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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.

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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.”

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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.

Chris Krebs official photo.jpg

Chris Krebs

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

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

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

Krebs’ to-do list included paper ballots:

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

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

Krebs’ duties included:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI’S MASTER CLASS ON CONSPIRACIES: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 4, 2021 at 12:31 am

More than 500 years ago, Niccolo Machiavelli, the Florentine statesman, authored The Discourses on Livy, a work of political history and philosophy. In it, he outlined how citizens of a republic can maintain their freedoms.  

One of the longest chapters—Book Three, Chapter Six—covers “Of Conspiracies.”  In it, those who wish to conspire against a ruler will find highly useful advice.  

And so will those who wish to foil such a conspiracy.  

For conspirators, there are three ways their efforts can be foiled. 

  • Discovery through denunciation;
  • Discovery through incautiousness;
  • Discovery through writings.

The first has already been covered. Now for the second and third.

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Discovery through Writings: You may talk freely with anyone man about everything, for unless you have committed yourself in writing, the “Yes” of one man is worth as much as the “No” of another. 

Thus, you should guard most carefully against writing, as against a dangerous rock, for nothing will convict you quicker than your own handwriting.

You may escape, then, from the accusation of a single individual, unless you are convicted by some writing or other pledge, which you should be careful never to give.  

If you are denounced, there are means of escaping punishment:

  • By denying the accusation and claiming that the person making it hates you; or
  • Claiming that your accuser was tortured or coerced into giving false testimony against you.

But the most prudent course is to not tell your intentions to anyone, and to carry out the attempt yourself.  

Even if you’re not discovered before you carry out your attack, there are still two dangers facing a conspirator:

Dangers in Execution: These result from:

  • An unexpected change in the routine of the intended target;
  • The lack of courage among the conspirators; or
  • An error on their part, such as leaving some of those alive whom the conspirators intended to kill.  

Adolf Hitler, who claimed to have a sixth-sense for danger, was famous for changing his routine at the last minute. 

On November 9, 1939, this instinct saved his life. He had been scheduled to give a long speech at a Munich beer hall before the “Old Fighters” of his storm troopers. 

But that evening he cut short his speech and left the beer hall. Forty-five minutes later, a bomb exploded inside a pillar—before which Hitler had been speaking.

Conspirators can also be doomed by their good intentions.  

In 44 B.C., Gaius Cassius, Marcus Brutus and other Roman senators decided to assassinate Julius Caesar, whose dictatorial ambitions they feared.

Cassius also intended to murder Mark Anthony, Caesar’s strongest ally. But Brutus objected, fearing the plotters would look like butchers, not saviors. Even worse, he allowed Anthony to deliver a eulogy at Caesar’s funeral.

This proved so inflammatory that the mourners rioted, driving the conspirators out of Rome. Soon afterward, they were defeated in a battle with the legions of Anthony and Octavian Caesar—and forced to commit suicide to avoid capture and execution.

Machiavelli closes his chapter “Of Conspiracies” with advice to rulers on how they should act when they find a conspiracy has been formed against them.  

If they discover that a conspiracy exists against them, they must, before punishing its authors, strive to learn its nature and extent. And they must measure the danger posed by the conspirators against their own strength.

And if they find it powerful and alarming, they must not expose it until they have amassed sufficient force to crush it. Otherwise, they will only speed their own destruction. They should try to pretend ignorance of it. If the conspirators find themselves discovered, they will be forced by necessity to act without consideration.  

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Niccolo Machiavelli

The foregoing was taken from Book Three, Chapter Six, of Machiavelli’s masterwork, The Discourses on Livy, which was published posthumously in 1531. But elsewhere in this volume, he notes how important it is for rulers to make themselves loved—or at least respected—by their fellow citizens: 

Note how much more praise those Emperors merited who, after Rome became an empire, conformed to her laws like good princes, than those who took the opposite course. 

Titus, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus and Marcus Auelius did not require the Praetorians nor the multitudinous legions to defend them, because they were protected by their own good conduct, the good will of the people, and by the love of the Senate.

On the other hand, neither the Eastern nor the Western armies saved Caligula, Nero, Vitellius and so many other wicked Emperors from the enemies which their bad conduct and evil lives had raised up against them.  

In his better-known work, The Prince, he warns rulers who—like Donald Trump–are inclined to rule by fear:

A prince should make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred: for fear and the absence of hatred may well go together.

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Donald Trump

By Machiavelli’s standards, Trump has made himself the perfect target for a conspiracy.

“When a prince becomes universally hated, it is likely that he’s harmed some individuals—who thus seek revenge. This desire is increased by seeing that the prince is widely loathed.”

NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI’S MASTER CLASS ON CONSPIRACIES: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 1, 2021 at 2:29 am

More than 500 years ago, Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science, offered sound advice for would-be conspirators—and for rulers seeking to thwart conspiracies.

He did so in The Discourses on Livy, a work of political history and philosophy. In it, he outlined how citizens of a republic can maintain their freedoms.  

One of the longest chapters—Book Three, Chapter Six—covers “Of Conspiracies.”  In it, those who wish to conspire against a ruler will find highly useful advice. And so will those who might well become the targets of conspiracies—such as President Donald J. Trump.

Niccolo Machiavellil

The most dangerous time for a ruler comes when he is universally hated.

Niccolo Machiavelli: When a prince becomes universally hated, it is likely that he’s harmed some individuals—who thus seek revenge. This desire is increased by seeing the prince is widely loathed. 

A prince, then, should avoid incurring such universal hatred….

By doing this, he protects himself from such vengeance-seekers. There are two reasons for this:

(1) Men rarely risk danger to avenge a wrong; and

(2) Even if they want to avenge a wrong, they know they will face almost universal condemnation because the prince is held in such high esteem.  

Machiavelli draws a distinction between plots and conspiracies.

A plot may be formed by a single individual or by many. The first isn’t a conspiracy, since that would involve at least two participants.  

A single plotter avoids the danger faced by two or more conspirators: 

Since no one knows his intention, he can’t be betrayed by an accomplice.  

Anyone may form a plot, whether he is prominent or insignificant, because everyone is at some time allowed to speak to the prince. And he can use this opportunity to satisfy his desire for revenge.    

On the other hand, says Machiavelli, the dangers of assassination by a trusted intimate are slight.

Few people dare to assault a prince. Of those who do, few or none escapes being killed in the attempt, or immediately afterward. As a result, only a small number of people are willing to incur such certain death.  

Those who take part in a conspiracy against a ruler are “the great men of the state, or those on terms of familiar intercourse with the prince.”

These are men who have access to him. Julius Caesar, for example, was stabbed to death by members of the Roman Senate, who feared his assuming dictatorial powers.

And Adolf Hitler was conspired against by colonels and generals of the German Army. He was in fact holding a war conference when a briefcase bomb exploded, killing three officers and a stenographer, but leaving Hitler only slightly injured.

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Adolf Hitler

There are three ways a conspiracy can be foiled:

  • Discovery through denunciation;
  • Discovery through incautiousness;
  • Discovery through writings.

Discovery through Denunciation: This occurs through treachery or lack of prudence among one or more conspirators.  

Treachery is so common that you can safely tell your plans to only your most trusted friends who are willing to risk their lives for your sake.  You may find that you have only one or two of these. 

But as you are bring more people into the conspiracy, the chances of discovery greatly increase. It’s impossible to find many who can be completely trusted: For their devotion to you must be greater than their sense of danger and fear of punishment.  

Discovery through Carelessness: This happens when one of the conspirators speaks incautiously, so that a third person overhears it  Or it may occur from thoughtlessness, when a conspirator tells the secret to his wife or child, or to some other indiscreet person.  

When a conspiracy has more than three or four members, its discovery is almost certain, either through treason, imprudence or carelessness. 

If more than one conspirator is arrested, the whole plot is discovered, for it will be impossible for any two to agree perfectly as to all their statements.  

If only one is arrested, he may—through courage and stubbornness—be able to conceal the names of his accomplices. But then the others, to remain safe, must not panic and flee, since this is certain to be discovered.

If one of them becomes fearful—whether it’s the one who was arrested or is still at liberty—discovery of the conspiracy is certain. 

The best way to avoid such detection is to confide your project to your intended fellow conspirators at the moment of execution—and not sooner.  

A classic example of this occurred in ancient Persia. According to the Greek historian Herodotus: A group of nobles assembled to discuss overthrowing a usurper to the throne. The last one to arrive was Darius.

When one of the conspirators asked, “When should we strike?” Darius replied: “We must either go now at this very moment and carry it into execution, or I shall go and denounce you all. For I will not give any of you time to denounce me.”

At that, they went directly to the palace, assassinated the usurper and proclaimed Darius their new king.

ONCE AGAIN, ACCOMPLICES TO OUR OWN DESTRUCTION: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on December 8, 2020 at 12:15 am

Once he became the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump began undermining one public or private institution after another.

On November 3, 80 million voters decided they wanted a change—and elected former Vice President Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

Trump refused to accept that verdict. Speaking from the White House in the early hours of November 4, he said:

“Millions and millions of people voted for us tonight, and a very sad group of people is trying to disenfranchise that group of people and we won’t stand for it.”

For the first time in American history, a President demanded a halt to the counting of votes while the outcome of an election hung in doubt.

States ignored his demand and kept counting.

Next, Trump ordered his attorneys to file lawsuits to overturn the election results, charging electoral fraud. Specifically:

  • Illegal aliens had been allowed to vote.
  • Trump ballots had been systematically destroyed.
  • Tampered voting machines had turned Trump votes into Biden ones.

Throughout November and December, cases were filed in Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia challenging the election results. And, one by one, more than 30 cases were withdrawn by Trump’s attorneys or dismissed by Federal judges—some of them appointed by Trump himself.

For 20 days, General Services Administrator Emily Murphy refused to release $7.3 million in transition funding and Federal resources to the President-elect’s team. Under the law governing presidential transitions, Murphy was responsible for determining the winner based on publicly available information before the actual Electoral College vote. 

Finally, on November 23, Murphy released the transition funding and resources.

Losing in the courts, Trump invited two Republican legislative leaders from Michigan to the White House to persuade them to stop the state from certifying the vote.

Nothing changed. 

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.

Meanwhile, top Republicans—such as Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—have refused to congratulate Biden as the winner. None of them branded Trump’s efforts to overturn the election as those of a tyrant.

Just as Germans did nothing to stop Adolf Hitler’s inexorable march toward war—and the destruction of millions of lives and Germany itself—so, too, do Americans seem paralyzed to put an end to the equally self-destructive reign of the man often dubbed “Carrot Caligula.”

Gaius Caligula was “the mad emperor” of ancient Rome. Like Trump, he lived by a philosophy of “Let them hate me, so long as they fear me.”

He ruled as the most powerful man of his time—three years, 10 months and eight days. And all but the first six months of his reign were drenched in slaughter and debauchery.

There are basically three ways America’s continuing slide into tyranny could be stopped:

First, Congressional Republicans could revolt against Trump’s authority and/or agenda. They could, for example, demand that Trump accept the verdict of the electorate—as every other past President has.

This is extremely unlikely to happen. Republicans fear that if they openly defy him, his fanatical base will turn on them in coming elections—and end their comfortable reign of power and privileges.

Second, invoking the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to recommend the removal of the President in cases where he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” It also allows the House and Senate to confirm the recommendation over the President’s objection by two-thirds vote. 

The Vice President then takes over as President.

A case could easily be made that Trump, emotionally distraught over his loss and determined to circumvent the will of the electorate, has been rendered unfit to continue in office.

This is also extremely unlikely. Most of Trump’s cabinet rightly fears him. He fired FBI Director James Comey in 2017 and publicly humiliated his Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for more than a year until firing him in 2018. Vice President Mike Pence in particular has set new records for sycophancy. 

Third, the “Caligula solution.” Like Trump, Caligula delighted in humiliating others. His fatal mistake was taunting Cassius Chaerea, a member of his own bodyguard. Caligula considered Chaerea effeminate because of a weak voice and mocked him with names like “Priapus” and “Venus.”

On January 22 41 A.D. Chaerea and several other bodyguards hacked Caligula to death with swords before other guards could save him.

Trump has similarly behaved arrogantly toward his Secret Service guards. He forced them to work without pay during his 35-day government shutdown in 2018. He has also forced them to accompany him to COVID-infected states—both during the Presidential campaign and afterward. Many of them have been stricken with this often lethal disease as a result.

Gaius Caligula

As Niccolo Machiavelli warns in The Discourses“When a prince becomes universally hated, it is likely that he’s harmed some individuals—who thus seek revenge. This desire is increased by seeing that the prince is widely loathed.”

ONCE AGAIN, ACCOMPLICES TO OUR OWN DESTRUCTION: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on December 7, 2020 at 12:24 am

“Why are we letting one man systematically destroy our nation before our eyes?” 

It’s a question millions of Americans have asked themselves since Donald Trump became President of the United States.

Millions of Germans asked themselves the same question throughout the six years of World War II.

In September, 1938, as Adolf Hitler threatened to go to war against France and England over Czechoslovakia, most Germans feared he would. They knew that Germany was not ready for war, despite all of their Fuhrer’s boasts about how invincible the Third Reich was.

A group of high-ranking German army officers was prepared to overthrow Hitler—provided that England and France held firm and handed him a major diplomatic reverse.

But then England and France—though more powerful than Germany—flinched at the thought of war.

They surrendered to Hitler’s demands that he be given the “Sudetenland”—the northern, southwest and western regions of Czechoslovakia, inhabited mostly by ethnic Germans.

Hitler’s popularity among Germans soared. He had expanded the territories of the Reich by absorbing Austria and Czechoslovakia—without a shot being fired!

The plotters in the German high command, realizing that public opinion stood overwhelmingly against them, abandoned their plans for a coup. They decided to wait for a more favorable time.

It never came.

Adolf Hitler and his generals

Less than one year after the infamous “Munich conference,” England and France were at war—and fighting for the lives of their peoples.

As for the Germans: Most of them blindly followed their Fuhrer right to the end—believing his lies (or at least wanting to believe them), serving in his legions, defending his rampant criminality.

And then, in April, 1945, with Russian armies pouring into Berlin, it was too late for conspiracies against the man who had led them to total destruction. 

Berliners paid the price for their loyalty to a murderous dictator—through countless rapes, murders and the wholesale destruction of their city. And from 1945 to 1989, Germans living in the eastern part of their country paid the price as slaves to the Soviet Union. 

Have Americans learned anything from this this warning from history about subservience to a madman? 

The answer seems to be half-yes, half-no.

In 2016, almost 63 million Americans elected Donald Trump—a racist, serial adulterer and longtime fraudster—as President.

On November 3, 2020, 81,255,933 Democratic voters outvoted  74,196,153 Republican voters to elect former Vice President Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

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Donald Trump

Upon taking office on January 20, 2017, Trump began undermining one public or private institution after another.

  • Repeatedly attacking the nation’s free press for daring to report his growing list of crimes and disasters, calling it “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Siding with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency which unanimously agreed that Russia had subverted the 2016 Presidential election. 
  • Firing FBI Director James Comey for investigating that subversion.
  • Giving Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey  Kislyak highly classified CIA Intelligence about an Islamic State plot to turn laptops into concealable bombs.  
  • Shutting down the Federal Government for 35 days because Democrats refused to fund his ineffective “border wall” between the United States and Mexico. An estimated 380,000 government employees were furloughed and another 420,000 were ordered to work without pay. The shutdown ended due to public outrage—without Trump getting the funding amount he had demanded.
  • Trying to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to smear former Vice President Joe Biden, who was likely to be his Democratic opponent in the 2020 Presidential election.
  • Allowing the deadly COVID-19 virus to ravage the country, infecting (to date) 14.8 million Americans and killing 282,000.
  • Attacking medical experts and governors who urged Americans to wear masks and socially distance to protect themselves from COVID-19.
  • Ordering his Right-wing followers to defy states’ orders to citizens to “stay-at-home” and wear of masks in public to halt surging COVID-19 rates.

And throughout all those outrages, House and Senate Republican majorities remained silent or vigorously supported him.

A typical example:

On June 4, 2020, during protests over the police murder of black security guard George Floyd, a curfew was imposed on Buffalo, New York. As police swept through Niagara Square, Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old peace activist with the Catholic Worker Movement, walked into their path as if attempting to speak with them.

Two officers pushed him and he fell backwards, hitting the back of his head on the pavement and losing consciousness. 

On June 9, Trump charged that Gugino was part of a radical leftist “set up.” Trump offered no evidence to back up his slander.

Typical Republican responses included:  

  • Kentucky Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to say whether Trump’s tweet was appropriate.
  • Texas Senator Ted Cruz: “I don’t comment on the tweets.” 
  • Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said he hadn’t seen the tweet—and didn’t want it read to him: “I would rather not hear it.”
  • Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander: “Voters can evaluate that. I’m not going to give a running commentary on the President’s tweets.”

On November 3, 2020, 80 million voters decided they wanted a change—and elected former Vice President Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States.

AMERICA’S FUHRER AS “YOUR LAW AND ORDER PRESIDENT”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 9, 2020 at 12:03 am

Eighty-six years after Adolf Hitler declared himself “the Supreme Judge of the German people,” the United States faces the same fate under President Donald J. Trump.

On September 2, Trump sent a memo to Russell T. Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Attorney General William P. Barr. Its message: Find ways to cut funding to several cities controlled by Democrats.

Trump singled out four cities for defunding: Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; Seattle, Washington; and New York City.

Trump gave his official reason for this move: “Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.”

He blames rising crime rates on Black Lives Matter protesters and blacks who have looted and burned stores during nationwide protests against police brutality. And he claims that only he can save America from a civil war ignited by such protesters.

Do Black Lives Matter | Racism | Police Brutality | USA

At the same time, he has totally ignored—or  defended—armed white militias who have faced off with Black Lives Matter protesters.

The memo seemed especially aimed at New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio and the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, have been highly critical of Trump’s failure to stem the Coronavirus pandemic.

On Twitter, Cuomo accused Trump of trying to strip funding that cities and states need to recover from Coronavirus: “He is not a king. He cannot ‘defund’ NYC. It’s an illegal stunt.” 

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Andrew Cuomo

Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for de Blasio, tweeted: “As much as Donald Trump wants New York City to drop dead, we will never let this stand. This has nothing to do with ‘law and order’. This is a racist campaign stunt out of the Oval Office to attack millions of people of color.”

Trump’s directive “intrudes on Congress’ power of the purse, would never stand up in court and is nothing more than a distraction from the fact that Americans are less safe under the Trump administration,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the Democratic majority of the House Appropriations Committee.

“It seems the only place where there is no respect for the rule of law is the White House,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said.

She attacked Trump’s move as a tactic to further divide Americans when the Coronavirus pandemic demanded leadership and unity. 

Trump “continues to believe that disenfranchising people living in this country to advance his petty grudges is an effective political strategy,” tweeted Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

On June 1, Trump declared: ”I am your President of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.” 

But on that same evening, Trump ordered police, Secret Service agents and National Guard troops to violently remove peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, which borders St. John’s Church near the White House.

They were protesting the murder of George Floyd, a black unemployed restaurant security guard, by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25.

The purpose of the removal: To allow Trump to have a photo op outside the church.  

Why Violent Protests Work

Donald Trump at St. John’s Church

As for his claim of being “your President of law and order.”

Trump is only the third United States President—after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton—to be impeached. Charged with obstruction of Congress and abuse of power by a Democratic House of Representatives, he was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate on February 5.  

In addition, Trump has waged all-out war on the following legal institutions:

  • The FBI: When FBI Director James Comey dared to pursue a probe into Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential election on Trump’s behalf, Trump fired him without warning on May 9, 2017. 
  • The Justice Department: Trump repeatedly attacked his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for not “protecting” him from agents pursuing the Russia investigation. On November 7, 2018, the day after Democrats won a majority of House seats, Trump fired Sessions.
  • The Special Counsel: He tried to fire Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, the man appointed to investigate the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election.
  • The Judiciary: On October 20, 2018, Trump attacked U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar as an “Obama judge.” Tigar had ruled that the administration must consider asylum claims no matter where migrants cross the U.S. border. 
  • The Electoral Process: On September 2, Trump urged residents in the critical political battleground of North Carolina to try to vote twice in the Nov. 3 election, once by mail and once in person—a totally illegal act..

On the private-sector front: 

  • On December 10, 2019, Trump paid $2 million to eight charities as part of a settlement where he admitted to misusing funds raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation. These had been used to promote his presidential bid and pay off business debts. He was forced to close the charity as a result.
  • Legal action also forced Trump to shut down his unaccredited Trump University, which the conservative magazine National Review described as a “massive scam.” Although he boasted that he never settled lawsuits, he settled this one in November, 2016, for a reported $25 million rather than go to trial. 

When Donald Trump calls himself a “law and order President,” he means: “My order is your law.”

AMERICA’S FUHRER AS “YOUR LAW AND ORDER PRESIDENT” PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 8, 2020 at 12:06 am

On June 30, 1934, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler ordered a massive purge of his private army, the S.A., or Brownshirts. It was carried out by Hitler’s elite army-within-an-army, the Schutzstaffel, or Protective Squads, better known as the SS.

The Brownshirts (also known as “Stiormtroopers”) had been instrumental in securing Hitler’s rise to Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. They had intimidated political opponents (especially Communists) and organized mass rallies for the Nazi Party.

But after Hitler reached the pinnacle of power, they became a liability.

Ernst Rohm, their commander, had served as a tough army officer during World War 1. He was one of the few men allowed to use “du,” the personal form of “you” in German, when addressing Hitler.

Rohm urged Hitler to disband the regular German army, the Reichswehr, and replace it with his own undisciplined paramilitary legions as the nation’s defense force.

Ernst Rohm

Frightened by Rohm’s ambitions, the generals of the Reichswehr gave Hitler an ultimatum: Get rid of Rohm—or they would get rid of him.

Hitler didn’t hesitate. Backed by armed thugs, he stormed into Rohm’s apartment, catching him in bed with a young S.A. Stormtrooper.

Accusing his onetime friend of treasonously plotting to overthrow him, Hitler screamed: “You’re going to be shot!”

Rohm was not plotting a coup. But the generals had the whip hand—and, for Hitler, that was enough to literally sign Rohm’s death warrant.

Hours later, sitting in a prison cell, Rohm was offered a pistol with a single bullet.

“Adolf himself should do the dirty work,” said Rohm, adding: “All revolutions devour their own children.”

One hour later, Rohm died in a hail of SS bullets.

Earlier throughout that day, so had several hundred of his longtime S.A. cronies. Many of them yelled “Heil Hitler!” as they stood against barracks walls waiting to be shot.

SS firing squad

Thirteen days later, addressing the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament, Hitler justified his purge in a nationally broadcast speech:  “If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not  resort  to the  regular courts of justice, then all  I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the Supreme Judge of the German people! 

“I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason, and I further gave the order to cauterize down to the raw flesh the ulcers of this poisoning of the wells in our domestic life.

“Let the nation know that its existence—which depends on its internal order and security—cannot be threatened with impunity by anyone! And let it be known for all time to come that if anyone raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot.”

On This Day: Nazi Germany Invades Poland, Starting World War II

Adolf Hitler addressing parliament

Eighty-six years after Adolf Hitler declared himself “the Supreme Judge of the German people,” the United States faces the same fate under President Donald J. Trump.

On September 2, Trump sent a memo to Russell T. Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Attorney General William P. Barr. Its title: “Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence and Destruction in American Cities.” 

Both officials were ordered to find ways to cut funding to several cities controlled by Democrats.

Related image

Donald Trump

Accusing local and state officials of abdicating their duties, Trump wrote: “Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.” 

In his memo, Trump ordered Vought to issue guidance in 30 days “to the heads of agencies on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of Federal grants.”

And he gave Barr 14 days to identify “anarchist jurisdictions” that “permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures” to restore order.

Trump singled out four cities for defunding: Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; Seattle, Washington; and New York City.

The move threatens billions of dollars for many of the country’s largest urban cities.

But protecting American citizens from crime is not the real reason for this effort.

Polls show Trump trailing his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. As a result, Trump is resorting to the classic Republican tactics of smear and fear.

He wants to shift public attention from his failure to halt the escalating Coronavirus pandemic—which has already killed more than 189,000 Americans and left 25 million unemployed.

He also wants to turn Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality into white counter-protest at the ballot box.

Trump has long relied on divide-and-rule tactics to gain and hold power. He hopes to persuade suburban whites that he is the only thing standing between them and a black crime wave about to engulf them.

The hatred that millions of older whites—especially rural ones—felt for most of their fellow Americans gave Trump the White House in 2016. Trump hopes that such hatred—combined with fear—will do it again in 2020.

PUBLIC RELATIONS: FEAR VS. LOVE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 10, 2020 at 12:08 am

Donald Trump believes himself to be a genius at public relations and salesmanship. And Julie Talenfeld, an award-winning and highly respected marketing communications professional, agrees with him.

Calling Trump “our generation’s greatest salesman,” the president of BoardroomPR writes:  “…In Trump we have a true master marketer. He tore through the U.S. presidential election process and, without spending much – if any – of his own money, and cast aside an impressive line-up of Republican contenders on his way to beating Hillary Clinton.”

Julie Silver Talenfeld

  Julie Talenfeld

How did he do it?

Talenfeld lays out four reasons:

  1. He captured the news headlines from the very start.
  2. He mastered wordplay.
  3. He’s all about image and stagecraft.
  4. He’s a master of the media.

But on June 1, Trump’s mastery of the media failed him. 

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a black unemployed restaurant security guard, had been murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Chauvin kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. 

Cities across the United States erupted in mass protests over Floyd’s death—and police killings of black victims generally. Most of these demonstrations proved peaceful.

But cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City saw stores looted, vandalized and/or burned.

On June 1, President Trump ordered police, Secret Service agents and National Guard troops to violently remove peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, which borders St. John’s Church near the White House. 

The reason: To allow Trump to have a photo opportunity outside the church.

“We have a great country,” said Trump. “We have the best country in the world…we will make it even greater. And it won’t take long….It’s coming back strong. It’ll be greater than ever before.”

Why Violent Protests Work

Donald Trump at St. John’s Church

“I imposed a curfew at 7pm,” tweeted Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful!”

Video of the assault spread quickly on social media and news outlets, sparking nationwide outrage. 

In addition, Trump turned the normally well-protected White House into an armed fortress. Blocks of tall, black reinforced fencing were erected. Military vehicles patrolled Pennsylvania Avenue.

Lafayette Square, across from the White House—normally occupied by selfie-taking tourists—was fenced off and filled with heavily-armed National Guard troops and Secret Service agents.

Even worse: on the night of May 29, Trump was briefly taken to the White House underground bunker as protesters gathered outside the Executive Mansion following George Floyd’s death. He was there for a little under an hour.

But the PR damage was done. For millions, he would now be “The Bunker Bitch.”

Contrast that with the example of Sheriff Christopher Swanson of Genesee County, Michigan. 

Walk with us!': Sheriff in Michigan shows solidarity to protestors ...

Sheriff Christopher Swanson

Confronting a mass of aroused demonstrators in Flint Township on May 30, Swanson responded: “We want to be with you all for real.”

Swanson removed his helmet. His deputies laid their batons down.

“I want to make this a parade, not a protest. So, you tell us what you need to do.”

“Walk with us!” the protesters shouted.

“Let’s walk, let’s walk,” said Swanson. 

Cheering and applause resounded.

“Let’s go, let’s go,” Swanson said as he and the cheering crowd proceeded. “Where do you want to walk? We’ll walk all night.”

And Swanson and his fellow officers walked in sympathy with the protesters.

No rioting followed. 

Appearing on The PBS Newshour on June 1, Swanson said:

“I can tell you that that night on May 30 made history on how to handle protests in a way that was honorable. Our city is already under enough oppression. We are already dealing with economic issues, a water crisis, and a pandemic.

“And it was just the right thing to do. As a veteran police officer who knows the community, I saw acts of kindness with fist bump, a small hug. And I went to my right, and I saw that. And I said, I’m taking the helmet off. We’re putting our batons down and I’m walking in the crowd.

“And when I did that, that act of vulnerability, probably wasn’t the best tactical move, by any means. It sent a message. And that message was that I need to say, we don’t agree, that’s not who we are, what happened to Mr. Floyd.

“And when I said that to the crowd, the second question, what do we need to do now is to walk with us, that changed everything, because now they had a voice. And they wanted somebody to listen to, and that’s what was the change agent. 

“I love my people. I love the people of the community. I have served them for my entire adult life. I felt comfortable, although not the best tactical decision, as I mentioned. But I knew that, if I laid down my weapons and I walked in, in a position of vulnerability, they would see this as an action, not just words.”

TRUMP AS CHURCHILL: AN OUTLANDISH COMPARISON

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 9, 2020 at 12:07 am

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a black unemployed restaurant security guard, was murdered by Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer. While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Chauvin kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. 

Cities across the United States erupted in mass protests over Floyd’s death—and police killings of black victims generally. Most of these demonstrations proved peaceful.

But cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City saw stores looted, vandalized and/or burned. In response, President Donald Trump called for harsh policing, telling governors in a nationwide conference call that they must “dominate” protesters or be seen as “weak.”

Two men on an asphalt surface, behind a black van on which the letters "EAPOLIS" is seen, with a license plate ending "ICE". One man has light skin, a blue shirt with identifying badges on his chest and shoulder, black pants and boots, and black sunglasses pushed to the top of his close-shorn head. He is kneeling with his left knee and upper shin resting on the neck of the other man, and his right knee out of sight behind the van. The other man is lying prone, with his left cheek pressed against the asphalt close to a painted line. He is dark-skinned, with similarly short hair, and is not wearing a shirt; His mouth is slightly open, his eyes are closed with his eyebrows raised, and his arms are down, not visible behind the van. The kneeling man has his left hand in a dark glove, with his right arm hidden behind the van, and is looking at the viewer with his eyebrows slightly lifted and mouth slightly open.

Death of George Floyd

To drive home his point, on June 1, Trump ordered police, Secret Service agents and National Guard troops to violently remove peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, which borders St. John’s Church near the White House. 

The purpose of the removal: To allow Trump to have a photo opportunity outside the church.  

“I imposed a curfew at 7pm,” tweeted Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. “A full 25 minutes before the curfew & w/o provocation, federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult. Shameful!”

Video of the assault spread quickly on social media and news outlets, sparking outrage. The next day, the US Park Police (USPP) responded to the criticisms: “No tear gas was used by USPP officers or other assisting law enforcement partners to close the area at Lafayette Park.”

But the agency admitted that, while it hadn’t used tear gas, it had used smoke canisters and pepper balls. In addition, police used horses, shields and batons to beat back the demonstrators.

Patch of the United States Park Police.png

While the protesters were being cleared from the area, Trump appeared in the White House Rose Garden and said: “I will fight to protect you—I am your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters.”

This from the man who had been impeached by the House of Representatives in December, 2019, for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Only a majority-Republican Senate—fearful of losing their seats if they convicted Trump on the overwhelming evidence presented against him—had saved him from ouster.

On June 3, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany compared Trump’s photo-op in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church to former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s visits to bombed British cities during World War II:

“Through all of time, we have seen presidents and leaders across the world who have had leadership moments and very powerful symbols that were important for a nation to see at any given time to show a message of resilience and determination.

“Like Churchill, we saw him inspecting the bombing damage. It sent a powerful message of leadership to the British people.”

White House Press Briefing (49866894636) (cropped).jpg

Kayleigh McEnany

Comparing Trump to Churchill proved a huge leap of imagination on McEnany’s part.

For starters, Churchill was an avowed and relentless opponent of Fascism—and especially its most infamous exponent, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler.

During the 1930s, as Europe’s democracies ignored or quailed before Nazi threats, Churchill demanded that England arm for the coming war against Nazi Germany.

Trump, a Fascistic dictator by nature, tries to rule by fiat and identifies with dictators—most notably Communist ones, such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un.

Second, throughout World War II, Churchill had only one bodyguard—Inspector Walter Thompson, of Scotland Yard’s Special Branch. 

Winston Churchill (testing a submachinegun); Walter Thompson (in black fedora)

During bombing raids, Churchill often climbed atop London buildings to watch the bombardment—or raced to cities he had just learned were under attack.

Trump, on the other hand, is regularly protected by hundreds of Secret Service agents who are supplemented by hundreds of local police. 

Moreover, Trump has turned the normally well-protected White House into an armed fortress. Block after block of tall, black reinforced fencing has been erected in recent days. Tan military vehicles roll along Pennsylvania Avenue and camo-clad troops patrol the corner where tourists used to buy red, white and blue USA sweatshirts.

Lafayette Square, across from the White House—normally full of selfie-taking tourists—is now behind the steel fence perimeter and filled with heavily-armed National Guard troops and Secret Service agents.

Third, as a young man, Churchill had served his country as a second lieutenant in the Fourth Queen’s Own Hussars regiment of the British Army. He volunteered to campaign against Islamic rebels in the Swat Valley of north-west India. In Egypt, he joined the 21st Lancers and subsequently saw action in the Battle of Omdurman.

Trump, on the other hand, used his father’s influence to win five draft deferments during the Vietnam war—four allowing him to complete college and one for “bone spurs.”

There is a lesson here for Kayleigh McEnany—and all future Trump apologists: Do your homework before you make easily-debunked claims on his behalf.

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