Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

Michele Bachmann, America's Perfect Monster

In a campaign field that includes a twice-divorced anti-gay-marriage candidate who took an oath against adultery and who believes in mining the moon, it takes a special candidate to stand out. Michele Bachmann is just that special.

As she prepares to caucus dead last in her "home state" of Iowa, Minnesota's 6th District Congresswoman insists she still has a chance to win the Republican nomination for president. Odder things have happened, like that time one day's worth of lamp oil lasted eight.

Like a lot of impossible things Bachmann says—from claiming the HPV vaccine causes retardation, to the fact Obama is grooming NASA "for outreach to the Muslim community," to the Alaskan wildlife refuge oil development being good for wildlife habitats because of "the warmth of the pipeline"—she probably believes herself. "We think people are going to be very surprised with what the vote is tonight," Bachmann said this morning in Iowa. But sometimes God calls on us to do things He never intends us to achieve. And when we pray to Him and ask why… well, He's busy helping Tim Tebow make the playoffs.

So what will God ask Michele Bachmann to do now that the Minnesota congresswoman has spent the summer telling the world she's an "Iowa girl?"

Bachmann is despised (and even sometimes loved) for her social positions. When the Congresswoman gets "glitter-bombed" at some event, it's not because last year the conservative leader of the Tea Party Caucus spent 46 cents per each mass mailing compared to the 22 to 28 cents spent by her Minnesota colleagues. When some joker programs a "Bachmann Crazy Eyes App," it's not because between 2008 and 2009, the heart of the financial crisis, Bachmann's staff salary increased 26 percent.

Bachmann, who has made it a campaign point to accuse her primary opponents of being bought and paid for, has lived the lavish life for a couple weeks nearly every summer at the expense of pro-Israel lobbyists. A new book, The Madness of Michele Bachmann, notes that Bachmann and her family "enjoyed free trips to Israel in 2007, 2008 and 2009, to the tune of $44,380." In 2009, a single trip for the rep and her daughter ran $19,414.74. All compliments of the American Israel Education Foundation. (Late last spring, Bachmann began a speech: "I am convinced in my heart and in my mind, that if the United States fails to stand with Israel, that is the end of the United States.")

A collection of reporting, insight and posts from the authors behind the blogs DumpBachmann.com and Ripple in Stillwater, The Madness of Michele Bachmann paints a finger-painting of a Congresswoman who has made a career of refusing to comply with both the explicit and implicit rules of "the game" even while making herself out to be a victim when opponents and detractors do likewise.

Though it does a remarkable job keeping the sarcastic, spiteful commentary to an absolute minimum, the book, like its authors, is biased. Yet its straightforward recounting of Bachmann's lesser known boondoggles—like personal rapid transit, or the third party commercial she unblushingly shot inside the state legislative chambers—raises a journalism conundrum: Is it actually bias to just state the facts?

To say the book is a hit piece would not be a misstatement. But it's a hit piece that reflects the authors' longstanding coverage of a politician who, even by the standards of the circus of late-stage American democracy, is a clown. (The founding author of Dump Bachmann was a Republican; another is a constituent.) While a lot of Bachmann's migraine-inducing mutterings are contained in "The Quotable Bachmann," the final chapter, the book's focus is well beyond the worn media trail of "crazy eyes" that launched one- and three-dollar-a-word profiles by Rolling Stone and The New Yorker and that controversial Newsweek cover.

For example, the book recounts Bachmann's abysmal voting record. While the average Congressional missed-vote percentage was 3.8 percent, Bachmann missed 11 percent of all votes (25th worst of 435 members). And that was before God told her to run for president. Between June and September of 2011, Bachmann missed 58.7 percent of all House votes. Since September, she's missed 91.3 percent. In a shocking display, Bachmann even missed the November vote "Reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the official motto of the United States and supporting and encouraging the public display of the national motto in all public buildings."

In the Bachmann style encountered over and over again in the book, this tardiness has not stopped her from slamming those who voted for the "gimmick" extension.

Madness is an amusing encyclopedia devoted to one candidate. But it is also a condemnation of our system.

Many know that Bachmann has never carried Stillwater, the town most often listed as her home. Less well-known is that the majority of her funding comes from outside her district. As the book notes, during Bachmann's first Congressional campaign, "78 percent of itemized campaign contributions came from outside the 6th." In the last quarter of that campaign, "a whopping 91 percent came from outside the 6th." Bachmann is a proxy for wealthy Evangelicals like Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel, who, along with his wife, eavily supported Bachmann both personally and through Target's PAC until a huge outcry by gay activists in 2010. Steinhafel lives in Minnesota's 3rd district. But many like him from outside the state have also backed Bachmann, their own modern Joan of Arc.

Another major Bachmann funder from outside her district was Frank Vennes, Jr. Vennes, currently under indictment, was the largest gravy pipe for Tom Petters, the architect of a billion-dollar Minnesota Ponzi scheme you've never heard of because it was uncovered at the same time as Madoff's larger Ponzi scheme. The book's authors have been dogging Vennes forever and dedicate an entire chapter of the book to a convincing case for how Bachmann shilled for a presidential pardon for an earlier Vennes crime in exchange for massive donations to her campaign. Incidentally, larger-profile media have recently taken interest in Vennes. Showing just how influential (and generally uncredited) their work on Bachmann has been, The New Republic recently used one of the authors' photos of Vennes for its Petters-Vennes-Bachmann cover story. Having failed to credit much info in the piece to the Dump Bachmann and Ripple blogs, the magazine probably didn't think twice about using the photo. (The author has since sued The New Republic.)

But she is also, by the very design of our representative democracy, a proxy for her electorate. Every time one sees Bachmann, the words "Anoka School District" should come to mind. Anoka, a northern Minneapolis suburb, is a core of the Congresswoman's 6th district support and also home to nine student suicides in just two years, many of them gay, others rumored to have been gay-bullied. Last year, the school was sued by students, who allege its administration has negligently and intentionally created a hostile and anti-gay atmosphere. The school maintains a policy of refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of homosexuality. It's a policy driven by the locals.

Much of the Congressional (and school) district's atmosphere of homophobia is set by pro-Bachmann groups like the Parents Action League and the Minnesota Family Council, which, as the book notes, opposes "the health risks to students who are affirmed and labeled as 'gay'" and "pro-gay activist teachers." The Minnesota Family Council is also the organization behind November's ballot initiative that, if passed, will amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage. One of the few bills Bachmann ever authored as a state senator was Minnesota's first effort to ban gay marriage in 2003. Several later bills also failed and the issue was finally made a ballot initiative in 2011 by Republican legislatures, the leader of which, Senator Amy Koch, just resigned over an extramarital affair with an aide.

Bachmann is not some fluke, an unraveled thread on an otherwise good sweater. She exists exactly as the framers of our democracy intended, to represent the primary interests of a select group of Americans.

It's a damning thing, this book. But it probably won't hurt Bachmann, whose reputation with her faithful is coated in teflon and smeared with a thick layer of Astroglide by home-schooled kids with soft hands. Even if the new book contained a naked photo of her participating in a lesbian orgy where everyone was injecting each other with HPV vaccine from Planned Parenthood, Bachmann would likely come out with about the same level of support. And that brings us to the worst possible outcome when it comes to Michele Bachmann: nothing happens.

Unlike Fred Thompson, there will be no reverse mortgage shilling. There will be no too-smart-by-half pistachios commercial. Those who say she'll join Fox News like Huckabee don't understand Bachmann. Huckabee is generally a nice guy. Nobody, even grumpy old people, want to watch an hour of the kind of fire and brimstone Bachmann sells. For that they have church.

Bachmann has committed to not running for her old seat in 2012. Bachmann frames this commitment as an issue of principle. It's really an issue of Minnesota law, which forbids candidates from simultaneously campaigning for dual federal offices. When Bachmann finally loses enough primaries, or runs out of money, she can still return to the 6th where her deadline to declare for her position is June 5th. It's worth noting Bachmann's recent behavior has not warmed her already chilly relationship with Minnesota's Republican Party, which, anyway, is now a smoking crater of debt, scandal, rudderlessness.

Despite spending like a drunken sailor, both of Bachmann's last two elections have been won thanks in part to what's been called "The Anderson Effect," in which any candidate named "Anderson" on any Minnesota ballot inexplicably pulls a large number of voters. In Minnesota's 6th, that Anderson is Independence Party candidate Bob Anderson. In both 2008 and 2010, Bob Anderson sucked votes from Bachmann's opponent.

In 2008, she was sent back to Congress with only 46 percent of her district's votes. (Coincidentally, the latest Rasmussen poll puts President Obama's approval rating at 46 percent.) In 2010, in the greatest Republican election landslide of all time, Bachmann garnered 52 percent of the 6th. To accomplish this, she spent $8.5 million, more than any other member of Congress. It was the first time Bachmann managed to get more than 50 percent of her district's votes.

When Bachmann and crusaders slouch home from their defeat in far-off lands, they may find the kingdom much changed. On January 4th, a five judge panel will begin hearing arguments about the proposed changes to Minnesota's congressional districts, as the Republican legislature and Democrat governor having been unable to reach agreement. Depending on how the justices side, Bachmann could come away sharing a district with another incumbent Republican. She might also land in a shifted district with a strong incumbent Congressional Democrat. Then there's the open race against Democrat Amy Klobuchar, a popular senator with Minnesotans.

But since Bachmann has been pitching herself as a job-creating small business owner, one would hope she could always fall back on that.

Bachmann is a national clown and a global embarrassment, an extremist so foul that she poses nearly as much of a threat to Republican legislators as to Democratic ones. She's a Republican bomb-thrower who forgets the throwing part. Both parties will certainly be glad to be rid of her. But Bachmann's repose only means the absence of the messenger, not the absence of those who paid for the message.

Photo via Bachmann 2012 Facebook page.

Abe Sauer is the author of the book How to be: North Dakota. He is on Twitter. Email him at abesauer @ gmail.com.

45 Comments / Post A Comment

boyofdestiny (#1,243)

"Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!"

When I run my own utopian liberofascist state, anyone claiming that God instructed them to do something will get a free appointment for a compulsory state-funded MRI. I'm thinking of calling it "Charles Whitman's Law", but I'm open to suggestions.

SeanP (#4,058)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose ooh, can you also exile all the libertarians to their own private island? This, by the way, would be a great concept for a reality show, except I don't think I could bear to watch the part where they descend into cannibalism.

jfruh (#713)

@SeanP Wait, really? That would be the part I would watch repeatedly.

@SeanP : Unfortunately, utopian liberofascist states are aggressively tolerant of others' divergent viewpoints. Fortunately, libertarians actually want to be exiled to government-free private islands, so it works out for everyone. YOUR PROPOSED INITIATIVE IS HEREBY IMPLEMENTED.

@jfruh : Fun fact: the small-government initiatives and anti-fiat-currency speechifying are actually a front — it's all about the cannibalism.

DandyKoufax (#6,590)

@SeanP Libertarians consider it "ascending into cannibalism."

SeanP (#4,058)

@DandyKoufax I was wondering what happened to John Galt.

EB (#233,348)

@Gef the Talking Mongoose Utopian Liberafascist states are tolerant if you agree with them.

I would like to gay-marry your political reporting, Abe, while it's still legal here in Minnesota.

BirdNerd (#4,196)

@The Dependent Clause Can we make this a 3way?

hockeymom (#143)

And don't forget the smallest of small worlds…she was Gretchen Carlson's babysitter when Gretchen was growing up in Anoka. The Halloween Capital of the World.

Bobby Womack (#4,074)

It's too cold today to read something like this. If it's going to be this cold and I have to read this, there should at least be snow on the ground.

jfruh (#713)

"Bachmann is not some fluke, a unraveled thread on an otherwise good sweater. She exists exactly as the framers of our democracy intended, to represent the primary interests of a select group of Americans."

Actually, the creation of ideologically purified districts like the 6th is in fact a recent development that wouldn't be recognized by the framers of the Constitution at all. Not that the Founders are be all/end all geniuses (cough slavery cough electoral college cough) but the tradition of representative government they inherited from medieval Britain involved electing representatives from recognizable communities — counties and cities — that were considered to have an existence that was more "real" than arbitrarily drawn parliamentary districts. US states used a variety of districting strategies, and in the late 1700s and early 1800s, many just elected multiple representatives at large across the whole state.

The creation of districts like Bachmann's are a result of two recent developments: mid-century Supreme Court rulings that declared that all legislative districts must be more or less of equal population (a very good thing, as previously districts could be wildly variant in size, often in ways that punished cities and minorities), and the advent of computer-aided mapping software that could crunch numbers and carve out precisely designed districts, often at the behest of the people who would be running for them. That more than anything else is what allows artificial constituencies like the 6th to exist.

It will be interesting to see what sort of legislators will be elected in California over the next ten years, as redistricting in that state is now in the hands of a nonpartisan commission.

Abe Sauer (#148)

@jfruh Well, obviously, yes. What I mean is that Bachmann's "craziness" is not really "crazy," but instead a sane, thoughtfully-selected projection of (many of) her constituents, as the system intends.

I just got outbid for that dude's head on eBay.

deepomega (#1,720)

OK, if you're going to make fun of mining the moon, maybe don't do it on a gloriously anti-moon website.

emilyWools (#200,828)

is that old man grandpa seth from troll 2?

purefog (#999)

". . .a Republican bomb-thrower who forgets the throwing part." Uh — I could live with that.

"'One man brought his Bible to be autographed. And Mrs. Bachmann said she was delighted to do it.' (And that's when our heads exploded.)" -Gifzette

loren (#200,850)

She's gonna lose big tonight in Iowa. All we need now are munchkins to sing "Ding dong, the witch is dead" and the flying monkeys known as the tea party will be set free.

Eccles (#193,071)

I am, I suppose, one of those homeschooled kids with soft hands. Michele is actually my godmother and had a huge influence on my upbringing (including home schooling, being sent to Summit for extensive indoctrination, and Marcus having me hospitalized in his specially recommended Christian psychiatric facility half way across the country from my home, around the time I began to question the "Young Earth" theory.)

I've refrained from writing about her, because it's a pickle. I've wanted so much for there to be something… excusable about this. She and my mom are best friends. She was there the day my dad died, spoke at his funeral. But when her face started to be everywhere, I began to have these massive panic reactions and ended up calling a suicide hotline the week Michele won the Ames Straw Poll, which led to my being diagnosed with PTSD from that upbringing, and therapy, and now I can speak somewhat more honestly about her.

And I guess all I want to say is: Watch out. She won't give up. She really does believe she speaks for god, as @juliahairpincommenter indicates. The cultish branch of Christianity that I come from is absolutely authoritarian and without doubt, which is relativism, which is post-modernism, which is a lie from Satan.

They truly believe they are fighting the forces of darkness, these people. I was told, at five years old, that real Satanic witches in the next town were sending real demons to come and kill us in our beds, and I was taught how to pray a wash of Jesus's blood over my body in protection against them. Five years old. Who does that? True believers do that. When my dad was dying of pancreatic cancer, he truly believed that God would save him, to the point that he went on public television and told everyone who happened to be tuned in. He believed it up until the day his kidneys failed. His belief allowed him to completely ignore the fact of his coming death. It gave him meaning. It meant he didn't have to ask forgiveness for the things he did to me in the name of that belief.

That's why Michele hasn't stopped. She can't stop. The things she's done, the things she said, are so terrible from any other angle, and have caused so much pain and suffering, and taken such a toll on her personally, that she must ABSOLUTELY CARRY ON. If she doesn't, it is to deny Christ, and Christ living within her.

I absolutely believe that she will be back. Her response to losing this will only be renewed conviction that God is readying her for 2016. And the only thing that truly bothers me about this is how shallowly most people have apprehended the true violence of her beliefs. I grant you, she's a nice lady. And she stands by her convictions, bless her. But it's not just praying away the gay. It's a perfect spiritual holocaust.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Eccles Thank you x one million for this amazing comment. I'd like to hear a great deal more.

Jasons_Johnson (#3,341)

@Eccles incredible if true. thanks for sharing!

roboloki (#1,724)

@Eccles i hope you are able to heal. it sounds as though you are on the right path. thank you for sharing.

Eccles (#193,071)

@Jasons_Johnson Not that it matters, since I haven't offered my name here, but I'm on page 189 of her biography, where she mines my dad's death for trophies.

I can't wait for the primaries to be over.

Eccles (#193,071)

@barnhouse Another thing worth mentioning, and a problem I'm actively trying to solve, is the loss these people face if they give up their beliefs (as I did.) They lose their family, their community support, their social life, and their hope of heaven, sure. Worse, they lose their sense of moral rightness for all the things they did and said in they past life. They may even lose all clear sense of morality, full stop. I know I did, without The Book. They might feel that they wasted a lot of time on fear when they could have been enjoying the fullness of life.

But if *I* were to give up MY current beliefs, on the other hand, and go back to "the faith," I'd be a celebrity. I'd have family again, with the Truth on my side. I could cease the difficult, painful, existential questions that make the fields of secular psychology and philosophy and anthropology so necessary and yet so unseemly within the evangelical Christian community. I'd be the toast of every youth group. I'd be a motivational speaker with an AWESOMELY WICKED PAST SAVED ONLY BY THE LOVE OF JESUS. In all likelihood, I could have a new career, just sharing my "testimony."

We need better support systems for people leaving Christianity. It's a cult like any other, it just happens to be a socially accepted one. We need to find ways to make leaving the world Michele knows a much more attractive option.

I cringe at all the hatred the secular world heaps on Michele, because I know it's just one more nail in the coffin of an extremely dynamic, resourceful, and charismatic woman, who could have been so much more than a fear-filled "Christian."

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Eccles I am sure you are right on all counts, here. Real tolerance is super difficult, alas, for secularists and believers alike.

So fascinating, your remarks about the temptations of acceptance and certainty and belonging: "the toast of every youth group." I would gladly read a book about this, if you were to write one, by the bye. Did you see David Sessions's recent piece about how teaching creationism sows the seeds of apostasy? It was so great, I thought.

As for existential questions, if you have a tolerance for kind of heavy reading, I can recommend the dialogue between Jurgen Habermas and the Pope from a few years back, I think it is called The Dialectics of Secularization. Really love that thing.

The uncertainty is a comfort of its own, don't you think? It is scary to be having to roll your own, but also very exhilarating. I can't help but think that figuring these things out is just what we're meant to be doing. Anyway, thanks again for these amazing contributions.

Eccles (#193,071)

@barnhouse Thanks for the recommendations! Do you mean this piece? http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Creation-Crusade-David-Sessions-04-28-2011?offset=0&max=1

I wish I could say that I'm comfortable with uncertainty. At the very least, I have been willing to be uncomfortable in the pursuit of something-closer-to-truth, and I remain so. But no, when you're raised/brainwashed the way I was, it is tremendously difficult to even choose a hobby without the blessing of the faith and family and community. Hell, I used to have trouble with the hobby I HAD–beadwork–because there were dream catchers in the store (portals to the demon world) and some of the quartz pieces had pagan uses (although of course all the stones are God's creation alone… but never too careful.) and I had to be careful that I didn't become exuberant and accidentally use a charm that invoked some New Age concept, like, say, a peace sign. (Connected to the pentagram, used by Satanists/hippies.)

I mean, you can't even imagine how many things there are to fear. Christians make up new things to fear every day, just in case.

I wish I were smarter or stronger, but I was forcibly hospitalized, re-programmed, drugged for a year (without reference to my feelings, just… whatever my mom asked the psychiatrist to do), and exorcized three times before I was finally kicked out completely and cut off. I'm a business owner in New York City, I finished putting myself through a secular university, and I have traveled alone in many "pagan" lands full of "Satanic" temples. I think I'm probably remarkably strong and independent all things considered. But unfortunately, I don't feel comforted by the existential uncertainty right now, because of all the things that uncertainty represents.

And P.S. Thanks for your interest in these comments. I have been afraid to chime in for a long time. But I expect and hope I can't hurt Michele's campaign now, so this level of disloyalty is hopefully not too gauche.

Eccles (#193,071)

@barnhouse Of the Sessions piece: Nicely written but facile. It posits a world in which Christians can somehow choose to feel less than embattled against popular culture. They are re-born, servants of a higher king, ergo counter-culture. Being embattled is central to Christian-cult mentality, and honestly half the fun.

barnhouse (#1,326)

@Eccles gah, what a great point. (I could tell that much even from reading the first Left Behind book!)

As to your earlier post, that is just a staggering story. Speechless-making. I'll agree with you that you are strong and independent, that's for sure.

Eccles (#193,071)

@barnhouse I'm sure my insistence on it really nails the point home, but anyway. Therapy.

BirdNerd (#4,196)

@Eccles I'd like to hug you.

mae (#6,538)

@Eccles Congrats on your courage, your escape, and on finding the one comment thread on the whole internet where no one is out for blood (yet).

I can't pretend to imagine what you've been through, but as a Good Atheist I am compelled to offer my unsolicited advice. There was a time when I labelled existential panic as leftover Catholic guilt and wondered What If I Was Wrong and so on, though I'm sure it kept me awake less than the nightmare you have on your hands. And it doesn't sound like you've necessarily made it all the way to atheism yet, or perhaps you're not prepared to go that far.

My unsolicited advice: Learn as much about science as you can. Read Stephen Hawking, watch Carl Sagan's Cosmos, and check out the BBC's Wonders of the Solar System / Wonders of the Universe series (added bonus if you happen to be attracted to gentlemen: to say that Brian Cox is a dreamboat would be to say that the universe is somewhat large). It helps to know and understand (as in, actually comprehend beyond regurgitating a paradigm as mystical and unknowable as any religious dogma) where we come from and what came before and all of that. There is a lot to stand in awe of, and there are plenty of us for whom the world is more beautiful and life more precious because we are capable of reason and inquiry.

Conclusion: As you said, religion is the easy way out for a lot of reasons. But joining the godless doesn't make any part of the human experience less meaningful. We don't say good luck or godspeed or anything, but, um, "live long and prosper" might do.

Amasea (#201,227)

@Eccles "Being embattled is central to Christian-cult mentality, and honestly half the fun."
Does that explain the fictitious yet ubiquitous "War on Christmas"?

Eccles (#193,071)

@mae Thanks for the suggestion… I'm with you, or think I am, on how much greater awe there is in even basic appreciation of science. It's nice to have that door open, in the fifteen years or so since I stopped arguing with science teachers about the legitimacy of the fossil record.

It's funny, I've swung into atheism for a spell, then sort of swung back out again because I can't really function without some acknowledgment of… the pertinence of the ineffable and intuitive. I feel that both atheism and deism can be somewhat restrictive and reductionist, as people tend to insist on them. Science is a huge joy, but to go ahead and (fuckin') quote Albert (fuckin') Einstein (yeah!): "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."

I want more science like that, don't you? (May the Force be with you, yo.)

dj pomegranate (#201,598)

@Eccles As a former evangelical I want to thank you for sharing this. Sometimes I feel like … people must think I'm exaggerating when I talk about the seriousness and extremism of the cultish Christian groups: Dominionism, patriarchy, Satanism, rapture, Quiverfull…etc. But what you say sounds so familiar to my own experience and to so many stories I've heard from fellow former-evangelicals, I believe you without a second thought.

If you don't already, I'd suggest checking out Stuff Christian Culture Likes on facebook and @stuffcclikes on Twitter. It's been a huge help for me personally in identifying and overcoming some of the more harmful elements of Christian culture in my life. Peace to you.

Eccles (#193,071)

@dj pomegranate Thanks, I hadn't heard of that group. Very interesting.

David Roth (#4,429)

At the risk of spamming myself in an unseemly, I feel obliged to point out that Abe's passing God-is-more-interested-in-Tebow joke is one that Bachmann has actually and actively sought.

The voters rejected Bachmann because she is a silly, lying, fascist witch. Other than some evil clown like David Duke, she is easily the worst person to run for President in my lifetime. The low point for me was when she spoke of deporting fathers to Mexico and separating them from their children. It really resembled something you'd hear in 1930's Germany. Although she wears her religion on her sleeve, she possesses none of the qualities a good Christian person might have like empathy and truthfulness. The fact that the press tried to find some silver lining in this dark cloud of a Congresswoman was really disappointing. I hope the good people of Minnesota do not send this national embarrassment back to Congress again!

Sorry but Kathy Gifford is the Perfect Monster…luckily she's too stupid to enter Politics.

JoJoKewl (#204,564)

Not that I really care, but could one of you Gold Standard people explain why Gold has intrinsic value? Can't eat it – can't drink it and you can't make whoopee with it either.

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