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Posts Tagged ‘THE GUARDIAN’

DYING FOR A HOAX THAT WASN’T

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on September 30, 2022 at 12:12 am

Well, come on all of you Right-wing men
Donald Trump needs your help again.
He’s got himself in a terrible jam
He’s spread a virus throughout the land.
So throw off those masks, give a big cheer
Your Coronavirus-in-Chief is here!

“I think I made a mistake. I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”

So spoke a 30-year-old patient who died at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. His last words came after attending a so-called “COVID party,” according to the hospital.

Methodist Hospital announced today that... - Methodist Healthcare ...

Methodist Hospital

According to Dr. Jane Appleby, chief medical officer for Methodist Hospital and Methodist Children’s Hospital: “Someone will be diagnosed with the disease, and they’ll have a party to invite their friends over to see if they can beat the disease.

“One of the things that was heart-wrenching that he said to his nurse was, ‘You know, I think I made a mistake.’ And this young man went to a COVID party.. He didn’t really believe. He thought the disease was a hoax. He thought he was young and invincible and wouldn’t get affected by the disease.”

And it’s one-two-three
What are they dyin’ for?
Don’t ask em’, they don’t give a damn
Right here in COVID-land.
And it’s five-six-seven
Open up those graveyard gates
Well, there ain’t no time to wonder why
Whoopee! They’re all going to die.

It’s understandable that this patient believed COVID-19 was a hoax. He was, after all, from Texas, which overwhelmingly gave its votes to Donald J. Trump in 2016.

And it was President Trump who infamously said, on February 28, 2020: “Now the Democrats are politicizing the Coronavirus….We did one of the great jobs….One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia’….They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax….It’s all turning, they lost….And this is their new hoax.”

“Hoax” is one of Trump’s favorite words. 

He called the well-documented ties between Russian Intelligence agents and his 2016 Presidential campaign “a hoax.”

Ditto for the efforts of the House of Representatives to remove him for trying to extort Ukraine into smearing then-former Vice President Joe Biden: “The impeachment hoax.” 

Climate change, for Trump, is “an expensive hoax.” 

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

“Trump is trying to undermine the trustworthiness of any source but himself,” said Margaret Levi, professor of political science at Stanford University. “The point is to make himself the only credible authority, to be fully trusted as a ‘war-time’ president.”  

And in the case of the anonymous San Antonio patient—and untold numbers of his other supporters—he succeeded brilliantly.  To their misfortune.

Well, grifters and traitors throughout the land
Pack yourselves off to COVID-land.
Don’t be shy, don’t hesitate
Satan is ready, so don’t make ‘em wait.
Just be glad that Donald Trump’s your man
As you’re dyin’ off as fast as you can.

By July 11, 2020, there were 8,332 new confirmed Coronavirus cases in Texas, according to a New York Times database. More than 258,000 cases and more than 3,200 deaths have been recorded in Texas so far.

Yet for those attending the Coronavirus party, such facts meant nothing compared to the assurances of Donald Trump—a proven serial liar—that there was nothing to fear.

“People will come in[to the hospital] initially, and they don’t look so bad,” said Appleby. “They don’t look really sick. But when you check their oxygen levels and their lab tests, they’re really sicker than they appear on the surface.” 

Among the COVID-19 danger signs to look for, advised Appleby: If you’re not feeling well, have a high fever, cough and severe muscle aches.

Well, come on Republicans, let’s move fast,
Your big chance is here at last.
It doesn’t matter that Trump is Red
As he walks on the bodies of Americans dead.
Just be sure Vlad Putin knows your name
Treason’s just a part of your game.
 

Meanwhile, Trump was trying to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease expert.

The reason: Fauci had not hesitated to warn about the dangers of COVID-19—and the failures of the Federal Government to effectively control it.

Green Bay Packers: While Dr. Anthony Fauci expresses concerns, NFL ...

Anthony Fauci

Trump saw the virus not as a danger to Americans but to his chances for re-election. Among his “efforts” to “deal” with it:

  • Denying the dangers of the virus
  • Lying about the extent of its spread
  • Pitting states against each other for scarce medical supplies
  • Seizing medical supplies ordered by states
  • Demanding an end to governors’ “stay-at-home” orders so the country can “reopen”—before proper safeguards can be installed.

For tyrants, truth is always the most dangerous enemy.

As World War II went increasingly against Nazi Germany, those who dared to say “The war is lost” were strung up with piano wire—often on lamp posts, as a warning to others.

Denying the truth didn’t save the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler. And it didn’t save the would-be dictatorship of Donald Trump

And it’s one-two-three
What are they dyin’ for?
Don’t ask em’, they don’t give a damn
Right here in COVID-land.
And it’s five-six-seven
Open up those graveyard gates
Well, there ain’t no time to wonder why
Whoopee! They’re all going to die.

AMERICA’S CHOICE: FREEDOM–OR FASCISM: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 29, 2022 at 12:15 am

On November 22, 2019, Mark Shields—a liberal syndicated columnist—and David Brooks—a conservative one for The New York Timesreached disturbingly similar conclusions about President Donald Trump’s efforts to extort a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

DAVID BROOKS: “What strikes me [is] that everyone was in the loop, that this was not something they tried to hide.

“This was just something they thought was the way politics gets done or foreign policy gets done, that there’s no division between personal gain and public service.”

MARK SHIELDS: “What I have underestimated….is the fear that Donald Trump exercises over Republicans. I mean, people talked about Lyndon Johnson being a fearsome political leader. They don’t even approach. I mean, he strikes fear into the hearts of Republicans up and down the line. And I think that….has been eye-opening in its dimensions.”

Nor did the GOP try to reign Trump in.

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

For example:

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

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

Republican Disc.svg

GOP logo.svg

On November 21, 2019, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, attacked Republicans’ total rejection of the overwhelming evidence linking Trump with extortion:

Adam Schiff official portrait.jpg

Adam Schiff

“But apparently, it’s all hearsay. Even when you actually hear the President….that’s hearsay. We can’t rely on people saying what the President said. Apparently, we can only rely on what the President says, and there, we shouldn’t even rely on that either….

“We should imagine he said something about actually fighting corruption, instead of what he actually said, which was, ‘I want you to do us a favor, though. I want you to look into this 2016 CrowdStrike conspiracy theory, and I want you to look into the Bidens.’

“I guess we’re not even supposed to rely on that because that’s hearsay….That would be like saying you can’t rely on the testimony of the burglars during Watergate because it’s only hearsay, or you can’t consider the fact that they tried to break in because they got caught. They actually didn’t get what they came for, so, you know, kind of no harm, no foul. That’s absurd.

“The difference between [Watergate and Trump’s attempted extortion of Ukraine] is not the difference between [Richard] Nixon and [Donald] Trump. It’s the difference between that Congress and this one. And so, we are asking, where is Howard Baker? Where are the people who are willing to go beyond their party to look to their duty? 

“But the other defense besides ‘It failed, the scheme failed, they got caught,’ the other defense is ‘The President denies it.’ Well, I guess that’s case closed, right?

“….This President believes he is above the law, beyond accountability. And in my view, there is nothing more dangerous than an unethical President who believes they are above the law.”

* * * * *

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

It’s the polarization between

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

Those who hoped that Republicans would choose patriotism over partisanship got their answer on February 5, 2020. That was when the Republican-dominated Senate—ignoring the overwhelming evidence against him—acquitted Donald Trump on both impeachment articles: Obstruction of Congress and Abuse of Power.

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

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

There is no middle ground. 

AMERICA’S CHOICE: FREEDOM–OR FASCISM: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 28, 2022 at 12:07 am

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

And it opened:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consider the face-off between President Donald J. Trump and Army Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman.

Vindman is a retired United States Army officer who served as the Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council. He was also a witness to Trump’s efforts to extort “a favor” from the president of Ukraine.

Alexander Vindman on May 20, 2019.jpg

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman

Адміністрація Президента України [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D

In July, 2019, Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to withhold almost $400 million in promised military aid for Ukraine, which faced increasing aggression from Russia.

On July 25, Trump telephoned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “request” a “favor”: Investigate 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who had had business dealings in Ukraine.

The reason for such an investigation: To find embarrassing “dirt” on Biden.

It was clear that unless Zelensky found “dirt” on Biden, the promised aid would not be forthcoming.

“I was concerned by the call,” Vindman, who had heard Trump’s phone call, testified before the House Intelligence Committee. “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. Government’s support of Ukraine.

“I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security.”

Trump denounced Vindman as a “Never Trumper”—as if opposing his extortion attempt constituted a blasphemy. Republicans and their shills on the Fox News Network attacked him as well. As a result, he sought physical protection by the Army for himself and his family. 

(On February 7, 2020,  he was reassigned from the National Security Council at Trump’s order.)

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Donald Trump

On November 15, 2019, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks and liberal syndicated columnist Mark Shields appeared on The PBS Newshour to offer their reactions by Republicans and Democrats to Trump’s extortion attempt.

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David Brooks and Mark Shields on “The PBS Newshour”

DAVID BROOKS: “The case is very solid and airtight that there was the quid pro quo. All the testimony points to that. And, mostly, you see a contrast. The first two gentlemen that testified on the first day, they were just upstanding, solid public servants.

“I felt like I was looking back in time, because I was looking at two people who are not self-centered. They cared about the country. They were serving. They had no partisan ax to grind. They were just honest men of integrity.

“And I thought we saw that again today with [former Ambassador to Ukraine] Marie Yovanovitch. And in her case, the day was more emotional, because you got to see a case of bullying against a strong, upstanding woman.

“And so I thought she expressed—like, the heavy moments of today where when she expressed her reaction to how badly she was treated. And so that introduces an element of emotion and pathos into what shouldn’t be just a legal proceeding. It should be something where people see the contrast between good people and bad people.” 

MARK SHIELDS: This is a story of corruption—corruption not in Ukraine, corruption in the United States.

“I mean, why? Why did they go to such lengths to denigrate, to attack, to try and destroy and sabotage the career of a dedicated public servant [United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich], a person who had put her life on the line? Why did they do it? What was it, money? Was it power?”

YOUR FRIENDS AS YOUR WORST ENEMIES: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on September 27, 2022 at 12:11 am

Donald Trump—before, during and after his Presidency—has always preferred “journalists” who toss him softball questions and repeatedly pay homage to him.  

Such a “journalist” is Sean Hannity, host of the Fox Network’s Sean Hannity Show.

On September 21, Hannity—who had “interviewed” Trump on many other occasions, did so again.

From the outset, he made his intentions clear: To exonerate Trump—who is now facing multiple civil and criminal investigations—from all accusations.     

Hannity opened by attacking Trump’s longtime foe, New York Attorney General Letitia James:

“Take a look at New York Attorney General Letitia James. Now, today she filed a lawsuit against Donald Trump and three of his children and other entities, claiming that they inflated the value of the Trump Organization. It is nothing short of a very obvious political stunt. It is not a criminal case. It is a civil case….

Sean Hannity 2020.jpg

Sean Hannity

“Now, the attorney general isn’t even trying to hide her efforts to weaponize justice in New York State. Her conduct is deeply unethical at best.”

Then Hannity moved on to other “Trump haters”:

“But she’s not alone, you know, from the Trump haters on Capitol Hill, high-ranking deep state bureaucrats in the DOJ, the FBI. Now we have witnessed, going on many years, the 45th president has been the subject of what is non-stop, never-ending legal scrutiny focused not on a specific crime but on the man himself.”

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Donald Trump

Then he moved on—inevitably—to attacking former Secretary of State and 2016 Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton:  

“And, by the way, the president can declassify any of these documents—unlike, for example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she cannot.

“Still, she stored 110 classified documents on unsecured private servers. Hillary Clinton was never forced to endure a federal raid. She was never charged with any crime.”

Hannity then ran a clip of former FBI Director James Comey saying of Clinton: “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

But Hannity did not say that Trump, on becoming President, fired Comey for investigating the proven ties between Trump’s Presidential campaign and operatives for Russian president Vladimir Putin.

All of this undoubtedly made Trump feel vindicated and comfortable. Too comfortable, as matters turned out.

When Trump left the White House on January 20, 2021, he illegally took highly-classified government documents to his private club, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida.

On August 8, FBI agents searched Mar-a-Lago to recover those documents. Among those retrieved: Eleven sets of classified documents, four of them tagged as “Top Secret” and one as “Top Secret/SCI,” the highest level of classification.

How the Photo of Top Secret Folders at Trump's Home Came About - The New York Times

Documents found at Trump’s residence

Continuing to exonerate Trump, no matter what the offense, Hannity said: “OK. You have said on Truth Social a number of times you did declassify—”

TRUMP: “I did declassify.”

HANNITY: “OK. Is there a process—what was your process to declassify?”

TRUMP: “There doesn’t have to be a process, as I understand it. You know, there’s—different people say different things, but as I understand there doesn’t have to be.

“If you’re the President of the United States, you can declassify just by saying, ‘It’s declassified.’ Even by thinking about it, because you’re sending it to Mar-a-Lago or to wherever you’re sending it.”

Not even Trump’s attorneys have dared to make such an argument. Not when they demanded a “Special Master” to comb through the seized documents—allegedly so those that belonged to Trump could be returned to him.

Nor did they make such an assertion when, before Special Master Judge Raymond Dearie, they refused to state the process by which Trump had allegedly declassified the documents.

The media—and Trump’s many enemies—quickly seized upon this mind-blowing claim. Late-night TV hosts in particular milked it for laughs.

The Daily Show host Trevor Noah:  How could Trump “declassify documents with his brain” when he couldn’t even “read documents with his brain?”

“If Trump actually had the power to change things just by thinking about them,” joked Jimmy Kimmel, “Don Jr. would have turned into a Big Mac 30 years ago.”  

Nor did Kimmel pass up the opportunity to stick a barb into Hannity: “His approach was basically, ‘Show me on the doll where the FBI investigated you.’ I mean you have to hand it to Sean. When life gives him felons, he makes felon-ade!”

On a serious level, Trump’s outlandish assertion is liable to hurt his—or his attorneys’—appearances before various state and federal judges. 

More than 500 years ago, Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern politics, warned that a prince must guard against being taken lightly—and, worse, expose himself to ridicule.

In his book, The Prince, Machiavelli writes: “…He ought….to pay attention to [guilds and classes], mingle with them from time to time, and give them an example of his humanity and munificence, always upholding, however, the majesty of his dignity, which must never be allowed to fail in anything whatever.”

It’s hard to be taken seriously when you claim supernatural powers denied to other, mere mortals. 

YOUR FRIENDS AS YOUR WORST ENEMIES: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on September 26, 2022 at 12:10 am

It’s a truth well-known to cross-examining attorneys: The best way to obtain the truth is often to “kill your opponents with kindness.”

Witnesses always expect the opposing counsel to immediately start screaming at them. But that only causes the witness to stay alert and say as little as possible.

So the smart attorney comes on as courteous, friendly, even sympathetic.

Image result for Images of justice

A classic example of this: A laborer claimed to have permanently injured his shoulder in a railway accident, leaving him unable to work. He claimed he could no longer raise his arm above a point parallel with his shoulder.

The railway’s attorney asked him a few sympathetic questions about his injuries. And the witness quickly volunteered that he was in constant pain and a near-invalid.

“And, as a result of the accident, how high can you raise your arm?” asked the attorney.

The witness slowly raised his arm parallel with his shoulder.

“Oh, that’s terrible,” said the attorney.

Then: “How high could you get it up before the accident?”

Unthinkingly, the witness extended his arm to its full height above his head—to the laughter of the judge, jury and spectators.

Case dismissed.

In politics, sometimes your best friends turn out to be your worst enemies.

Kevin McCarthy proved this during his September 30, 2015 appearance on Fox News.

McCarthy, the Republican member of the House of Representatives from Bakersfield, California, was undoubtedly feeling relaxed.

After all, he wasn’t being interviewed by such “enemies” of the Right as The New York Times or MSNBC political commentator Rachel Maddow.

He was being interviewed by Sean Hannity, a Right-wing political commentator whose books included Conservative Victory: Defeating Obama’s Radical Agenda and Deliver Us From Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism.

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Sean Hannity

The topic under discussion: Who would be the next Republican Speaker of the House, now that John Boehner had announced his decision to leave not only the Speakership but the House itself in November?

Now Hannity wanted to know what would happen when the next Republican Speaker took office. And McCarthy—who was in the running for the position—was eager to tell him.

“What you’re going to see is a conservative Speaker, that takes a conservative Congress, that puts a strategy to fight and win.

“And let me give you one example. Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?

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Kevin McCarthy

“But we put together a Benghazi special committee. A select committee. What are her [poll] numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known that any of that had happened had we not fought to make that happen.”

In 51 words, McCarthy revealed that:

  • The House Select Committee on Benghazi was not a legitimate investigative body.
  • Its purpose was not to investigate the 2012 deaths of four American diplomats during a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya.
  • Its real purpose was to destroy the Presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton.
  • To accomplish this, its members spent 17 months and wasted more than $4.5 million of American taxpayers’ funds.

On October 8, 2015, Republicans were expected to choose their nominee for Speaker. On that same date, McCarthy announced that he was withdrawing his name from consideration:

“Over the last week it has become clear to me that our Conference is deeply divided and needs to unite behind one leader. I have always put this Conference ahead of myself. Therefore I am withdrawing my candidacy for Speaker of the House.”

When reporters asked McCarthy if his revelation was the reason he withdrew, he replied, “Well, that wasn’t helpful.”

But then he quickly replayed the official Republican version: “But this Benghazi committee was only created for one purpose: to find the truth on behalf of the families for the four dead Americans.”

On October 29, 2015, Republicans—holding the majority of House members–elected Paul Ryan, (Wisconsin) the 54th speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

Democrats and Republicans were united in their anger that the real reason for the Benghazi “investigation” had been revealed.

Democrats were furious that McCarthy, in an unguarded moment, had revealed that their major Presidential candidate had been the victim of a Republican smear campaign disguised as a legitimate inquiry.

And Republicans were furious that McCarthy, in an unguarded moment, had revealed that the “legitimate inquiry” had been nothing more than a Republican smear campaign.

For McCarthy, the Benghazi Committee had legitimately served the nation—not by uncovering relevant details about a terrorist act but by causing Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers to drop.

In 1981, President Ronald Reagan had attacked the leaders of the Soviet Union thusly: “They reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat.”

McCarthy’s comments demonstrated that the Republican Party had adopted the same mindset and tactics as the dictators of the former Soviet Union.

Almost seven years after Kevin McCarthy revealed himself and his party as ruthless hypocrites, Republicans suffered a similar outbreak of truth.

But this time, the stakes were higher—involving Donald J. Trump, the former President of the United States.

A PRIMER FOR CONSPIRATORS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 23, 2022 at 12:22 am

Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science, wrote that there are three periods of danger in a conspiracy:  

  • Dangers in organizing the plot
  • Dangers in executing the conspiracy
  • Dangers following the execution of the plot.   

The first two were covered in Part Two of this series.  Now, as to the third:

Dangers following the Execution of the Conspiracy: There is really but one—someone is left who will avenge the murdered prince. These can be brothers, sons or other relatives, who have been spared by negligence or for other reasons. 

But of all the perils that follow the execution of a conspiracy, the most certain and fearful is the attachment of the people to the murdered prince. There is no remedy against this, for the conspirators can never secure themselves against a whole people. 

An example of this occurred in the case of Julius Caesar, who, being beloved by the people, was avenged by them.  

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Julius Caesar 

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. 

The foregoing was taken from 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: 

Niccolo Machiavelli

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

Most Presidents try to seem friendly and caring toward their fellow Americans.

This held true even for Richard M. Nixon, when, on May 9, 1970, he made an impromptu visit to the Lincoln Memorial and engaged in a rambling dialogue with Vietnam war protesters.   

As both a Presidential candidate and President, Trump repeatedly used Twitter to attack hundreds of real and imagined enemies in politics, journalism, TV and films.

Among his infuriating acts as President, he 

  • Allowed a deadly virus to ravage the country, killing 400,000 Americans by the end of his term.
  • Attacked medical experts and governors who urged Americans to wear masks and socially distance to protect themselves from COVID-19.
  • Attacked the integrity of the FBI and CIA for determining that Russia interfered in the 2016 Presidential election on his behalf.
  • Attacked and alienated America’s oldest allies, such as Canada and Great Britain.
  • Shut down the United States Government, imperiling the lives of 800,000 Federal employees, to extort money from Congress for a worthless wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Attacked the free press as “the enemy of the people.” 

Even as an ex-President, he poses a mortal threat to American democracy. On September 1, President Joe Biden outlined those dangers:

“The Republican Party today is dominated, driven, and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans, and that is a threat to this country.

“MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution.  They do not believe in the rule of law.  They do not recognize the will of the people. 

“They refuse to accept the results of a free election.  And they’re working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself.

“MAGA forces are determined to take this country backwards—backwards to an America where there is no right to choose, no right to privacy, no right to contraception, no right to marry who you love. 

“They promote authoritarian leaders, and they fan the flames of political violence that are a threat to our personal rights, to the pursuit of justice, to the rule of law, to the very soul of this country.”

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.”

A PRIMER FOR CONSPIRATORS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 22, 2022 at 12:10 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.  

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Niccolo Machiavelli

Writes Machiavelli:

For conspirators, there are three ways their efforts 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: 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.

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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. 

Adolf Hitler

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.

A PRIMER FOR CONSPIRATORS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 21, 2022 at 12:13 am

In the 1973 movie, “The Day of the Jackal,” a methodical assassin devises an ingenious plan to kill French President Charles de Gaulle.  

Despite the best efforts of French security forces to entrap him, he eludes them time and again—and comes within an ace of assassinating de Gaulle.

Day of the Jackal 1973 Poster.jpg

“The Day of the Jackal” is fiction, based on a 1971 novel by Frederick Forsythe. In real life, most would-be political assassins lack the skills and sophistication of Forsythe’s anti-hero.

Take the case of the man who, on March 18, 2017, jumped over a bicycle rack outside the security perimeter of the White House. Within two minutes, agents of the U.S. Secret Service had tackled and arrested him.

Then, hours later, a motorist drove up to a White House checkpoint and claimed to have a bomb. Secret Service agents immediately arrested him and seized the stolen 2017 Chevrolet Impala.  After a careful search, no explosives were found.

Even if they had been armed, President Donald J. Trump would not have faced any danger.

For the fifth time since taking office on January 20, 2017, he was in Florida, vacationing at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

That does not mean, of course, that future assassins will prove so inept.

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.

Niccolo Machiavellil 

Lorenzo Bartolini, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

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.  

So much for Machiavelli.  

Now consider some of the tweets of “White House Staffer,” a self-proclaimed member of the Trump administration who claims 133,000 Twitter followers.

Beginning January 27, he blasted a series of short, information-crammed tweets about daily life in the Executive Mansion.  

[NOTE: Although I can’t confirm the legitimacy of his status or his tweets, I believe they are real. They contain too many small, intimate secrets of life in a paranoia-laced White House to not be genuine.]  

White House Staffer: March 16: Sean Hannity was asked to be Press Secretary last week. He turned it down because he didn’t want to take the pay cut. [Sean] Spicer survives.

March 13: POTUS [President of the United States] is thinking about suspending daily press briefings until the media “learn to be nice.” [Steve] Bannon [a top Trump adviser] is pushing for it.  

March 1: Well the good times didn’t last long here. POTUS is back to flipping out on us.

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Donald Trump

Niccolo Machiavelli: He who is threatened, and decides to avenge himself on the prince, becomes a truly dangerous man.

Anger is most likely aroused by injury to a a man’s property or honor. A prince should carefully avoid injuring either, for such a victim will always desire vengeance.   

White House Staffer: February 27: [Steve] Bannon is the scariest person here. He’s broken so much White House stuff by throwing it in anger. Plates, phones, chairs, etc.

February 27: It’s one thing to swear but [Steve] Bannon does it in front of the women here. C**t this, c**t that. He can’t finish a sentence without it.  

February 25: The President keeps saying we’re a finely tuned machine. If that’s true why has he been fricking screaming at us all week? He’s losing it.

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.

BUMS APPEAR AS DRUGSTORES DISAPPEAR: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 20, 2022 at 12:17 am

Current estimates peg the “homeless” population of San Francisco at about 8,000.

In 2019, a survey found that an estimated 2,831 members of this population were sheltered. Another 5,180 were unsheltered. This made for a total of 8,011.

The vast majority of them fall into four groups:

  • Druggies
  • Drunks
  • Mentally ill
  • Bums.

Or, to put it more discretely: DDMBs.

Many DDMBs refuse to enter the city’s available shelters. Some claim these places are dangerous—understandably so, since they’re peopled with drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums. 

But another reason why many of these shelters go unused is: They don’t allow their guests to drink up or drug up.

Huge areas of the city are covered in feces, urine, trash and used hypodermic needles. Hospitals overflow with patients that have fallen ill due to the contamination.

The city spent about $852 million in 2020-21 on DDMBs. Dividing that amount by about 8,000 DDMBs provides the figure of $106,500 per DDMB per year.

In February, 2018, NBC News surveyed 153 blocks of the city—an area more than 20 miles. That area includes popular tourist spots like Union Square and the cable car turnaround. It’s bordered by Van Ness Avenue, Market Street, Post Street and Grant Avenue. And it’s also home to City Hall, schools, playgrounds and a police station.

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Most of the trash found consisted of heaps of garbage, food, and discarded junk—including 100 drug needles and more than 300 piles of feces throughout downtown. And once fecal matter dries, it can become airborne and release deadly viruses, such as the rotavirus.

Another danger posed by DDMBs: Their rampant shoplifting has led to the closing of many Walgreens drug stores in San Francisco.

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The Walgreens at 30th Street and Mission Street reported 16 shoplifting incidents between November 2020 and February 2021. Just six blocks away, Walgreens’ products were being sold at an outdoor market.

And there’s no point in expecting help from the police or district attorney’s office. 

The website Only in Your State cites “the eight most dangerous places in San Francisco” as:

  • The Tenderloin
  • Hunter’s Point
  • Bayview
  • Mission District
  • Outer Mission
  • Western Addition
  • South of Market and
  • Golden Gate Park. 

Those areas encompass the major parts of the city—which is only 46 square miles. That alone tells you how ineffective the SFPD is at preventing crime.

From 2019 until June 7, 2022, District Attorney Chesa Boudin refused to hold such criminals accountable. Instead, he blamed “society” for the crimes they had committed.

Elected in 2019, Boudin is the son of Weather Underground parents convicted of murdering two police officers and a Brink’s security guard in 1981. Boudin was raised by two more Weather members—Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers.

On June 7, San Francisco voters, furious about crime, recalled Boudin.

Low-income and disabled seniors who depend on these disappearing drug stores for prescriptions are especially at risk. 

Walgreens is not the only pharmacy to be victimized by DDMBs. A CVS location a few blocks away, at 995 Market Street, also closed due to shoplifting. 

The latest wrinkle in San Francisco’s “be kind to Untermenschen” campaign is the creation of “Navigation Centers.” These are essentially holding pens for DDMBs until they can be “navigated” to permanent housing.

But housing is in short supply in San Francisco, and there is no telling how long many of these drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally disabled and bums will stay in them. Or what harm they will wreak on the neighborhoods warehousing them.

Hundreds—if not thousands—of them are heroin addicts. Such people will commit virtually any crime to support their habit. And their crimes of choice are burglary and robbery. 

Thus, pouring large numbers of them into San Francisco neighborhoods via “Navigation Centers” guarantees that countless decent citizens will become targets for desperate criminals.

Navigation Centers boast that they ban drug-abuse or drug-dealing on their own premises. But they allow DDMBs to come and go at will. Which means they are free to engage in drug-abuse and/or drug-dealing in the neighborhoods where these centers exist. 

Most politicians set their priorities on how popular their programs will be among voters. But San Francisco’s politicians reject practicality for allegiance to Uber liberal ideology. 

Drug addicts, alcoholics, the mentally ill and those who refuse to work are not reliable voters. Those who are productive, tax-paying, law-abiding citizens do vote.

And many of these people have voted—to not visit San Francisco again.

Hosting conventions is a lucrative business for San Francisco, bringing in about $2 billion each year. In 2019, the city hosted 40 large-scale conventions at the Moscone Center. This year, the number may reach 20. 

“One of the things [international clients] are looking at is the conditions on the streets,” said Joe D’Alessandro, the president and CEO of SF Travel. “We need to be able to walk down the streets and not feel harassed.”

A quarter of all tourists visiting San Francisco in 2019 were international travelers—and comprised 63% of all tourism spending. 

“Our numbers will not be what they were in 2019 until we see those markets return,” said D’Alessandro. 

San Francisco’s embrace of DDMBs threatens not only its residents but the tourism industry on which it depends for its economic survival. 

BUMS APPEAR AS DRUGSTORES DISAPPEAR: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 19, 2022 at 12:10 am

Why are Walgreen stores disappearing from San Francisco?

The answer can be summed up in four letters: DDMBsDruggies, Drunks, Mentals and Bums.

These are the untouchables of San Francisco. If you doubt it, consider the following:

If you are a firefighter, police officer, paramedic or schoolteacher, and want to live in San Francisco, forget it.

According to Rent Cafe, which provides apartment listings directly from top property managers: “The average [monthly] rent for an apartment in San Francisco is $3,397.” And “the average size for a San Francisco apartment is 740 square feet.”

Patent 523 Apartments for Rent in Seattle, WA | Essex

So unless you’re a hugely successful IT professional—or narcotics dealer—your chances of being able to afford a San Francisco apartment are lower than Donald Trump’s of winning a “Mr. Congeniality” contest.

But there’s hope for you yetif you’re a Druggie, Drunk, Mental or Bum. 

Why? 

Because the Mayor of San Francisco—currently London Breed—and Board of Supervisors have deliberately created an Untermenschen-friendly program that actually encourages such people to move to the city.

Run by the city’s Department of Public Health (DPH) it’s called the COVID-19 Alternative Housing Program. And it works in two stages:

Stage 1: Move the “homeless” into the city’s hotels—at city expense.

Stage 2: Provide them with not only free food and shelter but free alcohol, cannabis, and cigarettes

According to a May 11, 2020 story in City Journal.org:

“The program’s primary purpose is to keep homeless people, the majority of whom are addicts, out of harm’s way during the pandemic. By getting their substance of choice delivered, the thinking goes, the guests may be more apt to remain in their government-funded rooms.

“Another purpose of the program is to protect the public against the spread of coronavirus. The city doesn’t want homeless people who should be staying in their rooms roaming the neighborhood in search of the substances, potentially infecting others.”San Francisco Department of Public Health - Crunchbase Company Profile & Funding

After news about these deliveries leaked on social media, DPH claimed that “rumors that guests of San Francisco’s alternative housing program are receiving taxpayer-funded deliveries of alcohol, cannabis and tobacco are false.”

Except that the reports weren’t false.

The program is funded by private philanthropists  Nevertheless:

  • DPH administers and oversees the program.
  • It’s staffed by city workers, including doctors, nurse practitioners, nurses, social workers, and security personnel.
  • The department manages, stores, and distributes the substances.
  • Employee time is involved.

Thus, the program is financed by taxpayers, even if an outside group provides some of the funding. 

“Managed alcohol and tobacco use makes it possible to increase the number of guests who stay in isolation and quarantine and, notably, protects the health of people who might otherwise need hospital care for life-threatening alcohol withdrawal,” says DPH spokeswoman Jenna Lane.

Drunk guy passed out on the sidewalk - YouTube

“Many isolation and quarantine guests tell us they use these substances daily,” says Lane, “and this period in our care has allowed some people to connect for the first time with addiction treatment and harm reduction therapy.”

Notice the word “guests.” As if San Francisco—or any city—should welcome hordes of drug addicts, alcoholics, mentally ill and outright bums as assets to its community.

“Harm reduction” therapy, according to the Harm Reduction Coalition, is “a set of practical strategies and ideas aimed at reducing negative consequences associated with drug use.”

DPH said in a statement that these “guests” are screened for substance addictions and asked if they’d like to stop or have support to reduce their use.

If they say they want to remain alcoholics and/or drug addicts, they’re provided with their substance of choice.

The department also provides methadone for “guests” who are addicted to opioids.

Little Falls Police Warning Public After Suspected Heroin Overdoses - YouTube

DPH staffers have helped people buy “medical marijuana,” the agency told local affiliate ABC7.

But the agency doesn’t “facilitate purchases of recreational cannabis,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s website, SFGate.

Nor does the agency require that its addict “guests” remain quarantined. It merely asks that they do so.

When they’re not injecting, swallowing or sniffing drugs, many of San Francisco’s “guests” spend a lot of their time ripping off retail stores.

Walgreens drug stores have proven a particular target for these DDMBs

As a result, Walgreens has closed  17 stores in San Francisco. 

“I feel sorry for the clerks, they are regularly being verbally assaulted,” a regular customer, Sebastian Luke, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“The clerks say there is nothing they can do. They say Walgreens’ policy is to not get involved. They don’t want anyone getting injured or getting sued, so the guys just keep coming in and taking whatever they want.”

“Why are the shelves empty?” a customer asked a clerk at a Walgreens store.

“Go ask the people in the alleys, they have it all,” replied the clerk.

One store in the San Francisco area reportedly lost $1,000 a day to theft. 

CVS Pharmacy has instructed its employees to not intervene because the thieves so often attack them.

Many shoplifters then sell their stolen goods on the street—often near the store where they stole them.

Under California law, theft under $950 is considered a misdemeanor, but many prosecutors prefer to free those charged rather than holding them in jail.

The maximum sentence they could get: Six months. 

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