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TREASON’S GREETINGS: PART TWO (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on February 16, 2021 at 12:23 am

PREVENTING TREASON IN 2020

Donald Trump didn’t win a majority of the popular vote in 2016—but he got enough help from Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to put him over the top in the Electoral College.

And Trump gladly reciprocated.

On July 16, 2018, Trump attended a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, with Putin.

There he blamed American Intelligence agencies—such as the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency—instead of Putin for Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential election: “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

In early 2020, SEAL Team Six raided a Taliban outpost and recovered $500,000 in American cash. The CIA believed that Putin had offered money to Taliban militants to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan. Trump—who received Intelligence from a wide range of military and civilian agencies—claimed he wasn’t told.

So notorious was the role played by Russian trolls and hackers in winning Trump the 2016 election that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was determined to prevent a repetition in 2020.

The man ultimately tasked with this mission was Chris Krebs, the director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency run by DHS.

Chris Krebs official photo.jpg

Chris Krebs

Krebs launched a massive effort to counter lies spread by Russians—and Americans—on social media platforms. Among his duties:

  • Sharing Intelligence from agencies such as the CIA and National Security Agency with local officials about foreign efforts at election interference.
  • Ensuring that domestic voting equipment was secure.
  • Attacking domestic misinformation head-on.

As a result, Krebs was widely praised for revamping the department’s cybersecurity efforts and increasing coordination with state and local governments. 

By all accounts—except Trump’s—the 2020 election went very smoothly. 

As a result of the vast increase in election security, Trump not only failed to win the popular vote again but couldn’t get the help he expected from Putin. 

On November 17, Trump fired Chris Krebs. 

The reason: Krebs had not only countered Russian propaganda lies—he had dared to counter Trump’s as well. For example: He rejected Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud: There “is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”

Too cowardly to confront Krebs, Trump fired him by tweet—and accompanied the outrage with yet another lie:

“The recent statement by Chris Krebs on the security of the 2020 election was highly inaccurate, in that there were massive improprieties and fraud, including dead people voting, poll watchers not allowed into polling locations, glitches in the voting machines which changed votes from Trump to Biden, late voting, and many more. Therefore, effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”

In a November 17 story on the CNN website, CNN reporters Kaitlan Collins and Paul LeBlanc bluntly concluded:

“[Krebs’] dismissal underscores the lengths Trump is willing to go to punish those who don’t adopt his conspiratorial view of the election.

“Since CNN and other outlets called the race for President-elect Joe Biden, Trump has refused to accept the results, instead pushing baseless conspiracies that his second term is being stolen.

“This includes falsely claiming during an election night address that he had already won reelection, that he had won states that were actually still up in the air at the time and that his opponents were perpetrating a fraud.”

TRUMP’S FINAL SCHEMES TO REMAIN IN POWER

On November 3, Joseph Biden became President-elect of the United States by winning 81,283,495 votes, or 51.4% of the vote, compared to 74,223,755 votes, or 46.9% of the vote cast for Trump.

In the Electoral College—which actually determines the winner—the results were even more stunning: 306 votes for Biden, compared with 232 for Trump. It takes 270 votes to be declared the victor.

From the moment Biden was declared the winner, Trump set out to overturn that verdict.

Joe Biden's Next Big Decision: Choosing A Running Mate | Voice of America - English

Joseph Biden

Trump refused to accept that verdict.

Speaking from the White House in the early hours of November 4, Trump sounded like a petulant child whose planned outing has been suddenly called off:

“We were getting ready for a big celebration, we were winning everything and all of a sudden it was just called off. The results tonight have been phenomenal…I mean literally we were just all set to get outside and just celebrate something that was so beautiful, so good, such a vote such a success.” 

For the first time in American history, a President demanded a halt to the counting of votes while the outcome of an election hung in doubt. 

States ignored his demand and kept counting.

Next, Trump ordered his attorneys to file lawsuits to overturn the election results, charging electoral fraud. Specifically:

  • Illegal aliens had been allowed to vote.
  • Trump ballots were systematically destroyed.
  • A sinister computer program turned Trump votes into Biden ones.

Throughout November and December, 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 Joseph Biden’s win in key states were denied or dropped. A law firm challenging the vote count in Pennsylvania withdrew from the effort.   

TREASON’S GREETINGS: PART ONE (OF FOUR)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on February 15, 2021 at 12:25 am

 HISTORY’S LESSON ON TREASON

Whatever may have been my political opinions before, I have one sentiment now: That is, we have a government, and laws, and a flag, and they must all be sustained. There are but two parties now, traitors and patriots, and I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter and, I trust, the stronger party. 
—Ulysses S. Grant 

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

Example: #1: In February, 1917, Alexander Kerensky became president of the Russian Provisional Government after the fall of Tsar Nicholas II.

Warned that Bolshevik leaders were plotting his overthrow, he refused to order their arrests: “In Russia, it’s always been too easy to arrest people who disagree with you.”

Image result for Images of Alexander Kerensky

Alexander Kerensky

On November 7, 1917, he found himself overthrown and fleeing the country for his life. A Communist government, presided over by Vladimir Lenin, assumed absolute power—and held onto it for the next 74 years

Example #2: On November 9, 1923, Nazi Party Fuhrer Adolf Hitler tried to overthrow the government in Munich, Bavaria.

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

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

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

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

Serving time in Landsberg Prison, in Bavaria. he was given a huge cell, allowed to receive unlimited visitors and gifts, and treated with deference by guards and inmates.

Hitler used his time in prison to write his infamous book, Mein Kampf-–“My Struggle.” Part autobiography, part political treatise, it laid out his future plans—including the extermination of the Jews and the conquest of the Soviet Union.

Image result for Images of Adolf Hitler outside Landsberg prison

Adolf Hitler leaving Landsberg Prison, December, 20, 1924

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

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

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

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

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

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE ELECTIONS OF 2016 AND 2020

During the 2016 Presidential race, Russian propaganda played a major role in convincing millions of Americans to vote for Donald Trump. Social media platforms—especially Facebook and Twitter—were flooded with genuinely fake news to sow discord among Americans and create a pathway for Trump’s election.

And where Internet trolls left off, Russian computer hackers took over.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a former KGB officer, had quickly assessed Trump as an egotistical narcissist. By appealing to Trump’s vanity, Putin expected to sharply reduce the military and political threat the United States represented to a resurgent Russia. 

Donald Trump didn’t win a majority of the popular vote in 2016—but he got enough help from Putin to put him over the top in the Electoral College. 

And Trump gladly reciprocated.

Image result for Images of Donald Trump with Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump

From his first day in office, he sided with brutal dictators (Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-On, China’s Xi Jinping) and declared war on America’s oldest and most reliable allies (Canada, Britain, France).

When he spoke with Putin face-to-face, he afterward demanded that the lone translator surrender his notes, so there would be no record of what he had agreed to with Putin.   

On May 10, 2017, Trump met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the Oval Office—and gave them highly classified CIA Intelligence about an Islamic State plot to turn laptops into concealable bombs. 

Not only did this occur in the Oval Office, but it happened on the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey for refusing to become Trump’s version of a KGB chief. 

“I just fired the head of the FBI,” Trump told the two dignitaries. “He was crazy, a real nut job. I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”

On numerous occasions Donald Trump fiercely denied any Russian connections. On January 11, 2017, he tweeted: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” 

But Trump’s son, Eric, bragged in 2014: “Well, we don’t rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia. We’ve got some guys that really, really love golf, and they’re really invested in our programs. We just go there all the time.”

REPUBLICANS: “WHAT TREASON? I DON’T SEE NO STINKING TREASON”–PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 29, 2021 at 12:06 am

On November 3, 2020, 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, got 74,196,153 votes.

On January 6, 2021, Trump ordered thousands of his Stormtrumper followers  to “stop the steal”—by stopping the count of Electoral College votes that would make Biden President.

Tens of thousands of Stormtrumpers attacked and breached the United States Capitol. Many of the lawmakers’ offices were occupied and vandalized. One Capitol police officer was killed and more than 50 others were injured. Meanwhile, terrified legislators huddled behind locked doors.

It was horrific to watch': Students talk about U.S. Capitol attack - YouTube

Stormtrumpers attacking the Capitol

On February 8, 2021, Trump—although no longer President—will be impeached for a second time.  

And, once again, Republican United States Senators are refusing to act on evidence that almost engulfed them—that of the January 6 mob that Trump sent to attack the United States Capitol.

A January 22 story in The Hill reports: “Only five or six Republican senators at the most seem likely to vote for impeachment, far fewer than the number needed, GOP sources say.”

And Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) claims that 45 Senate Republicans doubt the constitutionality of Trump’s impeachment trial. 

A two-thirds majority vote would be necessary for a conviction, requiring at least 17 GOP votes if every Democrat votes to convict Trump.

Among the GO’s excuses for this:

  • Trump didn’t pardon any of the insurrectionists. Said one anonymous GOP Senator: “If he pardoned people who had been part of this invasion of the Capitol…that would have said, ‘These are my guys,’”
  • “He’s out of office and impeachment is a remedy to remove somebody from office,” said another Republican Senator.
  • If Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts refuses to preside, and the chair is instead occupied by Vice President Kamala Harris or Senate President Pro Tempore Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont.), the process will appear like a partisan exercise.
  • “It’s freedom of speech!” Said Senator Rand Paul: “Are we going to put every politician in jail—are we going to impeach every politician who has used the words ‘fight’ figuratively in a speech? Shame!”

Image]Never let fear conquer you : GetMotivated

In answer to these excuses:

  • It doesn’t matter that Trump didn’t pardon any of the seditionists. His lying tweets brought them to Washington, and his fiery, lie-studded rhetoric launched the attack.
  • If a retired Senator or Supreme Court Justice was found to have violated the law, s/he could still be tried—so long as the statute hadn’t expired. The President should not be held above the law.
  • Supreme Court Justice John Roberts has said he doesn’t want to preside over Trump’s second impeachment trial. So what? The Constitution dictates: “When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” He should be required to live up to his assigned duty—or resign his position.
  • The “freedom of speech” defense ignores a fundamental truth: Even the First Amendment doesn’t allow speech that incites deadly violence. When Trump proclaimed “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong” his supporters—many of whom had come with firearms, scaling devices and twist-ties for taking hostages—knew exactly what he wanted them to do.

* * * * * * * * * *

So why have Republicans almost unanimously stood by Donald Trump despite his having sent a mob to attack the Capitol—and threaten their own safety?

During the six-hour siege, they feared for their lives. But now they fear they will lose their powerful positions—and the privileges that go with them—to Trump’s angry supporters at the next election.

For them, that counts far more than protecting the country from a ruthless tyrant who nearly destroyed America’s most cherished democratic institutions:

  • A free press.
  • An apolitical Justice Department.
  • The peaceful transfer of power from one administration to another.

In his bestselling 1973 biography, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, British historian Robert Payne harshly condemned the German people for the rise of the Nazi dictator:

“[They] allowed themselves to be seduced by him and came to enjoy the experience….[They] followed him with joy and enthusiasm because he gave them license to pillage and murder to their hearts’ content. They were his servile accomplices, his willing victims. Germany will rule the world, our enemies will be our slaves….”

Like Hitler, Trump offered his Republican voters and Congressional allies intoxicating dreams: “I will enrich all of you. And I will humiliate and destroy those Americans you most hate.”

And, again like Hitler, his audience had always possessed those desires. Trump offered them nothing new. But as a lifelong opportunist, he realized that he could use those desires to catapult himself into a position of supreme power.

He despised his followers—both as voters and Congressional allies—for they were merely the instruments of his will. 

In 1960, the Russian poet, Yevgeney Yevtushenko, published “Conversation With an American Writer”—a stinging indictment of the cowardly opportunists who had supported the brutal tyranny of Joseph Stalin: 

I was never courageous.

I simply felt it unbecoming to stoop to the cowardice of my colleagues.

Too many Republicans know all-too-well how it feels to stoop to the cowardice of their colleagues for a transitory goal.

REPUBLICANS: “TREASON? I DON’T SEE NO STINKING TREASON”–PART TWO (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 28, 2021 at 12:19 am

As trial proceedings unfolded in the 2020 impeachment of President Donald J. Trump, the majority Republican Senators consistently put their own partisan interests over those of their country.

Trump was facing charges of:

Article 1: Abuse of Power: For pressuring Ukraine to assist him in his re-election campaign by smearing a potential rival for the White House. 

Article 2: Obstruction of Congress: For obstructing Congress by blocking testimony of subpoenaed witnesses and refusing to provide documents in response to House subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry. 

Yet Republican Senators repeatedly made clear their determination to fully support him.

Among their actions:

  • Refusing to hear from eyewitnesses who could prove that Trump had committed impeachable offenses,
  • Refusing to provide evidence on Trump’s behalf—but attacking witnesses who had testified against him in the House.
  • Attacking Joseph and Hunter Biden as if they were on trial—instead of having been the targets of Trump’s smear-attempt. 

As Lead Impeachment Manager, Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA) held the role of a prosecutor. 

Faced with the unwillingness of Trump’s Senatorial defenders to accept any evidence—no matter how damning—against him, Schiff warned: “Donald Trump must be convicted and removed from office. Because he will always choose his own personal interest over our national interest. Because in America, right matters. Truth matters. If not, no Constitution can protect us. If not, we are lost.”

Adam Schiff official portrait.jpg

Adam Schiff

On February 5, 2020, the Republican-dominated Senate—as expected—absolved him from trying to extort Ukraine into smearing a possible rival for the White House.  

Only one Republican—Utah Senator Mitt Romney—had the moral courage to vote for conviction.

On January 6, 2021, Schiff’s prophecy came true. 

On that date, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives were meeting to count the Electoral Votes cast for then-President Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden. 

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

On December 20, he had tweeted: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” 

In tweets, he promoted the rally again on December 27 and 30, and January 1.

And, as the House of Representatives would soon note: “In the months preceding the Joint Session, President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials.”

Thus, through his lies, he had aroused the fury of his Right-wing supporters.

It would take only his command to send it hurtling at his perceived enemies: Those who would dare elect Joe Biden in his place.

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

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

On January 6, Trump appeared at the Ellipse, a 52-acre park south of the White House fence and north of Constitution Avenue and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

A stage had been set up for him to address tens of thousands of his supporters, who eagerly awaited him.  

Trump ordered them to march on the Capitol building to express their anger at the voting process and to intimidate their elected officials to reject the results: 

“And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.

Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated.”

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

  • One attacker was shot as protesters forced their way toward the House Chamber where members of Congress were sheltering in place.
  • Members of the mob attacked police with chemical agents or lead pipes.
  • A Capitol Hill police officer was knocked off his feet, dragged into the mob surging toward the building, and beaten with the pole of an American flag.
  • Several rioters carried plastic handcuffs, possibly intending to take hostages.
  • Others carried treasonous Confederate flags.
  • Shouts of “Hang Pence!” often rang out.
  • Improvised explosive devices were found in several locations in Washington, D.C.
  • Many of the lawmakers’ office buildings were occupied and vandalized—including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.

More than three hours passed before police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. 

And Trump?  After giving his inflammatory speech, he didn’t march with his followers to the Capitol.

Like the draft-dodger he had been during the Vietnam war, he kept himself out of harm’s way and returned to the White House.

There he watched his handiwork on television—and initially rebuffed requests to mobilize the National Guard. 

This required intervention by Pat A. Cipollone, the White House Counsel, among other officials. 

REPUBLICANS: “TREASON? I DON’T SEE NO STINKING TREASON”–PART ONE (OF THREE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 27, 2021 at 12:18 am

On February 8, Donald J. Trump will face trial for impeachment for a second time—when he is no longer President of the United States.

He faces trial on one count—Incitement of Insurrection: “Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” 

Specifically: 

On January 6, 2021, the House of Representatives and the Senate met in the United States Capitol to count the Electoral College votes received by both Trump and his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden, in the November 3 Presidential election.

Local and State Elected Officials call on Congress to Provide Financial Assistance | NY State Senate

United States Capitol

According to the Article of Impeachment: “President Trump repeatedly issued false statements asserting that the Presidential election results were the product of widespread fraud and should not be accepted by the American people or certified by State or Federal officials.

“Shortly before the Joint Session commenced, President Trump addressed a crowd at the Ellipse in Washington, DC. There he reiterated false claims that ‘we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.’

“He also willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged—and foreseeably resulted in—lawless action at the Capitol, such as: ‘If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.’ 

“Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to….interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.”

Trump wanted his followers to stop that ballot counting, since he knew the final tally would give the victory to Biden. And his followers intended to give him another—and illegal—four years in office.

doonald troump (@doonaldtromp) | Twitter

Donald Trump

The Article of Impeachment further cites that, on January 2, Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and “urged” him to “find” enough votes to overturn the Georgia Presidential election results. And he threatened Raffsnsperger with prosecution if he failed to do so.

Summing up its case against Trump, the Article states: “In all this, President Trump gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of Government. He threatened the integrity of the democratic system, interfered with the peaceful transition of power, and imperiled a coequal branch of Government. He thereby betrayed his trust as President, to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.

“Wherefore, Donald John Trump, by such conduct, has demonstrated that he will remain a threat to national security, democracy, and the Constitution if allowed to remain in office, and has acted in a manner grossly incompatible with self-governance and the rule of law. Donald John Trump thus warrants impeachment and trial, removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States.”

One year ago, Trump—as President—faced such trial on two counts: “Abuse of Power” and “Obstruction of Congress.”

On December 18, 2019, the House of Representatives had approved two Articles of Impeachment against Trump for: 

Article 1: Abuse of Power: For pressuring Ukraine to assist him in his re-election campaign by smearing a potential rival for the White House. 

Article 2: Obstruction of Congress: For obstructing Congress by blocking testimony of subpoenaed witnesses and refusing to provide documents in response to House subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry. 

On September 9, 2019, the House Foreign Affairs, Intelligence and Oversight and Reform committees began investigating his attempted extortion of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky.

On July 25, 2019, Trump had “asked” Zelensky to do him a “favor”: Find embarrassing “dirt” on former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter.

Hunter had had business dealings in Ukraine. And Joseph Biden might be Trump’s Democratic opponent for the White House in 2020.

To underline the seriousness of his “request,” earlier in July Trump had told Mick Mulvaney, his White House chief of staff, to withhold $400 million in military aid that Congress had approved for Ukraine, which faced an increasingly aggressive Russia.

Joe Biden (48548455397) (rotated).jpg

Joseph Biden

Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)

But then a CIA whistleblower filed a complaint about the extortion attempt—and the media and Congress soon learned of it. And ever since, the evidence linking Trump to impeachable offenses had mushroomed.

On January 16, 2020, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced that the Trump administration broke the law when it withheld security aid to Ukraine.

The GAO, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog, declared that the White House Budget Office violated the Impoundment Control Act, a 1974 law that limits the White House from withholding funds that Congress has appropriated.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the GAO auditors wrote.

On October 3, 2019, while being investigated for trying to extort Ukraine to investigate Biden, Trump said on the White House lawn: “China should start an investigation into the Bidens.”

And he warned: “I have a lot of options on China, but if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.” 

BURYING TRUMP–AND STALIN: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 15, 2021 at 12:10 am

Fifty-nine years ago, a Russian congress came face-to-face with the legacy of a ruthless dictator.

For almost 30 years, from 1924 to 1953, Joseph Vissarionovich Djugashvili—better known as Stalin—had ruled as absolute dictator over the Soviet Union. Hallmarks of his legacy included mass arrests, repeated purges, forced mass starvation and the imprisonment of millions. As many as 20 million men, women and children died as his victims. 

His reign of terror ended only with his death, of a cerebral hemorrhage, on March 5, 1953, at age 74. 

Joseph Stalin

As historian Robert Payne wrote in his monumental 1965 biography The Rise and Fall of Stalin: “The son of an obscure cobbler, he had become during the last years of his life the most powerful man on earth. No emperor had ever enjoyed the power he possessed.

“He had taken the world by the throat, and forced it to do his will. He was one of the world-shakers, and when he died in 1953 it was thought proper that his remains should be exhibited as an object of reverence and worship in the Lenin mausoleum, the holy of holies of the Soviet empire.”

On February 25, 1956, his successor, Nikita Khrushchev, revealed Stalin’s litany of crimes to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The speech was the opening shot in Khrushchev’s “de-Stalinization” campaign. He intended to destroy the image of the late dictator as an infallible leader and rein in the infamous KGB secret police. 

The speech gave rise to a period of liberalization known as the “Khrushchev thaw” (1956-1964). During this, censorship policy was relaxed, and for the first time books and articles appeared about the huge network of forced labor camps set up by Vladimir Lenin and reaching its peak under Stalin.   

File:Khrushchov.jpg - Wikipedia

Nikita Khrushchev

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

Thousands of political prisoners were released, and thousands more who had perished during Stalin’s reign were officially “rehabilitated.”

By 1961, Khrushchev and those seeking to reform the Soviet political system decided to condemn the horrors of the Stalinist decades in a forceful symbolic act.

On October 31, 1961, the body of Joseph Stalin was removed from its honored resting place in the Lenin mausoleum in Red Square. A new grave was dug for him—among the minor heroes of the Russian Revolution. The re-internment took place secretly—at night—without ceremonies. And his name was removed from the mausoleum. 

Historian Robert Payne described that event—and its significance: “A dead god was being transformed into a dead man, a dead emperor was being dethroned, a dead criminal was being executed….

The rise and fall of Stalin: Robert Payne: Amazon.com: Books

“But more than a ritual murder was at stake. The Supreme Soviet and the Central Committee, which decreed the punishment now being inflicted on the corpse of Stalin, were now attempting to absolve themselves from responsibility for his crimes. 

“They were saying: ‘We are not responsible, we are casting him away, he is not one of us! He committed such terrible crimes that we will have none of him.’

“For nearly thirty years Stalin had ruled tyrannically over Russia. History, too, was being consigned to oblivion.” 

A series of similar events has erupted within the United States since January 6.

On that day, thousands of Right-wing supporters of President Donald Trump—ignited by his fiery, lie-riddled rhetoric—overwhelmed police guarding the United States Capitol and occupied the building.

Donald Trump

Their intention: To halt the counting of Electoral College votes that would certify former Vice President Joseph Biden as the next President of the United States.

Americans who held that site sacred as the cradle of democracy were horrified to see rioters:

  • Breaking windows and battering down doors;
  • Beating police with fire extinguishers and an American flag pole; 
  • Carrying treasonous Confederate flags in the Capitol;
  • Stealing treasures (such as the podium used by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) and
  • Forcing members of Congress to crouch under chairs as police fought off rioters.

Since then, Trump’s fortunes have sharply declined:

  • Twitter—whose platform he had used during his Presidency to ruthlessly attack hundreds of people—finally cut off his account.
  • A series of Cabinet officials hurriedly resigned from his administration. Among these: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf.
  • Deutsche Bank, his business lender since the 1990s, announced that it would not continue to do business with him.
  • The PGA of America cut ties with Trump by canceling plans to hold the PGA Championship at his New Jersey golf course in 2022.
  • And on January 13—one week to the day after his Stormtrumpers attacked the Capitol Building—the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for the second time during his Presidency. No other President has ever suffered such a humiliation.
  • Adding to this humiliation: Ten Republican House members voted to impeach him.

Herodotus, the Greek historian who chronicled the Greek-Persian wars, offers a still-timely explanation of such reverses of fortune—and a warning for those who dare to ignore history:

“Look to the end, no matter what it is you are considering. Often enough God gives a man a glimpse of happiness, and then utterly ruins him.”

BURYING TRUMP–AND STALIN: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 14, 2021 at 12:08 am

On January 13, for the first time in its history, the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach a President—for the second time during his tenure.

On December 10, 2019, Democratic leaders in the House voted to send two Articles of Impeachment to the House Judiciary Committee.

Their purpose: To remove Donald J. Trump from office as the 45th President of the United States.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler read the charges:

Article 1: Abuse of Power: For pressuring Ukraine to assist him in his re-election campaign by damaging former Vice President Joseph Biden, his possible Democratic rival.

Article 2: Obstruction of Congress: For obstructing Congress by blocking testimony and refusing to provide documents in response to House subpoenas in the impeachment inquiry.

On January 23, 2020, House Intelligence Committee Chairman and Lead Impeachment Manager Adam Schiff (D-CA) tweeted a prophecy—and a warning: “Donald Trump must be convicted and removed from office. Because he will always choose his own personal interest over our national interest. Because in America, right matters. Truth matters. If not, no Constitution can protect us. If not, we are lost.” 

Adam Schiff official portrait.jpg

Adam Schiff

On February 5, 2020, the Republican-dominated Senate—ignoring the overwhelming evidence against him—acquitted Donald Trump on both impeachment articles: Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power.

Schiff’s prophecy came true on January 6, 2021. On that day, Trump unleashed thousands of Right-wing terrorists on the United States Capitol.

Inside, members of Congress were tabulating the Electoral College votes cast in the 2020 Presidential election.

The winner had been former Vice President Joseph Biden. Trump, seeking a second term, had lost, getting 74,196,153 votes.to 81,255,933 for Biden.

Trump had made repeated—and false—claims of electoral fraud. Yet despite filing 60 court cases seeking to overturn the election’s results, his lawyers had failed to produce any proof of it.

Trump had often “joked” about how great it would be for the United States to have a “President-for-Life”—like China.  Now his only hope of remaining in power lay in intimidating Congress into ignoring the election results.

Inspired by Trump’s violence-charged rhetoric, the Stormtrumpers marched to the United States Capitol—and quickly brushed aside outnumbered Capitol Police.

  • Members of the mob attacked police with chemical agents or lead pipes.
  • A Capitol Hill police officer was knocked off his feet, dragged into the mob surging toward the building, and beaten with the pole of an American flag.
  • Several rioters carried plastic handcuffs, possibly intending to take hostages. Others carried treasonous Confederate flags.

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

Stormtrumpers scaling Capitol Building walls

  • Shouts of “Hang Pence!” often rang out.
  • Improvised explosive devices were found in several locations in Washington, D.C. 
  • Members of the House and Senate huddled anxiously behind locked doors barricaded with furniture as seditionists tried to break in.
  • Many of the lawmakers’ office buildings were occupied and vandalized—including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a favorite Right-wing target.

More than three hours passed before police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. 

Meeting again that evening, members of the Senate and House resumed their vote-counting. In the end, Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris were named, respectively, the President-Elect and Vice-President Elect of the United States.

By the next day, members of the House—especially Democrats—were furious at their near-brush with death. And they were ready to seek retribution on the man responsible.

Their initial hope was that Vice President Mike Pence and a majority of Trump’s cabinet would invoke the 25th Amendment. But hopes for this quickly faded.

A growing number of Cabinet officials began resigning:

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
  • Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao
  • Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf

There was a very real danger there wouldn’t be enough Cabinet members left to invoke the Amendment.  

But making the use of the Amendment even more unlikely was the obvious unwillingness of Vice President Pence to invoke it.

Official White House portrait of Mike Pence smiling. He wears a black suit, red tie, and an American flag lapel pin.

Mike Pence

This despite the fact that he could have been hanged as a “traitor” by the Stormtrumpers only days ago.

(He had likely been spared this fate by his Secret Service detail, whisking him out of the Senate—and leaving other government officials to their own fates.)

On January 11, Democrats introduced a single impeachment article charging Trump with “incitement of insurrection” in urging his supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

They also introduced a resolution that called on Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment to the Constitution to remove him from office before January 20.

On January 13, the House met to debate a single article of impeachment: “Incitement of Insurrection.” Its gist:

“Thus incited by President Trump, members of the crowd he had addressed, in an attempt to, among other objectives, interfere with the Joint Session’s solemn constitutional duty to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential election, unlawfully breached and vandalized the Capitol, injured and killed law enforcement personnel, menaced Members of Congress, the Vice President, and Congressional personnel, and engaged in other violent, deadly, destructive, and seditious acts.” 

Thus, the House sought to remove a President who intended to rule as a dictator.

Fifty-nine years earlier, a Russian congress had come face-to-face with the despotism of another tyrant.

TRUMP: “I’LL BE WITH YOU–UNTIL I’M AGAINST YOU”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 13, 2021 at 12:56 am

By January 6, 2021, President Donald J. Trump had almost run out of options for illegally staying in power for the next four years.

On November 3, 2020, Joseph Biden had been elected the nation’s 46th President over Trump. 

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

That morning, Trump urged Pence to flip the results of the election to give him a win.

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

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

Mike Pence - Wikipedia

Mike Pence

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

On December 20, he had tweeted: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” 

In tweets, he promoted the rally again on December 27 and 30, and January 1.

On January 6, Trump appeared at the Ellipse, a 52-acre park south of the White House fence and north of Constitution Avenue and the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

A stage had been set up for him to address tens of thousands of his supporters, who eagerly awaited him.  

Trump ordered them to march on the Capitol building to express their anger at the voting process and to intimidate their elected officials to reject the results. 

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

Donald Trump addresses his Stormtrumpers 

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

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

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

“And after this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you. We’re going to walk down to the Capitol. And we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.

“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated.”

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

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

Capitol Police facing off with Stormtrumpers

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

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

Stormtrumpers scaling Capitol Building walls

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

Trump to Pardon 'Patriots' Involved in Capitol Attack? Truth About WH Pardons Attorney Seeking Names in Viral Post

Stormtrumpers inside the Capitol Building

More than three hours passed before police—using riot gear, shields and batons—retook control of the Capitol. 

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

This required intervention by Pat A. Cipollone, the White House Counsel, among other officials. 

While the rioting was still erupting, Trump posted a video on Twitter: “I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us….But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order….So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

Hours later, in a video he released to social media, Trump described his “very special” followers in utterly different terms:

Explained: Trump is heading for second impeachment. Here's how it could play out - glbnews.com

Donald Trump

“I’d like to begin by addressing the heinous attack on the United States Capitol. Like all Americans I am outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem.

“I immediately deployed the National Guard and federal law enforcement to secure the building and expel the intruders. America is and must always be a nation of law and order.

“To demonstrators who infiltrated the Capitol: you have defiled the seat of American democracy. To those who engage in the acts of violence and destruction: you do not represent our country. And to those who broke the law: you will pay.” 

In fact:

  • Trump waited six hours to deploy the National Guard.
  • He spent most of the day watching his unleashed mob attack the Capitol—and rage-tweeting against Pence.
  • He was “delighted” at the attack—and surprised others weren’t, an angry Republican Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said later. 
  • His administration was closing with the same contempt for law and democracy that had characterized it from its outset.

TRUMP: “I’LL BE WITH YOU–UNTIL I’M AGAINST YOU”: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on January 12, 2021 at 12:20 am

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

President Donald J. Trump, running for a second term, got 74,196,153 votes.

Yet more than two months after the election, Trump refuses to concede, insisting that he won—and repeatedly claiming falsely that he is the victim of massive vote fraud.

Immediately after the election, Trump ordered his attorneys to file lawsuits to overturn the election results, charging electoral fraud.

Throughout November and December, 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 attacking 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.

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, Trump and his allies lost 59 times in court, either withdrawing cases or having them dismissed by Federal and state judges.

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Donald Trump

On November 19, losing in the courts, Trump invited two Republican legislative leaders from Michigan to the White House. The reason: To persuade them to stop the state from certifying the vote.

The Michigan legislators said they would follow the law.

On December 5, Trump called Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and asked him to call a special legislative session and convince state legislators to select their own electors that would support him, thus overturning Biden’s win.

Kemp refused, saying he lacked the authority to do so.

David Perdue and Brian Kemp (cropped).jpg

Brian Kemp

On December 8, the Supreme Court refused to hear Trump’s bid to reverse Pennsylvania’s certification of Biden’s victory. Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), a Trump ally, argued that the state’s 2.5 million mail-in were unconstitutional.

The Court’s order read, “The application for injunctive relief presented to Justice [Samuel] Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied.”

Although Trump had appointed three of the Court’s Justices, not one of them dissented.

On December 10, the Supreme Court refused to let a Texas lawsuit overturn the results in four battleground states: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. 

“Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another state conducts its elections,” the court said without further comment. It dismissed all other related claims as moot.

The request for their overturning came in a lawsuit brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. A Trump ally, Paxton has been indicted on felony securities fraud charges. 

Seventeen Republican state Attorney Generals—and 126 Republican members of Congress—supported the lawsuit. They feared Trump’s fanatical base would “primary” them if they didn’t publicly declare their loyalty—to a man they knew was slated to leave office within two months.

U.S. Supreme Court building-m.jpg

The Supreme Court

Had the Court acted on Paxton’s request, the results for democracy would have been catastrophic. 

“Texas seeks to invalidate elections in four states for yielding results with which it disagrees,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told the justices in legal papers. “Its request for this court to exercise its original jurisdiction and then anoint Texas’s preferred candidate for president is legally indefensible and is an affront to principles of constitutional democracy.”  

Then, on December 30,  Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley announced that, on January 6, 2021, he would object to the certification of some states’ Electoral College results. As many as 140 House Republicans and 25 from the Senate could join him. 

This would force Republicans to:

  1. Vote to reject Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of massive voter fraud; or
  2.  Disenfranchise millions of voters who had voted for Biden.

“Josh Hawley and anyone who supports his effort are engaged in the attempted overthrow of democracy,” Democratic Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy said.

“There is no evidence that there was any fraud. Senator Hawley apparently believes that if a Democrat wins the presidential race, it must be illegitimate by definition, even absent any actual evidence of misbehavior.”

Nebraska Republican Senator Ben Sasse bluntly offered the reason for this effort: ‘”We have a bunch of ambitious politicians who think there’s a quick way to tap into the president’s populist base without doing any real, long-term damage. But they’re wrong—and this issue is bigger than anyone’s personal ambitions.” 

Having lost in 59 court cases to overturn the election results, Trump opted for some old-fashioned arm-twisting.

On January 2, 2021, he called the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The reason: To pressure him to “find” enough votes to overturn former Vice President Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state,” Trump lied.

He even threatened Raffensperger with criminal prosecuted if he did not change the vote count in Trump’s favor: “That’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen.”  

Raffensperger insisted there hadn’t been any voter fraud—and refused to change the official results.

THE TRUE LEGACY OF TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT–ONE YEAR LATER

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 11, 2021 at 12:08 am

On December 10, 2019, Sarah Jones, editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA, did what Senate Republicans fear to do: She openly declared Donald J. Trump to be an illegitimate President whose removal is entirely justified.

She did so in an editorial titled, “Adam Schiff Tells Trump That He Won’t Be Allowed To Cheat In 2020.”

“On Tuesday as House Democrats made the formal announcement of articles of impeachment against President Trump, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff gave a perfectly accurate rebuttal to the plea that Democrats should ‘just wait’ on impeachment, saying that those who argue ‘just wait’ are actually arguing ‘just let him cheat in one more election’ and ‘let him have foreign help just one more time,’” wrote Jones. [Italics added]

PoliticusUSA - Politicus News With Sarah Jones: Trump's Crumbling Presidency | Facebook

Sarah Jones

“This matters because after three years of pretending that Trump is the rightful president, it is finally being acknowledged that not only is he trying to cheat in 2020, but it is again, because he cheated in 2016.

“For three years this nation has endured the abuses of this pretender and his entire party of lock step enablers, save for Rep. Amash of Michigan.

“For three long years those who suggested Trump was not a legitimate president were shamed and silenced, even after the Mueller report made it clear that the Trump campaign sought illegal help and took illegal help from Russia in the 2016 election….

“A cheating cheater.

“A loser.

“A man who can’t win an election and did not win an election of the people fairly.

“Donald Trump can’t win an election without cheating. He knows that, and that’s why it upsets him so much to be called out for his illegal actions.

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Donald Trump

Trump is used to getting away with his criminal entitlements, but today, even if just for a moment before Republicans in the Senate betray their country again by letting Trump off as he attacks the United States, justice has been spoken and served.”  [Italics added]

In September, 2019, the House Intelligence Committee began investigating Trump’s attempt to coerce Ukraine to smear a 2020 political rival for the White House—former Vice President Joseph Biden.

And every day of its hearings, Republicans loudly and brutally defended that extortion.

  • They didn’t offer any evidence that Trump didn’t try to extort an ally.
  • They simply attacked the witnesses who dared to come forward and testify to their own knowledge of it.
  • They attacked Schiff, who heads that committee, demanding self-righteously that he resign.

And they continued to do so throughout the Senate “trial”—where they banned witnesses from testifying about Trump’s impeachable behavior.

On February 5, 2020, the Republican-dominated Senate—ignoring the overwhelming evidence against him—acquitted Donald Trump on both impeachment articles: Obstruction of Congress and abuse of power. 

On January 2, 2021, Trump once again proved he couldn’t win without cheating: He called the office of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The reason: To pressure him to “find” enough votes to overturn former Vice President Joe Biden’s win in the state’s presidential election.

“All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state.”

Actually, he didn’t.

He even threatened Raffensperger with criminal prosecuted if he did not change the vote count in Trump’s favor: “That’s a criminal offense. And you can’t let that happen.”

But there is a way to put the impeachment effort into historical perspective.

In 1960, David Hackworth was a young Army captain stationed in West Germany. The end of World War II had revealed the horror of Nazi death camps and the extermination of millions. To everyone, that is, but the Germans.

David Hackworth.JPG

David Hackworth

Dale Cruse. (Flickr profile.) / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)

One winter’s day, Hackworth took his wife, Patty, to Dachau, the infamous concentration camp. In his 1989 memoir, About Face: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, he describes that experience:

“The horror of Hitler’s vision was alive and well in this grim death camp: the barracks, the ovens, the electrified barbed wire fences, remained intact. A mound here held the bones of 10,000 Jews; one over there held the bones of 12,000 more.

“The place was a monument to the darkest side of man, and yet—despite the smoke and ash that rained down on their homes from camp incinerators, despite the sickly smell of burning flesh and hair….the villagers claimed they hadn’t known. I couldn’t square it….”

Nor could Hackworth accept that “not one of the laughing, backslapping, congenial comrades I met…had fought the Americans in the West. All assured me they’d been on the Eastern Front, fighting ‘the real enemy,’ the Russians….

“In 15 years the Germans had come a long way in their rewrite of history. But at least there’s Dachau, I thought to myself, to remind them of the truth.”

So, too, will the impeachment of Donald Trump stand as a monument to the sheer evil and infamy of himself and the Republican party.

And it will remind future generations that there were decent Americans who dared to confront that evil in a stand as hopeless and glorious as that at Thermopylae and the Alamo.

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