Will Arizona Let the Money Do the Talking?

Governor Jan Brewer

The money men have lined up in what appears to be a concerted effort to make sure that gay couples can force every baker in the state of Arizona to provide them with wedding cakes.

This burning wedding cake issue, which has been likened to the Jim Crow segregation and lynchings that once plagued African Americans, has brought corporate interests from coast to coast into the argument. They are speaking with one voice, and that voice is demanding a veto of the religious freedom bill recently passed by the Arizona legislature.

Two Republican senators who voted for the bill have seen the dollar sign and are now asking Governor Brewer to veto the bill.

I have not read this legislation. I’ve been busy with legislation on which I am going to actually have to vote. But I can tell you from experience that the various chambers of commerce and money people tend to talk to Republican legislators who step out of line like they were dogs who fetched when they should have sicced. I don’t doubt for a minute that this is what changed the senators’ hearts and minds on this issue.

Even Newt Gingrich has chimed in, calling for the governor to veto the bill.

The power of money on the legislative process can be breathtaking.

Governor Brewer has until Friday to make a decision.

From Bloomberg Business Week:

Companies from Apple Inc. (AAPL:US) to American Airlines Group Inc. (AAL:US)called on Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto a bill allowing businesses to refuse service on religious grounds, a measure that opponents say is meant to allow discrimination against gays.

The measure passed last week prompted tourists to cancel reservations and companies to say they would locate elsewhere if it became law. The bill threatens to reverse an economic recovery in a state among those hardest hit by the housing crash, opponents said, and to cement a reputation fostered by a 2010 anti-immigration law and a fight in the 1990s over celebrating the Martin Luther King holiday.

After residents and businesses protested the bill over the weekend, three Republican senators who voted for the measure changed their minds and asked Brewer to veto it. NBC News reported today that three people close to the governor said she is likely to do that. Brewer wasn’t immediately available for comment.

“There is genuine concern throughout the business community that this bill, if signed into law, would jeopardize all that has been accomplished so far,” Doug Parker, chief executive officer of Fort Worth, Texas-based American, wrote in a letter to Brewer yesterday. He said that it has the potential to reduce the desire of companies to relocate in the state and to repel convention business.

Book Review: Doing for the Least of These for Lent

BC MercyintheCity 1

To join the conversation about Mercy in the City, or order a copy, go here

Lent in the legislature is always a problem.

The Lenten season falls at a time of year when the legislative calendar is so full that I feel like I’m being drug by a runaway horse. There’s not much time for more than going to mass and snatches of hurried prayer that don’t connect up to anything resembling a coherent Lenten practice. It’s all about tired, over-stimulated hanging in there. Lent gets washed away in all this busyness.

Every stopover at mass is a sudden downshift to a slower rhythm. It is so different from the break-neck pace of the rest of the day that it jars more than soothes. Prayers at night and in the morning require an act of will; otherwise I’ll daydream through the words as I say them.

My Lent has thus been more a time of confusion than spiritual and moral clarity. In fact, there have been a number of years when I decided that doing the best I could on my job in the face of whatever came was my Lent.

Reading Mercy in the City inspired me to be more intentional about how I do Lent in the legislature. The book’s author, Kerry Weber, is a twenty-something who decided to give up the usual sweets for Lent and then added a resolution to perform each of the Corporal Works of Mercy during Lent, as well.

The Seven Corporal Works of Mercy are:

  1. Feed the hungry.
  2. Give drink to the thirsty.
  3. Clothe the naked.
  4. Shelter the homeless.
  5. Visit the sick.
  6. Visit the imprisoned.
  7. Bury the dead.

That’s a tall order for a twenty-something with a full-time job and a dating life, but she managed to get it done. Her journey through the seven Works of Mercy is an illuminating read. Miss Weber learned a lot about other people as she handed out food, spent the night at a homeless shelter and visited with prisoners at San Quentin. Instead of just going through the list of Works and checking them off, she made an effort to learn from the people themselves, to see their humanity and their individuality.

This can be difficult. I’ve never done anything like this for Lent, but I have done some of these things at other times in my life. I can tell you that the sick throw up on you, the hungry gripe about the food you serve them and prisoners often go back to their old ways once they are free.

And yet, there is nothing in Jesus’ words equating Himself with these people that gives us the freedom of turning away from them. If you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me, He says to us. There isn’t any wiggle room in that statement for an out based on the exterior ugliness of the people you are trying to help. I imagine there were First Century four-flushers and manipulators just as there are today. But Our Lord didn’t say a word about refusing to help people because they can be jerks.

He tells us that whatever we do for them in His name will not be lost. And whenever we turn our backs on the hungry, thirsty, sick, homeless, or imprisoned among us, we will be held accountable as if we had turned our backs on Him.

That’s a heavy kind of instruction. It should weigh on our hearts, and not just during Lent. We will be judged by how we treat the “least of these.” All our Amen-saying is for nothing if we don’t help those who can’t help themselves. More to the point, each and every one of us began life as someone who could not help themselves, and if we live long enough, we will be people who can’t help ourselves again. That is the human condition.

The pitiless among us want to solve these problems by killing those who need help. Just pick up the needle or use the vacuum aspirator and be done with them. But Jesus tells us clearly and without equivocation that we are called to something more than that.

The same God Who authored all life, tells us to honor life by caring for one another, especially when it’s not easy and it costs us something.

Mercy in the City is a well-written, entertaining look at one young woman’s attempt to do the seven Corporal Works of Mercy for Lent. If you read it, it will give a lot to think about and may inspire you to do the same thing yourself, which makes it excellent Lenten reading.

The Issue is Murder, and Our Willingness to Allow It

Death panelMy Sabbath rest from this blog came just in time.

I had read too many combox justifications for killing people.

The ones that took the prize were the comments defending the medical murder of an elderly Italian woman. This lady went to Switzerland and paid $14,000 to have herself murdered. She was in good health. Her only complaint was that she was depressed about aging and losing her looks.

How can anyone subscribe to the medical murder of a perfectly healthy woman who was depressed about losing her looks?

It appears that plenty of folks do.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when Belgium decided to allow medical murder for anyone, at any age, including babies? The talk then was all about unendurable suffering and how we had to murder children because they they were (1) terminally ill, and (2) in horrible pain?

Well, just a few days later, the death rap was a justification for the need to murder an elderly woman because she’s depressed about her looks, and it’s her choice. 

We were told at the beginning of this euthanasia debate that “mercy killing” or “death with dignity” or whatever you want to call it, was only to alleviate the suffering of people who were terminally ill and in unendurable pain. We put down animals, so the debate went, why not do the same for suffering people?

It now seems clear that those arguments were lies designed to get people to go along so that the liars could move to the next level of killing. As soon as the screw turns one half round and we get the power to kill those we decide are in pain and dying anyway, then the nasty old screw turns again and we are told that people should have the “right” to be killed for being sad, if that’s their choice.

Because now the arguments aren’t about “mercy” or “dignity” anymore, they’re about choice. It’s a person’s “choice” to be murdered, so who are we to argue?

Choice, which should be a beautiful word of freedom, has been perverted into a dark word of death. It’s ironic, but not surprising, to hear these promoters of death for the elderly use the same word that they use to justify killing the unborn.

The same people who come on this blog and argue for killing elderly people because they are depressed, also want to kill those with dementia. They are the same ones who will blast you with arguments based on “choice” in favor of killing the unborn with disabilities or for any other reason whatsoever.

The difference here is in the type and tenor of the arguments. They can’t argue, as they do with abortion, about the use of someone else’s body. It serves no purpose to kill grandma because her granddaughter was raped. So, we argue that it’s really Grandma’s “choice” to be killed.

How long before these killers unmask themselves and reveal that this killing is not for Grandma, but for us? How long before we simply say the truth: Sick people are a lot of trouble. Their care costs money, takes time and isn’t all that much fun.

How long before the arguments about “choice” do the next morph and finally become about how killing grandma and saving all that money we might waste on her could allow granddaughter to go to college? Or, if we did in our child with cancer, think of how much it would spare the other children? Or, why should we let that rich old bat sit on all that money when his or her kids need it to maintain their standard of living?

We are less than a fraction of an inch away from Hitler’s useless eaters argument.

The argument from choice as a justification for medical murder is an obvious ruse when we are talking about depressed people, those with dementia, etc. It is a lie, a deliberate, cold-blooded lie, calculated to inure us to murder so that we are ready to take the next step.

The issue is murder, and our willingness to allow it.

Let me repeat that: The issue is murder, and our willingness to allow it. 

These legalized killing fields are an ever-moving target of evil. They have no bottom because their arguments are based on something that does not exist: The ability of fallen and utterly selfish human beings to reason their way to moral behavior.

I asked the rhetorical question in an earlier post: Do you have to be a Catechism-believing Catholic to know this is wrong?

It appears the answer is yes, you do — or at the least, a Bible-believing Christian of some denomination.

There seems to be no place at the table of life for unbelievers, for the simple reason that unbelievers are all sitting at the table of death.

If you do not believe in the real God, you inevitably become your own god, and out of that self-deification flows every evil thing imaginable, including such a low regard for human life that no one, anywhere, is safe from the needle, the vacuum, the shot of poison to the heart.

I am a Catholic:

I do not kill the unborn.

I do not kill the elderly.

I do not kill children.

I do not kill the depressed, the lonely, the ugly, the disabled, or the weak.

I don’t even kill murderers on death row.

Catholics build hospitals to treat the sick.

Catholics provide food, legal services, counseling, shelter, clothing and education to those who need them.

And for this we are attacked. The same people who want to kill grandma also want to close our hospitals, corrupt our educational institutions and belittle and shame those of us in the pews for having the temerity to believe that human life is sacred and may not be ended arbitrarily.

But we will not accede to them. Because human life is sacred. Every human being, including these sad, lost unbelievers who want to kill everyone who can’t fight back, is made in the image and likeness of God. We are fallen and we have the capacity to do evil. But we also have the capacity to turn to God, be forgiven and walk in newness of life.

Today, I set before you life and death, God told the ancient Israelites.

I don’t know about the rest of the world. But I chose life.

Every So Often He Does Something I Agree With

Every so often President Obama does something I agree with.

His support of raising the minimum wage is one of those things. I remember reading that Henry Ford paid his workers higher wages than the standard for that time. When asked why, he said that he wanted them to be able to buy his automobiles.

That remark demonstrated a core understanding of what grows markets that seems to elude today’s corporatists.

The theory that we should cut taxes and give benefits to those at the top while we allow wage earners to suffer an endless downward trajectory in earning power is not good economics. Those who make goods and provide services need customers with the money to buy their products. American industry needs American customers to keep this county strong.

The miracle of the American economy is not that it has created a few fantastically wealthy people. The miracle is that it has provided opportunity, a high standard of living and good lives for almost all of us.

Will raising the minimum wage fix our economic woes? No, it won’t. The reason our economy has been basically stagnant for so long is simple: We’ve exported our industrial base and the jobs that go with it.

Raising the minimum wage will not fix this problem. Nothing short of taking government back from corporatist control will put America back where it once was.

However, raising the minimum wage will increase the buying power of many millions of people. That alone will stimulate the economy.

I disagree with trickle down economics. We need jobs and good wages for the people of this country. That will bring wealth for everyone.

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Gov Brewer Won’t Say if She’ll Sign Bill Allowing Business to Refuse Service Based on Religious Beliefs

Governor Jan Brewer

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer won’t say if she’ll sign the bill which would allow businesses to refuse service based on religious beliefs.

Her only comment was that the bill was “very controversial” and that she “needs to get my hands around it.”

Meanwhile the Arizona Commerce Authority is chiming in against the bill.

The bill puts the Republican governor in a pretty political pickle. It forces her to chose between the Republican Party’s vote-getting base of conservative religious, and its corporate/chamber of commerce money men.

According to an article in USA Today, Governor Brewer has until Friday to decide.

From USA Today:

Arizona’s governor is watching an intense debate from afar over a controversial bill that would allow the use of religious beliefs as a basis for refusing service without fear of lawsuits.

The Arizona Legislature passed Senate Bill 1062 on Thursday and the bill could reach Gov. Jan Brewer’s desk as early as Monday, giving her next week to consider how she will sign or veto it.

The Republican governor, who is attending a conference of governors from across the USA in the nation’s capital, rarely comments on bills before they reach her desk.

She spoke Friday with CNN: “Well, it’s a very controversial piece of legislation. We know that. We know that it’s failed in a lot of states across the country. … I’ve been reading about it on the Internet, and I will make my decision some time before … by next Friday … if I do decide to sign it.

“But it’s very controversial, so I’ve got to get my hands around it,” Brewer said.

Socially conservative groups that oppose gay marriage are promoting the twin bills, SB 1062 and HB 2153. GOP state Sen. Steve Yarbrough created his bill in response to a New Mexico Supreme Court decision against a photographer who refused to take a gay couple’s wedding pictures.

In a letter sent Friday to Brewer’s office, Phoenix area economic officials raise concerns that the bill, which shields businesses from being sued if they deny service based on religious beliefs, could cast a negative light on the state as it prepares to host a number of high-profile events, including next year’s Super Bowl.

If You Want to Avoid Disability, Get Up and Move

 

This is bad news for us desk jockeys.

It turns out that just sitting on your duff for long periods of time increases your likelihood of becoming disabled. That’s true, even if you exercise every day.

I’m not surprised by this. I had my first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis when I was 16. But it was never a problem for me until my first few terms in the Oklahoma House. At that point, the ra became increasingly painful — and I do mean painful.

When I quit the House to stay home and raise my kids, it was still with me. But as the years of being an active mom and engaging in daily walks went by, the symptoms receded and, in time, almost vanished. I still took my medicine, whether I needed it or not, and I had achy-breaky, flu-like symptoms every day. But the ra only really flared before big storms.

Then, I got myself re-elected. After just a few weeks sitting in that chair on the House floor for hours at a time, the ra was back. It’s been getting worse ever since.

I have never known if it was due to the prolonged sitting or the prolonged stress. For instance, I get a headache every year. The headache lasts from the beginning of session to the end. Then, when we sine die, the headache leaves. That’s stress, I think.

An article in live science seems to point the finger of blame (at least so far as the ra is concerned) at the long hours of sitting. According to new research, people who sit for long periods of time are more likely to experience disability, even if they engage in regular exercise.

Given our society’s enforced sitting, which begins in preschool and goes on throughout the working years for most people, I would guess that explains a lot of the joint replacement surgeries, walkers and canes that seem to be showing up with younger and younger people.

It’s difficult on most sitting jobs to find opportunities to walk around on a regular basis. Based on this study, maybe that should change.

From live science:

Older adults who spend a lot of time sitting may be at increased risk of having a disability, regardless of how much they exercise, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed information from more than 2,200 adults ages 60 and older who wore a pedometer to track their movement for at least four days.

While they were awake, participants spent about nine hours a day sitting down. Every additional hour spent sitting was linked with a nearly 50-percent increase in the odds of having a disability, the study found. The researchers defined disability as having significant difficulty completing daily tasks, such as eating, bathing or getting out of bed and walking across a room.

That means that, if there are two 65-year-old women, and one sits for nine hours a day and the other sits for 10 hours, the second one is 50 percent more likely to have a disability, the researchers said. About 3.5 percent of all participants had a disability.

Pope Francis: Peace Depends on Human Dignity

 

 

Following the teachings of the Catholic Church means that you will always be on the right side of history, which is the side of human dignity.

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Does the Bishop of Bling have an American Counterpart?

 

Johnmyers

Archbishop John J Myers, the New Jersey bishop who allowed a convicted child-molesting priest to return to ministry with children, is retiring.

According to NJ.com, Archbishop Myers is planning to retire to an $800,000 mansion, which he is refurbishing with diocesan dollars to the tune of another $500,000.

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Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, the “Bishop of Bling.” 

That doesn’t compare with the 40-million euros the Bishop of Bling spent, but it’s far beyond what seems needed and necessary for the comfortable retirement of one elderly priest, even in New Jersey’s inflated real estate dollars.

He is adding a 3,000 square foot addition to the already large house. The addition will have an indoor exercise pool, three fireplaces and an elevator. To top it off, the half million to build this thing does not include fees for the architects, cost of furnishings (furnishing this much real estate won’t be cheap) or landscaping.

I think we should also add the inevitable cost of upkeep, cleaning, etc. I rather doubt that Arichbishop Myers plans to do his own vacuuming and dusting.

My own Archbishop lives in a modest ranch-style home. The retired Archbishop of Oklahoma City, who I think of as my spiritual father, also lives modestly.

It is possible that this building will not be used solely as a residence for Archbishop Myers. Maybe it will be a retirement home for a number of priests, and not just the Archbishop. Frankly, I’m having a hard time believing that he would do something this stupid and destructive in these times.

Nothing in the news story indicates that the residence is intended to be anything more than Archbishop Myers’ private home. But if it turns out that there is another side to this story, I will be happy to write about it here.

In these times of imploding culture, when the Church and the faithful are under attack from so many quarters, we are desperately in need of inspiration and leadership from behind the altar. What Archbishop Myers appears to be doing with his retirement home isn’t it.

Update: My friend and colleague Kathy Schiffer has a different take on this here.

From NJ.com:

The 4,500-square-foot home sits on 8.2 wooded acres in the hills of Hunterdon County. With five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a three-car garage and a big outdoor pool, it’s valued at nearly $800,000, records show.

But it’s not quite roomy enough for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.

Myers, who has used the Franklin Township house as a weekend residence since the archdiocese purchased it in 2002, is building a three-story, 3,000-square-foot addition in anticipation of his retirement in two years, The Star-Ledger found. He will then move in full-time, a spokesman for the archbishop said.

The new wing, now just a wood frame, will include an indoor exercise pool, a hot tub, three fireplaces, a library and an elevator, among other amenities, according to blueprints and permits filed with the Franklin Township building department.

The price tag, the records show, will be a minimum of a half million dollars, a figure that does not include architectural costs, furnishings and landscaping.

Construction is progressing as Myers asks the 1.3 million Roman Catholics of the archdiocese to open their wallets for the “archbishop’s annual appeal,” a fundraising effort that supports an array of initiatives, including religious education, the training of future priests and feeding the poor.

Pope-Francis-1.JPGPope Francis, seen here in St. Peter’s Square on Valentine’s Day, has told bishops not to live “like princes.”

More significantly, it comes at a time when Pope Francis has made profligate church spending a target of his early tenure.

Francis, who eschewed the papal palace for a modest guest apartment and who gave up a Mercedes in favor of a Ford, has criticized bishops for living “like princes” and has called for a “poor church for the poor.”

In a move that signaled his impatience on the matter, the pope suspended the bishop of Limburg, Germany, in October for spending $42 million to renovate his residence and other church buildings. The German press dubbed the free-spending cleric the “Bishop of Bling.”

 

Abortions for Valentine’s Day. Gotta Love It.

Cecile Richards cropped

Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood

 

I know what my husband is going to get me for Valentine’s Day.

I know because I told him what to get.

I’m no fool. I know better than to just send him off to wander around in a store and come back with a slow cooker or a set of wrenches or maybe a case of the real man’s answer to every question in life: WD40.

I’m not going to share my request on this blog.That’s between me and my guy. But one thing I will say is that it is not on the list of things that Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, says that women want for Valentine’s Day. According to her, women need “really radical stuff” like

  • Preventive care
  • Birth control
  • Cancer screenings
  • Safe and legal abortion
  • Well women visits
  • Preventive care
  • Maternity care
  • Or, in other words, women need Planned Parenthood.

Before I jump off on the obvious. I’d like to point out a couple of things. First, this itty-bitty list is all that Planned Parenthood says that it does to earn the 4-5 hundred million dollars in tax payer funding that it receives each year. Second, several of the items on this list are duplicated. “Cancer screenings” and “preventive care/well women visits,” are the same thing.

So, if you reduce it down to what she’s actually claiming, Planned Parenthood itself admits that it provides (1) abortions, (2) pap smears, (3) birth control and (4) maternity care. I don’t know what kind of maternity care they are talking about. Is she claiming that women receive obstetrical care for the full nine months of pregnancy, as well as delivery care (including c-sections, blood transfusions, etc, if needed) and follow-up care for a couple of months afterwards?

That is what “maternity care” means to me. If Planned Parenthood provides this level of care, I am unaware of it. I did notice that “mammograms” were nowhere on the list, probably because Planned Parenthood’s repeated lies about this service have been exposed.

So, what does Planned Parenthood provide for all that money? Their primary business is the supply of dangerous chemical birth control and abortions, and they charge for those. They are not free to their patrons.

And, oh yes, they do a fair amount of lobbying, (paid for out of separate funds) participate in committees such as the one that gave us the HHS Mandate and provide huge amounts of “sex education” to public school students.

So. If women need Planned Parenthood for Valentine’s Day, then what they need is to be indoctrinated in Planned Parenthood’s notion of sexuality, then doped up on expensive and dangerous chemical forms of birth control with an abortion chaser, all to the tune of around half a billion government dollars.

I’m not going to tell anyone what I asked my hubby to get me for Valentine’s Day. But I will share this: It won’t kill anybody, and it costs a lot less than Planned Parenthood.

To see the full tweet Ms Richards sent, go to TownHall.com.

Four-Year-Old Girl and Her Family Ask Belgian King to Block Euthanasia of Children

Jessicasaba

Speaking of child abuse, legislators in Belgium are moving toward passage of a law that would allow doctors to euthanize children.

It all began in 2002 with a law that allowed doctors in Belgium to kill their patients who were (a) at least 18 years old, (b) of sound mind, and (c) gave their consent. Left out of this (of course) was just how questionable “consent” becomes when families and medical practitioners go at a sick person who is probably also isolated and totally dependent on them for their emotional and physical well being.

This “right” morphed a bit in 2013 when doctors began killing people who were not terminally ill, but merely facing a disability. Now, the idea of extending this “right to die” to children and people suffering from dementia is moving toward legality.

The family of four-year-old Jessica Saba has stepped into the debate to ask King Philippe to block euthanasia for children like her. I say “like her” because Jessica was born with a heart defect that required surgery to allow her to live.

You know what that kind of surgery is, don’t you? It’s expensive.

Whereas, killing the child would be oh, so much cheaper, not to mention alleviating the “suffering” of her parents and saving the baby herself from that painful wake-up from anesthesia which any surgery patent knows all too well.

When you look at it that way, it’s a blessing to kill little kids. Who could be so cruel as to deprive them of their “right” to die?

As for those difficult dementia patients, aren’t their “useful” lives over anyway? Think how much better it would be for families if they weren’t burdened with the trouble of taking care of Grandma. As for the expense, everyone knows that end of life care racks up the bucks.

I apologize for being so sarcastic. But I am at my wit’s end with people who try to justify legalized medical murder by flinging around ridiculous arguments about how killing people is a kindness to them and their “right.”

The killing of innocents is not a “human right” and it is not a kindness.

We are creating a society where we kill everyone who does not have the capacity to actively defend their life in a courtroom. If someone who can stand upright and vocalize sophisticated arguments does not speak up for them — and in certain cases such as the judicial murder of Terry Shiavo, even if they do — they can and will be killed by doctors obeying a court order. All that needs to happen is for someone else with what the court decides is “standing” to petition the court that they want their “loved one” dead.

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I hope and pray that the lawmakers of Belgium get a grip and stop this legislation themselves. But if that does not happen, we can only hope that King Philippe will step in. I assume there will be an enormous political price to pay if he does.

That is an interesting remark, isn’t it? We have come to the place in our “civilized” Western world where the political danger lies in refusing to allow oneself to be made into the executioner of little children and helpless old people.

I do not ever take a destabilizing action in governance lightly, and I assume that is what this could be. My basic premise of governance is that a just and stable government is always the greater good. However, a government that kills its old people and little children is not just. There are times when the decision is so fraught that there truly is no other option but to take the possibly destabilizing path.

Every lawmaker from the king down who says yes to this will have done something that puts them beyond the pale of civilized behavior. Every person who lobbies for it, or votes for those who pass it, will have made themselves an accomplice to it.

If the king signs this, he will make of himself the executioner of little children and helpless old people. Could you sign it? Would you?

I hope the lawmakers say no. If they don’t, I hope the king says no.

Whatever the political consequences, they are nothing compared to the moral consequences of having said yes to this measure.

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