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Posts Tagged ‘CROOKS AND LIARS’

MIKE PENCE: MAKING AMERICA SAFE FOR SHARIA LAW

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 20, 2019 at 12:04 am

Adolf Hitler had a warning for the Indiana legislators who passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

A warning they should have heeded–but didn’t.

It all started on June 22, 1941.

On that date, Hitler ordered his powerful Wehrmacht to invade the Soviet Union.

Less than two years earlier, in August, 1939, he had signed a “non-aggression” pact with his longtime arch-enemy, Joseph Stalin.

Since then, his army had conquered Poland, Norway, Denmark, Holland, Belgium and France.

Adolf Hitler with his generals

Now, he believed, it was time to “settle accounts” with the Soviet Union.

Only there could Germany obtain the “living space” it “needed” for its expanding population.

So at 3 a.m. on June 22, 1941, Hitler once again launched an invasion.

At first, Hitler–no doubt like the Indiana legislators–felt giddy with excitement.

Turning to Alfred Jodl, his chief of operations of the Wehrmacht,  he said: “We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.”

German soldiers marching through Russia

But soon afterward–almost as if he had just looked into the future and seen that he had none–he told an aide: “At the beginning of each campaign, one pushes a door into a dark, unseen room. One can never know what is hiding inside.”

That certainly proved true for Hitler.

Within four years, he was dead and the Red Army occupied Berlin.

And now the law of unintended consequences may be coming true for Indiana.

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

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

Officially, its intent is to prevent the government from forcing business owners to act in ways contrary to strongly held religious beliefs.

Unofficially, its intent is to appease the hatred of gays and lesbians by the religious Right, a key constituency of the Republican party.

In short, 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 was passed overwhelmingly by both chambers of the Republican-controlled state legislature.  And signed into law by a Republican governor.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence 

“Today I signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, because I support the freedom of religion for every Hoosier of every faith,” Mike Pence said in a statement on the day he signed the bill.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.”

Bill-signing ceremonies are usually highly public events.  Governors–and presidents–normally want their constituents to see them creating new legislation.

Yet for all his praise for the bill, Pence signed it in a ceremony closed to the public and the press.  The media were asked to leave even the waiting area of the governor’s office.

It’s almost as if Pence sensed–like Hitler–that he was about to push open “a door into a dark, unseen room.” And this may well be the case.

Through that door may soon march the First Church of Cannabis.

The day after Pence signed the Act, church founder Bill Levin announced on his Facebook page that he had filed paperwork with the office of the Indiana Secretary of State.

Its registration had been approved–and Levin was ecstatic: “Now we begin to accomplish our goals of Love, Understanding, and Good Health.

“Donate $100 or more and become a GREEN ANGEL.

“Donate $500 or more and become a GOLD ANGEL.

“Donate $1000 or more and become a CHURCH POOHBA.”

Click here: Whoops: Indiana’s Anti-Gay ‘Religious Freedom’ Act Opens the Door For the First Church of Cannabis | Alternet

And Levin had a personal comment for the governor who had made it all possible:

“Dear Mikey Pence…

“DUDE!.. keep crapping all over the state.. and I will plant a seed of LOVE, UNDERSTANDING and COMPASSION in each pile you leave.. and it will grow into a big skunky cannabis tree. Crap away Mikey.. Crap Away…”

No doubt many Indiana legislators are furious that their effort to attack gays may have brought legal marijuana to their highly conservative state.

But worse may yet come.

Since 9/11, Right-wingers such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity have warned that Muslims are trying to impose Sharia (Islamic law) on America.

And now Indiana’s legislators, in elevating religion above the law, may have pushed upon that door “into a dark, unseen room.” 

What will happen when:

  • Muslims in Indiana claim their right—guaranteed in Islamic religious law—to have as many as four wives?
  • Muslims demand a taxpayer-funded “halal” non-pork food shelf at free food pantries for the poor? (Exactly this happened among Somalia refugees in Minnesota in 2015.)
  • Muslims demand that police departments cancel counter-terrorism curses by claiming that their materials are anti-Muslim? (Exactly this happened in several police departments in Illinois.) 

And when they cite the Religious Freedom Restoration Act as the basis for their demands?  

Fasten your seat belts.  It’s going to be a bumpy nightmare.

WHY FASCISTS—PAST AND PRESENT–NEVER APOLOGIZE

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 19, 2019 at 12:04 am

Frank Brandenburg had just turned 16 in 1979 when he saw the NBC mini-series Holocaust, depicting the Third Reich’s extermination of six million Jewish men, women and children.

He was stunned. Had such atrocities really happened?

His parents, friends and teachers refused to talk about Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party that had tyrannically ruled Germany for 12 years.  

“No one wants to talk today about that! Let the past sleep,” he was repeatedly told.

Frank Brandenburg had a deeply personal reason for pursuing the truth. He was a citizen of West Germany, growing up in a country that was still divided in two for having lost World War II—a war Hitler had started.

He started reading such books as:

  • Inside the Third Reich, by former Reichsminister for Armaments Albert Speer, which stated that it had happened.
  • David Irving’s Hitler’s War, which seemed inconclusive on the subject.
  • The Auschwitz Lie, by Thies Chrostophersen, which flatly asserted that the victorious Allies had concocted this slander to blacken the good name of Germany.

So Brandenburg set out to meet and interview as many former members of the Third Reich as possible.

Among those he interviewed:

  • Lina Heydrich, the widow of Reinhard Heydrich, the second-ranking man in the Schutzstaffel, or SS.
  • Otto Remer, who put down the July 20, 1944 generals’ plot against Hitler.
  • SS General Karl Wolff, a close confidant of SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler.
  • The widow and sons of Deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess.
  • Hans Baur, Hitler’s personal pilot.

These interviews ultimately became a 1990 book: Quest: Searching for Nazi Germany’s Past, co-authored by Brandenburg and Ib Melchior. It is a book that can never be duplicated, because those interviewed by Brandenburg are now dead.

Image result for Images of Quest: Searching for Germany's Nazi Past

Of his encounters with so many former Nazis, Brandenburg reflected:

“Today I know that in some cases…I was confronted with defensive statements, evasion, self-exoneration and prejudiced portrayals of the facts.

“But when I began my project, at the age of 16, I—naively—had no conception that this might be the case. Not one of the people I talked to expressed any kind of guilt or remorse. Not one of them had regrets or concern for their victims.

“Yet, it is easier for me to understand that. Who, in his old age, wants to admit having committed such misdeeds? To admit that everything one had believed in, worked for and lived for, had been corrupt?”

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Nazi SS soldiers 

Which helps explain the reaction historians will receive when, in the future, they interview supporters of Donald Trump.

The Original Nazis were guided by Hitler’s belief that the world was polluted by corruption and ugliness—and their mission was to remove that ugliness and corruption.

This meant removing those peoples they deemed inferior—Jews, Slavs (Poles, Serbs, Russians), Communists, liberals, gypsies, the physically and mentally handicapped.

Today’s Republicans believe themselves to be the only legitimate political party. And so do their supporters.

No sin—or even crime—is intolerable if it’s committed by a Republican.

On October 7, 2916, The Washington Post leaked a video of Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump making sexually predatory comments about women:

You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.

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Donald Trump

Right-wingers rushed to excuse Trump’s misogynist comments as mere “frat boy” talk.

  •  Corey Lewandowski, a former Trump campaign manager and now CNN commentator: We are electing a leader to the free world. We’re not electing a Sunday school teacher.” 
  • Jerry Falwell, Jr., president of Liberty University: “When they ask [if Trump’s personal life is relevant] I always talk about the story of the woman at the well who had had five husbands and she was living with somebody she wasn’t married to, and they wanted to stone her. And Jesus said he’s–he who is without sin cast the first stone. I just see how Donald Trump treats other people, and I’m impressed by that.”
  • Ralph  Reed, founder and chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition: People of faith are voting on issues like who will protect unborn life, defend religious freedom, grow the economy, appoint conservative judges and oppose the Iran nuclear deal.”

In 2017, Roy Moore, the twice-ousted former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, ran to become the state’s U.S. Senator. 

Four women, in a Washington Post story, accused Moore of seeking romantic relationships with teenage girls while he was in his 30s, and even trolling malls for such dates. 

Kay Ivey, the state’s Governor, offered the real reason why Republicans supported Moore:  

“I believe in the Republican party, what we stand for, and, most important, we need to have a Republican in the United States Senate to vote on things like the Supreme Court justices, other appointments the Senate has to confirm and make major decisions. So that’s what I plan to do, vote for Republican nominee Roy Moore.” 

In short: The mission of the Republican party is to attain absolute power over the lives of American citizens. Compared to that, electing even accused sexual predators shrinks to insignificance.

REPUBLICANS: LOVING AMERICA LESS–AND THEIR JOBS MORE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 16, 2019 at 12:04 am

“Just another week in Caligula’s Rome.”

That was how conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks summed up President Donald Trump’s Washington, D.C. for the week of February 24 to March 1, 2019.

It could serve as the epitaph for the history of the Trump administration.

Every Friday Books faces off with liberal syndicated columnist Mark Shields on The PBS Newshour. And on the program for March 1, the two men found common cause in sizing up the appearance of Michael Cohen before the House Oversight Committee two days earlier.

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David Brooks and Mark Shields on “The PBS Newshour”

During that hearing, Cohen, Trump’s longtime attorney and fixer:

  • Condemned his former boss as “a racist, a conman [and] a cheat.”
  • Confirmed that Trump had instructed him to pay $130,000 in hush money to porn “star” Stormy Daniels, to buy her silence during the 2016 Presidential campaign.
  • Provided the committee with a copy of a check Trump wrote from his personal bank account—after he became President—“to reimburse me for the hush money payments I made.”
  • Produced “copies of letters I wrote at Mr. Trump’s direction that threatened his high school, colleges, and the College Board not to release his grades or SAT scores.”

But for Brooks, far more was at stake than the individual accusations:

“To me, it was more of a moral occasion, more than anything else. What it illustrates is a President and, frankly, Michael Cohen who long ago decided that celebrity and wealth is more important than being a good person. And they have dragged us all down there with us.

“And the people they have dragged most effectively are the House Republicans, a lot of them on that committee, who decided that they were completely incurious about whether Donald Trump was a good guy or a bad guy or a really awful guy, that—their own leader, they didn’t seem to care about that, but they were going to rip the skin off Michael Cohen.

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Michael Cohen testifying before Congress

“And so they attacked him. And what struck me is how moral corrosion happens, that you decide you’re going to defend or ignore Trump. And then to do that, you have to morally distance yourself from him. And then you have to morally distance yourself from him every day.

“And, eventually, you just get numb to everything. And so [Ohio Republican Representative] Jim Jordan and other people on the committee were saying, oh, we all knew this, like, it’s all unremarkable. And so that’s—that’s how moral corrosion happens.”  

During the hearing, California Representative Jackie Speier asked Cohen: How many times did Trump ask you to intimidate creditors?

Cohen estimated the number at 500. 

For Shields, this counted as especially despicable behavior: “And—but the thing about it is, when he stiffed those small business—the plumbers and the electricians who did the work in the Trump projects, and he came back, and Donald Trump loved to hear about it, I mean, reveled in it.

“Now, I mean, at what point do you say that there’s no honor here? I mean, there’s nothing to admire.” 

Shields was equally appalled by the refusal of Trump’s Republican committee defenders to condemn his moral depravity—as a businessman or President.

“If you can’t deal with the message, you shoot the messenger. And that’s what their whole strategy was.

“The very fact that not a single member of the Republican committee defended Donald Trump or what he was charged or alleged to have done, to me, was revealing. They just decided to go after Michael Cohen.”

So why have Republicans aligned themselves with such a man? 

Republicans don’t fear that Trump will trash the institutions that Americans have cherished for more than 200 years. Institutions like an independent judiciary, a free press, and an incorruptible Justice Department.

He has already attacked all of these—and Republicans have either said nothing or rushed to his defense.

What Republicans truly fear about Donald Trump is that he will finally cross one line too many. And that the national outrage following this will force them to launch impeachment proceedings against him.

But it isn’t even Trump they fear will be destroyed.

What they most fear losing is their own hold on nearly absolute power in Congress and the White House. And the riches that go with it.

If Trump is impeached and possibly indicted, he will become a man no one any longer fears. He will be a figure held up to ridicule and condemnation. 

Like Adolf Hitler.

Like Richard Nixon. 

And his supporters will be branded as losers along with him.

Republicans vividly remember what happened after Nixon was forced to resign on August 9, 1974: Democrats, riding a wave of reform fever, swept Republicans out of the House and Senate—and Jimmy Carter into the White House. 

House and Senate Republicans can imagine a future without Trump—but not one where they disappear.

If they are conflicted—whether to continue supporting Trump or desert him—the reason is the same: How can I hold onto my power and all the privileges that go with it?  

“YEAH, IT’S TOO BAD YOU WERE SHOT. NOW LET’S TALK ABOUT ME”

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 15, 2019 at 12:04 am

On the morning of August 3, 2019, a lone gunman killed 22 people and injured 24 others in El Paso, Texas. 

On August 7, President Donald Trump flew to El Paso—allegedly to comfort the surviving victims of that massacre.

But what was officially intended to be a day of comforting the afflicted became one of Presidential egomania.

Trump initially praised the medical staff of the University Medical Center at El Paso: “The job you’ve done is incredible. They’re talking about you all over the world.”

But then he quickly pivoted to praise himself.

He said that he and his Democratic Presidential rival, Beto O’Rourke, had staged political rallies in El Paso earlier in February. And he mocked the relatively small size of the crowd that had attended the one by O’Rourke:

“I was here three months ago, we made a speech. That place was packed. …That was some crowd. And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot, they said his crowd was wonderful.” 

Trump did not boast that he has still not paid the $569,204.63 his campaign owes to El Paso for police and public safety fees from that rally.

Image result for Images of deadbeat

After mocking Beto O’Rourke, Trump referred to his earlier visit that day to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio.

Three days earlier, on the morning of August 4, another gun massacre had rocked Dayton. Ten people were killed, including the gunman, and 27 others were injured.

But empathy for the victims—dead and living—was far from Trump’s mind as he spoke with medical staffers in El Paso: 

“We had an amazing day. As you know, we left Ohio. And the love and the respect for the office of the presidency, it was—I wish you could have been in there to see it. I wish you could have been in there.”

John Olilver, an English comedian, political commentator and television host, offered a scathing review of Trump’s behavior: “Look, we all know how much Trump struggles to do the bare minimum of being a president, but it’s still genuinely shocking just how much he struggles to do the bare minimum of being a fucking person.

Image result for Images of John Oliver

John Oliver

“Just consider the thought process that happened there: He visited a hospital filled with victims of a mass shooting and thought to himself: ‘Remember that other time when I was the center of attention and it was better?’ And then he thought: ‘Do you think anyone else remembers that?’ Then he thought: ‘I should remind them, right?!’ Then he thought: ‘Great idea!'”

From the outset of his Presidency, Trump has routinely made himself the center of attention on what should have been a somber occasion.

The first time this happened was on January 21, 2017—the day after his inauguration.

He visited the headquarters of the CIA in Langley, Virginia, to pay tribute to the men and women who discover—and counter—the deadly plots of America’s sworn enemies. 

Now Trump stood before what, to CIA employees, was the agency’s most sacred site: The star-studded memorial wall honoring the 117 CIA officers who had fallen in the line of duty.

Image result for Images of Trump speaking at the CIA

Donald Trump at the CIA

So Trump talked about—himself. 

Here are the some excerpts:

….You know, when I was young and when I was—of course, I feel young. I feel like I’m 30, 35, 39. Somebody said, are you young? I said, I think I’m young. You know, I was stopping— when we were in the final month of that campaign, four stops, five stops, seven stops. Speeches, speeches, in front of 25,000, 30,000 people, 15,000, 19,000 from stop to stop. I feel young…. 

* * * * *

And I was explaining about the numbers. We did a thing yesterday at the speech. Did everybody like the speech?  I’ve been given good reviews. But we had a massive field of people. You saw them. Packed. I get up this morning, I turn on one of the networks, and they show an empty field. 

I say, wait a minute, I made a speech. I looked out, the field was—it looked like a million, million and a half people. They showed a field where there were practically nobody standing there.

Image result for Images of crowds at Obama and Trump inaugural

Crowds at Obama (left) and Trump (right) Inaugurals

And they said, Donald Trump did not draw well. I said, it was almost raining, the rain should have scared them away, but God looked down and he said, we’re not going to let it rain on your speech. 

* * * * *

So a reporter for Time magazine—and I have been on their cover, like, 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine. Like, if Tom Brady is on the cover, it’s one time, because he won the Super Bowl or something, right?

I’ve been on it for 15 times this year. I don’t think that’s a record….that can ever be broken. Do you agree with that? What do you think? 

* * * * *

Former CIA director John Brennan thought Trump’s remarks were “despicable.”

That word is now widely being used to describe the man who, tweeted Beto O’Rourke, “helped create the hatred that made Saturday’s tragedy possible.”

AMERICA’S “SOCIOPATH-IN-CHIEF”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 14, 2019 at 12:05 am

August 7 was supposed to be a day of mourning and comforting.

Mourning—for the 32 gun massacre victims slaughtered on August 3 and 4 in, respectively, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. And comforting—by President Donald Trump, who planned to visit the hospitalized survivors of those shootings.

The day turned out to be one of vitriol by and self-aggrandizement for Trump. 

In El Paso, none of the patients being treated at University Medical Center agreed to meet with Trump. 

Although reporters were barred from covering Trump’s visit, a photo posted on Twitter by Melania Trump captured perhaps the most incendiary moment of his day.

It showed Trump flashing a thumb’s-up while posing with the two-month-old son of Andre and Jordan Anchondo—both of whom had been shot by the El Paso gunman, Patrick Wood Crusius. 

Image result for Images of Donald Trump posing with baby in El Paso hospital

Donald and Melania Trump posing with orphaned baby

From the smiles on the Trumps’ faces, a viewer might think the boy belonged to them.

Outrage erupted almost immediately on Twitter:

Greg Pinelo: “This is a photo of Trump grinning while Melania holds a baby orphaned by the shooting. A baby who was taken from home and forced to serve as a prop at a photo-op for the very monster whose hate killed her/his parents. I would need 280,000 characters to say how furious I am.”

Bryan William Jones: “I am genuinely confused and horrified by this image. Am I taking this the wrong way? Why is Trump and Melania posing, GRINNING, and giving a thumbs up with the infant who’s parents were murdered by the shooter in El Paso. Seriously… WTH is going on?”

What was going on was this: The orphaned child, named Paul, had been injured during the shooting, breaking his fingers when his mother, Jordan, fell on him. She died trying to protect him. Her husband, Andre, died trying to shield her from the bullets.

The baby’s uncle, Tito Anchondo, had brought Paul back to the hospital—reportedly at the request of the White House—for a photo-op with Trump.

Anchondo stands next to Donald Trump in the photo. Tito is a strong supporter of Trump.

According to him, so was his brother, Andre: “I think people are misconstruing President Trump’s ideas. My brother was very supportive of Trump.”

And so, ironically enough, so was the killer—Patrick Wood Crusius—whose victims were mostly Hispanics.

Just 27 minutes before the massacre, Crusius had posted an online manifesto warning about a “Hispanic invasion.”

Its language was similar to that used by Trump: “This attack is a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas. They are the instigators, not me. I am simply defending my country from cultural and ethnic replacement brought about by an invasion….

“In short, America is rotting from the inside out, and peaceful means to try to stop this seem to be nearly impossible.”

Another viewer of the photo who was thoroughly outraged by it was David Brooks, conservative columnist for The New York Times. 

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David Brooks and Mark Shields

Appearing on the August 9 edition of The PBS Newshour, Brooks said: “Well, there’s a photo, a still from that visit where he’s with the orphan baby and two family members, with his wife.

“And Melania is holding the child. And he’s got this grin and the thumb up. And when I looked at that photo, I thought, the Democrats are having a debate: Is he a racist? Is he a white supremacist? And I look at that photo, I think, well, he’s a sociopath.

“He’s incapable of experiencing or showing empathy. And, politically, it’s helpful for him to target that lack of empathy and fellow feeling toward people of color. But how much have we seen him show empathy for anybody?

“And so I look at that as someone who is unloved and made himself unlovable and whose subject is himself, is his own competitive greatness. And so he doesn’t do the consoler in chief just because he doesn’t do that emotional range.” 

This wasn’t the first time that Brooks had commented on Trump’s apparent incapacity for empathy.

On March 25, 2016, Brooks, again on The PBS Newshour, said: “The odd thing about [Trump’s] whole career and his whole language, his whole world view is there is no room for love in it. You get a sense of a man who received no love, can give no love, so his relationship with women, it has no love in it. It’s trophy.

“And [Trump’s] relationship toward the world is one of competition and beating, and as if he’s going to win by competition what other people get by love.

“And so you really are seeing someone who just has an odd psychology unleavened by kindness and charity, but where it’s all winners and losers, beating and being beat. And that’s part of the authoritarian personality, but it comes out in his attitude toward women.”

Brooks may be the first conservative columnist to describe a Republican President as a “sociopath.” Given Trump’s behavior on what was supposed to be a day of national mourning, it isn’t likely to be the last time Brooks uses that word. 

AMERICA’S “SOCIOPATH-IN-CHIEF”: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 13, 2019 at 12:14 am

Since 2006, 1,714 people have been killed in 311 mass shootings within the United States. This works out to about one incident per every two weeks.

From January 1 to August 5, 2019—216 days into the year—the United States has had 112 people killed in gun massacres. That comes to about one death every other day, according to an analysis by The Associated Press, USA Today and Northeastern University.

On the morning of August 3, 2019, a lone gunman killed 22 people and injured 24 others in El Paso, Texas. The killer—Patrick Wood Crusius—reportedly targeted Latinos.

Then, on the morning of August 4, another gun massacre occurred—in Dayton, Ohio. Ten people were killed, including the gunman, and 27 others were injured. 

On August 7, President Donald Trump flew first to Dayton and then to El Paso—allegedly to comfort the surviving victims of those massacres.

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Donald Trump

So what was officially intended to be a day of comforting the afflicted became one of Presidential egomania, venom and self-pity.

On the night of August 6, Trump tweeted an attack on Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke:

“Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!”

The tone was that of an all-powerful dictator addressing a rebellious subject.

O’Rourke quickly replied on Twitter: “22 people in my hometown are dead after an act of terror inspired by your racism. El Paso will not be quiet and neither will I.”

Beto O'Rourke, Official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

Beto O’Rourke

Then Trump attacked The New York Times for changing its “Trump Urges Unity Vs. Racism” headline: “After 3 years I almost got a good headline from the Times!”

Trump next tried to tie the Dayton shooter to Democrats, no doubt because Republicans have been the party resisting gun control legislation: “Meanwhile, the Dayton, Ohio, shooter had a history of supporting political figures like [Senator] Bernie Sanders, [Senator] Elizabeth Warren, and ANTIFA.” @OANN I hope other news outlets will report this as opposed to Fake News. Thank you!”

Dayton’s mayor, Nan Whaley, and Ohio’s United States Senator, Sherrod Brown, reacted positively to Trump’s visit to Miami Valley Hospital: “They were hurting. He was comforting. He did the right things. Melania did the right things,” Brown said. “And it’s his job in part to comfort people. I’m glad he did it in those hospital rooms.”

Whaley added: “I think the victims and the first responders were grateful that the president of the United States came to Dayton.”

Nan Whaley, Mayor of Dayton, Ohio USA.jpg

Nan Whaley

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

This did not, however, prevent Trump from attacking both of them on Twitter: “Just left Dayton, Ohio, where I met with the Victims & families, Law Enforcement, Medical Staff & First Responders. It was a warm & wonderful visit. Tremendous enthusiasm & even Love.

“Then I saw failed Presidential Candidate (0%) Sherrod Brown & Mayor Whaley totally….misrepresenting what took place inside of the hospital. Their news conference after I left for El Paso was a fraud. It bore no resemblance to what took place with those incredible people that I was so lucky to meet and spend time with. They were all amazing!” 

White House Press Secretary Stephan Grisham tweeted: “President @realDonaldTrump graciously asked Sen Brown & Mayor Whaley to join as he and the First Lady visited victims, medical staff & first responders. It is genuinely sad to see them immediately hold such a dishonest press conference in the name of partisan politics.” 

White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino tweeted: “Very SAD to see Ohio Senator Brown, & Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley – LYING & completely mischaracterizing what took place w/ the President’s visit to Miami Valley Hospital today. They are disgraceful politicians, doing nothing but politicizing a mass shooting, at every turn they can.”

“The President was treated like a Rock Star inside the hospital, which was all caught on video. They all loved seeing their great President!”

Responding to Trump’s attacks, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley tweeted: “Not sure what the President thinks @SenSherrodBrown and I misrepresented. As we said, the victims and first responders were comforted by his presence. Let’s hope he’s not one of these all talk, no action politicians and actually does something on gun control. #DoSomething.” 

From Dayton it was on to El Paso—and more personal attacks via Twitter.

First target: Former Vice President and now Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden: “Watching Sleepy Joe Biden making a speech. Sooo Boring! The LameStream Media will die in the ratings and clicks with this guy. It will be over for them, not to mention the fact that our Country will do poorly with him. It will be one big crash, but at least China will be happy!”

Then he blasted Shepard Smith, one of the few anchors on Right-wing Fox News Network who’s willing to criticize him: “Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest rated show on @FoxNews. Actually, whenever possible, I turn to @OANN!” 

From Dayton, it was on to El Paso—and a photo-op that would provoke national outrage.

“WHEN THEY GO LOW, WE KICK ‘EM!”

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on August 12, 2019 at 12:06 am

On September 30, 2015, during an appearance on Fox News Network, Kevin McCarthy proved that your best friends can sometimes be your worst enemies.

McCarthy, the Republican member of the House of Representatives from Bakersfield, California, was feeling relaxed. He was, after all, not being grilled by such “enemies” of the Right as The New York Times or MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

Instead, he was being interviewed by Sean Hannity—a Right-wing political commentator and the author of such books as Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda and Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism.

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Sean Hannity

John Boehner had recently announced he would resign as Republican Speaker of the House and leave Congress in November. So Hannity asked: What would happen when the next Republican Speaker took office?

And McCarthy—who was in the running for the position—replied: “What you’re going to see is a conservative Speaker, that takes a conservative Congress, that puts a strategy to fight and win.

“And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?

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Kevin McCarthy

“But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her [poll] numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”

In 51 words, McCarthy revealed that: 

  • The House Select Committee on Benghazi was not a legitimate investigative body.
  • Its purpose was not to investigate the 2012 deaths of four American diplomats during a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
  • Its real purpose was to destroy the Presidential candidacy of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
  • To accomplish this, its members spent 17 months and wasted more than $4.5 million of American taxpayers’ funds.

But now McCarthy is singing a different tune.

On August 5, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) tweeted out a list of 44 San Antonio donors to President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign for re-election: “Sad to see so many San Antonians as of 2019 maximum donors to Donald Trump. Their contributions are fueling a campaign of hate that labels Hispanic immigrants as ‘invaders.’”

Joaquin Castro, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

Joaquin Castro

On the morning of August 3, 2019, a lone gunman had killed 22 people and injured 24 others in El Paso, Texas. The killer—Patrick Wood Crusius—reportedly targeted Latinos.

Just 27 minutes before the massacre, Crusius had posted an online manifesto warning about a “Hispanic invasion.” Its language was similar to that used by President Trump.

It was the third-deadliest mass shooting in Texas history and the seventh deadliest in modern United States history.

According to ABC News, when police arrested Crusius, he said that he wanted to shoot as many Mexicans as possible.

That was when Rep. Joaquin Castro—whose brother, Julián, is running for President—decided to fight fire with fire.

He decided to “out” 44 San Antonio donors who had contributed the maximum amount under federal law to Trump in 2019.

Trump has aggressively tried to shame his critics. Castro obviously sought to do the same with Trump’s supporters.

Predictably, Republicans were outraged. They claimed it spotlighted Trump donors and potentially endangered them by publicizing their names and professions. 

One of these critics was House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who blamed the shooting on video games.

“Targeting and harassing Americans because of their political beliefs is shameful and dangerous.” tweeted McCarthy. “What happened to ‘When they go low, we go high?’ Or does that no longer matter when your brother is polling at 1%? Americans deserve better.”

But Castro refused to back down. He pointed out that his information came from publicly-available records at the Federal Election Commission.  

“No one was targeted or harassed in my post. You know that,” Castro tweeted to McCarthy. “All that info is routinely published.”

“What happened to ‘When they go low, we go high?’” must rank among the all-time statements of political hypocrisy. McCarthy was the man who unintentionally admitted the real purpose of the “Benghazi Committee.”

And from the late 1940s to the mid-1950s, Republicans unhesitatingly hauled prominent and ordinary citizens before House and Senate subcommittees. The purpose: To force them to confess to past membership in the Communist Party or inform on those they knew to have been or be members.

And as a Presidential candidate and President, Trump has repeatedly used Twitter to personally attack hundreds of Americans—especially blacks, Hispanics, women and members of the media. 

Perhaps Castro remembered what happened the last time Democrats—in the words of Michelle Obama—waged a “when they go low, we go high” campaign.

Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton proved no match for

  • Russian Internet trolls and
  • The hacking of state election offices and American voting machine makers by Russian military Intelligence.

And since Trump took office in 2017, he and his Republican Congressional allies have fiercely resisted all Democratic efforts to tighten election security. 

Many Democrats still refuse to “get into the gutter” with Trump by using his own tactics against him.

But some—like Joaquin Castro—have clearly decided that when your opponent is aiming below the belt, you only lose by sticking to Marquis of Queensberry.

READY TO END GUN MASSACRES? HERE’S HOW.

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 6, 2019 at 12:05 am

The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one—no matter where he lives or what he does—can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.

–Robert F. Kennedy, April 4, 1968

Senator Robert F. Kennedy announcing the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What should the surviving victims of gun massacres do to seek redress?

And how can the relatives and friends of those who didn’t survive seek justice for those they loved?

Two things:

First, don’t count on politicians to support a ban on assault weapons.

Politicians—with rare exceptions—have only two goals:

  1. Get elected to office, and
  2. Stay in office.

And too many of them fear the economic and voting clout of the NRA to risk its wrath.

Consider Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama.

Both rushed to offer condolences to the surviving victims of the massacre at the Century 16 Theater in Aurora, Colorado, on July 20, 2012.

And both steadfastly refused to even discuss gun control—let alone support a ban on the type of assault weapons used by James Holmes, leaving 12 dead and 58 wounded.

Second, those who survived the massacre–and the relatives and friends of those who didn’t–should file wrongful death, class-action lawsuits against the NRA.

There is sound, legal precedent for this.

  • For decades, the American tobacco industry peddled death and disability to millions and reaped billions of dollars in profits.
  • The industry vigorously claimed there was no evidence that smoking caused cancer, heart disease, emphysema or any other ailment.

  • Tobacco companies spent billions on slick advertising campaigns to win new smokers and attack medical warnings about the dangers of smoking.
  • Tobacco companies spent millions to elect compliant politicians and block anti-smoking legislation.
  • From 1954 to 1994, over 800 private lawsuits were filed against tobacco companies in state courts. But only two plaintiffs prevailed, and both of those decisions were reversed on appeal.
  • In 1994, amidst great pessimism, Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore filed a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. But other states soon followed, ultimately growing to 46.
  • Their goal: To seek monetary, equitable and injunctive relief under various consumer-protection and anti-trust laws.
  • The theory underlying these lawsuits was: Cigarettes produced by the tobacco industry created health problems among the population, which badly strained the states’ public healthcare systems.
  • In 1998, the states settled their Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry for recovery of their tobacco-related, health-care costs. In return, they exempted the companies from private lawsuits for tobacco-related injuries.
  • The companies agreed to curtail or cease certain marketing practices. They also agreed to pay, forever, annual payments to the states to compensate some of the medical costs for patients with smoking-related illnesses.

The parallels with the NRA are obvious:

  • For decades, the NRA has peddled deadly weapons to millions, reaped billions of dollars in profits and refused to admit the carnage those weapons have produced: “Guns don’t kill people.  People kill people.”  With guns.

  • The NRA has bitterly fought background checks on gun-buyers, in effect granting even criminals and the mentally ill the right to own arsenals of death-dealing weaponry.
  • The NRA has spent millions on slick advertising campaigns to win new members and frighten them into buying guns.

  • The NRA has spent millions on political contributions to block gun-control legislation.
  • The NRA has spent millions attacking political candidates and elected officials who warned about the dangers of unrestricted access to assault and/or concealed weapons.

  • The NRA has spent millions pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws in more than half the states, which potentially give every citizen a “license to kill.”
  • The NRA receives millions of dollars from online sales of ammunition, high-capacity ammunition magazines, and other accessories through its point-of-sale Round-Up Program—thus directly profiting by selling a product that kills about 30,288 people a year.

  • Firearms made indiscriminately available through NRA lobbying have filled hospitals with casualties, and have thus badly strained the states’ public healthcare systems.

It will take a series of highly expensive and well-publicized lawsuits to significantly weaken the NRA, financially and politically.

The first ones will have to be brought by the surviving victims of gun violence—and by the friends and families of those who did not survive it. Only they will have the courage and motivation to take such a risk.

As with the cases first brought against tobacco companies, there will be losses.  And the NRA will rejoice with each one.

But, in time, state Attorneys General will see the clear parallels between lawsuits filed against those who peddle death by cigarette and those who peddle death by armor-piercing bullet.

And then the NRA—like the tobacco industry—will face an adversary wealthy enough to stand up for the rights of the gun industry’s own victims.

Only then will those politicians supporting reasonable gun controls dare to stand up for the victims of these  needless tragedies.

THE NRA’S “GUN-TIME RELIGION” AND ITS “HOLY BODYCOUNT”

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 5, 2019 at 1:00 am

On February 14, 2018, 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz slaughtered two faculty members and 15 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

His weapon of choice: An AR-15 assault rifle, often favored by gun massacre killers.

Eight days later, on February 22, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, attacked those he held responsible for the series of massacres plaguing American schools.

And it wasn’t crazed gunmen armed with automatic weapons designed for military use. 

Image result for Images of Wayne LaPierre

Wayne LaPierre

With funerals still being planned for some of the victims, LaPierre blamed “the elites,” “saboteurs” and “new European-style socialists” for this and other gun massacres.

He did so at the Conservative Political Action Conference (C-PAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.

“They hate the NRA, they hate the Second Amendment. They hate individual freedom. In the rush of calls for more government, they have also revealed…their true selves.

“The elites do not care about America’s schoolchildren. If they truly cared, they would protect them. For them, it is not a safety issue. It is a political issue. 

“Their goal is to eliminate the Second Amendment and our firearms freedoms, so they can eradicate all individual freedoms.”

His C-PAC congregation gave him a wild ovation.

And he accused the Democratic party of being “infested with saboteurs who do not believe in capitalism, do not believe in the Constitution, do not believe in our freedom, and do not believe in America as we know it.”

These “saboteurs” were “new European-style socialists.”

Which was ironic: In 2016, the NRA spent $30 million to elect Donald Trump—who fiercely defends Russian Communist dictator Vladimir Putin against the FBI, NSA and CIA.

He then outlined his solution for protecting America’s schoolchildren: Turning schools into virtual concentration camps patrolled by heavily-armed security guards. 

The highlight of LaPierre’s speech came at its close: “And there is no greater personal, individual freedom than the right to keep and bear arms, the right to protect yourself, and the right to survive.

“It is not bestowed by man, but granted by God to all Americans as our American birthright.”

Anyone who’s seen the 1970 sci-fi movie, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, remembers the final scene: Where seemingly normal underground dwellers strip off their human face masks and reveal themselves to be radiation-scarred mutants.

They wear white robes, and stand silently during a sermon or shout “Amen!” in what is clearly a dark parody of a religious service. It’s immediately clear what they are worshiping: An atomic bomb standing upright.

Image result for Images of bomb worshipers in Beneath the Planet of the Apes

And they pay tribute to the engine of obliteration that has destroyed human civilization and brought about a world ruled by apes.

Their leader, Mendez, chants:

“Glory be to the Bomb, and to the Holy Fallout. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen. 

“His sound has gone out to all lands, and his light unto the end of the world.

“Almighty and everlasting Bomb, who came down among us to make Heaven under Earth. Lighten our darkness. O instrument of God—grant us thy peace!”

Reading Wayne LaPierre’s eulogy to the Gun and his passionate invoking of God, it’s easy to re-imagine his giving a slightly altered version of the sermon offered in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. It’s also easy to imagine this taking place during an NRA convention.

WAYNE LAPIERRE: The heavens declare the Glory of the Gun. And the body-count showeth His handiwork.

NRA CONGREGATION: His sound is gone out to all lands; and his Light unto the end of the world.

WAYNE LAPIEREE: He descendeth from the outermost part of Heaven; and there is nothing hid from the lead thereof. There is neither speech nor language after His voice is heard among them.

NRA CONGREGATION: Praise Him! Praise Him! My Strength and my Redeemer!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Glory be to the Gun, and to the Holy Bodycount! As it was in the Beginning, is now and ever shall be, massacres without end. Amen!

NRA CHORUS: Amen! Amen! Amen! Amen!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Almighty and Everlasting Gun, who came down among us to make Heaven unto Earth. Lighten our darkness with your muzzle flashes. O instrument of God, grant us They peace.

NRA CHOIR: Almighty Gun, who destroyed all men—to create corpses! Behold His glory!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Behold that Truth that abides in us. To reveal that Truth unto that Maker.

WAYNE LAPIERRE AND NRA CONGREGATION:  I reveal my inmost self unto my God.

NRA CHORUS (singing): Unto my God!

NRA CONGREGATION (singing):

All guns bright and beautiful. All creatures dead with lead.

The good Gun makes us what we are!

He takes out eyes to see with, and lips that might yet speak. How great the Gun Almighty, who has made all things dead. Amen!

WAYNE LAPIERRE: May the Blessing of the Gun Almighty and the fellowship of the Holy Bodycount descend on us all, this night and forevermore! 

* * * * * *  

On December 14, 2012, a psychotic gunman using military firepower slaughtered 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Since then, at least 2,189 mass shootings have erupted nationwide, with at least 2,475 killed and 9,137 wounded.

CORPORATE DATA BREACHES? BLAME CEOs: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 2, 2019 at 12:43 am

On July 15, 2015, Ashley Madison joined the list of companies that failed to safeguard their customers’ most sensitive information—such as their credit card numbers, addresses, emails and phone numbers.

And Ashley Madison had more reason than most to do this—as the notorious website for cheating wives and husbands.

After all, its database is a blackmailer’s dream-come-true. Yet apparently its owners didn’t care enough about the privacy of their customers to provide adequate security.

Like so many other companies hit by hackers, Ashley Madison sought to reassure its dangerously compromised customers:

“At this time, we have been able to secure our sites, and close the unauthorized access points. We are working with law enforcement agencies, which are investigating this criminal act.”

This statement gave new meaning to the phrase, “Closing the barn door after the cow has gotten out.”

Avid Life Media assured its customers that it had hired “one of the world’s top IT security teams” to work on the breach.

Adultery-dating website Ashley Madison hacked

So why wasn’t this “top IT security team” hired at the outset?

On August 18, 2015, the hackers began releasing their pirated information. 

Ashley Madison’s customers chose to put their private information on its computer system.

Those of Equifax, didn’t. Equifax collected this from credit card companies.

From Mid-May through July, 2017, Equifax was hacked. The breach was discovered on July 29. 

But the company didn’t announce it until September 7, 2017.

As a result, the private data of nearly 150 million people was compromised.

On July 22, 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Equifax, one of the nation’s largest credit-reporting companies, would pay up to $700 million to settle with the FTC and consumers.

If approved by the federal district court Northern District of Georgia, the settlement will provide up to $425 million in monetary relief to consumers and a $100 million civil money penalty.

According to Karl A. Racine, attorney general for Washington, D.C., it’s the largest settlement ever for a data breach. 

“Equifax failed to protect consumers’ information and failed to enact reasonable security measures under California’s data security laws,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a news conference.

“That left very important personal information exposed and allowed hackers to steal consumers’ names, Social Security numbers, their birth dates, their addresses and in some instances their driver’s license number and even credit related information.”

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And for those who believe the private sector is inherently more efficient than the public one: On the week that Equifax agreed to pay $700 million for its massive 2017 data breach, Richard Smith, its disgraced former CEO, got some wonderful news: 

  • He was slated to receive as much as $19.6 million in stock bonuses since leaving the company.
  • That’s roughly 1,000 times the $20,000 maximum payout that any financially damaged consumer can collect from Equifax.
  • In addition, Equifax agreed to cover Smith’s medical bills for life, a benefit the company estimates is worth another $103,500.
  • Equifax decided he deserved a $24 million pension.
  • Smith got $50,000 in tax and financial planning services.
  • His stock bonuses cover a period that includes the former executive’s performance in 2017. 

When CBS News contacted Equifax on this development, the company refused to comment. Neither could Smith be reached.

There is a reason why these security breaches keep happening.

An October 22, 2014 “commentary” published in Forbes magazine raised the highly disturbing question: “Cybersecurity: Does Corporate America Really Care?”

And the answer is clearly: No.

Its author was John Hering, co-founder and executive director of Lookout, which bills itself as “the world leader in mobile security for consumers and enterprises alike.”

Click here: Cybersecurity: Does corporate America really care?

“One thing is clear,” wrote Hering. “CEOs need to put security on their strategic agendas alongside revenue growth and other issues given priority in boardrooms.”

Hering warned that “CEOs don’t seem to be making security a priority.” And he offered several reasons for this:

  • The sheer number of data compromises.
  • Relatively little consumer outcry.
  • Almost no impact on the companies’ standing on Wall Street.
  • Executives may consider such breaches part of the cost of doing business.

“There’s a short-term mindset and denial of convenience in board rooms,” wrote Hering.

“Top executives don’t realize their systems are vulnerable and don’t understand the risks. Sales figures and new products are top of mind; shoring up IT systems aren’t.”

There are three ways corporations can be forced to start behaving responsibly on this issue.

  1. Smart attorneys need to start filing class-action lawsuits against companies that refuse to take steps to protect their customers’ private information. There is a name for such behavior: Criminal negligence. And there are laws carrying serious penalties for it.
  2. There must be Federal legislation to ensure that multi-million-dollar fines are levied against such companies—and especially their CEOs—when such data breaches occur.
  3. The Justice Department should vigorously prosecute CEOs whose companies’ criminal negligence leads to such massive data breaches. They should be considered as accessories to crime, and, if convicted, sentenced to lengthy prison terms.

Only then will the CEO mindset of “We don’t care, we don’t have to” be replaced with: “We care, because we’ll lose our money and/or freedom if we don’t.”

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