In addition to the government campaign against the undocumented, there is mounting murderous racism fomented by Trump and his Islamophobic rants.
March 6 — The Trump administration’s crisis deepens as accusations of ties to Russia multiply and surround him and his aides. Meanwhile, this authoritarian, racist, misogynistic bigot is opening up a war on the people and what is left of gains won over the last 50 years. Especially under attack are the millions of undocumented workers.
The war within the capitalist state has reached a boiling point, with Trump accusing former President Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Towers during the 2016 election campaign. It is being assumed that Trump heard this on Mark Levin’s right-wing talk show, promoted by Breitbart News. Steve Bannon, Trump’s special “strategy” advisor, previously ran Breitbart.
Trump made the accusations against Obama in a tweet after he flew into a rage when racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who now heads the Justice Department, recused himself from all investigations about the campaign. Sessions’ recusal came after he was found to have lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee about having contact with Russians.
What Trump did not consider, in his rage, was that electronic eavesdropping would have to be carried out by the FBI. Eavesdropping on the presidential candidate would be a crime, unless there was a warrant. Since there was no such warrant, according to James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, Trump’s charges against Obama would implicate the FBI in a crime.
The head of the FBI, James Comey, has now demanded that the Justice Department refute these charges because, according to Comey, they are false. So far the Sessions Justice Department has refused to disavow the charges.
This public dispute between the White House, the Justice Department and the secret police spy agency has created the biggest political crisis for the capitalist government since the Watergate crisis that forced President Richard Nixon to resign in the summer of 1974.
Crisis of repression for undocumented workers
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is quietly expanding its arrests and harassment of undocumented workers. There was big coverage in mid-February when 680 undocumented workers were seized in raids in a one-week period.
The Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have now changed their public relations strategy. The government is continuing raids all over the country, just not publicizing the total roundups. Take last week as an example. Three workers were picked up in Detroit and 16 were arrested in Ypsilanti, Mich. (freep.com); four workers were arrested in Trenton, N.J. (nj.com); six youth were arrested in Charlotte, N.C. (Charlotte Observer); a restaurant was shut down for two weeks when four workers were detained in York County, Pa. (phillyvoice.com); nine workers were arrested in Grand Island, N.Y., and 23 in Hamburg, N.Y., both near the border with Canada (wkbw.com).
These are random examples of at least 65 workers rounded up in one week at a wide variety of locations. The reports surfaced only on local radio stations and in local newspapers. They show that ICE agents are everywhere and are exercising their newfound authority to arrest any of the 11 million undocumented workers in this country.
More widely publicized was the arrest of the Dreamer Daniella Vargas in Jackson, Miss., after she spoke at a press conference denouncing the recent arrests of her relatives. ICE is supposedly not authorized to arrest Dreamers. Alongside this was the deportation of Romulo Avelica-Gonzalez while taking his daughter to school. These arrests were publicized only because cell phone videos were taken and distributed.
In addition to the government campaign against the undocumented, there is mounting murderous racism fomented by Trump and his Islamophobic rants. Two Indian men, Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, were shot in Kansas. Kuchibhotla died as the alleged killer, Adam Purinton, yelled, “Get out of my country.” Purinton also shot and wounded bystander Ian Grillot, who was trying to stop the attack. (New York Times, March 4)
A similar racist hate crime took place near Seattle a few days earlier when someone shot a Sikh man, Deep Rai, who was working on his driveway. The shooter also told Rai to “Go back home.”
Furthermore, during the past month there have been numerous desecrations of Jewish cemeteries across the country, as well as bomb threats at dozens of Jewish community centers.
In another ominous sign, Attorney General Sessions has indicated he will not enforce the Justice Department’s consent decrees, issued under the Obama administration, to rein in local police departments, most notoriously in Chicago. This can only be interpreted as a green light to police forces everywhere to step up already murderous repression.
In addition, Trump has rescinded protections for transgender students to use school bathrooms of their choice, and the Supreme Court has returned the case back to the lower court without a ruling.
Movement must deal with anti-Russia barrage
The movement is faced with a barrage of anti-Russian propaganda. The problem is that the anti-Trump forces in the capitalist political establishment, the media and especially the Democratic Party leadership are also at the present time the anti-Russia forces — i.e., the military hawks, the party of belligerence and militarism.
The tendency to root for the anti-Russia forces as long as they bring down Trump is very strong. It is the line of least resistance and a convenient political tool for Democratic Party leaders as well as many Republican politicians. Unless the movement resists this anti-Russia demagogy, it will align itself with the hawks of the ruling class.
The long-term goal of the U.S. ruling class with respect to Russia is to weaken Russia’s independent government and turn it into a vassal state — the way it was under Boris Yeltsin, during the first eight years after the collapse of the USSR. Wall Street and the Pentagon want Moscow to follow Washington’s lead, hand over investment rights and open up access to its vast resources.
Trump and especially ultra-right ideologue Bannon have a strategic vision of a rapprochement with Russia in preparation for a conflict with China and a conflict of civilizations with the Islamic world. (See WW, Feb. 23.) Their vision is not a peace plan.
In the torrent of accusations about Russian ties, some may be true, some may be false, and some are insignificant. In any case, they are part of a massive attempt to block any move by the White House to relax relations with Russia and make concessions on sanctions, in the Ukraine or anywhere else.
On the other hand, no one should be swayed by false nostalgia for the USSR, which was a socialist country. Putin is the agent of Russian nationalism, which means he represents the Russian ruling class, made up of anti-socialist oligarchs. Reactionaries throughout Europe and Russia consider Putin the “great white Christian hope.”
Putin is helping the Syrian government for strictly geostrategic reasons; Russia is defending a base in the Mediterranean that dates back to the USSR. He is helping the resistance in Ukraine in order to keep the country, which borders Russia, from being swallowed up by the West. Progressives should support these efforts, without falling under the illusion that because Putin is backing some progressive causes, he and his oligarchic regime are progressive.
Trump and Russian money
In addition to strategic political goals, one cannot discount the possibility that Trump’s relations with Russia are also based on financial interests. Trump has adamantly refused to release his tax returns. He has claimed that he has nothing to do with Russia. These are dubious claims.
One example is the case of his Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and his connections with Russian money. Ross is a billionaire parasite who specializes in buying up companies in financial difficulty, stripping them of their assets and selling them off.
According to multiple sources (Miami Herald, New York Times and Rachel Maddow of MSNBC), Ross is the primary owner of the Cyprus Bank. This bank is known as a haven for laundering money for Russian oligarchs. When Cyprus had a banking crisis in 2014 and depositors could not get their money, Ross participated in the rescue, together with the Russian government.
Ross then invited the head of Deutsche Bank to head Cyprus Bank. Deutsche Bank recently had to pay a $630 million fine for laundering $10 billion in Russian money. Deutsche Bank has been the only major bank to loan money to Trump.
Another partner in Cyprus Bank was Dmitry Bybolovlev, a Russian multibillionaire potash king. Bybolovlev was trying to hide his assets and in 2008 bought a Trump property in Palm Beach for $95 million — a U.S. record at the time. Trump had bought it in 2004 for $41 million. So Trump made a $54 million profit on the sale. P.S.: Bybolovlev never set foot in the mansion, and it has since been torn down.
There are numerous other connections between Trump and Russian money, including the admission in 2008 by his son Donald Jr. that “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets.” (deathandtaxes.com) There are also recent reports of Trump dealings in Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. So political and financial interests may merge in the case of Trump. His greed is legendary, and that has been a powerful force all his life.
Massive removal of regulatory protection for workers and environment
Steve Bannon, the Trump ideologue, has used the phrase “deconstruction of the administrative state.” Translated into ordinary language, that means the destruction of all regulations that protect workers, oppressed people and the environment.
The Trump administration is rushing to destroy all regulatory restrictions on corporate greed. Over 90 major regulations are in the process of being stayed, delayed or removed since Trump took office. (NY Times, March 5)
Seventeen automakers have submitted a list of regulatory changes they want, including removal of mileage standards, emission controls, etc. The pharmaceutical industry is asking that restrictions be removed on prescription drugs for unapproved uses. Trump has already lifted regulations on coal mining and oil and gas exploration.
Trump has overturned a rule that protected pension investors from fraud and another that protected drinking water from pollution.
Banks no longer have to charge fees to their high-income customers to protect against high-risk losses. The Business Roundtable has submitted a list of 16 rules it wants removed.
Rules regarding air pollution, unemployment compensation, endangered species, credit card fees, drilling on the Arctic Shelf, data security, internet neutrality and many other issues are under review. In each case the requests for reviews come from corporate pressures. It’s no wonder the stock market is surging.
Such regulatory protections embody a century of struggle to protect the environment, consumer safety, workers’ health and safety, wages and working conditions. They have already been eroded in many cases. But Trump and Bannon are making a full-scale assault.
This calls for a massive fightback.
There has already been a good national turnout, especially in Wisconsin, for the Day Without Immigrants. Women are planning a Day Without Women on International Women’s Day. And May Day demonstrations are being talked about across the country.
Waiting for Trump to be toppled from above is conceding to the class enemy the primary role of getting rid of Trump. Trump needs to be toppled from below — by mass resistance. That is the only road to victory.