Handcarts to Hell

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Kurt Schlichter was on a roll this week, even for him. On the fourth, he had a few comments on the news media and its lack of anything approaching morals in anything. That’s here.

Behold another banner week for the heroes of our intrepid mainstream media, that motley collection of pompous and obnoxious incompetents, perverts and – at the risk of repeating myself – liberals. In just the last few days we’ve seen how a major media personality got his network to build him a creepy sex lair in his office and watched as a flat-out lie tanked the stock market – well, not really “tanked,” since the Trump Boom is still booming, though the media is loath to report that fact since prosperity wrecks the official Trumpocalypse narrative. And next week, if (when) the guy the liberal media tried to paint as Judge Jailbait beats the guy the liberal media tried to cover for by not reporting how he thinks abortions are cool up until a kid gets his learner’s permit, the liberal media will take yet another well-deserved failure lap.

The mainstream liberal media is primarily composed of stumblebum leftist jerks who want all the glory and respect due a caste of objective, moral truth-seekers, yet who don’t want to do the hard work of actually being objective or moral or seeking the truth. “I can’t pass, and I can’t tackle, and practice is really a hassle, but I’m wearing a sportsball jersey so I want your adulation and a Super Bowl ring!

My only real complaint with anything in that column is that the Colonel has this tendency to understate how bad the media really is. Well, who would believe the truth? Bookworm would, that’s who. You’ve heard about that roast of Matt Lauer, well Book went where most of us won’t -The Village Voice and got the filth, and told us about it. Good on her, but I’m not going to copy any of it, I don’t really do anything that obscene here, but I’ll link her post, and thank her for it. Note: Obscene material and very not suitable for work, unless you work for NBC in which case it is the workplace environment you have allowed to be your normal. The article is here: The infamous Matt Lauer roast reveals who Proggies are (NSFW).

Yuck!

But the Colonel latest is even better to my mind. Here he takes on the current (and former) leadership of the FBI and marks the desecration of an institution thereby.

Add this infamy to all the other crimes of the liberal establishment – its poisonous influence has converted the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in the eyes of the American people, from a proud institution dedicated to upholding the law into just another suppurating bureaucratic pustule. Where once we saw FBI agents as heroes – many of us ancients grew up watching Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., every Sunday night – now we see careerist hacks looking to suck-up to the Democrat elite while bending the law and subverting justice to do it. Truly, everything liberals touch dies.

[…] didn’t even fire Strozk though intermural adultery is allegedly against the rules at the FBI. Nope, nothing builds confidence in a law enforcement agency’s organizational integrity like bending the rules to protect your bigwig buddies.

Oh, wait – outright payoffs do too! Don’t even start on Andrew McCabe and his wife’s Democrat contributions – to her. Yeah, the wife of the FBI second-in-command got money from the Democrat Party and he’s still not recused from this fake investigation. Are you kidding?

By the way, have we got even a single iota of information on what the unholy hell happened since Special Agent Johnson and Special Agent Johnson took over the investigation of the Las Vegas shooting?

It’s long past time to lance this boil. It’s sad when you have to accept that you can’t talk to the FBI, that they can’t be trusted to do justice, that you must protect yourself from being railroaded like LTG Flynn was and always – always always always – demand to speak to your attorney and demand that the FBI not question you if they come sniffing around. LTG Flynn trusted them not to have an agenda. Look what happened, and learn.

It’s heartbreaking, because the FBI’s real legacy – a legacy field agents largely live today – is a legacy of heroes.

Flashback to Miami, April 11, 1986. Eight agents make a felony stop on a car with two suspected bank robbers, igniting a firefight that demonstrated the bravery and devotion that shouldbe what first comes to mind when any American thinks of the FBI.

William Russell Matix and Michael Lee Platt were ex-military and had killed before – and they packed an arsenal that ensured they were not going quietly. The FBI agents, lightly armed with under-powered handguns and a couple 12 gauges – came under intense rifle fire that the light vests some wore could not stop. In the end, seven of the eight agents were hit – and Special Agent Benjamin Grogan and Special Agent Jerry Dove died fighting.

Yes, while we ‘Normals’ don’t necessarily expect that level of heroism from every agent, although we’ve seen enough of it over our lifetimes to know it is not uncommon, we do expect common decency, honesty, and dare I say it, a sense of honor, from our law enforcement people, Federal, state, and local. Well, it used to be that way, anyway. In our Brave New World, not so much.

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The System IS the Scam

I grew up watching Chicago television, and the obvious and ongoing corruption was not so much normal as a cost of doing business, like the flames shooting out of the blast furnaces at US Steel. It just was, always had been, and likely always would. As somebody at Second City Cop said recently, the last time Chicago Aldercreatures were honest was sometime before early 1837. But it was honest corruption, in a sense. You could get things done, it just cost a ridiculous amount, and often wasn’t done all that well. But not too many people died, and the pols got rich, so…

But, this, even by that standard is ridiculous. From The American Spectator.

The best rackets are legitimate.

A century ago, the people accepted flagrant public corruption. Dim cynicism the popular spirit, it’s likely they’d still be so disposed today. But the politicians and their swarms of supplicants have acquired subtlety and subterfuge. Why press their luck?

We still have the graft and boodle that Lincoln Steffens chronicled in The Shame of the Cities, but now it’s all above-board. The best schemes are almost indistinguishable from the regular function of government. Almost. In the back rooms, somebody puts in a word for somebody, somebody threatens somebody, but that’s the part we don’t hear about.

It’s the bad luck of Terry McAuliffe, the Clinton barnacle-turned-Democratic governor of Virginia and a rumored presidential candidate in 2020, that his wheedling and arm-twisting inside the federal bureaucracy is now a matter of public record. He got sued last week, along with Hillary Clinton’s brother Anthony Rodham, accused of running “a $120 million scam” to defraud Chinese immigrants.

Did McAuliffe break the law? That’s almost beside the point. The essence of modern graft is crony capitalism — you don’t break the law, you make the law work for you.

The game: set up an obstacle, then offer a way past it for a price. We usually think of crony capitalism as tilting the field in favor of one company or one industry through preferential regulation, but McAuliffe’s arrangement was an even purer form. After all, what is the nature of government? It is to forbid, to restrict, to alter affairs from their natural course. Government creates problems and then pretends to offer a solution.

The EB-5 investor visa program is one long chain of government-created problems and solutions.

Foreign direct investment is of course an unalloyed good for the U.S. economy, but immigration law stands in the way of many potential investors. The laissez-faire thing to do would be to make visas freely available and get out of the way, but that would be too simple.

Much better to complicate it with all sorts of rules and red tape, that can’t all be complied with so the only solution is to buy yourself some interest (otherwise known as pull).

McAuliffe was one of the guys who ran GreenTech, a company whose business model was designed to fit even more government regulations and incentives: GreenTech made electric cars, little Neighborhood Electric Vehicles that go 25 mph, and cost $16,000. You’ll notice I said “made,” and not “sold,” as there has been zero consumer interest in a pricey golf cart that can’t even hold golf clubs. […]

That had a lot to do with why the state of Virginia had refused to get involved with the project, despite McAuliffe’s pull there. In 2009, the state’s veteran economic development director told colleagues, “(I) still can’t get my head around this being anything other than a visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications.”

When an economic development official, whose business is crony capitalism, finds your model suspect, I think you’re due some congratulations. That’s like making Louis C.K. blush.

Eventually, McAuliffe set up shop in Mississippi, thanks to $8 million in land, grants, and other incentives. The state is now in litigation to claw back $6.4 million from the company.

It’s true when the influence peddlers think your scheme is too blatant a fraud, well maybe your scheme is, uh fraudulent.

The real problem, the more general problem, is that the government is in any position to be assessing the viability of a commercial venture, one that’s bent out of shape from the start thanks to political dictates.

If we’re going to do investor visas, they ought to be straightforward, and useful for any type of legitimate investment in American business. Allowing unapproved start-ups, of course, could open the door to different sorts of scams — a fake business goes belly-up and slips the cash back to its “investors.”

But that is a different problem, one with reasonably straightforward solutions, if one wants to solve problems, rather than create new ones to solve, for a price. Usually a very high price.

A Taxing Subject

So we have a tax cut, at long last, I guess. I haven’t read into it deeply, to me, tax language is about the fifth circle of Hell, and that day is coming soon enough, so why volunteer. But from what I’ve read there is some pretty good stuff in it, and some bad, no doubt. Well, that’s how legislating goes, and frankly, what we are trying to undo would have better never been started. Bookworm at Watchers of Weasels has some thoughts about some of the good stuff in it.

I’m not an economist, but I was blessed with a fair amount of common sense. Despite Democrat hysteria, it’s obvious that “the little people” will fare better under the proposed tax bill than they do now — and for a reason the Republicans ought to be speaking about a lot but, because they’re bozos, they are not.

That last sentence may be the most self-evident piece of truth ever written. They are indeed bozos, who wouldn’t know a good policy if it bit them on the ass. But we both digress.

Currently, America ostensibly does not have a “Regressive” tax system. This is a lie. America’s tax code is highly regressive. This is because we have the highest corporate tax rate in the Western world. Yay, say Lefties. Let’s stick it to the corporations. That sentiment proves that Lefties are either stupid or uninformed.

The reality is that corporations don’t pay taxes. This is because the buck doesn’t stop with the corporation, meaning that corporate shareholders will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that their return on investment is not affected by the tax. After all, once that money goes into their pockets, it will again be subject to a tax.

To avoid double taxation on corporate dollars, corporations do two things: they place a cap on employee wages and — here comes the regressive part — they pass the costs on to the consumers. The higher the tax imposed on corporations, the higher the cost of consumer goods and services.

A widget that would sell for $10 under a lower tax code is priced at $20 to offset taxes while still showing a profit. This kind of price mark-up is bad all around. It makes the product less desirable, which can hurt corporate sales and, potentially, drive the corporation out of business. It also places on poor people a disproportionate burden connected to buying the item. For Jeff Bezos, that extra $10 is as insignificant as a microscopic speck of dust falling on a $100 bill when he opens his wallet to pay. For the guy who mows my lawn, that $10 means that he cannot buy the product, even if he needs it, or that, if he must buy the product, his available money is substantially decreased.

That is why this article is here, she just gave the best description I’ve read of why the corporate income tax is not only counterproductive but downright evil. It disproportionately hurts the poor, by raising the price of literally everything you buy, even if you buy things that allow you to make the things you need yourself. Literally, everything you use or buy from birth to death is subject to this hidden tax, and that doesn’t even mention the (perhaps many) things you simply cannot buy (indeed that you may never have dreamed could exist) because the corporations could not make enough on them to market them.

It’s pretty obvious that it also increases unemployment. Why? Because while to employ somebody, they have to make enough to cover the costs involved in employing them, and that includes the overhead of the tax one pays on their labor. Actually to be accurate the amount of tax that the customer is willing to underwrite for whatever they do, which is a different, higher number.

And yes, the corporate tax rate really should be 0.00%. It is an iniquitous fraud perpetrated by the government on those not paying enough attention to what the government is doing. Sadly, that’s us, almost all of us.

 

Freezing in the Dark for Obama

We’ve said before that much of the climate change debate/hysteria is driven by nothing more than grantsmanship and/or self-interest. It’s still true. Isaac Orr writing in The American Spectator had something to say about it the other day.

More than 200 cities and 12 states have pledged to uphold the Paris climate accord, even after President Donald Trump announced his administration would withdraw the United States from the agreement. These pledges have led four states — Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, and New York — to enact climate and energy policies based on the Obama-era social cost of carbon (SCC) calculations, which attempt to quantify the long-term economic damages associated with emitting one ton of carbon dioxide into the air. The Obama administration concluded for every ton of carbon dioxide released, $36 worth of damage occurs.

The SCC is based on flawed scientific and economic assumptions. As a result, the dozens of regulations imposed on the energy sector that were based on these calculations significantly and needlessly increase the cost of electricity without delivering any measurable environmental benefits.

The SCC overestimates how much warming will occur from increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the air because it is based on outdated estimates from 2007. These figures were derived from a study that concluded doubling the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would warm the planet by between 1.72 degrees Celsius and 7.14 degrees C, with their “most likely” estimate to be 3 degrees C.

More than a dozen scientific studies have since found the range of possible outcomes for global warming is much smaller than the scenario relied upon in the SCC calculation. For example, a study by a group of climate modelers who conducted analyses for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013 found a much smaller range of potential outcomes; they concluded there is a low-end estimate of 1.2 degrees C and a high-end estimate of 4 degrees C, with a “best guess” of 2 degrees C. Other studies have found the best estimate to be a 1.64-degree Cincrease, if accompanied by a doubling of atmospheric carbon-dioxide concentrations.

If the actual range of possible warming is much lower than what was assumed by the Obama administration in its SCC calculations, its cost estimate of $36 per ton is much too high.

And it is, and it was. Almost in its entirety, the whole thing is driven by self-aggrandizement, politically, financially, and often both. Add to that a political leaven that very often indeed sounds like nothing so much as fascism, and you have a toxic brew, that will leave the average guys freezing in the dark while he starves. Environmentalism, or more correctly, stewardship of the land is all very good.

We should all strive to leave the world at least as good as we found it. But that does not supersede our need to live and to eat. But that is exactly what most organized environmentalism does seek these days. I don’t buy the nonsense, and neither should you.

You should not waste energy, because it costs you money, that most of us work hard for. But you have a right to try to make yourself comfortable, whether it is air conditioning in the summer or actual heat in the winter. But what if you can’t afford it, well that’s a problem isn’t it? And there is the problem, the radicals in the field, and that includes those states and cities above will make that problem worse. If they could prove that it was good stewardship, maybe it would be worthwhile, but they can’t.

Let’s note that in passing that no environmentalist ever used the word stewardship, likely because it contains a theory that we have as much right to use natural resources as any other denizen of the earth, and the ability to make intelligent decisions.

That goes against dogma. The only important thing is to propitiate Gaia, and cute polar bears, people don’t matter. It’s an elitist position because it inherently assumes some people have the right to tell others what to do. They don’t; except enforcing an objective law that prevents people from harming each other. No reason that doesn’t include polluting and such, it is readily apparent that it harms others.

In sum, Mr. Orr is correct:

Lawmakers considering policies that would hold their communities to the Paris climate agreement’s standards should recognize the flaws in the SCC and reverse course. If they don’t, voters should keep their higher electricity bills in mind when they head to the polls on Election Day.

Railsplitters, Tailors, and Government Bureaus

Speaking of the CFPB, this is interesting, from The Federalist.

Although the Reconstruction Era has gotten more mainstream attention lately, to most Americans the Andrew Johnson administration is still a part of the dusty past. The CFPB dispute is, as David Harsanyi explained earlier this week, about which employee has the right to occupy the office of CFPB director. So did the dispute that led to Johnson’s impeachment and near-conviction. Only in that case, the office in question was of much greater importance: secretary of war.

In the days following the Civil War, the secretary of war (a predecessor to the secretary of defense, but without jurisdiction over the navy) occupied an important position in domestic politics, as his job included presiding over the reconstruction of the conquered Confederacy. After Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, his successor, Johnson, seemed to be in accord with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton and the Republican-dominated Congress on how to accomplish this.

Things soon changed. Johnson returned to his pre-war Democratic Party loyalty and worked to re-admit the Southern states to the Union quickly, with no other changes than a de jure abolition of slavery. Stanton and congressional leaders saw their task as larger, and wanted to ensure greater equality for the former slaves in fact as well as in law. As Johnson gradually replaced Lincoln appointees in the cabinet, Stanton was increasingly the only voice in the administration for a vigorous scheme of occupying and rebuilding in the South.

Stanton’s allies in Congress worked to protect him by passing the Tenure of Office Act in 1867. The act decreed that any officer appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate could not be removed by the president unless the Senate approved. Johnson saw the act for what it was—a curtailment of executive power—and vetoed it, but Congress overrode the veto and the bill became a law. The president no longer had control over his own appointees.

Johnson initially acted in accordance with the law and suspended Stanton while Congress was in recess, selecting Commanding General Ulysses S. Grant to serve as acting secretary in his stead. Stanton went along with this, as Grant was closer to congressional Republicans in his views than to Johnson. When the recess ended, the Senate refused to concur in Stanton’s removal, and Grant returned the office to him. Then Johnson declared the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional and said Stanton’s removal was valid. He appointed Maj. Gen. Lorenzo Thomas to the “vacancy” and instructed him to report to the War Department for work.

Stanton refused to accept Thomas’s appointment and declined to yield the office. Thomas took the office across the hall, and both men declared themselves the true secretary of war. Stanton retained the keys to the office and did not leave the room, eating and sleeping there for months to prevent Thomas from seizing it.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives voted articles of impeachment against Johnson, specifically for his open violation of the law, but more generally for his obstruction of Congress’s plans for Reconstruction. The Senate fell one vote short of conviction, and Johnson remained in the White House. With Grant nominated for president and Johnson on the way out, Stanton gave up the fight and relinquished the office.

Rule Without Consequences

The stakes of the fight over the CFPB directorship are far lower, but the precedents of the Stanton-Thomas affair provide a guideline for how the current quarrel should proceed, both legally and politically.

The Tenure of Office Act of 1867 and the Dodd-Frank Act, which created the CFPB, both aim at the same result: removing the power from the president to control members of his administration. The Tenure of Office Act’s authors were concerned with keeping Johnson from overturning Lincoln’s legacy. Dodd-Frank’s authors had a wider goal in mind: removing politics from government. This fits the general progressive belief that we would be better governed by unelected technocrats than by politicians who must take popular opinion into account.

It is a strange take on a republic, and at odds with the Founding Fathers’ opinions. They knew that the government would contain officers who wished to trample the people’s rights. It has been true of every government, elected or unelected, since mankind emerged from the state of nature. The government of the people, by the people, and for the people acknowledges that the people in question are all flawed. As James Madison famously wrote in Federalist 51:

If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

Do read it all.

And, in fine, that was much of the point of the Constitution, to throw sand in the gears of the government.  The founders knew, even better than we do, the cry of the American to his government, “Leave me alone!”. After all they fought a war, against the greatest empire of the age for that very reason. But as long as men (and women) seek personal advantage from government (and that is until Christ returns) the vigilance of the citizens will always be required.

Ronnie was absolutely right about the most feared words in the language, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

Should The FBI Be Abolished?

Three lies for the price of one?

In The American Spectator yesterday, Steven Baldwin asked a controversial question. Should we abolish the FBI? I think he makes a pretty good case that we should. It’s a long article, and my excerpts will look like looney assertions, they aren’t, read the link. Let’s get going.

For the last few years, the media has been dominated by a number of sensational stories: that Trump colluded with Russia to influence the presidential election; that the Trump team was wiretapped by Obama intelligence officials; that Hillary used a private email server to transmit classified information; that Hillary and the DNC colluded with Russian sources to compile a dossier on Trump, and finally, that Russia acquired 20% of America’s uranium supply during the same time period $145 million miraculously appeared in the Clinton Foundation’s bank account. It all stinks to high heaven but it’s created a confusing array of facts that has bewildered most Americans. They all know something is seriously wrong with their country even if they can’t pinpoint exactly what the problem is.

But there is a common denominator in all these scandals or alleged scandals, and that would be the FBI and the actions they took or didn’t take. […]

On top of all that, former FBI director Robert Mueller — now Special Counsel — is investigating Trump for collusion with Russia when the evidence is now revealing that the only party that colluded with the Russians to influence the 2016 campaign was the Democratic Party. But Mueller doesn’t have the integrity to widen his investigation to cover the Clinton/GPS Fusion/Russian dossier scandal but instead is spending millions on investigating alleged crimes by former Trump campaign workers that occurred years ago and had nothing to do with Trump, Russian collusion, or the 2016 election.

Lastly, when Mueller was FBI Director, he served on the board of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), the agency that approved the sale of uranium to Russia by the Uranium One company only a short time after his own agency had arrested a Russian official attempting to bribe American uranium officials. But there is no record of Mueller warning his fellow CFIUS members about the illegal Russian efforts. It likewise begs logic to believe that Mueller knew nothing about the $145 million the Clinton Foundation received from Putin-connected sources shortly after the CFIUS vote. It is also inconceivable that Mueller, as FBI Director from 2001-2013, was not aware that the Clintons were using their foundation and Hillary’s Secretary of State position to operate a massive pay-to-play scam that went far beyond the Uranium One scandal. […]

However, it has become increasingly clear in recent years that this agency has become so politicized, so corrupt, and so large and bureaucratic that it may no longer be an effective agency. The time has come to discuss its abolition. […]

But note that the FBI did not come into existence until 132 years after the country declared its independence. This was because the founders never envisioned a federal role for law enforcement. It is not one of the “enumerated” duties of the federal government listed in the constitution.

There were reasons for that. Our founders were skeptical of a large federal government and, indeed, not even the “federalist” faction argued for a federal law enforcement role. The Constitution’s authors all assumed that most of the country’s governing would be carried out by state and local governments; the Federal government was created simply to take care of things that states were not well suited to do, such as maintaining a military, minting currency, and negotiating trade treaties. Indeed, for most of America’s first century, the highest law enforcement officer was the county sheriff.

Except for treason, the idea of federal crimes was not even mentioned in the Constitution. Our founders had a healthy fear of America turning into a tyrannical government such as those which existed all over the world at the time. They wanted to maximize freedom; hence the Bill of Rights. They assumed the creation of a federalized police force would make it far easier for the federal government to abuse the rights of its citizens.

Wise men, the founders. Consider

  • Prosecuting Opponents of World War 1.

  • COINTELPRO. This was the FBI’s covert internal security program in the 1950s and ’60s, created to “disrupt, misdirect, discredit, and neutralize” groups and individuals the government deemed to be enemies.

  • FBI Preparations for Martial Law.

  • The Ruby Ridge Murders.

  • The Waco Massacre.

  • Helping Bill Clinton Collect Dirt on his Enemies. Often referred to as “Filegate,” in 1993-94 […]

  • Project Megiddo. This was another shady FBI project, launched in 1999, created for the purpose of monitoring groups on the right […]

  • Use of Criminals as Undercover Agents.

  • Operation Vigilant Eagle. This FBI program initiated in 2009 targeted anti-government activists such as Tea Party activists and, alarmingly, veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars

  • Targeting Pro-Lifers. In 2010, The FBI held a joint training session on terrorism with Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation.

  • The IRS Scandal.

  • FBI Worked With the SPLC

  • Data Mining Innocent Americans.

  • Raids on Homes of Anti-Government Activists. Repeatedly, the FBI has raided homes on the flimsiest of evidence.

  • Fraudulent Forensics.

  • FBI High School Informer Network

  • The FBI Record on Fighting Terrorism. [Which is terrible]

And so many more.

Conservatives Should Quit Defending the FBI
The FBI has a long history of being used by various administrations to harass certain groups and individuals, or, conversely, to allow certain groups and individuals to commit crimes without fear of prosecution. The FBI is supposed to uphold the Constitution but instead has repeatedly violated the constitutional rights of Americans. This politicization has cost many Americans their lives and their freedoms. The abuse listed here is not comprehensive but it’s enough, one would think, to make conservatives think twice about defending this agency’s police state tactics.

This is what we are paying for. My recollection is that the reason J. Edgar Hoover got the name changed from the Bureau of Investigation was to shed the image of corruption which had grown up about it. He was, of course, a master of public relations (not to mention alleged blackmail). And so we were all sold this bill of goods that the G-men were a bunch of clean-cut, incorruptible, good guys. Maybe it was true once (I doubt it), it certainly is not anymore, as we have seen.

Much more at the link, but I think it is time to end this charade, as we should its cousin the Bureau of Alchohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, which should go back to being a convenience store, for us, not Mexican drug runners. Enough is quite a lot more than enough.

Time to end the charade.

 

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