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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.

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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.  

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. 

TRUMP AND TREASON

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 28, 2022 at 12:14 am

Less than three years before committing his ultimate act of treason, President Donald Trump determined that Democrats were guilty of it.

Their crime? Refusing to stand and applaud him during his State of the Union message in January, 2018.

On February 5, he told a crowd in Cincinnati: “They were like death and un-American. Un-American. Somebody said, ‘treasonous.’ I mean, Yeah, I guess why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly didn’t seem to love our country that much.”

For Trump, to love the United States, you must first prove that you love him.

Article Three of the United States Constitution defines treason as:

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.”

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United States Constitution

In short: Actions such as colluding with a foreign power hostile to the United States (such as Russia) to subvert America’s democratic election process. 

By that standard, Donald Trump stands rightly accused of a crime that traditionally carries the penalty of death.

Example #1: The infamous June, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower starring Donald Trump’s son, Donald, Jr.; Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Trump’s then-campaign manager, Paul Manafort—and two Russian lobbyists who wanted the United States to end its sanctions against Russia for human rights abuses.

The meeting’s purpose: To obtain from Russian Intelligence agents “dirt” on Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton. 

Example #2: On July 27, 2016, Trump said  at a press conference in Doral, Florida: “Russia, if you are listening, I hope you are able to find [Hillary Clinton’s] 33,000 emails that are missing—I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”  

Hours later, the Main Intelligence Directorate in Moscow targeted Hillary Clinton’s personal office and hit more than 70 other Clinton campaign accounts,

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Donald Trump

Example #3: On December 16, 2016, then-FBI Director James B. Comey and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. agreed with a CIA assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election in part to help Donald Trump win the White House.  

Trump, however has steadfastly denied any such role by Russia. 

On July 16, 2018, he attended a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, with Russian President Vladimir Putin. There he blamed American Intelligence agencies—such as the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency—instead of Putin for Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential election: “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

Example #4: On May 9, 2017, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey for investigating Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential race. His motive: To end that investigation before it reached him.

The next day, meeting with Russian Foreign Minister  Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office, Trump said: “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” 

On May 11, during an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, Trump admitted: “And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said: ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”

Example #5: During that same meeting, Trump gave the Russian officials highly classified Israeli Intelligence about an Islamic State plot to turn laptops into concealable bombs.

At first, the White House denied Trump had done so. Then Trump admitted in a tweet: “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining … to terrorism and airline flight safety.

Example #6: Trump surrounded himself with men who had close ties to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Among these:

  • Paul Manafort – His former campaign manager. His longstanding ties to pro-Russian politicians in Ukraine lead directly to Putin.
  • Roger Stone – Self-confessed dirty trickster and former business partner of Manafort. Stone had extensive contacts with hacker Guccifer 2.0, whom the CIA, NSA and FBI believe was actually a front for GRU, Russian military intelligence.
  • Michael T. Flynn – Former United States Army lieutenant general and director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. A leading Trump supporter during the 2016 Presidential campaign, he was rewarded with the post of National Security Adviser when Trump took office.

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Michael T. Flynn

  • On February 13, 2017, The Washington Post reported that Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned Trump in late January that Flynn had lied about his contacts with Kislyak—and that he could be blackmailed by Russian Intelligence. Flynn was forced to resign that same day.  
  • In December, 2015, he had appeared on Russia Today, the news network that serves as “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.” For this he received more than $45,000 as a “speaking fee.”
  • At the gala where Flynn received the fee, he sat next to Putin for dinner.

The Republican party—which for 50 years claimed to be America’s defender against Communism—has now fervently embraced a man with demonstrated ties to a Communist dictator.

NAZI DEJA-VU IMERICAN STYLE: PART THREE (END)

In History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 25, 2022 at 12:15 am

On July 20, 1944, members of the Wehrmacht high command failed to assassinate Adolf Hitler with a bomb hidden in a briefcase. 

Mass arrests quickly followed. 

Among the first victims discovered and executed was the conspiracy’s leader, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. Standing before a makeshift firing squad at midnight, he cried: “Long live our sacred Germany!”

Adolf Hitler

At least 7,000 persons were arrested by the Gestapo. According to records of the Fuehrer Conferences on Naval Affairs, 4,980 were executed.      

Had the conspiracy succeeded, history would have turned out differently:

  • If Germany had surrendered in July or August, 1944, World War II would have ended eight to nine months earlier.
  • The Russians—who didn’t reach Germany until April, 1945—could not have occupied the Eastern part of the country.
  • This would have prevented many of the future conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union over access to West Berlin and/or West Germany.
  • Untold numbers of Holocaust victims would have survived because the extermination camps would have been shut down.

Thus, history can be altered by the appearance—or disappearance—of a single individual.

Which brings us back to Donald Trump. 

Donald Trump

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

  • Trump’ could have been non-violently removed via the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This allows the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to recommend the removal of the President when he is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” The Vice President then becomes President.
  • No Cabinet members dared to invoke this.
  • When Trump praised North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-On or attacked Vietnam POW John McCain, House and Senate Republicans stayed silent. When he falsely charged massive voter fraud, they stayed silent or loudly parroted his lies.
  • On February 5, 2020, the Republican-dominated Senate—ignoring the overwhelming evidence against him—acquitted Trump on both impeachment articles: Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.
  • Pentagon generals stood mute as Trump repeatedly sided with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency—and even gave classified CIA Intelligence to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
  • High-ranking field marshals in Hitler’s Wehrmacht held their tongues when he insulted them. So did American generals when Trump belittled their intelligence and even patriotism. 
  • The CIA overthrew Iranian prime minister Mohammad Mosaddegh, in 1953 and Guatemalan president Jacobo Árbenz in 1954. It repeatedly tried—unsuccessfully—to assassinate and/or overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. But it made no effort to halt the ongoing treachery of Donald Trump. 
  • When Trump arbitrarily decided to remove American forces from Syria and Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigned in protest in 2018. But then he was simply replaced by Mark Esper.
  • Despite the fact that many of these men regularly came into contact with Trump, not one of them apparently plotted his removal. 
  • Similarly, Trump repeatedly attacked the integrity of the men and women of the FBI—even firing its director, James Comey, for daring to investigate Russia’s subversion of the 2016 election. If its armed agents—steeped in Federal criminal law—built a case for Trump’s indictment and prosecution, it has never come to light.
  • Neither did any of his armed Secret Service agents register the slightest protest, despite his arrogant behavior toward them. He forced them to work without pay during his 35-day government shutdown in 2018. They also had to accompany him to COVID-infected states—both during the Presidential campaign and afterward. Many of them became stricken with this often fatal disease as a result.

On November 3, 2020, 81,255,933 Democratic voters elected former Vice President Joseph Biden the 46th President of the United States. Trump, running for a second term, got 74,196,153 votes.

Yet almost two months after the election, Trump refused to concede, insisting that he won—and repeatedly claiming falsely that he was the victim of massive vote fraud.

This toxic lie has been feverishly embraced by millions of Right-wingers, robbing the Biden administration of its deserved legitimacy.

This refusal to acknowledge the outcome initially denied Biden access to the money, information-sharing and machinery traditionally accorded the President-elect. Trump himself was the beneficiary of such assistance in 2016, after his win over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Only on November 23 was Biden acknowledged as the winner by the General Services Administration, as the Trump administration finally began the formal transition process.

Trump’s refusal to accept reality posed an unprecedented danger to democracy: No presidential candidate had ever refused to concede defeat once all the votes were counted and legal challenges resolved.

By refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, Trump took on the classic mantle of of a dictator.  

Historians have uncovered at least 42 assassination plots against Adolf Hitler. That resistance movement has earned honor for its members, many of whom died heroically for standing firm against a brutal tyrant.

To its eternal shame, the same cannot be said of America during the reign of Donald Trump.

NAZI DEJA-VU AMERICAN STYLE: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 24, 2022 at 12:10 am

On July 20, 1944, Colonel Claus Schenk von Stuaffenberg tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

He had served with the Wehrmacht in Poland (1939), France (1940) and the Soviet Union (1941).

While serving in Tunisa, he was seriously wounded on April 7, 1943, when Allied fighters strafed his vehicle. He lost his left eye, right hand and two fingers of his left hand after surgery.  

Colonel Claus Schenk von Stuaffenberg

Nevertheless, he now acted as the prime mover for the conspiracy among a growing number of German high command officers to arrest or assassinate Germany’s Fuehrer.

For most of these officers, the motive was craven: The “happy time’ of German victories was over. Germany was losing the war it had launched on the world in 1939–and now they feared the worst. 

This was especially true now that the numerically superior forces of the Soviet Union had gone onto the offensive.

For Stauffenberg, there was another reason: His disgust at the horrors he had seen committed by his fellow Wehrmacht soldiers upon defenseless POW’s and civilians in Russia.

Thus, Stauffenberg—more than many Germans—knew firsthand the vengeance his country could expect if the “Thousand-Year Reich” fell.

Something must be done, he believed, to prove to the world that not all Germans—even members of the Wehrmacht—were criminals.

Most of the conspirators wanted to arrest Hitler and surrender to British and American forces—well before the much-feared Russians gained a toehold in Germany.

Stauffenberg didn’t want to arrest Hitler; he wanted to kill him. A live Hitler might eventually be rescued by his Nazi colleagues.

But Hitler was a closely-guarded target. He was surrounded by fanatical bodyguards who were expert marksmen. He often wore a bulletproof vest and a cap lined with three pounds of laminated steel. 

Adolf Hitler

Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1990-048-29A / CC-BY-SA 3.0 [CC BY-SA 3.0 de (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en)%5D

But his single greatest protection–he claimed—was an instinct for danger. He would suddenly change his schedule—to drop in where he was least expected. Or suddenly depart an event where he was expected to stay a long time.

On November 9, 1939, this instinct saved his life. He was expected to give a long speech at a Munich beer hall before the “old Fighters” of his brown-shirted storm troopers. 

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

Since then, a series of other assassination attempts had been made against Hitler. All of them involved time-bombs. And all of the would-be assassins were members of the German General Staff.

In one case, a bomb secretly stashed aboard Hitler’s plane failed to explode. In another, an officer who had a bomb strapped to himself unexpectedly found his scheduled meeting with Hitler called off. He had to rush into a bathroom to defuse the bomb before it went off.

So now it was the turn of von Stauffenberg. He would carry his bomb—hidden in a briefcase—into a “Hitler conference” packed with military officers.

But Stauffenberg didn’t intend to be a suicide bomber. He meant to direct the government that would replace that of the Nazis.

His bomb—also rigged with a time-fuse—would be left in the conference room while he found an excuse to leave. After the explosion, he would phone one of his fellow conspirators with the news.

Then, the coup—“Operation Valkyrie”—would be on.

Anti-Nazi conspirators would seize control of key posts of the government. The British and Americans would then be informed of Germany’s willingness to surrender. Provided, of course, that the vengeance-seeking Russians did not have a say in its postwar future.

The Wehrmacht and Schutzstaffel (SS) had killed millions of Russians. Many had died in combat. Others had been murdered as captives. Still more had been allowed to die by starvation and exposure to the notorious Russian winter.

So the Germans—both Nazi and anti-Nazi—knew what they could expect if soldiers of the Soviet Union reached German soil.

On July 20, 1944, Stauffenberg appeared at Hitler’s well-guarded military headquarters in East Prussia.  Like all his other outposts, Hitler had named it—appropriately enough—“Wolf’s Lair.” 

“Wolf’s Lair”

Stauffenberg entered the large, concrete building while the conference was in session. He placed his yellow briefcase next to Hitler—who was standing with his generals at a heavy oaken table. Then he excused himself to take an “urgent” phone call.

After Stauffenberg left the room, Colonel Heinz Brandt, standing next to Hitler, found the briefcase blocking his legs. So he moved it—to the other side of the heavy oaken support, partially shielding Hitler from the blast.. 

At 12:42 p.m. on July 20, 1944, Stauffenberg’s briefcase bomb erupted. 

Brandt died, as did two other officers and a stenographer.  

Hitler not only survived, but the plotters failed to seize the key broadcast facilities of the Reich.  

This allowed Hitler to make a late-night speech to the nation, revealing the failed plot and assuring Germans that he was alive. And he swore to flush out the “traitorous swine” who had tried to kill him.

He soon proved as bad as his word.

NAZI DEJA-VU AMERICAN STYLE: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 23, 2022 at 12:10 am

In the Twilight Zone episode, “No Time Like the Past,” Paul Driscoll (Dana Andrews), a scientist in early 1960s America, uses a time machine to visit Nazi Germany on the eve of World War II. 

He’s rented a motel room overlooking the balcony from where the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler will soon make a speech. And he’s eager to watch that speech—through the lens of a telescopic-sighted rifle.  

Just as he’s about to pull the trigger, there’s a knock at his door–by the maid. Driscoll hustles her out as soon as possible, then once again picks up his rifle. He—and viewers—can once again see Hitler through the cross-hairs of his weapon.  

Paul Driscoll prepares to shoot Adolf Hitler

But instead of the anticipated shot, there’s another knock at his door—his time by the black-uniformed secret police, the SS. Driscoll knows the game is up, and disappears into the present just as the thugs break down his door.  

And the audience is left to ponder how different the world would have been if Driscoll—or someone in Nazi Germany—had succeeded in assassinating the man whose wars would wipe out the lives of 50 million men, women and children around the globe.  

One 2016 Republican candidate for President dared to invoke the menace of Nazi Germany in warning of the dangers of a Donald Trump Presidency. And to argue that Americans could prevent that past from returning.  

In November, 2015, John Kasich, the governor of Ohio, was peddling a message of creating jobs, balancing the Federal budget and disdain for Washington, D.C.  

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John Kasich

But he remained far behind in the polls, dropping 50% in support in just one month—from September to October. Meanwhile, Trump, the New York billionaire developer, was being backed by 25% of Republican primary voters.  

So, with nothing to lose, Kasich decided to take off the gloves. He invoked the “N” word for Republicans: Nazi.  

He authorized the creation of a TV ad that opened with ominous music—and the face of a snarling Donald Trump.

“I would like anyone who is listening to consider some thoughts that I’ve paraphrased from the words of German pastor Martin Niemoeller.” 

The voice belonged to Tom Moe, a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force—and a former Vietnam prisoner-of-war.

“You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with the government, because you’re not one,” continued Moe. 

“And you might not care if Donald Trump says he’s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you’re not one. 

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Donald Trump

“And you might not care if Donald Trump says it’s OK to rough up black protesters, because you’re not one. 

“And you might not care of Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you’re not one.

“But think about this: 

“If he keeps going, and he actually becomes President, he might just get around to you. And you’d better hope that there’s someone left to help you.”  

Martin Niemoeller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who had commanded a U-boat during World War 1. He became a bitter public foe of Adolf Hitler.

A staunch anti-Communist, he had initially supported the Nazis as Germany’s only hope of salvation against the Soviet Union.

But when the Nazis made the church subordinate to State authority, Niemoeller created the Pastors’ Emergency League to defend religious freedom. 

For his opposition to the Third Reich,  Niemoeller spent seven years in concentration camps.

With the collapse of the Reich in 1945, he was freed—and elected President of the Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau in 1947. During the 1960s, he was a president of the World Council of Churches.

He is best remembered for his powerful condemnation of the failure of Germans to protest the increasing oppression of the Nazis:

First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Socialists, but I was not a Socialist, so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist, so I did not speak out.

Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out.

And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.

Neither “Adolf Hitler” nor “Nazi Party” was mentioned during the one-minute Kassich video. But a furious Trump threatened to sue Kasich if he could find find anything “not truthful” within the ad.

Apparently he couldn’t find anything “not truthful,” because he never sued.

So threatened the man who had called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and accused President Barack Obama of being a Muslim and an illegal alien.

The Kasich ad was the darkest attack made against Trump by any candidate—Republican or Democrat. And it raised a disturbing question:

If Donald Trump proved to be America’s Adolf Hitler, would there be an American Claus von Stauffenberg? 

Colonel Claus Schenk von Stuaffenberg was the German army officer who, on July 20, 1944, tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler. 

THE RIGHT’S NEXT TARGET: THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on June 29, 2022 at 12:12 am

“If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not  resort  to the  regular courts  of justice, then all  I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the Supreme Judge of the German people!”

That was how Chancellor—not yet Fuhrer-–Adolf Hitler justified his June 30, 1934 purge of his private army, the brown-shirted S.A. It has gone down in history as “The Night of the Long Knives.”

Adolf Hitler

It took five “Supreme Judges” of the American people to purge the right to abortion for millions of American women—including victims of rape and incest.

Hitler’s “blood purge” carried Germany yet another step closer to Nazi dictatorship. Similarly, the Supreme Court has carried the United States yet another step closer to a Republican dictatorship.

In the past, the Supreme Court has made decisions that have blackened its reputation in the eyes of historians.

One of these occurred in 1857, in what has become known as the “Dred Scott decision.” The Court decided 7–2 that neither Scott nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States.

The case centered on slaves Dred and Harriet Scott and their children, Eliza and Lizzie. The Scotts claimed that they should be granted their freedom because Dred had lived in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory for four years. Slavery was illegal in those jurisdictions, and their laws said that slaveholders gave up their rights to slaves if they stayed for an extended period.

Dred Scott photograph (circa 1857).jpg

Dred Scott

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that freeing Scott and his family would “improperly deprive Scott’s owner of his legal property.” 

As despicable as the Dred Scott decision was, it nevertheless lay grounded in the existing laws of that time. The Court did not reverse an earlier ruling. Millions who were already enslaved were kept enslaved. But it did not extend slavery throughout the country.

The Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade set a huge and dangerous legal precedent.

On January 22, 1973, the Court had struck down virtually every anti-abortion law in the country. On June 24, 2022, it overturned that decision.

It went, in effect, from having expanded freedom of choice to suddenly abolishing itAnd the Justices did so in the single most intimate aspect of a woman’s life.  

Once people have tasted a benefit, they expect it to continue. When President Barack Obama fought to secure passage of the Affordable Care Amendment (ACA) Republicans repeatedly and savagely tried to prevent its becoming law.

And once it became law, Republicans continued to try to overturn it. They knew that if millions of poor and middle-class Americans finally won the right to obtain medical care, they would support it as wholeheartedly as they did Medicare, Social Security and the Civil Rights Act.

For 49 years, Republicans made ending the right to abortion their key issue for gaining and holding elective office. It won them cheers, votes and monies from the Religious Right and powerful Right-wing forces such as Fox News.

Now, suddenly, they have attained their objective. Millions of women will no longer be able to obtain an abortion in cases of rape or incest—let alone because of a failed condom or birth control pill. 

Nor is that the only right the Justices intend to revoke.  

In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said that the Roe decision should prompt the Court to reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents. And he named the three landmark decisions that established those rights.

Clarence Thomas official SCOTUS portrait.jpg

Clarence Thomas

According to Kenji Yoshino, Professor of Constitutional Law at the New York University School of Law: 

“The Ninth Amendment says that there are unenumerated [implied] rights in the Constitution. And those include things that we take for granted every day, like the right to vote, the right to marry, the right to travel.

“These are all rights that are nowhere enumerated explicitly in the constitution but that we nonetheless take for granted as Americans.

“One of the most shocking things about [the Court’s] opinion was that these unenumerated rights will only be respected if they are deeply rooted in this nation’s history and traditions. And so it essentially said that if the framers of the 14th Amendment in 1868 didn’t recognize the right and question that the right didn’t have constitutional existence.

“And so that’s what leads Justice Thomas and that concurrence, to see an opening to say, ‘Well, maybe we’ll get rid of not just the right to abortion, but also the right to same-sex marriage, the right to sexual intimacy and the privacy of your home, and even the right to contraception.'” 

Thomas, says Yoshino, is inviting lower courts to reach that conclusion. He is also inviting Right-wing litigants to bring cases which can eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Thomas is in effect saying that once this happens, the right to same-sex marriage, contraception and privacy can be struck down by the Court—just as it has struck down the right to abortion.

Mark Antony, speaking in William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” had it right: “The evil that men do lives after them.”

THE WILD CARD IN THE ABORTION RIGHTS BATTLE

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on June 28, 2022 at 12:10 am

On June 24, the Supreme Court did what millions of Right-wing Americans had wanted it to do for 49 years: Strike down Roe v. Wade, holding there is no longer a Constitutional right to abortion.

The opinion was the one that almost every American recognized, and set a huge precedent for revoking a right that had been enshrined in law since 1973.

It will unleash seismic changes in the United States unseen since, on May 17, 1954, the Court declared segregation illegal in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

From now on, abortion rights will be determined by states. Half of these have already passed or will soon pass laws that ban abortion. Other states have enacted measures strictly regulating under what circumstances it can be legally performed.

Still other states have moved to strengthen their laws allowing the procedure.  

Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion. “Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences. And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.” 

U.S. Supreme Court building-m.jpg

The Supreme Court

Actually, it was not Roe that “enflamed debate and deepened divisions” but the nearly 50-year campaign by the (largely Christian) Right to deny women control of their bodies.

For abortion foes, the Millennium has arrived. For its defenders, the United States has entered a new Dark Ages. Yet the war over abortion may well be far from over. 

The states certain to ban or severely restrict the right to abortion are: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming. 

Those states guaranteeing a woman’s right to abortion: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington. 

The following states do not ban or protect the right to abortion in their constitution: Indiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia. 

At present, both abortion supporters and opponents assume that:

  • Women seeking abortion in states where it is banned will have to flee to states where it is legally allowed; and
  • Those states where it is banned will aggressively try to prevent those women from leaving to obtain an abortion, or punish them when they return.

Both of these assumptions—in many cases—may turn out to be wrong. 

Why?

Because they both leave out the wild card in this ongoing war over reproductive rights: The 326 Indian reservations in the United States.  

A Bureau of Indian Affairs map of Indian reservations belonging to federally recognized tribes in the continental United States

Reservations exist in states that ban abortion—and in those that permit it. For women seeking abortions in states where it is banned, these reservations may play a pivotal role in their ability to obtain that service.

The reason: The United States Constitution recognizes that tribal nations are sovereign governments, just like Canada or California.

That means that tribal governments can determine their own governance structures, pass laws, and enforce laws through police departments and tribal courts.

There are Indian reservations in the following states that will ban or severely restrict the right to abortion: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Consider the implications of this for abortion-banning states:

  • Arizona has 18 Indian reservations. One spans into Utah.
  • Colorado has two, one of which spreads into Utah
  • Florida has two.
  • Idaho has eight.
  • Louisiana has three. 
  • Michigan has seven.
  • Mississippi has one.
  • Nevada has two which spread into Idaho and Utah..
  • North Dakota has six.
  • South Dakota has ten.
  • Utah has seven.

A foretaste of what may be coming can be glimpsed in the history of gambling (euphemistically called “Indian gaming”) on Indian reservations.

The first Indian casino was built in Florida by the Seminole tribe, which opened a successful high-stakes bingo parlor in 1979. Other tribes quickly followed suit, and by 2000 more than 150 tribes in 24 states had opened casino or bingo operations on their reservations.

By 2005, annual revenues had reached more than $22 billion, and Indian gambling accounted for about 25% of all legal gambling receipts in the United States. 

Millions of women are now threatened with forced pregnancy. And many lack the money to travel out-of-state to obtain an abortion. Thus, they will have strong incentive to travel within their home states—so long as there is an abortion-providing clinic on a nearby Indian reservations.

And there will be enormous financial incentives for reservations to provide such services. 

Estimates of the number of illegal abortions in the 1950s and 1960s range between 200,000 and 1.2 million. Thanks to five Right-wing Supreme Court Justices, there will be no shortage of candidates for this procedure.

And the Constitutional status of Indian reservations as sovereign nations will protect clinics operating on their lands.

Of course, some states are moving aggressively to punish women who leave their borders to seek abortion elsewhere.

That is a topic to be dealt with in an upcoming column.

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