Ken Collins: 1 side of the argument

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Freedom. Can’t live without it. So we have a conference every fall to reinforce it. The Steamboat Institute brings it to us. What a privilege we have in that respect, and another sterling set of speakers, too. 

In a time of almost unprecedented partisanship, we will be able to enjoy one of the most polarizing people to walk the Earth (but still behind last year’s Freedom Conference keynote speaker Ann Coulter) in the person of Dick Cheney. To paraphrase him: We’ll be greeted as liberators in the streets of Baghdad; the Iraq war will probably last a couple of months; America doesn’t need to know what was discussed by the Energy Task Force. 

Cheney is a man many people — and not just those on the far left — consider evil. We are paying big time for his war efforts, his energy policies, his “Reefer Madness” security policies, his Halliburton decisions in America and Iraq as a top policy maker, and many other miscalculations he’s made during his long inglorious career in politics and business. When he opened his mouth, chances are that he was wrong or people would die or both. And he is coming to Steamboat Springs this summer to tell us like it is. That’s his right. The Bill of Rights and the Constitution say so. Of course, his interpretations of both have often bordered on the absurd. The Steamboat Institute has a way of bringing one side of the argument. I guess Bill Maher, Michael Moore and Rachel Maddow were too busy. If that man is your guiding light on where America should go, then God, please, bless America.

Ken Collins

Oak Creek

Comments

Charlie MacArthur 1 year, 9 months ago

Mr. Collins,

I appreciate your interest in the Steamboat Institute and, albiet negatively, your interest in the keynote speaker to this year's conference, Former Vice President Dick Cheney. As a board member to the Steamboat Institute, I helped play a role in determining this year's lineup. Like you, I had some reservations about bringing Vice President Cheney to Steamboat. As a strong fiscal conservative, I have concerns about the size of all elements of our government today, including our military. The Bush/Cheney years are known for a lot of things, fiscal conservancy not leading them.

However, whatever reservations I had have been short-lived. The simple and important truth is that Dick Cheney was Vice President of the United States. Period. Steamboat is a town of around 12,000 citizens in North-West Colorado. About 0.004% of the larger U.S. population. It is an incredible testament to the hard work of all members of the Steamboat Institute that a tiny town in Northern Colorado could secure a speaking engagement from a former Vice President. I may not agree with every decision made in the Bush/Cheney years but I have tremendous respect for the office held. The former Vice President and I have a great many things on which we agree, and I will be honored to meet him. The beauty of our system is that we can routinely toss-out those we disagree with and try again. I assume you exercised that right in 2008 and 2012.

Finally, as a board member to the Steamboat Institute, I can tell you with complete honesty that I hope you attend our conference this year and bring any and all tough, respectful, and engaging questions you may have. At our monthly meetings I have routinely challenged our audience to bring guests of opposing viewpoints. The Steamboat Institute has a strong set of core values and we have an unwavering respect for the individual rights which allow us to espouse those. We do not, however, wish to classify our audience. If you desire a different Freedom Conference, we would be interested in your thoughts.

I, for one, will be honored to meet the Vice President. I will be interested in his thoughts, critical of his words, and proud that we have the freedom to be both.

Charlie MacArthur

P.S. The Keynote Speaker last year was former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, not Ann Coulter. Ann was the dinner speaker at our winter dinner last year.

Coincidentally, we have spent many hours recently working on bringing a Jon Stewart, Rachel Maddow, or Bill Maher to Steamboat in the form of a debate. Unfortunately, those speakers demand fees in the many tens of thousands of dollars. Something we simply can not afford for a speaker on either side of spectrum. If you have other debate suggestions, please feel free to let us know. I would rather stack bricks on my head than listen to Michael Moore, so you'll probably have to look elsewhere for that one.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

Charlie,

Have you tried Andrew Sullivan? To me, he would be much closer to the Steamboat Institute's stated objectives than most speakers. He is a fiscal and cultural conservative, but with strong libertarian views. And he thinks the neocons were wrong and then proven wrong.

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Fred Duckels 1 year, 9 months ago

One can argue the decisions made by our leaders but during Cheney's time he was openly attacked from the left as wall as the media. Try that today as an ever receding main stream ]media cowers to lap dog status in order to continue access and relevence. Bob Woodward is the only one with enough whiskers to man up. Mistakes can be debated but our "Lance Armstrong" president still walks on water making Collin's comments trivial by comparison.

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Charlie MacArthur 1 year, 9 months ago

Scott and Ryan,

The speaking fees for Andrew Sullivan and David Brooks are in the ranges of $25,000-$50,000 and $20,000-$40,000, respectively. I agree completely that they are worthy speakers and would be valuable presenters in our town. If you have an interest in seeing those speakers in Steamboat, I invite you to produce your check book and we'll be the first to produce an invitation. The speakers the Steamboat Institute provides are wholly funded by grants from other like-minded private groups and individual donations. We are at the mercy of those who believe in what we do, and we provide content which both aligns with our 5 core principals and is of interest to those same contributors.

If you were to look through our speaker list for last year's Freedom Conference, or this years 1773 Club meetings, I believe you would find a diverse group of speakers. Are some polarizing? Absolutely. Do most disagree with the direction that President Obama has led this country? Of course, but that is because the current administration is guided by a different philosophy than we are. One can have respect for the office of the President or Vice-President and still vehemently disagree with the direction of those who hold that office. The fact that 47% of Americans went about their day peacefully on November 7th is an incredible testament to that respect.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

Charlie,

Thank you for your informative responses. How about Hally Barbour? I know he is hardly new, but he did recently govern a state.

Seems to me that Steamboat Institute promotes itself as a conservative ideas conference and then invites high profile people with old worn out ideas.

The Aspen Institute, in contrast, does not focus on high profile speakers, but on creating conferences with highly knowledgeable people that often end up making news. It seems that Steamboat Institute positions itself as a conservative version of the Aspen Institute, but has none of the prestige or credibility of the Aspen Institute.

I think the issue is not so much that you all invited Coulter, Bolton or Cheney, but that there isn't also a list of notable people with different ideas. It looks like Steamboat Institute is a far right wing institute that puts out press releases claiming to being a place of creative conservative thinking.

I am not going to write a check to bring a speaker for you. You all appear fortunate to have sponsors with deep checkbooks to bring in big names. Unless you all can convince your sponsors to bring in speakers with more diverse ideas then the Steamboat Institute will not become more prominent.

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mark hartless 1 year, 9 months ago

I'm actually impressed with Mr. MacAuthur's ability to maintain respect for "the office".

Personally, I can not summon one single ounce of respect for the office of president, VP, congress, nor for the men who hold them.

Perhaps this so-called respect can be maintained by the false sense of hope peole have in their politicians; an affliction which no longer bedevils me.

Hanging hopes on politicians to fix America is akin to hoping an arsonist will make a good fire marshall.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 9 months ago

Charlie, You write well. And I have no problem with what you write - until your last sentence.

Removal suggested.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

Why removal suggested?

On November 7th, 52% of the population went about peaceably despite having a Congress that didn't represent the popular vote.

Democratic Congressional candidates won more votes than Republican Congressional candidates, but Republicans won more seats.

And now we can see the consequences of gerrymandered districts that put the party that won fewer votes in charge of Congress. Gerrymandered districts have allowed a minority of the population to have a strong majority in Congress. And the gerrymandered districts diluted the vote of the majority so the majority is represented by substantially less than half of Congress.

Anyone concerned with violence on the streets should worry about election results where the the party that wins the most votes does not win the election. And 2012 Congressional was not the first time Democrats went along peaceably after losing an election with the most votes. Gore nationally won substantially more votes than Bush.

Pretty ironic when a republican is thankful there isn't violence after losing the Presidential election when the republican candidate clearly lost when democrats have won national vote counts, but not the elections.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 9 months ago

If a peaceful reaction to an election is incredible testimony of respect from the minority, a violent reaction is simply a matter of less respect. Charlie allows a rational for violence that puts us all that much closer too it.

There is zero respect needed for a peaceful political reaction in this country. All you need is sanity. A violent political reaction, within the U.S., is insanity. That is a boundary that also deserves Charlie's respect.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

Charlie,

I think the SB Institute misses chances to be locally relevant by failing to hold conferences on local issues. Topics such as:

Should SB City have a property tax?

Affordable housing policies in a resort city - effective or counterproductive?

Redevelopment districts in wealthy cities - effective or counterproductive?

The future of airline subsidy programs.

Presumably, Steamboat Institute has knowledge on how to create conferences and would create a better discussion of issues than at City Council meetings which are not conductive to a discussion among knowledgeable people.

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Charlie MacArthur 1 year, 9 months ago

As a final response... Scott, Thank you for your suggestions. The Steamboat Institute has been evolving for many years and will continue to do so. If you would like to discuss the viability of those topics I will be happy to do so with you at our next meeting. BTW, it is not ironic that I'm thankful for the lack of violent protest when President Obama won. I'm also thankful that Democrats didn't flip my car after the 2000 and 2004 elections. As Americans, we all have the right and responsibility to take up arms and overthrow our government if we deem conditions require it. Under Democrats and Republicans government has grown uncontrollably and infringed upon just about every right we hold sacred. There is some cause for revolt but I am thankful for every year since 1865 that Americans have not exercised that right. If you'll recall our last civil war, about 2% of the American population died. That's roughly 6.2 million Americans if a similar situation were to transpire today, a cost we should all be thankful to avoid.

Mark, I believe that, by definition, participation in the Steamboat Institute would imply that I do not rely solely on politicians to fix America.

Ryan and Scott, We have invited Haley Barbour (twice I think). As a sitting governor, he is very difficult to schedule. We have also invited Harry Reid when we invited his opponent, Sharon Angle. I have listed past Freedom Conference speakers below. As you peruse it, you will see a diverse mix of speakers of various areas of expertise. Pick apart as you like, but the fact remains that, if you hold our set of core values as your own, you will have no trouble finding something to enjoy at our conference. If the premise doesn't fit, neither will the results.

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Charlie MacArthur 1 year, 9 months ago

Inclusive to Freedom Conference only. Does not include 1773 Meeting speakers...

• Congressman Mike Pence • Robert Woodson • John Fund (WSJ) • Dan Mitchell • J. French Hill • Grace Marie Turner (Galen Institute) • Tony Blankley • Mario M. Carrera (Univision) • Marcelo Gaete (Univision) • Michael Reagan • Prof. James Humes • Congressman Michele Bachmann • Patrick J. Michaels (Cato Institute Climatologist) • Prof. William M. Gray(CSU Climatologist) • Marc Morano (Journalist) • Kirsten Fedewa (Public Relations) • Grover Norquist • Virginia Thomas • Sharron Angle (US Senate candidate) • Peter Brookes (Heritage Foundation) • Cliff May (Foundation for Defense of Democracies) • Claudia Rosett (Foundation for Defense of Democracies/ Editorial Board WSJ) • Christopher Horner (Author/ Competitive Enterprise Institute) • Karl Rove • Yaron Brook • Kellyanne Conway (TV Personality and Public Relations) • Amy Oliver (Talk Show Host) • Robert Goldberg (Center for Medicine in the Public Interest) • Michael Tanner (The Cato Institute) • Brian Ivers (United States Marine) • Jason Mattera (Author/Editor of Human Events) • U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (by video) • Newt Gingrich (by video) • Ambassador James K. Glassman • Attorney General John Suthers • Attorney General Greg Zoeller • Attorney General Alan Wilson • Kevin Jackson (Author) • Jonah Goldberg • Congressman Todd Rokita (IN) • Congressman Joe Walsh (IL) • Congressman Bob Schaffer • Congressman Bob Beauprez • Hal Scherz, M.D. (founder of Docs4PatientCare) • John Harpole (Founder and CEO of Mercator Energy) • Jim Geringer (Governor of Wyoming) • Lt. Col. Steve Russell (Author) • Steve Moore (Senior Economics Writer for the Wall Street Journal) • Thomas McDevitt (President Washington Times) • Ann McElhinney (Movie Producer) • Prof. William Black • Mary Katharine Ham • Ambassador John Bolton • Congressman Earnest Istook • Matt Spalding (Heritage Foundation) • Sally Pipes (Pacific Research Institute) • Congressman Dana Rohrabacher • Hannah Giles (Journalist) • Michele Malkin

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bill schurman 1 year, 9 months ago

What a group. Oh well, the "ridhties" need their outlet too.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 9 months ago

Cheney is a monster. Biden is a big mouthed idiot. They both made themselves rich feeding at the public trough which is the main objective of 95% of career politicians. A pox on all their houses.

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Kevin Chapman 1 year, 9 months ago

Ken thanks for your letter. I agree with you whole heartedly. It sounds to me that cost effective, polarizing, fear mongering, fabricating , hyberbolic attention seeking right wing speakers may be the most that we can expect from "The Steamboat Institute". Institutional indeed. State-Like.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 9 months ago

In my opinion, the Steamboat Institute should have every latitude to invite speakers of any stripe. Yes the speakers are polarizing; Fundraising benefits from partisan messages are well established, as Charlie describes. SI has a brand. As Ken Collins' letter and the above posts highlight, there is no confusion about that brand.

Scott has it right. The Steamboat Institute's mission is not about learning about and fixing problems. You don't sell tickets to do that. The Steamboat Institute is about voicing a message and raising money to further amplify that message.

The good news is SI stimulates opposition. At some level we have a dialogue and exchange of ideas. The bad news is that exchange happens outside the Institute far more than within it.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 9 months ago

Ken, Scott, Ryan, Bill and Kevin, As I am relatively new to town and don't know any of you personally I have a question. As you exercize your right to free speech and criticize The Steamboat Institute's choice of speakers have any of you ever attempted to organize and offer speakers that might espouse your points of view. From my perspective I think it better to use the "bully pulpit" to voice your own opinions and open yourself up to dialogue from the "other side" rather then hit the easy button and criticize others. I will look forward to your ad in the Steamboat Today announcing the time, location and list of speakers. One question for Ken. As you refer to Vice President Cheney as "evil" and he endorsed the use of waterboarding and to the best of my knowledge they live through it, how would categorize the use of drones by the current administration. To the best of my knowledge the victims of drone strikes are not around to tell folks what that was like. Cheers

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 9 months ago

Dan,

My questions to the SB Institute are based upon their press releases of being a center of conservative ideas vs the reality of their high profile speakers.

When Charlie MacArthur responded and gave insight to the workings of the Steamboat Institute then that generated more questions.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 9 months ago

Dan, It is amusing that you are probably right. Ken hit the "easy button". But only because the buttons are so obviously easy. Water boarding is small enough in the list of Cheney accomplishments that Ken didn't even bring it up. Ken himself writes the Steamboat Institute is free to bring whomever. I like his larger point: bringing a polarizing speaker to an event insulated from the public by $250 seats also means the rest of us will be talking about Cheney's politics and Steamboat Institutes politics for months to come.

Why should responses to the Steamboat Institute's event be limited to staging other speakers of the opposite stripe? Ken's free letter in the newspaper is a standard of American dialogue, and a perfect response to those $250 seats.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 9 months ago

For some reason "easy button" brings me to a related memory.

I was one of a small group who regularly gathered on the courthouse lawn in early 2003. We were there with signs protesting the planned invasion of Iraq. And we were there protesting after the war began. During those months we were obviously a minority position. The middle finger backhands and glares made it harder, but I understood that part.

After the war began, conservative leaders found room to call our protests "aiding and abetting", and "giving comfort to", our enemy. I believe it was on Meet the Press where I watched Cheney make the same call. Mind you Dan, these are literal and statutory terms for treason.

I pulled my sign out today. It says "bring them home".

I understand how that read to the family of a soldier. But I still felt they should come home. It was not easy. Years later Congressional testimony asked a military participant why a room of smart people let this war happen. His response: "The vice-president".

I look forward to his visit.

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mark hartless 1 year, 9 months ago

Ken, I'd like to second Dans request for you to share some of your insight on why a water-boarding Dick Cheny is more "evil" than a drone-killing Barack Obama. I'd love to hear your elplanation for that one myself.

And a quick question for Steve: Did you protest the war Obama started in Libya on the courthouse steps; or what Obama is doing in Syria, or Yemen, or his renewal of the Patriot Act or his Justice Departments gun running ops in Mexico... or ANYTHING he has done that equals the civil rights violations of the Bush/Cheney years????? Got any signs made up for THOSE momentous occaisions, Steve???

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Mike Isaac 1 year, 9 months ago

Mark it is very clear to many that the DEMS have their own version of Dick Cheney and that mans name is Barak H Obama. But Mr Obama has out Cheney'ed Dick Cheney by passing the NDAA after saying he would not sign it. Then this man gos on TV to tell the general public that he was against this bill and is on the side of the ACLU, Ron Paul and the Patriot movement and wants this bill tossed. However his team of lawyers are doing everything to keep the NDAA intact. The worst thing about this bill is it had bi partisan support and is far more Draconian than the Patriot Act and the left says nothing. So Torture and Drones killing US citizens, being locked up without being charged or a trial date and secret kills list are things that make a DEM smile as long as these things are being done by a Dem in the White House. Hey Steamboat Institute lets invite President Obama along with Dick Cheney since these two are so much alike. Or better yet Dick can stay home In Jackson Hole , WY and Obama can go on with his attack on the 2nd amendment in Chicago. And SI can bring in Alex Jones and Ron Paul 2 men that believe in liberty and freedom.

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Dan Kuechenmeister 1 year, 9 months ago

While this whole string was initiated by an article criticizing The Steamboat Institute, there has been some great Cheney bashing. I don't know if it is ideological so I can't speculate on that. I think most reasonable people would agree that while waterboarding is no longer utilized (to the best of our knowlwedge) by U.S. interogators, the Obama administration has actually enhanced many of the Bush/Cheney policies toward terrorists and security of the U.S. It is hard to find any acknowledgement or criticism from the Cheney bashers regards that. A few examples, continued war in Iraq after Obama elected in 2008, Gitmo is still open, Patriot Act has continued in force, Support of Afghan war was continued after 2008 election. I have attached an interesting article I found on the "internets" as George Bush would say. http://www.salon.com/2011/01/18/cheney_72/

Also Steve, I am not sure it is right for you to attempt to read Ken's mind regards his feeling toward Cheney and waterboarding. I believe Ken is fully capable of speaking for himself should he choose to do so. Cheers and thanks for the dialogue

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Brian Kotowski 1 year, 9 months ago

Oh for heaven's sake - of course the Cheney bashing is ideological. Save waterboarding, there is little the vile McBusHitlerCheney Cabal did that O hasn't doubled down on. Including extraordinary rendition. For the low information among us, that's shipping enemy combatants off to places like Egypt where they are subjected to nothing so benign as waterboarding. Let us count the ways: Gitmo; warantless wiretapping; drone strikes (now with Americans in the crosshairs - something even the vile McBusHitlerCheney Cabal never proposed); expanding upon John Yoo's predicate that the executive branch possesses the unilateral and unrestrained right to start wars in any circumstance regardless of whether or not we are attacked, absent Congressional approval or democratic consent; and the NDAA – enabling the executive branch to order accused Americans held indefinitely based on the accusation alone, not a conviction, via the exciting & new Indefinite Detention Clause (who needs Habeas Corpus now that Cheney has been replaced?). The Indefinite Detention Clause, by the way, did not arise from the fetid swamps of the vile McBusHitlerCheney Cabal. It is an innovation bestowed upon us by the vile McBusHitlerCheney Cabal's benign successor.

If Cheney is involved, it's evil. When deployed by anyone to the left of John Birch, it's the incarnation of benevolence and good cheer. Nothing to see here. We can trust Ear Leader.

Preening. Hypocrites.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 9 months ago

The mistake of Iraq by Bush/Cheney is a distinction I don't think Obama can match.

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jerry carlton 1 year, 9 months ago

Hey Steve, I am waiting for Barack and Rahm to go down in the "Hood" and collect the firearms from the felons illegaly possessing them and killing 6 to 8 of their brothers every weekend. Unfortunately there are usually 2 or 3 innocent victims or children that get get caught in the crossfire. Maybe you and Scott could go over there and help out.

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Steve Lewis 1 year, 9 months ago

Jerry, Your short post captures much of the debate. A sentence that means a lot to gun advocates. A sentence that means a lot to gun control advocates. It would be good to make Chicago a safer place. You have suggestions?

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jerry carlton 1 year, 9 months ago

Steve Chicago is Barack and Rahm's stomping grounds. Barack was a neighborhood organizer in Chicago. Maybe he can organize the guns away from the felons without a new law. Then he can go to Detroit, Houston, L.A., etc.

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mark hartless 1 year, 9 months ago

How to make Chicago safer:

1. Send in Predator drones and rain down pre-trial hellfire missiles on gang-bangers while ignoring the 6th amendment of the US Constitution.

2. Send in Lon Horriuchi to shoot people in the head (especially un-armed womed) in direct violation of Amendments 6 and 8 of the US Constitution.

3. Send in tanks and helicopters from Ft Hood, like they did at Waco, in direct violation of Posse Comitatus, 4th amendment, and 6th amendment, to burn the place down... kids and all.

4. Send in the Department of Homeland Security. It now has enough ammo to fight an Iraq-style war for the next 24 years and it plans to purchase an additional 1.6 billion rounds. That should be more than enough ammo to whip Chicago AND Detroit into shape, and while the statists want to know why I need a gun nobody on the left will EVER question why HOMELAND security needs all that ammo.

5. Have Obama's attorney general conduct another gun-running operation in Chicago, heavily arming all the drug dealers like he did in Mexico, thus de-stabilizing the drug trade. If Scott and Steve's assertions are correct, once the drug dealers all have guns (they actually don't have any guns right now cause guns are illegal) then they and their families will all become victims of accidental shootings, gun suicides, etc, thus self extinction will wipe out the Chicago drug trade in just one generation.

Problem solved!!!

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