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Obama Administration

The Final Four surrendered.

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The Sanders Coalition: More Rural and Blue Collar Than Expected

Obama Administration

Steve Kornacki writes that the Sanders coalition isn’t just the collection of liberal millennials every assumes it is.

Sanders bested Clinton across virtually all regional and demographic boundaries in the Granite State, crushing her overall by 22 points. But he fared best with economically downscale voters and won over a number of blue-collar cities and towns that had been Clinton redoubts in her 2008 campaign. In so doing, Sanders essentially flipped the ’08 script, in which Clinton’s main challenger, Barack Obama, relied disproportionately on higher-income voters and those with college degrees.

For instance, among voters making less than $50,000, Sanders defeated Clinton by 33 points. By contrast, Clinton won those same voters by 15 points over Obama in ’08. Sanders’ margin was only half as big – 17 points – with voters making more than $50,000, a group that Obama actually won by 5 points. Similarly, Sanders rolled up a 36-point spread among voters without college degrees, while winning college-educated voters by only 13 points. In ’08, though, it was Clinton who won voters without college degrees by 8 points, with Obama taking college graduates by 5 points.

There’s also the geography of Sanders’ win. While he claimed almost every city and town in the New Hampshire, he didn’t fare much better than Obama in many of the state’s more upscale liberal areas. In Hanover, home of Dartmouth College, Sanders ran just 281 votes ahead of Clinton, a margin of 6.5 points. Eight years ago, Obama won that same town by 32 points, a plurality of more than 1,500 votes. In the coastal city of Portsmouth, another liberal enclave, Sanders performed only modestly better (a 12-point win) than Obama (6 points).

But it was a very different story in the state’s older, post-industrial cities and towns, where Sanders improved by leaps and bounds over Obama’s ’08 performance. Take Berlin, a struggling mill city in the North Country, where Obama actually ran third, behind John Edwards. Clinton was so strong in Berlin in ’08 that her vote total actually exceeded that of Obama’s and Edwards’ combined. But this time, she lost the city by 13 points to Sanders. Rochester, another blue-collar mill town, was another Clinton stronghold in ’08, where she ran up a 976-vote plurality over Obama – a 16-point margin. Sanders, though, won Rochester Tuesday by 21 points.


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New Hampshire Says Hello, Bernie! And Bye Bye, Marco!

Obama Administration

I’m just catching up on the New Hampshire primary. I don’t know what percentage of the votes are in, but most news outlets are calling it Sanders 58, Clinton 40. Not close, in other words. This was expected. I’ll come back to Sanders and Clinton in a moment.

On the Republican side, Trump is way ahead with 34 percent of the votes. Second is Kasich, at 15 percent. Toast! and Ted Cruz are currently tied at 12 percent. Little Marco, who was the establishment hope a few days ago, got only 10 percent. And Chris “Big Chicken” Christie, whose bashing of Marco possibly cost him a nomination, got 8 percent. Poor little Marco.

Kasich could be a genuine threat in the general, and he’s a nasty little right-wing toad, but I’m not sure he’s let’s-eat-bugs-on-toast crazy enough to win in the South.

Sanders was indeed expected to win New Hampshire, so this win should not be a shock to anybody, but the Clinton campaign seems to be taking it hard.  The Editorial Board of the New York Times (which, I believe, has endorsed Clinton:

Eight years after she went over the line in attacking Barack Obama, Mrs. Clinton’s team, notably her husband and some prominent supporters, were making tone-deaf attacks on Mr. Sanders, who has proved a tougher opponent than they had expected but was the odds-on favorite in New Hampshire.

On Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton sent an email to her backers, thanking them, asking them for $1 and complaining that Mr. Sanders “went to the extraordinary measure of outspending us on the airwaves three-to-one here in New Hampshire.” Mrs. Clinton knew she was going to lose the first primary. But she has no reason to panic since she remains well ahead in the next few contests and has plenty to say about herself rather than allowing her campaign to attack Mr. Sanders and, especially, the motives of his supporters. …

… As the days ticked down to the New Hampshire vote, events resurrected bad memories of unsavory drama from Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 run. The Clinton campaign once hoped to hold Mr. Sanders to a single-digit win, but that looked impossible even before Tuesday morning, and rumors of a coming staff shake-up (candidates always blame the staff first for losses) struck a demoralizing blow to her team working long hours in New Hampshire.

At Mrs. Clinton’s get-out-the-vote rally on Monday night, Bill Clinton seemed to be second-guessing the campaign’s ground game. He joked, using a rather bizarre turn of phrase, that sometimes he wished he and Mrs. Clinton weren’t married, ostensibly so he could vent his spleen about her challenger even more than he has. On Tuesday, David Brock, the Clinton Svengali, said on CNN that because the senator from Vermont was from a neighboring state, he held some kind of automatic (read: don’t blame us) 15-point advantage, and made the dark prediction that “he’s going to be brought down to earth.”

Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign worked to tar Mr. Sanders with news that he’d attended vacation retreats sponsored by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee — which, like most such committees, accepts corporate contributions — and “was even once spotted chatting sociably for close to an hour with a financial services lobbyist who was in a hot tub while the senator sat nearby.” Pressing that story seemed pointless, and probably damaging to Mrs. Clinton.

Over the past few hours social media has gotten absolutely toxic with the screechings of Clintonistas about the evilness of Bernie Sanders and how his supporters hate women and a vote for Bernie Sanders is a vote against Planned Parenthood, or something.

They’ve gone completely off the wall, in other words. I expect tomorrow to hear that Sanders used to keep slaves and likes to bite the heads off puppies.

Another interesting bit from the New York Times:

Senator Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton among nearly every demographic group in the Democratic New Hampshire primary, according to exit polls.

He carried majorities of both men and women. He won among those with and without college degrees. He won among gun owners and non-gun owners. He beat Mrs. Clinton among previous primary voters and those participating for the first time. And he ran ahead among both moderates and liberals.

Even so, there were a few silver linings for Mrs. Clinton. While Mr. Sanders bested her among all age groups younger than 45, the two candidates polled evenly among voters aged 45 to 64. And Mrs. Clinton won the support of voters 65 and older. And, though Mrs. Clinton lost nearly every income group, she did carry voters in families earning over $200,000 per year.

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Who’s Got the Spin?

Obama Administration

Talk about lame spin. What I’ve seen from Clinton’s side is:

1. She’s the first woman to win the Iowa Caucuses! Yeah, and Ted Cruz was the first Latino to win the Iowa Caucuses. And Sanders would have been the first New York Jew to win the Iowa Caucuses. So? Somehow, this seems so … last century. If a rabbit had won for the first time, that would have been a story.

For the record, other than Clinton in 2008 I believe the only other woman to receive any votes at all in an Iowa Caucus was Shirley Chisolm, in 1972.

2. Yesterday a meme was circulating on social media — HRC’s photo with the words, “The people of Iowa gave her their trust.” The population of Iowa is 3.1 million. Of those, 171,109 participated in the Dem caucuses. We don’t know actual raw vote counts, but we know the votes must have been close to a tie. By my calculations, Clinton won the trust of roughly .0003 percent of the people of Iowa.

3. [Gloating] We Won. Suck it up, Berniebots. So endearing.

She’s a terrible campaigner. The woman has her strengths and virtues, but HRC to political campaigning is like Pat Boone to R&B.

Some of the Sanders supporters are not taking the near-loss well. Some of them seem to have expected Sanders would crush Clinton, even though pre-caucus polls mostly predicted she would win. There’s also a lot of grumbling that some precinct captains had their thumb on the scale for Clinton, so to speak, but frankly there is nothing to be gained by going there. The Iowa delegation will be nearly evenly divided between Sanders and Clinton delegates. Who “won” is not going to matter down the road.

The Sanders campaign reports that he received $3 million in donations in the 24 hours after the Caucuses. Now, there’s some good spinning for you. He is also refusing to concede defeat in Iowa (as close as it was, I don’t blame him) and he’s also pushing for more debates. Still, all the data suggest he’s going to be crushed in every primary after New Hampshire.

If Marco “baby cheeks” Rubio is the eventual GOP nominee IMO Clinton (presumably) will crush him. Next to her, he’s going to look like somebody who should be finishing up his homework before he can go to Little League practice. She’s also not going to hesitate in going after him for his hard Right positions on reproductive freedom. But it’s too early to count Trump out, I think.

Couple o’ things to read — Charles Pierce describes an interview of Hillary Clinton by Chris Matthews that sounds, well, horrible. When is Tweety going to retire already? Also, I don’t always agree with Matt Yglesias, but I think he nailed the problem with Democratic establishment here.



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The Money Campaign

Obama Administration

The New York Times has a fascinating graphic showing how much money each candidate has received and what percentage of it comes from PACs.  Going by donations directly to campaigns, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are running first and second, followed (at some distance) by Ben Carson. The Republican candidates aren’t getting anywhere close to the direct campaign money that the two Democratic front runners are getting.

PACs are something else. Toast! far and away has received the most PAC money, and from this he still has more cash on hand than any other candidate. Were it not for the fact that nobody likes him, he’d be in great shape for a general election campaign. All that money seems to be plunging down a very deep drain.

However, if we’re looking at cash on hand from the donations pool, Clinton and Sanders are both in much better shape than their nearest Republican rival, who would be Ted Cruz.

Two candidates still running have received no PAC money at all. They are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.  Also Hillary Clinton has had to spend considerably more than Sanders to stay ahead of him.

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Update On Oregon

Obama Administration

This is being reported on NBC:

The FBI and state police staked out a spot along the route to John Day to stop the caravan. At first, both vehicles complied with an order to pull over, but then the lead vehicle took off, the law enforcement official said.

It didn’t get very far, hitting a snow bank. Finicum, the official said, jumped out of that vehicle “brandishing a firearm.” He was shot and killed.

This account of things appears to be corroborated by a guy claiming to have been driving one of the two vehicles involved. A teenage girl who was with the Bundy crew claimed that Finicum had his hands up when he was shot, but she also said she was hiding on the floorboards of the truck when this happened.

See also Charles Pierce, in posts written before and after the arrests.

Also, too: Eyewitnesses knock down conspiracy theories about LaVoy Finicum dying on his knees

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The Crackup Continues

Obama Administration

Rick Klein has a pretty good analysis of what ails the GOP right now.

What’s left of the GOP establishment is so deeply divided that it can’t even decide which of its two frontrunners needs to be stopped more urgently. That says nothing of the party’s inability to settle on one or even two candidates to represent its traditional power bases, despite a deep talent pool helped by opposition to President Obama. …

…The conservative National Review has taken the unprecedented step of publishing an entire issue aimed at blocking the party’s leading candidate. Generations of prominent conservative journalists, tea party activists, and former administration officials are uniting to say that Donald Trump should not even be considered a true conservative.

Meanwhile, in the halls of Congress, Republican lawmakers are coming together to argue that one of their own, Sen. Ted Cruz, is the candidate who must be blocked. Their argument is that Cruz would not just lose but damage the party brand for years to come.

I didn’t read any of the National Review issue — life is way too short for that — but Amanda Marcotte did read it.

The editors can’t quite seem to decide what their exact objections to Trump are. Is it that he’s driving the right too far in the direction of fascism or that he’s a secret liberal in disguise? Both! Whatever you need to hear! The strategy is argument through overwhelming. They’ll throw everything they’ve got, even contradictory stuff, at the reader and hope the sheer volume of words impresses them enough to vote for Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush.

The everything-and-the-kitchen-sink strategy produces some hilarious contradictions. The main anti-Trump editorial, written by the editors, darkly warns that Trump isn’t the racist that his followers think he is. “Trump says he will put a big door in his beautiful wall, an implicit endorsement of the dismayingly conventional view that current levels of legal immigration are fine,” they write, even trying to get the reader to believe that Trump’s mass deportation plan is “poorly disguised amnesty”.

Of course they can’t come up with a coherent objection to Trump, because Trumpism is the inevitable extension of their own deranged politics.

Charles Pierce, on the National Review anti-Trump issue:

OK, I have decided that, for the next two hours, I am going to be a supporter of Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign. Why? Because the nation’s most conspicuously advertising-free longtime journal of white supremacy has gathered the finest minds in American conservatism to create the world’s biggest mudpie with their toes, that’s why.

I mean, look at this wingnut slide zone: Beck, Loesch, Podhoretz, Erickson, Bozell, a few of the now completely laughable reformicons, Butcher’s Bill Kristol. This is like the ’27 Yankees of bad ideas.

This crew is incapable of generating anything resembling a coherent ideology, but they are too self-oblivious to see it.

Andrew O’Hehir:

So when I read through National Review’s barrage of “Conservatives Against Trump” broadsides, a collection of mini-essays from miscellaneous haters with little else in common, I didn’t just notice the desperation, the flailing, the misplaced snobbery and self-righteousness, or the pervasive sense of abandonment and bewilderment. All of which were considerable: Trump was variously compared to Hitler, Mussolini and Barack Obama (I’m not sure who’s supposed to be worse); derided for his outer-borough accent and the vulgar design of his casinos; accused of being a phony conservative and a phony Christian (guilty as charged) and described both as a hateful racist and a stealth advocate of illegal immigration.

But when you get past the outrage, anger, betrayal and name-calling, you get to the unexpected but powerful nuggets of truth. To a significant degree, the National Review roster of right-wing philosopher-kings perceive that the jig is up, not just in terms of the 2016 nomination but in terms of the entire jury-rigged Frankenstein apparatus of the Republican Party.

The elites and insiders have lost control. Can they pull themselves together before the general election?

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All Wet

Obama Administration

It says something about the state of journalism today that the clearest explanation of what happened to Flint’s water was on the Daily Show.

Anyhoo — Flint is a good example of what happens when someone tries to run government “like a business.” We’re told Flint switched its water supply to save money, but the real cause of this disaster goes a bit deeper. The best explanation is in Fortune (of all places):

Five years ago, Snyder signed legislation that expanded the reasons why the state could choose to appoint a municipal emergency manager, then granted those appointees almost complete power over their assigned municipalities. Under Public Act 4, as it was called, state-appointed emergency managers could break collective bargaining agreements, fire elected officials and determine their salaries, and privatize or sell public assets.”We can’t stand by and watch schools fail, water shut off, or police protection disappear,” the governor said in a statement defending the emergency management law. “Without the emergency manager law, there is precious little that can be done to prevent those kinds of nightmare scenarios. But with it, we can take positive action on behalf of the people to quickly avert a crisis.”

Let that part sink in for a minute.

Emergency management is a way to short-circuit democracy when a city faces financial insolvency, with the idea that a leader free from accountability to voters can make unpopular but necessary decisions. But Michigan voters rejected that law in a state-wide referendum, as many unions and civil rights groups raised alarm that this new breed of emergency managers could break union contracts and usurp local governance. A month later, the state legislature passed a replacement law that made minor adjustments and one major one: an appropriation banning a referendum on the new law. That was 2012.

By 2013, six Michigan cities—and almost half of the state’s African-American population—were under emergency management. In many of these cities, public services were pared down to the minimum.

This is a very right-wing approach to dealing with poverty. The cities in question were failing because the employer void left by the auto industry was not filled, leaving cities like Flint without enough tax base to run the city with. But instead of addressing that problem, the state assumed these cities were failing because the locals weren’t able to govern themselves. They needed someone to get tough with them and instill a little fiscal discipline. It’s a bit like the way 19th century Europeans treated the simple brown natives in their colonies.

The emergency managers didn’t answer to the people; they answered to Rick Snyder. And they tried to run Flint like a business, meaning all they cared about was short-term profitability.

Without the checks and balances present in a democratically-elected government, the emergency manager was able to make unilateral decisions. “Having one person as the decision maker, the idea is that you can get things done quickly and efficiently, but most of these emergency managers are people like city managers and financial experts,” says Eric Scorsone, the founding director of the Michigan State University Extension Center for State and Local Government Policy. “They don’t have the expertise they need. They aren’t civil engineers, and they aren’t health experts. You need to have other voices in the room.” Scoresone said that emergency managers need to work with other state agencies to bring holistic change to the cities under their care—not just cost cutting. …

… In Snyder’s speech Tuesday night, he spoke of one other problem in Michigan besides Flint: Detroit’s Public Schools, where teacher shortages, dilapidated buildings and enormous deficits have led to teacher protests. Both problems in Southeastern Michigan spiraled out of control under state-appointed emergency managers. The Detroit Public Schools’ current emergency manager? Darnell Earley, the man who once ran Flint.

On top of that, the “company” (i.e., Michigan) tried to brush off the problem with aggressive PR.  Emails revealed that the guys in the top-floor offices were determined that there was no problem that a little messaging couldn’t handle.

 The city’s mayor at the time, Dayne Walling, encouraged leaders to “toast” the switch with a taste of the “regular, good, pure drinking” water, the governor’s emails show. …

… Within months of the switch, a General Motors engine plant in Flint found that the city’s water had corroded parts, and stopped using it. A hospital saw that the water was damaging its instruments, and stepped up its own filtering and use of bottled water, as did a local university.

Still, officials seemed slow to respond. In one memo for the governor from February 2015, officials played down the problems and spoke of “initial hiccups.”

“It’s not ‘nothing,’ “ the memo said, adding that the water was not an imminent “threat to public health.” It also suggested that Flint residents were concerned with aesthetics.

Yes, a city full of lead-poisoned children is so unaesthetic. See also Charles Blow.

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The Pause Before the Votes

Obama Administration

The caucuses and primaries begin in a couple of weeks, so shit’s about to get real. I haven’t been able to watch the debates, but I do read the reviews, and here are my thoughts at the moment regarding Sanders and Clinton.

Bernie Sanders has the stronger, clearer vision of where the country, and the Democratic Party, need to go next. He also seems to have the stronger grasp of the underlying issue of big money corroding democracy. However, there’s a compelling argument that Hillary Clinton is better at the nuts-and-bolts stuff and would be a more pragmatic choice in the short term. I’m not going to argue which candidate is more electable, because they both have strengths and vulnerabilities. We’ll see how they do in the primaries.

My biggest fear of a Hillary Clinton term in office is that it will be more of kicking the progressive can down the road, in hopes of some bright, shiny future when the progressive vision can be actualized. This leads to people getting turned off and giving up on participatory democracy, especially younger people. Sanders, I think, understands that nothing will change unless it’s forced to change.

My biggest fear of a Bernie Sanders term in office is that once he gets into the give-and-take of actually governing, which means making some compromises, the progressive Left will turn on him as rabidly as they did on Obama. In a weird kind of way this is an advantage for Clinton, whom progressives expect to sell us out. When she makes compromises it won’t cost her as much support.

I also question how much of his vision Sanders can accomplish without a progressive majority in Congress. I suspect we’re stuck with tweaks no matter which Dem is in the White House, as long as the Wingnut Right is still calling the shots. However, a Republican in the White House is unthinkable. I have to believe that won’t happen.

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Poor Babies

Obama Administration

It’s been a great week for U.S. diplomacy, and naturally Republicans are outraged. And they’ve had a bad week for outrage. Last week when Iran took custody of U.S. sailors that were more than a mile within Iran’s territorial waters, the GOP presidential contenders barely had time to vent on Twitter about our weak and feckless President before the sailors were released. Unharmed. With all their stuff.

Of course, in Rightie World the sailors were not detained for being somewhere they weren’t supposed to be; they were kidnapped. Jazz Shaw wrote at Hot Air:

It’s a great time to be Iran, it seems. You can launch ballistic missile tests, kidnap and imprison western journalists or take American sailors hostage with guns held to their heads and the President of the United States will… allow you to import civilian aircraft and export locally produced goods. The dust hadn’t even settled from the Secretary of State thanking Iran for the release of ten American sailors when the White House announced that some of the first sanctions on Tehran were being lifted. …

Iran hasn’t taken any western journalists hostage this week; I think they’re referring to the Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian, who was arrested on July 22, 2014, and also released this week.

… This bizarre and “nuanced” handling of sanctions – whether we’re talking about Iran, North Korea or anyone else – underscores the feckless nature of dancing with one’s enemies. So we have some sanctions which are specifically tied to their nuclear program, some associated with their ballistic missiles and others aimed at human rights abuses. (There apparently aren’t any for kidnapping American sailors.) As long as we’re dicing up the pie this way we can cancel some sanctions while leaving others in place?

I’ve been trying to grasp why that’s bad. And, of course, it’s not just “we.” This is a multinational deal.

FYI, earlier today, this happened:

The Obama administration announced Sunday that it was imposing new, more limited sanctions on some Iranian citizens and companies for violating United Nations resolutions against ballistic missile tests. The move came less than 24 hours after the White House lifted broader sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program.

The announcement, which was prepared several weeks ago but delayed by the Treasury Department, was made shortly after a Swiss plane carrying Americans freed by the Iranian authorities departed Tehran. The release of the Americans came a day after Iran and the United States concluded delicate negotiations on a prisoner exchange tied indirectly to the completion of a nuclear agreement.

The entire Right seems unable to grasp that military vessels or aircraft are not supposed to enter the territories of other nations without permission. It’s kind of a big no-no. I get the impression from this news article — somewhat reading between the lines — that the U.S. sailors just plain screwed the pooch.

 Fred Kaplan lambasted the GOP for excessive derp.

You might think the prisoner release would put the Republicans in an awkward position. They’ve been pushing Obama to get the Americans freed for months, and now, here they are, back home with their families. Donald Trump tried to resolve the cognitive dissonance by claiming personal credit for the release. “I’ve been hitting them hard, and I think I might’ve had something to do with it,” Trump said in a campaign stop on Saturday. (A minute later, though, he denounced the release anyway, saying it should have happened three or four years ago. How, he didn’t reveal.) …

…Sen. Marco Rubio wrote an op-ed for RedState, denouncing the whole complex of Iranian-American deals as “appeasement.” This is the stuff of rhetorical hot air. What territory or interests did the United States cede in any of these deals? Rubio, Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz, and others denounce the $150 billion that Obama is “giving” to Iran as part of the nuclear deal—not acknowledging, in some cases perhaps not knowing, that the money (more like $100 billion, minus $50 billion that will instantly go to pay off debts) is Iran’s own assets, which were frozen in response to Iran’s nuclear program. Now that the program is largely dismantled, as required the assets are unfrozen. That’s what the nuclear deal—negotiated by the United States, Iran, and five other powers (England, France, Russia, China, and Germany)—was all about.

For its part of the deal, Iran was required not merely to freeze its nuclear program but to substantially roll it back. Specifically, it had to dismantle two-thirds of its centrifuges and 98 percent of its enriched uranium, to fill its Arak plutonium reactor with concrete, and, for verification, to allow international inspectors unprecedented access to its facilities. The big news this weekend, in this regard, is that the International Atomic Energy Agency—which monitors compliance with the deal—announced that, at this stage of the deal, Iran has fulfilled its end of the bargain, ahead of schedule.

That’s what triggered the lifting of economic sanctions. (Rubio wrote that the release “rewards bad behavior,” but in fact it rewards good behavior.)

Back to Jazz Shaw:

But it hasn’t even been a week since they had guns to the heads of our sailors and took possession of two of our naval vessels. We’re seriously turning around and rewarding them with rich new economic activities and billions of dollars in relief? The broad lifting of these sanctions not only makes us look weak, but has a wide ranging effect on the rest of the world. One aspect of this phenomenon was already seen this week as oil prices tanked further on the prospect of additional Iranian crude flooding the market.

Oh noes! The price of oil will go down more! Big Oil might have to stop deep-oil drilling and fracking and whatnot. I feel so bad.

Yes, it’s a great day indeed… to be an Iranian. Should we really expect any of our allies to put their faith in us today?

Ask England, France, Russia, China, and Germany how much faith they would have in us if we had broken the deal.

Seriously, righties live on another planet.

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