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Posts Tagged ‘2020 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%)

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.

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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. 

MACHIAVELLI: STUPID LEADERS CANNOT BE WISELY ADVISED

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 15, 2022 at 12:13 am

“There is no other way of guarding oneself against flattery than by letting men understand that they will not offend you by speaking the truth.  But when every one can tell you the truth, you lose their respect.  

“A prudent prince must therefore take a third course, by choosing for his counsel wise men, and giving them alone full liberty to speak the truth to him, but only of those things that he asks and of nothing else.”

So wrote the Italian statesman Niccolo Machiavelli more than 500 years ago in his famous treatise on politics, The Prince. And he added:

“But he must be a great asker about everything and hear their opinions, and afterwards deliberate by himself in his own way, and in these counsels and with each of these men comport himself so that every one may see that the more freely he speaks, the more he will be acceptable. 

“Beyond these he should listen to no one, go about the matter deliberately, and be determined in his decisions.”

Machiavelli’s words remain as true in our day as they were in his.

Especially for “a very stable genius,” as ex-President Donald J. Trump once referred to himself.

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Niccolo Machiavelli

Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” who he consults about foreign policy, Trump replied; “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”

Machiavelli offers a related warning that especially applies to Trump: Unwise princes cannot be wisely advised:

“It is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised, unless by chance he leaves himself entirely in the hands of one man who rules him in everything, and happens to be a very prudent man. In this case, he may doubtless be well governed, but it would not last long, for the governor would in a short time deprive him of the state.”

Competent executives surround themselves with experts in diverse fields and pay attention to their expertise. They don’t feel threatened by it but rely on it to implement their agenda. Advisers whose counsel proves correct are to be retained and rewarded.

Machiavelli offers practical advice on this: 

“The prince, in order to retain his fidelity, ought to think of his minister, honoring and enriching him, doing him kindnesses and conferring on him favors and responsible tasks, so that the great favors and riches bestowed on him cause him not to desire other honors and riches, and the offices he holds make him fearful of changes.”

But rewarding those who try to head off ruinous decision-making is not Trump’s way. 

Consider the case of John Rood, the Pentagon’s top policy official until February 19. That was when he resigned, saying he was leaving at Trump’s request.

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John Rood

Rood had certified last year that Ukraine had made enough anti-corruption progress to justify the release of Congressionally-authorized aid for its efforts to thwart Russian aggression.

And that totally conflicted with Trump’s attempt to extort a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

In July, 2019, Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to withhold almost $400 million in promised military aid for Ukraine.

On July 25, Trump telephoned Zelensky to “request” a “favor”: Investigate Democratic Presidential Candidate Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter, who has had business dealings in Ukraine.

The reason for such an investigation: To find embarrassing “dirt” on Biden.

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Joe Biden

But then a CIA whistleblower filed a complaint about the extortion attempt—and this led directly to impeachment proceedings by the Democratically-controlled House for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

But the Republican-dominated Senate voted to acquit him.

Afterwards, Trump purged several officials he considers disloyal for cooperating with the impeachment hearings:

  • Army Lt. Col. Alex Vindman, from the National Security Council.
  • White House Attorney Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman, Vindman’s twin brother.
  • Gordon Sondland, Trump’s ambassador to the European Union.

“The truth has cost Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman his job, his career, and his privacy,” his attorney David Pressman, said in a statement.

For Trump, Rood had been “disloyal” on two occasions: 

  • He stated in a May 23, 2019 letter to Congress that the Pentagon had thoroughly assessed Ukraine’s anti-corruption actions. And he said that those reforms justified the authorized $400 million in aid.
  • He told reporters last year: “In the weeks after signing the certification I did become aware that the aid had been held. I never received a very clear explanation other than there were concerns about corruption in Ukraine.”

Asked about Rood’s resignation, chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman declined to speculate on the reason for Trump’s decision.

According to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Rood played “a critical role” on issues such as nuclear deterrence, NATO, missile defense and the National Defense Strategy.

That did not protect him, however, from Trump’s vendetta against those who dared to reveal his crimes to Democratic impeachment committees.

All of which would lead Niccolo Machiavelli to warn, if he could witness American politics today: “This bodes ill for your Republic.”

REPUBLICANS’ VERSION OF “CANCEL CULTURE”

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 1, 2022 at 12:22 am

Republicans have made “cancel culture” an accusation hurled at Democrats.

Democrats, for example, who want to strip the names of Confederate traitor-generals from many of America’s most famous military bases. Among those bases: 

  • Fort Benning (Georgia) – Named after Confederate General Henry L. Benning, who fought against the Union armies at the Second Battle of Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg.
  • Fort Lee (Virginia) – Named after Robert E. Lee, commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. 
  • Fort Bragg (North Carolina) – Named for Confederate General Braxton Bragg.

Republicans have also used “cancel culture” to denounce the ban imposed on former President Donald Trump by Facebook and Twitter.

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Donald Trump

Throughout his Presidency, Trump had used Facebook—and especially Twitter—to attack and slander literally hundreds of people. 

Trump’s reign of Twitter insults ended abruptly after he instigated an attack on the United States Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.

Desperate to stay in office by any means, he roused his legions of Stormtrumper followers to halt the counting of Electoral College votes certain to give former Vice President Joe Biden victory in the 2020 Presidential election.

Stormtrumpers attacking the Capitol Building

This treasonous behavior finally led Twitter to impose a permanent ban on Trump’s future tweets. Facebook quickly followed with a temporary ban of unspecified length.

Republicans were outraged. For decades they had aggressively demanded that corporations be free of government regulation. Now they demanded that Internet-related companies be stripped of their independence. 

Their outrage reflected their support for what would have been the greatest “cancel crime” in American history: Trump’s unprecedented attempt to cancel the votes of 80 million Americans for Joe Biden and remain in office for at least another four years.

And on May 20, 2021, Republicans proved their willingness to cancel legislation to protect Asian-Americans from a recent rise in attacks on them.

These attacks can be attributed directly to Donald Trump. Desperate to divert attention from his own indifference to the rising death toll from Coronavirus, throughout 2020 he repeatedly blamed China for “The China virus” and “The China plague.”

In October, Trump tested positive for COVID-19.

Republicans quickly blamed China.

The blame lay with Trump, who had refused to mask up or socially distance from others, as his own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had recommended. 

But this didn’t stop Georgia Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler from tweeting: “China gave this virus to our President,” adding “WE MUST HOLD THEM ACCOUNTABLE.”

And Blair Brandt, a Trump campaign fundraiser, claimed that the “Chinese Communist Party has biologically attacked our President.” 

Trump’s slanderous rhetoric—and the tensions it produced between the United States and China—has resulted in numerous attacks on Asian-Americans. In 2020, crimes targeting Asian Americans rose by 149% over those reported in 2019.

Introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act would:

  • Expedite the review of hate crimes related to the pandemic;
  • Expand the reporting of hate crimes to local and state agencies;
  • Require the Justice Department to work with state and local agencies to address them.

In the United States Senate, Josh Hawley (R-MO) cast the only vote against the Act. 

“It’s too broad,” he said. “As a former prosecutor, my view is it’s dangerous to simply give the federal government open-ended authority to define a whole new class of federal hate crime incidents.”

In the House of Representatives 62 Republicans tried to cancel the legislation. 

Among these:

  • Ohio’s Jim Jordan, who said falsely: “This violence, by and large, is happening in Democrat-controlled cities, many of which, interestingly enough, have defunded their police departments.” 
  • Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said: “We can’t legislate away hate”–which was the same excuse Southern Republicans made to oppose the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

On May 20, President Biden signed the Act into law.

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The following Republican House members joined Roy and Jordan in voting no: 

  • Matt Gaetz (Florida)
  • Lauren Boebert (Colorado)
  • Mo Brooks (Alabama)
  • Marjorie Taylor Greene (Georgia). 
  • Robert Aderholt (Alabama)
  • Rick Allen (Georgia)
  • Jodey Arrington (Texas)
  • Brian Babin (Texas)
  • Jim Banks (Indiana)
  • Andy Biggs (Arizona)
  • Dan Bishop (North Carolina
  • Ted Budd (North Carolina)
  • Tim Burchett (Tennessee)
  • Kat Cammack (Florida)
  • Jerry Carl (Alabama)
  • Madison Cawthorn (North Carolina)
  • Michael Cloud (Texas)
  • Andrew Clyde (Georgia
  • Tom Cole (Oklahoma)
  • Warren Davidson (Ohio)
  • Byron Donalds (Florida)
  • Jeff Duncan (South Carolina)
  • Virginia Foxx (North Carolina)
  • Louie Gohmert (Texas)
  • Bob Good (Virginia)
  • Lance Gooden (Texas)
  • Paul Gosar (Arizona)
  • Mark Green (Tennessee)
  • Michael Guest (Mississippi)
  • Andy Harris (Maryland)
  • Diana Harshbarger (Tennessee)
  • Kevin Hern (Oklahoma)
  • Yvette Herrell (New Mexico)
  • Jody Hice (Georgia)
  • Clay Higgins (Louisiana)
  • Ronny Jackson (Texas)
  • Mike Johnson (Louisiana)
  • Trent Kelly (Mississippi)
  • Doug LaMalfa (California)
  • Barry Loudermilk (Georgia)
  • Nancy Mace (South Carolina)
  • Tracey Mann (Kansas)
  • Thomas Massie (Kentucky)
  • Tom McClintock (California)
  • Mary Miller (Illinois)
  • Alexander Mooney (West Virginia)
  • Barry Moore (Alabama)
  • Ralph Norman (South Carolina)
  • Steven Palazzo (Mississippi)
  • Gary Palmer (Alabama)
  • Scott Perry (Pennsylvania)
  • August Pfluger (Texas)
  • Tom Rice (South Carolina)
  • John Rose (Tennessee)
  • Matthew Rosendale (Montana)
  • David Rouzer (North Carolina)
  • John Rutherford (Florida)
  • W. Gregory Steube (Florida)
  • Thomas Tiffany (Wisconsin)
  • Randy Weber (Texas) 

Nearly one-third of the House Republican caucus voted against the measure, which was supported by Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Minority Whip Steve Scalise and newly appointed GOP leader Elise Stefanik.

ACCOMPLICES TO OUR OWN DESTRUCTION: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 29, 2022 at 12:11 am

On November 3, 80 million voters elected former Vice President Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

President Donald Trump had often “joked” that America needed a “President-for-Life.” Now he demanded that he be awarded that title.

Trump refused to accept that verdict. 

Speaking from the White House in the early hours of November 4, he said: “Millions and millions of people voted for us tonight, and a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we won’t stand for it.”

For the first time in American history, a President demanded a halt to the counting of votes while the outcome of an election hung in doubt.

States ignored his demand and kept counting.

Next, Trump ordered his attorneys to file lawsuits to overturn the election results, charging electoral fraud.

He claimed:

  • Illegal aliens had been allowed to vote.
  • Trump ballots had been systematically destroyed.
  • Tampered voting machines had turned Trump votes into Biden ones.

Throughout November and December, cases were filed in Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia challenging the election results. More than 30 cases were withdrawn by Trump’s attorneys or dismissed by Federal judges—some of them appointed by Trump himself.

For 20 days, General Services Administrator Emily Murphy refused to release $7.3 million in transition funding and Federal resources to the President-elect’s team.

Under the law governing presidential transitions, Murphy was responsible for determining the winner based on publicly available information before the actual Electoral College vote. 

Finally, on November 23, Murphy released the transition funding and resources.

Trump invited two Republican legislative leaders from Michigan to the White House to persuade them to stop the state from certifying the vote.

Nothing changed. 

On December 5, Trump called Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and asked him to call a special legislative session to convince state legislators to select their own electors that would support him, thus overturning Biden’s win.

Kemp refused, saying he lacked the authority to do so.

Top Republicans—such as Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—refused to congratulate Biden as the winner. 

None of them branded Trump’s efforts to overturn the election as those of a tyrant.

Just as Germans did nothing to stop Adolf Hitler’s inexorable march toward war—and the destruction of millions of lives and Germany itself—so, too, did Americans seem paralyzed to end the equally self-destructive reign of the man often dubbed “Carrot Caligula.”

Gaius Caligula was “the mad emperor” of ancient Rome. Like Trump, he lived by a philosophy of “Let them hate me, so long as they fear me.”

He ruled as the most powerful man of his time—three years, 10 months and eight days. And all but the first six months of his reign were drenched in slaughter and debauchery.

There were basically three ways America’s slide into tyranny could have been stopped:

First, Congressional Republicans could have revolted against Trump’s authority and/or agenda.

They could have demanded that Trump accept the verdict of the electorate—as every other past President had.

But they didn’t.

Republicans feared that if they openly defied him, his fanatical base would turn on them in coming elections—and end their comfortable reign of power and privileges.

Second, invoking the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to recommend the removal of the President in cases where he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” It also allows the House and Senate to confirm the recommendation over the President’s objection by two-thirds vote. 

The Vice President then takes over as President.

A case could easily have been made that Trump, emotionally distraught over his loss and determined to circumvent the will of the electorate, had been rendered unfit to continue in office.

This did not happen.

Most of Trump’s cabinet rightly feared him. He fired FBI Director James Comey in 2017 and publicly humiliated his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for more than a year until firing him in 2018. Vice President Mike Pence in particular had set new records for sycophancy. 

Third, the “Caligula solution.” Like Trump, Caligula delighted in humiliating others. His fatal mistake was taunting Cassius Chaerea, a member of his own bodyguard. Caligula considered Chaerea effeminate owing to a weak voice and mocked him with names like “Priapus” and “Venus.”

Gaius Caligula

On January 22 41 A.D. Chaerea and several other bodyguards hacked Caligula to death with swords before other guards could save him.

Trump had similarly behaved arrogantly toward his Secret Service guards. He forced them to work without pay during his 35-day government shutdown in 2018. He also forced them to accompany him to COVID-infected states—both during the Presidential campaign and afterward. Many of them had been stricken with this often lethal disease as a result. 

During Adolf Hitler’s 12-years reign of Nazi Germany, high-ranking military officers tried to kill him at least 42 times. 

The best-known of these attempts occurred on July 20, 1944, when Colonel Count Claus Shenk von Stauffenberg planted a bomb in a conference room attended by Hitler and his generals. Hitler survived only by sheer luck. 

By contrast, no similar plot was aimed at Donald Trump.

AMERICA’S CHOICE: FREEDOM–OR FASCISM: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 22, 2022 at 12:10 am

On November 22, 2019, Mark Shields—a liberal syndicated columnist—and David Brooks—a conservative one for The New York Timesreached disturbingly similar conclusions about the corruption reveled by hearings of the House Intelligence Committee.

DAVID BROOKS: “What strikes me [is] that everyone was in the loop, that this was not something they tried to hide.

“This was just something they thought was the way politics gets done or foreign policy gets done, that there’s no division between personal gain and public service.”

MARK SHIELDS: “What I have underestimated….is the fear that Donald Trump exercises over Republicans.I mean, people talked about Lyndon Johnson being a fearsome political leader. They don’t even approach. I mean, he strikes fear into the hearts of Republicans up and down the line. And I think that….has been eye-opening in its dimensions.”

Nor did the GOP try to reign Trump in.

In a November 14, 2019 column, “Republicans Can’t Abandon Trump Now Because They’re All Guilty,” freelance journalist Joel Mathis warned: “Trump’s abuses of power mirror those of the GOP as a whole. Republicans can’t turn on him, because doing so would be to indict their party’s entire approach to politics.”

For example:

  • At the state level, GOP legislatures have passed numerous voter ID laws over the last decade. Officially, the reason has been to prevent non-citizens from voting. In reality, the motive is to depress turnout among Democratic constituencies.
  • When Democrats have won elections, Republicans have tried to block them from carrying out their policies. In Utah, voters approved Medicaid expansion at the ballot box—but Republicans nullified this.
  • In North Carolina, Republican legislators prevented voters from choosing their representatives. Instead, Republican representatives chose voters through partisan sorting. In September, the state’s Supreme Court ruled the legislative gerrymandered district map unconstitutional.

The upshot of all this: “The president and his party are united in the belief that their entitlement to power allows them to manipulate and undermine the country’s democratic processes….”

Republican Disc.svg

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On November 21, 2019, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, attacked Republicans’ total rejection of the overwhelming evidence linking Trump with extortion:

Adam Schiff official portrait.jpg

Adam Schiff

“But apparently, it’s all hearsay. Even when you actually hear the President….that’s hearsay. We can’t rely on people saying what the President said. Apparently, we can only rely on what the President says, and there, we shouldn’t even rely on that either….

“We should imagine he said something about actually fighting corruption, instead of what he actually said, which was, ‘I want you to do us a favor, though. I want you to look into this 2016 CrowdStrike conspiracy theory, and I want you to look into the Bidens.’

“I guess we’re not even supposed to rely on that because that’s hearsay….That would be like saying you can’t rely on the testimony of the burglars during Watergate because it’s only hearsay, or you can’t consider the fact that they tried to break in because they got caught. They actually didn’t get what they came for, so, you know, kind of no harm, no foul. That’s absurd.

“The difference between [Watergate and Trump’s attempted extortion of Ukraine] is not the difference between [Richard] Nixon and [Donald] Trump. It’s the difference between that Congress and this one. And so, we are asking, where is Howard Baker? Where are the people who are willing to go beyond their party to look to their duty? 

“But the other defense besides ‘It failed, the scheme failed, they got caught,’ the other defense is ‘The President denies it.’ Well, I guess that’s case closed, right?

“….This President believes he is above the law, beyond accountability. And in my view, there is nothing more dangerous than an unethical President who believes they are above the law.”

* * * * *

The United States has indeed become a polarized country. But it’s not the polarization between Republicans and Democrats, or between conservatives and liberals.

It’s the polarization between

  • Those intent on enslaving everyone who doesn’t subscribe to their Fascistic beliefs and agenda—and those who resist being enslaved. 
  • Those who believe in reason and science—and those who believe in an infallible “strong man” who rejects both.
  • Those who cherish education—and those who celebrate ignorance.
  • Those who believe in the rule of law—and those who believe in their right to act as a law unto themselves.
  • Those who believe in treating others (especially the less fortunate) with decency—and those who believe in the triumph of intimidation and force.

Those who hoped that Republicans would choose patriotism over partisanship got their answer on February 5, 2020. That was when the Republican-dominated Senate—ignoring the overwhelming evidence against him—acquitted Donald Trump on both impeachment articles: Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.

It’s natural to regret that the United States has become a sharply divided nation. But those who lament this should realize there is only one choice:

Either non-Fascist Americans will destroy the Republican party and its voters that threaten to enslave them—or they will be enslaved by Republicans and their voters who believe they are entitled to manipulate and undermine the country’s democratic processes.

There is no middle ground. 

AMERICA’S CHOICE: FREEDOM–OR FASCISM: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 21, 2022 at 12:13 am

On November 14, 2019, the CNN website showcased an opinion piece by Jane Carr and Laura Juncadella entitled: “Fractured States of America.” 

And it opened:

“Some worry that it’s already too late, that we’ve crossed a threshold of polarization from which there is no return. Others look toward a future where more moderate voices are heeded and heard, and Americans can find better ways to relate to each other. Still others look back to history for a guide—perhaps for what not to do, or at the very least for proof that while it’s been bad before, progress is still possible.”

A series of sub-headlines summed up many of the comments reported. 

  • “I was starting to hate people that I have loved for years.”
  • “Voting for Trump cost me my friends.”
  • “I feel like I’m living in hostile territory.”
  • “Our children are watching this bloodsport.”
  • “A student’s Nazi-style salute reflects the mate.”
  • “Our leaders reflect the worst of us.”
  • “I truly believe I will be assaulted over a bumper sticker.”
  • “It already feels like a cold war.” 

It’s natural to regret that the United States has become so self-destructively polarized. And to wish that its citizens could somehow reach across the chasm that divides them and find common cause with one another.

But that is to ignore the brutal truth that America now faces a choice:

  1. To submit to the tyrannical aggression of a ruthless political party convinced that they are entitled to power to manipulate and undermine the country’s democratic processes; or
  2. To fiercely resist that aggression and the destruction of those democratic processes. 

Consider the face-off between President Donald J. Trump and Army Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman.

Vindman is a retired United States Army officer who served as the Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council. He was also a witness to Trump’s efforts to extort “a favor” from the president of Ukraine.

Alexander Vindman on May 20, 2019.jpg

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman

Адміністрація Президента України [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D

In July, 2019, Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to withhold almost $400 million in promised military aid for Ukraine, which faced increasing aggression from Russia.

On July 25, Trump telephoned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “request” a “favor”: Investigate 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who has had business dealings in Ukraine.

The reason for such an investigation: To find embarrassing “dirt” on Biden.

It was clear that unless Zelensky found “dirt” on Biden, the promised aid would not be forthcoming.

“I was concerned by the call,” Vindman, who had heard Trump’s phone call, testified before the House Intelligence Committee. “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. Government’s support of Ukraine.

“I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security.”

Trump denounced Vindman as a “Never Trumper”—as if opposing his extortion attempt constituted a blasphemy. Republicans and their shills on the Fox News Network attacked him as well. As a result, he sought physical protection by the Army for himself and his family. 

(On February 7, 2020,  he was reassigned from the National Security Council at Trump’s order.)

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Donald Trump

On November 15, 2019, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks and liberal syndicated columnist Mark Shields appeared on The PBS Newshour to offer their reactions by Republicans and Democrats to Trump’s extortion attempt.

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David Brooks and Mark Shields on “The PBS Newshour”

DAVID BROOKS: “The case is very solid and airtight that there was the quid pro quo. All the testimony points to that. And, mostly, you see a contrast. The first two gentlemen that testified on the first day, they were just upstanding, solid public servants.

“I felt like I was looking back in time, because I was looking at two people who are not self-centered. They cared about the country. They were serving. They had no partisan ax to grind. They were just honest men of integrity.

“And I thought we saw that again today with [former Ambassador to Ukraine] Marie Yovanovitch. And in her case, the day was more emotional, because you got to see a case of bullying against a strong, upstanding woman.

“And so I thought she expressed—like, the heavy moments of today where when she expressed her reaction to how badly she was treated. And so that introduces an element of emotion and pathos into what shouldn’t be just a legal proceeding. It should be something where people see the contrast between good people and bad people.” 

MARK SHIELDS: This is a story of corruption, corruption not in Ukraine, corruption in the United States.

“I mean, why? Why did they go to such lengths to denigrate, to attack, to try and destroy and sabotage the career of a dedicated public servant [United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich], a person who had put her life on the line? Why did they do it? What was it, money? Was it power?”

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