2:00PM Water Cooler 12/9/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this Water Cooler will be a little short, partly because I have to finish a post on impeachment, and partly because I had a household emergency to deal with. –lambert


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

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Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart.

We have polls released over the weekend, so Ipsos is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 12/9/2019, 12:00 PM EST. Biden leads, Sanders strong second, Warren five points back (!), Buttigeig trailing. This seems to be an established pattern (or, if you prefer, narrative). On to the next debate (December 19), and Iowa:

This is still the latest result, as of 12/9/2019, 12:00 PM EST:

CAVEAT I think we have to track the polls because so much of the horse-race coverage is generated by them; and at least with these charts we’re insulating ourselves against getting excited about any one poll. That said, we should remember that the polling in 2016, as it turned out, was more about narrative than about sampling, and that this year is, if anything, even more so. In fact, one is entitled to ask, with the latest Buttigieg boomlet (bubble? (bezzle?)) which came first: The narrative, or the poll? One hears of push polling, to be sure, but not of collective push polling by herding pollsters. We should also worry about state polls with very small sample sizes and big gaps in coverage. And that’s before we get to the issues with cellphones (as well as whether voters in very small, very early states game their answers). So we are indeed following a horse-race, but the horses don’t stay in their lanes, some of the horses are not in it to win but to interfere with the others, the track is very muddy, and the mud has splattered our binoculars, such that it’s very hard to see what’s going on from the stands. Also, the track owners are crooked and the stewards are on the take. Everything’s fine.

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool “live.”

* * *

Biden (D)(1): “Joe Biden’s Family Has Been Cashing in on His Career for Decades. Democrats Need to Acknowledge That.” [The Intercept]. “While the Democrats purse the impeachment of President Donald Trump for pressuring foreign countries to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, they are left making an argument that is at once true and electorally and ethically compromising: What Trump did — and continues to do — was an impeachable abuse of power, and it should be considered separately from the question of what Hunter Biden did. The problem for Democrats is that a review of Hunter Biden’s career shows clearly that he, along with Joe Biden’s brother James, has been trading on their family name for decades, cashing in on the implication — and sometimes the explicit argument — that giving money to a member of Joe Biden’s family wins the favor of Joe Biden.”

Biden (D)(2): “Transcript: NPR’s Full Interview With Joe Biden” [NPR]. Fun interview:

To call someone a “damn liar”? A voter? This isn’t Trump, President Trump.

But he’s lying! He’s lying. You acknowledge what he said wasn’t even true. None of the mainstream media believes any of that was true.

I think it was the tone. I think it was the tone that was off-putting to people.

My mother would say, “God love you, dear.”

Truly giving zero f*cks. I think his voters like that about him.

Bloomberg (D)(1): Handy chart on buying the election:

Steyer must have sent a lot of Democrat strategist kids to college, with no other real result; perhaps the same will happen to Bloomberg.

Bloomberg (D)(2): “Bloomberg: Warren and Sanders Could’ve Been Billionaires, Too, If They’d Worked Hard Enough” [Vanity Fair]. “‘They’re criticizing me for it,’ Bloomberg said, explaining that he’d earned his wealth through years of hard work. ‘Ask them what they’re doing. Why didn’t they do that? They had a chance to go out and make a lot of money.’ Bloomberg argued that his deep pockets actually mean he can’t be bought, as he implied some of his rivals could. ‘I’m doing exactly the same thing they’re doing, except that I am using my own money,’ he said. ‘They’re using somebody else’s money, and those other people expect something from them.” • Like, for example, Sanders $27-a-pop donors?

Buttigieg (D)(1): “BREAKING: As a former corporate exec who worked with McKinsey, I may be able to shed light on one of @PeteButtigieg’s unnamed McKinsey clients, and why it’s very significant in this campaign” [Wendell Potter, Thread Reader]. “Now what does this have to do with @PeteButtigieg? In his description of his McKinsey work, he says he worked in Michigan at a “health insurance provider… performing analytical work… identifying savings in administration and overhead costs.” 4/13. To an old health insurance exec, those are code words that translate roughly to cutting costs through layoffs, restructuring, and potentially denying health coverage to those in need. 5/13″ • Read the whole thing.

Buttigieg (D)(2): “In Iowa, Pete Buttigieg faces new scrutiny over consulting work, policy ideas” [Des Moines Register]. “It’s unclear whether the scrutiny over the [McKinsey] NDA or the fundraisers is widespread in Iowa. Several likely caucusgoers at a town hall at Cornell College in Mount Vernon on Saturday said they hadn’t heard about either issue.”

Sanders (D)(1): “Watch: Bernie Sanders meets with the Register’s editorial board” (video) [Des Moines Register]. •

Sanders (D)(2): Yet another health care horror story:

Sanders (D)(3): “The “Bernie Blackout” Is in Effect — And It Could Help Sanders Win” (video) [Ryan Grim, The Intercept]. •

Warren (D)(1): “Warren made $1.9 million from corporate and financial legal work” [Politico]. “Elizabeth Warren — under pressure from rival Pete Buttigieg to reveal her past compensation from corporate clients — announced Sunday that she’s received $1.9 million from private legal work since 1986. The Massachusetts senator and former Harvard professor made the disclosure amid a tit-for-tat with Buttigieg over previous career assignments: Her legal representation of corporations, and his work at the corporate consulting firm McKinsey. Vying for pole position in Iowa, Warren and Buttitieg have sought to put one another on defense by suggesting the other had something to hide.” • A little less than $60K a year, which isn’t all that exciting. Presumably, somebody is digging into her filing.

* * *

“Warren and Biden lose ground, Sanders moves ahead in California’s shifting 2020 Democratic race” [Los Angeles Times]. “Sanders is in the nominal lead, as the first-choice pick of 24%; Warren is the first pick of 22%. That is a big change from September, when she led the field with 29%. Biden is the first choice of 14%, down six points from September. Buttigieg is preferred by 12%, up six points from September. The poll was taken before California Sen. Kamala Harris dropped out of the race.”


UPDATE “Inspector general’s report on Russia probe: key takeaways” [Politico]. “The Crossfire Hurricane team initially was waived [sic] off of applying for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant for Carter Page by high-level Justice Department officials. The officials said the team needed more evidence first that Page was an agent of a foreign power. But after receiving Steele’s report, which detailed alleged coordination between Page and the Kremlin in the summer of 2016, the team asked again and were allowed to move forward. While the agents did not have corroborating information to support Steele’s reporting, Horowitz found, he also ‘did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI’s decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page.'” • So Democrat oppo was laundered through the FISA court, but only with the best of intentions?

UPDATE Hoo boy:

This, I think, was to be expected, because Durham’s investigation has broader scope.

Stats Watch

There are no statistics of note today.

Employment Situation: “The Jobs Numbers: Who’s Hiring in America—and Who’s Not” [Bloomberg]. “U.S. employers added 266,000 jobs in November, and the nation’s unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, according to data released Friday by the Labor Department. Meanwhile, average hourly pay for workers rose 3.1 percent from a year earlier, to $28.29 from $27.43…

Banking: “‘I lost my £193,000 inheritance – with one wrong digit on my sort code'” [Guardian]. “It is the stuff of financial nightmares. You get one digit wrong on the sort code, and send a huge amount of cash to the wrong person. They refuse to return it, and the bank washes its hands of the matter, blaming you for the mistake. That’s what happened to Peter Teich in a case that reveals shocking lapses in Britain’s banking system. Just hours after a solicitor sent the Cambridge resident his £193,000 inheritance after the death of his 100-year-old father, it became apparent that a terrible mistake had been made.” • Once again, paging Clive. The story does have a happy ending, although initially Barclay’s made “a small token gesture of £25.”

Commodities: “As Shale Boom Stalls, Houston Looks to Health Care for Job Growth” [Bloomberg]. “The civic group forecasts 4,000 oilfield jobs will disappear by the end of next year. Although the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale regions are hundreds of miles away, Houston is the locus of corporate and finance operations that direct and support the drilling. Cutbacks are expanding to investment banks and trucking firms as investors increase pressure on explorers to tighten budgets…. Almost 60 million square feet of office space is empty, a vacancy rate of more than 26%, according to the report.”

The Bezzle: “State Police: cruiser struck by Tesla 3 in “autopilot” mode” [Fox61]. “As [the troopers] waited for a tow truck, a 2018 Tesla Model 3, bearing CT Reg. “MODEL3”, struck the rear of one cruiser and then continued north striking the disabled motor vehicle. The Tesla continued to slowly travel northbound before being stopped several hundred feet ahead by the second Trooper on scene… The driver of the Tesla stated that he had his vehicle on “auto-pilot”, and explained that he was checking on his dog in the back seat prior to hitting the collision.” •

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 69 Greed (previous close: 70 Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 74 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Dec 9 at 1:02pm. Stuck.

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I wonder when, in 2020, the index will start flirting with 190 again. So far, the latest impeachment push hasn’t affected the Index.

The Biosphere

“The World Solved the Ozone Problem. It Can Solve Climate Change.” [Editorial Board, New York Times]. “The bottom line is that the world, confronted with two dire threats to the earth’s fragile atmosphere, found two planetary responses with positive outcomes. The ozone layer is healing. That’s worth remembering as we struggle, often despairingly, to find common ground in the battle against climate change. Compared with the manifold complexities of global warming, dealing with ozone depletion was, in fact, relatively simple. But the key point is that it happened, and it’s worth asking why the world has not responded with similar resolve in dealing with the main global warming gases like carbon dioxide, about which we have known a lot for a long time.” • As a meliorist, I agree (for some definition of “solve”). But maybe 50 years ago we weren’t run by elites whose first thought would have been to put a meter on the ozone layer, instead of just saving it.

“Permafrost Hits a Grim Threshold” [Counterpunch]. “For tens of thousands of years the Arctic’s carbon sink has been a powerful dynamic in functionality of the Earth System. However, that all-important functionality has been crippled and could be permanently severed. According to new research based upon field observations conducted from 2003 to 2017, a large-scale carbon emission shift in the Earth System has occurred. The ‘entire Arctic’ now emits more carbon than it absorbs, a fact that can only be described as worse than bad news. ‘Given that the Arctic has been taking up carbon for tens of thousands of years, this shift to a carbon source is important because it highlights a new dynamic in the functioning of the Earth System,’ says Susan Natali at Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts (Source: Thawing Permafrost Has Turned the Arctic Into a Carbon Emitter, NewScientist, Oct. 21, 2019).”

“Oceans losing oxygen at unprecedented rate, experts warn” [Guardian]. “Dead zones – where oxygen is effectively absent – have quadrupled in extent in the last half-century, and there are also at least 700 areas where oxygen is at dangerously low levels, up from 45 when research was undertaken in the 1960s…. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature presented the findings on Saturday at the UN climate conference in Madrid, where governments are halfway through tense negotiations aimed at tackling the climate crisis.”

“How to live with mega-fires? Portugal’s feral forests may hold the secret” [National Geographic]. “Portugal, like the wider Mediterranean, was suffering from the confluence of two long-term trends: a sweeping abandonment of a rural landscape that had become economically irrelevant, coupled with a widespread governmental unwillingness to live with fire. ‘And if your aim is to exclude fire from this ecosystem,” he says, “you are doomed to fail.’ … At the turn of the century Portugal had 2 percent tree cover; by the late 20th century it had shot up to nearly a third. The reason, Oliveira says, was this: In the 1950s, synthetic materials made from petroleum replaced plant and animal fiber, and chemical solvents and fertilizers made from petroleum and inorganic chemicals replaced forest products like pitch, peat, or pine needles, Factory farming replaced meat from hunting or domestic animals— cows, sheep, pigs goats—pastured in the forest. As rural people withdrew from the land that once filled their basic needs, the trees returned, and with them came fire.” • So Portugal’s problems are not California’s.

“Florida Keys Deliver a Hard Message: As Seas Rise, Some Places Can’t Be Saved” [New York Times]. “The law generally requires local governments to maintain roads and other infrastructure, because failure to do so will reduce the property value of surrounding homes, according to Erin Deady, a lawyer who specializes in climate and land-use law and is a consultant to the county on adapting to rising seas. But local officials retain the right to decide whether or not to upgrade or enhance that infrastructure. What’s unclear, Ms. Deady said, is whether raising a road to prevent it from going underwater is more akin to maintaining or upgrading. That’s because no court has yet ruled on the issue.” • On the one hand, obviously. On the other, I am extremely leery of 10%-ers and 1%-ers making these decisions, because I think lifeboat thinking will be just another version of austerity.


“Recent UA study confirms groundwater pumping is drying up Arizona rivers” [AZ Central]. “Groundwater pumping has caused stream flow in U.S. rivers to decline by as much as half over the last century, according to new research by a University of Arizona hydrologist that strengthens the connection between groundwater and surface water. The research confirms that groundwater losses, primarily due to pumping water from below the surface for agricultural and municipal uses, decrease the overall surface water supply and have caused some smaller streams to dry up. This has a downstream effect that influences water levels far beyond the groundwater pumping location.” • With case studies of the Santa Cruz and San Pedro rivers.

Groves of Academe

“Indicted USC Administrator Involved Colleagues In Her Private Dealings” [LAist]. “When the “Varsity Blues” admissions bribery scandal broke in March, the University of Southern California declared itself as a victim of fraud, asserting it had no reason to believe that senior administrators were aware of the wide-ranging scam, which helped unqualified students gain entry to USC by way of bogus application materials. Now, new details about Donna Heinel, the senior associate athletic director who prosecutors say was a key conduit in the scheme, shed light on just how expansive her role within the athletics department was — and on whether USC monitored her activities closely enough…. Heinel ran a thriving side business that was tightly entwined with her duties at USC and involved more athletics department personnel than has been publicly known… The private business, called Clear the Clearinghouse, profited from events it hosted on university property and featured USC coaches as speakers, according to documents and interviews. At least one coach who spoke at forums organized by Heinel said he thought he was speaking at university events, not giving talks on behalf of a private business. These revelations raise questions not only about how Heinel’s and Garfio’s consulting work may have blurred the lines between their private business and their university affiliation — but also about how rigorously USC monitored financial activity inside its athletics office.” • I’m sure Heinel’s salary was not low. She is, after all, an administrator.

Guillotine Watch

For Saturnalia:

Class Warfare

Once more, Uber leads the way:

“Climate Disaster Is a Labor Issue. Here’s Why.” [Kim Kelly, Teen Vogue (!)]. “Make no mistake: The coal miner and pipeline worker know about the environmental costs of their labor, but when faced with the choice of feeding their kids or putting down their tools in the name of saving the planet, the pressures of capitalism tend to win; their choice is made for them. That is why it’s so important to dismantle the structures that force these impossible decisions and offer instead real, equitable alternatives to those whose livelihoods depend on industries that harm the earth.”

News of the Wired

“A Woman Wore A “Hail Satan” T-Shirt On A Plane. American Airlines Forced Her To Change Or Get Off The Plane.” [Buzzfeed]. “After she’d gotten settled in her seat and was happily reading a copy of New York magazine, a crew member approached her and told her she had to change or get off the plane. ‘He said, ‘Our crew has found your shirt to be offensive,” said Goyal. ‘We initially just thought it was a joke. But he repeated the directive, and there was another female crew member who was behind him with her arms crossed looking very angry.’ Goyal and her husband refused to get off the plane. ‘The man said, ‘Your shirt is offensive. Do you know what that means?” Goyal said. ‘I said, ‘I’m a foreign-born minority woman, I understand ‘offensive,’ and this shirt is not offensive…. Later, Goyal told BuzzFeed News the airline had called and offered to refund both tickets, and assured her that the investigation remained ongoing.” • Good.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi and coral are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (ChiGal):

ChiGal: “One thing, the iPhone camera beats Motorola hands down. A benefit of de-googling.” Gorgeous! Maybe I should run a “bee and flower” contest next summer. I find that shot very difficult to take!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. BoyDownTheLane





      1. slide ruler

        Probably an artifact of the screen shot, but the Partners door looks to be an inch taller….

        1. a different chris

          Well yeah that’s to account for the nutritional difference of the relative lifestyles, as we return to the practices (if not the industry) of the Industrial Age.

  2. toshiro_mifune

    A Woman Wore A “Hail Satan” T-Shirt On A Plane …. 16 yr old me would have loved that shirt.

    1. Gary

      Correct me if I am wrong but doesn’t freedom of religion mean freedom from everyone else’s religion?

      1. inode_buddha

        No, it means the government cannot establish an official state religion, no endorse any. Basically they cannot get involved.

        1. Lee

          Not allowing a valid ticket holder to fly might be construed as a violation of a property right and therefore a illegally discriminatory act not dissimilar to denying, for instance a Sikh, a seat on a flight because someone aboard has an irrational fear or hatred of people who wear turbans. But i’ll be damned if I let my little grand kids sit next to a Catholic priest!

          1. inode_buddha

            Yes, but the airline is not the government and is under no obligation to follow the Bill of Rights. The only thing they have to follow is the UCC and the FAA, in which case they are obligated to refund the ticket price.

            1. D. Fuller

              Religious organizations report themselves as such under IRS code.

              The government is already involved.

              What constitutes a religious organization requiring exempt status… requires government involvement.

              Commercial operation of a business that caters to the public is covered by State and Federal Law, however.

              Any business wishing to exercise religious exemptions to providing business to the public should be required to operate as a private club with due-paying members. Where only due-members are patrons of the religious business. Strict requirements to be a dues-paying member should be mandatory.

              It is an elegant solution and one that brooks no misinterpretation. The strict requirements for being a dues-paying member would avoid any ambiguity as to whether or not the private religious business is attempting to circumvent laws in order to sell to the public at large.

              1. Stephen V.

                Sorry but 501 (c)3 exempt status is optional for churches. Churches were originally tax exempt before the law came about.
                Perhaps most do obtain tax exemption–I don’t know.

        2. D. Fuller

          Yet, neither should the government allow religious discrimination in businesses catering to the public. After all, all businesses are creations of The State as in, State Law. Last time anyone checked? States governments are not religious governments.

          If this were a private business – an airline catering only to club members of a specific religion? Fine. Let them discriminate against non-club members. Then again, that airline would probably only consist of a Piper Cub unless it was a televangelist allowing the use of his Gulfstream.

          This is how it should be.

          The fact that businesses are creations of the State should preclude ANY unreasonable discrimination. No shirt, no shoes, no service would be reasonable. Religious discrimination would be unreasonable. A public business is not a house of worship… it is a public business entity.

          Businesses, as creations of the State? Would have NO RIGHTS. Citizens United would never happen. Businesses would only be assigned those rights by their State of incorporation or The Federal Government should businesses operate over State lines.

          US corporate law is a complete and utter mess of inanity and fraud.

      2. toshiro_mifune

        If I’ve learned 1 thing in my time here in America (and I may not have) it is “Freedom of Religion” should come with the footnote “As long as it isn’t too different from mainstream Protestantism/Catholicism”.
        In the same way that “Freedom of Speech” should have the footnote “But, watch what you say”.

  3. Hana M

    Awesome work by the Chicago Tribune getting Afghanistan war documents released. ” Some U.S. officials wanted to use the war to turn Afghanistan into a democracy. Others wanted to transform Afghan culture and elevate women’s rights. Still others wanted to reshape the regional balance of power among Pakistan, India, Iran and Russia.

    “With the AfPak strategy there was a present under the Christmas tree for everyone,” an unidentified U.S. official told government interviewers in 2015. “By the time you were finished you had so many priorities and aspirations it was like no strategy at all.”


    1. inode_buddha

      I wonder if anyone bothered to ask the Afghans if they wanted or needed any of these things.

    2. Hana M

      My apologies. It was the Washington Post that got the court-ordered release. I guess I’m guilty of anti-WP prejudice.

      1. Louis Fyne

        I’m surprised an editor didn’t quash the story—-as Obama and bally-hoo’ed deep state/DC permanent bureaucracy are the one who comes out the worst.

        Guess TDS was so rampant at the editors’ desks that they didn’t think through the implications on prior presidents.

    3. nycTerrierist


      “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who was the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015.

      “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking,” Lute added, according to the report.”


      1. Hana M

        Way, way back in the early post 9/11 days, very soon after Operation Whatever was launched, I asked a friend who had spent several years in Afghanistan as a Peace Corps volunteer for his opinion. Len loved the country and its people, returned whenever he could, and stayed in touch with many–some of whom came to the US and became citizens.

        In my naivete I was thinking ‘oh, yes, let’s bring back civilization!’ I’ll never forget Len’s answer: “What are we going to do? Bomb the place back into the stone age? For Americans it’s an impossible place and the people are impossible–wonderful but impossible. We’ll never do anything good there.”

        There were plenty of voices and witnesses who saw the truth yet no one who could have stopped things listened, no one in power was willing to see.

    4. Katniss Everdeen

      As if anyone paying attention didn’t know all this already, but jesus, that Chicago Tribune article is infuriating.

      In addition, I would remind everyone of pelosi’s cheeky admission this past weekend that she “knew” there were no WMD in Iraq, yet failed to stop ANOTHER war based on the claim that there were.

      This should put paid to the ostensible “debunking” of a number of “conspiracy theories” over the years, based on the fact that so many people would have to have been involved that those “conspiracies” would have been impossible to keep quiet.

      I wonder if these revelations will shoot Tulsi Gabbard’s political stock to the moon as it should.

      1. pretzelattack

        i don’t know how much of a secret the democrats’ going along with the charade was, though.. pelosi may never have admitted as much, but it was obvious. of course they’ll lie about it, in between calls to put more pressure on russia.

      2. VietnamVet

        Modern propaganda works. Like LBJ and Vietnam, President Trump can’t look like a loser, but he still can’t find a way out. But so far, the war with Iran has been avoided.

        There are no protests of the endless wars and impeachment. Information control is ruthless and monolithic. You are a conspiracist if you point out Joe Biden was the pointman for restarting the Cold War. Wall Street is dependent on capital flight from the spreading chaos and keeping the dollar as the reserve currency. The American Empire is doing everything short of a nuclear war to remain the hegemon. American lower classes are suffering from low wages and dying young due to the Meritocracy that has never had it so good except perhaps in the Roaring 20s and the Gilded Age. The Big Lie lives.

        Excessive defense spending, their Afghanistan War and lies were exploited by the party mangers to fell the Soviet Union and arise as oligarchs following in the footsteps of the Reagan/Thatcher counter revolt. The Obama and Clinton families did this to gain their wealth but to a lesser extent. Are omissions of facts part and parcel of corporate state’s Psych Operation to keep a lid on any unrest or is it just innate that every Empire looses consent of the governed as it falls into autocracy?

    5. D. Fuller

      The flaw of Western leaders: inside every Afghani is a Westerner waiting to get out.

      Ummm… cultural differences, religious beliefs, and customs be damned. Too many idealogical chiefs with grand designs (short on details and plans) sticking their fingers in the pie. Despite their complete lack of any understanding of Afghani society.

      Iran was pretty much the same. In part Westernization (gentrification) under the Shah led to a huge backlash. Why, L. Paul Bremer (yes, THAT L. Paul Bremer) was bragging 3 or 4 days before the US embassy in Tehran was overrun… that Ayatollah Khomeni was not opposed to Western businesses and indeed would be quite cooperative.

      Iraq? Another mess created through any lack of understanding of society and the social dynamics of the country.

      Libya? Needs a strongman like Quaddafi. Whether we like it or not. That is how Arabic societies are, in general.

      India is an interesting case. 150 years of British occupation to establish a semblance of tradition of democracy. The US? Our TRADITIONS date back to The Magna Carta (1215), with foundations in Roman Law.

      In the past, it has taken CENTURIES to establish traditions that are favorable to develop a democracy. Maybe it will take many, many decades under ideal conditions – none of which exist in most of the world – to establish those traditions. Technology, specifically communications, allows for the spread of information and thought. Thus possibly speeding up the process. This would require that established democracies serve as that “shining city on the hill” for the transmission of such democratic thought. Quite frankly, Western democracies are more recently the “shining sewer on the hill”.

    1. pjay

      I’d love to believe that Durham comment is significant; Barr made a similar statement. But I just can’t get too hopeful about anyone in the CIA or its various foreign intelligence assets being exposed or punished. They almost never are. And Barr’s earlier career in the Reagan and Bush I administrations involved making sure that they didn’t.

      I hope I’m wrong.

      1. jsn

        Yes, this looks to me like Barr setting himself up as kingpin.

        Hope he’s not as sturdy as Hoover or Dulles we’re back in the day.

  4. Hepativore

    So, I have cautious optimism for the Sanders campaign. Various media outlets have stepped up their efforts to smear and sand-bag Bernie Sanders and it seems to have backfired. Still, I think that the best thing for Sanders to do right now, is to run campaign ads and give speeches focusing specifically on the concerns and issues facing senior citizens. While Sanders has overwhelming support among people middle-aged and younger, the older demographic still is heavily skewed towards that of establishment Democrats. This is also the demographic that is most likely to actually vote, as voter turnout among younger people has traditionally been poor.

    Sanders needs to hammer home the fact that the corporate democrats are certainly no friends of senior citizens, as Biden, Obama, and Clinton have tried to cut Social Security several times in the past. If Biden is elected, I am sure that he would also try to push through a “Grand Bargain” again. Rising medical costs also disproportionately affect older people as do the costs of assisted living and nursing home centers which are also skyrocketing. I am not sure how much of this demographic is too far gone in terms of being too set in its ways to change its mind about Sanders, but I think that is where a lot of his effort should go at this point.

    Still, I am worried about Sanders suddenly having an “accident” to take him out of the race. This is paranoid, I know, but he has rubbed so much of the caviar and Marg-A-Lago crowd the wrong way, that somebody might arrange for Sanders to have a mishap.

    Finally, does anybody have any recent numbers in terms of how Sanders is polling in Iowa? Now that Warren has dropped off a lot in the national polls and Sanders has experienced a small surge as of late, I wonder if he is still in the lead for Iowa.

    1. russell1200

      Being too obvious about your criticism of the Obama-Clinton Nexus just gets you in a world of hurt. Sanders has it bad, but I don’t think it is quite as bad as Tulsi. Granted Tulsi, because of her low numbers, is a much safer person to pick on.

    2. John k

      Tulsi enrages the elites with anti wars, which sanders might agree with but his focus has been much more on domestic, smart bc that’s where the votes are.
      Agreed he should talk about protecting ss from Corp dems and reps.
      Young already participating much more in 2018, imo his results will surprise and dismay elites… though some suspect, maybe why Bloomberg jumped in to save the nations billionaires.

      1. urdsama

        That’s not exactly a fair comparison. The day a smoker doesn’t add pollution to the air in my immediate vicinity, is the day I’m okay with them being anywhere.

        Until then, no.

        1. Global Misanthrope

          Giant eye roll. Assuming, that is, that you drink water, breathe air, eat food, take pharmaceuticals, drive a car, fly…If not, my bad.

        2. Fiery Hunt

          Yep….Amfortas and jax and I know.
          It’s your world and us smokers (and Satanists and atheists) are subject to your preferences. Regardless of how we attempt to accommodate you.

  5. RopeADope

    Bloomberg (D)(2): “Bloomberg: Warren and Sanders Could’ve Been Billionaires, Too, If They’d Worked Hard Enough”

    Bloomberg is so full of it I am amazed he isn’t run out of town.

    Blair Fix wrote a paper that explains why Bloomberg is wrong to term it “working hard enough” and that Bloomberg and nearly every other billionaire was a happy accident due to their position within a hierarchical network.


    1. The Historian

      I have a problem with people who think that being a billionaire is the ultimate measure of human worth. Let’s hope that other nonbillionaires do too.

    2. jrs

      Oh Warren could have been a billionaire? Exactly how many women billionaires are there compared to males? (ok very few people are billionaires period, but just a reality check your privilege here for a clueless rich white male).

      Sanders meanwhile was off pursuing the public service thingy. I don’t know whatever got into him.

    3. Michael

      When Paul Wellstone was alive he joked that when he retired, he would be one of the few people in the Senate who would not have a juicy industry lobbying job waiting for him.

      In my opinion his problem was that he was very charismatic and could persuade conservative people to vote for him. This was during the run-up to the genocide in Iraq.

      You can see where that got him.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      The implicit notion here is that Sanders, Warren or anybody must want to be a billionaire.

      The fact that power corrupts doesn’t just apply to other people. Some are smart enough to realize that too much money would corrupt them too and they simply don’t want it. People like Bloomberg just can’t fathom that idea.

  6. pebird

    Trying to think of the best way to improve Biden’s bus:

    Option 1: “No Malarkey, Dagnammit”

    Option 2: “Joe Malarkey”

  7. Kurt Sperry

    I wore my Corbyn swooshtika t-shirt on a flight from Seattle to London and it clearly affected some of the people on the plane. Half the cabin staff smiled; the other half frowned.

  8. Judith

    For people in New Hampshire and environs – two Bernie events this week, from my email:

    Rally in Nashua with Rep. Ilhan Omar and Bernie Sanders
    Friday, December 13
    Event starts at 7:00 p.m.
    Nashua Community College Gym
    505 Amherst St
    Nashua, NH 03063

    Town Hall in Manchester with Rep. Ilhan Omar and Bernie Sanders
    Friday, December 13
    Event starts at 1:00 p.m.
    Southern New Hampshire University, Small Gymnasium
    2500 N River Road
    Manchester, NH 03106

    1. JohnnyGL

      Very good turnout at canvassing organizing event in Nashua this past weekend. 100+ door-knockers. They had to get an extra bus.

  9. dcrane

    UPDATE “Inspector general’s report on Russia probe: key takeaways” [Politico].

    Hilariously, the writer waits until near the end to mention that Christopher Steele was friendly with Ivanka Trump for years. Completing the circle of absurdity.

  10. jsn

    “To an old health insurance exec, those are code words that translate roughly to cutting costs through layoffs, restructuring, and potentially denying health coverage to those in need. 5/13″

    Private death panels good: public death panels bad.

      1. D. Fuller

        Note: the use of “you” doesn’t mean you specifically.

        Death panels…

        Former Aetna Medical Director Admits To Never Reviewing Medical Records Before Denying Care
        -one person “death panel”

        What Is a Cost-Benefit Analysis in Healthcare?
        -computerized “death panel”.

        Rationing… if you can’t afford the Platinum policy? You must accept lower levels of care and coverage. Rationing based upon your income and the affordability of insurance. And let’s not forget about private insurance only covering so many visits to specialists. Or co-pays? Can’t afford co-pays? Too bad. Die.

        Think you have choice in doctors? The only choice a consumer according to private health insurance – you are not a patient according to private health insurers, but a CONSUMER – are the narrow network of your insurer.

        It is amazing how so many Americans are brainwashed into thinking that they have choice, in health insurance.

        Even private health insurance smacks of Socialism. People with private health insurance don’t pay their medical bills in full. The private insurance – after performing a cost-benefit analysis and subject to approval of an executive whose bonus depends on denial of health care, upon determining that the doctor was in the insurer’s narrow network – pays out of a pool of money funded by their entire insured base.

        Want some malarkey?


        The key to efficient market outcomes is that prices reflect costs of production. The market for health care does not operate that way. is one of the doozies in there.

          1. jsn

            That came off harsh. Not “you”, as you said, sorry!

            Rule 2, “go die”, is policy for private medical insurance, preferably the minute you get sick after years as a healthy mark: no person, no cost.

            Stalinist in it’s simple clarity.

  11. XXYY

    “Warren made $1.9 million from corporate and financial legal work”

    She and her husband’s total net worth is over $12 million, according to Forbes.

    1. T

      How plainly are corporate and financial defined? As a dumb person, it appears she created a category based on whatever and things could easily be missing or misstated.

      Assuming she’s avoiding uappealing associations, not ill-gotten zillions.

      Or perhaps just accustomed to Warren having a weird weasel angle in everything she does.

      Does corporate have a specific meaning, like sea-level or intra-state?

      1. D. Fuller

        As I recall, insider trading ain’t illegal if you are a Congresscritter.

        Or a corporate executive timing bonus stock sales to announcements of stock buybacks by their corporate employer.

      2. MJ

        Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) was charged with insider trading. He pleaded guilty and resigned his seat last September.

  12. XXYY

    “Florida Keys Deliver a Hard Message: As Seas Rise, Some Places Can’t Be Saved” NYT

    Manhattan Island comes to mind, perhaps to Times editors as well.

    1. dcblogger

      Paul Volker was the worst appointment Jimmy Carter ever made. Volker kick started the destruction of the middle class.

      1. Roger Boyd

        Agreed, together with Reagan’s takedown of the Air Traffic Controllers Union, started the destruction of the unions in the US.

        1. pretzelattack

          the democrats didn’t need volker or carter for that matter to start the destruction of the middle class. the heyday imo was in the 50’s, when the u.s. due to historical circumstances was the empire of the moment, but that wasn’t going to last. the empire just fed on other people in other parts of the world for a while. capitalism was always going to come home to roost.

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘capitalism was always going to come home to roost.’ should be

            capitalism was always going to come home to feed.

            There – all fixed now.

            1. pretzelattack

              yeah, the last juicy morsels were never going to be protected. “but the democrats will protect us” as if.

  13. Goyo Marquez

    Re: FISA warrant for Carter Page
    “So Democrat oppo was laundered through the FISA court, but only with the best of intentions?“

    Perhaps a better conclusion is: Wow, judges are so lazy/indifferent/politicized, that they give surveillance warrants out at the drop of a hat.

    1. Pat

      Or that appointment to the FISA court bench is dependent on being a rubber stamp for the intelligence agencies.

  14. Pat

    Having been a constituent of Michael Bloomberg’s for many years I have no problem saying that he has missed a big aspect of people who expect something from you as a politician. Not only do the people who vote for you expect something, but even those who don’t but have to live under your choices do.

    I realize that he didn’t put it that way, but I also have no problem saying that he will have no problem ignoring people to whom he is or isn’t beholden along with anyone else who is not of his class who doesn’t confirm his opinions.

  15. Iapetus

    “Bloomberg: Warren and Sanders Could’ve Been Billionaires, Too, If They’d Worked Hard Enough”

    Ugh. No to disparage Bloomberg’s high quality news, and terminal data, but Mayor Mike is most likely a billionaire because of the SEC’s decision to abolish fixed-rate securities trading commissions in May 1975 (often referred to as ‘May Day’). Prior to this, all trades made on the New York Stock Exchange were executed for the same commission price per share, and brokers regularly took an additional 2% or more for themselves on these trades. The SEC mandate eventually dropped commission prices to pennies per share and led to the creation of discount brokers. What this meant for buy side investment advisors was that they now had a fiduciary responsibility to seek to obtain the best price and execution for their securities transactions, and if they didn’t this might constitute fraud. A loophole was soon created, Section 28(e) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which established a safe harbor for money managers who use client funds to purchase brokerage and research services for their managed accounts. What this meant is that managers could pay higher commissions, or direct lots of commissions to a single broker, if the broker helped them pay for ‘research services’.

    Enter the Bloomberg terminal. An investment advisor could now guarantee Goldman Sachs $10 million in trading commissions per year, if Goldman promised to pay for Bloomberg terminals and research services that are say $1 million or 10% of this amount. As a consequence the commission per share paid to investment banks dropped significantly, but their allocated share of trade commissions from the largest investment managers remained relatively unchanged. These Soft Dollar agreements were negotiated with all the major investment banks. This is why Bloomberg was for decades able to charge thousands of dollars per terminal and not have any customers balk at his price. By the time these soft dollar agreements became obsolete, Bloomberg had already established its pricing, its infrastructure, and a low cost way to distribute its data (now online instead of via coaxial cables). The rest is history.

    New Regulation, and a related collaboration with investment banks that wanted to maintain their commission revenues is what really turbocharged the profitability of Bloomberg’s niche business.

  16. EarlErland

    House Democrats are talking up the potential for “Obstruction of Justice” and “Obstruction of Congress” Impeachment articles because of Trump’s refusal to to roll over on subpoenas issued by the (so called) Intelligence Committee.

    In his NPR interview today, Biden was asked – twice- if he would obey a subpoena to testify at the Senate Trial. Twice he said no:

    “I have to ask you about what’s happening right now. President Trump is in the process of being impeached. The Senate trial is pending. Republicans have suggested that they might call you or your son, Hunter Biden. If you are subpoenaed, would you comply?

    No. I’m not going to let you take the eye off the ball here. Everybody knows what this is about. This is a Trump gambit he plays. Whenever he’s in trouble, he tries to find someone else to divert attention to.

    But this is a real thing that’s happening. Republicans are suggesting that they would subpoena you and President Trump — these issues will be parsed out in the Senate trial.

    That’s right.

    But the question is, would you comply with the subpoena?

    No, I will not yield to what everybody is looking for here. And that is to take the eye off the ball.”

    The Intercept article linked today asks if it is wise to nominate Biden given he cannot make a “clean” argument about Trump’s corruption based on his family’s grifter history. Add this to the mix.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Joe Biden is Democrat Trump.

      Openly corrupt, while denying the patently obvious reality, giving zero ground to his critics and zero f@#ks. As Lambert says, this kind of unapologetic streak has appeal.

  17. Danny

    Ever notice how (Major)Tulsi Gabbard does not compare her multiple tours of combat and counting the bodies of servicemen to the service record of other candidates, who voted for the wars?
    e.g. “Mr. Biden, You never served, and are a draft dodger.”

    Wedding-ring tested bravery Buttigieg?,
    “Military documents obtained by The Hill provide a glimpse into Pete Buttigieg’s time as a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan, a key portion of his biography that sets him apart from the pack of 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.
    (Like Tulsi does not exist?)

    “Buttigieg has written at length about “In a ritual to be repeated dozens of times, I would wave a gloved goodbye to the Macedonian gate guard,” Buttigieg wrote. “My vehicle would cross outside the wire and into the boisterous Afghan city, entering a world infinitely more interesting and ordinary and dangerous than our zone behind the blast walls at ISAF headquarters.”

    “The Hill reviewed Buttigieg’s certificate of release from active duty and a counseling report…Military officials who reviewed the documents for The Hill note that he likely did not engage in direct combat, which would have earned him a Navy combat ribbon.”


    1. Darthbobber

      An online survey. Presumably because more accepted methods failed to yield the desired result.

  18. JohnnyGL


    I like Kyle a lot, but he seems confused about why you push politicians to co-sponsor bills. You do it to bind them to a position….then punish them when they don’t stick to that position.

    He doesn’t seem to get that this is working as effectively as it should, too. Harris was the ‘1st to co-sponsor Bernie’s M4A bill’. Warren co-sponsored, too. Both made a big fuss about it.

    When Harris back-tracked on her support….she was punished for lacking authenticity to the point that it was a big part of sinking her campaign (among other issues, of course, but her health care plan rollout was poor). Warren’s been getting punished as she’s rolled out a distinctly ‘not M4A plan’, also.

    This is how you exercise power….you force politicians into a corner and then punish them for reneging on those positions. M4A advocates should be cheering these results. It’s going to make future candidates weary of betraying our cause.

    Biden, specifically, has been authentic and consistent, but he’s just wrong, of course. I think that is an understated reason behind his strange buoyancy in the polls.

    It’s good to see insincerity punished in the democratic party after years of Obama gaslighting everyone.

    1. aj

      But this one has heated cup-holders. And that one has folding seats. And this other one has folding heater cups. It’s all about choices silly. :)

    2. D. Fuller

      Joke in Russia:

      What the West said about Communism is true. Unfortunately, what the Communists said about Capitalists is also true.

      I like buying my “Smokers Package” for a new vehicle that costs $95 despite that the smoker’s package consists of a $2 cup ash-tray and a $4 cigarette lighter.

      No, not really. I don’t buy the smoker’s package. I end up spending $6.

      1. rowlf

        I was in Germany soon after Reunification when Trabants were like the car with no US healthcare insurance… hmm… how to glue the car image to the insurance product?

    3. makedoanmend

      The Bolseviks also created a vast and affordable public service transport network throughout their empire. Hell, even the vile Stalin began construction of the subway system in Moscow during his reign of terror.

      Unfortunately, many of the services quickly disappeared during the “reforms” of the early 1990s, and to this day a free-market believer like Putin is allowing some of Russia’s much heralded long distance trains servicea to be axed in the holy name of markets. Some people have fancy modelled cars these day, many more have crap second hand cars, and many rely on spotty privatised services or on their thumbs for transportation.

  19. Riverboat Grambler

    “Bloomberg argued that his deep pockets actually mean he can’t be bought, as he implied some of his rivals could. ”

    That’s what Trump said.

    1. Massinissa

      I am amused that Bloomberg has highest unfavorable rating. Wonder if that’s fixable by lighting money on fire or not.

      I kind of doubt it.

    2. richard

      I love where the face of mayo pete is covering up the part of the graph where sanders pulls back ahead of warren.

  20. JohnnyGL


    Overall, decent interview. But, ugh, 19min into this interview and David Harvey says Russia and China could have crashed US economy during financial crisis by selling debt of Fannie, Freddie, AIG, etc. Frustratingly, Jeremy Scahill doesn’t press him.

    NO, NO, NO!!! Paging Stephanie Kelton….

    The Federal Reserve would have easily vacuumed up the debt through quantitative easing. Then, the question of what to do with all the USD gets unaddressed. Neither Russia, nor China want to see their currencies rise against the USD, it would have caused tremendous instability in their own economies, much moreso than it would have de-stabilized the US economy. Also, they needed those reserves to defend currencies against capital flight, both countries are seemingly always at risk from their own citizens, institutions and foreigners yanking their money out of their countries and putting it into the US.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Florida Keys Deliver a Hard Message: As Seas Rise, Some Places Can’t Be Saved”

    A bit hard for those twenty-odd households loving there but you can’t spend a giant chunk of a district’s budget on a forlorn hope. You would have to build a cofferdam around each home to save it but what would be the point? Looks like water taxis are going to replace those roads which are destined to go underwater. If only there were a few billionaires living there, then it would be an open check-book operation to save those properties on the part of that district.

    1. Danny

      But beachfront property on Martha’s Vineyard? Maybe the Obamas know something that other folks don’t know, or know that sea level rise is B.S.?

      1. Oregoncharles

        How high above th esea is the house? There are places where cliffs back up the beach; you could be 100 feet above the water. I lived in a place like that, on the Oregon coast. Of course, the whole thing was moving, slowly, and the house is now gone. Heck of a view while it lasted, though. Good thing I didn’t buy the place.

  22. Carey

    Email from National Nurses United:

    “..In just 16 hours one of our very own nurses — NNU President Jean Ross — will be testifying to Congress on behalf of Medicare for All. It’s a pivotal moment in our years-long fight and a chance to convince even more Representatives to join us.

    The hearing is free to watch and will be streaming on YouTube tomorrow. All you have to do is bookmark this link and come back to it at 10:30 am ET. Once you’ve saved the link, be sure to share it on social media.
    Watch it here » https://hooktube.com/watch?akid=8235.20192.gMM5o0&rd=1&t=1&v=X1IzjGYJvUg

    Everyone who drove calls to Rep. Eshoo’s office last week should feel extremely proud. The fact that Jean is testifying in this hearing at all is all because of YOU.

    Their original plan was to stuff the room with people who were, at best, neutral towards Medicare for All, and at worst, representing GOP dark money groups who help fund anti-M4A propaganda. Now we have a true patient advocate, a bedside nurse, ready to fight on behalf of patients everywhere.”

  23. ca152


    Can someone help me with finding the article explaining why Venezuela isn’t a good example of a fiat currency issuer? I tried searching to no avail, hoping someone has it bookmarked :)


  24. ptb

    Re: polling data

    2 observations:
    Buttigieg up matches Biden down. It would be interesting to do a plot of (Biden – Buttigieg)? Suggests % of voters undecided betw. those two.

    Bernie time series OTOH is uncannily smooth in the past month. Would expect more variation due to methodology differences and sampling, esp with polls of smaller size. A tiny bit suspicious of this.

    Is the data publicly available (e.g. shared/semi-public read-only google sheet?)

  25. Late Introvert

    Buttigieg (D)(2): “In Iowa, Pete Buttigieg faces new scrutiny over consulting work, policy ideas” [Des Moines Register]. “It’s unclear whether the scrutiny over the [McKinsey] NDA or the fundraisers is widespread in Iowa. Several likely caucusgoers at a town hall at Cornell College in Mount Vernon on Saturday said they hadn’t heard about either issue.”

    I saw two different Buttigieg ads on local TV stations tonight within minutes of each other, on CBS and ABC outlets.

    The first one was Buttigieg voters talking about how it wasn’t about him it was about “Us”. McKinsey Boy Stole Bernie’s thing straight up. Because it has legs.

    Second ad was Buttigieg in uniform with other veterans talking about how strong and “true” he is. Both ads mimicked recent Bernie ads that featured local Iowa folks giving endorsements about how Bernie was true to his word.

    People in Iowa get this stuff night and day on the network channels, but in reference to comments from last month, there are no political ads on Antenna TV or the CW or any of the other free over-the-air TV channels here. Bernie is missing an opportunity there and I will try to communicate that to their campaign when I make my 3rd $25 donation this next week.

  26. tegnost

    The driver of the Tesla stated that he had his vehicle on “auto-pilot”, and explained that he was checking on his dog in the back seat prior to hitting the collision.”

    I’m guessing a large percentage of tesla owners fall into the “smart” (credentialed or PMC) category so maybe that’s an indicator of something

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