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RFK: FIGHTING THE EVIL OF THE MAFIA–AND THE EVIL OF POVERTY

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on June 5, 2020 at 12:08 am

Fifty-two years ago, the Reverend Martin Luther King was shot to death as he stood on a balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. He had come there to lead a march of striking garbage workers.

New York United States Senator—and now Presidential candidate—Robert Francis Kennedy had been scheduled to give a speech in Indianapolis, Indiana, before a black audience.

Just before he drove into the city to deliver his address, he learned of King’s assassination. There was a real danger that rioting would erupt. Police who had been assigned to protect him said they wouldn’t accompany him into the inner city.

Kennedy drove off anyway, leaving behind his police escort.

Standing on a podium mounted on a flatbed truck, Kennedy spoke for just four minutes and 57 seconds.

His waiting audience hadn’t yet learned of King’s death. Kennedy broke the news to gasps, and then gave an impromptu speech eulogizing the slain civil rights leader.

For the first time since the assassination of his brother, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963, he spoke publicly of that killing. He noted that JFK—like King—had also been killed by a white man.

And he called upon the crowd to “dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and to make gentle the life of this world.”

Riots erupted in 60 cities following King’s death—but not in Indianapolis.

During the mid- and late 1960s, Robert Kennedy aroused passions of an altogether different sort from those aroused by Donald Trump.

Kennedy had been a United States Attorney General (1961-1964) and Senator from New York (1964-1968). But it was his connection to his beloved and assassinated brother, President John F. Kennedy, for which he was best known.

In October, 1962, during the Cuban Missile Crisis, his wise counsel helped steer America from the brink of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. As a U.S Senator he championed civil rights and greater Federal efforts to fight poverty.

Robert F. Kennedy campaigning for President

Millions saw RFK as the only candidate who could make life better for America’s impoverished—while standing firmly against those who threatened the Nation’s safety.

As television correspondent Charles Quinn observed: “I talked to a girl in Hawaii who was for [George] Wallace [the segregationist governor of Alabama]. And I said ‘Really?’ [She said] ‘Yeah, but my real candidate is dead.’

“You know what I think it was? All these whites, all these blue collar people who supported Kennedy…all of these people felt that Kennedy would really do what he thought best for the black people, but, at the same time, would not tolerate lawlessness and violence.

“They were willing to gamble…because they knew in their hearts that the country was not right. They were willing to gamble on this man who would try to keep things within reasonable order; and at the same time do some of the things they knew really should be done.”

Campaigning for the Presidency in 1968, RFK had just won the crucial California primary on June 4—when he was shot in the back of the head.

His killer: Sirhan Sirhan, a young Palestinian furious at Kennedy’s support for Israel.

Kennedy died at 1:44 a.m. on June 6.  He was 42.

On June 8, 1,200 men and women boarded a specially-reserved passenger train at New York’s Pennsylvania Station. They were accompanying Kennedy’s body to its final resting place at Arlington National Cemetery.

As the train slowly moved along 225 miles of track, throngs of men, women and children lined the rails to pay their final respects to a man they considered a genuine hero.

Little Leaguers clutched baseball caps across their chests. Uniformed firemen and policemen saluted. Burly men in shirtsleeves held hardhats over their hearts. Black men in overalls waved small American flags. Women from all levels of society stood and cried.

A nation says goodbye to Robert Kennedy

Commenting on RFK’s legacy, historian William L. O’Neil wrote in Coming Apart: An Informal History of America in the 1960′s:

“…He aimed so high that he must be judged for what he meant to do, and, through error and tragic accident, failed at….He will also be remembered as an extraordinary human being who, though hated by some, was perhaps more deeply loved by his countrymen than any man of his time.

“That too must be entered into the final account, and it is no small thing. With his death something precious disappeared from public life.”

America has never again seen a Presidential candidate who combined toughness on crime and compassion for the poor.

Republican candidates have waged war on crime—and the poor. And Democratic candidates have moved to the Right in eliminating anti-poverty programs.

RFK had the courage to fight the Mafia—and the compassion to fight poverty. At a time when Americans long for candidates to give them positive reasons for voting, his kind of politics are sorely missed.

THE POWER OF HUMANITY IN A TIME OF INHUMANITY

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 4, 2020 at 12:20 am

Two stories—one fictitious, the other historical.

Story #1: In the 1961 historical epic, “El Cid,” Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, known as “The Lord,” besieges the Spanish city of Valencia, which has been captured by the Moors.

Months have passed. The city’s population is starving and without hope.

Then, one day, El Cid (Charlton Heston) calls out over the city’s walls: “Soldiers and citizens of Valencia We are not your enemy! Ben Yusof [the powerful emir who plans to conquer Spain with an invading army] is your enemy! 

“Join us! We bring you peace! We bring you freedom! We bring you bread!”

Amazon.com: El Cid Poster Movie 30x40 Charlton Heston Sophia Loren ...

Suddenly El Cid’s Spanish catapults spring into action—loaded not with stones but loaves of bread. The loaves land in the city’s streets, where starving citizens and soldiers greedily devour them. 

Then those citizens attack the bodyguards of the emir ruling Valencia—and throw the emir himself from a high wall. 

The army of El Cid marches peacefully into the city.

Story #2: In Book Three, Chapter 22 of his classic masterwork, The Discourses, Niccolo Machiavelli offers the following: “An Act of Humanity Prevailed More With the Falacians Than All the Power of Rome.”

Marcus Furius Camillus, a Roman general, was besieging the city of the Faliscians, and had surrounded it. A teacher charged with the education of the children of some of the noblest families of that city decided to ingratiate himself with Camillus by leading those children into the Roman camp. 

Presenting them to Camillus the teacher said to him, “By means of these children as hostages, you will be able to compel the city to surrender.”

Camillus not only declined the offer but went one step further. He ordered the teacher stripped and his hands tied behind his back. Then Camillus had a rod put into the hands of each of the children and directed them to whip the teacher all the way back to the city. 

Upon learning this, the citizens of Faliscia were so much touched by the humanity and integrity of Camillus, that they surrendered the place to him without any further defense. 

Summing up the meaning of this, Machiavelli writes: “This example shows that an act of humanity and benevolence will at all times have more influence over the minds of men than violence and ferocity.  It also proves that provinces and cities which no armies…could conquer, have yielded to an act of humanity, benevolence, chastity or generosity.

“…History also shows us how much the people desire to find such virtues in great men, and how much they are extolled by historians and biographers of princes….Amongst these, Xenophon takes great pains to show how many victories, how much honor and fame, Cyrus gained by his humanity and affability, and by his not having exhibited a single instance of pride, cruelty or luxuriousness, nor of any of the other vices that are apt to stain the lives of men.”

Quote by Machiavelli: “Necessity is what impels men to take action ...

Niccolo Machiavelli

These stories—the first the product of a movie screenwriter’s imagination, the second recorded by a master political scientist and historian—remain highly relevant today.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheriff Christopher Swanson

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

So Swanson took his helmet off. His deputies laid their batons down.

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

“Walk with us!” the protesters shouted.

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

Cheering and applause resounded.

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

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

No rioting followed. 

THE CHANGED FACE OF SAN FRANCISCO: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 3, 2020 at 12:25 am

San Francisco has long been one of the most-loved cities in the United States.

Millions of tourists—from both other parts of the United States as well as around the world—visit this city every year to ride its famous cable cars and dine in its magnificent restaurants.

To visit the ruins of its infamous prison, Alcatraz, eat Ghiradelli ice cream in Ghiradelli Square and buy souveniers at nearby Fisherman’s Wharf. 

San Francisco Cable car

Thomas Wolf, http://www.foto-tw.de / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

But San Francisco today is not the city it has long been renowned for.

Its major tourist spots are deserted. Its sidewalks are largely free of pedestrians. Many of its best-known stores have been shuttered since mid-March—and many of them may never reopen owing to the financial losses they have incurred.

Its world-famous restaurants no longer offer in-house dining—only take-out or home delivery.

Many of its bus routes have been eliminated. With so many people “sheltering-in-place” in their apartments or houses, the passengers that once carried those routes have largely disappeared. 

On March 16, the San Francisco Department of Public Health imposed a shelter-in-place order on city residents. This required them to stay home except for essential needs such as shopping for groceries, getting medications, caring for others and exercising.

The goal of the order: To halt—or at least diminish—the spread of COVID-19.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

The order banned activities considered non-essential: Going to bars, barbers and dinner parties. 

Many restaurants offer their fare via Grubhub, Doordash, Caviar or Uber Eats. Some restaurants—notably pizza parlors—use their own employees to deliver food.

This, in turn, demands that potential customers have not only a computer but Internet access. It also demands that they be willing to pay a higher price for food than would be the case if they could dine in.

Another drawback: Choosing what items to order from many restaurants is like choosing what to order in the military: You either accept what they offer—or you do without. Forget about substitutions or additions. 

Outdoor exercise is allowed, but gyms are closed.

Some businesses were deemed essential. Among these: Grocery stores, hardware stores, hospitals, drugstores, laundromats, funeral parlors, gas stations, airlines, taxis, rental car companies, childcare facilities, rideshare services. 

The effect of the shutdown order on businesses has been devastating.  

Walk along Market Street—the city’s best-known site for marches and storefronts—and you’ll find store after store not only closed but boarded up. The same for Powell Street, a major tourist magnet.

People are on edge right now': San Francisco businesses boarding ...

The city’s internationally famous cable car lines have all been shut down. With “social distancing” the new Golden Rule, cramming people onto small cable cars is no longer an option. 

Taxis are still available—but cab drivers have found business difficult to come by, with so many people staying indoors.

The order allowed most marijuana dispensaries to remain open. Bookstores, on the other hand, were ordered closed—and remain so more than two months later. 

So businesses selling toxic “medical marijuana” are considered essential. But if you want to buy a copy of Moby Dick at your local bookstore, you’ll have to do it online. 

Many businesses started boarding up in April. The reason: Fears that Coronavirus-inspired shortages of items like toilet paper, meat and hand sanitizer might lead to wholesale looting. 

Then, on May 25, as if facing a deadly pandemic wasn’t enough of a threat, a new and unexpected reason for fear emerged: The killing of George Floyd, a former black security guard, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

While Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down on a city street during an arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white Minneapolis police officer, kept his knee on the right side of Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.

Video shows Minneapolis cop with knee on neck of George Floyd, who ...

The death of George Floyd

Across the nation, cities were convulsed by protests—including those in the San Francisco Bay Area. Among these: Oakland, San Jose, Emeryville, Walnut Creek and San Francisco itself.

On May 30, an initially peaceful protest march exploded into looting shortly before 9 p.m. as looters broke off and began smashing shop windows and ransacking stores in Union Square and on Market Street.

Among stores looted: A Sak’s Off Fifth Avenue, Old Navy clothing store, a Cartier Boutique, a Coach store. Looters especially targeted CVS and Walgreens drugstores. Liquor stores and a BevMo were also hit.

“Thirty businesses were looted or destroyed,” said David Perry, from Union Square Business Improvement District. A total of 33 arrests were made for “criminal activity.”

That night, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that she would impose a citywide curfew beginning May 31, running from 8:00 p.m to 5 a.m.

On the night of May 31, 87 people were arrested for violating the city’s curfew. 

Left unstated by city authorities—within San Francisco and across the nation—was this: With so many people massing in streets, many of them unmasked, would this spread COVID-19 even further?

Northern California—and San Francisco in particular—have closely cooperated with “stay-at-home” orders. As a result, COVID-19 cases have remained relatively stable in those areas.

But the street demonstrations may well reverse the results of those months of self-discipline. The truth will be known only weeks from now.

THE CHANGED FACE OF SAN FRANCISCO PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 2, 2020 at 12:05 am

Want to play a new game? Come to San Francisco and play “Count the Stupids.”

Just walk down any major street during a pandemic that’s killed more than 100,000 Americans and count:

  • The people who refuse to wear face masks;
  • The people wearing face masks below their noses;
  • The people wearing face masks around their necks like bandannas. 

On some days—depending on how far you walk—you might spot 10 to 60 or more such people. 

Those who wear masks below their nose negate the purpose of wearing a mask. If they have COVID-19 and sneeze on someone else who’s not wearing a mask, that person is going to be stricken. And if someone who’s also not wearing a mask sneezes or coughs on them, they will be infected.

Coronavirus prevention: Can using a mask help in eliminating COVID ...

Face masks

Many of those wearing masks as bandannas are smoking. Clearly they value getting their intake of cancer as more important than protecting themselves against a deadly virus. Many mask-less men sport heavy beards—which would make a mask impossible to seal properly.

And as for complying with social distancing requirements that put at least six feet between people: Countless people casually pass others only inches away without any apparent concern—for their own safety or that of others.

On May 28, San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced that a new policy would take effect the next day: 

San Francisco will enforce the wearing of masks or face coverings when people leave their home and are within 30 feet of anyone that doesn’t live in their household.

That includes when you’re waiting in line to go into a store and when you’re inside shopping. A mask or face covering will not be needed when: 

  • You’re in a car by yourself;
  • You’re with people you live with;
  • You’re picnicking with members of your own household and are more than six feet from other groups;
  • You’re walking, hiking, running or biking alone or with people you live with.

Even then, you should still have a mask or face covering on hand.

Of course, that will require police to enforce the new ordinance. This in a city where police have refused to crack down on “homeless” encampments—and their piles of feces, hypodermic needles and trash.

For all the kudos offered city residents by Mayor Breed for complying with social distancing, the blunt truth remains that many of them do not. And the fact that Breed felt forced to legally require citizens to wear face masks is a telling point in its own right.

But to return to life in San Francisco in the Age of COVID-19: 

Civic Center—which lies directly across from City Hall—might better be renamed COVID-19 Center. Once it housed farmers markets and offered easy access to the Civic Center BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) station. 

Today it is fenced off and serves as shelter for countless “homeless” tents—and all the drugs, trash, alcohol, feces and hypodermic needles that come with this population.

Controversial San Francisco homelessness tax passes

Tent “city” in San Francisco

Of course, Civic Center isn’t the only place in San Francisco where you’ll find huge tents occupied by DDMB’s—Druggies, Drunks, Mentally Ill and Bums. 

Walk down almost any major sidewalk and odds are you’ll find your path blocked by one or more huge tents able to house two to four people. 

If you’re in a wheelchair or elderly or on crutches, you’ll likely be forced to step into the street or cross the street to continue your journey. 

If you call the police on your cell phone, expecting them to remove the tents, you’re in for a big surprise. In bum-loving San Francisco, that sort of action is no longer handled by police. 

Instead, they’ll refer you to a “help-the-homeless” agency that specializes in defending the rights of DDMBs over those of law-abiding, tax-paying San Francisco residents.

The “homeless problem” has become so outrageous in San Francisco that Hastings College of the Law—one of the foremost law schools in the nation—recently filed a lawsuit against the city “to end dangerous and illegal conditions in the Tenderloin neighborhood.” 

Among its goals: To compel the City

  • To clear sidewalks to allow unfettered safe passage for neighborhood residents and workers; and
  • To provide healthy and safe solutions for “homeless” people who now use sidewalk encampments as their residence.

And when it comes to public transit: Forget about using the underground stations of the Municipal Railway (MUNI) bus system. Those have been closed since March—allegedly to protect riders and drivers from COVID-19. 

Inbound T Third train at Church station, September 2017.JPG

MUNI underground station

Pi.1415926535 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0

MUNI, which serves only San Francisco, has 4,800 employees and an annual budget of $1.28 billion.

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system serves 33 cities and has an annual budget of $2.3 billion. 

Yet BART, which uses many of the same stations is still providing railway service throughout northern California.

MUNI refuses to say why BART has managed to provide service for its passengers—while MUNI has made transit far more complex and time-consuming for its own.

TRUMP: INSIDE THE MIND OF A TYRANT–PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on June 1, 2020 at 12:10 am

From October 10 to 12, 2019, attendees of the American Priority Conference at the Trump National Doral Miami resort got a treat that was supposed to be kept secret.

They got to watch a series of Right-wing videos featuring graphic acts of violence against those President Donald Trump hates. One of these, “The Trumpsman,” featured a digitized Trump shooting, stabbing and setting fire to such liberals as:

  • Former President Bill Clinton
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Former Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton
  • Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi
  • Former President Barack Obama
  • Vermont United States Senator Bernie Sanders

Even Republicans who have dared to disagree with Trump—such as Utah Senator Mitt Romney and the late Arizona Senator John McCain—met a brutal end.

Legitimate news media—such as CBS, BBC, ABC, CNN, The New York Times and The  Washington Post—were also depicted as among Trump’s victims. 

The New York Times broke the news of the video’s showing. Since then, the American Priority Conference has rushed to disavow it—and the firestorm of outrage it set off.

So has the Trump White House.

And America’s major news media have demanded that Trump strongly condemn the video.

If Donald Trump had a history of truthfulness and humanity, his denouncing the video would prove highly believable. But he has neither.

He is a serial liar—The  Washington Post noted on August 12, 2019 that, since taking office on January 20, 2017, Trump had made more than 12,000 false or misleading claims.

As for his reputation as a humanitarian:

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

From June 15, 2015, when he launched his Presidential campaign, until October 24, 2016, Trump fired almost 4,000 angry, insulting tweets at 281 people and institutions that had somehow offended him.

And he has continued to do so. Since taking office on January 20, 2017, Trump had insulted hundreds of people (including private citizens), places, and institutions on Twitter, ranging from politicians to journalists and news outlets to entire countries.

Donald Trump

Summing up Trump’s legacy of hatred, longtime Republican Presidential adviser David Gergen said: 

“Trump unleashed the dogs of hatred in this country from the day he declared he was running for president, and they’ve been snarling and barking at each other ever since. It’s just inevitable there are going to be acts of violence that grow out of that.” 

So any Trump statement claiming that he strongly condemns the video should rightly be discounted as mere propaganda.

The video was first uploaded on YouTube in 2018 by a account named TheGeekzTeam. The GeekzTeam is a frequent contributor to MemeWorld, a pro-Trump website. Its creator was prominent Twitter user Carpe Donktum. 

MemeWorld, embarrassed that its Right-wing porn has become a national scandal, now claims: 

“The Kingsman video is CLEARLY satirical and the violence depicted is metaphoric. No reasonable person would believe that this video was a call to action or an endorsement of violence towards the media. The only person that could potentially be ‘incited’ by this video is Donald Trump himself, as the main character of the video is him. THERE IS NO CALL TO ACTION.” 

Of course, that was not how the Right reacted in 2017 when comedian Kathy Griffin posed for a photograph holding up what was meant to look like Trump’s bloody, severed head.

A furious Right-wing backlash cost her gigs as a comedian and made her the target of a Secret Service investigation into whether she was a credible threat. She even had to buy metal detectors to post at her appearances at comedy clubs: “There were all kinds of incidents. A guy came at me with a knife in Houston.” 

Cindy McCain, widow of Senator John McCain, wasn’t buying the Right’s disavowals, tweeting: “Reports describing a violent video played at a Trump Campaign event in which images of reporters & @John McCain are being slain by Pres Trump violate every norm our society expects from its leaders & the institutions that bare their names. I stand w/ @whca in registering my outrage”.

Nor was Democratic Presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke: “This video isn’t funny. It will get people killed.”   

* * * * *

The video was produced by Rightists who believed it reflected what Donald Trump would do to his enemies if only he could get away with it. And given his near-constant calls for violence against his critics, they were absolutely correct. 

But the video’s critics are wrong to call for its suppression.

On the contrary—it should be seen for what it is: The Mein Kampf of Donald Trump and his fanatical followers, in and outside the Republican party.

Mein Kampf(german Language Edition) (German Edition)

Like Adolf Hitler’s autobiography, it depicts the future America can expect if the Right gains the power to live out its murderous fantasies. 

And the fantasy Right-wingers prize most: The brutal extermination of everyone who refuses to submit to their Fascistic tyranny. 

The hour is late and the clock is ticking as the Right conspires to give Trump this power as “President-for-Life.”

It now remains to be seen if enough Americans are willing to stand fast against the brutal intentions of these specialists in evil.

TRUMP: INSIDE THE MIND OF A TYRANT–PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on May 29, 2020 at 12:04 am

And the most glorious episodes 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.”
Plutarch, Alexander the Great

It’s in “The Church of Fake News” that President Donald Trump finally revenges himself upon his many enemies.

He walks down an aisle, reaches into his suit jacket pocket, pulls out a .45 automatic—which seems to have an endless magazine—and opens fire on: 

  • Democratic Representative Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee
  • Former President Bill Clinton
  • Democratic Representative Maxine Waters
  • Utah United States Senator Mitt Romney
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden
  • Liberal activist George Soros
  • Former Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton
  • Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and
  • Former President Barack Obama. 

Nor does he spare his longtime “enemies” in the legitimate news media, such as:

  • CNN
  • The Washington Post 
  • BBC
  • ABC
  • MSNBC Anchor Rachel Maddow
  • The New York Times
  • PBS
  • NBC
  • and Politico

Trump has, after all, slandered journalists as “the enemy of the American people.” And he has called news stories documenting his crimes and follies “fake news.”

Nor in the video is he limited to using a firearm.

  • He lights the head of Vermont United States Senator Bernie Sanders on fire.
  • He stabs to death the late Arizona Senator John McCain.
  • He stabs TV personality Rosie O’Connell in the face. 

The clip ends with Trump driving a stake into the head of someone whose face bears the CNN logo. Then he stands and smiles as he looks around. 

This video carnage was made possible by TheGeekzTeam, which digitally placed Trump’s head over the main character (played by Colin Firth) in the 2015 spy thriller The Kingsman: The Secret Service as he shoots his way through a crowd of possessed churchgoers.

“The Trumpsman” was shown along with other videos at the Trump National Doral Miami resort as part of the American Priority Conference, held from October 10-12, 2019. 

It’s part of a growing genre of pro-Trump memes that routinely earn thousands of views on sites like YouTube and Twitter. Many superimpose the faces of Trump and his chief supporters slaughtering Democrats, liberal celebrities and/or members of the media.

Once The New York Times broke the story, the event’s organizer, Alex Phillips, sought to avoid responsibility for the showing. He hurriedly claimed that the “unauthorized video” was shown “in a side room.” 

“Content was submitted by third parties and was not associated with or endorsed by the conference in any official capacity,” Phillips told the Times.

“American Priority rejects all political violence and aims to promote a healthy dialogue about the preservation of free speech. This matter is under review.”

The organization issued a statement calling it “shocking” that the Times didn’t cover any of the sanctioned events at the conference.

In other words, public relations events that were meant to be seen by the press, as opposed to events that were not meant to be seen.

Yet this was only one of several Right-wing videos screened at the event. C.J. Ciaramella, a journalist for Reason magazine, filmed a room where these were being screened. 

Among the speakers at the conference:

  • Republican Representative Matt Gaetz
  • Donald Trump, Jr.
  • Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski
  • Professional Right-wing dirty-trickster Roger Stone
  • Former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders
  • NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch

Reaction from the legitimate news media was immediate.

CNN: “The president and his family, the White House, and the Trump campaign need to denounce it immediately in the strongest possible terms. Anything less equates to a tacit endorsement of violence and should not be tolerated by anyone.” 

White House Correspondents Association: “All Americans should condemn this depiction of violence directed toward journalists and the President’s political opponents. We have previously told the President his rhetoric could incite violence. Now we call on him and everybody associated with this conference to denounce this video and affirm that violence has no place in our society.””

CBS News: “This video, and the rhetoric increasingly used against the media, puts journalists in danger, prevents open and honest debate about the issues, and undermines democracy.”

If Donald Trump had a history of truthfulness and humanity, his denouncing the video would prove highly believable.

But Trump has neither.  

An August 12, 2019 Washington Post story noted that, since taking office on January 20, 2017, Trump had made more than 12,000 false or misleading claims.

Among his lies: Accusing former President Barack Obama of illegally wiretapping him—without offering a shred of evidence to back up that accusation.

Even worse: On July 25, 2019, Trump tried to coerce the president of Ukraine to manufacture “evidence” to discredit former Vice President Joe Biden, his Democratic rival for the Presidency in 2020. And shortly after that revelation became public, he publicly invited China to “investigate the Bidens”—Biden and his son, Hunter, for the same reason.

So much for his trustworthiness. 

We’ll examine his reputation as a humanitarian in Part Two.

“TWITTER RULES” MEAN NOTHING TO TRUMP–OR TWITTER: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on May 28, 2020 at 12:05 am

On December 12, 2017, President Donald Trump used Twitter to attack New York United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Gillibrand was among six Democratic Senators who called for Trump’s resignation after sexual harassment allegations forced three Republican and Democratic members of Congress to resign.

Trump tweeted: “Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!”

Related image

Kirsten Gillibrand

“I see it as a sexist smear. I mean that’s what it is,” Gillibrand replied in a press conference. “It’s part of the President’s efforts of name calling and it’s not going to silence me, it’s not going to silence me. It’s intended to silence me.”

So how does this behavior apply to “The Twitter Rules”? 

Abuse/harassment: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm.

On February 17, 2017, Trump tweeted: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

On July 2, 2017, Trump tweeted a video showing him punching a man with the CNN logo superimposed on his head during a WWE wrestling match.

And on August 15, 2017, the President retweeted a cartoon photo of a “Trump Train” running over a CNN reporter.

President retweeted image of Trump train running over CNN reporter ...

Yet Twitter’s Terms of Service state: 

Violence: You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence. 

In May, 2020, Trump tweeted six times about a decades-old conspiracy theory about MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough. Scarborough has been highly critical of Trump’s actions as President—such as his pushing “scam solutions” to Coronavirus instead of relying on scientific experts.

Trump’s smears about Scarborough center on the 2001 death of Lori Klausutis, who worked in his Florida office when he served in Congress. Scarborough’s opponents and a bevy of internet trolls have tried to blame him for her death, even though he was in Washington at the time.  

Trump tweeted that Comcast—which owns MSNBC—“should open up a long overdue Florida Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough.” Since then, he has essentially accused Scarborough of murder. 

On May 21, Timothy Klausutis, Lori’s widowed husband, wrote Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, asking him to delete Trump’s tweets, 

Image result for Images of Jack Dorsey

Jack Dorsey

“Nearly 19 years ago, my wife, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, fell and hit her head on her desk at work. She was found dead the next morning,” wrote Klausutis. “Her passing is the single most painful thing that I have ever had to deal with in my 52 years and continues to haunt her parents and sister. 

“The President’s tweet that suggests that Lori was murdered—without evidence (and contrary to the official autopsy)—is a violation of Twitter’s community rules and terms of service.”

Twitter has refused to delete the tweets.

CNN Business asked Twitter if Trump’s “cold case” tweets violated its rules and if any action would be taken. Twitter refused to comment.

So how do Twitter’s top executives justify allowing these repeated violations of “Twitter Rules”?

On September 25, 2018, the company tweeted:

“We hold all accounts to the same Rules, and consider a number of factors when assessing whether Tweets violate our Rules.

“Among the considerations is ‘newsworthiness’ and whether a Tweet is of public interest. This has long been internal policy and we’ll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it. We need to do better on this, and will.”

Twitter has never acknowledged publicly that Trump has violated any of its guidelines. It rarely even acknowledges Trump’s tweets. 

So what gives? 

Money. 

Trump’s apologists have fiercely defended his tweetstorms, claiming they allow him to bypass the media and “communicate directly with the American people.” 

One of those apologists is Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who said: “I believe it’s really important to have these conversations out in the open, rather than have them behind closed doors.”

In April, 2017, Twitter announced that it had added 9,000,000 new users, its largest quarterly jump in two years. 

“We believe Twitter is the best at showing you what’s happening in the world and what’s being talked about,” said Anthony Noto, Twitter’s chief financial officer. 

“Having political leaders of the world as well as news agencies participating and driving that is an important element to reinforcing what we’re the best at.”

In short: Trump is good at attracting more Twitter users. and if the company needs to overlook his blatant and repeated violations of its “Twitter Rules,” so be it.  

Twitter has been so plagued by trolling that potential investors like the Walt Disney Company refused to taint their own reputations by partnering with it. 

But high-ranking Twitter executives refuse to end their Faustian pact with the biggest Twitter troll of all. 

And, as all devotees of the Faust legend know, there comes a time when the Devil wins the bargain.  

“TWITTER RULES” MEAN NOTHING TO TRUMP–OR TWITTER: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on May 27, 2020 at 12:30 am

According to “The Twitter Rules,” posted on the Twitter website:

“Twitter’s purpose is to serve the public conversation. Violence, harassment and other similar types of behavior discourage people from expressing themselves, and ultimately diminish the value of global public conversation. Our rules are to ensure all people can participate in the public conversation freely and safely.”

Among these:

  • Violence: You may not threaten violence against an individual or a group of people. We also prohibit the glorification of violence. 
  • Terrorism/violent extremism: You may not threaten or promote terrorism or violent extremism. 
  • Abuse/harassment: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so. This includes wishing or hoping that someone experiences physical harm. 
  • Hateful conduct: You may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease. 

That’s the official version of what Twitter users can expect from those charged with policing Twitter.

So why hasn’t Twitter policed—and purged—the single greatest abuser of its “Twitter Rules”: Donald Trump?

Consider:

Donald Trump’s tweet-first-and-never-mind-the-consequences approach to life has been thoroughly documented.

From June 15, 2015, when he launched his Presidential campaign, until October 24, 2016, he fired nearly 4,000 angry, insulting tweets at 281 people and institutions. The New York Times needed two full pages of its print edition to showcase them.

Donald Trump

Among these targets were:

  • His Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton
  • His fellow Republican Presidential candidates
  • Actress Meryl Streep
  • News organizations
  • President Barack Obama
  • Comedian John Oliver
  • Obamacare
  • Singer Neil Young
  • The state of New Jersey
  • Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

His Twitter assaults have often dominated entire news cycles for days on end.

As President-elect, he continued these assaults—such as the one on November 18, 2016.

On that evening, Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended a Broadway performance of the hit musical “Hamilton.”

After the curtain call, the actor Brandon Victor Dixon—who played Aaron Burr—respectfully addressed Pence:

“We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our friends, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

Dixon—who is black—was rightly alarmed.

Trump had received the open and enthusiastic support of the Ku Klux Klan, American Nazi Party and other white supremacist groups. Since his election, white thugs had assaulted blacks and other non-whites across the country.

Trump’s reaction to Dixon’s plea came in two Twitter rants:

“Our wonderful future V.P. Mike Pence was harassed last night at the theater by the cast of Hamilton, cameras blazing. This should not happen!”

And: “The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”

And during his first two weeks as President, Trump attacked 22 people, places and things on his @realDonaldTrump account.

Then, on March 4, 2017, in a series of unhinged tweets, Trump accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his Trump Tower phones prior to the election.

President Barack Obama

“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

“Is it legal for a sitting President to be ‘wire tapping’ a race for president prior to an election? Turned down by court earlier. A NEW LOW!”

“I’d bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October, just prior to Election!”

“How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!”

Thus, without offering a shred of evidence to back it up, Trump accused his predecessor—on Twitter—of committing an impeachable offense.

On May 9, 2017, Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey.

Reports soon surfaced that his reason for doing so was that Comey had refused to pledge his personal loyalty to Trump.    James Comey official portrait.jpg

James B. Comey

Just 72 hours after firing Comey, Trump issued a threat to him via Twitter: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

And Twitter’s reaction to such a blatant threat?  Silence.

From the start of his Presidency, Trump has put his ambitions, excuses and rants on social media. And this has unnerved foreign leaders as well as Trump’s fellow Americans.As CNN Political Analyst Julian Zelizer outlined in a July 3, 2018 article: 

“…The President’s ongoing Twitter storms make all leaders uneasy. The heads of government in most nations prefer a certain amount of predictability and decorum from other heads of state.

“To have one of the most powerful people in the room being someone who is willing to send out explosive and controversial statements through social media, including nasty personal attacks or an edited video of him physically assaulting the media, does not make others….feel very confident about how he will handle deliberations with them.”

THE CONSTITUTION HAS A SURPRISE FOR TRUMP

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on May 26, 2020 at 12:06 am

The United States Constitution has a surprise for President Donald Trump—provided that Congress has the courage to enforce it. 

The surprise comes in Article II, Section III.

Article II lays out the powers and responsibilities of the President of the United States. Section III states that, among these, is: “He shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed….”

Constitution of the United States, page 1.jpg

Opening page of the United States Constitution

That requirement certainly doesn’t square with the following behavior.  

On April 15, Right-wing demonstrators launched “Operation Gridlock”, a protest against strict stay-at-home orders by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer to curb the spread of Coronavirus. A host of demonstrators—many of them armed with high-powered weaponry—descended on the state capitol building in Lansing. 

A group stood on the capitol steps brandishing signs that stated “Trump/Pence”, “Recall Whitmer”, “Heil Whitmer” and “Stop the Tyranny”, and chanted “Lock her up!”

On April 17, with governors across the nation implementing “stay-at-home” orders to curtail the spread of Coronavirus, Trump tweeted:

“LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”

“LIBERATE MICHIGAN!”

“LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” 

It’s no coincidence that all of these states have Democratic governors. And his incendiary remarks followed Right-wing demonstrations against stay-at-home orders in Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia and other states.

Some protesters carried guns, wore Trump MAGA caps and brandished Confederate flags. They claimed to be defending constitutional freedoms. Egging them on have been Right-wing pundits on Fox News.

“These are people expressing their views,” Trump said at his April 17 White House Coronavirus task force briefing. “I see where they are and I see the way they’re working. They seem to be very responsible people to me, but they’ve been treated a little bit rough.”

He dismissed fears that, by crowding together, the protesters could become infected and spread COVID-19 to others.

“I think some things are too tough,” said Trump. “And if you look at some of the states you just mentioned, it’s too tough, not only in reference to this but what they’ve done in Virginia with respect to the Second Amendment is just a horrible thing … When you see what other states have done, I think I feel very comfortable.”

Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington, responded on Twitter: “The president’s statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting Covid-19. His unhinged rantings and calls for people to ‘liberate’ states could also lead to violence. We’ve seen it before.”

And Beto O’Rourke, a former Texas congressman, said: “Republicans will turn a blind eye [and] too many in the press will focus on ‘tone’. But history books will say: in April of 2020, when the pandemic had already claimed 35,000 lives, the President of the United States incited people to storm their statehouses with AR-15s and AK-47s.”

On May 1, demonstrators—many of them heavily armed—again descended on the state capital in Lansing, protesting Whitmer’s extension of her emergency declaration that kept some businesses closed amidst the plague. And, once again, Trump sided with the protesters.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg

Gretchen Whitmer

“The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire,” Trump tweeted. “These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”

Trump has two hidden agendas for ending “stay-at-home” orders.

First, from the moment he took office on January 20, 2017, he has claimed credit for a booming economy—even though this was largely the work of his predecessor, Barack Obama.

Now, with thousands of businesses shut down because of Coronavirus, that economy is essentially dead.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

Trump knows that Presidents who preside over faltering economies usually don’t win a second term. And Trump not only lusts to win a second term but—as he has repeatedly “joked”—become “President-for-Life.”

Second, Trump is desperate to return to his Nuremberg-style rallies. There he can hurl insults at virtually everyone and bask in the fanatical worship of his followers. These rallies act as fuel to his campaign.

His “White House Coronavirus briefings” have served as a watered-down substitute for those rallies. He must pretend they aren’t purely political. Worse, he must share the podium with others who know far more about the plague than he does.

So now he’ll go to any lengths to “reopen” the country–including the solicitation of violent resistance to the laws of governors he doesn’t like.

Earlier this year, Trump escaped removal from office because Senate Republicans refused to hold him accountable for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

But as Coronavirus continues to kill Americans in record numbers—almost 100,000 by May 26—even Republican members of Congress may decide to hold Trump accountable. Especially as the virus moves from Democratic states like New York and Illinois to Republican ones like Florida and South Carolina.

Encouraging violent resistance to the legally established laws of the United States is a crime. If enough Republicans decide to uphold the law rather than ignore it, the Trump Era will become in history what it has in politics: A dirty stain on the American memory.

EMPATHY IS A GIFT–THAT TRUMP LACKS UTTERLY

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on May 25, 2020 at 2:31 am

Donald Trump began his administration with a “Me, first!” attitude. And he has held to it ever since.

On January 21, 2017—the day after he was inaugurated as President—Donald Trump visited the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Officially, he was there to pay tribute to the men and women who serve on the front lines of America’s Intelligence community.

The men and women who dedicate their lives to finding out when and where America’s enemies are planning to strike. And to countering those threats.

And now Trump was appearing before what, to CIA employees, was the agency’s most sacred site: The star-studded memorial wall honoring the 117 CIA officers who had fallen in the line of duty.

Image result for Images of CIA's Memorial Wall

Donald Trump at the CIA

So what did Trump spend much of his time talking about?

Himself, of course.

Here are the major excerpts:

“….You know, when I was young and when I was — of course, I feel young. I feel like I’m 30, 35, 39. Somebody said, are you young? I said, I think I’m young. You know, I was stopping — when we were in the final month of that campaign, four stops, five stops, seven stops. Speeches, speeches, in front of 25,000, 30,000 people, 15,000, 19,000 from stop to stop. I feel young….”

“And I was explaining about the numbers. We did a thing yesterday at the speech. Did everybody like the speech?  I’ve been given good reviews.”

“So a reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover, like, 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time Magazine. I’ve been on it for 15 times this year. I don’t think that’s a record….that can ever be broken.  Do you agree with that? What do you think?”

Fast forward more than three years later—to an America largely self-locked indoors. The reason: To avoid a deadly plague known as COVID-19, otherwise known as Coronavirus. An America where 1.68 million men, women and children have been diagnosed with the disease. And where 98,035 citizens have so far died.

And, true to form, Trump has shown no sympathy for those who have suffered. Instead, he has turned the tragedy into a celebration of his own ego.

Image may contain: Michael Whitehead, text that says 'I CAN'T BELIEVE ALL THESE PEOPLE DIED JUST TO MAKE ME LOOK BAD'

February 28: “One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia’….They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax….It’s all turning, they lost….And this is their new hoax.”

March 6: “I like this stuff. I really get it. People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should have done that instead of running for President.” 

March 12:I mean, think of it: The United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point. Other countries that are smaller countries have many, many deaths.”

March 27: “Nobody has done anything like we’ve been able to do And everything I took over was a mess. It was a broken country in so many ways. In so many ways.”

March 29: “President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of ‘The Bachelor.’ Numbers are continuing to rise…”

April 26: “I work from early in the morning until late at night, haven’t left the White House in many months (except to launch Hospital Ship Comfort) in order to take care of Trade Deals, Military Rebuilding etc., and then I read a phony story in the failing @nytimes about my work….”

On April 26, The New York Times ran a story entitled: “Self-praise, hubris and self-pity: Examining 260,000 words about the Coronavirus from President Trump.” Summing up the image that Trump has tried to present of himself to the world, the Times concluded: 

“The self-regard, the credit-taking, the audacious rewriting of recent history to cast himself as the hero of the pandemic rather than the president who was slow to respond: Such have been the defining features of Trump’s use of the bully pulpit during the coronavirus outbreak….

“By far the most recurring utterances from Trump in the [White House] briefings are self-congratulations, roughly 600 of them, which are often predicated on exaggerations and falsehoods….

“Trump’s attempts to display empathy or appeal to national unity (about 160 instances) amount to only a quarter of the number of times he complimented himself or a top member of his team.”

In 1946, Albert Speer, Adolf Hitler’s architect and minister of armaments, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for war crimes.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

In Albert Speer: His Batle With Truth, Gitty Sereny wrote: “This was an erudite and solitary man who, recognizing his deficiencies in human relations, had read 5,000 books in prison to try to understand the universe and human beings….Empathy is finally a gift, and cannot be learned. So, essentially returning into the world after 20 years, he remained alone.”

What Sereny says of Speer applies—in spades—to Donald Trump: Empathy is finally a gift, and cannot be learned.

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