Category Archives: Election ’12

Ron Paul Campaign Alleges Media Bias in Politico Article Headline

I saw this on my Facebook news feed from the Ron Paul FB page yesterday:

Now that I have had a chance to follow the link today, the Politico article headline now reads “Michele Bachmann wins Ames Straw Poll.”

It seems to me that Ron Paul’s supporters called them on it and Politico had the headline changed.

The Paul campaign does raise a great point here. I can’t remember the last time I’ve ever seen a headline reporting on any contest that listed 1st and 3rd place while leaving out who came in 2nd. Then when you consider that 2nd place is a statistical tie (Bachmann beat Paul by only 152 votes) while Tim Pawlenty had 2,530 fewer votes than Bachmann, one has to wonder why the headline writer would write such a headline if s/he didn’t have some sort of anti-Paul (or pro-TPaw) bias.

Personally, I believe the bias is more than anti-Paul but anti-libertarian (or anti-anyone who doesn’t tow the big government Republican Party line). Ron Paul would be ignored the way Gary Johnson is if Paul didn’t have such a strong following or wasn’t competitive with establishment candidates (though I wouldn’t really call Bachmann an establishment candidate either). Even as Paul has as an impressive showing as he did in Iowa, there are still those in the MSM who treat him as though he is a 1%er who doesn’t merit any serious attention. It wasn’t that long ago that talk radio host/blogger Hugh Hewitt wanted the RNC to take over the debates and “exile” Ron Paul (along with Herman Cain and Gary Johnson) from the debates.

But in the end, the results are what they are. If the Iowa straw poll is any indication, Ron Paul is a force to be reckoned with in this primary battle. Tim Pawlenty wasn’t as encouraged by his 3rd place finish in the straw poll as perhaps the Politico headline writer was. In fact, Pawlenty was so disappointed in the results that today he dropped out of the race. Gary Johnson says Pawlenty “should be applauded for a great effort” and respects Pawlenty’s decision but also said “it’s too early to be picking winners and losers” indicating that he won’t be wrapping up his campaign anytime soon.

I tend to agree. It is still very early. Tim Pawlenty made his exit just a day after Rick Perry announced that he too is getting into the race. And who knows what Sarah Palin will do?

My frustration is that it seems that the media is trying to decide which candidates are worthy of being covered and which are not. Leaving Ron Paul out of a headline he logically should have been in or ignoring Gary Johnson almost entirely is but a couple of examples. Newt Gingrich had a very valid point in the Iowa debate when he said that the campaign coverage should have more to do with ideas than on the horse race aspect. I really couldn’t care less about the inside baseball B.S. concerning which campaign is losing staff members or who gives the best stump speech. What I want to know is how candidate x plans to govern as president or explain why s/he would be better for our liberty and our economy than the current president.

************

Just as I was about the click on the publish button for the above post, I saw this video that I thought was very interesting and seems to confirm my suspicions about the media.

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Ron Paul’s First 2012 Political Ad Warns Republicans to Avoid Repeating the Mistake of Trusting Democrats on Taxes and Spending

Can the Republicans trust Democrats and compromise by raising taxes in exchange for spending cuts in this debt ceiling debate? Ron Paul says “no” in his first 2012 political ad.

Why not trust Democrats? Ask former President George H.W. Bush what happened to him when he broke his infamous “Read my lips” promise that he wouldn’t raise taxes.

Hopefully, Republican’s will listen to Dr. No for a change, if only on this critical issue.

The Family Leader’s Pledge Provides Litmus Test for Social Conservatives AND Libertarian Leaning Republican Primary Voters

Just last week, a “pro-family” group that calls itself “The Family Leader” laid out a 14 point “Marriage Vow” pledge for G.O.P. presidential primary candidates to sign as a condition of being considered for an endorsement from the organization. Among the more troubling points of this pledge, at least for those of us who care about limited government and individual liberty: vow support for the Defense of Marriage Act and oppose any redefinition of marriage, “steadfast embrace” of a Marriage Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would “protect” the definition of marriage in all states as “one man and one woman” and “Humane protection of women” from “all forms” of pornography. Another point of the pledge reads “Rejection of Sharia Islam and all other anti-woman, anti-human rights forms of totalitarian control” which I find quite ironic in that many of the 14 bullet points would be almost perfectly in sync with Sharia Islamic law.

In the introduction to the pledge, there was language that suggested that black families were better off during slavery and more likely to be families that included both a mother and a father than “after the election of the USA’s first African-American president.” This language was later struck from the document that included the pledge.

For most of the G.O.P. field, candidates were reluctant to sign and offered no comment. Mrs. Tea Party herself, Michele Bachmann, however; couldn’t sign the pledge fast enough – even before the reference to black families was removed. Rick Santorum also signed, Jon Huntsman said he doesn’t sign pledges, Newt Gingrich reportedly won’t sign the pledge unless there are additional changes to the language (How could he? Isn’t he on wife number 3?) Mitt Romney rejected the pledge calling it “inappropiate for a presidential campaign” and a Ron Paul spokesman said the congressman “has reservations” about the pledge and “doesn’t want the government to dictate and define traditional marriage.”

Gary Johnson, true to form, effectively vetoed the pledge.

Actually, this is an understatement. Gov. Johnson blasted the pledge calling it “un-Republican and un-American.”

Government should not be involved in the bedrooms of consenting adults. I have always been a strong advocate of liberty and freedom from unnecessary government intervention into our lives. The freedoms that our forefathers fought for in this country are sacred and must be preserved. The Republican Party cannot be sidetracked into discussing these morally judgmental issues — such a discussion is simply wrongheaded. We need to maintain our position as the party of efficient government management and the watchdogs of the “public’s pocket book”.

This is exactly what this so-called marriage vow is: a distraction. The Tea Party movement was successful in the 2010 elections because the focus was on the economy, limited government, and liberty NOT divisive social issues.

Gov. Johnson continues:

This ‘pledge’ is nothing short of a promise to discriminate against everyone who makes a personal choice that doesn’t fit into a particular definition of ‘virtue’.

While the Family Leader pledge covers just about every other so-called virtue they can think of, the one that is conspicuously missing is tolerance. In one concise document, they manage to condemn gays, single parents, single individuals, divorcees, Muslims, gays in the military, unmarried couples, women who choose to have abortions, and everyone else who doesn’t fit in a Norman Rockwell painting.

Maybe The Family Leader has done as all a huge favor? By pressuring candidates to sign the pledge in hopes of receiving The Family Leader’s precious endorsement, those of us who want to have some idea of how serious these candidates are about limited government and freedom now have a litmus test of sorts. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum receive an F, Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich maybe a B, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul an A, and Gary Johnson an A+. The rest who have yet to respond get incompletes.

Obviously, for so-called values voters, the grades would be awarded in the opposite way (i.e. Johnson gets an F and Bachmann an A+). This pledge exposes the divide within the Republican Party and the battle for the party’s soul. Will G.O.P. primary voters nominate someone who will welcome individuals (especially independents) who aren’t necessarily found in a Norman Rockwell painting or will they once again nominate someone who panders primarily to white Christian men who want to tell you what to do in your bedroom?

If they win, we might as well get used to the idea of 4 more years of President Barack Obama.

Gary Johnson Makes his Case for President for Libertarians and Libertarian Leaning Republicans on Stossel

In case you missed it, John Stossel dedicated the whole hour of his show last Thursday to answer the question: Who is Gary Johnson? When Stossel took Johnson’s picture around the streets on NYC, only one person knew who he was. I think this could be one reason why his poll numbers are so anemic at this point.

The studio audience, mostly libertarian leaning (which is normal for Stossel), seemed to like most of what Gov. Veto had to say as he was routinely interrupted by applause.

It wasn’t a complete love fest, however. Stossel brought on guests to challenge the governor from both the Left and the Right to ask him some of the same asinine questions he would have likely been asked had he been invited to the N.H. debate. Johnson also got to debate a Barack Obama impersonator (which was kind of cheesy if you ask me).

I won’t go into anymore of my impressions from the program but I look forward to reading the comments section to see what some of your impressions are.

Quote of the Day: Jon Huntsman on Foreign Policy/Interventionism

As reported in Politico:

“I can’t think of too many tribal countries with which we’ve been involved — Afghanistan is another one — where it’s easy to extricate yourself once you get involved,” Huntsman told reporters here after finishing a cruise with Republicans on northern New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee. “So it might sound like it’s a tangential supportive role at the beginning even if it’s just a no-fly zone. But you’re making a commitment … and sometimes those things become very hard to unwind.”

[…]

“We’re deployed in some quarters in this world where we don’t need to be. It’s time we take a look at the map and we start to clean it up,” he said, arguing that both national security interests as well as financial costs should affect the decision.

And in addition, “we need to do a better job of identifying who our friends and allies are around the world,” Huntsman said.

Gary Johnson Excluded from New Hampshire Debate

Of 13 candidates and potential candidates for the G.O.P nomination who were invited to participate in the June 13th debate in New Hampshire, 7 have decided to participate. As of now, the 7 participants in the debate will be Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. Notable no-shows are Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Rudy Giuliani, and Jon Huntsman (Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee were also invited but both have since decided not to run).

Not invited to participate: 2 term New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Johnson did not meet the “objective criteria” as determined by CNN, WMUR, and the New Hampshire Union Leader. To put it bluntly, Johnson’s poll numbers are too low for him to qualify.

The Johnson campaign is understandably very disappointed that their candidate was not invited to debate in a very key early primary state. Ron Nielson, a blogger for Johnson’s official campaign website writes:

In the latest Gallup poll, released one week ago, Governor Johnson’s level of support registered at 3% nationally. This is competitive with candidates like Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum, both of whom have been invited to participate. In fact, I’m not aware of a poll in which Mr. Santorum has out-polled Governor Johnson nationally.

[…]

Why are CNN, WMUR, and the Union Leader excluding the one Republican candidate with executive experience and a record of fighting for true fiscal conservatism and limited government? Why are they denying Americans the opportunity to hear from the Republican presidential candidate whose popularity is growing by the day? If only Governor Johnson had supported a statewide health insurance mandate, like other candidates.

From there, Nielson encourages Johnson’s supporters to contact CNN, WMUR, and the Union Leader and urge them to change their minds. Nielson also points out that 2 of the debate participants, Michelle Bachmann and Rick Santorum haven’t even officially announced (seems to me that if the debate organizers wanted to exclude individuals, limiting the participants to those who have announced would be a more fair criteria).

In a statement Gov. Johnson released yesterday, he said he respects the decision of the debate sponsors but said its “unfortunate” that there will be a “missing voice” in the debate:

What will be missing is the voice of those who hold an undiluted view of individual liberty – those who believe that individual rights extend to women who face choices about abortion, Americans who happen to be gay, and those who don’t place other asterisks on freedom.

Likewise, there will be no voice for the growing number of Americans who see the hypocrisy and failure of drug laws that condone alcohol at White House Dinners while incarcerating millions of Americans, including our kids, who choose to smoke pot.

[…]

I look forward to participating in the July 10 debate in Las Vegas, sponsored by Americans for Tax Reform and the Daily Caller.

I’ve already made my case why candidates should not be excluded from the debates at this early stage, so I’m not going to repeat those arguments here. There is one point I intended to make in that post that I forgot to bring up though: the point in the campaign when candidates should be excluded from debates.

Is there a point in which candidates should be excluded? Of course! The point at which candidates should be excluded from the debates should be when it is mathematically impossible for the candidate to win enough delegates for the nomination. Last time I checked there haven’t been any primary votes and not a single delegate awarded to any candidate. Gov. Johnson has exactly the same number of delegates as Gov. Romney: 0.

Less than a month ago, Hugh Hewitt dismissed Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and Gary Johnson as “1%ers” who should be “exiled” from the debates because they have “no prayer of winning.” As of right now according to the RCP Average, Rep. Ron Paul is running in 4th place with 8.3% and Herman Cain is in 5th with 7.2%. Gov. Johnson doesn’t register on the RCP Average but is polling between 1-3% in the polls individually. In the most recent CNN/Opinion Research Poll (May 24 -26) “HORSE RACE WITHOUT RUDY GIULIANI OR SARAH PALIN” Ron Paul comes in 2nd with 15%, Herman Cain 3rd with 13% and Gary Johnson 9th with 2%.

While these poll numbers do not bode well for Johnson at this point, the other two individuals who were “1%ers” who had no business being included in the debates less than a month ago are polling better than some of the establishment favorites. Less than a month ago Herman Cain lacked name recognition and has gained substantial ground once he had the opportunity to introduce himself to primary voters. The same can happen for Gov. Johnson once more people learn about his record as governor and where he stands on the issues.

Gov. Johnson Takes on Hannity

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary “Veto” Johnson made a recent appearance on Hannity last week (see video below). I have to say I was pleasantly surprised both with how Sean Hannity conducted the interview and how Gov. Johnson responded. I haven’t really watched Hannity since before the “& Colmes” was dropped a few years ago; from what I remembered he didn’t normally allow guests he disagreed with explain their position (especially on topics like drug legalization). I was also happy that he gave Gov. Johnson 20 plus minutes of some very valuable air time on a program widely watched by Republican primary voters. There’s just no way Gov. Johnson will ever be given that much time in a primary debate.

For Gov. Johnson’s part, I thought he communicated his message very skillfully. His cost/benefit approach that he is campaigning on, especially on issues that the G.O.P base generally disagree (ex: non-intervention and drug legalization/harm reduction) will be helpful in advancing libertarian positions in the long run (much as Ron Paul did in 2008 and since). When Hannity finally broached the war on (some) drugs, Johnson was able to get Hannity to concede that marijuana ought to be considered in a different category from harder drugs (i.e. heroin, crack, etc.). This in of itself is very encouraging.

Ad Populum

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” – Barry Goldwater

Ron Paul’s supporters and detractors would probably agree that many of his positions are out of the main stream of modern political thought. By definition, this makes Ron Paul and those of like mind extremists.

Josh Harkinson, writing for Mother Jones has put together a list of what he considers “Ron Paul’s 15 Most Extreme Positions.” Among these “extreme” positions are “eviscerate entitlements” (such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid), eliminating entire departments (ex: Education, Health and Human Services, Energy, etc.), “enable state extremism” (allow the states to determine issues like gay marriage and school prayer rather than address these issues at the federal level), end the war on (some) drugs, and Ron Paul’s statements against the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Josh Harkinson lists these positions and calls them “extreme” but does not make any arguments against these positions because these positions are already unpopular in his estimation (and indeed, many of these positions are unpopular). Harkinson, either consciously or not has resorted to what is referred to as the Ad Populum fallacy, otherwise known as “appeal to popularity.”

Ad Populum fallacy works like this:

1. Most people approve of X
2. Therefore, X is true

By calling someone an extremist or calling his/her positions extreme is at least a variation of this fallacy: “Most people disagree with Ron Paul on entitlements, therefore; Ron Paul is wrong.”

To be sure, most of the items on the list of 15 that I fully agree with, others that raise my eyebrows (ex: I haven’t investigated number 4 yet) and others that I disagree with* but whether or not each is an extreme has nothing to do with if I agree or not. Whether a position on an issue is extreme or not is entirely beside the point! Rather than calling a position extreme, it should be debated on its merits or lack thereof.

Popular opinion, especially in American politics, is a very fickle thing. Consider how much attitudes have changed over the history of the U.S. It was once considered perfectly okay for one human being to own another. To call for the abolition of slavery in one era was considered extreme, in another controversial, in yet another popular. Any person who would say today that the institution of slavery should be resurrected would now be called an extremist (among other things).

What does this change in popularity concerning slavery tell us about the morality of slavery? Was it a moral institution because it was accepted as part of the culture and perfectly legal but now immoral because most would say that slavery is one of the great shames in our nation’s history?

Of course not.

Slavery was as immoral when Thomas Jefferson owned slaves as it would be today. Popularity has no bearing on questions of right and wrong.

Obviously, there are many more examples of how popular opinion has shifted over time. These positions of Ron Paul’s that Josh Harkinson calls extreme today could become controversial (i.e. having nearly as much support as those who are opposed) or even mainstream in the future. This is likely a great fear of Harkinson and those of his ilk as it’s much easier to call Ron Paul, libertarians, or libertarian positions extreme than it is to confront them directly.

Yes, Ron Paul is an extremist but he is in some very good company. We can safely say that the founding fathers – the original tea partyers were the extremists of their day. They certainly couldn’t be described as mainstream. The words penned by Thomas Paine in Common Sense and later Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence were downright treasonous!

“You’re an extremist!”

My response: “Yeah, so? What’s your point?”

Actually, I consider being called an extremist a badge of honor; so much so that I have put a bumper sticker on my vehicle declaring myself as such (I bought the sticker below from LibertyStickers.com).

The day my views become mainstream will be the day I have to seriously reevaluate my views because I doubt they will be mainstream any time soon. But even though my views or those who promote them don’t win very often on Election Day doesn’t make my views wrong…just unpopular.

Hat Tip: The Agitator
» Read more

Gary Johnson to President Obama: “Time’s Up in Libya”

The “limited kinetic action” (don’t call it military force or war!) in Libya has reached the 60 day mark; the statutory time limit a president can use military force without congressional approval according to the War Powers Act of 1973. There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot about the goings on in Libya in the news these days with Obama deciding what another sovereign nation (Israel) should do about its borders*.

Not everyone has completely forgotten about Libya though. Former New Mexico Governor and presidential candidate Gary Johnson wrote an opinion piece today in The Daily Caller pointing out that the president’s authority to use kinetic action in Libya has expired today.

This blatant disregard for the law must not go unchallenged. As several senators did this week, Congress must demand an explanation for the fact that, with no declaration of war, no authorization from Congress, and certainly no imminent threat to the U.S., our forces are today engaged in what is clearly a military conflict halfway around the world in Libya.

Specifically, the War Powers Act requires that the use of American forces in a conflict must be ended within 60 days of commencing — unless Congress expressly authorizes otherwise. In terms of our current engagement in Libya, Congress hasn’t authorized anything, nor has the president asked them to, and today, May 20, is the 60th day.

[…]

[The War Powers Act] was carefully crafted to allow the commander-in-chief to respond to attacks and otherwise take whatever action necessary to protect us. At the same time, it was obviously crafted to limit precisely the kinds of ill-defined and costly uses of our military that we are witnessing in Libya right now.

[…]

To be fair, this president is certainly not the first to disregard the War Powers Act. Some have even questioned its constitutionality. But until the courts or Congress deem otherwise, it is the law of the land — and in my opinion, a good one.

This is yet another example of President Obama’s lack of respect for the rule of law when the law isn’t compatible with his policy.

Hope n’ Change you can believe in.

» Read more

Hugh Hewitt: RNC Should “Exile” Herman Cain, Gary Johnson, and Ron Paul from Future Debates

In reading Doug Mataconis’ recent post about pundits on the Right ignoring the presence of Ron Paul and Gary Johnson in the first presidential debate of the 2012 campaign and my subsequent listening and reading of many of the same pundits who have since mocked Ron Paul for daring to say such things as the war on (some) drugs has been a failure, I am reminded of the famous quote of Mahatma Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

It seems to me that the anti-liberty forces on the Right aren’t all at the same stage, however. Some want to ignore Ron Paul and Gary Johnson while others simply laugh at them. Conservative radio host and blogger Hugh Hewitt seems to have moved past the ignore and laughing stages and on to the fighting stage. How exactly does Hewitt wish to fight: by silencing what he calls the “marginal” candidates.

This is why the GOP needs to rethink its debate schedule and why the RNC should take over the operation of the debates and exile Cain, Johnson and Paul as well as every other candidate without a prayer of winning. (Santorum is a long shot, but he has a realistic though small chance of winning the nomination, while the others do not.) The seriousness of the fiscal crisis requires the GOP and its candidates to act seriously, and allowing marginal candidates to eat up time and distract from the enormous problems facing the country is not serious.

Apparently, it’s not enough for Hugh Hewitt that the Fox News moderators focused most of their serious* questions and attention toward “long shot” Rick Santorum and Tim Pawlenty. No, the very presence of Herman Cain, Ron Paul, and Gary Johnson distract from the “important” issues facing our country.

On electability
Marginal candidate Herman Cain placed second in a Zogby Poll that came out Tuesday, largely due to his performance in the debate that Hewitt says he had no business taking part.

Marginal candidate Rep. Ron Paul has won the CPAC presidential straw poll two years in a row. According to a recent CNN/Opinion Research poll, Paul trails Barack Obama in a head to head race by 7 percentage points while “serious” candidate and Hewitt favorite “Mandate Mitt” Romney trails Obama by 11.

Marginal candidate Gary Johnson, like Herman Cain, doesn’t have the name recognition (until recently maybe for Cain) that some of the top tier candidates have. This reason alone could explain why he hasn’t polled well so far. But as Johnson himself points out, when he ran for Governor of New Mexico in a state that votes 2-1 Democrat he didn’t have the name recognition either. He was told back then that could never win but Johnson got the last laugh when he beat the incumbent governor by 10 percentage points.

Cain, Paul, and Johnson may be long shots but I wouldn’t go as far to say they “don’t have a prayer” of winning the nomination. One advantage of being a long shot is they can say what they really think about the issues while the “contenders” have to be cautious – which leads me to my next point.

On “marginal candidates eat[ing] up time distract[ing] from the enormous problems facing the country”
Moderators and interviewers can only do so much to get straightforward answers from candidates. The top tier candidates should actually be grateful to have candidates like Cain, Paul, and Johnson in the primaries to challenge them. The eventual nominee will be battle tested for the general campaign since s/he has already had to offer alternative answers to challenging questions about taxation, entitlements, foreign policy, etc.

If Herman Cain says our government should replace the income tax with the Fair Tax, the other candidates have to explain why the income tax should remain in place or offer another alternative. If Ron Paul says that our government needs to stop policing the world and audit the Fed, the other candidates have to explain why our government should continue to police the world and continue to keep the activities of the Fed secret. If Gary Johnson argues that from a cost/benefit approach the war on (some) drugs has yielded much greater cost than benefit, the other candidates have to explain where Johnson is wrong in his analysis.**

Far from being a distraction from the important issues, Cain, Paul, and Johnson can focus the debate in such a way that would be otherwise not possible. Of course this assumes that the debate moderators give all the candidates a chance to respond.
Hewitt made one other point that needs to be challenged:

When the first tier of GOP candidates gather to discuss how to begin to fix the mess we are in, the voters deserve to hear the problems and the solutions fairly and fully talked through, and done without the interruption of the 1%ers with agendas unrelated to defeating President Obama in November, 2012.

Hugh, it’s still very early in this campaign, relax! Part of the reason that some of these candidates are 1%ers is because they lack name recognition (i.e. who are these people?). These 1%ers at least deserve a chance to introduce themselves to primary voters. Even as closely as I follow politics, there are quite a few names I’ve heard recently attached to individuals I know nothing about. Honestly, I know very little about the GOP field overall – at least those who didn’t run in 2008. I’m quite sure I am not alone.

And yes, the 1%ers probably have agendas besides defeating President Obama in 2012. If you want to be honest though, this is probably true for all the candidates. The more crowded the field, the more difficult it is for any candidate to win the nomination. A presidential primary is a perfect opportunity to speak about issues one cares about in a larger marketplace of ideas than normally possible. It’s not unusual for the eventual nominee to adopt some of the positions of his primary rivals in the general campaign (so in a sense, one’s issues are as important as winning the nomination…unless it’s only about ego).

But isn’t talking about having an agenda besides beating Obama in the general putting the cart before the horse just a little bit? I’m quite sure that if Cain, Paul, or Johnson actually won the nomination, beating Obama in 2012 would become the primary objective. They each have their own vision for this country.

The truth is, I think, you don’t want Cain, Paul, or Johnson in the debates because you are an establishment guy not because they are 1%ers. You don’t want to see any of these men in the debates because they are a threat to the status quo of the Republican Party (this is probably more true of Paul and Johnson than Cain though Cain would still be an outsider). I don’t believe for a minute that if any of these men became contenders you would suddenly welcome them in the debates.

It’s my hope that the RNC doesn’t take your advice seriously.

Republicans Continue Dissing Libertarians, Then Want Us To Vote For Them

Brian Doherty notes that The Washington Examiner’s Byron York seems to have had a pair of ideological blinders on when he watched last night’s Republican debate:

Byron York, in the game of reporting about right-wing and Republican politics for a very long time, delivers a bravura performance of ignoring what’s in front of his own eyes with this nearly 2,000 word account of last night’s GOP debate that pretty much pretends Ron Paul and Gary Johnson weren’t even there.

York literally mentions that Paul was there–and never mentions yesterday’s million-dollar man again. Johnson gets cred for sprinting on the stage, where apparently from York’s account he then fell through a trap door and never added anything to the very, very fascinating set of fresh ideas delivered by those other three guys, I’ve forgotten their names.

Expect to have to see a lot more of this transparently pathetic pretending that Paul and Johnson don’t exist

York’s not alone. A listener to Rush Limbaugh’s show today would’ve been led to think that the only people at last night’s debate were Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum, because the great “El Rushbo” didn’t even talk about Johnson or Paul (yea, I know, I shouldn’t be listening). And a review of many of the prominent conservative blogs today shows either the same “memory holing” of Paul and Johnson, or coverage that consists of nothing but derision of them and their supporters.

To which I ask a simple question — if conservative Republicans want to convince libertarian-oriented folks to be allied with them, wouldn’t it be better to actually treat them and their ideas with respect? I’ve seen none of it, and I’m tempted to act accordingly.

Donald Trump: Corporatist Bully

I do not like Donald Trump. I don’t dislike him because of his wealth; he probably earned most of his wealth honestly. Some dislike Trump because he is a self promoter. I don’t dislike Trump for this reason either. Many successful individuals are great at self promotion and developing a successful brand (a very good attribute to have to have a successful political campaign).

No, the reason I really dislike Donald Trump – even putting aside his becoming the new face of the Birther movement in recent weeks, his support of the auto bailouts, raising taxes, his anti-free trade proposal that would place a 25% tariff on all Chinese products, and his support for single payer universal healthcare – is quite simply that he is a corporatist bully.

For those who don’t quite understand the difference between a capitalist and a corporatist, I highly encourage you to read Brad’s post “Mercantilism, Fascism, Corporatism — And Capitalism.” This distinction is an important one. Donald Trump is the poster child for what many on the Left as a greedy capitalist; a caricature of everything that is wrong with capitalism as preached by the Ralph Naders and Michael Moores of the world.

But those of us who know better know that Donald Trump isn’t a capitalist at all but a corporatist. Trump doesn’t try to work within a framework of a free market as a true capitalist would, but like far too many businessmen, he uses his wealth and influence to encourage the government to work on his behalf to his advantage (and at the expense of anyone else who would dare get in his way).

In the early 1990’s, an elderly widow by the name of Vera Coking was in the way. Coking’s home that she had lived in for 30 years was on a plot of land that the Donald coveted. The Donald wanted the property so he could add a limousine parking area to one of his Atlantic City casinos. When Coking turned down his $1 million offer to buy the property, the Donald decided to enlist the help of his goons on the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Authority. In 1994, these government thugs filed a lawsuit to take Coking’s property for $251,000 and gave her 90 days to leave her property (if she were to stay beyond the 90 days, men in uniforms with guns would forcibly remove her from her home).

Fortunately, Coking’s case gained enough media publicity to gain the attention and help of The Institute for Justice (think a more libertarian ACLU with a focus on property rights). With the IJ’s help, Coking was able to keep her property. In 1998, a judge made a decision that turned out to be final finding that the Donald’s limousine parking area was not a “public use.”

John Stossel confronted the Donald about his failed attempts to take the widow’s home away; he reprinted this exchange in his book Give Me A Break on pages 152 and 153:

Donald Trump: Do you want to live in a city where you can’t build roads or highways or have access to hospitals? Condemnation is a necessary evil.

John Stossel: But we’re not talking about a hospital. This is a building a rich guy finds ugly.

Donald Trump: You’re talking about at the tip of this city, lies a little group of terrible, terrible tenements – just terrible stuff, tenement housing.

John Stossel: So what!

Donald Trump: So what?…Atlantic City does a lot less business, and senior citizens get a lot less money and a lot less taxes and a lot less this and that.

Earlier in the book (page 25) Stossel gives his impressions of this confrontational interview:

Donald Trump was offended when I called him a bully for trying to force an old lady out of her house to make more room for his Atlantic City casino. After the interview, the producer stayed behind to pack up our equipment. Trump came back into the room, puffed himself up, and started blustering, “Nobody talks to me that way!”

Well, someone should.

Had this case taken place after Kelo, the Donald may well have prevailed. In the wake of the Kelo decision, Neil Cavuto interviewed the Donald on Fox News (7/19/05) to get his reaction.

Trump:

I happen to agree with [the Kelo decision] 100 percent, not that I would want to use it. But the fact is, if you have a person living in an area that’s not even necessarily a good area, and government, whether it’s local or whatever, government wants to build a tremendous economic development, where a lot of people are going to be put to work and make area that’s not good into a good area, and move the person that’s living there into a better place — now, I know it might not be their choice — but move the person to a better place and yet create thousands upon thousands of jobs and beautification and lots of other things, I think it happens to be good.

Donald Trump is not one who respects property rights (other than his own). “Tremendous economic development” and “jobs” are great reasons to employ the full police power of government to take away someone’s property in the Donald’s world view.

I shudder to think of what a Donald Trump presidency would look like. Imagine the Donald with control of our CIA and our military. The Donald doesn’t have any problem using force to get what the Donald wants.

Now consider President Trump with a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. What sort of Justice would he appoint? Most likely one who would view Kelo quite favorably.

This bully, Donald Trump is the guy who is polling second place in some early Republican primary polls? Wake the hell up Republicans!

Ron Paul To Announce Presidential Bid

National Journal is reporting that Ron Paul will announce the formation of a Presidential Exploratory Committee tomorrow in Iowa:

Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, whose outspoken libertarian views and folksy style made him a cult hero during two previous presidential campaigns, will announce on Tuesday that he’s going to try a third time.

Sources close to Paul, who is in his 12th term in the House, said he will unveil an exploratory presidential committee, a key step in gearing up for a White House race. He will also unveil the campaign’s leadership team in Iowa, where the first votes of the presidential election will be cast in caucuses next year.

Paul, 75, ran as the Libertarian Party candidate in 1988, finishing with less than one half a percent of the vote. After more than a decade as a Republican congressman, Paul gave it another shot in the 2008 presidential election, gaining attention for being the only Republican candidate calling for the end to the war in Iraq and for his “money bomb” fundraising strategy, which brought in millions of dollars from online donors in single-day pushes.

Paul took 10 percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses and 8 percent in New Hampshire’s primary. He finished second, with 14 percent of the vote, in the Nevada caucuses, and eventually finished fourth in the Republican nominating process with 5.6 percent of the total vote. Paul’s campaign book, The Revolution: A Manifesto also reached No. 1 on The New York Times best-seller list in 2008.

An exploratory committee is one step below an actual campaign, but it seems likely that Paul is running, at least for now. Personally, for the reasons I mentioned last week, I am inclined to support Gary Johnson rather than Congressman Paul, but the more the merrier.

Former Governor Gary Johnson Announces Candidacy For President

The field of candidates for the GOP nomination for President got a little more palatable to libertarians today when former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson announced his candidacy for President at an event in New Hampshire:

Gary Johnson is running for president.

The former New Mexico governor — who favors legalizing marijuana — on Thursday skipped the step of an exploratory committee, saying bluntly on Twitter: “I am running for president.”

That coincided with a speech in front of the New Hampshire statehouse, which made Johnson the first Republican to launch an official presidential campaign. On his new campaign website, Johnson positions himself as “The People’s President,” laying out libertarian-leaning stances on deficit reduction, education, taxes and drug policy.

The campaign went live with a website almost immediately after Johnson began speaking this morning, and his Issues page will give you an idea of just how different Johnson is from most of the other likely candidates on the GOP side:

Gary’s track record speaks volumes.

He has been an outspoken advocate for efficient government, lower taxes, winning the war on drug abuse, protection of civil liberties, revitalization of the economy and promoting entrepreneurship and privatization.

As Governor of New Mexico, Johnson was known for his common-sense business approach to governing. He eliminated New Mexico’s budget deficit, cut the rate of growth in state government in half and privatized half of the state prisons.

Johnson isn’t likely to be the only libertarian-leaning Republican throwing his hat in the ring. It’s becoming rather apparent that Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who became an unlikely superstar during the 2008 campaign will throw his hat in the ring once again. If that happens, then Paul and Johnson would be essentially competing for the same voters and, as Slate’s David Weigel notes, Johnson would need to find a way to differentiate himself from Paul, who is not viewed very favorably by Republicans outside of his own followers.

Personally, I think Johnson is a better standard bearer for libertarian-leaning Republicans than Ron Paul for a whole host of  reasons. For one thing, he’s younger, which is no small thing when you’re talking about a Presidential campaign. While he was able to hold large rallies on college campuses across the country, Ron Paul didn’t seem to have much enthusiasm in 2008 for the kind of retail politics that you have to engage in when you’re running for President.

The other thing that differentiates Johnson from Paul is that Johnson doesn’t come with any baggage. The topic of Ron Paul’s support from extremist, racist, groups and the long history of the newsletter that he published in between his two stints in Congress were frequently discussed here during the 2008 campaign and they were, I think, one of the reasons that Paul wasn’t taken seriously outside of his energetic circle of supporters, many of whom behaved in a way that quite frankly was an embarrassment to the guy they were supporting. Johnson has none of that. Instead he has a successful business career and eight years as a Republican Governor in a state that, at the time, still leaned Democratic. He vetoed more bills than any other Governor. He came out in favor of marijuana legalization while he was in office. Heck, the guy climbed Mount Everest. That all makes for a compelling media story, all without the weird Ron Paul like baggage.

There’s no doubt that Johnson has an uphill fight ahead of him. His name recognition among likely Republican voters is in the teens, and his name hasn’t been included in most recent polls, although that’s likely to change now. However, he’s got a unique message and a solid record. Keep an eye on this guy.

Here’s the video of today’s announcement:

Mike Huckabee’s American History Lesson

Or to be more accurate, alternative American history lesson. Mike Huckabee, who is leading ABC’s latest G.O.P. presidential poll, informed George Stephanopoulos that President Obama will be very difficult to beat because “only one time since 1868 has an incumbent president been taken out who ran for reelection and that’s when Jimmy Carter ran in 1980.” (At the 1:17 mark)

Oh yeah, I forgot – George H.W. Bush won reelection in 1992 (despite violating his “no new taxes” pledge) and Bill Clinton ran again later to beat Dan Quayle in 1996.

What’s a little surprising to me is how little play this has received so far and that Stephanopoulos, who worked on Bill Clinton’s successful campaign to defeat the incumbent President Bush, didn’t call him on it! Why did he let Huckabee get by with this blatant historical error?

Okay, so he got his facts wrong, how is this different from other faux pas of presidential candidates of recent memory?

This one is different. This wasn’t a hasty misstatement of how many states are in the union or a slip of the tongue, Huckabee apparently has spent some time contemplating how Jimmy Carter is the only incumbent president to be voted out of office since 1868. He wanted very much to “remind” the viewers of this historical “fact.”

This is a man who would be president.

A big deal?

You tell me.

Gary Johnson At CPAC 2011

Gary Johnson, the former Governor of New Mexico and a likely candidate for President, addressed the crowd at CPAC this morning in what was a well-delivered and fairly well-received speech:

I spoke briefly with Governor Johnson last night at a meet and great that was attended by a large number of people. He strikes me as an excellent spokesperson for libertarians in the GOP.

Libertarain Party Erects ‘Republican Wall of Shame’ at CPAC

The Libertarian Party sent out a press release today targeting ‘small L’ libertarians and Tea Party members at CPAC:

Libertarian Party Executive Director Wes Benedict commented, “Our goal at CPAC is to reach out to libertarians who have been misled into thinking of conservatism as a small-government ideology. In fact, conservatives just want their own version of big government, as we pointed out last year.”

Benedict continued, “We’ve already heard some talk about the Republican ‘three-legged stool.’ My view is, Republicans are wrong on foreign policy, they’re wrong on social policy, and they’re lying hypocrites on economic policy. Their stool has no legs.”

Full Libertarian Party press release here.

At their booth at CPAC (they were able to get a booth at CPAC?), they erected what they call the “Republican Wall of Shame.”

Quote of the Day: Why We Should be Skeptical About the Tea Party’s Commitment to Liberty Edition

Alex Pareene writing for Salon.com in an article entitled: Tea Partyers don’t actually care about “liberty” :

[V]arious New Mexico Tea Partyers booed one of the movement’s superstars [Former New Mexico Governor and potential 2012 presidential candidate Gary Johnson] for daring to suggest that a wasteful and — let’s just say it –tyrannical government campaign [the war on drugs] be ended.

[…]

If ending the disastrous, expensive, immoral and racist drug war gets booed at a Tea Party rally in liberty-loving New Mexico, there is absolutely nothing remotely libertarian about the movement besides a visceral hatred of taxes and the conviction that undeserving Others are benefiting from them.

When people ask me what I think about the Tea Party generally, my response is that I’m glad it’s out there shaking things up and challenging the establishment, but I keep them at arm’s length (where were these people during the Bush years?). This article not only deals about Tea Partier attitudes about the war on (some) drugs but also other liberty issues such as gay marriage and free trade (among many other issues not mentioned in the article).

I have been skeptical about the Tea Party’s commitment to liberty all along but the 2012 presidential primary will provide an opportunity to prove me wrong. If the Tea Party overall supports Gary Johnson or Ron Paul, then I would be happy to admit I was wrong. If, however; the Tea Party backs someone like “Tax Hike” Mike Huckabee, Sarah “the Quitter” Palin, or “Mandate” Mitt Romney I can safely say my skepticism was validated.

I so hope to be proven wrong but if the response from the New Mexico Tea Party is any indication…

Open Thread: Successes and Setbacks for Liberty in 2010/Hopes for 2011

Was 2010 a good year or bad year for liberty and why? Like most of you will likely respond, 2010 was very much a mixed bag IMHO.

On the positive side, the mandate section of ObamaCare was found unconstitutional, the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was repealed, Wikileaks exposed the federal government for the corrupt organization it is, the Democrats took a beating on election day, and the Bush era tax cuts were extended (though with the return of the death tax, extension of unemployment benefits, and other compromises in the bill, I’m not yet sure if this was a good or bad thing).

On the other hand, Republicans gained ground on election day (I’m not optimistic that they have changed much since the last time they ran things), the vast majority of incumbents in both parties were easily reelected, government spending is way out of control, the Fed wants to pump some $600 billion into the economy by printing more counterfeit money, unconstitutional invasive searches continue to take place at airports in the name of safety, both Democrat and Republican politicians consider Wikileaks to be a “terrorist” organization, and President Obama believes he can assassinate American citizens where they stand with no due process whatsoever.

On the criminal justice front, The Innocence Network (part of The Innocence Project) exonerated 29 individuals in 2010 for crimes they did not commit. Back in March, Hank Skinner came within an hour of being executed when SCOTUS halted the process. Skinner’s case continues to wind its way through the courts. In other death penalty news of 2010, Kevin Keith’s death sentence was commuted to life by Gov. Strickland, Anthony Graves became the 12th death row inmate to be exonerated in Texas, a key DNA sample was determined to not be a match for another Texas man, Claude Jones who was executed in 2000, and Texas continues to stonewall inquiries into the likely wrongful 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. As these questionable death penalty cases pile up, hopefully this will be the beginning of the end of the death penalty in Texas and elsewhere.

In a couple of other cases we never quite got around to at The Liberty Papers but deserve to be mentioned: Cory Maye was granted a new trial by the Mississippi Supreme Court because the trial judge failed to give jury instructions to consider a “defense of others” defense and in Arkansas, the Arkansas Supreme Court ordered a new hearing for the so-called “West Memphis 3” to consider newly discovered DNA evidence and juror misconduct from the original trial (if you are not familiar with this case, I urge you to follow this link as a starting point. The more I have looked into this case the more disturbing I find it to be…a perfect example of what is so terribly wrong with the system).

Hopes for 2011
Rather than offering predictions for 2011, here are some of my hopes:

– I hope that the justice will be served in the above cases.

-I hope I am wrong about the Tea Party Republicans and that they will actually be a force of positive change for more liberty and smaller government

-I hope that Ron Paul decides not to run for president for the 2012 campaign but instead puts his support behind former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson (I’ll get into my reasoning in a future post).

-I hope by this time next year, I’ll have far more successes than setbacks for liberty to report.

Now it’s your turn. How do you feel about the state of liberty in 2010 and how do you feel about the year ahead?

It’s time for libertarians to start taking a look at Gary Johnson for POTUS 2012

“That’s the first sign you know you’re a libertarian. You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there’s not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas.” - Gary Johnson

Former two-term Republican Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico has been hitting the news a lot lately. This makes sense, as he’s not ruled out a possible presidential bid. Wikipedia provides this brief overview of Johnson’s history:

Gary Earl Johnson (born January 1, 1953 in Minot, North Dakota) is an American businessman and Republican politician who served as the 29th Governor of the U.S. state of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. He is well-known for his low-tax libertarian views and his regular participation in triathlons.

Founder of one of New Mexico’s largest construction companies,[1] Johnson entered politics for the first term by running for Governor of New Mexico in 1994. He beat incumbent Democratic governor Bruce King by 50% to 40%. He cut the 10% annual growth in the budget by using his gubernatorial veto on a record 48% of bills.[1]

He sought re-election in 1998, winning by a ten-point margin. In his second term, he concentrated on the issue of school voucher reforms, as well as campaigning for marijuana decriminalization. During his tenure as governor, he adhered strictly to an anti-tax, anti-bureaucracy program, and set state and national records for his use of veto powers:[1] more than the other 49 contemporary governors put together.[2][3] Term-limited, Johnson retired from politics at the end of his second term.

In 2009, he founded the Our America Initiative, a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization. Johnson has also been the subject of media speculation as a possible candidate for President of the United States in the 2012 election.[4]

Recent media reviews are a bit interesting. A current Daily Caller interview begins with this paragraph:

“For eight years,” former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson said with a wide grin on his face, “I was a libertarian governor disguised as a Republican!” Often dubbed the “next Ron Paul,” Johnson wears the libertarian (small “L”) label proudly, though in an interview with The Daily Caller he swore he was still a Republican.

Over at The American Conservative, Daniel Larison describes a potential problem with a Johnson candidacy, which is electability in a Republican primary:

The possibility of a Gary Johnson presidential bid is an exciting one, and I say that as a New Mexican who didn’t like some of the major projects he undertook as governor. I can say that I would happily support his candidacy were he to pursue the Republican nomination. That’s part of the problem Gary Johnson faces in a GOP nominating contest: he appeals to people like me and Matt Welch, who are not remotely representative of the Republican primary electorate. For one thing, I’m not a Republican. Not even Ron Paul’s 2008 bid could make me change my registration to vote in the state primary, and I doubt I would change it for the next election.

While a lot of Republicans liked Ron Paul’s fiscal policy issues during the 2008 elections, his foreign policy views certainly hampered his ability to win a GOP presidential nomination. Johnson has been very outspoken regarding marijuana policy, which has the possibility of making it tough for him to win a GOP nomination, as well.

“Marijuana legalization, arguably Johnson’s hallmark political platform, was advertised as being a main point of the lecture, and Johnson subsequently devoted a substantial portion of his address to it,” writes Patrick Derocher after a recent Johnson lecture at Fordham University.

Over at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government, long-time Republican political consultant Roger Stone is a bit more optimistic than I am:

A 2012 Presidential candidacy by Johnson would lead to a needed public dialog on the failed war on drugs. Prop 19 failed only because of the gross lies told about marijuana use by police groups, Senator Diane Feinstein and, get this, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Anyone who has seen “Pumping Iron” remembers Arnold puffing on a joint between heavy sets. Do as I say, not as I do, Ahhnold ?

This is not to say Johnson is a one dimensional candidate and their will be plenty of opposition to ending the prohibition of Marijuana in the Republican Party, but a Johnson candidacy would find a constituency in the early primary states, particularly “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire and would spark a national discussion that must be had.

Sarah Palin won’t run ( you heard it here first!). The race is wide open. Run, Gary Run.

Following the same vein, CNN entitled a recent article “Forget Palin, here’s Gary Johnson.” Here’s the pertinent excerpt:

Skeptics of the Tea Party note that the right never organized in opposition to the profligate spending of the Bush administration. They wonder why a movement so vocal about liberty focuses exclusively on the economic variety, and suspect that if the GOP is returned to power, government won’t grow smaller or less intrusive so much as serve different masters.

Come 2012, however, there is one Republican who’ll be uniquely positioned to win over these skeptics: former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a long-shot candidate whose success in the presidential primary would signal, as nothing else could, that the principles espoused by the Tea Party really changed the GOP.

Certainly Johnson would provide a bridge between fiscal conservatives and the left, as E. D. Kain notes at The Washington Examiner:

That being said, Johnson’s positions on civil liberties, foreign policy, and the war on drugs dovetail nicely with my own, and are quite a lot better and more coherent than anything we’ve seen out of either traditional Democratic or Republican candidates. I’m not nearly the sort of fiscal hawk that Johnson is, preferring to keep reasonable spending levels on public education, transportation, and health, but at least he’s consistent in his approach to both civil liberties and fiscal affairs. Indeed, if the Tea Party was as coherent as Johnson, I might even join up – though my participation would be more a protest of our egregious drug policies and our failed security policies than anything. Limiting government must mean more than simply limiting taxes and spending if it is ever to become a truly coherent political force.
Johnson isn’t afraid to take on his likely competition.  This clip from a recent profile piece from The New Republic is telling:

What does Johnson make of Palin? On a drive through the foothills of New Hampshire, I ask him. Riding shotgun, he turns the question around on me. “Um, I guess some people think she’s folksy,” I say from the backseat. “Well, at first she strikes you as folksy,” he shoots back. “And then you realize: She might be running for president of the United States! And then, don’t we have the obligation to tell her what a terrible idea that is?” Cupping his hands to his mouth, he brays, “Sarah! We love you! Don’t run!” He also performs a rendition of the “deer-in-the-headlights” interview she did on “The O’Reilly Factor,” about the BP oil spill.

He’s also happy to take on the Republican establishment, as The New Mexico Independent notes:

The free-speaking Johnson also penned a critical statement on the Republican takeover of the House, on Facebook:

“After yesterday’s election I think it would be wrong for the Republicans to take the results as some sort of mandate for Republican leadership. I believe that the Republicans have an opportunity to redeem themselves for when we owned the White House and when we ran up record deficits and when we gave America a prescription health care benefit that added trillions to the entitlement liability and ran up record deficits.”

If Johnson runs, and all signs seem to indicate that he will, the Republican primary process will certainly be interesting.

“As an unabashed Johnson supporter (which is an extremely unusual place to find myself vis-a-vis a politician), my main hope has been that at least one libertarian-minded candidate make it to the GOP’s final round in 2012,” writes Matt Welch at Reason. “Though as one wag suggested to me on Election Night, why not two?”

Over at Slate, Dave Weigel noted that the process could be a lot of fun, too. Here’s the excerpt he pulled from the TNR profile, which was immediately followed by the quote at the top of this post:

“Look,” he says, “there are times and places where it would be perfectly safe to go one-forty, and there are others where it would be reckless to go fifty-five.” Within moments, he’s taking aim at stop signs and red lights. “I’m not opposed to the concept,” he allows. “But sometimes, you know, it’s 5:30 in the morning! There’s nobody on the road!”

I’ll have the advantage being able to have some face time with Governor Johnson next week, as the Samford College Republicans and the Alabama Republican Liberty Caucus (disclosure: I’m the current chairman) will be co-hosting a campus event in Birmingham where he will be speaking. We are following this up with a Liberty on the Rocks mixer right down the street, where Johnson will also be present.

While it’s far to early to begin predicting the outcome of the 2012 GOP presidential nomination process, it seems pretty safe to predict that the debate could indeed be interesting.

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