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October 1, 2014

On lawful elections

Chess Champion Garry Kasparov says ISIS is a diversion for the world to focus on. And while he doesn't suggest a specific creator of that diversion he does name who stands to benefit from it: Vladimir Putin, whom he calls the world's "biggest threat to global unrest."

Kasparov, who once expressed interest in running in the 2008 presidential race and who has in recent years become an anti-Putin activist, avoided the question of whether or not he would seek public office. Instead his response was a sobering one: "We should forget about power in Russia changing hands throughout the election process. I'm afraid it will be not a very lawful process and it may eventually end up with the collapse of the country."

Lawful, shmawful.

Jeffco Teacher Promotes Closing Young Minds

I need to get out more. This video dates to 2012, during the Romney-Obama campaign season, but Breitbart and I are just discovering it now. Why? Because it was, and apparently still is, on the Facebook page of a Jeffco 8th grade government studies teacher. Yee Haw! Where were the cool teachers when I was in 8th grade!

It's a very catchy tune with talented vocals but it does have me waxing nostalgic for the day when lyrics were unintelligible. And by the way, if one is "sick and tired of all the hatred you harbor" should she refrain from saying "You say you think we need to go to war well you're already in one, 'cause it's people like you that need to get slew..." and writing a chorus of "F*** you, F*** you, F*** you?"

And yet I do agree with Ms. Allen on one thing: It's not me, it's you.

HT- Friend Jen Raiffie for posting the vid.

But jk thinks:

I saw some of this on FB (I still have not braved through to the end -- missing anything?)

This is a Jon Stewart thing isn't it? Doesn't he have a song like this? I think this is the high-level debate we miss not watching The Daily Show or being in the Eighth Grade.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2014 2:50 PM
But johngalt thinks:

According to the info tab, the song dates to 2008 and the video was "created by a JeffCo R1 Public School Teacher - 8th grade government teacher."

You saw it on Jon Stewart? I wonder if teach' is collecting residuals?

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2014 3:03 PM
But jk thinks:

He has a song with the same charming lyrics in the chorus. When they run out of other arguments, they play it and the crowd goes wild. I thought it was a regular feature but I am no authority.

Would love to see Stewart & Teach'r in a protracted legal action -- kind of an Iraq-Iran war for the rest of us.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2014 5:33 PM

When the ThreeSources Movie Comes Out

I humbly suggest you cast Jeff Bridges as jk:

Posted by John Kranz at 1:33 PM | What do you think? [2 comments]
But johngalt thinks:

A little too nasally, doncha think? And you have better hair.

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2014 2:16 PM
But jk thinks:

I like his enthusiasm (and would trade hair given the opportunity...)

The suggestion actually stems from his performance in "The Fabulous Baker Boys." I do get a kick out of his pursuing this -- this is part of an album release scheduled for this week.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2014 2:46 PM

Quote of the Day II

When you point out the unreality of green energy dreams, you are met with foam-flecked denunciations of the Koch brothers. In fact the opposition to the climateers is tiny by comparison to the resources deployed by the environmental establishment, not to mention the massive sympathy they receive from an uncritical media. From the way people like Al Gore complain you'd think the climateers were up against the teachers union. -- Steven Hayward, Climate Change Has Jumped
the Shark"

Quote of the Day

I mean, if a Native American came along and said, "I'd really like you to rename the team, because I don't want my ancestors, friends and neighbors associated in any way with that many turnovers and an inability to play defense" . . . that's the kind of request you would have to respect. -- Jim Geraghty
But Keith Arnold thinks:

The government wouldn't be able to bitch about the offensive naming of a sports team in DC if the Washington Senators were still around. You want to talk about a label that no self-respecting athlete would want to wear...

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 1, 2014 12:48 PM
But johngalt thinks:

They don't need to change the team name, just the team logo.

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2014 2:14 PM
But jk thinks:

I thought for Hispanic Heritage Month in the NFL, the could be the Brownskins. Just a few weeks.

Posted by: jk at October 1, 2014 2:52 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Please, no specific racial overtones! How about simply, "Swarthyskins?"

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2014 3:06 PM
But Keith Arnold thinks:

It's now October. They'll all be wearing pink for the next month anyway, won't they?

Posted by: Keith Arnold at October 1, 2014 7:04 PM



Lullaby of Broadway

Harry Warren ©1935

Live at the Coffeehouse dot Com


September 30, 2014

Tweet of the Day

Hat-tip: Insty

September 29, 2014

What causes cancer?

"Everything, gives you cancer, There's no cure, there's no answer."

- Joe Jackson

Well yeah, because of all the chemicals and pollution and corporations and stuff, right?


The point is that life expectancy and the percentage of Americans reaching old age are both increasing. That explains why, as a paper in The New England Journal of Medicine showed, cancer was the #8 cause of death in 1900 but the #2 cause of death in 2010.* We aren't dying of cancer because of Monsanto's pesticides and GMOs, as one lady recently said to me in an e-mail. We are dying of cancer because we are running out of things to die from.

Cool article. Very short. Alex B. Berezow explains that we are, slowly, winning the war on cancer.

But jk thinks:

A mind blowing (to me) insight from Matt Ridley's "Genome" was that Cancer strikes after reproductive years (probabilities/tendencies). Ergo, there is no evolutionary selection for immunity. Elephants and tortoises live long, low-predator lives and bear young throughout. So the things that kill old tortoises are less present in the gene pool.

This adds to and does not refute any of the points you made. But there is some real poetry in Ridley's and Hawkins's deeper looks at genetics.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2014 7:18 PM

September 28, 2014

Review Corner

My great-grandfather was born in 1900 in a village called Qiu, which is located in Shandong Province on the east coast of China. Shandong Province is renowned for two seemingly contradictory things: philosophy and banditry.
Not to us, Ms. Raleigh, not to us. I always felt for Ayn Rand (because that's the kind of selfless guy I am). Collectivism destroyed her productive family in Russia. She immigrates to America, then has to watch Rex Tugwell and the New Dealers bring the same economics here.

In Confucius Never Said, Helen Raleigh stays in China until college, witnessing liberalization but experiencing the unconscionable and barely imaginable limitations of Communism. Her family was prosperous until Mao brought that special brand of fairness.

My grandfather was eager to help because he was tired of decades of war, violence, and uncertainty. He craved a peaceful life. Like most people in China, he didn't know what communism stood for, but he figured that he would give his support if the communists delivered the peace and prosperity they promised. He didn't realize that would be the last time he saw his boat.

Raleigh's father and grandfather have a front row seat for the redistribution she is witnessing today. Their close-knit community is ripped apart when her family, though popular, is cast as villainous oppressors.
Initially, some poor farmers were hesitant to identify their neighbors as rich. However, the work team brainwashed the poor farmers into believing that disproportionate property ownership was the main cause of social injustice and that landowners were evil class enemies and exploiters of the poor. With a certain amount of coercion, some poor farmers turned their old grievances or frustrations into hatred for their well -to-do neighbors . Since my great-grandfather owned land, he was classified as a landlord even though he wasn't the richest man in the village.

Once identified as "rich," life becomes unbearably hard for the family, and Raleigh chronicles the difficulties. We know the horrors of the famine (though many Chinese do not), but one is struck by the small things. There are a few train trips to seek education, better opportunities, and finally the author's chance to study in America. We complain about travel, but there is a "papers, please" mentality that makes every stop suspenseful. Communism will starve you if you stay put and administer the death of a thousand cuts if you seek life elsewhere.

The book is outstanding as a close up look at Communism and intriguing biography of the woman who escapes it. The best of Raleigh's book, however, is Raleigh's interest in philosophy and the power of ideas. The title refers to "All men are created equal." Confucius never said that. Confucianism accepts the caste system and a hierarchical society that was overturned in The Enlightenment.

A good friend of mine, Bryan, likes to say "Ideas matter ." Knowing what makes America great also helps explain why civilizations like China, despite their thousands of years' of history, fell so behind in the last two hundred years.

The ideas a society is built upon matter a great deal . For 2000 years, Chinese people followed the moral principles and social orders established by Confucian teaching. Confucius believed that people live their lives within parameters preset by fate. Men should be compassionate towards one another, but there is very little a man can do to change his fate. Peace and harmony in society can only be achieved when every man performs his own social responsibility within the preset social orders. Confucius believed people should obey and respect their rulers just as they obey and respect their fathers, while a ruler should love and care for his subjects as if they were his children. Confucius said many good things, but he never said "All men are created equal," because he believed some men were born to be rulers and some men were born to be subjects.

And yes, that happens to be Brother Bryan quoted. Also quoted are Hayek, Milton Friedman, and William Easterly. In a couple decades here, she has absorbed the philosophical foundations of liberty and prosperity. In "Confucius Never Said" she shares those with us.

Five stars.

UPDATE: Helen Raleigh's talk at LOTR-F"

But johngalt thinks:

In the same spirit in which Rand was critical of the character "Robin Hood" I cringe at Raleigh's choice of "all men are created equal" as a defining idea to differentiate east from west. That is music to an egalitarian socialist's ears, is it not? I would have preferred, "All men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" as her example of what Confucius Never Said.

4.9 stars?

Posted by: johngalt at September 29, 2014 3:59 PM
But jk thinks:

Umm, yeah, we went through this a little.

I am aware of your discomfort with that phrase. While I will not admit to using it just to make you angry, I do not share you aversion.

I am plodding, turbo-Porsche in the mud speed through Rev Samuel Rutherford's "Lex Rex." It scored a spot in Brother Keith's Top Ten and he called The Rev, a precursor ad foundation to John Locke.

Tough sledding for me (and it's biblical foundation might do you physical harm), but Locke, Rutherford and Jefferson all address "is one man born to be the slave of another." I don't hear Harrison Bergeron in the phrase, I hear birthright liberty. "Qua Liberty" if you will allow.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2014 7:34 PM
But jk thinks:

Raleigh is a friend of some friends, and a fan of Ms. Rand. We could quite possibly get further clarification from the author.

Posted by: jk at September 29, 2014 7:43 PM
But T. Greer thinks:

Nah, Confucius is fine with the idea that everybody is created equal. Both Confucius and the eventual Confucian tradition that developed around his purported teachings were completely comfortable with the idea that a no one could become a someone---indeed, they hated hereditary nobility. They were meritocrats from the start, believing that gentlemen were defined by their virtue, righteousness,filial piety and ritual propriety, not their birth or station. The Confucian examination system--which hypothetically allowed a peasant to reach the heights of power if he was virtuous and smart enough--is a good example of this.

On the other hand, China had no conception of 'inalienable rights' until Western ideas and works entered the country in the 1800s.

Posted by: T. Greer at September 30, 2014 1:38 AM
But johngalt thinks:

Would TG agree that "all men are created equal" was the ideological weapon to fight the aristocratic caste system and, once that dragon was slain, individual unalienable rights heralded the true renaissance? I see them as distinct, but complementary, stages of liberty.

This is not criticism of Raleigh's message as much as sharpening it to a finer point.

Posted by: johngalt at September 30, 2014 11:26 AM
But jk thinks:

I don't know that the author's thesis is under scrutiny (though it does not align with tg's assertion). The thing at risk is my expansion. And, to be fair, if you scroll toward the end of the video (47:35), I ask a direct question and she demurs.

Posted by: jk at September 30, 2014 1:14 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Demurred on the Confucius connection perhaps, but not on the idea that "all men are created equal" is the foundational principle of the United States. She later explains that it guides the relationship between the people and their government, which got me thinking about another local activist, Laura Carno, and her "I Am Created Equal" advocacy. She joins Raleigh in saying, "that free people doing what they want with their own property is the foundation of our country and our culture."

So I will cop to philosophic pedantry, as the "created equal" message is more visceral to more folks than "individual unalienable rights." (Wait, wait... in, duh, video, what was that again?)

Posted by: johngalt at October 1, 2014 2:54 PM

September 26, 2014

Quote of the Day

What I am saying is that the constant crisis-mongering outstrips the scope of the problem by orders of magnitude. And, more to the point, it's deliberate. This is the great irony. When I say:

"The U.S. has made enormous environmental progress."
"Sexism and racism are smaller problems than at any time in American history."
"Capitalism helps poor people more than socialism does."
"The best way to feed a bear a marshmallow isnít by putting your hands behind your back and holding the marshmallow between your lips."

. . . the response from the left is that I am merely trying to protect the vested interests of The Man and His League of Extraordinary Meat-Eating Oligarchs. But, when alarmists insist the Earth will burn like an ant under a magnifying glass if we don't ban the internal-combustion engine by this Thursday at noon, it's merely "speaking truth to power." I mean it's not like anybody is making any money off of global warming. It's not like thereís any privilege that comes with being a climate activist. It's not like big corporations would ever think to take advantage of the issue. Nor would government bureaucrats ever use climate hysteria as an excuse to expand their own power. -- Jonah Goldberg [subscribe]

But johngalt thinks:


Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2014 7:02 PM

Today in Pragmatic GOP Politics

Did'ja see this?

Milton Wolf, the tea party candidate who battled Sen. Pat Roberts in a bitter Republican primary fight, is considering some political payback: Endorsing Kansas independent Greg Orman, sources said Thursday night.

But there's a big catch: To win Wolf's endorsement, Orman must first agree to caucus with the Senate GOP if he were to defeat Roberts in the general election.

Interesting. My default reaction is celebrating the team player -- compete in the primary, cooperate in the general. I know nothing about Mr. Orman but Senator Roberts leaves much room for disaffection.

Hat-tip: Insty who says "Oh, please don't"

UPDATE: Dr. Wolf calls "Shenanigans:"

Not Even Watermelons Any More

Blog friend sc shares a link and an observation: "It seems that it's only been in the last few months that progressives are stepping out with this rather than trying to mask it."

It is one thing to see the goofy socialists all come out for the climate change march with their anti-capitalist literature and banners, it's another to see grownups, and I'll kindly include Ms. Naomi Klein and some of the writers at Slate. (Generous R Us, I know.)

The solution to climate change is not just some CFLs and wealth transfer to poor nations in the UN and Neil deGrasse Tyson hectoring us on the Internet. The green skin of the watermelon is peeled away (a very curious way to eat watermelon) and the "red" of the movement is suddenly exposed for all to see.

According to social activist and perennial agitator Naomi Klein, the really inconvenient truth about climate change is that it's not about carbon--it's about capitalism.

Three years ago, Klein wrote a powerful essay for the Nation that tackled this idea. Now, she's turned her argument into a hefty book, which was released last week--just days before hundreds of thousands took to the streets in New York City, many of whom carried banners strikingly similar to the messages Klein supports. (Klein sits on the board of directors at 350.org, an organization at the heart of the growing grass-roots uprising against climate inaction, and which helped organize Sunday's march.)

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate is focused on exposing how the relentless pursuit of growth has locked us in to a system that's incompatible with a stable climate. The bottom line is, the reality of global warming has forced civilization into a hard choice: Either continue on as usual, committing the planet to growing inequality as the effects of climate change escalate and disproportionately affect the poor, or try a radically different path.

Umm, yeah, that terrible status quo that has lifted billions out of poverty and privation. That McCloskleyesque growth curve -- we have to put a stop to that. I don't know if you watched any of Reason's excellent videos where they interviewed the protesters, but Ms. Klein has nailed it They really have moved on from light bulbs.
The divestment movement is a start at challenging the excesses of capitalism. It's working to delegitimize fossil fuels, and showing that they're just as unethical as profits from the tobacco industry. Even the heirs to the Rockefeller fortune are now recognizing this.

The next step is, how do we harness these profits and use them to help us get off fossil fuels?

Well, that's going to have to be legislated. Fossil fuel executives aren't going to just give away their billions.

Exactly. Exxon needs to pay--it's the most profitable company on the planet. It's also the descendent of Standard Oil.

In the book, I talk a lot about Richard Branson's pledge to donate all the profits from his airline to fight climate change. When he made that announcement, it was extraordinary. The problem is, no one held him accountable--well, besides me and my underpaid researcher. But at least Branson's heart was in the right place. These profits are not legitimate in an era of climate change. We can't leave this problem to benevolent billionaires.

What happened at the U.N. Tuesday was the same thing. Instead of a science-based treaty, with carbon targets divided equitably among nations, what you had was governments and corporations randomly making voluntary pledges and hoping it added up to something.

But, hectoring our friends to change their light bulbs is still really really important, isn't it?
You said you've been working on this book for five years. What changes have you made in your own life in that time to change your own footprint? What can readers of your book do?

That's a complicated question. I think the environmental movement has overstressed the consumer side of it. When you start talking about sacrifices, pretty soon people start feeling like chumps. In my town, we have centralized composting, a new system of better bike lanes, and plastic bags are charged for. But Canada's still missing our carbon targets.

Centralized composting. Still missing targets. It gives one pause. You really have to read the whole thing.

UPDATE: The first bad review...

But johngalt thinks:

I'm glad to read that we've moved beyond "obscene" profits to merely "illegitimate" profits. And that enviros no longer want to eliminate them, but to steal them. Some small measure of progress there.

And how far do you suppose she'd get with this argument if it were framed as "Free-Enterprise vs. the Climate" or "The divestment movement is a start at challenging the excesses of free-enterprise?"

Yeah, the scourge of billions of people doing things freely is, simply, unsustainable. "Incompatible with a stable climate." Hey you, over there, butterfly. STOP FLAPPING YOUR WINGS!!

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2014 11:48 AM
But jk thinks:

I do appreciate the honesty. Too often, my lefty buddies say "we don't want to eliminate profits..." But "Yes, we must institute world socialism today to prevent a rise in sea level" has a bold candor about it.

I may have the One Blog Comment to Bind Them here -- take this for a spin:

I listened to Craig Biddle's video Why use the word "Selfishness?" Biddle suggests that a clever interlocutor would quickly guess that your new synonym actually means "selfish" and that it would be as easy to rehabilitate the original. I'll grant that you have a better foundation to bifurcate between "Free Enterprise" and "Capitalism," but I am less convinced that a fresh term would stay unsullied for long.

Posted by: jk at September 26, 2014 1:36 PM
But johngalt thinks:

Is that a reason not to try?

And it's taken roughly a hundred years to sully capitalism this badly. Would you settle for the same lifespan for "free enterprise?"

Posted by: johngalt at September 26, 2014 7:14 PM

September 25, 2014

Tweet of the Day

We are all and each entitled to complex opinions on this president's foreign policy and war leadership.

But -- anybody not like this a whole lot?

But johngalt thinks:

I'm no expert on Islam but it does seem that a jet pilot helmet should count as a "head covering." Who could complain?

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 6:37 PM
But jk thinks:

Praise be his holy name.

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2014 6:48 PM

Gallup: Free Enterprise, Small Business, Viewed Positively by 90% of Americans

Ayn Rand summarized her system of morality this way:

"I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; and I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows."

And I have learned this week that, were she alive today, she would be required to replace the word "capitalism" with "free enterprise." At least until our misguided electorate learns what actual capitalism is.

Perhaps I missed the 2012 Reason Magazine article, that I outlined here and we discussed later here, when it first appeared. But I distinctly remember reading the 2010 Gallup poll that blog brother jk reprised yesterday. And yet the real lesson of its findings eluded me just as it eluded Gallup at the time, as they concluded:

It is apparent that "free enterprise" evokes more positive responses than "capitalism," despite the apparent similarity between the two terms.

Thus concluded their curiosity on the subject. I suppose then that I may be excused for taking so long to see it.

Gallup again:

"Americans were asked to indicate whether their top-of-mind reactions to each were positive or negative. Respondents were not given explanations or descriptions of the terms."


"Capitalism," the word typically used to describe the United States' prevailing economic system, generates positive ratings from a majority of Americans, with a third saying their reaction is negative."

Egads, if the over-taxed, over-regulated, dysfunctionally central-managed economy we now labor under is what most Americans think is "capitalism," it's a minor miracle it scored as positively as it did! But my grandmother's capitalism - defined by Rand as "a full, pure, uncontrolled, unregulated laissez-faire capitalism -- with a separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church" - has not only an "apparent similarity" with free enterprise, it is exactly free enterprise. Or did nobody notice the word "free?"

My wise blog brother observes that libertarians are wrong to insist on pure principles and instead, we liberty and freedom lovers had better, "in our Madisonian system -- form coalitions and use our strengths wisely."

So if Libertarians are the party of liberty uber alles, Republicans the party of big business corporatism and Democrats the party of federal government corporatism where and how do we organize the party of free-market, free-enterprise, small business entrepreneurs? It would seem an easy thing to do inasmuch as it's membership includes over four-fifths of the entire electorate. And yet, we are brought to heel by the established, entrenched, neo-mercantilist statists. Where is the friggin' light switch?

I have advocated a takeover of the GOP. A replacement of all things "establishment" by either "Tea Party Darlings" or "Liberty Activists." We seem to be losing battles in that war at least as often as we win them, perhaps because the battle lines are so convoluted. So this may be a plan for the next primary season rather than any general election but the question for every voter needs to be: Are you with the backroom dealers in both parties who have brought us crisis after crisis, and riches to the well-connected, or are you with we entrepreneurs - the advocates of free enterprise, and the renewal of the American Dream we promise to bring to you?

But jk thinks:

Intriguing, to be sure. On the negative, I wonder to what extent the term "Capitalism" has been polluted and the advantage of "Free Enterprise" is that they have not bother to smite it -- yet.

By the time we change our machines to use it, will the other guys just run it down? I'm thinking of a mutual friend who blogged here in bygone days as "Silence Dogood." He liked Capitalism just fine -- but not "unfettered capitalism." If we swap a term, they will just attach their modifiers and decry "unfettered free markets," Non?

Mister Kudlow had both covered. Every night, the Kudlow Creed: "I believe free market capitalism is the best path to prosperity."

Posted by: jk at September 25, 2014 5:04 PM

Quote of the Day

Happy Birthday, Bill of Rights!

It's difficult to imagine today's Congress thinking up--nevermind passing--anything so profound as what Madison wrote in those ten amendments. But then, the experience of the Founding Fathers was far different from that of today's legislators. By most accounts, Madison, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and other colonists had grown up as happy British subjects. Yet the Founding Fathers would later cast off colonial rule by planning and then engaging in open revolt against Britain. They formed an entirely new country, and established a new form of government. -- Baylen Linnekin

Prepare the Shocked Face...

Germany's, top down, dirigiste, energy policies actually hurt the environment. I know! I was surprised as well!

Berlin's "energy revolution" is going great--if you own a coal mine. The German shift to renewable power sources that started in 2000 has brought the green share of German electricity up to around 25%. But the rest of the energy mix has become more heavily concentrated on coal, which now accounts for some 45% of power generation and growing. Embarrassingly for such an eco-conscious country, Germany is on track to miss its carbon emissions reduction goal by 2020.

Greens profess horror at this result, but no one who knows anything about economics will be surprised. It's the result of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Energiewende, or energy revolution, a drive to thwart market forces and especially price signals, that might otherwise allocate energy resources. Now the market is striking back.

On the other hand, it did drive up energy costs, so it is not a total failure.
Ordinary Germans foot the bill for these market distortions, having ponied up an estimated €100 billion ($129 billion) extra on their electricity bills since 2000 to fund the renewable drive. The government estimates this revolution could cost a total of €1 trillion by 2040.

Berlin is scaling back some taxpayer subsidies for green power. But Germans still also pay for the energy revolution when job-creating investment goes to countries with lower power costs, as happened earlier this year when chemical company BASF said it would cut its investments in Germany to one-quarter of its global total from one-third, and when bad incentives skew generation toward dirtier coal instead of cleaner natural gas.

No fracking, decommissioning nukes... I feel much better about being American today -- ausgetzeichnet!

But johngalt thinks:

Begun in 2000, yes, but the real damage started in 2011 when Chancellor Merkel outlawed nuke plants.

None of this is what environmentalists promise voters when they plug the virtues of a low-carbon future. Germany's coal renaissance is a cautionary tale in what happens when you try to substitute green dreams for economic realities.

But remember, you heard it here first.

Posted by: johngalt at September 25, 2014 2:05 PM

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