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Posts Tagged ‘ABRAHAM LINCOLN’

PREVENTING THE RIGHT’S CIVIL WAR: PART FOUR (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 11, 2023 at 12:24 am

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

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.

The reason for the difference: The George Floyd protesters were liberal blacks. The Capitol attackers were Right-wing whites.

Although their January 6 coup attempt failed, Republicans and their Right-wing allies at local, state and federal levels continue to plot at establishing an absolute dictatorship.

Can future Right-wing attacks on democracy be prevented?

Yes—provided those in the administration of President Joseph Biden are willing to use the same methods America has applied against foreign enemies. One option has already been discussed:

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

Here is the second:

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

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.

Related image

  • 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 RIGHT’S CIVIL WAR: PART THREE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Social commentary on May 10, 2023 at 12:11 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. 

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

By May 5, 2023, more than two years after the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol—more than 600 Stormtrumper rioters have been convicted.

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

  • NOT Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who pressed lawmakers to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory in Arizona and Wisconsin.
  • NOT Senators Ted Cruz (TX) and Josh Hawley (MO), who voted to reject the Electoral College votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania.
  • NOT Representatives Andy Biggs (AZ), Marjorie Taylor Greene (GA) and Lauren Boebert (CO) who voted to reject the Electoral College votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania.
  • 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.”

Seal of the United States Department of Justice.svg

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.)

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 RIGHT’S CIVIL WAR: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 9, 2023 at 12:10 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.

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. 

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.

Two years and three months later—by May 5—more than 600 Stormtrumper rioters have been convicted.

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

  • 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.  

PREVENTING THE RIGHT’S CIVIL WAR: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 8, 2023 at 12:10 am

If a second American Civil War erupts, it will be vastly different from the first one.        

The first one lasted from 1861 to 1865. It pitted 13 Southern states against 19 fighting for the Union. 

The Southern states consisted of: South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, Kentucky and Missouri. 

The states fighting for the Union consisted of: Maine, New York, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, California, Nevada, and Oregon.

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

Civil War America

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

It’s estimated that 750,000 Americans lost their lives during the Civil War—110,000 Union soldiers died in battle as opposed to 258,000 Confederates

The overwhelming reason for the war: Slavery. Southern states wanted to preserve it. Northern ones wanted to abolish it. And, in 1860, Northern states had elected Abraham Lincoln—an anti-slavery candidate—the 16th President of the United States.

But the blunt truth remained: Lincoln had no authority to abolish slavery—which had been legally upheld by the United States Supreme Court. And, in his Inaugural Address, he said exactly that:

“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to 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.”

But he warned that he would not allow the Union to be peacefully dissolved. “We cannot separate. …The Union….will constitutionally defend, and maintain itself.

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict, without being yourselves the aggressors.”

A bearded Abraham Lincoln showing his head and shoulders

Abraham Lincoln

Ultimately, the South wanted to secede from the Union to preserve its “peculiar institution.” It did not seek to conquer the North and made no military moves against it—until April 12, 1861. 

That was when Confederate batteries in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor opened fire on Union Fort Sumter. The next day, the fort surrendered. 

The attack led directly to the outbreak of the American Civil War, which lasted until April 9, 1865. Confederate general Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia to Union general Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House. 

A second Civil War would erupt with an entirely different goal in mind. Republican states do not want to be “left alone” by Washington and/or Democratic-controlled states. They want to dictatorially rule Democratically-controlled states from Washington.

And their populations believe that, through Donald Trump, they can achieve just such control. 

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Donald Trump

To achieve victory in the 2024 Presidential election, legislators in Republican-controlled states are now working to nullify the votes of millions of Democratic voters

Thousands—or millions—of votes will be thrown away, to ensure that the Democratic winner will be declared the loser. The Republican loser will be certified President-elect.

According to a December 9, 2021 article in The Atlantic“Trump’s Next Coup Has Already Begun”-–while those who believe in democracy are blissfully ignoring the approaching threat:

Democrats, big and small D, are not behaving as if they believe the threat is real. Some of them, including President Joe Biden, have taken passing rhetorical notice, but their attention wanders. They are making a grievous mistake.”

“The democratic emergency is already here,” says Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law and political science at UC Irvine. “We face a serious risk that American democracy as we know it will come to an end in 2024, but urgent action is not happening.”

And retiring journalist Brian Williams echoes this fear:

“My biggest worry is for my country. I’m not a liberal or a conservative. I’m an institutionalist. I believe in this place. And in my love of my country I yield to no one, but the darkness on the edge of town has spread to the main roads and highways and neighborhoods. It’s now at the local bar and the bowling alley, the school broad and the grocery store. It must be acknowledged and answered for.

“Grown men and women who swore an oath to our constitution, elected by our constituents, possessing the kinds of college degrees I can only dream of, have decided to join the mob and become something they are not, while hoping we somehow forget who they were.

“They’ve decided to burn it all down with us inside. That should scare you to no end as much as it scares an aging volunteer fireman.” 

Brian Williams is leaving MSNBC. What's next? - CNN Video

Brian Williams

From The Atlantic

“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.

“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.” 

NEXT UP: How the coming Donald Trump dictatorship can be prevented.

FOUR MAPS TO SOUTHERN INFAMY: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on April 27, 2023 at 12:10 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.

The third map of Southern infamy: The 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. 
  • Unlike the administration of Ronald Reagan, there had been no corruption scandals during the Obama Presidency.
  • Unlike the administration of George W. Bush, there not been any large-scale terrorist attacks on American soil—like 9/11.

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

The fourth map of Southern infamy: COVID-19

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 in public. Even though, throughout 2020, no vaccine was 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, 2021.

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, 2021, 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 was the newer—and deadlier—Delta variant of COVID-19.

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

FOUR MAPS TO SOUTHERN INFAMY: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on April 26, 2023 at 12:10 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 SouthTexas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia—produced the greatest case of mass treason in America’s history.

Southern infamy’s first map was called the Confederate States of America.

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.

Southern 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 almost 59 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 

The South’s third map of infamy culminated 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.

IF YOU HATE THE FBI, YOU’LL LOVE JIM JORDAN

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on February 21, 2023 at 12:21 am

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) chairs the powerful House Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department and the FBI.

He comes to office with a unique mission: To attack the investigative agencies which proved that Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign received support from Russian Intelligence agents. 

Jordan believes there should not have been any investigation into this unholy alliance. 

Jim Jordan official photo, 114th Congress.jpg

Rep. Jim Jordan

Now, armed with the power of subpoena, Jordan is moving on several investigative fronts at once.

One of his major targets: The FBI.

Jordan is outraged that the Bureau raided Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago on August 8, 2022, to retrieve classified documents the ex-President illegally took after leaving office.  

“They raided Trump’s home. They haven’t raided Biden’s home,” Jordan said on the January 29 edition of “Meet the Press.” 

“Because Biden didn’t defy a subpoena, Congressman,” its moderator, Chuck Todd, replied, adding that Trump had 60 days to comply before the FBI executed a search warrant.

Papers from Biden’s time as Vice Presidential under Barack Obama had turned up at Biden’s Delaware home and a Washington office.

Another of Jordan’s targets is Big Tech, which he accuses (without evidence) of suppressing free speech. By this, he means there is anti-Right-wing bias at some of the top social media companies in the country.

In fact, Right-wing hate speech and misinformation are commonly found on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Facebook and Twitter have reinstated Donald Trump’s accounts—which were suspended after he incited the treasonous January 6, 2021 riot against Congress.

But the fact that Right-wing propaganda has not been suppressed on the Internet means nothing to Jordan. The claim has become a rallying cry for the Right—just like “The Big Lie” that Trump was cheated of a second term by massive voter fraud in 2020.

BATTLING THE BIG LIE | Kirkus Reviews

And when confronted head-on by the brutal truth of its falsity, Right-wingers simply ignore it and shout even louder that they’re being oppressed.

“The Germans,” said Winston Churchill, “are either at your throat or at your feet.” This has proven equally true for Republicans—especially the most infamous one of all: Donald Trump.

When he held the whip hand, he was arrogance personified—as when he ordered the tear-gassing of peaceful protesters in Lafayette Park on June 1, 2020. The reason: So he could take a photo-op at St. John’s Episcopal Church following the police murder of George Floyd.

Yet when faced with investigation by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, Trump called himself “the most persecuted President in history.” Even Abraham Lincoln, he claimed, never suffered such harsh attacks.

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Robert S. Mueller

Meanwhile, Jim Jordan is being haunted by a scandal of his own. 

Jordan served as an assistant coach at Ohio State University (OSU) from 1987 to 1995. Several former OSU wrestlers claim Jordan ignored sexual abuse of students by the team’s doctor. 

In April, 2018, OSU announced it was investigating charges that Richard Strauss had abused team wrestlers while he served as the team doctor from the mid-1970s to the late 1990s. Strauss died in 2005.

Jordan claims he didn’t know about the abuse.

Yet several former wrestlers assert that they told Jordan about the abuse or remember Jordan being a part of conversations about the abuse.

“I considered Jim Jordan a friend,” Mike DiSabato, a former wrestler, told NBC. It was DiSabato’s allegations against Strauss that led OSU to open the investigation. “But at the end of the day, he is absolutely lying if he says he doesn’t know what was going on.”

In an email to Ohio State’s legal counsel, DiSabato wrote: “Strauss sexually assaulted male athletes in at least fifteen varsity sports during his employment at OSU from 1978 through 1998.”

“There’s no way unless [Jordan’s] got dementia or something that he’s got no recollection of what was going on at Ohio State,” former Ultimate Fighting Championship world champion Mark Coleman told the Wall Street Journal.  “I have nothing but respect for this man, I love this man, but he knew as far as I’m concerned.” 

Which immediately raises the question: How can you respect and love a man who knew that students were being sexually abused—and did nothing to stop it?

Speaking with reporters in Ohio, Jordan offered a Sergeant Schultz “I know nothing” defense: 

“We knew of no abuse, never heard of abuse. If we had, we would have reported it. If, in fact, there’s problems, we want justice for the people who were victims, obviously, and as I said, we are happy to talk with the folks who are doing the investigation. But the things they said about me just were flat-out not true.”

As President, Trump said he believed his ally Jordan “100 percent”: “I don’t believe them at all,” Trump told reporters, referring to the wrestlers who have come forward.

Thus, a President accused of moral depravity found himself defended by a man accused of ignoring the sexual abuse of young men.

And today, elevated by a Republican House win in 2022, a man who defended wholesale corruption by Trump now holds investigative authority over those law enforcement agencies who fought to expose that corruption.

LIFE LESSONS FOR THE COMING NEW YEAR—AND EVERY NEW YEAR

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Medical, RELIGION, Social commentary on December 30, 2022 at 1:01 am

New Year’s Eve, 2022, will soon lie behind us.

And for many people, saying “Goodbye” to 2022 can’t happen soon enough.

New Year’s Eve is traditionally a time for people to reflect on the major events of the previous 12 months. Some of these are highly personal. Others have been shared by the entire country.

Some of these remembrances inevitably bring pleasure. Others bring pain.

And 2022 has been a year of pain for millions.

Starting on February 24, Russian President Vladimir Putin unleashed a violent assault on Ukraine. Even after his forces were battered by Ukrainian armies, he continued to hurl missiles at Russia’s “brother nation.” As a result, many Ukrainians spent Christmas without electricity or running water.

The invasion was accompanied by Putin’s threats of nuclear war if the West didn’t stop supplying Ukraine with weaponry to repulse his unprovoked attack.

COVID-19 continued to sweep across the globe. Although largely under control in the United States, it remained a mortal threat. In China, that threat surged as the government dropped restrictions that had largely kept it at bay since 2020. 

Coronavirus is the voice of the Earth | Schumacher College

COVID-19

But, as the year ended, hope suddenly dawned: During mid-term elections, millions of Americans rejected Donald Trump’s continuing lies that he had been cheated of victory in 2020. As a result, Republicans won only the House, whereas they had been expected to win the Senate as well.

And as the United States braced itself for an onslaught of tens of thousands—if not millions—of illegal aliens, the Supreme Court upheld—at least temporarily—Title 42.

This policy, begun in 2020, during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, has allowed immigration agents to expel 2.4.million illegal aliens from the southern border. 

At the heart of every New Year’s Eve celebration is the fantasy that you get to start fresh in a matter of hours. And with that fantasy comes hope—that, this time, you can put your sorrows and failures behind you. 

And each new year comes with lessons to be learned—and applied.

Each year gives us the chance to learn from history—our own and that of others. Try to learn from your mistakes—and especially those of others. With luck, you won’t repeat your past ones—or those of others. But don’t expect to lead a mistake-free life. 

There is a time to be bold—and a time to be cautious. As Niccolo Machiavelli put it: “A prince….must imitate the fox and the lion: For the lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves.”  Learn to tell when is the appropriate time to be which—and to play that role to the hilt. 

Niccolo Machiavelli

There is image—and there is reality.  J.P. Morgan once said: “A man always has two reasons for doing anything: A good reason and the real reason.” This is never truer than when a corporation or politician is asking for your money / vote. When trying to decide whether to commit yourself to either, ask yourself: Who benefits? For example: When studying a proposed law that claims to aid the environment, find out who supports it. That will usually tell you what you need to know.

Learn how to evaluate others. Once again, Niccolo Machiavelli supplies the answer: “The first impression that one gets of a ruler and his brains is from seeing the men that he has about him.  When they are competent and loyal one can always consider him wise, as he has been able to recognize their ability and keep them faithful.  But when they are the reverse, one can always form an unfavorable opinion of him, because the first mistake that he makes is in making this choice.” 

Don’t confuse wealth with virtue. Too many Americans believe that wealth is a gift that God bestows on the worthy. If this were true, every Mafia boss would be a candidate for sainthood.  

Each year is a journey unto itself—filled with countless joys and sorrows. Many of these joys can’t be predicted. And many of these tragedies can’t be prevented.

Learn to tell real dangers from imaginary ones. Computers are real—and sometimes they crash. Men who died 2,000 years ago do not leap out of graveyards, no matter what their disciples predict.

Don’t expect any particular year to usher in the Apocalypse. In any given year there will be wars, famines, earthquakes, riots, floods and a host of other disasters. These have always been with us—and always will be. As Abraham Lincoln once said: “The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” 

159,687 Fireworks Stock Photos - Free & Royalty-Free Stock Photos from Dreamstime

Don’t expect some Great Leader to lead you to success. As Gaius Cassius says in William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”: “Men at some time are masters of their fate. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves that we are underlings.”

Don’t expect any particular year or event to usher in your happiness. To again quote Lincoln: “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

If your life seems to make no sense to you, consider this: The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once noted: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

AMERICA’S CHOICE: FREEDOM–OR FASCISM: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 29, 2022 at 12:15 am

On November 22, 2019, Mark Shields—a liberal syndicated columnist—and David Brooks—a conservative one for The New York Timesreached disturbingly similar conclusions about President Donald Trump’s efforts to extort a “favor” from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

DAVID BROOKS: “What strikes me [is] that everyone was in the loop, that this was not something they tried to hide.

“This was just something they thought was the way politics gets done or foreign policy gets done, that there’s no division between personal gain and public service.”

MARK SHIELDS: “What I have underestimated….is the fear that Donald Trump exercises over Republicans. I mean, people talked about Lyndon Johnson being a fearsome political leader. They don’t even approach. I mean, he strikes fear into the hearts of Republicans up and down the line. And I think that….has been eye-opening in its dimensions.”

Nor did the GOP try to reign Trump in.

In a November 14, 2019 column, “Republicans Can’t Abandon Trump Now Because They’re All Guilty,” freelance journalist Joel Mathis warned: “Trump’s abuses of power mirror those of the GOP as a whole. Republicans can’t turn on him, because doing so would be to indict their party’s entire approach to politics.”

For example:

  • At the state level, GOP legislatures have passed numerous voter ID laws over the last decade. Officially, the reason has been to prevent non-citizens from voting. In reality, the motive is to depress turnout among Democratic constituencies.
  • When Democrats have won elections, Republicans have tried to block them from carrying out their policies. In Utah, voters approved Medicaid expansion at the ballot box—but Republicans nullified this.
  • In North Carolina, Republican legislators prevented voters from choosing their representatives. Instead, Republican representatives chose voters through partisan sorting. In September, the state’s Supreme Court ruled the legislative gerrymandered district map unconstitutional.

The upshot of all this: “The president and his party are united in the belief that their entitlement to power allows them to manipulate and undermine the country’s democratic processes….”

Republican Disc.svg

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On November 21, 2019, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, attacked Republicans’ total rejection of the overwhelming evidence linking Trump with extortion:

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Adam Schiff

“But apparently, it’s all hearsay. Even when you actually hear the President….that’s hearsay. We can’t rely on people saying what the President said. Apparently, we can only rely on what the President says, and there, we shouldn’t even rely on that either….

“We should imagine he said something about actually fighting corruption, instead of what he actually said, which was, ‘I want you to do us a favor, though. I want you to look into this 2016 CrowdStrike conspiracy theory, and I want you to look into the Bidens.’

“I guess we’re not even supposed to rely on that because that’s hearsay….That would be like saying you can’t rely on the testimony of the burglars during Watergate because it’s only hearsay, or you can’t consider the fact that they tried to break in because they got caught. They actually didn’t get what they came for, so, you know, kind of no harm, no foul. That’s absurd.

“The difference between [Watergate and Trump’s attempted extortion of Ukraine] is not the difference between [Richard] Nixon and [Donald] Trump. It’s the difference between that Congress and this one. And so, we are asking, where is Howard Baker? Where are the people who are willing to go beyond their party to look to their duty? 

“But the other defense besides ‘It failed, the scheme failed, they got caught,’ the other defense is ‘The President denies it.’ Well, I guess that’s case closed, right?

“….This President believes he is above the law, beyond accountability. And in my view, there is nothing more dangerous than an unethical President who believes they are above the law.”

* * * * *

The United States has indeed become a polarized country. But it’s not the polarization between Republicans and Democrats, or between conservatives and liberals.

It’s the polarization between

  • Those intent on enslaving everyone who doesn’t subscribe to their Fascistic beliefs and agenda—and those who resist being enslaved. 
  • Those who believe in reason and science—and those who believe in an infallible “strong man” who rejects both.
  • Those who cherish education—and those who celebrate ignorance.
  • Those who believe in the rule of law—and those who believe in their right to act as a law unto themselves.
  • Those who believe in treating others (especially the less fortunate) with decency—and those who believe in the triumph of intimidation and force.

Those who hoped that Republicans would choose patriotism over partisanship got their answer on February 5, 2020. That was when the Republican-dominated Senate—ignoring the overwhelming evidence against him—acquitted Donald Trump on both impeachment articles: Obstruction of Congress and Abuse of Power.

It’s natural to regret that the United States has become a sharply divided nation. But those who lament this should realize there is only one choice:

Either non-Fascist Americans will destroy the Republican party and its voters that threaten to enslave them—or they will be enslaved by Republicans and their voters who believe they are entitled to manipulate and undermine the country’s democratic processes.

There is no middle ground. 

AMERICA’S CHOICE: FREEDOM–OR FASCISM: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 28, 2022 at 12:07 am

On November 14, 2019, the CNN website showcased an opinion piece by Jane Carr and Laura Juncadella entitled: “Fractured States of America.” 

And it opened:

“Some worry that it’s already too late, that we’ve crossed a threshold of polarization from which there is no return. Others look toward a future where more moderate voices are heeded and heard, and Americans can find better ways to relate to each other. Still others look back to history for a guide—perhaps for what not to do, or at the very least for proof that while it’s been bad before, progress is still possible.”

A series of sub-headlines summed up many of the comments reported. 

  • “I was starting to hate people that I have loved for years.”
  • “Voting for Trump cost me my friends.”
  • “I feel like I’m living in hostile territory.”
  • “Our children are watching this bloodsport.”
  • “A student’s Nazi-style salute reflects the mate.”
  • “Our leaders reflect the worst of us.”
  • “I truly believe I will be assaulted over a bumper sticker.”
  • “It already feels like a cold war.” 

It’s natural to regret that the United States has become so self-destructively polarized. And to wish that its citizens could somehow reach across the chasm that divides them and find common cause with one another.

But that is to ignore the brutal truth that America now faces a choice:

  1. To submit to the tyrannical aggression of a ruthless political party convinced that they are entitled to power to manipulate and undermine the country’s democratic processes; or
  2. To fiercely resist that aggression and the destruction of those democratic processes. 

Consider the face-off between President Donald J. Trump and Army Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman.

Vindman is a retired United States Army officer who served as the Director for European Affairs for the United States National Security Council. He was also a witness to Trump’s efforts to extort “a favor” from the president of Ukraine.

Alexander Vindman on May 20, 2019.jpg

Lt. Colonel Alexander Vindman

Адміністрація Президента України [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D

In July, 2019, Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to withhold almost $400 million in promised military aid for Ukraine, which faced increasing aggression from Russia.

On July 25, Trump telephoned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “request” a “favor”: Investigate 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, who had had business dealings in Ukraine.

The reason for such an investigation: To find embarrassing “dirt” on Biden.

It was clear that unless Zelensky found “dirt” on Biden, the promised aid would not be forthcoming.

“I was concerned by the call,” Vindman, who had heard Trump’s phone call, testified before the House Intelligence Committee. “I did not think it was proper to demand that a foreign government investigate a U.S. citizen, and I was worried about the implications for the U.S. Government’s support of Ukraine.

“I realized that if Ukraine pursued an investigation into the Bidens and Burisma, it would likely be interpreted as a partisan play which would undoubtedly result in Ukraine losing the bipartisan support it has thus far maintained. This would all undermine U.S. national security.”

Trump denounced Vindman as a “Never Trumper”—as if opposing his extortion attempt constituted a blasphemy. Republicans and their shills on the Fox News Network attacked him as well. As a result, he sought physical protection by the Army for himself and his family. 

(On February 7, 2020,  he was reassigned from the National Security Council at Trump’s order.)

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Donald Trump

On November 15, 2019, conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks and liberal syndicated columnist Mark Shields appeared on The PBS Newshour to offer their reactions by Republicans and Democrats to Trump’s extortion attempt.

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David Brooks and Mark Shields on “The PBS Newshour”

DAVID BROOKS: “The case is very solid and airtight that there was the quid pro quo. All the testimony points to that. And, mostly, you see a contrast. The first two gentlemen that testified on the first day, they were just upstanding, solid public servants.

“I felt like I was looking back in time, because I was looking at two people who are not self-centered. They cared about the country. They were serving. They had no partisan ax to grind. They were just honest men of integrity.

“And I thought we saw that again today with [former Ambassador to Ukraine] Marie Yovanovitch. And in her case, the day was more emotional, because you got to see a case of bullying against a strong, upstanding woman.

“And so I thought she expressed—like, the heavy moments of today where when she expressed her reaction to how badly she was treated. And so that introduces an element of emotion and pathos into what shouldn’t be just a legal proceeding. It should be something where people see the contrast between good people and bad people.” 

MARK SHIELDS: This is a story of corruption—corruption not in Ukraine, corruption in the United States.

“I mean, why? Why did they go to such lengths to denigrate, to attack, to try and destroy and sabotage the career of a dedicated public servant [United States Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovich], a person who had put her life on the line? Why did they do it? What was it, money? Was it power?”

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