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Posts Tagged ‘RAFAEL CRUZ’

NRA: FEEL FREE TO INSULT DEAD GUN VICTIMS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 9, 2019 at 12:11 am

“You know the great thing about the state of Iowa is, I’m pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas—hitting what you aim at.

“My wife, Heidi, who is a petite, 5’2 California blonde, she was standing at the tripod unloading the full machine gun with a pink baseball cap that said ‘Frmed and Fabulous.’”

Yes, it was United States Senator Rafael “Ted” Cruz (R-Texas) on the prowl for laughs–-and votes—at a town hall meeting in Iowa.

Normally, Cruz would do his vote-hunting in Texas. But now Cruz had a bigger prize on his mind than simply being re-elected a United States Senator. Cruz wanted to be President in 2016.

U.S. Senator Rafael Cruz

And Iowa held its precinct causes on February 1-2, 2016.

Cruz’ jokes about gun control came on June 19, 2015, only two days after Dylann Roof, a white high school dropout, gunned down three unarmed black men and six black women at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Dylann Roof

Following his remarks, Cruz headed to a shooting range, where he fired off rounds on a semiautomatic .223-caliber Smith and Wesson M&P 15.

Cruz’ remarks no doubt appeared insensitive to those who now mourned for the latest victims of gun violence. But Charles L. Cotton took insulting the dead to a whole new level. 

Cotton is a National Rifle Association (NRA) board member who also runs TexasCHLForum.com, an online discussion forum about guns and gun owners’ rights in Texas and beyond.

In a discussion thread on June 18, 2015—one day after the church slaughter—a board member noted that Clementa C. Pinckney, one of the nine people slain, was a pastor and a state legislator in South Carolina.

Cotton responded: “And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

#NRA boardmember Charles L. Cotton: #Charleston tragedy could've been avoided if guns allowed in Churches.

That discussion thread has since been deleted.

During a subsequent phone interview, Cotton emphasized that he had been speaking as a private citizen—and not as an NRA board member:

“It was a discussion we were having about so called gun-free zones. It’s my opinion that there should not be any gun-free zones in schools or churches or anywhere else. If we look at mass shootings that occur, most happen in gun-free zones.”

If private citizens were allowed to carry guns everywhere, Cotton says, there will be fewer mass shootings because “if armed citizens are in there, they have a chance to defend themselves and other citizens.”

Cotton’s position—“there should not be any gun-free zones”—is exactly that of the NRA itself.

Under such circumstances, America will become a nation where anyplace, anytime, can be turned into the O.K. Corral.

Another point that Cotton didn’t mention: Dylann Roof did believe in concealed-carry–and it cost the lives of nine innocent men and women.

Finally, there is this: Even highly-trained shooters—such as those assigned to the United States Secret Service–don’t always respond as expected.

On May 15, 1972, Alabama Governor George Wallace was campaigning for President in Laurel, Maryland. He gave a speech behind a bulletproof podium at the Laurel Shopping Center. Then he moved from it to mingle with the crowd.

Since the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, all those campaigning for President have been assigned Secret Service bodyguards. And Wallace was surrounded by them as he shook hands with his eager supporters.

Suddenly, Arthur Bremer, a fame-seeking failure in life and romance, pushed his way forward, aimed a .38 revolver at Wallace’s abdomen and opened fire. Before he could be subdued, he hit Wallace four times, leaving him paralyzed for the rest of his life. 

Arthur Bremer shoots George Wallace

Nor was he Bremer’s only victim. Three other people present were wounded unintentionally: 

  • Alabama State Trooper Captain E. C. Dothard, Wallace’s personal bodyguard, who was shot in the stomach;
  • Dora Thompson, a campaign volunteer, who was shot in the leg; and 
  • Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service agent, who was shot in the neck, severely impairing his speech.

None of Wallace’s bodyguards got off a shot at Bremer—before or after he pulled the trigger.

On October 6, 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was reviewing a military parade in Cairo when a truck apparently broke down directly across from where he was seated. 

Anwar Sadat, moments before his assassination

Suddenly, soldiers bolted from the rear of the vehicle, throwing hand grenades and firing assault rifles.  They rushed straight at Sadat—who died instantly under a hail of bullets.

Meanwhile, Sadat’s bodyguards—who had been trained by the CIA—panicked and fled.

Sadat had been assassinated by army officers who believed he had betrayed Islam by making peace with Israel in 1977.

The ultimate test of the NRA’s mantra that “there should not be any gun-free zones…anywhere” will come only when one or more heavily-armed gunmen target an NRA convention.

It will then be interesting to see if the surviving NRA members are as quick to blame themselves for being victims as they are to blame the victims of other mass gun-slaughters.

MACHIAVELLI WARNED AMERICA ABOUT TRUMP

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 29, 2018 at 3:36 pm

As a Presidential candidate, Donald Trump was fiercely attacked by Democrats and his fellow Republicans. But one of his sharpest critics lived more than 500 years ago

He was Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th-century Florentine statesmen and father of modern politics. 

For openers: Trump had drawn heavy criticism for his angry and brutal attacks on a wide range of persons and organizations—including his fellow Republicans, journalists, news organizations, other countries and even celebrities who have nothing to do with politics.

Related image

Donald Trump

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

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

Trump, in turn, casually dismissed the criticism he had received:

“I can be Presidential, but if I was Presidential I would only have–about 20% of you would be here because it would be boring as hell, I will say,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Superior, Wisconsin.

Trump admitted that his wife, Melania, and daughter, Ivanka, had urged him to be more Presidential.  And he promised that he would. 

“But I gotta knock off the final two [Republican candidates—Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas U.S. Senator Rafael Cruz] first, if you don’t mind.”

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

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

Niccolo Machiavelli

Then there was Trump’s approach to consulting advisers:

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

This totally contrasted with the advice given by Machiavelli:

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

And Machiavelli gave a related warning on the advising of rulers: Unwise princes cannot be wisely advised.

During the fifth GOP debate in the Presidential sweepstakes, host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump this question:

“Mr. Trump, Dr. [Ben] Carson just referenced the single most important job of the president, the command and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad.

“The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out. It’s an executive order. It’s a commander-in-chief decision.

“What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?”

[The triad refers to America’s land-, sea- and air-based systems for delivering nuclear missiles and bombs.]

Nuclear missile in silo

Trump’s reply: “Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible, who really knows what he or she is doing.  That is so powerful and so important.”

He then digressed to his having called the Iraq invasion a mistake in 2003 and 2004. Finally he came back on topic:

“But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear.

“Nuclear changes the whole ballgame.  The biggest problem we have today is nuclear–nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon.

“I think to me, nuclear, is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.”

Which brings us back to Machiavelli:

  • “…Some think that a prince who gains the reputation of being prudent [owes this to] the good counselors he has about him; they are undoubtedly deceived.”
  • “It is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised, unless by chance he leaves himself entirely in the hands of one man who rules him in everything, and happens to be a very prudent man. In this case, he may doubtless be well governed, but it would not last long, for the governor would in a short time deprive him of the state.”

All of which led Niccolo Machiavelli to warn: “This bodes ill for your Republic.”

NRA: “IF EVERYONE WENT ARMED, WE’D BE SAFE”

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on July 11, 2016 at 12:14 am

On June 17, 2015, Dylann Roof, a white high school dropout, gunned down three black men and six black women at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Dylann Roof

On June 18–one day after the church slaughter–Charles L. Cotton took insulting the dead to a whole new level. 

Cotton is a National Rifle Association (NRA) board member who also runs TexasCHLForum.com, an online discussion forum about guns and gun owners’ rights in Texas and beyond.

In a discussion thread on the Forum, a board member noted that Clementa C. Pinckney, one of the nine people slain, was a pastor and a state legislator in South Carolina.

Cotton responded: “And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

#NRA boardmember Charles L. Cotton: #Charleston tragedy could've been avoided if guns allowed in Churches.

That discussion thread was quickly deleted.

During a subsequent phone interview, Cotton emphasized that he had been speaking as a private citizen–and not as an NRA board member:

“It was a discussion we were having about so called gun-free zones. It’s my opinion that there should not be any gun-free zones in schools or churches or anywhere else. If we look at mass shootings that occur, most happen in gun-free zones.”

If private citizens were allowed to carry guns everywhere, Cotton said, there will be fewer mass shootings because “if armed citizens are in there, they have a chance to defend themselves and other citizens.”

Cotton’s position–“there should not be any gun-free zones”–is exactly that of the NRA itself.

Under such circumstances, America will become a nation where anyplace, anytime, can be turned into the O.K. Corral.

Another point that Cotton didn’t mention: Dylann Roof did believe in concealed-carry–and it cost not his life but the lives of nine innocent men and women.

Finally, there is this: Even highly-trained shooters–such as those assigned to the United States Secret Service–don’t always respond as expected.

On May 15, 1972, Alabama Governor George Wallace was campaigning for President in Laurel, Maryland. He gave a speech behind a bulletproof podium at the Laurel Shopping Center. Then he moved from it to mingle with the crowd.

Since the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, all those campaigning for President have been assigned Secret Service bodyguards. And Wallace was surrounded by them as he shook hands with his eager supporters.

Suddenly, Arthur Bremer, a fame-seeking failure in life and romance, pushed his way forward, aimed a .38 revolver at Wallace’s abdomen and opened fire. Before the Secret Service could subdue him, he hit Wallace four times, leaving him paralyzed for the rest of his life. 

Arthur Bremer shoots George Wallace

Nor was he Bremer’s only victim. Three other people present were wounded unintentionally: 

  • Alabama State Trooper Captain E C Dothard, Wallace’s personal bodyguard, who was shot in the stomach;
  • Dora Thompson, a campaign volunteer, who was shot in the leg; and 
  • Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service agent, who was shot in the neck, severely impairing his speech.

None of Wallace’s bodyguards got off a shot at Bremer–before or after he pulled the trigger.

On October 6, 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was reviewing a military parade in Cairo when a truck apparently broke down directly across from where he was seated. 

Anwar Sadat, moments before his assassination

Suddenly, soldiers bolted from the rear of the vehicle, throwing hand grenades and firing assault rifles. They rushed straight at Sadat–who died instantly under a hail of bullets.

Meanwhile, Sadat’s bodyguards–who had been trained by the CIA–panicked and fled.

Sadat had been assassinated by army officers who believed he had betrayed Islam by making peace with Israel in 1977.  

Most recently, the NRA mantra, “If every citizen went armed…” was put to the test in Dallas, Texas. It flunked.

On July 7, five Dallas police officers were shot and killed by a disgruntled ex-Army Reserve Afghan War veteran named Michah Xavier Johnson. Another seven officers and two civilians were wounded before the carnage ended.

The shootings erupted during a Black Lives Matter protest march in downtown Dallas.  

Texas has long been an “open carry” state for those who want to brandish rifles without fear of arrest. And about 20 people wearing “ammo gear and protective equipment [had] rifles slung over their shoulder,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.  

“When the shooting started, at different angles, [the armed protesters] started running,” Rawlings said, adding that open carry only brings confusion to a shooting scene. “What I would do [if I were a police officer] is look for the people with guns,” he said.  

“There were a number of armed demonstrators taking part,” said Max Geron, a Dallas police major. “There was confusion on the radio about the description of the suspects and whether or not one or more was in custody.”

The ultimate test of the NRA’s mantra that “there should not be any gun-free zones…anywhere” will come only when one or more heavily-armed gunmen target an NRA convention.

It will then be interesting to see if the surviving NRA members are as quick to blame themselves for being victims as they are to blame the victims of other mass slaughters.

TESTING THE THEORY OF “GUN-PACKING ZONES”

In History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 14, 2016 at 12:06 am

“You know the great thing about the state of Iowa is, I’m pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas–hitting what you aim at.

“My wife, Heidi, who is a petite, 5’2 California blonde, she was standing at the tripod unloading the full machine gun with a pink baseball cap that said ‘armed and fabulous.’”

Yes, it was United States Senator Rafael Cruz (R-Texas) on the prowl for laughs–and votes–at a town hall meeting in Iowa. Normally, Cruz would do his vote-hunting in Texas.

But now Cruz had a bigger prize on his mind than simply being re-elected a United States Senator. Cruz wanted to be President in 2016.

U.S. Senator Rafael Cruz

Cruz’ jokes about gun control came on June 19, 2015, only two days after Dylann Roof, a white high school dropout, gunned down three black men and six black women at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Dylann Roof

Following his remarks, Cruz headed to a shooting range, where he fired off rounds on a semiautomatic .223-caliber Smith and Wesson M&P 15.

Cruz’ remarks no doubt appeared insensitive to the latest victims of gun violence and those who now mourned for them. But the comments of Charles L. Cotton took insulting the dead to a whole new level. 

Cotton is a National Rifle Association (NRA) board member who also runs TexasCHLForum.com, an online discussion forum about guns and gun owners’ rights in Texas and beyond.

In a discussion thread on June 18, 2015–one day after the church slaughter–a board member noted that Clementa C. Pinckney, one of the nine people slain, was a pastor and a state legislator in South Carolina.

Cotton responded: “And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

#NRA boardmember Charles L. Cotton: #Charleston tragedy could've been avoided if guns allowed in Churches.

That discussion thread was quickly deleted.

During a subsequent phone interview, Cotton emphasized that he had been speaking as a private citizen–and not as an NRA board member:

“It was a discussion we were having about so called gun-free zones. It’s my opinion that there should not be any gun-free zones in schools or churches or anywhere else. If we look at mass shootings that occur, most happen in gun-free zones.”

If private citizens were allowed to carry guns everywhere, Cotton said, there will be fewer mass shootings because “if armed citizens are in there, they have a chance to defend themselves and other citizens.”

Cotton’s position–“there should not be any gun-free zones”–is exactly that of the NRA itself.

Under such circumstances, America will become a nation where anyplace, anytime, can be turned into the O.K. Corral.

Another point that Cotton didn’t mention: Dylann Roof did believe in concealed-carry–and it cost not his life but the lives of nine innocent men and women.

Finally, there is this: Even highly-trained shooters–such as those assigned to the United States Secret Service–don’t always respond as expected.

On May 15, 1972, Alabama Governor George Wallace was campaigning for President in Laurel, Maryland. He gave a speech behind a bulletproof podium at the Laurel Shopping Center. Then he moved from it to mingle with the crowd.

Since the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, all those campaigning for President have been assigned Secret Service bodyguards. And Wallace was surrounded by them as he shook hands with his eager supporters.

Suddenly, Arthur Bremer, a fame-seeking failure in life and romance, pushed his way forward, aimed a .38 revolver at Wallace’s abdomen and opened fire. Before the Secret Service could subdue him, he hit Wallace four times, leaving him paralyzed for the rest of his life. 

Arthur Bremer shoots George Wallace

Nor was he Bremer’s only victim. Three other people present were wounded unintentionally: 

  • Alabama State Trooper Captain E C Dothard, Wallace’s personal bodyguard, who was shot in the stomach;
  • Dora Thompson, a campaign volunteer, who was shot in the leg; and 
  • Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service agent, who was shot in the neck, severely impairing his speech.

None of Wallace’s bodyguards got off a shot at Bremer–before or after he pulled the trigger.

On October 6, 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was reviewing a military parade in Cairo when a truck apparently broke down directly across from where he was seated. 

Anwar Sadat, moments before his assassination

Suddenly, soldiers bolted from the rear of the vehicle, throwing hand grenades and firing assault rifles. They rushed straight at Sadat–who died instantly under a hail of bullets.

Meanwhile, Sadat’s bodyguards–who had been trained by the CIA–panicked and fled.

Sadat had been assassinated by army officers who believed he had betrayed Islam by making peace with Israel in 1977.

The ultimate test of the NRA’s mantra that “there should not be any gun-free zones…anywhere” will come only when one or more heavily-armed gunmen target an NRA convention.

It will then be interesting to see if the surviving NRA members are as quick to blame themselves for being victims as they are the victims of other mass slaughters.

TRUMP VS. MACHIAVELLI: PART TWO (END)

In History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 10, 2016 at 12:01 am

Donald Trump is riding high, the almost certain Republican nominee for President when that party holds its convention in Cleveland during the week of July 18. 

But Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th-century Florentine statesmen and father of modern politics, has more than a few timely warnings to offer him–and voters inclined to vote for him.

For openers: Trump has drawn heavy criticism for his angry and brutal attacks on a wide range of persons and organizations–including his fellow Republicans, journalists, news organizations, other countries and even celebrities who have nothing to do with politics.

Related image

Donald Trump

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

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

And Trump’s reaction to the criticism he’s received?

“I can be Presidential, but if I was Presidential I would only have–about 20% of you would be here because it would be boring as hell, I will say,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Superior, Wisconsin.

Trump admitted that his wife, Melania, and daughter, Ivanka, had urged him to be more Presidential.  And he promised that he would. 

“But I gotta knock off the final two [Republican candidates–Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas U.S. Senator Rafael Cruz] first, if you don’t mind.”

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

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

Related image

Niccolo Machiavelli

Then there is Trump’s approach to consulting advisers:

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

This totally contrasts the advice given by Machiavelli:

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

And Machiavelli offers a related warning on the advising of rulers: Unwise princes cannot be wisely advised.

During the fifth GOP debate in the Presidential sweepstakes, host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump this question:

“Mr. Trump, Dr. [Ben] Carson just referenced the single most important job of the president, the command and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad.

“The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out. It’s an executive order. It’s a commander-in-chief decision.

“What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?”

[The triad refers to America’s land-, sea- and air-based systems for delivering nuclear missiles and bombs.]

Nuclear missile in silo

Trump’s reply: “Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible, who really knows what he or she is doing.  That is so powerful and so important.”

He then digressed to his having called the Iraq invasion a mistake in 2003 and 2004. Finally he came back on topic:

“But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear.

“Nuclear changes the whole ballgame.  The biggest problem we have today is nuclear–nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon.

“I think to me, nuclear, is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.”

Which brings us back to Machiavelli:

  • “…Some think that a prince who gains the reputation of being prudent [owes this to] the good counselors he has about him; they are undoubtedly deceived.
  • “It is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised, unless by chance he leaves himself entirely in the hands of one man who rules him in everything, and happens to be a very prudent man. In this case, he may doubtless be well governed, but it would not last long, for the governor would in a short time deprive him of the state.”

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

 

TRUMP VS. MACHIAVELLI: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 9, 2016 at 12:37 am

Donald Trump has swept the field of his political rivals. The Republican nomination for President now stands within his reach.

The “Anybody-But-Trump” coalition no longer has a champion. Its last two–Ohio Governor John Kasich and Texas U.S. Senator Rafael Cruz–have bowed out of the race. 

On May 3, Trump captured 53.3% of the votes in the Indiana primary, compared to 36.7% for Cruz and 7.5% for Kasich.  

That night, Cruz threw in the towel.  

“Together we left it all on the field in Indiana,” Cruz told his disappointed supporters in Indianapolis. “We gave it everything we’ve got.  But the voters chose another path.”  

Ted Cruz, official portrait, 113th Congress.jpg

Rafael “Ted” Cruz

The next day–May 4–so did Kasich, the only candidate who had dared compare Trump to Adolf Hitler.

All that Trump need do, from here on, is wait until the Republican convention assembles in Cleveland during the week of July 18.

Even so, Trump gets poor marks as a man and a candidate from many of his fellow conservatives.  

One of these is New York Times political columnist David Brooks.

DavidBrooks.jpg

David Brooks

Appearing on the May 25 edition of The PBS Newshour, Brooks offered some highly disturbing assessments about the man who seeks to control the most powerful nation in the world.

  • “The odd thing about [Trump’s] whole career and his whole language, his whole world view is there is no room for love in it. You get a sense of a man who has received no love, can give no love, so his relationship with women, it has no love in it. It’s trophy.”
  • “And [Trump’s] relationship toward the world is one of competition and beating, and as if he’s going to win by competition what other people get by love.”
  • “And so you really are seeing someone who just has an odd psychology unleavened by kindness and charity, but where it’s all winners and losers, beating and being beat. And that’s part of the authoritarian personality….”

An even more damning assessment comes from Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th-century Florentine statesman whose two great works on politics–The Prince and The Discourses–remain textbooks for successful politicians more than 500 years later.  

Related image

Niccolo Machiavelli

Consider Trump’s notoriety for hurling insults at virtually everyone, including:  

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

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

Among those groups–and the insults Trump has leveled at them:

  • Mexicans: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” He’s also promised to “build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”
  • Prisoners-of-War: Speaking of Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain, a Vietnam POW for seven years: “He’s not a war hero. He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured.”
  • Blacks: At a Trump rally in Birmingham, Alabama, he was interrupted by black activist Mercutio Southall, who repeatedly shouted: “Black lives matter!” Trump ordered his removal, and several of his supporters beat and kicked Southall. Later, Trump said: “Maybe he should have been roughed up, because it was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.”
  • Trump retweeted an image of a masked, dark-skinned man with a handgun and a series of alleged crime statistics, including: “Blacks killed by whites – 2%”; “Whites killed by blacks – 81%.” The image cites the “Crime Statistics Bureau – San Francisco”–an agency that doesn’t exist.
  • Muslims: Trump has boasted he would require Muslims to register with the Federal Government. And he would close “some mosques” if he felt they were being used by Islamic terrorists.  
  • Women: “If Hillary Clinton can’t satisfy her husband, what makes her think she can satisfy America?”
  • “Twenty-six thousand unreported sexual assaults in the military–only 238 convictions.  What did these geniuses expect when they put men and women together?”  
  • Asians: “Negotiating with Japan, negotiating with China, when these people walk into the room, they don’t say, ‘Oh hello, how’s the weather? So beautiful outside, isn’t it lovely? How are the Yankees doing? Oh, they are doing wonderful, great.’ They say, ‘We want deal!’” 

Machiavelli, on the other hand, advises leaders to refrain from gratuitous insults:

  • “It is not necessary for a prince to have all the above-named qualities [mercy, faith, humanity, integrity and religion] but it is very necessary to seem to have them….”  
  • “A prince must take care that nothing goes out of his mouth which is not full of the above-named five qualities, and he should seem to be all mercy, faith, integrity, humanity and religion.”
  • “And nothing is more necessary than to seem to have this last quality, for men in general judge more by the eyes than by the hands, for every one can see, but very few have to feel.  Everyone seems what you appear to be, few feel what you are….”  
  • “…[The Roman Emperor Commodus]…by not maintaining his dignity, by often descending into the theater to fight with gladiators and committing other contemptible actions…became despicable in the eyes of the soldiers. And being hated on the one hand and despised on the other, he was conspired against and killed.”

COMING SOON: THE NEXT NRA/REPUBLICAN-APPROVED GUN MASSACRE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on March 11, 2016 at 12:24 am

“You know the great thing about the state of Iowa is, I’m pretty sure you all define gun control the same way we do in Texas–hitting what you aim at.

“My wife, Heidi, who is a petite, 5’2 California blonde, she was standing at the tripod unloading the full machine gun with a pink baseball cap that said ‘armed and fabulous.’”

Yes, it was United States Senator Rafael Cruz (R-Texas) on the prowl for laughs–and votes–at a town hall meeting in Iowa. Normally, Cruz would do his vote-hunting in Texas.

But now Cruz has a bigger prize on his mind than simply being re-elected a United States Senator. Cruz wants to be President in 2016.

U.S. Senator Rafael Cruz

And Iowa held its precinct causes on February 1-2, 2016.

Cruz’ jokes about gun control came on June 19, 2015, only two days after Dylann Roof, a white high school dropout, gunned down three black men and six black women at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Dylann Roof

Following his remarks, Cruz headed to a shooting range, where he fired off rounds on a semiautomatic .223-caliber Smith and Wesson M&P 15.

Cruz’ remarks no doubt appeared insensitive to the latest victims of gun violence and those who now mourned for them. But the comments of Charles L. Cotton took insulting the dead to a whole new level. 

Cotton is a National Rifle Association (NRA) board member who also runs TexasCHLForum.com, an online discussion forum about guns and gun owners’ rights in Texas and beyond.

In a discussion thread on June 18, 2015–one day after the church slaughter–a board member noted that Clementa C. Pinckney, one of the nine people slain, was a pastor and a state legislator in South Carolina.

Cotton responded: “And he voted against concealed-carry. Eight of his church members who might be alive if he had expressly allowed members to carry handguns in church are dead. Innocent people died because of his position on a political issue.”

#NRA boardmember Charles L. Cotton: #Charleston tragedy could've been avoided if guns allowed in Churches.

That discussion thread has since been deleted.

During a subsequent phone interview, Cotton emphasized that he had been speaking as a private citizen–and not as an NRA board member:

“It was a discussion we were having about so called gun-free zones. It’s my opinion that there should not be any gun-free zones in schools or churches or anywhere else. If we look at mass shootings that occur, most happen in gun-free zones.”

If private citizens were allowed to carry guns everywhere, Cotton says, there will be fewer mass shootings because “if armed citizens are in there, they have a chance to defend themselves and other citizens.”

Cotton’s position–“there should not be any gun-free zones”–is exactly that of the NRA itself.

Under such circumstances, America will become a nation where anyplace, anytime, can be turned into the O.K. Corral.

Another point that Cotton didn’t mention: Dylann Roof did believe in concealed-carry–and it cost the lives of nine innocent men and women.

Finally, there is this: Even highly-trained shooters–such as those assigned to the United States Secret Service–don’t always respond as expected.

On May 15, 1972, Alabama Governor George Wallace was campaigning for President in Laurel, Maryland. He gave a speech behind a bulletproof podium at the Laurel Shopping Center. Then he moved from it to mingle with the crowd.

Since the 1968 assassination of Senator Robert F. Kennedy, all those campaigning for President have been assigned Secret Service bodyguards. And Wallace was surrounded by them as he shook hands with his eager supporters.

Suddenly, Arthur Bremer, a fame-seeking failure in life and romance, pushed his way forward, aimed a .38 revolver at Wallace’s abdomen and opened fire. Before he could be subdued, he hit Wallace four times, leaving him paralyzed for the rest of his life. 

Arthur Bremer shoots George Wallace

Nor was he Bremer’s only victim. Three other people present were wounded unintentionally: 

  • Alabama State Trooper Captain E C Dothard, Wallace’s personal bodyguard, who was shot in the stomach;
  • Dora Thompson, a campaign volunteer, who was shot in the leg; and 
  • Nick Zarvos, a Secret Service agent, who was shot in the neck, severely impairing his speech.

None of Wallace’s bodyguards got off a shot at Bremer–before or after he pulled the trigger.

On October 6, 1981, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was reviewing a military parade in Cairo when a truck apparently broke down directly across from where he was seated. 

Anwar Sadat, moments before his assassination

Suddenly, soldiers bolted from the rear of the vehicle, throwing hand grenades and firing assault rifles.  They rushed straight at Sadat–who died instantly under a hail of bullets.

Meanwhile, Sadat’s bodyguards–who had been trained by the CIA– panicked and fled.

Sadat had been assassinated by army officers who believed he had betrayed Islam by making peace with Israel in 1977.

The ultimate test of the NRA’s mantra that “there should not be any gun-free zones…anywhere” will come only when one or more heavily-armed gunmen target an NRA convention.

It will then be interesting to see if the surviving NRA members are as quick to blame themselves for being victims as they are the victims of other mass slaughters.

TRUMPING–AND DUMPING: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on March 9, 2016 at 2:14 pm

The Donald Trump-Mitt Romney bromance began with an insult, courtesy of Trump: 

“He’d buy companies, he’d close companies.  He’d get rid of jobs.  I’ve built a great company.  I’m a much bigger businessman and have a much, much bigger net worth.  I mean, my net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney.”  

Then Trump had a change of heart: “Mitt is tough.  He’s smart.  He’s sharp. He’s not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love. So, Governor Romney, go out and get ’em.  You can do it.”

And Romney swooned with delight: “I’m so honored to have his endorsement. There are some things that you just can’t imagine in your life. This is one of them.”    

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Mitt Romney and Donald Trump

But now the bromance is over, courtesy of a rousing, anti-Trump speech given by Romney at the University of Utah: 

“Mr. Trump is directing our anger for less than noble purposes. He creates scapegoats of Muslims and Mexican immigrants, he calls for the use of torture and for killing the innocent children and family members of terrorists. He cheers assaults on protesters.

“He applauds the prospect of twisting the Constitution to limit First Amendment freedom of the press. This is the very brand of anger that has led other nations into the abyss.” 

So how is Trump taking all this? “I don’t know what happened to him. You can see how loyal he is.

“He was begging for my endorsement. I could have said ‘Mitt, drop to your knees.’ He would have dropped to his knees.”  

Fortunately for Trump, as his bromance with Romney has ended, another has emerged–with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

On February 26, Christie through his (political) weight behind Trump at a hastily-announced press conference in Fort Worth, Texas.  

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Chris Christie

Christie had not always been on such wonderful terms with the egocentric businessman. In fact, for months, the two had been rivals for the Presidency.  

In a January speech before the New Hampshire primary, Christie said:

“Showtime is over. We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief. Showmanship is fun, but it is not the kind of leadership that will truly change America…. 

“If we are going to turn our frustration and anger with the D.C. insiders, the politicians of yesterday and the carnival barkers of today into something that will actually change American lives for the better, we must elect someone who has been tested.”  

Then, without warning, Christie announced a sudden change of mind at a press conference in Fort Worth, Texas.  

The previous night, Trump had been mauled by a surprisingly aggressive Marco Rubio during a CNN-hosted debate among the Presidential candidates. As a result, reporters gasped when Christie endorsed Trump and attacked Rubio:

“Part of his talking points now is to be entertaining and smile a lot now.  Listen, it’s one act after another.”

Christie obviously felt it necessary to explain why he had gone from attacking Trump to promoting him: 

“As a Republican I feel strongly about making sure that [Democratic front-runner] Hillary Clinton does not become president of the United states, and I believe Donald Trump is the best person–of those remaining–to do that.”

As for the attack made on Trump by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney:

“I understand the things that Gov. Romney is saying, and he’s objected to. That’s his opinion, and I respect him as I always have, and he’s welcome to his view. I just happen to disagree with the conclusion that he comes to.”  

By endorsing Trump, Christie became the first major establishment figure to validate the fitness of the former “reality TV star” to serve as President.

Considering Trump’s remaining opponents, it was not hard for Christie to reach that conclusion.

Texas United States Senator Rafael Cruz is an ideologue–and totally opposed to the pragmatic approach Christie brings to politics. And Christie genuinely dislikes Rubio.  

In addition, Christie believed that Ohio Governor John Kasich–a moderate by Republican standards–could never secure his party’s Presidential nomination.  

Ditto for neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who apparently believed his Right-wing party would elect another black man to succeed President Obama.

As for Trump: “This was an endorsement that really meant a lot. Chris is an outstanding man with an outstanding family, and this is the one endorsement that I’m really happy to get.”

While Christie and Trump share an innate aggressiveness and willingness to bully, that is not all they share.

In Never Enough, auhor Michael D’Antonio portrays Trump as a man with an insatiable appetite for wealth, attention, power, and conquest. The same can be said of Christie.

By taking on the role of Trump’s attack dog, Christie positions himself for the same role as vice presidential nominee. Or for a position such as Attorney General or Secretary of Homeland Security.

For those wishing to understand the realities of American political leaders, the best insight comes in a song popularized in George Orwell’s novel, 1984

Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me:
There lie they, and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree.

TRUMPING–AND DUMPING: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on March 8, 2016 at 12:17 am

During the 2012 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump endorsed Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee to defeat President Barack Obama.

But that was before Trump decided to run for President in 2016. And the relationship between Trump and Romney has taken a considerably different turn.

On June 16, 2015, Trump declared his candidacy for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination. Since then, he has been the first choice among the Republican base.  

At first, he was dismissed as a bad joke–by Republican Presidential candidates as well as Democrats. Surely voters would reject a bombastic, thrice-married “reality show” host who had filed for corporate bankruptcy four times.

Yet from the outset Trump dominated the field–and a series of Republican debates. The other Republican candidates watched him with envy–and desperately tried to steal some of his limelight.

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 Donald Trump 

Making  one inflammatory statement after another, he offended one group of potential voters after another. These insults delighted his white, under-educated followers. But they alienated millions of other Americans who might have voted for him.

Among these:  

  • Mexicans: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” He’s also promised to “build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”
  • Blacks: Trump retweeted an image of a masked, dark-skinned man with a handgun and a series of alleged crime statistics, including: “Blacks killed by whites – 2%”; “Whites killed by blacks – 81%.” The image cites the “Crime Statistics Bureau – San Francisco”–an agency that doesn’t exist.
  • Illegal Aliens: Trump has threatened to forcibly deport millions of mostly Mexican and Central American residents.
  • Muslims: Trump has boasted he would ban them from entering the United States–and revive waterboarding of terrorist suspects. He would require Muslims to register with the Federal Government. And he would close “some mosques” if he felt they were being used by Islamic terrorists.
  • POWs: Speaking of Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” [Trump avoided military service–and Vietnam]

Many Republican members of Congress share–privately–Trump’s views on Hispanics, blacks and Muslims. But they realize that giving voice to such opinions can be politically suicidal.

Increasingly, the Republican party has become the bastion of aging white males. Even former President George W. Bush worked to win over Hispanics as Republican voters.

But the party’s increasingly strident anti-immigration rhetoric has alienated millions of Hispanics. And its open contempt for the nation’s first black President drove millions of blacks to the polls, where they handed Obama the White House–first in 2008, and again in 2012.

As a result, many Republicans now fear that Trump will gain their party’s Presidential nomination–and then lose in November, most likely to Hillary Clinton.  

Even worse from their perspective: He might cost Republicans–who now dominate the House of Representatives and the Senate–one or both legislative bodies.

So many Republicans are now desperately trying to deny Trump the nomination. And one of these is Mitt Romney–the man Trump endorsed in 2012 as the best candidate to remove Obama from the White House.  

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Mitt Romney

On March 3, in a speech at the University of Utah, Romney outlined why a Trump Presidency would be a disaster for the nation (not to mention the Republicans).

Among his comments:

“If we Republicans choose Donald Trump as our nominee, the prospects for a safe and prosperous future are greatly diminished….

“If Donald Trump’s plans were ever implemented, the country would sink into prolonged recession….

“Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud. His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University….

“But you say, wait, wait, wait, isn’t he a huge business success? Doesn’t he know what he’s talking about? No, he isn’t and no he doesn’t.

“Look, his bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who work for them. He inherited his business, he didn’t create it.

“And whatever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks and Trump Mortgage. A business genius he is not…. 

“Now let me turn to national security and the safety of our homes and loved ones. Mr. Trump’s bombast is already alarming the allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies.

“Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS, and for what purpose? Muslim terrorists would only have to lie about their religion to enter the country….

“Now, I’m far from the first to conclude that Donald Trump lacks the temperament to be president.

“After all, this is an individual who mocked a disabled reporter, who attributed a reporter’s questions to her menstrual cycle, who mocked a brilliant rival who happened to be a woman due to her appearance, who bragged about his marital affairs, and who laces his public speeches with vulgarity.

“Donald Trump says he admires Vladimir Putin, at the same time he has called George W. Bush a liar. That is a twisted example of evil trumping good.”

Thus Mitt Romney on the man who once endorsed him for President. In the next column, we’ll see what Trump thinks of the man he once endorsed for President.

TRUMPING–AND DUMPING: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on March 7, 2016 at 12:23 am

In 2011, Donald Trump, the egocentric businessman and “reality star” of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” was toying with the idea of running for President in 2012.

On April 17, 2011, Trump said this about Mitt Romney, a possible rival and the former Massachusetts governor and front-runner GOP candidate: 

“He’d buy companies, he’d close companies. He’d get rid of jobs. I’ve built a great company. I’m a much bigger businessman and have a much, much bigger net worth. I mean, my net worth is many, many, many times Mitt Romney. 

“Mitt Romney is a basically small-business guy, if you really think about it. He was a hedge fund.  He was a funds guy. He walked away with some money from a very good company that he didn’t create. He worked there. He didn’t create it.”  

Donald Trump

Trump added that Bain Capital, the hedge fund where Romney made millions of dollars before running for governor, didn’t create any jobs. Whereas Trump claimed that he–Trump–had created “hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

So at least some observers must have been puzzled when Trump announced, on February 2, 2012: “It’s my honor, real honor and privilege, to endorse Mitt Romney” for President.

“Mitt is tough. He’s smart. He’s sharp. He’s not going to allow bad things to continue to happen to this country that we all love. So, Governor Romney, go out and get ’em. You can do it,” said Trump. 

And Romney, in turn, had his own swooning-girl moment: 

“I’m so honored to have his endorsement. There are some things that you just can’t imagine in your life. This is one of them.”  

Mitt Romney

Throughout the 2012 Presidential race, Trump continued to “help” Romney–by repeatedly accusing President Barack Obama of not being an American citizen.

Had that been true, Obama would not have had the right to be President–since the Constitution says that only an American citizen can hold this position.

Of course, that was entirely what Trump wanted people to believe– that Obama was an illegitimate President, and deserved to be thrown out.

Come election night–and disaster for Romney–and Trump.

When it became clear that Romney was not going to be America’s 45th President, Trump went ballistic on Twitter. 

Among his tweets:

  • More votes equals a loss…revolution! 
  • Lets fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice!  The world is laughing at us.
  • We can’t let this happen.  We should march on Washington and stop this travesty.  Our nation is totally divided! 
  • The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation.  The loser one! 
  • He lost the popular vote by a lot and won the election.  We should have a revolution in this country! 

To put Trump’s rants into real-world perspective:

According to Trump, the electoral process works when a Republican wins the Presidency. It only doesn’t work when a Democrat wins.

We should march on Washington” conjures up images of another Fascist–Benito Mussolini–marching on Rome at the head of his Blackshirts to seize power. 

“The phoney electoral college made a laughing stock out of our nation. The loser one!” 

This is startling, on three counts:

First, the 2012 Republican Platform spoke lovingly about the need for preserving the Electoral College: “We oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact or any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College.

“We recognize that an unconstitutional effort to impose ‘national popular vote’ would be a mortal threat to our federal system and a guarantee of corruption as every ballot box in every state would become a chance to steal the presidency.”

Second, the loser didn’t win: He lost.  With votes still being counted (as of November 8) Obama got 60,652,238. Romney got 57,810,407.

Third, in 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote (50,999,897) to George W. Bush’s 50,456,002. But Bush trounced Gore in the Electoral College (271 to 266).

Still, that meant Bush–not Gore–would head the country for the next eight years. And that was perfectly OK with Right-wingers like Trump.

It was only when Obama won the Electoral College count by 332 to 206 that this was–according to Trump–a “travesty.”

And Trump’s solution if voters dare to elect someone other than Trump’s pet choice: “Revolution!”

This comes perilously close to advocating violent overthrow of the government. Otherwise known as treason–a crime traditionally punished by execution, or at least lengthy imprisonment.

Fast forward, to 2016–and the relationship between Trump and Romney looks considerably different.

On June 16, 2015, Trump declared his candidacy for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination. Since then, he has been the first choice among the Republican base.  

At first, he was dismissed as a bad joke–by Republican Presidential candidates as well as Democrats. Surely voters would reject a bombastic, thrice-married “reality show” host who had filed for corporate bankruptcy four times.

Yet from the outset Trump dominated the field–and a series of Republican debates. The other Republican candidates watched him with envy–and desperately tried to steal some of his limelight.  

Making made one inflammatory statement after another, he offended one group of potential voters after another.  

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

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