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Hi, This is Wayne. This is my site, my stuff, my blog, blahblahblah. The site itself is powered by WordPress and the Scary Little theme. I thought it was cool, and I still do.

I’ve been thinking about all the crap I hear on TV, radio, on emails, blogs, comments, smoke signals, and scratched in braille on the ATM keypad.  There’s spin, spin, spin.  Everywhere.

Today my frustration peaked when some knucklehead on the radio (see the spin creeping in already?) say “You know that Joe the Plumber guy? Well it turns out, he’s not even a licensed plumber.”

*Sigh.*

(see that spin I just put in? Cool, eh?  I sighed electronically, and hopefully your opinion is swayed my way).

Now, I’m smart enough to pose the question internally… so what if he’s not licensed?  Are plumbers even licensed?  Is he supposed to be licensed?  I know that code varies from state to state, and even county to county for lots of occupations.  For example, electricians – do you happen to know if you have to be licensed to be a Journeyman in your area to touch live wires?  In some places, you don’t.

But.  Even.  More.  Imporantly.  What the heck does any attribute about the questioner have to do with the actual question?  And, therefore, the subsequent answer?   It seems to me that the whole “Joe The Plumber” story is: Joe asked a hard question, Obama let it slip that he wants to redistribute wealth, so now people are going to attack Joe and try to discredit him somehow, and by inference, make Obama’s answer inconsequential. 

One of the sound bites even claimed “Joe’s not even his name.”  The guy’s name is Samual Joseph Wurzelbacher and goes by his middle name.  Hmm, I do that.  My middle name is Wayne.  Maybe Obama is jealous since if HE went by his middle name, he’d be… oh never mind.

Here’s a test I just made up.  Take the following sentence, and examine how it makes you feel when you read it.

While [the husband] was at a meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria at 4 p.m. Wednesday, [name] called room service and ordered lobster hors d’oeuvres, two whole steamed lobsters, Iranian caviar and champagne.  For all we know, campaign funds paid for this entire elite meal.

So here’s the question: if the “name” listed was Cindy McCain, does it make your blood boil?  What if it was Laura Bush?  Are you mad?  What if it was Lynne Cheney?

My point here is that the name (aka “target”) shouldn’t color the substance of the story.  The story is the story.  If you listen to some news story and it makes you mad, swap the “target” of the story with the name of someone you like.  Does the story still seem as bad? 

How about this sentence:

[name] pushed for increasing CHIP funding (Childrens’ Health Insurance Plan) by at least five billion dollars, but partisan opponents delayed the funding, causing millions of children to risk living without insurance.

Are you thinking about what name might go in there?  Do you think it’s Clinton?  Obama?  Ted Kennedy? 

Nope, it’s George W. Bush.

What kind of bias frustrates you the most?

And lo, the people did comment thus:

27 Comments

  1. Amanda says:

    You know that I don’t agree on politics with you, but I thought you’d appreciate this- Obama was complaining that the media at foxnews was biased against him. Um… welcome to john mccain’s world and pretty much the entire rest of the media

  2. Miss Britt says:

    You’re not honestly going to claim to be impartial, are you?

    I think the point of the “not licensed plumber” here is that McCain supporters are holding this guy up to be some kind of American Hero, the proof incarnate that Obama’s economic policies are bad.

    And the reality is that Joe the Plumber is not a business owner, is not looking to buy even a mid sized business, and would personally (according to third party economists here) BENEFIT from Obama’s tax plan.

    You can’t rally behind Joe The Plumber in a national debate and then get pissed off when people want to talk about how credible this “American Example of Fiscal Responsibility” is. Kind of like you can’t say “families are off limits” and then parade your kids out for public sympathy.

    Miss Britt´s last blog post..We Call This The Curly Bob

  3. Miss Britt says:

    And his middle name is Hussein.

    We should be ashamed of ourselves as a country that that is even an issue. And anyone who would use it as a weapon to prey on that ignorance should be.. oh, never mind.

    Miss Britt´s last blog post..We Call This The Curly Bob

  4. ajooja says:

    If the name “George W. Bush” instantly comes to mind when you think about funding healthcare, I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

    Your president vetoed the earlier $35 billion package.
    http://tinyurl.com/2hhar8

    So, one side will say Bush tried to save taxpayers $30 billion. The other will say he turned his back on millions of children.

    That’s how it goes.

  5. Nobody says:

    Bias in the media? NO! Never! The Dems told me there isn’t bias so it MUST be true. Except for FOX News, those guys are biased!

    I love it when I see stuff like that, Fox is biased, but Katie Couric isn’t. BULL FEATHERS! (have to keep this PG). As someone who says that I’m not a republican, I do tend to vote that way, and I know that Fox IS biased a bit. But I think they are less biased than most media outlets.

    I applaud this post.

  6. whall says:

    Amanda, thank you for mentioning that. I understand there is bias, but when people claim that CNN, NY Times, Washington Post, et al are NOT biased, that’s when I respond. I don’t doubt that FOX is biased; they’re just biased the other way, the same amount that most news orgs are biased left. I get my news from both sources so I can be a little more balanced.

    Miss Britt, I’m not claiming to be impartial. I’m pointing out the bias people may have when hearing stories in the media.

    In Joe’s case, I think people are too ready to demonize the question-asker when the focus should be on the question and the answer. Normally, the democrats laud someone like Joe – he’s in debt, he owes back taxes, and he’s having a hard time buying a business. But how quickly they turn their backs when the answer Obama “The One” gave belies his true intentions of wealth redistribution. Instead, I sense the media trying to make the question moot because of certain characteristics that Joe has. Why doesn’t the media mention how many of Obama’s campaign managers owe back taxes? What about Al Franken’s humongous back tax bill? Why is the stuff the media uses to demonize people so irrelevant?

    ajooja, that’s my point. What I wrote is 100% true about George W. Bush. He proposed $5-10 BILLION increase in spending. But the Democrats pushed for double that amount and then demonized Bush as being against children for wanting to keep the increase to $5-10B. See the bias? If you read a story saying “Bush vetoed $12 billion increase” that sounds a lot different than “Bush’s $5 billion increase ignored by liberals”. I think the real story was closer to Congress pushing so hard for pork for their insurance buddies, and then painted Bush as the devil that hates kids. I guess the real question is: did you even know Bush pushed for a $5-10 billion increase?

    Here’s another question: do any democrats reading this comment know that Bill Clinton was impeached? I was talking to someone the other day and the person I was talking to thought I was making that up. Sure, it wasn’t ratified by the Senate, but it’s still a fact.

    Nobody,
    I see the Economy has hit you so hard that you can’t even afford your little TM symbol any more.

  7. marilyn says:

    The thing is, you don’t like the way the democrats think about money and the thing is, we don’t like the way you think about money.

    McCain used Joe the Plumber for emotional impact and it turns out that he doesn’t stand for everyman… not even the average small business owner, or aspiring owner. It was a political mistake on McCain’s part and nobody’s mind is changed. We’re still all on opposite sides of the basic issue.

    If you make $250,000/year, you can pay slightly higher taxes and still eat. If you make $20,000/year or less, you’re lucky to eat, no matter how hard you work toward it. Women and minorities and the disabled do need help making it over that threshold sometimes, however hard it might be to believe. That’s the way I see it.

    The way you see it, the government is stealing the hard earned money of a few to give to the many. We just won’t see eye to eye on this. We might as well agree to disagree.

    marilyn´s last blog post..Just Another Manic Friday

  8. Sybil Law says:

    I hate all the bias on BOTH sides. Republicans are just as bad as Democrats, when it comes to never admitting anyone’s done anything wrong. There is ALWAYS some lame excuse. Like, I cannot for the freaking life of me understand why I don’t hear more about what a joke it is that Sarah Palin is running for VP – from Repubs. She’s the best they’ve got?
    I am a strict independent. I really am. I hate seeing crap on both sides. It’s definitely a sighing thing.

    Sybil Law´s last blog post..A Post!

  9. Janna says:

    I agree with Marilyn.

  10. Dave2 says:

    I’m not biased… I hate all plumbers! They charge too much and won’t pay for damages when they accidentally put a hole in your wall while changing out the pipes to your shower!

    Dave2´s last blog post..Fair

  11. Faiqa says:

    To complain about “bias” in the media is like trying to dissect the rationale behind one’s fellow Americans’ complaints about the economy while they down their daily $6 Mocha Caffe Latte Venti. (Coffee is expensive. We really should think about invading Indonesia.) Which is to say, it’s an exercise in futility.

    That said, you do have a point.

    Partisanship diminishes our capacity to think for ourselves and adequately understand the issues. Another George (Washington), mentioned that this would, in fact, contribute heavily to the political failure of our nation.

    Not to mention that there is something disturbing about a democratic society that believes the solution to all of its problems rests on the shoulders of one man or office.

    And, HEY, why *don’t* you just finish that sentence about is middle name, Mr. I-share-my-name-with=a-guy-who-buried-40- little-boys-in-his-basement? 😛

    Faiqa´s last blog post..The Absolute Last Bit Of Evidence You Need

  12. Faiqa says:

    oops. “is name”=”his name.”

    Faiqa´s last blog post..The Absolute Last Bit Of Evidence You Need

  13. Andy Bailey says:

    I think spin is purely a product of a commercial media, it’s the big guys at the top of the media outlets that tell the public what to think. Luckily you’re wearing a tin-foil hat or something to see through the BS that is spin!

    Andy Bailey´s last blog post..Consipiracy in the credit crunch? the Matrix? AI? all of them? arrgh

  14. martymankins says:

    In reply to the reply you left for ajooja, I did know that Clinton was impeached and he was impeached for lying under oath, but it took a BJ in the White House to get there. I wonder if would have still been impeached if he lied about a war, then came clean about it years later, mentioning that some mistakes had been made.

    As for bias and spin, you can apply any spin and bias to anything, not just politics. I have to be very unbiased with no spin: I use both Windows and Mac and both have their positives and negatives. But one can be quite hard to deal with, when it comes to updated drivers and one can be more expensive to purchase (at least the hardware part of it). But here comes the spin….. Mac users can use both Windows and Mac on the same machine.

    To get back on topic, I don’t demonize Joe The Plummer, he just wants to keep the future money he may make without having to give it up. I have many friends that would hate to see any tax increase, which is why they are voting for McCain. McCain has promised them tax reductions. I think that’s a promise that they need to reclaim if McCain gets elected.

    If Obama gets elected, people making under $200,000 will not see a tax increase. Does that mean they won’t get any tax breaks? Who knows. My armchair tax knowledge is this: the majority of taxes for years (regardless who is president) have come mostly from the middle to lower class. When you have money, you can hire enough people to make sure you get to keep most of your money and get the tax breaks the average consumer and tax-payer can’t get. I think deep down inside, what people really want is to be fair. And I’d like to see someone, somebody get elected that can’t see it that way.

    martymankins´s last blog post..Scooter Sunday #27

  15. martymankins says:

    I meant “that can see it that way”

    martymankins´s last blog post..Scooter Sunday #27

  16. Ren says:

    Marty, you can find details about how much taxes are paid by what income levels at http://www.irs.treas.gov/taxstats/indtaxstats/article/0,,id=129270,00.html
    Specifically, the spreadsheet at http://www.irs.treas.gov/pub/irs-soi/05in02tr.xls has a good breakdown of 2005 data (the latest that is available on that page).

    According to this data, the lowest 36% of tax returns, up to an AGI of $30K, account for just 3% of the tax revenue collected. The next 23%, up to an AGI of $50K, account for another 8% of the tax revenue collected. The next 27%, up to an AGI of $100K, account for another 20% of the revenue. That makes the lower 86% of tax returns accounting for only 31% of the tax revenue.

    Taking the next step up to $200K AGI, the total is 97% of tax returns but only 51% of tax revenue. That means that the 3% of tax returns that represent AGI of more than $200K account for 49% of the tax revenue collected.

    Could you clarify what you mean by fair?

    Ren´s last blog post..My favorite iPhone apps

  17. I’ve had more than my fair share of politics today but one thing I want to point out is that while “Joe” may be the plumber’s middle name, so is “Barney” of the infamous Democratic Convention speech – ya know, the guy who has been a republican all of his life but GW made him jump to the dark side, who worked at the same factory his dad did until they both got laid off and the plant shut down, blah blah blah – the one who stole his famous catchphrase from his nephew “We need a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney.” Yeah – Barney is actually his middle name and no one even really calls him by that name. If you go to his hometown of, like, 12 people, and look for Barney Smith, no one will have ever heard of him because he doesn’t go by Barney. And in an article in the New Yorker, he said that he actually got that phrase from his nephew.

    http://www.swamppolitics.com/news/politics/blog/2008/08/who_is_for_barney_smith_or_smi.html

    http://www.necn.com/category/32/16640

    Sorry for the long first time comment!

    Sheila (Charm School Reject)´s last blog post..Thievery At Its Finest

  18. Sandi says:

    You asked what kind of bias upsets us most, right?
    I think that, for me, the most heinous bias is that based on hearsay. I mean, we are ALL going to have our biases. We’re fed them as we grow, we change them as we grow some more, but they’re going to be there.

    The rotten ones are those that we allow to sway us without any first-hand input. The ones based upon someone else’s unsupported, uninvestigated opinion. Bias.

    I personally find partisan biases to be ridiculous and amusing at the same time.

    Sandi´s last blog post..Will it increase productivity?

  19. martymankins says:

    Ren… the real fairness is when everyone pays the same percentage. Everyone would get back more money and a properly managed and budget minded government would have a surplus. That’s fair.

    What’s the current reality of fair for today? People being able to have enough money to both pay their bills and have their own surplus to support businesses of all types.

    martymankins´s last blog post..Scooter Sunday #27

  20. martymankins says:

    Ren… forgot to say thanks for posting those irs.gov links. Can’t argue with official figures. I recant my “armchair” analysis. This is why I am not an accountant and pay almost 35% of my money in taxes.

    martymankins´s last blog post..Scooter Sunday #27

  21. Ren says:

    Marty, glad to help with the links. I’m not sure that everyone paying the same percentage ends up being fair, either, as I think most would agree that those with very little *should* pay a lower percent. Obviously not everyone agrees with that as some people do seem to want a true flat tax, but my “armchair” analysis is that most people think there should at least be some sort of allowance for standard of living or poverty or something.

    For a while now, I’ve been in favor of the Fair Tax (national sales tax), which includes a poverty-level credit for everyone. More recently, though, Warren Buffet has gotten me reconsidering my position that saving and investment should be tax advantaged (which they are now, and greatly more so under the Fair Tax). Now I’m no longer clear on how I think the tax system should be structured. The only think I am clear on is that the government spends way too much money. I think balanced budget legislation is way more important than arguing about who should get tax cuts and who should get tax hikes, but I’m not holding my breath….

    Oh, there is one other aspect of this issue I’m still pretty clear on — corporations don’t pay taxes, only people pay taxes. So raising corporate taxes, or creating windfall profit taxes against corporations, just hides the additional taxes that are still paid by the people through higher prices. Either that, or the corporations find ways to avoid the taxes in the first place, which often includes relocating to a state (or country) with more favorable tax treatment.

    Ren´s last blog post..My favorite iPhone apps

  22. whall says:

    marilyn, may I quote Obama and say “I think we can disagree without being disagreeable.” 🙂 I respect your opinion, and welcome counterpoints to mine.

    That said, my post was about the media bias. However, your comment was about the emotional aspect of wealth redistribution or progressive taxation. Much like the media redirected folks’ attention as an attack on Joe the Plumber about his licensing status, whether or not “Joe” was his name, or if he owed back taxes, you are concentrating on whether or not it’s fair that the rich pay higher taxes.

    I agree with the very poor paying lower (or even no) taxes. This is why I’m for the Fair Tax. I agree with helping the disabled. I agree with assisting those who cannot assist themselves. I agree that in the past, minorities and women have not been given the same opportunities as the white man.

    I do not agree, however, that “you’re lucky to eat, no matter how hard you work toward it” if you make less than $20K. America is about freedom and choice. There’s always a way to eat. There are always difference choices to make. There is always an opportunity. One can choose to live somewhere else less expensive, work somewhere else, learn a new skill, get another job, and have less expensive habits. One can choose to smoke cigarettes, eat expensive food, max out credit cards, get a cell phone, buy a car, and buy a house too expensive for them with a ballooning APR. One can choose to disagree with it’s government and not be shot for it. America is great for that one. One can even choose to be homeless!

    Choices come with consequences. And what I see is the government taking away consequences for the choices people make and redirecting those consequences to others. I do not believe people are guaranteed life, liberty and happiness… but I do believe they are guaranteed life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

    I love giving. I believe in giving. And the government takes away my ability to give by withholding more money from my paycheck to give in ways I vehemently disagree with. They have stolen my ability to give as much as I want.

    And with respect to not seeing eye to eye on “the gov’t is stealing the hard earned money of a few to give to the many”, Ren pointed out that 3% of the earners pay 49% of the entire US tax revenue. I think that’s fair enough already.

    The answer is to reduce government spending while increasing assistance to those who need it… so they may help themselves as soon as possible. If someone gets something from the government, they need to give back. If they can work, they need to work. If they have kids, then those kids MUST be in school. If the kids aren’t in school, then the family doesn’t get welfare. Even if all they did was wash a taxpayer’s car, that’d help the taxpayer out.

    I still feel like I’m coming off as some snobbish elitist fatcat. I hope I’m not.

    Sybil Law, I thought the Palin pick was GREAT. It’s the pick of McCain that I disagreed with – he’s way too spendy for me. I thought we’d be better off with a more conservative pick and then McCain for VP, but Palin rounds out McCain nicely. Besides, she has more executive experience than the other 3 combined! If you recall, McCain’s presidential bid was all but dead until Democrats crossed the aisle in the primaries and pushed him back up (much like, but less than, the Texan Republicans who crossed the line to nominate Hillary in an attempt to oust Obama).

    Janna,
    and I will defend with my life your right to agree with Marilyn.

    Dave2, You, my friend, need a new plumber. Have you accepted Obama
    into your life?

    Faiqa, You make an excellent point about the bad daily habits combined with complaining about economy. And you make an even excellenter point about people thinking one man, office, or even 545 people “make or break” America.

    Re: middle name… You think you have it bad. My middle name is Wayne. Do you know how many death row inmates and news stories there are about a killer with a middle name Wayne?

    Andy Bailey, thanx for stopping by! Would you like to buy a tin foil hat?

    martymankins, do you really think Bush lied about a war? to me, that’s another example of media bias. Did you know about his push to increase spending on S-CHIP?

    Regarding the Obama < $200K no tax increase promise, I still don't believe it. With the corporate, business, capital gains, FICA and other taxes going up, all businesses will be paying more money in taxes. This will likely mean lower benefits, lower pay, and fewer workers. Fewer workers means less tax revenue to the government. Fewer in the workforce means more depending on the government (since evidently people are incapable of taking care of themselves anymore) Increasing taxes ALWAYS reduces tax revenue. Decreases taxes ALWAYS increases tax revenue. Ren, good comment with good info. I wanted to graph out those numbers but was spending too much time on it so gave up.

    Sheila, Welcome to the blog of whall! I had not heard of this Barney of which you speak – maybe he was plastered all over CNN, MSN, ABC, etc and I missed it. I did, however, only hear of Barney Frank’s “live-in relationship with Fannie May executive Herb Moses while Frank was on the House Banking Committee.”

    Talk about bias. I only heard about this on Newsmax and Fox News. Can anyone tell me this isn’t blatant biased news media coverage?

    Moses was Fannie Mae’s assistant director for product initiatives from 1991 to 1998.

    He was also openly gay Frank’s live-in boyfriend during that time, while the Massachusetts lawmaker was on the committee that had jurisdiction over government-sponsored Fannie Mae, Fox News’ Bill Sammon reported.

    Sandi, very good point – someone could do a news story on something incredibly inane and off-topic, but the bias put into the headline changes someone’s mind. Ridiculous.

    martymankins #2, seems we agree on one thing – everyone paying the same percentage. And I’ll go one further – everyone should include illegal immigrants, drug dealers, and criminals who evade taxes.

    Ren #2, oh great. Now I gotta go research ANOTHER tax idea. How about I just wait until you’ve analyzed it and you tell me what’s good/bad about it so I can take it easy?

  23. Ren says:

    I want to clarify that I am not saying that there is a problem with the top 3% paying 49% of the taxes, and for full disclosure, they also account for 37% of the total AGI. Also, this is just income tax and does not include social security tax, which is regressive (because it maxes out at a certain level). I’m just saying that making taxes fair is more difficult than it seems. It’s an issue I’ve been thinking about for some time and I have yet to come up with something satisfying.

    Ren´s last blog post..My favorite iPhone apps

  24. martymankins says:

    whall… are you ever wrong? Why should I have doubted you? Of course you are right… Bush didn’t lie about the war. I mistated that. The actual quote was:
    – “The situation in Iraq is unacceptable to the American people — and it is unacceptable to me … Where mistakes have been made, the responsibility rests with me.” – George W. Bush, Jan. 10, 2007

    re: drug dealers paying taxes… So much for my coke dealer having any more weekly specials… 😉

    At least now we have flat tax to add to our shared love of Steely Dan.

    Ren… http://www.fairtax.net/8.htm.
    With all of you smart and educated tax people out here (you are a tax guy, aren’t you?), I’m either feeling really stupid or a bit more educated. I do know that the current tax plan is very complicated…. or can that be refuted with a link that I need to read?

    martymankins´s last blog post..Scooter Sunday #27

  25. Ren says:

    Marty, I agree with what that link says so I’m not sure if you were just sharing it so I’d have it as a reference for the future (which is great) or for some other reason?

    Certainly the current tax plan is *way* too complicated, no need to refute that! Oh, and I’m not a “tax guy”, just more familiar with some areas of our tax code than average (such as the wonky bit about what happens when you sell discounted employee stock for a profit that is less than the discount you received, within two years of acquiring it).

    Also, regarding Bush lying about the war — when I researched this several years ago, I couldn’t find an actual lie. I have a vague memory of some sort of reference to there being a 90% chance they would find WMDs — but that wasn’t even necessarily wrong, as that would still allow for a 10% chance that they wouldn’t find them. (Wayne will probably reply about how they *did* find WMDs, which is a whole separate issue.) It seems the most oft-cited “lie” is refuted, at least for the most part, by factcheck.org at http://www.factcheck.org/bushs_16_words_on_iraq_uranium.html

    Note that taking advantage of public sentiment and misunderstanding could be argued to be an act of dishonesty, but it isn’t a lie. Or is that too fine a point? 🙂

    Ren´s last blog post..My favorite iPhone apps

  26. martymankins says:

    Ren… see, I really thought you were in the tax business. Thanks for the clarification.

    The 90/10 rule about WMDs can also be applied to many things deemed as an act of dishonesty and not deemed an actual lie. I’ve been guilty of that at times during my lifetime. To be honest, I’ve always thought that it the same as telling a lie, even partially. Take for example something from many years ago, when I first started in IT, my boss asked me if I knew how to install a NetWare server. I told him yes, when in fact, I’d never installed an actual server, only watched someone else install it. For me, my job depended on it. Did I lie to him? I think so, but I guess I could also say that I was dishonest with him. I did learn on the job, but at the expense of company time I was paid to learn something they thought I already knew.

    I really am not trying to argue, but trying to make a point. It seems that since the person never uttered the words “I lied” then it can be called something else, like being dishonest… almost like it’s more acceptable than a lie. For me personally, I see both words describing the situation as “I wasn’t telling the truth”

    As for the tax details, the biggest and most confusing thing I’ve had to deal with was family related when my mom passed away. Trying to find forms and other details to file my mom’s final tax return was way more complicated that I wanted to deal with.

    martymankins´s last blog post..Scooter Sunday #27

  27. Mike says:

    For those that see nothing wrong with a little redistribution of wealth, I offer a few thoughts. B.O. has defined ‘rich’ with an arbitrary amount of $250k. He feels that a proportional amount of all income that exceeds this number is subject to government confiscation and, at least for now, intends to then “spread the wealth around” to those in the United States who don’t have as much.

    It was mentioned in an earlier comment that there are those that earn $20k/yr and struggle to eat. I agree. However, there are those throughout the world who could live like kings and queens with $20k/yr.

    B.O., as he states, is here to change the world, not just the United States. I believe that he has a more ambitious socioeconomic experiment in mind. Since $250k is a made-up number, why can’t it be lowered to $100K? …or $50k? …or even $20k? When more money is being collected, then more money can be redistributed to more people around the world. After all, we are the ‘wealthy’ nation compared to the rest…it is only fair that we share, right? It is the same premise.

    We are about to travel on a very dangerous road that will be paved with the misery and defeated spirit of a once great nation. Our destination? Only our soon-to-be elected Pied Piper knows…

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