Plausible Deniability

The President has put out a list that presents specific amounts of financial cuts in a state by state list that shows exactly the damage that sequestration will wreak on them.  Being from New York, and being the curious type, I decided to read exactly what kind of effect the state can expect to feel when the shit hits the fan come Friday.

According to the President, New York alone can expect to see over 42 million dollars in cuts to primary and secondary education funding.  That would put 590 teachers and teachers aides jobs at risk.  There is even more daunting news as far as education is concerned.   Enough funding will be lost to to cut several hundred teachers job for kids with disabilities.  Which means, bluntly stated, that if your kid has autism or some other disability, you or someone just like you will be shit out of luck.

Click here for links

But the fun doesn’t stop there, ladies and gentlemen.  No sirree bob it does not.  12,000 civilian DoD employees would be furloughed; and the total amount of cuts to military base funding?  One hundred and eight million dollars just for this year.

The stop violence against women program would lose the capacity to assist over 1,500 women.

Want help from Workforce one?  Good luck.  Funding for them gets cut drastically enough to effect over 45,000 job seekers.  That’s 45,000 people who wont get the help they need finding work so they can stand up on their own two feet.

Fun, huh?

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So, with the President basically telling the entire nation that IT is about to hit the fan and that everyone is gonna feel it, how do the house republicans respond?  By planning on giving the President greater discretion on where to cut.

Just amazing the chutzpah of these bastards. Rather than lightening the load, putting forth something that might actually do something for the people affected, they’re basically saying “Cut where you like Mr President, we’re washing our hands of the entire thing.” Note that it doesn’t say the amount cut will shrink. Nope.  They don’t want that.  Lazy America hating conservative bastards.

It gives them an out, a way for them to say”We gave him the budget ax! He did the cutting! See!  It wasn’t us!” or more accurately put gives them a level of plausible deniability that they can take back to their constituents.  And then call it the Obamaquester, a stupid name if I’ve ever heard one.  But the only problem is that it is not  plausible on any level.

Sure as hell not in mine, or anyone else who knows what exactly is going on here.  This is a cheap ploy from lazy conservatives trying to make it look like they are doing something while doing nothing.

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The aims of both sides here are simple, at least as far as I can tell.  The Republicans want the sequester to look like it’s no big deal, something we can handle easily and whatever is a big deal gets blamed on the President.  The Democrats is to make the sequester look like hell on earth, and everything is to be blamed on the Republicans.

So rather than actually do something here, we see them play politics with our money that we pay into our system for our benefit, and risk it all in the name of partisanship.  On top of damaging the country, this makes a mockery of “We The People” by putting partisan politics ahead of prosperity and our future.

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My advice?  We can’t do anything about what these people do, so let’s just watch it happen.  I for one plan to be in front of a television on Thursday night, watching c-span as the whole thing either goes to pieces, or gets temporarily fixed and basically put off for another day, when we can do all over again!

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225 Years Ago Today

Pic of the day:  The Constitution of the United States of America.

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In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faults, — if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people, if well administered; and I believe, farther, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.

Benjamin Franklin, Speech to the Constitutional convention, June 28th, 1787

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225 years ago today was the scheduled first day of the Constitutional convention in 1787.  They could not begin this day, unfortunately.  Inclement weather kept a great many of the delegates away early on, and it was not until the 25th of May 225 years ago that a quorum was actually present and the delegates could actually begin to debate the birth of a new government of the United States of America.

But they were scheduled to start today, and several members did in fact make it there for the first day’s proceedings.  James Madison, while waiting for the rest of the delegations to arrive drafted a plan which called for 2 separate houses of congress, according to population,  which gave most of the power to the larger states.  This was not, of course, received well by states with smaller populations, Like Georgia, Rhode Island, Delaware and New Hampshire.

Neither side budged.  William Patterson of New Jersey came up with an alternative plan, that had congress as a one house congress, with one vote for each state, with powers granted on top of the ones that existed in the Articles of Confederation. It took a blending of the two plans by two members of the Connecticut delegation to create a compromise that was at least somewhat appealing.

Though even that was not enough to get the plan through.  It took Benjamin Franklin adding to it that the lower house would originate revenue bills, and that the upper body would not vote as instructed by the states that sent them as representatives.

More on the Constitution as I see fit.  With this being the 225th anniversary of the convention, there will be ample opportunity to dissect the document, it’s good and bad points in fine detail.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Semi-Wonk

Before I get rolling tonight, a viddy.  Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner Address the 112th congress. 

I watched the above, and a fair bit more of the beginning of the 112th congress opening day in the House of Representatives.  I also watched some of the opening of the Senate, but not nearly as much.  I watched the very beginning of the house proceedings, when, in noisy disarray the house was called to order, by the clerk of the 111th congress, who fulfilled her final duty for that congress by calling the 112th congress to order to begin the process of taking their oaths of office and voting for Speaker of the House.

For Mike the wannabe policy wonk, it was a boatload of fun.  I even saw my representative, Mike Grimm (i didn’t vote for him, but, like it or not he represents my district) on the boob tube for a minute.  Talking presumably to some older member of the Republican caucus.  I didn’t recognize the old man. 

The vote for Speaker was fun to watch.  After the nominations, the voting began without much fanfare.  I thought that when it came to John Boehner’s turn to vote, there was no answer.  But apparently he did, he was either vewy vewy quiet (hunting wabbits?) or he voted through a proxy, or some such. Couldn’t tell. 

There was a vote tally on the screen during the vote.  I knew , everyone knew Nancy had no chance to win,  and John Boehner had it in the bag, but it was still fun to watch.  It was fun to guess who was going to vote for who.

There were eleven democratic votes for Heath Shuler, leader of what is left of the Blue dogs. A few individual votes went to a few other members of the house. Steny Hoyer got one.  Reps. Cardoza and Costa voted each other. John Lewis got 2 votes.   There were a few others, 19 total didn’t vote for former speaker and current minority leader Pelosi.

Most of the Dems who lost in the November election, who would have made a more powerful force of Heath Shuler in his bid for speaker, were members of the once mighty blue dog coalition.  He would have had more votes, but the people he speaks to on an ideological level, in most of the country, voted Republican. 

The speeches were speeches, filled with cute words that truly mean little, like they always do at the beginning of each new congress.  Big words, big rhetoric, big propaganda, of no real consequence, regardless of who speaks them. 

Loved the bit with Speaker Boehner and the oversized gavel.  I watched that thinking two things.  One: that looks like the gavel that was given to Newt Gingrich in 1994, which as I recall was also a bit oversized.  Two:  Is this the Republicans overcompensating for a lack elsewhere in their lives? Maybe that lack is why John of Orange, Speaker Ooompa Loompa, Weeper of the house, whatever you want to call him, cries so damned much. 

😛

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 Viddy of the day, Part II:  Swearing in Ceremony of Sens. John McCain, Barbara Mikulski, Jerry Moran, and Lisa Murkowski, along with the Ceremonial swearing in of Sen. Jerry Moran, Republican from Kansas, in the old senate. 

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The fun, in earnest begins in the house beginning Friday, when the debate begins on the repeal of the affordable health care bill.  I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, this vote is essentially meaningless, except as a symbol.  A symbol representing the Republicans inability to allow health care  for Americans to be less expensive and more complete, and have an America that saves money on health care under a Democratic president.

Of course they reword it, use words like “death panel” to scare people who are ignorant of the reality of the bill, use terms like “job killing health care bill” and “Obamacare” to create an Orwellian atmosphere of fear around our President, the Democrats, and by proxy, anything from the left, to create an aura of distrust by controlling the language of the debate.

There is a way around such tactics.  Forcefully, with strength and pride, stand against those who pass on the lies that are tossed at the strong left wing of American politics, and challenge them to prove their statements.  I remember when Betsy McCaughey was first nailed in public about the lies she passed off, her fake death panels.  She disappeared.  Hasn’t been heard from since.

The Affordable health care repeal by the tea party conservatives is doomed to fail. Fine by me.  Use all the symbols you want to, Right wing America.  Symbols don’t get the job done, it’s cute to think  it could, but it’s wrong.

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A quick aside:

There IS a death panel here in America, a real death panel.  Created by the right.  By Jan Brewer, Governor of Arizona.  Jan, your right wing tea is killing people, very real people.  No fake “WTF Chuck” Grassley death panels coming to kill Grandma.  REAL death panels killing those who cannot save themselves, because money is more important to Jan Brewer and her right wing compatriots than human life is. 

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Mr. and Mrs. America, I am calling it a night, go do things.  I’ll write to you tomorrow.

The Quick Look At The 112th

A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, “We did this ourselves.”

Lao Tzu,  Tao Te Ching

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Talk is that during the 112th congress, the President will have to play defense a lot, will be forced to do much hard work to keep his signature  legislation from being dismantled by a congress hellbent on terminating health care, stock market regulation, and to cut discretionary spending, in order to weaken him and defund his education and energy initiatives, among other things. 

I see it a little differently, not a lot, a little.  Most of that statement does stand up to scrutiny.  The attempts to defund his initiatives?  Count on it.  Will it work?  We’ll see what the Republican controlled house can do.  I honestly don’t know that they will be that powerful.  Two things would hold them back. 

Presidential veto power and the fine art of compromise.  If the Republican controlled house tries stand alone initiatives to stifle the President’s agenda, they’ll be crushed, vetoed if it even gets past the senate, and they know it.  They will try to attach any Democratic agenda killing initiatives to larger legislation, in order to make the President pay a steep price for keeping his legislative agenda intact.

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Viddy of the day:  Congressman Kucinich discusses the next Congress on MSNBC with Ceng Uyger.  Denny is a helluva good guy, Like his points here.  Good stuff.  If we listen to Rep. Kucinich, we would go far in the world.  The man stands up and states the liberal agenda eloquently, and in such a way as is easily agreeable. America could use more of that.

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Nothing there no one doesn’t already know.  But the President will compromise as best as possible to do for America what he thinks needs to be done, while doing just as much, or as little, as he can to placate the regressive conservative agenda.  But seeing how most of the differences between the Democrats and Republicans, when it boils down, is usually a matter of degrees, or more accurately a matter of a few percent in the budget, it should not be that much of a real fight.

The Polititainers, the O’Reilly’s and Matthews’ of the world, will have a field day with every minute victory and defeat the Obama administration lives through, but as for real qualitative effect on actual policy will be smaller than the press will let on.  If they can’t have a great story, they will make one. 

Again, nothing people don’t already know.  Perhaps the biggest unknown at this point will be what kind of player Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California will be in the Republican controlled house.  I know very little of him, and I know a fair bit about the ongoing actions of the house. What I do know about him is that he is a relatively new player in the house, having only been around since 2007.  John Boehner trusts this man, or at the very least likes him, seeing how he was placed, as a freshman in 2008, on the Republican steering committee.

I’m interested to see him in action,  I expect to see a lot of him in the next few months.  Expect to read about it here.

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That’s it from here, America.  I’ve sent out another resume, but only one, and one isn’t enough.  I must away to seek proper employment. G’night!

Winter, Death and Compromise

Winter is here. 

The ice in the air is strong, the winds are beyond brisk, and every breath visible to the naked eye.  Just like it is supposed to be.  The cold is supposed to be strong, cold is not weak, and is not for the weak.  The cold is nature reminding us that all things, like the beauty of long spring days, the ripening crops of summer, and the beautiful colors of the leaves in autumn, come to an end.  The howl of the cold wind is the voice of mother nature, reminding us that she is a stern master, strong and unforgiving, because she can be.

But even within that howl, the bark of  frozen winds that bite and sting, there is true beauty.   The ice holding onto tree branches and the snow on the grasses and lanes hold a deep and abiding elegance.  The long, dark nights are the mirror that shows the austere and exquisite soul of the world.

Winter is here.  Joy to the world!

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Richard Holbrooke is dead. He died earlier this evening after suffering a rupture to his aorta and going through 20 hours of surgery to repair it on Saturday.  He was 69 years of age.  No commentary necessary.  When great men die, the tale is told not by others, but by their actions.  The Dayton agreement signed in 1995 in Paris speaks more precisely the greatness and strength of this man than any words I can write. 

Viddy of the Day:  an interview with Richard Holbrooke, by Rachel Maddow, from June this year.

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The controlled chaos is one way to get creativity. The intensity of it, the physical rush, the intimacy created the kind of dialogue that leads to synergy … The U.N. by contrast is sterile, overly concerned with protocol, overly formal, filled with set-piece speeches. This is what the U.N. in theory is supposed to be but can’t.

Richard Holbrooke

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A thought on the tax cut compromise.

The tax cut test vote has gotten through the Senate, cloture has been bypassed.  83-15.  But that doesn’t mean it will pass, it has to go back to the House of Representatives, where a number of extremely vocal Democrats are very much opposed to the tax deal.  They could possibly broker a better deal.  That doesn’t mean it would pass the Senate upon it’s return, which it would have to do in order to get to the President for signing.

Doing that would put the brakes on several pieces of important legislation that are pending in the Senate. A great deal beyond the tax cuts are at stake here.

Losing here is not something the President wants to be seen doing.  The Republicans would eat him for lunch if he lets this fall through.  The right wing media machine would love hanging President Obama for increasing taxes. 

If this falls through, the next congress, a more Republican congress than anything in the last 4 years, will understand that it must do something in order to keep things functioning. They will pass it, The President, the Republican house, and weakened Democratic Senate will pass a tax cut, one more pleasing to the right than this one, and the Republicans will take credit.  And the right wing propaganda machine being what it is, that message will stick.

Dems lose, America loses, Republicans who don’t know how to create jobs would win.

Do we really want that? To put that kind of power in the hands of those on the other side of the political fence, the defenders of the wealthy?  Do we really want to give them additional ammunition? Dammit, I hate the the upper class tax cut, but the price of a $900,000,000,000 increase in the deficit seems to be, curiously, a politically feasible concept.  Economically?  No, but politically this actually works.  Because not passing this ugly, stupid billionaire tax cut has a greater political cost than passing it.

Dammit, that sucks.

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That’s it for tonight, America.  Have a good one.

An Important Vote

For my part I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable.

John Maynard Keynes, The end of laissez-faire (1926)

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Viddy of the day, a short talk by Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, talking about the Ohio angle on Wall street reform, job creation and the Disclose act.

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For all the news out today about the wikileaks documents, I figure that the rest of the world has an eye on that, I’ll hit another subject tonight.  Tonight’s article is about the election campaign reform bill known as the disclose act, which will be voted on by the senate tomorrow. 

This looks, on it’s face like the Democrats are trying, and successfully at that, to tar the Republicans as being pro-special interest money.  Because standing against this bill essentially means that the Republicans are against reforming the negative big corporation impact on elections in a positive manner.  And what it looks like now is that the big money interests in the GOP are more interested in keeping the spigots open and pouring into everyone’s pockets, rather than cleaning up the mess that corporate interests insert into the legislative process.

Why do I say it looks like that? Well it is expected that the Democrats will not have the votes necessary to get this past a cloture vote, meaning this bill will in all likelihood face yet another filibuster by the Party of HELL NO WE DON’T CARE ABOUT ANYTHING BUT THE REPUBLICAN AGENDA.  I have heard no word on the three senators who would be most likely to vote for a democratic measure, Sens. Snowe, Collins and Brown, of Maine and Massachusetts, respectively. One presumes that no word here mean no vote for this bill from them tomorrow.

Mind you, the bill itself is not perfect.  The Kucinich amendment has been stripped out, and the NRA gets a special exemption.  The  Kucinich amendment would bar companies that drill off the continental shelf from engaging in political activity.  One would think that would have some traction, seeing how that would preclude BP and their ilk from getting in the political process. But it was tossed in the name of political expediency, i.e., the Republicans would not go for that in any way shape or form, and the author of the senate version of this bill, Sen. Schumer of New York knows this.  Chuck isn’t stupid, and if that one amendment guarantees no Republican will support the bill, then it becomes, at least at this stage of the legislation, politically untenable.  You have to do what you can to get a bill on the floor that both sides will have some interest in, and that is why the kucinich amendment dies before it gets a chance. 

Maybe in conference if we get lucky and this thing passes, we’ll see it again. 

BTW, the resistance to this bill comes with the usual foreboding lies from the republicans, this time they claims what is at stake here are YOUR first amendment rights.   Bullshit.  Like YOU have billions of dollars to throw around, and YOU are the one who won’t be able to give tens of millions of dollars to sway the minds of Senators, Representatives and the general public to do things YOU want done. 

Silliness.  Those who are trying to instill this false fear of loss of first amendment rights into you want you to defend the right of conglomerates to control political messaging.

To read about the bill, find out for yourself, and also to read the actual bill itself, click here.

The vote is expected at 2:45 pm Tuesday.  To watch it on c-span2, click here to watch

If, as expected, the Disclose act does not get past cloture, the Lemiuex-Landrieu amendment, a bipartisan amendment that creates a program that provides small banks with incentives to lend to small businesses, will continue to be discussed on the senate floor.

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The introduction of a substantial Government transfer tax on all transactions might prove the most serviceable reform available,with a view to mitigating the predominance of speculation in the United States.

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Thus public works even of doubtful utility may pay for themselves over and over again at a time of severe unemployment, if only from the diminished cost of relief expenditure.

John Maynard Keynes, The general theory of employment interest and money 

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That’s about it America.  Hope your Monday was great, I’ll write you again tomorrow.

More Could Be Said

Iniquum est conlapsis manum non porrigere; commune hoc ius generis humani est.

It is wrong not to give a hand to the fallen. This right is common to the whole human race.

Seneca The Elder

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For those who pay attention to these things, I added a widget to the sidebar here on The Rhino Report, it’s for a thing called socialvibe, and it helps raise money for a variety of different charities, and the one I chose is the leukemia and lymphoma society.  I know all you rhino heads out there are more than willing to click the lil widget and help people in need, and if you could find it in your heart to donate, well, that would be about the best thing you could do for these kind people.  Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Wednesday’s Linko’rama: 

Mitch McConnell gets negative marks with voters back home in Kentucky

Americans relying on an unemployment extension abandoned

NRA on firing line over Harry Reid

2010 Congressional schedule

Socialvibe
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I have been reading a few things on-line about the unemployment extension that won’t get voted on until at least the middle of July.  Part of the issue is the fact that the senate has off this week and could not get the damn deal done before they went on their 4th of July recess.  For that you can blame the Republicans, they are very much against helping the American people out of this crisis they find themselves in.  But there are those who are unhappy about the recess itself. 

I have known, pretty much all year, that the senate had this time off.  The republicans in the senate knew it, the democrats in the senate knew it, the reporters who report about it knew it, it is public record that they were taking this week off.  The senate should have maybe made a schedule change and stayed an extra day or two, or seven, or enough days until they got this thing through, AND THEN taken a week off.

It would have been nice, after all they did make their staff stay almost until Christmas day last year so they could get health care done.  It would have shown a great deal of heart on the part of the Democrats in the Senate to force the issue and make everyone stay put until there was a deal done. 

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Viddy of the day:  Harry Reid talking about his love of guns and family, along with the E.V.P. of the NRA at the opening of a shooting park in Clark county, Nevada.  Who says Dems don’t like guns?

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Now to be honest I don’t blame Sen. Reid for wanting the  scheduled week off.  The man has to fight a hellacious campaign against a hellacious asshole, that dime store putz Sharron Angle, hater of all things American, who is only really competitive because people are angry because life sucks in America, because the economy is a mess, and has been since 2007.  He has to get his boots on the ground in Nevada to fight this idiot and her propaganda.  But it would have, I think, done him a great service to have this fight and have it as public as possible during time the Senate is supposed to have off.

And i understand that until they get that West Virginia senator appointed that they can’t win.  That doesn’t matter, to make the fight public, to say WE WILL STAY AND FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT UNTIL IT IS FINISHED, and force the Republicans to miss their pig roasts with their billionaire wall street owners friends, until the time of the appointment of the new Senator from W. Va., would have been a publicity master stroke.

But what’s done is done, and we will still have this fight, and it will still be public.  It does, however, leave tons of citizens who are in serious need of help out on their asses and flat broke until it is done.  That is something the democrats could have taken advantage of.  A missed opportunity.

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A short story;

I saw a little bird today, a fledgling.  It had fallen out of it’s tree, poor little fella looked helpless.  It being a hot day, and the sun beating down, I was concerned for the little one.  But I went on my way. Not knowing what to do for it, I left it alone to go on my run. 

I felt kind of bad about that, though, gotta be honest with ya there.  So when I finished my run, I came back the same way, looking for the little bird, determined to help in any way I could.  And he was still there, he had moved somewhat, but he was still there, and he was at least bright enough to stay in the shade.

I went to pick him up to put him in a nearby tree.  He ran, and tried, unsuccessfully, to fly away.  This gave me pause.  Then another bird came by and started to squawk loudly, while looking at me, and the little guy. It was there protecting the little one from me.  Seeing that,  I walked away. 

If I had put him in the tree, he might have fallen back out,  maybe gotten hurt, or worse.  Not what I was trying to accomplish.    So I stopped trying to save the little guy, and let him fend for himself, with his protector by his side.  He didn’t want to be saved, but I felt like I had to try, at least once.

I walked home. 

More could be said, but that would be overkill.

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Lady Presenter: Well, that’s the end of the film. Now, here’s the meaning of life.
[She is handed a gold-wrapped booklet.]
Lady Presenter: Thank you, Brigitte.
[She clears her throat, then unwraps and examines the gilt booklet.]
Lady Presenter: Well, it’s nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.

Monty Python; The Meaning of Life

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Have a good one, America!