Halloween Candy at the White House

The Congressional Medal of Honor (CMOH) was created in 1861 during the early months of the Civil War.  It is the nation’s highest military honor and is awarded for “personal acts of valor, above and beyond the call of duty.”  Since its inception, 3,469 CMOH have been awarded, more than half during the Civil War when acts of “uncommon valor” were more loosely construed than in subsequent wars.

Of the twenty-eight presidents who’ve served since the CMOH was established, only eight have had no military service, including a group of six consecutive presidents covering the period from March 1913 through April 1945.  Those six were Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Roosevelt was afflicted with polio and would not have been accepted into military service under any circumstance.

In more recent history, seventy-four CMOH have been awarded since 1992.  Bill Clinton awarded thirty-eight during his eight years in office (22 of which were awarded, deservedly, to Japanese-Americans, even though their friends and relatives were being held in internment camps), George W. Bush awarded eleven medals during his eight years in office, and Barack Obama has awarded twenty-five CMOH in less than six years in office.  And although I would not wish to accuse Obama of having anything but the most honorable of intentions, it sometimes seems as if every time he feels the need for a bit of face-time with the TV cameras he passes out yet another CMOH… almost as if they were Halloween candy.

On January 20, 1993, the day of the inauguration of George H.W. Bush, I attended an inaugural ball honoring the living recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor as a guest of the military officers who comprised the Honor Guard for the CMOH recipients.

The inaugural ball was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Capitol Hilton Hotel, in Washington, and as my lady friend and I stood at the center of the room, surrounded by a host of men and women in formal attire, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful blue ribbons encircling the black satin collars of many of the honored guests, and the magnificent five-pointed star that dangled just below the black bow ties of their formal attire.

We were surrounded by no fewer than fifty-four Medal of Honor recipients, all gathered in one room, and as I attempted to envision the heroic deeds that those men had performed to merit those medals, a cold chill ran up my spine and the hair stood up on the back of my neck.  It was a great honor for this former field artillery corporal just to be in the same room with them.

What causes me to recall that very special evening was the recent news that Barack Obama has awarded the CMOH, posthumously, to Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, who was fatally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, in the decisive battle of the Civil War known as Pickett’s Charge.

Cushing, a classmate of General George Armstrong Custer, graduated from West Point in early June 1861.  Although he and other members of his class were not scheduled to graduate until May 1862, the need for infantry and artillery officers… in both the Union and Confederate Armies… was such that the graduation of the Class of 1862 was moved up to June 1861.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Cushing served as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery.  He was mortally wounded on July 3, 1861, just twenty five months after graduation, on a hilltop near the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The objective of the Confederate forces, under command of General George E. Pickett, was a spot of ground called Cemetery Ridge.  It was an ill-fated and ill-conceived military assault that history has recorded as Pickett’s Charge.

According to historical accounts, Cushing was wounded three times.  His first wound was caused by a shell fragment that passed through his shoulder.  His second wound was caused by shrapnel that struck him in the abdomen and the groin.  The abdominal wound was said to have been so severe that it exposed his intestines, which he then held in place with his hand as he continued to command his troops.

As he did so, a superior officer instructed him to go to the rear, where he could receive medical attention, but Cushing refused to leave and stood by his guns.  However, because of the severity of his wounds, he was unable to make himself heard over the sounds of battle.  As he was held erect by his First Sergeant, who communicated his orders to his cannoneers, Cushing was fatally wounded when a bullet entered his mouth and exited through the back of his skull.

The Confederate soldiers under Pickett’s direct command were almost exclusively from Virginia, with supporting troops from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  And while the Union forces lost about 1,500 killed and wounded, the Confederate casualty rate was over 50% of their total strength.  Pickett’s division alone suffered 498 killed, 643 wounded, and 833 wounded and captured… a total of 1,974 casualties.

The division commanded by General J. Johnston Pettigrew, which marched on Pickett’s left flank, suffered losses estimated at 2,363, including 470 killed and 1,893 wounded.  The division commanded by General Isaac R. Trimble, which marched in support of Pettigrew’s division, suffered 855 casualties, with 155 killed and 650 wounded.  The brigade commanded by General Cadmus M. Wilcox, which supported Pickett’s right flank, suffered 200 killed and wounded, while the brigade commanded by Col. David Lang lost approximately 400.  It is estimated that total losses during Pickett’s Charge came to 6,555, of which at least 1,123 Confederates were killed, 4,019 wounded, and a good number of others wounded and captured.

And while Lieutenant Cushing and other members of the Union Army fought bravely and valiantly, the same can be said of the sons of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia who fought valiantly during Pickett’s assault on Cemetery Ridge.

On the Confederate side of the battle line there was much less attention paid to decorations for valor.  On October 13, 1862, the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia, approved legislation creating a wartime award called the Southern Cross of Honor.  The statute was titled, “An Act to authorize the grant of medals and badges of distinction as a reward for courage and good conduct on the field of battle.”  The text of the act read as follows:

The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to bestow medals with proper devices upon such officers of the armies of the Confederate States as shall be conspicuous for courage and good conduct on the field of battle; and also to confer a badge of distinction upon one private or noncommissioned officer of each company after every signal victory it shall have assisted to achieve. The noncommissioned officers and privates of the company who may be present on the first dress parade thereafter may choose, by a majority of their votes, the soldier best entitled to receive such distinction, whose name shall be communicated to the President by commanding officers of the company…”

However, Civil War historians tell us that the medals and badges of distinction were never conferred upon any officer, non-commissioned officer, or private, in spite of the fact that NCOs and privates of any victorious unit were given the right to confer the award, by majority vote, on one of their fellow soldiers.

The concept of a Southern Cross of Honor was revived in July 1898, some thirty-three years after the end of hostilities, at a reunion of Confederate veterans.  The United Daughters of the Confederacy were authorized to confer the medal on any Confederate veteran who was found to have provided “loyal, honorable service to the South…. in recognition of this devotion.”

Although the last verified Confederate veteran died in 1951, the Commonwealth of Virginia continues to make it a Class 3 Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $500, for any person to wear the Southern Cross of Honor, “when not entitled to do so by the regulations under which such Crosses of Honor are given.”

Lorenzo Cushing’s story is a gripping tale of heroism and there is no doubt that his courage in battle deserves to be recognized and commemorated.  However, the question arises, is it entirely appropriate and in good taste, 150 years after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, to continue to rub salt into old wounds by commemorating the valor of Union soldiers who killed and wounded large numbers of other Americans in a civil war?  Is it not time we relegated the Civil War, the saddest chapter in American history, to where it belongs: the pages of history?

Would it not be more appropriate to erect a monument to Cushing’s bravery in the town square of his hometown, Fredonia, New York?  Of course, such an event would not provide a photo-op for Obama, a man who lacked the courage to wear the uniform of the United States, even in peacetime, but who now insists, unashamedly, on being called the “commander in chief.”

Of the seventy-five CMOH awarded since 1993, thirty-eight were awarded by Bill Clinton, a Vietnam War draft dodger, while Barack Obama, a man who used a forged draft card as part of his identity documentation when he ran for president, is on a path toward awarding 35 CMOH during eight years in office.  Were Clinton and Obama really concerned about the courageous acts of men in battle, or were they more interested in the photo-ops provided by passing out the CMOH as if they were Halloween candy for heroes?  We’ll never know, but what we do know is that men often do very uncharacteristic things when they are motivated by a guilty conscience.

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No, Ted Cruz is Not Eligible

On October 31, 2014, MinuteManNews.com published an article by Greg Conterio, titled, “Yes, Ted Cruz is Eligible to Serve as President,” Over the past seven years, since the day Barack Obama crawled out of the political cesspools of South Chicago, I have written numerous articles on the question of his eligibility to serve as president… the longest of which is a comprehensive 13-page analysis of the term “natural born Citizen” titled, “The Obama Eligibility Question .”

Now, as we enter the 2016 campaign season, with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), mentioned as potential presidential candidates, a great many Americans remain confused about the definition of the term “natural born Citizen.” Although each of these men are eligible to serve as governors, as U.S. Senators, as members of the U.S. House of Representatives, or even justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, none are eligible to serve as president or vice president because they are not “natural born Citizens,” as required by Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution.

Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father; Jindal was born in the U.S. to a father and mother, both of whom were citizens of India; Rubio was born in the U.S to parents, both of whom were citizens of Cuba; and Santorum was born in the U.S. to an American mother and an Italian father. Under provisions of the 14th Amendment, all are “citizens at birth,” but none are “natural born” citizens because of their non-citizen parentage.

Aware that Senator Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father, Conterio relies on language contained in 8 USC §1401 to support his contention that Cruz is a “natural born” citizen. That statutory language defines a “citizen at birth” as “a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is… not a citizen of the United States.” At no point does the statute mention the term “natural born Citizen,” nor does it attempt to show that the terms “natural born Citizen” and “citizen at birth” are synonymous.  To the contrary, when the Founders inserted the words “natural born Citizen” in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, as a principal qualification for those who wished to serve as president of the United States, it was their intention that all those born with any taint of foreign allegiance should be barred from the presidency and the vice presidency.  Hence, the term “natural born Citizen.”

Under the 14th Amendment, all those born in the United States to American citizen parents, as well as those born to foreign nationals or parents of mixed nationality, are “citizens at birth.”  In other words, all “natural born” citizens are “citizens at birth,” but not all “citizens at birth” are “natural born.”  However, Conterio contends that the terms “natural born Citizen” and “Citizen at birth” are synonymous, just as the terms “dog” and “domestic canine” are synonymous.  That simply is not true.  Those terms are no more synonymous than the terms “apple” and “orange.”  But then, Conterio goes on to argue that, “Based on U.S. law, the terms ‘natural born Citizen’ and ‘Citizen at birth’ are synonymous.”  However, in the next breath he reverses course, saying, “The Founders said ‘Natural Born Citizen,’ and the U.S. Code says ‘Citizen at Birth,’ which mean two completely different things.”  So which is it?  Either the terms are “synonymous,” or are they “two completely different things?”  They can’t be both.

What many who support the eligibility of Cruz, Jindal, Rubio, and Santorum refuse to consider is that there are only two jobs in all of America that require the incumbents to be “natural born” citizens.  Those jobs are president and vice president of the United States.  Every other job in America, in government or in the private sector, can be filled by natural born citizens, by citizens at birth, by naturalized citizens, or, in some cases, by non-citizens with work visas.  Those who agree that there are several categories of citizenship, but then argue that the Constitution puts no unique requirements on candidates for president and vice president, have an obligation to explain what they see as the difference between a “natural born” citizen and any other kind of citizen.

 In his analysis, Conterio relies heavily on an April 3, 2009 memorandum prepared by attorney Jack Maskell of the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The Maskell memorandum, which has been widely discredited, was produced for one reason and one reason alone: to give political cover to members of Congress who voted to certify Obama’s Electoral College votes, knowing or strongly suspecting that he was not eligible for that office.

The gist of Maskell’s argument is that “…there is no federal law, regulation, rule, guideline, or requirement that a candidate for federal office produce his or her original birth certificate, or a certified copy of the record of live birth, to any official of the United States government… Furthermore, there is no specific federal agency or office that ‘vets’ candidates for federal office as to qualifications or eligibility… ”


No specific federal agency or office that “vets” candidates for federal office as to qualifications or eligibility?  Upon being sworn into office in early January, following each biennial General Election, all members of Congress are required to swear the following oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

The congressional oath of office clearly requires all members of Congress to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That includes all those who would seek to gain access to the presidency without the necessary qualifications.

The presidential selection process provides three vetting opportunities for president and vice president. Unfortunately, all three vetting opportunities failed miserably in 2008-09.  The first occurred at the close of the Democratic national convention, in Denver, when the convention chairman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and the convention secretary, Alice Travis Germond, certified Barack Obama and Joe Biden to the 50 state election boards so that ballots could be printed.

Because Hawaii has specific certification requirements under Hawaii Revised Statutes §11-113, Pelosi and Germond certified to the State of Hawaii, as follows: “THIS IS TO CERTIFY that at  the National Convention of the Democrat Party of the United States of America, held in Denver, Colorado, on August 25 though (sic) 28, 2008, the following were duly nominated candidates of said Party for President and Vice President of the United States respectively, and that the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution.”

The certifications sent to the other 49 states read, simply: “THIS IS TO CERTIFY that at the National Convention of the Democrat Party of the United States of America, held in Denver, Colorado, on August 25 though (sic) 28, 2008, the following were duly nominated as candidates of said Party for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively.” Affixed were the names and home addresses of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  The phrase, “… and that the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution” was purposely omitted.

Other than that, all of the documents were identical… even to the misspelling of the word “through” in the second line of the certifications. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that Democrats knew when they nominated him that Obama was not a “natural born” citizen and, therefore, ineligible to serve.  Pelosi was aware that certifying falsely to Obama’s eligibility was a criminal offense, so the question arises, what did she know, and when did she know it?

The second vetting opportunity occurred on December 15, 2008, when the Democratic members of the Electoral College met to elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Even though most electors had been warned in advance that Obama did not meet the constitutional requirements to serve as president, all 365 Democratic electors, anxious to have another Democrat in the White House, violated their electoral oaths and cast their ballots for Obama.

The third and final vetting opportunity occurred on January 8, 2009, when the Congress met in joint session to certify the votes of the Electoral College. Prior to that date, essentially every member of Congress had been advised that Obama’s citizenship status was seriously in doubt.  So, if a member of Congress suspected that the Electoral College had erred, it was his/her solemn obligation to make those suspicions known and to object to the certification of the Electoral College vote. Yet, all 535 members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, purposely violated their oath of office by failing to demand an examination of Obama’s qualifications.

Why did they do so? Although we can’t read the minds of 535 members of Congress, we can “bet the farm” that most failed to question Obama’s eligibility because they were terrified at what would happen in the streets of America if the first black man ever elected by the Electoral College was turned away at the last moment on a constitutional “technicality.”  Instead, the double-redundant “fail safe” system envisioned by the Founders suffered catastrophic failure.

But now, with the potential candidacies of Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, or Rick Santorum, Republican principles will soon be put to the test. We will see whether Republicans, who, unlike Democrats, believe in the strict construction of the Constitution and the rule of law, will have sufficient reverence for the words of the Constitution to deny the nomination to a candidate who does not meet the necessary qualifications.  Knowing Republicans as I do, I feel certain that they will distinguish themselves by refusing to nominate an unqualified candidate.


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Hoaxes, Snafus, and Really Dumb Ideas

For many years we’ve seen news reports of the many outrages of radical Islam in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, from suicide bombers blowing themselves up on buses and in crowded shopping malls, to car bombs exploded near government buildings and police stations, to the mass slaughter of non-Muslims, to the ritual beheading of captured newsmen and aid workers. Now these atrocities have come to the shores of America.  We’ve seen mass killings of troops at Fort Hood, Texas, the beheading of a female office worker in Oklahoma City, the attack on four policemen in New York by a jihadist armed with an axe, and many more.  It causes us to wonder how long it will be before we hear news reports of a suicide bomber blowing themselves up in a crowded suburban shopping mall or at a major sporting event.  It’s not a question of if it will happen; it’s a question of when it will happen and where. 

If the American people are to survive the never-ending onslaught of Islamic jihad, the single most important thing we must understand is that we can never defeat radical Islam on the field of battle. To put it in stark terms, if we were to draft every young man and every young woman in America into military service on their eighteenth birthday, and if we were to send them off to fight Islamic jihad in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East for the next 100 years, we could never win a war of attrition against the forces of Islam.  And even if we were foolish enough to wage such an endless war on foreign soil, we would still be faced with the problem of radical jihadists here at home as they randomly kill, maim, and murder innocent men women and children on the streets, in their plants and offices, and in their schools and homes.

We are told by liberal apologists for radical Islam that we have nothing to worry about. After all, they argue, only five percent of the worldwide Muslim population (one in twenty) are potential suicide bombers or those who slice the heads off their captives.  What they fail to recognize is that, if we have to worry about only five percent of the world’s 1.4 billion Muslims, we only have to worry about some 70 million radical jihadists.  To put that into context, the combined uniformed forces of the Germans, the Japanese, and the Italians in World War II numbered only 34.1 million.  What should be immediately obvious to almost everyone is that the only way we can ever survive and/or defeat Islamic jihad is by de-radicalizing them in any way possible.

On at least two occasions in the past year I have suggested an elaborate hoax as a means of getting inside the heads of radical Islamists and living there rent-free. What I have proposed is that those who have the responsibility for our national security enlist the services of some of Hollywood’s most skilled special effects technicians for the purpose of developing a major information warfare program to be used against radical Islamists.  The plan would utilize a photographic projection technique called “holography,” the creation of images that appear to be three dimensional, when in fact they are only images created by focused beams of laser light.

I have suggested that the Pentagon or the CIA undertake to produce a “second coming” of the prophet Mohammed… a “second coming” in which he would appear before a crowd of radical jihadists, chastising them for misinterpreting the words of the Koran. If such a “second coming” could occur simultaneously at several locations around the world, so much the better.

Some might say that what I suggest is a bit “off the wall,” but is it? Every war in recorded history has been replete with its share of hoaxes, snafus, and just plain dumb ideas.

For example, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is one of the most monumental hoaxes of all time, principally because it has been the basis for anti-Semitism, and even genocide, for more than a century.  Reportedly written by Russian journalist Matvei Golovinski, circa 1900, the Protocols purports to describe the closely-guarded secrets of a clandestine group of Jews known as the Elders of Zion, outlining in great detail a Jewish conspiracy to achieve world dominion through proselytizing, the acquisition of governmental power, and even violence.  And although the Protocols were proven to be a gigantic hoax as early as 1938, it was used by the Nazis of the Third Reich as a justification for the mass slaughter of European Jews during the Holocaust.  Even today, the Protocols continue to have credence throughout much of the Muslim world.

In the hours and days following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, a great many Americans refused to believe that we’d actually been attacked… largely because Orson Welles’ October 31, 1938, War of the Worlds radio broadcast was still fresh in their minds.  They had vivid memories of Welles’ dramatic reporting of a Martian invasion of Planet Earth and the mass hysteria and panic it created.  What gave credence to the broadcast was that CBS had interrupted a weather report to announce that Martians had actually landed on Earth.  Some six million people heard the broadcast, causing telephone lines to police stations to be overloaded with calls from panic-stricken listeners.  CBS was forced to apologize and to promise never to repeat the outrage.  Nevertheless, the memory of the Welles broadcast was still fresh in the minds of many Americans on December 7, 1941.

In the category of really dumb ideas, in the planning for Operation OVERLORD, the D-Day invasion of Europe during World War II, the U.S. War Department prepared a recommendation proposing that the allies dig a tunnel under the English Channel, from Dover to Calais, a distance of 25 miles. It was estimated that 15,000 men could completed the project in one year.  A tunnel 10 ft. wide by 15 ft. high would have required the removal of 792,000 tons of soil and stone.  However, the idea was discarded when someone in the allied high command asked what would happen when troops, trucks, and tanks poured out of the tunnel and onto French soil.

Other military planners, while planning for the D-Day invasion, were concerned about the heavy fog that regularly engulfed British airfields, hampering flight operations. A plan for a “fog dispeller” was presented to General Eisenhower in which flames would be blown high into the air around airstrips to eliminate the fog.  It was estimated that the fog dispellers would consume some sixty thousand gallons of gasoline per hour.  Eisenhower filed the idea in the “round file” without giving it serious consideration.

In the category of the elaborate hoax, in the weeks prior to D-Day, the allied high command recruited a British Army payroll officer, Lieutenant Clifton James, who was the “spitting image” of British General Bernard Montgomery. In a deception called Operation Copperhead, the lieutenant was put through an intensive course of study in which he learned all of Montgomery’s tics and mannerisms.  Then, dressed in a British general’s uniform, complete with Montgomery’s trademark black beret, Lieutenant James was sent to Gibraltar on May 26, eleven days before the invasion, and from there to Algiers, where he was seen moving about in public.  German agents reported back to Berlin that General Montgomery was inspecting British military installations on the Mediterranean coast, leading the German high command to conclude that the D-Day invasion of France was not in the immediate offing.

In the category of the major SNAFU (or FUBAR in Vietnam era military slang), in the weeks and month prior to D-Day, the U.S. Navy developed a radio-controlled landing craft, called the “drone boat.” These vessels were not available for use on D-Day, June 6, 1944, but the Navy rushed them into production and they were available for the invasion of the French Riviera on August 15.  Each of the radio-controlled landing craft was loaded with four tons of explosives, intended to blow holes in German beachfront fortifications.  Unfortunately, military planners had failed to take into account that the radio frequency used to control the explosives-laden landing craft was the exact same frequency used by the Wehrmacht on shore.  As a result, the allied drone boats were uncontrollable.  As one eyewitness described it, many of the boats “milled around at high speed in crazy directions, completely on their own.”  Some of the boats reversed course and headed out to sea, in the general direction of the allied invasion fleet, and had to be sunk by destroyers in self defense.

During the early 1980s, a master forger named Konrad Kujau, produced what he claimed were the personal journals of Adolf Hitler, recovered from the wreckage of a plane that crashed in Germany in 1945.  According to Kajau, the diaries were smuggled out of East Germany by a man known only as “Dr. Fischer.”  The diaries created a stir on both sides of the Atlantic and were ultimately purchased for the sum of 10 million Deutschmarks by the German magazine Stern, which published portions of the diaries in 1983.  Because of the secrecy necessary to maintain the value of the diaries, they were not made available for examination by historians or by handwriting analysts.  It was not until after Stern’s publication of extracts from the diaries that they were found to be forgeries.

If radical Islamists wore uniforms, as is customary in war, so that they could be distinguished from non-combatants, it is arguable that our technological supremacy might win the day on the field of battle.  But that’s not the nature or practice of radical Islamists.  Instead, they wear non-military clothing and hide themselves among women and children.  In addition, unlike soldiers of civilized western cultures, jihadists cannot be captured, imprisoned, and sent off to “reeducation” camps… they can only be killed.

Convincing radical Islamists that they are committing a great sin by carrying out jihad against western nations is our only recourse. Since we can’t begin to envision the killing 70 million jihadists, it’s time we found more creative ways of defeating the most barbaric enemy in all of recorded history.  And while it may not be kosher to mess around with someone else’s religion by staging a “second coming” of the prophet Mohammed, in the present circumstance we are dealing with religious fanatics whose only goal in life is to kill us all, and for no other reason than that we exist.  Our lives, and the lives of our children and grandchildren, hang in the balance.  Drastic measures are called for.  It’s time to start thinking “outside the box.”


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