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    I keep reading all these major polls showing President Obama and Romney seemingly running neck-and-neck. To paraphrase comedian Lewis Black, are you fracking kidding me?!
     I don't understand why, after all the doubts and questions about Romney's sense of humanitarianism, his secrecy, his life-long removal from anything like the struggles of aaverage Americans, half the country thinks he'll move the country in any good direction. I'd like to take this opportunity to inform this half about the real direction this pair threatens to take us to, and how this could lead even to the end of the United States as we know it.
     Far from "returning" to the values of the 18th century Founding Fathers, the Republicans and the 1% want us to become 18th century France...early 18th century France, a new "ancien " regime. Imagine Romney as Louis the 16th and Ryan as Turgot, and I will describe an overview of what that society was like, and will be like again here.

    France, unlike England, was technically an absolute monarchy. Despite having local parlements, there was no elective popular body to strenuously curb excesses of power from the king. He had the right to decide where anyone would live, what anyone would read, what any class could do, or when and where to imprison you, whether you had a charge against you or not.
     This priviledge was called a "lettre de cache". The monarch had a minister draw up the arrest order, filled in the name and his signature, and sent you off to any prison of his choice for as long as he liked without telling him or her why. This happened to Voltaire and to Beaumarchais, and a  whole host of talented people, mostly for independant ideas.
     The enormous mass of the French citizenry were illiterate day laborers, beggars, mass unskilled people scraping for a tiny wage, all heavily taxed, leaving barely enough to purchase a daily loaf of bread...well, half bread, half plaster filler. Of course, with no food quality regulation there was no guarantee that your bread wasn't infested with ergot fungus or other microbes. On occasion, whole villages would go mad and commit mindless sexual violence or kill themselves. The life expectancy was about 40. For girls, that meant they had to be "plugged and planted" as soon as the first pubescent signs appeared. There was no birth control. A family had to have at least eight children in hopes that the good Lord would let two of them actually survive childhood.
     Was there a middle class? Yes, a SMALL one. There had to be excellent craftsman to make luxury goods for the overclass, educated enough to work at their craft and enjoy a moderate leisure, but this class had to be kept in the minority or else these upstarts might actually believe they could have a significant voice in government. Of course, their taxes had to be kept at a level just crippling enough to prevent them from purchasing titles or otherwise achieving a upper-class life.
     There was no national health care. Banks could do what they wanted. There was no national education. There was little or no girl's education. Even Louis the 16th's aunts, the four princess daughters of Louis the 15th, could not read or write.
     For someone like Voltaire to escape grinding poverty and be independant enough to write, he had to practice insider trading on a lottery and support piracy, commit trading fraud, and engage in usurious loans, move to Switzerland, and finally have the freedom to express himself.
     If you were a Protestant, you had to practice your faith in the closet. Every meaningful occupation was closed to this illegal practice. Protestant marriages were not valid, nor could their children legally inherit anything.
     Then Romney, I mean Louis the 16th came to the throne. This over-sheltered, undereducated young aristocrat could not make up his mind on anything. The tipping point started when he allowed France to get involved in a foreign war the country really could not afford (the American Revolution). How to pay for it? Why, taxes must be raised.
     But both the aristocracy and the church could not be taxed at all.
     Therefore, the peasants and the small middle class had to bear the cost. But that would mean the great mass of people would not even be able to afford the plaster that kept them basically ambulatory every day anymore.
     Even for the peasantry, the idea that they were to be expected to legally starve to death to continue to support la Antoinette in wigs was at last the final straw. They had literally nothing else to lose. The citizens rioted, the Bastille fell, and the rest is is lots of history.
     This is of couse a simplification with a slight tone of sarcasm that might have cropped up in there. For the United States to become a new ancien regime cannot and will not work. What took four generations to boil over in France will develop here within the next four years  once we all realize what we have done if we vote our own version of Louis the 16th in office. The idea that we can accept non-survival is ridiculous. The memory of what we once had is still too fresh to be let go obediantly. We will have riots not seen since the Civil War. If driven too far, it could mean the break-up of the United States. Like Humpty Dumpty, we will not be put back together again.

Originally posted to Audreybeardsley on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yup. (15+ / 0-)

    Those are the good old days that conservatives pine for.

    The "invisible hand" doesn't regulate the market - it wanks it. -- SantaFeMarie

    by Dinclusin on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 03:08:06 PM PDT

    •  Bad new days could be coming (0+ / 0-)

      There's a guy named Peter Turchin at the University of Connecticut who's been doing studies on just how cyclic history is. A lot of his work is hunting for correlations.  He thinks things are ready to blow.
      http://jpr.sagepub.com/...

      He likens the present situation to a lot of dry tinder building up on the forest floor.  You can't predict there will be a forest fire, but the conditions are prime for one and almost anything could set it off - a lightning strike, a careless camper, etc.

      Here's an excellent article, with nice graphs, summarizing his theory of what's probably coming. It's not good.

      http://www.nature.com/...

  •  One thing the Ancien Regime lacked was (13+ / 0-)

    the 24/7 news cycle with FOX leading the way and everyone else trying to keep up. They'll mislead the mob so that those who are causing the problems are still safe.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 03:47:02 PM PDT

  •  Yep. And the sad thing is (10+ / 0-)

    I really don't think the majority of powerful Republicans in this country even make the connection between what they are advocating and the consequences. The Koch Bros. know, all right, but I'm not sure the "true believers" really understand the consequences of their ideological follies.

    I know what Mitt Romney is hiding: Mitt Romney. equalitymaine.org

    by commonmass on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 03:54:28 PM PDT

  •  Funny -- earlier today I was thinking about... (11+ / 0-)

    ...writing a diary called Le Nouveau Ancien Regime!  I agree, lots of similarities.

    A PALINDROME: Slip-up set in Utah. Trail, no? M. Romney -- odd! Elder an AMC man, a Red-led doyen. Mormon liar that unites pupils?

    by Obama Amabo on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 04:03:14 PM PDT

  •  ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MA Liberal, chimene, raster44
    Was there a middle class? Yes, a SMALL one. There had to be excellent craftsman to make luxury goods for the overclass, educated enough to work at their craft and enjoy a moderate leisure, but this class had to be kept in the minority or else these upstarts might actually believe they could have a significant voice in government. Of course, their taxes had to be kept at a level just crippling enough to prevent them from purchasing titles or otherwise achieving a upper-class life.
    Everyone from the upper crust straight on down to the most despised members of the lower class told these people they were trying to start a class war whenever they mentioned these methods of control. Except of course, when they told them they were crazy.

    What? Too bitter?

    Poverty = politics.

    by Renee on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 04:20:41 PM PDT

  •  My dear one's ancestors on the paternal side were (6+ / 0-)

    equally middle-class Huguenots who shipped out from France just one step ahead of the King's executioner, and the Cherokee they met and mated with in the New World.

    I don't know as much about my own ancestry, but remember reading (and enjoying) The Three Musketeers while being very annoyed at the Musketeers for their attempts to stiff the saddle-makers, etc. who provided their gear.  So it is clear where my inclinations (and probably history) lie.

    "...it's difficult to imagine what else Republicans can do to drive women away in 2012, unless they decide to bring back witch-hanging. And I wouldn't put it past them." James Wolcott

    by Mayfly on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 04:25:25 PM PDT

  •  Great comparison! (3+ / 0-)

    And nice to see just how relevant those dusty pages can be.

    Le nirvane n'existe pas. - Etienne Lamotte

    by breakingranks on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 07:02:09 PM PDT

  •  This is what I've been trying to figure out. (7+ / 0-)

    Yep, nobility not taxed, or the upper class.  Yep, more taxes for everyone else.

    No information if they don't feel like giving it.

    Medical care and food are wasted on the masses.

    yep

    Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by maybeeso in michigan on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 07:25:31 PM PDT

  •  Now, where did I hear this before? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Musial

    "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."

    I wonder if the GOP really UNDERSTANDS the Constitution?

    •  only enough to project their wrongs onto the left (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Musial

      THEY are the ones the founding fathers warned us against... they look in the mirror and think they are looking at us... and push policies to defend themselves against... what? in the end not the actual dangers that they themselves support or embody.

      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie (hah...)

      by IreGyre on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 02:12:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  UC Econ Prof and former Clinton adviser . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MA Liberal

    Brad DeLong had a similar comment about this topic today.

    Worth checking out in full:

    When French politician and moral philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville published the first volume of his Democracy in America in 1835, he did so because he thought his France was in big trouble--and had lots to learn from America.

    The grab for centralized power by the absolutist Bourbon monarchs followed by the great French Revolution and Napoleon's Empire had destroyed the good parts of the French neofeudal order as well as the bad. In Tocqueville's imagination, at least, the subjects of the neofeudal order had been eager to protect their particular liberties and jealous of their spheres of independence. They had understood that they were embedded in a nationwide web of obligations, powers, responsibilities, and privileges.

    But for the Frenchman of 1835, Tocqueville thought, adopting:

    the doctrine of self-interest as the rule of his actions… [has produced] egotism… no less blind…. [W]e have destroyed an aristocracy, and we seem inclined to survey its ruins with complacency…"

  •  If they cannot afford bread... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DamselleFly

    then let them eat cake!
    Silly peasants.

    Sincerely,

    Ann Romney

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 10:50:25 PM PDT

  •  Wow! (5+ / 0-)

    I'm really impressed with your command of French period historical context.

    I really need to read up on the subject.  Please advise on a beginner text.

    What strikes me most though:

    We will have riots not seen since the Civil War. If driven too far, it could mean the break-up of the United States. Like Humpty Dumpty, we will not be put back together again.
    I've read the dire predictions of former Soviet intelligence analysts on the breakup of the US, and at the time really failed to see the basis for it.  Some felt it was just a case of sour grapes, still trying to reconcile the USSR breakup.

    What I can say today, (following the 2010 elections, and the backlash whipped up by the tea party corporatists), is that we are a seriously divided country.

    I find it deeply troubling.

    The Rmoney/Ryan strategy has been to divide and appeal to peoples deepest racial anxieties and foment them into clear racism.

    Republicans as a brand, are demographically doomed.  There is no future, and they know it.

    So rather than appeal and accomodate or moderate, they've chosen to undermine, gut voting rights, disenfranchise.

    I find it daunting that roughly half the US population is polling in favor of this ticket.

    It's the inequality, stupid.

    by Boberto on Mon Aug 27, 2012 at 11:50:57 PM PDT

    •  The French Rev (0+ / 0-)

      Boberto,
      I've recently read up on the French Revolution and from what I can see, there is no beginner text.  The French Rev was very complex.  Don't let that stop ya tho'.  There's lots on the Web (way beyond Wikipedia) so start there.  

      The French Rev was very violent and bloody, I would not want something like that again.

    •  The muti-volume series by Claude Manceron... (0+ / 0-)

      ...here is incredible! Make sure that you read it in order, and, unless you read French, that you get the English edition.

      A PALINDROME: Slip-up set in Utah. Trail, no? M. Romney -- odd! Elder an AMC man, a Red-led doyen. Mormon liar that unites pupils?

      by Obama Amabo on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 06:14:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Franken's Lying liars.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        banjolele

        I thought perhaps at first read of his book, that this quote was hyperbole:

        In… A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with the children still watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her husband and then killed her.

        That is class warfare.

        Arguing over the optimum marginal tax rate for the top one percent is not.

        The more I read about French history, the more I realize the need to understand this more.

        It's the inequality, stupid.

        by Boberto on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 07:29:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Claude Manceron, the series, in order. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Obama Amabo

        • The Age of the French Revolution, by Claude Manceron, consisting of the following five volumes:

                • Volume 1: Twilight of the Old Order, 1774-1778

                • Volume 2: The Wind from America, 1778-1781

                • Volume 3: Their Gracious Pleasure, 1782-1785

                • Volume 4: Toward the Brink, 1785-1787

                • Volume 5: Blood of the Bastille, 1787-1789

        Will be checking my local libraries for these, thanks for the tip.  :)

  •  Satire, but apocalyptic rather than revelatory. (0+ / 0-)

    Funny, but Far Out.

    Obama and strong Democratic majorities in 2012!

    by TRPChicago on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 03:36:41 AM PDT

  •  Care to read a bit more about AncienT Regimes? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerry J, Musial, banjolele, wonmug

    The whole "Apres moi le deluge -- let them eat cake" thing ain't nothing new. http://tradicionclasica.blogspot.com/... It's all about people acting like rotten children, knowing there will be no consequences for the horrors they impose on others. Like Jamie Dimon, the Kochs, probably Bashar Assad and a host of others.

    But what is this whining about Rominy going to institute "lettres de cache?" Nobody here paying attention any more? The Current Occupant and his merry men and women are holding how many of your fellow citizens in secret and not so secret prisons? Ever hear of a guy named Bradley Manning? and another host of others, remitted to rent=a=prisons in far-off Baluchistan or wherever? Patriot Act, NDAA, each little block of the Bastille walls slowly being built, how about Operation Garden Plot, http://www.topsecretwriters.com/... ? And how about that Presidential Power to kill US citizens anywhere in the world on suspicion of being a "terrorist," whoops, now they are all "militants" or "insurgents" per revisions to Executive Policy.

    "Is that all there is?" Peggy Lee.

    by jm214 on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 06:04:46 AM PDT

  •  Needs work (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jerry J

    This is one of those "that kinda reminds me of ..." articles that I rarely find persuasive. It's even less so when the details are unreliable. Ergot poisoning was never widespread and there are very, very, very few instances of villages going mad. "Lettre de cache" should be "lettre de cachet." As for Louis XVI as undereducated, we should all be so backwards: "A strong and healthy boy, but very shy, Louis-Auguste excelled in his studies and had a strong taste for Latin, history, geography, and astronomy, and became fluent in Italian and English." http://en.wikipedia.org/...
    I'm sure the author is well-meaning, but this is way too facile and error-strewn.

  •  ZOMG1!"the end of the United States as we know it" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hmi

    You win the award for most hyperbolic diary so far!

    Unfortunately, even your premise lacks no connection with reality.

    Apparently you are unaware that 70% of income taxes in this country are paid by the top 10% of earners?

    Apparently, you are also blissfully unaware (blissfully, because otherwise you could not go on these inaccurate flights of fancy like this diary) that in direct contrast to 18th century France, over 40% of the lowest income workers pay no income tax at all.

    So.. to sum up.. except for the fact that 21st Century America is exactly the opposite of 18th century France, you are absolutely correct!

  •  Somewhat different take (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Musial, hmi, wonmug

    Louis XVI's problem was that the middle class was actually large and well-established.  Louis XIV had set up a system where he raised taxes in a way that by-passed the legal feudal order - he and his successor Louis XV did not convene the estates.  It is that by-pass system that failed under Louis XVI, so he was left with no alternative but to go back to the estates for income, the first time the estates had been convened since 1614.
    But the feudal order of the estates-general was based on an agricultural economy.  The middle-class crafts, trades and industry were not really well accommodated in the system - by default, they formed part of the Third Estate, but they were the actual wealth-generators in late 18th C France.  Louis XVI and his advisers completely mismanaged the "constitutional" issues raised by the Third Estate, so the situation disintegrated there never actually was a vote on the taxes.

    γνωθι σεαυτόν

    by halef on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 08:31:59 AM PDT

  •  The Discovery of France: A Historical Geography (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gary of Austin

    by Graham Robb is an excellent book for learning about the ordinary people in France, and their everyday struggles, back in the "good old days."

    As to the breakup of the United States, let's just say it has happened before, and a lot of people, especially here in Texas and other parts of the South, wouldn't mind if it happened again.

    I'm sure that the top 10% of earners in the U.S. are incensed that they have to pay 70% of income taxes. However, according to figures I've found from the University of Santa Cruz, in a paper titled "Who Rules America?" the folks who are in the top 20% income bracket control about 90% of the wealth in the country. So I'd say things are in balance. And while the poor (the lowest 40% would be splitting the bottom 4% of the income range among themselves) may be exempt from income taxes, they still have to pay other taxes (FICA and other payroll taxes). So they aren't exactly getting anything for free--and even if we took everything they have, it wouldn't be much.

    Good article!

  •  What did we rebel against, anyway? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonmug

    Most of all, Republicans seem to forget that for all we hear about taxation and representation today and then, the American Revolution was at root a rebellion against government for and by politically favored corporations -- a modern version of which they're trying to drive us back into.

    The colonies rebelled against being forced to trade with designees of the Crown at vastly inflated and overtaxed prices.  That's what the Boston Tea Party and similar incidents were fundamentally about.  There was no clear line between the Crown and these corporations, just as there is today no clear line between the Republican Party and its corporate backers.

    It's absolutely obscene for Mitt Romney to say "Corporations are people, too, my friend" -- did he learn any history at all in between sociopathic attacks on fellow students?

    ------
    Ideology is when you know the answers before you know the questions.
    It is what grows into empty spaces where intelligence has died.

    by Alden on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 10:31:03 AM PDT

  •  The Republicans stole the election once we know of (0+ / 0-)

    and in my mind there is every reason to suspect they will do it again.

    The pols are wrong, perhaps "fixed" in the manner of design at the least.  Plausible denial is the reason that they have to "fix" the pols before the election so as to make it not too obvious.

    The last time around the more blatant examples were the electronic fixing that went on in Ohio and the shit in Florida.  The fix might just be in again.

    Americans cannot be universally that stupid to elect Romney.  I just don't believe so many Americans are so stupid as to vote against their own interests.

    Face it, we are just like any other 3rd world country with a corrupted political system.

    There.  I said it.  Lots of Americans believe it!

    •  Stolen elections (0+ / 0-)

      A court decision could be a lot of things, but theft it is not. OTOH, the Democratic Daley machine's interference with downstate tallies in 1960, that might be more like actually stealing an election.

      •  When some the judges were appointed by the father (0+ / 0-)

        of one of the litigants the court decision is suspect as well as a host of other circumstances that make it walk like a duck.  What happened IMO was theft.  

        Wall Street and the Banksters stole our standard of living but that wasn't even prosecuted but again IMO that too is theft despite your disingenuous protestations.
         

        •  Theft (0+ / 0-)

          like any crime, is what you can prove. You are, of course, entitled to your opinion, but its validity is undemonstrated by mere suspicion. And although you don't seem to have noticed, I had not a word to say about anything to do with banks or standards of living, and so no protestations, disingenuous or otherwise, are at issue on that topic.

          What was at issue was election fraud. So near as I can determine, it has been both a Democratic and Republican pastime. One difference in the two instances discussed is that IL and Chicago have scores of actual convictions for electoral tamperings to make smoke into reasonable evidence of fire.

          •  With Human Monkeys issues are complex not B&W... (0+ / 0-)

            In your original reply you said:

            A court decision could be a lot of things, but theft it is not.
            Now, you say:
            Theft
            like any crime, is what you can prove.
            You and I are really talking apples and oranges.  Theft thru the courts and the judicial system has been prevalent since Roman times a privilege and practice of the upper classes.

             The rich own the system here in America too.  Proof may exist as it did in the Gore vs Bush.  The courts didn't recognize or acknowledge it.  Their money and influence superseded justice in this case as it does in many others depending upon which gang owns the system at the time be it Mayor Daly or President Bush.

            You know that is what I am talking about and to speak of the process as if it was clear and pure is just plain disingenuous and that is what I was referring to.

            Additionally, the other more recent thefts and robberies of the banksters and wall street crooks is just another example of the crimes of the same gang.

            Your centrist position is one that I could respect if the system was clean and uncorrupted, but the system as it is is corrupt and as a result what you say tends to obscure rather than elucidate the truth.

            One must speak the truth as one sees it or we will never reach a place when centrists like yourself have a commonsense and realistic point of view.  Otherwise I think you are more in the way of progress than anything else.  My old buddies in the CIA would call it "disinformation!"

            •  Apples/oranges (0+ / 0-)

              The original claim here was that there was something particularly Republican about election fraud, citing the Bush/Gore case. IMO, that isn't tenable
              Reasonable people can reasonably differ about Bush v. Gore, but at worst it was a poor legal decision, not theft in any defensible meaning of the term. Your opinion is based on unproved and unprovable accusations claiming that these judges, despite their lifetime appointments, were compelled puppets of those that appointed them. I'm unpersuaded.

              OTOH, the hijinks I cited in the Kennedy election were genuine electoral thievery, as has been the case with scores of IL and Chicago politicians who have been successfully prosecuted for  electoral frauds of various stripes. Electoral fraud is a near-constant in American history—one reason I'm not particularly ruffled by attempts to insure that voters can be identified at the polls.

              •  I'm afraid you & I are just talking past each oth (0+ / 0-)

                You remind me of Germans in denial of death camps.  I got the same kind of argument from the wife of the architect that designed the ovens for Hitler.  She had the gall at first to tell me that because it was policy, the law, it was okay to say nothing and accept the camps.  Then, she told me that she didn't know about it (living with the man who designed the camps...hahahaha) and in the end it was justifiable because it was the system at the time.

                If that sounds a harsh comparison and unrelated to what we are talking about I am sorry but it is about the same thing.  Telling the truth and protesting from the rooftops when it is patently wrong and unjust.  If you can't tell it like it is you get Blue Dog Democrats and wishy washy "centrists" who don't stand anywhere except on a fence.

                No change, no action, just acceptance of the status quo. Our MSM is like you today by and large.  "Fair and balanced" is a slap at their centrist values.

                Al Gore didn't have the gumption and declined to challenge the court decision legally or in public.  Did it get better because he lay down and took it?

                Anyway, thanks for the discussion.  Aloha.

                •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

                  it's not remotely the same thing, and you evidence a sense of disproportion that is almost literally incredible. But you are very welcome. Ciao.

                •  . (0+ / 0-)

                  hmi labelled me an anti-semitic conspiracy theorist because I quoted an unsourced quote of a jewish banker from the late 18th century.  What can someone expect from such an asshole?  Since I indeed could not find a direct link of the quote to the Rothschild banker, I used a quote from James Madison saying the same thing which someone else labelled me an anti-semite for using some time ago.  The only incredible thing is level of nonsense and troll like fumes emanating from hmi's comments

                  "History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments by controlling the money and its issuance." -James Madison

                  by FreeTradeIsYourEpitaph on Tue Aug 28, 2012 at 07:53:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

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