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Lights, camera, empathy!
September 16, 2005 3:11 AM   Subscribe

Lights, camera, empathy! The Bush adminstration has gone to great lengths and great expense to create just the right image... from the "magic hour light" Mission Accomplished speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln to hiring a small floatilla of barges with floodlights to illuminate the Statue of Liberty, to sticking his head on Mount Rushmore. It seems a bit absurd, however, to spend a huge amount of money to bring in lighting crews and massive theatrical floodlights to bathe a building blue in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. They even took the time to reset the clocktower back to the correct time. Why didn't they just use the building's existing white lights instead? Did they need the lights to match the president's shirt? Note that his sleeves are rolled up and his collar is unbuttoned. It sure is hard work rebuilding New Orleans, isn't it?
posted by insomnia_lj (129 comments total)

 
This would be the wrong forum to complain about blue.
posted by srboisvert at 3:27 AM on September 16, 2005


Hey, you forgot the plastic turkey and the halos - all courtesy of art director Scott Sfourza. Here's a prior mefi discussion on presidential theatrics.

Last night, several newscasters wryly commented about this stagecraft, noting that the clock standing still was a metaphor for his inaction and that it was surreal to have the lights go on in a darkened, battered city right before the Bush speech and then go off right after. We're all props in this guys stage set.

Bagnews Notes has been working overtime dissecting the latest Bush imagery - great stuff.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:47 AM on September 16, 2005


Although I enjoyed the stagey memories, trying to hang Bush because he shone blue lights on a building during an emergency seems a little desperate.

Do you have figures on how much this cost? Are we sure that they didn't use diffusers and acetates to change the lighting? (Indeed, if the original lighting still worked after any water damage) How much might it have cost to unbutton a shirt and roll up the sleeves?

Why wasn't the grounding of aid aircraft developed into an integral part of this post? It's his fourth visit to the region - does that mean that the aerial support has been halted four times? Would that time add up to a week of grounded equipment and stranded civilians?

I can't stand the f*cker, but this Bushwhack sounds petty and misdirected. He's done far worse to earn your scorn.
posted by NinjaPirate at 3:50 AM on September 16, 2005


What I'd like to know is why is he even there? Does he know how to repair a levee? Care for flood victims? Restore a building with water damage?

Personally I'd be more impressed if he stayed the hell out of the way of the real work being done. He's like a manager that stands right in the middle of the action and forces you to take extra time just to manuver around them.

And just because he's done more scorn worthy things than this doesn't mean it exempts him from lesser asshattery.
posted by Talanvor at 4:09 AM on September 16, 2005


The colorization of the cathedral in a city without electricity and the utilization of Andrew Jackson--of all people--as a backdrop for Bush's theatrics underscore that the whole speech was a publicity stunt aimed at bolstering Bush's declining politcal fortunes. Why in hell did Bush's PR myrmidons think that we needed to see a blue cathedral? Why the Casual Friday outform on the Leader of the Free World (tm)? Couldn't we have had at least one First Responder (tm) on display for our money?

Bluie, you're doing a heck of a job!
posted by rdone at 4:20 AM on September 16, 2005


To quote his father, who once read aloud a note verbatim, "Message: I care."
posted by pmurray63 at 4:20 AM on September 16, 2005


Don't forget the cost of crowd control. Can't allow any actual residents to get close enough to hear the guy speak, someone might get outta line.
posted by bashos_frog at 4:26 AM on September 16, 2005


Politicians are constantly doing the PR thing with the public. However, the House of Bush takes this penchant to an exceedlingly painful level. He is forever trying to convince the public how very much he cares when he does not really give a shit. He is a ghost of a public servant; he is actually a private interest servant. This disaster and a desperate game of PR catch up is the perfect illustration.
posted by philmas at 4:28 AM on September 16, 2005


He said the things he should have been saying weeks ago. Will he be able to follow through? The fact that he could not seem to wipe that smirk off of his face, and he was trying, leads me to believe he is less committed to the follow through than he should be. As for the blue lights - nothing to see here, move along.
posted by caddis at 4:29 AM on September 16, 2005


I have come up with a suspicion. It is a bit silly. Not a tin-foil hat thing exactly. When I heard that this "turd blossom" nick for Rove was actually Bush's choice in nick, it came to me: this is all Rove, carefully orchestrating the downfall of Georgie Boy, for making that nick public knowledge.
posted by Goofyy at 4:33 AM on September 16, 2005


Bush was working so hard out there that he sweat up a storm.

I'd be more patient with the stagecraft if it was backed by substance.
posted by Nelson at 5:06 AM on September 16, 2005


The clothes have no emperor.
posted by alumshubby at 5:12 AM on September 16, 2005


Don't forget the firefighters who volunteered to go save people in New Orleans and were asked, as people were dying, to stand behind Bush for a photo-op.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:17 AM on September 16, 2005


I remember someone on air last night carefully pointing out that the electricity for The Pres's speech was "provided by the White House."

I had this mental image of staffers carefully stretching out an orange extension cord south, across the potomac, through the south and into Jackson Square.

Why point that out? Who the heck else was going to provide it?
posted by mmahaffie at 5:18 AM on September 16, 2005


There's a rant on Daily Koz claiming that Karl Rove has been placed in charge of the Louisiana rebuilding effort. That's not true, is it?
posted by 327.ca at 5:26 AM on September 16, 2005


I've no idea. However.
posted by NinjaPirate at 5:28 AM on September 16, 2005


Here's my slightly retouched version of the Bush Rushmore photo op:


posted by taz at 5:30 AM on September 16, 2005


Do you have figures on how much this cost?

I remember Bill Clinton getting a haircut that people claimed held up airport traffic. Can't imagine that was too much of an expense. Sure was made into more of a story, though, wasn't it?
posted by flarbuse at 6:14 AM on September 16, 2005


Clinton did the same thing. I think your political disposition has as much of a polarizing effect as anything. I bet I get 5 responses within an hour as to how Clinton wasn't this bad. Yet... having grown up with with both presidents...

Yeah... He was just as bad... Just not noticed and pointed out as often by detractors who actually used "substance" to point out his flaws... Not dribble such as this.

As others have said, we'll see if there is any substance to his words. Glitz aside, I agree with the above poster that said there is plenty get down on Bush Jr. about. wasting words defiling his use of Glitz and Imagery, it's almost a low blow... I know you guys can do better.

-Duff
posted by DuffStone at 6:16 AM on September 16, 2005


Nelson, that's flop sweat.
posted by Floydd at 6:17 AM on September 16, 2005


It looks like Bush is one button off on his shirt.
posted by LinemanBear at 6:25 AM on September 16, 2005


taz rocks. rocksrocksrocks.
posted by Shane at 6:35 AM on September 16, 2005


I thought the blue shirt, blue background looked weird, and it made his head look like it was floating in space.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:36 AM on September 16, 2005


taz, please refrain from posting inline pornographic images in the future.
posted by caddis at 6:37 AM on September 16, 2005


The Bush administration: all show, no substance.
posted by clevershark at 6:39 AM on September 16, 2005


Harping on trivial things like blue lights and rolled-up sleeves only draws attention away from the genuine, tragic choices (or lack thereof) made by the administration. Put differently, Karl Rove surely loves when liberals make a big deal out of Bush's collar.

By the way, how do you reach the conclusion that Bush intended that Mount Rushmore shot, rather than a press photographer? Photographers are always framing interesting, unusual shots (see, e.g., Ashcroft's famous statue). It's one thing if Bush stood at a particular place to foster that shot. It's another if he stood at a pre-existing stage/podium and a clever photographer got the right angle.

Finally, it was not a plastic turkey. Argue all you want about whether it was a prop, and why that's significant, but at least get your facts straight first.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:43 AM on September 16, 2005


It's one thing if Bush stood at a particular place to foster that shot. It's another if he stood at a pre-existing stage/podium and a clever photographer got the right angle.

The president stood in a spot, the press stood in their spot. Yes, composing the shot was the photographer's doing, but stage directing made it possible.

Every appearance by every president since the advent of moving pictures has been stage directed. Every detail is thought of. I am certain that there are staffers who have long disccussions and meetings over the minorest of details -- like the tie [or in this case no tie] or perfect US flag lapel pin.

Bush's people have taken it to a higher art and the background is never left to chance. Remember all of the themelines on the backdrops of his Social Security and other appearances?
posted by birdherder at 6:53 AM on September 16, 2005


By definition a photo op is a staged event, but it's still nice to see people poke holes in our altered reality. Great post, and yes, it is a shame those resources weren't better put to use elsewhere.
posted by furtive at 6:59 AM on September 16, 2005


People actually watched the speech?!?
posted by cass at 7:04 AM on September 16, 2005


Let's give props where props are due. This administration has finally taken seriously the potential of TV and Hollywood to broadcast imagery of mastery, control, compassion, resolve, and sincerity, and pulled it off so well, the spectacle successfully trumped even the fact of thousands of American teenagers coming home from Operation Iraqi Freedom™ in boxes (carefully kept offstage) and navigating in military hospitals with blown-off limbs.

All those screaming black mothers with their dying babies in their arms was a glitch in the Matrix. They have already been replaced with icons of determination and hope.
posted by digaman at 7:04 AM on September 16, 2005


I was watching on PBS, and I just have to say that the initial frontal shot they had looked absolutely bizarre. I mean, his head looked as big as his torso. It made me queasy.

Also, way, way too much starch in the shirt. It was really bugging me. I kept thinking "damn, couldn't they have straightened his collar or shaken the shirt out a bit or something?"
posted by lodurr at 7:08 AM on September 16, 2005


Where in the "small flotilla of barges with floodlights" does it even talk about a flotilla of barges? I'm interested in reading more about that.
posted by odinsdream at 7:08 AM on September 16, 2005


BushCo messed up at Rushmore.

They were attempting to make the man look presidential by placing him in context with previous presidents. Simple and non-subtle.

As suggested above the photog was just framing a shot, getting the two main interesting elements in-frame.

Someone within BushCo must surely have realized the potential for unfavorable comparisons between George III and George I. The interesting question would be, what group dynamic prevented them from facing up to this reality and acting differently?
posted by scheptech at 7:11 AM on September 16, 2005


odinsdream writes "Where in the 'small flotilla of barges with floodlights' does it even talk about a flotilla of barges? I'm interested in reading more about that."

er, the third paragraph?
posted by clevershark at 7:11 AM on September 16, 2005


scheptech writes "As suggested above the photog was just framing a shot"

That's where stage direction comes in. You place the press in a place located in such a way that the photogs basically have the composition forced on them. And if someone complains you send them off to the "free speech zone".
posted by clevershark at 7:14 AM on September 16, 2005


BushCo messed up at Rushmore.

Are NYT photographers secretly part of "BushCo" these days?
posted by dhoyt at 7:24 AM on September 16, 2005


Ah, I see it now: "floodlights from nearby barges."

Hardly a flotilla:
1 : a fleet of ships or boats; especially : a navy organizational unit consisting of two or more squadrons of small warships
2 : an indefinite large number

...and I don't mean in the military sense, but in the "indefinite large number" sense. That is, it isn't clear to me at all that the statue isn't just normally lit from floating platforms. Is it? I don't know.. the article doesn't say. I would guess not, but I don't know that.

I have the feeling that the lighting was over-the-top and overtly expensive, but does anyone know for sure?

posted by odinsdream at 7:33 AM on September 16, 2005


Pretend I closed that... tag....
posted by odinsdream at 7:33 AM on September 16, 2005


..I know you guys can do better.

Huh? You're new here, eh?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:35 AM on September 16, 2005


Neither sweat nor flop sweat! - Friends, you have witnessed the Touch of His Noodly Appendage. </lastweek>.
posted by arialblack at 7:36 AM on September 16, 2005


Gimme a break. For all those saying that Clinton was just as bad... it was reported that the people handing out food and working during Bush's visits would start when he was on camera and leave after he was off. Anyway, neat to see the Republicans are finally getting defensive over stuff like this.
posted by xammerboy at 7:40 AM on September 16, 2005


I don't remember Clinton doing anything quite so ridiculous. Please name me the occasion that compares--major disaster, lighting a famous major city landmark to match the prez's shirt, etc. Clinton was a master of subtlety, by comparison.
posted by raysmj at 7:43 AM on September 16, 2005


alumshubby, that's a really good line. Also, Duffstone, it sounds like you're appealing to your wisdom and experience based on remembering the previous president.

"I bet I get 5 responses within an hour as to how Clinton wasn't this bad. Yet... having grown up with with both presidents..."
That seems kind of weird to me, but then again I'm not five years old.
posted by I Foody at 7:51 AM on September 16, 2005


As the Rushmore article mentioned, there were two stages made available for Bush's speech. The press stage, and the president's elevated stage, situated in a way and with a height that put him in the ideal situation for that photograph to be shot.

It should also be noted that Bush's budget for getting the image right is suplemented by the places he visits, which are often forced to pony up with many of the extra costs. New Orleans (and New Orleanians) have been forced to spend money from their tax dollars to provide Bush a better photo op.
posted by insomnia_lj at 7:52 AM on September 16, 2005


Transcript of the speech.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:53 AM on September 16, 2005


By Elisabeth Bumiller
New York Times
Friday, May 16, 2003


Keepin' it fresh !
posted by spock at 7:58 AM on September 16, 2005


Don't make him get political on your ass!
posted by dhoyt at 7:59 AM on September 16, 2005


While some are calling this criticism of BushCo stage craft as being "petty", I'd suggest just the opposite. In fact, we MUST make these criticisms very public. Blow them up. MeFites seem to forget the huge divide between the "folk of the internets" and everyone else. NOBODY in the "regular USA" is paying attention to these things. They can't distinguish this kind of stagecraft from their favorite "reality TV" shows like Survivor and Big Brother and so forth (which shows, surprise surprise, actually employ writers, set directors, art directors, etc. to create the "reality" they shoot from the hip). NOBODY else in America seems to give a shit about how contrived everything is that BushCo touches.

Maybe, just maybe, somebody in the MSM will notice the various blog discussions -- may a thousand flowers bloom -- and say "Hey, maybe we could point this out as well." And surprise -- you know that is actually happening.

It won't happen overnight. It will take years. But it is becoming much more common knowledge that "President" Bush is much more like an anamatronic puppet than a leader. It is also becoming painfully obvious that we actually haven't had a president since that night back in November 2000, when the last real president elected in America was defeated by a carefully stage-managed public relations campaign.

That is why this is important to ALWAYS point out this sort of shit from BushCo.
posted by mooncrow at 8:02 AM on September 16, 2005


Bumiller's been a very reliable and helpful crafter of the fake Bush image for years now.
posted by amberglow at 8:04 AM on September 16, 2005


the pic on Drudge's page makes him look like a little kid too--they definitely failed with this staging.
posted by amberglow at 8:06 AM on September 16, 2005


Are NYT photographers secretly part of "BushCo" these days?

Even NYT staffers can only shoot what's there when the positioning of mount, pres, and press are pre-planned and enforced by citing presidential security concerns. Photogs exchange freedom of physical movement for access to the security bubble.

The only reason to go to Mount Rushmore is to get pictures of Mount Rushmore. The only reason to be there at that particular time is because the president is there. Headshots of the pres without the mountain would be near-pointless and obtainable anywhere. So, shots of the pres in the foreground with the mountain in the background would be the obvious shot to get in any case.

Now, given the photogs limited range of physical motion around the president this sort of shot would be made inevitable and was clearly the intended result. Unintended, and preventable, would be unfavorable comparisons with the likes of George Washington.

So my question is, what prevented 'em from ditching the idea in the first place?
posted by scheptech at 8:06 AM on September 16, 2005


Duff says, in regards to Clinton: Yeah... He was just as bad... Just not noticed and pointed out as often by detractors who actually used "substance" to point out his flaws... Not dribble such as this.

So all of those people who refused to call Clinton anything other than "Slick Willie" - that wasn't as bad? Clinton was perceived as being way way way more image-conscious than Bush.
posted by billysumday at 8:09 AM on September 16, 2005


For those who think that this kind of media criticism is merely a liberal snark and not of interest to the general public and to the people of New Orleans, would you consider the opinion of a Gulf War I veteran and a hero during the worst days of Katrina relevant?

Interdictor, well-known for his work in keeping the internet humming in New Orleans during the hurricane, made an interesting comment on the symbolism of the press conference in my journal.

"No mention of Andrew Jackson over his left shoulder? Don't think for a second that the angle wasn't determined with that in mind also.

Religion on one side, war on the other."

posted by insomnia_lj at 8:17 AM on September 16, 2005


I don't see this post as a liberal snark - I'm fascinated with the very production of these kinds of photo opps - it really is an art, if a strange and disturbing one. Thanks for the post!
posted by agregoli at 8:29 AM on September 16, 2005


327.ca, to answer your question: "Republicans said Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff and Mr. Bush's chief political adviser, was in charge of the reconstruction effort."
posted by bashos_frog at 8:35 AM on September 16, 2005


Don't have time to quote responses (I'm at work O_o), but general answers are as follows:

1) I'm 30 years old, Clinton was elected when I was in my late teens. When I say I grew up with both presidents, I mean I matured as an adult under both leaders... None of the anti-spin I'm hearing about Bush is anything that I didn't hear in the Clinton era... Just my take.

2) FDR was the king of staged events. You never saw him in his wheelchair, you never saw him weak. Despite it being nearly 80 years ago, you don't see or hear of people getting down on him for staging events...

3) Propaganda is just part of the game. In politics, in private industry, in foreign policy. It's all rhetoric and propaganda. Maybe we're heading into a period of human "Super-hyper intelligence" or something where people just don't get fooled anymore... or maybe some of you would like to hope for that, or think you're making strides toward it...

I don't think it will ever happen myself... People will always have opinions, and with that comes the uninformed opinion, and the ability to manipulate said stances. It's part of our nature, and has been since Eve was convinced that God was holding back...

4) Oh, and yes, I am new to posting, and a few month vet when it comes to reading... so yeah, I'm just a baby MeFi'er...

-Duff
posted by DuffStone at 8:39 AM on September 16, 2005


the pic on Drudge's page makes him look like a little kid too--they definitely failed with this staging.
posted by amberglow at 11:06 AM EST on September 16 [!]


You're right. He looks like a little kid with the Magic Kingdom behind him, a vacation snapshot almost.
posted by caddis at 8:39 AM on September 16, 2005


there's a good documentary from the early 90's called spin, about political media-constructed reality, seems to have gotten a lot more absurd since then though
posted by psychobum at 8:42 AM on September 16, 2005


Business as usual.
I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.
posted by eriko at 8:45 AM on September 16, 2005


make sure the buttons are buttoned correctly before sending him out in public. (with a closeup)

eriko, why am i not surprised that they can turn the lights on for this staged performance, but don't want to do it for the people there.
posted by amberglow at 9:00 AM on September 16, 2005


That's interesting (and - I'm sure - true), eriko - but who is Brian Williams? Does he (did he) live in New Orleans? I'm not being at all snarky, I just don't understand the significance of his personal observations being posted on msnbc. Looking at the page more, it seems pretty sure he's a regular nbc reporter. I wonder why they don't include some kind of explanation of these reports?

DuffStone, you make some good points, and you phrase them well. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future... but if you don't stop signing your comments, people are going to start getting nasty. Welcome to the metafilter, though - you seem like a good addition.
posted by taz at 9:05 AM on September 16, 2005


taz, Brian Williams is the new Tom Brokaw--anchorman of NBC News and their premier public news face--he's their new Cronkite/Rather/Jennings.

Look what today brings from the feds: Federal officials appear to be seeking proof to blame the flood of New Orleans on environmental groups, documents show.

The Clarion-Ledger has obtained a copy of an internal e-mail the U.S. Department of Justice sent out this week to various U.S. attorneys' offices: "Has your district defended any cases on behalf of the (U.S.) Army Corps of Engineers against claims brought by environmental groups seeking to block or otherwise impede the Corps work on the levees protecting New Orleans? If so, please describe the case and the outcome of the litigation."

Who sent out this email? And who was going to use it? Needed for analyzing new environmental law issues? Part of the 'takings' debate? Did we mention that Karl Rove has been put in charge of the reconstruction effort?
posted by amberglow at 9:18 AM on September 16, 2005


who is Brian Williams?

Umm, NBC's lead news anchorman, as in the new Tom Brokaw. And I don't even own a TV.
posted by realcountrymusic at 9:22 AM on September 16, 2005


Are you sure that they spent a fortune to change the colour of the building's flood lights, and they didn't simply adjust the white balance on the camera?
posted by DrDoberman at 9:27 AM on September 16, 2005


who is Brian Williams?

Umm, NBC's lead news anchorman, as in the new Tom Brokaw. And I don't even own a TV.


And I don't even live in the U.S., as many others who read and post here don't. (thanks, amber!)
posted by taz at 9:28 AM on September 16, 2005


You know, I get the feeling that GWB has been tired of being president for a while, and his staff is finding it increasingly difficult to motivate him.
posted by o2b at 9:34 AM on September 16, 2005


make sure the buttons are buttoned correctly before sending him out in public. (with a closeup)

OMG it's true!

If he can't button his shirt, how will he fix New Orleans?
posted by caddis at 9:39 AM on September 16, 2005


to spend a huge amount of money to bring in lighting crews and massive theatrical floodlights to bathe a building blue

other than the 2 pictures, we know this how?

btw, in the picture on the whitehouse website the buidling and shirt don't look blue -- more of a grey really.
posted by probablysteve at 9:41 AM on September 16, 2005


Duff, That's cool, I really think Bush's stagecraft is beyond Clinton's and while I think this is a bad thing I think it's just a progression that started with the camera and has continued ever since. I do think that pointing out the wizard behind the curtain is an important thing to do because it makes these kinds of manipulations less effective.

When politics is a contest of competing pageants we might as well have a monarchy. Showmanship isn't a much beter criteria for chosing a leader than heredity.
posted by I Foody at 9:41 AM on September 16, 2005


Discussion of the speech's staging should include the fact that it was in New Orleans at all, instead of in the Oval Office. He's already had three attempts to look presidential on the scene; this is a do-do-do-over.

I have a couple of issues with the substance of the speech.
Our cities must have clear and up-to-date plans for responding to natural disasters, and disease outbreaks, or a terrorist attack, for evacuating large numbers of people in an emergency, and for providing the food and water and security they would need. In a time of terror threats and weapons of mass destruction, the danger to our citizens reaches much wider than a fault line or a flood plain. I consider detailed emergency planning to be a national security priority, and therefore, I've ordered the Department of Homeland Security to undertake an immediate review, in cooperation with local counterparts, of emergency plans in every major city in America.
Isn't that what he's supposedly been doing since the September 11 attacks, and what he bragged about having accomplished during his re-election campaign?
It is now clear that a challenge on this scale requires greater federal authority and a broader role for the armed forces -- the institution of our government most capable of massive logistical operations on a moment's notice.
I think what's clear is that the administration had the authority they required, and failed to do anything with it. And I don't think the military needs a broader role.
It was not a normal hurricane
The National Weather Service says that Hurricane Katrina "was the third-most intense hurricane to ever hit the United States since reliable records began in 1851." The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration says Hurricane Katrina was "among the strongest hurricanes ever to strike the U.S." and the "most destructive hurricane to ever strike the U.S." in economic terms.

Props for this, though:
When the federal government fails to meet such an obligation, I, as President, am responsible for the problem, and for the solution.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:44 AM on September 16, 2005


Blah blah spin, blah blah message. Who cares? Nitpicking on this stuff rather than the core question of competency distracts attention from the administration's inability to get stuff done right, on time and on budget. They engage in stagecraft to distract from their incompetency and the next best thing to people buying it is people arguing about it.
posted by phearlez at 9:47 AM on September 16, 2005


from Time: ...The site of Bush's speech was notably antiseptic and isolated, given the mayhem all along the Gulf coast. Fallen trees had been cut down, and scores of bags of leaves and branches were piled outside the 154-year-old, cast-iron fence that surrounds the square. The government brought in a truck-mounted generator, and Hollywood-style lighting. In the afternoon, fresh liners were put in trash cans. By dusk, soldiers from the 82nd Airborne had been deployed to keep regular citizens several blocks back. ...
posted by amberglow at 10:00 AM on September 16, 2005


I wouldn't expect anything less than staged photos and films for the pres. If they didn't it would look like local reporters reporting on crap when there's no news around... I don't give them much respect, which is partially from their low-production appearance.

Americans love high-productions and a very limited amount of indie-type low-cost productions. The pres is more recognized than most glamour models, and whooo-boy does he need all the help he can get in the looking-good department.
posted by cleverusername at 10:01 AM on September 16, 2005


And I don't even live in the U.S.

Fair enough, and lucky you! I wasn't dissing you for not knowing, just pointing out that this is a person, as they say, of stature in the media, not some bystander offering a comment.

However, the part that pisses me off is Williams saying he is "duty-bound" to report the hypocrisy of turning on the power for Bush's Potemkinism. As if it hurts him to have to do it. As if its unseemly to tell the truth about corruption and incompetence. As if he's afraid of being accused of Bush bashing. As if he had spent the last few years of his career as a spinner for the Bush gang. Hey, wait. Never mind.

Duty-bound. Professional puffers like Williams wouldn't know "duty" if it bit them on the ass, hard. They have abdicated their "duty" for so long, and it's interesting to see some shame creeping in at last. But fuck Williams, NBC, and all the rest. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice . . . Won't get fooled again. Like I said, no TV in this house.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:01 AM on September 16, 2005


er, "as if it[']s unseemly . . . "
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:02 AM on September 16, 2005


When politics is a contest of competing pageants we might as well have a monarchy. Showmanship isn't a much better criteria for choosing a leader than heredity. - I Foody

Ah... But hasn't it always been that way since Madison was president? Showmanship has been the "Vote Getter" since ballot boxes in America were first instituted...

Fortunately for us, The showmen were also the brightest of the bunch back then. I'm not saying anything about the competency of our modern area leaders, but showmen they remain... the whole lot of them.
posted by DuffStone at 10:15 AM on September 16, 2005


And I don't even live in the U.S.

Fair enough, and lucky you!


I cry for Americans who aren't proud to be Americans... :-(

assuming you are an American of course... If not, then I apologize for using your post for my commentary...
posted by DuffStone at 10:21 AM on September 16, 2005


"I cry for Americans who aren't proud to be Americans."

But maybe they *ARE* very proud of America and what it stands for, while still being deeply embarassed and apologetic about the actions of their government and the stupidity and avarice of the voters who put it into power.
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:24 AM on September 16, 2005


Loving America doesn't mean loving other American's wreckless, radical, and irresponsible behavior, does it?
posted by insomnia_lj at 10:26 AM on September 16, 2005


I cry for Americans who aren't proud to be Americans.

...and I laugh myself silly at Americans who come out with stuff like this. ;-)
posted by i_cola at 10:41 AM on September 16, 2005


sociopath
posted by edgeways at 10:46 AM on September 16, 2005


But maybe they *ARE* very proud of America and what it stands for, while still being deeply embarassed and apologetic about the actions of their government and the stupidity and avarice of the voters who put it into power.

Careful what you say. Bill O'Reilly is making a list:

"'Talking Points' wants to be clear about this. Anyone, anyone, who feels joy when America suffers, is our enemy. Period. One of these days, we Americans are going to wise up and unite against terrorism and other atrocities. We're going to recognize our true enemies, both inside and outside the USA and deal with them in an appropriate way. One of these days.

And when that day comes, our friends will be greatly rewarded. Our enemies will not be." (emphasis added)
posted by ereshkigal45 at 10:46 AM on September 16, 2005


Oh gee, yet another Bush is bad thread. Yaaaawwwwnnn.

Cue pictures of Clinton hugging black babies. Awwwwww.


Gag, vomit.
posted by a3matrix at 10:49 AM on September 16, 2005


So... what's the word for a party that has no principles except that of unconditional party loyalty?
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:50 AM on September 16, 2005


I'm proud to be an American and I'm proud that I speak out against the assholes sullying my country's good name with their personal crusades.

insomnia_lj, only if they're doing it on a dare or a bet.
posted by fenriq at 10:51 AM on September 16, 2005


Cue pictures of Clinton hugging black babies.

Cue video of those very same black babies, dehydrating to death in New Orleans while Bush plays the guitar. He can't even be bothered to pretend to care.
posted by mr.curmudgeon at 10:55 AM on September 16, 2005


I cry for Americans who aren't proud to be Americans...

I don't usually step this deep into the shit, but Duff, fuck you. I mean it. Fuck you.

Patriotism is not blind "pride." The reduction of patriotism to "pride" has always been a crutch of the right, making it unpatriotic to dissent in times of crisis when the right, nay DUTY, to dissent is the essence, for this patriot, of what it means to be a patriot. You've outed yourself as an idiot in this thread already. Anyone who knows my posting history knows how deeply patriotic I am. It's why I cry for my country, and for "Americans" who seem to have forgotten the meaning of freedom and obligation in their eagerness to uphold the authoritarian Bushreich. So once more, and I don't care if it gets me deleted, a time out, or banned: fuck you.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:56 AM on September 16, 2005 [1 favorite]


I am, to clarify, not proud of my country *because* I am a patriot.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:57 AM on September 16, 2005


Right showmanship is not new, they all do it, etc.

Indeed, it's a commonplace. So what's interesting, and the reason this is a good post, is what the management of that particular aspect of an administration says about the current state of the overall administration.

This one would seem to be losing it's grip, getty sloppy, going thru the motions, not managing the image effectively.

Sometimes people will run for office or attain to power in order to do or accomplish something, as a means to another end. This admin seems to have done what they mainly set out to do, which is just to get re-elected for a second term, as if that were the whole plan in itself. George himself is done since there's nowhere else for him to go career-wise, and meanwhile the powers that be in the Republican party are more interested in concerning themselves with the next round of elections than anything else.

This whole katrina thing? A major pain in the rear for the people actually running the country, seen primarily as something that messes up their current model for election planning which is the main task at this point. Their jobs would have been a lot easier if everything had remained the same for the next couple of years and Mr. Bush could have just sailed along without having to do anything especially attention-getting but katrina has upset the apple cart and it shows.
posted by scheptech at 11:10 AM on September 16, 2005


When I am away from the USA for a long time, I miss it. I live here; it is my home; I am an American.

That said, I am sickened by America's policies over the couple of hundred years. I would say the same thing if I were South African, Japanese, or Congolese, German or English.

We could argue about a few more benign European nations, but, for the most part, governments are ruthless in their lust for power, their arrogance and their cruelty.

Bush II happens to be one of the worst in recent years. Or whoever animates him, if he is an automaton in any sense of the word.
posted by kozad at 11:14 AM on September 16, 2005


I am, to clarify, not proud of my country *because* I am a patriot.

Ex-fucking-actly. I am not proud of the United States. I am ashamed. Why am I ashamed?

Because I am a citizen of the United States, and this administration is doing these things in my name.

In some ways, I hope to be declared a non-citizen because I won't mouth the party line. They'll look at it as degredation -- the penultimate punishment, to be cast out of thier glorious union.

Me? I'll look at it as absolution.
posted by eriko at 11:18 AM on September 16, 2005


I cry for Americans who aren't proud to be Americans... :-(

Whoa, dude - you need to be doing a lot of crying.
posted by taz at 11:21 AM on September 16, 2005


Thank you, realcountrymusic.
posted by wsg at 11:24 AM on September 16, 2005


Come on now Curmudgeon. If he had been there he would have been accused of being a micromanager who only gets in the way of the people doing the real work.
Simple fact is, that here on the blue, popular sentiment is to always be dissatisfied with anything GW does and complain about it constantly.
posted by a3matrix at 11:27 AM on September 16, 2005


In some ways, I hope to be declared a non-citizen because I won't mouth the party line. They'll look at it as degredation -- the penultimate punishment, to be cast out of thier glorious union.

Me? I'll look at it as absolution.


eriko, what are you waiting for? You're in control of your own destiny: Renounce your citizenship.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:30 AM on September 16, 2005


you can't renounce without having some other citizenship or residency somewhere else--if you're stateless, you might as well be dead.
posted by amberglow at 11:51 AM on September 16, 2005


eriko, what are you waiting for?

Quitting isn't absolution. I'll fight, to the limits of my poor abilities, until the very end.

That's patriotism.
posted by eriko at 11:55 AM on September 16, 2005


Duffstone says: Ah... But hasn't it always been that way since Madison was president? Showmanship has been the "Vote Getter" since ballot boxes in America were first instituted...

Nope, with Madison most people never saw the show. If every American saw the Taft show he wouldn't have won because the Taft show was fat. Now I'm not saying that pageantry wasn't important then, what I'm saying is that it's so much more important now and other things that used to be important have been eclipsed.

And I'm not proud to be an American so much as I'm glad to be an American. I didn't do anything to be an American other than exit a vagina here. To me being proud to be an American is a lot like being proud of being white, sure it puts you in an advantageous position but its nothing you accomplished. If you worked hard and risked a lot to get here then this doesn't apply to you.
posted by I Foody at 11:56 AM on September 16, 2005


I didn't do anything to be an American other than exit a vagina here.

Still, well done!
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:04 PM on September 16, 2005


GYWO

I didn't do anything to be an American other than exit a vagina here.
And you did a heck of a job, Foody. ; >
posted by amberglow at 12:05 PM on September 16, 2005


Come on now Curmudgeon. If he had been there he would have been accused of being a micromanager who only gets in the way of the people doing the real work.
posted by a3matrix at 11:27 AM PST on September 16


Oh for the love of fucking Christ. If there's anything left-leaning MeFiites don't think President Bush is, it's a micromanager. The choice is not between him fucking off on his ranch or him personally doing triage in a field hospital; it's between him fucking off on his ranch and him using his powers as President and Commander-in-Chief to help Americans.

He appointed an idiot - Brown - to do a difficult job, then praised him without any sort of merit on Brown's part. He should have fired Brown the first day, flown on Air Force One to James Lee Witt's doorstep, and said: "I done fucked up big-time, Leeboy. Help." What happened to the CEO President? What happened to him "surrounding himself with highly skilled people," that bullshit catchphrase of the first election? CEO President, my ass. If I were a shareholder in a corporation run by this guy, I would be screaming for his termination.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:05 PM on September 16, 2005


ereshkigal45 writes "Careful what you say. Bill O'Reilly is making a list:"

One of these days that moron will be found in a hotel room dead because a shoddy prostate massager will have electrocuted him. I just can't wait to see the sort of spin that Fox News will put on *that* story.
posted by clevershark at 12:17 PM on September 16, 2005


you can't renounce without having some other citizenship or residency somewhere else--if you're stateless, you might as well be dead.

In fact, one of the requirements is that you must renounce your citizenship while you are in another country. You can't renounce your U.S. citizenship while in the U.S.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:24 PM on September 16, 2005


but you just can't be in an another country--you have to have somewhere on Earth you're officially allowed to be, or you end up in a refugee camp or airport or jail.
posted by amberglow at 12:25 PM on September 16, 2005


Hard Work
posted by amberglow at 12:26 PM on September 16, 2005


and the original photo with sweat
posted by amberglow at 12:39 PM on September 16, 2005


and-- empathy? The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund/Americans for a Fair Chance today sharply criticized the Bush administration's Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs' (OFCCP) decision to grant exemptions from existing Affirmative Action Program (AAP) requirements for new federal contracts dealing with Hurricane Katrina relief. ...
posted by amberglow at 1:06 PM on September 16, 2005


Late in the game, but in the linked picture earlier in the thread it seems that three of the presidents are looking impatient, and Abe seems to be thinking "Oh, for Christ's sake who is this douchebag?" Dubya, profile artfully placed or not, just doesn't belong in that company.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 1:15 PM on September 16, 2005


"Oh gee, yet another Bush is bad thread. Yaaaawwwwnnn.
Cue pictures of Clinton hugging black babies. Awwwwww.
Gag, vomit."
So.... who is it that is currently president? I forgot. Oh yeah... Gee, let’s talk about him then instead of someone who is how far in the past now?
Talk about needing to ‘get over it’

------
"Someone within BushCo must surely have realized the potential for unfavorable comparisons between George III and George I. "
scheptech you know how dumb the average person is? (Ave. IQ is 100 +/-) HALF of them are dumber than that.
I doubt anyone makes the further connection between George III and the English King. But, y’know, I went to high school, so...

----
ereshkigal45 I enjoy how people like Bill O'Reilly compose ‘enemies’ lists when he’s a draft dodger (was in school in London just like Clinton). That tough guy facade is great, I’d love to have 5 minutes with him.

-----

I don’t believe this hollywood stuff was as prevelent under Clinton. Not that it wasn’t there (I’d down with the ‘Slick Willy’ monicker, I mean, c’mon), but that it didn’t need to be.
Bush has to try so much harder to convince people that he is in charge.
This is similar to seduction and (to quote Rove) Machiavelli 101. He has to convince them he cares, that he’s in charge, forceful, etc. When in fact he has to ask permission to go to the toilet.
http://www.mediainfo.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001137252
So indeed, there needs to be much more stage managing in order to continue to convince people he is and should be the leader. You only run things as long as people think you run things. They stop thinking it, you stop running it.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:30 PM on September 16, 2005


yup Smedley--people knew right away that Clinton cared, and felt their pain. It's not so with Bush (and wasn't so with his father either). All the bullshit about cowboy stuff and the "ranch" and his "plainspokenness" and how people would want to have a beer with him was all carefully constructed, and is now null and void.
posted by amberglow at 3:07 PM on September 16, 2005


I don't usually step this deep into the shit, but Duff, fuck you. I mean it. Fuck you. Patriotism is not blind "pride." [much much MUCH deletia]

Um, the full extent of his message was

And I don't even live in the U.S.

Fair enough, and lucky you!


I cry for Americans who aren't proud to be Americans... :-(


I think gleaning from that statement that the speaker isn't proud of their citizenship is pretty reasonable. I even went back to look at the full message to check. Maybe you should examine your own words before throwing down angry and insulting replies. You owe him an apology.
posted by phearlez at 3:08 PM on September 16, 2005


the speaker isn't proud of their citizenship is pretty reasonable

Which speaker? Duff pretty clearly meant to slam me for expressing my lack of pride in my country's current condition by expressing envy for a poster who did not live in the US. Like many Americans, I feel as if I am in internal exile in my country, and would happily move to, say, Amsterdam, if it were possible. I'd be no less a patriot for doing so.

If I misunderstood Duff, of course I apologize. I don't think so, however. S/he clearly implied I was not a patriot for expressing my wish to live elsewhere, and suggested that being patriotic means being "proud" of your country. To paraphrase a song that has the opposite meaning, when you spout "America: love it or leave it" nonsense, youre walkin' on the fighting side of me.
posted by realcountrymusic at 3:20 PM on September 16, 2005


suggested that being patriotic means being "proud" of your country

I didn't see that to the negative extent that you did, but I'll leave it up to Duff to explain.

I would submit though that being patriotic means you make a serious effort to fix the problems and not move off elsewhere. because the going gets tough. But that's my own interpretation, and I leave it up to each citizen/person to decide. Patriotism means a lot of things to a lot of people, but I think I would rather fix problems than run away. I'm not espousing that you swallow the koolaid, but being a patriot in my mind means not giving up, and right or wrong, that's how I see "moving away" because of your current opinion on the country.

Getting back to an earlier post though, which was the one that had this statement and talked about the need to make noise...

NOBODY in the "regular USA" is paying attention to these things.

Nobody pays attention in part, because of the wall of noise from the other side. When you becry every little thing as equivalent to the fall of society, people begin to tune you out. That's not to say you don't have legitimate complaints, but people can't maintain the attention span. In addition, when you maintain the same level of "noise", you don't really allow time for contrast. People label you a "whiner", a "complainer". While they may not be right, their point is that you do talk about everything with the same "volume", the same "message".

I am very disgruntled with the administration, but if the other "side" insists on using the same level of noise for everything from Iraq to Katrina to the speech in New Orleans to the cowboy belt buckle he wears, they make it all the easier for me to tune them out or not listen to the message. That's the thing that you risk when you nitpick every single aspect of Bush.
posted by Drylnn at 3:41 PM on September 16, 2005


I did not in fact express a wish to leave the country, to be clear, in the original comment to which Duff responded (I did in the last comment, facetiously). I simply expressed envy for someone lucky enough to live a life unsullied by the likes of Brian Williams. And this somehow means I am not "proud" to be an American, says he. So leave aside the issue of whether it's more patriotic to stay and fight (with which I agree -- I didn't say I was a heroic patriot, and I begin to draw the line at the though of my child growing up in this poisonous culture of hate and cynicism). One can admire other cultures without renouncing one's own completely. I'm an American, I'll always be an American. I am in fact a patriot in a serious way, or I would not be so angry at what the current administration has done to my country. True pride in something means expressing shame when it's merited and calling bullshit what it is. It isn't the vapid "pride" marketed as patriotism by the MSM Borg and the GOP, smiling happy people waving flags and grinning like idiots. It's people like Cindy Sheehan, who gave the utmost save what her son gave -- that's fucking pride, standing outside the president's hideaway asking why in hundred degree heat for a month. Such pride can be practiced in exile as well. History is replete with examples. But really, I was just saying "lucky you, you get to not know who a moron like Brian Williams is." End of story.

Look, it's no secret that I detest the neocon/fundy cabal with every fiber of my being. But I can engage with its partisans on many issues. The *one* thing that sends me around the bend is the imputation of lack of patriotism, the claim to the moral high ground of righteous nationalistic sentiment made by the right, the co-optation of symbols that belong to all of us for the benefit of some of us (the flag, to take one). Call it the "Swiftboat Strategy," but it's disgusting and immoral and the kind of thing I believe America stands against from first principles. This new state religion is destroying our society's basic fabric, the foundation of our civil society and our system of governance: the commitment to tolerance of difference, e fucking pluribust unum. It is absolutely outrageous to question someone's citizenship in a debate about governance or policy. It undermines everything. It's a "fuck you" offense to me. On principle.
posted by realcountrymusic at 3:57 PM on September 16, 2005


pluribus
posted by realcountrymusic at 3:58 PM on September 16, 2005


With Clinton it was different. While I can't claim to know whether or not Clinton ever meant what he said in his sympathetic speeches, we can at least determine his intent from his actions.

Clinton cancelled a vacation (which was to be a brief golf trip; not five weeks on a ranch) because a hurricane much weaker than Katrina was going to hit. He did this a second time when Floyd hit.

And the rapid and competent and crony-free responses by FEMA under the Clinton administration were very effective, so effective, FEMA became prime fodder for the Illuminati's-gonna-eat-my-cats theorists.

So, there's really no comparison. Not only was Clinton good with the words and the production, his actions led you to believe he really meant them and led you to believe there was a mostly competent person behind the facade. Unlike Bush, where the gulf between words and actions is large enough to steer a hurricane through.
posted by pandaharma at 4:01 PM on September 16, 2005


Drylnn writes "if the other 'side' insists on using the same level of noise for everything from Iraq to Katrina to the speech in New Orleans to the cowboy belt buckle he wears, they make it all the easier for me to tune them out or not listen to the message."

Frankly it sounds like you want to "tune them out or not listen".

Secondly if you think that the "same level of noise" exists for all those things then frankly your reading comprehension needs some serious remedial work.
posted by clevershark at 4:09 PM on September 16, 2005


I detest the neocon/fundy cabal with every fiber of my being

That, sir, is an inmitigated frabrigation.

I have it on good authority -- GOOD authority -- that your fiber #1138A is dedicated primarily to admiration of Dwight Yoakam's acting, with the remainder of that fiber devoted to a healthy visceral loathing for Rachael Ray.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:37 PM on September 16, 2005


Well, it's true. Dwight can act. I think. I have a few other fibers reserved too, but I'll keep that private.
posted by realcountrymusic at 8:14 PM on September 16, 2005


the speech was a rerun
George Bush on Iraq, 11/14/03:

We will do what it takes. We will not leave until the job is done.

George Bush on the Gulf Coast, 9/15/05:

We will do what it takes. We will stay as long as it takes.

posted by amberglow at 8:14 PM on September 16, 2005


...The federal aid hot line mentioned by President Bush in his address to the nation on Thursday cannot handle the flood of calls, leaving thousands of people unable to get through for help, day after day. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:19 PM on September 16, 2005


Frankly it sounds like you want to "tune them out or not listen".

I only wish you could see me rolling my eyes at this. It's apparently much easier to disregard the comment than deal with it. You have no real basis for this statement, and you ignored what I actually said. And you made assumptions about what I do. That I find your comment amusing is the understatement of the year.

Secondly if you think that the "same level of noise" exists for all those things then frankly your reading comprehension needs some serious remedial work.

Ummm... okay. I don't know if you're on the right, left, or whatever, but I'm going to continue with my train of thought in response.

Without trying to sound like an ass, if you think that the discussion in general doesn't sound like a drone anymore, you need to leave the ivory tower of metafilter. The left has legitimate complaints, but it is coming across as a high level of noise, and this is not comments from just rapid right wing nut jobs. The right has the problem that no one believes them and feels they are incompetant, the left has the problem that people thinks they're offering a viable alternative because they yell about everything. I'll concede that I might be off-base in this thought, and that many people I know might be off-base as well, but I find it unlikely. Even my mother, a registered Democrat for many years and least likely to support the Bush campaign in oh, ANYTHING, says the left sounds like a horrible drone anymore, simply a counteryell who feels emboldened simply because Bush's ratings are down. And she's right... and what should concern the left is that she is the kind of person who should be on their side.

So, it's your choice. You can disregard what I'm saying (which is apparently your choice, choosing to think I want to tune them out), or you can try to understand it and maybe create a viable solution to the problems in this country. I'm tired of hearing people make excuses and instead of saying "Let's fix the problem", they make excuses. Sigh... *I* am trying to block them out, huh? Quite the assumption on your part.
posted by Drylnn at 9:55 PM on September 16, 2005


"that people thinks they're offering a viable alternative"

Urg... should have said "people don't think they're offering a viable alternative"
posted by Drylnn at 9:56 PM on September 16, 2005


Drylnn writes "So, it's your choice. You can disregard what I'm saying (which is apparently your choice, choosing to think I want to tune them out), or you can try to understand it and maybe create a viable solution to the problems in this country. I'm tired of hearing people make excuses and instead of saying 'Let's fix the problem', they make excuses. Sigh... *I* am trying to block them out, huh? Quite the assumption on your part."

You said (and I quoted) that even talking about this subject -- and I quote -- "make it all the easier for me to tune them out or not listen to the message." What other interpretation is there to this?

As to the viable solutions to the problems of your country, well, you can put them forward here. No one's stopping you. But if you're going to bitch about every time someone on MeFi writes against Bush, well, perhaps there would be some more appropriate web sites you'd rather visit. Your arguments are confused and muddled and seem to consist of "this is noise and my mom thinks so too" (quite literally, in this case).
posted by clevershark at 11:35 PM on September 16, 2005


Are you sure that they spent a fortune to change the colour of the building's flood lights, and they didn't simply adjust the white balance on the camera?

Well, that would have meant that all the colors would have been out of whack. It's not a white-balance thing.
posted by Vidiot at 10:51 PM on September 17, 2005


I cry for Americans who aren't proud to be Americans.

This is one of the most deeply stupid comments I have ever seen on MeFi. Kudos to insomnia_lj for replying briefly and eloquently to it. Far better than I could have done.
posted by psmealey at 6:24 AM on September 18, 2005


Bush Katrina Ratings Fall After Speech
posted by amberglow at 5:32 AM on September 19, 2005


and his personal ratings too: ...His personal qualities hit fresh lows: Only 49 percent called him a strong and decisive leader, down from 54 percent in July and 51 percent in August. Just 42 percent said he cares about people like themselves, and 47 percent called him honest and trustworthy.

By contrast, 51 percent did not consider him strong and decisive, 50 percent would not call him honest and 56 percent said he didn't care about people like them. ...

posted by amberglow at 4:56 PM on September 19, 2005


What the Hell is the matter with those 47 percent?
posted by caddis at 5:12 PM on September 19, 2005


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