Don’t Build The Wall

If you were conscious on any level and existed on planet earth for the last two years, you’ve likely heard the cry BUILD THE WALL! or something similar countless times. The call for a wall between the United States and Mexico. To keep drug dealers and murderers out of our fine land and to keep people from living here illegally, among a great many other reasons.

Now if that were all there were to it, yes. Build the wall. If it keeps America safe from external threats, yes, keep us safe.  But there are a great many other thoughts and considerations that go into such an endeavor.

The first one being what is already there.

What’s there is a mess that doesn’t look like it can be cleaned up with a wall. The answer sounds far too simple for such a complex subject.

The nearly two thousand mile long border has many types of terrain and exists in a  great many places.  There are currently hundreds of miles of wall that exists in many places along the border. In some of those places that works. But not in all. In some places the fencing that exists is insufficient, some of it low enough to be scaled by people who want to cross the border. But part of the problem is also that there are spots where surveillance is insufficient, and that is the real problem. Because not only do illegal aliens make it across in those spots, but people die crossing the border to get here. Sometimes Americans on this side of the border get killed, sometimes those crossing die.

It is a humanitarian crisis for everyone involved. Has been for years. We as a nation have tried to fix things by building fencing and walls, stringent sentencing for people caught without papers more than once. That has added to the misery without doing much of anything for those who live on either side of the fence. Drugs still get across, people still get across, and good and bad, people die. Want is the real issue.

A fence or a wall is something that can be gotten around, over under or through. There is something to be said for desire. People who want to get here will get here regardless of wall or fence or enforcement. The fact that people die at the rate they do crossing (numbers I have seen run as high as an average of 200-250 people die per year crossing the border) speaks to the tenacity of those who are crossing to get here. It is impossible to stop people from doing what they want if there is even a hair of a chance of success.

There are other things to consider as well.

Money, for one thing. Do you know how much it costs to build and maintain a wall, even a fence that large and long? Billions. Billions we don’t have. President-elect Trump has already promised to slash the tax base that gives us the money to pay for things we need, like a military, which already costs us over half a trillion dollars annually. Adding this wall, along with the money it will cost to maintain it, build it, and surveil the fence so that no one gets across, is something we simply do not have the money to do. The price tag is steep. As high as sixteen million dollars per mile for building and upkeep of the fence in places, with the cheapest estimate being somewhere around $6,000,000 per mile, with higher estimates sitting at over $10,000,000.

Per mile.

For the entire one thousand nine hundred fifty four mile stretch of border

Oh and a mass deportation bill that goes along with it will run well over a hundred billion dollars.

There is no way that this is a feasible plan. None. You would create a humanitarian crisis greater than the one that exists and bankrupt us to boot by building it.  No American in their right mind could possibly want that.

Not one who cares about America. Or humanity. There is a reason that people along the border by and large disagree with the idea of a wall.  They see the effect on people on both sides of the fence. They don’t want criminals coming into America, they don’t want to live in fear, but at the same time they don’t want a humanitarian crisis happening on their doorstep either. Building a wall won’t make the crisis go away, won’t keep people who want to get in out, and won’t make us safer as a nation.

Click the word Links at the top of the page, or here, for links to stories this piece is based upon.

And How do you Plan to Pay for That, Sir?

If you know anything about finances, there are a few basics that must be paid attention to. Among the most important is a very simple concept: Don’t spend more than you make.  Now when you have a bureaucracy as huge as the United States government, that is an amazingly difficult thing to do on the best of days.

When you spend more than you make, that is called deficit spending, it creates debt.  The Obama administration was somewhat successful in fighting the deficit. He inherited an economy that was hemorrhaging cash and jobs at a rate that was as alarming as it was dangerous.

It took some serious work, but he, along with the OMB, Ben Bernanke (Who also bears some responsibility FOR the Financial crisis of 2007-08) and legislation (Frank-Dodd and in particular the Volcker rule, among other pieces of legislation) that successfully regulated the shadow banking system (It’s not that shadowy, but the subject will get additional scrutiny in future) managed to stop the bleeding.

But with a price that will be paid for in future. The deficit will rise again later. It cannot be helped. It is a ripple effect of the amount of damage that the unregulated economy did back in 2007-08, and the trillions of dollars that bled out of the system. The Obama administration has done all they could to mitigate that, with some success.

The deficit, year on year has dropped every year he has been in office, and thanks to the efforts of everyone in and around the economy, the deficit over the next ten years will never go, if things stay on track, over 4%. Not great, but given the circumstances, not too shabby.

Enter Donald Trump.

His plan is to cut taxes, increase the size of the military, spend billions on infrastructure.

And build a wall.

Let me explain something here about this.  Cutting taxes feels good. No one likes paying taxes, especially if they don’t like government programs that pay for things people don’t like, like ANYTHING  they think of as being wasteful or going to people who don’t deserve it. Both laughable concepts, but people think these things and they must be taken into account. So yeah, lower taxes puts more money in your pocket today so you can do more today.

But it increases the bill for later. Decreasing the taxes the government needs to pay for things while increasing government services, like border security and a larger armed forces will do nothing more than make the next financial crisis, and there will be one, count on that, that much worse.

Check the Links section for the pertinent information.

I would love nothing more than to have something that approaches a secure financial future. That future was nearly terminated by unregulated excess and improper financial decisions both in the private and public sectors, in particular by  Hank Paulson, Christopher Cox, and George W. Bush. The Obama Administration did much to ameliorate the situation, but it seems that we are headed back to the same place we were at before the Democrats came in and saved the nations bacon.

Republican decision making nearly threw it, and us with it, into a fire,  and thanks to Donald Trump and out of control spending and thoughtless tax cuts seemingly will send the economy reeling back into that same economic death spiral. Trump and his plan are darkening a future that was, while not bright, clearly not as dark as it is with Republicans back in fiscal control of the nation.

Expect inflation, deficit spending, and the debt to skyrocket over the next two years. So much for a secure financial future.

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Quote of the day: I was aware that the loosening of mortgage credit terms for subprime borrowers increased financial risk. But I believed then, as now, that the benefits of broadened home ownership are worth the risk. ~Alan Greenspan, September 2007

The Story on Sequestration

Sequestration is originally a legal term for the seizure or confiscation of property to prevent it being disposed of or destroyed before its ownership could be resolved.  The term was altered by the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Balanced Budget act of 1985 to mean automatic spending cuts that kick in if the deficit exceeds a specific dollar amount.

If Sequestration kicks in at the beginning of March the following automatic spending cuts will take place:

A 10.0 percent reduction in non-exempt defense mandatory programs.

A 9.4 percent reduction in non-exempt defense discretionary funding.

An 8.2 percent reduction in non-exempt non-defense discretionary funding.

A 7.6 percent reduction in other non-exempt non-defense mandatory programs.

A 2.0 percent reduction in Medicare funding.

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For links for this story, click here.

I do not know that I am really upset in any fashion about the military side of this sequestration.  Not that sequestration itself is a good thing, but this kind of drastic cutting of defense spending I see as a positive thing.  We spend way too much on our military.  We are now and have for the past decade plus spent far too much for defense of the nation.  We spend 41% of all defense dollars on the planet.  What foe is, and foes are so large as to necessitate that kind of spending?

I see none.  Al-Qaeda, while a foe and a strong one, is not so strong a foe as to make necessary that kind of spending. Neither is North Korea that strong.  Neither is Iran.  No one  is.  So as far as those spending cuts go, I am all for them.

But the sequester doesn’t do just that. If it did I would whole-heartedly support it.

I do not.

The sequester will hurt a great many people by cuts to non military programs and  job cuts in many important government programs.

Sequestration would undermine education in a great many ways, from cutting funding for state grants and after-school programs. And funding for special needs children of all varieties to would suffer as well.  The agriculture departments ability to inspect food would be compromised.  The EPA’s ability to oversee environmental risks both at home and on the job would be compromised.  FEMA would not be able to respond to crises nearly as well due to lack of economic resources. And programs like unemployment and food stamps that protect the poorest of us from abject poverty and starvation would be curtailed as well.  There are a great many other programs affected by the potential sequestration that I have not mentioned.  A great many.

And those cuts would not only be a travesty and a sin, but would greatly impede this nations ability to simply function on a daily basis. The world, expensive as it is to live in, would become even more expensive.

And whom do we have to blame for all of this?

In 2011 we had a rather severe potential economic crisis on our hands. Yes it was completely self-inflicted,  by recalcitrant Republicans that were in the process of holding the economy hostage during the debt ceiling crisis.

You do remember that, right?

That Republicans in the house of representatives were not willing to budge and were willing to let the nations debt go into default, thus abandoning one of their major constitutional duties, unless something were done to curtail spending.  And that was where the concept of sequestration came into being during the Obama administration.  It was a way to get something done that would pass muster in the house.

All 218 Republicans voted for it.  No Democrats voted for it. And there is a reason that happened like that.  Democrats knew that it would hammer the economy and negatively affect millions of Americans.  Republicans didn’t care about that.  All they cared about was cutting spending, they cared not a lick who that would hurt or how much damage it would do to the economy and this nation.

Now the Republicans, seeing that their chickens are coming home to roost, that sequestration is wildly unpopular, are trying their level best to blame the President. And as we know, he really had no other choice when this first came up but to offer up something like this to save the economy.  It was the actions of the Republican controlled house that forced the Presidents hand when the house GOP held the nation hostage with the debt ceiling back in 2011.

But the issues here are not just with what the sequestration can do.  It is the attitude both sides are taking going into negotiations here.  Both sides seem to think that the other side  will be seen as being to blame for whatever happens here, which tells me that both sides will be willing to sit on their hands and simply let this happen.

I hope I am wrong about that.  The amount of damage the sequester will do is far too much for a nation just coming back from the great recession to handle.  It would cause recession 2.0 and I don’t think anyone wants that.  We’ll see if we get what we need, or what they want.

Ten Things To Think About

Pic of the day:   Travelers on a Mountain at Night, by Hiroshige Utagawa

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…If everything is really the fault of politicians, where are all the bright, honest, intelligent Americans who are ready to step in and replace them? Where are these people hiding? The truth is, we don’t have people like that. Everyone’s at the mall, scratching his balls and buying sneakers with lights in them. And complaining about the politicians.

George Carlin, Napalm and Silly Putty

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Ten things to think about, with election day November 6th 2012 quickly coming on the horizon:

1)  Despite all the work the Republicans have put into destroying this nations ability to bring jobs back, President Obama has brought about over 2 solid years of private job growth.

2) He’s made permanent tax cuts for the middle class, saving middle class families thousands of dollars annually.

3)  He saved the auto industry.  The money he put into doing that saved millions of jobs and untold billions of dollars worth of damage that the decimation of the auto industry would have surely brought.

4)  The percentage increase in annual federal spending is the smallest that has existed since the 1950’s.  Bet you didn’t know that.  The 1.4% annual increase in federal spending is 4 times lower than that of Ronald Reagan, and more than 5 times lower than Dubya.

5)  The President ended the debacle that was the war in Iraq, and has put the plan in place to end the war in Afghanistan.

6)  Osama Bin Laden is dead.

7)  Health care costs are going down and health care is improving, thanks to the Affordable health care act.

8 )  Republicans have been working towards voter suppression over the last few years, and has been successful in some places.   Are these the actions of a party that cares about the voting public?

9)  Mitt Romney is saying he will cut taxes by 20% across the board.  Which will decimate the nations abilities to pay its bills, raising the deficit in ways that this President could not and would never do.

10) Mitt  Romney’s tax plan will involve getting rid of  Mortgage deductions, charitable deductions, college tax credits, child tax credits.  Meaning in the name of tax cuts, the average middle class American family will pay about $2,000 more in taxes.  And put more tax liability on low wage earners.

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

A Quick Look At Last Night’s Festivities From the RNC

Pic of the day: Jabberwocky, by John Tenniel

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The charlatan takes very different shapes according to circumstances; but at bottom he is a man who cares nothing about knowledge for its own sake, and only strives to gain the semblance of it that he may use it for his own personal ends, which are always selfish and material.

Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga and Paralipomena

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There is actually much less to grasp a hold of and actually talk about in Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech at the RNC last night than there was in Paul Ryan’s speech the night before. There was simply much less meat in the speech, less actual talk about what he would do.

He did attack the President in a few places, but they were pretty damned weak attacks, I have gone after the President harder than Mitt Romney did last night.

He made a big point of saying that America isn’t better off now than it was 4 years ago. And I can tell you from personal experience that that is a hairy load of bulllshit. 4 years ago the economy was hemorrhaging hundreds of thousands a jobs a month, the stock market was in the shitter, and Oil was at $147 dollars a barrel back then.

Oil is still to damned high, but it is lower in price, as low as the market will allow it to fall. The Job market has not skyrocketed, obviously. But what has happened is that it has stabilized. Is it growing? No. Should it be growing? Maybe. With the amount of shock the American financial system took thanks to the laissez-faire system that the Bush ownership society foisted on us, it is mighty hard for me to imagine things ever really coming back the way they were.

McCain would not have been able to do better. No one could have done more, and with less than President Obama has with the economy, given what he had to work with, and how unwilling the Republicans were to work with him on anything. Never did they come up with a coherent plan to help, just partisan bullshit that was hostile towards the American dream.

For eight years, The Republicans created a new normal like Pinochet created a new normal in Chile when he took over there. Chile was financially much stronger before Pinochet. It was much more vibrant and robust, like America was Pre-Dubya. Pinochet, like Dubya and the Republicans took over and wrecked the place, destroyed the economy and the nation. Difference between Pinochet and the Republicans of the first 8 years of this century in America is that in America they didn’t need to use a military junta to impose their bullshit on the people.

And that in a nutshell is what Romney wants to bring back to America.

Pinochet without all the disappearing people.

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Now some specifics.

Romney says the President’s tax hikes on small business will eliminate jobs. That despite the fact that there have been 18 small business tax cuts, and the bulk of stimulus money went to small businesses. Mitt needs to read up on reality before speaking.

Mitt said that the Presidents assault on coal, oil and gas will send manufacturing jobs oversees. For a reality check, note that during the end of the Bush administration, oil went as high as $147 a barrel. Right now, WTI crude futures are at $96.47 a barrel. We are now less dependent on foreign oil than we have been in years. We are producing more oil than we have in nearly a decade. There are more American oil rigs working now than have ever worked before.

Tell me again how the President is assaulting oil and gas? Oh, and coal? The coal industry is stronger under the President. More people are working in the coal industry. The stimulus put billions of dollars into coal mining, and there is an emphasis being put in the industry not only to burn coal in a more clean manner (despite all the rhetoric there is no such thing as clean coal, but apparently they’re trying to get it cleaner) and make work conditions safer for the workers who do the dangerous work there.

So much for that point. Many of Mitt’s points against the President were of this variety, the easy to dismiss variety.

The speech mirrored Mr. Romney pretty accurately. Mitt is easy to dismiss and is full of crap, just like his speech.

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And thank you Mr. Eastwood for bringing us Invisible Obama and Eastwooding.

You are a good man, Mr. Eastwood, with the courage of your convictions, and you showed that last night. The speech was a flop though. You muffed it, pretty badly. All the stopping and starting, and hemming and hawing sounded bad. You sounded like a down on his luck actor who has forgotten his lines. Because you had. Should’ve stuck with the script though, Clint. That’s what it’s there for.

For inadvertent comedy though… dude. You win. You. Just. Win. You should smile, Mr. Eastwood, at last nights speech.

Then go have a therapeutic yell at some other invisible people in fine bentwood chairs. Bentwood is just a personal choice on my part, you can use whatever style you like. Just don’t let’em tell you to go fuck yourself. No reason to take that kind of abuse, none at all.

🙂

I’ll always think of you as The Outlaw Josey Wales, Mr. Eastwood, no matter your intentions last night. You were and are a great and good man, the moment had it’s way with you, that’s all.

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

A Quick Look At A Few Of Paul Ryan’s Statements From Last Night

Pic of the day: Assorted United States Coins

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A few quotes from Paul Ryan’s speech, and commentary on those quotes follow.

I’m the newcomer to the campaign, so let me share a first impression. I have never seen opponents so silent about their record, and so desperate to keep their power.

You’re a newcomer to the campaign, and yet you can speak to the fact that you’ve never seen opponents so silent and desperate other such drivel? Seriously? Let me share an impression. There is no desperation except that which you want to see, and the silence you hear isn’t silence. You’re just not listening.

But then again, you never have.

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When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.

Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.

News for Paul Ryan. That plant closed during the Bush Administration.

Just like the Republicans to blame President Obama for something that Dubya did.

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What did the taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt.

Not really. The stimulus helped to save or create over 3 million jobs, and kept unemployment from spiraling out of control. A surprising thing to hear, but without the stimulus, unemployment which peaked at 10%, would have easily peaked closer to 15%.

And while there was debt created, and a lot of it, it was debt built to pay for things that needed to be done here and now. Republicans forget the tragedy that they begat with their laissez-faire governance that made the entire housing and financial crisis possible.

I’ll explain about how the Republicans, in particular Dubya, Chris Cox and Hank Paulson did to the economy if you really need me to beat the dead horse that is the net capital rule yet again.

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Obamacare, as much as anything else, explains why a presidency that began with such anticipation now comes to such a disappointing close.

It began with a financial crisis; it ends with a job crisis.

It began with a housing crisis they alone didn’t cause; it ends with a housing crisis they didn’t correct.

It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.

It’s called the Affordable Care Act. Quit the semantic bullshit, jackass.

Close? The people haven’t spoken yet, Paul. Relax with that.

Ends with a jobs crisis? There has been a jobs crisis for the past 4 years, and the Republicans have stalled every attempt to make progress in the fight to create jobs. Or do you think we don’t remember all those cloture votes in the senate, and all the stonewalling the Republicans have thrown in the path of progress?

They alone?… They alone?.… He’s gonna make me explain about how the REPUBLICANS RELAXED THE NET CAPITAL RULE THUS MAKING IT POSSIBLE TO TURN SUB-PRIME MORTGAGES INTO THE ECONOMY DESTROYERS THEY BECAME. It made those mortgages money makers FOR THE BIG BANKS, big enough where the amount of them increased from being less than 5% of all mortgages to over 20% of all mortgages in less than 18 months by 2004. THAT precipitated the economic collapse. It would NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT THAT ONE SINGLE EVENT. Enough yelling.

I feel cleansed now.

And everyone knows that credit rating drop was a political football play, and the drop was done by the S&P in an attempt to affect the legislative process in their favor. Much like the political football they played with Greece and the rest of the European economy, trying to turn things in their favor.

And you see how well they’re doing over there.

I’d be more careful with the words I chose Mr. Ryan. The S&P thing was and is a debacle. The S&P has lost a great deal of credibility since that rather badly pulled off rating drop.

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Republicans stepped up with good-faith reforms and solutions equal to the problems.
Bullshit.

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Behind every small business, there’s a story worth knowing. … And if small businesspeople say they made it on their own, all they are saying is that nobody else worked seven days a week in their place. Nobody showed up in their place to open the door at five in the morning. Nobody did their thinking, and worrying, and sweating for them. After all that work, and in a bad economy, it sure doesn’t help to hear from their president that government gets the credit. What they deserve to hear is the truth: Yes, you did build that.

No one said that the government gets the credit. What was said is that no one succeeds alone. That simple. And that is a basic truism. Trying to make it sound as if the President is putting down the small businesses of America, after all he has done to keep them afloat is ridiculous on Paul’s part. If you, mister business owner, think you can get by without; money from outside, private or public; the hearty help of your employees who succeed when you do; without the community at large, then you are not going to be in business long, and you will not do well.

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Mitt is speaking.; I will not listen to that devil worshiper. I will read the transcript. And I will do for that speech what I did for Paul’s P.O.S. speech.

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

Getting Caught Up

Pic of the day, part i:  The Bridge at Mantes, by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

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Just as man as a social being, cannot in the long run exist without a tie to the community, so the individual will never find the real justification for his existence, and his own spiritual and moral autonomy, anywhere except in an extramundane principle capable of relativizing the overpowering influence of external factors.

Carl Jung, The Undiscovered Self

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After 9 posts that were part of a long form fictional story, a shade under 9,000 words, I am done with writing that particular story here.  I’m not done writing it, not by a long shot, but I am done writing it here.  Too bad though, as the meat of the story has yet to be written.  I wasn’t exactly sure when it began where it was going to go, but now I do.  I had any of maybe 10 different directions I could have gone in.  But I whittled it down to one.  Crime fiction/horror.

It’s gonna be bloody.  🙂

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It’s been nothing but fun reading up on Mitt Romney and his boytoy Paul Ryan.  I especially love Paul Ryan, if for no other reason that the young man seems to think that we will all forget the simple fact that he wants to kill Medicare and Medicaid.  So he’s on the stump with his mom, saying “Would I kill this woman in the name of political Ideology?”

When we all know the answer is simply Yes.  That he wants to sharply cut funding to medicaid and food stamps.  He counts in his economic plan the savings that the Affordable care act, but he wants to completely get rid of it.  And he wants to cut taxes for millionaires and bilionaires.

The Ryan plan, which I believe Romney endorsed, would cut government revenue by $430,000,000,000 a year on average over the first ten years it is implemented.  And it would only cut government spending by $170,000,000,000 a year.

Creating an annual additional to government deficit spending of  $260,000,000,000 over the next ten years.  $260 billion dollars a year more in  deficit spending if America follows the Ryan plan, the conservative game plan.

I hope all you voters who are thinking of voting for Romney realize that everything will cost you more over both the short and long haul than President Obama.

Enjoy the poverty that Romney/Ryan will create, America!

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The President is now threatening Syria with the use of military force if Syria decides to use chemical weapons against the rebels.  I’m going to take a wild guess and say that this does nothing but emboldens the rebels and hamstrings, if only slightly the Syrian army.   This comes after the Syrians threatened to use chemical and biological weapons against foreign invaders should anyone try to assist the rebels.

All that means is that the President gets to draw a line in the sand in a military conflict, and makes himself look stronger to some, while at the same time not really doing anything.  Assad is not threatened by the United States today any more than he was before the statement was made.  Just like the United States was not truly threatened by Assad and his statement any more after his statement than before.

Regardless of what happens, thousands more will die in the streets of Syria in towns large and small.

More blood.  More death.  More violence.  No good answer for anyone.

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Pic of the day, part ii:  The Augustan Bridge at Narni, by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot

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No psychic value can disappear without being replaced by another of equivalent intensity.

Carl Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul

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