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Leading Off:

Ideology: Here's one of those topics where a picture—or in this case, two pictures—really is worth a thousand words: The Guardian's Harry Enten features a pair of charts from (the guardians of the DW-NOMINATE archive) that track the average DW-N score of the two parties over the decades, going back to the 1870s. DW-N scores empirically rank each legislator (and each party) along a spectrum from negative 1 (most liberal) to positive 1 (most conservative) without making any judgment calls about which votes to include and which to exclude, because it automatically counts every vote.

The first graph below is for the Senate and the second is for the House; both show parallel movement, suggesting that polarization isn't just limited to the extensively gerrymandered lower chamber (click the images for larger versions):

Senate polarization chart
House polarization chart
Importantly, the charts also show just how one-sided the increasing polarization of Congress has been, as, since the early `70s, the Democrats' average score has stayed level (in the -0.35 range) even with the gradual loss of the southern white conservaDems ... but the Republicans have gotten a little more conservative each cycle, moving up to at least a 0.5 (meaning they're significantly more conservative than the Democrats are liberal).

There are probably a variety of explanations for this shift beginning in the early `70s—the solidification of each party's base in the wake of Richard Nixon's "Southern Strategy," the beginnings of the rise of the "religious right"—but one important, often overlooked factor may be the steps take by the conservative movement toward the development of a right-wing Beltway financial and intellectual infrastructure (in the wake of the Powell Memorandum), which was instrumental in instilling greater conservative discipline within Republican members of Congress. (David Jarman & David Nir)


ID-Sen: Hmm. GOP Sen. Mike Crapo says he won't contest drunken driving charges when he appears in court in Virginia in January, stemming from a recent arrest in Alexandria where his blood-alcohol level was well over the legal limit. But we still don't know what Crapo was doing when he got pulled over, seeing as all his colleagues had gone home for the Christmas holiday—and seeing as he'd always been known as a teetotaler, in accordance with Mormon doctrine. It sounds like he wants this to all get swept under the rug as quietly as possible, but I wonder if he'll have to allocute in some fashion when his case is heard.

LA-Sen: It's a pretty vague quote, but I can't imagine we've seen the last of a young true believer like Jeff Landry. The outgoing one-term GOP representative, who just lost a redistricting-induced runoff in December but is only 41 years old, says of his future: "I'll be available if an opportunity comes to promote conservative values." So I've got to believe that means he'll at least consider a challenge to Dem Sen. Mary Landrieu in 2014—though of course that would mean getting through a Republican primary first. Given how much of a rogue wingnut Landry is, Democrats would probably prefer to face him most of all, so if he gets in, I'd love to see Landrieu engage in some Claire McCaskill/Harry Reid-type ratfucking to help push Landry past the line.

MA-Sen: Last Friday afternoon, we saw the Democratic establishment—John Kerry, the DSCC, Vicki Kennedy—rally around Rep. Ed Markey at the party's standard-bearer to succeed Kerry in the Senate special election expected some time in the middle of 2013. Not long after, one of the top names still considering the race, Rep. Mike Capuano, offered a bristly response in a statement:

"It seems that the big names of our party are trying to choose our nominee for us. When I became Mayor of Somerville the establishment wasn't with me. When I became a Member of Congress the establishment wasn't with me. If I make this run it will be the same way—from the streets up, not from the elite down."
That's some big talk from Capuano, who is making an entirely process-based argument that has nothing to do with any ideological differences between himself and Markey. While I can't say I've conducted an exhaustive study, I suspect those sorts of complaints often fail to resonate loudly enough to make the difference in a primary (for example, see Andrew Romanoff's failed "it's my turn" run against Sen. Michael Bennet in the 2010 Colorado Democratic primary).

What's more, Capuano didn't perform well in the primary for the prior Senate special, taking just 28 percent of the vote in a four-way field, raising only $2.6 million in his losing effort. To put that monetary figure in perspective, Markey already has more than that in the bank right now. So if Capuano wants to run a campaign centered around resentment toward the establishment, it's not at all clear to me that he has the kind of track record to pull something like that off. Don't get me wrong: Markey could stumble, or prove unpopular on the campaign trail. But right now, if Capuano wants to get in, he'd have a lot going against him.

One other less well-known name is still weighing a bid, too: state Sen. Benjamin Downing, whose campaign issued a statement claiming that Markey's entrance wasn't going to affect his own decision making. Downing would have one potential advantage Capuano lacks: geography. Downing is from Pittsfield in the western part of the state, whereas almost all of the other would-be contenders hail from the more populous eastern half of Massachusetts. But that phrase—"more populous"—is key: There simply aren't a ton of votes where Downing hails from, and he'd likely need someone to split the Boston-area vote with Markey... someone, like, say, Capuano.

Anyhow, on a related note, there is one member of the establishment who isn't taking sides: Gov. Deval Patrick, who says simply: "I look forward to supporting the Democratic nominee, whoever he or she may be."


KY-Gov: The future of the Kentucky Democratic Party sure looks... unusual. Democrats control almost every statewide elected position and have a bumper crop of strong candidates, but because winning on the federal level is so difficult, just about everyone is looking to move up via the governor's mansion. That should create a titanic primary in 2015 when the seat is open, and now you can add one more name to the long list of possibles: state House Speaker Greg Stumbo, who—in some rather atypical phrasing—says he's "not necessarily" interested in running for governor. I guess that means he is potentially interested, though. For a comprehensive list of names on both sides, click through the link.

Grab Bag:

Maps: Here's a cool interactive, dot-based map of the 2010 U.S. Census, overlaid on to Google Maps, from cartographer Brandon Martin-Anderson. Every dot represents a person, so you can see very clearly just how dense the urban parts of the country are—and just how empty most of the rest of the nation is. Sort of like a pointillist painting, you'll need to zoom in way close to see individual dots, but the patterns are more interesting when you're zoomed out.

Polltopia: Okay, got something for ya: PPP has a "where should we poll" poll for their first 2013 survey. Choices: Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia. I don't have strong feelings, but how about VA?

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 05:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Darn, allocute doesn't mean puppies and kittens (4+ / 0-)

    I had to look that one up.

    "And if you come down with a case of Romnesia, and you can’t seem to remember the policies that are still on your website, ..., here’s the good news: Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions." -- President Obama, 10/19/2012, George Mason University

    by rja on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 05:32:39 AM PST

  •  congrats on shout from nate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eeff, Christopher Walker

    I do remenber correctly
    It's adoublehang over too much new years day drinking abd vote counting..12/29-31 is a blur. Anyway lovve love love the seies even if i only lurk .that's shout OUT from Nate. Also series
    Can you or some one account fot the 11Dnos?
    DeFazio read the bill in, IIRC and now votes no
    And the no shows? In House ? Too many concession for poor?

    "Are you bluish? You don't look bluish," attributed to poet Roger Joseph McGough, for the Beatles' Yellow Submarine (1968).

    by BlueStateRedhead on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 06:03:01 AM PST

  •  Graphs suggest... (15+ / 0-)

    The graphs suggest that MORE Democrats is even more important than BETTER Democrats. Though I am all for fighting for better Democrats in primaries, I think we need to keep these two graphs in mind. Even if the more Democrats vote like the Southern Democrats, it is better than pretty much any Republican.

    FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

    by mole333 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 06:07:32 AM PST

    •  Yes, that's extremely evident (8+ / 0-)

      Nate Silver has very clearly demonstrated this, too.

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 06:09:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Larry Kissell ? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40, bear83

      NC-08 he lost in Nov. I didn't lift a finger for him after he voted against ACA then again voting against the Climate bill in 2009.

      Oh well bye Larry

      •  Well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I shed not one tear for Kissell (and some others I can mention). But yes...he would be better than his Repub replacement, at least marginally so. ONE step closer to taking the House if nothing else.

        But I also prioritize my efforts. I do look at the closest races first...and then focus more on the progressives within that list. But I am more likely to donate to a conservative Dem who has a real shot at winning than on a progressive who is a long shot, most of the time.

        Also, keep in mind that Kissell is maybe an extreme example. People crucify the Blue Dogs but Loretta Sanchez is one of my favorites DESPITE being a Blue Dog who I sometimes disagree with. Bill Foster leans conservative (nothing like Kissell of course) yet I am thrilled he is back in Congress. Neither are Southern Dems so on the graph they would affect the Northern Dem (assuming that includes So Cal) ratings, but you get the point.

        And no...I didn't help Kissell this time around (though I had in the past).

        FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

        by mole333 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:07:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  That graph makes no sense… (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      …as it shows the post-civil war Democrats as being more liberal than the post-civil war Republicans. Hell, it makes post-Reconstruction Dems look like socialists. That calls the whole graph into suspicion.

      Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

      by DemSign on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:06:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you click through to read the (0+ / 0-)

        site's analysis, this particular graph shows only the attitudes of "the government's role in the economy." On that score, Dems have been more "liberal" since forever--think Bryan's "Cross of Gold" Dems . . .

        "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

        by bryduck on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:26:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Also, who's deciding what is "liberal" anyway? (5+ / 0-)

        Obviously there wasn't a vote in the '90s about the Heritage Foundation's "insurance mandate" idea -- which led to Romneycare which led to Obamacare -- but at what point did that idea switch from being conservative to liberal? When Obama proposed it?

        •  Not clear how the 0.0 line is determined. (0+ / 0-)

          Looked at the linked article and couldn't see how they determined the exact center.  Historically it looks like it must be a moving target as the whole Country gets more liberal or more conservative, but am not sure if that is the case.

          Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a Republican. But I repeat myself. Harry Truman

          by ratcityreprobate on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:08:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks for asking the important question. (0+ / 0-)

          There seems to be no thought process about what is "liberal" or "conservative". I'm not saying these graphs are not useful, just that they would be far more useful with carefully defined terms and a knowledge of who defined the terms, or more importantly why they defined them the way they did.

    •  I think it takes both now, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      because of the very strong self-reinforcing cycle we've got, of political polarization driving political gridlock driving concentration of wealth driving political polarization.

      Defeating extreme conservatism (polarization) will take strong policy that addresses our extreme concentration of wealth. More Democrats are needed (fix the gridlock). Better Democrats are needed (make sure that the policy is strong enough).

      Now that we are in such a strongly self-reinforcing cycle, it's very hard to get out of it.

      •  Of course... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Garrett, MichaelNY

        And anyone who knows me knows I fight for best Democrats quite often (ask David Yassky and Vito Lopez how hard I can fight against what I consider bad Democrats).

        But I think the broad and main strategy has to remain MORE Democrats. At least each November. Now I of course prioritize my efforts and donations but I base my priorities FIRST on chances of the Dem winning (I focus on close races) and THEN on most progressive. Also have to take district into account at least some of the time.

        FREEDOM ISN'T FREE: That's why we pay taxes. I Had A Thought

        by mole333 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 10:03:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Wars on Credit (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9, rja, bear83, MPociask

    And the war, along with much more as the rubber stamping started Before 9/11 as did the rapid rising deficits, costs rubber stampers, both houses, showed once again the countries 'Freedom is Free' but for those sent and their families and DeJa-Vu the Veterans of for decades now. Like Rep Jeff Miller (FL) Chairman of the House Committee of Veterans Affairs votes No on fiscal cliff bill, wanting his wealthy handlers to maintain their huge cuts, and both houses, All so called republicans who claim that non existent political label and ideology still, forced the cap raised to $450,000 most of which, especially those from the $250thou up, added to their growing hoarded wealth in all the years of these two present wars of choice, cheering on the abandoning of the main missions for even sending the military into that region with the first drum beats pointed at Iraq, with their direct or indirect investments in especially the no bid private contractors!!!

    'Freedom is Free' when a Country doesn't Sacrifice for their Wars and the Results Of!!
    How does a Country HONOR It's Fallen, by Their Own 'Sacrifice' in Taking Care of the Brothers and Sisters They Served With!!

    Vets On FLOTUS and SLOTUS, "Best - Ever": "We haven't had this kind of visibility from the White House—ever." Joyce Raezer - Dec. 30, 2011

    by jimstaro on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 06:18:16 AM PST

    •  Amen. And yet so many vets will keep voting (0+ / 0-)

      GOP thinking they are the "manly/authoritarian" and disciplined party that has their interests at heart.  The only way to counter that is for the Dems to show they can govern and change those stinking Senate rules and to at least appear more unified in their approach and their resolve.  Would help if Obama did the same because just selling the notion of compromise hasn't been working out so well.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 06:34:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ben Gilman (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, Christopher Walker

    In the 1990s I asked formally moderate Ben Gilman why he shifted so far to the right.  He said the party was demanding uniformity and threatening to take away committee assignments-- in his case- the foreign relations committee.  He claimed it was the only way he could remain powerful, ----as if  following someone else's script was power.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 06:32:01 AM PST

  •  Gerrymandering still counts (4+ / 0-)

    Madison had argued that the House could not be as easily corrupted or ideological as the Senate because short terms meant answering to the populace. Madison did not know about the Gerrymander.

    We can't imagine, most of us, House members completely ignoring a +3,000,000-4,000,000 vote for one party, but our House can.
    1. Leadership is confined to gerrymandered members,
    2. The gerrymandered members act differently depending upon party.

    Democratic ideology is, "Answer to the people." Republican ideology is, "Be true to eternal principles of Truth." The latter means "leadership" by ignoring the very voters and an embracing of deception for the rest.

    The Senate was supposed to get unresponsive. It's the House that's the news, isn't it?

    People complain about dirt, but I'd like to see them make some.

    by The Geogre on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 06:34:36 AM PST

    •  Yep - Gerrymandering deserves much of the blame (6+ / 0-)

      for the shift in ideology. When so many representatives have "safe" districts where they will win by 10+ points every general election no matter what, it only encourages them to move away from the center toward the extremes - especially with the rise of the Teabaggers.

      The only threat to their job security is in the party primary. This works in gerrymandered House seats, but not in statewide Senate races where Democrats have won numerous Senate seats based on the purest (craziest) Republican winning a senate primary.

      Filibuster reform now. No more Gentleman's agreements.

      by bear83 on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:00:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You can't ratfuck easily in Louisiana… (0+ / 0-)

    …they use jungle primaries.

    Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

    by DemSign on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:14:01 AM PST

  •  No, no, no. (0+ / 0-)

    Both sides do it.
    < /"centrist" pundits>

    "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

    by bryduck on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:27:18 AM PST

  •  How about the Dems rightward movement (0+ / 0-)

    I luv to see a chart on that.  It would be sobering.

    "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

    by noofsh on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:29:31 AM PST

  •  Hard to take a graph seriously (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, pHunbalanced

    that shows dems lurching to the right during the New Deal era, and also growing more liberal over the last 20 years.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:32:09 AM PST

    •  That is perfectly believable (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      itskevin, MichaelNY, jncca

      Southern Dixiecrats hated Roosevelt and actually ran their own candidates for president against he and Truman. This turnoff of a large segment of the Democratic base certainly can be attributed to Jess defections in the New Deal era. Also, in the last 20 years, Republicans have swept control of the South, meaning those former Dixiecrats are gone, and the party has become much more northeastern and west coastal. This corresponds with a more liberal party overall.

  •  Wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The chart on ideology is incorrect. It doesn't show the clear rightward trend among Democrats. Most of them are labeled "liberal", which clearly isn't true.

    Look at the vote in the Senate yesterday. There were only a couple people voted against the deal. If all the Democrats in the Senate had voted as "liberals" the bill wouldn't have passed.

    People seem to think that liberal just means to the left of center. It does not. There are liberal policies. For example, taxes are not too high. Extending any of the tax cuts is not liberal policy. To vote for that is clearly not liberal.

    I think you'll need to find a chart that really reflects the makeup of Congress. By my count there are probably a dozen people in Congress that could be fairly called "liberal".

    We have a lot of work to do.

    •  What clear rightward trend? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      askew, jncca, Liberal Thinking

      You can't just claim that because you have a preconceived idea, the stats must be wrong. Did you forget that Strom Thurmond was a Democratic Senator?

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:37:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Proof Is in the Pudding (0+ / 0-)

        Name me any economic policy on which Democrats stood their ground. On taxes? No. They've folded like a cheap house of cards every time. Remember 2010, right before the election? They extended the Bush tax cuts for two years when they could have at least waited for the elections. Which one of these "left-leaning" Democrats even supported Bernie Sanders and his filibuster?

        On jobs? Which one of them went to bat against "free trade"? On the housing crisis? They gave trillions of dollars to banks but they can't even spend the allocated (and pathetic) millions of dollars to help homeowners retain their houses.

        Have they implemented a transaction tax on financial trades? No, of course not!

        When given the chance to reform the healthcare system and the enormous need to do so, they picked a Republican idea that pushes people into for-profit health insurance industry (where the costs are too high to improve costs).

        The vast majority of them voted to authorize military force in Iraq. They've regularly voted for higher military spending. I will bet you dollars to donuts that the military budget doesn't get cut this month. But they'll vote for chained CPI for Social Security.

        They had Congress for two years. Did they limit the tax giveaways to the oil industry? What progress have they made on climate change. Name a single piece of legislation they put to a vote in the two years they had control that would have made any attempt to rein in global scorching. Is there a move in Congress to end the threat of the Keystone Pipeline extension?

        Not a single one of them understands why we have Social Security or why it should be funded by employers based on the number of hours worked by their employees.

        The only reason you think they're "liberal" is because you've forgotten (if you ever knew) what liberal policies are. They've been off topic for years. They voted for NAFTA. They voted for most-favored nation status for China. They voted for changes to ADFC that turned it into TANF.

        With dominant control of both houses of Congress and the White House they couldn't even get the Employee Free Choice Act passed. Did it even come up for a vote? Even a vote?

        They voted to tamper with FISA (even Obama did that). They voted for the so-called "patriot act". They haven't stood up for your right on anything--warrantless wiretaps, indefinite detention, extra-judicial executions--check where your own Representative voted on any of those issues.

        The reason we have right-wing policies in place is because none of them (with the exception of Alan Grayson and a smattering of others) don't even push liberal policy to the public. They can't be bothered to talk about it in public. They are all full of triangulation.

        On what basis to you support the proposition that any of them are liberals?

        I have your dollars waiting. If I win, you get to pick Blue Star or Voodoo here in Portland, OR. But you have to prove with actual numbers that these people are liberal by any accepted and substantive definition of the term.

        •  You've ignored something of crucial importance (0+ / 0-)

          and it's in the chart:

          Republicans have become much more conservative. You think Democrats can pass everything by themselves? Check on how Republicans voted on the Social Security Act, Medicare, and the Civil Rights Acts, and then get back to us about your brilliant, non-statistical argument that it must be the Democrats who have gone to the right.

          Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

          by MichaelNY on Thu Jan 03, 2013 at 01:14:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Democrats Are More Conservative (0+ / 0-)

            All you have to do is look at what the Kennedy's stood for. They didn't run from the "liberal" label. The facts speak for themselves.

            Also I just have to call out the fallacy that "it must have been the Democrats who have gone to the right". That has nothing to do with it. There is no point where I said the Republicans haven't gone to the right or haven't tried to obstruct legislation.

            What's appalling is the degree to which the Democrats have gone along with them. They fail to bring to the floor liberal bills and they vote for Republican plans. They just overwhelmingly accepted the most un-liberal legislation we've seen in years. The bills that just passed should have gotten no Democratic votes at all. They voted for tax cuts! There's nothing liberal about that at all.

            You seem to confuse whether they pass legislation with which side of the divide they're on.

            I simply do not buy that the majority of Democrats in Congress are liberal. They aren't. They repeatedly vote for crazy, right-wing ideas.

            You have not convinced me in any way that this chart represents their true views on the issues. Nor have you told me the one liberal thing your Representative voted for or the liberal bill they pushed in the House.

  •  It would be nice to know the effects of migration. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MPociask, MichaelNY

    Neither party has close to a majority of the voters any more, but Republicans have a smaller share than Democrats.  I wonder how much of that chart is people leaving the party to become independents?

    I also found interesting another poster who found the relative rankings of post-civil war Republicans and Democrats a little odd.  The "FDR" climb seem pretty mild when compared to the recent Republican climb, and I still have trouble seeing that big gulf between Republicans of Teddy Roosevelt and Democrats of the day.

    Also strange is the shape of the Post WWII Democratic curve, considering that Republicans were behind much of the early civil rights legislation and Democrats were home to the Dixiecrats.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 07:35:02 AM PST

  •  Chart label is wrong? (0+ / 0-)

    It says Liberal-Conservative. More Liberal would be more positive...

    Label should Be Conservative-Liberal, unless that's just a meaningless dash rather than a minus sign.

  •  Chart: We think the "Civil Rights Era" = 1955-1965 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    But it took another ten years of court cases to implement the integration of schools and housing, and to establish affirmative action programs in higher education and the workplace.

    The chart shows the Republican swing to the right starting in 1975.  Right about the time that American white separatists were beginning to hear the message that "Government is not the solution, government is the problem".

    It's no coincidence that the "bellwether" of the conservative "tax revolt" - California's Prop-13 - came hard on the heels of a huge school busing fight in Los Angeles County, and the Supreme Court ruling against university admission "quotas" (Bakke vs University of California).

    We are now fighting the last battle of the Civil War.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Wed Jan 02, 2013 at 08:12:17 AM PST

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