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July 13, 2020


Under the lesser Bush State got marginalized due to the open hostility of another Donald. But my impression was that it 'merely' sent the diplomats into hibernation and did not yet involve systematically dismantling the department.
Still there were bad signs and omens of things to come like making fluency in Arabic a reason NOT to hire people for posts in Iraq (although State may not have been directly involved in that).

Trump has made me ashamed of the US. not sure how i get over that.

i'm certainly not going to get over my disgust with the GOP and the tens of millions of its braying cretins who put him in the WH and supported him while he careened from one shameful outrage to another.

IMO, one of the worst consequences is the extra doubt it introduces about democracy. I can see how a conniving opportunist type would take advantage, if not this time round then the next: see what idiots 50% of the population are, they voted for and approve of a corrupt, toxic crook like that, the only solution is for us, the wise and educated ones, to take over and relieve the population of this task for which they are manifestly unfitted, for their own good. (Obvs, this would be the message to try and appeal to people like the ObWi commentariat, for example.) Shudder.

So if by some blessed chance Biden gets in and the Dems take both houses, the first priority should be a wholesale safeguarding of democratic processes.


Re IP: What if there is nothing left to steal?

It'll take more than 90 days to unf*ck our diplomatic corps:


Iceland needs to arrest and hustle this subhuman American filth out of the country and shut down all American diplomatic presence in their sovereign country, until they can be guaranteed this pigf*cking country is thoroughly vetted under a Biden Administration for republican fleas, cockroaches, large bowel complaints, and sadistic, malignant brain fever.

Then, cancel him from his Keck School sinecure and his grift dermatological bullshit.

Investigate and hound him. If he is found culpable for ANY damage to our diplomatic standing abroad, execute him with a bullet to the head.

Purge the entire federal government of this cancer.

I'm not making fantasy fun now Marty.

We're f*cking done with this insane sh*t.

Total intolerance and canceling for the so-called American conservative movement.

You gonna vote third party?

Grow a pair.

Jesus wept JT, I thought Woody Johnson was bad. No wonder they're deserting in droves.

The first deputy prepared for more than a year and spent months learning Icelandic, only to be blocked from coming to post because Gunter reportedly “didn’t like the look of him” at their introductory meeting.

must be one of those lefties we've heard so much about.

Because y'all need something upbeat

Here's hoping they're right.

It's good to have the power to work for good. When we lose power, we cede it to others.

You had to have been living under a rock not to have seen that electing Trump was the day the U.S. pretty much handed China the 21st century.

Pretty much.

I'm not sure that multi-polar world is such a bad thing, in and of itself. But there is a difference between negotiating power relationships in an intentional way, and basically squandering your own credibility and thus leaving the field open to whoever shows up.

The only way Trump understands for interacting with the rest of the world is to turn it into a pissing contest. So that is how we've approached foreign relations.

Other people and other nations have a broader skill set, one that includes forms of interaction that are less obnoxious. So a lot of people are going to start looking to see what their options are.

For all of our flaws, we managed, over several generations, to build some measure of credibility and good will in the world. We at least talked the good talk, if nothing else. And that's not nothing.

W blew a lot of that up, with his Iraq obsession, and the consequent train-wreck he made of it. Obama won some back, mostly because he wasn't W.

And now Trump has f'ing gutted it.

Should Biden win, he may be able to repair some of that, but I think a lot of places are going to be wary of a nation whose basic stance toward the rest of the world changes every 8 years.

If Biden doesn't win, we're done. We still have a lot of money and guns, so other nations won't be able to ignore us, but any leadership role we may ever have been able to play will be out the window.

If you think that will be good for us, I think you're wrong. If you think that will good for the world at large, it all depends on who steps up to fill the void.

Should Biden win, he may be able to repair some of that, but I think a lot of places are going to be wary of a nation whose basic stance toward the rest of the world changes every 8 years.

Yes. And, honestly, the consistency argument is why Obama (for example) wouldn't completely remake foreign policy, although meaningful changes, such as making clear that torture was no longer on the table, were made. There's nothing to salvage from Trump's legacy. Not a thing.

At least this guy is "volunteering" to do the right thing.


Don't hold your breath, however, as Trump is probably on the blower to him as we speak offering (bribing) him the Ambassadorship to the United Nations.

Russell wrote:

"but I think a lot of places are going to be wary of a nation whose basic stance toward the rest of the world changes every 8 years."

Dealing with America on the policy front is like dealing with a schizophrenic off his or her meds. The rest of the world should jointly declare time-out with no target date for ending it and withdraw from every international treaty and memorandum of understanding until we can make up our minds.

The World Health Organization should change their acronym to read "WHO? Not you, asshole Americans".

Start with fishing rights within "our" waters. Maybe the fish would rather be caught by, hell, they'll jump into their boats, Japanese and Russian trawlers instead of endlessly being the subject of competing opinions on catch limits every time American f*cks follow their whims and call it freedom.

Meanwhile all other countries should declare and enforce a no-fly, no-sail zone that starts one mile from our shores, with orders to shoot to kill.

We are not going to like the new norms, which will basically revert back to Genghis Khan's diplomatic outreach to his neighbors.

All countries should declare the American diplomatic passport null and void and frog march the lot of us (if you don't like masks, you're gonna love the rendition black hoods) to the airport for the last flight out, with fighter jet observation to make sure we get home safe and sound and still as f*cking arrogant as ever.

In-country, death panels like the one now operating in the Texas County forced to allow the spread of Covid-19 among their dead residents by conservative murderous fake Christians in Austin, should have only one requirement for deciding which patients get care: their voter registrations.

If they aren't registered to vote Democratic, start them on a course of bleach until you can see the bright whites of their eyes and their blood oxygen levels read "suffocated".

Am I gettin thru to ya, Mr Beale?

The best single thing we can do to start rebuilding our foreign policy credibility is this. Have Trump lose by a huge enough margin that we can say: "Yes, we made a horrible mistake. But we've learned a lesson, and we won't be that dumb again."

Of course the rest of the world will be skeptical. How could they not be? But it's the best starting point in sight.

It's good to have the power to work for good. When we lose power, we cede it to others. Maybe they will do better. Think so? I don't.

Having power, losing power, ceding power...exactly the sort of exceptionalist hubris that got us into this bind in the first place.

The US can, and should, work not to project its power, but to use its power and resources to empower others to act for the greater good. The key to US and UK economic dynamism has always been the exploitation of inequality. We've hit the end of that as we hit the edges of our closed system. Now is when the fruits of that inequality have to be reckoned with.

We are seeing here in our cities what embracing the domination mode for dealing with that inequality is turning us into.

Not all power shifts have to be seen in a competitive framework. Our power is flowing back to the communities from which we took it in the first place to build our empire. Why can we not give away some of our plenty and empower those who have less? Why can't we find common cause and encourage others to build equitable futures for themselves and others?

The world needs the balance set less towards sovereignty and more towards interdependency. That's a hard world to build, but it is a possible world, and a better alternative than the one that we have, and a much better one than the one that we are heading towards.

Think I may have just had a comment fall into the spam trap.

If W and Dump had been born into similar circumstances as Bill Clinton or Obama would we have ever heard of either one of them? I say not a chance. They would both have wallowed in well deserved obscurity as local failures. Dump might have peaked by conning his way into owning a used car dealership and quickly driving it into the ground. But in America money and connections can make malevolence and mediocrity look like leadership.

Have Trump lose by a huge enough margin

A serious question: how big of a margin would it need to be, to signal a widespread repudiation?

Whatever that number is, how likely do you think it is to happen?

Reconstructed comment that was lost, taken from a different angle in case the old one reappears:

It's good to have the power to work for good. When we lose power, we cede it to others. Maybe they will do better. Think so? I don't.

I think this way of thinking about power is a reflection of the exceptionalism and hubris that has led us to this moment. We can "have" power or "lose" power or "cede" power.

What about sharing power? What about empowering others?

The US is not losing out to other countries who are cheating us. The US is finding fewer ways to exploit cheaper labor elsewhere and then use that exploitation to build a competitive advantage. It's suffering domestically for the years of exploiting economic inequality to fuel militarism. That model has ceased to be sustainable and the bubble is shrinking.

Time to stop thinking unilaterally and start thinking about ways to use our power for collective, multilateral good.

Yes, that's utopianism. Yes, that's science fiction.

The alternative that we are headed towards globally is not good. We need to imagine better social futures and work to make them happen.

It's not impractical. It's an extension of what Germany and the Nordic countries have been trying to do for a while.

A serious question: how big of a margin would it need to be, to signal a widespread repudiation?

I'd say under 40% of the popular vote (i.e. at 20% margin) and under 200 electoral votes. Ballpark. With the formar being far more important.

I'd give us a 60-40 shot at Trump being under 40%; about 1 in 5 of getting him below 35%. Depends on just what stupid thing he manages to blunder into in the next 90 days.**

As for the electoral votes, I'd guess (that is, I haven't stopped to go thru state by state) 2 chances in 3.

** 90 days, rather than the full 100 just because it takes time for the word to get out. If it wasn't that he's convinced a lot of Republicans they have to vote in person, it would be more like 75 days. Just another example of him shooting himself in the foot.

P.S. I did some playing on
My state-by-state forecast (the 50-50 chance) looks like:
Biden: 333
Trump: 125
? (toss-up): 80

So looks like my first guess on the electoral votes was off a bit. (Let me note that I think Democrats should campaign and, especially, get-out-the-vote like they're even money to come in at 271 EV. Just not overlook places that would be on the margins in my actual forecast.)

Re: Dubya 2000, Dubya 2004, Trump 2016.

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action.

There's large number of MAGAts that need to be 'raptured'* before the rest of the world trusts the USA again.

(*raptured = lifted toward xtian heaven. Preferably by the neck.)

just released nous' comment from spam purgatory.

I think this way of thinking about power is a reflection of the exceptionalism and hubris that has led us to this moment. We can "have" power or "lose" power or "cede" power.

What about sharing power? What about empowering others?

I'm pretty sure that the post-WWII Marshall Plan, NATO, the UN (and other international organizations), and many other treaties and foreign policy initiatives, including with our economic rival, China, were about power sharing. Not to mention our willingness to welcome international students in droves (obviously to the great benefit of our universities - but still "power sharing".) Not sure whether you think this concept is original with "Germany and the Nordic countries".

Certainly Trump is sharing power with Russia right now, right here. How's that looking?

A better question would be, How come every asshole in America is a Republican?:


My doctor asked me to repeat five nouns in order back to him: Man, woman, bite, dog, rabies.

I repeated: republican, asshole, traitor, murderer, sadist.

My doctor like my list better and proclaimed me fit as a fiddle to be tied, but free of dementia.

It was pretty hard for most people. But not for me.

I'm not even close to counting Trump versus Biden EC tallies yet. I'm operating on the assumption that until I see it with my own eyes, I've still got only ten toes until proved otherwise.

My doctor like my list better

Is he taking new patients?

Funny too, about the nous conversation:

The US hired some ex-Nazis after the war for their scientific prowess, etc. We were then fighting the cold war, against the Soviets, so a lot of lefties have pointed out that, whoa, kind of morally repugnant to have sheltered Nazis. I hate Nazis, so I too am skeptical of their welcome. But power sharing, forgiveness, love-fest, right? We did it.

Yes, for our own interests. "Germany and the Nordic countries" also are doing things for their own interests. People power share because it serves their interests. Sometimes humanity's interest is the focus, and rightly so.

The trouble with Drum's list of possible reasons is that even his last one is implausible. If the Republicans' (read McConnell's**) motivation was to get more goodies for his supporters (donors), he would have at least started negotiations far sooner. So why didn't he?

I submit that what we're seeing is the ultimate playing out of the strain of Protestant Christianity which decided that sucess, specifically financial success, equalled virtue. So helping the unsuccessful amounts to rewarding lack of virtue.

The "prosperity gospel" is directly contrary to Jesus words, repeated on multiple occasions in the Bible. But it's the philosophical underpinning of "conservative" (reactionary), and especially libertarian, economics over the past half century.

** Trump's motivation is obvious. a) there's no significant money in it for him personally, and b) it would require admitting, if only implicitly, that he was wrong.

Have we noticed:

The subhuman right wing in this country tells us, with Trump leading the charge, that Covid-19 is just the common flu, no big deal (just had a non-mask wearing trump-loving acquaintance claim this limbaugh crap to me the other week), it's going to just go away, we don't need to take any special measures, hell, these people are sick and old anyway, except for the ones who are not, and we Christians have promised them a afterlife in God's loving unless of course you are gag in which case God will cancel your soul.

But, and not on the other hand, with the same Covid-infected hand, we must isolate one sixth of the human population in the world and cut off all trade, trade, and diplomatic intercourse with the dreaded Covid purveyors the Chinese, punish them, because of a little old common flu.

Meanwhile, we just don't have enough guns in America:


Natch, the black guy with the AR-15 gets scragged, I guess Trayvon carrying wouldn't have done any good for the kid because Zimmerman had his car parked nearby for backup, by a yahoo armed with both a gun and a car, both of which he pointed at the protestors, who tried to defend themselves with NRA-approved weaponry like f8cking conservatives have preached that all Americans should, in their homes, in the streets, in churches.

Right wingers have been increasingly using cars as weapons to murder protestors. And guns.

Both. It's like they read here Charles' innocent-faced observation, so reason magazine sounding at the time, that if guns are snatched away from people, people will very naturally use their cars and knives to kill instead.

His fellow Texans now have gone him one better. Bring a gun, a knife, and a car all at once and use them all.

An armed society is increasingly producing the politest f*cking citizenry on the face of the Earth.

gay, not gag, though God issues gag-orders all the time.

the black guy with the AR-15 gets scragged.

If you mean Garrett Foster, the NYT article says he was white.

More here.

If you mean Garrett Foster, the NYT article says he was white.

Yeah, but his fiancee is black, and he was pushing her wheelchair, so . . . close enough for 2nd Amendment true believers.

Morals being tricky and subject to hazard, we are better off when no one has so much power that they need not share power to achieve their own goals.

Also true, resentment is not a good foundation on which to build the future.

If you mean Garrett Foster

Thanks, JanieM. The picture is heartbreaking. What a beautiful couple.

Morals being tricky and subject to hazard, we are better off when no one has so much power that they need not share power to achieve their own goals.

This is pretty meaningless, but go for it!

Also true, resentment is not a good foundation on which to build the future.

Say no mo'

I stand corrected.

Thank you.

It's goddamned awful. See, to conservatives, all lives do NOT matter.

He was also legally openly carrying an AR-15 and pointing it downwards when he was approaching the weapon in the shape of a car.

Only liberals of any color are murdered in cold blood for that, even when they have the cojones to arrive armed and obeying the law.

Conservatives will just as soon shoot you when you are unarmed.

Conservatives and their militias openly carry with impunity.

If ya got em, smoke em.

Only liberals of any color are murdered in cold blood for that, even when they have the cojones to arrive armed and obeying the law.
. . .
Conservatives and their militias openly carry with impunity.

There does seem to be a bit of an asymmetry, doesn't there? I wonder if it's that the self-styled militias are careful not to set up their demonstrations when there's any armed opponents present.

There does seem to be a bit of an asymmetry, doesn't there?

Ya think?

But prog leftys yell at people on Twitter, so even stevens.

I think it's a reflection of the inate cowardice of people who need a gun to validate their manhood. I guess inate cowardice is why they relate so much to Trump.

'A necessary evil'...

The current favourite for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination:
...“We have to study the history of slavery and its role and impact on the development of our country because otherwise we can’t understand our country. As the Founding Fathers said, it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction,” he said.
Instead of portraying America as “an irredeemably corrupt, rotten and racist country,” the nation should be viewed “as an imperfect and flawed land, but the greatest and noblest country in the history of mankind,” Cotton said....

from the co-author's epilogue in The Autobiography Of Malcolm X:

I knew that Malcolm X had an almost fanatical obsession about time. “I have less patience with someone who doesn’t wear a watch than with anyone else, for this type is not time-conscious,” he had once told me. “In all our deeds, the proper value and respect for time determines success or failure.”


We ain't seen nothing yet.

He wants federal troops to be attacked by protestors so he can go Bolsonaro, Erdogan, and Orban all over them on camera, while literally beating the sh*t out of the liberal press.

He and Pompeo are ginning up war against China and Iran. Running our naval ships up close to the Chinese in the South China Sea and bringing our fighter jets close to collision with Iranian passenger jets.

An incident will happen.

What will the American people do? Change horses in the middle of the onset of World War III?

It's absolutely Putinesque in its diabolical ruthlessness.

To go full Putin, Trump would get his Little Green Men to blow up a Federal building, then blame it on Antifa.

Never go full Putin.

'it was the necessary evil upon which the union was built, but the union was built in a way, as Lincoln said, to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction,”'

Well, in a way Cotton confirms the 1619 Project's thesis, doesn't he, in that first phrase?

The only change I would make to the second phrase is to add the word "inadvertently", as in "the union was inadvertently built in a way to put slavery on the course to its ultimate extinction."

Just as it was inadvertently built in a way to put the exclusion of women in the voting franchise on the course to its ultimate extinction.

We can celebrate the happy inadvertence of the Founders, most of them unwittingly, placing those long-fused landmines in the masterful language of the founding documents (Abigail Adams took note of this slip up between the lip and the cup to her hubby repeatedly, to which he expressed shock that she would find her inclusion somehow foretold in the words, whaddaya nuts, nowhere in the constitution does it say ...), as half the citizens in this country had to cool their heels for more than a century, while the other half, white men like myself, came around ditheringly and foot-draggingly, to place the inadvertent full meaning into full, codified operation.

How does Cotton explain, however, the strenuous efforts of his Party now to curtail those out of control full meanings because those now included inadvertently may vote for the wrong party?

He is introducing legislation to stop funding for schools that teach the 1619 re-interpretation of HIS re-interpretation of whatever the original interpretation was, which I think was also John Adams's amazement that Abigail was already at that early date reinterpreting his and his fellows' words.

But I would like to defund schools that accept the Supreme Courts' District of Columbia versus Heller that reinterpreted the Second Amendment to allow individuals the absolute right to own firearms.

Apparently, the matter was a bit hazy up until Heller when conservatives discovered the right to be eternal and certain all of a sudden after living with it as a collective right for roughly 70 years after the prior reinterpretation.

I hope now we can conclude that the Second Amendment also includes automobiles, since it seems to be a matter of natural law that they too can be owned and used as weapons.

Constitutional interpretation and reinterpretation seems like an ongoing blind wine-tasting to me.

It's all a matter of the palates of those chosen to do the tasting.

Or like seances. Whomever can most convincingly scrape the legs of the chairs on the floor or throw their voices into the Founders ambiguous mouths claims successful communication with the dead.

What nous said - hegemony, hubris and exceptionalism will be the end of us.

But I think this type of thinking is so deeply ingrained after decades of subtle propaganda, that it will take another generation to get over it.

We can't travel abroad to flaunt our homegrown American ugliness, hegemony, hubris, and exceptional willful malignity, so we get it all over our fellow countrymen and women:


I'm pretty sure most of these conservative Covid-carrier zombie freedom lovers traveling from the "homeland" don't realize Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of their very own country, but rather are under the impression that Puerto Ricans are a brown-skinned bunch of servile slaves there to let us put our drinks down on their heads while they wait for the next Puerto Rican who will suck our dicks without a mask on.

Puerto Ricans should shoot a bunch of them as they disembark from their planes and leave the remains on the airport tarmac and I expect their behavior will change, though Trump would drum up enough camo-ed troops to send down there and terrorize the island.

Drive cars into the virus tourists on the beach like republicans would.

Trump would drum up enough camo-ed troops to send down there and terrorize the island.

Now you're being silly. Trump doesn't have unlimited anonymous thugs at his disposal. And he's got to save them for terrorizing places where there are people who could actually vote against him. Which Puerto Rico isn't.

OK, this seems kind of remarkable. To me, anyway.

I know W jumped ship a while ago, but when you've lost Reagan....

"Puerto Ricans should shoot a bunch of [MAGAts] as they disembark from their planes"

Anyone know where one could get a lethal-level Paper Towel Cannon?

Asking for a fiend.

Asking for a "fiend"?

I'm sure she was....

OK, this seems kind of remarkable. To me, anyway.

I know W jumped ship a while ago, but when you've lost Reagan....

As with so many things Trump, he might well have been OK. Except that he didn't bother to follow procedures. In this case, he's legally required to ask permission first.

The Reagan Library likes to see itself as non-partisan. So he might not have gotten permission anyway. But by not asking, he guaranteed he'd get slapped down.

Nah, Reagan's motto was "Never speak ill of a fellow Republican".

Trump might have been taken to the woodshed for his habitual skirting of Nancy's fake manners, but the Republican Party is a big tent under which under which assholes of every caliber will find shelter.

I give you Louis Gohmert of the great state of Texas, which will never let us down:


Gohmert is a big Second Amendment licker.

Turn the guns on him and his militias. Put those automobiles into high gear as well.

Remove the Republican Party from the face of the Earth.

A victory for the fans of the Confederacy!

San Francisco's committee on renaming schools wants to move beyond getting rid of Jefferson and Washington to . . . Lincoln (and FDR)! The mind boggles.

I'm betting that these bozos could even find a reason to object to Martin Luther King. For all that they claim to be liberals.


but if you've set up a committee dedicated to finding out if schools are named after people who:

"...engaged in the subjugation and enslavement of human beings; or who oppressed women, inhibiting societal progress; or whose actions led to genocide; or who otherwise significantly diminished the opportunities of those amongst us to the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness"
[from their charter]

... you're going to narrow the field quite a bit.

just give them numbers, or name them after chemical elements or quarks.

just give them numbers

why not? thought it was a fairly common practice, if not now, then certainly back in the olden days.

Until college, none of the schools I attended were named after people. Seemed to have no bad effects on my learnins.

My schools, including college, all had geographic names. But since some geographic features (not just towns) are named for people, those could be problematic as well.

Not just cities named Columbus either. If you live in Danville, are you sure the particular Daniel it was named for was of unimpeachable-under-today's-standards character? Even if nobody outside the town historian can tell you who he was?

Just to be clear, I have no problem with changing the name of something named explicitly to glorify those who committed treason. Or led the Klan.** But taking things to the extreme only discredits the changes which really should be made.

** And I think it would be entirely fitting if a bridge named for Klan leader Pettus was renamed for Congressman Lewis.

Name the school after poets, Beatles, and baseball players.

Not Solly Hemus.

But we knew this:


Or name them after teachers who have taught in the school district.

Not enough quarks to go around.
Even the chemical elements are too few for a medium size city ("c'mon! we need to find some more!")

Isotopes, there should be enough. But I expect that particular fashion would be short-lived.

Numbers would be interesting, particularly if extended to irrational and complex numbers.

"Yes, I attended an irrational imaginary high-school, why do you ask?"

At least Ronald Reagan showed up in Philadelphia, Mississippi to let John Lewis know that he would do his best to make the latter's skull fracture a mere vanity project:


Trump is afraid to be upstaged by a corpse.

I'm going to attend Trump's funeral.

Someone's got to pour salt in his dead lying surly mouth for eternity's silence.

Well, of course Trump wouldn't go to where Lewis is lying in state. That would be an act of class, and Trump has none.

Numbers would be interesting....

P.S. πD works for me.

quarks would have been sufficient in my town. though maybe there would have been snickering when the Hudson Falls Bottoms took the field.

I like this article. I suspect we're beyond help:


One of many October surprises on the way.

I also suspect it will be overshadowed by the international ones threatening nuclear holocaust.

Unwavering support for Israel and reverse rhinoplasty:


Tear down that Wall!


"there would have been snickering when the Hudson Falls Bottoms Beauties took the field."

Okay, yeah, snickering.
But it could be paired with the Charm school, which is something.

I also suspect it will be overshadowed by the international ones threatening nuclear holocaust.

That, at least, shouldn't be a problem. Trump is such a massive coward that if there is the slightest chance of him personally getting hurt (which anything going nuclear would), he'll cave in a heartbeat. No eyeball-to-eyeball for him! Not even from the deepest bunker under Cheyenne Mountain.

I wish I went to +3dB High School. My education would have been twice as good.

...in that charm school.

First, do harm to your colleagues, and then murder your patients. At least these scum reside in the states you would expect them to be killing in:



I guess there is no hope of reviewing these states' lax licensing procedures because conservative and libertarian subhumans run the show.

Returning to the subject of the OP, Duncan Black today has a post up that is, uh, not necessarily to Applebaum's advantage, to paraphrase the Emperor. In Black's usual, nuanced style.


nuanced indeed....

Knock knock.

Who's there?



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