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Michigan Berned

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I’ve been looking at the primaries in the context of what the results mean for the general election. My concern has been what every democratic voter’s concern should be: Which democratic candidate has the best chances to beat Trump in the primary?

If you need a recap, I laid most of it out here. I laid out my thoughts on the relevance of Michigan here (you’re going to want to read those for context to understand this post). Well, the massive upset that Bernie pulled off in Michigan has seriously amped up my anxiety level over the thought of Hillary becoming the nominee.

Hillary’s general election prospects are not looking awesome. That’s just a fact. When I posted my March 1st blog, with the mountain of evidence to support my thoughts, one Facebook commenter (a Hillary supporter) actually told me to “have faith”. Why? Why the hell would I rely on faith when I have freaking numbers? Should I have faith that the climate isn’t changing too?

I don’t want to ever have to utter the words “President Trump”. That is my primary objective here. Supporting my candidate at all cost is not. I earnestly don’t understand people who don’t share that objective. I’m completely flummoxed by this thinking, and I sincerely need someone to help me out by explaining this to me.

My concerns aren’t based on subjective flaws of Hillary. My concerns aren’t even based on bullshit fortune telling like, “she could be indicted by the FBI any minute now”, or “Ted Cruz’s wife is definitely in the position to leak Hillary’s speeches to Goldman Sachs when the time comes” (she actually is, and I would be a fool not to think they’re coming when it’s the right time). I haven’t done any of that.

My concerns are based on the data that is available to me today. There isn’t a single poll that shows Hillary beating Trump by a higher margin than Bernie does. Not one. The aggregate of all the polls puts Hillary at a 2.8 point margin of victory, while Bernie’s is a 6 point margin. Wanna know what another Hillary supporter said in response to this? He posted a poll that has Hillary beating Trump by 8 points. One poll against my aggregate of polls. Wanna know what that same poll, in that same article he posted said? That Bernie beats Trump by a twelve point margin. Wow, that was some clear headed thinking on that commenter’s part. I do not understand emotional voting. Emotional voting results in people turning stupid and doing what that commenter did: made an ass of himself.

In that earlier post, I placed a lot of importance in Michigan because it’s a swing state. Hillary isn’t winning swing states. She’s winning southern states that she can’t win in the general. When I was positive that Hillary was going to win Michigan, I said that winning it by 20 points would allay some of my fears about her chances against Trump in the general. Well not only did she not win by 20 points, but the polls were turned on their heads when Bernie took it by nearly 2 points.

This is a disastrous sign for Hillary’s viability against Trump in the general. My concerns are compounded by the fact that Michigan had the highest voter turnout in a primary election since 1972. People were turning out in huge numbers to vote in both the republican and the democratic elections. Trump is getting people out to vote in swing states. That should put the fear of God into anyone who also vomits at the thought of a President Trump scenario. Since Michigan is an open primary and they had record turnout and Bernie won instead of losing by the 20 points he was supposed to lose by, we can reasonably conclude that he’s also bringing voters out.

Remember, 42% of voters self identify as independents. 26% self identify as democrats, and 23% self identify as republicans. Bernie will always do better in open primaries. 77% of independents voted for Bernie. Wanna know who can vote in the general with no restrictions? Independents.

If Trump is bringing out right wing independents and first time voters, democrats better be damned well sure to select the candidate who is doing really well with independents. That’s clearly not Hillary.

I’m sorry Hillary supporters, but it’s time to care about who controls the white house next year and to leave your emotional attachment to your candidate behind. The numbers here aren’t ambiguous about the general. And so far, every primary that has already happened should have you as concerned as I am.

The next two states to keep an eye on are Florida and Ohio – both swing states. Hillary is currently leading by a large margin in both states. Florida has a closed primary, meaning that registered independents can’t vote in the democratic primary. Ohio has an open primary. I’m going to say this to Hillary supporters: winning Florida and losing Ohio would completely support my assertion that Hillary isn’t our best chance in the general.

I know that no other media outlet is going to lay this out for you the way I have, so it’s easy to dismiss what I have to say but look at past posts for accuracy before dismissing my analysis. I left the door wide open for myself make the case that Hillary is viable by spelling out exactly what would have made her viable in Michigan. She didn’t make the threshold that would have had me writing a very different post today. Let me be very clear on this: if Hillary loses Ohio, you would be a fool to vote for her in any primary moving forward.

Yes, Florida matters. Yes, Florida is a swing state. But Florida won’t help you make any sort of reasonable calculation about the general since Bernie’s strongest voting block is independents who can’t vote in the Florida primary. Let me repeat: those independents will be voting in November. Ohio and its open primary is where you should be looking to decide if a Hillary nomination could lead to a President Trump.

Hillary needs to win Ohio to demonstrate her viability in the general. Once again Hillary supporters, I am laying out the parameters upon which her general election viability looks better. I’m not making a “Bernie is awesome sauce in all scenarios” argument. I’m telling you how you and I can tell if voting for her is a good idea in the long term. I’m also telling you that if she loses Ohio, any Florida victory she may (or may not) have means significantly less.

Independents are the key in this election cycle. It’s not millenials, it’s not all about the older black vote, it’s about the independents because that’s who Trump is bringing into this election. Hillary can’t win the general if independents are so apathetic that they can’t be fucked to go out and vote in November.

Six more days. That’s when the next test of whether I’m an idiot or not will happen. And believe me, my hands are yuuuuuge….oh wait…….I got confused…. I meant to say believe me, I will not be back peddling on anything I’ve said here today if Hillary wins both Ohio and Florida. If that happens, I will be doing what any critical thinker should be doing: reassessing.

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Super Tuesday 2016 Edition

I’ll admit that there were a couple of surprises for me last night, but nothing too significant in terms of delegates.

Let me start with the republican primaries. There were almost no surprises there. Minnesota was a surprise, but there was very little data to rely on since it’s a caucus state. Caucus states are always going to be difficult to pin down because they’re hard to poll so most polling firms won’t try. We had one poll this year (conducted 2 weeks ago), showing Rubio up by 2 points. So: a) that’s one poll (we all know how I feel about putting much weight into a single poll) and b) the spread was within the margin of error. So I was surprised that he won, but I was not at all surprised that he was Mr. Third Place in most of the rest of the primaries.

Trump remains the inevitable nominee.

In any other election, Rubio would be announcing that he’s suspending his campaign today. But he’s not going to do it because he won a whole state!

There were more surprises for me on the democratic side. They weren’t so much surprises for me, as they were interesting since they mostly happened in states I deemed to be toss ups.

I’m not going to lie: not winning Massachusetts hurt Bernie. His path to the nomination did narrow last night. It wasn’t a resounding loss, so there’s that, but he should have won. The fact that Hillary eked it it out isn’t good for Bernie. The fact that Bill pulled this slightly desperate move in order to help his wife, isn’t awesome for Hillary, but she won nonetheless. By “won”, I mean purely from a numbers perspective. Every time Bill and Hillary pull moves like this, they become a little more untrustworthy so I’m not sure this is really a “win”.

On the upside for Bernie, he took every other state that was in play. Yesterday morning, I said that if Bernie pulls off MA, plus CO and MN, he would have pulled off an epic ass kicking. He lost MA, but he won both CO and MN which appeared too close to predict. Neither were even a little close. That fact does mitigate the loss in MA, but not entirely. Oklahoma was too close to call for me because there was only one poll. That poll had Bernie up by 5 points but again, I don’t put too much weight in one poll so I didn’t expect that he would win. He took it by 10 points. Again, not even a little close.

Here’s the thing: remember my post from yesterday regarding my anxiety over the general election? Well, that anxiety has grown slightly. With the exception of MA and VA, Hillary only won states that Trump will resoundingly win in the general. Virginia is a swing state, so that’s the only glimmer of hope. MA will always go blue in the general so that victory does nothing to calm my anxiety. I would feel better about the Virginia win if so many Virginia voters didn’t work in DC. But she did win, and and that does give me a little hope for her in the general. No other state that she won last night gives me any more hope about her chances in the general.

Bernie kicked major ass in Colorado, which is another swing state. Every swing state that Hillary doesn’t win (decisively), makes me more and more concerned about the general, especially since Trump is the only candidate who seems to be bringing in new voters.

The next measure of my anxiety over the general will be next Tuesday in Michigan, which is another swing state. The aggregate of eleven polls has Hillary winning by a nineteen point margin but, those polls were taken over a seven month period. She needs to beat Bernie by a twenty point margin in Michigan for me to feel a little better about her prospects against Trump in the general.

After Michigan, the next two tests for general election viability happen in Florida and North Carolina (also swing states) on the 15th.

It’s going to be an anxiety riddled couple of weeks for me, but I’m going to keep my eye on the general election prize.

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I’m Worried About The General Election

I haven’t been all that concerned with how the presidential election is going to turn out until this week. I had no doubt that whether it’s Hillary or Bernie on the democratic side, no republican candidate was going to pose a threat.

I can now see Trump’s path to the presidency. Let’s be clear: Trump is going to be the republican nominee. Unless the RNC pulls a seriously unseemly maneuver to stop him, I don’t see how Trump can be stopped.

When Trump announced, I didn’t think there was a snowball’s chance in hell that he was going to be the nominee. I was wrong. When Trump’s numbers were at around 24% of republican voters, I didn’t think that it was possible for his numbers to go up because they held steady at about 24% for months. I was wrong. When his poll numbers moved into the 30s, I thought that the republican party apparatchik were going to strategize over who they needed to get to drop out in order to consolidate the “establishment” vote. I was wrong.

So now Trump is almost certainly going to be the nominee. He steamrolled the entire republican party establishment and outbullied the bullies who like most bullies, were so scared when confronted, they were literally stunned and unable to act.

Donald Trump is the populist candidate on the republican side. He doesn’t have a platform other than his hatred for all things not white, and his seeming disdain for politicians and the establishment. He’s unpolished, unscripted, unconventional, and completely unconcerned with what politicos have to say about him. When you mix those qualities with the factphobia that republicans have contracted from their exposure to nearly twenty years of Fox News propaganda, you have an unstoppable force.

The disdain for the establishment isn’t sequestered within the republican party. Bernie is our populist. Despite a main stream media blackout until the day after the Iowa caucus, despite the (as Larry Wilmore puts it) top secret democratic debates that were all scheduled when television viewership is at its lowest, despite massively handicapping himself by refusing to have a superPAC, Bernie has managed to draw the biggest crowds we’ve seen at any political rally in this election cycle. He’s managed to keep up with Hillary in fundraising. Liberals aren’t any happier with corporatist, establishment candidates than republicans are.

Here’s where my worry lies: if Hillary is the nominee, we’re putting up a corporatist, establishment candidate against a populist. Ugh. That’s not a bet I feel good about. Head to head polls consistently show Bernie beating Trump by a larger margin than Hillary does. If you average all the polling, you get Hillary beating Trump by 2.8 points, while Bernie beats him by 6 points.

Why? Because it’s populist versus populist. More importantly, it’s a populist who has nothing but fear and hate to offer you, versus a populist who wants to give you back what the rich looted from you. I’m a sunny optimist so I don’t believe that Americans are more hateful than they are hopeful.

I feel great about putting a liberal populist up against a right wing populist. I feel great about putting a liberal corporatist up against a republican corporatist. I do not feel good about putting up any establishment corporatist against any populist in this climate.

I especially don’t feel good about it given the polling we have on Hillary versus Trump and Bernie versus Trump. I know what a lot of people are going to say at this point; “polls this early out are meaningless“. To which I say, no information is ever meaningless so stop dismissing information you don’t like. You never get the luxury of hindsight voting before an election happens. This information is the best information you have right now, and objective decisions are made by examining the information you have before you at the time that you have to make a decision. So unless you have other information to contradict this information, please spare me your efforts at dismissing information. This isn’t one, two, or five polls. This is information based on seven months of polling. At no point does Hillary ever do better against Trump than Bernie does. There are no outliers on this in any of the polling. You can’t logically dismiss this.

Let me address something else that is being said about democratic voter turnout. It’s true that democrats almost always have a voter turnout problem, but there is a cyclical element to primary election turnout that no one is talking about. Historically, the party who hasn’t held the white house for eight years are more fired up to vote in the primaries. That’s just a fact. Republicans were always going to be more fired up this primary season than democrats, just like democrats were more fired up after being Bushwhacked for eight years. Yes, president Obama had a lot to do with the numbers we saw in 2008, but that cyclical component was also a factor. The “problem” isn’t an issue with Bernie’s base not showing up to vote. The problem is that the cyclical voting patterns aren’t being taken into consideration here, and this election is being compared to a historic and anomalous election when Obama ran.

I don’t believe that millennial apathy is Bernie’s biggest issue in this primary.

I believe that Bernie’s biggest issue is that independents can’t vote in a lot of democratic primaries. More people refer to themselves as independents now, than in the past two decades. Do I really believe these people are “independent” and regularly vote across party lines? No. But I do believe that referring to ones self as an “independent” is a pretty good indication of how that person feels about establishment politics. Today, 39% of the electorate calls themselves independents. 32% call themselves democrats, and 23% refer to themselves as republicans. Yes, you read that correctly: the biggest block of the electorate refer to themselves as independents.

Here are some responses from a Quinnipiac poll of independents done in December:

  • Shares our values  – Clinton 33%, Sanders 47%
  • Cares about the needs of people like me – Clinton 40%, Sanders 59%
  • Honest and Trustworthy – Clinton 26%, Sanders 64%
Sanders leads Clinton among independents by a range of 20 – 50 points, depending on which poll you read. I could only find three polls of independents by credible polling firms. I don’t normally put too much weight in a mere three polls, but the results I’m seeing would explain how Bernie has a wider margin over Trump than Hillary does. More “independents” would have to be supporting Bernie than Trump. Populist versus populist.

I’m not as comfortable with a 2.8 point lead over Trump, as I am with a 6 point lead. If just one San Bernadino style event happens in the next eight months, that 2.8 points could evaporate. If you look at the polls, San Bernadino is what increased Trump’s support from the mid 20s (where he had been for a couple of months) into the low 30s.

I’m starting to see Trump’s path to the presidency, and it’s terrifying. Why did I highlight all of the ways I was wrong in the beginning of this post? Three reasons;

  • I can admit when I’m wrong so that
  • I can learn from my past mistakes and
  • Never underestimate Trump again
The “electability” argument that Hillary and her supporters have been making until now has been completely turned around on her by Trump. That’s the reality based on the information that we have today. Since I’m neither clairvoyant, nor am I prone to dismiss information just to make myself feel better about the opinion I started off with, I’m very worried about the general election.
This would be a change in my position from four months ago, that we had nothing to worry about from any republican nominee. That change in opinion is based on information that I didn’t have four months ago.
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The Most Important Election Of Your Lifetime

We always hear that. Every single election is “the most important election of your lifetime”. That’s almost always hyperbole, but not this time. This time, we’re voting for a four or eight year term for the next president and a twenty to thirty year term for the next Supreme Court Justice. This really is the most important election of your lifetime because the balance of the Supreme Court is in play.

Now that Antonin Scalia has moved on to the big Klan meeting in the sky, we have the opportunity to move the court from the far right to the center. I’m going to pause my train of thought for a moment to articulate that Klan comment I just made. I meant it, and I’m sick of people trotting out the old “respect for the dead” line today. I believe that you die as you lived. Here’s how Antonin Scalia lived (these are all direct quotes).

On equality:

“Of course it is our moral heritage that one should not hate any human being or class of human beings. But I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible—murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals—and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct. Surely that is the only sort of ‘animus’ at issue here: moral disapproval of homosexual conduct[.] It’s true that people generally disapprove of murder, but there’s more going on in laws banning murder than mere disfavor—the rights of the person being murdered, for example.”

“[The Texas anti-sodomy statute] undoubtedly imposes constraints on liberty. So do laws prohibiting prostitution, recreational use of heroin, and, for that matter, working more than 60 hours per week in a bakery. State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity,” along with any other law “based on moral choices,” are now “called into question” by the court’s decision.”

“This Court has no business imposing upon all Americans the resolution favored by the elite class from which the Members of this institution are selected, pronouncing that “animosity” toward homosexuality is evil. I vigorously dissent…Coloradans are, as I say, entitled to be hostile toward homosexual conduct, the fact is that the degree of hostility reflected by Amendment 2 is the smallest conceivable”

On the second amendment:

“It doesn’t apply to cannons—but I suppose there are hand-held rocket launchers that can bring down airplanes, that will have to be decided.”

On a woman’s right to choose:

“The right to abort, we are told, inheres in “liberty” because it is among “a person’s most basic decisions,”…it involves a “most intimate and personal choic[e],”; it is “central to personal dignity and autonomy,”; it “originate[s] within the zone of conscience and belief,”; it is “too intimate and personal” for state interference; it reflects “intimate views” of a “deep, personal character,”; it involves “intimate relationships,” and notions of “personal autonomy and bodily integrity,”; and it concerns a particularly “important decision”. But it is obvious to anyone applying “reasoned judgment” that the same adjectives can be applied to many forms of conduct that this Court has held are not entitled to constitutional protection–because, like abortion, they are forms of conduct that have long been criminalized in American society. Those adjectives might be applied, for example, to homosexual sodomy, polygamy, adult incest, and suicide, all of which are equally “intimate” and “deep[ly] personal” decisions involving “personal autonomy and bodily integrity,” and all of which can constitutionally be proscribed because it is our unquestionable constitutional tradition that they are proscribable. (citations omitted)”

“I write separately to reiterate my view that the Court’s abortion jurisprudence, including Casey and Roe v. Wade, has no basis in the Constitution.”

On equal protection:

“Sorry, to tell you that. … But, you know, if indeed the current society has come to different views, that’s fine. You do not need the constitution to reflect the wishes of the current society. Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t. Nobody ever thought that that’s what it meant. Nobody ever voted for that. If the current society wants to outlaw discrimination by sex, hey we have things called legislatures, and they enact things called laws. You don’t need a constitution to keep things up-to-date. All you need is a legislature and a ballot box. You don’t like the death penalty anymore, that’s fine. You want a right to abortion? There’s nothing in the Constitution about that. But that doesn’t mean you cannot prohibit it. Persuade your fellow citizens it’s a good idea and pass a law. That’s what democracy is all about. It’s not about nine superannuated judges who have been there too long, imposing these demands on society.”

And finally, Scalia’s blatant racism:

“There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well.”

“Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes. I don’t think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless — unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution. You have to show, when you are treating different States differently, that there’s a good reason for it.

That’s the — that’s the concern that those of us who — who have some questions about this statute have. It’s — it’s a concern that this is not the kind of a question you can leave to Congress. There are certain districts in the House that are black districts by law just about now. And even the Virginia Senators, they have no interest in voting against this. The State government is not their government, and they are going to lose — they are going to lose votes if they do not reenact the Voting Rights Act.”

I won’t even go into his disdain for democracy with Bush v Gore, Citizens United or McKutcheon. Anton Scalia does not deserve any respect from me, and he won’t get it.

Back to my point. This really is the most important election of your lifetime. I’m talking to you, democrats. I know that the primaries aren’t over yet, but you all need to start wrapping your minds around embracing whoever the democratic nominee is going to be. I know, I know….you can’t ever see yourself voting for Bernie or Hillary. Well guess what? It’s time to get your vision checked so that you can see it.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m on team Bernie. But I’ve also made it very clear that I will go out and vote for Hillary if she’s the nominee. I’ve defended (you should click on that link) Hillary when she’s been falsely accused, and I’ve stood up for Bernie when he speaks the objective truth. I have also criticized both when they’re wrong. Politics isn’t emotional for me, and it shouldn’t be for you.

You need to start focusing on your own self interest. That self interest is stopping a lunatic republican from putting a young, spry Scalia clone on the Supreme Court.

Republicans in the senate are going to do their damnedest to make sure that President Obama doesn’t make this Supreme Court appointment, as is his right per our constitution. That means they’re going to punt this nomination until after inauguration day. That also means that their biggest donors are about to pick who the republican nominee is. They’re going to have to coalesce around one candidate. And they’re going to throw every smear they can on Hillary and Bernie.

You shouldn’t help them.

At this point, I would like to get into the difference between a smear and an objective truth. Here are some examples to help illustrate:

“Hillary broke the law when she used her private email server to orchestrate an attack on Benghazi.”

That would be a smear, since using her private server broke no laws, and investigation after investigation has found nothing untoward in regard to Hillary’s actions pertaining to Benghazi.

“Bill and Hillary Clinton are completely corrupt.”

That would also be a smear, since no one in the history of our country have been more investigated than the Clintons. Those investigations have resulted in finding precisely no illegal activity.

“The financial industry are among Hillary’s top donors, and they’re expecting a return on their investment.”

That would be an objective truth, and over 80% of us agree that corporate money is corrupting our politics. That would also be an objective truth that you won’t be hearing in the general election, should Hillary become the nominee because her opponent will be significantly more guilty of participating in this particular form of legalized corruption than she has been.

“Hillary is much more qualified to be president than Bernie.”

That would also be an objective truth, which I laid out in the post I linked to above. Bernie is pretty weak on foreign policy. That’s just a fact, but so was President Obama. Getting corporate money out of politics is my primary policy concern, so Bernie is my candidate. That doesn’t mean that I have to retool this particular objective truth in order to make the choice I’ve made.

“Bernie has taken money from Wall Street too.”

That would be a smear. Bernie has received a tiny fraction of his total fundraising efforts from the democratic party apparatchik over the course of his career. Some (or most) of that money may have come from Wall Street. This is not the same as accepting donations from Wall Street, who clearly despise him. If you want to use this smear, you’re going to have to start talking about Elizabeth Warren’s Wall Street contributions too. It’s just not an intellectually honest point.

“[Bernie] [Hillary] can’t win the general election.”

That one is not a smear, but it’s also objectively false. This one is simply projection. We have a mountain of polls demonstrating that either Hillary or Bernie can resoundingly beat any republican who may end up being the nominee if we all support our nominee.

That’s precisely what we all have to do. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t support your chosen candidate in the primary. We all should, and I’m with Bernie for as long as Bernie is in the race. But I am saying that you need to start getting used to the idea of supporting whoever the democratic nominee is going to be.

So maybe, instead of putting up posts against either Bernie or Hillary, we can focus on posting for the one we support? We can support our chosen candidate without tearing down the one we’re not voting for in the primary. I know that’s hard, and I know that some people are so emotionally invested in this election that they can’t see the difference between posting an objective truth and a smear.

So let’s make a deal: how about we all agree to post an 80/20 ratio of positive posts supporting our candidate? And how about we use the same ratio for our comments? Why am I proposing this? Because I believe that focusing on the positive will make it easier for everyone to do what needs to be done in the general election. If you’re constantly making vitriolic comments about a candidate, your emotions are more likely to get in the way of your pragmatism.

Let’s all try and advocate our primary positions with more positivity than what’s been happening on our side of the primary so far. The next thirty years worth of Supreme Court decisions is dependent on decisions that democrats make over the next nine months. Let’s make smart choices that are in our own self interest.

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What New Hampshire Means

This one will be short and sweet. Here’s my analysis of the democratic primary so far. Yes, New Hampshire was good for Bernie but don’t get too excited yet Bernie supporters.

In my estimation, we won’t have a real race on our hands until after South Carolina. Right now, Hillary is up by about 30 points in South Carolina. Let me tell you what the first 3 primary states mean these days. New Hampshire and Iowa don’t really represent America at all anymore so the only real relevance in those states lies in viability and momentum. They’re always going to be terribly troubling places for the national front runners because they have almost nothing to gain by winning those primaries. New Hampshire and Iowa can however, make an “unviable” candidate viable. Not very viable, but merely viable. On the democratic side, South Carolina is a barometer for how the black vote will go. Without significant black and Latino supporters, a democrat’s chances of winning the primary aren’t awesome.

Bernie needs to come within 5 points of Hillary in South Carolina before we officially have a race on our hands. If he can pull that off, her inevitability will completely evaporate and it will be 2008 all over again. We’ll know who the nominee is going to be on Super Tuesday. If Bernie doesn’t come within 10 points of Hillary, his viability shrinks considerably. He will definitely hand in until Super Tuesday, but her inevitability won’t be damaged much.

Bernie met with Al Sharpton in Harlem this morning. My assumption when I heard about the meeting was that they were strategizing about South Carolina. When I heard Ben Jealous’ representative walk into the restaurant, I knew that they were planning a serious effort to bring in the black vote. Jealous endorsed Bernie 5 days ago. That was no accident. He knows that it’s all about South Carolina now.

Since I’m not one to prognosticate without some solidly unimpeachable evidence, I’m still not prepared to pull out a crystal ball and predict the winner. Anything is still possible.

On the republican side, I have no freaking idea what the hell is going on. The most interesting thing to me at this point (it was clear to me that Kasich was going to come in second) is the fact that Chris Christie (who will never be the nominee) may have succeeded in blowing up Rubio’s chances. Remember how I kept saying that Rubio was as dumb as a bag of rocks when he announced? Well, Christie managed to successfully point that out. The more Rubio does his Ruboto shtick, the more he will become a laughing stock. But he’s so dimwitted, that going off script may actually be even more damaging. Watching him implode will be nothing but fun though.

Oh, there’s never a dull moment in presidential politics!

 

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6 Coin Tosses

So a lot has been made of coin tossgate in Iowa last night. Let me weigh in with my two cents. The unlikeliness of the coin toss outcomes is irrelevant, so let’s stop focusing in on how dubious that whole thing was. The “it was rigged” talk is pointless. We’ve known that the democratic apparatchik has had their thumb on the scales of this primary for a while now. There’s no point in crying over milk that hasn’t even been spilled.

Why do I say that? Because there were six coin tosses involved in the process of electing a presidential nominee. Let’s leave the absurdity of the coin toss procedure aside for now. Bernie Sanders, who we’ve been told for months has no chance of ever getting the nomination necessitated six coin tosses against the unbeatable establishment candidate, who we’ve all been told is a foregone conclusion to be the democratic nominee for president. Every single time a coin had to be tossed, Bernie emerged victorious by demonstrating that narrative about his having no chance completely wrong.

The outcome of the coin toss was completely irrelevant, and focusing on on who “won” Iowa in terms of delegates gained is the wrong way to look at it. Bernie won a big victory for people-powered politics. I would go as far as to say that Bernie won a big victory for democracy. The idea of having an unchallenged primary should be repugnant to anyone who believes in democracy. We don’t have coronations in America, we have elections.

The fact that a dark horse candidate who put himself at a massive disadvantage by not superPACing himself through an American election, tied in a primary race should make everyone happy, regardless of who they support. This is what democracy is supposed to look like.

So Bernie supporters, calm down. You won. The cloud under which Hillary was declared the victor is enough to make that victory irrelevant. It doesn’t matter. There’s no reason to dwell on the declared winner. The fact that most of the headlines said that Hillary “eked out a victory” isn’t really a win for her. I actually think that it’s hurt her. I also think that the cloud under which she was pronounced the victor will energize more people onto team Bernie.

Speaking of being energized, I want to say one thing; the vitriol between Hillary supporters and Bernie supporters is ridiculous and unproductive. Approaching politics emotionally is precisely the wrong way to approach politics. I have heard liberals say the most ludicrous things in support of their candidate of choice over the past few months. At the end of the day, either Bernie or Hillary is far more preferable to any republican candidate running for president. Please don’t lose sight of that. Your emotional investment in your primary candidate needs to end when the primaries do. We have a minimum of two likely Supreme Court nominations on the table for the next president. Don’t let your emotions get in the way of doing what needs to be done on election day because that would be an incredibly foolish mistake.

So let’s please table the “Hillary is corrupt” or the “Bernie can’t get anything done” talk after Super Tuesday, when you all need to shake it off. If you don’t get over it, you will regret it deeply when a 42 year old version of Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia are appointed to the Supreme Court.

As an aside, I think that Rubio was the big winner on the republican side last night. He’s the establishment candidate who did pretty well. I promise you that Jeb! has been on the phone with the big donors all day, getting his marching papers. I don’t know why he would stay in the race until New Hampshire, but I promise he won’t see anymore superPAC money coming in. Cruz is universally despised by both the republican and the democratic establishment, so his path to the nomination is going to be hard if the establishment band together around one candidate. The only possible candidate left for them is Rubio.

Yes Trump can still pull it off but I do suspect that he’s going to continue to be the outlier in the polls because I don’t believe that a lot of his supporters aren’t likely voters. I think that if there’s another upset in New Hampshire, he’s basically done (even though he will push through to super Tuesday).

 

 

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Who Won The Democratic Debate?

If you follow my Facebook page, my opinion was that it was too close to call, but that I thought that Bernie was going to get a bump in the polls. Why? Because a lot of viewers hadn’t been paying attention to the primaries yet, and were seeing Bernie for the first time. This was the most watched democratic debate in history with over 15 million television viewers and another million streaming it online. Bernie had nowhere to go but up. And while Hillary did a great job, her advantage up to this point becomes a disadvantage; people know her and have already formed their opinions about her.

That analysis, like my commentary the night of the debate wasn’t based on who I support or what I want to happen. It was an objective observation.

I immediately started seeing results of some very unscientific online polls indicating that Bernie crushed it. I didn’t post any of those, even though I support Bernie because again, they are very unscientific. I also didn’t post any of the nearly 100% of articles from the main stream media declaring that Hillary won decisively. Why? Because there were (and still aren’t yet) any scientific polls behind those claims. They were all basically opinion pieces.

But here’s the thing; those very unscientific polls weren’t even close.

Here’s a video of a CNN focus group. These people weren’t closely divided. Bernie clearly won with them. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s another focus group that Fusion did. It was also not close, with Bernie winning 8 to 3 with one undecided. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Frank Luntz did a focus group in Florida. Not only did Bernie win overwhelmingly, but people who started off supporting Hillary switched their support to Bernie. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s a screen shot of a very unscientific poll on Slate.com;

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 9.04.23 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Funny enough, here’s an article on Slate proclaiming that Hillary resoundingly won. And here’s a comical follow up to that article, esplainin why the original article was correct, despite the not-even-close results of the very unscientific poll.

Here’s another screenshot from a very unscientific poll from Time;

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 9.11.08 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s another very unscientific poll from an NBC affiliate in Colorado. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s very unscientific poll on The Street. Bernie won 80% of the vote there. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”.

Here’s one from Daily Kos where criticism of president Obama has been met with disdain for the past 6 years, and where Hillary is clearly the consensus candidate;

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 9.27.02 AM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That would be the closest one I’ve seen, but then again it’s Kos who is not without it’s significant bias. It’s still a 20 point spread in favor of Bernie.

I can post another half dozen of these, but you get the point. That would not be a margin that could be characterized as “close”. 

Vox published a piece claiming that Hillary “is not facing first rate competition”.

Ryan Lizza from the New Yorker tweeted that “Hillary Clinton won because all of her opponents are terrible”.

CNN called it “Hillary’s Big Night”.

Again, I can go on and on but you get the point.

Why did I keep emphasizing the phrases “very unscientific” and “could not be characterized as close” in this piece? Because both points must be emphasized. While the polls aren’t scientific and not even a little close, the pattern you see when you put them all together means something.

Does it mean that Bernie is going to be our next president? Not even remotely.

The fundraising disparity between Hillary and Bernie will always make him unlikely to win. When Obama ran in 2008, he raised half a billion dollars from regular Americans and half a billion dollars from the usual big money rainmakers. Bernie has a long road to hoe, but that doesn’t mean that he has no chance. The only thing that can make the money irrelevant, is if more people engaged in paying closer attention to the candidates they have to choose from.

Does this mean that the very unscientific polls showing Bernie is the overwhelming favorite are meaningless? Contrary to what the main stream (and some left leaning) media is telling you, the answer is no. It does mean something. It means that among people who are actively paying attention to the democratic primary, Bernie Sanders is crushing it. People who answer online polls they find on pages with political content are people who are more engaged in the process than the lion’s share of the electorate.

Unfortunately, most voters base their decisions on television commercials. Sigh.

So what’s my point? My point is that we’re about a day away from getting some scientific poll results. I’m positive that Bernie is going to get a bigger bump than I anticipated. Is he going to become the front runner? Probably not, but he’s going to make some pretty solid national gains.

Don’t let the media tell you what’s going on in this race. That’s my point. Thanks to the internet, you have the power to tell them. We’re not living in an age where they have as much power to create a narrative for you to believe and therefore make true.

Keep falling in love in the primary because that’s what primaries are for. Forget the “viability” arguments. This is your time to vote your conscience. I’m completely confident that people who fall in love in the primaries have the sense to fall in line in the general and to vote for whoever gets the democratic nomination, so I’m not going to lecture about the general. We’re not there yet.

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Donald Trump Is Andy Kaufman

He has to be. There’s no other explanation. Every time the Donald opens his mouth and deep throats his foot, I become more and more convinced of this.

He’s running for president as Tony Clifton, and he’s going to leave the republican party in ruins before he’s done not becoming president. Tony Clifton is the ID of the republican party. That’s why the establishment can’t stop him. He is the center of the republican onion after you’ve peeled off the layers of Luntz.

Trump doesn’t do Luntz. So when the rest of the party refers to Obama as “the food stamp president”, Trump just goes for the gold by insisting that he’s Kenyan. Trump can’t be bothered to veil himself in the “anti colonialism” pretense. He’s Tony Clifton. He’s the republican party in its truest form.

That’s why we haven’t seen the republican establishment say a peep about any of his outrageous comments over the past decade. They didn’t say anything when he called our president a Kenyan for the better part of a year (most republicans “weren’t sure” if he was born in America). They didn’t say anything when he called black people lazy ( but he does have a great relationship with “the blacks”). They didn’t say anything when he referred to most Mexicans as rapists (except for the few who he thinks may be decent people). They didn’t say anything when Trump shared the idea that Jeb didn’t cosign the “Mexicans are rapists” idea because he has a Mexican wife.

But now they’re finally saying something. What is is that finally has republicans pushing back on Trump? A comment he made about John McCain;

“He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”

They’re outraged that he would denigrate a war veteran in such a disrespectful way! OUTRAGED, I tell you! Here’s the problem the republicans attacking Trump on this are going to have; they built a presidential convention on denigrating a vet eleven years ago. Remember how John Kerry wasn’t a real war hero? Remember all the purple band aids the crowd were wearing with delight at the convention?

When Andy Kaufman pretended he knew nothing of Tony Clifton, it was high-larious, and it still is. Here’s the thing; the republican base like Tony Clifton way more than they like Andy Kaufman. Sure, Andy makes them feel good, but Tony gives them multiple orgasms on a daily basis. Attacking Tony Clifton is not a winning strategy for republicans, since they created him.

They can’t lay a finger on Trump because they created Trump. And I have some very sad news for the republican establishment; Tony Clifton is just getting warmed up. He’s going to leave the republican party bruised, battered, and burned before he’s done. Because of Trump, we’re finally getting around to talking about how outrageous the swiftboating of John Kerry was. Finally.

Trump is everything the republican base adores because the republican establishment taught them to adore this. He’s a straight talking republican, and the Luntzian language is no longer acceptable to the base. They’re tired of the veneer and the coded language. Trump calls it like they’ve all been conditioned to see it.

Trump is Andy Kaufman. And like Andy Kaufman, he’s not dead until enough people believe he’s dead. That’s not going to happen for a few months.

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Hillary Derangement Syndrome

It’s already happening. To be more accurate, I should say that the volume is already being turned up to 11. There’s always been a faction of people in this country who suffer from derangement when it comes to the Clintons. People forget what it was like in the 90s because of what we’ve had to endure in regard to the right wing’s treatment of president Obama, but it was bad. I’m not sure that the derangement toward Obama is any worse than it is toward the Clintons. It’s just lazier since he’s black, and blowing a racist dog whistle is easier than concocting a murder conspiracy. They had to get more creative with Bubba. They called him a rapist, drug dealer, murder, and a slew of other things that were too stupid to be stored in my memory banks. The attacks were relentless against both Bill and Hillary.

Yes, they despised Hillary for being married to Bill, but they also despised her for having a brain and using it to help her husband and his presidency. They were enraged when Bill put Hillary in charge of coming up with a health insurance reform plan. Republicans like first ladies to be of the stepford variety. Laura Bush was everything that a first lady should be. Nancy Reagan got a pass because they loved everything that Ronnie was. Randi Rhodes used to refer to Laura Bush as “crazy eyes Lala”. I refer to her as “Pfizer Lala”. She always looks like she’s one Xanax away from an overdose. I digress.

When Hillary referred to the “vast right wing conspiracy” against her husband, the media treated her as if she was paranoid. And then a few years later, David Brock (who went on to found Media Matters) wrote a book about the conspiracy and his part in it.

I’m not going to list the accusations of scandal that have been lobbed at both Bill and Hillary. You can find plenty of right wing whackadoodle sites for that. I will say that precisely none of those accusations have any merit to them. I can’t think of two people who have been investigated by congress more than the Clintons. American taxpayers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars investigating the Clintons, to no avail. There’s no corruption. There’s no scandal, and there’s no trace of improper or illegal actions by either Clinton. That’s just a fact.

There are no congressional reports that even suggest that a Clinton acted improperly, other than Ken Starr’s soft core porn report about the Lewinsky situation. That’s all there is. There’s no evidence that Hillary has ever done anything wrong as a senator, Secretary of State, first lady, or private citizen.

And yet, I hear insane accusations against her coming from both liberals and conservatives. The right doesn’t need evidence for anything they believe, so that part isn’t confusing. But the allegations of corruption from Bernie Sanders supporters is thoroughly confusing to me.

I do not support Hillary in the primary. I’ve said this repeatedly on my various social media sites; I’m with Bernie for as long as Bernie is in this race. I do not need to make shit up in order to rationalize my reasons for not supporting Hillary. I don’t need to throw out accusations of corruption in order to support Bernie. She’s never been proven to be corrupt. All that crap about the donors to the Clinton Foundation concluded a quid pro quo, based on the rich and powerful donor list. They found the “quid” and just assumed the “pro quo” even though no one ever found it. Of course the donor list to The Clinton Foundation includes rich and powerful people from all around the world. It’s probably nearly identical to the Gates Foundation donor list. That in itself is not a smoking gun, and anyone who believes it does, needs to go back to high school to take a debate class and learn some critical thinking.

I don’t need to make the comical assertion that she’s not qualified to be president to rationalize why I don’t support her. She’s as qualified to be president as Barack Obama + Thomas Jefferson and then some. She’s the most qualified candidate who has ever sought the presidency. No other candidate has ever held the offices she’s held and already spent eight years in the white house. I’m sorry, but she’s empirically and objectively more than qualified to be president.

She definitely has a deeper understanding of foreign policy nuances than Bernie Sanders could possibly have. That’s also a fact. I happen to align with Bernie’s foreign policy stance more than Hillary’s even though I know that she knows more than he does. She’s too hawkish for me, and I’m aware that a certain shift toward hawkishness is the inevitable result of actually being in the trenches. I just prefer for someone to start off from a position where they’re less prone toward military intervention so that their inevitable pull toward intervention still leaves them less hawkish than someone who starts off more prone to war. That’s a calculation I’ve made without having to underestimate or dismiss her experience in foreign policy.

Let me pause the Hillary talk for a minute to address my fellow Bernie supporters. He’s not perfect, and he’s not going to save the world if we can just get him into the white house. Stop lionizing him. That’s a childish approach to politics, and it needs to end. I don’t like Bernie’s record on guns. I actually despise his record on guns. Cliff Schecter, for whom gun policy is a top priority, lays out in great detail, Bernie’s rhetoric and record on guns here. Let me give you some of what most bothers me.

In 2005, he voted to indemnify gun manufacturers and dealers from being sued by people who were killed by their product. In 2009, he voted to allow Amtrak passengers to have firearms in their checked bags. That just makes it easier for people from Philadelphia to bring guns into NYC, where we have stricter laws. I love it when the ammosexuals bring up Chicago as an example of how gun laws don’t work. Chicago is literally just a few miles away from Indiana, or as I like to refer to it; ammosexualpalooza. Last time I checked, I’ve never shown ID or been searched when crossing state lines. If you want to have an intellectually honest discussion about the efficacy of strict gun laws, you need to talk about Hawaii, where your binkie would need to go through a metal detector to get into the state. At any rate, Bernie thinks it’s swell to help guns travel from state to state.

But as Cliff points out in his piece, Bernie’s rhetoric is worse than his voting record. I’m not going to excerpt it because it’s a great piece and you should take a minute (it’s short) to read it. My point is that Bernie’s record on guns does not make me happy. Cliff got pummeled by Bernie supporters over that piece. Those people would be idiots. You should not need to create a perfect candidate for yourself, in order to feel good about your choice.

Let me add something for the Hillary supporters. Her strategy of not taking questions from journalists, or from average citizens should have you seriously concerned, given her performance in 2007. If her strategists have decided that not talking is the way to go, you need to be very concerned about her past implosion on the campaign trail. You should want to see proof that she’s upped her game before the general election. Remaining silent and only doing negotiated interviews should not give you confidence in her campaign. Think. Bernie is taking questions from any random journalist or citizens who ask them. You should need for Hillary to do the same. Reverse Hillary derangement syndrome isn’t a good thing either.

Think. Make informed decisions. Don’t be children. Critical thinking is the most valuable skill you can teach yourselves. I support Bernie knowing that I vehemently disagree with him on guns, and knowing that Hillary is infinitely more versed on foreign policy than Bernie is. These are calculations I’ve made like a grown up.

Back to Hillary, and why I don’t support her despite all of the strengths I’ve listed here. I don’t like where her campaign funds are coming from. I just don’t. I’m not a child. I know that you need at least one planet-and-people-raping industry to win the presidency in the US. I now that. I know that the next president of the United States will likely have received at least 50% of their funding from Wall Street, big pharma, or the energy industry. I’m aware of this. But that doesn’t mean that I have to like it, and it doesn’t mean that I have to passively accept it. You can’t acknowledge how corrosive Citizen’s United was for out system and be totally comfortable with Hillary’s funding sources. These two things are diametrically opposed to each other, and it’s not possible to be intellectually honest while holding both thoughts in your head

Regular readers of this blog know that I believe that we need to change our campaign funding system before we can hope to get anything resembling good and effective government. You also know that I believe there’s only one way to do this; by amending the constitution to get corporate money (and personhood) out of the system. I don’t trust congress to get it done, so I’ve been working with Wolf PAC on an Article V amendment. I lay out my case here.

I believe that supporting Bernie in the primaries helps to send the message that we don’t like corporate money buying out our politicians, but not if we suffer from Hillary derangement syndrome. The single biggest reason why I don’t support Hillary is to reinforce my disdain for Citizen’s United and any candidate who’s good at negotiating a Citizen’s United political climate. But that message doesn’t work if everyone else who doesn’t support her is focused in on fabricating bullshit for why she’s awful and Bernie’s awesome. Neither of these things are true, and they’re both diluting our ability to send a real message here.

Approaching politics like a simpleton is destructive in ways that you can’t even imagine (probably cause people who do it, haven’t learned to think critically). The Hillary derangement syndrome that is taking hold in this election is destructive, and it squanders an opportunity to send a message about a real issue that really effects you. These lionizers and demonizers are cutting off their noses to spite their faces. These efforts to make decisions simple in the short term, are making everything worse in the long term.

We all need to start weighing information again. In politics, there’s always something to weigh. People who support Bernie and are for stricter gun control need to stop abdicating their duty to weigh issues because nuance is just too hard. If thinking about the politician you’ve chosen to vote for doesn’t hurt your brain a little, you’re doing it wrong.

I know why I’ve made my choice. I wish I could say that about the electorate at large.

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Rich Donors Don’t Influence Politics, Silly!

Listen to Marco Rubio lay a giant turd out there with no shame and a completely straight face;

He’s never had a donor come to his office, looking for anything from him. Interesting. Maybe he just doesn’t have big, billionaire donors, so that’s the reason he’s never been asked to do anything special? Did I mention that he said this during the swimsuit competition of the Koch presidential primary beauty pageant?

Who believes this? Is he representing the views of the American people here?

Hardly.

A CBS/ New York Times poll conducted in the beginning of May has 80% of Americans in favor of limiting campaign donations. Only 17% think that our current system of unlimited spending is just swell.

Here’s another poll from October, 2012 where Americans are even more opposed to the massive corporate spending on elections. In this poll;

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 Americans think there’s too much corporate money in politics (51% strongly agree).
  • 81 percent of Americans agree that companies should only spend money on political campaigns if they disclose their spending immediately. 80 percent agree that companies should only spend money on political campaigns if they get prior shareholder approval.
  • Requiring corporations to get shareholder approval before spending money on politics is supported by 73 percent of both Republicans and Democrats, and 71 percent of Independents.
  • 84 percent of Americans agree that corporate political spending drowns out the voices of average Americans, and 83 percent believe that corporations and corporate CEOs have too much political power and influence.
  • More than 8 in 10 Americans (81%) believe that the secret flow of campaign spending is bad for democracy.
  • 87 percent agree that prompt disclosure of political spending would help voters, customers and shareholders hold companies accountable for political behavior.
  • 77% of Americans support a requirement that companies publicly disclose their contributions to groups that funnel money into politics.
    • 74% of Americans support a plan allowing candidates to run for Congress without raising large contributions by collecting small contributions and receiving limited public funds.
    • 74% of Americans favor requiring that the name of the company and its CEO appear in ads paid for by corporate political spending.

Here’s a poll from Gallup in 2013 that says that half of all Americans support publicly financed campaigns. Here’s what Americans said about voting on limiting campaign contributions;

Screen Shot 2015-06-17 at 9.27.11 AMI can post a dozen more polls that produce the same results. I can also produce dozens of republicans that agree with Marco Rubio.

Wanna know what I can’t produce? A democrat that thinks corporate money flowing into elections is awesome.

When someone tells you who they are, you should believe them.

You think Hillary is too corporatist, and likely to serve her financial industry donors if elected? I think you’re probably right, but republicans are flat out telling you they will.

At least Hillary is speaking out against Citizen’s United and says she supports a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics. Is she lying? Maybe. Is Marco Rubio lying? Definitely not. Is it possible to want to reform the system while being really effective at working with it? Yes. It’s inconceivable to me that we’re going to ever get a president who isn’t a money raising machine ever again, without reforming campaign finance. The fact that she’s very good at doing what needs to be done in order to become president doesn’t necessarily mean she’s happy about it. It doesn’t. And if you’re positive that it does, you’re either projecting or you need to seek mental help to treat your delusions of clairvoyance.

We know where Bernie stands. We also know that his chances of becoming president are not great. Is it possible? Everything is possible. I’m hanging in with him for as long as he hangs in, but we’ve never seen a candidate with less money win a presidential election. In congress, the odds of winning an election without having the most amount of money is 6%. That’s right, 94% of the time, the candidate with the most money wins. Those are pre-Citizen’s United and McKutcheon statistics. They’re most certainly worse now.

If given the option between someone who tells me they’re definitely not going to be representing me (and they like it that way), and someone who tells me that they would like to make it possible for them to work for me, I’m going to pick the latter. I would be a rube not to.

At least with democrats, there’s a teenie, tiny chance they believe what they say. Unfortunately for America, republicans definitely mean what they say.

Both parties are not the same, and all you have to do to realize that, is to pay attention to what they’re telling you about themselves.

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