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DONALD TRUMP: TRAGIC HERO?: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 24, 2021 at 12:28 am

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

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

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

Victor Davis Hanson (@VDHanson) | Twitter

Victor Davis Hanson

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

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

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

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

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

The Magnificent Seven (1960 poster).jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hanson sums up the movie thus:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DONALD TRUMP: TRAGIC HERO?: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 23, 2021 at 12:21 am

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

On April 12, 2018, Hanson turned his attention from the ancient world to the modern one in an article published in the well-known conservative magazine, National Review

Its title: “Donald Trump, Tragic Hero.”

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

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

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Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

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

Various theories have been advanced for his decision: He was a religious fanatic; he had a death-wish; he was by nature insubordinate.

Charles George Gordon - Wicipedia

Charles George Gordon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Controversy Surrounding Trump University - ABC News

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

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

Writes Hanson:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PATRIOTISM IN A TIME OF TYRANNY: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 22, 2021 at 12:12 am

On January 8, 2021, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calls a secret meeting in his Pentagon office to review the process for military action, including launching nuclear weapons. 

It’s two days since President Donald Trump incited an attack on the United States Capitol Building to stop the certifying of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. And Milley fears Trump intends to launch a full-fledged coup to remain in power.

He instructs his senior military officials to not take orders from anyone unless he is involved: “No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure.” 

He looks each officer in the eye, and asks him to verbally confirm that he understands. 

Milley Testimony

Mark Milley

Fearful of Trump’s actions in his final weeks as President, Milley twice calls China’s top general, Li Zuocheng, of the People’s Liberation Army.

China is on high alert because of the chaos in the United States.

Milley assures Zuocheng there is no cause to fear an American attack, despite Trump’s provocative rhetoric against China. He promises that he will warn Zuocheng in the event of an American attack.

Donald Trump, in a September 14, 2021 interview on Newsmax, says Milley’s calls to the Chinese could amount to treason: “If it is actually true, which is hard to believe, that he would have called China and done these things and was willing to advise them of an attack, or in advance of an attack, that’s treason.   

“For him to say that I was going to attack China is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

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Donald Trump

At least three Republican Senators and nine members of the House of Representatives have demanded that Milley resign or be fired. 

“He should be court-martialled if true,” Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) writes on Twitter.

“(Milley) worked to actively undermine the sitting commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) posts on Twitter. 

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) disagrees. He tells reporters that Democratic lawmakers “were circumspect in our language [to Milley] but many of us made it clear that we were counting on him to avoid the disaster which we knew could happen at any moment.”

Nazi defendants at Nuremberg had reacted with similar outrage upon learning that former Minister of Armaments Albert Speer had considered assassinating Adolf Hitler. Hitler had given orders for the total destruction of Germany when he realized he had lost World War II. 

“Traitor!” they shouted at Speer in the courtroom.

Former Reichmarshall Herman Goring—who had himself been condemned to death by Hitler in the closing days of the war—vowed: “If we ever get into power again, we’ll execute you for treason!” 

Hermann Göring - Röhr.jpg

Herman Goring

Adding to the pressures on Milley is a blunt phone call from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “What I’m saying to you is that if they couldn’t even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do? And is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this?  

“You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time.”

Milley replied: “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything.” 

After that call, Milley:

  • Orders his top service chiefs to watch everything “all the time.”
  • Tells the director of the National Security Agency: “Needles up. Keep watching, scan.”
  • Tells then-CIA Director Gina Haspel: “Aggressively watch everything, 360.”   

Write Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their forthcoming book, Peril: “Milley was overseeing the mobilization of America’s national security state without the knowledge of the American people or the rest of the world.

“Some might contend that Milley had overstepped his authority and taken extraordinary power for himself, but he believed his actions were a good faith precaution to ensure there was no historic rupture in the international order, no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons.”

Milley has been shocked when, immediately after losing the 2020 election, Trump signs a secret military order withdrawing all America troops from Afghanistan by January 15, 2021—five days before he is scheduled to leave the White House. 

After Trump incites the January 6 attack on the Capitol, write Woodward and Costa, Milley “felt no absolute certainty that the military could control or trust Trump and believed it was his job as the senior military officer to think the unthinkable and take any and all necessary precautions.”

Nor is Milley the only high-ranking national security official who fears Trump’s vindictiveness: CIA Director Gina Haspel warns Milley, “We are on the way to a right-wing coup. The whole thing is insanity. He is acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum.”

Haspel also worries that Trump will try to attack Iran. 

Milley intends above all to ensure a peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden on January 20: 

“We’ve got a plane with four engines and three of them are out. We’ve got no landing gear. But we’re going to land this plane and we’re going to land it safely,” he tells Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

On January 20, 2021, that plane lands safely.

PATRIOTISM IN A TIME OF TYRANNY: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 21, 2021 at 12:07 am

On November 3, 2020, 81,255,933 Democratic voters elect former Vice President Joseph Biden the 46th President of the United States.

President Donald J. Trump, running for a second term, gets 74,196,153 votes. Biden also wins decisively in the Electoral College: 306 votes to 232 for Trump.

Facing the end of his Presidency, Trump desperately seeks to remain in power. Having “joked” about being “President-for-Life,” he’s now fighting to make that a reality.  

He spreads The Big Lie that he has been robbed by fraud. He summons his Stormtrumper followers to Washington, D.C. for a massive “Stop the Steal” rally set for January 6.

It is on that day that members of the House and Senate will meet in the United States Capitol Building to officially count the Electoral College votes. Since that total is known, it’s a foregone conclusion that Biden will be officially pronounced President-Elect.

Unwilling to accept this verdict, Trump demands that his vice president, Mike Pence, refuse to certify the election of Joe Biden as America’s next President.

When Pence refuses to break the law, Trump incites his followers in Washington, D.C., to storm the Capitol building on January 6 to stop the certification.

Melania Trump 'disappointed' by Trump supporters' Capitol riot - ABC7 Chicago

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

The Stormtrumpers march to the United States Capitol—and quickly brush aside Capitol Police.

  • Members of the mob attack police with chemical agents, metal poles and lead pipes.
  • At least 140 police officers suffer injuries, including concussions, broken ribs, smashed spinal discs, a lost eye.
  • Many of the lawmakers’ offices are occupied and vandalized—including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.
  • Lawmakers huddle under desks and behind locked doors, expecting to die any minute.
  • More than three hours pass before police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retake control of the Capitol. 

And Trump? After giving his inflammatory speech, he returns to the White House—to watch his handiwork on television. He initially rebuffs requests to mobilize the National Guard.

With the United States seemingly on the brink of a Trumpian coup, General Mark Milley—Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—steps forward to save his country from a President he distrusts.

Appointed to that position by Trump in 2018, his career includes assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division, 5th Special Forces Group, Joint Readiness Training Center, Operations Staff of the Joint Staff, and Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

Rainer Kuosmanen on Twitter: "US Army General Mark Milley will be the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation's highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military advisor to the

Mark Milley

Two days after the treasonous January 6 attack, Milley single-handedly takes secret action to prevent Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons.

That’s one of a series of startling revelations in Peril, a new book by legendary journalist Bob Woodward and veteran Washington Post reporter Robert Costa.

Milley, deeply shaken by the Capitol assault, “was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.”

“You never know what a president’s trigger point is,” Milley tells his senior staff. 

On January 8, Milley calls a secret meeting in his Pentagon office to review the process for military action, including launching nuclear weapons.

Website Informs Civilians About DOD Opportunities > U.S. Department of Defense > Defense Department News

The Pentagon

Touch Of Light, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

He instructs his senior military officials to not take orders from anyone unless he is involved: “No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure.”

He looks each officer in the eye, and asks him to verbally confirm that he understands.

Fearful of Trump’s actions in his final weeks as President, Milley twice calls China’s top general, Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the two nations will not suddenly go to war. 

China is on high alert because of the chaos in the United States.

Milley assures him there is no cause to fear an American attack, despite Trump’s provocative rhetoric against that country. He promises Zuocheng that he will warn him in the event of an upcoming  American attack:

“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley says in the first call on October 30, 2020. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.

“If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Milley reportedly says.

The second call is on January 8, 2021, to assure Zuocheng the United States isn’t on the brink of collapse.

Zuocheng isn’t easily convinced, even after Milley promises him: “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

According to the Woodward-Costa book, Milley calls the admiral overseeing the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the military unit responsible for Asia and the Pacific region, and recommends postponing upcoming military exercises. 

He also asks senior officers to swear that Milley will be involved if Trump orders the launch of nuclear weapons.

PATRIOTISM IN A TIME OF TRANNY: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 20, 2021 at 12:05 am

Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments for the Third Reich, is appalled.

His Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler—the man he had idolized for 14 years—has just passed a death sentence on Germany, the nation he claimed to love above all others.

On March 19, 1945, facing certain defeat, Hitler had ordered a massive “scorched-earth” campaign throughout Germany.

All German agriculture, industry, ships, communications, roads, food stuffs, mines, bridges, stores and utility plants are to be destroyed.

If implemented, it will deprive the entire German population of even the barest necessities after the war.

Now living in a bunker 50 feet below bomb-shattered Berlin, Hitler gives full vent to his most destructive impulses.

Adolf Hitler addressing boy soldiers as the Third Reich crumbles

“If the war is lost,” Hitler tells Speer, “the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. There is no necessity to take into consideration the basis which the people will need to continue even a most primitive existence.

“On the contrary, it will be better to destroy these things ourselves, because this nation will have proved to be the weaker one and the future will belong solely to the stronger eastern nation.

“Besides, those who will remain after the battle are only the inferior ones, for the good ones have all been killed.”

His attitude is: “If I can’t rule Germany, then there won’t be a Germany.”

Speer argues in vain that there must be a future for the German people. But Hitler refuses to back down. He gives Speer 24 hours to reconsider his opposition to the order.  

The next day, Speer tells Hitler: “My Fuhrer, I stand unconditionally behind you!”

“Then all is well,” says Hitler, suddenly with tears in his eyes.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

“If I stand unreservedly behind you,” says Speer, “then you must entrust me rather than the Gauleiters [district Party leaders serving as provincial governors] with the implementation of your decree.”

Filled with gratitude, Hitler signs the decree Speer has thoughtfully prepared before their fateful meeting.

By doing so, Hitler unintentionally gives Speer the power to thwart his “scorched earth” decree.

Speer has been the closest thing to a friend in Hitler’s life. Trained as an architect, he joined the Nazi Party in 1931.

He met Hitler in 1933, when he presented the Fuhrer with architectural designs for the Nuremberg Rally scheduled for that year.

From then on, Speer became Hitler’s “genius architect” assigned to create buildings meant to last for a thousand years.

In 1943, Hitler appointed him Minister of Armaments, charged with revitalizing the German war effort.

Nevertheless, Speer now crisscrosses Germany, persuading military leaders and district governors to not destroy the vital facilities that would be needed after the war. 

“No other senior National Socialist could have done the job,” writes Randall Hanson, author of Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance After Valkyrie.

Risking death, Speer refuses to carry out Hitler’s “scorched earth” order. Even more important, he successfully blocks such destruction and persuades influential military and civilian leaders to disobey the order as well.

As a result, those targets slated for destruction are spared. 

Despite his later conviction for war crimes at Nuremberg, Speer never regrets his efforts to save Germany from total destruction at the hands of Adolf Hitler. 

Fast forward 75 years: On November 3, 2020, 81,255,933 Democratic voters elect former Vice President Joseph Biden the 46th President of the United States.

President Donald J. Trump, running for a second term, gets 74,196,153 votes. Biden also wins decisively in the Electoral College: 306 votes to 232 for Trump.

Facing the end of his Presidency, Trump desperately seeks to remain in power. Having “joked” about being “President-for-Life,” he’s now fighting to make that a reality.  

Unlike his 44 predecessors, he refuses to concede. For almost three weeks he denies his successor access to the resources he needs to launch a smooth transition.

Donald Trump

Even worse: Instead of showing concern for the country he claims to love, Trump is now relentlessly destroying those institutions that guarantee American freedom and safety:

  • The Pentagon
  • The CIA
  • The FBI
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Trump spreads The Big Lie that the election had been stolen. He repeatedly presses his vice president, Mike Pence, to refuse to certify the election results at the Capitol on January 6. When Pence refuses to break the law, Trump incites his followers to storm the building to stop the vote counting. 

His attitude clearly is: “If I can’t rule America, there won’t be an America.” 

Meanwhile, House and Senate Republicans have embraced his most outrageous lies—or refused to openly refute them—as the COVID-19 pandemic slaughters about 1,000 Americans a day.

Even Republicans who privately admit the Trump era is ending realize that 74 million hate-filled Americans voted for him in 2020. And eagerly await the coming of the next would-be Fuhrer.

They will also eagerly vote out of office any Republican who dares break with the man they worship like a cult leader. 

For Congressional Republicans, staying in office—and keeping their power and perks—is their top priority. 

It is at this moment that one man—General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff—steps forward to save his country from a President he distrusts.

AMERICA’S POISONED CUBAN POLICY STILL HAUNTS US: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 20, 2021 at 12:12 am

“John and Robert Kennedy knew what they were doing. They waged a vicious war against Fidel Castro—a war someone had to lose.”

And the loser turned out to be John F. Kennedy.

So writes investigative reporter Gus Russo in Live By the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK, published in 1998.

In what is almost certainly the definitive account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Russo reaches some startling—but highly documented—conclusions:

  • Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy.
  • He did it alone.
  • Oswald, a former Marine, was a committed Marxist—whose hero was Castro.
  • The CIA’s ongoing campaign to overthrow and/or assassinate Castro was an open secret throughout the Gulf.
  • Oswald visited New Orleans in the spring of 1963.
  • There he learned that Castro was in the crosshairs of the CIA.
  • For this, he blamed John F. Kennedy.
  • Oswald told his Russian-born wife, Marina: “Fidel Castro needs defenders. I’m going to join his army of volunteers.”
  • Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, murdered Oswald because he was distraught over Kennedy’s death.
  • Ruby was not part of a Mafia conspiracy to silence Oswald.
  • Skeptics of the Warren Commission—which concluded that Oswald had acted alone—asked the wrong question: “Who killed Kennedy?”
  • They should have asked: “Why was he killed?”
  • The answer—according to Russo: “The Kennedys’ relentless pursuit of Castro and Cuba backfired in tragedy on that terrible day in November, 1963.”

Another book well worth reading about America’s Cuban obsession during the early 1960s is American Tabloid, by James Ellroy.

Although a novel, it vividly captures the atmosphere of intrigue, danger and sleaziness that permeated that era in a way that dry, historical documents never can.

“The 50’s are finished,” reads its paperback dust jacket. “Zealous young lawyer Robert Kennedy has a red-hot jones to nail Jimmy Hoffa. JFK has his eyes on the Oval Office.

“J. Edgar Hoover is swooping down on the Red Menace. Howard Hughes is dodging subpoenas and digging up Kennedy dirt. And Castro is mopping up the bloody aftermath of his new Communist nation….

“Mob bosses, politicos, snitches, psychos, fall guys and femmes fatale. They’re mixing up a Molotov cocktail guaranteed to end the country’s innocence with a bang.”

Among the legacies of America’s twisted romance with anti-Castro Cubans:

  • The Cuban Missile Crisis remains the single most dangerous moment of the 50-year Cold War, when the world stood only minutes away from nuclear Armageddon.
  • That crisis stemmed from the American Right’s twisted obsession with Cuba, an obsession that continues today.
  • Following the JFK assassination, there was a cover-up.
  • Its purpose: To protect the reputation of the United States Government—and that of its newly-martyred President.
  • The CIA and FBI concealed the CIA-Mafia assassination plots from the Warren Commission assigned to investigate Kennedy’s murder.
  • Other government officials participating in the cover-up included Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • Ironically, this secrecy ignited the widespread—and false—belief that the President had died at the hands of a government conspiracy.
  • Robert Kennedy feared that his relentless pursuit of Castro might have led Castro to “take out” JFK first.
  • Fearing his own assassination if he continued Kennedy’s efforts to murder Castro, President Johnson ordered the CIA to halt its campaign to overthrow and/or assassinate the Cuban leader.
  • The huge Cuban community throughout Florida—and especially Miami—continues to exert a blackmailing influence on American politics.
  • Right-wing politicians from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump have reaped electoral rewards by catering to the demands of this hate-obsessed voting block.
  • These Cuban ex-patriots hope that the United States will launch a full-scale military invasion of the island to remove Castro. 
  • Having grown rich and soft in the United States, they fear to risk their own lives by returning to Cuba to overthrow the Castro regime—Castro he had overthrown Fulgencio Batista.
  • Only President Barack Obama had the political courage to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba—in 2015.
  • This occurred long after the United States had done so with such former enemies as the Soviet Union, China and Vietnam.  
  • President Donald Trump. hoping to please anti-Castro voters in Florida, abandoned engagement and increased sanctions against Cuba.

So what are the lessons to be learned from America’s twisted obsession with Cuba?

  • Americans should initiate major changes in its foreign policy toward Cuba.
  • America should end the half-century contamination of American politics by those Cubans who live only for their hatred of Castro—and those political candidates who live to exploit it. 
  • (For example: Marco Rubio got elected U.S. Senator from Florida in 2010 by claiming that his parents had been forced to leave Cuba in 1959, after Fidel Castro took power. In fact, they had left Cuba in 1956—during the Batista dictatorship.)
  • America needs to end this wag-the-dog relationship. A population of about 1.53 million Cuban exiles living in Florida should not be allowed to shape the domestic and foreign policy of a nation of 333 million.
  • Those who continue to hate—or love—Fidel Castro should be left to their own private feud. But that is a feud they should settle on their own island, and not from the shores of the United States.

AMERICA’S POISONED CUBAN LEGACY STILL HAUNTS US: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 19, 2021 at 12:15 am

On October 22, 1962, President John F. Kennedy went on nationwide TV to announce the discovery of the missiles and his blockade of Cuba.

He warned that any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation would be regarded as an attack on the United States by the Soviet Union—and would trigger “a full retaliatory response” upon the U.S.S.R.

President John F. Kennedy addresses the nation

And he demanded that the Soviets remove all of their offensive weapons from Cuba:

“The path we have chosen for the present is full of hazards, as all paths are, but it is the one most consistent with our character and courage as a nation and our commitments around the world.

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

On October 26,  the United States raised the readiness level of SAC forces to DEFCON 2—the step just short of war. For the only time in U.S. history, B-52 bombers were dispersed to various locations and made ready to take off, fully equipped, on 15 minutes’ notice.

Other measures taken included:

  • One-eighth of America’s 1,436 bombers were on airborne alert.
  • About 145 intercontinental ballistic missiles stood on ready alert.
  • Air Defense Command redeployed 161 nuclear-armed interceptors to 16 dispersal fields within nine hours with one-third maintaining 15-minute alert status.
  • Twenty-three nuclear-armed B-52 were sent to orbit points within striking distance of the Soviet Union.

An invasion date was set for October 29. But the Kennedy Administration–and the American military—didn’t know that the Russian soldiers guarding the missiles had been armed with tactical nuclear weapons.

Had the Marines gone in, those mini-nukes would have been used. And a full-scale nuclear exchange between the United States and the Soviet Union would have almost certainly followed.

At the height of the crisis, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy offered a solution.

Khrushchev had sent two teletypes to Kennedy. The first had agreed to remove the missiles, but the second had demanded that the United States remove its own missiles from Turkey, which bordered the Soviet Union.

Robert Kennedy’s solution: The administration should ignore the second message—and announce that it had accepted Khrushchev’s offer to remove the missiles.

After this announcement was made, President Kennedy said to his advisers: “It can go either way now.”

John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office

The crisis ended on October 28. Under enormous pressure, Khrushchev agreed to remove the missiles from Cuba.

Behind his decision lay a secret promise by the Kennedy administration to remove its obsolete nuclear missiles from Turkey, which bordered the Soviet Union. And a public pledge to not invade Cuba.

On the night the crisis ended, there occurred a prophetic exchange between the two Kennedy brothers.

JFK: “Maybe this is the night I should go to the theater”—a reference to Abraham Lincoln’s fatal attendance of Ford’s Theater at the end of the Civil War.

RFK: “If you go, I want to go with you.”

John F. and Robert F. Kennedy

But President Kennedy was not finished with Castro. While continuing the campaign of sabotage throughout Cuba, the Kennedys were preparing something far bigger: A full-scale American invasion of the island.

On October 4, 1963, the Joint Chiefs of Staff submitted its latest version of the invasion plan, known as OPLAN 380-63.  Its timetable went:

  • January, 1964:  Infiltration into Cuba by Cuban exiles.
  • July 15, 1964:  U.S. conventional forces join the fray.
  • August 3, 1964:  All-out U.S. air strikes on Cuba.
  • October 1, 1964:  Full-scale invasion to install “a government friendly to the U.S.”

During the Cuban Missile Crisis, Robert Kennedy–r-eferring to the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—had resisted demands for a “sneak attack” on Cuba by saying: “I don’t want my brother to be the Tojo of the 1960s.”

Now the Kennedys planned such an attack on Cuba just one month before the November, 1964 Presidential election.

Then fate—in the unlikely figure of Lee Harvey Oswald—intervened.

On November 22, 1963, while the President rode through Dallas in an open-air automobile, a rifle-wielding assassin opened fire. He scored two hits on Kennedy—in the back of the neck and head. The second wound proved instantly fatal.

The nation and the world were shocked—and plunged into deep mourning.

But for some of those who had waged a secret, lethal war against Fidel Castro for the previous two years, Kennedy’s death—at least in retrospect—didn’t come as a surprise.

Robert Kennedy, in particular, spent the remaining years of his life agonizing over the possibility that his highly personal war against Castro had backfired.

That Castro, fed up with the CIA’s assassination plots against him, had retaliated with one of his own.

Robert Kennedy’s fears and guilt were compounded by the fact that, while waging war on Castro, he had waged an equally ruthless crusade against organized crime.

He knew that some of the mobsters he had tried to send to prison had played a major role in the CIA’s efforts to “hit” Castro. Had the Mafia—believing itself the victim of a double-cross—put out a “contract” on JFK instead?  

It was a question that haunted him until the day he died.

AMERICA’S POISONED CUBAN LEGACY STILL HAUNTS US: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 18, 2021 at 12:11 am

In April, 1961, the CIA tried to overthrow the Communist regime of Cuba’s “Maximum Leader,” Fidel Castro, at the Bay of Pigs.

When that failed, President John F. Kennedy ordered Castro’s removal through a campaign of sabotage and assassination.

These covert operatives became known within the CIA as the Special Group, and were ultimately supervised by Robert F. Kennedy, the President’s brother and Attorney General.

The war against Castro became known within the CIA as Operation Mongoose.

But not everyone in the CIA was enthusiastic about the “get Castro” effort.

“Everyone at CIA was surprised at Kennedy’s obsession with Fidel,” recalled Sam Halpern, who was assigned to the Cuba Project. “They thought it was a waste of time. We all knew [Fidel] couldn’t hurt us. Most of us at CIA initially liked Kennedy, but why go after this little guy?

“One thing is for sure: Kennedy wasn’t doing it out of national security concerns. It was a personal thing. The Kennedy family felt personally burnt by the Bay of Pigs and sought revenge.”

It was all-out war. Among the tactics used:

  • Hiring Cuban gangsters to murder Cuban police officials and Soviet technicians.
  • Sabotaging mines.
  • Paying up to $100,000 per “hit” for the murder or kidnapping of Cuban officials.
  • Using biological and chemical warfare against the Cuban sugar industry.

“Bobby (Kennedy) wanted boom and bang all over the island,” recalled Halpern. “It was stupid. The pressure from the White House was very great.”

Among that “boom and bang” were a series of assassination plots against Castro, in which the Mafia was to be a key player.

Chicago Mobster Johnny Roselli proposed a simple plan: through its underworld connections in Cuba, the Mafia would recruit a Cuban in Castro’s entourage, such as a waiter or bodyguard, who would poison him.

The CIA’s Technical Services division produced a botulinus toxin which was then injected into Castro’s favorite brand of cigars. The CIA also produced simpler botulinus toxin pills that could be dissolved in his food or drink.

But the deputized Mafia contacts failed to deliver any of the poisons to Castro. 

Roselli told the CIA that the first poisoner had been discharged from Castro’s employ before he could kill him, and the back-up agent got “cold feet.” 

Other proposals or attempts included:

  • Planting colorful seashells rigged to explode at a site where Castro liked to go skindiving.
  • Trying to arrange for his being presented with a wetsuit impregnated with noxious bacteria and mold spores, or with lethal chemical agents.
  • Attempting to infect Castro’s scuba regulator with tuberculous bacilli.
  • Trying to douse his handkerchiefs, tea and coffee with other lethal bacteria.

Former members of the Kennedy Administration later insisted that neither John nor Robert Kennedy knew or approved of these assassination plots. But the sheer weight of available evidence indicates otherwise.

Bobby, in particular, was constantly pressing the CIA to “do something” about Castro. In the world of covert action, words like “Kill Castro” aren’t committed to paper. Or even spoken.

Castro, rightly seeing his life and regime threatened, appealed to Nikita Khrushchev, leader of the Soviet Union, for assistance.

1960s poster of Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev

Keizers [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D

Khrushchev quickly complied: “We must not allow the communist infant to be strangled in its crib,” he told members of his inner circle.

By October, 1962, the Soviet Union had sent more than

  • 40,000 soldiers,
  • 1,300 field pieces,
  • 700 anti-aircraft guns,
  • 350 tanks and
  • 150 jets

to Cuba to deter another invasion.

Most importantly, Khrushchev began supplying Castro with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.

Their discovery, on October 15, 1962, ignited the single most dangerous confrontation of the 50-year Cold War.

Suddenly, the United States and the Soviet Union—bristling with nuclear weapons—found themselves on the brink of nuclear war.

At the time, Kennedy officials claimed they couldn’t understand why Khrushchev had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba. “Maybe Khrushchev’s gone mad” was a typical public musing.  

This remained the official American view for years afterward—as depicted in Robert Kennedy’s memoir, Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis, published in 1969, the year after his death. 

No admission was made that JFK had been waging a no-holds-barred campaign to overthrow the Cuban government and assassinate its leader.

The same proved true for the 1974 doc-u-drama, The Missiles of October, starring William Devane as John F. Kennedy and Martin Sheen as Robert Kennedy. 

On October 16, President Kennedy was informed of the missile installations. He immediately convened a group of his 12 most important advisers, which became known as Ex-Comm, for Executive Committee.

Then followed seven days of guarded and intense debate by Kennedy and his advisers. Some of the participants—such as Air Force General Curtis LeMay—urged an all-out air strike against the missile sites.

Others—such as Adlai Stevenson, the United States delegate to the United Nations—urged a reliance on quiet diplomacy.

It was Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara who suggested a middle course: A naval blockade—a “quarantine” in Kennedy’s softened term—around Cuba. This would hopefully prevent the arrival of more Soviet offensive weapons on the island.

Finally, the President decided to to impose a naval blockade.

On October 22, Kennedy went on nationwide TV to announce the discovery of the missiles and his blockade of Cuba.

AMERICA’S POISONED CUBAN LEGACY STILL HAUNTS US: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 17, 2021 at 12:12 am

On November 25, 2016, Fidel Castro, Cuba’s longtime “Maximum Leader,” died at the age of 90.

Old age and disease had finally achieved what years of CIA plotting and Mafia assassins could not.

To his supporters he was a tireless champion of the poor and a foe of American imperialism. To his enemies he was a ruthless dictator who drove his country to economic ruin in the name of a failed ideology—communism.

His reign began on January 1, 1959, when he swept triumphantly into Havana after a two-year guerrilla campaign against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista.

Fidel Castro

Almost immediately, hundreds of thousands of Cubans began fleeing to America. The first émigrés were more than 215,000 Batista followers. The exodus increased, peaking at approximately 78,000 in 1962.

In October, 1962, Castro stopped regularly scheduled travel between the two countries, and asylum seekers began sailing from Cuba to Florida.

Between 1962 and 1979, hundreds of thousands of Cubans entered the United States under the Attorney General’s parole authority.

By 2017, more than 1.53 million Cubans were living in Florida, where the population of Miami was about one-third Cuban. Their sheer numbers transformed the state’s political, economic and cultural life.  And not entirely for the better.

Many of these Cubans viewed themselves as political exiles, rather than immigrants, hoping to eventually return to Cuba after its Communist regime fell from power.

With so many discontented immigrants concentrated in Florida, they became a potential force for politicians to court. 

And the issue guaranteed to sway their votes was unrelenting hostility to Castro. Unsurprisingly, most of their votes went to Right-wing Republicans.

John F. Kennedy was the first President to face this dilemma.

During the closing months of the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the CIA had begun training Cuban exiles for an invasion of their former homeland.

The exiles’ goal: To do what Castro had done–seek refuge in the mountains and launch a successful anti-Castro revolution.

But word of the coming invasion quickly leaked: The exiles were terrible secret-keepers. (A joke at the CIA went: “A Cuban thinks a secret is something you tell to only 300 people.”)

Kennedy insisted the invasion must appear to be an entirely Cuban enterprise. He refused to commit U.S. Marines and Air Force bombers.

More than 1,400 invaders landed on April 17, 1961 at the Bay of Pigs—and were quickly overwhelmed, with hundreds of the men taken prisoner.

Kennedy publicly took the blame for its failure: “Victory has a hundred fathers but defeat is an orphan.” But privately he seethed, and ordered the CIA to redouble its efforts to remove Castro at all costs.

To make certain his order was carried out, he appointed his brother, Robert—then Attorney General—to oversee the CIA’s “Castro removal” program.

Robert F. Kennedy and John F. Kennedy

It’s here that America’s obsession with Cuba entered its darkest and most disgraceful period.

The CIA and the Mafia entered into an unholy alliance to assassinate Castro—each for its own benefit: 

  • The CIA wanted to please Kennedy; 
  • The mobsters wanted to regain their casino and brothel holdings that had made Cuba their private playground in pre-Castro times; and
  • They also hoped to use their pose as patriots to win immunity from future prosecution.

The CIA supplied poisons and explosives to various members of the Mafia. It was then up to the mobsters to assassinate Castro.

The CIA asked Johnny Roselli, a mobster linked to the Chicago syndicate, to go to Florida in 1961 and 1962 to organize assassination teams of Cuban exiles. They were to infiltrate their homeland and assassinate Castro.

JohnRoselli.jpg

Johnny Roselli

Roselli called upon two other crime figures: Chicago Mafia boss Sam Giancana and Santos Trafficante, the Cosa Nostra chieftain for Tampa, for assistance.

Sam Giancana.jpg

Sam Giancana

Giancana, using the name “Sam Gold” in his dealings with the CIA, was meanwhile being hounded by the FBI on direct orders of Attorney General Robert Kennedy.

The mobsters were authorized to offer $150,000 to anyone who would kill Castro and were promised any support the Agency could yield.

Giancana was to locate someone who was close enough to Castro to be able to drop pills into his food. Trafficante would serve as courier to Cuba, helping to make arrangements for the murder on the island.

Roselli was to be the main link between all of the participants in the plot.

The available sources disagree on what actually happened. Some believe that the Mob made a genuine effort to “whack” Fidel.

Others are convinced the mobsters simply ran a scam on the government. They pretended to carry out their “patriotic duty” while in fact making no effort at all to penetrate Castro’s security.

The CIA’s war against Castro was known as Operation Mongoose—the mongoose being a traditional enemy of the cobra. And those entrusted with this assignment were known as the Special Group.

“We were hysterical about Castro at about the time of the Bay of Pigs and thereafter,” Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara later testified before Congress about these efforts. “And there was pressure from JFK and RFK to do something about Castro.”

ATTEMPTED COUPS–IN GERMANY AND AMERICA: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 4, 2021 at 12:07 am

On January 6, 2021, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives met to count the Electoral Votes cast for then-President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden.

Trump knew that Biden has received more Electoral College votes than he had—306 to 232. 

And he wanted that vote-count stopped—thus allowing him to remain in office as “President-for-Life.”

For weeks Trump had ordered his legions of Right-wing Stormtrumpers to descend on Washington, D.C. on January 6. 

On December 20, 2020, he had tweeted: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” 

In tweets, he promoted the rally again on December 27 and 30, and January 1.

Thus, through his lies, he had aroused the fury of his Right-wing supporters.

It would take only his command to send it hurtling at his perceived enemies: Those who would dare elect Joe Biden in his place.

Melania Trump 'disappointed' by Trump supporters' Capitol riot - ABC7 Chicago

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

On January 6, Trump appeared at the Ellipse, a 52-acre park south of the White House fence and north of Constitution Avenue and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

A stage had been set up for him to address tens of thousands of his supporters, who eagerly awaited him.  

Trump ordered them to march on the Capitol building to express their anger at the voting process and to intimidate their elected officials to reject the results: 

“And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.

Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated.”

The Stormtrumpers marched to the United States Capitol—and quickly overwhelmed Capitol Police.

  • Members of the mob attacked police with chemical agents or lead pipes. 
  • Many of the lawmakers’ office buildings were occupied  and  vandalized—including  that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.
  • Shouts of “Hang Pence!” and “Hang Pelosi!” often rang out. 
  • According to CBS News, more than 150 officers were injured in the attack.
  • Several rioters carried plastic handcuffs, possibly intending to take hostages.
  • Others carried treasonous Confederate flags.  

After more than three hours, police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. 

And Trump?  After giving his inflammatory speech, he didn’t march with his followers to the Capitol.

Like the draft-dodger he had been during the Vietnam war, he kept himself out of harm’s way and returned to the White House.

There he watched his handiwork on television—and initially rebuffed requests to mobilize the National Guard.

Six months later—by July 30—599 Stormtrumpers had been arrested and charged.

  • At least 27 defendants have pleaded guilty.
  • At least 22 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.
  • Six have pleaded guilty to felonies.
  • Three defendants have been sentenced: One drew a sentence of eight months for a felony. Two were sentenced for misdemeanor charges.
  • Another was sentenced to three years probation and no jail time.
  • Another was sentenced to six months imprisonment, but was credited for the time he had already spent in jail awaiting trial.

Yet no major Trump supporter has been arrested, let alone indicted.

  • NOT Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who cried to the demonstrators, “Let’s have trial by combat!”
  • NOT Donald Trump, Jr., who, just hours before the Trump mob stormed Congress, threatened Republican lawmakers at a large rally outside the White House: “These guys better fight for Trump. Because if they’re not, guess what? I’m going to be in your backyard in a couple of months!”
  • NOT Rep, Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) who incited the Trump crowd with: “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!”
  • And, above all, NOT Donald Trump. He not only incited his followers to attack the Capitol, he has spent the last six months spreading poisonous lies that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him through “massive” voter fraud. As a result, he continues to undermine the democratic process as he terrorizes the Republican party to stand behind him.

For attempting to overthrow the government of Bavaria in 1923, Adolf Hitler could have spent five years in prison. Instead, a sympathetic Right-leaning judge gave him only nine months.

Had he served out his full sentence, he might not have been able to revive his political career. But once he emerged from prison, he reorganized the Nazi party and began a series of campaigns for the presidency.

By January 30, 1933, he had become Chancellor of Germany. By August, 1934, he had become absolute dictator.

At the battle of the Alamo, 200 Texans killed 600 Mexican soldiers before being overwhelmed. During the Capitol battle, hundreds of police killed one Stormtrumper, thus sending the message: You can commit treason with impunity.

The Justice Department must soon indict, prosecute and—hopefully—convict Donald Trump—to both punish his treason and warn his potential imitators of treason’s penalties.

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