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Boardman writes: "The U.S. government is going to extraordinary lengths to persuade us that Private Bradley Manning, 25, is a dangerous enemy of the state."

Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland.  (photo: Patrick Semansky/AP)
Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland. (photo: Patrick Semansky/AP)


US Army Court-Martials Constitution

By William Boardman, Reader Supported News

06 June 13

 

RSN Special Coverage: Trial of Bradley Manning

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As readers here know, the U.S. has set about to lynch Bradley Manning.

he Bradley Manning court-martial that began June 3 looks like another defining moment for America - another indication of whether we are becoming the nation of supine toadies our government wants, or whether we still have enough devotion to the common good to behave in ways as decent and risky as Bradley Manning.

The U.S. government is going to extraordinary lengths to persuade us that Private Bradley Manning, 25, is a dangerous enemy of the state.

Even though Manning pled guilty to 10 of 22 charges last March, the U.S. Government is going ahead with all its charges, without providing a credible rationale. One charge, under the 1913 Espionage Act, could carry the death penalty.

There is reasonable likelihood that the military judge presiding over Manning's military trial will agree with her government employer, find Manning guilty as charged, and sentence him to life in prison, or possibly death. (Even though the prosecution isn't seeking the death penalty, the judge might have the power to impose it.)

At that point, if that's where it goes, there will no longer be any legal doubt that Manning is an enemy of the state.

And there will no longer be any moral doubt that the state, the U.S. government, is an enemy of the people.

Manning Exposed War Crimes That the Army Wanted Covered Up

This is not yet a widely shared perception, apparently, although there are many strong voices articulating it in a variety of forms, mostly in alternative media.

But what about the American people? What does public opinion polling show to be the public's opinion of Bradley Manning? An Associated Press piece filed from London June 4th begins, "It's rare for an American to generate more sympathy abroad than at home, but Bradley Manning and his trial [sic] are unique in a host of ways."

The AP report offers no basis for the conclusion about relative sympathy here and abroad, but a quick Google search for public opinion polling about Bradley Manning turned up nothing. Further search of the web sites of the Pew Research Center, Gallup, Zogby, Nate Silver's 538, CNN, Ipsos/Reuters, Quinnipiac, and six other polling organizations also turned up nothing.

Apparently there has been NO significant polling of the public on one of the more significant public issues of the day. Is that because the public doesn't care? (How would we know?)

The Questions That Are NOT Asked Also Affect Public Opinion

Or do polling companies have some agenda on the issue? Framing a neutral polling question poses a serious challenge. And in any event, why ask questions about a subject the government would just as soon as few people thought about as possible?

If people did think about Bradley Manning and what he's done, there's always the possibility that, like readers of the Guardian in the U.K. in 2011, they might vote for him to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for exposing American war crimes and slowing American wars, at least in the Middle East. Manning got 39.4% of that vote, followed by Julian Assange of Wikileaks with 18.9%, and Aung San Suu Kyi with 11.3% - she is the peace activist of Myanmar (Burma) who won the prize in 1991.

Roots Action has a current online petition to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Manning. With a goal of 75,000 signatures, the petition had 59,595 signers by June 5.

Presumably the U.S. government is using prosecution as part of its effort to keep Manning from becoming a popular hero or noble martyr - someone others might emulate. His treatment since May 2010 is consistent with a determined effort to diminish or break him, holding him in isolation in conditions that were "cruel, inhuman, and degrading" according to a United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.

What Did the People Know, and When Did They Know It?

Maybe a polling question could be: Do you believe it's constitutional for the U.S. Army to torture one of its own soldiers because he revealed the truth about U.S. war crimes to the American people?

Like the void in polling, mainstream media coverage has been thin and frequently counter-factual, to the point of resembling government propaganda. For example, anchor Brian Williams framed the story this way on the NBC Nightly News on June 3:

"The court-martial of the man who may have put U.S. military secrets in the hands of Osama bin Laden started today, the so-called WikiLeaks trial."

This is, indeed, the prosecution's point of view, but there is as yet no persuasive evidence showing that that there were any militarily useful secrets, or that they got into the hands of Osama bin Laden. For major networks to call it the "Wikileaks trial," is misleading, since Wikileaks is not on trial - but it is, very likely, targeted by the U.S. government.

ABC News gave a similarly slanted, 15-second report on the trial, headlined: "Bradley Manning Wikileaks Trial Begins." The Drudge report just calls the whole thing "Wikitrial."

Detailed comment on mainstream media coverage, its failings and biases, is available from FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, fair.org) on the FAIR blog.

This Military Trial Threatens Basic American Freedom

Writing in the New York Times on March 13, celebrated First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams said in an op-ed column, in reference to the Manning case: "And what could be more destructive to an informed citizenry than the threat of the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole for whistle-blowers?"

Abrams, who represented the Times in successfully defending the paper's constitutional right to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971, was arguing that Manning's guilty plea to a set of charges that could put him in prison for 20 years should be sufficient for the government's needs:

"Private Manning's guilty plea gives the prosecution an opportunity to rethink its strategy. The extreme charges remaining in this case create a severe threat to future whistle-blowers, even when their revelations are crystal-clear instances of whistle-blowing. We cannot allow our concerns about terrorism to turn us into a country where communicating with the press can be prosecuted as a capital offense."

This was Abrams' final paragraph, one that the government obviously ignored. It is a measure of Abrams' timidity - and the pallid coverage the Times has given the Manning case - that he introduces "our concerns about terrorism" to blur the issue.

If there was terrorism in the well-known helicopter killing video, it was the effort by Americans to gun down children sitting in the front seat of a civilian van that was serving as a makeshift ambulance responding to the earlier carnage Americans had wrought on non-threatening civilians, killing twelve, including three journalists.

The video of this event on July 12, 2007, is called "Collateral Murder" by Wikileaks and can be found online on YouTube, on The World Can't Wait, and other web sites.

If this were actually a free country, then we would be able, at a minimum, to watch the court-martial of Bradley Manning, live, on C-SPAN.



William M. Boardman has over 40 years experience in theatre, radio, TV, print journalism, and non-fiction, including 20 years in the Vermont judiciary. He has received honors from Writers Guild of America, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Vermont Life magazine, and an Emmy Award nomination from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+68 # tomo 2013-06-06 15:16
The obvious parallel for the Manning Trial is the Dreyfus Affair. That France in general rose against its government to protest what they saw as a biased proceeding against Dreyfus should put us Americans to shame. People in America will no doubt defend themselves by saying, "Well, I don't really know much about the Manning case." These are the same people who in the millions can phone and text 10 times per customer on who should win some sorry voice contest. We are dissolving into utter triviality and irrelevance.
 
 
-40 # JackB 2013-06-07 08:20
This is nothing like the Dryfus case. Dryfus was innocent. Manning is guilty.

The government is not trying to paint Manning as a dangerous enemy of the state. Hopefully Manning will live out his days in jail as a traitor to his country - for what he has done, not what he might do.

In other words he was a dangerous enemy of the state who gave away US secrets but he is no longer a threat to divulge more secrets.
 
 
+31 # Phlippinout 2013-06-07 09:04
He is a HERO and you are a defender of war crimes. Its that simple
 
 
+26 # WBoardman 2013-06-07 09:48
Law is not the final arbiter of right and wrong.

Even the law allows for this in such concepts as
mitigating circumstances or necessity.

The obvious example is Nazi Germany, where
the activities of the state were all "legal."

The moral challenge of the Manning case is
whether there is any higher duty
than covering up our war crimes.
 
 
+15 # Kootenay Coyote 2013-06-07 10:26
So the US Army outranks the Geneva Conventions & the Nuremburg judgements it helped enforce? How logical you are....
 
 
+71 # mdhome 2013-06-06 18:49
Maybe a polling question could be: Do you believe it's constitutional for the U.S. Army to torture one of its own soldiers because he revealed the truth about U.S. war crimes to the American people?

Manning Exposed War Crimes That the Army Wanted Covered Up

Pretty much says it all, where have all the scruples gone?
 
 
+2 # DarthEVaderCheney 2013-06-08 08:44
Unfortunately, the USA has none left... War-faring nations have used up their allotment of morality!
 
 
+5 # DarthEVaderCheney 2013-06-08 08:56
This country sold it scruples, morals, and standards to the lowest bidder when Bush stole his way into the Presidency with the approval of the SCOTUS! THAT'S where the government's scruples have gone!
 
 
+1 # DarthEVaderCheney 2013-06-08 09:02
YOU are a traitor and should be imprisoned in a government run gulag for life! You are a disgrace to our country!
 
 
+83 # cmp 2013-06-06 19:10
Those, who lied through their teeth to sell the Wars - nothing..

Those, who tortured in the name of the Wars - nothing..

Those, who blatantly gouged and illegally profited from the Wars - nothing..

Those, who intentionally decimated the Iraqi people / economy to bring the Country to it's knees for the Occupation - nothing..

The American Corporate owned Press / Media have been complicit and in bed with this Corporate owned Government, from Day 1..

And now, 12 years out, who is being sold to us to be incarcerated and who is the one being Offered Up for a lynching?

Roll over Joe McCarthy..
 
 
+58 # Lowflyin Lolana 2013-06-06 21:36
"If you see something, say something..." ..Unless you're Brad Manning exposing war crimes, that is.
 
 
+18 # charsjcca 2013-06-06 21:47
The notion of constitutionali ty relative to military involvement brings foth a strange idea. The military is a fellowship that I engaged in without hesitation even though after the third day I knew that I had made a mistake. The culture of America that I had been exposed to said "grin and bear it." So I did. If Bradley Manning had joined the local country club he could leave and the remaining members would hold a party.

However, Manning is not a free agent and neither was I. I now understand that. Being in the military is a special social category and is in no way associated with constitutionali ty. What we were put through was neither constitutional nor humane. IT IS MORE LIKE AN IRREVOCABLE TRUST AGREEMENT, open-ended and unilateral. I believe that both Manning and this writer did not know that. In a sense we were not in position to give informed consent. In contract law one might conclude that the original agreement has been VOIDED. Enjoy...
 
 
+11 # WBoardman 2013-06-07 09:53
Cogent comment.

While the military might argue (or wish) that military law
was the supreme law of the land, complete with unbreakable
contractual obligations
(except when it it comes to vet care, for example),
I don't think we're quite there yet.

Soldiers still have their rights as citizens,
however circumscribed they may be.

But what you argue seems to me to be exactly what
the military would expect its soldiers to believe.

Does the argument change when the issue is rape?
 
 
-9 # AlWight 2013-06-07 13:03
We need to distinguish between war crimes and intelligence needed to protect our country. As a former intelligence officer, I know full well the necessity of safeguarding intelligence information. Important sources can be cut off, and lives can be lost. Those of us who have access to this information know the consequences, both for others and ourselves if we do not protect intelligence. Could and did Manning distinguish between the two? I doubt it. Boardman would have us believe that all Manning did was reveal illegal activities of his superiors, which I suspect is a profound distortion of the facts. If we allow acts of this sort to go unpunished, what would this do to our intelligence efforts? Our enemies or potential enemies would be pleased, of course.
 
 
+4 # photonracer 2013-06-07 17:57
Wasn't this the reply of the Nazi and Soviet soldiers? Military intelligence is an oxymoron. War crimes are obvious but just like in the streets or the jungle the biggest bully (war criminal) is not held accountable, until they are weakened.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2013-06-08 18:53
Quoting AlWight:
We need to distinguish between war crimes and intelligence needed to protect our country. As a former intelligence officer, I know full well the necessity of safeguarding intelligence information. Important sources can be cut off, and lives can be lost. Those of us who have access to this information know the consequences, both for others and ourselves if we do not protect intelligence. Could and did Manning distinguish between the two? I doubt it. Boardman would have us believe that all Manning did was reveal illegal activities of his superiors, which I suspect is a profound distortion of the facts. If we allow acts of this sort to go unpunished, what would this do to our intelligence efforts? Our enemies or potential enemies would be pleased, of course.

Manning agonized for many weeks over what to to do with the dada which was unfolding before him; ref' "Democracy Now" archives.
US "intelligence efforts" have brought about the downfall and ruin of more nation-states than you can shake a stick at!
Happy with that are ya?
The "distortion of facts" starts at the top and trickles down through the ranks like some leeching but increasingly virulent poison devouring all it touches. Ever heard the simple phrase "All governments lie"?
Y'r blind faith in your country will betray even yourself eventually unless you stand with the truth-tellers and peace-makers!
Translate "Corporate State" into a simple word or phrase: -a clue: it begins with "F"!
 
 
+50 # DaveM 2013-06-06 21:54
How much longer before they start coming for each of us who "steps out of line"? And how much longer do we stand for it?
 
 
+14 # Rita Walpole Ague 2013-06-07 09:23
DaveM: brother, so correct you are, and your questions are now being asked by more and more Americans, of all and no political bents, and, (this must have the villainaire rulers and their bought off minions scared and then some), some of the most concerned/irate are attorneys/judge s, military and retired military, cops and firefighters, and yes, even government agents, etc..

You see, we the sheeple know about some of the evil, but the afoementioned know, have seen and experienced lots more (a.k.a. horrors of war on others and us, including on the poor, conscientious objector, Kimberly Rivera, who the 'baddie' military prosecutor said is going to be made an example of, and our true hero, Brad Manning).

Does not take a genius to see that revolution/impl osion - it's coming, and it ain't gonna be pretty.
 
 
+49 # soularddave 2013-06-06 22:01
In so many ways, these days, we're being told: If you still have a conscience, don't let anyone know; especially, don't ACT on it.

PFC Manning is compelled by article 499 of the Army Field Manual, to report war crimes. He certainly performed in discharging that duty. Now it is up to us to do what his military chain of command refused (or declined) to do.
 
 
+14 # tedrey 2013-06-07 04:11
More precisely, Field Manual 27-10,articles 495-51 (telling soldiers the laws they should follow). Google it; the whole Manual is telling. There is no way that the U.S. military, by these standards, is not riddled with war criminals . . . and that Bradley Manning revealed them.
 
 
+45 # BobbyLip 2013-06-06 22:02
Under the laws of war, or the Geneva Conventions, or something, did not Manning have a legal obligation to blow the whistle, to report war crimes? This is what his defense counsel should be saying, not the bull about a confused young man or whatever. Manning was as clear and conscientious about what he was doing as a man could be. He does indeed deserve the Peace Prize. And Obama certainly, if he has any sense of decency, should return his.
 
 
+45 # Doubter 2013-06-06 22:13
My favorite Einstein quote:

"He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."
ALBERT EINSTEIN
(Heartily endorsed by this WWII combat infantry vet)
(I wonder if any of the guys I knew in the war are still around?)
 
 
+17 # Paul Scott 2013-06-06 22:30
The soldiers may not be getting it, but I'm betting a hell of a lot of military age young folks are getting it.

This government could send no stronger message to the young folk that if you would reveal state secrets to inform the people, in your nation, of the BS done in their name, stay the hell out of the military.
 
 
+1 # DarthEVaderCheney 2013-06-08 09:37
Like the Repugnicant/TPo d fools, the military just doesn't "get it!" And the draft system ain't gonna help them. What a circus we're in for!!
 
 
+22 # munza1 2013-06-06 23:08
Rasmussen did a poll and 52% held Manning was a traitor. It's a right wing poll but quite influential and it demonstrates to me that the writer on the left didn't look at all the landscape. The MSM and Fox News certainly get credit for much of that 52%. What if a German private in the Wehrmacht had smuggled out documents about Nazi war crimes? We would applaud his courage and his action. Wasn't that what Nuremberg was about?
 
 
+6 # WBoardman 2013-06-07 10:07
munza1 is quite right about the poll --
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/content/search?SearchText=%22bradley+manning%22&a=Submit

It came out the day after I wrote my piece.
And Rasmussen was one of the services I searched.

The questions seems to me to have a bias against Manning --
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/questions/pt_survey_questions/june_2013/questions_wikileaks_june_4_5_2013

They call it the "Wikileaks trial," they make no mention of war crimes or any other content of the "secrets," they use the words "traitor" and "treason" but not the word "patriot"
("whistleblower " is mentioned, but that's not balance),
they hypothesize his guilt but not his innocence.
 
 
+20 # Milarepa 2013-06-07 01:23
If I were a betting man I'd bet on Manning to beat his would-be killers. This young man has survived three years of torture, still standing up, fighting. Long live Bradley!
 
 
+22 # DeadlyClear 2013-06-07 02:07
Anyone one who has or had a 24 year old male child knows that they are not fully developed to cope with all aspects of reality. I'm not saying he is not responsible at doing his job - but sense of consequence is not always a young man's first thought. The army brainwashes their soldiers many times in different directions from the way they were raised. It appears Bradley saw something he felt was wrong - and most likely it was or else we'd all be privy to the information to judge for ourselves.

In most cases there must be premeditated intent to damage or cause harm. I doubt he intended to cause harm - his thought process was probably that he was doing something good for the masses... And he probably was.
 
 
+8 # WBoardman 2013-06-07 10:11
Here is the link to the 17-minute video,
"Collateral Murder" -- released by Manning,
but only after he tried to take it up the chain of command --
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0

Judge for yourself whether Americans in the Apache
commit a series of war crimes, with the blessing of
their superiors....
 
 
+8 # DeadlyClear 2013-06-07 12:37
Hawaii is a prime example of American capitalism assault. In school we were taught that Hawaii wanted to become a state. In reality it was takenover at gun point and the Queen was imprisoned. How do you think the public would have reacted if they knew the ugly truth?

Is Hawaii better off? Well, let's just say the military is strategically placed and the Hawaiians are very compassionate and tolerant people - but they would have done just as well if we had protected them from other country invasions rather than a military takeover - or who knows, Tahiti and the Cook Islands do just fine under the French influence and their healthcare is free.
 
 
+23 # futhark 2013-06-07 02:37
The Obama Administration is right about one thing: Bradley Manning is an enemy of the state, a state that lies to its people, pursues wars based on those lies, and spies on its own citizens. Funny thing is that, according to the U. S. Constitution, the state is the creature of the People, not the reverse, as so many persons, especially those currently holding political power, seem to think. Read the Preamble to the Constitution if you think I am wrong.
 
 
+5 # bingers 2013-06-07 05:36
Doubter, Thank you for your service in our last war actually waged to protect our freedoms.
 
 
0 # Doubter 2013-06-08 16:14
Thanks for the thanks but I stopped believing that WWII was a "good war."
Not only did the Nazi philosophy originate in the good ol' USA (http://hnn.us/articles/1796.html)but the same banks and industrialists financed and capitalized on both sides, as they practically always do.
 
 
+17 # geraldom 2013-06-07 08:15
I don't know why the U.S. government would even bother trying to make Bradley Manning out as a dangerous enemy of the state. The U.S. government has already found him guilty of whatever crime (or crimes) they want to charge him with and could give a damn as to what the American people think. Our government hasn't given a damn about what the American public thinks for decades now, but especially since George Bush stole the presidency in 2000.

This trial is simply a show trial. If our government could simply get away with throwing Bradley Manning into prison without any trial and throw the key away, they would do so gladly. But, Obama being a so-called Constitutional lawyer, the Obama administration has to go through this phony charade of a trial or else it will show what this country has really become, an outright dictatorship. Our Constitution and our Bill of Rights are dead.
 
 
+10 # socrates2 2013-06-07 08:35
"The Questions That Are NOT Asked Also Affect Public Opinion"
Public Opinion is what Edward Bernays's acolytes say it is. It's been so in this country since WW1.
Be well.
 
 
+9 # Phlippinout 2013-06-07 09:06
I dont know what is worse, a man on trial for exposing war crimes or a man running on a platform of hope and change and giving us all the finger when he gets in.
 
 
+24 # fredboy 2013-06-07 09:35
The evidence shared by Manning allowed us to SEE a US helicopter gunship kill unarmed civilians, including a news crew. And, during their banter, hear some crew members laughing about it.

So this begs the question: Was the crew arrested and prosecuted for these crimes? Did the crew's commanding officer, as required by both US military and international law, take action to have them arrested and prosecuted? If not, why not?

And if not, we must ask if this is a sign of ingrained, accepted wrongdoing on behalf of our nation. If so, we as a people cannot accept this.

Manning's actions, exposing this, were heroic but also much more. Manning courageously spotlighted horror that we as a nation cannot tolerate or allow. This is clearly the moral tipping point of our nation
 
 
+4 # WBoardman 2013-06-07 13:46
So far as I know, there has been no consequence
for any of the soldiers involved in "Collateral Murder."

If someone knows otherwise, please speak up
(and share link(s)). Thank you.
 
 
+1 # tomo 2013-06-09 18:38
The version of "Collateral Murder" I saw provided a comment that the military review of the action found that all the shooters had acted in accord with the rules of engagement. I cannot vouch that this was the statement of those who reviewed the action, but that is what I read. What I know more confidently is that one of the U.S. soldiers who carried one of the two wounded children to an ambulance wrote a letter of apology to the child's family. I know this because I saw a copy of the letter.
 
 
+8 # Bev 2013-06-07 09:53
What a sad day when this 84 yr.old great-grandmoth er sees this nation of sheeple believing everything they are told without any curiosity or even the energy for questioning or outrage. Has our enslavement drained us of all vitality?
 
 
+6 # reiverpacific 2013-06-07 11:33
This will serve to confirm to the world that the US is an "Industrialized " but not a "civilized" country, with many other affirmations thereof such as the criminal for-huge-profit of a few, don't-care un-health non-system. Itall goes together with lack of public education.
The difference is obvious to all but the most reactionary mentality.
 
 
-10 # Muzzi 2013-06-07 14:18
I don't understand this. He is a traitor because he leaked secrets to a foreign entity.
If he believed this was wrong, why didn't he leak it to the Washington Post like the Watergate reporters did? He could have asked for a discharge, if he was opposed to the war. He never should have given information to foreigners.
 
 
+5 # reiverpacific 2013-06-07 19:29
Quoting Muzzi:
I don't understand this. He is a traitor because he leaked secrets to a foreign entity.
If he believed this was wrong, why didn't he leak it to the Washington Post like the Watergate reporters did? He could have asked for a discharge, if he was opposed to the war. He never should have given information to foreigners.

Very 'Muzzy' thinking and blinkered into the bargain!
As a "foreigner" all I can say is that the world doesn't stop at the US borders and coastlines and the rest of the global community is affected by whatever goes down here, such is it's military-corpor ate reach unfortunately.
Manning was doing us all a favor and is a prisoner of conscience for his courage, like so many before him.
You'd probably have condemned him if he had leaked stuff to the US Corporate media monopolists but they'd have whitewashed it and still finked on him, so worthless are they!
So d'you think Dimwits Bush and his corrupt and cronyist, war-mongering on a lie administration are heroes for wrecking two countries and using thousands of young Americans cannon-fodder?
You must be stuck in the 1950's and the John Birch mentality!
 
 
0 # Muzzi 2013-06-07 22:23
What is wrong with this site? Every time I click a minus sign, it turns into a plus sign, and vice versa.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2013-06-08 21:33
Quoting Muzzi:
What is wrong with this site? Every time I click a minus sign, it turns into a plus sign, and vice versa.

''Muzzy is as 'Muzzy' does! Respectfully of course.
 
 
0 # djnova50 2013-07-04 15:33
Muzzi, this thread is about a month old so I don't know if you will read this reply. But, I will try to explain why when you press the red button, it could end up with a plus sign and number.

If several people agree with a comment and you are the only one that disagrees, it is possible for all of the people to be pressing either the red button or the green button at the same time. If there are more green button pushers than red button pushers, the result will be a plus sign and some number. If there are more red button pushers than green button pushers, it's obvious the results would be a minus. I hope this makes sense.
 

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