Monthly Archives: February 2011

Atlas Shrugged the Movie!!!! April 15th!!!

Okay, so Ayn Rand was not Shakespeare. And her philosophy has some major flaws (about as many as her style). However, for all her issues, Atlas Shrugged will always hold a special place in my heart. While I can critique the characterization of John Galt, Dagny Taggart or Hank Rearden for being too cold or purely logical at times, their core of their philosophy does hold many truths.
Which is why I’m excited about this.

I love that it comes out on April 15th. And I would like to thank Barrack Obama. If it weren’t for your fascist/socialist policies which are straight out of Atlas this movie would probably never have gotten out of it’s 50 year development hell.

However I’m just worried that this won’t catch on enough for them to make parts 2 and 3.

Thoughts?

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Filed under Atlas Shrugged, Movies, Movies for Conservatives

Friday reading…

Most of the media coverage this week has been on Egypt, and I think most of it is pointless discussion until we find out who is going to be on top when the dust settles…but here are some of the other interesting tidbits from this week…

Oh, dear lord. Obama thinks he’s Reagan.

Hope that the Republican Party will be giving up its concern for meaningless social issues (after all it appears only the John Birch Society, Jim DeMint, and Sarah Palin are not catching on).

Reaganomics: What We Learned by Arthur B. Laffer

Why the Muslim Brotherhood should scare you

A look at that helpful thing called government regulation

A look at so-called Islamophobia

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Books for Conservatives (but liberals should read this too): New Threats to Freedom

So it’s been a while since I recommended a book, sorry about that. But right now I’m going to recommend a book that I recently discovered New Threats to Freedom edited by Adam Bellow.

This selection of original essays offers something to entertain, enlighten and offend both those on the left and the right. It is a discussion of the various forms that threats to our beloved liberties are coming from. And believe it or not it’s not just liberals in the government who we should be trying to oppose. Society, the overly religious, the ivory tower, and our own indifference are forces that have some of most beloved (although sometimes overlooked) liberties at stake. Probably our own indifference being the biggest threat. But Obama does rank a close second it seems.

None of the essays sound like they come from a crazed person wearing tin foil and talking about the CIA—quite the opposite in fact, as all of the writers are not only calm and logical in their cases, but know their way around the written word as well. (This collection for instance reminded me why I can’t help but love Christopher Hitchens, even in spite of his rabid atheism).

Economic rights are certainly covered, so conservatives should be happy, but our social rights, as liberals are keen to point out, are also at threat. Like the right to make mistakes or the right to eat what isn’t healthy for us.

Of particular poignancy, even though this book was written about a year ago, is the essay “The Abandonment of Democracy Promotion” by Tara McKelvey on how we have stopped trying to export democracy represents a threat to our freedom. The key example used in the essay is that we have ceased our spending for democracy promotion in Egypt. … I wonder, do you think that might come back to bite us in the ass?

I won’t go over every single essay, the writers in this collection do much better than I could, but I would say that I found almost every selection insightful and enlightening. However of my personal favorites I would suggest you read are:
“The Decline of the American Press Freedom” by Anne Applebaum
“Multiculturalism and the Threat of Conformity” by Christopher Hitchens
“The Fairness Doctrine” by David Mamet
“The War on Negative Liberty” by Katherine Mangu-Ward
and
“The Tyranny of the News Cycle” by Robert D. Kaplan

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Obama, Possessive Pronouns, and God

“When Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time, we are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us, but whether we’re being true to our conscience and true to our God.”

This is another quote from our dear President at the recent National Prayer day event he attended. Notice anything wrong with that? (Beside you know the fact that he says he believes in God. Nothing this man has done or said has convinced me he is anything but an atheist.) It’s the phrase “our God.”

Our God. Your God. My God. Their God.

Just one problem with using any kind of possessive pronoun with the word God—it makes no logical sense.

“Our God” implies “their” god, which in turn implies multiple gods or that our god is real and your god is made up. Just one problem with that there is only one God. And he’s the God of all religions.

Now many religions, all people in fact, place different masks on this one deity that helps them envision and comprehend that truth which is beyond that piece of meat in your skull–some religions will even put multiple masks on this deity at once (polytheism), but any educated Hindu will tell you that in the end all things (all deities, all mortals, all the world) all thing are Brahma, and the same truth applies to all pagan versions of polytheism—there is only one deity. The mask may change, but the mask you put on it does not change its nature or this ultimate reality. Yahweh, Elohim, Jehovah, Nirvana, Brahma, the Tao, the Great Spirit…pick a name, same being. True we may sometimes put a mask on this deity that shows more of our flaws than its greatness (Zeus, Odin, and certain deities of the moon come to mind), but our projecting our flaws do make this being any less in itself.

Thus there can be no “our” God. For someone to say “our” God suggest they believe God is not God to everyone. Thus they cannot believe in a God of Love, because love by definition is unconditional, especially at the infinite level of the divine there can be no mine and not mine, and conversely there can be no ours and yours. And from that one metaphysical assumption, that we have “our god” which is not “your god,” the logical extension to ethics and politics gets really dark (see the worst moments in religious history if you want to know how dark).

Now I’m not particularly worried about any of that under Obama, because, like I’ve said, I doubt he worships any god other than his reflection (and maybe his teleprompter), but it does show he knows nothing of spirituality or genuine faith. People with faith aren’t threatened by other people’s differing relationships with God, and hence feel no need to use possessive pronouns in discussing God. And people who don’t understand such things have a hard, if not impossible time, separating reasonable people of strong spiritual conviction from nut jobs who want to burn down the world in the name of “their” god…and right now not being able to make that distinction could lead to some serious foreign relation blunders. Not to mention it shows that this is a man who can’t be honest about most basic of statements of belief.

And if he can’t be honest, then all we have to judge him by are his actions….and, well, those tend to speak for themselves…

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Filed under Faith, God, Obama, People Are Stupid

Laws the GOP should pass #12: Get rid of government unions.

So this week the economic idiot-in-chief wants to unionize TSA workers. Let’s see, their outrageous union salaries and pension plans are driving states and businesses into bankruptcy as has been shown time and time again during this recession and Obama wants to expand union power? Madness! Madness! And let’s mention that unionizing employees has always and will always reduce employee productivity and customer service…given the TSA I hate to imagine how they could get worse than they are now, but I’m sure their union will find a way. Oh and it’s not like a union in the airline business has ever resulted in problems for airlines (like air traffic controllers striking and shutting down the country). Obama is clearly mentally unhinged or owned by the unions. Either way the best interests of the American public are not even an afterthought in this decision.

However, I’ve already gone off on the idea that TSA should be privatized and replaced with several Israeli style security companies. So let’s deal with this stupid idea of unions in government. Why are there unions in government? Why do government employees need good wages or protection? Honestly if you need protection from your employer and your employer is the people who write the laws, rule on the laws, and enforce the laws, and arbitrates all management/employee disputes…you’re just plain screwed, because no matter how good your union employer is, they are still the one who sets the rules of the game (again see the air traffic controller strike). So, logically, the only real reason we have unions in government is kickbacks to union heads through union dues (yes the logic really is that simple).
Hence the law of the week. GET RID OF ALL GOVERNMENT UNIONS.

But, but, but, liberals stutter searching for a legitimate reason against this (after all those unions pay for the largest portion of their reelection campaigns), but then who will protect the wages of government employees. Right now the public is out for blood and if you get rid of unions then the salaries and benefits of government employees will drop like a rock.

To which I respond: So? What’s the problem with that scenario?

Ideally government work should be underpaid. It should be crappy salaries; it should be something you want to get out of. Honestly there are exactly three departments in the entire government where we need people to make a career out of their government jobs: The Department of Defense, Justice, and State—and they don’t need unions because either they’re law enforcement and soldiers, lawyers or diplomats. All professionals, all of which do not need a union to protect them (let’s be honest here the people with guns are the least scary on that list).

Pushing government salaries lower (can we start with Congress?) will convince people to not make a lifelong career of doing nothing in civil service meaning that people will either get real jobs in the private sector or show that they’re utterly unqualified to be paid more than the meager civil servant salary they get. And since there will be a high turnover this will be the perfect place for every college grad to pick up that experience thing they are always so lacking on their resumes. This will in turn help the private sector sort the qualified from the incompetent so there will be more efficiency in the private sector. Trust me this line of logic when you work it out has no downside. Oh, and we save on federal, state, county, and city spending. So, less taxes.

Any other objection? Other than I’m stopping the time honored and Democratic Party and Union tradition of fleecing taxpayers and filling their own coffers? No? Didn’t think so.

There is no reason for government employees (at any level) to have unions. Scrap them.

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Filed under Government is corrupt, Laws the GOP should pass, Unions

Weekly Meditation

“He who cannot be ruffled by these (contacts of the senses with their objects), who is calm and even minded during pain and pleasure, he alone is fit to attain everlastingness!”
–Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 2 Verse 15. Translation by Paramanhasa Yogananda.

This week I thought I would switch source material and move to the Bhagavad-Gita. If you’re not familiar with the Gita it is one of the most important books in Hinduism. It is the story of a man named Arjuna despondent over having to fight a war and the response by the god Krishna in encouraging him to go out and fight. If that sounds like an overly simplistic plot, especially for a supposedly spiritual book, it is. The Gita is one of the most finely crafted allegorical texts in the world with each of its 700 verses having many deeper levels—primarily being that this is really the story of having the courage to fight our own lower natures and achieve enlightenment. Next to A Course in Miracles, I would say the Bhagavad-Gita is the most advanced spiritual text out there.

And while you can write whole essays on just about every verse (I would recommend Paramahansa Yogananda’s commentaries on the Gita if you’re interested) I have chosen the above verse for this week’s meditation. This quote at the beginning of Krishna’s teachings is about the rather low importance of the outside world to our inner growth. (This quote also stood out because it is just goddamn cold out there this week, and I too needed reminding that it was a transitory sense perception).

In many ways this is but an extension of the thought from last week. Our internal happiness is something that isn’t to be dictated by outside forces and stimuli. The trick is to be happy at all times and realize it is because you choose to be happy. Both when things are not going well—like having to walk outside in this ungodly cold—and this alone requires force of will. But also implied in this is that when things are pleasant and outside circumstances are good, we need to remember that we are not happy because of the outside world, but because we choose to be happy. It is this pleasant moments that are actually harder to maintain the realization that happiness is a choice, we need in those good moments that we are happy as a result of choice and not because the weather is nice or our most annoying coworker has left.

Try to keep this in mind when you’re both happy and unhappy this week and see if it isn’t easier to stay in a positive mood.

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Why Obama thinks we need government…

Here are the words of our President:
“There’s only so much a church can do to help all the families in need, all those who need help making a mortgage payment or avoiding foreclosure, or making sure their child can go to college. […] There’s only so much that a nonprofit can do to help a community rebuild in the wake of disaster. There’s only so much the private sector will do to help folks who are desperately sick to get the care that they need.
“And that’s why I continue to believe that in a caring and in a just society, government must have a role to play; that our values, our love and our charity must find expression not just in our families, not just in our places of work and our places of worship, but also in our government and in our politics.”

I pulled this off of an article where some liberal wanted to whine about Conservatives misusing the Constitution called “It’s my Constitution too”…To which I can only respond 1. This quote has nothing to do with the topic provided by the columnist, and 2. Yes it is your Constitution too; now why don’t you actually try to read it and follow it…you’ll be the first liberal in decades to do so…but back to this quote.

I agree with President Obama that there is only so much that the individuals, families, churches, non-profits and business can do in the face of tragedy and adversity. I agree with him completely. They have limited resources after all. But why do they have limited resources? Oh, that’s right they’re taxed on EVERYTHING! Sales, income, corporate, gas and deductions for pyramid schemes like social security, Medicaid and Medicare. People can only do so much because the government is fleecing them for every cent they earn!
If Obama wanted a just society he would let the free market and meritocracy work out the problem created by government intervention and the welfare state, there would be no end to what we could do. Americans are the most generous people on Earth in both terms of money and time donated to churches, causes and charities (don’t believe me, go read Who Really Cares by Arthur C. Brooks, pages upon pages of statistical data to back up that assertion…oh by the way conservatives are more charitable than liberals) and maybe we could be more charitable if a third of our year wasn’t spent coming up with money for the modern day Sherriff of Nottingham.
Oh and if we had our money back to give as we please we would be far more effective in our charity. Individuals do not give money to drug addicts…welfare does. Individuals do not go out of their way to help criminals and the worst society has to offer…welfare does. Individuals may be very giving in their charity but, unlike welfare and entitlement programs, there is an unspoken bargain being made: I will give you food or money or time or help, but you must use this to help make yourself a better person. No such bargain exists in getting entitlements from the government—and thus no improvement occurs.
What Obama should realize is that there is only so much government can do. It can only give money. Individuals, families, churches, non-profits and businesses can give help.

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Filed under Capitalism, Charity, Economics, Government is useless, Obama

It’s not our problem: The suicidal joys of Isolationism

“[America’s] previous attempts at isolationism were successful. Unfortunately, they were successful for Hitler’s Germany and Tojo’s Japan. Evil is an outreach program. A solitary bad person sitting alone, harboring genocidal thoughts, and wishing he ruled the world is not a problem unless he lives next to us in the trailer park. In the big geopolitical trailer park that is the world today, he does. America has to act.”—P.J. O’Rourke, Peace Kills: America’s Fun New Imperialism

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about getting out of world affairs in the wake of the current Middle East riot. As is always so popular in America, Isolationism seems to be making a comeback in the psyche of the nation. Great idea. Let’s take a look at how well isolationism has always worked in this country’s favor over the last century…
Coming off our crazy Manifest Destiny kick, Americans swung into a full isolationist mode in the early 20th century. So much so that when people started dying by the thousands in WWI we chose to do nothing. Thousand of soldiers—British, French, Italian, German, Austrian, to name a few—suffered in trenches with some of the most horrific conditions modern warfare has to offer. But it’s not America’s problem so we do nothing. The Ottoman Empire (ally of Germany and Austria) begins genocidally slaughtering Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks so brutally the Allies actually issue a statement using the words “crime against humanity” for the first time (so I doubt everyone in America was ignorant of this). America still does nothing, because still not our problem. Then one of our ships gets torpedoed while going through a war zone, so now it’s our problem. We come in with enough troops to end the war (if we had come in years earlier it would probably have ended the war then and spared thousands upon thousands suffering and death, but, oh, that’s right it wasn’t our problem at the time).
So World War I ends. President Wilson has a good idea in the form of a world organization to oppose tyranny and support democracy around the world, the League of Nations, but the isolationist quickly take power again in America and decide not to be a member of the organization. I’m not saying American participation in the League would have stopped World War II from happening, but explain to me how it would have hurt. So in the end the League of Nations is filled by almost nothing but countries that have pacifist views that will cower when anyone with a gun shows up.
The first major failure of this war weary League and America (both parties are equally guilty) is allowing the continuation of the Red Army in the former Russian Empire. World War I ended officially in 1919, but the Russian Civil War didn’t end until 1923, yet no one even really offered to help the White Army put down the communists (good call, because the Soviets didn’t cause any problems over the next 70 years or so). No, rather than actually take out the root of the problem at maybe the cost of a few thousand more lives for Western nations, here in America we chose the policy of going into a hysterical fit over the fear of communists in our country, mobilizing every federal and state power to track down what turned out to be nothing more than a few dozen radicals with access to gun powder and a rough skill in making bad mail bombs.( I’m not saying there weren’t Soviet agents ever in America, there were, but odds are they didn’t become entrenched until after the Russian Civil War was over.) So we’ll use police powers against our own people over the fear of a foreign nation but won’t actually deal with that foreign nation we fear, because it’s not our problem.
The next few years brought up other things that weren’t our problem. The Spanish Civil War, which allowed the country to fall to fascism. Italian aggression and empire building in Africa, but not our problem. The growing Maoist Army in China, not our problem. Invasion of China and Korea by Japan, not our problem. And dare we forget all those things Germany under Hitler did that weren’t our problem. Crimes against humanity each and every one of them. Not even counting the Holocaust, literally millions of people are being killed, raped, enslaved, and tortured. Americans can’t be that stupid to not know anything about this. Yes, many chose not to learn anything, just as nowadays many don’t bother to read about what goes on in the Sudan, because we know deep down if we knew we would be morally required to act, but American ignorance was one of choice, not one of lack of information (also much like how after we went into Germany all we found was a country filled with “Good Germans” who never knew what was going on in the concentration camps). And if all American’s were really that ignorant of these things, then how does one explain the very few Americans who went to all these wars to fight against fascism, to fight for what they believed to be right. They had to learn about it somewhere.
But these things weren’t our problem.
Then once again a weird thing happened. Low and behold after nearly every other nation who opposed fascism had fallen or was under siege, all of a sudden the fascists turned their eyes to us and it became our problem. Who could have guessed that an ideology founded on conquering the world would ever come to American shores. Completely unpredictable. So once again it suddenly became our problem again, and we went in and took down most of the bad guys. Then we went back to isolationist tendencies. Now some history buffs out there will call me crazy, because Truman’s post war policies could hardly be called isolationist—after all, we helped rebuild Western Europe and contained the Soviet Union. True, we contained the Soviet Union. This was isolationist in itself. Let’s go back to the day immediately following Japan’s surrender and look at the situation. You have Soviet Russia preparing to take total control of Eastern Europe as a “buffer zone” between them and Germany. Even at this point in history everyone knows Stalin is a worse butcher than Hitler. The bulk of the Soviet Army (devastated far more than the rest of the Allies by the war) is racing across Asia hoping to get a foothold into Japan and thus more land to control, thus leaving everything up to Moscow with minimal defenses. Gen. Patton (certainly not the most stable of men, but a strategic and tactical genius nonetheless) has this wacky plan to push the Russian army in Europe back to the Russian border if not destroy it completely. It was August, giving us at least a couple of months before those infamous Russian winters set in. Oh, and America was the only country that was a nuclear power at this point. It wouldn’t have been bloodless, but had the Allies decided to attack Soviet Russia it wouldn’t have been a long war, nor would it’s outcome been in the favor of communism. But we chose once again to not deal with a problem until it affected us.
We create the U.N., but then give two of the most evil governments in the world veto power to stop any action intended to stop their tyrannical ways.
Some more things that weren’t our problems after that. Eastern Europe is placed under a dictatorship as brutal and bloodthirsty as the one we just liberated them from. China, with Soviet help falls to communism. Tibet, after asking for U.S. help, receives no help and falls to Maoist butchers. The Soviet Union becomes a nuclear power (yes we did recognize that as our problem, but the fact is if we had recognized them as a problem a few years earlier, they wouldn’t have been around to become a nuclear threat). And after some half-hearted (I’m insulting the politician who made war policy, not the soldiers who fought) fighting we allow the communist to take North Korea (it’s not like allowing that one would ever lead to problems). Cuba also falls to communism, but not directly our problem, until low and behold communist from one part of the world start giving communist in another part of the world nuclear missiles.
So isolationism is not looking like a good option at this point to anyone who can count hundreds of millions tortured and killed as a direct result of it, but the U.S. still can’t give up it’s isolationist way. So we now try a kind of halfway isolationism. The use of the CIA to work behind the scenes and the use of the U.S. military only in “police actions.” The problem with police actions is if you have rules about when and where your troops can fire back at the enemy, and what lines they can cross, and just generally the falling short of fighting a real war then all you end up with is a lot of U.S. soldiers in body bags and a wall in D.C. commemorating the fact that despite being excellent soldiers, who never actually lost a real battle, politicians will make their deaths completely worth nothing by just leaving countries like Vietnam to communist governments.
Then Khmer Rouge takes over Cambodia and does things that might turn a Nazi’s stomach, but again, not our problem.
All this time it would take a whole book to recount all the bloody things being done in Africa that weren’t our problem.
Iran falls to a dictator whom we don’t support, falls to a dictator whom we do support, then falls to a radical Islamic cleric who no one in the world of the sane is not disturbed by. Our president at the time of this final change of power decides it’s best to be weak, and let them hold American hostages until he leaves office. But then again this is the same man whose grand stand against the invasion and resulting crimes against humanity in Afghanistan by the Soviets was best combated by boycotting the Olympics. Way to take a stand, Jimmy.
So we learned not to use police actions. So still not wanting to actually fight real wars, because it’s not really our problem, we just start arming people in their wars against our enemies. People like the rebel soldiers in Afghanistan to fight the communists (this guy named Bin Laden comes to mind), and people like Saddam Hussein to fight off Iran. I wonder if that policy ever came back to haunt us?
Oh wait, it did. Hussein invades other countries; we kick him out of Kuwait but leave him around for the next generation to deal with (incompetently I might add).
Our genius plan of dealing with the collapsing Soviet Union is to support whatever dictator comes along in the Balkans, which once again leads to genocide and U.S. troops having to go in under the cover of the U.N. (really wasn’t even our idea, it required Tony Blair twisting Clinton’s arm to get U.S. troops to go). And I’m still trying to figure out what drugs were being passed around when it came to our policies involving Russia itself, but the result was what it always is, let’s not get involved.
Then let’s try and help out in Africa, until a few bullets get fired (in a war zone of all places, who could have predicted that) and it’s decided that’s it’s better for a few soldiers to have died in vain, than to actually clear Somalia of the warlords.
Afghanistan falls to psychotic religious fanatics, not our problem. At least until the New York skyline gets a permanent makeover.
Is it just me, or does it seem that all of these things that aren’t our problem have a bad tendency of becoming our problem, and rather big problems at that? Ironic because they weren’t necessarily always big problems, in fact they would have been more easily dealt with problems back when it wasn’t our problem.
And let’s look at another pattern that seems apparent to me, when what wasn’t our problem becomes our problem we go in long enough to stop the current problem without sticking around long enough to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The few places we gone into with a plan and have stuck around in (Germany, Japan) seem to be pretty stable.
So no matter how you want to look at it isolationism on any country’s part, but especially one as large as the U.S. seems to lead to three things: (1) Torture (2) Death (3) and problems that become so big they do become our problems.

I’m not sure what should be done about Egypt, Yemin and Jordan right now, mostly because we need to wrap things up in Iraq and Afghanistan before further overextending ourselves…but not doing anything is a really dumb idea as history has shown.

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Laws the GOP should pass #11: Taxes and elections


Two things are happening right now. First the 2012 elections are starting—may all the current front runners crash, burn and be forgotten…not only because they’re kind of wasting our time this early, but also because all the front runners right not (Romney, Paul, Palin, Obama) are losers. But the other thing that’s starting to happen is that most of us are receiving that wonderful yearly reminded of highway robbery called your W-2. I got mine today and once again I’m back to my stated belief that being an employee of the IRS or Social Security Bureau should be a death penalty worthy crime (goddamn thieves, it’s a shame I don’t believe in Hell).

Anyway,

What do elections and taxes have to do with this week’s suggested law? Everything. But, you say taxes are on April 15th and elections are 6 and half months after that in early November…. Yeah they are. Think about it. These two dates that the government can arbitrarily decide on were placed as far apart from each as was humanly possible. Do you think there is a reason for that? Could it be that politicians know that sadly people have very short attention spans? Maybe, that if people still felt the bitter taste of paying taxes in their mouth, tax and spend liberals and spineless Republicans would never get reelected. Yeah, actually that’s probably it.

Which is why I suggest we move all national, state, county and city elections to April 15th. Hell I’d say we make it a Constitutional amendment that tax day and election day are on the exact same day.

Think of the kind of cost cutting politicians we’d get in Congress if you had these two events on the same day. Politicians campaign promises would sound like “In my six years in the Senate I brought not a single dime of tax raising pork back to this district and I promise I will cut the budget another 20% in my next term.” Politicians who spend money on non-essential expenditures will not last long. People will have a very clear vision of what welfare, social security, Medicaid, and Medicare are actually costing them. You do this and I can almost guarantee balanced budgets and low government debt within 10 years.

The only way to even improve on this is if we moved both election day and tax day to July 4th…a day which honors a time when people knew what to do to tax collectors and intrusive government.

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