The Bright Coast

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Never Underestimate the Guy Who Beat Hillary

Posted by demkid on November 8, 2012

I did it again!  I underestimated Barack Obama.  The President exceeded my slightly conservative expectations on Tuesday night, beating Willard in the Electoral College 332-206 (the Romney campaign conceded Florida earlier today).  So, I missed my toss up (Colorado) and Florida, which I said he could win if he had a good night.  Hard to believe that the national race was called a mere 12 minutes later than it was in 2008…I was expecting somewhat of a longer night.

How about my other predictions?  The popular vote currently stands at 50.4%-48.0% for the President.  My guess was 50.7-48.3, the exact margin of 2.4%.  I will not claim victory, however, because they are still counting votes around the country, and some have speculated that the final popular vote margin could be over 3%.  Still, I’ll take what I can get!

In the Senate, it was a good night for Democrats, as they actually managed to increase their majority in the upper chamber with some key, close victories.  They’ll have 53 senators (plus the 2 independents) for a total of 55, 2 more than I expected.  2012 marks the 20th anniversary of the “Year of the Woman,” when my former boss, Senator Feinstein, and her California colleague, Barbara Boxer, were elected, along with 2 other women, to the U.S. Senate.  This was the first time 4 women were elected to the Senate in a single year.  I remember wearing a shirt stating, “A Woman’s Place is in the House…and the Senate!”  It was appropriate that in this 20th anniversary year, Senator Feinstein was re-elected, and a NEW “Year of the Woman” happened.  For the first time, there are 20 women senators (naturally 16 are Democrats), and there will be at least 77 women in the House, a new record.  With Tammy Baldwin being the first openly-gay person and first woman elected as a senator from Wisconsin, the Democratic Party and the country are continuing to move forward.

In the House, it looks like Democrats could wind up with a 7-seat pick-up for an even 200 representatives, but there are still a handful of races to be decided.  I’d say my guess of +4 was fairly accurate.  It will probably take a couple of more election cycles before the Dems will have a legitimate shot of reclaiming the majority, as gerrymandering has made many districts non-competitive.

To wrap up my predictions, it looks like I was a little too optimistic in Ohio.  When all the votes are counted, the President will probably win by a margin of about 2%; a bit lower than my 3.5% guess.  The closest state was not, in fact, Virginia, as the President won there by around 3%.  Could the Commonwealth be turning into a light purple state?  We’ll give it another couple of elections to see, for sure.  VA actually ranked 4th on the list of close states, with Florida taking top honors.  They were still counting votes down there as of today, and the President’s margin should wind up perhaps a little less than a full percentage point.  Here are your 10 closest states, via the Washington Post.  I did nail the largest swing from the 2008 election, which was Utah.  John McCain won Utah by about 28 points in 2008, and Romney increased that margin 20 points, winning there 73-25.  It must be tough to be a Democrat in Utah (or a non-Mormon.)  Other big Romney gains were in West Virginia, North Dakota, and Montana (the GOP can have those.)  The votes have also been counted in my domicile, and it was a close, close race for the District of Columbia’s 3 electoral votes.  The President beat John McCain 4 years ago 92-7, and this time around it was a squeaker, with the margin being 91-7.  Apparently a few votes went to Jill Stein.

Finally, I will give myself a pat on the back because my last prediction was dead on: Dick Morris still is the worst political pundit in the entire nation.  I’ve been debating which video of his to post, his initial prediction or his video entitled, “Why I Goofed,” when he stated, “I’ve been in a bit of a mudslide on my face,” but the latter is full of too much BS (even for Dick), so here’s the master prognosticator with his flawless prediction, made a day before the President’s re-election:


Posted in Election 2012, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

President Obama to be Re-Elected; Little Change in Congress

Posted by demkid on November 5, 2012

Well, I indicated in my last post that I may be blogging more frequently, but that just didn’t come to pass.  However, I did catch the twitter bug during this campaign season, so if you’re into tweeting, you can follow me on there (@brightcoast).  This blog began 4 years ago, in the midst of the 2008 campaign season, as a tongue-in-cheek response to some of our wonderful USD Law professors who blog over at The Right Coast.  (Now that blog just seems to be dominated by one professor who tends to re-post conservative articles without commenting much on them.)  Like many conservatives, The Right Coast has envisioned some sort of landslide (or smaller) victory for Willard Romney when all the votes are counted on Election Day, which is tomorrow.  In August, I stated that the conservative dream would never come to pass, and said, “I can almost guarantee that President Obama will be re-elected in November.”  Now that we’re a day from voting, I’m going to put it all on the line and officially get rid of the “almost.”  I guarantee that the President will serve another 4 years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Before I give you my predictions, I’ll note my accuracy in 2008.  Then, I predicted an Obama popular vote margin of 6.7%.  He won by 7.2%.  I predicted an electoral vote for Obama of 349.  He exceeded my expectations and garnered 365.  In the Senate, I predicted 41 GOP Senate seats; they got 41.  In the House, I predicted a Dem majority of 260-175; the margin was 257-178.  So, I think I did pretty darn well.  Let’s hope that I can repeat my accuracy this time around.  Here’s how the map will look this year:

The President’s Path to Re-Election

There you have it.  294 electoral votes for the President.  Many of the s0-called “swing states” will be close, but I believe the President has a slight edge naturally and a significant built-in advantage in many of the important states.  His easiest path to victory is the “firewall” of Nevada, Wisconsin, and Ohio.  Winning these, plus not losing Pennsylvania (which trust me, won’t happen), gets him to 271.  I also think he wins Iowa by at least a few points, and Virginia, which is the closest of my Obama states, but which I think he’ll hold onto by the slimmest of margins.  The closest Romney state is Colorado, which I’ve been going back and forth on.  Many think Obama will hold onto Colorado and wind up with 303 votes, which is significant because it’s the same number Presidents Truman and Kennedy won.  That’s a distinct possibility, but I’m being a little more conservative, based on early voting figures.  As for Ohio, the big battleground, I think the President will win there fairly easily.  I’m actually a little more concerned about Wisconsin (a state Gore and Kerry won by less than a point), but the President has been there 3 of the last 5 days, and I think he’ll hold on.  Take away Virginia and Wisconsin, and the President has 271.  This is why Iowa is an important back-up, and why the President is finishing his campaign there, today.  It could also be close in New Hampshire, but recent polling has shown a slight but steady Obama margin there.  By the way, if it’s a slightly better night for the President, he could very well win Florida, but I think the odds are against it.  Here are my other predictions:

Popular Vote: Obama 50.7%, Romney 48.3% (The exact margin when Bush beat Kerry in 2004.)

Senate: Democrats (+2 Independents) 53, Republicans 47 (no change)

House: Republicans 238, Democrats 197 (Dems gain 4 seats).  I was tempted to make this dead even too, but there has to be SOME change out of 435 races, right??

Ohio: Obama 51.2%, Romney 47.7%

Closest State: Virginia

Largest Swing from 2oo8: Utah (secondary choices: Hawaii, Oregon, or Wisconsin)

Worst Political Pundit: Still Dick Morris

There you have it!  It’s been an entertaining election season and hopefully it’ll be a fun night, tomorrow.


Posted in Election 2012, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

One Year Seems Like a Good Enough Break…

Posted by demkid on August 10, 2012

I wonder how many people have come to The Bright Coast in the past year and have been utterly disappointed due to the lack of any new posts.  Probably not a whole lot, but I can live with that.  The fact is, “brightcoast” and I have moved on to bigger and better things in the past couple of years, and we simply don’t have nearly the same amount of time to devote to crafting award-winning blog posts on “law, politics, and culture,” to use part of the tagline we borrowed from our rival blog.  (That “other” blog has still been going strong, though, as our USD Law professor friends generally have plenty of time on their hands to write about all things conservative.)  The two of us, on the other hand, have become USD Law alums, and neither of us even lives in San Diego, anymore!  That being said, and especially since we’re less than 3 months from what many are calling “the biggest election of our lives,” I’ve caught the blogging bug again, at least to write the occasional election-related post.  Where better to start than to talk briefly about some of my favorite subjects: polling, the state of the race as I see it, and the electoral college.

Despite what our professor friend hopes will happen, that being, a landslide for Willard Romney, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it will never come to pass.  In fact, I can almost guarantee that President Obama will be re-elected in November.  Why am I so confident?  Well, besides the fact that Romney is a super weak candidate, the economy will slowly improve over the next few months, and it’s just generally difficult to defeat an incumbent, the electoral math is clearly on the President’s side.  For Romney to win, there would have to be a pretty significant shift across the country to his side (Obama currently leads nationally by a few points or so), and he would almost have to sweep all of the major swing states.  For an excellent state of the race, check out Nate Silver’s page here, which currently gives President Obama almost a 75% chance of winning re-election.  For me, the proof is in the electoral math, and I’ve created a couple of maps over at to illustrate my confidence.  The following map shows the lay of the land, that is, I would be absolutely shocked if any of the colored states goes the other way on Election Day:

My Solid States

As you can see, I believe that President Obama is a mere 23 electoral votes from re-election.  If he fails to win any of the above blue states, he’ll be in real trouble.  I just don’t see that happening.  So, if he’s at 247, where does he pick up the other 23?  In my mind, there are two clear paths to victory.  Here’s the first:

Nevada (or Iowa) plus Ohio = Victory

In the above scenario, President Obama wins Nevada (where he’s currently up 5 in the polls with a 79% chance to win) and Ohio (also currently up 5 and a 72% chance to win.)  He could also replace Nevada with Iowa, where he’s up 3 and has a 67% chance to win (these percentages come from Nate Silver’s page.)  So, let’s leave in either Nevada or Iowa, and show you the second-easiest path to re-election:

Nevada (or Iowa) plus New Hampshire and Virginia = Victory

New Hampshire and Virginia will get the President to exactly 270.  In New Hampshire, he’s currently up 4 with a 74% chance, and in Virginia, he’s up 3 with a 68% chance to win.

In conclusion, I recommend focusing on polls from the above-mentioned states over the next 3 months.  If you see a bad couple of polls from any of the blue states in the first map, President Obama should be very concerned.  But, if all those hold up, simply look at Nevada, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire, and Virginia.  Winning Florida, North Carolina, or Colorado would just be a bonus…these aren’t needed to win.  Also as shown, the President doesn’t need Ohio to win, if he can get Virginia, New Hampshire, and either Nevada or Iowa.  Many paths to victory, and many fewer paths to victory for Romney.  That’s the state of the race as I see it, and that, my friends, is our first blog post in a year.  Perhaps there will be more soon to come!



Posted in Election 2012, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Glenn Beck Desperate

Posted by brightcoast on May 13, 2011

That’s the only explanation I can come up with for this ( (links not working), an on air rant inappropriately reacting to a skin cancer PSA starring Megan McCain.

But let’s be honest, it’s not like he has a reputation for behaving sanely, or even rationally. He’s essentially the epitome of all that is wrong with the Right. That his joke was in poor taste, if you can even call it that, is obvious.

Posted in News Media, Politics, Twitter | Leave a Comment »

The Right’s War on Peas and Carrots

Posted by demkid on February 23, 2011

On the most recent Real Time with Bill Maher, Bill and his panel spent a significant amount of time discussing the current fight over the budget for FY 2011 (or what’s left of it).  As we saw last week, the House Republicans (with zero Democratic votes) passed a budget resolution filled with drastic cuts to numerous government agencies and programs, and thereby fulfilled their arbitrary campaign promise to cut $100 billion from the President’s proposed spending levels.  Bill, as a way to crudely illustrate the Republican strategy, pulled out a dinner platter which represented U.S. spending as a whole: heaping piles of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and macaroni and cheese represented social security, medicare/medicaid, and defense spending.  Instead of attempting to tackle these huge chunks of our budget, however, Congressional Republicans decided that they would instead go after the tiny corner of mixed vegetables which represents non-security discretionary spending.  In the House Resolution, peas and carrots like home heating assistance for low-income families, medical research at the National Institutes of Health, Pell Grants, assistance for homeless veterans, and Planned Parenthood funding, were all cut in a frenzy.  At the same time, Republicans easily avoided cost-effective cuts like reductions in the billions of dollars in annual subsidies to oil companies.  It was truly a triumph for partisan ideology.  While these types of domestic programs may represent the peas and carrots of our budget when it comes to a percentage of the overall “meal”, when one considers the fact that they save lives and provide essential services to the American public, their importance seems more analogous to the meat and potatoes of Bill’s not-so-well-balanced dinner.

Perhaps the clearest example of the all-out ideological attack on a tiny part of the budget which provides a huge return on its investment is the attempt to slash the Environmental Protection Agency:

H.R. 1 cuts the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by almost a third and hamstrings the EPA’s ability to protect the environment and Americans’ health. For example, the measure prevents the EPA from protecting communities from mercury, lead, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from cement plants, leaving thousands of children exposed and at risk of asthma, slowed brain development and other neurological disorders. The EPA safeguard that the measure blocks would have reduced mercury pollution by more than 90 percent and saved 2,500 lives each year.

Some of the other numerous provisions in the House Resolution targeting the environment and public safety would: interfere with the EPA’s ability to limit toxic pollution from coal-fired power plants, exempt oil companies from Clean Air Act review for drilling in the Arctic, prohibit the EPA from setting new health standards limiting coarse particulate matter in the air we breathe, stop the EPA from implementing certain portions of the Clean Water Act, thereby threatening drinking water and potentially leaving wetlands unprotected from pollution, and Eliminate EPA funding that would enable the agency to use the Clean Air Act to curb greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, methane, and hydrofluorocarbons.

The EPA’s budget represents about 0.1% of total spending, yet House Republicans have been eager to attack policies and programs at every turn, and are quick to claim that EPA regulations threaten jobs.  The GOP needs to realize that their radical attacks on environmental protection just aren’t in line with either the American public or the facts:

The many people who were frustrated with government in the 2010 elections and voted for Tea Party members probably did not realize they were voting to “gut” environmental protections that Americans have enjoyed for the past several decades. A recent poll about proposals to weaken Clean Air Act rules indicates that members of Congress pushing to weaken environmental protection are distancing themselves from the electorate. Meanwhile the proposed budget cuts bear a striking resemblance to the Santa wish-list of K Street coal, chemical, oil and gas lobbyists. These lobbyists came late to the Tea Party, but made up for their tardiness with dollars.

The environmental and economic benefits provided by EPA’s work are visible in communities across America, ranging from reduced smog to cleaner waters and the all but end of indiscriminate hazardous waste dumping. These improvements have led to billions of dollars in health benefits that even the George W. Bush Administration catalogued. The dollars these safeguards have saved come primarily from reducing the number of Americans who become ill because of pollution.

The cost of the programs responsible for these improvements is a relatively small portion of the federal budget, and thus a very small percentage of the average American family’s tax expenditures. Yet, the benefits derived from these programs are extraordinary: clean air for our children to breathe, clean water for our families to drink, healthy public lands for people to recreate on, and clean oceans to support healthy fisheries and the livelihoods tied to this precious resource.

I highly recommend this article, which discusses the benefits of EPA regulation for workers:

A study just released by Ceres and the Political Economy Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts examines the jobs effects of some of the new regulations, specifically ones that have been harshly attacked by EPA critics. This well-documented study finds that far from being “job killers,” the new regulations will create nearly 300,000 new jobs, especially skilled, high-pay jobs for engineers, project managers, electricians, boilermakers, pipe-fitters, millwrights, and iron workers.

The new study joins a large number of previous studies showing that EPA regulation, in addition to protecting the environment and the public’s health, also serves as a job-growing economic stimulus and development program for the American economy. These studies directly contradict the endlessly repeated mantra that environmental regulations are “job killers.”

The cost of compliance with EPA regulation is generally less than two percent of total business costs. The idea that companies will shut down or go abroad to avoid such costs is ludicrous. However, companies often try to blame shutdowns and runaways on environmental compliance costs as a way to displace responsibility from other causes, such as new technologies, increased productivity, fluctuating energy prices — and their own corporate strategic decisions.

It will be an interesting next couple of weeks on the Hill.  Fortunately, the House Resolution with its partisan cuts is dead on arrival in the Senate.  The current Continuing Resolution (CR) runs out on March 4th, and as Congress is off this week, that leaves just a few working days to pass something before then to avoid a government shutdown.  As it stands now, it looks like Democrats in the Senate want to pass a “clean CR” which would keep spending levels the same for another month, and allow proper time for debate and compromise with Republicans.  The GOP, on the other hand, seems only willing to accept a temporary extension if it includes some level of cuts.  Something’s got to give.  One thing’s for certain, however.  While Americans generally favor spending cuts to reduce the deficit, when it comes to specific programs, we’re actually closeted big government spenders.  In a recent Pew Survey, while fewer Americans want spending to grow in specific areas, most cuts to programs are unpopular.  Double-digit percentages of the public actually favor increased spending levels over cuts in education, veterans’ benefits, health care, medicare, combating crime, energy, scientific research, and yes, environmental protection.  In another recent survey, most Americans oppose restrictions on the EPA.

While Republicans think they have a mandate to slash the peas and carrots of our budget, perhaps they should think again and recognize that while Americans generally support spending cuts, there’s little support for ultra-partisan political posturing.  Maybe it’s about time to take a hard look at reducing that huge, gooey heap of macaroni and cheese.

Posted in Environment, Federal Deficit, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Pachyderms Extinct in the Golden State?

Posted by demkid on January 30, 2011

A few days ago, Public Policy Polling (one of the most reputable polling companies in the country) tweeted that they were considering polling California for the upcoming 2012 US Senate race between Dianne Feinstein and a Republican challenger.  They asked followers for suggestions on who should be tested against Senator Feinstein, besides recent 13-point governor loser Meg Whitman.  I thought about it for a second, and replied, “Arnold, Tom Campbell, maybe Abel Maldonado? The Republican Party is beyond dead in California.”  Others popular responses were: Steve Poizner, Darrell Issa, Kevin McCarthy, and Steve Cooley.  Frankly, if these men collectively make up the cream of California’s GOP crop, my “beyond dead” comment surely isn’t far from reality.  There’s absolutely zero chance that a conservative Republican like Darrell Issa can beat any kind of Democrat in this state in the near (and perhaps distant) future.  California is a solidly blue state where Democrats hold a substantial registration edge.  This was played out in dramatic fashion in the most recent election, where despite a significant nationwide Republican swing, GOP candidates for Governor and Senate lost by double digits, and not one Republican won a statewide office.

So, do more moderate Republicans have a chance statewide in California?  In the past, moderates in the GOP haven’t had much luck getting through primaries against more conservative opponents.  In the 2010 election for instance, Tom Campbell lost the Senate primary to Carly Fiorina by a whopping 35 points!  Would he have had a better chance against Barbara Boxer in the general election?  It’s difficult to say whether his more moderate, business-friendly message would have resonated with California voters.  (He did lose the 2000 general to Senator Feinstein by 19 points, so his track record isn’t the best.)  My other choice (besides Arnold, who said he’s done running and who couldn’t be less popular), Abel Maldonado, also lost his race for Lieutenant Governor by double digits.  He seems like a candidate who could do well in this state.  He’s young, moderate, and has a good story, as the son of immigrant farm workers who went on to grow his family’s business and become Lieutenant Governor himself.  Unfortunately for him, as long as he has an “R” after his name, those main selling points will be counteracted.  There could be some hope ahead for moderate Republicans, as California’s new open-primary law will soon take effect.  The top two finishers in the primary, regardless of party, will move onto the general election.  Supported by voters last November, this could turn out to be one of Arnold’s most significant and longest-lasting victories for fellow moderates.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

For now, though, the party of the pachyderms is on the brink of extinction in California.  Sure, as recently as 2006, some pundits thought the GOP was gone nationwide, but this was proven wrong in four short years.  If we’re just talking about one solidly blue state, however, predictions of a long-term GOP ice age could be much more accurate.  The registration edge is more dramatic, and the lack of strong candidates and a cohesive message is astounding.  A week ago, a bipartisan group of political observers, lawmakers, and strategists gathered at a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies symposium and discussed the issue:

Many of the 200 attendees at the two-day conference appeared surprisingly unified on one issue: that, barring dramatic upheaval, the GOP’s prospects may be doomed in the voter-rich Golden State.

“Republicans, as a brand, are dead,” Duf Sundheim, the former state GOP chair, told the gathering Saturday.

“We’ve become an island, a political island unto ourselves,” Thad Kousser, a political analyst from UC San Diego, said of California’s overwhelmingly blue streak in the November election.

Republicans will remain dead in California until the party “decides it won’t be hostile to people who aren’t old and white,” said Darry Sragow, interim director of the USC/Los Angeles Times Poll and a longtime Democratic strategist.

Rick Claussen, a leading GOP strategist, said that unless the grass roots and the state party change tactics – and step back from their current emphasis on conservative social issues – “we’re not going to see a Republican statewide winner in the next decade.”

Tough words for a party struggling to stay relevant in Blue California.

California Republicans: On the Slow Side

Update: The Public Policy Polling results for the CA-Sen race are out.  The title of the report is “No hope for Whitman, Fiorina, Arnold, anyone vs. Feinstein.”  Not surprising.  Senator Feinstein leads the 6 Republicans tested by between 14-34 points.  The 14-point lead is actually against Tom Campbell (my first suggestion!) and the 34-point lead is against Arnold.  All 6 Republicans had sub-30 favorability numbers.  Yikes!

Posted in California, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Misguided Blame for the Tucson Killings

Posted by demkid on January 11, 2011

I’m just going to link to an article I like, but I briefly want to say that as a moderate, I’m particularly saddened by both the shooting of a fellow moderate Democrat, and the politicking going on already on both sides of the political aisle.  From what I’ve read and heard, Congresswoman Giffords is a terrific individual.  She’s well-liked by her colleagues, seems extremely genuine, got into public service for the right reasons (to improve the lives of those she represents), and has worked to tone down the rhetoric and partisanship in this country, even sending an email to a Republican friend as recently as last Friday, seeking to collaborate on promoting centrism and moderation.  If there’s one good thing that comes out of this tragedy on a political level, I hope that this harsh rhetoric that Gabby Giffords has fought against is significantly reduced.  This means a reduction in both Sarah Palin “Target List” type materials, as well as misguided attempts by some to use those materials to score political points when no proof exists that links their existence with unfortunate catastrophes.

In the specific case of the killings in Tucson, it’s completely ridiculous to be arguing about whether Jared Lee Loughner was influenced in any way by Sarah Palin.  This is the type of crap that Congresswoman Giffords would discourage.  Instead, we need to look at how this mass killing actually happened, and how similar incidents can be reduced going forward.  This brings me to the article, written by John Cook, titled The Sad Death of Gun Control:

There is of course one thing we can squarely and firmly place the blame for these killings on, aside from Loughner himself: The handgun he used to carry them out. Arizona essentially has no gun laws. Loughner committed no crime when he purchased the gun, no crime when he loaded it, and no crime when he carried it to the Safeway. He was obviously crazy to virtually everybody who encountered him in recent months except for the dealer who sold him the gun. He was too crazy for community college, but not too crazy to buy a Glock.

The reason six people were killed on Saturday is that Loughner had access to a firearm. But a consensus has emerged that preserving access to firearms for the public at large is worth the occasional mass killing because the alternative—registering firearms, requiring competency evaluations before selling them—is too onerous. So instead we fight about whether a subsidiary reason may have involved nasty things some people said, because there is no consensus that restricting our freedom to say nasty things to and about one another is too much of a burden.

Cook argues that “a requirement in Arizona that all gun sales be accompanied by a note from a mental health professional certifying competence” would have been much more likely to prevent this incident than “a pledge from Sarah Palin to refrain from violent rhetoric.”  I completely agree.  How about a requirement that magazines hold no more than 10 bullets.  Why would anyone need 31?  It’s too bad gun control has become such a non-issue in this country, and without a strong, educated, reasonable voice from moderates like Representative Giffords, meaningful solutions to this country’s problems will continue to be overshadowed by the meaningless rhetoric on both sides.

Posted in Americana, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Results of the Election and World Cup Selections

Posted by demkid on December 2, 2010

Now that almost all of the 2010 midterm election results are official (save a congressional race in New York and the Minnesota governor’s race), I can go into a deep and meaningful analysis of all that transpired!  On second thought, it’s already been discussed many times over, so I think I’ll just brag about my stellar predictions.  My big win on November 2nd was my call in the race for California Attorney General.  I thought it was the only legitimate shot state Republicans had of winning a race in the Golden State, and felt that the final call would have to wait until after Election Night.  I was correct on both counts, as all other statewide Republicans lost, and the race was decided not just a day after voters went to the polls, but 3 weeks after they did so!  The Attorney General’s race turned out to be one of the closest in California history, as Kamala Harris defeated Steve Cooley by about 73,000 votes, 46.1%-45.3%.  I predicted a .5% win for Harris, so I think I get a gold star for that one!  Poor Steve Cooley…he claimed victory on Tuesday night only to see himself trailing when he woke up Wednesday morning.  Despite a nationwide GOP victory, California Democrats swept statewide and didn’t lose one state congressional race.  We truly are blue to the core!

As I also predicted, Jerry Brown is back in the governor’s office and Barbara Boxer is back in the US Senate, but the final margins of victory were even wider than I had anticipated.  Governor Brown creamed Meg “Don’t Call Me Margaret” Whitman by 13 points and Senator Boxer took out Carly “Don’t Call Me Cara Carleton” Fiorina by 10.  Pretty amazing.  By the way, since I’m always interested in the accuracy of polls, the big winners for these two races were the USC-LA Times Poll (Brown by 13, Boxer by 8), the Field Poll (Brown by 10, Boxer by 8), and SurveyUSA (Brown by 11, Boxer by 8).  Keep these pollsters in mind for future elections.  The big loser?  You guessed it: The Right Coast’s favorite pollster, Rasmussen!  They had Brown by 4 and Boxer by 3.  Nice try.

To conclude the predictions analysis, the California propositions all turned out the way I thought, and I get another gold star for hitting Prop. 19 (marijuana legalization) right on the nose.  I predicted a 6-point loss, and it failed by 7.  California, while blue, is not yet green.  Prop. 23 (suspending AB32) lost by 23 (I predicted 16), and Prop. 25 (majority budget vote) passed by 10 (to my 18).  My final gold star was earned for my prediction on the results for the House of Representatives.  I predicted a GOP pickup of 61 total seats.  What happened in the end? 63.  Thank you, and goodnight!  For full California election results, go here.


Now that the election is over, we can turn our attention to a voting process that is much more fair and transparent, and not underhanded at all: the selection of host countries for the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cups!  (I’m kidding on that fair stuff, by the way.)  As I write this, all 9 bidding countries have given their presentations and the announcements will be made in a matter of hours.  The 2018 World Cup is being contested between European nations, with 3 bids having any legitimate shot at winning: England, Russia, and Iberia (Spain/Portugal).  I’ve read different articles in the past week that claim to have inside information that each of these 3 bids is favored to win.  As of yesterday, Russia seemed to be the favorite with the oddsmakers, but they’ve been overtaken on announcement day by once long-time favorites England.  Currently, England is a 4/5 favorite (56% chance), Russia is at 2/1 (33%), and Iberia is at 4/1 (20%).  England clearly have the best bid out of the three as they’re basically ready to host a World Cup right now, and they haven’t hosted since 1966.  I don’t think the ability to host right now should be a big deal, though, as the event won’t take place for another 8 years.  If I were deciding, I’d actually lean towards Russia.  There’s never been a World Cup in Eastern Europe, and I think that having the event there would do the most good to the country and its people.  Plus, England has the Olympics coming up and you can’t have those two events in the same country so close to each other, right?  Oh, wait…Brazil.

As for the 2022 contest, there are also 3 main contenders.  The odds-on favorite is a huge surprise, and it’ll be a huge leap of faith if FIFA decides to go there.  I’m talking about Qatar, which is up against the United States and Australia.  Qatar is currently at 4/6 (60%!) against the US at 13/8 (38%) and Australia at 9/2 (18%).  Qatar is about the size of Connecticut, and the average summertime temperatures average about 115 degrees.  Also, there’s only one main metropolitan area where matches can be held (Doha), and the population is tiny.  However, the country is the richest in the world per capita, can put tons of money into building state-of-the-art stadiums (supposedly with air conditioning), and it would be the first World Cup in the Middle East.  Perhaps the success of the first World Cup in Africa will make it easier for the FIFA Executive Committee to choose Qatar, but I just don’t see how the two countries can be compared.  I get that FIFA wants to put the World Cup in different parts of the world, but this seems like a big stretch.  Yes, it’s 12 years from now and it could turn out to be absolutely fantastic and open the Middle East up to the world, but it’s going to take some balls for FIFA to make that call.  The safe choice, of course, is the United States.  The 1994 World Cup set records for attendance, the infrastructure is already there, it’s the most diverse country in the world and there would be no problem as far as money is concerned.  I’d love to see it here again, but is 28 years a long enough break?  England has had to wait 52, at least.  It’s in the member’s hands.  An Australian win would surprise me if it were picked over the US, but I would definitely go in 2022!  I’m going to go with the oddsmakers and say that FIFA will be lured by the money and location and pick Qatar.  How wild would that be?

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Drastic Proposals for Deficit Reduction

Posted by brightcoast on November 11, 2010

Article here regarding some drastic proposals to close the $3.8 trillion deficit gap. These include raising the retirement age to 69 over time (perhaps not unheard of for those of us in the legal profession), and introducing a flat, albeit lower, tax rate, whilst simultaneously eliminating any deductions–hence no more mortgage interest payment deductions.

While this may sound shocking, it seems an answer to the constant debate regarding tax law reform on how to simplify the annual hassle of filing taxes. This way although certain behaviors are not being incentivized, and certain individuals may no doubt lose out, it is a no brainer, you fall into one of the three categories. This is probably music to the ears of Federal Income Tax I students.

On raising the retirement, I think the outcome of this policy would result in Americans taking a long hard look at their spending habits, and would force many people to prepare for their retirement. For example, if you know that you want to retire at age 65, but the feds will not support you via Social Security until the age of 69, there is a 4 year period you will have to save up for. This author personally feels that the inadvertent and inevitable consequence of all of the well intentioned FDR support programs is that Americans have come to rely on the government, rather than themselves, and it needn’t be that way. It is perhaps for this reason that we have gotten into this mess. Social Security is definitely something that shouldn’t be done away with entirely, the need must be there to justify the continued implementation, but with the recent mortgage crisis, our country has to bounce back from the credit spending mentality, and focus on what is truly important: that which money (or credit) cannot buy.

Posted in Americana, Federal Deficit, Internal Revenue Code, Politics, Social Security, Taxes, U.S. Statutes | Leave a Comment »

California: Blue (But Not Green?) to the Core

Posted by demkid on November 1, 2010

On the eve of a potentially historic midterm election for the Republican Party, there are wild celebrations in the Bay Area, as the San Francisco Giants have won their first World Series in 56 years.  24 hours from now, it looks like some of the only significant celebrations for Democrats across the country will also be in the Bay, as Jerry Brown is poised to become only the second governor in California history to serve more than 2 terms (he’ll eventually pass Earl Warren as longest-serving ever), and Barbara Boxer will be re-elected to a new Senate with a reduced number of Democratic colleagues.

In the governor’s race, despite spending $163 million of her own fortune to bombard California voters for 18 straight months, Meg Whitman will soon be miraculously silenced.  After all of that spending (because of it?), her favorability rating winds up somewhere in the high-30s.  Pretty pathetic.  Sure, there’s a 13-point registration advantage for Democrats in California, but with all of that money and in a year which could surpass 1994 in terms of a nationwide Republican wave, it doesn’t look like she’ll be anywhere close to Governor Brown when the votes are counted tomorrow.  In the final polls (taken in the past week), her deficit is anywhere from 4-11 points, with an average of -7.  What went wrong?  People can blame this all on the housekeeper scandal, but her numbers started heading south before that news broke.  I’d say simply that the answer to that question is comfort.  Voters are more comfortable with Jerry Brown and feel like he’d be more effective at leading the largest state in the Union.  They look at Meg Whitman and in addition to the housekeeper thing, they think that she’s trying to buy the election, is out of touch with normal people, is inexperienced, doesn’t have a clear plan, hasn’t voted, etc.  Even with all of the punditry, most of the time it’s simply about comfort.

The same goes (to a lesser degree) with the Senate race.  It can be argued that Barbara Boxer is way too liberal, even for a blue state like California.  It’s going to be a big year for Republicans, but one of the most liberal Senators will survive, if only by the lower single-digits.  Unfortunately for state Republicans, their die was cast when they sent millionaire Carly Fiorina through in the June primary.  Californians can barely tolerate Babs (her favorability ratings are poor as well), but they absolutely can’t tolerate a conservative.  Fiorina is anti-choice, anti-environment, and that just won’t work in the Golden State.  Barbara Boxer won this race back in June, because while she’s extremely left-of-center, that will still always be more comfortable for Californians than someone extremely right-of-center.  Fiorina can compare herself to moderates like Dianne Feinstein all she wants, but voters haven’t been fooled.  Fiorina won the primary by referring to her opponent as a RINO, a demon sheep, but that demon sheep (Tom Campbell) was the only one who could have unseated Barbara Boxer.  Fiorina trails by 3-8.  Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight gives her a 3% chance to win tomorrow.  The Junior Senator will remain for 6 more years.

In other statewide races, it looks as if the one and only hope for Republicans is in the contest to succeed Jerry Brown as Attorney General.  There, Steve Cooley has averaged the slightest of leads over Democrat Kamala Harris.  The final verdict could have to wait on that one until well into Wednesday.  I’d be surprised if any other Republican wins a statewide contest tomorrow, but the Lt. Governor race could also be fairly close.

Here in California, we’re of course known for our propositions, and the most publicized has been, of course, Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana possession and cultivation in the state.  Leading for much of the way, the ballot measure has slipped in the final polling, and trails from anywhere between 2 and 8 points.  It doesn’t look like voters are quite ready to add a green tint to California’s blue state reputation.  The other big propositions are 20/27 (redistricting), 23 (to suspend AB32), and 25 (simple majority for budgets).  The following are the Bright Coast’s foolproof predictions for the midterms which include these measures:

CA GOV: Brown 51, Whitman 43

CA SEN: Boxer 50, Fiorina 45

CA AG: Harris 46.8, Cooley 46.3

Prop 19: 53-47 NO

Props 20/27: Prop 20 passes and puts congressional redistricting in hands of commission

Prop 23: 58-42 NO

Prop 25: 59-41 YES

US HOUSE: GOP 240, DEMS 195 (61 seats)


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The Second Coming of Sarah Palin?

Posted by demkid on June 5, 2010

The 2010 California Primary is just 3 days away, and it’s looking like it will be a night for the women, at least in the hotly-contested GOP races.  Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay, saw her once formidable 50-point lead in the GOP governor’s race slip to single digits over Steve Poizner.  However, it looks as if her tens of millions spent on bombarding Californians with annoying television commercials have done enough to stem the tide.  In the final Field Poll released yesterday, Whitman has extended her lead over Poizner to 26 points, and is ahead 51%-25%.  I’m sure we just can’t wait for more of her commercials in the next 5 months, this time attacking Governor Brown.  (She’s already started this by referring to “Sacramento politicians like Steve Poizner and Jerry Brown…”)  In any case, despite her considerable funds, I think she’ll have her ass handed to her in November, as she’ll be painted as way too conservative for California.

On the Senate side, however, I’m slightly more nervous about November’s outlook, but pleased about the pending GOP nomination.  In the final Field Poll released just this morning, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina (from now on simply referred to as “Carly!”) has opened up a large margin over her two challengers, Congressman Tom Campbell and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore.  She leads 37%-22%-19%, and looks to be headed to a short-haired showdown with Senator Boxer in November.  I say that I’m slightly nervous here, more so than in the governor’s race, primarily because of the politics of the Democratic candidate.  We all know that Barbara Boxer is one of the most liberal politicians around, but she’s become a California institution, and voters seem to be comfortable with her, even though the average person is more moderate.  Fortunately, GOP voters are selecting a conservative Republican with close ties to Sarah Palin, as opposed to the socially moderate Campbell.  Insiders know that if Campbell was the nominee, Boxer would be in serious trouble, because Campbell’s politics are likely more in line with Californian’s values.  Moderate Republicans can do well here (take Arnold, for example), but it’s been a long time since a conservative has held a significant statewide office.  Take that along with the most recent statewide registration figures which show Democrats outnumbering Republicans 45%-31%, and the challenges for a conservative in this state become clear.

While I think Boxer clearly has the edge over Carly!, I’m a little worried about the big bucks that Carly! will surely pump into her campaign in the coming months.  She also seems more likable than Meg Whitman, for example, and she definitely has a Sarah Palinesque vibe.  If you’ve seen any of her commercials lately, you get the sense that she could be the second coming of Palin (referring to herself by her first name only, for example), and the politics definitely match.  For instance, in her most recent TV ad, she refers to climate change as “the weather.” Here’s Sarah! touting Carly’s! true conservative values, like being pro-life and pro-NRA:

This is what puts me a little more at ease about the November election.  Are Californians going to elect Sarah Palin lite?  I have a seriously difficult time imagining that.  However, lots and lots of money can make any race interesting, and the “Golden Parachute Twins” are about to fall right into Californian’s collective lap.  Buckle up!

PS – Carly! also has a spotty voting record, just like Meg.  Brilliant, ladies.

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Billionaire Blues: Whitman’s Declining Fortunes

Posted by demkid on May 19, 2010

The primary season officially kicked off yesterday, with the defeat of former-Republican/now-Democrat Arlen Specter in Pennsylvania.  Here in the Golden State, we are still 3 weeks away from our set of primaries, which will determine candidates for a number of statewide offices.  The highest of these offices is, of course, governor, and the eventual victor in November will sadly be replacing our current Cauleefornia-pronouncing superhero.  I guess all good things must come to an end!  In any case, I’ve already voted absentee for our former-governor/next-governor Jerry Brown (who would break and likely keep the record for the longest-serving California governor in history), who is generally running unopposed in the Democratic primary.  The contest to face off with Governor Brown in November pits billionaire Meg Whitman against millionaire Steve Poizner, and while it didn’t look like a race for the majority of the campaign, this battle has turned into a dogfight and should be extremely entertaining in the next 20 days.

Less than 2 months ago, Whitman, the former eBay CEO, had a 50-point lead on the state Insurance Commissioner.  No, I’m not making that up.  Of course, this wasn’t too surprising, as Whitman had used million after million on TV and radio spots for quite some time, and no one really knew who Steve Poizner was.  However, in the past month, Mr. Poizner decided to start fighting.  His first set of ads were fairly weak (remember the car going over the cliff?), but fortunately someone eventually told him that he needed to get aggressive.  He pulled Whitman into an ad war about which Republican had better conservative credentials, brought up her former support of Barbara Boxer, attacked her on immigration, and is now going after her long history of non-participation at the polls.  These attacks seem to be paying off, as the latest poll in the race (by Survey USA) shows that Poizner is now within the margin of error, and trails Whitman 39-37.  An update to the 50-point gap PPIC poll comes out this week, and should give a better indication of whether Poizner’s efforts are paying off:

It will be an affirmation of a collapse of epic proportions, a $60 million machine that would be in receivership if the currency were bankable ideas. After all that cash, all those gauzy ads and marketing schemes, all that trouble to insulate Whitman and elevate her as the inevitable candidate, it’s basically back to square one. With three weeks to go.

Whitman is clearly in an uncomfortable position.  The fact that she’s a political novice is really starting to show, and this could prove troubling as she tries to hold onto her once-enormous lead.  I watched the second of two GOP primary debates recently, and was really impressed by Poizner’s performance as compared to Whitman’s.  (If you’re a junkie like myself and have some free time, you can watch the debate here.)  Her response to Poizner’s latest attacks comes in the form of a 60-second defensive TV ad which is seriously weak and probably confuses a lot of people:

Whitman folks say her own comeback started with a widely panned ad that has the former CEO of eBay looking into the camera reassuring Republican voters that she’s “working hard to defeat” Barbara Boxer, leaving open the question of who Whitman is actually running against. She also defends her position on immigration, the issue that Poizner has seized by announcing his support of the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law, and by accusing Whitman of supporting amnesty.

It’s lots of fun seeing the Whitman campaign go into panic mode.  She was so inevitable for so long, but now GOP voters are starting to pay attention to the race, and many aren’t too comfortable with what they’re seeing and hearing about her.  Will she be defeated after having put $68 million (and counting) into her own campaign and owning a 50-point lead in the polls?  It would be one of the greatest collapses in modern California politics.

Update: The new PPIC poll just came out.  It shows that Whitman’s former 50-point lead has been reduced to single digits.  She now leads Poizner 38-29 among GOP voters.  (Compare this to a 61-11 lead back in March.)  For the full report, see here.  The headline states, “Stunning Drop in Whitman’s Support Transforms GOP Race for Governor.”  No kidding.  Other interesting poll results are that Governor Brown leads Whitman by 5 points and Poizner by 13 points in hypothetical general election matchups.  The GOP Senate primary is also extremely close, with Carly Fiorina leading her opponents, Tom Campbell and Chuck DeVore, 25-23-16.  36% are still undecided.  Senator Boxer holds leads over all 3 GOP hopefuls, and has a surprising overall approval rating of 50%.

Posted in California, Election 2010, Politics | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Red, Blue, or Yellow in the UK?

Posted by demkid on April 29, 2010

Next Thursday, voters in the UK go to the polls to elect 650 Members of Parliament, who will serve in the House of Commons.  This vote comes almost 5 years to the day of the previous election that saw the Labour Party win for a third consecutive time, albeit with a reduced overall majority.  This year, things are looking even bleaker for Labour, who are now the third party in most polls, behind the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats.  However, there is hope that Gordon Brown’s party can maintain the largest number of seats in a “hung parliament,” and still hold onto key leadership positions next month.  I’ve been learning quite a bit recently about the election process in the UK, the key players involved, each party’s chances, etc., and it’s all been quite fascinating, especially for a political junkie like myself.  Elections across the pond certainly aren’t the same as elections in the States, particularly when one compares the length of the entire campaign (about a month in the UK vs. well over a year in the US).  However, there are important similarities, and certain aspects of the American process are even being mimicked over there.  First, let’s explore what this “hung parliament” is all about:

Now, according to Wikipedia, “a hung parliament is one in which no political party has an outright majority of seats.” That’s fairly normal in Germany, Italy, and the Republic of Ireland. But a hung parliament is a rarity in the United Kingdom.

The most recently elected hung parliament in the United Kingdom followed the February 1974 general election, and it lasted until the October election that year.

Many Americans, who grew up in a system of checks and balances, may not think that a hung parliament sounds like such a bad thing. But the British, who expect their government to be able to actually do things, are repelled by the very notion.

If voters in the UK are, in fact, “repelled” by the notion of a hung parliament, this will clearly favor the Conservatives, who are ahead in the polls.  There is very little chance that the Liberal Democrats, by far the smallest of the three major parties, will be able to gain enough MPs to have an outright majority of seats.  A lot of this has to do with how the electoral system in the UK is structured, and it has been a big issue in the recent Leaders’ Debates.  As in federal elections in the United States, the system for Westminster elections is first-past-the-post, that is, the candidate who gets the most votes in their individual constituency wins, regardless of whether or not they gain an outright majority (over 50%).  In a competitive 3-party system as the UK has now, first-past-the-post arguably discriminates against smaller parties (in this case, the Liberal Democrats), who don’t have the same resources as the larger parties to compete in every constituency.  As an example, the Lib Dems got 22% of the popular vote in 2005, but gained only 9% of the seats in Parliament.  Interestingly enough, the Lib Dems are likely hoping for a hung parliament, as they would then be the party to build a coalition with one of the other two main parties.  A hung parliament would also lead to a larger discussion of election reform, with may result in a different electoral system being used in future UK elections.  The Lib Dems, for instance, advocate a Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, where several constituencies are combined and voters rank the candidates.  Members are elected once they pass a certain number of votes, known as a quota.  Labour favors a system called the Alternative Vote (AV), which wouldn’t be as drastic a change as STV, but would serve to bring more legitimization into UK politics, because MPs would have to get over 50% of the vote.  For a great discussion of the various systems, and how each would affect the current Parliament make-up, see the BBC News page, here.  The BBC also has a great Election Seat Calculator, which attempts to show how seats would change in a new parliament based on percentage shares of votes, but see’s Labour Danger: Uniform Swing Calculations May Underestimate Risk to Incumbents.

As I mentioned, the Brits seem to be borrowing certain aspects of the U.S. electoral process this time around:

First, the Brits staged televised debates among the leaders of the three parties. “This abject submission to American-style politics turns British traditions upside-down and inside-out,” warned the newspaper.

Next, the Brits adopted the “Yankee innovation of instant ‘dial groups.'” So, “no sooner had the candidates ceased speaking than kibitzers in a TV studio concluded that the indisputable winner was the heretofore little-known leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg,” wrote The Boston Globe.

The New England newspaper worried that “Britain’s parliamentary system is being subverted. Thanks to practices borrowed from American presidential campaigns, a two-party race has become a three-party affair and instead of choosing a stodgy party, as they are accustomed to doing, British citizens are being asked to vote for a charismatic prime minister.”

I’ve watched two of the Leaders’ Debates, and I actually found them much more appealing than the dull presidential debates over here.  I think the thing that’s really made them work has been the interaction between the candidates.  For each question (either from the moderator or a member of the audience), each party leader was given a chance to respond, and then each had the opportunity to make a further response on that question or to something one of his opponents had said, in the same order.  The moderator generally stayed out of the discussion, and let the candidates challenge (or attempt to challenge) each other.  If there was a particular time limit for each response, I clearly wasn’t aware of it, either because the candidates were so good about keeping to the time, or it wasn’t as strict as we see here, where the moderator always seems to be cutting the candidates short.  It looks like these debates have clearly helped the Lib Dems, who have a very likable leader in Nick Clegg, and the also youngish David Cameron has also performed particularly well.  I do think that they can do without the dial/focus groups, however.

With the election now a week away and with the debates now over, we’re into the home stretch.  It looks as if Labour is in serious trouble, especially after Gordon Brown called a retired dinner lady he had talked to a “bigot,” not realizing he had a microphone on.  We’ll just have to see how well the Lib Dems can do, and if they take more votes away from Labour, or from the Conservatives.  There’s some great analysis (as per usual) by Nick Silver where he looks at various forecast models, some of which that show the Conservatives either very close to, or gaining, an overall majority in Parliament.  However, the current fivethirtyeight projection has the Conservatives at 299 seats, still 27 short of that magic number.  It’s difficult to imagine this election turning out well for Labour, but let’s hope they do just well enough (along with a strong showing by the Lib Dems) to keep the Tories from a majority.

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THE Bill.

Posted by brightcoast on March 22, 2010

I feel as though in times of heightened political excitement, those of us trained to study the law sometimes have a tendency to follow or agree with a popular perception of the thing that we need to read and interpret for ourselves. In the spirit of that sort of democracy, I present you with the following link, HR 3590

Posted in Politics, The Law, U.S. Statutes | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Bayh’s retirement

Posted by brightcoast on February 15, 2010

Link to article here. Apparently our party is worried that this will result in a GOP resurgence, which would be in accordance with the nature of the ebbs and flows that accompany attempts at major change. My concern, however,  is not which party is in power, but rather the cop out that “the system is broken,” or “there is too much partisanship.” Well Bayh, and Governor Palin, how will anything get resolved if all of you idealists and those who really are for the people abandon ship when the going gets tough? How will the up and coming generation be inspired to pursue a career in government if prominent leaders continue to proliferate the system that it’s all about party politics.

It reminds me of a piece I saw about the race in Texas, Bailey was commenting that she wants to change something or other, not unlike Meg Whitman’s ridiculous ad about the Welfare System in California. (Which by the way, I believe misses the point, if you require people on welfare to earn their GED or to get a job, who’s going to watch their children to make this happen? Will you provide them with more funds so that they can pay someone else to raise their children in the name of goals you force upon them? I’m not saying change isn’t welcome, but let’s be realistic)

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Isn’t that how the saying goes?

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