Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Je Suis Belge

Terrible news from Belgium this morning.

We lived in Belgium for three years and have many friends there.

Good people.

The airport at Zaventem near Brussels was our closest international airport. Went in and out of Zaventem many times.

We also lived for a year in Paris. Bad times there as well.

By the way, Belgium is not a stranger to terrorism. In 1979, General Alexander Haig was completing a five-year stint as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. He was driven each day from his Chateau to his office at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) at very high speed along a route that varied from day to day among a small number of fixed routes. His last day in office was to be June 25, 1979. A group of assassins positioned a bomb along one of the routes and waited patiently for the general to select that route. On June 25, Haig unknowingly selected the route with the bomb. His staff car, traveling at very high speed along narrow Belgian roads, followed closely by a car full of body guards, crossed over a bridge with a land mine. The mine was detonated just after the rear tires crossed over the mine. General Haig's car sped away undamaged, but the chase car crashed into the crater, wounding three of Haig's bodyguards.

The general's only business that day was to deliver a farewell address to the officers on the SHAPE staff. As he stepped up to the podium, he announced: "I can't tell you how glad I am to be here today!" The assembled officers roared with laughter.

Authorities later attributed responsibility for the attack to the Red Army Faction (RAF). In 1993 a German Court sentenced Rolf Clemens Wagner, a former RAF member, to life imprisonment for the assassination attempt.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Precursors to Trump

The first election I remember is 1948. Republicans were certain of victory. President Truman was not as popular as Roosevelt had been. The country had had a Democratic party president since 1932. The Democratic party had split into three parts: (1) the Democratic Party (which dominated in the South and was the party of white supremacy); (2) the Progressive Party, headed by former Vice President Henry Wallace of Iowa; (3) the State's Rights Party headed by Strom Thurmond of South Carolina.

The deck seemed stacked against Truman.

But Truman ran a very vigorous and effective campaign while the Republican Dewey played it safe.

Not only did Truman win the presidential election, the Democratic Party regained control of both houses of Congress.

This outcome shocked the leadership of the Republican party.

I don't remember any charges that the Democrats had stolen the election.

Republicans addressed the issue of how they could have lost a sure thing.

Across the South, beginning in Virginia in 1950, Republicans began recruiting white supremacists from the Democrats. They believed it was their only chance.

They went after the young folks. By 1954, they were using charges of corruption to enhance their recruitment efforts. Even so, it was clear that it was not corruption, but racial concerns that formed the basis of Republican recruitment.

Then came the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Recruitment of white supremacist Democrats stepped up an has not diminished to this day.

Donald Trump and his staff understand this.

The Republicans have long since become the White Supremacist Party.