Which Will We Salvage?

This is likely to be a very uncomfortable topic — prone to personal hostilities. Still, if my assessment has some basis in truth, it can only be for the best to put it out there in the light, rather than to endure a multiyear campaign season in which it is unmentionable. As entry, here’s a comment from Jim, responding to my suggestion that a Republican president like Giuliani would be disastrous for the culture that makes the United States worth defending:

From a more pragmatic standpoint, if we don’t take the correct stance on the spread of Islamofascism, we won’t have the luxury of worrying about abortion, gay marriage, etc. …
I do not care for Rudy’s stand on gun control or abortion. But what he did in New York, and what I believe he will do to fight Islamofascism far outweigh those issues I don’t favor in him.
Those angling for everything in a candidate usually end up with nothing.

Whatever the truth of his closing assertion, it disregards a whole range of objections to Rudy Giuliani to suggest that conservatives who oppose him are angling for everything. During the primary season, agreement on national defense can, and should, be mixed with something somewhat less than complete disagreement on social and cultural matters. The main problem with Giuliani is that he wouldn’t represent a mere putting on hold of the conservative end of the culture war; at this juncture, he would represent a capitulation. Our bipartisan system would be repositioned as a choice between hawkish and dovish Democrats. It is this either/or sense between culture and defense that raises the uncomfortable, and likely contentious, question for conservatives: On which count is a temporary loss tolerable?
With respect to social issues, how likely is it that our society would emerge from an era of compromised morality, in an internal bargain to defeat Islamofascism, with a zest to recapture lost moral ground? I’d say not likely at all. For one thing, our moral decline has proceeded as a gradual slide down that proverbial slope. At no point is the view from our current position frighteningly precipitous enough to drive us back up the hill; each progressive step appears less threatening than it had but a moment ago, and the firm ground that we’ve relinquished looks more arduous to recapture. Having defeated the terroristic armies of a perversion of religious morality, those who would then return our attention toward our own culture’s imbalance in the other direction would face an even more daunting task than they do now.
With respect to national security issues, how likely is it that the liberal forces in our society will be able to keep their cover of American apathy in the face of further terrorist attacks? Again, not likely at all. The danger of this gamble is that it might take a horrific catalyst to disperse our daydreams about a vacation from history. We can be confident that Islamofascists will snap a branch that wakes Americans up before it is utterly too late, but the size and proximity of that branch may be terrifying to contemplate. We must also be wary of the world’s changing while we are allowing our doves rein enough to brush the electric fence at the border of sanity. The longer the delay in defeating Islamic radicals, the greater the chance that other players’ calculations will change, such that, when American society finally receives the shock that dispels the daydream, it may rise to discover that it is at war not just with terrorists, but with China or Russia or even Europe, too.
Yet, in compromising neither set of principles are we ensuring the other’s victory. We might take the hawkish moderates’ deal only to find that they are thwarted in their security conservatism and amplified in their social liberalism. On the other hand, we might back a social conservative — who, we oughtn’t forget, would also be strong on defense — only to find him incapable of capturing the White House or, if he does, unable to achieve any of his goals in the face of the even more greatly exaggerated antipathy that he would inspire in the other side.
It would be uncharitable (to say the least) to charge me with a willingness to risk the deaths of millions in order to prevent homosexuals from getting married. Much more stands to be lost on the social end than that implies, and the other side of the equation isn’t so certain. There must surely be social liberals who understand the evil that America is currently facing in the global arena, and if they were to make a similar assessment of social “progress” to mine, they would conclude that they can afford to put those issues on hold. The slope will remain for later sliding.
In the final analysis, I guess I’m just more sure that a Giuliani would defeat conservative principles than that Islamofascists will defeat America. Moreover, I’d suggest that Republicans have more to win than to lose by tying conservative social principles to their drive for national security. For one thing, it creates a more compelling whole to be fighting moral corruption — evil — in both its militaristic and libertine, amoral guises than it does to be fighting for our society’s right to be morally bankrupt. If, however, we prove to be unable to overcome the political hostilities that pervade our nation — that is, if a thoroughly conservative Republican Party is unable to increase its share of the national government — I suspect that, as the politics play out, an awakening to our need for self defense would also stir our drifting moral sense.
Many would like to deny it, and that is certainly an easy thing to do, but these distinct goals are united in some nearly inarticulable way. Weighing thoughts intuitive as well as rational, I can only conclude that God will preserve a nation in which He is preserved. In contrast, a culture with undue faith in the infallibility of its own desires will find a way to destroy itself, mangling countless lives in the process.

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Rhody
Rhody
13 years ago

I’m suspecting God has better things to do than worry about American partisan politics. When I hit the pearly gates, I’ll take my chances with my voting record (Rudy’s ego is the reason I won’t vote for him, but I doubt God will askance at those who do vote for him, either).

Justin Katz
13 years ago

I suppose I don’t have such a limiting view of God’s capabilities that I believe He must disregard some goings on in His creation on the grounds of having something “better to do” — “not a sparrow falls” and all that. Surely a God with a personal concern about the condition of each of our souls would find our political comportment worthy of attention. Many there are who would deny that such a God exists, but if that’s your argument, then your comment is misleading.
At any rate, I wasn’t talking about individual salvation, much less the effect thereon of voting practices. I was talking about the conduct and evolution of a nation and, I should explain, my belief that God’s actions in this world unfold organically and seamlessly in a fashion that secularists might prosaically proclaim to be logical consequences. Although it’s funny how that phrase is so much easier to apply in retrospect.

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

If you believe that abortion takes a life, then you also realize that more lives have been taken by way of abortion than by Islamofascism.

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

I also question Jim’s premise. Why does he think Giuliani would do a better job fighting Islamosfascism anyway?
Better than who?
Giuliani has less foreign policy and military experience than John McCain. He has less economic experience than Mitt Romney. He has less legislative experience than Fred Thompson.
Jim, what makes you think he’d do a better job than any other GOP candidate? Because he rallied NYC behind him after 9/11? George W. Bush did the same thing and his numbers went through the roof in the aftermath, but I don’t think it automatically made him a foreign policy expert.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Of course, the point on abortion is implicit (explicitly included, I thought, in the “mangling countless lives” phrase). Unfortunately, realities are such that persuasive arguments cannot always be profitably made on that basis.

Rhody
Rhody
13 years ago

When I see Guiliani speak about Islamoterrorism, I see a man who looks and acts convinced that 3,000 people gave their lives willingly so he could become the all-conquering emperor. For me, that trumps his views on abortion or other social issues.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

My psyche is incapable of rallying behind the concept of a cross-dresser as my President – beyond his 180 degrees away from Republican values on a whole host of other issues – that eliminates Guiliani for me. (Just imagine the al Qaeda propoganda featuring photos of cross-dressed “American President Guiliani.”)
As for McCain – there are REAL questions about his temperament(to put it mildly) – I would argue that there are real questions concerning his mental stability. His advocacy for illegal alien amnesty, McCain-Feingold etc. makes him totally inappropriate as the Republican standard-bearer. He’s a Republican label, not a Republican. No thanks – we don’t need him as the poster-child for the Republican Party.
Romney? Yes, he would be better than a Democrat, at least somewhat. But his background appears to be one of noblesse oblige candidate – someone from a well-off political family that is running mostly to aggrandize the family dynasty and his personal ego – which is the dominant motivation, rather than out of any firm grounding in conviction. Hence his “fluidity” in positions as he is (for now) trying to appeal to the “Republican base.” He’s likely to turn into a George H. Bush once in office. Read my lips: RINO.
Fred Thompson. The hype about “the next Reagan” is presumably overblown (sure hope I’m wrong about that!!!). But, while not perfect, his voting record in the Senate is for the most part consistent with conservative / Republican positions. So, for “real Republicans, at this juncture he appears to be the only hope – all of the other first tier candidates are of the “never mind, I’ll just sit out that race this time” variety.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

The truth about this election is that Republicans are in exactly the same boat that Dems were in the last two Presidential elections.
We don’t have a candidate that can win.
I had said it to Dem friends in both 2000 and 2004 “This is your election to lose. And you will lose it because you’ve got 9 people applying for the job and none of them could possibly win it.”
Now they’re saying that to me and they’re right. There’s not a winner in the bunch.
I’m hoping for either a Bloomburg run or a McCain/Obama ticket. Neither is ideal, but either could win and it’s time that we get past this stupid partisan bitching and start acting like one country again.
God knows Hillary won’t get us there and nobody is looking forward to four more years of “…Clinton…allegations…” in the headlines.
The rest of the Democrats running are running for the VP slot. And we all know that Richardson will get it so they can rope in the hispanic vote.

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

Greg,
I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but polls have a McCain/Clinton matchup as a deadheat.
Giuliani is up by 5 points over Clinton.
Both McCain and Giuliani are in a deadheat when matched up against Obama, with a couple of polls showing McCain beating Obama.
And this is at a time when a sitting Republican president has record low approval numbers. If the Democrats aren’t ahead in the polls at this point, 2008 might be worse for them than they think.
I think McCain, Giuliani and Romney could all win a general election. Also, Fred Thompson could win if he decides to run.

smmtheory
smmtheory
13 years ago

So, what is going to happen if a not-so-conservative Republican wins the primary? Are all the Conservatives going to sit out the 2008 election again like it has been suggested that they did in 2006?
What kind of difference can a President make toward stopping abortion?

smmtheory
smmtheory
13 years ago

So, what is going to happen if a not-so-conservative Republican wins the primary? Are all the Conservatives going to sit out the 2008 election again like it has been suggested that they did in 2006?
What kind of difference can a President make toward stopping abortion?

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Anthony,
The only thing stupider than answering the phone when a pollster calls is believing that poll. Especially almost a year before the first primary.
I wouldn’t vote for McCain. I’d vote for Obama first. McCain was responsible for stripping away the first amendment in politics and is part of the cadre that came up with this wretched immigration plan. Not to mention that he’s a crazy old coot.

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

smmtheory,
The President is the single individual with the most influence on the abortion issue.
He chooses Supreme Court nominees and opt to nominate someone like John Roberts or someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Every spending bill passes across his desk. So when a Democrat Congress passes legislation for taxpayer funded abortion, I’d rather not have a President who has contributed to Planned Parenthood at that desk.
The President also defines his or her party’s platform. While other elected officials may “stray” from the “party-line”, when a President “strays”, it’s the “party-line” that changes. And one of the reasons that I’m a Republican is because of that “party-line”.
Greg,
Stop trying to pose as a Republican.
Obama is to the left of Hillary and had the Senate’s single most liberal voting record in 2006, edging out Chris Dodd of CT for the honor.
If you’re even considering a vote for Obama, you’re not even close to being conservative.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Thanks for defining me for me, Tony.
Since you seem to know me so well any further conversation on how I feel the Republican Party has left me and millions like me behind and is now an irrelevant husk of a real party (just like the Democrats) and how, as a Constitutionalist, I’m very upset with the erosion of freedoms under this moron we elected would be pointless.
I wouldn’t want to waste my time trying to have a substantive conversation with someone who’s already ‘figured me out’.
Weren’t YOU the one trying so hard to convince us all to re-elect RINO Chafee? I guess you’re not even CLOSE to being a Conservative either you pompous jackass.

Andrew
13 years ago

Greg,
I’m curious as to what it is that appeals to you about Michael Bloomberg. I would have thought his reputation for wanting to grow the nanny-state would have turned you off.

Justin Katz
13 years ago

Thank you for the redirect, Andrew. I think a little bit of stepping back and breathing is necessary in this thread.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Andrew,
At this point in the nation’s history I think an independent candidate, beholden to neither party and with so much money that nobody could buy him, might actually be the healing salve that can begin to heal over the scars from the partisan B.S. that has replaced intelligent discourse. I’m willing to temporarily sacrifice an ideal or two in order to get back on track. “Losing a battle to win the war” as Patton might have put it.
I’m certainly no fan of the nanny state. But do you seriously think conservatives has a shot in Hell of winning the White House after the Bush-Cheney-Rove nightmare of the last two administrations? If I’M considering a Dem for Prez, there’s precious little chance that the independents are going to line up behind a Republican.
Essentially I’d rather an (I) than a (D) since I can’t see an (R) winning.

Shoebob
Shoebob
13 years ago

Why couldn’t Giuliani represent a Libertarian wing of the Republican Party? Most of what he’s said on cultural issues regarding the policies over which he’d actually have the authority to implement, have been to defer to the States and to appoint strict constructionist judges.
A Libertarian argument could be that we should let Massachussetts allow gay marriage, and let the Defense of Marriage Act protect other States that don’t want to recognize them.
A Libertarian argument could be that a strict constructionist reading of the Constitution is the only way to ensure the continuation of the rule of law, and that appointing constructionists will eventually lead to the overturning of Roe v. Wade, as it is based on the same legal fallacies as the Dred Scott decision.
For an overturning of Roe v. Wade won’t outlaw abortion, but simply allow individual States the right to set the legal access to abortions as they wish.
And when did the Republican Party become a strictly culturally conservative party? What ever happened to fiscal conservatism? High taxes, ballooning national debt, and runaway government spending (unfortunately often supported by the current administration) used to be hallmarks of the Republican Party that saw them as great a threat to our nation as many of the foreign policy, defense, and cultural issues.
A Libertarian could argue that the culturally conservative activist Republican is no different from his culturally liberal activist Democrat: they both want to expand the scope and power of the federal government, just for different ends.
But just as Fascism and Communism were the flip side of the same totalitarian statist coin, couldn’t big-government Republicans and big-government Democrats likewise be equally large threats to individual liberties, small government, and fiscal restraint?

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Newt Gingrich was quoted as saying:
“You hire Presidents, at a minimum, to run the country well enough that you don’t have to think about it, and, at a maximum, to draw the country together to meet great challenges you can’t avoid thinking about.” Gingrich continued, “When you have the collapse of the Republican Party, you have an immediate turn toward the Democrats, not because the Democrats are offering anything better, but on a ‘not them’ basis. And if you end up in a 2008 campaign between ‘them’ and ‘not them,’ ‘not them’ is going to win.”
I think that’s worthy of some consideration.
Click on my name for a link to the whole article.

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

Shoebob,
There is a place for pure libertarians and it’s not the Republican Party. It’s an organization called the “Libertarian Party”.
Strangely, one of Obama’s Columbia classmates, Wayne Allyn Root, is running for president as a libertarian candidate.
From an article on Root’s declaration: “Root provides a stark contrast to his college classmate Obama who is a lawyer/activist/college professor who believes in bigger government, higher taxes, more entitlements. You could not imagine two more opposite candidates- yet they are products of the same college class.”
Greg, I’m not assuming anything about you. You self-identified your party affiliation as a Republican when you stated “‘We’ don’t have a candidate that can win” when talking about the GOP field.
My post was based on a supposition that someone who uses the word “we” when talking about the Republican Party is a Republican.
The purpose of my response to you was to point out that polls show several Republican candidates match up well against either major Democrat, despite your assertion that the Republican Party has no chance of winning.
You may think that only believing such polls a year out is “stupid”, but I think the only thing “stupider” is to make an assertion with absolutely no evidence to back it up.
As for Chafee, yes, I voted for him and would do so again in the same situation. I made no secret that I disagreed with Chafee on several issues, but felt that the most important thing was to prevent Congress from being served up on a silver platter to liberal Democrats.
If more people had voted for Chafee, we would have a Republican majority and an extension of the tax cuts. Stupid me.

Rhody
Rhody
13 years ago

Reading these arguments over ideological purity remind me of Ann Coulter, who, if anything, is even harder on Republicans who don’t guzzle her brand of Kool-Aid (Chafee, Bloomberg, etc.) than she is on Democrats.
Slightly off topic: Does Ann inhale when she goes to Grateful Dead shows?

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

I am a Republican. But this Republican Party has left me. We always sat back and daydreamed of a day when the Reps would have the power and we’d shrink government and make things work the ‘right’ way. But alas we got into power and instantly became the beasts we had just slain. Fiscal Conservatism is out the window. And Social Conservatism is quickly becoming an outdated and ‘wrong-headed’ view of the world that often violates the very ideas we hope to protect. How can we be for a small, non-intrusive government when we tell people that we won’t acknowledge their relationships because they don’t insert Tab A into Slot B like the rest of us do? And what does it matter to the fabric of society? Except creating a new excluded class. What’s the matter? We didn’t learn from the lessons of the Civil Rights movement? We aren’t tired enough of being tarred as ‘racist’ now we have to be ‘anti-gay’, too? Hell, let’s just take back the right to vote from the women while we’re at it! How can we be for a small, non-intrusive government when we tell people that smoking cigarettes (made by the companies that fund our campaigns, by the way) is a perfectly acceptable way to poison our bodies but pot, which grows everywhere is cheap and safe is ‘illegal’ and you can go to jail for it? How can we be for a small, non-intrusive government when we tell people that your every movement will be tracked via your credit cards, your cell phone GPS, your book purchases, what you check out of the library, and where you go on the internet? We’ve been for ‘BIG government’ all along. As long as it was OUR big government. And that’s not alright for me.… Read more »

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

There is more than a bright-line distinction, i.e., it is not always a question of “ideological purity.”
It is more often one of where one fits on a continuum.
For some of us, purity would denote, e.g., a Ronald Reagan, while the antithesis / opposite pole would be an Obama-like socialist.
In between are the more conservative Republicans (Fred Thompson) and the more liberal Republicans (Guiliani).
(I don’t think the Bloomberg even qualifies as a Republican, but more a poseur who adopted the label merely to avoid a Democrat primary).
Anyway, for each of us, somewhere along that continuum there is a demarcation line, and if a candidate is on the other side of that line – if if putatively of “our” party – they will be unacceptable.
Just as a “Zell Miller” would have been unacceptable for many Democrats, so to for many of us Republicans Guiliani / McCain / Romney are too far over our personal political demarcation line.
Which also begs the question, why is it that Democrats are not expected to embrace “moderate” candidates under their banner, but Republicans are????

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

Tom W.,
Well said. I would answer your question about Democrats accpeting moderates and suggest that in 2006, they did just that.
I don’t think guys like Webb from VA or Casey from PA would ever have received Democrat support 10 years ago.
But the Dems learned that they need people like Webb and Casey to get the majority. Unfortunately by electing people like Webb and Casey, the voters of VA and PA handed control of the legislative branch to Democrats with seniority—far left liberals like Ted Kennedy.
I also agree with Rhody. Many conservative are harder on moderate within the Republican Party than they are on true liberals.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

>>Well said. I would answer your question about Democrats accpeting moderates and suggest that in 2006, they did just that.
I was referring to “the top of the ticket” (President) and the commenters / media, who quite publicly tell conservative Republicans that they must accept a “moderate” in order to win, but never seem to publicly offer the same “recommendation” to Democrats.
They did do a tactical recruitment of “moderates” for Congressional races, particularly in the South.
Those Democrat “moderates” are going to be in for some interesting, uh, pressure, when key “party unity” votes will be demanded by the MoveOn-influenced leadership, votes that could be exploited by potential Republican challengers back home.

Anthony
Anthony
13 years ago

Tom W.,
My belief is that the “mainstream” media is liberal and they always promote the most liberal candidate. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy, just the cumulative effect of individual biases among reporters and journalists who never mentally left the ivory tower of journalism school.
Remember when the media said Howard Dean was going to run away with the Dem nomination? Remember when McCain was the media darling because he was to the left of Bush in 2000?
Now Obama is the hot candidate because he’s to the left of Hillary and they’ve dropped McCain because Giuliani is more liberal.
The Dems were smart to run moderates in southern and western states. For the first time in over 50 years, the party without a majority in the south controls the Congress. Legislative power has shifted to the northeast and the coasts. Good for Patrick Kennedy, bad for pedestrians walking around the Capitol building at night.
I hope you’re right that the liberal Dems start demanding loyalty from the newly elected and begin attacking their DINO’s. There was a rush among the newly elected Dems to join the Blue Dog Coalition. It was the left-wing’s pressure that led to many southern Democrats becoming Republicans in the 90’s.

smmtheory
smmtheory
13 years ago

He chooses Supreme Court nominees and opt to nominate someone like John Roberts or someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I do believe Guliani has said he would do something like that though, hasn’t he?

Every spending bill passes across his desk. So when a Democrat Congress passes legislation for taxpayer funded abortion, I’d rather not have a President who has contributed to Planned Parenthood at that desk.

But what did Guliani do with New York City taxpayer monies? Did he provide public funding for abortions, or was it just a personal private contribution?

The President also defines his or her party’s platform. While other elected officials may “stray” from the “party-line”, when a President “strays”, it’s the “party-line” that changes. And one of the reasons that I’m a Republican is because of that “party-line”.

So basically, you will sit out the election on the gamble that the Republican party line won’t change if it does not win the Presidency?
And are you also saying that not only is Guliani irredeemable, but you don’t feel up to the task of convincing him to be more pro-life?

SusanD
SusanD
13 years ago

” … but pot, which grows everywhere is cheap and safe is ‘illegal’ and you can go to jail for it?”
Funny you say that. This afternoon, someone told me the only reason cannibis is illegal is because in the 1930’s, alcohol distillers and distributors bribed Congress to make it so.
If that is the case (I’m too lazy to check), you can go right ahead and legalize it. From what I’ve seen, the immediate effect is less deleterious to the user and the public than that of alcohol. And the long term effect … well, that’s the problem of the user.

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

The problem, SusanD, is that if legalized, children / teenagers would inevitably get their hands on it.
This would lead to significant increases in childhood obesity (i.e., the munchies). Oh wait, we already have those increases from soft drinks, fast food and television fixation, don’t we?
Well, it would also lead to significant increases in childhood / teenage sexual activity, which in turn would lead to significant pregnancies and out-of wedlock births. This in turn would lead to chronic poverty.
Oh wait, we already have Hollywood / media promoted increases in childhood / teenage sexual activity, don’t we?
Oh, never mind! 😉

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Susan,
In 1894, the “Report of the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission” commissioned by the UK Secretary of State and the government of India, was instrumental in the decision not to criminalize the drug in those countries. The Report, which at over 500 pages remains one of the most complete collections of information on cannabis in existence, shows the stark contrast in the way that the American and British governments went about deciding whether to criminalize cannabis.
I suspect a quick review of the internet for that document and/or references to it may be enlightening to you. As for distillers getting it criminalized, I suspect it was probably one of a number of factors. I know it was readily available during prohibition and was what people turned to when they couldn’t drink.

Shoebob
Shoebob
13 years ago

So, to take Anthony’s comments to it’s logical conclusion, believing in Libertarian philosophies, such as smaller, less-intrusive government, has no place in the Republican Party? The Republican Party is simply a party of socially conservative advocates of an intrusive government that uses the power of government for socially conservative principles? The vote between Republican and Democratic candidates is now simply what kind of big government we will have?
Maybe I wasn’t too far off in my Fascist vs. Communist analogy.

Greg
Greg
13 years ago

Shoebob,
I used to think what you just said was absurd but this administration has shown time and time again that our liberties aren’t as precious to them as they are to us and this country is careening towards a totalitarian regime where we, the people, get together every four years and elect the President from the choices the corporations have paid for and offered up to us.
Really the choice comes down to being drowned and then shot or hanged and then burned.
Or, as Lewis Black has put it “Republicans SUCK and Democrats BLOW.”
Let’s not forget the Eminent Domain decision by the Supreme Court that says that we don’t even really own our property.

Rhody
Rhody
13 years ago

An aside on the “liberal mainstream media:”
College kids today who want to make a career in the media look for the money (who can blame them, really?), and find that conservative media, such as magazines, Web sites, think tanks, etc., which are well funded by the Richard Mellon Scaifes, deVos clans, evangelical instutitions, etc., pay much more than the weekly and small daily papers kids who want to go into journalism usually have to start out at (George Soros doesn’t pump his money into creating tomorrow’s opinion leaders in this fashion).
I wonder if conservative kids are willing to start at the bottom and work their way up having to get by on short money the first couple years or so, as many of today’s older mainstream media luminaries had to.
If I were in college today, my father would’ve been pushing me to turn red to reap the green. Interesting what-if to think about.

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