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Posts Tagged ‘THE INTERCEPT’

WHAT REPUBLICANS HAVE LEARNED FROM NAZI GERMANY

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on February 3, 2023 at 12:15 am

On June 17, 2021, CNN headlined a story on its website: “Here’s Why Fighting the Affordable Care Act Means So Much to Republicans.”            

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

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

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

U.S. Supreme Court building-m.jpg

The Supreme Court

The law now provides access to healthcare for 31 million Americans, who could not otherwise afford coverage.

In addition, the Act:

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

Why have Republicans pursued its demise so relentlessly? 

The story outlined the reasons that sound good

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

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

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

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

  • Millions of Right-wingers hate the Federal Government and openly call for its overthrow. This they vividly demonstrated on January 6, 2021 when they tried to illegally retain Donald Trump as President. They hoped to prevent the selection of Joe Biden as the legitimately-elected President of the United States by storming the Capitol Building.
  • Racism forms a major component of the GOP’s appeal to older, white, Right-wing voters. So having the name of the first black President unofficially stamped on the law (“Obamacare”) serves as a constant spur to their hatred.

Obama standing with his arms folded and smiling.

Barack Obama

  • Obama’s promise that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan”: The promise backfired because the law stated that those who already had medical insurance could keep their plans—so long as those plans met the requirements of the new healthcare law. If their plans didn’t meet those requirements, they would have to obtain coverage that did

Now for the real reason Republicans have furiously tried to destroy the Act—one that the writer did not mention.

And like so much else in the Republican agenda, it is rooted in the goals and methods of the Third Reich.

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

An estimated 5.7 million Russians became prisoners of the Wehrmacht. The Germans found themselves surprised and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of them. But their mandate demanded that they keep marching ever forward.

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

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

Soviet POW’s

Republicans have learned a valuable lesson from this: If you simply deprive those you detest of food, clothing, shelter—and medical care—you don’t need gas chambers or firing squads. Or even rigged vote-counts. 

This is, of course, a truth that Republicans refuse to admit—even as they pursue this goal.

On January 11, Iowa House Republicans introduced a bill to drastically eliminate the types of food available to people using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, SNAP provides food assistance to more than 41 million people with low or no income.

Under the proposed restrictions, the following staples would be forbidden:

  • Fresh meats
  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Cooking oil
  • Frozen prepared foods
  • Baked, refried or chili beans 
  • Sliced, cubed or crumbled cheese 
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Canned vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Soup

In lieu of fresh meats, Iowans would only be allowed to buy canned tuna or salmon.

Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley—who sponsored the bill–complained that the money allocated toward food security could be better spent on “other priorities.” 

Those “other priorities” ignore the sharp rise in grocery prices owing to the conflict in Ukraine, climate change, the deadliest bird flu in American history, transportation costs and alleged supply chain disruptions.

Iowa isn’t alone in targeting SNAP. The GOP is doing so at a national level. 

Most Americans—owing to naivety or historical ignorance—cannot accept that their politicians can be as evil as those in other nations.

Those who need food or medical care had better learn this truth quickly.

2022: A BAD YEAR FOR DICTATORS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on February 2, 2023 at 12:10 am

The year 2022 proved a disastrous one for dictators.                                              

The first of these profiled in this two-part series was Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

But the United States is not immune to those with dictatorial ambitions. Easily the most dangerous of these is former President Donald Trump.

But after escaping justice for decades, he now stands in danger of its catching up with him.

  • Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg won a resounding verdict against two Trump Organization companies for criminal tax fraud. Their executives had falsified business records in a 15-year scheme to defraud tax authorities by failing to report and pay taxes on compensation for top executives.
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit against Trump and the Trump Organization for engaging in years of financial fraud to obtain a wide range of economic benefits. Also named in the suit: His children Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump.
  • E. Jean Carroll sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after he accused her of lying when she alleged he raped her in a New York City department store dressing room in the ’90s. Shielded from lawsuits during his Presidency, he lost that immunity when he left office.
  • In 2022, Carroll sued Trump again under the Adult Survivors Act, a newly-passed New York state law that re-opens the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims in the state.
  • Altogether, Trump is now a defendant in 17 lawsuits at the local, state and Federal level.

Dictator #3: Elon Musk

Elon Musk had made himself the wealthiest man on the planet through his ownership of Tesla, the premier electric car company. But it wasn’t enough for him.

In October, he bought Twitter for $44 billion.

Immediately afterward, he careened from one self-inflicted crisis to another. Among these:

  • Laying off about half of Twitter’s 7,500 staffers.
  • Giving an ultimatum to the remaining staff that they must do “extremely hardcore” work or leave—causing about 1,000 employees to head for the exits.
  • Firing employees who openly disagreed with him.

An image of Musk smiling in a suit, sans tie

Elon Musk

The Royal Society, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

  • Frequently and arbitrarily changing Twitter’s rules and banning people who violated them—including several tech journalists. 
  • Allowing Right-wingers to engage in misinformation, conspiracy theories and hate speech, and restoring permanently banned accounts—such as Donald Trump’s.  

As a result:

  • According to Media Matters for America, Twitter lost half of its top 100 advertisers, which spent $750 million on ads in 2022.
  • Several current and former employees sued Twitter for violating the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act of 1988 for Musk’s failing to provide a 60-day notice prior to mass firings.
  • As Twitter’s fortunes have increasingly declined, several Twitter alternatives have appeared. One of these is Mastodon, with 2.5 million members. Another is Tribel. Both emphasize their freedom from Right-wing hate speech and conspiracy theories.

Dictator #4: Mark Zuckerberg

Since he created Facebook in 2004, Zuckerberg has ruled as its unchallenged dictator. But his all-consuming drive for absolute control over not only Facebook but other domains has led to a series of highly publicized scandals.

According to the company’s profile on Wikipedia:

“Facebook has often been criticized over issues such as user privacy (as with the Cambridge Analytica data scandal), political manipulation (as with the 2016 U.S. elections) and mass surveillance….

“Facebook has also been subject to criticism over psychological effects such as addiction and low self-esteem, and various controversies over content such as fake news, conspiracy theories, copyright infringement, and hate speech. Commentators have accused Facebook of willingly facilitating the spread of such content as well as exaggerating its number of users to appeal to advertisers.”

Mark Zuckerberg F8 2019 Keynote (32830578717) (cropped).jpg

Mark Zuckerberg 

Anthony Quintano from Westminster, United States, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

In 2021-22, retribution began catching up with Zuckerberg’s empire.

  • Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee, disclosed tens of thousands of Facebook’s internal documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Wall Street Journal in 2021. She testified before Congress that Facebook promotes conflict to increase its readership and keep them reading—and buying. 
  • Haugen’s revelations included that since at least 2019, Facebook had studied the negative impact that its photo and video sharing social networking service, Instagram, had on teenage girls. Yet the company did nothing to mitigate the harms and publicly denied that was the case.
  • In response to Haugen’s testimony, Congress promised legislation and drafted several bills to address Facebook’s power.
  • In April, 2021, Apple launched a new alert system to warn its users how Facebook was tracking their browsing habits. Facebook’s advertising profits have fallen, because a lack of data makes it hard to target people using iPhones.
  • Zuckerberg has spent at least $38 billion to expand his empire and create an immersive, virtual “Metaverse.”  So far, however, the gamble has not paid off.
  • TikTok has siphoned off a large part of Facebook’s original audience.  
  • “I think Facebook is not going to do well as long as [Zuckerberg]’s there,” said Bill George, a senior fellow at Harvard Business School. “He’s likely one of the reasons so many people are turning away from the company. He’s really lost his way.” 

“Look to the end,” Solon the Athenian warned King Croesus of Lydia. “Often enough, God gives a man a glimpse of happiness and then utterly ruins him.”

2022: A BAD YEAR FOR DICTATORS: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on February 1, 2023 at 12:15 am

The year 2022 was not a good one for dictators.     

Four of them—one Russian, three American—suffered humiliating defeats. If these didn’t herald their coming overthrow, they certainly erased these dictators’ pretense at invincibility.           

Dictator #1: Russian President Vladimir Putin     

When he attacked Ukraine with 200,000 soldiers on February 24, Putin had every reason to believe that his unprovoked war would be a cakewalk. 

Intent on restoring the borders of the former Soviet Union, he had swept from one successful war to the next: 

  • In 1999-2000, he waged the Second Chechen War, restoring federal control of Chechnya.
  • In 2008, he invaded the Republic of Georgia, which had declared its independence as the Soviet Union began to crumble. By war’s end, Russia occupied 20% of Georgia’s territory.
  • In 2014, Putin invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. 

Meanwhile, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) launched only verbal condemnations.

The reasons:

  •  Fear of igniting a nuclear war; 
  •  Belief that Russia was simply acting within its own sphere of influence; and/or
  • Then-President Donald Trump’s repeated attacks on NATO and displays of subservience to Putin.

The assault on Ukraine opened with missiles and artillery, striking major Ukrainian cities, including its capitol, Kiev.      

Vladimir Putin 17-11-2021 (cropped).jpg

Vladimir Putin

Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

When Russia invaded, the United States—now led by anti-Putin President Joe Biden—and its Western European allies retaliated with unprecedented economic sanctions. 

Among the resulting casualties: 

  • The ruble crashed.
  • Russia’s central bank more than doubled interest rates to 20%.
  • The European subsidiary of Russia’s biggest bank almost collapsed in a massive Depression-era run by savers. 
  • Economists predicted the Russian economy could decline by five percent. 
  • The West—especially the United States—froze at least half of the $630 billion in international reserves that Putin had amassed to stave off tough sanctions.

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, fierce Ukrainian resistance staggered the Russians: 

  • Kiev remained unconquered. 
  • In late August, using missile systems supplied by the United States, Ukrainian forces destroyed Russian ammunition dumps and a Russian air base in Crimea.
  • In September, Ukraine reclaimed 3,090 square miles of northeastern territory from Russian forces.
  • On September 21, with Russian forces bogged down or retreating, Putin announced the partial mobilization of 300,000 military reservists. All male citizens below 60 are now eligible to be drafted.   
  • Ukrainian forces retook the key city of Kherson in November; Russian forces, which had occupied the city since March, withdrew.  

Russia 'threatening Ukraine With Destruction', Kyiv Says | Conflict News - Newzpick

Ukraine vs. Russia

  • On December 11, Putin’s infamous mercenary army, the Wagner Group, suffered “significant losses” after its Luhansk headquarters was hit during a Ukraine artillery strike.
  • Tensions have flared between the regular Russian army and Wagner Group, with each blaming the other for continuing defeats.
  • Unable to win on the battlefield, Putin has turned to terroristic bombings and drone attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure to break the will of the populace. Defiant Ukrainians continue to hunker down in makeshift shelters against cold and hunger.
  • Putin has been plagued by widespread reports that he’s suffering from cancer, Parkinson’s or some other disabling malady. Most embarrassing of all: A report that, going down a flight of stairs, he tripped and soiled himself upon landing at the bottom.
  • Most importantly: Putin’s attack on Ukraine triggered the danger he most feared: A hardening of the NATO alliance against Russia. 

Dictator #2: Donald Trump

The United States has its own share of would-be dictators. Of these, the most dangerous was former President Donald Trump.

For decades, Trump escaped justice for a litany of infamies—including those committed while he was President.  Among these:

  • Giving highly classified CIA Intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 
  • Using his position as President to further enrich himself, in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
  • Firing FBI Director James Comey for refusing to pledge his personal loyalty to Trump—and continuing to investigate Russian subversion of the 2016 election. 
  • Shutting down the Federal Government on December 22, 2018, because Democrats refused to fund his useless “border wall” between the United States and Mexico. An estimated 380,000 government employees were furloughed and another 420,000 were ordered to work without pay for 35 days.

Related image

Donald Trump

  • Allowing the deadly COVID-19 virus to ravage the country, killing 400,000 Americans by the time he left office.
  • Attacking medical experts and governors who urged Americans to wear masks and socially distance to protect themselves against COVID-19.
  • Illegally trying to pressure state legislatures and governors to stop the certification of the vote that had made Joe Biden the President-elect.
  • Inciting his followers to attack the Capitol Building where Senators and Representatives were meeting to count the Electoral Votes won by himself and Joe Biden. His objective: Stop the count, which he knew would prove him the loser.

In 2022, Trump found the law finally closing in on him:

  • Attorney General Merrick Garland launched an investigation into his illegally taking—before he left the White House—11 boxes of highly classified documents. If found guilty for obstruction of justice, mishandling government records and violating the Espionage Act, Trump could go to prison for decades.   
  • After waiting 22 months, Garland finally appointed a Special Counsel to determine if Trump incited a treasonous riot against the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 to prevent Congressional members from determining the winner of the 2020 Presidential election.  

“DON’T CALL US–JUST SEND US YOUR MONEY”

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Social commentary on January 31, 2023 at 12:10 am

It’s hardly a national security secret: Corporations don’t want to talk to their customers.        

Their love is reserved exclusively for their customers’ wallets.            

Don’t believe it? 

In mid-January I called Verizon Communications to report a disgraceful experience at one of its stores. Fifteen minutes later, with no one deigning to pick up the phone, I hung up.

I decided that Verizon’s CEO, Hans Vestberg, should know how irresponsibly his company was operating. So I sought an email address for him on Verizon’s website.

Naturally, the website refused to provide such an address.

Fortunately, its corporate headquarters address was available.

Hans Vestberg 2018.jpg

Hans Vestberg 

Pombo Photography, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

So that’s where I sent my letter. Its contents:

On January 13, I had a thoroughly despicable experience while visiting your store at [EXCISED].

I currently have an Alcotel flip-phone provided by your company and wanted to upgrade this to a better-quality one. Through Verizon’s Instant Messaging service on Twitter, one of your customer service reps had recommended the Kyocera DuraXV Estreme Prepaid phone.

But when I entered your store one of your representatives told me:

  1. That phone had been discontinued; and
  2. I should get the latest model of this.

The rep said one of these was available. But when I asked to see it, he held up a box with a picture of the phone on it and said he couldn’t open the box until I bought it.

I told him I wouldn’t pay for something I couldn’t even see before I bought it. When I’m thinking of buying a book I want to see how well-written it is before I make a purchase.

I said: “If I just wanted to look at a photo I could have done this on my computer.”

He said that I might be able to see one at Best Buy because the Verizon store I was visiting doesn’t have a display model of the kind of phone I wanted. But they had plenty of iPhones—which of course cost far more—on display.

The rep then tried to pressure me into buying an iPhone, saying it would be cheaper than the one I was interested in.

I told him I wanted a simple phone, without a lot of needless bells and whistles. In addition, the size of a flip phone better fits my hand than does an iPhone.

Verizon Building (8156005279).jpg

Verizon’s headquarters in New York City 

Eden, Janine and Jim from New York City, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

He told me that the phone I wanted could be bought for about $7 a month, which would stretch to about 36 months. I  asked him if I could pay it off in larger sums, so I could get the purchase out of the way more quickly.

He said no, and to my surprise explained why: It was Verizon’s way to ensure the customer stayed with the company for at least that length of time.

In short: Verizon doesn’t count on its superior technology and service to retain consumer loyalty.

The rep said I should have phoned the office before coming in, so someone could tell me they didn’t have on display any phones I wanted to see.

I replied that in the past I had phoned that office—and found they didn’t deign to answer their phones.

Again to my surprise, he admitted that that was actually the store’s policy.

To which I replied: “So you sell phones—but you don’t deign to answer your own phones.”

Needless to say, I left without buying anything.

On January 25, I got a call from a secretary at Verizon.

She wanted to let me know that CEO Vestberg had gotten my letter.

First, she apologized for the difficulties I had encountered.

Then she sympathized with my desire to see an expensive cell phone before I actually bought it. She said that her mother felt exactly the same way when she wanted to buy something.

But when I asked her what Verizon intended to do to correct these outrages, she offered nothing

Clearly she expected me to be fully satisfied with a pro-forma apology—and nothing else.

I explained that an apology is an admission of failure—and without an effort to correct that failure, the “apology” means nothing.

The secretary simply offered her original apology on behalf of Verizon.

“Thank you for calling,” I said, and hung up.  

That same week, a friend of mine named Dave had a similar disappointing encounter with Comcast. He wanted to file a change of address with the company.

Comcast Logo.svg

And, like me, he found it impossible to reach anyone by phone.

So he got onto Comcast’s website on Twitter—and left a message: “Why is it so hard to get someone at your stores to answer the phone? Have you considered hiring a few operators?”

About five minutes later, Dave got a call—from Comcast. 

Apparently the company monitors Twitter 24/7, but doesn’t feel the need to hire enough operators to man its phone banks.

So Dave finally got to make his change-of-address. 

Moral: If you can embarrass a company on Twitter, Yelp! or other social media website, chances are it will treat you with the respect it should have shown in the first place.

DICTATORS: A MUTUAL ADMIRATION SOCIETY

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 20, 2023 at 12:17 am

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have rightly gotten a lot of publicity—for how much they admire each other.

On the surface, this might seem surprising.  Putin spent most of his adult life as a fervent member of the Communist Party, which swore eternal warfare against capitalism.

After joining the KGB in 1975, he served as one of its officers for 16 years, eventually rising to the level of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1991, he retired to enter politics in his native St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad).

Vladimir Putin 17-11-2021 (cropped).jpg

Vladimir Putin

Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

This, in turn, brought him to the attention of Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who groomed Putin as his successor. When Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned on December 31, 1999, Putin became Acting President.

In 2000, he was elected President in his own right, despite widespread accusations of vote-rigging. He won re-election in 2004, but could not run for a third term in 2008 because of constitutionally-mandated term limits.

So Putin ran his handpicked successor, Dimitry Medvedev, as president.  When Medvedev won, he appointed Putin as prime minister.

Of course, the man who actually called the shots in Russia was not Medvedev but Putin.

In 2012, Putin again ran for president and won.

Trump, on the other hand, is the personification of capitalistic excess. He has been an investor, real estate mogul, television personality as former host of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” and alleged author.

The Trump Organization sponsored the Miss Universe, Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants.

Related image

Donald Trump

He is notorious for stamping “Trump” on everything he acquires, most notably Trump Tower, a 58-story skyscraper at 725 Fifth Avenue in New York City.

On June 16, 2015, he declared himself a candidate for the Presidency in the 2016 election. Since July, he was consistently the front-runner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

So it came as a surprise to many in the United States when, on December 17, 2015, Putin described Trump as “a bright and talented person without any doubt,” and “an outstanding and talented personality.”

He summed up Trump as “the absolute leader of the presidential race.”

Trump, in turn, was quick to respond: “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

Two months earlier, in October, Trump had said of Putin: “I think that I would probably get along with him very well.”

Appearing on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Trump said: “Sure, when people call you ‘brilliant’ it’s always good. Especially when the person heads up Russia.”

The conservative host, Joe Scarborough, took exception to Trump’s praise for Putin: “Well, I mean, he’s also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”

TRUMP: “He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader. Unlike what we have in this country.”

SCARBOROUGH: “But again: He kills journalists that don’t agree with him.”

TRUMP: “Well, I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe. You know. there’s a lot of stuff going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on and a lot of stupidity…”

Absolute dictators like Vladimir Putin and would-be dictators like Donald Trump often gravitate toward each other.  At least temporarily.

Adolf Hitler

On January 30, 1933, anti-Communist Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. For the next six years, the Nazi press hurled insults at its arch-enemy, the Soviet Union.

And the Soviet press hurled insults at Nazi Germany. 

Then, on August 23, 1939, Hitler’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, signed the Treaty of Non-aggression between Nazi Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R).

Signing for the Soviet Union was its own foreign minister, Vyachelsav Molotov.

The reason: Hitler planned to invade Poland on September 1. He needed to neutralize the military might of the U.S.S.R.  And only Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin could do that.

Democratic nations like France, Great Britain and the United States were stunned.

But there had long been a grudging respect between the two brutal dictators.

On June 30, 1934, Hitler had ordered a bloody purge throughout Germany. Privately, Stalin offered praise: “Hitler, what a great man! This is the way to deal with your political opponents.”

Joseph Stalin

Hitler was—privately—equally admiring of the series of purges Stalin inflicted on the Soviet Union. Even after he broke the non-aggression pact by invading the U.S.S.R. on June 22, 1941, he said:

“After the victory over Russia, it would be a good idea to get Stalin to run the country—with German oversight, of course.  He knows better than anyone how to handle the Russians.”

In April, 1945, as he waited for victorious Russian armies to reach his underground bunker, Hitler confided to Joseph Goebbels, his propaganda minister, his major regret:

He should have brutally purged the officer corps of the Wehrmacht, as Stalin had that of the Red Army. Stalin’s purges had cleaned “deadwood” from the Russian ranks, and a purge of the German army would have done the same.

For Adolf Hitler, the lesson was clear: “Afterward, you rue the fact that you’ve been so kind.”

It’s the sort of sentiment that dictators like Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump can appreciate.

CRY ME A RIOT

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on January 19, 2023 at 12:10 am

And the most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men. Sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles whatsoever.
—Plutarch, “Life of Alexander”

On January 6, 2021, Hope Hicks had a problem: She feared she might never work again.

She had served in President Donald Trump’s administration as White House Director of Strategic Communication from January to September, 2017. 

From 2017 to 2018 she served as White House Communications Director. After leaving the White House, she returned to serve as Counselor to the President from 2020 to 2021.

Hope Hicks November 2017.jpg

Hope Hicks

And then came the Trump-inspired attack on Congress on January 6.

Among the infamies and crimes Trump committed—and Hicks witnessed—during his four years as President:

  • Repeatedly attacking the nation’s free press as “the enemy of the American people” for daring to report his growing list of crimes and disasters.
  • Publicly siding with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against American Intelligence agencies—such as the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency—which unanimously agreed that Russia had interfered with the 2016 Presidential election.
  • Giving highly classified CIA Intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. 
  • Using his position as President to further enrich himself, in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.
  • Attacking and alienating America’s oldest allies, such as Canada and Great Britain.
  • Firing FBI Director James Comey for refusing to pledge his personal loyalty to Trump—and continuing to investigate Russian subversion of the 2016 election.

9 times Donald Trump was compared to Hitler | The Times of Israel

Two Fuhrers: Adolf Hitler and Donald Trump

  • Shutting down the Federal Government on December 22, 2018, because Democrats refused to fund his useless “border wall” between the United States and Mexico. An estimated 380,000 government employees were furloughed and another 420,000 were ordered to work without pay for 35 days.
  • Allowing the deadly COVID-19 virus to ravage the country, killing 400,000 Americans by the time he left office.
  • Attacking medical experts and governors who urged Americans to wear masks and socially distance to protect themselves against the deadly COVID-19 virus.
  • Urging his followers to illegally vote twice for him in the upcoming 2020 Presidential election.
  • Repeatedly lying—while still in office and afterward—that the 2020 election had been “stolen” from him by massive voter fraud.
  • Illegally trying to pressure state legislatures and governors to stop the certification of the vote that had made Joe Biden the president-elect.
  • Inciting his followers to attack the Capitol Building where Senators and Representatives were meeting to count the Electoral Votes won by himself and Joe Biden. His objective: Stop the count, which he knew would prove him the loser.

So Hope had plenty to feel tormented about.  

Yet it wasn’t any of these offenses that upset her.

It was something far more personal: She feared that the public’s association of her with Trump’s attack on Congress would doom her, at age 32, to permanent unemployment.

On January 6, 2021, she exchanged a series of texts with Julie Radford, First Daughter Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff. 

HICKS: “In one day he [Trump] ended every future opportunity that doesn’t include speaking engagements at the local proud boys [sic] chapter

“And all of us that didn’t have jobs lined up will be perpetually unemployed

“I’m so mad and upset

“We all look like domestic terrorists now”

RADFORD: “Oh yes I’ve been crying for an hour”

HICKS: “This made us all unemployable

“Like untouchable

“God I’m so fucking mad”

RADFORD: “I know there isn’t a chance of finding a job 

“Visa also sent me a blow off email today

“Already”

HICKS: “Nope. Not being dramatic, but we are all fucked.

[Referring to Trump]: “Attacking the VP [Vice President Mike Pence]?

“Wtf is wrong with him” 

Albert Speer, former architect and Minister of Armaments for his late Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, would have fully empathized. 

Monochrome photograph of the upper body of Albert Speer, signed at the bottom

Albert Speer

Bundesarchiv, Bild 146II-277 / Binder / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

With the collapse of the Third Reich, he found himself hurled from power and facing trial as a war criminal at Nuremberg.

His prosecutor, Robert H. Jackson, said: “Speer joined in planning and executing the program to dragoon prisoners of war and foreign workers into German war industries, which waxed in output while the workers waned in starvation.”

Yet Speer falsely claimed he had simply been an apolitical architect who had been drafted into serving as Minister of Armaments—and hadn’t known about the Holocaust. 

The prosecution couldn’t prove he had. So he escaped a death sentence—and was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.

Emerging from prison in 1966, Speer lamented that no architectural firm in postwar Germany would hire “Hitler’s architect.” 

So he spent the rest of his life writing—at great profit—about his 12 years as a high-ranking official in the Third Reich. As “The Good Nazi,” he portrayed himself as a political innocent deceived into hell by a Mephistopheles-like Hitler.

Like Speer, Hope Hicks has repudiated her own former Fuhrer—after serving him during his worst infamies.

And, like Speer, she isn’t facing the dangers of poverty. Her net worth is estimated at $1 million, owing to her past work as a model and public relations agent.

HOW DEMOCRATS CAN DEFEAT EXTORTION: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 18, 2023 at 12:13 am

….A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must inevitably come to grief among so many who are not good.  And therefore it is necessary, for a prince who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.
—Niccolo Machiavelli’s advice to President Joseph Biden in “The Prince”

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Niccolo Machiavelli

Republicans, having won control of the House of Representatives, are eagerly seeking to destroy whatever legacy President Joseph R. Biden hopes to leave.

Intending to abuse their new-found powers to the utmost, their topmost goals include:

  • Bringing false impeachment charges against President Biden;
  • Investigating FBI officials who rightly investigated evidence of Donald Trump’s collaboration with Russia;
  • Investigating the President’s son, Hunter, for unspecified offenses, to damage his father’s credibility; and
  • Holding America’s economy hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless Biden makes cuts in taxes and aid programs for the poor and middle class.

Yet their dictatorial ambitions—lavishly funded by Russian “campaign contributions” (i.e., bribes)—can be thwarted. 

Two methods for achieving this have already been discussed in Part one of this series: 

  1. Attack Republicans as traitors selling out the country to Vladimir Putin, and
  2. Concede NOTHING to Republicans

Here are two more: 

Counterattack Strategy #3: One Biden for Two Trumps

House Republicans will undoubtedly attack Joseph Biden’s son, Hunter, to damage the President’s  credibility.

“What’s on Hunter’s laptop?” will become their latest version of “Who promoted Peress?” Irving Peress was a New York City dentist who became a primary target for Red-baiting Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy during the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings.

Democrats cannot prevent this attack. Republicans are too dedicated to the politics of “smear and fear” to be persuaded otherwise.

But Democrats can at least effectively blunt it: Senatorial Democrats can hold similar investigative hearings on the actions of Donald Trump, Jr., and Eric Trump during their father’s White House tenure.

Both were highly involved with President Trump’s finances during his four years in office. And Trump never hesitated to violate the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution. 

Constitution of the United States, page 1.jpg

United States Constitution

Article I, Section 9, Paragraph 8 prohibits federal office holders from receiving gifts, payments, or anything of value from a foreign state or its rulers, officers, or representatives.

The Founders wanted to ensure that the country’s leaders would not be corrupted, even unconsciously, through bribes. At that time, bribery was a common practice among European rulers and diplomats. 

Trump encouraged diplomats, lobbyists and insiders to stay at his Washington, D.C. hotel—which lay only a short walk from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue.

And the prices charged there weren’t cheap:

  • Cocktails ran from $23 for a gin and tonic to $100 for a vodka concoction with raw oysters and caviar.
  • A seafood pyramid called “the Trump Tower” cost $120.
  • A salt-aged Kansas City strip steak cost $59.  

It’s a certainty that Trump’s sons, Eric and Donald, Jr., oversaw the profits sheet for this hotel—and other Trump properties across the country visited by members of foreign governments.

Thus, there are legitimate avenues for investigation open to Senatorial subcommittees—just as Robert F. Kennedy once probed financial ties between the Mafia and the International Brother of Teamsters Union. 

The Justice Department might even be persuaded to launch its own investigation—not only into possible financial corruption during the Trump administration but into widespread reports of cocaine use by Donald, Jr. 

Donald Trump, Jr. (51770696331) (cropped).jpg

Donald Trump, Jr.

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

The House cannot bring criminal penalties against anyone. But the Justice Department can.

Counterattack Strategy #4: One Biden for Two Houses of Congress

After Donald Trump refused to concede the 2020 Presidential election, 17 Republican state Attorney Generals—and 126 Republican members from both houses of Congress—supported a Texas lawsuit to overturn the results in four battleground states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

This was nothing less than a Right-wing coup attempt to overturn the results of a legitimate election. As a result, every one of these men and women can be legitimately indicted for treason—provided the Biden Justice Department has has the courage to do so.

Had the Justice Department brought such indictments in 2021 or 2022, the Republican party would now be facing legal and financial ruin. 

Even if some of its members escaped conviction, they would have been forced to pony up tens of thousands of dollars in legal expenses. 

And those who were convicted and sent to prison would serve as a long-remembered lesson to the Right of the dangers of treason and abuse of power. 

For decades, Republicans have turned Carl von Clausewitz’ famous dictum—“War is the continuation of politics by other means”—on its head: “Politics is a continuation of war by other means.” 

By contrast, Democrats have too often adhered to the Michelle Obama mantra: “When they go low, we go high.”

That strategy has given the United States Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, George W. Bush, Donald Trump—and a Republican Congress willing to destroy the country it claims to love.

HOW DEMOCRATS CAN DEFEAT EXTORTION: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 17, 2023 at 12:10 am

It took 15 votes—and a series of humiliating concessions—for Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to become Speaker of the House of Representatives.

All of the concessions he made were to the most Right-wing members of the House. And all of those members are fanatically dedicated to destroying whatever legacy President Joseph R. Biden hopes to leave.

At the top of their list: Impeaching Biden. 

Republicans refused to impeach and convict Donald Trump after he incited a deadly riot against the United States Capitol Building. But they’re eager to remove Biden for what they consider the most impeachable offense of all.

He defeated a Republican candidate for President.

Joe Biden presidential portrait.jpg

President Joseph Biden

And not just any Republican candidate: The candidate who had made no secret of his desire to be “President-for-Life.”

During the mid-term elections, Republicans had expected to sweep both the House and Senate. This would have given them virtual control of the government.

For the House is the body that initiates revenue bills and impeaches federal officials. And the Senate holds the power to confirm Presidential appointments that require consent, and to provide advice and consent to ratify treaties.

But Democrats went on a rare offensive and rightly attacked Republicans as intending to gain absolute control over the lives of their fellow Americans. And voters rejected the candidates favored by Trump for local and federal offices.

Thus, Republicans had to settle for controlling the House. 

Even so, they intend to abuse their new-found powers to the utmost. Among their topmost goals:

  • Bringing false impeachment charges against President Biden;
  • Investigating FBI officials who rightly investigated evidence of Donald Trump’s collaboration with Russia;
  • Investigating the President’s son, Hunter, for unspecified offenses, to damage his father’s credibility; and
  • Holding America’s economy hostage by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless Biden makes cuts in taxes and aid programs for the poor and middle class.

R. Hunter Biden at Center for Strategic & International Studies (1).jpg

Hunter Biden

Center for Strategic & International Studies, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

If Democrats follow their usual mantra of “When they go low, we go high,” they will cower before Republican aggression and sacrifice their legislative agenda.

Yet they can snatch victory from the jaws of impending defeat—providing they are willing to follow the advice Robert F. Kennedy offered for combating the Mafia: “If we do not attack organized criminals with weapons and techniques as effective as their own, they will destroy us.” 

Counterattack Strategy #1: Attack Republicans as traitors selling out the country to Vladimir Putin

Numerous Republicans have taken “campaign contributions”—i.e., bribes—from Russian oligarchs linked to Putin. 

One Russian oligarch—Len Blavatnik—has given millions of dollars to top Republican leaders—such as Senators Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), Marco Rubio (Florida) and Lindsey Graham (South Carolina). 

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In just 2017, Blavatnik contributed the following to GOP Political Action Committees (PACs):

  • $1.5 million to PACs associated with Rubio.
  • $1 million to Trump’s Inaugural Committee.
  • $1 million to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund.
  • $3.5 million to a PAC associated with McConnell
  • $1.1 million to Unintimidated PAC, associated with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker
  • $250,000 to New Day for America PAC, associated with Ohio Governor John Kasich.
  • $800,000 to the Security is Strength PAC, associated with Senator Lindsey Graham.

The Biden administration need not ask the CIA or FBI to unearth these contributions. They can be easily found within the files of the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Putin’s monies have been well-spent: About 90 House Republicansout of a total of 213—attended Volodymyr Zelensky’s address to Congress on December 21, according to CQ Roll Call. Some who did spent much of the speech on their phones.

Many Republicans—such as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who in 2021 received about $255,000 from Blavatnik—have openly threatened to end all funding for Ukraine’s heroic struggle against Russian aggression.

Kevin McCarthy, official photo, 116th Congress.jpg

Kevin McCarthy

This would prove an effective technique. From the end of World War II to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Republicans successfully attacked Democrats as at least potential sellouts, if not actual traitors.

The advantage of attacking Russian-bribed Republicans today is that even some “Reagan Republicans”—such as James Kirchick, a conservative reporter, foreign correspondent, author, and columnist—have openly denounced this treason.

Thus, the White House could ignite an internal conflict within the Right by pitting Republicans against each other.

Counterattack Strategy #2: Concede NOTHING to Republicans

Donald Trump shut down the Federal Government on December 22, 2018, because Democrats refused to finance his useless border wall against Mexico.

So Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi shut down his State of the Union appearance.

As CNN political analyst Chris Cillizza noted: “What Pelosi seems to understand better than past Trump political opponents is that giving ANY ground is a mistake. You have to not only stand firm, but be willing to go beyond all political norms—like canceling the SOTU—to win.”

His ego strung, Trump reopened the government.

And with Republicans threatening to not raise the debt ceiling unless their extortionate demands are met, the White House can effectively counter this danger:

Deduct from the budget every dollar directed toward Republican states. This would vastly reduce the size of the Federal budget, since subsidizing these failed economies accounts for a substantial portion of the budget. 

MACHIAVELLI’S VERDICT ON TRUMP: HE’S NO PRINCE

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 16, 2023 at 12:10 am

No shortage of pundits have sized up Donald Trump—first as a Presidential candidate, then as the nation’s 45th President, and now as a potential Presidential candidate in 2024.  

But how does Trump measure up in the estimate of Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th-century Florentine statesman?

It is Machiavelli whose two great works on politics—The Prince and The Discourses—remain textbooks for successful politicians more than 500 years later.  

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Niccolo Machiavelli

Let’s start with Trump’s notoriety for hurling insults at virtually everyone, including:  

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

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

Here’s Machiavelli’s advice on issuing threats and insults:

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

For those who expected Trump to shed his propensity for constantly picking fights once he became President, Machiavelli warned:

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

Then there is Trump’s approach to consulting advisers:

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

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Donald Trump

Machiavelli advised:

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

On selecting good advisers, Machiavelli taught:

  • “The first impression that one gets of a ruler and his brains is from seeing the men that he has about him. 
  • “When they are competent and loyal one can always consider him wise, as he has been able to recognize their ability and keep them faithful. 
  • “But when they are the reverse, one can always form an unfavorable opinion of him, because the first mistake that he makes is in making this choice.” 

Among the advisers Trump relied on in his 2016 Presidential campaign: 

  • Founder of Latinos for Trump Marco Gutierrez told MSNBC’s Joy Reid: “My culture is a very dominant culture. And it’s imposing, and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re gonna have taco trucks every corner.” 
  • At a Tea Party for Trump rally at a Harley-Davidson dealership in Festus, Missouri, former Missouri Republican Party director Ed Martin reassured the crowd that they weren’t racist for hating Mexicans.

No Labels - One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. | Facebook

From the outset of his Presidential campaign, Trump polled extremely poorly among Hispanic voters. Comments like these didn’t increase his popularity.

  • Wayne Root, opening speaker and master of ceremonies at many Trump campaign events, told Virginia radio host Rob Schilling: People on public assistance and women getting birth control through Obamacare should not be allowed to vote.

Comments like this were a big turn-off among the 70% of women who had an unfavorable opinion of him—and anyone who receives Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security.

  • Trump’s spokeswoman, Katrina Pierson, claimed that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were responsible for the death of Captain Humayun Khan—who was killed by a truck-bomb in Iraq in 2004.  

Obama became President in 2009—almost five years after Khan’s death. And Clinton became Secretary of State the same year.  

When your spokeswoman becomes a nationwide laughingstock, your own credibility goes down the toilet as well.

Finally, Machiavelli offered a warning that especially applies to Trump: Unwise princes cannot be wisely advised.

  • “It is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised, unless by chance he leaves himself entirely in the hands of one man who rules him in everything, and happens to be a very prudent man. In this case, he may doubtless be well governed, but it would not last long, for the governor would in a short time deprive him of the state.”

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

BUMS AWAY!–PART THREE (END)

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

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

Walgreens drug stores have proven a particular target for Druggies, Drunks, Mentals and Bums (DDMBs)—the four groups that make up 90% of the “homeless” population.

As a result, Walgreens has closed at least 11 stores in San Francisco. 

“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,” a regular customer, Sebastian Luke, told the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Retail theft across our San Francisco stores has continued to increase in the past few months to five times our chain average,” Walgreens spokesman Phil Caruso told the Chronicle in October, 2021. 

“During this time to help combat this issue, we increased our investments in security measures in stores across the city to 46 times our chain average in an effort to provide a safe environment.” 

“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. 

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

Some stores in the city are refusing to let themselves be ripped off.

Target’s largest store, at Geary and Masonic, is guarded by armed security from IPS. Its officers wear dark green uniforms resembling those of sheriff’s deputies and carry .40 caliber automatics.

They are unfailingly courteous—but don’t hesitate to restrain anyone who poses a threat to customers or is apparently stealing merchandise.

Of course, corporations aren’t in business to lose money. So costs for such security are passed on to customers.

A red bullseye with one ring.

Many Druggies, Drunks, Mentals and Bums 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.

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.

Since 2015, eight Navigation Centers have been opened throughout San Francisco; six are in operation.

Among the “amenities” they provide:

  • Meals
  • Privacy
  • Space for pets
  • Space separate from sleeping areas
  • Laundry
  • Access to benefits
  • Wi-Fi

Hundreds—if not thousands—of their occupants are meth or 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. 

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 budgeted $1.1 billion for fiscal year 2021-22 on DDMBs. Dividing that amount by about 7,754 DDMBs provides the figure of about $128,925 per DDMB per year.  

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An Untermenschen encampment

And what is the legacy of allowing San Francisco to become a Roach Motel for undesirables? 

  • The city’s sidewalks reek of human feces and urine.
  • Pedestrians must tread carefully to avoid used hypodermic needles and empty cans or bottles of alcoholic beverages.
  • Sleeping bags and tents litter sidewalks, making it hard to pass by—especially for the elderly or those using canes or wheelchairs.
  • Elevators in the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system are often unusable because “homeless” people urinate and/or defecate in them.
  • Restaurants have been forced to close because they’ve become havens for DDMBs. A Burger King at Civic Center Plaza recently suffered this fate. So did a McDonald’s in the Haight Ashbury district. 
  • Tourists—and residents—are daily forced to sit next to filth-encrusted men and women who reek of urine and/or feces in restaurants and movie theaters, as well as on buses.

It is a recipe for guaranteed disaster. 

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