A simple idea.

Many many years ago, when I was a mere infant, it seems, a columnist for my paper took offense at Hillary Clinton’s oft-used African proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This has always, always seemed to me to be a simple, even banal, bit of common sense. We look out for one another and especially for children. You don’t learn every single thing from your parents; no family is an island. We all watch a movie about it every year at Christmastime. D’ya know me, Bert? My mouth’s bleedin’!

Anyway, this writer wrote a column with the headline “The village won’t raise my kid,” and oh, the love poured in, fists shaking at that non-cookie baker, Hillary Clinton. Parents raise children, not villages! And so on.

Again, I never understood why this was seen as some big deal. Hillary wasn’t advocating for institutional care or re-education camps or anything else, only decent schools and health care and a functional society that looks after its most helpless members. But my mind doesn’t work the way some do.

Gail Collins recently wrote a column about a chapter in history I knew nothing about — the attempt, by Walter Mondale, to pass a national program of preschool education.

Mondale’s Comprehensive Child Development Act was a bipartisan bill, which passed 63 to 17 in the Senate. It was an entitlement, and, if it had become law, it would have been one entitlement for little children in a world where most of the money goes to the elderly.

…The destruction of his bill was one of the earliest victories of the new right. “The federal government should not be in the business of raising America’s children. It was a political and ideological ideal of great importance,” Pat Buchanan once told me. He was working at the White House when the bill reached Nixon’s desk, and he helped write the veto message. He spoke about this achievement with great pride.

This is preschool we’re talking about. Preschool.

I don’t follow political news as obsessively as some people do, but this story did catch my eye, about an MSNBC personality who said much the same thing. Headline: “Why caring for children is not just a parent’s job.” Fightin’ words!

Of course, common sense tells us we do this every day — entrust our children to others. Relatives, babysitters, scoutmasters, etc. The headline said not just a parent’s job, not not ever. But that didn’t stop the backlash; Rich Lowry’s response is typical, and typically dumb:

As the ultimate private institution, the family is a stubborn obstacle to the great collective effort. Insofar as people invest in their own families, they are holding out on the state and unacceptably privileging their own kids over the children of others. These parents are selfish, small-minded, and backward. “Once it’s everybody’s responsibility,” Harris-Perry said of child-rearing, “and not just the households, then we start making better investments.”

I just sprained by eyeballs, rolling them. Does everything have to be culture war? Can’t we agree on anything as simple as “kids should be looked after by everyone.” You’d think.

Well, let’s hop to the bloggage and I’ll watch “Southland.”

I’m growing weary of the Roger Ebert stories, but a few gems are still coming down the sluice. This one, by the author of the story that Ebert “hated, hated, hated, hated, hated,” is pretty good.

For you “Mad Men” fans, the complete quips of Roger Sterling.

Bedtime approaches. Let’s have a good Thursday.

Posted at 12:30 am in Media |

46 responses to “A simple idea.”

  1. Dexter said on April 11, 2013 at 1:02 am

    In 1953 I was four years old in the fall, which was kindergarten age then, but the school district had never provided kindergarten. A protestant church in the nearby tiny town provided the kindergarten school. Some parents banded together, brainstormed with the local pastors, decided on which church to use, and I got to go to kindergarten.

    This was not “church school” at all, this was a public school costing only a few dollars for supplies and the light bill, I suppose. I can’t recall any “Jesus talk” whatsoever.

    It does take a village, or a close-knit rural community in this case. I knew exactly what Hillary had been speaking of.

    For the decade of the eighties, my wife was a professional babysitter in our home. Only a few kids of the ever-changing clients were from nuclear families. One courageous mom had five small children and then her husband split. How can a man do that? Suffice it to say they do it all the time.

    My wife always followed the rules of nutrition for the kids and we never over-loaded the house, having two safe rooms with cots when in emergencies a kid might have to stay overnight. It takes a village when the young mothers have to work afternoon shifts in factories, that’s a fact. Those former young mothers and the now-grown kids still love my wife for her efforts. It takes a village.

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  2. Catherine said on April 11, 2013 at 1:35 am

    Sherri in the previous thread, thank you for the Weiner summary; now I don’t have to hear all his whingeing in my head.

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  3. Catherine said on April 11, 2013 at 1:38 am

    And the Hillary and Huma talk makes me wonder, what is it with these spectacular women (in Prospero’s words) with cheating cheaters for husbands? I’m not judging their decisions so much as worrying about my daughters.

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  4. coozledad said on April 11, 2013 at 2:37 am

    Glenda Jackson eviscerates Thatcher, and by extension, old turdshorts Reagan:

    Glenda should have been Prime Minister instead of that factory second piece of new age retail quim Tony Blair.

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  5. basset said on April 11, 2013 at 7:05 am

    >>D’ya know me, Bert? My mouth’s bleedin’!

    Someone explain that to me.

    Meanwhile, Mrs. B’s last day at work is tomorrow, next surgery is Tuesday as we continue to explore the fascinating world of disability applications.

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  6. Linda said on April 11, 2013 at 7:08 am

    Catherine: Add Mark Sanford’s (R-Appalacian Trail) wife to the list of sharp women with craptacular hubbies. She got ample warning: he had “faithful” dropped from his vows when they wed! So why did she even marry this guy? Not in spite of–but because of–being smart. When you’re really smart, you can’t be talked into anything stupid by others, but you can talk yourself into anything.

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  7. Linda said on April 11, 2013 at 7:09 am

    Basset: Nancy’s referring to It’s a Wonderful Life, where everybody in Bedford Falls looks after each other. Except Potter.

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  8. alex said on April 11, 2013 at 7:13 am

    I always thought Hillary was simply happy to let other women take on the knob polishing duties because they were beneath her dignity. It takes a village to service a man.

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  9. coozledad said on April 11, 2013 at 7:58 am

    Did Mrs. David Vitter have some prenup clause wherein she’d never have to get her ladybits in the vicinity of his shitty diaper?

    For some reason I can’t picture her washing his shirts and wondering why anyone would wear that dark a shade of lipstick.

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  10. Julie Robinson said on April 11, 2013 at 8:10 am

    And at 7:13 AM, a time when I’m often not even out of bed yet, Alex wins the thread!

    Basset, best wishes to you and Mrs. B for her surgery, recovery, and whatever comes next.

    All this it doesn’t take a village crap angers me for another reason: it completely disrespects the thousands of hours I spent volunteering in schools while my kids were there, and even after they graduated. On any given week it was between 5-10 hours: helping out in the classroom, being a librarian, driving field trips or to games, sewing costumes, fundraising, serving on boards, you name it, I did it. Are these people saying what I did was wrong?

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  11. Basset said on April 11, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Thanks, Julie… We are cautiously optimistic.

    And I have never, believe it or not, seen “It’s A Wonderful Life”… or quite a few other movies which seem to be cultural prerequisites.

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  12. Prospero said on April 11, 2013 at 8:28 am

    Um, Nancy Raygun was already pregnant with Ronnie’s spawn while he was still married to Jane Wyman. And the Raygun misAdministration’s assault on Head Start proved the value of the program, once and for all.

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  13. Mark P said on April 11, 2013 at 8:48 am

    I think the attacks on programs to help children are part of (and possibly a result of) the general Republican war on government. They have done their very best to portray government, any government, as the enemy of the people, and their success has caused damage that will haunt this country for years to come.

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  14. brian stouder said on April 11, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Potential formative experience: placing your child onto a schoolbus.

    The day I watched our 5 year old get onto the genuinely enormous yellow school bus, and then watched it roar away, the feeling was such a mix of hope and pride and fear and faith that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

    I will say that, in hindsight, that moment is uplifting and marvelous, but I think I saw where some people’s reflexive hostility comes from.

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  15. beb said on April 11, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Considering that the base of the Republican party is southern white males, I wonder if opposition to large government programs is based on Confederate dead-enders who see the Federal government as a foreign overlord rather than part of the community.

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  16. coozledad said on April 11, 2013 at 11:08 am

    The biggest federal tit-suckers out there are old southern white dudes. They just don’t want anyone else at the tits.
    If ag subsidies were halted today, every cracker asswipe in this county would have to go on a less Calvinist-approved form of public assistance. No one talks about stigmatizing cash crop monkeys, or drug testing them to receive benefits, but maybe that’s because everyone knows they’re so damned stupid they may as well be on some form of disability:
    These people are unfit for a free society. Natural serfs.

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  17. beb said on April 11, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Oh, come on, Cooz, everybody knows that most agricultural subsidies go to corporate farms and not private farmers….

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  18. JWfromNJ said on April 11, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Basset – RE: disability, be in for the long haul and toss logic out the door.
    even if your wife’s disability is obvious the state will deny her first application. Don’t even bother with an attorney for the first round. You want an attorney for the first appeal, which is held before an ALJ, administrative law judge.
    If you have a decent lawyer who bothered to read your wife’s file you may prevail. In my wife’s case she lost, and I ended up filing an appeal with the federal appeals council. I found arguments her lawyer didn’t raise and incontrovertible evidence from doctors that she was disabled. We waited 18 months on that appeal. But we saved 25% of her back payments from useless attorney. If you are in the Fort I have a good one to suggest, it was Florida where she got the run-around.

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  19. Bitter Scribe said on April 11, 2013 at 11:39 am

    This village-won’t-raise-my-kid crap is just the umpteenth gazillion iteration of the “gummint baaad” reflex. This has been driving conservatism ever since Reagan, or his handlers, realized that the bigots and the greedheads of America could be gathered into a huge coalition of people who were mad at the gummint because it didn’t let them abuse whomever they wanted to.

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  20. Scout said on April 11, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    I love Dexter’s comment at the top o’ the thread. Wonderful counter story to the anti-village idiots’. And yeah, it all comes down to reflexively opposing anything perceived as liberal, no matter how common-sense it seems to those of us who actually possess common sense.

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  21. Hattie said on April 11, 2013 at 1:06 pm

    Are younger people catching on that the Republicans would like to saddle them with the care of their elder relatives? That is what reducing SS and Medicare would do. The whole “family values” rhetoric is about forcing family members to provide free care for children, the handicapped and elders. And the givers of free care will be women in their most productive years, leaving the big prizes in jobs and other perks for the men.

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  22. devtob said on April 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    So we have to wait until tomorrow for your take on homeschooler Rick Santorum teaching Grosse Pointe South kids about leadership?

    Worth the wait, especially is you find out where that $18K really came from.

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    • nancy said on April 11, 2013 at 1:41 pm

      I think it’s wiser for me to hold my tongue on that one, but I think it’s safe to say it was one facepalm moment after another as that comedy of errors unfolded yesterday. That trap couldn’t have been better-marked with neon lights, and the administration walked right into it.

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  23. Dexter said on April 11, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    Thanks, Scout. 🙂

    This is for Professor J-Bo and Alex and other Chicago lovers.
    It’s an aerial photo shoot spanning a few years.

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  24. alex said on April 11, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Great photos, Dex. I have yet to see the new Frank Gehry bridge. Hope to have time to check it out next time I’m there.

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  25. Basset said on April 11, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    JW, we’re in Nashville and applying for both private and SSI… attorney comes well recommended and seems to be pretty together , so we’ll see.

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  26. Deborah said on April 11, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Enjoyed the photos Dexter, my building showed up in a few of them. What a great city!

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  27. JWfromNJ said on April 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    How did I miss the fact that Rudy Giulani is the likely nominee in the Arizona GOP primary against John MCCain for senate. When I say likely, it’s because there isn’t an open primary, and while McCain polls higher with “independents” who lean Republican, Rudy that dirtbag (who presumably will campaign on a 9-11 platform) polls higher with party regs.
    How did Arizona become the right wing elephant graveyard – Palin, now Rudy, and don’t forget Sheriff Joe or the booze hound governor. Scout help me out here.

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  28. alex said on April 11, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Dan Quayle, too, JW — although he was an heir of the Pulliam family who ran the Arizona Republic and the state was like his second home anyway.

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  29. Brandon said on April 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    These people are unfit for a free society. Natural serfs.–coozledad

    Coozledad, you might find relevant Thomas Moore’s poem “To the Lord Viscount Forbes”, with its line “Born to be slaves, and struggling to be lords.”

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  30. Prospero said on April 11, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    JW@27: That’s a noun, a verb, and 9/11. He’s going to bring Bernie Kerik to solicit donations from the Arizona Witness Protection Program Mobsters (he’s BFFs with most of them already) and cozy up to the Arpaio posse. A bottle of Boone’s Farm or Spanada ought to be enough to get Goobernor Brewski onboard.

    Everything Glenda Jackson says about Thatcher is true of Ronnie Raygun.

    Those aerial photos of Chicago are wonderful. I haven’t been in Chicago since 1968, and I didn’t get to see any of the good stuff that time. I spent the morning talking to a lawyer in Savannah about how to make my money last until it’s time to kick it. He’s telling me about eligibility for long-term medicaid. Not with Nikki “Heat” Haley, another SC goobernor that can’t keep her panties on.

    Beb@17: The situation seems to be that all of the family farmers are basically sharecropping for Big Farm, and federal money trickles down like urine from above.

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  31. Scout said on April 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    @JWfromNJ: You would not know this state is so bass-ackwards when you’re near any of the big universities or in central Phoenix. But get anywhere close to the ‘burbs or the outlands and you’ve got your assorted nut mix of Mormons, tea party douchebags and megachurch zombies. Add to that witchbag a whole mess of doddering old fogies and wannabe cowboys and you have the recipe for the weirdness that is AZ politics. I do my best to stay in the blue pockets.

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  32. Jolene said on April 11, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    Is there serious talk of Giuliani running in Arizona? Sounds implausible for lots of reasons, among them that Giuliani has never shown any interest in running for the Senate.

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  33. Brandon said on April 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    @Scout: You might find this interesting.


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  34. brian stouder said on April 11, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    And not for nothing, but Rachel Maddow finally hit on a subject that caught my attention and bothered me last summer as the campaign was unfolding; this right-wing meme about repealing the Seventeenth Amendment, and returning the election of senators to state legislatures! Because – like – forget about ‘popular democracy’! – the land itself should have a vote! Or at least, the sparsely populated out-back needs to blunt the votes of masses of human beings who live in urban areas, right? Because, of course, since we can gerrymander state legislature districts, we could therefore gerrymander United States Senate seats, too!

    If this was 30 years ago, I’d want to argue with Cooz’s & Pros’s low opinion of the general attitude of rural Americans.

    And, while I’d have been as happy as a pig in mud to do so, still, I’d have been just plain wrong.

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  35. Prospero said on April 11, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    From Brandon’s linked Harpers piece about AZ:

    Nowadays, the capitol’s dingy, unshaded plaza is bare save for a few small rosebushes and some patches of dry grass.

    Heard of xeriscaping you numbnuts? Coal to Newcastle. Excellent article. I used to subscribe to Harpers, but they ran one too many bullshit Claude Levi-Strauss where he indulged his fantasy Alexis de Tocqville identity and flicked Gaulloises Disque Bleu ashes on his own imaginary America, and I couldn’t take it any more. But man, this piece is good, and AZ is FUBAR:

    The general unsightliness of the capitol makes it a fitting home for today’s Arizona legislature, which is composed almost entirely of dimwits, racists, and cranks. Collectively they have bankrupted the state through a combination of ideological fanaticism on the Republican right and acquiescence and timidity on the part of G.O.P. moderates and Democrats. Although dozens of states are facing budget crises, the situation in Arizona is arguably the nation’s worst, graver even than in California. A horrific budget deficit has been papered over with massive borrowing and accounting gimmickry, and the state may yet have to issue IOUs to employees and vendors. All-day kindergarten has been eliminated statewide, and some districts have adopted a four-day school week. Arizona’s state parks, despite bringing in 2 million visitors and $266 million annually, have lost 80 percent of their budget, with up to two thirds of the parks now in danger of closure. The legislature slashed the budget for the Department of Revenue, which required the agency to fire hundreds of state auditors and tax collectors; lawmakers boasted that these measures saved $25 million, but a top official in the department estimated that the state would miss out on $174 million in tax collections as a result.

    Teabangers in Arizona privatized their state capitol complex. Now they pay rent to its owner. How messed up is that?

    Brian@34: Rural Americans were the topsoil ripe for GOPers to plant the seeds of the permanent Southern Strategy more than 30 years ago. Milhous and Spiro spoke their language.

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  36. Sherri said on April 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Rural Americans are in a perpetual state of resentment because they are outnumbered by urban Americans, and thus, they believe, their tax dollars are being spent disproportionately to benefit cities over rural areas. What they never get is that cities are much more efficient than rural areas, and that in the majority of cases, tax dollars are actually spent disproportionately to benefit rural areas, simply because it costs more per capita to maintain roads and other infrastructure in rural areas.

    And that’s before you bring the whole race issue into it…

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  37. brian stouder said on April 11, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    Sherri – indeed.

    And not for nothing, but New York State, for example, shovels lots more cash into the Fed government than they get back, whereas red states like Texas and Virginia have it the other way around…

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  38. Prospero said on April 11, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Good News!!!: Still Some Hope for Mankind Dept. I love Kickstarter and microloans. This may be the greatest Kickstarter project ever. Listen to the tone of the cello. Astounding.

    Here’s how federal tax money goes in and goes out:


    Ain’t rocket science.

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  39. paddyo' said on April 11, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    BTW, Nance, thanks for your passing shout-out to Southland . . . last night’s penultimate episode for the season, and probably for the series, was absolutely riveting. Every week I watch this brilliant but unappreciated drama I say aloud at one point or another, “How on EARTH is this show considered ‘failing’ and why isn’t it showered with Emmys?”

    I’m particularly angry that it’s on a pay-cable network that also collects advertising revenue atop whatever it gets from the cable providers (evidently not enough, I guess). A paranoid broadcast network didn’t have the guts to stick with it, and cable “rescued” the show. And now, alas, a cop show better than all others of these times (except The Wire, of course) can get some programming love from cable. Sheesh.

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  40. paddyo' said on April 11, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    Sorry: CAN’T “get some programming love” . . . CAN’T

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  41. Prospero said on April 11, 2013 at 7:13 pm

    The latest episode of Southland was extremely intense. Fine show. Michael Cudlitz is a superb actor and Regina King, who plays Detective Lydia Adams is even better.

    As with yesteryear, the best cop show wasn’t really a cop show. It was a private dick genre show, and as many good things as Fx ever does, they will never make up for bailing on Terriers, the best crime-based TeeVee since Jim Rockfish found Gandy Finch’s long lost beloved. (Except the Araber story arc on Homicide, of course).

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  42. Dorothy said on April 11, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    We just watched last night’s Southland. Now I’m all jittery and wound up. Best damn show going, and I love reading the comments from real cops about how realistic it is.

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  43. Kim said on April 11, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Dexter – loved your opening comment (bless your wife) and the Chicago pix link. God, do I love that city of my birth.

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  44. Prospero said on April 12, 2013 at 12:17 am

    Insofar as people invest in their own families, they are holding out on the state and unacceptably privileging their own kids over the children of others. These parents are selfish, small-minded, and backward.

    I had no idea that my parents encouraged me with Pooh and Nanny Let my Beetle Out to be part of hive mind socialism to know how to read at age four, but I’m pretty sure that reading The Mysterious Island when I was a tyke gave me a healthy dislike for GOPer style bullshit.

    Did anybody but a drooling moron like Rich Lowry ever think anything quite so idiotic? But, ya know, $Palin gives him a boner. What a fracking tool.

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  45. Julie said on April 13, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    It seems to me, when I was growing up, that our “village” did help raise me and my siblings. Everyone in our neighborhood knew us and had no qualms about contacting our parents if we were somewhere we should not have been or were doing something we should not have been doing. Damn them!! The “village” concept seems to have been lost to privacy, individual rights and increased mobility, which breeds loss of familiarity.

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