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Posts Tagged ‘AFFORDABLE CARE ACT’

THE RIGHT’S NEXT TARGET: THE RIGHT TO PRIVACY

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on June 29, 2022 at 12:12 am

“If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not  resort  to the  regular courts  of justice, then all  I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the Supreme Judge of the German people!”

That was how Chancellor—not yet Fuhrer-–Adolf Hitler justified his June 30, 1934 purge of his private army, the brown-shirted S.A. It has gone down in history as “The Night of the Long Knives.”

Adolf Hitler

It took five “Supreme Judges” of the American people to purge the right to abortion for millions of American women—including victims of rape and incest.

Hitler’s “blood purge” carried Germany yet another step closer to Nazi dictatorship. Similarly, the Supreme Court has carried the United States yet another step closer to a Republican dictatorship.

In the past, the Supreme Court has made decisions that have blackened its reputation in the eyes of historians.

One of these occurred in 1857, in what has become known as the “Dred Scott decision.” The Court decided 7–2 that neither Scott nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States.

The case centered on slaves Dred and Harriet Scott and their children, Eliza and Lizzie. The Scotts claimed that they should be granted their freedom because Dred had lived in Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory for four years. Slavery was illegal in those jurisdictions, and their laws said that slaveholders gave up their rights to slaves if they stayed for an extended period.

Dred Scott photograph (circa 1857).jpg

Dred Scott

Chief Justice Roger B. Taney ruled that freeing Scott and his family would “improperly deprive Scott’s owner of his legal property.” 

As despicable as the Dred Scott decision was, it nevertheless lay grounded in the existing laws of that time. The Court did not reverse an earlier ruling. Millions who were already enslaved were kept enslaved. But it did not extend slavery throughout the country.

The Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade set a huge and dangerous legal precedent.

On January 22, 1973, the Court had struck down virtually every anti-abortion law in the country. On June 24, 2022, it overturned that decision.

It went, in effect, from having expanded freedom of choice to suddenly abolishing itAnd the Justices did so in the single most intimate aspect of a woman’s life.  

Once people have tasted a benefit, they expect it to continue. When President Barack Obama fought to secure passage of the Affordable Care Amendment (ACA) Republicans repeatedly and savagely tried to prevent its becoming law.

And once it became law, Republicans continued to try to overturn it. They knew that if millions of poor and middle-class Americans finally won the right to obtain medical care, they would support it as wholeheartedly as they did Medicare, Social Security and the Civil Rights Act.

For 49 years, Republicans made ending the right to abortion their key issue for gaining and holding elective office. It won them cheers, votes and monies from the Religious Right and powerful Right-wing forces such as Fox News.

Now, suddenly, they have attained their objective. Millions of women will no longer be able to obtain an abortion in cases of rape or incest—let alone because of a failed condom or birth control pill. 

Nor is that the only right the Justices intend to revoke.  

In his concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas said that the Roe decision should prompt the Court to reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents. And he named the three landmark decisions that established those rights.

Clarence Thomas official SCOTUS portrait.jpg

Clarence Thomas

According to Kenji Yoshino, Professor of Constitutional Law at the New York University School of Law: 

“The Ninth Amendment says that there are unenumerated [implied] rights in the Constitution. And those include things that we take for granted every day, like the right to vote, the right to marry, the right to travel.

“These are all rights that are nowhere enumerated explicitly in the constitution but that we nonetheless take for granted as Americans.

“One of the most shocking things about [the Court’s] opinion was that these unenumerated rights will only be respected if they are deeply rooted in this nation’s history and traditions. And so it essentially said that if the framers of the 14th Amendment in 1868 didn’t recognize the right and question that the right didn’t have constitutional existence.

“And so that’s what leads Justice Thomas and that concurrence, to see an opening to say, ‘Well, maybe we’ll get rid of not just the right to abortion, but also the right to same-sex marriage, the right to sexual intimacy and the privacy of your home, and even the right to contraception.'” 

Thomas, says Yoshino, is inviting lower courts to reach that conclusion. He is also inviting Right-wing litigants to bring cases which can eventually reach the Supreme Court.

Thomas is in effect saying that once this happens, the right to same-sex marriage, contraception and privacy can be struck down by the Court—just as it has struck down the right to abortion.

Mark Antony, speaking in William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” had it right: “The evil that men do lives after them.”

DON’T SAY YOU WEREN’T WARNED: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 2, 2022 at 12:11 am

Next to the American flag, Republicans have loudly pledged their loyalty to the nuclear family. 

And Florida United States Senator Rick Scott, in his “11 Point Plan to Rescue America,” is no exception.

Point 8:  We will protect, defend, and promote the American Family at all costs. The nuclear family is crucial to civilization, it is God’s design for humanity, and it must be protected and celebrated. To say otherwise is to deny science. 

In two succeeding sentences, Scott manages to ludicrously contradict himself. First he claims that the nuclear family is “God’s design for humanity.” In the next, he says that to contradict him is to “deny science.”

Here are the facts:

First of all, there is no scientific proof for the existence of God. It is simply a belief.

Second, the nuclear family—a married couple and their dependent children under the age of 18—is a fast-disappearing species. 

A man, woman, and two children smiling outside of a house

Nuclear family – 1955 

Seattle Municipal Archives from Seattle, WA, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

There are currently just 23.1 million American homes with those ‘nuclear families,’ which is the fewest since 1959. So much for “God’s design for humanity.”

Point 9: Men are men, women are women, and unborn babies are babies. 

“Men are men, women are women”: Republicans seek to frighten voters into voting for them by appealing to the fear that “Gays and transgenders are coming for your children.”

Without offering proof, they slander their opponents as “groomers”—pedophiles who befriend children and build their trust, leading to their sexual abuse.  

The truth is that gays don’t prey on heterosexuals but seek out others of their own sexual persuasion. The same is true for transgenders.

Meanwhile, the Republican party has had its own share of closeted pedophiles.

Among them:

  • Josh (“18 Kids and Counting”) Duggar, recently sentenced to 12 years for possession of child pornography;
  • Dennis Hastert, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, who sexually molested four young boys when he was their high school wrestling coach.

Josh Duggar

As for “Unborn babies are babies”: Those who have not yet been born are fetuses. 

While Republicans have waged an almost 50-year war against legalized abortion, they have waged an equally aggressive war against Social Security, Medicare, the Affordable Care Act, food stamps, affordable housing, and aid to the blind and disabled.

In short: They oppose all those programs intended to help those who have been born.

Point 10: Americans will be free to welcome God into all aspects of our lives, and we will stop all government efforts to deny our religious freedom and freedom of speech. 

The Democratic party is not trying to “deny our religious freedom and freedom of speech.” 

On the contrary: It’s Republicans who have crafted laws to turn claimed religious beliefs into a weapon of discrimination.

A classic example: On March 26, 2015, Indiana’s then-Governor Mike Pence signed into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. 

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Mike Pence

This allows any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party.

Thus, a bakery that doesn’t want to make a cake to be used at a gay wedding or a restaurant that doesn’t want to serve lesbian patrons can legally refuse to do so.

Republicans have introduced similar “right-to-discriminate” legislation in other states as well—such as Kansas, Arizona and South Dakota. So far, all have failed to win passage.

Republicans claim they want to “get the government off the backs of the people.” But their fixation on regulating the sexual lives of Americans ensures government intrusions of the most intimate kind.

Point 11: We are Americans, not globalists. America will be dependent on NO other country. We will conduct no trade that takes away jobs or displaces American workers. 

This would be laughable except for the bitter truth: Countless numbers of Americans have lost their jobs because their companies deserted the United States for Third World nations like China, Vietnam or Mexico.

There are three reasons for this:

  1. To pay their employees far less than they would be paid in the United States;
  2. To avoid American restrictions on how employees can be treated; and
  3. To avoid enforcement of quality control regulations which ensure that products are safe and effective for use.

Republicans have loudly proclaimed themselves anti-globalists.

But when Donald Trump was President, the Chinese government granted 18 trademarks to companies linked to him and his daughter, Ivanka, within two months. 

In addition, Trump won approval to register three dozen trademarks in China covering everything from bars and hotels to child-care and massage services, raising further concerns over potential conflicts of interest.

From 2005 to 2017, Trump filed for 126 trademarks in China for his business empire. 

Rick Scott is a fierce defender of the former President and his policies. 

As for Scott’s claim, America will be dependent on NO other country”:

Like it or not, the United States can no longer separate itself from the rest of the world.

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has badly affected American imports of grain products from Ukraine.

And the Coronavirus pandemic has led to crucial shortages in goods America has long imported: Medicines, electronics, auto parts, solar panels, toys, air conditioners. 

Thus, this provision—like the rest of Scott’s plan—runs head-on into the ugliness of sheer reality.

DON’T SAY YOU WEREN’T WARNED: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 1, 2022 at 12:10 am

Among the goals of Republican Senator Rick Scott’s “11 Point Plan to Rescue America” are:

Point 4: We will secure our border, finish building the wall, and name it after President Donald Trump. 

There are multiple ways to illegally enter the United States—and thus circumvent a wall on its Southern border with Mexico. 

The United States is surrounded by water on three sides—East, West and South. So anyone with a boat can smuggle illegal aliens into the country at any point along its 12,383 miles of coastline.   

For those who get seasick, there’s a land route available—not across burning Mexican deserts but under them. 

Over the years, officials have found at least 200 tunnels along the 2,000-mile-long U.S.-Mexico border, mostly in Arizona and California. They range from rudimentary crawlspaces to “super tunnels” that cost more than a million dollars and are equipped with elevators, ventilation shafts electric lights, and disguised exits and entrances.

Smuggling tunnel - Wikipedia

Drug tunnel 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of those who want to infiltrate the United States can simply fly in.

Wealthy and pregnant Chinese women often fly to the United States to “anchor” themselves via a baby born on American soil. The same is true for many Russian women.

And the Number One cause of illegal immigration: Foreigners’ overstaying their visas. In 2017, more than 600,000 foreigners who legally entered the United States overstayed their visas and remained in the country by the end of the year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. 

So a wall is not going to solve America’s problem with illegal immigration.

Point 5: We will grow America’s economy, starve Washington’s economy, and stop Socialism. 

When Republicans promise to “grow America’s economy,” they mean: Remove all government controls from business.

In real-world terms, this means corporations will be legally allowed to: 

  1. Ignore existing laws protecting employees from unsafe working conditions;
  2. Ignore existing laws protecting the environment;
  3. Produce unsafe goods and fraudulent services;
  4. Pay their employees the lowest acceptable wages, in return for the “privilege” of working at these companies; 
  5. Discriminate on the basis of race, sex, religion or sexual orientation; and/or
  6. Pay little or no business taxes, at the expense of communities who are required to make up for lost tax revenues.

Anyone who doubts this need only look at the living standards in “Red”, Republican-governed states such as Florida and Texas.

“Starve Washington’s economy” means: Eliminating programs that Republicans don’t like—starting with Social Security, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. Anything that benefits ordinary Americans and not multi-billion dollar corporations will be slated for scrapping.

“Stopping socialism” is ludicrous: During his Presidency, Donald Trump’s best friends were Communist dictators: Vladimir Putin (Russia), Kim Jong-Un (North Korea) and Xi Jinping (China).

Trump actually bragged that, after an exchange of letters between himself and the murderous Kim Jong-Un, “We fell in love.”

Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump

Had a Democratic President made a similar statement, Republicans would have screamed “Treason!” In Trump’s case, they said nothing. 

Point 6: We will eliminate all federal programs that can be done locally, and enact term limits for federal bureaucrats and Congress.  

As for “enacting term limits for federal bureaucrats and Congress”: This is the party that tried to illegally and treasonously overturn the results of a legitimate Presidential election so its candidate—Donald Trump—could remain in office as “President-for-Life” after losing the vote.

Point 7: We will protect the integrity of American Democracy and stop left-wing efforts to rig elections.

Scott’s platform is worth quoting in full on this issue: 

Today’s Democrat Party is trying to rig elections and pack the courts because they have given up on Democracy. They don’t believe they can win based on their ideas, so they want to game the system and legalize voter fraud to stay in power. In true Orwellian fashion, Democrats refer to their election rigging plans as “voting rights”. We won’t allow the radical left to destroy our democracy by institutionalizing dishonesty and fraud.  

Immediately after the verdict of the November 3, 2020 Presidential election was announced, President Donald Trump ordered his attorneys to file lawsuits overturning the results. 

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Donald Trump

  • Throughout November and December, 2020, cases were filed in Wisconsin, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Minnesota and Georgia challenging the election results. None were supported by evidence of fraud—as even Trump’s lawyers admitted when questioned by judges. 
  • On November 13, nine cases meant to attack President-Elect Joe Biden’s win in key states were denied or dropped. A law firm challenging the vote count in Pennsylvania withdrew from the effort.
  • In Michigan, Trump’s attorneys dropped their federal suit to block the certification of Detroit-area ballots.
  • By November 21, more than 30 cases were withdrawn by Trump’s attorneys or dismissed by Federal judges—some of them appointed by Trump himself.

Ultimately, from November 3 to December 14, 2020, Trump and his allies lost 59 times in court, either withdrawing cases or having them dismissed by Federal and state judges. 

This is the party that, since November, 2020, has sold a lie to millions of Right-wing Americans that the election was “stolen” from Donald trump.

It is Republicans—not Democrats—who have stopped trying to win elections based on their ideas and are now trying to win them by massive voter suppression. It’s hardly a party to be entrusted with election security. 

DON’T SAY YOU WEREN’T WARNED: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 31, 2022 at 12:10 am

“The militant left now controls the entire federal government, the news media, academia, Hollywood, and most corporate boardrooms—but they want more. They are redefining America and silencing their opponents.

“Among the things they plan to change or destroy are: American history, patriotism, border security, the nuclear family, gender, traditional morality, capitalism, fiscal responsibility, opportunity, rugged individualism, Judeo-Christian values, dissent, free speech, color blindness, law enforcement, religious liberty, parental involvement in public schools, and private ownership of firearms.

“Is this the beginning of the end of America? Only if we allow it to be.”

So accuses Rick Scott, former governor of Florida and now a United States Senator from that state. With the next Presidential election approaching in less than two years, Scott is positioning himself to be the next Republican nominee for that office.

Official Portrait of Senator Rick Scott (R-FL).jpg

Rick Scott

For decades, many dissatisfied voters have argued there’s no real difference between the Democratic and Republican parties.

Obviously smarting from that criticism, Scott aims to show that even if there’s no difference between the parties, there is a difference between him and every other Presidential candidate.

That’s why Scott has crafted “An 11 Point Plan to Rescue America.”

It merits close inspection—because if Scott or someone else with his agenda becomes President of the United States with a united Republican House and Senate behind him, this country will become  entirely different from the one that exists today.

Point 1: Our kids will say the pledge of allegiance, salute the Flag, learn that America is a great country, and choose the school that best fits them. 

Like so many Right-wingers, Scott is apparently unaware that the Pledge of Allegiance was written in August, 1892, by the socialist minister Francis Bellamy. He hoped that the pledge would be used by citizens in any country, not just the United States.

Francis Bellamy

In its original form it read:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923, the words, “the Flag of the United States of America” were added.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words “under God,” to distinguish Americans from “Godless” Communists.

“Learn that America is a great country” conjures up images of the propaganda force-fed to students of the former Soviet Union—and now in Russia. Just as Russians are taught that their military has never fought an aggressive war, so, too, do Republicans want to erase the subject of slavery and its long-term effects on society from American classrooms

Point 2: Government will never again ask American citizens to disclose their race, ethnicity, or skin color on any government forms. 

Republicans have made race—as a source of friction between voters—a crucial part of their electoral campaigns. As far back as 1968, Richard Nixon campaigned on a “Southern strategy”—of stoking white fears of blacks. 

It was this that won Nixon the Presidency in 1968 and 1972 and the White House for George H.W. Bush in 1988.

As blacks have gained in population and political clout, they have been succeeded by Hispanics as the Great Enemy for Republicans.

The top priority for Donald Trump—both as a Presidential candidate and President—was building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. That this would not have stopped illegal immigration meant nothing to him—or his millions of Right-wing followers.

Without a way to track the growth rates of nonwhites, Republicans won’t know how to target their self-declared enemies.

Point 3: The soft-on-crime days of coddling criminal behavior will end. We will re-fund and respect the police because they, not the criminals, are the good guys. 

On January 6, 2021, “law and order” President Donald Trump incited a mob to attack the United States Capitol Building. Inside, members of Congress were meeting to count and certify Electoral College votes for the 2020 Presidential election.

Trump had clearly lost that election in November, yet for the previous two months he had repeatedly and falsely claimed he was the victim of a “rigged” election. His followers, believing that lie, intended to overturn the results of a legitimate election. 

After more than three hours, police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. More than 150 officers were injured in the attack by “law and order” Republicans.

January 6, 2021 coup attempt 

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

Even after the failed coup, 147 House and Senate Republicans voted to overturn the election.

Not the sort of behavior calculated to instill respect for the rule of law.

Point 4: We will secure our border, finish building the wall, and name it after President Donald Trump. 

For the vast majority of Republican voters, “building the wall” means achieving 100% border security against illegal immigration.  This is absurd. 

Among the obstacles to erecting such a barrier:

  • The United States/Mexican border stretches for 1,954 miles—and encompasses rivers, deserts and mountains;
  • Environmental and engineering problems;
  • Ranchers who refuse to give up any of their land;
  • Building such a wall would cost untold billions of dollars.

Another problem: The United States is surrounded by water on three sides—East, West and South. So anyone with a boat can smuggle illegal aliens into the country at any point along its 12,383 miles of coastline. 

MORE THAN FETUSES MAY BE ABORTED

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 17, 2022 at 12:10 am

In The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science, raised the question of “whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved.”

And he answered it: “The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved.”  

But Machiavelli warned against relying primarily on fear:

“Still, a prince should make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred, for fear and the absence of hatred may well go together, and will always be attained by one who abstains from interfering with the property of his citizens….or with their women.”  

If the Republicans governing Georgia and Alabama ever read this warning, they have ignored it with a vengeance.

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito.jpg

Niccolo Machiavelli

On May 7, 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed an anti-abortion law that—in defiance of the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade—re-criminalizes abortion.

The law bans abortions as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detectable. This usually occurs about six weeks into a pregnancy—even before many women know they’re pregnant.

The law permits abortions

  • Only if the mother’s life is at risk; or
  • If the fetus cannot survive. 

No exceptions are made for cases of rape or incest.

“HB 481 would also have consequences for women who get abortions from doctors or miscarry,” writes Mark Joseph Stern for Slate.

“A woman who seeks out an illegal abortion from a health care provider would be a party to murder, subject to life in prison. And a woman who miscarries because of her own conduct—say, using drugs while pregnant—would be liable for second-degree murder, punishable by 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment.

“Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses.”  [Emphasis added.]

In addition, a woman could be sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment if she leaves Georgia to obtain an abortion in another state.Related image

And on May 14, 2019, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law the “Alabama Human Life Protection Act.” The law only allows exceptions “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.”

Again, no exceptions are made for rape or incest.

Ivey admitted that the new law may be unenforceable owing to Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in all 50 states. But the whole point of the law is to challenge that decision, Ivey said.

Republicans constantly claim to be “the party of small government.” But there can be no more intrusive act than dictating to a woman that she must give birth—even if she’s the victim of rape or incest.      

At the same time:

  • Republicans have proven uniformly hostile to providing poor mothers with access to food, clothing and medical care.
  • Donald Trump made repealing the Affordable Care Act—which provides medical insurance to more than 20 million Americans—the hallmark of his Presidency.

It’s easy to imagine many of these women fatally cracking under the strain.  

On December 6, 2011, Rachelle Grimmer, a 38-year-old resident of San Antonio, pulled a gun in a state welfare office and held off police for seven hours. Then she shot and wounded her two children—ages 10 and 12—before fatally shooting herself.

For months, she had been unable to qualify for food stamps. 

Thus, women living in abortion-banning states face Right-wing hypocrisy on one hand and draconian laws punishing the most intimate acts—of sexuality and reproductive freedom—on the other.

It’s easy to imagine some pregnant women—especially the victims of incest and/or rape—desperately seeking redress through violence. And the targets of their wrath could easily be the Republican legislators of their states who have made their lives a living hell.

Trump is constantly guarded by the Secret Service. And governors are protected by state police. But state assemblymen and senators aren’t assigned such details—unless there’s a specific threat made against them. Nor are anti-abortion Right-wing commentators like Tucker Carlson.

In fact, Right-wing figures have often been the targets of successful—and unsuccessful—assassination attempts.

  • On September 8, 1935, Louisiana U.S. Senator Huey Long was shot and fatally wounded by Carl Austin Weiss, an idealistic young doctor. Long had intended to run for President in 1936 and unseat Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • On May 27, 1942, SS Obergruppenführer (General) Reinhard Heydrich—“The Butcher of Prague”—was killed with a hand grenade by two Czech patriots.
  • On May 15, 1972, Presidential candidate George C. Wallace was shot and paralyzed by a crazed gunman while mingling with supporters in a Maryland shopping center.
  • On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot and almost killed by a psychotic gunman while walking to his bulletproof limousine in Washington, D.C. 

All but one of these men (Heydrich) were protected by bodyguards when they were attacked.

Given the ferocity of laws aimed specifically at them, some women may decide to abort more than fetuses.

TRUMP AND TRAGEDY: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Entertainment, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on May 4, 2022 at 12:12 am

For historian and classicist Victor Davis Hanson, Donald Trump possesses an unappreciated self-awareness and sense of what it means to be a tragic hero.

Trump was into the first year of his Presidency when Hanson penned his article, “Donald Trump, Tragic Hero,” published on April 12, 2018. 

To make his case, Hanson cites a series of popular Western movies featuring lethal men who risk—and sometimes sacrifice—their lives on behalf of others too weak to vanquish evil on their own.

Victor Davis Hanson (@VDHanson) | Twitter

Victor Davis Hanson

Thus in the classic 1960 film, The Magnificent Seven, the Seven slaughter the outlaw Calvera and his banditos—and then ride into the sunset. As they do, Chris (Yul Brynner) tells Vin (Steve McQueen): “The old man was right. Only the farmers won. We lost. We always lose.”

Writes Hanson: “He knows that few appreciate that the tragic heroes in their midst are either tragic or heroic — until they are safely gone and what they have done in time can be attributed to someone else. Worse, he knows that the tragic hero’s existence is solitary and without the nourishing networks and affirmation of the peasant’s agrarian life.”

Chris may know this, but there is absolutely no evidence that Trump does. He has never shown even an awareness of sensitivity and self-knowledge, let alone the possession of either. Trump is at best semi-literate. The concept of tragedy—as expressed in the Greek tragedies to which Hanson refers throughout his article—means nothing to Trump.

Moreover, the Seven have risked their lives—and four of them have died doing so—on behalf of villagers who can pay them almost nothing.

It is inconceivable that Trump would risk anything—especially his life—for people he regarded as poor and thus unworthy of his concern.

The Magnificent Seven (1960 poster).jpg

Copyright © 1960 – United Artists Corporation.”, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In their first encounter with Calvera (Eli Wallach) the bandit chief offers to make the Seven partners in his ravaging of the village. Of his intended victims, Calvera sneers: “If God had not wanted them sheared, he would not have made them sheep.”

If Trump had heard Calvera’s offer, he would have instantly accepted it.

In June 2016, USA Today published an analysis of litigation involving Trump. Over the previous 30 years, Trump and his businesses had been involved in 3,500 legal cases in U.S. Federal and state courts.

Of the 3,500 suits, Trump or one of his companies were plaintiffs in 1,900; defendants in 1,450; and bankruptcy, third party, or other in 150. Trump was named in at least 169 suits in federal court.

Many of those cases centered around his refusal to pay contractors for their finished work on his properties. Most of the contractors didn’t have the financial resources—as Trump had—to spend years in court trying to obtain the monies they were owed. As a result, they never received payment—or, at best, only a small portion of what they were owed.

When he ran for President in 2015-16, Trump repeatedly promised poor and middle-class Americans a far better plan for medical care than the Affordable Care Act. 

He spent the next four years thuggishly trying to dismantle “Obanacare,” the signature achievement of Barack Obama, America’s first black President. But never did he offer even a general outline of his own alleged plan to “replace” it. 

Hanson tries to draw a further parallel between Trump and the fictional Tom Doniphon, the unsung hero of John Ford’s 1962 movie, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962 poster).jpg

Copyright © 1962 Paramount Pictures Corporation and John Ford Productions, Inc.”, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Hanson sums up the movie thus:

“Tom Doniphon (John Wayne)…unheroically kills the thuggish Liberty Valance [Lee Marvin], births the [political] career of Ranse Stoddard [James Stewart] and his marriage to Doniphon’s girlfriend [Vera Miles] and thereby ensures civilization is Shinbone’s frontier future. His service done, he burns down his house and degenerates from feared rancher to alcoholic outcast.” 

It is inconceivable that Trump would take the risk of committing a crime on behalf of someone else—or being able to resist bragging about it if he did. It is equally inconceivable that he would give up a woman he wanted for the happiness of another man.

Most unbelievable of all is the suggestion that Trump would imitate Doniphon by quietly riding off into the sunset.

Trump has often “joked” about becoming “President-for-Life.” After losing the November 3 Presidential election to former Vice President Joe Biden, he filed 60 lawsuits to overturn the will of 80 million voters. Those failing, he tried some old-fashioned but unsuccessful arm-twisting of several state lawmakers to “find” non-existent votes for him.

Finally, on January 6, he incited a mob of his fanatical followers to attack the United States Capitol Building. Their mission: Stop the counting of Electoral College ballots certain to give Biden the victory.   

Victor Davis Hanson is a brilliant scholar and colorful writer. But his effort on Trump’s behalf is embarrassing and appalling.

In a series of bestselling books, he has eloquently chronicled the heroism of the ancient Greeks in defending their budding democracy.

It is depressing—and frightening—to discover that this same man can blatantly ignore the criminalities and even treason of the greatest and most destructive tyrant to ever attain the Presidency.

TRUMP AND TRAGEDY: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Entertainment, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on May 3, 2022 at 12:13 am

Victor Davis Hanson has long been a distinguished historian and classicist at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

On April 12, 2018, the year before the publication of The Case for Trump, Hanson offered a preview of its upcoming contents in an article published in the well-known conservative magazine, National Review

Its title: “Donald Trump, Tragic Hero.”

“The very idea that Donald Trump could, even in a perverse way, be heroic may appall half the country,” begins his first paragraph. 

“Nonetheless, one way of understanding both Trump’s personal excesses and his accomplishments is that his not being traditionally presidential may have been valuable in bringing long-overdue changes in foreign and domestic policy.”

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Donald Trump

Having laid out his thesis, Hanson writes: “Tragic heroes, as they have been portrayed from Sophocles’ plays (e.g., AjaxAntigoneOedipus RexPhiloctetes) to the modern western film, are not intrinsically noble.”

On the contrary: A true tragic figure is a noble character with a fatal flaw, which ultimately destroys him.

To cite one from literature: Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hamlet believes that his father, the king of Denmark, has been murdered. He believes the murderer may be his uncle, Claudius, who has seized the throne. Hamlet is brilliant, athletic, supremely eloquent and conscientious. But he’s not completely certain that Claudius is guilty, and in his hesitation to strike he lays the seeds for his own destruction. 

To cite one from history: British General Charles George Gordon, sent by the British government in 1884 to evacuate the Sudanese city of Khartoum. But instead of evacuating its citizens, he chose to stay and fight the oncoming army of Mohammed Achmed, an Islamic religious fanatic who called himself The Madhi (“The Expected One”).

Although Gordon’s dynamic leadership enabled the city to hold out for almost a year, the British relief force arrived too late. The city was overwhelmed and Gordon himself killed.

Various theories have emerged to explain his motive: He was a religious fanatic; he had a death wish; he was arrogant to believe he could hold off an entire army. Any one or more of these theories could be correct. 

Charles George Gordon - Wicipedia

Charles George Gordon

But the fact remains that for almost an entire year he kept alive about 30,000 men, women and children. It was only the failure of the British to send a relief army in time that allowed the city—and Gordon—to perish. 

Tragic heroes always have a cause that is bigger than life—something that makes giving up life worthwhile. They always recognize this, and they have the ability to put into perspective the ultimate sacrifice—giving up life—for the good of something bigger. 

Which brings us back to Trump. Apart from being a five-times draft-dodger during the Vietnam war, he has never made an act of professional or personal sacrifice for anyone.

On the contrary: he has been forced to shut down both his Trump Foundation and unaccredited Trump University.

Trump was forced to pay more than $2 million in court-ordered damages to eight different charities for illegally misusing charitable funds at the Foundation for political purposes.

And his university scammed its students, promising to teach them “the secrets of success” in the real estate industry—then delivering nothing. In 2016, a federal court approved a $25 million settlement  with many of those students.

This is hardly the stuff of which tragic heroes are made.

The Controversy Surrounding Trump University - ABC News

Hanson cites several examples from famous Western movies to make his case that Trump deserves the status of a tragic hero. 

One of these is the classic 1953 “Shane,” starring Alan Ladd as the soft-spoken gunfighter who intervenes decisively in a range war.

Writes Hanson:

“He alone possesses the violent skills necessary to free the homesteaders from the insidious threats of hired guns and murderous cattle barons. Yet by the time of his final resort to lethal violence, Shane has sacrificed all prior chances of reform and claims on reentering the civilized world of the stable ‘sodbuster’ community.”

Comparing Trump to Shane is unbelievably ludicrous. Shane doesn’t boast about his past—in fact, this remains a mystery throughout the movie. Trump constantly brags—about the money he’s made, the buildings he’s put up, the women he’s bedded, the enemies he’s crushed (or plans to).

Moreover, Shane takes the side of poor homesteaders at the mercy of a rich cattle baron, Rufus Ryker. Ryker tries to bully the homesteaders into leaving. When that fails, he hires a ruthless gunman named Jack Wilson (Jack Palance).

In the film’s climax, Shane kills Wilson, and then Ryker, in a barroom showdown. Then he rides off—much to the sadness of Joey (Brandon de Wilde), the homesteaders’ son he has befriended.

“There’s no living with a killing,” says Shane. “There’s no going back from one. Right or wrong, it’s a brand. And a brand sticks.”

And so he rides on, knowing that his gunfighter’s skills make him an outcast among those very homesteaders whose lives he’s saved.

If Trump appeared in the movie, it would be as Ryker, not Shane.

Shane empathizes with the plight of others. Ryker–like Trump–hires others to do his dirty work. 

TRUMP AND TRAGEDY: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, Entertainment, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 2, 2022 at 12:10 am

“America needs the outsider Trump to do what normal politicians would not and could not do.”

That was the assertion made by Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, in Palo Alto, California.

Among his bestsellers on military history:

  • The Second World Wars
  • Carnage and Culture
  • Wars of the Ancient Greeks
  • The Western Way of War
  • The Soul of Battle: How Three Great Liberators Vanquished Tyranny

Historian Victor Davis Hanson said there has been no consequences for the wrongdoing by elites in society and warned that republics and successful states fall apart when the elites fall out of touch with the people."We have a whole bunch... here at home, that feel they can dictate to people and they're never subject to the ramifications of their own ideology and policy," he said of elites. "And it's like the emperor has no clothes and then they're surprised that Trump won or surprised that peo

Victor Davis Hanson

In 2019, Hanson turned his attention to politics—specifically, The Case for Trump.

Its dust-jacket provides a useful summary of its contents:

“This New York Times bestselling Trump biography from a major American intellectual explains how a renegade businessman became one of the most successful—and necessary—presidents of all time.

“In The Case for Trump, award-winning historian and political commentator Victor Davis Hanson explains how a celebrity businessman with no political or military experience triumphed over sixteen well-qualified Republican rivals, a Democrat with a quarter-billion-dollar war chest, and a hostile media and Washington establishment to become president of the United States — and an extremely successful president.

“Trump alone saw a political opportunity in defending the working people of America’s interior whom the coastal elite of both parties had come to scorn, Hanson argues. And Trump alone had the instincts and energy to pursue this opening to victory, dismantle a corrupt old order, and bring long-overdue policy changes at home and abroad.”

The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hanson | Basic Books

Hanson’s book appeared before Trump:

  • Tried to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to smear former Vice President Joseph Biden, who was likely to be his Democratic opponent in the 2020 Presidential election.
  • Allowed the deadly COVID-19 virus to ravage the country, killing more than 400,000 Americans by the time he left office. 
  • Attacked medical experts and governors who urged Americans to wear masks and socially distance to protect themselves from COVID-19.
  • Ordered his Right-wing followers to defy states’ orders to citizens to stay-at-home and wear masks in public to halt surging COVID-19 rates.
  • Became the first President in American history to refuse to accept the results of a Presidential election.
  • Tried to overturn the November 3, 2020 election of Joe Biden through 60 lawsuits and the arm-twisting of several state lawmakers.
  • Sent a mob of his fanatical followers  to attack the United States Capitol Building. Their mission: Stop the counting of Electoral College ballots certain to give Biden the victory.         
  • Was twice impeached during his four years in office—the only President to be impeached twice (and acquitted by a Republican Senate which ignored his litany of crimes).

But his book appeared after Trump had:

  • Fired FBI Director James Comey for pursuing ties between Trump’s 2016 Presidential campaign and Russian Intelligence agents.
  • Tried to fire Independent Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who was assigned to investigate those ties after Trump fired Comey. 
  • Attacked Attorney General Jeff Sessions for refusing to fire Mueller.
  • Attacked the integrity of Federal judges whose rulings he disagreed with.
  • Given Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey  Kislyak highly classified CIA Intelligence about an Islamic State plot to turn laptops into concealable bombs.
  • Amassed an infamous record as a serial liar, in both personal and Presidential matters.
  • Attacked the integrity of the American Intelligence community.
  • Sided with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency which unanimously agreed that Russia had subverted the 2016 Presidential election.
  • Repeatedly attacked the nation’s free press for daring to report his growing list of crimes and disasters, calling it “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Branded America’s longtime ally, Canada, as “a national security threat.”
  • Praised brutal Communist dictators Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.
  • Shut down the Federal Government for 35 days because Democrats refused to fund his ineffective “border wall” between the United States and Mexico. An estimated 380,000 government employees were furloughed and another 420,000 were ordered to work without pay. The shutdown ended due to public outrage—without Trump getting the funding amount he had demanded. 

So much for Hanson’s claims that Trump had been “one of the most successful—and necessary—presidents of all time.”

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Donald Trump

Then there’s Hanson’s claim that “Trump alone saw a political opportunity in defending the working people of America’s interior whom the coastal elite of both parties had come to scorn.” 

In November, 2017, Trump and a Republican-dominated House and Senate rammed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 through Congress. It became law on December 22, 2017.

According to Chye-Ching Huang, Director of Federal Fiscal Policy, the law did nothing to help ordinary Americans.

Testifying before the House Budget Committee on February 27, 2019, Huang stated that the law:

  • Ignored the stagnation of working-class wages and exacerbated inequality;
  • Weakened revenues when the nation needed to raise more;  
  • Encouraged rampant tax avoidance and gaming that will undermine the integrity of the tax code; 
  • Left behind low- and moderate-income Americans—and in many ways hurt them.

For American corporations, however, the law was a godsend: 

  • Cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent;
  • Shifting toward a territorial tax system, where multinational corporations’ foreign profits go largely untaxed;
  • Benefitting overwhelmingly wealthy shareholders and highly paid executives.

This was hardly an attempt at “defending the working people of America’s interior.”

Trump never made another attempt to “reform” the tax laws.

WHY REPUBLICANS ACTUALLY WANT TO GUT “OBAMACARE”

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 1, 2021 at 8:43 pm

On June 17, CNN ran a headlined story on its website: “Here’s Why Fighting the Affordable Care Act Means So Much to Republicans.”  

The story opened: “For the third time in the last nine years — and this time by a convincing 7-2 vote — the Supreme Court knocked out a Republican effort to invalidate” the Act.

The Justices said that the challengers of the law did not have legal “standing” to bring the case.

Opponents of the law were not harmed by the provisions they were challenging, the Justices ruled. The reason: Congressional Republicans had eliminated the penalty for failing to buy health insurance.

Republicans believed that eliminating the penalty would allow them to attack the entire law. They assumed that without the mandate—a pillar of the law when it was passed—the rest of the Act should fall, too.

Thus, the irony: Through their latest effort to destroy the Act by de-funding it, Republicans had unintentionally saved it before the Supreme Court.

U.S. Supreme Court building-m.jpg

The Supreme Court

The law is now providing access to healthcare for a record 31 million Americans, who would not otherwise be able to afford coverage.

In addition, the Act continues to:

  • Eliminate the “pre-existing condition” excuse insurance companies had used to deny coverage to those who most needed it;
  • Provide a range of no-cost preventive services;
  • Allows children to stay on their parents’ insurance up to age 26;
  • Expand the Medicaid program that insures lower-income people access to health insurance markets offering subsidized plans.

“With millions of people relying on the Affordable Care Act for coverage, it remains, as ever, a BFD. And it’s here to stay,” President Joe Biden tweeted that same day.

“BFD” referred to his remark, caught on a hot mic when he told then-President Barack Obama in 2010 the law is a “a big fucking deal.”

Why have Republicans pursued its demise so relentlessly? J.P. Morgan once said: “A man generally has two reasons for doing a thing. One that sounds good, and a real one.”

The story outlines the reasons that sound good: 

“For the GOP base, the ACA is about a view of the country that the government is the answer to all of our problems.

“It’s also tied into their lingering distaste for former President Barack Obama, whose name is literally melded with the law.

“And a belief that the media treated Obama’s ‘if you like your plan, you can keep your plan’ lie and the disastrous rollout (and repeated crashes) of the website allowing people to sign up for a plan with kid gloves because, well, bias.”

Let’s take a quick look at each of these points.

  • Millions of Right-wingers hate the Federal Government and openly call for its overthrow. This they vividly demonstrated on January 6 when they tried to illegally retain Donald Trump as President. They hoped to prevent the selection of Joe Biden as the legitimately-elected President of the United States by storming the Capitol Building.
  • Racism forms a major component of the GOP’s appeal to older, white, Right-wing voters. So having the name of the first black President unofficially stamped on the law (“Obamacare”) serves as a constant spur to their hatred.

Obama standing with his arms folded and smiling.

Barack Obama

  • Obama’s promise that “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan”: The promise backfired because the law stated that those who already had medical insurance could keep their plans—so long as those plans met the requirements of the new healthcare law. If their plans didn’t meet those requirements, they would have to obtain coverage that did
  • The “disastrous rollout (and repeated crashes) of the website”: That happened immediately after the law became effective on March 23, 2010. The sheer rush of uninsured people hoping to finally gain access to medical care proved too much for the website. But over time those bugs got ironed out.

Now for the real reason Republicans have furiously tried to destroy the Act—one that the writer did not mention. It is also one that no Republican dares admit.

And like so much else in the Republican agenda, it is rooted in the methods employed by the Third Reich.

On June 22, 1941, German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler sent three million soldiers smashing into the Soviet Union. During the first six months—June to December, 1941—German armies lured huge Soviet forces into gigantic “cauldron battles,” surrounding and exterminating them. 

An estimated 5.7 million prisoners of war fell into German hands. The Germans found themselves surprised and overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of them. But their mandate demanded that they keep marching ever forward.

So they simply imprisoned their captives behind barbed wire and wasted no food or medical care on them. Between starvation, illness and the brutal Russian cold, at least 3.5 million POWs died in custody.

Soviet prisoners of war behind barbed wire at Falstad Camp May 8th 1945. The picture is probably taken after the Norwegian prisoners left the camp. (Photographer: Unknown / The Falstad Centre)

Soviet POW’s

Republicans have learned a valuable lesson from this: If you simply deprive those you detest of food, clothing, shelter—and medical care—you don’t need gas chambers or firing squads. Or rigged vote-counts.

Most Americans—ignorant of history—cannot accept that their politicians can be as evil as those in other nations. For those needing access to affordable healthcare, voting Republican could turn out to be a fatal mistake.

REPUBLICANS: BORROWING A PAGE FROM THE NAZIS: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on June 23, 2021 at 12:09 am

On June 22, 1941, three million German soldiers slashed their way into the Soviet Union. The Third Reich was now locked in a death-struggle with a nation even more powerful than itself. 

During the first six months of the invasion, the Wehrmacht took an estimated 5.7 million Russian prisoners. The Germans imprisoned their captives behind barbed wire and deprived them of food and medical care. 

Between starvation, illness and the brutal Russian cold, at least 3.5 million POWs died in custody.

June 22, 1941. Nazi SOB Hitler invaded the kingdom of the Soviet SOB Stalin. - Album on Imgur

Soviet POWs

Today’s equally Fascistic Republicans have learned a valuable lesson from this: If you simply deprive those you detest of food, clothing and shelter, you don’t need gas chambers or firing squads. 

And that is why they have fervently tried to overturn the Affordable Care Act since it went into effect in 2010.

Republicans actually have two constituencies:

  1. The 1% richest; and
  2. Millions of poor, white, mostly elderly Right-wing men and women.

The richest 1% are too smart to be fobbed off with mere appeals to their hatreds. They demand tangible benefits—such as the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which became law on December 22, 2017.

This:

  • Cut the corporate tax rate from 35 to 21 percent;
  • Benefitted overwhelmingly wealthy shareholders and highly-paid executives; and
  • Left behind low- and moderate-income Americans—and in many ways hurt them.

But poor and middle-class Republican voters can be satisfied with appeals to their racism, fear and hatred.

The targets of their hatred include:

  • “Uppity” women
  • Blacks
  • Liberals
  • Hispanics
  • Democrats
  • Asians
  • Muslims
  • The news media

They see government programs as helping those they most detest—especially blacks and Hispanics.

By cutting off their access to the vital necessities of life—food, housing, medical care—the Republican base expects large numbers of them to die off. 

And Republican politicians understand this. Which is why they constantly oppose programs that provide those necessities.

Of course, Republican politicians will never admit this. Their mantra has always been they fear such programs will bankrupt the country.

That claim might have credibility—if they didn’t recklessly plunge into budget-busting wars like the 2003 Iraq war started by President George W. Bush. Not a single Republican opposed this needless, bloody conflict—which has cost the United States more than $1.1 trillion.

But the best evidence of Republicans’ desire to use illness as a weapon against those Americans they hate comes from former President Donald J. Trump. 

Image result for Public domain images of Donald Trump

Donald Trump

On March 27, 2020, during his press briefing, Trump said he told Vice President Mike Pence—then officially in charge of the White House’s Coronavirus response effort—to not call Democratic Governors Jay Inslee (WA) and Gretchen Whitmer (MI) because they weren’t “appreciative” enough of his efforts:

“I tell him—I mean I’m a different type of person—I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor in Washington, you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan. If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call.”

Echoing French King Louis X1V’s infamous remark—“I am the State”—Trump added:

“When they’re [governors] not appreciative to me, they’re not appreciative to the Army Corps, they’re not appreciative to FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency]. It’s not right.”

Trump said this even as hospitals in Washington and Michigan were being overwhelmed with Coronavirus patients.

That same day—March 27—Whitmer told a Michigan radio station: “What I’ve gotten back is that vendors with whom we’ve procured contracts—they’re being told not to send stuff to Michigan. It’s really concerning. I reached out to the White House last night and asked for a phone call with the president, ironically at the time this stuff was going on.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (cropped).jpg

Gretchen Whitmer

Julia Pickett / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

A March 29, 2020 story in the Washington Monthly sheds light on what lay behind Whitmer’s inability to secure desperately-needed ventilators from her longtime vendors. Its headline ran: “What If Trump Decides to Save Republicans But Not Democrats?”

And it was followed by a sub-headline: “He’s providing vital resources to red states and ignoring blue states.”

Florida submitted a request to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on March 11 for 430,000 surgical masks, 180,000 N95 respirators, 82,000 face shields and 238,000 gloves—and received a shipment with everything three days later.

It received an identical shipment on March 23, and was soon awaiting a third.

In 2019, Trump demanded a “favor” from the embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky—“dirt” on Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden—in return for releasing military aid Ukraine needed to combat an increasingly aggressive Russia.

During the COVID-19 outbreak, he demanded Democratic governors praise him and blame themselves if they waned their citizens to receive desperately-needed medical supplies.

On Fox News, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, bluntly told governors: “Take the blame when you have to. When you play with your boss, sometimes it’s better when you don’t win the golf game. He’s the boss, he’s got all the resources.” 

This is precisely the dictatorial arrogance of which Republicans falsely accused President Barack Obama.

The Washington Monthly story concluded on an ominous note: “U.S. democracy wasn’t set up to deal with a president openly behaving like a James Bond villain while being protected by a political party behaving more like a mafia than a civic institution.”

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