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REPUBLICANS’ NEXT TARGET: DEMOCRACY: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 21, 2022 at 12:14 am

For decades, many dissatisfied voters have argued there’s no real difference between the Democratic and Republican parties.

So Rick Scott, former governor of Florida and now a United States Senator from that state, has decided to prove there is a difference between him and every other Presidential candidate.

With the next Presidential election approaching in less than two years, Scott is positioning himself to be the next Republican nominee for that office.

That’s why Scott has crafted “An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America.”

It merits close inspection—because if Scott or someone else with his agenda becomes President of the United States with a united Republican House and Senate behind him, this country will become  entirely different from the one that exists today. 

It was to prevent that from happening that millions of Democrats—joined by independents and moderate Republicans—turned out in unprecedented numbers on November 8. 

For months, Republicans had been predicting that a “Red wave” would sweep Democrats from local, state and Federal offices across the country. Their strategy centered on propagating “The Big Lie” that President Donald Trump was robbed of victory in 2020 by massive voter fraud.

This was of course the authentic voice of former President Trump. Despite four years of lies, crime and treason, he remains in command of the Republican party.

And how did that strategy work out? No candidate who denied the legitimacy of the 2020 election won a 2022 race to run future elections in a swing state.

These include:

  • Eight nominees for state elections chief;
  • Thirteen nominees for governor;
  • Eight nominees for United States Senator.

Official Portrait of Senator Rick Scott (R-FL).jpg

Rick Scott

Republicans have been stunned by their unexpected losses. The party out of power usually does well in midterm elections. Add to this the fact that President Joe Biden was widely seen as unpopular even among Democrats—and therefore vulnerable.

Nevertheless, Scott remains convinced that he has crafted the winning formula for Republicans—and for his election as President in 2024.

Its provisions follow.

Point 1: Our kids will say the pledge of allegiance, salute the Flag, learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that best fits them. 

Like so many Right-wingers, Scott is apparently unaware that the Pledge of Allegiance was written in August, 1892, by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy. He hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country, not just the United States.

Francis Bellamy

In its original form it read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” to distinguish Americans from “Godless” Communists.

“Learn that America is a great country” conjures up images of the propaganda force-fed to students of the former Soviet Union—and now in Russia. Just as Russians are taught that their military has never fought an aggressive war, so, too, do Republicans want to erase the subject of slavery and its long-term effects on society from American classrooms

Point 2: Government will never again ask American citizens to disclose their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government forms. 

Republicans have made race—as a source of friction between voters—a crucial part of their electoral campaigns. As far back as 1968, Richard Nixon campaigned on a “Southern strategy”—of stoking white fears of blacks. 

It was this that won Nixon the Presidency in 1968 and 1972 and the White House for George H.W. Bush in 1988.

As blacks have gained in population and political clout, they have been succeeded by Hispanics as the Great Enemy for Republicans.

The top priority for Donald Trump—both as a Presidential candidate and President—was building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. That this would not have stopped illegal immigration meant nothing to him—or his millions of Right-wing followers.

Without a way to track the growth rates of nonwhites, Republicans won’t know how to target their self-declared enemies.

Point 3: The soft-on-crime days of coddling criminal behavior will end. We will re-fund and respect the police because they, not the criminals, are the good guys. 

On January 6, 2021, “law and order” President Donald Trump incited a mob to attack the United States Capitol Building. Inside, members of Congress were meeting to count and certify Electoral College votes for the 2020 Presidential election.

Trump had clearly lost that election in November, yet for the previous two months he had repeatedly and falsely claimed he was the victim of a “rigged” election. His followers, believing that lie, intended to overturn the results of a legitimate election. 

After more than three hours, police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. More than 150 officers were injured in the attack by “law and order” Republicans.

January 6, 2021 coup attempt 

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

Even after the failed coup, 147 House and Senate Republicans voted to overturn the election.

Not the sort of behavior calculated to instill respect for the rule of law.

DEMOCRACY’S SAVIOR: PART TWO (END)

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

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

The result: He lost the 2020 Presidential election.

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

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

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

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

Chris Krebs

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

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

On November 17, Trump fired Chris Krebs.

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

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

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

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Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image result for Images of hangman's noose outside Capitol Building riot

The “Jolly Roger” meets Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

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

DEMOCRACY’S SAVIOR: PART ONE (OF TWO)

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

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

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

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

Time Magazine logo.svg

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

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

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

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

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

And there Trump won: 304 to 227. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Krebs official photo.jpg

Chris Krebs

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

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

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

Krebs’ to-do list included paper ballots:

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

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

Krebs’ duties included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE COMINIG DICTATORS’ BLOODBATH: PART THREE (END)

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

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

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

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

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

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Maggie Haberman 

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

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

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

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

President Roosevelt - Pach Bros (cropped).jpg

Theodore Roosevelt

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

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

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

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

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

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

Among his outrages:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He has not. 

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Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nicole Hemmer (@pastpunditry) / Twitter

Nichole Hemmer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gov Ron DeSantis Portrait.jpg

Ron DeSantis

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

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

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

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

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

Schools:  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump

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

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

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

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

By “loyalty” Trump meant: Loyalty to himself.

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

And that was not the response that DeSantis gave.

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

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

New York Post.svg

New York Post, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CASEY: He reads stories.

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

CASEY: He’s teaching Madison to talk.

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

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

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

CASEY: I just thought you should know.

SECRETS OF THE 2020 MIDTERMS

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

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

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

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

  • Inflation;
  • Crime;
  • Illegal immigration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A photograph of Mohammed bin Salman aged 34

Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AR-15 Rifle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

VOTERS’ CHOICE: FREEDOM–OR FASCISM

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

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

And it opened:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

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

Republican Disc.svg

GOP logo.svg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which is exactly what they intend to do.

* * * * *

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

It’s the polarization between

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

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

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

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

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

There is no middle ground. 

THE FALSE REALITY OF REAL ID

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMERICA’S BRUSH WITH ARMAGEDDON: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on October 21, 2022 at 12:10 am

“John and Robert Kennedy knew what they were doing.  They waged a vicious war against Fidel Castro—a war someone had to lose.”

And the loser turned out to be John F. Kennedy.

So writes investigative reporter Gus Russo in Live By the Sword: The Secret War Against Castro and the Death of JFK, published in 1998.

In what is almost certainly the definitive account of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Russo reaches some startling—but highly documented—conclusions:

  • Lee Harvey Oswald assassinated Kennedy.
  • He did it alone.
  • Oswald, a former Marine, was a committed Marxist–whose hero was Castro.
  • The CIA’s ongoing campaign to overthrow and/or assassinate Castro was an open secret throughout the Gulf.
  • Oswald visited New Orleans in the spring of 1963.
  • There he learned that Castro was in the crosshairs of the CIA.
  • Oswald told his Russian-born wife, Marina: “Fidel Castro needs defenders. I’m going to join his army of volunteers.”
  • Jack Ruby, a Dallas nightclub owner, murdered Oswald because he was distraught over Kennedy’s death.
  • Ruby was not part of a Mafia conspiracy to silence Oswald.
  • Skeptics of the Warren Commission—which concluded that Oswald had acted alone—asked the wrong question: “Who killed Kennedy?”
  • They should have asked: “Why was he killed?”
  • The answer–according to Russo: “The Kennedys’ relentless pursuit of Castro and Cuba backfired in tragedy on that terrible day in November, 1963.”

Another book well worth reading about America’s Cuban obsession during the early 1960s is American Tabloid, by James Ellroy.

Although a novel, it vividly captures the atmosphere of intrigue, danger and sleaziness that permeated that era in a way that dry, historical documents never can.

“The 50’s are finished,” reads its paperback dust jacket. “Zealous young lawyer Robert Kennedy has a red-hot jones to nail Jimmy Hoffa. JFK has his eyes on the Oval Office.

“J. Edgar Hoover is swooping down on the Red Menace. Howard Hughes is dodging subpoenas and digging up Kennedy dirt. And Castro is mopping up the bloody aftermath of his new Communist nation….

“Mob bosses, politicos, snitches, psychos, fall guys and femmes fatale. They’re mixing up a Molotov cocktail guaranteed to end the country’s innocence with a bang.”

Among the legacies of America’s twisted romance with anti-Castro Cubans:

  • Following the JFK assassination, there was a coverup.
  • Its purposes: To protect the reputation of the United States government–and that of its newly-martyred President.
  • Thus, the CIA and FBI concealed the CIA-Mafia assassination plots from the Warren Commission assigned to investigate Kennedy’s murder.
  • Other government officials participating in the coverup included Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and President Lyndon B. Johnson.
  • Ironically, this secrecy ignited the widespread—and false—belief that the President had died at the hands of a government conspiracy.
  • Robert Kennedy feared that his relentless pursuit of Castro might have led Castro to “take out” JFK first.
  • Fearing his own assassination if he continued Kennedy’s efforts to murder Castro, President Johnson ordered the CIA to halt its campaign to overthrow and/or assassinate the Cuban leader.
  • The huge Cuban community throughout Florida—and especially Miami—continues to exert a blackmailing influence on American politics.
  • Right-wing politicians from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump have reaped electoral rewards by catering to the demands of this hate-obsessed voting block.
  • These Cuban ex-patriots hope that the United States will launch a full-scale military invasion of the island to remove Castro.

The Cuban Missile Crisis was the deadliest moment of the Cold War, when the world stood only minutes away from nuclear Armageddon.

That crisis stemmed from America’s twisted obsession with Cuba, an obsession that continues today.

Sixty years after that crisis, the world wonders: Is nuclear war about to erupt? 

And, once again, that decision lies in the hands of two men—Vladimir Putin and Joe Biden—out of a world population of more than seven billion. 

Since launching a war on Ukraine on February 24, Putin has seen his initial victories turn sour.

By July, after five months of fierce Ukrainian resistance, the Russians were stymied as they tried to conquer the remainder of Donbas. In late August, Ukraine launched a counteroffensive in the southern region of Kherson.

By September, Ukrainian forces recaptured much of the northeastern Kharkiv region, including the city of Izium, which  the Russians had been using as a logistics hub.

On September 21, Putin announced the partial mobilization of 300,000 military reservists. All male citizens below 60 are now eligible to be drafted. This led at least 194,000 Russian men to seek refuge in such neighboring countries as Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

That same day, Putin warned that Russia commands a nuclear arsenal. He did not say whether he would turn it against Ukraine or NATO countries, including the United States.

Even if nukes were used only against Ukraine, the final result could be a full-scale nuclear war.

Interviewed on CNN, President Joe Biden described Putin thus: “I think he is a rational actor who has miscalculated significantly.” 

Nikita Khrushchev, facing a choice of humiliation or Armageddon during the Cuban Missile Crisis, chose humiliation—so his country could live another day. 

It remains to be seen if Vladimir Putin is willing to make the same decision.

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