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WHY SOME PEOPLE WON’T WEAR MASKS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on January 27, 2022 at 12:47 am

There are five reasons why millions of Americans refuse to wear masks during a deadly pandemic:

  1. A feeling of solidarity against authority.
  2. “If liberals do it, it’s fascistic.”
  3. Rejection of the death-toll caused by COVID-19.
  4. Disdain for education in general—and science in particular.
  5. Religious fanaticism.

To these must be added:

Sixth: Hypocrisy. Since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973, the Right has demanded that even women who are pregnant due to rape or incest carry the fetus to term.

Yet now that Right-wingers are being asked to wear masks in public—to protect themselves and others from a deadly plague—they’ve suddenly discovered the mantra: “It’s my body!”

Seventh: Identifying with Donald Trump. Trump has made it clear that his followers don’t wear masks. And they have fallen into line, refusing to mask up even in crowded, indoor arenas where infection is most likely.

The following states require their citizens to wear masks when in public: California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington.

The following states still refuse to order their citizens to wear masks when in public: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

Yet even in states where wearing a mask is mandatory when venturing out in public, many people refuse to do so. Fights have erupted before mask-less and mask-wearing customers—and sometimes store employees—who asked them to put on a mask before entering.

  • Two men were arrested for felony battery after starting a fight with employees at a Los Angeles Target store over wearing masks inside the store.
  • A woman entered Curbside Eatery in La Mesa, California, without a mask, pulling her T-shirt over her face. When the owner told her to mask up or leave, the woman yelled: “This is ridiculous! You’re discriminating against me!’ and threatened a lawsuit.
  • In a Costco in Fort Myers, Florida, a masked man asked an unmasked customer to wear a mask. The unmasked man screamed that he was being harassed: “I feel threatened!”

On February 2, 2021, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) required all airline travelers to wear masks. By December, the TSA had logged more than 4,100 mask-related air-rage incidents. 

Refer to the following caption.

So: How should those who refuse to wear a mask—and thus present a clear and present danger to others—be dealt with?

Ideally, President Joe Biden could issue a mandatory emergency order requiring everyone to wear a mask when in public. But the President lacks the legal authority to do so.

Governors, mayors and business owners should issue emergency orders mandating the wearing of masks in public. And these orders should be forcibly backed up by the following:

  • Stop stressing that a mask will protect others from “you.” Most people don’t care about strangers. Emphasize that wearing a mask will protect “you and your family” from others. 
  • Don’t give tickets to mask-evaders. They will simply ignore them—or consider them a cheap price for going without a mask. 
  • Major retailers should hire professional guards to arrest mask-evaders—and turn them over to police.
  • Police should arrest everyone not wearing a mask in public and jail them—without bond—until the plague is over. 
  • Create tip hotlines for reporting mask-evaders.
  • Offer rewards for tips that lead to arrests.
  • Police and prosecutors should publicize these arrests and jailings—to warn other potential mask-evaders.  
  • Arrest, prosecute and imprison Right-wingers who openly display and/or threaten unarmed civilians with firearms.
  • Above all: Stop admitting the unmasked and unvaccinated to hospitals. Forcing them to pay the price for their irresponsible behavior will end hospital overcrowding.

It was the failure of German police and courts to abort Right-wing violence during the Weimar Republic that led to even greater violence through the rise of Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party.

This is how United States authorities dealt with “Typhoid Mary” Mallon (September 23, 1869 – November 11, 1938).

What's The Harm?

Mary Mallon

An Irish-born cook, she was an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever and is believed to have infected 53 people, three of whom died. Because she persisted in working as a cook, she exposed others to the disease.

As a result, she was twice forcibly quarantined by authorities, and died after a total of nearly 30 years in isolation at Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island, in New York City.

Laws are useless if citizens believe they are unfairly or unpredictably enforced. As Niccolo Machiavelli warns in his classic work, The Discourses:

All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it. 

If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself. But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.

WHY SOME PEOPLE WON’T WEAR MASKS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on January 26, 2022 at 12:11 am

Not only did President Donald Trump refuse to wear a mask, but he suspected the loyalty of his staffers and Republican allies who didn’t follow his mask-less example.

On April 28, 2020, Vice President Mike Pence toured the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Pence, who led the White House task force on the virus, refused to wear a mask, even though all the officials and medical personnel clustered around him did. 

Pence even visited with a patient who had survived the Coronavirus and was going to give blood.

Pence lauds Minnesota's COVID-19 fight in Mayo Clinic visit

Mike Pence at the Mayo Clinic

Few White House aides wore masks, although they claimed that Trump hadn’t told them not to wear them. Some Republican allies asked Trump’s campaign how they would be seen by Trump if he saw them wearing a mask.

“It’s a vanity thing, I guess, with him,” Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, said. “You’d think, as the President of the United States, you would have the confidence to honor the guidance he’s giving the country.”

By refusing to wear a mask, Trump convinced untold numbers of Americans—mostly Right-wing males—that ignoring the dangers of Coronavirus was the manly thing to do.

(On July 20, 2020, he tweeted an image of himself wearing a mask and called it “patriotic” to wear one. Hours later, however, he appeared without a mask at a fundraiser at the Trump International Hotel in Washington.)

Meanwhile, former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for President, often appeared in public wearing a mask. During a June 26 television interview he said that, if he were elected President, he would require wearing face masks in public to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. 

“The one thing we do know—these masks make a gigantic difference,” Biden said. “I would insist that everybody out in public be wearing that mask.”

Yet even in states such as California and New York, where this is required, many people still refuse to do so.  

From May 5 to May 12, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed 4,042 adults throughout the country on wearing masks. The agency found that 60.3% of respondents said they always wore a mask when out in public. Another 13.8% said they often wore a mask in public.

But 17.1% said they either rarely or never wore a mask in public.

The CDC found that women were more likely than men to say they always wore a mask in public.

CDC headquarters in Atlanta

There are several reasons why people refuse to wear masks.

First: A feeling of solidarity. According to David Abrams, a professor of social and behavioral sciences at NYU School of Global Public Health: People who don’t wear masks may see it as a sign of solidarity, as if they are taking a stand against authority.

Second: “If liberals do it, it’s fascistic.” Many mask protesters accuse those who wear masks of being fascists. This is a hallmark of Right-wing politics—accusing their opponents of being what they are themselves.

Third: They have utterly rejected the rising death-toll caused by the virus. They claim stories of such deaths are mere “fake news”—the term Trump uses to dismiss any news stories that highlight his mistakes and criminality. 

Fourth: Republicans disdain education in general—and science in particular. In March, 2020, an NBC News poll found that only 30% of Republicans said that they would actually listen to the advice of doctors to stay away from large, crowded areas to avoid Coronavirus

These are the same people who get their version of reality from Right-wing sources like Fox News Network and radio broadcaster Rush Limbaugh. 

Rush Limbaugh

On his March 27, 2020 show, Limbaugh dismissed Coronavirus as “the common cold,” then added: “We didn’t elect a president to defer to a bunch of health experts that we don’t know

“And how do we know they’re even health experts? Well, they wear white lab coats, and they’ve been in the job for a while, and they’re at the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and they’re at the NIH [National Institutes of Health] and they’re up, well—yeah, they’ve been there, and they are there.

“But has there been any job assessment for them? They’re just assumed to be the best because they’re in government. But, these are all kinds of things that I’ve been questioning.” 

In 2015, Limbaugh said: “Firsthand smoke takes 50 years to kill people, if it does. Not everybody that smokes gets cancer. Now, it’s true that everybody who smokes dies, but so does everyone who eats carrots.”

Six years later, on February 17, 2021, Limbaugh—a longtime and heavy cigar smoker—died from Stage Four lung cancer. 

Fifth: Religious Fanaticism. Many fundamentalist Christians believe that their faith in Jesus will protect them against COVID-19. They continue to attend services indoors in defiance of CDC warnings by meeting in large numbers indoors.

A female member of the Solid Red Rock Church in Monroe, Ohio, told CNN: “I wouldn’t be anywhere else. I’m covered in Jesus’ blood. I’m covered in Jesus’ blood.”

WHY SOME PEOPLE WON’T WEAR MASKS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on January 25, 2022 at 12:24 am

The United States is now two years into a deadly plague. More than 71.7 million Americans have become infected with COVID-19 and at least 868,000 have died.

Wearing a mask and “social distancing”—keeping at least six feet between yourself and others while in public—have been the Golden Rules urged by public health officials from the pandemic’s start.

And yet vast numbers of Americans still refuse to do either. Just as they refuse to get vaccinated, despite three vaccines now widely available.

Surgical Face Mask 50 Pack - Face Masks & Hand Sanitiser ...

Surgical mask

In the early weeks and months of the pandemic, cloth face masks weren’t universally endorsed, even by public health experts.

“One, we didn’t know whether they were actually helpful, and two, there was a lot of concern that if people were using medical masks then people like myself, were not going to have access to them,” said Dr. Craig Spencer, director of global health in emergency medicine at Columbia University Medical Center.

No less an authority than Dr. Anthony Fauci,  the country’s leading infectious disease expert, said in March, 2020, that “people should not be walking around with masks.”

Only in early June, 2020, did the World Health Organization (WHO) urge non-healthcare workers to mask up. The WHO advised people to don masks when social distancing was not possible, such as when visiting stores and using public transportation.

world-health-organisation-logo – definearth

According to Dr. Jeremy Faust, the change in attitudes toward masks should be seen as the nature of science, and not as a flaw.

“That is what experts, in fact, do. They don’t just have an opinion and stick to it,” said Faust, an emergency physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Massachusetts. “They actually let their opinions develop and evolve as better information becomes available.” 

Only in January, 2022, did the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge Americans to wear N95 masks—the most effective ones available.

In 2020, the CDC had urged Americans to not use N95s. The reason: They feared this would create a shortage of these masks for doctors, nurses and paramedics working closely with COVID patients.

N95 and Other Respirators | CDC

N95 mask

Scientists have learned, for example, that COVID-19 can be spread by those who show no symptom of the disease. And mounting evidence has proven that masks are essential for protecting people from the virus. 

Coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks—especially if large numbers of people are packed indoors. The danger goes up if the talker is shouting or singing loudly.

If not blocked by a face covering, the droplets can travel six to 13 feet, and can remain airborne for hours in some cases.

Researchers at Florida Atlantic University found that some masks were more effective than others. One study showed that well-fitted homemade masks with multiple layers of fabric, as well as off-the-shelf cone style masks, were the most effective in reducing droplet dispersal.

Bandannas turned out to be the least effective in reducing transmission.

SARS-CoV-2 without background.png

Coronavirus

So why do so many Americans refuse to wear a mask?

Start at the top: With Donald Trump, 45th President of the United States.

From the outset, Trump refused to wear a mask in public.

A colossal egotist, Trump is orange-skinned, morbidly obese and lacking a neck. Yet he still thinks of himself as dangerously handsome. And he fears that covering his face would diminish his power and appeal.

“Appearing to play it safe contradicts a core principle of masculinity: show no weakness,” wrote social sciences professor Peter Glick at Scientific American magazine. “Defying experts’ warnings about personal danger signals ‘I’m a tough guy, bring it on.’”

On May 21, 2020, Trump refused to wear a face mask as he toured a Ford facility in Michigan that was manufacturing ventilators and personal protective equipment. This violated the policies of the facility, the governor’s executive order and warnings from the state’s attorney general.

After a three-month nationwide “lockdown,” states began “reopening.” So Trump scheduled his first 2020 re-election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. 

It was held on June 20 at the BOK Center. Scientists had learned that Coronavirus is more likely to be transmitted indoors than outdoors, when masses of people are packed together, and when people are loudly talking—or, worse, shouting.

Masks were available for those who wanted them. But Trump made it clear that his supporters shouldn’t wear masks, as a sign of support for him. Photos of the rally show men and women densely packed together, with none of them wearing masks.

Trump rallies supporters in Wis. as Democrats debate in Iowa

A Trump rally

The Tulsa event was followed by another indoor rally in Phoenix on June 23. “Students for Trump” featured a packed crowd, with almost no one wearing masks. 

After staging COVID-spreading rallies at Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Phoenix, Arizona, Trump scheduled another one for July 3 at Mount Rushmore, in Keystone, South Dakota.

Such rallies had been put on hold since March, due to the issuing of stay-at-home orders across the country by states’ mayors and governors.

Health experts expressed fears about a large gathering during the Coronavirus pandemic. But South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem said people would “not be social distancing” during the celebration—nor required to wear masks.

NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI TO JOE BIDEN: “NICE GUYS FINISH LAST”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on January 18, 2022 at 12:08 am

President Joe Biden faces opposition not only from Republicans but Right-wing Democrats as well. 

One of these is West Virginia United States Senator Joe Manchin. 

On June 7, 2021, The PBS Newshour examined perhaps the foremost issue of our democracy: The For the People Act.

Since November 3, 2020, when former President Donald Trump lost the Presidential election, he has spread The Big Lie: That the election was “stolen” from him.

On the basis of that lie, Republicans in 47 states have introduced 361 bills to make it harder to vote.

As of June 21, 2021, 17 states enacted 28 new laws that restrict access to the vote. 

Among those states affected: Georgia, Iowa, Arkansas and Utah.

Georgia:

  • Bans giving food and water to voters in line;
  • Severely restricts mail ballot drop boxes;
  • Allows Right-wing groups to challenge the eligibility of an unlimited number of voters; and
  • Gives the GOP-controlled legislature sweeping powers over election administration.

Arizona:

  • Wants to add new requirements for casting a mail-in ballot and make it harder to receive one. 

Florida:

  • Intends to ban mail ballot drop boxes.

Michigan:

  • Republicans introduced eight bills adding new voter ID requirements for mail voting and forbidding election officials to send out absentee ballot request forms to voters.

Congressional Democrats have countered with the For the People Act.  Among its provisions:

  • Expand early voting and registration across the country in federal elections;
  • Block states from purging their rolls of voters;
  • End partisan gerrymandering;
  • Force large donors to disclose themselves publicly.

“It is something that is obviously very critical right now,” said  PBS Newshour Correspondent Lisa Desjardins. “We see rising in this country both sides talking about democracy and voting rights and what’s happening at this moment.

“[West Virginia United States Senator] Joe Manchin…would be the 50th vote that Democrats would have for this in the Senate. They have 49.

Senator Manchin.jpg

Joe Manchin

“And here’s what he said [on] why he opposed it: ‘I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy. And for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act.’

“Notable, he did not have any substantive problems with the bill that he raised. Instead, he said, the issue is there are no Republicans on board.” 

Manchin thus ignores the reality that Republicans will never be on board.

“This Manchin decision is a body blow to this legislation. It is not dead yet, but it is in real trouble. It’s unclear if, when [New York Senator] Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader [in the Senate] will bring it back up,” said Desjardins.

Many Democrats and political correspondents have speculated about Manchin’s motives for opposing this legislation.

Some believe he’s a Right-winger in Democrats’ clothing. Others think he wants to increase his clout on behalf of his state, West Virginia. 

Manchin’s motives, however, are not important. Eliminating his opposition is.

And the man who has the power to do this is President Joe Biden.

All that he needs to do is invite Manchin into the Oval Office for an off-the-record talk, which could open like this:

“Your state has two Coast Guard military bases. By this time next week, it will have only one—because I’m going to close down the other. You can also forget about those highway-repair projects you’re expecting to start. And I’ve been informed we have far too many post offices in West Virginia, considering its small population….”

Suddenly, Manchin would get the clear message: “Biden is the big dog on this block, not me.”

He would also grasp that his constituents would blame him, not Biden, for the resulting chaos and hardships they face from the upcoming closures. 

This is precisely how President Lyndon B. Johnson dealt with Congressional members who dared oppose his prized legislation. And it worked.

Joe Biden has spent 44 years in Washington, D.C.—as a United States Senator from Delaware from 1973 to 2009; and then as Vice President from 2009 to 2017.

But he seems to have never read Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous warning in The Prince:

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.jpg

Niccolo Machiavelli

For how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather learn to bring about his own ruin rather than his preservation.  A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must inevitably come to grief among so many who are not good. 

And therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.

Whatever his motives, Manchin is clearly willing to allow Republicans to suppress the voting rights of millions of non-Fascist Americans.

President Joe Biden now faces a moment of crisis: He can fight his enemies with the same ruthless tactics they routinely use–or face disaster.

Republicans are working to corrupt the democratic process to reinstall a proven criminal and traitor in the Oval Office.

This is no time to “fight” a party of Adolf Hitlers with the appeasement tactics of a Neville Chamberlain.

NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI TO JOE BIDEN: “NICE GUYS FINISH LAST”: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on January 17, 2022 at 12:12 am

Joseph Robinette Biden is fast approaching the one-year anniversary of his Inauguration as the 46th President of the United States. 

At 79, he has spent virtually his entire adult life in politics: As a United States Senator from Delaware (1973 – 2009); as Vice President of the United States (2009 – 2017); and now as President.

Yet for all of his decades of political experience, he seems to have never read the works of the man who has been called “the father of modern politics”—Niccolo Machiavelli.

Or, if he has, he has clearly learned nothing from them.

Consider Machiavelli’s advice for well-intentioned people like Biden in his classic work: The Prince:

“A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must inevitably come to grief among so many who are not good. And therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.”

Quote by Machiavelli: “Necessity is what impels men to take action ...

Niccolo Machiavelli

On November 3, 2020, Biden became President-elect of the United States by winning 81,283,495 votes, or 51.4% of the vote, compared to 74,223,755 votes, or 46.9% of the vote cast for President Donald Trump.

In the Electoral College—which actually determines the winner—the results were even more stunning: 306 votes for Biden, compared with 232 for Trump. It takes 270 votes to be declared the victor. 

Yet, on December 8,  Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Missouri United States Senator Roy Blunt joined House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy in blocking a resolution asserting that Joe Biden was the President-elect of the United States.

Mitch McConnell portrait 2016.jpg

Mitch McConnell

And for more than a year since the 2020 Presidential election, the vast majority of Republicans have continued to charge that Biden gained office by massive voter fraud—and thus is an illegitimate President. 

Yet Biden continues to refer to his sworn enemies as “my Republican friends.”

As Achilles scornfully tells the soon-to-be-doomed Hector in the 2004 movie, “Troy”: “There can be no pacts between wolves and men.”

Joe Biden's Next Big Decision: Choosing A Running Mate | Voice of America - English

Joe Biden

Machiavelli’s advice: 

From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved. The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved. 

For it may be said of men in general that they are ungrateful, voluble, dissemblers, anxious to avoid danger and covetous of gain; as long as you benefit them, they are entirely yours: they offer you their blood, their goods, their life and their children, when the necessity is remote, but when it approaches, they revolt. 

And the prince who has relied solely on their words, without making other preparations, is ruined; for the friendship which is gained by purchase and not through grandeur and nobility of spirit is bought but not secured, and at a pinch is not to be expended in your service. 

And men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared; for love is held by a chain of obligations which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.

With that in mind, Biden should go directly after McConnell himself.

Option #1: A May 8, 2018 story in The Dallas Morning News spotlights “How Putin’s Oligarchs Funneled Millions into GOP Campaigns.” In 2016, Len Blavatnik gave $1 million to McConnell’s Senate Leadership Fund. 

In 2017, Blavatnik gave another $1 million to the fund, and then another $3.5 million to a Political Action Committee associated with McConnell.

A serious investigation by the Justice Department could lead to McConnell’s indictment—for bribery or other campaign finance violations.

Option #2: According to an April 15, 2020 story in Courier: “Here’s How Much McConnell Got From Big Pharma After Nixing a Bill to Lower Drug Prices”:

“Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced in September that he would block any consideration of a bill to lower prescription drug costs. By the end of December, he had raked in more than $50,000 in contributions from political action committees and individuals tied to the pharmaceutical industry.”

McConnell could be investigated—and possibly indicted—for bribery.

Even if McConnell escaped prison, such a prosecution would dramatically inform Republicans that a new era of accountability had arrived.

Option #3: As President, Biden could divert Federal projects from McConnell’s Kentucky—and other Republican states.

President Lyndon Johnson successfully employed this tactic to keep Republican—and Democratic—troublemakers in line. Once they saw projects for roads, post offices and other Federal amenities disappearing from their districts, they quickly got the message as to who was in charge.

Option 4: McConnell has blamed Biden for the slowing COVID-19 vaccination rate among Americans.

Biden could attack Republicans for promoting lies about the safety of COVID vaccines—and for opposing mask and vaccine mandates. He could blame the worsening Omicrom epidemic—and its resulting deaths—on anti-vaxxers, thus putting them and their Republican supporters on the defensive.

Above all, Biden should constantly remember: For Republicans, the mathematics of power come down to this: Who/Whom. 

Or: Who can do What to Whom? 

THE ROTTEN DAUGHTER DOESN’T FALL FAR FROM THE ROTTEN FATHER: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on January 13, 2022 at 12:15 am

Mylan Pharmaceuticals CEO Heather Manchin-Bresch is on a roll.  

  • The daughter of United States Senator Joe Manchin (R-West Virginia), she has, since 2004, hiked the price of a life-saving EpiPen from $50 to $600 to $700 for a package of two.
  • Her own salary has steadily risen more than 600% to $18,509,300 a year.
  • The device now accounts for 40% of Mylan’s profits.  

But in playing greed-based games with the lives of millions of Americans, Manchin-Bresch, 52, may have put her company—and even herself—in jeopardy.    

Related image

Heather Manchin-Bresch

EpiPens have been mandatory for public schools in at least 11 states since Congress passed the 2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. This occurred after Mylan spent $4 million lobbying Congress.  

When the lives of their children are threatened, adults who can stoically accept the inevitability of their own deaths can become dangerously emotional about the fates of their sons or daughters.

As national news media spread the word of Mylan’s unconscionable price increases, American consumers are making their rage increasingly known.

There are three ways this could be expressed: Political, Legal, and Illegal.  

Political: Minnesota U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has called for an official investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) into the price hikes:

Related image

Senator Amy Klobuchar

“I write to request the Federal Trade Commission investigate whether Mylan Pharmaceuticals has violated the antitrust laws regarding the sale of its epinephrine auto-injector, EpiPen. Many Americans, including my own daughter, rely on this life-saving product to treat severe allergic reactions.  

“Although the antitrust laws do not prohibit price gouging, regardless of how unseemly it may be, they do prohibit the use of unreasonable restraints of trade to facilitate or protect a price increase.” 

Other Senators who have called for hearings include Iowa’s Charles Grassley, Connecticut’s Richard Blumenthal and former Democratic presidential contender Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. 

“I have heard from one father in Iowa who recently purchased a refill of his daughter’s EpiPen prescription. He reported that to fill the prescription, he had to pay over $500 for one EpiPen,” wrote Grassley to Manchin-Bresch. “The high cost has also caused some first responders to consider making their own kits with epinephrine vials and syringes.”

Related image

Senator Charles Grassley

“There’s no reason an EpiPen, which costs Mylan just a few dollars to make, should cost families more than $600,” tweeted Sanders on Twitter.

A second expression of political fallout could ultimately be the adoption of a single-payer healthcare system. Under this, a “single-payer” fund, rather than private insurers, pays for healthcare costs. The healthcare delivery system can be private, public or a combination of the two.  

Legal: Individual Americans—and/or the U.S. Department of Justice—could file civil lawsuits against Mylan Pharmaceuticals under the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.  

Passed by Congress in 1970 to combat the Mafia, its provisions include punishments for extortion. This is defined as “a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person(s), entity, or institution, through coercion.”  

It could be argued that, by holding a near-monopoly over a product that millions of Americans depend on for survival, and raising its price beyond the ability of most Americans to afford it, Mylan has engaged in extortionate practices.  

It would not be the first time a David-vs.-Goliath lawsuit prevailed against dismal expectations.  

In 1994, amid great pessimism, Mississippi Attorney General Mike Moore filed a lawsuit against the tobacco industry. But other states soon followed, ultimately growing to 46.  

Their goal: To seek monetary, equitable and injunctive relief under various consumer-protection and anti-trust laws.

The theory underlying these lawsuits: Cigarettes produced by the tobacco industry created health problems among the population, which badly strained the states’ public healthcare systems.

In 1998, the states settled their Medicaid lawsuits against the tobacco industry for recovery of their tobacco-related, health-care costs—amounting to millions of dollars. In return, they exempted the companies from private lawsuits for tobacco-related injuries.

Illegal:  At one time, business titans like John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford lived apart from “the common herd.” Americans read about them in newspapers or heard about them on the radio, but had no way of contacting them directly.  

If you wanted to “dig up dirt” on any of them, you had to be wealthy enough to hire private detectives–who were probably employed by the same people you wanted to investigate.  

But the rise of the Internet—and especially the advent of “people-finder” websites like Instant Checkmate, Intellius and Veromi—has drastically changed all that.  

Type “Heather Manchin-Bresch” into the Intellius “Confidential People Finder” subject line, and—for a $20 month’s subscription—you can obtain “some or all of the following”:  

  • Full Name
  • Age and Date of Birth
  • Address
  • Address History
  • Phone Numbers
  • Aliases
  • Relatives
  • Neighbors
  • Email Address(es)
  • Social Networks
  • Property Records
  • Marriages & Divorces
  • Criminal Records
  • Bankruptcies
  • Liens
  • Judgments
  • Lawsuits

It doesn’t take a genius to see how the parent of an allergy-suffering child—desperate to save his son or daughter and enraged at what he believes to be the extortionately high price of EpiPens—might put such information to use.  

What is truly astonishing is that, in our publicity-saturated culture, greedy, self-destructive “celebrities” like Heather Manchin-Bresch don’t realize this.  

THE ROTTEN DAUGHTER DOESN’T FALL FAR FROM THE ROTTEN FATHER: PART ONE (OF TWO)

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

More than 500 years ago, Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern politics, delivered this sage advice in his political masterwork, The Discourses:

All those who have written upon civil institutions demonstrate…that whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it.

If their evil disposition remains concealed for a time, it must be attributed to some unknown reason; and we must assume that it lacked occasion to show itself.  But time, which has been said to be the father of all truth, does not fail to bring it to light.  

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Niccolo Machiavelli

Unfortunately, it’s advice that members of the United States Congress have blissfully chosen to ignore. By doing so, they have condemned millions of Americans to suffering and death at the hands of greed-based, predatory corporations.  

One of these corporations is Mylan Pharmaceuticals.  

In 2007, Mylan acquired the patent for the EpiPen, a lifesaving device for anyone allergic to common foods like peanuts, shellfish and eggs. Millions of people with life-threatening allergies depend on the EpiPen for survival.  

During an allergy attack, the EpiPen injects an emergency dosage of epinephrine to the user, preventing a possibly fatal reaction, known as anaphylaxis, from occurring. 

Between 2007 and 2015, the wholesale price of an EpiPen skyrocketed from $56.64 to $300 to $645 for an EpiPen 2-Pak—an increase of 461%.

It costs about $8 to make such a pack.

According to NBC News, compensation for Mylan CEO Heather Bresch similarly skyrocketed during the same period: From $2,453,456 in 2007 to $18,931,068 in 2015—a 671% raise in eight years.

Bresch is the daughter of West Virginia United States Senator Joe Manchin—who recently killed the chance for passage of President Joe Biden’s “Build Back Better” bill. Among its benefits: 

  • Universal preschool
  • Free community college
  • Lower prescription drug costs
  • Expanded Medicare and Medicaid services 
  • Requiring utility companies to phase in renewable energy to replace fossil fuels.

Manchin—who owns a yacht and drives a Maserati—suggested that parents would use Child Tax Credits to buy drugs.

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Manchin-Bresch wasn’t the only one to profit at the expense of the most vulnerable. 

Between 2007 and 2015, Mylan’s stock price tripled, going from $13.29 per share in 2007 to a high of $47.59 in 2016. By late August, 2016, Mylan’s stock was hovering around $45.68 per share on the NASDAQ index.

Bloomberg states that the EpiPen now accounts for about 40% of Mylan’s profits. 

Ironically, Sheldon Kaplan, the man who invented the now-famous device, never made a dime off it, and died in obscurity.  

After working at NASA, Kaplan worked for Survival Technology, Inc., in Bethesda, Maryland. 

In 1973, the Defense Department asked him to design a device that could quickly inject an antidote for nerve gas.

Kaplan’s design perfectly fitted this need: When a victim plunged a needle into his thigh, a spring-loaded mechanism shot a needle containing life-saving medicine into his bloodstream. 

Kaplan’s invention became known as the ComboPen, and was initially used by the Pentagon before becoming available for use by the general public several years later as the EpiPen. 

Kaplan left Survival Technology shortly after creating the ComboPen to become a biochemical engineer. He didn’t follow the success of his invention—and didn’t reap any of the huge financial rewards that it has produced.  

That has certainly not been true for Mylan Pharmaceuticals.

After cornering the patent on the EpiPen in 2007, the company has made billions on the life-saving device. 

According to Bloomberg, a package of two EpiPens costs $415 in the United States after insurance discounts. The same package in France–which has price controls under socialized medicine–costs $85.  

The chief beneficiary of this legalized price-gouging has been Mylan’s CEO, Heather Manchini-Bresch.

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Heather Manchin-Bresch

She joined Mylan in 1992 and held various positions within the company.  Among these: Its chief lobbyist before Congress.  

It was in that capacity that she persuaded Congress to enact a bill requiring all public schools to carry EpiPens for students with food allergies. It was signed into law by President Barack Obama in November, 2013.

Over the next three years, schools nationwide bought EpiPens by the truckload. And Mylan jacked up its prices for the EpiPen every other quarter. 

On January 1, 2012, Heather Manchin-Bresch became Mylan’s CEO.

But it wasn’t enough to have a monopoly on a device millions of men, women and children desperately needed. In 2014, true to its “profits-at-any-price” philosophy, Mylan reincorporated in the Netherlands to lower its effective tax rate.

It did so through a corporate accounting trick known as a tax inversion, and thus claiming the status of a foreign-owned corporation although its headquarters remained in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.

Even her own father, U..S. Senator Joseph Manchin, condemned Mylan’s use of the inversion scheme and said it should be illegal.  

But Manchin-Bresch fiercely defended it in an interview with the New York Times: “You can’t maintain competitiveness by staying at a competitive disadvantage. I mean you just can’t.”

No doubt, with her CEO salary of $18,509,300 a year and moneyed ties to high-powered attorneys and influential members of Congress, Bresch thinks herself invulnerable.

But all that could quickly change—if even a small number of her victims become angry enough.  

PREVENTING THE COMING DICTATORSHIP: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 6, 2022 at 12:12 am

On January 6, 2021, thousands of Right-wing Donald Trump supporters—many of them armed—stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

After overwhelming the Capitol Police force, they damaged and occupied parts of the building for several hours. Legislators huddled fearfully while National Guard units from several states finally evicted the insurrectionists.  

The Capitol attack marked the first time in American history when a defeated Presidential candidate violently sought to remain in office.

It may also mark a desperately-needed change in the priorities of American law enforcement, which has traditionally focused on Left-wingers—and especially blacks—as the country’s mortal enemies.

Option 2: The Justice Department could begin waging all-out war on Right-wing militia groups planning to unleash violence in 2024. 

Numerous commentators have noted the contrast between the tepid police response to the Capitol attack by white Right-wingers and the brutal crackdown on peaceful liberal blacks protesting the murder of George Floyd in Washington D.C. on June 1, 2020.

U.S. Park Police and National Guard troops used tear gas, rubber bullets, flash-bang grenades, horses, shields and batons to clear protesters from Lafayette Square—so Trump could stage a photo-op at St. John’s Episcopal Church. 

After 9/11, American law enforcement and Intelligence agencies initiated major reforms to focus on Islamic terrorism.

A similar reform effort, focusing on Right-wing terrorism, could include the following:

  • The FBI’s designating Right-wing political and terrorist groups as the Nation’s #1 enemy.  
  • Reviving the FBI’s legendary COINTELPRO (“Counterintelligence Program”) that destroyed the Ku Klux Klan in the late 1960s. Among the methods that can be used:  
  • Turning the Bureau’s powerful arsenal—bugs, wiretaps, informants, SWAT teams—on them.
  • Buying the cooperation of informants within Right-wing organizations.
  • Conducting “black bag jobs” to steal membership lists of of Right-wing organizations.
  • Breaking up the marriages of prominent Right-wingers by circulating rumors of their infidelity among their wives.
  • Informing the employers of known Right-wing terrorists of their employees’ criminal activity, resulting in the firing of untold numbers of them.
  • Contacting the news media to publicize the arrests of prominent Right-wing leaders.
  • When Right-wing terrorists target Federal law enforcement agents and/or their families for harassment or worse, they can be targeted for similar intimidation or removal.

FBI SWAT Team Training - YouTube

FBI SWAT member

A revised COINTELPRO could be supplemented by the following: 

  • Creating tip hotlines for reporting illegal Right-wing activities—and offering rewards for information that leads to arrests.
  • Prosecuting militia groups for violating Federal firearms laws. 
  • Treating calls for the murder of members of Congress—as Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has done—as felonies punishable by lengthy imprisonment.
  • Prosecuting Right-wing leaders involved in the treasonous assault on the United States Capitol Building.
  • Prosecuting as “accessories to treason” all those Republican members of Congress who stoked Right-wing anger by lying that the 2020 Presidential election had been stolen from Donald Trump, although every objective news source proved he had lost.
  • Directing the Treasury Department’s Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) at fundamentalist Christian churches that finance Right-wing terrorism-–just as it halts the financing of Islamic terrorist groups by Islamic organizations.

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  • Using drones, planes and/or helicopters to provide security against similar Right-wing terror demonstrations—especially in Washington, D.C.
  • Using the Federal Communications Commission to ban Fox News—the Nation’s #1 Right-wing propaganda network—from representing itself as a legitimate news network, and requiring that its stories carry labels warning viewers: “This is Right-wing propaganda, NOT news.”
  • Encouraging victims of Right-wing hate-speech to file libel/slander lawsuits against their abusers—such as the parents of murdered children at Sandy Hook Elementary School successfully did against Alex Jones. 
  • Using Federal anti-terrorist laws to arrest, prosecute and imprison Right-wingers who openly carry firearms and threaten violence, even if states allow such display of firearms. 
  • Seizing the assets of individuals and organizations found guilty of Right-wing terrorism offenses. 

Option 3: The “Caligula Solution.” 

Like Donald Trump, the Roman emperor Gaius Caligula delighted in humiliating others. His fatal mistake was taunting Cassius Chaerea, a member of his own bodyguard. 

On January 22 41 A.D. Chaerea and several other bodyguards hacked Caligula to death with swords before other guards could save him.

Trump has similarly behaved arrogantly toward his Secret Service guards.

  • He forced them to work without pay during his 35-day government shutdown in 2018.
  • He also forced them to accompany him to COVID-infected states—both during the Presidential campaign and afterward.
  • Many of them have been stricken with this often lethal disease as a result.

Even as an ex-President, Trump continues to insult anyone who challenges him. This includes not only Democrats but Republicans he feels don’t pay him sufficient homage—or, worse, dare to oppose him for the party’s 2024 Presidential nomination.

At the same time, he publicly exposes himself to a potential assassin virtually every day. And the mere presence of bodyguards is no guarantee against assassination. 

Presidential candidate George C. Wallace was shot and paralyzed by a gunman while mingling with supporters in a Maryland shopping center in 1972. And President Ronald Reagan was shot and almost killed in 1981 while walking to his bulletproof limousine in Washington, D.C.

Both men were under protection by the U.S. Secret Service at the time. 

PREVENTING THE COMING DICTATORSHIP: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Social commentary on January 5, 2022 at 12:16 am

Can a Republican coup—or a Republican-inspired civil war—be prevented? 

In theory, yes—if the administration of President Joseph Biden is willing to use the same methods America has applied against foreign enemies.

Option 1: The Justice Department could wage all-out war on state and Federal Republican politicians plotting to subvert American democracy. 

By December 14, 2021—11 months after the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol—more than 726 Stormtrumper rioters had been arrested and charged.

Yet no major Donald Trump supporter has been arrested, let alone criminally indicted.

  • NOT Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who cried to the demonstrators, “Let’s have trial by combat!”
  • NOT Donald Trump, Jr., who, just hours before the Trump mob stormed Congress, threatened Republican lawmakers at a large rally outside the White House: “These guys better fight for Trump. Because if they’re not, guess what? I’m going to be in your backyard in a couple of months!”
  • And, above all, NOT Donald Trump. He not only incited his followers to attack the Capitol, he has spent the last year spreading poisonous lies that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him through “massive” voter fraud. As a result, he continues to undermine the democratic process as he terrorizes the Republican party to stand behind him.

Had anyone but a President orchestrated such an attack on Congress, the Justice Department would have come down on him with a vengeance. 

Obstructing Congressional or administrative proceedings is a Federal offense. According to 18 U.S.C 1505: It’s a felony, punishable by imprisonment of five to eight years if domestic or international terrorism is involved.

Before a prosecution can be initiated, three essential conditions must be met:

  1. There must be a proceeding pending before a department or agency of the United States.
  2. The defendant must know that a proceeding was occurring.
  3. S/he must have intentionally tried to “corruptly” influence, obstruct or impede the pending proceeding.

Every one of the men and women who stormed the Capitol Building stands guilty of violating U.S.C. 1505.

And so do those who egged them on—such as Missouri Rep. Mo Brooks and Missouri Senator Josh Hawley.

Still other Republican Congressional members played a coup-supporting role in trying to overturn the results of a legitimate Presidential election.

Hours after the Capitol attack, 147 Republicans who hid during the attempted coup returned to the House and Senate floors and voted just as Trump wanted them to: To overturn the election results in his favor, based on lies about widespread voter fraud.

The Justice Department could charge every one of these Congressional members as an accessory to terrorism under the USA Patriot Act for “activities that…appear to be intended…to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion [and]…occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.”

United States Department of Justice

Had this happened early in 2021—by March or April at the latest—this would have sent a message that even the most ardent Trump supporters would have understood.

In addition, this would have deprived Republicans of the numerical power to obstruct the legislative agenda of the Joseph Biden administration.

Those members indicted would have been forced to spend most of their time strategizing with their attorneys to stay out of prison. They would have been forced to pony up huge legal fees—which would have had to come from funds intended for re-election campaigns.

(Contrary to popular belief, indictment—or even a felony conviction—of a member of Congress does not force him to vacate his seat.)

Option 2: The Justice Department could begin waging all-out war on Right-wing militia groups planning to unleash violence in 2024. 

According to American political scientist George Michael: “Right-wing terrorism and violence has a long history in America.”

The Supreme Court’s decision, in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), striking down segregated facilities, unleashed a wave of Ku Klux Klan violence against blacks, civil rights activists and Jews. Between 1956 and 1963, an estimated 130 bombings ravaged the South. 

File:KKK-Flag.svg - Wikimedia Commons

Ku Klux Klan flag

During the 1980s, more than 75 Right-wing extremists were prosecuted in the United States for acts of terrorism, carrying out six attacks.

The April 19, 1995 attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols killed 168 people. It was the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in the history of the United States until 9/11.

By 2020, Right-wing terrorism accounted for the majority of terrorist attacks and plots in the United States. A 2017 Government Accountability Office report stated that Right-wing extremist groups were responsible for 73% of violent extremist incidents resulting in deaths since September 12, 2001.

Right-wing violence rose sharply during the Barack Obama administration and especially during the Presidency of Donald Trump. His remark after the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that there were “some very fine people on both sides” convinced white supremacists that he favored their goals, if not their methods.

On January 6, 2021, thousands of Right-wing Donald Trump supporters—many of them armed—stormed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Congress Under Attack, Trump Supporters Enter Capitol Building - YouTube

Their goal: To stop members of Congress from counting Electoral Votes cast in the 2020 Presidential election, from which former Vice President Joseph R. Biden was expected to emerge the winner. 

PREVENTING THE COMING DICTATORSHIP: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 4, 2022 at 12:54 am

“For more than a year now, with tacit and explicit support from their party’s national leaders, state Republican operatives have been building an apparatus of election theft. Elected officials in Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and other states have studied Donald Trump’s crusade to overturn the 2020 election.”

So opened a frightening, December 9, 2021 article in The Atlantic: “Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun.” 

Wrote Barton Gellman:    

“They have noted the points of failure and have taken concrete steps to avoid failure next time. Some of them have rewritten statutes to seize partisan control of decisions about which ballots to count and which to discard, which results to certify and which to reject.

“They are driving out or stripping power from election officials who refused to go along with the plot last November, aiming to replace them with exponents of the Big Lie. They are fine-tuning a legal argument that purports to allow state legislators to override the choice of the voters.”

Can this be pre-empted?  

In theory, yes—provided those in the administration of President Joseph Biden are willing to use the same methods America has applied against foreign enemies.

Option 1: The Justice Department could wage all-out war on state and Federal Republican politicians plotting to subvert American democracy.  

Seal of the United States Department of Justice.svg

Seal of the Justice Department

The place to start would be with former President Donald Trump. 

On January 6, 2021, he incited—on TV—thousands of his fanatical supporters to storm the United States Capitol Building where Electoral College votes in the 2020 Presidential election were being counted.  

Trump knew that former Vice President Joseph Biden had received more Electoral College votes than he had—306 to 232. 

And he wanted that vote-count stopped—thus allowing him to remain in office as “President-for-Life.”

For weeks Trump had ordered his legions of Right-wing Stormtrumpers to descend on Washington, D.C. on January 6. 

On December 20, 2020, he had tweeted: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” 

In tweets, he promoted the rally again on December 27 and 30, and January 1.

Thus, through his lies, he had aroused the fury of his Right-wing supporters.

It would take only his command to send it hurtling at his perceived enemies: Those who would dare elect Joseph Biden in his place.

Melania Trump 'disappointed' by Trump supporters' Capitol riot - ABC7 Chicago

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

On January 6, Trump appeared at the Ellipse, a 52-acre park south of the White House fence and north of Constitution Avenue and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

A stage had been set up for him to address tens of thousands of his supporters, who eagerly awaited him. NEXT UP: How the Justice Department can prosecute Trump-supporting Republican politicians.  

Trump ordered them to march on the Capitol building to express their anger at the voting process and to intimidate their elected officials to reject the results: 

“And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.

“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated.”

The Stormtrumpers marched to the United States Capitol—and quickly overwhelmed Capitol Police.

  • Members of the mob attacked police with chemical agents or lead pipes. 
  • Many  of  the  lawmakers’  office buildings were occupied  and  vandalized—including  that  of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.
  • Shouts of “Hang Pence!” and “Hang Pelosi!” often rang out. 
  • According to CBS News, more than 150 officers were injured in the attack.
  • Several rioters carried plastic handcuffs, possibly intending to take hostages.
  • Others carried treasonous Confederate flags.  

These are some of the high-profile figures who were seen storming the US Capitol

Stormtrumpers scaling Capitol Building walls

After more than three hours, police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. 

And Trump?  After giving his inflammatory speech, he returned to the White House to watch his handiwork on television. Although he received multiple pleas to publicly call for his supporter to stand down, he refused to do so.

Eleven months later—by December 14—more than 726 Stormtrumper rioters had been arrested and charged.

Yet no major Trump supporter has been arrested, let alone indicted.

  • NOT Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, who cried to the demonstrators, “Let’s have trial by combat!”
  • NOT Donald Trump, Jr., who, just hours before the Trump mob stormed Congress, threatened Republican lawmakers at a large rally outside the White House: “These guys better fight for Trump. Because if they’re not, guess what? I’m going to be in your backyard in a couple of months!”
  • And, above all, NOT Donald Trump. He not only incited his followers to attack the Capitol, he has spent the last year spreading poisonous lies that the 2020 election was “stolen” from him through “massive” voter fraud. To this day, he continues to undermine the democratic process as he terrorizes the Republican party to stand behind him.

NEXT UP: How to prosecute Trump-supporting Republican politicians.  

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