Andy Divine depends on the ignorance of his readers, Episode MCCVII: On Concentration Camps & more pressing Evils. Old Socialist comments

I’ll bypass the first two installments of the Mr. Divine’s encyclical of June 21, 2019:

The Next Step for Gay Pride

The Trump Code

I’ll just read this next segment of moral shaming with which Andy confronts his readers:

The Totalitarian Nightmare the World Is Ignoring

I don’t want a new Cold War with China. But it is, in my view, an evil regime, and we should have no illusions about that. Twitter has been having a great time this past week parsing whether detention camps for illegal immigrants in the United States should be called “concentration camps.” In China, this debate might seem somewhat beside the point. Over a million Muslims who have crossed no border and committed no crimes are being taken from their homes en masse and subjected to brainwashing in vast camps and compounds from which there is no escape. Watch this excellent new BBC piece on these “thought transformation camps” — and feel the fear everywhere. The BBC was given access to a show camp, which is creepy enough. We can only imagine what goes on in the hidden ones.

Somehow Andy has become an expert on ‘concentration camps’: now Andy isn’t very adroit about his attack on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and her very welcome plain speaking on the concentration camps used by ICE to hold the Mestizo Hordes ,that are invading the land of Anglo-Protestant virtue, as articulated by that American political hysteric Samuel P. Huntington: in his Who Are We? The Challenges to America’s National Identity. The separation of children/infants from their parents , not to speak of caging these human beings, is an action used by Trump and his minions: ‘Give me your tired,your poor ,your huddled masses…’! An utter betrayal of ‘American Values’ ?

Andy likes to engage in the time honored tradition of One-up-man-ship pioneered by Stephen Potter. Virtue signalling is the current term of abuse, but Potter’s old stand-by fully describes Andy’s dull-witted practice . His argument:  You’ve averted your eyes from the ‘Evil Chinese Regime‘  for too long -its Human Rights abuses! In sum, the Concentration Camps used by ICE are by comparison to the Chinese Regime’s forms of oppression/re-education are evil, while the human rights abuses practiced by ICE are subject to a kind of pseudo- apologetic! In sum,  the crimes of ICE are minimized in comparison to the Chinese.


On the left, we worry about Islamophobia, or we expend our energies protesting the oppression of Palestinians by Israel’s occupation. On the right, we talk of religious freedom too often as if it only applies to Christians or Jews.

Yet, here is a man and writer whose moral/political enthusiasms for ‘The Bell Curve’ and the War in Iraq are facts that Andy can’t overcome. At least with his readers whose memories reach back to Andy’s reprehensible political past.  Andy achieves his ends by means of hectoring moralizing, in service to Andy’s pathological egotism, wedded to his political nihilism.

Old Socialist


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Niall Ferguson & Edward Luce on Michael Bloomberg. Old Socialist comments

Compare Mr. Luce’s ‘political wisdom’, or should it be properly named a collection of reportorial, rhetorical cliches, a product of lazy thinking, that could have been written in haste? to that of Niall Ferguson’s essay of Sunday 23, 2020:

Mr. Ferguson is an admiring  ‘friend ‘ of Bloomberg and offers some insight into his political calculation, that are in fact Ferguson’s own:

So long as Sanders does not collect a majority of delegates by the time of the convention (in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in mid-July), Bloomberg can hope that the Democratic Party elite will hand it to him, not only to stop Sanders but also to channel all that lovely money to the races for the Senate and House held on the same day as the presidential election.

The second reason is simple: that caustic wit of Bloomberg’s — so effective on Wall Street — does not work well in the political arena. Mike, seriously: no one outside New York ever says: “What am I, chicken liver?”

In the end, politics — even in the United States — is about more than money. It’s about mass communication. It’s about charisma. And, to judge by Bloomberg’s miserable performance as a punchbag in last week’s debate (watched, unfortunately for him, by a record 19.7 million viewers), those things cannot be bought.

Mr. Ferguson’s essay is then a prescriptive rhetorical, political meander, with a coda that tells his ‘friend’ the news, that money can’t buy what he wants to purchase.

Mr.Luce’s strategy, in his essay, differs from the panic of the Neo-Liberals and Neo-Conservatives: his essay is not Chris Matthews’ unhinged intervention comparing Sanders win in Nevada to the ‘Fall Of France’ on MSNBC, nor the political anguish of  rabid Neo-Conservative Jennifer Rubin. Mr. Luce places the ‘blame’ on Bloomberg as if this rhetorical sleight of hand, call it a political diversion, in service to the Neo-Liberal/New Democratic candidates subject to the Sanders Juggernaut.

Mr. Luce then engages in the sure fire resort of Corporate Media pundits, with the utterly dependable ‘horse race’ of American Politics:

There are two other striking similarities with Mr Trump. The first is that mainstream Republicans kept reassuring themselves that Mr Trump had a ceiling of support — he never seemed to get much above 30 per cent. The same applies to Mr Sanders. They underestimated the advantage of Mr Trump’s solid floor, which other candidates lacked. The same absence of core support applies to Mr Sanders’ rivals. Pete Buttigieg came equal first in Iowa and second place in New Hampshire. Polls show he would be lucky to make fourth place next weekend in South Carolina. The same applies to his Super Tuesday prospects. Joe Biden came fourth and fifth respectively in the first two contests. Even if he wins South Carolina, he is probably too deeply wounded to regain his mojo. Elizabeth Warren had a strong debate in Las Vegas on Wednesday. But she directed most of her ire at Mr Bloomberg. Her real rival is Mr Sanders. While the former New York mayor remains in the race, the rest of the field cannot afford to ignore him.

Cliche follows cliche, in the above paragraph, followed in the next paragraph with the obligatory appearance of Putin: The New Cold War is an article of faith of both the Neo-Liberal and Neo-Conservative coteries , a reference point for the loyalists to political conformity. Not to ignore Mr. Luce’s  final paragraph, suffused with what can only be called ‘magical thinking’ , that demonstrates a kind of exhaustion of rational thought in favor of what?

Old Socialist



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment on Trump’s ‘practicality’ vs. Democratic ‘Idealism’ and other pressing questions. Political Observer comments

Mr. Ganesh goes where others might fear to tread! The re-negotiated NAFTA agreement is 1800 pages long. What can the reader reasonably expect from any Chinese Trade Agreement?
Instead of presenting empirical evidence, Mr. Ganesh opines on the ‘political metaphysics’ of this vexing, even befuddling issue, he ‘compares’ the – but first he, in his own maladroit way, engages in the ‘Yellow Peril’ mythology, once the calling card of Neo-Con Niall Ferguson:

From defence secretary Mark Esper there was certainty about China’s threat to the west and Europe’s naivety in the face of it. From Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives: certainty about China’s threat to the west, and Europe’s naivety in the face of it.

Is China a threat because this totalitarian regime is/are better  practitioners of capitalism than Western Democracies? The most prominent myth of Capitalists was that the Free Market could only exist within a Democratic frame? How can Hayek’s revered ‘pricing system’ exist in a former ‘command economy’ ,that now practices Capitalism?

In rhetorical terms Mr. Ganesh presents Trump’s ‘practical terms’ and the free floating ‘idealism’.

For all his militant jingoism, President Donald Trump views China in practical terms

It is idealism that has the far messier potential.

That ‘idealism’ then finds its root in Rep. Pelosi:

As for Huawei’s role in Europe, to let it build 5G networks would be “to choose autocracy over democracy,” says Ms Pelosi, with the Manichean crudeness that nothing — not even the fiasco of Iraq, which it helped to beget — can kill off in Washington. Light and dark, good and bad, free and unfree: this stuff still trips off the tongue. 

Mr. Ganesh continues his intervention with the added gloss of strategic walk-ons by David Ricardo, Pyle, of Graham Greene’s novel The Quiet American, George Kennan, and borrows from and or extemporizes on Samuel P. Huntington in ‘The clash of values’ , Cheshire Cat smiles.

The prime political actor in his last paragraph is the utterly amorphous entity  ‘a diplomatic firmament’ dominated by idealistic Democrats obsessed by an ‘idea’ rather than an ‘idealism’ .The question remains isn’t diplomacy, in all its various iterations, based on pragmatism rather than an ‘idea’ or ‘idealism’? Or in this context should ‘pragmatism’ be considered a kind of ‘idealism’ ?

A new president would need staff and these would come from a diplomatic firmament that hews to much of what the Democrats are saying. The same belief in America as an “idea”. The same wariness of China as the opposite of it. And the same affront that nations from Britain to the Philippines, without a market of $21tn to fall back on, do not see things with such piercing clarity.

Political Observer

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Edward Luce’s ‘Bill of Attainder’ against Bernie Sanders. Old Socialist comments

Joe McGinniss wrote a best selling book on the Richard Nixon campaign, published in 1969. ‘The Selling of the President, 1968’.  In the ‘Age of Bloomberg’ an enterprising journalist should write a book about the 2020 Election, and its Plutocratic candidate Bloomberg, with the title ‘The Purchasing of the American Presidency’. Certainly no one at The Financial Times would author such an attack, on the hallowed institution of the vote! Except under a pseudonym?

Mr. Luce, being born in 1968 is probably not familiar with the McGinniss book? The unmasking of the Nixon public relations campaign was a valuable act of journalistic practice. Mr. Luce is safely moored in the ‘exceptional political present’ where history is defined by what happened in 2016, and perhaps no further, except when it is part of making an ideological point.

Mr. Luce’s opening paragraph is chock-a-block with the- should I have used the more pertinent term ‘political melodrama’?

Its onset has been visible for some time; such is the nature of slow-motion wrecks. Unfortunately we cannot press the fast-forward button. Wednesday night’s debate in Las Vegas was the Democratic party’s nastiest so far — with Michael Bloomberg its clear loser. At some point, nevertheless, the Democratic race is likely to boil down to a fight between him and Bernie Sanders. There are few ways that a zero-sum contest between a self-funded old billionaire and a stubborn old socialist could end in a friendly armistice. There are many in which the collision could play out. Almost none, barring the least likely — a sweeping victory by one over the other — entails a happy ending for Democrats.

First to entree stage -left is Sanders, burdened by Mr. Luce’s invidious comparison to Trump: just recall the Clinton coterie’s Bernie Bros. of 2016, its the Neo-Liberal Party Line. Mr. Luce is one of this myth’s ardent rhetorical allies. Add to the crimes of the Bernie Bros. they were disloyal to the institution of the Party! (Stalinism?)

The similarities between Mr Sanders’s campaign and Donald Trump’s in 2016 are apt. Each has militant supporters who are happy to indulge in social media harassment and character assassination. Barely half of Mr Sanders’ supporters would vote for Mr Bloomberg if he became the nominee, according to a recent poll. That share would almost certainly rise as the spectre of a Trump second term loomed. But Mr Trump would only need to capture a slice of the “Bernie Bro” constituency — the politically incorrect element of the US senator’s base — to tip the election his way. That is what happened in 2016. An estimated tenth of Mr Sanders’ supporters voted against Hillary Clinton.

The political melodrama reaches its second act with Sanders still the dramatis personae engaging in a ‘hostile takeover’ of the Democratic Party. Note the use of a metaphor used to describe the Corporate Raider, making concrete in the mind of the reader, that Sanders is illegitimate! Rather than a reform movement against the sclerotic, corrupt Clinton coterie: its representatives in Luce’s melodrama are Biden and Warren.

Mr Sanders is trying to do a Trump-like hostile takeover of the Democratic party. He enjoys similar tactical advantages. Like Mr Trump, Mr Sanders has benefited from a packed field of conventional candidates who have spent most of their firepower attacking each other. Wednesday’s debate was the most combustible example of that so far. Like Mr Trump at the same point in 2016, Mr Sanders is spurned by his party’s establishment. Nowadays that is taken as a virtue. A single Iowa legislator endorsed the senator from Vermont before the state’s caucus this month against double-digit endorsements for most of the others, including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. Mr Sanders nevertheless won the most votes.

Not content with his unrealized melodrama, which is just an extended screed of Anti-Sanders cliches.

Finally, like the US president, Mr Sanders believes he is heading a movement, not a campaign. People who lead causes do not drop out. They fight to the bitter end.

All of which presents a looming dilemma for Democrats. Mr Sanders wants a revolution. Mr Bloomberg wants a restoration. The contours of one increasingly likely collision came at the end of Wednesday’s debate. Every candidate, barring Mr Sanders, said they would accept the rules of a brokered presidential convention. Mr Sanders alone insisted that the candidate with the most votes should be the nominee — even if they had less than half the delegates.

In another democracy, Mr Sanders would belong to a different party to the rest. Mr Bloomberg would too. The first calls himself a socialist. The second is essentially what used to be called a Rockefeller Republican.

In practice, Mr Sanders and the other candidates see New York’s former mayor as a plutocrat who bought the silence of sexually harassed former employees as well as his place on the Democratic stage. Mr Sanders, meanwhile, is seen as an ageing coronary patient whose extravagant promises would deliver Mr Trump a second term.

Mr. Luce’s melodrama disappoints because it descends into a predictable Anti-Sanders screed, garnished with the notion that plutocrat Bloomberg represents a ‘Political Restoration’. These last two sentences close his polemic …

The writer, Jorge Luis Borges, once likened the UK-Argentina war over the Falkland Islands to two bald men fighting over a comb. It would also serve as an apt forecast of a Bloomberg-Sanders showdown.

Old Socialist



In reply to One thought
I watched the 1964 Republican Convention  on television, and vividly recall Rockefeller being booed when he made a speech to the convention.
Here is a link to a Politico’s ‘History Dept.’ that describes the all its melodramatic particulars, for readers in the 21st Century:

Headline; Nelson Rockefeller’s Last Stand The 1964 Republican National Convention and the fall of the party’s moderates.

This  marked the beginning of the generational purge of ‘Liberals’ from the Republican Party.
But the real monument to Rockefeller’s ‘Liberalism’ was his handling of Attica;

Headline: Rockefeller on the Attica Raid, From Boastful to Subdued 

‘Hours after 1,000 New York State troopers, sheriff’s deputies and correction officers stormed Attica prison to crush a four-day inmate revolt in 1971, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller telephoned President Richard M. Nixon to claim victory unambiguously.

At the time, it appeared that State Police sharpshooters who had fired on the prison yard had killed mostly inmates, not some of the prison guards who had been held hostage inside. And because the inmates were black and the guards white, the governor and the president seemed to suggest, the American public would undoubtedly endorse the state’s assault on Attica.
“They did a fabulous job,” Rockefeller told Nixon. “It really was a beautiful operation.” In a follow-up conversation the next day, as grimmer details began to emerge about the assault, in which 29 inmates and 10 hostages were killed, a more subdued Rockefeller acknowledged that his initial boast about the sharpshooters’ precision was premature.






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Stephen Budiansky and the toxic myth of the virtue of Oliver Wendell Holmes. American Writer comments

I saw a copy of this latest biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes by Stephen Budiansky, today, at my local library. I searched, out of curiosity, for the Buck vs. Bell case. This being a valid test of an actual biography of Holmes, warts and all, or just more of the same apologetics, for this misogynist and misanthrope, and one of the decisions that establishes without fail this American jurist’s reputation.

Here, from G. Edward White’s Oliver Wendell Holmes : Law and The Inner Self:

From pages 407 and 408 some telling information that has escaped Mr. Budiansky’s attention ?  That I recalled this portion of Prof. White’s biography can be attributed to the fact that Holmes was a very particular kind of American Monster!

The second feature of Buck v. Bell is that it concerned a legislative “reform” about which Holmes did not have his customary skepticism. On the contrary, he was an enthusiast for population control devices, particularly those that promised to reduce “incompetence” in the population. He had no reason to doubt many of the assumptions of the eugenic reformers: that mental disabilities were inherited; that mental disability was linked to crime; that the very persons who were candidates for sterilization were the least likely to control their sexual impulses. He had written Pollock in 1920 that “I should be glad . . . if it could be arranged that death should precede life by provisions for a selected race,” because “every society rests on the death of men,”(130) and that “[y]our remark that the men fit for military service on the whole are the better type . . . is precisely the reflection that makes me believe that it would be possible to breed a race.”(131)

He had written Laski in 1923 that “I do not regard the great multiplication of the species as a benefit.”(132) and in 1925 that “I don’t believe in millennia and still less in the possibility of attaining one . . . while propagation is free and we do all we can to keep the products, however bad, alive.”(133) He wrote Lewis Einstein in 1927, after the Buck decision, that “establishing the constitutionality of a law permitting the sterilization of imbeciles . . . gave me pleasure.”(134) And he wrote Laski that when he wrote the opinion in the Buck case he “felt that I was getting near to the first principle of real reform.”(135)

It therefore proves too much to associate Holmes’ opinion in Buck v. Bell with a skeptical tolerance for “social legislation” of all sorts, which does not capture his attitude toward Virginia’s sterilization statute. The notoriety of Buck v. Bell has increasingly cut into Holmes’ image as a civil libertarian; it played an important part in the first major revision of that image by critics in the 1960s.(136) The question remains, however, how that image first surfaced, given Holmes’ repeated skepticism about the efficacy of “progressive” legislation, indifference toward civil rights claims, disinclination to grant aliens any rights against the state, and ultrapositivist theories of sovereignty.

Also see Law without Values : The Life, Work, And Legacy Of Justice Holmes by Albert W. Alschuler :  Chapter Five , Holmes’s Opinions pages 65, 66 and 67 that reiterates the historical evidence that White presents.

The Cult of Oliver Wendell Holmes is politically and civically toxic!  Mr. Budiansky is another Holmes acolyte.

American Writer






Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment as Political Fabulist. Political Observer comments

I still think that Mr. Ganesh’s novel is still a work in progress! But to earn a living he writes in the most hybrid of forms: the feuilleton blended with political commentary, I think that these two rhetorical practices are immiscible, that might even be thought of as a misbegotten marriage of opposites?
Consider these two ideas/constructs presented by Mr. Ganesh in his latest essay :

‘tribal Democrats (the strategist James Carville)’

Not ‘tribal’ but in fact Neo-Liberal, who warns in his Financial Times polemic on the dangers of Sanders, as the recrudescence of McGovern. I was a voter in 1972 and cast my vote for McGovern! Mr. Ganesh wisely leaves this alone.

‘and Republican apostates (the writer David Frum)’

Mr. Frum’s rise is the Horatio Alger mythology turned upside-down: Canadian Posh Boy makes good in America, by becoming a propagandist for Bush The Younger. He worked from January 2001 to February 2002, and in his very short White House career authored the ‘axis of evil’ propaganda. He is and remains a Neo-Conservative, who has re-invented himself, in the political present, as the ‘Wise Republican Elder’, in this guise he is the agreeable house-pet of Corporate Media.

As I find Mr. Ganesh’s political chatter causes something akin to ennui, I will skip to the last two paragraphs:

Just because Mr Sanders can win does not mean that a party so monomaniacal about unseating Mr Trump should take the chance. Former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, Tuesday’s runner-up, is more saleable to the moderates who turned Democratic in 2018. Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar has similar views and a pugilist’s edge, so essential against this president. It is just that those of us who swore off political certitude after 2016 are amazed how much of it survives in the form of the Sanders bears. If he is the nominee, it would not be a Democratic forfeiture of the White House.

Mr. Ganesh here speculates, in an unsurprisingly negative way, about the ‘thought’ or ‘conjecture’ of the Democratic Party, as if it were a singular sentient being, who wills the defeat of Trump, while not factoring in the costs incurred, by the possibly of winning in 2020, with Sanders as its nominee. This, almost dazzlingly highfalutin preamble to Buttigieg and Klobuchar, as the more ‘rational choice’ for the sentient being that is the Democratic Party. That is if I have managed to decipher Mr. Ganesh’s nearly serpentine argument?

Not content with the above, Mr. Ganesh , with the aid of the personages of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, constructs a fable of Sanders and Trump as the harbingers of a yet to be completed secularising imperative, in the foreseeable political present. Yet Ganesh expresses an ersatz puzzlement over his gangling rhetorical creature. Mr. Ganesh shift of both subject and register leaves this reader in a state of bewilderment!

What it would be is a cultural moment. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams expressed their doubts in a grander register, but Mr Sanders and Mr Trump would be among the least religious contestants for the presidency. They tend not to even go in for the muddled spirituality of the confessional memoir and the damp-eyed stump speech. With a combined age of 151, these men are a curiously future-facing pair, heralds of a nation that is, albeit in fits and starts, secularising. Theirs would make for an unusual showdown, and one whose outcome is not as foregone as lately billed.

Political Observer


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@FT Courtney Weaver & Lauren Fedor on the Sanders’ victory in New Hampshire. Political Observer comments

The headline below and its ‘reporting’:

Headline: Sanders secures narrow victory in New Hampshire primary

Added to this headline and sub-headline:

Bernie Sanders’ early strength worries Democratic leaders

Prospect of nomination of most anti-establishment presidential candidate since 1972

The McGovern comparison shows that James Pinketon’s political obsession travels well over the decades. (It happens that Mr. Pinkerton graduated high school in 1975, which makes him approximately fifteen years old in 1972.) Add to this Courtney Weaver and Lauren Fedor have made good use of the New Democratic ‘technocrats’  who are advising Sen. Sanders opponents. Not to forget, and two anonymous personages:

Zac Petkanas, Roger Lau, ‘One Democratic donor’ and by ‘one Democratic strategist’

Add to this toxic mix, the hysterical comments of the two Corporate Media hirelings,  Chuck Todd and Chris Matthews, and the political grotesques Mika & Joe and their coterie.  Let me ‘revise’ Zbigniew Brzezinski’s comment on Joe, who in another political context called Joe’s knowledge ‘stunningly superficial’.

Courtney Weaver and Lauren Fedor aquit themselves with more political/ideological aplomb, while carefully following the Party Line on Left-Wing Social Democrat Sanders: the Neo-Liberal’s will not go quietly!

Political Observer




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La République En Marche and Macron, in the pages of The Financial Times. Almost Marx comments

Headline:Problems for Macron as defecting MPs believe the party is over

Sub-headline: French president’s La République en Marche is losing ground ahead of elections

Unreported in the pages of this newspaper, The General Strike since its inception in December 2019, has had a devastating effect on M. 37%’s putative ‘landslide victory’ as declared with numbing regularity.
Why is Macron M. 37% ? In the final round in the election 36.5% of voters rendered their ballots ‘spoiled’ or otherwise uncountable.

M. Mallet’s reporting touches in the briefest  possible way on the gilets jaunes/gilets noirs and the General Strike that has been blacked out by the Financial Times editors, except when it is usable to provide political context. Call it by its name Stalinist erasure, practiced in the political present. With the caveat that it will  fail, in a world as diverse as our own, in terms of  propaganda masquerading as ‘news’, while other sources of  information are readily available for those who choose to seek it out!

More than 15 months of demonstrations by the gilets jaunes — the movement began with motorists complaining about a green tax on fuel, but later developed into broader anti-government protests — have been followed since December by disruptive public sector strikes and marches against Mr Macron’s pension reform. Trade unions have announced another big strike day for Paris on Monday.

What is utterly unavoidable as the almost primary reason for Macron’s political erosion? Besides the open rebellion of not just the Lower Orders, but of Fireman, Teaches, Lawyers, Doctors even Students.

What is primary in M. Mallet’s argument? He constructs a Political Melodrama, about the disenchantment of the politicians that are the members of En Marche. A large cast of characters, that takes its power from its profusion of ‘walk-ons’ , aided by brief speaking parts.

Some LREM MPs, who joined the movement in the wave of enthusiasm for a new style of politics that accompanied Mr Macron’s rise, are uncomfortable with party discipline on unpopular laws. As hostility to the president has grown, they are also facing harsh realities of day-to-day political life — including personal abuse in the streets and attacks by militants and vandals on MPs’ constituency offices.

Both M. Mallet, and the En Marche office holders, fail to realize that their time is waning: M. Mallet exhausts the reader’s patience, the En Marche office holders now face the contempt of the French people, who have seen enough of Police Violence committed against their fellow citizens, under the orders of a ruthless enarque: he acts as if he were a Bourbon!  Or the Police attacking striking Fireman. The videos of these crimes are available on twitter, Kant’s words echo: dare to know!

Almost Marx




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