An Offer They Can’t Refuse?

mob tiesIf you wonder, as I do, why so many of Donald Trump’s political opponents have suddenly and inexplicably rushed to support him, you won’t find a believable answer on cable TV or in the press. There are some “issues” the mainstream media seem reluctant to examine.

The link between politics and organized crime, for example.

You won’t hear much about organized crime’s relationship with US politicians on the evening news. The election coverage we usually get is an endless regurgitation of empty rhetoric backed up by fatuous speculation disguised as “expert analysis.”

Even when the Marco Rubio campaign was at its peak, the media seemed reluctant to discuss his ties to the infamous “cocaine cowboys” in Miami.

It was a tabloid columnist who first enlightened me about Rudy Giuliani’s Mafia relatives. And I found out about Chris Christie’s ties to the Genovese “family” on an obscure web site.

But the Internet – yes I know how unreliable the Internet can be – has an abundance of evidence that would make even the most skeptical person suspect that organized crime is a powerful influence in American politics.

Furthermore, the link between crime and politics is historically documented. And the blight is not limited to the US. It’s global.

felix_saterSo it really shouldn’t be surprising to discover that Trump – a former casino owner –  is waist deep in mob connections. Especially since one of his “senior advisors”  is reportedly an ex-con named Felix Sater (at right), who served time for stabbing a man in the face with a broken cocktail glass and was later convicted in a Mafia-linked stock fraud.

In one of those endless primary debates, Ted Cruz mentioned Trump’s mob connections. When “Politifact” checked it out, the charge was found to be true.

And investigative journalist Wayne Barrett has described the tycoon’s deals with mob related companies in his book “Trump, the Deals and the Downfall.”

Even a media outlet as bland as CNN can’t completely ignore Trump’s mob ties. In a recent broadcast CNN stated:

Trump’s alleged ties to New York and Philadelphia crime families go back decades.

CNN takes care to say the connection is only “alleged” of course, but adds that some of the allegations are in a New Jersey state commission’s report on organized crime.scarfo

leonettiAccording to the report, Trump built his casino with the help of two construction companies controlled by Philadelphia mobsters – “Little Nicky” Scarfo (at right) and Scarfo’s nephew “Crazy Phil” Leonetti.

So when I see those craven politicians stumbling over each other to get behind Trump, I have to wonder: Did some Mafia thug like Little Nicky or Crazy Phil make them an offer they couldn’t refuse?

I know how outlandish that may seem, but is it really any more outlandish than the rest of this crazy campaign season?

Giuliani,Christie and the mob

Trump’s senior advisor

Trump’s ties to the mob

Crazy Phil’s story

Crime and global politics

 

Now, Hillary is a Spy?

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One of the first cautions I received as a young reporter was, “Consider the source.” Obviously, nobody shared those words of wisdom with Yahoo News.

The first “article” I saw when I turned on the computer this morning was an ominous dirge announcing that Hillary Clinton’s campaign was in deep trouble because she and several State Department associates were in imminent danger of being charged with – wait for it – espionage!

Rife with speculation, the article had nothing substantive to add to the tired, old canard about Hillary’s emails. But it had me worried – until I considered the source. It was Fox News.

(The Washington Post and CNN  are telling a different story. They reported recently that FBI investigators have found nothing so far to incriminate Hillary.)

Just below this piece of journalistic garbage, there was another blast at the Clintons on the Yahoo News screen. A Wall Street “whistleblower” was going to spill the goods on the Clinton Foundation, according to the headline. But the article had only some guy’s suspicion to rely on. Not one shred of believable evidence to back it up.

Aallen-west-7nd the source? The byline credited Fox Nation but digging deeper, I found the smear had originally appeared on Allen West’s web site. Allen West!!!

I’m sure you know who Allen West is – one of those outlandish Tea Party clowns who spend their time dreaming up conspiracies and “scandals.”

Goodness gracious, Yahoo News! Can’t you find a more reliable source than Allen West?

But in this campaign season, where bias and even outright lying passes for news, the avalanche of slander is just beginning. And you can bet that “vast rightwing conspiracy” will be churning out all kinds of fabricated “exposés” involving Hillary.

Sadly, those lazy “journalists” in the corporate-owned mainstream press are only too willing to regurgitate the garbage without checking it out.

So before you believe some slimy piece of “news” about the Clintons, remember this warning:

Consider the source.

Click for more on smearing Hillary.

Allen West’s web site.

 

Fact or Fiction? Does it Matter?

gayIn this bizarre age, when politics is reality TV and facts are whatever people will believe, the “news” is nothing more than entertainment – laced with a toxic undercurrent of propaganda.

A few afternoons ago, I was hitting golf balls in a meadow owned by the church next door, and I saw a man sitting in a pickup truck, parked in the shade of a grandfather oak. I figured he was taking a break from his work day.

I went over and said hi and we got to talking.

He told me he builds gas stations for a living, that he started out as a laborer and worked his way up the ladder. He was born in the USA of Cuban – or partly Cuban – heritage. And he thinks he knows what’s really going on in America.

For example, he knows that Barack Obama is gay and First Lady Michelle is really a man. Their two daughters? Adopted from a Third World country.

I had to admit I hadn’t heard that one before.

I’d heard, of course, that the President was actually born in Kenya, that he was a secret Muslim, that he was the Anti-Christ… But gay? That was a revelation!

And Michelle is a transsexual? Hard to believe.

But my new acquaintance was sure of his information. He’d read it in an article.

Yes, people write this stuff. And broadcast it, too. Especially over the Internet, where anything goes.

There’s a motley crew of conspiracy theorists out there. And every so often one of them turns out to be right. It was the Drudge Report, for example, that blew the whistle on the Monica Lewinski scandal. And now Drudge is one of Donald Trump’s closest allies.

Another Trump favorite is Alex Jones, whose Infowars site “exposed” the hidden (government) hands behind the World Trade Center attack and the “fact” that the Newtown kindergarten massacre was a theatrical event planned by the Obama Administration to get support for gun control.

I Googled the “scoop” the man in the pickup had shared, and it turned out to be old “news.” I found dozens of references on the web – including an Alex Jones video. These “reports” even went so far as to suggest comedian Joan Rivers was assassinated because she had “exposed” the Obamas’ sexuality.

So it seems Trump gets his material from the same sources as my pal in the pickup truck. And, as you might imagine, these “sources” are replete with scandalous “information” about the Clintons.

So fasten your seat belts, folks! We’re in for a wild ride. We can expect an avalanche of shocking “news” about Hillary as the 2016 presidential campaign develops.

Click for Jones on the Obamas.

Click for more on Alex Jones.

Click for Joan Rivers video.

 

Punishing the Victim

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As I watch Donald Trump on cable news slandering Hillary Clinton with false and tasteless references to those long-forgotten episodes involving Bill’s roving ways, I wonder why it’s the victims who always seem to get punished in these shabby affairs.

Is it because the victims are usually women?

When a woman is raped, have you noticed how eager people are to find a way to blame her?

They point to her provocative makeup or attire or behavior, or whatever, and make excuses for the male predator who raped her.

I guess men will be men, eh? It’s up to the women to keep us from running amok, I suppose. Is that how people still think in 21st century America? Say it ain’t so!

But that’s just what Trump is up to – with an absurd twist. He doesn’t blame Bill’s lovers; he blames Hillary!

He seems to have learned a new word – enabler. Hillary, he shouts, “enabled” Bill’s philandering. He doesn’t provide any evidence to back up his claims. Instead, he goes off on a rant about Hillary making life miserable for the women who cheated with her husband.

Again, no details. But Trump never provides details. He’s above all that. He just slings mud. By the bucketful.

Later, I watched an obese man on CNN lambasting Hillary for being cruel to that poor Monica Lewinsky  (lower picture). He said that in a call to a friend, Hillary had called Monica “a narcissistic loony-tune.”

How harsh is that! After all, he pointed out indignantly, poor Monica was only 21 years old. Give me a break!

Tell me, if your spouse was caught playing around with someone else, wouldn’t you be tempted to indulge in a little name calling? And I bet you could find a few stronger terms than “narcissistic loony-tune.” I know I would resort to some good, ole Jamaican cuss words, myself.

Hillary is the victim here. She is the one who got cheated on.

The fact that she loved her man enough to forgive him doesn’t make her an enabler in my book; it makes her a generous woman who has the grit to rise above her heartbreak and move on. Don’t you think that since she has been able to forget and forgive, we should be, too?

The fact that Trump is stooping so low as to dig up those old bones makes him even more of a cad than I thought him to be all along. And the fact that the media are giving him a platform to do it says a lot about the sorry state of the so-called news business.

Click for Trump’s mud slinging.

 

Bad News on the Doorstep

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Well, I woke up again today and the aches and pains of old age are muted. The sun is shining and I will be heading to the golf course in a couple of hours. Nothing to complain of.

So why does a sense of foreboding linger over me?

It must be the news.

“Bad news on the doorstep,” as Don McLean put it.

The media search the far reaches of the universe to find scary, depressing stuff.

It’s not enough that Donald Trump could become President of the poor, old USA. It’s not enough that financial “experts” are predicting gloom and doom. There’s that  asteroid headed in our direction.

But you know, after all these years, I’ve become a little skeptical. The sky has been falling for so long, and it’s still up there.

When I hear that the global economy is about to collapse, that World War III is just around the corner, that ISIS is coming to kill or enslave us, that democracy is on its death bed… I’ve learned to take it all with a grain or two of salt.

Often, the bad news is cooked up – or at least exaggerated – by special interests who stand to gain from the fear they generate. It used to be love that made the world go round; now it seems to be fear and hate.

So bring it on, whatever the latest scare might be.

As King David said, I will not fear though the earth be moved, though the mountains be cast into the midst of the sea.

I’ve survived these many, many years despite the alarums and the threats, despite war and the rumors of war.

So whatever tomorrow may bring, I’ll enjoy today. The sun is shining and I’m still ambulatory.

Fore!

 

Yearning for a Dictator?

trumpI predicted some time ago that the Republican Party would split into two disparate factions – Conservatives and Libertarians. The two groups are as incompatible as oil and water. But now the split has occurred, I’m confused.

A third group has emerged to take over the party – the followers of Donald Trump.

As the Conservatives keep telling us, Trump is not one of them. But he is not a Libertarian either. He is an unabashed authoritarian.

The Libertarians – represented by Rand Paul – were rejected early in the primary process. The Conservatives – represented by Ted Cruz – have now caved in.

What does that signify? Has the party “base” had a dramatic change of heart? That seems to be what the pundits believe.

And I think they’re right. In embracing Trump, the base has definitely abandoned some long-cherished Conservative dogma.

But I suspect there’s more to it than that. I think the Republican Party has been hijacked by outsiders, people who never got involved in politics before, who are fed up with politics of all kinds, fed up with the cumbersome and often frustrating nature of democracy. These new “Republicans” yearn for the simplicity of an autocracy.

They want Trump – with all his contradictions, all his misconceptions, all his lack of conviction – to tell them what to do. And if that doesn’t work, they want him to tell them what to do next.

They are sick and tired of the bickering and the push-you-pull-you politics they’ve been enduring for so long.

In short they don’t want a President; they want a CEO. A tough, decisive CEO who is not afraid to say, “You’re fired!”

What they could get is a dictator.

And I don’t have to tell you what horrors have resulted throughout history from that kind of government. But I have to admit autocracy can be efficient.

The question facing America in November is whether to surrender the freedoms of a democracy for the promised efficiency of an autocracy.

Yes, I know the Constitution is supposed to protect America from dictators. But if Trump wins the presidency, he gets to stack the Supreme Court in his favor, undermining the separation of powers decreed by the Constitution. And I don’t think he would hesitate to do whatever it takes to bring Congress to heel.

His posture is that of a benevolent dictator but I suspect his benevolence is skin deep. I think he is a ruthless, amoral business tycoon with a swollen ego and a twisted mind.

His popularity is terrifying. The world’s leading democracy has never faced a greater peril.

More on a Trump dictatorship

 

Idiocracy? No, The Simpsons

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I’ve been comparing today’s America with that old “Idiocracy” movie, where the people have become so degenerate and dumb that a normal time traveler is hailed as a genius. But there’s an even more realistic depiction – an episode in The Simpsons titled “Bart to the Future.”

It was aired in the year 2000 and it focused on the disastrous after-effects of a Donald Trump presidency.

That’s how low American punditry has sunk – to the level of a TV comic strip.

Not one “serious” pundit predicted Trump’s triumph in the Republican primaries. It seems that it’s up to the cartoonists and the comics to tell us what’s really going on in this crazy country.

Does that mean I think Trump will be elected President?

Of course not.

But I didn’t think he would win the Republican nomination either. So I could be in for another unpleasant surprise.

God forbid.

Even a cartoonist can tell what such a presidency would mean. In the Simpsons episode, Lisa becomes America’s first female President and inherits a bankrupt nation from ex-President Trump.

I’m sure that’s exactly what would happen if Trump ever gets his hands on America’s purse strings. And that’s just a small part of the damage he would inflict as President.

The damage to American society – and to the free world – would be irreparable. Oppression, tyranny, injustice, racial hatred, war and poverty would be his legacy.

And, as the English statesman Edmund Burke observed so long ago, all that’s needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

If ever there was a time for decent Americans to take a stand that time is now.

The very least we can do – must do – is vote.

More on the Simpsons episode

More on a Trump presidency.

 

Quit Already, Bernie!

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So Bernie won the Democratic primary in Indiana. So what?

He still isn’t going to be the Democratic nominee. He is just being a distraction – a damaging distraction – from the tough fight ahead.

This campaign of his was a catharsis of sorts, I suppose. It provided an outlet for his pent-up frustrations – and those of a lot of other Americans. They got to yell about income inequality and threaten to revolt against our rich overlords.

But that should be out of their systems by now. It’s time to get real.

In my 82 years on this earth, it has become clear to me that not only will the poor always be with us (as the Good Book says) but so will the rich.

Yes, I know the inequality we have today is shameful. Yes, I know families like the  Waltons have too much money. But I don’t envy them. You can only enjoy so much of the biggest fortune. The rest can be a burden.

It’s fun to rail at the “one percent,” but it’s futile.

It’s far more productive to figure out how to make life better for ordinary folks, how to provide education, health care, good jobs, business and professional opportunities and a level playing field for the 99 percent. If our leaders do a really good job, who knows? Perhaps some of the 99 percent will get rich one day, too.

Bernie says the system is rigged, and of course he’s right. And change is long overdue. But we must be careful what we wish for. Before we drive those money changers from the Temple, we should figure out how to get along without them.

It’s a complex world and change must be handled with care. I trust Hillary to do that.

Obviously, so do a majority of Democrats.

So Bernie, it’s time to pack it in. You don’t want to give the Republicans a head start on the  general election campaign, do you?

How Hillary stacks up against Trump.

How Bernie and Hillary disagree.

 

George Will vs. the People’s Will

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george-will-300x297Someone should enlighten George Will (at right) about democracy.  The syndicated columnist, who has been spreading right-wing propaganda for decades, wants the Republican Party to promote a boycott of Donald Trump in the November presidential election.

By now, it should be obvious to everyone, however blinded by bias they might be, that Trump reflects the prevailing values of a party that has courted America’s dark side for a generation or more. They sowed the bad seed; now they’re reaping the bad harvest they deserve.

Yes, Trump is a sexist, racist oaf. Yes, he is a rude, impulsive, dangerous buffoon who should not be allowed within miles of the Doomsday Button.

As Rachel Maddow suggested on MSNBC last night, he is reminiscent of the Barry Goldwater menace back in the Sixties.

But he is nevertheless the people’s choice.

Not my choice, of course. And surely not yours.

But he is the choice of millions of Americans. That’s just a fact.

I certainly don’t think he will be America’s choice in November. This society has been badly damaged over the past four or five decades – much of the damage resulting froom a massive right-wing propaganda crusade. But I can’t believe the damage is so extensive that a creep like Trump could be elected to the highest office in the land.

For better or for worse, Trump is the Republican Party’s standard bearer, however.

Party stooges like George Will can’t do much to stop him now. They get to vote in November just like you and me. That’s all.

It’s called democracy.

Who they vote for is up to them. As for me, I’m voting for Hillary.

More on Will’s column.

More on Trump’s nomination.

 

Hillary’s Woman Card

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Of course nobody should vote for Hillary just because she’s a woman. But wouldn’t it be nice to have a woman as leader of the free world at last?

You may argue that women and men are the same, so what difference would it make?

But, at the risk of being labeled a sexist pig, I have to disagree. Women and men are not the same.

I don’t mean that women are inferior. Throughout history women have clearly demonstrated their equality to men – and in some ways their superiority.

But they are clearly different. Not just physically but mentally and emotionally, too.

And, as the French say, vive la difference!

Women are less likely to become physically violent for one thing. Our prisons are mostly populated by men – including many who committed some violent crime.

And when I used to report on industrial initiatives in developing countries, I noticed that the workers creating the new economies were almost entirely women. I was told they were more reliable, more conscientious, more patient and more meticulous than their male counterparts.

I won’t parade my vast ignorance on the subject of hormones, but I suspect they have something to do with the difference.

It’s that testosterone thing, I imagine.

I don’t know why women have been – and still are – so oppressed in so many societies. And I can’t begin to explain why women are still underpaid and under appreciated in a society as supposedly advanced as America’s.

But I do know that men definitely have an edge in today’s America. This is a nation of male privilege.

So when Donald Trump says Hillary has nothing going for her but her gender, I would ask what he has going for him except his gender?

More on Trump and the “woman card”