The Weapon Called Nerve Gas

The Weapon Called Nerve Gas
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

On March 4, former Russian military intelligence specialist Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with nerve gas while in the midst of normal activity in the English city of Salisbury. Both were rushed to a hospital where they were found to be gravely ill. The incident led to widespread condemnations of Russia and its president Vladimir Putin. Both victims of the attack eventually recovered after weeks of care in a British hospital.

US Navy gas mask exercise. Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Two weeks after the attack, England’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson concluded that Putin himself had ordered the attempted murder. He relied on knowledge of past acts of retribution delivered to former Russian officials who had become critics of Russian policies and leaders. In rather blunt terms, Johnson stated: “Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin and with his decision – and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision – to direct the use of nerve gas on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe for the first time since the Second World War.” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov immediately countered Johnson’s condemnation of Russia and its president as “a shocking, unforgivable breach of diplomatic proprieties.”

At the United Nations, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley joined in the condemnations of Russia with a statement delivered to the Security Council: “If we don’t take concrete measures to address this now, Salisbury will not be the last place we see chemical weapons used. They could be used here in New York, or in cities of any country that sits on this Council. This is a defining moment.”

Britain expelled numerous Russian diplomats and so did the United States. Russia responded by expelling American and British officials. The incident clearly interrupted a recent trend marked by peaceful, even friendly, exchanges between Russia and the West. But it also brought back memories of the 2006 assassination of Alexander Litvinenko in Britain. A former Russian intelligence expert, he had defected to the West and was living in Great Britain when he became ill and died soon after ingesting tea laden with radioactive polonium. Other defectors from Russia have suffered and died as a result of similarly suspicious events.

Skripal had served Russia for years as a military intelligence colonel. Convicted in 2006 of selling secret information to British authorities, he spent several years in a Russian prison but was then sent to Britain in 2010 as part of an exchange of spies. He chose to live in Salisbury where he seemed to have steered clear of any further government intrigue.

In Russia, commentator Kirill Kleimenov issued a blunt warning over government-controlled Channel One television. He calmly stated: “Being a traitor is one of the dangerous professions in the world. Alcoholism, drugs, stress, nervous breakdowns, and depression are inevitable illnesses of a traitor. As a consequence, heart attacks, strokes, traffic accidents, or suicide ultimately follow.” Statements such as his issued by Russia’s prominent media figures have the undeniable aura of government policy.

While no hard proof of Russia’s attack on the Skripals has emerged, the likelihood that President Putin or his close underlings are responsible is widely believed. Putin, it should be recalled, was the head of the dreaded KGB before succeeding in becoming his nation’s leader. He would know how to respond to critics who are deemed traitors.

Western leaders, certainly including U.S. President Donald Trump, should keep the Russian leader’s past, as well as his present, in mind when dealing with him. Leopards don’t change their spots and expecting former KGB bosses to become honorable is likely expecting what can’t be reality.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Judicial Appointments

Judicial Appointments
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

There are approximately 150 federal district and appeals court vacancies in the nation. Although President Trump has appointed and gained Senate approval for more than two dozen justices, the number of vacancies has risen. A few weeks ago, Mr. Trump made note of the many holes in the judicial branch while promising speedy action to deal with the problem.

US Supreme Court, Image from Wikimedia Commons by UpstateNYer (Matt H. Wade), CC BY-SA 3.0.

In mid-March, Mr. Trump discussed his opportunity to reshape U.S. courts when he told a gathering of Ohio supporters of his intention to make good appointments. “We’re going all out,” he said. He described his opportunity to fill many vacant federal judicial posts as a “gift from heaven [that is] world-changing, country-changing, USA-changing.”

Especially needing attention are vacancies that have arisen in the San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Notorious for its damaging leftist rulings, the Ninth Circuit has jurisdiction over nine states: Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and California. Numerous Ninth Circuit rulings have bedeviled not only the nine states where this court holds sway but the entire nation has been affected. One of this court’s leading leftists, Judge Stephen Reinhardt, passed away on March 29. His vacant seat and seven more vacancies in the 29-member Ninth Circuit, present Mr. Trump with a golden opportunity to move the nation’s most activist and leftist court toward a more conservative and constitutional stance.

Nominating federal judges is, of course, only the first of two steps to have a new judge seated. The Senate must approve a nominee. In the past, senators could block a nomination via a filibuster that would take 60 votes to overcome – a difficult hurdle. But, during the Obama administration, the Senate weakened and effectively killed the filibuster process. Now only a majority will be needed to gain approval.

The Senate has also cancelled a process known as “blue slip” blockage of a judicial nominee. It allowed a senator to block approval of an appointee who resides in his or her state. A simple placing of a nominee’s name on a “blue slip” and presenting it to the Judiciary Committee Chairman was sufficient to kill nomination. But current Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) has announced that he will not honor the use of this practice by any senator who might wish to block approval of a particular nominee. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) had already stated her intention to issue a blue slip for any Trump nominee she finds objectionable. But the Grassley move will likely terminate permanently the issuance of the infamous blue slips.

Prospects for Mr. Trump to dramatically alter the stance of the notoriously leftist Ninth Circuit and other federal courts have raised concerns among California liberals. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky who leads the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law considered deceased Justice Reinhardt his ideological equal. He now sees future setbacks for liberal judicial dominance, especially in the Ninth Circuit. Chemerinsky has stated, “With a Republican Senate and no possibility of a filibuster, [Donald Trump] can have whoever he wants on the circuit court.” He expects a “dramatic change in the Ninth Circuit.”

President Trump has an opportunity to markedly improve adherence to the rule of law throughout the nation. He should be encouraged by many Americans to do so.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Martin Luther King Doesn’t Deserve Adulation

Martin Luther King Doesn’t Deserve Adulation
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Earlier this month, a flood of reminders about the death of Martin Luther King (shown on right) 50 years ago arrived, as all elements of the mass media told Americans about the anniversary of a gunman killing this paragon of virtue and bravery on April 4, 1968. The reports insisted that King was the nation’s most eminent apostle of nonviolence, a heroic advocate of peace in our nation’s racially turbulent era, and an exponent of all virtues. The truth is that King was a highly flawed individual whose actual strategy for change wasn’t peace. The strategy he relied on consisted mainly of a process he had learned from known communists, whose indisputable goal was the destruction of our nation.

Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a crowd. Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Mrs. Julia Brown, who went undercover for the FBI for more than nine years as a member of the Communist Party in Cleveland, Ohio, gives a testament to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s connection to the Communist Party:

I learned many surprising things while I served in the Communist Party for the FBI. Communist leaders told us about the demonstrations that would be started, the protest marches, the demands that would be made for massive federal intervention.

… Wherever we went and whatever we did, we were to promote race consciousness and resentment, because the Communists know that the technique of divide and conquer really works.

We were also told to promote Martin Luther King, to unite Negroes and whites behind him, and to turn him into some sort of national hero.

Because there were individuals who didn’t want their community disturbed by parades, demonstrations, and confrontations, they were easy to provoke, and King’s people did provoke them. As history has shown, King’s on-the-scene allies — often nonresidents of the targeted area — would frequently gather local individuals and provoke fistfights, head cracking, and other forms of violent behavior. In numerous instances, the King-led team supplied trained agitators to stir up the mayhem. (This, of course, does not excuse any violent behavior — whether provoked by MLK’s recruits or caused by genuine racists.) The goal of the manufactured turmoil was federal legislation imposing increasing amounts of government control over the entire nation.

With the help of dishonest media reporters who failed to report King’s strategy, new laws enhancing federal power were indeed enacted. King’s effectiveness in building socialistic government won him plaudits from left-wing politicians and lazy or complicit media stalwarts.

Soon, however, to stave off trouble, courageous black Americans began to arrive in targeted cities prior to the marches and demonstrations planned by King. They would explain King’s strategy to blacks and whites so well that the sought-after violence never materialized. Several communities in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia benefited greatly after the King strategy had been explained and the planned confrontations were called off. Julia Brown, Leonard Patterson, Lolabelle Holmes, and other patriotic black Americans told worried residents of the King-targeted regions — both black and white — what to expect and how to avoid violent protests that would ruin their communities and harm their residents. Their extremely effective warnings led to the cancellation of King’s plans in many areas.

King was no pacifist, rather he had received training from communist leaders at the subversive Highlander Folk School in Tennessee to sow discord. He accepted funding from several communist leaders and organizations, and no less a government official than Attorney General Robert Kennedy directed the FBI to create wiretaps and other forms of surveillance over King and his fellow agitators. Therefore, the federal government knew that King was being used by known and secret communists. But a 1977 court order sealed all that evidence of treachery in the National Archives.

When King’s plan to create civil rights riots was no longer working, he turned his attention to the Vietnam War, accusing our nation’s forces of wantonly killing “a million South Vietnamese civilians, mostly children.” He likened the efforts of America’s men in arms to what Hitler’s forces had done to innocent people before and during World War II. One made-up charge after another, no matter how ghastly, came out of the mouth of this supposed man of peace and honor.

He seemed dishonest to the core: Researchers of the early King years showed that he had earned his degree from Boston University via widespread plagiarism, and some who have examined his career have indicated that, far from being a man of God, he was a consistent philanderer who should have been scorned, not awarded an angelic reputation.

The truth about this man and his career will eventually be known. Even without unsealing the documents, enough is known about King to conclude that those who established a national holiday to honor him should themselves be scorned. Martin Luther King, an enemy of freedom and a seriously flawed individual, should never be lauded by anyone who understands the importance of truth.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Swamp Critter Chosen by Trump

Swamp Critter Chosen by Trump
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Donald Trump loves catchy phrases. Most Americans have heard him insist on the need to “Make America Great Again.” How to attain such a worthy goal doesn’t require a painstaking search. A return to what made our country great in the first place is all that’s necessary. That means strict adherence to the still standing U.S. Constitution.

John Bolton. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0.

The document governing the nation’s affairs since 1789 created strong brakes on government power and meddling. Decades of drifting away from the Constitution has led to an array of both domestic and foreign problems. Still, the Constitution is the blueprint that made our country the envy of the world. Sad to say, however, reliance on the venerable document hasn’t been the primary focus on the current president’s agenda, or that of his numerous predecessors.

More recently, Mr. Trump has decided that “Drain the Swamp” is a better crowd pleaser. To most Americans, the “swamp” consists of those who don’t have America’s best interest at heart. The president has taken a few steps toward lessening the effect of the swamp denizens, but they’re still around and more needs to be done to lessen their influence.

One who most would consider part of the “swamp” is John Bolton. But this man has just been tapped by Mr. Trump to be our nation’s newest national security adviser. It’s troubling as Bolton is the direct opposite of Mr. Trump’s early claim to be a non-interventionist.

Described by many as an experienced diplomat who served our nation as Ambassador to the United Nations, Bolton should be known as a neoconservative war monger anxious to force the rest of the world to bend to America’s will. His bellicose urgings kept him from gaining senate approval for the UN post given him by President George W. Bush. When the Senate turned thumbs down on that appointment, Bush waited until that body was no longer in session to award Bolton what is termed a “recess” appointment, a tainted award if ever there was one. Numerous senators from both political parties were wary of the man and he couldn’t win Senate confirmation so Bush gave it to him in a legal but underhanded way.

John Bolton has long been a member of the sovereignty-despising Council on Foreign Relations. It would be difficult to find anyone more committed to unnecessary war. He partnered in wanting a second war against Iraq after the lightning quick removal of Saddam Hussein’s forces from Kuwait in 2001. As a member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) dreamed up by neocons Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Abrams, Perle, and Armitage, he joined with his PNAC internationalists to have Iraq invaded again. After the first President Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992, these bellicose internationalists tried to get President Clinton to attack Iraq. But Bill had other concerns to deal with and other ideas about how to create the New World Order.

After Clinton’s eight years in office, Bolton called on President George W. Bush to wage preemptive war against Iran. He has lately insisted that our nation should conduct cyber warfare against Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and any other nation accused of this new form of warfare.

The Constitution isn’t being relied upon by the Trump administration. If it were guiding the President and his policymakers, America’s troops would be brought home from endless wars such as those in Afghanistan and Syria. There would be widespread closing down of U.S. military presence in the 130 nations where American troop contingents are currently posted.

But expecting John Bolton as the president’s national security adviser to change Washington’s reigning militarism is unrealistic. John Bolton should be scorned, not elevated to a very sensitive post.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.