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CHARACTER AND DESTINY: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 16, 2022 at 12:18 am

As a Republican Presidential nominee. Donald Trump attacked the integrity of the parents of an Army captain who died heroically in Iraq in 2004.

For this, he took heavy fire from Democrats, veterans organizations and even his fellow Republicans.

But an even more damning assessment comes from Niccolo Machiavelli, the 16th-century Florentine statesman whose two great works on politics—The Prince anThe Discourses—remain textbooks for successful politicians more than 500 years later.  

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

Niccolo Machiavelli

Consider Trump’s notoriety for hurling insults at virtually everyone, including:  

  • Latinos
  • Asians
  • Muslims
  • Blacks
  • The Disabled
  • Women
  • Prisoners-of-War

These insults delight his white, under-educated followers. But they have alienated millions of other Americans who might have voted for him.

Machiavelli, on the other hand, advises leaders to refrain from gratuitous insults: 

  • “I hold it to be a proof of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words towards any one.
  • For neither the one nor the other in any way diminishes the strength of the enemy–but the one makes him more cautious, and the other increases his hatred of you, and makes him more persevering in his efforts to injure you.” 

And Trump’s reaction to the criticism he’s received? 

“I can be Presidential, but if I was Presidential I would only have–about 20% of you would be here because it would be boring as hell, I will say,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Superior, Wisconsin. 

For those who expected Trump to shed his propensity for constantly picking fights, Machiavelli had a stern warning: 

  • “…If it happens that time and circumstances are favorable to one who acts with caution and prudence he will be successful. But if time and circumstances change he will be ruined, because he does not change the mode of his procedure. 
  • “No man can be found so prudent as to be able to adopt himself to this, either because he cannot deviate from that to which his nature disposes him, or else because, having always prospered by walking in one path, he cannot persuade himself that it is well to leave it… 
  • “For if one could change one’s nature with time and circumstances, fortune would never change.” 

Then there was Trump’s approach to consulting advisers:

Asked on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” who he consults about foreign policy, Trump replied;

“I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain and I’ve said a lot of things.”

This totally contrasted with the advice given by Machiavelli:

  • “A prudent prince must [choose] for his counsel wise men, and [give] them alone full liberty to speak the truth to him, but only of those things that he asks and of nothing else. 
  • “But he must be a great asker about everything and hear their opinions, and afterwards deliberate by himself in his own way, and in these counsels…comport himself so that every one may see that the more freely he speaks, the more he will be acceptable.”

And Machiavelli offered a related warning on the advising of rulers: Unwise princes cannot be wisely advised.   

During the fifth GOP debate in the Presidential sweepstakes, host Hugh Hewitt asked Trump this question: 

“Mr. Trump, Dr. [Ben] Carson just referenced the single most important job of the president, the command and the care of our nuclear forces. And he mentioned the triad. 

“The B-52s are older than I am. The missiles are old. The submarines are aging out. It’s an executive order. It’s a commander-in-chief decision. 

“What’s your priority among our nuclear triad?” 

[The triad refers to America’s land-, sea- and air-based systems for delivering nuclear missiles and bombs.] 

Nuclear missile in silo

Trump’s reply: “Well, first of all, I think we need somebody absolutely that we can trust, who is totally responsible, who really knows what he or she is doing. That is so powerful and so important.”  

He then digressed to his having called the Iraq invasion a mistake in 2003 and 2004. Finally he came back on topic:

“But we have to be extremely vigilant and extremely careful when it comes to nuclear. Nuclear changes the whole ballgame. 

“The biggest problem we have today is nuclear–nuclear proliferation and having some maniac, having some madman go out and get a nuclear weapon. I think to me, nuclear, is just the power, the devastation is very important to me.”

Which brings us back to Machiavelli:  

  • “…Some think that a prince who gains the reputation of being prudent [owes this to] the good counselors he has about him; they are undoubtedly deceived.
  • “It is an infallible rule that a prince who is not wise himself cannot be well advised, unless by chance he leaves himself entirely in the hands of one man who rules him in everything, and happens to be a very prudent man. In this case, he may doubtless be well governed, but it would not last long, for the governor would in a short time deprive him of the state.” 

All of which would lead Niccolo Machiavelli to warn, if he could witness American politics today: “This bodes ill for your Republic.”

CHARACTER AND DESTINY: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 15, 2022 at 12:11 am

“He appeared to need enemies the way other men need friends, and his conduct assured that he would always have plenty of them.”

So wrote William Manchester about General Douglas MacArthur in his monumental 1978 biography, American Caesar.

But this applies just as accurately to Donald Trump, the man Americans elected President in 2016.

On July 28, 2016, Trump found himself embroiled in a no-win war-of-words with the parents of an American Army captain killed in Iraq in 2004. And the battle shows no signs of ending anytime soon.

Humayun Khan served as a captain in the U.S. Army. On June 8, 2004, a vehicle packed with explosives approached his compound in Iraq.  

Khan ordered his men to seek cover as he ran toward it. Suddenly, the car exploded, killing Khan instantly. He was awarded the Bronze Star posthumously.  

On July 28, 2016, his father, Khizr, was a featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention. With his wife, Ghazala, standing at his side, he made a blistering attack on Trump: 

“We are honored to stand here as the parents of Captain Humayun Khan, and as patriotic American Muslims with undivided loyalty to our country.  

Related image

Khizr Khan

“If it was up to Donald Trump, [Humayun] never would have been in America,” Khan said. “Donald Trump consistently smears the character of Muslims. He disrespects other minorities, women, judges, even his own party leadership. He vows to build walls and ban us from this country. 

“Donald Trump, you are asking Americans to trust you with our future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the U.S. Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.”

Pulling a copy of the Constitution from his pocket he said: “In this document, look for the words ‘liberty’ and ‘equal protection of law.’  

“You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”  

On July 29, the Khans appeared in an interview on MSNBC’s The Last Word. Khan appealed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) to “repudiate Trump.”

Trump predictably responded during a July 30 interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. 

“Who wrote that?” he demanded of Khan’s speech. “Did Hillary’s script writers write it?” 

(According to Politico, Khan declined the use of a speechwriter.)

Related image

Donald Trump

“I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices,” said Trump. “I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs.”  

“Those are sacrifices?” Stephanopoulos asked. 

“Sure. I think they’re sacrifices. I think when I can employ thousands and thousands of people, take care of their education, take care of so many things.”

Trump implied that Khan’s wife may not have been allowed to speak because of her religion. 

Ghazala Khan subsequently retorted in an interview that she had been invited to speak but was too upset to do so.  

On July 31, Khizr Khan said on CNN’s State of the Union that Trump had a “black soul.”  

That same day, Trump took to Twitter:  

“Captain Khan, killed 12 years ago, was a hero, but this is about RADICAL ISLAMIC TERROR and the weakness of our ‘leaders’ to eradicate it!”  

And: “I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention. Am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq war, not me!”  

On August 1, Khan appeared on NBC’s Today Show: “This candidate amazes me. His ignorance—he can get up and malign the entire nation, the religions, the communities, the minorities, the judges and yet a private citizen in this political process. … I cannot say what I feel?”  

The same day, Trump responded on Twitter: 

“Mr. Khan, who does not know me, viciously attacked me from the stage of the DNC and is now all over T.V. doing the same – Nice!”

And again: “This story is not about Mr. Khan, who is all over the place doing interviews, but rather RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM and the U.S. Get smart!”  

The exchange didn’t hurt the Khans. But it inflicted heavy damage on Trump.  

Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain—himself a seven-year prisoner of North Vietnam during the Vietnam war—said: 

“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents. He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States—to say nothing of entering its service.

Related image

John McCain

“I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.”   

The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), one of the largest and oldest veterans organizations in the country, released its own statement: 

“Election year or not, the VFW will not tolerate anyone berating a Gold Star family member for exercising his or her right of speech or expression. There are certain sacrosanct subjects that no amount of wordsmithing can repair once crossed.

“Giving one’s life to nation is the greatest sacrifice, followed closely by Gold Star families, who have a right to make their voices heard.”

WHY REPUBLICANS WIN ELECTIONS–AND DEMOCRATS LOSE THEM

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on September 1, 2022 at 12:10 am

There’s a reason why Republicans win so many elections—especially at the Presidential level.

Republicans learned long ago that most voters aren’t moved by appeals to their rationality. Instead, what counts with them is emotions.

And Republicans long ago became experts at appealing to these—especially the baser ones.

For Republicans, the Big Three are:

Hatred

Greed

Fear  

Hatred: There can be no better example of a politician who has played successfully on the hatred of American voters than Donald Trump. If Barack Obama was the 2008 candidate of “Hope and Change,” then Trump was the 2016 candidate of “Hate and Fear.” 

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:

  • Hillary Clinton
  • The New York Times 
  • President Barack Obama
  • CNN
  • Actress Meryl Streep
  • The Washington Post
  • Singer Neil Young
  • Democrats
  • Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Republicans
  • Comedian John Oliver
  • 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

Greed: On August 23, 2018, Trump, as President, offered additional evidence that he’s “not like other people.” He did so by giving an unprecedented reason why he shouldn’t be impeached: “I tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor.”  

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubtless spoke for millions of Trump supporters when she said, on June 4, 2018:

“Since taking office, the President has strengthened American leadership, security, prosperity, and accountability. And as we saw from Friday’s jobs report, our economy is stronger, Americans are optimistic, and business is booming.”

Susan Page, Washington Bureau Chief for USA TODAY, summed up the popularity of the “Greed Appeal” to voters on the March 13 edition of “Washington Week in Review”:

“USA Today has conducted a poll about the economic concerns that are out there….And Congress—you’re seeing fear in this country about the economy.

“In fact, when we did this poll this week about how Americans’ lives have been affected by the Coronavirus, people expressed more concern about the economic and financial effect than they did about the health effect. And you know, that goes to why this matters so much to President Trump.

“How many voters have you talked to who said, you know, I don’t really like President Trump’s tweets, but I like what I see happening in my 401(k)?  And when they look at their 401(k) this week, it may not look quite as bright as it did before.”

Fear: From the end of World War II in 1945 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Enemy of Choice for Republicans was the Communists.

Millions of Americans were so pathologically frightened by “The Red Menace” that any Democratic politician libeled as a “Communist,” “Comsymp,”  “fellow traveler” was considered at least a potential traitor, if not an actual one.

Among the Republican politicians who rode to victory on a wave of Red hysteria: Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy 

Even as late as 1992, President George H.W. Bush and the Republican establishment charged that Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton might be a KGB plant. Their evidence: During his tenure at Oxford University in 1969-70, Clinton had briefly visited Moscow—and thus might have been turned into a “Manchurian Candidate.”

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Right-wingers had to settle for attacking their opponents as “liberals” and “soft on crime.” But these charges didn’t carry the same weight as “Communists” and “traitors.”

Then, on September 11, 2001, Republicans—and their Right-wing supporters—at last found a suitable replacement for the Red Menace: The Maniacal Muslim.

World Trade Center on September 11, 2001

Led by President George W. Bush, Republicans used fear of Muslims to con and bully the nation into a needless, bloody, budget-busting war on Iraq. Seventeen years later, that war continues.

So how can Democrats counter such appeals?  By making equally ruthless use of them.

For example—Fear: Republicans rely heavily on support from rural America—where fundamentalist religious beliefs hold sway. Instead of ridiculing those beliefs, Democrats—even those who are atheists—should make use of them.

How?

  • By recognizing that fundamentalists believe that widespread plague is a sign of God’s displeasure; and
  • Repeatedly proclaiming that the Coronavirus is God’s judgment on a sinful nation for electing Donald Trump President.

Democrats must closely study the beliefs of their sworn enemies and make skillful use of them—as the Israelis have done. 

Suicide bombers’ attacks in Israel sharply decreased after Israelis started patrolling with bomb-sniffing dogs.

Why?

Islamics believe that dogs are defiling creatures—and that if their blood is mingled with that of a dog, they won’t go to Heaven to claim those 72 willing virgins.

To defeat your enemy, you must learn his weaknesses—and ruthlessly attack them.

DIFFERENT LIVES–AND DIFFERENT LEGACIES

In Entertainment, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on August 15, 2022 at 12:12 am

Two deaths. Two entirely different legacies.

The first—of Rush Limbaugh—came on February 17, 2021.  

The second—of Olivia Newton-John—came on August 10, 2022.

Limbaugh hosted The Rush Limbaugh Show, which was nationally syndicated on AM and FM radio stations from 1988 until his death in 2021.

Rush Limbaugh

With 15.5 million listeners, Limbaugh’s radio show was the most popular one in the United States. He became one of the most prominent Right wing voices in the country during the 1990s. 

Among his targets: Blacks; liberals; Democrats; gays; lesbians; feminists (whom he called “feminazis”); consent in sexual relations; environmentalism; climate change; abortion rights; Barack Obama; the need for masking and vaccinations against COVID-19.

Among the personalities and causes he championed: The 2003 Iraq war; torture at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison; eliminating taxes on the wealthy; smoking; Donald Trump; 

His attack on Sandra Fluke, a third-year Georgetown University law student who testified before Congress on February 23, 2012, was typical Limbaugh. 

Fluke said that insurance companies should cover the costs of birth control. As a student at a Jesuit campus that refuses to provide insurance coverage for contraception, birth control costs can be as high as $3,000 during the three years a woman attends law school.

Limbaugh’s response: “So Ms. Fluke and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal: If we are going to pay for your contraceptives and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it.  And I’ll tell you what it is.  We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Sandra Fluke was among the millions who didn’t mourn when Limbaugh died at 70 on February 17, 2021, of lung cancer caused by a lifetime of cigar smoking.

If the legacy of Rush Limbaugh was darkness personified, the legacy of Olivia Newton-John was one of sunshine and joy. 

Olivia Newton-John

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

She dominated the pop charts of the 1970s and ’80s with mega hits “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” “I Honestly Love You,” “Have You Never Been Mellow?” “Magic,” and “Physical.” 

Vanity Fair described her thus:  “Her angelic beam matched with a clear, sweet-yet-supple soprano was vocal satin, giving her a versatile edge in singing feel-good numbers across genres and styles.” 

But her biggest splash came in “Grease,” the top-grossing movie for 1978, where she co-starred with John Travolta. Her role as Sandy, an Australian exchange student, brought her international acclaim and further propelled her musical career. The movie’s soundtrack remains one of the world’s best-selling albums.   

“I don’t think anyone could have imagined a movie would go on almost 40 years and would still be popular and people would still be talking to me about it all the time and loving it,” Newton-John said in 2017.

She won four Grammy awards and racked up five number-one hits and another 10 top-10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 and two number-one albums on the Billboard 200. Eleven of her singles and 14 of her albums have been certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Having sold more than 100 million records, Newton-John is one of the most popular singers of the 20th and 21st centuries.

“I love to sing, it’s all I know how to do,” she told CNN in 2017. “That’s all I’ve ever done since I was 15, so it’s my life. I feel very grateful that I can still do it and people still come to see me.”

An animal-rights advocate, she cancelled a 1978 concert tour of Japan to protest the slaughter of dolphins caught in tuna fishing nets.

Among the charities and foundations she supported: Cure Breast Cancer, Red Cross, Healthy Child Healthy World, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. She was a performer on the 1979 Music for UNICEF Concert for the UN’s International Year of the Child, televised worldwide.

Behind her bright smile and sunny disposition lay the shadow of tragedy. In 2005 Newton-John’s then-boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, disappeared at sea while on a fishing trip off the coast of California.

“It’s very hard to live with that,” she told CNN’s Larry King in 2006. “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve been through a lot of things.”

In 1992, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She recovered, but for more than 40 years she lived with the constant threat of its return.

“I draw strength from the millions of women who have faced this challenge successfully,” she said in a statement. “This has been detected early because I’ve had regular examinations, so I encourage other women to do the same.”

Then, in May 2017, she announced that the cancer had returned and metastasized to her lower back. 

Asked during a February 2021 interview if she had contemplated her own death, she replied, “I have quite a few times,” adding it was “sooner than I would have wanted. I mean—we all know we are going to die. I think we spend our lives probably much in denial of it.”

The title of her 2019 autobiography, Don’t Stop Believin’, summed up her attitude toward life.

On August 8, 2022, Olivia Newton-John died from cancer at her home in the Santa Ynez Valley of California. She was 73. 

Euripides, the Greek  tragedian, was right: When good men dietheir goodness does not perish, but lives though they are gone. As for the bad, all that was theirs dies and is buried with them.”

FOUR MAPS TO SOUTHERN INFAMY: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on July 29, 2022 at 12:11 am

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

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

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

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

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

Thus, the third map of 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. CEOs were doing extremely well.
  • Unlike the administration of Ronald Reagan, there had been no corruption scandals during the Obama Presidency.
  • Nor had there been any large-scale terrorist attacks on American soil—like 9/11 under President George W. Bush.

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

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

Red States voted for Donald Trump – 2016

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

The fourth map of Southern infamy.

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

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

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

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

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

“I think, once Donald Trump and other Republicans made it a manhood issue, or a freedom issue, or whatever kind of issue they made it, it’s hard to walk back that culture war signal,” said conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks on the PBS Newshour on July 23, 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 has now 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 July 28, 2022 at 12:11 am

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

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

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

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 58 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.

THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN: PART TWO (END)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on July 1, 2022 at 5:09 pm

In The Destruction of Hillary Clinton, author Susan Bordo indicts a wide range of groups for Clinton’s failure to win the 2016 election.

Yet she refuses to put any blame on Clinton herself for a series of self-inflicted wounds. Four of these have already been mentioned.

Image result for Images of "The Destruction of Hillary Clinton

Among the others:

#5 Democrats and liberals fell prey to hubris.

They dismissed Donald Trump as a bad joke: Surely voters would reject a bombastic, thrice-married “reality show” host who had filed for corporate bankruptcy four times.

Image result for Images of hubris

Many liberals believed Clinton would bury him at the polls: Blacks, women, youth and Hispanics will turn out huge for her. Democrats will retake the Senate, and maybe even retake the House.

They didn’t.

#6 The coalition that twice elected Barack Obama deserted Hillary Clinton.

Clinton did worse-than-expected among all the groups she was counting on to support her: Blacks, women, youth and Hispanics.

  • In 2012, Obama got 93% of the black vote; in 2016, Clinton got 88%.
  • In 2012, Obama got 55% of the women’s vote; in 2016, Clinton won 54%.
  • In 2012, Obama got 60% of the vote of those under 30; in 2016, Clinton got 54%.
  • In 2012, Obama got 71% of the Hispanic vote; in 2016, Clinton got 65%.

Clinton proved less popular even among whites than Obama: In 2012, Obama won 39% of their votes; in 2016, Clinton won 37%.

#7 Trump, adopting the role of a populist, appealed to blue-collar voters. Clinton offered a “love-your-CEO” economic plan—and suffered for it.

Trump visited “Rustbelt” states like Michigan and Pennsylvania and vowed to “bring back” jobs that had been lost to China, such as those in coal mining and manufacturing. Clinton didn’t deign to show up, assuming she had those states “locked up.”

Most economists agree that, in a globalized economy, such jobs are not coming back, no matter who becomes President.

Even so, voters backed the man who came to promise them a better future, and shunned the woman who didn’t come to promise them any future at all.

In May, Democratic pollster CeLinda Lake had warned Clinton to revamp her economic platform. Clinton ignored the advice.

“Democrats simply have to come up with a more robust economic frame and message,” Lake said after the election. “We’re never going to win those white, blue-collar voters if we’re not better on the economy. And 27 policy papers and a list of positions is not a frame. We can laugh about it all we want, but Trump had one.”

#8 Hillary Clinton gave only one memorable speech during the campaign.

This was the “basket of deplorables” speech, delivered at a New York fundraiser on September 9. It was the only Clinton speech to be widely quoted by Democrats and Republicans.

She divided Donald Trump’s supporters into two groups. The first group were the “deplorables,” for whom she showed open contempt:

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic–you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.

“He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people—now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks—they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”  

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Hillary Clinton (Gage Skidmore photo)

But the second group, she said, consisted of poor, alienated Americans who rightly felt abandoned by their employers and their government:

“But….that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from.

“They don’t buy everything [Trump] says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.” 

#9 After giving this speech, Clinton threw away the good it might well have done her. 

First, the day after making the speech, she apologized for it: “Last night I was ‘grossly generalistic,’ and that’s never a good idea. I regret saying ‘half—that was wrong.” 

Many of Trump’s followers were racists, sexists and xenophobes—who deserved condemnation, not apologies. By apologizing, she looked weak, indecisive, even cowardly.  

Second, having eloquently reached out to many of the men and women who were a prime constituency for Trump, she failed to offer an economic package to quickly and effectively address their vital needs for jobs and medical care.

The reason: She had failed to put one together long ago.

All she had to offer was boilerplate rhetoric, such as: “Education is the answer.”

Worst of all, Trump turned her speech against her, tweeting: “Wow, Hillary Clinton was SO INSULTING to my supporters, millions of amazing, hard working people. I think it will cost her at the Polls!”

It did.

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The United States barely survivid a Right-wing coup attempt in 2021. Democrats can’t risk losing the 2024 election to another Right-wing Republican. Hillary Clinton is not the future; she represents an increasingly irrelevant past. 

THE ONCE AND FUTURE QUEEN: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Politics, Social commentary on June 30, 2022 at 12:10 am

On June 28, CNN’s political analyst, Chris Cillizza, offered this suggestion:

“In the immediate aftermath of the Supreme Court’s monumental decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, conservative writer John Ellis took to the internet to make a provocative case: It was time for Hillary Clinton to make a(nother) political comeback….

“Ellis’ argument is centered on the ideas that 1) President Joe Biden, who will be 82 shortly after the 2024 election, is simply too old to run again (Ellis is far from the only person making that case) and 2) The Democratic bench is not terribly strong.”

Ellis has apparently forgotten—or chooses to ignore—that in 2016 she was an uninspiring candidate who ran a self-destructive campaign.

Unable to face the blunt realities of these truths, her defenders have blamed everyone but Clinton for her failing to “crack the glass ceiling” and become the first female President of the United States.

Among those who come in for blame: WikiLeaks; Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders; younger women; and even Monica Lewinsky.

According to Clinton’s defenders, it was

  • Bernie Sanders’ fault for daring to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination—and refusing to accept that it was “Hillary’s turn” to become President.
  • WikiLeaks’ fault for publishing emails sent by members of the Democratic National Committee—which proved the supposedly impartial DNC was working to secure the nomination for Clinton.
  • Younger women’s fault for not identifying with a woman old enough to be their grandmother—and who has lived an extraordinarily privileged life since she became First Lady in 1993.
  • Monica Lewinsky’s fault for being a reminder to voters that Hillary’s husband had disgraced the Presidency in an oral sex scandal.

All of these factors certainly played a part in why Clinton lost the White House for the second time in eight years.  But they are not all the factors behind her loss.

Among these:

#1 Hillary Clinton was an uninspiring candidate.

When Barack Obama ran for President in 2008, NBC Anchor Tom Brokaw compared his rallies to Hannah Montana concerts. Audiences were excited by his charisma, eloquence, relative youth (47) and optimism (“Yes We Can!”).

Clinton radiated none of these qualities. She was 67 when she declared her candidacy for President—and looked it. Her speaking voice grated like the proverbial fingernail on a blackboard.

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Hillary Clinton

She seemed to have been around forever—as First Lady (1993-2001), as Senator from New York (2001-2009) and as Secretary of State (2009-2013). Those born after 2000 thought of the Clinton Presidency as ancient history. She was offering a resume—and voters wanted an inspiration.

#2 Clinton brought a lot of baggage with her.

In contrast to Obama, whose Presidency had been scandal-free, Clinton—rightly or wrongly—has always been dogged by charges of corruption.

During the Clinton Presidency, a failed land deal—Whitewater—while Bill Clinton was Governor of Arkansas triggered a seven-year investigation by a Republican special prosecutor. No criminality was uncovered, and no charge was brought against either Clinton.

After leaving the White House, she and her husband set up the Clinton Foundation, a public charity to bring government, businesses and social groups together to solve problems “faster, better, at lower cost.”

As Secretary of State, more than half of Clinton’s meetings with people outside government were with donors to the Clinton Foundation. If a “pay-to play” system wasn’t at work, one certainly seemed to be.

She cast further suspicion on herself by her unauthorized use of a private email server. This wasn’t revealed until March, 2015—after she was no longer Secretary of State.

She claimed she had used it to avoid carrying two cell-phones. But, as Secretary of State, she traveled with a huge entourage who carried everything she needed. Her critics believed she used a private email system to hide a “pay-for-pay” relationship with Clinton Foundation donors.

#3 As a candidate for President, she “secretly” worked with Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, to ensure that she would get the nomination.

As DNC chair, Wasserman-Schultz was expected to be impartial toward all Democratic candidates seeking the prize. This included Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Clinton’s chief competitor.

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Bernie Sanders

So Sanders and his supporters were outraged when, on July 22, WikiLeaks released 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments hacked from computers of the highest-ranking officials of the DNC.

The emails revealed a clear bias for Clinton and against Sanders. In one email, Brad Marshall, the chief financial officer of the DNC, suggested that Sanders, who is Jewish, could be portrayed as an atheist.

#4 The Obamas’ support proved a plus/minus for Clinton.

Understandably, President Obama wanted to see his legacies continued—and she was the only candidate who could do it.

So he—and his wife, Michelle—stormed the country, giving eloquent, passionate speeches and firing up crowds on Clinton’s behalf.

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President Barack Obama

So long as either Obama stood before a crowd, the magic lasted. But once the event was over, the excitement vanished. Hillary simply didn’t arouse enough passion to keep it going.

Obama’s supporters found Clinton wanting—in attractiveness, grace, eloquence, trustworthiness and the ability to inspire.

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. 

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