3 Days until the Election

I realize that I have been delinquent in updating this diary, but I have been busy doing delegate “things”.  I recently participated in a roundtable discussion sponsored by the America’s Future Foundation, a conservative/libertarian group that promotes discussion on topics related to liberty, originalism, the Constitution and other topics related to conservative government.  It was a lively evening debating the concept of freedom and who is for it, and I came away very impressed by not just the participants but the attendees.  Also, I had the honor to cowrite with my father an Op-Ed piece to be placed in newspapers across Michigan, so I will be sure to add the links when they come in.  Now that all of the official appearance stuff is out of the way, I turn today to campaigning.  I am going up to the one of the Victory Centers in Wisconsin with a friend and our 10 year old daughters.  I think it is just as much a way to show our girls the excitement of a campaign from the grassiest of roots as it is to get voters out there.

Speaking of the campaign, let’s talk about some of the very chilling concerns I have with suppression of free speech.  Not very widely reported is the fact that the Obama campaign asked 3 newspaper reporters to leave its campaign plane.  Wait a minute, three reporters from three somewhat conservative papers, all of which endorsed McCain.  This comes on the heels of  blacklisting a TV station in Florida after a reporter asked very legitimate questions regarding Obama’s political and economic philosophy.  The campaign then went after her husband in much the same way they have maligned Joe the Plumber.  After seeing Obama go out of his way to attack Fox News in the last debate, I hope someone is looking out for Sean Hannity.  Does this not disturb most of us?  My early bet is that one of the first things Obama as President would do would be to push through the oxymoronic “fairness” doctrine to squelch all criticism. 

My concerns about an Obama presidency have grown greater in the last few days.  Dan Henninger in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal wrote a fantastic piece outlining just how much of our traditional economy and government would be eroded.  I implore all Americans to read it.  It is not just policy but character that concerns me.  To be honest, I miss the gentle almost sweet way the Clintons went after those that dissented from them.  I used to call Obama “Johnny Bravo” because I felt that he had been propped up by some very wealthy powerful democrats, bent on removing the Clintons from power and because he as an “attractive” different kind of candidate, they put him in the suit.  This is a reference to the Brady Bunch episode where Greg gets promoted as a pop singer not because he can sing or that he has talent, but because he fit the suit identified with the image.  Of course, Greg Brady had the back bone to stand up and say I am not a puppet.  I no longer feel Obama is a puppet, but that he has successfully used his patrons to promote his own agenda, radical as it is, which is farther to the left than most Democrats would ever want.  He will continue to have the support of those in academia, Hollywood and the media since they share his left wing vision and because they have a lot of money.  His arrogance and over confident approach to the position he might assume is alarming.  Only someone with true humility and graciousness could truly understand the import of what he is about to do.  The only  candidate who gets this is John McCain.  To be honest, I have to believe that even McCain is dumbstruck by the outright hutzpah of his opponent.  Unfortunately, many Americans won’t realize this until too late.

Three Weeks and Counting

We have less than three weeks until the Big Day.  For me personally, it has been quite busy.  This week I was invited to speak on behalf of the campaign regarding health care, social security, mental health and disability rights.  It was a great opportunity to lay out the Republican party’s essential philosophy that private decisions, such as health, should remain in the hands of private individuals and those that they choose to consult with, such as doctors and yes, insurers of choice.  In addition, it was a chance to remind people that McCain not only seeks to make health care accessible and more affordable, but he is committed to mainitaining and improving the quality of health care.  For him, this is just as important.  And most importantly, it gave me the chance to explain that McCain’s commitment to improving the lives of those with disabilities is unparalleled.  In addition to drafting some of the key provisions of the Americans with Disabilties Act (ADA) he himself knows what it is like to be disabled, due to his wounds suffered as a POW.  But it is his appointment of Sarah Palin as his VP running mate, who is charged with the priority of working with special needs families and his commitment to protecting the weakest members of society, the unborn and the aged, that underscores and guarantees his commitment to improving care for everyone.  It was a great “debate” and opportunity to meet some devoted advocates for the disabled from Evanston’s Center for Independent Futures, who sponsored the talk.  It is clear that much work on behalf of the disabled is done through private and non-profit groups and individuals and we need to make sure they can continue their mission in the most creative, innovative, productive environment possible by insuring that the best programs, research and opportunities are available and rewarded.

This last week also had the final presidential debate.  To be honest, I think Sen. McCain did a great job detailing the significant differences between the two party platforms.  He also had an opportunity to present issues to the public that have been disguised by the main stream media.  Not only did he catapult “Joe the Plumber” and the concerns he represents, but he was able to introduce the issues regarding Acorn and Ayers, Obama’s links to those groups and how they are representative of his socialist ideology.  McCain said it best, do we want people like Joe spreading the wealth by growing companies, creating jobs and investing in our communities, or do we want to give it to the government (we saw how they handled the mortgage business) and let them decide?  Under all this is the fact that Obama is proposing an essential socialist system where the wealthy are required to give money to the less wealthy in the form of tax credits, which for over 40% of the Americans who do not pay taxes will be in the form of a check – essentially welfare.  What we have to ask ourselves is what is the role of government?  Is it to provide services and protections that we need across the board that facilitate trade, exhange, the free market, growth, such as roads, military, safety net programs, court systems, or is it to redistribute the wealth of some to give to others?  Who is better at this, the government or private individuals who are incentivized to succeed and are generous through their charity and churches?  We are looking at the greatest socialist expansion of our government since 1965 and probably since 1933.  Is this the model that really works?

I also had a chance to watch the candidates tell their jokes about each other during the Archdiocease of New York’s Alfred E. Smith dinner.  Both candidates were hilarious and it seems like Bill Clinton was the greatest butt of their jokes.  In watching this, I had to ask myself:  these guys can get along, they don’t appear to despise each other despite the rigors of the campaign and it won’t matter, it will all work out.  But I am reminded that this complacency is exactly what gets our country in trouble, if not in watching our financial systems, keeping an eye on Fannie and Freddie, or Congress itself, then in thinking our enemies aren’t that bad or evil.  A lot is at stake over the next four years, not just our economy and how we structure it but how we fight for our place in the world and demonstrate what it means to be free.  We have a lot to uphold, not just for ourselves, but for others and we need to remind ourselves often of that.  There is too much at stake to think it will somehow be taken care of by others.  With that said, I am hunkering down for the homestretch.  I have a couple of more speeches and talks to give – one next Thursday for the Evanston GOP monthly luncheon on my experiences as a delegate and the other on Wednesday, the 29th on freedom and how it is expressed/protected/promoted through conservative principles.  I am so excited to do both.

Election Countdown: Four Weeks to Go

Well a lot has happened in this last week which, if it is any measure, means we are in for a roller coaster ride up to November 4th.  We saw the House fail to pass a bailout bill, the Senate pass one, a Vice Presidential debate viewed by record numbers of people, and finally a bailout bill passed and signed by Bush.  Phew!  Not only did I participate on a panel discussing the VP debate for our local CBS News, but I had the amazing opportunity to reflect on all of this again on Bruce Dumont’s Beyond the Beltway political debate radio show.  I am not sure where to begin except maybe with the Vice Presidential debate.  I think we saw the Sarah Palin we expected to see:  dynamic, energetic, geniuosly straight talking and visionary.  We saw a some what tamed, if not neutered, Joe Biden who worked incredibly hard to create a record for Barack Obama that clearly failed to match his own and paled in light of Palin’s.  The “misstatements” put forth by Biden just demonstrated how hard it must be for him to claim that Obama on his own his ready to lead our country.  From claiming Obama helped kick out Hezbelloh from Lebanon, that Obama warned the Treasury in a phantom letter, and Palin’s oil plan taxed the same windfall profits as Obama’s (which is clearly not true) all the way to going to Katie’s Restaurant, which hasn’t been in business for decades, Biden didn’t seem committed to the vision and leader he has been brought on to support.  Putting on my partisan hat, Biden seems more like Obama’s babysitter than a trusted advisor, put there to make sure Obama stays on track with the Democratic party.

And what about this bailout bill?  I think it is important to keep in mind how we got into this mess.  There is no coubt that the central engine driving this was Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac.  On one end, they drove banks to take greater risks on homeowners and then managed to hide these risks in packaged mortgage swaps that were traded to banks and investment banks.  With the assistance of credit rating agencies rating these packages with assurances of the government as the insurer, these tainted packages were injected into the system without the approriate flags.  No doubt, excited Wall Street bankers, hungry for the upside and and not willing to parse through these risks created a frenzy that Fannie Mae and Freddie were glad to fuel.  Predatory lenders and housing advocates took advantage of these rates and subprime mortgage opportunities to boost their own numbers as well.  However, have no doubt that the central gate keepers to all of this were our government sponsored entities that were protected and shielded by some very driven members of congress who refused to question the system.  There is no doubt that McCain led the fight to reform these entities and saw what was coming down the pipeline and unfortunately, disarmed by his unpopularity, Bush was unable to garner the support in Congress to correct the situation.  The Democratic feeding frenzy regarding these loans had far too much momentum.  That said, what is important to remember is that we are seeing a breakdown in our financial markets, which is having an effect on the economy.  This is not a result of economic policies such as spending, balancing budgets, promoting job growth or tax policy, all which fundamentally drive our economy.  So to say this is a result of Bush policies is patently false and nothing but political rhetoric.  At the heart of this is Democratic attempts to take over personal and private decisions and reengineer them to grow the economy.  There is nothing that Obama has said that would show that he is different from his colleagues.  A vote for Obama is a vote for four more years of Pelosi and Reid failures.

McCain is clear that his vision is to keep private decisions, like health care, investments, and education in the hands of those people who are best able to create, innovate and negotiate the best choices for themselves.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are perfect examples of how Democratic policies will get us into big messes and how their tax, spend, and penalize the innovator policies fail. 

It is clear that many challenges, not just the economy, confront the next administration.  There is no doubt that on the front burner, burning even hotter, is the fact that we are fighting two very complicated and important wars.  These are just two of the battles on the war on terror front.  So much more goes into their success such as intelligence, nation building, diplomacy, strategic alliances, weapons defense, and on the ground infrastructure.  Only McCain understands this and has the capabilities to manage this.  Every proposal offered by Obama has as its number one component the reduction of our defense committments.  This should be alarming.  He is not committed to steering the economy and fighting these two wars.  Make no mistake, he plans to end these wars, successfully or not and attempt to reengineer our economy.  It should bother voters that his chief economic advisors are Raines and Johnson, who each headed up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and Penny Pritzker, whose own bank failed while she was at the helm as a result of too many subprime mortgages.  We cannot trust that Obama will see us through all these crises.  He will easily trade in our national security in order to secure his and the Democratic congress’ control of our economy.  We saw what happened with Fannie and Freddie.  With Obama, we know we will lose these wars and we can be pretty sure he will only further entrench our economy into a recession.  Let’s choose a leader who can bring us certain victories.

Five Weeks To Election: Countdown Begins

I have decided to continue blogging throughout the entire campaign.  As a result, I may get a bit more partisan.   To kick off the home stretch of the campaign, we should first cover the debate.  I had the great opportunity to discuss my views on the debate and the recent bailout proposal on Bruce Dumont’s nationally syndicated political radio program Beyond the Beltway.  Bruce’s show is probably the most civilized, balanced format you’ll find on TV or Radio.  His guests each week consist of one clearly partisan guest from each party and two more moderate guests, each with his or her own leanings, one to the left and one to the right.  Bruce has an incredible way of parsing through the issues and positing clear and thought provoking questions.  To hear my participation and of course a definitve debate on the First Debate go to www.beyondthebeltway.com to hear last night’s show. 

After any appearance in the media, or even when we debate our friends and families at the dinner table, we always think about what we said, what we didn’t say, what we could have said better or “Aha, that is the zinger I should have said!”.  Having had a couple of these thoughts myself, I thought I would comment on a few:

One point we discussed in detail was something made apparent by the debate, which was that the War on Terror and our foreign policy is multifacted, and dealt with on many different fronts.  Each front requires its own nuances and strategy.  We have two very different types of leaders emerging, one who prefers diplomacy and a consult first response and one who wants to govern from resolve and strength.  Although these styles are not mutually exclusive, it is clear that one is more willing to act with strength,  is less dependent on advisors for his information and is less deferential to international concensus than the other.  In this dangerous world, who has the knowledge, expertise, judgement and frankly, agility to manage these multiple demands?  I think on Friday night, it was clear only John McCain has all of that and we know this for sure because we know him and how he thinks.  Although I had the opportunity to say this, I feel it needs repeating.

We also had the opportunity to discuss Sarah Palin.  Our debate was cut short due to time so that we never got a good one going.  I have a feeling we could easily fill two hours discussing her.  One thing I want to say is that although she may not have the foreign policy experience or philosophy that McCain has, or even Joe Biden, she has clearly demonstrated the skill set and judgement required to participate in foreign affairs.  As a governor, and this could be said about any good effective governor, they have to negotiate daily with partisan legislators, special interests, big businesses, other politicians (and the media!) on a daily basis.  You either have the skills and judgment to do this or not.  Because she has demonstrated she is more than adept at this, I see no reason she cannot apply her savior faire to the international arena.  Being a good Vice President does not mean having negotiated or met with foreign leaders although we might ask this of the men running for the top of the ticket.  She has demonstrated measurable results and when choosing the leaders of this country, results count.  I also have no doubt that she has the personal skills, and charm!, to diffuse any offenses she might face.  The art of negotiating requires the art of diplomacy and Sarah Palin has demonstrated, if nothing else, that she can  convince and inspire those around her.  As a final note, I find it unbeleivable that someone could think she threatens working women everywhere.  She is the perfect example of a working mother who works and succeeds in her paying job and still managed to be pro-family.  She is a pro-family working mother and has embraced a culture of life, demonstrating that you can work and have a family, that one does not exclude the other.  What feminists are talking about when they say Palin threatens this is (and I hesitated to call this out last night) is that she is pro-life, antiabortion and that somehow threatens the rights of women generally.  Actually this is patently untrue.  Her choices and pro-life values threaten the very concept of choice that feminists have been screaming about for decades.  Shouldn’t we be celebrating the choices that the Palins, as a family have made?

Finally, on a more negative note, there was one thing that troubled me in the debate.  At one point, Barack Obama claimed that his left wing voting record was not liberalism “but me opposing George Bush.”  This spoke volumes to me.  First, it showed a patent disrespect for the not just the office of President, but the man who serves in it.  It also showed an incredible lack of principle.  I would like to think his voting record represents how he feels about something and what he substantively believes in not an opportunity to be a petulant contrarian.  And finally, it shows that he really doesn’t care about being bi-partisan or seeking to make change constructively.  We should be very concerned by this since this is a man who, if elected, will have strong majorities in both the House and Senate.  his willingness to listen to all sides will be reduced and unchallenged and he will not have the checks and balances that a strong democratic government requires.

Convention Recovery: One Week Later

Well, my feet have healed, I have caught up on my sleep and am finally feeling more like my normal self.  I have to admit that the excitement and enthusiasm I gained in Minnesota is still with me and maybe it is because of the way that many Americans are embracing the pick of Sarah Palin as the VP nominee.  I also had the privilege to attend a special fundraiser for Senator McCain in Chicago on Monday the 8th, thus extending the aura of the Convention.  It was also a great time to catch up with some fellow delegates and local candidates that were part of the delegation in Minnesota.  What was great about the event was that it may be the only time McCain visits Illinois before November 4th and it was a very small and intimate gathering, allowing everybody who wanted to a chance to meet the Senator and get in a few words.  It was the first time my husband got to meet the Senator, but I hope not the last.  It is clear that as part of the campaign, we have a lot of work to do in the next 53 days and that anything can happen in that short time.  As McCain says, Game On.  As for my diary, rather than turn it into a political mouthpiece or rant session, I will continue to update readers about local campaign events and campaign worthy items.  For example, Brendan Appel, a Republican candidate for the state house will be campaigning in Evanston this Saturday both at the Northwestern Univ. football game and at a fundraiser after the game.  He is the type of local candidate that Republicans can rally around and could very well be the next Palin, starting out local and eventually broadening the base he serves.  As for Palin, I think she handled the Charlie Gibson interviews with precision, thoughtfulness and detail.  There was no doubt of his contempt for her and it didn’t faze her one bit.  The area that the media will try to trip her up on is foreign policy, where they perceive she is weak.  I think she is showing she is far from it and if anything, seems to have a bigger picture than they do.  First, as a governor forced to share fishing waters and drilling access with Russia, there is no doubt she has experience dealing with one of our major foreign policy challenges.  In addition, she has had to work often with the many Indian nations in her state, each of them a sovereign state of their own.  So her ability to handle true international legal issues has already been tested.  She also recognizes the complexities of Eastern Europe that we face in our future and that Bush doctrine means many things to many people.  I hope she continues to challenge the media on their basic assumptions about world affairs and will not take their assessments for granted.  In closing, I would like to share this upclose photo of Senator McCain taken the other night:

Senator McCain up close and as friendly as ever.

Senator McCain up close and as friendly as ever.

The Last Day of the Convention

As I write this, the exhaustion has set in and it is only the lingering excitement that propels me today.  My feet are still blistered and sore but I am elated and energized for the next 60 days.  I knew the last day was going to be an important one.  After the rousing success of Sarah Palin’s speech, it felt like a the hard part was over, we could let out our breaths and prepare to celebrate and kick off the real campaign.  I actually took a moment this morning to stop by the Basilica of St. Mary’s, the first basilica in America, and light a candle for the events of the day.  The most moving event was a tribute luncheon for Cindy McCain, hosted by Elisabeth Hassleback of THE VIEW, and the lone conservative voice on the program.  She was charming and mentioned that Cindy was nervous knowing she was entering a lion’s den or pit of snakes.  But unlike another woman seeking the First Lady role, Cindy did not have a list of restrictions or topics that were restricted.  Jon Voight spoke and mentioned how Angelina Jolie, when she was little had told her father that she wanted to be a mother when she grew up.  I have to give her credit, she is walking the walk.  And Todd Palin spoke  He was a bit nervous but genuine and funny.  He mentioned that a few years ago, if he had had a crystal ball, then when Sarah mentioned she was running for the PTA, he would have asked a few more questions.  And then we watched an amazing flim about the work of Cindy and her charity Operation Smile.  It was moving to see that this is a woman who has for decades dedicated her life and time making the lives of others across the world more bearable.  She has also adopted the Halo Trust, Princess Diana’s charity that works for the removal of land mines and for their victims.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house.  I also had the opportunity to talk at length with Margaret Heckler a real pioneer and dynamo.  She was a congresswoman from Wellesley, MA in the 60’s, Secretary of Health and Human Services under Reagan and Ambassador to Ireland under George H. W. Bush.  What an inspirational woman who has a deep and moving spiritual life as well.  After lunch, how could my day get more interesting?

Well it was off before I knew it to the Convention center to await Sen. McCain’s speech.  I got a great opportunity to meet some more “celebrities” before the speech including Larry Wilmore from the Daily Show.  What a kind and generous man!  And it turns out he is from EVANSTON, IL!  He was more than generous to let me take a picture with him and seemed honored at the request.  I can not tell you again how humble, kind and generous are many of the politicians, pundits and celebrities.  Larry is quite tall as well:

Larry Wilmore of the Daily Show and Evanston, IL.

Larry Wilmore of the Daily Show and Evanston, IL.

 It was clear when I got to the floor that tonight was special.  Almost everyone was dressed up – the delgates that had worn polo/golf shirts and slacks all week had on suits, those who wore suits had on darker suits, white shirts and fancy ties, and those with special convention costumes had on their party best.  The tribute to Cindy McCain and her speech were special.  It seems like this is the first time that all of America gets to see who she is – not just a pretty, passive, supportive wife but a truly accomplished and hard working achiever who has done great things for decades for her business, her charity and her family.  But then it was time for John McCain.  The hall got dark and quiet and then in a dramatic contrast with the event at Invesco field in Denver, a small spotlight lit the empty stage and follwed McCain as he walked to a simple podium.  Everybody was on their feet and even the press recognized that they were witnessing something historical. It was fun to watch all the FOX News reporters get a little star struck themselves as they snapped their own pictures of the event.  See my example of Greta Von Susteren of Fox News’ On the Record, making her own record:

Greta Von Susteren of Fox's On the Record, making her own record

Greta Von Susteren of Fox

 The introduction of John McCain was perfect, self depracating, funny and sweet.  The crowd stood the entire time and at the end as he concluded, the roar was so loud I couldn’t even hear his words (I had to read them later).  There was an attempt to mar the event by a couple of protestors but they were quickly booed, shouted out by chants of USA and escorted immediately from the arena.  McCain handled it with his typical humor, grace and aplomb.   Corny, hokey moment:  When they released the balloons and confetti it was as thrilling as fireworks.  Everyone lingered until the last possible moment, saying goodbye to many friends made this week from the other delegations (Good bye Monica from Massachussetts, MaryEllen from Texas and Deborah from New Jersey), grabbing extra signs and programs and scooping up confetti (with Cindy and John’s faces on it) for souvenirs and just trying to hang on to the familiar feeling that the hall now had as our home for the last four days.  I have to admit, I got a bit sad leaving, realizing that this part was all over.  What I have to remind myself is that this is just the kick off, the beginning of the work we all have over the next sixty days.  I have never felt more focused than now in both my dedication and understanding of my mission to help get McCain and Palin elected.  The wonderful thing is that on Monday I will get to have dinner with the Senator as part of a special fundraiser.  What a great opportunity to hit the ground running.  I cannot describe how meaningful and special this week was.  Not only seeing old friends, but making new ones.  Not only learning about the issues I care about, but acquiring new issues to fight for.  The week truly helped define what it is we are all working for.  To any one reading this who wants to make a difference, I say go out today and find a local candidate you believe in or become one yourself.  Commit yourself to that cause, no matter how small and realize that every little thing we do may be only drops in a bucket but they add up to a rushing river.

Convention Day 3: Service

Each day, there is an assigned theme and that is the focus of the groups and speeches for that day.  The first day was Service, and due to the truncated event as a result of Gustav, all efforts were focused on the relief efforts for the Gulf states.  Day 2 was about Reform and everyone focused on how McCain is different and will make changes in DC.  And yesterday was Prosperity, and while the speeches focused on reducing taxes, improving the economy and reforming government and spending, the real work done by the delegates was SERVICE.  I along with many, many, many other delegates spent much of the day packing care boxes for the folks down in the Gulf region.  I wanted to share with you some photos, very brief snapshots of those efforts:

Assembly line relief efforts

Assembly line relief efforts

Boxes filled with food ready to go to the Gulf

Boxes filled with food ready to go to the GulfA fellow Illinois delegate putting together care packages

It was amazing to see you how so many people could do so much in such a short amount of time.  I haven’t heard the final numbers, but there were Target and Fed EX trucks lined up waiting to be filled with boxes.  I also had the opportunity to hear Senator Brownbeck and Michael Steele speak at a conference discussing the role of religion and faith in a politician’s life.  Michael Steele moved the audience (including some to tears) in telling the story of his own adoption and his gratitude to his natural mother for choosing his life. 

Here I am with Sen. Brownbeck (excuse the glare)

Here I am with Sen. Brownbeck (excuse the glare)

I had some time to kill before the big night.  It was Sarah Palin’s big night and she spoke along with Steele, Romney, and Guiliani.  Where do I begin?  The excitement and the secuirty were at an all-time high and Guiliani kicked it off by attacking the attacks on Palin’s family.  Sarah truly was, even by the New York Times account, “electric”.  It was so exciting to be on the floor for her speech even though I could only best see her on the jumbotrons around the arena.  Nevertheless, she hit a home run again (so far she is batting a thousand) as she took on questions of her experience and Obama’s directly.  She was charming and to the point and even hinted at her own ability to handle foreign policy based on her proximity to Russia.  I think we will see her depth more and more as the weeks come.  No doubt she has sealed her support in the Republican party and has demonstrated she can cross partisan lines. 
So far, for me this convention has been indescribable.  The warmth and sincerity of each person I meet and their committment, not only to getting McCain elected, but to the work they do back home is incredible.  Everyone is down to earth and approachable, even the seemingly remotest of celebrities.  I want to conclude by adding a picture with Karl Rove taken the other night who on the floor with us was friendly, unassuming, generous with his ear, thoughts and time and hilarious!  I wish more than anything America could see the Republican party I see.  We are here to do work and we love this country but we love our families and communities even more by the work we do everyday in home.  Away from the cameras and the lights and the glitz, each person – celebrity, pundit, politician, delgate, volunteer or journalist – really cares about how our lives will be shaped by these efforts and events. 

I wish you could see what a warm and sincere man he is.
I wish you could see what a warm and sincere man he is.

I am truly humbled and honored to be here this week. 

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