Last updated:
7:12 PM, 19 November 2014



Jim Miller on Politics

  Email:
jimxc1 at gmail.com



What's he reading? Francis Parkman.

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<pudge/*>
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R-Rated:
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*new



Pseudo-Random Thoughts

Why Las Vegas?  As I understand it, President Obama plans to outline his unilateral immigration amnesty on TV tomorrow night, and then fly to Las Vegas to make a another speech or two, on Friday.

The Christian Science Monitor wondered about that, too, and came up with a number of explanations (not exclusive), including this one.
The choice of Nevada as a venue for the rollout of the immigration moves is an interesting one.  It’s the home state of soon-to-be Senate minority leader Harry Reid, who faces a very tough reelection fight in 2016.
Which seems plausible to me and, if correct, shows how far ahead the two men think, politically.
- 7:12 PM, 19 November 2014   [link]


That Hillary Clinton "Reset" With Russia Didn't Work Out Very Well, Did It?  For the latest evidence of that failure, consider President Putin's greeting to our new ambassador.
President Vladimir Putin greeted the new U.S. ambassador to Russia on Wednesday with a demand for Washington to treat Moscow as an equal partner and stay out of its internal affairs.

The new envoy, John Tefft, said in a written statement after presenting his credentials that he wanted to strengthen "people-to-people" ties but there were serious differences over Ukraine.

Their comments underlined the chasm between the former Cold War enemies as Tefft succeeds Michael McFaul, who was behind President Barack Obama's planned "reset" in relations with Russia and whose posting was marked by controversy and tension.

Putin met Tefft with a slight smile and they then stood stiffly beside each other posing for photographers during a Kremlin ceremony for new ambassadors.
(I am relieved to see that Tefft is a professional diplomat, not a clueless Obama contributor.)

Relations between the United States and Russia were strained when Obama took office in 2009.   He and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to believe they could be repaired from the damage done by that cowboy, George W. Bush.  They hoped to do that by — let me be blunt — appeasing Putin and company.

Their strategy has failed, all too obviously; in spite of those concessions, our relations have deteriorated, and are so bad with Putin himself that I assume — all right, hope — that experts in the State Department and CIA are even now trying to calculate how long Putin will live, since it is unlikely that we will see any significant improvement in relations, until after he passes from the scene.

Let me suggest, with a historical analogy, one reason why relations between our two nations worsened after Obama became president, and Clinton, secretary of state.

I am going to do that by way of three British prime ministers, Benjamin Disraeli, William Ewart Gladstone, and Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, best known by his title, Marquess of Salisbury, and the "Iron Chancellor" of Germany, Otto von Bismarck.   (I don't know how much each of you know about the four, so I am just linking to their Wikipedia biographies (which are fascinating), rather than give brief descriptions, which would bore some of you, and leave others still puzzled.)

Chancellor Bismark, famous for his adherence to "realpolitik", got along well with the two Conservative prime ministers, Disraeli and Salisbury, but not at all with the Liberal prime minister, Gladstone.  Here's Robert Massie's summary, explaining why.
When, in March 1880, Disraeli's Conservative government was replaced by a Liberal cabinet headed by W. E. Gladstone, talk of an alliance evaporated.  Bismark detested Gladstone.  The Chancellor was always suspicious of the manner in which the English conducted diplomacy; its dependence on public opinion seemed to him absurd.  When Disraeli and Salisbury were in power, this nervousness was soothed; they were practical, conservative men who would find a way for realism to triumph.  But Gladstone, a hero to German liberals, was a moralist who preached that conscience had a role in domestic politics and international affairs.  The Chancellor referred to the Prime Minister as "Professor Gladstone" and "that big Utopian Babbler."  Bismark believed Gladstonian morality, carried into diplomacy, led to murkiness, miscalculation, and bumbling, exemplified by England's confusion over whether her enemy in the east was Russia or Turkey.  To defend Turkey, England had stood against Russia in 1877 and at the Congress of Berlin.  But in the 1880 campaign, which led to victory, Gladstone had passionately denounced the Turks for their atrocities against the Bulgarian Christians.  Turks, Gladstone had thundered, were "that inhuman exception to the human race."  Britain's swing back and forth on issues like this made it harder for Bismark to maintain his delicately balanced European system.

In addition, the Chancellor considered Gladstone's government indecisive and ineffective in the overseas policy which most concerned Britain in the 1880s: th occupation of Egypt. (p. 83)
Do you think it likely that Putin sees Obama and Clinton in a somewhat similar way?.

I do, and I'll bring in a more recent example to support that view.  The American president who had the most success negotiating with Communist leaders was, not a moralist like Jimmy Carter, but "realist" Richard M. Nixon.  He and Bismark would not have liked each other, but they would have understood each other — and neither would have pointlessly offended the other by lecturing him on morality.
- 1:58 PM, 19 November 2014   [link]


Andrew Malcolm's Weekly Collection of jokes is not among his best. but there are some that may make you chuckle.

Malcolm liked this one best:
Meyers: The Secret Service says there have been 40 cases of White House fence-jumping in the last five years.  If the trend continues, they’re going to take away Joe Biden’s Frisbee.
But I preferred these two:
Meyers: Kobe Bryant missed his 13,418th shot, breaking the record for most shots missed in an NBA career.  Said his teammates, “I’m open!”
. . .
Conan: Obama and Putin were both in China recently.  Obama saw Putin and said, “After those midterms, it’s nice to finally see a friendly face.”
- 10:12 AM, 19 November 2014   [link]


Fake Indian Gets Interrupted by a real Indian.

Not, apparently, as a protest over Elizabeth Warren's fakery, but that's all right; we'll take the symbolism, anyway.

There should be more such protests, if she runs for president, as she may.
- 8:07 AM, 19 November 2014   [link]


Whenever There Is Another Delay On The Keystone XL Pipeline, I apologize to our Canadian friends.

There are arguments against the pipeline; there are arguments for the pipeline.  (I think the latter are far stronger, as does, by the way, our State Department.)  But there is simply no excuse for not deciding, for delaying again and again, in order that Democrats can try to keep the support of both construction workers, and wealthy environmentalists like Tom Steyer.

We should treat Canadians well, because they are fine neighbors, and because it is in our long-term interest to treat them well.

(What will happen?  Here's my best guess: When the Republicans take control of the Senate, they will pass the pipeline approval, and Obama will veto it, choosing wealthy environmentalists over working people (and consumers).  There won't be enough votes to over-ride his veto, and so it will be an issue in the 2016 election.

Money from Greens will continue to move to the Democratic Party; workers will continue to move to the Republican Party.)
- 6:20 AM, 19 November 2014   [link]


Unilateral Presidential Action On Immigration Is "Not How Our Democracy Functions"  The Washington Post reminds President Obama of his own words, words that imply that what he is threatening to do may be unconstitutional.
Three years ago, when advocacy groups pressed him to take such a step, Mr. Obama demurred.  “Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting,” he said.  “Not just on immigration reform.  But that’s not how — that’s not how our system works.  That’s not how our democracy functions.  That’s not how our Constitution is written.”
The editorial begins with a somewhat fanciful example of what could happen, if Obama goes ahead and defies democratic standards, and, perhaps, the Constitution.
Democrats urging President Obama to “go big” in his executive order on immigration might pause to consider the following scenario:

It is 2017. Newly elected President Ted Cruz (R) insists he has won a mandate to repeal Obamacare.  The Senate, narrowly back in Democratic hands, disagrees.  Mr. Cruz instructs the Internal Revenue Service not to collect a fine from anyone who opts out of the individual mandate to buy health insurance, thereby neutering a key element of the program.   It is a matter of prosecutorial discretion, Mr. Cruz explains; tax cheats are defrauding the government of billions, and he wants the IRS to concentrate on them.  Of course, he is willing to modify his order as soon as Congress agrees to fix what he considers a “broken” health system.
But the general point the Post is making — that what one president does, another may also do — is accurate.

Early in his presidency, Obama ended a discussion with congressional Republicans by saying: "I won."  It's time for Obama to admit that he lost this November, time for him to accept what the voters told him.

(This is a bit of a digression, but I wish one or two of those congressional Republicans would have reminded Obama that they had won, too.  If they hadn't won their elections, they would not have been in that room.)
- 10:53 AM, 18 November 2014   [link]


Senator Mary Landrieu Is About To Find Out How Many Friends She Has In Senate:  Specifically, among the Democrats in the Senate.
For six years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, resisted calls to vote on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Yet Tuesday -- less than three weeks before one of the pipeline's key proponents, Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana, faces voters again -- Reid is putting approval of the pipeline up for a vote in the Senate.

Landrieu, the last Democrat standing in Louisiana's congressional delegation, has made approval of the Keystone pipeline a key part of her bid for a fourth term in the Senate -- even though the pipeline won't significantly impact Louisiana voters.  The 1,700-mile underground oil pipeline would link the tar sands fields of northern Alberta, Canada, to oil refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Landrieu believes she has the 60 votes needed to proceed; others aren't so sure.

Reid's decision to allow a vote reveals — like an X-ray — his priorities.  Any legislator could have come to an informed opinion on the pipeline six years ago, could have decided whether it was, net, a good thing for the United States.  But that was not enough to persuade Reid (and his Democratic majority) to allow it to come to a vote.

But the chance that he might be able to save one Senate Democrat, is.

And there is no reason to think that a majority of Democrats in the Senate disagree with him.

(Even if she gets the vote, it probably won't save her.  She won 42.1 percent of the vote in the general election; the three Republicans together won 55.8 percent.   (Three other Democrats together won 1.4 percent.)
- 10:24 AM, 18 November 2014   [link]


Who Were The Biggest GOP Senate Winners?  Here they are, in order of their winning margins:

Republican Senate Winners in the 2014 Election

stateRepublicanDemocratmargin
WyomingMike EnziCharlie Hardy54.7% (72.3-17.6)
OklahomaJim InhofeMatt Silverstein39.5% (68.0-28.5)
OklahomaJames LankfordConstance Johnson38.9% 67.9-29.0)
MaineSusan CollinsShenna Bellows36.8% (68.4-31.6)
NebraskaBen SasseDavid Domina33.7% (64.8-31.1)
IdahoJim RischNels Mitchell30.6% (65.3-34.7)
TennesseeLamar AlexanderGordon Ball30.1% (61.9-31.8)
MontanaSteve DainesAmanda Curtis27.9% (57.9-40.0)
West VirginiaShelley CapitoNatalie Tennant27.6% (62.1-34.5)
TexasJohn CornynDavid Alameel27.2% (61.6-34.4)
South CarolinaTim ScottJoyce Dickerson24.1% (61.2-37.1)
MississippiThad CochranTravis Childers23.0% (60.4-37.4)
South DakotaMike RoundsRick Weiland20.9% (50.4-29.5)
ArkansasTom CottonMark Pryor17.0% (56.5-39.5)
South CarolinaLindsey GrahamBrad Hutto15.6% (54.5-38.9)
KentuckyMitch McConnellAlison Grimes15.5% (56.2-40.7)
KansasPat RobertsGreg Orman*10.8% (53.3-42.5)
IowaJoni ErnstBruce Braley8.5% (52.2-43.7)
GeorgiaDavid PerdueMichelle Nunn7.9% (53.0-45.1)
AlaskaDan SullivanMark Begich3.2% (48.8-45.6)
ColoradoCory GardnerMark Udall2.5% (48.5-46.0)
North CarolinaThom Tillis Kay Hagan1.7% (49.0-47.3)

When comparing these wins, we should make some allowance for how Democratic (or Republican) a state is.  And, if we do that, then the most impressive winner, by far, is Susan Collins in Maine.  In 2012, Mitt Romney lost the state to Barack Obama, 56-41% (401,306-292,276 votes).  In this off-year election, Collins actually won more votes (411,211) than Obama did in 2012.

And the least impressive winner?  Perhaps Dan Sullivan in Alaska.  Mitt Romney won the state 55-41% (164,676-122,640 votes), but Sullivan was able to attract only 119,579 votes in that hotly contested election.  (He would have done better, I suspect, if Alaska Republicans were a little less fratricidal.)

(Sources:  For the vote totals, I used the unofficial numbers from this Politico article; for general background, I used this overall Wikipedia article.)
- 3:39 PM, 17 November 2014
Oops!  I forgot Pat Roberts in Kansas.  That's fixed, now.

*I went ahead and put Greg Orman in the Democratic column, even though he was officially running as an independent.  The evidence seemed pretty strong that he would caucus with the Democrats, if he won that election.
- 6:23 PM, 17 November2014   [link]


Last Year, In Australia, Men Gave Birth to 54 babies.

Officially.

The article doesn't say how many women in Australia sired children, but I suppose a few must have, given the new rules.

No doubt biologists from all over the world are buying tickets to Australia, in order to study this phenomena.
- 12:43 PM, 17 November 2014   [link]


Vernon Jordan Has A Great "Forgettery"  And that talent may have saved Bill Clinton's presidency.

Jordan wasn't the only person close to Clinton who had lapses of memory back then.  And a few were unwilling to testify, were willing even to go to jail, rather than testify.  I thought at the time, and still think, that we are justified in inferring that those who "forgot" what they had heard and seen, or refused to tell us, under oath, were probably covering up Clinton crimes, as well as Clinton scandals.

(Here's Jordan's Wikipedia biography.)
- 9:32 AM, 17 November 2014   [link]


Who Agrees With Me That Illegal Immigration Has Hurt Working Class Americans?  Among others, President Obama.

Or at least he did, back in 2006, when he wrote Audacity of Hope.

As Neil Munro says, Obama was making the "exact argument that the president’s critics have been making as he now rushes to announce a sweeping executive order that would give work permits to millions of illegal immigrants in the country".

Let's take this one step farther.  Which ethnic groups have the highest proportions of unskilled workers?  As we all know (or should know), blacks and Hispanics.  So, we could, if we were a New York Times headline writer, say that: "Poor and Minorities Hit Hardest by Illegal Immigration".

That 2006 position might explain why the Obama administration did not even introduce a "comprehensive" immigration bill in the first two years of his presidency, when his party controlled both houses of Congress with large majorities, despite the promise in the 2008 Democratic platform.

(Back in 2006, economist Paul Krugman was making the same economic arguments as Obama — after looking at studies of the problem by other economists.   Krugman hasn't exactly changed his position on the effects, but now favors amnesty, anyway.)
- 8:06 AM, 17 November 2014   [link]


The Democrats Are Losing White Working Class Voters:  That's been going on in much of the country, for decades, and now Harry Enten spots it happening in Iowa, too.
Republican Sen.-elect Joni Ernst easily won her race in Iowa last Tuesday, beating Democrat Bruce Braley by 8.5 percentage points.  Her victory wasn’t shocking, but its size was (to everyone except pollster Ann Selzer, that is).  The final FiveThirtyEight projection had Ernst winning by just 1.5 percentage points.

What the heck happened?

Here’s one explanation:  White voters in Iowa without a college degree have shifted away from the Democratic Party.  And if that shift persists, it could have a big effect on the presidential race in 2016, altering the White House math by eliminating the Democratic edge in the electoral college.
There's more to Enten's analysis, but he doesn't go where I would have, and try to answer this question:  Why were these working class Iowans so slow to understand that the modern Democratic Party — very much including President Obama — doesn't like or respect them, and has been pursuing policies that hurt working class voters, more often than not.

For instance:  There is simply no doubt that allowing millions of illegal aliens to come into the United States has hurt the people in the bottom half of the labor force, making it harder for them to find jobs, and harder for them to get pay raises.

(Do I have an answer to my own question?  No.  But I can offer you this speculation:  Iowa is probably the nicest, least cynical, state in the United States.  That's wonderful in most ways, but it does leave Iowans vulnerable to thinking that others are mostly as nice as they and their neighbors are.

Which, unfortunately, makes them easier to fool.

For years, that very niceness has made me think that we should not choose a secretary of state from Iowa; instead, we should pick one who came from an evil country, or at least spent years living in a bad neighborhood.)
- 8:23 PM, 16 November 2014   [link]


Comets Are Black?!  Somehow, I had missed that fact, all these years.
One of the coolest things about comets is their blackness.

Think of a lump of coal or the briquettes you put on the BBQ - that's what comets would look like if you could stand on their surface.  And 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, currently being observed at close quarters by the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission, is no different.

We've joked in recent months about the shape of 67P resembling those bathtime yellow rubber ducks.

Perhaps we should refer to it as a "black swan" instead.
(To me, it looks something like a lion from an Assyrian sculpture.)

Comets are dark, even though they are mostly ice, because they have a little bit of organic compounds — think soot, and you probably won't be too far wrong — mixed in with the ice, and a little is all it takes to change the albedo from light to dark, from almost 1 to near 0.

(The New Scientist went for the gag in their article on the comet, noting that some of those organic compounds "stink".  Those compounds were also, many scientists believe, some of the building blocks for early life on earth.  And, no, you couldn't smell them if you were standing on the comet, because you can't smell anything in a vacuum.)
- 9:42 AM, 16 November 2014   [link]


Turkish President Recep Erdogan Believes Muslims Beat Columbus to the Americas.
Muslims discovered the Americas more than three centuries before Christopher Columbus, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said.

He made the claim during a conference of Latin American Muslim leaders in Istanbul, pointing to a diary entry in which Columbus mentioned a mosque on a hill in Cuba.
A diary entry, that almost every non-Muslim historian thinks was metaphorical.  Columbus saw a mountain that looked something like a mosque.

Two questions occur to me:  Why does Erdogan believe this theory?  And what did he and President Obama have in common that made them — for a while — such phone pals?

The answer to the first is easy; Erdogan believes this because he wants to believe this.   And the second?  I've been puzzling over that for years, and have not come up with even a plausible hypothesis.

(This is currently the "most read" story at the BBC site.  Because many agree with Erdogan?  Because many think the belief is absurd?  Or some combination of the two?

If Barry Fell were still alive, he'd be arguing that the Muslims were latecomers..  I don't reject the possibility that others may have crossed the Atlantic before the Norse, but I doubt that there was any regular two-way traffic, because there is no evidence of crop exchanges; there was no wheat in North America or corn (maize) in Europe and Africa in 1491.  Crops are among the very first things to be exchanged when farming peoples first meet.)
- 3:48 PM, 15 November 2014   [link]


Archives

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December 2007, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

January 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
February 2008, Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
March 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
April 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
May 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
June 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
July 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
August 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
September 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
October 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
December 2008, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

January 2009, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
February 2009, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
March 2009, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
April 2009, Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
May 2009, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
June 2009, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
July 2009, Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
August 2009, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
September 2009, Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
October 2009, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2009, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
December 2009, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. and Part 4

January 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
February 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
March 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
April 2010, Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
May 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
June 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
July 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
August 2010, Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
September 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
October 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
December 2010, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

January 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
February 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
March 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
April 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
May 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
June 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
July 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
August 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
September 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
October 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
December 2011, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

January 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
February 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
March 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
April 2012, Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
May 2012, Part 1 Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
June 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
July 2012, Part 1, Part 2 Part 3, and Part 4
August 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
September 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
October 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3and Part 4
December 2012, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

January 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
February 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
March 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
April 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
May 2013, , Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
June 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
July 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
August 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
September 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
October 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
December 2013, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

January 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
February 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4
March 2014, Part 1. Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
April 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
May 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
June 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
July 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
August 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
September 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
October 2014, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4
November 2014, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3






Coming Soon
  • Plan 17 Conservatives
  • FDR and Waterboarding
  • How Long Do Wars Last?
  • Carbon, Carbon Dioxide, and Crescent Wrenches
  • De-Lawyering and Attorney General McKenna


Coming Eventually
  • JFK and Wiretaps
  • Green Republicans
  • The Rise and Fall and Rise of Black Voting
  • Abortion, Cleft Palates, and Europe
  • Kweisi Mfume's Children
  • Public Opinion During Other US Wars
  • Dual Loyalties
  • The Power Index
  • Baby Dancing
  • Jocks, but no Nerds
  • The Four Caliphs




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