Trump’s militarized US-Mexican border

This 15 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Vermont Immigrant Rights Group Sues ICE for Monitoring, Infiltrating & “Hunting Down” Organizers

A major new federal lawsuit claims that immigration agents are targeting undocumented organizers for their activism in Vermont. The suit accuses Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Homeland Security and the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles of carrying out a multiyear campaign of political retaliation against members of the group Migrant Justice. According to the lawsuit, Migrant Justice was infiltrated by an informant, and its members were repeatedly subjected to electronic surveillance. At least 20 active members of Migrant Justice have been arrested and detained by ICE. We speak with Will Lambek, an organizer with Migrant Justice, a Vermont-based group founded and led by immigrant farmworkers.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

Pentagon chief heads to border as first refugees from caravan arrive

15 November 2018

Gen. James “Mad Dog” Mattis, the US defense secretary, defended the Trump administration’s deployment of nearly 6,000 active duty US troops to the US border with Mexico to turn back refugees as a “moral and ethical mission” as well as good training for deployment to wars abroad.

The Pentagon chief spoke Wednesday as he traveled to south Texas to review some of the active duty US troops who have been sent to the border with Mexico to block the entry of refugees and migrants fleeing conditions of repression, violence and grinding poverty in Central America.

Accompanying Mattis was Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, who, according to a Washington Post report is about to be fired from her post because of the belief on the part of Trump and some of his right-wing aides that she has been insufficiently ruthless in the implementation of the administration’s anti-immigrant measures.

The visit coincided with the arrival at the US border of the first contingent from the main caravan that departed from Honduras on October 13. Nearly 400 Central American migrants reached Tijuana on Tuesday aboard nine buses. They were preceded by a smaller group of some 80 LGBT migrants who reached the border city two days earlier.

Some of the migrants marched to the steel border fence that reaches out into the Pacific Ocean, with a few of them scaling it and chanting “Trump, build a bigger wall.” Others waved a Honduran flag and chanted “Sí se pudo!” or “Yes we could.”

Three youth, one of them 17 years old, jumped off the wall onto US territory, confronting a phalanx of Border Patrol agents backed by vehicles and a helicopter. Picking up trash on the beach, one of the youth shouted to the agents, “We’re doing something good. We can do this, right? Clean up your country”, the Mexican daily Reforma reported. They then jumped back over to the Mexican side.

The bulk of the migrants traveling in caravans—self-organized groups of men, women and children who have banded together for reasons of solidarity and security as they make the perilous trip through Mexico—are still over 1,000 miles away from the US border. Some are moving northward through the Mexican state of Sinaloa along the Pacific Coast route toward Tijuana. Approximately 1,300 are resting in a Mexico City sports stadium, with plans to get back on the road on Friday.

The trip by Mattis and Nielsen was aimed at defending and legitimizing Trump’s decision to deploy regular Army troops to the border, an action that flies in the face of posse comitatus, which bars the military from performing domestic police actions, and which militarizes the US response to refugees, raising the prospect for a massacre on the border.

The deployment of the troops was ordered in the context of midterm elections, in which Trump toured the country declaring before rallies that the approach of the Central American migrants and refugees constituted an “invasion”, while casting the men, women and children fleeing northward as cutthroats and criminals. While stoking racism and xenophobia on this issue continuously in the run-up to the election, in the wake of the vote, Trump has fallen silent on question, making it clear that from the start he had demagogically exploited the migrants to advance his reactionary political agenda.

Democrats, meanwhile, have completely accommodated themselves to this anti-immigrant tirade, with the party’s leadership insisting that candidates avoid the issue of immigration, giving a free rein to the Trump administration to implement its repressive and illegal measures.

These have included not only the troop deployment, but also the radical restriction of the right to asylum in violation of both international and US law, subjecting those seeking asylum after crossing the border without presenting their papers to US authorities to summary deportation. The aim is to force refugees to report to US ports of entry, where they are being forced to wait for weeks to apply, many are unlawfully turned away and those who make it across are subjected to detention and likely denial of asylum. With the so-called “hardening” of these ports of entry by the US military, the process has become even slower and fraught with new dangers.

Thus far, the US troops have been engaged in stringing concertina wire and erecting barricades at border crossings, a task that Mattis indicated would be completed within the next week to 10 days.

Reports indicate that the morale among the American soldiers is low. They are living in tent camps without electricity or dining facilities and eating MREs, under conditions that some have compared to the early days of the US invasion of Afghanistan. Moreover, many are conscious of the dubious legality and reactionary nature of their “mission”.

In his trip to the US military camp near McAllen, Texas, General Mattis brushed aside questions as to the legality and rationality of the military deployment on the border, describing the massive show of force against unarmed refugees as a “moral and ethical mission.”

One of the soldiers he met with asked him what the short- and long-term plans were for the border deployment. He answered that the short-term plan was to complete the laying of barbed wire and other barricades. As for the long-term plan, he declared that it was “somewhat to be determined.”

“When you’re in something like this,” Mattis said, “it’s dynamic, it’s unpredictable. We’ll have to see” what happens when the Central American immigrants arrive at the border.

Despite Pentagon claims that US troops will not come into direct contact with the immigrants, Mattis’ statements held open the prospect that their mission could easily change, including into providing lethal support for border agents. CNN reported Wednesday that the Pentagon had asked the Department of Homeland Security to request additional authorization from the White House to use the military in direct policing of the border, in direct violation of posse comitatus.

Mattis spelled out the threatening character of the deployment by placing it in the context of earlier acts of US military aggression.

“I would put this in a little historic context,” Mattis said. “President Wilson 100 years ago… deployed the US Army to the southwest border… The threat then was Pancho Villa’s troops, a revolutionary raiding across the border into the United States: New Mexico in 1916.”

This invocation of the punitive expedition led by Gen. John Pershing in the unsuccessful pursuit of Pancho Villa inside Mexico underscores the aggressive character of the US deployment on the border. Within Mexico, with its long history of US imperialist aggression, from the bloody war launched in 1846 that robbed the country of half its national territory, through to the multiple interventions carried out during the Mexican Revolution between 1914 and 1917, Mattis’ words will no doubt be read as a direct threat.

The Pentagon chief also said that the deployment on the border was “very good training” for wars abroad. “In terms of readiness, it’s actually, I believe, so far improving our readiness for deployments”, he said.

It is also, obviously, “very good training” for the deployment of the US military on US soil to suppress working class unrest. While aimed today against immigrants forced from their countries by the desperate conditions created by decades of imperialist oppression, US-backed dictatorships and CIA-orchestrated coups, tomorrow it can be directed against the rising tide of class struggle within the American working class as a whole.

This threat can only be met by the struggle to unite the working class across national boundaries and the defense of the rights of asylum seekers and immigrants to live and work in the US with full legal and citizenship rights, free from fear of deportation and repression.

Numerous migrants, mostly women and girls, have been victims of murder, attempted murder, kidnapping or rape at the hands of US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) agents: here.

Migrant caravan reaches US border as Latin American governments discuss austerity and repression: here.


No Trump/Russia collusion evidence, Woodward says

This 13 November 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Woodward: No Evidence Of Trump Russia Collusion

Bob Woodward, in an interview regarding his latest book, Fear, admits to not finding any evidence of Trump/Russia collusion. Here is his perspective.

Meanwhile, there is plenty of evidence of Trump’s homophobia and transphobia; of his shredding of the nuclear missile treaty; of  his shredding of the Iran deal; of his shredding of the Paris climate agreement; of Trump’s biggest military budget of all time; of his tax cuts for billionaires including himself; of his attack on ‘Dreamer’ young immigrants; of his threats to shoot women and children; of his re-starting of the controversial Dakota Access pipeline; etc.

Evidence which the newly elected Democrat majority in the United States House of Representatives might use to wage opposition to Trump from the left; if they would want to do so.

Rather than being a symptom of Russia or some other foreign country, Trump is a symptom of the domestic situation in the USA.

This 13 November 2018 video from te USA says about itself:

Judge Blocks Keystone XL Pipeline In Blow To Trump

A judge has blocked the Keystone XL Pipeline. This is great news for the environment but will it stand?

World War I and warmongering politicians today

This 2018 video about World War I says about itself:

Passchendaele Photo Essay: A Hell on Earth

Warning: This video contains graphic images. Viewer discretion is advised.

By Andre Damon in the USA:

Great powers commemorate First World War, and plan the next one

13 November 2018

Over the past weekend, the leaders of the world’s great powers met in France to commemorate the official end of World War I. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump pulled long faces, hugged each other and gave speeches lamenting the “horror” and “tragedy” of a war that claimed more than 16 million lives.

But their talk of “tragedy” and “suicide” could not hide the fact that they are all engaged in active preparations for a new and deadly world military conflict.

Trump, as usual, did not feel the need to hide his love of bloodshed. His speech at the Suresnes American Cemetery just outside Paris was a jingoistic rant. Trump praised the “great warriors” who “fought through hell to turn the tide of the war” and lauded the “ferocious” American marines who were termed “Devil Dogs” by the terrified German soldiers.

Unlike Merkel and Macron, the American President did not give an inch to the idea, universally acknowledged throughout the world since the fall of the Third Reich, that World War I was a disastrous mistake, in which millions were slaughtered either through the ignorance of generals or the avarice of politicians and industrialists. It was, in the words of Trump, a “noble” struggle to bring “peace” and defend “civilization”.

The speeches of Macron and Merkel betrayed the same bloody sentiments merely covered over with a dirty layer of dishonesty. Macron styled his speech as a condemnation of “nationalism”, while Merkel lamented the war as a “hideous labyrinth of merciless battles”, as “senseless bloodshed” caused by “national arrogance and military hubris”.

But Macron’s speech was, in its content, a celebration of the great lie peddled by the Germano-French fascist movement: that the “Great war” was an all-pervasive moment of national unity, in which social and class divisions were cast aside for the defense of the fatherland. For the fighters, Macron said, “France symbolized all that was beautiful in the world.” The soldiers in the trenches were “our family, the family that we belong to today”, creating “one France … popular and bourgeois”.

This statement was entirely consistent with Macron’s declaration just a few days earlier that Philippe Pétain, the Nazi-collaborationist dictator of Vichy France who sent tens of thousands of Jews and anti-fascists to their deaths, was a “great soldier”.

For Merkel’s part, her invocation of the “horrors” of the first world war were coupled with appeals for Germany to end its “isolation” by becoming a great power. The Chancellor declared: “The First World War showed us what kind of ruin isolationism can lead us into. And if seclusion wasn’t a solution 100 years ago, how could it be so today?”

What an absurd lie. Every freshman history textbook makes it clear that the war was not caused by Germany’s “isolationism” but by the desire of Kaiser and Chancellor to secure what Wilhelm II called Germany’s “Place in the Sun”-colonial possessions at the expense of her competitors who had arrived earlier on the world arena.

It was to secure German world power that Merkel’s predecessor, Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg, said in 1914 that the object of his regime was to “lay the foundations for German predominance in Europe”.

With very minor modifications, these are the sentiments animating the Chancellery of the Federal Republic, as expressed by its leading ideologists. In the words of Humboldt University professor Herfried Münkler, Germany must become the “taskmaster” of Europe, exercising “determined political and economic leadership” over the continent.

On the other side of the Rhine, the sentiments of the ruling classes are just as warlike. Just days after Macron’s speech, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire called for the formation of a “European Empire” to compete economically and militarily with the United States and China. While the population of Europe, given the horrors of two world wars, will find such talk of empire “unattractive … in tomorrow’s world, it’s going to be all about power … Europe cannot be shy any longer about using its power.”

Le Maire concluded, “Everybody knows it takes guts to stand in the way of Donald Trump’s administration … The people of Europe have had enough of the babble.”

This is a deliberate and conscious restatement of German chancellor Bismarck’s adage that leadership will be decided not by “liberalism but by power”, not by “speeches,” but by “blood and iron”.

Such militarist, and essentially fascistic, sentiments are expressed not only in words, but in deeds.

US President Donald Trump, with the support of a Democratic opposition that functions largely as a rubber-stamp for his assault on democracy, has embarked upon the largest military build-up since the Cold War, withdrawing from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) nuclear treaty with Russia and massively expanding the United States’ nuclear arsenal. He has begun deploying 15,000 troops on American soil, asserted the right to overturn constitutional amendments by executive fiat and started the construction of concentration camps capable of holding tens of thousands.

Macron, pursuing his country’s own breakneck military rearmament, has pushed for the creation of a “European army” to counter the United States and China, to be paid for by the types of anti-worker austerity policies his government is pioneering.

Merkel presides over a grand coalition government dedicated to military rearmament and the projection of power overseas. She, too, supervises the construction of concentration camps to hold helpless refugees. Her government is a den of crypto-fascists, exemplified by the recently-fired head of the country’s secret service, Hans-Georg Maassen, who defended neo-Nazi rioters who attacked Jews and foreigners.

In collaboration with the neo-fascist Alternative for Germany (AfD), Maassen authored a report placing those who oppose capitalism, including the Socialist Equality Party, under surveillance as “left-wing extremists.” And in the latest exposure of the viper’s lair that is the German military/intelligence apparatus, the news weekly Focus Magazine reported that internal army investigations have uncovered a massive plot by as many as 200 military personnel to round up and murder left-wing politicians.

Today’s drive toward military conflict on the part of the great powers is rooted in the same fundamental contradictions of capitalism—between the world economy and the outmoded nation-state system, and between socialized production and the private ownership of the means of production—that led to two world wars in the 20th century.

It is also fueled by intensifying domestic political and social tensions within each of the major imperialist countries. The governments of Macron, Trump and Merkel are all broadly hated as direct instruments of a corrupt financial oligarchy. These governments see in war not only the pretext to use police-state repression against their opponents, but for the promotion of far-right forces to create a constituency for their policies of militarism and austerity and to use as shock troops against the growing struggles of the working class.

We live, as World Socialist Web Site editorial board chairman David North has argued, in the “Unfinished 20th Century.” All the demons that plagued the last century return to vex our own. But this means that the tasks confronting humanity remain the same. The bloodletting of the First World War was ended by two revolutions: in Russia and in Germany. But each was strangled. In Germany, this was quick, with the bullets of Friedrich Ebert’s Freikorps. In Russia it was slow, with the triumph of Stalinism that ended in the dissolution of the USSR. It is the defeat of those revolutions that has led the specter of world war to return.

The antipode to world war, now as then, is the international working class, armed with the program of socialist internationalism. It is the fear of this vast and powerful social force that drives the bourgeoisie to war and dictatorship, and it is this social force that must be mobilized to oppose the return of imperialist barbarism.

Donald Trump Beatles parody song

This 12 November 2018 musical parody of the Beatles song Rain from Britain says about itself:

The Tweetles – Rain

What does Donald Trump do when the rain comes? The answer lies in this new song from his Beatles tribute band, The Tweetles.


When the rain comes
I run and hide my hair
I’m not going out there
When the rain comes
When the rain comes

When it drizzles
I won’t go see Paris
I’ll just get room service
When it drizzles
When it drizzles

Rain, kiss my ass!
Sad! The weather’s bad

I’m not going if there’s no big parade
I’ll stay and flirt with the maid
I’m not going
You can’t make me
I’ve got some stuff I need to tweet anyway

Rain, kiss my ass!
Sad! The weather’s bad

Go tell Macron we’re not friends any more
You know what, this means war!
Can we nuke France?
Can we nuke France?

TRUMP: FORGET OVERSEAS MILITARY VOTES Two days after skipping a visit to an American military cemetery near Paris because it was raining, Trump called for effectively disenfranchising overseas military members voting in Florida, raising further questions about the draft-evading president’s real commitment to the armed services. [HuffPost]

Trump bans helping devastated Puerto Rico

This 13 September 2018 video from the USA says about itself:

Trump Is Now DENYING That 3,000 Puerto Ricans Died In Hurricane Maria

Just when you thought Donald Trump couldn’t sink any lower with his denial of reality, he comes along and Tweets that nearly 3,000 American citizens DIDN’T die during Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, and that somehow this death toll number is the fault of the Democrats. This is reality-denial the likes of which we’ve never seen from the Oval Office, as Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins explains.

By Jonathan Swan in the USA today:

Trump wants no more relief funds for Puerto Rico

President Trump doesn’t want to give Puerto Rico any more federal money for its recovery from Hurricane Maria, White House officials have told congressional appropriators and leadership. This is because he claims, without evidence, that the island’s government is using federal disaster relief money to pay off debt.

The big picture: Trump also told senior officials last month that he would like to claw back some of the federal money Congress has already set aside for Puerto Rico’s disaster recovery, claiming mismanagement.

The White House didn’t comment on this reporting.

  • Between the lines: Trump won’t be able to take away disaster funds that have already been set aside by Congress, and sources close to the situation tell me the White House hasn’t asked Republican lawmakers to do so. But Trump could refuse to sign a future spending bill that would make more money available for Puerto Rico‘s recovery.

Behind the scenes: In late October, Trump grew furious after reading a Wall Street Journal article by Matt Wirz, according to five sources familiar with the president’s reaction. The article said that “Puerto Rico bond prices soared … after the federal oversight board that runs the U.S. territory’s finances released a revised fiscal plan that raises expectations for disaster funding and economic growth.”

  • Sources with direct knowledge told me Trump concluded — without evidence — that Puerto Rico’s government was scamming federal disaster funds to pay down its debt.
  • On Oct. 23, Trump falsely claimed in a tweet that Puerto Rico’s “inept politicians are trying to use the massive and ridiculously high amounts of hurricane/disaster funding to pay off other obligations.”
  • At the same time, White House officials told congressional leadership that Trump was inflamed by the Wall Street Journal article and “doesn’t want to include additional Puerto Rico funding in further spending bills”, according to a congressional leadership aide. “He was unhappy with what he believed was mismanagement of money”, the aide said.
  • A second source said Trump misinterpreted the Journal article, concluding falsely that the Puerto Rican government was using disaster relief funds to pay down debt.
  • A third source said Trump told top officials in an October meeting that he wanted to claw back congressional funds that had previously been set aside for Puerto Rico’s recovery. “He’s always been pissed off by Puerto Rico“, the source added.

Trump’s wariness about sending federal money to Puerto Rico dates back to the beginning of his administration. In early 2017, when negotiating the omnibus spending bill, Democratic congressional leaders were pushing Trump to bail out Puerto Rico’s underfunded health care system that serves the island’s poorest citizens.

  • Trump insisted in the negotiations that he wouldn’t approve anything close to the level of funds Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats requested, according to two sources involved. (And he didn’t.)

The bottom line: Congress took steps to keep disaster relief funds from being used to pay down the island’s debt, and as Bloomberg reported at the time, “neither the island’s leaders — nor the board installed by the U.S. to oversee its budget — are proposing using disaster recovery aid to directly pay off bondholders or other lenders.”

Why it matters: Congress will have to pass a new package of spending bills in December. Hill sources say the package may include a bill to send more federal money to disaster areas. Trump has told aides he believes too much federal money has already gone to Puerto Rico — more than $6 billion for Hurricane Maria so far, according to FEMA. (The government projects more than $55 billion from FEMA’s disaster relief fund will ultimately be spent on Maria’s recovery.)

  • In comparison, per the NYT, “when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Congress approved $10 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency four days later, and another $50 billion six days later. The federal government is still spending money on Katrina assistance, more than 12 years after the storm’s landfall.”

Trump often blames Democratic-controlled states for the fallout from their natural disasters. On Saturday, Trump threatened “no more Fed payments” for California to deal with its deadly fires unless the state addresses what Trump claims is “gross mismanagement of the forests.”

  • Go deeper:

  • Trump to the Netherlands, 6 June 2019?

    This 21 January 2017 video is about the Women’s March against Donald Trump in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

    Dutch daily Algemeen Dagblad, 9 November 2018, reports that Peter Hoekstra, appointed by Donald Trump as United States ambassador to the Netherlands, wants Trump to come to former United States military airbase Soesterberg in Utrecht on 6 June 2019. On that day is the 75 years’ commemoration of D-Day, the allied invasion of Normandy in 1944.

    Will Trump then speak like British Conservative weekly The Spectator, which in an article on D-Day praised Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht military?

    On 10 November 2018, the Algemeen Dagblad reported about the mayor of Soest local authority, which includes Soesterberg. The mayor, a member of the right-wing VVD party, does not like the prospect of Trump coming to his area: ‘too complex’ from a security viewpoint.

    There have already been big demonstrations against Trump in the Netherlands when he was not present. If Trump will indeed come to the Netherlands, then one may expect even bigger protests.