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Fisking Andy Gedo, ManageAmerica Partner, Defense of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Acme Brick – Examining Gedo’s Debate Argument and Methods

FiskingAndyGedoPhotoManageAmericaLogoDefenseWarrenBuffettBillGatesAcmeBrickPhotoBerkshireLogosExaminingGedosDebateArgumentMethodsMHProNewsLogo
Note this image is similar but different than another one shown further below. Andy Gedo’s photo is on the right, and the photo in the top center from BNNBloomberg.CA are distinctions from the prior report linked further below.

ManageAmerica Partner Andy Gedo’s firm is listed as a member of the Manufactured Housing Institute. Gedo’s defense of Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and alleged monopolistic or illicit practices are a useful case study of debating methodologies. Let’s begin by acknowledging that Gedo is willing to discuss or debate publicly. Right, wrong or in between, that willingness to debate ought to be applauded.

Who says?

 

  • The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.”
  • “Truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflicts unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.”

 

An ‘antagonist’ is defined as a rival, opponent, contender or an enemy. Hundreds of years before the first quote, the second one said much the same thing only in different words and more succinctly.

What makes these two quotes from sources useful is that they come from what many would think are either side of the contemporary left-right divide. The first quote above is from modern progressives or liberals; the second bullet is from a founding father that the political right often cites, but in fairness has been cited by liberals too.

The first bullet is part of a joint letter published on Harpers’  website, co-signed by famous writer J.K. Rowling – author of the Harry Potter fictional book series – thinker Noam Chomsky, feminist Gloria Steinem, and about 150 others in journalism, media, academia and education. Together, they sounded a joint alarm about the increased trend toward silencing or punishing critics or opponents, instead of engaging with them and exposing bad ideas through objective reason. That reasoning, they said, is accomplished through “…exposure, argument, and persuasion…”

The second quote is from the FoundingFathersQuotes website which says it is from “Thomas Jefferson: Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, 1779 Quoted Document: A Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom.” That website says the following. “This site is dedicated to those men, their quotes, their biographies, and their writings. Our goal is to preserve and share the knowledge of the Founding Fathers with current and future patriots.”

That brief backdrop establishes the historic and contemporary merits of good arguments and debates. MHProNews has further previously acknowledged – and does so now again – that Gedo is an intelligent and educated professional, and that vigorous debating is a good thing.

With that foundation and understanding, after two more quotes that flows from across the left-right divide, this article will then pivot to an analysis or “fisking” – a methodical fact check – of what Gedo has said in the recent online debate about Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Acme Brick, and broader issues that relate both to our affordable housing profession but also speak to the larger national discussion.

DefineFiskFiskingDictionaryMHProNewsMasthead

In an ironic twist, the joint letter from progressives issued in July 2020 begins by lamenting Donald J. Trump, yet as the two quotes that follow reflect, each are pointing to a similar problem. Namely, that free speech is being thwarted.

FreeExchangeInformationIdeasLifebloodLiberalSocietyDailyBecomingMoreConstrictedJKRowlingGloriaSteinemNoamChomskyPhotosQuoteableQuoteLetterJusticeFreeSpeechMHProNews

 

InSchoolsNewsroomsCorporateBoardroomsNewFarLeftFascismDemandsAbsoluteAllegianceIfYouDoNotSpeakItsLanguageFollowCommandmentsYouWillBeCensoredDonaldTrumpMountRushmorePhotoQuote6

 

 

The Debate Between Gedo and MHProNews’ Reports

In America, the accused are deemed innocent until proven guilty by plea, conviction, or other similar arrangement depending upon the legal or public venue.

That said, those considered by prosecutors, media, attorneys, public officials, or others investigating possible crimes or illicit behaviors look for evidence that points to guilt before filing or making an allegation.

Investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson says that in seeking the truth, one should follow the money and check the facts. That’s a time-honored method used by investigators, media, law enforcement, legislators in oversight, etc.

 

  • Buffett-led Berkshire Hathaway is a firm that Bill Gates sat on their board of directors from 2004 until March of 2020.
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has Warren Buffett on their board.
  • The Gates Foundation and Gates’ investment firm have billions in Berkshire (BRK) stock.
  • Acme Brick is owned by Berkshire. These are well evidenced facts.
  • These are largely acknowledged by Acme Brick in the report that Gedo was responding to, found at the link below.

 

AcmeBrickBillGatesWarrenBuffettBerkshireHathawayPalletsofAcmeBricksDeliveredRiotSitesEvidenceInvestigationFactCheckMHProNews6

Acme Bricks – Yes, Bill Gates Investor in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Brand Acme Bricks – Allegedly Supplying Antifa, Black Lives Matter Rioters “Pallets of Bricks” Investigated

Berkshire Hathaway owned Acme Bricks has been caught up for over a month in allegations that seek to tie Bill Gates, who owns significant holdings in Berkshire (BRK) and sat on their board until March 2020, sometimes Warren Buffett, and other billionaires.

Gedo used these exact words in his most detailed reply.

Fair enough, Tony. Here’s my perception of your post: The fact-checking websites don’t support that “a coordinated effort existed on behalf of government entities or billionaires to place bricks on protest routes.” So your headline “‘Pallets of Bricks’ Investigated” could mislead a casual reader into the mistaken conclusion that the investigation was ongoing or had uncovered facts that lent credence to the belief that the bricks had been deliberately placed and that Buffet and Gates had anything whatsoever to do with it. The fact-checking sites indicate that none of these conclusions is correct. So what’s the point of your post? As we previously discussed, it’s healthy for an oligopolistic industry to have gadflies. But your posts about Buffet aren’t limited to MH industry controversies (Uncle Warren’s alleged anti-competitive behavior, for example). They focus far too often on Buffet’s (and Gates’) political beliefs or ideological perspectives, making the posts seem more like trolling than an industry blog.”

In no specific order of importance, we will look at specific parts of the above and address them, which is what ‘fisking’ is – a systematic examination of claims vs. reality.

Gedo wrote in part: “The fact-checking sites indicate that none of these conclusions is correct.”  That’s not quite accurate. Those fact check sites said the claim was “mostly false.”

  • Words have meaning. ‘Mostly false’ means that it is somewhat true. What Gedo doesn’t acknowledge is that MHProNews cited 2 fact check sources, including the one that Acme Brick did. We provided an accurate look at the Berkshire-owned Acme defense. We further provided local law enforcement, local media, and White House statements relative to the issue. These made it plain that there is evidence – including photographic – that something dangerous tied in some manner to Acme is occurring. Here is how our image summarized it.
  • Just because some instances may have been debunked doesn’t mean that they were all debunked. 

 

AcmeBricksCloverInvestigationFactCheckSnopesDebateAndyGedoMHProNews

 

NEXT…Gedo said:

  • But your posts about Buffet aren’t limited to MH industry controversies (Uncle Warren’s alleged anti-competitive behavior, for example).”

Let’s examine who has made evidence-based allegations against Buffett, Berkshire, Clayton Homes?

Here is a partial listing:

 

  • The Atlantic, without specifying how the monopolization was being accomplished, noted that the independent retailers in manufactured housing were being rapidly eliminated/consolidated, that report is linked here.

 

 

 

 

  • The Jacksonville Florida Times Union summarized the connection between the John Oliver viral hit video dubbed “Mobile Homes,” MHI, Clayton Homes, and their related lenders. That op-ed was first fact-checked by an editor, before it was published in multiple Florida newspapers.

 

  • Forbes has an article that focuses on the racial bias and predatory businesses practices too. It is entitled “Warren Buffett’s Exploitative Mobile Home Investment.” Rephrased, there are sources across the left-right media divide that have highlighted problems with Clayton Homes, their business and lending practices for several years. Several of those have included a monopolistic angle.

 

 

The HBO video by John Oliver shown above has topped over 8.1 million views. It satirically documents several concerns about Clayton Homes, their lending, Warren Buffett, and allegations of discriminatory and predatory lending practices. More details on that are linked here, which connects the dots that each of the firms examined have connections or are MHI members. MHI is dominated by Berkshire brands, as that report demonstrates.

The local Knoxville news video below – Clayton’s ‘home town news station’ includes an interview from a company insider that notes some of those same concerns.

 

 

The Financial Times has the quote below, which is from a self-proclaimed one-time Warren Buffett fan. Robin Harding now sees Berkshire – the parent company of Clayton Homes – as someone harming capitalism because of his monopolistic practices.

RobinHardingPhotoFinancialTimesLogoWarrenBuffettDefintionGoodManagementIsClearIfYouHaveEffectiveCompetitorsYouAreDoingItWrongCastleMoatImageQuoteManufacturedHomeProNews

 

I was appalled by some of the findings in the recent articles,” said Maxine Waters (CA-D) in a letter that included fellow House Democratic lawmakers. “There is no place for these kinds of sleazy and deceptive practices. I was further taken aback by Mr. Buffett’s defense of Clayton’s lending practices given the concerns that were raised by the articles earlier last year.”

 

USRepMaxineWaterEmanuelCleaverKeithEllisonMikeCapuanoMastheadDailyBusinessNewsMHProNews
These Democratic lawmakers have raised the issue of racism with respect to the companies that dominate MHI. MHProNews is the first in the MH industry to notify industry readers that the Center for Accountability put out a press release that they are pursuing this racism, steering and predatory lending issue. MHProNews asked MHI’s leadership about this, asking them to reject racism. Years later, they have not yet made such a statement to MHProNews or one that is known publicly. 

Note that the list above includes minorities, progressives, and several congressional representatives who happen to share the same political affiliation that Buffett and Gates have? Rephrased, these are not just ‘natural’ political opponents of Buffett and Gates. It is also from people that Buffett and Gates share political views. There are more, but those are enough to make the point.

But additionally, to clarify their political world-view, look at what Buffett-partner and Berkshire Vice Chair Charlie Munger and Berkshire Board member Ronald Olsen are partners in the MTO law firm. The MTO site has this quote, which they don’t reject. Rather, they embrace the claim.

 

AMLawMungerTollesOlsonLLPIsProgressivePerhapsRadicallyProgressiveMTOLawFirmLogoBerkshireHathawayBoardofDirectorsRonaldLOlsonManufacturedHomeProNewsMast

 

The financial support of Buffett and Gates have flowed to nonprofits who in turn gave money to the Tides. The Tides in turn provided funding to Black Lives Matter, MHAction, and an array of routinely left-leaning or progressive organizations.

Who says they are left-leaning or progressive? Often the organizations themselves. Or in some cases their allies in statements that the given organization doesn’t reject, but rather, embraces. Examples are shown below.

 

Stating the Obvious Can Bring Clarity

The backdrop of the Acme Brick allegations that Gedo is responding to are the riots that are often tied to Black Lives Matter and Antifa.  The two claims ought to be seen as interlaced, because they are. Even left-of-center Bloomberg made that connection, as the image at the top and their headline to it made clear.

 

Dark Money-Billionaires Buffett, Gates, Soros Funding Black Lives Matter, Antifa – Named by AG Barr in Riots, Looting – Hijacking Peaceful George Floyd Death Racial Justice Protests

“As more lives and communities are destroyed by the system that creates vast amounts of wealth for the few, the more heroic it sounds to “give back.” It’s what I would call “conscience laundering” – feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity.”

 

So far, there is no denial of any of the facts presented in the report above. It should also be noted that Acme Brick, nor others involved in the story, have responded to even try to deny the clear evidence presented in the report linked above.

Put differently, why is Andy Gedo alone in this? Why isn’t Acme Brick, Clayton Homes, Buffett, Gates, Soros, Berkshire Hathaway, or their attorneys and surrogates even trying to refute the evidence presented in the report linked here and above?

 

The Rules or Sound Argumentation, Logic, or Debate

As noted above, a reason-based argument isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Too many in modern society have either never learned or lost sight of the importance of a ‘good argument.’ The list of progressives who signed onto a statement lamenting efforts to silence political discussions through threats and intimidation techniques comes from self-proclaimed anti-Trumpers. They nevertheless see harm to society by media, educators, corporate, institutions, or others attempting to squelch debate.

 

UpholdValueRobustEvenCausticCounterSpeechButNowCommonHearCallsSevereRetributionJKRowlingGloriaSteinemNoamChomskyPhotosQuoteableQuoteHarpersLetterJusticeFreeSpeechMHProNews
Some of what Gedo said might be described as subtle to bolder digs. For those on LinkedIn who have seen the discussion, note that MHProNews didn’t even acknowledge those digs at this point in the debate. Far more important to focus on the meaty topics than purported slurs or distractions.

 

Insults and name calling aren’t a valid argument. The list below that follows the jerk satirical point cites the sources that explain why a method isn’t a valid or logical form of debate or argumentation.

 

AdhominemAttackOnPersonGreedyJerkIntigiteDailyBusinessNEwsMHProNewsMast
This ‘you are a jerk” or name-calling is known as an attack on the person or an ‘ad hominem’ attack. An insult is not a valid argument. An insult is a way to avoid a valid argument. See the more complete list below.

DuckDodgeDismissDistractDetractDefameLogicalFallaciesTacticsUsedByManipulatorsBigLieAdHominemRedHerringRazzleDazzleInfographicMHProNews

 

In examining that list of problematic argumentation, let’s pivot back to Gedo’s statement. Note that the term “fisking” means a detailed, or even a line by line examination, of a given statement that is being scrutinized.

 

  • So your headline “‘Pallets of Bricks’ Investigated” could mislead a casual reader into the mistaken conclusion that the investigation was ongoing or had uncovered facts that lent credence to the belief that the bricks had been deliberately placed and that Buffet and Gates had anything whatsoever to do with it.” Gedo’s point is understandable, but that doesn’t make it correct. MHProNews investigated the claims by investigating what others from across the spectrum have said. The headline is a phrase that some in media use to indicate a fact-check, unpacking, analysis, or other terms that mean similarly and would likewise not have been deceptive.

 

  • The fact-checking sites indicate that none of these conclusions is correct.” Making a claim isn’t the same as proving a claim. As was noted above did not say that. What the two fact check sites said that is that the claim is “mostly false.” Just because some have made allegations that are in some sense incorrect doesn’t mean that some of the allegations are accurate and/or merit more investigation. “Mostly false” also means “somewhat true.” Rephrased, it is arguably an artful dodge by Gedo.

 

  • This debate tactic, wittingly or not by Gedo, could be called a red-herring or an artful dodge. See the definitions above.

 

Let’s look at this portion of Gedo’s post.

But your posts about Buffet aren’t limited to MH industry controversies (Uncle Warren’s alleged anti-competitive behavior, for example). They focus far too often on Buffet’s (and Gates’) political beliefs or ideological perspectives, making the posts seem more like trolling than an industry blog.

Gedo is correct in saying that MHProNews posts aren’t limited to “MH industry controversies (Uncle Warren’s alleged anti-competitive behavior, for example).” Note that the listing of third-parties reporting on Buffet’s “alleged” anti-competitive tactics above or found at the link here are significant. They come from both sides of the media divide. Political officials who share Buffett’s and Gates political world view are among those who are calling for investigations.

How is that not relevant to manufactured housing?  It is logically useful to look inside and outside of the industry for evidence, as Gedo himself indicated in the prior debate.

PreserveGoodFaithDisagreementWithoutDireProfessionalConsequencesDefendOurWorkJKRowlingGloriaSteinemNoamChomskyPhotoQuoteableQuoteHarpersLetterJusticeFreeSpeechMHProNews

What Andy Gedo – ManageAmerica Partner, Manufactured Housing Institute Supporter – Revealed About Clayton, Cavco and Skyline Champion Manufactured Homebuilders

What did Andy Gedo reveal? In a word, ‘ volumes.’ Some articles and statements are so packed with information and insights that they merit at least two careful readings.

 

Here is how Gedo phrased it then. “Tony: I agree with your [MHProNews] thesis that the MHI industry needs devil’s advocates or contrarians. Any highly concentrated industry needs this. And you may have a point that since our industry lacks contrarians, it may be worthwhile to look to other industry for example…”

Rephrased, Gedo in his recent comment was contradicting Gedo’s own comment previously.

AndyGedoPhotoManageAmericaManagerLogoManufacturedHousingInstitutememberQuoteAgreesManufacturedHousingIndustryNeedsContrariansDevilsAdvocatesMHProNewsMast

 

Gedo made another statement previously similar to that one.  Why does this matter? Because he is not consistent in his matter. He previously said it was fine in principle to do precisely what we did in the Acme Brick fact-check report. The quote above made it clear that Gedo doesn’t deny that manufactured housing has become highly concentrated, another way to say that it has steadily been monopolized.

AndyGedoPhotoManageAmericaLogoQuoteAContrarianExpandHorizonsThroughDialogueTheyProvideExplanationExamplesBehindReasoningNoBackdropOfDishonestyMHProNewMast
MHProNews acknowledges that there are times that we challenge conventional thinking, what Gedo calls ‘contrarian’ thinking. We provide examples, as this article does and as did the prior one that this Gedo quote responded to.

 

Gedo-MHProNews Debate Analysis

The purpose here is not to disparage or question the motives of Andy Gedo. Among the reasons to do this is because it is a real-world example of how an authentic discussion or debate can occur.

We are not speculating on why Gedo wanted to debate this topic, or why on two prior occasions Gedo -an MHI member – has decided to try to defend Clayton Homes, their affiliated lenders, MHI, Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett, et al. Gedo’s reasons are not irrelevant, but they don’t change how the debate is analyzed.

  • Note that at no time have we ‘name called’ or smeared Gedo.
  • By contrast, he used some statements that could be construed as a slur.
  • Any slur is what is known in logic or debate as an attack on the person or an “ad hominem” attack.
  • An ad hominem is a distraction, not a valid argument. As was noted above, the example and quote below applies

 

AdhominemAttackOnPersonGreedyJerkIntigiteDailyBusinessNEwsMHProNewsMast
This is an attack on the person, a slur. As the above makes clear, even if the slur is true it doesn’t make it a valid argument. Yes, even a jerk can make a valid argument.

 

It is a distraction from the issue to say that we are ‘trolling’ Buffett or Gedo calling this writer a ‘gadfly,’ for instance. Not only can those be refuted, but they are indicative in the weakness of the person who uses such a method. Such methods don’t make Gedo’s argument stronger, they make it weaker.

Summing up. Gedo has not refuted a single point made in our report. Rather, he employed red herrings and distractions, some subtle name calling, but did not actually refute a single piece of our report.

Further, Gedo’s lament that we look at broader issues, not necessarily specific to manufactured housing “They focus far too often on Buffet’s (and Gates’) political beliefs or ideological perspectives, making the posts seem more like trolling than an industry blog.” As was noted, Gedo himself contradicts his prior statement. Of course it is valid for us as an independent publisher to investigate and report on issues beyond manufactured housing to see how they might shed light on our industry’s plight.

As we’ve stated for some time, the industry has underperformed since the time that Buffett-led Berkshire acquired Clayton Homes, their associated lenders, and other parts of the industry and related suppliers. Kevin Clayton himself echoed what Buffett said about “the moat.”

 

WarrenBuffettPhotoKevinClaytonPhotoQuoteWarrenVeryCompetitiveMoatCompetitiveMoatDeepenWidenMoatPlanMakeDifficultOnCompetitorMastheadMHProNews

 

WarrenBuffettPhotoQuoteBerkshireHathawayLogoMostImportantThingFiguringOutHowBigMoatAroundBusinessLoveBigCastleBigMoatWithPiranhasCrocodilesMHProNewsMasthead

 

HUDCodeManufacturedHousingIndustryProductionShipmentTotalsByYear1995to2019MHProNewsLogoGraphicMasthead

 

UnderstandingWarrenBuffettCastleMoatMetaphorsQuotesMastheadManufacturedHousingIndustryAnalysisMHProNews-519x768
This is a key to understanding they dynamics of MHVille. Buffett’s ‘strategic moat’ or ‘Castle and Moat’ principle is arguably designed to create a slow motion monopoly that may escape the notice of regulators by appearing on the surface to be market forces at work. So there are efforts at promotion, but they are routinely overshadowed by more successful efforts to undermine the industry’s image.

 

Logical Takeaways and Conclusions from the Gedo-MHProNews debate

Samuel Clemens a.k.a. Mark Twain is credited with this statement.

 

ItIsEasierToFoolPeopleThanToConvinceThemThatTheyHaveBeenFooledMarkTwainSamuelClemensQuoteMastMHProNews

 

That statement, regardless of attribution, is quite astute. It is similar

What much of this comes down to is can be summed up in this chart that follows and the simple notion that opinions, wishes and desires are not facts.

When there is a lack of accurate information, or when information is a mix of true, untrue or spin, it is necessary to sift through the data OR to recognize the tactics of distraction.

Spotting the tactics of distraction – like name calling/attacks on the person, or the bright shiny ball that is a red herring – can be useful in recognizing that when used intentionally or by accident, it weakens the argument of the one using a problematic tactic.

Gedo will be invited to respond to the report linked above, which certain does set the context for the Acme Brick controversy, and to this fisking as well. Readers should save the logical fallacy document and refer to it routinely until it becomes second nature. It will help you spot spin or other items in the news.

Don’t miss the Big Lie and other reports linked below.

##

Eyes Only – for Manufactured Housing Industry Professionals, Investors, and Officials

 

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We recommend that news tips NOT use company, nonprofit or organizational emails or cell phones. To report a news tip, click the image above or send an email to iReportMHNewsTips@mhmsm.com – To help us spot your message in our volume of email, please put the words NEWS TIP or COMMENTS in the subject line.

See the related reports following the byline and notices.

The industry is underperforming. There has to be a logical reason for that during an affordable housing crisis. The reason this site is so highly read by MHPros is arguably because we gather the facts, data and provide analysis that no one else in the industry’s trade media dares publishing. That’s likely why were are the documented runaway #1 most read and largest.

That’s a wrap on this installment of manufactured housing “Industry News, Tips, and Views Pros Can Use” © where “We Provide, You Decide.” © ## (Affordable housing, manufactured homes, reports, fact-checks, analysis, and commentary. Third-party images or content are provided under fair use guidelines for media.) (See Related Reports, further below. Text/image boxes often are hot-linked to other reports that can be access by clicking on them.)

CongRepAlGreenDeskTamasKovachLATonyKovachPhoto12.3.2019ManufacturedHomeProNews
All on Capitol Hill were welcoming and interested with the discussion of manufactured housing related issues on our 12.3.2019 meetings. But Texas Congressman Al Green’s office was tremendous in their hospitality. Our son’s hand is on a package that included the Constitution of the United States and other goodies. MHProNews has worked with people and politicos across the left-right divide.

By L.A. “Tony” Kovach – for MHLivingNews.com.

Tony earned a journalism scholarship and earned numerous awards in history and in manufactured housing. For example, he earned the prestigious Lottinville Award in history from the University of Oklahoma, where he studied history and business management. He’s a managing member and co-founder of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC, the parent company to MHProNews, and MHLivingNews.com. This article reflects the LLC’s and/or the writer’s position, and may or may not reflect the views of sponsors or supporters.

http://latonykovach.com

Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/latonykovach

Recent and Related Reports:

The text/image boxes below are linked to other reports, which can be accessed by clicking on them.

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PrimaFacieCaseRichardJennisonTimWilliamsKevinClaytonTomHodgesPhotoManufacturedHousingInstitute21stMortgClaytonHomesLogoEtAlManufacturedHomeProNews
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TimWilliamsCallsLesliGoochSupurbButLatestTipRevealsAdditionalMHICEOGoochControversyConnectedDocumentsManufacturedHomeProNews
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ThePartyisOverCovid19CoronavirusBillGatesWarrenBuffettWuhanVirusSoWhatsNextManufacturedHomeProNews
The featured image includes several metaphorical items. It can be seductive – but dangerous – to believe certain things. A mask, among other meanings, is used to project a false face, often used by actors. The eye conveys vision or understanding, which that woman and the mask partially obscures. The wall can stand for the harsh reality that sets in when illusion and the hard facts meet. https://www.manufacturedhomepronews.com/masthead/the-party-is-over-so-whats-next/
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