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TRUMP AND TREASON

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 28, 2022 at 12:14 am

Less than three years before committing his ultimate act of treason, President Donald Trump determined that Democrats were guilty of it.

Their crime? Refusing to stand and applaud him during his State of the Union message in January, 2018.

On February 5, he told a crowd in Cincinnati: “They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean, Yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.”

For Trump, to love the United States, you must first prove that you love him.

Article Three of the United States Constitution defines treason as:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

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United States Constitution

In short: Actions such as colluding with a foreign power hostile to the United States (such as Russia) to subvert America’s democratic election process. 

By that standard, Donald Trump stands rightly accused of a crime that traditionally carries the penalty of death.

Example #1: The infamous June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower starring Donald Trump’s son, Donald, Jr.; Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Trump’s then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort—and two Russian lobbyists who wanted the United States to end its sanctions against Russia for human rights abuses.

The meeting’s purpose: To obtain from Russian Intelligence agents “dirt” on Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. 

Example #2: On July 27, 2016, Trump said  at a press conference in Doral, Florida: “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find [Hillary Clinton’s] 33,000 emails that are missing—I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”  

Hours later, the Main Intelligence Directorate in Moscow targeted Hillary Clinton’s personal office and hit more than 70 other Clinton campaign accounts,

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Donald Trump

Example #3: On December 16, 2016, then-FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. agreed with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House.  

Trump, however has steadfastly denied any such role by Russia. 

On July 16, 2018, he attended a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There he blamed American Intelligence agencies—such as the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency—instead of Putin for Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential election: “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Example #4: On May 9, 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for investigating Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential race. His motive: To end that investigation before it reached him.

The next day, meeting with Russian Foreign Minister  Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office, Trump said: “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” 

On May 11, during an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump admitted: “And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”

Example #5: During that same meeting, Trump gave the Russian officials highly classified Israeli Intelligence about an Islamic State plot to turn laptops into concealable bombs.

At first, the White House denied Trump had done so. Then Trump admitted in a tweet: “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining … to terrorism and airline flight safety.

Example #6: Trump surrounded himself with men who had close ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Among these:

  • Paul Manafort – His former campaign manager. His longstanding ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine lead directly to Putin.
  • Roger Stone – Self-confessed dirty trickster and former business partner of Manafort. Stone had extensive contacts with hacker Guccifer 2.0, whom the CIA, NSA and FBI believe was actually a front for GRU, Russian military intelligence.
  • Michael T. Flynn – Former United States Army lieutenant general and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. A leading Trump supporter during the 2016 Presidential campaign, he was rewarded with the post of National Security Adviser when Trump took office.

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Michael T. Flynn

  • On February 13, 2017, The Washington Post reported that Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned Trump in late January that Flynn had lied about his contacts with Kislyak—and that he could be blackmailed by Russian Intelligence. Flynn was forced to resign that same day.  
  • In December, 2015, he had appeared on Russia Today, the news network that serves as “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” For this he received more than $45,000 as a “speaking fee.”
  • At the gala where Flynn received the fee, he sat next to Putin for dinner.

The Republican party—which for 50 years claimed to be America’s defender against Communism—has now fervently embraced a man with demonstrated ties to a Communist dictator.

DEMOCRACY’S SAVIOR: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 18, 2022 at 12:13 am

As a result of the vast increase in election security, President Donald Trump failed to get the help he expected from Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

The result: He lost the 2020 Presidential election.

Thus, Joe Biden won the popular vote by 81,268,924 to 74,216,154 for Trump—and the Electoral College by 306 to 232. 

Two days later, Trump claimed: “And this is a case where they’re trying to steal an election, they’re trying to rig an election.”  

Chris Krebs was the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). And the man most responsible for ensuring election security. 

WATCH: Ousted DHS official Christopher Krebs testifies about 2020 election security - YouTube

Chris Krebs

On November 12, to counter the growing chorus of lies from Trump and his Right-wing allies, he put out the following statement:

“The November 3rd election was the most secure in American history. There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.” 

On November 17, Trump fired Chris Krebs.

Too cowardly to confront Krebs, Trump fired him by tweet—and accompanied the outrage with yet another lie:

“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud, including dead people voting, poll watchers not allowed into polling locations, glitches in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more.

“Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”

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Donald Trump

Asked by “60 Minutes'” Scott Pelley if he was surprised to be fired, Krebs replied: “I don’t know if I was necessarily surprised. It’s not how I wanted to go out. The thing that upsets me the most about that is I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to my team.

“And I’d worked with them for three and a half years, in the trenches. Building an agency, putting CISA on the national stage. And I love that team. And I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye, so that’s what I’m most upset about.” 

Krebs was no dyed-in-the-wool Democrat but a life-long Republican. He gave up a lucrative job as Microsoft’s head of cybersecurity policy to join the Trump administration. He wanted to serve his country by creating a dedicated cybersecurity agency for the first time.

Still, he had his reservations about taking the job. As he told the Financial Times: “The flaws of this man [Trump] were obvious to everybody that was willing to pay attention. [But] to do your job, you have to be able to compartmentalize. I was willing to do that.

“Over time, it eats away at you. It eats away at you, the other parts of the department that were doing stuff that just seemed so inhumane. I was never involved in any of those policy conversations.”

By January 6, 2021, Trump had exhausted his legal efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. 

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

Of these attempts to challenge the results of the 2020 election, Krebs told Pelley:

“It was upsetting because what I saw was an apparent attempt to undermine confidence in the election, to confuse people, to scare people. It’s not me, it’s not just CISA. It’s the tens of thousands of election workers out there that had been working nonstop, 18-hour days, for months.

“They’re getting death threats for trying to carry out one of our core democratic institutions, an election. And that was, again, to me, a press conference that I just– it didn’t make sense. What it was actively doing was undermining democracy. And that’s dangerous.”

On January 6, the United States Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding, met to certify states’ Electoral College results of the 2020 election. 

That morning, Trump urged Pence to flip the results of the election to give him a win.

Pence replied that he lacked the power to overturn those results.

At noon, Trump appeared at the Ellipse, a 52-acre park south of the White House fence. A stage had been set up for him to address tens of thousands of his supporters, who eagerly awaited him.

Trump ordered them to march on the Capitol building to express their anger at his loss—and thus intimidate Congressional officials to reject the results.

The Stormtrumpers marched to the United States Capitol—and quickly brushed aside Capitol Police, who made little effort to arrest or shoot them.

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The “Jolly Roger” meets Donald Trump

Three hours passed before the mob was dispersed and order was restored.

Yet for all the terrible drama of that day, the true hero of the moment went unrecognized.

By depriving Trump of Russian help, Chris Krebs had ensured a victory for democracy.

On the evening of January 6, the House and Senate met again to count the Electoral Votes.

And as expected, the two bodies pronounced Joseph Biden the winner—bringing an end to Donald Trump’s reign of criminality and treason.

DEMOCRACY’S SAVIOR: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on November 17, 2022 at 12:10 am

TIME’s Person of the Year for 2020 proved to be two people: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. 

On the surface, choosing Biden and Harris made sense: “Joe Biden was elected President of the United States in the midst of an existential debate over what reality we inhabit. Perhaps the only thing Americans agree on right now is that the future of the country is at stake, even as they fiercely disagree about why.”

As for the shared legacy of Biden and Harris: “If Donald Trump was a force for disruption and division over the past four years, Biden and Harris show where the nation is heading: a blend of ethnicities, lived experiences and worldviews that must find a way forward together if the American experiment is to survive.”

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Yet a lesser-known but far more consequential choice for “Person of the Year” would have been Chris Krebs.

Because, without Chris Krebs, there would not now be a Biden Presidency.

During the 2016 Presidential race, Russian propaganda played a major role in convincing millions of Americans to vote for Donald Trump. Social media platforms—especially Facebook and Twitter—were flooded with genuinely fake news to sow discord among Americans and create a pathway for Trump’s election.

And where Internet trolls left off, Russian computer hackers took over.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote—65,853,514 to 62,984,828 for Trump. But in the United States, what counts in Presidential elections is the Electoral College vote.

And there Trump won: 304 to 227. 

What put him over the top in the Electoral College was the help he got from Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Putin had good reason to assist Trump: Putin wanted the United States to ditch the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) alliance, which has preserved Western Europe from Russian aggression since World War II. And Trump had often attacked America’s funding of NATO as a drain on the American economy.

As for Trump, he wanted something from Putin: He wanted to be President. For this, Putin could supply monies, Internet trolls to confuse voters with falsified news, and even the hacking of key voting centers.

So notorious was the role played by Russian trolls and hackers in winning Trump the 2016 election that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was determined to prevent a repetition in 2020.

And the point man for this was Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) run by DHS.

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1977, Krebs had received a B.A. in environmental sciences from the University of Virginia in 1999, and a J.D. from the George Mason University School of Law in 2007.

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Chris Krebs

Krebs had served as Senior Advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Infrastructure Protection, and later worked in the private sector as Director for Cybersecurity Policy for Microsoft.

In preparation for the 2020 Presidential election, Krebs launched a massive effort to counter lies spread by Russians—and Americans—on social media platforms. As he explained to Scott Pelley during a “60 Minutes” interview aired on November 29, 2020: 

“So we spent something on the order of three and a half years of gaming out every possible scenario for how a foreign actor could interfere with an election. Countless, countless scenarios.” 

Krebs’ to-do list included paper ballots:

“Paper ballots give you the ability to audit, to go back and check the tape and make sure that you got the count right. And that’s really one of the keys to success for a secure 2020 election. Ninety-five percent of the ballots cast in the 2020 election had a paper record associated with it. Compared to 2016, about 82%.

“That gives you the ability to prove that there was no malicious algorithm or hacked software that adjusted the tally of the vote, and just look at what happened in Georgia. Georgia has machines that tabulate the vote. They then held a hand recount and the outcome was consistent with the machine vote.”   

Krebs’ duties included:

  • Sharing intelligence from agencies such as the CIA and National Security Agency with local officials about foreign efforts at election interference.
  • Ensuring that domestic voting equipment was secure.
  • Attacking domestic misinformation head-on.

At his command lay the resources of a series of powerful Federal investigative agencies:

“We had the Department of Defense Cyber Command. We had the National Security Agency. We had the FBI. We had the Secret Service. We also had representatives from the Election Assistance Commission, which is the federal independent agency that supports the actual administration of elections.

“We had representatives from some of the election equipment vendors. And they’re critical because they’re the ones out there that know what’s going on on the ground if there’s any sort of issue with some of their systems. And we had representatives from state and local governments.”

Misinformation led CISA to create a new “Rumor Control” website ahead of the 2020 election. Its main goal was to debunk rumors surrounding the 2020 election that had been spreading throughout the country.

As a result, Krebs was widely praised for revamping the department’s cybersecurity efforts and increasing coordination with state and local governments. 

By all accounts—except Donald Trump’s—the November 3, 2020 election went very smoothly.

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.”

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

HOW DICTATORSHIP CAME TO GERMANY–AND AMERICA

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on November 11, 2022 at 12:16 am

In his bestselling 1973 biography, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, British historian Robert Payne harshly condemned the German people for the rise of the Nazi dictator.

“[They] allowed themselves to be seduced by him and came to enjoy the experience….[They] followed him with joy and enthusiasm because he gave them license to pillage and murder to their hearts’ content. They were his servile accomplices, his willing victims….

“If he answered their suppressed desires, it was not because he shared them, but because he could make use of them. He despised the German people, for they were merely the instruments of his will.”

What Payne wrote about pro-Hitler Germans holds equally true for the supporters of Donald Trump. 

On November 8, 2016, millions of ignorant, hate-filled, Right-wing Americans elected a man reflecting their own hate and ignorance to the Presidency.

Yet Americans had fewer excuses for turning to a Fascistic style of government than the Germans did.

Adolf Hitler joined the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party in 1919—the year after World War 1 ended.

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Adolf Hitler

In 1923, he staged a coup attempt in Bavaria—which was quickly and brutally put down by police. He was arrested and sentenced to less than a year in prison.

After that, Hitler decided that winning power through violence was no longer an option. He must win it through election—or appointment.

When the 1929 Depression struck Germany, the fortunes of Hitler’s Nazi party rose as the life savings of ordinary Germans fell. Streets echoed with bloody clashes between members of Hitler’s Nazi Stormtroopers and those of the German Communist Party.

Germans desperately looked for a leader—a Fuhrer—who could somehow deliver them from the threat of financial ruin and Communist takeover.

In early 1933, members of his own cabinet persuaded aging German president, Paul von Hindenburg, that only Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor could do this.

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Paul von Hindenburg

Hindenburg was reluctant to do so. He considered Hitler a dangerous radical. But he let himself be convinced that he could “box in” and control Hitler by putting him in the Cabinet.

So, on January 30, 1933, Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor (the equivalent of Attorney General) of Germany.

On August 2, 1934, Hindenburg died. Hitler immediately assumed the titles—and duties—of the offices of Chancellor and President. His rise to total power was complete.

It had taken him 14 years to do so.

In 2015, when Donald Trump declared his candidacy for President:

  • The country was technically at war in the Middle East—but the fate of the United States was not truly threatened, as it had been during the Civil War.
  • There was no draft; if you didn’t know someone in the military, you didn’t care about the casualties taking place.
  • Thanks to government loans from President Barack Obama, American capitalism had been saved from its own excesses during the George W. Bush administration.
  • Employment was up. CEOs were doing extremely well.
  • In contrast to the corruption that had plagued the administration of Ronald Reagan, whom Republicans idolize, there had been no such scandals during the Obama Presidency.
  • Nor had there been any large-scale terrorist attacks on American soil—as there had on 9/11 under President George W. Bush.

Yet—not 17 months after announcing his candidacy for President—enough Americans fervently embraced Donald Trump to give him the most powerful position in the country and the world.

Image result for images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

The message of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign had been one of hope: “Yes, We Can!”

The message of Donald Trump’s campaign reflected hatred toward everyone who was not an avid Trump supporter: “No, You Can’t!”

Older whites comprised the majority of those at Trump rallies. Not all were racists, but many of those who were advertised it on T-shirts: “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN.”

Birthrates among non-whites were rising. By 2045, whites would make up less than 50 percent of the American population.

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

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

Since Trump became President, he:

  • Allowed a deadly virus to ravage the country, infecting (to date) 9.2 million Americans and killing 230,000.
  • Attacked medical experts and governors who urged Americans to wear masks and socially distance to protect themselves from COVID-19.
  • Urged his followers to illegally vote twice for him in the 2020 Presidential election.
  • Fired an FBI director for investigating Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential election.
  • Repeatedly and enthusiastically defended Vladimir Putin, the dictator of Russia, America’s mortal enemy.
  • Attacked and alienated America’s oldest allies, such as Canada and Great Britain.
  • Praised Nazis and Ku Klux Klansmen.
  • Shut down the United States Government, imperiling the lives of 800,000 Federal employees, to extort money from Congress for a worthless wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • “Joked” that the United States—like China—should have a “President-for-Life.”
  • Attacked the free press as “the enemy of the people.” 
  • Used his position as President to further enrich himself, in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

On November 3, 2020, Americans decided to repudiate this despicable legacy—and reclaim their nation’s status as a democracy.

DE-REGULATION: LET CRIMINALS BE CRIMINALS

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

This December 2 will mark the 21st anniversary of the collapse of Enron Corporation.

Based in Houston, Texas, Enron had employed 22,000 staffers and was one of the world’s leading electricity, natural gas, communications and paper companies.

In 2000, it claimed revenues of nearly $101 billion. Fortune had named Enron “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six consecutive years.

But then the truth emerged in 2001: Enron’s reported profitability was based not on brilliance and innovation but on systematic and creative accounting fraud.

And, on December 2, 2001, Enron filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy  Code.

Enron’s $63.4 billion in assets made it the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.S. history—until WorldCom’s bankruptcy in 2002.

The California electricity crisis (2000-2001) was caused by market manipulations and illegal shutdowns of pipelines by Texas energy companies.

The state suffered from multiple large-scale blackouts. Pacific Gas & Electric, one of the state’s largest energy companies, collapsed, and the economic fall-out greatly harmed Governor Gray Davis’ standing.

The crisis was made possible by Governor Pete Wilson, who had forced the passage of partial de-regulation legislation in 1996. 

Enron seized its opportunity to inflate prices and manipulate energy output in California’s spot markets. The crisis cost the state $40 to $45 billion.

The true scandal of Enron was not that it was eventually destroyed by its own greed.

The true scandal was that its leaders were never Federally prosecuted for almost driving California—and the entire Western United States—into bankruptcy.

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And it happened during the “liberal” administration of President Bill Clinton.

Once the news broke that Enron had filed for bankruptcy, commentators almost universally oozed compassion for its thousands of employees who would lose their salaries and pensions.

No one, however, condemned the “profits at any cost” dedication of those same employees for pushing California to the brink of ruin.

To put this in historical perspective:

  • Imagine a historian writing about the destruction of Hitler’s Schutzstaffel (Guard Detachment), or SS, as a human interest tragedy.
  • Imagine its Reichsfuhrer, Heinrich Himmler, being blamed for failing to prevent its collapse—as CEO Kenneth Lay was blamed for Enron’s demise.
  • Imagine that same historian completely ignoring the horrific role the SS had played throughout Nazi-occupied countries—and its primary role in slaughtering six million Jews in the Holocaust.  

Nor did the media urge the United States Department of Justice to end the extortion via RICO—the Federal Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act.

Seal of the United States Department of Justice.svg

Passed by Congress in 1970, this was originally aimed at the kingpins of the Mafia. Since the mid-1980s, however, RICO has been successfully applied against both terrorist groups and legitimate businesses engaged in criminal activity.

Under RICO, people financially injured by a pattern of criminal activity can bring a claim in State or Federal court, and obtain damages at three times the amount of their actual claim, plus reimbursement for their attorneys’ fees and costs.

Such prosecutions would have pitted energy-extortionists against the full investigative might of the FBI and the sweeping legal authority of the Justice Department.

Consider this selection from the opening of the Act:

(1) “racketeering activity” means (A) any act or threat involving…extortion; (B) any act which is indictable under any of the following provisions of title 18, United States Code: sections 891-894 (relating to extortionate credit transactions), section 1343 (relating to wire fraud)Section 1344 (relating to financial institution fraud), section 1951 (relating to interference with commerce, robbery, or extortion), section 1952 (relating to racketeering)….

Today, two powerful social media companies—Facebook and Twitter—play pivotal and potentially dangerous roles in the lives of millions of men, women and children.

Facebook has invaded its users’ privacy (such as via the Cambridge Analytica data scandal), manipulated elections (such as the 2016 Presidential one) and subjected its users to mass surveillance.

Twitter has allowed trolls to abuse its followers and spread dangerous lies to millions. For five years, its chief troll was Donald Trump, who libeled hundreds while falsely claiming that COVID-19 was a hoax and that he won re-election in 2020 but was cheated by fraud.

Such lies resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans from COVID—and poisoned the American electoral system for future races.

Yet in both cases, the Federal Government has stood by and allowed such abuses to continue unpunished. Yet it commands a wide range of agencies capable of addressing such abuses—such as the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Communications Commission and—not least importantly, the Justice Department.

Powerful, life-altering companies require powerful oversight—through the prism of the warning given by Niccolo Machiavelli more than 500 years ago:

All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it.  

If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself. But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.

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.

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.

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