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REPUBLICANS: TAKING A PAGE FROM THE NAZIS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 1, 2020 at 12:21 am

On June 22, 1941, German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler sent three million soldiers smashing into the Soviet Union. During the first six months—June to December, 1941—German armies lured huge Soviet forces into gigantic “cauldron battles,” surrounding and exterminating them. 

An estimated 5.7 million prisoners of war (POWs) fell into German hands. The Germans found themselves surprised and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of them. But their mandate demanded that they keep marching forward—ever forward.

So they simply imprisoned their captives behind barbed wire and wasted no food or medical care on them. Between starvation, illness and the brutal Russian cold, at least 3.5 million POWs died in custody.

Soviet prisoners of war behind barbed wire at Falstad Camp May 8th 1945. The picture is probably taken after the Norwegian prisoners left the camp. (Photographer: Unknown / The Falstad Centre)

Soviet POW’s

Republicans have learned a serious lesson from this. If you simply deprive those you detest of food, clothing and shelter, you don’t need gas chambers or firing squads.

That has been their chief reason for opposing Social Security since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law in 1935.

That is why they opposed President Lyndon B. Johnson when he pushed Medicare through Congress in 1965.

And that is why they have fervently tried to overturn the Affordable Care Act—better known as Obamacare—since it went into effect in 2010.

Of course, Republicans will never admit this. Their mantra has always been they fear such programs will bankrupt the country.

That claim might have credibility—if they didn’t recklessly plunge into budget-busting wars like the 2003 Iraq war started by President George W. Bush. Not a single Republican opposed this needless, bloody conflict—which has cost the United States more than $1.1 trillion.

But the best evidence of Republicans’ desire to use illness as a weapon against those Americans they hate comes from President Donald J. Trump. 

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

On March 26, during an interview on Fox News, Trump blamed the failures of his administration’s response to Coronavirus on Democratic state governors like Andrew Cuomo (NY), Jay Inslee (WA), and Gretchen Whitmer (MI).

On March 27, during his press briefing, Trump said he told Vice President Mike Pence—who’s officially in charge of the White House’s response effort—to not call Inslee and Whitmer because they weren’t “appreciative” enough of his efforts.

Trump said this even as hospitals in each of their states were being overwhelmed with Coronavirus patients.

“I tell him—I mean I’m a different type of person— I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor in Washington, you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan,’” Trump said. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”

Trump said that when people criticized him, they were criticizing the federal government: “When they’re not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps, they’re not appreciative to FEMA.  It’s not right.”

Trump also attacked Whitmer on Right-wing Fox News’ “Sean Hannity Show”: “I don’t know if she knows what’s going on, but all she does is sit there and blame the federal government.”

That same day—March 27—Whitmer told a Michigan radio station: “What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts—they’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan. It’s really concerning. I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg

Gretchen Whitmer

Julia Pickett / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

A March 29 story in the Washington Monthly sheds light on what lay behind Whitmer’s inability to secure desperately-needed ventilators from her longtime vendors. Its headline ran: “What If Trump Decides to Save Republicans But Not Democrats?”

And it was followed by a sub-headline: “He’s providing vital resources to red states and ignoring blue states.”

Florida submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency  on March 11 for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, 82,000 face shields and 238,000 gloves—and received a shipment with everything three days later.

It received an identical shipment on March 23, and is awaiting a third.

In 2019, Trump demanded a “favor” from the embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—“dirt” on Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden—in return for releasing military aid Ukraine needed to combat an increasingly aggressive Russia.

Now he is apparently demanding Democratic governors praise him and blame themselves if they want their citizens to receive desperately-needed medical supplies.

On Fox News, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, bluntly told governors: “Take the blame when you have to. When you play with your boss, sometimes it’s better when you don’t win the golf game. He’s the boss, he’s got all the resources.” 

This is precisely the dictatorial arrogance of which Republicans falsely accused President Barack Obama.

The Washington Monthly story concludes on an ominous note: “What if the White House simply gives all the masks and ventilators to red states and counties, leaving blue ones to struggle? What mechanisms of accountability are left?

“U.S. democracy wasn’t set up to deal with a president openly behaving like a James Bond villain while being protected by a political party behaving more like a mafia than a civic institution.”

AMERICA’S WEALTH CLUB: “GO TO WORK–AND DIE FOR ME”

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on March 31, 2020 at 12:09 am

“Capitalism Kills” could have been a headline in Pravda, the official “newspaper” of the former Soviet Union.

Instead, it’s billionaires themselves who are responsible for such a sentiment. They are doing their level best to persuade workers: “I regret that I have only one life to give for my CEO.”

Richard Kovacevich is the former CEO of Norwest Bank (1966 – 1998) and Wells Fargo (1998 – 2007). He wants healthy people under age 55 to return to work in late April if the outbreak is contained enough.

There are two major problems with this:

  1. There aren’t enough test kits to screen everyone for possible signs of the Coronavirus.
  2. Many of those who carry the virus show no signs of infection.

“We’ll gradually bring those people back and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die. I don’t know,” said Kovacevich.

He might just as well have added: “I don’t care.”

I think Trump is wrong on rates, we need to get to neutral, says ...

“Do you want to suffer more economically or take some risk that you’ll get flu-like symptoms and a flu-like experience? Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose.”

If President Donald Trump gets to choose, the nationwide social distancing practices that health professionals say are essential to saving lives during the Coronavirus outbreak will end on April 30.

He originally chose Easter as a pretext for doing this: “You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time.”

The real reason: He wants to return to return to holding his mass public rallies—which some have compared to the Nuremberg rallies hosted by Adolf Hitler. There he can spew hatred at everyone he dislikes and bask in the worshipful glow of his fanatical base.

Fortunately, the rising tide of COVID-19 cases forced him to abandon his original April 12 date. 

And many highly-paid executives in American corporations are itching to put their employees back at work—and on the Coronavirus firing line. 

“The damages of keeping the economy closed as it is could be worse than losing a few more people,” Tom Golisano, the founder and chairman of the payroll processor Paychex Inc. told Bloomberg. “I have a very large concern that if businesses keep going along the way they’re going then so many of them will have to fold.” 

Forbes estimates Golisano’s net worth to be $3 billion.  

Like Richard Kovacevich, he wants states that haven’t been hit hard by the virus to return to normalcy.

Tom Golisano.JPG

Tom Golisano

Penale52 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Lloyd Blankfein, the former head of Goldman Sachs, wrote on Twitter: “Crushing the economy, jobs and morale is also a health issue—and beyond. Within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work.”

There’s no question that keeping businesses closed across the country—as scientists and health professionals are urging—will inflict large-scale economic damage.

But rushing people back to work would prolong the outbreak and overwhelm the healthcare system. And it would certainly increase—perhaps exponentially—the number of dead and infected casualties of the pandemic. Economists from Northwestern University calculated that keeping social distancing practices in place until cases decline could save 600,000 lives nationwide.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warns that the United States could experience 100,000 deaths and millions of viral infections from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ignoring these facts is Right-wing TV and radio host Glenn Beck, who, according to Forbes, was worth $90 million in 2014.

“I would rather have my children stay home and all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working.  Even if we all get sick, I’d rather die than kill the country,” Beck, 56, said on his show “The Blaze.”

Of course, Beck works alone in his own studio—and is thus highly unlikely to come in contact with an infected carrier.

Glenn Beck (25030472253) (cropped).jpg

Glenn Beck

George Skidmore photo

Like Beck, millionaires and billionaires can afford to socially distance themselves from others and still accumulate huge piles of wealth.

“I think what we are doing with the shutdown is good but in a few weeks people will need to be around people,” said billionaire Tilman Fertitta, owner of a casino, hotel and restaurant empire.

He certainly needs “people to be around people.” His businesses depend heavily on huge numbers of customers willing to spend money.

And, in this case, to risk their lives doing so.

Adds Fertotta: “Otherwise you are going to go into an economic crisis that is going to take us years to dig ourselves out of.”

Fertitta’s income is estimated at $4.4 billion, according to Forbes.

For men like Richard Kovacevich, Tom Golisano, Lloyd Blankfein, Glenn Beck and Tilman Fertitta,, the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt have no meaning: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”

For Republicans and their wealthy benefactors, “pro-life” means strictly anti-abortion. Any other form of life—the elderly, the ill, victims of pollution, those slaughtered with military-style weaponry used by criminals—are totally expendable.

THE COSTS OF RIGHT-WING ARROGANCE

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, RELIGION, Social commentary on March 30, 2020 at 12:42 am

It has been said that President John F. Kennedy left his country with three great legacies:

  • The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty;
  • The Apollo moon landing; and
  • The Vietnam war.

But there was a fourth legacy—and perhaps the most important of all: The belief that mankind could overcome its greatest challenges through rationality and perseverance.

 White House painting of JFK

At American University on June 10, 1963, Kennedy asked his fellow Americans to re-examine the events and attitudes that had led to the Cold War. And he declared that the search for peace was by no means hopeless:

“Our problems are man-made; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.

“Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again.”

Today, Right-wingers exchange superstition for science and insults for solutions.

One of these was Landon Spradlin, a Virginia pastor who claimed the “mass hysteria” around the Coronavirus pandemic was part of a media plot against President Donald Trump. 

The 66-year-old father and husband from Virginia died due to complications from COVID-19 on March 25. in Concord, North Carolina.

At a time when responsible Americans are self-isolating to halt the spread of Coronavirus, he was returning home from a mission trip to New Orleans to “wash it from its Sin and debauchery.”

On his Facebook page Spradlin misleadingly compared Coronavirus to the swine flu. He added that the media had created “mass hysteria” to damage Trump:

Spradlin also claimed that a missionary in South Africa “protected” himself from the bubonic plague with the “Spirit of God”: “As long as I walk in the light of that law [of the Spirit of life], no germ will attach itself to me.”   

Had Spradin been as knowledgeable about history as he presumably was about the Bible, he would have known:

  • The bubonic plague—better known as the Black Death—raged from 1347 to 1351.
  • It spread quickly and virulently throughout Europe and Asia.
  • It killed 75 to 200 million people.
  • Faith proved no protection from its deadliness.

Reacting to the news, a Twitter user wrote: “On March 13, Pastor Landon Spradlin shared this post suggesting #COVID19 is a hoax. On March 24th he died of that hoax. You can thank Trump and @FoxNews for perpetuating that narrative. This is not a game.”

The despicable role that Fox News Network has played in convincing millions of Americans that COVID-19 is a hoax cannot be overestimated.

By March 9, the virus had stricken 1,016 Americans and caused 31 deaths. It was raging in 33 states.The stock market had had its worst week of trading since the “Wall Street meltdown” of 2008.

But on March 9, Trish Regan, host of Trish Regan Primetime on the Fox Business Network, attacked not the virus but those who do not share her fervent embrace of Donald Trump.

“We’ve reached a tipping point,” said Regan. “The hate is boiling. Many in the liberal media are using Coronavirus in an attempt to demonize and destroy the President, despite the virus originating halfway around the world.

“This is yet another attempt to impeach the President. And sadly, it seems the left cares little for any of the destruction they leave in their wake, including losses in the stock market. This, unfortunately, is all just part of the political casualties for them.”

To make certain no one in the television audience missed the point, an electronically generated caption read: “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam.” 

Unfortunately for Regan, by March 9, too many Americans—including many Fox News viewers—realized the virus was not a Democratic hoax, as she and Trump had claimed. 

A firestorm of outrage descended on Fox—and on March 14, Fox Business Network announced that Regan’s program would be on “hiatus” until further notice.

Another Twitter user posted the following cartoon to mock Spradin’s contempt for science:

View image on Twitter

But far worse is almost certain to come. 

President Trump has repeatedly said he wants to “re-open the country” to end the “social distancing” and shuttered businesses recommended by the medical community. Only this, they believe, will halt or at least slow the spread of COVID -19.

He intended to use Easter Sunday—April 12—as a pretext for his real reason: He wants to return to what many of his critics refer to as “Nuremberg rallies.” Packing stadiums with his most fanatical followers, he thunders insults and lies with abandon.

Unable to do this while “social distancing” is officially on throughout the country, he has substituted nearly constant “press conferences” filled with equal parts of lies and ignorance about Coronavirus.

On March 21, for example, Trump insisted he had a “very good” feeling about using a malaria drug to combat the virus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had to set the record straight: “No.”

On March 29, Trump announced he would postpone “reopening the country” until April 30. By March 29,  the United States had more than 139,000 COVID-19 cases, with at least 2,425 deaths.

NO SHAME, ONLY ARROGANCE

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 27, 2020 at 12:09 am

“Senator, may we not drop this?…You’ve done enough.  Have you no sense of decency, sir?  At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

The speaker was Joseph N. Welch, chief counsel for the United States Army—then under investigation by Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for alleged Communist activities.

It was June 9, 1954, the 30th day of the Army-McCarthy hearings.

And it was the pivotal moment that finally destroyed the career of the Wisconsin Senator whose repeated slanders of Communist subversion had bullied and frightened Americans for four years.

Joseph McCarthy

When the Senate gallery erupted in applause, McCarthy—totally surprised at his sudden reversal of fortune—was finished.

Today, however, other Americans should be asking themselves the question asked by Welch: “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Americans like Rick Santorum, former United States Senator from Pennsylvania (1997 – 2007) and Republican Presidential candidate in 2012.

Rick Santorum

Santorum has fervently sought to ban legalized abortion—even in rape cases.

He also wants to ban birth control: “It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”

But this did not stop him from marrying, in 1990, a woman—Karen Garver—who had spent six years as the unmarried bedmate of an OBGYN-abortionist named Tom Allen, who was 40 years her senior.

Today, as Mrs. Santorum, she has totally reversed her view on abortion and wants to see it banned.

Then there’s President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump

On July 15, 2018, Trump tweeted: “Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!” 

He was, of course, referring to Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, charged by the Justice Department with investigating the subversion of the 2016 Presidential election by Russian Intelligence agents.

The next day, Trump attended a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, with Russian President Vladimir Putin.   

Addressing a question to Trump, Jeff Mason, a reporter from Reuters, asked: “Mr. President, do you hold Russia at all accountable for anything in particular?”

Trump, refusing to condemn Russia, blasted the Mueller probe: “I think that the probe is a disaster for our country. I think it’s kept us apart. It’s kept us separated. There was no collusion at all. Everybody knows it.

“People are being brought out to the fore. So far that I know, virtually, none of it related to the campaign. They will have to try really hard to find something that did relate to the campaign.”

Associated Press Reporter Jonathan Lemire said to Trump: “Just now President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did. My first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?”

Trump responded by attacking Democrats and the FBI as partners in a conspiracy:

“You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server, why haven’t they taken the server? Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee?

“I’ve been wondering that. I’ve been asking that for months and months and I’ve been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying. With that being said, all I can do is ask the question.

“I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be, but I really do want to see the server.”

Clearly, the word “hypocrisy” meant nothing to McCarthy—just as it means nothing to Santorum and Trump.

But it should mean something to the rest of us.

In samurai Japan, officials who publicly disgraced themselves knew what to do. The samurai code of Bushido told them when they had crossed the line into eternal damnation.

And it gave them a way to redeem their lost honor—seppuku. With a small “belly-cutting” knife and the help of a trusted assistant who sliced off their head to spare them the agonizing pain of disembowelment.

In the armies of America and Europe, the method was slightly different: A pistol in a private room.

Considering the ready availability of firearms among Right-wing Republicans, redeeming lost honor shouldn’t be a problem for either man.

But of course it will be. It takes more than a trigger pull to “do the right thing.”

It takes insight to recognize that you’ve “done the wrong thing.” And it takes courage to act on that insight.

In men who live only for their own egos and wallets, such insight and courage will be forever lacking.They are beyond redemption.

Their lives give proof to the warning offered in Matthew 7:17-20:

“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.”

TWO DICTATORS–STALIN AND TRUMP–AND TWO CRISES: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 26, 2020 at 12:27 am

Two dictators. Two crises.

Next up: Donald Trump.   

Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin received multiple warnings that his supposed ally, Nazi Germany, would soon invade Russia. He ignored all of them. And when the invasion came—on June 22, 1941—the result was the loss of 26 million men, women and children and four years of devastation. 

President Donald Trump similarly received warnings that Coronavirus was now a major world threat—and would likely hit the United States. Like Stalin, he ignored those warnings—with similarly disastrous consequences for the United States.

The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December, 2019.  Its first reported victim became ill on December 1.

By December 31, the outbreak was traced to a novel strain of Coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that affect birds and mammals. In humans, Coronaviruses can cause pneumonia and may cause bronchitis.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

According to the March 21 edition of Rolling Stone magazine: “The United States intelligence community has been warning the president since January and February about the dire consequences that would occur when coronavirus reached America, but the president seemed determined to play down the threat, leaving the country largely unaware and unprepared.”

An anonymous Intelligence official cited by the Washington Post said: “Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were—they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it. The system was blinking red.”

Trump first learned of the virus on January 3, 2020. This did not prevent him from playing golf on January 4, 5, 18 and 19.

On January 19, the first Coronavirus case appeared in the United States.

On January 27, then-acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tried to get the President to act. But, according to officials who spoke with the Post, Trump was “dismissive” of early briefings “because he did not believe that the virus had spread widely throughout the United States.”

Trump fired Mulvaney one month later.

Then, for Trump, it was back to the golf course—on February 1, 2, 15. 

Image result for Trump Corona Timeline

Refusing to take action against the emerging Coronavirus threat, Trump repeatedly made statements that minimized it. 

January 22: “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”

January 30: “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment –five—and those people are all recuperating successfully. But we’re working very closely with China and other countries, and we think it’s going to have a very good ending for us .…that I can assure you.”

February 10: “Now, the virus that we’re talking about having to do—you know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat—as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April. We’re in great shape though. We have 12 cases—11 cases, and many of them are in good shape now.” 

February 28: “[Democrats] tried the impeachment hoax…They lost…. And this is their new hoax.”

A major reason for the spectacular early victories of the German army in Russia was that, from 1936 to 1938, Stalin had gutted his own military by a series of systematic purges. Thus, there were few experienced, competent officers—from army corps commanders to four-star generals—to mount a strategic defense. 

Similarly, upon taking office, Trump had gutted the permanent epidemic monitoring and command groups set up inside the White House: The National Security Council (NSC) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Pathologically jealous of President Barack Obama, Trump has tried to destroy every vestige of Obama’s legacy as the first black President of the United States. And these disease-monitoring groups were set up by Obama following the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

In the spring of 2018, Trump pushed Congress to cut $15 billion from national health spending—and cutting the global disease-fighting budgets of the Centers for Disease Control, National Security Council, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services.

In April, 2018, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton forced Tom Bossert, director of the infectious disease unit at DHS, to resign—along with his entire team.

On February 29, the first American died of Coronavirus. 

Trump continued to be unconcerned about the growing threat.

On March 7, reporters asked him if he was concerned that Coronavirus had arrived in Washington, D.C. He replied:  “No, I’m not concerned at all. No, we’ve done a great job with it.”

And in a March 9 tweet, Trump wrote: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”  

Perhaps most dangerously of all, Trump has from the outset blatantly contradicted health officials—even when standing next to them at press conferences.

On March 21, Trump insisted he had a “very good” feeling about using a malaria drug to combat the virus. It fell to Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to set the record straight: “No.”

As of March 26, the United States had 68,489 Coronavirus cases—with 1,032 deaths.

TWO DICTATORS–STALIN AND TRUMP–AND TWO CRISES: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 25, 2020 at 12:25 am

Two dictators. Two crises.

First up: Joseph Stalin.

“I know what Hitler’s up to. He thinks he’s outsmarted me. But in actuality, it is I who have outsmarted him.” 

So spoke Joseph Stalin, absolute dictator of the Soviet Union, to his future successor, Nikita Khrushchev, in 1939.

Less than two years later, on June 22, 1941, three million German soldiers poured across the western border of the Soviet Union.

On August 23, 1939, Stalin had signed the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact with German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler. The reason: Each dictator got what he wanted—for the moment. Hitler was planning to invade Poland in a matter of days—and he wanted to avoid a war with the Soviet Union. And Stalin got what he wanted: The eastern half of Poland.

Joseph Stalin

The agreement stunned the world. Since 1919, Nazis and Communists had fought bitter battles against each other in the streets of Germany during the Weimar Republic.

When this was replaced in 1933 by the Third Reich, German Communists were rounded up and imprisoned, if not murdered, by Hitler’s ruthless secret police, the Schutzstaffel (“Protective Squads”).

For the moment, however, all of that was conveniently forgotten.

But Hitler hadn’t forgotten his life’s ambition to conquer the Soviet Union and utterly destroy “the scourge of Jewish-Marxism.”

Stalin received numerous warnings from the United States and Great Britain about the coming invasion. But he dismissed them as efforts by the West to trick him into violating the pact and turning Nazi Germany into his mortal enemy. 

When informed of the attack, Stalin at first believed it was being made by rogue German forces. He refused to order an immediate counterattack. Upon being convinced that the Wehrmacht intended to wage all-out war, he went into a funk in his dacha and shut himself off from everyone. To his closest associates he wailed: “Lenin left us a great inheritance and we, his heirs, have fucked it all up!”

Meanwhile, the Red Air Force was destroyed on the ground by the awesome Luftwaffe. And the Wehrmacht was advancing at a rate of 25 miles a day.

German soldiers marching through Russia

On July 3, after 10 days of brooding (and probably drinking heavily) in his dacha, Stalin finally took to the airways. He didn’t speak live; Radio Moscow played a recording of his voice across the Soviet Union.

Never a spellbinding orator, Stalin spoke in slow and faltering tones. Nevertheless, his opening words were startling: “Comrades! Citizens! Brothers and sisters! Men of our army and navy! I am addressing you, my friends!”

Stalin had never addressed an audience this way, and he never would again. Born Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili, he had given himself the name of “Stalin”—“Man of Steel.” And he had lived up to it, sending tens of thousands to the Soviet penal system known as the Gulag while ordering the executions of tens of thousands of others.

He said the “peace loving” Soviet Union had been attacked by “fiends and cannibals.” He claimed the non-aggression pact with Germany had given the army much-needed time to rearm and reorganize its forces. He claimed the Germans wanted to restore the rule of the landlords and re-establish Tsarism.

He repeatedly spoke of the treachery of the enemy—and of the need for constant vigilance against traitors: “We must wage a ruthless fight against all disorganizers of the rear, deserters, panic-mongers and rumor-mongers.”

This was accompanied by orders unprecedented in any other army: Those taken prisoner by the Germans were to be considered traitors—and shot or imprisoned. Those suspected of wounding themselves to avoid combat were also subject to summary execution. So were soldiers who had been legitimately wounded in battle but were suspected of inflicting those injuries.

The first two years of the war—1941 to 1943—proved disastrous for the Soviet Union.

During the first six months—June to December, 1941—German armies lured huge Soviet forces into gigantic “cauldron battles,” surrounding and exterminating them. An estimated 5.7 million prisoners of war (POWs) fell into German hands. Of these, at least 3.5 million died in custody.

But then the infamous Russian cold and snows of winter halted  the Wehrmacht before Moscow. In the summer of 1942 German forces once again mounted a ferocious offensive, driving all the way to the Volga—and Stalingrad.

But they became bogged down in bitter house-to-house fighting. With the arrival of winter, Soviet forces surrounded the Wehrmacht’s powerful Sixth Army. The besiegers became the besieged. On February 2, 1943, Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus surrendered what remained of his army. The battle cost Germany 500,000 men, including 91,000 taken prisoner. 

As the Red Army finally began to go over on the offensive, Stalin relaxed the iron controls that had long stifled creativity on the part of his commandeers. 

The infamous political commissars were removed from control over Russian generals. Gold braid and fancy uniforms were manufactured and rushed to the front as morale boosters.

At last, Stalin realized there was no way to win a life-and-death struggle than to give his soldiers the flexibility they needed.

The war would last another two years—costing the Soviet Union at least 26 million citizens—before it ended with the Red flag flying over Berlin.

KARMA IS A REPUBLICAN BITCH

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on March 24, 2020 at 12:05 am

Americans are living through extraordinary times. For many Republicans, who have fought to convince Americans that Coronavirus was simply a Democratic hoax, are now fighting for their lives.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is the first United Sates Senator to test positive for the virus. But other Republicans have also been forced to self-quarantine.

Among these:

  • Senators Mitt Romney and Mike Lee (R-UT) announced on March 22 that they would self-quarantine because of their association with Paul.
  • On March 15, Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ) said that he would work from home “until otherwise told by doctors” after learning that “a member of our DC team” had tested positive.
  • Representative Paul Gosar (R-AZ) put out a statement on March 8 saying that he had been notified that during  his attendance of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in March, he was in contact with someone who had tested positive for Coronavirus. He said that he would “remain at my home in Arizona until the conclusion of the 14-day period following my interaction with this individual.”
  • On March 17, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) said that he had completed a period of self-quarantine.
  • On March 17, the office of Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) announced that he had decided to self-quarantine after meeting with a Colorado constituent who later tested positive for Coronavirus.
  • Representative Ann Wagner (R-MO) said in a statement on March 18 that she would self-quarantine after meeting with a member of Congress who had tested positive for Coronavirus.
  • On March 12, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) said that he would self-quarantine after possibly mingling with a member of a Brazilian delegation at Mar-a-Lago who tested positive for Coronavirus.
  • On March 15, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) announced that he tested negative for Coronavirus.
  • Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) said on March 18 that he was going into self-quarantine after he held an “extended meeting” with Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) who has tested positive for Coronavirus.
  • On Mach 19, Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) announced that he would self-quarantine upon learning that Diaz-Balart had tested positive for Coronavirus.
  • Representative Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) announced on March 10 that his Coronavirus test results came back negative.
  • On March 9, Representative Doug Collins (R-GA) said that he would self-quarantine after CPAC organizers found of photo of him and the conference attendee who tested positive.
  • Representative Drew Ferguson (R-GA) said on March 18 on Twitter that he was going into self-quarantine after being in contact with a member of Congress who has tested positive for Coronavirus.

This is not to imply that only Republican members of Congress have gotten Coronavirus.

Democrats have, too—and will self-quarantine:

  • Representative Julia Brownley (CA) 
  • Representative Don Beyer (VA) 
  • Representative John Yarmuth (KY)
  • Representative Ben Ray Luján (NM)
  • Representative Gwen Moore (WI) 
  • Representative Jason Crow (CO)
  • Representative Matt Cartwright (PA) 
  • Representative Stephanie Murphy (FL) 
  • Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice (NY)
  • Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi (NY)
  • Democratic Rep. Joe Cunningham (SC)
  • Democratic Rep. David Price (NC) 
  • Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids (KS) 
  • Democratic Rep. Andy Kim (NJ) 
  • Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (TX) 

US Democratic Party Logo.svg

The difference between the two political parties: While Democrats overwhelmingly accept Coronavirus as a deadly reality, a far smaller portion of Republicans do. 

A Pew Research Center study released on March 18 found that 59% of Democrats called the virus a major threat to Americans’ health. But only 33% of Republicans agreed.

This despite the fact that medical experts and epidemiologists have warned that the virus could affect many millions of Americans, regardless of political party or state.

Twelve percent of Democrats believe President Donald Trump is doing a good job handling the crisis and 23% believe Vice President Mike Pence is doing a somewhat or very good job. But 82% of Republicans said Trump was doing a somewhat or very good job, and 78% said the same for Pence. 

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

No doubt much of this divide stems from Trump’s initial refusal to take the disease seriously. On February 28, at a campaign rally in North Charleston, South Carolina, Trump claimed: “Now the Democrats are politicizing the Coronavirus….This is their new hoax.”

Throughout his Presidency, Trump has used “hoax” to attack his opponents, such as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Trump’s collaboration with Russian Intelligence agents during the 2016 Presidential campaign.

And Republicans have utterly tied themselves to him since the 2018 mid-term elections, where many moderate Republicans lost their seats.

According to Toluse Olorunnipa, White House reporter for The Washington Post: “They have realized that if they’re going to keep their seats, if they’re going to be able to have any future in the party, they have to be completely tied to President Trump and really wait for his call in terms of what exactly they’re going to do.”

Another reason why Republicans—voters and politicians—refuse to take the Coronavirus outbreak seriously lies in their changed attitude toward higher education.

An August 2019 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 59% of Republicans say higher education has a negative effect on the country. Only 18% of Democrats agreed with that.

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Trump infamously said: “I love the poorly educated!”

Now they have a champion in their contempt for education generally and science in particular.

EVEN FASCISM HAS ITS LIMITS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on March 23, 2020 at 12:29 am

Apparently some lies are off-limits on the Fox News Network. That is, if they provoke enough angry audience response.

COVID-19 had stricken 1,016 Americans and caused 31 deaths. The virus was raging in 33 states.The stock market had had its worst week of trading since the “Wall Street meltdown” of 2008. 

But on March 9, Trish Regan, host of Trish Regan Primetime on the Fox Business Network, attacked not the virus but those who do not share her fervent embrace of Donald Trump.

“We’ve reached a tipping point,” said Regan. “The hate is boiling. Many in the liberal media are using Coronavirus in an attempt to demonize and destroy the President, despite the virus originating halfway around the world.

“This is yet another attempt to impeach the President. And sadly, it seems the left cares little for any of the destruction they leave in their wake, including losses in the stock market. This, unfortunately, is all just part of the political casualties for them.”

Trish Regan

To make certain no one in the television audience missed the point, an electronically generated caption read: “Coronavirus Impeachment Scam.”

On the same day that Regan accused Trump’s critics of being haters, Trump himself was directing hate through his weapon of choice: Twitter: 

“The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, ‘The risk is low to the average American.’”

Actually, with the virus spreading quickly throughout all 50 states, the risk is not low to the average American. It is not the news that’s fake, but the lies and ignorance Trump is spouting.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

On March 14, Fox Business Network announced that Regan’s program would be on “hiatus” until further notice. 

The reason: Using one of the favorite words of the Right, her comments had “triggered” an avalanche of criticism. Some of this came from Coronavirus victims. Some came from those related to those victims. And some came simply from people who didn’t appreciate being so blatantly lied to.

On March 13, perhaps warned of her coming suspension, Regan took a more conciliatory tone: “Our path forward right now is together, the left and the right united to fight this crisis. We’re all in this together, and we need to stay safe.”

Trying to put the best spin on her humiliating suspension, she tweeted that same evening: “I want to let everyone know that Trish Regan Primetime is now on hiatus. FBN has taken prudent steps to limit staffing levels and is prioritizing its coverage during market hours. I fully support this decision — we all must to do our part to keep our colleagues safe.”

Thus—at least according to Regan—her leaving the air was not an act of punishment but a “prudent step” to “limit staffing levels” at the station.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Yes.

And it comes, fittingly enough, from Nazi Germany—the regime which has provided so much unacknowledged inspiration for America’s Right-wing demagogues. 

On February 27, 1943, a battalion of SS men, Gestapo agents and regular policemen fanned out across Berlin to arrest the city’s last remaining Jews. Jews still working in armaments factories, as well as Jews married to non-Jews, were the main targets.

Intermarried Jews were jailed, under SS guard, at Rosenstrasse 2-4, the Jewish community’s administration building.

As rumors of the mass arrests stirred through Berlin, the German wives of those arrested flocked to Rosenstrasse. Arriving alone or in pairs, they formed a crowd that rapidly kept expanding. One woman, accompanied by her brother—a Wehrmacht soldier in full uniform—approached an SS guard. “If my brother-in-law is not released,” the soldier told the guard, “I will not return to the front.”

As night fell, the demonstrators refused to end their protest. They demanded the return of their husbands. Several approached the SS guards and loudly complained. For a whole week, day and night, the protest continued, with the crowd often shouting: “Let our husbands go! We want our husbands back!” 

Memorial commemorating the protest 

Niki Sublime from Boston, USA / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0

As many as 600 protesters gathered at one time, and thousands had joined in by the protest’s end. Several times the SS guards shouted: “Clear the streets—or we’ll shoot!” At this, the women scattered—only to quickly return.

Even some hardened Nazis were impressed. A Gestapo guard told one of the Jewish prisoners: “Your relatives are out there protesting for you. This is German loyalty.”

On March 6, 1943, Joseph Goebbels in his capacity as the Gauleiter (Governor) of Berlin, ordered all of the people imprisoned at Rosenstrasse 2-4 released.

According to Leopold Gutterer, Goebbels’s deputy at the Propaganda Ministry, Goebbels said if force was used to crush the demonstrations, it would prompt wider protests all over Berlin, which might soon become political, and could possibly even lead to the overthrow of the Nazi regime.

So the lesson is clear, and it is this: If average citizens, even in the heart of a brutal dictatorship, can show courage against lies and injustice, so can Americans living in what is supposed to be a democracy.

LIKE HITLER, LIKE TRUMP: BE GRATEFUL YOU HAVE ME

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 20, 2020 at 12:08 am

By February, 1943, the tide of war had turned irrevocably for Nazi Germany.

The string of quick and easy victories that had started on September 1, 1939 was over:

  • Poland
  • Norway
  • Denmark
  • Holland
  • Belgium
  • Luxembourg
  • Greece
  • France.

All had fallen under the heel of the Nazi jackboot. The swastika flag still flew triumphantly over the capitols of these once-free nations. 

Adolf Hitler

And the word—and whim—of Germany’s Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler remained law for their populations.

But by March, 1943, all except the most fanatical Nazis could see that Germany was on a collision course with disaster.

  • Under the unshakable leadership of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Great Britain still remained a sworn enemy of the Third Reich.
  • After six months of spectacular victories against the Soviet Union, the Wehrmacht had become hopelessly bogged down in the snow before Moscow.
  • On December 11, 1941, following the attack on Pearl Harbor by his ally, Japan, Hitler declared war on the United States—thus pitting the Reich against the world’s two most powerful nations: America and Russia.
  • In November, 1942, at El Alamein, the British Army halted the advance of General Erwin Rommel and his famed Afrika Korps across North Africa.
  • On February 2, 1943, General Friedrich von Paulus surrendered the remains of the once-powerful Sixth Army at Stalingrad. The Reich suffered 730,000 total casualties, including nearly 91,000 German prisoners taken prisoner. 
  • On June 6, 1944, American, British and Canadian armies overwhelmed German’s “impregnable wall of death” on the Normandy beaches. 
  • In February, 1945, following the Vistula-Oder Offensive, the Red Army temporarily halted 37 miles east of Berlin. 

So, by March, 1943, Germany desperately needed to hear some good news.  And Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was eager to supply it. 

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Joseph Goebbels

He did so in one of his last public addresses, delivered to a large but carefully selected audience in Gorlitz. 

For Goebbels, the greatest challenge to the Reich lay in “the Bolshevist danger in the East.”  And, for him, the solution was clear: “Total war is the demand of the hour.” 

“Our soldiers, as soon as the great push on the Eastern Front gets under way, will ask no mercy and give no mercy.

“Already, our forces have begun softening up operations, and in the next weeks and months the big offensive will begin. They will go into battle with devotion like congregations going to a religious service.

“So, as the Fuhrer has overcome crises in the past, so will he triumph now.

“The other day he told me ‘I firmly believe that we shall overcome this crisis. I firmly believe that our army of millions will beat back our enemy and annihilate him. And some day our banners will be victorious. This is my life’s unshakable belief.'” 

Thunderous applause repeatedly interrupted Goebbels’ address. Yet this could not replace the enormous losses Germany had suffered since 1939. Nor could it reverse the march of the Allied armies as they closed in on the Reich from East and West. 

Now, fast-forward 74 years to November 23, 2017—Thanksgiving Day.   

Donald Trump, President of the United States, speaks by video teleconference to American forces stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

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Donald Trump

President George W. Bush had risked his life to fly into Baghdad in 2003 to spend Thanksgiving with American forces. He flew into Iraq once again to visit troops in June, 2006. 

And President Barack Obama took a similar risk when he visited American soldiers in Iraq in 2009, in Afghanistan in 2010, 2012 and 2014.

For Trump—who had five times dodged the draft during the Vietnam war—visiting an actual combat zone was apparently out of the question. 

So he addressed American troops from the safety and comfort of his Mar-a-Lago Club and Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. 

The address started off predictably enough: “It’s an honor to speak with you all and to give God thanks for the blessings of freedom and for the heroes who really have this tremendous courage that you do to defend us and to defend freedom.” 

But, being Trump, he could not resist paying homage to himself: “We’re being talked about again as an armed forces. We’re really winning. We know how to win, but we have to let you win. They weren’t letting you win before; they we’re letting you play even. We’re letting you win….”

In short: You’re doing the grunt work, but the glory belongs to me.

“They say we’ve made more progress against ISIS than they did in years of the previous administration, and that’s because I’m letting you do your job….” 

Translation: All those sacrifices you made under Presidents Bush and Obama went for nothing.

“A lot of things have happened with our country over the last very short period of time, and they’re really good — they’re really good. I especially like saying that companies are starting to come back.

“Now we’re working on tax cuts—big, fat, beautiful tax cuts. And hopefully we’ll get that and then you’re going to really see things happen.” 

Or, put another way: Be grateful they elected me—because you’re about to see the 1% richest get even richer. Too bad you won’t be so lucky.

WHY REPUBLICANS WIN ELECTIONS–AND DEMOCRATS LOSE THEM

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 19, 2020 at 12:07 am

There’s a reason why Republicans win so many elections—especially at the Presidential level.

Republicans learned long ago that most voters aren’t moved by appeals to their rationality. Instead, what counts with them is emotions.

And Republicans long ago became experts at appealing to these—especially the baser ones.

For Republicans, the Big Three are:

Hatred

Greed

Fear  

Hatred: There can be no better example of a politician who has played successful on the hatred of American voters than Donald Trump. If Barack Obama was the 2008 candidate of “Hope and Change,” then Trump was the 2016 candidate of “Hate and Fear.” 

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. 

Donald Trump

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

Among his targets:

  • Hillary Clinton
  • The New York Times 
  • President Barack Obama
  • CNN
  • Actress Meryl Streep
  • The Washington Post
  • Singer Neil Young
  • Democrats
  • Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Republicans
  • Comedian John Oliver
  • The State of New Jersey
  • Beauty pageant contestants

Others he clearly delighted in insulting during the campaign included:

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

Greed: On August 23, 2018, Trump, as President, offered additional evidence that he’s “not like other people.” He did so by giving an unprecedented reason why he shouldn’t be impeached: “I tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor.”  

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubtless spoke for millions of Trump supporters when she said, on June 4, 2018:

“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.”

Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA TODAY, summed up the popularity of the “Greed Appeal” to voters on the March 13 edition of “Washington Week in Review”:

“USA Today has conducted a poll about the economic concerns that are out there….And Congress—you’re seeing fear in this country about the economy.

“In fact, when we did this poll this week about how Americans’ lives have been affected by the Coronavirus, people expressed more concern about the economic and financial effect than they did about the health effect. And you know, that goes to why this matters so much to President Trump.

“How many voters have you talked to who said, you know, I don’t really like President Trump’s tweets, but I like what I see happening in my 401(k)?  And when they look at their 401(k) this week, it may not look quite as bright as it did before.”

Fear: From the end of World War II in 1945 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Enemy of Choice for Republicans was the Communists.

Millions of Americans were so pathologically frightened by “The Red Menace” that any Democratic politician libeled as a “Communist,” “Comsymp,”  “fellow traveler” was considered at least a potential traitor, if not an actual one.

Among the Republican politicians who rode to victory on a wave of Red hysteria: Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy 

Even as late as 1992, President George H.W. Bush and the Republican establishment charged that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton might be a KGB plant. Their evidence: During his tenure at Oxford University in 1969-70, Clinton had briefly visited Moscow—and thus might have been turned into a “Manchurian Candidate.”

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Right-wingers had to settle for attacking their opponents as “liberals” and “soft on crime.” But these charges didn’t carry the same weight as “Communists” and “traitors.”

Then, on September 11, 2001, Republicans—and their Right-wing supporters—at last found a suitable replacement for the Red Menace: The Maniacal Muslim.

World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

Led by President George W. Bush, Republicans used fear of Muslims to con and bully the nation into a needless, bloody, budget-busting war on Iraq. Seventeen years later, that war continues.

So how can Democrats counter such appeals?  By making equally ruthless use of them.

For example—Fear: Republicans rely heavily on support from rural America—where fundamentalist religious beliefs hold sway. Instead of ridiculing those beliefs, Democrats—even those who are atheists—should make use of them.

How?

  • By recognizing that fundamentalists believe that widespread plague is a sign of God’s displeasure; and
  • Repeatedly proclaiming that the Coronavirus is God’s judgment on a sinful nation for electing Donald Trump President.

Democrats must closely study the beliefs of their sworn enemies and make skillful use of them—as the Israelis have done. 

Suicide bombers’ attacks in Israel sharply decreased after Israelis started patrolling with bomb-sniffing dogs.

Why?

Islamics believe that dogs are defiling creatures—and that if their blood is mingled with that of a dog, they won’t go to Heaven to claim those 72 willing virgins.

To defeat your enemy, you must learn his weaknesses—and ruthlessly attack them.

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