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Posts Tagged ‘WORLD WAR 11’

TWO ADVERSARIES, TWO LEGACIES

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 2, 2022 at 12:10 am

August 9, 2022, marked an anniversary increasingly fewer Americans remember: Forty-eight years to the day that Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th President of the United States, resigned in disgrace. 

Benjamin Crowninshield Bradlee, the former executive editor of The Washington Post, remains virtually unknown outside the journalism profession. Yet his paper did more than any other to bring Nixon down. 

Both Nixon and Bradlee were driven to succeed.  And both achieved fame and power in doing so.

Bradlee made his name in journalism.

Benjamin C. Bradlee

Nixon made his name in politics. 

Richard Nixon

Both served in the United States Navy in the Pacific during World War II.

Both had strong connections to John F. Kennedy.

  • Bradlee knew him as a friend and reporter during JFK’s years as a Senator and President.
  • Nixon—as a Senator and later Vice President—knew Kennedy as a Senatorial colleague and as a political adversary, unsuccessfully contesting him for the Presidency in 1960.

For both, 1948 was a pivotal year.

  • Bradlee joined The Washington Post as a reporter.
  • Nixon, as a U.S. Representative, accused Algier Hiss, a former State Department official, of having been a Communist spy.  Hiss was eventually convicted of perjury and sent to prison.

Both reached their positions of maximum power in 1968:

  • Bradlee became executive editor of The Washington Post
  • Nixon became the 37th President of the United States.

But there was a fundamental difference between them:

  • Bradlee made it his business to dig up the truth.  
  • Nixon made it his business to distort the truth—or to conceal it when distortion wasn’t enough.

Nixon and Bradlee had their first major clash in 1971 with the Pentagon Papers, a secret government study of how the United States became enmeshed in the Vietnam war.

  • Although the Papers concerned events that had occurred during the Presidencies of John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, Nixon was outraged at their release by a former Defense Department analyst named Daniel Ellsberg.
  • Bradlee, as executive editor of The Washington Post, successfully urged his publisher, Katherine Graham, to publish the papers after The New York Times was enjoined from doing so.
  • The controversy ended when the Supreme Court ruled, 6–3, that the government failed to meet the burden of proof required for prior restraint of the press.

In 1972, Bradlee and Nixon squared off for their most important battle—a “third-rate burglary” of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel.

Bob Woodward, Carl Bernstein and Benjamin C. Bradlee

  • Bradlee backed two young, aggressive reporters named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, as they probed the burglary.
  • This led to their discovering a series of illegal dirty tricks the Nixon re-election campaign had aimed at various Democratic opponents.
  • The Post’s revelations led to the formation of the Senate Watergate Committee, the discovery of Nixon’s tape-recordings of his private—and criminal—conversations, and, finally, to Nixon’s own resignation in disgrace on August 9, 1974.

Bradlee became an advocate for education and the study of history.Nixon entered history as the only American President forced to resign from office.

:Richard Nixon saying farewell at the White House

Bradlee became a media celebrity.  Nixon became a media target.

  • Bradlee was portrayed by Jason Robards in the hit 1976 film, All the President’s Men (for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor).
  • Nixon was portrayed—in Oliver Stone’s 1995 drama, Nixon—by Anthony Hopkins.

Bradlee and Nixon each published a series of books.

  • Bradlee’s: That Special Grace and Conversations With Kennedy focused on his longtime friendship with John F. Kennedy; A Good Life: Newspapering and Other Adventures was Bradlee’s memoirs.
  • Nixon’s:  Among his 11 titles: Six Crises; RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon; The Real War; Leaders; Real Peace; No More Vietnams; Beyond Peace.

After leaving the White House, Nixon worked hard behind-the-scenes to refashion himself into an elder statesman of the Republican Party. 

  • Throughout the 1980s, he traveled the lecture circuit, wrote books, and met with many foreign leaders, especially those of Third World countries.
  • He supported Ronald Reagan for president in 1980, making television appearances portraying himself as the senior statesman above the fray.
  • For the rest of his life, he fought ferociously through the courts to prevent the release of most of the infamous “Watergate tapes” that chronicled his crimes as President.
  • Only since his death have many of these been made public.

Nixon died on April 22, 1994.

  • Eulogists at his funeral included President Bill Clinton and former Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, California Governor Pete Wilson and the Reverend Billy Graham.
  • Despite his efforts to portray himself as an elder statesman, Nixon could never erase his infamy as the only President to resign in disgrace.
  • To this day, he remains a nonperson within the Republican Party.  

Bradlee remained executive editor of The Washington Post until retiring in 1991. But he continued to serve as vice president-at-large until his death on October 21, 2014.

  • In 2007, he received the French Legion of Honor, the highest award given by the French government, at a ceremony in Paris.
  • In 2013, he was named as a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. He was presented the medal at a White House ceremony on November 20, 2013.

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.  

Related image

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. 

Related image

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. 

WHY REPUBLICANS WILL WIN IN 2022–AND 2024: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on July 21, 2022 at 12:10 am

Democrats want to believe a day will come when all races, colors and creeds will live together in harmony. Their policies aim at creating that sort of society.

Republicans have turned “illegal alien” into a battle cry. 

This is especially true when inflation is high, jobs and housing are scarce, and local schools and hospitals are crammed with illegal aliens—who, by law, shouldn’t even be in the country.

Moreover, the “illegal alien” tagline often allows Republicans to sidestep criticism on even the most outrageous of their actions. 

Example: The case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped—and had to travel to Indiana to obtain an abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. v. Wade. 

Ohio has a “heartbeat” law making abortion a crime after a fetal heartbeat is determined—usually within the first six weeks.

Davidson County Commissioners approve "heartbeat" resolution on abortions

For Ohio’s Republican legislators and governor, the “rights” of a fetus far outweigh those of an actual human being—even if she is a child.

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for President George W. Bush, recently said on Fox News that the girl’s illegal alien rapist from Guatemala was the villain, not the fetal heartbeat law.

“The agenda is to allow people to come into America without having to come here legally. If you start pointing things out like this, it makes it a moral question. And that’s why the press doesn’t want to face up to the fact it’s a moral issue that people should not be allowed in America unless they come here legally.”    

Perhaps the most fatal reason why Democrats consistently lose elections: They believe—or want to believe—that voters are creatures of rationality. 

Republicans learned long ago that most voters aren’t moved by appeals to their rationality. Instead, what counts with them is emotions—such as fear.

From the end of World War II in 1945 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Enemy of Choice for Republicans was the Communists.

Millions of Americans were so pathologically frightened by “The Red Menace” that any Democratic politician libeled as a “Communist,” “Comsymp,”  “fellow traveler” was considered at least a potential traitor, if not an actual one.

Among the Republican politicians who rode to victory on a wave of Red hysteria: Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy 

Even as late as 1992, President George H.W. Bush and the Republican establishment charged that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton might be a KGB plant. Their evidence: During his tenure at Oxford University in 1969-70, Clinton had briefly visited Moscow—and thus might have been turned into a “Manchurian Candidate.”

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Right-wingers had to settle for attacking their opponents as “liberals” and “soft on crime.” But these charges didn’t carry the same weight as “Communists” and “traitors.”

Then, on September 11, 2001, Republicans—and their Right-wing supporters—at last found a suitable replacement for the Red Menace: The Maniacal Muslim.

The World Trade Center on Septemeber 11, 2001

Led by President George W. Bush, Republicans used fear of Muslims to con and bully the nation into a needless, bloody, budget-busting war on Iraq.

The most immediate danger facing Democratic candidates: Their unwillingness to fight fire with fire.

Example 1: Republicans are now organizing a nationwide effort to suppress voter turnout among blacks and liberals.

Yet Democrats are not making any similar effort to suppress Right-wing turnout. Nor is the Biden Justice Department indicting those Republicans responsible for their anti-democratic efforts.

Example 2: On January 6, 2021, President Donald Trump—supported by at least 144 Republicans in the House and Senate—incited a treasonous coup to remain in office. This despite the overwhelming evidence that he had lost the 2020 election to Joseph Biden.

More than a year and a half has passed, and not one major Republican supporting such treason has been indicted for that infamy. Let alone tried, convicted and imprisoned.  

The single biggest reason for the coming Democratic rout lies in the Biden administration’s toleration of Donald Trump’s continuing campaign of lies.

Trump continues to spread The Big Lie that he was robbed by a vast conspiracy—although not one of the more than 60 cases his lawyers brought before Federal judges proved this true. 

Trump should have been indicted for treason by no later than mid-2021. Even then, the evidence was overwhelming that he had instigated the coup attempt. He’s clearly preparing to run again for President in 2024.

An indictment for treason would cast a heavy—if not fatal—blow to that decision. At the very least, Trump would be forced to mount a feverish—and expensive—defense.

And even many of his most fanatical supporters would question the wisdom of voting for a man who might well become a Federal prison inmate.

America now stands at the point where the German Weimar Republic stood in 1932: With an aged President (Paul von Hindenburg) unable—or unwilling—to cope with a surging Fascistic movement (led by Adolf Hitler). 

The results of that collective failure destroyed Germany and left 60 million dead around the world.

The United States cannot afford to make that same fatal mistake.

WHY REPUBLICANS WILL WIN IN 2022–AND 2024: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on July 20, 2022 at 12:10 am

There are many reasons why Democrats consistently lose elections.

A major one: Democrats believe that people can be better than they are—and, given the chance, want to become better than they are.

Republicans realize that most people like themselves as they are—and don’t want to change. At least, not in the altruistic ways Democrats envision.

If they want to change anything about themselves, it’s strictly at the materialistic level: More money, lower prices, more big-ticket toys. 

Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA TODAY, summed up the popularity of the “Greed Appeal” to voters on the March 13, 2020 edition of “Washington Week in Review”:

“USA Today has conducted a poll about the economic concerns that are out there….And Congress—you’re seeing fear in this country about the economy.

“In fact, when we did this poll this week about how Americans’ lives have been affected by the Coronavirus, people expressed more concern about the economic and financial effect than they did about the health effect. And you know, that goes to why this matters so much to President Trump.

“How many voters have you talked to who said, you know, I don’t really like President Trump’s tweets, but I like what I see happening in my 401(k)?  And when they look at their 401(k) this week, it may not look quite as bright as it did before.”

Democrats expect people to rise above their worst selves and embrace a higher, altruistic cause—civil rights, abortion rights, healthcare for all.

Republicans look for those who are comfortable in their racism, their greed, their hatred for women. They don’t try to reform them—they encourage them in their racism, greed and misogyny. 

This began long before Donald Trump became a Presidential candidate in 2016.

When Richard Nixon announced his candidacy for President in 1968, he pursued what was euphemistically termed “a Southern strategy.”

In reality, this was aimed to exploit whites fear and hatred of blacks.

In a now-infamous 1981 interview, Right-wing political consultant Lee Atwater explained how this worked.

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’—that hurts you, backfires. 

“So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract.

“Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites….

“‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.’ 

“So anyway you look at it, race is coming on the back burner.”

Lee Atwater 1989.jpg

Lee Atwater

But blacks have by no means been the only targets—and victims—of Republican hate campaigns. A partial list of these would include:

  • Liberals
  • Women
  • Socialists
  • Secularists
  • Disabled
  • Environmentalists
  • Hispanics
  • Gays
  • Lesbians

And now transgenders.

Republicans are experts at inciting hatred—and reaping huge gains in power as a result.  

There can be no better example of a politician who has played successfully on the hatred of American voters than Donald Trump. If Barack Obama was the 2008 candidate of “Hope and Change,” then Trump was the 2016 candidate of “Hate and Fear.” 

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. 

Donald Trump

The New York Times needed two full pages of its print edition to showcase them. 

Among his targets:

  • Hillary Clinton
  • The New York Times 
  • President Barack Obama
  • CNN
  • Actress Meryl Streep
  • The Washington Post
  • Singer Neil Young
  • Democrats
  • Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Republicans
  • Comedian John Oliver
  • The State of New Jersey
  • Beauty pageant contestants

Others he clearly delighted in insulting during the campaign included:

  • Women
  • Blacks
  • Hispanics
  • Asians
  • Muslims
  • The disabled
  • Prisoners-of-war

Democrats want to believe a day will come when all races, colors and creeds will live together in harmony. Their policies aim at creating that sort of society.

Republicans know that most people instinctively feel comfortable with those who most resemble themselves. And they don’t seek out those who differ from themselves.

That’s why—in schools and prisons—whites sit mostly with whites, blacks sit mostly with blacks, and Hispanics sit mostly with Hispanics.

And if most Americans feel uncomfortable with fellow Americans who don’t resemble themselves, they are even more intolerant toward foreigners who don’t.

This is especially true when inflation is high, jobs and housing are scarce, and local schools and hospitals are crammed with illegal aliens—who, by law, shouldn’t even be in the country.

For these Americans, the Democrats’ “Kumbaya” message of love and tolerance falls on deaf ears. By contrast, Republicans’ cries of “Get rid of the illegal aliens!” ring loud and clear.

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Illegal aliens crossing into the United States

Moreover, the “illegal alien” tagline often allows Republicans to sidestep criticism on even the most outrageous of their actions. 

Example: The case of a 10-year-old Ohio girl who was raped—and had to travel to Indiana to obtain an abortion after the Supreme Court overturned Roe. v. Wade. 

WHY REPUBLICANS WILL WIN IN 2022–AND 2024: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on July 19, 2022 at 12:11 am

If you’re wondering what’s going to happen during the mid-term elections this November—and what will happen during the Presidential election of 2024—you can stop wondering.

The Democrats are going to lose—first the House (and maybe the Senate) on November 8. Then they’re going to lose the Presidential election on November 5, 2024.

Why?

Because Republicans understand the darker sides of human nature far better than Democrats—and don’t hesitate to take full advantage of them.

Democrats believe that people can be better than they are—and, given the chance, want to become better than they are.

Republicans realize that most people like themselves as they are—and don’t want to change. At least, not in the altruistic ways Democrats envision.

If they want to change anything about themselves, it’s strictly at the materialistic level: More money, lower prices, more big-ticket toys.

They may claim concern for others, but if given a choice between their pocketbook and a higher goal, most will vote for their pocketbook.

A first-rate example of this appeared on The PBS Newshour on July 15, during an exchange between conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart, associate editor for the Washington Post.

Brooks and Capehart on the future of abortion rights, government funding brinkmanship | PBS NewsHour

David Brooks (left) and Jonathan Capehart (right) on the PBS Newshour

Host William Brangham led off the exchange:

“I want to switch, Jonathan, to this issue of the continued fallout of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. And Democrats seem to believe that this could be one of the things that might give them at least some trace of a fighting chance in the midterms.

“And we saw we this week this sort of horrendous case of a young 10-year-old girl who had been raped. She got pregnant. She then had to leave her state [Ohio] and go to another state [Indiana] where abortion would still be allowed.

“And GOP officials tried to make hay of it. They doubted that that story really existed. The local [Attorney General] said, we’re going to go after the doctor that performed this.

“Do you think that—that issue and the extremity of the way that this is being handled will actually benefit Democrats?”

Capehart: “It should. The idea that we’re talking about violence against a child, and then being forced by the state to give birth to this child, going to another state so she can terminate that pregnancy, and then being persecuted and prosecuted by the state for doing that….

Pennsylvania Child Abuse Recognition and Reporting - 2 Hours For $20

“We are in “Handmaid’s Tale” territory here. We are turning into Gilead. And if there are people out there who are upset by the Supreme Court decision, by what Republican legislators around the country in states and localities are doing to further restrictions and bans on abortion.

“I don’t know what else could push people to the polls more than not just being stripped of a constitutional right, but having your right to — right to freedom, right to privacy, right to liberty not just taken away, but local officials doing everything they can to ensure that you don’t have autonomy over your own body.

“If that doesn’t get people out to the polls, I don’t know what will.”

Brangham then turned to Brooks

“I mean, David, this was an incredibly extreme case, in some ways crystallized the sharpness and the horribleness of this division in this country.

“Do you think it will redound to the Democrats’ benefit?”   

Brooks:  “A little, but, frankly, not much.

“Now, abortion rights defenders, they should pursue their cause with the passion that they’re bringing to it….

“But there’s just a giant gap between what a lot of Democrats want to talk about and what the whole rest of the country wants to talk about. And if you ask people, what’s the most important issues, progressives want to talk about abortion and guns.

“The entire rest of the country, independents, conservatives, unaffiliated people, they want talk about the economy. And, for them, the economy is way up here. Jobs are number one. Inflation is number two.

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“And so why is Joe Biden at 33 percent approval in the latest Times poll? It’s the economy. Why in the same poll do half of Hispanics support the Republicans now? The economy. These are earthquake numbers for Democrats…..

“But if Democrats, if they’re not talking about economic policy every day, then they’re just not talking about the policy that is clearly ranking number one with a vast majority of voters.”

No Republican has appealed more directly to greed as a motivator than Donald Trump.

On August 23, 2018, Trump, as President, offered additional evidence that he’s “not like other people.” He did so by giving an unprecedented reason why he shouldn’t be impeached: “I tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor.”  

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubtless spoke for millions of Trump supporters when she said, on June 4, 2018:

“Since taking office, the President has strengthened American leadership, security, prosperity, and accountability. And as we saw from Friday’s jobs report, our economy is stronger, Americans are optimistic, and business is booming.”

NAZI PAST IS REPUBLICAN PRESENT

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on June 27, 2022 at 12:10 am

You can’t appreciate the ordeal—and the heroism—of Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke on May 25 if you know nothing about Roland Freisler. 

Not that O’Rourke and Freisler have anything in common.

O’Rourke, 49, represented the Texas 16th Congressional district from 2013 to 2019. A Democrat, he ran for the United States Senate in 2018 and for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. He is now the Democratic nominee for the 2022 Texas governorship.

Beto O'Rourke April 2019.jpg

Robert “Beto” O’Rourke 

Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Freisler (October 30, 1893 – February 3, 1945) was a German Nazi jurist, judge and politician who served as the State Secretary of the Reich Ministry of Justice from 1934 to 1942 and President of the People’s Court from 1942 to 1945.

His mastery of legal texts, verbal force and fanatical commitment to Nazi ideology made him the most-feared judge in Nazi Germany.  He was an admirer of Andrei Vyshinsky, the chief prosecutor of the Stalinist purge trials, and reportedly copied his demeanor. 

Friesler demanded strict penalties against “race defilement”—sexual relations between “Aryans” and “inferior races”—designating this as “racial treason.”

Between 1942 and 1945, Freisler ordered 5,000 people executed. These included approximately 200 people hanged for alleged involvement in the July 20, 1944, plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Ninety per cent of all cases brought before him resulted in death or life imprisonment.

Freisler’s treatment of these defendants was especially brutal and humiliating. During the trial of Erwin von Witzleben, the former field marshal tried to hold up his trousers because he had been given oversized and beltless clothing. Freisler yelled at him: “You dirty old man, why do you keep fiddling with your trousers?”

On February 3, 1945, an American bombing raid on Berlin forced Freisler to adjourn proceedings and order the prisoners before him be taken to an air raid shelter. But he stayed behind to gather files before leaving.

A bomb struck the court building, and while Freisler hurriedly gathered his documents, a masonry column crushed him. He died instantly, and his flattened remains were found beneath the rubble.

Bundesarchiv Bild 183-J03238, Roland Freisler.jpg

Roland Freisler 

Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J03238 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Among the files he clutched was that of Fabian von Schlabrendorff, a member of the July 20 plot who faced execution. Because Freisler died, Schlabrendorff, survived the war.

When Freisler was brought to Lützow Hospital, a worker commented: “It is God’s verdict.”

Now, fast forward 77 years to a different country—but the same Fascistic mentality.

On May 24, 2022, 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, entered Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. He shut himself inside two adjoining classrooms and fatally shot 19 students and two teachers and wounded 17 other people. 

He remained in the school for more than an hour before members of the United States Border Patrol Tactical Unit fatally shot him.

The next day, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott staged a press conference in Uvalde. Joining him were Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Texas United States Senators John Cormyn and Ted Cruz.

As always happens after a gun massacre, the assembled Republicans blamed it on everything but the ready availability of military-style firearms to virtually anyone—including criminals, terrorists and the mentally ill.

“Inevitably when there’s a murder of this kind, you see politicians try to politicize it, you see Democrats and a lot of folks in the media whose immediate solution is to try to restrict the constitutional rights of law-abiding citizens,” Ted Cruz told reporters. “That doesn’t work. It’s not effective. It doesn’t prevent crime.”

Paxton similarly rejected any effort at gun control: “I’d much rather have law-abiding citizens armed and trained so that they can respond when something like this happens because it’s not going to be the last time.”

This totally ignored the fact that armed Texas police, knowing they were facing a man armed with an AR-15 assault rifle, waited more than an hour to enter the school.

O’Rourke was having none of it. He had become outraged about gun violence after a 2019 mass shooting in his hometown, El Paso, killed 23 people.

About 15 minutes after Abbott began speaking to the media and fellow Republicans onstage, O’Rourke moved to the third row of the Uvalde High School auditorium. When Abbott concluded his comments and introduced Patrick, O’Rourke rose and walked to the stage and spoke directly to Abbott. 

Beto O'Rourke confronts Gov. Greg Abbott at news conference on Uvalde, Texas school shooting - YouTube

“The time to stop the next shooting is right now, and you are doing nothing,” O’Rourke said. “You are offering up nothing. You said this was not predictable. This was totally predictable when you choose not to do anything.” 

Republicans onstage furiously reacted.

Cruz: “Sit down and don’t play this stunt.”

Patrick: “You’re out of line and an embarrassment.”

Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin: “I can’t believe that you’re a sick son of a bitch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.” 

Police escorted O’Rourke out of the room. Just as some defendants had dared to warn Freisler he would face trial for war crimes, O’Rourke had a similar warning for Abbott:

“This is on you until you choose to do something different,” O’Rourke said, as he was escorted out of the room.

“This will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will be continue to be killed just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday.”

It remains to be seen whether history will hold Greg Abbott as accountable for mass deaths as it has Roland Freisler.

REPUBLICANS: USING HATE TO WIN ELECTIONS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 12, 2022 at 12:12 am

The Right’s fixation on transgender “dangers” is only the latest in a long string of “enemies” painted by the Republican party.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the “enemy” was blacks. The key to winning votes of racist whites without appearing racist lay in what Republicans called “the Southern Strategy.”

It was this that won Richard Nixon the Presidency in 1968 and 1972 and the White House for George H.W. Bush in 1988.

In a now-infamous 1981 interview, Right-wing political consultant Lee Atwater explained how this worked: 

“You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘nigger’—that hurts you, backfires. 

“So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract.

“Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites….

“‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘Nigger, nigger.’ 

“So anyway you look at it, race is coming on the back burner.”

Lee Atwater 1989.jpg

Lee Atwater 

 

At the end of his life, Atwater recognized the monster he had helped unleash.

Like Reinhard Heydrich—the designer of the “Final Solution” who, on his deathbed, begged forgiveness for his crimes—Atwater, in a 1991 article for Life, apologized to former Democratic Presidential nominee Michael Dukakis for the “naked cruelty” of the 1988 campaign.

But blacks have by no means been the only targets—and victims—of Republican hate campaigns. A partial list of these would include:

  • Liberals
  • Women
  • Socialists
  • Secularists
  • Disabled
  • Environmentalists
  • Hispanics
  • Gays
  • Lesbians

And now transgenders.

George Orwell’s classic 1949 novel, 1984, serves as a better guide to Republican electioneering than any official statement of the GOP.

1984 is set in a futuristic dictatorship called Oceania, whose constantly alternating mortal enemies are Eurasia and Eastasia.

A daily fixture of life in Oceania is the “Two Minutes Hate.” During this, Party members must watch a film depicting the Party’s enemies and express their hatred for them in exactly two minutes.

Chief among these is Emmanuel Goldstein, who is obviously based on Leon Trotsky, the longtime antagonist of Joseph Stalin, dictator of the Soviet Union for almost 30 years.

The “Two Minutes Hate” serves as a form of brainwashing, whose purpose is to whip ordinary citizens into a frenzy of hatred and loathing for whoever the Party designates as it—and their—-mortal enemies.

Since the end of World War II, Republicans have regularly hurled the charge of “treason” against anyone who dared to run against them for office or think other than Republican-approved thoughts.

Republicans had been locked out of the White House from 1933 to 1952, during the administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman.

Determined to regain the Presidency by any means, they found that attacking the integrity of their fellow Americans a highly effective tactic.

During the 1950s, Wisconsin Senator Joseph R. McCarthy rode a wave of paranoia to national prominence–by attacking the patriotism of anyone who disagreed with him.

Joseph McCarthy

Elected to the Senate in 1946, he rose to national prominence on February 9, 1950, after giving a fiery speech in Wheeling, West Virginia:

“The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205—a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”

Americans were already growing increasingly fearful of Communism:

  • Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin had not withdrawn the Red Army from the countries it had occupied in Eastern Europe during World War II.
  • In 1948, the Soviet Union developed—and demonstrated—its own atomic bomb, an achievement U.S. scientists had claimed would not happen for at least a decade.
  • In 1949, China fell to the triumphant armies of Mao Tse Tung.

But anti-communism as a lever to political advancement sharply accelerated following McCarthy’s speech. Republicans—resentful at being denied the White House since 1932—seized upon anti-communism as their passport to power.

No American—no matter how prominent—was safe from the accusation of being a Communist or a Communist sympathizer—”a Comsymp” or “fellow traveler” in the style of the era.

Among those accused:

  • Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who had overseen America’s strategy for defeating Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan
  • President Harry S. Truman
  • Playwrights Lillian Hellman and Arthur Miller
  • Actors Charlie Chaplin, Zero Mostel, Lloyd Bridges, Howard Da Silva, Edward G. Robinson and John Garfield
  • Composers Arron Copland and Elmer Bernstein
  • Physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who presided over the creation of America’s atomic bomb
  • Actresses Lee Grant, Delores del Rio, Ruth Gordon and Lucille Ball
  • Journalists Edward R. Murrow and William L. Shirer, who had chronicled the rise of Nazi Germany
  • Folksinger Pete Seeger
  • Writers Irwin Shaw, Howard Fast, John Steinbeck and Dashiell Hammett

Even “untouchable” Republicans became targets for such slander.

The most prominent of these was President Dwight D. Eisenhower–labeled ”a conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy” by Robert Welch, who founded the John Birch Society in 1958.

“VICTORY THROUGH AIR POWER”–A SELF-DESTRUCTIVE MYTH

In History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 4, 2022 at 12:10 am

Victory Through Air Power is a 1943 Walt Disney animated Technocolor feature film released during World War II. It’s based on the book—of the same title—by Alexander P. de Seversky.

Its thesis is summed up in its title: That by using bombers and fighter aircraft, the United States can attain swift, stunning victory over its Axis enemies: Germany, Italy and Japan.

Although it’s not explicitly stated, the overall impression given is that, through the use of air power, America can defeat its enemies without deploying millions of ground troops.

The movie has long since been forgotten except by film buffs, but its message has not. Especially by the highest officials within the U.S. Air Force.

Although the Air Force regularly boasted of the tonnage of bombs its planes dropped over Nazi Germany, it failed to attain its primary goal: Break the will of the Germans to resist.

On the contrary: Just as the German bombings of England had solidified the will of the British people to resist, so Allied bombing increased the determination of the Germans to fight on.

Nor did the failure of air power end there.

On June 6, 1944—D-Day—the Allies launched their invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in history. More than 160,000 troops landed—73,000 Americans, 61,715 British and 21,400 Canadians.

Allied air power bombed and strafed German troops out in the open. But it couldn’t dislodge soldiers barricaded in steel-and-concrete-reinforced bunkers or pillboxes. Those had to be dislodged, one group at a time, by Allied  soldiers armed with rifles, dynamite and flamethrowers. 

Soldier using flamethrower

This situation proved true throughout the rest of the war.

Then, starting in 1964, the theory of “Victory Through Air Power” once again proved a dud—in Vietnam.

From 1964 to 1975, seven million tons of bombs were dropped on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia—more than twice the amount of bombs dropped on Europe and Asia in World War II.

Yet the result proved exactly the same as it had in World War II: The bombing enraged the North Vietnamese and steeled their resolve to fight on to the end.

Hanoi ordered the distribution of rifles to its citizens—to be used for shooting at American planes. Although this probably didn’t bring any planes down, it greatly increased morale among the populace.

American bomber

The belief that victory could be achieved primarily—if not entirely—through air power had another unforeseen result during the Vietnam war. It gradually sucked the United States ever deeper into the conflict.

To bomb North Vietnam, the United States needed air force bases in South Vietnam. This required that those bombers and fighters be protected.

So a force to provide round-the-clock security had to be maintained. But there weren’t enough guards to defend themselves against a major attack by North Vietnamese forces.

So more American troops were needed—to guard the guards.

North Vietnam continued to press greater numbers of its soldiers into attacks on American bases. This forced America to provide greater numbers of its own soldiers to defend against such attacks.

Eventually, the United States had more than 500,000 ground troops fighting in Vietnam—with no end in sight to the conflict.  

But it isn’t enough to subdue a conquered nation—it must be occupied. And air power alone will not suffice. 

Americans learned this to their dismay in Iraq after quickly taking Baghdad and subduing the forces of Saddam Hussein. On May 1, 2003, President George W. bush declared the war over.

Except that it wasn’t.

A nationwide insurgency quickly mushroomed—and there simply weren’t enough American troops to prevent or stop these attacks. These continued until the United States finally withdrew from Iraq in 2011.

Since February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin has directed carpet-bombing attacks on Ukraine, Russia’s neighboring republic. They have leveled cities such as Mariupol with cluster bombs and phosphorus bombs.

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

Cluster bombs contain small explosive bombs called “sub-munitions.” Dropped from an aircraft or fired from the ground, they open in the air and release the sub-munitions. This scatters a carpet of bombs over a large area without any degree of accuracy.  

They don’t explode on impact but remain hazardous as anti-personnel landmines. Up to 87% of recorded victims are civilians. 

And yet Ukrainians continue to fiercely resist. At least seven Russian generals have been killed, and NATO estimates that Russia has lost between 21,000 and 45,000 in dead and wounded. 

Finally, pulverizing cities from the air comes with a cost—to those doing the pulverizing.

In the 1964 classic, Becket, England’s Chancellor, Thomas Becket (Richard Burton) has captured a French city for his king, Henry II (Peter O’Toole) and is about to lead a peaceful parade of soldiers into it.

“In my day,” complains an English baron, “we marched into a city and slaughtered the lot.”

“Yes—into a dead city,” retorts Becket. “I want to give the King living cities to increase his wealth.”

It’s more than a safe bet that Victory Through Air Power will prove as hollow a slogan in the future as it has in the past. 

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