Saturday, December 16, 2006

Reporting the Tehran non-conference

Much ado has been made about the "conference" in Iran that is filled with those who deny that the holocaust existed or occured. I don't think I need to say what I think of this meeting, because I think the same thing that any rational person would think and is thinking about this gathering-it is the perpetuation of a lie.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a goal beyond "free speech, which is what he purports to be promoting by holding this "World Without Zionism" conference. He wants the world academic and political community to question Israel's right to exist so that he can have an excuse to destroy Israel.

Reporting by the European press about the conference is not helping, because they, too are not checking facts. In a BBC report filed this week, Tehran correspondent Frances Harrison gave an in-depth report from a correspondent's perspective for the popular BBC World Service series From Our Own Correspondent. Before the widespread use of the internet, I was an avid fan of shortwave radio (and still like to fire up my old set from time to time when I can get it to work), and I listened to the BBC and FOOC quite regularly. When reading the transcript of Harrison's report, a glaring error stuck out that the foreign eye would glide by:

When it is so difficult for an American to get an Iranian visa, I cannot understand how the government here let in a man who has been described as perhaps America's best known racist. There's a photograph on the internet of a young David Duke wearing a swastika on his arm. He formed the National Association for the Advancement of White People, not to mention the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Not to nit-pick here, but David Duke was not the founder of the Klan. It is true that he founded the NAAWP, but when reporting about these sorts of people it is important to get all the facts correct. People have minds of their own and know what is blatantly wrong (such as holocaust denial), and fact should be distinguished from fiction.

The name of the conference is deceptive-"The World Without Zionism." People who read my writing regularly know that I have my share of problems with political Zionism. This conference is not about a world without Zionism-it seems to be about a world without Jews.

When covering something like this, the press should cover more of the speeches and papers given there-in this way the world can see just how absurd it is.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Oatney's Hour of Power

Well, here is my first attempt at a podcast radio program. I'm a little new to the medium so y'all will have to bear with me, but I promise it will get better as time goes on and I get used to doing this. Because this is all a test run, we aren't starting at an hour, but we'll get there.


Immigration and the Church

One of the newest difficulties for East Tennessee socially and politically is how to deal with the influx of immigrants from Mexico and Latin America. It is a fact that a good number of these (if not the majority in this part of the country) have come here illegally. Many take jobs in the apple orchards and the commercial tomato gardens that are abundant in this part of Tennessee. Others work as day laborers on construction and carpentry projects, with foremen happy to have cheap labor that they can exploit.

As a Catholic living (albeit quite happily) in an area where Catholics make up less than two percent of the population-indeed in a town where there is no parish church-I have mixed feelings about these new arrivals. On the one hand, there is a certain instinct in my mind which says "this is good for you, it will increase the surplus Catholic population." On the other hand, I also believe that many of these folks aren't doing anything to embrace America. I have met a number of aliens who know little English and aren't making an effort to learn. Instead, I have been told that I need to learn Spanish. I do know some rudamentary Spanish, but I live here-this is my home. In this part of the world we speak English. It would go a long way toward convincing me that this wave of immigration is good if some of the new arrivals make an effort to learn the language, and learn something of the history and culture of their new home (think, for a moment, of the snotty Americans known to visit France, Italy, and Germany and demand that they be addressed in English by everyone-this is beyond rude). I have no problem with people from Hispanic lands bringing their customs and culture with them, but I do think they need to learn to respect the customs and culture of the land to which they come.

Some will say "but David, many are afraid that if they try to learn English, they will be discovered as illegal." We do have laws for a reason-those who don't break them should not have such a fear to begin with. In light of these realities, however, the Church is coming to the aid of some who came here illegally, trying to inculturate them and help them become legal-the response has not been altogether positive.

As some may know, I am an active Knight of Columbus. Currently I am a member of Morristown Council that is affiliated with St. Patrick Church, where Nicole and I are members. The Knights have a standing reservation on a large room in the Parish Center that has traditionally been used for Knights-related functions-largely because the KofC has done so much for the parish over the years. The Parish Center serves as a sort of hub for Catholics for miles around, as it is part of the only Catholic Church in Hamblen County, so lots of church-related groups use the facility. In addition to Knights of Columbus meetings and meetings of other church ministry groups, the room is also used to teach Spanish-speaking children religious education on certain nights of the week. Keys to the building were given to members of the Hispanic community deemed to be trustworthy, since other members of the community at-large also have keys.

Keys suddenly appeared in everyone's hands-at least those that are Spanish speaking-and these people have taken to the habit of barging into the parish center without permission in the form of an appointment to use the place. In several cases, church functions have been altered because some of these folks have thought it their prerogative to take control of the center for use without consulting parish officials. Last week, the Council of Catholic Women was ready to prepare a meal for several priests who came to hear confessions from many miles away. They couldn't do this because certain people hijacked the center for a Quincinera without asking if the rest of the church had any plans, and had done so before anyone arrived to stop them. This is but one example of the many "miscommunications" that occur constantly (and yes, there are bilingual members of the parish who have tried to communicate reality to these folks).

That's not to say that all Hispanic people cause such problems, or that Hispanic or Latino people are unwelcome. Indeed, the K of C Council to which I belong last week inducted a brand new Hispanic member, and we are consciously trying to reach out and find more. As it is, we have several active Hispanic members-but all of these are legal and they understand the local culture enough to respect how daily affairs are conducted-and they love America. I see no desire on the part of so many of the newcomers to our part of the country to become part of the American landscape-those that I have met that have that desire came here with that intention in mind.

I embrace people who come here from Mexico and Latin America (and all parts of the world) with a desire for freedom and opportunity and a desire to join us as a part of the American mosaic. What I do not like is our country and our hospitality merely being used as a prop to make money and send it home. I welcome those who thirst for freedom-I do not take too kindly to those who have no respect for our home and, in many cases, do not wish to make it their own.


Idiots run alone or in packs on the net

While it is true that there are quite a few of us upset by Bill Dunn's defeat in the Republican Caucus Leadership race (when you get Roger Abramson and I in total agreement, you know it is bad), spreading crap about people is not a way to get anything done under the new leadership. Observe this comment left on my blog by someone who clearly has no conception of reality:

Uhh, is probably all of that Gregory PAC money (i.e. John Gregory, former CEO of King Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and ALTACE fame) that is propelling Mumpower toward the House Minorty leadership position. Just look at the Senate Republicans being headed up by Senator Ron Ramsey (also from Sullivan County as is Mumpower).
Try Googling "Ramsey Mumpower ALTACE" --- and you can throw in RU-486 for good measure! Stick a fork in Bill, he is done!!! Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha....I imagine that Bill Dunn wishes that he hadn't donated over $9,500 from his PAC to the 2006 re-election of Rep. Matthew Hill (who works in Bristol at the Gregory owned Leitner Pharmaceuticals Building). Sucker... Perhaps you can get both Mumpower and Ramsey to go on the record about the position toward the RU-486 abortion drug.

This person then proceeds to link to their blog, which is full of lies and half-truths about State Rep. Matthew Hill. There are two ways I can be assured of this person's lack of credibility:

1. My experience has shown me that entire blogs dedicated only to the personal destruction of one person are often run by someone once associated with that person who have a burr up their #@%. This makes them less than credible 99% of the time, because you aren't getting both sides of the story. This person's comment also makes me wonder if it was they who wrote the
questionable Wikipedia entry on Senator Ron Ramsey (via Terry Frank). It looks more and more likely that these people are one in the same.

2. Their blog wreaks of blatant propaganda. While most blogs are trying to get a message across, one that repeats the same thing over and over appear as if they are selling a load of bull.

On top of all that, the idiot called me Oatmeal. No one can do this and expect to convince me of much of anything. Just a tip for you, fella.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Mumpower assessment

Rep. Stacey Campfield gives an honest and straightfoward assessment of the issues surrounding the election of Jason Mumpower as the new Republican Leader in the Tennessee House:

To Jason's credit, he simply out worked Bill after the election. Bill was a great leader. He kept us solid and together, developed plans and strategy raised money and helped us all get re-elected.

After the elections I am sure Bill was exahusted and went back to his regular job of cutting down trees. Mumpower went out on the campaign trail. He simply went out and got the votes he needed to become leader. I suspect the votes mostly came from new people who knew neither person well and some of the more moderates who may think Bill is too hard core.

I'll translate since Stacey can't-he now is obligated to fall in line with the Leader (to a point) since he is an elected member of the House. I am not yet a member of the Legislature, so I am a bit more free to speak. Mumpower wined and dined people, especially newbies and moderate members that are easier convinced to sellout to Democrats. Dunn knew how to make deals with the other Party without compromising principles-he was (and is) a master at it. Mumpower's interest is less based on principle and seems to be more based on power for Jason Mumpower. That said, nobody wants Mumpower to fail...we just want Mumpower to develop some intestinal fortitude. I hope he does so, for all of our sakes.


The Johnson watch

It is quite unfortunate that both the press and certain Republican bloggers seem to be taking a measure of delight in the unfortunate situation surrounding the health of Senator Tim Johnson. While I agree with A.C. Kleinheider that the Governor has the right to appoint a Republican and should play the game accordingly, no reputable person of either Party should take delight if this is how the GOP comes by a majority.

There ought to be no enjoyment in this for the Republicans. Granted, they will more than likely have the majority should Johnson die or if he should feel the need to step aside because of an incapacity. It is also true that having the majority in the Senate while Democrats control the House will likely be a political help to the Republicans in 2008, not a hindrance. There are occasions, however, when the weight of history is more important than the short-term political implications. History will Remember that the Republicans got their majority because of one Senator's misfortune, not because of an election. That does not mean I believe, as
some do, that South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds should just appoint a Democrat if Johnson can't serve, and that if he doesn't he is a part of the male anatomy [WARNING-hateful liberal-link contains objectionable language].

Rounds has the right and the duty to appoint someone to fill Johnson's seat in case of a vacancy for any reason. We lose sight of the reality that were Johnson a Republican and Rounds a Democrat, we would not be hearing Democrats question Rounds' right to appoint a Democrat-and knowing what I know about Republican politics, I can say with a near-certainty that those Republicans who would crow for a Republican appointment in such a situation wouldn't be crowing very loudly and would likely be told privately to put a cork in it. If Johnson can't continue and a Republican replaces him, that's the game. Republicans would just need to remember how they got to this point and not act as though they have a mandate that they would not have.

As for me, I'm praying for Tim Johnson's full recovery-because that is what all Americans should be doing.


Working toward a majority

In light of my comments over the last couple of days about the Tennessee House Republican Leadership race, and about whether there may or may not have been any backroom dealing to make the final result possible, there may be a few in the blogosphere and in the conservative community who think that I will not now give my support to the new Republican Leadership.

I can't be any clearer than I have been over the last two days in articulating my view that the best man for the job was not rewarded with re-election to his post as Leader. However,
Bill Dunn has expressed support for Jason Mumpower, and I will follow his example. The Democrats have been in power for entirely too long and the Capitol is rife with corruption-few would disagree that Tennessee is in dire need of vibrant new leadership and a fresh approach to government. Jason Mumpower says that he wants to bring about a Republican majority in the House, and he says that Republicans need to begin thinking like a majority party, something the GOP in this State is not used to doing. He is very right on that score, but saying what needs to be done and then doing what needs to be done are two entirely different matters.

Bill Dunn shepherded the Republican Party through an election where the trend was against the GOP, even in heavily Republican districts. He did not lose a single Republican seat in one of the worst years for the Party in recent memory, and yet his Party Caucus did not re-elect him as Leader. Dunn has accepted his defeat in a way that is typical of the gentleman that he is-with class, dignity, and grace. Since Bill Dunn has been held to the standard of "no majority, no leadership," then I submit that Jason Mumpower should be held to an identical standard: If after the 2008 election the Republican Party does not control the Tennessee House of Representatives, we should elect a new House Leader.

I stand fully behind both
Jason Mumpower and Glen Casada in their quest to achieve a Republican majority in both Houses of the General Assembly for the first time in our lifetimes. If they manage to do this, they deserve to keep their posts, and I think that it is in the best interest of every conservative to get behind their effort to get that majority. I am going to hold Representative Mumpower to his own standard, however: No more dealcutting with Democrats just to cut a deal. I agree that Republicans need to prove we belong in the majority-we need to begin behaving the way that the majority party ought to behave. That is what Jason Mumpower has promised-we'll be watching to see that he delivers on his promise.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A modest theory on the Leadership vote

State Representative Stacey Campfield took the time to try and assure me that Ward Baker did no arm-twisting to try and convince Representatives to vote his way:

He didn't twist any arms. The caucus ALL owe Ward, BIG TIME. He raised over six figures for the caucus. If he wanted he could have put pressure on people but he didn't. Ward is hard core conservative.

Fair enough-I believe Stacey. Six figures is a lot of money for the Caucus, though, and as Stacey points out, the Caucus owes this man in a big way-and if Baker is good friends with
Glen Casada, that does get the wheels to turning...

I will venture to raise a modest speculative theory: Baker wanted his man
Casada in as Caucus Chair. Charles Sargeant was the odds-on favorite to win the Number Two spot in the House over Casada, the clear conservative in that contest. Baker lobbies Republicans in the Caucus for Glen Casada, his buddy and the conservative choice. The trade-off, however, for a Casada victory in the Caucus Chair contest was that Bill Dunn , the proven and effective Republican Leader, would have to go. He would be replaced by the less-combative Jason Mumpower (whose actions we hope will be as big as his words-if they are, we are behind him). Again, a speculative theory, but given the circumstances of the last 24 hours, it is a theory that is altogether possible.

If there is any truth to the whole notion that the Leadership vote was a trade-off, it also lends at least minor credence to
Jay Bush's idea that Boss Hogg was in on the Leadership vote to a degree. I don't question that Boss wanted Bill Dunn gone in the least, and I am guessing that Boss had a champaign party to celebrate the fact that he didn't have to deal with Bill Dunn anymore. Rumors abound that the Democrat Leadership all wanted the less effective Mumpower. He may have been the trade-off to get Casada placed in a position where he may eventually be Leader himself.

Just a modest speculative theory-it may or may not have merit, but I think it is certainly plausible.


The Baker factor?

After yesterday's stunning upset of Bill Dunn by Jason Mumpower for the Tennessee House Republican leadership, one name began to surface as the responsible party, and it was not a member of the House. The name: Ward Baker. Mr. Baker is an RNC bigwig (don't get me wrong here, I do not think working for or on behalf of the Republican National Committee is a bad thing on its face at all), and he was apparently seen on the Hill yesterday around the time that the votes were taken.

How much influence does Ward Baker have? Well, one poster over at
Bill Hobbs' place accused the blogs of "protecting" Ward Baker. Another said in quite telling fashion:

I am not a big dog, but hear a lot on the Hill. The staff members all said, well Ward got what he wanted.

The actual version of things from two semi-anonymous posters:

I was on the Hill today.

The word was Ward Baker got what he wanted. I saw seven members go over to him after the vote. They all gave him a high five.

After the Casada vote almost the whole caucus looked over at Ward. He is best friends with Casada.

Now I like
Glen Casada from an ideological viewpoint, but I don't like that kind of influence in our leadership process-especially if this is true:

I heard even the governor told people that Ward Baker must have put this together.

If Bredesen thinks Ward Baker is the reponsible party, and staffers on the Hill think that Ward Baker is responsible for this, it makes me wonder if yesterday's mysterious anonymous poster might have a very personal relationship with Mr. Baker indeed.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

My official reaction to Jason Mumpower's leadership election

For my official response to Jason Mumpower's victory over the more conservative Bill Dunn in the Tennessee House Republican Leadership race, I modestly ask the following question:

Mumpower talks really big, saying things such as the fact that Republicans need to "command the respect we deserve from the other side of the aisle," and that:

"We need to be in control of [the House], just as our brethren in the other chamber across the hall are."

If Jason Mumpower's goal is Republican control of the House, I support him fully in that goal. I'll go to bat for him in everything he does to bring that about that is done in a right and a moral way. But this goes beyond mere control, and what I am not certain about is whether Jason Mumpower cares about the things that matter most. If Mumpower's only goal is control of the House, but he is willing to sell the people short on principle in order to do it, that is not the kind of leader Tennessee needs. Our "brethren" do not have real control of the Senate, and they do not (and it appears they will not) not because they lack the numbers, but because of a member whose only principle is power and who has the moral clarity of a bad honky-tonk.

We need leaders who serve not because they want to, but because they feel called to serve, and leaders who serve because they are willing, but not because they desire it. Bill Dunn is such a leader. I hope and I pray that Jason Mumpower also proves to be of the same ilk.


Mumpower now has power

Terry Frank reports that Bill Dunn has been upset by Jason Mumpower in the race for House Minority Leader. I must admit, I am surprised and shocked, but I can say that someone knew something, because an anonymous commenter-likely someone with an inside track on what was going on, made a comment to this weblog:

I love the blogosphere where you can come up with any wild opinion, post it on your blog, and have no basis for truth. Can't wait to see what you post after the election.

Well, opinions are as they are, and some may or may not think they are wild, but I did not make up Mumpower's dealings with Democrats...that I heard from people who would know who spoke to me on the condition that I not reveal their identities. That said, this anonymous person also chose not to reveal who they are...and it made me wonder...are they a member of the House? A member of Mumpower's staff who can count votes? Could it be Mumpower himself? I can see that he doesn't like the blogosphere-he'd better learn to live with it.

Whoever it was is someone who was aware of the results of the vote, perhaps before the votes were ever cast, and they posted an anonymous comment on my blog. Either Mumpower knew he would win a month ago or some people were promised things in return for their votes. Something smells afoul in the whole deal.

After my post this morning I spoke with some folks up on the Hill who informed me that the vote would be a close one. That being the case, I'd be curious just what was promised to whom.

On the bright side, staunch conservative
Glen Casada in the new Number at least some good came out of all of this, but a majority may not.


Mike Williams will sellout again

State Representative Stacey Campfield reported yesterday that State Senator Mike Williams abstained in the vote to nominate Ron Ramsey for Senate Speaker and Lieutenant Governor. This is a sure sign of Williams intentions when the roll is called on January 9th-he will vote for Wilder.

The World has heard from sources close to the situation of two loaded realities here: One of these realities is that Williams is being promised that he will be able to keep his Speaker pro-Tempore post that
Wilder gave him after his betrayal in the last session. Meanwhile, Ramsey is not offering Williams anything special (there are those who say that Ramsey should not, because if Ramsey breaks party discipline on this to woo Williams, everyone and their mother in the Senate Republican Caucus will hold out for more personal power). Williams is not supporting Wilder out of any personal comraderie or political disinterest, as he would have us believe. Williams is out to save what little shred of political influence he may have this time around. He figures that he is better off as Wilder's lap puppy than as Ron Ramsey's 17th vote.

What's more, at least one source informs The World that all of this talk of Williams changing his affiliation to "independent" is all talk and was being used as a bargaining tool on his part. Williams is not known among his Republican colleagues on the Hill to be the sturdiest brightest lamp in the room (which is likely why he may be supporting Wilder-it is his only shot at a leadership post), but he is keenly aware that if he does not run as a Republican in this district, he will be beaten by a Republican in a General Election. He will not switch parties, but he will likely have a Primary opponent who has Party backing.

I hope that opponent is Church Hill attorney
Mike Faulk.


Caucus Leadership

The closed door election for Republican Caucus Leadership in the Tennessee House of Representatives takes place this morning. On paper, the race for leader is between Democrat appeaser Jason Mumpower of Bristol and current House Minority Leader Bill Dunn of Knoxville. Regulars know that I support Dunn's re-election, and I have gone so far as to let those who have a vote in this morning's Caucus meeting know that they had better "get 'R Dunn."

I say "on paper" because several sources close to the situation inside the House Caucus have informed The World that this is a face-saving move on Mumpower's part.
Mr. Mumpower is known to have gone behind the backs of Republican leadership in the House to try and negotiate a "deal with the devil" with House Democrats on ethics legislation and issues. This backroom shady dealing earned the ire of Caucus Leader Bill Dunn-who Mumpower runs against today. He is in a position where running for Leadership is the only way he can now save political face. According to one confidential source, Caucus Republicans expect Dunn to be easily re-elected, possibly by a wide margin.

I'll have an update when the numbers are announced later this morning.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Hornback will step down-what's next?

Knox County Republican Party Chairman Brian Hornback announced in a press release yesterday that he would not seek re-election as Knox Party Chairman in March.

“My family has allowed me the opportunity to serve. My wife and children have sacrificed time without their husband and father for the good of the community and for a better Knox County government.” “It is time for me to honor them with my time, energy and devotion.”

I believe Brian when he says that family considerations played a big role in his decision. When you are involved with anything in politics or public life, it not only takes away from family time, but it has a tendency to consume you. However, I do have to wonder if his decision is tied to the reality that the
Mike Ragsdale gravy train is in the process of coming to a screeching halt. There is also the question of whether Brian Hornback will accept some sort of political appointment in the near future is, I think, probably quite an open one. Indeed, Brian himself points out the fact that the end of his days as Chairman do not signal the end of his regular involvement in politics.

When asked about his future plans. He said that he will continue to support Republican candidates and is not ruling out being active with Republican campaigns, candidates or a future candidacy.

Indeed not. I suspect that he may either run for something or receive an appointment of some kind. What I am hoping Brian does continue to blog, but does so in a more thorough way in which he tells us more of what he actually thinks. He will soon be free from the constraints of being Chairman, a position that requires him (under the bylaws of the Knox County and T
ennessee Republican Parties) to support the nominees of the Party for various office unconditionally-with the notable new exception of not being required to support candidates who fail to vote for Republicans for legislative leadership positions. While I support these rules for the sake of the Party, they are constraining-we all know that from time to time there are candidates and personalities that are less than worthy, and that is putting it kindly.

He notes his accomplishments of the Party under his tenure:

“On November 7, 2006 we delivered more than 15,000 votes for United States Senator Elect Bob Corker, than his opponent received.” “Congressman Duncan was re-elected by the second largest percentage of any contested incumbent Member of Congress in the United States.” “We maintained every Tennessee Republican seat that we held including State Representative Stacey Campfield.”

I will say this for Brian Hornback as Chairman: He and I did not always see eye to eye, but he is one of the most effective and open Party Chairmen than I have ever met. When I e-mailed Brian Hornback and offered what help and service I could to the Knox County Republican Party, he responded with openness, genuine friendliness, and a whole lot of class. In having his own blog, he has allowed himself to be put before the local press in a way that other Republican County Chairmen around the State and around the Union have largely avoided-to the Party's detriment.

I wish I could say the same about the Jefferson County apparatus. Since moving to White Pine, the Chairman of the
Jefferson County Republican Party has yet to respond to my overture of involvement-Brian Hornback did. I will be curious to see who replaces Brian and whether they do things in a drastically different way.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Second Sunday of Advent

On this Second Sunday of Advent, we hear the Gospel that John the Baptist cries in the wilderness declaring the coming of the Lord:

Luke 3:1-6:

Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and Philip his brother tetrarch of Iturea, and the country of Trachonitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilina; Under the high priests Annas and Caiphas; the word of the Lord was made unto John, the son of Zacharias, in the desert. And he came into all the country about the Jordan, preaching the baptism of penance for the remission of sins; As it was written in the book of the sayings of Isaias the prophet: A voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled; and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight; and the rough ways plain; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

John called people to repentance because before they could fathom the love that God was about to unleash among them unless they first had hearts that were open to receive that love. John understood that Christ came to free men from sin, not free men to live in sin, or save men that they may sin perpetually, as some teach.

Sin is the willful and knowing transgression of the Law of God. Though we all may be guilty of it and need forgiveness for it, that forgiveness is not license to live a life marred by sin because God will forgive us again and again. Sin is more than a choice on our part to do wrong, but it is an open act of rebellion against God, and in that sense, it is an act of hatred.

Contrast sin as an act of hatred with an act of love. The act of love that we celebrate at Advent is that God came into the world as a tiny baby in a manger to live a life of poverty and rejection, ultimately to be put to death. Because of His death, we may rise to new Life as He rose from the dead.

Lord, where there is hatred, let us know love.

Here is the band Blue Highway singing about that love.


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