civics, current events, democracy, government, politics

The Conservative Violence Fetish

Slate had a chillingly accurate headline in May, 2017 “The Republicans Are the Party of Thugs and Nazis”.  In that article, the author points out that although there are some individuals who are the exception, the Republican Party itself has welcomed, with open arms, racists and violent white-supremacists into their ranks (1).

As such, it should have come as no surprise that the party of war and the party of violence nominated a violent amoral sexual assaulter to be their guy in the White House. Trump’s long history of nepotism, violence, ignorance, and corruption are well known and well documented and I won’t dwell on it here.

This trend has been intensifying since the 1960’s. Former President George H. W. Bush fought against civil rights as a Republican candidate for the Texas Senate in 1964 (2). Bush played a key role in the development of today’s racist and violence oriented Republican Party. Under Bush, the Party worked to integrate the John Birch Society (JBS) into this “modern” Republican Party. The JBS was anti Civil Rights (3). In a flyer titled “What’s wrong with civil rights” published in 1965:

“For the civil rights movement in the United States, with all of its growing agitation and riots and bitterness, and insidious steps towards the appearance of a civil war, has not been infiltrated by the Communists, as you now frequently hear. It has been deliberately and almost wholly created by the Communists patiently building up to this present stage for more than forty years.” (4)

The focus of Republican hatred and violence has shifted from civil rights, to Antifa, but the message itself remains the same. Just days ago, the above sentiments were echoed (somewhat less eloquently) by one of the countries most notorious Alt-Right trolls, Tim Gionet:

“Tomorrow we go to Portland to defend free speech & say no to communist Antifa” (5).

But I digress.

In 1963, President Lyndon Johnson, a Democrat, became president. Johnson represents the peak of modern liberalism (6) and his reign corresponds to an entrenchment of ideologies that has left the Republicans bereft of a Liberal wing since about 1970 (7).

1969 saw the rise of another Republican to the Oval Office, Richard Nixon. Nixon was many things, not the least of which is the most famous crook in American history. He is also famous for creating the “Nixon Doctrine” which was to have the US engage in proxy wars across the world; while at the same time selling arms and munitions to Latin America and the Middle East. I don’t think this is the first time a political party overtly engaged in war profiteering, but it is definitely an egregious one.

Fast forward to Bush Jr., starting two unnecessary wars, one in Afghanistan, and one in Iraq. These wars led to Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney getting rich through US Government “no-bid” contracts with his company, Halliburton. (8)

I have broadly outlined the above simply to give some background to the modern GOP. My contention is that since the 1960’s the Republican Party has become more and more radicalized. They have created a group whose unifying focus is hatred coupled with the wanton abuse of Capitalism to acquire extreme wealth and has neither the interest nor the ability to govern.

The ever increasing trend towards radicalism and racism was made clear in 1989 when David Duke (R-LA) became a Member of the House of Representatives in Louisiana. Duke, is an American white nationalist, anti-Semite conspiracy theorist, holocaust denier, convicted felon, and former Imperial Wizard of the KKK. Of interest, immediately prior to winning his House seat in 1989 as a Republican, he was unsuccessful at multiple political campaigns as a Democrat. He found a home with the GOP. (9)

Over the last few months, Republicans from across the board have increased their violence and threats of violence. I cite as proof six examples that have played out in the last year by members of the GOP:

  • 10 Sep 2016 Gov. Matt Bevin (R-KY) said in a speech at the Values Voter Summit “a Hillary Clinton presidency may necessitate bloodshed” and “I want us to be able to fight ideologically, mentally, spiritually, economically, so that we don’t have to do it physically. But that may, in fact, be the case.” (10)
  • 21 May 2017 Rep. Karl Oliver (R-MS) called for Louisiana State leadership “to be lynched”  (11)
  • 24 May 2017 Greg Gianforte (R-MT) – violent assault on a reporter who asked questions about the Republican Party’s stance on healthcare. (12)
  • 25 May 2017 Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) – When asked about the incident between Gianforte and the reporter, Hunter said he didn’t think it was appropriate behavior “unless the reporter deserved it”. (13)
  • 29 May 2017 Matt Rinaldi (R-TX) On the floor of the Texas House, debate turned to argument then nearly erupted into a violent confrontation. According to Rep. Justin Rodriguez, Rinaldi and Rep. Poncho Nevarez nearly came to blows; by Rodriguez’s account, Rinaldi said he would “put a bullet in” Nevarez’s head. (14)
  • 5 June 2017 Clay Higgins (R-LA)  I’ll just leave this one verbatim. “The free world…all of Christendom…is at war with Islamic horror. Not one penny of American treasure should be granted to any nation who harbors these heathen animals. Not a single radicalized Islamic suspect should be granted any measure of quarter. Their intended entry to the American homeland should be summarily denied. Every conceivable measure should be engaged to hunt them down. Hunt them, identity them, and kill them. Kill them all. For the sake of all that is good and righteous. Kill them all.” (15)

My final thought. This article was really focused on elected GOP officials. With little effort, you can find the disturbing facts about right wing violence in general being on the rise, and perpetrated by violent Christian extremists. That will be an article for another day.

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS(AOM)

 

 

1.http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/05/26/the_national_republican_party_tolerates_violence_and_explicit_racism.html

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_H._W._Bush
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Birch_Society
  3. Ibid
  4. http://www.wweek.com/news/city/2017/06/03/after-slayings-alt-right-belligerents-have-doubled-down-on-a-trip-to-portland-setting-the-stage-for-a-violent-standoff/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyndon_B._Johnson
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republican_Party_(United_States)
  7. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/28/us/a-closer-look-at-cheney-and-halliburton.html?_r=0
  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Duke
  9. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/features/republicans-inciting-right-wing-violence-after-election-day-w439871
  10. https://mississippitoday.org/2017/05/21/rep-karl-oliver-those-removing-confederate-monuments-should-be-lynched/
  11. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/24/us/politics/greg-gianforte-montana-republican-body-slams-reporter.html
  12. http://www.politicususa.com/2017/05/25/house-republican-violence-reporter-deserves-gop-unhinged.html

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/06/republican-congressman-clay-higgins-suspected-islamic-radicals-kill-them-all

  1. http://thehill.com/homenews/news/335544-texas-state-reps-scuffle-amid-sanctuary-city-protest
  2. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/06/republican-congressman-clay-higgins-suspected-islamic-radicals-kill-them-all
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Basket of Deplorables, or Team Trump’s Cabinet of Shame

With all of the static and nonsense filling the news, it’s hard to know what the hell to think about the myriad of Trump/Russia investigations. With this piece I hope to present the information that is available as directly and simply as possible.

Donald Trump is under investigation for possible ties and collusion with Russia.

There. That’s seems pretty clear.

Of course, many members of his Cabinet and his Campaign/Transition team are under investigation as well. The nature of these investigations is not always clear. Partially because the nature of some of these agencies is to be secretive, but also because there are SO MANY AGENCIES CONDUCTING INVESTIGATIONS! Additionally the investigations themselves run the gamut from criminal to counter intelligence.

It is a constant Hulk-like anger inducing event to watch Republicans rail about leakers and seemingly not care AT ALL about potential crimes and treason committed by their leader.

The accusations may lead no-where. And that is a reality my Liberal friends need to be aware of. However, for the Right to choose to ignore the entire Intelligence Community is utterly insane, unpatriotic, and makes me wonder about where their loyalties lie.

Here is a quick summary of the investigations. (These include investigations being conducted by the FBI, the Senate Intelligence Committee, House Intelligence Committee, a Special Counsel led by Former FBI Director Robert Mueller, the Department of Justice, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House Oversight Committee):

The following are excerpted from Former Director of the FBI James Comey’s testimony to the House Intelligence Committee:

  1. The FBI is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. (1)
  2. The FBI is investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government. (2)
  3. The FBI is investigating whether or not there was any coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. (3)
  4. The FBI investigation will include an assessment of whether or not any crimes were committed. (4)
  5. A counter intelligence investigation was started against the Trump campaign in July 2016. (5)
  6. The FBI is coordinating with other Intelligence Collection agencies from around the world in this investigation. (6)
  7. The FBI is investigating Russian citizens and officials to determine who was involved and what they did. (7)

Other investigations:

  1. The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election. (8)
  2. The House Intelligence Committee is investigating the Russian interference, and specifically Trump is a part of this investigation. (9)
  3. Department of Justice is investigating Paul Manafort (10)
  4. A special counsel led by Robert Mueller has been appointed to investigate possible links or coordination between Russia and associates of the Trump campaign but also “any matters that arose or may arise directly” from the probe. It would also extend to any allegations of perjury, witness intimidation or obstruction of justice uncovered during the course of the investigation. (11)
  5. There are also investigations being conducted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the House Oversight Committee. (12)

Additionally:

Trump associates had repeated contact with Russian Intelligence. (13)

Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime adviser to Mr. Trump, has acknowledged communicating with Guccifer 2.0, an online persona believed to be a front for Russian intelligence officials involved in disseminating hacked Democratic emails. (14)

Carter Page, a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump, visited Moscow for a speaking engagement in July 2016 (15) Page was also the subject of a secret warrant last year issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, based on suspicions he might have been acting as an agent of the Russian government.

Michael T. Flynn, a Trump campaign adviser who went on to be his national security adviser, was paid more than $65,000 by companies linked to Russia in 2015, including an American branch of a cybersecurity firm believed to have connections to Russia’s intelligence services, according to congressional investigators. Mr. Flynn was forced to resign after misrepresenting his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States. (16) Flynn is also under investigation by the Pentagon’s inspector general and other congressional committees. (17) Flynn has also been the recipient of a grand jury subpoena.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager has done business in Russia and both law enforcement and intelligence officials have intercepted communications between him and the Russians during the lead up to the election. Manafort has also been the recipient of a grand jury subpoena. (18)

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, is under FBI investigation for holding meetings in December 2016 with Kislyak and a banker from Moscow. He is being probed due to the extent and nature of his interactions with the Russians. (19)

Other fun facts:

  • FBI Director Comey claims that Trump asked him to drop the FBI’s investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn (20)
  • Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, has called for Trump’s impeachment for obstruction of justice into the Russian investigation. (21)
  • The House Intelligence Committee is also overseeing the Justice Department to make sure that no one there “impedes” the investigation (22)
  • John Brennan, former Director of the CIA, told that FBI that “the intelligence community was picking up tidbits on Trump associates making contacts with Russians.” (23)
  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Jared Kushner both life on their security clearance applications, omitting meetings with Russians. (24) Sessions was forced to recuse himself from the investigation, but he ignored that and stayed involved anyway.
  • In classified sessions in August and September, intelligence officials briefed congressional leaders on the possibility of financial ties between Russians and people connected to Trump (25).

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM)

  1. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/446068/donald-trump-fbi-russia-investigation-counterintelligence-not-criminal
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/25/trump-and-russia-investigation-what-to-know.html
  9. http://www.politicususa.com/2017/05/21/adam-schiff-confirms-trump-congressional-investigation-collusion-russia.html
  10. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/mueller-trump-russia-investigation-include-manafort-case-article-1.3215902
  11. Ibis
  12. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40115424
  13. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/20/us/politics/fbi-investigation-trump-russia-comey.html?_r=0
  14. Ibid
  15. Ibid
  16. Ibid
  17. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/25/trump-and-russia-investigation-what-to-know.html
  18. Ibid
  19. Ibid
  20. Ibid
  21. Ibid
  22. http://www.politicususa.com/2017/05/21/adam-schiff-confirms-trump-congressional-investigation-collusion-russia.html
  23. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/may/29/john-brennan-obama-loyalist-and-cia-director-drove/
  24. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-40115424
  25. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/01/us/politics/fbi-russia-election-donald-trump.html?_r=0
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The Normalization of Hatred and Violence

I have seen many right wing articles of late lamenting the flack their mouthpieces and hero’s are getting when they try to spew their hate-filled ideologies at colleges across the country. Milo, Ann Coulter, O’Reiley, Alex Jones etc. to name a few.

I am going to be expressing my counter opinion in this essay. My statement upfront – if you are espousing racism, violence, and hatred you deserve every bit of ridicule and discomfort society can throw your way. And if you are calling for violence and genocide I believe that you should be taken at your word and the people you are threatening are within their rights to take action to defend themselves. Your right to free expression ends when it threatens my life or liberty. As a reminder, the First Amendment says that the government can’t pass a law that infringes on your free speech, not that you can spew whatever bullshit you want free of consequence (1). The article I’m arguing against (detailed below) is suggesting that the alt-right, Nazi wannabes have to be heard or else the Holocaust will happen again. Which of course is a ludicrous example of Orewellian double speek.

Today in The Federalist, I read an article by Stella Morabito railing against groupthink and propaganda (presumably from the Left) and arguing for free speech and lamenting how we have forgotten history. Part of her argument is that history is repeating itself with 1. the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, 2. challenges to Israel’s right to exist, 3. jihadist terror attacks in the name of Islam.

Before continuing, I want to briefly look at these dog whistles and put them into context.

First, “the slaughter of Christians in the Middle East”. It is true that people of all faiths and backgrounds are experiencing terrible violence across the Middle East. But what she is really saying is that Muslims are evil and they are slaughtering Christians. So, let’s briefly dive into this. Violence is not new. Violence in the Middle East is not new. As she is keen to point out in her article, one way to stop the ascension of mass violence is to remember history. I could cite many examples of provocation and meddling in the Middle East that precipitated today’s terrible geopolitical reality. For instance, and in no particular order, the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire, the creation of the State of Israel, the drawing of artificial borders by the Sykes-Picot Agreement by Great Britain and France, US involvement in Lebanon in the 1970’s-80’s, supporting Saddam Hussein against Iran in the 1980’s (and supplying him with chemical weapons which he used in Halabja), or more recently the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. But I would like to specifically mention the Crusades. From 1096-1718 (3) Europeans led wars of aggression into the Middle East killing as many 1.7 million people (4). Mostly innocent Muslims.

 

“Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.” – President Obama 5 Feb 2015 (5)

 

Furthermore, I would argue that the genocide and mass exodus of more than 12 million civilians from Syria is at least partially the fault of the United States. The US is not the origin of conflict in Syria, but we have certainly been involved in making it worse (6). Our actions have caused instability across the Middle East for decades. I would like to point out that prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, that that country had a nominally secular and stable government, and prior to the first Iraq War in 1991, they were pro-West as well. Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that Saddam Hussein was a good leader – I mention these facts because Stella Morabito is trying to bend reality by creating this false narrative of evil Muslims slaughtering Christians. Everyone has blood on their hands as far as I’m concerned. But here is a reality – Muslims are the real victims of the endless wars in the Middle East. Here are some data points –

 

Between 2005-2015 900,000 Christians “martyred” worldwide (7)

From 2015-2016 1,207 Christians killed for their faith worldwide  (8)

 

Contrast that with –

 

2003-2011 500,000 Iraq’s killed as a result of the US invasion (9)

2001-2015 220,000 Afghanis and 90,000 Pakistanis killed as a result of US war (10)

2001-2015 4 million killed in US Wars in the Middle East (11)

 

I would also like to point out the obvious – the US has initiated combat and war in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Libya in recent years, and thus far, Islam has not invaded America.

Sick of y’all pseudo intellectuals trying to rewrite history. For example, contrary to what the Right Wing Media would have you believe “Muslims mostly say that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam are rarely or never justified, including 92% in Indonesia and 91% in Iraq.” (12)

 

“Recent surveys show that most people in several countries with significant Muslim populations have an unfavorable view of ISIS, including virtually all respondents in Lebanon and 94% in Jordan. Relatively small shares say they see ISIS favorably.” – Pew Research (13)

 

Her second point “challenges to Israel’s right to exist”. I have to confess to not understanding how this point is relevant to her argument. However, any cursory look into the history of Israel or even just an awareness of the last 60 years of Middle East history should allow most folks to understand the controversy. For right or wrong, prior to WWII there was no country called Israel in the modern era. The smartest people in the world have looked at this and have failed to come up with any solution, so I’m going to leave this one alone. I would however like to mention that the Oslo Accords confirmed the Palestinian people’s opinion that Israel has the right to exist.

Her third point “jihadist terror attacks in the name of Islam” is easily counter-able by making the correlation between Christianity and “alt-right terror attacks in the name of Christianity.” The reality is that 73% of all violent extremist attacks in the US were perpetrated by radical right wing/Christian groups. Not Muslims. (14). In any case, most Muslims denounce religious violence and “jihad”. In fact, many Islamic scholars describe jihad as a personal journey of introspection and growth achieved by overcoming personal obstacles in life. In Arabic, jihad means “effort or struggle”. Nothing to do with killing Christians or whatever other false narrative the media reports it as. In the same way that most mainstream Christians don’t approve of the violence perpetrated by the Westboro Baptist Church, most Muslims don’t approve of the violence perpetrated in the name of Islam.

In her article, she also cites the importance of free speech and freedom of expression as being keys to preventing genocide. All of which I agree with and support completely. But then she goes on to roll out the tired alt-right trope of how these institutions have been “dangerously compromised” and filled with “media bias”.

She criticizes college students for not being able to reason or think critically and how this threatens social stability, and accuses universities of intolerance to different view points.

These are some of her specific points-

  1. mob mobilization to promote an anti-speech movement (under the guise of anti-hate)
  2. mob mobilization to shut down local police forces (under the guise of Black Lives Matter)
  3. a call for re-education to enforce conformity of thought (under the guise of anti-fascism)
  4. a rising tide of “my way or die” jihadism that sees itself engaged in total war against perceived enemies (under the guise of Islam)
  5. Cult behavior in a society that is ignorant of how cults operate
  6. the cultivation of ignorance in K-12 and higher education that cuts off information about history and civics (under the guise of multi-culturalism)
  7. the erasure of Western Civilization from education
  8. forced self criticism at colleges (under the guise of white privilege)

 

My rebuttal, by the numbers:

 

  1. I would argue that the Holocaust was able to happen, in part, because the message was one that the German people were already open to – to whit, Jews are responsible for your economic ills, and that people didn’t stand up to fight against it. (Replace “Jews” with “Mexicans” and all the sudden it sounds eerily familiar). 2. Black Lives Matter is not a movement to “shut down police forces”. It’s a movement that is trying to stop unarmed black kids from being killed by police. 3. I don’t know where this is coming from, but it seems to be a pro-fascism statement. Which, as an aside, I have seen a lot of confusion coming from the Right about the differences between the Left and Right on the political spectrum. In fact, I have seen Right wing folks accuse people on the left of being both Communists and Fascists. I don’t know if this is being done deliberately or is the result of really terrible historical understanding. 4. This is really false. What it stems from is a fear that Christians have of being out-proselytized by Islam, which is true. Islam is the fastest growing religion on the planet, and is expected to be the largest religion by the end of the century.  With 1.6 Billion Muslims on the planet, if they were engaged in “total war” I think the landscape would look somewhat different. For a person who is arguing against the proliferation of propaganda she should look to her own statements first. But honestly, we know that’s not her objective. In truth, like Goebbels said and Trump does every day, accuse them of doing what you are doing. 5. Given the recent statistics of 96% of Trump supporters who would still vote for Trump (15), in spite of evidence suggesting he is the least popular president in history (16) and the verifiable lack of accomplishments (62% of his “accomplishments” are simply the signing of Executive Orders) (17), I would say that he and his followers are the very definition of a cult. And it’s a cult built around racism, ignorance, anti-Semitism, misogyny, and bigotry. I would happily expand on this, but that will be an essay for another day. 7. I would like to see some facts. I don’t agree that Western Civilization is being erased from history. I do see a lot of bullshit being taught as history. For instance – if you learned that Columbus discovered America, that’s bullshit. If you learned that the US is good and anything that it does is righteous, that’s bullshit too. If you believe, like Bill O’Reilly does, that slaves were “well fed and had decent lodgings” (18). Or like Trump, you believe that Islam is “unfalteringly hostile” to America (19) or you don’t believe that Jews have anything to do with the Holocaust, than, yeah, that’s bullshit. Erroneous beliefs by Conservative politicians could be the subject of a paper all on its own. Number 8 might be the strangest one on her list. What exactly is “forced self criticism”? And, equally as concerning, are you disavowing “white privilege”? Because if you don’t see how white people have all of the power in our society, and that they benefit from a system that is built to promote and cater to them, educating you is beyond the scope of this rebuttal.

 

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM), NCCAOM Dipl. Acupuncture

 

  1. https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/first_amendment
  2. http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/27/world/meast/syria-civil-war-fast-facts/
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades
  4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/religion/was-obama-right-about-the-crusades-and-islamic-extremism-analysis/2015/02/06/3670628a-ae46-11e4-8876-460b1144cbc1_story.html?utm_term=.d9492adfdcb8
  5. Ibid.
  6. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/05/syria-civil-war-explained-160505084119966.html
  7. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/04/14/christian-persecution-how-many-are-being-killed-where-are-being-killed.html
  8. Ibid
  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_Iraq_War
  10. http://www.mintpressnews.com/do-the-math-global-war-on-terror-has-killed-4-million-muslims-or-more/208225/
  11. http://www.globalresearch.ca/four-million-muslims-killed-in-us-nato-wars-should-we-call-it-genocide/5470424
  12. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/02/27/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/
  13. Ibid
  14. https://theintellectualist.co/cato-right-wing-terrorists-have-been-behind-73-of-all-attacks-resulting-in-death-since-911/
  15. http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/president-trump-100-days-honeymoon-regrets-poll/story?id=46943338
  16. https://news.vice.com/story/trump-is-the-least-popular-new-president-in-modern-times-according-to-two-new-polls
  17. http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/24/politics/donald-trump-white-house-100-day-accomplishments/
  18. https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/07/bill-oreilly-and-the-long-tradition-of-slavery-apology/493223/
  19. http://time.com/4658366/donald-trump-terrorism-racism/
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The President is a Crook and a Traitor – And the Proof is Under Investigation

The most powerful person in the world is an amoral grifter. He has a host of other negative traits as well, but this essay will be focusing on the legal battles he is facing.

Trump has a long history of swindling people. It is in many ways litigation is his defining personality trait. Let us not forget that he began his presidency be paying tens of millions of dollars out to people he hustled with Trump University.

It is not unusual for a sitting President to be sued. President Obama faced dozens of lawsuits (1) – Berg vs. Obama alleged President Obama was born in Kenya and that his birth certificate was a forgery, Essek vs. Obama sought to prevent the inauguration of President Obama alleging that he was not a natural born citizen, Kerchner vs. Obama alleged that he was not eligible to be president, Barnett vs. Obama sought a declaratory judgment that Obama is ineligible for office and an injunction to void his actions and appointments as President – and on and on.

President Bush faced Saleh vs. Bush – for crimes of aggression against the Iraqi people and for violating the Nuremberg Principles (2).  1984 saw the Phelps vs. Reagan lawsuit where the former head of the Westboro Baptist Church Fred Phelps sued Ronald Reagan for his appointment of a U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, arguing it breached the divide between church and state (3). Of course, most folks know about the 1997 Jones vs. Clinton lawsuit (4).

And there are many other examples, mostly frivolous. It is also common for lawsuits to be filed by “federal prisoners, political activists or other citizens seeking redress from the government by suing a list of high-ranking officials” (5). This is a category of lawsuits filed as a hail-Mary, in a last ditch attempt to get a sentence commuted or shortened, or by delusional plaintiffs.

So, it’s not unusual for a president to be sued. Although with regards to President Obama a large portion of lawsuits filed against him were straight up motivated by racism.

However, the lawsuits filed against Trump are highly unusual.

Trump is or has been involved in over 4500 lawsuits. Most of them are from before he became president. I am actually going to ignore those, and instead focus on a group of lawsuits that are currently pending that list him as defendant – the big ones being violation of the emoluments clause, inciting violence, and collaborating with the Russians during the 2016 election. My read on this is that there are currently 62 lawsuits naming Trump as the defendant, and just from reading the news everyday I believe that this number will continue to grow.

 

  Current Legal Battles

 

  1. Violations of the Constitution’s emoluments clause Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed Jan 23rd, 2017. {The Hill, 18 Apr 2017}
  2. Justice Department and FBI are being sued over President Trump’s tweeted allegation of wiretapping ordered by then-President Barack Obama by a group called American Oversight on Apr 17th, 2017 {NPR, 19 Apr 2017}
  3. American Oversight is also suing the administration to turn over records related to Russian interference in the presidential campaign, integrity of a senior government officials, Reince Priebus’ communications with the FBI regarding Russian contacts with Trump associates and the campaign, and to obtain Jeff Sessions’ list of foreign contacts. { NPR, 19 Apr 2017}
  4. Kashiya Nwanguma, Molly Shah and Henry Brousseau have filed a lawsuit Apr 14th, 2017 that alleges Trump incited rally-goers to violence when they allegedly assaulted protesters during the 2016 campaign. {CNN 17 Apr 2017}
  5. From CNN, here is a list of current pending lawsuits against Trump, by category:

Campaign – 14

Real Estate – 3

Personal Injury – 13

Media/Defamation -2

Golf Club – 3

Employment – 6

Contract Dispute – 3

Casino -1

Difficult to Categorize – 17

This is a great resource for info regarding Trumps lawsuits: https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/trump-lawsuits/

Also note, these legal battles don’t take into account the fact that Trump is under investigation by the FBI for collaborating with the Russians to sway the 2016 election (6).  And not just Trump. FBI Director James Comey stated that the FBI is investigating whether his entire campaign collaborated with the Russians, and includes the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign (7).

The FBI investigation is a pretty big deal. At this time, it’s not clear who is involved and to what extent, nor is it clear what the consequences will be. What is clear is that Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election and should be sitting in the Oval Office now.
Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM), NCCAOM Dipl. Acupuncture

 

 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama_presidential_eligibility_litigation
  2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2014/07/11/republicans-v-obama-and-other-lawsuits-against-presidents/?utm_term=.62e7fd672f6f
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid.
  5. https://www.usatoday.com/pages/interactives/trump-lawsuits/

6.https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/21/fbi_head_trump_campaign_under_investigation

  1. Ibid.

 

 

 

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A Novel Approach to Politics – My Quest For a New Option

Like many Americans I find that the current two-party system does not meet my needs as a citizen. I want to engage in the political process, but it is hard to get motivated to fight for things that I believe should be obvious. So often, I end up voting against a candidate instead of for one who more-or-less lines up with my ideas about how we should be governed.

One challenge to having another party is that the two-party system has generally met the needs of most US voters. Another challenge to the success of an additional party is that “…the two-party system consolidates power and resources in a way that outsiders of all stripes have been unable to break through.” (1)

Politics and economics are intimately intertwined. Much of what you vote for in American politics boils down to how we should pay for services. There is a fundamental belief in Capitalism as the base for our policies, with the Left and Right disagreeing mostly on how taxes should be levied and spent. I know there are other factors – for some voters the only issue is abortion. (This issue gets an inordinate amount of press coverage seeing as how “over the past several decades, rarely have more than 2% ever volunteered it as a top issue.” (2).

For the last couple of decades there has been growing interest in finding a viable third party to challenge the established Republican/Democrat dichotomy in American politics. I too have felt inadequately served by the two-party system. Since the 2016 election, I have been researching and analyzing in earnest and although I lean Democrat, I can’t help but shake the notion that by-and-large, the Democratic Party doesn’t represent my beliefs. Given the success of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 campaign, it would seem that I am not alone in this belief.

I am a secular-humanist, liberal globalist. What does that mean? Secular humanism is a way of life that adopts a nonreligious worldview. It “incorporates the Enlightenment principle of individualism, which celebrates emancipating the individual from traditional controls by family, church, and state, increasingly empowering each of us to set the terms of his or her own life.” (3). Codified in the Declaration of Independence, it is simply stated as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”.  I would expand on this idea slightly to say that I believe that the government exists to help us all to achieve these unalienable rights.

Additionally, secular humanism is a “naturalistic philosophy” that has a cosmic outlook rooted in science (4). This naturalistic philosophy suggests that there is no need for a supernatural explanation for events, that the natural world follows laws that explain all the phenomena in the universe. I would also argue that this worldview does not negate a personal view of spirituality or the existence of a higher power. Only that we ought not try to replace science with fantasy. There is some wonder in the unknown.

Furthermore, secular humanism has a consequential ethical system – “Secular humanists seek to develop and improve their ethical principles by examining the results they yield in the lives of real men and women.” (5).

This leads directly into the next part of my worldview – I am a liberal. Liberalism is a worldview founded on ideas of liberty and equality. Liberalism encompasses a vast array of beliefs, but generally they support freedom of speech, freedom of the press, civil rights, democratic societies, secular governments, gender equality, and international cooperation. (6).

My driving belief is that all of us are one people, and that we should look at an injustice to one as an injustice to us all. I believe that we have the resources and the technology to make the planet

Lastly, I am a globalist. A term that is new to me. I became aware of it, ironically, from watching the alt-crazies on YouTube. There are a number of different views on what the definition of globalism is, but I will argue for this one – a ideology that “… tends to advocate for such policies as increases in immigration, free trade, lowering tariffs, interventionism and global governance. It is typically viewed as opposite of nationalism.” (7).

I believe that the only way for humans to advance is to start thinking and acting like we all are in this together and we all share the same fate if it doesn’t work out. Walls and borders have never worked – from Jericho to the Berlin Wall and from Hadrian’s Wall to the Great Wall of China. There is no way to keep people and ideas from intermingling and the attempt to stop it creates strife.

I have never understood why we’d rather spend 100 billion dollars to build a wall instead of taking that money and improving the lives of the people that are trying to escape violence and tyranny. Remove the inequality, poverty, and violence that are the root of the problem.

I don’t profess to have the answers to the complex interactions that make the world what it is. I would argue that it is time for a change and that it is time to grow beyond a tribal system of governance. We can’t continue to have an “us vs. then” mentality. The world is too small and the means of catastrophic destruction are at our fingertips. There should also be a sense of urgency. Not only do we face the destruction of the environment through man-made climate change, we also have the most powerful nightmare-inducing weapons ever created in the hands of incompetent and unstable people.

I would like to end on a positive note, but that would not be prudent. The clock is ticking and we, the concerned citizens of planet earth, need to get involved and restore sanity.

There is no “Planet B”.

 

 

(Note – I will be following this essay up with one that outlines specific stances that a party like this might have).

 

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS (AOM), NCCAOM Dipl. Acupuncture

 

 

  1. https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2016-01-27/the-bleak-history-of-third-party-presidential-bids
  2. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bowmanmarsico/2016/01/21/abortion-and-the-2016-elections-how-much-will-it-matter/#12ef89d1381e
  3. https://www.secularhumanism.org/index.php/3260
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Globalism
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North Korea is Not the Innocent Victim of Western Aggression

On June 25th, 1950 North Korea invaded South Korea which began 67 years of unresolved conflict. The United States and South Korea have never declared the war to be over and an uneasy truce called the Korea Armistice has been simmering since July 1953. Korea was, by all accounts, a terrible conflict with more than 50,000 US troops killed, and 8000 missing. There were atrocities and mass executions committed by both North Korea and South Korea, as well as hundreds of thousands of civilians killed by conflict and starvation. (Author pictured below in South Korea, 1994.)

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I have been reading some social media accounts that are arguing that North Korea is an innocent and non-aggressive victim of Western Imperialism. This is false. They are certainly not the maligned victim here, and in fact they have decades of violence perpetrated against South Korea and the United States, and well as being a force for world wide instability, primarily due to their nuclear weapons program.

This however is not an essay about the history of the Korean conflict, but rather my attempt to show the historical facts about North Korean aggression.

As of January 2011, North Korea has violated the armistice 221 times, including 26 military attacks. To be fair, there are some claims against them that are unverified, and some that are unverifiable.  It is however, clear that since the signing of the Armistice, North Korea has been aggressive and dangerous, initiating unprovoked attacks against South Korea, China, and the United States, and actively attempting to infiltrate the Republic of Korea.  Here is a sampling-

16 Feb 1958 North Korean agents hijack a South Korean airliner to Pyongyang en route from Pusan to Seoul

27 Apr 1965 Two North Korean MiG-17s attack a US EC-121 aircraft in the Sea of Japan

19 Jan 1967 ROKS Dangpo sunk by North Korea artillery

21 Jan 1968 North Koreans commandos attacked the South Korean Blue House – a 31 man detachment from the KPA secretly crossed the DMZ to assassinate the South Korean President nearly succeeding. Additionally, 26 South Koreans were killed and 66 were wounded, the majority of whom were soldiers and police officers. Three American soldiers were also killed and three were wounded

23 Jan 1968 USS Pueblo boarded and captured along with its crew by North Korean forces in the Sea of Japan. The entire crew of 83 is captured, with one sailor killed during the initial attack. The ship is still in possession of North Korea.

30 Oct  1968 – 2 Nov 1968 120 to 130 North Korean commandos land on the northeast shore of South Korea to establish a base in order wage guerrilla war against South Korea. Around 20 South Korean civilians, police and soldiers were killed.

Mar 1969 Six North Korean commandos kill a South Korean police officer near Jumnjin. Seven American soldiers are killed in a North Korean attack along the DMZ

15 Apr 1969  An EC-121, US reconnaissance plane is shot down 90 miles east of the North Korean coast, leaving 31 dead

Nov 1969 Four US soldiers are killed by North Koreans in the Demilitarized Zone. (A view looking North into DPRK along the DMZ. Picture taken by Daniel Cashman)

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11 Dec 1969 North Korean agent Cho Ch’ang-hǔi hijacked a South Korean airliner

Jun 1970 The North Korean navy seizes a broadcast vessel from the South, 20 crew are captured

Feb 1974 Two South Korean fishing vessels are sunk and 30 crew detained by the North

1974 The first North Korean infiltration tunnel into ROK is discovered. Three following tunnels were found in 1975, 1978, 1990. The joint ROK-U.S. investigation team trip a North Korean booby-trap, killing one American and wounding 6 others

Mar 1975 The second North Korean infiltration tunnel is discovered

Jun 1976: An incursion south of the DMZ in Gangwon-do leaves three dead from the North and six from the South

18 Aug 1976: The Axe murder incident— an attempt to trim a tree in the Demilitarized Zone near Panmunjom— ends with two US soldiers dead and injuries to another four U.S. soldiers and five South Korean soldiers. Below is a picture of the Bridge of No Return, site of the incident. (Picture by Daniel Cashman)

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Oct 1978 The third North Korean infiltration tunnel is discovered

Oct 1979 Three North Korean agents attempting to infiltrate the eastern sector of the DMZ are intercepted, killing one of the agents

May 1980 North Koreans engage OP Ouillette on the DMZ in a firefight. One North Korean wounded.

May 1982 Two North Korean infiltrators are spotted on the east coast, with one being killed.

1987 bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 – not confirmed to have been North Korea, but suspected.

(Picture below is Panmunjom. Taken by Daniel Cashman)

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Mar 1990 The fourth North Korean infiltration tunnel is discovered, in what may be a total of seventeen tunnels in all.

May 1992 Three Northern soldiers in South Korean uniforms are killed at Gangwon-do; three South Korean soldiers are wounded.

17 Dec 1994 A US Army OH-58 helicopter is shot down. Of the crew of two, one dies and the other is held for 13 days. I was in South Korea at this time, and spent a day or two in a foxhole preparing to fend off North Korea attackers.

May 1995 North Korean forces fire on a South Korean fishing boat, killing three

Oct 1995 Two armed North Koreans are discovered at the Imjin River; one is killed

Apr 1996 Several hundred armed North Korean troops enter the Demilitarized Zone at the Joint Security Area and elsewhere on three occasions, in violation of the Korean armistice agreement.

May 1996 Seven Northern soldiers cross the Demilitarized Zone, but withdraw after warning shots are fired

May & June 1996 North Korean vessels twice cross the Northern Limit Line and have a several-hour standoff with the South Korean navy.

Apr 1997 Five North Korean soldiers cross the Demilitarized Zone in Cheolwon, Gangwon-do, and fire on South Korean positions

Jun 1997 Three North Korean vessels cross the Northern Limit Line and attack South Korean vessels two miles south of the line. On land, fourteen North Korean soldiers cross 70 m south of the center of the DMZ, leading to a 23-minute exchange of fire

Jul 1998 A dead North Korean frogman was found with paraphernalia on a beach south of the DMZ

Jun 1999 The First Battle of Yeonpyeong, a series of clashes between North and South Korean vessels, takes place in the Yellow Sea near the Northern Limit Line

2001 On twelve separate occasions, North Korean vessels cross the Northern Limit Line and then withdraw

29 Jun 2002 The second battle of Yeonpyeong leads to the deaths of six South Korean sailors and the sinking of a South Korean vessel. The number of North Koreans killed is unknown.

16 Nov 2002 South Korean forces fire warning shots on a Northern boat crossing the Northern Limit Line. The boat withdraws. The similar incident is repeated on 20 Nov 2002

19 Feb 2003 A North Korean fighter plane crosses seven miles south of the Northern Limit Line, and returns north after being intercepted by six South Korean planes.

26 May 2006 Two North Korean soldiers enter the DMZ and cross into South Korea. They return after South Korean soldiers fire warning shots

7 Oct 2006 South Korean soldiers fire warning shots after five North Korean soldiers cross briefly onto their side of the border

27 Jan 2010 North Korea fires artillery shells into the water near Baengnyeong Island and South Korean vessels return fire.  Three days later, North Korea continued to fire artillery towards the area

26 Mar 2010 the 1,500-ton ROKS Cheonan with a crew of 104, sank off Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea. Seoul said there was an explosion at the stern, and was investigating whether a torpedo attack was the cause. Out of 104 sailors, 46 died and 58 were rescued. South Korean President convened an emergency meeting of security officials and ordered the military to focus on rescuing the sailors.  On 20 May 2010, a team of international researchers published results claiming that the sinking had been caused by a North Korean torpedo

29 Oct 2010 Two shots are fired from North Korea toward a South Korean post near Hwacheon and South Korean troops fire three shots in return.

23 Nov 2010 North Korea fired artillery at South Korea’s Greater Yeonpyeong island in the Yellow Sea and South Korea returned fire. Two South Korean marines and two South Korean civilians were killed, six were seriously wounded, and ten were treated for minor injuries. About seventy South Korean houses were destroyed.

2011 it was revealed that North Korea abducted four high-ranking South Korean military officers in 1999

26 Feb 2014 South Korean defense officials claim that despite warnings a North Korean warship has repeatedly crossed into South Korean waters overnight

24 Mar 2014 a crashed North Korean drone was found near Paju, the on-board cameras contained pictures of the Blue House and military installations near the DMZ.

20 Aug 2015 North Korea fired a shell on the city of Yeoncheon

3 Jan 2016 South Korean soldiers fired warning shots at a suspected North Korean drone near the DMZ.

I also want to point out that they are classified as a rogue nation because of their hostility, instability, and pursuit of nuclear weapons. I don’t profess to know what the answer is, but I felt compelled to write something after seeing the falsehoods being described on the internet.

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS(AOM), NCCAOM Dipl. Acupuncture

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Secret Wars – Who Are We Bombing Today?

The current administration has become more secretive with informing both Members of Congress and the American people of troop deployments and military operations around the world than under President Obama. According to Ned Price, the National Security Council spokesman under President Obama, “The move deprives the public of information it has a right to know about the wars in which the US is engaging. The position of the Obama administration was that the American people had a right to know if servicemen and women were in harm’s way” (1)

Moreover, this new veil of secrecy has led to “…a staggering increase this month in civilian casualties linked to US-led coalition airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria” (2) that most of us are unaware of.

We are currently engaged in secret wars across the globe and we are being denied access to both the cost in terms of lives and money, and to the results. This is also complicated by Trumps exaltations to the military to ‘do more, do more, do it faster’ (3). These decisions seem to be setting the United States directly in line for conflict.

Trump has the support of many rights wing hawks. They desire an interventionist policy that calls for regime change (what they refer to as “getting rid of strongmen”) (4), and the establishment of pro-West and pro-Capitalism leaders that maximizes Wall Street profits. Never mind the abject failure of this policy since the 1950’s. In fact, the United States although much less imperialistic than many European countries has a history of this that dates back to the 19th Century. (1887 Samoan Civil War, 1893 Hawai’i 1898 Cuba and Puerto Rico during the Spanish American War, 1899 Philippine-American War etc.) (5)

In the modern era, it is widely believed that the US has intervened in Syria ‘49, Iran ‘53, and Guatemala in ’54. Anyway, you can find all this in a history book easy enough. My point is simply to create some historical context to understand how we got to where we are today.

Many on the Right are angry at President Obama because he tried to change the course of American foreign policy away from this failed history of regime change. (6). You may recall that in 2003 we invaded Iraq for….I’m gonna say, under the false pretext that they were threatening the US with nuclear annihilation. Speaking from personal experience, I can tell you that they did not have any WMDs, and when that finally made its way into the public eye, the mission in Iraq changed to “regime change”. As of today, April 12, 2017 we are still in Iraq. According to Trump just a few days ago “…our soldiers are fighting like never before” in Iraq (7) – I challenge anyone to describe exactly what they are fighting for or, in fact, to articulate a foreign policy of any kind on Iraq or the Middle East. It’s difficult to get an accurate count on the current deployment levels, but many different sources suggest an increase in operational tempo across the board.

My goal with writing this piece was to highlight the military deployments of US troops across the world, as best as I can. We have about 300,000 (or more) troops deployed outside of the United States, mostly peacefully. We also have thousands of troops actively perpetrating combat, many of them are concentrated in the Middle East. Most Special Operations activities as well as CIA operations will be classified and difficult to confirm. But here is what we know-

 

Somalia

Trump has expanded military operation in Somalia, and has declared parts of southern Somalia to be an active combat zone. (8)

 

Iraq

Although the official combat mission in Iraq was officially ended by President Obama in 2010, there are still an estimated 5000 US troops deployed there. (9)

 

Afghanistan

This is another unbelievable conflict started by the last Republican president in response to, … I’m gonna say, untapped mineral reserves and oil pipeline access. Of course the official reason was that we were getting the people that caused 9/11 (never mind that the attackers came from Saudi Arabai and the UAE, not Afghanistan). But I digress. Currently 8400 US troops deployed there (10). Incidentally, more than 2,200 US troops have died there, the most recent one last Saturday. As with Iraq, I would love to see a justification for our involvement there. Are we fighting ISIS? The Taliban? Are we supporting the government or fighting against the government? Who is the government there?

 

Yemen

Let’s not forget Trumps first attempt at making war with the failed raid into Yemen that left a SEAL and dozens of civilians dead. Although we are supporting the Saudi’s with munitions and air support, it’s not clear the extent to which we are there. (11) The White House is debating escalation in Yemen (12) which will put us into a proxy war with Iran, as they support the Houthi rebels we are already engaged with.

 

South Korea

Not exactly a war, not exactly peace. If it didn’t look like we were going to be involved in conflict directly on the Korean Peninsula I wouldn’t even have mentioned this one. But there are 24000 troops deployed here. And Trump’s just sent the US Third Fleet there as well. With all the saber rattling going on at present, it seems germane.

 

Syria

With the latest clamping down on troop deployment information, it is difficult to know the precise number of US troops in Syria. The Washington Post reports that there are 500 Special Forces, 250 Rangers, and 200 Marines (with artillery). That same article reports that the 24th Marine Expeditionary Force with about 2,200 Marines are headed that way and the 82nd Airborne are on the way to Kuwait with about 2500 soldiers (14). In spite of them telling us there will be no boots on the ground, this sure looks like thousands of boots on the ground.

 

Additionally we have troops deployed to El Salvador (387) and Honduras (384), but these are likely drug interdiction missions (15).

 

Daniel Cashman, EAMP, MS(AOM), NCCAOM Dipl. Acupuncture

 

 

 

  1. http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-trump-deployment-20170330-story.html
  2. https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2017/03/30/trump-secret-plan-defeat-isis-dragging-into-another-iraq-war/gUp6oA9z1rFssCDMtq0CWJ/story.html
  3. Ibid.
  4. http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/02/21/donald-trump-will-design-a-new-middle-east/
  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_involvement_in_regime_change

6.http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2017/04/04/obama_syria_policies_scuttled_regime_change_white_house_says__133520.html

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/28/politics/trump-iraq-troops-comments/
  2. http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/04/12/al-shabab-vows-doubled-response-to-us-move-in-somalia.html
  3. http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/28/politics/trump-iraq-troops-comments/
  4. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2017/04/11/afghanistan-ambassador-united-states-troops-2020/100330210/
  5. http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/02/02/512490365/yemen-aftermath-trumps-first-military-raid-continues-to-raise-questions
  6. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-us-yemen-war-20170326-story.html
  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments
  8. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/03/15/u-s-military-probably-sending-as-many-as-1000-more-ground-troops-into-syria-ahead-of-raqqa-offensive-officials-say/
  9. 13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments
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