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It's primary day in several states, and The New York Times editors give us an overview of how crazy GOP primaries have become:
Wearing a black leather vest that barely covered the cigar tucked into his pocket, a man named Harley Brown was allowed to join the debate among candidates for governor of Idaho last week, holding forth on discrimination against bikers and the presidential seal tattooed on his shoulder after God told him he would one day occupy the White House. Another candidate, Walt Bayes, railed against “a bunch of eastern idiots” pushing the country toward Sodom and Gomorrah. If you thought that this was nothing but a stunt designed by Gov. Butch Otter to distract attention from his real opponent, you’d be right. But you’d also be missing the larger point: Republican primaries around the country have largely degenerated into self-parodies. They may lack the flowing beards of Mr. Brown and Mr. Bayes, but many of the other candidates in the party’s primaries — a large number of which will take place on Tuesday — are running on ideas only slightly less extreme. [...]

No Republican has a shot in this year’s party primaries without paying homage to extremist ideas. Whether the Tea Party is still a political force is a moot point; the radicalism of 2010 and 2012 is very much alive in 2014.

Paul Waldman at The American Prospect dives into the Tea Party's struggles:
These aren't the significant primary challenges of the kind we've seen in recent years. You get the sense that Tea Party folks are sitting around saying, "Well, Obamacare isn't getting repealed. The presidential election isn't for a couple of years. Anybody have any ideas about what we should be doing?" And someone says, "Well, we could have the committee vote censure the senator." Then everyone else says, "All right, may as well." It may not sound as dramatic as storming the barricades of power, but at the moment, it's about all they've got.

In Washington, there's a fight going on between a conservative Republican establishment and an extremely conservative Republican counter-establishment, both well-funded and staffed by experienced operatives. But down at the grass roots, the battles are not so high-profile, if no less sincerely felt. [...] Tea Partiers are revolutionaries, and I'm sure that for many of them, the first few years of the Obama administration were the most exciting of their political lives. They confronted what they believed was literally a threat to the existence of the nation they loved. They were getting noticed, forcing powerful people to listen to them, shaping the debate and striking fear in the hearts of Democrats and Republicans alike. Their party was being remade in their image, and they were making history. And even as that has all faded, they still think of themselves as revolutionaries. Revolutions are dramatic and inspiring; what comes afterward, not so much. What are they supposed to do now? Organize protests to push for some piece of tax legislation that'll never get passed? How dreadfully boring. Continuing the revolution has much more appeal.

Much more on this and the day's other top stories below the fold.

John McCormick and Greg Giroux at Bloomberg examine how conservative business interests are coming to the aid of their Republican friends in Congress:

It’s all about protecting loyal friends and eliminating a few troublemakers.

That’s the business community’s goal in U.S. House elections amid a power struggle between the limited-government Tea Party movement and more traditional Republicans. While control of the Senate is November’s main prize, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending heavily in select House races, including one in Idaho where the Republican primary is tomorrow.

The nation’s largest business-lobbying group hasn’t said how much it will spend in the 2014 election, though it probably will exceed the $33.8 million in 2010. The Chamber has already aired television ads in more than 20 House and Senate races, and it’s expected to intervene in key districts to defend pro-business House Republicans against Tea Party opponents, or to help business-friendly challengers unseat Tea Party incumbents.

The aim is to send a chilling message to the Tea Party’s most zealous members, as well as bolster Republicans who have been loyal to House Speaker John Boehner and taken tough votes, such as those to raise the federal debt ceiling.

Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast notes that the Tea Party is weaker than it's ever been, but it's not quite dead yet:
Tonight, the tea party is going to lose some elections. Its Senate candidates in Kentucky and Georgia are going to lose—and lose really, really badly in at least in Kentucky. The theme of the night on cable (and for the balance of the week really) will be the death of the tea party. Everybody’s waiting with a safety net, as Elvis Costello (nearly) sang, but I say don’t bury them ’cuz they’re not dead yet.

While it’s true that the majority of tea-party candidates are losing, something else has been going on more under the radar, smartly picked up on recently by Jamie Fuller of The Washington Post. A lot of Republican candidates are trying to finesse the establishment-tea party Maginot Line and be both things to all people. She writes, I believe accurately, that the clear goal of many candidates is “staying comfortable with the tea party while networking with the establishment on the side.” This certainly describes North Carolina’s Thom Tillis. He beat an explicitly tea party backed challenger, but Tillis is still deeply reactionary (eliminate the minimum wage entirely, he once suggested!), he backed the Cruz-led government shutdown, and he is distinguishable ideologically from tea party candidates only in that he’s not quite as wacko as the tea party guy was.

Charles Babington:
Tuesday’s high-profile primary elections could extend a streak of sorts for Tea Party Republicans: losing individual races but winning the larger ideological war by tugging the GOP rightward.

Several Tea Party-endorsed candidates are struggling in Tuesday’s Republican congressional primaries in Georgia, Kentucky, and Idaho. In each state, however, the ‘‘establishment’’ Republican candidates have emphasized their conservative credentials, which narrows the party’s philosophical differences.

Citing similar dynamics in other states, Democrats say the GOP candidates who are trying to give Republicans control of the Senate will prove to be too far right for centrist voters in November.

Switching topics, Molly Redden at Mother Jones takes a look at a bill in North Carolina that would make it a crime to disclose fracking chemicals:
On Thursday, three Republican state senators introduced a bill that would slap a felony charge on individuals who disclosed confidential information about fracking chemicals. The bill, whose sponsors include a member of Republican party leadership, establishes procedures for fire chiefs and health care providers to obtain chemical information during emergencies. But as the trade publication Energywire noted Friday, individuals who leak information outside of emergency settings could be penalized with fines and several months in prison. [...] The disclosure of the chemicals used to break up shale formations and release natural gas is one of the most heated issues surrounding fracking. Many energy companies argue that the information should be proprietary, while public health advocates counter that they can't monitor for environmental and health impacts without it. Under public pressure, a few companies have begun to report chemicals voluntarily.

North Carolina has banned fracking until the state can approve regulations. The bill introduced Thursday, titled the Energy Modernization Act, is meant to complement the rules currently being written by the North Carolina Mining & Energy Commission. [...]

Draft regulations from the North Carolina commission have been praised as some of the strongest fracking rules in the country. But observers already worry that the final regulations will be significantly weaker. In early May, the commission put off approving a near-final chemical disclosure rule because Haliburton, which has huge stakes in the fracking industry, complained the proposal was too strict, the News & Observer reported.

Jesse Coleman:
The three republican state senators that proposed the bill have close ties to the oil and gas industry and industry lobbyists McguireWoods. McGuireWoods, a lobbying firm that represents Halliburton, Koch Industries, and other oil and gas interests, donated to all three senators. [...] The shale industry's control over fracking chemical disclosure legislation in North Carolina has been under particular scrutiny in recent weeks, after a cache of emails revealed that Halliburton, Koch Industries, and other fracking industry interests had close ties to officials responsible for writing fracking rules.
Meanwhile, Lisa Hymas at Grist says it's possible the Obama administration may require some form of disclosure:
In a live chat on Monday with Grist, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz suggested that fracking companies might need to be more forthcoming about their chemical cocktails.

The fracking process involves high-pressure injection of a mixture of fluids into shale seams to force up oil and gas. Many fracking companies and chemical manufacturers say the makeup of their chemical mixtures is a trade secret and shouldn’t have to be divulged, but environmental activists and some community leaders say the public has a right to know, and at the very least first responders need to know when coping with fracking-related exposures and emergencies.

Earlier this month, the EPA announced that it would accept public comments on the issue, responding to a petition filed by environmental law firm Earthjustice, but the agency didn’t commit to crafting any federal disclosure rules. Some states require some level of disclosure about chemicals, but enforcement of and compliance with those rules has been spotty at best.

On the topic of the VA wait time controversy, Eugene Robinson hopes for action from the Obama administration:
If VA hospitals really are falsifying records to disguise lengthy waiting times — and if veterans are dying as a consequence — then President Obama needs to bring in new management to fix the problems and fast.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, speaking Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” described Obama as “madder than hell” about the VA scandal. By now, we should all be used to the fact that Obama is never what you would call demonstrative with his anger, at least publicly. No frothing, no foaming, no gnashing of teeth. I take McDonough at his word that the president is royally steamed.

Finally, this piece Jamie Stiehm is a must-read:
Milliseconds, dude.

That’s all it takes to make up your mind about a candidate’s face, according to a new Dartmouth College study on masculine and feminine features in politicians. They call it “gendered facial cues” in brain imaging.

Forget the firm handshake or the barnstorming speech. What matters, upfront, is how a candidate looks, new social psychology research suggests, from the neck up. (And you thought politics was shallow.) This may be even more true for women than for men.

Snap judgments on faces have real consequences for women running for office, Dartmouth assistant professor Jon Freeman says. And the findings aren’t pretty. Summing up his lab’s research, Freeman suggests the more feminine a woman candidate’s face appears to a large sample of people, the more successful she was likely to be.


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Comment Preferences

  •  The Tea Party won (43+ / 0-)

    how anybody can say the Tea Party dead when they have pushed the entire Republican Party to the extreme right. There is no Tea Party wing anymore because they are all basically in the Tea Party now.

    Frankly, I’m getting more than a little tired of hearing from angry America. I’m also less than fond of knee-jerk America. And when you combine the two with the Internet, you too often get stupid America, which is really annoying.

    by jsfox on Tue May 20, 2014 at 04:44:17 AM PDT

    •  I agree. (15+ / 0-)

      From the Tomasky piece:

      A lot of Republican candidates are trying to finesse the establishment-tea party Maginot Line and be both things to all people.
      That would have been news 8 years ago.

      As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

      by JaxDem on Tue May 20, 2014 at 04:51:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And it won't work. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The best-case 2016 strategy for Republicans occurs if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

        A candidate who mostly ignores the far-right fringe and appeals to mainstream voters to come out for the Republican primaries would have a real shot.  One thing's for sure: the fringe will not vote for HRC.  If somebody has a shot to beat her, they will hold their noses and play along.

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

        by dinotrac on Tue May 20, 2014 at 06:15:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  They won in the short term (35+ / 0-)

      but they pushed the GOP to such an extreme that in the long term the party is simply not viable.  They won't win the presidential election any time soon and after 2016 they won't sniff senate majority for several years either.  Several of their governors will or may lose badly in 2014, including in Kansas of all places, and others won't be around much longer after that.  In the House the GOP only has power so long as the gerrymanders of 2011 are in place.  Once states like NC, VA, PA, OH, MI, WI, FL, TX are reconfigured again in 2021 the Dems will be able to flip several House seats and have a majority for a long while.  There is simply almost no way the GOP can gerrymander those states any more radically and get away with it.  They maxed out the number of GOP reps they can get.  If Dems gain majority in those states and reconfigure the lines then they stand to make big gains in redictricting alone.  The GOP will be lucky if they even make it to 2021 as they're not that far from losing control in the House.  If not in 2014 then very likely in 2016.  

      All the tea party gained was a few years for the GOP.  That's why they're pushing the most odious shit they can think of because they know their time is almost up but if they push this shit through now it'll take Dems ages to undo the damage they wreaked.  Meanwhile they'll be sitting fat on wads of cash in the Caymans.  

      This is your world These are your people You can live for yourself today Or help build tomorrow for everyone -8.75, -8.00

      by DisNoir36 on Tue May 20, 2014 at 04:57:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  /\ (6+ / 0-)


        What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

        by agnostic on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:02:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I should hope. (8+ / 0-)

        But does the GOP ever stay dead? They're were supposed to be dead after Watergate but came back big with the '78 Tax Revolt and '80 backlash against OPEC and Iran. They were supposed to be passe with Clinton in '92, but came back big with Newt and Rush in '94. They were supposed to be just a regional rump party after '06 and '08, but came roaring back with the Tea Party Wave of '10.

        I don't consider '16 to be a sure thing....

        "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

        by Stude Dude on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:18:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Where have I heard this before? Oh, yeah,... (6+ / 0-)

        ...that's right -- I heard it from 1976-1980, about the Reagan wing of the GOP.

        (T)hey pushed the GOP to such an extreme that in the long term the party is simply not viable.  They won't win the presidential election any time soon...
        I hope your prognosis is correct, DisNoir36, but moving the Overton window is one of the most powerful political things a group can do, even though the consequences may take a while to play out.

        NEW PALINDROMIC METAPHOR MEANING TO MAKE A PREDICTION THAT IS ASTOUNDINGLY OFF TARGET: "Pull a Gallup!" As in: "The weatherman said yesterday would be sunny and mild, but we got a foot of snow! Boy, did he pull a Gallup!"

        by Obama Amabo on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:19:07 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I hope you're right. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SoCalSal, Stude Dude

        But my gut is telling me you're not.  Along with that pull to the right for the GOP came a pull to the right for Democrats, too.  And anyone with a lick of sense, like Elizabeth Warren, is going to be demonized not only by those on the right but our useless media, lapdogs for the rich and hateful.  Look what just happened this week.  Hillary Clinton is now "brain damaged."  This is ugly, and after reading Robert Greenwald's diary on the Koch Brothers on the recommended list, it's going to get uglier.  And our side doesn't show up to vote, which is frustrating as hell.

        But I hope you're right.

        The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

        by AnnieR on Tue May 20, 2014 at 07:53:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  How do they "win" if the GOP loses under them? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JaxDem, a2nite

      Shh, don't tell them that!

      "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

      by kovie on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:13:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Seems like mortality would be hurting the baggers. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    They're not exactly spring chickens and not particularly healthy either, by and large.

    Any actuary would consider them high risk.

    •  Hey, there are som young yutes with (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hoghead99, Stude Dude

      TeaBuggerers.  I've seen them!
      The grandkids in the strollers that gramps is watching

      What we call god is merely a living creature with superior technology & understanding. If their fragile egos demand prayer, they lose that superiority.

      by agnostic on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:03:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  But they have kids and grandkids. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Here in GA I've watched, for 30 years, this hateful bunch spoon feed their hate to their kids and grandkids.  I've seen some of the most hateful teenagers and young adults who came that way through their families.  And it's ugly.  They're ugly; the whole lot of them.  No empathy, no common decency, just hate and fear.  And a media that plays on those emotions very successfully.  The right wing propaganda is ruining us.  If we're to shake this off we need to figure out a way to stop the lies and hate it generates.

      The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

      by AnnieR on Tue May 20, 2014 at 07:57:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  fuck the tea party (7+ / 0-)

    What am I suppose to be impressed about?  Just because a bunch of assholes are given a well funded microphone, does not impress me in the least.  Without Koch money they are nothing.

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

    by noofsh on Tue May 20, 2014 at 04:52:21 AM PDT

  •  Purging the Purgers gonna be tough Jeb. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, JaxDem, Stude Dude
  •  Florida's Redistricting trial kicked off yesterday (11+ / 0-)
    Florida's two-week redistricting trial began with a bang Monday as GOP political consultant and lobbyist Marc Reichelderfer admitted he had access to more than two dozen secret maps drawn by the Legislature's staff weeks before they were available to the public. He also said he recommended modifications to pending maps.
      ~ Source

    What???  Republicans using dirty tricks???  

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:02:40 AM PDT

  •   Common Core will make kids homosexual (6+ / 0-)

    so says Clay County Republican state Rep. Charles Van Zant (just one county over from me).  

    Florida is using tests created by American Institutes for Research for development of state standards.  Here's what Van Zant had to say:

    "These people that will now receive $220 million from the state of Florida unless this is stopped will promote double mindedness in state education, and attract every one of your children to become as homosexual as they possibly can," Van Zant, who so far in unopposed in his reelection bid, told the group. "I'm sorry to report that to you."


    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:12:19 AM PDT

    •  'Become as homosexual as they possibly can' (7+ / 0-)

      WTF does that even mean?

    •  They must be doing something wrong. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JaxDem, wintergreen8694

      If both a lot of Liberals and Conservatives hate Common Core.

      "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

      by Stude Dude on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:20:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Common Core is a flash point (6+ / 0-)

        here politically.  I've seen some hard line GOPers turn away from any support of a Jeb Bush run because of his support of Common Core.  As a result, the state is attempting to adopt their own version and eventually tack on a different name so as to fool all those GOP low info voters.

        In the canvassing I've done w/my Democrat club we have found the single thing that enrages folks about Rick Scott is education.  I hope that helps to defeat him and I sincerely hope this Common Core issue will help Dems in 2016 as well.  We will have to keep that video from Van Zant on hand ;-)

        Hope you're doing well, Dude.

        As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

        by JaxDem on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:43:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well besides getting a belated rejection slip (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          LI Mike

          Over Sci Fi Guy! How my comics have been treated is a big sore point that I could rant about 27 times over.

          Back to Common Core, is it closely associated with Obama? Some Winger in Nebraska was running against Common Core as "Obammy's gubment takeover of education".

          "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

          by Stude Dude on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:51:46 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  They did that here in Gwinnett County, GA. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JaxDem, Stude Dude

          I hated it while my kids were in school.  The teachers hated it.  It's called the Gateway test, and all the teachers have to teach to it for the entire year.  Created a situation, at least the way I saw it, where kids weren't learning how to learn, they were learning by rote.  Very disturbing.  And talking to the teachers, the frustration level was high.  They could do nothing creative anymore.  They had to teach to the tests in each grade they were given.  A huge mistake, if you ask me, but I'm not a professional.  Teaching to tests takes away a child's ability to learn how to learn.

          The GOP will destroy anything they can't own.

          by AnnieR on Tue May 20, 2014 at 08:02:05 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  More tea party, please! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wintergreen8694, LI Mike, a2nite

    Who else is gunna protect our FreeDumbs like the good lord meant in the constushun what he wrote? Live Free or Dumb!

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:12:35 AM PDT

  •  When referring to teapublican candidates (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude, wintergreen8694, a2nite

    e.g. Boehner, why not slap a (T) after his name?

    Just a suggestion...

    Dissolve Israel; stop distinguishing between jew and non-jew in Palestine.

    by high5 on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:14:18 AM PDT

  •  Oh? Obama is "madder than hell”? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LI Mike

    Wow.. so we should see some action now!  Any day now, at least..

    I mean.. a strongly worded memo?

    What bullshit..  The White House is already trying to spin this as being handled.. so shut up and don't ask any more embarrassing questions!

    White House Distorts American Legion Position on Veterans Controversy

    At the White House briefing today, Press Secretary Jay Carney repeatedly suggested the American Legion had praised the Department of Veterans Affairs for the resignation Friday of top VA health official Dr. Robert Petzel.

    It turns out, however, the American legion had issued a statement dismissing the resignation as “business as usual.”

    But the American Legion put out a statement on Friday about Dr. Petzel’s resignation saying almost exactly the opposite of what Carney suggested.

    “This move by VA is not a corrective action, but a continuation of business as usual,” American Legion National Commander Daniel M. Dellinger said in a statement. “Dr. Petzel was already scheduled to retire this year, so his resignation now really won’t make that much of a difference.”

    Madder than hell?  Please.. like every other scandal involving this administration, no one will be fired and if you keep asking about it you will be told "wait for the investigation" that will take a year.. then you can't ask because it is "old news".

    We've seen the playbook before, Mr President!

  •  Republican primary? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Stude Dude

    I thought it was a ZZ Top reunion.

    "Remember, Republican economic policies quadrupled the debt before I took office and doubled it after I left. We simply can't afford to double-down on trickle-down." Bill Clinton

    by irate on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:25:47 AM PDT

  •  It's not the Tea Party, it's the Republican Party (5+ / 0-)

    Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.

    by darthstar on Tue May 20, 2014 at 05:27:26 AM PDT

  •  I believe the Times to be wrong. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Stude Dude

    Republicans are dead if they pay too much attention to extremist ideas.

    Ask Mitt Romney.

    Let the fools parade and divide each other and remember that most primaries are open. Very few people call themselves Republicans any more, and the embarrassing wing of the party is why.

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

    by dinotrac on Tue May 20, 2014 at 06:12:13 AM PDT

  •  Milliseconds, dude. (0+ / 0-)

    "...which included a swath of Dartmouth students..."

    I've had a longstanding beef with the institutionalized practice of using college students as your study subjects.  It might be great for undergrad or even grad work but for Ivy League university staff?  Come on. You can do better than that.

    As a scientist, I look forward to a time where researchers have finally figured out that college students are in no way representative of the entire population.  

    It's an indication of lazy study design to develop a plan that selects the most readily available subjects when researching human behavior and it's institutionalized a bias:  

    We now know how students feel about this, but what about the rest of us?  

    Oh.  That's why they always say "We need more $tudy Funding".

    Every tax dollar that ends up in the pocket of the profiteers is a tax dollar not in the service of the taxpayer.

    by Bugboy on Tue May 20, 2014 at 07:22:59 AM PDT

  •  The pundits keep ignoring local and state election (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SoCalSal, Stude Dude

    Where policy gets made and party officials come from. THAT'S where the teabaggers will win. When they run local school boards, towns, and are in state legislatures, that's what will happen.

    Watch. Their goal is to have 38 states force an Article V convention to rewrite the Constitution--they think they'll do it to Christianist philosophy, but they are being manipulated by ALEC

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Tue May 20, 2014 at 07:49:35 AM PDT

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