Archive for the ‘Social commentary’ Category


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 26, 2016 at 12:19 am

They cannot be made to love us, but they may be made to fear us.
–William Tecumseh Sherman speaking of the Southern Confederacy

If Hillary Clinton is elected President, she may soon face the same crisis that confronted Abraham Lincoln more than a century ago: Mass treason.

Americans haven’t even voted yet. But, already, hard-core supporters of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump believe a sinister international cabal has “rigged” the 2016 election for Clinton.  

There is absolutely no evidence for this–other than what Trump himself has loudly and repeatedly told them: That there is a massive conspiracy to take him down.  

At one town hall meeting where his Vice Presidential running mate, Mike Pence, appeared, a woman named Rhonda stood up and announced: “One of the things that I can tell you that a lot of us are scared of is this voter fraud.

“There’s a lot of out here saying that when we vote, we’re going to wear red. Our lives depend on this election. Our kids’ futures depend on this election.

“For me personally, if Hillary Clinton gets in, I myself am ready for a revolution.”  

In Cincinnati, a Trump supporter threatened to forcibly remove Clinton from the White House if she won the Presidential race: “I feel like Hillary needs to be taken out if she gets in the government. I’ll do everything in my power to take her out of power–which, if I have to be a patriot, I will.”

When asked if he was physically threatening Clinton, Dan Bowman, 50, told CNN: “I don’t know, is it?”

Officially, the Trump campaign claimed: “We reject violence in any form and will not allow it to be a part of our campaign.”

But on August 9, Trump told a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina that Clinton intended to abolish the Second Amendment: “If she gets to pick her judges, there’s nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people–maybe there is, I don’t know.”   

The Clinton camp instantly saw it as a “dog-whistle” solicitation for political assassination. The Trump campaign issued a statement denying that he had meant any such thing.  

On July 19, Trump clinched the Republican Presidential nomination. By early August, Roger Stone, a longtime Right-wing political consultant and now Trump strategist, was already predicting “widespread voter fraud” in the coming election.  

This despite the fact that a 2014 Washington Post analysis of 14 years of voter fraud found 31 possible incidents of in-person voter fraud, comprised of approximately 241 fraudulent ballots.  

In an interview with the Right-wing Breitbart News website, Stone said:

“The first thing that Trump needs to do is begin talking about [voter fraud] constantly. If there’s voter fraud, this election will be illegitimate, the election of the winner will be illegitimate, we will have a constitutional crisis, widespread civil disobedience, and the government will no longer be the government.” 

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Roger Stone

Stone added that Trump should keep drumming up his supporters against the “rigged” system, and promise that the government would be shut down if Clinton was pronounced the victor in November.  

“I think he’s gotta put them on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical, and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath… We will not stand for it.” 

Yet no official in Washington, D.C.–from President Barack Obama on down–has so far dared to openly acknowledge–let alone confront–this menace.

If Hillary Clinton is elected President, she would do well to review how Andrew Jackson, America’s seventh President from 1829 to 1837, reacted to threats of secession.

Andrew Jackson

In 1830, South Carolina was threatening to secede from the Union. A South Carolina Congressman who was returning home visited Jackson and asked: “Do you have a message you want me to give to your friends in the state?”

Jackson questioned him about the recent mass meetings in Charleston.

The friend warned him that South Carolina’s fire-eaters believed “the Army and Navy aren’t big enough to collect a penny” of Federal taxes.

“Do they realize what their words mean?” asked Jackson.

“I’m afraid they do, General.”

“Then tell them from me that they can talk and write resolutions and print threats to their hearts’ content.

“But if one drop of blood is shed there in opposition to the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man I can lay my hands on engaged in such treasonable conduct, from the first tree I can reach.”

News of Jackson’s threat quickly spread throughout Washington, D.C.

Senator Robert Hayne of South Carolina told his fellow Senator, Thomas Hart Benton, of Missouri, that he couldn’t believe that Jackson would send an army to invade a sovereign state.

Benton replied: “I tell you, Hayne, when Jackson starts talking about hanging, they can begin to look for the ropes.”

Jackson later issued a proclamation to the people of South Carolina and threatened to hang Hayne’s successor, Senator John C. Calhoun. He also warned that he would himself lead an army into the state to enforce Federal law.

The treasonous rumblings stopped–for the moment.


In History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 25, 2016 at 12:10 am

On October 7, The Washington Post leaked a video of Donald Trump making sexually predatory comments about women. The remarks came during a 2005 exchange with Billy Bush, then the host of Access Hollywood

The two were traveling in an Access Hollywood bus to the set of the soap opera Days of Our Lives, where Trump was to make a cameo appearance. A “hot” microphone picked up their conversation–which has proved damning for Trump: 

Donald Trump: You know and I moved on her actually. You know she was down on Palm Beach. I moved on her and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her.

She was married. No this was–and I moved on her very heavily, in fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture. I moved on her like a bitch, but I couldn’t get there, and she was married.

Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

[At that point, they spot Adrianne Zucker, the starring actress in Days in Our Lives.]

Trump: Yeah, that’s her. With the gold. I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful–I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.

And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.

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Donald Trump

When the Washington Post broke the story on October 7, the reaction was immediate–and explosive.

The Trump campaign quickly released a statement: “This was locker room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago. Bill Clinton has said far worse to me on the golf course–not even close. I apologize if anyone was offended.”  

During the second Presidential debate on October 9, moderator Anderson Cooper asked Trump: “Have you ever done those things?”  

Trump: “And I will tell you–no I have not.”  

On October 12, The Palm Beach Post, The New York Times and People all published stories of women claiming to have been sexually assaulted by Trump.

Mindy McGillivray told the Post that Trump groped her buttocks when she visited Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, in 2013.  

In December, 2005, People magazine writer Natasha Stoynoff went to Mar-a-Lago to interview Donald and Melania Trump for a first-wedding-anniversary feature story.  

During a break in the interview, Trump said he wanted to show Stoynoff around his mansion. There was one “tremendous” room he especially wanted to show her.

According to her account: “We walked into that room alone, and Trump shut the door behind us. I turned around, and within seconds he was pushing me against the wall and forcing his tongue down my throat.”

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Natasha Stoynoff

Fortunately, Trump’s butler soon entered the room, and Trump acted as though nothing had happened. But as soon as he and Stoynoff were alone again, Trump said: “You know we’re going to have an affair, don’t you?”  

Stoynoff asked her editors–and received permission–to be removed from writing any further Trump features.

The Times reported that, more than 30 years ago, Trump had made equally unwelcome advances toward businesswoman Jessica Leeds, then 38.  

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Jessica Leeds

She said she was sitting next to Trump in the first-class cabin of a New York-bound flight when Trump lifted the armrest, grabbed her breasts and tried to put his hand up her skirt.  

She fled to the back of the plane.

Another woman who spoke to the Times was Rachel Crooks. She was a 22-year-old receptionist at Bayrock Group, a real estate investment and development company in Trump Tower in Manhattan in 2005.

One morning she came face-to-face with Trump outside an elevator in the building. Knowing that her company did business with him, she introduced herself. They shook hands. But instead of letting go, Trump kissed her cheeks, and then “kissed me directly on the mouth.”

On October 11, questioned by a Times reporter about the women’s claims, Trump shouted: “None of this ever took place.”

He accused the newspaper of inventing accusations to hurt his Presidential candidacy.  And he threatened to sue for libel if the Times reported the women’s stories. 

On October 13, Trump used Twitter to deny the allegations in the Times and People.

On October 14, at a rally in North Carolina, Trump attacked the character of the women accusing him.  

Of Stoynoff, he said: “Take a look. You take a look. Look at her. Look at her words. You tell me what you think. I don’t think so. I don’t think so.”

Calling Jessica Leeds “that horrible woman,” he said: “Believe me, she would not be my first choice, that I can tell you. Whoever she is, wherever she comes from, the stories are total fiction. They’re 100% made up. They never happened.”  

At one point during his lengthy outburst, Trump–who’s been married three times and often boasted of his sexual prowess–asked why President Barack Obama hasn’t had similar claims leveled against him.  

By October 14, at least 12 women had publicly accused Trump of sexually inappropriate behavior.


In History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 24, 2016 at 12:22 am

“Certain things are true,” says the American historian Deborah Lipstadt in the newly-released movie, Denial. “Elvis is dead. The ice caps are melting. And the Holocaust did happen.

“Millions of Jews went to their deaths in camps and open pits in a brutal genocide which was sanctioned and operated by the leaders of the Third Reich. There are some subjects about which two points of view are not equally valid.”

On September 5, 1996, the British author and Holocaust denier David Irving  (Timothy Spall  in the movie) filed a libel suit against Lipstadt (Rachel Weisz) and her British publisher Penguin Books.

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In 1993, in her book, Denying the Holocaust, Lipstadt had called Irving a Holocaust denier and accused him of distorting evidence and manipulating historical documents.

Irving had authored a series of books about the Third Reich and World War II. Among these: The War Path; Hitler’s War; The Trail of the Fox (a biography of Erwin Rommel); and The War Between the Generals (on the infighting among the Allied high command).

Of these, Hitler’s War (1977) was–and remains–the most controversial. Although Irving admitted that the Holocaust had occurred, he claimed that Hitler hadn’t ordered it–or even known about it. He blamed Reichsfuhrer-SS Henirich Himmler and his number-two deputy, Reinhard Heydrich, as its architects.

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David Irving

For decades, Irving boasted that no one had ever found a written order from Hitler ordering the Holocaust–and offered to pay £1000 to anyone who could find such an order.

In later years, Irving completely denied that the Holocaust had occurred. He claimed that gas chambers had never been used to exterminate Jews and there was no officially-sanctioned Third Reich plan to slaughter European Jewry. 

But Irving claimed that Lipstadt’s labeling him a Holocaust denier had tarred him as a disreputable historian–and had thus damaged his professional reputation.

Irving sued in a British court because the burden would be on the defendant to prove that s/he had not committed libel. (In American courts, the plaintiff must not only prove s/he has been libeled, but with actual malice.)

Lipstadt faced a second hurdle: Her lawyers ordered her to not take the witness stand. They wanted to put and keep the focus entirely on Irving–and to make his virulent anti-Semitism the issue in the case.

In her 2005 autobiography, Denial, Lipstadt described the agonies she endured in preparing for–and sitting through–this trial:

“For four years I immersed myself in the works of a man who exuded contempt for me and much of what I believed. I lost many nights of sleep, worried that because of some legal fluke Irving might prevail.”

Deborah Lipstadt

For Lipstadt, more was at stake than the possibility of losing a big chunk of money.

Above all, she feared that an Irving victory would give anti-Semites a legal precedent for “proving” that the extermination of six million Jewish men, women and children hadn’t occurred.

The case was tried in a London court from January to March, 2000.

Entering court on the first morning of trial, Irving assured the assembled reporters that he would be victorious.

Asked where his legal team was, he said he had chosen to represent himself: They might know the law, but he knew the topic–Hitler and the Third Reich.

The outcome was a disaster–for Irving.

Among the expert witnesses testifying on behalf of Lipstadt was Richard J. Evans, professor of modern history at Cambridge University and author of a three-volume history on the Third Reich. In his examination of Irving’s work, Evans found:

“Not one of [Irving’s] books, speeches or articles, not one paragraph, not one sentence in any of them, can be taken on trust as an accurate representation of its historical subject.

“All of them are completely worthless as history, because Irving cannot be trusted anywhere, in any of them, to give a reliable account of what he is talking or writing about. … if we mean by historian someone who is concerned to discover the truth about the past, and to give as accurate a representation of it as possible, then Irving is not a historian.”

Judge Charles Gray found that:

“Irving had for his own ideological reasons persistently and deliberately misrepresented and manipulated historical evidence” and that “for the same reasons, he had portrayed Hitler in an unwarrantedly favorable light, principally in relation to his attitude towards and responsibility for the treatment of the Jews.”

The judge also found that Irving was “an active Holocaust denier; that he was anti-Semitic and racist and that he associated with right-wing extremists who promoted neo-Nazism.”

Irving was discredited as a historian and ordered to pay all of Penguin’s costs of the trial, estimated to be as much as £2 million ($3.2 million in American currency). When Irving didn’t pay, he was forced into bankruptcy and lost his home.

Asked by a reporter, “Will you stop denying the Holocaust on the basis of this judgment?” Irving replied, “Good Lord, no.”

Denying the truth about the past didn’t work for David Irving. Soon America will discover if it works for Donald Trump.


In History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 21, 2016 at 12:17 am

On October 30, 2015, the hacker group Anonymous released the names of at least a dozen alleged Ku Klux Klan (KKK) members and their families online.

“Ku Klux Klan, We never stopped watching you,” the group said in a prepared statement.  “We know who you are. We know the dangerous extent to which you will go to cover your asses.

“Originally, we did not attack you for your beliefs as we fight for freedom of speech. We attacked you due to your threats to use lethal force in the Ferguson [Missouri] protests [in November, 2015].

“We took this grudge between us rather seriously. You continue to threaten anons and others. We never said we would only strike once….

“We will release, to the global public, the identities of up to 1000 klan members, Ghoul Squad affiliates and other close associates of various factions of the Ku Klux Klan.”

The information released included ages, phone numbers, addresses and even credit card numbers.

Anonymous Mask

By November 5, Anonymous had released the names of about 1,000 alleged KKK members or sympathizers via a Twitter data dump.

Among those names released by Anonymous:

  • U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-N.C.);
  • U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX.);
  • U.S. Senator Dan Coats (R-IN.)
  • U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA.);
  • Mayor Madeline Rogero, Knoxville, TN.; 
  • Mayor Jim Gray, Lexington, KY.;
  • Mayor Paul D. Fraim, Norfolk, VA.;
  • Mayor Kent Guinn, Ocala, FL.; and
  • Mayor Tom Henry, Fort Wayne, IN.  

All of these officials denied any affiliation with the Klan.  

“I worked for nine days to gather and verify all the information that was gathered before its release,” Amped Attacks, who released the information, stated online.  

“I got the information from several KKK websites when I [hacked] them and was able to dump their database. 

“I went through many emails that was signed up with these sites and a few of the emails that sparked my interest was the ones of the politicians in question there would be no reason for them to be signed up on any KKK website unless they supported it or was involved in it.”

This mass leak is easily the worst assault on the KKK since the FBI declared war on it more than 50 years ago.

More importantly, it is an assault made by a private group that has no affiliation with the U.S. Department of Justice.

The last time the Justice Department waged an all-out attack on the Klan was during the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.

The reason: The murders of three civil rights workers in Philadelphia, Mississippi–Michael “Mickey” Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney–on June 21, 1964.

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Poster for missing civil rights workers

Johnson ordered the FBI to find the missing activists. After their bodies were found buried near a dam, Johnson gave FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover a direct order: “I want you to have the same kind of intelligence [on the KKK] that you have on the communists.”

So the FBI launched a counterintelligence program–in Bureau-speak, a COINTELPRO–against the Ku Klux Klan.

Up to that point, Klansmen had shot, lynched and bombed their way across the Deep South, especially in Alabama and Mississippi. Many Southern sheriffs and police chiefs were Klan sympathizers, if not outright members and accomplices.

Ku Klux Klansmen in a meeting

The FBI’s covert action program aimed to “expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize” KKK groups through a wide range of legal and extra-legal methods.

“My father fought the Klan in Massachusetts,” recalled William C. Sullivan, who headed the FBI’s Domestic Intelligence Division in the 1960s. “I always used to be frightened when I was a kid and I saw the fiery crosses burning in the hillside near our farm.

William C. Sullivan

“When the Klan reached 14,000 in the mid-sixties, I asked to take over the investigation of the Klan.  When I left the Bureau in 1971, the Klan was down to a completely disorganized 4,300.  It was broken.

“They were dirty, rough fellows.   And we went after them with rough, tough methods.”

Click here: The Bureau My Thirty Years in Hoover’s FBI: William C Sullivan, Sam Sloan, Bill Brown: 9784871873383: Amazon.com: 

Among those methods: 

  • Planting electronic surveillance devices in Klan meeting places; 
  • Carrying out “black bag jobs”–burglaries–to steal Klan membership lists; 
  • Contacting the news media to publicize arrests and identify Klan leaders; 
  • Informing the employers of known Klansmen of their employees’ criminal activity, resulting in the firing of untold numbers of them; 
  • Developing informants within Klans and sewing a climate of distrust and fear among Klansmen; 
  • Breaking up the marriages of Klansmen by circulating rumors of their infidelity among their wives; and 
  • Beating and harassing Klansmen who threatened and harassed FBI agents. 

The FBI’s counterintelligence war against the Klan ended in 1971. 

Today, there are active Klan chapters in 41 states, with between 5,000 and 8,000 active members. 

Of course, it’s possible that some of the information posted by Anonymous is wrong. But if it isn’t, then Anonymous has done the nation a public service.

And, by doing so, it has raised a disturbing question:

Why has the Justice Department left a private organization to do battle with a terrorist one like the Ku Klux Klan?


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on October 20, 2016 at 12:30 am

Ever heard of “polygraph by copier”? If you haven’t, here’s how it works:

A detective loads three sheets of paper into a Xerox machine.

“Truth” has been typed onto the first sheet.

“Truth” has been typed onto the seond sheet.

“Lie” has been typed onto the third sheet. Then a criminal suspect is led into the room and told to put his hand against the side of the machine.“What is your name?” asks the detective.

The suspect gives it.

The detective hits the copy button, and a page comes out: “Truth.”

“Where do you live?” asks the detective.

The suspect gives an address, the detective again hits the copy button, and a second page appears: “Truth.”

Then comes the bonus question: “Did you or did you not kill Big Jim Tate on the evening of….?”

The suspect answers.

The detective presses the copy button one last time, and the sheet appears: “Lie.”

“Well, well, well, you lying little bastard,” says the detective.

Convinced that the police have found some mysterious way to peer into the darkest recesses of his criminality, the suspect “gives it up” and makes a full confession.

Yes, contrary to what many believe, police can legally use deceit to obtain a confession.

In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled, in United States v. Russell “Nor will the mere fact of deceit defeat a prosecution, for there are circumstances when the use of deceit is the only practicable law enforcement technique available.”

In that case, the Court narrowly upheld a conviction for methamphetamine production even though the defendant had argued entrapment.

So what types of interrogative deceit might a police officer use to develop admissible evidence of a suspect’s guilt?

The general rule is that deception can be used so long as it’s not likely to cause an innocent person to commit a crime or confess to a crime that s/he didn’t commit. 

Click here: The Lawful Use of Deception – Article – POLICE Magazine

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Consider the following examples:

  • A detective is interviewing a suspect in a rape case. “Oh, that girl,” he says, thus implying that the victim was a slut and had it coming. The suspect, thinking he’s dealing with a sympathetic listener, starts bragging about his latest conquest–only to learn, too late, that his listener isn’t so simpatico after all.
  • “We found your prints on the gun”–or on any number of other surfaces. Actually, there are few good places on a pistol to leave prints. And those that are left can be smeared. The same goes for other surfaces. But if a suspect can be led to believe the cops have his prints, a confession is often forthcoming.
  • A police officer is interrogating a suspect in a murder case. “He came at you, didn’t he?” asks the cop. The suspect, who murdered the victim in cold blood, thinks he has an escape route. “Yeah, he came at me”–this confirming that, yes, he did kill the deceased.
  • “Your partner just gave you up” is a favorite police tactic when there is more than one suspect involved. If one suspect can be made to “flip–turn–against the other, the case is essentially wrapped up.

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  • Interrogating a bank robbery suspect, a cop might say: “We know you didn’t do the shooting, that you were only the wheelman.” This implies that the penalty for driving the getaway car is far less than that for killing someone during a robbery. In fact, criminal law allows every member of the conspiracy to be charged as a principal.
  • “I don’t give a damn what you did,” says the detective. “Just tell me why you did it.” For some suspects, this offers a cathartic release, a chance to justify their guilt.
  • The “good cop/bad cop” routine is known to everyone who has ever seen a police drama. Yet it continues to yield results so often it continues to be routinely used. “Look, I believe you,” says the “good” cop, “but my partner’s a real asshole. Just tell me what happened so we can clear this up and you can go.”
  • “So,” says the detective, “why do you think the police believe you did it?” “I have no idea,” says the suspect, confident that he isn’t giving up anything that might come back to haunt him. “Well,” says the cop, “I guess you’ll just have to make something up.” Make something up  sounds easy, but is actually a trap. The suspect may end up giving away details that could incriminate him–or lying so brazenly that his lies can be used against him.

So: Is there a best way to deal with police who suspect you of a crime?

Yes, there is: Refuse to say anything and ask for permission to call a lawyer.  

That’s what the Supreme Court laid out in Miranda vs. Arizona (1966): “You have the right to remain silent….” 

That’s the preferred method for Mafia hitmen–and accused police officers. Any cop who finds himself under investigation by his department’s Internal Affairs unit automatically shuts up–and calls his lawyer, supplied by the police union.

Any other response–even if you’re innocent–may well result in a lengthy prison sentence.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 19, 2016 at 12:02 am

In 2011, Republicans threatened to destroy the Nation’s credit rating unless their budgetary demands were met. 

As Ernst Casier, chairman of philosophy at Hamburg University once warned:

“Those who are willing to risk everything, even death and destruction, to attain their ends will prevail over more responsible and prudent men who have more to lose and are rational, not suicidal.”

Yet President Barack Obama could have ended that threat via the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.

Passed by Congress in 1970, as Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1961-1968, its goal was to destroy the Mafia.

Originally, RICO was aimed at the Mafia and other organized crime syndicates.  But in United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576 (1981), the Supreme Court held that RICO applied as well to legitimate enterprises being operated in a criminal manner.

After Turkette RICO could also be used against corporations, political protest groups, labor unions and loosely knit-groups of people.

RICO opens with a series of definitions of “racketeering activity” which can be prosecuted by Justice Department attorneys. Among those crimes: Extortion. 

Extortion is defined as “a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person(s), entity, or institution, through coercion.”

The RICO Act defines “a pattern of racketeering activity” as “at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of this chapter and the last of which occurred within ten years…after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity.”

And if President Obama had believed that RICO was not sufficient to deal with Republicans’ extortion attempts, he could have relied on the USA Patriot Act of 2001, passed in the wake of 9/11.

In Section 802, the Act defines domestic terrorism. Among the behavior that is defined as criminal:

“Activities that…appear to be intended…to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion [and]…occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

The remedies for punishing such criminal behavior were now legally in place.  President Obama needed only to  direct the Justice Department to apply them.

  • President Obama could have directed Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate whether actions by Republican Congressman–and their Tea Party cohorts–broke Federal anti-racketeering and/or anti-terrorism laws.
  • Holder, in turn, could have ordered the FBI to conduct that investigation.
  • If the FBI found sufficient evidence that these laws had been violated, Holder could have convened criminal grand juries to indict those violators.

Criminally investigating and possibly indicting members of Congress would not violate the separation-of-powers principle. Congressmen have in the past been investigated, indicted and convicted for various criminal offenses.

Such indictments and prosecutions–and especially convictions–would have served notice on current and future members of Congress: The lives and fortunes of American citizens may not be held hostage to gain leverage in a political settlement.

In short: Obama could have replaced the law of fear with the rule of law.

But Obama could have stood up to Republican extortionists in another way: By urging his fellow Americans to rally to him in a moment of supreme national danger.

President John F. Kennedy did just that–successfully–during the most dangerous crisis of his administration.

Addressing the Nation on October 22, 1962, Kennedy shocked his fellow citizens by revealing that the Soviet Union had installed offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba.

John F. Kennedy

Kennedy outlined a series of steps he had taken to end the crisis–most notably, a blockade of Cuba. Then he sought to reassure and inspire his audience:

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.”

President Obama could have sent that same message to the extortionists of the Republican Party–by explaining to the American people:

  • Republicans have adopted the same my-way-or-else “negotiating” stance as Adolf Hitler.
  • Like the Nazis, they are determined to gain absolute power–or destroy the Nation they claim to love.
  • They raised the debt ceiling seven times during the eight-year Presidency of George W. Bush.
  • But now that a Democrat holds the White House, raising the debt ceiling is unacceptable.
  • Despite Republican lies, we cannot revitalize the economy by slashing taxes on the wealthy and on cash-hoarding corporations while cutting benefits for millions of average Americans.
  • We will need both tax increases and sensible entitlement cuts to regain our economic strength.

And he could have ended his speech with a direct call for action by the American people:

“We stand on the edge of economic disaster.  Therefore, I am asking each of you to stand up for America tonight–by demanding the recall of the entire membership of the Republican Party.

“This is the moment when each of us must decide–whether we will survive as a Republic, or allow ruthless political fanatics to destroy what has lasted and thrived for more than 200 years.”

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: President Obama had to choose between timidity and confrontation.

He chose timidity.

He would get contempt and obstruction at every turn.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 18, 2016 at 12:02 am

In November, 1995, Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, carried out his threat to shut down the government. 

Then he unwisely admitted that he did so because President Bill Clinton had put him in the back of Air Force One during a recent trip to Israel.

Newt Gingrich

The shutdown proved a disaster for Republicans. Clinton was handily re-elected in 1996 and Gingrich suddenly resigned from Congress in 1998.

Still, the Republicans continued their policy of my-way-or-else.

In April, 2011, the United States government almost shut down over Republican demands about subsidized pap smears.

During a late-night White House meeting with President Barack Obama and key Congressional leaders, Republican House Speaker John Boehner made this threat:

His conference would not approve funding for the government if any money were allowed to flow to Planned Parenthood through Title X legislation.

Facing an April 8 deadline, negotiators worked day and night to strike a compromise–and finally reached one.

Three months later–on July 9–Republican extortionists again threatened the Nation with financial ruin and international disgrace unless their demands were met.

President Obama had offered to make historic cuts in the federal government and the social safety net–on which millions of Americans depend for their most basic needs.

But House Speaker John Boehner rejected that offer. He could not agree to the tax increases that Democrats wanted to impose on the wealthiest 1% as part of the bargain.

John Boehner

As the calendar moved ever closer to the fateful date of August 2, Republican leaders continued to insist: Any deal that includes taxes “can’t pass the House.”

One senior Republican said talks would go right up to–and maybe beyond–the brink of default.

“I think we’ll be here in August,” said Republican Representative Pete Sessions, of Texas. “We are not going to leave town until a proper deal gets done.”

President Obama had previously insisted on extending the debt ceiling through 2012. But in mid-July, he simply asked congressional leaders to review three options with their members:

  1. The “Grand Bargain” choice—favored by Obama–would cut deficits by about $4 trillion, including spending cuts and new tax revenues.
  2. A medium-range plan would aim to reduce the deficit by about $2 trillion.
  3. The smallest option would cut between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion, without increased tax revenue or any Medicare and Medicaid cuts.

And the Republican response?

Said Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee:“Quite frankly, [Republican] members of Congress are getting tired of what the president won’t do and what the president wants.”

Noted political analyst Chris Matthews summed up the sheer criminality of what happened within the House of Representatives.

Chris Matthews

Speaking on MSNBC’s “Hardball,” on July 28–five days before Congress reached its August 2 deadline to raise the debt-ceiling–Matthews noted:

“The first people to bow to the demands of those threatening to blow up the economy were the Republicans in the House, the leaders. The leaders did what the followers told them to do: meet the demands, hold up the country to get their way.

“Those followers didn’t win the Senate, or the Presidency, just the House.

“But by using the House they were able to hold up the entire United States government. They threatened to blow things up economically and it worked.

“They said they were willing to do that–just to get their way–not by persuasion, not by politics, not by democratic government, but by threatening the destruction of the country’s finances.

“Right. So what’s next? The power grid? Will they next time threaten to close down the country’s electricity and communications systems?”

With the United States teetering on the brink of national bankruptcy, President Obama faced three choices:

  1. Prosecute Republican extortionists under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act;
  2. Seek to rally the American people against a criminal threat to the financial security of the Nation;
  3. Cave in to Republican demands.

Unfortunately for Obama and the Nation, he chose Number Three.

A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama is easily one of the most academically gifted Presidents in United States history.

But for all this, he failed–from the onset of his Presidency–to grasp and apply this fundamental lesson taught by Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science.

In his classic work on politics, The Prince, Machiavelli warns:

From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved. 

The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved…. 

Men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared.  For love is held by a chain of obligations which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose.  But fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails

Obama failed to heed this advice. And, predictably, his sworn enemies–which is what Republicans consider themselves to be–felt free to demonize and obstruct him at every turn.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 17, 2016 at 12:33 am

After winning the bloodless conquest of  Czechoslavakia by threatening France and Britain with war, Adolf Hitler turned his attention to Poland.

When his generals balked, warning that an invasion would trigger a war with France and Britain, Hitler quickly brushed aside their fears: “Our enemies are little worms. I saw them at Munich.”

Adolf Hitler and his generals

Hitler ordered the invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939–unintentionally triggering World War II.

In time, historians and statesmen would regard Munich as an object lesson in the futility–and danger–in appeasing evil and aggression.

But for the postwar Republican party, Hitler’s my-way-or-else “negotiating” methods would become standard operating procedure.

During the summer of 2011, Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling unless Democrats agreed to massively cut social programs for the elderly, poor and disabled.

And while Republicans demanded that the disadvantaged tighten their belts, they rejected any raising of taxes on their foremost constituency–the wealthiest 1%.

To raise taxes on the wealthy, they insisted, would be a “jobs-killer.” It would “discourage” corporate CEOs from creating tens of thousands of jobs they “want” to create.

If Congress failed to raise the borrowing limit of the federal government by August 2, 2011, the date when the U.S. reached the limit of its borrowing abilities, America would begin defaulting on its loans.

As Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, explained the looming economic catastrophe:

“If you don’t send out Social Security checks, I would hate to think about the credit meeting at S&P and Moody’s the next morning.

“If you’re not paying millions and millions and millions of people that range in age from 65 on up, money you promised them, you’re not a AAA,” said Buffett.

A triple-A credit rating is the highest possible rating that can be received.

Republicans knew this argument is a lie. And so did the editors of Time. The difference is, the editors of Time were willing to reveal the truth.

In its June 20, 2011  cover-story on “What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths,” Rana Foroohar, the magazine’s assistant managing editor in charge of economics and business, delivered this warning:

Profit-seeking corporations can’t be relied on to ”make it all better.” 

American companies “are doing quite well,” but most American workers “are earning a lower hourly wage now than they did during the recession.”

Corporations, in short, are doing extremely well. But they don’t spend their profits on American workers.

“There may be $2 trillion sitting on the balance sheets of American corporations globally, but firms show no signs of wanting to spend it in order to hire workers at home.”

In short: Giving even greater tax breaks to mega-corporations–the standard Republican mantra–has not persuaded them to stop “outsourcing” jobs. Nor has it convinced them to start hiring Americans.

Many American companies prefer opening factories in Brazil, China or India to doing so in the United States–and thus creating jobs for American workers.

While embarrassingly overpaid CEOs squander corporate wealth on themselves, millions of Americans can’t afford medical care or must depend on charity to feed their families.

Yet there is also a disconnect between the truth of this situation and the willingness of Americans to face up to that truth.

The reason, writes Foroohar: 

Republicans have convinced most Americans they can revitalize the economy by slashing “taxes on the wealthy and on cash-hoarding corporations while cutting benefits for millions of Americans.”

And she concludes: To restore prosperity America needs both tax increases and cuts in entitlement programs.

Click here: What U.S. Economic Recovery? Five Destructive Myths – TIME

According to Mein Kampf”My Struggle”—Hitler’s autobiography and political treatise:

  1. Most people are ruled by sentiment, not reason.
  2. This sentiment is simple and consistent. It is rooted in notions of love and hatred, right and wrong, truth and falsehood.
  3. Propaganda isn’t based on objective truth but must present only that partof the truth that makes its own side look good.
  4. People are not intelligent, and quickly forget.
  5. Confine propaganda to a few bare essentials and express these in easily-remembered in stereotyped images.
  6. Persistently repeat these slogans until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.

Following these principles, Republicans have proved hugely successful at persuading millions that truth is whatever their party claims it to be at any given moment.

“Fascism,” said author Ernest Hemingway, “is a lie told by bullies.” Thus, when Republicans couldn’t attain their goals by lying, they sought to do so by force–or at least the threat of it.

Republicans have repeatedly threatened to shut down the government unless their constantly escalating demands were met.

In November, 1995, Newt Gingrich, then Speaker of the House of Representatives, carried out his threat. Gingrich unwisely admitted that he did so because President Bill Clinton had put him in the back of Air Force One during a recent trip to Israel.

The shutdown proved a disaster for Republicans. Clinton was handily re-elected in 1996 and Gingrich suddenly resigned from Congress in 1998.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 14, 2016 at 12:02 am

On February 12, 1938, two Chancellors–Adolf Hitler of Germany, and Kurt von Schuschnigg of Austria–met at Hitler’s retreat at Obersalzberg, Germany. At stake lay the future independence of Austria. 

That meeting ended with Hitler’s bullying Schnuschigg into submission. Austria became a vassal-state of Nazi Germany.

Seven months later, in September, 1938, Hitler gave another exhibition of his “negotiating” methods. This time, the target of his rage and aggression was Czechoslovakia.

Once again, he opened “negotiations” with a lie: The Czechoslovak government was trying to exterminate 3.5 million Germans living in the “Sudetenland.”

This consisted of the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia, inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans.

Then he followed this up with the threat of war: Germany would protect its citizens and halt such “oppression.”

For British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the thought of another European war erupting less than 20 years after the end of World War I was simply unthinkable.


The Cenotaph, in London, honoring the unknown British dead of World War 1

Something had to be done to prevent it.  And he believed himself to be just the man to do it.

He quickly sent Hitler a telegram, offering to help resolve the crisis: “I could come to you by air and am ready to leave tomorrow. Please inform me of earliest time you can receive me, and tell me the place of the meeting.  I should be grateful for a very early reply.”

Once again, another head-of-state was prepared to meet Hitler on his home ground. Again, Hitler took this concession as a sign of weakness. And Chamberlain’s use of such words as “please” and “grateful” only further convinced Hitler of another impending triumph.

Chamberlain was determined to grant his every demand–so long as this meant avoiding a second world war.

The two European leaders met in Berchtesgaden, Germany, on September 15, 1938.

Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler

During their talks, Chamberlain said he had come to discuss German grievances. But, he added, it was necessary in all circumstances to exclude the use of force.

Hitler appeared to be shocked that he could be accused of such intentions: “Force? Who speaks of force?“

Then, without warning, he switched to an aggressive mode. He accused the Czechs of having mobilized their army in May. They had mobilized–in response to the mobilization of the German army.

“I shall not put up with this any longer,” shouted Hitler. “I shall settle this question in one way or another. I shall take matters in my own hands!”

Suddenly, Chamberlain seemed alarmed–and possibly angry: “If I understood you right, you are determined to proceed against Czechoslovakia in any case. If this is so, why did you let me come to Berchtesgaden?

“In the circumstances, it is best for me to return at once. Anything else now seems pointless.”

Hitler was taken aback by the unexpected show of defiance. He realized he was about to lose his chance to bully the British into accepting his latest demands.

So he softened his tone and said they should consider the Sudetenland according to the principle of self-determination.

Chamberlain said he must immediately return to England to consult with his colleagues. Hitler appeared uneasy. But then the German translator finished the sentence: “…and then meet you again.” Hitler realized he still had a chance to attain victory without going to war.

Chamberlain agreed to the cession of the Sudetenland. Three days later, French Prime Minister Edouard Daladier did the same. No Czechoslovak representative was invited to these discussions.

Chamberlain met Hitler again in Godesberg, Germany, on September 22 to confirm the agreements. But Hitler aimed to use the crisis as a pretext for war.

He now demanded not only the annexation of the Sudetenland but the immediate military occupation of the territories. This would give the Czechoslovak army no time to adapt their defense measures to the new borders.

To achieve a solution, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini suggested a conference of the major powers in Munich.

On September 29, Hitler, Daladier and Chamberlain met and agreed to Mussolini’s proposal. They signed the Munich Agreement, which accepted the immediate occupation of the Sudetenland.

The Czechoslovak government had not been a party to the talks. Nevertheless, it promised to abide by the agreement on September 30.

It actually had no choice. It faced the threat of an immediate German invasion after being deserted by its pledged allies: Britain, France and the Soviet Union.

Chamberlain returned to England a hero. Holding aloft a copy of the worthless agreement he had signed with Hitler, he told cheering crowds in London: “I believe it is peace for our time.”

Neville Chamberlain

Winston Churchill knew better, predicting: “Britain and France had to choose between war and dishonor. They chose dishonor. They will have war.”

Hitler—still planning more conquests–also knew better. In March, 1939, the German army occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia.

Chamberlain would soon be seen as a naive weakling–even before bombs started falling on London.

Hitler next turned his attention–and demands–to Poland.


In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 13, 2016 at 12:57 am

Robert Payne, author of the bestselling biography, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler (1973), described Hitler’s “negotiating” style thus: 

“Although Hitler prized his own talents as a negotiator, a man always capable of striking a good bargain, he was totally lacking in finesse. 

“He was incapable of bargaining.  He was like a man who goes up to a fruit peddler and threatens to blow his brains out if he does not sell his applies at the lowest possible price.” 

By studying Hitler’s mindset and “negotiating” methods, we can learn much about the mindset and “negotiating” style of today’s Republican party.

A classic example of Hitler’s “bargaining style” came in 1938, when he invited Austrian Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg to his mountaintop retreat in Obersalzberg, Germany. 

Hitler, an Austrian by birth, intended to annex his native land to Germany. Schuschnigg was aware of Hitler’s desire, but nevertheless felt secure in accepting the invitation. He had been assured that the question of Austrian sovereignty would not arise.

 Kurt von Schuschnigg

The meeting occurred on February 12, 1938.

Shuschnigg opened the discussion with a friendly compliment. Walking over to a large window, he admired the breathtaking view of the mountains.

HITLER: We haven’t come here to talk about the lovely view or the weather!

Austria has anyway never done anything which was of help to the German Reich….I am resolutely determined to make an end to all this business.  The German Reich is a great power.  Nobody can and nobody will interfere if it restores order on its frontiers. 

SCHUSCHNIGG: I am aware of your attitude toward the Austrian question and toward Austrian history….As we Austrians see it, the whole of our history is a very essential and valuable part of German history….And Austria’s contribution is a considerable one.

HITLER: It is absolutely zero—that I can assure you!  Every national impulse has been trampled underfoot by Austria….

I could call myself an Austrian with just the same right—indeed with even more right—than you, Herr Schuschnigg. Why don’t you once try a plebiscite in Austria in which you and I run against each other? Then you would see!  

SCHUSCHNIGG: Well, yes, if that were possible. But your know yourself, Herr Reich Chancellor, that it just isn’t possible. We simply have to go on living alongside one another, the little state next to the big one. We have no other choice.

And that is why I ask you to tell me what your concrete complaints are. We will do all in our power to sort things out and establish a friendly relationship, as far as it is possible to do so.

HITLER: That’s what you say, Herr Schuschnigg. And I am telling you that I intend to clear up the whole of the so-called Austrian question–one way or another. Do you think I don’t know that you are fortifying Austria’s border with the Reich? 

SCHUSCHNIGG: There can be no suggestion at all of that—

HITLER: Ridiculous explosive chambers are being built under bridges and roads—

This was a lie, and Hitler knew it was a lie. But no matter. It gave him an excuse to threaten to destroy Austria—as he was to destroy so many other nations during the next seven years. 

HITLER: I have only to give one command and all this comic stuff on the border will be blown to pieces overnight. You don’t seriously think you could hold me up, even for half an hour, do you?

Who knows—perhaps you will find me one morning in Vienna like a spring storm. Then you will go through something!  I’d like to spare the Austrians that. 

The S.A. [Hitler’s private army of Stormtroopers] and the [Condor] lLegion [which had bombed much of Spain into rubble during the three-year Spanish Civil War] would come in after the troops and nobody–not even I–could stop them from wreaking vengeance.

* * * * *

Schnuschigg made a cardinal mistake in dealing with Hitler: He showed fear.  And this was precisely what the Nazi dictator looked for in an opponent.

Contrary to popular belief, Hitler did not constantly rage at everyone.  On the contrary: he could, when he desired, be charming, especially to women.  He used rage as a weapon, knowing that most people feel intimidated by it.

In the case of Schuschnigg, he opened with insults and threats at the outset of their discussion.  Then there was a period of calm, to convince the Austrian chancellor the worst was over.

Finally, he once again attacked–this time with so much fury that Schuschnigg was terrified into submission.

With one stroke of a pen, Austria became a vassal-state to Nazi Germany.

Republicans used precisely the same “negotiating” style during the summer of 2011 to threaten the United States with financial ruin unless they got their way in budget negotiations.

And they threatened to do the same again that fall.

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