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THE MOST DANGEROUS MOMENT: PART TWO (END)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on November 7, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Oligarchy: a government in which a small group exercises control, especially for corrupt and selfish purposes.

The returns are in.

And Barack Obama has been re-elected to another four years as President of the United States.

For his supporters, it is a time to celebrate.

For his enemies–and that is exactly how they consider themselves–in the Republican party, it is a time to mourn.  And to re-group to take vengeance in the coming months and years.

For the United States Secret Service, it should be a time for the most heightened security.

Make no mistake: Republicans were counting on Mitt Romney to return their party to the heights of absolute power:

  • Commanding the White House and the House of Representatives, they would have dictated American foreign and domestic policy for at least the next four years–and more likely, the next eight.
  • And even though Democrats were expected to retain control of the Senate, there would have been enough Republicans in it to thwart any legislative efforts proposed by Democrats.
  • Romney would have been able to appoint Justices to the Supreme Court–which, by itself, would have influenced American legal and social life for up to 30 years.

And Republicans were counting on more than simply access to unlimited money to defeat Obama.  A major part of their electoral strategy called for suppressing the rights of minorities to vote.

Mike Turzai, Majority Leader of Pennsylvania’s state House of Representatives, admitted this when he outlined a list of accomplishments made by the GOP-run legislature: “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.”

So there will definitely be recriminations.

Many–perhaps most–Republicans will blame Romney for not having been “severely conservative” enough.

They’ll demand that their next Presidential nominee be even more right-wing in his stands on issues.

How right-wing?  Right-wing enough to win the endorsement of classic Fascist leaders like Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco.

A minority will argue–probably in vain–that the party must reach out to youth, blacks, moderate women and–most especially–Latinos.

They will warn: “The days of depending on a whites-only electorate have passed.  And if we don’t own up to this, we, as a party, will also become history.”

For the moment, however, the smart money will be on those hard-core Rightists who control the levers of power within the party.

They will bitterly resist making such “radical” changes.  Partly because they are driven by fascistic ideology.  And partly because they know the activist base of the party is equally driven by the same ideology.

So, for the foreseeable future, they will aim the majority of their anger and disappointment at President Obama.  And so will their “billionaire boys club” financial backers.

Thus, the second threat facing President Obama could be an attempted assassination.

Think of it:

  • Right-wing billionaires were thrilled with the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which ended limits on campaign donations.
  • During the primary season, at least 32 billionaires lavished a minimum of $52 million to Restore Our Future, a super PAC supporting Mitt Romney.
  • To those losses must now be added the huge returns they expected to make on their investment–in tax breaks for their corporations and tax cuts for themselves.
  • Coal and oil companies were salivating over the coming dismantling of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Federally protected areas–such as the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska–would become prime drilling spots.
  • To greed-obsessed Rightists, the words of Niccolo Machiavelli apply with a vengeance: “Men forget more easily the death of their father than the loss of their inheritance.”
  • A number of wealthy right-wingers head private military companies employing former members of such elite military units as Navy SEALS and Army Green Berets.  Many of these companies received millions of dollars in government contracts to supply “hired guns” in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Such CEOs command both the financial and personnel resources to carry out a Presidential assassination
  • “Money buys power,” warns Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist.  “And the increasing wealth of a tiny minority has effectively bought the allegiance of one of our two major political parties.”
  • Access to such unlimited money–and the ideological conviction that they are doing God’s work–might convince some of these oligarchs that they could mount a Presidential assassination–and then buy the legal and/or political protection necessary to get away with it.

Organized crime expert G. Robert Blakey–the former Justice Department official who created the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act–believes that just this happened almost 50 years ago.

President John F. Kennedy had given his brother, Robert, full power as Attorney General to destroy the Mafia.

But the Mafia, Blakey believes, used its own access to unlimited money and assassins to destroy the President.  And then the mobsters used that same unlimited money to buy legal and political influence to escape prosecution.

Such an outrage must not be allowed to happen now.

THE MOST DANGEROUS MOMENT: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on November 6, 2012 at 2:38 pm

If Barack Obama is re-elected President on November 6, the result will be “civil war” within the Republican Party.

That is the prediction of POLITICO and a number of other politics-following pundits, such as Chris Matthews of MSNBC’s “Hardball.”

But if he wins another four years in office, the President could face unprecedented threats to his authority–and safety.

Among the results of this Republican “civil war” predicted by POLITICO: A clash between

  • moderates and right-wingers
  • those who are concerned about fiscal issues and those concerned about social issues
  • anti-establishment Tea Party members and establishment-order Republicans
  • those favoring amnesty for illegal aliens to expand the party base and those demanding wholesale deportation of such aliens.

If Romney fails to win the White House, there will definitely be many Republicans who call for “death to moderates and moderation.”

Or, as another failed Republican Presidential candidate, Barry Goldwater, put it in 1964: “Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

But the unleashed passions of a Romney defeat could result in more than a Republican implosion.  They could also release the most dangerous types of explosion–aimed at President Obama.

The first of these threats could be an attempted impeachment. 

While this may sound beyond the realm of possibility, some Republicans have openly salivated over the prospect of railroading the President out of office.

On August 16, 2011, Republican Presidential candidate Herman Cain said that impeaching Obama “would be a great thing to do.”

Asked on a conference call with bloggers why Republicans couldn’t just impeach Obama, Cain responded:

“That’s a great question and it is a great–it would be a great thing to do, but because the Senate is controlled by Democrats we would never be able to get the Senate first to take up that action, because they simply don’t care what the American public thinks.

“So the main stumbling block in terms of getting him impeached on a whole list of things such as trying to pass a health care mandate which is unconstitutional, ordering the Department of Justice to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act–that’s an impeachable offense right there.

“There are a number of things where a case could be made in order to impeach him, but because Republicans do not control the United States Senate, they would never allow it to get off the ground.”

Not being able to impeach Obama, Republicans have settled for everything else short of that.

During the 2012 Presidential race, Republicans have accused Obama of a lack of “bipartisanship.”  Romney has repeatedly promised to “work across the aisle” with Democrats if elected.

Yet it was a high-ranking Republican who gave away the game.

In an interview with National Journal magazine published October 23, 2010, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Republicans have worked tirelessly to defeat Obama’s efforts to provide universal healthcare for those who can’t afford expensive medical insurance.

They spread the false report that the new healthcare law would come with “death panels” to direct Americans to euthanasia centers.

They also directed their followers to disrupt town hall meetings of Democratic Congressmen and Senators where the proposed law would be discussed.  Several such meetings had to be canceled due to verbal or even physical outbursts aimed at those presiding.

A number of Democratic Senators and Congressmen received violent threats and/or their offices or campaign headquarters were  vandalized.

President Obama himself came in for smears of the most scurrilous sort.  According to Republicans and their right-wing allies:

  • Obama was born in Kenya–despite a Hawaiian birth certificate proving his American citizenship.
  • He was a Nazi, and thus often depicted in posters wearing a Hitler mustache.
  • He was a Muslim–despite his having been a member of the United Church of Christ for 20 years.
  • He was collaborating with America’s Muslim enemies in Al Qaeda–despite his ordering the killing of Osama bin Laden and killing far more Al Qaeda leaders with pilotless drones than George W. Bush had.

Republicans refused to give Obama credit for anything.

  • When he ordered the successful Navy SEALS raid on bin Laden, rightists claimed: “The SEALS took out bin Laden, not Obama.”  True–except that the SEALS wouldn’t have made the raid had Obama not ordered it.
  • When the Bureau of Labor Statistics said that unemployment was high, Republicans blamed Obama’s “anti-business” policies.
  • When, later, many businesses started hiring, Republicans claimed this proved the free enterprise system could overcome any difficulties.
  • Republicans didn’t object to George W. Bush’s lying the United States into a needless war with Iraq by claiming that Saddam Hussein had been a party to 9/11–and was building a nuclear bomb.
  • When Obama began withdrawing troops from Iraq, Republicans attacked him for “losing Iraq,” as though that country was ours to lose.

LINCOLN WOULD BE WEEPING

In History, Politics on May 15, 2012 at 12:01 am

Just how radical are today’s Republicans?

A better question might be: Does the philosophy of today’s Republican Party reflect the principles outlined in the last, justifiably famous paragraph of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inagural Address?

The end of the Civil War was finally coming into view when Lincoln delivered this address on March 4, 1865.  So his words must be taken as evidence of the sort of Nation he intended to rebuild once the fighting ceased:

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in–to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan; to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Now consider the following sentiments expressed by today’s Republican candidates–and their supporters:

  • During the September 7, 2011 GOP debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, the moderator, NBC’s Brian Williams, told Texas Governor Rick Perry:

“Your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times….”

Suddenly, the right-wing audience broke into cheers and applause, interrupting Williams’ question.

“Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent?” asked Williams.

“No, sir, I’ve never struggled with that at all,” answered Perry.

  • During the September 12, 2011 GOP Presidential debate in Tampa, Florida, CNN correspondent Wolf Blitzer asked Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas): “What do you tell a guy who is sick, goes into a coma and doesn’t have health insurance? Who pays for his coverage?”

When Paul fumbled for an answer, Blitzer persisted: “Are you saying society should just let him die?”

“Yeah!” several members of the right-wing crowd yelled out.

  • On September 22, 2011, the audience at the Republican Presidential debate in Orlando, Florida, jeered an openly gay soldier stationed in Iraq. 

He had just asked, through a video connection, if any of the candidates would, if President, reinstate the just-repealed “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell” law that had banned gays from serving in the military.

Not one of the candidates objected to the disrespect shown a soldier who was then serving his country in an extremely dangerous part of the world.  And all the candidates made it clear that, if elected, they would reinstate DADT.

  • On May 10, 2012, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives voted to slash Medicaid, benefits for federal workers and programs to help feed hungry Americans–all to spare the military’s growing budget from mandatory cuts. 

Under the deal reached last summer, $1.2 trillion must be “sequestered”–cut–from the budget over the next 10 years, with about half coming from the military.

Such reductions would still allow the defense budget to grow by 20%.

Rather than decrease military spending, the Republican plan

  • cuts $83 billion in federal retirement benefits (equivalent to about a 5 percent pay cut);
  • saves $49 billion by capping medical malpractice lawsuits;
  • slashes about $48 billion from Medicaid programs;
  • cuts food aid by more than $36 billion;
  • tightens enforcement of eligibility rules for the Food Stamp program, and guts a 2009 benefit increase, costing a family of four $57 a month.

Fully 25% of the cuts come from programs that benefit the poor–such as Meals on Wheels for the elderly, child care and child abuse prevention.

So add it up:

  • Rick Perry’s Tea Party supporters cheer at the thought of 234 men and women executed by the State.
  • Perry utterly rejects the possibility that “any one of those might have been innocent” to more Tea Party cheers.
  • Ron Paul’s Tea Party supporters cheer at the thought of letting an uninsured patient die rather than save his life through public-funded coverage.
  • A Republican audience boos a soldier serving in Iraq when he declares himself openly gay.
  • The Republican House of Representatives votes to drastically slash programs to aid the poor so the over-bloated military budget can remain unscathed.

Then ask yourself two questions:

  1. Is today’s Republican Party one that Abraham Lincoln would be proud to lead?
  2. Does the Republican Party’s vision of America reflect any of the values expressed in Lincoln’s Second Inagural Address?

A truly honest answer to both questions would have to be: NO.

MACHIAVELLI: SOME HELPFUL ADVICE FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA–PART TWO

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on June 8, 2010 at 5:39 pm

From: Niccolo Machiavelli
To: President Barack Obama

In my last letter to you, Mr. President, I noted that Columnist Jonathan Berr advised you to “really crank up your energy level” in criticizing those responsible for the BP oil spill.

I do not share Berr’s opinion that losing your temper in public would prove helpful. On the contrary, as I stated in my book, The Discourses, which outlines how to preserve liberty within a republic:

A truly great man is ever the same under all circumstances. And if his fortune varies, exalting him at one moment and oppressing him at another, he himself never varies, but always preserves a firm courage, which is so closely interwoven with his character that everyone can readily see that the fickleness of fortune has no power over him.

On the other hand, your countrymen are long overdue for a White House history lesson–conducted directly from the Oval Office–on who is truly responsible for the current crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

Consider the following examples:

While Hurricane Katrina–to which the BP crisis has been repeatedly compared–was created by Nature, the BP disaster was created by the secret bureaucratic maneuvers of the Bush administration.

• Halliburton–a market leader in the energy sector–gave its former CEO, Dick Cheney, a check for $34 million after he was nominated as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate in 2000. Had this happened in any other country, the American media would have denounced it as a bribe to influence public policy.

• Soon after Cheney took office as Vice President, Minerals Management Service (MMS), the division of the Department of the Interior responsible for ensuring safety in oil-drilling operations, got two new high-ranking appointees. Both turned out to have a history of working for Halliburton. Their job: To oversee their own “former” employer.

• MMS declined to mandate certain safety devices required on offshore rigs in other countries and gave BP “a categorical exclusion” from the National Environmental Policy Act in 2009. This allowed BP to drill in 5,000 feet of water without requiring a detailed environmental impact analysis. BP’s exploration plan called the prospect of an oil spill “unlikely.”

• As if that weren’t bad enough, in 2008, Interior Department Inspector General Earl Devaney found that MMS employees in the division that gathers fees had sex with and accepted gifts from industry contacts while failing to collect almost $200 million due from energy companies.

• In addition, Vice President Cheney created an “energy task force” whose members consisted entirely of representatives of the oil, gas and nuclear energy industries. No environmental-protection groups were invited to attend. And no members of the media were allowed to monitor these secret meetings. Energy regulations were drafted by the very companies the government was supposed to be regulating.

• The Cheney policies of environmental pillage recieved strong and widespread support from influential Republicans, such as Columnist Ann Coulter, who said: “The lower species are here for our use. God said so: ‘Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet–it’s yours.’ That’s our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars–that’s the Biblical view.”

• And Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin gave her own blessing to oil drilling–off-shore and on-shore–when she coined the now-infamous war-cry, “Drill, baby, drill!” It was a guaranteed crowd-pleaser at Republican rallies. For some reason, however, it has now completely vanished from Republican political events.

In presenting this history, Mr. President, you should boldly place blame on where–and whom–it lies. Your predacessor, Bill Clinton, had such an opportunity in 1994, at the funeral of his predacessor, Richard Nixon. And he blew it.

He could have reminded his countrymen how lucky they were that this hypocritical arch-criminal had been forced to resign from office. He could have spoken of the triumph of a free press and judiciary and Congress over a power-crazed felon.

Instead, Clinton’s eulogy resembled one that might have been given for Adolf Hitler–had he died of natural causes 20 years after the Third Reich collapsed. Imagine Hitler’s surviving henchmen gathered at his gravesite and calling up fond memories of “the Fuhrer’s great heart” and speaking reverently of what he “meant to do” instead of the infamy and death and suffering he left as his legacy.

Finally–for now–Mr. President, you must take heed of the warning I gave you in my earlier book, The Prince:

“Men love at their own free will, but fear at the will of the prince, and a wise prince must rely on what is in his power and not on what is in the power of others.”

In short, Mr. President, you must abandon your instinctive trait of turning the other cheek when attacked by arrogant and ruthless enemies. As I have earlier advised you:

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

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