What a Week

The week started out strange and got a whole lot stranger.

Derek Fildebrandt’s Bev Oda moment

This week we learned that Derek Fildebrandt Airbnb-ed his taxpayer subsidized apartment, pocketed the cash and claimed the full rental expense in his housing allowance.

Most people would call it double dipping but Mr Fildebrandt said it was a Gen X thing (who wouldn’t Airbnb their apartment when they weren’t using it?).  A few days later he reluctantly apologized and took a leave of absence from the UCP leadership race.  Given that he has not yet endorsed a candidate we’re left to speculate who told Mr Fildebrandt to sit this one out.

We’ll miss Mr Fildebrandt.  He would have spiced up Jason Kenney’s no-policies leadership campaign by lobbing in some libertarian ideas.

Take Mr Fildebrandt’s Nanny State Policy as an example.  It calls for the repeal of laws protecting self-sufficient adults from themselves.  If self-sufficient adults want to drink alcohol in public places, smoke flavoured cigarettes and tear around the countryside on ATVs without helmets, let them.

What Mr Fildebrandt failed to explain was who decides whether an adult is “self-sufficient”.  Non-self-sufficient adults often think they’re self-sufficient (eg seniors who refuse to accept they can no longer drive).

If non-self-sufficient adults can’t be trusted to self identify would the government make the call?  Would it force people to take IQ tests and emotional quotient tests to measure self-sufficiency?  What happens when a self-sufficient person  injures himself?  Should the government deny him healthcare because he should have known better? We’ll never know because Mr Fildebrandt’s libertarian policies have been grounded along with Mr Fildebrandt.

Jason Kenney thinks he’s Rachel Notley 

Jason Kenney was quick off the mark to thank Brad Wall when Wall announced he was retiring from political life.

Kenney tweeted:  “On behalf of Albertans, thank-you @PremierBradWall for fighting for us when we’ve been abandoned by our own provincial government.”

What arrogance!

Our government has not “abandoned” its people and the only person who can speak for Albertans is the premier, Rachel Notley.  Jason Kenney is an unelected politician who speaks for no one but himself.

If Mr Kenney wants to share his admiration for Mr Wall he can start by explaining why it’s okay for Mr Wall to increase the provincial sales tax to 6%, rack up public debt to the tune of $22.6 billion and tax Saskatchewaniens anywhere from 10.75% to 14.75% which is higher than Alberta’s lowest tax rate and only .25% less than Alberta’s top rate.

While he’s at it, Mr Kenney can also explain how Mr Wall was “fighting for Albertans” when he offered incentives to Alberta corporations to entice them to relocate to Saskatchewan.

Donald Trump’s Dr Strangelove moment

It’s funny how we forget the Earth is round and the shortest route for a nuclear-tipped missile launched by North Korea at the US is through Canadian air space.

drstrangelove_0_1

Dr Strangelove

This has been the case since the Cold War.  In 1957 Canada and the US created NORAD to protect themselves from the Soviet Union.  Since then successive Canadian governments worked with or pulled back from American efforts to beef up American missile defence systems.

Donald Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric reminds us that Canada can’t pick up its borders and move to Australia.  We need to pay attention to events unfolding in the US or face the prospect of “incineration without representation”, a phrase coined by Canadian politicians to garner support for the principle of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD).

What should we do?  Who knows, but relying on MAD when Donald Trump and Kim Jung-Un are threatening to lob nukes at each other won’t get us very far.

****

There’s a lesson in all this madness.  Weed out your loonie politicians before they gain power and mess it up for everyone else.

 

 

 

 

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36 Responses to What a Week

  1. aratureis says:

    Fantastic column today. Thank you, as always.

    Yvonne Spies

    On Aug 13, 2017 10:16 AM, “Susan on the Soapbox” wrote:

    > susanonthesoapbox posted: “The week started out strange and got a whole > lot stranger. Derek Fildebrandt’s Bev Oda moment This week we learned that > Derek Fildebrandt Airbnb-ed his taxpayer subsidized apartment, pocketed the > cash and claimed the full rental expense in his housing a” >

    • Thanks Yvonne. I’m at the ATA conference in Banff. One of the topics we discussed over the dinner table was the increasing polarization in politics and the damage it does to democracy. The support Kenney et al continue to receive notwithstanding these “bozo eruptions” is amazing.

      • Claudette Whiting says:

        So pleased to read that you are speaking at an ATA conference. Your voice needs to be heard in larger venues.
        and thanks for another thought provoking piece.

  2. ronmac says:

    Well if Donald Trump carrys out his threat to level North Korea with “fire and fury” it wouldn’t be the first time.

    • Ronmac, Daniel Ellsberg discusses the US involvement in North Korea in his book about the Vietnam War and the release of the Pentagon Papers. Many military advisors and generals said the only reason they failed in North Korea was because they were not allowed to nukes on the North Koreans. What doesn’t come out clearly in Ellsberg’s book is the sheer scale of the devastation in what they *were* allowed to do. Incredible.

    • Claudette Whiting says:

      Is this page included in American history books, and in school curriculums?
      ……..so much to atone for

  3. J.E. Molnar says:

    Jason Kenney usually speaking is hilarious in its own right, but becomes chillingly demonic when he actually believes he speaks for *all* Albertans. He is a non-elected, pompous, arrogant “premier wannabe” who disrespects the office of Rachel Notley. Lambasted on Twitter for his churlish comment, he has become another unintended bozo-eruption. #OnBehalfofJasonKenney

    • Claudette Whiting says:

      Let’s hope he stays “non elected”. And others of his ilk. There will be others. .

      • Thanks Claudette. I’m not actually presenting anything at the ATA conference, I am one of a number of people who were invited to attend so we could participate in the discussions. I’m here as an advocate/thought leader (I like that characterization). Other outside participants include specialists in relevant fields such as education and the future of work and MLAs from the Liberal party, the NDP, and the UCP. It’s been fascinating. I’m looking forward to sharing my impressions in a future blog. 🙂

    • You nailed it J.E. There’s nothing more irritating than an ex-federal politician telling us how he’s going to fix this province, particularly when he had ample time to fix the things that ails us when he was in Harper’s cabinet but failed to do so. I’ll be interested to see whether the public will let Kenney get away with his no-policies leadership campaign when all of the other candidates are unveiling policies of their own. Even Trump wasn’t that arrogant.

  4. jerrymacgp says:

    The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency of the Excited States is the ultimate expression of the popular distrust (at both ends of the ideological spectrum) of experience in government and contempt for the so-called “professional politician”, as though governing were so simple a rank amateur could do it. The last President to have been elected to the highest office in the land without ever having run for, let alone been elected to, anything else, was Gen. (ret’d) Dwight D. Eisenhower, whose only previous experience for the job was Supreme Allied Commander in Europe for D-Day and the liberation of Western Europe.

    Who would you prefer fix your car, a licensed journeyman mechanic with 20+ years in the trade, or some dude working off YouTube? Would you want an untrained individual working from a manual she checked out of the public library to do your coronary artery bypass surgery? So, why is it OK for someone with no previous experience in governing to be elected to the highest office in the land? Granted, there is some merit in the argument that our elected representatives should have some real-life experience outside of politics, but I think that a balance can be found that doesn’t include handing the nuclear codes to a complete and utter novice in government.

    • Well said Jerry. The conversation around the dinner table last night was whether Trump is a novice ricocheting from one bad decision to another or a neo-fascist who is acting in a deliberate fashion to undermine the checks and balances on the office of the President. In either case he has his hand on the nuclear codes so the distinction may be irrelevant.

  5. GoinFawr says:

    Derek Fildebrandt pulls an Ayn Rand, priceless. Well, takers gonna take.

    In this new age of political hocus-pocus shouldn’t he simply turn around and ‘own it’? You know, claim that his double dipping dealing only shows he’s ‘smart’, or ‘recuperating taxes paid’ or something the like?

    Oh right, he tried that, and no one’s buying it. Hunh, go figure.

    I mean sure, it would have been FAR more in line with his self purported ethos if he had taken the funds generated by renting out his taxpayer subsidized apartment and putting them back into the Province’s general revenues, doing his small part to ease the hoi polloi’s tax burden, but hey; let’s not take the man’s campaign rhetoric too literally here, amirite? Because apparently he’s just another greedy little bloviator of neoliberal dogma, after all.

    • Well said GoinFawr. Fildebrandt outsmarted himself when he characterized this as a savvy Gen-X thing to do (thereby implying that his critics were a bunch of out of touch geezers). He forgot that these “geezers” make up a good chunk of the UCP base. If they wouldn’t forgive Bev Oda they for a $16 orange juice they certainly weren’t about to forgive a lips smart-aleck who was going to “donate” his ill gained profits to pay down the provincial debt.

  6. Einar Davison says:

    I always remember two things my parents taught me.
    1. If you point a finger at someone else, chances are there will be three pointing back at you.
    2. It get harder to be something you are not than what you are.
    In the case of “Double Dip Derek” and all his minions who are trying to justify what he did, I believe he has committed fraud, there are no excuses, and him running away hoping this will die down just makes him look more guilty. As his constituent, funny he doesn’t seem to be around here any less than usual, but then he hardly seemed to be around anyway. Jason Kenney and the rest of the right only care about one thing, that is getting into government so they can get back on the gravy train. However I can’t blame just him, this has to be the worst Legislative Assembly ever. Alberta should deserve better, but then do we? Maybe we are the problem when we elect people without ethics and integrity.
    In regards to Donald Trump, will he survive to the end of his term? I guess starting a nuclear conflict is a great way to get people from thinking about your crimes. Does it seem to everyone that the world leaders have all just lost their freaking heads? Maybe we have lost ours by voting for people with no vision, no integrity and nothing more than hot air to back them up. i.e “Double Dip Derek”.

    • “Double Dip Derek”. I love it Einar.

      I was talking with a politician about this the other day. They wondered who squealed on Fildebrandt (also known as DDD). I said DDD implied it was Brian Jean. They said what if it was Jason Kenney. That actually makes some sense. Kenney is shrewd enough to recognize who will help his campaign and who might hurt it. DDD is a loose cannon…better to banish him early than risk a bozo eruption when the campaign is down to the wire. Ooh, don’t you just love political intrigue?

      • Einar Davison says:

        DDD, I love that! I have to agree, who knows more how “slippery” DDD is but his own “friends”. I bet you’re right! I was thinking his fallback position would be to start a Libertarian Party in Alberta or takeover Wildrose 2.0, but he is smart enough to realize they won’t go anyplace. Unless he decides it is better to lead in the fringe, than serve in the backbench. Poor Derek he just can’t get a break, Bernier didn’t win so he couldn’t transition into federal politics and now he will be a backbencher forever.
        Susan I would love if our elected officials would do their jobs and work for Albertans and not themselves. However when they build their house on sand (loose ethics) eventually things start to slip and cracks start showing. How long can they deny they don’t have issues.
        So I must admit I am enjoying the “train wreck” that is beginning to happen for the right. What more they did it to themselves. Maybe they will implode just in time for the next election. They have had their way for too long and maybe a big defeat will bring them back down to earth. They are Albertans too, but we need them to not be arrogant, self interested and think that they have all the answers when it has been proven they have none. I think of that Chinese curse “may you live in interesting time” Well we sure are living in interesting times. Thank you Susan!

  7. Douglas Taylor says:

    You realize by the way, is that since he would get his housing allowance from his expense account, he would be pocketing that as not taxable and not reportable income. Then making the Airbnb money would likely not be reported income as well. And likely his magnanimous gesture to donate his windfall to the Crown debt, would get him a handy tax credit from CRA. Talk about a hell of a deal.
    For being such a pious Taxpayer, Federation icon, he is such a sleezily cunning artist at not being one.

    • Douglas, thanks for pointing out the tax implications of Fildebrandf’s Airbnb scheme. Looks like he got the better of us in more ways than one. Apparently his constituency association thought he was just being smart with his money. Their comments reminded me of the exchange between Trump and Hillary during the debates. She nailed him on not paying taxes and failing to contribute his fair share to infrastructure, the military, education, etc. He blew her off by saying he was being “smart”. And his supporters agreed with him. Once they’d decided he was their guy it really didn’t matter what he dId, (it still doesn’t), they’ll rationalize it somehow.

  8. Carlos Beca says:

    Everyone that reads my comments in this blog knows that this is not a surprise to me.
    Libertarian means to many of them ‘do whatever it takes to make it” – this is just an example. They all hate government but at any chance take advantage of it. I know the types. The only problem, which I have not seen anyone talk about yet is that many Albertans do believe this to be alright.
    When Derek said he did not see why what he did was a problem, he meant it. That is a fact. If you think that most Albertans are disappointed at this you are going to be surprised. This will go the way of the dodo and Derek will be pushing his message again soon. Many Albertans, having had the same chance would have done the same thing. You are eluding yourselves if you think that ethics, honesty and integrity standards are the same as what we use to accept just 20 years ago. Just look at the world and it is easy to understand how far we came not just with right wing monstrosities but behavior as well. Donald Trump is just one example but not the only one. Our own prime minister has lied more times than he has not. When he is challenged on those lies he has never admitted them. Ever because lying is what people do as far as he is concerned if it is to advance your interests. We are ignoring these very problematic signs of a very sick society at our own peril.
    Jason Kenney talks on behalf of Albertans because is ego does not even fit in his body.

    • Douglas Taylor says:

      Your comment was rolling along nicely until you blurted out ” … our prime minister has lied more than he has not…”.
      Such overblown hyperbole is utter nonesense.

      • mikepriaro says:

        Your comment “Such overblown hyperbole is utter nonsense.” qualifies as overblown hyperbole and utter nonsense much more than accusing Justin Trudeau of lying more than telling the truth.

        Look at Trudeau’s broken election “promises” – a euphemism for lies:

        1: Revenue neutral middle-class tax cut
        Trudeau said his middle class tax cut would pay for itself. It hasn’t. The tax cut is costing all Canadians $1.2 billion annually from the federal treasury, a classic case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

        2: Small business tax cut
        Trudeau promised to lower the rate from 11% to 9%. He hasn’t.

        3: Modest deficits
        Trudeau said annual deficits over his first term in office would total $24.1 billion. Last week’s federal budget pegs them at $93.3 billion, an immodest increase of 287%.

        4: Balanced budget
        Trudeau said the budget would be balanced, with a $1 billion surplus, in 2019-20. Last week’s budget predicts the deficit in 2019-20 will be $20.4 billion, $18.7 billion deficit in 2020-21 and $15.8 billion in 2021-22. It gives no indication of when the budget will be balanced, if ever.

        5: Reduce debt-to-GDP ratio
        Trudeau promised this ratio, a key indicator of the government’s economic health, would be reduced from 30% to 27% by the end of his first term in office. Last week’s budget replaces this with a vague statement the ratio will be lower in 2020-21 than 2016-17, without specifics.

        6: Revenue neutral carbon pricing
        Trudeau said his carbon pricing plan would be revenue neutral for the federal government. This was misleading because his government is not lowering other federal taxes to offset new federal revenues gained from carbon pricing, which is the definition of revenue neutrality. Instead, Trudeau has set a mandatory national carbon price for provincial governments to implement, with no requirement that their carbon pricing schemes must be revenue neutral for them.

        7: Reduce industrial greenhouse gas emissions
        Before the 2015 election, Trudeau and the Liberals said then prime minister Stephen Harper’s proposed emission cuts were inadequate. Post-election, Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna said they were the “floor” on which the Liberals would build. Today, Harper’s floor is Trudeau’s ceiling since he hasn’t changed Harper’s targets.

        8: Electoral reform
        Trudeau said the 2015 election would be the last using “first past the post” balloting and would be replaced with some form of proportional representation. He has abandoned this promise.

        9: Open and transparent government
        The opposition parties complain Trudeau is proposing to reduce weekly parliamentary sittings from five days to four (eliminating Fridays), appear only one day a week to answer their questions, limit their power to delay legislation and give the government more time to answer their written inquiries.

        10: Restore home mail delivery
        Trudeau’s government is studying the issue, but his promise appears to have been downsized to not cutting home mail delivery any further, rather than restoring previous cuts.

        per lgoldstein@postmedia.com

      • Carlos Beca says:

        I was debating if I was going to reply to your post because of the tone of it but Mikepriaro did it for me. Thank you Mike.
        I think that we are all adults here and there is no need to sound disrespectful. First of all I do not blurt I write the best I can my political ideas. Secondly what I said is only nonsense if you do not follow politics as close as I do or if you are a die hard Liberal. The only nonsense in this conversation is that politicians are playing serious games with our future and our lives in the name of nothing but their interests. It is ridiculous that in our country we have a political system that is absolutely bankrupt. This is not nonsense, it is reality and we as citizens are responsible for letting it happen. Justin Trudeau lies constantly at International meetings by suggesting ideas he himself does not practice at home. In the last G20 he preached inequality and gender disparity and what has he done here for fix that?
        Justin Trudeau plays politics big time and we no longer need games. We need to start creating a real better future for all Canadians and not just those that own all the resources.

      • Carlos, Doug and Mike, we all care deeply about what’s going on in our province and in our country. As a result sometimes we get carried away (I’ve done it myself) but we need to stay focused on what the politicians are saying and avoid criticizing each other. Doug telling Carlos he’s using overblown hyperbole and Mike telling Doug that *he’s* the one using overblown hyperbole side tracks the conversation.

        A more effective way to address comments we think are over the top is to set out facts that contradict that position. Mike’s list of broken promises does that very effectively.

        OK, let’s get back to the discussion. Incidently, it’s fine with me if we veer off topic. Some of the most interesting discussions have happened in the comments section of this blog.

        Thanks guys.

  9. The Defiant Lifesmith says:

    I am certainly not a fan nor a supporter of Derek Fildebrandt or of the extreme right-wing / libertarian ideologies that serve to perpetuate their irrational alternate reality but I have to admit that I have advocated for what you referred to as Mr Fildebrandt’s Nanny State Policy that calls for the repeal of laws protecting self-sufficient adults from themselves. Not because I feel we as a society need the freedom to make these choices but because many of these types of laws seriously impede the process of natural selection where the extraordinarily ignorant and evolutionary challenged would normally be permanently removed from the human gene pool. If we were to go back in history to the time where these types of laws and regulations were being imposed, we would find a direct correlation to the onset and resulting rise of far right-wing extremism. The restoration of the process of natural selection, through the removal of these types laws and all safety regulations, would most certainly result in a huge reduction and quite possibly the total elimination of the far right-wing. There would of course be some collateral damage as society once again cleanses itself, but it would be worth it to never again have to worry about extremists trying to gain governmental control of an otherwise just and rational society. I say……. Here’s your rope Mr Filedrandt, please take all you need (cue circus music and crash sounds).

    • Defiant Lifesmith I was wondering whether anyone was going to tackle Fildebrandt’s Nanny State Policy although I must admit I hadn’t anticipated the policy being supported in such an ingenious way. If you’re proposing a modern day version of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal I can go with it, otherwise my sense of empathy kicks in even for self-sufficient adults who seriously injures themselves as a result of their own stupidity.
      I got a chuckle out of your last sentence. I suspect that crashing sound we hear is the demise of Mr Fildebrandt’s political career.
      Cue the bozo eruptions. One down, a few more to go.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      ‘Not because I feel we as a society need the freedom to make these choices but because many of these types of laws seriously impede the process of natural selection where the extraordinarily ignorant and evolutionary challenged would normally be permanently removed from the human gene pool.’

      I am sorry but I had a bit of a hard time reading this sentence. If I understand this correctly you are basically saying that through the natural process we would get rid of ignorant and evolutionary challenged people. Would you be kind to explain how that would happen?

      Thank you

      • jerrymacgp says:

        I think he’s referring to the “Science of Stupid” and the Darwin Awards… that without safety regulations like bike helmet laws (which, in Alberta, only apply to minors 16 & under), people too stupid to wear a helmet will be permanently removed from the gene pool, perhaps through being “doored” by a dually on Jasper Ave.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Jerry thank you for the explanation 🙂 very entertaining. Jasper Avenue is the perfect place for something like your description.
        I always get concerned about ‘natural selection’ comments.

      • Defiant Lifesmith says:

        I didn’t realize there would be a discussion as to the meaning of what I wrote. jerrymacgp pretty much got the jist of it. It is simply a quasi tongue-in-cheek metaphorical musing of the alt right-wing mentality. Loosely based on the famous quote by John Stuart Mill – “Although I cannot say with certainty that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that all stupid people are conservative.” (paraphrasing)

        Yes Susan, the crashing sound can be applied to the demise of his career but I also believe it to be the sound track of UPC governance should they ever gain political control.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Defiant – I did not get it. I think I know why but it is of no interest.
        Thank you for clarifying it for me. I appreciate it.

  10. Carlos Beca says:

    Well looks like the Alberta Taxpayers Association freedom fighter that helped get Alison Redford down is now in the same situation. AMAZING. Alison Redford must be laughing out loud.
    This fellow should be expelled from the Legislature and from the party.
    NO WAY – he will say I am sorry and wait for a better opportunity.
    We are such a bunch of idiots really.

  11. Einar Davison says:

    Derek strikes again, double dipping lunches and now a hit and run. He states he has “let himself down”, what about his constituents, he is our representative and his actions reflect badly on us. However where is the cry from his other constituents? I’m biased, I absolutely believe the man needs to be sent back to Ottawa on the “first thing smoking”. Where are all those people who voted for him because they were angry at Jason Hale for crossing the floor? Where are all those who are forever angry at the government for the wrong they do, even when they don’t do wrong? I rail against the hypocracy of the right, they certainly can “talk the talk”, but when it comes to walking it, they suddenly become physically challenged. I fear that Derek will find a way to spin this that he “failed, but he will be better, we just need to give him a chance”. There are a lot of people who want to give him that chance, even though none of the people they skewered over the last 10 years got that chance. It reminds me of Ralph Klein using the government plane (The Dash 8 39 passengers) all by himself and showed no remorse, yet one of the pilots who flew Alison Redford would never admit it even though it was public knowledge and Ralph Klein pretty much told the news media he was going to continue doing it because his time was valuable. Derek won’t change, he’ll keep a low profile and hope this blows over. The UCP will welcome him back as soon as it does. Maybe I’m cynical, but there isn’t much in Alberta political life these days that surprise me. That includes Derek Fildebrandt running in the next election and winning!

    • carlosbeca says:

      I could not agree more with you Einar and that is why in a previous email I mentioned that many Albertans agree with Derek and will vote for him. We are no longer the province or for that matter the country we once were. I am not nostalgic about the past but I also do not like to forget the good things we use to have. One of them is that in general our ethics and integrity were better. We were less corrupt. I have been in many political discussions and I know for a fact that many people considered regular people would say openly things like ‘If I was in his/her position I would have tried the same why not? – is it not something everyone does?”
      Ralph Klein was the greatest abuser of public resources and gave himself the right to talk down to people less fortunate than him. We all remember very well at least a couple of known facts. In my personal case I was part of a team that received a Government Award and in the day of the event he approached us and he could hardily articulate any word. He was lucky that even in death he was treated for free by a public Health System that he tried so hard to destroy.

  12. Carlos and Einar the conservative’s reputation for fiscal management took a big hit on Aug 26 when we learned the UCP caucus is in the red because the WR caucus is running a $322,000 deficit. Furthermore, they’re overstaffed and will be looking at layoffs. Just to put the staffing issue into context, the UCP have 38 staffers to 28 MLAs (1.4 per MLA), the NDs have 24 staffers for 55 MLAs (.44 per MLA), the Alberta Party has 3 staffers for one MLA and the Liberals 4 staffers for one MLA. Brian Jean is trying to suggest that some of the deficit is the result of Fildebrandt going independent and Starke staying with the PC caucus but how this translates into being $322,000 over budget is a mystery.
    Here’s the link: http://www.edmontonsun.com/2017/08/24/united-conservative-party-caucus-facing-deficit-considering-job-cuts

    • Einar Davison says:

      Ironic Hypocrites, we need to wonder if they can’t keep their affairs in order when they are in opposition, one can only imagine what will happen if they ever form government. I have heard that the former Wildrose caucus staff were all “mouthpieces” rather than researchers. Please correct me if I am wrong, but 1 or 2 staff members are usually at constituency offices and then there is usually an assistant/researcher at the Leg is how I believe it is suppose to work out and I believe there is a specific amount of money allowed for each position. I’m assuming that they share research staff, so they should actually be more cost effective. So how did they manage to go off “plan” could it be a little patronage got out of hand? Or is this symbolic of what they plan to do if they become government? I keep thinking there are good people on the right too, just as there are bad people on the left and center too. They make it hard for me to keep on believing that belief though.

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