Tag Archives: Bradley Manning

Giving this here Tweety thing a try!

I never wanted to be a grumpy old man, especially at only age 45, but, after having resisted* for a long time now, yesterday I sent my very first “Tweet” out to the Universe, probably only to be, as Hedwig put it, “internationally ignored.”

My first Tweet yesterday was this:

I’d MUCH rather that my tax dollars pay for Chelsea Manning’s sex change than for another bogus war in the Middle East!

Today, this:

Wingnuts have savaged Chelsea Manning, who killed no one, but find a way to forgive Robert Bales, who murdered 16 Afghan civilians. Sick!

The first Tweet was easy, but the second was more difficult, because I had a little more to say, and so I had to condense it into Twitter’s 140-character maximum, for which — it is true — there is no forgiveness. (I am tempted to change my Twitter username to Procrustes, but I’m sure that it’s already taken…)

Anyway, I frequently leave comments on news items and other postings on the Internet, and some of them are pretty short, so I should be able to do the Twitter thing.

Whether or not I’ll have any following is another matter, but since I’ve been blogging since 2002, I haven’t lost too much sleep over how much of a readership I do or do not have, so it probably won’t be any different with Twitter.

Oh: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, in case you haven’t heard, slaughtered 16 Afghan civilians inside of their homes in cold blood in March 2012. Today he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

I’ve seen wingnuts offer all kinds of defenses for him in the comments sections of news stories.

As I Tweeted, it’s sick: Chelsea Manning, who has not killed anyone or even demonstrably caused the death of anyone, is shown no mercy even by many (if not even most) of those who call themselves liberals, no doubt in very large part because of Manning’s gender issues, yet if you’re a “macho,” presumably heterosexual and gender-conforming white guy, especially a soldier or a cop, in the eyes of public opinion, anyway, you can get away with murder — with mass murder, even.

White male over-privilege is, in my estimation, staggering.

The only “defense”that I can offer for Bales is that it’s grossly inequitable that he’ll have to spend the rest of his life in prison for his having committed mass murder while the much, much worse mass murderers — George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, yes, Barack Obama, et. al., et. al. — not only won’t spend a minute in a jail cell, but most of them will enjoy cushy retirement benefits at our expense.

Anyway, if you truly can’t get enough of me here, I’m at Twitter at @robertdcrook.

*My main point of resistance to Twitter has been my concern that in a society that already is dumbed down enough, discussing important topics in 140 characters or fewer is going to make the American collective intelligence even worse.

However, Twitter hasn’t yet overtaken all other forms of communication, and to me seems more to supplement than to supplant public discourse.

And we all love a good zinger, something that, hopefully, I’ll get better at composing…

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On Chelsea Manning

"I am Chelsea Manning. I am female."

The former Bradley Manning (right) is shown at left in a photo (for some reason released by the U.S. Army) in makeup and a wig. Manning says that she now is a woman whose name is Chelsea. That’s perfectly fine with me; it’s no skin off my ass, although it’s difficult for me, admittedly, to get the pronouns straight, because I’m used to Manning being discussed as a male…

I haven’t written much on Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, and maybe that’s because like the former Bradley apparently was waiting until after his trial and sentencing were over before he announced to the world that he is now a woman named Chelsea, I was waiting until after his trial and sentencing to commit a post entirely to her.

Manning — whom I will (do my best to) refer to now as a woman, since that is her wish — is a bit of an enigma. In Manning we see two hot topics, that of whistle-blowing and that of transgenderism. It’s probably unfortunate that because of the Manning case both topics are going to be conflated in the minds of the mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers, but, I suppose, that’s the way that it goes.

First and foremost to me, the 25-year-old Manning doesn’t deserve to sit in prison for 35 years, as she was recently sentenced to do.

Clearly, we have two different systems of “justice,” one for the little guys and little gals, like whistle-blowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, and one for the plutocratic elite, like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. (Ironically, perhaps, Glenn Greenwald’s last book, titled With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law Is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful, tackles this very subject.)

Bush and Cheney (and others, including Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice) should be executed for the traitors and war criminals that they are. That’s not hyperbole; I mean every word of that. They are responsible for the wholly unnecessary deaths of more than 4,000 members of the U.S. military and tens of thousands of innocent civilians in the Middle East. I generally am against the death penalty, but when it comes to mass murder, perhaps especially war crimes and crimes against humanity, you don’t deserve to continue to draw breath.

(Point of comparison: Most of or all of the 10 Nazis who were hanged at the conclusion of the Nuremberg trials had not killed another human being with his own hands, but were found guilty of having caused the deaths of others. If we applied the same standards of justice to the war criminals who comprised the unelected, treasonous Bush regime, they would hang, too. [Although I’d go with the more humane lethal injection, of course.])

It cannot be demonstrated that either Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden has been responsible for the death of even one human being, but it’s incontrovertible historical fact that Bush and Cheney are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands. Yet Manning is behind bars and Snowden is D.C.’s Public Enemy No. 1 — he had to seek freedom in Russia, of all places, since the United States stopped being about actual freedom long, long ago — while mass murderers Bush and Cheney, because of their status among the plutocratic elite, still roam free among us.

This is nothing like justice, and certainly there is no “liberty and justice for all” in the United States of America. Anyone who asserts otherwise is a fucking liar or a fucking coward or is incredibly fucking stupid or is some combination thereof.

While my philosophy tends to be that Everything Is Connected, I don’t see Manning’s whistle-blowing and transgenderism as fitting together like hand in glove. (Maybe if Edward Snowden announces that he now is a woman, I’ll start to suspect that there is some link…)

Perhaps if Manning was persecuted in the uber-macho military environment for not being macho enough, as she reportedly was, she was more likely to release classified information than if she had been treated well, but even then, it was her mistreatment at the hands of bigoted ignoramuses, not her transgenderism, that was the problem. Let’s not keep blaming the victims and letting the victimizers off scot-fucking-free, as we so much love to do.

As far as whistle-blowing goes: Does any portion of or any individual within the federal government (or of a state or local government) deserve to be shielded from the consequences of his or her or its misdeeds?

Absofuckinglutely not. If you commit crimes or misdeeds with public funds (if nothing else, if you are a government worker, your salary comes from public funds), you can have no expectation to be shielded from the public’s eventually being informed about your crimes or misdeeds, and you cannot hide behind “security” or “state secrets” or some other bullshit for your illegal or unethical behavior.

And as emerging whistle-blower statutes and case law are finding, we’re long past the time when it’s OK to persecute and even prosecute the whistle-blowers while the criminals and wrongdoers go free.

More than anything else, Chelsea Manning is a political prisoner. Her “crime” is that she exposed the war crimes for which the D.C. elite ultimately are responsible.

Manning reportedly is going to ask President Hopey-Changey for a pardon, but of course President Hopey-Changey, whose prime directives are to show the world what a fucking bad-ass he is and to protect the D.C. aristocracy, never would be so bold and so interested in actual justice as to do something like that.

I expect Manning to spend several years in prison, as yet another example of how in the United States of America, there are liberty and justice for only some.

P.S. Reuters reports that Manning said in a statement:

“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning; I am a female. Given the way that I feel and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I also request that starting today you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun.”

Reuters adds: “An Army spokeswoman said the Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-change surgery.”

Fuck the backasswards, patriarchal, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic U.S. Army!

If mental health professionals deem it necessary to a prisoner’s well-being, then such treatment should be provided. And our tax dollars should not fund a military that actively discriminates against anyone, including prisoners, whose punishment is the deprivation of their freedom, and not that they must endure discrimination or other unjust or cruel or unusual punishment at the hands of the fucktarded fascists who run — and ruin — our “justice” and “correctional” systems.

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I’m rooting for underdog Snowden in his fight against the wolves

File photo of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden being interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong

Reuters image

Although it’s awfully inconvenient for the treasonous power elite in Washington, D.C., Edward Snowden is a free man who has the right to travel freely and who does not have to subject himself to a kangaroo court. And nor does any other sovereign nation have to capture Snowden for the convenience of the traitors in D.C. who seek not justice, but who seek revenge against the young man who blew their cover for their actual crimes against us, the American people.

The D.C. rhetoric regarding patriot Edward Snowden is revealing, graphically, the sick and twisted beliefs of the powers that be. We knew that they were drunk on power (which isn’t their power, but which is our power that we only temporarily have loaned to them), but now we realize the full scale of their alcoholism.

How dare Snowden travel wherever he wishes? As an American citizen, he is the property of the federal government!

Isn’t he? That’s how the traitors in D.C. are treating him — as though he were the veritable property of the U.S. government, and therefore, through his (very smart) refusal to just hand himself over to the thugs who no doubt will treat him like Bradley Manning or one of the victims at the Guantanamo Bay Concentration Camp, he essentially is stealing government property (himself)!

Freedom? What freedom? You don’t have any fucking freedom! You are the property of the U.S. government! You exist for the government! The government does not exist for you!

That is the anti-democratic, fascist, freedom-hating mindset at work here, and we’re seeing it from members of both of the duopolistic, pro-corporate, pro-plutocratic parties.

Pathetic closet case Repugnican Tea Party Sen. Lindsey Graham, for instance, typical for the fascist that he is, recently proclaimed that “The freedom trail is not exactly China-Russia-Cuba-Venezuela, so I hope we’ll chase [Snowden] to the ends of the Earth….”

That sure sounds like Graham believes that Snowden does not have the right to freely travel, and no, unfortunately, the “freedom trail” does not lead to the United States of America, which is becoming fascist at a rate that would make Benito Mussolini jealous, but probably does lead to an actually democratic nation like Ecuador (said to be one of Snowden’s possible final destinations as he runs from the bloodthirsty wolves).

And big, bad “Democratic” Secretary of State John Kerry, for instance, recently huffed and puffed that it is “deeply troubling” that the sovereign nations of China and Russia both apparently have refused to try to capture Snowden, but have let him travel freely — as though either sovereign nation were required to do the bidding of the power elites in D.C. who don’t want justice, but who want only to try to protect their own political asses.

Snowden’s real “crime,” you see, is that he dared to stand up to the powers that be and he embarrassed them (well, actually, they have embarrassed themselves, but of course they’re projecting, and so they’re blaming him).

The real crime here is the blatantly unconstitutional and treasonous mass spying that the power elites have been perpetrating upon us for years and years now. You don’t get to promise us that of course you’re not violating our constitutional rights and at the same time refuse to give us (under the guise of “national security”) significant details as to what it is, exactly, that you are doing under the cover of darkness.

Those who support Big Brother are the Constitution-violating traitors. Edward Snowden isn’t a “traitor” for simply having pointed out the real traitors. He’s a patriot for having done so, and he has infinitely more courage than do any of the cowardly worms who bash him, the kind of worthless suck-ups, concerned only about their own precious asses and not about dangerous abuses of power, who made Adolf Hitler’s rise to power possible.

The power elite are skating on very thin ice here. Already the U.S. government for years and years has been perceived (quite correctly) by us, the people, to be unresponsive to our needs and unrepresentative of our interests.

An attack on Edward Snowden is an attack on all of us.

To allow the lynching of Edward Snowden is to give the power elites carte blanche to disappear any of us whom they deem an embarrassment to them or otherwise to threaten their power and status.

If we now are going allow the mere embarrassment of the power elites and/or the challenge to the power elites’ power (such as by pointing out their crimes, such as their blatant violations of our constitutional protections) to be classified as a “crime,” then we might as well wrap up the American experiment right now and call it a Colossal Fucking Failure, and let’s just go full-blown already into the nightmare state that George Orwell dreamed of, the nightmare state in which all of us are monitored 24/7 and which any of us can be disappeared at any time by the power elite at their whim.

This is some serious shit, folks.

While I fairly hate to support the system (including our “legal” system) that makes this kind of bullshit even possible, as it gives that system the air of fairness and thus legitimacy, if you want to donate to the Edward Snowden legal defense fund, you can do so here.

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Two ways you can help patriot Edward Snowden right now

Updated below

U.S. National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden is seen in this still image taken from a video during an interview with the Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong

Reuters image

Repugnican Tea Party Speaker of the House John Boehner has called 29-year-old National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden (pictured above) a “traitor.”

This is not all that surprising, coming from an alcoholic fascist like Boehner, whose treasonous, far-right-wing party’s only wish is to preserve the status quo. (Actually, the Repugnican Tea Party traitors want to take us back to the Dark Ages, but, at the minimum, they want to keep us trapped where we are; they seek to block all progress in the United States of America, and to a large degree, they succeed.)

Edward Snowden is a defender of the U.S. Constitution — specifically, Americans’ Fourth-Amendment right to privacy.

But in the down-the-rabbit-hole United States of America, where freedom and democracy died long, long ago, the actually treasonous criminals are let off scot-fucking-free while those who report the treasonous criminals’ criminal and treasonous activity, like Snowden, Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, are made into the “criminals.” They’re called by the hypocritically treasonous powers that be “traitors,” even.

(If Snowden is a “traitor,” gee, maybe he’s a “terrorist,” too! Maybe there’s a killer drone hunting him down as I type this sentence!)

Today, the power-mad, democracy-hating, Constitution-violating traitors in Washington go after patriots like Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning. (I’d call Julian Assange a patriot, but he’s Australian… Still, he’s a lover of actual freedom and actual democracy and he rejects the faux freedom and the faux democracy that the plutocrats and their servants in D.C. claim are the real thing.)

Tomorrow, the fascists in D.C. come for the rest of us.

There are two simple things that you can do right now to help Edward Snowden:

  • One, you can contribute to his legal defense fund, which the Progressive Change Campaign Committee has set up. You can do that here. (If you decide to donate to Snowden’s legal defense fund via the PCCC, be sure to donate to the “PCCC Strategic Fund” that is shown on the webpage.) I’ve given $10 to Snowden’s legal defense fund and I probably will give more.
  • Two, you can sign the petition on the White House’s website to encourage President Barack Obama to pardon Snowden. The petition is available here. (You’ll have to register with the website if you’re not already registered; registration is simple.) When I signed the petition this morning, almost half of the necessary 100,000 signatures necessary for the White House to consider the petition had been collected.

And use your sphere of influence, of course.

Doing these things is better that doing nothing. They’re something.

We need to alter the sociopolitical environment that even makes it possible for an actually treasonous fascist like John Boehner to call a courageous patriot like Edward Snowden a “traitor.”

P.S. I have to note that it’s pretty fucking stupid for the Repugnican Tea Party, which is hurting among youthful voters, to attack the 29-year-old Snowden like this.

I don’t expect the Obama administration, which has depended upon youthful voters, to attack Snowden nearly as viciously, but it will be interesting to see how the Obama administration decides to proceed with Snowden.

Update: To be fair and balanced, I will point you to this Associated Press news story that I just read in which “Democratic” U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California has referred to Edward Snowden’s whistleblowing as “an act of treason.”

Oh, sure, the right-wing Feinstein is the chair of the Senate “intelligence” committee, but she’s also a millionaire, one of the plutocrats who benefit from the unconstitutional vast spying upon Americans.

Feinstein also voted for the Vietraq War — from which her husband, Richard Blum, a war profiteer, just happened to make millions of dollars.

With “friends” like these, who needs the fucking Repugnicans?

(If memory serves, I voted for the fascistic Feinstein in 2000, being new to California and not knowing any better; however, I didn’t vote for her in 2006 or in 2012, and I never would cast a vote for her again. She’s one of the many examples one could point to in order to demonstrate that the average American’s interests are not represented in D.C. )

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Team Obama’s response to Dittygate only proves protesters’ point

I was going to write about it right after it happened, but I didn’t, but it’s back in the news again, so now I will.

On Thursday, April 21, the Obama administration was pretty fucking embarrassed when a short video of an incident at a fundraiser in San Francisco leaked out.

Obama wasn’t at the fundraiser to discuss anything controversial. He was there to collect his loot and go.* It was supposed to be a carefully controlled event — like one of “President” George W. Bush’s.** However, his fundraising spiel was interrupted by a group of protesters who started singing a little song about the Obama administration’s inhumane treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is accused of illegally leaking information to WikiLeaks.

Their lyrics conclude thusly: “We paid our dues; where’s our change? We paid our dues; where’s our change?”

Yeah, that’s what millions of us whom the Obama administration has punk’d would love to know.

If you haven’t already watched it, you can watch the short video here.

In the video, Obama obviously is pissed off, but he has come this far in politics by pretending to be cool in all situations, no matter fucking what — he apparently calculated long ago (correctly, probably) that an “angry” black man never could be president of the United States (an angry white man like John McCainosaurus, who nearly had strokes from his fits of rage during his presidential debates with Obama, however, can be president).

Of course, I prefer honestly expressed feelings of anger over insincere bullshit that is a transparent effort to cover up one’s anger, which is what Obama demonstrates in the video. After the protesters sing their little ditty, he says, quite insincerely, “That was a nice song. You guys have much better voices that I have,” and even says “Thank you very much.”

“Thank you very much”?

These protesters infiltrated Obama’s swank fundraiser only to remind him that there are some of us who feel that we paid our dues but have yet to see the promised change. And the short video of the protest song went fairly viral.

The Obama administration’s only saving grace is that this incident didn’t really hit the national news until Friday, April 22, so the story didn’t become the national story that it otherwise would have had the incident happened earlier in the week.

The Obama administration should have let Dittygate go, but instead it apparently chose to start a fight with The San Francisco Chronicle — whose reporter got the video.

Reports The Associated Press:

San Francisco — The White House says a San Francisco Chronicle reporter broke the rules when she put down her pen and picked up a video camera to film a protest. The newspaper says the Obama administration needs to join the 21st century.

The conflict hit the newspaper’s front page [yesterday] with a story about coverage of the protest during President Barack Obama’s speech last week at a private fundraiser.

It highlights the perils that arise when traditional arrangements between news organizations and politicians meet the modern reality that anyone with a smartphone can become a video journalist.

Reporter Carla Marinucci had White House permission to cover the fundraiser as a so-called “pool” reporter, meaning she could attend as long as she shared her notes with the White House to distribute to other reporters. Pool reporting is a common arrangement among media organizations and in-demand politicians to avoid overcrowding of smaller events.

Marinucci was covering the event when about a half-dozen protesters who paid a combined $76,000 to attend the breakfast broke into a song chastising Obama for the government’s treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst suspected of illegally passing government secrets to the WikiLeaks website.

“We paid our dues; where’s our change?” the protesters sang.

Although a print reporter, Marinucci is seldom seen without a small video recorder while covering politicians. She captured video of the protest, which was posted with her written story in the online edition of the Chronicle and on its politics blog.

White House officials say that breached the terms of her access, which stated Marinucci was to provide a print-only report.

“The San Francisco Chronicle violated the coverage rules that they — and every other media outlet — agreed to as part of joining the press pool for that event,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said. “If they thought the rules were too restrictive they should have raised that at the beginning.” [Yeah, so their reporter could have been tossed out, right?]

Editor Ward Bushee said in the Chronicle’s story [yesterday] that the paper acted within its rights to cover the newsworthy incident.

He also said White House officials in off-the-record conversations Thursday threatened to bar Marinucci from pool coverage of future presidential appearances. He added that the officials, whom Bushee did not name, threatened to freeze out Chronicle and other Hearst Newspaper chain reporters if they reported on the threat against Marinucci. [Emphasis mine.]

“We expect our reporters to use the reporting tools they have to cover the news, and Carla did,” Bushee said in the Chronicle story. The White House rule against print reporters shooting and posting video is “objectionable and just is not in sync with how reporters are doing their jobs these days,” he said.

After Josh Earnest, another White House spokesman, told the Politico website that officials had not made such threats, Carney said in a statement [yesterday] that “no reporters have been banned from covering future presidential events.”

“The White House of course would have no problem including any reporter who follows the rules in pool-only events,” he said.

The White House should rethink those rules in an era when few reporters limit their coverage to just one medium, and when several other attendees not with the media were taking their own video of the protest, Bushee said. The protesters’ own footage ended up appearing on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

The fundraiser came a day after Obama appeared at the Palo Alto headquarters of Facebook, praising the social media giant for enabling a more open, two-way conversation between citizens and politicians. The president said he was interested in holding the event, billed as a social media town hall, because young people especially were now getting their information through a range of different media. [Emphasis mine.]

Dan Gillmor, a media critic and head of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University, said the White House needs to update the rules for its pool reports to match the realities of 21st-century reporting. …

It’s not really that, that Team Obama is composed of a bunch of luddites. It’s that the Chronicle had the audacity to embarrass The Great Obama of Oz. The Chronicle pulled back the curtain to reveal the petty, vindictive, insincere little man behind the curtain. The Chronicle, with the video, showed us something that we never were supposed to see.

A mere written description of the protest at the fundraiser wouldn’t have fully captured it, and while a mere written account of an event can fairly easily be disputed, a videorecorded account cannot so easily be disputed — which is why the “transparent” Team Obama maintains that only written descriptions are allowed: to avoid embarrassment and poor P.R., not because they don’t understand today’s communications technologies, which they fully exploit in their record-level fundraising, for fuck’s sake.

Ironically, in its response to Dittygate, Team Obama has only strengthened the protesters’ charge, “We paid our dues; where’s our change?” Yes, one of the many things that Barack Obama promised but has yet to deliver is a more transparent presidency.

Instead, we’re seeing more of the same, with Team Obama threatening to punish the Chronicle — and indeed, its entire parent company — because one of its employees actually made something transparent. (I believe the Chronicle over Team Obama, hands down, by the way; I believe that Team Obama threatened to exclude the reporter from future events and then threatened to exclude the entire media organization if their threat to the reporter were made public.)

And Team Obama can’t blame the Chronicle for embarrassing Obama.

It’s not the Chronicle’s fault that Obama has reneged on so many of his campaign promises to the point that protesters paid more than $75,000 to crash his exclusive little cash ’n’ carry. The fault for that lies squarely in the lap of Obama.

Barack Obama embarrasses himself.

*I know that this is how it is with the Clintonistas, the DINOs, such as Barack Obama.

Back in the day I coordinated Meetups for John Kerry’s run for the White House. (Howard Dean was the favorite of the “netroots,” but I viewed Kerry as much more likely to be able to deny George W. Bush a second term.) When I coordinated the monthly Meetups for several months, the participants talked about those issues that concerned them. They appreciated having such a forum with like-minded others.

But after it was clear that Kerry, who came back from political death like Lazarus, was going to win the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination, a self-serving Democratic Party hack hijacked the Meetups and made them all about fundraising. She was in it for herself, even going so far as to tell the participants that when they donated money to the Kerry campaign, they needed to use a special code to designate the region when, in fact, it designated her as an individual fundraiser.

In a nutshell, under the hack’s “leadership,” the Meetups became fundraisers. Her contempt for others is what we see in the DINOs, who regard others only as ATMs.

Speaking of which, in my many months of helping out with Kerry-for-president efforts, I was quite disappointed by the Kerry fundraising events that we of the middle class, which the Democratic Party is supposed to be all about, cannot afford to attend. The Chronicle reports that “high-end” tickets to the Obama fundraiser at “the swank St. Regis Hotel” in San Francisco on April 21 “started at $5,000 and went up to $35,800.”

Another reason, probably, that cameras weren’t allowed…

**And Team Bush was fairly good at making sure that only loyal fans ever made it inside any of Bush’s appearances, but perhaps because he wasn’t on his own home turf, Bush did have, late in his unelected rule, that Iraqi guy throw a pair of shoes at him…

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