Barry Sheppard

In a lengthy editorial on October 13, the United States’ most important ruling-class voice concluded that the war in Afghanistan has failed, and that the US should get out as soon as possible.

New York Times editors said in an editorial titled "Time To Pack Up and Leave Afghanistan" that:“The United States will not achieve even President Obama’s narrowing goals, and prolonging the war will only do more harm.”

This election year has seen some of the most extreme weather in the US for some time. Heat records were topped in many cites for a prolonged period. The most devastating drought in decades has ruined crops in a large area of the country.

Yet there has been hardly a peep from either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney about global warming and climate change.

Both have championed dangerous new methods of drilling for oil and natural gas, and promoted the very dirty tar sands oil from Canada.

There is a statue in revolutionary Havana of Don Quixote, the literary creation of 17th century Spanish writer Miguel de Cervantes, who fought for his principles, even if he was crazy. I know I’m a bit crazy.

With less than a month to go before the US presidential elections, the farce we have been living through for more than a year becomes even more grotesque.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent on advertisements for US President Barack Obama or Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Money has never been so awash in an election before.

The recent strike and mass mobilisations of teachers and their supporters in Chicago were significant for those who opposed them.

The Democrat Barack Obama and the Republican Mitt Romney aligned themselves against this fight to defend public schools.

In contrast, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein expressed solidarity with the movement and was invited to speak at a rally.

Chicago's teachers have successfully fought off an assault on their union, school children and public education launched by Democratic Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and even pushed him back in some respects.

The strike and mass mobilisations of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) ended on September 19 when the teachers went back to work.

The evening before, the elected House of Delegates, which represents teachers throughout the system, voted by 98% to end the strike.

The Chicago teachers’ strike entered its third day on September 12. This strike is of national significance for a number of reasons:

* It is a militant fightback against the ruling class onslaught to destroy public education being carried out by Democrats and Republicans across the country.

* It is aimed at the policies of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party machine in Chicago headed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, longtime aide, advisor and fundraiser for Obama.

*It is being organised by a new rank-and file-leaders with a class-struggle perspective.

The election rallies of the mis-named “conventions” of the twin parties of Wall Street are over.

The Tea Party-dominated Republicans have gone sharply to the right. Is supporting the Democrats the way to fight the rightward shift in US capitalist politics?

Many who consider themselves leftists or even socialists reply “yes”. Let us look at the record.

Mitt Romney’s choice of Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate for the November presidential poll signaled the takeover of the Republicans by the Tea Party, at least through the election.

Ryan’s record as a Congressperson puts the representative from Wisconsin squarely on the far right of capitalist politics.

Ryan co-sponsored a bill with Republican representative from Missouri Todd Akin, who thinks that women cannot become pregnant from a “legitimate” rape. It sought to narrow the definition of rape to reduce the number of poor women who can get abortion through Medicaid.

In the early evening of August 6, a series of explosions at the Richmond Chevron oil refinery in the San Francisco Bay Area sparked a huge fire that burned for hours.

The fire sent a huge black cloud that went for miles over densely populated areas. Tens of thousands of residents were ordered to stay in their homes, with windows and doors closed.

Local authorities issued a level three warning, meaning the cloud would cause eye, skin, nose and respiratory sickness.

Wade Michael Page, a Nazi white supremacist, entered a Sikh temple in a town near Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on August 5 and opened fire with a semi-automatic pistol, killing six and wounding three others.

Page also shot a police officer who arrived on the scene, critically injuring him. After being wounded by another officer, Page killed himself.

Page’s ex-girlfriend, who belonged to the same local Nazi group he did, was later arrested on a weapons charge, but has not been implicated in the attack on the Sikh temple.

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