Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

My Beef with TX Gov. Rick Perry

My father and paternal grandfather are Texans.  My dad retired to North Dallas.  My brother and one of my sisters (and their families) call Texas home.  Texas has given many gifts to the rest of America, including the late Barbara Jordan (D-TX), first African-American woman elected to Congress; columnist and humorist Jim Hightower; the late journalist, columnist and humorist Molly Ivins (may she rest in peace); journalists Bill Moyers and Dan Rather; musicians like Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Buddy Holly, Ray Price, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson,  Mac Davis, Kenny Rogers, ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Roy Orbison, Freddy Fender and much more.  Texas has a raw beauty that varies widely because of the diverse geography in its large borders.  And I love Tex-Mex food.

So, believe me when I say that I am not anti-Texas.  I love much about Texas and many Texans.

Nonetheless, I currently have  a HUGE bone to pick with TX Gov. Rick Perry(R-TX).  Yeah, I get it. Texans love their independance and revere their revolutionary origins and pre-union status as a separate nation. And Texans love to talk big.  And MANY states have governors that say stupid things. I get all that and don’t hold the whole state responsible for Perry’s idiocy.  Except . . . Perry’s remarks were cheered and TX has elected him to two terms and may re-elect him to a third.  Here in KY, we threw out our corrupt moron of a governor and while I would never tell residents of another state whom to choose to represent them, Perry is not putting TX in the best light.

Last week Perry signed a resolution passed by the TX state legislature protesting the “intrusive and oppressive” federal government and asserting the state’s “sovereignty.”  (Claiming that the 10th Amendment gives states the right to secede.  The resolution called for the repeal of all federal legislation that attached criminal penalties if states failed to follow through!!) Excuse me? State sovereignty?  That was settled–at great cost in blood, tears, and treasure–with the U.S. Civil  War!!  (See also the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1869 that secession was not only illegal, but treasonous in a court case coincidentally called Texas v. White!) Also, my childhood memories are filled with Southern  politicians proclaiming “state sovereignty.”  It was code for: “We like racial segregation and plan to keep it and the feds better just leave us alone or we’ll kill Yankee FBI agents and civil rights activists!” And they meant it.

Then, yesterday, Perry spoke to cheering crowds at a tax-protesting “tea party” and suggested that Texas might just secede from the U.S.A.  Excuse me?  That’s sedition, Gov. Perry.  If a governor had said that when Bush was president, he’d already be in Gitmo under the Patriot Act.  But, hey, I don’t want a 21st C. Civil War. America and the world have enough problems.  So, lets suppose that Texas votes to secede and the govt. let’s it happen?  There would be losses for both sides, but I think Texas would lose more.  Sure, we’d miss the oil revenue and the great sports teams and the music, but look at all that Texas would miss if it separated.

  • Last month, Gov. Perry accepted $17 billion in economic recovery money.  (Did the federal government seem oppressive and intrusive when it sent in that money, Gov. Perry?) We’d want that back with interest. We could divide it among other states needing more help and wanting to be part of America.
  • And TX receives $.88 back from every dollar of federal taxes it sends to the government (as opposed to Minnesota which only gets $.4o back or Deleware which only receives $.35).  To make up for that loss, Gov. Perry would have to find other sources of state revenue:  Either raising taxes on oil companies or property or sales or income.
  • Since TX would no longer be part of the U.S., we’d need to remove all our military bases (and the income they generate for TX communities) and redistribute them in other states (construction jobs, etc. created for other states at TX expense). 
  • We’d also have to remove our U.S. Border Patrol agents, so the Mexican Drug Cartels would have to be handled without them–and without the FBI.
  • A nd Houston, you have a problem. You know your NASA control center which is such a large employer? Well, as the name “NATIONAL Aeronautics and Space Administration” suggests, that’s a U.S. federal agency. It would have to be removed and relocated, if TX secedes.  I’m sure that Michigan would appreciate all the new high tech jobs.
  • An independent TX would have to recreate all the federal agencies you take for granted, from the Food and Drug Association to the Environmental Protection Agency–more taxes for Gov. Perry to raise without U.S. help.
  • And although TX has some very fine universities, its public schools are pretty bad. So, cutting them loose would raise U.S. national testing scores overnight!
  • Current TX unemployment is 6.5%–and TX would have to find its own job creating economic recovery without federal help.
  • And the next time a hurricane strikes or a wildfire breaks  out, TX would not be able to count on aid from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  But maybe the U.S. would give foreign aid to our neighbor Lone Star Country.

Still think the federal government is so “oppressive and intrusive” that TX might be “forced to secede?” If it did, I predict that within 6 months, TX would be BEGGING to return to the U.S., would  no longer feel the federal government to be “intrusive and oppressive,”–and would return to the U.S. WITHOUT Rick Perry as governor.

Yeah, Perry was just spouting off to a rightwing crowd.  But words like “sovereignty” and “secession” have meanings. No elected government official should spout them lightly just to score political points.  And the good people of TX should think long and hard about the consequences of secession (and the PRIVILEGE of being American) and then let their governor know how they feel about him speaking nonsense.

UPDATE: It turns out that EIGHT states have passed or pending resolutions about their “sovereignty” and nearly every state has a fringe element urging secession. The element sometimes is associated with Republicans, but often to rightwing groups  like the armed Alaska  Independence Party to which Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband, Todd, is a member. (Yes, the GOP nominee for VICE PRESIDENT is married to someone who wants Alaska to secede from the U.S.) But a Canadian friend emailed me with perspective:  To the extent that Republicans like Palin and Perry and others flirt with secessionists, they will further alienate themselves from the mainstream. Quebec has had a major party that continuously urges secession from Canada:  It’s not a strategy that ever wins them national elections.  Good point. If Republicans become associated with secessionists, they will further place themselves in a fringe minority–further becoming a regional,  rather than national party.  This is NOT a way out of the political wilderness, but further in it.  Still ticks me off. After all, so much for “country first.”


April 16, 2009 - Posted by | social history, U.S. politics


  1. Perry isn’t going to get to first base in the next election. He’s got a BIG problem. Republican Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is running against him. She is extremely popular here. He won with 30% of the vote last time around. The guy’s a moron and everyone knows it. He’s history.

    Comment by Marty | April 16, 2009

  2. KBH has not yet officially entered the governor’s race. If she does, Houston mayor Bill White (D-TX) has a good shot at her senate seat, but do the Dems have anyone to run for gov. after KBH and Perry beat up on each other?

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 16, 2009

  3. Let’s not forget Michael, the Alamo and about a dozen other national parks that belong to the US. If Texas wants to keep the Alamo and these parks, they’d have to pay fair market value (and what price do we place on an historic site like the Alamo?). That could probably go a long way towards paying off our national debt.

    Hey, this could be a win-win situation. Texas pays for all this federal property and, in turn, they can have Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich and the wacky edge of the wacky Right.

    Where do I send a check to support this cause???

    Comment by Dan Trabue | April 16, 2009

  4. Let’s see, Texans who want to keep U.S. citizenship would have to apply for passports and visas to live in TX. GW Bush would either have to move or give up his Secret Service detail–they can only travel out of the country for brief periods.

    All those U.S. interstate highways? Their repair would be a strictly Texan problem.

    We could continue like this for some time. Someone should tell Perry.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 16, 2009

  5. “GW Bush would either have to move or give up his Secret Service detail–they can only travel out of the country for brief periods.”

    Hey I heard if Bush travels outside the country he might get arrested and tried in a world court for war crimes.

    Hmmm….maybe secession isn’t such a bad idea after all.

    Comment by Marty | April 16, 2009

  6. Well, let’s leave aside this silly comment: “That’s sedition, Gov. Perry. If a governor had said that when Bush was president, he’d already be in Gitmo under the Patriot Act.”

    My question is, what are you complaining about. You are a pacifist. So what are you gonna do about it? If Texas wants to go its own way, what are yo gonna do, send in Habitat for Humanity or Christian Peacemaker teams to prevent them. Or will you violate everything you believe and send in the 82nd Airborne to kill a few Texans to get those white, trash rednecks in line.

    W-W–your own pacifist position is more incoherent and wacko than the sessisionists to whom you claim superiority. Talk about “morons”!

    Comment by Jack | April 16, 2009

  7. I thought Hutchison had already thrown her hat in. My bad. If she runs, she’ll win.

    Comment by Marty | April 16, 2009

  8. So what are you gonna do about it?

    Just because some of us lean pacifistic does not mean we don’t believe in law and order. If someone violates law, we’re fine with arresting them and charging them with a crime.

    Comment by Dan Trabue | April 16, 2009

  9. Governor Good Hair is just rallying his right-wing base for his upcoming Primary fight. Kay Bailey is having a series of campaign kick-off parties over the next couple of weeks – one of which is being held in Waco.

    And some of these numbers about the Tea Parties have been seriously inflated. Popular Republican blogger and twitterer Patrick Ruffini reported yesterday that 8,000 people attended the Tea party. I drove by the Tea Party on my way to lunch yesterday. There were maybe 200-300 mostly old white retired men at the Party. Only a Big 12 basketball game or football game could draw 8,000 folks out in Waco. Hillary, McCain and Huckabee all drew maybe 1500-2000 folks to their campaign rallies here last Spring.

    Back to Good Hair, his days are numbered as our Governor. The turnout for the Republican Primary will be huge. Dems and Independents will cross over to vote for Kay Bailey.

    Comment by Big Daddy Weave | April 16, 2009

  10. The Southern states never took the issue of secession to the Supreme Court prior to the Civil War. It would be a major case regardless of the outcome. And Texas is not without resources. Texas could even become a part of Mexico again. The La Raza folks would love it. Hey, there is even a secession element in Alaska and Vermont. Think about it !!

    Comment by Paul | April 16, 2009

  11. “Claiming that the 10th Amendment gives states the right to secede.”

    Could you point out where that claim is? I don’t see it in the resolution.

    Also, is it true that Gov. Perry said Texas might be “forced to secede?” I can’t find that.

    Sorry you don’t like overall structure of the Constitution.

    Comment by K Gray | April 16, 2009

  12. Texas isn’t going to secede. Even Perry doesn’t think it’s a good idea. He’s all mouth, nothing more. Most of us Texans ignore him.

    Comment by Marty | April 16, 2009

  13. Jack, you can’t read. I said I would LET TX secede, that I didn’t want a civil war. I just said that TX is better off in the U.S. than outside it and it should realize it.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 16, 2009

  14. Paul, it was AFTER the Civil War in 1869 that the Supreme Court ruled against the legality of secession in Texas v. White.

    Aaron, Marty, I know that Perry is all mouth. But I get furious at Republicans claiming they put “country first” and questioning everyone else’s patriotism and then spouting this nonsens.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 16, 2009

  15. I say, let them go! Why not? Just kidding, but . . .

    Comment by Bob Cornwall | April 16, 2009

  16. Yes Michael that was in 1869 not prior to 1861. Who can say how the Supreme Court might have ruled then, but it is a moot point now. And remember what may seem impossible today may happen down the road.Witness history if you need proof of what I am saying.

    Comment by Paul | April 16, 2009

  17. ya can’t get too upset about words like “sovereignty.” The schoolkids and legislators of Kentuckey say it every day:

    “I pledge allegiance to the Kentucky flag, and to the Sovereign State for which it stands, …”

    Comment by K Gray | April 17, 2009

  18. K, The schoolchildren in MY daughters’ schools say no such thing! First of all, my children are Christians and do not make pledges which we count as oaths. Jesus forbade us to make oaths in the Sermon on the Mount. So my kids don’t say the pledge to the U.S. flag.

    Second, I have never even HEARD of a pledge to the KY flag and I have visited numerous classrooms as an involved parent. If such a pledge exists, it is clearly unconstitutional and should be thrown out. (KY had a “state sedition” law that was thrown out as unconstitutional in 1965.)

    Under the Articles of Confederation, the separate states were “sovereign.” They are not since we adopted the U.S. Constitution. This is a UNION, not a Confederacy.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 17, 2009

  19. The Kentucky Pledge of Allegiance

    (KRS 2.035)

    “I pledge allegiance to the Kentucky flag,
    and to the Sovereign State
    for which it stands,
    one Commonwealth,
    blessed with diversity,
    natural wealth, beauty,
    And grace from on High.”

    Comment by K Gray | April 17, 2009

  20. Well, K. All I can say is you’ve managed to uncover a pledge that, as far as I can tell, no schoolchild in Jefferson County Public Schools has ever hear of–and probably none of the educators either. What year was that passed?

    Also, this is nitpicking. Perry CLEARLY meant to flirt with secession (though he tried to have it both ways in an interview) and his cheering crowd of un-Patriotic (no other word possible for those who want to secede) morons took him that way. They yelled, “Secede!” happily in his midst–and he didn’t correct them.

    Again, if any governor had given such a speech while Bush was still pres., they’d ALREADY have been arrested and sent off to one of those secret “Black Site” CIA prisons that were just shut down!

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 17, 2009

  21. 2000. Official state pledge of Kentucky. Part of KRS “TITLE I – SOVEREIGNTY AND JURISDICTION OF THE COMMONWEALTH.”

    He corrected (backtracked) today.

    Comment by K Gray | April 17, 2009

  22. I voted for Obama and I am not ashamed to say so. That being said,I did not vote for the people who advize him or seek to promote various agendas. And I have to admit that there seems to be a trend towards more government control of various entities. George Orwell warned us about BIG BROTHER – I hope that it doesn’t come to that after all is said and done. Government cannot legislate morality or what goes on between a person’s ears.

    Comment by Paul | April 17, 2009

  23. Unless, “between their ears,” they are planning a bombing or a murder or a beating or some similar crime, of course. And that would be a morality, would it not?

    Comment by Dan Trabue | April 17, 2009

  24. Paul, I have not liked everything I have seen in the Obama administration, but I saw a far more Orwellian scenarios during the 8 previous years. Dan, I don’t think you are being fair to Paul.

    K, the year explains much about that stupid pledge you’ve uncovered here in KY. The Fletcher admin. I should’ve known. I’m glad its mostly ignored as far as I can tell.

    And I am not surprised that Rick Perry backtracked. I expected it. He was never serious about secession. He was and is playing toward a rightwing fringe, hoping to win a primary against Kay Baily Hutchison (who is still not OFFICIALLY a candidate for TX gov.) by running to her right.
    But he didn’t apologize for unpatriotically suggesting that TX leave the “oppressive and intrusive” federal union.

    It doesn’t lessen my anger. I have had YEARS of Republicans telling me that I am unpatriotic if I even QUESTIONED their precious George W. Bush. He put people into “free speech zones” so he wouldn’t even see any protest signs. (I was raised to believe AMERICA was a free speech zone!) For these super-patriots to now suggest secession angers me as little else can.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 17, 2009

  25. Dan, I don’t think you are being fair to Paul.

    Perhaps I was misunderstood. Let me explain:

    I hear people saying things like “Government cannot legislate what goes on between a person’s ears,” when talking about hate crimes, suggesting that motivation and planning ought not be significant considerations in prosecution of crimes. I always like to point out that we DO legislate against some actions that are innately internal, and rightfully so.

    Comment by Dan Trabue | April 17, 2009

  26. Michael I understand your anger. And I think it is justified. Whether Hutchison runs or not, Perry is still history. 70% of voters didn’t want him in the last election. I’m sure it’s more than that now, especially since his stupid remarks. Quite frankly I’m glad he has shown to the world what an ass he is.

    Comment by Marty | April 17, 2009

  27. I am in favor of legislation that helps to improve people’s lot in life e.g.civil rights legislation. However, the fact remains that for a person to change his,or her, viewpoint or attitude that has to be a personal choice not a legislated one. A choice made of one own free will tends to have a certain permanence.

    Comment by Paul | April 17, 2009

  28. I am from Texas, and I would like to say, outloud, so everyone can hear, that I think Rick Perry is an idiot. He clearly has aspirations of higher office and is trying to raise a stink to get noticed by the nutjobs in the Republican party. Some people cheered at his rally, but these are the same groups that could be seen at Palin rallies in Florida during the campaign. In short, there are morons in the electorate of all states.

    I would also like to say that not all Texans think this way. About 45% of our electorate voted for Obama; a greater percentage than, I believe, at least 12 other states. Most people I know wanted to impeach GW Bush, and were angry that the Congress never did its job on this matter. He is not popular wholesale.

    While true there are many who still like him, that can be said of the whole country. I mean, he did get re-elected in 2004. Our bad luck is that he claims to be from here, and his leftover disciple still holds office.

    I pray that people can get off the fence and vote for substance over style next time. This whole thing makes me sick and makes many good people here look foolish.

    Believe me we are the angriest of all..

    Go Obama!

    Comment by Dignan | April 18, 2009

  29. “In short, there are morons in the electorate of all states.” Truer words were never spoken and I happen to live in the state that was the VERY FIRST red state called for McCain on election night. Obama won my city and county–and that’s about it. And K. has pointed out (though I think she meant it as a defense of this sovereignty nonsense instead of as an indictment) that apparently KY has “sovereign” claims–or did in 2000. And I pointed out how much I like Texas and how much smarter Texans are than “Gov. Goodhair” as the late Molly Ivins called him.

    I’m not mad at people for wishing Obama lost. People who lose elections are always upset that the other side won. I’m not mad at protests–that’s the American way, although these protests were disorganized and had no coherent message–but I have seen that on the Left before, plenty of times. (It always frustrates me. I want disciplined, on-message, public actions that are effective–not just make participants feel good while observers laugh. At least, that’s what I want in protests I’m part of and I would think those in movements I don’t support would feel the same, but I could be wrong.)

    I’m glad that many Texans are mad at Perry’s rhetoric. One reason I wrote was to stir up Texans! I hope you turn your anger into effective action, too. (BTW, Bush only won 54% of Texas in ’04–so even then, that rightwing extremism was hardly characteristic of the entire state.)

    What particularly ticked me off was the implied (and later spelled out and still later coyly played both ways) threat of secession. My whole adult life Republicans have claimed that EVERYONE ELSE (Democrats, liberals, socialists, hippies, Blacks, Jews, people in “fake America,” peace people, people against torture, etc.) are NOT AS PATRIOTIC AS THEY ARE! I grew up seeing Republicans shout out “America: Love it or Leave it!” (with no clue that love for country miight lead some to want to change it, to reform it, to hold it to its ideals). And the Republican National Convention theme of last year was “Country First,” but when they lose and their views are no longer in the majority, suddenly they threaten to SECEDE, to split up the country??? And they have the NERVE to say anything about MY patriotism????????!!! There is LOYAL opposition and then there is sedition and treason. NOT THE SAME THING.

    So, yeah. Dignan, I’m glad there are lots of Texans who are ticked off at Perry. I will continue to be mad at ANY governor or elected official in ANY state that talks “sovereignty” or “secession.”

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 18, 2009

  30. You can also be ticked at the Supreme Court.

    “Although the Constitution grants broad powers to Congress, our federalism requires that Congress treat the states in a manner consistent with their status as residuary sovereigns and joint participants in the governance of the nation…. Federal control of state governmental processes denigrates the separate sovereignty of the states….When Congress legislates in matters affecting the states, it may not treat these sovereign entities as mere prefectures or corporations.” (and so forth)

    – Alden v. Maine (1999), opinion by Justice Kennedy.

    Comment by K Gray | April 18, 2009

  31. […] secede. (I think if TX newspapers spelled out some of the consequences of secession that I listed here, the number wanting to secede would probably dwindle to less than 1% VERY […]

    Pingback by More Proof that Texans Are Smarter Than Their Gov. « Levellers | April 18, 2009

  32. K., NOTHING this administration has done violates that decision or the Constitution. Unlike, say, Karl Rove (while employed by Pres. Bush) subborning perjury to get Don Siegelman convicted of fraud when all he was really guilty of was being a Democratic governor of Alabama. (Really, check the case out. The prosecutorial misconduct in the Siegelman case was VASTLY greater than that in the Ted Stevens case–although it was the same Bush inJustice Dept.)

    But if, IF mind you, any state felt that it was being treated unConstitutionally by the U.S. government, then the proper action would be to take the case to the federal courts, rather than threaten to secede.

    It sounds to me, K. like you are in sympathy with the secessionists. If that is so, then you are quite welcome to move elsewhere–as every rightwinger told me all during the Reagan years, the Bush I years, and most definitely, the Bush II years. May I suggest Somalia: VERY limited government, very LOW taxes and plenty of guns.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 19, 2009

  33. Slow down. I will try one more time.

    1. I did not suggest or imply that this administration has violated the Constitution. That Aldine case merely explains the legal concept of state sovereignty. It says that states are sovereign entities as a matter of Constitutional law.

    2. Secession: Not good. Not patriotic. Silly.

    3. State sovereignty: Is the law of the land, as stated in the Alden case and many others. Federalism, as set up in the Constitution, balances federal power (expressed
    and implied) with the powers reserved to the states as sovereign entities. If you read the Aldine opinion (it’s very short), it’s a good example of the fed. trying to overstep its bounds against a state’s sovereign immunity, and losing.

    Ky. pledge (passed unanimously by the Ky. leg.) – I chose that not to inflame you but to provide a simple example of how state sovereignty is embedded in law and practice throughout the land.

    States are sovereign, but fed. power has grown. It grew under Bush (e.g., No Child Left Behind – education is typically w/in state power). There was pushback then — against “unfunded mandates” — and there is pushback now. It will probably backfire, as Marty noted.

    I came here to learn, not to be snarky. Dialogue is good, although difficult to maintain.

    Again, I wish you well.

    Comment by KGray | April 19, 2009

  34. K., No Child Left Behind was bad education law, but not an overstepping of federal bounds.

    I insist that the new popularity for the term “sovereignty” is code. In the ’60s it was code for “we can be segregationist if we want to be.” Now, it’s code for “we want federal help but with no strings attached” as if strings were ever not attached to money. Further, it is a way to flirt with secession while claiming otherwise.

    I am also against unfunded mandates–although leaving the money behind is only part of what was wrong with NCLB.

    Federal power always grows as problems grow that only the fed can handle. If the states could handle their current problems on their own, they wouldn’t need state help.

    States were only really “sovereign” under the Articles of Confederation. Especially post Civil War with the passage of the 13th, 14th, & 15th Amendments, the states are no longer “sovereign.” Federalism still exists, but is much weaker since then—rightwing judges notwithstanding.

    And Perry and Co. are not expressing legitimate fears of federal overreach, but are just flirting with the secessionist for political purposes.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 19, 2009

  35. OK. My law degree notwithstanding (I’m retired), it’s your blog.

    Comment by K Gray | April 19, 2009

  36. Well, I’m not a lawyer. So, let me open this up. Readers who are U.S. lawyers, is K. Gray right? I heard many lawyers this weekend claiming that Perry opened himself up to charges of sedition. But are states really “sovereign entities” as K. Gray claims? Are their legitimate federalist challenges to the stimulus package or even to the (admittedly bad education law) No Child Left Behind?

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | April 20, 2009

  37. […] Levellers added an interesting post on My Beef with TX Gov. Rick PerryHere’s a small excerptMy father and paternal grandfather are Texans.  My dad retired to North Dallas.  My brother and one of my sisters (and their families) call Texas home.  Texas has given many gifts to the rest of America, including the late Barbara Jordan (D-TX), first African-American woman elected to Congress; columnist and humorist Jim Hightower; the late journalist, columnist and humorist Molly Ivins (may she rest in peace); journalists Bill Moyers and Dan Rather; musicians like Bob Wills and the Texas Playbo […]

    Pingback by Topics about Toronto-schools | My Beef with TX Gov. Rick Perry | April 21, 2009

  38. Hey at least he has the balls to stand up for the right of the state to govern itself within its own borders! Montana has it right and so does Texas. The rest of you should try to elect Governers that have some balls as well. Try to do so before we lose all our rights!

    Comment by Richard | July 5, 2009

  39. Screw him. If he the unpatriotic jerk has the audacity to utter such treasonous words again, the FBI should arrest him on the spot. Secession is treason and sedition. Look it up. The 14th Amendment settled that “states rights” nonsense.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | July 5, 2009

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