Friday, March 28, 2014

Althouse: The New Yorker's lame effort at un-embarrassing Jeffrey Toobin.

Althouse: The New Yorker's lame effort at un-embarrassing Jeffrey Toobin.: "Why is Toobin writing for The New Yorker? The only answer that comes to me is that the magazine is pandering to its readers, and I am insulted by the assumption that this is what we want. "

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Greg Mankiw's Blog: Too Little Faith in People, Tax Policy Edition

Greg Mankiw's Blog: Too Little Faith in People, Tax Policy Edition: "But that is not really the issue. If Paul had said "reasonable economists disagree, here are the arguments, and here is why I tend to favor one side rather than the other" I would not have objected.  Instead, in his original column, he wrote as if there were no reasonable arguments for the policy pursued by the Bush administration, and he attributed the most vile motives to those who advanced the policy.

 This episode illustrates a fundamental difference between Paul and me.  I try not to assume the worst in other people, just because they disagree with me."

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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Althouse: Jeffrey Toobin's embarrassingly bad write-up of the Hobby Lobby oral argument in The New Yorker.

Althouse: Jeffrey Toobin's embarrassingly bad write-up of the Hobby Lobby oral argument in The New Yorker.: "The second stupidest thing about Toobin's article is this cheerleading about female justices. They're "very important" he said. And the headline writer tells us they "rock." What these 3 women did was ask a lot of questions during the argument on behalf of Hobby Lobby, the party they will almost surely vote against, and this was just typical oral argument behavior. Justices ask a lot of questions of the lawyer to whom they are most antagonistic. It's not a special woman thing. If the 3 women are on the same side, it's because the 3 women are on the liberal side of the Court. Spare me your patronizing "girl power" enthusiasm. It doesn't enhance the prestige of the female Justices. Toobin is only expressing a stock allegiance t0 the liberal side of the argument."

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Althouse: Jeffrey Toobin's embarrassingly bad write-up of the Hobby Lobby oral argument in The New Yorker.

Althouse: Jeffrey Toobin's embarrassingly bad write-up of the Hobby Lobby oral argument in The New Yorker.: "The stupidest sentence in the article is this:

Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who was defending the law, invested heavily in the argument that for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby simply do not have rights to religious expression under the First Amendment. 
No, he didn't! Quite aside from the fact that he got nowhere with the argument that for-profit corporations should be treated differently from other corporations, the rights in question were not under the First Amendment. They came from a federal statute called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which Toobin never mentions in his article!"

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

For Columnist, a Change of Tone | FiveThirtyEight

For Columnist, a Change of Tone | FiveThirtyEight: "A New York Times columnist has expressed substantially more negative sentiments about FiveThirtyEight since it left The New York Times, according to a FiveThirtyEight analysis.

The columnist, Paul Krugman, who writes about economics and politics for The Times, has referred to FiveThirtyEight or editor-in-chief Nate Silver 33 times on his blog. FiveThirtyEight classified each reference based on whether it expressed a favorable, unfavorable or neutral sentiment toward FiveThirtyEight."

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Facebook: ""I'm pretty sure I have psychic abilities. I got ripped off really badly by a con artist one time. Then years later, on a hunch, I walked over to the jail to see if he'd ever gotten arrested. Not only was he there, but I showed up just in time to have a say in his parole proceedings. Plus I'm really good at guessing what time it is.""

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If she had psychic abilities, she shouldn't have been ripped off to begin with.

The 'Tooth and Nail' Doctrine | National Review Online

The 'Tooth and Nail' Doctrine | National Review Online: "If you’re interested in this, I would watch Abramski v United States extremely carefully. No two cases are the same, of course. But if the Roberts court proves to be generally sympathetic to arguments that the federal government must adhere closely to the text of hotly contested laws, Obamacare will once again be in trouble."

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It would be nice if (1) Obamacare tanked the Democrats in 2014 and 2016, leading to a Republican president who appointed more originalist judges to replace Breyer and Ginsberg and (2) the law was eventually destroyed (and repealed) by it's own poor drafting because the subsidies are only available to the 13 states, and so not feasible.

Could Obamacare really be that good?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge

Cafe Hayek — where orders emerge: "Every Koch-produced product mentioned in your video is one that consumers can choose not to purchase.  So the fact that we consumers voluntarily buy these products in large quantities means not only that we improve the Kochs’ well-being but, also and no less, that the Kochs improve our well-being in return.  It’s a win-win.

The uncoerced, mutually advantageous market exchanges through which the Kochs earn their wealth stand in stark contrast to the arrangements favored by the Kochs’ “Progressive” opponents.  These “Progressive” arrangements involve some people dictating what other people may and may not do, and some people spending, not their own money, but money forcibly taken from others.  It’s a win-lose."

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Greg Mankiw's Blog

Greg Mankiw's Blog: "Today's column by Paul Krugman is classic Paul: It takes a policy favored by the right, attributes the most vile motives to those who advance the policy, and ignores all the reasonable arguments in favor of it.

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Faith, Reason, and Evidence

In the comments to this post, Brett contends that religious tenets are matters of faith, and so arguing about the matter will not lead to any definitive resolution.

However, in my opinion, the arguments are important. A mature faith has to account for the arguments that can be made against it. A while ago I listened to a podcast featuring Richard Bushman. He spoke of a smart, faithful church friend who had made the decision not to study church history because he didn't want anything he learned to shake his beliefs. Bushman's diagnosis was that as long as this friend thought there was some fact out there that might hurt his testimony, his faith was on shaky ground.

I think the same holds true for arguments against faith. If your faith can't withstand arguments against it, it's not on firm footing. B. H. Roberts thought along similar lines about the Book of Mormon: " I am taking the position that our faith is not only unshaken but unshakable in the Book of Mormon, and therefore we can look without fear upon all that can be said against it."

I also think there is something to be gained by learning the arguments for and against your beliefs, even if your beliefs are ultimately based on faith. For example,
  1. You might discover your faith has a strong logical underpinning, strengthening your faith
  2. You might learn some arguments to support your already held beliefs
  3. You might learn how to express your already held beliefs in a more convincing way
  4. You might discover some areas of your beliefs that are not fully developed, which you can develop with more thought and study
  5. You might discover there is a certain aspect of your belief system that you cannot defend and will abandon, leaving the core of your beliefs stronger
  6. You might inoculate yourself against certain attacks on your beliefs by learning the arguments against your beliefs in an environment where you can also learn the arguments supporting your beliefs
  7. You might use arguments to clear away ground so that there is room for faith to exist

Saturday, March 22, 2014

When the Scientist Is Also a Philosopher -

When the Scientist Is Also a Philosopher - "Do you want to know a dirty little secret of economists who give policy advice? When we do so, we are often speaking not just as economic scientists, but also as political philosophers. Our recommendations are based not only on our understanding of how the world works, but also on our judgments about what makes a good society."

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Washington Post Falls For Left-Wing Fraud, Embarrasses Itself | Power Line

Washington Post Falls For Left-Wing Fraud, Embarrasses Itself | Power Line: "These facts caused a considerable amount of hilarity at IFG’s expense last October, and the Post reporters could have found out that the IFG report was a joke in about five minutes if they knew how to use Google. But maybe they don’t; or maybe they were too blinded by ideology to bother with the facts. Notwithstanding that they knew they were dealing with a disreputable source:

The material about Koch and its oil sands leases has been provided to The Post by Victor Menotti, who was arrested during the anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle back in November 1999.

That’s obviously a source that you don’t need to check!

Why would the Washington Post embarrass itself by republishing a thoroughly discredited attempt to link the Koch brothers to the Keystone Pipeline? Because that is a Democratic Party talking point, and the Post is a Democratic Party newspaper. But the truth is a little worse than that."

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Thursday, March 20, 2014

The First Mover

Yesterday, I watched a debate on God in this series of YouTube videos. I was thinking I would comment on some of the arguments.

The unmoved mover argument for God goes something like this. Nothing moves without first being moved by something else. However, there is motion, so there must also be an unmoved mover. That mover is God.

I think this argument gets you somewhere, but not quite to God. 

One argument against it is that there is no beginning to motion. Motion just goes on infinitely backwards. Possible, although evidence for the big bang undermines this argument.

Another counter-argument is that, while there is a first mover, that mover is not God. There is simply some other cause of motion. The rejoinder is that the unmoved mover is by definition God, regardless of what you call it. 

But I don't think that saying the unmoved mover is, by definition, God is quite right. Sure, we can call the unmoved mover God, but that's not really the God that we're trying to prove-- a God that takes some interest in our lives. Proving that there is a thing or phenomenon that causes motion without being moved itself does not prove that that thing cares about us humans.

But I do think the existence of motion creates some problems for atheists. Assuming motion does not go back infinitely as the big bang suggests, science currently cannot explain motion. God's existence, however, can explain motion.

Atheists might argue there is a non-god unmoved mover, we just don't know what it is. But without some evidence, this is just a declaration of the atheist's faith. Believing in a non-god explanation for motion is no more based on evidence and reason than believing in God.
"So, the climate warmed by 0.7 degrees centigrade from about 1880 to the mid-1990s according to measurements reported by all kinds of scientists. As far as I can tell from this story, the lake was fine during all of this time. And as several folks know, average temperatures around the globe, while 0.7 higher than “pre-industrial times” (not all time of course, just according to some baseline) have been flat for the time period over which the author claims this lake is dying.

 And when the possible causes for the destruction of the lake are given, what comes up #1? Yup, you got it. Climate change. If this is not evidence of the absolutely sorry state of basic scientific understand, of basic journalistic competence, of the sensibility of people that obviously this stuff is being written for, then I can’t possibly figure out what other evidence could be provided. I had intended to tone down my attitude and writings, but when this sort of stuff is front-page news, we’re doomed.

Climate change.


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Paul Ryan’s White Hood - Rich Lowry - POLITICO Magazine

Paul Ryan’s White Hood - Rich Lowry - POLITICO Magazine: "In his instantly notorious interview with radio talk show host Bill Bennett, Ryan discussed fatherlessness and the importance of role models to passing along an example of hard work. “We have got this tailspin of culture in our inner cities, in particular,” he said, “of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work.”

For this offense, Ryan was awarded an honorary white hood by the liberal commentariat. But the broad sentiments are indistinguishable from those of Obama in the statements quoted above—all emphasizing a breakdown of work and the consequences of fatherlessness and social isolation—except Obama’s comments were more explicitly racial.

When Barack Obama says such things, which are undeniably correct, he is a brave truth-teller; when Paul Ryan says them, he is making an odious play for racist votes."

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Althouse: Liberals against free speech. Well, duh!

Althouse: Liberals against free speech. Well, duh!: "Give me a break! When did "these days" begin? 30 years ago?! I have a strong feeling for the free-speech liberalism of the 1960s, which is what Savage refers to, but I haven't seen that from political "liberals" in 3 decades. So the notion that conservatives are the ones pushing free speech values is hardly surprising!"

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Judging Obama's Economy By His Own Promises -

Judging Obama's Economy By His Own Promises - "Perhaps the best metric is Obama's own promises about what his economic plan would produce. Those are contained in his first budget, which was issued in early 2009.

Above are charts comparing that budget's forecasts for key economic indicators with what actually happened.

The results are startling. The economy did far worse than Obama thought it would on every important measure.

But, his backers say, the recession was deeper than Obama expected at that point. Except that nominal gross domestic product in 2010 turned out to be exactly where Obama said it would be. It was only after then that growth fell short."

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Charles Murray on allegations of racism | AEIdeas

Charles Murray on allegations of racism | AEIdeas: "Our sin was to openly discuss the issue, not to advocate a position. But for the last 40 years, that’s been sin enough.

I’ll be happy to respond at more length to allegations of racism made by anyone who can buttress them with a direct quote from anything I’ve written. I’ll leave you with this thought: in all the critiques of The Bell Curve in particular and my work more generally, no one ever accompanies their charges with direct quotes of what I’ve actually said. There’s a reason for that."

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George Will: Russia and Ukraine share a brutal history - The Washington Post

George Will: Russia and Ukraine share a brutal history - The Washington Post: "Boys from another school pulled out the severed head of a classmate while fishing in a pond. His whole family had died. Had they eaten him first? Or had he survived the deaths of his parents only to be killed by a cannibal? No one knew; but such questions were commonplace for the children of Ukraine in 1933. . . . Yet cannibalism was, sometimes, a victimless crime. Some mothers and fathers killed their children and ate them. ... But other parents asked their children to make use of their own bodies if they passed away. More than one Ukrainian child had to tell a brother or sister: ‘Mother says that we should eat her if she dies.’"

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The Corner | National Review Online

The Corner | National Review Online: "The protest was planned for 11:30 am, but protestors did not show up on time. Around 11:45, reporters found protestors eating a late-morning meal and drinking coffee at a Wendy’s restaurant next door to McDonald’s."

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Monday, March 17, 2014


Althouse: "Does Chemerinsky have anything new to say — anything that doesn't make the pressure on Ginsburg even more unseemly? Her birthday just came up a couple days ago, and she hit 81. Last year was the landmark 80. 81 is not special, other than to be — yikes! — even older than 80. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. and John Paul Stevens both served until they were 90.

 Is the 90 mark only for men? This would be the "war on women" if the President were a Republican. But the President is a Democrat, so it's Step aside, old lady."

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5 Things Women Need To Do In Their 20′s (Or Else The Suffragists Died For Nothing) | Thought Catalog

5 Things Women Need To Do In Their 20′s (Or Else The Suffragists Died For Nothing) | Thought Catalog: "1. Mess around
Sexual liberation has done so much for women everywhere, and while our government still refuses to provide us with what we are more than entitled to (free abortions and free birth control) we still have lots of opportunities to have casual hookup fun and flirty, bubbly flings without being burned at the stake by judgmental cisgendered old men with white beards."

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I think this is parody. I think.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jackson Lee: U.S. Has Been 'Operating' Under Constitution for 400 Years | National Review Online

Jackson Lee: U.S. Has Been 'Operating' Under Constitution for 400 Years | National Review Online: "

“Maybe I should offer a good thanks to the distinguished members of the majority — the Republicans, my chairman and others — for giving us an opportunity to have a deliberative constitutional discussion that reinforces the sanctity of this nation and how well it is that we have lasted some 400 years, operating under a constitution that clearly defines what is constitutional and what is not.”"

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Althouse: "Don’t get me wrong: I love a nice bouncy rack. And if a show has something smart to say about sex, bring it on."

Althouse: "Don’t get me wrong: I love a nice bouncy rack. And if a show has something smart to say about sex, bring it on.": "I was reading those 2 things this morning after getting halfway through the second episode last night. I'd watched episode 1 in it's entirety a few days before. I'd noticed the critical attention the show was getting, and Matthew McConaughey had just won the Oscar, so I gave it a chance. Why did I stop midway through episode 2? It wasn't the sex. It was the mumbling. Between McConaughey and the other guy who looks too much like him (Woody Harrelson), it was way too much 2 guys mumbling. This show could not fill the aching gap left by "Breaking Bad," which we watched, all 60 episodes in just about exactly 60 days. In "Breaking Bad," not only was it easy to tell Aaron Paul and Bryan Cranston apart, but the 2 actors frequently spoke quite clearly."

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Facebook: "I'd say my saddest moment was when I got an abortion. But I'm not sure if sad is the right word, because I was young and it was definitely the right decision, but sometimes it still feels like something is missing. Like there was this space that could have been filled by someone, but I chose to leave that space empty. And now there's just a space. Does that make sense?"

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Institutionalized Pseudo-Science «

Institutionalized Pseudo-Science «: "Nicely done.  The PPACA was passed first and foremost to bring insurance to the uninsured.  I always thought that the Left misunderstood (accidentally or on purpose, I do not know) the nature of the uninsured and thus overestimated what impact the PPACA would have in this regard.  But one way or another, you would track the impact, right?  I can just imagine trying to explain to my old boss Chuck Knight why we spent billions to reduce a certain product’s cost but did not track whether we had actually reduced the cost.

 Postscript:  Here is my prediction — The Administration will declare that no one had “real” insurance (as they define it) so everyone in the exchange was previously uninsured."

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

The president's power grab -

The president's power grab - "

• On his own authority, Obama also chose other dates for compliance with the employer mandate. 

• The heart of the healthcare law was a set of minimum requirements for insurance plans. After Obama was embarrassed by the cancellations of millions of nonconforming plans (when he had said no one would lose a plan they had and liked), he created first one temporary exemption and then, last week, another, adding two years to the compliance deadline set by law.

 • Congress ended a subsidy for members of Congress and their staffs so that they would obtain insurance under the ACA on the same terms as other citizens. Obama ordered that the same subsidies would continue, in defiance of the law.

The president has shown similar unilateral inclinations in other areas:

• He asked Congress to change the law to exempt certain classes of immigrants — particularly children — who are in the U.S. illegally from deportation. Congress refused to pass the so-called Dream Act, but Obama proceeded to order agencies to effectively guarantee the very same changes.

• The administration ordered all U.S. attorneys to stop prosecuting nonviolent drug crime defendants who would be subject to what Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. called draconian mandatory minimum sentences. The new rule effectively negates sentencing provisions set by Congress.

• Obama opposed the No Child Left Behind Act and in effect nullified it through waivers of his own making.

• For years, the Wire Act was interpreted to mean that Internet gambling was prohibited, which some states and businesses opposed. The Obama administration declared the act would now be treated as having the inverse meaning.,0,5262266.story#ixzz2vXHHWxMv

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Blame the Republicans, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Blame the Republicans, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty: "Personally, I strongly favor blaming Republicans.  I think 80% of the blame heaped on Republicans is justified.  What mystifies me, however, is the view that Republicans are somehow uniquely blameworthy.  If you can blame Republicans for lying about WMDs, why can't you blame alcoholics for lying to their families about their drinking?  If you can blame Republican leaders for supporting bad policies because they don't feel like searching for another job, why can't you blame able-bodied people on disability because they don't feel like searching for another job?"

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The president's power grab -

The president's power grab - "This massive shift of authority threatens the stability and functionality of our tripartite system of checks and balances. To be sure, it did not begin with the Obama administration. The trend has existed for decades, and President George W. Bush showed equal contempt for the separation of powers. However, it has accelerated at an alarming rate under Obama. Of perhaps greater concern is the fact that the other two branches appear passive, if not inert, in the face of expanding executive power."

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Bush showed equal contempt, but Obama has accelerated the shift in authority. They are equal, but Obama is more equal.

The president's power grab -

The president's power grab - "Recently, a bizarre scene unfolded on the floor of the House of Representatives that would have shocked the framers of the Constitution. In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced that he had decided to go it alone in areas where Congress refused to act to his satisfaction. In a system of shared powers, one would expect an outcry or at least stony silence when a president promised to circumvent the legislative branch. Instead, many senators and representatives erupted in rapturous applause; they seemed delighted at the notion of a president assuming unprecedented and unchecked powers at their expense."

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George F. Will: Lois Lerner, the scowling face of the state - The Washington Post

George F. Will: Lois Lerner, the scowling face of the state - The Washington Post: "In the fall of 1996, at the campaign’s climax, Democrats filed with the Federal Election Commission charges against Salvi’s campaign alleging campaign finance violations. These charges dominated the campaign’s closing days. Salvi spoke by telephone with the head of the FEC’s Enforcement Division, who he remembers saying: “Promise me you will never run for office again, and we’ll drop this case.” He was speaking to Lois Lerner."

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George F. Will: The IRS has a one-sided interest in politics - The Washington Post

George F. Will: The IRS has a one-sided interest in politics - The Washington Post: "Lerner is, so far, the face of this use of government to punish political adversaries. She knows what her IRS unit did and how it intersects with the law, and for a second time she has exercised her constitutional right to remain silent rather than risk self-incrimination. The public has a right to make reasonable inferences from her behavior.

And from Obama’s. After calling the IRS behavior “outrageous,” he now says there is not a “smidgen” of evidence of anything to be outraged about. He knows this even though the supposed investigation of the IRS behavior has not been completed, or perhaps even begun. The person he chose to investigate his administration is an administration employee and a generous donor to his campaigns."

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The lesson for non-super-power countries from Putin's seizure of the Crimea is: never give up your nuclear weapons. No one is going to step up to protect you when Russia comes invading.

If the US and UK are not going to keep their promises to protect Ukraine from this Russian invasions-- and they aren't--then they ought to give Ukraine its nuclear arsenal back. They should also pay interest in the form of missiles that can deliver warheads to Moscow.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Obama, Russia, and the Wages of Weakness | National Review Online

Obama, Russia, and the Wages of Weakness | National Review Online: "Obama says Putin is on the wrong side of history and Secretary of State John Kerry says Putin’s is “really 19th-century behavior in the 21st century.” 

This must mean that seeking national power, territory, dominion — the driving impulse of nations since Thucydides — is obsolete. As if a calendar change caused a revolution in human nature that transformed the international arena from a Hobbesian struggle for power into a gentleman’s club where violations of territorial integrity just don’t happen."

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Monday, March 3, 2014

America’s Angriest Store — Culture Club — Medium

America’s Angriest Store — Culture Club — Medium: "They stand in the middle of the aisles, blocking passage of any other cart, staring intently at the selection asking themselves that critical question: which one of these olive oils makes me seem coolest and most socially conscious, while also making the raw vegetable salad I’m preparing for the monthly condo board meeting seem most rustic and artisanal?"

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