Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 29, 2009
By: Hilzoy

They Can't Help Themselves

Even by Republican standards, the Sotomayor meltdown is pretty impressive. Tom Tancredo calls La Raza, which is a pretty ordinary advocacy group, "a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses." Newt Gingrich writes that we cannot accept Sotomayor's rather anodyne remarks about experience being helpful in judging "if Civil War, suffrage, and Civil Rights are to mean anything", which would surely be news to all the African-Americans who are not presently enslaved.

Rush Limbaugh compares Sotomayor to David Duke. Michael Goldfarb and John Derbyshire's readers are going on about the vast privileges enjoyed by Puerto Ricans who grow up poor in the projects. The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes thinks her summa doesn't mean much, since "there's some schools and maybe Princeton's not one of them, where if you don't get Summa Cum Laude then or some kind of Cum Laude, you then, you're a D+ student." (For the record, when I was there, Princeton gave summas to around 5% of its students.)

But really, nothing quite compares to G. Gordon Liddy saying not just that she is a member of La Raza, "which means in illegal alien, "the race"", but this:

"Let's hope that the key conferences aren't when she's menstruating or something, or just before she's going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then."

Think of the possibilities. She could get into one of her quaint native costumes, go berserk, and start writing on the walls in menstrual blood with a tampon, like so:
Liddy's Nightmare

(Yes, of course I know that Quetzalcoatl is an Aztec God, and Aztlan is the mythical home of the Aztecs, and Aztecs are Mexican, and Sonia Sotomayor is Puerto Rican. But I'm channeling G. Gordon Liddy's nightmares here, and do you think he knows the difference?)

Seriously: Obama is a serious student of the civil rights movement, which in turn drew a lot of inspiration from Gandhi. Both Gandhi and the Civil Rights movement made brilliant use of the following method: you do something right, which you suspect might lead your opponents to do something wrong. If you are right about them, they discredit themselves, without your having to lift a finger. If you're wrong, you are pleasantly surprised. But you do not have to do anything wrong or underhanded yourself, nor do you in any way have to hope that your opponents are bad people.

That's what he's doing now. He has chosen a judge who is by any standard exceptionally qualified, and who has, in addition, a fairly conservative judicial temperament. She sticks close to the law; she follows precedent; having read several of her opinions, if I have any criticism of her, it's that not seen much evidence of an overarching judicial philosophy other than restraint. (To be clear: if a judge has to lack something, I'd rather it be an overarching philosophy than devotion to the law as written. But I'd rather have both.)

But she is also a Puerto Rican woman. If the Republican Party were led by sane and decent people, this would not matter. But they aren't. As a result, they seem to be unable to see anything about her besides her ethnicity and her gender. The idea that she must be a practitioner of identity politics, a person whose every success is due to preferential treatment, etc., is apparently one they absolutely cannot resist.

All Obama had to do was nominate an excellent justice, and all that is made plain.

And I hate it. I want to have a reasonable opposition party. I also don't want people of color, and especially kids, to have to listen to all this bigotry. We should be better than this.

Hilzoy 8:27 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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Comments

Obama himself has in essence apologized for Sotomayor's latina comments. I just wish this kind of scrutiny had been directed at Arnold before his campaign for governor.

Posted by: jen f on May 29, 2009 at 8:38 PM | PERMALINK

Folks:

This is nothing more than a cathartic release. The GOP base wanted desperately to play the Rev. Wright card during the election, but McCain said no, then when Obama made his "I don't look like the Presidents on the dollar bill remark" Schmidt went ballistic, saying Obama's playing the race card, Obama said "OK, I won't but you had better not," they didn't, at least the campaign didn't, so they had to act indirectly through the Ayers smear, or allow the more wingnutty elements to spread the "Whitey Tape" smear, but really they were itchin' to use the Obama hates white people angle all through the election.

Posted by: Shine on May 29, 2009 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

YouTube - Bully for bugs

Posted by: SW on May 29, 2009 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

A serious question for Hilzoy: did you cut and paste this post from a mobile device (or from "Word")? Call me a geek, but I am curious about the weird characters in your post -- it happens to me all the time on my web sites.

--------

If you've read my other posts you will know that I hate this fascination people have with what the Republicans have to say now that the Dems control both houses of Congress and the White House -- after all, who the hell cares about the Repugs?

But even I have to admit that the Republican meltdown is of epic proportions. I have never seen anything like it. Are there no adults left in the party? If I were a Republicans right now I would hide in shame -- but I am not a Republican so all I can say is that America needs a new opposition party. No democracy can survive with one party rule, where the opposition party is certifiably crazy, and the majority party is made up of cowards.

Posted by: Joesbrain on May 29, 2009 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

Throughout history mny peoples have suffered untold misery, murder,persecution and genocide at the hands of thier government. The Jews in Germany were not bad people, nor the poor farmers and serfs in Stalinist Russia or Mao's China. Pol Pot killed innocents. None of these victims were inherently evil humans and the world rightly condemned and often prosecuted their tormentors. But what if a nation IS infected by persons demonstrably evil and disturbed? What if those evil people did threaten that society, upsetting the civility and stability of the nation's structure? Would a pogrom be equally as wrong as those conducted in the past, or would it be an unfortunate necessity? What if you were dealing with millions of Bad Seeds? There aren't enough piers and lightning to rid us of them all. Republicans and conservatives in general might be the first class of citizens a nation has confonted that really were meant for the ovens. True evil might only be extinguished by 2000 degres of fire. Listen to Rush, Gingrich, Hannity, Coulter, Malkin, Liddy, et al. Tell me they don't represent evil.

Posted by: steve duncan on May 29, 2009 at 9:02 PM | PERMALINK

" I want to have a reasonable opposition party."

I want ten million dollars, and Scarlett Johansson as my girlfriend. Also, a pony.

Posted by: smartalek on May 29, 2009 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

I hate it. I want to have a reasonable opposition party.

Me too, but the GOP is more and more moving, and apparently deliberately so, away from that direction.

personally, I blame the runup to the Iraq war. The conservative establishment -- along with, it must be said, not a few so-called "liberal hawks" -- advocated so much bullshit in advancing a bogus case for war, the lines were clear: Facts have a liberal bias, and the Bushies attempt to create their own reality.

I also don't want people of color, and especially kids, to have to listen to all this bigotry.

Good point -- since i don't watch much TV, and The girls are primarily all about Disney Channel, I'd never thought of that.

We should be better than this.

What do you mean, "we"?

We are, but, with rare exceptions including your colleagues at ObWi, they aren't. This toxic discourse is the deliberate tool of the modern conservative movement and the Republican Party, aided and abetted by a so-called "liberal media" that allows them to repeat their noxious bullshit regardless of fact or logic.

We didn't go around accusing Terri Schaivo's husband of her attempted murder for exercising his right and duty as her next of kin. We didn't go around calling anyone not advocating the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign nation a traitor. We aren't calling people who want to continue our nation's 200-plus year policy of rejecting torture cowards and appeasers. We didn't impeach a sitting president over a blowjob -- after blowing millions of dollars in a witch hunt / fishing expedition that went nowhere.

Liberals may use colorful language and mockery, and I for one no longer have patience to suffer fools gladly, but the kind of discourse that Dave Nieuwert, Al Franken and others have been chronicling for going on a decade is the sole property and responsibility of the modern conservative movement.

We are better than this, which is why I refuse to associate myself with Rove, Limbaugh and the other jackasses in the Republican Party who use 1984 as a freakin' instruction manual.

Posted by: Gregory on May 29, 2009 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Why are there a bunch of euro symbols where apostrophes should be?

Posted by: steve s on May 29, 2009 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

fuck em. the train left the station.

Posted by: effluvientOne on May 29, 2009 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Yes the dextros are crazy, and Sotomayor may ironically not even be quite liberal enough: the ChoC (Chamber of Commerce, NTBCW "Chac", the Mayan rain god and counterpart of Aztec Tlaloc!) is OK with her. IAC the Repubs are pretty much down the drain with the hispanic vote, true?

I get a kick on this Aztec stuff, since I studied them in college and even learned some Nahuatl. I love those representations, like on the Codexes etc.

Posted by: Neil B ☺ on May 29, 2009 at 9:30 PM | PERMALINK

Hilzoy: Sometimes your posts are written using the UTF-8 character set. This is a far better scheme for encoding characters than the old Windows Latin-1 (iso-8859-1) system; unfortunately, however, the pages generated by The Washington Monthly tell the reader's web browser to expect the latter. This results in occasional errors in the text, usually not sufficient to affect legibility, but distracting. You should probably try to see if you can convert files to the Latin-1 encoding before saving and/or posting them.

With regards to Sotomayor, I'm surprised that Liddy overlooked the danger that, dressed in her native costume upon the judicial bench cum pagan altar, she would be inclined to fire blowgun darts dipped in her firey Latina menstrual blood at barristers who incurred her wrath, leaving them writhing on the floor crying "Oh! Oh! La ira es muy caliente, pero la sentencia muy picante!"

In actuality, the culture and ethnicity of the Portuguese is quite distinct from that of the Spanish, who are themselves rather unlike the Hispanic peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The confusion is rather remarkable.

Posted by: sleepy_commentator on May 29, 2009 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

A serious question for Hilzoy: did you cut and paste this post from a mobile device (or from "Word")? Call me a geek, but I am curious about the weird characters in your post -- it happens to me all the time on my web sites.

Hilzoy is posting in unicode, but the WM website enforces iso-8859 on its front page.

If you're in FF, you can change the encoding by View > Char Encoding, and then selecting unicode.

Posted by: Disputo on May 29, 2009 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Steve already posted my favorite headline of the day: "Romney won't rule out Sotomayor filibuster."

I guess in all the fuss and excitement of last year I missed the Mittster's election to the US Senate.

In actuality, the culture and ethnicity of the Portuguese is quite distinct from that of the Spanish, who are themselves rather unlike the Hispanic peoples of the Western Hemisphere. The confusion is rather remarkable.

Apparently, Dennis Miller did an impersonation of Sotomayor that channeled Carmen Miranda. Because Portuguese/Brazilian actress, Puerto Rican federal judge, who can tell them apart?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on May 29, 2009 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

"And I hate it. I want to have a reasonable opposition party. I also don't want people of color, and especially kids, to have to listen to all this bigotry. We should be better than this."

Not me. After 30 years, I can't get enough of watching the "movement" circle the drain at last.

Posted by: jprichva on May 29, 2009 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

The actual leaders of the Republican Party--the high-ranking elected ones--are not particularly decent, but they are sane, and the ones who run for office in states with large Hispanic populations are trying very hard to stop the runaway train being driven by the demagogues with no apparent loyalty to anything but their ratings.

But since they turned over the throttle to said demagogues, it's very hard not to relax and watch the train go over the cliff.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on May 29, 2009 at 9:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sad but true. The right is being nasty and stupid. As a political junkie (and white male) I'm mostly conscious of the stupid, and rather enjoying it, but for a lot of people what stands out is the nasty, and it's gotta hurt.

Posted by: al-Fubar on May 29, 2009 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

And I hate it.

Thanks for that; Me too. It's been a brutal week.

Posted by: m2 on May 29, 2009 at 9:45 PM | PERMALINK

And I hate it. I want to have a reasonable opposition party. I also don't want people of color, and especially kids, to have to listen to all this bigotry. We should be better than this.

I too hate all that. I also hate that insane attacks from the right have captivated everyone so much that there is little criticism of Sotomayor's nomination from the left.

Eg, can anyone explain to me her dissent in Hankins v. Lyght where Sotomayor sided with a church that was engaging in age discrimination?

Or why she found that teachers have no legal basis to challenge rules which require them to squeal on students who might be pregnant?

Posted by: Disputo on May 29, 2009 at 9:46 PM | PERMALINK

Um, not that I want to encourage this line of idiocy or anything, but has anyone yet pointed out that Sotomayor's in her mid-fifties, and is probably pretty much done with PMS, menstruation, and so forth? Do all Republicans trade in their wives for younger models and therefore escape all knowledge of menopause?

Posted by: latts on May 29, 2009 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Do all Republicans trade in their wives for younger models and therefore escape all knowledge of menopause?

LOL. That does explain a lot, doesn't it?

Posted by: Disputo on May 29, 2009 at 9:58 PM | PERMALINK

"Do all Republicans trade in their wives for younger models and therefore escape all knowledge of menopause?"

Yes. Those who aren't closeted. (See Outrage)

Posted by: Linkmeister on May 29, 2009 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Liddy was an antique in the 70s. Today he's a fossil. Some of the youngsters here might not quite get what he was saying, so I'll do the Neanderthal-to-English translation - he's saying that Sonia Sotomayor is not qualified to sit on the Supreme Court BECAUSE SHE'S A WOMAN.

Posted by: JoyceH on May 29, 2009 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

Aztlan? The mythological kingdom of the Caribbean?

What the hell does that have anything to do with anything. I think I'm lost.

Posted by: soullite on May 29, 2009 at 10:58 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry about the odd characters. I normally go through and strip out the ones I don't catch, but this time I was called away from my computer.

Posted by: hilzoy on May 29, 2009 at 10:59 PM | PERMALINK

The Republican mating ritual occurs when a drunken douchebag meets a gold digging whore. It is assumed that, much like the military, said gold differ will receive a sizable pension after a period of 20 years of service. Also just like the military, she will then promptly be replaced by a new, 18 year-old recruit.

Posted by: soullite on May 29, 2009 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK

oh, hai,
Quetzalcoatl goes back a lot further than the Mexica. (Aztec)
The Conquistadors' priests thought Q was St Tomas Aquinas cuz of a raft or something.
And the historical fiction I base this on is here:
http://www.amazon.com/Aztec-Gary-Jennings/dp/0812521463
Journeyer is good too. ps. I am not spam.

Posted by: m2 on May 29, 2009 at 11:04 PM | PERMALINK
I also don't want people of color, and especially kids, to have to listen to all this bigotry. We should be better than this.

None of us will have to listen to this for much longer. The more the Republicans keep at it, the more seats they lose in 2010. Eventually their sabotage of the public debate will go unheard for lack of sufficient numbers. Numerically they still have enough critical mass to pull strings with their old contacts in the media. That can't last forever.

Posted by: Big River Bandido on May 29, 2009 at 11:34 PM | PERMALINK

Yep, that's Quetzalcoatl as Lord of the Wind. He was a good guy. You could find a scarier deity. Mictlantecuhtli (Lord of the Land of the Dead), or maybe, since it's a scary woman, Coatlicue (Her Skirt of Rattlesnakes).

Posted by: jhill on May 29, 2009 at 11:35 PM | PERMALINK

((( "And I hate it. I want to have a reasonable opposition party. I also don't want people of color, and especially kids, to have to listen to all this bigotry." )))

And I love it. People of color NEED to hear this bigotry, so that they know there are bad people in the world who hate them because of their ethnicity... bad people known as "Republicans."

Posted by: buddhistMonkey on May 29, 2009 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

@hilzoy: on linux and OS X, the following shell command:

iconv -f UTF-8 -t LATIN1 --unicode-subst="&#%u;" the old filename > the new filename
...should take care of just about any character you could be reasonably expected to produce writing in a western language on a standard keyboard.

To use the command line on a Macintosh, open the application 'Terminal' in the 'Utilities' folder. If you select a file in the Finder (NOT the filename field), use the edit command 'copy', and return to the Terminal application, then 'paste' will write out the full pathname at the cursor position in the console.

What's happening is that it's converting everything it can from the UTF-8 format into ISO-8859-1 (aka Latin-1, Latin1, or L1) and replacing any given character that can't be converted with its UTF-8 code number (i.e. 8212) surrounded by HTML entity code markup (i.e. ⁚). Since these two numbers happen to be the same, and all modern (HTML 4 or later) browsers can handle UTF-8, there's usually a graceful substitution. If not, the character will simply be missing.

Posted by: sleepy_commentator on May 29, 2009 at 11:52 PM | PERMALINK

thanks for this, Hilzoy. Eminently sane. Obama's letting them hang themselves and they're absolutely begging for more rope!

Posted by: Susan on May 30, 2009 at 12:02 AM | PERMALINK

G. Gordon Liddy is about 10 layers lower the pond scum; and, his comments prove it.

Where is Joseph Welch or someone with his humanity when we need him? Or better yet, let's sick Miss Manners on the Republicans. Make them spend a month locked in a room with her explaining excruciatingly correct manners.

Posted by: Bonnie on May 30, 2009 at 12:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Yep, that's Quetzalcoatl as Lord of the Wind." From the Codex Borbonicus, to be even more pedantic. I recently read Inga Clendinnen's AZTECS: AN INTERPRETATION, and I have to say: even with human sacrifice, I'll take Aztecs over Republicans any day of the week.

There's certainly nothing wrong with wanting a responsible opposition party; but there is something so richly deserved about the ongoing Republican self-immolation that, hateful as much of their ravings are, I still love watching it. For years they've prospered with a mix of coded race-baiting, uncoded gay-baiting, slurs on everyone else's patriotism, and appeals to the rankest, stupidest forms of superstition. And now, thanks to several different causes--widespread disgust with the war, widespread disgust with religious-right God-bothering (e.g. the Schiavo affair), a long-term decline in racial and anti-gay prejudice, combined with a population becoming steadily more ethnically diverse, a recession blamed (correctly) on Republican-favored deregulation, and other things I'm sure I haven't thought of--none of their favorite poison is working terribly well any more. And so, frustrated, the most fanatical of them are spewing even more of it--and with much of the coded language stripped away--which will serve only to make them even more widely disliked. Yes it's coarse and repellant; but it features an almost Dantesque fitting of punishment to crime: the poisoner poisoning himself.

Posted by: Aaron Baker on May 30, 2009 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

"Let's hope Iran doesn't test a missile when Vice-President Palin is menstruating or something, or about to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then".

Scared you, didn't I?

G. Gordon Liddy is a nutcase, who probably believes the foam from Coca-Cola is a reliable contraceptive and masturbation makes hair grow on your palms, all the crazy shit we heard when we were kids. There ought to be a law against nuts like that walking around free. Maybe there is, if you look hard enough.

Posted by: Mark on May 30, 2009 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK

Derbyshire does raise a good point: what has happened to working-class white people? They seem to be utterly ignored when not actively scorned. And be honest, it's very, very difficult to think of any advantage that a working-class white person of Sotomayor's age is likely to have enjoyed, that Sotomayor did not (leaving outside the fact that Sotomayor is considered fully white in every country in the world except the United States.)

Posted by: Peter on May 30, 2009 at 12:35 AM | PERMALINK

Re: Liddy's adolescent remark, I've always admired Elayne Boosler's take on that sort of silly argument. Regarding the idea of a president with PMS, her advice was use it!

"Taking hostages on a day when I'm retaining water? This is going to go very badly for you."
Posted by: nothstine on May 30, 2009 at 12:46 AM | PERMALINK

I am really getting sick of the metaphor of judges, especially appellate judges, being compared to umpires calling balls and strikes, as though balls and strikes in baseball are called uniformly. Anyone who watches baseball knows that umpires have different strike zones. Some call them high, some call them low, some call them inside, some call them outside. A baseball fan knows that the important thing about an umpire is that the balls and strikes are called consistently and fairly, not arbitraily and not favoring one team or the other.

If one wants to use the umpire analogy, and it is not a good one, an appellate judge's job is more akin to calling a ball fair or foul when the foul line has been obscured.

It would be nice if this argument could grow up.

Posted by: John Sully on May 30, 2009 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

Haha! Thanks so much for that, Hilzoy! Así es! ¡¡Viva Atzlán, cabrones!!

Posted by: JR on May 30, 2009 at 1:05 AM | PERMALINK

A-bleeping-MEN, Hilzoy. Xenophobic and racist ranting has become a form of entertainment on the right, and the snarling heads are vying to see who can be the most offensive. (It will be hard to go lower than Liddy.) Trouble is, the puss-brains who listen to this stuff are getting the idea that bigotry is cool again, and the mainstream media don't have the courage to marginalize the rabble-rousers.

Also second the motion on a reasonable opposition. In time, the Democrats will govern as corruptly and/or ineptly as the Republicans did in power. Then what? Hand the country over to lunatics?

Remember Edwin Edwards' slogan when he was running against David Duke? "Vote for the crook. It's important." We could be looking at such choices before long. I'd like to have a viable alternative to the crook.

Posted by: allbetsareoff on May 30, 2009 at 1:46 AM | PERMALINK

From the start, the GOP pundits' attacks on Sotomayor have not made sense to me -- less sense than usual I should add. When this happens, I usually tell myself "It's not the obvious...look passed the obvious."

It thus occurs to me that Republican rejection of Sotomayor isn't about her. They know she will be confirmed. This is a play right out of Goebbels propaganda handbook. First and foremost it's about creating a culture of victimization for the Republican party to wallow in. We've already heard Rush tip his hand in this by saying the Republican Party is the new "Oppressed minority." Rush and Co. aren't out to convince anyone except their base that Sotomayor is racist. In this way, they can play the victim card.

What does this do? This then allows retaliation in 'kind'. This is how you get normally moral and ethical people to commit immoral and unethical acts. You convince people that they are victims, and thus it becomes justified in their mind to retaliate in a manner they see befitting the crime. As Rush and Co convince their followers that they are being oppressed, their followers can feel righteous in lashing out whether through hate speech or violence.

Posted by: JWK on May 30, 2009 at 3:36 AM | PERMALINK

“And be honest, it's very, very difficult to think of any advantage that a working-class white person of Sotomayor's age is likely to have enjoyed, that Sotomayor did not...”

Right, because Hispanic women are typically evaluated without prejudice by hiring managers as compared to white women.

Where do you people come from?

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on May 30, 2009 at 5:02 AM | PERMALINK

Isn't Tom Tancredo actually the KKK "without the hoods and nooses"?

Posted by: Alex on May 30, 2009 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

re: "As a result, they seem to be unable to see anything about her besides her ethnicity and her gender"
Why do you insist on trying to characterize the far-right republican positions in terms of rationality ? They hate anyone who isn't like them. It wouldn't matter who was selected, or what their race, or gender, or whatever. The far right doesn't believe in any kind of representative democracy, or any of its institutions, period.

Posted by: rbe1 on May 30, 2009 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

I like sarcastic Hilzoy. More sarcastic Hilzoy.

Posted by: hahahaha on May 30, 2009 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Hmm ... Slightly off topic, but does Princeton really award summas to 5% of its graduating class?

IIRC, my alma mater awarded either one or two in my graduating class of about 500. The requirement was a 3.95 GPA. (3.85 for magna cum laude, 3.5 for cum laude, which I *barely* made with my 3.50001 GPA.)

Does Princeton have lower standards for the summa? Or are the kids at Princeton just that brilliant academically? (Because I doubt that grade inflation would make the difference between my alma mater and Princeton.)

None of this is to knock Judge Sotomayor's achievements, of course. Anyway, I think it's a little silly to judge an adult who's been out of college more than a few years based on her college transcript.

Posted by: Brock on May 30, 2009 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

"Derbyshire does raise a good point: what has happened to working-class white people? They seem to be utterly ignored when not actively scorned."

Peter, you're absolutely right: President Obama and the Democrats are interested in national health care not for the advantages it might bring to working-class white people, but rather for all the benefits it will rain on the wealthy leisure class. The stimulus package was passed not to put white working-class people back to work fixing bridges and highways and the rest of our crumbling infrastructure, but as a handout for rich people to go yachting.

Posted by: bluestatedon on May 30, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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