Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Obama Picks Warren for Invocation

War with Iran? Great idea. Gotta stamp out evil.

Proposition Eight?
Count me in (and count gays out!) Praise Jesus!

Only Christians go to heaven?
You betcha! And only certain kinds of Christians at that!

Obama is making one dubious choice after another. His latest? Selecting fundamentalist celebrity Rick Warren to invoke his homophobic, war-mongering, narrow-minded god at the inauguration.

Don't be fooled by his aw shucks demeanor. Rick Warren is James Dobson with a Howdy Doody grin. He is trying to be America's pastor.

But you know what? America doesn't need a pastor. The president is president of all Americans regardless of religious belief including none. The president is also president of all people including sexual and gender minorities.

According to tradition, you have to pick some kind of religious figure to pretend to invoke some deity. There are plenty of invokers of deities that are not as problematic as Warren.


What does it mean to have Warren, who was outspoken in favor of Proposition 8, give a prayer at the inauguration? It means that Obama is insensitive or is pandering or he has made a huge miscalculation and has taken his base of support for granted.

My hope is this symbolic gesture is the closest Warren will get to the president. My fear is that this could signal that Obama (when it comes down to it) will not support equal rights for sexual and gender minorities.

Bad taste, Mr. President-Elect. I like you, but excuse me if I don't in join the hoopla for your big party.

Pam's House Blend
offers a way to vent.

Here's Howdy Doody regarding Prop 8:


43 comments:

  1. Hit that Transition Team website and give Obama some feedback, people! Don't sit and bitch amongst yourselves. We've had enough of that.

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  2. I thought Rick would be too busy converting the entire country of Rwanda into the first completely Purpose Driven(tm) Country to be bothered with the likes of Washington....

    Wait! Maybe this is the plan! The Purpose Driven Government(tm)!

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  3. Snad calls it.

    Barack Obama is not our king. He's the guy we hired to bring a progressive tide to American politics. Go to http://change.gov and let him have it.
    He will listen or he's a liar.
    Do it! Go! Now!!

    He's made some good and bad decisions in transition, but this decision, coupled with the backing of Lieberman is FAIL. Pure Fail.

    I knew Obama was a Centrist when I voted for him so this doesn't surprise me as much as it appalls me.
    There is no plausible reason to pander to the fringe Right.


    They'll probably tell us we should be happy it's not Pat Robertson.

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  4. This is from Pam's House Blend:

    Have complaints to share? Email Parag Mehta is Obama's LGBT liaison on the transition team -
    parag.mehta@ptt.gov. Feel free to share your missive to the team in the comments.

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  5. Not sure if this will have any effect ever, but it's a good idea. Interesting thoughts on this move of political expediency...

    http://whitehouse2.org/priorities/1178-do-not-let-rick-warren-give-the-inauguration-invocation

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  6. Brian McLaren would have been a much better choice...

    But keep your powder dry. Just watch and learn. Obama is not your average politician. Not by a million miles.

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  7. I could not agree more. Warren represents everything I hate about organized religion.

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  8. I'm very surprised that people are surprised by this.

    Obama ran a smart campaign and has been running a smart transition. Do people not think that he ran the political calculus and made this decision fully knowing it would piss off some on the left? Sorry, folks, but all the available evidence shows him to be far more clever than that.

    Obama is not in favor of gay marriage. He refused to say anything about Prop 8. He makes noises about DADT, but I'll believe it when I see it. Just saying the words "gay" or "lesbian" doesn't make someone an ally. That's just a simple calculation about political expediency.

    I'm not sure which campaign you folks were watching, but the one I saw didn't demonstrate that Obama is going to be anything but a status-quo president on LGBT issues. If we're lucky he won't be as bad as Clinton (DADT, DOMA) and will simply keep out of it, rather than signing crap like that into law.

    That's why, though I voted for Obama, I didn't do so on LGBT issues. There was, to those who were paying attention and not merely wishing, only a hairs-breadth of difference between him and McCain on LGBT issues.

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  9. I'm not surprised, either, Alan. But that doesn't mean I'm liking it, and it doesn't mean we have to shut up about it.

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  10. Oh I agree. Write emails and postcards. I just think that such a response was already factored into the calculation.

    In fact, it may have not only been expected, but hoped for.

    If I were going to throw an otherwise meaningless bone to right-of-center Christians to extend a little good will at the beginning of my administration (since many of them voted for Obama), I might do something just like this. The more the left complains, the more independent of "special interests" Obama looks. Plus it doesn't hurt that the far right fundies also hate Warren as much or more than the left, and it could help foster the split between the far right wackjobs and moderate Republicans. And I'd get all that upside, while doing something that has absolutely no impact whatsoever on policy or anything else that actually matters.

    I probably would have gone for the now ousted head of the NAE, but Warren is probably a decent substitute.

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  11. I might point out that much of Obama's electoral coalition in California also voted for Prop 8. While Obama received 95% of the black vote, African-Americans also voted 70% for Prop 8. I believe Latinos also supported Prop 8 by a larger margin than the overall margin.

    Ironically, if only whites had voted, Prop 8 would have lost.

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  12. My comment was based on the CNN exit poll, FWIW:

    http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2008/results/polls/#CAI01p1

    Although I was not really correct about the Latino vote: it closely tracked the overall result.

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  13. "If I were going to throw an otherwise meaningless bone to right-of-center Christians to extend a little good will at the beginning of my administration (since many of them voted for Obama), I might do something just like this."


    If one was just another gutless Centrist with his lips superglued to Right-Wing ass one might do the same thing too.

    The Taliban are not significant enough to pander to. That was proven in the last election.
    This is pure betrayal and cowardice on Obama's part.

    When you "throw a bone" to vermin like Warren, you aim for the face.

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  14. John
    this conversation especially the last one by Captain Kona is over the edge. Since when does one call another Christian vermin and suggest violence toward them. Captain Kona sounds toward evangelicals like Fred Phelps towards gays.

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  15. Giving the inaugural prayer has to be the least important and most unnecessary appointment by the President-elect. So, of course, it should be the most controversial.

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  16. "If one was just another gutless Centrist with his lips superglued to Right-Wing ass one might do the same thing too."

    Why thank you, sweetie. Anything else you'd like to throw my way? ;)

    This is why liberals loose. They don't understand that politics is not about ideology, it's about pragmatism, and it always has been. Fact is, a decent share of people who like Warren voted for Obama, and you've gotta dance with the one who brung ya. If this is the most he gives them, then I'll gladly pay for Warren's plane tix to and from the event!

    Where are the Rick Warrens in the actual cabinet. You know, those would be the actual appointments that matter? Oh right, there are none. Thanks for noticing. In fact, there are rumors that he may appoint LGBT people to a cabinet level position, and I've even hear some rumor about a gay man as Secretary of the Navy.

    Other options for this 3 minute non-issue? Bishop Robertson? Rev Mel White? No thanks. With all due respect to those great men, I'd prefer we weren't used as a token.

    When he proves that he's going to actually do something for us, then I'll be happy. Until then this is a stupid argument about a stupid appointment, for a stupid position that will last 3 minutes tops. Less if it's cold out. But by all means, let's continue to tarnish the importance of the day with this grade-school crap.

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  17. See, Alan. Like most Centrist types, you don't understand principal.
    "Pragmatism" is just an excuse for lacking the courage to take a principled stand.

    And Obama's appointments such as Hillary and her Blackwater child murder money, Salazar and his Bush appeasement and retaining the Neocon Gates are no different than appointing Warren, Pat Robertson, or Satan himself.

    This is a "three min. non-issue" to those who either don't care about, or approve of, lack of principal.

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  18. "Captain Kona sounds toward evangelicals like Fred Phelps towards gays."

    Difference is, Evanganoids deserve it and Gays don't.

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  19. "See, Alan. Like most Centrist types, you don't understand principal."

    I'm glad, Cap'n that, based on a couple blog comments you're able to make such a determination about me. Zero to belligerent in 20 seconds. LOL Well, done sir, well done!

    Sorry, this just isn't important enough to care about, so if you're looking for an argument you'll have to find someone else to argue with. I'm frankly far more interested to hear about Obama's choices about Oval Office drapes. I think that probably matters more, in the long run. ;)

    The Satan reference, though. That's good. Skipped right over the Hitler reference and went right for it. See, lots of blog commenters would have started with something simple, a Rove reference perhaps. Then maybe escalated to a Cheney reference, before going for the Hitler reference. Not you, man. None of that screwin' around for you, you go right for the Satan reference! That's the mark of a pro. Sweet.

    xxxooo

    (PS: When I said I'm not interested in arguing with you, I didn't mean that I'm not more than happy to make fun of you. Though only once because I have a sneaking suspicion it's about to get too easy.)



    Oh and BTW, HITLER!

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  20. A lesson to be learned from all of this is that no politician can ever be trusted with anything.

    That is a good thing to know. Obama will not end the war. He will not bring equal rights/rites. He will not do anything about other social causes.

    If any of these things are to be done, they will be done by people who are passionate enough and organized enough to do something.

    I think it is just fine to be angry about Rick Warren's appointment, if that is how you feel.

    I don't think it is a meaningless three minutes. Then again, it isn't the apocalypse either.

    It can be an opportunity to express one's opinion and keep Obama's feet to the fire.

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  21. "If any of these things are to be done, they will be done by people who are passionate enough and organized enough to do something."

    Ab-so-frakin-lutely, John. (If you'll pardon my Caprican.)

    And that was, I think, the actually inspirational message of the campaign. As Obama said in his acceptance speech, "This is your victory. I know you didn't do this just to win an election and I know you didn't do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. "

    I've never believed that Obama would be anything but another politician, but one who is able to mobilize people to become involved again. What I did believe however, is that those bazillions of people gathered to listen to him in Chicago might have been energized to actually make some change from the ground up.

    I think some people never got that and somehow thought that a President can do it all himself, but I hope they'll wake up to it soon. Otherwise this truly will just be Clinton Part Deux, and who cares about that?

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  22. "It can be an opportunity to express one's opinion and keep Obama's feet to the fire."


    And that it will be, John. Though at this point I'd rather see the other end of him held to the fire.

    Now I know what Jesse Jackson meant.

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  23. This is a good opportunity to promote a Christmas present. In response to Warren's 40 days of purpose drivel, scholar Robert Price wrote Reason Driven Life.

    Here is a portion of a review of Price's book:

    Rick Warren is one of the most popular and well-known evangelical ministers in America today. His relaxed style and delivery has ensured him a positive reputation even beyond the traditional confines of even evangelical megachurches. The problem is, his relaxed style is matched by a relaxed, even lazy theology. Even worse, his style distracts people from his hard-line fundamentalist, inerrantist religion that is antithetical to everything America stands for.

    In this book, he exposes the faulty logic of fundamentalism, chapter by chapter and offers a way to live that honors clear thinking and compassion.

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  24. John wrote A lesson to be learned from all of this is that no politician can ever be trusted with anything.

    Well, that's an understatement. But how does that mix with this:
    But you know what? America doesn't need a pastor. The president is president of all Americans regardless of religious belief including none.

    So no politician can ever be trusted, but we need one to lead us...?

    Perhaps the truth is that one sinner invited another sinner to invoke the name of the one Holy and true God at his imperfect inauguration. So what's new about that?

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  25. I'm still laughing from Presbyman trying the tired old "get The Gays™ mad at The Blacks™" ploy based on the botched CNN data.

    Didya know that the NAACP fought against Prop 8?

    Probably not. Probably still trying to foment tension between two monolithic minority groups (with no members that fall into both categories, of course).

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  26. Perhaps the truth is that one sinner invited another sinner to invoke the name of the one Holy and true God at his imperfect inauguration.

    Fine. Let's get Jeremiah Wright instead. I'm sure you'd have NOTHING to say about that.

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  27. "I'm still laughing from Presbyman trying the tired old "get The Gays™ mad at The Blacks™" ploy based on the botched CNN data."

    Heh. I saw that too, and I had to check the calendar. Wait, this is December, right? Because that lame analysis got hammered pretty well by about November 8th, I think.

    Instead of getting your stats from CNN, I'd suggest getting them from people who don't need to use their fingers and toes to count, Presbyman. :)

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  28. I am fascinated and envious how you get those little tm things to work. Let me try...

    testTM

    ...nope.

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  29. Full disclosure: I just copy and pasted them. Fly is the real TM genius; I am only a poseur. :)

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  30. OK, people don't like CNN's statistics, where are the better statistics, and why are they better? You know, present some evidence.

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  31. BTW, in actual votes (as opposed to an exit poll), Los Angeles County, which was only 29% for McCain, was 50% for Prop 8. That's an enormous gap in a California's largest county that also has a large non-white vote. So where did all of those pro-Obama and yet pro-Prop 8 votes come from?

    Like it or not, a lot of Obama's voters are conservative at least on this issue. You can laugh and sneer all you want ... but that doesn't change the fact of how the vote piled up.

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  32. Come off it Presbyman,

    The vote for Prop 8 broke down along educational lines, not religious or racial or political party.

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  33. "Jodie" wrote:

    The vote for Prop 8 broke down along educational lines, not religious or racial or political party.

    Actually, it broke down along all of those lines. So yes, educational level played a role, but so did the other factors, including, pretty significantly, race.

    Now, if you or anyone else here actually has evidence to support your assertions, I'd be glad to see it. But so far all I see is some folks putting their hands over their ears and saying "No! No! No! No! No!"

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  34. "OK, people don't like CNN's statistics, where are the better statistics, and why are they better? You know, present some evidence."

    Ah, a very reasonable response, and a good point, I should have provided a better analysis, rather than just complaining about the craptacular statistical "analysis" from CNN.

    I suggest reading the analysis at fivethirtyeight.com

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2008/11/prop-8-myths.html

    "Like it or not, a lot of Obama's voters are conservative at least on this issue."

    As Nate Silver points out, actually "Obama's voters", many of whom are new voters, voted against Prop Hate.

    BTW, if I can be a bit of an jerk for a minute and give a quick elementary lesson in statistics (which seems desperately needed here) it is not the case that, simply because more of Group A voted for Prop 8 than Group B, that whatever factor (eg. race) by which Group A differs from Group B is actually what determined the vote.

    There are several statistical techniques by which one can determine the statistical significance of differences between voting groups, and simply a larger proportion of Group A voting for something vs. Group B, does not mean that factor is actually a *predictor.*

    What that means is that this:

    "Actually, it broke down along all of those lines. So yes, educational level played a role, but so did the other factors, including, pretty significantly, race. "

    is not necessarily true, because even if minorities voted more for Prop 8 than white voters, they are still *minorities*.

    One can, in fact, statistically account for which factors most accounted for the winning of Prop 8, by mathematically controlling for each factor in turn. Let's consider 3 of them, race, education, and age. So the question is, "Did prop 8 win because minorities voted for it?" can be easily answered via statistics. Put another way, is race the most statistically significant predictor for voting for Prop 8?

    Controlling for background demographics, it is not true that race was the factor that contributed significantly to the passage of Prop 8. And actually it wasn't educational level either.

    It was age.

    Older people, regardless of educational level, and regardless of race were significantly more likely to vote for Prop 8 than younger voters, regardless of educational level or race.

    To paraphrase Max Plank, "Change in societies happens one funeral at a time."

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  35. Alan,

    Thanks for providing some actual information to back up your statements. But the article you linked to does not actually contradict CNN's data. In fact, it relies on CNN's data regarding new voters! It's hard to point to an article as refuting CNN's exit poll when it relies on CNN's exit poll. The article does not challenge CNN's finding (or claim if you prefer) that 70% of African-American voters supported Prop 8. I have not yet seen any survey that indicates otherwise.

    The article does point out that newer voters, who overwhelmingly supported Obama, also voted decisively against Prop 8. But even here, there was about a 20% gap between the "No on 8" vote and the Obama vote.

    Again, the conclusion seems inescapable that many of Obama's voters also supported Prop 8, especially black voters as a whole. Now, MORE of his voters may have opposed 8, certainly ... but obviously a significant number supported it. Statewide, didn't Obama receive 61 or 62% of the vote? But the No vote on 8 was just 48%.

    I don't discount the importance of age, either ... nor do I discount a lot of factors, such as political party membership, ideology, religion and education. But it is still basically unchallenged by anyone else writing here that race did in fact play a significant role in the passage of prop 8.

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  36. John,

    You wrote, "The article does not challenge CNN's finding (or claim if you prefer) that 70% of African-American voters supported Prop 8. I have not yet seen any survey that indicates otherwise. "

    It doesn't have to. That "statistic" is meaningless if it isn't actually *predictor*. You keep waving that 70% number around like you think it actually means something. It does not mean what you think it means, I'm afraid. So why keep repeating it, when I have already told you that? What, I wonder, is the point of repeating incorrect information that I have already demonstrated to be faulty? It isn't just you either, but plenty of folks who should know better keep repeating this line about race. I simply do not understand the motivation behind it, when the data simply does not back up the correlation. Unless it isn't the data that people are interested in, but something else? Something race-related? I don't know and I don't want to speculate, but it's hard for me, as someone who forms opinions based on actual evidence to understand why people would continue to support a notion that has no basis in reality. Help me out here, can you, and explain this to me?

    "But it is still basically unchallenged by anyone else writing here that race did in fact play a significant role in the passage of prop 8."

    I have challenged it and provided evidence.

    Your assumption is that black people are a monolithic group. To assume that blacks in San Francisco vote exactly like blacks in Orange County is a dubious assumption at best.

    Perhaps you simply didn't understand my previous comment. Let's consider Orange County for a moment, which voted for Prop 8, and San Francisco, which did not. Do you think that was based only on race? Or could there be other factors that explain the differences in those areas? In fact, blacks in Orange County voted more like whites in Orange County than they did blacks in San Francisco. That tells you that race had little to do with it.

    Low income blacks were as likely as low income whites to vote for Prop 8. High income blacks were as likely as high income whites to vote against it. Again, that tells you that race had little to do with it.

    Blacks over 65 were as likely as whites over 65 to vote for Prop 8. Why? Because race had nothing to do with it.

    The proportion of the voters of the total voting public who voted for Prop 8 who were over 65 was much higher than the proportion of voters of the total voting public who were black who voted for Prop 8. Do the math John. 60% of voters (regardless of race) with kids under 18 voted for it. The proportion of black voters in CA is 7%. What is higher John, 7 or 60?

    Voters 35 and over voted for the ban. They make up 82% of the voting public (regardless of race) Black voters make up 7% of the CA population. Which is higher, 82% or 7%?

    But hey, if you think 70% of 7% of the population is a more statistically significant shared characteristic and is a better predictor than age, then prove it, John. You're asking for evidence, so then it is only fair that you provide it yourself. Show me the p values for your multivariate analysis calculations for race, age, and education. Prove to me that the p values you arrive at are statistically significant. It would also be great if you could describe why your statistical model arrives at a significant difference based on race, when no one else's does.

    I hate to smack you down like this, John, but frankly, as a guy who takes evidence seriously, it does get exasperating when people think they know something and they clearly do not, they get told they're wrong, they're given evidence, and yet they cling to the same incorrect information.

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  37. Alan,

    You are moving the goal posts. You first said that the CNN exit poll was nonsense, and directed me to an article that was supposed to show better evidence that contradicted the CNN surveys. The article did not do so. Now you say, "never mind," because it doesn't really matter if 70% of 7% voted a certain way (actually, I think the black vote was 10%, at least according to CNN, which I know you dislike but still have not shown to be incorrect.)

    You also provide no evidence for your assertions that:

    Low income blacks were as likely as low income whites to vote for Prop 8. High income blacks were as likely as high income whites to vote against it. Again, that tells you that race had little to do with it.

    Blacks over 65 were as likely as whites over 65 to vote for Prop 8. Why? Because race had nothing to do with it.


    I've said it before and I've said it again ... race was not the only factor in how the voting broke down (and I never did claim it was the only one). And this accusation that I think of blacks as a "monolithic" group is getting tired. Sure, black voters in San Fran may have voted differently than black voters in Orange County. And for that matter so did white voters. But did the racial groups in either community vote the same way? Do you have evidence that they did?

    All of your chest pounding about being a statistical expert really cannot contradict plain evidence and consistency of argument, neither of which you have provided at all.

    But keep believing what you want to. I'm done here.

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  38. BTW, one would think that an expert in statistics such as yourself might be able to read numbers ... 10% is not 7%. ;-)

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  39. Well, yet again I'm mystified by those who want to believe what they want to believe regardless of the evidence.

    But what mystifies me more is that someone, who I would guess doesn't really have an iron in the fire decides that the fictional tale about race and homosexuality is an important one to continue to tell. Very odd indeed.

    I provide evidence as asked, and discussion is cut off when the interrogator realizes that he cannot do the same. As before, I'm more than happy to debate your statistical model when you provide one. I won't hold my breath.

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  40. For a more reasoned analysis of the data, with more reliable figures than perennially unreliable exit polling:

    http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/issues/egan_sherrill_prop8_1_6_09.pdf

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