Reason Morning Links: New Congress Takes Over, Flooding in Australia, Sudan May Split

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  1. http://www.slate.com/id/2279920/

    Dalia Lithwick is the dumbest legal commenter today. But she makes up for it by being dishonest.

    1. Yeah, from that article:
      Nobody has suggested that legislators don’t have an independent duty to uphold the Constitution as they understand it.

      Uh, Dahlia, YOU HAVE!

      1. Yeah. She is one of the ones who made fun of Palin for saying that the Supreme Court didn’t have a monopoly on Constitutional interpretation. Lithwick seems incapable of arguing in good faith.

    2. Man, that is the WORST column I have read in a long time.

    3. That’s Friedmanesque. What a hack.

  2. New Congress begins today.

    I’m tired of the old shit. Let the new shit begin.

    1. New Congress will be a huge flop and then the veterans can market Congress Classic for those craving that traditional old school flavor.

    2. still stinks

  3. I watched the video the Cap got fired over. I guess it is unprofessional for someone in his position to do and broadcast this stuff. But I can’t help but think the result of his firing is to put people even more on the defensive in the workplace helping us along the road to humorless, PC sanitized offices…

    1. People don’t just become depraved. It was an act of really bad judgment. What other acts of bad judgment has he committed? I don’t have a lot of sympathy. He knew the rules.

      1. Yeah, I see your point, but I still dunno…Friends and family in the military tell me that you have to understand that people in the military have an incredible amount of time on their hands and a lot of neat equipment readily available during that time. Boredom makes people do all kinds of regretable things, and we are talking about an organization with a lot of young men with a fraternity sense of humor. Supposedly most of those who served under him said he was a great commander in other respects.

        1. Your friends and family are totally right. And if this had been some junior officer I would totally agree. But this guy was the CPT of a ship. He is supposed to be the den mother to the good idea fairies. With great privilege comes great responsibility.

    2. Look, another captain of the Enterprise sexually harassed his crew, mated with womenish creatures on ever shore, and lived the life this captain aspired to, but he didn’t make videos.

  4. Navy captain dismissed over lewd videos.

    Women and gays ruin just as many parties as they make.

    1. Gay women, or at least women acting gay, can make a party pretty quick though.

      1. Sure, if you have a flannel and workboot fetish.

        Ohhhhhh, you mean the other kind.

    2. The most offensive bit was comparing gays to surface warefare officers. The gays should take great offense. The only thing worse would be being compared to the USAF.

      1. “USAF” – as my brother referred to them – “wingnuts”

        1. There was one thing I always did admire about the USAF (civil service in uniform), for the most part it is just the officers that die.

  5. Census working on alternative measures of poverty

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/…..eheadlines

    “Under a complex series of eight alternative measurements, the Census Bureau calculated that in 2009, the number of Americans living in poverty could have been as few as 39 million or as many as almost 53 million. Under the official calculation, the census estimated that about 44 million were subsisting on incomes below the poverty line of about $21,750 for a family of four. The alternatives generally set the poverty threshold higher, as much as $29,600 for a couple with two children.”

    1. What a complete crock of shit. The AEI did a survey of people “in poverty” a few years ago. Majorities of the “poor” had central air conditioning, cable TV, computers, multiple TV’s, two automobiles, ate more meat than “middle class” Europeans ect. ect.

      The “poverty level” is simply a game by bureaucrats to justify wealth transfers. Why else would it require “a complex series of eight alternative measurements”? Because without such euphemisms people might actually say things like, “they aren’t really poor” and put the looters out of a job.

      1. How would you operationalize “poverty?”

        1. Excellent question! You can’t. That is why bureaucrats making decisions for hundreds of millions of individuals will always, always fail.

          1. Marshall
            So when people refer to other people as being “poor” they are talking nonsense?

            I think there is a conception of what it means to be poor. Sure that conception varies from person to person, culture to culture. Sure, it is hard to measure. But that doesn’t mean the concept is meaningless or that measures can’t be useful. This is true for basically any social concept.

            1. Everything is relative. Poor compared to what? Bill Gates, or the average person living 100 years ago.

              It isn’t that poor is a useless term. Attempting to quantify it for hundreds of millions will, absolutely, with 100% certainty, fail. How could it not?

              But you must attempt to quantify the unquantifiable or else how do you justify trillions in wealth transfers? All with nice salaries for those who do the transferring?

              The article uses the ultimate in looting euphemism, “income disparity”. If I increase my income 1% I am less poor. It doesn’t matter if Bill Gates increased his income by 10% or 100%, I am still richer. It sounds exactly like my 6 year old daughter. This Christmas she got $20 from the grandparents but the adults get $50. But you got more than me, she cried.

              Nothing like public policy being implemented by “adults” on the same emotional level as a 6 year old!

            2. When I was a lad attending public school in Hamilton County TN, I used to ride the bus past tin shacks that some of my fellow students, friends in fact, lived in.

              It was not uncommon that the only meat they got in a week was from the school lunch.

              We all inherently know what poor is — the world is full of poor people. But is becomming less common in the US regardless of what the public definition of the “poverty line” has become.

              1. The “poverty line” should go the way of the “fever line”.

      2. the problem with any of these measures is that they measure income at a snapshot in time. With a dynamic economy, many people have temporary losses in income and therefore show up in the poverty statistics. Many of these people in “poverty” are not really in poverty and are only experiencing temporary income set backs.

        This was the case of my father lost who lost his job after the .com bust My family would have fit into the poverty stats, but the family sure as hell was not living a poverty lifestyle.

        Furthermore these stats are only on income and ignore transfer payments.

        We need to measure poverty by consumption. That is a much more accurate measure of ones standard of living.

        1. Interesting idea. How would you factor in size of family (more kids would equal more consumption, even if the family actually brought in less)?

          1. just like you have a different income threshold for family size in current poverty stats, do that with consumption. We already do general houshold consumption statistics, its just not used to calculate poverty. So say annual consumption under 15k or something for a single person, 20k for one kid, so on and so on. Whatever it may be.

            True people may be saving money, but i think it gives a better representation than income which is choppy and prior to transfer payments.

            1. Interesting. As you note no measure is going to be perfect, but many can be informative, your idea sounds reasonable to me.

              1. woohoo! I agree with MNG agreeing with someone for once. Well, it’s happened before, but rarely.

          2. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02…..ef=opinion

            Look at the chart on the left. We already have some stats in this area.

          3. woohoo! I agree with MNG agreeig with someone for once. Well, it’s happened before, but rarely.

          4. How would you factor in size of family

            My question is WHY would you factor in the size of a family? Why should I be considered “more poor” because I choose to have 10 children? Why should a person be rewarded with wealth transfers because they have chosen to have children for which they can not provide financially? For the children?

            You would create incentives for people to not be financially responsible for their children to teach their children to be financially responsible?!

            1. I also think there is an economy of scale for children. At some point there difference between child X+4 and child X+5 is a lot less than what it cost for child X. Between hand-me-downs and buying from Sams Club.

    2. The problem is that there are two competing definitions of poverty, one rooted in compassion, one rooted in small-minded envy.

      Poverty can only be solved under the former mindset. Under the latter, it’s a product of math, not social circumstance. Multimillionaires that only live around and know billionaires will still considered themselves “poor” and feel resentful. And the “small-minded” is key — taken in the broader context of world living standards, homeless Americans are middle class, and our middle class is wealthy, so none of that envy is justified for Americans.

  6. Boehner promises GOP house will be honest and accountable.

    Apparently crossed fingers don’t make him cry.

    1. So crying is his “truth” tell. Interesting….

  7. Developing nations use conditional cash transfers to reduce poverty and foster a middle class

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytim…..-the-poor/

    “The generic term for the program is conditional cash transfers. The idea is to give regular payments to poor families, in the form of cash or electronic transfers into their bank accounts, if they meet certain requirements. The requirements vary, but many countries employ those used by Mexico: families must keep their children in school and go for regular medical checkups, and mom must attend workshops on subjects like nutrition or disease prevention. The payments almost always go to women, as they are the most likely to spend the money on their families. The elegant idea behind conditional cash transfers is to combat poverty today while breaking the cycle of poverty for tomorrow.”

    1. The elegant idea behind conditional cash transfers is to combat poverty today while breaking the cycle of poverty for tomorrow.

      It’s an idea, but it ain’t elegant. It’s never worked before, and it won’t work in these cases.

      1. Actually the article cites several major studies that suggest it is working great.

        1. No, the article cites several studies from the sponsoring entity, the World Bank. What the article fails to address is how to meet the increased demand for the services. The infrastructure isn’t in place to support increased demand for access to schools, medical care, etc. It’s only a matter of time before supply and demand causes major issues for these programs. Not to mention that these countries can’t afford to make these payments and sustain the added pressure on their infrastructure in the long term.

          The real answer to poverty is to give people more economic freedom. Microloans are a fantastic idea in that vein. Until then, they’ll be lining up for their payout and lining up for overtapped services, and in countries like Brazil and Mexico, that teat ain’t got so much milk.

          1. There are studies from other orgs, and the World Bank one cites others. Also, you suppose that the World Bank says it works because it supports it and not the other way around.

            1. I’m sure there are plenty of “orgs” that love the idea of taking money from the rich to dole out to the poor in the name of social justice. I also like how the author cites the “successes” in percentages, which is a huge red flag. And some of the percentages are marginal, perhaps even insignificant to boot.

              At any rate, the author argues as if the idea she’s championing is THE end-all, be-all answer to poverty. No other possibilities are given credit, and only the smallest reference is paid to the obstacles facing this genius, novel idea of giving poor people public funds. The article is shit, the idea is economically retarded, and self-congratulating yuppies will cover their years and sing their folk tunes until the memory of the failure has long passed.

              1. As someone wrote here a week or so ago, the only social justice is Liberty

        2. I also like the broken links in her article. Proofreading win!

    2. “The payments almost always go to women, as they are the most likely to spend the money on their families.”

      1. Sexist bastards
      2. The don’t know my ex-wife.

    3. Dude, you are on a roll today.

      The elegant idea behind conditional cash transfers is to combat poverty today while breaking the cycle of poverty for tomorrow.”

      Nothing like something that ignores human nature being called ‘elegant’. Funny how welfare is supposed to teach people not to take welfare. Sick how people who should know better, consider their self-congratulation as an “elegant idea”, while all human evidence leads to the opposite conclusion.

      Seriously. The criteria for receiving these transfers is taking more transfers? Go to public funded school and see the publicly funded doctor on a regular basis? They should also include “vote for the person who stole it from the productive for you”. Because nothing, nothing gets a person out of dependency than MORE dependency!

      1. The idea is that providing incentives to keep kids healthy and educated makes for more human capital in the future. None of this is unheard of in economic circles.

        1. The idea is that providing incentives to keep kids healthy and educated makes for more human capital in the future.

          Interesting how the only “incentives” that you understand are actually “giving them something for free”. How about incentives to teach children discipline? Personal responsibility? Or their parents? Nope, don’t need those qualities to be a productive citizen? All a person needs is an “education” at a borg run school and plenty of free medical care!

    4. Wait, I thought it was evil when a powerful organization that provided welfare to the poor attached conditions to that welfare that nudged the poor into adopting its institutional moral code?

      Oh wait, that only applies to religious charities. Progressive morality is based in Science and is objectively true in all cases.

      Less snarky version: This will not be limited to “poverty-ending” measures, but will instead be used to push the elite’s morality on the weak. The potential for abuse is massive, and vastly more dangerous than when practiced by churches since the givers cannot pull their funds away from the charity to protest the demands it makes of the people it “helps”.

  8. http://ncguns.blogspot.com/201…..ks-to.html

    Ashley Smithwick met with the Lee County Superintendent on Tuesday in a closed door meeting. She will be allowed to walk at her High School graduation.

    1. When did knives become generally considered as dangerous weapons? I carried a knife at school every day starting probably in 3rd grade. It was probably against some rule then too, but if you didn’t do anything stupid, no one cared.

      1. Dude, they suspend and expel kids for aspirin and brandishing chicken fingers these days. Knives are like bringing in gallon drums of napalm to these folks…

        1. You don’t get to complain about it, MNG. It’s attitudes like yours (bigger government=better!1!) that give rise to this kind of shit.

          1. That’s a ridiculous and unfair argument. Arguing for national healthcare, right or wrong, isn’t arguing for zero tolerance absurdities.

            1. I’m willing to bet that the Venn diagram of “People who think government should do MOAR!” and “People who think nothing that can be a weapon should be near kids” looks like a circle.

    2. Commenter from the blog site:

      Anonymous said…
      You guys are ridiculous… Everyone is so dumbfounded, even her mom. Ashley is one of the biggest potheads in school, the only thing that she does is pop pills and smoke weed. She came to class high all the time as well as went to soccer practice high that is why she got kicked off last year. She is always skipping class to smoke. I don’t see how everyone is trying to blame the system when you need to look at the so called victim. [emphasis mine] The reason why she had that knife was to shave pills with it. So open your eyes and realize that she is in the worng not the school bored.

      Sincerely,
      A classmate

      Funny how these people always want to blame the victim when they are rebelling against authority, but never want to blame the victim instances of “rape” where the girl is a known slut and regrets who she woke up with the next morning.

      1. Just don’t blame the skewl bored.

  9. If the argument is, some functions are too critical to public safety to put in private hands, then that is an argument against allowing them to be unionized. If unionized, then the state no longer has a monopoly on the power exercised by that arm, which is the whole idea of putting it in the public sphere. So if you can’t have private police forces running around, let’s say, then it makes no sense to have the monopolized force of the state colonized or even dominated by a union with interests frequently opposed to those of the public.

    http://rightcoast.typepad.com/…..smith.html

    1. You can always have demoralized or unhappy workers, with unions its just organized. That actually makes it more likely to get the attention of the employer and perhaps something can be done about it. Not having unions doesn’t necessarily empower taxpayers, often it just empowers government administrators.

      “Lisa, if you don’t like your job you don’t strike. You just go in every day, and do it really half-assed. That’s the American way.”

      1. Iirc police unions got their start with amazingly arbitrary and authoritarian police chiefs as fostered by Progressive era reforms. The officers just could not take it any more.

        To take another example, correctional guards played a big role in making prisons more sanitary and safer places for both them and the inmates.

        Where unions seem to be causing problems is in the benefits/pay they are getting. Governments need to make better deals with them, times are tough everyone is going to have to take the pain.

        1. “Where unions seem to be causing problems is in the benefits/pay they are getting.”

          And the fact that they make it impossible for bad cops to be fired or ever held accountable for their actions. Which is the bigger danger, that a few cops will get screwed at their jobs or that the situation we have today where cops act with complete impunity?

          1. Unions don’t make it impossible to fire people, they make it hard to fire someone arbitrarily. Some type of “due process” must be given is all most CBA’s call for. Cops, teachers, etc., get let go every day.

            1. Have you been filtering the Blako stories?

              1. No. In Balko’s stories it is almost the nutty administration that keeps and defends the cop.

                1. “almost always”

                2. No. They are almost always about a cop who does something horrible and can’t be fired because of his union. And why do you think the administrations roll over for the cops? Because the police unions wield so much power that is why.

                  How can you call yourself a liberal and then think it is a ok, for the Police, to form unions to insulate themselves from accountability?

                  1. I’m a big fan of Balko and nearly always in his cases the police administration argues the cop did the right thing.

                    “How can you call yourself a liberal and then think it is a ok, for the Police, to form unions to insulate themselves from accountability?”

                    Because I don’t like to see anyone punished arbitrarily without some kind of due process, even cops.

                    1. Who is more important cops or civilians? No system is perfect. Which side do you err towards protecting? Police or civilians? If you say you support police unions, your answer is the former and you are essentially saying cops are more important than the people they serve. No thank you.

                    2. Because I don’t like to see anyone punished arbitrarily without some kind of due process, even cops.

                      You’re conflating coercive punishment (fines, jail, etc) with the exercise of freedom of association. Firing an employee is the latter and requires no due process.

                    3. You’re conflating coercive punishment (fines, jail, etc) with the exercise of freedom of association. Firing an employee is the latter and requires no due process.

                      Unless the employment agreement calls for it.

                    4. “I’m a big fan of Balko and nearly always in his cases the police administration argues the cop did the right thing.”

                      It’s not a for-profit company and the administration is not usually held accountable by anyone for letting their workers fuck up and get the city sued, so there’s no major opposing interest between management and labor.

                      Why should the workers and the administration be at odds any more than the workers and the union leaders?

                    5. “Because I don’t like to see anyone punished arbitrarily without some kind of due process*, even cops.”

                      * – Taking someone’s money and giving it to someone else excluded, of course.

          2. “And the fact that they make it impossible for bad cops to be fired or ever held accountable for their actions.”

            Also true for teachers in the US and sanitation workers in NY.

        2. Police unions also help enforce the “blue wall of silence”, which is one of the biggest obstacles to correcting police abuses of power.

          1. But…but… what about Internal Affairs?? I thought they were there to clean up the dirty bureaus!

        3. Iirc police unions got their start with amazingly arbitrary and authoritarian police chiefs as fostered by Progressive era reforms. The officers just could not take it any more.

          The government is a force for evil in the world, a cold monster of exploitation and destruction. But what an employer! I couldn’t imagine the government exploiting its own workers!

          1. Do you know Snookie?

  10. Because all throughout history, sailors have had a reputation of being monks and choirboys. We sure can’t have them cracking dirty jokes!

    What’s sad is that Captain Honors is one of the best guys they have in uniform. Becoming qualified to run a modern aircraft carrier isn’t exactly easy.

    I miss the days when the high ranking brass actually had to fight in the wars alongside their officers and men. Today most of them are nothing but goldbricking political bureaucrats.

    1. “Today most of them are nothing but goldbricking political bureaucrats.”

      Sad but true. You don’t get ahead in the military by making waves. You get ahead by telling people what they want to hear.

    2. What days were those? As far back as the Civil War, anyone above the rank of brigadier general was usually behind the lines. Exceptions of course: Corps leader Gen. Reynolds at Gettysburg. On the other hand, Division Leader Gen. Pickett and his staff emerged unbloodied from “Picketts Charge” that destroyed his division.

      1. That is not fair to Pickett. He was on the field that day and exposed to a lot of danger. He was everywhere a division commander should have been. No one ever to my knowledge called Pickett a coward. And back then people didn’t shy away from making such an accusation.

        1. You are right, but the fact that not one of his staff was wounded – on a field that saw such carnage – led many to believe Pickett was cowering somewhere West of the Emmitsburg Road.
          Most historians now believe he advanced at least as far as the Codori Barn and perhaps as far as the “slash” of rocks in front of Cemetary Ridge.
          You must admit, however, that his attendence at the shad bake during Five Forks left something to be desired.

        2. And back then, such an accusation would have probably resulted in a duel.

          Unless, of course, the accuser was right.

          1. I don’t consider myself a coward, but I’d take my chances against one guy with a pistol rather than a row of 100 with rifles.

  11. Do we really want to live in a world where the captain of the Enterprise can’t engage in lewd and inappropriate behavior?

    1. No videos of green chicks in showers.

      1. I don’t remember Picard ever getting it on with anyone but space Jean Grey.

        Ohhhhhhhh, you meant the other captain.

        1. That was the same chick that played Jean Grey? Patrick Steward robs the cradle…

        2. He also banged that thief girl a few times, as well as his “wife” in that weird-ass episode where a dead civilization stole him for a bit so he could lead a lifetime there.

          1. He was in bed with Q but “nothing happened” (that’s the entry in the captians official log anyway)

        3. The guy played by Alan Ruck?

        4. You’re referring to Kamala in “The Perfect Mate”, but they never got it on. That was kind of the whole point of the episode.

          He was supposed to have been more of a stallion back in his Academy days, as seen in “Tapestry”.

          1. There’s such a thing as emotional intercourse, Tulpa.

          2. What about all of the assumed sex with Data on the holodeck?

            1. Who had to clean up the holodeck, anyway?

              1. Wesley, I hope.

  12. There should be a union for ship captains, to defend them against capricious and arbitrary termination and oppression!

  13. The most offensive bit was comparing gays to surface warefare officers.

    “Gay” is just a polite euphemism for “Marine” isn’t it?

    1. One of my all time favorite jokes, told to me by my submariner father:

      Why do they have Marines on board Navy ships?

      Answer 1: Because sheep would be too obvious.

      Answer 2: So the sailors have someone to dance with.

      That joke has been the mainstay of my screwing with jarheads for years now. That, and asking them who the Secretary of the Marine Corps is. It always pains Marines to admit they’re really part of the Navy.

      1. It always pains Marines to admit they’re really part of the Navy.

        Actually, what pains Marines is to admit that the Navy is really part of the Marine Corp.

      2. I like your dad already.

        MT1(ss) GoNavy

      3. A Marine & a Sailor walk into a head (bathroom), use the urinals and as the sailor begins to walk out, the Marine says: “In the Marine Corps, they teach us to wash our hands.”

        The sailor replies: “In the Navy, they teach us not to piss on our hands.”

  14. How would you operationalize “poverty?”

    Raise the marginal tax rate to 96%.

    What did I win?

  15. Before I go to actually do some work, Kick-Ass in Seattle!

    http://www.seattlepi.com/local/430430_super19.html

    “Seattle police say a group of self-described superheroes have been patrolling the streets at night trying to save people from crime. They call themselves the Rain City Superhero Movement and say they’re part of a nationwide movement of real-life crime fighters.”

    And this vomit inducing part:

    “Police say they hope the self-proclaimed superheroes act as good witnesses instead of putting themselves in danger. “

    1. Don’t try to protect anyone, just call 9-1-1. Because when seconds matter, cops are only minutes (or hours) away.

    2. Alan Moore predicted this would happen.

    1. I need a cup of General Foods International Coffee ™…

    2. They’re burning it immediately afterward, right? Otherwise, her essence will just move into another body.

  16. Boehner –

    “What they want is a government that is honest, accountable and responsive to their needs — a government that respects individual liberty, honors our heritage, and bows before the public it serves.”

    Pelosi –

    “The American people voted to restore integrity and honesty in Washington, D.C., and the Democrats intend to lead the most honest, most open and most ethical Congress in history,”

    Ho-hum.

    1. I like the “bows before the public it serves” part.

      Makes me feel like Zod.

      1. That’s the way it should be. If a Congressman is walking and a constituent comes up to him, the Congressman should kowtow until told that he may rise before the constituent.

  17. http://www.economist.com/node/17722650

    Great article on late medieval warfare.

    1. That makes me think of Cold Steel’s sword videos. Watching them chop a horse head in half really, really makes me want to waste money on a sword.

    2. This is one of the most interesting passages, I think.

      Yet as a group the Towton men are a reminder that images of the medieval male as a homunculus with rotten teeth are well wide of the mark. The average medieval man stood 1.71 metres tall?just four centimetres shorter than a modern Englishman. “It is only in the Victorian era that people started to get very stunted,” says Mr Kn?sel. Their health was generally good. Dietary isotopes from their knee-bones show that they ate pretty healthily. Sugar was not widely available at that time, so their teeth were strong, too.

      1. In the comments, there is an interesting bit about the English economy at the time in response to your quote.

        The 1460’s was when the wool trade was at its peak…to drag in some boring economic stuff. England and Burgundy (Belgium) colluded to cut out France. A sack of best English wool fetched ten pounds… a sack of Spanish wool two shillings.

        There was more cleared land than was needed to feed the population… thanks to the Black death.

        There were a hundred saints’ days and holy days in addition to Sundays… the four day work week was the norm.

        Zero taxation of course: The king lived of his own. The aristocracy played at politics.

        The standard of living for ordinary folk was at its peak: in terms of shelter, food and fuel. It was not to be reached again until after the first world war.

        One anecdote should suffice…At the monastery of Holy Cross outside Winchester, any tradesman or merchant on his travels could drop in for a free meal…roast lamb without potatoes… There’s the downside!… which was presented to the wayfarer on a silver platter… He provided his own knife of course… And afterwards he could walk off with the platter. Saved on the washing up!

        That should give some idea of the relative wealth of England in the mid fifteenth century… before the great squeeze set in… when the Hapsburgs got control of Burgundy and Spain and cut England out of the action… and the Reformation eliminated most holidays… and the new gentry landlord class, that supplanted the monasteries and the aristocracy, set about raising the rents. But I digress.

        Mutilation and dismemberment are all very fine, but economics can be jolly interesting too.

        1. Interesting indeed, and perhaps true, but it strikes me as akin to those stories hippies used to tell me about how technology and modernization ruined human life, because hunter-gatherers only worked 20 hours per week and lived fulfilling lives of sleeping and screwing.

  18. what appear to be two female sailors in a shower together.

    Appear to be? If they’re not sure, that sounds like a video I don’t want to see.

    1. For another couple months, at least, we can’t ask and they can’t tell.

  19. Now here is a Wikileaks cable that is actually revealing.

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