political leaders were put under house arrest. For Benazir Bhutto, the decision to follow the policy proposed by Washington and to participate in the elections cost her life.

The death of Benazir Bhutto is a serious check for the U.S. government’s hopes to give the dictatorship of Musharraf a new face. The young son of this assassinated leader agreed to succeed his mother, but one does not inherit political influence as easily as a financial fortune.

In the meantime, Washington has no other choice but to continue to count on the Pakistani army, although it too is permeated by Islamic influence. The United States may be tempted to push Musharraf aside, given that he is discredited, and to replace him with another military leader. But what will this accomplish?

The U.S. today is paying the cost of its previous policies – policies that have worsened the situation of hundreds of millions of people throughout the Middle East.

Ending slavery in the United States

Jan 7, 2008

Two hundred years ago, on January 1, 1808, the importation of slaves into the United States was made illegal. The law of 1808 originated in the competing interests among American colonialists and European merchants and royalty, all of whom had been profiting from the slave trade for centuries.

At the time of the French Revolution in 1789, Santo Domingo, or the French West Indies, was the largest single slave market in the world. This slave system provided two-thirds of French overseas trade, enriching French planters, merchants and nobles.

The slave trade had not only brought riches to the growing French bourgeoisie. In earlier years, the slave trade had provided riches to the British crown and British merchants, as well as Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch royalty and merchants. It was the means by which Northern merchants and bankers in what would become the United States accumulated their first large amounts of capital. And it would become the basis of fortunes made on Southern plantations of the new United States. The development of capitalism over two centuries was based on the vast market of misery that was the African slave trade.

The system of slavery was then enshrined in the Great Compromise between Northern merchants and Southern slave holders in the U.S. Constitution.

In the 1790 census, the U.S. already had some 700,000 black slaves – most of whom were concentrated in the South (slavery was still legal in most Northern states well into the 19th century). In a country with a large frontier and plentiful land, this was the cheapest way the Southern plantation holders could keep labor on their vast holdings for the cultivation of such cash crops as cotton, sugar and rice. But slavery never took hold in the North because the expenses to maintain, import and control slaves were too great and impractical to produce for trade compared to the system of small independent farmers of the North. Of course, the Northern merchants and bankers did not at all challenge slavery, since they continued to extract big profits from it.

The Slaves Themselves Challenge Slavery

The very real fear of slave uprisings in South Carolina, Georgia and the West Indies led to extremely harsh laws, a veritable reign of terror against black slaves. Already in the 1730s, there were known slave uprisings in the British colonies. By 1750, an estimated 3,000 black slaves had fled to the mountains of Santo Domingo from French plantations. They were known fearfully by the planters as the maroons. In their ceremonies, the former slaves sang: “We swear to destroy the whites and all they possess.”

A young slave in Santo Domingo, Toussaint L’Ouverture, would lead an army of slaves against the armies of France, Britain, the Spanish and later Napoleon in a 12-year-long struggle, from 1791 to 1803.

The struggle in Santo Domingo struck fear among slaveholders and the wealthy not only there or throughout the Caribbean. Their uprising was known throughout the Americas, including widely among U.S. slaves. And these slave victories led to the creation of an independent nation on Santo Domingo.

But the emerging Northern bourgeoisie could see the reason, if not to end slavery, at least to prevent its further expansion. Having accumulated enormous capital from the slave trade, the Northern merchants developed other investments. They no longer depended on slavery as did the Southern plantation owners. They could see what had happened in Santo Domingo. Perhaps that uprising was in their minds when the U.S. Congress passed a law to prohibit the importation of slaves in March of 1807. It made the slave trade illegal starting January 1, 1808.

This law cut off the South’s plantation system from a supply of fresh slaves. Of course the law did not end the importation of slaves into the U.S.; it simply drove the practice underground. And Southern planters increased their labor supply by the forced breeding of slaves, rather than by importing new ones. For the slaves, the conditions were even more barbaric, since it meant the break-up of families and the taking of very young children from their mothers.

In the first half of the 1800s, the issue of slavery impacted all the politics of both the United States and the Caribbean. In the Southern U.S. states, almost three million black men, women and children were forced to produce cotton, rice, tobacco and indigo, while enslaved.

U.S. Slave Revolts and the Civil War

Numerous laws were enacted concerning the recovery of runaway slaves. But there was also severe punishment for any attempt at rebellion or act of defiance. Nonetheless, there was a long history of rebellion by slaves against their slave masters. In 1800, one thousand slaves met outside Richmond to storm the city. Denmark Vesey, a freed slave, set a summer’s day in August 1822 for his uprising to end slavery. Nat Turner’s 1831 uprising in Virginia left great fear in the hearts of many defenders of slavery.

It was against this background that the U.S. Civil War was fought.

In the decades preceding the Civil War, the Northern bourgeoisie had not really challenged slavery. However, the interests of the Northern bourgeoisie and the Southern slaveholders began to clash, first as the slaveholders tried to extend slavery to the Western region, and as the Southern slave economy established tighter ties with British industry and finance.

But as industry in the North rapidly increased, along with a much greater growth of the Northern population, the weight of the Southern slaveholders gradually eroded. For the slaveholders, the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln, of the new party of the Northern bourgeoisie, the Republican Party, was the last straw. In 1861, as soon as Lincoln assumed office, the southern states seceded from the union, beginning the Civil War.

Lincoln made clear that the federal government was not fighting the Civil War in order to free the slaves, but only to preserve the union. In the first year of the war, though, the problem that Lincoln confronted was that chances for a military victory were greatly reduced – unless the slaves were freed. A certain part of the Northern bourgeoisie and the Northern state apparatus opposed doing it. So, Lincoln didn’t even put it up for formal discussion. In the fall of 1862, he issued an executive proclamation ending slavery on January 1, 1863 – thus striking a blow against the South by encouraging an important part of its labor force to pick up and leave. Former slaves not only left, they buttressed the Northern army in every capacity.

Reconstruction and Segregation

When the Civil War and legal slavery were ended, the old defeated slaveholders came right back again and tried to reimpose bondage on the freed slaves through the terror of the Ku Klux Klan. To defend themselves, and to fight for their own goals, the freed slaves organized an enormous mass movement that encompassed a large section of the poor white farmers as well. They were the driving force in the period of Reconstruction. For a few years, the Northern bourgeoisie supported this movement, because it was a way to break the power of the old slaveholding class. But once the Northern bourgeoisie put its own people in place in the South, assuring their own domination, they withdrew their support for Reconstruction, initiating a new period of terror against black people that culminated in the establishment of a system of racist segregation known as Jim Crow, a new form of bondage. Underlying this segregation was the concentration of most of the black population as sharecroppers in the South. Segregation also was used to divide and weaken the rising and rebellious working class.

Civil Rights

It took yet another social movement for black people to ensure that U.S. laws were at least formally equal for all U.S. citizens. The fights begun after the Second World War by many Southern black G.I.s led to what we call the Civil Rights Movement. A more than 25-year struggle of thousands and millions of black people was required just to enforce the laws that already existed.

The anniversary of the ending of the slave trade is a reminder that slavery in the U.S. and throughout Europe was ended first by the struggles of black slaves themselves. They also fought throughout the years leading up to and during the U.S. Civil War. None of their victories came as a “gift” from the political rulers of the time: their victories came from their own fierce efforts.

Doing away with four centuries of injustice toward black people in the United States will require yet another long, hard struggle, taking on the very system built on the slave trade and on the backs of the slaves and their descendants.

Pages 6-7

Take Delphi bankrupt, claim an 8.3 million dollar bonus!

Jan 7, 2008

Delphi hired R.S. “Steve” Miller in 2005 to take it into bankruptcy, as a ploy to reduce labor costs to nearly nothing.

Mission accomplished, Delphi now wants to award Miller an 8.3 million dollar cash bonus when it soon leaves bankruptcy. And award Miller’s CEO R. O’Neal with 5.3 million as well!

Miller said he would “unlock value.” He meant, he would take whatever the workers would give up, and lock it up in his own pocket!

Movie review:
The Great Debaters

Jan 7, 2008

The Great Debaters, a movie directed by and starring Denzel Washington, is currently playing in theaters. The film was produced by Oprah Winfrey, and also stars Forrest Whitaker.

The film, based on a true story, provides a realistic picture of racism under Jim Crow in the South during the 1930s and the beginnings of the black movement to oppose it. Washington plays Melvin Tolson, a professor and debate coach at Wiley College, a black school in Marshall, Texas. Tolson selects four young students for the debate team and demands the best from them. One of the students is a young James Farmer, Jr., who went on in real life to organize the Congress of Racial Equality. Whitaker plays his father, James Farmer, Sr., a minister and the school president.

The movie dramatically portrays the violence and ever present humiliation of life under Jim Crow. When Farmer, Sr. accidentally hits a pig with his car during a family outing, white farmers humiliate him in front of his family, making him apologize and pay an exorbitant price to reimburse them for the pig. Later, on their way to a debate against another college, Tolson and the students stumble upon a night time lynching and are lucky to escape from the racist mob.

The film also offers a glimpse of the Communist Party's organizing efforts in the South during that period. James Farmer, Jr. accidentally discovers one night that Tolson, besides teaching and coaching the debate team, is also an organizer for the sharecroppers' union. The Communist Party was a moving force in the Southern Tenants Farmers' Union in the 1930s. When Tolson is later arrested for being involved in Communist activities, the sharecroppers march to town and force the sheriff to release him. One of the students, under pressure from his family, quits the debate team when Tolson refuses to deny his political ties.

The debate team gains attention through its victories in competition and is invited to debate at Harvard (in the film). In reality, it was the University of Southern California. The topic chosen for the debate is the morality of civil disobedience versus the rule of law. In defense of civil disobedience, James Farmer, Jr. warns a national audience listening over the radio, " ... I have a right, even a duty to resist with violence or civil disobedience. You should pray I choose the latter."

For decades, black organizations did choose civil disobedience to break down Jim Crow. But the laws that relegated the black population to an inferior status were not thrown out until people went massively into the streets, meeting violence with violence. Only after black people in Birmingham stood up in great numbers to Bull Connor's dogs and fire hoses, only after people went into the streets in places like Jackson, Mississippi, Harlem, Watts, Newark, Detroit, Washington and hundreds of other cities, did the black movement free itself from the degradation of Jim Crow and force the state apparatus – from the lowliest Southern sheriff on up to the White House – to recognize their demands.

The Great Debaters gives a sense of the terror the black population faced in trying to break down Jim Crow and the courage of people who resisted. It is well worth seeing.

Michigan State magic trick:
First a deficit, then a surplus!

Jan 7, 2008

Just a couple months ago, the Michigan state government claimed a budget deficit in order to force a wage freeze and benefit cuts on its workers and cuts in services and tax hikes on its population.

Now, they “discover” that they didn’t have a budget deficit last year at all – they had a surplus!

It’s amazing how the bottom line can change to suit their needs. Enron has nothing on them!

Death by utility company

Jan 7, 2008

A 90-year-old woman was found dead of pneumonia near Kalamazoo, Michigan after her heat was cut off by her utility company in December. Her 63-year-old mentally disabled daughter lived, but suffered injuries related to frostbite and exposure.

The utility company, Indiana Michigan Power – a subsidiary of an Ohio company – is trying to avoid responsibility for the woman’s death. But behind all their claims of innocence is this stark fact: the only person who could contradict their claims is no longer around to protest. She’s dead.

It’s obvious that the company does not have policies in place that prevent shutoff from harming people during winter. If they had, this woman would not be dead.

Utilities that provide the very necessities of life – heat and electricity – are owned privately. In a system where the chase after profit is king, they exist not for the public good, but for private benefit. A death of an elderly woman is one consequence.

Page 8

Gallery of Rogues:
What the candidates say about the Iraq war and the economy

Jan 7, 2008

Hillary Clinton:

On the Iraq War

“It is time to begin ending this war – not next year, not next month – but today.”

But completing the process is apparently going to take quite a while – until 2013, according to Clinton, to get even half of all U.S. troops out of the country!

On the economy

“We need to rebuild the middle class.”

How? Clinton proposes more tax breaks for the corporations. This was Bush’s program and it’s helped destroy the “middle class.”

Barack Obama:

On the Iraq war

“What we’ve seen is a distraction from the battles that deal with al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”

Nice way to prepare people for the next war he wants U.S. troops to fight, not end this one.

On the economy

Like Clinton, Obama proposes more tax breaks to the corporations. This does not create more jobs or income for ordinary people.

John Edwards:

On the Iraq war

“I made a mistake,” (when he voted to authorize the invasion).

He shouldn’t have. Many other people saw through Bush’s lies from the start. Why didn’t he?

On the economy

“Don’t get me wrong – it is a good thing that some Americans are doing well.”

Like Republican Huckabee, Edwards says he would like working people to be rewarded for their hard work. But also like Huckabee, he isn’t ready to say that corporations and the wealthy are going to have to give back to working people some of the wealth they have stolen from them.

Mitt Romney:

On the Iraq war

“I think we’re going to know in a matter of months if it (Bush’s troop surge) is working or it’s not working.”

He said this back in May. Thousands more Iraqi’s have since died. More than 4 million have now been driven from their homes, the majority of them since the surge began. More U.S. troops died in Iraq in 2007 than in any year since the invasion. And this is what he means by “working”!

On the economy

“America must remain the world’s economic superpower.”

America’s super-workers (some of the most productive in the world) have been going backwards. This is what he proposes to maintain.

Mike Huckabee:

On the Iraq war

“Setting a timetable for withdrawal is a mistake.”

Where have we heard this before? Oh, yes – from Bush.

On the economy

“My goal is not to make rich people poor. What I’d like is an economic system that can make it so poor people can get rich... “

Yes, but rich people have been getting richer by making the rest of us poorer.

John McCain: On the Iraq war

“It is my obligation to encourage Americans to give it (Bush’s surge plan) a chance to succeed.”

McCain said this back in April. Like Mitt Romney, “success” for him means more death and destruction.

On the economy

“I’m for a ‘pro-growth’ tax policy.”

Another candidate in favor of more cuts in corporate taxes and maintaining low taxes on the rich – none of which of which has spurred economic growth, only more speculation by the rich..

Ron Paul:

On the Iraq war

“Leave right now.”

Ironically, the only major candidate who calls for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops is the most right-wing. However, while Paul wants to end the war in Iraq, he wants U.S. workers to support him in a war against part of the U.S. working class itself – immigrant workers.

On the economy

“The talk must stop. We must secure our borders now. Enforce visa rules. No amnesty for illegal aliens.”

Paul reinforces the bosses’ divide and conquer tactics, used to distract working people from the attacks the corporations have carried out against all of us.

The U.S. is destroying Iraq
– “in order to save it”

Jan 7, 2008

Violent attacks in Iraq have fallen by 60% since June – so claimed U.S. General Petraeus, who dared to add that Iraq had been “brought back from the brink of a civil war” in 2007.

That’s much like an earlier U.S. general who said, during the Vietnamese War, that the U.S. had to destroy a village “in order to save it”!

In the year 2007, sectarian and ethnic militias, backed up by the Iraqi military and the U.S. military, divided Iraq into districts and even regions according to religious sect or ethnicity. Iraq was “ethnically cleansed” – in much the same way that Yugoslavia had been “cleansed” in the 1990s. People fled their homes to escape oncoming military forces. Civilians were killed, women were raped, even babies were mutilated – the victims serving as a graphic warning to all the others to leave. It was terrorism pure and simple. But, says Petraeus, Iraq was brought back from the “brink of a civil war”!!!

Two and a half million people driven from their homes – but Petraeus says that violence is down? What world does he live in? And what world do the editors of newspapers and TV news shows live in, when they pass on such garbage without even a tiny question?

In any case, U.S. troops, who suffered more casualties in 2007 than in any other year of the war, might beg to differ.

From the beginning of the first Gulf War, in 1991, up to today, the beginning of 2008, the U.S. goal has been to establish major military bases in Iraq – able to control the rest of the oil-producing Middle East.

The ethnic cleansing carried out in 2007 only shows to what lengths the U.S. is ready to go to fulfill this aim.

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