The Ever-Shrinking Democratic Field

Years from now, when historians write the story of the 2020 U.S. presidential election and they recall the names of the twenty-eight candidates who sought the Democratic nomination, they will have just one question.  They will ask, “Who were those people, and what in the hell made them think they were presidential caliber?”

One Democrat who has been thinking… quite correctly… is Rep. Al Green, who has represented Houston’s 9th Cong. District in Congress since 2005.  Green was one of the first Democrats to call for Donald Trump’s impeachment and he reiterated that position in an August 8 interview on CNN. 

In that interview, Green made it clear exactly how much he hates and despises Donald Trump, expressing a desire to not only remove him from office, but to do it in such a way that Trump would be totally and utterly destroyed.  He said, “To defeat him at the polls would do history a disservice.  To do so would do our nation a disservice, and would not allow us to do (to him) what they did in 1868 when Andrew Johnson, who was the bigot of his time, who was impeached by the radical Republicans…” 

Green is convinced that “There ought to be radical Democrats and Republicans who are willing to rise to the occasion and say to this president, ‘You are unfit, unworthy, and you must be removed from office.’”  He concluded by saying, “(Democrats) can’t let him walk the Earth without that stain (of impeachment).”

It would be interesting to know exactly who Green would choose from the ever-shrinking Democratic field who could even begin to accomplish what Trump has accomplished.  As a Democrat, he might choose a colleague such as Rep. Hank Brown (D-GA), a member of the House Judiciary Committee who has now voted in favor of Trump’s impeachment.  It was Hank Brown who stunned Admiral Robert Willard, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, saying he feared that stationing 8,000 additional Marines on Guam would cause the island to “become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.”  As proof of the old adage that the people get exactly the quality of representation they deserve, Hank Brown’s intellectual capacity is representative of a great many Democrats in Congress.

But who would Green select from among the remaining announced candidates?  Of the twenty-eight candidates who have announced, to date, four of whom were so unremarkable that no one knew they were running, thirteen have already withdrawn, leaving fifteen candidates.  Of these, six candidates (Booker, Castro, Delaney, Steyer, Williamson, and Yang) are seen as having not even a remote chance of winning the nomination, leaving Democrats with just nine candidates to choose from.  These include Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO), former vice president Joe Biden (D-DE), former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN), Cong. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former Massachusetts governor Duval Patrick, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).  

Of these, seven have all-but-disqualifying fatal flaws. In addition to Joe Biden’s serious health problems, making it all but impossible for him to maintain a campaign schedule even half as rigorous as Trump’s, he has major family-related corruption problems which haven’t even begun to cause major damage, as yet.  As the appearance of major corruption drag Biden deeper and deeper into the political mire, he will find it impossible to continue.  Having already slipped to fourth in some national polls, Biden can be expected to withdraw before the Iowa caucuses.  

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a unique case.  Serving as the mayor of the nation’s 306th largest city is not a major qualification for the presidency.  Thus, his political fortunes may ultimately rest on the strength of his military service and on the fact that he is openly gay.  At this point in the 21st century, most Americans are willing to accept the notion that a few of our family and friends may be homosexual or bisexual.  Most are indifferent to the issue, taking a live-and-let-live stance.  However, African Americans are known to be strongly anti-gay and it has been many years since a Democrat has won statewide or national office without carrying a prohibitive share of the black vote. 

But the question arises, are there limits to the tolerance that most heterosexuals display?  In other words, if a heterosexual couple would refuse to rent a spare bedroom to a gay or lesbian couple, would they be just as intolerant of the notion of sodomy taking place in the White House… in the Lincoln Bedroom?  As matters now stand, with Buttigieg seen as a long-shot for the presidential nomination, the question of his sexual orientation has not been an issue.  But how far does such tolerance extend?  Democrats may soon have to decide, but not until they’ve entered the privacy of the voting booth.  The opinions they express outside the voting booth will not always inform the decisions they make inside the voting booth.  Scratch Pete Buttigieg.

Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont, is a self-described Democratic socialist.  He has developed a large following among young (age 18-36) liberals and progressives.  However, while he may attract young votes in the traditionally blue states, he would have a difficult time in the South, the Southwest, the Mountain States, the Farm Belt, and the Rust Belt.  Sanders would be 83 years, 4 months, and 11 days old when he completed a four-year term in January 2025.  Having suffered a heart attack while on the campaign trail in recent months, will he be able to withstand the rigors of the campaign trail for the next twelve months?  That is highly unlikely.  Scratch Bernie Sanders.

Senator Elizabeth Warren is the one 2020 candidate who seems to have a bit of staying power and she appears to be in good health.  However, her insistence that Medicare-for-all is a valid idea, in spite of her stunning cost estimate of $52 trillion over ten years, is bringing denunciation from every part of the political spectrum… left, right, and center.  The American people, while willing to pay for the best quality healthcare, have a strong aversion to what has always been known as “socialized” medicine.  They are not likely to changes their minds on that issue in 2020.  Scratch Elizabeth Warren.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, while a relatively popular mayor of New York, has proven himself to be quite dilettantish on the issues.  He has bought into the “global warming” hoax and he has spent a great deal of political capital attempting to limit the size of soft drinks that New Yorkers can consume.  As a multi-billionaire and a late entrant into the race, Bloomberg is seen by a great many Democrats, even among his fellow competitors, as a rich man trying to buy the presidency.  Scratch Mike Bloomberg.

Finally, former Massachusetts governor Duval Patrick, having entered the race very late, has had very little chance to build a field organization anywhere but in Massachusetts.  And with a cheering-squad of just one, Barack Obama, there is little or no chance that Patrick has time to create a political movement behind his cause.  Scratch Duval Patrick.

Of the twenty-eight Democrat candidates who announced their intentions to seek the Democratic nomination, that leaves Democrats with just three to choose from: Sen. Michael Bennet, of Colorado; Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, of Hawaii; and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota.  And if all these assessments are valid, we can finally begin to understand why Nancy Pelosi, Jerry Nadler, and Adam Schiff are so hell-bent on impeaching Donald Trump, on grounds that do not even deserve to be called “flimsy.”

And as the attorney general, the Justice Department Inspector General, and U.S. Attorney Durham begin to put some meat on the bones of what is sure to be the greatest political scandal in U.S. history, Democratic chances in November 2020 will become slimmer and slimmer.  Congressman Al Green has it just right.  Since Democrats have little or no chance of winning the presidency, or to win control of either House of Congress, their only alternative is to remove Trump from office by impeachment.

As a long-suffering victim of Democratic treachery for sixty years, this is the day I’ve been waiting for.       

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The Failure of American Justice

On Wednesday, October 23, two clients of Donald Trump‘s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, pleaded not guilty to federal campaign finance crimes during an appearance in Manhattan federal court.  The two men, Russian-born Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were released on $1 million bonds and subjected to house arrest at their homes in Florida.  According to an ABC News report, the indictments outline a “foreign national donor scheme” alleging the men conspired to circumvent federal election law by funneling foreign money to candidates in U.S. elections.  The indictments detail how the defendants allegedly funneled $1-2 million’ from a Russian donor into the U.S. political system between June 2018 and April 2019.

The two men face charges including conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and falsification of records.  ABC News reports that  the defendants have “in recent weeks become key figures in the congressional impeachment inquiry against the president,” suggesting that they “played a significant role in assisting the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in digging up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his family.  It is also alleged that Parnas and Fruman made a series of illegal contributions that included a $325,000 donation to the pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, and that the two violated the law by falsely reporting the source of those funds.   

The indictments cause us to once again deplore the existence of a double standard in U.S. law enforcement under which Republican-linked wrongdoing is thoroughly investigated and severely punished, while the same violations, linked to Democrats, are ignored, excused, and covered up. 

For example, in July 2008, Barack Obamaboasted that, as of May 31, that year, his contributor base numbered some 1.5 million people, with one-fourth, or $66.25 million of his $265 million, coming from those contributing $2,000-2,300… some 33,200 people.  Thus, the remainder, or $198.75 million, came from some 1.47 million people, each contributing $5, $10, $20… or, as Obama assured us, “whatever they could afford.”    

While it is true that Obama is the kind of guy who could read Bill Clinton’s golf scorecard off a teleprompter and make it sound convincing, simple arithmetic should have told him that $198.75 million cannot be contributed by 1.47 million people in “$5, $10, or $20” amounts.  Each of those 1.47 million people would have had to contribute, on average, $135 to create a pool of $198.75 million… and that simply does not happen.  It has never happened before in American politics and it did not happen during the 2008 presidential campaign.

But then, in October 2008, the Obama campaign compounded their error.  They reported that their contributor base had increased from 300 1.5 million to 2.5 million people, and that the total amount raised approached $600 million.  If we can assume that 25% of their contributions still came from individuals giving $2,000-2,300, that base had grown from 33,200 individuals to 65,000 in a time span of just three months, and the number of individuals contributing modest amounts… “$5, $10, $20, or whatever they could afford”… had grown from 1.47 million to 2.43 million people, each contributing, on average, $185.  Anyone who believes that bold-faced lie will believe almost anything.  So how did they do it? 

In a July 25, 2008, column we pointed out that UBS Americas, headed by Robert Wolf… along with George Soros, one of Obama’s top two bundlers… had been accused of highly unethical and illegal banking practices in six months of hearings by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.  According to an article in The Nation, UBS Americas, a subsidiary of UBS, of Zurich, Switzerland, had advised wealthy Americans, including many of our worst villains, how to shelter funds from the IRS, as well as from prosecutors, creditors, disgruntled business associates, family members, and others.     

In a Statement of Facts in the criminal trial of former UBS executive Bradley Birkenfeld, it was alleged that UBS took extraordinary steps to help American clients manage their Swiss accounts without alerting federal authorities.   For example, UBS advised American clients to avoid detection by using Swiss credit cards to withdraw funds, to destroy all offshore banking records, and to misrepresent the funds received from their Swiss accounts as loans from the Swiss bank.” 

It was the perfect instrument for funneling illegal campaign contributions into the coffers of an unscrupulous American politician.  Putting two and two together, I surmised that a very wealthy individual, or cartel, wishing to influence the election of the president of the United States, could transfer unlimited sums of money through this device.  A U.S. recipient, such as the Obama campaign, could receive hundreds of thousands of individual contributions via Swiss credit card transfers, with fictitious donors… contributors “borrowed” from the campaign’s list of $10 and $20 contributors… being entered on FEC reporting forms by teams of paid staffers working in a “boiler room” setting.  The owners of the Swiss accounts would receive periodic statements indicating: a) debits of varying amounts, up to $2,300 each, and b) offsetting credits provided by the cartel, or by the wealthy, but unnamed, “international financier.”   

For most of the super wealthy, especially those attempting to hide income and assets from U.S. authorities, an unexplained debit and credit of $2,300, or less, would not even raise an eyebrow.  So, who would ever know the source of such contributions?  No one. 

But then, in an October 20, 2008, Newsmax article by Kenneth Timmerman, an article following up on suppositions contained in my July 2008 column, provided details from FEC records that gave substantial weight to my theory.  In studying Obama’s FEC filings, Newsmax found more than 2,000 donors who had given substantially more than their $4,600 limit ($2,300 in the primaries and $2,300 in the General Election).  The law requires that such excess contributions must be returned to the donor within 60 days of the donor going over his/her limit.  However, many of the donors contacted by Newsmax said that they had not been contacted by the Obama campaign, nor had they received refunds.

But those were relatively minor infractions compared to 66,383 highly suspicious contributions, from 37,265 donors, whose contributions were not rounded to even dollar amounts. For example, Timmerman found that an insurance agent in Burr Ridge, Illinois, gave a total of $8,724.26.  He gave in odd amounts such as $188.67; $1,542.06; $876.09; $388.67; $282.20; $195.66; $118.15; and one of $2,300. 

A self-employed Los Angeles caregiver made 36 separate contributions totaling $7,051.12.  An astonishing number of contributions.  Thirteen of her contributions were later refunded.  However, in an odd coincidence those 13 refunds, in amounts such as $233.88 and $201.44, came to an even $2,300, the maximum amount then allowable in any one election.

One contributor interviewed by Newsmax, a retired schoolteacher from Rockledge, Florida, was reported to have given $13,800… $9,200 over his limit.  However, the donor did not remember giving that much money to Obama, nor had anyone from the campaign ever contacted him about a refund.  Of the 66,383 who contributed in odd amounts, 44,410 were in unrounded amounts of less than $100; 15,269 contributions were in unrounded amounts of between $101 and $999; and 704 contributions were in odd amounts greater than $1,000.

Lest anyone suspect that these 37,265 donors either emptied their piggy banks or emptied their pockets and purses periodically and just sent it all to Obama, pennies and all, allow me to suggest something a tiny bit more Machiavellian.  Those 66,383 contributions are the proceeds of foreign currency conversions, smuggled into the country through foreign credit card receipts, and converted to U.S. dollars.  According to a Newsmax analysis, the Obama campaign finance reports contain some 370,500 unique names… a far cry from the 2.5 million contributor base claimed by the campaign.  Of course, when your money is coming in large chunks from offshore accounts, such as hundreds of thousands of dollars at a time from the Middle East and from Third World African countries, then laundered through UBS accounts in Zurich, it takes a bit of creativity to put authentic-sounding names on all of it for the FEC records.

How massive was their crime?  Since the Obama campaign refused to disclose their complete contributor list (they continue to hide the identities of some 2 million donors).  Newsmax estimated that “Obama was financing his presidential campaign with anywhere from $13 million to a whopping $63 million from overseas credit cards or foreign currency purchases.”

On January 20, 2009, we inaugurated a man who should have been impeached before his wife had a chance to measure the White House for new draperies.  But that’s not what happened.  Instead, official Washington gave our first black president a wink and a nod and then looked the other way.  So, can Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, and Giuliani’s Russian clients expect the same kid glove treatment from the U.S. justice system… even though it is highly unlikely that Trump had anything at all to do with the illegal contribution made by Giuliani’s clients?  Not a chance!

Realizing what has happened to General Michael Flynn, Dinesh D’Souza, Paul Manafort, and Roger Stone… the latter two destined to spend the rest of their lives behind bars for relatively minor offenses… their chances do not appear to be good.  They simply had the misfortune to put their faith in the American system of justice and then to serve openly as members of the Republican Party.  

If our constitutional republic is to be saved, our first imperative is to reelect Donald Trump to a second four-year term in 2020, during which he will be in a position to create a strong 7-2 or 6-3  conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, while adding  hundreds of like-minded judges to our district and appellate courts.  We have no alternative.  We must deliver a landslide victory in 2020.  The only long-term alternative is political, economic, and geographic bifurcation.  We damn sure can’t live with Democrats any longer, but I’d sure like to try living without them.

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

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Beggars Can’t be Choosers

Watching the members of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) attempting to either exonerate or crucify Donald Trump… depending on which side you’re on… it is necessary to remind ourselves over and over again what this is all about and what is at stake.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in the early ‘90s, many of the Warsaw Pact nations of eastern Europe have been used as pawns in the endless post-Cold War chess game between NATO and the Russian Federation.  While the U.S. and its NATO allies have attempted to nourish the seeds of freedom and democracy in countries such as Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and others, the Russian Federation, led by former KGB Colonel Vladimir Putin, has continued to agitate throughout the region, hoping to one day regain its Cold War dominion over Eastern Europe.

One of Russia’s most brazen moves has been the invasion of eastern Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in February and March 2014.  That incursion set in motion a series of events that has culminated in the current attempt by Democrats to impeach the president of the United States.

The Ukrainians, ill-prepared to withstand the Russian onslaught, appealed to the United States and its NATO allies for military assistance.  Barack Obama, implementing his preferred “whistling past the graveyard” policy for dealing with international troublemakers, sent supplies of blankets and MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).  No war-fighting materiel was sent and for a period of three years the Ukrainians suffered heavy losses on the battlefield.

Throughout 2016, the Ukrainians were fully aware that the American people were about to elect a new leader… either former secretary of state Hillary Clinton or businessman Donald Trump.  And although they judged either to be far preferable to the Obama administration, in terms of their willingness to supply anti-tank weapons and other lethal weaponry, they knew that if they were to avoid returning to the smothering embrace of their Russian neighbors, they would have to establish a new bilateral relationship with the U.S.  Their greatest mistake was to assume the truth of what they were reading in the New York Times and the Washington Post… that Hillary Clinton was destined to be the next president of the United States.  Wrong!!

Soon thereafter, when the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) detected friendly signals emanating from Ukraine, a DNC contractor, a Ukrainian American, Alexandra Chalupa, paid a visit to the Ukrainian embassy in Washington.  The purpose of her visit was to solicit dirt on Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, establishing the appearance of a link between Trump and the Russian leadership.   According to the Ukrainian ambassador, Valeriy Chaly, the DNC contractor also sought to arrange for Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko to promote the appearance of a Trump-Putin relationship by commenting on Manafort’s Russian consulting activities during a visit to the U.S. during the 2016 campaign.

Ambassador Chaly also stated that, at the time of the 2016 contacts, the embassy knew Chalupa primarily as a Ukrainian American activist and learned only later of her ties to the DNC.  As such, the embassy considered her efforts to be a clear violation of a treaty between the U.S. and Ukraine signed on July 22, 1998, a treaty that obligated both countries to root out corruption whenever and wherever it was found in the bilateral relationship.   

So, how do we make sense of all this?  According to a Real Clear Politics report published on October 4, 2019, it was in December 2013 and February 2014 that vice president Joe Biden was assigned to serve as the Obama administration’s “point man” for U.S. relations with China and Ukraine, respectively. 

On December 2, 2013, Biden flew to Beijing, presumably to formalize his position as “point man” for U.S.-Chinese relations.  Flying with him on Air Force Two was his son, 43-year-old Hunter Biden.  According to author Peter Schweizer in his book Secret Empires – How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends, the Bidens returned to Washington just ten days later.  On that date, it was announced that the Chinese had agreed to provide an infusion of capital in the amount of $1billion (later increased to $1.5 billion) to a small private equity firm, Rosemont Seneca Partners LLC, which was underwritten by Christopher Kerry, the stepson of former secretary of state John Kerry, and operated by Hunter Biden and his business partner, Devin Archer.  

When questioned about what appeared to be a high-dollar enrichment scheme, designed to benefit the scions of the Biden and Kerry families, and others, Biden responds, unfailingly, that his son has not received a single dollar from the Chinese.  Biden must have learned how to parse words from the King of Parsers, Bill Clinton.  Of course, Hunter Biden has not been paid a single dollar by the Chinese.  But when Rosemont Seneca Partners begins to realize long term profits from their private equity lending activities, the income from those investments will be enormous.   

Schweizer tells us in “Secret Empires” that, just two months after Joe Biden was made “point man” for U.S.-Ukrainian relations, Hunter Biden and his business associate, Devin Archer, were appointed to the board of directors of Burisma Holdings Ltd, a notoriously corrupt Ukrainian energy company.  According to court documents obtained by Peter Schweizer, both men were compensated at the rate of $53,300 per month, even though neither man had any background or experience in the energy industry.

Almost immediately, Hunter Biden’s role at Burisma raised eyebrows in Ukraine and in the Washington’s foreign policy community.  However, nothing was done to mitigate the appearance of a major conflict of interest.  Schweizer tells us that, “Interviews with more than a dozen people, including executives and former prosecutors in Ukraine, paint a picture of a director who provided advice on legal issues, corporate finance, and strategy during a five-year board term which ended in April of this year.”  Those interviewed also said that Hunter Biden’s presence on the Burisma board didn’t protect the company from charges lodged against its owner, Mykola Zlochevsky, a multimillionaire former minister of ecology and natural resources… charges of tax violations, money-laundering, and license fraud during the period in which Zlochevsky served as a cabinet minister.

Then, on April 21, 2019, President Zlochevsky was defeated for reelection by Volodymyr Zelensky, a popular Ukrainian actor and TV personality, prompting a congratulatory telephone call from Donald Trump on July 25, 2019.  This was followed by a letter from an anonymous “whistleblower” who charged that, in that July 25 conversation, Trump used the threat of losing $400 million in U.S. military aid to pressure Zelensky to open a probe into possible corruption involving Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.  However, true to his reputation for doing the unexpected or the unconventional, Trump was quick to release a transcript produced by two separate simultaneous translators who listened in as Trump and Zelensky spoke.  The operative portion of the transcriptions quote Trump as saying, in part: 

“I would like you to do us a favor though because our country has been through a lot and Ukraine knows a lot about it.  I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it.  There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation…  I would like to have the Attorney General call you or your people and I would like you to get to the bottom of it.  As you saw yesterday, that whole nonsense ended with a very poor performance by a man named Robert Mueller, an incompetent performance, but they say a lot of it started with Ukraine.  Whatever you can do, it’s very important that you do it if that’s possible.”

No reasonable person would describe Trump’s words as being extortionary, threatening, or in any way an attempt at a quid pro quo.  But that is how the implacable Democratic opposition sees it, prompting Democrats to vote overwhelmingly in favor of a series of impeachment hearings, on the basis that Trump had threatened to withhold $400 million in U.S. military aide from Ukraine if they failed to investigate official corruption by a political rival, Joe Biden.

To the contrary, and the argument that congressional Republicans fail to make, is what any reasonable person would conclude.  When a U.S. president speaks with a foreign leader, he speaks first and foremost as president of the United States.  The fact that he also happened to be a candidate for reelection, and that the investigation he requested might damage the political fortunes of a major rival for the U.S. presidency, was merely coincidental.  In requesting an investigation of the Ukrainian business activities of a U.S. citizen, or citizens, Trump was simply doing his job; he was following the dictates of the July 1998 anti-corruption treaty.  

Another aspect of the Trump impeachment farce that Republicans totally fail to exploit is the question of the existence of an anonymous “whistleblower.”  Instead of proceeding from the assumption that the Democrats are speaking the truth when they claim that there is, in fact, a “whistleblower,” Republicans should be going on the offense by questioning whether or not there is, in fact, such a person… or was the whistleblower letter produced by Adam Schiff (D-CA), chairman of HPSCI, and his staff of anti-Trump radicals? 

If there is systematic corruption in U.S.-Ukrainian affairs, it is not corruption with the Trump family name on it; it is corruption with the Biden family name written all over it.  In fact, members of Congress and the mainstream media are in possession of a videotape in which Joe Biden boasted at a 2018 Council on Foreign Relations conference that he had once threatened to withhold $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees if Ukraine failed to fire a federal prosecutor who was getting close to unearthing Hunter Biden’s Ukrainian business activities… a clear quid pro quo.

 Now, just one year later, Democrats are attempting to throw Trump out of office because they support the notion that the Ukrainians should be in a position to receive $1 billion in U.S. loan guarantees, whether or not they agree to investigate corruption in a Ukrainian energy corporation with close ties to the Biden family.  It appears that Trump is now in a position to remind corrupt Democrats and self-serving Ukrainians of the old adage that, “Beggars can’t be choosers!”

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

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