bureaucracybusters

WHEN CRIMINALS FALL OUT, AMERICA WINS

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on March 23, 2022 at 12:12 am

In 1972, warfare erupted the between the two most powerful Mafia families of New York.

On one side: The Corleone Family, headed by “Don Vito” Corleone. On the other: The Barzini Family, whose boss was Emilio Barzini.

Moviegoers flooded theaters across the nation to make The Godfather the highest-grossing film of 1972—and, for a time, the highest-grossing film ever made.

The Godfather written on a black background in stylized white lettering, above it a hand holds puppet strings

Audiences rooted for the Corleones and thrilled whenever a Barzini “soldier” bit the concrete.  And they moaned when Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) was shot and wounded at an outdoor market and Sonny Corleone (James Caan) got riddled by machine guns on a New Jersey causeway.

Why did so many moviegoers feel compelled to side with the Corleones?

One reason was that, early in the film, Don Corleone rejects an offer by the Barzini Family to enter the narcotics-trafficking business.

When speaking with Virgil Sollotzzo, the Turkish drug kingpin backed by the Barzinis, Corleone says: “It’s true I have a lot of friends who are judges and politicians.  And they don’t mind if people want to gamble, or drink, or even pay for a woman.  But they wouldn’t be so friendly if they knew my business was drugs.” 

In short: He simply didn’t want to go to prison.

The other reason so many viewers identified with the Corleones lay in the brilliant casting of their members.

  • Marlon Brando—considered by many the greatest actor of his time—headed the cast.
  • Al Pacino, then an unknown, aroused sympathy as Michael, the Family outsider forced by the shooting of his father to become the Boss of All Bosses.
  • James Caan (as Sonny) is handsome and the defender of his brutalized sister, Connie, against her abusive husband, Carlo Rizzi.
  • John Cazale (as Fredo) is riddled with insecurities and not very bright, won the audiences’ sympathy by his sheer helplessness when compared to his ruthless siblings.

Yet the Corleones—for all their homilies about “honor” and “loyalty”—were every bit as greedy and lethal as their Mafia competitors. They just played the game more ruthlessly—and successfully.

All of which brings us to the current Mafia-like struggle between former President Donald Trump and most of the Republican party.

On February 26, two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, Trump said: “The problem is not that Putin is smart, which of course he’s smart, but the real problem is that our leaders are dumb.” 

Related image

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin press conference

Trump has often told aides that Putin is “a brilliant strategist, and really tough, and really smart and savvy,” and that President Joe “Biden is not up for it.” 

As President, Trump had

  • Derided the value of NATO and traditional global security alliances;
  • Lavishly praised Communist tyrants such as Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and North Korea’s Kim Jon-Un;
  • Threatened to withhold $400 million in aid to Ukraine unless its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, manufactured “dirt” on 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who had had business dealings in Ukraine; and
  • Publicly took Putin’s word over that of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency that Russia had intervened in the 2016 Presidential race.

And House and Senate Republicans had repeatedly backed him up—even refusing to impeach him on February 5, 2020, for his attempted extortion of Zelensky.

But now Republicans are singing a different tune.

Former vice president Mike Pence, while refusing to criticize Trump, attacked Putin on Fox News. Through his longtime chief of staff, Marc Short, he said: “No one in the GOP should be praising Vladimir Putin. He’s a former KGB officer and a dictator and a thug. We should be clear about that.”

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Mike Pence

“Number one, the Republican Party is going to rally around the idea that Putin is a thug and a crook,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in an interview. “I have no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Republican senators see what’s happening to Ukraine is detrimental to our national security and well-being.”

“He’s a thug. He’s a killer,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “He’s been on the rampage and this will not end well for him.”

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has confronted Republicans with a series of unpleasant truths:

  • Dictators are enemies of democracy—and cannot be appeased.
  • NATO—which Trump dismissed as “obsolete”—is flexing its strength in response to Russia’s aggression.
  • Despite the wishes of isolationists, the United States can’t ignore the world’s problems. 

With polls showing that Americans overwhelmingly oppose Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, Republicans face a stark choice:

  • Side with their continuing leader, Donald Trump, who has sucked up to Communist dictators since 2015, or
  • Face the wrath of voters outraged by Russian barbarities against a helpless Ukraine. 

Several Republicans—such as Pence—have attacked Putin without mentioning Trump. But Trump’s embrace of Putin has been so fervent for so long that any attack on Putin must be seen as a repudiation of Trump.

Which, in turn, risks Trump’s calling down the wrath of his millions of followers on those who look to him as the Once and Future “President-for-Life.”

When predatory Mafiosi wipe each other out, honest citizens win. When Fascistic Republicans wage war on each other, democracy wins.

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