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A HEROINE FOR RUSSIA–AND OUR TIMES: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 8, 2022 at 12:11 am

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, conscience comes with a price. It can range anywhere from house arrest to years of imprisonment in the Gulag—to being shot or poisoned by the FSB, the secret police successor to the infamous KGB.

It has always been so.

Mikhail  Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky was a major Soviet military leader and theoretician from 1918 to 1937. He fought to modernize Soviet armament, as well as develop airborne, aviation and mechanized forces. Almost singlehandedly, he created the theory of deep operations for Soviet forces.

But he fell victim to the paranoia of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Tukhachevsky.png

Mikhail  Nikolayevich Tukhachevsky  

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

On June 11, 1937, the Soviet Supreme Court quickly sentenced Tukhachevsky for treason. Hours later, he was executed.

Among his friends had been Nikolai Sergeyvich Zhilayev. a Russian musicologist and the teacher of several 20th-century Russian composers. Knowing that he was a marked man, Zhilayev did something truly extraordinary.

He had a large portrait of Tukhachevsky in his room, and after the announcement that Tukhachevsky had been shot as a traitor to the homeland, Zhilayev did not take the picture down. If discovered, it meant instant arrest—and almost certain execution.

When the secret police came for him, even they were awed: ”“What, it’s still up?”

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

As, in fact, has happened. 

Standing before a Russian judge, accused of vandalism for participating in a demonstration against Putin’s suppression of human rights, 19-year-old Olga Misik dared to speak truths most Russians fear to even whisper. 

I Was Never Afraid': In The Face Of Criminal Charges, Russian Teen Protester Stands Defiant

Olga Misik

From her statement to the court on May 11, 2021:

The prosecution is putting all its efforts into proving that I am implicated in the incident. I’m not going to spend much time showing that they can’t even do that professionally: They are using falsified fingerprint analysis, and, as you saw when you were examining the evidence, there was no trace of paint on my clothes….

But what does that matter when no law was broken? What difference does it make whether I was there or not when no crime was committed?….There is a crime, and it was committed by the police and the prosecutors. And I very much hope, Comrade Judge, that you will not become an accomplice to this crime. 

This is precisely why I demand a complete and unconditional acquittal. I am not accepting any half measures, like settling for a fine. I am sure of my innocence and am prepared to uncompromisingly defend it to the end….

The past nine months have been very difficult, you know, and I wouldn’t like to repeat them. I kept thinking to myself, What could have happened if, and, Everything could have gone differently. But I was lying to myself, because nothing could have gone differently.

From the moment I picked up the constitution, my fate was set in stone, and I accepted it with pride. I made the right choice, and making the right choice in a totalitarian state will always have horrifying consequences. I always knew I’d end up behind bars—it was only a matter of when.

My lawyer brought up Sophie Scholl [a German student and anti-Nazi political activist] today. Her story is shockingly similar to mine. She was put on trial for flyers and graffiti; I’m being tried for posters and paint.

Like she was, I am essentially on trial for thought crimes. My trial is very similar to Sophie’s, and today’s Russia really resembles Nazi Germany.

Right up to the guillotine, Sophie did not stray from her beliefs. Her story inspired me not to agree to charges being dropped. Sophie Scholl is the embodiment of youth, individuality, and freedom. I would like to believe that to be another thing that makes us similar.

The Nazi regime eventually crumbled, as will the fascist regime in Russia. I don’t know when it will happen, be it a week, a year, or decade, but I know that someday we will be victorious, because love and youth always prevail….

Sophie Scholl’s last words before her execution were, “The sun still shines.” Indeed, the sun still shines. I couldn’t see it out the window of the detention center, but I always knew it was there. And if now, in such dark times, we can turn to the light, then maybe victory isn’t so far after all. 

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

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

Demonstrating his own moral courage, on August 22, 1968—the day after the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia—Yevtushenko sent a telegram protesting the invasion to Communist Party Boss Leonid Brezhnev and Premier Aleksei Kosygin:  

In Russia—under Czars or Commissars—acting on moral courage is no small thing.

A revered poet demonstrated it in 1968. And a teenage girl demonstrated it in 2021.

A HEROINE FOR RUSSIA–AND OUR TIMES: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 7, 2022 at 12:11 am

For 300 years, Russians feared the wrath of their czars, who ruthlessly decreed what their subjects could read, write and say.

Protests were brutally punished, even by so-called “enlightened” Czars. Catherine the Great had Cossack rebel Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachev beheaded, then drawn and quartered.

Catherine II by J.B.Lampi (1780s, Kunsthistorisches Museum).jpg

Catherine the Great

Czarist rule ended in 1917, when the installation of a democratic Provisional Government. But just nine months later, the Bolsheviks seized power—and starvation, mass executions, forced exiles and repression of religion, speech and press followed until Communism collapsed in 1991.

Then came the wholesale corruption and ineptness of Boris Yeltsin’s brief reign. When Yeltsin picked Vladimir Putin, a former member of the KGB, as his successor, many Russians welcomed his arrival. 

Unlike the fat, alcoholic Yeltsin, he appeared to be a man’s man who plunged into icy rivers, slammed opponents to the floor in judo matches, and—shirtless—hunted tigers and bears. 

He promised that so long as ordinary Russians stayed out of politics, they would enjoy a level of personal independence totally absent during the 74-year Communist regime. 

But, gradually, that promise was revealed as a lie.

At no time has that been more true than following his brutal invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Most Russians can’t imagine waging war against a “brotherly nation.”

Russia 'threatening Ukraine With Destruction', Kyiv Says | Conflict News - Newzpick

Ukraine vs. Russia

Putin’s government unleashed a massive propaganda campaign to convince Russians that Russia was battling Fascists and taking no casualties. And many have believed it.

(Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, is Jewish, and Western intelligence agencies estimate that 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers have died.)

Nevertheless, thousands flocked to streets and squares throughout Russia despite government threats of prosecution for high treason.  

More than 6,500 demonstrators were arrested over a five-day period. Several Russian and Ukrainian news outlets were blocked for covering the invasion. 

One of those who has repeatedly demonstrated against Putini’s repressive regime is Olga Misik, a former journalism student at the University of Moscow.

Brut - Olga Misik is the New Symbol of the Russian Resistance | Facebook| By Brut

Olga Misik

Accused of vandalism, standing before a judge who could sentence her to literally any punishment he wished, 19-year-old Olga Misik dared to speak forbidden truths about life in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

On May 11, 2021, she did so again in a Moscow district court.

Below follows relevant portions of her statement to the court:

And maybe I was scared on the way to the protest after all, but I knew I had no other choice. I understood that anything else would be wrong. That if I stayed silent this time, I would never be able to forgive myself….

Of course I was at that protest. I don’t regret it and more so am proud of my actions. In reality, I had no choice. I had to do everything in my power, thus I have no right to regret it. And if I had the option to go back in time, I would do it again.

If I was being threatened with execution, I would do it again. I would do it time and time again, until it finally started to make some change. They say that doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

I guess hope is insanity. But not doing something you believe in, just because everyone around you thinks it’s pointless, that is learned hopelessness. And better to be insane in your eyes than hopeless in my own….

Denying my participation in the protest would not only be unprincipled, it would erase all of the fear and agony, all we have achieved, all of my pain and rage. I can’t afford such dishonor with which our interrogator and prosecutor live their days….

A fascist government never seems fascist from the inside. It seems like just some minuscule, inconsequential censorship and some targeted repression that will never reach you. I’m not the one on trial today. Today, you are deciding not my fate but yours, and you still have a chance to do the right thing.

You can’t keep lying to yourselves. You know what goes on here. You know what it’s called. You know that there is good and evil, freedom and fascism, love and hatred, and denying that there are sides to take would be a colossal lie.

Those who chose evil have preordered their tickets to the defense table. The Hague awaits all who had a hand in this chaos. I am not promising victory tomorrow, the day after, in a year, or 10. But someday we will win, because love and youth always win. I can’t promise to make it there alive, but I really hope you live to see it.

You’re lying to yourselves if you maintain that I am here because of the protest at the office of the prosecutor general….You know why I’m here….You know what I’m actually being tried for.

For reading the constitution. For my political positions. For being named person of the year. For my principles. For my actions.

I might even be flattered by being singled out for a political trial, if only I really were singled out—when in fact the state is repressing anyone who has an opinion. 

A HEROINE FOR RUSSIA–AND OUR TIMES: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 6, 2022 at 12:10 am

“I just read her final speech. And you know what? I felt ashamed,” Andrei Chvanov, from Tatarstan, wrote on Facebook.

He was referring to Olga MisIk, a 17-year-old activist in the Russia of President Vladimir Putin.

“Because my threshold of fear is much lower….She holds strong, jokes, writes, and is 100 percent sure that she is right. And she is right. She sees the truth. And she is not afraid. Not many people in our country have such a gift.”

On July 27, 2019, Olga was among thousands of people attending an unauthorized protest in Moscow against the bar on opposition activists competing for seats in the Duma (parliament) election against Putin’s lackeys.

Heavily-armed riot police—wielding shields, batons and helmets—stood behind her. As if oblivious to their presence, Olga sat cross-legged in the middle of the street.

She pulled out her copy of Russia’s 1993 constitution and began reading from it.

Dr. Jennifer Cassidy 🇺🇦 on Twitter: "How did I miss this incredible image. One to be enshrined in history forever. Olga Misik (aged 17) heroically sat in front of Russia's riot police.

Olga Misik

“I read four sections,” she said in a later interview “An article talking about the right to peacefully protest, an article saying that everyone can take part in elections, has the right to freedom of speech and that the people’s will and power are the most important thing for the country.”

Olga left the scene after the reading, but was later arrested on her way to a metro station. She was among more than 1,000 protesters arrested as a result of the rally. She had been detained four times in the past three months. She says she was peacefully protesting each time.

Misik was released after the protest in 2019, but she later found herself facing charges related to a protest in 2020.

According to the Moscow Times, Olga and two friends were accused of vandalism after police said they hung a banner supporting Putin arch-foe Alexi Navalny and other political prisoners on a government building.

In addition, said the indictment, they “splashed red paint on a security booth outside the Prosecutor General’s Office building in August 2020.”

Russian Embassy in Ghana on Twitter: "President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin sent a congratulatory message on the occasion of the 65th Anniversary of the Independence Day of the Republic of

Vladimir Putin

Misik wrote on social media that she was dragged out of her home by police after the 2020 protest.

Olga was sentenced on May 11, 2021, for vandalism. She received two years and two months of “restricted liberty,” which amounted to home confinement, including a curfew that required her to be inside her house from 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Her two friends received similar sentences.

Prior to her sentencing, Misik read a prepared statement to the court. At a time when millions of Right-wing Americans lust to replace democracy with the dictatorship of Donald Trump, this statement speaks volumes to Americans who would oppose this.

Here are its most moving passages: 

People often asked, “Aren’t I scared?” More commonly outside the country than in Russia, because they don’t get the reality of life in Russia. They don’t understand the knock on the door in the middle of the night, the arrests and imprisonment without reason or cause.

They don’t realize that the feeling of despair is passed on to us through our mothers’ milk. And that that feeling of despair causes any semblance of fear to atrophy, infecting us with learned hopelessness. What use is fear if you have no say in your future?

I have never been afraid. I have felt despair, hopelessness, helplessness, disorientation, anxiety, frustration, burnout, but neither politics nor activism ever struck fear in me.

I wasn’t scared when armed thugs stormed my home in the night, threatening me with prison. They wanted to scare me, but I wasn’t afraid. I made jokes and laughed, knowing that the moment I stopped smiling, I would have lost.

I wasn’t scared when they put me in the detention center….My own fate was the last thing on my mind. It is very strange, maybe some sort of coping mechanism, but in those days I wasn’t afraid once….

I was worried and stressed about how things would play out, but unafraid. The night was beautiful. I was aware that it could be my last one in freedom, and yet that did not scare me.

However, after the search, for the past nine months, I have been scared constantly. Ever since the night in the detention center, I haven’t been able to get a good night’s sleep once.

Every night I wake from the smallest of sounds. I keep imagining footsteps in the hallway. Panic washes over me from the sound of the gravel crunching under the wheels of cars outside my window.

I feel like all of the fear accumulated over the past nine months is most concentrated in this exact moment, in my final statement, because public speaking scares me more than the sentencing. My heart is racing at 151 beats per minute, and it feels as though it could explode any second now….

Someone said, “It’s impossible to be afraid if you know you’re right.” But Russia teaches us to always be afraid. A country that attempts to kill us every day, and if you’re not part of the system, you might as well be dead already.

DON’T SAY YOU WEREN’T WARNED: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 2, 2022 at 12:11 am

Next to the American flag, Republicans have loudly pledged their loyalty to the nuclear family. 

And Florida United States Senator Rick Scott, in his “11 Point Plan to Rescue America,” is no exception.

Point 8:  We will protect, defend, and promote the American Family at all costs. The nuclear family is crucial to civilization, it is God’s design for humanity, and it must be protected and celebrated. To say otherwise is to deny science. 

In two succeeding sentences, Scott manages to ludicrously contradict himself. First he claims that the nuclear family is “God’s design for humanity.” In the next, he says that to contradict him is to “deny science.”

Here are the facts:

First of all, there is no scientific proof for the existence of God. It is simply a belief.

Second, the nuclear family—a married couple and their dependent children under the age of 18—is a fast-disappearing species. 

A man, woman, and two children smiling outside of a house

Nuclear family – 1955 

Seattle Municipal Archives from Seattle, WA, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

There are currently just 23.1 million American homes with those ‘nuclear families,’ which is the fewest since 1959. So much for “God’s design for humanity.”

Point 9: Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies. 

“Men are men, women are women”: Republicans seek to frighten voters into voting for them by appealing to the fear that “Gays and transgenders are coming for your children.”

Without offering proof, they slander their opponents as “groomers”—pedophiles who befriend children and build their trust, leading to their sexual abuse.  

The truth is that gays don’t prey on heterosexuals but seek out others of their own sexual persuasion. The same is true for transgenders.

Meanwhile, the Republican party has had its own share of closeted pedophiles.

Among them:

  • Josh (“18 Kids and Counting”) Duggar, recently sentenced to 12 years for possession of child pornography;
  • Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who sexually molested four young boys when he was their high school wrestling coach.

Josh Duggar

As for “Unborn babies are babies”: Those who have not yet been born are fetuses. 

While Republicans have waged an almost 50-year war against legalized abortion, they have waged an equally aggressive war against Social Security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, food stamps, affordable housing, and aid to the blind and disabled.

In short: They oppose all those programs intended to help those who have been born.

Point 10: Americans will be free to welcome God into all aspects of our lives, and we will stop all government efforts to deny our religious freedom and freedom of speech. 

The Democratic party is not trying to “deny our religious freedom and freedom of speech.” 

On the contrary: It’s Republicans who have crafted laws to turn claimed religious beliefs into a weapon of discrimination.

A classic example: On March 26, 2015, Indiana’s then-Governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Mike Pence

This allows any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party.

Thus, a bakery that doesn’t want to make a cake to be used at a gay wedding or a restaurant that doesn’t want to serve lesbian patrons can legally refuse to do so.

Republicans have introduced similar “right-to-discriminate” legislation in other states as well—such as Kansas, Arizona and South Dakota. So far, all have failed to win passage.

Republicans claim they want to “get the government off the backs of the people.” But their fixation on regulating the sexual lives of Americans ensures government intrusions of the most intimate kind.

Point 11: We are Americans, not globalists. America will be dependent on NO other country. We will conduct no trade that takes away jobs or displaces American workers. 

This would be laughable except for the bitter truth: Countless numbers of Americans have lost their jobs because their companies deserted the United States for Third World nations like China, Vietnam or Mexico.

There are three reasons for this:

  1. To pay their employees far less than they would be paid in the United States;
  2. To avoid American restrictions on how employees can be treated; and
  3. To avoid enforcement of quality control regulations which ensure that products are safe and effective for use.

Republicans have loudly proclaimed themselves anti-globalists.

But when Donald Trump was President, the Chinese government granted 18 trademarks to companies linked to him and his daughter, Ivanka, within two months. 

In addition, Trump won approval to register three dozen trademarks in China covering everything from bars and hotels to child-care and massage services, raising further concerns over potential conflicts of interest.

From 2005 to 2017, Trump filed for 126 trademarks in China for his business empire. 

Rick Scott is a fierce defender of the former President and his policies. 

As for Scott’s claim, America will be dependent on NO other country”:

Like it or not, the United States can no longer separate itself from the rest of the world.

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has badly affected American imports of grain products from Ukraine.

And the Coronavirus pandemic has led to crucial shortages in goods America has long imported: Medicines, electronics, auto parts, solar panels, toys, air conditioners. 

Thus, this provision—like the rest of Scott’s plan—runs head-on into the ugliness of sheer reality.

DON’T SAY YOU WEREN’T WARNED: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 1, 2022 at 12:10 am

Among the goals of Republican Senator Rick Scott’s “11 Point Plan to Rescue America” are:

Point 4: We will secure our border, finish building the wall, and name it after President Donald Trump. 

There are multiple ways to illegally enter the United States—and thus circumvent a wall on its Southern border with Mexico. 

The United States is surrounded by water on three sides—East, West and South. So anyone with a boat can smuggle illegal aliens into the country at any point along its 12,383 miles of coastline.   

For those who get seasick, there’s a land route available—not across burning Mexican deserts but under them. 

Over the years, officials have found at least 200 tunnels along the 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border, mostly in Arizona and California. They range from rudimentary crawlspaces to “super tunnels” that cost more than a million dollars and are equipped with elevators, ventilation shafts electric lights, and disguised exits and entrances.

Smuggling tunnel - Wikipedia

Drug tunnel 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of those who want to infiltrate the United States can simply fly in.

Wealthy and pregnant Chinese women often fly to the United States to “anchor” themselves via a baby born on American soil. The same is true for many Russian women.

And the Number One cause of illegal immigration: Foreigners’ overstaying their visas. In 2017, more than 600,000 foreigners who legally entered the United States overstayed their visas and remained in the country by the end of the year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. 

So a wall is not going to solve America’s problem with illegal immigration.

Point 5: We will grow America’s economy, starve Washington’s economy, and stop Socialism. 

When Republicans promise to “grow America’s economy,” they mean: Remove all government controls from business.

In real-world terms, this means corporations will be legally allowed to: 

  1. Ignore existing laws protecting employees from unsafe working conditions;
  2. Ignore existing laws protecting the environment;
  3. Produce unsafe goods and fraudulent services;
  4. Pay their employees the lowest acceptable wages, in return for the “privilege” of working at these companies; 
  5. Discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation; and/or
  6. Pay little or no business taxes, at the expense of communities who are required to make up for lost tax revenues.

Anyone who doubts this need only look at the living standards in “Red”, Republican-governed states such as Florida and Texas.

“Starve Washington’s economy” means: Eliminating programs that Republicans don’t like—starting with Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. Anything that benefits ordinary Americans and not multi-billion dollar corporations will be slated for scrapping.

“Stopping socialism” is ludicrous: During his Presidency, Donald Trump’s best friends were Communist dictators: Vladimir Putin (Russia), Kim Jong-Un (North Korea) and Xi Jinping (China).

Trump actually bragged that, after an exchange of letters between himself and the murderous Kim Jong-Un, “We fell in love.”

Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump

Had a Democratic President made a similar statement, Republicans would have screamed “Treason!” In Trump’s case, they said nothing. 

Point 6: We will eliminate all federal programs that can be done locally, and enact term limits for federal bureaucrats and Congress.  

As for “enacting term limits for federal bureaucrats and Congress”: This is the party that tried to illegally and treasonously overturn the results of a legitimate Presidential election so its candidate—Donald Trump—could remain in office as “President-for-Life” after losing the vote.

Point 7: We will protect the integrity of American Democracy and stop left-wing efforts to rig elections.

Scott’s platform is worth quoting in full on this issue: 

Today’s Democrat Party is trying to rig elections and pack the courts because they have given up on Democracy. They don’t believe they can win based on their ideas, so they want to game the system and legalize voter fraud to stay in power. In true Orwellian fashion, Democrats refer to their election rigging plans as “voting rights”. We won’t allow the radical left to destroy our democracy by institutionalizing dishonesty and fraud.  

Immediately after the verdict of the November 3, 2020 Presidential election was announced, President Donald Trump ordered his attorneys to file lawsuits overturning the results. 

Related image

Donald Trump

  • Throughout November and December, 2020, cases were filed in Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia challenging the election results. None were supported by evidence of fraud—as even Trump’s lawyers admitted when questioned by judges. 
  • On November 13, nine cases meant to attack President-Elect Joe Biden’s win in key states were denied or dropped. A law firm challenging the vote count in Pennsylvania withdrew from the effort.
  • In Michigan, Trump’s attorneys dropped their federal suit to block the certification of Detroit-area ballots.
  • By November 21, more than 30 cases were withdrawn by Trump’s attorneys or dismissed by Federal judges—some of them appointed by Trump himself.

Ultimately, from November 3 to December 14, 2020, Trump and his allies lost 59 times in court, either withdrawing cases or having them dismissed by Federal and state judges. 

This is the party that, since November, 2020, has sold a lie to millions of Right-wing Americans that the election was “stolen” from Donald trump.

It is Republicans—not Democrats—who have stopped trying to win elections based on their ideas and are now trying to win them by massive voter suppression. It’s hardly a party to be entrusted with election security. 

DON’T SAY YOU WEREN’T WARNED: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 31, 2022 at 12:10 am

“The militant left now controls the entire federal government, the news media, academia, Hollywood, and most corporate boardrooms—but they want more. They are redefining America and silencing their opponents.

“Among the things they plan to change or destroy are: American history, patriotism, border security, the nuclear family, gender, traditional morality, capitalism, fiscal responsibility, opportunity, rugged individualism, Judeo-Christian values, dissent, free speech, color blindness, law enforcement, religious liberty, parental involvement in public schools, and private ownership of firearms.

“Is this the beginning of the end of America? Only if we allow it to be.”

So accuses Rick Scott, former governor of Florida and now a United States Senator from that state. With the next Presidential election approaching in less than two years, Scott is positioning himself to be the next Republican nominee for that office.

Official Portrait of Senator Rick Scott (R-FL).jpg

Rick Scott

For decades, many dissatisfied voters have argued there’s no real difference between the Democratic and Republican parties.

Obviously smarting from that criticism, Scott aims to show that even if there’s no difference between the parties, there is a difference between him and every other Presidential candidate.

That’s why Scott has crafted “An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America.”

It merits close inspection—because if Scott or someone else with his agenda becomes President of the United States with a united Republican House and Senate behind him, this country will become  entirely different from the one that exists today.

Point 1: Our kids will say the pledge of allegiance, salute the Flag, learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that best fits them. 

Like so many Right-wingers, Scott is apparently unaware that the Pledge of Allegiance was written in August, 1892, by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy. He hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country, not just the United States.

Francis Bellamy

In its original form it read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” to distinguish Americans from “Godless” Communists.

“Learn that America is a great country” conjures up images of the propaganda force-fed to students of the former Soviet Union—and now in Russia. Just as Russians are taught that their military has never fought an aggressive war, so, too, do Republicans want to erase the subject of slavery and its long-term effects on society from American classrooms

Point 2: Government will never again ask American citizens to disclose their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government forms. 

Republicans have made race—as a source of friction between voters—a crucial part of their electoral campaigns. As far back as 1968, Richard Nixon campaigned on a “Southern strategy”—of stoking white fears of blacks. 

It was this that won Nixon the Presidency in 1968 and 1972 and the White House for George H.W. Bush in 1988.

As blacks have gained in population and political clout, they have been succeeded by Hispanics as the Great Enemy for Republicans.

The top priority for Donald Trump—both as a Presidential candidate and President—was building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. That this would not have stopped illegal immigration meant nothing to him—or his millions of Right-wing followers.

Without a way to track the growth rates of nonwhites, Republicans won’t know how to target their self-declared enemies.

Point 3: The soft-on-crime days of coddling criminal behavior will end. We will re-fund and respect the police because they, not the criminals, are the good guys. 

On January 6, 2021, “law and order” President Donald Trump incited a mob to attack the United States Capitol Building. Inside, members of Congress were meeting to count and certify Electoral College votes for the 2020 Presidential election.

Trump had clearly lost that election in November, yet for the previous two months he had repeatedly and falsely claimed he was the victim of a “rigged” election. His followers, believing that lie, intended to overturn the results of a legitimate election. 

After more than three hours, police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. More than 150 officers were injured in the attack by “law and order” Republicans.

January 6, 2021 coup attempt 

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

Even after the failed coup, 147 House and Senate Republicans voted to overturn the election.

Not the sort of behavior calculated to instill respect for the rule of law.

Point 4: We will secure our border, finish building the wall, and name it after President Donald Trump. 

For the vast majority of Republican voters, “building the wall” means achieving 100% border security against illegal immigration.  This is absurd. 

Among the obstacles to erecting such a barrier:

  • The United States/Mexican border stretches for 1,954 miles—and encompasses rivers, deserts and mountains;
  • Environmental and engineering problems;
  • Ranchers who refuse to give up any of their land;
  • Building such a wall would cost untold billions of dollars.

Another problem: The United States is surrounded by water on three sides—East, West and South. So anyone with a boat can smuggle illegal aliens into the country at any point along its 12,383 miles of coastline. 

REPUBLICANS: USING HATE TO WIN ELECTIONS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 14, 2022 at 12:12 am

Republicans and their Rightist allies have repeatedly compared President Barack Obama and other Democrats to Adolf Hitler. But their propaganda campaign draws heavily on the Nazi leader’s own advice.

In Mein Kampf, Hitler laid out his formula for successful propaganda: “All effective propaganda must be confined to a few bare essentials.

“Those must be expressed as far as possible in stereotypical formulas. These slogans should be persistently repeated until the very last individual has come to grasp the idea that has been put forward.”

Adolf Hitler

Among the slanders Right-wingers hurl at Democrats:

“Liberals,” “radicals, “bankrupting,” “treason,” subversion,” “slander,” “terrorism,” “betrayal,” “catastrophe,” “shattering the American dream,” “leftists,” “Communists,” “government takeover,” “socialism,” “power grab,” “secularism,” “environmentalism.”

In recent years, the GOP has targeted gays and lesbians as America’s subversive enemies.

These attacks have come as thinly disguised as efforts to “restore religious freedom.”.

On March 26, 2015, Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

This allows any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party.

Thus, a bakery that doesn’t want to make a cake to be used at a gay wedding or a restaurant that doesn’t want to serve lesbian patrons can legally refuse to do so.

The bill seems modeled on a proposed law that the Republican House and Senate in Arizona sent to Governor Jan Brewer in 2014.

Under threat of a nationwide boycott of Arizona if the bill became law, Brewer vetoed it.

Republicans have introduced similar “right-to-discriminate” legislation in other states as well:

  • In Kansas, lawmakers voted to exempt individuals from providing any service that was “contrary to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
  • That bill passed the state’s House chamber on February 11, 2014, triggering national backlash. It stalled in the Senate and didn’t advance beyond that body.
  • In January, 2014, South Dakota Republicans introduced a bill to let businesses refuse to serve same-sex couples on the grounds that “businesses are private and that their views on sexual orientation are protected to the same extent as the views of private citizens.”
  • The South Dakota bill—which was killed in February, 2014—would have made it illegal for a gay person to file a lawsuit charging discrimination.

Republicans claim they want to “get the government off the backs of the people.” But their fixation on regulating the sexual lives of Americans ensures government intrusions of the most intimate kind.

Since 9/11, Republicans have warned that Muslims are trying to impose Sharia (Islamic law) on America.

Ironically, Right-wing legislators, in elevating religion above the secular law, may have laid the legal foundations for making that possible.

What will happen when some Muslims claim their right–guaranteed in Islamic religious law–to have as many as four wives?

And when they claim that the “religious freedom” laws protect that right?

Republicans have defended such legislation by equating gays with child predators.

In fact, the Child Molestation Research & Prevention Institute states that 90% of child molesters target children in their network of family and friends, and the majority are men married to women.

Yet Republicans and their Rightist allies have refused to condemn such heterosexual—and Right-wing—child molesters as Dennis Hastert and Josh Duggar.

Josh Duggar, the “all-American” child molester

On May 21, 2015, responding to press leaks, Duggar resigned as director of the Family Research Council, a Right-wing organization dedicated to fighting sexually-oriented issues such as same-sex marriage, abortion and pornography.

In 2002-3, as a 14-15 year-old, Duggar had fondled the breasts and vaginas of five underage girls—four of whom were his own sisters.

Before Duggar was forced to admit his scandalous depravities, he had hobnobbed with many influential Right-wingers, including: 

  • Senator Rafael “Ted” Cruz;
  • Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush;
  • Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee;
  • Texas Governor Rick Perry.

On December 8, 2021, a federal jury found Duggar guilty of receipt of child pornography and possession of child pornography. He faces up to 20 years of imprisonment and fines up to $250,000 on each count.

And on October 28, 2015, Hastert—Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1999 to 2007—pleaded guilty to structuring money transactions in a way to avoid requirements to report where the money was going.

Dennis Hastert

The reason: To conceal the truth about his past as a child molester. Hastert had abused four young boys when he was their high school wrestling coach.  One was only 14 years old.

Despite such setbacks, the politics of “smear and fear” have been good to Republicans—and their Right-wing allies.  

The Republican “base” refuses to learn that those who portray themselves as morally superior are:

  1. Hypocrites, who are in effect saying: “Do as I say, not as I do,” or
  2. Fanatics, who intend to force their version of morality on others.

So long as millions of hate-filled Right-wingers support the endless succession of “two minute hates,” Republicans will continue to target an endless series of victims.

The good news: As blacks, Hispanics, women, gays and others become a significant political force, Republicans will stop attacking them and court them for votes.

The bad news: Republicans will move on to find other still-helpless scapegoats for America’s troubles.

REPUBLICANS: USING HATE TO WIN ELECTIONS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on April 13, 2022 at 12:10 am

In 1953, Red-baiting Wisconsin United States Senator Joseph R. McCarthy finally overstepped himself.

He attacked the leadership of the United States Army as “a hotbed of traitors” and convened an inquiry through the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

But the hearings backfired, exposing McCarthy as the bullying demagogue he was. A Senate committee voted to condemn his behavior, charging that he had “acted contrary to senatorial ethics and tended to bring the Senate into dishonor and disrepute.”

Although McCarthy remained in the Senate another two and a half years, his political influence had ended.

Yet even without McCarthy, Republicans rode the issue of anti-Communism to victory from 1948 to 1992.

After holding the White House for eight years under Dwight D. Eisenhower, they lost it in 1960 to John F. Kennedy and again in 1964 to Lyndon B. Johnson.

By 1968, with the nation mired in Vietnam and convulsed by antiwar demonstrations and race riots, Americans turned once more to those who preyed upon their fears and hates.

They elected Richard Nixon, who promised to end the Vietnam war and crack down on “uppity” blacks and antiwar demonstrators.

The same strategy re-elected him in 1972.

After Jimmy Carter won the Presidency in 1976 and lost it in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, Republicans held the White House until 1992.

During the 1970s and 1980s, they continued to accuse their opponents of being devious agents—or at least unwitting pawns—of “the Communist conspiracy.”

Even as late as 1992, President George H.W. Bush and the Republican establishment charged that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton might be a KGB plant.

George H.W. Bush

Their evidence: During his tenure at Oxford University in 1969-70, Clinton had briefly visited Moscow.

Thus, the Republican charged that he might have been “programmed” as a real-life “Manchurian candidate” to become, first, Governor of Arkansas—one of America’s poorest states—and then President.

What made this charge all the more absurd: The Soviet Union had officially dissolved in December, 1991.

Republicans continued to accuse their opponents of being “Communists” and “traitors.” But these charges no longer carried the weight they had while the Soviet Union existed.

Right-wingers had to settle for attacking their opponents as “liberals” and “soft on crime.”

When riots flared in 1992 after the acquittal of LAPD officers who had savagely beaten Rodney King, President George H.W. Bush blamed the carnage on the “Great Society” programs of the 1960s.

Then, on September 11, 2001, Republicans—and their right-wing supporters—at last found a suitable replacement for the Red Menace.

Two highjacked jetliners slammed into the World Trade Center in New York and one struck the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

Exit The Red Bogeyman.  Enter The Maniacal Muslim.

Consider:

  • Rep. Michelle Bachman (R-Minn.): On July 13, 2012, she sent letters to the Inspectors General of the Departments of Defense; State; Justice; and Homeland Security, demanding a “a multi-department investigation into potential Muslim Brotherhood infiltration into the United States Government.”
  • Rick Santorum:  On supporting the racial profiling of Muslims: “Obviously, Muslims would be someone you look at, absolutely.”
  • Mitt Romney: “Based on the numbers of American Muslims in our population, I cannot see that a Cabinet position [for a Muslim] would be justified.”

The 2008 election of Barack Obama pushed the Republican “treason chorus” to new heights of infamy.

Barack Obama

Almost immediately after Obama took office, he came under attack by an industry of right-wing book authors such as Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh. 

The following titles vividly reveal the hates, fears and ambitions of their authors–and audience:

  • Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda by Sean Hannity
  • How Barack Obama is Bankrupting the U.S. Economy by Stephen Moore
  • The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists by Aaron Klein
  • The Blueprint: Obama’s Plan to Subvert the Constitution and Build an Imperial Presidency by Ken Blackwell
  • Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks, and Cronies by Michelle Malkin
  • Why Obama’s Government Takeover of Health Care Will Be a Disaster by David Gratzer
  • Power Grab: How Obama’s Green Policicies Will Steal Your Freedom and Bankrupt America by Christopher C. Horner
  • America’s March to Socialism: Why We’re One Step Closer to Giant Missile Parades by Glenn Beck
  • The War On Success: How the Obama Agenda Is Shattering the American Dream by Tommy Newberry
  • Liberalism is a Mental Disorder: Savage Solutions by Michael Savage
  • Treason: Liberal Treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism by Ann Coulter

Yet despite Right-wingers’ slanderous and fear-mongering claims, the United States actually prospered during the Obama years.   

  • Thanks to government loans from President Obama, American capitalism was saved from its own excesses during the George W. Bush administration. 
  • Employment went up.  CEOs did extremely well.
  • In contrast to the corruption that had plagued the administration of Ronald Reagan—whom Republicans idolize—no such scandals haunted the Obama Presidency. 
  • There had been no major-scale terrorist attacks on American soil–as had occurred on 9/11 under President George W. Bush. 
  • Millions of Americans who had been unable to obtain healthcare did so under Obama’s Affordable Care Act. 
  • Obama actually stood up to Russian President Vladimir Putin—as opposed to his successor, Donald Trump, who constantly praised him.

REPUBLICANS: USING HATE TO WIN ELECTIONS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

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

The Right’s fixation on transgender “dangers” is only the latest in a long string of “enemies” painted by the Republican party.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the “enemy” was blacks. The key to winning votes of racist whites without appearing racist lay in what Republicans called “the Southern Strategy.”

It was this that won Richard Nixon the Presidency in 1968 and 1972 and the White House for George H.W. Bush in 1988.

In a now-infamous 1981 interview, Right-wing political consultant Lee Atwater explained how this worked: 

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’—that hurts you, backfires. 

“So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract.

“Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites….

“‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.’ 

“So anyway you look at it, race is coming on the back burner.”

Lee Atwater 1989.jpg

Lee Atwater 

 

At the end of his life, Atwater recognized the monster he had helped unleash.

Like Reinhard Heydrich—the designer of the “Final Solution” who, on his deathbed, begged forgiveness for his crimes—Atwater, in a 1991 article for Life, apologized to former Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis for the “naked cruelty” of the 1988 campaign.

But blacks have by no means been the only targets—and victims—of Republican hate campaigns. A partial list of these would include:

  • Liberals
  • Women
  • Socialists
  • Secularists
  • Disabled
  • Environmentalists
  • Hispanics
  • Gays
  • Lesbians

And now transgenders.

George Orwell’s classic 1949 novel, 1984, serves as a better guide to Republican electioneering than any official statement of the GOP.

1984 is set in a futuristic dictatorship called Oceania, whose constantly alternating mortal enemies are Eurasia and Eastasia.

A daily fixture of life in Oceania is the “Two Minutes Hate.” During this, Party members must watch a film depicting the Party’s enemies and express their hatred for them in exactly two minutes.

Chief among these is Emmanuel Goldstein, who is obviously based on Leon Trotsky, the longtime antagonist of Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union for almost 30 years.

The “Two Minutes Hate” serves as a form of brainwashing, whose purpose is to whip ordinary citizens into a frenzy of hatred and loathing for whoever the Party designates as it—and their—-mortal enemies.

Since the end of World War II, Republicans have regularly hurled the charge of “treason” against anyone who dared to run against them for office or think other than Republican-approved thoughts.

Republicans had been locked out of the White House from 1933 to 1952, during the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

Determined to regain the Presidency by any means, they found that attacking the integrity of their fellow Americans a highly effective tactic.

During the 1950s, Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy rode a wave of paranoia to national prominence–by attacking the patriotism of anyone who disagreed with him.

Joseph McCarthy

Elected to the Senate in 1946, he rose to national prominence on February 9, 1950, after giving a fiery speech in Wheeling, West Virginia:

“The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”

Americans were already growing increasingly fearful of Communism:

  • Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had not withdrawn the Red Army from the countries it had occupied in Eastern Europe during World War II.
  • In 1948, the Soviet Union developed—and demonstrated—its own atomic bomb, an achievement U.S. scientists had claimed would not happen for at least a decade.
  • In 1949, China fell to the triumphant armies of Mao Tse Tung.

But anti-communism as a lever to political advancement sharply accelerated following McCarthy’s speech. Republicans—resentful at being denied the White House since 1932—seized upon anti-communism as their passport to power.

No American—no matter how prominent—was safe from the accusation of being a Communist or a Communist sympathizer—”a Comsymp” or “fellow traveler” in the style of the era.

Among those accused:

  • Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who had overseen America’s strategy for defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan
  • President Harry S. Truman
  • Playwrights Lillian Hellman and Arthur Miller
  • Actors Charlie Chaplin, Zero Mostel, Lloyd Bridges, Howard Da Silva, Edward G. Robinson and John Garfield
  • Composers Arron Copland and Elmer Bernstein
  • Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who presided over the creation of America’s atomic bomb
  • Actresses Lee Grant, Delores del Rio, Ruth Gordon and Lucille Ball
  • Journalists Edward R. Murrow and William L. Shirer, who had chronicled the rise of Nazi Germany
  • Folksinger Pete Seeger
  • Writers Irwin Shaw, Howard Fast, John Steinbeck and Dashiell Hammett

Even “untouchable” Republicans became targets for such slander.

The most prominent of these was President Dwight D. Eisenhower–labeled ”a conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy” by Robert Welch, who founded the John Birch Society in 1958.

REAGAN GETS LENIN’S FUNERAL

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 7, 2022 at 12:13 am

On February 6, 2011, Ronald Reagan, if he had been alive, would have been 100 years old.

Publishers rushed to put out worshipful tributes to his eight years as President. Network political programs such as “This Week” and “Meet the Press” assembled surviving members of his administration to re-live the “glory days” of Reagan’s—and their—time in power.

Actually, it was during the Reagan administration that America entered its decline—a Right-wing legacy of huge Federal deficits, tax-cuts for the rich, bloated military budgets and cutbacks in government programs to aid the poor and middle-class.

Ronald Reagan

No two men could have been more different than Vladimir Lenin and Ronald Reagan. Lenin created the Soviet Union in 1917 and became its first in a series of absolute dictators. Reagan spent his life fighting Communism, most notably as President.

So it’s ironic that both men, in death, got essentially the same funeral—and for the same reason: To sanctify and legitimize their respective organizations—and the authority of their potential successors.

Vladimir Lenin

Lenin died in 1924 and was immediately succeeded by Joseph Stalin. Stalin knew that, despite Communism’s official atheistic stance, most Russians remained loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church.

So in giving Lenin’s funeral oration, Stalin used the language of religion to confer sainthood upon a militant atheist—and upon his successor, Stalin himself: “We vow to thee, Comrade Lenin, that we will fulfill this, thy commandment….”

Related image

Funeral for Vladimir Lenin

Stalin and his fellow Communists immediately launched the “cult of Lenin,” depicting him as a fatherly, all-wise leader whose genius could only be bestowed upon his closest disciples.

Lenin’s extensive political writings were treated as divine writ, and were used to justify everything Stalin and his own successors wanted to do.

A classic example: Although he died 20 years before the American creation of the atomic bomb, Lenin was hailed by the Soviets as the “father” of “Soviet nuclear physics.”

Similarly, Republicans quickly turned Reagan into a modern-day saint of mythical proportions.

They did so for the same reason that Stalin deliberately forged a cult around the dead Lenin—to create a “holy” figure of whom other Republicans can claim to be true disciples.

Related image

Funeral for Ronald Reagan

These deliberate fictions conveniently ignore a series of ugly truths:

  • Reagan was only one of a series of Presidents who held the line against the Soviet Union.
  • His budgets were just as stained with red ink as those of all previous Presidents.
  • Far from standing up to Iranian terrorists, Reagan sold them our most sophisticated missiles in a weak-kneed exchange for American hostages. Then he went on television and brazenly lied that any such “arms for hostages” deal had ever happened.
  • By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been investigated, indicted or convicted for official misconduct and/or criminal violations. 
  • His “trickle-down” Reganomics brought prosperity to only the wealthiest 1% of Americans, proving that “a rising tide lifts some yachts.”
  • By drastically shrinking the tax-base, bloating the defense budget and destroying programs to benefit the poor and middle-class, Reagan produced a $1 trillion deficit—which only the Clinton Administration eliminated.
  • Reagan believed that government should not help the impoverished. Those who lacked wealth to buy such necessities as housing and medical insurance were written off as unimportant.
  • John F. Kennedy had praised government service as an honor. Reagan repeatedly said that “the best and the brightest” could be found only in business.
  • This denigration of government service continues among Republicans to this day—defaming the very institutions they lust to control.
  • Although he often berated the poor for their “laziness,” Reagan adhered to a “banker’s hours” schedule: During his working hours in the Oval Office, he often had blocks of free time—two to three hours. He would call for his fan mail and answer it.
  • Reagan saw no need to protect America’s fragile environment against corporate polluters, eager to enrich themselves at its expense: “Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”

Reagan famously attacked “welfare queens” and sought to deny government benefits for the poor.  But he didn’t hesitate to enrich himself at public expense.

  • Before his Presidency ended, 18 wealthy Californians contributed $156,000 apiece to buy him a 7,200 square-foot mansion overlooking Beverly Hills.
  • Reagan signed a multi-million dollar deal to write his Presidential memoirs and publish a collection of his speeches.
  • He signed an exclusive contract with a Washington lecture bureau, which paid him $50,000 per speech given in the United States and $100,000 overseas. This made him the highest-paid speaker in the country.
  • These monies came in addition to his Presidential pension of $99,500 a year for life and his $30,000 annual pension as a former governor of California.
  • At a cost to the government of $10 million annually, Reagan—a millionaire who could afford private security—continued to receive lifetime Secret Service protection from 40 fulltime agents.

The “cult of Lenin” died when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The “cult of Reagan” died only when it was superseded by that of Donald Trump. 

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