Saturday, December 24, 2011

Bill Whittle Recaps the First Three Years Under Obama

For his last Afterburner of 2011 Bill Whittle recaps Obama's first three years.


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That's quite a rcord of non-achievement for three years of what I hope will be a single four-year term.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Voters Guide to Rebublicans

Bill Whittle's latest Firewall video tells you all you need to know about those evil, greedy, fascist, racist Republicans.



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Friday, December 09, 2011

Words Are a Shorthand for the Things They Describe, Not the Things Themselves

Newly minted Samizdatista Rob Fisher has a great post over at Samizdata (of course) on why we should always try to think past the words we use as a kind of shorthand to describe things and be more aware of what they actually mean. For example, "property" or "tax" :

I propose that if people were in the habit of of questioning the deepest meaning of words, that statism would be much less acceptable. For example, such questioning would yield the realisation that 'property' really means what Julie from Chicago described in a recent Samizdata comment: "One's property is untouchable by others because it is the product of a portion of one's life."

Imagine there were no word for tax, or you disciplined yourself not to use it, much as Korzybski recommends listing individuals rather than using group words. You would be unable to say, "I propose an income tax." Instead, you would have to say, "I propose that for every hour you spend working to provide for your family, we are going to demand that you spend a further hour in servitude to some men you have never met, and if you refuse to do this eventually we will send some other men round to your house who will drag you away from your family and lock you in a cell." It would be a lot harder to advocate certain statist ideas.

It should be harder. Read the whole thing.
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Thursday, December 08, 2011

David Harsanyi: Obama Proposes to Save The Middle Class by Enslaving It.

Over at Reason Online, David Harsanyi unbundles President Obama's speech at Osawatomie, Texas Kansas earlier this week:

In Teddy Roosevelt's era, President Barack Obama explained to the nation this week, "some people thought massive inequality and exploitation was just the price of progress....But Roosevelt also knew that the free market has never been a free license to take whatever you want from whoever you can."
And he's right. Even today there are people who believe they should have free license to take whatever they want from whomever they can. They're called Democrats.

It just gets better from there. Read the whole thing.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Eric Raymond: Eight Warning Signs of Junk Science

The next time you hear some claim about science, say something like carbon dioxide generated by human activity is causing the climate to change, you might want to refer back to this handy list of ways to spot when you are being presented with junk science put together by Eric Raymond:

  • Science by press release.
  • Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of eschatological panic.
  • Rhetoric that mixes science with the tropes of moral panic.
  • Consignment of failed predictions to the memory hole.
  • Over-reliance on computer models replete with bugger factors that aren’t causally justified.
  • If a ‘scientific’ theory seems tailor-made for the needs of politicians or advocacy organizations, it probably has been.
  • Past purveyers of junk science do not change their spots.
  • Refusal to make primary data sets available for inspection.

These are good points to rmember, especially in the wake of the latest data-dump of emails among the pedlars of the great AGW/climate change scare, dubbed Climategate 2.0.

Detailed version of the list at the link. Read the whole thing.

(via Samizdata)

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Case for Newt

Professor Jacobson makes the case for why Newt Gingrich should be the Republican nominee for President. I'm begining to lean in that direction myself. I'm definitely not a Romney fan. I just don't trust him. I like Rick Perry alot but he just hasn't been very impressive in the debates ( I recognize that the format is terribly flawed) and I like Hermann Cain alot too but he appears to have very superficial command of some of the most important issues, such as foreign policy. This piece in The American Spectator is also very convincing.

I credit Newt Gingrich, not Bill Clinton, with balancing the federal budget back in the late 90's. Presidents seem to take the credit, or the blame, for budgets, mainly because they ultimately sign them into law, but it is important to remember that all spending bills must originate in the House of Representatives and it was the first Republican majority in 40 years that passed the first balanced budget in decades.

Newt gets the credit in my mind for passing that balanced budget and I am willing to bet that as President he can prevail upon the Congress to do it again.
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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Mark Steyn - Corporate Collaborators

Mark Steyn writes at National Review about corproate collaboration with the Occupy Wall Street movement (is that like a bowel movement?) as "in the Nazi-occupied-France sense: The city’s feckless political class are collaborating with anarchists against the taxpayers who maintain them in their sinecures."

It's all good but here is what it boils down to:

At heart, Oakland’s occupiers and worthless political class want more of the same fix that has made America the Brokest Nation in History: They expect to live as beneficiaries of a prosperous Western society without making any contribution to the productivity necessary to sustain it. This is the “idealism” that the media are happy to sentimentalize, and that enough poseurs among the corporate executives are happy to indulge — at least until the window-smashing starts. To “occupy” Oakland or anywhere else, you have to have something to put in there. Yet the most striking feature of OWS is its hollowness. And in a strange way the emptiness of its threats may be a more telling indictment of a fin de civilisation West than a more coherent protest movement could ever have mounted.


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Thursday, November 03, 2011

DEX Knows Nothing

The other day yet another Yellow Pages directory landed on my driveway (there seem to be several). Having absolutely no use for this dead tree directory due to this wonderful invention called "The Internet" it followed a long line of others straight into the trash. So, it didn't provide me a convenience, it just made work for me. 

Five minutes ago the phone rang. It was a robocall from DEX asking whether I'd gotten their stupid, obsolete book. Press 1 for yes, 9 for no. I suspect if I'd been silly enough to press 9 they'd have promptly sent another one out. There was no option for "Please stop sending me these bloody things! I don't want them."

Does anyone still use the Yellow Pages anymore? If you are a business that does, you may be wasting your advertising budget becasue I  certainly don't use it and don't know anyone that does. I don't look at the Yellow Pages as a convenience, just a waste disposal issue.

/irritable rant.

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Andrew Klavan on What Leftism Does to People

Over at PJ Media, Andrew Klavan explains how leftist ideology inevitably makes people awful:

Leftism is bad for people. It makes them awful. The unwashed, ill-mannered, anti-Semitic, entitled, and now violent mobs littering various parts of the nation under the banner “Occupy” believe their ideas will lead to a better society — but they actually are the society their ideas lead to. Their behavior when compared to the polite, law-abiding, non-racist demonstrations of so-called tea partiers tells you everything you need to know about the end results of statism on the one hand and constitutional liberty on the other.

This is not, of course, to say that every left-winger is a miscreant but rather that the natural, indeed inevitable, result of statism is to produce nations of miscreants. When the state is permitted to make the individual’s moral choices, the individual is forced to become either a slave or a criminal; when the state is permitted to redistribute wealth, it chains the citizen into a rigid, two-tiered hierarchy of power rather than freedom’s fluid, multi-layered rankings of merit and chance; when the people are taught to be dependent on entitlements, they are reduced to violence when, inevitably, the entitlement well runs dry; when belief in the state usurps every higher creed, the people become apathetic, hedonistic, and uncreative and their culture slouches into oblivion. I need hardly expend the energy required to lift my finger and point to Europe where cities burn because the unemployable are unemployed or because the hard-working won’t fund the debts of the indolent; where violent and despicable Islamism eats away portions of municipalities like a cancer while the authorities do nothing; where nations that once produced history’s greatest achievements in science and the arts can now no longer produce even enough human beings to sustain themselves.

Why wait to see such results come home? Leftism is an ignoble creed on the surface of it. Its followers display their awareness of its shamefulness by projecting its evils onto their opposition. Leftists accuse conservatives of avarice, but which is greedier in a person: to seek to hold on to what is his own, or to seek, as the leftists do, to plunder what belongs to others? Leftists call conservatives racist and sexist, but who is it who wants race and gender enshrined in law? Who penalizes white or male babies for sins they never committed on the long-exploded theory that evil can undo evil?Leftists call conservatives hateful…
Read the whole thing.

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

P.J. O'Rourke on Why "Closing the Wealth Gap" is a Bad Idea

P.J. O'Rourke explains why efforts to close the "wealth gap" are a a bad idea and destined to fail, as they have everytime they've been tried. This gets to the heart of the matter:

But proposing to close the "wealth gap" is worse than silly. It entails a lie. The notion of economic equality is based on an ancient and ugly falsehood central to bad economic thinking: There's a fixed amount of wealth. Wealth is zero-sum. If I have too many cups of tea, you have to lick the tea pot. But wealth is based on productivity. Productivity is expandable. Otherwise there wouldn't be any economic thinking, good or bad, or any tea or tea pots either.


Read the whole thing.

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paul Ryan's Speech to the Heritage Foundation

Congressman Paul Ryan gave a speech yesterday at the Heritage Foundation in which he called President Obama (the post-partisan President) on his increasingly strident and divisive class warfare rhetoric.

But instead of working together where we agree, the President has opted for divisive rhetoric and the broken politics of the past. He is going from town to town, impugning the motives of Republicans, setting up straw men and scapegoats, and engaging in intellectually lazy arguments, as he tries to build support for punitive tax hikes on job creators.







The transcript is here if you prefer to read it.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2011

What Profit Represents

Quote of the Day:
" Profits are not deductions from the sum of the public good, but the real measure of the social value a firm creates."
Kevin D. Williamson at National Review, writing about  the late Steve Jobs' contribution to society.

Read the whole thing.
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Friday, September 30, 2011

Will We Choose to Be A Nation of Adults or of Children? Live Free or Die - Bill Whittle

The title of this new Afterburner is "Live Free or Die" but really it is more about the question of what kind of a country or people we want to be. Will we choose to be a nation of adults or one of children whose every decsion is made for them, for their own good, of course.  Bonus Latin lesson:  "age res proprias tuas." Translation: mind your own business. 



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Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Does the Good Life End? Victor Davis Hanson Has the Answer

Victor Davis Hanson  has another great Works and Days column over at PJ Media on why societies decline and are swept away. A couple of excerpts:

The outsourcing of private morality to the state is a particularly modern affliction, but equally as pernicious. We witness the startling paradox that today’s private society is crasser, less honest, and more uncouth even as its government’s official morality stresses gender, race, class, and green ethical superiority. But just because the state now thankfully mandates disabled parking spaces does not mean that we honor a crippled relative more than in the past, or that our children are more likely to write a note of thanks to a grandparent’s gift. I can surely see an erosion in the public expression of manners and morality even as I sense our government is now more “fair” and “equal” than ever before.
[snip]



When poverty is defined as relative want rather than existential need, states decay and societies decline. In the fifth century, Athenians were content to be paid to go to the theater; by the fourth, they were paid also to vote — even as they hired mercenaries to fight and forgot who won at Salamis, and why. Flash mobbing did not hit bulk food stores. The looters organized on Facebook through laptops and cell phones, not through organizing during soup kitchens and bread lines. Random assaults were not because of elemental poverty, but anger at not having exactly what appears on TV.

Obesity, not malnutrition, is the affliction at Wal-Mart. In our strange culture, that someone drives an overpriced BMW apparently means that our own Toyotas don’t have air conditioners or stereos. But that John Edwards or John Kerry or Al Gore has a huge house doesn’t mean that mine is inadequate — or the tract homes that sprout in my community for new arrivals from Mexico are too small.

Of course, the elite have responsibility to use their largess wisely and not turn into the Kardashians. But that a fifth of one percent of the taxpayers are finding ways not to pay at the income tax rate on their large incomes does not hurt the republic as much as 50% of the population paying no income tax at all. The latter noble sorts do not bother us as much, but their noncompliance bothers the foundations of our society far more than that of the stingy, but minuscule, number of grasping rich.
The whole thing is, as usual, worth reading but down in the comments, the always astute cfbleachers has a great summary of what's eating us alive. A partial quote:

A society that is hell bent on trying to find new and unique ways to pick a fight with itself is in for a headache. This current group is so inane and arrogant, it at once picks a fight, declares the matter “settled”, calls any principled dissent “racist” and then apologizes to the world for our entire past.
 
[snip]

The problem, of course…with having the Protest Culture Cult in positions of leadership, is that they can’t produce a budget, have no foreign policy plan, don’t listen to our generals on the ground, can’t fix Wall Street, can’t make a tax program and can’t negotiate a contract with unions…because they have been in “anti” mode for 45 years. They know how to gripe and cry and moan and march in perpetual protest…but, they never had to actually MAKE something, they only had to criticize the efforts of others.





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Monday, September 19, 2011

ObamaJobs! - Just What the Doctor Ordered

I somehow missed this brilliant proposal by my friend, Dr. Paul Hsieh nearly two weeks ago, but this kind of goodness has no expiration date. He has hit upon the solution for the unemployment problem. ObamaJobs! It is modeled after ObamaCare. It's such an obvious solution, we all should have seen it.
Simply by varying a few features of ObamaCare, the president could guarantee nearly “universal” employment just as ObamaCare has guaranteed nearly “universal” health coverage. He could implement an “ObamaJobs” program as follows:
1) Impose a “job mandate” requiring all companies with greater than 50 employees to add 10% new employees to their payrolls. So if a company currently has 50 employees, they would need to hire 5 new workers. If a company has 100 employees, they must hire 10 new workers, etc.
There's more.  Go read the whole thing.
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Is It Time to Mandate SEC Filings by Companies Wishing to Receive Taxpayer Guaranteed Loans?

A Form S-1 is a document a company must file with the Securities and Exchange Commission before it company may offer securities for sale, either equity securities in an IPO or the issuance of public debt. While the online form is only 8 pages long, in reality an S-1 filing can run to hundreds of pages once it is filled out as it must cover several areas of interest to potential investors. This includes, among other things, a description of the company's business, its history, relevant risk factors, the use of the offering proceeds, capitalization and management's discussion and analysis of the business and the company's financial statements. These will include and opinion by an independent auditor as to whether the company's financial statements fairly represent the performance of the business and comply with Generally Accepted Accounting Principals (GAAP) as well as any qualifications to the opinion. 

One of the potential qualifications is what is known as a "going concern" clause which is the audit firm's way of saying "assuming this company remains in business." By inserting that clause in their opinion they are saying that that may not be a safe assumption.  Apparently the auditor's opinion for Solyndra contained this clause and yet the Obama administration pressured the Department of Energy to rush through an approval of a $535 million taxpayer guaranteed loan, despite the Bush administration having turned it down only a couple of months before. There was even concern expressed by DOE analysts that the company was burning cash at such a rate that it would run out by this month. And sure enough, the company filed for bankruptcy, laid off all of its workers and closed its doors on August 31.

If a S-1 was ever filed for this company, I haven't found it and the reason is that the company didn't have to file one because it didn't intend to go public anytime soon. It was entirely funded by venture capital up until the time of the loan.

Yet here I am, an involuntary investor in a bankrupt company, like all the rest of the tax-paying public. I believe that an application for a government loan, guaranteed by the taxpayers, should require the filing of an S-1 or similar disclosure should be made in all cases and that a public comment period of not less than 90 days be mandated before the loan can be made. If the tax-payers can be put on the hook for the loan then they have a right to know what their government is getting them into. The comment period would allow an opprtunity for a crowd-sourced analysis of the company, the soundness of its business case and its financial viability. As long as the government is going to be in the venture capital business and picking winners and losere, and I don't think it should be, this would be a huge leap in transparency and accountability where government and private business intersect. 

Update:  I just went back to Edgar and searched again. I did find an S-1 for Solyndra. I think I probably searched as "Solyndra Corporation" the first time around and it is Solyndra, Inc. Sometimes less is better when searching. In any case, the financials are from pre-revenue 12/31/2006 and 2007 then nine months ended 9/27/2008 and 10/3/2009 and are every bit as ugly as any financial statements I've ever seen, and I do look at a lot of them.  If the company can't get any takers for an IPO, that should be all you need to know about the wisdom of granting a loan. If the market won't touch it, it's sheer idiocy to lend the company money on any terms.
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What We Did Right - A New Afterburner with Bill Whittle

I have nothing to add here. Just watch and enjoy.



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Will LightSquared be the Next Political Favoritism Scandal?

The Solyndra mess, involving $535 million in taxpayer guaranteed loans to a company that the Obama Administration favored and that just went bankrupt only a year after receiving the loan is dominating the headlines now. However, a new scandal may be brewing.
 
There’s a White House scandal involving favoritism towards a specific company high on President Obama’s political agenda — and it’s not Solyndra.


In this case, the company owner happens to be a big Democratic Party donor. And in the pursuit of giving preference to a specific company, the White House undercut a legendary four-star general and potentially undermined U.S. national security. Adding fuel to the explosive story: at one time President Obama was a personal investor, with $50,000 of his own money.
Are we starting to see a pattern here? Taxpayer funded largesse is being bestowed on politically favored companies whose heads and/or major investors just coincidentally happen to be major Democratic Party donors, whether the business is viable on its own or not, while established companies whose heads just coincidenatlly happen to favor Republicans (and are non-union)  are being raided by armed stormtroopers federal agents over the question of whether a certain kind of wood being used to manufacture guitars was obtained in compliance with the laws of another country.  Yet a competing company, which uses the same wood but just happens to be a union shop and whose head happens to donate money to Democrats is left alone. This doesn't look, feel or smell right.

The Obama investment in LightSquared is referred to in the past tense so he doesn't appear to be in a position to profit from any success the company might have, at least not directly. However, through campaign donations from the executives and investors in some of these companies he seems to be making out rather well indirectly.  

This kind of activity is the very definition of what crony capitalism is and these scandals, which seem to be multiplying and growing, is more worthy of some tinpot dictatorship than the once (and hopefully future) greatest country on Earth.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Paul Ryan: Restoring the Rule of Law

In a speech to the students of Hillsdale College (some of whom woke up at the ungodly hour of 8:30 AM to watch it online) Congressman Paul Ryan makes the case for restoring and supporting the rule of law and the Constitution. An excerpt:

The Constitution’s Framers knew that there is a human inclination to increase personal power at the expense of law, so they created Congress as a decentralized and internally divided institution, but they granted it ample authority to secure the rule of law in every case. Congress holds the power of the pen as well as the purse. It has the power necessary to address attacks on the rule of law in our executive bureaucracies and even in the courts. The Constitution provides us with the power to solve these problems; what we need, is the will to do it.
 
I've been told lately that the Constitution is out of date and was never intended to address some of the problems of modernday life. I beg to differ and this speech says why better than I can myself. So as the man says, read the whole thing.

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Defining "Fair" in Obama's "Paying a Fair Share" Rhetoric - Gary Wickert

Over at Pajamas Media Gary Wickert does a little bit of translation for us on what President Obama means when he says the word "fair." Not surprisingly it doesn't seem like the same definition of the word most of us would have in mind.

Of course you should read the whole thing.  Wickert goes on to discuss how unfair what Obama and his acolytes advocate really is. An example:


One thing you will never hear our president explain is precisely what he means when he uses the word “fair.” The word actually means “free from bias, dishonesty, or injustice.” What Obama means, however, is something quite different. What he is saying is that it is not fair that somebody earns more than another, owns more than another, or has more wealth than another. And he intends to make it “fair.”

According to the National Taxpayers Union, the top 10% of wage-earners — families and small business owners who make over $113,799 — pay an incredibly unfair 70% of all federal income taxes. The top 50% of wage-earners pay nearly all federal income taxes. Is that fair? It seems that our president is not going to allow the half of Americans who pay no taxes to bear the burden of the other half who aren’t paying their fair share [my emphasis]. This is why the vast majority of the half who don’t pay any taxes continue to vote for Barack Obama.

For some more thoughts on fairness, go here and here.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

The Rehabilitation of Clarence Thomas' Reputation, On the Left

Writing at his American Interest blog, Walter Russell Mead reviews an article by Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker. Mead notes that the Toobin article is evidence that the left is beginning to respect, perhaps even fear, the intellect and jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas. It is fashionable on the left to mock him as an intellectual lightweight but in dismissing him in this way for all these years they have failed to pay attention to the fact that he has had quite an influence on the way the Supreme Court has looked at questions such as the meaning of the Second Amendment.

There are few articles of faith as firmly fixed in the liberal canon as the belief that Clarence Thomas is, to put it as bluntly as many liberals do, a dunce and a worm. Twenty years of married life have not erased the conventional liberal view of his character etched by Anita Hill’s testimony at his confirmation hearings. Not only does the liberal mind perceive him as a disgusting lump of ungoverned sexual impulse; he is seen as an intellectual cipher. Thomas’ silence during oral argument before the Supreme Court is taken as obvious evidence that he has nothing to say and is perhaps a bit intimidated by the verbal fireworks exchanged by the high profile lawyers and his more, ahem, ‘qualified’ colleagues.
Read the whole thing.

(via Instapundit)
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

John Allison: The Government Caused the Financial Crisis, Not Greed.

The Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, talks with former BB&T CEO John Allison about the causes of the financial crisis. The industries that have the most interference from government are the most screwed up and Financial Sevices is the most regulated of them all.........



Well worth the 11 minutes it will take you to watch it.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Is There An Inalienable Right to Self-Defense?

That is the question Mike McDaniels asks over at Pajamas Media in the context of the British riots and our own Operation Gunwalker/Fast and Furious scandal:


It all comes down to this: Is there an inalienable right to self-defense? If there is, each man has indisputable, inestimable value, value that he may rightly preserve even if the life of another man is forfeit. A man may kill another in lawful self-defense even if the policy preferences of the state would prefer his death. If a right to self-defense actually exists, it is in a very real sense the highest law of the land and all lesser laws must pay it deference. It fundamentally defines the social contract, the nature of the relationship between man and the state.

But if there is no such inalienable right, the entire nature of the social contract is changed. Each man’s worth is measured solely by his utility to the state, and as such the value of his life rides a roller coaster not unlike the stock market: dependent not only upon the preferences of the party in power but upon the whims of its political leaders and the permanent bureaucratic class. The proof of this analysis surrounds us.
Irony abounds in that England, the cradle of the common law and of our doctrine of self-defense, has utterly done away with even a government-condescended privilege to self-preservation. Not only have the English allowed themselves to be virtually stripped of firearms, British politicians have made attempts with varying degrees of success to ban knives. Attempting to protect the self or others from brutal criminal attack can and will lead to lengthy jail sentences in jolly old England — for the victims. Attacking criminals often go free, and often successfully sue their victims for daring to harm them in the process of depriving them of property or their very lives.
Why did the riots in London occur?
England has seen riots because the English allowed those who rule them to place what value they choose on the lives of Englishmen. They chose the indolent, the parasites, the criminals, the barbarians over honest, productive Englishmen and denied them their very right to exist when attacked by members of the parasitical class, the class established by the state and the class which perpetuates the state lest its very nourishment be cut off.
And what value is our own government placing on the lives of individuals such as Brian Terry, a Border Patrol Agent murdered with a gun that our own government knowingly allowed to fall into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels?


And now the Obama administration has revealed its assessment of the value of the life of a Border Patrol officer: Zero. Agent Terry is of no value, for the crime was committed not against him, but the state, which in its wisdom and mercy is far more concerned with protecting feckless bureaucrats and politicians than American citizens.
I happen to believe my right of self defense is inalienable and absolute. The instinct for self defense is hard-wired into the DNA of every creature on the planet and this right may not exist solely at the whim of the state.


Read the whole thing.
(via Instapundit)
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Saturday, August 20, 2011

Bill Whittle Explains......

.....Our Progressive Nightmare:


And the conservative Solution:


Plus some Q&A:


Well worth your time to watch, so please do.

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Deal - Bill Whittle

Need I say it? Watch.


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Obamacare Conflict of Interest - Major Democrat Donor IT CEO Appointed to Health & Human Services Health Information Technology Policy Committee....

.... And her company stands to benefit from what it recommends. Andrew Breitbart's BigGovernment has the story:


The Washington Examiner’s Lachlan Markay broke news this week about the appointment of a major liberal donor, Judith Faulkner, CEO of Epic Systems Corporation, to the Health & Human Services Health Information Technology Policy Committee. Markay reports that Judy Faulkner was appointed to a stimulus-created board that is charged with disbursing billions of taxpayer dollars for health information technology adoption despite her opposition to the administration’s interoperability goals, which require that health records be shareable across platforms.

Faulkner and her company oppose the president’s vision for health IT, but Epic employees are massive Democratic donors. They’ve given nearly $300,000 to Democrats since 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Faulkner is also the sole representative for the health IT industry on the committee, which has the power to set industry standards. Does anyone doubt that any adopted standards will work to the benefit of Epic Systems? This is a serious conflict of interest for Epic Systems and the Department of Health and Human Services. It is, however, a fairly predictable conflict of interest, highlighting one of the myriad objections to central planning known as regulatory capture. Simply put, regulatory capture is when government agencies work in the interest of specific commercial interests instead of their original charter, and is extremely common due to the fact that industry has the strongest incentive to assume control of the regulatory process. Given this, why should Americans trust any decision made by HHS on Health IT policy?
Sadly, this is not terribly surprising. Actually, with this corrupt an administration it's all too predictable.

Read the whole thing.

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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Mark Steyn on Lessons of the London Riots

Mark Steyn'e weekly column in the Orange County Register is his take on the past week's mob violence in London. The bottom line:
Big Government means small citizens: it corrodes the integrity of a people, catastrophically. Within living memory, the city in flames on our TV screens every night governed a fifth of the Earth's surface and a quarter of its population. When you're imperialists on that scale, there are bound to be a few mishaps along the way. But nothing the British Empire did to its subject peoples has been as total and catastrophic as what a post-great Britain did to its own.

Read the whole thing.

Update: Theodore Dalrymple adds his tuppence worth.
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Saturday, August 06, 2011

When Is a Budget Cut Not a Budget Cut?

It is when you use the (unprincipled) principle of baseline budgeting. I sat down to write something about how the federal government's use of this technique, as it did last week, to simultaneously claim both spending increases and spending cuts but I found that the Intellectual Conservative beat me to it (read the whole thing, of course):


Baseline budgeting says that the budgetary estimate of government spending in any fiscal year is automatically assumed to continue at pre-ordained rates of expansion in all subsequent years. This definition, boiled down to its least common denominator, means that spending never decreases from one year to the next.
P.J. O'Rourke had an amusing illustration of how this works in his 1991 book, Parliament of Whores:


Say the federal government has a program to teach self-esteem, motivation and marketable job skills to debutantes. Call it DebSelf. And say that congress has authorized $100 million in 1990 DebSelf funding. 1991 budgeteers would then factor in 5 percent for inflation, not a 10-percent increase in the population of girls who had coming-out parties in the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Areas' civilian labor force, assume a 10-percent increae in DebSelf program utilization based on Census Bureau surveys of cotillion-ball activity and give DebSelf a $125 million baseline. (Note that using the current services baseline reasoning, DebSelf grows to be a $10 billion program in twenty years.)
Until we abolish the use of this technique we will never see the federal budget cut as ordinary people like ourselves understand a budget cut; actually spending fewer dollars this year than we did last year. In the example above, the government will claim that the DebSelf program spending is flat and if say, a proposal is made to cut the 5% inflation assumption to 4%, the program still grows but the program's defenders will scream that it is being cut by 20%.

If a company in the private sector used baseline budgeting the executive management would end up in prison, and rightly so. Any company that spends more than it brings in in cash is going to actually cut costs if it wants to continue in business. It will lay off employees, close unprofitable lines of business, sell assets, etc. That is reality for any of us that can't print our own money or have a no-limits Visa card.

This should be the next mission for us Tea Partiers: honest budgeting using real dollar cuts. I'd say federal spending should be cut to 2006 levels, useless departments shut down and employees laid off. It's time the federal government lived with the realities the rest of us do.

Update: A minor case of link rot appears to have afflicted this post. The link to the Intellectual Conservative no longer takes you to the post. It can now be found at Philadelphia Speaks.
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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tweeting Financial Armageddon with Iowahawk

The always brilliant Iowahawk tweets the number of calamities that will befall us if the debt limit isn't raised. This one is just too horrible to contemplate:

Cowboy poetry utterly lacking in metre.
Even Sesame Street won't be immune:
Sesame Street descends into Mad Maxian anarchy; Oscar the Grouch fashions shivs out the letter J and the number 4
Read the whole thing.

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Liberalism: A Luxury We Can't Afford

That's the title of a post by John Hinderaker over at Power Line this morning and here is how he sums up Liberalism:

Liberalism is a sort of parasite that feeds on the wealth that free enterprise creates. Liberalism exists for two reasons: 1) to stuff the pocketbooks of those who have learned to live at the taxpayers’ expense, and 2) to feed the moral vanity of those who can’t resist meddling in other peoples’ lives. When times are good, the economy can drag a fair amount of liberalism along behind it. But when times are hard, liberalism is a luxury we can’t afford.

(H/T MBG)
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Read the whole thing.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who's Afraid of Private Industry?

Over at Power Line, John Hinderaker asks "Who's Afraid of Private Industry?" and makes some good points about who  we should really be afraid of:

Many liberals think that the primary purpose of government is to protect them from private industry. I have never understood that. History suggests that it is governments that should be viewed warily, not private enterprise. When has the electric company ever hauled people out of their beds, lined them up against a wall and shot them? When has an automobile manufacturer ever asserted the right to appropriate big chunks of anyone’s income, whether they like it or not? Companies just compete for my business. They supply me with things I enjoy and need, and, with rare exceptions, I like them.

The government, on the other hand, takes close to half of my income by force, drives up the cost of everything I buy with indirect taxes and needless regulations, complicates what should be easy transactions, and will surely do worse the moment we all stop paying attention. So I count on private companies to help protect me against government.
 
He's exactly right. There's more. Read the whole thing.
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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Disturbing Thoughts on the Possible Consequences of a US Debt Downgrade

Glenn Reynolds excerpted and linked to a post by Kevin D. Williamson over at National Review Online talking about the repercussions of a rating agency downgrade of US Treasury debt. It isn't a pretty picture but another Instapundit reader has some even more disturbing thoughts to share in an update to Glenn's orignal post. Here is part of it:

Here’s the position I think we may be in. We’ve been negotiating with the President and The Democrats in Congress on the assumption that they’re sane. It’s okay to play hardball with these guys because eventually, whether they like it or not, reality insists upon itself and they have to cave. It’s a painful process so you expect some tantrum throwing and caterwauling, but eventually they HAVE to accept reality. Except if they’re not sane. If they want five apples and there’s only two plus two but they CAN’T ACCEPT that two plus two equals four. Orwell wasn’t just writing a parable about the eventual end point of IngSoc. He was describing what human psychology can drive Ministers to inflict upon the populace for the sake of “justice”. I’m worried they’ll pull the trigger on default as just one more “political” step in the march towards freedom from want or whatever other principle they’re operating under. They’re playing this game as if they could win, as if taxes in a downturn are a good idea with benign consequences. As if debt equivalent to GDP is survivable for the world’s anchor economy/currency, let alone sustainable.

And so maybe, just maybe, Republican strategy (what little there is of it) has badly misread the opposition. Obama tried to add 400 billion in taxes to a deal he had already agreed with Boehner at the last minute. Boehner walks out cause Obama is negotiating in bad faith and has been all along, but what if Obama is actually incapable of good faith negotiation? I think right now that it’s actually possible we won’t see a deal at all. Because the Republicans are looking at the math and at reality and saying “Okay, Democrat demands can’t be serious because they can’t possibly work” and Democrats are looking at politics and how it works and saying “We don’t have to give in cause that’s not how you win these things. You pin it on the other guy politically and then reap the political dividends.”
Read the whole thing.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What Do You Get When Capital Is Absent? One Word: Haiti

Jeffrey Tucker at the Ludwig von Mises Institute examines why commerce and trade alone are not sufficient by themselves to create wealth using Haiti as an example. Both are necessary conditions and both occur there, so why isn't Haiti prosperous? It is the lack of capital which he defines as an institution. Capital is goods, not goods to be consumed but to be used in the production of other goods for consumption. It is a near certainty in Haiti that any capital anyone begins to accumulate will be systematically looted by the government. It's a very insightful article and you should definitely read the whole thing but here is the conclusion: 

Now, to be sure, there are plenty of Americans who are firmly convinced that we would all be better off if we grew our own food, bought only locally, kept firms small, eschewed modern conveniences like home appliances, went back to using only natural products, expropriated wealthy savers, harassed the capitalistic class until it felt itself unwelcome and vanished. This paradise has a name, and it is Haiti.


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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Advice on How to Handle Friendships With Liberals

Belladonna Rogers has an advice column over at Pajamas Media on how to deal with liberals entitled "The Unbearable Smugness of Liberals: A Guide for the Perplexed." She has some great advice for a conservative reader living in the deep, deep blue territory of San Francisco. It's all good but this advice for conservative women stands out, and I'd say it applies almost equally well to men:


(8) Many conservative women, in particular, encounter liberal men in social settings who become uncontrollably loud and abusive when a conservative woman fails to nod pleasantly and express respectful agreement with his political views. When this happens, remain as cool as you can. Hold your ground. Let the liberal become apoplectic while you calmly say, “I disagree with your characterization” or “I don’t share your contempt,” “I don’t accept your premises,” or “I see things differently.”

You be the rational one, while the liberal is driven around the bend not only by your views and your knowledgeable statement of facts, but also by your composure and your refusal to be bullied.

Don’t be surprised or stunned into silence or submission when this happens. And it will happen. Expect it. Trust me.

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Read the whole thing.
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Saturday, July 02, 2011

The Failure of Al Gore - Part Three

Walter Russell Mead has a third essay up about the failure of Al Gore and the Climate Change movement, "Singing the Climate Blues." Mead attributes Gore's failure mainly to his worldview, which is stuck somewhere in the past and his inability, like many of his ilk, to see the world as it is and adapt.  A sample:

The trouble and even the tragedy of Al Gore is that he comes at the tail end of this tradition; he is a living example of what you get when a worldview outlives its time. He presses the old buttons and turns the old cranks, but the machine isn’t running any more. The priests dance around the altar, the priestess chews the sacred herbs, but the god no longer speaks. Like President Obama watching a universal healthcare program that he thought would secure his place in history turn into an electoral albatross and a policy meltdown, Al Gore thought that in the climate issue he had picked a winning horse. Judging from his Rolling Stone essay he has no idea why the climate movement failed, and no clue at all about how he could re-think the issue.
Read the whole thing, of course. Links to parts one and two are here.

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Walking Into Mordor With Bill Whittle

Bill Whittle's latest Firewall video is up.......



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Friday, July 01, 2011

The Global Warming Counterargument...

....from Ray spencer and Bill Whittle.



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Andrew Klavan Has a Question for the Ages

Why do black people vote for Democrats?



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The Scourge of the ATM Machine

Brought to you by Mary Katharine Ham.....



(via Instapundit)

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Who Is the Forgotten Man?

Samizdata's Quote of the Day for yesterday:

“Now who is the Forgotten Man? He is the simple, honest laborer, willing to earn his living by productive work. We pass him by because he is independent, self-supporting, and asks no favors. He does not appeal to the emotions or excite the sentiments. He only wants to make a contract and fulfil it, with respect to both sides and favor on neither side. He must get his living out of the capital of the country. The larger the capital is, the better living he can get. Every particle of capital which is wasted on the vicious, the idle, and the shiftless is so much taken from the capital available to reward the independent and productive laborer. But we stand with our backs to the independent and productive laborer all the time. We do not remember him because he makes no clamor; but appeal to you whether he is not the man who ought to be remembered first of all, and whether, on any sound social theory, we ought not to protect him against the burdens of the good-for-nothing.”

- The Forgotten Man, page 209 from On Liberty, Society and Politics. The Essential Writings of William Graham Sumner, Edited by Robert C. Bannister.

Very well said. Johnathan Pearce has further comments on the quote so click on over and take a look.  More Sumner essays are available free of charge at the online library of Liberty Fund.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Failure of Al Gore and the Green Movement

I haven't blogged about the global warming/climate change debate in quite a while as I was getting rather exhausted with the subject and others are doing a much better job of shining light on the subject. One such is Walter Russell Mead who has written  a pair of essays on Al Gore and the Green movement, the failure of their argument for a Global Green Carbon Treaty and why the whole enterprise was and is destined to fail. Part One is here and Part Deux is here. Of course you should read both essays but here is a sample from Part Deux:

Mr. Gore’s work up to and including his latest Rolling Stone essay has taken a demagogic rather than intellectual approach. His method of arguing is to trumpet the science of climate change and to make ad hominem arguments against its opponents. The science is clear, it is settled, and the opposition against it is funded by people with an economic stake in denial. I am right about the science and my opponents are a bunch of evil opportunists in it only for the money.

That is Mr. Gore’s position, and it is his entire position. He says nothing about the feasibility of the proposed GGCT or its cost effectiveness. That, presumably, we must take on faith. There is nothing to discuss about policy. It is essentially the cry of Chicken Little: “The sky is falling and we must run and tell the king.”

Thus speaketh Al Gore: the world is burning down and so you must immediately follow my plan for fixing what’s wrong. He does not discuss whether his plan is feasible; to anyone who objects to the ponderous, unwieldy Rube Goldberg style green treaty agenda, Gore simply bellows: “What’s the matter you soul-dead, hired flack of the evil oil companies, don’t you believe in Science?”

Al Gore’s logic is exactly like the genealogy of the man who boasted that his line of descent went all the way back to Julius Caesar — with only two gaps. Gore’s ironclad argument has only two gaps: he presents no evidence that the GGCT is either feasible (that it would be efficacious if put into practice and that it can in fact be put into practice in a reasonable time frame) or economical (that it is the cheapest and most effective means of reaching the goal, and that the cost of the fix is less than the cost of the problem).

This is the method of the global green movement as shaped by Al Gore: an ever-crescendoing invocation of blizzards, droughts, locusts and floods aims to stampede the populace into embracing one of the most dubious and unworkable policy prescriptions ever presented to the public eye.
And from Part One on Gore's rank hypocrisy:

But you cannot be a leading environmentalist who hopes to lead the general public into a long and difficult struggle for sacrifice and fundamental change if your own conduct is so flagrantly inconsistent with the green gospel you profess. If the heart of your message is that the peril of climate change is so imminent and so overwhelming that the entire political and social system of the world must change, now, you cannot fly on private jets. You cannot own multiple mansions. You cannot even become enormously rich investing in companies that will profit if the policies you advocate are put into place.

It is not enough to buy carbon offsets (aka “indulgences”) with your vast wealth, not enough to power your luxurious mansions with exotic low impact energy sources the average person could not afford, not enough to argue that you only needed the jet so that you could promote your earth-saving film.

You are asking billions of people, the overwhelming majority of whom lack many of the basic life amenities you take for granted, people who can’t afford Whole Foods environmentalism, to slash their meager living standards. You may well be right, and those changes may be necessary — the more shame on you that with your superior insight and knowledge you refuse to live a modest life. There’s a gospel hymn some people in Tennessee still sing that makes the point: “You can’t be a beacon if your light don’t shine.”

 




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Monday, June 27, 2011

Who Are the Socialists?

There are none, according to Victor Davis Hanson:

There are none. Only technocratic overseers who wish to give someone else’s money to others as a means of winning capitalist-style lifestyles and power for themselves — in a penultimate cycle of unsustainable spending. When this latest attempt at statism is over, Barack Obama will enjoy a sort of Clintonism, a globe-trotting post officium lifestyle of multimillion dollar honoraria to fund a lifestyle analogous to “two Americas” John Edwards, “earth in the balance” Al Gore, a tax-exempt yachting John Kerry, a revolving-door Citibank grandee like Peter Orszag, or a socialist Strauss-Kahn in $20,000 suits doling out billions to the “poor.”
 
"So what is Socialism?"

It is a sort of modern version of Louis XV’s “Après moi, le déluge” – an unsustainable Ponzi scheme in which elite overseers, for the duration of their own lives, enjoy power, influence, and gratuities by implementing a system that destroys the sort of wealth for others that they depend upon for themselves.
 
And there's this:

This discussion is, of course, a belabored example of why and how socialists do not like socialism. Indeed, statism is not a desired outcome, but rather more a strategy for obtaining power or winning acclaim as one of the caring, by offering the narcotic of promising millions something free at the expense of others who must be seen as culpable and obligated to fund it — entitlements fueled by someone else’s money that enfeebled the state, but in the process extended power, influence, and money to a technocratic class of overseers who are exempt from the very system that they have advocated.
Read the whole thing.


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Friday, June 24, 2011

Mr Kelly Goes to Washington - and Gives'em Hell

A magnificent rant by Congressman Mike Kelly (R-PA), taking both sides of the aisle to task, and the Democrats in particular, over the lack of progress on passing a budget.


(via Hot Air)
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Brilliant Defense of Free Speech by Mark Steyn

Mark Steyn makes a remote appearance at an event held by Australia's Institute for Public Affairs to stand up for the free speech rights of Australia's best known conservative columnist, Andrew Bolt. Bolt is being prosecuted under the country's very restrictive racial tolerance laws.

(Via  Power Line)
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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Is Dmitri Medvedev to the Right of Obama?

By this account at Power Line it certainly sounds plausible.

Read the whole thing.

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The Wisdom of Winston

Samizdata's Quote of the Day today:

We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle

- Winston Churchill
The fact that this isn't self-evident is a crying shame.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

OMG, It's Right Under Me!

I don't know why this one amuses me so much but it does.


Your mileage may vary.

(via Charlie Martin at The Tatler)

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Klavan's Economic Smackdown: Paul Ryan vs. Barack Obama

Andrew Klavan compares the Ryan Medicare plan (an actual plan) to Obama's (demagoguery).



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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Monday, June 06, 2011

Nemesis Strikes Again

Victor Davis Hanson returns once again to the theme of Nemesis in this piece over at Pajamas Media.

Nemesis is always hot on the trail of hubris, across time and space, and the goddess has been particularly busy in destroying the carefully crafted images of Bono, John Edwards, Timothy Geithner, Al Gore, Eliot Spitzer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Anthony Weiner, and a host of others. What do their tax hypocrisies, sexual indulgences, and aristocratic socialist lifestyles all have in common?

Collectively, they represent a self-appointed or elected global elite that oversees, lectures about — in sanctimonious fashion — the ethical responsibilities of the redistributive state. Bono and his ensemble may be the highest paid rock group in the world, the most eager to shake a finger at Western governments on their moral duties to help the less fortunate. He is a pop icon always ready to fault the consumerist Western lifestyle. But Bono and his pals are quite determined to avoid Irish tax laws to ensure more of their hard-won capitalist profits so necessary to support their global lifestyles, at a time when their alma mater is broke and unable to fund its once ample entitlements.

They are all part of what Angelo Codevilla called the Ruling Class. They make the rules to apply to us, but not to them.

The always astute commenter cfbleachers adds the following to VDH's piece:

If you pay homage to the leftist propaganda machine, you don’t have to worry about accountability.

You have to worry about karma.

You have to be a complete imbecile to be a leftist and get caught in a scandal. Tony Baloney lied through his teeth, blamed others, said it was a frame up by wingnuts, said he was hacked….

John Edwards lived in “two Americas”, one where honor and integrity were merely trifling things and the other where he lied about them with impunity.

Barney Frank has never been made to come clean about the prostitution ring in his basement or his close ties to Fannie’s internal collapse.

Obama and Rezco, his and Michelle’s law licenses, Ayers, ….there is a pathway from the lack of accountability that leads directly to corruption.

Republicans, being held to a higher standard by BOTH constituencies, fair far worse when exposed.

Leftists being held to NO standard by their own, and, in fact often given great cover…are the new integrity welfare state. They are dependent upon the coverup and corruption in the media and their inner circles. The conspiracy of silence destroys their need for honor.

Nothing they do, say or promote gets examined…and therefore it becomes weak, corrupt and necrotic.

They are the permanent ethical underclass, living in a ghetto of no scruples. And, worst of all…it looks like paradise to them.

Read it all.
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