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      I wrote this article January 19th, 2009. Obama had just been inaugurated, we knew who his economic team would be, his Chief of Staff (Rahm Emmanuel), and we knew the basics of the stimulus package.  I knew, then, that the last opportunity for America to avoid catastrophe, as opposed to mere disaster, had passed, and […]
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Citizens United, Undue Influence, The BITE Model

This has been a surprisingly difficult post to write. I attribute this partially to what I am doing at work, which consists of speed learning. Not that I’m complaining (as long as my contract keeps getting renewed) but my mind has been busy retraining some circuitry and that means some other stuff has to join the queue.

The other reason it has been difficult is because I can’t believe no one has covered this territory before. If could be that others’ have but I don’t have the time right now to put in a lot of research as to how much it has been fleshed out. I know that some Twitter people have been busily picking up on the language and words used to describe the candidates. It’s good to see they’re being proactive but it’s probably not enough. So, I’ve had a difficult time figuring out how to jump into this topic.

And then there is the left blogosphere that seems to be dragging itself into the Hillary Clinton camp somewhat reluctantly. Sometimes, I see the briefest flashes of “snapping” out of their eight year self-imposed trance but I can’t tell if this is due to genuine insight or whether there are marching orders from party leadership or a little bit of both. Having read David Brock’s book Blinded by the Right, it’s my guess that the Media Matters people and affiliated blogs are more aware, to one degree or another, of the concept of undue influence, regardless of how much smoke got in their eyes in 2008. I can read between the lines in some blog posts. There is groupthink to some degree but there is also an underlying independence of thought that I think needs to be encouraged. In any case, there are some signs that the snapping might be real because connections have been made.

So, why am I grouping “Citizens United”, “Undue Influence” and “The BITE Model”? Let me tell you a little story about a conversation I recently had with a relative. I really like this person. He’s a senior but he’s interesting, smart and a little bit weird. But I can also tell where he gets his news. So, we were talking about health care and I mentioned that I don’t really have insurance. Oh, I have something that barely meets the requirements of the ACA but it’s not really insurance. And he says indignantly, “Why don’t we have insurance like they have in England where everyone is covered?!! That would be so much better than Obamacare.”

This was interesting to me because that sentiment should set off alarm bells in the right wing media empire. That is definitely NOT what they want their voter base to be thinking about. Because, what would happen if there was a politician who would somehow figure out a way to show these voters that getting what they want is not an impossibility after all?

I pointed out to my relative that in the US, we have several kinds of alternate health care models to choose from that match what he wants. Medicare and Tricare popped immediately to mind. He thought it would be great if we could all have Medicare but politically, it could never get passed. (BTW, I’m not advocating any particular model without cost controls on hospitals and providers. That’s probably the real impediment.) So, I pointed out to him that we would probably not get a real affordable health care system as long as Republicans were in charge.

His immediate response was: “All politicians are alike. It doesn’t matter what party they belong to.”

That, my friends, is a thought stopping idea and it was planted there by someone who has undue influence on a whole bunch of voters. The reason why I know this is that it was so quick. He may have a point in that Democrats hide behind Republicans in order to not offend their donors but I don’t think his thought process on the political reality was that well developed. I suspect he’s been trained to respond to the trigger about Republicans. Because you can bring up any subject and the minute you say “Republicans don’t like the idea you like”, the “All politicians and parties are the same” sentence flies out of their mouths without thinking. Republicans are going to be able to use that trigger in the upcoming election cycle. Anybody else is going to have to think of a way to get around it. And that’s going to be a problem because Citizens United has made it much easier for people with money to buy the means to apply undue influence.

“Duh”, you say, “Tell me something I didn’t know”. Ok, here’s where the connections are not being made: that money is being very effectively used to buy undue influence in a way you might not have considered before.

You may be wondering what I mean by undue influence. Undue influence originates from the law and since I am not a lawyer, I’m not going to discuss what that means exactly. The easiest way to understand it is to think about how elderly, possibly infirm people might be manipulated by their caretakers to sign over their estates. But the term is now being applied to mind control and can refer to any person or group, religion, political party that has the ability to influence others. Check out this video on Undue Influence 101 from Steve Hassan’s site Freedom of Mind to get a better understanding of what undue influence is.

What the Citizens United ruling did was allow a flood of money to infiltrate media and PACs. If you have the money, you now control the microphone. And if you control the microphone, your information is going to be able to influence the thoughts and emotions of your target audience. And once you are able to control their thoughts and emotions, you can control their behavior. There are many methods of carrying information. The obvious ones are TV, radio and newspapers. These are the primary sources of information for seniors. But more of them are now using Facebook (God knows why, I hate that thing). The more ways that money can control the means of disseminating information, the more thoughts and emotions can be influenced, the more behavior can be controlled. And now, the right wing controls almost all of the relevant information resources.

This is what is involved in the BITE model shown below:

Again, you may be saying to yourself that this is not new information. You already saw the correlation years ago or you’re starting to really get annoyed by it now because you’re finally starting to see what the New York Times has been up to with regard to covering presidential candidates.

But you would be missing the big picture. The big picture is that this is the way cults indoctrinate their devotees. These people do not know that they’ve been indoctrinated. They don’t know that they’ve had thought stopping ideas implanted in them. They don’t know that their fears of death, hell, abandonment, shame or ostracism have been tinkered with. They don’t know that the outrage over the so-called “War on Christmas” serves a very useful purpose. They don’t know that David Brooks is a master at writing posts that enforce “learned helplessness”. They are totally oblivious to it. They’re walking around like a bunch of Moonies spewing crap about “parasites” and “slackers” and “government is bad” when deep down inside, there is a conscience that objects to injustice but keeps getting strangled by thought stoppers.

This is what our Supreme Court majority allowed when they ruled on Citizens United. These are five smart men (interesting how they are all men). It is incomprehensible to me that they didn’t know what they were doing when they made this ruling. I’m sure they knew EXACTLY what was going on, especially John Roberts. What they did was allow the cult-like indoctrination of an entire country by people who have a lot of money and can buy more and more microphones, infiltrating every bit of information that comes though every media source and the “friends” you accept on Facebook .

That’s my first attempt at showing why we can’t have nice things. I’m not letting Democrats off the hook on this. What happened in 2008 was unconscionable. I’m delighted to see some bloggers in consternation about how they are supposed to defend Hillary Clinton when they’re up against this incredible media resistance and how irritating it is that all these young Ivy League graduates are jumping to the head of the line in major media publications to plant nasty trigger words about Hillary in the minds of their readers. Ha! Just wait until those same reporters start writing about how all those bloggers have tired interfaces or are catering to their older, elite demographic or something to that effect. Suddenly, their pretty little posts will lose their freshness and relevance. It’s going to happen. You heard it here first. It won’t matter how intelligent or pithy you are.

The question is, what are you going to do about it?

There’s a tsunami of money headed your way.

The Hawk Debate

Back in 2008, I took the step to ban certain words here. For example, if you used the word “racist” in a comment, your comment was auto-moderated. The reason was that whoever was operating the Obama campaign had gone on the offensive and insulted and humiliated innocent bloggers and commenters in order to shut them up. They did this by calling the dissenters racists. It didn’t matter whether we had legitimate reasons for refusing to jump on the Obama bandwagon that had nothing to do with race. An accusation of racism is extremely powerful and they knew what they were doing.

There are a few other trigger words that will get you auto-moderated. I leave discovery as an exercise for the reader. Banning the words doesn’t mean you can’t discuss the issue here. It’s just that taking specific words out of the comments section meant that no one can take the easy way out. You can’t just come here, poop in the punchbowl, and leave thinking you’ve done your job putting the old, uneducated working class Roseanne Barrs who flock here (your perception, not mine) in their place. You know, drop the late consensus reality shaping meme, use the buzzword du jour, put mean spirited peer pressure on these people and watch as they all come groveling back to your side. Nah-gah-happen. We didn’t get to 52,000+ page hits per day during the height of the nauseatingly brutal 2008 campaign season because we took the easy way out and ate our poisoned mushrooms so we would fall into line like TalkLeft and Taylor Marsh and The Left Coaster and Digby’s Hullabaloo. No, we watched what was happening, were thoroughly horrified and took it without flinching. 

As time went on, and the insults and aggression piled on, I became even less likely to vote for Obama. So, there, guys (and you were almost all guys). Good job. You pointed out to me that there was almost no level of offense or character assassination that Obama would not sanction. It spoke volumes about who was supporting him and what he was prepared to overlook in the future.

So, now we come to the topic of the day. This is a debate I have been having with Monster of the Id, who I dearly love and have no intention of banning. It’s about the word “hawk” and why it is always applied to Hillary Clinton.

It has become another one of those words. I am getting ready to auto-moderate comments featuring the word. As stated before, you can argue all you want that Hillary is the biggest supporter of the military industrial complex on the planet. But you’re going to have to show your work. You will not be able to just fling that word around willy nilly because that’s what everyone is saying about her.

Let’s recognize this word for what it is. It’s a mental shortcut that bears little resemblance to actual reality. Here’s my latest comment to Monster after he tried, once again, to explain his ambivalence towards Clinton due to her perceived “hawkishness”:

You’re missing the point. You can vote for whoever you damn well please. For all we know, Arkansas will go D in 2016, or Green or Commie. You don’t know what will happen and I don’t either.

The point is, don’t make up your mind based on the consensus reality of your side. That’s what the left did in 2008 and look who got elected? Was Obama the liberal messiah the left wanted? It fell for the whisperings and mental maneuverings and dogwhistles of the Wormtongues.

Wormtongue says that Hillary is a “hawk”. Oh really? In what way is she a hawk? What does it mean to be a hawk? What are the qualities of a hawk? How many military engagements does a person have to vote for in order to get this designation? Why isn’t John Kerry also called a hawk? Is Hillary more or less of a hawk than John Kerry or John Edwards? To what degree? Is she more or less a hawk than Lindsay Graham?

I only ask.

That’s the problem. Too few people on the left ask. They just accept. Well, someone on the left must have studied the problem, some Juan Cole person must have dug up the records and figured it out. There is no doubt in their minds that Hillary is a hawk, based on some criteria, right? Some authority figure who the left trusts did the math.
But what if no one on the left actually did?

What if it’s just a clever earworm planted there by someone with less than honorable intentions? How would you know?

Consistency is key.

Don’t try to get out of the dilemma you’re in by claiming that your vote doesn’t count or making light of it. What counts is whether everyone has an honest, consistent, unobstructed, unfiltered view of the candidate without shortcuts that terminate the thought process with facile categorization.

If she ends up wanting after you have discarded the shortcuts, fine, at least you will have done your job. But don’t cop out and tell me you can’t trust yourself to make those calls on your own.

The left bungled it badly in 2008 because it didn’t bother to do its own thinking. It became as gullibly pliable as the stupid hicks on the right that it always insists are the authoritarian followers who will swallow any moronic, self-defeating message their right wing leaders throw out there. We Conflucians watched as previously smart people on the left fell for love bombing and conversion diaries, peer pressure and trigger words. They did not distinguish themselves.

Don’t let it happen again.

Like I said, you can vote for whoever fills out your dance card. Make a matrix, put the names of the candidates on the Y axis and the issues you care about on the X axis. Check off the boxes, based on what you hear directly from the candidates or have read about from the most neutral sources you can find. Then, vote for the person who gets the most checks on the grid.

One thing I will predict right now: you’re going to have to figure out what the definition of hawk really means before you check that box for Hillary.

Wormtongues

I read with dismay yet another stupid story in the NYTimes about Hillary Clinton this morning. It’s going to be a long 18 months.

This time, it was about how progressives are pressuring her to kiss their asses. I wonder why she is even bothering at this point to give them any attention at all. They’re never going to like her, trust her, believe her, even if she really is the best thing they’ve got right now. They can’t see her for what she is and can’t appreciate what she’s got to offer them. It’s almost as if they’re under some kind of spell:

If you ever wondered what happened to Wormtongue, he left Meduseld “to spend more time with his family” and went to work for the NYTimes after working for a marketing research firm on Wall Street in 2008.

This sentence cracks me up:

Mrs. Clinton cheerily welcomed Mr. Sanders into the race, even as she works to deny Mr. Sanders or any other liberal an issue on which to bloody her from the left.

Are you serious? Sanders entering the race is the best thing that could have happened to Clinton. Now, there is another credible person on the left. Sanders is passionate, he speaks well, he’s rational. He doesn’t have the air of dweeb about him like Kucinich and he doesn’t come off as being an unrealistic “knit your own sandals” type who is going to make us eat a raw vegan diet with a heavy emphasis on organic beets. His concern is primarily about the very real erosion of the standard of living of most working Americans today.

He adds weight to the left side of the field. The longer he stays in the race, the better for Clinton. That means it won’t be six silly nobodies trying to out-mean each other on the right sucking all of the air out of the room and one woman defending the left all by herself. It means that issues might actually get discussed that aren’t all on the ultra conservative right. It means she won’t have to be so defensive. It means there will be a clear difference between the two political sides.

Damn straight she’s cheery.

Duh.

But the left is convinced that she’s with the enemy. In a way, I kinda understand it. They were completely taken in by Wormtongue in 2008. That was a disaster.

Still, the real enemies have almost won. It’s bad out here. And here the left is, sitting in its golden hall, lapsing into a coma like some crusty old dude enchanted by some evil wizards. Utterly feckless and hostile to the people who are begging it to get its act together and fight back. It’s almost like someone doesn’t want people with a common cause to become allies…

Suit yourselves. I’m going with the white haired guy and the blonde lady.

Forth Eorlingas!

Yard Work

IMG_2023The weather was awesome yesterday so I and one of my younger cousins spent the day outdoors cleaning up leaves and mowing and trimming hedges and all that fun stuff.

And then we went to the Oakmont Bakery to get a sugar rush from pistachio macarons and donuts.

On the job front, I have a temp position with regular hours but still no bennies. It’s great, except for the no bennies thing, and the fact that it’s going to end in about a month when the permanent employee returns. I like the floor I’m on. There are enough toys to assuage the gadget fiend in me. Plus, once I got behind the wheel again, the computer skills all came back within a couple of hours. The job is not in the computational chemistry field but I could live with it. It’s also on a collaboration floor. I do the team thing pretty well but the floor concept is new to me. BUT, it’s still just a temp job, which sucks. And the pay is just a little bit less than it would take to make me relatively stress free. So, there’s that. I’m still in job search mode. If you had told me two years ago that I would still be looking for a job like this, I would have called you crazy. It’s beyond exasperating.

As for Hilary’s announcement, you’ll find out more about my attitudes towards that pretty soon from a different source. Bottom line: her announcement video showed people in a more positive stage in their lives than me. I’m not feeling it yet, specifically because of the struggle I have faced to find a new job. Clinton may be leading us there but I’m not anywhere near being in the mood. The country has not come out of “tough economic times” yet.

Will I support her? Yes. And here is the reason: if I were a hiring manager and I got a dozen CV’s from people like Clinton, Christie, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, even Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton would be far and away the leading finalist for the job. She’s got the most experience, in the most areas, she has a network of associates she can call on for assistance to push her agenda, she’s got a mentor and she’s passionate about policy. No other candidate in the field is going to come close. And what all those attributes give her is a measure of independence that the other candidates will not have. Think about that for awhile and it will make sense. It also means there will be a lot of people, in both parties, who will not like for her to get the nomination because she won’t be so easy to control.

Just because she’s the best the country has doesn’t mean it’s going to be a cakewalk.

Ok, there’s one other thing I want to talk about. It’s about the PUMAs. I see no reason to run away from the fact that we were PUMAs in 2008. That just stood for Party Unity My Ass and it was our way of protesting how the DNC took the money from Obama’s donors, rewrote the primary campaign rules, disenfranchised 18000000 of us and then told us to get behind the ruthlessly ambitious, inexperienced shmoozer who became the party’s nominee or risk being called an ignorant, uneducated, old, bitter racist. Oh, HELL no. I was not going along with that program and I’m shocked that any loyal Democrat would give up their vote just to protect themselves from vicious group peer pressure. It was wrong then and it’s wrong now.

But the PUMA groups went their separate ways after the election. If I were being honest, I would say we started going our separate ways in October of 2008 when I sensed that some PUMA groups were so angry that they were willing to go beyond a protest vote. In the aftermath of the election, the rift between us and the other PUMAs became more pronounced. We evolved but stuck pretty closely to our credo. They went the Tea Party route. It’s safe to say that we haven’t had any contact with other PUMAs since the early part of 2009. We aren’t BFFs, we don’t Facebook, we don’t belong to some super special sauce email group. If there is a widespread belief out there that that’s what’s going on with us and the PUMAs, let me dispel it now.

Nevertheless, that’s who we were and there’s no point in hiding it. It’s possible that the PUMAs on this blog had a different concept of what that term meant than other PUMA groups. It’s safe to say that some operatives on the right saw a certain segment of PUMAs as potential converts. That didn’t include US. As far as we were concerned, the concept had lost its usefulness and it was time to move beyond that. I only regret that I didn’t spend more time organizing some kind of umbrella group that would have been a more effective promoter of behaviors we would have liked to have seen in our elected officials. We should have had something to counteract the Tea Party. Instead, we left a vacuum. And that’s not good.

So, there you have it. There will probably be more to say later in the week. But right now, I am focussing on work. It’s the most important thing on my mind right now.

And mulch.

 

 

What I want to hear from Hillary if she decides to run

1.) That it is immoral for the finance industry or any industry to engage in exploitative profit mining of Americans.

2.) That the definition of success is more than how much money you make. That there is intrinsic value to many occupations that has nothing to do with the ability to exploit one’s neighbors or accumulating a hoard of cash that doesn’t serve the public good.

3.) Infrastructure in the United States requires immediate attention. That means broadband, highways and bridges, and mass transit.

4.) That retirement for most Americans is going to be a crisis situation and she plans to address the 401K ponzi scheme with expanded Social Security.

5.) That we don’t know at what temperature the earth will find its melting point so it is important to evolve away from fossil fuels.

6.) That it is more important to “Have courage and be kind” than invade other countries and cruelly kick people when they’re down.

7.) That truly good Christians do not delight in the misfortunes of others, are not proud, and don’t sound like clanging gongs when they insist on their “religious freedoms” at the expense of others.

Add what you want to hear in the comments below.

Disgusting (but not surprising) if true: Valerie Jarret allegedly leaked email scandal.

Consider the source. It’s the NYPost. Here’s the blurb:

Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett leaked to the press details of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail address during her time as secretary of state, sources tell me.

But she did so through people outside the ­administration, so the story couldn’t be traced to her or the White House.

In addition, at Jarrett’s behest, the State Department was ordered to launch a series of investigations into Hillary’s conduct at Foggy Bottom, including the use of her expense account, the disbursement of funds, her contact with foreign leaders and her possible collusion with the Clinton Foundation.

Six separate probes into Hillary’s performance have been ­going on at the State Department. I’m told that the e-mail scandal was timed to come out just as Hillary was on the verge of formally announcing that she was running for president — and that there’s more to come.

Like I said, this might all be made up. I’ll wait to see confirmation.

Setting aside the animosity and rancor that the Obama campaign generated by its scorched earth tactics against Hillary in 2008 (Accusations of racism and skin darkening photos anyone? How about the classy photo of Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau groping the breast of a life-size Hillary cutout?), we have to remember that Obama was funded by Wall Street. When Wall Street had to pick a candidate to support to ensure that it suffered none of the consequences for its reckless behavior, it picked Obama, not Hillary.

One was rehab and the other was an enabler. In the years since, I haven’t seen Wall Street making amends, have you? It still might control the horizontal and the vertical.

So, while I have no reason to believe this NYPost story (yet), let’s just say that nothing would surprise me at this point.

And in retrospect, it was probably wise for Hillary to put her emails on a private server. Some of us can’t trust our bosses to not snoop even at the highest levels of power.

More from the article. This part is totally unbelievable, as in, it can’t possibly be true that anyone actually said this with a straight face:

With his wife and Jarrett looking on, Obama made it clear that he intended to stay neutral in the presidential primary process — a clear signal that he wouldn’t mind if someone challenged Hillary for the nomination.

“Obama and Valerie Jarrett will go to any lengths to prevent Hillary from becoming president,” a source close to the White House told me. “They believe that Hillary, like her husband, is left of center, not a true-blue liberal.”

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! {{short breath}} LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!

Who is this “source close to the White House” and who do they think is their target audience? That’s the stupidest thing I have read in years. Only an Obot would believe that Obama is more true-blue than Hillary and only a Tea Party person would think that Obama is liberal at all. Is this source targeting aspirational Democrats with a latent conservative leaning that they keep in the closet or are they targeting people who read the NYPost?

Jeez, she hasn’t even announced she’s running yet and the party is already in full swing.

Fun, fun! Let the games begin!

Here we go again with the old, stupid analysis of the 2008 campaign

The NYTimes has a piece up about Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s new data guru.

Woah! Hillary hired a data guru?? This changes EVERYTHING. Wow, if she had only had this dude back in 2008, the whole campaign would have been different! He’s a game changer. He likes “social media”. That’s something new to the Clintons. Her supporters, you know, those old, uneducated, working class, mouth breathers have probably never even heard of twitter and Facebook and sophisticated stuff like that.

{{snicker!}}

Either the NYTimes is setting out to deliberately insult us and the Clinton campaign or it really believes that Barack Obama “won” the nomination due to his technological superpowers.

There is nothing wrong with bringing in new consultants and if Robby Mook can bring something special to the table by his mastery of SpotFire and other data analytical tools, more power to him.

But, please, let us dispense with the notion of Barack Obama “winning” through advanced and sophisticated use of data. That is not what happened. No, Obama “won” because a flood of money was pumped into the coffers of the Democratic party in February 2008 from a bunch of sophisticated wealthy donors on Wall Street and probably a good many of them were country club Republicans who were more than happy to flirt with the other side in order to avoid financial disaster that they knew was coming. They used that money to buy off super delegates, many of whom were running for office. The party put pressure on everyone to turn away from the Clintons.

Hillary was winning handily in February of that year. Her only problem at that time was that the party deliberately withheld her wins in Florida and Michigan in order to make it look like a tight race and that Barack Obama was starting to overtake her.

It was a matter of managed perceptions. That’s all. The use of data did not help Barack Obama in California, Florida, Michigan (where he wasn’t even on the ballot), Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Texas, blah, blah, blah, ad nauseum. He lost those states, sometimes by significant margins. Obama didn’t win any of these big Democratic states with the exception of, what? Illinois? He won places like Utah. OoooOOOooo! So much data to sift through in Utah. Indeed, the biggest scandal involving the Clintons was how they were betrayed by their own party in 2008.

As for the general election, Obama’s only real triumph was that he successfully ran against Sarah Palin.

Ta-da!

Can we just stop with these silly hagiographic legends of Obama’s strategic intelligence already?? Clinton’s contingent wasn’t old or unsophisticated. Oh, look! I can install, manage and use WordPress! I have a twitter account! I hate Facebook for many reasons but I know how users are manipulated on it. Indeed, I know how DailyKos was turned into a giant focus group for people like Robby Mook to data mine. There are many, many Clinton supporters who know how to use a computer, tablet, smart phone, etc. How does that make me different from an Obot except I actually know when I’m being manipulated?

It’s not that I’m irritated, frustrated or offended by the constant mischaracterization of Clinton’s contingent. It’s that this narrative of old, unsophisticated and technologically behind Clinton overlooks the reason why she was winning so many states and had such a devoted, dedicated following. What the media missed in 2008 was that Hillary Clinton came into her own in 2008. She started off tentatively, relying too heavily on Mark Penn’s own version of data analytics, but became burnished by the fire of being the perceived underdog whether that was true or not.

We saw her fight in the rain, on the back of flatbed trucks, through the heckles of “why won’t she quit??” and “brush the dirt of my shoulders” and “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one” and she kept on going and going like the Energizer Bunny. Adversity made her amazing. She was the one everyone wanted precisely because she wasn’t bought and paid for and gently carried over the finish line.

Data did not make Barack Obama a great politician. It didn’t even help him win. Take away the giant Charlotte’s Web that was paid for by America’s Most Wanted and you have an inexperienced, ruthlessly ambitious guy who has proven to be out of his depth, just as we predicted he would be.

So, it’s great to see Robby Mook join the throng. I hope he is as tirelessly devoted to her as she deserves and doesn’t, you know, sell her donors’ list to the highest bidder. Just do your job, Robby, and do it well. She is more than capable of doing the rest.

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