Thursday, May 14, 2020

Running On Empty ... Lies


Next newspaper column (updated, below):
Golly. Because some of its denizens have tested positive for Covid-19, White House people are finding it “scary to go to work.” It shouldn’t have taken a virus to tell them that. Maybe “scary” is the necessary first step on the way to “embarrassing.” 
With “president” and vice ignoring their own guidelines, even demanding people remove masks before photo-ops, it was inevitable there’d be contagion in the contagion. Even as Trump insists testing is “overrated” and “makes us look bad,” he’s now being tested daily, as are all people coming into the West Wing. Except for him, personnel are suddenly required to wear masks. He’ll make his workplace safe, but not yours. Yours doesn’t need to be. You can be a warrior.  
By now, Donald “We’ve prevailed” Trump’s reelection strategy is clear: lie. All day, all night, Kellyanne. Truth being disadvantageous, lie. And, with Bill Barr’s help, erase history. Because Trump knows he’ll get no pushback from supporters, and because the “fake news” “enemy of the people” have gotten so trounced by the terrifying torrent of transparent Trumpic truthlessness that they’ve tossed in the towel. He knows it takes more time to correct his lies than he spends telling them. Co-conspirator Moscow Mitch just said Obama “left no game plan.” Brazen. Like Trump and Barr, he thinks you’re too stupid to notice.  
For now, Trump’s biggest lie is that he’s handling the pandemic “beautifully.” Which explains, one assumes, his daily blame-placing and responsibility-shirking. Initially praising China’s Xi for his response to the virus, Trump is now not only blaming China and repeating the Putinesque lie that Covid-19 was created in a Chinese lab, about which science says the opposite, he’s implying it was a deliberate attack on the United States, a “worse attack than Pearl Harbor.”  
Commending people who reject the precautions he’s now taking, people braying about rights but not responsibilities, Trump is rallying anger, his ploy of first resort. At governors, Democrats, President Barack Obama, China. As with Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, Latinos, and LGBT Americans since his “election,” attacks on Chinese-Americans are spreading, too, as the xenophobic deplorables wing of the faithful respond to his mendacity. Angry, ill-informed people, Trump believes, will keep him in office. Dr. Fauci is the latest target.  
By defunding American researchers in China, where we need to be if we’re to understand how the virus spread and how to prevent it from happening again, Trump endangers even more lives. He’d rather attach pseudo-credibility to his China lies than prevent another pandemic. 
Anyone who admires Trump’s crisis “leadership” should take nine minutes to watch this recounting of the US response and Trump’s part in it. Or admit a preference for remaining ignorant.  
To the extent that actions have been effective, it’s because governors like ours stepped in to fill the federal leadership void. After ceding responsibility to them, Trump began criticizing and undermining their efforts, calling for resistance while taking credit for what they’d done. Lying. About who got what to whom, when. About how much was available, where. About total US testing compared to other countries rather than per capita. About “numbers are coming down.” On these matters, the record is clear. Trump is trying to ensure you forget.  
Ignorance and anger are key to Trump’s reelection. Rather than a sense of unity during a time of unprecedented crisis, he’s staked victory on creating division. Unfamiliar with helping others for its own sake, he pits Americans against each other, for what he sees as personal advantage. Given Trump’s lifelong mendacity, it’s unsurprising.  
What’s surprising is the ease with which he’s conned so many. All countries have individuals like Trump. But tens of millions? American exceptionalism has become its free-world-leading preference for misinformation, its docility before undisguised attempts to confuse and distract. Trump’s “presidency” fits perfectly with, amplifies, and feeds on the streak of paranoid and credulous conspiracy-mongering that’s always run through American life. After Trump applauded Michigan’s AR-packing protestors, people began calling for lynching Governor Whitmer. If such threats aren’t historically extraordinary, a “president” all but encouraging them is. His latest: “Obamagate.” Because he can.  
Since 1789, we’ve survived isolated outbreaks of ignorance. Now, though, it’s a national movement, the bedrock of a major political party; one that countenances a lying “president” who claims absolute power; that remains silent when Trump calls 
President Barack Obama treasonous, but calls the former president “classless” when he breaks his long silence to speak the obvious.   
[Update, 5/15: since I published this, Moscow Mitch admitted he was wrong about Obama not leaving a plan. The version that will be in The Everett Herald will be a revised one, without the reference to his original claim, and a few extra words about "Obamagate:" that Fox "news" is running with it and Trumpists are swallowing it like a cheeseburger, without chewing.] 

44 comments:

  1. "...trounced by the terrifying torrent of transparent Trumpic truthlessness that they’ve tossed in the towel."
    Love it! (I dare anyone to do better! :-)
    [Those lazy lizards are lying like lumps on the lawn.]

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  2. Can I play too? How's this -

    People who purchase the pure poison of the professional peddlers of umbrage pay dearly with their peace of mind.

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  3. Alluding to alliteration alters the aim of the article, after the author ardently attempted to argue assiduously about amoral assholery.

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  4. I'm obviously outclassed, clearly cloudy in inspiration.
    Good gambit guys!

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  5. Hold the presses!! Moscow Mitch, just admitted that the Obama team, did in fact leave a "Game Plan" for a pandemic.

    You know: the one someone said would "Never see the light of day"; and that in fact he "Moscow Mitch" had "misled" his screaming, heavily armed and be-flagged lynch mob of storm troopers (Yearning to be free) about its existence!

    But, just in time, he remembered that he had consigned it to Trump's Oval Office toilet where it was being used as toilet paper (because of the TP shortage Obama caused).

    He is so sorry about that! What a Mench!

    By the way, did Clinton ever get his saxophone back, the one Bush mistook for an ostentatious "Golden Urinal"?

    EugeneInSanDiego

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  6. > the “fake news” “enemy of the people” have gotten so trounced by the terrifying torrent of transparent Trumpic truthlessness that they’ve tossed in the towel

    Dear God, I've unleashed an alliterative abomination! :-O It's all my fault for my casual and careless chronicling of the conjunction of characteristics applied to the crimson-capped conical crania crowd! :-D

    Reminds me of a D&D short story I saw many years ago in Best of the Dragon. The situation is that Dimwit the Dwarf and Ralph the Wizard are looking for their elf colleague Lumbo, who has gone missing. Lumbo's trail leads the duo to a closed door ...

    "That puny person must have passed this portal previously," said Ralph.

    "Yeah, and the writer's using too much alliteration, too," said Dimwit. "Do we open the door?"

    "That, or the story ends here," said Ralph, much to the editor's horror.

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  7. Welcome back, Eugene!

    What's amusing, or would be if any of this were funny, is how Trump's saying Obama's plans were crap and that they'd made better ones before the pandemic, gamed it, and reviewed the results. Oh yeah, then why did they wander around in the dark for nearly three months?

    Also, to Mythigator: in retrospect, indulging in alliteration in a serious piece is something I now officially regret.

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  8. That press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was able to flash Trump's 3-ring binder "Plan" with one arm yesterday should be sufficient evidence for Guinness World Records to declare it the "World's Thinnest Pandemic Response Plan".

    "We gotta have a plan! Quick, grab some of those papers over there waiting for the shredder, punch them, and slap them in this binder!"

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  9. > Also, to Mythigator: in retrospect, indulging in alliteration in a serious piece is something I now officially regret.

    Judicious use of alliteration helps to drive a point home, so it does have a place in serious writing. But yeah, there is a fine, and not always easily discernible, line between judicious use making alliteration into an effective tool and overuse rendering it banal.

    That said, since the regular topic is Trump's foibles, the chronicling and refuting of which is more often than not a rather grim chore, it's OK to pull some novelties out of the wordcraft toolkit and have a little fun once in a while. :-)

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  10. Trump just has to be losing a HUGE bundle of money on his hospitality businesses. Could this possibly have anything to do with his willful refusal to take COVID-19 seriously, and now his rabid calls for reopening the economy regardless of the risks?

    sorry but the alliteration just crept in ;-P

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  11. The true pandemic began in 2016, when our country decided to elect perverse vanity to the highest office. I still remember when "Bedtime for Bonzo" was elected, starting the cycle, and thinking, how could this possibly be happening? And now, it's the norm for elections, with candidates cultivating the detestable as pawns of a colossus media utterly out of any semblance of restraint or control.
    And, I wonder that the pendulum will break the clock that tries to hold it.
    It's just a matter of time, the way things are now going with the entire world contributing in the vanity of the super-billionaires of all nations.
    The seriousness of your article is not lost. Don't worry Sid.

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  12. speaker of gibberish and tomfooleryMay 15, 2020 at 11:45 AM

    A lways B e C areful. D on't E xagerate F oolish G arbage I nceasently. J ust K now, O biviously P artisan, Q uislings R epeatedly S peak T rash V ociferously W ith X tra Y ippy Z eal.

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  13. I just sent this as a letter to the editor at the Herald. Thought I would share it here too. I definitely toned down the rhetoric, which took some real effort ;-)
    ********************************************
    Cloth masks seem to have become yet another marker for our warring tribal identities. Those who wear one are regarded as cowardly, afraid of the whole world, whereas those who refuse are just proudly exercising their “rights”.

    This misses the mark entirely. People who wear masks are doing so to protect everyone else from exposure to THEM. Wearing a cloth mask provides only minimal protection for the wearer, but there is a much reduced chance of passing it on to anyone else if YOU have it. Wearing a mask is a show of public courtesy and respect for our fellow citizens.

    Masks will become unpopular again just as soon as they are no longer necessary. That is unlikely to happen for another year or two. In the meantime, why doesn't everyone please stop worrying about whether the other guy is in the red tribe or the blue tribe, and simply assume that anyone wearing a mask is a member of the American tribe.

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  14. Really excellent, Mr. River. Hope they publish it. And it's yet another thing that ought not to be necessary to say. But here we are.

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  15. I originally included phrases along the line of "inconsiderate booger heads", but I restrained myself.

    FWIW I have become convinced in later life that "Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal" (RA Heinlein). Another one Heinlein liked (but did not originate) goes something like "It's not what we don't know that will kill us, it's what we know for damned certain that just ain't so."

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  16. And that reminds me of a favorite quote by Richard Feynman, regarding, I'm pretty sure, belief in god. "You see, one thing is, I can live with doubt, and uncertainty, and not knowing. I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. "

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  17. Here's the video in which Feynman said that, and a little more:

    https://youtu.be/_MmpUWEW6Is

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  18. Well said, Skyriver.

    I want to add a quote to yours and and Sid's entries. Asimov has been gone close to 30 years, but this one seems timely.

    "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

    —— Isaac Asimov

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  19. And there's the quotes beneath the title of my blog. I've changed them a couple of times over the years.

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  20. Feynman is one of my favorite geniuses. I'm not into deep physics, but I found his popular works to be informative, insightful and delightfully witty.

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  21. OK, I like this Feynman guy. I just finished reading a Wikipedia linked presentation paper he gave to teachers on “What is Science”. Delightful. Addresses DocS's comment directly. In it, a great definition which I hope to remember: “As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” Another one very soon after that, but read his paper to get to it, as it is necessary to understand what he meant with it.
    Wikipedia claims he was an atheist, and that it was because he didn’t like the Talmud. It’s too bad for him if that was the case, since that would be like saying he doesn’t like centipedes because he read about toads. If you read his paper you’ll see he had the correct tools to understand the difference between religion and belief, but he chose to understand religion? Ouch!
    He even wrote of the necessity of understanding words and conversation, etc.
    Here’s the link “tinied”: https://tinyurl.com/jk6h4mj
    Definitely worth reading, and should be part of any STEM program in WA state K-12.

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  22. That certainly was definitely worth reading, KS. I enjoyed every bit of it! The micro-bio at the end was enlightening, too, interpreted by me as, "Now, just what have you accomplished with your short life? It's not over yet, you know."

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  23. What I love most of it is this man, in 1966, explained so much of what my consternation with "science" is, but realize, just as I point out a difference between religion and belief, I also in like comparison point out a difference between science and religion (science "religion", if you will).
    While I understand fully the value of "peer review", I also see the problem with it. Except that people blame religion for flat-earth deniers, there was a time that scientists "believed" that! (not sure if the quote marks convey my thought, though).
    And I've been around like-minded "scientists" too often, where the definition of peer-review to them relates directly to funding.
    The system is a good one, but is only as good as the peers who reviewed things.
    And, still, if the research was flawed, it will not stand the test of time. I know this because of the multitude of research that "passed" peer review, that exists in an abyss of non-relevance. Most research exists there, though modern search routines find it with amazing speed. But then, search routines are tainted! Too! The most popular are the most tainted! (Google, Bing, Facebook, who else?). We had a company right here in Redmond that we could buy stock in decades ago, started with an "I" (I can't remember), and it is no more. What became of their indexes? What research would each find? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_search_engines#Defunct_or_acquired_search_engines
    I would love to be able to write like Feynman, but then, he did it before me in the paper I linked to.
    Science, is not offended in challenges. It's improved!

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  24. Since it seems impossible to keep this discussion on topic, if it ever was, here's Feynman talking about the scientific method. Not sure your take on what he's saying, ks, fits with what he has said.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYPapE-3FRw

    Also, one can infer from this what he has and hasn't said about belief in god or gods. Boils down to "can't prove a negative." And if the premise is fuzzy, so are "proofs."

    Meanwhile, have I mentioned that Trump has decided to base his campaign on lies?

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  25. When you watch that, again, turn on closed captions. It's hilarious at one point, where Feynman said "carefully enough", and the closed caption routine listed "caffeine up". In this is a microcosm of so many things, a (the) problem with the much touted "AI", which I think is the pipe dream of the Bill-ionaires to lead the impressionable.
    Good video, btw!
    I'll mention that in the paper I linked to, that Feynman did not understand the question of religion vs. belief. Preposterous? That a fool like me would challenge a scientist? (so what, Feynman's words demonstrate that he would be disappointed if I didn't!). But then, he's dead, so I can never test that.
    Sid, you need to consider that your columns inspire thought, and that is the interest among those who read you! It's not a failing to "stay on point", it's your success at those seeking out a (the) point! How boring, if all your writings merely resulted in better limericks for the already fully accepted notion that the current occupier is _______________ (fill in the blank, but, I'll choose "E" - all of the above). As an outlet for anger, more than OK!
    As for Feynman, a favorite saying I like to think I made up is, there is no such thing as a creative person anymore, and, when you find that person, treasure them.
    But then, these are things that require thought. And thinking.
    As for Feynman's "can't prove a negative", I'll suggest he couldn't formulate the question. His own question! Just like the agnostic Bill, who flounders like a fool in his saving the world with his Bill-ions. He thinks he's Feynman. He's not.

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  26. Thanks for the Feynman link, Sid!

    As I watched and listened, I was reminded of global warming deniers who, when presented with a video of a simple tabletop experiment that proves the so-called greenhouse effect of CO2, reject it out of hand and usually respond with nonsensical arguments and questions. No hope for them; they're indoctrinated Trump/GOP/Exxon minions.

    At the end of the Feynman video the next Feynman video began to run, and I watched that, too. When the third video began to play I had to tear myself away, wishing that I could just sit an watch every one. Intoxicating. Indoctrinating, too!

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  27. seeker of wisdom and truthMay 16, 2020 at 5:20 PM

    "Hermeneutics" appears to be a factor when quoting thoughts from philosophers and theologians as we search for truth.
    What is "faith"?

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  28. Found this comment at the Washington Post. Seems on point here too

    "As close as I can tell, Trump's strategy is to push the states (and their governors) to the front in this war, then shoot them in the back." - demandside

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  29. (With apologies to JFK)
    "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of mutual self pleasure that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Anthony Wiener/Joe Biden dined alone."

    Seriously Sid, you're getting to be Jim Jones without the Koolaid..

    Frank "you'll take my mask from my cold dead, oh wait.."

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  30. One of the earliest managers I learned from in my working career had on his desk a plaque that read "Please present all possible solutions with your problem."
    I remember that still, somewhat foundational.
    So, Jack, what is your answer to your question? (Sid-permitting, of course)

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  31. I let that one by, Frankie, because it's way less outrageous than the ones I've shit-canned. Just to let the others know what goes on behind the scenes.

    Also, to the anonymous ks: which one is Jack, and what question of his are you referring to?

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  32. I think that one to be seeker of wisdom and truth. A few of us with Jack went back and forth on hermeneutics many years ago. I remember it well, as Gene L. Miller gave me good advice on the exchange. If I'm wrong, I would still be interested in the commenters definition, and maybe more interested in why they brought it up.

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  33. Is "anonymous" ks the enigmatic riddler of yore? Or perhaps the patron of saint Harry?

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  34. > Just to let the others know what goes on behind the scenes.

    I see why his stuff keeps getting the circular file treatment. Have you looked into an IP-based ban?

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  35. Naw, I've been reading his stuff, even communicating directly with him, for years. Not a problem to read then delete without it ever showing up here.

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  36. Is that un-animous? https://www.definitions.net/definition/animous
    Or unanimous? :-) https://www.definitions.net/definition/unanimous
    [look up the actual definitions for a fun surprise, don't trust your own knowledge]

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  37. "Cloth masks seem to have become yet another marker for our warring tribal identities. Those who wear one are regarded as cowardly, afraid of the whole world, whereas those who refuse are just proudly exercising their “rights”."

    Were it not for the danger of contagion, open casket viewing should be mandatory for those who proudly exercised their “rights” to spread a deadly virus to their families and fellow citizens; everybody should get to see what the virus did to them and the agony they deservedly died in.

    But unfortunately, good things like that infrequently happen.

    EugeneInSanDiego

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  38. Also, Eugene, as others have said, they should sign a waiver agreeing to pay all their medical expenses, should they contract the virus; and to pay expenses of anyone they infect (I haven't heard that last idea expressed.)

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  39. > Were it not for the danger of contagion, open casket viewing should be mandatory for those who proudly exercised their “rights” to spread a deadly virus

    Actually, there probably wouldn't be that much danger from an open-casket funeral of someone who had COVID-19:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4cbCU-0Hm0c

    The video is 15 minutes long. The portion that addresses the "are COVID corpses dangerous" question goes from 3:09 to about 6:13. The gist is that for the average person (that is, someone who is NOT doing things like moving or prepping dead bodies), live bodies pose by far a greater COVID risk than dead ones.

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  40. This is what Drumpf has to work with. The Confederacy. Which by the way is noticing upticks of the virus in the top 5 of all 50 states. Meanwhile, states that have taken early action and continued proper guidelines are seeing decreases.

    This is what Drumpf has to work with...He's doing exactly what someone who wants to divide a nation and consolidate power. Keeping people in line by any means necessary is key.

    The first 7:30 will illustrate the kind of people who are Drumpf supporters, and Drumpf non supporters. The first 7:30 is Drumpf's idea of "Great Again"

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WU608Z2678

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  41. I wish to be unanimously identified as not having animus toward any commenter who is permitted to participate in this blog.

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  42. "Golly. Because some of its denizens have tested positive for Covid-19, White House people are finding it “scary to go to work.” It shouldn’t have taken a virus to tell them that. Maybe “scary” is the necessary first step on the way to “embarrassing.”"

    I have sat here for a while and thought about it...I can not think of a single thing politicians are not hypocritical about. If it's their or their donors life and death issues especially, politicians come together quickly and pass all kinds of laws. Like no guns on the floor of congress for example. Healthcare. Salary. Vacation. Other benefits and perks. How come we peasants can't have the same thing? The argument is always this "The politicians should have what we have." (pay, vacations etc. etc. etc.)

    Just recently though, the argument has shifted ever so slightly. Now it's "We should have the same deal (etc. etc. etc.) as our politicians." Why can't it be that way instead? Why must we "work for less"?

    Make them answer that question over and over. I bet you can't get a proper answer. If these people are special? Make them declare it so. Make them explain why they are special exceptions. Let them run from the mic. Let them hide from the camera. But never stop asking the question. Maybe put them behind a cash register at a grocery store until they answer the question?

    That will never happen. "The free press" as they label themselves, are anything but "free". Anything but "independant". They operate in the same ecosystem we peasants operate in. They are in constant "job preservation" mode. Not "Beastmode". Revenue keeps the doors open. The business model is dependent on relationships with system holders. You add it up and tell me what you get.


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  43. Low and behold!

    Watch the first 2:30 minutes to get the idea.

    Take note who the National Guard has been deployed to help. The very people I said that the alt right deeply wish would die to save them money.

    http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow/watch/trump-cuts-national-guard-deployment-a-day-short-of-benefits-accrual-83675205870?cid=eml_mra_20200520

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