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Posts Tagged ‘GEORGE W. BUSH’

ALL GLORY IS FLEETING–AND NOW GONE

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 31, 2021 at 12:14 am

Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg’s 1998 World War II epic, opens with a scene of an American flag snapping in the wind.

Except that the vivid red, white and blue we’ve come to expect in Old Glory have been washed out, leaving only black-and-white stripes and black stars.

Robert Mapplethorpe and the tale of two American Flags | art | Phaidon

And then the movie opens—not during World War II but the present day.

Did Spielberg know that the United States—for all its military power—has become a pale shadow of its former glory?

May, 30, 1945, marked the first Memorial Day after World War II ended in Europe.

On that day, the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery became the site of just such a ceremony. The cemetery lies near the modern Italian town of Nettuno.

In 1945, it held about  20,000 graves. Most were soldiers who died in Sicily, at Salerno or Anzio.

One of the speakers at the ceremony was Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr., the U.S. Fifth Army Commander.

Lieutenant General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr.

Unlike many other generals, Truscott had shared in the dangers of combat, often pouring over maps on the hood of his jeep with company commanders as bullets or shells zipped close by.

Among Truscott’s audience was Bill Mauldin, the famous cartoonist for the Army newspaper, Stars and Stripes. Mauldin had created Willie and Joe, the unshaved, slovenly-looking “dogfaces” who came to symbolize the GI.

When it came his turn to speak, Truscott moved to the podium—and then did something truly unexpected.

Looking at the assembled visitors—which included several Congressmen—Truscott turned his back on the living to face the graves of his fellow soldiers.  

“It was the most moving gesture I ever saw,” wrote Mauldin. “It came from a hard-boiled old man who was incapable of planned dramatics.”

  Bill Mauldin and “Willie and Joe,” the characters he made famous

“He apologized to the dead men for their presence there. He said that everybody tells leaders that it is not their fault that men get killed in war, but that every leader knows in his heart that this is not altogether true.

“He said he hoped anybody here through any mistake of his would forgive him, but he realized that was asking a hell of a lot under the circumstances….

“Truscott said he would not speak of the ‘glorious’ dead because he didn’t see much glory in getting killed in your late teens or early twenties.

“He promised that if in the future he ran into anybody, especially old men, who thought death in battle was glorious, he would straighten them out. He said he thought it was the least he could do.”

Then Truscott walked away, without acknowledging his audience.

Fast forward 61 years—to March 24, 2004.

At a White House Correspondents dinner in Washington, D.C., President George W. Bush joked publicly about the absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq.

One year earlier, he had invaded Iraq on the premise that its dictator, Saddam Hussein, possessed WMDs he intended to use against the United States.

To Bush, the non-existent WMDs were now simply the butt of a joke that night.

While an overhead projector displayed photos of a puzzled-looking Bush searching around the Oval Office, Bush recited a comedy routine.

“Those weapons of mass destruction have gotta be somewhere,” Bush laughed, while a photo showed him poking around the corners in the Oval Office.

George W. Bush - jokes about weapons of mass destruction .flv - YouTube

“Nope-–no weapons over there!  Maybe they’re under here,” he said, as a photo showed him looking under a desk.

In a scene that could have occurred under the Roman emperor Nero, an assembly of wealthy, pampered men and women—the elite of America’s media and political classes—-laughed heartily during Bush’s performance. 

Only later did the criticism come, from Democrats and Iraqi war veterans—especially those veterans who had lost comrades or suffered grievous wounds to protect America from non-existent WMDs.

Bush had dodged the Vietnam war by joining the 147th Fighter-Interceptor Group of the Texas Air National Guard on May 27, 1968. His military service ended on November 21, 1974—by which time the Vietnam war was safely over.

Bush Laughs at no WMD in Iraq  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCTfEf6Rrmw

Then fast forward another 11 years—to July 18. 2015.

On July 18, then-candidate Donald Trump disparaged Arizona Senator John McCain: “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

McCain had served in the United States Navy as an aviator during the Vietnam war. He was shot down over Hanoi in 1967 and spent five and a half years as a heroic POW. His wartime injuries left him permanently incapable of raising his arms above his head.

Nevertheless, Republican voters turned out heavily to elect Trump—a five-time Vietnam draft dodger—over Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Trump continued to attack McCain even after the Senator died of brain cancer in 2018. But the overwhelming majority of Republicans continued to rabidly support the draft-dodger.

Of the 535 members elected or re-elected to the House and Senate in November, 2020, a total of 100 have served in the U.S. military.

Small wonder that, for many people, Old Glory has taken on a darker, washed-out appearance.

DE-REGULATION: LET PREDATORS BE PREDATORS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 21, 2021 at 12:09 am

This December 2 will mark the 20th anniversary of the death of a criminal empire. An empire that almost destroyed the Western United States.

The 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 extortionate market manipulations and illegal shutdowns of pipelines by Texas energy companies.

California 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.

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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.

Under the pro-oil company administration of George W. Bush, no such prosecutions ever occurred. But Americans had a right to expect such redress under “liberal” 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 Adolf Hitler’s Schutzstaffel (Guard Detachment), or SS, as a human interest tragedy.
  • Imagine its Reichsfuehrer, 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 anyone in the media or government declare that the solution to such extortionate activity lay within the United States Department of Justice 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)….

With the 20th anniversary of Enron’s demise coming up, the mantra of “de-regulation” should be ruthlessly turned against those who have most ardently championed it.

Republicans have ingeniously dubbed the estate tax—which affects only a tiny minority of ultra-rich—“the death tax.” This makes it appear to affect everyone.

With the 2022 midterm elections fast approaching, Democrats should recast de-regulation thus:

“Greed Relief” 

“Greed Protection” 

“Legalized Extortion” 

And here are some possible slogans: 

“The Energy Industry: Giving You the Best Congress Money Can Buy.” 

“De-regulation: Let Criminals Be Criminals.”

The coal industry has pumped millions into TV ads touting the non-existent wonders of “clean coal.” And Chevron has spent millions assuring us that all its profits go strictly toward making the world a better place for others. (Presumably not a penny is left for its altruistic executives.)

When faced with such outright lying by the most vested of financial interests, it’s well to recall 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.

MACHIAVELLI SIZES UP TRUMP

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on May 10, 2021 at 12:20 am

No shortage of pundits have sized up Donald Trump—first as a Presidential candidate, and now as the nation’s 45th President.  

But how does Trump measure up in the estimate of Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th-century Florentine statesman?

It is Machiavelli whose two great works on politics—The Prince and The Discourses—remain textbooks for successful politicians more than 500 years later.  

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Niccolo Machiavelli

Let’s start with Trump’s notoriety for hurling insults at virtually everyone, including:  

  • Latinos
  • Asians
  • Muslims
  • Blacks
  • The Disabled
  • Women
  • Prisoners-of-War

These insults delight his white, under-educated followers. But they have alienated millions of other Americans who might have voted for him.

Now consider Machiavelli’s advice on gratuitously handing out insults and threats:

  • “I hold it to be a proof of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words towards any one.
  • “For neither the one nor the other in any way diminishes the strength of the enemy—but the one makes him more cautious, and the other increases his hatred of you, and makes him more persevering in his efforts to injure you.”

For those who expected Trump to shed his propensity for constantly picking fights, Machiavelli had a stern warning:

  • “…If it happens that time and circumstances are favorable to one who acts with caution and prudence he will be successful. But if time and circumstances change he will be ruined, because he does not change the mode of his procedure.
  • “No man can be found so prudent as to be able to adopt himself to this, either because he cannot deviate from that to which his nature disposes him, or else because, having always prospered by walking in one path, he cannot persuade himself that it is well to leave it…
  • “For if one could change one’s nature with time and circumstances, fortune would never change.”

Then there is Trump’s approach to consulting advisers:

Asked by Joe Scarborough on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” who he consults about foreign policy, Trump replied; “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”

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Donald Trump

This totally contrasts with the advice given by Machiavelli:

  • “A prudent prince must [choose] for his counsel wise men, and [give] them alone full liberty to speak the truth to him, but only of those things that he asks and of nothing else.
  • “But he must be a great asker about everything and hear their opinions, and afterwards deliberate by himself in his own way, and in these counsels…comport himself so that every one may see that the more freely he speaks, the more he will be acceptable.”

And Machiavelli has potent advice on the selection of advisers:

  • “The first impression that one gets of a ruler and his brains is from seeing the men that he has about him. 
  • “When they are competent and loyal one can always consider him wise, as he has been able to recognize their ability and keep them faithful. 
  • “But when they are the reverse, one can always form an unfavorable opinion of him, because the first mistake that he makes is in making this choice.” 

Consider some of the advisers Trump relied on in his campaign for President: 

  • Founder of Latinos for Trump Marco Gutierrez told MSNBC’s Joy Reid: “My culture is a very dominant culture. And it’s imposing, and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re gonna have taco trucks every corner.” 
  • At a Tea Party for Trump rally at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Festus, Missouri, former Missouri Republican Party director Ed Martin reassured the crowd that they weren’t racist for hating Mexicans.

Comments like these didn’t increase Trump’s popularity among Hispanics.

  • Wayne Root, opening speaker and master of ceremonies at many Trump campaign events, told Virginia radio host Rob Schilling: People on public assistance and women getting birth control through Obamacare should not be allowed to vote.

Comments like this outraged the 70% of women who had an unfavorable opinion of him—and anyone who received Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security.

  • Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, claimed that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were responsible for the death of Captain Humayun Khan—who was killed by a truck-bomb in Iraq in 2004.

Obama became President in 2009—-almost five years after Khan’s death. And Clinton became Secretary of State the same year.  

When your spokeswoman becomes a nationwide laughingstock, your own credibility goes down the toilet as well.

Finally, Machiavelli offers a related warning that especially applies to Trump: Unwise princes cannot be wisely advised.

  • “It is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised, unless by chance he leaves himself entirely in the hands of one man who rules him in everything, and happens to be a very prudent man. In this case, he may doubtless be well governed, but it would not last long, for the governor would in a short time deprive him of the state.”

All of which would lead Niccolo Machiavelli to warn, if he could witness American politics today: “This bodes ill for your Republic.”

THE PORNOGRAPNY OF PRESIDENTIAL PERKS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 29, 2021 at 12:14 am

Once Presidents leave office, they usually lead quiet—and highly prosperous–lives.

It’s become commonplace for Presidents to write—or ghostwrite—their memoirs. These usually fetch them a hefty advance, even if sales prove disappointing.

Then there’s the speaker’s circuit, where fees per speech usually run into tens of thousands of dollars.

These are activities that leave the average ex-President an extremely wealthy man—but don’t impact the public purse. 

But there are other perks—such as lifetime Secret Service protection for themselves and their spouses, as well as taxpayer-funded office expenses—that put a serious strain on the national budget.

us-presidential-seal - Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

George W. Bush, unlike his father, got two full terms (2001 – 2009).

Bush made money in the oil industry and owned the Texas Rangers professional baseball team  before he became Governor of Texas and then President. He’s made tens of millions through a book deal and speaking fees.

His net worth has been estimated at $40 million. 

Barack Hussein Obama served two terms (2009 – 2017). 

Obama has greatly profited from paid speeches and production deal with Netflix worth an estimated $50 million. He also gets a government pension of $161,000 a year. Michelle Obama got a reported $65 million advance for her memoir “Becoming.”

Obama’s net worth has been estimated from $40 to $135 million. 

Donald Trump served one term (2017 – 2021). 

Before he entered politics, Trump reportedly got $200 million from his father to enter the real estate business. He made millions as a New York City real estate mogul. Many of his other businesses have failed, but Trump’s vast property holdings make him by far the wealthiest president of all time. He has also profited from his show “The Apprentice,” which ran from 2004 to 2017.

His net worth is estimated at $3.2 billion.

 * * * * * * * * * *

It’s long past time for the re-evaluation of Presidential welfare.

By all means, Presidents deserve a pension, but it should be on a par with the time they served in office. This currently amounts to $219,200 per year for life.

Most police officers must serve 20 years before they can collect their full pension. And they are required to put their lives on the line almost every day. No police officer is allowed to retire on a fulltime pension after serving eight—or even just four—years.

Then there’s the matter of funding by the General Service Administration (GSA) to staff, set up and furnish an official office anywhere in the country. Ex-Presidents and their staffers can receive up to $1 million annually in reimbursements for costs.

Seal of the General Services Administration.svg

Ex-Presidents use these monies to propagandize their accomplishments—or what they claim were their accomplishments—while in office. This usually takes the form of self-serving autobiographies—which, in many cases, are ghostwritten efforts.

Former Presidents certainly have the right to publish their memoirs. But they should not receive public monies for doing so.

Moreover: Presidents aren’t required to submit their manuscripts to what amounts to a censorship committee to guarantee they don’t spill national security secrets.

Agents of the CIA are—and can have royalties from their books seized if they don’t allow their manuscripts to be so screened.

As for lifetime Secret Service protection: In 1965, Congress authorized the Secret Service (Public Law 89-186) to protect a former president and his/her spouse during their lifetime, unless they decline protection.  

Secret Service in action: Did 2 agents get into a drunk driving accident at the White House? - YouTube

Secret Service agents guarding Barack Obama

In 1994, as a cost-saving measure, Congress acted to limit protection for future former presidents and spouses to ten years after they left office. 

But on January 12, 2013, President Barack Obama signed a new law authorizing lifetime protection of all former Presidents and First Ladies. In addition, children of former Presidents will receive protection until they are 16 years old.

This was clearly in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center—and America’s entry into a global war on terrorism. 

Still, this is hardly necessary. There has not been one recorded case of an attack on a former President since the Secret Service began protecting the Chief Executive in 1901.

From a national security viewpoint, it is also unnecessary. Once a President leaves office, he is essentially out of the loop of daily government business.

The protection of organized crime witnesses by the Justice Department’s Witness Security Program offers a useful remedy.

While awaiting trial, witnesses are given 24-hour protection by deputy U.S. marshals. But once the trials are over and they have received their new identities and relocation to a safe area, that protection is withdrawn. If they are once again threatened, they can request it from the Marshals Service.

And if such protection is deemed necessary for a former President, then a financial means test should be applied.

Every living ex-President is a millionaire—including even Jimmy Carter, whose wealth is estimated by USA Today at $8.2 million. 

Millionaires are not considered eligible for local, state or Federal welfare programs—unless they are former Presidents.

Thus, millionaire ex-Presidents who believe they need/deserve lifetime Secret Service protection should be required to pay for it out of pocket—or hire private security. 

Treating former Presidents as gods is not only an outrageous waste of taxpayers’ monies. It is an affront to the ideals of a democratic nation. 

THE PORNOGRAPNY OF PRESIDENTIAL PERKS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 28, 2021 at 12:25 am

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

George Orwell’s famous novella, Animal Farm, was a brutal, symbolic attack on the Soviet Union and its brand of Communism. But it applies just as accurately to the different ways poor and rich Americans are treated.

Let’s start with the poor.

According to the Social Security website: “Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues (not Social Security taxes). It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; and It provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter….

“One of our highest priorities is to help people with disabilities achieve independence by helping them take advantage of employment opportunities. Work incentive employment supports help disabled and blind SSI recipients go to work by minimizing the risk of losing their SSI or Medicaid benefits….

“We do not count the first $65 of earned income plus one–half of the amount over $65. Therefore, we reduce your SSI benefit only $1 for every $2 you earn over $65.”

Social Security Administration Asks for Comments on Info Collection Request

Wow! An SSI recipient can earn up to $65 dollars before that begins to affect his SSI. 

In 1960, $65 was equal to $575.88 in 2021 dollars.

That would have been great in 1960. But 1960 is now 61 years ago. 

According to Intuit, an American business that specializes in financial software: “The average cost of food per month for one person ranges from $150 to $300, depending on age. However, these national averages vary based on where you live and the quality of your food purchases.”

And according to Statista, a German company specializing in market and consumer data: In February 2021, the average monthly rent for an apartment in the United States was $1,124.

So being able to earn $65 before the Social Security Administration starts reducing your SSI monthly payment shouldn’t be considered a “work incentive.”

For despicable contrast, consider how America’s former Presidents are treated.

us-presidential-seal - Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

The Former Presidents Act of 1958 provides several benefits and perks that are available to Presidents after they leave office. Their biggest perk is an annual pension equal to the pay for a Cabinet Secretary, which is $221,400 in 2021. 

Widows of former Presidents are eligible for a $20,000 yearly pension. In addition, former Presidents and their spouses can opt to receive lifetime Secret Service protection.

According to the National Taxpayers Union Foundation, ex-Presidents are provided with:

  • Funding by the General Service Administration (GSA) to staff, set up and furnish an official office anywhere in the country.
  • Reimbursement for themselves and their staff up to $1 million annually for costs.
  • $500,000 a year for their spouses for official travel and security.
  • The guarantee of a funeral with full honors and burial, if they or their spouse wants it, at Arlington National Cemetery. 

Let’s go back 41 years–to the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, who served from 1981 to 1989.

  • Reagan believed that government should not help the impoverished.  Those who lacked wealth to buy such necessities as housing and medical insurance were written off as unimportant.
  • He claimed to be a “fiscal conservative.” But he drastically shrank the tax-base, bloated the defense budget and destroyed programs to benefit the poor and middle-class.
  • As a result, Reagan produced a $1 trillion deficit—which only the Clinton Administration eliminated.
  • Before his Presidency ended, 18 wealthy Californians contributed $156,000 apiece to buy him a 7,200 square-foot mansion overlooking Beverly Hills.
  • Reagan signed a multi-million dollar deal to write his Presidential memoirs and publish a collection of his speeches.
  • He signed an exclusive contract with a Washington lecture bureau, which paid him $50,000 per speech given in the United States and $100,000 overseas. This made him the highest-paid speaker in the country.
  • These monies came in addition to his Presidential pension of $99,500 a year for life and his $30,000 annual pension as a former governor of California.
  • At a cost to the government of $10 million annually, Reagan continued to receive lifetime Secret Service protection from 40 fulltime agents.

Ronald Reagan's presidential portrait, 1981

Ronald Reagan

According to a November 5,2020 article in USA Today:

Reagan had made money as a movie and TV actor for more than 20 years. He owned several pieces of real estate, including a 688-acre property near Santa Barbara, California. He also profited from his post-Presidential autobiography. 

Reagan had a peak net worth of $14.3 million.

After Reagan came George H.W. Bush (1989 – 1993).

Bush made his initial fortune running an offshore oil drilling company and owned millions of dollars worth of property, including an estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, which around the time of his death in November 2018, was valued at $13.5 million. Like most ex-Presidents, he authored his autobiography: All the Best.

His peak net worth: $26.6 million.

William Jefferson Clinton served from 1993 to 2001. 

Since leaving office, Clinton has made millions from his 2005 book My Life. But his wife, Hillary, provides most of his wealth. She reportedly received a $14 million advance for her 2014 memoir Hard Choices. She also made millions from paid speeches.

His peak net worth: $76.8 million. 

TWO VIRUSES, ONE CATASTROPHE: PART EIGHT (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 19, 2021 at 12:15 am

SACRIFICE YOUR CHILDREN FOR ME

On July 10, Paula Reid, White House correspondent for CBS News, warned on the PBS program, Washington Week.

“But one of the most significant things out of the administration this week is the fact that Dr. [Deborah] Birx [Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force] said that we really don’t have that much data on COVID in children because the under-10 set is really the least tested.”

Just as the ancient Canaanites sacrificed their children to the god Moloch, so President Donald J. Trump expected his followers—and opponents—to risk their children’s lives for him.  

Molech: Then and Now

A child sacrifice to Moloch

On August 10, CBS News reported:

“Nearly 100,000 children tested positive for the Coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics finds. Just over 97,000 children tested positive for the Coronavirus from July 16 to July 30, according to the association.”

By October, no vaccine had been invented. Nor had a national system of testing or contact tracing. 

Hospitals began overflowing with COVID cases. Doctors and nurses were overwhelmed with fatigue. Many of them had become COVID victims.

On October 20, more than 70,450 new coronavirus cases were reported in the United States in a day for the first time.

On October 25, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union”: “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas,”

By October 28, more than 8.8 million Americans had been diagnosed with COVID, and at least 227,673 had died from it.

Meanwhile, Trump kept barnstorming the country in a relentless re-election effort. Although infected with COVID-19 in September, he refused to wear a mask in public. His rallies reflected this same contempt for public health, with most attendees refusing to wear masks and/or socially distance.

Critics dubbed these rallies: “Super-spreader events.”

DECLARING VICTORY OVER CORONAVIRUS

In an October 27 press release from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy., “Advisor to the President” and First Daughter Ivanka Trump noted her father’s signature achievement:

“ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. From the outset of the COVID019 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive action to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat and defeat the disease.” 

Ivanka Trump has absolutely no scientific or technology background.

* * * * * * * * * *

Donald Trump has spent his life trading on the greed or fear of others. For example: 

  • Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi personally solicited a political contribution from Trump around the same time her office deliberated joining an investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University and its affiliates.
  • After Bondi dropped the Trump University case against Trump, he wrote her a $25,000 check for her re-election campaign. 
  • According to an April 14, 2019 story by ABC News, a nationwide review uncovered at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
  • In nine cases, attackers hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically assaulting victims. In 10 more cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior.

But in January, 2020, Trump confronted an enemy—to his re-election—that he couldn’t bribe or intimidate.

Unable to apply his trademark solutions, he was forced to improvise one attempted remedy after another. Chief among these:

  • Denial
  • Lies
  • Extortion
  • Propaganda as news
  • Attacking science
  • Reopening the country 
  • Resignation.

Ultimately, the virus—far more than Democratic nominee Joseph Biden—proved his fatal enemy.

Millions of Americans didn’t care that Trump had criminally fired an FBI director and tried to coerce the president of Ukraine to smear Biden. Nor that he had antagonized America’s closest allies while paying homage to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

But when COVID-19 wiped out their jobs, their children had to stay home because schools were closed, and they couldn’t pay their mortgage, Trump’s “President-for-Life” ambitions were doomed.

One of the harshest—and most poignant—attacks on Donald Trump came on August 17, 2020. It was delivered at the Democratic National Convention by Kristin Urquiza—the daughter of one of Trump’s 2016 supporters.

That supporter, Mark Anthony Urquiza, had died—from COVID-19.

Kristin Urquiza, MPA (she/her) on Twitter: "Yes, I'm boiled over. Thanks for sharing my dads obit. 💔 @MarkedByCovid… "

Kristin Urquiza

In early June, he contracted the disease, shortly after Arizona lifted its stay-at-home order. He visited a karaoke bar with friends—and died, alone, after five days on a ventilator.

“My dad, Mark Anthony Urquiza, should be here today, but he isn’t,” Kristin said during a televised segment. “He had faith in Donald Trump.

“He voted for him, listened to him, believed him and his mouthpieces when they said that Coronavirus was under control and going to disappear; that it was OK to end social distancing rules before it was safe; and that if you had no underlying health conditions, you’d probably be fine.

“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old. His only preexisting condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that he paid with his life.”   

That, ultimately, will be the real Trump legacy to America.

TWO VIRUSES, ONE CATASTROPHE: PART SEVEN (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 18, 2021 at 12:13 am

Once states across the country began “reopening,” President Donald J. Trump scheduled his first 2020 re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

DEFYING SCIENCE 

Then, to celebrate Independence Day, Trump scheduled yet another rally at Mount Rushmore, in Keystone, South Dakota, on July 3.

Although health experts expressed fears about large gatherings during the Coronavirus pandemic, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said people would “not be social distancing” during the celebration:

“In South Dakota, we’ve told people to focus on personal responsibility….Those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we won’t be social distancing.” 

“JUST LIVE WITH IT”

According to a July 3 story by NBC News: “Eager to move forward and reopen the economy amid a recession and a looming presidential election, the White House is now pushing acceptance. ‘The virus is with us, but we need to live with it,’ is how one official said the administration plans to message on the pandemic.” 

Administration officials would promote a new study they said showed promising results on therapeutics. They would also emphasize high survival rates, particularly for Americans who were within certain age groups and didn’t have underlying conditions.

On June 30, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified before the U.S. Senate: “We are now having 40-plus thousand new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around.” 

Fauci warned that the infection surge across the South and West “puts the entire country at risk.” Much of that increase was being fueled by young adults testing positive for COVID-19. 

The United States had become the country worst-affected by Coronavirus—with more than 6.88 million Americans diagnosed cases and at least 200,000 deaths. 

CHILD SACRIFICES

But Trump wanted children to return to school—and not through virtual classes at home.

And he wasn’t asking parents to send their children back to school after summer. He was ordering them to.

On July 8, 2020, he tweeted that he might withhold federal funding from schools that did not resume in-person classes this fall.

“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but is important for the children & families. May cut off funding if not open!” 

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Donald Trump

Most school funding in America comes from states and municipalities, not the federal government. Nonetheless, the White House was exploring ways to use the next Coronavirus relief bill to tie the slice of school funding that did come from Washington to the pace of different schools’ reopenings. 

And moments after making that threat, Trump said the guidelines of his own Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) for safely reopening schools were too expensive and impractical:

I disagree with @CDCgov on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools. While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!”

Among those guidelines: 

  • Schools should have markings on sidewalks and walls, that mark off six feet, and signs reminding students of protective measures.
  • Masks should be worn by students and faculty, “as feasible,” and especially when keeping a distance isn’t possible.
  • Sharing equipment, games and supplies should be avoided. If that’s not possible, they should be cleaned after each use.
  • Playgrounds, cafeterias and dining halls should be shut. Students eat in their classrooms.
  • Rooms should be well-ventilated.
  • Schools should allow sick staff members to “stay home when they are sick, have been exposed, or caring for someone who is sick,” without being punished for staying home.

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Coronavirus

Many Americans asked: “How can President Trump demand that children return to school in the midst of a deadly plague? Especially when we don’t have adequate testing facilities—and, most importantly, a reliable vaccine?” 

There was an answer—and it was brutally ugly. 

On July 10, Paula Reid, White House correspondent for CBS News, provided the answer on the PBS program, Washington Week:

“Well, up until now the administration has really deferred to local leaders to determine when they want to reopen their communities based on the situation on the ground.  But then you saw this week, when it comes to schools, the president issuing this broad mandate that all schools must open in the fall or else potentially he will cut funding, when in fact we know most schools are locally funded, and he’s also made other threats. 

Paula Reid on Twitter: "President Trump told me yesterday he's heard of oleandrin as potential therapeutic for Covid, but denied pressing FDA to approve. MyPillow CEO & Trump supporter Mike Lindell is

Paula Reid

“He’s made it clear that he is putting pressure on governors, and the question is: Why is he taking this approach to schools specifically when he’s deferred to states on so many other aspects of this pandemic? 

And just speaking with White House advisers, I’m told the president knows that in order to get parents back to work you need to get kids back to class, and for the president a lot of this is about hoping that that would give an economic boost to the U.S. ahead of his reelection in November.” 

For which he could then claim credit. 

TWO VIRUSES, ONE CATASTROPHE: PART SIX (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 17, 2021 at 12:11 am

THE DANGERS OF TRUMP’S QUACKERY

On April 23, President Donald Trump offered his own suggestions for how COVID-19 might be prevented or cured. His proposed remedies: Ultraviolet light and disinfectant. 

Medical experts found Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks no laughing matter. Several doctors warned the public against injecting disinfectant or using UV light.   

“It is incomprehensible to me that a moron like this holds the highest office in the land and that there exist people stupid enough to think this is OK,” said Walter Shaub, the former director of the Office of Government Ethics. “I can’t believe that in 2020 I have to caution anyone listening to the president that injecting disinfectant could kill you.”

Faced with public ridicule, Trump canceled a White House press briefing for the first time since Easter weekend. 

Instead, on April 25, he issued this tweet: “What is the purpose of having White House News Conferences when the Lamestream Media asks nothing but hostile questions, & then refuses to report the truth or facts accurately.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has urged Americans to wear masks and keep at least six feet from their fellows. And most of the nation’s governors have issued stay-at-home orders that ban large gatherings—including visits to parks and beaches.

CDC headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia

TRUMP’S DEFIANCE OF SCIENCE–AND LAW

Yet President Trump openly encouraged defiance of those orders.

On April 17, he issued a series of tweets to his supporters, encouraging them to defy the law:

“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” 

“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”

All these states had Democratic governors. Their residents were being urged to stay indoors, wear masks when they ventured outside and keep a six-feet distance between themselves and others. 

These states had been targeted for Right-wing protests—featuring large numbers of men and women standing close together, with most of them not wearing masks. They claim their “freedoms” are being infringed upon.

On April 17, Trump launched his latest effort to deal with Coronavirus:

He issued a series of tweets to his supporters, encouraging them to defy the stay-at-home laws of Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia.

Trump saw the stay-at-home orders as a two-fold threat to himself:

  1. He couldn’t return to his hate-filled rallies until these were lifted; and
  2. The stock market wouldn’t start soaring again so long as the country was “locked down.”

Without his Nuremberg-style rallies and a roaring stock market, Trump faced the danger of being a one-term President. 

Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia all had Democratic governors. They had urged their residents to stay indoors, wear masks when they ventured outside, and keep a six-feet distance between themselves and others. 

As a result, those governors—especially Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer—were being targeted for abuse and even death threats. And their states were facing disruptive protests by large numbers of Right-wingers standing close together, with few of them wearing masks. The protesters claimed their rights were being infringed upon.  

Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, the Right has demanded that even women who are pregnant due to rape or incest carry the fetus to term. Yet now that Right-wingers are being asked to wear masks in public—to protect themselves and others from a deadly plague—they’ve suddenly discovered the mantra: “It’s my body!”

Writer Steven Pressfield summed up the immorality of these protests: “Why are we asked to wear surgical or face masks in public, to practice social distancing and to observe self-quarantining? Because these practices are not for the individual alone but for the protection of the whole [community].”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee tweeted: “The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19.

“His unhinged rantings and calls for people to ‘liberate’ states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before.”

Once states across the country began “reopening,” Trump scheduled his first 2020 re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

It was held on June 20 at the BOK Center.

Scientists had learned that Coronavirus is more likely to be transmitted indoors than outdoors, when masses of people are packed together, and when people are loudly talking—or, worse, shouting. This is especially true when they’re not wearing masks.

Masks were available for those who wanted them, but Trump made it clear that his supporters shouldn’t wear masks, as a sign of support for him. Thus, his egomania literally put the lives of his most devoted followers at risk.

Photos of the rally show men and women densely packed together, with none of them wearing masks.

The Trump campaign boasted that 100,000 people would turn up. To its embarrassment, fewer than 6,200 did. Even worse: At least eight event staff members, including two who were at the rally, later tested positive for COVID-19.

Trump rallies supporters in Wis. as Democrats debate in Iowa

A Trump rally

The Tulsa event was followed by another indoor rally in Phoenix on June 23. “Students for Trump” featured a packed crowd, with almost no one wearing masks.

Then, to celebrate Independence Day, Trump scheduled yet another rally at Mount Rushmore, in Keystone, South Dakota, on July 3. 

TWO VIRUSES, ONE CATASTROPHE: PART FIVE (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 16, 2021 at 12:03 am

The Trump administration seized vitally-needed medical supplies in at least seven states. FEMA did not publicly report the thefts, despite the outlay of millions of dollars of taxpayer money. Nor did the administration explain how it decided which supplies to seize and where to reroute them.

Richardson County FEMA office open until April 26 - Falls City Journal

SEIZING STATES’ MEDICAL SUPPLIES

The Federal Government did not inform states whose supplies it seized if they would receive the materials they ordered and paid for. That fueled concerns about whether the Trump administration was fairly distributing scarce medical supplies.

“We can’t get any answers,” said a California hospital official who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation from the White House.

President Donald Trump said it was the states’ responsibility to obtain critically-needed medical supplies. But when they weren’t outbid by the Federal Government, hospital systems and states found their shipments of medical supplies seized with no explanation.

Where did those supplies go?

To China?

To Trump’s private warehouses?

To Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law, for sale on the black market?

No one as yet knows.

A March 2 Washington Monthly story concluded ominously: “What if the White House simply gives all the masks and ventilators to red states and counties, leaving blue ones to struggle? What mechanisms of accountability are left?

“U.S. democracy wasn’t set up to deal with a president openly behaving like a James Bond villain while being protected by a political party behaving more like a mafia than a civic institution.”     

PROPAGANDA AS “NEWS”

After Easter weekend, Trump began holding daily press briefings at the White House. 

Their official purpose: To update the country on the administration’s ongoing response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Their real purpose: To serve as a substitute for Trump’s hate-filled political rallies, which resembled those staged by Germany’s Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, at Nuremberg.

These had been temporarily cancelled due to demands for social distancing to stem the rising tide of the COVID-19 pandemic. That had been Trump’s primary reason for seeking to end social distancing.

The White House tried hard to stage-manage these appearances. For example, on April 14, 2020, Trump interrupted the question-and-answer session by cutting to a White House-produced video to try to shame the media for critical coverage of his response to the crisis. 

Symptoms of coronavirus disease 2019 4.0.svg

On April 26, The New York Times ran a story entitled: “Self-praise, hubris and self-pity: Examining 260,000 words about the Coronavirus from President Trump.” Summing up the image that Trump has tried to present of himself to the world, the Times concluded: 

“The self-regard, the credit-taking, the audacious rewriting of recent history to cast himself as the hero of the pandemic rather than the president who was slow to respond: Such have been the defining features of Trump’s use of the bully pulpit during the coronavirus outbreak….

“By far the most recurring utterances from Trump in the [White House] briefings are self-congratulations, roughly 600 of them, which are often predicated on exaggerations and falsehoods….

“Trump’s attempts to display empathy or appeal to national unity (about 160 instances) amount to only a quarter of the number of times he complimented himself or a top member of his team.” 

QUACKERY AS “MEDICINE”

On April 23, Trump ventured into the equivalent of a PR minefield—and stepped on a mine of his own making.

After musing on new government research into how the virus reacts to different temperatures, climates and surfaces, Trump said: “So I asked Bill [William N. Bryan, acting Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security] a question….

“So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous—whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light—and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it.  And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too.  It sounds interesting.

“And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute! And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds interesting to me.”

Trump was clearly seeking agreement with his latest medical theory. But Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Task Force response coordinator, remained silent.

The Internet—and medical experts—did not.

On Twitter—the social media platform Trump routinely uses to attack everyone he hates—his suggestion that injecting disinfectants could treat Coronavirus drew scorn and ridicule.

One tweet showed Trump as a doctor hovering over a patient and saying: “Once I’ve pumped you full of disinfectant, I’ll zap you with this UV torch until you’re cured.”

Another meme featured Trump as Marie Antoinette saying: “Let them eat Clorox.”

Clorox Disinfecting Bleach, Regular - 121 Ounce Bottle - Walmart ...

Medical experts found Trump’s off-the-cuff remarks no laughing matter. Several doctors warned the public against injecting disinfectant or using UV light.   

TWO VIRUSES, ONE CATASTROPHE: PART FOUR (OF EIGHT)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 15, 2021 at 12:07 am

“O happy posterity, who will look upon our testimony as a fable. Will posterity believe that there was a time when, with no deluge from heaven, no worldwide conflagration, no wars….but almost the whole earth was depopulated? Was such a disaster ever seen, even heard of?”
—Francesco Petrach, poet and witness to The Black Death

Like Nazi Germany’s Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, President Donald Trump liked 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 created needless duplication of efforts and wasted resources. But it ensured that Trump—like Hitler—remained the final voice of authority, since so many others were competing for his favor and direction. 

This did not, however, help the 50 states that comprise 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 demanded that each state was responsible for securing its needed supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for its doctors and nurses aiding Coronavirus patients. This created a dog-eat-dog atmosphere of cutthroat competition and scarcity, with Americans fighting the virus and each other. 

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

USING A PLAGUE TO DESTROY AMERICANS

Even worse: Trump and Republicans turned a deadly plague into a weapon against those Americans they hated.  

On March 26, 2020, 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—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 shed 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.

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

The Black Hand

SEIZING STATES’ MEDICAL SUPPLIES

Trump didn’t simply refuse to provide states with vitally-needed medical supplies—he illegally seized those supplies that states had ordered.

An April 20 Forbes story offered 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

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