The State of the Governor

So–I poured a stiff drink and listened to Mike Pence deliver (his version of) the “State of the State.”

The word “smarmy” comes to mind.

There is much that might be said about this particular effort to put lipstick on a pig–the state he described is not one I recognized, nor the state that widely available data describes.  (My son, with whom I was watching, asked what grade I would give a student whose assignment was to deliver an accurate assessment of Indiana’s economic and social well-being and utterly failed to do so.)

There were some truly cringeworthy moments. The Governor, you may be surprised to learn, is “honored to be the Commander in Chief” of Indiana’s National Guard. At the conclusion of the forced, wooden speech—a pastiche of talking points and trite adages that met with dutiful but definitely not enthusiastic applause—he declaimed several lines from  “On the Banks of the Wabash.”

The part of the speech that the entire state was waiting for—the Governor’s position on extending state civil rights protections to LGBT Hoosiers—came at the end, and the Governor’s discomfort was palpable.

Pence assured everyone that he had “prayed” about the issue. (Clearly he hadn’t thought about it—but then, nothing in the speech gave evidence of much thought.) He reprised his “Hoosiers are good people who don’t discriminate” mantra and then engaged in a rambling discourse about the importance of religious liberty.

Bottom line: he won’t sign a bill that deprives religious folks of their ability to act on their beliefs everywhere—including at work.

There are two rather obvious responses to that declaration, one legal and one political.

First, the Constitution protects citizens’ right to believe anything. Full stop. It does not, however, protect an untrammeled right to act on the basis of religious doctrine. If my sincerely held religious belief requires me to sacrifice my first-born, or take drugs, or murder abortion doctors, or cheat nonbelievers, the government has the right to step in and say “too far.”

People of good will can disagree about the specific rules that are necessary to a fair and functioning society, but the Constitutions of the United States and Indiana have never been interpreted to privilege socially harmful behaviors simply because those behaviors are religiously motivated.

Second—and here, I admit to more than a bit of shadenfreude—Governor Pence has wedged himself firmly between a political rock and hard place.

The religious extremists who have always been his base will desert him in a heartbeat if he signs any bill that, in their eyes, “legitimizes” LGBT Hoosiers. Meanwhile, polls confirm that a solid majority of Indiana voters support adding “four words and a comma” to the state’s civil rights statute. And given this administration’s other blunders—its unremitting war on public education and  Glenda Ritz, the proposed “news bureau,” the lack of attention to Indiana’s crumbling infrastructure, etcetera etcetera—Pence simply does not have political capital sufficient to weather widespread disapproval of this particular culture war battle.

The wooden and forced delivery of last night’s platitudes suggests that the reality of his position is beginning to dawn on our “Christian soldier” Governor.




84 thoughts on “The State of the Governor

  1. He deserves every bit of pain he will suffer. The people who voted him in deserve every bit of pain they will receive also. When he was in Congress he never sponsored one bill of legislation, not one. And he was one of the main people advocating to shut the government down…remember the famous video clip “SHUT IT DOWN”, well you see where that got us. A mess for the government!

    Pence backers you better be ready to be run out of office. I can’t wait to hear Mike McDaniels back up this speech on “Indiana Week In Review” this Friday. LOL!!

  2. The Governor implied we should take it on faith that the good people of Indiana won’t fire you, deny you housing or deny you service if you happen to be gay or transgendered. No need to write it into law. Hoosier hospitality will suffice. While I am thankful for so many great Hoosiers in this State where that supposition is exactly true, the Governor is pathetically blind and naive to believe there aren’t many more who would do precisely this and more as long as the law allows (and as we have sometimes seen even when it does not). The Governor infered as he has in the past said that a person’s right to deeply held religious beliefs are somehow in danger. Only the person’s ability to discriminate based on religious beliefs are in danger here. And as the Gov says the people don’t do that. So why should they care if it is enshrined in law? Oh yeah. He’s talking out both sides of his mouth again. He has nailed himself to his own proverbial cross. Time takes it from here.

  3. Too bad I missed Pence’s state of the state so, thanks for your summary.

    I stayed up all night and watched the SOTU address by President Obama. I believe it was his best speech yet. I loved the way he showed the country that the only people to have a 30 yr job with retirement and benefits were sitting in the Chamber. So very true. And to make voting easier rather than harder for ALL Americans. It was very uplifting to hear the progress we’ve made in the world and how we are overcome economic turmoil vs when he took office. He makes me proud to be an American Abroad. I know he’s not perfect but you have to remember what he’s had to deal with for 8 yrs. I loved the way he shared many of Bernie Sander’s vision of America and her politics. #FeelTheBern Truly an American legend Obama is and I’ll miss him.

  4. I watched the governor’s address. I found myself responding out loud to some of his ludicrous statements about education, infrastructure, employment and health care. Maybe he’s discovered the benefits of medical marijuana.

  5. So now we know beyond all doubt that the RFRA issue is no longer an issue – it has been prayed about and decided once and for all by Pence who is one of the snake-handling preachers in this backward state. We can all hope that he will be bitten in the ass by this particular RFRA snake and will leave his pulpit, religious zealot tail between his legs, come January 1, 2017.

    Pence made no reference to the fact that Indiana Legislature is working hard on the “lax gun control” referred to by President Obama last week in his speech regarding the Executive Action he has taken. We were again thrown into national headlines and embarrassed by our early 20th Century hold on reality. This Executive Action consists primarily of supporting existing federal measures; with a few relatively small twists in language but no hard-line action demanded and no civil rights usurped, leaving the 2nd Amendment intact. “Our” Legislature is working hard to pass even stronger support for NO gun control; in their minds this 200 year old state still needs to be armed to shoot Injuns and b’ars lurking behind every bush and tree. Pence might have put the minds of NRA and local over-the-top gun owning enthusiasts at ease during this speech that the law passed here in 2011 allows the NRA to file suit against the state if actual gun control laws are passed. This includes being required to report to authorities any lost or stolen weapons in the bill submitted by the City-County Council which Ballard vetoed, citing that law. So he left that “elephant in the room” totally alone.

    For myself; the best part of Pence’s empty State of the State Address was that it ended our misery quickly, after approximately only 25 minutes.

  6. Oh, I forgot to mention that the BBC interviewed Luke Messer from Indiana immediately following the SOTU address! What a comedy that was. Ugh.

  7. I guess if you are giving grades I will take a “W” for withdrew. I could not watch it after a few minutes. It was like someone wrote the speech for him and forced him to give it. Pence had to give the nod and the wink about praying. The Bible Thumpers in the Republican Party will have to introduce more legislation to try to please their base. I suppose teaching biblical creationism will be high on the list.

  8. Thank you Sheila for this synopsis as I missed the SoS speech and woke up eager for good news about this….silly me…I should go back to bed. Many times through the holidays I held up a glass and toasted to Pences last year in office; I’m hopeful we can achieve this but, where oh where is the democratic candidate? Or any other candidate for that matter?

  9. I would have liked to point out to Mr. Pence that jihadists are also acting upon their “sincerely held religious beliefs”. How nice for them that their actions will be protected here in Indiana. People whose religious beliefs HURT OTHER PEOPLE are the ones citizens should be protected against!

  10. The governor finished his speech, at 8:58pm his minions shut off his voicemail box. Do you think he was being inundated with phone calls about his stance on this issue. He can’t take the push back from the majority of Hoosiers. He was not elected to serve the few, he was elected to serve us all. Vote him out!

  11. I thought that it was an interesting night at the national level.

    President Obama in my mind added to why I believe that history will regard him as one of the best. Truly a man of the people.

    Gov Haley was far and away the best of the Republican counter punchers to his SOTU efforts. She was warm and open sounding; she chided her party for removing statesmanship from politics; she effectively advertised her state and herself.

    The difference? He talked about real problems for real Americans. She about problems the GOP has had to make up in order to suck up to a dysfunctional base. The base that their desperate media mind control created.

    Immigration. Taxes. Debt. ACA.

    Gov Haley also launched a theme to solve a real problem that the GOP created for themselves. Trump. A force also growing off of Republican media mind control but one that is not Republican.

    They have spent decades molding a base; the perfect Petri dish for growing viral anti-Americans who would vote for the destruction of America demonstrated by the Chaney regime; the sell off of the country to monied interests who would pay for the media mind control that would vote the brokers in.

    Dr Hyde meet Herr Frankenstein. Now what?

  12. It seems my fellow Christians are complaining the most loudly about serving LGBT folks. The Christian Bible commands us to treat others as ourselves, to love others, and even to love our enemies. That suggests to me that Christians should welcome opportunities to witness our faith by serving others of all persuasions and sexual orientation.

  13. Sheila: “First, the Constitution protects citizens’ right to believe anything. Full stop. It does not, however, protect an untrammeled right to act on the basis of religious doctrine. If my sincerely held religious belief requires me to sacrifice my first-born, or take drugs, or murder abortion doctors, or cheat nonbelievers, the government has the right to step in and say “too far.”

    “Full stop. It does not, however, protect an untrammeled right to act on the basis of religious doctrine.”

    I’m starting to see confirmation on my theory of the DalJaxIndy Triangle.

    I attended the meeting of the Jacksonville City Council last night on the LGBT Human Rights Ordinance. By far, the largest group there had stickers pasted to their breasts entitled: “First Liberty.” So at first, I sat among this group thinking that it must mean something positive like “Freedom from Discrimination.” My mistake, the definition of First Liberty is: You are free to discriminate under the First Amendment. So I pasted the other sticker on my breast that was being handed out, entitled: “Equality.”

    After sitting with the “Equality” group for a few minutes before the City Council was in session, I got up and left. I decided not to waste any more time with this City. They aren’t going to pass the ordinance. And if they do, the Mayor won’t go along. I’d rather make Jacksonville a target for a “boycott.” I warned three of the Council members back in November 2013 that I was going to be forced to do that.

    Mayor Curry is in bed with Governor Scott. As I have mentioned before Jacksonville is a prototype “Tea Party City” with a $2,700,000,000 dollar deficit in the Police/Fireman Pension Plan That’s right 2.7 billion. With no funds to reduce it.

    I hope the people in Indianapolis wake up in time.

    Sheila: “And given this administration’s other blunders—its unremitting war on public education and Glenda Ritz, the proposed “news bureau,” the lack of attention to Indiana’s crumbling infrastructure, etcetera etcetera—Pence simply does not have political capital sufficient to weather widespread disapproval of this particular culture war battle.”

    You need to listen to Sheila before it is too late. Don’t end up like Jacksonville: NOT ONLY BRAIN DEAD BUT ALSO, FINANCIALLY DEAD IN THE WATER.

  14. I don’t know why we bother to argue the issues. This guy is a minimally intelligent drone put in place to represent the interests of big money by pandering to the majority of Hoosiers, who are low-IQ, uneducated, and brainwashed by organized superstition. Indiana is a “RED state,” which should mean Red alert: Effectively too Dumb for self governance.

  15. Marv; as always, you rock!

    Declining health forced me to move back to this God forsaken city (contrary to Pence’s preaching) from Port Richey, Florida, in August 2001. Just in time to be settled in to watch 9/11 unfold in all it’s horror. I miss Florida every day; were I still living in beautiful Pasco County on the Gulf of Mexico, I would be under the same governmental thumb of Republicans and fearing the same number of gun nuts but…I wouldn’t be imprisoned in my home by ice, snow and frigid temperatures with my car buried under inches of snow on top of a thick coating of ice. So; with all of the problems you have in Jacksonville, appreciate the fact that you could leave your home and drive safely to that City Council meeting:) Just call me Pollyanna!

  16. I wonder if there was a State of the State watch party at the First Church of Cannabis?

  17. Pete,

    “President Obama in my mind added to why I believe that history will regard him as one of the best. Truly a man of the people.”

    “The difference? He talked about real problems for real Americans. She about problems the GOP has had to make up in order to suck up to a dysfunctional base. The base that their desperate media mind control created.”

    You are really hitting on all cylinders today. First, I agre 100% with you positive comments on President Obama and second, with your comment on the dysfunctional base in the Republican Party?

    I would only add from my deep background perspective dysfuntional=fascist.

  18. Shepherds have always known that their control over semi domesticated animal herds is at best approximate. Herds can be influenced but not controlled, even by the most skilled.

    Why? Because each herd member is influenced by more things than the shepherd; like the neighboring animals for example.

    The shepherd might want the herd to go this way walking but all of a sudden it’s going that way at full gallop.

    Republicans have spent several decades improving their herding skills and thought that between that and improving the herd they had control.

    Not so. The range is full of predators: the NRA, evangelists, fossil fuel companies, reality (science), spouses, evolution, progress, Trump, etc. The herd sees all.

    What’s the shepherd to do? He can’t get the herd to market when every shiny object stampedes them.

    Personally I choose living free, informed and unafraid rather than being herded. No matter how soothing the song of the shepherd.

  19. He’ll weather any storm that comes his way if the Democrats don’t get their act together and get an open and aggressive gubernatorial campaign going. And that means doing much more than just sending emails to those of us who’ve opted-in to receive them. He’s not going to vote himself out of office, and neither is anyone else if the turnout is as bad as it was in the last two state-wide election cycles. The political agnostics, ticket splitters (remember, Ritz got more votes than Pence), and on-the-fence Republicans have to be convinced -and not just at the last minute- to vote for someone other than Pence. If Pence gets a second term, and at this point I’m not so sure he won’t, the IDP will have only itself to blame.

  20. From recent Article re AMA report:

    “If there’s any proof that the Republican Party lives in a reality entirely of their own creation, where the truth is made up and facts don’t matter, it’s their reaction to the Obamacare program. No matter how many times they attempt to repeal it, every one is met with another report trumpeting the program’s success. Which is obviously why it makes sense for the Senate to waste even more taxpayer money on yet another attempt to repeal the law. President Obama’s healthcare law has changed the face of America for the better, and it is here to stay.”

  21. Thank you, Sheila! A perfect synopsis of the State of Pence! We can only hope that in November things will change.

  22. Thank you, Sheila. Are there hordes of Christian Hoosiers that I am unaware of that fear for their lives on their way to church? Are they having to meet in secret back rooms due to fear of persecution? What am I missing that we are to take on faith that Hoosiers are good enough folks that they would not discriminate, but apparently not good enough folk to allow each individual to worship as they see fit? I’m not a Gregg fan, but apparently I need to start working my rear off to get Pence out ASAP. Unbelievable.

  23. I loved your explanation of religious freedom and of course the image of Pence being wedged between a rock and a hard place made me smile.

  24. As a coincidence, we have the visual and oral comparison between Pence and Obama just minutes apart in delivering their addresses. Pence looks like, and is, an amateur; I have to believe that even Republicans are shaking their lowered heads today as they whisper to each other about his performance. One may not agree with everything the President had to say, but his leadership and his ability to frame important issues is undeniable. He was able to describe his vision for the US in the coming decades in terms of four issues. Pence made up some statistics to support his “success” and introduced the Teacher of the Year. Sadly, Indiana seems perfectly content to settle for second-rate legislators, including the governor.

    Unless you do something, it’s not going to change.

  25. Sheila, your synopsis of Pence’s SoS address affirms what I assumed he would say and I had no intention of wasting one second of my time to listen to that buffoon.

  26. Thank you for the synopsis. I could not force myself to watch him. Let him return to talk radio and let his followers listen to him there.

  27. I did not watch Pence’s State of the State address; however, I did read a summation Online. Of course, he lacks all charisma and any form of presence when speaking, but with that said, I was curious this morning and wondered where he developed his primitive and stubborn adherence to a rigid form of ultra-conservative Christianity.

    I began with a quick look on Wikipedia where his faith is listed as Protestant which told me what I’d already surmised; he belongs to a non-denomination church. Then I ran across a website that lists the religious affiliations of US Congress members where I learned that Pence, at least in 2005, was a member of a non-denominational church in Greenwood, IN – The Community Church of Greenwood.

    The church’s beliefs are listed at the below website where, no surprise, we learn the first belief is that the Bible is infallible and is the authority and basis for all decisions. He didn’t need to pray or to think about his decision. His mind was already made up because the Bible told him so.

  28. I find myself relieved to realize that Pinnochio’s problem does not affict heads of state because neither Pence nor Obama could have gotten their noses through the door to exit their chamber.

  29. Pence fails to realize that there is a big difference between practicing your religion and forcing your religion on others. If you want to practice your religion you are free to do so, but you are not able to do it at your place of business that is open to the public. At that point you have to make a decision, i.e., do I want to open a bakery where I know I will have to serve everyone or do I simply, knowing this fact, decide to not open a bakery because it compromises my belief to an intolerable level. Business requirements vary from city to city, county to county, state to state, and country to country. Everyday businesses are forced to assess the pros and cons of opening a business in a certain location. Sometimes they decide that the sacrifice is too great and do not open the business and other times they decide it is not, and open the business. Wrapping yourself in the American flag and clutching a bible should not exempt one from following the laws of the land.

  30. I had to chuckle when I read the beginning of your post – I used the phrase “lipstick on a pig” when Pence was running for Governor as he seemed to be glossing over his radical conservative beliefs! There is just something about that man that makes that phrase come to life!!! Although I no longer live in Indiana, I am hoping that you all vote him out of office soon. Thanks for leading the charge!!!!

  31. Pete! Since you asked, a brief summary of some issues with SOTU. 1) check the record, I think POTUS attends fewer intelligence briefings than Rubio attends Senate votes. 2) He claims nations dare not attack us. Why? Because of his famous red line in Syria? Or maybe it is because of all those sorties over ISIL–no wait, we need the monthly total daily. 3) what has opening up with Cuba done for the cause of freedom? 4) so proud of his investment I clean energy? Solyndra and what else? 5) Still blaming the financial crisis on Wall Street. The government forced lending to those who could not afford the mortgage. The big banks, recognizing that these were high risk, pawned that risk off on unsuspecting investors. That strategy is definitely reprehensible, but as early as ’06, Bush and minority members of Barney Frank’s committee urged restraint but Barney ignored them and said fannymae and freddiemac were just fine. 6) As I have explained before, ACA created a situation where tens of millions of people are much worse off with much more expensive coverage, tripled deductibles and more. People with subsidized coverage who remain healthy, but those with claims, except for those on Medicaid will be broke from one illness because ridiculous deductibles. 7) How does he say economic growth with a straight face? Lowest labor participation rate in 3/4 of a century, median income down more than $5,000 from 8 years ago, extra what, 15 million on food stamps and worst of all, the assertion that this pathetic recovery is all we can expect in the future. 8) The last point is technically correct but ridiculously misleading. He has reduced the deficit by 3/4 (actually 69+%, but close enough). Now for the misleading part. Candidate Obama ran saying that Bush’s $456 billion deficit was unpatriotic and then promptly bumped that by almost $1 trillion. It took 6 years to work it back down to Bush’s unpatriotic level during which he more than doubled the national debt. As I said, that last one is factually accurate but at least incredibly disingenuous.

  32. Ken. 1 is a lie on your part.
    2. What country has ever attacked us?
    3. What did 50 years of not recognizing Cuba do for freedom.
    4. The loss of the Solyndra money wasn’t as great as annual federal subsidies for fossil fuels which have no future at all.
    5. Your refusal to hold Wall St accountable for their actions is just not based on reality.
    6. Tell me what no Republican can ever answer. How can a health insurance market place and requiring folks to be responsible for their own health care and subsidizing folks who business doesn’t pay a living wage to raise health care costs?
    7. Do you have any recollection of the Great Recession that resulted from conservative economic policy?
    8. You obviously believe that all of Bush’s policies ended the moment of his final escape to Crawford. Why?

    What I like about you Ken is how reliably you reinforce the herd mentality of conservatives. Your world is just not the real one and you absolutely refuse to accept the blatant truth.

    Living outside of reality is always destined to fail.

  33. If you need a lesson on Wall Street’s crash in 08, pick up the book “The Big Short” or if you’re pressed for time, watch the movie that is out right now. Only 2 hrs of your time and you’ll be up to speed on how it all happened.

  34. The presentation I watched featured song-and-dance with few specifics and a fictionalized story-line. I had DVR’d (I think “DVR’d” is a verb now) “Yankee Doodle Dandy” starring that lion of the Left (only kidding) James Cagney. Astaire and Kelly were better at the song-and-dance. Then again, I thought Henry Fonda and Harrison Ford played better Presidents than Reagan. I liked the comments here from so many of you, as always.

  35. Pete! I acknowledged Wall Street’s role in the recession. You criticize me for a herd mentality and yet your answers are always right out of the liberal playbook. I have a liberal friend who claims deficits and the national debt don’t matter. You prefer to imply that 7 years and more than $10 trillion later that it is STILL Bush’s fault. ACA (which stands for Affordable Care Act) raised premiums by 50%-500% on everyone whose income is above poverty to insure 5? 10 million? You always claim conservatives don’t want to cover those people. False! There was no reason (particularly when deficit spending doesn’t matter) to turn everyone’s life upside down to help 3% of the population. They could have covered those people more effectively with the money the wasted on site development and repair. You are free to parrot the liberal mantra and in this group the rest will nod there heads in agreement in perfect herd mentality. I continue to hope that we might begin a dialogue that gets two sides working to resolve the complex problems of this country. The problem is that I think you are wrong while you believe I am stupid and/or evil. If you do not need my “herd” to get this country where you want it, then your strategy is fine (although not very charitable). Thanks for continuing the discussion.

  36. Ken Glass; ACA did NOT raise health care premiums…insurance companies have raised their premiums and their annual deductibles regularly for years, medical care providers have raised their premiums and co-pays regularly for years…I don’t think I need to mention big pharma and their outrageous cost escalations as it it a matter of public knowledge.

    When the life-saving medication for my dying daughter, who was near death the 5th time before someone stepped in to aid her, cost $1,152.58 PER PILL…don’t look to ACA to blame. Look directly at big pharma, ruled as all big business is, by Wall Street which is owned by the 1% who also own our current Congress. None of it is connected to ACA; it is an ongoing scourge in this country.

  37. JoAnn, I never suggested that Wall Street and big pharma have no role in problems with health care but you are deluded of you do not think that widespread increases in premiums and deductibles did not go through the roof because of ACA. The big lie was premiums will drop $2500 per household. ACA limits premium retention by companies to 8% for administration and profit. Our financial problems would be solved if government only spent 8% on administration. Conservatives want to resolve the uninsured problems in this country, without devastating the entire population. If you want to rail against the 1% because your daughter’s medication costs are outrageous, I understand, but surely you don’t think that young healthy people just starting out in life should pay triple premiums to make it happen.

  38. Pete; Your right about Obamacare fixing the face of America, but now how do we fix the brains behind those faces?

  39. I thought that the references between Obama and Haley the other night about political rancor were enlightened.

    After Bush slunk away and Cheney returned to whatever cave he lives in the GOP made it absolutely clear in every media outlet that they were going to raise rancor to previously unheard of levels. They were going to unilaterally resist any and all efforts by Democrats to govern regardless of the needs of the country. And they were going to do that in the most odious of ways.

    And they did. And it took liberals a couple of years to accept those new rules of engagement. Now I for one have decided that it takes fire to fight fire. While their rancor was completely dysfunctional it was effective as a power play and drove the herd towards believing that Obama was as bad as Cheney, a perfectly rediculous concept.

    When that happened Republicans drew from the Alinsky playbook the well known ploy to accuse your opponents of your most effective strategy and put them on the defensive.

    That’s where we are now.

    Now my fondest hope is for the return of a functional Republican Party as a counterpoint for a liberalized Democratic Party. There is no way for that to happen given the rancor that Republicans lowered political discourse to or the anti American conservatism that it resulted, perhaps unintentionally, in. So my intention is to use their rancor until conservatism is small enough to take home and drown in the bathtub.

    Anti Americanism is intolerable. Let’s treat it that way.

  40. Ken, a hint. Deficits are a perfectly legitimate tool for funding short term expenditures to provide long term benefits. Good government examples (there are many more business and family examples) are wars and recessions/depressions.

    So, President Obama has opined, let’s avoid wars and economic disasters.

    All Republicans disagree.

  41. Pete! Is there no limit to deficits? How can a $500 billion deficit be unpatriotic, but a $1.5 trillion deficit be wonderful? Even if you can saddle Bush with the first $2 trillion of what I call Obama’s deficits, he still managed to double the national debt. There must be some limit!

    BTW, unlike democrats, all republicans do not disagree (or agree) with anything except over-spending by democrats.

  42. Ken, I saddle Bush with the cost of the impact of his policies. There was an OMB report in 2001 that said if Bush continued Clinton’s economic policies we’d be debt free by 2006 and have a $2.5T surplus by the end of his presumed 8 year reign.

    Obviously he listened to Cheney instead.

    So almost all of our debt now is the result of his policies. Bad enough, but on top of that we now can’t afford to fix the real problems that are facing us like climate change and health care.

    Good Presidents change the country for the better for many decades following their turn. Bad Presidents change country for the worse for many decades following their turn, and Bush was the worst.

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