November 3, 2012 - No. 41

The U.S. Electoral Fraud

A "Coalition of Centrists" in the Making

The U.S. Electoral Fraud
A "Coalition of Centrists" in the Making
As Election Looms, Many Voters Fear the Process Is Compromised - Tony Pugh, McClatchy Newspapers
Ohio's Ballot Woes Could Delay Election Results for Weeks - Aviva Shen, ThinkProgress
Pennsylvania Attempting to Disenfranchise Latino Voters

Election Issues
The "Fiscal Cliff" and Dysfunctional Congress
The Genocide of Mass Incarceration
Immigrant Rights

The U.S. Electoral Fraud

A "Coalition of Centrists" in the Making

In a surprise announcement, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, endorsed President Barack Obama. Bloomberg calls himself an "independent" and is known for being a "moderate," and calling for an end to the current gridlock in Congress and working in a "bipartisan" spirit. As Mayor, he also heads what he says is one of the "largest armies" in the country, referring to the highly armed New York Police Department (NYPD) and large bureaucracy of city government. The NYPD, which also works directly with the CIA, has its own tanks, helicopters and missiles.

Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also endorsed Obama, as he did in 2008. Like Bloomberg, Powell is considered a "moderate," who also promotes "bipartisanship." He has supported Obama's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the campaign is "very excited" about the endorsement: "We think it sends a strong signal about why he should be sent back for another four years to be Commander in Chief." This is an indication that the role of Obama in the coming period is as Commander in Chief and that he must make certain the public treasury can be utilized for U.S. war aims in conditions where the economy is not recovering.

Bloomberg, after repeatedly saying he would make no public endorsement and expressing criticisms of both Obama and Romney, changed his mind. It appears Hurricane Sandy was a main factor. He endorsed Obama November 1 saying, "The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast -- in lost lives, lost homes and lost business -- brought the stakes of Tuesday's presidential election into sharp relief. The floods and fires that swept through our city left a path of destruction that will require years of recovery and rebuilding work. In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods -- something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable. Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be -- given this week's devastation -- should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action."

Bloomberg titled his editorial, which ran in his Bloomberg News, "A Vote for a President to Lead on Climate Change." He emphasized, "We need leadership from the White House -- and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year." He contends that Romney has "reversed course," on climate change issues. He said, "If the 1994 or 2003 version of Mitt Romney were running for president, I may well have voted for him because, like so many other independents, I have found the past four years to be, in a word, disappointing.

"In 2008, Obama ran as a pragmatic problem-solver and consensus-builder. But as president, he devoted little time and effort to developing and sustaining a coalition of centrists, which doomed hope for any real progress on illegal guns, immigration, tax reform, job creation and deficit reduction. And rather than uniting the country around a message of shared sacrifice, he engaged in partisan attacks and has embraced a divisive populist agenda focused more on redistributing income than creating it."

He then goes on to say Obama has achieved some important victories. Bloomberg says Obama's "Race to the Top education program -- much of which was opposed by the teachers' unions, a traditional Democratic Party constituency -- has helped drive badly needed reform across the country, giving local districts leverage to strengthen accountability in the classroom and expand charter schools. His health-care law -- for all its flaws -- will provide insurance coverage to people who need it most and save lives."

He concludes saying, "Neither candidate has specified what hard decisions he will make to get our economy back on track while also balancing the budget. But in the end, what matters most isn't the shape of any particular proposal; it's the work that must be done to bring members of Congress together to achieve bipartisan solutions." He says Obama can be successful if "he listens to people on both sides of the aisle, and builds the trust of moderates."

A Coalition of Centrists

In a situation where the machinery of the two parties is disintegrating and individual candidates with their own machinery are backed by contending factions among the rich, the solution posed is not one of bringing the parties together. This is not what is meant by bipartisanship. On the contrary, a "coalition of centrists" is called for which will work together to "achieve bipartisan solutions." Bloomberg, a billionaire himself and a representative of Wall Street, is positioned to be part of this group of "moderates" and help put it in place.

Bloomberg, together with former Secretary of Defense Gates, former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and potentially now Colin Powell as well, are all well-known "bipartisan" and "moderate" forces. Bill Clinton too is perhaps the quintessential "centrist."

Has a deal been made to bring Bloomberg into this "coalition of centrists"? Will these forces form a committee to secure control of the purse strings? Or perhaps take a place in the next Obama administration?

If so, it would mean Obama has his forces in control of both Chicago and New York City and their massive police forces. It also means various different alliances bringing together this "coalition of centrists," are in the works. If Obama can pull these various forces together, as the recent endorsements indicate, it is further evidence that the ruling circles see him as the champion able to preserve the union under conditions of the current cold civil war going hot. He is the one who can be successful in putting the public purse strings directly in the hands of the monopoly financiers, keep the people repressed while keeping the union whole. Or at least that is what the rulers hope.

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As Election Looms, Many Voters Fear the
Process Is Compromised (Excerpts)

Only days before millions of Americans cast their ballots, a climate of suspicion hangs over Tuesday's national elections.

Accusations of partisan dirty tricks and concerns about long voter lines, voting equipment failures and computer errors are rampant, particularly in key battleground states such as Ohio and Colorado, where absentee and provisional ballots could decide a close election. [...]

State and local election officials and partisan watchdogs are on high alert for problems, as is the U.S. Department of Justice. All of them plan to post election monitors at potential trouble spots across the country.

The extra preparations will certainly help, but they have not stopped reports of phony election workers showing up at people's homes to collect their absentee ballots or anonymous callers falsely claiming that voters can stay home on Election Day and cast their ballots by phone.

With concerns running high about voter intimidation, voter suppression and poorly trained poll workers, many think that the integrity of the elections -- and the officials who run them -- has been compromised. Nowhere is that more true than in Ohio, where Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted has drawn the ire of Democrats by limiting the amount of time for early voting. [...]

In their national bid to root out voter fraud, True the Vote, a conservative organization, might have hundreds of thousands of poll watchers nationwide. They plan to challenge voters they suspect of casting ballots illegally. This could slow the election process and force challenged voters to cast provisional ballots, which are counted later.

Labor organizations and voting rights groups, such as Common Cause and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, also will have poll watchers making sure that voters aren't harassed, intimidated or threatened by True the Vote members. "Our monitors will be monitoring their monitors," said Judith Browne Dianis, a co-director of the Advancement Project, a national nonpartisan voting-rights organization. "We are going to make sure they're not engaging in bullying at the polling places."

The recent high-water mark for voter distrust is the 2000 presidential election, when Florida's disputed votes and the resulting challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court left the race undecided for several weeks. The high court eventually declared Republican George W. Bush the winner.

Concerns about the 2012 election mushroomed last year as Republican state lawmakers around the country introduced a series of restrictive voting laws that critics claimed would affect minorities, college students and the poor disproportionately. Democrats and civil rights advocates argued that the laws were a less-than-subtle attempt to suppress the votes of some of the party's strongest supporters.

Federal and state courts in 14 states ended up reversing, weakening or postponing many of the laws' most contentious provisions, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

In the aftermath of those legal battles, a skeptical electorate wonders whether innocent mistakes, computer glitches and human error by elections workers have a deeper, more sinister intent.

After printing the incorrect election date on voter materials printed in Spanish -- but not in English -- election officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, made the same mistake a week later with a different document. Once again, the identical English-language materials did not have the error. [...]

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Ohio's Ballot Woes Could Delay
Election Results for Weeks

Pollsters and pundits have trained their eyes on Ohio, where President Obama maintains a narrow lead over Mitt Romney just days before the election. According to exit polls, Obama's lead is even stronger among early voters. But several recent developments threaten to disenfranchise many of these voters and plunge Ohio into a bureaucratic nightmare on election night.

The Columbus Dispatch reported on [November 1] that a data-sharing glitch and mistakes by election officials have caused thousands of absentee ballot requests to be rejected. While Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted maintains that this was a computer error, the Northeast Ohio Voter Advocates found an abnormally high rate of rejected absentee ballot requests in Cuyahoga County, a Democratic stronghold that includes Cleveland. The Cuyahoga Board of Elections determined that 865 ballot requests had been erroneously thrown out.

If these voters try to cast their vote in person, they will likely be forced to use a provisional ballot, as the absentee ballot error has thrown their registration status into question. At least 4,500 registered voters across the state will be left waiting for their absentee ballots, while as many as 6,000 provisional ballots cast by registered voters could be tossed out. The provisional ballots that do not get thrown out won't be counted until November 17, according to state law, further dragging out the confusion.

This absentee ballot fiasco is just the latest in Ohio's dysfunctional election saga. On [October 31], the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals allowed Husted to discount ballots cast by people directed to the wrong polling station by a poll worker -- one of the most common errors that led to thousands of votes getting thrown out in Ohio's dysfunctional 2004 presidential election.

Husted became a national symbol of voter suppression after he banned early voting on nights and weekends, and attempted to defy a court order that restored early voting on the last three days before the election.

In his defense, Husted often touts his unprecedented initiative to mail absentee ballot requests to every registered voter in the state. But critics have pointed out that this measure will probably add to the confusion that could delay the results of the election. Anyone who chooses to return the absentee ballot application but later decides to vote in person will be required to use a provisional ballot, as election officials need to verify that they did not also send in their absentee ballot. The absentee ballot initiative, then, could be a bureaucratic nightmare in disguise. With innumerable legitimate votes cast on provisional ballots, Ohio's 2012 election could end up mirroring 2004, when the state discarded thousands of votes and tipped George W. Bush over the edge to victory by the narrowest margin.

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Pennsylvania Attempting to Disenfranchise
Latino Voters

In Pennsylvania, considered a swing state where the Latino vote is important, state-sponsored billboards, in Spanish, have gone up in predominately Latino neighborhoods to discourage people from voting. The billboards say that state issued identification is required to vote. This is not true.

Television ads highlighting the state's mostly-invalidated voter ID law also aired as recently as October 6. While Pennsylvania did pass a strict voter identification law, it was suspended by the state's Supreme Court for this election. The Court ruled that too many eligible voters were likely to be disenfranchised as they could not secure the ID. It also ruled that registered voters are not required to show ID at the polls in order to vote this year.

The billboards read "Si Quieres Votar, Muéstrala" (If You Want to Vote, Show it), with a photo showing a women with a driver's license. The billboards are being paid for by state government using public dollars, just a few weeks before election day. Pennsylvania is doing this even though they are well aware that the billboards are false and will serve to disenfranchise eligible voters.

Before the Pennsylvania voter ID law was blocked by the courts, the state Republican House Majority Leader admitted it was enacted to "allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania" (by disenfranchising Latinos and other people of color who are most likely not to have government-issued photo IDs).

Recently, Clear Channel, which owns the billboards, was forced to take down billboards that were also misleading voters in Black and Latino neighborhoods in Ohio and Wisconsin after the public spoke up in outrage. Many Latinos are now organizing to demand that Pennsylvania remove the billboards. People are urged to sign a petition telling the Pennsylvania Department of Commonwealth and Clear Channel to take down voter suppression billboards immediately: As well, efforts are going forward to inform all that ID is not required to vote.

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Election Issues

The "Fiscal Cliff" and Dysfunctional Congress

As election day approaches, disinformation about what is called the "fiscal cliff" abounds. The fiscal cliff refers to upcoming automatic budget cuts, including to the military, increased taxes on the majority and once again reaching the "debt ceiling," all to occur during the "lame duck" session of Congress. The "lame duck" session refers to the one after the November 6 elections and before the swearing in of the new Congress January 3, 2013. It is expected to begin November 13.

The ruling circles and their monopoly media commonly refer to several main elements involved in this "fiscal cliff." One is the automatic 50 percent across-the-board budget cuts mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act, if no new budget is reached. These include 50 percent cuts both to the Pentagon budget and that for social programs. A main concern expressed is the need to make sure the cuts to the military are blocked. Simultaneously, more cuts are demanded to social programs. This is despite polls which show that a majority of the American people are against the wars in which the U.S. is embroiled and demand seriously strengthened social programs.

The monopoly financiers are claiming the country will drive "off the fiscal cliff" if drastic action is not taken. One such potential measure will be to form a committee of "moderates," under the Office of the President, to decide on the budget and prevent this "fiscal cliff." Two recent letters from the top monopoly financiers make threats about the "fiscal cliff." They too demand that Congress and the President must put the country's "fiscal house in order," or there will be more uncertainty and instability. The financiers, echoed by the media, all target Congress and demand that it act to make the necessary cuts to social programs. Former Secretary of Defense Gates called it a "make or break" situation.

In 2011 Congress gave itself more than a year to resolve conflicts, but did not succeed. It is dysfunctional at this point. Old arrangements of resolving conflict, based on the two parties of the rich and their machinery -- including power-brokers that could deliver, dividing up committee chairmanships, back room deals on pork -- all no longer function.

The intense conflicts within the ruling circles are heating up leading to Congressional dysfunction and demands for the executive to establish an allegedly bipartisan committee to control the spending power. Obama is to be the champion who saves the situation by defending the union against the danger of civil war, which is why he is always quoting Abraham Lincoln to describe the kind of leadership required within the situation. Obama directly commented that "Leadership more than anything is about setting a course and describing a vision for people Abraham Lincoln understood that we were a single union. And it took a bloody Civil War and terrible hardship and sacrifice to achieve that vision."

Obama, as president and Commander in Chief is responsible for preserving the union which requires maintaining the continuity of governance. Congress is dysfunctional, yet it has control of the public purse strings. A new arrangement is required, consistent with the huge increase in executive power under both Bush and Obama. The "lame duck" session of Congress, the last before the automatic cuts occur, is thus looked at as an arena for securing this arrangement. The fear-mongering about the "fiscal cliff" is a means to divert and deceive the public that a great danger exists which cannot be resolved in any way other than the "Commander in Chief" taking control of the public purse strings. Who this serves is readily discernable.

Among the key things left out of the "fiscal cliff" diversion are ending war funding and bringing all U.S. troops home as major ways to cut the deficit, strengthen the economy and contribute to peace worldwide. As well, there is no talk of even freezing debt payments to the financial oligarchy, another ready source of funds. Given the fact that this financial oligarchy bears the prime responsibility for the current economic crisis, and the workers are not responsible, freezing debt payments would be the obvious measure to take.

Instead, the main content of the proposals comes from the very same financial oligarchs for yet more massive cuts to social programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Their demands also mean that government workers will likely face layoffs and cuts to benefits as well.

Their various tax proposals also do not include increased corporate taxes or even guarantees these are paid. They do include requiring that whatever funds are secured by closing tax "loopholes," or eliminating deductions, are used to pay down the government's debts, mostly to themselves and their private interests. This means guaranteeing that the U.S. makes its payments to the financial monopolies on its debt, estimated at close to $500 billion yearly.

All of this confirms that the "coalition of centrists" which is likely to emerge to deal with the failure of Congress to function, will guide a "budget committee" under the office of the president. Members of this coalition of so-called centrists are also likely to be nominated to Cabinet positions. It is the next step in the take over of the public authority by private interests.

The promotion of the "cliff" is a means to justify such a move, to convince the public of its necessity at a time when people are devastated by the failure of the American dream, the promise of America to deliver economic prosperity, happiness and hope. This American dream was to be restored by Obama in the last four years, so that Americans could overcome the humiliation they felt as a result of the atrocities committed under the Bush administration which left the American dream and American promise in tatters. Instead, the refusal of the ruling elites to permit the kind of changes which are warranted at this time and their actions to depoliticize the polity are such that the feelings of humiliation either get overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness or must be turned into the kind of resistance which will bring about fundamental changes to the political and economic structures in the United States of America. Meanwhile, this election is all about how the ruling elites will continue to use the American state power to plunder and devastate both their own country and the peoples of the world to such an extent that it continues to devour even itself.

Reference Material

Top Financiers Demand Further Cuts to Social Programs

The largest U.S. financial firms are demanding cuts to social programs, especially Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, as necessary to lower U.S. debt. In two letters sent to Obama and Congress in October, these financial monopolies, who grabbed trillions of public dollars in the last "stimulus," are again demanding more payments.

They state the U.S. credit rating will be downgraded, it is just a question of when. Such a downgrade would increase rates paid by the government to borrow money -- meaning even more government payments to the rich in the form of payments on the debt.

As the one letter from 15 of the nation's largest financial monopolies put it, "Another downgrade of our nation's debt by a major rating service could lead to significantly higher interest rates." They add, "Higher interest payments would worsen our nation's fiscal burden and likely increase uncertainty and instability in global financial markets." Meanwhile these same financiers continue to get trillions from the Federal Reserve, interest free, under its "quantitative easing" program. The 15 monopolies included Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and the financiers' trade group, the Financial Services Forum.

The financiers make no mention of massive war funding as a main source of U.S. debt and no mention of cutting it as a means to lessen the "nation's fiscal burden" and increase economic stability. Ending the $1 trillion in military spending could readily deal with the current calls for $1.2 trillion in cuts over ten years. Bringing all the troops home would immediately allow for such cuts, as the war funding and spending on the more than 700 military bases and facilities worldwide would no longer be needed.

JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon says he will use all the power he has as head of the country's largest financial monopoly to press Congress for a plan to the financiers' liking. Dimon is a major backer of a Washington-based campaign known as "Fix the Debt," which is planning to spend $30 million to convince the public to support the massive cuts being demanded by the financiers. It is "Fix the Debt" that issued the second letter, called a "Deficit Manifesto" that is backed by 80 CEOs of major U.S. monopolies. These include CEOs of Alcoa, AT&T, Boeing, Caterpillar, Delta Airlines, Dow Chemical, GE, Merck, Microsoft, Time Warner, UPS, and Verizon.

The "Manifesto" calls on politicians to acknowledge, "that our growing debt is a serious threat to the economic well-being and security of the United States." It calls for Washington to adopt "an effective plan [to] stabilize the debt as a share of the economy, and put it on a downward path." The financiers again make no mention of cuts to war funding, interest free loans and/or freezing U.S. debt payments to these financiers, currently estimated at close to $500 billion. They instead argue that a plan must "Reform Medicare and Medicaid, improve efficiency in the overall health care system and limit future cost growth" and "strengthen Social Security, so that it is solvent and will be there for future beneficiaries."

Social Security has its own separate funding, and these financiers want to get their hands on it, just as they are striving to get pension funds of both private and public sector workers. "Reform" and "strengthen" are code words for gutting these programs, which already are insufficient to meet the rights of the people to health care and secure retirement.

The CEO statement also calls for "comprehensive and pro-growth tax reform, which broadens the base, lowers rates, raises revenues and reduces the deficit." The incoherence of such a plan was raised, with one commentator quoted as saying, "You can't have lower rates and higher revenues," at least "not without eviscerating pretty much all of the tax deductions which much of the middle class has learned to rely upon. Mortgage-interest tax relief, the charitable deduction, even the deduction for state and local taxes: pretty much all of them would have to go." The "Manifesto" if implemented will mean greater chaos and uncertainty as further cuts to social programs are made and taxes raised on the majority while keeping corporate taxes and freezing debt payments off the table entirely.

The statement concludes by calling on Washington to implement the recommendations of the 2010 "bipartisan" Bowles-Simpson Commission. Those included some $4 trillion in cuts to be achieved almost entirely at the expense of the working population: new taxes on consumption and employee health care benefits, cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and to the jobs and pay of government workers.

Both Obama and Romney expressed support for these demands of the monopolies. The Wall Street Journal, which published the "Manifesto," cites the comment of Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt: "There's a strong and growing consensus that the only way to reduce the deficit while also growing the economy is through a balanced approach that includes both tough spending cuts and increased revenue."

Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg told the Journal, "As president, [Romney] will bring his record of bipartisan success to Washington and put us on a path to achieve more than the Simpson-Bowles commission ever proposed."

New York Senator Calls for Significant Cuts to Social Programs

In a recent speech at the National Press Club, New York Senator Chuck Schumer proposed significant cuts to Medicare. He referred to "reducing Medicare costs by hundreds of billions of dollars." Reducing "costs" is code for major cuts to benefits. Schumer put forward his proposal for cuts to social programs in the context of upcoming budget debates during the lame duck session of Congress, which occurs after the elections but before the new Congress is sworn in.

He is presenting the cuts as part of getting Republicans to agree on a new budget. As he put it, "A grand bargain can be had: Republicans get entitlement reform (read massive cuts to social programs), while Democrats get revenue (from keeping the top income tax rate at 35 percent or higher)." The top rate is scheduled to automatically go up to 39.6 percent January 1, if Congress does not pass a new budget.

In previous battles on tax reform, Obama has agreed to lower the top rate to 28 percent, while others, like Republican Paul Ryan, have called for 25 percent. Schumer is staking out the higher rate as a starting point for the upcoming negotiations, meaning it will undoubtedly go down. He also is making it appear that he is in favor of taxing the rich, while in fact his proposals will guarantee more government payments to the financiers of New York's Wall Street.

Schumer is calling for tax loopholes used by the rich to be closed, something common to proposals by Republicans and Democrats alike. Usually, such funds are then used to cover the cuts in revenue that occur from lowering the top rate. Schumer, unlike others, is calling for all funds secured through closing loopholes or reducing deductions to be used exclusively to reduce the deficit.

What is left out of the discussion entirely is that cuts to the massive military budget, which annually is close to $1 trillion is the best way both to contend with the deficit and strengthen the economy. War spending takes funds out of the economy, while that for social programs puts money into the economy. Further, a major source of the deficit is the interest payments made to the banks on U.S. debt they hold. Schumer's proposal serves in part to guarantee these payments to the banks will be made. Instead, all such debt payments should be frozen and all war funding stopped.

Schumer also brought out that the corporate tax rate, which should be a far greater source of government revenue than individual income, should not even be included in the budget discussions. He also did not speak to the need to close corporate tax loopholes, which make it possible for the monopolies to reap record profits while paying no corporate taxes or very low ones.

Schumer did say that a main source of income for the rich comes from capital gains. He said, "capital gains make up 60 percent of the income reported by the Forbes 400," the top U.S. monopolies. But he said the rate for capital gains should not rise to the 35 percent level -- that would be "too much" for the rich. While admitting the current 15 percent is the lowest since the Depression, he said only that the difference between the two rates should be narrowed.

All of Schumer's proposals come in the context of the upcoming budget talks. They are being called, as he put it "talks on the fiscal cliff." The "cliff" refers to contending with the "much larger, more dangerous deficit," and the automatic budget cuts and tax increases that will occur at the start of the year absent a new budget. By law the new budget must include more than $1 trillion in cuts or tax increases.

For Schumer, a top Democrat from New York, to be putting forward "serious entitlement reform" as a major bargaining chip, means that massive cuts to social programs, including Medicare and Social Security are a done deal.

Further, the whole "cliff" scenario is designed to block debate among the people on alternatives, such as ending war funding and freezing payment on the debts. It is to instill fear about the future while blocking actual means to secure a bright future, by fighting for a new direction for the economy -- beginning by taking it off a war footing and putting it on a footing to provide for the rights of the people. It is also to hide the fact that so long as the people themselves are not decision makers about how taxes are utilized, then changes to the tax code are primarily a means to favor one group of the rich over the other, while continuing to take wealth from the workers.

The problem is not a "fiscal cliff." It is an economy and government serving the rich. What is needed is a new direction for the economy, beginning by ending war funding. What is needed are budget talks from the perspective of the people, which means, Stop Paying the Rich, Increase Funding for Social Programs!

(Voice of Revolution)

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The Genocide of Mass Incarceration

The U.S. government utilizes mass incarceration as a means to broadly repress and disenfranchise African Americans. It is the genocide of the present, a genocide that is intensifying yearly.

The United States prison population has grown every year for the past thirty-six years. The rate of imprisonment in the United States is now four times its historic average and seven times higher than in Western Europe. To return to 1970s levels, four out of five prisoners would need to be released. Further evidence of the intensification of use of mass incarceration is the fact that at least 60 percent of those imprisoned are there for non-violent offenses, many of them minor like possession of small amounts of marijuana. As well, according to a recent Pew study, prisoners released in 2009 served an average of nine additional months in custody, or 36 percent longer, than similar offenders released in 1990.

Overall the United States has less than 5 percent of the world's people, yet accounts for 25 percent of the world's prisoners -- currently more than two million people and growing. The racism of the U.S. state, known for its hundreds of years of slavery, is seen in facts like one-third of African American males, under 40 and forced out of high-school are currently behind bars. Among all African American men born since the mid-1960s, more than 20 percent will go to prison, nearly twice the number that will graduate college. Six million African Americans are now denied the right to vote as a result of this genocide of mass incarceration.

In the U.S., African Americans have long played a vital role in militantly resisting oppression and fighting for progress. They are recognized by the ruling circles as a significant force in the fight for rights and are singled out for massive repression. Genocide is a weapon of mass destruction practiced against whole peoples and collectives. It is government use of force to destroy cultures and memory -- of resistance, of social development and contributions.

The large majority of people across the country have expressed their outrage at the racism and government profiling of the U.S. state and demanded an end to mass incarceration. The rejection of the so-called war on drugs, used to justify this genocide is also widespread, as can be seen in the referendums in three states (Colorado, Oregon and Washington) to decriminalize marijuana. Similarly the government war on immigrants is also being rejected. Workers are together standing for rights and for progress. Their vision for society is not one of use of force against the peoples but one of defending rights. Our future lies in the fight for the rights of all. This direction is what needs to be debated and taken up for solution so as to eliminate the genocide of mass incarceration.

The issue of mass incarceration is not on the election agenda of the rich because they cannot address the fact that they cannot provide solutions to social problems, like inequality and mass repression. Faced with deepening economic and political crises, and blocking the path forward, U.S. rulers can only resort to violence as their weapon of choice. Mass incarceration and policies like Stop & Frisk and mass deportations are all intensifying, as repression is the only response to a class that cannot go forward.

The working class has an alternative for a new direction for the economy and political affairs. It calls for stepping up the independent politics of the working class, guided by the fight for the rights of all. It is these independent politics that can and must be advanced -- during the elections by refusing to vote for the pro-war politicians of the rich and afterwards, by continuing the debate comparing the answers of the ruling class and the alternatives of the working class.

(Voice of Revolution)

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Immigrant Rights

Consider the government killings and violence against immigrants on the border and in communities across the country; increased racist government profiling and impunity to use raids and deportation to terrorize immigrant workers, youth and families; one million deported in the past two years, most guilty of no crime or at most traffic violations and similar non-violent misdemeanors; privately-owned detention centers with inhuman conditions funded from the public treasury; federal programs imposing profiling and involving local and state police authorities in enforcing federal immigration law. These are some of the major problems on the issue of immigrant rights needing solution. Yet the issue of immigration and racist government profiling is barely being mentioned. And when it is, it is generally to say that yet more violence and militarization of the border is required.

Since January 2010 there have been 18 deaths along the border with Mexico by U.S. immigration agents. Six involved individuals killed while they stood on the Mexican side of the border, guilty of no crime. Six were under the age of twenty-one and five U.S. citizens. Militarization of the border is such that helicopters with snipers are used to fire on and kill people simply trying to work, as the recent killings of two Guatemalan migrant workers shows.

The aim of the U.S. rulers in militarizing the border while also promoting fear and violence is to divide workers, undermine friendly relations among them on both sides of the border while justifying use of U.S. military forces inside Mexico. The U.S. wants to annex all of Mexico and Canada and establish a single state in service to the North American monopolies. They want a single common pool of cheap labor and control of the natural resources for their empire building. Violence at the border, efforts to divide workers inside the U.S. and pit U.S. and Mexican workers against each other are all part of this effort.

Attacks on immigrants are a means to further attack all workers, such as through demands for biometric identification cards for all workers. The many detention camps, most privately-run but publicly-funded, are currently used for immigrants. But they can just as easily be used as future labor camps for those who cannot secure the national ID cards planned (see for example, proposals by New York Senator Chuck Schumer).

The hundreds of thousands of deportations (including many workers who have lived in the U.S. for years) are a means to undermine the role workers of Mexican descent play in developing the independent politics of the U.S. working class. As part of the single U.S. working class, these workers have the honor of restoring mass May Day demonstrations in the U.S., uniting workers and building the struggle for the rights of all.

Strengthening the unity and organized resistance to government profiling, racism and plans for labor camps -- beginning with the detention camps now in place, is vital to advancing the independent politics of the working class. The rulers are organizing to heighten tensions and divisions and use issues of immigration for this.

Obama and Romney want to silence debate on the vital issue of immigrant rights or manipulate it to secure votes. Obama, for example, promised to use discretion in deporting undocumented youth. More than one million youth are eligible for the program he established. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials had prepared to process 300,000 applications by October 1. But only about 120,000 people have applied, as they anticipate providing information to the government will lead to their detention and deportation. Less than 5,000 people have actually received the work permits and deportation deferrals so far. Romney has said undocumented immigrants should "self-deport," while Obama has set up machinery, including detention camps, for deporting one million immigrants while profiling and terrorizing many more.

Whichever man is selected as president, workers need to carry forward discussion on defending immigrant rights and developing relations of mutual respect and benefit with workers worldwide, during and after the elections. Election day is not the end of such efforts, rather a call to advance them further.

(Voice of Revolution)

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