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THE COMINIG DICTATORS’ BLOODBATH: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary, Uncategorized on March 24, 2023 at 12:10 am

In his coming war against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump may have the last word.

The former President has warned that if he can’t be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2024, “he’s willing to burn it all down.” 

New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who has intimately covered Trump for years, has tweeted:  

“Yes, Trump is more vulnerable than he’s been in a long time. But that has happened before and he’s survived.”

Pulitzer2018-maggie-haberman-20180530-wp.jpg

Maggie Haberman 

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

“Trump has extremely few major donors who want to do anything for him right now and a number of them are having active conversations about the best way to stop him. But. Again….sound familiar?

“Trump has made clear he’s willing to burn it all down if he doesn’t get what he wants, which is maintaining his grip on the product line he’s been developing for six years: the Republican party. So a lot of electeds will have to make a choice they’ve not had to before.” 

There is precedent for this. After serving two terms in the White House (1901-1909) Theodore Roosevelt became increasingly disillusioned with his handpicked successor: William Howard Taft.

President Roosevelt - Pach Bros (cropped).jpg

Theodore Roosevelt

By 1912, he decided to run for a third term as a third-party candidate. His candidacy split the Republican vote—and enabled Democrats to elect Woodrow Wilson President.

No doubt many Democrats are now salivating at the possibility of the same occurring in 2024.

And even more of them are looking forward to seeing two would-be tyrants—Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis—trading lethal blows for most of the Presidential year. 

Their reaction would be similar to that expressed by then-Senator Harry S. Truman when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941: “If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if that Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible.”    

* * * * *

As the Third Reich came to its fiery end, its dictator, Adolf Hitler, sought to punish the German people for being “unworthy” of his “genius” and losing the war he had started.

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

In his infamous “Nero Order,” he decreed the destruction of everything still remaining–industries, ships, harbors, communications, roads, mines, bridges, stores, utility plants, food stuffs.

Fortunately for Germany, one man–Albert Speer–finally broke ranks with his Fuhrer.

Albert Speer

Albert Speer

Risking death, he refused to carry out Hitler’s “scorched earth” order.  Even more important, he mounted a successful effort to block such destruction and persuade influential military and civilian leaders to disobey the order as well.

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

Throughout his four years in office, President Donald Trump made it clear that America faced a stark choice: It could remain a constitutional democracy—or allow him to become an all-powerful “President-for-Life.”

Among his outrages:

  • Repeatedly attacking the nation’s free press for daring to report his growing list of crimes and disasters, calling it “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Siding with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin against the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency which unanimously agreed that Russia had subverted the 2016 Presidential election. 
  • Firing FBI Director James Comey for investigating that subversion.
  • Giving 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.  
  • Shutting down the Federal Government for 35 days in 2018-19 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.
  • Trying to coerce Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to smear former Vice President Joe Biden, who was likely to be his Democratic opponent in the 2020 Presidential election.
  • Repeatedly lying about the dangers posed by the COVID-19 virus, and thus enabling it to ravage the country and ultimately kill 400,000 by the time Trump left office.
  • Attacking medical experts and governors who urged Americans to wear masks and socially distance to protect themselves from COVID-19.

Trump’s ultimate act of criminality and treason came on January 6, 2021, when he incited his followers to violently attack the United States Capitol Building. Their goal: To prevent Republicans and Democrats from counting the Electoral Votes cast in the 2020 Presidential election.

Trump fully understood that an accurate count of those votes would reveal his loss to Joe Biden: 306 votes for Biden, compared with 232 for Trump.

Fortunately for American democracy, there were enough patriots determined to prevent Trump from becoming the absolute dictator he clearly intended to be.

Like Adolf Hitler, Donald Trump’s attitude was: “If I can’t rule America, there won’t be an America.”

Deprived of his chance to destroy the country he claimed to love, Trump now threatens to destroy the political party that brought him to near-absolute power in 2016.

And Ron DeSantis stands ready to establish himself as an equally Trumpian dictator.

Their party is still waiting for a Republican Albert Speer to step forward and save America from the self-destructive brutalities of its own Right-wing fanatics.

THE COMING DICTATORS’ BLOODBATH: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on March 23, 2023 at 12:10 am

For Americans, it may turn out to be the equivalent of the deathmatch between German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler and Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin.    

At the very least, it promises to be the Right-wing heavyweight championship of the decade, if not the century: An all-out slugfest between former President Donald J. Trump and Florida Governor Ron D. DeSantis.

On November 10, Trump publicly attacked DeSantis as “Ron DeSanctimonious” and took credit for DeSantis’ success after endorsing him in 2018.

This was only two days after DeSantis was soundly re-elected Governor—and the much-hyped “Red wave” failed to sweep Democrats out of state and federal offices in the 2022 midterm elections. 

On his website, Truth Social, Trump posted that DeSantis had been a political lightweight who had come to him “in desperate shape” when running for his first term in office in 2017.

Donald Trump

“Ron had low approval, bad polls, and no money, but he said that if I would Endorse [sic] him, he could win.  also fixed his campaign, which had completely fallen apart.”

For Trump, DeSantis’ worst sin was refusing to say whether he would run for President in 2024.

Having been defeated for a second term by Joe Biden in 2020, Trump believes he has an absolute right to regain that office in another two years. 

“Ron DeSanctimonious is playing games! The Fake News asks him if he’s going to run if President Trump runs, and he says, ‘I’m only focused on the Governor’s race, I’m not looking into the future.’ Well, in terms of loyalty and class, that’s really not the right answer.”

By “loyalty” Trump meant: Loyalty to himself.

For Trump, there was only one “right” answer DeSantis could have given: “I will not be a candidate for President in 2024 and I will totally support President Trump for that office.”

And that was not the response that DeSantis gave.

Even worse for Trump: Several of his loudly-supported candidates across the country lost their electoral bids.

To add to his rage and sense of betrayal: Conservative media sided with DeSantis—such as Fox News and the New York Post, which ran a front page headline calling DeSantis “DeFuture” the day after the election. 

New York Post.svg

New York Post, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Responded Trump:  “NewsCorp, which is Fox, the Wall Street Journal, and the no longer great New York Post, is all in for Governor Ron DeSanctimonious.” 

A Trump advisor, speaking off-the-record, told Politico: “Obviously he is escalating. It is total shots fired. It is not what I would have done if it were totally up to me, but you can’t argue with Donald Trump’s tactics. They work. He is savage but effective. He was never going to stay restrained for long.” 

“He is obviously threatened by a DeSantis presidential run,” said a longtime Florida Republican consultant speaking of Trump. “And by doing this, I think he will lose a lot of his base support.”

Trump’s advisors are trying to persuade him to soften his image. They fear that his angry and divisive rhetoric is turning off many voters who like his policies but desire some normalcy. 

They are also trying to persuade Trump to focus less on his 2020 election loss and offer solutions to voters’ problems. 

At the DeSantis victory rally, chants resounded: “Two more years!”—meaning that his supporters want him to run for President in 2024.

DeSantis has not responded to the attacks Trump has made on him. 

Two Florida Republicans close to DeSantis told Yahoo News that the governor would be wary of attacking Trump. He wants to focus on policy issues and Florida’s recovery from Hurricane Ian.

By doing so, they said, DeSantis will highlight how his governing style differs from Trump’s more combative and less policy-focused approach.

It also prevents him from getting sucked into an endless tit-for-tat war of insults with the insult-happy ex-President.

The Donald Trump-Ron DeSantis relationship wasn’t always so hostile.

Trump’s endorsement played a huge role in DeSantis’ winning the 2018 GOP primary against former Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who was an early favorite.

And DeSantis quickly showed his gratitude with a campaign video that was a naked Valentine to Trump’s ego—and the base that worshiped him.

Released on July 30, 2018, the ad was narrated by DeSantis’ wife, Casey.

CASEY DESANTIS: Everyone knows my husband, Ron DeSantis, is endorsed by President Trump. But he’s also an amazing dad. Ron loves playing with the kids.

DESANTIS: “Build the wall” [as his son uses colored plastic bricks to build a wall. This was a line right out of Trump’s repeated demands for a wall separating the United States from Mexico.]

Ron DeSantis Has Released the Most Bizarre Campaign Ad of 2018 – Rolling Stone

CASEY: He reads stories.

DESANTIS:Then Mr. Trump said ‘You’re fired.’ I love that part'” [as he reads a book to his son]. 

CASEY: He’s teaching Madison to talk.

DESANTIS: “Make America great again” [as he holds up a “Trump” sign that says exactly that].

CASEY: People say Ron’s all Trump, but he’s so much more.

DESANTIS: Bigly. So good” [as he’s looking at his son in a crib].

CASEY: I just thought you should know.

REWRITING HISTORY FOR SOVIETS AND REPUBLICANS–PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on March 15, 2023 at 12:12 am

Greed—among evil men—will always find a way.       

It did in 1939. 

Germany’s Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, had spent most of the year threatening Poland with invasion. He had even set a secret timetable—September 1—for his attack.

Yet he faced a dangerous obstacle on his road to war: The Soviet Union.

Since the early 1920s Hitler had railed against the Soviet Union as Germany’s greatest threat. He intended, in fact, to destroy it at the first opportunity. 

But his still-untested army, the Wehrmacht, wasn’t ready for that yet. 

Adolf Hitler

And if he attacked Poland, there was a real danger that the Soviet Union might declare war on Germany.

Hitler wanted a nonaggression treaty with England, with which he had a love/hate relationship. But the British government didn’t trust him.

The Soviet government—headed by Premier Joseph Stalin—also wanted a pact with Great Britain. But the British didn’t trust him, either.

In mid-August, 1939, with the September 1 deadline quickly approaching, Hitler made an unprecedented decision: He humbled himself before his arch-enemy, Stalin, and requested the signing of a Russia-German nonaggression pact.

To sweeten the deal, Hitler offered something that he knew the British would never give Stalin: The eastern half of Poland.

On August 23, the Treaty of Non-Aggression between Nazi Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was signed in Moscow by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbontrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov.     

Stalin Full Image.jpg

Joseph Stalin

Nine days later, World War II erupted.

In 2020, greed—among evil men—again found a way.

On November 3, 81,255,933 Democratic voters elected former Vice President Joseph Biden the 46th President of the United States. Donald Trump, running for a second term as President, got 74,196,153 votes.

But having repeatedly “joked” about how wonderful it would be if the United States—like China—had a “President-for-Life,” Trump wasn’t ready to concede office.

He immediately began spreading “The Big Lie”: That he had been defeated by massive voter fraud. And that this had been made possible through Dominion Voting Systems.

Related image

Donald Trump

Dominion—charged Trump and his attorneys—had rigged its vote-tabulating machines to replace votes for Trump with votes for Biden.

And soon Trump had the help of a major propaganda megaphone to carry his lie nationwide: The Fox News Network.

Just as Hitler and Stalin each had something to gain from their nonaggression pact, so did Trump and Fox.

Trump wanted at least another four unearned years in the White House. And Fox wanted to retain—if not expand—its viewing audience. 

In 2022, for its seventh consecutive year, Fox News stood as the top-rated cable news network in the United States. Fox averaged 1.4 million total day viewers.

By contrast, 733,000 watched MSNBC and 568,000 watched CNN.

In prime time,  Fox came in first with an average of 2.3 million viewers in 2022.

MSNBC came in second with 1.2 million and CNN ranked third with an average of 730,000.

As for profits: Fox’s net income for the twelve months ending December 31, 2022 was $1.507B, a 4.94% increase year-over-year.

Fox News - Wikipedia

Yet just as Trump couldn’t bear losing the intoxicating power of the Presidency, Rupert Murdoch, the CEO of Fox, couldn’t bear losing any part of his audience. 

In a March 1, 2023 opinion piece, Jack Shafer, Politico’s senior media writer, vividly describes the dilemma Murdoch faced after the 2020 election:

“In Murdoch’s own words, delivered in Dominion suit depositions, he describes himself as frightened by the power Donald Trump holds over the Fox audience….Far from being a media superpower, as his foes would describe him, Murdoch comes off as trapped by the craven choices he made to serve as Trump’s supplicant and protector. 

“…The Trump-Fox feedback loop benefited both parties as Fox ran interference for Trump throughout his presidency and Trump filled Fox’s schedule with the strong meat of his persona. By July 2019, Trump had given 61 interviews to Fox channels compared to 17 for ABC, CBS, CNN, and NBC/CNBC combined.”

But after Trump incited a deadly riot against the United States Capitol Building on January 6, 2021, Murdoch feared the next Trump explosion would be aimed at Fox.

The reason: On Election Night, Chris Stirewalt, the political editor of Fox News Channel, was the first to project Biden’s victory in Arizona. This turned out to be right—and brought a furious attack upon Stirewalt by Fox host Tucker Carlson.

Putting the truth bluntly, Murdoch said in a deposition: “Nobody wants Trump as an enemy. We all know that Trump has a big following. If he says, ‘Don’t watch Fox News, maybe some don’t.’”

Twenty days after Trump’s attempted coup—on January 26—Murdoch allowed Mike “My Pillow” Lindell to appear on the network’s Tucker Carlson Tonight Show.

Lindell was a longtime Fox advertiser—and a vocal purveyor of the lie that Dominion had enabled the Democrats to steal the 2020 election. 

Two months later, in March, 2021, Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News.

The Hitler-Stalin pact ultimately ravaged the Soviet Union through German invasion and left Germany conquered and divided by Russia for 44 years. 

The TrumpFox pact ultimately left Trump enraged at Fox and left Fox facing financial ruin for its lies on Trump’s behalf.

REWRITING HISTORY FOR SOVIETS AND REPUBLICANS–PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics on March 14, 2023 at 12:10 am

At one time, Americans believed that the wholesale rewriting of history happened only in the Soviet Union.       

“The problem with writing about history in the Soviet Union,” went a popular joke inside the Soviet Union, “is that you never know what’s going to happen yesterday.”  

A classic example of this occurred in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.  

Lavrentiy Beria had been head of the NKVD, the dreaded predecessor to the KGB, from 1938 to 1953. On June 26, 1953, three months after the death of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, Beria was arrested on orders of his fellow Communist Party leaders, who feared he intended to purge them. 

Beria was executed on December 23.

Lavrentiy Beria

But the Great Soviet Encyclopedia had just gone to press with a long article singing Beria’s praises.  

What to do?  

The editors of the Encyclopedia wrote an equally long article about “the Bering Straits,” which was to be pasted over the article about Beria, and sent this off to its subscribers. An unknown number of them decided it was safer to paste accordingly. 

Similarly, Joseph Stalin was depicted in Soviet “history” texts as the architect of Russia’s victory over Nazi Germany during World War II.  

No “historian” dared mention that Stalin’s wholesale purges of the Red Army in the 1930s had made the country vulnerable to the German attack in 1941. As had Stalin’s “nonaggression” pact with Germany in 1939, where he and Adolf Hitler secretly divided Poland between them. 

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Joseph Stalin

But Russians no longer have a monopoly on rewriting history.

During the 2016 Presidential election, the Republican party furiously rewrote history in a desperate attempt to win the White House. 

Specifically, its members tried to convince Americans that:

  1. President George W. Bush “kept us safe” (excluding, of course, the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, which slaughtered 3,000 Americans); and/or
  2. President Bush wasn’t to blame for 9/11—it was his predecessor, Bill Clinton (who left office more than a year and a half before 9/11). 

World Trade Center – September 11, 2001

In 2015, Jeb Bush entered the “Rewriting History for Americans” sweepstakes.

On October 16, 2015, during an interview on Bloomberg TV, Donald Trump, the leading Republican candidate for President in 2016, dared speak (for Republicans) the unspeakable:

“When you talk about George Bush, I mean, say what you want, the World Trade Center came down during his time. He was President, OK?  Blame him, or don’t blame him, but he was President. The World Trade Center came down during his reign.” 

Bush was quick to respond on Twitter: “How pathetic for @realdonaldtrump to criticize the president for 9/11. We were attacked & my brother kept us safe.”   

Jeb Bush

Trump replied: 

“At the debate you said your brother kept us safe–I wanted to be nice & did not mention the WTC came down during his watch, 9/11.”

And: “No @JebBush, you’re pathetic for saying nothing happened during your brother’s term when the World Trade Center was attacked and came down.” 

Suddenly, on February 13, another Republican Presidential candidate rushed to rewrite 9/11: Florida United States Senator Marco Rubio. 

According to Rubio: “The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.” 

And on the following day, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” he again made the charge: “If you’re going to ascribe blame, don’t blame George W. Bush, blame a decision that was made years earlier, not to take out bin Laden when the opportunity presented itself.”  

All of which ignored such embarrassing truths as: 

  • During the first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council, was not permitted to brief President Bush, despite mounting evidence of plans for a new Al-Qaeda outrage.  
  • From January 20 to September 11, 2001, Bush was on vacation, according to the Washington Post, 42% of the time.
  • National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice initially refused to hold a cabinet-level meeting on the subject of terrorism. Then she insisted that the matter be handled only by a more junior Deputy Principals meeting.  
  • Paul Wolfowitz, the number-two man at the Department of Defense, said: “I don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.” 
  • Even after Clarke outlined the threat posed by Al-Qaeda, Wolfowitz—whose real target was Saddam Hussein—said: “You give bin Laden too much credit.” 
  • Finally, at a meeting with Rice on September 4, 2001, Clarke challenged her to “picture yourself at a moment when in the very near future Al-Qaeda has killed hundreds of Americans, and imagine asking yourself what you wish then that you had already done.” 
  • Seven days later, Al-Qaeda struck, and 3,000 Americans died horrifically—and needlessly. 
  • Neither Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld nor Wolowitz ever admitted their negligence. Nor has any of them been brought to account.

People who say the Republicans are “batshit crazy” for denying responsibility for 9/11 clearly haven’t read—or understood—George Orwell’s novel, 1984.  

The unnamed Party’s slogan is: “He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”

The same holds true for Republicans: They hope to rewrite the past, as Joseph Stalin did, to wash away their crimes and errors–and pin these on their self-declared enemies.

And thus gain—and retain—absolute power over 300 million Americans.

THE TRUTH ABOUT LIARS: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on March 9, 2023 at 12:10 am

Fox News has spent two years peddling “The Big Lie”—that President Donald J. Trump was cheated of electoral victory in 2020.       

But now the truth is coming to light.

On the March 3 edition of The PBS Newshour, political commentators David Brooks and Jonathan Capehart explored the explosive revelations emerging from a lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News.

Host Amna Nawaz opened:

And, at CPAC today, [Steve Bannon, former chief strategist for President Trump] went after Fox, saying they’re not pro-Trump enough.

But, just this week, we did see a huge admission in that—the latest filings and the defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems, that admission from Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch. He conceded under oath Fox hosts lied about the 2020 election, and he chose not to stop them. What are the implications of that?

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

David Brooks

New York Times Columnist David Brooks: Rupert Murdoch started a paper called The Australian a long time ago. He was a journalist, an actual journalist. And now he’s gotten to the point where you can lie on camera if—as long as your ratings are OK. 

Those people who lied didn’t lie over little things. They lied about the election results of a presidential election, kind of a major deal. And we now know—as we all suspected—they all knew what was happening.

And Murdoch is sitting there atop this organization sort of blithely pretending it’s not really his problem. And so he can say it, and he has power over the corporation today. He owns it. He could fire Tucker [Carlson]. He could fire all the people—all the people who were in on this and whose journalistic integrity has been exposed as zero.

And yet he’s still trying to blithely rise above it. And so it’s amazing that we have a major news organization that is inaccurate about a presidential election.

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

Jonathan Capehart

Washington Post Associated Editor Jonathan Capehart: Oh, it’s huge. And it was confirmation of something that folks on the left and just folks paying attention kind of suspected: That Fox News, the “news” is in quotes, that they’re out there blatantly telling lies.

But then to see in black and white as part of this case that not only…they would say lies on television, but then, behind the scenes, they knew the truth.

And what that says to me is, Rupert Murdoch and his anchors, those people who are peddling in lies, they are insulated from the effect of the lies that they tell. When you see someone saying, “Oh, our ratings are going down, and that’s going to affect the stock price.” So there’s no concern….

Rupert Murdoch

Hudson Institute, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

So that means you’re more concerned about your bottom line than the corrosive impact on our democracy and political discourse in this country. That, to me, was what’s really disturbing.

And what’s even more disturbing is that Fox News isn’t even really covering this lawsuit, which means that their audience, who should know about what’s being said about them and about the programming for them, they will never—they might not ever know….that what they’re being told is just a big bunch of lies.

Amna Nawaz: I go back to the impact again, though, because their audience, which is in the millions, right……if you’re a loyal Fox watcher prone to distrust any other information source anyway, does any of this make an impact?

Jonathan Capehart: Well, that’s the point I was trying to make. We don’t even know if they will even know about this case, as a result. And even if they do find out, either they might not trust it, or maybe they just don’t care. I don’t know.

David Brooks: Well, they’re losing some viewers to the further right, the Bannons of the world. So they are — they are definitely losing viewers.

But my colleague David French made the core point about Fox. If you’re in red America or in rural America, Fox is not just a news organization. It’s your community center. It’s an organization that—that news organization that pays intense attention, that lots of good news stories about cops and soldiers.

A lot of things that happen in red America that don’t get much coverage in the coastal media get a lot of attention in Fox. And so the loyalty there is not only about politics, and it’s not only about news coverage. It’s just about where people see themselves reflected. 

* * * * *

A Twitter user recently asked: “Are critical thinkers being vastly outnumbered in the USA because secondary education is just so damn expensive? It’s no wonder Republican states are among the most poorly educated.”

The answer is: No. 

You don’t have to accept propaganda.

You can question the official version of any story.

You can seek out multiple sources.

You don’t have to seek out only those sources that confirm your long-held prejudices.

And you don’t need a college education to do so.

If Right-wingers—who make up the audience for Fox News—are ignorant, it’s because they want to be ignorant.

THE TRUTH ABOUT LIARS: PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on March 8, 2023 at 12:12 am

Reputable news organizations believe they’re hurt when a reporter gets his facts wrong—or, worse, invents a story for sensationalistic attention.              

For Fox News Network, getting hurt means that some of its own reporters have told the truth. And, as a result, many of its viewers are turning to other Right-wing propaganda outlets.

In a series of email exchanges, Fox Network executives revealed they were not simply loyal to President Donald Trump but mortally afraid of him.

Star Host Tucker Carlson said that Trump was good at “destroying things. He’s the undisputed world champion of that. He could easily destroy us if we play it wrong.”

Nor was Carlson the only one. The fear started at the very top—with Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch: “Nobody wants Trump as an enemy. We all know that Trump has a big following. If he says, ‘Don’t watch Fox News, maybe some don’t.”

Up to January 26, 2021, Murdoch allowed Fox advertiser Mike “My Pillow” Lindell to appear on the Tucker Carlson Tonight Show to lie that Trump had been cheated of victory by massive voter fraud.

Questioned as to why he allowed it, Murdoch agreed with the statement, “It is not red or blue, it is green.” 

Rupert Murdoch - Flickr - Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer.jpg

Rupert Murdoch 

Eva Rinaldi, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

In short: Lust for money, not ideology, motivated Fox’s slant on politics.

And, as with all Fox News commentary, truth played no role in the decision to air it.

With unapologetic hypocrisy, Fox stars Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham brutally mocked the lies being peddled by Trumpand their own network.

In a text to Ingraham, Carlson said that Sidney Powell, an attorney who was representing the Trump campaign, was “lying” and that he had “caught her” doing so.

Ingraham: “Sidney is a complete nut. No one will work with her. Ditto with Rudy [Giuliani].” 

Hannity said Giuliani was “acting like an insane person” and Ingraham described him as “an idiot.”

And Hannity said: “That whole narrative that Sidney was pushing, I did not believe it for one second.” 

Sean Hannity 2020.jpg

Sean Hannity

How do we know all this? Certainly not because some outraged Fox whistleblower made these exchanges public.

It’s because Fox’s chief victim, Dominion Voting Systems, decided to strike back.

The Denver-based company produces and sells electronic voting hardware and software, including voting machines and tabulators, in Canada and the United States. 

Dominion, claimed Fox, had criminally enabled Democrats to steal the election for Joe Biden by programming its machines to throw out votes meant for Trump

Its reputation unfairly tarnished, its employees threatened with violence by Trump’s Fascistic supporters, Dominion filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News in March, 2021.

Dominion charged Fox News with pushing false conspiracy theories about the company to win back dissatisfied viewers upset with its coverage of Trump’s defeat.

Libel lawsuits are typically centered around one falsehood. But Dominion cites a lengthy list of Fox hosts making false claims even though they were known to be untrue.

According to an almost 200–page document Dominion filed in the lawsuit:

“From the top down, Fox knew ‘the Dominion stuff’ was ‘total BS.’ Yet despite knowing the truth—or at minimum, recklessly disregarding that truth—Fox spread and endorsed these ‘outlandish voter fraud claims’ about Dominion even as it internally recognized the lies as ‘crazy,’ ‘absurd,’ and ‘shockingly reckless.’

“As a result of the false accusations broadcast by Fox into millions of American homes, Dominion has suffered unprecedented harm and its employees’ lives have been put in danger,” Dominion’s attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.  

Dominion Voting Systems logo.svg

Backing up its assertions: A treasury of emails, texts, testimony, and other private communications from Fox News personnel contradicting the network’s claims that Dominion’s voting machines had rigged the presidential election in Joe Biden’s favor. 

These had all been obtained through the discovery process.

While Fox was echoing Trump’s claims of “massive voter fraud,” its executives and commentators knew that he—and they themselves—were lying. 

In mid-November 2020, Carlson texted one of his producers that “there wasn’t enough fraud to change the outcome” of the election.

Later, Carlson said that Sidney Powell, one of Trump’s attorneys and a prominent accuser of election fraud, “is lying.”

Sidney Powell

Sidney Powell

Dana Perino, an anchor, called allegations of voter fraud against Dominion “total bs,” “insane,” and “nonsense.” 

Murdoch told an executive on November 6, 2020 that “if Trump becomes a sore loser we should watch Sean [Hannity] especially and others don’t sound the same.”

And on January 5, 2021, Murdoch wrote to Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott:

“It’s been suggested our prime time three [Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham] should independently or together say something like, ‘the election is over and Joe Biden won.’ It would “go a long way to stop the Trump myth that the election [was] stolen.” 

But Fox never aired such a statement.

Fox has repeatedly tried to get the case dismissed, but Superior Court Judge Eric Davis has refused to do so. A trial is slated to begin on April 17. 

There is a difference between journalism and Fascistic propaganda. And Fox News Network routinely provides examples of the latter.

THE TRUTH ABOUT LIARS: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Business, History, Law, Politics, Social commentary on March 7, 2023 at 12:10 am

In the beginning was the audience. And the audience was filled with Fascistic hate and prejudice, and sought always to have its beliefs confirmed.              

And then came Fox News Network, which sought to capture that audience—and, with it, huge ratings and profits. 

At the center of both Fox and its audience stood Donald Trump—first as a Presidential candidate, then as President.

In him, Right-wingers found their ideal representative: He promised to destroy all those groups they hated.

Among these: Blacks, Asians, “uppity” women, Muslims, liberals, Hispanics, Democrats. 

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Donald Trump

So when Trump lost the 2020 Presidential election—by 81,284,666 votes for former Vice President Joe Biden versus 74,224,319 for Trump-–the Right was devastated. And furious.

Unlike its defeats in past Presidential elections, this time the Right refused to accept the will of the electorate.

Trump had often “joked” about how wonderful it would be for the United States to have a “President-for-Life”—as was the case in China.

This time the Right intended to make that a reality.

Central to making that happen was the Fox News Network.

In 2022, for its seventh consecutive year, Fox News stood as the top-rated cable news network in the United States. Fox averaged 1.4 million total day viewers.

By contrast, 733,000 watched MSNBC and 568,000 watched CNN.

In prime time,  Fox came in first with an average of 2.3 million viewers in 2022.

MSNBC came in second with 1.2 million and CNN ranked third with an average of 730,000.

As for profits: Fox’s net income for the twelve months ending December 31, 2022 was $1.507B, a 4.94% increase year-over-year.

Fox News - Wikipedia

In 2015, Trump launched his campaign for President. His chances for success seemed impossible at the time—even to many mainstream Republicans.

But as he won victory after victory in Republican primaries, Fox News stuck with him. And stayed with him through the four years of his Presidency.

Fox was Trump’s favorite network. It gave him unstinting praise and sought to put a favorable spin on everything he did. As a result, Trump rarely gave interviews to CBS, NBC or ABC News.

In turn, Fox profited hugely as its audience—and advertisers—eagerly tuned in. 

So when Trump lost the 2020 Presidential election, he and Fox decided they must get him back into the Oval Office.

Trump did his best—or worst—by filing about 60 lawsuits to overturn the results of the election. But none of his attorneys could prove their claims that widespread fraud had robbed him of victory. The suits were dismissed by judges or withdrawn by Trump’s own attorneys.

Fox News couldn’t file fraudulent cases on Trump’s behalf. But it could poison the public mind by claiming—endlessly and falsely—that Trump had been cheated by massive voter fraud.

Fox didn’t even wait for the final results of the 2020 election to be called before it intervened on the side of what would soon be dubbed “The Big Lie.”

On Election Night, Chris Stirewalt, the political editor of Fox News Channel. was the first to project Biden’s victory in Arizona. This turned out to be right—and brought a furious attack upon Stirewalt.

Tucker: Biden and his donors don't want you to think about this - YouTube

Tucker Carlson

“We worked really hard to build what we have,” Fox host Tucker Carlson texted his producer, Alex Pfeiffer. “Those fuckers are destroying our credibility. It enrages me.”

For Carlson, credibility didn’t mean ensuring integrity in news reporting. It meant telling Fox’s Right-wing audience what it wanted to hear—whether the “news” was true or not. 

Carlson added that he had spoken with fellow primetime commentators Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity minutes earlier and that they were “highly upset.”

In a January 26 Op-Ed for the Los Angeles Times, Stirewalt wrote: “Having been cosseted by self-validating coverage for so long, many Americans now consider any news that might suggest that they are in error or that their side has been defeated as an attack on them personally. The lie that Trump won the 2020 election wasn’t nearly as much aimed at the opposing party as it was at the news outlets that stated the obvious, incontrovertible fact.” 

Chris Stirewalt.jpg

Chris Stirewalt

Stirewalt was fired from Fox News in January, 2021.

Trump was furious about the Arizona call. After the election, he attacked Fox News and encouraged his followers to switch to Newsmax.

Which many of them did, costing Fox a big chunk of its audience.

For Fox, this was the ultimate catastrophe. The company began cracking down on its employees who had dared tell the truth on Election Night. 

One case involved White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich. Her sin was fact-checking a Trump tweet accusing Dominion Voting Systems of election fraud.

Heinrich wrote that top election officials had determined “there is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

“Please get her fired,” Star host Tucker Carlson texted his fellow told host Sean Hannity: “Seriously….what the fuck? I’m actually shocked….It needs to stop immediately, like tonight. It’s measurably hurting the company. The stock price is down. Not a joke.” 

Hannity replied that he had already spoken to Suzanne Scott, the network’s chief executive. The next morning, Heinrich’s tweet had been deleted.

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

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

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

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

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

Jim Jordan official photo, 114th Congress.jpg

Rep. Jim Jordan

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

One of his major targets: The FBI.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BATTLING THE BIG LIE | Kirkus Reviews

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

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

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

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

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Robert S. Mueller

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

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

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

Jordan claims he didn’t know about the abuse.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

REPUBLICANS’ AGENDA: DESTROY AMERICA TO SAVE IT: PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Medical, Military, Politics, Social commentary on February 14, 2023 at 12:10 am

Rick Scott, former governor of Florida and now a United States Senator from that state, wants to prove 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. 

At the heart of Scott’s plan lies the decades’-long desire of Republicans to destroy Social Security and Medicare. 

Of course, Republicans furiously deny any such thing. 

Yet:

  • President George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security;
  • Former House Speaker Paul Ryan’s budget proposed sweeping changes to Medicare; and
  • President Donald Trump’s budget called for cuts in Social Security and Medicaid. 

On February 27, President Joe Biden touched off a Republican explosion during his State of the Union address: “Instead of making the wealthy pay their fair share, some Republicans want Social Security and Medicare to sunset.” 

Republicans erupted with boos and shouts of “Liar!”   

Biden then turned Republicans’ feigned rage against them: “We agree Medicare is off the books now. We got unanimity!”

Like criminals eager to prove they aren’t criminals, Republicans joined Democrats in a standing ovation.

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

Rick Scott

Rick Scott wants all federal legislation—including Social Security and Medicare—to sunset in five years, with Congress having to vote to pass it again.

But he doesn’t want to admit that Social Security and Medicare will be disastrously affected by his proposal.

“This is clearly and obviously an idea aimed at dealing with ALL the crazy new laws our Congress has been passing of late,” he told Newsweek in a statement. “Joe Biden is confused…to suggest that this means I want to cut Social Security or Medicare is a lie, and is a dishonest move.”

Nevertheless, Scott remains convinced that he has crafted the winning formula for Republicans—and for his election as President in 2024.

Its provisions follow.

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 subjects of slavery, racial discrimination and imperialistic wars 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.

WHEN “THE HAPPY TIME” ENDS FOR DICTATORS–AND THEIR SUPPORTERS

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on February 13, 2023 at 12:25 am

On April 27, 2020, Joe Scarborough offered an important insight about why most Americans ignored President Donald Trump’s crimes and outrages for so long:

“Back in January Joe Biden wrote an Op-Ed that the President was not prepared for this coming pandemic, and things were going to get worse. And he said ‘Let your doctors talk. Let your scientists talk. Follow their lead.’

“…And it’s been one scam idea after another, that people then promoted on other networks, scam doctors promoting these scam solutions, claiming that everybody who had taken this malaria drug had been cured in certain hospitals. This is just the sort of thing that catches up to Donald Trump.

“I’ve said from the very beginning: You can lie about independent counsels, people won’t listen. You can lie about former FBI directors—“

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: “It doesn’t impact their lives.”

JOE SCARBOROUGH: “They’re still going to work, the kids are doing fine, they’ve got enough money to pay their rent, to pay their mortgage, You can even lie about the Ukraine call—they don’t really care.

“But all of these lies, all of these [COVID-19] scams that he’s been pushing…have been revealed as lies—not by the people on cable news, but by their doctors. By nurses they know. If you’ve got a doctor who’s been treating your family for 20-25 years, you’re going to believe that person more than a scam artist that’s pushing propaganda for Donald Trump on talk radio.”

On August 23, 2018, Trump appearing on “Fox and Friends,” said: “I tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor.”

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Donald Trump

Thus, he appealed to the greed and fear of his voting base—and no doubt hoped to reach beyond it: “Keep me in power or you’ll all suffer for it.” 

Then-White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had bragged, 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.”

Many Congressional Republicans echoed this: The American people care only about the economy—and how well-off they are

For eight years, Nazi Germany underwent such an epoch. Germans called it “The Happy Time.”

It began on January 30, 1933, when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor—and lasted until June 22, 1941, when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union.

Germans knew about the Nazis’ cruelty to the Jews, the conquests of Austria and Czechoslovakia, the mass arrests and concentration camps.

They didn’t care.

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 Frenzied Germans greet Adolf Hitler

The Gestapo didn’t have to watch everyone: German “patriots” gladly reported their fellow citizens—especially Jews—to the secret police.

As far as everyday Germans were concerned:

  • The streets were clean and peaceful.
  • Employment was high.
  • The trouble-making unions were gone.
  • Germany was once again “taking its rightful place” among ruling nations, after its catastrophic defeat in World War 1.

The height of “The Happy Time” came in June, 1940. In just six weeks, the Wehrmacht  accomplished what the German army hadn’t in four years during World War 1: The total defeat of its longtime enemy, France.

Suddenly, French clothes, perfumes, delicacies, paintings and other “fortunes of war” came pouring into the Fatherland.  

Most Germans believed der Krieg—“the war”—was over, and only good times lay ahead.

Then, on June 22, 1941, three million Wehrmacht 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. 

German soldiers in the Soviet Union

And then, on December 11, 1941—four days after Germany’s ally, Japan, attacked Pearl Harbor—Hitler declared war on the United States. 

“The Happy Time” for Germans was over. Only prolonged disaster lay ahead. 

Donald Trump has spent his life appealing to the greed or fear of those around him. For example: 

  • Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi personally solicited a political contribution from Trump around the same time her office deliberated joining an investigation of alleged fraud at Trump University and its affiliates.
  • After Bondi dropped the Trump University case against Trump, he wrote her a $25,000 check for her re-election campaign. 
  • According to an April 14, 2019 story by ABC News, a nationwide review uncovered at least 36 criminal cases where Trump was invoked in direct connection with violent acts, threats of violence or allegations of assault.
  • In nine cases, attackers hailed Trump in the midst or immediate aftermath of physically assaulting victims. In 10 more cases, perpetrators cheered or defended Trump while taunting or threatening others. And in another 10 cases, Trump and his rhetoric were cited in court to explain a defendant’s violent or threatening behavior.

But starting in January, 2020, Trump faced an enemy—to his re-election—that he couldn’t bribe or intimidate. 

A deadly virus like COVID-19 doesn’t accept bribe-monies or grovel before a raging tyrant.

Millions of Germans made a devil’s-bargain with Adolf Hitler as Germany’s avenger. 

Millions of greedy Americans made a devil’s-bargain with Donald Trump as America’s economic savior.

By May 8, 1945, Germany lay in ruins and about 5.3 million Germans had died. By January 20, 2021, about 400,000 Americans were dead.

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