Posts Tagged 99%

Corporations No Longer Need Republicans To Do Their Bidding

The greedy, corporate, tax-evading pricks over at Apple Inc.said that they will not offer computers and other technological support to the Republican National Convention this coming July because of Trump’s comments about women, immigrants and minorities. The decision by one of the United States’ largest and most popular companies is the biggest corporate defection from the Republican convention, where the party will formally nominate Donald Trump.

News outlets and Clinton supporters are beside themselves with joy, seeing this as a significant win for progressive groups, which are pressuring major companies to boycott the convention over Trump.

And I am beside myself with outrage at how fucking naive and stupid people actually are.

The truth of the matter is that Apple will not endorse the RNC, not because of Trump’s stance on women and immigrants, whom they could not give a flying fuck about given their track record of running slave labor overseas and evading taxes here, but becasue Apple and all these corporations don’t need the Republicans anymore to do their bidding!!!

Hillary will be taking care of that from now on, just like she always has been.

And you know why? Because Hillary Fucking Clinton is a corporate shill and essentially a moderate Republican. She would have been a rising star in Ronald Reagan’s administration.

I really cannot believe how utterly deluded and naive people are. I cannot believe that they are buying this bullshit about corporations like Apple and all having finally turned a new leaf.

They have not.

And they are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, or because they care about immigrants, women, blacks or anyone. They are doing it becasue a Clinton presidency is not going to hurt their bottom line, and they know it.  They do not care what the party they support is called as long as it helps them.

I mean, even the Koch Brothers have endorsed Clinton. the KOCH BROTHERS, who are the poster child of sinister corporate greed.

People need to realize that all those Republicans distancing  themselves from Trump are not doing so becasue they necessarily disagree with Trump’s stances on women, immigrants, the poor, blacks and what have you. They do so because the crass way Trump says things makes them look back. It is much harder to get even stupid people on your side and to vote against their own self interest when you are blatantly homophobic, misogynistic and racist and thus bigoted.

Trump is not saying anything out loud that the Republicans have not been dog-whistling about to their constituents and “shareholders” and creating policies for, for decades now using polite language and euphemisms. They just don’t like him becasue Trump’s crassness is so off-putting to people.

And the goes for Apple.

It would look really bad for Apple Inc to endorse Trump. No one would buy the stupid, overpriced shit anymore and people would start boycotting them too.

I am really dismayed at the state of affairs lately. It is like everyone has fallen into this collective stupor that does not allow them to see things for what they are. It is like as a nation we are digging ourselves ever deeper into a mess of our own creation.

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I Will Miss Bernie Sanders

bernie-sanders-having-birdiesandersI will miss Bernie Sanders and the air of hope and optimism he brought with him during this Primary season.

After all the capitulations of the Obama Administration to Republican demagoguery in general and to the GOP in particular; after all the nay-saying and “no we can’t do it after all” crap and over-compromising to the point of actually compromising one’s core principle and thereby essentially allowing Republicans to set the tone and direction of national policy and debate, it was great to see someone who inspired real change;  who wasn’t just another god-damn politician looking out for himself and his bottom line, perpetuating the same failed policies that further no one but the greed and avarice of the one percent.

Republicans have set the bar so low that it really does not take much to exceed it. This country has moved so far to the Right, that both Obama and Clinton would have fit well into the Reagan administration instead of FDR’s. The Republicans are so awful, that they make people like Clinton and Obama look good and liberal, rather than showing them as the moderate Republicans they really are. Republicans who have turned  not being a fascist into a standard which politicians like Clinton aspire to (“Hey vote for me, at least I was not THAT  horrible.”),

Seeing people come together, being fired up, having hope for a better future for all Americans, was inspiring. I think a lot of even cynical people felt that there was finally a political leader who wasn’t telling us what we wanted to hear becasue it was politically expedient,  but who, behind closed doors, just went on with business as usual. Someone who finally got it and who strived to make it happen, even if he knew it was hard. It was great to see someone who isn’t running a capitulation campaign,  where you aim really low so you can at least get that done (which is sort of the message I got from Hillary Clinton, in a nutshell). 

A lot of Clinton’s supporter believe that Sanders’ supporters live in a fantasy world where everything is free and they don’t have to work for it.  We were and continue to be dismissed as a bunch of pie-in-the-sky dreamers, detached from reality, who don’t know any better, versus Clinton who repeatedly prides herself in her pragmatism and no-nonsense attitude.

But we are not blind. We understand the political process perfectly well.  We understand that the President isn’t an elected king and that he has to work with Congress and lawmakers to make things happen. We understood the value of compromise. We know that this is going to be an upward battle requiring effort, a thick skin and hard work. And we knew that Bernie Sanders was not going to waltz into the White House, swing a magic wand and make it all happen.

But winning is only half the battle. The appeal of the Sanders movement is about achievability as much as it is about inspiration and believing that one must and can work toward a movement for greater equality, fair wages, universal  healthcare, and an end to corporate control of our political system. That in and of itself is half the battle.  And if you can’t even envision that, just like Clinton cannot and won’t envision it, then why do you even fucking want this job? Why do you bother?

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In fact, I have often wondered why given her defeatist pragmatic attitude Clinton even wants this job. She is rich enough so it is not like she has to work. And how much more money can one person need and want?

Is it for power? Prestige? To be the first woman President? Bragging rights?

I look at her track record and I look at her during this Primary season and I don’t see a public servant, I don’t see someone who wants to bring about change and reform. On the contrary, what I see is a neoliberal, Wall Street-funded, status quo-perpetuating, multimillionaire  militarist.

It is a shame. We had the chance to elect an utterly honest man who has not spent  the last 40 years enriching himself at the expense of the American people. Unlike Sanders’ positive and hope filled message, this so-called victory by Clinton brings with itself an air of hopelessness and despondency that weighs down my heart.

The masses of people being gullible sheep who vote against their own self interest is nothing new, but it never ceases to amaze and appall me when I do witness it.  Sanders is a man who, going by his tax returns alone, is  broke compared to his multi millionaire colleagues in Congress. He and his wife made less in one year ($204k) than  Clinton makes in one speech to Goldman Sachs. He didn’t vote for every war he could vote for,  he was not being sponsored by banks and corporations while also receiving endorsements by the likes of the Koch Brothers and war criminals like Henry Kissinger. Unlike Clinton he has not spent the bigger part of his career aligning himself with the powerful and wealthy against the powerless and poor.

Yet who do people vote for? Hillary Clinton. A woman who  wore a $12,000  Armani  suit while giving a speech on income inequality.

Hillary-Clinton-Banks-Wall-Street

As a woman and feminist I am supposed to feel really elated and happy here. It is a historic moment for the United States to finally have a woman Presidential nominee and probably also President. However, I feel nothing but disappointment and despair. I look at the next six months with a heavy heart and know that she will win the General Election, too, given that the person she is running against is not really a viable candidate, or even a opponent, but more like a troll. So in a way Clinton will be running unopposed come this November.

Of course, Hillary Clinton is qualified and experienced for the job. Nk doubt in my mind she is brilliant. However, it is not her qualifications that are in question here, it is her priorities. She is bad for America and this historic moment of finally having a woman on the command chair is overshadowed by the fact that Clinton is not the Progressive she claims to be.

Clinton is not running (at this time or any other) to help the American people, who have been nothing short of brutalized by corporations and the politicians that do their bidding – including Clinton – or to make America a better place. She’s running because the Presidency is the biggest prize in the world, and she wants that prize. Trump is running for the same reason–bragging rights.

If she wins, and she will win, her presidency will then be focused–again–not on the people, but on doing just enough to secure a personal legacy and a place in the history books as The First Woman President.

Someone who accepts nearly a million dollars in speaker fees from Goldman Sachs to congratulate them on a job well done and who goes to fundraisers were people spend nearly $400,000 on a plate, and someone who has a track record of voting for all the fraudulent wars this country has been engaged in for the past five decades and Wall Street bailouts and policies aimed at furthering the 1% at the expense of everyone else, someone who has already said that there will never, ever be universal health care and free – or at least affordable -education and meaningful student loan reforms for all, not just special interest groups – is not someone who should be running on the Progressive ticket.

For the record, Goldman Sachs does not pay HRC $250,000 per speaking engagement for nothing. Those rich people in the aforementioned dinner organized by George Clooney don’t spend nearly $400,000 a seat to help poor people. This is an investment and those people will  want a return on their investment; a return which doesn’t include you or I.

Clinton is a moderate Republican, paid and endorsed by big banks to convince the middle class to be happy with the old deal. And this past Tuesday, middle and working class America agreed by making her their nominee.

 

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Bernie Sanders’ vs. Hillary Clinton’s Tax Returns

Benrie v Hillary

Bernie Sanders reportedly earned just over $200,000 in 2014. That same year, Hillary Clinton, Sanders’s top Democratic rival, gave about 45 paid speeches, many of which paid her more in a single hour than Sanders made the entire year.

The Washington Post reports on Sanders’s income. “The senator from Vermont reported income of just more than $200,000 on his 2014 returns, according to the first few pages of his federal and Vermont filings, which were shared with The Washington Post back in June. On Friday, the couple is planning to release the rest of the returns, including attached schedules,” writes the paper. “The vast majority of the couple’s income came from Sanders’s $174,000 Senate salary and Social Security benefits that both he and his wife, Jane, a former college president, receive.”

In 2014 alone, Clinton gave speeches to GE (for $225,500), the National Automobile Dealers Association ($325,500), Deutsche Bank AG ($280,000), and many more.

As CNN reported at the beginning of this year, “Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, combined to earn more than $153 million in paid speeches from 2001 until Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign last spring, a CNN analysis shows.

“In total, the two gave 729 speeches from February 2001 until May, receiving an average payday of $210,795 for each address. The two also reported at least $7.7 million for at least 39 speeches to big banks, including Goldman Sachs and UBS, with Hillary Clinton, the Democratic 2016 front-runner, collecting at least $1.8 million for at least eight speeches to big banks.”

Here’s a list of Hillary Clinton’s publicly disclosed paid speeches since leaving the State Department, totaling a sweet $21,667,000:

Hillary Clinton Speeches 2013-2015_1

 

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Wage Increases Alone Are Not Enough

In a move that could alter the minimum wage debate and improve the image of the world’s largest retailer, Walmart announced it will raise the baseline wage of its current store employees to $10 per hour, bringing pay hikes to an estimated 500,000 workers.

The company said in an announcement on Thursday that it would raise its wage floor to $9 in April, followed by a second boost to $10 by next February.

Now I do not want to berate them for giving their employees a wage increase. That is a good thing and better than nothing, I guess.

But I do want to make a few observations:

1) A dollar or two more per hour spread out over two years is nothing but a drop in the bucket and is not likely going to change the situation of people in Wal-mart’s employ all that much, if at all.

2) Compared to the obscene wealth Walmart and the Walton family have (the six Waltons have a net worth of $144.7 billion. This fiscal year three Waltons—Rob, Jim, and Alice (and the various entities that they control)—will receive an estimated $3.1 billion in Walmart dividends from their majority stake in the company), giving their employees a mere dollar or two an hour more in wages is not only a drop in the bucket but, quite frankly, insulting. It reeks of the kind of greed communists have not only predicted but almost caricatured since the beginning of the industrial revolution and the emergence of capitalism. The greed here is unfathomable.

3) What Walmart is doing here is voluntary. They are not obliged, per federal minimum wage laws, to give their employees more than $7.25 an hour. People are all beside themselves over the “generosity” of Walmart  and celebrate this as some kind of a victory for workers.

There is a whole lot wrong with this, not the least of which is that 10 dollars an hour is not a livable wage. It amounts to not more than $18,720 a year before taxes. After the tax collector is done with you, that amount is most likely reduced by another 40%. No one can live on this.

But the bigger issue here is that  people waiting to be paid a livable wage for a days’ work shouldn’t be dependent on the largesse and generosity of their employers voluntarily giving them wage increases. In other words, it should not be up to an employer’s discretion to not only treat their employees well but to also give them wage increases. Because a lot of them will be waiting forever.

That is why we need regulation in the form of laws that guarantee a realistic livable wage, limiting executive income to a reasonable multiplier of that wage, so that if executives want to make more, they need to give their employees more, too.

4) All this brings me to my next point, which I cannot emphasize enough: $10 an hour is not a livable wage.

Heck not even $15 an hour is.

Making $28,880 per year (which is what someone getting paid $15 an hour would be making) is not a livable wage. After taxes, not much remains. People in such a situation, which is already considered the gold standard (the $15 an hour minimum wage)  won’t be given healthcare benefits or will not be able to afford quality health care with low deductibles and co-pays.

Many of them will not qualify for government subsidies as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as the poverty levels are set so low that most people do not qualify and  many of these people won’t earn enough money to feed themselves, much less a family, and many of them won’t be able to save as much as they’ll need for their retirement, if they can save anything at all.

People who honorably dedicate their time, energy, and talents to jobs that might not traditionally pay well because some capitalist pig decided it is worth less, are indeed entitled to something though. They are entitled to not work their whole lives only to find themselves poverty-stricken, or hungry, or homeless after one small (or not small) financial crisis. And if we’re not going to ensure that every job comes with a livable wage, access to affordable healthcare, and retirement benefits, then we’ve got to provide a robust and well-funded social safety net.

None of which we have these days. The money you get deducted each pay-check for social security may as well be torched and dumped into a landfill, because you most likely will not see much of it. It is just money the government collects from everyone each month that lands into a pool of money that Congress regularly steals from (i.e. borrows against) and then when it is time to pay-back, they talk about cutting social security altogether.

So we do not even have a social safety net.

Unemployment benefits run out after a year or two max and most people do not qualify for welfare and foodstamps because the bar for qualifying for such benefits has been set so low, that no one but people pushing shopping carts, qualify.

I know someone in their 60s making $800 dollars a month and they were denied food-stamp benefits because they allegedly make too much money. And that is in California. An ostensibly liberal state.

5) Finally, and most importantly: wage increases are meaningless if they are not accompanied by tax reform in the form of reducing the taxes on the poor and middle class while closing the loopholes and increasing the taxes on the wealthy.

Imagine if you could keep 85% of the money you make each month, instead of having relinquish nearly 40% of it to the Federal government. Imagine how much better off you would be. I know I would be able to pay off my student loan debt and increase my standard of living by manifold.

But the reality is that the majority of us do not get to keep that money. We have to give it to the government, while someone making 100 to 1000 or even 10,000 times or more than we do gets to keep all their money, accumulating wealth fast and easy while free-riding on the taxes we all pay for them. This is wealth redistribution bottom to top, make no mistake about it. The middle class has been and continues to underwrite the success of the wealthy.

That is why minimum wage increases alone are meaningless if they do not go hand in hand with tax reforms. Because even if we were to push for higher minimum wages, people end up just paying more of that in taxes, which then effectively nullifies the whole reason why wages needed to be increased in the first place. The only one benefiting from wage increases is the government.

Hard work and making more money won’t do you any good if you are crippled by high taxes. At least in Europe the higher taxes people pay go back to them in social programs and a robust social safety net. Here, the poor and middle class are taxed into oblivion and when push comes to shove, they don’t see any of it come back to them in form of healthy, meaningful and robust social programs.

Right now, thanks to our current tax system that has been designed to benefit the very wealthy, corporations and wealthy individuals have managed to exploit loopholes to such an extent that has allowed them to keep the trillions of tax dollars we ought to be collecting from them, as profit.  That is how they keep getting richer and why you and I, are not.  Trickle down my ass.

The idea behind trickle down was that by giving the wealthy and big earners and corporations tax breaks, thus lessening the burden on them,  you create the kind of environment that creates jobs and allows the wealth to trickle down to the lower ranks. The idea was that your employer will pass to tax savings it got on to you in the form of benefits and great wages.

That is one huge lie. And it never happened, given the decline of the middle class ever since trickle down was being sold to the American public.

In fact, trickle down is one of the biggest lies ever told and it does not work. It is a myth.

Corporations and the wealthy do not pass on the savings they get in taxes to their employees and workers. Instead they hide all those monies in off-shore accounts and pocket them. There is a reason Romney did not want to publish his tax returns and can afford gold plated car elevators in one of his mansions.

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How Gullible Are You?

After a three month hiatus I am back and what better way to start off the quest for knowledge, wisdom and non bullshittery than to ask yourself this very simple question: How gullible are you?

10942607_1429185550706710_5682680835405031896_nAre you gullible enough to believe that the billion galaxy universe was just created for us?

Are you gullible enough to believe that a god would impregnate a poor peasant girl to give birth to himself so he can then grow up and die for a bunch of sins that he created in the first place so that one day he may come down and die for them to prove a point? (Are you officially lost amid this convoluted clusterfuck way of thinking here? Um, yeah, so am I)

Are you gullible enough to believe that Islam is a wonderfully peaceful religion that is merely misunderstood?

Are you gullible enough to believe that ideas, even bad ideas  – and religion is full of bad ideas – do not influence the people we become? The decisions we make and the priorities we set?

Are you gullible enough to believe that corporations are people? That money does not influence political outcomes?

Are you gullible enough to believe that giving rich people tax exemptions so they can hide their wealth in offshore accounts creates jobs and helps some worker stuck in a minimum wage paying slow death improve their standard of living?

Are you gullible enough to believe that wealthy people are wealthy because they work for it instead of being the laziest, greediest, most opportunistic moochers that they are, who exploit the system, with proficiency and profligacy about which poor would-be swindlers can only dream?

Are you gullible enough to seriously think that beliefs and the ideas that inform them are beyond criticism and above reproach?

Are you gullible enough to believe that there is an actual marked difference between Democrats and Republicans?

Are you swayed by fluffy and hopeful State of the Union Addresses by our one percent fellating leaders? Are you so enamored by the belief in them that you forget that despite lofty speeches promising to help the middle class, they wanted to (and have in the past) appoint Wall Street executives in key goverment positions, such as President Obama’s nomination of Wall Street executive and banker Antonio Weiss for a top job at the Treasury Department?

Are you gullible enough to believe that one middle-class boosting policy enacted for every twenty pieces of legislation enacted furthering the “causes” of millionaires, bankers, corporations and oil companies, will bring us a step closer to the direly needed changes we need? That such half-assed steps will strengthen the middle class?

Are yo gullible enough to believe that giving more tax breaks to millionaires is good for all us?

Are yo gullible enough to think that most millionaires are even paying any taxes?

Are you gullible enough to believe that placing health care in the hands of private corporate entities that do not give two shits about your health but instead care a whole lot of about the bottom line, was better for people? Or constitutes health care reform?

Are you gullible enough to believe that the Republican party stands for anything else beside hate, greed and bigotry?

Are you gullible enough to seriously believe that the solution to the crisis we face today with respect to a diminishing middle class is corporatist Hilary Clinton?

Are you gullible enough to believe that a Senate that actually votes on whether climate change is real or not can be trusted with accomplishing anything meaningful for this country and its people?

So exactly how gullible are you?

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The Thought Police

Donald Sterling is a racist scumbag and worthless human being. He is a white supremacist who has been hating on, harassing, bullying and discriminating against black people all his life and it is doubtful that anything is going to change about his behavior anytime soon, despite his half-assed, desperate, insincere “apology” about the things he had said to his girlfriend in a private conversation over the phone about black people.

It is entities like him that are part of the problem and if he is going to lose a tiny piece of a kingdom that he undoubtedly built at the backs of those he hates, harasses, bullies and discriminates against as a result of his gross rank racism, I will not lose any sleep over it.

That said, I completely and fully support Donald Sterling’s right to be able to say whatever he wants to anyone in a private conversation without fear of persecution and without losing his business, pay fines or be subject to similar reprimands. And I do so, not because I particularly care about Donald Sterling or the Donald Sterlings of the world (if you ask me, the only good one percenter is one behind bars) but because by upholding Sterling’s right to say whatever he wants in a private conversation without having to pay for it professionally, I uphold my own right to do the same.

I admit, it’s a difficult point to make given the collective outrage that sprung up once Sterling’s comments were broadcast.

But that is hardly the point, is it? Because what I am trying to get at is that people should be able to think what they want and say what they want in private conversations, without the fear of losing their business and their jobs.

We cannot, and should not, go after people for their privately held beliefs, especially if those beliefs are shared in private conversations with partners, spouses, friends or even on Facebook.

To be clear, this has nothing to do with the First Amendment. The First Amendment merely protects a person’s right to free speech without government interjection and persecution. Since the federal government did not go after Sterling after his remarks to his girlfriend were published, this is not a First Amendment issue here, and it is rather bothersome that people who do defend Sterling’s right to say what he wants erroneously use the First Amendment and “free speech” clause to make the point.

What this is, however, is a matter of living in a society in which people are able to express their personal thoughts to those around them without the fear that doing so may cost them a job, a promotion or their business.

Donald Sterling’s private words (just as your private words, and my private words and John Doe’s private words) should have remained private – even after they were published.

He was not talking to anyone in HR demanding, and thus in a business capacity,  that they not hire any more blacks or recruit any more black players for the Clippers; he was not having a conversation about his sentiments about black people in a business capacity; on the contrary,  he was talking to his partner over the phone about his racist views on blacks.

Sterling should have the right and freedom to think what he wants and say what he wants in private without fearing that once his thoughts are public, he may lose his business or have to pay a substantial fine for holding those thoughts. it is ridiculous.

Going after Sterling for thinking that blacks are less than sets a terrible precedent and tomorrow, in a not so cut-and -dry case, someone may use the same rationale to go after someone who supports Socialism, or atheism, or after someone who works in a Conservative firm but supports gay rights.

Do not think for one second that doing what was done to Sterling is going to be merely confined to the “bad guys.”

Liberty in America is a transactional experience. In affirming the right of a man to express an opinion in the privacy of his own bedroom (however obscene that opinion may be ) I affirm my right to express my opinion in the privacy of my home.

In affirming the rights of bigots to freely express themselves in any venue, I enhance my own freedom to oppose policies indifferent to popularity without fear of retribution.

It is a two way street.

In condemning the freedom of one man you condemn the freedom of all.

We must live in a country that punishes based on people’s actions, not based on their opinions or thoughts that they express to partners, spouses, friends and family in private conversation.

Simply because a man holds a view that 98% of Americans don’t like and it leads to declining revenue does not justify what the NBA did. By this logic, an owner who tells his wife in the privacy of his own bedroom that he supports the Communist party, can then be banned by the game due to capitalist outrage.

The irony here, of course, is that Donald Sterling was, in action, discriminating against blacks and racial minorities in his housing communities for decades and no one cared, not even these very black Clippers players who are now so deeply offended.

In response to the 2003 suit, one of his property supervisors testified that Sterling said all blacks “smell” and are “not clean,” that he wanted to “get them out” of his properties to preserve his image, and that he harassed tenants and refused to make repairs until they were forced to leave, according to depositions obtained by ESPN The Magazine

Gross and blatant housing discrimination is Sterling’s biggest offense and it was documented, even with the Department of Justice that sued him (and no one can tell me that the honorable NBA and Clippers players did not know about it).  Yet,  it took insulting and alienating a few wealthy athletes and sponsors during a private conversation to finally give this piece of shit what he deserves. 

Something is upside down here. Fining Sterling and pressuring him to sell his business because of what he said in a private conversation is going entirely too far.

I condemn this Clippers owner because he violates everything I have worked for and believe in but I defend his rights of expression just as ardently as they were my own.

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Just One of Us

1399331510298.cachedIt is so sweet and reassuring, really, that Michelle Obama is such a down to earth kinda woman spending her time as the First Lady working on important issues such as cutting the ribbon on the newly redesigned Costume Institute wing dedicated to fashion maven and tastemaker Anna Wintour.

Public service at its best.

I guess there is a sincere logic in the notion that if you, as the First Lady and representative of your country, look great wearing expensive designer couture and hair-dos, going to talk shows and hanging out with the elite Hollywood crowd and sport things like $800 a pair of Jimmy Choos while posing on the cover of Vogue magazine a mere week after your husband unleashed a devastating Sequester onto the neediest of the American people, you inspire these very people to aspire to be something more, thus working oh so hard to pull themselves up by their bootstraps – or in this case – their Jimmy Choo strappy sandal straps.

Just like she were one of us. A true woman of the people.

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