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the captain
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« on: October 21, 2015, 04:26:35 PM »

Hey look, it's me! The Captain! Luther! f*** yeah! This is another stupid thread that is the sort of thing I find endlessly fascinating. Anyone with even close to a fraction of similar interest may wish to participate. Here we go--this is the thread. Like, starting ... NOW.

Some people are born and raised into a political viewpoint. Many evolve over time, maybe through formal education, maybe through the education of real life, maybe (hopefully?) both. It's pretty obvious roughly where many people who participate in the assorted political threads place themselves, issues-wise. It's somewhat clear in many cases where they fall, philosophy-wise. What I wonder is, how did you all get to where you are? If you're so inclined, I'm really interested to hear about where you've been, how you've evolved, why, when, and so on.

If I may have some thread-starter's privilege, I'd ask that you keep the sermonizing to a bare minimum (ideally zero). I encourage Q&A for anyone comfortable with such a thing, but keep that nice and respectful, too. Maybe start from the idea that nobody's political philosophy is based evil, for example--that everyone has good intentions, even if [you think] they're mistaken in their approach.

I'm going to get good and drunk right now, but hopefully someone else will pick up the ball and run with it. Tell your political stories. I'll check back a little later and tell a most likely incoherent version of my own little uninteresting story. (I know, you'd think if I wanted this thread, I'd have some fabulous story. But I don't. Not at all. But I'm seriously interested in yours, even if you think it's dull.)
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« Reply #1 on: October 21, 2015, 05:47:06 PM »

I remember hearing a news story come over the radio when I was younger and riding in the car with my Midwestern father. It was about a pill that could be taken to prevent HIV/AIDS. I saw this as a positive: it could save thousands of lives and prevent against incredible amounts of suffering for potential HIV/AIDS patients. My father, however, viewed this as something that would enable homosexual men to continue to have unprotected sex, and therefore as something that would not be positive. I made a point to say that not only homosexuals that are susceptible to the disease, but that didn't seem to have any effect. I remember not being able to understand how he could possibly have this idea... one so different than mine--the opposite, really. He identifies as an "independent," but he listens to conservative news radio programs and watches Fox News. Whenever I see him, I'm always confronted with these voices that I never agree with. I think most of my political views are defined by my continual disagreeing with my father and his views. Sometimes, in the Sandbox, I feel like I'm arguing with him.
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the captain
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« Reply #2 on: October 21, 2015, 06:58:17 PM »

First, I grew up in a time and place when and where the norm--not the exception--was the most virulent expression of what Bubbly Waves describes as coming from his father. Add the most hateful versions of that kind of thought, and that was, like, Tuesday at school. That's how people talked. All the time. Moderates were "OK with queers, as long as they don't try anything on me." This was then, there.

But more directly on topic: I have nothing definitive to add to this thread that I started (and am hoping to read more in). I really feel like--maybe 15 years into my increasing political interest and consciousness--I'm just beginning to learn about the history of political philosophies. Maybe one of the biggest awakenings for me has been the separation of American cliches and reality. Republicans don't have sh*t to do with conservatism, Democrats don't have sh*t to do with liberalism, and while the parties may be two sides of the same coin, the economy has a more diverse currency than that one coin. As I keep thinking, I also separate political philosophy from actual positions on issues, as it seems to me the former is mostly a way of thinking through a problem, not the outcome itself. I also increasingly separate positions from the political process: one can be extremist but believe in or at least accept compromise as an outcome.

Hopefully I'll think of something more interesting to say as others post.
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« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2015, 07:56:54 PM »

Essay question. But entertaining. Will contribute demain.
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« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2015, 08:56:48 PM »

Republicans don't have sh*t to do with conservatism, Democrats don't have sh*t to do with liberalism

This is something that has always confused me. Where do democrats end and where do liberals begin? Same for republicans and conservatives. Are they different political parties? Why are they always grouped together as liberal=democrats and conservatives=republicans. Are there differences? The words seem to be used interchangeably. If there are liberal republicans, why do you never hear about them? Why does each side lean towards one or the other? It seems the parties are called Democratic or Republican, but individuals are called liberals or conservatives. Has it always been this way? When was the shift towards this new way of categorizing? Why did it happen?

That's probably a lot of questions (and I have even more), but it really is something I don't fully understand.
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« Reply #5 on: October 21, 2015, 09:06:39 PM »

Well, I define liberalism much in the same way it was defined back in the colonial era - free markets, individual liberty, limited government, maximum freedom for maximum people. Sadly, a century ago, the enemies of liberalism co-opted the term and distorted it to describe themselves. Hence why classical liberals identify as libertarians (or, in my case, as a free market anarchist).

As far as the political party situation goes, both parties end up becoming ideological melting pots; people who tend more "liberal" in the modern sense end up being Democrats and those who tend more "conservative" end up being Republicans. Part of that has to do with the lack of viable third parties in this country. A third-party candidate is seen either as a spoiler or a "wasted vote." Granted, it's not 100% black or white and there are always anomalies - you get guys like Ron Paul who was more fiscally conservative and socially libertarian than nearly all of his fellow Republicans or guys like Bernie Sanders, who is more fiscally liberal and socially libertarian than nearly all of his fellow Democrats. It's just one of those things. It's hard to explain in a few sentences.
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« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2015, 04:46:39 AM »

Bubbly Waves -- really good questions, and actually exactly the sorts of questions I started having after college (because nobody covered such things in my formal schooling, maybe because I didn't take courses in political science or political history, maybe because our education system is questionable). It's endlessly fascinating stuff, too.

TRBB did a good job summarizing it, really, but I do have more I want to say about it. Alas, I'm off to work. When I get home today, if the points haven't been covered by then, I'll write more.
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« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2015, 06:14:12 AM »

Well, I grew up in a family of Labor supporters, who in every election voted for the Labor Party. I didn't really care much about Politics until relatively recently, and it really wasn't until around last year that I began to develop an interest for it. At first, I didn't hold a firm position, at different times supporting right wing and left wing views. Lately, I've drifted firmly towards the left, as I found that I generally hold left-wing views. I've always been a staunch anti-communist though, as well as the extreme right (really, both far left and far right aren't any good at all, to put it mildly). Two of my greatest political admirers are Gough Whitlam and Paul Keating, the former for reforming the Labor Party and completely changing and modernising Australia in the (slightly less than) three years he was in power; and the latter for his political integrity, the long-term benefits of his work as Treasurer, and of course for his wit and devastating insults. These days, I very much enjoy studying about political history - on both sides of the political spectrum.
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« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2015, 06:25:12 AM »

The older I get, the more I realize that neither party is 100% right.  If you ask me, the two party system is broken. 

When Obama was first elected in 2008, he preached bipartisanship and both parties working together.  But, all he's done is create a wider divide between the two parties, and set race relations back 50+ years. 
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« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2015, 06:54:51 AM »

Obama is the result of a feels-based electorate wanting "not another Dubya" and what they got was Dubya on steroids.
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« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2015, 06:58:16 AM »

feels-based electorate

One of the biggest dangers (and sadly omnipresent realities) of democracy.
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« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2015, 06:50:46 PM »

Republicans don't have sh*t to do with conservatism, Democrats don't have sh*t to do with liberalism

This is something that has always confused me. Where do democrats end and where do liberals begin? Same for republicans and conservatives. Are they different political parties? Why are they always grouped together as liberal=democrats and conservatives=republicans. Are there differences? The words seem to be used interchangeably. If there are liberal republicans, why do you never hear about them? Why does each side lean towards one or the other? It seems the parties are called Democratic or Republican, but individuals are called liberals or conservatives. Has it always been this way? When was the shift towards this new way of categorizing? Why did it happen?

That's probably a lot of questions (and I have even more), but it really is something I don't fully understand.

As I said this morning, I want to try to address some of these questions, in large part because I've in recent years...or decades (as I became interested enough to look into such things) wondered the same. I'm sure some people here--The Real Beach Boy, to name one, who really seems to know his political history--can supplement or correct what I say.

Before anything else, I think we need to understand that political parties don't necessarily correlate to political philosophies. Yes, at any given time, a party leans toward a philosophy. And yes, the parties are often happy to use philosophies as credentials for themselves (Romney's "I'm a severe conservative") or an insult ("liberal" from the late '80s until ... well, Elizabeth Warren? That word was not widely used, and frankly still is not widely used.). Political parties are, in my opinion, something not entirely unlike a mafia. They are organizations that absolutely may do good things, but the point of their existence is furthering their existence. Their members are expected to further the existence of the party. Sure, the party has a platform ... and it's based on raising funds for and continuing the power of the party. A quick perusal of stories on the reality of our elected officials and the amount of time they spend fundraising--for themselves and for their party--says it all.

Now, let's talk about some key political philosophies. I'm going to use the book "Political Ideologies: An Introduction," by Andrew Heywood, for this. (Quotes, unless noted otherwise, are from that.) And before I give details, let's be clear: (as TRBB said) some of these terms have changed their popular meanings. I personally go back and forth between trying to stick with the original meaning, and going with the modern understanding. I'll just try to explain things here, and we can go from there.

Liberalism. By the early-mid 1800s, this term meant "a commitment to the individual and the desire to construct a society in which people can satisfy their interests and achieve fulfillment." I think everyone here would agree that Western civilization is overwhelmingly--for centuries now--the product of that sort of "classical" liberalism. It is based on individuals' rights to pursue their own interests without government intervention.

Conservatism. Core themes include exactly what the word itself says: conserving (what is). Respecting traditions, understanding the complexity of society and hesitating to make drastic changes because of the potential for unintended consequences, a belief in hierarchy and authority, and respect for property rights.

Let's stop there: does any of that sound familiar to you, as you think about Republicans and Democrats? Maybe. There are hints and shadows. But as you'd guess, things have changed.

Through the 19th century, a segment of liberals began thinking that classical liberalism left the less fortunate behind. T.H. Green (1836-82) proposed that "negative freedom acknowledges only legal and physical constraints on liberty, [but] positive freedom recognizes that liberty may also be threatened by social disadvantage and liberty." A further step--social liberalism--built on that idea, that government could help create an equality of opportunity, through the modern welfare state. We get into Progressivism here.

In the 20th century, conservatism birthed factions of neoliberalism (classical liberals, basically, like libertarians) and neoconservatives (more traditional conservatives emphasizing order, authority, discipline).

A few other "isms" we hear about from time to time, though less than the above. In all cases, both above and below, keep in mind that we debate constantly what counts as rock n roll, what is the boundary of some other genre. The same thing applies here. Nobody agrees on what exactly any designation means, or at least where the boundaries are.

Capitalism: a system where wealth is owned by private individuals and goods are produced for exchange according to dictates of the market.

Communism: system of common ownership of wealth, comprehensive collectivization.

Social democracy: brand of socialism balancing the market and the state (rather than abolition of capitalism)

Socialism: opposes capitalism, viewing humans as social creatures, preferring cooperation to competition, and emphasizing equality.

This is all just quick summary, and I hope nobody takes it TOO seriously. Read up. But the point is, you can get a basic idea of these philosophies and realize nobody mentioned abortion, the armed forces, homosexuality, taxes, guns, schools, unions... Political philosophies are ways of thinking, not talking points.

Throughout history, the current major parties have had leanings that go all over the place. You had conservative Democrats (and still do, in a sense, especially in the South--or even with Jim Webb, who just left the Democratic primary). You had liberal Republicans, often known as "Rockefeller Republicans" in the 20th century. There is a myth that Democrats are liberal and Republicans are conservative, but it is, and always has been, a myth.

Most of what the parties blabber about is nonsense. But it isn't (modern/progressive) liberal and conservative down the line. It just isn't. And maybe more importantly, there are many other ideas beyond those two the parties babble about. Political ideas have more than two dimensions. It's an artificial system we have that pretends two parties are the two philosophies.

This rambled. I took forever. I ate dinner. Whatever I got wrong, I hope someone corrects or supplements. But I do hope that helps answer your questions, Bubbly Waves. Or at least raise new ones.
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« Reply #12 on: October 25, 2015, 11:22:35 AM »

I grew up in a house where you didn't vote straight ticket, you voted for whomever you thought would do the best job.

As a teen, I hated Republicans. Mostly for 2 reasons; the Gulf War, and the fact that in the early 80's (I'm 40, so I was just a little kid then) I was scared to death of being in a nuclear war with Russia. As I got into my teens, I came to the conclusion that Ronald Reagan was to blame for that, because he was president in the early 80's. Now, I'm not here to discuss whether or not that line of thinking was right or wrong, I'm just speaking from the mindset of a 16 year old kid.

Anymore, I'm confused. There's one part of me that, as I get older, my views seem to get a bit more conservative. At the same time, there are many things that I feel liberalism has to offer. The bottom line is, I still try to go with who I think would do the best job. The problem is, there isn't anyone.
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« Reply #13 on: October 25, 2015, 03:03:50 PM »

As a side note, Captain; sad stuff about Flip. He came to Detroit and did a pretty good job. Always seemed like a stand up guy.
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« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2015, 06:14:20 AM »

Conservatism. Core themes include exactly what the word itself says: conserving (what is). Respecting traditions, understanding the complexity of society and hesitating to make drastic changes because of the potential for unintended consequences, a belief in hierarchy and authority, and respect for property rights.

Conservatism is doing what is right -- cuz Conservatives believe people know what is right.  Doesn't mean they always do right.  Half the class usually walks out right there...  But it's true.  A lot of people call themselves Conservatives, but they tend to be Politicians.  But it's about doing what is right.  What else could have guided the founders to arrive at the US Constitution but a desire to do right, just as one example of what I mean.  Nothing about the goals of the founders was to do wrong.

Regarding government-systems -- Conservatives feel the debate was already properly had.  See:  Constitution.  The only thing left is to make sure it is applied to everybody -- consistently, all the time.  And that's the battle.  Consistently and all the time.

Power lies with the people. People will decide (eventually) to do the right thing.  And power trickles up from there.  By the time you get to the top of the pyramid... the Feds should only concern themselves with making sure no one usurps this process.  Defend the nation from enemies foreign and domestic.  And an enemy is anybody who is afraid of the process of letting the people decide.

There are exceptions and they are a common morality.

Liberalism. By the early-mid 1800s, this term meant "a commitment to the individual and the desire to construct a society in which people can satisfy their interests and achieve fulfillment." I think everyone here would agree that Western civilization is overwhelmingly--for centuries now--the product of that sort of "classical" liberalism. It is based on individuals' rights to pursue their own interests without government intervention.

Liberals believe they know what is right and they do not give a damn about the process.  Liberals do not listen, and everyone will just have to shut up or get their mind right.  They are not classical liberals... they're classical Progressives.  And there's no progress on the menu.  Progress is only defined as progressing towards their goals and world-view.  And their goals and world-view always seem to have an element of "purity" in them.  Purity (as defined by them) is the theme you'll find if you look deeply enough at what Liberals (actually Progressives) want to achieve.  Give me a Leftist cause -- and I'll show you its Progressive Goal of Purity.

True liberalism -- as in:  freedom and liberty, live-your-life, do-want-you-want-to-do, or creating communities of shared beliefs (utopias) -- that can only be found within what Conservatives believe.  Power is with the people, that's the process.  States decide over the Fed. Counties, then towns, reign over them.  And finally... family units and the individual reign the most supreme in deciding what is right for them.  There can and should be exceptions, but very few, as mentioned.



None of what I wrote is being taught, by the way.  As is often the case, the opposite is taught:  Conservatives are haters and Liberals are lovers.  That's the meme.  You know it and I know it.  But everything I said is true regardless of that meme.  And nothing will change that.

As for political parties, meh.  Don't waste the ink.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 06:28:03 AM by Bean Bag » Logged

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« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2015, 02:33:25 PM »

Edit: for courtesy. Instead:

Verlander -- sad news about Flip, indeed. He wasn't exactly a legend around here, but he certainly was a respected figure in the basketball community. An Ohio kid, but he's lived here at least part time since his freshman year of college, back in the '70s. And by all accounts, just a good guy. I worry about how it affects the Wolves, but then I feel bad even putting that spin on it.

Regarding your political origins, interesting stuff.
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« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2015, 03:13:26 PM »

Conservatism. Core themes include exactly what the word itself says: conserving (what is). Respecting traditions, understanding the complexity of society and hesitating to make drastic changes because of the potential for unintended consequences, a belief in hierarchy and authority, and respect for property rights.

Conservatism is doing what is right -- cuz Conservatives believe people know what is right.  Doesn't mean they always do right.  Half the class usually walks out right there...  But it's true.  A lot of people call themselves Conservatives, but they tend to be Politicians.  But it's about doing what is right.  What else could have guided the founders to arrive at the US Constitution but a desire to do right, just as one example of what I mean.  Nothing about the goals of the founders was to do wrong.

Regarding government-systems -- Conservatives feel the debate was already properly had.  See:  Constitution.  The only thing left is to make sure it is applied to everybody -- consistently, all the time.  And that's the battle.  Consistently and all the time.

Power lies with the people. People will decide (eventually) to do the right thing.  And power trickles up from there.  By the time you get to the top of the pyramid... the Feds should only concern themselves with making sure no one usurps this process.  Defend the nation from enemies foreign and domestic.  And an enemy is anybody who is afraid of the process of letting the people decide.

There are exceptions and they are a common morality.

Liberalism. By the early-mid 1800s, this term meant "a commitment to the individual and the desire to construct a society in which people can satisfy their interests and achieve fulfillment." I think everyone here would agree that Western civilization is overwhelmingly--for centuries now--the product of that sort of "classical" liberalism. It is based on individuals' rights to pursue their own interests without government intervention.

Liberals believe they know what is right and they do not give a damn about the process.  Liberals do not listen, and everyone will just have to shut up or get their mind right.  They are not classical liberals... they're classical Progressives.  And there's no progress on the menu.  Progress is only defined as progressing towards their goals and world-view.  And their goals and world-view always seem to have an element of "purity" in them.  Purity (as defined by them) is the theme you'll find if you look deeply enough at what Liberals (actually Progressives) want to achieve.  Give me a Leftist cause -- and I'll show you its Progressive Goal of Purity.

True liberalism -- as in:  freedom and liberty, live-your-life, do-want-you-want-to-do, or creating communities of shared beliefs (utopias) -- that can only be found within what Conservatives believe.  Power is with the people, that's the process.  States decide over the Fed. Counties, then towns, reign over them.  And finally... family units and the individual reign the most supreme in deciding what is right for them.  There can and should be exceptions, but very few, as mentioned.



None of what I wrote is being taught, by the way.  As is often the case, the opposite is taught:  Conservatives are haters and Liberals are lovers.  That's the meme.  You know it and I know it.  But everything I said is true regardless of that meme.  And nothing will change that.

As for political parties, meh.  Don't waste the ink.

This is garbage.
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« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2015, 03:35:21 PM »

Hope some of the info I posted was helpful to your questions, Bubbly Waves.

(By the way, I struggle not to write "Bubbs," at which point I hear the voice of the character Ricky talking to Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys.)
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« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2015, 03:37:04 PM »

Can we have a trailer park boys thread? Razz
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« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2015, 03:37:51 PM »

Presumably it's possible.
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« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2015, 03:39:42 PM »

Hope some of the info I posted was helpful to your questions, Bubbly Waves.

(By the way, I struggle not to write "Bubbs," at which point I hear the voice of the character Ricky talking to Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys.)

Yeah, you and TRBB were both helpful.
I still have questions, of course, but I'll do some looking into it on my own.
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« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2015, 03:48:35 PM »

Great. And definitely look into it on your own.
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« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2015, 06:00:01 PM »

Throughout history, the current major parties have had leanings that go all over the place. You had conservative Democrats (and still do, in a sense, especially in the South--or even with Jim Webb, who just left the Democratic primary). You had liberal Republicans, often known as "Rockefeller Republicans" in the 20th century. There is a myth that Democrats are liberal and Republicans are conservative, but it is, and always has been, a myth.

Most of what the parties blabber about is nonsense. But it isn't (modern/progressive) liberal and conservative down the line. It just isn't. And maybe more importantly, there are many other ideas beyond those two the parties babble about. Political ideas have more than two dimensions. It's an artificial system we have that pretends two parties are the two philosophies.

This rambled. I took forever. I ate dinner. Whatever I got wrong, I hope someone corrects or supplements. But I do hope that helps answer your questions, Bubbly Waves. Or at least raise new ones.

You are making a good point here. I think a crucial point to keep in mind is that political philosophies have a way of being co-opted by powerful people in order to serve another kind of ideological purpose. So, for example, the Soviets used the terms communism even though the system was structured more like state capitalism, basically the same kind of economic system that predominates throughout the world now except with its own uniquely horrific tyrannical twist. The Bolsheviks were largely opposed by the mainstream Marxists at the time whom Lenin openly despised precisely because they were not adhering to traditional communist policies and in fact once a certain amount of time passed, Lenin openly and correctly referred to the Soviet economic structure as state capitalism. But the term "communism" had a particularly powerful meaning throughout Europe in the early 20th Century. The term was associated with positive and benevolent actions and so the Leninists and eventually the Stalinists co-opted the term in order to get the public to support their atrocious policies.

In a similar sense, the United States now uses the term market capitalism in order to get the public to support a system that is anything but free market. I might suggest too that in the United States the term libertarian has been emptied of its real meaning that derived from its long time association with left wing anarchism once it was taken over by a particular set of far right intellectual elites.

So with all of this, it doesn't surprise me how people end up being thoroughly confused about these terms.
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« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2015, 10:25:11 PM »

This is garbage.

Thank you.
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« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2015, 02:10:32 AM »

I wrote a wistful song once about how politically optimistic I felt as a youngster circa 1989-1997.

https://iancockburnandthewholeworld.bandcamp.com/track/i-thought-we-had-it-good
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