Tag Archives: 2012 presidential election

Obama Wins….Now the Real Work of Healing the Wounds Must Begin

“We are an American family and we rise together or fall as one people.” President Obama victory speech

The 2012 Presidential race is finally over and Barak Obama has been projected to be re-elected to serve as President of the United States. Likewise the Democrats held on and expanded their majority in the Senate, something that not long ago was expected to flip to a Republican majority while the Republicans as expected held on to the House of Representatives, though they lost a few seats.

The fact that the election demonstrates despite the victory of President Obama and gains of the Democrats in both the House and Senate that the country is still deeply divided. In fact I have not seen such division and bitterness in my lifetime. That being said the fact that in key battleground states Republican extremists in Senate races like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock have been soundly defeated.

The challenges that we face as Americans remain. We have the “Fiscal Cliff” that has to be avoided at all costs, we have a war going on in Afghanistan that no one is paying any attention to that needs to be dealt with even as more wars threaten in the region. There is the Euro crisis, there is the effect of Hurricane Sandy on our own people and those are just the tip of the iceberg.

If we want to survive as a nation we have to deal with all of these issues as adults and as a nation of different interests

For the hardliners on both sides of the aisle this may be tough to stomach but the good of the country as a whole comes before the single issues of any of us. There are far too many challenges for us not to pull together.

As for the future the election shows that demographics matter. If they want to remain a credible party the Republicans need to recognize that the population demographics of the country have changed. The moves of Republicans in various state governments to attempt to marginalize Americans that are of different color and economic backgrounds backfired big. Latinos came out in huge numbers for Obama in large measure due to the comments of Romney and others in the GOP and comments by Romney about the 47% hurt his campaign bad.

But even with changing demographics there was the fact that Americans expect their leaders to behave like adults. Actions and comments by some Evangelical Christians and some Tea Party candidates killed Republican chances to win back the Senate and cost them seats in the House.  Some of these candidates said and did such nutty things that they lost Senate and House seats that the Republicans should have maintained.

Donald Trump and his merry band of “Birthers” and conspiracy theorists discredited their own cause by the outlandishness if their charges.

The aversion of regular people on both sides of the aisle to the shear obscene amounts of money being spent by a very few individuals such as the Koch Brothers and Sheldon Adelson through Super-Pacs which made it look like a few people were going to buy the election was also a factor.

Unfortunately some of these same people such as Donald Trump are now calling for “revolution” echoing some crazies who have been advocating the same thing for years. I’m taking about the Timothy McVeigh types that blow up Federal Buildings and kill fellow Americans. I’m sorry it is time for grown ups in both parties to take charge. We live in a dangerous world and there are many things that can threaten us, economic problems in Europe, Iranian and Israeli tensions, other danger zones in the Middle East, the South China Sea, natural disasters, you name it problems are are rife in the world and as Abraham Lincoln said “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.”

This is not a Republican or Democrat issue anymore. The election is decided. It was a close election but it is over. It looks like Obama won both the popular vote by a narrow margin as well as having scored 303-332 electoral votes depending on the final call in Florida which Obama leads. Mitt Romney set the tone for healing tonight in a gracious and seemingly heartfelt concession speech emphasizing the need for Americans to come together and “put the people before the politics.” I couldn’t put it better myself.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The 2012 Election: I Hope…

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Vaclav Havel

I hope that no matter who wins the Presidential election that somehow we as a people will be able to lay aside the hatred of the past four years and work together for the common good of all of us…

I hope that people who were friends and family before this campaign began, but have cut ties with each other will be reconciled to one another…

I hope that whoever wins will win in a manner that is clean and undisputed and that there are no controversies that tie up the courts, the electoral system and emotional energy of the country…

I hope that whoever loses no matter what the electoral race or political party will be gracious in defeat…

I hope that whoever wins, no matter what the electoral race or political party will be magnanimous in victory…

I don’t know about you, but I am tired of the hatred, arrogance and pettiness exhibited by so many people of every political party, but even more those that call themselves “Christian” and I hope that Christians will finally demonstrate actual love and grace in dealing with people that they disagree…

I hope… I guess that means that I haven’t given up…

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Night Before the Election to Nowhere…Or Maybe Not

 

“It is something great and greatening to cherish an ideal; to act in the light of truth that is far-away and far above; to set aside the near advantage, the momentary pleasure; the snatching of seeming good to self; and to act for remoter ends, for higher good, and for interests other than our own.” Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

After nearly 20 months of unrelenting campaigning, electioneering, political spin and abject hatred and lies the 2012 General Election is upon us. It is hard to believe that regardless of who wins the election that in under 48 hours the 2016 race for the White House will begin as will the 2014 Congressional mid-term races. If you liked all the division and hatred of the past tow years, actually four years if you want to get technical then you will love what happens next.

Actually you probably won’t love it, that is just a euphemism to say that you will hate it. You see what probably happens tomorrow is that regardless of who wins the Presidency that we will still have a deeply divided government. The Democrats will most likely keep the Senate, maybe thanks to some of the idiots that the GOP is running may even pick up seats. Likewise though the GOP will probably retain control of the House they may lose seats. So if Romney wins he will have less power in the Congress and if Obama wins he may actually have more leverage.

The truth is that in such a situation we can either continue the gridlock and eventually implode as a nation or we can make the painful decision that we have to work together in order to save the country. That is a hard decision for people who have invested themselves in doing everything they can to win at all costs. The sad thing is that there are a lot of people in this country that really don’t care anymore, it is either their way or the highway, so they will do anything that they can to ensure that people can’t vote or to delegitimatize the opposition.

It is really a dreadful state of affairs that we have found ourselves in. The economy is still not doing that well, we have much of our military committed to a war that cannot be won in Afghanistan even as some American leaders seek out new wars for American troops to die in, wars that they or their children will never have to serve. Wars that Marine Corps General Smedley Butler called a “racket” in which only the war profiteers profit from. Religious zealots led by men like David Barton, Ralph Reed and Glenn Beck seek to establish a theocracy that the Taliban would be proud to call their own.

I would hope that whoever wins the election that somehow Americans can overcome the poisonous atmosphere of the past four years which unfortunately has been germinating for more than 20 years. The sad thing is that both parties have had a lot to do with the situation as they have prostituted themselves to business and other special interests, economic, social and even religious. Few have worked for reconciliation and those of moderate leanings have been marginalized by the extremists.

To think that tomorrow’s election will change that calculous is a fantasy. I really don’t know what it will take to change the political climate. I know what needs to happen. I also know that on November 7th the Politicians, Pundits and Preachers, the Unholy Trinity that support the destruction of the country for the sake of their agendas and their profits will continue to attempt to divide the rest of us to the best of their ability. But it doesn’t have to be that way…

The key to ending this fratricide is to stop the idiocy. On November 7th regardless of who wins start respecting each other and working together. One thing that our system was revered around the world for was that in spite of differences for the most part we could find ways to get through events and crisis that have destroyed other countries. However, if we don’t start working together we will destroy this country and it will be all of our fault.

Abraham Lincoln understood this when in in his Second Inaugural Address in the closing days of our bloody and terrible Civil War he spoke these words:

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

So until tomorrow…

Peace

Padre Steve+

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My Goodness My Vote Almost Got Suppressed and I’m a White Guy: Not that it Will Matter Anyway…

The Legislators of West Virginia made a change to Absentee voting that had I not bothered to make a phone call that I would not have noticed. Absentee voters must now make a new absentee ballot application every election. Local, primary, or general.

It is not like before where if you voted in the primary and are a legally qualified registered voter, of whom most are military that you would automatically would get your General election ballot. Now you can go and vote in the primary and unless you realize that the West Virginia legislature changed the law and requires you to register for every election, even if they are less than 6 months apart and think that you will get to vote in the general election you will be sorely disappointed. You will not get a ballot. You will not be able to vote.  For all practical purposes you will be denied the your only chance to have a say in who runs the country. Unless per chance you are someone like the Koch Brothers or Sheldon Adelson who can spend hundreds of millions of dollars to buy candidates at the Federal level and any state that you please thanks to Citizens United. If you are someone like that you don’t even need to bother to vote, you simply bury candidates that you don’t want in office by financing anywhere in the country, even if you don’t live in those congressional districts or states.

Now in my case I didn’t notice the change to the absentee ballot application. I have been on active duty either as a mobilized Army Reservist or Active Duty Navy Officer and away from my home of record since 1996. I have never had a problem voting, until now. With two weeks to go before the election I wondered why my wife and I hadn’t gotten our absentee ballots. Now we are a mixed marriage, she is a Republican and I am a Democrat but neither of us got our ballots.

So I made a phone call to my country clerk office who told me that though I was a registered voter I was not getting an absentee ballot. I was horrified. I was told that I could have them send a new application or go online to request an absentee ballot. I was pissed. I asked what happened and was told that the rules had changed. I asked who changed the, the legislature? and was told that they are always changing the  election laws. I told the lady that I would go online to get my application and that I thought that it was a case of voter suppression because had I not bothered to call I would not have been able to vote.

Not that my vote will really matter anyway, but it is the principle. When it comes to the Presidential election West Virginia is redder than my ass after consuming too many habanero peppers. If I vote for the white guy, it doesn’t matter. If I vote for the black guy in the White House it doesn’t matter. If I vote for a third party candidate it does’t matter. The voters of West Virginia which at the local level is overwhelmingly Democrat will vote for the white guy that is not in the White House. That was shown in the Democrat primary when a convicted felon in the Federal prison at Beaumont Texas got more than 40% of the vote against President Obama.

I am now voting out of the principle that Americans should be allowed to vote not that I expect that my vote in my red State will matter one bit. The reason why is that only votes of the voters in a few “swing states” really matter.  Some states are so “Red” or so “Blue” that when it comes to voting for the President your vote really doesn’t matter. Both political parties have so gerrymandered congressional districts and state legislature districts to ensure that their guys are pretty much safe. So if you are a voter who is of the party that is not of the incumbent then for the most part you have a losing vote. As far as the presidency, forget it. If you are a Democrat in West Virginia that votes for Obama, or a Republican in California that votes for Romney you are screwed because unless you have a lot of money to donate to other races in other places your one vote won’t matter in an electorate that is as bitterly dived as ours.

I will vote. But since my vote doesn’t matter to either campaign because I don’t live in Ohio, Virginia, Florida Wisconsin or Colorado I am simply going to ignore the rest of the election season the best that I can. I am so tired of the partisanship and enmity that I just don’t care anymore. Well screw it, I do care otherwise I wouldn’t write about it.

But the fact is unless you live in a swing state or a contested congressional district your vote doesn’t matter a bit to the professional political politicians, pundits and preachers, or dare I say prostitutes of either party your vote doesn’t matter a hill of beans. Unless… you and I decide like William Holden in the movie Network stand up and say I’m mad as hell and not going to take it anymore and vote to upset the status quo.

The fact is that the most conservative and most liberal parts of both parties are too entrenched and invested in their special interests and issues to give a damn about the rest of the country and I say a pox on all of them. If I wanted to be a part of a party that only voted along party lines and refuses to compromise I would move to a country with a parliamentary system like England.

I am mad as hell and after almost losing my vote because of unpublicized changes in election law and I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of me anymore. That’s why I’m an American.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Barry Goldwater was Right: Religious Leaders Endanger American Democracy

“[I]n our country are evangelists and zealots of many different political, economic and religious persuasions whose fanatical conviction is that all thought is divinely classified into two kinds — that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous.” — Justice Robert H Jackson, American Communications Assn. v. Douds, 339 US 382, 438; 70 SCt. 674, 704 (1950)

There is just over a month remaining before the 2012 Presidential Election. The campaign on both sides has been marked by distortions and lies as are most campaigns, but the most troubling aspect to me is the behavior of many professed Christians that are leaders of the religious right who seem to be more interested in their own interests than the interests of other Americans. All pretense has been thrown away this is not about Jesus, nor is it about the American principle of religious freedom, it is about conservative Christians of various denominations seeking to dominate through political means people that they have failed to convert with their message.

Unfortunately the political climate of the country is now dominated by the most extreme factions. Politicians and politically minded preachers, especially those of the religious right are using their “faith” to fuel animus against President Obama and before his nomination Mitt Romney to further their political aims.

I am a Christian and a Priest in a small Old Catholic denomination. I am a graduate of a premier Evangelical Protestant Seminary where I came to appreciate and revere religious liberty. What I am going to write today may offend some but it has to be said. I believe that the cause of religious liberty, and for that matter the liberty of the Christian Church to be faithful to its call and unencumbered by unseemly political alliances is in danger due to the actions of people that in many cases honestly believe that they are defending religious liberty. Justice Robert Jackson prosecuted the major Nazi War criminals at Nuremberg and was able to view the results of what happened when churches that entered into such alliances.

Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham and others too numerous to mention have said that President Obama was a Moslem without saying it flat out. Until he became the nominee many of these same leaders attacked Mitt Romney is not a Christian and a “member of a religious cult.”

Likewise people like Rick Santorum and some political preachers have compared the President to Adolf Hitler. When Santorum was asked about this by reporters during the primaries said that he “didn’t mean anything by his comments.” Give me a break. If you compare any American politician to Hitler it is not something that “you don’t mean.” It is an attempt to compare your opponent with one of the most evil men that ever lived.

Back in my days as a confirmed member of the religious right Barry Goldwater would occasionally get under my skin by criticizing leaders of the Religious Right. At the time I loved the “Voter’s Guides” published by the Christian Coalition and God forbid that anyone criticize the work of God being done by Christian political leaders.

But it was Barry Goldwater the man who inspired Ronald Reagan to run for President and who was the conservative bulwark for many years in Washington DC who warned what would happen when the Religious Right took over the Republican Party. Goldwater said of the types of religious people that currently dominate the conservative movement:

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they’re sure trying to do so, it’s going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can’t and won’t compromise. I know, I’ve tried to deal with them.” November, 1994, in John Dean, Conservatives Without Conscience.

Billy Graham, a saint if there ever was one and a man who used his faith to build bridges even while being unabashedly evangelical warned back in 1981 about the current crop of religious conservatives and stand in sharp contrast to the words and actions of Franklin:

“I don’t want to see religious bigotry in any form. It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.” Parade Magazine February 1, 1981, from Albert J Menendez and Edd Doerr, The Great Quotations on Religious Freedom

What we are seeing today is the expressed manifestation of religious bigotry operating under the guise of defending religious freedom. It is being shown in its ugliness by the brazen If there is any way to lose religious freedom it is to follow this attempt to marry the Christian faith with the American government is not only short sighted but does great damage to the faith and our American liberties.

Rick Santorum, James Dobson, James Robison, Rick Scarborough, Gary Bauer, Rick Perry, Michelle Bachmann, Franklin Graham and a host of influential of Evangelical leaders, politicians and even Roman Catholic Bishops have said what they believe religious liberty means to them and it has little in common with the understanding of our founders. The Catholic Bishop of Springfield Illinois has even said in the official diocesan newspaper that the Catholic Church deems sinful “makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.” This has nothing to do with limited government nor religious liberty. It is the imperial religion of Constantine, dressed up a bit to keep up with the times.  It is simply an attempt by these leaders to use the apparatus of the government to support themselves.

I am so glad that I attended a Southern Baptist Seminary before the fundamentalist takeover and came to value religious freedom. The freedom that early Baptists in Virginia fought to have included in the Bill of Rights, a belief that was against the domination of the government by any religious body, even other Christians.

George Truett, the great Southern Baptist Pastor who served as President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary wrote in his book Baptists and Religious Liberty in 1920 about the decidedly negative effect of when the Church became the State religion:

“Constantine, the Emperor, saw something in the religion of Christ’s people which awakened his interest, and now we see him uniting religion to the state and marching up the marble steps of the Emperor’s palace, with the church robed in purple. Thus and there was begun the most baneful misalliance that ever fettered and cursed a suffering world…. When … Constantine crowned the union of church and state, the church was stamped with the spirit of the Caesars…. The long blighting record of the medieval ages is simply the working out of that idea.”

The late Senator Mark Hatfield a strongly committed Evangelical Christian before it became popular in Washington made this comment concerning those that are now driving this spurious and poisonous debate:

“As a Christian, there is no other part of the New Right ideology that concerns me more than its self-serving misuse of religious faith. What is at stake here is the very integrity of biblical truth. The New Right, in many cases, is doing nothing less than placing a heretical claim on Christian faith that distorts, confuses, and destroys the opportunity for a biblical understanding of Jesus Christ and of his gospel for millions of people.”  quoted in the pamphlet “Christian Reconstruction: God’s Glorious Millennium?” by Paul Thibodeau

The current campaign is the imposition of Christian Dominionism onto the rest of the country. It may reference the Gospel and even certain Christian moral understandings even as it mocks other just as “Biblical” Christian teachings.

Back in 1981 Barry Goldwater said on the Senate Floor “The religious factions that are growing throughout our land are not using their religious clout with wisdom. They are trying to force government leaders into following their position 100 percent.”

Like it or not Goldwater was right about this crowd. They will drive their churches and their political party into the abyss. We are watching it happen before our very eyes. God help us all as Americans of all faiths because this is not the what men like Jefferson, Madison, Adams, or Washington desired. It is the re-emergence of the state religions of old Europe that they so strongly opposed, and which so many had fled.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Orioles Tie Yankees for First in the AL East: There is a Political Convention Going On?

Zach Britton pitches against the Blue Jays  (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Aaron Vincent Elkaim)

“With those who don’t give a damn about baseball, I can only sympathize.  I do not resent them.  I am even willing to concede that many of them are physically clean, good to their mothers and in favor of world peace.  But while the game is on, I can’t think of anything to say to them.” Art Hill

Thank God for baseball, especially the Baltimore Orioles because I have pretty had my fill of the 2012 Presidential campaign.  But then since the campaign started the day after Barak Obama defeated John McCain in 2008 I guess I have good reason to feel this way. You see I like politics and I follow politics, sometimes if for no other reason than I find it interesting. Because of this I have been paying attention to the antics of both the Republicans and the Democrats and I think I am finally worn out by it.

So tonight with the Democratic National Convention going on in Charlotte I am tuned in to the Major League Baseball channel. I did the same last week with the Republican Convention and even though I agree more with the Democrats on many issues now than I do the Republicans I just cannot stomach night after night of partisan politics even if I agree more with some of these partisans the the partisans of the other side.

The really big important thing that happened tonight was the not the DNC. The big story was that Baltimore Orioles are are now tied for first place with the New York Yankees in the American League East. The Orioles have been coming on strong and are making believers out of baseball experts. Tonight they crushed the Toronto Blue Jays 12-0 with Zach Britton, who I know from his time at Norfolk won his fourth straight start, pitching 7 innings allowing no runs on 4 hits. Mark Reynolds went 3-4 with four RBI. The Orioles, who have one of the worst run differentials in the league pounded out 18 hits, a season high. Meanwhile in Tampa the Yankees lost again to Tampa after the Orioles took two of three in the Bronx. I find this much more  interesting and probably more important than anything that any political candidate or surrogate can say this week because it symbolizes the America that I believe in. That is the America were the scrappy journeymen can give the big guys a run for their money. I believe in the America of Field of Dreams, where deep inside, the good in baseball inspires people to better things.

“The one constant through all the years has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It’s been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game, is a part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good, and what could be again.”

I guess that is why tonight on the opening night of the DNC I am watching baseball.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

 

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Romney Stops the Bleeding but Race far from Over

The Republican nomination process was supposed to be a done deal by now. Mitt Romney was by now to have for all practical purposes secured the nomination. It hasn’t been that way. After an advertised win that was not really a win in Iowa Romney went on to win on his home turf in New Hampshire. Then things came apart. A series of gaffes led to a strong win by Newt Gingrich in South Carolina. Then Romney clobbered Gingrich with negative ads in Florida and Gingrich added to the meltdown by two lack luster debate performances. Romney’s win in Florida made it look like he had seized control of the race.  Romney quickly picked up the endorsement of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) and a narrow and disputed win in the Maine Caucuses over Ron Paul and a win in Nevada. However that did not last as Rick Santorum stormed to victory in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri.  Those defeats sent the Romney campaign which had just seemed to have recovered some momentum int a near panic.

The Romney camp spent an anxious two weeks before the upcoming Arizona and Michigan primaries. Santorum continued to surge during these two weeks and for a couple of days began to poll ahead of Romney in that state. The two campaigns bombard each other aided by the attacks of Newt Gingrich and Ton Paul on the front runners. Santorum then departed from his emphasis on the economy and understanding of blue collar family concerns which contrasted sharply with Romney’s inability to connect on these subjects. Santorum turned the conversation to conservative social and moral issues and made some comments which probably took his numbers down in Michigan. I think that the key mistake for Santorum was his comment that President John F. Kennedy’s religious freedom speech had made him “want to vomit” accusing the late President of promoting an absolute separation of church and state that denies religious people and churches access to the public square and debate. It was a terrible misrepresentation of Kennedy’s speech and plays to a certain paranoia in the conservative Evangelical Christian and Catholic base.

Romney easily won Arizona with the conservative vote being divided by Santorum and Newt Gingrich who improved his showing in that state.  However Romney won Michigan and won the Roman Catholic vote showing a weakness in Santorum’s strategy to go after moral issues that may lay Catholics even have problems with. At the same time even though Romney won the popular vote by about 3% he split the delegates 15-15 giving Santorum a claim to have at least tied Romney in Michigan.

Romney stopped the bleeding and won what were described as “must win” states. However the post primary speeches revealed just how tenuous Romney’s wins were. Santorum closed the night with a passionate speech in which he attacked Romney and President Obama and looked like he was trying to cover some to the damage he had done over the past few days by focusing almost exclusively on moral and social issues where he already has the support of the conservative GOP base.

Romney made a speech that showed little passion and looked to me to be like a businessman trying to close the deal rather than a passionate believer in his cause.  Saturday is the Washington Caucuses and next week is Super Tuesday. I expect that Romney, Santorum and Gingrich will all have wins, just who wins what states and how big those wins are could define the next stage of the campaign.  But even more importantly it is how badly the candidates continue to damage each other will drive the narrative going into the later primary season. This could also effect their fundraising support and possibly increase the calls for another candidate at a brokered convention.

I expect that all four candidates will remain in the race and do whatever they can to gather delegates and seize the momentum. Into this mix the national GOP including major leaders are beginning to wonder what the primary campaign is doing to their chances of winning in November.  When people like Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin and others question the viability of their field in a general election it is time for the GOP to wake up.

The race continues and my prediction is that the GOP fratricide will continue and that if it does the chances of the party winning in November will go down with them. I think that  at this point barring reconciliation and a true united front in the GOP before the convention that any nominee that they field will be damaged goods and despite the obvious weakness of President Obama and the economy stand a diminished chance of winning in November. Democrats should not rejoice and count they’re chickens before they are hatched because they can still lose the election especially if the economy gets worse. However, if the inter-GOP civil war continues they stand an excellent chance of losing an election that even a few months ago I assumed as did many others was theirs for the taking.

It shall be interesting.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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