As hundreds of meatpacking workers fell sick from the coronavirus that was spreading through their plants and into their communities in April 2020, the CEO of Tyson Foods reached out to the head of another major meatpacker, Smithfield Foods, with a proposal. Smithfield’s pork plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, had been hit particularly hard, and state and local officials were pressuring the company to shut it down. “Anything we can do to help?” Tyson CEO Noel White asked in an email. Smithfield’s CEO Ken Sullivan replied that he wished there was. But White had an idea. Would Sullivan like to discuss the possibility of getting President Donald Trump to sign an executive order to keep meatpacking plants open?
During the Trump presidency, slogans like “Facts Matter” and “#BelieveTheScience” abounded. The idea was that, unlike the outright denial espoused by Republicans, Democrats recognize basic scientific truths about the world, such as the existence of climate change and the dangers of Covid-19. Because they “take science seriously,” it’s implied, Democrats will propose and enact more scientifically-informed policies. It’s been a year since Joe Biden took office on the promise that his respect for science would manifest in more rational policy solutions. So, now is a good time to ask: how’s that going? “Follow the science” was an effective campaign slogan during the Trump years, but it was only ever a slogan. On September 20, 2020, Joe Biden tweeted, “Unlike Trump, I’ll listen to the experts and heed their advice — especially when it comes to matters of health and safety.”
Every time I watch or read news updates on another promise that Joe Biden has reneged on, I hear this song in my head, jaunty synthesizer music and all. Because I seriously cannot figure out why people believed this guy and all his promises. Remember the promise he made to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt for everyone? Has it happened? Nope. What he has done instead was to extend the loan payment suspension first until January 2022, with payments originally set to resume in February 2022. Then after a nationwide outcry from those burdened with student loans that were coming due in the new year with no relief in sight from a pandemic that continues to ravage the nation, the federal student loan forbearance program was extended again to May 2022 .
Analogies of Trump to Hitler can be misleading. While material conditions for many Americans are distressing, they are not as dire as Weimar Germany, following its economic collapse. Nor do the Proud Boys and company approximate the hundreds of thousands of trained and armed paramilitaries under Hitler’s direct command. Most important, the mass working class Communist and Socialist parties in Weimar Germany were positioned to contend for state power, while trade unions and third parties challenging bourgeoise rule are in decline in the US today. Under fascism, the capitalist class voluntarily cedes a degree of economic decision making to a dictatorial state in exchange for guarantees of public order and promises to keep their profits.
A year ago today, a fascist mob took over the US Capitol building in Washington, D.C., stunning the country and the entire world. Called to action by Donald Trump and instigated by his false accusation that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, the mob stormed the building and briefly stopped the certification of the electoral college votes. The attack would not have been possible without collusion from high-level military, police and security officials. Yet, none of them have been brought to justice. At the same time, Congress formed a special committee on January 6th which has no legal authority to persecute the people responsible for it. The insurrection was a historic attack on one of the most fundamental tenets of US democracy – the peaceful transition of power between the two ruling class parties.
On George Washington’s birthday, 2018, the Donald Trump administration’s director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, L. Francis Cissna, changed the agency’s official mission statement, dropping the language of “a nation of immigrants” to describe the United States. The previous mission statement had said the agency “secures America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by providing accurate and useful information to our customers, granting immigration and citizenship benefits, promoting an awareness and understanding of citizenship, and ensuring the integrity of our immigration system.” The revised mission statement reads: “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services administers the nation’s lawful immigration system, safeguarding its integrity and promise by efficiently and fairly adjudicating requests for immigration benefits while protecting Americans, securing the homeland, and honoring our values.”
For her 65th birthday, Diana Marquez was grateful to be out of prison and celebrating with her daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren. They feasted on a smorgasbord of brisket, sushi and Mexican food. She was not allowed to leave the house, but she still felt blessed to celebrate the day surrounded by family rather than confined in a prison cell. Marquez is one of over 4,000 people who were released from federal prison to home confinement under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to stem the spread of COVID-19 behind bars. The CARES Act prioritizes the release of people whose age or health makes them vulnerable to COVID, whose “risk assessment” is low and whose convictions are for federal crimes classified as nonviolent.
The amount of additional taxes that the richest Americans owed after the IRS audited their tax returns fell more than 99% in Donald Trump’s first full year in office, data tables released this week show. Among households making on average $30 million in 2018, IRS auditors recommended less than $5.4 million in additional tax. That’s not the extra tax owed by one rich tax cheat. That’s the total for all 26,517 households reporting income of at least $10 million in 2018—the first year of the huge tax giveaway Trump and the Radical Republicans in Congress engineered in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The recommended additional tax under Trump fell 99.1% from the $610.4 million that tax auditors recommended in 2010, Barack Obama’s first full year as president.
Some people think that a change in government actually changes things. Not so. Moon of Alabma demonstrates through a series of tweets, the striking consistency of US foreign policy from one administration to the next regardless of whether it is Democratic or Republican.
Trump loves anyone who makes him look good. When The Epoch Times unites with the U.S. right-wing forces to make him look like a superstar, he really loves them – that’s the reason the fringe cult publication became the favorite media of the Trump White House. In August 2020, the representatives of the Gateway Pundit and The Epoch Times, a website and a far right publication with long records of supporting President Trump, were admitted to the White House briefing room. Trump called on both of them to ask questions during his televised news conferences.
The Epoch Times, the propaganda arm of the U.S.-backed Chinese cult Falun Gong, has built an unholy alliance among anti-China, anti-communist Republicans, far right domestic terrorists, and Donald Trump by organizing carpet-bombing amounts of unlimited fake news coverage against China, as well as by creating a tsunami amount of Facebook bot pages and YouTube QAnon channels supporting Trump’s reelection campaign and discrediting the Democrats. Their hard work has paid-off. Over the past several years The Epoch Times has become one of Trump’s favorites among the White House press corps, gaining access to press conferences while many journalists from the People’s Republic of China have been barred from the U.S. government.
Will the U.S. military ever leave Afghanistan? The answer appears to be no. When the U.S. military comes it stays. It’s been in Germany since the 1940s, and now has expanded, with its attack dog, NATO, from there throughout Eastern Europe to menace Russia. The Afghan adventure has so far lasted 20 years and cost two trillion dollars. Afghanistan provides a convenient, imperial base from which to threaten China. The U.S. military, realistically, will never want to give that up. Trump left office with plans in place for the remaining 2500 U.S. troops to depart Afghanistan by May 1. Not a word about the 18,000 contractors, aka mercenaries, who have long outnumbered U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. Like those soldiers, these mercenaries’ lives are at risk. They are also a geopolitical liability.
As the fight amongst the oligarchs heats up over Trump's 2nd impeachment, one must wonder what ever happened to the days when the poor and the working class were clear-eyed enough to see their real struggle was against the rich? Wall Street banksters, the weapons warlords, Hollywood moguls, oil barons, real estate developers and the like. Instead we see the Lumpenproletariat on their knees scratching and clawing each other - defending one side of the elite mobsters who are armed against the other in Washington's usual sideshow that distracts the nation from the ever present reality of capital accumulation.
Red Lines host Anya Parampil speaks with investigative journalist Gareth Porter about his recent piece in The Grayzone which explores the role CENTCOM Chief General Kenneth McKenzie played in escalating tensions with Iran in the final days of the Trump Administration. Porter also discusses the role General McKenzie will have in the Biden Administration as well as the new president’s Iran strategy.