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WHAT TRUMP SHARES WITH OTHER DICTATORS

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 19, 2018 at 12:16 am

“And I have to say, I don’t understand Donald [Trump’s] bizarre fascination with dictators and strongmen who have no love for America.”  

The speaker was Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, addressing an audience in San Diego, California, on June 2, 2016.

“He praised China for the Tiananmen Square massacre; he said it showed strength.

“He said, ‘You’ve got to give Kim Jong Un credit’ for taking over North Korea—something he did by murdering everyone he saw as a threat, including his own uncle, which Donald described gleefully, like he was recapping an action movie.

“And he said if he were grading Vladimir Putin as a leader, he’d give him an A. Now, I’ll leave it to the psychiatrists to explain his affection for tyrants,” said Clinton.

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Hillary Clinton

To many people, it’s the ultimate odd-couple: The lifelong Communist and former KGB officer (Putin) walking arm-in-arm with the billionaire, publicity-hungry capitalist.

First Putin:

“He is a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it. It is not up to us to appraise his positive sides, it is up to the U.S. voters. but, as we can see, he is an absolute leader in the presidential race.”

Now Trump:

“It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

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Donald Trump

Actually, it’s not uncommon for dictators to admire one another—as the case of Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler nicely illustrates.

After Hitler launched a blood-purge of his own private Stormtroopers army on June 30, 1934, Stalin exclaimed: “Hitler, what a great man! That is the way to deal with your political opponents!” 

And Hitler was equally admiring of Stalin’s notorious ruthlessness: “After the victory over Russia,” he told his intimates, “it would be a good idea to get Stalin to run the country, with German oversight, of course. He knows better than anyone how to handle the Russians.”  

Appearing on the December 18, 2015 edition of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump said: “Sure, when people call you ‘brilliant,’ it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia.” 

The host, Joe Scarborough, was upset by Trump’s praise for Putin: “Well, I mean, [he’s] also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”

TRUMP: He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader. Unlike what we have in this country.

When Trump praised Putin as a leader—“unlike what we have in this country”—he undoubtedly meant then-President Barack Obama. 

And, as President, Trump has continued to worship the ground dictators cover with corpses. Asked by a Fox news anchor why he praised murderous North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, Trump replied: 

“He’s a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, tough people, and you take it over from your father …if you could do that at 27 years old, I mean, that’s one in 10,000 that could do that.  

“Anybody that takes over a situation like he did, at 26 years of age, and is able to run it, and run it tough—I don’t say he was nice or I don’t say anything about it—he ran it.” 

In short: Kim must be doing something right because he’s in power. And it doesn’t matter how he came to power—or the price his country is paying because of it.  

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Kim Jong-Un

Blue House (Republic of Korea) [KOGL (http://www.kogl.or.kr/open/info/license_info/by.do)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Actually, for all their differences in appearance and nationality, Trump shares at least two similarities with Kim.

First, both of them got a big boost into wealth and power from their fathers.

  • Trump’s father, Fred Trump, a real estate mogul, reportedly gave Donald $200 million to enter the real estate business. It was this sum that formed the basis for Trump’s eventual rise to wealth and fame—and the Presidency. 
  • Kim’s father was Kim Jong-Il, who ruled North Korea as dictator from 1994 to 2011. When his father died in 2011, Kim Jong-Un immediately succeeded him, having been groomed for years to do so. 

Second, both Trump and Kim have brutally tried to stamp out any voices that contradict their own.

  • Trump has constantly attacked freedom of the press, even labeling it “the enemy of the American people.” He has also slandered his critics on Twitter—which has refused to enforce its “Terms of Service” and revoke his account.
  • Kim has attacked his critics with firing squads and prison camps. (Amnesty International estimates that more than 200,000 North Koreans are now suffering in labor camps throughout the country.)   

During a February, 2017 interview with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, Trump defended Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. 

Reilly: “But he’s a killer.” 

Trump: “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” 

Thus, Trump—-elected to lead the “free world”—believes, like all dictators:

  • People are evil everywhere—so who am I to judge who’s better or worse? All that counts is gaining and holding onto power. 
  • And if you can do that, it doesn’t matter how you do so.

“WE CAN CONTROL HIM”—FIRST HITLER, THEN TRUMP

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 18, 2018 at 12:08 am

After Donald Trump won the 2016 election, many people feared he would embark on a radical Right-wing agenda. But others hoped that the Washington bureaucracy would “box him in.”

The same sentiments echoed throughout Germany after Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933.

The 1983 TV  mini-series, The Winds of War, offered a dramatic example of how honorable men can be overwhelmed by a ruthless dictator. 

Based on the bestselling 1971 historical novel by Herman Wouk, the mini-series factually re-created the major historical events of World War II.

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One of those events took place on November 5, 1939.

General Walther von Brauchitsch is summoned to the Chancellery in Berlin to meet with Adolf Hitler. He carries a memorandum signed by all the leaders of the German Wehrmacht asserting that Case Yellow—Hitler’s planned attack against France—is impossible.

Meanwhile, at the German army headquarters at Zossen, in Berlin, the Wehrmacht’s top command wait for word from von Brauchitsch.

CHANCELLERY:

Von Brauchitsch hands the memorandum to Hitler, who reads it.

ZOSSEN: 

Brigadier General Armin von Roon: I must confide in you on a very serious matter. I have been approached by certain army personages of the loftiest rank and prestige with a frightening proposal.

Chief of the General Staff Franz Halder:  What did you reply?

Von Roon: That they were talking high treason.

CHANCELLERY:

Adolf Hitler (slamming down the memorandum): So—what is new in all this?

Image result for Gunter Meisner as Adolf Hitler in The Winds of War

Gunter Meisner as Adolf Hitler in “The Winds of War”

Walther Von Brauchitsch: Fuhrer, it is the army’s final position that Case Yellow cannot proceed.

Hitler: Why not?

Von Brauchitsch: Because of the military fundamentals as stated. The meteorologists predict continuous soaking rains for weeks.

Hitler: It rains on the enemy, too.

ZOSSEN: 

Von Roon: The conspiracy has been going on that long—since Czechoslovakia [1938)?

Halder: If the British had not caved in at Munich [where France and Britain sold out their ally, Czechoslovakia]—perhaps. But they did. And ever then, ever since his big triumph, it has been hopeless. Hopeless.

Von Roon: Empty talk, talk, talk. I am staggered.

Halder: A hundred times I myself could have shot the man. I can still at any time. But what would be the result? Chaos. The people are for him. He has unified the country. We must stick to our posts and save him from making military mistakes.

CHANCELLERY: 

Von Brauchitsch:  Fuhrer, even the supply of artillery shells is totally inadequate.

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Wolfgang Preiss as Walter von Brauchitsch in “The Winds of War”

Hitler: Who says so? 

Von Brauchitsch: General Thomas, my chief of economics and armament.

Hitler: Do you know how many artillery shells of all calibers we have in the staging areas—right this minute?

Von Brauchitsch: No.

Hitler: How many we have in the reserve dumps in the West? What the monthly annual production of shells is? What the projected rise in production of the next six months is, month by month?

Von Brauchitsch: Who keeps such figures in his head?

Hitler: I do!  The supply is adequate. I tell you so. And I’m a field soldier who depended on artillery for four years to protect his life. [He hands von Brauchitsch a sheaf of armaments figures.] Check with your staff. if one of those figures is wrong, you can postpone Case Yellow. Otherwise—you march!  And next time you come to see me, know what you’re talking about!

Von Brauchitsch: The morale of the army was low, even in the Polish campaign.

Hitler: You question to me—to me—the courage of the German soldier?

Von Brauchitsch: I’m talking facts!

Hitler: What facts? Back up this monstrous assertion! In what units was morale low? What action was taken? How many death sentences were handed out for cowardice? Speak up! I’ll fly to the front and pass the death sentences myself. One specific instance.

Von Brauchitsch: It was common knowledge—

Hitler: Common knowledge? What is common knowledge is that army headquarters at Zossen crawls with cowards. You opposed me in rearming the Rhineland. You opposed me on the [union] with Austria. You opposed me on Czechoslovakia, until the British came crawling to me. You dirtied in your trousers, you heroes at Zossen, at the idea of marching into Poland. Well, have I once been wrong? Have you once been right? Answer me!

Von Brauchitsch: Mein Fuhrer

Hitler: Tell everyone who signed this insubordinate Zossen rubbish to beware! I will ruthlessly crush everybody up to the rank of a Field Marshal who dares to oppose me. You don’t have to understand. You only have to obey. The German people understand me. I am Germany.

Fast forward 79 years from Adolf Hitler’s stormy confrontation with Walter von Brauchitsch to JUNE 13, 2018. 

President Donald Trump has

  • Fired FBI Director James Comey
  • Tried to fire Independent Counsel Robert Mueller
  • Attacked the integrity of the American Intelligence community
  • Attacked the free press as “the enemy of the American people”
  • Branded America’s longtime ally, Canada, as “a national security threat” 
  • Praised brutal Communist dictators Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un

Like Hitler, he can equally say: I am the destiny of America.

THE IDEAL REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE

In Bureaucracy, Entertainment, History, Humor, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 15, 2018 at 12:24 am

Many Republican strategists feared that, after Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton had a lock on the White House for 2016.

And the base of the Republican Party continued to demand candidates who were increasingly Fascistic.

The top officials of the Republican Party decided that science held the answer: They would use cloning to create the perfect, unbeatable Presidential candidate.

They directed scientists from the National Institute of Health to resurrect—via DNA samples—several past, hugely popular Republican leaders.

The first of these was Abraham Lincoln: Destroyer of slavery and defender of the Union. The scientists then introduced him to a sample of Republican voters to gauge his current popularity.

The test audience erupted—but not in the way party officials expected.

“Race-mixer!”

“He’s the reason we have all these damn civil rights laws.”

“He destroyed states’ rights!”

To head off a riot, the scientists rushed the startled Lincoln-clone off the stage.

Then they introduced their next resurrected candidate: Theodore Roosevelt, the trust-busting conservationist. 

Again, the test-audience erupted:

“Tree-hugger!  Tree-hugger!”

“He’s the guy who broke up the big corporations—lousy Socialist!”

Startled Republican officials hustled the Roosevelt-clone out of the building.

Finally, they brought out their third choice for victory: A cloned Ronald Reagan.

“Not him!  He legalized abortion in California when he was Governor!”

“Yeah, and his first wife, Jane Wyman, divorced him. We can’t have a divorced guy in the White House!”

Desperate, Republican leaders went into a huddle.

“What are we going to do?” asked one. “Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan were our most popular Presidents.”

“Yeah, but that was in the past,” said another. “We need a candidate who speaks to our base today.”

“Hey, I’ve got an idea. But it’s a bit radical. The guy I have in mind wasn’t actually born in the United States.”

“So what?”

“That would violate the Constitution.”

“Screw the Constitution. You know what our friends in the oil industry say: Why spoil the beauty of the thing with legality?”

So the Republicans again ordered the scientists to return to work one last time.

When the last resurrected candidate was presented to the test-audience, the crowd rose as one, shouting: “That’s him!  That’s him!”

“The one we’ve been waiting for!”

“The one who really speaks for us!”

“He’s totally anti-abortion and he hates upity women!”

“Yeah—he hates Socialists, gays and nonwhites, and he really  believes in a strong military!”

“All right, all right, I vill do it,” said the clone-candidate. “But the last time I led people to greatness, they proved unworthy of me.

“So I vill do it again—but only under von condition!”

“Yes, yes!” screamed the test-audience.  “Anything you want!  What is it?”

“Ziss time….”

….no more Mr. Nice Guy!”

TRUMP AS SLAYER

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 14, 2018 at 1:05 am

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Donald Trump—then a candidate for President—said at a rally in Sioux Center, Iowa. 

That low moment—one of many others in his campaign—came on January 23, 2016.

Recently, the idea that Trump might shoot someone—and get away with it—has also occurred to his attorney, Rudloph Giuliani. 

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Donald Trump

“In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted,” Giuliani told the Huffington Post. “I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is.”

On June 3, 2018, the former Federal prosecutor asserted that, no matter what crime Trump might commit, he couldn’t be held accountable for it unless he was first impeached. 

“If he shot [former FBI Director] James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.”  

Trump’s legal team had recently said as much in a letter to Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating documented ties between Trump’s Presidential campaign and Russian Intelligence agents.  Trump’s counsel said that that the President “could, if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon if he so desired.”  

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” if Trump could legally pardon himself, Giuliani said: “He probably does. He has no intention of pardoning himself, but he probably—not to say he can’t.” 

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Rudolph Giuliani

Trump quickly backed up his attorney’s claim with a tweet on Twitter: “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself, but why would I do that when I have done nothing wrong?”

Conservative commentator Joe Scarborough had a different take on the issue. 

“This is really literally out of a tyrant’s playbook,” Scarborough said on his MSNBC show, “Morning Joe.”

“You pick the president’s sworn political enemy and then you put it out there about the shooting of him. And you let the president’s followers know that—Vladimir Putin could shoot his political rival and not be thrown in jail. [Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip] Erdogan could do the same thing. Except this is in America.

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Joe Scarborough

By NBC News (NBC News)  [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“What if Barack Obama had said in 2009, 2010, or let’s say Eric Holder here. What if [Obama’s Attorney General] Eric Holder had said, ‘You know what? Barack Obama could shoot Rush Limbaugh and he can’t be indicted. Barack Obama could shoot Paul Ryan and he couldn’t be indicted. You know what, Barack Obama could shoot George W. Bush and he couldn’t be indicted.’

“The reaction from Republicans and the media would be just mind-boggling.”  

During the Nixon administration, the Justice Department wrestled with the question: Is a sitting President immune from indictment and criminal prosecution?

Its Office of Legal Counsel determined that indicting and criminally prosecuting a President would interfere with his ability to carry out his constitutionally given duties.

And that has been its position since 1974. Although reaffirmed in the Clinton administration, it has never been tested in court.

What lies beyond doubt is this: For Republicans, actions that are perfectly justifiable for a Republican President are absolutely taboo for a Democratic one. 

  • Republicans accused Democrats of blocking Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, for the Supreme Court. Yet Obama’s nominee for the seat, Merrick Garland, is the only candidate in the history of the United States to be denied a hearing by the opposition—Republicans.
  • More than nine out of 10 Tea Partiers said they feared Obama’s policies were “moving the country toward socialism.” Yet Republicans overwhelmingly voted for a man—Trump—who has repeatedly praised Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and clearly has close ties with him. 
  • Republicans falsely accused Obama of creating “death panels” in the Affordable Care Act—yet have enthusiastically supported Trump’s efforts to destroy access to healthcare for more than 20 million Americans.
  • During the Republican-orchestrated government shutdown in October, 2013, Arizona state Representative Brenda Barton attacked Obama for closing Federal monuments: “Someone is paying the National Park Service thugs overtime for their efforts to carry out the order of De Fuhrer…where are our Constitutional Sheriffs who can revoke the Park Service Rangers authority to arrest???” 
  • In a June 10, 2012 tweet, Donald Trump wrote: “Why is @BarackObama constantly issuing executive orders that are major power grabs of authority?”   
  • “The problem with executive [orders], it’s really bad news for this reason,” Ohio Governor John Kasich said of Obama in February, 2016. “Since he’s given up on working with Congress, he thinks he can impose anything he wants. He’s not a king. He’s a president.”  

But Republicans who accused Obama of acting like a dictator haven’t objected to Trump’s “joking” that it would be “great” if the United States had a “President-for-Life”—like China. 

Nor have they objected to Trump’s flood of executive orders—65 in a year and a half. The inescapable message in all this: “Legitimacy is only for us—not for you.” 

Or, as Joe Scarborough put it: “This is really literally out of a tyrant’s playbook,”

TRUMP: INSULTS FOR AMERICA’S FRIENDS, HUGS FOR ITS ENEMIES

In Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on June 13, 2018 at 1:24 am

“He appeared to need enemies the way other men need friends, and his conduct assured that he would always have plenty of them.” 

So wrote William Manchester about General Douglas MacArthur in his monumental 1978 biography, American Caesar. But he could have written this just as accurately about Donald Trump, both as Republican Presidential candidate and President.

As a Presidential candidate, Trump repeatedly used Twitter to attack hundreds of real and imagined enemies in politics, journalism, TV and films.  

From June 15, 2015, when he launched his Presidential campaign, until October 24, 2016, Trump fired almost 4,000 angry, insulting tweets at 281 people and institutions that had somehow offended him.  

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Donald Trump

The New York Times needed two full pages of its print edition to showcase them. Among his targets:

  • Hillary Clinton
  • President Barack Obama
  • Actress Meryl Streep
  • Comedian John Oliver
  • Singer Neil Young
  • Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger 
  • News organizations
  • Beauty pageant contestants 

Others he clearly delighted in insulting during the campaign included:

  • Women
  • Blacks
  • Hispanics
  • Asians
  • The disabled
  • Prisoners-of-war 

As President, he has continued to insult virtually everyone, verbally and on Twitter. His targets have included Democrats, Republicans, the media, foreign leaders (most notably North Korea’s “Little Rocket Man” Kim Jong On) and even members of his Cabinet. 

The one major figure that Trump has never attacked is Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

But Trump has no such hesitation about insulting leaders of nations which have been America’s traditional allies—such as Canada. 

On June 10, Larry Kudlow, Trump’s chief economic adviser, accused Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of undermining the US and its allies with comments he made at the G7 economic summit in Quebec.

Related imageJustin Trudeau

The G7 is comprised of France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, the United States and Italy.

“It was a betrayal,” Kudlow accused Trudeau on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He really kind of stabbed us in the back.” 

Kudlow said the allies should have been more supportive of Trump because of his scheduled June 12 meeting in Singapore with North Korean dictator Kim Jong On.

“They should have said to him, ‘God speed, you are negotiating with the crazy nuclear tyrant in North Korea, and we are behind you.'” 

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Larry Kudlow

On June 9, the prime minister had said in a press conference that Canada would “move forward with retaliatory measures” on July 1. 

The reason for this: Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, the European Union and Mexico

“I have made it very clear to the President that it is not something we relish doing, but it something that we absolutely will do,” Trudeau said. “Canadians, we’re polite, we’re reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.” 

And Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, went further: “There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door.

“And that’s what bad faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference. That’s what weak, dishonest Justin Trudeau did, and that comes right from Air Force One.”  

Given the sheer brutality of the language, there’s no reason to doubt that Navarro was absolutely reflecting Trump’s own venomous anger.    

“He [Trump[ did him [Trudeau] a favor,” Navarro said. “He was even willing to sign that socialist communique.”

On June 10, Trump tweeted: “Based on Justin’s false statements at his news conference, and the fact that Canada is charging massive Tariffs to our U.S. farmers, workers and companies, I have instructed our U.S. Reps not to endorse the Communique as we look at Tariffs on automobiles flooding the U.S. Market!,” 

But while Trump has made clear his detestation of socialism, he has no qualms about rewarding the aggression of a hardcore Communist like Vladimir Putin. On June 9, he called for Russia to be readmitted to the G7.  

“I think it would be an asset to have Russia back in,” he said during an impromptu press conference at the summit.

“I think it would be good for the world. I think it would be good for Russia. I think it would be good for the United States. I think it would be good for all of the countries of the current G7. I think the G8 would be better.”  

Russia was ousted from the group in 2014 after Putin annexed Crimea—the first violation of a European country’s borders since World War II. 

“Today crystallizes precisely why Putin was so eager to see Trump elected,” said former Obama National Security Council spokesman Ned Price.

“For Putin, this is return on his investment, and it’s safe to say that his investment has paid off beyond even his wildest dreams,” he said in a statement to CNN.   

And, in a turn of events that some might call poetic justice, moments after he arrived in Singapore for his meeting with Kim Jong On, Trump tweeted: “Our Great Larry Kudlow, who has been working so hard on trade and the economy, has just suffered a heart attack. He is now in Walter Reed Medical Center.” 

“THE HAPPY TIME” FOR HITLER’S GERMANY AND TRUMP’S AMERICA

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on June 12, 2018 at 12:39 am

Everyone knows how World War II ended for Nazi Germany: With its Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, dead, and its capital city of Berlin in ruins.

Casualty figures range from 4.3 to 5.3 million dead Germans.

And for 44 years—from May 7, 1945, until November 9, 1989—Berlin was a divided city and Germany a divided nation. The Soviet Union ruled the eastern half. Germans—backed up by American military forces—ruled the western half.

Yet before all this unhappiness descended on the Fatherland, the vast majority of Germans enjoyed what they called “The Happy Time.”

This period began on January 30, 1933, when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor—and lasted until June 22, 1941.

For most Germans, those years—and especially the year between June, 1940, and June, 1941–were a time of prosperity and joy.

According to Robert Gellately’s 2002 landmark study, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany, the Nazis operated a highly popular dictatorship. They didn’t try to cow people into submission. Instead, they set out to win converts by building on popular images, cherished ideals and long-held phobias.

And their efforts succeeded. The Gestapo owed its fearsome success to ordinary German citizens who voluntarily reported on “enemies” within their midst. These citizens saw themselves as patriots.

Nor, as has long been believed, were Nazi atrocities carried out in secret. From the media, Germans learned about the Nazis’ brutal campaign against the Jews, the concentration camps, and the Nazis’ radical approaches to “law and order.”

But as far as everyday Germans were concerned:

  • The streets were clean and peaceful.
  • Employment was high.
  • The Communists and Jews were being locked up.
  • The trouble-making unions were gone.
  • Germany was once again “taking its rightful place” among ruling nations, after its catastrophic defeat in World War 1.

The height of “The Happy Time” came in June, 1940. In just six weeks, the Wehrmacht  accomplished what the German army hadn’t in four years during World War 1: The total defeat of its longtime enemy, France.

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Frenzied Germans greet Adolf Hitler

Suddenly, French clothes, perfumes, delicacies, paintings and other “fortunes of war” came pouring into the Fatherland.  (Reichsmarshall Herman Goring, head of the Luftwaffe—air force—amassed his own private air collection from French museums.) 

Most Germans believed der Krieg—“the war”—was over, and only good times lay ahead.

But Adolf Hitler had other plans.

On June 22, 1941, three million Wehrmacht soldiers slashed their way into the Soviet Union. The Third Reich was now locked in a death-struggle with a nation even more powerful than itself. 

German soldiers in the Soviet Union

And then, on December 11, 1941—four days after Germany’s ally, Japan, attacked Pearl Harbor—Hitler declared war on the United States. 

“The Happy Time” for Germans was over. Only prolonged disaster lay ahead. 

Now, fast forward 77 years to the America of President Donald J. Trump. According to an official White House statement entitled “American Greatness,” issued on June 4: 

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Donald Trump

“Nearly 3 million jobs have been created since President Trump took office. The unemployment rate has dropped to 3.8, the lowest rate since April 2000, and job openings have reached 6.6 million, the highest level recorded. President Trump has restored confidence in the American economy, with confidence among both consumers and businesses reaching historic highs.” 

Much of this jobs growth, however, was already underway during the closing years of the Obama administration. But that hasn’t stopped Trump from taking credit for it.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubtless spoke for millions of Trump supporters when she said, on June 4: “Since taking office, the President has strengthened American leadership, security, prosperity, and accountability. And as we saw from Friday’s jobs report, our economy is stronger, Americans are optimistic, and business is booming.

“The American people do not believe this strong economy is fantasy or unrealistic.” 

Many Congressional Republicans have echoed this: The American people care only about the economy—and how well-off they are.

Only five days earlier—on May 31—the Trump administration had announced it would put steel and aluminum tariffs on longtime American allies Canada, Mexico and the European Union (EU).

Mexico, Canada and the EU immediately vowed to retaliate. For Americans, this will mean higher prices on such items as beer, baseball bats and cars. The EU has threatened to impose tariffs on motorcycles, bourbon whiskey, Levi’s jeans, peanut butter and cranberries.

A disastrous global trade war could be the ultimate result.

On June 4, Trump claimed, in a tweet: “As has been stated by numerous legal scholars, I have the absolute right to PARDON myself….” 

And, making clear how far above the law he thinks Trump is, his attorney, Rudolph Giuliani, told the Huffington Post on June 3: “In no case can he be subpoenaed or indicted. I don’t know how you can indict while he’s in office. No matter what it is. 

“If he shot [former FBI director] James Comey, he’d be impeached the next day. Impeach him, and then you can do whatever you want to do to him.” 

The Germans made a similar devil’s-bargain with Hitler—and paid dearly for it. Americans, by supporting Trump—or at least not opposing him—have made a similar devil’s-bargain.

And such bargains always end with the devil winning.

THE EYE VERSUS THE HAND IN “TAKING A KNEE”

In Business, Entertainment, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on June 11, 2018 at 12:05 am

To understand the ongoing war between President Donald Trump and the National Football League, you need to first read a crucial passage in Niccolo Machiavelli’s classic work, The Prince

“…For men in general judge more by the eyes than by the hands, for every one can see, but very few have to feel.  Everyone sees what you appear to be, few feel what you are….”

What is taking place is a symbolic war—with football players literally “taking a knee” on one side and with Trump and his Republican minions symbolically waving the Stars and Stripes on the other.

For players, “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem before the start of a football game means protesting against racial injustice and police brutality aimed at blacks.   

For the Right, refusing to stand for “The Star Spangled Banner” is unpatriotic, perhaps bordering on treason. They claim it’s insulting to the military—and especially those soldiers who have died in America’s wars.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first took a knee on August 14, 2016. 

During the 49ers’ first game of the pre-season, Kaepernick sat on the bench during the National Anthem both then and in their next game.  

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Colin Kaepernick

On August 26, he did so again. The next day, he explained his reason for it: “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”  

The 49ers issued a statement: “We recognise the right of an individual to choose and participate, or not, in our celebration of the National Anthem.” 

On August 29, Trump—still a Presidential candidate—thrust himself into the budding controversy: “I think it’s personally not a good thing. I think it’s a terrible thing. And, you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try. It won’t happen.” 

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Donald Trump

One year later, on August 12, 2017, Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat for the anthem during preseason, on his first game back post-retirement. 

The next day, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett sat for the anthem. He gave as his reason the “Unite the Right” rally of white racists in Charlottesville, Virginia. 

On September 17, Trump—now President—told a rally in Alabama that refusing to sing the National Anthem showed “disrespect of our heritage. Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired.'” 

On September 23, Trump, on Twitter, called for NFL players who “disrespect our great American flag” to be fired. Later on in the day, he called for a boycott of the NFL. 

On September 24, infuriated by Trump’s insults, NFL players across the country linked arms, took a knee, or stayed in the changing room during the National Anthem. Every game featured some form of demonstration.

Washington Redskins Kneeling

By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Washington Redskins National Anthem Kneeling) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Since then, the confrontation between players “taking a knee” and Trump and his Right-wing shills has mushroomed. 

Yet these protests have not led one police department to change its “use-of-deadly-force” policies. Blacks are still getting shot by trigger-happy police, often when they’re unarmed and unresisting   

During 2017, there were 987 fatal police shootings; 223 blacks were shot and killed by police (23% of all fatal shootings), and 68 of the victims were unarmed. 

In the wake of the controversy, these shootings have been largely forgotten and it is the kneeling players who are getting the media’s attention

These players’ celebrity could be put to far better use by appearing before legislative committees urging reforms in police “use-of-deadly-force” policies.

Also ignored is that Trump, for all his boasts of patriotism, was a five-deferment draft dodger during the Vietnam war. Four deferments cited academic reasons and the fifth cited bone spurs—which usually result in small pointed outgrowths of bone—in his heels. 

But there is one more factor that overshadows both of these truths:  There is no reason to play “The Star Spangled Banner” at football games—or any other sports event

The song celebrates the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships in Baltimore Harbor during the War of 1812. Francis Scott Key, an amateur poet, witnessed the attack and was inspired the next morning when he saw the United States flag still flying triumphantly over the fort. 

Yet there is nothing inherently patriotic about attending any sports game:

  • The country isn’t being threatened.
  • No one is risking anything in its defense.
  • There are no casualties (save those suffered by athletes earning kingly salaries).
  • No one’s life is made any better by watching the game.

And “standing for the National Anthem” is an easy and safe way to present yourself as a patriot. American history is filled with men who “wrapped themselves in the flag” only to betray the Constitutional liberties of their fellow citizens.

This conflict of symbols arouses tempers, but otherwise achieves nothing.

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on June 8, 2018 at 12:10 am

And, on Facebook, the complaints just keep coming. [NOTE: The spellings are those of the complainants.]

  • FACEBOOK BETRAYED EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US ON HERE. SO MUCH SO THAT NOW WE HAVE AN IDIOT IN THE WHITE HOUSE AND IT’S YOUR FAULT YOU PUT HIM THERE. HOW DARE YOU TAKE 87 MILLION PEOPLE’S DATA, GIVE IT TO CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICS, WHO GAVE IT TO RUSSIA, WHO GAVE IT TO MANAFORT, WHICH MADE HILLARY LOSE AND TRUMP WIN. I HOPE THEY KICK YOUR ASS IN CONGRESS.
  • FACEBOOK STINKS. Despite being repeatedly told that your website is hacked all the time, you do nothing. Today, my girlfriend received a completely naked photo from a stranger, reported it, and you deemed it fine. This is not fine. It’s disgusting. You are a lousy, immoral company with no security or protection for your users. You STINK!You should have a minus ten, not one star.
  • total waste of time. I hate the way no can help you get access to your account but they will block the old account without contacting you.
  • FB News Feed now shows only posts from the same few people, about 25, and repeat the same, because Facebook has a new algorithm. Their system chooses the people to read one’s posts. However, I would like to choose for myself.
  • My husband’s account was hackef and he’s tried everything to get back into it and Absolutely NO HELP from Facebook to resolve this!! It has ALL of his family and friends blocked from his page including me!!

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  • FB Gestapo must be pushing fake news and stories.Every time I drop a link showing the claims are fake as a TV Preacher,FB notifies me my post has been marked as spam and they remove it.
  • I have tried to contact FB about missing fundraiser donations and cannot get a reply.
  • Tried to contact Facebook about something on one of the group sites and they never answered my complaint, now they have blocked the like button because I have pushed it too many times and now have put one of my comments to the spam. If they do not respond to my 2nd complaint, I will Be closing my Facebook account.
  • SICK OF ADVERTISMENTS FROM FACEBOOK IN MY NEWS FEED IM NOT FUKIN INTERESTED
  • I got blocked from posting videos and facebook live because I posted a video of me singing with the music video plating in the background… I would like to know why this happened…
  • TAKE ME OFF THE BEING BANNED LIST OF POSTING I AM NOT A FREAKING TERROIST
  • Reported a dozen times, and left phone msgs regarding a convicted Pedophile, child molester, registered on Megan’s Law website. Facebook will not do anything about it
  • YOU CANT GET ANYONE TO ANSWER I AM SO FRUSTRATED I GIVE UP ITS TERRIBLE

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  • Brian Haner has been reported for being offensive. He was informed this is his second strike. He has 70000 followers and people have the right to UNLIKE if they are offended. No one has the right to get someone BANNED for expressing an “offensive” opinion. If Brian is banned because some uppity person can conplain and have their ONE opinion outweight the other 69999 opinions then I for one will leave to google+ and I will take as many people as I can with me.
  • Complained about the marketing for Kary Oberbrummer self publishing book scheme that refuses to give you the costs up front. Facebook deleted all my comments and refuses to let me make anymore comments on the post. Just trying to warn people about the downside risk. Facebook censorship ! UNBELIEVABLE !
  • My Facebook page or rather account got all screwed up. It started logging me in on my original very first Facebook account, how in the world do I delete it? I have pushed deactivate until my face is blood red and I am extremely sick because after I push deactivate then it says your session with Facebook has ran out please login again and then of course it logs me back into the old account! I would appreciate it so very much if someone would please give me an answer that works.
  • They will not answer as to why I can not post anything for sale
  • Can’t seem to find a way to contact Facebook. Probably the way they want it. I’m getting very obnoxious friends requests that I would like to stop but don;t see a way to do it. Not likely to hang around much longer but then I don’t think they care.

The 1970 epic, “Patton,” closed with the words: “All glory is fleeting.” Mark Zuckerberg and his self-satisfied honchos at Facebook should realize that social networking websites can also be fleeting.

Anyone who doubts this need only sum up a few once well-known names:

  • Myspace
  • Google+
  • Friendster
  • Posterous
  • Yahoo Meme
  • SixDegrees
  • Classmates
  • Yahoo Buzz
  • Eons
  • iTunes Ping

Mark Zuckerberg needs to quickly install some serious reforms in Facebook. Otherwise, in time, his name will be added to those CEOs of other failed social networking sites.

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on June 7, 2018 at 12:18 am

Facebook is still the most-used social media platform in the world—with more than 2 billion users and a net worth of $500 billion.

But all is not well in Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet kingdom. And while he has chosen to ignore those evils plaguing Facebook, many of its users are infuriated by them.

So infuriated that many of them are threatening to move to other social media sites—such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Here is a sampling of complaints made directly to Facebook by its thoroughly enraged users. [NOTE: The spellings are those of the complainants.]

  • Stop soliciting me for boosts and adds. It is annoying spam, the kind you encourage people to block. But, of course, we can’t block it since it’s you. Trust me, if I was ever inclined in the least to give you additiobnal money for anything, you effectively killed that urge thousands of unwelcome posts and reminders ago. You make Instagram look better every day.
  • Same exact thing I went threw. 25 times they pulled my ad and 25 times I appealed it, not one time did I get a response. My ad was for dog training they said it didn’t meet Facebook policy because of animal sales, but in all 25 appeals, I explained, I’m not selling animals I’m selling a service. And I was even paying my own money to run the same ad on boost promo. They approved my ad for that and took my money, but can’t get my ad to run on a free market place.
  • I keep getting my post that I am selling fabric rejected and it won’t let me appeal it because there are no posts listed.. Says I violated a commerce policy. What does fabric violate? I got a message from FB today and all it shows it was closed. NO EXPLANATION
  • Hello, How do i reply to a message from you I have just had about a picture that I originally got off Facebook that is apparently now not allowed. I can’t delete it and if I try to answer it just buffers and is never sent.
  • I voiced my opinion on gaffneynites and just because the republicans can say what they want I was taken off that group, they said nothing to the people who were harassing me, and they could say what they wanted, I don’t think facebook is fair when it lets one side say whatever they want to and you can’t, this is discrimination in my opinion, I thought this was suppose to be America free speech

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  • Facebook must get their act together, People do have an opinion, and if you get in so called “facebook jail” for having that opinion, what is the point of having a social media site???? Come on Facebook, get with the 21st century..
  • I’m just trying to ask a question to a human and actually get a response. Not a list of 6 possible answers and asking if any of them were close enough to shut you up.
  • No way to contact Facebook – times outs, no connection, all sort of excuses when you are posting a claim, or a request for contact!!Facebook is charging me for something I didn’t authorized to run, an add. Many months ago I stopped running all adds I had posted – mainly because of the difficulty (impossibility?) of reaching you managers, or whomever is responsible for billings!!! YOU JUST HIDE YOUR SELVES, AND AFTER STARTING AN ADD, one has no way of stopping it, changing it, no feed back at all!! I will never post a add on Facebook again!!
  • Tried to contact fb to try and stop all these “friends requests” from all foreign people. Could not do, after all this bad publicity you would think they would be very wary.
  • I just tried to contact Facebook concerning my account with a number provided on the Website. The service representative was very helpful until I turned down the $49.00 fee to fix my problem. When I said that was not acceptable, he hung up on me ….

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  • Contacting them is impossible. They want you gone, and you are gone. No explanation, and I have never giving them these five stars;; they made that up.
  • it is very hard to find this contact method. it is totally impersonal. it allows for no dialogue. it seems to confirm that FB is too big for its own britches.
  • is there a way to contact facebook as getting a little peeved with the service and will not pay for any more ads while i am unable to contact them.
  • Never have a direct Help Desk to call…it appears as if You all are invisible.
  • you cannot contact facebook to report a fault! what good is that?
  • I CALLED 2 TIMES AND THEY WANT $100 SAY IT IS MY COMPUTER AND IT ISNT……..I Cant share and in jail almost 24/7. i was to be out at 12;20 yesterday…last time they did this and they restriction is over but still 3 more days!!!! idiots work here!!!!! never reply back either.
  • this is terrible, i have to use someone else account to even contact support.

FACEBOOK, WE’RE GLAD TO LEAVE YE: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on June 6, 2018 at 12:29 am

Facebook is in big trouble. And much of it stems from its own greed and arrogance toward its customers.

An email recently sent to Winnie Liu, director of Facebook & Instagram Research, offers several telling truths.

The recipient—a friend of mine named Dan—had just been put in “Facebook Jail” for somehow offending its “Community Standards” (i.e., censorship) department.

The actual offense, of course, was not outlined.  It never is.

When he tried to post something on Facebook, Dan got an automatic message: “You may have used Facebook in a way that our systems consider unusual, even if you didn’t mean to. You can post again in 24 hours.”

Notice the phrase: “You may have used Facebook in a way that our systems consider unusual.”

Well, did he or didn’t he commit an offense?  If he didn’t, he shouldn’t have been banned from posting on Facebook. If he did, then he should have the right to know, specifically, what it was he posted that “may have” been considered “unusual”.

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And what it is that “our systems consider unusual”? Did he defame someone? Post an obscene photo? Tell a joke that someone found offensive?

America’s criminal and civil justice systems are founded on specificity. If the police accuse you of robbing a bank, they need to have specific proof that you robbed it. Their merely saying “I think he’s a bank robber” isn’t evidence—and shouldn’t be counted as such.

Finally, if he “didn’t mean to” post something that Facebook’s “systems consider unusual,” then that should be a mitigating factor in itself.

Even in criminal law, room is made to distinguish intentional acts from unintentional ones, even when harm is caused.

So when Dan got an email from Facebook, inviting him to take part in an upcoming research survey, he decided to share his disgust with its blatant disregard for fairness:

  • “Although Facebook users like me have made its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, worth $52 billion, he’s unwilling to make it possible for those users to directly contact Facebook’s censorship department when they find themselves booted off Facebook. Or when they can’t log onto it. Or when they’re being billed for ads they never posted.
  • “Ideally, this should be done by phone. Certainly, with all the billions of advertising dollars Facebook rakes in, a comparatively small portion could be set aside to hire banks of phone operators to deal with situations like this.

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By aflcio2008 (NM: Jewell Hall, AFT and Martin Heinrich) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

  • “But if you’re not willing to do that, you could at least make it possible for frustrated users to contact Facebook via Instant Messaging.
  • “As it is, Facebook’s censorship department operates as prosecutor, jury and judge. Its decisions come out of the blue, and whoever is accused of violating your ‘Community Standards’ is automatically found guilty, with no right to appeal or even explain the situation as s/he saw it.
  • “These are the methods of a Star Chamber in a dictatorship. They are reprehensible to citizens of any free society. And Facebook should consider them equally reprehensible as affronts to free speech.
  • “There have been numerous reports that Facebook’s censorship department has been manipulated by Right-wing Trump supporters to remove posts they don’t like, even of those posts don’t actually violate Facebook’s “community standards.” I feel reasonably certain this is what happened in my case.
  • “Since Zuckerberg recently spent two days in Washington testifying before outraged Democrats, it isn’t in his—or Facebook’s—best interest that he be forced to account for such disgraceful manipulation.
  • “I have seen numerous complaints by Facebook members about being put in ‘Facebook Jail’ for even the most trivial ‘offenses.’ One of these is ‘liking’ too many posts.
  • “Others like myself have simply re-posted images or stories already posted on Facebook—and found themselves kicked off as a result.

“Last December I wrote Mark Zuckerman about these problems—and the dangers they represent for Facebook. Naturally, I didn’t receive even the courtesy of a reply. And it’s clear to me that he has no intention of making such reforms.

“So there’s really no point in your offering test respondents $75 apiece in Amazon gift cards. Since Facebook clearly refuses to address the issue that’s most outraging so many of its users—at least the ones I know—it can expect to see its audience continue to shrink.

“When I first got a computer in 1999, AOL was the ‘big dog on the block.’ No more. When a comedian now references AOL, it’s as a joke, to mock its now antiquated status.

“It’s unfortunate that some people—like those in charge of Facebook—stubbornly refuse to learn from history.”

Dan’s experience, however, is by no means rare. Nor is his high level of disgust with Facebook.

For some unknown reason, Facebook has chosen to publish many of its users’ opinions on their “Facebook experience.”

All that’s needed to access these opinions—which are almost entirely complaints—is to type “Contact Facebook” in the white subject bar in the upper left-hand corner of the page.

Parts Three and Four of this series will focus on those expressed views—and outrage.

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