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WHAT AMERICA LOST WITH JFK

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 24, 2022 at 12:10 am

Fifty-nine years ago, on November 22, 1963, two bullets slammed into the neck and head of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

It has been said that JFK left his country with three great legacies:

  • The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty;
  • The Apollo moon landing; and
  • The Vietnam war.

Of these, the following can be said with certainty:

  • The Test Ban Treaty has prevented atmospheric testing—and poisoning—by almost all the world’s nuclear powers.
  • After reaching the moon—in 1969—Americans quickly lost interest in space and have today largely abandoned plans for manned exploration. For America, as for JFK, beating the Russians to the moon was the end-goal.
  • Under Presidents Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, 58,000 Americans died in Vietnam; 153,303 were wounded; and billions of dollars were squandered in a hopeless effort to intervene in what was essentially a Vietnamese civil war. From 1965 to 1972, the war angrily divided Americas as had no event since the Civil War.

But there was a fourth legacy—and perhaps the most important of all: The belief that mankind could overcome its greatest challenges through rationality and perseverance.

 White House painting of JFK

At American University on June 10, 1963, Kennedy called upon his fellow Americans to re-examine the events and attitudes that had led to the Cold War. And he declared that the search for peace was by no means absurd:

“Our problems are man-made; therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.

“Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable, and we believe they can do it again.”

Today, politicians from both parties cannot agree on solutions to even the most vital national problems.

On November 21, 2011, the 12 members of the “Super-Committee” of Congress, tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in cuts in government spending, threw up their hands in defeat.

President Kennedy insisted on being well-informed. He speed-read several newspapers every morning and nourished personal relationships with the press-–and not for altruistic reasons. These journalistic contacts gave Kennedy additional sources of information and perspectives on national and international issues.

During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Republican Presidential candidates celebrated their ignorance of both.

Former Godfather’s Pizza CEO Herman Cain famously said, “We need a leader, not a reader.” Thus he excused his ignorance for why President Barack Obama had intervened in Libya.

Texas Governor Rick Perry (and later Secretary of Energy) showed similar pride in not knowing there are nine judges on the United States Supreme Court:

Rick Perry official portrait.jpg

Rick Perry

“Well, obviously, I know there are nine Supreme Court judges. I don’t know how eight came out my mouth. But the, uh, the fact is, I can tell you—I don’t have memorized all of those Supreme Court judges. And, uh, ah—

“Here’s what I do know. That when I put an individual on the Supreme Court, just like I done in Texas, ah, we got nine Supreme Court justices in Texas, ah, they will be strict constructionists….”

In short, it’s the media’s fault if they ask you a question and your answer reveals your own ignorance, stupidity or criminality.   

Donald Trump—as a Presidential candidate—went even further. After winning the Nevada caucuses in February, 2016 he said: “We won the evangelicals, we won with young, we won with old, we won with highly educated, we won with poorly educated! I love the poorly educated.”

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

His senior adviser, Kelleyanne Conway, set the tone of his administration’s approach to the truth right at the outset. Asked why then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer had lied about the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration, Conway replied: 

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving—Sean Spicer, our press secretary—gave alternative facts.” 

“Alternative facts” aren’t facts—they are falsehoods.

During the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy spoke with aides about a book he had just finished: Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August, about the events leading to World War 1.

He said that the book’s most important revelation was how European leaders had blindly rushed into war, without thought to the possible consequences. Kennedy told his aides he did not intend to make the same mistake–that, having read his history, he was determined to learn from it.

Republicans attacked President Obama for his Harvard education and articulate use of language. Among their taunts: “Hitler also gave good speeches.”

And they resented his having earned most of his income as a writer of two books: Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. As if being a writer is somehow subversive.

When knowledge and literacy are attacked as “highfalutin’” arrogance, and ignorance and incoherence are embraced as sincerity, national decline lies just around the corner.

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump infamously chortled after winning the Nevada Republican primary: “We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”

And, that November, “the poorly educated” elected him President.

In retrospect, the funeral for President Kennedy marked the death of more than a rational and optimistic human being.

It marked the death of Americans’ pride in choosing reasoning and educated citizens for their leaders.

The Eternal Flame at the grave of President John F. Kennedy

THE COMINIG DICTATORS’ BLOODBATH: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on November 16, 2022 at 12:10 am

In his coming war against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump may have the last word.

The former President has warned that if he can’t be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2024, “he’s willing to burn it all down.” 

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who has intimately covered Trump for years, has tweeted:  

“Yes, Trump is more vulnerable than he’s been in a long time. But that has happened before and he’s survived.”

Pulitzer2018-maggie-haberman-20180530-wp.jpg

Maggie Haberman 

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

“Trump has extremely few major donors who want to do anything for him right now and a number of them are having active conversations about the best way to stop him. But. Again….sound familiar?

“Trump has made clear he’s willing to burn it all down if he doesn’t get what he wants, which is maintaining his grip on the product line he’s been developing for six years: the Republican party. So a lot of electeds will have to make a choice they’ve not had to before.” 

There is precedent for this. After serving two terms in the White House (1901-1909) Theodore Roosevelt became increasingly disillusioned with his handpicked successor: William Howard Taft.

President Roosevelt - Pach Bros (cropped).jpg

Theodore Roosevelt

By 1912, he decided to run for a third term as a third-party candidate. His candidacy split the Republican vote—and enabled Democrats to elect Woodrow Wilson President.

No doubt many Democrats are now salivating at the possibility of the same occurring in 2024.

And even more of them are looking forward to seeing two would-be tyrants—Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis—trading lethal blows for most of the Presidential year. 

Their reaction would be similar to that expressed by then-Senator Harry S. Truman when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941: “If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if that Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible.” 

* * * * *

As the Third Reich came to its fiery end, its dictator, Adolf Hitler, sought to punish the German people for being “unworthy” of his “genius” and losing the war he had started.

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

In his infamous “Nero Order,” he decreed the destruction of everything still remaining–industries, ships, harbors, communications, roads, mines, bridges, stores, utility plants, food stuffs.

Fortunately for Germany, one man–Albert Speer–finally broke ranks with his Fuhrer.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

Risking death, he refused to carry out Hitler’s “scorched earth” order.  Even more important, he mounted a successful effort to block such destruction and persuade influential military and civilian leaders to disobey the order as well.

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

Throughout his four years in office, President Donald Trump made it clear that America faced a stark choice: It could remain a constitutional democracy—or allow him to become an all-powerful “President-for-Life.”

Among his outrages:

  • Repeatedly attacking the nation’s free press for daring to report his growing list of crimes and disasters, calling it “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Siding with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency which unanimously agreed that Russia had subverted the 2016 Presidential election. 
  • Firing FBI Director James Comey for investigating that subversion.
  • Giving Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak highly classified CIA Intelligence about an Islamic State plot to turn laptops into concealable bombs.  
  • Shutting down the Federal Government for 35 days in 2018-19 because Democrats refused to fund his ineffective “border wall” between the United States and Mexico.
  • An estimated 380,000 government employees were furloughed and another 420,000 were ordered to work without pay. The shutdown ended due to public outrage—without Trump getting the funding amount he had demanded.
  • Trying to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to smear former Vice President Joe Biden, who was likely to be his Democratic opponent in the 2020 Presidential election.
  • Repeatedly lying about the dangers posed by the COVID-19 virus, and thus enabling it to ravage the country and ultimately kill 400,000 by the time Trump left office.
  • Attacking medical experts and governors who urged Americans to wear masks and socially distance to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Trump’s ultimate act of criminality and treason came on January 6, 2021, when he incited his followers to violently attack the United States Capitol Building. Their goal: To prevent Republicans and Democrats from counting the Electoral Votes cast in the 2020 Presidential election.

Trump fully understood that an accurate count of those votes would reveal his loss to Joe Biden: 306 votes for Biden, compared with 232 for Trump.

Fortunately for American democracy, there were enough patriots determined to prevent Trump from becoming the absolute dictator he clearly intended to be.

Like Adolf Hitler, Donald Trump’s attitude was: “If I can’t rule America, there won’t be an America.”

Deprived of his chance to destroy the country he claimed to love, Trump now threatens to destroy the political party that brought him to near-absolute power in 2016.

And Ron DeSantis stands ready to establish himself as an equally Trumpian dictator.

Their party is still waiting for a Republican Albert Speer to step forward and save America from the self-destructive brutalities of its own Right-wing fanatics.

THE COMING DICTATORS’ BLOODBATH: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 15, 2022 at 12:10 am

Having been defeated in 2020 for a second term by former Vice President Joe Biden, Donald Trump has convinced himself—and millions of his fanatical followers—that he was cheated by vote fraud.

He is convinced that the 2024 GOP Presidential nomination rightfully belongs to him. And that anyone who stands in his way must be mercilessly crushed.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, on the other hand, is equally convinced that it’s now the turn of a younger, more vigorous and equally ruthless man to hold the White House.

Not only does Trump believe DeSantis owes him absolute loyalty, but so do many of his supporters. 

“Sadly, everything President Trump says is true. Ron DeSantis owes his governorship to Donald Trump and challenging him in 2024 would be a treacherous act of disloyalty,” said Roger Stone, a long-time Trump adviser.

That assumes that Trump has been ordained as the official Republican Presidential nominee for 2024.

He has not. 

Related image

Donald Trump

Moreover, Trump has never allowed a sense of loyalty to stand in the way of his ambitions—in business or politics. 

In DeSantis, Trump faces an opponent every bit as ruthless as himself—and endowed with several built-in advantages. 

On November 11, the CNN website carried an opinion piece by Nichole Hemmer, an associate professor of history at Vanderbilt University. 

Entitled “Even the DeSantis bubble may burst,” it noted:

“On paper, DeSantis looks like Trump’s natural heir. Since winning the governorship by a whisper-thin margin in 2018, he has consciously molded himself after Trump, picking up everything from Trump’s hand gestures and speech cadence to his media-bashing and calculated viciousness….

“He has married that political style with a strongman persona. As governor, he has targeted protesters, universities, public health workers and corporations for opposing his policies.

“He has sent police to round up voters with felony convictions who, confused by the state’s efforts to strip their voting rights after voters reinstated them a few years ago, mistakenly voted in recent elections.

“He has bent the Florida legislature to his will, whipping up support for anti-gay laws, a new redistricting map and punitive legislation targeting Disney after the company criticized the state’s infamous ‘don’t say gay” bill.'” 

Nicole Hemmer (@pastpunditry) / Twitter

Nichole Hemmer

Thus, in DeSantis, Trump faces an opponent every bit as ruthless as himself—and endowed with several built-in advantages.

First, DeSantis, at 44, is 32 years younger than the 76-year-old Trump.  

Second, DeSantis, unlike Trump, has an existing power-base: The Governorship of a pivotal swing state: Florida.

Trump, an ex-President, lives at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Third, DeSantis doesn’t carry the baggage of scandals and notoriety that Trump has acquired as a businessman and President.

Fourth, DeSantis can reach far greater numbers of people through his Twitter account than Trump has been able to do through his failing website, Truth Social.

That’s because Trump’s Twitter account was closed—by Twitter—after he incited a mob of his followers to attack the United States Capitol Building on January 6, 2021.

The object of that attack: To stop the counting of Electoral College votes certain to find former Vice President Joe Biden the legitimate winner of the 2020 Presidential election.

Gov Ron DeSantis Portrait.jpg

Ron DeSantis

Fifth, many Republicans are blaming Trump for their failure to sweep Democrats from state and Federal offices in a widely heralded “Red wave” in the 2022 midterm elections.  

“Trump Is the Republican Party’s Biggest Loser,” read the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board’s headline. Fox News and right-wing podcasts and radio shows repeated the charge in the days after the elections.

Sixth, DeSantis has gained huge popularity within Florida by molding himself after Trump by tapping into the politics of resentment. Among the targets of his attacks:

Protesters:  DeSantis enacted a 2021 “anti-riot” bill that: 

  • Grants civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road;
  • Creates a broad category for misdemeanor arrest during protests;
  • Anyone charged will be denied bail until their first court appearance;
  • Creates a new felony crime of “aggravated rioting” that carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a new crime of “mob intimidation.”  

Schools:  

  • Installed GOP allies in top university posts;
  • Successfully pushed legislation that could change tenure and limit how university professors can teach lessons on race.  

Blacks:  Pushed through the legislature a new congressional map that will dilute the voting power of black Floridians. 

COVID-19: Attacked wearing masks and getting vaccinated as threats to “American freedom”—to support a family, attend school, run a business. 

Gays: Signed legislation prohibiting classroom discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity with younger students—a measure critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law.

Walt Disney Corporation: Disney CEO Bob Chapek criticized DeSantis’ “don’t say gay” bill. DeSantis rammed through the legislature a bill eliminating the decades-long status Disney had held to operate as an independent government around its Orlando-area theme parks.

Asylum-seekers: Sent two planeloads of illegal aliens—at Florida’s expense—to the island of Martha’s Vineyard as a pre-election publicity stunt.

Nor has DeSantis neglected to make himself appear as a true “man of the people.”

A month before the election, he declared a gas tax holiday. He also suspended campaigning and focused on effective hurricane relief after Hurricane Ian. 

THE COMING DICTATORS’ BLOODBATH: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 14, 2022 at 12:10 am

For Americans, it may turn out to be the equivalent of the deathmatch between German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. 

At the very least, it promises to be the Right-wing heavyweight championship of the decade, if not the century: An all-out slugfest between former President Donald J. Trump and Florida Governor Ron D. DeSantis.

On November 10, Trump publicly attacked DeSantis as “Ron DeSanctimonious” and took credit for DeSantis’ success after endorsing him in 2018.

This was only two days after DeSantis was soundly re-elected Governor—and the much-hyped “Red wave” failed to sweep Democrats out of state and federal offices in the 2022 midterm elections. 

On his website, Truth Social, Trump posted that DeSantis had been a political lightweight who had come to him “in desperate shape” when running for his first term in office in 2017.

Donald Trump

“Ron had low approval, bad polls, and no money, but he said that if I would Endorse [sic] him, he could win.  also fixed his campaign, which had completely fallen apart.”

For Trump, DeSantis’ worst sin was refusing to say whether he would run for President in 2024.

Having been defeated for a second term by Joe Biden in 2020, Trump believes he has an absolute right to regain that office in another two years. 

“Ron DeSanctimonious is playing games! The Fake News asks him if he’s going to run if President Trump runs, and he says, ‘I’m only focused on the Governor’s race, I’m not looking into the future.’ Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer.”

By “loyalty” Trump meant: Loyalty to himself.

For Trump, there was only one “right” answer DeSantis could have given: “I will not be a candidate for President in 2024 and I will totally support President Trump for that office.”

And that was not the response that DeSantis gave.

Even worse for Trump: Several of his loudly-supported candidates across the country lost their electoral bids.

To add to his rage and sense of betrayal: Conservative media sided with DeSantis—such as Fox News and the New York Post, which ran a front page headline calling DeSantis “DeFuture” the day after the election. 

New York Post.svg

New York Post, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Responded Trump:  “NewsCorp, which is Fox, the Wall Street Journal, and the no longer great New York Post, is all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious.” 

A Trump advisor, speaking off-the-record, told Politico: “Obviously he is escalating. It is total shots fired. It is not what I would have done if it were totally up to me, but you can’t argue with Donald Trump’s tactics. They work. He is savage but effective. He was never going to stay restrained for long.” 

“He is obviously threatened by a DeSantis presidential run,” said a longtime Florida Republican consultant speaking of Trump. “And by doing this, I think he will lose a lot of his base support.”

Trump’s advisors are trying to persuade him to soften his image. They fear that his angry and divisive rhetoric is turning off many voters who like his policies but desire some normalcy. 

They are also trying to persuade Trump to focus less on his 2020 election loss and offer solutions to voters’ problems. 

At the DeSantis victory rally, chants resounded: “Two more years!”—meaning that his supporters want him to run for President in 2024.

DeSantis has not responded to the attacks Trump has made on him. 

Two Florida Republicans close to DeSantis told Yahoo News that the governor would be wary of attacking Trump. He wants to focus on policy issues and Florida’s recovery from Hurricane Ian.

By doing so, they said, DeSantis will highlight how his governing style differs from Trump’s more combative and less policy-focused approach.

It also prevents him from getting sucked into an endless tit-for-tat war of insults with the insult-happy ex-President.

The Donald Trump-Ron DeSantis relationship wasn’t always so hostile.

Trump’s endorsement played a huge role in DeSantis’ winning the 2018 GOP primary against former Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who was an early favorite.

And DeSantis quickly showed his gratitude with a campaign video that was a naked Valentine to Trump’s ego—and the base that worshiped him.

Released on July 30, 2018, the ad was narrated by DeSantis’ wife, Casey.

CASEY DESANTIS: Everyone knows my husband, Ron DeSantis, is endorsed by President Trump. But he’s also an amazing dad. Ron loves playing with the kids.

DESANTIS: “Build the wall” [as his son uses colored plastic bricks to build a wall. This was a line right out of Trump’s repeated demands for a wall separating the United States from Mexico.]

Ron DeSantis Has Released the Most Bizarre Campaign Ad of 2018 – Rolling Stone

CASEY: He reads stories.

DESANTIS:Then Mr. Trump said ‘You’re fired.’ I love that part'” [as he reads a book to his son]. 

CASEY: He’s teaching Madison to talk.

DESANTIS: “Make America great again” [as he holds up a “Trump” sign that says exactly that].

CASEY: People say Ron’s all Trump, but he’s so much more.

DESANTIS: Bigly. So good” [as he’s looking at his son in a crib].

CASEY: I just thought you should know.

SECRETS OF THE 2020 MIDTERMS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 8, 2022 at 12:16 am

During the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans ran—as usual—on the basis of hate and fear.  And Democrats—as usual—ran as on the basis of cowardice and naivety. 

On June 24, when six Right-wing Justices on the Supreme Court finally banned legalized abortion, Democrats believed they had a sure issue-winner come November.

But in the months since then, momentum has steadily swung to the Republicans. They have blamed President Joe Biden—and Democrats generally—for the following:

  • Inflation;
  • Crime;
  • Illegal immigration.

While all of these have proven popular with voters, they reveal a tide of ignorance and unrealism among the electorate. Consider:

Inflation: This is a worldwide problem, not simply an American one. Some of this can be blamed on the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. But another reason is simply old-fashioned corporate greed—and the refusal of the Federal Government to attack it.

According to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA): From May to August, corporate profit margins were the widest since the 1950s. During the second quarter of 2022 companies continued jacking up prices. This pushed inflation to a 40-year high at the expense of workers and consumers. 

“We can argue until the cows come home about the cause of inflation,” writes Chris Becker, senior economist at the Groundwork Collaborative. “But we can’t lose sight of the basic moral point that it is outrageous that corporations are seeing skyrocketing profits while purchasing power for so many American households is declining.”

The Justice Department could deal with this through RICO—the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act. Corporations guilty of extortion—such as those that have priced insulin out of the reach of most Americans—could be prosecuted for extortion.

That would not only bring prices down but serve as a warning for future greed-fueled corporations.  

But it takes more than laws to protect the citizens of a nation; it takes prosecutorial courage to enforce those laws. And in Attorney General Merrick Garland, that courage is pathetically lacking.

Republicans claim to have a “plan” for turning around this situation. Yet they have repeatedly voted against:

  • Cheaper gas
  • Cheaper insulin
  • Cheaper prescription drugs
  • Stimulus checks
  • Child tax credits

In November, 2017, Donald Trump and a Republican-dominated House and Senate rammed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 through Congress.

According to Chye-Ching Huang, Director of Federal Fiscal Policy, the law:  

  • Encouraged rampant tax avoidance and gaming that undermines the integrity of the tax code.
  • Left behind low- and moderate-income Americans.
  • Cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.
  • Allowed multinational corporations’ foreign profits to go largely untaxed.
  • Benefitted overwhelmingly wealthy shareholders and highly paid executives.

Yet poor and middle-class Americans remain ignorant of this and believe Republicans truly care about them.

One symptom of inflation that especially infuriates Americans: High prices for gas.

In October, Saudi Arabia and Russia steered a group of oil-producing countries in voting to slash oil production by two million barrels per day. OPEC wants to prop up oil prices as global demand slows down. 

A photograph of Mohammed bin Salman aged 34

Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud

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

The Biden administration tried to persuade OPEC countries to not cut oil output. But Saudi Arabia—the biggest member of the oil-producing cartel—refused.

Some commentators believe that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was primarily responsible for this. Biden had once pledged to treat Salman as a “pariah” after the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Yet there is nothing Biden can do—short of invading Saudi Arabia and taking control of its oil fields.

(President Donald Trump said the United States should have done this after it invaded Iraq.)

Crime: According to the Pew Research Center: Around six-in-10 registered voters (61%) say violent crime is very important when making their decision about who to vote for in this year’s congressional elections.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics, however, reports no recent increase in the U.S. violent crime rate. The FBI also estimates that there was no increase in the violent crime rate in 2021.

There has been a record number of mass shootings in the United States—622 by October. But while Republicans rail against violent crime, they consistently block all efforts to curb the sale of semi-automatic weaponry to anyone who wants it.

AR-15 Rifle

Moreover, while Federal law enforcement agencies—especially the FBI—receive major news coverage, most crime occurs at the local level. The Federal Government has no role to play in it—unless the violation occurs on Federal property or involves a Federal official. 

Illegal Immigration: For Republicans, illegal aliens come exclusively from Central and Latin American countries.

Yet David DePape, who assaulted Paul Pelosi, the husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is a Canadian who overstayed his visa. 

According to the latest report from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), overstayers numbered more than 500,000 in 2020. They represent up to 40% of the total illegal alien population. 

Moreover, dealing with illegal alien invasions is a problem that confronts every President, Republican and Democrat.

President Barack Obama was often attacked by immigration groups as the “Deporter in Chief.” Between 2009 and 2015, his administration removed more than 2.5 million people through immigration orders.

According to government data, the Obama administration deported more people than any other  administration in history.

Yet, for Republicans, “the crisis at the border” will always remain a rallying cry—as long as it’s aimed at Hispanics.

VOTERS’ CHOICE: FREEDOM–OR FASCISM

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 7, 2022 at 12:21 am

On November 14, 2019, the CNN website showcased an opinion piece by Jane Carr and Laura Juncadella entitled: “Fractured States of America.” 

And it opened:

“Some worry that it’s already too late, that we’ve crossed a threshold of polarization from which there is no return. Others look toward a future where more moderate voices are heeded and heard, and Americans can find better ways to relate to each other. Still others look back to history for a guide—perhaps for what not to do, or at the very least for proof that while it’s been bad before, progress is still possible.”

A series of sub-headlines summed up many of the comments reported. 

  • “I was starting to hate people that I have loved for years.”
  • “Voting for Trump cost me my friends.”
  • “I feel like I’m living in hostile territory.”
  • “Our children are watching this bloodsport.”
  • “A student’s Nazi-style salute reflects the mate.”
  • “Our leaders reflect the worst of us.”
  • “I truly believe I will be assaulted over a bumper sticker.”
  • “It already feels like a cold war.” 

It’s natural to regret that the United States has become so self-destructively polarized. And to wish that its citizens could somehow reach across the chasm that divides them and find common cause with one another.

But that is to ignore the brutal truth that America now faces a choice:

  1. To submit to the tyrannical aggression of a ruthless political party convinced that they are entitled to power to manipulate and undermine the country’s democratic processes; or
  2. To fiercely resist that aggression and the destruction of those democratic processes. 

In a November 14, 2019 column, “Republicans Can’t Abandon Trump Now Because They’re All Guilty,” freelance journalist Joel Mathis warned: “Trump’s abuses of power mirror those of the GOP as a whole. Republicans can’t turn on him, because doing so would be to indict their party’s entire approach to politics.”

For example:

  • At the state level, GOP legislatures have passed numerous voter ID laws over the last decade. Officially, the reason has been to prevent non-citizens from voting. In reality, the motive is to depress turnout among Democratic constituencies.
  • When Democrats have won elections, Republicans have tried to block them from carrying out their policies. In Utah, voters approved Medicaid expansion at the ballot box—but Republicans nullified this.
  • In North Carolina, Republican legislators prevented voters from choosing their representatives. Instead, Republican representatives chose voters through partisan sorting. In September, 2020, the state’s Supreme Court ruled the legislative gerrymandered district map unconstitutional.

The upshot of all this: “The president and his party are united in the belief that their entitlement to power allows them to manipulate and undermine the country’s democratic processes….”

Republican Disc.svg

GOP logo.svg

And even though Donald Trump is no longer President, he remains de facto head of the Republican party.

His “Big Lie”—that he, not Joe Biden, won the 2020 Presidential election, remains, for most Republicans—Gospel for the great majority of his party.

It was partly this falsehood that motivated David DePape, a QAnon addict and Stormtrumper, to assault Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, with a hammer in his San Francisco house. 

Two Republicans who found the attack worthy of mockery were Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin.

In Arizona, people who believe the “Stop the Steal” lies are filming and harassing voters, looking for supposed “mules” stuffing ballot boxes. Many of them wear military garb and are heavily-armed.

Even more dangerous: Election-denying candidates are running for secretary of state, county clerk and other positions of election administrative leadership in multiple states. If they win, they can use false fraud allegations to overturn future election results.

Which is exactly what they intend to do.

* * * * *

The United States has indeed become a polarized country. But it’s not the polarization between Republicans and Democrats, or between conservatives and liberals.

It’s the polarization between

  • Those intent on enslaving everyone who doesn’t subscribe to their Fascistic beliefs and agenda—and those who resist being enslaved. 
  • Those who believe in reason and science—and those who believe in an infallible “strong man” who rejects both.
  • Those who cherish education—and those who celebrate ignorance.
  • Those who believe in the rule of law—and those who believe in their right to act as a law unto themselves.
  • Those who believe in treating others (especially the less fortunate) with decency—and those who believe in the triumph of intimidation and force.

Those who hoped that Republicans would choose patriotism over partisanship got their answer on February 5, 2020.

That was when the Republican-dominated Senate—ignoring the overwhelming evidence against him—acquitted President Donald Trump on both impeachment articles: Obstruction of Congress and Abuse of Power.

It’s natural to regret that the United States has become a sharply divided nation. But those who lament this should realize there is only one choice:

Either non-Fascist Americans will destroy the Republican party and its voters that threaten to enslave them—or they will be enslaved by Republicans and their voters who believe they are entitled to manipulate and undermine the country’s democratic processes.

There is no middle ground. 

THE FALSE REALITY OF REAL ID

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 3, 2022 at 12:10 am

In 2005—four years after 9/11—Congress passed the Real ID Act as a counter-terrorism measure. Its goal was to set security standards for government-issued IDs.

The Act started to be introduced in late 2013. But then its enforcers decided that some states hadn’t complied with all of its requirements.

As a result, driver’s licenses from those states will no longer suffice to pass through airport security. And that includes domestic flights as well as international ones.

The reason: Licenses issued by those states don’t contain enough identifying information to pass muster with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). 

The new IDs will contain one of five small stickers in the upper right corner to comply.  

But the final date for compliance with Real ID has been repeatedly postponed—especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. It current deadline is May 3, 2023.

After that, only those who have a REAL ID will be allowed to board domestic flights at TSA security checkpoints and enter certain federal buildings and properties.

So how are residents of these states supposed to cope? The Federal Government is advising them to get a passport.

But, as one New York traveler outlined: “To get a passport I’ll first need to get a certified copy of my birth certificate.

“And to get a copy of my birth certificate I need only to submit a copy of my driver’s license. A copy, no face-to-face, is-that-really you?

“So a New York driver’s license isn’t good enough for flying but it is good enough to get a birth certificate, which gets me a passport, which allows me to fly.” 

In California, the following documents are among those accepted as proof of identity:

  • Valid U.S. passport
  • Social Security card
  • Original or certified copy of U.S. birth certificate
  • Valid Permanent Resident card
  • Utility bills (at least two from different companies) 

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Sample state ID card that’s acceptable under the Real ID Act

So much of what passes for security is actually security theater. It doesn’t actually make us safer, but it makes us feel safer. 

And it makes us feel the government is keeping us safe, even when it isn’t.

Consider this: A friend of mine—whom I’ll call Jack—recently applied for a Real ID card as issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. He brought a certified copy of his birth certificate, bills from AT&T and Pacific Gas and Electric.

The birth certificate easily passed muster. But for a moment there was a problem with the bills from the utility companies: Jack had been getting his mail through a P.O. box, rather than at the apartment building where he lived.

And the “examiner” wanted to see a document with his home address on it.

Fortunately, Jack was able to fish out another bill with that on it. The “examiner” was satisfied, and Jack left the DMV assured that he would soon receive his TSA-approved Real ID card. 

So: How does showing a utility bill document prove your integrity? 

No doubt Mohammed Atta—the ringleader of the September 11, 2001 attacks—faithfully paid his utility bills, right up to the day when he highjacked American Airlines Flight 11 and crashed the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. 

And, yes, a birth certificate proves you were born in the United States—but so was Timothy McVeigh, who, in 1995, blew up Oklahoma City bombing, killing 168 people.

Nor does a “school document”—which can get you a Real ID card—reveal anything about the character of the person.

Theodore Bundy attended the University of Puget Sound and the University of Washington—before embarking on his career as a burglar, kidnapper, rapist and serial killer.

Another form of security theater includes checking photo IDs to enter State and Federal office buildings. 

Knowing a person’s identity is useful—if you have a reliable database system to match it against, such as the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC). 

National Crime Information Center | Earth: Final Conflict Wiki | Fandom

But if you lack this, forcing people to “show me your ID” is pointless. And that’s assuming the ID isn’t fraudulent.

But people watching the guard performing this security theater ritual assume: “The guard must know what he’s looking for. So we have to be safer for his checking those IDs.”

In fact, most security guards have little training and even less experience. Many of them don’t carry firearms and lack self-defense skills.

According to Salary.com: The median annual salary for an unarmed security guard is $34,696, with a range usually between $31,004 and $39,096. 

Not exactly a salary geared to attract “the best and the brightest,” is it?

Making all of this even more infuriating: In August, 2021, at least 76,000 unvetted Afghans were admitted into the United States.

The reason: They were too cowardly to fight the Taliban.

Americans had spent 20 years training them to do just that. And as soon as the Taliban launched a major offensive, they fled to Kabul Airport—leaving their wives, girlfriends, mothers and sisters behind to face slavery and brutality.

So while cowardly Afghans—many of whom no doubt had terrorist backgrounds—didn’t have to prove themselves trustworthy, lifelong and law-abiding Americans must.

WHEN CRIMINALS SCREAM “LIBEL!”

In Business, History, Law, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on November 2, 2022 at 12:14 am

On October 3, former President Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against CNN for defamation.

Seeking $475 million in punitive damages, he charged the network with conducting a “campaign of libel and slander” against him. 

Trump is claiming that CNN had used its influence to defeat him politically.

“As a part of its concerted effort to tilt the political balance to the left, CNN has tried to taint the Plaintiff with a series of ever-more scandalous, false, and defamatory labels of ‘racist,’ ‘Russian lackey,’ ‘insurrectionist,’ and ultimately ‘Hitler,'” the lawsuit claims. 

The lawsuit focuses largely on CNN’s use of the term, “The Big Lie,” to describe Trump’s false claims that widespread voter fraud cost him the 2020 Presidential election.  

The phrase dates from Adolf Hitler’s use of it in his autobiography, Mein Kampf: People “more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods.”

Trump’s lawsuit claims “The Big Lie” has been used in referring to him more than 7,700 times on CNN since January, 2021.

In addition, the lawsuit cites instances where CNN compared Trump to Hitler. In a January, 2022 report, Fareed Zakaria provided footage of Germany’s dictator.

CNN.svg

So what are his odds of winning?  Far less than your own of finding loose change in sofa cushions.

First: Donald Trump is a public figure—arguably the most public figure in the world. Plaintiffs who are public figures or government officials must prove themselves victims of actual malice to collect damages. 

In the landmark case, New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) the Supreme Court declared that actual malice occurs when a statement is made “with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not.”

This is a more stringent standard than private citizens have to meet, which is negligence. 

Second: Truth is an absolute defense against libel (unless the plaintiff is suing for invasion of privacy).  And Trump’s history as a liar, criminal and traitor has been thoroughly established.

Liar: 

  • He created the lie that Barack Obama—whose birth certificate states unequivocally that he was born in Hawaii—was not an American citizen. The reason: To de-legitimize Obama as a Presidential candidate and President.
  • Throughout 2020, he repeatedly lied about the dangers of COVID-19—attacking medical experts who urged citizens to mask up and social distance. As a result, by the time he left office, 400,000 Americans had died of COVID. 

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Donald Trump

Criminal:

  • He has been forced to shut down his Trump Foundation and forced to pay more than $2 million in court-ordered damages to eight different charities for illegally misusing charitable funds at the Foundation for political purposes.
  • He was also forced to close his unaccredited Trump University for scamming its students. He had promised to teach them “the secrets of success” in the real estate industry—then delivered nothing. In 2016, a federal court approved a $25 million settlement with many of those students.

Traitor:

  • On July 9, 2016, high-ranking members of his Presidential campaign met at Trump Tower with at least two lobbyists who had ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. The reason: To obtain “dirt” on Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
  • On July 27, 2016, Trump said at a press conference in Doral, Florida: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you are able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing [from Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s computer]. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

These incidents were nothing less than treason—inviting a foreign power, hostile to the United States, to interfere in its Presidential election.

Third—and perhaps the most important of all: In a libel suit, the plaintiff must answer—under oath—all questions put to him by the defendant’s attorneys.

Trump, better than anyone, knows the depths of his own criminality. Just as Al Capone knew his notoriety for evil would make it impossible for him to win a libel suit, so does Trump. 

On August 10, he invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination nearly 450 times during a deposition at the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, in its probe into the Trump Organization’s business practices.

He would not be allowed to do so as a litigant in a libel suit.

Wooden Judge Gavel Isolated On White Background

Moreover, he has a history of threatening to file lawsuits—and then failing to do so.

During the 2016 Presidential campaign, at least 12 women publicly accused him of sexually inappropriate behavior—if not assault. 

Trump’s reaction: “All of these liars will be sued after the election is over.”

Six years later, he has not filed a single lawsuit for defamation. 

So why has he filed a defamation suit against CNN? 

Money—not by winning an impossible lawsuit, but by raising it from his gullible and Fascistic followers.

He will claim—once again—that he’s being persecuted and that “they’re not coming after me, they’re coming after you.”

And his millions of media-hating followers will gladly pony up money they will never see again.

If he loses the lawsuit—or pulls out of it—he will claim he’s the victim of “the deep-state establishment.”

And ask his followers for even more money—which they’ll cough up.

GIVING ADVICE SAFELY—THE MACHIAVELLI WAY

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 28, 2022 at 12:11 am

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

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

Niccolo Machiavelli

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

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

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

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

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

The Discourses (Pelican Classics, Ac14): Niccolo Machiavelli, Bernard R. Crick: 9780140400144: Amazon.com: Books

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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John F. Kennedy

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

“The first is, you avoid all danger.

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

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

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

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

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

Niccolo Machiavelli sums up the lesson as this:

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

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

A LESSON FOR DEMOCRATS: WORDS ARE WEAPONS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Humor, Politics, Social commentary on October 27, 2022 at 12:10 am

Words are weapons—or can be, if used properly.

Republicans learned this truth after World War II.

  • Richard Nixon became a United States Senator in 1950 by attacking Helen Gahagen Douglas as “The Pink Lady.”
  • from 1954 onward, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy and other Red-baiting Republicans essentially paralyzed the Democratic party through such slanderous terms as “Comsymps,” “fellow-travelers” and “Fifth Amendment Communists.”

Pulitzer-Prize winning author David Halberstam summed up the effectiveness of such tactics in his monumental study of the origins of the Vietnam War, The Best and the Brightest:

“But if they did not actually stick, and they did not, [Joseph McCarthy’s] charges had an equally damaging effect: They poisoned. Where there was smoke, there must be fire. He wouldn’t be saying these things [voters reasoned] unless there was something to it.”

Joseph McCarthy

As a whole, Democrats have proven indifferent to or ignorant of the power of effective language.

President Donald Trump solicited Russian Communist aid to win the Presidency in 2016. He solicited aid from Chinese Communists to retain it in 2020. 

He attacked countless Americans and world leaders—including those presiding over America’s NATO alliance. But he has never even criticized Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.  

Yet even with such clear-cut evidence, Democrats refused to directly accuse him of treason, as in:

  • “TrumPutin”
  • “Commissar-in-Chief”
  • “Putin’s Poodle”
  • “Red Donald”
  • “Putin’s Puppet”

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The Kremlin

Similarly, Trump has gotten a free pass on treason from the news media. None have dared suggest the obvious: That he moved boxes of classified documents to his Mar-a-Lago estate to sell them to America’s enemies in exchange for huge sums to pay his upcoming legal bills. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump repeatedly lied about its lethality and opposed the use of masks and social distancing to combat it. As a result, 400,000 Americans had died by the time he left office.

Yet no Democrat has dared label him “Coronavirus-in-Chief.” 

Nor has the news media directly held him accountable for those deaths.

Tyrants are conspicuously vulnerable to ridicule. Yet here, too, Democrats have proven unable or unwilling to make use of this powerful weapon.  

In this YouTube-obsessed age, Democrats could effectively assail Trump with a series of ridiculing videos. For example, Trump’s well-established “bromance” with Putin could be turned into a parody of the famous song, “Johnny B. Good”:

Way back inside the Kremlin where the lights glow red
There ruled a man named Putin who would poison you dead.
He came up with a plan to make his Russia great
And all it took was bribes and Republican hate.
And Trumpy was a man who couldn’t read or spell
But he could sell out his land just like he’s ringing a bell.

Image result for Images of memes of Trump as Putin's puppet

Many of Trump’s fiercest defenders in the House and Senate have taken “campaign contributions” (i.e., bribes) from Russian oligarchs linked to Putin. They could be pointedly attacked by turning the Muppet song, “The Rainbow Connection,” into “The Russian Connection.”   

Why are there so many tales about Russians
And Right-wingers taking bribes?
Russians are Commies and have lots of rubles
For traitors with something to hide. 

So I’ve been told and some choose to believe it
It’s clear as the old KGB.
Someday we’ll find it
The Russian Connection—
The bribers, the traitors—you’ll see. 

A continuing theme among Republican politicians is that they are paragons of religious virtue, while Democrats are champions of Satan.

Yet Democrats have done nothing to publicize such truths as:   

  • Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is a serial adulterer. 
  • Former Speaker Dennis Hastert is a convicted sodomizer of teenage boys.
  • Josh Duggar, a Right-wing star of the high-rated “reality” series, 19 Kids and Counting, has been sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for possessing child pornography. 
  • Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, has boasted: “Marriage is a wonderful thing and I’m a firm believer in it.” Yet she engaged in open affairs with at least two members of her local gym—for which Perry Greene is now divorcing her.

Most Americans don’t follow political news closely—and know nothing of such revelations. 

Moreover, Democrats need to repeatedly advertise such facts—to counter Republicans’ constant claims of being the moral arbiters of America. And this needs to be done through major advertising campaigns on TV—where most Americans get their news about politics.  

Throughout 2016, liberals celebrated on Facebook and Twitter the “certain” Presidency of former First Lady Hillary Clinton. They were cheered on by First Lady Michelle Obama’s naive advice on political tactics: “When they go, we go high.”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump planned to subvert the 2016 election by Russian Intelligence agents and millions of Russian trolls flooding the Internet with legitimately fake news.

History has proven which tactics proved superior.

It’s long past time for Democrats to accept that they—and the country’s democratic traditions—are engaged in a death-match with their Republican opponents.

Only certain defeat is guaranteed by adhering to Marquis of Queensbury when your enemy is using brass knuckles.

For Democrats to win elective victories and preserve America’s democratic traditions, they must find their own George Pattons to confront the Waffen-SS generals among Republican ranks. 

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