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Posts Tagged ‘2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION’

BLACKS AND CRIME: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 20, 2022 at 12:12 am

On August 23, 2021, Jacob S. Blake, a 29-year-old black man, was shot and seriously injured by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The shooting occurred as officers attempted to arrest him. Blake was tasered as he scuffled with police. When he opened the driver’s door to his SUV and leaned in, Officer Rusten Sheskey fired seven shots, striking him four times in the back.

Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down, and may never walk again.

Protests followed.

Kenosha County declared a state of emergency overnight on August 24 after police vehicles were damaged, a dump truck set on fire, and the local courthouse vandalized. Police urged 24-hour businesses to close owing to armed robberies and shots being fired. Up to 200 members of the Wisconsin National Guard were deployed to maintain public safety.

Missing from the story—in most news media—has been one crucial fact:

At the time of the shooting, Blake faced a criminal complaint charging him with third-degree sexual assault in connection with domestic abuse on July 6. 

The officers had come to arrest Blake for violating a restraining order stemming from that complaint. A 911 call on  August 23 alerted them that Blake was at the home of his alleged victim. 

Restraining order - Wikipedia

A sample restraining order

The restraining order stemmed from a criminal complaint, which accused Blake of breaking into the home of a woman he knew and sexually assaulting her in May. The victim told police she was asleep when Blake broke in at 6 a.m. and said, “I want my shit.”

She told police that Blake used his finger to sexually assault her. She said the incident “caused her pain and humiliation and was done without her consent.” 

After Blake left, she realized her keys were missing and “immediately called 911,” the complaint said.

An arrest warrant was issued on July 7.

On August 9, 2014, a similar police/media incident had occurred.

Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, was fatally shot by a white police officer named Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. 

Brown’s 22-year-old friend, Dorian Johnson claimed that Wilson shot him in the back. Wilson claimed he shot Brown after the latter charged at him.

An FBI investigation found that there was no evidence that Brown had his hands up in surrender or said “don’t shoot” before he was shot. It also found that Brown was struck six times, all in the front of his body.

The shooting ignited nationwide protests. 

Yet many of the media “covering” the story refused to note that, shortly before his shooting, a video camera taped Brown robbing a grocery store and manhandling its owner.

Michael Brown (left) roughing up a store owner

Had this been more widely noted, “Saint Michael” would have been seen as a mere thug who learned that assaulting a cop wasn’t the same as attacking a store owner. 

On May 25, George Floyd, a former black security guard, was murdered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. 

Two men on an asphalt surface, behind a black van on which the letters "EAPOLIS" is seen, with a license plate ending "ICE". One man has light skin, a blue shirt with identifying badges on his chest and shoulder, black pants and boots, and black sunglasses pushed to the top of his close-shorn head. He is kneeling with his left knee and upper shin resting on the neck of the other man, and his right knee out of sight behind the van. The other man is lying prone, with his left cheek pressed against the asphalt close to a painted line. He is dark-skinned, with similarly short hair, and is not wearing a shirt; His mouth is slightly open, his eyes are closed with his eyebrows raised, and his arms are down, not visible behind the van. The kneeling man has his left hand in a dark glove, with his right arm hidden behind the van, and is looking at the viewer with his eyebrows slightly lifted and mouth slightly open.

Death of George Floyd

Across the nation, cities were convulsed by protests—including those in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among these: Oakland, San Jose, Emeryville, Walnut Creek and San Francisco itself.

On May 30, an initially peaceful protest march exploded into looting shortly before 9 p.m. as looters broke off and began smashing shop windows and ransacking stores in Union Square and on Market Street.

Among stores looted: A Sak’s Off-Fifth Avenue, an Old Navy clothing store, a Cartier Boutique and a Coach store. Looters especially targeted CVS and Walgreens drugstores. Liquor stores and a BevMo were also hit.

“Thirty businesses were looted or destroyed,” said David Perry, from Union Square Business Improvement District. 

Undoubtedly many of victims of those looters and arsonists had been horrified by the Floyd killing. But many of them undoubtedly lost sympathy for the Black Lives Matter movement as they surveyed the wreckage of their stores. 

Store owners were infuriated at having to replace stock that had been stolen or destroyed. And employees resented having to clean up the wreckage. Some stores no doubt were forced to close, leaving their former employees suddenly jobless.

And President Donald Trump quickly moved to capitalize on that resentment. His brand of “divide and rule” politics brought him to the White House in 2016. And he was determined to play on white fears of further black crime to win a second term.

White fears of black crime are reflected in the crime rate statistics for New York City.

While Blacks make up 24.3% of New York City’s population, they comprise:

  • 58.0% of its murder and non-negligent manslaughter arrests;
  • 40.7% of its rape arrests;
  • 34.6% of its known other felony sex crime arrests;
  • 59.4% of its robbery arrests;
  • 51.8% of its felonious assault arrests;
  • 51.7% of its grand larceny arrests;
  • 71.6% of its shooting arrests;
  • 45.0% of its drug felony arrests;
  • 48.5% of its drug misdemeanor arrests;
  • 54.7% of its felony stolen property arrests;
  • 45.9% of its misdemeanor stolen property arrests;
  • 51.8% of its violent crime suspects;
  • 60.0% of its juvenile crime complaint arrests.

This is admittedly unfair to those blacks who are law-abiding citizens. But the fear factor will continue until crime rates among blacks start falling dramatically.

BLACKS AND CRIME: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 19, 2022 at 12:10 am

On May 16, a white supremacist shot and murdered 10 people and wounded three others at the Tops Supermarket in Buffalo, New York. 

Eleven victims were black; two were white. 

The mass shooting has once again ignited calls for gun control and a national dialogue on race.

Undoubtedly the motivation for the killings was race. But the sensationalistic publicity given this crime obscures a brutal truth ignored by liberals—and blacks:

Blacks kill far more blacks than whites do. And blacks are responsible for a disproportionate portion of crimes.

Blacks make up 13% of the American population, according to the 2010 census of the United States.

But they committed 52% of homicides between 1980 and 2008, according to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics. Only 45% of whites were offenders in such cases.

Blacks were disproportionately likely to commit homicide and to be the victims.

In 2008 blacks were seven times more likely than whites to commit homicide. And they were six times more likely than whites to be homicide victims.

According to the FBI, blacks were responsible for 38% of murders, compared to 31.1% for whites, in 2013.

From 2011 to 2013, 38.5% of people arrested for murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault were black.

In 1971, Robert Daley, a reporter for the New York Times, became a deputy police commissioner for the New York Police Department (NYPD).

In that capacity, he saw the NYPD from the highest levels to the lowest—from the ornate, awe-inspiring office of Police Commissioner Patrick Murphy to the gritty, sometimes blood-soaked streets of New York.

He spent one year on the job before resigning—later admitting that when he agreed to take the job, he got more than he bargained for.

For the NYPD, 1972 proved to be a tumultuous year. Among those challenge faced were the murders of several police officers, committed by members of the militant Black Liberation Army.

Two of those murdered officers were Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini. Jones was black, Piagentini white; both were partners. Both were shot in the back without a chance to defend themselves.

Writing about these murders in a bestselling 1973 book—Target Blue: An Insider’s View of the N.Y.P.D.—Daley noted:

  • Jones and Piagentini were the sixth and seventh policemen—of ten—murdered in 1971. 
  • About 18 men were involved in these murders.  All were black.
  • The city’s politicians knew this—and so did Commissioner Murphy.  None dared say so publicly.

“But the fact remained,” wrote Daley, “that approximately 65% of the city’s arrested murderers, muggers, armed robbers, proved to be black men; about 15% were of Hispanic origin; and about 20% were white [my Italics].”

Related image

The overall racial breakdown of the city was approximately:

  • Whites, 63%;
  • Blacks, 20%;
  • Hispanics 17%.

Stated another way: Blacks, who made up 20% of the city’s population, were responsible for 65% of the city’s major crimes.

Or, as Daley himself put it: “So the dangerous precincts, any cop would tell you, were the black precincts.”

That was 50 years ago.

Now, consider the following statistics released by the NYPD for “Crime and Enforcement Activity in New York City” in 2019:

Family Secrets | Blue Bloods Wiki | Fandom

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Victims

  • Black (56.6%)
  • Hispanic (31.2%)
  • White (4.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (6.9%) 

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Suspects

  • Black (62.4%)
  • Hispanic (30.8%)
  • White (3.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.8%)

Murder and Non-Negligent Manslaughter Arrestees

  • Black 58.0%
  • Hispanic 35.2%
  • White 3.3% 
  • Asian/Pacific Islander 3.0%

Rape Victims

  • Black (38.4%)
  • Hispanic (35.4%)
  • White victims (18.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (8.0%)

Rape Suspects

  • Black 46.5%)
  • Hispanic (34.8%)
  • White (10.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.3%)

Rape Arrestees

  • Black (40.7%)
  • Hispanic (45.4%
  • )White (6.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.0%)

Image

NYPD Headquarters at One Police Plaza

Other Felony Sex Crimes Victims

  • Black (33.8%)
  • Hispanic (37.3%)
  • White (21.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.0%)

Other Felony Sex Crime Suspects

  • Black (41.6%)
  • Hispanic (37.5%)
  • White (12.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (7.3%)

Other Felony Sex Crime Arrestees

  • Black (34.6%)
  • Hispanic (47.4%)
  • White (11.3%)
  • Asian /Pacific Islander (6.4%)

Robbery Victims

  • Hispanic (39.5%)
  • Black (29.5%)
  • White (14.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (15.6%)

Robbery Suspects

  • Black (66.2%
  • Hispanic (27.1%)
  • White (4.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific islander (2.3%)

Robbery Arrestees

  • Black (59.4%)
  • Hispanic (32.2%)
  • White (5.2%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.2%)

Misdemeanor Assault Victims 

  • Black (39.7%)
  • Hispanic (36.5%)
  • White (14.1%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (9.0%)

Misdemeanor Assault Suspects 

  • Black (51.1%)
  • Hispanic (33.0%)
  • White (9.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.6%)

Misdemeanor Assault Arrestees

  • Black (47.2%)
  • Hispanic (35.8%)
  • White (10.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.6%)

Felonious Assault Victims   

  • Black (45.1%)
  • Hispanic (34.4%)
  • White (12.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (7.7%)

Felonious Assault Suspects

  • Black (53.4%)
  • Hispanic (32.6%)
  • White (7.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.8%)

Felonious Assault Arrestees

  • Black (51. 8%)
  • Hispanic (33.1%)
  • White (8.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.4%)

Grand Larceny Victims

  • Black (24.4%)
  • Hispanic (23.0%)
  • White (35.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (15.7%)

Grand Larceny Suspects

  • Black (50.5%)
  • Hispanic (23.5%)
  • White (11.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.9%)

Grand Larceny Arrestees

  • Black (51.7%) 
  • Hispanic (28.5%)
  • White (13.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (6.0%)

Firearm Arrest Population

  • Black (71.4%)
  • Hispanic (24.2%)
  • White (2.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.9%)

Shooting Victims

  • Black (70.9%)
  • Hispanic (23.1%)
  • White (4.3%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (1.6%)

Shooting Suspects

  • Black (74.4%)
  • Hispanic (22.0%)
  • White (2.4%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (1.1%)

Shooting Arrestees

  • Black (71.6%)
  • Hispanic (24.1%)
  • White (2.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (1.5%)

Drug Felony Arrest Population

  • Black (45.0%)
  • Hispanic (40.2%)
  • White (9.7%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (4.9%)

Drug Misdemeanor Arrestees

  • Black (48.5%)
  • Hispanic (35.3%)
  • White (12.5%)
  • Asian Pacific Islanders (3.6%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Victims

  • Black (35.5%)
  • Hispanic (36.7%)
  • White (18.6%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.6%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Suspects

  • Black (42.4%)
  • Hispanic (34.2%)
  • White (14.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.7%)

Misdemeanor Sex Crime Arrestees

  • Black (52.5%)
  • Hispanic (28.9%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (4.0%)

Misdemeanor Stolen Property Arrest Population

  • Black (45.9%)
  • Hispanic (31.9%)
  • White (16.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.1%)

Felony Stolen Property Arrest Population

  • Black (54.7%)
  • Hispanic (28.6%)
  • White (11.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (5.0%)

Petit Larceny Victims

  • Black (31.6%) 
  • Hispanic (29.9%) 
  • White (28.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (12.7%)

Petit Larceny Suspects

  • Black (53.8%) 
  • Hispanic (26.8%) 
  • White (15.7%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.3%)

Petit Larceny Arrestees

  • Black (44.7%) 
  • Hispanic (32.5%) 
  • White (17.9%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (3.3%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Victims

  • Black (38.5%) 
  • Hispanic (29.8%) 
  • White (19.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islanders (11.2%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Suspects

  • Black (51.0%)
  • Hispanic (29.6%)
  • White (14.8%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (4.3%)

Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief Arrestees

  • Black (44.9%)
  • Hispanic (33.3%)
  • White (16.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (5.1%)

Reported Crime Complaint Juvenile Victims

  • Black (39.79%)
  • Hispanic (37.0%)
  • White (14.5%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (8.3%)

Juvenile Crime Complaint Suspects

  • Black (60.4%)
  • Hispanic (30.4%)
  • White (6.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.0%)

Juvenile Arrest Population

  • Black (60.0%)
  • Hispanic (32.0%)
  • White (6.0%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (3.0%)

TRUMP AND TRAGEDY: PART THREE (END)

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

For historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson, Donald Trump possesses an unappreciated self-awareness and sense of what it means to be a tragic hero.

Trump was into the first year of his Presidency when Hanson penned his article, “Donald Trump, Tragic Hero,” published on April 12, 2018. 

To make his case, Hanson cites a series of popular Western movies featuring lethal men who risk—and sometimes sacrifice—their lives on behalf of others too weak to vanquish evil on their own.

Victor Davis Hanson (@VDHanson) | Twitter

Victor Davis Hanson

Thus in the classic 1960 film, The Magnificent Seven, the Seven slaughter the outlaw Calvera and his banditos—and then ride into the sunset. As they do, Chris (Yul Brynner) tells Vin (Steve McQueen): “The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose.”

Writes Hanson: “He knows that few appreciate that the tragic heroes in their midst are either tragic or heroic — until they are safely gone and what they have done in time can be attributed to someone else. Worse, he knows that the tragic hero’s existence is solitary and without the nourishing networks and affirmation of the peasant’s agrarian life.”

Chris may know this, but there is absolutely no evidence that Trump does. He has never shown even an awareness of sensitivity and self-knowledge, let alone the possession of either. Trump is at best semi-literate. The concept of tragedy—as expressed in the Greek tragedies to which Hanson refers throughout his article—means nothing to Trump.

Moreover, the Seven have risked their lives—and four of them have died doing so—on behalf of villagers who can pay them almost nothing.

It is inconceivable that Trump would risk anything—especially his life—for people he regarded as poor and thus unworthy of his concern.

The Magnificent Seven (1960 poster).jpg

Copyright © 1960 – United Artists Corporation.”, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In their first encounter with Calvera (Eli Wallach) the bandit chief offers to make the Seven partners in his ravaging of the village. Of his intended victims, Calvera sneers: “If God had not wanted them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

If Trump had heard Calvera’s offer, he would have instantly accepted it.

In June 2016, USA Today published an analysis of litigation involving Trump. Over the previous 30 years, Trump and his businesses had been involved in 3,500 legal cases in U.S. Federal and state courts.

Of the 3,500 suits, Trump or one of his companies were plaintiffs in 1,900; defendants in 1,450; and bankruptcy, third party, or other in 150. Trump was named in at least 169 suits in federal court.

Many of those cases centered around his refusal to pay contractors for their finished work on his properties. Most of the contractors didn’t have the financial resources—as Trump had—to spend years in court trying to obtain the monies they were owed. As a result, they never received payment—or, at best, only a small portion of what they were owed.

When he ran for President in 2015-16, Trump repeatedly promised poor and middle-class Americans a far better plan for medical care than the Affordable Care Act. 

He spent the next four years thuggishly trying to dismantle “Obanacare,” the signature achievement of Barack Obama, America’s first black President. But never did he offer even a general outline of his own alleged plan to “replace” it. 

Hanson tries to draw a further parallel between Trump and the fictional Tom Doniphon, the unsung hero of John Ford’s 1962 movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962 poster).jpg

Copyright © 1962 Paramount Pictures Corporation and John Ford Productions, Inc.”, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Hanson sums up the movie thus:

“Tom Doniphon (John Wayne)…unheroically kills the thuggish Liberty Valance [Lee Marvin], births the [political] career of Ranse Stoddard [James Stewart] and his marriage to Doniphon’s girlfriend [Vera Miles] and thereby ensures civilization is Shinbone’s frontier future. His service done, he burns down his house and degenerates from feared rancher to alcoholic outcast.” 

It is inconceivable that Trump would take the risk of committing a crime on behalf of someone else—or being able to resist bragging about it if he did. It is equally inconceivable that he would give up a woman he wanted for the happiness of another man.

Most unbelievable of all is the suggestion that Trump would imitate Doniphon by quietly riding off into the sunset.

Trump has often “joked” about becoming “President-for-Life.” After losing the November 3 Presidential election to former Vice President Joe Biden, he filed 60 lawsuits to overturn the will of 80 million voters. Those failing, he tried some old-fashioned but unsuccessful arm-twisting of several state lawmakers to “find” non-existent votes for him.

Finally, on January 6, he incited a mob of his fanatical followers to attack the United States Capitol Building. Their mission: Stop the counting of Electoral College ballots certain to give Biden the victory.   

Victor Davis Hanson is a brilliant scholar and colorful writer. But his effort on Trump’s behalf is embarrassing and appalling.

In a series of bestselling books, he has eloquently chronicled the heroism of the ancient Greeks in defending their budding democracy.

It is depressing—and frightening—to discover that this same man can blatantly ignore the criminalities and even treason of the greatest and most destructive tyrant to ever attain the Presidency.

TRUMP AND TRAGEDY: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Entertainment, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on May 3, 2022 at 12:13 am

Victor Davis Hanson has long been a distinguished historian and classicist at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

On April 12, 2018, the year before the publication of The Case for Trump, Hanson offered a preview of its upcoming contents in an article published in the well-known conservative magazine, National Review

Its title: “Donald Trump, Tragic Hero.”

“The very idea that Donald Trump could, even in a perverse way, be heroic may appall half the country,” begins his first paragraph. 

“Nonetheless, one way of understanding both Trump’s personal excesses and his accomplishments is that his not being traditionally presidential may have been valuable in bringing long-overdue changes in foreign and domestic policy.”

Related image

Donald Trump

Having laid out his thesis, Hanson writes: “Tragic heroes, as they have been portrayed from Sophocles’ plays (e.g., AjaxAntigoneOedipus RexPhiloctetes) to the modern western film, are not intrinsically noble.”

On the contrary: A true tragic figure is a noble character with a fatal flaw, which ultimately destroys him.

To cite one from literature: Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hamlet believes that his father, the king of Denmark, has been murdered. He believes the murderer may be his uncle, Claudius, who has seized the throne. Hamlet is brilliant, athletic, supremely eloquent and conscientious. But he’s not completely certain that Claudius is guilty, and in his hesitation to strike he lays the seeds for his own destruction. 

To cite one from history: British General Charles George Gordon, sent by the British government in 1884 to evacuate the Sudanese city of Khartoum. But instead of evacuating its citizens, he chose to stay and fight the oncoming army of Mohammed Achmed, an Islamic religious fanatic who called himself The Madhi (“The Expected One”).

Although Gordon’s dynamic leadership enabled the city to hold out for almost a year, the British relief force arrived too late. The city was overwhelmed and Gordon himself killed.

Various theories have emerged to explain his motive: He was a religious fanatic; he had a death wish; he was arrogant to believe he could hold off an entire army. Any one or more of these theories could be correct. 

Charles George Gordon - Wicipedia

Charles George Gordon

But the fact remains that for almost an entire year he kept alive about 30,000 men, women and children. It was only the failure of the British to send a relief army in time that allowed the city—and Gordon—to perish. 

Tragic heroes always have a cause that is bigger than life—something that makes giving up life worthwhile. They always recognize this, and they have the ability to put into perspective the ultimate sacrifice—giving up life—for the good of something bigger. 

Which brings us back to Trump. Apart from being a five-times draft-dodger during the Vietnam war, he has never made an act of professional or personal sacrifice for anyone.

On the contrary: he has been forced to shut down both his Trump Foundation and unaccredited Trump University.

Trump was forced to pay more than $2 million in court-ordered damages to eight different charities for illegally misusing charitable funds at the Foundation for political purposes.

And his university scammed its students, promising to teach them “the secrets of success” in the real estate industry—then delivering nothing. In 2016, a federal court approved a $25 million settlement  with many of those students.

This is hardly the stuff of which tragic heroes are made.

The Controversy Surrounding Trump University - ABC News

Hanson cites several examples from famous Western movies to make his case that Trump deserves the status of a tragic hero. 

One of these is the classic 1953 “Shane,” starring Alan Ladd as the soft-spoken gunfighter who intervenes decisively in a range war.

Writes Hanson:

“He alone possesses the violent skills necessary to free the homesteaders from the insidious threats of hired guns and murderous cattle barons. Yet by the time of his final resort to lethal violence, Shane has sacrificed all prior chances of reform and claims on reentering the civilized world of the stable ‘sodbuster’ community.”

Comparing Trump to Shane is unbelievably ludicrous. Shane doesn’t boast about his past—in fact, this remains a mystery throughout the movie. Trump constantly brags—about the money he’s made, the buildings he’s put up, the women he’s bedded, the enemies he’s crushed (or plans to).

Moreover, Shane takes the side of poor homesteaders at the mercy of a rich cattle baron, Rufus Ryker. Ryker tries to bully the homesteaders into leaving. When that fails, he hires a ruthless gunman named Jack Wilson (Jack Palance).

In the film’s climax, Shane kills Wilson, and then Ryker, in a barroom showdown. Then he rides off—much to the sadness of Joey (Brandon de Wilde), the homesteaders’ son he has befriended.

“There’s no living with a killing,” says Shane. “There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. And a brand sticks.”

And so he rides on, knowing that his gunfighter’s skills make him an outcast among those very homesteaders whose lives he’s saved.

If Trump appeared in the movie, it would be as Ryker, not Shane.

Shane empathizes with the plight of others. Ryker–like Trump–hires others to do his dirty work. 

TRUMP AND TRAGEDY: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 2, 2022 at 12:10 am

“America needs the outsider Trump to do what normal politicians would not and could not do.”

That was the assertion made by Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California.

Among his bestsellers on military history:

  • The Second World Wars
  • Carnage and Culture
  • Wars of the Ancient Greeks
  • The Western Way of War
  • The Soul of Battle: How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny

Historian Victor Davis Hanson said there has been no consequences for the wrongdoing by elites in society and warned that republics and successful states fall apart when the elites fall out of touch with the people."We have a whole bunch... here at home, that feel they can dictate to people and they're never subject to the ramifications of their own ideology and policy," he said of elites. "And it's like the emperor has no clothes and then they're surprised that Trump won or surprised that peo

Victor Davis Hanson

In 2019, Hanson turned his attention to politics—specifically, The Case for Trump.

Its dust-jacket provides a useful summary of its contents:

“This New York Times bestselling Trump biography from a major American intellectual explains how a renegade businessman became one of the most successful—and necessary—presidents of all time.

“In The Case for Trump, award-winning historian and political commentator Victor Davis Hanson explains how a celebrity businessman with no political or military experience triumphed over sixteen well-qualified Republican rivals, a Democrat with a quarter-billion-dollar war chest, and a hostile media and Washington establishment to become president of the United States — and an extremely successful president.

“Trump alone saw a political opportunity in defending the working people of America’s interior whom the coastal elite of both parties had come to scorn, Hanson argues. And Trump alone had the instincts and energy to pursue this opening to victory, dismantle a corrupt old order, and bring long-overdue policy changes at home and abroad.”

The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson | Basic Books

Hanson’s book appeared before Trump:

  • Tried to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to smear former Vice President Joseph Biden, who was likely to be his Democratic opponent in the 2020 Presidential election.
  • Allowed the deadly COVID-19 virus to ravage the country, killing more than 400,000 Americans by the time he left office. 
  • Attacked medical experts and governors who urged Americans to wear masks and socially distance to protect themselves from COVID-19.
  • Ordered his Right-wing followers to defy states’ orders to citizens to stay-at-home and wear masks in public to halt surging COVID-19 rates.
  • Became the first President in American history to refuse to accept the results of a Presidential election.
  • Tried to overturn the November 3, 2020 election of Joe Biden through 60 lawsuits and the arm-twisting of several state lawmakers.
  • Sent a mob of his fanatical followers  to attack the United States Capitol Building. Their mission: Stop the counting of Electoral College ballots certain to give Biden the victory.         
  • Was twice impeached during his four years in office—the only President to be impeached twice (and acquitted by a Republican Senate which ignored his litany of crimes).

But his book appeared after Trump had:

  • Fired FBI Director James Comey for pursuing ties between Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign and Russian Intelligence agents.
  • Tried to fire Independent Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who was assigned to investigate those ties after Trump fired Comey. 
  • Attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions for refusing to fire Mueller.
  • Attacked the integrity of Federal judges whose rulings he disagreed with.
  • Given Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey  Kislyak highly classified CIA Intelligence about an Islamic State plot to turn laptops into concealable bombs.
  • Amassed an infamous record as a serial liar, in both personal and Presidential matters.
  • Attacked the integrity of the American Intelligence community.
  • Sided with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency which unanimously agreed that Russia had subverted the 2016 Presidential election.
  • Repeatedly attacked the nation’s free press for daring to report his growing list of crimes and disasters, calling it “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Branded America’s longtime ally, Canada, as “a national security threat.”
  • Praised brutal Communist dictators Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
  • Shut down the Federal Government for 35 days because Democrats refused to fund his ineffective “border wall” between the United States and Mexico. An estimated 380,000 government employees were furloughed and another 420,000 were ordered to work without pay. The shutdown ended due to public outrage—without Trump getting the funding amount he had demanded. 

So much for Hanson’s claims that Trump had been “one of the most successful—and necessary—presidents of all time.”

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Donald Trump

Then there’s Hanson’s claim that “Trump alone saw a political opportunity in defending the working people of America’s interior whom the coastal elite of both parties had come to scorn.” 

In November, 2017, Trump and a Republican-dominated House and Senate rammed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 through Congress. It became law on December 22, 2017.

According to Chye-Ching Huang, Director of Federal Fiscal Policy, the law did nothing to help ordinary Americans.

Testifying before the House Budget Committee on February 27, 2019, Huang stated that the law:

  • Ignored the stagnation of working-class wages and exacerbated inequality;
  • Weakened revenues when the nation needed to raise more;  
  • Encouraged rampant tax avoidance and gaming that will undermine the integrity of the tax code; 
  • Left behind low- and moderate-income Americans—and in many ways hurt them.

For American corporations, however, the law was a godsend: 

  • Cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent;
  • Shifting toward a territorial tax system, where multinational corporations’ foreign profits go largely untaxed;
  • Benefitting overwhelmingly wealthy shareholders and highly paid executives.

This was hardly an attempt at “defending the working people of America’s interior.”

Trump never made another attempt to “reform” the tax laws.

HEROES AND VILLAINS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 21, 2022 at 12:10 am

Next hero: Marie Yovanovitch, the former United States ambassador to Ukraine (2016 – 2019). She had joined the Foreign Service in 1986, and served as ambassador to Kyrgyzstan (2005 – 2008) and Armenia (2008 – 2011).

In May 2019, on President Donald Trump’s orders, the State Department recalled Yovanovitch as ambassador to Ukraine. She had earned respect from the national security community for her efforts to encourage Ukraine to tackle corruption.

But she had been criticized by Right-wing media outlets—notably Fox News Network-–and by Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani.

Marie L. Yovanovitch.jpg

Marie Yovanovitch

CNN reported that Yovanovitch stopped Giuliani from interviewing witnesses in his search for politically damaging information against former Vice President Joe Biden, whose son, Hunter, had had business dealings in Ukraine.

On October 11, 2019, she appeared before the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA). She did so in defiance of orders by the White House and State Department to not attend.

“She was a hero even before she hit the hearing room,” wrote Charles Pierce for Esquire magazine.

“She told them to stuff their directives, she would answer a congressional subpoena like a citizen is supposed to do. And she didn’t sneak in through the basement. She walked into the Capitol through the front doors, and she didn’t do so to fck around.”

Testifying for nearly 10 hours, Yovanovitch said that Trump had removed her from her post owing to “unfounded and false claims” and “a concerted campaign against me.”

She believed that associates of Trump’s personal lawyer, Giuliani, might have thought “that their personal financial ambitions were stymied by our anti-corruption policy in Ukraine.”

And she warned that the State Department was being “attacked and hollowed out from within. State Department leadership, with Congress, needs to take action now to defend this great institution, and its thousands of loyal and effective employees.”

Another victim on Trump’s hate-list was Chis Krebs.

During the 2016 Presidential race, Russian propaganda had played a major role in convincing millions of Americans to vote for Donald Trump. Social media platforms—especially Facebook and Twitter—were flooded with genuinely fake news to sow discord among Americans and create a pathway for Trump’s election.

And where Internet trolls left off, Russian computer hackers took over.

Trump didn’t win a majority of the popular vote. But he got enough help from Russian President Vladimir Putin to triumph in the Electoral College.

So notorious was the role played by Russian trolls and hackers in winning Trump the 2016 election that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was determined to prevent a repetition in 2020.

And point man for this was Chris Krebs.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1977, Krebs had received a B.A. in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia in 1999, and a J.D. from the George Mason University School of Law in 2007.

Chris Krebs official photo.jpg

Chris Krebs

Krebs had served as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection, and later worked in the private sector as Director for Cybersecurity Policy for Microsoft.

Now he was director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at DHS.

In preparation for the 2020 Presidential election, Krebs launched a massive effort to counter lies spread by Russians—and Americans—on social media platforms. Among his duties:

  • Sharing Intelligence from agencies such as the CIA and National Security Agency with local officials about foreign efforts at election interference.
  • Ensuring that domestic voting equipment was secure.
  • Attacking domestic misinformation head-on.

As a result, Krebs was widely praised for revamping the department’s cybersecurity efforts and increasing coordination with state and local governments. 

By all accounts—except Trump’s—the November 3, 2020 election went very smoothly. 

As a result of the vast increase in election security, Trump not only failed to win the popular vote again but couldn’t get the help he expected from Putin. 

On November 17, Trump fired Chris Krebs. 

The reason: Krebs had not only countered Russian propaganda lies—he had dared to counter Trump’s as well. For example: He rejected Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud: There “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

In a November 17 story on the CNN website, CNN reporters Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc bluntly concluded:

“[Krebs’] dismissal underscores the lengths Trump is willing to go to punish those who don’t adopt his conspiratorial view of the election.

“Since CNN and other outlets called the race for President-elect Joe Biden, Trump has refused to accept the results, instead pushing baseless conspiracies that his second term is being stolen.”

Yet, by depriving Trump of Russian help, Krebs ensured a victory for democracy.

On January 6, the House and Senate counted the Electoral Votes—and pronounced Joseph Biden the winner—bringing an end to Trump’s reign of criminality and treason.

In his 1960 poem, “Conversation With an American Writer,” the Russian poet, Yevgeney Yevtushenko spoke for those Russians who had maintained their integrity in the face of Stalinist terror:

“You have courage,” they tell me.
It’s not true. I was never courageous.
I simply felt it unbecoming
to stoop to the cowardice of my colleagues.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of Republicans in the United States Senate and House of Representatives in the face of Trump terror.

HEROES AND VILLAINS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 20, 2022 at 12:10 am

Next up: Nikolai Sergeyvich Zhilayev (pronounced Zill-lay-ev) was a Russian musicologist and the teacher of several 20th-century Russian composers.

Among these: Dimitri Shostakovich (September 25, 1906 – August 9, 1975)

Among his friends—to his ultimate misfortune—was Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky, the former military hero now falsely condemned and executed as a traitor by Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

In 1938, Zhilayev (November 18, 1881 – January 20, 1938) also became a casualty of what has become known as The Great Terror.

In his posthumously-published memoirs, Testimony, Shostakovich, his pupil and friend, described how Zhilayev faced his end with a calmness that awed even the NKVD (the predecessor to the KGB) secret police sent to arrest him.

Image result for images of Dmitri Shostakovich

Dimitri Shostakovich

“He had a large picture of Tukhachevsky in his room, and after the announcement that Tukhachevsky had been shot as a traitor to the homeland, Zhilayev did not take the picture down.

“I don’t know if I can explain how heroic a deed that was….As soon as the next poor soul was declared an enemy of the people, everyone destroyed in a panic everything connected with that person….

“And naturally, photographs flew into the fire first, because if someone informed on you, reported that you had a picture of an enemy of the people, it meant certain death.

“Zhilayev wasn’t afraid. When they came for him, Tukhachevsky’s prominently hung portrait amazed even the executioners.”

“What, it’s still up?” one of the secret police asked.

“The time will come,” Zhilayev replied, “when they’ll erect a monument to him.”

As, in fact, has happened. 

Meanwhile, Stalin has been universally condemned as one of history’s greatest tyrants.

Third hero—Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Graduating from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1992, he received his Master’s Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in 2007.

From 2017 to 2018 he commanded the USS Blue Ridge. In November, 2019, he was given command of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt.

On March 24, 2020, reports circulated that three members of the crew had tested positive for COVID-19. The next day the number of stricken sailors increased to eight. A few days later, it was “dozens.” The sailors reportedly became ill at sea, two weeks after a port call at Danang, Vietnam.

The initial cases were airlifted to a military hospital. The Roosevelt was ordered to Guam. After the ship docked on March 27, 2020, all 5,000 aboard were ordered to be tested for the virus. But only about 100 stricken sailors were allowed to leave the ship. The rest remained on board.

On March 30, Crozier emailed a four-page internal letter to multiple Naval officials, pleading to have the majority of the crew evacuated and quarantined on shore. Given the crowded sleeping quarters and narrow passageways of the vessel, Crozier wrote that it was impossible to follow social distancing and quarantine procedures: 

“This will require a political solution but it is the right thing to do. We are not at war. Sailors do not need to die. If we do not act now, we are failing to properly take care of our most trusted asset—our Sailors….

“This is a necessary risk. Keeping over 4,000 young men and women on board the TR is an unnecessary risk and breaks faith with those Sailors entrusted to our care.”

Brett E. Crozier (2).jpg

Brett Crozier

Crozier sent his letter via a non-secure, unclassified email to 20 to 30 recipients, as well as the captain’s immediate chain of command. He reportedly believed that his immediate supervisor would not allow him to send it.

And his superior later confirmed that he would not have allowed Crozier to send it.

On March 31, someone leaked the letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published it.

On April 1, the Navy ordered the aircraft carrier evacuated. A skeleton crew of 400 remained aboard to maintain the nuclear reactor, the fire-fighting equipment, and the ship’s galley. 

On April 2, Crozier was relieved of command by acting United States Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly.

By that time, about 114 crew members—out of a total of around 4,000—reportedly tested positive for COVID-19.  

As Crozier disembarked, sailors loudly saluted him with a standing ovation: “Cap-tain Cro-zier!”   

Modly claimed that Crozier’s letter “raised alarm bells unnecessarily. It undermines our efforts and the chain of command’s efforts to address this problem, and creates a panic and this perception that the Navy’s not on the job, that the government’s not on the job, and it’s just not true.”

Actually, the Trump administration had frittered away January and February, with President Donald Trump giving multiple—and misleading—press conferences. In these, he played down the dangers of COVID-19, saying that “we’re on top of it”—even as the virus spread across the country. 

“It was a betrayal. And I can tell you one other thing: because he did that he put it in the public’s forum and it is now a big controversy in Washington, DC,” continued Modly. [Italics added] 

This was the United States Navy under Donald Trump—who threw “betrayal” and “treason” at anyone who dared reveal the truth about institutional crimes and failures.

HEROES AND VILLAINS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 19, 2022 at 12:17 am

…A truly great man is ever the same under all circumstances. And if his fortune varies, exalting him at one moment and oppressing him at another, he himself never varies, but always preserves a firm courage, which is so closely interwoven with his character that everyone can readily see that the fickleness of fortune has no power over him.
The conduct of weak men is very different. Made vain and intoxicated by good fortune, they attribute their success to merits which they do not possess. And this makes them odious and insupportable to all around them. And when they have afterwards to meet a reverse of fortune, they quickly fall into the other extreme, and become abject and vile.
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses

Four heroes, three villains.

Two of the heroes are Russians; three are Americans.

The villains: One Russian (actually, Georgian); two American.

First up—in order of disappearance: Mikhail Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky (pronounced too-ka-chev-sky).

Tukhachevsky (February 4, 1893 – June 12, 1937) was a major Soviet military leader and theoretician from 1918 to 1937. 

He commanded the Soviet Western Front during the Russian-Polish War (1920-21) and served as Chief of Staff of the Red Army (1925-1928).

He fought to modernize Soviet armament, as well as develop airborne, aviation and mechanized forces.  Almost singlehandedly, he created the theory of deep operations for Soviet forces.

Tukhachevsky.png

Mikhail Tukhachevsky

All of these innovations would reap huge dividends when the Soviet Union faced the lethal fury of Adolf Hitler’s Wehrmacht.

In 1936, Tukhachevsky warned Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin that Nazi Germany might attack without warning—and ignite a long and murderous war.

Stalin—the son of a Georgian cobbler—resented Tukhachevsky’s coming from a noble family. A monumental egomaniac, he also hated that Tukhachevesky’s fame rivaled his own.

Warned of the approaching German danger, Stalin shouted: “What are you trying to do—frighten Soviet authority?”

Joseph Stalin

The attack that Tukhachevsky warned against came five years later—on June 22, 1941, leaving at least 26 million Russians dead.

But Tukhachevsky wasn’t alive to command a defense.

The 1930s were a frightening and dangerous time to be alive in the Soviet Union. In 1934, Stalin, seeing imaginary enemies everywhere, ordered a series of purges that lasted right up to the German invasion.

An example of Stalin’s paranoia occurred one day while the dictator walked through the Kremlin corridors with Admiral Ivan Isakov. Officers of the NKVD (the predecessor to the KGB) stood guard at every corner. 

“Every time I walk down the corridors,” said Stalin, “I think: Which one of them is it? If it’s this one, he will shoot me in the back. But if I turn the corner, the next one can shoot me in the face.”

In 1937-38, the Red Army fell prey to Stalin’s paranoia.

Its victims included:

  • Three of five marshals (five-star generals);
  • Thirteen of 15 army commanders (three- and four-star generals);
  • Fifty of 57 army corps commanders; and
  • One hundred fifty-four out of 186 division commanders.

And heading the list of those marked for death was Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky.

Arrested on May 22, 1937, he was interrogated and tortured. As a result, he “confessed” to being a German agent plotting to overthrow Stalin and seize power. 

On his confession, which survives in the archives, his bloodstains can clearly be seen.

On June 11, 1937, the Soviet Supreme Court convened a special military tribunal to try Tukhachevsky and eight generals for treason.

It was a sham: The accused were denied defense attorneys, and could not appeal the verdict—-which was foregone: Death.

In a Russian version of poetic justice, five of the eight generals who served as Tukhachevsky’s judges were themselves later condemned and executed as traitors.

Within hours of the verdict, Tukhachevsky was summoned from his cell and shot once in the back of the head.

From 1937 until 1956, Tukhachevsky was officially declared a traitor and fifth-columnist.

Then, on February 25, 1957, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev delivered his bombshell “Secret Speech” to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

In this, he denounced Stalin (who had died in 1953) as a ruthless tyrant responsible for the slaughter of millions of innocent men, women and children. He condemned Stalin for creating a “personality cult” around himself, and for so weakening the Red Army that Nazi Germany was able to easily overrun half of the Soviet Union from 1941 to 1943.

On January 31, 1957, Tukhachevsky and his co-defendants were declared innocent of all charges and were “rehabilitated.”

Today, he is once again—rightly—considered a Russian hero and military genius. And Stalin is universally—and rightly—seen as a blood-stained tyrant.

Image result for Images of Statues to Mikhail Tukhachevsky

Mikhail Tukhachevsky appears on a 1963 Soviet Union postage stamp

Next hero: Nikolai Sergeyvich Zhilayev (pronounced Zill-lay-ev)

Zhilayev (November 18, 1881 – January 20, 1938) was a Russian musicologist and the teacher of several 20th-century Russian composers. Among these: Dimitri Shostakovich.

Zhilayev, a member of the Russian Academy of Art-Sciences, taught at the Moscow Conservatory. Among his friends—to his ultimate misfortune—was Mikhail Tukhachevsky.

In 1938, he, too, became a casualty of what has become known as The Great Terror.

In his posthumously-published memoirs, Testimony, Shostakovich, his pupil and friend, described how Zhilayev faced his end with a calmness that awed even the NKVD secret police sent to arrest him. 

GETTING HELP FROM YOUR ENEMIES 11

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 30, 2022 at 12:14 am

Sometimes your worst enemies aid you in ways you could never help yourself.

From July 10 to October 31, 1940, hundreds of badly-outnumbered pilots of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) fought off relentless attacks by Germany’s feared Luftwaffe—since known as the Battle of Britain.

But Adolf Hitler wasn’t prepared to give up. He believed he could so terrorize Britons that they would insist that their government submit to German surrender demands.

From September 7, 1940 to May 21, 1941, the Luftwaffe subjected England—and especially London—to a ruthless bombing campaign that became known as The Blitz.

The undamaged St. Paul’s Cathredal, December, 1940

More than 100 tons of high explosives were dropped on 16 British cities.  

During 267 days—almost 37 weeks—between 40,000 and 43,000 British civilians were killed. About 139,000 others were wounded.

Clearly, what Great Britain desperately needed most was a miracle.

Exactly that happened on June 22, 1941.

With 134 Divisions at full fighting strength and 73 more divisions for deployment behind the front, the German Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union.

World War II – Operation Barbarossa – Army Tanks

German tanks invading Russia

Joseph Stalin, the longtime Soviet dictator, was stunned. The invasion had come less than two years after Germany had signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.

Now they were locked in a fight to the death.

People in England were suddenly hopeful. Britain now had a powerful ally whose resources might tip the balance against Hitler.

Fast forward to 2022.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was created in March, 1949 by the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. In 1952, Greece, Turkey and West Germany were admitted. 

NATO report says Pakistan wants peace deal in Afghanistan, India against it

NATO emblem

Its purpose: To provide collective security against the Soviet Union.

Following World War II, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had refused to withdraw his occupying forces from the Eastern European countries they had entered on their way to defeating Nazi Germany.

These Soviet-dominate countries: Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Albania and East Germany. 

Behind NATO stood the threat of the American “nuclear umbrella”—and Article V, which states that an attack on one ally would trigger a counterattack by all of them. 

From its founding in 1949 to 2017, America’s leadership of NATO—and the importance of the alliance—remained unquestioned. 

The Presidency of Donald J. Trump (2017-2021) dramatically changed both. 

From the outset, Trump attacked NATO as being “very unfair” to the United States. He attacked its members as deadbeats who didn’t contribute an equal share of monies to the organization. 

But Trump’s disdain for NATO may well have been grounded in his “bromance” with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin press conference

He had refused to accept the unanimous conclusion of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency that Russia had interfered in the 2016 Presidential election to put him in the White House over Hillary Clinton.

He had often praised Putin, both during the 2016 campaign and after entering the White House.

And he had publicly defended Putin against these agencies in an infamous press conference with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. 

On January 14, 2019, the New York Times reported that, several times in 2018, Trump discussed withdrawing the United States from NATO. This would effectively doom the 29-nation alliance and empower Russia, which had spent years seeking to weaken it.

Meanwhile, Putin, intent on restoring the borders of the former Soviet Union, swept from one war to the next.

  • In 1999-2000, he waged the Second Chechen War, restoring federal control of Chechnya.
  • In 2008, he invaded the Republic of Georgia, which had declared its independence as the Soviet Union began to crumble. The war ended with 20% of Georgia’s territory under Russian military occupation.
  • In 2014, Putin invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. 

Through all of this, NATO did nothing but launch verbal condemnations.

The reason:

  • Fear of igniting a nuclear war; and/or
  • Belief that Russia was simply acting within its own sphere of influence.

Coupled with Trump’s repeated displays of subservience, it’s likely that Putin felt he could get away with any aggression.

On February 24, Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine. And those who had thought the Cold War was over realized it wasn’t.

Suddenly, NATO came alive—with a vengeance:

  • At least 40,000 allied troops are now under direct NATO command in the eastern part of the alliance.
  • More than 130 fighter jets are on advanced high alert.
  • More than 200 allied ships are stationed at sea in the region.
  • NATO activated defense plans that would allow military commanders to deploy elements of the multinational Response Force.

Perhaps most important, the United States has a President—Joe Biden—who is not in thrall to Putin. As a result, it has led the world in imposing harsh economic sanctions on Russia:

  • Russia has become a global economic pariah. 
  • Over 30 countries, representing well over half the world’s economy, have announced sanctions and export controls targeting Russia.
  • The country’s banking system has all but collapsed.
  • On the stock market, the ruble is worth less than the penny.
  • And oligarchs linked to Putin have had their assets frozen around the world.

Seventy-nine years ago, events turned around for England when all seemed lost. The same has happened for NATO and the United States.

WHEN CRIMINALS FALL OUT, AMERICA WINS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin press conference

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

As President, Trump had

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

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

But now Republicans are singing a different tune.

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

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Mike Pence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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