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Political “courage”

Written By: - Date published: 7:51 am, January 27th, 2011 - 99 comments
Categories: Economy, privatisation - Tags:

Today’s Herald editorial:

Courage in politics is seldom recognised when it is successful. It takes courage to challenge a sacred cow, but a well-aimed challenge can render the cow sacred no longer. John Key’s announcement of public asset sales yesterday should be recognised as a decision both courageous and well directed.

New today at exiledonline:

anyone pushing for austerity cuts and “pain” is automatically labeled “courageous”—which is an odd way of defining courage, since not a single rich politician or pundit pushing for “austerity” will actually suffer that pain, and most will profit from it. But that’s what counts as “courage” in our era. These same media elites used words like “courage” and “bold” to describe how Vietnam War deserters sent other people’s kids to die in Iraq—it was “courageous” because these warmongering draft-dodgers didn’t pander to the protesters in the streets or popular opinion.


99 comments on “Political “courage” ”

  1. ghostwhowalksnz 1

    Great moments in the “Annals of Courage”.
    Didnt we hear the same line from Karl Rove about George Bushs invasion of Iraq.

    Yes thats right, his book was called “Courage and Consequences”\

    This was just so bat shit crazy then and now

  2. Roughan providing todays “roughage”. What a load of shit.

    captcha:” failures” – precisely.

    • pollywog 2.1

      From the first link…

      The Prime Minister has made a very good case for the decision to partly privatise the state’s three power companies and its coal company and reduce its stake in Air New Zealand. He says the sales are primarily to finance the construction of other public assets that will be needed over the next five years.

      These include new schools, highways, hospital operating theatres, the faster broadband network and other infrastructure.

      …like all the new prisons we desperately “need”.

      Thing is though, when you’re forced sell a prize asset it’s usually cos you’re desperately in hock to the loansharks not because you want to be Saint John of the public good

      fuck…he must think we’re thick as pigshit !!!

      • big bruv 2.1.1

        “fuck…he must think we’re thick as pigshit !!!”

        No…..only you.

      • M 2.1.2

        ‘He says the sales are primarily to finance the construction of other public assets that will be needed over the next five years.’

        Funny, I thought that’s what taxes were for, but Key told his mates that he’d give them the money instead.

      • Fisiani 2.1.3

        Courage is doing what is right rather than what is popular.
        Courage is challenging the outdated view that 100% of a power company has, simply has, to be state owned.
        Courage is admitting that times are the toughest they have been in 70 years and same old same old does not suffice.
        Courage is taking a stand like Roger Douglas and PHIL GOFF in the 1980’s to do what needs to be done.
        Courage is taking the slings and arrows of outrageous Chicken Little horrror.
        Courage is giving his word that the government will retain 51% control despite the demands of the far right.
        Courage is risking election defeat because he knows that debt has to be repaid.
        Courage is telling people news that they dont want to hear.
        Courage is being the leader we need and want.

        • Colonial Viper

          Oh stop your kowtowing.

          Selling our strategic energy assets to the Chinese for worthless US dollars in the middle of peaking oil production is dumb and you know it.

          • Fisiani

            You know the shares will go and stay with Kiwi Mums and Dads. Why do you play the Chinese race card CV? Shame on you!

            • Colonial Viper

              Wealthy Kiwi Mum and Dads, the ones who can afford these shares, are going to flip for a quick profit. And who will be there to pick up the ownership shares in our strategic energy hard assets? (Exactly like they are queueing up for our farms and our mines): The Chinese.

          • Monty

            You are scare mongering and a liar Viper. Have New Zealanders sold all their contact Energy shares to overseas interests? = no CEN shares have pretty much been retained by the people who bought them. We have about 2000 shares – they are the same shares we bought when they were floated. There have been takeover bids that have failed because the “Mum and Dad” shareholderrs have held onto their stock.

            Key and National will win the election in a landslide. Shares will be offered to the public and the issues will be fully subscribed. We will continue to have ownership and a good investment.

            • Colonial Viper

              Mate you gotta be kiddin.

              When CEN was floated in 1999 the Chinese Government did not have almost US$3T in foreign currency reserves burning a hole in their pockets, and the Chinese Govt was not on a hard out hunt for strategic hard assets to convert those worthless piles of printed paper into.

              THEY ARE NOW.

              Sheeeesh do all these Right Wingers know ***nothing*** about what is happening in the global economy at the moment???

              Real resources are the only valuable thing out there currently, doubly so when the US is simply printing US dollars off the presses as fast as it can*

              *OK the US Treasury is actually creating hundreds of billions of brand new deposits electronically; there are no actual printing presses involved. From those Treasury funds the Federal Reserve banks are creating trillions of brand new USD, magicked into existence. The crap is worthless. Our power generating assets are not.

        • KJT

          Why did Key increase debt to reduce taxes for those who benefit most from our society.
          And now he wants to burgle our remaining assets.

          The ventriloquists dummy for a repeat of the robbery inflicted on us in the 80’s.

          • Fisiani

            The robbery of the 80s was the fault of PHIL GOFF

            • mickysavage

              Oh Fisi you are so one dimensional. Why don’t you try and address the posts rather than hurl rather blunt insults?

            • Deadly_NZ

              How do you work that out?? This from Wikipedia

              “When Labour won the 1984 elections, Goff was elevated to Cabinet, becoming its youngest member. He served as Minister of Housing and Minister of Employment. After the 1987 elections, Goff dropped the Housing portfolio, but also became Minister of Youth Affairs and Minister of Tourism. Later, after a significant rearrangement of responsibilities, Goff became Minister of Education. In the disputes between Roger Douglas (the reformist Finance Minister) and other Labour MPs, Goff generally positioned himself on the side of Douglas, supporting deregulation and free trade.”

              Nope nothing about selling anything.

        • Lanthanide

          “Courage is risking election defeat because he knows that debt has to be repaid.”
          Courage is resisting unending calls for tax cuts for 9 years so as to save money up in the bank.
          Courage is not promising and delivering tax cuts that significantly increase the countries debt.

          • Fisiani

            I think you meant to write
            Courage is resisting unending calls for tax cuts for 9 years so as to increase goverment spending by 50% to desparately try to buy votes to save Labour

        • Drakula

          “Courage is giving his word”; Oh yeh that’s rich considering the number of promises he has broken including this one that “NAT govt would not sell any public assets in the first term.”

          His words his credibility!!!!!!

          “Courage is telling people news they don’t want to hear” Oh like we are in crisis a conveniently created crisis don’t forget when the Nats came into power the books were in the black.

          There is such a thing as trading one’s way out of crises not flogging off the family silver!!!!

          • Deadly_NZ

            Actually they have not sold any assets in the first term. But now they starting to soften us up, and if they get in next year then the FOR SALE signs will be hung out.

            • Drakula

              Yes but my point is that the first term isn’t over yet is it; a lot could happen between now and the election.

              • Colonial Viper

                If they start slip sliding in the polls all talk on privatisation will go quiet. The Righties love their aset sales funding tax cuts to themselves, but they like power more.

  3. andy (the other one) 3

    But kudos to Emerson for the herald cartoon today:


  4. It takes courage to challenge a sacred cow…

    Why is it i’m reminded of Mater and Lightning McQueen, off the movie Cars, going out late night tractor tipping ?

    You stealthily rock up to the tractor, blast your horn and over they roll, totally befuddled while making a laughable farting noise.

    it’s all good fun til one awakens the angry combine harvester who then proceeds to chase you out of the paddock.

    yeah, real courageous…NOT !!!

  5. Pete 5

    It is politically courageous to put something out for debate that you know will be a tough sell and may not succeed – and may also end your political career.

    I’d far rather see someone who actually sounds like he understands what he’s talking about attempt what he believes in.

    We should debate this sensibly, explore what is the right balance of market and social policies, and public and private ownership.

    Instead there is a sadly predictable roar of rhetorical slogans from financial bogans.

    • Marty G 5.1

      when you’ve attempted to convincingly rebut the six points against selling assets that I’ve made, then you can say you want a debate. Right now, you’re just sounding desperate.

      • Pete 5.1.1

        Fair enough – I don’t have time this morning for that sort of detail, but no, I’m not desperate, this debate should take a few months so no rush. Unlike many conclusion jumpers (or spin sheep) I don’t know what the appropriate answer is yet. Each issue should be looked at on it’s merits, not from an ideological straightjacket.

        • mickysavage

          Unlike many conclusion jumpers (or spin sheep) I don’t know what the appropriate answer is yet. Each issue should be looked at on it’s merits, not from an ideological straightjacket.

          If you do not know what the appropriate answer is then you are in no position to say that any of us are conclusion jumpers, spin sheep or wear an ideological straightjacket. If you learn a bit about the subject you may conclude that we are right. If you come up with a contrary conclusion feel free to post it with your rationale and be prepared to defend it.

        • BLiP

          ideological straightjacket.

          Given that not one single privatisation in New Zealand has worked out in the best interests of New Zealanders, just who is locked into your “ideological straight-jacket”? It wouldn’t be those who are seeking to reimplement a failed policy over and over again, would it?

        • Draco T Bastard

          We’ve already had 20 years of it and the reality is that selling off state assets is bad for the country. No amount of debate will change that.

    • OK Pete let’s have this debate.

      Name me one privatisation in New Zealand that improved the plight of the local people and not the financial interests of the wealthy here and overseas.

      Then go each point of MartyG’s 6 reasons not to privatise posted yesterday (http://thestandard.org.nz/6-quick-reasons-why-asset-sales-suck/#comment-291868) and say which ones are wrong and why.

      Then explain how transferring large amounts of money overseas in the form of dividends is good for our economy.

      The only rhetorical slogans I am hearing are coming from the right. And you could call Key a financial bogan as well as a few other things.

      EDIT – bet me to it Marty!

      • AndyB 5.2.1

        I would say that this one will in fact improve the plight of the local people. Maybe we will no longer be subject to price gouging and collusion of the power companies when they are finally having to properly compete with each other.

        “The Commerce Commission’s estimate that power users were overcharged to the tune of $4.3 billion”

        edit: Thats a rip-off to the tune of $1000 per person.

        • Pascal's bookie

          Like in the telecoms market?

          • AndyB

            Did i mention the Telecoms market? I’m sure i didn’t. Anyway back to the power companies, Micky asked for one, i gave him one. Not a previous one tho, rather, what it will be like after the power companies are partly privatized.

            Anyway, on to telecoms, i’m pretty sure that it’s a whole lot cheaper to make calls now than it used to be.

            • Pascal's bookie

              Andy, your argument, such as it exists, is that a partial privatisation might protect customers from the “price gouging and collusion ” that the comcom identified.

              You offer no reason to think it should of course, so I assumed that you meant that by bringing in private investors, this would, by some mechanism unexplained, reduce the gouging.

              The telecoms market in nz has many private investors, and yet…


              there is the same sort of price gouging going on. So why should we expect any different in the electricity sector.

              It would seem that the gouging is unrelated to the ownership model.

              • AndyB

                $9.5M vs $4.3B. yea very similar indeed. in fact the telecom over charging was in no way the same as the price fixing that was going on with the power companies. They are different by orders of magnitude.

                I do believe that this would not have happened with partial private ownership, but no doubt you are about to tell me how crazy i am for believing it. Private listed companies are under much more scrutiny than public ones.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  “I do believe that this would not have happened with partial private ownership, but no doubt you are about to tell me how crazy i am for believing it.”

                  No, I’ll just ask why you believe it. Why you think the ownership model makes the difference?

                  And the 9.5 Mill thing was just one part of what’s going on in the telecoms industry…


                  it principle it looks like the telcos seem to collude to keep prices up, does it not?

                  • AndyB

                    I believe it because: “Private listed companies are under much more scrutiny than public ones”. Sure it’s happened in the past, and may in fact happen again. But i still believe that price fixing is the exception, rather than the norm. Also, thats what the commerce commission is for.

                    In principal it does look likely that there is a problem with termination rates between telco’s, that is the reason that txt and mobile rates are higher than they should be. Whether or not, it is proved to be a case of intended price fixing and collusion between telco’s remains to be seen.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Sure it’s happened in the past, and may in fact happen again.

                      No “may” about it – it will happen again. State ownership can, and should, be more open than private companies.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Try $10 to 20 billion and now we’re giving them another $1.5b of taxpayer money.

        • mickysavage


          Maybe we will no longer be subject to price gouging and collusion of the power companies when they are finally having to properly compete with each other.

          Feck do you actually mean this?

          There is one word that I think wins conclusively this argument and shows clearly how batshit crazy this privatisation idea is … and … that … word … is ENRON

          • AndyB

            Really? … Enron?, that’s your argument against part privatization of the power companies? So a listed entity, that is 51% owned by the government is going to be bankrupted by institutionalized, systematic, and creatively planned accounting fraud?


          • luva

            Micky, educate us please

            Enron is the one word because………?

            • Anthony C

              The California electricity crisis was manufactured by Enron to exaggerate prices on the wholesale electricity market.

              • luva

                Was Enron a company where the government had a majority shareholding?

                • RedLogix

                  What…just like what that nice Mr Key says will work out just fine?

                  • luva

                    Just trying to work out how some corporate fraudsters from Enron are relevant to this debate.

                    And please dont tread down the The h bomb fiasco road of ’98 and try and infer that Key is a crook

                    • RedLogix


                      You made the point that Enron was majority govt owned and that it still acted illegally. I pointed out that majority govt ownership is exactly what Key is proposing for our own SOE’s.

                      And if you are going to imagine that there are no corporate crooks here in NZ…..

                    • luva

                      The point I was making was that it was 100% privatley owned

          • travellerev

            Funny you should mention that name.

            Merrill Lynch, John Key’s bank was up to their neck in the Enron scandal but that all went out the window when in on 9/11 2001 the third tower collapsed in free fall speed breaking all laws of nature.

            Here is a link with some more information but you could also just google and do your own investigation

    • pollywog 5.3

      I’d far rather see someone who actually sounds like he understands what he’s talking about attempt what he believes in…

      OK…now that sounds like some south park NAMBLA justification…

      Like does anyone truly know the courage it takes to bestialismize a sacred cow ?

      “hey you, sacred cow..i challenge you to stay still while i brutally ass rape you.”

      “What ???… don’t you know it’s for your own good”

  6. Bill 6

    Courage? Stupidity? Or..’My scared cow is bigger than your sacred cow and can kick your sacred cows’ head in any day?’

    And then the school bell goes and on the way home and too late, the bully discovers that the wee sacred cow drives a massive public bus that fair flattens his big sacred cow.

  7. BLiP 7

    I guess there is a sort of courage in finally emerging from deep cover to set about the task set by your masters and in the knowledge that any hope of redeeming a skerrick of respect evaporates minute by minute as is becomes clearer and clearer that you’re not a nice person at all but, rather, just another international banker’s bum boy.

    • Bill 7.1

      I don’t watch much TV, but I happened to catch Campbell Live interviewing Key last night.

      His lines seemed utterly scripted and apart from the moments when a somewhat arrogant smirk lit up his face when he recognised an opportunity to deliver from his script, Key bobbed and spluttered before simply sinking

      Now, Campbell isn’t exactly the the most pointed of interviewers…

    • Olwyn 7.2

      Well said BLiP.

  8. luva 8

    I don’t know if courage is the right word but National policy for the past decade has been populist policy. “Tax cuts tax cuts tax cuts, we will give you more of your money to spend”, has been their selling point.

    In 2011 they are promoting something that is anything but populist. They now have a hard sell on their hands.

    This will show us what kind of politician Key really is. Can he sell an unpopular policy and thump Labour at the same time?

  9. Olwyn 9

    What is odd is how right wingers seem optimistic about these things, and seem resigned to the idea the the modern economy rests more and more on dispossession rather than production. This no doubt has to do with looming peak oil, as well as the fact that production has largely moved to Asia and places like Mexico. If you look at our history since Britain joined the common market, we have Rob Muldoon’s idea of borrowing enough to make us self sufficient and then telling the bankers to sing for it. Then we have Douglas’s faith-based position, that if we dutifully obey our creditors and privatise everything, we will get a star on our book and miraculously turn into Switzerland – I think he really did believe something like that. The we have Richardson, who seemed to actually believe in dispossession for its own sake on Randian, or similar grounds. Under Helen Clark’s much kinder Labour government, a housing bubble developed, which resulted in piece meal dispossession through housing and land. It is probable that people like Michael Cullen saw the potential for leverage in increased house prices; that it would give people the wherewithal to start productive enterprises, but instead acquisition became an end in itself. Now we have Phil Goff’s idea about developing high tech enterprises, with little detail so far as to what those enterprises might be, or who is going to invest in them rather than stick with the passive but reliable dispossession model.

    After that long rant, I would have more respect for a politician who has the courage to call dispossession for what it is, and genuinely seek alternative answers.

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Key hawking off our assets to the lowest bidder is another sign of peak oil. The capitalists have figured out that the only way to make money now is to canabalise stuff we already own.

  10. MrSmith 10

    Yes that’s right ‘peck oil’ is just around the corner if not here already and that signals the end of cheap energy, After running the country into the ground wasting money on tax cuts and roads of Insignificance what does this government propose lets sell off 49% of our clean green free energy go figure, these bunch wouldn’t have a bright idea between them lets thrown them out on there ear.

  11. johnm 11

    Saw him on Campbell Live he came across as a red herring “Mums and Dads” Snake Oil Salesman.Part of the routine to sell your sh*t is image : flash suit and good grooming!

  12. Deadly_NZ 12

    STOP for a minute. take a deep breath, now flick back a page and have a look at the picture for Shonky ( I know this is hard but bear with me for a min) Now is that, or is that not an EXTENDED middle finger??????

  13. Jim Nald 13

    “It takes courage to challenge a sacred cow … John Key’s announcement of public asset sales yesterday should be recognised as a decision both courageous and well directed”

    The Herald Editorial is misguided. The Editorial sees balls where there’s really bullshit.

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      Yeah that’s because the Herald has been dunking in it so deep for so long that it can’t tell which hole is which any more.

  14. Lazy Susan 14

    Listening to Key on Morning Report he said that he’s proposing to:

    1) sell off these revenue earning assets (power companies)
    2) pay off public debt
    3) increase non-revenue earning public assets (health, education etc.) so that overall the public asset base will increase.

    Courage alone will be insufficient to convince the NZ public that the above 3 incompatable items are compatable. What will be required is very large amounts of bs. Looks like the Herald is already up for the challenge.

  15. Treetop 15

    Political “courage” my arse! More like “morally bankrupt.”

    • KJT 15.1

      Courage? Rather safe in the knowledge he will be rewarded by his partners in crime for attempting to repeat the 80’s and defraud New Zealanders. Again! No matter what the outcome.

      They will just wait patiently until we have added more value to our assets and then try and have another go with better spin, more pressure on the media and another charismatic ventriloquists dummy.

      • Treetop 15.1.1

        Key’s MO is testing the waters to see what his lot may get away with. They did it with GST and underestimated the return. Same with available spending this year about 700 mil down about 400 mil.

  16. KJT 16


    To give just two examples of the effect on New Zealand’s liabilities: the Ameritech/Bell Atlantic/Fay, Richwhite, Gibbs,Farmer syndicate bought Telecom for $4.25 billion in July 1990, when the company had shareholder funds of $2.5 billion. Shareholder funds declined over the next several years despite cost-cutting because of large capital payments to its shareholders who walked out of the company from 1997 with a realised capital profit of $7.2billion, in addition to a share of over $4.2 billion in dividends[i]– adding approximately $10 billion to New Zealand’s international liabilities. Between1990 and 1998 the company’s shareholder funds halved to $1.1 billion by when it was heavily in debt. In the decade from 1995 to 2004, Telecom paid out dividends of $6.7 billion from net earnings declared in New Zealand of $5.4billion, of which approximately $5.0 billion went overseas[ii].

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      Fay, Richwhite and co. were brilliant men! We should be celebrating their success and their wealth, not cutting them down like tall poppies and being envious of them.

      They saw opportunities for themselves and took them. What could possibly be wrong with that? One man’s success is success for us all. I mean, if you were to work just as hard KJT, there’s no reason you couldn’t be just as successful and as happy as they are.

      All you have to do is make the right choices, and work hard, and you’ll earn the big money just like Fay, Richwhite and co.

      We are all so much better off as a country for the contributions of these people, surely. We need more of their kind doing their wonderful work on our behalf. They are smarter and more talented than all the rest of us. Celebrate success and aspiration, I say!

  17. rob 17

    I am not a mum or a dad so do I miss out?

    • Fraid so and if you are not a wealthy mum or dad you also miss out. But you do get to pay more for power and some of your money gets sent overseas to wealthy people. And it is likely that coal will be burned to give you power so that your environment will be stuffed up.

      Feeling better?

      • rob 17.1.1

        You are right, yet such a downer. At least John Key can rob us blind with a smile on his face. I could almost hear the ghost of Don Brash giving a little cheer from his office in the possibly corrupt Hulijch Investments…

        To be serious though, the term “mum and dad investor” is one a fairy tale type term, and two, usually means investors with no real knowledge or previous experience.

  18. The Herald and Key are getting hammered in the Herald’s comments section

    • Deadly_NZ 18.1

      Not any more. The comments sections are gone, as are all the negative comments. And even a couple of the more balanced stories seem to have vanished as well. Now that’s the Herald showing it’s true colours. And a nice pic for this story of JK giving us all the finger.

  19. the sprout 19

    even the munters at Kiwiblog don’t support privatization – take a look at DPF’s poll in the left-most column of the Bog. Despite the careful push-polling weasel wording of the question and the audience, it’s still 63% against 😆


    should be fun seeing the Little Austrian trying to defend this one

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Key must be risking a public backlash to satisfy internal National Party politicking.

      Its far enough out from the election that he can safely do that, and tell his Right Wing that they could keep the pressure up on it, but they put the reigns of power at risk.

      The Right like their money and their asset sell offs. But they like the power better.

  20. seeker 20


    “It is politically courageous to put something out for debate that you know will be a tough sell and may not succeed – and may also end your political career.”

    I don’t believe Key cares – I think he is going to leave politics when this election is over. He said as much on his ‘holiday’ interview. He also said to the press on TV on 10-10- 09- “politics is much harder than you think”. He has never been cut out for politics -celebrity yes- good ethical leadership of the country a definite NO.
    He will have done his task of getting National in (by national animal magnetism!?) and has now told the country what National/Business really wants- privatisation- to line their already swollen wallets after they had been given that other amoral Key gift -5% tax cuts- disgusting! None of the last 2 years has been about New Zealand and its people. Just power for the sake of power and what certain people can get out of it. Typical centuries old Conservative egocentricity.

  21. Pete 21

    Chris Trotter on courage:

    Last Tuesday Phil Goff had the opportunity to demonstrate not only the courage of the party but his own willingness to risk everything for a Labour victory.

    He failed on both counts.

    Had you dared more, Mr Goff, you would have failed less. Courage is it’s own reward.

    I partially agree with Trotter on having the guts to have a $10k no tax threshold – it would force a total revamp of our tax system, simplification, clarity and honesty. Remove WFF (some people are tax free up to $50k and higher now) and all “take and give back” allowances.

    The best way to minimise evasion and “arranging one’s affairs” is to have a simple, clear fair tax system.

    • Marty G 21.1

      this is why Trotter is one of those “righties’ lefties”, like bryce edwards who is looking to replace him in the dom.

      I’ve already laid out my vision for a radically overhauled, simplier tax and redistribution system ( http://thestandard.org.nz/the-new-economy-tax-redistribution/ ) but just because Goff’s plan doesn’t get there doesn’t mean it isn’t steps in the right direction.

      Trotter and Edwards can’t take progress as a good thing. It’s always not enough. That means all they ever do is criticise the Left and feed ammunition for the right.

      If I was trotter and edwards I would look at who is quoting me most regularly (farrar, the likes of Pete) and wonder whose side I’m actually on.

  22. North 22

    The man, albeit fabulously wealthy of his own “hard work”, is a nerd/creep. Unwittingly even. For that is Crosby Textor.

    And the editorial is just the Herald having a wank – a perfunctory wank I suspect – “facile” well describes it.

    This is an issue out in election year. If Mr Simpering Johnny wins the argument with a resounding return, then at least we know. Time to stop caring about foreigners eventually owning our balls, us becoming a cash-cow suburb of Los Angeles/Melbourne/Hong Kong.

    At least the issue’s out. And it’s timely for people to look a bit into the future and see the same fellow earnestly explaining why the country JUST CANNOT AFFORD NOT to go below 50%.

    Unspoken (The Herald will help out) – “If we don’t…..watch out your services…..your health……your pension. And if you’re on a benefit…..well !”

    Bastards they are !

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