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Losing their favorite game

Right now, the rightwing populist voice is the loudest one in the room, and it is going unchecked. The political discourse in this country is going from wingnut to WTF. (How does saying “homosexuality” is not “an equally valid and successful option” translate into “not homophobic” anyway? That’s strictly rhetorical, btw. I could ask for someone to explain, except that I don’t ever want to understand that insanity.)

The only glimmer of reprieve from the dominance of WTF politics is if the right’s rhetoric and policy agenda eventually goes so far off the cliff that it reawakens the liberal tendencies in voters again.

The teapartiers are madhatters, but what does "progressive" even stand for these days? Progressive brain disease?

Perhaps if we let the entire warped system burn itself down, in the process we can phase out this mealymouthed modern “progressivism” (which is so meaningless and formless it really ends up being a backdoor to runaway privatization). Maybe once we’re rid of the “progressive” brain rot on the left, then we can bring genuine liberalism back as an actual alternative to the rightwing’s slide down the rabbit hole. The liberal line in the sand wouldn’t be the size of gov’t, but rather a line drawn in support of liberty and equality and effective gov’t that works for the American people, regardless of size. There’s a chance the electorate would be ripe for exactly that kind of a message after witnessing where the unmitigated fury of the GO(Tea)P madhatters is bound to lead us if left unchecked.

Unfortunately, to even have a hope of getting there, we’ll have to go through Dante’s Inferno first. In the meantime the left is paralyzed, stuck between Barack and a Rand place, thinking of themselves as either for President Obama or enabling the rightwing if they go after Obama themselves.

The left, in essence, is unable to tap into the voter disaffection and to give voice to the resultant populist frustration from a left-of-center perspective in a compelling way that rivals and ultimately drowns out the anger on the right.

That’s the underlying conundrum–I can’t see the left paralyzed under John McCain and Sarah Palin at all. Quite the opposite. The left would have challenged a McCain Administration, whereas they are largely silent and neutered when it comes to the Obama Administration.

Oh sure, we hear President O’Sulks-a-lot complaining about the left and VicePresident WhinyPants following suit taunting the “the dullest audience” he’s ever spoken to. But, really the interplay here is all very ineffectual on the activist left’s part.

The grassroots base is the one that is depressed and unmotivated, but it’s not because there is so much intense criticism of Obama from the left. If the left were actually holding Obama accountable, the grassroots wouldn’t even be so disaffected in the first place.

In actuality, no real pressure is being felt by Obama to change any of his ways at all–you can see that reality reflected back every day in how Axelrod & co. have no qualms about calling the base names.

All this hippie-punching is a pathetic attempt to court the Independents that Obama has lost, though these attempts are seemingly in vain, as Independents are simply gone for this election cycle and they’re not coming back. But, then the Obama permanent campaign only cares about the next election cycle anyway.

The Obama camp has no intention of addressing the fact that the populist grassroots are not being spoken to from the left–that is the real issue driving the proverbial enthusiasm gap. To get voters out in the midterms you actually have to give them a reason to come out and vote. Instead all the DINOs in power have done is give voters reasons to stay home or vote incumbents out.

Moreover, the tiff between Obama and the Sippy Cup faction of the professional left is not the same exact thing as the disaffection happening at the grassroots voter level. There are some overlaps and both dynamics are related, but they’re not the same exact quantity.

The lack of voter enthusiasm is what is driving Obama to attack the left in the first place. Got that?

Now, on the other hand, the reason the Sippy Cup crowd is huffing and puffing right now is more because the sippy cup drinkers have finally started to notice that Obama’s claws come out when he is “periodically down” and he needs to launch attacks on disaffected Democratic constituencies to boost his own appeal. In 2008 the creative class thought they were the ones they were waiting for and they would be the bosses, but now they’ve come to learn that Obama’s targeted bullying includes using the activist and “professional” ranks of the left as a punching bag and not just the icky “low information” grassroots.

Whereas Obama’s infamous “periodically down” attack was on Hillary for having the unladylike audacity to challenge her political opponent, I’m using his words against him to flat-out mock him for bullying his base as well to mock his base for being so blind that they didn’t notice this pattern of his during 2008. As a matter of fact, the creative class were all too happy to take part in this pattern themselves so long as the bullying was happening to the Bubbas below them.

Here, let me sort of diagram what’s going on:

DINO President & Congress sell out the American people → Grassroots are disaffected → Independent voters are scurrying away like cockroaches exposed to light (that’s not a dig at independents; I’m an independent myself, but the MSM dimmed the lights for the electorate in 2008) → Obama and his DINO allies launch attacks on the left to boost their own appeal → the Sippy Cup faction of the professional left is temporarily indignant that Obama took the lids off their sippy cups to make a point to the long-gone Independents, who he needs to recapture to win in 2012 → Assuming nothing changes in the dysfunctional relationship between Obama and his base then… → …the Donna Bs out there will play sympathetic to the poor punch drunk left while subversively helping these creative classers convince themselves that they can do without the lids on their sippy cups, it’s the Obama koolaid inside the cup that matters anyway → by 2012, the WATBs on the sippy cup left will have doubled down on their eternal security blanket of having to vote O because the GOP candidate would be 2% more evil.

Nowhere in there is the activist left putting any real pressure on Obama to hold him accountable from the left. Nowhere are the activists on the left taking back the conversation from the johnny come lately tea party activists on the right. Nowhere are the career progressives collectively drawing a line in the sand and showing a willingness and readiness to walk away with their votes, their money, their time, and their activism. Nowhere have they stood up and mobilized an effort to say that the suckitude of the GOP and of the Tea Party does not cancel out the fact that Democrats have failed to do what they were elected to do.

Instead, these career progressives have settled in to using the progressive banner and its rhetoric as a means to further their own influence and buzzworthiness, rather than using their influence as a means to further substantively progressive ends and the cause of good governance. Much of their opposition to Bush during his presidency has lost its moral weight, because these same progressives have refused to hold Obama to the same standards. Their intellectual dishonesty has set the cause of grassroots liberalism way back. All the political capital that was built from 2000-2008 has been squandered.

I find no comfort or relief or consolation in any of this. For me, the sadly (and regrettably) more comforting thought is that no matter how much I would have disagreed with John McCain, I could have counted on the left to oppose the increasingly corporate agenda of DC during a Mac & Mama Grizzly Administration, instead of the left making excuses for it.

What we actually ended up with is to me the worst of all worlds–a moderate Republican Administration in everything but name and the backlash and opposition to it ironically being owned by the rightwing.

Obama swings right, the right wing swings even further right, which gives Obama cover for his going right in the first place (it’s a center-right country, goes the excuse, what’s poor Obie to do), and the cycle goes on and on.

CNN put out some interesting polling over the weekend, which I discussed in my Saturday roundup. The headline out of that poll was that the Bush brand was rebounding and is on par with the Obama brand right now, which is not a shock to any of us who held out for Hillary. I can just picture Jeb Bush reacting to those poll trends. He probably can’t wipe the smile off his face. One would have liked to think no way no how another Bush could become president, but Obama has kept that bit of Hope alive. I digress, though.

Another one of the poll’s findings was that, despite the electorate souring on Obama and warming back up enough on Bush that they’re both on a level playing field now, most voters still think Obama is doing a “better job” than McCain would have. For an electorate that voted for change and got shortchanged instead, it can be comforting to hold onto the conventional wisdom that McPalin would have been worse. But, that kind of comfort comes at a cost. It obscures what is really ailing our politics and gets people to confuse the symptoms for the disease.

I find no silver lining in reminding myself that our only major party choices for president in the 2008 general were between bad and worse, with Obama’s opponent arguably being 2% more evil. When a Democratic Administration invokes “state secrets” to avoid any legal challenge to its policy of targeted killings, I really have to wonder about that 2% and which direction it goes, anyway.

When the policies of Bush-Cheney are being rebranded as the “new normal” and as Democratic instead of as GOP, I think that is a whole new territory of evil in itself.

Furthermore–and this will sound counterintuitive to the people who reluctantly voted for Obama because they feared McCain would do a worse job–but the job that I’m concerned about, i.e. the job of holding the Administration accountable from the left, would have been done better under McCain than it is being done under Obama.

There would have been no Nobel Peace Prize for McCain escalating in Afghanistan. Of that, I have no doubt.

Every time a progressive head explodes over the latest Obama sellout or hippie-punch, I imagine the song below playing in the background (see the music video to the right of the lyrics for full effect). The DINOcrats and their progressive enablers are a political coalition with a death wish.

Alas, the left is losing its favorite game:

I only know what I’ve been working for
Another you so I could love you more
I really thought that I could take you there
But my experiment is not getting us anywhere

I had a vision I could turn you right
A stupid mission and a lethal fight
I should have seen it when my hope was new
My heart is black and my body is blue

I’m losing my favourite game
You’re losing your mind again
I’ve tried
I’ve tried
But you’re still the same
I’m losing my baby
You’re losing a saviour and a saint

Round and round the progressives go trying to turn Obama right. Or should that be “trying to turn Obama left”?

To tell you the truth, I’m not even sure what direction today’s “progressives” are trying to turn Obama anymore. They sure do seem be going in circles that enable his ever increasing tilt to the right, though. Perhaps the Circle D logo is a substantive description of that side of the aisle after all.

Voting is ultimately a very personal and private thing. Votes are not owed to anyone. Those votes belong to the voters and must be earned. Everyone has to find the voting strategy that best suits their principles and goals. Career progressives can keep on losing their favorite game if they want to. That is certainly their prerogative.

But, the rest of us don’t have to blindly throw our votes away on the Ds and Rs. Voting strategically for one over the other in local races is one thing, but on the national level, we don’t have to keep helping the legacy parties build a Bipartisan Wall of Disenfranchisement between We-the-People and our government.

Remember in November:

  1. Hold Out vs. Sold Out. (more info)
  2. If you don’t want to be punched, don’t vote for a hippie-puncher. (more info)
  3. Nobody could have predicted Bush, Iraq, Derivatives, and Obama would be disasters. I’m nobody, and I endorse this message. (more info)
  4. Obama Don’t Preach, You Sat on the Sidelines First. Obama Don’t Preach, the country is in trouble deep. But they’ve made up their mind, they’re not keeping the DINOs. (more info)
  5. Sarah Palin is neither the problem, nor the solution. (more info)
  6. Trying to choose between the Pelosis/Obamas and the Angles/Millers is like trying to choose between malaria or smallpox. (more info)
  7. What Would Alice Stokes Paul Do? See youtube to the right for clues.

52 Responses

  1. Well, the way this is working for me: I loathe Cuomo so much, I considered a vote for Paladino, especially as the media was hounding him so. After his homophobic remarks however, he lost me and anyone like me – so he has no chance in hell of winning anything. (He should have stuck to Cuomo attacks, how ever deranged). So, it’s Green for me.
    Today’s headlines, mostly on this story

    • Wish we had more green candidates here.

    • I was trying to work the No COLA for SS in at the last minute when I saw it on the newswires , but this rant was already really long!

    • Yeah that ended my vote today too. Since Cuomo is a “no way” I’ll just stay home.

      One thng about the press treatment of Paladino’s remarks… he’s against gay marriage, but so is the White House. So why beat him up and allow Obama a free pass? I understand that with consideration of the arrests in NYC and the recent teen suicide it was tone deaf on Paladino’s part to make any such statements, but it still smacks of a double standard to me.

  2. Check these Halperin remarks about “above” and below”

    Barack Obama is being politically crushed in a vise. From above, by elite opinion about his competence. From below, by mass anger and anxiety over unemployment.


    • Halperin is such a rat. He always graded Obama higher than Hillary in the debates and has been an Obama cheerleader for a long time. Now he says all this. He must be a GOP ratfrakker.

      • Oh, the rest of the article makes that painfully clear.

        • Why Obama Is Losing the Political War
          By Mark Halperin

          Barack Obama is being politically crushed in a vise. From above, by elite opinion about his competence. From below, by mass anger and anxiety over unemployment. And it is too late for him to do anything about this predicament until after November’s elections.

          With the exception of core Obama Administration loyalists, most politically engaged elites have reached the same conclusions: the White House is in over its head, isolated, insular, arrogant and clueless about how to get along with or persuade members of Congress, the media, the business community or working-class voters. This view is held by Fox News pundits, executives and anchors at the major old-media outlets, reporters who cover the White House, Democratic and Republican congressional leaders and governors, many Democratic business people and lawyers who raised big money for Obama in 2008, and even some members of the Administration just beyond the inner circle.


      • From the link

        Most of Obama’s private (and sometimes public) rebuttals to the voices slamming him on all sides are justified or spot on. He did inherit a lot of problems from the Bush Administration. He did act quickly in the initial weeks of his Administration to stave off a worldwide depression. His efforts at job creation have been obstructed by Republicans (even the proposals based on policies supported by the GOP in the past). His opponents haven’t put forth specifics of their own, nor offered genuine compromise, while the media have allowed the right’s activists and gabbers to run wild with criticism without furnishing legitimate alternative solutions.

        But Obama has exacerbated his political problems not just by failing to enact policies that would have actually turned the economy around, but also by authorizing a series of tactical moves intended to demonize Republicans and distract from the problems at hand. He has wasted time lambasting his foes when he should have been putting forth his agenda in a clear, optimistic fashion, defending the benefits of his key decisions during the past two years (health care and the Troubled Asset Relief Program, for example) and explaining what he would do with a re-elected Democratic majority to spur growth.

        Except that Obama’s rebuttals aren’t even spot on, it’s mostly just him whining and sulking about Politics 101 and the GOP having the audacity to actually oppose him. Either O drank his own koolaid and believed the hype about himself getting Republicans to hold his hand and do kumbayah. Or he thinks he can get away with fooling all of the people all of the time.

        This is a running theme for O, that goes back to his knocking Alice Palmer off the ballot–he doesn’t like to play politics by actually doing battle with the opposition. He thinks his opponents should just melt away so he can do things without being challenged.

  3. Anglachael is back with comments on Jerry Brown’s blunders

    Big Dog had to come in and save Jerry’s ass as well as showing the fool how an expert handles these things. Bill just smiled and thanked Whitman for bringing him back to the attention of the California electorate – with special thanks for bringing such a young and good looking version of himself back –

    • Thanks for the heads up on that.

    • I had to laugh when WV Gov. Manchin, running for Byrd’s senate seat, was interviewed on Fox noon news and said that Bill Clinton was coming to campaign for him. What?! Not Obama?!

      One thing people hold against Manchin was his super delegate vote for Obama after saying he’d go with the results of the primary.

      Guess who he’s gonna go for next time. It must kill Obama to see Bill out there collecting chits for Hillary in 2012. I don’t believe for a minute Obama wants the republicans to win back congress.

      • Sadly, even with Bill campaigning for Dems, I doubt most of them have the spine for Hillary 2012. Hillary 2016, probably, but I think that’s too late.

        • Superb post, Wonk. The only thing I find consoling is that we don’t know what would have happened if McCain had won. I think that possibly on balance it would have been better–the left not neutered, not publicly represented by Obots, huge slap in the face to political misogyny as ace-in-the-hole, chance to reform the party. But on the other hand, anyone who predicted exactly how much of a disaster Obama’s been would have sounded deranged. Nobody would have believed it. So who’s to say progressives wouldn’t have hung on, used McC’s failure to create a sense of nostalgic regret and come roaring back in 4 years with O himself, or someone as bad or worse? After 12 years, the free pass would have been amazing, the Dems would never have wasted it. And there might have been greater acceptance and greater leeway for Ocrats after 12 years. Maybe the country needed to actually see this disaster with its own eyes and maybe in the long run it will end up rebounding faster and working out better than it would otherwise have done. We can hope, anyway. If the progs was determined to swoon at the feet of Obama or anyone who met their criteria, 4 years of opposition to McCain would have just been postponing the inevitable, they wouldn’t have become any more principled during that time. If anything, having to wait 4 years for the jobs and accolades they think they deserve might have made them worse.

          • That wasn’t supposed to nest there, sorry.

          • But on the other hand, anyone who predicted exactly how much of a disaster Obama’s been would have sounded deranged. Nobody would have believed it. So who’s to say progressives wouldn’t have hung on, used McC’s failure to create a sense of nostalgic regret and come roaring back in 4 years with O himself, or someone as bad or worse?

            The thing of it is–is that this is happening *anyway*, even with Obama proving our doubts in him well founded. They still mock any of us who were right and they are still clinging to O (when it comes down to D vs. R).

          • Well, yeah, progressives are a lost cause, but there also aren’t that many of them. They need significant cooperation from large swaths of the population to have any chance at all. And now that all of the doubters have been proved right, they’re hopefully going to have a hard time pulling this con a second time.

  4. If only everyone who voted for Obama in 2008 would come out and vote Democratic, the Democrats would win. As someone once said to me, “Everything after “if” is a fantasy.”

    • I think it’s more 50/50. Half possible, half fantasy. As long as O can take the base for granted, he will keep trying to play the “I’m not as crazy as the teapartiers and the loony left” card. Depending on how other things go (i.e. mostly the economy but also who the the GOP picks), this trick may or may not be enough for him to be re-elected by 2012, but either way it won’t make him a better president, it will make him worse imho.

  5. Wonk, I respectfully disagree with your odds. 50/50? What are the odds that anything after “if” is 50/50?

    But the reality is that the odds of everyone who voted for Obama going out and voting Democratic in 2010 are 0 in my opinion. His whole feeble attempt at rousing voters with that gimmick is ludicrous.

    Likewise as you suggest “rousing” anyone with “the opposition is so much worse than we are”, isn’t going to rouse many. It’s very weak tea in my opinion. I notice that he isn’t promising anything nor offering any solutions. It’s all “give us more time.” To do what exactly?

    He’s lost the “it” factor big time.

  6. “Much of their opposition to Bush during his presidency has lost its moral weight, because these same progressives have refused to hold Obama to the same standards.”

    Ain’t that the truth!

  7. This is a great post. Really spot on.

    Just one small point. To me this is not a moderate Republican administration (except maybe by today’s horrific standards, I suppose). I grew up in the Eisenhower years. I consider Eisenhower a moderate Republican, and I think Obama is far to the right of Eisenhower. Social Security (as well as defined benefit pensions) was sacred then, and the military-industrial complex was to be feared. There was plenty wrong back then, to be sure, but it looks like Nirvana in hindsight.

  8. Paladino blew himself up with that ridiculous rant. He was a loose cannon to begin with but homophobia is “not” a winning strategy. Plus I heard him tell a reporter he ” would take him out.” The guy thinks he’s starring in a Soprano episode.

    So many of these candidates are ending up being a worse evil for voters. But there’s a persistant block of voters who will vote for anything or anyone to punish the Dems generally and Obama specifically. Neither of these parties can win without the Indies and Independents have been bleeding since Health Deform was pushed through. The whole thing is a bloody disaster and it’s only going to get worse.

    Good article, Wonk. And the Alice Paul clip is inspiring. She puts us all to shame.

    As for the Dems? They committed suicide in 2008 but were too drunk on koolaide to notice. Hillary Clinton was the only hope we had for pulling out of this nosedive. Now? I’m not sure it’s possible. This foreclosure debacle, the lawlessness involved, the gross criminality that’s been going on for a decade is ready to explode. And when it does, when the general public realizes what these scumbags have done? The whole house could come down on everyone’s head.

    Oh, happy days.

  9. 1 Ohio school, 4 bullied teens dead by own hand

    The 16-year-old’s last words, scribbled in English and her native Croatian, told of her daily torment at Mentor High School, where students mocked her accent, taunted her with insults like “Slutty Jana” and threw food at her.

    It was the fourth time in little more than two years that a bullied high school student in this small Cleveland suburb on Lake Erie died by his or her own hand – three suicides, one overdose of antidepressants. One was bullied for being gay, another for having a learning disability, another for being a boy who happened to like wearing pink.

    Read more: http://www.heraldonline.com/2010/10/08/2515348/1-ohio-school-4-bullied-teens.html#ixzz123p1VTi2

    This bullying has got to stop and Hollywood needs to make shows that don’t run on a theme of making fun/bullying someone as a good/hip thing. I challenge Hollywood to do shows that are entertaining without glamorizing bullying.

    Carl Paladino is doing more harm with his Homophobia remarks. Paladino is using his prime time attention to promote hating and isn’t fit to lead a city that needs healing and to reduce the HATING, especially with the recent TORTURE of Gay teens.

  10. “That’s the underlying conundrum–I can’t see the left paralyzed under John McCain and Sarah Palin at all. Quite the opposite. The left would have challenged a McCain Administration, whereas they are largely silent and neutered when it comes to the Obama Administration.”

    This is one of the worst downsides to this presidency. The left has been gutted, trussed, and silenced. My friends and I used to have lively conversations. Think of the dinner chatter over things like the gulf, the jobs crisis, the insurance company recovery bill–the list is endless. But with their man in office, silence. It’s really creepy, to see my bright and ornery friends become so stymied.

    • ITA. “If it wasn’t OK with Bush, why is it OK with Obama?” I ask this question and get met with “Can we change the subject to something more pleasant?” Ratfrakkin’ enablers.

  11. Perhaps if we let the entire warped system burn itself down, in the process we can phase out this mealymouthed modern “progressivism”

    This is the space I’m in. I want us to hit bottom because until we do, the voters won’t understand that the policies from the misguided GOP that began with the election of RR are destructive. The only way to renew the Democratic Party is to have them lose to the GOP. If the Ds win in this election, it will be seen as a approval of Obama’s policies. That would be a greater disaster than a GOP win.

    Vote against the Ds. It has to be done.

  12. The sad thing about modern Democrats, is that they are far better in an oppositional role than a leading role. The last real Democrat was FDR/Truman. Kennedy had some good ideas, but that just got him killed. Clinton was not a Democrat (see all the Democrats who attacked him…) but was a better leader than any modern Democrat.

    In this country we need a strong liberal politician to rise up and take command, without having the DINOs fight him/her at every junction. (or get him/her killed by the ‘righteous’….)

    • Those dems had some other issue with Clinton but it had very little to do with a lack of librul policy or they would be raising hell right now. obama is as bad as GW (IMHO).

      as far as getting a liberal to take command… um, love the idea but I think we have come to the days where corporate interests trump any liberal interests because they cost too much money. Wars, corporate welfare, banker stop-loss insurance provided by tax payers – we CAN afford those… but not headstart. Oh, and those evil entitlements!

      I think the media would make sure NOBODY would support a truly liberal candidate because they would spend the months leading to the election sneering about everything they did (out of context). Nobody would know.

      We are all nobodys. I hope there are eventually enough of us to make a difference.

    • Those who attacked him were D’s – circled or not. Clinton was the last elected Democratic president. Come to think of it – he was the last elected president period.

  13. I’m frankly glad that all these tea party candidates are coming in without having gone through ‘code’ school. Since Reagan, Republican candidates have been trained to use ‘code’ words like ‘state’s rights’, ‘original intent of the constitution’, traditional values, etc to cover up their hateful social agenda. I’m glad these folks are so unpolished their anti civil rights bigoted and religionist agenda is just right out there for all to view now.

  14. Thanks for letting me know this was up, Wonk. Really great stuff.

    “If the left were actually holding Obama accountable, the grassroots wouldn’t even be so disaffected in the first place.” – Wonk
    While the efforts are miniscule in comparison, I love the kind of thing GetEqual is doing, with their “We’ll give when we get equal” take on things: “I pledge not to donate to the Democratic National Committee, Organizing for America, or the Obama campaign until Congress passes, and the president signs, legislation enacting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT), and repealing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). (http://getequal.org)

    “The Sippy Cup faction of the professional left is temporarily indignant that Obama took the lids off their sippy cups to make a point to the long-gone Independents, who he needs to recapture to win in 2012.” – Wonk
    “Temporarily” — very likely true, that it’s only temporary. After all, where else do they have to go? And even after the lid is off the Sippy Cup, and they are trying to clean the sticky Kool Aid that’s spilled out, they have no choice but to come back for a refill, right?

    • Joyce, I’m late replying here but thanks for bringing up GetEqual here and linking to it. Anytime someone stands up against injustice, it’s not miniscule at all…. I am reminded of the Bobby quote…

      “Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

      –Robert F. Kennedy, June 1966, Cape Town, South Africa

  15. Great post as always

    Nobody could have predicted Bush, Iraq, Derivatives, and Obama would be disasters. I’m nobody, and I endorse this message


    • pd – that message(s) were so very clear from the get go, sob.

      Excellent post Wonk. Thank you

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