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MICHAEL CORELEONE IS SMILING – PART FOUR (END)

In History, Politics on January 31, 2012 at 10:45 am

“John and Robert Kennedy knew what they were doing.  They waged a vicious war against Fidel Castro–a war someone had to lose.”

So writes Gus Russo in Live By the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK, published in 1998.

In what is almost certainly the definitive account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Russo reaches some startling–but highly documented–conclusions:

  • Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy.
  • He did it alone.
  • Oswald, a former Marine, was a committed Marxist–whose hero was Castro.
  • The CIA’s ongoing campaign to overthrow and/or assassinate Castro was an open secret throughout the Gulf.
  • Oswald visited New Orleans in the spring of 1963.
  • There he learned that Castro was in the crosshairs of the CIA.
  • Oswald told his Russian-born wife, Marina: “Fidel Castro needs defenders.  I’m going to join his army of volunteers.” 
  • Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, murdered Oswald because he was distraught over Kennedy’s death. 
  • Ruby was not part of a Mafia conspiracy to silence Oswald. 
  • Skeptics of the Warren Commission–which concluded that Oswald had acted alone–asked the wrong question: “Who killed Kennedy?” 
  • They should have asked: “Why was he killed?”
  • The answer–according to Russo: “The Kennedys’ relentless pursuit of Castro and Cuba backfired in tragedy on that terrible day in November, 1963.”

Lee Harvey Oswald

Another book well worth reading about America’s Cuban obsession during the early 1960s is American Tabloid, by James Ellroy.

Although a novel, it vividly captures the atmosphere of intrigue, danger and sleaziness that permeated that era in a way that dry, historical documents never can.

“The 50s are finished,” reads its paperback dust jacket.  “Zealous young lawyer Robert Kennedy has a red-hot jones to nail Jimmy Hoffa.  JFK has his eyes on the Oval Office.

“J. Edgar Hoover is swooping down on the Red Menace.  Howard Hughes is dodging subpoenas and digging up Kennedy dirt.  And Castro is mopping up the bloody aftermath of his new Communist nation….

“Mob bosses, politicos, snitches, psychos, fall guys and femmes fatale.  They’re mixing up a Molotov cocktail guaranteed to end the country’s innocence with a bang.”

Among the legacies of America’s twisted romance with anti-Castro Cubans:

  • Following the JFK assassination, there was a coverup.
  • Its purpose was to safeguard the reputation of the United States government–and that of its newly-martyred President.
  • To that end, the CIA and FBI concealed the anti-Castro assassination plots from the Warren Commission investigating Kennedy’s assassination.
  • Other participating officials included Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • This secrecy ignited the widespread–and false–belief that the President had died at the hands of a government conspiracy.
  • Robert Kennedy feared that his relentless pursuit of Castro might have backfired against JFK, leading Castro to “take out” the President first.
  • Fearing his own assassination if he continued Kennedy’s efforts to murder Castro, President Johnson ordered the CIA to halt its campaign to overthrow and/or assassinate the Cuban leader.
  • The huge Cuban community throughout Florida–and especially Miami–continues to exert a blackmail influence on American politics.
  • Right-wing politicians from Richard Nixon to Newt Gingrich have reaped electoral rewards by catering to the demands of this hate-obsessed voting block.
  • As a result, the United States still refuses to open diplomatic relations with Cuba–even though it has done so with such former enemies as the Soviet Union, China and Vietnam.
  • The most fervent hope of these Cuban ex-patriots is that the United States will launch a full-scale military invasion of the island to remove Castro.
  • At the same time, they fear to risk their own lives by returning to Cuba and launching an uprising against him.  (Castro had done just that–successfully–from 1956 to 1958 against Fulgencio Batista, the dictator who had preceded him.)

The United States is fast approaching the 50th anniversay of the most dangerous moment of the Cold War: The Cuban Missile Crisis, when the world stood only minutes away from nuclear Armageddon.

That crisis stemmed from our twisted obsession with Cuba, an obsession that continues today.

Ron Paul is correct:

It’s time to end the half-century contamination of American politics by those Cubans who live for their hatred of Castro and those political candidates who live to exploit it.

(For example: Marco Rubio got himself elected U.S. Senator from Florida in 2010 by claiming that his parents had been forced to leave Cuba in 1959, after Fidel Castro came to power.  In fact, they had left Cuba in 1956 during the Batista dictatorship.)

It’s long past time to end this wag-the-dog relationship.  A population of about 1,700,000 Cubans should not be allowed to shape the domestic and foreign policy of a nation of 300 million.

Those who continue to hate–or love–Castro should be left to their own private feud.  But that is a feud they should settle on their own island, and not from the shores of the United States.

MICHAEL CORLEONE IS SMILING – PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In History, Politics on January 30, 2012 at 10:17 am

Following the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert–then Attorney General–created  their own covert operation to depose Fidel Castro.

Known as the Special Group, and overseen by Robert Kennedy, it launched a secret war against the Castro regime, code-named Operation Mongoose.

“We were hysterical about Castro at about the time of the Bay of Pigs and thereafter,” Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara later testified before Congress about these efforts.  “And there was pressure from JFK and RFK to do something about Castro.”

Nor was everyone in the CIA enthusiastic about the “get Castro” effort.

“Everyone at CIA was surprised at Kennedy’s obsession with Fidel,” recalled Sam Halpern, who was assigned to the Cuba Project.  “They thought it was a waste of time.  We all knew [Fidel] couldn’t hurt us.  Most of us at CIA initially liked Kennedy, but why go after this little guy?

“One thing is for sure: Kennedy wasn’t doing it out of national security concerns.  It was a personal thing.  The Kennedy family felt personally burnt by the Bay of Pigs and sought revenge.”

It was all-out war.  Among the tactics used:

  • Hiring Cuban gangsters to murder Cuban police officials and Soviet technicians.
  • Sabotaging mines.
  • Paying up to $100,000 per “hit” for the murder or kidnapping of Cuban officials.
  • Using biological and chemical warfare against the Cuban sugar industry.

“Bobby (Kennedy) wanted boom and bang all over the island,” recalled Halpern. “It was stupid.  The pressure from the White House was very great.”

Among that “boom and bang” were a series of assassination plots against Castro, in which the Mafia was to be a key player.

Chicago Mobster Johnny Rosselli proposed a simple plan: through its underworld connections in Cuba, the Mafia would recruit a Cuban in Castro’s entourage, such as a waiter or bodyguard, who would poison him.

The CIA’s Technical Services division produced a botulinus toxin which was then injected into Castro’s favorite brand of cigars. The CIA also produced simpler botulinus toxin pills that could be dissolved in his food or drink.

But the deputized Mafia contacts failed to deliver any of the poisons to Castro.

As Rosselli explained to the CIA, the first poisoner had been discharged from Castro’s employ before he could kill him, while a back-up agent got “cold feet.”

Other proposals or attempts included:

  • Planting colorful seashells rigged to explode at a site where Castro liked to go skindiving.
  • Trying to arrange for his being presented with a wetsuit impregnated with noxious bacteria and mould spores, or with lethal chemical agents.
  • Attempting to infect Castro’s scuba regulator with tuberculous bacilli.
  • Trying to douse his handkerchiefs, tea and coffee with other lethal bacteria.

Americans would rightly label such methods as “terrorist” if another power used them against the United States today.  And the Cuban government saw the situation exactly the same way.

So Castro appealed to Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, for assistance.

Khrushchev was quick to comply:  “We must not allow the communist infant to be strangled in its crib,” he told members of his inncer circle.

By October, 1962, the Soviet Union had sent more than 40,000 soldiers, 1,300 field pieces, 700 anti-airctaft guns, 350 tanks and 150 jets to Cuba to deter another invasion.

Khrushchev also began supplying Castro with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles–whose discovery, on October 15, 1962, ignited the single most dangerous confrontation of the Cold War.

Suddenly, the two most powerful nuclear countries–the United States and the Soviet Union–found themselves on the brink of nuclear war.

At the time, Kennedy officials claimed they couldn’t understand why Khrushchev had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba.  “Maybe Khrushchev’s gone mad” was a typical musing.

None of these officials admitted that JFK had been waging a no-holds-barred campaign to overthrow the Cuban government and assassinate its leader.

The crisis ended when, after 13 harrowing days, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba.  Behind its resolution lay a  promise by the Kennedy administration to not invade Cuba.

But President Kennedy was not finished with Castro.  While continuing the campaign of sabotage throughout Cuba, the Kennedys were preparing something far bigger: A fullscale American invasion of the island.

On October 4, 1963, the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted its latest version of the invasion plan, known as OPLAN 380-63.  Its timetable went:

  • January, 1964:  Infiltration into Cuba by Cuban exiles.
  • July 15, 1964:  U.S. conventional forces join the fray.
  • August 3, 1964:  All-out U.S. air strikes on Cuba.
  • October 1, 1964:  Full-scale invasion to install “a government friendly to the U.S.”

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Robert Kennedy–referring to the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor–had resisted demands for a “sneak attack” on Cuba by saying: “I don’t want my brother to be the Tojo of the 1960s.”

Now the Kennedys planned such an attack on Cuba just one month before the November, 1964 Presidential election.

But then fate–in the otherwise unimpressive form of Lee Harvey Oswald–suddenly intervened.

MICHAEL CORLEONE IS SMILING – PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In History, Politics on January 27, 2012 at 12:50 pm

On January 23, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney played to the huge–and influential–Cuban community in Florida, especially in Miami.

All three GOP Presidential candidates had carefully avoided military service.  But all three “chickenhawks” now wanted to show how eagerly they could send others into harm’s way.

Former House Speaker Gingrich spoke for all three when he said: “I would suggest to you the policy of the United States should be aggressively to overthrow the regime and to do everything we can to support those Cubans who want freedom.”

Of course, this “chickenhawk” bravado ignored a great many ugly historical truths.  Among these:

  • In 1959, Fidel Castro swept triumphantly into Havana after a two-year guerrilla campaign against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.
  • Almost immediately, hundreds of thousands of Cubans began fleeing to America.  The first emigres were more than 215,000 Batista followers.
  • The exodus escalated, peaking at approximately 78,000 in 1962.
  • In October, 1962, Castro stopped regularly scheduled travel between the two countries, and asylum seekers began sailing from Cuba to Florida.
  • Between 1962 and 1979, hundreds of thousands of Cubans entered the United States under the Attorney General’s parole authority.
  • The overwhelming majority of Cubans who immigrated into the United States settled in Florida, whose political, economic, and cultural life they transformed.
  • By 2008, more than 1.24 million Cuban Americans were living in the United States, mostly in South Florida, where the population of Miami was about one-third Cuban.
  • Many of these Cubans viewed themselves as political exiles, rather than immigrants, hoping to eventually return to Cuba after its communist regime fell from power.
  • The large number of Cubans in South Florida, particularly in Miami’s “Little Havana,” allowed them to preserve their culture and customs to a degree rare for immigrant groups.
  • With so many discontented immigrants concentrated in Florida, they became a potential force for politicians to court.
  • And the issue guaranteed to sway their votes was unrelenting hostility to Castro.  Unsurprisingly, most of their votes went to right-wing Republicans.

John F. Kennedy was the first President to face this dilemma.

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During the closing months of the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the CIA had begun training Cuban exiles for an invasion of their former homeland.

The goal: To do what Castro had done–seek refuge in the mountains and launch a successful anti-Castro revolution.

But word of the coming invasion quickly leaked: The exiles were terrible secret-keepers.  (A joke at the CIA went: “A Cuban thinks a secret is something you tell to only 300 people.”)

Kennedy insisted the invasion must appear to be an entirely Cuban enterprise.  He refused to commit U.S. Marines and Air Force bombers.

The invasion force was quickly overwhelmed at the Bay of Pigs, with hundreds of its men taken prisoner.

Kennedy publicly took the blame for its failure: “Victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan.”  But privately he seethed, and ordered the CIA to redouble its efforts to remove Castro at all costs.

To make certain his order was carried out, he appointed his brother, Robert–then Attorney General–to oversee the CIA’s “Castro removal” program.

It’s here that America’s obsession with Cuba entered its darkest and most disgraceful period.

The CIA and the Mafia entered into an unholy alliance to assassinate Castro–each for its own benefit:

The CIA wanted to please Kennedy.  The Mafia wanted to regain its casino and brothel holdings that had made Cuba the playground of the rich in pre-Castro times.

The CIA supplied poisons and explosives to various members of the Mafia.  It was then up to the mobsters to assassinate Castro.

The available sources differ widely on what actually happened.  Some believe that the Mob made a genuine effort to “whack” Fidel.

Others are convinced the mobsters simply ran a scam on the government.  They would pretend to carry out their “patriotic duty” while in fact making no effort at all to penetrate Castro’s security.

The mobsters hoped to use their pose as patriots to win immunity from future prosecution.

The CIA asked Johnny Roselli, a mobster linked to the Chicago syndicate, to go to Florida in 1961 and 1962 to organize assassination teams of Cuban exiles.

They were to infiltrate their homeland and assassinate Castro.

Rosselli called upon two other crime figures: Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana  and the Costra Nostra chieftain for Cuba, Santos Trafficante, to help him.

Giancana, using the name “Sam Gold” in his dealings with the CIA, was being hounded by the FBI on directr orders of Attorney General Kennedy.

The mobsters were authorized to offer $150,000 to anyone who would kill Castro and were promised any support the Agency could yield.

Giancana was to locate someone who was close enough to Castro to be able to drop pills into his food.

Trafficante would serve as courier to Cuba, helping to make arrangements for the murder on the island.

Rosselli was to be the main link between all of the participants in the plot.

MICHAEL CORLEONE IS SMILING – PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In History, Politics on January 25, 2012 at 9:29 pm

For Presidential candidate Ron Paul, the Cold War is over–and the United States should recognize it.

But for his three competitors in the GOP Presidential debate in Tampa, Florida, on January 23, it’s still raging.

Moderator Brian Williams:  “….There was a lot of talk in the last presidential campaign about that 3:00 a.m. phone call. Let’s say ….it is to say that Fidel Castro has died. And there are credible people in the Pentagon who predict upwards of half a million Cubans may take that as a cue to come to the United States. What do you do?”

Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum played to the huge–and politically influential–Cuban community in Florida, and especially Miami.

All three pledged to continue the dcades-old policy of refusing to trade with Cuba or open diplomatic relations while it held to a nominally Communist government.

And all three are draft-dodging “chickenhawks” eager to prove how “tough” they are at the risk of other men’s lives.

Former Speaker of the House Gingrich promised: “A Gingrich presidency will not tolerate four more years of this dictatorship.”

Former Massachusetts Governor Romney declared that he would “work very aggressively with the new leadership in Cuba to try and move them towards a more open degree than they have had in the past.”

And former U.S. Senator Santorum insisted “the sanctions have to stay in place, because we need to have a very solid offer to come forward and help the Cuban people.”

Finally, it was the turn of Texas Congressman Ron Paul to respond:

“No, I would do pretty much the opposite. I don’t like the isolationism of not talking to people. I was drafted in 1962 at the height of the Cold War when the missiles were in Cuba. And the Cold War’s over.

“And I think we propped up Castro for 40-some years because we put on these sanctions, and this–only used us as a scapegoat. He could always say, anything wrong, it’s the United States’ fault.

“But I think it’s time…to quit this isolation business of not talking to people. We talked to the Soviets. We talk to the Chinese. And we opened up trade, and we’re not killing each other now.

“We fought with the Vietnamese for a long time. We finally gave up, started talking to them, now we trade with them. I don’t know why…the Cuban people should be so intimidating.

“I don’t know where you get this assumption that all of a sudden all the Cubans would come up here. I would probably think they were going to celebrate and they’re going to have a lot more freedom if we would only open up our doors and say, we want to talk to you, and trade with you, and come visit….

“I think we’re living in the dark ages when we can’t even talk to the Cuban people. I think it’s not 1962 anymore.  And we don’t have to use force and intimidation and overthrow of a–in governments. I just don’t think that’s going to work.”

* * * * *

Paul’s answer reveals–and leaves out–a great deal.

It reveals an awareness that:

  • We’ve learned to live, talk and trade with our once-sworn enemies in China and Russia.
  • We’ve learned to live, talk and trade with our former battlefield enemies in Vietnam.
  • We can do the same with the Cubans–who are far weaker than the Russians and Chinese.
  • To avoid war, a great power like the United States must maintain diplomatic relations with its enemies.
  • Fidel Castro has been able to blame United States sanctions for the continuing poverty of his island–instead of a failed  economic system: communism.

But Paul’s answer does not reveal:

  • Before Castro’s takeover in 1959, Cuba had been a playground for wealthy American businessmen–and Mafiosi.
  • Castro quickly nationalized Cuban businesses–especially the sugar-producing ones.
  • Gangsters who had been heavily involved in running casinos were arrested, imprisoned or unofficially deported to the United States.
  • The Mob–eager to reclaim its casino investments–agreed to help the CIA assassinate Castro.
  • Among the conspirators were such powerful mobsters as Santos Trafficante, Carlos Marcello, Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana.
  • On April 17, 1961, the U.S. Navy landed 1,700 Cuban exiles onshore at the Cuban Bay of Pigs.
  • Long forewarned of the coming invasion, Castro sent in his forces to decimate the invaders.
  • President John F. Kennedy–wanting the attack to seem the work of Cuban exiles–refused to commit U.S. Marines or Air Force bombers to the invasion.
  • Kennedy took responsibility for the failure.  But he blamed Castro for not allowing himself to be overthrown.
  • The CIA–and the Mafia–continued to plot the death of Castro and the overthrow of his regime.
  • In the end, it was not Fidel Castro who died at the hands of an assassin, but John F. Kennedy.

We will more fully explore the embarrassing results of this poisonous mixture in the next posting.

REPUBLICANS: ASSASSINATION, ANYONE?

In History, Politics on January 25, 2012 at 3:09 am

Republicans don’t want to merely defeat President Barack Obama at the polls.  They want to attend his funeral.

In mid-January, Republican Mike O’Neal, Speaker of the Kansas State House of Representatives, sent an email whose Bible verse called for President Obama’s “days [to] be few.”

The email was later published by the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper.

The message, sent to friends and colleagues, cited Psalm 109:8: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

But the (not cited) operative verse immediately following this reads: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

In a message accompanying the email, O’Neal wrote: “At last–I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president!  Look it up–it is word for word!  Let us all bow our heads and pray.  Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN?  AMEN!!!!!”

On January 19, after the message became public, O’Neal issued a statement:

“The forward contained a single verse and it was only intended as election commentary regarding the president’s days in office.  I have apologized and I am sincerely sorry.”

But he resisted demands that he resign.  A petition, signed by 30,000 demanding that he do so, was delivered to him by two pastors.

“He is using sacred scripture to flippantly suggest people should be praying for the death of the president,” said Michael Serrard, a spokesman for Faithful America, an online interfaith community based in Washington that organized the petition.

On the contrary: O’Neal is using Biblical scripture to solicit a wacko-religious “hit” on the President.

This is not the first time right-wing extremists have threatened the President’s life.

In August, 2009, about a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside a Phoenix convention center where President Obama was giving a speech.

A week earlier, during Obama’s healthcare town hall meeting in New Hampshire, a man carrying a sign reading “It is time to water the tree of liberty” [with the blood of tyrants] stood outside with a pistol strapped to his leg.

Increasingly, Republicans have aimed violent–and violence-arousing–rhetoric at their Democratic opponents.

  • Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Tex.) yelled “baby killer” at Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) on the floor of the House of Representatives.
  • Florida GOP Congressional candidate Allen West, referring to his Democratic opponent, Rep. Ron Klein, told Tea Party activists: “You’ve got to make the fellow scared to come out of his house.  That’s the only way that you’re going to win.  That’s the only way you’re going to get these people’s attention.”
  • Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) said Tea Partiers had “every right” to use racist and homophobic slurs against Democrats, justifying it on Democrats “totalitarian tactics.”
  • In March, 2010, Sarah Palin’s SarahPAC issued a map highlighting 20 House Democratic seats–using crosshairs images to show their districts.
  • Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) said she wanted her constituents to be “armed and dangerous” against the Obama administration.
  • Sarah Palin told her supporters: “Get in their face and argue with them.  No matter how tough it gets, never retreat, instead RELOAD!”
  • Right-wing pundit Ann Coulter: “My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times building.”
  • Senator Phil Gramm (R-Tex.): “We’re going to keep building the party until we’re hunting Democrats with dogs.”

This is not a case of careless language that is simply misinterpreted, with tragic results.

Republican extremists like Sarah Palin fully understand their constituents: Those masses of alienated, uneducated Americans who live only for their guns and hardline, fundamentalist religious beliefs–and who can be easily manipulated to violence by perceived threats to either.

Like their Islamic counterparts in the Taliban, they intend to force compliance with their beliefs on everyone else–either by force of law or simply by force.

And if one of those “nutcases” assaults a Democratic politician and misses, Republicans claim to be shocked that such a thing could have happened.  If the attempt proves successful, Republicans weep crocodile tears for public consumption.

Exactly the latter happened after the January 8, 2011 shooting of Democratic Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona.

The time is long overdue for the Secret Service and Justice Department to take such threats seriously.

First, the FBI and Justice Department should launch all-out investigations into both right-wing hate groups and those political leaders who openly or secretly encourage and support their activities.

Those who are found doing so should be indicted and prosecuted under the anti-terrorism statutes. 

Second, the Secret Service should adopt the policy that no one but sworn law enforcement officers will be allowed to carry firearms within the immediate vicinity of the President.  And it should enforce that policy through its elite counter-sniper teams.

Third, the Secret Service should arrest and demand prosecution of all those who–like Mike O’Neal–use coded language to incite violence against the President.  The only way to protect the President is to assert the right to protect him.

Fourth, President Obama should publicly identify–and condemn–those Republicans who give “aid and comfort” to right-wing extremists whose support they openly court.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE RACISTS – PART TWO

In History, Politics on January 24, 2012 at 8:55 am

There’s a reason why Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary on January 21:

He’s a Southern racist who knows how to speak to other Southern racists.

In a stunning electoral victory, the former House speaker won with 40% of the vote, compared to Mitt Romney’s 28%.  He also took 43 of the state’s 46 counties.

Former Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) received 17% and Representative Ron Paul (R-Texas) came in fourth at 13%.

Gingrich had destroyed Romney’s 10-point lead in South Carolina in just five days.

It all started with Gingrich’s racially-charged exchange with black Fox News debate moderator Juan Williams on January 16 in Myrtle Beach.

Gingrich contemptuously answered Williams’ questions about his attitude toward low-income blacks–and thousands in the debate hall stood and roared their approval.

Several voters told various media that Gingrich had “‘put him in his place.”

The racially-charged exchange between Williams and Gingrich went:

WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?

GINGRICH: No. I don’t see that.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH:  You know, my daughter, Jackie, who’s sitting back there, Jackie Cushman, reminded me that her first job was at First Baptist Church in Carrollton, Georgia, doing janitorial work at 13. And she liked earning the money…

New York City pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union. You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out. They would actually have money in their pocket.

They’d learn to show up for work. They could do light janitorial duty. They could work in the cafeteria. They could work in the front office. They could work in the library. They’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor. Only the elites despise earning money.

(APPLAUSE)

WILLIAMS: Well…

(APPLAUSE)

WILLIAMS: The suggestion that he made was about a lack of work ethic. And I’ve got to tell you, my e-mail account, my Twitter account has been inundated with people of all races who are asking if your comments are not intended to belittle the poor and racial minorities. You saw some of this reaction during your visit…

(BOOING)

.… to a black church in South Carolina. You saw some of this during your visit to a black church in South Carolina, where a woman asked you why you refer to President Obama as “the food stamp president.” It sounds as if you are seeking to belittle people.

(BOOING)

GINGRICH: Well, first of all, Juan, the fact is that more people have been put on food stamps by Barack Obama than any president in American history.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, I know among the politically correct, you’re not supposed to use facts that are uncomfortable.

LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: So here’s my point. I believe every American of every background has been endowed by their creator with the right to pursue happiness. And if that makes liberals unhappy, I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job, learn how to get a better job and learn some day to own the job.

(APPLAUSE)

* * * * *

So add it up:

  • a black journalist is booed by an overwhelmingly white audience
  • in a deep South state
  • on Martin Luther King Day
  • as a white candidate for president
  • shows his contempt by addressing him as “Juan,” rather than “Mr. Williams”
  • and then denigrates the work ethic in low-income, majority black neighborhoods.

No one should be surprised by Gingrich’s victory in South Carolina, which:

  • championed slavery even before the signing of the Declaration of Independence;
  • was the first state to secede from the Union, on December 20, 1860;
  • ignited the Civil War by firing on Union Fort Sumter, on April 12, 1861;
  • still flies the Confederate flag over its Capitol building;
  • and still sees itself at war with the Union (i.e., Washington, D.C.).

Adolf Hitler won support across Germany by playing to the fears and hatreds of his audiences.

Gingrich owes his victory to the same methods.

And he will continue using them so long as his audiences seek a candidate who plays to their own fears and hatreds.

When he meets voters who demand something better from a candidate, his march to victory will shudder to a halt.

But that isn’t likely to happen until he runs out of Southern primaries to enter.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE RACISTS – PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Politics on January 24, 2012 at 8:54 am

Consider the following exchange between Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House, and Juan Williams, Fox News political analyst.

Then consider the reaction by the audience at the GOP debate in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on January 16.

WILLIAMS: Speaker Gingrich, you recently said black Americans should demand jobs, not food stamps. You also said poor kids lack a strong work ethic and proposed having them work as janitors in their schools. Can’t you see that this is viewed, at a minimum, as insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans?

GINGRICH: No. I don’t see that.

(APPLAUSE)

….New York City pays their janitors an absurd amount of money because of the union. You could take one janitor and hire 30-some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor, and those 30 kids would be a lot less likely to drop out. They would actually have money in their pocket. They’d learn to show up for work.

They could do light janitorial duty. They could work in the cafeteria. They could work in the front office. They could work in the library. They’d be getting money, which is a good thing if you’re poor. Only the elites despise earning money.

(APPLAUSE)

WILLIAMS: Well…

(APPLAUSE)

It’s significant that:

  • This applause came from an audience in South Carolina. It was this state whose treasonous doctrine of “Secession” led directly to the Civil War, which killed 618,000 Americans.
  • The racist mindset that prevailed in South Carolina–and the South generally–before the Civil War continues to prevail today.
  • This outburst of applause occurred on the same day that Americans were observing the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

* * * * *

In 1999, historian Victor Davis Hanson noted the huge gap in wealth between the aristocratic, slave-owning minority of the pre-Civil War South and the vast majority of poor white Southerners.

He did so in his brilliant work on military history, The Soul of Battle: From Ancient Times to the Present Day, How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny.

One of those liberators was General William Tecumseh Sherman, who led 62,000 Union troops in a victorious “March to the Sea” through the Confederacy in 1864.

Wrote Hanson: “Before the war in the counties Sherman would later ruin, the top 10% of the landowners controlled 40% of the assessed wealth.”

In contrast, “more than half of those who were lucky enough to own any property at all still possessed less than 15% of the area’s valuation.”

So why did so many poor Southern whites literally lay down their lives for the wealthy planter class, which despised them?

According to Hanson: “Behind the entire social fabric of the South lay slavery.

“If slavery eroded the economic position of the poor free citizens, if slavery encouraged a society of haves and have-nots…then it alone offered one promise to the free white man–poor, ignorant and dispirited–that he was at least not black and not a slave.” [Italics added.]

And the planter class and its allies in government easily fobbed off their poor white countrymen with cheap flattery. Said Georgia Governor Joseph Brown:

“Among us the poor white laborer is respected as an equal. His family is treated with kindness, consideration, and respect. He does not belong to the menial class. The negro is in no sense his equal. He belongs to the only true aristocracy, the race of white men.”

In short: Poor whites admired and aspired to enter the aristocratic planter class–which thoroughly despised them.

Similarly, poor whites now flock to the Republican Party–which holds them in equal contempt–in large part to protest the 2008 election of the first black President of the United States.

According to a Pew Research Center study released on July 22, 2011: “Notably, the GOP gains have occurred only among white voters; a 2-point Republican edge among whites in 2008 (46% to 44%) has widened to a 13-point lead today (52% to 39%).”

Since the 1960s, Republicans have pursued a campaign policy of “divide and rule”–divide the nation along racial lines and reap the benefits at election time:

  • Republicans opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • Republicans opposed the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
  • Republicans, with Richard Nixon as their Presidential candidate in 1968 and 1972, pursued what they called a “Southern strategy: Use “code language” to stoke fear and hatred of blacks among whites.
  • Republicans have falsely identified welfare programs exclusively with non-whites. (Of the six million Americans receiving food stamps, about 42 percent are white, 32 percent are black, and 22 percent are Latino—with the growth fastest among whites during the recession.)

Thus, in voting Republican, many of these poor whites believe they are “striking a blow for the white race.”

And they can do so in a more socially acceptable way than joining a certified hate group such as the American Nazi Party or Ku Klux Klan.

BY THEIR WORDS YE SHALL KNOW THEM – PART TWO (END)

In History, Humor, Politics on January 23, 2012 at 9:24 am

Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

—Matthew 7: 17-20

Meet the Gingrich Twins: Good Newt and Bad Newt.

Here’s how Good Newt responded to a question by CNN Moderator John King during the GOP Presidential debate at Charleston, South Carolina, on January 19, 2012:

Newt Gingrich

King:  As you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to ABC News and another interview with The Washington Post.  And this story has now gone viral on the internet.

In it, she says that you came to her in 1999, at a time when you were having an affair.  She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage.

Would you like to take some time to respond to that?

Good Newt: No, but I will.   I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office.  And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that….

To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question for a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine….

Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period said the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false. They weren’t interested because they would like to attack any Republican. They’re attacking the governor.  They’re attacking me. I’m sure they’ll presently get around to Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul.

Good Newt is “appalled” that anyone could stoop so low.  He’s concerned not only for himself and his party, but the country.

Unfortunately, for Good Newt, he has an identical evil twin: Bad Newt.

And sometimes people–especially Democrats–mistake one for the other.

It was Bad Newt who, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, wrote a 1996 memo that encouraged Republicans to “speak like Newt.”

Entitled “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control,” it urged Republicans to attack Democrats with such words as “corrupt,” “selfish,” “destructive,” “hypocrisy,” “liberal,” “sick,” and “traitors.”

Even worse, Bad Newt encouraged the news media to disseminate such accusations.  Among his suggestions:

  • “Fights make news.”
  • Create a “shield issue” to deflect criticism: “A shield issue is just, you know, your opponent is going to attack you as lacking compassion. “You better…show up in the local paper holding a baby in the neonatal center….”

In the memo, Bad Newt advised:

“….In the video “We are a Majority,” Language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party, along with Agenda, Rules, Attitude and Learning.  As the tapes have been used in training sessions across the country and mailed to candidates we have heard a plaintive plea: ‘I wish I could speak like Newt.’

“That takes years of practice. But, we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases….

“This list is prepared so that you might have a directory of words to use in writing literature and mail, in preparing speeches, and in producing electronic media.

“The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used.”

Here is the list of words Bad Newt urged his followers to use in describing “the opponent, their record, proposals and their party”:

  • abuse of power
  • anti- (issue): flag, family, child, jobs
  • betray
  • bizarre
  • bosses
  • bureaucracy
  • cheat
  • coercion
  • “compassion” is not enough
  • collapse(ing)
  • consequences
  • corrupt
  • corruption
  • criminal rights
  • crisis
  • cynicism
  • decay
  • deeper
  • destroy
  • destructive
  • devour
  • disgrace
  • endanger
  • excuses
  • failure (fail)
  • greed
  • hypocrisy
  • ideological
  • impose
  • incompetent
  • insecure
  • insensitive
  • intolerant
  • liberal
  • lie
  • limit(s)
  • machine
  • mandate(s)
  • obsolete
  • pathetic
  • patronage
  • permissive attitude
  • pessimistic
  • punish (poor …)
  • radical
  • red tape
  • self-serving
  • selfish
  • sensationalists
  • shallow
  • shame
  • sick
  • spend(ing)
  • stagnation
  • status quo
  • steal
  • taxes
  • they/them
  • threaten
  • traitors
  • unionized
  • urgent (cy)
  • waste
  • welfare

Yes, speaking like Newt–or Adolf Hitler or Joseph McCarthy–“takes years of practice.”

So you can understand why Good Newt hates being mistaken for his evil twin, Bad Newt.

Unfortunately, they look–and sound–so alike it’s impossible to tell them apart.

But since they’re both 68, perhaps one day soon we’ll find out which one we’re left with–Good Newt or Bad Newt.

Unless, of course, they both drop off at the same time.  Then we will never know which was which.

It’s definitely a mystery worth living with.

BY THEIR WORDS YE SHALL KNOW THEM – PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Politics on January 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm

The setting: The GOP Presidential debate in Charleston, South Carolina, January 19, 2012.

The speakers: CNN Moderator John King and Republican Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich.

KING:  As you know, your ex-wife gave an interview to ABC News and another interview with The Washington Post.  And this story has now gone viral on the internet.

In it, she says that you came to her in 1999, at a time when you were having an affair.  She says you asked her, sir, to enter into an open marriage.

Would you like to take some time to respond to that?

GINGRICH: No, but I will.

(APPLAUSE)

GINGRICH: I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office.  And I am appalled that you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Is that all you want to say, sir?

GINGRICH: Let me finish.

KING: Please.

GINGRICH: Every person in here knows personal pain. Every person in here has had someone close to them go through painful things.

To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question for a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine.

(APPLAUSE)

My – my two daughters – my two daughters wrote the head of ABC and made the point that it was wrong, that they should pull it, and I am frankly astounded that CNN would take trash like that and use it to open a presidential debate.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: As you noted, Mr Speaker, this story did not come from our network.   As you also know, it is a subject of conversation on the campaign. I’m not – I get your point. I take your point.

GINGRICH: John, John, it was repeated by your network. You chose to start the debate with it. Don’t try to blame somebody else. You and your staff chose to start this debate with it.

(APPLAUSE)

Let me be quite clear. Let me be quite clear. The story is false.

Every personal friend I have who knew us in that period said the story was false. We offered several of them to ABC to prove it was false.

They weren’t interested because they would like to attack any Republican. They’re attacking the governor.  They’re attacking me. I’m sure they’ll presently get around to Senator Santorum and Congressman Paul.

I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.

(APPLAUSE)

“Destructive,” “vicious,” despicable,” “negative,” “trash,” “false,” “attack any Republican.”

Thus spoke “Mr. Family Values” Newt Gingrich when his record as a serial adulterer was highlighted by his second ex-wife.

But his language was considerably different in 1996 when, as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich wrote a GOPAC memo that encouraged Republicans to “speak like Newt.”

To do so, Republicans should attack Democrats with such words as “corrupt,” “destructive,” “hypocrisy,” “selfish,” “liberal,” “sick,” and “traitors.”

Nor did Gingrich have any qualms about using the news media to disseminate such accusations.  According to the memo:

“This list is prepared so that you might have a directory of words to use in writing literature and mail, in preparing speeches, and in producing electronic media.

“The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used.”

But now that his own record of  “corrupt[ion]” and “hypocrisy” has been put on public display, courtesy of his ex-wife, Marianne, the situation is different.

Gingrich is “appalled” at the “destructive,” “vicious,” “negative,” “false” “trash” used by the news media  to “attack any Republican.”

Nor is Gingrich concerned only for himself or his party.  No, he’s worried for the country itself:

“I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office.”

“Decent people”?

Like Gingrich, who penned the “GOPAC memo”?

(This was, incidentally, entitled: “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.”)

Like the Republicans who made “a plaintive plea: ‘I wish I could speak like Newt”?

No doubt, it’s strictly a matter of coincidence that:

  • Gingrich is worried for the country now that he–and his party–have come under scrutiny by the very news media he once manipulated so effectively against Democrats.
  • The language he urged on his followers during the Bill Clinton Presidency made it “harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office.”
  • Gingrich is now using the “despicable” language he once used to slander Democrats to defend himself from accusations of serial immorality and hypocrisy.

It has to be coincidence.

Because, if it isn’t, Gingrich must be everything his opponents–Republican and Democrat–claim he is.

ONE FRAUD REPRESENTS ANOTHER

In History, Politics on January 19, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Herman Cain will deliver the Tea Party’s response to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 24.

“Herman Cain has been a steadfast advocate for the values of the Tea Party and the practical solutions needed to solve the problems that face our nation,” Tea Party Express Chief Strategist Sal Russo said in a release on January 19.

“Americans want straight talk and honest solutions.”

Facing accusations of sexual harassment from multiple women, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza dropped out of the Republican presidential race in December, 2011.

Since then, he has touted his “Solutions Revolution” with a bus tour and a new website.

“Straight talk?” 

After three women accused him of sexual harassmen in November, 2011, Cain initially refused to answer reporters’ questions.   His attitude was that of an absolute dictator being questioned for the first time.

Then, on November 7, a fourth woman–Sharon Bialek–came forward to accuse Cain of making improper advances toward her.

Even worse for Cain, Bialek was:

  • a lifelong Republican (not a rabid Democrat);
  • a professional businesswoman (not a bimbo);
  • white;
  • blonde.

And she had two sworn statements from people to whom she told the story of Cain’s sexual advances at the time they happened.

It didn’t help Cain that he–and his paid shills–dared his anonymous accusers to “come out from the shadows” and state their charges openly.

Nor did it help him that, in true Godfather fashion, he said that he did not intend to discuss the matter again. Ever.

The Tea Party press release continued: “Herman Cain will deliver a pro-growth message strongly and clearly.”

“A pro-growth message”?

What proved especially damning for Cain was that Bialek claimed he made his advances when she desperately sought his help in finding a job.  She had recently been terminated from the National Restaurant Association.

It was Cain, after all, who famously said the unemployed should blame themselves for not having jobs and/or being rich.

According to Bialek:

“While we were driving back to the hotel, he said that he would show me where the National Restaurant Association offices were. He parked the car down the block. I thought that we were going to go into the offices so he that could show me around.

“At that time I had on a black pleated skirt, a suit jacket and a blouse. He had on a suit with his shirt open. But instead of going into the offices, he suddenly reached over and he put his hand on my leg under my skirt and reached for my genitals.

“He also grabbed my head and brought it toward his crotch. I was very, very surprised and very shocked.  I said: ‘What are you doing? You know I have a boyfriend. This isn’t what I came here for.’

“Mr. Cain said, ‘You want a job, right?’

“I asked him to stop and he did. I asked him to take me back to my hotel which he did, right away.”

Needless to say, Bialek didn’t get any job-placement assistance from Cain.

His idea of a “stimulus package,” as Bialek’s attorney, Gloria Allred, put it, was exactly that offered by those who feel entitled to play ruthless games with the lives of others.

Assuming that Bialek’s charges are true, Cain’s behavior proves once again that it is not the laziness of job-seekers that’s responsible for the joblessness of at least 14 million Americans.

It is, instead, the arrogance and greed of employers, who use their Godfather-like power to hire–or fire–to callously manipulate the lives of their fellow citizens.

Fortunately for average Americans like Bialek, even would-be emperors like Herman Cain must abide by the law.  And that includes those laws that protect citizens from the sort of rapacious conduct described by Bialek.

The Tea Party should have considered all of this before annointing him as its spokesman.

According to its press release: “Whether it is a flat tax, a fair tax or a combination of the two, reforming the tax code must be a priority.”

Ironically, the Tea Party press release came on the same day that news reports surfaced revealing that Mitt Romney–whose fortune has been estimated at $250 million–has holdings in the Cayman Islands.

Romney’s campaign claimed that these offshore holdings didn’t affect the amount he pays in U.S. taxes.

But tax experts said some of the holdings enabled Romney to avoid paying an obscure but hefty tax of as much as 35% on some of those investments, held in a tax-deferred retirement account.

It’s highly unlikely that well-heeled executives like Cain will “reform” the tax code to require millionaires like Romney–and himself–to pay their fair share of taxes.

This is especially true when billionaire Republican donor David Koch serves as “the financial engine of the Tea Party” even though Koch “denies being directly involved.”

The source of this revelation?  An October 4, 2011 internal Romney campaign memo.

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