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HITLER, TRUMP AND “SCORCHED EARTH”—PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 2, 2023 at 12:12 am

On March 19, 1945, facing certain defeat, Nazi Fuhrer Adolf Hitler ordered a massive “scorched-earth” campaign throughout Germany:       

“Destroy all German agriculture, industry, ships, communications, roads, food stuffs, mines, bridges, stores and utility plants!”

If implemented, it would deprive surviving Germans of even the barest necessities after the war.  

Opposing him was Albert Speer, his favorite architect and Minister of Armaments. 

Albert Speer and Adolf Hitler pouring over architectural plans

But Hitler refused to back down. He gave Speer 24 hours to reconsider his opposition to the order.

The next day, Speer told Hitler: “My Fuhrer, I stand unconditionally behind you!” 

“Then all is well,” said Hitler, suddenly with tears in his eyes.

“If I stand unreservedly behind you,” said Speer, “then you must entrust me rather than the Gauleiters [district Party leaders serving as provincial governors] with the implementation of your decree.”

Filled with gratitude, Hitler signed the decree Speer had thoughtfully prepared before their fateful meeting.

By doing so, Hitler unintentionally gave Speer the power to thwart his “scorched earth” order.

Trained as an architect, Speer had joined the Nazi Party in 1931. He met Hitler in 1933, when he presented the Fuhrer with architectural designs for the Nuremberg Rally scheduled for that year. 

From then on, Speer became Hitler’s “genius architect” assigned to create buildings meant to last for a thousand years. “If Hitler had been capable of friendship,” Speer said after the war, “I would have been that friend.”

In 1943, Hitler appointed him Minister of Armaments, charged with revitalizing the German war effort.

Nevertheless, Speer now crisscrossed Germany, persuading military leaders and district governors to not destroy the vital facilities that would be needed after the war.

“No other senior National Socialist could have done the job,” writes Randall Hanson, author of Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance After Valkyrie.

“Speer was one of the very few people in the Reich—-perhaps even the only one—with such power to influence actors’ willingness/unwillingness to destroy.”

Despite his later conviction for war crimes at Nuremberg, Speer never regretted his efforts to save Germany from total destruction at the hands of Adolf Hitler. 

* * * * *

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

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

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

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

Risking death, he refused to carry out Hitler’s “scorched earth” order. Even more important, he successfully blocked such destruction and persuaded influential military and civilian leaders to disobey the order as well.

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

* * * * *

Fast forward 75 years: Facing the end of his Presidency, Donald Trump desperately sought to remain in power. Having “joked” about being “President-for-Life,” he now fought to make that a reality. 

Unlike his 44 predecessors, he rejected the will of the voters and for almost three weeks denied his successor access to the resources he needed to launch a smooth transition.

Donald Trump

Even worse: Instead of showing concern for the country he claimed to love, Trump sought to relentlessly destroy those institutions that guarantee American freedom and safety:

  • The Pentagon
  • The CIA
  • The FBI
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

His attitude clearly was: “If I can’t rule America, there won’t be an America.” 

Meanwhile, House and Senate Republicans embraced his most outrageous lies—or refused to openly refute them—as the COVID-19 pandemic slaughtered about 1,000 Americans a day.

Even Republicans who privately admitted the Trump era was ending realized that 70 million hate-filled Americans voted for him in 2020. And eagerly awaited the coming of the next would-be Fuhrer.

They would also eagerly vote out of office any Republican who dared break with the man they worshiped like a cult leader. 

For Congressional Republicans, staying in office—and keeping their power and perks—was their top priority.

On November 25, 2019, CNN political correspondent Jake Tapper interviewed Representative Adam Schiff on Donald Trump’s upcoming impeachment trial for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

What would it mean if Republicans uniformly oppose any articles of impeachment against Trump? asked Tapper.

“It will have very long-term consequences, if that’s where we end up,” replied Schiff.

“And if not today, I think Republican members in the future, to their children and their grandchildren, will have to explain why they did nothing in the face of this deeply unethical man who did such damage to the country.” 

In the end, only one of 53 Republican Senators—Mitt Romney—dared to vote for impeachment. And he became an instant pariah for it. 

On March 18, 1945, Albert Speer, opposing Hitler’s plans to destroy Germany’s infrastructure, addressed a memo to his Fuhrer, in which he wrote: “No one has the right to take the viewpoint that the fate of the German people is tied to his personal fate.”

The country is still waiting for a Republican Albert Speer to step forward and save America from the self-destructive intentions of its own would-be Fuhrer.

HITLER, TRUMP AND “SCORCHED EARTH”—PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 1, 2023 at 12:32 am

President Donald Trump seemed poised to fire his handpicked CIA director.       

He believed that Gina Haspel had stonewalled the release of documents supposedly exposing “deep state” plots against his 2016 campaign during the Obama administration.

[In fact, the Obama administration had acted entirely within the law during the 2016 Presidential campaign. The FBI has a legal mandate to keep track of subversive activities—especially when they involve members of a Presidential candidate’s campaign.

[On July 9, 2016, high-ranking representatives of the Trump campaign met at Trump Tower with at least two lobbyists with ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Gina Haspel official CIA portrait.jpg

Gina Haspel

[The participants included:   

  • Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.;
  • His son-in-law, Jared Kushner;
  • His then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort;
  • Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to Putin; and
  • Rinat Akhmetshin, a former Soviet counterintelligence officer suspected of “having ongoing ties to Russian Intelligence.”

[The reason for the meeting: To dig up “dirt” the Russians might have on Hillary Clinton, Trump’s opponent for the White House.] 

Trump was also angry at FBI Director Christopher Wray—who replaced James B. Comey in May, 2017. Trump had fired Comey for daring to investigate ties between his 2016 campaign and Russian Intelligence agents. 

Chris Wray official photo.jpg

Christopher Wray

The reason for his anger at Wray: Wray had dared to contradict Trump’s false claims that

  • “Rampant voter fraud” was a widespread problem; and
  • Antifa posed a greater terrorism danger than white supremacist groups. 

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

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, had quickly assessed Trump as an egotistical narcissist. By appealing to Trump’s vanity, Putin expected to sharply reduce the military and political threat the United States represented to a resurgent Russia. 

So notorious was the role played by Russian Intelligence in misleading American voters in 2016 that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was determined to prevent a repetition in 2020.

The man ultimately tasked with this mission was Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency run by DHS.

Chris Krebs official photo.jpg

Chris Krebs

Krebs launched a massive effort to counter lies spread by Russians—and Americans—on social media platforms. Among his duties:

  • 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.

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 Trump’s—the 2020 election went very smoothly.

On November 17, 2020, Trump fired Chris Krebs. 

The reason: Krebs had not only countered Russian propaganda lies—he had dared to counter Trump’s as well. For example: He rejected Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud: There “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Trump fired Krebs 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.”

In a November 17 story on the CNN website, CNN reporters Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc bluntly concluded:

“[Krebs’] dismissal underscores the lengths Trump is willing to go to punish those who don’t adopt his conspiratorial view of the election.

“Since CNN and other outlets called the race for President-elect Joe Biden, Trump has refused to accept the results, instead pushing baseless conspiracies that his second term is being stolen.

“This includes falsely claiming during an election night address that he had already won reelection, that he had won states that were actually still up in the air at the time and that his opponents were perpetrating a fraud.” 

 * * * * *

Seventy-five years earlier, on March 19, 1945, facing certain defeat, Adolf Hitler ordered a massive “scorched-earth” campaign throughout Germany.

All German agriculture, industry, ships, communications, roads, food stuffs, mines, bridges, stores and utility plants were to be destroyed.

If implemented, it would deprive the entire German population of even the barest necessities after the war.  

Opposing him—at first openly, and later secretly—was Albert Speer, his former architect and now Minister of Armaments. 

Speer argued that there must be a future for the German people: “If our enemies wish to destroy us, why help them?  We must leave the people something.”

But Hitler refused to back down: “I don’t want to hear any more.”

He gave Speer 24 hours to reconsider his opposition to the order.

Speer could not directly promise to carry out Hitler’s “scorched earth” order. So he gave Hitler a vague answer that essentially committed him to nothing: “My Fuhrer, I stand unconditionally behind you!”

HITLER, TRUMP AND “SCORCHED EARTH”—PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 31, 2023 at 12:25 am

On November 3, 2020, Joe Biden became President-elect of the United States by winning 79,658,000 votes, or 51% of the vote, compared to 73,886,400 votes, or 47.2% of the vote cast for President Donald Trump.           

In the Electoral College—which actually determines the winner—the results were even more stunning: 306 votes for Biden, compared with 232 for Trump. It takes 270 votes to be declared the victor.

Joe Biden's Next Big Decision: Choosing A Running Mate | Voice of America - English

Joe Biden

Despite this, Trump steadfastly refused to concede. He made a series of baseless claims that he was cheated of victory by 

  • Illegal aliens being allowed to vote.
  • A sinister computer program that turned Trump votes into Biden ones.

He repeatedly filed legal challenges to the vote, claiming himself the victim of massive fraud. This despite the utter lack of evidence of it.

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

In Michigan, Trump’s attorneys dropped their federal suit to block the certification of Detroit-area ballots.

By November 21, Trump had lost in 30 cases dismissed by judges or withdrawn by his own attorneys. 

Meanwhile, top Republicans—such as Vice President Mike Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—refused to congratulate Biden as the winner.

Mitch McConnell portrait 2016.jpg

Mitch McConnell

In a November 17, 2020 analysis, entitled  “Donald Trump Doesn’t Seem to Want to Do His Job Anymore,” CNN Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza wrote:

While Trump relentlessly asserted that he won the 2020 election, “he’s done next to nothing—at least publicly—to suggest he plans to continue doing the job in any serious manner through January 20.”  

According to Cillizza, since losing the election, Trump had filled his days with:

  • Golfing
  • Tweeting
  • Making controversial military decisions
  • Firing people 

Specifically:

Golfing: He played golf at his club in Virginia twice on the weekend of November 14-15. He was golfing the previous weekend, when Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 race by CNN and other media outlets.

Tweeting: He tweeted numerous lies and conspiracy theories, claiming he won a second term but was cheated by the counting of fraudulent votes. This led Twitter to flag a large number of his tweets as “inaccurate.”

Making controversial military decisions: The Pentagon signaled it was planning—on Trump’s orders—to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and Iraq. [American forces had been warring with the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2001; they had been warring against Iraqi insurgents since 2003.] 

And in a move that was truly frightening: The New York Times reported that Trump asked his top advisers for options to strike at Iran’s nuclear capabilities before he left office. This would embroil the United States in a war that could easily turn nuclear.

Firing people: On November 9, Trump fired Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. Four senior civilian officials were subsequently fired or resigned—Esper’s chief of staff and the top officials overseeing policy and intelligence.

They were replaced with flunkies loyal to Trump personally.

[This was in fact how Adolf Hitler took control of the Wehrmacht.

Adolf Hitler

[Since taking command of Germany in the summer of 1934, Hitler wanted to replace two high-ranking military officials: General Werner von Fritsch and Colonel General Werner von Blomberg. Both were convinced that Hitler’s increasingly aggressive foreign policy was putting Germany on a collision course with war—a war the Fatherland could not win. 

[Hitler, in fact, meant to go to war—and despised Fritsch’s and Blomberg’s hesitation to do so. He decided to rid himself of both men. 

[On January 12, 1938, Blomberg married Erna Gruhn, with Hitler and Reichsmarshall Hermann Goring attending as witnesses. Soon afterward, Berlin police discovered that Gruhn had a criminal record as a prostitute and had posed for pornographic photographs.

[Marrying a woman with such a background violated the standard of conduct expected of German officers. Hitler saw the scandal as an opportunity to dispose of Blomberg—who was forced to resign.

[Shortly after Blomberg was forced out in disgrace, the SS—Hitler’s private police force—presented Hitler with a file that falsely accused Werner von Fritsch of homosexuality. Fritsch angrily denied the accusation but resigned on February 4, 1938. 

[From that point on, Hitler was in de facto command of the German Armed Services.]

Eighty-two years later, on November 3, 2020, President Donald Trump lost the 2020 Presidential election to former Vice President Joe Biden.

But Trump seemed determine to inflict as much damage as possible on the agencies responsible for protecting the security of the nation.

Besides wreaking havoc on the Pentagon, Trump was reportedly preparing to fire CIA Director Gina Haspel and FBI Director Christopher Wray.

Trump had accused Haspel of stonewalling the release of documents that would supposedly expose “deep state” plots against Trump’s campaign and transition during the Obama administration.

In fact, the Obama administration had acted entirely within the law during the 2016 Presidential campaign. The FBI has a legal mandate to keep track of subversive activities—especially when they involve members of a Presidential campaign such as Trumps.

And he was furious that Wray had dared to contradict Trump’s false claims that:

  • “Rampant voter fraud” was a widespread problem; and
  • Antifa posed a greater terrorism danger than white supremacist groups. 

For Trump, contradiction was the same as treason.

HITLER, TRUMP AND “SCORCHED EARTH”—PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 30, 2023 at 12:10 am

Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments for the Third Reich, was appalled.         

His Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler—the man he had idolized for 14 years—had just passed a death sentence on Germany, the nation he claimed to love above all others.

On September 1, 1939, Hitler had triggered World War II with the invasion of Poland. This led to a series of quick, spectacular victories—over Poland, Norway, Denmark and France.

Then, on June 22, 1941, Hitler turned on his ally, the Soviet Union, with which he had signed a non-aggression pact in August, 1939.

It had taken the Wehrmacht six weeks to conquer France. Hitler believed that was how long it would take to defeat the Soviet Union.  

German troops in Russia, 1941 : ww2

German soldiers invading the Soviet Union

Again, a series of spectacular battlefield victories followed—before the Wehrmacht was halted at the gates of Moscow. A year later, still enmeshed in Russia, the turning point came at Stalingrad, with the loss of the elite Sixth Army and 800,000 soldiers.

Starting in 1943, the Red Army slowly but steadily regained ground it had lost—the western half of Russia—and began pushing back the Germans. By March, 1945, it was fighting inside Germany—and heading straight for its capital: Berlin.

On March 19, 1945, facing certain defeat, Hitler ordered a massive “scorched-earth” campaign throughout Germany.

All German agriculture, industry, ships, communications, roads, food stuffs, mines, bridges, stores and utility plants were to be destroyed.

If implemented, it would deprive the entire German population of even the barest necessities after the war. And he entrusted the campaign to Albert Speer, his favorite architect-turned-Minister-of-Armaments.

Click here: Hitler’s “Scorched Earth” Decree and Albert Speer’s Response

Now living in a bunker 50 feet below bomb-shattered Berlin, Hitler gave full vent to his most destructive impulses.

Adolf Hitler addressing boy soldiers as the Third Reich crumbles

“If the war is lost,” Hitler told Speer, “the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. There is no necessity to take into consideration the basis which the people will need to continue even a most primitive existence.

“On the contrary, it will be better to destroy these things ourselves, because this nation will have proved to be the weaker one and the future will belong solely to the stronger eastern nation.

“Besides, those who will remain after the battle are only the inferior ones, for the good ones have all been killed.”

Seventy-five years after Adolf Hitler planned the destruction of Germany, Donald Trump planned the same fate for the United States.

On November 3, 2020, Trump lost his bid to win another four years as President of the United States. In the early hours of November 4, 2020, he poured out his fury and self-pity in a televised address from the White House:

“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, we will not stand for it.” 

Related image

Donald Trump

For a man who had tried—often successfully—to deprive millions of their right to vote, Trump made it clear that he didn’t know what disenfranchisement means.

Sounding like a petulant child whose party has been called off, Trump continued:

“We were getting ready for a big celebration, we were winning everything and all of a sudden it was just called off. The results tonight have been phenomenal…I mean literally we were just all set to get outside and just celebrate something that was so beautiful, so good, such a vote, such a success.” 

It was Trump—not his challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden—who was demanding that the electoral process be halted. And that those votes that had not yet been counted be, in effect, flushed down the toilet.

“The citizens of this country have come out in record numbers, this a record, there’s never been anything like it to support our incredible movement….Most importantly, we’re winning Pennsylvania by a tremendous amount of votes. We’re up 690,000 votes.” 

Owing to the Coronavirus pandemic—which Trump had refused to aggressively address from its outset in January—millions of Americans had voted by mail. This was especially true of Democrats, who didn’t want to stand in Coronavirus-infected lines.

But Trump had convinced millions of Republican voters that voting by mail was subversive. So they showed up at the polls or stayed away out of a secret fear of COVID-19. 

Meanwhile, at the White House on Election Night, Trump continued to rant:

“These aren’t even close, this is not like, Oh, it’s close. With 64% of the vote in, it’s going to be almost impossible and we’re coming into good Pennsylvania areas where they happen to like your president. We’re winning Michigan…I said ‘Wow, that’s a lot’… 

“And we’re winning Wisconsin…so when you take those three states in particular and you take all of the others…and all of a sudden it’s not like we’re up 12 votes and we have 60% left, we won states and all of a sudden, I said, ‘What happened to the election? It’s off.’ And we have all these announcers saying, ‘What’s happened’ and then they said, ‘Ohhh.’” 

But this did not alter the reality that Joe Biden became President-elect of the United States by winning 79,106,010 votes, or 51% of the vote.

THE SPIRALING COSTS OF ILLEGAL ALIENS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 29, 2023 at 1:25 am

Defenders of illegal aliens entering the United States often point to their paying taxes and performing jobs that native-born Americans don’t want to do.  

What they fail to mention are the costs of maintaining millions of unskilled and semi-literate (at best) men, women and children for decades on end.

Fortunately, James Reinl, social affairs correspondent at the British newspaper, The Daily Mail, has taken the time to bring these truths to light. 

This occurred in a September 16, 2022 article headlined:

“America’s $78B Bill for Teaching Schoolkids With Poor English is Rising by BILLIONS in Biden-era Immigration Surge, Study Says, and 76,000 New Language Instructors Are a Tall Order in a Teacher Shortage.”

Among its findings: 

  • One million public school students—ranging from kindergarten to high school—need special training in speaking and writing English.
  • It costs $78 billion each year to educate them.
  • Texas, California, Florida and New York are among the states most burdened with such students.
  • Only three percent of these students are proficient in English when they graduate from high school.
  • These costs are raised by billions owing to an unceasing tide of illegal alien children at the southern border.

These alarming statistics were produced by a study from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). 

The 5.1 million students lacking English language skills need help in all their classes. As a result, it costs 15 to 20 percent more to educate them than American-born students who grow up learning English. 

Illegal alien climbing over the border fence in Brownsville, Texas

With the United States facing a severe teacher shortage, some states have lowered their hiring rules to recruit teachers with only a high school diploma.

In 2020, the 5.1 million illegal alien students in public schools cost American taxpayers $78 billionan $18.8 billion jump from the cost in 2016.

Of those students, 1.15 million were in California, costing the state $19.5 billion. One million more lived in Texas, costing that state $11.4 billion. And 278,000 lived in Florida, at a cost of $3.1 billion.

Only 370,000 teachers nationwide are trained to teach them, and 76,000 more will be needed during the next five years. 

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, almost 200,000 immigrants were intercepted crossing the southern border in July, 2022. Many of them are entitled to claim asylum, and all children in the United States have a right to an education—even if they arrived here illegally.

Border Crisis: CBP's Response | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Illegal aliens rounded up by ICE

Immigration remains a highly divisive issue among Americans. “Red” Republican states want to close borders. “Blue” Democratic states are more open to newcomers.

Yet even famously liberal enclaves of support for illegal aliens like New York are beginning to have second thoughts about taking in unlimited numbers of uninvited foreigners.

On October 7, 2022, New York City Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency in response to the city’s migrant crisis, which he said will cost the city $1 billion this fiscal year. 

Nancy Pelosi and Eric Adams at the Speaker's Balcony (cropped).jpg

Eric Adams

“We now have a situation where more people are arriving in New York City than we can immediately accommodate, including families with babies and young children,” Adams said.

“Once the asylum seekers from today’s buses are provided shelter, we would surpass the highest number of people in recorded history in our city’s shelter system.”

Behind this unwanted influx lies Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

By the first week of October, Texas had spent more than $18 million busing illegal aliens found in Texas to famously liberal supporters of illegal immigration: Washington D.C., New York City, and Chicago.

Abbott announced the program in April as his response to the Biden administration’s immigration policies. 

Abbott, 2015

Greg Abbott

New York City now has more than 61,000 people in its shelter system. Thousands of these are American citizens who are homeless. They are competing for assistance with illegal aliens who were bused to New York City from the southern border since April, 2022.

Behind this huge surge in illegal aliens and their continuing drain on America’s schools, housing and hospitals (among other facilities) lie three Communist-ruled countries: Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.

Rising levels of repression, food shortages and economic stability are motivating Cubans, Venezuelans and Nicaraguans to enter the United States. And assisting them in this effort is the longtime policy of the United States government to automatically accept those leaving Communist countries as refugees.

At some point, the United States must face the economic and social absurdity of allowing some cities and states to provide sanctuary to every illegal alien who appears.

Even Eric Adams, emphasizing that New York City remains a sanctuary city, warns it cannot cope with such an overwhelming influx of migrants:

“We are not telling anyone that New York can accommodate every migrant in the city. We’re not encouraging people to send eight, nine buses a day….We’re saying that as a sanctuary city with right to shelter, we’re going to fulfill that obligation. That’s what we’re doing.”

Abbott clearly believes he has the right to inflict thousands of illegal aliens on other states. And illegal aliens clearly believe they have the right to demand unlimited access to the United States.

At some point, America must stop allowing itself to be a dumping-ground for other countries’ unwanteds.

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

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on May 26, 2023 at 12:10 am

Two suggestions for interviewees with a dark secret to hide:     

First: Don’t give interviews to journalists you like. (Or, in the case of Fox News, pseudo-journalists.) 

Second: Don’t give interviews at 4 A.M. 

Why?

Because you’re less likely to be on guard with a friendly journalist—and thus reveal truths you will later regret spilling.

And because at 4 A.M. you’re likely so tired or keyed up you make the same mistake.

Part One of this series spotlighted such a slip-up by Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield, CA) on September 30, 2015.

In just 51 words, McCarthy revealed that the House Select Committee on Benghazi was not a legitimate investigative body. Its real purpose was to sabotage the expected Presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton.

In doing so, McCarthy unintentionally sabotaged his own chances of becoming Speaker of the House when the then-Speaker, John Boehner, retired 

Part Two of this series showed how Donald Trump made a similar mistake on September 21, 2022. 

Appearing on the Right’s favorite television network, Fox News, Trump thoroughly embarrassed himself.

He was facing investigation for illegally removing classified government documents when he left the White House on January 20, 2021, and storing them at his private club, Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Florida.

Once again, Trump asserted he had done nothing wrong: “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 only was this blatantly untrue, it was so outlandish that late-night talk show hosts had a comedic field day with it.

And still Republican politicians refuse to learn.

Latest case in point: House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY).

Rep. James Comer (long cropped).jpg

James Comer

Comer made the same mistake as McCarthy and Trump—letting the public in on an embarrassing secret—with an added twist. He did so at 4 A.M. on May 22.

Speaking—you guessed it—on Fox News, Comer unintentionally admitted weaponizing his investigative committee to aid Donald Trump’s Presidential ambitions.

Fox News host Ashley Strohmier threw out a comforting softball question: “We have talked to you about this on the show, about how the media can just not ignore this any longer. In an op-ed in The Washington Post, it says, ‘Millions Flowed to Biden Family Members. Don’t Pretend It Doesn’t Matter.’

Ashley Strohmier - In case you're stuck at home (which I know most of you are) and want to see where I am.. turn on Fox News! I'll see y'all every hour

Ashley Strohmier

“So do you think that because of your investigation, that is what’s moved this needle with the media?”

Comer, whose committee has been relentlessly investigating Hunter Biden, the son of President Joseph Biden, leaped to answer:

“Absolutely. There’s no question. You look at the polling, and right now Donald Trump is seven points ahead of Joe Biden and trending upward, Joe Biden’s trending downward.

“And I believe that the media is looking around, scratching their head, and they’re realizing that the American people are keeping up with our investigation.” 

His claim that Trump has a seven-point edge over Biden stems from an ABC News/Washington Post survey in early May. But other surveys show Biden leading, and polling generally indicates a tight race between Biden and Trump.

In fact, there is little evidence that House GOP investigations of Biden’s family are having a negative effect on Biden’s political standing. Biden’s approval rating remains low, but surveys show little indication that the Comer-led investigations have had a major effect one way or another.

On May 10, Republicans claimed that President Biden’s family members received millions in suspicious money transfers before Biden became president.

But despite promises of a bombshell revelation, the new evidence Republicans displayed did not directly implicate Biden. 

Comer said that bank records obtained through subpoenas showed that the President’s son Hunter Biden, his brother James Biden and his son Beau’s widow, Hallie Biden, received payments totaling more than $10 million from foreign sources, including from individuals aligned with the Chinese Communist Party. 

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at lunch hosted by the US Vice President, Mr. Joe Biden and the US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry, in Washington DC on September 30, 2014 (1) (cropped).jpg

Hunter Biden

Comer didn’t say that the President himself received any payments or that he performed an official act in exchange for his family members receiving the money. 

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD.), the committee’s top Democrat, said Comer had failed to provide evidence substantiating his claims of wrongdoing by Biden.

“He continues to bombard the public with innuendo, misrepresentations, and outright lies, recycling baseless claims from stories that were debunked years ago,” said Raskin.

Even before Republicans won control of the House on November 8, 2022, they openly admitted their upcoming investigations would target political opponents and influence public opinion for the 2024 elections 

On August 10, 2022, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): “So, all these things need to be investigated just so you have the truth, plus that will help frame up the 2024 race, when I hope and I think President Trump is going to run again and we need to make sure that he wins.” 

And on October 26, James Comer said: “There are a lot of factors that are going to prevent Joe Biden from running. His age, the results of the midterm elections in two weeks. But also his son. Look, this Biden family investigation’s only going to ramp up in a Republican majority.” 

Not since the notorious reign of Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy have Congressional Republicans been so open about their all-consuming drive for all-encompassing power.

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

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on May 25, 2023 at 12:10 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, 2022, 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, 2022, 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 THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on May 24, 2023 at 12:25 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.  

COUNTDOWN TO DOOMSDAY: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 23, 2023 at 12:10 am

President Joseph Biden acts as if he must accept Republican extortion demands or watch the country’s economy collapse. 

But there are legal remedies for punishing such criminal behavior. Biden needs only to direct the Justice Department to apply them.

  • Biden can direct Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate whether actions by Republican Congressmen broke Federal anti-racketeering and/or anti-terrorism laws.
  • Garland, in turn, can order the FBI to conduct that investigation.
  • If the FBI finds sufficient evidence that these laws have been violated, Garland can convene criminal grand juries to indict those violators.

Official portrait of United States Attorney General Merrick Garland

Merrick Garland

Criminally investigating and possibly indicting members of Congress would not violate the separation-of-powers principle. Congressmen have in the past been investigated, indicted and convicted for various criminal offenses. 

Aside from their guilt for extortion, at least 147 Republican Congressional members tried to overturn the legitimate results of the 2020 Presidential election to illegally retain Donald Trump in the White House. They can easily be indicted and prosecuted for electoral fraud.

Making the job easier for prosecutors: Former President Donald Trump, still de facto boss of the Republican party, has openly stated his desire to see default happen.

At his infamous May 10 town hall interview with CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins, Trump urged Republicans to default on the United States national debt if President Biden won’t agree to budget cuts.

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Donald Trump

TRUMP: I say to the Republicans out there—Congressmen, Senators—if they don’t give you massive cuts, you’re going to have to do a default. And I don’t believe they’re going to do a default because I think the Democrats will absolutely cave because you don’t want to have that happen.

But it’s better than what we’re doing right now because we’re spending money like drunken sailors. You know the expression? 

COLLINS: You once said that using the—that using the debt ceiling as a negotiating wedge just could not happen. You—you said that when you were in the Oval Office.

TRUMP: Sure, that’s when I was President.

COLLINS: So why is it different now that you’re out of office?

TRUMP: Because now I’m not President. 

In short: If I’m not President, the country can be destroyed for all I care.

Yet for all of Trump’s professed concern about the national deficit, on August 2, 2019, he signed into law a two-year budget deal that raised spending by $320 billion over existing spending caps set in a 2011 law.

The bill also boosted military and domestic spending, and lifted the debt ceiling, which is the legal limit on the amount of debt the federal government can have. 

The bill threatened to push the budget deficit to more than $1 trillion in 2019 for only the second time since the Great Recession of 2007-2008 and add $1.7 trillion to the federal debt over a decade. 

Besides ordering the Justice Department to indict extortionist Republicans, Biden could stand up to them in another way: By urging his fellow Americans to rally to him in a moment of supreme national danger. 

President John F. Kennedy did just that—successfully—during the most dangerous crisis of his administration.

Addressing the Nation on October 22, 1962, Kennedy shocked his fellow citizens by revealing that the Soviet Union had installed offensive nuclear missiles in Cuba.

John F. Kennedy

Kennedy outlined a series of steps he had taken to end the crisis—most notably, a blockade of Cuba. Then he sought to reassure and inspire his audience:

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.”

President Biden could send that same message to the extortionists of the Republican Party—but he has refused to do so.

Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the newly-installed Speaker of the House of Representatives, has told CNN that Republicans would demand spending cuts in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling. Those cuts would come at the expense of the poorest American citizens, as this has been the standard Republican practice.

Appearing on The PBS Newshour on January 17, Wendy Edelberg of the Hamilton Project, a liberal economic think tank, warned of potential disaster if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling: 

“It’s playing a game with the U.S. economy and people’s lives that I think is irresponsible….I’m very confident that the White House and Democrats in Congress stand ready to negotiate on future tax and spending laws and changes to those laws.

“What I don’t understand is why those negotiations are linked to the debt ceiling. Maybe they’re both about borrowing, and so people have gotten confused. One is about backward-looking obligations based on previous laws, tax and spending laws that were enacted, and one is about future.”

There’s no mystery: By linking the debt ceiling to tax and spending negotiations, Republicans believe they can extort any concessions they want from President Biden.

But this doesn’t have to happen.

Biden can choose to invoke criminal law against criminal extortion. If he does so, he will save the Nation from financial extinction. 

And he will send a message to future Right-wing extortionists: The lives  and fortunes of American citizens may not be held hostage to gain leverage in a political settlement..

COUNTDOWN TO DOOMSDAY: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 22, 2023 at 12:23 am

Once again, Republicans are ruthlessly playing “chicken” with the nation’s financial security. 

During the Presidency of Barack Obama, Republicans threatened to plunge the country into defaulting on its loans to force sharp budget cuts to non-military spending.

Seven years later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised the Republicans’ massive contribution to the national debt under President Donald Trump.

On August 2, 2019, Trump signed into law a two-year budget deal that raised spending by $320 billion over existing spending caps set in a 2011 law—and boosted military and domestic spending.

The bill also lifted the debt ceiling, which is the legal limit on the amount of debt the federal government can have. 

The bill threatened to push the budget deficit to more than $1 trillion in 2019 for only the second time since the Great Recession of 2007-2008 and add $1.7 trillion to the federal debt over a decade. 

By January, 2021, the national debt had risen by almost $7.8 trillion during Trump’s time in office. It amounted to about $23,500 in new federal debt for every person in the country.

But now, with Democrat Joseph Biden as President, Republicans have become “fiscal conservatives.”

Joe Biden presidential portrait.jpg

Joseph Biden

And they are prepared to plunge the United States into financial ruin unless Democrats once again meet their extortion demands.

The debt ceiling is the legal limit for how much debt the United States can take on as a country. Once that limit is hit, the U.S. Treasury can no longer issue bonds to raise funds to pay for everything that the government does. 

In a January 13th letter, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned congressional leaders that the United States is expected to hit the debt limit by June 1—and urged them to raise the debt limit as soon as possible.

“Once the limit is reached, the Treasury will need to start taking certain extraordinary measures to prevent the United States from defaulting on its obligations.”

Secretary Janet Yellen portrait.jpg

Janet Yellen

Congress last raised the debt ceiling in December 2021 to more than $31.3 trillion. At the time, Democrats controlled both the House and Senate.

But the 2022 mid-term elections gave Republicans control of the House. And Republicans are threatening the nation with defaulting on its loans now that Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is its new Speaker. 

New York Times conservative columnist David Brooks described these Republicans on the January 6, 2023 edition of The PBS Newshour: “These are nihilists. They came here, and they’re quite open about that, especially with their friends, and they say, we just want to burn the place down.

“And so they just want to be negative, be oppositional, and then go on TV and say everyone else has screwed up. And so this is a form of nihilism that is in the Republican Party.” 

Congressional Republicans have:

  • Rejected a new White House offer to essentially freeze domestic spending at FY2023 levels;
  • Demanded work requirements for SNAP recipients that are more rigid than those they originally proposed;
  • Demanded that new immigration provisions be added to the GOP’s recently passed border bill (which Republicans didn’t include in their own debt ceiling bill).

If default occurrs, the results will be disastrous. Payments for some or many federal expenditures could go unpaid for part or all of the impasse. Affected payments and programs would include:

  • Interest on the national debt
  • Social Security
  • FBI
  • Medicare
  • Income tax refunds
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Defense
  • Food safety inspections
  • Border security
  • Air traffic control
  • Medicaid
  • The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Yet President Joe Biden can end that threat via the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. 

Passed by Congress in 1970, as Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1961-1968, its goal was to destroy the Mafia.

Originally, RICO was aimed at the Mafia and other organized crime syndicates.  But in United States v. Turkette, 452 U.S. 576 (1981), the Supreme Court held that RICO applied as well to legitimate enterprises being operated in a criminal manner.

After Turkette,  RICO could also be used against corporations, political protest groups, labor unions and loosely knit-groups of people. 

Georgia asks judge to toss DOJ lawsuit targeting voting law

United States Department of Justice

RICO opens with a series of definitions of “racketeering activity” which can be prosecuted by Justice Department attorneys. Among those crimes: Extortion.

Extortion is defined as “a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person(s), entity, or institution, through coercion.”

The RICO Act defines “a pattern of racketeering activity” as “at least two acts of racketeering activity, one of which occurred after the effective date of this chapter and the last of which occurred within ten years…after the commission of a prior act of racketeering activity.” 

And if President Biden believes that RICO isn’t sufficient to deal with Republicans’ extortion attempts, he can rely on the USA Patriot Act of 2001, passed in the wake of 9/11. In Section 802, the Act defines domestic terrorism. Among the behavior that is defined as criminal:  

“Activities that…appear to be intended…to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion [and]…occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.” 

The remedies for punishing such criminal behavior are now legally in place. President Biden needs only to direct the Justice Department to apply them.

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