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AN OPEN LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL MERRICK GARLAND: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 29, 2021 at 12:07 am

TO: Merrick Brian Garland – United States Attorney General

I hold the highest regard for your personal integrity.  Yet, with due regard for your years of dedicated service to the rule of law, I am forced to say: You are now presiding over the closing days of the American Republic.

On January 6, President Donald Trump incited a treasonous attack on the United States Capitol Building. There, the United States Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding, would certify states’ Electoral College results of that election.

Since former Vice President Joseph Biden had gotten 306 votes compared to 232 for Trump, the outcome was already known. And Trump, who had often “joked” about becoming “President-for-Life,” wanted that verdict overturned.

The Stormtrumpers marched to the United States Capitol—and quickly brushed aside Capitol Police, who made little effort to arrest or shoot them.

Among their outrages:

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

Stormtrumpers scaling Capitol Building walls

  • Several rioters carried plastic handcuffs, possibly intending to take hostages.
  • Others carried treasonous Confederate flags.
  • Shouts of “Hang Pence!” often rang out.
  • Improvised explosive devices were found in several locations in Washington, D.C.
  • Many of the lawmakers’ office buildings were occupied and vandalized—including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.

More than three hours passed before 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. He initially rebuffed requests to mobilize the National Guard. 

So what has happened during the eight months since that treasonous attack?

By September 24, 654 Stormtrumpers have been arrested and charged.

  • At least 74 defendants have pleaded guilty.
  • At least 22 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.
  • Six have pleaded guilty to felonies.
  • Three defendants have been sentenced: One drew a sentence of eight months for a felony. Two were sentenced for misdemeanor charges.
  • Another was sentenced to three years probation and no jail time.
  • Another was sentenced to six months imprisonment, but was credited for the time he had already spent in jail awaiting trial.

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!”
  • NOT Rep, Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) who incited the Trump crowd with: “Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass!”
  • And, above all, NOT Donald Trump. He not only incited his followers to attack the Capitol, he has spent the last six months 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.

There is a historical precedent for this, and it does not bode well for our Republic.

On November 9, 1923, Nazi Party Fuhrer Adolf Hitler tried to overthrow the government in Munich, Bavaria.

About 2,000 Nazis marched to the center of Munich, where they confronted heavily-armed police. A shootout erupted, killing 16 Nazis and four policemen. 

Hitler was injured during the clash, but managed to escape. Two days later, he was arrested and charged with treason.

Put on trial, he found himself treated as a celebrity by a judge sympathetic to Right-wing groups. He was allowed to brutally cross-examine witnesses and even make inflammatory speeches.

At the end of the trial, he was convicted of treason and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

Serving time in Landsberg Prison, in Bavaria. he wrote his infamous book, Mein Kampf-–“My Struggle.” Part autobiography, part political treatise, it laid out his future plans—including the extermination of the Jews and the conquest of the Soviet Union.

Image result for Images of Adolf Hitler outside Landsberg prison

Adolf Hitler leaving Landsberg Prison, December, 20, 1924

Nine months later, he was released on parole—by authorities loyal to the authoritarian Right instead of the newly-created Weimar Republic.

Hitler immediately began rebuilding the shattered Nazi party—and deciding on a new strategy to gain power. Never again would he resort to armed force. He would win office by election—or intrigue.

On January 30, 1933, those intrigues made him Chancellor of Germany. 

Writes historian Volker Ullrich, in his monumental 2016 biography, Hitler: Ascent 1889 – 1939: “Historians have perennially tried to answer the question of whether Hitler’s rise to power could have been halted….

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“There were repeated opportunities to end Hitler’s run of triumphs. The most obvious one was after the failed Putsch of November 1923. Had the Munich rabble-rouser been forced to serve his full five-year term of imprisonment in Landsberg, it is extremely unlikely that he would have been able to restart his political career.”

Thus, it isn’t just what happens that can influence the course of history. Often, it’s what doesn’t happen that has at least as great a result.

The United States Justice Department now faces the same choice faced by the judges of the Weimar Republic: Enforce the law against a ruthless tyrant—or stand by while he mounts a comeback.

AN OPEN LETTER TO ATTORNEY GENERAL MERRICK GARLAND: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 28, 2021 at 12:10 am

TO: Merrick Brian Garland – United States Attorney General

I hold the highest regard for your personal integrity. After graduating from Harvard Law School, you served as a special assistant to Attorney General Benjamin Civviletti from 1979 to 1981. 

As a federal prosecutor, you played a leading role in the investigation and prosecution of the Oklahoma City bombers.

You served as judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1997 – 2021) and then as Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2013 – 2020).

In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated you to serve as an associate Justice of the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia. But Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a hearing or vote on your nomination. 

Attorney General Merrick Garland.jpg

Merrick Garland

Yet, with due regard for your years of dedicated service to the rule of law, I am forced to say: You are now presiding over the closing days of the American Republic.

As the bestselling book, Peril, makes clear, there was a detailed plan by Republicans to illegally retain President Donald Trump in office. The votes of 81 million Americans who had voted for former Vice President Joseph Biden would have been scrapped in what was intended to be a Right-wing coup.

According to authors Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, attorney John Eastman first proposed the plan to Vice President Mike Pence on January 4 in the Oval Office with Trump in attendance. The memo called for throwing out the election results in seven states under the false claim that those states had used alternate electors.

Eastman’s memo was sent to Senator Mile Lee (R-Utah) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who served as one of Trump’s attorneys at the time. They tried to convince Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that there was rampant fraud in the 2020 election.

Both Graham and Lee reportedly argued that the fraud claims had no merit.

On January 6, the United States Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence presiding, would certify states’ Electoral College results of that election.

Since Biden had gotten 306 votes compared to 232 for Trump, the outcome was already known.

On that morning, Trump tried to convince Pence to reject the electoral votes that had been cast for Biden. This would mean flipping the results of the 2020 Presidential election to give him a win.

Pence replied that he lacked the power to overturn those results.

But as Pence went off to the Capitol Building housing the Senate and House of Representatives, Trump had one last card to play.

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Mike Pence

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

On December 20, 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.

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.  

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. 

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

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by a bold and radical left Democrats which is what they are doing and stolen by the fake news media.

“Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore, and that is what this is all about. And to use a favorite term that all of you people really came up with, we will stop the steal….

“Republicans are constantly fighting like a boxer with his hands tied behind his back….And we’re going to have to fight much harder….

“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 brushed aside Capitol Police.

IndieWire on Twitter: "Pro-Trump Rioters Breach US Capitol Building in Unprecedented Attack on Rule of Law https://t.co/QA27RZTEWd… "

Capitol Police facing off with Stormtrumpers

Among their outrages:

  • Members of the mob attacked police with chemical agents and lead pipes.
  • A Capitol Hill police officer was knocked off his feet, dragged into the mob surging toward the building, and beaten with the pole of an American flag. 
  • One attacker was shot as protesters forced their way toward the House Chamber where members of Congress were sheltering in place.

PATRIOTISM IN A TIME OF TYRANNY: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 22, 2021 at 12:12 am

On January 8, 2021, General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calls a secret meeting in his Pentagon office to review the process for military action, including launching nuclear weapons. 

It’s two days since President Donald Trump incited an attack on the United States Capitol Building to stop the certifying of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. And Milley fears Trump intends to launch a full-fledged coup to remain in power.

He instructs his senior military officials to not take orders from anyone unless he is involved: “No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure.” 

He looks each officer in the eye, and asks him to verbally confirm that he understands. 

Milley Testimony

Mark Milley

Fearful of Trump’s actions in his final weeks as President, Milley twice calls China’s top general, Li Zuocheng, of the People’s Liberation Army.

China is on high alert because of the chaos in the United States.

Milley assures Zuocheng there is no cause to fear an American attack, despite Trump’s provocative rhetoric against China. He promises that he will warn Zuocheng in the event of an American attack.

Donald Trump, in a September 14, 2021 interview on Newsmax, says Milley’s calls to the Chinese could amount to treason: “If it is actually true, which is hard to believe, that he would have called China and done these things and was willing to advise them of an attack, or in advance of an attack, that’s treason.   

“For him to say that I was going to attack China is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”

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Donald Trump

At least three Republican Senators and nine members of the House of Representatives have demanded that Milley resign or be fired. 

“He should be court-martialled if true,” Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky) writes on Twitter.

“(Milley) worked to actively undermine the sitting commander in chief of the U.S. armed forces,” Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) posts on Twitter. 

Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) disagrees. He tells reporters that Democratic lawmakers “were circumspect in our language [to Milley] but many of us made it clear that we were counting on him to avoid the disaster which we knew could happen at any moment.”

Nazi defendants at Nuremberg had reacted with similar outrage upon learning that former Minister of Armaments Albert Speer had considered assassinating Adolf Hitler. Hitler had given orders for the total destruction of Germany when he realized he had lost World War II. 

“Traitor!” they shouted at Speer in the courtroom.

Former Reichmarshall Herman Goring—who had himself been condemned to death by Hitler in the closing days of the war—vowed: “If we ever get into power again, we’ll execute you for treason!” 

Hermann Göring - Röhr.jpg

Herman Goring

Adding to the pressures on Milley is a blunt phone call from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “What I’m saying to you is that if they couldn’t even stop him from an assault on the Capitol, who even knows what else he may do? And is there anybody in charge at the White House who was doing anything but kissing his fat butt all over this?  

“You know he’s crazy. He’s been crazy for a long time.”

Milley replied: “Madam Speaker, I agree with you on everything.” 

After that call, Milley:

  • Orders his top service chiefs to watch everything “all the time.”
  • Tells the director of the National Security Agency: “Needles up. Keep watching, scan.”
  • Tells then-CIA Director Gina Haspel: “Aggressively watch everything, 360.”   

Write Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their forthcoming book, Peril: “Milley was overseeing the mobilization of America’s national security state without the knowledge of the American people or the rest of the world.

“Some might contend that Milley had overstepped his authority and taken extraordinary power for himself, but he believed his actions were a good faith precaution to ensure there was no historic rupture in the international order, no accidental war with China or others, and no use of nuclear weapons.”

Milley has been shocked when, immediately after losing the 2020 election, Trump signs a secret military order withdrawing all America troops from Afghanistan by January 15, 2021—five days before he is scheduled to leave the White House. 

After Trump incites the January 6 attack on the Capitol, write Woodward and Costa, Milley “felt no absolute certainty that the military could control or trust Trump and believed it was his job as the senior military officer to think the unthinkable and take any and all necessary precautions.”

Nor is Milley the only high-ranking national security official who fears Trump’s vindictiveness: CIA Director Gina Haspel warns Milley, “We are on the way to a right-wing coup. The whole thing is insanity. He is acting out like a six-year-old with a tantrum.”

Haspel also worries that Trump will try to attack Iran. 

Milley intends above all to ensure a peaceful transfer of power from Donald Trump to Joe Biden on January 20: 

“We’ve got a plane with four engines and three of them are out. We’ve got no landing gear. But we’re going to land this plane and we’re going to land it safely,” he tells Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

On January 20, 2021, that plane lands safely.

PATRIOTISM IN A TIME OF TYRANNY: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 21, 2021 at 12:07 am

On November 3, 2020, 81,255,933 Democratic voters elect former Vice President Joseph Biden the 46th President of the United States.

President Donald J. Trump, running for a second term, gets 74,196,153 votes. Biden also wins decisively in the Electoral College: 306 votes to 232 for Trump.

Facing the end of his Presidency, Trump desperately seeks to remain in power. Having “joked” about being “President-for-Life,” he’s now fighting to make that a reality.  

He spreads The Big Lie that he has been robbed by fraud. He summons his Stormtrumper followers to Washington, D.C. for a massive “Stop the Steal” rally set for January 6.

It is on that day that members of the House and Senate will meet in the United States Capitol Building to officially count the Electoral College votes. Since that total is known, it’s a foregone conclusion that Biden will be officially pronounced President-Elect.

Unwilling to accept this verdict, Trump demands that his vice president, Mike Pence, refuse to certify the election of Joe Biden as America’s next President.

When Pence refuses to break the law, Trump incites his followers in Washington, D.C., to storm the Capitol building on January 6 to stop the certification.

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

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

The Stormtrumpers march to the United States Capitol—and quickly brush aside Capitol Police.

  • Members of the mob attack police with chemical agents, metal poles and lead pipes.
  • At least 140 police officers suffer injuries, including concussions, broken ribs, smashed spinal discs, a lost eye.
  • Many of the lawmakers’ offices are occupied and vandalized—including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.
  • Lawmakers huddle under desks and behind locked doors, expecting to die any minute.
  • More than three hours pass before police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retake control of the Capitol. 

And Trump? After giving his inflammatory speech, he returns to the White House—to watch his handiwork on television. He initially rebuffs requests to mobilize the National Guard.

With the United States seemingly on the brink of a Trumpian coup, General Mark Milley—Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—steps forward to save his country from a President he distrusts.

Appointed to that position by Trump in 2018, his career includes assignments with the 82nd Airborne Division, 5th Special Forces Group, Joint Readiness Training Center, Operations Staff of the Joint Staff, and Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.

Rainer Kuosmanen on Twitter: "US Army General Mark Milley will be the 20th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nation's highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military advisor to the

Mark Milley

Two days after the treasonous January 6 attack, Milley single-handedly takes secret action to prevent Trump from potentially ordering a dangerous military strike or launching nuclear weapons.

That’s one of a series of startling revelations in Peril, a new book by legendary journalist Bob Woodward and veteran Washington Post reporter Robert Costa.

Milley, deeply shaken by the Capitol assault, “was certain that Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election, with Trump now all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.”

“You never know what a president’s trigger point is,” Milley tells his senior staff. 

On January 8, Milley calls a secret meeting in his Pentagon office to review the process for military action, including launching nuclear weapons.

Website Informs Civilians About DOD Opportunities > U.S. Department of Defense > Defense Department News

The Pentagon

Touch Of Light, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

He instructs his senior military officials to not take orders from anyone unless he is involved: “No matter what you are told, you do the procedure. You do the process. And I’m part of that procedure.”

He looks each officer in the eye, and asks him to verbally confirm that he understands.

Fearful of Trump’s actions in his final weeks as President, Milley twice calls China’s top general, Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the two nations will not suddenly go to war. 

China is on high alert because of the chaos in the United States.

Milley assures him there is no cause to fear an American attack, despite Trump’s provocative rhetoric against that country. He promises Zuocheng that he will warn him in the event of an upcoming  American attack:

“General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay,” Milley says in the first call on October 30, 2020. “We are not going to attack or conduct any kinetic operations against you.

“If we’re going to attack, I’m going to call you ahead of time. It’s not going to be a surprise,” Milley reportedly says.

The second call is on January 8, 2021, to assure Zuocheng the United States isn’t on the brink of collapse.

Zuocheng isn’t easily convinced, even after Milley promises him: “We are 100 percent steady. Everything’s fine. But democracy can be sloppy sometimes.”

According to the Woodward-Costa book, Milley calls the admiral overseeing the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the military unit responsible for Asia and the Pacific region, and recommends postponing upcoming military exercises. 

He also asks senior officers to swear that Milley will be involved if Trump orders the launch of nuclear weapons.

PATRIOTISM IN A TIME OF TRANNY: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 20, 2021 at 12:05 am

Albert Speer, Minister of Armaments for the Third Reich, is appalled.

His Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler—the man he had idolized for 14 years—has just passed a death sentence on Germany, the nation he claimed to love above all others.

On March 19, 1945, facing certain defeat, Hitler had ordered a massive “scorched-earth” campaign throughout Germany.

All German agriculture, industry, ships, communications, roads, food stuffs, mines, bridges, stores and utility plants are to be destroyed.

If implemented, it will deprive the entire German population of even the barest necessities after the war.

Now living in a bunker 50 feet below bomb-shattered Berlin, Hitler gives full vent to his most destructive impulses.

Adolf Hitler addressing boy soldiers as the Third Reich crumbles

“If the war is lost,” Hitler tells Speer, “the nation will also perish. This fate is inevitable. There is no necessity to take into consideration the basis which the people will need to continue even a most primitive existence.

“On the contrary, it will be better to destroy these things ourselves, because this nation will have proved to be the weaker one and the future will belong solely to the stronger eastern nation.

“Besides, those who will remain after the battle are only the inferior ones, for the good ones have all been killed.”

His attitude is: “If I can’t rule Germany, then there won’t be a Germany.”

Speer argues in vain that there must be a future for the German people. But Hitler refuses to back down. He gives Speer 24 hours to reconsider his opposition to the order.  

The next day, Speer tells Hitler: “My Fuhrer, I stand unconditionally behind you!”

“Then all is well,” says Hitler, suddenly with tears in his eyes.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

“If I stand unreservedly behind you,” says Speer, “then you must entrust me rather than the Gauleiters [district Party leaders serving as provincial governors] with the implementation of your decree.”

Filled with gratitude, Hitler signs the decree Speer has thoughtfully prepared before their fateful meeting.

By doing so, Hitler unintentionally gives Speer the power to thwart his “scorched earth” decree.

Speer has been the closest thing to a friend in Hitler’s life. Trained as an architect, he joined the Nazi Party in 1931.

He met Hitler in 1933, when he presented the Fuhrer with architectural designs for the Nuremberg Rally scheduled for that year.

From then on, Speer became Hitler’s “genius architect” assigned to create buildings meant to last for a thousand years.

In 1943, Hitler appointed him Minister of Armaments, charged with revitalizing the German war effort.

Nevertheless, Speer now crisscrosses Germany, persuading military leaders and district governors to not destroy the vital facilities that would be needed after the war. 

“No other senior National Socialist could have done the job,” writes Randall Hanson, author of Disobeying Hitler: German Resistance After Valkyrie.

Risking death, Speer refuses to carry out Hitler’s “scorched earth” order. Even more important, he successfully blocks such destruction and persuades influential military and civilian leaders to disobey the order as well.

As a result, those targets slated for destruction are spared. 

Despite his later conviction for war crimes at Nuremberg, Speer never regrets his efforts to save Germany from total destruction at the hands of Adolf Hitler. 

Fast forward 75 years: On November 3, 2020, 81,255,933 Democratic voters elect former Vice President Joseph Biden the 46th President of the United States.

President Donald J. Trump, running for a second term, gets 74,196,153 votes. Biden also wins decisively in the Electoral College: 306 votes to 232 for Trump.

Facing the end of his Presidency, Trump desperately seeks to remain in power. Having “joked” about being “President-for-Life,” he’s now fighting to make that a reality.  

Unlike his 44 predecessors, he refuses to concede. For almost three weeks he denies his successor access to the resources he needs to launch a smooth transition.

Donald Trump

Even worse: Instead of showing concern for the country he claims to love, Trump is now relentlessly destroying those institutions that guarantee American freedom and safety:

  • The Pentagon
  • The CIA
  • The FBI
  • The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

Trump spreads The Big Lie that the election had been stolen. He repeatedly presses his vice president, Mike Pence, to refuse to certify the election results at the Capitol on January 6. When Pence refuses to break the law, Trump incites his followers to storm the building to stop the vote counting. 

His attitude clearly is: “If I can’t rule America, there won’t be an America.” 

Meanwhile, House and Senate Republicans have embraced his most outrageous lies—or refused to openly refute them—as the COVID-19 pandemic slaughters about 1,000 Americans a day.

Even Republicans who privately admit the Trump era is ending realize that 74 million hate-filled Americans voted for him in 2020. And eagerly await the coming of the next would-be Fuhrer.

They will also eagerly vote out of office any Republican who dares break with the man they worship like a cult leader. 

For Congressional Republicans, staying in office—and keeping their power and perks—is their top priority. 

It is at this moment that one man—General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff—steps forward to save his country from a President he distrusts.

BIDEN NEEDS A LESSON FROM MACHIAVELLI

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 16, 2021 at 12:07 am

On June 7, 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 2020 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. Democrats, of course, have a real problem with that. They say, we think Republicans are going to play games here and block this bill.

“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.”

There has been a great deal of speculation—by Democrats and political correspondents—on 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.

Joe Biden presidential portrait.jpg

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

He will also grasp that his constituents will 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.

During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, saying it was better to temporarily suspend some liberties than to lose the Union to a treasonous Confederate victory. 

President Joe Biden now faces a similar moment of crisis.

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.

THE REPUBLICANS’ HORST WESSEL

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 11, 2021 at 12:12 am

Republicans—including those who pursue a Fascistic agenda—are quick to accuse their opponents of being “Nazis.”

Yet similarities abound between the tactics—and often the goals—between yesterday’s Nazis and today’s Republicans.

One of these is the need for martyrs by both parties. 

The Nazis found theirs in Horst Wessel.

As a teenager growing up in the Weimar Republic of Germany, he joined the Viking Liga (“Viking League”), a Right-wing paramilitary group. Its goal, wrote Wessel, was “the “establishment of a national dictatorship.”

He soon became a local leader, engaging in street battles with rival Leftist groups such as the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Communist Party (KPD). In 1926, he joined the paramilitary Sturmabteilung (“Storm Detachment” or SA) of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party).

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1978-043-14, Horst Wessel.jpg

Horst Wessel

Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1978-043-14 / Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

His unit had a reputation as “a band of thugs, a brutal squad.” One of his men described the way they fought against the Communists: “Horst made Adolf Hitler’s principle his own: Terror can be destroyed only by counterterror.”

In September 1929, Wessel met Erna Jänicke, a 23-year-old ex-prostitute, in a tavern. Some sources claim Wessel acted as Jänicke’s pimp. She soon moved into his room. 

Wessel’s landlady, Elisabeth Salm, wanted Jänicke to leave. But Jänicke refused to do so.

Salm appealed to Communist friends of her late husband to evict Jänicke, They agreed to beat Wessel up and evict him from Salm’s flat. They recruited Albrecht Höhler, an armed pimp, perjurer and petty criminal, to handle the evicting.

On February 23, 1930, Höhler knocked at the front door of the room where Wessel and Jänicke lived. When Wessel opened the door, Höhler shot him at point-blank range.

He was 22 when he died.

Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels quickly turned Wessel into a Nazi martyr. Wessel had written the lyrics for a new Nazi fight song: “The Unknown SA-Man.” It later became known as “Raise the Flag” and finally the “Horst Wessel Lied.” 

Its opening stanza.

Raise the flag! The ranks tightly closed!
The SA marches with calm, steady step.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit within our ranks.

“The Horst Wessel Lied” became the official anthem of the Nazi Party from 1930 to 1945.

Fast forward to January 6, 2021—when the Republican Party got its own martyr: Ashli Babbitt.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, she served two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq before later deploying with the National Guard to Kuwait and Qatar.

Originally from San Diego, California, by 2020 she had recently remarried and was working at a pool service company. 

On social media, she described herself as a libertarian and a patriot. She often expressed ardent support for President Donald Trump.

On November 3, 2020, Trump lost the Presidential election to former Vice President Joseph Biden. 

Biden won the popular vote—81,268,924 to 74,216,154 for Trump—and, more importantly, in the Electoral College: 306 to 232.

But Babbitt accepted wholesale Trump’s lie that the election had been stolen from him by massive voter fraud.

On January 6, 2021, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives would meet in the United States Capitol Building. They would count the Electoral College votes received by Trump and Biden—and pronounce Biden the President-elect.

Babbitt was determined to “Stop the Steal” by assaulting the Capitol Building on January 6. 

Inside right-wing efforts to make Ashli Babbitt into a martyr | wusa9.com

Ashli Babbitt

On January 5, she posted on social media: “Nothing will stop us. They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours.”

On January 6, she was among hundreds of Right-wing men and women who breached the Capitol. She was also the mob’s only casualty.

As lawmakers were being evacuated by Capitol Police, Babbitt tried to climb through a shattered window in a barricaded door. She was warned to back off several times by a policeman standing on the other side.

Babbitt defied the orders—and was shot in the neck/shoulder. She died of the wound—at age 35,

The shooting was later ruled justified by the Justice Department. 

Almost a century ago Nazis extolled Horst Wessel as a virtuous martyr. Today, members of Right-wing groups—and even Congressional Republicans—portray Ashli Babbitt as a fallen Joan of Arc.

During a hearing with former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in April, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ.) claimed Babbitt was “executed.” 

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has made the same charge.

And, not to be outdone, so has Donald Trump himself.

“Who was the person who shot an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman?” Trump asked Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo  on July 11. “I will tell you, they know who shot Ashley Babbitt. They’re protecting that person. I’ve heard also that it was the head of security for a certain high official—a Democrat.”

The Nazis found in Horst Wessel a hero to inspire their followers. So, too, have Republicans generally and Trump enthusiasts specifically found the same in Ashli Babbitt.

The only question remaining to be answered: Will an “Ashli Babbitt Lied” culminate in a similar tyranny for the United States?

REPUBLICANS: COUP LIVES MATTER

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on August 5, 2021 at 12:10 am

As Republican Senators in Washington, D.C., prepared to block the creation of a bipartisan investigation into the January 6 insurrection, another event was taking place. 

In Dalton, Georgia, Representative Matt Gaetz (R – FL) gave an impassioned speech to a crowd. His topic: The Second Amendment.

“It’s not about hunting. It’s not about recreation. It’s not about sports. The Second Amendment is about maintaining within the citizenry the ability to maintain an armed rebellion against the government, if that becomes necessary. I hope it never does.”

In short: It’s about treason.

On the May 28 edition of The PBS Newshour, correspondent Lisa Desjardins explained: 

“There, you heard—it’s about maintaining an armed insurrection. He said he doesn’t hope that it comes to pass. But this is different than traditional conservative thought about protecting liberty, individuals’ homes.

“This is an obvious statement about making government itself the enemy. I should note, of course, that Representative Gaetz is under federal investigation, over accusations involving prostitution and corruption that he denies.

“But we wanted to highlight this clip, because we—the crowd’s reaction, and Representative Gaetz pointedly talking about government as the potential enemy.”

Matt Gaetz, official portrait, 116th Congress (1).jpg

Matt Gaetz

Anyone who still doubts that the Right generally and the followers of Donald Trump in particular aren’t bent on establishing a dictatorship need only consider this.

On May 31, QAnon hosted a conference called the For God and Country Patriot Roundup in Dallas. The event was attended by conspiracy theorists and peddlers of Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 Presidential election was “stolen” from him by massive vote fraud. 

One of Its keynote speakers was retired Army General Michael T. Flynn. Flynn had been Trump’s first national security advisor—until he was forced to resign for lying about his past meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

In December, 2016, Flynn had talked with Kislyak about removing the sanctions placed on Russia by the outgoing Obama administration. The sanctions had been placed in retaliation for Russia’s efforts to manipulate the 2016 Presidential election.

Michael T Flynn.jpg

 Michael Flynn

“I want to know why what happened in Myanmar can’t happen here?” a member of the audience, who identified himself as a Marine, asked Flynn.

“No reason, I mean, it should happen here. No reason. That’s right,” Flynn responded.

From his remarks, it was clear that Flynn supported a similar overthrow of the government of the United States.

Later, when this was made clear to him, Flynn denied it.

In a message posted to a Parler account,  Flynn claimed that his words had been twisted: “Let me be VERY CLEAR – There is NO reason whatsoever for any coup in America, and I do not and have not at any time called for any action of that sort.”

But Flynn’s behavior in the closing weeks of the Trump administration confirm that he has advocated the use of military force to install—or maintain—a dictatorship.

After losing the 2020 Presidential election to former Vice President Joseph Biden, Trump was desperate to remain in office. Flynn was present at an Oval Office meeting where he suggested that Trump could invoke martial law to overturn the results.

It wasn’t clear whether Trump endorsed the idea, but others in the room forcefully shot it down.

“Flynn’s remarks border on sedition,” said Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA), a retired Navy commander who vice-chairs the House Armed Services Committee, about Flynn’s comments at the QAnon conference.

“There’s certainly conduct unbecoming an officer. Those are both things that can be tried under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and I think that as a retiree of the military, it should certainly be a path that we consider to have consequences for these types of words.”

Elaine Luria, Official Portrait, 116th Congress.jpg

Elaine Luria

At the same event in Dallas, Flynn also claimed—falsely: “Trump won. He won the popular vote, and he won the Electoral College vote.”

As a matter of fact, Trump won neither.

Biden won 81,268,924 popular votes to Trump’s 74,216,154. And in the Electoral College, Biden won 306 votes to Trump’s 232. 

* * * * *

History teaches us that republics that tolerate treason soon become former republics.

For Republicans, gaining—and retaining—absolute power has become their foremost reason for existence.

It isn’t enough for them to create voter suppression laws to prevent their opponents from voting. They now insist on the right to violently overthrow any Democrat who somehow manages to win the Presidency against them.

Rod Serling’s “Twilight Zone” episode, “Death’s Head Revisited,”  reveals how Republicans react when confronted with overwhelming evidence of their evil. 

In that episode, a former Nazi concentration camp captain returns to Dachau, to savor the torments he once inflicted on helpless men and women. To his horror, he’s greeted by the ghosts of those victims.

To one of them—Becker—he says: “That was such a long time ago. Let’s forget about all that—unpleasantness—and move on.” 

Thus have Republicans reacted when confronted with overwhelming evidence that President Donald J. Trump, having lost the 2020 Presidential election, incited violence against the Government of the United States. 

And just as most of the Original Nazis were forced to confront their past “unpleasantness”—and were punished for it—today’s Republicans must face punishment for their own.

FOUR MAPS TO INFAMY: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on July 29, 2021 at 12:05 am

Whites comprised the overwhelming majority of the audiences at Donald Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign rallies. Not all were racists, but many of those who were advertised it on T-shirts: “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN.”

And the vast majority of the white votes Trump got were in the South.

The 2008 election of Barack Obama as the first black President had shocked whites. His 2012 re-election had deprived them of the hope that 2008 had been an accident.

Then came 2016—and the possibility that a black President might actually be followed by a woman: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 

And for macho, largely uneducated, anti-black Southern males, the idea of a woman dictating to men was simply too much to bear.

Thus, the third map of infamy: Southerners’ election of Donald Trump.

When Trump declared his candidacy:

  • The country was essentially at peace.
  • Thanks to government loans from President Obama, American capitalism had been saved from its own excesses during the George W. Bush administration.
  • Employment was up. CEOs were doing extremely well.
  • Unlike the administration of Ronald Reagan, there had been no corruption scandals during the Obama Presidency.
  • Nor had there been any large-scale terrorist attacks on American soil—like 9/11 under President George W. Bush.

Above all, the news was filled with reputable reports—later confirmed—that Trump’s campaign was backed by Russian oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin, the former head of the KGB and now President of Russia.

In short: Southerners—who had long portrayed themselves as America’s most dedicated patriots—flocked to the banner of a man who publicly called on “Russia” to interfere in an American Presidential election. 

Red States voted for Donald Trump – 2016

BobWyatt07, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Now for the South’s fourth map of infamy.

Donald Trump’s four-year Presidency produced a legacy of unprecedented racism, criminality, abuse of power and treason. 

But the crime for which he will be longest-remembered—and which finally brought him down—was his unwillingness to protect Americans from the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 catastrophe slammed into the United States in January, 2020. It was the inevitable result of a natural disaster colliding with an evil and incompetent administration.

Trump’s “cures” for COVID-19 included denial, lies, Republican subservience, chaos, extortion, propaganda as news, quackery as medicine, demands to “re-open the country,” Ignoring the danger and—finally—resignation (“Learn to live with the virus”). 

Early on, Trump made the virus a referendum on himself. If you supported him, you didn’t wear a mask when you ventured out in public. This despite the fact that, throughout 2020, there was no vaccine available and hospitals were rapidly overwhelmed by debilitated and dying casualties of the virus.

“I think, once Donald Trump and other Republicans made it a manhood issue, or a freedom issue, or whatever kind of issue they made it, it’s hard to walk back that culture war signal,” said conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks on the PBS Newshour on July 23.

Washington Post Columnist Jonathan Capehart echoed him: “I think, if we had had a president of the United States who took this seriously when this first came on the scene, if we had a Republican party that took this seriously enough to warn everyone, their constituents saying, wash your hands, then put on a mask, then go get the vaccine, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.”

PBS NewsHour | Brooks and Capehart on voting and gun violence legislation | Season 2021 | PBS

Jonathan Capehart

But neither Trump nor the Republican party urged Americans to “wash your hands, put on a mask, then go get the vaccine.” 

By March, 2021, three vaccines—by Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson—became available. A total of 90.4 million doses of these vaccines had been given. And 30.7 million Americans had been fully vaccinated against the virus. 

But after a triumphant beginning, the pace of vaccinations slowed, then halted. By late July, 2021, only 49.6% of Americans had been fully vaccinated.

Covid-19 Vaccination Map of USA.png

COVID-19 vaccination map – July 21, 2021

George Karabassis, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of those who had gotten one shot of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines refused to get the necessary second one. These must be given almost a month apart.

(The Johnson & Johnson vaccine requires only one shot.)

What had happened?

“The people I know personally who are not getting the vaccine, for them, it was like, ‘They rushed this thing,'” theorized David Brooks. “‘Who knows what’s going to happen to all these people who get the shots in 10 years or 20 years?’ So, why should I take the risk?’

“And that’s not completely crazy, but it’s not—it’s based on some sense of general distrust for the establishment, including the medical establishment. And that establishment—that distrust is the core of this thing.”

Shields and Brooks on Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis and the debate | PBS NewsHour

David Brooks

And leading the way to this catastrophe of self-destruction were the states of the South and Midwest: Mississippi (47.1%,), Alabama (50.5%), Arkansas (53.2%), and Tennessee (52.9%) with the lowest rates of residents who have gotten at least one shot.

By late July, three states—Florida, Texas and Missouri—with lower vaccination rates accounted for 40 percent of all cases nationwide.

And colliding head-on with the refusals of millions to get vaccinated is the newer—and deadlier—Delta variant of COVID-19.

Just as the South unleashed the Civil War on America, it has now ignited a new wave of COVID-19 on America.

FOUR MAPS TO INFAMY: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on July 28, 2021 at 12:14 am

Throughout its history the South has been a hotbed of treason, racism and ignorance.

Today, it proudly continues holding fast to these traditions—even as it places the entire country in danger of contagion and dictatorship.

From 1860 to 1865, the South—Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia—produced the greatest case of mass treason in America’s history.

It was called the Confederate States of America—and produced the South’s first map of infamy.

Map of U.S. showing two kinds of Union states, two phases of secession and territories

Union (blue) and Confederate (red) states: 1860 – 1865

Júlio Reis, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

According to The Destructive War, by Charles Royster, it wasn’t the cause of “states’ rights” that led 13 Southern states to withdraw from the Union in 1860-61. It was their demand for “respect,” which, in reality, translates into “e-g-o.”

“The respect Southerners demanded did not consist simply of the states’ sovereignty or of the equal rights of Northern and Southern citizens, including slaveholders’ right to take their chattels into Northern territory.

“It entailed, too, respect for their assertion of the moral superiority of slaveholding society over free society,” writes Royster.

It was not enough for Southerners to claim equal standing with Northerners; Northerners must acknowledge it. But this was something that the North was less and less willing to do. 

Finally, its citizens dared to elect Abraham Lincoln in 1860.

Lincoln and his new Republican party damned slavery—and slaveholders—as morally evil, obsolete and ultimately doomed. And they were determined to prevent slavery from spreading any further throughout the country. 

Southerners found all of this intolerable.

Lincoln—during his First Inaugural Address—bluntly said that he did not intend to “directly or indirectly…interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

An iconic photograph of a bearded Abraham Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.

Abraham Lincoln

But that was not enough for Southerners. 

Only 10% of Southerners owned slaves. The other 90% of the population “had no dog in this fight,” as Southerners liked to say.

Yet they so admired and aspired to be like their “gentleman betters” that they threw in their lot with them.

On April 12, 1861—just over a month since Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4—Southern batteries opened fire on Union Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

This ignited the American Civil War, costing the lives of 750,000.Americans—at a time when the population of the United States stood at 31,443,321.

Four years later, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse.

Huge sections of the South had been laid waste by Union troops and more than 258,000 Southerners had been killed.

And slavery, the mainstay of Southern plantation life, had been ended forever.

The South had paid a high price for its investment in treason.

Infamy’s second map dates from 1964 to 2016.

In 1964, Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed the Civil Rights Act through Congress, ending more than a century of blatant discrimination against blacks.

The South—which before the Civil War had been solidly Democratic—suddenly went solidly Republican.

To understand this mammoth shift, it’s vital to realize: In Lincoln’s time, the Republicans were the party of progressives

The party was founded on an anti-slavery platform. Its members were thus reviled as “Black Republicans.” And until the 1960s, the South was solidly Democratic

Democrats were the ones defending the status quo—slavery—and opposing the rights of freed blacks in the South of Reconstruction and long afterward.

When, in the early 1960s, Democrats championed the rights of blacks, Southerners bolted for the Republican party—which held to the same values that slavery/discrimination-supporting Democrats once did.  

After signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, President Lyndon B. Johnson told an aide: “We have just lost the South for a generation.”   

Johnson was wrong: A generation lasts 20 to 30 years. It’s been 56 years since the signing of the Act, and the South is still solidly within the Republican camp.

1968 United States presidential election - Wikipedia

 1968 election (Southern states in red)

TheSouth’s third map of infamy culminates with the election of Donald Trump as President in 2016. 

Repeatedly, when asked why they supported Trump, his followers said: “He says what I’ve been thinking!” 

And what Trump appealed to, above all else, was hatred.  

From June 15, 2015, when he launched his Presidential campaign, until October 24, 2016, Trump fired almost 4,000 angry, insulting tweets at 281 people and institutions that had somehow offended him. 

Donald Trump

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

Among his targets:

  • Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton
  • President Barack Obama
  • Actress Meryl Streep
  • Singer Neil Young
  • Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Comedian John Oliver
  • News organizations
  • The State of New Jersey
  • Beauty pageant contestants

Others he clearly delighted in insulting during the campaign included:

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

Whites comprised the overwhelming majority of the audiences at Trump rallies. Not all were racists, but many of those who were advertised it on T-shirts: “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN.”

And the vast majority of the white votes Trump got were in the South.

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