As one might imagine, the Troops Out Now Coalition has much to say about last night’s State of the Union address. The following comes from TONC’S Action-News mailing list:
Traditionally, the State of the Union address is an opportunity for presidents to highlight their accomplishments and to lay out their vision for the coming years. Tonight, President George W. Bush, in his address, failed on both counts, because the past year has been one of horrific blunders on every front, and he has no new proposals to offer, merely a tired call to “stay the course.”
The people will give their response to Bush’s State of the Union speech by making the 3rd anniversary of the criminal invasion of Iraq, March 18, a day of mass protest to stop the war, with protests all over the globe, including a massive convergence on Time Square in New York City.
Hurricane Katrina: Racism and Criminal Neglect
The president made only passing mention of one the the biggest failures of his Administration, the catastrophe that followed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. But the whole world remembers watching the scenes of horror and despair on the streets of New Orleans, as people died, abandoned by every level of government because they were poor and Black. While everyone watched newscasts of people dying of thirst as FEMA did nothing to help, Bush praised the FEMA director, saying, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”
Bush promised to help “rebuild” the area, but made no mention of the tens of thousands of evacuees who are scattered across the country, many homeless. These people have a right to return to the city and a right to determine how the region will be rebuilt. They, not Bush’s millionaire friends, have a right to control the money for rebuilding the area.
Packing the Court
Bush gloated over the confirmation of Samuel Alito, a right wing ideologue, to the Supreme Court. Alito, who wrote that he was “particularly proud” of his work on cases arguing that “racial and ethnic quotas should not be allowed and that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion,” was a member of Concerned Alumni of Princeton University, an organization formed to oppose the presence of women and people of color at Princeton.
Banks Get Rich While the Poor Can’t Afford Health Care
Despite the growing number of people in the U.S. without health care, Bush offered no real solution. Instead, he promoted the idea of expanding health savings accounts, which does nothing to make health care more affordable or accessible. Even the Congressional Budget Office and the Treasury Department said that the plan would make little impact on the number of people without health care. These health savings accounts will put more money into the hands of Bush’s friends in the financial world, but won’t do anything to provide health care to the more than 35 million uninsured people in the U.S.
Meanwhile, there will be fewer resources available for health care, or for other basic necessities like housing and education, as Bush promised to cut spending so that he can make the tax cuts for the wealthy permanent.
Police State Tactics
Bush used the words “freedom” and “democracy” repeatedly as justification for his policies of endless war, but an examination of his actions here and world-wide demonstrate that he has no interest in either. He has authorized the NSA to conduct massive wiretapping operations against people in the U.S. without warrants, in direct violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Constitution. He has authorized the Department of Defense to spy on and infiltrate antiwar meetings and organizations. Under the PATRIOT Act, FBI agents search library records, book store sales, and other personal records and conduct widespread surveillance without any probable cause. He has ordered intelligence agencies to kidnap people off of the streets and drag them from their homes, fly them to other countries, and torture them in a secret global network of detention camps. Under his mantra of “freedom and democracy” lies a full-scale war on civil liberties and civil rights.
“Advanced Energy Initiative” for Exxon
Each year, in attempt to grab headlines the following day, Bush has introduced a new initiative that has never lasted longer than his address. A few years ago, he promised $15 billion for AIDS treatment in Africa–money that never materialized. This year, the Bush claimed that the Administration is working to help develop alternative energy sources. But an examination of his actions over the past five years reveal an Administration completely at the service of Big Oil. In 2005, he cut the funding for alternate energy by 50 percent.
As soon as Bush took office, he proposed cutting the Department of Energy’s renewable fuels and energy efficiency budget by as much as 40 percent. Meanwhile, Vice President Cheney was in secret meetings with executives from Enron, Exxon, Conoco, Shell Oil and other energy companies, where they studied petroleum maps of Iraq and developed the national energy policy of the Administration. We can only conclude that when Bush talks about looking for “alternative fuel sources,” he actually means looking for another oil-rich country to invade.
For some, this policy has been enormously successful–on Monday, Exxon Mobil disclosed that it had set a record for profits among U.S. companies, reporting $36 billion in annual income. But for others, like working people who are paying record prices to drive to work or heat their homes, the Bush energy policy has been an unmitigated disaster. We can be sure that, despite his talk about “alternative fuels,” his primary and central goal is to ensure maximum profits for the oil companies.
Bush: ‘Stay the Course’ – Bombing, Torture, and Occupation
Bush made a desperate attempt to restore confidence in his failed adventure in Iraq, outlining a strategy for “victory” that is really just a repeat of the same lines he has been using since he declared “mission accomplished” almost three years ago.
Bush asserted once again, that the U.S. is “on the offensive in Iraq, with a clear plan for victory.” But the plan he outlined is to is the same brutal plan that he has been following for three years. He did not mention the more than 100,000 Iraqi people that have died as a result of the U.S. invasion and occupation. Nor did he address the fact that every reason he gave to justify the war has now been exposed as a deliberate lie.
Despite his talk of “freedom” and “democracy,” the ghastly torture chambers of Abu Ghraib, the continued bombing of Iraqi homes, the use of depleted uranium, phosphorous, napalm, and other illegal weapons of mass destruction, all reveal the brutal nature of the war against the people of Iraq.
In addition to pledging to continue the criminal occupation of Iraq, Bush continued his demonization of Iran. In recent months, Bush and his collaborators in the corporate media have been repeating the same lines they used to justify the war with Iraq, claiming that Iran is building “weapons of mass destruction.”
No Opposition from the Democrats
Bush’s criminal war against Iraq has brought justified resistance throughout Iraq and outrage across the globe. Everywhere he travels, he is met with massive protest in the streets. But those who listened to the Democratic Party’s response expecting some real opposition were sorely disappointed. Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine, speaking for the Democrats, weakly differed with Bush, offering no real alternative, and disagreed with Bush only on tactics. The Democratic criticism of the war in Iraq is not based on the fact that the war is a criminal act that has resulted in more than 100,000 deaths, but on the fact that Bush has been unable to successfully crush the resistance of the people of Iraq.
Gov. Timothy Kaine claimed that the Democrats were lied to about the war, but the Democrats had access to the same intelligence that the Bush Administration had. They were well aware that the U.S. war against the people of Iraq was based on false premises, but enthusiastically supported the war, hoping that Bush would deliver a quick conquest and control of Iraq’s vast oil reserves. Now that U.S. plans to colonize Iraq are clearly failing, they hope to make political gains in an election year by attacking Bush’s handling of the war, but will not and cannot oppose the war itself. The antiwar movement will gain nothing by helping them.
The Democrats offer no challenge to Bush’s program of endless war and domestic repression; they merely offer themselves as better managers of that agenda. Their program is not to end the war, but to “redeploy,” which is a rehashing of Nixon’s Vietnamization strategy, meaning that some ground forces would be removed while the incessant bombing of Iraqi civilians would escalate. On Iraq and on every major issue, the Democrats differ with Bush only on tactics–they want to achieve the same goals, because they represent the same corporate interests as the Bush Administration. This is why, even though Bush’s poll numbers decline, the Democrats’ poll numbers aren’t rising–they do not offer any alternative course.
Everywhere that people have had the opportunity to vote against the agenda of global empire, occupation, and colonialism, they have done so–in Palestine, Venezuela, and Bolivia voters stood against the Bush agenda, even at great risk. But people are offered no such choice with the Democratic Party, because it is not an opposition party–it represents the same interests as the Republicans, with some minor differences on management style.
Make a Difference – In the Streets – March 18 & 19
Neither the Democrats nor the Republican in Washington, DC, speak for the people. Both are appendages of Wall Street and are committed to an agenda of global corporate domination. If we want to end the war, to have health care, education, and housing for all, to fight racism, to defend the rights of women, immigrants, and the LGBT communities, then we have to build a mass movement in the streets, and we have to stay in the streets. We can never again allow the antiwar movement to be misled into serving the interests of corporate politicians.
We must build a movement that will do what the war parties will never do –link the struggles of working people here with the struggles against war and occupation everywhere, including not only Iraq, but Palestine, Haiti, Afghanistan, Nepal, the Philippines, and everywhere people are struggling to for freedom and self-determination.
March 18 & 19, 2006 will mark the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. The Troops Out Now Coalition calls on the entire antiwar community at the local and national level to rise above anything that would hinder the unity that the world and history demands of us. Together we must grasp the opportunity to help transform the turning tide against the war into a human tidal wave of antiwar resistance in the streets.
On the weekend of March 18 & 19, TONC joins with all who are calling for coordinated mass actions coast to coast and around the world. TONC proposes that the movement jointly target military recruiting stations all across the country on this weekend with coordinated protests, especially neighborhood recruiting stations in poor communities and communities of color. We can shut the war down, and the way to start is by shutting down military recruiting.
In the New York City region we call on activists to protest in the morning at the recruiting office on 125th Street in Harlem as well as other neighborhood recruiting offices.
In the afternoon we urge everyone to converge on Times Square, where the best known recruiting station in the country is located, for a massive rally to shut down the recruiting station and the entire area.
TONC offers the following points reflecting our perspective as we open the new year of struggle against the war:
- If we learned anything from the 2004 presidential elections, it is that we must not demobilize and retreat from the streets in order to pour all of our energy into the congressional elections next fall. The antiwar movement must never again allow itself to be deceived into surrendering its independence to serve the interests of either corporate political party. Our growth, our independence, our visibility, our effectiveness, power and very existence depend on the antiwar movement making the streets the central battlefield in the struggle to stop the war.
- We urge the entire movement to demand an end to colonial occupations, not only in Iraq, but in Afghanistan, Palestine, and Haiti, and in every part of the world where people are resisting occupation, intervention, and colonialism. The strength of the resistance in Iraq, the continued struggle of the people of Palestinian against occupation, and the virtual region wide rebellion against U.S. imperialism in Latin America and the Caribbean, are only the latest reminder that every front in the struggle against colonial occupation and empire are interconnected. The growing threat of economic and military attacks on Iran are another reminder. The more that the antiwar movement here solidarizes itself with these fronts, the more our movement will be viewed as independent, vital and a relevant part of a larger world struggle against war and imperialism.
- On the home front, our challenge as a movement is to fully embrace the struggle of poor and working people, and the struggle against racism in particular. No sector of the population is more antiwar than the Katrina evacuees, or immigrant workers, or transit workers, etc. The best way to facilitate the active participation of working and poor people is for us to find meaningful ways of solidarizing the anti-war movement with their daily struggles.
In short, TONC urges peace-and-justice-loving people to take action:
– Support the Struggle of Katrina Evacuees. Build Levees Not Bombs
– Stop the Illegal Surveillance. Overturn the “Patriot Act”
– Stop the attacks on women, immigrants, and the LGBT communities
– No War Against Iran. Hands off Venezuela and Cuba.
– From Latin America & the Carribean, to Africa, Asia and the Middle East- No More Interventions
– Money for Jobs, Healthcare, Housing and School – Not War!