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DONALD TRUMP: KILLING MORE AMERICANS THAN OSAMA BIN LADEN: PART FOUR (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 17, 2020 at 12:05 am

Like Nazi Germany’s Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, President Donald Trump likes to pit individuals and organizations against each other. Hitler, for example, would assign several agencies to tackle the same problem: “That way, the stronger one gets the job done,” he told his architect, Albert Speer. 

Adolf Hitler

PITTING CITIES AND STATES AGAINST EACH OTHER

This creates needless duplication of efforts and wasted resources. But it ensures that Trump—like Hitler—remains the final voice of authority, since so many others are competing for his favor and direction. 

This has not, however, worked out well for the 50 states that make up the United States of America.

During the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt intervened powerfully to ensure that all Americans received the help they needed.

Trump has made it clear that each state is responsible for securing its needed supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for its doctors and nurses aiding Coronavirus patients. This has resulted in a dog-eat-dog atmosphere of cutthroat competition and scarcity, with Americans not only fighting the virus but each other. 

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

USING A PLAGUE TO DESTROY AMERICANS

Even worse: Trump and Republicans are using a deadly plague as a weapon against those Americans they hate.  

On March 26, during an interview on Fox News, Trump blamed the failures of his administration’s response to Coronavirus on Democratic state governors like Andrew Cuomo (NY), Jay Inslee (WA), and Gretchen Whitmer (MI).

On March 27, during his press briefing, Trump said he told Vice President Mike Pence—who’s officially in charge of the White House’s response effort—to not call Inslee and Whitmer because they weren’t “appreciative” enough of his efforts.

Trump said this even as hospitals in each of their states were being overwhelmed with Coronavirus patients:

“I tell him—I mean I’m a different type of person—I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor in Washington, you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan. If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”

At his March 27 press briefing, Trump echoed French King Louis X1V’s infamous remark—“I am the State”: “When they’re [governors] not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps, they’re not appreciative to FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency]. It’s not right.”

On that same day, Trump attacked Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Right-wing Fox News’ “Sean Hannity Show”: “I don’t know if she knows what’s going on, but all she does is sit there and blame the Federal Government.”

On March 27, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer told a local radio station: “What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts—they’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan. It’s really concerning. I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg

Gretchen Whitmer

A March 29 story in the Washington Monthly sheds light on what lay behind Whitmer’s inability to secure desperately-needed ventilators from her longtime vendors. Its headline ran: “What If Trump Decides to Save Republicans But Not Democrats?”

A sub-headline read: “He’s providing vital resources to red states and ignoring blue states.” 

Florida submitted a request to FEMA on March 11 for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, 82,000 face shields and 238,000 gloves—and received a shipment with everything three days later.

On Fox News, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, bluntly told governors: “Take the blame when you have to. When you play with your boss, sometimes it’s better when you don’t win the golf game. He’s the boss, he’s got all the resources.” 

Translation: Suck up to the capo’s ego if you want to survive.

The mentality of the Black Hand has come to the Oval Office.

Black Hand - No Racism" Art Print by AsbrinfitzTv | Redbubble

The Black Hand

TRUMP SEIZES STATES’ MEDICAL SUPPLIES

Trump isn’t simply refusing to provide states with vitally-needed medical supplies—he’s illegally seizing those supplies that states have ordered.

An April 20 Forbes story offers frightening insight into the tyrannical reach of the Trump administration.  Entitled, “Maryland Gov. Hogan Takes Extraordinary Steps to Keep Feds From Confiscating COVID Tests,” the story unfolds like a spy thriller.

Governor Larry Hogan had heard reports that the federal government had confiscated crucial medical supplies from other states—like Massachusetts. 

After obtaining 500,000 test kits from South Korea, Hogan ordered them flown into Baltimore–Washington International Airport rather than the larger Dulles International Airport in Virginia. From there they were escorted under guard to a secret location and constantly protected by the National Guard.

As they were sent out for distribution across the state, the tests remained under protection by the National Guard and state police.

The precautions were absolutely necessary. Hospitals in Florida and California reported that FEMA had seized their supplies without explanation.

Massachusetts ordered three million masks that were confiscated by the Federal Government at the Port of New York. This forced the state to ask New England Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft to use his team plane to fly in one million N95 masks from China. 

 

N95 Mask - Vented

N95 mask

DONALD TRUMP: KILLING MORE AMERICANS THAN OSAMA BIN LADEN: PART THREE (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 16, 2020 at 12:05 am

On February 7, 2020, during a recorded phone interview, President Donald J. Trump shared his thoughts—and the latest medical Intelligence—about the Coronavirus with Washington Post editor/investigative reporter Bob Woodward.

TRUMP CONFESSES TO BOB WOODWARD

Bob Woodward: And so, what was [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] saying yesterday? 

Donald Trump:  Oh, we were talking mostly about the virus, and I think he’s going to have it in good shape. But it’s a very tricky situation.

Woodward: Indeed, it is. 

Trump: It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. The touch, you don’t have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flues. People don’t realize, we lose 25,000, 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that, right?

Woodward:  I know. It’s much forgotten.

Trump: It’s pretty amazing. And then I said, “Well, is that the same thing?”

Woodward:  What are you able to do for—

Trump:  This is more deadly. This is 5% versus 1%, and less than 1%. So this is deadly stuff.

“This is deadly stuff.” 

Unfortunately for those who believed in him, Trump was not saying this in public. 

WHAT TRUMP SAID IN PUBLIC

From January to early March, 2020, Trump and his allies within the Republican party and Fox News Network repeatedly assured Americans they had nothing to fear. 

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Donald Trump

Barnstorming the country in a series of hate-filled political rallies, Trump told his supporters:

  • January 22:“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China.”
  • February 2: “We pretty much shut it down coming in from China. It’s going to be fine.”
  • February 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.”
  • February 25: “CDC & my administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus.”
  • February 25: “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away. They have studied it. They know very much. In fact, we’re very close to a vaccine.”
  • February 26: “The 15 cases within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” 
  • February 26: “We’re going very substantially down, not up.”
  • February 27: “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” 
  • February 28: “We’re ordering a lot of supplies. We’re ordering a lot of, uh, elements that frankly we wouldn’t be ordering unless it was something like this. But we’re ordering a lot of different elements of medical.”
  • February 28: “Now the Democrats are politicizing the Coronavirus….We did one of the great jobs….One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia’….They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax….It’s all turning, they lost….And this is their new hoax.”
  • March 4: “If we have thousands of people that get better just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work—some of them go to work, but they get better.” 
  • March 6: “I think we’re doing a really good job in this country of keeping it down. A tremendous job of keeping it down.”
  • March 6: “Anybody right now, and yesterday, anybody that needs a test gets a test. And the tests are beautiful.”
  • March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for President.”
  • March 8: “We have a perfectly coordinated and fine tuned plan at the White House for our attack on Coronavirus.”
  • March 9: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, The risk is low to the average American.” 
  • March 10: “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.” 

MORE CONFESSIONS TO BOB WOODWARD

But on March 19, Trump offered a completely different take on the virus in another phone interview with Woodward:

Donald Trump: Now it’s starting out it’s not just all people, Bob. But just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It’s not just old, older-

Bob Woodward: Yeah. Exactly.

Trump: Young people too. Plenty of young people. We’re looking at what’s going on in—

Woodward:  So, give me a moment of talking to somebody, going through this with Fauci, or somebody who kind of… It caused a pivot in your mind, because it’s clear just from what’s on the public record, that you went through a pivot on this to, “Oh my God. The gravity is almost inexplicable and unexplainable.” 

Trump:  Well, I think Bob, really, to be honest with you-

Woodward: Sure. I want you to be.

Trump: I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic. 

DONALD TRUMP: KILLING MORE AMERICANS THAN OSAMA BIN LADEN: PART TWO (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 15, 2020 at 12:05 am

The 9/11 terror attacks frightened Americans more than any event since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.. But they didn’t slaughter as many Americans nor affect their lives as intimately as has the advent of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. 

First, COVID-19 has killed far more Americans than 9/11. As before mentioned, 9/11 snuffed out the lives of almost 3,000 Americans. But as of September 15, more than 194,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. And the plague has not finished its murderous work. 

Second, while 9/11 affected two American cities—New York and Washington, D.C.—COVID-19 has spread throughout the country. As epicenters like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago gain national attention, the virus continues to seep into rural centers—especially in the South and Midwest.

Third, the combination of evil and incompetence of the Trump administration has shaken Americans’ faith in the ability—and even the willingness—of the Federal Government to protect them.

TRUMP AND BOB WOODWARD

Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks attacked President Donald Trump in terms usually reserved for serial killers. On the March 13 edition of The PBS Newshour, he said:

“This is what happens when you elect a sociopath as president, who doesn’t care, who has treated this whole thing for the past month as if it’s about him. ‘How do people like me?’ Minimizing the risks. ‘Does the stock market reflect well on me?’ And he hasn’t done the things a normal human being would do, which was to, let’s take precautions….

“And he’s incapable of that. And he’s even created an information distortion field around him.”  

Yet even David Brooks could not have predicted the scandal that now threatens Trump’s chances for re-election on November 3. 

To understand this, it’s necessary to compare what Trump was saying privately to legendary investigative reporter Bob Woodward—as opposed to what he was telling the American public in countless addresses.

Woodward—along with Carl Bernstein—achieved imperishable fame in 1972-74 as the Washington Post reporters whose Watergate-related stories led to the fall of President Richard M. Nixon.

Bob Woodward (@realBobWoodward) | Twitter

Bob Woodward

THE ADVENT OF CORONAVIRUS

First, some background on the Coronvirus itself:

The virus first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December, 2019.  Its first reported victim became ill on December 1.

By December 31, the outbreak was traced to a novel strain of Coronavirus.

Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that affect birds and mammals. In humans, Coronaviruses can cause pneumonia and may cause bronchitis. 

As President, Trump had access to Intelligence sources denied to his fellow citizens.

Trump first learned of the virus on January 3, 2020. This did not prevent him from playing golf on January 4, 5, 18 and 19.

On January 19, the first Coronavirus case appeared in the United States.

On January 27, then-acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tried to get the President to act.

But, according to officials who spoke with the Washington Post, Trump was “dismissive” of early briefings “because he did not believe that the virus had spread widely throughout the United States.”

Trump fired Mulvaney one month later. 

Then, for Trump, it was back to the golf course—on February 1, 2 and 15.

TRUMP CONFESSES TO BOB WOODWARD

On February 7, he decided to share some of his Coronavirus Intelligence with legendary Washington Post editor and reporter Bob Woodward.

Why he chose to do this remains a mystery.

It’s possible that Trump—whose hatred of the press is infamous—thought he could “take” Woodward. Or perhaps even cultivate him. 

Conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks thinks so. On the September 11 edition of The PBS Newshour, Brooks offered:

“First, the hubris to think, you could be the president and talk to Bob Woodward and not get hurt by it. Donald Trump walked right into this. 

“Two, the extreme cynicism of not only bumbling around in February and March, because you didn’t know how serious the pandemic was, but the confirmation that you did know, and you still thought you could talk it down, as if you can talk down a force of nature, and that this—you wouldn’t end up getting caught.”

If Trump thought he could “take” or cultivate Woodward, it wasn’t the first time a high-ranking government official had done so.   

During the Presidency of Ronald Reagan, CIA director William J. Casey spilled countless secrets to Woodward—which found their way into a 1987 book: Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987.  Woodward admitted that he didn’t know why Casey had been so forthcoming. 

Veil: The Secret Wars of the C.I.A.. 1981 - 1987.

On February 7, 2020, the following telephone interview between Trump and Woodward took place:

Bob Woodward: And so, what was [Chinese] President Xi [Jinping] saying yesterday? 

Donald Trump:  Oh, we were talking mostly about the virus, and I think he’s going to have it in good shape. But it’s a very tricky situation.

Woodward: Indeed, it is. 

Trump: It goes through air, Bob. That’s always tougher than the touch. The touch, you don’t have to touch things, right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed. And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flues. People don’t realize, we lose 25,000, 30,000 people a year here. Who would ever think that, right?

DONALD TRUMP: KILLING MORE AMERICANS THAN OSAMA BIN LADEN: PART ONE (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 14, 2020 at 12:15 am

On September 11, 2001, 19 Islamic terrorists snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. 

They did so by turning four commercial jetliners into fuel-bombs—and crashing them into, respectively, the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City; the Pentagon, in Washington, D.C.; and—unintentionally—a field in Somerset County, Pennsylvania.

(Its destination had been the White House or the Capitol Building. But its passengers, alerted by radio broadcasts of the doom awaiting them, resolved to take over the plane instead. The hijackers slammed the jet into the ground to avoid capture.)

World Trade Center – September 11, 2001

But within less than a month, American warplanes began carpet-bombing Afghanistan, whose rogue Islamic “government” refused to surrender Osama bin Laden, the had of Al-Qaeda who had masterminded the attacks.

By December, 2001, the power of the Taliban was broken—and bin Laden was driven into hiding in Pakistan.

For more than 16 years, the United States—through its global military and espionage networks—relentlessly hunted down most of those responsible for that September carnage.

On May 1, 2011, U.S. Navy SEALS invaded bin Laden’s fortified mansion in Abbottabad, Pakistan—and shot him dead.

U.S. Navy SEALs

OSAMA BIN LADEN’S BOASTING

On December 13, 2001, the Pentagon released a videotape of Osama bin Laden discussing the attacks in Arabic with another man who appears to be a cleric.

The videotape had been discovered by American forces in a private home in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. 

On the tape, bin Laden says he was pleasantly surprised by the amount of destruction caused at the World Trade Center. He had only expected the top portion of the Twin Towers to collapse:

“We calculated in advance the number of casualties from the enemy, who would be killed based on the position of the tower. We calculated that the floors that would be hit would be three or four floors. I was the most optimistic of them all.

“Due to my experience in this field [he had graduated from King Abdul Aziz University with a civil engineering degree in 1979] I was thinking that the fire from the gas in the plane would melt the iron structure of the building and collapse the area where the plane hit and all the floors above it only.

“This is all that we had hoped for.”

Osama bin Laden - Wikipedia

Osama bin Laden

9/11 VS. COVID-19

Now, consider this:

It’s September 11, 2020. Nineteen years to the day since the United States suffered its worst terrorist attack in history—a loss of 3,000 Americans.

And, in less than a year, the United States is nearing a death-toll of 200,000 from an enemy just as deadly and unrelenting as Al Qaeda.

That enemy is Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. 

The September 11 attacks jolted Americans out of their complacency toward Islamic terrorism. Since the 1980s, the United States had responded to terrorism via its legal system. After 9/11, Americans opted for a military response against Middle Eastern terror cells.

For months afterward, America feared the worst—that other cities would soon become targets for massive terror attacks. But, for all the death and destruction wrought that day, this didn’t happen.

There were two major reasons for this:

First, under its new director, Robert Mueller, the FBI completely refocused its mission from investigating crimes to preventing them. This resulted in a proactive rather than reactive mindset and approach. Even terrorists who felt safe abroad found themselves arrested by FBI agents employing the sort of techniques previously used against foreign spies.

Second, the attacks led to the creation of a huge new agency—the Department of Homeland Security. Massive sums of money were doled out to local police departments across the country, arming them with new hires and more sophisticated anti-crime technologies.

Department of Homeland Security - D H S Emblem on Blue Velvet Round Beach Towel for Sale by Serge Averbukh

And for the first time since the dawning of the age of flight, the Federal Government took responsibility for preventing airline terrorism. Previously, this had fallen to individual airlines—which, seeing it as a financial drain, had assigned it a low priority.

The attacks also led to a complete restructuring of the United States military.

In the past, Americans had excelled in set-piece battles and wars. But when fighting enemies where guerrilla warfare negated overwhelming military power, the United States had done poorly—first in Korea (1950-1953) and then in Vietnam (1960-1975). 

As a result, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield reorganized the Pentagon’s bureaucracy, assigning highest priority to building unconventional military units such as the Army’s Green Berets and Delta Force, and the Navy’s SEALs. 

These were all major changes resulting from the 9/11 attacks. They cost billions of dollars and got huge publicity. But they didn’t affect the lives of everyday Americans as intimately as has the advent of COVID-19, also known as Coronavirus. 

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

The 9/11 terror attacks frightened Americans more than any event since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.. But they slaughtered only a fraction of Americans, as compared with the 194,000 who have died from COVID-19, in less than a year..

Osama bin Laden deservedly gained infamy for plotting 9/11. But Donald Trump, who repeatedly lied about the dangers of COVID-19, remains beloved by about 40% of Americans.

REPUBLICANS ARE WHAT THEY HATE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on August 27, 2020 at 12:05 am

On August 24, Kimberly Guilfoyle delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention (RNC) that met the psychological meaning of “projection”: Unconsciously taking unwanted emotions or traits you don’t like about yourself and attributing them to someone else. 

Guilfoyle, 51, is a former attorney, prosecutor and television news personality who currently works as an advisor for President Donald Trump. 

In 2001, Guilfoyle married San Francisco supervisor Gavin Newsom. Two years later, Newsom was elected mayor of San Francisco. In January 2004, Guilfoyle moved to New York to host the program Both Sides on Court TV and work as a legal analyst on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360.

In 2006, citing the strain of a bi-coastal marriage, Guilfoyle and Newsom divorced.

She joined Fox News in February 2006, as host of the weekend show The Lineup. When this was canceled, she remained a regular contributor to the network. 

But in 2018, she abruptly left Fox News. According to the Huffington Post

“Six sources said Guilfoyle’s behavior included showing personal photographs of male genitalia to colleagues (and identifying whose genitals they were), regularly discussing sexual matters at work and engaging in emotionally abusive behavior toward hair and makeup artists and support staff.” 

Guilfoyle posing and smiling in a red dress

Kimberly Guilfoyle

Photographer: Jill Lotenberg, Jill PhotographyPublisher: Chase Backer, 25A Magazine / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

In May 2018, Guilfoyle and Donald Trump, Jr.—the son of the President—attended an event together. News subsequently leaked that the two were dating—while he was separated from but still married to his wife, Vanessa. Guilfoyle had been friends with the Trump family for years

The Trumps divorced at the end of 2018.

Since 2018, Trump Jr. has been openly dating Guilfoyle. According to The New York Times Magazine, they “have  become fund-raising powerhouses,” helping the President amass a huge war chest.

Donald Trump, Jr. (48513758216) (cropped).jpg

Donald Trump Junior

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

Among the statements Guilfoyle made at the RNC:

“President Trump is the law and order President.”

[Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, attacked Federal judges who found his policies unconstitutional, and fired Inspectors General for investigating his corrupt officials. He is only the third President—after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton—to be impeached.]

“Biden, Harris, and the rest of the Socialists will fundamentally change this nation.”

[Russian Communist dictator Vladimir Putin is the only major world leader whom Trump has never attacked nor even criticized. He has rejected the findings of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency that Putin intervened in the 2016 Presidential campaign to ensure Trump’s election.]

“[Democrats] will selfishly send your jobs back to China while they get rich.”

[The President has more than 100 trademarks in China, including 35 granted pre-approval since he took office.]

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Donald Trump

“They will defund, dismantle, and destroy America’s law enforcement.”

[Trump has urged his followers to disobey state laws requiring them to wear masks and maintain social distancing. Many of them have marched on state capitols brandishing automatic weapons.]

“My mother, Mercedes, was a special education teacher from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. My father, also an immigrant, came to this nation in pursuit of the American Dream.” 

[Trump has tried to stop both legal and illegal immigration. And since July, 2017, U.S. immigration authorities have separated more than 5,400 children from their parents at the Mexico border.]

“Human sex drug traffickers should not be allowed to cross our border.”

[Trump partied heartily with sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. When Epstein’s widow, Ghislaine Maxwell, was charged with the enticing of minors and sex trafficking of underage girls, Trump wished her well.]

“In President Trump’s America, we light things up. We don’t dim them down.”

[Trump “lit up” Washington, D.C.’s Lafayette Park with tear gas against peaceful protesters so he could pose for a photo op at St. John’s Church following the death of George Floyd.]

“This election is a battle for the soul of America. Your choice is clear. Do you support the cancel culture?”

[When protesters object to honoring treasonous Confederate generals with monuments, Trump calls that “cancel culture.” But when a tire-making company bans MAGA caps from its workplace, Trump calls for a boycott of Goodyear Tires.]

“[Democrats] want to control what you see and think and believe so that they can control how you live.” 

[When Twitter dared to fact-check Trump’s false tweets about mail-in ballots, he signed an executive order targeting liability protection for social media companies.]

“…President Trump cut middle class taxes, putting tens of thousands of dollars back in the pockets of working class Americans….”.

[Forbes magazine, which calls itself “the capitalist tool,” stated that “Trump tax cuts helped billionaires pay less taxes than the working class in 2018.” Reported Forbes: “For the first time in American history, the 400 wealthiest people paid a lower tax rate than any other group.”]

“Don’t let the Democrats take you for granted. Don’t let them step on you. Don’t let them destroy your families, your lives, and your future.” 

[Furious that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) mocked him during a session of the House Intelligence Committee, Trump tweeted: “I want Schiff questioned at the highest level for Fraud & Treason…..”]

* * * * *

Ernest Hemingway warned: “Fascism is a lie told by bullies.” 

On the first night of the Republican National Convention, Kimberly Guilfoyle proved that Hemingway’s warning still holds true.

AMERICA’S WEALTH CLUB: “GO TO WORK–AND DIE FOR ME”

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on March 31, 2020 at 12:09 am

“Capitalism Kills” could have been a headline in Pravda, the official “newspaper” of the former Soviet Union.

Instead, it’s billionaires themselves who are responsible for such a sentiment. They are doing their level best to persuade workers: “I regret that I have only one life to give for my CEO.”

Richard Kovacevich is the former CEO of Norwest Bank (1966 – 1998) and Wells Fargo (1998 – 2007). He wants healthy people under age 55 to return to work in late April if the outbreak is contained enough.

There are two major problems with this:

  1. There aren’t enough test kits to screen everyone for possible signs of the Coronavirus.
  2. Many of those who carry the virus show no signs of infection.

“We’ll gradually bring those people back and see what happens. Some of them will get sick, some may even die. I don’t know,” said Kovacevich.

He might just as well have added: “I don’t care.”

I think Trump is wrong on rates, we need to get to neutral, says ...

“Do you want to suffer more economically or take some risk that you’ll get flu-like symptoms and a flu-like experience? Do you want to take an economic risk or a health risk? You get to choose.”

If President Donald Trump gets to choose, the nationwide social distancing practices that health professionals say are essential to saving lives during the Coronavirus outbreak will end on April 30.

He originally chose Easter as a pretext for doing this: “You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time.”

The real reason: He wants to return to return to holding his mass public rallies—which some have compared to the Nuremberg rallies hosted by Adolf Hitler. There he can spew hatred at everyone he dislikes and bask in the worshipful glow of his fanatical base.

Fortunately, the rising tide of COVID-19 cases forced him to abandon his original April 12 date. 

And many highly-paid executives in American corporations are itching to put their employees back at work—and on the Coronavirus firing line. 

“The damages of keeping the economy closed as it is could be worse than losing a few more people,” Tom Golisano, the founder and chairman of the payroll processor Paychex Inc. told Bloomberg. “I have a very large concern that if businesses keep going along the way they’re going then so many of them will have to fold.” 

Forbes estimates Golisano’s net worth to be $3 billion.  

Like Richard Kovacevich, he wants states that haven’t been hit hard by the virus to return to normalcy.

Tom Golisano.JPG

Tom Golisano

Penale52 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Lloyd Blankfein, the former head of Goldman Sachs, wrote on Twitter: “Crushing the economy, jobs and morale is also a health issue—and beyond. Within a very few weeks let those with a lower risk to the disease return to work.”

There’s no question that keeping businesses closed across the country—as scientists and health professionals are urging—will inflict large-scale economic damage.

But rushing people back to work would prolong the outbreak and overwhelm the healthcare system. And it would certainly increase—perhaps exponentially—the number of dead and infected casualties of the pandemic. Economists from Northwestern University calculated that keeping social distancing practices in place until cases decline could save 600,000 lives nationwide.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warns that the United States could experience 100,000 deaths and millions of viral infections from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ignoring these facts is Right-wing TV and radio host Glenn Beck, who, according to Forbes, was worth $90 million in 2014.

“I would rather have my children stay home and all of us who are over 50 go in and keep this economy going and working.  Even if we all get sick, I’d rather die than kill the country,” Beck, 56, said on his show “The Blaze.”

Of course, Beck works alone in his own studio—and is thus highly unlikely to come in contact with an infected carrier.

Glenn Beck (25030472253) (cropped).jpg

Glenn Beck

George Skidmore photo

Like Beck, millionaires and billionaires can afford to socially distance themselves from others and still accumulate huge piles of wealth.

“I think what we are doing with the shutdown is good but in a few weeks people will need to be around people,” said billionaire Tilman Fertitta, owner of a casino, hotel and restaurant empire.

He certainly needs “people to be around people.” His businesses depend heavily on huge numbers of customers willing to spend money.

And, in this case, to risk their lives doing so.

Adds Fertotta: “Otherwise you are going to go into an economic crisis that is going to take us years to dig ourselves out of.”

Fertitta’s income is estimated at $4.4 billion, according to Forbes.

For men like Richard Kovacevich, Tom Golisano, Lloyd Blankfein, Glenn Beck and Tilman Fertitta,, the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt have no meaning: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.”

For Republicans and their wealthy benefactors, “pro-life” means strictly anti-abortion. Any other form of life—the elderly, the ill, victims of pollution, those slaughtered with military-style weaponry used by criminals—are totally expendable.

THE RICH (LIKE THE PLAGUE) ARE WITH YOU ALWAYS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on February 21, 2020 at 12:07 am

The gap between rich and poor in the United States has never been greater.

A May 1, 2018 article in Forbes—which bills itself as “The Capitalist Tool”—vividly documents this truth.

“In the 1950s, a typical CEO made 20 times the salary of his or her average worker. Last year, [2017] CEO pay at an S&P 500 Index firm soared to an average of 361 times more than the average rank-and-file worker, or pay of $13,940,000 a year, according to an AFL-CIO’s Executive Paywatch news release today.”

The average CEO pay climbed six percent in 2017—while the average production worker earned just $38,613, according to Executive Paywatch.

The average wage—adjusted for inflation—has stagnated for more than 50 years. Meanwhile, CEOs’ average pay since the 1950s has risen by 1000%.

This would not have been news to Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science. In his masterwork, The Discourses, he observed the human condition as that of constant struggle: 

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.jpg

Niccolo Machiavelli

“It was a saying of ancient writers, that men afflict themselves in evil, and become weary of the good, and that both these dispositions produce the same effects. 

“For when men are no longer obliged to fight from necessity, they fight from ambition, which passion is so powerful in the hearts of men that it never leaves them, no matter to what height they may rise.    

“The reason for this is that nature has created men so that they desire everything, but are unable to attain it. Desire being thus always greater than the faculty of acquiring, discontent with what they have and dissatisfaction with themselves result from it. 

“This causes the changes in their fortunes—for as some men desire to have more, while others fear to lose what they have, enmities and war are the consequences. And this brings about the ruin of one province and the elevation of another.”

Author Walter Scheidel, Dickason Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Classics and History at Stanford University, has also given this subject a great deal of thought. And, like Machiavelli, he has reached some highly disturbing conclusions.

Walter Scheidel - Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2012.jpg

Walter Scheidel

World Economic Forum [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D

Scheidel gave voice to these in his 2017 book, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century. His thesis: Only violence and catastrophes have consistently reduced inequality throughout history

According to the book’s jacket blurb: “Are mass violence and catastrophes the only forces that can seriously decrease economic inequality? To judge by thousands of years of history, the answer is yes.

“Tracing the global history of inequality from the Stone Age to today, Walter Scheidel shows that inequality never dies peacefully. Inequality declines when carnage and disaster strike and increases when peace and stability return.

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“The Great Leveler is the first book to chart the crucial role of violent shocks in reducing inequality over the full sweep of human history around the world.

“Ever since humans began to farm, herd livestock, and pass on their assets to future generations, economic inequality has been a defining feature of civilization. Over thousands of years, only violent events have significantly lessened inequality.

“The ‘Four Horsemen’ of leveling—mass-mobilization warfare, transformative revolutions, state collapse, and catastrophic plagues—have repeatedly destroyed the fortunes of the rich….

“Today, the violence that reduced inequality in the past seems to have diminished, and that is a good thing. But it casts serious doubt on the prospects for a more equal future.”

Revolutionaries have known the truth of Scheidel’s findings from the gladiators’ revolt of Spartacus (73 – 71 B.C.) to the French Revolution (1789 – 1799) to the overthrow of the Czarist Romanov dynasty (1917).

But American politicians serenely ignore that truth. They depend on the mega-rich for millions of dollars in “campaign contributions”—which pay for self-glorifying ads on TV.

Thus, in 2016, American voters had a “choice” between two “love-the-rich” Presidential candidates: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The result was that millions stayed home or voted in protest for third-party candidates who had no chance of winning.

In his 1975 book, The Corrupt Society: From Ancient Greece to Modern-day America, British historian Robert Payne warned that the predatory rich would not change their behavior: “Nor is there any likelihood that the rich will plow back their money into services to ensure the general good.

“They have rarely demonstrated social responsibility, and they are much more likely to hold on to their wealth at all costs than to renounce any part of it.

“Like the tyrant who lives in a world wholly remote from the world of the people, shielded and protected from all possible influences, the rich are usually the last to observe the social pressures rising from below, and when these social pressures reach flashpoint, it is too late to call in the police or the army.

“The tyrant dies; the police and the army go over to the revolutionaries; and the new government dispossesses the rich by decree. A single authoritative sentence suffices to expunge all private wealth and restore it to the service of the nation.”

For millions of struggling, impoverished Americans, that day cannot come soon enough.

THE RICH (LIKE THE PLAGUE) ARE WITH YOU ALWAYS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on February 20, 2020 at 12:10 am

Americans are used to Presidential candidates telling lies (euphemistically known as “campaign promises”) to get elected.

But when a candidate actually (and usually accidentally) tells the truth, the results can be electrifying. 

On June 18, 2019, Democratic Presidential candidate (and momentary front-runner) Joseph Biden addressed a roomful of donors in New York. 

The former Vice President believed that his message would comfort his well-heeled audience of billionaires: Don’t worry, if I’m elected, your standard of living won’t change.

Addressing the 100 or so guests at a fundraiser at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City, Biden said that he had taken heat from “some of the people on my team, on the Democratic side” because he had said that rich people were “just as patriotic as poor people.

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Joe Biden

“The truth of the matter is, you all, you all know, you all know in your gut what has to be done. We can disagree in the margins but the truth of the matter is it’s all within our wheelhouse and nobody has to be punished. No one’s standard of living will change, nothing would fundamentally change,” he said. 

And he added: “I mean, we may not want to demonize anybody who has made money.

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“When we have income inequality as large as we have in the United States today, it brews and ferments political discord and basic revolution. Not a joke. Not a joke … It allows demagogues to step in and say the reason where we are is because of the ‘other’….

“You’re not the other. I need you very badly. I hope if I win this nomination, I won’t let you down. I promise you. I have a bad reputation, I always say what I mean. The problem is I sometimes say all that I mean.”

Biden has talked about decreasing income inequality and promoting workers’ rights. But he’s taken a moderate stance when it comes to taxation.

United States Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT), on the other hand, has attacked the ultra-rich as responsible for the ever-widening gap between themselves and the poor.

“I love Bernie, but I’m not Bernie Sanders. I don’t think 500 billionaires are the reason why we’re in trouble,” Biden said in March, 2019.

Instead, he proposes expanding tax credits for the poor and middle class, and making the tax code less friendly to rich investors. 

Robert Payne, the distinguished British historian, took a different—and darker—view of the rich.

Payne authored more than 110 books. Among his subjects were Adolf Hitler, Ivan the Terrible, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Vladimir Lenin, William Shakespeare and Leon Trotsky.

In 1975, he published The Corrupt Society: From Ancient Greece to Present-Day America. It proved a summary of many of his previous works.

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Among the epochs it covered: The civilizations of ancient Greece, Rome and China; Nazi Germany; the Soviet Union; and Watergate-era America. And the massive corruption each of those epochs had spawned.

In his chapter, “A View of the Uncorrupted Society,” Payne warned: Power and wealth are the main sources of corruption.

“The rich, simply by being rich, are infected with corruption. Their overwhelming desire is to grow richer, but they can do this only at the expense of those who are poorer than themselves.

”Their interests conflict with those of the overall society. They live sheltered from the constant anxieties of the poor, and thus cannot understand them.  Nor do they try to.

They see the poor as alien from themselves, and thus come to fear and despise them. And their wealth and influence enables them to buy politicians—who, in turn, write legislation that protects the rich from the poor.

But Payne foresaw an even greater danger from the rich and powerful than their mere isolation from the rest of society: “The mere presence of the rich is corrupting. Their habits, their moral codes, their delight in conspicuous consumption are permanent affronts to the rest of humanity. Vast inequalities of wealth are intolerable in any decent society.”

Writing in 1975, Payne noted that a third of the private wealth was possessed by less than five percent of the population—while about a fifth of the populace lived at the poverty level. By 2000, he predicted, about five percent of the population would possess two-thirds of America’s wealth. And more than half the population would be near or below the starvation level. 

The result could only be catastrophe. The only way to halt this this increasing concentration of wealth by fewer people would be through law or violent revolution.

Payne has proven to be an uncanny prophet.

On December 8, 2017, the Seattle Times noted that the wealthiest one percent of Americans owned 40% of the country’s wealth. They owned more wealth than the bottom 90% combined. 

From 2013, the share of wealth owned by the one percent increased by nearly three percentage points. Wealth owned by the bottom 90%, meanwhile, fell over the same period.

But this situation need not remain permanent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adultery-dating website Ashley Madison hacked

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is a reason why these security breaches keep happening.

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

And the answer is clearly: No.

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

Click here: Cybersecurity: Does corporate America really care?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CORPORATE DATA BREACHES? BLAME CEOs: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 1, 2019 at 12:08 am

Comedian Lily Tomlin rose to fame on the 1960s comedy hit, Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, as Ernestine, the rude, sarcastic switchboard operator for Ma Bell.

She would tap into customers’ calls, interrupt them, make snide remarks about their personal lives. And her victims included celebrities as much as run-of-the-mill customers.

Lily Tomlin as Ernestine

She introduced herself as working for “the phone company, serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth.”

But perhaps the line for which her character is best remembered was: “We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the phone company.”

Watching Ernestine on Laugh-In was a blast for millions of TV viewers. But facing such corporate arrogance in real-life is no laughing matter.

Clearly, too many companies take the same attitude as Ernestine: “We don’t care. We don’t have to.”

This is especially true for companies that are supposed to safeguard their customers’ most sensitive information—such as their credit card numbers, addresses, emails and phone numbers.

Among those companies hacked:

  • Kmart
  • Staples
  • Dairy Queen
  • Target
  • Sony Pictures 
  • Primera Blue Cross
  • Home Depot
  • JPMorgan/Chase

In 2015, they were joined by health insurance giant Anthem Inc. The company announced that hackers had breached its computer system and accessed the medical records of tens of millions of its customers and employees.

Anthem, the nation’s second-largest health insurer, said the infiltrated database held records on up to 80 million people.

Among the customers’ information accessed:

  • Names
  • Birthdates
  • Social Security numbers
  • Member ID numbers
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Email addresses 
  • Employment information

Some of the customer data may have included details on their income.

Click here: Anthem hack exposes data on 80 million; experts warn of identity theft – LA Times

Bad as that news was, worse was to come.

A February 5, 2015 story by the Wall Street Journal revealed that Anthem stored the Social Security numbers of 80 million customers without encrypting them.

The company believed that hackers used a stolen employee password to access the database

Anthem’s alleged reason for refusing to encrypt such sensitive data: Doing so would have made it harder for the company’s employees to track health care trends or share data with state and Federal health providers.

Anthem spokeswoman Kristin Binns blamed the data breach on employers and government agencies who “require us to maintain a member’s Social Security number in our systems so that their systems can uniquely identify their members.”

She said that Anthem encrypted personal data when it moves in or out of its database–-but not where it is stored.

This is a commonplace practice in the healthcare industry.

The FBI launched an investigation into the hack.

According to an anonymous source, the hackers used malware that has been used almost exclusively by Chinese cyberspies.

Naturally, China denied any wrongdoing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “We maintain a cooperative, open and secure cyberspace, and we hope that countries around the world will make concerted efforts to that end.”

He also said that the charge that the hackers were Chinese was “groundless.”  

On July 15, 2015, Ashley Madison—the notorious website for cheating wives and husbands—joined this list.

Launched in 2001, its catchy slogan is: “Life is short.  Have an affair.”

One of its ads featured a photo of a woman apparently kneeling at the feet of a bare-chested man, her hand passionately clawing at his belt. Next to her was the caption: “Join FREE & change your life today. Guaranteed!”

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Millions of its clients suddenly found their lives changed in ways they never imagined—for the worse.

Ashley Madison claimed to have more than 37 million members.  

Its hackers were enraged at the company’s refusal to fully delete users’ profiles unless it received a $19 fee.

Referring to themselves as “The Impact Team,” they stated in an online manifesto: “Full Delete netted [Avid Life Media, the parent company of Ashley Madison] $1.7 million in revenue in 2014. It’s also a complete lie.

“Users almost always pay with credit card; their purchase details are not removed as promised, and include real names and address, which is of course the most important information the users want removed.”

On July 20, 2015, Avid Life Media defended the service, and promised to make it free.

The hackers demanded: “AM [Ashley Madison] AND EM [Established Men] MUST SHUT DOWN IMMEDIATELY PERMANENTLY.

“We have taken over all systems in your entire office and production domains, all customer information databases, source code repositories, financial records, emails.

“Shutting down AM and EM will cost you, but non-compliance will cost you more.”

The hackers threatened to “release all customer records, including profiles with all the customers’ secret sexual fantasies and matching credit card transactions, real names and addresses, and employee documents and emails.”

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

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

So why didn’t the company hire “one of the world’s top IT security teams” before the hack?

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