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Archive for August, 2022|Monthly archive page

TAKING BACK OUR BORDERS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 5, 2022 at 12:10 am

If Americans decide they truly want to control access to their own borders, there is a realistic way to accomplish this.  

And it doesn’t involve building a wall along the Mexican border—which would prove ridiculously expensive and easily circumvented.

(1) The Justice Department should vigorously attack the “sanctuary movement” that officially thwarts the immigration laws of the United States.

Among the 31 “sanctuary cities” of this country: Washington, D.C.; New York City; Los Angeles; Chicago; San Francisco; Santa Ana; San Diego; Salt Lake City; Phoenix; Dallas; Houston; Austin; Detroit; Jersey City; Minneapolis; Miami; Denver; Baltimore; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; New Haven, Connecticut; and Portland, Maine.

These cities have adopted “sanctuary” ordinances that do not allow municipal funds or resources to be used to enforce federal immigration laws, usually by not allowing police or municipal employees to inquire about one’s immigration status.

(2) The most effective way to combat this movement: Indict the highest-ranking officials of those cities which have actively violated Federal immigration laws.

In San Francisco, for example, former District Attorney Kamala Harris—who is now Vice President of the United States—created a secret program called Back on Track, which provided training for jobs that illegal aliens could not legally hold.

She also prevented Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from deporting even those illegal aliens convicted of a felony.

(3) Indicting such officials would be comparable to the way that President Andres Jackson dealt with the threat South Carolinians once made to “nullify”—or ignore—any Federal laws they didn’t like.

Jackson quashed that threat by making one of his own: To lead an army into that State and purge all who dared defy the laws of the Federal Government.

(4) Even if some indicted officials escaped conviction, the results would prove worthwhile. 

City officials would be forced to spend huge sums of their own money for attorneys and face months or even years of prosecution.

And this, in turn, would send a devastating warning to officials in other “sanctuary cities” that the same fate lies in store for them.

(5) CEOs whose companies—like Wal-Mart—systematically employ illegal aliens should be held directly accountable for the actions of their subordinates.

They should be indicted by the Justice Department under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the way Mafia bosses are prosecuted for ordering their own subordinates to commit crimes.

Upon conviction, the CEO should be sentenced to a mandatory prison term of at least twenty years.

This would prove a more effective remedy for combating illegal immigration than stationing tens of thousands of soldiers on the U.S./Mexican border. CEOs forced to account for their subordinates’ actions would take drastic steps to ensure that their companies strictly complied with Federal immigration laws.

Without employers luring illegal aliens at a fraction of the money paid to American workers, the flood of such illegal job-seekers would quickly dry up.

(6) The Government should stop granting automatic citizenship to “anchor babies” born to illegal aliens in the United States.

A comparable practice would be allowing bank robbers who had eluded the FBI to keep their illegally-obtained loot.

A person who violates the bank robbery laws of the United States is legally prosecutable for bank robbery, whether he’s immediately arrested or remains uncaught for years. The same should be true for those born illegally within this country.

If they’re not here legally at the time of birth, they should not be considered citizens and should—like their parents—be subject to deportation.

(7) The United States Government—from the President on down—should stop apologizing for the right to control the country’s national borders.

The Mexican Government doesn’t hesitate to apply strict laws to those immigrating to Mexico. And it feels no need to apologize for this.

Neither should we.

(8) Voting materials and ballots should be published in one language—English. 

In Mexico, voting materials are published in one language—Spanish.

Throughout the United States, millions of Mexican illegals refuse to learn English and yet demand that voting materials and ballots be made available to them in Spanish.

(9) Those who are not legal citizens of the United States should not be allowed to vote in its elections.

In Mexico, those who are not Mexican citizens are not allowed to participate in the country’s elections. 

The Mexican Government doesn’t consider itself racist for strictly enforcing its immigration laws.

The United States Government should not consider itself racist for insisting on the right to do the same.

(10) The United States should impose economic and even military sanctions against countries—such as China and Mexico—whose citizens make up the bulk of illegal aliens. 

The Mexican government well remembers the 10-year Mexican Revolution (1910 – 1920) starring Francisco “Pancho” Villa, Emiliano Zapata and a host of other equally ruthless killers—and the one million dead men, women and children it produced.

So Mexico uses its American border to rid itself of those who might demand major reforms in the country’s political and economic institutions. 

Such nations must learn that dumping their unwanteds on the United States now comes at an unaffordably high price.  Otherwise those dumpings will continue.

STANDING UP TO FASCISM

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on August 4, 2022 at 12:10 am

The July 29 edition of The PBS Newshour offered a clear lesson on why so many liberals are unable to cope with a weaponized—and Fascistic—Republican party.

It came during an exchange between conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post associate editor Jonathan Capehart .

Judy Woodruff, moderating the weekly “Politics Friday” segment, opened: 

“Well, one of the measures that has hit a bump in the road after this deal emerged was a piece of — it’s called the PACT Act. It’s all about providing government aid to American military veterans who were exposed to toxic substances, toxic chemicals in the war in Iraq and wounded, and eventually — I mean, these are — these were veterans who came home with serious medical problems.

“This looked like it was on the way to passage. It’s now Republicans in the Senate in particular saying, wait a minute. And it’s caused a lot of reaction. Jon Stewart, the former late-night talk show host — he’s now an activist — this is what he had to say just outside the Capitol yesterday”:

Jon Stewart, Comedian/Activist: “These people thought they could finally breathe. You think their struggles end because the PACT Act passes? All it means is, they don’t have to decide between their cancer drugs and their house. Their struggle continues. These people will not give up, they will not give in and they will not relent.

Jon Stewart MFF 2016.jpg

Jon Stewart

“This is an embarrassment to the Senate, to the country, to the founders, and all that they profess to hold dear. “

Judy Woodruff: “He….used much stronger language than that in going after the Republicans, Pat Toomey and others, who are — who he says are holding this up.

“What about this argument he’s making, that, essentially, they said yes, and now they’re saying no, and it’s just….”

David Brooks: “Yes. Well, it’s — let’s say, at best, it’s a mystery. At worst, it’s mind-boggling. The mystery is, just a month ago, the vast majority of Republican senators voted for this thing. And then I think 25 or some large, significant numbers shift and now, suddenly, they’re against it. Is it payback for what Manchin — for what Manchin and Schumer did?”

Shields and Brooks on Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis and the debate | PBS NewsHour

David Brooks

And what was it that Democratic West Virginia Senator Joseph Manchin and Democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer did? 

As summed up by Woodruff: “When we were last together last Friday, we all thought that the President’s budget was dead, the package with climate and health care in it. Little did we know that Joe Manchin was having these secret talks with Chuck Schumer.”

But then Manchin decided—for still-unclosed reasons—to back the Democrats’ budgetary bill. And that’s when Republicans decided that helping wounded veterans would be helping President Joseph Biden. And that’s when 25 Republicans who had previously backed the PACT Act changed their minds—and votes.

David Brooks couldn’t imagine that Republicans could be so cruel: “It — that would be mind-boggling. You have got men and women who served this country suffering from cancer and other ailments, and we’re going to take away benefits because of a legislative pique? Who does that?

“[Republican Pennsylvania United States Senator] Pat Toomey, I think, has some principal reasons having to do with budget policy and what we can afford. That’s one thing.

“But if the votes were changed because Mitch McConnell said, we need to screw somebody, that would just be appalling.”

Jonathan Caphart: “And Senator Toomey’s arcane problem was that funding was being moved from discretionary within the bill to mandatory. And he was calling it a budget gimmick.

“But you know who doesn’t care whether it’s a budget gimmick? It’s those families that Jon Stewart was talking about. It’s the….veterans who worked in those burn pits and are suffering with the ailments. It’s the families of those veterans who are sick and/or have died.”

PBS NewsHour | Brooks and Capehart on voting and gun violence legislation | Season 2021 | PBS

Jonathan Capehart

But on August 2, Republicans caved, in a vote of 86-11.

The reason: Jon Stewart kept the public pressure on. And so did more than 60 veterans groups. Many of the veterans had camped on the Senate steps, braving heat, humidity and thunderstorms. 

As a result, veterans will receive expanded lifesaving health care benefits for those exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan.

From this Democratic liberals—and Americans generally—should draw two lessons:

Lesson #1: Republicans are evil. They will viciously hurt anyone—including those constituents (such as veterans) they claim to care about if they believe it will hurt Democrats. What they do care about is gaining—and maintaining—absolute power over Americans.

Lesson #2: Trying to compromise with Republicans is not only useless but dangerous. They regard any effort at compromise as a sign of weakness. The same was true for the Nazis during the reign of Adolf Hitler (1933 – 1945).

The appeasement efforts of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to prevent World War II not only led to the destruction of Czechoslovakia but whetted Hitler’s appetite for further conquest—resulting in World War II.

In short: Standing up to Fascism saved the United States during World War II. It can do the same for the United States today.

TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT COPS AND DRUGS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Social commentary on August 3, 2022 at 12:16 am

It’s a movie that appeared in 1981—making it, for those born in 2000, an oldie. 

And it wasn’t a blockbuster, being yanked out of theaters almost as soon as it arrived. 

Yet Prince of the City remains that rarity—a movie about big-city police that:

  • Tells a dramatic (and true) story; and
  • Offers serious truths about how police and prosecutors really operate. 

It’s based on the real-life case of NYPD Detective Robert Leuci (“Danny Ciello” in the film). 

Robert Leuci (“Danny Ciello” in “Prince of the City”)

A member of the elite Special Investigating Unit (SIU) Ciello (played by Treat Williams) volunteers to work undercover against rampant corruption among narcotics agents, attorneys and bail bondsmen. 

His motive appears simple: To redeem himself and the NYPD from the corruption he sees everywhere: “These people we take from own us.” 

His only condition: “I will never betray cops who’ve been my partners.” 

And Assistant US Attorney Rick Cappalino assures Ciello: “We’ll never make you do something you can’t live with.” 

As the almost three-hour movie unfolds, Ciello finds—to his growing dismay—that there are a great many things he will have to live with. 

Treat Williams as “Danny Ciello”

Although he doesn’t have a hand in it, he’s appalled to learn that Gino Moscone, a former buddy, is going to be arrested for taking bribes from drug dealers. 

Confronted by a high-ranking agent for the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency, Moscone refuses to “rat out” his buddies. Instead, he puts his service revolver to his head and blows out his brains.  

Ciello is devastated, but the investigation—and film—must go on. 

Along the way, he’s suspected by a corrupt cop and bail bondsman of being a “rat” and threatened with death. 

He’s about to be wasted in a back alley when his cousin—a Mafia member—suddenly intervenes. The Mafioso tells Ciello’s would-be killers: “You’d better be sure he’s a rat, because people like him.”

At which point, the grotesquely fat bail bondsman—who has been demanding Ciello’s execution—pats Danny on the arm and says, “No hard feelings.”

It’s director Sidney Lumet’s way of graphically saying: “Sometimes the bad guys can be good guys—and the good guys can be bad guys.”

Prince Of The City folded.jpg

Lumet makes it clear that police don’t always operate with the Godlike perfection of cops in TV and films. It’s precisely because his Federal backup agents lost him that Ciello almost became a casualty.  

In the end, Ciello becomes a victim of the prosecutorial forces he has unleashed. Although he’s vowed to never testify against his former partners, Ciello finds this is a promise he can’t keep.

Too many of the cops he’s responsible for indicting have implicated him of similar—if not worse—behavior. He’s even suspected of being involved in the theft of 450 pounds of heroin (“the French Connection”) from the police property room.

A sympathetic prosecutor—Mario Vincente in the movie, Rudolph Giuliani in real-life—convinces Ciello that he must finally reveal everything he knows.

Ciello’s had originally claimed to have done “three things” as a corrupt narcotics agent. By the time his true confessions are over, he’s admitted to scores of felonies.

Ciello then tries to convince his longtime SIU partners to do the same. One of them commits suicide.  Another tells Ciello to screw himself:  “I’m not going to shoot myself and I’m not going to become a rat.”

To his surprise, Ciello finds himself admiring his corrupt former partner for being willing to stand up to the Federal case-agents and prosecutors demanding his head.

The movie ends with a double dose of irony.

First: Armed with Ciello’s confessions, an attorney whom Ciello had successfully testified against appeals his conviction. But the judge rules Ciello’s admitted misdeeds to be “collateral,” apart from the main evidence in the case, and affirms the conviction.

Second: Ciello is himself placed on trial—of a sort. A large group of assistant U.S. attorneys gathers to debate whether their prize “canary” should be indicted. If he is, his confessions will ensure his conviction.

Some prosecutors argue forcefully that Ciello is a corrupt law enforcement officer who has admitted to more than 40 cases of perjury—among other crimes. How can the government use him to convict others and not address the criminality in his own past?

Other prosecutors argue that Ciello voluntarily risked his life—physically and professionally—to expose rampant police corruption. He deserves a better deal than to be cast aside by those who have made so many cases through his testimony.

Eventually, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York makes his decision: “The government declines to prosecute Detective Daniel Ciello.”

It is Lumet’s way of showing that the decision to prosecute is not always an easy or objective one.

The movie ends with Ciello now teaching surveillance classes at the NYPD Academy. 

A student asks: “Are you the Detective Ciello?”

“I’m Detective Ciello.”

“I don’t think I have anything to learn from you.”  And he walks out.

Is Danny Ciello a hero, a villain, or some combination of the two?

On this ambiguous note that the film ends—an ambiguity that each viewer must resolve for himself.

VIRUS AND VIOLENCE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on August 2, 2022 at 12:30 am

On July 23, 2021, Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene found something to celebrate in Alabama.

Alabama had the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rate of any state in the nation. 

Days later, Alabama’s health leader said officials had tossed out more than 65,000 coronavirus vaccines that expired. They had expired due to low demand. 

And that low demand had resulted from Right-wingers’ politicization of the virus.

But that wasn’t enough to satisfy Greene. 

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene official photo, 117th Congress (cropped).jpg

Marjorie Taylor Greene

“Well, what they don’t know is that in the South we all love our Second Amendment rights. And we’re not real big on strangers showing up at our front door, are we? They might not like the welcome they get.”

In short: People should shoot volunteers promoting coronavirus vaccines through door-to-door outreach.

Her audience—at the Alabama Federation of Republican Women fundraiser—applauded and laughed at the idea of such murders.

Naturally, through her spokesman, Nick Dyer, Greene denied that she suggested people shoot those promoting vaccines.

“Your colleagues in the fake news are making things up and attributing things to her that she did not say,” he wrote in an email.

This despite the fact that Greene’s words had been captured in a video—and countless people had seen it after it was shared on the Internet.

When asked if Greene herself was vaccinated, Dyer refused to answer. 

“It really gets at the heart of the public’s trust in our government and the messaging around solid public health measures based on the science,” said Lori Tremmel Freeman, CEO of the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

“Our local health officials who are working on the ground are not political. They are completely apolitical,” she told CNN.

She added that Greene’s comments were “disheartening and distressing.”

“Outrageous and violence-encouraging” would have been a more accurate description. 

Greene’s comments demonstrate the twin pillars of Right-wing orthodoxy toward COVID-19: 

  1. Ignorance and
  2. Violence.

Donald Trump, as President, vividly personified both.

The apex of his embrace of violence came on January 6, 2021, when he refused to permit an orderly transition from one administration to another.

Instead, he incited a mob of his fanatical followers to attack members of Congress who were about to count the Electoral College votes cast for the 2020 Presidential election.

Melania Trump 'disappointed' by Trump supporters' Capitol riot - ABC7 Chicago

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

Trump had lost that election: 81,255,933 votes had gone to former Vice President Joseph Biden, as opposed to 74,196,153 votes for himself.

Yet even before embracing that final grotesque moment of infamy, Trump had been responsible for the deaths of 400,000 Americans. 

The COVID-19 catastrophe slammed into the United States in January, 2020. It was the inevitable result of a natural disaster colliding with an evil and incompetent administration.

Trump’s “cures” for COVID-19 included

  • Denial;
  • Lies;
  • Republican subservience;
  • Chaos;
  • Extortion;
  • Propaganda as news;
  • Quackery as medicine;
  • Demands to “re-open the country”;
  • Ignoring the danger; and—finally—
  • Resignation (“Learn to live with it”)

Early on, Trump made the virus a referendum on himself. If you supported him, you didn’t wear a mask when you ventured out in public. This despite the fact that, throughout 2020, there was no vaccine available and hospitals were rapidly overwhelmed by debilitated and dying casualties of the virus.

“I think, once Donald Trump and other Republicans made it a manhood issue, or a freedom issue, or whatever kind of issue they made it, it’s hard to walk back that culture war signal,” said conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks on the PBS Newshour on July 23, 2021.

Washington Post Columnist Jonathan Capehart echoed him: “I think, if we had had a president of the United States who took this seriously when this first came on the scene, if we had a Republican party that took this seriously enough to warn everyone, their constituents saying, wash your hands, then put on a mask, then go get the vaccine, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”

PBS NewsHour | Brooks and Capehart on voting and gun violence legislation | Season 2021 | PBS

Jonathan Capehart

But neither Trump nor the Republican party urged Americans to “wash your hands, put on a mask, then go get the vaccine.” 

By March, 2021, three vaccines—by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—became available. A total of 90.4 million doses of these vaccines had been given. And 30.7 million Americans had been fully vaccinated against the virus. 

But after a triumphant beginning, the pace of vaccinations slowed, then halted. By late July, 2021, only 49.6% of Americans had been fully vaccinated.

Covid-19 Vaccination Map of USA.png

COVID-19 vaccination map – July 21, 2021

George Karabassis, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of those who had gotten one shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines refused to get the necessary second one. These must be given almost a month apart.

(The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot.)

And leading the way to this catastrophe of self-destruction were the states of the South and Midwest: Mississippi (47.1%,), Alabama (50.5%), Arkansas (53.2%), and Tennessee (52.9%) with the lowest rates of residents who have gotten at least one shot.

By late July, 2021, three states—Florida, Texas and Missouri—with lower vaccination rates accounted for 40% of all cases nationwide.

And colliding head-on with the refusals of millions to get vaccinated was the newer—and deadlier—Delta variant of COVID-19. 

By July 27, 2022, there were 90.8 million COVID-19 cases in the United States—and 1.03 million deaths.

AMERICA NEEDS TO MIND ITS OWN BUSINESS

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 1, 2022 at 12:10 am

“When trouble comes up anywhere in the world, they don’t call Beijing. They don’t call Moscow. They call us.”

So spoke President Barack Obama on the September 28, 2014 edition of 60 Minutes.

And, according to former CIA agent Michael Scheuer, that’s the problem: America can’t learn to mind its own business.

Scheuer is a 20-year CIA veteran—as well as an author, historian, foreign policy critic and political analyst.

Michael Scheuer

From 1996 to 1999 he headed Alec Station, the CIA’s unit assigned to track Osama bin Laden at the agency’s Counterterrorism Center.

He has served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Peace and Security Studies.

He is best-known as the author of two seminal works on America’s fight against terrorism: Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror (2003) and Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam after Iraq (2008).

Scheuer says that Islamics don’t hate Americans because of “our way of life”—with its freedoms of speech and worship and its highly secular, commercialized culture.

Instead, Islamic hatred toward the United States stems from America’s six longstanding policies in the Middle East:

  • U.S. support for apostate, corrupt, and tyrannical Muslim governments
  • U.S. and other Western troops on the Arabian Peninsula
  • U.S. support for Israel that keeps Palestinians in the Israelis’ thrall
  • U.S. pressure on Arab energy producers to keep oil prices low
  • U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan
  • U.S. support for Russia, India, and China against their Muslim militants

Scheuer contends that no amount of American propaganda will win “the hearts and minds” of Islamics who can “see, hear, experience, and hate” these policies firsthand.

But there is another danger facing America, says Scheuer, one that threatens “the core of our social and civil institutions.”

And in Marching Toward Hell he bluntly indicts that threat: The “profound and willful ignorance” of America’s “bipartisan governing elite.”

Scheuer defines this elite as “the inbred set of individuals who have influenced…drafted and conducted U.S. foreign policy” since 1973.

Within that group are:

  • politicians
  • journalists
  • academics
  • preachers
  • civil servants
  • military officers
  • philanthropists.

“Some are Republicans, others Democrats; some are evangelicals, others atheists; some are militarists, others pacifists; some are purveyors of Western civilization, others are multiculturalists,” writes Scheuer.

But for all their political and/or philosophical differences, the members of this governing elite share one belief in common.

According to Scheuer, that belief is “an unquenchable ardor to have the United States intervene in all places, situations and times.”

And he warns that this “bipartisan governing elite” must radically change its policies—such as unconditional support for Israel and corrupt, tyrannical Muslim governments.

Otherwise, Americans will be locked in an endless “hot war” with the Islamic world.

During his September 28, 2014 appearance on 60 Minutes, President Obama admitted that the mostly Sunni-Muslim Iraqi army had refused to combat the Sunni army of ISIS.

Then followed this exchange: 

Steve Kroft: What happens if the Iraqis don’t fight or can’t fight? 

President Obama: Well….

Steve Kroft: What’s the end game?  

President Obama:  I’m not going to speculate on failure at the moment. We’re just getting started. Let’s see how they do.

It was precisely such a mindset that led the United States, step by step, into the Vietnam quagmire.

In the Middle East, as in Vietnam, the United States lacked:

  • Real or worthwhile allies in Iraq or Syria;
  • A working knowledge of the peoples it wants to influence in either country;
  • Clearly-defined goals that it seeks to accomplish in that region.

America rushed to disaster in Vietnam because its foreign policy elite felt it had to “do something” to fight Communism anywhere in the world.

Now Americans—in and out of government—feel they must “do something” to stop the routine carnage that is life throughout the Middle East.

In December, 2012, Kayla Mueller, an idealistic 24-year-old American woman, arrived in Syria to assist Syrians caught up in their own civil war. And on August 4, 2013, she was kidnapped and held for ransom.

In 2015, she was killed—whether by her terrorist kidnappers or Jordanian airstrikes remains unclear.

On February 23, 2015, Carl Mueller appeared on the “Today” show, to protest the refusal of the United States Government to pay ransom demands to her terrorist kidnappers. 

“How many mistakes have we all made in life that were naïve and didn’t get caught at? Kayla was just in a place that was more dangerous than most. And she couldn’t help herself. She had to go in there and had to help.” 

But did she?

Is: "Ostaggio Usa Kayla Mueller uccisa in raid aereo giordano" - la Repubblica

Kayla Mueller

There were thousands of communities within the United States desperate for the help of a caring social activist. And thousands of organizations—such as Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Habitat for Humanity and Catholic Relief Services—that would have been thrilled to enlist her services.

And she could have made lives better without constantly facing the dangers of kidnapping by Islamics determined to humiliate and slaughter Americans.

Michael Sheuer is right: The United States should learn to mind its own business and quit intervening in the affairs of Middle Eastern governments and peoples. 

Kayla Mueller is proof of the rightness of that assertion.

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