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Posts Tagged ‘BENITO MUSSOLINI’

TRUMP’S INSULTS COME BACK TO HAUNT HIM

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on June 26, 2019 at 12:06 am

Niccolo Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) was an Italian Renaissance historian, diplomat and writer. Two of his books continue to profoundly influence modern politics: The Prince and The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy.

The Prince has often been damned as a dictator’s guide on how to gain and hold power. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and John Gotti have effusively praised its teachings.

But The Discourses outlines how citizens in a republic can maintain their liberty.

Machiavelli’s writings on republicanism greatly influenced the political thinking of America’s own Founding Fathers. For example: Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson feared that Alexander Hamilton was creating an American aristocracy through the Federalist Party. And they moved vigorously to oppose him.

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.jpg

Niccolo Machiavelli

In Chapter 26 of The Discourses, Machiavelli advises:

I hold it to be a proof of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words towards any one, for neither the one nor the other in any way diminishes the strength of the enemy—but the one makes him more cautious, and the other increases his hatred of you, and makes him more persevering in his efforts to injure you.

If Donald Trump has read Machiavelli, he’s clearly forgotten the Florentine statesman’s advice. Or he decided long ago that it simply didn’t apply to him.

On November 18, 2018, Trump hurled a scatological insult at Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), one of his frequent critics.

Trump’s was furious that Schiff had said on ABC’s “This Week” that the President’s appointment of Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was “unconstitutional” because he wasn’t confirmed by the Senate.

So, true to form, Trump responded with a tweet: “So funny to see little Adam Schitt (D-CA) talking about the fact that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker was not approved by the Senate, but not mentioning the fact that Bob Mueller (who is highly conflicted) was not approved by the Senate!”

Special counsel Robert Mueller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in May, 2017, after Trump suddenly fired FBI Director James Comey. Mueller didn’t require Senate confirmation for the position.

Schiff was quick to respond on Twitter: “Wow, Mr. President, that’s a good one. Was that like your answers to Mr. Mueller’s questions, or did you write this one yourself?”

What made Trump’s insult not only infantile but self-destructive was that, on November 6, the Democrats had retaken the House of Representatives. 

For Trump, this spelled real danger. Even before taking office in 2017, he had been haunted by charges of conspiring with Russian Intelligence agents to subvert the 2016 Presidential election.

And in six weeks, Schiff would become Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats returned in January. This would arm him with investigative powers even greater than those possessed by Mueller.

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Adam Schiff

Trump similarly relishes tossing insults at another longtime critic—Rep. Maxime Waters (D-CA). On June 25, 2018, he tweeted: “Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party.” 

This also proved a mistake. After voters returned Democrats to running the House, Waters was slated to become Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee.

For Trump, this had to be a nightmare come true. Throughout the 2016 Presidential race, Trump had refused to release his tax returns—which every Presidential candidate has done since Ronald Reagan in 1980.

Trump’s longstanding ties to Russian oligarchs and subservience to Vladimir Putin have fueled speculation that his returns could reveal some truly unscrupulous financial dealings.

Waters would now have the power to subpoena Trump’s tax returns and delve into the long-standing mystery of what he’s hiding.

Congresswoman Waters official photo.jpg

Maxine Waters

As both a Presidential candidate and President, Trump has repeatedly attacked hundreds of real and imagined enemies in politics, journalism, TV and films.

From June 15, 2015, when he launched his Presidential campaign, until October 24, 2016, Trump fired almost 4,000 angry, insulting tweets at 281 people and institutions that had somehow offended him.  The New York Times needed two full pages of its print edition to showcase them.

As President, he has bullied and insulted even White House officials and his own handpicked Cabinet officers:

  • Trump waged a Twitter-laced feud against Jeff Sessions, his Attorney General. Sessions’ “crime”? Recusing himself from investigations into well-established ties between Russian Intelligence agents and members of Trump’s Presidential campaign. Trump fired him on November 7, 2018, the day after Democrats retook the House of Representatives in the mid-term elections.
  • Trump humiliated his Chief of Staff, Reince Priebus—at one point ordering him to kill a fly that was buzzing about. On July 28, 2017, six months after taking the job, Priebus resigned.
  • Trump similarly tongue-lashed Priebus’ replacement, former Marine Corps General John Kelly. Trump was angered by Kelly’s efforts to limit the number of advisers who had unrestricted access to him. Kelly told colleagues he had never been spoken to like that during 35 years of military service—and wouldn’t tolerate it again.

With Adam Schiff and Maxine Waters now heading powerful House investigative committees, Trump will undoubtedly come to regret the fury his ill-advised insults have raised up against him.

Which leads to a final warning by Machiavelli: Unwise princes cannot be wisely advised.

POLICE: IGNORING THE CRIMES OF FASCISTS—PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 16, 2019 at 12:02 am

On August 11-12, 2017, white supremacists from across the country gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, for a  “Unite the Right” rally.  Among the organizations represented:

  • The Ku Klux Klan (KKK);
  • The Alt-Knights;
  • The “Militia Movement”;
  • The American Nazi Party;
  • The Confederate League of the South.

They marched through the streets carrying flaming tiki torches, screaming racial epithets and frightening the local citizenry. Echoing Nazis in 1930s Germany, they shouted: “Blood and Soil!” and “Jews will not replace us!”

On August 13, a Nazi sympathizer rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing a woman and injuring 19 other demonstrators.

President Donald Trump stated: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

But he refused to specifically denounce the Fascistic demonstrators.

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Donald Trump

White supremacists were elated.

“He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us,” wrote Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website, The Daily Stormer. 

“No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.” 

Another Trump admirer: Former Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard David Duke. 

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa,” Duke tweeted after the news conference. 

Fascistic groups make up a pivotal constituency for Trump. Without their support, he might not have become President. He can’t afford to alienate them.

But more than 50 years ago, another President was willing to declare all-out war against white supremacists: Lyndon B. Johnson. 

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

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Poster for missing civil rights workers

Johnson ordered the FBI to find the missing activists.

Two hundred FBI agents interrogated 480 Klansmen. After the civil rights workers’ bodies were found buried near a dam, Johnson gave FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover a direct order: “I want you to have the same kind of intelligence [on the Klan] that you have on the communists.”

For decades, Hoover had refused to tackle white hate groups. And, in truth, there had not been any President willing to give him the order to do so. 

But now a President had given him such an order. And Hoover was approaching the mandatory retirement age of 70—which could be waived by a sympathetic President. If he wanted to stay on as director of the agency he loved, he had no choice.

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

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

Ku Klux Klansmen in a meeting

The FBI’s covert action program aimed to “expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize” KKK groups through a wide range of legal and extra-legal methods. Seventeen KKK groups were targeted,  So were nine others, including the American Nazi and National States Rights parties.

After the Klan murdered Lemuel Penn, a black army reserve lieutenant, the FBI targeted every major Klan group in Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia.

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

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

William C. Sullivan

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

Among those methods:

  • Developing informants within Klans—usually by paying small fortunes for information. (“There would be a meeting of 10 Klansmen, and six of them would be reporting back to us the next day,” recalled an FBI agent.)
  • Planting electronic surveillance devices in Klan meeting places.
  • Carrying out “black bag jobs”—burglaries—to steal Klan membership lists.
  • Contacting the news media to publicize arrests and identify Klan leaders.
  • Informing the employers of known Klansmen of their employees’ criminal activity, resulting in the firing of untold numbers of them.
  • Illegally obtaining Klansmen’s tax returns.
  • Sending anonymous letters/postcards to Klansmen warning: “Someone KNOWS who you are!”
  • Falsely accusing other Klansmen of being FBI informants.
  • Breaking up the marriages of Klansmen by circulating rumors of their infidelity among their wives.
  • Beating and harassing Klansmen who threatened and harassed FBI agents.

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

Over the next 40 years, Klan membership steadily rose again. In 2017, its membership rose sharply.

By June, 2017, an estimated 3,000 Klan members belonged to 42 different Klan groups in 22 states. And the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tracked Klan activity to 11 other states, including liberal ones like California. 

Only when America has a President who’s not beholden to the Fascistic Right can there be another COINTELPRO aimed at white hate groups.

POLICE: IGNORING THE CRIMES OF FASCISTS–PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 15, 2019 at 12:22 am

At the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., the following sign is prominently displayed: WARNING SIGNS OF FASCISM.

Beneath that are listed the signs to beware of an approaching Fascistic dictatorship:

  • Powerful and continuing nationalism
  • Disdain for human rights
  • Identification of enemies as a unifying cause
  • Supremacy of the military
  • Rampant sexism
  • Controlled mass media
  • Obsession with national security
  • Religion and government intertwined
  • Labor power suppressed
  • Disdain for intellectuals and the arts
  • Obsession with crime and punishment
  • Rampant cronyism and corruption
  • Fraudulent elections

During the 1930s and 1940s, Fascism was clearly on the rise, and Western democracies seemed  unable to cope with it.

U.S. Holocaust Museum and Memorial

But by April, 1945, Adolf Hitler’s Germany and Benito Mussolini’s Italy were on the ash-heap of history.

After a run of quick victories, they had out-stretched their limited resources—and found themselves overwhelmingly defeated by the combined might of England, the United States and the Soviet Union.

And at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, the infamy of Nazi extermination camps was fully revealed.

And that—believed millions of anti-Fascists throughout the world—was the end of Fascism.

But it wasn’t.

By the time Donald J. Trump took office as President of the United States, Fascism was very much alive and dangerously well.

Specifically: In January, 2019, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) found that Right-wing extremists were linked to every 2018 extremist murder—at least 50—in the United States.

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In 2017, there had been 37 such killings by Right-wing extremists.

That same year, the FBI concluded that white supremacists killed more Americans from 2000 to 2016 than “any other domestic extremist movement.” 

In 2018, Right-wing extremists killed more people than in any year since 1995, the year that Timothy McVeigh’s blew up the Oklahoma City federal building. 

According to the ADL’s Center on Extremism:

  • Every perpetrator had ties to at least one Right-wing extremist movement.
  • Firearms were used overwhelmingly in Right-wing attacks.
  • Forty-two of the 50 deaths in 2018 were caused by guns. Knives or edged weapons accounted for the rest.
  • Five of the 17 incidents involved shooting sprees that caused 38 deaths and injured 33 others.
  • Five shooting sprees resulted in 38 deaths and left 33 people injured.

Among the five major Right-wing shooting sprees in 2018:

  • Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, PA: 11 dead;
  • Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Parkland, FL: 17 dead;
  • Waffle House, Nashville, TN: four dead.

For nearly two decades, United States counter-terrorism strategy has focused almost exclusively on American and foreign-born jihadists, overshadowing Right-wing extremism as a legitimate national-security threat.  

Between 2002 and 2017, the United States spent $2.8 trillion—15% of discretionary spending—on counter-terrorism. Between 2008 and 2017, domestic extremists killed 387 people in the United States, according to the 2019 ADL report.

“We’re actually seeing all the same phenomena of what was happening with groups like ISIS, same tactics, but no one talks about it because it’s far-Right extremism,” says P. W. Singer, a national security strategist at the New America think tank.  

In 2017, Singer met with senior Trump administration officials to discuss creating a counter-terrorism strategy that encompassed a wider range of threats.

“They only wanted to talk about Muslim extremism,” said Singer. But even before the Trump administration, “we willingly turned the other way on white supremacy because there were real political costs to talking about white supremacy.”

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P. W. Singer

Catiline17 [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

Among those costs:

  • Arousing the ire of Southern states, where Right-wing terrorism organizations like the Ku Klux Klan have long been tolerated, if not outright supported.
  • About 22 million Americans say it’s “acceptable” to hold neo-Nazi or white-supremacist views, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll taken in the wake of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally in August 2017.
  • About 10% of Americans said they supported the “alt-right.”
  • Many police officers don’t see white supremacist groups as a threat. One domestic-terrorism expert who conducts hate-crimes training for police has often been asked by officers: ‘Why aren’t you calling Black Lives Matter or Antifa a hate group?’ The answer is, because they’re not hate groups!  But they didn’t see it that way.”
  • According to William Fears, one of the most dedicated foot soldiers of the alt-right: Police were far less forgiving of Antifa, whose members consist of anti-fascists, anarchists, Socialists, animal rights activists, immigration rights activists, members of the local Socialist movement and environmental protesters. 
  • Another white nationalist activist recalled a rally where police posed for pictures with members of the alt-right: “Very buddy-buddy.” 

Since taking office as President, Donald Trump has consistently shown his support for Right-wing terrorist groups.

On August 11-12, 2017, white supremacists from across the country gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, for a  “Unite the Right” rally.  Among the organizations represented:

  • The Ku Klux Klan (KKK);
  • The Alt-Knights;
  • The “Militia Movement”;
  • The American Nazi Party;
  • The Confederate League of the South.

Like the Nazis in 1930s Germany, they marched through the streets carrying flaming torches, screaming racial epithets and frightening the local citizenry.

On August 13, a Nazi sympathizer rammed his car into a group of counter-protesters, killing a woman and injuring 19 other demonstrators.

GIVING ADVICE SAFELY—THE MACHIAVELLI WAY

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 17, 2018 at 12:15 am

Ask the average person, “What do you think of Niccolo Machiavelli?” and he’s likely to say: “The devil.” 

In fact, “The Old Nick” became an English term used to describe Satan and slander Machiavelli at the same time.

Niccolo Machiavelli

The truth, however, is more complex. Machiavelli was a passionate Republican, who spent most of his adult life in the service of his beloved city-state, Florence.

The years he spent as a diplomat were tumultuous ones for Italy—with men like Pope Julius II and Caesare Borgia vying for power and plunging Italy into one bloodbath after another. 

Florence, for all its wealth, lacked a strong army, and thus lay at the mercy of powerful enemies, such as Borgia. Machiavelli often had to use his wits to keep them at bay.

Machiavelli is best-known for his writing of The Prince, a pamphlet on the arts of gaining and holding power. Its admirers have included Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin.

But his longer and more thoughtful work is The Discourses, in which he offers advice on how to maintain liberty within a republic. Among its admirers were many of the men who framed the Constitution of the United States.

Most people believe that Machiavelli advocated evil for its own sake.

Not so. Rather, he recognized that sometimes there is no perfect—or perfectly good—solution to a problem. 

Sometimes it’s necessary to take stern—even brutal—action to stop an evil (such as a riot) before it becomes widespread:

“A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must inevitably come to grief among so many who are not good.  And therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.”

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His counsel remains as relevant today as it did during his lifetime (1469 – 1527). This is especially  true for politicians—and students of political science.

But plenty of ordinary citizens can also benefit from the advice he has to offer—such as those in business who are asked to give advice to more powerful superiors.

Machiavelli warns there is danger in urging rulers to take a particular course of action: “For men only judge of matters by the result, all the blame of failure is charged upon him who first advised it, while in case of success he receives commendations. But the reward never equals the punishment.” 

This puts would-be counselors in a difficult position: “If they do not advise what seems to them for the good of the republic or the prince, regardless of the consequences to themselves, then they fail to do their duty.  

“And if they do advise it, then it is at the risk of their position and their lives, for all men are blind in thus, that they judge of good or evil counsels only by the results.” 

Thus, Machiavelli warns that an adviser should “take things moderately, and not to undertake to advocate any enterprise with too much zeal, but to give one’s advice calmly and modestly.” 

The person who asked for the advice may follow it, or not, as of his own choice, and not because he was led or forced into it by the adviser.

Above all, the adviser must avoid the danger of urging a course of action that runs “contrary to the wishes of the many.  

“For the danger arises when your advice has caused the many to be contravened. In that case, when the result is unfortunate, they all concur in your destruction.”

Or, as President John F. Kennedy famously said after the disastrous invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April, 1961: “Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.”

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John F. Kennedy

By “not advocating any enterprise with too much zeal,” the adviser gains two advantages:

“The first is, you avoid all danger.

“And the second consists in the great credit which you will have if, after having modestly advised a certain course, your counsel is rejected, and the adoption of a different course results unfortunately.”

Finally, the time to give advice is before a catastrophe occurs, not after. Machiavelli gives a vivid example of what can happen if this rule is ignored.

King Perseus of Macedon had gone to war with Paulus Aemilius—and suffered a humiliating defeat. Fleeing the battlefield with a handful of his men, he later bewailed the disaster that had overtaken him.

Suddenly, one of his lieutenants began to lecture Perseus on the many errors he had committed, which had led to his ruin.

“Traitor,” raged the king, turning upon him, “you have waited until now to tell me all this, when there is no longer any time to remedy it—” And Perseus slew him with his own hands.

Niccolo Machiavelli sums up the lesson as this:

“Thus was this man punished for having been silent when he should have spoken, and for having spoken when he should have been silent.”

Be careful that you don’t make the same mistake.

THE PIRATES OF THE RIGHT

In History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on December 16, 2016 at 12:02 am

As supporters of President-elect Donald Trump demand that “everyone must get behind our President,” it’s worth recalling how Right-wingers “got behind” President Barack Obama.

On April 8, 2009, four Somali pirates boarded the Maersk Alabama when it was located 240 miles southeast of the Somalian port city of  Eyl.

The ship, en route to Mombasa, Kenya, was carrying 17,000 tons of cargo, including 5,000 tons of relief supplies for Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda.

As the pirates boarded the ship, the crew members locked themselves in the engine room. To buy time for his crewmen, the captain, Richard Phillips, surrendered to the pirates.

Captain Richard Phillips

The crew later overpowered one of the pirates, and sought to exchange their captive for Phillips. The crew released the pirate, but the other three pirates refused to release Phillips.

The pirates left with Philips in a lifeboat which carried ten days of food rations, water and basic survival supplies.

On April 8, the destroyer USSS Bainbridge and the frigate USSS Halyburton were dispatched to the Gulf of Aden to deal with the hostage situation, and reached Maersk Alabama early on April 9.

On April 9, a standoff began between the Bainbridge and the pirates in the Maersk Alabama’s lifeboat, where they continued to hold Phillips hostage

On April 12, marksmen from SEAL Team 6 simultaneously opened fire with telescopic-sighted assault rifles and killed the three pirates on the lifeboat.

U.S. Navy SEALS

The SEALS believed Phillips faced an immediate threat of execution, having received a report that one of the pirates was pointing an AK-47 at his back. 

The SEALS, known for their legendary marksmanship, took out all three pirates with shots to the head.

Phillips was rescued in good condition.

The vast majority of Americans rejoiced. The Maersk Alabama had been the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in 200 years. And the encounter had ended with the ship and crew safe and its captain rescued without injury.

But not everyone was happy about the outcome. Naturally, the pirates infesting the Somali coastline were infuriated at this setback.

But, surprisingly, there were some Americans who felt more sympathetically toward the Somali pirates than the man who had ordered Phillips’ rescue: President Barack Obama.

One of these was Rush Limbaugh, the American Right’s chief spokesman.

Rush Limbaugh

The Rush Limbaugh Show airs throughout the U.S. on over 400 stations and is the highest-rated talk-radio program in the United States. When Limbaugh speaks, his “dittohead” audience listens–and acts as he decrees.

On April 14, 2009, Limbaugh gave his take on the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips:

“The Somali pirates, the merchant marine organizers who took a US merchant captain hostage for five days were inexperienced youths, the defense secretary, Roberts Gates, said yesterday, adding that the hijackers were between 17 and 19 years old.

“Now, just imagine the hue and cry had a Republican president ordered the shooting of black teenagers on the high seas….

“They were kids. The story is out, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but apparently the hijackers, these kids, the merchant marine organizers, Muslim kids, were upset.

“They wanted to just give the captain back and head home because they were running out of food. They were running out of fuel, they were surrounded by all these US Navy ships, big ships, and they just wanted out of there. That’s the story.

“But then when one of them put a gun to the back of the captain, Mr. Phillips, then bam, bam, bam. There you have it, and three teenagers shot on the high seas at the order of President Obama.”

And there you have it–an American Fascist making common cause with the heirs of Blackbeard and Henry Morgan.

Click here: President Obama Ordered the Killing of Three Black Muslim Kids – The Rush Limbaugh Show

In Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare lets Marcus Brutus give his reason for murdering Caesar, his onetime friend: “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”

Limbaugh and his Rightist stooges could have said they opposed the rescue mission for a similar reasono: “Not that we loved the Somali pirates, but that we hate Obama more.”

Consider the comment then-Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) made on an Iowa radio program on October 3, 2011.

One caller, “Donna,” told Bachmann that the president was a “walking nightmare” who was “blowing up our country.”

“I would vote for Charles Manson before this guy,” she said. “But I’m pulling for you big time, all the way, go Michele!”

“Thank you for saying that,” Bachmann replied.

Thus, Bachmann–who supposedly represented the democratic system–chose as her hero a convicted psychopathic murderer over a legally-elected President.

The rescue of Richard Phillips has been dramatized in the 2013 movie, Captain Phillips, starring Tom Hanks in the title role.

Audiences cheered at the climatic moment when the three pirates met their deserved fate.

But what they didn’t see depicted was Limbaugh’s Greek chorus for the Right–and the sheer hatred he and they have for anyone who doesn’t share their Fascistic views.

THE HEIRS OF HITLER

In History, Politics, Social commentary on January 31, 2014 at 4:19 am

It seems so long ago now.

Eighty-one years ago–on January 30, 1933–Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Nazi Germany.

Six years later, on September 1, 1939, he ordered the invasion of Poland–and inintentionally ignited World War II.

Six years later, on April 30, 1945–in a war-ravaged Nazi Germany and facing certain defeat–Hitler shot himself in an underground bunker.

Adolf Hitler

But Hitler may be having the last laugh after all.  His methods and goals are very much alive and flourishing–among the Americans who once drove literally drove him into the earth.

If you doubt it, consider the following from MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews” for August 15, 2012:

MATTHEWS:  Here is a group of less than average Joes.  Joe the Plumber [Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher], Sheriff Joe Arpaio of [Maricopa County] Arizona, and [Illinois Congressman] Joe Walsh all spew insanity.  But rarely do they go back to back to back.

Well, first up, you have Joe the plumber telling an Arizona Republican fund-raiser that he wasn’t worried about being politically correct.  He was going to tell it like it is.  The way to protect the border, he says, is to build a fence and then start shooting.

Samuel Joseph “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher

At that same fund-raiser, Sheriff Joe Arpaio…said his investigation [into] the president’s birth certificate is proceeding and [he] is convinced the document from Honolulu is a fraud.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

And a few days earlier, Tea Party favorite Joe Walsh told a town hall audience in Illinois there were radical Islamists in the Chicago suburbs trying to kill Americans every week.

Congressman Joe Walsh

What do these Joes have in common?  They [are] all trying to be as incendiary as possible and they all succeeded.

Turning to David Cantanese, a reporter for Politico, Matthews says:

MATTHEWS: These are heroes in the Republican culture.  These are people like Donald Trump, he knows how to make money as least.  They love these people, David.  They’re the heroes.

DAVID CATANESE, POLITICO: I would actually put Joe Walsh in a bit of a different category….I think he’s a true believer.

This is a guy who says things on the record that most politicians would never do off the record.  And again, he is an elected congressman in a very tough race.  When he says something, I think he believes it.

I think…the Plumber and the sheriff are more showmen.  They’ve got books to hawk.  Joe the Plumber was revealed that he gets paid sometimes to go into these congressional districts.

Remember, Joe the Plumber is a congressional candidate running in Ohio, what is he doing in Arizona if he really wants to win that race?  You know, it was revealed after her endorsed Herman Cain last year, Herman Cain campaign paid him $10,000.

MATTHEWS: We’ll skip ahead to Joe Walsh and what he’s been saying.  He’s an elected an official, a United States congressman.

Let’s hear what he has to say about the near threat of radical Islam in this country.

REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: In this country, it’s not just over there, trying to kill Americans every week.  It is a real threat.  And it is a threat that is much more at home now than it was right after 9/11.  It’s here. I’s in Elk Grove, it’s in Addison, it’s in Elgin. It’s here.

MATTHEWS: The specificity of this insanity, I guess it`s the old Joe McCarthy trick.  The more specific you sound, the more credible you are.  If you give a lot of details about the near threat of Islamic terrorism in this country plotting against us as a real threat — I guess it rings true to those people watching his pointer there as if he was the mad professor.

Well, there’s one common thing here.  There’s a common thread in this insanity and it’s racial and ethnic.  I mean, they go after people, Mexican-American, and other people who have come here to this country from Latin America, South America, they attack them.  That’s Joe the Plumber.

Arpaio does the same thing.  He’s going after the president because he’s African-American, go after his birth certificate.  Let’s face it, he wouldn’t do it to a white guy.

* * * * *

Candidates like Joe Walsh, Joe Arpaio and “Joe the Plumber” (who isn’t a licensed plumber) don’t get on the ballot by accident.

They do so through the support of men and women whose hates and resentments they share–and exploit.

These voters are seeking a representative who will inflict their hatreds onto those they despise.

Adolf Hitler, for example, did not create anti-Semitism in Germany.  He simply shared it–and exploited this poisonous hatred within his audiences to attain political power.

Postwar Germany, however, had an advantage that America now lacks.

The United States was determined to root out Nazism among the Germans.  And, to a large extent, it succeeded: Germany today is a far different country from the one Hitler ruled.

But who will exorcise America’s own Fascistic elements?

THE PIRATES OF LIMBAUGH

In Entertainment, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on December 20, 2013 at 3:34 pm

On April 8, 2009, four Somali pirates boarded the Maersk Alabama when it was located 240 miles southeast of the Somalian port city of  Eyl.

The ship, en route to Mombasa, Kenya, was carrying 17,000 tons of cargo, including 5,000 tons of relief supplies for Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda.

As the pirates boarded the ship, the crew members locked themselves in the engine room.  To buy time for his crewmen, the captain, Richard Phillips, surrendered to the pirates.

Captain Richard Phillips

The crew later overpowered one of the pirates, and sought to exchange their captive for Phillips.  The crew released the  pirate, but the other three pirates refused to release Phillips.

The pirates left with Philips in a lifeboat which carried ten days of food rations, water and basic survival supplies.

On April 8, the destroyer USSS Bainbridge and the frigate USSS Halyburton were dispatched to the Gulf of Aden to deal with the hostage situation, and reached Maersk Alabama early on April 9.

On April 9, a standoff began between the Bainbridge and the pirates in the Maersk Alabama’s lifeboat, where they continued to hold Phillips hostage

On April 12, marksmen from SEAL Team 6 simultaneously opened fire with telescopic-sighted assault rifles and killed the three pirates on the lifeboat.

The SEALS believed Phillips faced an immediate threat of execution, having received a report that one of the pirates was pointing an AK-47 at his back.

The SEALS, known for their legendary marksmanship, took out all three pirates with shots to the head.

Phillips was rescued in good condition.

The vast majority of Americans rejoiced.  The Maersk Alabama had been the first American cargo ship to be hijacked in 200 years.  And the encounter had ended with the ship and crew safe and its captain rescued without injury.

But not everyone was happy about the outcome.  Naturally, the pirates infesting the Somali coastline were infuriated at this setback.

But, surprisingly, there were some Americans who felt more sympathetically toward the Somali pirates than the man who had ordered Phillips’ rescue: President Barack Obama.

One of these was Rush Limbaugh, the American Right’s chief spokesman.

Rush Limbaugh

The Rush Limbaugh Show airs throughout the U.S. on over 400 stations and is the highest-rated talk-radio program in the United States. When Limbaugh speaks, his “dittohead” audience listens—and acts as he decrees.

On April 14, 2009, Limbaugh gave his take on the rescue of Captain Richard Phillips:

“The Somali pirates, the merchant marine organizers who took a US merchant captain hostage for five days were inexperienced youths, the defense secretary, Roberts Gates, said yesterday, adding that the hijackers were between 17 and 19 years old.

“Now, just imagine the hue and cry had a Republican president ordered the shooting of black teenagers on the high seas….

“They were kids. The story is out, I don’t know if it’s true or not, but apparently the hijackers, these kids, the merchant marine organizers, Muslim kids, were upset.

“They wanted to just give the captain back and head home because they were running out of food.  They were running out of fuel, they were surrounded by all these US Navy ships, big ships, and they just wanted out of there. That’s the story.

“But then when one of them put a gun to the back of the captain, Mr. Phillips, then bam, bam, bam. There you have it, and three teenagers shot on the high seas at the order of President Obama.”

And there you have it–an American Fascist making common cause with the heirs of Blackbeard and Henry Morgan.

Click here: President Obama Ordered the Killing of Three Black Muslim Kids – The Rush Limbaugh Show

In Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare lets Marcus Brutus give his reason for murdering Caesar, his onetime friend: “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”

Limbaugh and his Rightist stooges could have said they opposed the rescue mission for a similar reasono: “Not that we loved the Somali pirates, but that we hate Obama more.”

Consider the comment Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) made on an Iowa radio program on October 3, 2011.

One caller, “Donna,” told Bachmann that the president was a “walking nightmare” who was “blowing up our country.”

“I would vote for Charles Manson before this guy,” she said. “But I’m pulling for you big time, all the way, go Michele!”

“Thank you for saying that,” Bachmann replied.

Thus, Bachmann–who supposedly represented the democratic system–chose as her hero a convicted psychopathic murderer over a legally-elected President.

The rescue of Richard Phillips has been dramatized in the 2013 movie, “Captain Phillips,” starring Tom Hanks in the title role.

Audiences cheered at the climatic moment when the three pirates met their deserved fate.

But what they didn’t see depicted was Limbaugh’s Greek chorus for the Right–and the sheer hatred he and they have for anyone who doesn’t share their Fascistic views.

The ordeal of Captain Phillips and the crew of the Maersk Alabama is over.  But the heirs of Blackbeard  still roam the seas near Somalia.

And the heirs of Francisco Franco, Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini still conspire to remake America in their own Rightist image.

A LIE TOLD BY BULLIES

In History, Politics, Social commentary on April 16, 2013 at 12:05 am

Ernest Hemingway said it best: “Fascism is a lie told by bullies.”

And right-wing pundit Ann Coulter best illustrates the truth of this.

Let’s start at the beginning: On April 7, Martin Bashir, host of MSNBC’s Martin Bashir program, wondered if a personal experience were the only way to get Republicans to drop their threat to block a vote on the gun control legislation that Newtown families were begging them to vote on.

Martin Bashir

After all, United States Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) recently announced his two-year conversion to accepting same-sex marriage after his own son “came out’ as homosexual.

“Nobody is suggesting that the law should only be defined and developed by the victims of crime,” said Bashir.  But also pointed out the overwhelming public support for universal background checks.

“Are these senators simply too frightened of the NRA to do the people’s bidding?” Bashir asked.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) responded: “Martin, I never thought it would happen to me, but on a Friday at 12:00, it was 2 years ago, I got a call my nephew had been killed.  Shot to death at 5:00 in the morning, and he’s dead at 21 years old.”

Cummings’ nephew, Christopher Cummings, was shot and killed in 2011 at his off-campus apartment in Norfolk, Virginia.  His murder has not been solved.

“But Congressman,” Bashir said, “is that what needs to happen to move these senators to stop threatening a filibuster? Is that really what needs to happen? That you need to have a member of your family killed in order for you to do what the American people want you to do?”

“I hope not,” Cummings replied. “I don’t wish this pain on anybody.”

Of course, that was not how the exchange went down in Ann Coulter’s version.

Ann Coulter

In an April 10 column entitled “Liberals Go Crazy for the Mentally Ill,” Coulter offered this tem of a proposal:

“MSNBC’s Martin Bashir suggested that Republican senators need to have a member of their families killed for them to support the Democrats’ gun proposals. (Let’s start with Meghan McCain!)”

Needless to say, Meghan McCain–the daughter of Arizona United States Senator John McCain–was not amused.

“Apparently Ann Coulter made a joke about me being killed in a recent column,” McCain tweeted on April 11. “I should expect nothing less but disgusted regardless.”

And, in another Twitter posting, she wrote: “My father is a very famous politician. My family gets a lot of threats. Joking about me being killed really isn’t funny or appropriate.”

Meghan McCain

She and Coulter have been at odds ever since McCain dared to pen a column entitled, “My Beef With Ann Coulter” in 2009.

In that column–published in The Daily Beast–McCain wrote:

“It is no secret that being a Republican isn’t the most hip political stance a person can take right now….

“To make matters worse, certain individuals continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes about Republicans. Especially Republican women. Who do I feel is the biggest culprit? Ann Coulter.

“I straight up don’t understand this woman or her popularity. I find her offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time….

“Coulter could be the poster woman for the most extreme side of the Republican Party…. Is she for real or not? Are some of her statements just gimmicks to gain publicity for her books or does she actually believe the things she says?

“Does she really believe all Jewish people should be ‘perfected’ and become Christians? And what was she thinking when she said Hillary Clinton was more conservative than my father during the [2008] election?”

The most effective way to hurt an enemy is to tell the truth about him.  Or, as in this case, her.

It’s a “crime” that aggressive venom-spewers like Coulter can never forgive.  And, like most bullies, she refused to accept any responsibility for her action.

“I was making a joke,” Coulter told Sean Hannity on his right-wing The Sean Hannity Show.

“For one thing … that heinous thing Martin Bashir said, nobody knew about that until I added a joke, which is known as hyperbole.”

Of course, Bashir had not called on anyone to kill the members of Republicans’ families–as Coulter had “jokingly” called upon others to kill McCain.

(It was Adolf Hitler who, in Mein Kampf, laid down guidelines for the successful use of propaganda–rules such as “The Big Lie”:

Adolf Hitler

And thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds [people] more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.”)

“You were being sarcastic,” said Hannity.

“I think the exclamation point made it clear,” Coulter said with a smile. “And the fact that everyone laughed when they read it.”

Thus, Fascists like Ann Coulter use the same tactics in the 21st century as Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler used in in the 20th century: Believe what we say or prepare to die.

THE HEIRS OF HITLER

In History, Politics, Social commentary on January 14, 2013 at 1:13 am

It seems so long ago now.

Seventy-one years ago–in December, 1941–America declared war on global Fascism.  And won.

In April, 1945, with Italy in ruins, Benito Mussolini–Il Duce–was shot by anti-Fascist partisans.

Benito Mussolini

In a ravaged Nazi Germany, its Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler shot himself in an underground bunker.

Adolf Hitler

But Hitler and Mussolini may be having the last laugh after all.  Their methods and goals are very much alive and flourishing–among the Americans who once drove them into the earth.

If you doubt it, consider the following from MSNBC’s “Hardball With Chris Matthews” for August 15, 2012:

MATTHEWS:  Here is a group of less than average Joes.  Joe the Plumber [Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher], Sheriff Joe Arpaio of [Maricopa County] Arizona, and [Illinois Congressman] Joe Walsh all spew insanity.  But rarely do they go back to back to back.

Well, first up, you have Joe the plumber telling an Arizona Republican fund-raiser that he wasn’t worried about being politically correct.  He was going to tell it like it is.  The way to protect the border, he says, is to build a fence and then start shooting.

Samuel Joseph “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher

At that same fund-raiser, Sheriff Joe Arpaio…said his investigation [into] the president’s birth certificate is proceeding and [he] is convinced the document from Honolulu is a fraud.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio

And a few days earlier, Tea Party favorite Joe Walsh told a town hall audience in Illinois there were radical Islamists in the Chicago suburbs trying to kill Americans every week.

Congressman Joe Walsh

What do these Joes have in common?  They [are] all trying to be as incendiary as possible and they all succeeded.

Turning to David Cantanese, a reporter for Politico, Matthews says:

MATTHEWS: These are heroes in the Republican culture.  These are people like Donald Trump, he knows how to make money as least.  They love these people, David.  They’re the heroes.

DAVID CATANESE, POLITICO: I would actually put Joe Walsh in a bit of a different category….I think he’s a true believer.

This is a guy who says things on the record that most politicians would never do off the record.  And again, he is an elected congressman in a very tough race.  When he says something, I think he believes it.

I think…the Plumber and the sheriff are more showmen.  They’ve got books to hawk.  Joe the Plumber was revealed that he gets paid sometimes to go into these congressional districts.

Remember, Joe the Plumber is a congressional candidate running in Ohio, what is he doing in Arizona if he really wants to win that race?  You know, it was revealed after her endorsed Herman Cain last year, Herman Cain campaign paid him $10,000.

MATTHEWS: We’ll skip ahead to Joe Walsh and what he’s been saying.  He’s an elected an official, a United States congressman.

Let’s hear what he has to say about the near threat of radical Islam in this country.

REP. JOE WALSH (R), ILLINOIS: In this country, it’s not just over there, trying to kill Americans every week.  It is a real threat.  And it is a threat that is much more at home now than it was right after 9/11.  It’s here. I’s in Elk Grove, it’s in Addison, it’s in Elgin. It’s here.

MATTHEWS: The specificity of this insanity, I guess it`s the old Joe McCarthy trick.  The more specific you sound, the more credible you are.  If you give a lot of details about the near threat of Islamic terrorism in this country plotting against us as a real threat — I guess it rings true to those people watching his pointer there as if he was the mad professor.

Well, there’s one common thing here.  There’s a common thread in this insanity and it’s racial and ethnic.  I mean, they go after people, Mexican-American, and other people who have come here to this country from Latin America, South America, they attack them.  That’s Joe the Plumber.

Arpaio does the same thing.  He’s going after the president because he’s African-American, go after his birth certificate.  Let’s face it, he wouldn’t do it to a white guy.

* * * * *

Candidates like Joe Walsh, Joe Arpaio and “Joe the Plumber” (who isn’t a licensed plumber) don’t get on the ballot by accident.

They do so through the support of men and women whose hates and resentments they share–and exploit.

These voters are seeking a representative who will inflict their hatreds onto those they despise.

Adolf Hitler, for example, did not create anti-Semitism in Germany.  He simply shared it–and exploited this poisonous hatred within his audiences to attain political power.

Postwar Germany, however, had an advantage that America now lacks.

The United States was determined to root out Nazism among the Germans.  And, to a large extent, it succeeded: Germany today is a far different country from the one Hitler ruled.

But who will exorcise America’s own Fascistic elements?

THE MOST DANGEROUS MOMENT: PART TWO (END)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on November 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Oligarchy: a government in which a small group exercises control, especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.

The returns are in.

And Barack Obama has been re-elected to another four years as President of the United States.

For his supporters, it is a time to celebrate.

For his enemies–and that is exactly how they consider themselves–in the Republican party, it is a time to mourn.  And to re-group to take vengeance in the coming months and years.

For the United States Secret Service, it should be a time for the most heightened security.

Make no mistake: Republicans were counting on Mitt Romney to return their party to the heights of absolute power:

  • Commanding the White House and the House of Representatives, they would have dictated American foreign and domestic policy for at least the next four years–and more likely, the next eight.
  • And even though Democrats were expected to retain control of the Senate, there would have been enough Republicans in it to thwart any legislative efforts proposed by Democrats.
  • Romney would have been able to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court–which, by itself, would have influenced American legal and social life for up to 30 years.

And Republicans were counting on more than simply access to unlimited money to defeat Obama.  A major part of their electoral strategy called for suppressing the rights of minorities to vote.

Mike Turzai, Majority Leader of Pennsylvania’s state House of Representatives, admitted this when he outlined a list of accomplishments made by the GOP-run legislature: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

So there will definitely be recriminations.

Many–perhaps most–Republicans will blame Romney for not having been “severely conservative” enough.

They’ll demand that their next Presidential nominee be even more right-wing in his stands on issues.

How right-wing?  Right-wing enough to win the endorsement of classic Fascist leaders like Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco.

A minority will argue–probably in vain–that the party must reach out to youth, blacks, moderate women and–most especially–Latinos.

They will warn: “The days of depending on a whites-only electorate have passed.  And if we don’t own up to this, we, as a party, will also become history.”

For the moment, however, the smart money will be on those hard-core Rightists who control the levers of power within the party.

They will bitterly resist making such “radical” changes.  Partly because they are driven by fascistic ideology.  And partly because they know the activist base of the party is equally driven by the same ideology.

So, for the foreseeable future, they will aim the majority of their anger and disappointment at President Obama.  And so will their “billionaire boys club” financial backers.

Thus, the second threat facing President Obama could be an attempted assassination.

Think of it:

  • Right-wing billionaires were thrilled with the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which ended limits on campaign donations.
  • During the primary season, at least 32 billionaires lavished a minimum of $52 million to Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney.
  • To those losses must now be added the huge returns they expected to make on their investment–in tax breaks for their corporations and tax cuts for themselves.
  • Coal and oil companies were salivating over the coming dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Federally protected areas–such as the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska–would become prime drilling spots.
  • To greed-obsessed Rightists, the words of Niccolo Machiavelli apply with a vengeance: “Men forget more easily the death of their father than the loss of their inheritance.”
  • A number of wealthy right-wingers head private military companies employing former members of such elite military units as Navy SEALS and Army Green Berets.  Many of these companies received millions of dollars in government contracts to supply “hired guns” in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Such CEOs command both the financial and personnel resources to carry out a Presidential assassination
  • “Money buys power,” warns Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist.  “And the increasing wealth of a tiny minority has effectively bought the allegiance of one of our two major political parties.”
  • Access to such unlimited money–and the ideological conviction that they are doing God’s work–might convince some of these oligarchs that they could mount a Presidential assassination–and then buy the legal and/or political protection necessary to get away with it.

Organized crime expert G. Robert Blakey–the former Justice Department official who created the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act–believes that just this happened almost 50 years ago.

President John F. Kennedy had given his brother, Robert, full power as Attorney General to destroy the Mafia.

But the Mafia, Blakey believes, used its own access to unlimited money and assassins to destroy the President.  And then the mobsters used that same unlimited money to buy legal and political influence to escape prosecution.

Such an outrage must not be allowed to happen now.

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