Sunday, April 24, 2016

People Taking Charge: The United Farm Workers Union

"We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community. Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sake and for our own."  - Cesar Chavez

        The United Farm Workers Union of America, or more commonly just United Farm Workers, is a labor union for farm workers in the United States. It originated from the merger of two workers' rights organizations, the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, led by Filipino American organizer Larry Itliong, and the National Farm Workers Association, led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta. They became allied and transformed from workers' rights organizations into a union as a result of a series of strikes in 1965. It all began when Itliong's organization, working out of Delano, California, initiated a grape strike. In solidarity with Itliong, Chavez and Huerta's organization went on strike, as well. On August 22, 1966, citing commonalities in both their goals and their methods, the two organization came together and formed the United Farm Workers Organizing Committee. In 1972, this organization was accepted into the AFL-CIO, and promptly, changed its name to the United Farm Workers Union.

        Larry Dulay Itliong was a Filipino American labor organizer. He organized agricultural workers on the west coast starting in the 1930s, and rose to national prominence in 1965, when he, Philip Vera Cruz, Benjamin Gines and Pete Velasco walked off the farms of California area table grape growers. They demanded that their wages be brought up to the federal minimum wage. This event came to be known as the Delano Grape Strike. Itliong has been described as one of the fathers of the labor movement on the west coast. Dolores Clara Fernandez Huerta is a Mexican American labor leader and civil rights activist. She is most famous for co-founding the National Farm Workers Association with Cesar Chavez. In the early 1950s, she completed a degree at Delta Community College, then part of the University of the Pacific. Afterwards, she worked as an elementary school teacher. However, Huerta saw that her students, many of them children of farm workers, were living in poverty without enough food to eat or other basic necessities. She could not abide this, and so, she she helped found the Stockton chapter of the Community Service Organization. This organization worked to improve the social and economic conditions of farm workers and their children, as well as, to fight discrimination. Cesar Chavez was the best known Latin American civil rights activist of the 1960s and 1970s, and was strongly promoted by the American labor movement, which was eager to take in Hispanic members. His public relations approach to unionism and his aggressive, but nonviolent tactics, made the farm workers' struggle a moral cause with nationwide support. By the mid to late 1970s, Chavez had forced growers to recognize the United Farm Workers as the bargaining agent for over 50,000 field workers in both California and Florida.

        The event that made the United Farm Workers a household name was the Delano Grape Strike. This was a labor strike against table grape growers in California. The strike began on September 8, 1965, and lasted more than five years. Due largely to a consumer boycott of non union grapes, the strike ended with a significant victory for the United Farm Workers. The Union also secured its first big contract with the growers. The strike began when the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, mostly Filipino farm workers in Delano, California, led by Philip Vera Cruz, Larry Itliong, Benjamin Gines and Pete Velasco, walked off the farms of area table grape growers, demanding wages equal to the federal minimum wage. One week after the strike began, the predominantly Mexican American National Farm Workers Association, led by Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta, joined the strike, and eventually, the two groups merged. In August of 1966, they formed what would eventually become the United Farm Workers. The strike rapidly spread to over 2,000 workers. Through its grassroots efforts, using consumer boycotts, marches, community organizing, and nonviolent resistance, the Union brought national attention to the plight of some of the nation's lowest-paid workers. By July of 1970, the Union had succeeded in reaching a collective bargaining agreement with the table grape growers, affecting in excess of 10,000 farm workers. The Union, however, was not working on its own. Itliong, Huerta, Chavez, and Cruz were able to enlist the assistance of American consumers. Their refusal to purchase non union products is what made the strike a success. This was a major public relations success for the Union.

        In the mid 1970s, just as Chavez and the United Farm Workers reached the height of their influence, they began to experience setbacks. Failed legislative initiatives gave Chavez the idea that the Union suffered from disloyalty, poor motivation, and lack of communication. He felt that the union needed to turn into a movement. He took inspiration from the Synanon community of California, which he had visited previously. The Synanon Community began as a drug rehabilitation center before turning into a New Age religious organization. Synanon pioneered what they referred to as, the Game. In this Game, each member would be singled out in turn to receive harsh, profanity laced criticism from the rest of the community. Chavez instituted this Game in the Union. He had volunteers, including senior members of the organization, receive verbal abuse from their peers. He felt that he was opening lines of communication within the Union that had somehow become closed over time. He also fired many members, whom he accused of disloyalty. In some cases, he even accused volunteers of being spies for either the Republican Party or the Communists. In 1977, Chavez attempted to reach back out to Filipino American farm workers in a way that ended up backfiring. Acting on the advice of former Union leader Andy Imutan, Chavez met with President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines, in Manila, and endorsed his regime, which was seen by human rights advocates and religious leaders as a vicious dictatorship. This caused further trouble for the Union, leading to Philip Vera Cruz's resignation from the organization. Cruz opposed the Marcos regime and was against the trip to the Philippines from the outset. 

        During this period, Chavez also clashed with other Union members over policy issues. Many of the Union's leaders wanted to create locals for the Union, which was typical for national unions, but Chavez was firmly against this measure. He argued so on the grounds that it detracted from his vision for the Union existing as a fluid movement. By the end of the 1970s, only one member of the Union's original Board of Directors remained in place. In the 1980s, with the Union declining, Chavez got into real-estate development. Embarrassingly, some of the development projects he was involved with used non union construction workers, which later made national news in the New Yorker. This caused a scandal that damaged his reputation. He did not abandon the cause of America's farm workers, though. In 1988, Chavez attempted another grape boycott to protest farm workers' routine exposure to poisonous and deadly pesticides. Bumper stickers reading, No Grapes, or Uvas No, the Spanish translation, were produced and sold over a widespread area to help support the workers who would inevitably suffer the effects of a backlash from the growers. However, the boycott failed. The failure of the boycott did no sit well with Chavez and he undertook what was to be his last fast. He had been known to use the fast as a symbol of resistance. He fasted for a total of thirty five days before he was finally convinced by members of the Union that the cause was futile, and that he should begin eating again.  He lost a great deal of weight during the fast, and it is widely believed that the effect that the fast had on his body was a contributing factor to his death five years later. This is not inconceivable, as he never truly fully recovered his health after the fast. 

        Many will argue that the decline and near collapse of the National Farm Workers Union can be directly attributed to Cesar Chavez's failures. They will say that his erratic behavior, his political and social blunders, and his, at times, tyrannical administration of the Union were the prime causes of the Union's troubles. They will say that if he had been removed from leadership of the Union in the mid seventies, the cause of the American farm worker would have been in better hands administratively and would have been better positioned to make economic gains at a key point in their struggle. A couple things can be said about these people. First, they may be working for the people that are actually responsible for the decline of the Union, the FBI. It is now well documented that the J. Edgar Hoover, and his goons at the FBI, did to Chavez and the United Farm Workers, the same things that they did to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, the Weather Underground, the Black Liberation Army, and many more similar people and organizations. They bugged the homes of Chavez and other prominent leaders, they sent them threatening mail, they worked with the local police to undermine their initiatives, and on multiple occasions, used force in their effort to intimidate them. They spied on events, and they used special agents to infiltrate the Union. The agents' job was then to disrupt activities wherever possible. If not this, then the people that say these things about Chavez and the Union have simply bought in to the racist rhetoric that the FBI distributed about them. Either way, directly or indirectly, they are the ones that are responsible for the decline of United Farm Workers, not Chavez. Can anyone truly imagine what it must be like to be under such constant and direct scrutiny from the federal government? The potential negative effects that such things could have on a person's mental and physical health are undeniable.

        If you are doubtful, consider the real fact that Chavez's FBI File was released for public view in 1995. The first entry in his FBI file is dated October 8, 1965. It noted that a bureau informant had picked up word that Cesar Chavez, the charismatic migrant worker who was seeking to organize California farm laborers, possibly had a subversive background. The report noted that the informant was rather vague about the information. There were no specific details provided. It also noted that another confidential source had a file on Chavez allegedly showing that he had a communist background. This second informant also implicated some of the other leaders in Chavez's organization. This person stated that they had potential subversive backgrounds. He was not, however, able to offer any specific indication of the potential charges against any of the individuals he named, like Cruz, Huerta, and others. Thus began the surveillance and infiltration of the farm workers movement by the FBI. Prompted by rumor and hearsay, the shadowing of Chavez under the administrations of Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon would continue for more than seven years, involving hundreds of agents nationwide at an astronomical cost to the American taxpayer. In the end, this resulted in the creation of a 1,434 page FBI file, but little else. 

        These reports say more about the practices of the FBI under its longtime director, J. Edgar Hoover, than they do about Chavez and his union. Despite keeping tabs on marches, picketing and meetings from Delano, Calif., the site of a prolonged strike and the Union's headquarters, to New York City, no evidence of Communist or subversive influence was ever discovered. Aside from a lengthy collection of insignificant reports, and a huge bill, the only other thing produced by the whole ordeal was just one more piece of evidence that this country's government is engaged in a war against its own people, and more specifically, its minority population. While Chavez and the National Farm Workers Union were getting harassed by the FBI, white unions of this period, the most prominent being the Teamster's Union, were receiving government subsidies. Here is the terrible thing about all of this. The FBI's behavior has not changed; in fact, it has only gotten worse. With the assistance of ever more advanced technology, federal legislation, in the form of the Patriot Act and the Freedom Act, and increased manpower, the FBI and other organizations like it have the tools they need to wage war against the American people like never before. They can bug your entire house without ever stepping a single foot inside. They can tap your cell phones and see everything that you post, text, or take a picture of. They can enter your home without cause. They can use drones to follow your every move. They can arrest you without a warrant, and they can detain you indefinitely, citing the suspicion that, quoting Chavez's FBI file, you might "possibly have a subversive background," as the only evidence justifying their actions. Anyone, from any minority group in this country that speaks out, is going to get this entire arsenal thrown at them. Standing up under such pressure, now, is going to be a whole new ordeal and will require a new kind of courage that only a truly mass movement can possess. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

People Taking Charge: The Black Liberation Army

"People get used to anything. The less you think about your oppression, the more your tolerance for it grows. After a while, people just think oppression is the normal state of things. But to become free, you have to be acutely aware of being a slave." - Assata Shakur

        The Black Liberation Army, or just the Army, was an underground black nationalist revolutionary organization, which effectively operated in the United States from 1970 to 1981. Composed largely of former members of the Black Panther Party, the organization's program was one of armed struggle, and its stated goal was to take up arms for the liberation and self-determination of black people in the United States. To further this effort, the organization carried out a series of bombings, assassinations, bank and armored vehicle heists, what participants termed expropriations, and prison breaks. The organization, like many of its kind, was born out of government oppression. The FBI, CIA, and local police department's Counter-Intelligence Program planted degenerative seeds to increase tensions and factionalism within the Black Panther Party. Their efforts culminated in a split between Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver. While Newton remained the leader of the now broken Panther organization, Cleaver went on to lead what came to be known as the Black Liberation Army, which had previously existed only as the underground faction, and fighting apparatus, of the Panthers. The Army was considered, by some, to be notoriously brutal because of the tactics that they used, police car bombings and the like, while waging war against local police department oppressors.

        The Black Liberation Army's operational standard was a mixture of, generally, three leftist political philosophies. Their combat strategy was based on Maoism. Maoism rejects the idea of the vanguard party and puts responsibility for the revolution in the hands of the rank and file of the general citizenry. As such, they do not fight like a traditional military force, but rather, they organize independent cells, usually operating in their own home territories, and fight a guerrilla style revolution. The goal is to make it difficult to catch, or even be able to identify, any major leaders, but also to confuse and disrupt the oppressing force, as they are faced with different fighting strategies in every territory that they control. They combined this with a hint on Anarchism. Very simply defined, Anarchism is the absence of authority. The Army implemented this philosophy with their choice of targets and their 'no terms accepted' attack campaign. They attacked government buildings, bombed police vehicles, and robbed government owned or operated armored vehicles, all in an effort to established amongst the general public, a sense that the government was losing its authority. They wanted the people to believe that the government could no longer effectively protect them. Their intended governing and economic strategy was based upon the principles of Marxist–Leninism. Marxist–Leninists espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of Marxism and Leninism, but generally they all support the idea of a vanguard party, a pro working class agenda, state control of the economy, internationalism, opposition to bourgeois democracy, and opposition to capitalism.

        War without terms commenced on May 19, 1971, the anniversary of Malcolm X's birth. Two officers guarding the residence of the prosecutor in the Panther 21 trial were lured into a trap. The Panther 21 was a group of twenty-one Black Panther members who were arrested and accused of executing a planned  and well coordinated bombing and long-range rifle attack on two police stations and an education office in New York City. The trial eventually collapsed and the twenty-one members were acquitted. A car drove the wrong way down a one way street and a squad car gave chase. A few blocks away someone in the fleeing vehicle opened fire with an automatic weapon, seriously wounding both officers. Two days later the press received the first communique from the Army, "The armed goons of the racist government will again meet the guns of oppressed third world peoples as long as they occupy our community and murder our brothers and sisters in the name of American law and order. Just as the fascist Marines and US Army occupy Vietnam in the name of democracy and murder Vietnamese people in the name of American imperialism are confronted with the guns of the Vietnamese liberation army, the domestic armed forces of racism and oppression will be confronted with the guns of the Black Liberation Army, who will meet out in the tradition of Malcolm and all true revolutionaries, real justice." That very day, May 21, the Army struck again. Two patrolmen were ambushed outside a public housing development in Harlem. They were struck from behind, at close range, with automatic-weapons fire. Both were killed. One of the officers was black, a traitor to his people, according to the Army.

        For a short period, the Army then went quite. However, on January 28, 1972, they once again took the offensive. Two NYPD officers were ambushed on the Lower East Side and taken down by submachine-gun fire. The assailants stood over the fallen officers and emptied their magazines into the bodies. Shortly thereafter, the authorities received a communique from the George Jackson Squad of the Black Liberation Army, "No longer will black people tolerate Attica and oppression and exploitation and rape of our black community. This is the start of our spring offensive. There is more to come. We also dealt with the pigs in Brooklyn." The last sentence referred to two recent past incidents in which officers had been wounded by unknown attackers. The Army next showed up in St. Louis, on February 15. A gun battle erupted during a routine traffic stop and one officer was wounded. Other officers on the scene returned fire, killing one fighter and wounding two more. A search of the car turned up one of the pistols taken from the officers who were ambushed on January 28. After this, the Army went quite again for almost a year. January of 1973, however, was an active month. On the twelfth, a fighter wounded two off-duty housing detectives in New York. Twelve days later, the NYPD cornered three fighters at a bar, killing two in the shoot-out. In retaliation, the Army ambushed random patrol cars on January 25 and 28, wounding four officers. In its communique announcing the event, the Army urged black cops, "do not take up arms against us. Refuse to be pitted in mortal combat against your own people, defending a system which has enslaved, still exploits, brutalizes and murders black people."

        The first phase, essentially, in the life of the Black Liberation Army came to an end on November 15, 1973, when one of the last of Army's fighters was gunned down on a street in the Bronx. Massive police manhunts and street executions had been taking place for around two years up to that point. During the arrest, the pulled a gun and wounded an FBI agent, two police officers, and a bystander before being killed in a hail of bullets. He was the seventh fighter to be killed by the authorities. Nineteen others had been apprehended by then, including the only white associate of the Army, up to that point, Marilyn Buck. She purchased weapons and ammunition for the Army at gun shows. She was arrested in March of 1973. In 1974, a group in Jacksonville, Florida began abducting and murdering white youths. The group took credit for the killings in the name of the Black Liberation Army, declaring that the victims were executed and made to pay for the political crimes that have been perpetrated upon black people; however, this group was not connected with the New York fighters, and did not receive aide from any of its supporters. These four members were caught and convicted for the murders they committed in 1975.

        The second phase in the Black Liberation Army's war was fought in courtrooms, jails, and prisons. Several fighters were acquitted or had charges dismissed or reduced, but most were convicted and received long sentences. Many did not resign themselves to this new Babylonian captivity, however. They plotted with comrades on the outside and made numerous attempts to escape. Several were successful, but many more remained in captivity. One imprisoned fighter escaped from a county hospital on September 27, 1973, only to be recaptured a week later. On December 27, four Army supporters were caught trying to break into the Tombs through the sewer system. Another four tried again on April 17, 1974. They were using a small blow torch to cut through a steel partition in a visitors booth. The attempt failed, and they fled. These supporters were tracked to New Haven, CT and captured on May 4, but only after a shoot-out in which two police officers were wounded. On August 5, 1974, a woman was caught trying to sneak a hacksaw blade in her shoe to an imprisoned fighter. A week later that same fighter and two of his comrades overpowered their guards and tried to scale a fence at the Brooklyn House of Detention. The fighter was shot and recaptured.

        On February 17, 1975, fighters in wet suits paddled rafts through the East River to Riker's Island and tried to free 11 comrades held there, but the attempt failed. On May 12, a group of supporters smuggled explosives, mace, knives, wrenches, and lock picks to three fighters on trial in the New York Criminal Courts building. The materials were hidden in large envelopes and sat on a courtroom table all day before being discovered in the holding pen after the trial. Two weeks later, two more fighters broke free from their cell and tried to climb down a wall at the Brooklyn House of Detention. The improvised rope broke and one fighter plunged one hundred feet to his death. The other fighter was recaptured at the outer fence. There were other attempts too. A prison uprising in New Jersey was organized by a fighter. Marilyn Buck went AWOL while on a prison furlough, and went back underground. However, the most famous escape attempt liberated the heart and soul of the Black Liberation Army, Assata Shakur. Several fighters forced their way into the minimum security facility where she was being held and led her out safely. The getaway vehicles were driven by Buck and another white woman from the M-19 organization. Assata was then spirited out of the country and into exile in Cuba. Her escape was a media sensation.

        The final phase of the Black Liberation Army's story involved what came to be known as the Family. It was a mixed group of fighters, white revolutionaries, and experienced armed stickup men. The goal was no longer to directly battle the authority figures of the government, but instead, to do damage to their pocket books. Some of the proceeds from the seizures were funneled back to black nationalist groups, but the rest of the money was distributed within the Family. On June 2, 1981, the Family netted nearly $300,000 from an armored car in the Bronx. Unfortunately, in the process, one of the guards was killed and another was wounded. To the dismay of many, their last job proved to be bloodier. The plan was to rob a Brinks armored car at a mall in upstate New York. Some of the proceeds were to be used to bomb a Brooklyn police precinct where one of the fighters had been previously held. The attack started out well, but ended poorly. The Family initially made off with $1.6 million in cash, but they killed another guard and wounded two others in the process. A few minutes later the getaway truck was stopped at a roadblock. The white participants, members of the Weather Underground, were driving, while the fighters jumped out from behind the truck and engaged the police. In the fray, they took out two officers and wounded another. One of their own was also mortally wounded by the return fire, and Marilyn Buck shot herself while pulling a pistol from her boot. The team then piled into several cars, but the car with the cash was crashed during the post battle chase, and four members of the Family were apprehended. Others were captured in the days to come. Mutulu Shakur was able to escape. The Black Liberation Army had come to an end in a single battle.

        Over the course of a decade, fighters killed at least 14 guards or law enforcement officers and wounded more than 20. Nine of their own died in action and more than two dozen were convicted on various charges. At its height, the police believed that the Army, or at least its New York branch, consisted of at least twenty-five to thirty solid activists and another seventy-five supporters. Sixteen people belonged to the Family, including associates from the Weather Underground. Although they justifiably had no faith in the criminal justice system, several fighters were acquitted at trial. Assata Shakur's first trial ended in a miss trial. In the second trial, she was acquitted of bank robbery; but in the third she was convicted of first-degree murder for the shooting of a New Jersey State Trooper. Henry Brown was acquitted for the murder of the two police officers in January of 1972 but was convicted on several other charges. Richard Moore was found guilty in 1973 for the Army's first attack; but eventually, his conviction was thrown out, and he was paid a large cash settlement by the federal government. All of those involved in the October 1981 Brinks armored car assault received long prison sentences. A few members of the Family, as they had referred to themselves then, have been released in recent years, but many fighters are still awaiting parole.

        So, let us rap our minds around this whole ordeal. Of course, the setting is the late 1960s to the late 1980s. The circumstances are post Civil Rights Movement government oppression and massive social resistance to that oppression. The two prime players are JoAnne Deborah Byron, better known as, Assata Olugbala Shakur, and Jeral Wayne Williams, better known as, Mutulu Shakur. Assata had a Bachelor's Degree from the City College of New York, and Mutulu was a licensed Acupuncturist through the state of California and the Assistant Director of the Lincoln Detox Community Program in Harlem. Yet, by 1986, Assata was in exile in Cuba, as a Political Refugee, and Mutulu was incarcerated in a federal prison in California, as a Political Prisoner. These are kind, intelligent, and well educated people. What on Gaia's Earth could possibly lead them down such violent and lonely paths, as have been laid out this article? If one ponders the issue for just a moment, the answer should come to their mind fairly quickly. It's not hard. In fact, it's easier to grasp than glimpsing the noon day sun in the middle of a Texas summer. It's the repressed emotion built up from four hundred years of direct exposure to a highly organized and brutally enforced system of oppression designed to place an entire people at the bottom of a society that is taught to loathe them for no other reason than that they have a darker skin tone. It's the theft of an identity, a culture, a language, a religion, and soul and the forced adoption of an alien identity that grinds at the very core of the human spirit. It's the loss of personal autonomy. It's bone-wrenching poverty. It's the loss of self-awareness, and its the destruction of the inner moral compass that should inform a person that what is happening to them is wrong.

        This country, and the white people that rule it, are guilty of the kidnapping, rape, and murder of an entire people, and they are pretending like it was all a bad dream. They are guilty so because rather that doing the right thing and correcting a four hundred year old heinous crime, they perpetuated the atrocity and made it even worse. The period in which the Black Liberation Army's operations took place is evidence that it was, in fact, very real, but somewhere along the way, it's as if this country was struck by a brick in the back of the head and is now suffering from a severe case of amnesia. The massive media propaganda machine that the white elite have under their control wants us to believe that racism, state oppression, and all the crimes of their forefathers are no longer something that happens in this country. Once the last of the great icons of resistance were either in prison or had fled the country, Assata and Mutulu, they hijacked the mid 1950s to mid 1960s Civil Rights Movement; and put it on a high pedestal as an example of what good honest black folks can get when they come asking for their rights the 'right way.' They the made everyone else after that, the people that actually fought to take control of what they had finally realized was always theirs to begin with, their human dignity, out to be crazy wild beasts and common street criminals, worthy of nothing more than a jail cell. They clandestinely made it out that that was where 'those types' belonged anyways. With that done, they polished everything up nice and pretty and then went about brainwashing the entire country into believing that all the trouble was over. They try to tell us, even to this day, "Racism is no more." We are all friends now.

        Well, guess what? White culture can consider me a defector because I am calling the fraudulent white cracks that rule over this debauched and rigged hell hole out! American police officers killed 102 unarmed black people in 2015, nearly two each week. Only 10 of the 102 cases in 2015 where an unarmed black person was killed by police resulted in the officer being charged with a crime, and only one of these deaths resulted in actual convictions of the officers involved. Approximately thirteen percent of the American population is African American, but African Americans make up thirty-five percent of all jail inmates. A black male born in 1991 has a twenty-nine percent chance of spending time in prison at some point in his life. In 2014, six percent of all black males ages thirty to thirty-nine were in prison, compared to two percent of Hispanic males and one percent of white males in the same age group. This is just looking at two of the many lopsided statistical categories that exist as hard evidence that the race problem in the United States, far from dead and buried, is still very much alive. The Black Lives Matter movement would not be picking up steam if this was not the case. The Filming Cops movement would not be so controversial if all was well. I would argue that a powder keg on a short fuse is lying just beneath the surface of the ruling elite's finely tuned veil of ignorance. If the people protesting now, are not able to obtain the redresses they seek peacefully, the transition that occurred from the mid 1960s to the early 1970s, from peaceful Civil Rights Movement to revolutionary Black Liberation Movement, will happen again, and this time it will be much worse because the whole world will be watching, in Hi-Def. If that day comes, and I am convinced that it will, then I, like my Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army comrades, am now on record as being ready, lock, stock, and barrel, to let these tyrants know that we, the people, are fully capable and very serious about defending ourselves and the rights that we are guaranteed as American citizens, but more so, as human beings. Power to the People!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

People Taking Charge: The Weather Underground

“Any conception of socialism defined in national terms, within so extreme and predatory an oppressor nation as the US, is a view that leads in practice to a fight for a particular privileged interest and is a very dangerous ideology. Active combat against empire is the only foundation for socialist revolution in the oppressor nation.” - Weather Underground (Prairie Fire: The Politics of Revolutionary Anti-imperialism)

     The Weather Underground Organization, commonly referred to as just, the Weather Underground, was an American radical left-wing organization founded on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan. Originally called Weatherman, the group became known colloquially as, the Weathermen. The Weather Underground organized in 1969, as a faction of the organization, Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS. They were composed, for the most part, of the national leadership of SDS and its supporters. Their goal was to create a clandestine revolutionary party whose mission it would be to the overthrow U.S. government. With revolutionary positions characterized by black power, they worked together with organizations like the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army, and opposition to the Vietnam War, the group conducted a campaign of bombings through the mid-1970s and took part in actions such as the jailbreak of Dr. Timothy Leary. The Days of Rage, their first public demonstration on October 8, 1969, was a riot in Chicago timed to coincide with the trial of the Chicago Seven. In 1970, the group issued a Declaration of a State of War against the United States government, where they made the name, Weather Underground Organization, known to the American public.

        The Weather Underground grew out of the Revolutionary Youth Movement faction of SDS. It took its name from Bob Dylan's lyric, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows," from the song, Subterranean Homesick Blues. You Don't Need a Weatherman to Know Which Way the Wind Blows, was also the title of a position paper that they distributed at an SDS convention in Chicago on June 18, 1969. This founding document called for a white fighting force to be allied with the Black Liberation Movement and other radical movements, in their common effort to achieve the destruction of U.S. imperialism and to establish a communist, classless world. They began to disintegrate after the United States reached a quasi peace accord with Vietnam in 1973, after which, the New Left, of which they were an outgrowth, declined in influence. By 1977, the organization had drastically reduced both its membership and its activities.

        The Weather Underground was founded upon the principles of Marxist–Leninism, which is a political philosophy based on the ideas of Karl Marx and Vladimir I. Lenin. It seeks to establish socialist states and to develop them into self sustaining, worker led societies. Marxist–Leninists espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of Marxism and Leninism, but generally they all support the idea of a vanguard party, a pro working class agenda, state control of the economy, internationalism, opposition to bourgeois democracy, and opposition to capitalism. It remains the official ideology of the governing parties of China, Cuba, Laos, and Vietnam, and was the official ideology of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was also the official political philosophy of the other governing parties that made up the Eastern Bloc. Such a system tends to draw criticism from Western democracies, but that is to be expected, as they are bourgeois democracies.

        The Weather Underground's bombing campaigns targeted mostly government buildings, along with several banks. The group stated that the government had been exploiting other nations by waging war as a means of solidifying America's position as a imperialist superpower. The bombings were a response to this. Most were preceded by evacuation warnings, along with communiques identifying the particular matter that the attack was intended to protest. No people were killed in any of their acts of property destruction, although three members of the group were killed in the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion. For the bombing of the US Capitol building, on March 1, 1971, the group issued a communique stating that the bombing was in protest of the U.S. invasion of Laos. For the bombing of the Pentagon, on May 19, 1972, they issued a communique stating that they were retaliating against the U.S. bombing raid in Hanoi. For the January 29, 1975 bombing of the United States Department of State building, they issued a communique indicating that they were protesting the past escalation of the Vietnam conflict.

        Widely known members of the Weather Underground include Kathy Boudin, Linda Sue Evans, Brian Flanagan, David Gilbert, Ted Gold, Naomi Jaffe, Jeff Jones, Joe Kelly, Diana Oughton, Eleanor Raskin, Terry Robbins, Mark Rudd, Matthew Steen, Susan Stern, Laura Whitehorn, Cathy Wilkerson, and the still-married couple, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. Many former members of the organization have successfully re-integrated into mainstream society, most without necessarily repudiating their original intent. The Weather Underground was referred to in its own time, and afterwards, as a terrorist group by articles in the New York Times, United Press International, and Time Magazine. The group also fell under the auspices of the Joint FBI-New York City Police Anti Terrorist Task Force, a forerunner of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Forces. The FBI, in a 2004 news story entitled, A Byte Out of History, published on its website, refers to the organization as having been a domestic terrorist group that is no longer of any active concern. Others have disputed the terrorist categorization and justify the group's actions as an appropriate response to what they have described as the terrorist activities charged to the United States, a few of which, they are argued, are the conflict in Vietnam, domestic racism, and the assassinations of black leaders.

        In his 2001 book about his experiences in the Weather Underground, Bill Ayers made it quite clear that he took exception to the organization being referred to as terrorists. Ayers wrote, "Terrorists terrorize, they kill innocent civilians, while we organized and agitated. Terrorists destroy randomly, while our actions bore, we hoped, the precise stamp of a cut diamond. Terrorists intimidate, while we aimed only to educate. No, we were not terrorists." Dan Berger, in his book about the organization, Outlaws in America, argued that the group "purposefully and successfully avoided injuring anyone. Its war against property by definition meant that the Weather Underground was not a terrorist organization." The late 1960s and early 1970s were tumultuous times, with the FBI attributing 1500 bombings in 1972, alone, to civil unrest enacted by radical groups. The Weather Underground claimed responsibility for a total of about two dozen bombings, over all. The observation that the Weather Underground never attacked or harmed people, and only targeted property, is criticized by some who point to the bombs which caused the Greenwich Village townhouse explosion, which could have been used to harm people if they hadn't exploded prematurely. They also make note of the fact that three group members died in the premature detonation.

        The Weather Underground ultimately failed for a few reasons. First, they developed and quickly consolidated an ultra left political line that isolated them from the masses. They advocated immediate armed confrontation with the government and were initially unwilling to take up the hard organizing work needed to educate people on the merits of a socialist revolution. Further, they felt that mass organizations were unnecessary and advocated dissolving SDS. They then operateded as a small guerrilla band. In 1970, after a series of arrests and government indictments against certain members of the organization, they decided to go underground. Second, many of the Weather Underground leaders were sons and daughters of wealthy families that ran major corporations, law firms, and the like. It cannot be denied that they joined the 1960s movement with a genuine hatred for the evils of capitalism and that they made many sacrifices, but they went into it without changing their class outlook and failed to understand that making a successful revolution happen is a protracted process. In the mid-1970’s, they reassessed their mode of operation and began to advocate both above ground political organizing and underground revolution, but it was too late. Their chance to reach the masses had passed, and their changes did not fundamentally change how they were viewed by the masses or how they functioned, overall, as an organization.

      Finally, they too, like most all other such organizations, were under constant harassment by the government. They were first, just like the Black Panthers, subject to J. Edgar Hoover's COINTELPRO. When that program was ended in 1973, the FBI organized the Special Target Information Development program, where agents were sent undercover to penetrate the Weather Underground. By the late 1970s, the Weather Underground had, further, split into two factions, the May 19th Communist Organization and the Prairie Fire Collective, with Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers in the latter. The Prairie Fire Collective favored coming out of hiding and establishing an above ground revolutionary mass movement. The May 19 Communist Organization continued to operate in hiding as a clandestine organization. By the end of the decade, however, a number of Weather Underground leaders had turned themselves in to the police in exchange for light or no jail sentences. Many were freed of any or all bomb related charges against them because the Church Committee, a committee investigating wrong doing by the FBI, found that the evidence against them had been obtained illegally. By the early 1980s, however, the end had come for the Weather Underground. The revolutionary wave that they had gotten caught up in was coming to an end, and they had begun to fade away. In retrospect, regardless of their failure to ignite the revolution that they so fervently desired to fight, and despite their somewhat naive behavior, their hopes to improve the condition of the working class were genuine. That, combined with their willingness to die for the cause, deserves respect. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

People Taking Charge: The Black Panther Party for Self Defense

"There's no reason for the establishment to fear me. But it has every right to fear the people collectively - I am one with the people." - Comrade Dr. Huey Percy Newton

       The Black Panther Party, originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a revolutionary black nationalist and socialist organization, which was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982. The practices of the late Malcolm X were deeply rooted in the theoretical foundations of the Black Panther Party. Malcolm had represented both a militant revolutionary, with the dignity and self-respect to stand up and fight to win equality for all oppressed minorities; while also being an outstanding role model, someone who sought to bring about positive social services. This is something that the Black Panthers would strive to take to new heights. The Panthers followed Malcolm's belief of international working class unity across the spectrum of color and gender, and thus united with various minority and white revolutionary groups. From the tenets of Maoism, they set the role of their Party as the vanguard of the revolution and worked to establish a united front, while from Marxism they addressed the capitalist economic system, embraced the theory of dialectical materialism, and represented the need for all workers to forcefully take over the means of production. 

        At its inception on October 15, 1966, the Black Panther Party's core practice was its armed citizens' patrols to monitor the behavior of police officers and challenge police brutality in Oakland, California. In 1969, community social programs became another core activity of party members. The Black Panther Party instituted a variety of community social programs, most extensively the Free Breakfast for Children Programs, and community health clinics. On April 25th, 1967, the first issue of The Black Panther, the party's official news organ, went into distribution. The following month, the party marched on the California state capital, fully armed, in protest of the state's attempt to outlaw carrying loaded weapons in public. Bobby Seale read a statement of protest; after which, the police responded by immediately arresting him and all 30 armed Panthers. This early act of political repression kindled the fires of the burning resistance movement in the United States. This motivated the formation of  new chapters of the Black Panther Party around the country and motivated more people to confront racism with direct challenges.

       In October of 1967, the police arrested Huey P. Newton, the Defense Minister of the Panthers, for killing an Oakland cop. Panther Eldridge Cleaver then began the movement to "Free Huey," a struggle the Panthers devoted a great deal of their attention to in the coming years. Meanwhile, the party spread its roots further into the political spectrum by forming coalitions with various revolutionary parties. Stokely Carmichael, the former chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, SNCC, and a nationally known proponent of Black Power, was recruited into the party through this struggle, and by February of 1968, he had become the Panther's Prime Minister. Carmichael was adamantly against allowing whites into the black liberation movement, explaining that whites could not possibly relate to the black experience, and that they would likely have an intimidating effect on blacks. This position stirred a great deal of opposition within the Panther organization. Carmichael explained, thusly, "Whites who come into the black community with ideas of change seem to want to absolve the power structure of its responsibility for what it is doing and say that change can only come through black unity, which is the worst kind of paternalism. If we are to proceed toward true liberation, we must cut ourselves off from white people; otherwise, we will find ourselves entwined in the tentacles of the white power complex that controls this country.”

        J. Edgar Hoover, the director of the FBI at the time, called the party the greatest threat to the internal security of the country, and he supervised an extensive program, COINTELPRO, of surveillance, infiltration, perjury, police harassment, and many other tactics designed to undermine Panther leadership, incriminate party members, discredit and criminalize the Party, and drain the organization of resources and manpower. The program was also accused of using assassinations against Black Panther members. On April 6, 1968, in West Oakland, Bobby Hutton, who was only 17 years old at the time, was shot dead by Oakland police after his house was set ablaze, and he was forced to run outside directly into a barrage of gunfire. Just two days earlier, Martin Luther King had been assassinated after he had begun rethinking his own doctrine of non-violence and had started to build ties with radical unions and other radical leaders like, Malcolm X. Two months later, to the day, after Bobby Hutton was killed, Robert Kennedy, widely recognized in the minority community as one of the only politicians in the US that was sympathetic to the Civil Rights Movement, was also assassinated. 

        In Chicago, Fred Hampton was the standout leader of the local Black Panther Party branch. He personally led five different breakfast programs on the West Side, helped to create a free medical center, and initiated a door to door health service program, which tested for sickle cell anemia, and recruited people for blood drives at the Cook County Hospital. The Chicago branch of the party also reached out to local gangs to discourage street violence and get the gangs involved in the struggle for racial equality. The Party's efforts met wide success, and Hampton's audiences and organized contingent grew rapidly. His work was cut short, however. On December 4th, 1969, at four in the morning, as a result of false information provided by an FBI informant, Chicago police raided the Party's apartment and shot Fred Hampton while he slept in his bed. He was shot twice in the head and one time each in in the arm and shoulder. Three other people sleeping in the same bed escaped unharmed. Mark Clark, sleeping in the living room chair, was also murdered while he slept. Hampton's wife, who was eight months pregnant at the time, was also shot, but she survived. Four other Panthers sleeping in the apartment were wounded, while another other escaped injury. Fred Hampton was 21 years old when he was executed, Mark Clark was another 17 year old that never got to adulthood. According to the findings of the federal grand jury, ninety bullets were fired inside the apartment. Only one came from a Panther, Mark, who traditionally slept with a shotgun in his hands. All surviving Panther members were arrested and charged with attempted murder of a police officer and aggravated assault. Not a single cop spent a moment in jail for the executions.

        Government oppression initially contributed to the growth of the Party as killings and arrests of Panthers increased support for the party within the black community and on the broad political left, both of whom valued the Panthers as a powerful force opposed to de facto segregation and the military draft. Black Panther Party membership reached a peak in 1970, with offices in 68 cities and thousands of members; but afterwards, it suffered a series of contractions. After being vilified by the mainstream press, public support for the party waned, and the group became more isolated. In-fighting among Party leadership, caused largely by the FBI's COINTELPRO operation, led to expulsions and defections that decimated the membership. Popular support for the Party declined further after reports appeared, most of which were artificially manufactured, detailing the group's involvement in illegal activities such as drug dealing and extortion schemes directed against Oakland area merchants. By 1972, most Panther activity centered on the national headquarters and a school in Oakland, where the party continued to influence local politics. Party contractions continued throughout the 1970s. By the beginning of the 1980s, attacks on the party, accompanied by internal degradation and divisions, caused the party to fall apart. The leadership of the party had been absolutely smashed, while its rank and file, constantly terrorized by the police, had fallen away. Many remaining Panthers were hunted down and killed in the following years, imprisoned on trumped up charges, such as Mumia Abu-Jamal, Sundiata Acoli, and many others, or forced to flee the United States, like Assata Shakur and other comrades.

        The history of the Black Panther Party is controversial. Scholars have characterized the Black Panther Party as the most influential black movement organization of the late 1960s and the strongest link between the domestic Black Liberation Struggle and global opponents of American imperialism. Other commentators have described the Party as more criminal than political, characterized by defiant posturing over substance. I am not one of these scholars. For me, the Black Panthers are a noble example of People Taking Charge of their destiny. They will always have a special place in my soul, and I will forever mourn their losses as though they were my own. Anyone that feels even a small bit of rage at the way people are treated in this country and is sickened by the foul stench of bigotry and racism, should take courage from these fine men and women who, at the risk of their own lives, chose to put the needs of the many above the needs of the few or the one. They are among the purest examples of what it really means to be an American that one will ever find. Power to the People!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A Corrupt Government Cannot be Expected to Police Itself: The People Need to do the Job for Them

"Fighting corruption is not just good governance. It's self-defense. It's patriotism." - Joe Biden

        Political corruption has become a part of every day life in American society. It permeates every branch of the government that we have, and it seems like we are helpless to do anything about it. What is worse is that most Americans simply either don't know enough to realize what is going one, or they know enough but are not willing to take action to stop it. To a degree, who can blame them? Literally, everything that this county's government does is stained with corruption. The game is rigged. Its a show put on for the public eye. The outcomes are predetermined, and the propaganda machine is rolling on overdrive. Further, when cracks in the system do develop, they are quickly patched up, and the perpetrators are either let off or punished as lightly as the laws they helped write allow. This is the way it is. This is the way that it has always been. The whole world knows it, and they are beginning to resent it. Even more, they are constantly curious why the American people have yet to do anything about it. Do you not believe me that corruption is as rife as I suggest it is. Well, allow me to outline a few of the cases that have come up in just the past eight years. I am going to stick to the federal government because going lower would require a book to be written. I'll break it up by each branch of government.

Executive Branch:

1. Katherine Archuleta, who was the director of the Office of Personnel Management, was forced to resign on July 10, 2015 after the data theft of information on 22 million people who had applied for security clearances.

2. In the Veterans Health Administration scandal of 2014, it was discovered that officials in the Phoenix, AZ VA hospital lied about how long the wait times were for veterans to see a doctor. An investigation of delays is being conducted by the Veterans Affairs Office of the Inspector General. The Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki, General, US Army, Retired, voluntarily resigned.

3. In the 2013 IRS scandal, the IRS admitted to inappropriate investigations of conservative political groups associated with the Tea Party. Later, it was found that the IRS investigated liberal and progressive groups as well. The president demanded and accepted the resignation of Steven T. Miller, Acting Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Other actions relating to the scandal were also taken. Lois Lerner, head of the IRS Office of Exempt Organizations, stated she had not done anything wrong and then took the Fifth before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. She retired in 2013 after an internal investigation found that she neglected her duties  and was going to call for her ouster. Joseph H. Grant, commissioner of the IRS Tax-exempt and Government entities division, was also implicated, he resigned on May 16, 2013.

4. In the ATF Gunwalking scandal in 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder was held in Contempt of Congress after refusing to release all documents which the House of Representatives had demanded concerning the Fast and Furious gun walking operation.

5. Terence Flynn, an appointee of Barack Obama to the National Labor Relations Board, resigned in May of 2012 after being accused of serious ethical violations by leaking information to the National Association of Manufacturers.

6. In 2010, Martha N. Johnson, head of the General Services Administration, fired two top GSA officials and then resigned herself after it was revealed that $822,000 had been inappropriately spent in Las Vegas during a four-day training conference for 300 GSA employees.

Legislative Branch:

1. In 2015, Dennis Hastert, a Republican representative from Illinois, pled guilty to charges that he violated banking rules and lied to the FBI in a scheme to pay $3.5 million in hush money to conceal sexual misconduct with an under age boy from his days as a high school wrestling coach, from 1965 to 1981.

2. Aaron Schock, another Republican representative from Illinois, resigned from office in 2015 after evidence surfaced that he used campaign funds for travel, redecorated his office with taxpayer funds to resemble the sets of the Downtown Abbey television series, and otherwise spent campaign or taxpayer money on other questionable personal uses. Schock's senior adviser Benjamin Cole had resigned earlier after he condemned "hood rats" and "black miscreants" in internet posts. Schock's office stated, "I am extremely disappointed by the inexcusable and offensive online comments made by a member of my staff."

3. Brett O'Donnell, Communications Director for Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican representative from Washington, pled guilty to lying to investigators from the House Office of Congressional Ethics about working for Rodgers while being paid with campaign money, thus becoming the first person ever to be convicted of lying to the House OCE.

4. Thaddeus McCotter, a Republican representative from Michingan, resigned his Congressional seat. Four of his staff were convicted by the state of Michigan of falsifying signatures on McCotter's reelection petitions for the 2012 elections. Michigan Attorney General Bill, Schuette, also a Republican, blamed McCotter for running a slipshod, leaderless operation. Though McCotter resigned from office, he was never charged with any crimes. Paul Seewald worked for McCotter as his District Director of Michigan's 11th congressional district. He pled guilty to nine counts of falsely signing a nominating petition as circulator. He was sentenced to two years' probation and 100 hours of community service, and ordered to pay court costs and fees. Don Yowchuang worked for McCotter as Deputy District Director of the Michigan 11th Congressional District. He pled guilty to ten counts of forgery and six counts of falsely signing a nominating petition and was sentenced to three years of probation, 200 hours of community service, court costs and fees. Mary M. Turnbull was McCotter's Representative to the Michigan 11th Congressional District. She was convicted of conspiring to commit a legal act in an illegal manner and falsely signing a nominating petition. She was sentenced to two years of probation, a day in jail, and 200 hours of community service. She was also ordered to pay a $1,440 fine. In addition, she is forbidden from any participation in elections or the political process. Lorianne O'Brady worked as a scheduler for McCotter in the Michigan 11th Congressional District. She pled no contest to charges that she falsely claimed to have legally collected signatures to get McCotter on the ballot when she actually had not. She was sentenced to 20 days in jail, assigned to a work program, and charged $2,625 in fines and court costs.

5. In 2014, Senator Mitch McConnell, a Republican senator from Kentucky, had is campaign manager, Jesse Benton, resign when details of a bribery scandal from Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign came to light.

6. David Rivera, a Republican representative from Florida, was indicted as a co-conspirator with Campaign Manager Ana Alliegro, who pled guilty to violation of US campaign laws in an $81,000 campaign-finance scheme to prop up a little-known Democratic candidate, who used the illegal cash to trash Rivera's rival in the 2012 Democratic primary.

7.  On June 12, 2013, Rick Renzi, a Republican from Arizona, was charged with seventeen crimes, which included wire fraud, conspiracy, extortion, racketeering, money laundering, and making false statements to insurance regulators.

8. Mike Crapo, a Republican senator from Indiana, was arrested on December 23, 2012, and later pled guilty to drinking and driving in a Virginia court. The court fined him 250 dollars. He was sentenced to 180 days in prison, but served no time.

9. Trey Radel, another Republican from Florida, was arrested on October 29, 2013, in Washington, D.C. for possession of cocaine after purchasing the drug from an undercover law enforcement officer. As a first-time offender, he pled guilty to a misdemeanor in a Washington, D.C. court, and was sentenced to one year probation and fined $250. Radel took a leave of absence from office to undergo substance abuse treatment following his conviction. Following treatment, he initially returned to office with the intent of finishing his term, but eventually resigned on January 27, 2014.

10. In February of 2013, Jesse L. Jackson Jr., a Democratic representative from Illinois, pled guilty to one felony count of fraud for using $750,000 of campaign money to buy personal items such as stuffed animals, elk heads, and fur capes.

11. In 2012, Laura Richardson, a Democratic representative from California, was found guilty on seven counts of violating US House rules by improperly using her staff to campaign for her, destroying the evidence, and then tampering with witness testimony. The House Ethics Committee ordered Richardson to pay a fine of $10,000.

12. John Ensign, a Republican senator from Nevada, resigned his seat on May 3, 2011, just before the Senate Ethics Committee could examine possible fiscal violations in connection with his extramarital affair with Cynthia Hampton. In May of 2012, his aide Doug Hampton, in what became known as the John Ensign scandal, reached a plea deal with prosecutors. Neither man faced serious charges.

13. Michael Grimm, a Republican representative from New York, pled guilty to tax fraud, based on several years of returns, on December 23, 2014. He was sentenced to eight months in federal prison.

14. Ron Paul, a well known Republican representative from Texas, watched on as his Deputy Campaign Manager, Dimitri Kesari, was convicted of creating false records concerning charges of buying an Iowa State Senator's endorsement during the 2012 presidential campaign.

Judicial Branch:

1. G. Thomas Porteous, the Federal Judge for Eastern Louisiana, was unanimously impeached by the US House of Representatives on charges of bribery and perjury in March of 2010. He was convicted by the US Senate and removed from office. He had been appointed by Democratic President, Bill Clinton. 

2. In 2009, Samuel B. Kent, the Federal District Judge for Galveston, Texas, was sentenced to 33 months in prison for lying about sexually harassing two female employees. He had been appointed to office by Republican George H. W. Bush in 1990.

3. Jack T. Camp, the Senior Federal U.S. District Court Judge, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan and again by George W. Bush, was arrested in an undercover drug bust while trying to purchase cocaine from an FBI agent. Judge Camp resigned after pleading guilty to three criminal charges. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 400 community service hours, and fined.

John Doe Citizen:

1. On March 4, 2016, John Doe was assaulted by the police for being in possession of one marijuana joint. He was smoking said joint while relaxing with his wife and drinking a beer in his own backyard. He is facing ten years in a state prison on charges of possession, resisting arrest, and assaulting a police officer, though photos tell that he was the one that took the beating.

        The cases that I have outlined here are, by many accounts, minor; however, I would argue that a long series of minor offenses can build up to one great big massive offense that cannot be ignored. This crap has got to change. The American people have to be the ones to police the government.  It's not like we can rely on the government to police itself. That's just not how the game works. Taking such action is our constitutional duty, after all. There are three ways that we can make the needed changes. We can vote the people that we know are guilty of corruption out of office, or not vote for them in the first place. We take the risk of exposing them ourselves; or failing that, we can start a revolution and replace the whole system entirely. To be safe, for now, let's stick with the voting option. We could always settle with them resigning in disgrace, or getting a minor punishment from their buddies, but that will not do. We must do the work ourselves. They must either be removed by us, or prevented from ever getting elected, by us.

        When the American people are presented with an opportunity to reject a political official that they know is corrupt, they need to take advantage of the situation. The 2016 election is a perfect example of an occasion where the American people can actively prevent corruption from entering their government. Ted Cruz has scandals following him. Donald Trump is a New York Real Estate Magnate. There is no telling what kind of messes he has gotten into. Then, there is Hillary Clinton. Of the candidates this year that could one day occupy the highest office in the land, she is the most corrupt of them all. We cannot allow her or her friends in the race, as they are all well known to each other, get elected, but she, above all, must be rejected with every vote we have. If you don't think so, just consider that she campaigned for a rabid segregationist candidate for the Presidency, Barry Goldwater, in 1964. If that is not enough for you to mark a ballot against her, here is a brief look at her resume of corruption. If, after all of this, someone still wants Hillary Clinton to be their President, let them elect her and bear the risk of more wars, more economic troubles, and more explosive social problems, all on their own.

1. Hillary actually played a role in the Watergate saga, and her actions as a young attorney may have set the tone for her career. The 27-year-old Clinton was fired from the staff of the House Judiciary committee investigating the Watergate scandal in 1974. She was fired by her supervisor, lifelong Democrat Jerry Zeifman, who called her a liar and much worse. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer,” he said. “She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee, and the rules of confidentiality.” Zeifman also refused to give Clinton a letter of recommendation, making her one of only three employees he snubbed during his 17-year career.

2. The Whitewater controversy began with investigations into the real estate investments of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates, Jim and Susan McDougal, in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a failed business venture in the 1970s and 1980s. The Clintons lost between $37,000 and $69,000 on their Whitewater investment. Within hours of the death of Vince Foster, a controversy in an of itself, in July 1993, the Chief White House Counsel, Bernard Nussbaum, removed documents, some of them concerning the Whitewater Development Corporation, from Foster's office and gave them to Maggie Williams, Chief of Staff to the First Lady. According to the New York Times, Williams placed them in a safe in the White House for five days before turning them over to their personal lawyer. As a result of the exposé in the New York Times, the Justice Department opened an investigation into the failed Whitewater deal. Media pressure continued to build, and on April 22, 1994, Hillary Clinton gave an unusual press conference under a portrait of Abraham Lincoln in the State Dining Room of the White House, to address questions on both Whitewater and the cattle futures controversy, another questionable affair on Hillary's part; it was broadcast live on several networks. In it she claimed that the Clintons had a passive role in the Whitewater venture, and had committed no wrongdoing, but admitted her explanations had been vague and that she no longer opposed appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the matter.

3. The White House travel office controversy, sometimes referred to as, Travelgate, was the first major ethics controversy of the Clinton administration. It began in May 1993, when seven employees of the White House Travel Office were fired. This action was unusual because although theoretically staff employees serve at the pleasure of the President and could be dismissed without cause, in practice, such employees usually remain in their posts for many years. The White House stated the firings were done because financial improprieties in the Travel Office operation during previous administrations had been revealed by an FBI investigation. Critics contended the firings were done to allow friends of President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to take over the travel business and that the involvement of the FBI was unwarranted. Heavy media attention forced the White House to reinstate most of the employees in other jobs and remove the Clinton associates from the travel role.

4. During Bill Clinton’s terms in office, he and Hillary used the IRS as a weapon. IRS audits were conducted against individuals and groups who caused problems for the administration. Some of the prominent conservative groups were the National Rifle Association, the Heritage Foundation, and the National Center for Public Policy Research, among others. Individuals singled out for audits during the administration included Clinton paramours Gennifer Flowers and Liz Ward Gracen, sexual assault accusers Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick, fired White House Travel Office Director, Billy Dale and attorney, Kent Masterson Brown.

5. The Clintons have been accused of hiring private investigators to not only dig up dirt on perceived adversaries, such as Juanita Broaddrick, the woman allegedly raped by Bill, and other abused women such as Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey and Paula Jones, but to also stalk, scare, and threaten them. Willey asserts Hillary was behind a campaign of intimidation and harassment against her that fit a pattern employed against numerous other women whose claims of sexual impropriety or assault by Bill Clinton threatened the couple’s political fortunes.

6. The Clinton duo was involved in a scandal known as Filegate, in which, they illegally obtained FBI files on perceived adversaries, most of whom served in previous Republican administrations. They also used them in an effort to discredit the women who charged President Clinton with sexual misconduct, personal files and papers were illegally obtained and released. The courts found, under the Privacy Act, that the privacy of Linda Tripp and Kathleen Willey had been violated.

7. Before Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001, he granted numerous controversial pardons, including one to convicted tax evader and wanted felon, Marc Rich, whose wife made significant contributions to Hillary’s 2000 Senate campaign and the Clinton Presidential Library. Rich had been indicted by a U.S. federal grand jury on more than 50 counts of fraud, racketeering, trading with Iran during the U.S. Embassy hostage crisis, and evading more than $48 million in income taxes, crimes that could have earned him more than 300 years in prison. Rich fled to Switzerland in 1983 after his indictment and remained on the FBI’s Most Wanted List until President Clinton pardoned him. Also, Hillary’s brothers, Tony and Hugh Rodham, reportedly received large amounts of money from people who were pardoned by Bill Clinton. Hillary said she and Bill were unaware of the scheme.

8. On Sept. 11, 2012, while Hillary was Secretary of State, Islamic militants attacked a U.S. special mission in Benghazi, Libya, and murdered U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and U.S. Foreign Service Information Management officer Sean Smith. Two CIA contractors, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, were also killed. In the months leading up to the attack, Hillary’s State Department cut security in Libya, despite repeated requests for additional security forces from the Ambassador and his advisers. She was also the person that granted waivers for a CIA detachment to occupy a building that was not only too far from the building housing the U.S. special mission to be of any good, but that was also below the security standard for occupation set by the Department of Defense.

9. Hillary kept all her official correspondence as Secretary of State, as well as her personal emails, on a private email server located at her home, this became known as Emailgate, instead of using the government-mandated process while serving in the high appointed position. Her email system was unsecured for months while she used it for government business, and she did not sign a standard agreement when she left office that promised she had left government property behind. Hillary did not encrypt her private email service with a digital certificate for the first three months of her tenure as secretary of state. That was while she was traveling to China, Egypt, Israel, Japan and South Korea. Several present and former members of the U.S. intelligence community said Hillary’s private email server was a major security risk, and America, going forward, ought to assume enemies of the state all had access to it.

10. Investigators with the State Department issued subpoenas to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation last fall seeking documents about the charity’s projects that may have required approval from the federal government during Hillary Clinton’s term as Secretary of State. The subpoenas also asked for records related to Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide who, for six months in 2012, was employed simultaneously by the State Department, the foundation, Clinton’s personal office, and a private consulting firm with ties to the Clintons. The Clintons have also been accused of siphoning off tens of millions of dollars annually from funds the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation has received from a United Nations sponsored program that uses levies on airline tickets to help HIV/AIDs victims in undeveloped countries.

        The woman pictured above is not what this country needs. She is corrupt, dishonest, irresponsible, power hungry, untrustworthy, and unqualified to be our President. She belongs in prison, not the White House. She, and countless others like her, are what is truly destroying this country. They accept money from corporations in exchange for relaxing regulations on labor, the environment, and product quality. They get us involved in military conflicts, whose sole purpose is to develop US military technology. They create policies, like the Clinton's Three Strike Legislation that has jailed millions of non-violent offenders, which are designed to keep us divided, so that we are incapable of resisting their authority. Most importantly, however, is the fact that they have absolutely no clue whatsoever what it is like to struggle day to day like a real American. Perched, safely, in their multi million dollar homes and their pristine offices, they have no clue what it is like to have to choose between a major surgery and feeding the children. They have no clue what its like to willingly go without food, so that their kids can eat, and they have no clue what it is like to have accept death because they do not have the health insurance needed to pay for a life saving procedure. 

        They are not working class Americans, and they cannot possibly represent working class Americans. Hillary Clinton, and those like her, need to be shown the door, and they need to be replaced with people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who have proven records of actually fighting for the good of the people. Bernie Sanders, especially, deserves every opportunity that we the people can grant him. He is a four term former Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, he was a member of the US House of Representatives for 16 years, and he has been a US Senator since 2006. In that time, he has never ceased fighting for the cause of the working class. If the American people want to engage in a peaceful transition to a more open and honest political culture, electing Bernie Sanders to the White House is a way to get that process started. It is going to be a rigorous and challenging ordeal, and it is not going to be easy, by any means; but with people like Bernie Sanders at the helm, it will happen. The other solution involves blood, death, and monumental sacrifice, and I do not believe that the American people really want that to happen. I now I don't.