Why on Earth are we selling spare aircraft parts to Iran?

April 8, 2014
No way!!

You did what??

This is an unbelievably stupid decision. I’ll let my friend Michael Ledeen explain why:

Somebody on Twitter posted an upbeat message saying the US delegation to the latest round of talks with Iranian officials was quite optimistic. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a born optimist and I love optimism, but I’d rather revel in victory than hope for good news, and the Iranians have every reason to revel. The Obama crowd has just ok’d something the Tehran tyrants have desperately wanted since the eighties: spare parts for their long-grounded American passenger aircraft. Boeing and General Electric were given export licenses by the Treasury Department and everyone involved has been chanting “we take aircraft security very seriously,” in order to cloak this latest gift to the Khamenei-Rouhani regime in humanitarian hues.

Frankly I’d rather they took national security very seriously. Iran uses its commercial aircraft for military purposes (one of the reasons that eery flight between Tehran and Caracas is so worrisome), and the mullahs have been limited by the degradation of the national fleet. The Boeing planes and GE engines date to the 1970s, and very few of them are in service. Back in the mid-eighties, when I spent quite a bit of time with Iranian officials, they repeatedly asked for spare parts, both for the passenger planes and for the aging military craft, the F4s and F5s. Secretary of Defense Weinberger of course vetoed any such discussions, and the embargo has held until just now.

Now we’re arming Iran.

Emphases added.

The idea that a state-sponsor of global terrorism like Iran would adhere to understandings to keep the civilian and military functions of their aircraft separate is self-delusional nonsense. They’ll no more do that than they have to keep their civilian and military nuclear programs apart. (Really, I have a bridge for anyone who believes they’re honoring the recent nuclear agreement.)

What these fatuous dunderheads at State and in the White House refuse to see is that Iran has regarded itself as being at war with the United States since 1979. A deal like this, when Iran could easily ferry troops or equipment on “civilian” flights is tantamount to selling them the rope they’ll use to hang us.

This is part of a larger, global war of tyrannies against democracies. George W. Bush was mocked for his “Axis of Evil” comment, but he was right. The players have changed a bit since then, but still include Pyongyang, Moscow, Beijing, Havana, Caracas — and Tehran. And they’re taking advantage of the openings we’re giving them. More Michael:

And so it is, indeed the war has been on for some time, and it’s a bit hotter than Cold War 1.0 was for most of the twentieth century.  Kiev burned, and may burn again soon.  Caracas is burning, as are many of Venezuela’s cities and towns.  Crimea has been annexed, and Syria is still aflame, as is Iraq, and also Yemen.  Estonia and Finland are seriously frightened, as well they should be.  If we pull back from the crisis du jour, we can see it’s a global conflict.  Iran and Russia are fighting in Syria, sometimes with and sometimes against the jihadi marauders.  Cuba is fighting in Venezuela, a country the Castros largely command, and Hezbollah is in there, too.  And for those of you who follow Africa, know that the Iranians are up to their necks in Nigeria, buying influence and supporting the mass murderers in Boko Haram.

The West needs to wake up and smell the smoke from the fires starting to burn all around it, before it turns into a real conflagration. Our foes are vulnerable, and the West can win, but only if with American leadership. The US government is the only one that can convince the other nations to take the steps necessary to push back against Putin, Khamenei, and the others. As John Schindler recently wrote:

We will have many allies in resisting Russian aggression if we focus on issues of freedom and sovereignty, standing up for the rights of smaller countries to choose their own destiny.

It would help if we had leaders who saw themselves as the heirs to Churchill, rather than Chamberlain.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


From Wyoming to New York: America’s Best and Worst States for Tax

April 5, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

I’m very disappointed in my beloved California; we’re only #4 on this list. Surely we can do better and drive more people and jobs away!

Originally posted on International Liberty:

Last August, I shared a fascinating map from the Tax Foundation.

It showed which states have chased away taxable income and which ones have attracted more taxpayers (along with their taxable income).

In other words, what are the “Golden Geese” doing with their money?

Well, the obvious and unsurprising answer is that they are escaping high-tax states and moving to states that aren’t quite so greedy.

Now we have another map from the Tax Foundation. They’ve just released the latest data on state and local tax burdens as a share of state income. Because of lags in data, we’re looking at 2011 numbers, but that’s not important. The main thing is to notice that the states with the highest tax burdens are very much correlated with the states that suffered the great loss of taxable income.

State-Local Tax

You can tell a few additional things just by looking at the…

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Demon-fearing Los Angeles city council blames fracking for earthquake

March 20, 2014
Drill, baby, drill!

Drill, baby, drill!

Remember, kiddies, liberals are the party of science!

Los Angeles City Council members have discovered how to cause earthquakes. Three councilmen think fracking may be the cause of Monday’s earthquake in the Santa Monica Mountains, and they want the city, state, and feds to do an in-depth review.

Councilmen Paul Koretz, Mike Bonin, and Bernard Parks Tuesday introduced a motion calling for the city, the U.S. Geological Survey, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, and the California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources to report on whether hydraulic fracturing caused the moderate 4.4-magnitude earthquake, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“It is crucial to the health and safety of the City’s residents to understand the seismic impacts of oil and gas extraction activities in the City,” the motion says. “All high-pressure fracking and injection creates ‘seismic events.’ . . .  Active oil extraction activities are reportedly taking place on the Veteran’s Administration grounds in West Los Angeles, nearby the epicenter of the March 17, 2014, 4.4 earthquake.”

Parks, who seconded the motion, tells National Review Online that while fracking is “reportedly” happening near the epicenter, those who signed the motion weren’t completely sure. However, he adds that “earthquakes are happening in areas that are not historically earthquake prone, but they are in places where fracking is going on.”

I’m sorry to say Mike Bonin is my city councilman.

Let’s be honest, here. If Koretz, Parks, and Bonin genuinely think fracking caused an earthquake, they know nothing about earthquakes and are just fearing demons in the night. Earthquakes happen when adjoining tectonic plates, which are constantly in motion against each other, suddenly break and move with a jolt. Sometimes a little bit, as in Monday’s quake, sometimes a lot, as in the 2011 Tohoku quake in Japan. In seismically active areas, such as the western coast of North America, small quakes occur every day and have since long before anyone thought of the words “hydraulic fracturing.”

Here’s the technical information for Monday’s shaker. Note the depth: six miles. This is what a USGS geologist had to say when asked about fracking causing that quake:

However, opponents of the moratorium argue that fracking has not been proven to cause any health risks and that claims that it caused this earthquake are not realistic.

“My first impression is that sounds implausible,” seismologist Lucy Jones said. “The earthquake was so deep. Induced earthquakes are almost always shallower than this.”

In other words, yes you might get hit by a bolt from the blue, but that’s no reason to ban walking outdoors.

This call for a study (borrowing from the neverending studies tactic of NY Governor Cuomo) is just another delaying tactic in furtherance of their earlier motion to ban fracking within city limits.  Hydraulic fracturing opponents are using what’s called the “preventative principle” (1) to stop a promising technology that could do wonders for the economy, because the idea of oil and gas exploration goes against their hardcore environmentalist agenda. And then they find lackwit politicians who know nothing about the subject matter, but who are ever so happy to take activists’ donations and campaign help, and get them to pass laws serving that agenda — to the public’s detriment. Their hope is that through delay after delay and more and more burdensome regulations, they can kill what they oppose altogether.

No matter how discredited their propaganda, no matter how safe fracking is shown to be, no matter that even the Energy Secretary of the most left-leaning administration in US history declares it safe, no matter how much this city, this state, and this nation need the economic boost intelligent exploitation of our vast oil and gas resources would provide, fracking opponents continue to throw anything against the wall in the hopes of finding something that will convince people to support a ban.

And sometimes they find the fools they need.

RELATED: Ten myths about natural gas drilling. The UK government thinks fracking is safe. Nancy Pelosi’s daughter even thinks the evil magic of fracking can cause earthquakes far out at sea.

Footnote:
(1) Watch for words like “may,” “might,” “possible,” “could” and other weak words that don’t require any evidence to back them up, just the doubt and fear they create in the (they hope) credulous listener.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The War on Poverty Has Made a Difference…but the Wrong Kind

March 2, 2014

Phineas Fahrquar:

The Left likes to talk about ending the “war on drugs,” and may well have a valid point. I just wish they’d also be open to ending the “war on poverty,” which has done nothing but trap people in poverty. Have a look at the original post for a chart that shows what might have happened with poverty in America, if government hadn’t become involved.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

On several occasions, I’ve observed that the poverty rate in America was steadily falling , but that progress came to a halt in the mid-1960s when the government declared a War on Poverty.

And I almost always included a chart showing the annual poverty rate over several decades.

Moreover, I posted graphs showing how government programs trap people in dependency because of very high implicit marginal tax rates. And that’s true in other nations as well.

But it didn’t matter how many times I revisited this issue, I was never clever enough to look at the poverty-rate data to estimate what would have happened if the federal government hadn’t become involved.

Fortunately, John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis was insightful enough to fill the breach. He shows that the War on Poverty has made a big difference. But in the wrong way.

Poverty Goodman

Here’s some of what John…

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Glorious #Obamacare Victory: lost hours and decreased wages!

February 4, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we won the election! Obama!!”

Heckuva job, Democrats:

A historically high number of people will be locked out of the workforce by 2021, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office released Tuesday.

President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law will contribute to this phenomenon, the CBO said, citing new estimates that the Affordable Care Act will cause a larger-than-expected reduction in working hours—eliminating the equivalent of about 2.3 million workers in 2021.
In 2011, the CBO estimated the law would cause a reduction of about 800,000 full-time equivalent workers.

“CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 to 2 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor—given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive,” said the report.

As Bryan Preston points out, this is the equivalent of losing almost the entire workforce of Nevada.

But, hey, it’s worth it if it brings wonderful new benefits to people, such as creating jobs… Oops!, I mean saving people money, right??

Well, about that promise

A new study finds that Obamacare’s redistribution will be stunningly lopsided. Scholars at the liberal Brookings Institution have discovered that Obamacare will increase the income of Americans in the lowest 20 percent of the income scale, and especially in the lowest ten percent. But all other income groups — even people who make very modest incomes in the $25,000 to $30,000 range, as well as all income brackets above that — will experience a decline in income because of Obamacare.

In other words, Obamacare is going to cost some of the very people it was designed to help.

So, not only will Obamacare inflict people with higher premiums, bigger co-pays, and smaller provider networks, but it will on top of all that reduce most people’s income.

Genius. I hope the voters remember to reward the Democrats in November for all their hard work.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Go ahead, increase the minimum wage. Then, kiss those jobs goodbye.

January 14, 2014
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least we won our minimum wage increase!”

I’ve said time and again that because wages are a cost for businesses, they have to find a way to control them so they can earn a profit that makes it worthwhile to stay in business. Mandate wages that are too high, and companies will find creative ways to trim those costs back down.

Such as replacing the workers with machines:

Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.

Our alpha machine frees up all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.

It does everything employees can do except better:

It slices toppings like tomatoes and pickles immediately before it places the slice onto your burger, giving you the freshest burger possible.

Our next revision will offer custom meat grinds for every single customer. Want a patty with 1/3 pork and 2/3 bison ground to order? No problem.

Also, our next revision will use gourmet cooking techniques never before used in a fast food restaurant, giving the patty the perfect char but keeping in all the juices.

It’s more consistent, more sanitary, and can produce ~360 hamburgers per hour.

The labor savings allow a restaurant to spend approximately twice as much on high quality ingredients and the gourmet cooking techniques make the ingredients taste that much better.

That’s from the web site of Momentum Machines in San Francisco. You can bet all those progressive Bay Area burger-flippers and baristas demanding a $15 per hour minimum wage will be screaming “unfair!” when they find themselves replaced.

Not that I’m some sort of anti-technological Luddite; far from it. But these idio… er, “people” demanding a huge increase in the minimum wage need to recognize that their bosses have choices to make, and one of those choices may well be a very rational decision to cut back hours or eliminate jobs altogether. Is it worth winning a $15 per hour rate, when you wind up collecting nothing?

Keep it up, burger flippers, and you may well pave the way for the return of the automat.

Forward into the past?

Forward into the past?

via Melissa Clouthier

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


#Obamacare: the ongoing crash and burn of the HHS Hindenburg

December 16, 2013
"Obamacare has arrived"

“Obamacare has arrived”

I was under the weather over the weekend, so some articles accumulated about the rolling wreckage known as the Affordable Care Act (1), both those problems already known and those forthcoming. Let’s start with the one that’s perhaps the scariest for being the most personal; as Mark Steyn so aptly put it, “If you like your checking account, you can keep your checking account:”

For the second week in a row, the Washington Healthplanfinder website is down, and it’s causing problems for people who are dealing with billing issues. Some of them say the website is mistakenly debiting their accounts.

Shannon Bruner of Indianola logged on to her checking account Monday morning, and found she was almost 800 dollars in the negative.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘I got screwed,’” she said.

The Bruners enrolled for insurance on the Washington Healthplanfinder website, last October. They say they selected the bill pay date to be December 24th. Instead the Washington Healthplanfinder drafted the 835 dollar premium Monday.

Josh Bruner started his own business this year as an engineering recruiter. They said it’s forced them to pay a lot of attention to their bills and their bank accounts.

“Big knot in my gut because we’re trying to keep it together,” said Shannon Bruner. “It’s important to me that this kind of stuff doesn’t happen.”

They’re not alone.

This is why I never, ever give direct access to my checking account: bureaucracies screw up, and good luck fighting them. While you’re trying to get your money back, you’re suddenly lacking funds to cover the checks you wrote and other immediate needs, as the people in the article are discovering. And, if this is happening in the Washington state exchange, what do you want to bet erroneous debits are taking place on other state exchanges and the federal exchange, with its millions of potential customers? But you can’t just refuse to participate in such an incompetent operation — you’re bound under penalty of law and just have to hope these yahoos don’t foul up your life too badly.

Merry Christmas!

Meanwhile, it turns out Obamacare may kill volunteer fire departments across the country; no one knows whether they’re required to give their firefighters coverage under the ACA, or how the mandate is activated, because the IRS hasn’t yet written the rules, even though the deadline is just days away:

At issue is the Affordable Care Act’s mandate requiring employers with more than 50 full-time workers to provide adequate health insurance coverage for employees working more than 30 hours a week and whether it should be applied to unpaid volunteers.

Fire officials say the Internal Revenue Service treats volunteer firefighters as full-time employees for tax purposes, so they worry that the agency will also require municipal fire departments and fire companies to provide those volunteers with health coverage or pay substantial fines for failing to do so.

Officials say the mandate could create a severe financial hardship for their departments and companies.

“It would be just devastating to our budget,” Burlington Township Fire Director John Stewart said Friday. “Right now, we have three full-time employees and 90 qualified volunteers. I don’t know what we would do.”

Pemberton Township Fire Chief Craig Augustoni said informal estimates were that the mandate might cost the municipality an additional $2 million to insure its volunteers.

“That, or pay a fine of $2,000 per worker,” Augustoni said.

Obamacare: it’s not just a metaphorical “crash and burn” scenario any more.

Sometimes a bit of schadenfreude can help us feel better; who doesn’t like laughing and pointing at the travails of the very people who helped bring this mess about? Via Instapundit, Tom Macguire reports on a New York Times article detailing the suffering of Manhattan’s cultural elites under the ACA:

Many in New York’s professional and cultural elite have long supported President Obama’s health care plan. But now, to their surprise, thousands of writers, opera singers, music teachers, photographers, doctors, lawyers and others are learning that their health insurance plans are being canceled and they may have to pay more to get comparable coverage, if they can find it.

They are part of an unusual, informal health insurance system that has developed in New York, in which independent practitioners were able to get lower insurance rates through group plans, typically set up by their professional associations or chambers of commerce. That allowed them to avoid the sky-high rates in New York’s individual insurance market, historically among the most expensive in the country.

But under the Affordable Care Act, they will be treated as individuals, responsible for their own insurance policies. For many of them, that is likely to mean they will no longer have access to a wide network of doctors and a range of plans tailored to their needs. And many of them are finding that if they want to keep their premiums from rising, they will have to accept higher deductible and co-pay costs or inferior coverage.

“I couldn’t sleep because of it,” said Barbara Meinwald, a solo practitioner lawyer in Manhattan.

This quote later in the article is a beaut:

It is not lost on many of the professionals that they are exactly the sort of people — liberal, concerned with social justice — who supported the Obama health plan in the first place. Ms. Meinwald, the lawyer, said she was a lifelong Democrat who still supported better health care for all, but had she known what was in store for her, she would have voted for Mitt Romney.

It is an uncomfortable position for many members of the creative classes to be in.

Yeah, well, forgive me, Barbara, if my well of sympathy has once again run dry. This is what you and your fellow fighters for “social justice” voted for in defiance of all reason and the laws of economics, and now you’ve got it. Congratulations. And from those of us who could see all along what a disaster this would be, thanks a lot.

Finally, the government says they’re getting a handle on the problem of wrong information being sent to insurers, which could lead to people thinking they have coverage, when they don’t. Well, hold on to your hats; the government is lying. The problems are not fixed. Thousands of applications have not been sent to insurers. Healthcare.gov is still rife with errors. But, don’t worry, the Peron Obama administration is “encouraging” insurers grant all sorts of exceptions and break the law to make sure they take the blame for the problems the government created.

Well, they didn’t say it that bluntly, but that’s because they don’t want us to know how panicked they are.

I get this feeling it’s going to hit the fan come January 1st, don’t you?

Footnote:
(1) George Orwell, call your office.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Another Misguided Plan to Burden America with a Value-Added Tax

December 5, 2013

Phineas Fahrquar:

File this under: “Bad Idea” The only way we should have a VAT or national sales tax is if the amendment authorizing an income tax is repealed. Otherwise, Washington will greedily raise both. For the public good, of course.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

It’s no secret that I dislike the value-added tax.

But this isn’t because of its design. The VAT, after all, would be (presumably) a single-rate, consumption-based system, just like the flat tax and national sales tax. And that’s a much less destructive way of raising revenue compared to America’s corrupt and punitive internal revenue code.

But not all roads lead to Rome. Proponents of the flat tax and sales tax want to replace the income tax. That would be a very positive step.

Advocates of the VAT, by contrast, want to keep the income tax and give politicians another big source of revenue. That’s a catastrophically bad idea.

To understand what I mean, let’s look at a Bloomberg column by Al Hunt. He starts with a look at the political appetite for reform.

There is broad consensus that the U.S. tax system is inefficient, inequitable and hopelessly complex…

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CA High-Speed Rail Fail: $600 million spent, not a mile of track laid

November 23, 2013
"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

Because The Future! Or something:

The latest accounting by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to state lawmakers indicates that the agency has spent almost $600 million on engineering and environmental consultants — all without turning a shovelful of dirt on construction.

In the twice-a-year report (PDF) sent to legislative leaders on Friday, the agency is sticking to its estimated price tag of $68.3 billion to build its San Francisco-to-Los Angeles bullet-train line. The agency earlier this year approved a $987 million contract with a team of contractors to design and build the first 29-mile stretch of the line from Madera through Fresno.

But while contractors Tutor Perini Corp., Zachry Construction and Parsons Corp. have been given a green light for engineering and other pre-construction activities, the authority has offered no estimate of when ground may be broken .

If the name “Tutor-Perini” rings a bell, you’re not just hearing things. Tutor-Perini’s principle owner is Richard Blum. Blum has been mentioned before in this blog, and there have been allegations in the past of cronyism in the winning of government contracts by companies he’s involved with. By sheer coincidence, Blum is also the husband of Senator Diane Feinstein.

Fancy that.

But, back to the more than half-a-billion, this is money that has been spent before construction has even begun on the initial Fresno to Madera segment. The Fresno Bee article describes what we’ve gotten for our money, so far:

“The authority has made significant progress in its mission to plan, design, build and operate the nation’s first high-speed rail system as part of the statewide rail modernization program,” agency CEO Jeff Morales wrote in the report.

The report details a raft of administrative advances, including filling all of its executive management positions, developing a risk-management plan, issuing a report on greenhouse-gas emissions, and awarding the construction contracts for the Madera-Fresno stretch.

(I hope those executives got some nice chairs for that $600 million.)

There is still an environmental report –Yay! More consulting fees!– for the area around Chowchilla to be done, which is why this state version of a shovel-ready project hasn’t started. Already they’re two years behind schedule.

And the whole ball of wax (with attendant fees) has to be done for at least six other segments from San Francisco to Anaheim. Luckily, the High-Speed Rail Authority is allowed to spend up to $980 million on pre-construction “consulting contracts” through 2018. No way they’ll come asking for more public money (1). Nope. Nuh-uh.

I can’t wait to see what the costs come to once they actually start building this boondoggle.

Nice legacy ya got there, Governor.

Footnote:
(1) Funded by either public borrowing or higher taxes, of course.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama Administration Urges More Unemployment

November 17, 2013

Phineas Fahrquar:

Setting more welfare traps for people out of work.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

President Obama has presided over a terrible jobs market.

Unemployment is more than two-percentage points higher today than the White House claimed it would be if the so-called stimulus was enacted.

Even more worrisome, the employment-population ratio seems to have permanently fallen, which is bad news for economic performance since our output is a function of how much capital and labor is being productively utilized.

So what’s the response from the Obama Administration? Well, they want to further subsidize people for not working.

I’m not joking. Here’s some of what has been reported by the Huffington Post.

The Obama administration on Friday came out strongly in support of extending long-term unemployment insurance past its current expiration date. …”We have always done so when unemployment is this high and would make little sense to fail to do so now when we are still facing the burdens of the worst…

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Obamacare site crumbled like a wet cookie in “stress” tests…

October 22, 2013
"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

And yet they let the godforsaken thing go live, anyway:

Days before the launch of President Obama’s online health ­insurance marketplace, government officials and contractors tested a key part of the Web site to see whether it could handle tens of thousands of consumers at the same time. It crashed after a simulation in which just a few hundred people tried to log on simultaneously.

Despite the failed test, federal health officials plowed ahead.

When the Web site went live Oct. 1, it locked up shortly after midnight as about 2,000 users attempted to complete the first step, according to two people familiar with the project.

Let’s not forget, these are the same people who think they can manage healthcare for a nation of 330,000,000 people with very diverse needs, and yet these hubristic morons couldn’t build a system over three years that could handle the population of even Sierra County, California. Though I suppose this shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, since we already knew that the site had received only 4-6 days of testing.

More from the Post article:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency in charge of running the health insurance exchange in 36 states, invited about 10 insurers to give advice and help test the Web site.

About a month before the exchange opened, this testing group urged agency officials not to launch it nationwide because it was still riddled with problems, according to an insurance IT executive who was close to the rollout.

“We discussed . . . is there a way to do a pilot — by state, by geographic region?” the executive said.

It was clear at the time, the executive said, that the CMS was still dealing with the way the exchange handled enrollment, federal subsidies and the security of consumers’ personal information, such as income.

One key problem, according to a person close to the project, was that the agency assumed the role of managing the 55 contractors involved and had not ensured that all the pieces were working together.

Some key testing of the system did not take place until the week before launch, according to this person. As late as Sept. 26, there had been no tests to determine whether a consumer could complete the process from beginning to end: create an account, determine eligibility for federal subsidies and sign up for a health insurance plan, according to two sources familiar with the project.

President Sham-Wow held a press conference patent medicine show yesterday at which, when not dealing with a fainting pregnant woman, he declared that no one was “madder than me” about the problems with the Obamacare rollout. So he also announced several firings, right?

Would you like that bridge gift-wrapped?

Remember, this is only the front end, the sales showroom for Obamacare. Just imagine what’s in store for us when they start handling sensitive patient data and managing treatment.

Don’t faint.

RELATED: Jim Geraghty thinks the private insurance death spiral is looking increasingly inevitable. For Obamacare, that’s a feature, not a bug. UnitedHealthCare in Connecticut has removed thousands of doctors from its network. Remember, Obama said if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.  He’s a funny guy. The mind-boggling incompetence of Obamacare. Finally, a must-read: Charles Cooke on “Obamacare Snake Oil. If we had an honest press, instead of a courtier media, they’d be throwing this in The One’s face.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Tweet of the Day, #Obamacare testing train wreck edition

October 19, 2013
"Train wreck"

“I didn’t test the site. I thought you did!”

National Review’s Jim Geraghty catches HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitting in the pages of The Wall Street Journal something she should have known years ago:

This is going to sit well with her boss, don’t you think? After all, the fourth-greatest president ever is always willing to humbly own up to mistakes. He might even recognize the mistake he made in hiring the former Kansas governor and fire her in the spirit of accountability.

Oh, stop laughing.

Besides, as Jim argues elsewhere, why should we want her fired?

If you think Sebelius is a blitheringly incompetent leader and manager, who ignores red flags and who is now requiring underlings to attempt increasingly implausible, desperate spin, and you want to see Obamacare go away . . . why would you want to get rid of her? The next HHS secretary might be better at the job.

As Napoleon once said, “Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.”

Speaking of that “testing issue” Sebelius isn’t the only one to acknowledge a mistake total, catastrophic screw up. Writing in the Washington Examiner, Richard Pollock reports that Sebelius was indeed right when she said they had only a brief time to test the site and its systems. “Brief,” as in 4-6 days before launch:

Federal officials did not permit testing of the Obamacare healthcare.gov website or issue final system requirements until four to six days before its Oct. 1 launch, according to an individual with direct knowledge of the project.

The individual, who spoke on condition of anonymity, described the troubled Obamacare website project as suffering from top-level management disarray, changing systems requirements and recurring delays.

The root cause of the problems was a pivotal decision by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials to act as systems integrator, the central coordinator for the entire program. Usually this role is reserved for the prime information technology contractor.

As a result, full testing of the site was delayed until four to six days before the fateful Oct. 1 launch of the health care exchanges, the individual said.

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Federal officials were “freezing requirements in time to permit full testing at all levels of the site — integration testing, user testing, performance testing and tuning,” the individual said.

“Normally a system this size would need 4-6 months of testing and performance tuning, not 4-6 days,” the individual said.

No, really? When you’re only taking over 16% of the entire US economy?? Surely you jest.

Read the whole article. This is how our $634 million was spent. Obamacare, and all the revelations like this coming out every day, is the greatest selling point for small-government conservatism America has ever seen.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


I am a bad person, for my sympathy well has run dry.

October 16, 2013
"Facebook staffer"

“California Kos blogger, post-Obamacare”

It’s true. I cannot muster the merest hint of a tear, nor think of consoling words, for this Daily Kos blogger who just got his new Obamacare rates:

My wife and I just got our updates from Kaiser telling us what our 2014 rates will be. Her monthly has been $168 this year, mine $150. We have a high deductible. We are generally healthy people who don’t go to the doctor often. I barely ever go. The insurance is in case of a major catastrophe.

Well, now, because of Obamacare, my wife’s rate is gong to $302 per month and mine is jumping to $284.

I am canceling insurance for us and I am not paying any fucking penalty. What the hell kind of reform is this?

Oh, ok, if we qualify, we can get some government assistance. Great. So now I have to jump through another hoop to just chisel some of this off. And we don’t qualify, anyway, so what’s the point?

I never felt too good about how this was passed and what it entailed, but I figured if it saved Americans money, I could go along with it.

I don’t know what to think now. This appears, in my experience, to not be a reform for the people.

What am I missing?

Good question, “Tirge Caps.” Shall we start an understanding of basic economics? Or your divorce from reality, assuming that government could pull off something this massive and not have it fall apart like an old Yugo? Or a healthy dose of skepticism, given your apparent childlike, albeit charming, faith in Obama and Pelosi’s promises?

But you needn’t have suffered for your many deficiencies, Tirge, my friend and fellow Californian. If only you’d listened to and learned from those of us who’ve been screaming bloody murder over this anti-constitutional monstrosity for nearly four years, you might have avoided this unpleasant experience.

Alas.

On the other hand, I’m not sure what you’re complaining about. Since, from your tone of anguished betrayal, you most likely voted for Obama and, I again assume, a California Democrat for the House, that letter you received is exactly what you voted for, moron.

Congratulations.

PS: Yes, this is uncharitable and mean-spirited of me. With the harm Obamacare is causing the nation… tough.

via Matt Vespa and Salena Zito

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Californians discover that -gasp!- Obama lied about their insurance costs

October 7, 2013
"Suckers."

“Suckers.”

The San Jose Mercury News ran an article a couple of days ago about “winners and losers” under Obamacare in the Bay Area, including individual buyers of health insurance who were shocked when faced with economic reality: when the government mandates higher costs on businesses, they will then pass those costs along to consumers.

And as some Obamacare supporters found, reality bites — their wallets:

But people with no pre-existing conditions like [Cindy] Vinson, a 60-year-old retired teacher, and [Tom] Waschura, a 52-year-old self-employed engineer, are making up the difference.

“I was laughing at Boehner — until the mail came today,”

Waschura said, referring to House Speaker John Boehner, who is leading the Republican charge to defund Obamacare.
“I really don’t like the Republican tactics, but at least now I can understand why they are so pissed about this. When you take $10,000 out of my family’s pocket each year, that’s otherwise disposable income or retirement savings that will not be going into our local economy.”

Both Vinson and Waschura have adjusted gross incomes greater than four times the federal poverty level — the cutoff for a tax credit. And while both said they anticipated their rates would go up, they didn’t realize they would rise so much.

“Of course, I want people to have health care,” Vinson said. “I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally.”

It must be nice to live in their imaginary world, where government can wave its magic wand and and create wonderful new entitlements that are always paid for by The Other Guy. But, in the world we all live in, when Waschura whines about what amounts to a seizure of ten grand of his disposable income to pay for other people’s insurance, I want to scream “THAT’S WHAT WE’VE BEEN COMPLAINING ABOUT, YOU MORON!” Obamacare is not about health care; it is a gigantic wealth transfer program, and the “transfer from” part includes the middle class. Everything Obama and his comrades on the Left do is about wealth redistribution.

Do read the rest of the article. In fairness, it points out “winners” under the ACA, too. What it doesn’t do is mention how those winners, such as those with previously existing conditions, “win” by relying on the government to force those younger and healthier to buy more (and more expensive) insurance than they really need. And you need several of those losers for each beneficiary.

Again, wealth transfer is the key.

Meanwhile, to those ACA-supporters now finding out just how badly shafted they are by this bill, give me some time. It will take me a while to generate any sympathy.

via Uncommentari

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Before we attack #Syria, let’s look at Libya, shall we?

September 5, 2013

If Obama wants to launch us into another humanitarian intervention against an Arab dictator (1), perhaps we all should look at how his last Big Adventure turned out? That would be in Libya, where, according to The Independent’s Patrick Cockburn, things have gone from bad to God-awful:

A little under two years ago, Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary, urged British businessmen to begin “packing their suitcases” and to fly to Libya to share in the reconstruction of the country and exploit an anticipated boom in natural resources.

Yet now Libya has almost entirely stopped producing oil as the government loses control of much of the country to militia fighters.

Mutinying security men have taken over oil ports on the Mediterranean and are seeking to sell crude oil on the black market. Ali Zeidan, Libya’s Prime Minister, has threatened to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker trying to pick up the illicit oil from the oil terminal guards, who are mostly former rebels who overthrew Muammar Gaddafi and have been on strike over low pay and alleged government corruption since July.

Sweet. Our intervention there was so successful that the Prime Minister is threatening to bomb his own ports. Oil production, Libya’s only source of revenue, has cratered to a tenth of what it had been prior to the intervention, denying the government the revenue it needs to maintain forces to control the country. Far from governing Libya, this gelded government can barely control its own capital, Tripoli:

Rule by local militias is also spreading anarchy around the capital. Ethnic Berbers, whose militia led the assault on Tripoli in 2011, temporarily took over the parliament building in Tripoli. The New York-based Human Rights Watch has called for an independent investigation into the violent crushing of a prison mutiny in Tripoli on 26 August in which 500 prisoners had been on hunger strike. The hunger strikers were demanding that they be taken before a prosecutor or formally charged since many had been held without charge for two years.

The government called on the Supreme Security Committee, made up of former anti-Gaddafi militiamen nominally under the control of the interior ministry, to restore order. At least 19 prisoners received gunshot shrapnel wounds, with one inmate saying “they were shooting directly at us through the metal bars”. There have been several mass prison escapes this year in Libya including 1,200 escaping from a prison after a riot in Benghazi in July.

In short, after overthrowing Qaddafi, a tyrannical cross-dressing nut-job who, nonetheless, kept order and worked with us, we and our allies left Libya to its own devices, apparently doing squat-all to strengthen the central government. Instead, we patted ourselves on the back, picked up our toys, and left the place to torn apart by various tribal and jihadist militias.

Read the whole thing; it’s  a searing indictment of the incompetence of the British, French, and especially the American governments. The lack of any planning or even simple foresight about what to do after “we won” is stunning. If the Bush Administration could be justly criticized (2) for not properly planning for the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, then the Obama administration’s failure to do even rudimentary post-war preparation is a blazing sign of incompetence. At least the Bush people had a plan, bad as it was. The yo-yos of Team Smart Power couldn’t even be bothered to scratch one out on a cocktail napkin.

And now they want to intervene in Syria.

But, don’t worry. I’m sure the Obama people have learned their lesson, gamed out the various possibilities in Syria after we intervene in order not to be mocked, and made plans for each contingency.

And I’m also Napoleon.

While Congress considers granting permission for this humanitarian intervention, they’d be advised to take a close look at the results of the last one.

RELATED: Andrew McCarthy on the people John McCain thinks we should help in Syria. Oh, yeah. It’s Libya all over again. Stanley Kurtz on Samantha Powers, one of Obama’s foreign policy guru’s, our current UN Ambassador, and one of the main architects of the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine of humanitarian military intervention. For an encore, Kurtz asks a rhetorical question: Shall we now retake Libya in the name of humanitarianism? Here’s an excerpt from his answer:

Meanwhile, al-Qaeda factions driven out of Mali by the French make their home in Libya’s southern desert, armed with weapons plundered from Qaddafi’s arsenals. Other arms, and no doubt Islamist fighters as well, flow to the rebel forces in Syria, strengthening precisely those elements that most threaten our counterweight to Assad. A year ago, Senators McCain and Graham repeatedly cited our apparent success in Libya as a model for intervention in Syria. They haven’t mentioned it lately.

Footnote:
(1) I can see a case for intervening, but I think the bulk of the good argument is against it. But that’s not out of any sympathy or liking for Assad, whom I think should be strung up from a lamp post. If he’s lucky.
(2) As I’ve said, I did and do support the liberation of Iraq under Bush. But, there’s no arguing that the post-war occupation and reconstruction was poorly planned, and for that they deserve criticism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Democrats decide on electoral strategy in 2014: suicide

June 4, 2013

Because taking pride of ownership in Obamacare worked so well for them in 2010:

Scarred by years of Republican attacks over Obamacare, with more in store next year, Democrats have settled on an unlikely strategy for the 2014 midterms: Bring it on.

Party strategists believe that embracing the polarizing law — especially its more popular elements — is smarter politics than fleeing from it in the House elections. The new tack is a marked shift from 2010, when Republicans pointed to Obamacare as Exhibit A of Big Government run amok on their way to seizing the House from Democrats.

But the Democratic bear hug, reflecting a calculation it’s probably impossible to shed their association with the law even if they wanted to, is still a high-wire public relations act. The White House has consistently struggled with messaging on Obamacare, hoping the public would gain an appreciation for the health care makeover as its benefits became apparent. That never really happened, but Democrats seem to be banking that it finally will.

Yeah, because the problem from their point of view is always the messaging: “if only we explained ourselves better, then the rubes public would support our glorious ideas. Their lives are better, it’s just that they don’t know it. So we just have to fine tune our message and we’re back in business!” It’s never that their ideas stink like a fish left out in the sun, or that the public resents to the point of rage the way Obamacare was passed, as Moe Lane explains:

…the Democrats apparently have never really understood that the way that Obamacare was passed features prominently in the reason why it’s so unpopular among the rest of us.  Politico’s vaguely revisionist history aside, the Democrats certainly attempted to tout Obamacare as being a net positive in the 2010 elections; what they failed to realize then – and, apparently, now – is that when you shove something down my throat, I don’t particularly care whether you think that it tastes great or not.  What I care about is your callous indifference and unwarranted arrogance; and so it was with Obamacare.  The Democrats ignored the opposition, ignored the populace, and even ignored the established rules to pass their walking monstrosity of a health care rationing system; and it is a measure of precisely how tone-deaf they were about the procedure that one of their leaders actually thought that it was smart to tell people that we had to pass the bill to find out what was in it.

And he’s right. Aside from the abomination of Obamacare itself, the way it was passed, not just unconstitutional but anti-constitutional (No time to read the bill, drafting sessions from which the opposition was excluded, insulting the public, deem and pass, reconciliation…), is offensive, infuriating, enraging, and a good part of the reason for the electoral bug-squashing the Democrats suffered in 2010. I can just see the Republicans dusting off the Pelosi videos now.

In spite of that, the Democrats think the strategy of defending Obamacare, tuning their message, and promising to fix the broken parts while keeping the parts people like will work. Politico, again:

“In 2010, the benefits of ACA were theoretical and Democratic candidates ran away from it. If you were in a tough race and asked about health care,” a senior Democratic official told POLITICO, “you changed the topic. In 2014, Democrats can talk about the positives, position themselves as consumer advocates to make it work and go on offense against Republicans for wanting to take the benefits away.”

A problem with this is that those portions people like, including things I find distasteful such as keeping “children” on the parents’ insurance until they’re 26, can be fixed to be more market-oriented and part of a repeal-and-replace bill that still guts the core of the PPACA, which progressives adore and the majority loathes:  the hated mandate, the requirements to buy coverage you don’t need or want, and the new taxes.

Ah, yes. The new taxes and the increased premiums. Jim Geraghty tells us why that light the Democrats see at the end of the tunnel may instead be an oncoming train:

So . . . in 2014, just as premiums begin to reflect the changes of Obamacare, and in the year where the uninsured must start paying the government $95 or 1 percent of their income (whichever is higher) . . . Democrats have decided they’ll embrace Obamacare and make it a centerpiece of their reelection message.

(…)

The point is, starting in 2014, a lot of people who don’t have insurance and find the process of getting insurance immensely confusing and frustrating will suddenly be told they must pay the government for their failure to get insurance. And at that precise moment, Democrats will ask for their vote as an expression of gratitude.

That penalty will be enforced, collected by, and paid to the IRS, which has just been exposed as being quite willing to harass and punish law-abiding Americans for their political beliefs. And yet the Democrats want to remind voters of Obamacare and help the Republicans connect the two?

Genius. Brer Rabbit couldn’t have found a more attractive briar patch.

PS: For those under the impression that Pelosi and company might still have hit on a winning strategy, let’s take a walk down memory lane to see what happened the last time they told us how wonderful Obamacare would be. Have a look at the results for the House races, the Senate contests, and the state-level elections in 2010. To quote the Politico article again, “Bring it on.”

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Stunning ignorance on display from Senator Barbara Boxer over Oklahoma tornado outbreak

May 21, 2013

Phineas Fahrquar:

“Stunning ignorance” and “Barbara Boxer” are, of course, redundant. She really is dumber than a box of rocks. And what an embarrassment for California… that we keep inflicting on ourselves. :/

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Via POLITICO’s Morning Energy – May 21, 2013:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif. – Chair of Senate Environment & Public Works Committee) took to the Senate floor and invoked the Oklahoma tornadoes in her speech on global warming.

“This is climate change. We were warned about extreme weather. Not just hot weather. But extreme weather. When I had my hearings, when I had the gavel years ago. -It’s been a while – the scientists all agreed that what we’d start to see was extreme weather. And people looked at one another and said ‘what do you mean? It’s gonna get hot?’ Yeah, it’s gonna get hot. But you’re also going to see snow in the summer in some places. You’re gonna have terrible storms. You’re going to have tornados and all the rest. We need to protect our people. That’s our number one obligation and we have to deal with…

View original 658 more words


Raytheon Moving California HQ to Texas

May 3, 2013

And California, one of the most self-destructively governed states in the Union, loses another company, its jobs, and its tax revenues. Really, if I didn’t live here, it would be fascinating to watch an “economic super-power state” drive itself off the cliff chasing Thelma and Louise. Thank you, Jerry Brown and the legislative Democrats.


Leading from behind will lose us Iraq

April 30, 2013

This is potentially very bad:

After a week of violence in Iraq in which more than 170 Iraqis, including tribesmen, soldiers, and policemen have been killed in clashes during Sunni protests in Salahuddin province, the Awakening is preparing to take up arms against the Iraqi government. On April 24, Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, the head of the Awakening, said in an interview with Al Jazeera that “from Fallujah to Al Qaim” the tribes are coordinating and “united” to battle the government if need be.

For those who don’t recall, the “Anbar Awakening” was an alliance of mostly Sunni tribes in western Iraq, which aligned itself with the US military starting around 2006 after having had enough of the atrocities committed against them by al Qaeda in Iraq. (1) To say they were crucial to our victory during the surge would be no less than the truth.  Without the Awakening, we don’t benefit from pacified areas that allow us to concentrate against al Qaeda and the Shiite militias, and we don’t have the eyes and ears of locals who know the situation on the ground far better than we do.

In return, we acted as interlocutors between the local tribes and the new, mostly Shiite national government, mediating the frictions caused by, literally, centuries of bad blood between the two sects. In the politics of Iraq, our military was essential to keeping the peace the surge won, not just because of our military power, but because we were the only group both sides trusted. If an American officer said something would get done, it would get done — and done honestly. It is almost impossible to put a value on the worth of that trust.

But now, with the Americans gone after Obama’s half-hearted, bungling efforts to negotiate a status of forces agreement, all that is in danger of falling apart as the groups revert to old habits and the Syrian civil war draws them in:

Without military forces in country, the US has been unable to support the Iraqi government in its counterterrorism campaign against al Qaeda in Iraq, or to serve as a buffer and broker between Iraq’s ethnic groups. The US has also diplomatically abandoned the Sunni tribes in Anbar and other provinces, despite promises to remain engaged with the Awakening after the pivotal alliance that drastically improved Iraq’s security from 2006 to 2008.

(…)

Without US forces, al Qaeda in Iraq gained the time and space to regroup and rebuild, and has established a potent fighting force inside Syria as the Al Nusrah Front (al Qaeda’s affiliate there). Continued access to the tribes would have pressed the advantage against a previously decimated al Qaeda in Iraq and could have given the US a foothold to support non-Salafi jihadist rebels inside Syria as well (the tribes in western Iraq extend into Syria).

I said when we liberated Iraq that we had to be prepared to be there for 50 years, using our soldiers and our diplomacy as a shield while Iraq developed the habits of constitutional government and a healthy civil society, much like we did with South Korea. It wasn’t guaranteed to work, but I believe it had a good chance. Now we may never know, however, for if the tribes do revolt and the Syrian civil war does spread into Iraq –with inevitable Iranian involvement– then Barack Obama’s “Diffidence Doctrine” will have succeeded in taking all the blood and treasure we spent there and flushing it down a toilet.

Excuse me while I go find a wall to bang my head against.

Footnote:
(1) Such as killing their children, then hiding explosives under the bodies so the parents would be killed when they tried to recover their children’s corpses. If any group ever needed killing…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Boston Marathon bombing: terrorism on the cheap, financed by us?

April 24, 2013

I wrote yesterday about questions regarding the Tsarnaev brothers’ financial resources and how they could afford what at first glance appeared to be a comfortable lifestyle and prepare their atrocities without some outside support.

Well, it appears they had some help: the taxpayers of Massachusetts.

Marathon bombings mastermind Tamerlan Tsarnaev was living on taxpayer-funded state welfare benefits even as he was delving deep into the world of radical anti-American Islamism, the Herald has learned.

State officials confirmed last night that Tsarnaev, slain in a raging gun battle with police last Friday, was receiving benefits along with his wife, Katherine Russell Tsarnaev, and their 3-year-old daughter. The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services said those benefits ended in 2012 when the couple stopped meeting income eligibility limits. Russell Tsarnaev’s attorney has claimed Katherine — who had converted to Islam — was working up to 80 hours a week as a home health aide while Tsarnaev stayed at home.

In addition, both of Tsarnaev’s parents received benefits, and accused brother bombers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan were recipients through their parents when they were younger, according to the state.

The news raises questions over whether Tsarnaev financed his radicalization on taxpayer money.

Gee, ya think?

Meanwhile, his younger brother financed his “lifestyle” not only through scholarships, but also, per The Globe, dealing drugs:

Tsarnaev’s younger brother never seemed strapped for cash, according to people who knew him at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth where he was a sophomore. But Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a scholarship student who earned spending money by selling marijuana, say three people who bought drugs from the 19-year-old.

None of this was enough to finance the “lifestyles of the rich and terroristic,” but the globe goes on to point out just how little it would take to carry out the Marathon attacks:

If the brothers had outside financial or technical support for their deadly attack on the Marathon, it certainly isn’t reflected in their lifestyle or their weapons. The picture that is emerging is more like terrorism on a budget, consistent with reports that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told interrogators from his hospital bed that he and his brother acted alone.

“There is no barrier here to two men doing this on their own,” said Brian Michael Jenkins, a Rand Corp. adviser who focuses on terrorism. “You could easily do this for under $100 per bomb. . . . This is an investment even someone with modest means can make.”

So, it looks more and more like these walking, talking pustules did this on their own… with help from the older brother’s exploited wife, sponging off family, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the potheads of Cambridge.

I hope the younger brother remembers to thank them at his execution.

To paraphrase what Lenin said about capitalists, “We’re going to give them the money to build the bombs to kill us.” And it reminds me of Britain, though they’re much further down the path of subsidizing their own destroyers.

Way back in 1838, Abraham Lincoln made a speech at the Young Men’s Lyceum in which he made an observation I think fitting for this situation:

“At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?– Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never!–All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.”

Only we seem to be paying for assisted suicide.

PS: Back to the question of outside assistance, the Tsarnaevs seemed to greatly admire a radical Lebanese-Australian imam, Sheik Feiz Mohammed, and the elder brother is reported to have met with another jihadist imam while visiting Dagestan. This makes me suspect their situation is similar to that of the traitorous Major Hassan and his al Qaeda imam, Anwar al-Awlaki: they received theological support and encouragement from these preachers, but were left to come up with their own attacks. Still, I’d like to know where they tested their bombs, if they did.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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