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REPUBLICANS: BORROWING A PAGE FROM THE NAZIS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 23, 2021 at 12:09 am

On June 22, 1941, three million German soldiers slashed their way into the Soviet Union. The Third Reich was now locked in a death-struggle with a nation even more powerful than itself. 

During the first six months of the invasion, the Wehrmacht took an estimated 5.7 million Russian prisoners. The Germans imprisoned their captives behind barbed wire and deprived them of food and medical care. 

Between starvation, illness and the brutal Russian cold, at least 3.5 million POWs died in custody.

June 22, 1941. Nazi SOB Hitler invaded the kingdom of the Soviet SOB Stalin. - Album on Imgur

Soviet POWs

Today’s equally Fascistic Republicans have learned a valuable lesson from this: If you simply deprive those you detest of food, clothing and shelter, you don’t need gas chambers or firing squads. 

And that is why they have fervently tried to overturn the Affordable Care Act since it went into effect in 2010.

Republicans actually have two constituencies:

  1. The 1% richest; and
  2. Millions of poor, white, mostly elderly Right-wing men and women.

The richest 1% are too smart to be fobbed off with mere appeals to their hatreds. They demand tangible benefits—such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which became law on December 22, 2017.

This:

  • Cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent;
  • Benefitted overwhelmingly wealthy shareholders and highly-paid executives; and
  • Left behind low- and moderate-income Americans—and in many ways hurt them.

But poor and middle-class Republican voters can be satisfied with appeals to their racism, fear and hatred.

The targets of their hatred include:

  • “Uppity” women
  • Blacks
  • Liberals
  • Hispanics
  • Democrats
  • Asians
  • Muslims
  • The news media

They see government programs as helping those they most detest—especially blacks and Hispanics.

By cutting off their access to the vital necessities of life—food, housing, medical care—the Republican base expects large numbers of them to die off. 

And Republican politicians understand this. Which is why they constantly oppose programs that provide those necessities.

Of course, Republican politicians will never admit this. Their mantra has always been they fear such programs will bankrupt the country.

That claim might have credibility—if they didn’t recklessly plunge into budget-busting wars like the 2003 Iraq war started by President George W. Bush. Not a single Republican opposed this needless, bloody conflict—which has cost the United States more than $1.1 trillion.

But the best evidence of Republicans’ desire to use illness as a weapon against those Americans they hate comes from former President Donald J. Trump. 

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

On March 27, 2020, during his press briefing, Trump said he told Vice President Mike Pence—then officially in charge of the White House’s Coronavirus response effort—to not call Democratic Governors Jay Inslee (WA) and Gretchen Whitmer (MI) because they weren’t “appreciative” enough of his efforts:

“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.”

Echoing French King Louis X1V’s infamous remark—“I am the State”—Trump added:

“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.”

Trump said this even as hospitals in Washington and Michigan were being overwhelmed with Coronavirus patients.

That same day—March 27—Whitmer told a Michigan 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

Julia Pickett / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

A March 29, 2020 story in the Washington Monthly sheds light on what lay behind Whitmer’s inability to secure desperately-needed ventilators from her longtime vendors. Its headline ran: “What If Trump Decides to Save Republicans But Not Democrats?”

And it was followed by a sub-headline: “He’s providing vital resources to red states and ignoring blue states.”

Florida submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (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.

It received an identical shipment on March 23, and was soon awaiting a third.

In 2019, Trump demanded a “favor” from the embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—“dirt” on Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden—in return for releasing military aid Ukraine needed to combat an increasingly aggressive Russia.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, he demanded Democratic governors praise him and blame themselves if they waned their citizens to receive desperately-needed medical supplies.

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.” 

This is precisely the dictatorial arrogance of which Republicans falsely accused President Barack Obama.

The Washington Monthly story concluded on an ominous note: “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.”

REPUBLICANS: BORROWING A PAGE FROM THE NAZIS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 22, 2021 at 12:15 am

On June 17, CNN ran a headlined story on its website: “Here’s Why the Affordable Care Act Means So Much to Republicans.”  

The headline could have been misinterpreted if the reader didn’t know that, for more than 10 years, Republicans had bitterly fought to destroy the Act. 

The story opened: “For the third time in the last nine years — and this time by a convincing 7-2 vote — the Supreme Court knocked out a Republican effort to invalidate” the Act.

The Justices said that the challengers of the law did not have legal “standing” to bring the case.

Opponents of the law were not harmed by the provisions they were challenging, the Justices ruled. The reason: Congressional Republicans had eliminated the penalty for failing to buy health insurance.

Republicans believed that eliminating the penalty would allow them to attack the entire law. They assumed that without the mandate—a pillar of the law when it was passed—the rest of the Act should fall, too.

Thus, the irony: Through their latest effort to destroy the Act by de-funding it, Republicans had unintentionally saved it before the Supreme Court.

U.S. Supreme Court building-m.jpg

The Supreme Court

The law is now providing access to healthcare for a record 31 million Americans, who would not otherwise be able to afford coverage.

In addition, the Act continues to:

  • Eliminate the “pre-existing condition” excuse insurance companies had used to deny coverage to those who most needed it;
  • Provide a range of no-cost preventive services;
  • Allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance up to age 26;
  • Expand the Medicaid program that insures lower-income people access to health insurance markets offering subsidized plans.

“With millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD. And it’s here to stay,” President Joe Biden tweeted that same day.

“BFD” referred to his remark, caught on a hot mic when he told then-President Barack Obama in 2010 the law is a “a big fucking deal.”

Why have Republicans pursued its demise so relentlessly? 

According to the story: “The law represents so much more to Republicans, politically speaking.” 

Specifically: 

“For the GOP base, the ACA is about a view of the country that the government is the answer to all of our problems.

“It’s also tied into their lingering distaste for former President Barack Obama, whose name is literally melded with the law.

“And a belief that the media treated Obama’s ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan’ lie and the disastrous rollout (and repeated crashes) of the website allowing people to sign up for a plan with kid gloves because, well, bias.”

Let’s take a quick look at each of these points.

  • Millions of Right-wingers hate the Federal Government and openly call for its overthrow. This they vividly demonstrated on January 6 when they tried to illegally retain Donald Trump as President. They hoped to prevent the selection of Joe Biden as the legitimately-elected President of the United States by storming the Capitol Building.
  • Racism forms a major component of the GOP’s appeal to older, white, Right-wing voters. So having the name of the first black President unofficially stamped on the law (“Obamacare”) serves as a constant spur to their hatred.

Obama standing with his arms folded and smiling.

Barack Obama

  • Obama’s promise that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan”: The promise backfired because the law stated that those who already had medical insurance could keep their plans—so long as those plans met the requirements of the new healthcare law. If their plans didn’t meet those requirements, they would have to obtain coverage that did
  • The “disastrous rollout (and repeated crashes) of the website”: That happened immediately after the law became effective on March 23, 2010. The sheer rush of uninsured people hoping to finally gain access to medical care proved too much for the website. But over time those bugs got ironed out.

But there is another reason why Republicans lust to destroy the Act—one that the writer did not mention. It is also one that no Republican dares admit.

And like so much else in the Republican agenda, it is rooted in the methods employed by the Third Reich.

On June 22, 1941, German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler sent three million soldiers smashing into the Soviet Union. During the first six months—June to December, 1941—German armies lured huge Soviet forces into gigantic “cauldron battles,” surrounding and exterminating them. 

An estimated 5.7 million prisoners of war fell into German hands. The Germans found themselves surprised and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of them. But their mandate demanded that they keep marching ever forward.

So they simply imprisoned their captives behind barbed wire and wasted no food or medical care on them. Between starvation, illness and the brutal Russian cold, at least 3.5 million POWs died in custody.

Soviet prisoners of war behind barbed wire at Falstad Camp May 8th 1945. The picture is probably taken after the Norwegian prisoners left the camp. (Photographer: Unknown / The Falstad Centre)

Soviet POW’s

Republicans have learned a serious lesson from this: If you simply deprive those you detest of food, clothing and shelter, you don’t need gas chambers or firing squads. 

And that is why they have fervently tried to overturn the Affordable Care Act since it went into effect in 2010.

TREASON–PEOPLE WHO NEED TREASON

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on May 24, 2021 at 1:09 am

On November 3, 2020, 81,255,933 Democratic voters elected former Vice President Joseph Biden the 46th President of the United States.

President Donald J. Trump, running for a second term, got 74,196,153 votes. Biden also won decisively in the Electoral College: 306 votes to 232 for Trump.

Yet more than two months after the election, Trump refused to concede, insisting that he won—and repeatedly claiming falsely that he was the victim of massive vote fraud.

Immediately after the election, Trump ordered his attorneys to file lawsuits to overturn the election results.

Throughout November and December, cases were filed in Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia challenging the election results. None were supported by evidence of fraud—as even Trump’s lawyers admitted when questioned by judges.

On November 13, nine cases attacking President-Elect Joe Biden’s win in key states were denied or dropped. A law firm challenging the vote count in Pennsylvania withdrew from the effort.

By November 21, more than 30 cases were withdrawn by Trump’s attorneys or dismissed by Federal judges—some of them appointed by Trump himself.

Ultimately, 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.

Related image

Donald Trump

On November 19, losing in the courts, Trump invited two Republican legislative leaders from Michigan to the White House. The reason: To persuade them to stop the state from certifying the vote.

The Michigan legislators said they would follow the law.

On December 5, Trump called Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and asked him to call a special legislative session and convince state legislators to select their own electors that would support him, thus overturning Biden’s win.

Kemp refused, saying he lacked the authority to do so.

David Perdue and Brian Kemp (cropped).jpg

Brian Kemp

On December 8, the Supreme Court refused to hear Trump’s bid to reverse Pennsylvania’s certification of Biden’s victory.

Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), a Trump ally, argued that the state’s 2.5 million mail-in votes were unconstitutional.

The Court’s order read, “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice [Samuel] Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.”

Although Trump had appointed three of the Court’s Justices, not one of them dissented. 

On December 8, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed his own lawsuit at the Supreme Court. A Trump ally, Paxton has been indicted on felony securities fraud charges. 

In Texas v. Pennsylvania, he alleged that Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin violated the United States Constitution by changing election procedures through non-legislative means.

On December 10, the Supreme Court refused to hear the case. 

“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections,” the court said without further comment. It dismissed all other related claims as moot.

Seventeen Republican state Attorney Generals—and 126 Republican members of Congress—supported the lawsuit. They did so in an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief. 

They feared Trump’s fanatical base would “primary” them if they didn’t publicly declare their loyalty—to a man they knew was slated to leave office within two months.

U.S. Supreme Court building-m.jpg

The Supreme Court

Had the Court acted on Paxton’s request, the results for democracy would have been catastrophic. 

“Texas seeks to invalidate elections in four states for yielding results with which it disagrees,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told the justices in legal papers. 

“Its request for this court to exercise its original jurisdiction and then anoint Texas’s preferred candidate for president is legally indefensible and is an affront to principles of constitutional democracy. 

“The court should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process, and should send a clear and unmistakable signal that such abuse must never be replicated,” 

The outcome of the 2020 Presidential election marked the first time a losing candidate tried to overturn the will of millions of American voters.

It also marked the first time that state Attorney Generals and members of Congress tried to overturn the results of a Presidential election.

The signers represented nearly two-thirds of the House GOP.

Among them: The House’s top two Republicans: Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.),

Only 70 Republican House members refused to sign the brief.

By December 11, 2020, only 23 Republicans in Congress—14 Representatives and nine Senators—had acknowledged Biden’s victory.

On January 6, Trump instigated an attack on the Capitol Building to stop the counting of Electoral College votes, which was certain to prove Biden the winner.

Despite this, Republican members of Congress continued trying to throw the election Trump’s way.  

Six Republicans in the Senate and 121 in the House backed objections to certifying Arizona’s electoral outcome. Seven Republicans in the Senate and 138 in the House supported an objection to certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral outcome.

Not since the American Civil War (1861-1865) has the United States seen a more blatant—and deadly—case of sedition.

In 1861, 11 Senators and three Representatives were expelled from Congress for refusing to recognize Abraham Lincoln’s election—and supporting insurrection. 

Democrats need to summon the same courage and ruthlessness against their sworn enemies.

Trump’s refusal to admit that he lost fuels the danger of another attack on Congress and/or President Biden.

He—and his Republican accomplices—must be forcibly taught there are penalties for treason.

REPUBLICANS: 9/11 COMMISSION, YES; CAPITOL TREASON COMMISSION, NO: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 20, 2021 at 6:58 pm

So why are Republicans unwilling to admit what millions saw on their TVs on January 6: That a mob of Stormtrumpers attacked and invaded the United States Capitol Building?

On the May 14 edition of the PBS program, Washington Week, Manu Raju, CNN’s Chief Congressional correspondent, provided the answer: 

“This is a party that is dominated still by the former president, that has such a strong attachment, a connection to the Republican base….There are really only a handful of Republicans who are in the same position of  [Representative Liz] Cheney [R-WY] about calling out the [former] President and calling out his lies, which is why she got ultimately pushed out.

Liz Cheney official 116th Congress portrait.jpg

Liz Cheney

“The fight has caused a distraction for Republicans, because this moment she starts questioning the election and starts questioning Donald Trump’s saying that the election was stolen or rigged, then her colleagues are forced to answer questions about what they believe. 

“And what they don’t want to say is that the election was legitimate, because if they do that, then they get hammered by Donald Trump. So then they suggest that there’s some sort of irregularities, or anomalies, or variances, or something amiss in the election without really any evidence to back that up. 

“And that puts them on the opposite side of the facts, and that ultimately is a position that Republican leaders just do not want to be on.” 

Washington Week host Yamiche Alcindor: “There is this sort of deal to form this January 6th commission, but [House Minority Leader] Kevin McCarthy [R-CA] is saying he’s concerned about the scope.”  

“There was a bipartisan agreement announced [May 14] on this commission to investigate what happened on January 6th,” replied Kasie Hunt, Capitol Hill Correspondent for NBC News. 

“Cheney did an interview with ABC News…where she said that she expects….Kevin McCarthy potentially to get subpoenaed to testify during—in the course of that commission investigation….

“And there are some questions about what transpired when [McCarthy] called [Trump]—who, of course, was then in the Oval Office on January 6th—and said to him, ‘Please call off your people, they’ve invaded the Capitol.’  

“And of course, McCarthy has really changed how he has approached the narrative of January 6th in the intervening months. It didn’t actually take very long….I think it’s something that clearly many Republicans are nervous about this commission. 

Kevin McCarthy, official photo, 116th Congress.jpg

Kevin McCarthy

“They got some concessions. It’s going to be evenly split. And while they’ll have subpoena power, Republicans will effectively be able to veto subpoenas if they want to.”

Nineteen years ago, Republicans were thrilled to establish a bipartisan commission.

The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States—also known as the 9/11 Commission—was set up on November 27,2002. It consisted of five Democrats and five Republicans.

Its mission: Investigate the events that led to the worst terrorist attack in American history..

On September 11, 2001, 19 Islamic highjackers had slammed two jetliners into the World Trade Center in New York and one into the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

World Trade Center – September 11, 2001

A fourth plane, headed for the White House or Capitol Building, failed to reach its target when its passengers rioted—and the highjackers dove it into a Pennsylvania field.

Three thousand Americans died in one day.

The commission’s final report blamed the CIA and FBI for their lack of aggressiveness in failing to prevent the attacks. 

Republicans eagerly joined the commission—there was no downside. America was fearful of another major attack—and anxious to beef up its security. And Osama bin Laden—the mastermind of the attack—was an exotic figure, at once menacing and alien.

Not so with a commission investigating Right-wing treason.

According to a March 30-31 Reuters/Ipsos poll:

  • About half of Republicans believe the Capitol attack was largely a non-violent protest—or the handiwork of left-wing activists “trying to make Trump look bad.”
  • Six in 10 Republicans believe Trump’s false claim that victory in the November election “was stolen” from him by widespread voter fraud.
  • The same proportion of Republicans think he should run again in 2024.
  • While 59% of all Americans say Trump bears some responsibility for the attack, only three in 10 Republicans agree.

In an interview with Fox News, Trump said the rioters posed “zero threat.”

Other prominent Republicans, such as Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson, have publicly doubted whether Trump supporters were behind the riot. They blame Antifa—despite the all-white crowd sporting “TRUMP” flags and red MAGA caps.

In March, 12 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against a resolution honoring Capitol Police officers who defended the grounds during the attack. One lawmaker objected to using the word “insurrection” to describe the attack.

There is a reason why most Republicans refuse to admit that:

  • Joe Biden was legitimately elected; and
  • Donald Trump’s followers attacked the Capitol to prevent his certification as the winner.

They fear that if they speak the truth, it will infuriate Trump. And if he attacks them, his fanatical base will desert them at the polls.

They want to retain their positions—and all the power and perks these bring them. For that, they will sacrifice truth and betray the Constitution they have sworn to defend.

REPUBLICANS: 9/11 COMMISSION, YES; CAPITOL TREASON COMMISSION, NO: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 19, 2021 at 12:11 am

Four months have passed since the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol Building.

And a small but growing number of Republicans have chosen to glorify those who participated in the greatest act of treason in modern American history. 

Now they argue that the rioters—who shouted “Hang Mike Pence!” [then Vice President] and “Where are you, Nancy?” [Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi], brutally beat Capitol police officers and turned flagpoles into weapons—were actually peaceful protesters.

Nowhere do they mention that these “peaceful protesters” were illegally trying to overturn Joe Biden’s November 3 election.

Had they succeeded, Donald Trump would have gotten another—and illegal—four years as President.

On May 12, during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the January 6 riot, Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-GA.) said the House floor was not breached, and that the supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol behaved “in an orderly fashion.

Andrew Clyde 117th U.S Congress.jpg

Andrew Clyde

“If you didn’t know that TV footage was a video from January the sixth, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,” Clyde said. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) damning Clyde’s comments as “appalling” and “sick,” responded: “I don’t know of a normal day around here when people are threatening to hang the vice president of the United States or shoot the speaker, or injure so many police officers.”

Trump’s supporters broke into the Senate minutes after senators had evacuated, some carrying zip ties and tactical equipment. They clearly had hostage-taking in mind. 

They rifled through desks and hunted for lawmakers, yelling “Where are they?” They invaded Pelosi’s office, stole a laptop and shouted her name while some of her staff huddled quietly under furniture. One demonstrator carried away the Speaker’s podium.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) claimed that a woman who was shot and killed by a Capitol policeman as she tried to break through a door next to the House chamber was “executed.” He was referring to Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran who was wearing an American flag.

The Justice Department ruled that the shooting was justified and did not charge the officer involved.

Paul Gosar 2018.jpg

Paul Gosar

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Gosar accused the Justice Department of “harassing peaceful patriots across the country” as federal prosecutors file charges against hundreds of people who stormed the Capitol.

The massive investigation remains ongoing. Federal agents continue to serve arrest and search warrants and try to locate dozens of other people for questioning. Charges range from disorderly conduct and conspiracy to obstruction of an official proceeding.

“It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others,” Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) said. 

Hice didn’t mention than more than 140 police officers were injured during the treason-fest, and one of them–Brian Sicknick—died after being gassed with bear repellant. 

“Sixty-five MPD [Metropolitan Police Department] members sustained injuries documented in injury reports. Many more sustained injuries from the assault—scratches, bruises, eyes burning from bear mace—that they did not even bother to report,” acting MPD Chief Robert Contee testified before Congress. 

Robert J. Contee III | mpdc

Robert Contee

“People around the country and the world were shocked and moved by the video of MPD Officer Michael Fanone being beaten by a crowd of insurgents, including one wielding an American flag, and of Officer Daniel Hodges in agony as he was crushed between a door and a riot shield.”

Many officers had filed injury claims, he said, but many more had not.

After the attack, two officers—one with the Capitol Police, the other with the MPD—committed suicide.

The attempt to defend the insurrectionists came on the same day that House Republicans voted to oust Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from their leadership team for repeatedly rebuking Trump for his lies that the election was stolen.

Trump’s lies about widespread election fraud were rebuked by numerous courts, election officials across the country and his own attorney general. 

Not all Republicans have bought into The Big Lie. And a handful have dared to speak the truth

“I was there,” said Senator Mitt Romney (R-UT). “What happened was a violent effort to interfere with and prevent the constitutional order of installing a new president. And as such, it was an insurrection against the Constitution. It resulted in severe property damage, severe injuries and death.” 

How to account for these changed memories? 

On the May 14 edition of the PBS program, Washington Week, host Yamiche Alcindor provided the answer:

“There was a violent insurrection on January 6th. But in the GOP, accepting reality has consequences: House Republicans booted [Wyoming] Representative Liz Cheney from her leadership post for calling out false claims about the election. Ahead of her removal, Cheney took a defiant last stand against the former president: 

[On video] “Millions of Americans have been misled by the former president. He continues to undermine our democratic process, sowing seeds of doubt about whether democracy really works at all.

“This is not about policy.  This is not about partisanship. This is about our duty as Americans.  Remaining silent and ignoring the lie emboldens the liar.  I will not participate in that.” 

REPUBLICANS: 9/11 COMMISSION, YES; CAPITOL TREASON COMMISSION, NO: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 18, 2021 at 12:11 am

By January 6, 2021, President Donald J. Trump had almost run out of options for illegally staying in power for the next four years.

That morning, the United States Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding, would 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.

But as Pence went off to the Capitol Building housing the Senate and House of Representatives, Trump had one last card to play.

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Mike Pence

For weeks Trump had ordered his legions of Right-wing Stormtrumpers to descend on Washington, D.C. on January 6. 

On December 20, he had tweeted: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” 

In tweets, he promoted the rally again on December 27 and 30, and January 1.

On January 6, Trump appeared at the Ellipse, a 52-acre park south of the White House fence and north of Constitution Avenue and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

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 the voting process and to intimidate their elected officials to reject the results. 

Melania Trump 'disappointed' by Trump supporters' Capitol riot - ABC7 Chicago

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by a bold and radical left Democrats, which is what they are doing and stolen by the fake news media.

“Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about. And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal….

“Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back….And we’re going to have to fight much harder….

“And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.

“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated.”

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

IndieWire on Twitter: "Pro-Trump Rioters Breach US Capitol Building in Unprecedented Attack on Rule of Law https://t.co/QA27RZTEWd… "

Capitol Police facing off with Stormtrumpers

  • Members of the mob attacked police with chemical agents or lead pipes.
  • A Capitol Hill police officer was knocked off his feet, dragged into the mob surging toward the building, and beaten with the pole of an American flag. 
  • One attacker was shot as protesters forced their way toward the House Chamber where members of Congress were sheltering in place.

These are some of the high-profile figures who were seen storming the US Capitol

Stormtrumpers scaling Capitol Building walls

  • Several rioters carried plastic handcuffs, possibly intending to take hostages.
  • Others carried treasonous Confederate flags.
  • Shouts of “Hang Pence!” often rang out.
  • Improvised explosive devices were found in several locations in Washington, D.C.
  • Many of the lawmakers’ office buildings were occupied and vandalized—including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.

Trump to Pardon 'Patriots' Involved in Capitol Attack? Truth About WH Pardons Attorney Seeking Names in Viral Post

Stormtrumpers inside the Capitol Building

More than three hours passed before police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. 

After giving his inflammatory speech, Trump had returned to the White House—to watch his handiwork on television. 

Four months have since passed. And Republicans have chosen to develop collective amnesia about the greatest act of treason in modern American history.

On May 12, during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the January 6 riot, Rep. Andrew Clyde, (R-GA) said the House floor was not breached and that the supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the Capitol behaved “in an orderly fashion.

“As one of the members who stayed in the Capitol, and on the House floor, who with other Republican colleagues helped barricade the door until almost 3 p.m. from the mob who tried to enter, I can tell you the House floor was never breached and it was not an insurrection. This is the truth.”

The Stormtrumpers almost breached the House floor but failed. But they did invade the Senate floor.

“There was an undisciplined mob,” said Clyde. “There were some rioters, and some who committed acts of vandalism. But let me be clear, there was no insurrection and to call it an insurrection in my opinion, is a bold faced lie.

“Watching the TV footage of those who entered the Capitol, and walk through Statuary Hall showed people in an orderly fashion staying between the stanchions and ropes taking videos and pictures, you know.

“If you didn’t know that TV footage was a video from January the sixth, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit,” Clyde said. 

REPUBLICANS: 9/11 COMMISSION, YES; CAPITOL TREASON COMMISSION, NO: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 17, 2021 at 12:53 am

On the May 14 edition of The PBS Newshour, New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks pointed out the dilemma now facing the Republican party: 

“If you look at the latest Gallup poll, Trump’s approval rating dropped 10% over the last little while, so he’s down to 39%. 

“We learned, in the course of the whole Cheney thing [the ousting of Republican Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney as conference chair] that the Republican party officials were hiding from their members poll data showing how much Trump was dragging them down in certain battleground districts. 

“So they are chained to a person who is fading and is dropping in popularity, and—but they can’t criticize him. So that’s called being in a pickle.”

Which brings us to why Republicans are refusing to participate in a bipartisan investigation of the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol Building. 

First, some necessary background:

On November 3, 2020, 81,255,933 Democratic voters elected former Vice President Joseph Biden the 46th President of the United States.

President Donald J. Trump, running for a second term, got 74,196,153 votes.

Yet for more than two months, Trump refused to concede, insisting that he won—and repeatedly claiming falsely that he was the victim of massive vote fraud.

Immediately after the election, Trump ordered his attorneys to file lawsuits to overturn the election results, charging electoral fraud.

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.

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Donald Trump

On November 19, losing in the courts, Trump invited two Republican legislative leaders from Michigan to the White House. The reason: To persuade them to stop the state from certifying the vote.

The Michigan legislators said they would follow the law.

On December 5, Trump called Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and asked him to call a special legislative session and convince state legislators to select their own electors that would support him, thus overturning Biden’s win.

Kemp refused, saying he lacked the authority to do so.

David Perdue and Brian Kemp (cropped).jpg

Brian Kemp

Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), a Trump ally, argued that Pennsylvania’s 2.5 million mail-in were unconstitutional.

On December 8, the Supreme Court refused to hear Kelly’s bid to reverse Pennsylvania’s certification of Biden’s victory. 

Although Trump had appointed three of the Court’s Justices, not one of them dissented.

On December 10, the Supreme Court refused to let a Texas lawsuit overturn the results in four battleground states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections,” the court said without further comment. It dismissed all other related claims as moot.

The request for their overturning came in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. A Trump ally, Paxton has been indicted on felony securities fraud charges. 

Seventeen Republican state Attorney Generals—and 126 Republican members of Congress—supported the lawsuit. They feared Trump’s fanatical base would “primary” them if they didn’t publicly declare their loyalty—to a man they knew was slated to leave office within two months.

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The Supreme Court

Then, on December 30,  Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley announced that, on January 6, 2021, he would object to the certification of some states’ Electoral College results. As many as 140 House Republicans and 25 from the Senate stood to join him. 

This would have forced Republicans to:

  1. Vote to reject Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud; or
  2.  Disenfranchise millions of voters who had voted for Biden.

“Josh Hawley and anyone who supports his effort are engaged in the attempted overthrow of democracy,” Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said.

“There is no evidence that there was any fraud. Senator Hawley apparently believes that if a Democrat wins the presidential race, it must be illegitimate by definition, even absent any actual evidence of misbehavior.”

Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse bluntly offered the reason for this effort: ‘”We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong—and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions.” 

Having lost in 59 court cases to overturn the election results, Trump opted for some old-fashioned arm-twisting.

On January 2, 2021, he called the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The reason: To pressure him to “find” enough votes to overturn former Vice President Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state,” Trump lied.

He even threatened Raffensperger with criminal prosecuted if he did not change the vote count in Trump’s favor: “That’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen.”  

Raffensperger insisted there hadn’t been any voter fraud—and refused to change the official results.

By January 6, 2021, Trump had almost run out of options for illegally staying in power for the next four years.

That day, the United States Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding, would certify states’ Electoral College results of that election. 

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

TRUTH IS FOR PRESIDENTS, FLATTERY IS FOR DICTATORS

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on May 13, 2021 at 12:10 am

I must not omit an important subject….And this is with regard to flatterers, of which courts are full, because men take such pleasure in their own things and deceive themselves about them that they can with difficulty guard against this plague….Because there is no other way of guarding oneself against flattery than by letting men understand that they will not offend you by speaking  the truth.
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses

On October 10, 2019, President Donald Trump took aim at Joe Biden, his potential Democratic rival for the White House in 2020.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Trump spoke as if Biden’s son, Hunter, was present: “Your father was never considered smart. He was never considered a good senator. He was only a good vice president because he understood how to kiss Barack Obama’s ass.”

Trump no doubt believed he had scored a two-in-one insult—at both former President Barack Obama and his then-Vice President.

But Obama, as depicted in the memoirs of those who worked closely with him, did not demand sickeningly worshipful praise. He was, in fact, wary of sycophants, insisting on being well and honestly briefed.

It was this quality that led him to authorize—and oversee—the successful takedown of 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden on May 1, 2011 by U.S. Navy SEALs.

It is actually Trump who demands not simply loyalty but constant flattery.

In this—as in his vindictiveness and coarseness—he closely resembles Joseph Stalin, the infamous dictator of the Soviet Union from 1924 to 1953.

Joseph Stalin

On December 21, 1949, Stalin turned 70. And millions of Russians feverishly competed to out-do one another in singing his praises.

These celebrations weren’t prompted by love—but fear.

He had lived up to his pseudonym: “Man of Steel.” For almost 30 years, through purges and starvation caused by enforced collections of farmers’ crops, he had slaughtered 20 to 60 million of his fellow citizens.

The British historian, Robert Payne, described these rapturous events in his classic 1965 biography, The Rise and Fall of Stalin:

“From all over the country came gifts of embroidered cloth, tapestries and carpets bearing his name or his features….Poets extolled him in verses, He was the sun, the splendor, the lord of creation.

“The novelist Leonid Lenov…foretold the day when all the peoples of the earth would celebrate his birthday; the new calendar would begin with the birth of Stalin rather than with the birth of Christ.”

Lavrenti P. Beria, Stalin’s sinister and feared secret police chief: “Millions of fighters for peace and democracy in all countries of the world are closing their ranks still firmer around Comrade Stalin.”

Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov: “The gigantic Soviet army created during [World War II] was under the direct leadership of Comrade Stalin and built on the basis of the principles of Stalinist military science.”

Defense Commissar Kliment Voroshilov: “The mighty voice of the Great Stalin, defending the peace of the world, has penetrated into all corners of the globe.”

Central Committee Secretary Georgi Malenkov: “With a feeling of great gratitude, turning their eyes to Stalin, the peoples of the Soviet Union, and hundreds of millions of peoples in all countries of the world, and all progressive mankind see in Comrade Stalin their beloved leader and teacher….”

Now, fast forward to June 12, 2017.

That was when President Donald J. Trump—also 70—convened his first full Cabinet meeting since taking office on January 20.

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Donald Trump

On June 12, polls showed that only 36% of Americans approved of his conduct. But from his Cabinet members, Trump got praise traditionally lavished on dictators like Stalin and North Korea’s Kim Jong On.

While the Cabinet members sat around a mahogany table in the West Wing of the White House, Trump instructed each one to say a few words about the good work his administration was doing.

Vice President Mike Pence: “It is the greatest privilege of my life to serve as the vice president to a president who is keeping his word to the American people.”

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Mike Pence

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue: “I just got back from Mississippi. They love you there.”

Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price: “What an incredible honor it is to lead the Department of Health and Human Services at this pivotal time under your leadership. I can’t thank you enough for the privilege that you’ve given me, and the leadership you’ve shown.”

Chief of Staff Reince Priebus:On behalf of the entire senior staff around you, Mr. President, we thank you for the opportunity and the blessing you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.” 

Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao: “Thank you for coming over to the Department of Transportation. I want to thank you for getting this country moving again, and also working again.”

Politicians—both domestic and foreign—quickly learned that the quickest way to get on Trump’s “good side” was to shamelessly and constantly praise him.

Some historians believe that Stalin was poisoned by one of his fawning yes-men—most likely Lavrenti Beria.

The time may come when Trump learns that outrageous flattery can hide murderous hatred.

THE MAN WHO SAVED DEMOCRACY: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 27, 2021 at 12:19 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.

THE MAN WHO SAVED DEMOCRACY: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 26, 2021 at 12:28 am

“TIME’s Person of the Year over the course of nearly a century has been a measuring stick for where the world is and where it’s going. But how to make sense of 2020, a year without measure? A year marked by multiple crises, all at once, all over the world: A once-in-a-century plague. Brutal racial injustice. Glaring inequality. Apocalyptic wildfires. Democracy under fire.”

Thus opens the web page advertising TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year” choice of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

On the surface, choosing Biden and Harris makes 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 had 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.

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

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

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

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Chris Krebs

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

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

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

Krebs’ to-do list included paper ballots:

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

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

Krebs’ duties included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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