Re: R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. & Brian McGuire’s Cisneros Report Stirred Worries of Democrats:
Anybody notice that the timing of the “one-two” Al Gore and Hillary swipes at Bush were designed to beat the news cycle before this report was released? Anybody want to place a bet that this was just mere coinidence?
Lord, I am starting to get as paranoiac as a Democrat…
— Cookie Sewell
Your article on Special Counsel David Barrett’s report was quite interesting. One point in the twelfth paragraph caught my attention. It’s stated that in 1997 John Filan sent a memo to the IRS Chief Inspector. Gary Bell was the Chief Inspector at that time. Because of the sensitivity of the matter, he likely would have referred it to Valerie Lau, who was the Treasury Inspector General.
Lau had no investigative experience and had reportedly received the appointment because her mother was a major contributor to the Clinton campaign. As you may recall, she got into trouble in 1996 and 1997 because of her involvement in the FBI Filegate controversy and for two procurement contracts her office awarded. Some of the more blatant acts committed included opening investigations on two Secret Service agents who refuted White House claims that outdated Secret Service lists led to requests for FBI files on prominent Republicans. It’s likely that John Filan’s complaint ended up in the “black hole” of the Treasury IG. Thus, in addition to the tax case being fixed in Washington, the complaint that it was fixed probably received similar treatment in the Treasury Department.
A National Journal article on Valerie Lau, dated January 12, 1998 will provide additional details. Written by Annys Shin, it’s here.
When the Inspection Service was removed from the IRS and became the Treasury IG for Tax Administration, Gary Bell left the organization. He is presently Director, Office of Refund Crimes, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, Washington, DC.
I spent thirty-four years in the IRS Inspection Service, the last twenty-six as a mid-level manager. Please see an article I had published in the November 3, 1997 issue of Insight on the News (available online) regarding my experiences dealing with corruption in the IRS and the Treasury Inspector General’s office. For further information on those experiences, please see the books Unbridled Power by Shelley Davis and A Law Unto Itself by David Burnham.
— Stan Welli
Re: Steve Hornbeck’s Howard Dean Usurped:
What a great way to start my day, laughing like a crazy person — Dean maybe. The first time I saw the new President on 24, I said my gosh, they have gotten Gore. Anyway wonderful article.
— Elaine Kyle
Mr. Hornbeck has just succinctly described what ails the Democrat Party. Their “public face” is Ted Kennedy — no more needs be said than the name, the image is clear; Joseph Biden — America’s last angry (in every way) incompetent; Howard Dean — incompetent mentally, and herded by Democrats armed with tranquilizer dart guns lest he bite those around him; and the formerly Ed Sullivan-ish Albert Gore, Jr, the Prince of Tennessee, presently transmogrified into a crazed man with the apparent personality of wounded rhinoceros in heat.
And just for grins, standing in the wings lest any of these crazed mental patients self destruct, we have Ms. Clinton who coined the phrase “culture of corruption” and perfected the conduct required to qualify for that culture; and Congressman Murtha who had some time ago slipped, quietly round the bend, and only now has become so addled that he wants America to know he is now nuts, thus affirming his leadership status in his party.
This is not politics — this is a Hunter S. Thompson novel!!
— Jay W. Molyneaux
ROE? OH NO!
Re: David Yerushalmi’s Jurisprudence, Certainty, and the Alito Hearings:
Mr. Yerushalmi’s article was a little gem of real insight. And he certainly doesn’t overstate the danger to the rule of law posed by the likes of Biden et al, who view the Constitution as a kind of trophy which has been placed in the permanent custody of the Democratic Party. Watching Ted Kennedy’s big salt lick of a head spewing green gobs of slander at hizzoner was an infuriating experience.
— David Carter
One error in an otherwise good and insightful piece by David Yerushalmi was in describing the Roe v. Wade as a 5-4 decision. It was a 7-2 decision with William Rehnquist and Byron White as the dissenters.
— Michael S. Schwendeman
Attorney at Law
Ted Kennedy’s performance at the Judicial Hearings can only be compared to driving off a bridge in a drunken stupor. Will he be seen walking around Washington, D.C. with a neck brace after this performance?
— Wolf Terner
Fair lawn, New Jersey
The debate over “The Right To Privacy” rages on. Mr. Yerushalmi’s cogent analysis is perhaps the best dissertation on the subject that I have read. Having studied Constitutional Law at Pepperdine University College of Law in 1969, well before Roe v. Wade was decided, I have always been unable to accept the Court’s reasoning, and have tended to shrug it off whenever it reared its ugly head. With the imminent ascent of Judge Alito to the Supreme Court, there is hope for sanity to prevail once more.
I have no opinion on abortion per se, or at least none that has any bearing on the law so tortuously wrought by the justices in Roe. The mere fact that this issue arises again and again is, to my mind, evidence that it is not settled law. In my experience, cases on any other subject which appear seriatim before the Court are mere fine-tuning as our Constitution is examined over and over again for guidance as to what the Founders intended. As such they exhibit a declining intensity until finally the subject arises no more. Such is the path to settled law.
In contradistinction, attacks on Roe arise again and again, not in diminished intensity, but rather in increasing rancor as the fundamental conflict between life and choice refuses to be silenced by utterances from the Court which consistently strain to fit this square peg into a round hole. This shows us that the desires of one aspect of our society continue to be at loggerheads with another, and that the frail reed of Roe cannot, once and for all, settle the dispute, but rather exacerbates it, and in so doing bastardizes the Senate’s conduct of its duty of Advise and Consent.
It therefore seems to me that the ultimate cure for this rift is to overturn this artifice of law and thus free the courts to decide the issue according to “legal scholarship [and] common sense.”
— Bob Johnson
While I am sympathetic to the views expressed by David Yerushalmi in his article about Judge Alito, I think he fundamentally misunderstands the nature of constitutional law. Mr. Yerushalmi argues that the touchstone in matters of constitutional interpretation is “certainty.” While it is true that “certainty” is one of the values of an effective legal system, it is not the goal of constitutional law, properly understood. Rather, the goal of constitutional law is to give effect to the specific, concrete political commitments made by the American people in the Constitution, whatever they may be. (See my recent article on AmericanThinker.com from 1/9/06.) Anything else constitutes judicial legislation — however reasonable and well-intentioned — which is not a legitimate function of courts under our Constitution.
Thus, I am troubled by Mr. Yerushalmi’s argument that a particular legal principle (the example he gives is the “one-man, one-vote” rule) can become “settled” constitutional law simply because the American people are “not divided” over it and because it is a “manifestly logical rule of constitutional government grounded in a people sufficiently cohensive to form a nation.” With all due respect, I have no idea what this latter reason means. But “logical rules” are not necessarily part of the Constitution, however much we (or some judge) might wish them to be. And as for the first reason given, surely whether something is popular with the public does not make it part of the Constitution, until the American people appropriately amend the Constitution to include this new point of consensus (e.g., the right of women to vote).
Finally, I note that the Supreme Court voted 7-2 in favor of abortion rights in Roe v. Wade, not 5-4 as Mr. Yerushalmi states. While a minor point, I think it illustrates the overall sloppiness of Mr. Yerushalmi’s explanation of constitutional law.
— Steven M. Warshawsky
New York, New York
David Yerushalmi replies:
Mr. Warshawsky seems to have misunderstood what “certainty” means in the context of constitutional law, at least as set out by my essay. “Certainty” as I have defined it at the outset “arises from fidelity to the meaning of words [in context this clearly means the words in the Constitution], logic [language can never be excised from logic or they can be abused in the way they have in practice], and above all in the fact that is more than an ‘opinion’ that men live necessarily in sovereign bodies [a constitution is written by and for a specific people].” In context this statement was explained with specific examples of its opposite: “When constitutional questions are no longer guided by the plain language of the Constitution itself, when the historical record of the founding understandings of that document are held to be ‘irrelevant,’ when the law of foreign nations becomes constitutionally persuasive, and when legal scholarship dismisses common sense…”
I don’t suppose Mr. Warshawsky objects to any of this. He seems to say the same thing. His confusion appears to arise because he wishes to speak of “the goal” of constitutional law, which is exactly as he said it is, “to give effect to the specific, concrete political commitments made by the American people in the Constitution, whatever they may be.” My article speaks to a deeper concern. When we get away from the “goal” of constitutional law, the very Constitution itself, and the nation’s integrity as a sovereign body, is at stake. In other words, when the goal is lost, the question becomes why.
On the issue of One Man, One Vote, again, I have no particular objection to Mr. Warshawsky’s point, except again to suggest that he read my piece with a bit more care. I state explicitly that Judge Alito was challenged on a statement that the One Man, One Vote Rule was settled law. There was some discussion during the hearings what that means in practice, whether district lines needed to be drawn with absolute mathematical precision, but my proposal, and it was written as such, was what I thought Alito, not I, meant. I didn’t necessarily agree with his remarks, I only wished to juxtapose that against the Roe line of cases. I would say, however, as I mentioned above, one must address the language of the Constitution with respect, fidelity and logic. Freedom of Speech does not mean as a logical matter that anyone can say anything anywhere anytime.
Finally, on the sore spot of the 7-2 reference, Mr. Warshawsky is absolutely correct and it was an error that I missed and should be corrected. A typographical error, and it cannot be that I don’t know how to add, does not suggest “sloppiness” of my explanation of constitutional law, although I understand his point and stand chastened.
FLIPPING THE SWITCH
Re: William Tucker’s Guilty Again!:
Thanks for William Tucker’s great article on Roger Keith Coleman. If you haven’t already, read the 1997 review of John Tucker’s book in the Princeton Alumni Weekly on-line (December 17, 1997). The final sentence of the review has more irony than the reviewer could have imagined: “Indeed, when measured against Tucker’s decidedly narrower mission — writing a text that rehabilitates Roger Keith Coleman’s reputation — May God Have Mercy succeeds admirably.”
— Mark Purschwitz
On that Roger Coleman death/DNA story, I believe it was one of the Fox News reporters who said (to paraphrase) that the “anti-death penalty folks felt betrayed — because they believed his story of innocence” and this hurt their cause…
One good thing about the Death Penalty is those executed will not be back out on the street after a life sentence that ended up being only 25 years. How can any jury recommend life when they know it does not really mean life?
— Elaine Kyle
Excellent article, excellently written.
I am against the death penalty. I am in favor of something much worse than the death penalty.
If a murderer who has committed a heinous act has proven nothing else by that action, he has proven that he does not recognize the standards and principles that guide a civilized society. My life and your life, our existence, our social mores, are of little value to him (unfortunately, sigh, almost always “him”). So…
No death penalty. Complete isolation. An isolated cell with no human contact at all. Ever.
— Lawrence J. Chisholm
TURTLE BAY BALLET
Re: Jed Babbin’s Mahmoud, Kofi, and the Usual Suspects:
I would suggest we let the Turtle Bay Ballet Ensemble play out their farce. It serves America’s purposes that they provide the necessary distraction while the Coalition assembles their forces along the Iraq-Iran Basra corridor. The end game solution has only two options:
1) We foment a CIA-like revolution similar to Afghanistan. Or,
2) The US DoD does another road show, this time in Iran.
Considering the gravity and timing of the situation I suspect that most of our serving men and women will be exiting the southwest Asian theatre of operations via the Teheran International Airport.
As to the issue with TOR-M1, this system has been in development by the Russians since the late 1990’s and is considered middle aged by U.S. standards, but of high threat to low flying craft, especially subsonic cruise missiles. It has a limited range as it was designed as a theatre air defense system in support of Corps level mechanized battalions. A much more worrisome development is the Shahab-3 that the Iranians are bringing online. At 1500km range, it is capable of reaching any of the capitals of the Middle East and most likely would be the delivery platform for any nuclear arms developed by Iran.
If one considers the mission however it would be doubtful that if hostilities were to ensue, that the U.S. would utilize cruise missiles as the weapon of choice. Considering that a great deal of the Iranian nuclear facilities are underground the use of Tomahawk cruise missiles would have little impact. The more likely ordinance would be a BLU-113 Penetrator. This is an air launched gravity bomb with GPS targeting. A single B2 could carry 20 of these on a single sortie. At the altitudes that the B2 would orbit the TOR system might be of little use.
Time will tell.
— John McGinnis
When is the world going to take Iran seriously? Sanctions against Iran are going to be as effective as sanctions were effective against Iraq when Saddam was in power. The countries of France, Germany, Russia, and the world body at the UN scoffed at the sanctions and did a very profitable business with Saddam in spite of the sanctions.
The bottom line is the world will only take Iran seriously when a Western city is left a smoking ruin, and left a contaminated pit of destruction.
The aforementioned bodies named above find it more profitable to keep supplying Iran with technology to construct power plants and indirectly a nuclear weapon than to have the courage to put a rouge regime in its place. Unfortunately Europe’s rational behind this is that if they appease Iran or at least appear to without being overly obvious to the United States this will guarantee a pass by Iran to not target a European city with nuclear terrorism.
The Europeans have harbored resentment against the United States since World War I and II for one, having the military and political power to project itself across the Atlantic, and the United States not suffering the destruction that Europe suffered through two world wars. There have been off-comments by Europeans that it is the Americans’ turn to suffer through the destruction and sorrow of a major war.
Russia isn’t going to lift a finger because it is rumored that Iran, in exchange for nuclear expertise, is assisting the Russians in keeping a lid on Chechnya. China isn’t going to do anything that would jeopardize its role as an emerging world power to fill the vacuum that is left over from a major nuclear conflict. Kofi Annan is more interested in running money-skimming operations from the UN than actually stopping the growing storm.
To describe this whole Iran nuclear issue imagine the western powers standing on a pair of rail tracks and a nuclear train engineered by Ahmadinejad. is headed directly at them, and all that the western powers have to do is step off the tracks to avoid being hit, yet are petrified with fear is more willing to be hit by the train than to avoid it.
I don’t know about you, America, I sure as hell don’t want to be the one or anyone else for that matter being hit by that nuclear train, because this train wreck is going to make Hiroshima look like it was nothing compared to what is going to happen.
“May God, Allah, Buddha or who ever you pray to have mercy on our souls,” because in the not-to-distant future a city or cities will forever removed from the face of the earth, and the sad truth to this is someone could have said, “S T O P.”
— Melvin L. Leppla
Jacksonville, North Carolina
I think the role that Ahmadinejad is aiming for (or has already nailed down) is not Major Kong, who longed for “nuclear combat toe-to-toe with the Russkies” and rode to glory on the back of a bomb at the end, but Col Jack D. Ripper, the paranoid conspiracy theorist, who strayed from the reservation and, in the cause of preserving the purity of our essence, ordered the bombs to be dropped in the beginning. Otherwise, the article is too true. As one of my children said when he was very young, “It takes laughing, but it isn’t funny.”
— Martha Francois
Re: Reader Mail’s Never Again:
Obviously, by the tone of this morning’s Reader Mail, there are folks not too pleased with the way the choir boys treated Mr. Alito and his family. Neither am I. Some of you ain’t going to like this, but here it comes. God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit gave us standards to live by. I mentioned all three just so there would be no confusion about which side of the fence I am on. Our forefathers, like it or not, sat under the authority of God and gave us a government to live by. Now that we have thrown that government away, our Country faces the consequences.
Had the folks in Germany, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and a number of other nations, jailed their criminals and tyrants, and taken control of their governments, we would not have had to do battle with them.
Now we are faced with a similar situation here in America. Many in our government are nothing but tyrants. Much of our society has been led to believe that the government is their sugar daddy. They have been led down the path towards socialism by some of the most trusted men in America. You know who you are. You know who the trusted men are or were. Because of these trusted men, victory in Vietnam was denied us. Over 58 thousand men and women died. The ones that lived have had to live for 40 years, listening to the liars and tyrants tell us all the reasons why we cut and run. History repeats itself.
I am told that Karl Marx used the expression socialism and communism interchangeably without reason.
Because we have thrown God out of our Country along with the Ten Commandments, and have installed new gods, we have thrown away the protection that God affords us in our daily lives. New gods, like social security, welfare, abortion, uncivilized behavior, political correctness and a band of other Godless tyrannical ideas, given to us by the results of throwing God out of our society.
We have elected some of these tyrants to be our leaders in Congress. Rather than jail them, we put them in positions of authority. Judge Alito just sat at a table in the presence of our enemies. Some of them. By their fruit we shall know them. Just an example of the truth given us in the 23 Psalm.
Life is getting pretty simple. If the band of tyrants in Congress is for it, I am against it. Though I do not know Judge Alito, he must be good because he has stirred up such an uncivilized response in Congress.
If we as a Nation are to be respected in the world, we need to jail our tyrants, execute our murderers, and sweep our government, our institutions, our places of education and our places of worship of those who would turn this Nation into a den of thieves, murderers and in reality a bunch of communists. I’m sorry, but in light of the recent debacle in Congress, I don’t see this happening real soon. The Democrat party has stood on socialist principles for nigh onto 80 years as I see it. And now the Republican Party is chasing the same votes with the same promises. Un-Godly promises.
I ate my oatmeal this morning. I cringed as I washed the saucepan. There are children who would have loved to have licked it out first. Right here in this nation. We fight over billions in Congress. Much of it slammed on credit. As a nation, we have come a long way. I can remember in school watching movies, very often, opening with patriotic music and a clip of the American Flag waving. I can remember swelling with pride, including movies about the military or steel making or other large industries. Again, feelings of pride because this was my nation. In the 4th grade, my teacher read out of the Bible, we sang Christian songs and patriotic songs. We prayed. We saluted the Flag. This was my Nation. My God. I’m 61. I’m not happy.
— Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire
Re: Ben Stein’s Oil, Oil, Oil:
I have admired your writing for ages. This is a great story and poignantly true. I hope our paths cross at some point. As oil supplies peak, the world will suddenly begin appreciating what a gift abundant oil was and for 150 years, we sold it at an average price of two cents a cup!
— Matt Simmons
Who can deny that Ben Stein is a most likeable fellow, with a knack for a homespun sort of perspective that few can match? He loves God, country, and his family. He’s everlastingly grateful for the substantial blessings with which he has been blessed. His humility and good humored refusal to take himself too seriously are seen not only in his writings, but in his many TV appearances, in commercials and otherwise.
Ya gotta love this guy.
On the other hand, ya don’t gotta swallow whole everything he writes, or go mind-numb from reading it.
In “Oil, Oil, Oil,” Mr. Stein sucks us in right from go, painting as heart-warming a picture of gasoline service as ever Norman Rockwell could have done. Reality be damned, Mr. Stein managed to stumble upon the service station in the United States at which, not only was his gas pumped for him, it was done by Gomer Pyle, in the guise of one “George”!
Next, he offers up a paean to the selfless workers who (apparently without regard to the very fruitful compensation deservedly paid to them for their labor) devote themselves in more or less unpleasant places to the public service of bringing gasoline to each and all of us. Norman Rockwell, wherever he may be, could only whimper at having missed the opportunity of presenting such a scene!
Next, Mr. Stein goes on to marvel at the low cost at which the oil companies so beneficently provide him with the fruits of their labor. He does this by comparing the cost of his “bargain brand” [“about a dollar” a bottle] of bottled water with the cost of the apparently generic gasoline he has just purchased.
Well, I’ve never been to Calimesa, but around here, the local Sam’s Club offers bargain brand bottled water for about fourteen cents for 17 ounces. I know; I buy it all the time. For about another nickel, I often embellish it with a squirt of lemon juice and still come in at no more than twenty cents. I love the high octane effect. Immediately, I have to question Mr. Stein’s perspective on what constitutes a bargain.
Now, nowhere does Mr. Stein suggest that George has been selling him bottled gasoline, so given my cycnical/realistic turn of mind, I have to suppose that Mr. Stein might fuel his body with tap water at some fraction of a penny per pint (or so). The analogy would be considerably more precise, and he might be less in awe of the alleged miracles wrought by the oil companies. Pump gasoline is among the nation’s most fungible commodities, after all, rather like tap water.
In passing, Mr. Stein notes, also in passing, that the fruit of the oil companies’ labors have “huge taxes” attached to their selling price. What interests me in that regard is that he makes no further comment on the fact.
He is, of course, correct in asserting that the taxes on gasoline are huge, and I expect that they are “huger” in Calimesa (“between Beverly Hills and Rancho Mirage”) than they are here in Pleasant Hills (between West Mifflin and Jefferson Hills). However, I can’t get myself to mention, or even consider, the hugeness of the tax bite on gasoline without at least a pause to bemoan not only the truth of the assertion, but the very limited return on that “investment” (to borrow a bureaucratic term) in big and bigger gummint.
I won’t discuss, beyond a bare mention, the restoration of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, under the stewardship of “Fast Eddie” Rendell (D, Philadelphia), to its rightful place as home of the nation’s worst highways, if not its highest energy taxes.
If Mr. Stein would be more than an apologist for the oil companies and the present administration, perhaps he would take a moment to question the enormity of the taxes already in place on the gasoline he, and you and I, buy? Well, he had the chance and he blew it.
Mr. Stein goes on to question at some well-edited length why our Congress should assail the large profits being made by the oil companies, and his cogent arguments speak for themselves. I, on the other hand, find myself asking how it can be that, under the aegis of President George W. Bush, in his second term and unassailable, the oil companies are enjoying windfall profits?
Back in the hard to recall days of the 2000 campaign, and less so in the 2004 campaign, Mr. Bush’s detractors cast him as being in thrall to the oil companies, and dared to suggest that he would be beholden to them, if elected. Well, I’m no Democrat, but I have to wonder whether those detractors may have been on to something?
In my most cynical, “New World Order Conspiracy Theory” extravagances of imagination, I also have to wonder why so little is heard in the media these days recalling those dire suggestions made by Mr. Bush’s detractors in the long ago, when they are now apparently so patently realized?
I offer no opinion on whether or not present Congressional proposals for taxes on the oil industry will “tax it to death”, as Mr. Stein suggests. I have my doubts on that score, however. Nor will I challenge Mr. Stein for assailing Barbara Boxer and her “best pals.” In my view, plaintiffs’ class action lawyers and oil company executives are just opposite faces of the same coin. The former took their profits under Clinton; the latter are doing so now.
None of the last sentence is intended to suggest that the trial lawyers have suffered under Mr. Bush. To the best of my knowledge, they are doing quite well, and tort reform has been about as successful under Mr. Bush as Social Security reform, if not as touted.
At the end of Mr. Stein’s article is a brief biographical entry. May I suggest that to his credits be added “Master of Legerdemain”? He artfully manages to divert attention from the real issues at hand by directing our attention to a fairy tale world that many of us recall from our youth, in which our local Gomer gassed up the car, checked the oil and washed the windshield for twenty five cents an hour. Shucks! In my world, I pump my own gas, check my own oil and clean my own windshield, and I do it at a price significantly higher than I did in October, 2000.
As a tangent point, and not being an economist, bureaucrat or master of legerdemain, I must ask how it happens that a shortage of supply translates into record profits? If the selfless workers, from Gomer through the sainted rig hands on up to the big executive muckety mucks continue to provide their services at their agreed rate, and the cost of oil itself increases by some amount, and there’s less oil for them to process, how does it happen that profits increase, if prices are raised just to cover the changes in the base price of oil?
If the oil companies and their minions were indeed truly selfless, Gomers all, how is it that they fail to lower their margins in times of tight supply? Whether the cause be Hurricane Katrina, or military adventures against terrorism, or whatever, somehow the biggest of muckety-mucks, the owners of millions of shares, find themselves with billions of dollars in additional income for providing less product.
Mr. Stein posits the plight of the small investor, with his or her interest in retirement and their children. Why should we penalize them, he asks? Well, I’m not interested in penalizing anyone, particularly. Still, it occurs to me that mom and pop have nowhere near as big a stake in all of this as do those darned muckety-mucks in the banking, insurance and pharmaceutical industries, at which Mr. Stein takes a mild and implicit whack for making even bigger profits than the oil industry.
These are no Gomers. Nor is Mr. Bush, nor, I’m sorry to have to conclude, is Mr. Stein. The old misdirection, it seems, is alive and well in the pages of TAS.
By the way, Ben, just how “old” is that Caddy?
— Mark Fallert
The editor replies:: Mr. Stein has noted more than once that his Cadillac turned 8 last year.
STRUTTING THEIR STUFF
Re: P. David Hornik’s On the Left, Terror, and Friends:
A famous Jew, King David, wrote this in Psalm 12: “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.”
Notwithstanding psychobabble, doesn’t that generally describe the result of the Left’s kid-glove treatment of terrorists and concomitant castigation of Israel?
— C. Kenna Amos Jr.
Princeton, West Virginia
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