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Posts Tagged ‘CIVIL WAR’

MAJOR DUNDEE: LESSONS FOR OUR TIME

In Entertainment, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 16, 2022 at 12:50 am

Major Dundee is a 1965 Sam Peckinpah Western focusing on a Union cavalry officer (Charlton Heston) who leads a motley troop of soldiers into Mexico to rescue three children kidnapped by Apaches.

Along the way they liberate Mexican villagers and clash with French lancers trying to establish Mexico as a French colony under would-be emperor Archduke Maximilian 1.

The Wild Bunch is universally recognized as Peckinpah’s greatest achievement. It has certainly had a far greater impact on audiences and critics than Major Dundee. According to Heston, this was really the movie Peckinpah wanted to make while making Dundee, but he couldn’t quite get his mind around it.

As a result, Dundee’s virtues have been tragically overlooked. It has a larger cast of major characters than Bunch, and these are men an audience can truly like and identify with:

  • The charm of Benjamin Tyreen (Richard Harris), a Confederate lieutenant forced into Union service;
  • The steady courage of Sergeant Gomez;
  • The quiet dignity of Aesop (Brock Peters), a black soldier;
  • The quest for maturity in young, untried bugler Tim Ryan (Michael Anderson, Jr.);
  • The on-the-job training experience of impetuous Lt. Graham (Jim Hutton); and
  • The stoic endurance of Indian scout Sam Potts (James Coburn).

These men are charged with a dangerous and dirty mission, and do it as well as they can, but you wouldn’t fear inviting them to meet your family.

,Major Dundee

Major Dundee (Charlton Heston)

That was definitely not the case with The Wild Bunch, four hardened killers prepared to rip off anyone, anytime, and leave a trail of bodies in their wake. The only place where you would have felt safe seeing them, in real-life, was behind prison bars.

The Wild Bunch

Dundee is an odyssey movie, in the same vein as Saving Private Ryan. Both films start with a battle, followed by the disappearance of characters who need to be searched for and brought back to safety.

Just as Dundee assembles a small force to go into Mexico, so, too, does Captain John Miller (Tom Hanks) do the same, with his hunting ground being France.

Dundee’s men retrieve the kidnapped children and survive a near-fatal battle with Indians. Miller’s men twice clash with the Germans before finding their quarry, James Ryan.

Before Dundee can return to the United States, he must face and defeat a corps of French soldiers. Before Miller can haul Ryan back to safety, he must repulse a German assault.

Both groups of soldiers—Dundee’s and Miller’s—are transformed by their experiences in ways neither group could possibly articulate. (Miller, being a highly literate schoolteacher, would surely do a better job of this than the tight-jawed Dundee.)

Dundee’s soldiers return to a United States that’s just ended its Civil War with a Union victory—and the death of slavery. Miller’s soldiers return to a nation that is now a global superpower.

Of course, Ryan was fortunate in having Steven Spielberg as its director.  With his clout, there was no question that Ryan would emerge as the film he wanted.

Peckinpah lacked such clout. And he fought with everyone, including the producer, Jerry Bressler, who ultimately held the power to destroy his film. This guaranteed that his movie would emerge far differently than he had envisioned.

Sam Peckinpah.JPG

Sam Peckinpah

In 2005, an extended version of Dundee was released, featuring 12 minutes of restored footage. (Much of the original footage was lost after severe cuts to the movie.)

In this new version, we fully see how unsympathetic a character the martinet Dundee really is. Owing to Heston’s career of playing heroes—such as Moses and El Cid—it’s easy to overlook Dundee’s arrogance and lethal fanaticism and automatically view him as a hero.

If he is indeed that, he is a hero with serious flaws.

And his self-imposed mission poses questions for us today:

  • Where is the line between professional duty and personal fanaticism?
  • How do we balance the success of a mission against its potential costs—especially if they prove appalling?
  • At what point—if any—does personal conscience override professional obligations?

Whether intentionally or not, in Major Dundee, Peckinpah laid out a microcosm of the American history that would immediately follow the Civil War.

Former Confederates and Unionists would forego their regional animosities and fight against a recognized mutual enemy—the Indians. This would prove a dirty and drawn-out war, stripped of the glory and (later) treasured memories of the Civil War.

Just as Dundee’s final battle with French lancers ended with an American victory won at great cost, so, too, would America’s forays into the Spanish-American War and World Wars 1 and 11 prove the same.

Ben Tyreen’s commentary on the barbarism of French troops (“Never underestimate the value of a European education”) would be echoed by twentieth-century Americans uncovering the horrors of Dachau and Buchenwald.

And America would learn to project its formidable military power at great cost. Toward the end of the movie, Teresa Santiago (Senta Berger), the ex-patriot Austrian widow, would ask Dundee: “But who do you answer to?

It is a question that still vividly expresses the view of the international community as this superpower colossus hurtles from one often-disastrous conflict to the next.

NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI TO JOE BIDEN: “NICE GUYS FINISH LAST”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on January 18, 2022 at 12:08 am

President Joe Biden faces opposition not only from Republicans but Right-wing Democrats as well. 

One of these is West Virginia United States Senator Joe Manchin. 

On June 7, 2021, The PBS Newshour examined perhaps the foremost issue of our democracy: The For the People Act.

Since November 3, 2020, when former President Donald Trump lost the Presidential election, he has spread The Big Lie: That the election was “stolen” from him.

On the basis of that lie, Republicans in 47 states have introduced 361 bills to make it harder to vote.

As of June 21, 2021, 17 states enacted 28 new laws that restrict access to the vote. 

Among those states affected: Georgia, Iowa, Arkansas and Utah.

Georgia:

  • Bans giving food and water to voters in line;
  • Severely restricts mail ballot drop boxes;
  • Allows Right-wing groups to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters; and
  • Gives the GOP-controlled legislature sweeping powers over election administration.

Arizona:

  • Wants to add new requirements for casting a mail-in ballot and make it harder to receive one. 

Florida:

  • Intends to ban mail ballot drop boxes.

Michigan:

  • Republicans introduced eight bills adding new voter ID requirements for mail voting and forbidding election officials to send out absentee ballot request forms to voters.

Congressional Democrats have countered with the For the People Act.  Among its provisions:

  • Expand early voting and registration across the country in federal elections;
  • Block states from purging their rolls of voters;
  • End partisan gerrymandering;
  • Force large donors to disclose themselves publicly.

“It is something that is obviously very critical right now,” said  PBS Newshour Correspondent Lisa Desjardins. “We see rising in this country both sides talking about democracy and voting rights and what’s happening at this moment.

“[West Virginia United States Senator] Joe Manchin…would be the 50th vote that Democrats would have for this in the Senate. They have 49.

Senator Manchin.jpg

Joe Manchin

“And here’s what he said [on] why he opposed it: ‘I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy. And for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act.’

“Notable, he did not have any substantive problems with the bill that he raised. Instead, he said, the issue is there are no Republicans on board.” 

Manchin thus ignores the reality that Republicans will never be on board.

“This Manchin decision is a body blow to this legislation. It is not dead yet, but it is in real trouble. It’s unclear if, when [New York Senator] Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader [in the Senate] will bring it back up,” said Desjardins.

Many Democrats and political correspondents have speculated about Manchin’s motives for opposing this legislation.

Some believe he’s a Right-winger in Democrats’ clothing. Others think he wants to increase his clout on behalf of his state, West Virginia. 

Manchin’s motives, however, are not important. Eliminating his opposition is.

And the man who has the power to do this is President Joe Biden.

All that he needs to do is invite Manchin into the Oval Office for an off-the-record talk, which could open like this:

“Your state has two Coast Guard military bases. By this time next week, it will have only one—because I’m going to close down the other. You can also forget about those highway-repair projects you’re expecting to start. And I’ve been informed we have far too many post offices in West Virginia, considering its small population….”

Suddenly, Manchin would get the clear message: “Biden is the big dog on this block, not me.”

He would also grasp that his constituents would blame him, not Biden, for the resulting chaos and hardships they face from the upcoming closures. 

This is precisely how President Lyndon B. Johnson dealt with Congressional members who dared oppose his prized legislation. And it worked.

Joe Biden has spent 44 years in Washington, D.C.—as a United States Senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009; and then as Vice President from 2009 to 2017.

But he seems to have never read Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous warning in The Prince:

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.jpg

Niccolo Machiavelli

For how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather learn to bring about his own ruin rather than his preservation.  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.

Whatever his motives, Manchin is clearly willing to allow Republicans to suppress the voting rights of millions of non-Fascist Americans.

President Joe Biden now faces a moment of crisis: He can fight his enemies with the same ruthless tactics they routinely use–or face disaster.

Republicans are working to corrupt the democratic process to reinstall a proven criminal and traitor in the Oval Office.

This is no time to “fight” a party of Adolf Hitlers with the appeasement tactics of a Neville Chamberlain.

NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI TO JOE BIDEN: “NICE GUYS FINISH LAST”: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on January 17, 2022 at 12:12 am

Joseph Robinette Biden is fast approaching the one-year anniversary of his Inauguration as the 46th President of the United States. 

At 79, he has spent virtually his entire adult life in politics: As a United States Senator from Delaware (1973 – 2009); as Vice President of the United States (2009 – 2017); and now as President.

Yet for all of his decades of political experience, he seems to have never read the works of the man who has been called “the father of modern politics”—Niccolo Machiavelli.

Or, if he has, he has clearly learned nothing from them.

Consider Machiavelli’s advice for well-intentioned people like Biden in his classic work: The Prince:

“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.”

Quote by Machiavelli: “Necessity is what impels men to take action ...

Niccolo Machiavelli

On November 3, 2020, Biden became President-elect of the United States by winning 81,283,495 votes, or 51.4% of the vote, compared to 74,223,755 votes, or 46.9% of the vote cast for President Donald Trump.

In the Electoral College—which actually determines the winner—the results were even more stunning: 306 votes for Biden, compared with 232 for Trump. It takes 270 votes to be declared the victor. 

Yet, on December 8,  Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Missouri United States Senator Roy Blunt joined House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in blocking a resolution asserting that Joe Biden was the President-elect of the United States.

Mitch McConnell portrait 2016.jpg

Mitch McConnell

And for more than a year since the 2020 Presidential election, the vast majority of Republicans have continued to charge that Biden gained office by massive voter fraud—and thus is an illegitimate President. 

Yet Biden continues to refer to his sworn enemies as “my Republican friends.”

As Achilles scornfully tells the soon-to-be-doomed Hector in the 2004 movie, “Troy”: “There can be no pacts between wolves and men.”

Joe Biden's Next Big Decision: Choosing A Running Mate | Voice of America - English

Joe Biden

Machiavelli’s advice: 

From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved. The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved. 

For it may be said of men in general that they are ungrateful, voluble, dissemblers, anxious to avoid danger and covetous of gain; as long as you benefit them, they are entirely yours: they offer you their blood, their goods, their life and their children, when the necessity is remote, but when it approaches, they revolt. 

And the prince who has relied solely on their words, without making other preparations, is ruined; for the friendship which is gained by purchase and not through grandeur and nobility of spirit is bought but not secured, and at a pinch is not to be expended in your service. 

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

With that in mind, Biden should go directly after McConnell himself.

Option #1: A May 8, 2018 story in The Dallas Morning News spotlights “How Putin’s Oligarchs Funneled Millions into GOP Campaigns.” In 2016, Len Blavatnik gave $1 million to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund. 

In 2017, Blavatnik gave another $1 million to the fund, and then another $3.5 million to a Political Action Committee associated with McConnell.

A serious investigation by the Justice Department could lead to McConnell’s indictment—for bribery or other campaign finance violations.

Option #2: According to an April 15, 2020 story in Courier: “Here’s How Much McConnell Got From Big Pharma After Nixing a Bill to Lower Drug Prices”:

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in September that he would block any consideration of a bill to lower prescription drug costs. By the end of December, he had raked in more than $50,000 in contributions from political action committees and individuals tied to the pharmaceutical industry.”

McConnell could be investigated—and possibly indicted—for bribery.

Even if McConnell escaped prison, such a prosecution would dramatically inform Republicans that a new era of accountability had arrived.

Option #3: As President, Biden could divert Federal projects from McConnell’s Kentucky—and other Republican states.

President Lyndon Johnson successfully employed this tactic to keep Republican—and Democratic—troublemakers in line. Once they saw projects for roads, post offices and other Federal amenities disappearing from their districts, they quickly got the message as to who was in charge.

Option 4: McConnell has blamed Biden for the slowing COVID-19 vaccination rate among Americans.

Biden could attack Republicans for promoting lies about the safety of COVID vaccines—and for opposing mask and vaccine mandates. He could blame the worsening Omicrom epidemic—and its resulting deaths—on anti-vaxxers, thus putting them and their Republican supporters on the defensive.

Above all, Biden should constantly remember: For Republicans, the mathematics of power come down to this: Who/Whom. 

Or: Who can do What to Whom? 

PREVENTING THE COMING DICTATORSHIP: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 6, 2022 at 12:12 am

On January 6, 2021, thousands of Right-wing Donald Trump supporters—many of them armed—stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

After overwhelming the Capitol Police force, they damaged and occupied parts of the building for several hours. Legislators huddled fearfully while National Guard units from several states finally evicted the insurrectionists.  

The Capitol attack marked the first time in American history when a defeated Presidential candidate violently sought to remain in office.

It may also mark a desperately-needed change in the priorities of American law enforcement, which has traditionally focused on Left-wingers—and especially blacks—as the country’s mortal enemies.

Option 2: The Justice Department could begin waging all-out war on Right-wing militia groups planning to unleash violence in 2024. 

Numerous commentators have noted the contrast between the tepid police response to the Capitol attack by white Right-wingers and the brutal crackdown on peaceful liberal blacks protesting the murder of George Floyd in Washington D.C. on June 1, 2020.

U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops used tear gas, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades, horses, shields and batons to clear protesters from Lafayette Square—so Trump could stage a photo-op at St. John’s Episcopal Church. 

After 9/11, American law enforcement and Intelligence agencies initiated major reforms to focus on Islamic terrorism.

A similar reform effort, focusing on Right-wing terrorism, could include the following:

  • The FBI’s designating Right-wing political and terrorist groups as the Nation’s #1 enemy.  
  • Reviving the FBI’s legendary COINTELPRO (“Counterintelligence Program”) that destroyed the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1960s. Among the methods that can be used:  
  • Turning the Bureau’s powerful arsenal—bugs, wiretaps, informants, SWAT teams—on them.
  • Buying the cooperation of informants within Right-wing organizations.
  • Conducting “black bag jobs” to steal membership lists of of Right-wing organizations.
  • Breaking up the marriages of prominent Right-wingers by circulating rumors of their infidelity among their wives.
  • Informing the employers of known Right-wing terrorists of their employees’ criminal activity, resulting in the firing of untold numbers of them.
  • Contacting the news media to publicize the arrests of prominent Right-wing leaders.
  • When Right-wing terrorists target Federal law enforcement agents and/or their families for harassment or worse, they can be targeted for similar intimidation or removal.

FBI SWAT Team Training - YouTube

FBI SWAT member

A revised COINTELPRO could be supplemented by the following: 

  • Creating tip hotlines for reporting illegal Right-wing activities—and offering rewards for information that leads to arrests.
  • Prosecuting militia groups for violating Federal firearms laws. 
  • Treating calls for the murder of members of Congress—as Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has done—as felonies punishable by lengthy imprisonment.
  • Prosecuting Right-wing leaders involved in the treasonous assault on the United States Capitol Building.
  • Prosecuting as “accessories to treason” all those Republican members of Congress who stoked Right-wing anger by lying that the 2020 Presidential election had been stolen from Donald Trump, although every objective news source proved he had lost.
  • Directing the Treasury Department’s Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) at fundamentalist Christian churches that finance Right-wing terrorism-–just as it halts the financing of Islamic terrorist groups by Islamic organizations.

Related image

  • Using drones, planes and/or helicopters to provide security against similar Right-wing terror demonstrations—especially in Washington, D.C.
  • Using the Federal Communications Commission to ban Fox News—the Nation’s #1 Right-wing propaganda network—from representing itself as a legitimate news network, and requiring that its stories carry labels warning viewers: “This is Right-wing propaganda, NOT news.”
  • Encouraging victims of Right-wing hate-speech to file libel/slander lawsuits against their abusers—such as the parents of murdered children at Sandy Hook Elementary School successfully did against Alex Jones. 
  • Using Federal anti-terrorist laws to arrest, prosecute and imprison Right-wingers who openly carry firearms and threaten violence, even if states allow such display of firearms. 
  • Seizing the assets of individuals and organizations found guilty of Right-wing terrorism offenses. 

Option 3: The “Caligula Solution.” 

Like Donald Trump, the Roman emperor Gaius Caligula delighted in humiliating others. His fatal mistake was taunting Cassius Chaerea, a member of his own bodyguard. 

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

Trump has similarly behaved arrogantly toward his Secret Service guards.

  • He forced them to work without pay during his 35-day government shutdown in 2018.
  • He also forced them to accompany him to COVID-infected states—both during the Presidential campaign and afterward.
  • Many of them have been stricken with this often lethal disease as a result.

Even as an ex-President, Trump continues to insult anyone who challenges him. This includes not only Democrats but Republicans he feels don’t pay him sufficient homage—or, worse, dare to oppose him for the party’s 2024 Presidential nomination.

At the same time, he publicly exposes himself to a potential assassin virtually every day. And the mere presence of bodyguards is no guarantee against assassination. 

Presidential candidate George C. Wallace was shot and paralyzed by a gunman while mingling with supporters in a Maryland shopping center in 1972. And President Ronald Reagan was shot and almost killed in 1981 while walking to his bulletproof limousine in Washington, D.C.

Both men were under protection by the U.S. Secret Service at the time. 

PREVENTING THE COMING DICTATORSHIP: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Social commentary on January 5, 2022 at 12:16 am

Can a Republican coup—or a Republican-inspired civil war—be prevented? 

In theory, yes—if the administration of President Joseph Biden is willing to use the same methods America has applied against foreign enemies.

Option 1: The Justice Department could wage all-out war on state and Federal Republican politicians plotting to subvert American democracy. 

By December 14, 2021—11 months after the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol—more than 726 Stormtrumper rioters had been arrested and charged.

Yet no major Donald Trump supporter has been arrested, let alone criminally 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!”
  • And, above all, NOT Donald Trump. He not only incited his followers to attack the Capitol, he has spent the last year 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.

Had anyone but a President orchestrated such an attack on Congress, the Justice Department would have come down on him with a vengeance. 

Obstructing Congressional or administrative proceedings is a Federal offense. According to 18 U.S.C 1505: It’s a felony, punishable by imprisonment of five to eight years if domestic or international terrorism is involved.

Before a prosecution can be initiated, three essential conditions must be met:

  1. There must be a proceeding pending before a department or agency of the United States.
  2. The defendant must know that a proceeding was occurring.
  3. S/he must have intentionally tried to “corruptly” influence, obstruct or impede the pending proceeding.

Every one of the men and women who stormed the Capitol Building stands guilty of violating U.S.C. 1505.

And so do those who egged them on—such as Missouri Rep. Mo Brooks and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley.

Still other Republican Congressional members played a coup-supporting role in trying to overturn the results of a legitimate Presidential election.

Hours after the Capitol attack, 147 Republicans who hid during the attempted coup returned to the House and Senate floors and voted just as Trump wanted them to: To overturn the election results in his favor, based on lies about widespread voter fraud.

The Justice Department could charge every one of these Congressional members as an accessory to terrorism under the USA Patriot Act for “activities that…appear to be intended…to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion [and]…occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

United States Department of Justice

Had this happened early in 2021—by March or April at the latest—this would have sent a message that even the most ardent Trump supporters would have understood.

In addition, this would have deprived Republicans of the numerical power to obstruct the legislative agenda of the Joseph Biden administration.

Those members indicted would have been forced to spend most of their time strategizing with their attorneys to stay out of prison. They would have been forced to pony up huge legal fees—which would have had to come from funds intended for re-election campaigns.

(Contrary to popular belief, indictment—or even a felony conviction—of a member of Congress does not force him to vacate his seat.)

Option 2: The Justice Department could begin waging all-out war on Right-wing militia groups planning to unleash violence in 2024. 

According to American political scientist George Michael: “Right-wing terrorism and violence has a long history in America.”

The Supreme Court’s decision, in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), striking down segregated facilities, unleashed a wave of Ku Klux Klan violence against blacks, civil rights activists and Jews. Between 1956 and 1963, an estimated 130 bombings ravaged the South. 

File:KKK-Flag.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Ku Klux Klan flag

During the 1980s, more than 75 Right-wing extremists were prosecuted in the United States for acts of terrorism, carrying out six attacks.

The April 19, 1995 attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people. It was the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States until 9/11.

By 2020, Right-wing terrorism accounted for the majority of terrorist attacks and plots in the United States. A 2017 Government Accountability Office report stated that Right-wing extremist groups were responsible for 73% of violent extremist incidents resulting in deaths since September 12, 2001.

Right-wing violence rose sharply during the Barack Obama administration and especially during the Presidency of Donald Trump. His remark after the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that there were “some very fine people on both sides” convinced white supremacists that he favored their goals, if not their methods.

On January 6, 2021, thousands of Right-wing Donald Trump supporters—many of them armed—stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Congress Under Attack, Trump Supporters Enter Capitol Building - YouTube

Their goal: To stop members of Congress from counting Electoral Votes cast in the 2020 Presidential election, from which former Vice President Joseph R. Biden was expected to emerge the winner. 

PREVENTING THE COMING DICTATORSHIP: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 4, 2022 at 12:54 am

“For more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party’s national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft. Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election.”

So opened a frightening, December 9, 2021 article in The Atlantic: “Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun.” 

Wrote Barton Gellman:    

“They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject.

“They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.”

Can this be pre-empted?  

In theory, yes—provided those in the administration of President Joseph Biden are willing to use the same methods America has applied against foreign enemies.

Option 1: The Justice Department could wage all-out war on state and Federal Republican politicians plotting to subvert American democracy.  

Seal of the United States Department of Justice.svg

Seal of the Justice Department

The place to start would be with former President Donald Trump. 

On January 6, 2021, he incited—on TV—thousands of his fanatical supporters to storm the United States Capitol Building where Electoral College votes in the 2020 Presidential election were being counted.  

Trump knew that former Vice President Joseph Biden had 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 Joseph 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. NEXT UP: How the Justice Department can prosecute Trump-supporting Republican politicians.  

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.  

These are some of the high-profile figures who were seen storming the US Capitol

Stormtrumpers scaling Capitol Building walls

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 returned to the White House to watch his handiwork on television. Although he received multiple pleas to publicly call for his supporter to stand down, he refused to do so.

Eleven months later—by December 14—more than 726 Stormtrumper rioters had been arrested and charged.

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!”
  • And, above all, NOT Donald Trump. He not only incited his followers to attack the Capitol, he has spent the last year spreading poisonous lies that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him through “massive” voter fraud. To this day, he continues to undermine the democratic process as he terrorizes the Republican party to stand behind him.

NEXT UP: How to prosecute Trump-supporting Republican politicians.  

PREVENTING THE COMING DICTATORSHIP: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 3, 2022 at 12:11 am

If a second American Civil War erupts, it will be vastly different from the first one.

The first one lasted from 1861 to 1865. It pitted 13 Southern states against 19 fighting for the Union. 

The Southern states consisted of: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and Missouri. 

The states fighting for the Union consisted of: Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, California, Nevada, and Oregon.

Map of U.S. showing two kinds of Union states, two phases of secession and territories

Civil War America

Júlio Reis, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

It’s estimated that 750,000 Americans lost their lives during the Civil War—110,000 Union soldiers died in battle as opposed to 258,000 Confederates

The overwhelming reason for the war: Slavery. Southern states wanted to preserve it. Northern ones wanted to abolish it. And, in 1860, Northern states had elected Abraham Lincoln—an anti-slavery candidate—the 16th President of the United States.

But the blunt truth remained: Lincoln had no authority to abolish slavery—which had been legally upheld by the United States Supreme Court. And, in his Inaugural Address, he said exactly that:

“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

But he warned that he would not allow the Union to be peacefully dissolved. “We cannot separate. …The Union….will constitutionally defend, and maintain itself.

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors.”

A bearded Abraham Lincoln showing his head and shoulders

Abraham Lincoln

Ultimately, the South wanted to secede from the Union to preserve its “peculiar institution.” It did not seek to conquer the North and made no military moves against it—until April 12, 1861. 

That was when Confederate batteries in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor opened fire on Union Fort Sumter. The next day, the fort surrendered. 

The attack led directly to the outbreak of the American Civil War, which lasted until April 9, 1865. Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union general Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. 

A second Civil War would erupt with an entirely different goal in mind. Republican states do not want to be “left alone” by Washington and/or Democratic-controlled states. They want to rule Democratically-controlled states from Washington.

And their populations believe that, through Donald Trump, they can achieve just such control. 

Related image

Donald Trump

To achieve victory in the 2024 Presidential election, legislators in Republican-controlled states are now working to nullify the votes of millions of Democratic voters

Thousands—or millions—of votes will be thrown away, to ensure that the Democratic winner will be declared the loser. The Republican loser will be certified president-elect.

According to a December 9, 2021 article in The Atlantic“Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun”-–while those who believe in democracy are blissfully ignoring the approaching threat:

Democrats, big and small D, are not behaving as if they believe the threat is real. Some of them, including President Joe Biden, have taken passing rhetorical notice, but their attention wanders. They are making a grievous mistake.”

“The democratic emergency is already here,” says Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at UC Irvine. “We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024, but urgent action is not happening.”

And retiring journalist Brian Williams echoes this fear:

“My biggest worry is for my country. I’m not a liberal or a conservative. I’m an institutionalist. I believe in this place. And in my love of my country I yield to no one, but the darkness on the edge of town has spread to the main roads and highways and neighborhoods. It’s now at the local bar and the bowling alley, the school broad and the grocery store. It must be acknowledged and answered for.

“Grown men and women who swore an oath to our constitution, elected by our constituents, possessing the kinds of college degrees I can only dream of, have decided to join the mob and become something they are not, while hoping we somehow forget who they were. They’ve decided to burn it all down with us inside. That should scare you to no end as much as it scares an aging volunteer fireman.” 

Brian Williams is leaving MSNBC. What's next? - CNN Video

Brian Williams

From The Atlantic

“For more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party’s national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft. Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election.

“They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject.” 

NEXT UP: How the coming Donald Trump dictatorship can be prevented.

BIDEN NEEDS A LESSON FROM MACHIAVELLI

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 16, 2021 at 12:07 am

On June 7, The PBS Newshour examined perhaps the foremost issue of our democracy: The For the People Act.

Since November 3, 2020, when former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 Presidential election, he has spread The Big Lie: That the election was “stolen” from him.

On the basis of that lie, Republicans in 47 states have introduced 361 bills to make it harder to vote.

As of June 21, 2021, 17 states enacted 28 new laws that restrict access to the vote. 

Among those states affected: Georgia, Iowa, Arkansas and Utah.

Georgia:

  • Bans giving food and water to voters in line;
  • Severely restricts mail ballot drop boxes;
  • Allows Right-wing groups to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters; and
  • Gives the GOP-controlled legislature sweeping powers over election administration.

Arizona:

  • Wants to add new requirements for casting a mail-in ballot and make it harder to receive one. 

Florida:

  • Intends to ban mail ballot drop boxes.

Michigan:

  • Republicans introduced eight bills adding new voter ID requirements for mail voting and forbidding election officials to send out absentee ballot request forms to voters.

Congressional Democrats have countered with the For the People Act.  Among its provisions:

  • Expand early voting and registration across the country in federal elections;
  • Block states from purging their rolls of voters;
  • End partisan gerrymandering;
  • Force large donors to disclose themselves publicly.

“It is something that is obviously very critical right now,” said  PBS Newshour Correspondent Lisa Desjardins. “We see rising in this country both sides talking about democracy and voting rights and what’s happening at this moment.

“[West Virginia United States Senator] Joe Manchin…would be the 50th vote that Democrats would have for this in the Senate. They have 49.

Senator Manchin.jpg

Joe Manchin

“And here’s what he said [on] why he opposed it: ‘I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy. And for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act.’

“Notable, he did not have any substantive problems with the bill that he raised. Instead, he said, the issue is there are no Republicans on board. Democrats, of course, have a real problem with that. They say, we think Republicans are going to play games here and block this bill.

“This Manchin decision is a body blow to this legislation. It is not dead yet, but it is in real trouble. It’s unclear if, when [New York Senator] Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader [in the Senate] will bring it back up.”

There has been a great deal of speculation—by Democrats and political correspondents—on Manchin’s motives for opposing this legislation.

Some believe he’s a Right-winger in Democrats’ clothing. Others think he wants to increase his clout on behalf of his state, West Virginia. 

Manchin’s motives, however, are not important. Eliminating his opposition is.

And the man who has the power to do this is President Joe Biden.

Joe Biden presidential portrait.jpg

Joe Biden

All that he needs to do is invite Manchin into the Oval Office for an off-the-record talk, which could open like this:

“Your state has two Coast Guard military bases. By this time next week, it will have only one—because I’m going to close down the other. You can also forget about those highway-repair projects you’re expecting to start. And I’ve been informed we have far too many post offices in West Virginia, considering its small population….”

Suddenly, Manchin will get the clear message: “Biden is the big dog on this block, not me.”

He will also grasp that his constituents will blame him, not Biden, for the resulting chaos and hardships they face from the upcoming closures. 

This is precisely how President Lyndon B. Johnson dealt with Congressional members who dared oppose his prized legislation. And it worked.

Joe Biden has spent 44 years in Washington, D.C.—as a United States Senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009; and then as Vice President from 2009 to 2017.

But he seems to have never read Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous warning in The Prince:

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.jpg

Niccolo Machiavelli

For how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather learn to bring about his own ruin rather than his preservation.  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.

Whatever his motives, Manchin is clearly willing to allow Republicans to suppress the voting rights of millions of non-Fascist Americans.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, saying it was better to temporarily suspend some liberties than to lose the Union to a treasonous Confederate victory. 

President Joe Biden now faces a similar moment of crisis.

Republicans are working to corrupt the democratic process to reinstall a proven criminal and traitor in the Oval Office. This is no time to “fight” a party of Adolf Hitlers with the appeasement tactics of a Neville Chamberlain.

GENERAL SHERMAN’S ADVICE TO JOE BIDEN

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 31, 2021 at 10:14 am

When Andrew Jackson, seventh President of the United States from 1829 to 1837, was close to death, he asked his doctor: “What act of my administration will be most severely condemned by future Americans?”

“Perhaps the removal of the bank deposits,” said the doctor—referring to Jackson’s withdrawal of U.S. Government monies from the first Bank of the United States.

That act had destroyed the bank, which Jackson had believed was a source of political corruption.

“Oh, no!” said Jackson.

Then, his eyes blazing, Jackson raged: “I can tell you. Posterity will condemn me more because I was persuaded not to hang John C. Calhoun as a traitor than for any other act in my life!”

John C. Calhoun had once been Vice President under Jackson and later a United States Senator from South Carolina. His fiery rhetoric and radical theories of “nullification” played a major part in bringing on the Civil War (1861-1865).   

John C. Calhoun

Calhoun was an outspoken proponent of slavery, which he declared to be a “positive good” rather than a “necessary evil.” He supported states’ rights and nullification—by which states could declare null and void federal laws they deemed unconstitutional.

Over time, Southern states’ threats of “nullification” turned to threats of “secession” from the Union—and then civil war.

The resulting carnage destroyed at least 750,000 lives. More Americans died in that war than have been killed in all the major wars fought by the United States since. 

When it ended, America was reinvented as a new, unified nation—and one where slavery was now banned by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Equally important, the Federal Government had now set a precedent for using overwhelming military power to force states to remain in the Union.

But in 2012, within days of Barack Obama’s decisive winning of another four years as President, residents across the country filed secession petitions to the Obama administration’s “We the People” program.

States whose residents filed secession petitions included:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington (state), West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Abraham Lincoln dedicated his Presidency—and sacrificed his life—to ensure the preservation of a truly United States.

And Robert E. Lee—the defeated South’s greatest general—spent the last five years of his life trying to put the Civil War behind him and persuade his fellow Southerners to accept their place in the Union.

But today avowed racists, fascists and other champions of treason are working hard to destroy that union—and unleash a second Civil War.

On January 6, they illegally attacked the United States Capitol Building to halt the counting of Electoral College votes of the 2020 Presidential election. Their goal: Pressure Congress to overturn the election of former Vice President Joe Biden’s in favor of President Donald Trump.

Most of those traitors have not yet been brought to justice. And most importantly, the man who incited their treason—former President Donald Trump—has not been indicted, nor even arrested. He continues to enrage his followers by lying that the election was “stolen” from him.

And most of his 74 million voters stand ready to commit additional acts of violence to “restore” him to office.

President Joe Biden should follow Andrew Jackson’s example—before treasonous acts become the order of the day.

He should warn Stormtrumpers and Right-wing militia leaders that the United States Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand ready to squelch further outbreaks of treason. And that he will send modern-day counterparts of Union General William Tecumseh Sherman to wherever they are needed. 

Sherman’s March through Georgia

Sherman “made Georgia howl” through his now-famous “March to the Sea.” In a letter to his commanding general, Ulysses S. Grant, he expressed his formula for dealing with domestic terrorists:

“They cannot be made to love us, but they may be made to fear us. We cannot change the hearts of those people of the South.

“But we can make war so terrible that they will realize the fact that….they are still mortal and should exhaust all peaceful remedies before they fly to war.”

And Sherman’s counsel is backed up by none other than Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science. 

In his master-work, The Discouorses, he outlines the consequences of allowing lawbreakers to go unpunished:

“…Having established rewards for good actions and penalties for evil ones, and having rewarded a citizen for conduct who afterwards commits a wrong, he should be chastised for that without regard to his previous merits….

“For if a citizen who has rendered some eminent service to the state should add to the reputation and influence which he has thereby acquired the confident audacity of being able to commit any wrong without fear of punishment, he will in a little while become so insolent and overbearing as to put an end to all power of the law.”

FOUR MAPS TO INFAMY: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on July 29, 2021 at 12:05 am

Whites comprised the overwhelming majority of the audiences at Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign rallies. Not all were racists, but many of those who were advertised it on T-shirts: “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN.”

And the vast majority of the white votes Trump got were in the South.

The 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first black President had shocked whites. His 2012 re-election had deprived them of the hope that 2008 had been an accident.

Then came 2016—and the possibility that a black President might actually be followed by a woman: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

And for macho, largely uneducated, anti-black Southern males, the idea of a woman dictating to men was simply too much to bear.

Thus, the third map of infamy: Southerners’ election of Donald Trump.

When Trump declared his candidacy:

  • The country was essentially at peace.
  • Thanks to government loans from President Obama, American capitalism had been saved from its own excesses during the George W. Bush administration.
  • Employment was up. CEOs were doing extremely well.
  • Unlike the administration of Ronald Reagan, there had been no corruption scandals during the Obama Presidency.
  • Nor had there been any large-scale terrorist attacks on American soil—like 9/11 under President George W. Bush.

Above all, the news was filled with reputable reports—later confirmed—that Trump’s campaign was backed by Russian oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB and now President of Russia.

In short: Southerners—who had long portrayed themselves as America’s most dedicated patriots—flocked to the banner of a man who publicly called on “Russia” to interfere in an American Presidential election. 

Red States voted for Donald Trump – 2016

BobWyatt07, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Now for the South’s fourth map of infamy.

Donald Trump’s four-year Presidency produced a legacy of unprecedented racism, criminality, abuse of power and treason. 

But the crime for which he will be longest-remembered—and which finally brought him down—was his unwillingness to protect Americans from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 catastrophe slammed into the United States in January, 2020. It was the inevitable result of a natural disaster colliding with an evil and incompetent administration.

Trump’s “cures” for COVID-19 included denial, lies, Republican subservience, chaos, extortion, propaganda as news, quackery as medicine, demands to “re-open the country,” Ignoring the danger and—finally—resignation (“Learn to live with the virus”). 

Early on, Trump made the virus a referendum on himself. If you supported him, you didn’t wear a mask when you ventured out in public. This despite the fact that, throughout 2020, there was no vaccine available and hospitals were rapidly overwhelmed by debilitated and dying casualties of the virus.

“I think, once Donald Trump and other Republicans made it a manhood issue, or a freedom issue, or whatever kind of issue they made it, it’s hard to walk back that culture war signal,” said conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks on the PBS Newshour on July 23.

Washington Post Columnist Jonathan Capehart echoed him: “I think, if we had had a president of the United States who took this seriously when this first came on the scene, if we had a Republican party that took this seriously enough to warn everyone, their constituents saying, wash your hands, then put on a mask, then go get the vaccine, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”

PBS NewsHour | Brooks and Capehart on voting and gun violence legislation | Season 2021 | PBS

Jonathan Capehart

But neither Trump nor the Republican party urged Americans to “wash your hands, put on a mask, then go get the vaccine.” 

By March, 2021, three vaccines—by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—became available. A total of 90.4 million doses of these vaccines had been given. And 30.7 million Americans had been fully vaccinated against the virus. 

But after a triumphant beginning, the pace of vaccinations slowed, then halted. By late July, 2021, only 49.6% of Americans had been fully vaccinated.

Covid-19 Vaccination Map of USA.png

COVID-19 vaccination map – July 21, 2021

George Karabassis, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of those who had gotten one shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines refused to get the necessary second one. These must be given almost a month apart.

(The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot.)

What had happened?

“The people I know personally who are not getting the vaccine, for them, it was like, ‘They rushed this thing,'” theorized David Brooks. “‘Who knows what’s going to happen to all these people who get the shots in 10 years or 20 years?’ So, why should I take the risk?’

“And that’s not completely crazy, but it’s not—it’s based on some sense of general distrust for the establishment, including the medical establishment. And that establishment—that distrust is the core of this thing.”

Shields and Brooks on Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis and the debate | PBS NewsHour

David Brooks

And leading the way to this catastrophe of self-destruction were the states of the South and Midwest: Mississippi (47.1%,), Alabama (50.5%), Arkansas (53.2%), and Tennessee (52.9%) with the lowest rates of residents who have gotten at least one shot.

By late July, three states—Florida, Texas and Missouri—with lower vaccination rates accounted for 40 percent of all cases nationwide.

And colliding head-on with the refusals of millions to get vaccinated is the newer—and deadlier—Delta variant of COVID-19.

Just as the South unleashed the Civil War on America, it has now ignited a new wave of COVID-19 on America.

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