Republicans Archives

Bail? Fail.

Thanks to Senate Republicans, the auto bailout didn’t happen.  For now.  The UAW, et. al. may just be biding their time until there are more Democrats in the Senate (i.e. January).  More analysis (and specific credit to Sen. Bob Corker) from Francis Cianfrocca at RedState.

Back to the Future

This was the title of a post on Redstate by Aaron Gardner, regarding where the Republican Party goes from here.  Gardner started, as his foundation of what the Republicans need to stand for, from the party platform of 1980, when Reagan was swept into the White House with 489 electoral votes.  He made some of his own modifications, but overall the (lengthy) statement stands as a good starting point.

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Election Post-Mortem

I was on the road again this week, so not much time for a post-election wrap-up from me.  But now that the dust has settled, let me knock out a few thoughts.

1.  Exit polls indicate that the number of self-described liberals in this country and the number of self-described conservatives hasn’t changed hardly at all since the last election, and conservatives hold a 12 percentage point lead (34 to 22).  This is still a center-right country.  Obama would do well to remember that.

2.  You win with your base, and McCain took too long to pick it up.  Now, I know that others (our own contributor, Jim, being one) have said that the base took too long to converge around the candidate, but I have to respectfully disagree; I think that’s entirely backwards.  Conservatives in the Republican party have always looked at McCain with a cocked eye, and they — or, to be honestly inclusive, we — had a tough time with many of his positions.  Our minds weren’t going to be changed overnight because he won the nomination.  That’s not principled.

Conversely, McCain did, in fact, make moves to the right that eventually won over the base, but I don’t think he did it quickly enough.  However, if you win with (or lose without) your base, what about the highly-touted independents that were supposed to make McCain so popular?  The answer is…

3.  …they largely split between the two candidates, which throws out all the conventional wisdom on how to win elections.  It’s been all about the "bell curve", that huge group of voters in the center; neither Left or Right.  In a race between a center-Right candidate and a hard-Left one, the conventional wisdom was that the more centrist candidate would pull in the middle in droves.  That didn’t happen.  Karl Rove, love ‘im or hate ‘im, was right, as Dan McLaughlin noted on Redstate:

Karl Rove’s theory – one he perhaps never explicitly articulated, but which was evident in the approach to multiple elections, votes in Congress, and even international coalitions run by his boss, George W. Bush – was, essentially, that you win with your base. You start with the base, you expand it as much as possible by increasing turnout, and then you work outward until you get past 50% – but you don’t compromise more than necessary to get to that goal.

Standing in opposition to the Rove theory was what one might call the Beltway Pundit theory, since that’s who were the chief proponents of the theory. The Beltway Pundit theory was, in essence, that America has a great untapped middle, a center that resists ideology and partisanship and would respond to a candidate who could present himself as having a base in the middle of the electorate.

Tonight, we had a classic test of those theories. Barack Obama is nothing if not the pure incarnation on the left of the Rovian theory. He ran in the Democratic primaries as the candidate of the ‘Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.’ His record was pure left-wing all the way. He seems to have brought out a large number of new base voters, in particular African-Americans responding to his racial appeals and voting straight-ticket D. As I’ll discuss in a subsequent post, the process of getting to 50.1% for a figure of the left is more complex and involves more concerted efforts at concealment and dissimulation, but the basic elements of the Rovian strategy are all there.

John McCain, by contrast, was the Platonic ideal Beltway Pundit-style candidate, and his defeat by Obama ensures that his like will not win a national nomination any time soon, in either party. McCain spent many years establishing himself as a pragmatic moderate, dissenting ad nauseum and without a consistent unifying principle from GOP orthodoxy; McCain had veered to the center simply whenever he felt that the Republican position was too far. McCain held enough positions that were in synch with the conservative base to make him minimally acceptable, but nobody ever regarded him as a candidate to excite the conservative base.

Yes, this is essentially a restatement of point 2, but where as #2 is looking from the Right, #3 is looking from the center. 

Also keep in mind that the center is where most undecided voters live, some of whom don’t decide who to vote for until they in the voting booth.  Reagan won by sticking to his conservative principles and Obama won on his liberal credentials (spreading the wealth around, socializing health care, anti-war).  It wasn’t the blowout it should have been, given the perfect storm of an unpopular President, and unpopular war and a tanking economy, but a win is a win.

UPDATE:  John Hawkins concurs:  Top 7 Reasons Why the GOP Can’t Build a Political Party Around Moderates.

4.  McCain was hoist on his own petard; McCain/Feingold.  On election night, you could almost hear, in the back of your head, a voice-over saying, "This election brought to you by…campaign finance reform."  Another element of the perfect storm for Obama was the fact that he reneged on his promise to stick to public financing and hugely outspent McCain (yet still only managed an average victory).  This unconstitutional (in my humble opinion) program restricts free political speech, arguably what the First Amendment is precisely about.  McCain/Feingold is dead, for all intents and purposes.  At least it’s now irrelevant. 


I still respect McCain as a politician and a bridge-builder, and I believe he would have made a far better President than the one we’re going to get.  But cheer up, Republicans.  At least Obama is going to pay for your gas and your mortgage.

Which way will we go?

North? South?

Left? Right?


– image © 2008 A. R. Lopez

A What-If Poll

One thing I fear if Mr McCain wins as compared to a possible victory in by Mr Obama. If Mr McCain wins, I think the left will go absolutely insane. If Mr Obama wins on the other hand, my impression is that conservatives (such as myself) will just hunker down for 4 years of bad policy, increased racial tensions, higher taxes, and other similear consequences of electing an inexperienced academic to the the Presidency. But … if you thought the left and their BDS was a problem for national discourse on Mr Bush’s re-election I fear such anger will increase far more if Mr McCain wins this election.

So, to that point, I’ll take a comment survey. If the “other guy” wins, what would be your dominant emotional response.

For the record, I think mine would be, the “oh, crap” sensation when standing near or in striking range of a tottering shelf or pile.

This is the 2nd and final part of my analysis of an open letter from Anne Rice. Part 1 was posted yesterday.


Anne Rice spends most of her letter covering this issue, and she starts with an assertion that, to me, shows a lack of consideration of the history of the issue.

I want to add here that I am Pro-Life. I believe in the sanctity of the life of the unborn. Deeply respecting those who disagree with me, I feel that if we are to find a solution to the horror of abortion, it will be through the Democratic Party.

Ms. Rice does touch on these historical issues lightly later on, and I’ll hit them more in-depth then, but even looking at how the abortion issue generally falls between the parties today, I don’t see this as making sense. What I hear from Democrats are things like John Kerry with this sentiment:

I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect those views. But I disagree with them, as do many. I can’t legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn’t share that article of faith. I believe that choice is a woman’s choice. It’s between a woman, God and her doctor. That’s why I support that. I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade.

If one’s commitment to Christianity should be “absolute”, as Ms. Rice has said, there is a big problem with this statement, that is generally the line religious Democrats use when talking about abortion, and that is the canard about legislating one’s religious faith, or sometimes call ramming one’s religion down your throat. Civil rights are very much a moral issue, but does Sen. Kerry have the same problem with legislating that? No, he’s very willing to impose his view on KKK members, and rightly so. It’s right, it’s moral and it’s the law. Legislators all throughout our country’s history, and more so in our early history, based many of their decisions partly or mostly on their religious faith. This excuse is disingenuous.

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Repost: Christians & Political Parties:A Response to Anne Rice, Part 1

The following is a repost of a blog post I wrote over a year ago (August 23rd & 24th, 2007) during the presidential primary season.  It was in response to an open letter by the author Anne Rice on her personal web site.  Ms. Rice is the author of the Vampire Lestat series of books, but, after returning to the Catholic church in 1998, stopped that project. 

I’ve searched her web site for the letter in question and cannot find a page that has it archived, although many of her other writings, going back to 1996, are on there.  It was copied and posted on other forums, including here, so you can read along at home.  (Warning: This is a link to the right-wing Free Republic web site.  If you fear cooties emanating from there, turn back now.)

I think the issues covered in this endorsement of Hillary Clinton for the Democratic party nominee are still relevant now, especially how it relates to Christians, how they can and should work through the political process, how Ms. Rice believes her choice of party advances that, and where I disagree with her. 

It was originally posted in 2 parts due to its length, and so it shall be this time. 

This is one of my longer posts, possibly the longest I’ve done on the blog. What happened was, I was reading an open letter from a Christian planning on voting a particular way, and as I read further and further into it, one objection after another kept coming to my mind, and one problem after another regarding the writer’s reasons kept getting in the way. Finally, I realized I’d have to just set aside some of my typical day-to-day blogging of the link-and-quick-comment type, and go in-depth into the problems I see with the author, and Christians in general, who vote Democratic for specifically Christian reasons, and especially regarding the social issues brought up in the letter. Pull up a cup of coffee and sit back.

Anne Rice is a Catholic author. I’ll admit to not being too well-read, but as a Protestant my knowledge of Catholic authors is even more limited. Therefore, I’m not sure how much Ms. Rice’s views are mainstream Catholic, although whether or not they are really isn’t the crux of this post. I do want to discuss the views she espouses, and espouses quite well as an author. That she is a Catholic and I am a Protestant has really no bearing on my criticism of her recent public letter dated August 10. I know Protestants who would agree with her on these issues, so this is not a denominational thing. She professes Christianity, as do I, and we have very similar goals, as far as I can tell, on the topics she discusses, and yet we’re voting differently. Ms. Rice wrote a lengthy letter to her readers on her main web site (no permalink so don’t know how long it’ll stay on the front page) about why she is endorsing Hillary Clinton for President. The reasons she lists for that endorsement, to me, run completely counter to her list of important issues and goals. If she is truly concerned about those goals, I don’t follow her endorsement, nor the endorsement of other of my friends and acquaintances of any Democrat in the current group. I want to address the inconsistencies I see in this post.

Ms. Rice starts out with her Christian and Catholic creds, which I respect and am willing to accept. She talks about how, while the separation of church and state is a good idea, the voter does not have that prohibition, and in fact must consider their vote based on their religion.

Conscience requires the Christian to vote as a Christian. Commitment to Christ is by its very nature absolute.

I agree wholeheartedly. But, she also correctly notes, we have only 2 political parties in this country. (She believes, as do I, that a vote for neither Democrat or Republican, whether it’s a non-vote or a vote for a 3rd party, is essentially a vote for one of the two major ones, no matter how you slice it.) In short:

To summarize, I believe in voting, I believe in voting for one of the two major parties, and I believe my vote must reflect my Christian beliefs.

Bearing all this in mind, I want to say quietly that as of this date, I am a Democrat, and that I support Hillary Clinton for President of the United States.

And that last clause is where the disagreement begins.

Charitable Giving

The first paragraph of explanation deals with giving.

Though I deeply respect those who disagree with me, I believe, for a variety of reasons, that the Democratic Party best reflects the values I hold based on the Gospels. Those values are most intensely expressed for me in the Gospel of Matthew, but they are expressed in all the gospels. Those values involve feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting those in prison, and above all, loving ones neighbors and loving ones enemies. A great deal more could be said on this subject, but I feel that this is enough.

First of all, neither the religious right nor the religious left have a lock on charitable giving. At the same time, as was noted on this post regarding a study by Arthur Brooks, conservatives outgive liberals by quite a significant amount. How does this relate to how the political parties differ in their view of the government’s role in this? Ms. Rice, I believe, falls into a trap by simplistically equating the advocacy of government charity with Jesus’ admonition to the individual to be charitable. Democrats say the government should give more, so by her reckoning thy are more in line with her Christian view. However, it has always made me wonder how when Jesus tells me, personally, to be charitable, that somehow this means that I should also use the government to force my neighbor, under penalty of jail, to be “charitable”. I put “charitable” in quotes because when there’s force involved, there’s no real act of charity. How Democrat Christians get from point A to point Z on this boggles my mind. Another statistic from Brooks’ study brings this point home; People who believe the government does not have a basic responsibility to take care of the people who can’t take care of themselves are 27 percent more likely to give to charity.

On top of this, the bureaucratic inefficiency filter that we’re all forced to funnel our “charitable” taxes through siphons money away from the needy, as does the massive fraud that goes on in a big government program that has little accountability.

Conservatives believe that forcibly taking money isn’t charity, and that it is not government’s role to rob from Peter to pay Paul, and that the way the government handles this creates dependency and causes further problems, like giving fathers a disincentive to stick around. Because of this, conservatives give more of their own money to local charities where the administrative costs are much lower. The Republican party, the current home of most conservative political ideas in this country, purports to support these goals, and while they don’t always follow those principles, they have done better at this than Democrats. An expanded role of government in the area of giving to the poor is not the best way for that to happen, and as a Christian I believe it’s not moral to force others to give when they don’t want to. Again, Jesus asks me to give; He didn’t ask me to force others to.

Ms. Rice, in ticking off a laundry list of values, seems to be falling for the framing of the issue that Democrats have put forth; welfare = caring. There are other ways to care, which can have much better results.

Part 2 tomorrow.

Virtues and Not

This post examines to characteristics of the two candidates, which are strong negative aspects of their personality. This isn’t meant to be a thing to point out deadly flaws of either candidate. But is a (for me) relatively even handed discussion of two aspects, possibly even related, in which both candidates both have in these two characteristics respectively demonstrated symmetric negative character flaws.

Mr Obama, we have come to understand, at least in his public persona has little or no sense of humor, for example there are clips of their recent public joint comedy appearance. Mr McCain by contrast, came through with comedic timing and sense, does not share this flaw in fact quite the reverse, that he can be quite funny. Inability to tell a joke, for the Meyer-Briggs crowed is probably tell-tale for a distinctive personality type. Now, it may also be that in private, Mr Obama has quite the sense of humor, but that in public he can’t pull it off, but remember, Mr Obama is by all accounts quite the demagogue … which might lead one to discount the notion that it is a public/private matter.

On the flip side, much has been said about Mr McCain’s temper. I have written not just a few times about the virtue of apathy, from the Greek apatheia, or dispassion. Apathy as a virtue is that one is not driven by passions. Anger and rage are strong passions and publicly (or privately) giving way to this, especially when not controlled, is certainly problematic. Mr McCain reportedly has, in private, quite the temper problem. By all accounts, Mr Obama, while not as famously dispassionate as those two NFL apatheia exemplars, Coach Lovie Smith and Tony Dungy, is himself highly controlled.

So, in the virtue vice column, Mr McCain has an excellent sense of humor, Mr Obama does not. Mr McCain has anger/temper issues, Mr Obama is dispassionate. A plus for each and a negative for each.

As an aside: one wonders if the virtues noted above are not unconnected to the vices mentioned. That is, is Mr Obama’s “control” and dispassion linked to his lack of a sense of humor and on the flip side is the emotional lack of same control on the side of Mr McCain also linked to his also having a sense of humor?

Rod Dreher thinks that conservatives who think that McCain won the latest debate are all wrong. He trumps polls which show Obama as the victor and he links to John Podhoretz as support. Podhoretz states,

The general feeling on the right side of the blogosphere is that this was McCain’s best debate and he did himself a lot of good. I think people on the Right were so relieved that the debate finally turned to matters of ideological and partisan moment — abortion, ACORN, Ayers, trade, spending — that, perhaps for the first time in his political career, they graded him on a curve. The problem, in my view, is that the shorthand in which McCain spoke about these matters made them comprehensible only to those of us who are already schooled in them. In almost every case, Obama answered McCain’s shorthand with longhand — with detailed, even long-winded answers that gave the distinct impression he was more in command of the details of these charges than the man who was trying to go after him on them.

We’re not the audience for these debates. Undecided voters are, and undecided voters are, or so studies tell us, often astonishingly ill-informed. You can only bring up new issues if you’re able pithily to explain the context and meaning of them. It is not a rap on McCain to say he’s not good at it; he doesn’t want to bother with the introduction. But in a setting like that, the introduction is what matters, far more than the attack.

I think there’s something inherently wrong with Podhoretz’ reasoning, though.

Consider the… undecided voter. I think there are both informed and ill-informed undecided voters. I know of people who have not decided who they will vote for precisely because they are aware (informed) of both McCain’s and Obama’s positions. They’re frustrated with the choices (or lack thereof) before them, and their frustration manifests itself in the form of indecision.

Now, consider the astonishingly ill-informed undecided voters. If such people are so astonishingly ill-informed, then such people have not put forth the effort to follow the candidates, and their positions. Thus, if such people have not taken the effort to become informed, up to this point in the campaign, then why should we expect that they will park themselves in front of a television and watch a 90 minute debate? Furthermore, if such people can only respond to pithily explained positions, then long-winded answers will be lost on them. Hence, such people will only respond to short campaign ads, the likes of which we will undoubtedly see in the next 2 1/2 weeks.

The Final Presidential Debate

Short take: McCain finally started hitting on the policy issues that he was missing in the first 2 debates.  Mostly, he took on some of Obama’s mischaracterizations of him.  He should have started this 2 debates ago.  I felt better about his performance, but the quick poll of undecideds on Fox showed movement toward Obama.

Random items:

* The "even Fox News" line from Obama shows how much a blind spot Democrats have for rampant liberal bias in the media.  And if this is his only shot at them, it only proves they are indeed balanced.

* "Joe the Plumber", Joe Wurzelbacher, got about 60 minutes of fame, well more than his allotted 15.  Folks that don’t read the blogs may not have known who he is (though the networks have wanted to make sure you know about that 106-year-old nun who’s voting for Obama), but McCain made sure he got the word out.  Hopefully, they’ll find out that this small business owner is going to get taxed more under Obama, and that "infuriates" him.  Maybe they’ll find the video of Obama telling him he wants to "spread the wealth around" (translation: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need).  Hopefully.

* Obama still insists that 95% of people will get a tax cut, ignoring the fact that many people pay no taxes at all.  And as a conservative pundit noted (forget which one), Bill Clinton campaigned on a middle class tax cut.  Amnesia set in as soon as he sat down in the Oval Office.

* Finally, McCain drove the point home that he wants to give you choice over your healthcare, and not introduce a federal bureaucracy into the mix.  Obama’s plan may sound modest enough, but it’s the foot in the door for an even bigger program.  "This worked, so let’s make it bigger and stronger."  That’s what happens to government programs.  McCain’s plan stops at giving you a credit and letting you spend it with no federal mandate whatsoever.  He avoids the slippery slope. 

And now, the home stretch.

Palin Rumor Update

Charlie Martin has gone as far as getting the URL to point to his ever-updated list of rumors about Sarah Palin.  Since last I visited there, there have been new ones added.  Here are a few (and details are on the site):

#72: No, she didn’t try to charge rape victims personally for rape kits.

#76: No she didn’t institute a “windfall profits” tax on oil companies.

#79: No, Palin didn’t eliminate or “void” the Alaskan WIC program as Newsweek claimed.

#83: No, she did not cut the Special Olympics funding in a recent budget, except in the Washington sense of “didn’t increase it as much as someone wanted.”

#84 Yes, she did bill the Alaska State Government for per diem on days when she was “home.”  But that’s the way the law is written, and even doing what other governors did, she still had expenses one-third to one-fifth of the previous governor’s.

Bookmark that page.

Some Modest Proposals

Wacky ideas have been floating in my noggin.

  • It might be an interesting political strategic move for the GOP, if President Bush, in a few weeks announced that on account of mistakes and failure to heed warning signs in the financial sector … that he’s resigning his office. President Cheney then makes a few moves to unbalance the Dems and then fades back into the background (where it might be noted, the President is … and I think that’s largely because the GOP strategists think that gives Mr McCain the best chance to win). How do you all think a surprise resignation might ruffle the waters?
  • The Roman Empire divided into East/West in late antiquity because of the size of the Empire. Modern communications have made that unnecessary … however the complexity of the world has increased. Perhaps a “split” Executive office might be better for the Administration of the US in the modern era … perhaps dividing between a Domestic and Foreign Executive seat?
  • One might suggest that voters tend to fall into two broad categories. Issues voters and character voters. Some want to dive into policy details, others into character and the psyche of the candidates. It might be interesting if some of the News outlets recognized this and specialized reporting those perspectives instead of a mishmash.

A Tale of Two Candidates

If one was to look at the tale of two crises and how our respective candidates reacted to them, the difference between them becomes clear.

In the Georgia/Russia scuffles, McCain immediately reacted speaking out against Russia’s aggression. Obama, in brief, did and said nothing of any note for quite some time, until the dust mostly settled and then … asked for a UN security resolution against the act (somehow overlooking the fact that any resolution would have to pass a Russian Federation veto).

In the current AIG/Merril/Banking crises, Mr McCain has asked for the retirement of the SEC head. He has suggested some regulatory mechanisms which he thinks might be helpful, and pointed out that he was warning about a upcoming crises of this sort for some time. Mr Obama has criticised everyone else, but has not actually suggested anything … yet. Like the above, it would be my bet that when a (liberal) consensus of “what to do” has arisen in his camp, he will put forward a relatively useless and vanilla proposal.

Mr Obama, I suggest, is not a leader. He may someday grow to be one after all he is young an inexperienced and has much learning and growth in the poitical process yet ahead of him. But he has not (ever?) demonstrated any leadership qualities. He may be able divise and find a consensus in within a party which has substantial agreement on the basics. But he has not demonstrated he can take the risks and gambles necessary to lead.

Mr McCain is a more instinctive leader, he may lead you astray sometimes, he may not. But he will lead. And that is an important quality in a leader.

Truth, Fiction, and Politics

It has been an assumption since the Nixon era that politicians lie. It is likely that this was just impressed on that generation more forcefully and politicians always have had an uneasy truce with fact. Mr Obama currently is making hay (apparently) piping the notion that the Bush administration (as I predicted he would) is at fault in the current banking kerfuffle. Read a little from a nominally unbiased economist like Ms McArdle (she’s says she’s voting for Obama on this one). Here for example, she points out that Mr Obama’s claim that GOP policies are “high test hooey”. Here is another and this and finally this. Read them, they are a cogent analysis of what happened by an trained economist.

The point is the political hay that Mr Obama is making is based on a lie. A fiction, a twisting of circumstance, which he is using to his advantage. This is not the only such example, there are many more and Mr Obama is not the only person in this race doing similar things. The point is Mr Obama claims to be different (and is thought to be smart). The other reason, of course, is that I am not an Obama partisan. However, he likely knows exactly what he is doing and is intentionally misleading the public.

Perception ultimately is more important in the election cycle than fact. Nobody is going to “call” Mr Obama on this particular fiction. Mr McCain can’t because to do so can’t be put in a 6 second sound bite. Nobody is going to read the links above in any detail.

PS. Where did all the hope/change nonsense go? Has Mr Obama stopped using it, or have people just stopped noting it?

True Bipartisanship

Everybody says they want more politicians in office that fight corruption, wasteful spending, and are willing to go after their own party to do it.  Yet Sarah Palin is continually talked down by Democrats, who’s concerns about corruption seem to have taken a holiday.

Now comes word that their concerns about bipartisanship — about both parties working together — is also on vacation.

Sen. John McCain’s record of working with Democrats easily outstrips Sen. Barack Obama’s efforts with Republicans, according to an analysis by The Washington Times of their legislative records.

Whether looking at bills they have led on or bills they have signed onto, Mr. McCain has reached across the aisle far more frequently and with more members than Mr. Obama since the latter came to the Senate in 2005.

In fact, by several measures, Mr. McCain has been more likely to team up with Democrats than with members of his own party. Democrats made up 55 percent of his political partners over the last two Congresses, including on the tough issues of campaign finance and global warming. For Mr. Obama, Republicans were only 13 percent of his co-sponsors during his time in the Senate, and he had his biggest bipartisan successes on noncontroversial measures, such as issuing a postage stamp in honor of civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

Democrats say that they want bipartisanship, and indeed have praised McCain’s overtures to them in the past.  But all of a sudden, that seems to be ancient history.

Now, I will say that I’m not entirely a big fan of some of McCain’s bipartisanship. McCain-Feingold “First Amendment Abridgement Act” (my name for it, not theirs) is a prime example.  But outside the campaign season, politician and voter alike keep complaining about how all this bickering in Washington keeps them from doing “the people’s business”.  But here we are, with the most bipartisan politician for President I think we may have ever seen, and suddenly Democrats have lost all interest in it.

Oh, and Sarah Palin is also quite adept with respect to bipartisanship, getting a 75% job approval rating from Alaska Democrats.  Congress can only dream of such high numbers.

Guess “bipartisanship” just means “doing what I want you to do”.

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