29August 8, 2020
Unfolding Events in the United States
Elections and a Dysfunctional Political Process
• Coast to Coast Demonstrations Demand
Safe Schools, Defunding of Police and Investing in Communities
• Nurses Deliver Half a Million
Signatures to Congress, Calling on Congress to Protect Nurses During
National Nurses United -
• Photo Review -- August 1 to 7
On the Unfolding Events in
the United States
Washington, DC, August 1, 2020
Senator Warren's letter
against federal deployments of police forces and
responses to Trump's tweet on delaying elections
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a senior democratic
senator from Massachusetts, on July 28 sent a letter to the heads of
the Departments of Defence, Justice, Homeland Security and the Interior
calling on them not to deploy the military and various federal forces
under their control against demonstrators protesting racist police
murders and demanding equality, justice and peace. She not only
expressed the concerns of many among the ruling elite about Trump's
deployment of federal forces to Portland, Oregon and other cities but
also specifically raised concerns about the 2020 presidential election
and Trump's ongoing refusal "to reassure the country that he would
abide by the voters' will" and peacefully leave office if he is voted
out. It will result in "an unprecedented test of American democracy,"
Warren said. She cited a Washington Post article
with the title: "Trump's assault on election integrity forces question:
What would happen if he refused to accept a loss?"
The matter is now
being widely speculated on in the press, among professors and think
tanks, along with concern that a violent civil war will break out.
Warren's letter as a whole and the fact she
military in her call shows the hopelessness and helplessness in which
the U.S. ruling class is mired and its utter humiliation. It
tantamount to calling on the military to refuse to follow orders from
the Commander-in-Chief should it be called out during the election. The
prospect is already a matter of grave concern given the open split
among military forces during the previous election, with some speaking
out publicly for Clinton and some for Trump, despite the fact that the
military is supposed to remain neutral and serve all presidents no
matter what party they claim to represent.
Following Warren's letter, Trump reinforced
concern about his possible actions in the face of either an election
campaign or election results which he deems to not favour him. He
tweeted: "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is
good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election
in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the
Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???"
Trump's demand to delay the election met a swift
response from elected officials, constitutional lawyers and others, all
saying Trump could not legally delay federal elections. It would be
unconstitutional as only Congress has that power, not the president.
In this regard, Trump's proposal -- or threat --
to delay the election can be seen as a deliberate provocation to gauge
the response. Testing the waters is one way of working out how internal
and external limitations on those who wield power can be transcended.
Even Constitutional law professor Steven Calabresi
of the conservative Federalist Society, considered a close ally of
Trump, wrote an editorial in the New York Times
which said elections could not be delayed. Representing the views of
many Calabresi wrote: "President Trump needs to be told by every
Republican in Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election.
Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in
American history." Calabresi added, "Anyone who says otherwise should
never be elected to Congress again." He called for Trump's
impeachment and removal from office, something he previously opposed.
While most are saying Trump cannot delay elections
because it would be "illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent,"
the more relevant questions are: If he does, who will stop him? And
with what armed forces? What armed forces might Trump manage to align
behind a deployment to either delay the election or oppose announced
election results? How are conditions being put in place to trigger such
a deployment? What will be the pretext?
Trump calling himself a law-and-order president, his presidency has
repeatedly made clear that the current government is not one of rule of
law, at home or abroad. Trump's government operates solely on the basis
of the police powers commanded by the presidency, which are running
rampant due to the impotency of Congress and the courts to keep the
presidential powers under control. Using the military against the
American people is how tyranny is defined, not "law and order." Tyranny
is what the U.S. Constitution and the ensemble of its institutions are
supposed to make sure never takes hold. The people from coast to coast
are valiantly opposing this tyranny, day after day after day after day.
They deserve an explanation for what is taking place.
The explanation for what is taking place lies in
the fact that where decision-making takes place is no longer in accord
with what the Constitution enshrines. The decision-making power in the
United States, at every level, has been usurped by narrow private
interests which have directly taken over the reins of power. They are
simultaneously engaged in vicious fights amongst themselves to control
all resources at home and abroad and put down the rebellion of the
people demanding change. Their desperation to make sure the U.S.
economic crisis is dealt with in a manner that favours them also seeks
to make sure they do not lose "indispensable nation" status
But so long as control is sought through the
deployment of police powers, their every move cannot but deepen the
anarchy and violence and destruction of the productive forces. The
dangers to the peoples within the United States and abroad require
their full attention, vigilance and response based on the people
themselves identifying their own interests.
A state of anarchy prevails whereby none of these
powerful narrow private interests accept any decision-making above
their own. They have formed oligopolies which function as coalitions
and cartels. These narrow private interests have taken over the Office
of the President and demand that the president be able to act with
impunity. To serve their interests, they want the power to act without
regard for the law and existing constitutional arrangements. Trump was
chosen as president as someone who was not part of the established
arrangements and vowed to break the bonds of the old arrangements with
impunity. The narrow private interests accept no limitations on their
power to act expediently, claiming this is good for the economy and
at the southern border, including separation of families and detention
of children, those concerning Muslim bans and asylum, the clearing of
Lafayette Square on June 1, the current deployments of federal forces
to suppress resistance, are all considered by many to be
unconstitutional and against the law. Senator Warren herself asks to
know the legal basis for the deployments of federal forces taking place.
However, while it is the case that such actions
unconstitutional and against the law, what the situation shows is that
the Constitution itself is not capable of containing the private
interests which have usurped power at this time. These narrow
private interests do not negotiate, they are not interested in
settlements which curb their powers. They make a killing by striking
while the iron is hot within the anarchy and chaos they create. This is
how and why the fortunes of the richest of the rich have increased
manifold during the pandemic.
Warren's Letter on Federal Deployments
Federal forces in Portland, Oregon, July 28, 2020.
Referring to the exercise of police powers in
Trump's deployment of federal forces to various cities, Warren
expresses the concern among sections of the rulers that Trump's actions
are not suppressing the resistance of the people but are further
dividing, rather than uniting, the military bureaucracy and policing
agencies. Given the president has the specific job of preserving the
union while keeping the people suppressed and out of power, these
failures are a serious problem for the rulers.
Warren, in appealing to cabinet heads and by
including the military, is attempting to unite these forces to refuse
federal deployments and, by inference, to reject Trump's "law and
order" and use of force as a way out of the crisis.
"You are each responsible for the command of
military or civilian troops and domestic law enforcement personnel in
your agencies. I urge you not to allow these personnel under your
command or supervision to be used in any future domestic actions
against people exercising their right to protest," she states.
The inherent danger is that any such refusal by
cabinet heads of the massive policing agencies and/or the military
openly refusing orders of the Commander-in-Chief could also potentially
spark open and violent civil war. This is precisely the outcome the
ruling class as a whole wants to avoid.
It shows that the
danger of civil war remains despite the appeals to uphold the
Constitution and not use the military at home, which constitutes
tyranny, and not deploy federal forces into non-federal jurisdictions
without permission from state and local authorities. It also shows that
the current democratic process and institutions are exhausted. They are
supposed to provide the means through which contradictions within the
ranks of private interests can be sorted out while they unite to impose
their rule on the people.
A modern constitution and democratic process are
needed. This can only be achieved by the people united in action for
their own empowerment. Such a constitution will enshrine rights as
defined by the people, not the rich. It will codify the democratic
decision-making processes which stand them in good stead in their fight
for justice, rights and peace. This will end the current arrangements
which protect private property, wage slavery,
indentured labour, prison labour and outright enslavement of peoples
everywhere and define rights on that basis.
Warren's letter focusses on the additional
conflicts with state and local forces, saying the federal deployment is
being done despite "clear opposition from governors, mayors, and
citizens who are exercising their First Amendment rights." She speaks
to the violation of rights as a result of the use of tear gas,
targeting journalists, etc. and then raises the elections:
"These attacks -- in which the President appears
to be using Department of Homeland Security (DHS) forces as his 'goon
squad,' in the words of a former acting director of U.S. Immigration
and Customs Enforcement -- come approximately 100 days before the
"The partisan use of paramilitary domestic federal
law enforcement forces... raises alarms about the President's respect
for law and precedent, and whether he will take additional, more
dangerous and outrageous actions to pit federal forces against their
own people in the months and days leading up to and after the 2020
"The potential for President Trump to activate
domestic forces as his 'personal militia' (as former Secretary of
Homeland Security Tom Ridge put it) is even more disturbing given his
ongoing refusal 'to reassure the country that he would abide by the
voters' will' and peacefully leave office... I therefore write to seek
your assurances that you will not allow the military or civilian forces
under your control to be used by the President to suppress dissent and
She writes, "The deployment of federal
paramilitary forces against civilians is a historic embarrassment for
our nation, and harms the United States' standing in the world."
Her conclusion is, nonetheless, not rational given
the existing reality of a government of police powers which by
definition does not follow rules of engagement of any kind and
that crucial institutions such as Congress, the courts and elections
are dysfunctional as far as sorting out any problems facing the ruling
Warren asks the
cabinet heads to "identify the specific statutory and regulatory legal
authorities that authorize that agency or unit" to make arrests, use
force, conduct crowd control, etc. She then again asks, "Will you
commit to refuse to deploy the military or federal law enforcement
forces under your control domestically against peaceful protesters or
otherwise against Americans in advance of the November elections, and
refuse to deploy in a manner intended to intimidate voters on November
3? In the event President Trump loses the election and will not
peacefully leave office, will you refuse to deploy the military or
federal law enforcement forces under your control in support of his
defiance of the voters' will?" She closes, "This is an urgent matter
for American democracy and for the safety of Americans peacefully
protesting in their communities, and I therefore ask that you provide
me with written commitments no later than August 3."
It remains to be seen whether she has or will
receive any responses. As a Senator she has no enforcing powers for the
requests and little ability to convoke a Congressional hearing. At
present both Attorney General William Barr who heads the Department of
Justice and Chad Wolf who heads the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) are said to be prepared to implement Trump's actions against the
people. Barr especially favours further increasing the powers of the
President. But the FBI, U.S. Marshals and heads of the numerous
agencies within DHS, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, may not be so
ready in the context of a disputed election and deepening all-sided
crisis. Already, many DHS employees have opposed the current deployment
against protesters in many cities, calling it "blatantly
unconstitutional," a "descent into lawlessness," and saying it serves
to deepen the public distrust of DHS.
The same can be
said of many of the National Guards called out by governors to suppress
demonstrators. A number refused outright, while others voiced their
opposition. Indeed active duty Major Adam DeMarco, responsible for the
National Guard at Lafayette Square on June 1, testified before Congress
saying, "From my observation, those demonstrators -- our fellow
American citizens -- were engaged in the peaceful expression of their
First Amendment rights. Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked
escalation and excessive use of force," something he said he found very
It should be kept in mind that Trump's deployments
of federal forces, including various policing agencies, is in part an
exercise in training the various forces to carry out brutal, illegal
use of force against people standing up for rights. Significant dissent
among them is cause for concern for the rulers and a positive factor
for the resistance. Head of the DHS Chad Wolf has said they anticipate
"unrest" through November.
Potential for Civil War
After Trump threatened to use the military, in
addition to the military police and National Guard present in
Washington, DC, including at Lafayette Square, Defense Secretary Mark
Esper in early June also had 1,600 soldiers from the Army's
82nd Airborne on standby at nearby bases. At the very same time, on
June 3, he expressed his concerns about use of the military for
domestic purposes. When Trump threatened to use the Insurrection
Act to justify such action, Esper publicly said:
"The option to use active-duty forces in a law
enforcement role should only be used as a matter of last resort and
only in the most urgent and dire situations.
"We are not in one of those situations now. I do
not support invoking the Insurrection Act."
Are we to suppose a delay of the elections, or
disputing the outcome, constitute such a "dire situation?" Or will
Esper join people like former Defense Secretary General James Mattis in
Meanwhile, Trump is not alone in indicating
possible use of the military. Joe Biden, who is seeking the Democratic
nomination for the presidency, is also suggesting that military force
might be used. In June Biden said that if Trump loses and refuses to
leave office he is "absolutely convinced" the military "will escort him
from the White House with great dispatch." "My single greatest
concern," Biden also said, is that "this president is going to try to
steal this election. This is a guy who said that all mail-in ballots
It is evident then that everything about the
current electoral process is a matter of disputes which are paving the
way for disputed results. Far from an election being a process which
sorts out who will rule over the next presidential term, the process
itself is in crisis. Former president Obama went so far as to use a
portion of his eulogy to departed Senator John Lewis to demand all
kinds of changes to how elections, three months away, are conducted.
open call for defiance by cabinet heads and the military, the many
public conflicts between and within the presidency, military, Congress
and state and local forces and repeated comments about an
"unprecedented test of" U.S. democracy are indications that a violent
civil war and/or other foreign invasion could accompany the election
campaign or election result.
As the resistance of the people in the United
States strengthens and broadens, the consciousness taking hold among
the people, is that the U.S. institutions of democracy and the
Constitution do not serve them -- something that has been well known
for a very long time -- and that furthermore they are useless to them.
They cannot be relied on to sort out the contradictions within the
ranks of the rulers or between the rulers and the people who are
demanding modern arrangements consistent with the times and their needs.
The people's refusal to be diverted by the rulers
and the fact that they are sticking to their aims of achieving justice,
equality, security and peace on the basis of their own efforts inspires
confidence and continues to show the way forward.
Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to choose the timing
of the general election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the
first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
It would take a change in federal law to move that
date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the
president and subject to challenge in the courts.
Furthermore, the Constitution mandates that the
new Congress must be sworn in on Jan. 3, and that the new president's
term must begin on Jan. 20. Those dates cannot be changed by the
passage of normal legislation.
of engagement are: a directive issued by a military authority
specifying the circumstances and limitations under which forces will
engage in combat with the enemy.
Transcript of President Barack Obama's Eulogy for John Lewis, Ebenezer
Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, July 30, 2020.
March for safe schools, New York
City, August 3, 2020.
Actions across the U.S. over the past week
express the profound concerns of the people from coast to coast and
north to south with the state of affairs in the United States. The
coronavirus pandemic is out of control, schools are reopening despite
unsafe conditions and the U.S. has become an outright tyranny with the
unrestrained use of police agencies at all levels against the
demonstrators. Meanwhile, the rich are getting richer and the plight of
the poor worsens as unemployment soars and all problems facing the
Calls for the defunding of police departments and
for this funding to go to the social programs required by the
communities are front and centre. Many of the actions focussed on safe
schools -- meaning both that police must be removed from the schools
and that measures must be taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Teachers and education workers are forcefully demanding that schools
must be reopened "Only When It's Safe," and that the required funding
be made available to do so. They point out that without additional
space, staff, equipment and proper ventilation, reopening the schools
will result in the deaths of students, teachers and others to whom they
will spread the virus. The call has gone out: the only
acceptable number of deaths is zero.
Actions were organized by education workers, parents and others, in
more than 35 locations across the country on August 3 while
the National Nurses United held a U.S.-wide day of action on
August 5 to demand protection against the coronavirus. Meanwhile
ongoing mass protests against police brutality and impunity continued
to valiantly resist further police violence and repression.
As schools across the U.S. begin to reopen, the
President of the American Federation of Teachers in a July 28 speech
reiterated the federation's proposals for the reopening of schools that
put the safety of students, teachers and education workers at the
forefront of considerations. She decried the lack of funding for some
school boards, where schools are overcrowded, lack proper ventilation
or lack soap in the bathrooms. She noted that much needed funding for
schools during the pandemic has been stalled in the Senate.
should have been distributed to communities months ago. How dare
McConnell stonewall and stall this aid? And how dare Trump tweet, in
all caps, 'SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!' With no plan. No funding.
And no idea what he is talking about.
"What hypocrisy, to cancel the GOP convention in Jacksonville, Fla.,
because of the risks to GOP delegates gathering in that coronavirus hot
spot, yet in the same breath demand that children and teachers gather
in schools in that same hot spot.
"Why would anyone trust Trump with reopening schools, when he has
mishandled everything else about the coronavirus? Why would anyone
trust [Education Secretary] Betsy DeVos, who has zero credibility about
how public schools actually work? Why would anyone try to reopen
schools through force and threats, without a plan and without
resources? Unless all they wanted was to create chaos so it would fail.
"Before the virus' resurgence, and before Trump and DeVos' reckless
'open or else' threats, 76 per cent of American Federation of Teachers
members polled in June said they were comfortable returning to school
buildings if the proper safeguards were in place. Now they're afraid
and angry. Many are quitting, retiring or writing their wills. Parents
are afraid and angry, too. A recent AP poll shows that the majority of
Americans think that school buildings should only reopen with major
adjustments or revert to remote instruction.
"Let's be clear: Just as we have done with our health care workers, we
will fight on all fronts for the safety of our students and their
educators. But if authorities don't protect the safety and health of
those we represent and those we serve, as our executive council voted
last week, nothing is off the table -- not advocacy or protests,
negotiations, grievances or lawsuits, or, if necessary and authorized
by a local union, as a last resort, safety strikes.
"It is the 11th hour. We need the resources now.[...]"
In a similar vein, National Nurses United held a U.S.-wide day
of action on August 5, with more than 200 actions at hospital
facilities in at least 16 states and Washington, DC "to demand that our
elected leaders, government, and hospital employers take immediate
action to save lives."
that this country's rampant social, economic, and racial injustice has
been killing our patients all along. COVID-19 is just forcing us as a
society to face these problems," said Bonnie Castillo, RN and National
Nurses United Executive Director. "These recent COVID surges and
uncontrolled infections and deaths, the failure of employers to protect
our nurses and other workers, the outrageously high rates of
unemployment and hunger, the totalitarian crackdown on protesters --
every crisis we are seeing now can be traced back to our failure to
value human lives over profit."
The National Nurses United writes that registered nurses "are demanding
that the Senate pass the HEROES
Act, a pending bill they are backing that would not only
protect health care and other essential workers by ensuring domestic
production of PPE through the Defense
Production Act and by mandating that the federal
Occupational Safety and Health Administration establish an emergency
temporary standard on infectious diseases, but also provide desperately
needed economic help in the form of cash payments, extended
unemployment benefits, and daycare subsidies through the end of 2020 to
families on the brink."
"Nurses are still at risk," said Mary C. Turner, an intensive care unit
RN and President of the Minnesota Nurses Association, whose members are
participating in the actions. "We still reuse PPE that was meant to be
discarded. We still care for COVID-19 patients and non-COVID patients
at the same time. And we still struggle to protect ourselves so we can
protect our patients."
"COVID has exposed everything that has been wrong with our system,"
said Zenei Cortez, RN and a President of NNU. "The old way was a huge
failure. Now is the time to reenvision a world based on nurses' values
of caring, compassion, and community."
Nurses push for HEROES
Act outside the U.S. Senate, August 7, 2020.
Registered nurses today delivered a petition to
Congress signed by more than half-a-million people demanding Congress
pass legislation that would protect nurses during the COVID-19
pandemic. National Nurses United, the largest union of registered
nurses in the country, delivered the petition virtually to every member
of the House of Representatives and the United States Senate.
Signed by 526,291 people, the petition calls on
Congress to prioritize workplace protections for nurses in the
negotiations on a fourth stimulus package. The petition was sponsored
by National Nurses United, Be A Hero, Daily Kos, Democracy for America,
Justice Democrats, People's Action, Progressive Democrats of America,
Social Security Works, and Women's March.
"For more than six months, nurses across this
country have been caring for patients in the midst of the COVID-19
pandemic without the protections that would prevent exposure to the
virus," said Zenei Cortez, RN and a president of National Nurses
United. "Nurses and other frontline workers have been calling out for
Congress, the White House, and our employers to get us the personal
protective equipment that we need, and those cries have fallen on deaf
ears. We demand that Congress ensure that the fourth stimulus package
they are currently negotiating includes legislation that will ensure
that nurses get the PPE we desperately need."
National Nurses United and petition
signatories called on Congress to mandate that the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration issue an Emergency Temporary Standard to
ensure that employers protect frontline workers during the COVID-19
pandemic. They also called on Congress to pass legislation that would
ensure that the Defense
Production Act is invoked to increase production of PPE,
and ensure efficient and transparent delivery of critical medical
"More than 164 registered nurses have died during
the COVID-19 pandemic so far," said Cortez. "Our country could have
saved many of their lives if we got them the PPE that they needed. It
is far past time for Congress to prioritize the health and safety of
Trenton, New Jersey
New York City
August 5, 2020, Nurses' Day of Action
August 3, 2020 action demands schools re-open "only when its safe."
August 2, 2020
Nurses' Day of Action, August 5, 2020
August 3, 2020
August 1, 2020
Asheville, North Carolina
Kansas/Missouri State Line March
New Orleans, Louisiana
El Paso, Texas
Los Angeles, California
August 3, 2020
August 5, 2020
Culver City, California
San Pedro, California
August 1, 2020
Nurses' Day of Action, August 5, 2020
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