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american fascism
January 6, 2006 7:54 AM   Subscribe

The Hidden State Steps Forward by (infamous Nation author) Jonathan Schell. A quote says it best: The danger is not abstract or merely symbolic. Bush's abuses of presidential power are the most extensive in American history. He has launched an aggressive war ("war of choice," in today's euphemism) on false grounds. He has presided over a system of torture and sought to legitimize it by specious definitions of the word. He has asserted a wholesale right to lock up American citizens and others indefinitely without any legal showing or the right to see a lawyer or anyone else. He has kidnapped people in foreign countries and sent them to other countries, where they were tortured.
posted by taumeson (120 comments total)

 
But he's always smiling.
posted by pmbuko at 8:01 AM on January 6, 2006


This ought to go well.
posted by fet at 8:02 AM on January 6, 2006


The alarming argument is that as Commander in Chief he possesses "inherent" authority to suspend laws in wartime. But if he can suspend FISA at his whim and in secret, then what law can he not suspend?

That pretty much is the crux of the matter.
posted by caddis at 8:04 AM on January 6, 2006


Either the President must uphold the laws of the United States, which are Congress's laws, or he must leave office.

Don't hold your breath on either count.
posted by you just lost the game at 8:05 AM on January 6, 2006


Candygram for dios! Candygram for dios!
posted by JeffK at 8:07 AM on January 6, 2006


Would we have to change the Constitution to get a recall election? It's clear that Congress (as it's made up now) will not act in any real way.

It really is brazenly illegal and anti-American--a class-action suit? anything? trying him for treason? a revolution?
posted by amberglow at 8:11 AM on January 6, 2006


youjustlost has it:
The trouble is that whenever he breaks the laws, overspends, violates civil liberties, does something "unfortunately necessary" like approving torture....people actually cheer, like this is fucking Lethal Weapon and Bush is the rogue cop that actually gets the job done, no thanks to the goodniks back at the office, with their silly desks and 'procedures.'

Impeachment will make him a martyr to many; those lousy Democrats are trying to bust our Mel Gibson with a bunch of by-the-book technicalities, while he's out there tryin' to save lives!

Those Americans WANT to use our fear to allow ourselves to do evil, they WANT to sacrifice our own liberties in the name of a Great, Unknowable threat, and they have a President whose inability/unwillingness to rationally or morally consider his actions is actually, in their eyes, a Good Quality.

They'd rather have someone who does his meanest, quickest, dumbest things than someone who actually agonizes and cares about the difficult decisions he's forced to make as the President.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:15 AM on January 6, 2006



posted by quonsar at 8:20 AM on January 6, 2006


"It's hard work fighting terrorists! We have to do the hard work! He he he!"
posted by illiad at 8:23 AM on January 6, 2006


So what. He's done all that. But we're safer because of it.

I am also a complete fucking tool who doesn't believe any of what I say, but I'm trolling to try and get a rise out of some of you.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 8:28 AM on January 6, 2006


But we're safer because of it.

No we're not.

Your move. :)
posted by taumeson at 8:29 AM on January 6, 2006


Those Americans WANT to use our fear to allow ourselves to do evil

These are the same worms that were slithering around back in the days of McCarthyism. They eventually crawled back under their rocks then, and they will do so again. I'm not really concerned about the long term effects of this on our democracy as a whole. But maybe I'm just being naive.
posted by JeffK at 8:29 AM on January 6, 2006


Yep, The Republicans have hypnotized great tracts of this nation into rooting for them as if they were nothing but a sports team that has it's ups and downs and steroid using players who only do so because they want to win one for the Gipper (literally). Oh and they've also convinced them that the Democrats want to cut their dicks off and strap them on an aborted fetus of which they will be eventually be forced to marry and have sex with.
posted by any major dude at 8:30 AM on January 6, 2006


No we're not.

Your move. :)


I am totally flagging this post! As ANTI-AMERICAN!
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 8:30 AM on January 6, 2006


posted by StrasbourgSecaucus I'm trolling to try and get a rise out of some of you.

Please stop.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:31 AM on January 6, 2006


JeffK:
They eventually crawled back under their rocks then, and they will do so again. I'm not really concerned about the long term effects of this on our democracy as a whole.

But I think that's the opposite statement that this article is trying to make. It says "Hey, they're not going under their rocks. They're owning up to being worms, and the populace loves them. Eventaully, everybody's gonna act like worms".

Being that if we use the tools at our disposal as a populace, but nothing changes, then we're gonna basically justify this kind of behavior.
posted by taumeson at 8:34 AM on January 6, 2006


Asking nicely only makes it worse.
posted by StrasbourgSecaucus at 8:34 AM on January 6, 2006


A quote says it best: The danger is not abstract or merely symbolic. Bush's abuses of presidential power are the most extensive in American history.

For the life of me, I cannot understand how this is not readily apparent. The amount of willful ignorance in our citizens must be at an all time high, because whenever I raise this very statement folks always fall back on absolving him by proxy: "Oh, so and so did this corrupt thing when he was President... so what is your point now? You think this hasn't been going on forever? Blah blah blah, ad infinitum"

Yes, your intellectual prowess in the areas of conflation and excussion are just what the world needs more of right now. It's not like the country was founded on the principles of dissent and critical thought in times of misrepresentation and persecution. That would have been a socio-liberal-potsmoking-retardo-bortion fiasco right there!
posted by prostyle at 8:36 AM on January 6, 2006


Stras: Agreed. It's not that great.

It's my recent conclusion that:
People like to assume that bad/unpopular decisions = hard work/resolve. It gets them out of thinking.

OVERSHARING: When I was a teenager, my mother used to tell the families (specifically) of girls who were my age about a particularly embarrassing operation I had, with the later apology to me: "Well, Doug, they should KNOW about it, it's a condition that affects a lot of men." Funnily enough, it never got brought up to anyone except those families with teenage daughters, and they were always in the room at the time of discussion.

To her, since what she had done was difficult and painful and mortifying to me, it must've 'been one of those hard-but-fair decisions that parents have to make.'

I keep thinking about that, when I read headlines these past few years. I wonder if Bush and his followers are actively seeking out 'hard decisions' that are, because of detriment to the people, obviously GOOD for the people. When we whine and protest, he just pats himself on the back for dealing America more 'tough love.'
It would certainly explain Bush's unwillingness to obtain FISA warrants (because almost nothing else does).
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 8:37 AM on January 6, 2006


One has to wonder about someone who's advisor, Karl Rove, is an advocate of Machiavelli (“We should not be outraged by Machiavelli’s call for a temporary dictatorship as an effective means to either revivify or restore freedom.” (p. 174))

It seems all these people and their followers are interested in is endless spin and reacting to those who deride their lies. It's a never-ending spiral of lies and counter-lies and threats of reprisals against those who don't follow 'the party line'. Excommunicate those who would criticize subverting the ideals and intents of the nation as established by rules and laws. . .
posted by mk1gti at 8:44 AM on January 6, 2006


Impeachment will make him a martyr to many

Seems to me that those people will be few enough to be ignored, as they were not long after Nixon.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:45 AM on January 6, 2006


doug, what Bush and the Republicans are doing is using this fabricated war on terrorism to set up a structure that will allow them and their corporate benefactors to dominate for decades to come. The are killing every form of individual right and ceding it to the corporation. They don't care about the citizens of this country - only how far they can manipulate them in order to increase their power and wealth. This country is well on it's way back to an aristocracy where wealth and services will be contained within the priveleged classes.
posted by any major dude at 8:50 AM on January 6, 2006


I'm with any major dude above, but it goes beyond just corporations. It's also a habit of thought.

The sports analogy is not to be taken lightly. When you're watching a football game, the temptation is strong to judge the referees' calls on the sole criterion of whether they benefit your side or the other side. Did the ground cause the fumble, or was the ball on its way out already? Objectivity is for pussies.

So here. Just ask any Bush supporter whether his (usually his) perspective would be the same with, say, Hillary Clinton as president, and you'll see the politician-as-fan step forward.

In some cases fans see what they hope to see, and believe it to be objective. In others, such as the present situation, it is the correct call because it benefits Bush / the Republicans. Talking points, buzzwords, etc. are accurate because reality is defined prospectively by whether it advances your side or not. Ron Suskind's piece from Oct. 2004 is instructive on the matter. Democrats and moderate Republicans, along with a number of non-aligned parties, are still using argument; Bush's partisans, following the lead of Rush Limbaugh et al., are using polemic. Readiness to use polemic is the real failure in our educational system, prepared for us by decades of advertising political distortion, good guys vs. bad guys plots, etc.

This is not a uniquely Republican problem (a few on the left now are polemicists, but far outweighed by the right), but until moderate Republicans, along with conservative but principled (?) figures like McCain, deal with it internally I don't see Schell's call for impeachment going anywhere. Only when it becomes clear that Bush and the religious fanatics will take the party (as well as the country) down with them will the ground begin to shift. Right now a large majority of the country sees the Abramoff-Delay corruption in the framework of "they all do it."

We're in interesting times.
posted by palancik at 8:52 AM on January 6, 2006


5-6 years ago, I was seriously contemplating moving to America and going to university there and, hell, making a life for me there.

Now, I would not even consider it. It just doesn't feel... safe anymore. And trust me, it's not because of the terrorists that I feel hesitant to come to your country.

I don't know if this is true or not, but the perception from the outside makes America seem decidedly unwelcoming and frightening.

A country where people are actually debating if torture is acceptable, people are kept in prison without a fair trial, the government overtly spies on its citizens and is slowly and methodically removing the liberties of citizens is not the kind of place I want my children to grow up in.
What is most shocking of all this is that it is all done in broad daylight with no one really putting up a fight and that the powers that be seem to be completely above reprimand.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:53 AM on January 6, 2006


Impeachment will make him a martyr to many

Luckily (for those of us in the USA) not the kind of martyr that inspires vests filled with 15 pounds of HE and ball bearings set off in the scrum in front of a religious center. His disciples prefer their baby killing at a safe distance.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:53 AM on January 6, 2006


prostyle: "For the life of me, I cannot understand how this is not readily apparent. The amount of willful ignorance in our citizens must be at an all time high,..."

You may want to read yesterday's post on Derren Brown (the "psychological" magic entertainer.

I was a participant in that thread, but I'm not trying to toot my own horn. Just read the thread and look at how easily people, here on mefi, accept being manipulated.
posted by C.Batt at 8:55 AM on January 6, 2006


Hmmm. How long until FreedomParamus or dios enters to protest that it's unfair to characterize Bush's adminstration and policies as fascist?
posted by eustacescrubb at 8:56 AM on January 6, 2006


JeffK wrote:

These are the same worms that were slithering around back in the days of McCarthyism. They eventually crawled back under their rocks then, and they will do so again.

They never crawled back under, they just gathered strength. Reagan was born during the McCarthy hearings during his tenure as President of the Screen Actors guild. It turned him from a liberal Democrat into a paranoid corporate fascist. The Republicans never gained a foothold in the hearts of Americans because they never figured out how to disguise their intentions. Now they have.
posted by any major dude at 8:57 AM on January 6, 2006


prostyle: [...]whenever I raise this very statement folks always fall back on absolving him by proxy: "Oh, so and so did this corrupt thing when he was President... so what is your point now?

Yeah. that stinks. It's also known as Tu Quoque, and anyone with a basic grounding in critical thinking knows it for the fallacy that it is. Of course, the problem here is that a great many of the rabid Bush-apologists are decidedly anti-intellectual; it's probably why they like him so much. He's not smart, and neither are they, and they like the fact that a not-smart person can be President.
posted by illiad at 8:58 AM on January 6, 2006


major dude, I think that, on some level, the President himself sees many of his decisions as things that are good for the country. He doesn't actually think them through, research them, or care enough to weight the options...he may be led from place to place by individuals with short-term greed...but it looks like he really, seriously, believes this shit.

The man actually thinks he's going to spread democracy. The man actually thinks trickle-down economics work. The man actually thinks corporations create the best jobs.

I really feel like he still wants to just be the Kickass President that took down Saddam and killed terrorists and lowered taxes and made those liberal pansies so mad. I suppose what I was saying earlier is that when he makes his Tough, Mean Decisions, his supporters get just as excited as he does, and in their little pool of positivity, everyone gets a jolt of validation. When he does bad shit, he feels like a Good President, because he thinks we'll whine and whine now, but in a couple years, we'll go "Gee, I sure am glad we tortured all those people. Thanks, President Cowboy!"
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 9:01 AM on January 6, 2006


I've long felt that Fascism was at its heart an aristocratic response to democracy. A sort of "Foolish peasants, thinking THEY can rule themselves!" trickery by people who historically had ruled without question for centuries; they turn the mechanisms of democracy itself into a new form of oligarchy, one insidious because people think they've chosen it! Huzzah!

The older I get, the more absolutely sure I am that the only sensible thing to do in this life is get fuck-all rich, and then hide yourself away in a veritable fortress while stupid people skin each other alive. Stupidity and ignorance are diseases with no cure- don't be a martyr and think you can make the world a better place. No one ever appreciates you anyway, and even if you succeed, you'll just get killed. To paraphrase a great American poet: "MLK, blown away- no one ever shoots Ken Lay."
posted by hincandenza at 9:02 AM on January 6, 2006


slimepuppy

I know how you feel. A friend of mine (egyptian) was a big fan of Reagan when he came to the U.S. on a physician exchange program. After 9-11 happened and he was hassled by national guard troops at San Francisco airport he was turned firmly against republicans.
He still likes the U.S. and it's people, just not those who's minds are closed and as paranoid as this administration and it's followers are.
I've also got a lot of feedback from friends overseas now and it's not a good time to be an american in a foriegn country doing business anywhere.
Thank Bush and his followers for negatively impacting this nation's economy and foriegn trade for generations to come.
posted by mk1gti at 9:05 AM on January 6, 2006


Our biggest role in this might be post-2008: We need to turn Bush into McCarthy, or worse. We need to make sure that fifty years from now, when someone says "I dunno, Bush had some good ideas," they're going to immediately lose credibility.

If we can create an identity for this administration that's easily explainable and memorable and sinister, as time passes, unfavorable comparisons to Bush might become a tool for steering politicions away from this sort of behavior.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 9:08 AM on January 6, 2006


Gee, another MeFi thread serving as a forum for people to complain about Bush. How original.
posted by gyc at 9:08 AM on January 6, 2006


Gee, another MeFi thread serving as a forum for people to complain about Bush. How original.

Heck, I thought it was a bait line to attract sanctimonious Bush apologists. :)
posted by illiad at 9:10 AM on January 6, 2006


Here's some watchwords that are relevant comparisons: Machiavelli, Mao, Stalin, dare I say it: *Hitler*, reversion to the middle ages, religious hysteria, fascism, corporatism, McCarthyism, subversion of freedom, democracy and the constiution on not just a lie, but constant lies and deception, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum. Blind obedience without question. . .
posted by mk1gti at 9:13 AM on January 6, 2006


Gee, another MeFi thread serving as a forum for people to complain about Bush. How original.

Well here's an original idea then.... don't bother reading the thread! There's plenty of Bushwank material out there on teh interwab if that's what lights your candle.
posted by twistedonion at 9:22 AM on January 6, 2006


doug wrote:

The man actually thinks he's going to spread democracy. The man actually thinks trickle-down economics work. The man actually thinks corporations create the best jobs.

You are correct, the man believes his own bullshit and the people can sense it. Like Reagan, he's not much of a thinker, he's more of a true believer who sees things in black and white. A thinker would weigh the cost/benefit that would take place in a pursuit of a cause - no matter how noble and would alter or abandon accordingly. Reagan needlessly increased defense spending at the expense of research that could have possibly solved some of the problems our country (world) is facing today. We'd be assured of energy independence by now if the trillions that have been spend on defense in the past couple of decade were spend trying to create an alternative form of energy - not to mention the incredible amount of jobs that would have been created.
posted by any major dude at 9:26 AM on January 6, 2006


I am officially a masochist. I only looked for dios' comment.
posted by AspectRatio at 9:26 AM on January 6, 2006


mk1gti, stop it. He's a bullshit artist who capitalizes on mayhem that he inevitably creates. By holding him in such reverence, we make him a Keyser Soze.
posted by rzklkng at 9:31 AM on January 6, 2006


So I haven't been following the news much lately. Last I checked, everyone loved Bush. What happened?
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:34 AM on January 6, 2006


mk1gti, stop it. He's a bullshit artist who capitalizes on mayhem that he inevitably creates.
------------------------------

I think that's what I was trying to say . . .
posted by mk1gti at 9:36 AM on January 6, 2006


Last I checked, everyone loved Bush. What happened?
-------------------------
37% approval ratings is what happened . . . .
posted by mk1gti at 9:36 AM on January 6, 2006


...and Katrina, and the mess in Iraq, and the clueless and delusional public appearances and statements, and the corruption, and Plame and Libby, etc, and the economy, and the tax and benefit cuts, and the fearmongering...
posted by amberglow at 9:53 AM on January 6, 2006


Why, it's a neverending 'shame spiral' for them these days. But his followers still seem to insist that turd in the punchbowl is a tasty treat. . .
posted by mk1gti at 9:56 AM on January 6, 2006


oh, and their massive and overwhelming incompetence.
posted by amberglow at 9:57 AM on January 6, 2006


Last I checked, everyone loved Bush. What happened?

The media turned on the administration when other reporters actually started going to jail over Plame. Whereas before, the media largely rubberstamped or even venerated administration spin, they began to ask semi-tough questions and didn't take spin for an answer.

With Rove concerned about getting indicted as a traitor, the administration responded incredibly poorly to Sheehan and turned something that should have been a blip on the media map into an extended debacle that called into question the war and our continuing presence in Iraq.

Then Katrina hit and the administration was caught flat-footed. Reporters faced with the devastation finally dropped the mask of objectivity and started asking genuinely difficult questions and held the response up to public scrutiny.

Then indictments actually came down for a high ranking member of the administration.

The tide seems to be turning in the administrations favor at least for now. I think polls may be trending slightly upward, but the whole bribery scandal could rock all of Washington, and I'm not sure that the whole Plame thing is done yet.

Plus, you're reading comments on a web site that has traditionally had a great deal of enmity for this administration.
posted by willnot at 9:57 AM on January 6, 2006


willnot
Nice summation there.

re website enmity, I really think it's a case of reaction from the real voice of 'murica vs. a loud ammoral minority.

I'm jus' sayin' . . .
posted by mk1gti at 10:01 AM on January 6, 2006


Excerpts from the Declaration of Independence:
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
...
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
...
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
...
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
...
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:07 AM on January 6, 2006 [4 favorites]


kirkaracha

Daaaaaaaaammmmmmnnnnnnn. . . . .

Time for me to get out there and start plastering the Declaration of Independence on lamp posts . . .
posted by mk1gti at 10:12 AM on January 6, 2006



“The danger is not abstract or merely symbolic. Bush's abuses of presidential power are the most extensive in American history. “

No, they are not. "Abuses" is a loaded word. And it’s totally abused here by Jonathan Schell who’s pretending to be some kind of authority on the subject. Who made him the authority on what the president does and doesn’t do is wrong?

“He has launched an aggressive war ("war of choice," in today's euphemism) on false grounds.”

I’m sorry, that’s not true. You lose.

“He has presided over a system of torture and sought to legitimize it by specious definitions of the word.”

Um....no, he didn’t.


“He has asserted a wholesale right to lock up American citizens and others indefinitely without any legal showing or the right to see a lawyer or anyone else.”

He gave good reasons for that. So there.

“He has kidnapped people in foreign countries and sent them to other countries,”

Those people weren’t Americans. So the entire facade of your “most extensive abuses of presidential power in AMERICAN History” argument collapses there. Burn on you.

“where they were tortured.”

They were merely stressed. Not tortured. Define torture. You have no data. These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. They would torture us if they got the chance. Torture is necessary against terrorists. It’s the only language they understand. It’s all torture now. Except that it’s not really torture anyway. Just stress. I win.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:14 AM on January 6, 2006


I totally back StrasbourgSecaucus on this btw.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:16 AM on January 6, 2006


“He has presided over a system of torture and sought to legitimize it by specious definitions of the word.”

Um....no, he didn’t.


Woo! Now that's some factual debate power!

I eagerly await the coming Tu quoque!
posted by illiad at 10:24 AM on January 6, 2006


kirkarcha... why you bringin' up old stuff? You know this president don't read nuthin'! Shyooot thems are just WORDS man WORDS. And Bush is a man of ACTION. STAY THE COURSE!

Semdleyman... thanks for posting in lieu of dios. Phew.
posted by AspectRatio at 10:24 AM on January 6, 2006


kirkarcha... btw you have my vote for Best Post Ever.
posted by AspectRatio at 10:26 AM on January 6, 2006


“...We're in interesting times.”
- posted by palancik

Well said, palancik. No small wonder that “May you live in interesting times” is a Chinese curse.

What does concern me is: how will the encroaching powers be rolled back? If we get an all-dem congress & president, I don’t know that they - to be fair anyone (considering Lord Acton’s quote) would relinquish the reins. I very much suspect only the cheerleaders will change while the game remains the same.

...That’s given that the current administration will leggo the whip.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:27 AM on January 6, 2006


I want to hear more about dougunderscorenelso's embarrassing operation, though I cannot certify that no girls his age or their families are present.
posted by fleetmouse at 10:28 AM on January 6, 2006


If we get an all-dem congress & president, I don’t know that they - to be fair anyone (considering Lord Acton’s quote) would relinquish the reins.

No argument there. Different stripes, same animal.

How does the electorate force their representative body to do the right thing? You'd think not getting votes would be enough, but that rarely seems to faze a political lifer. They just work on getting elected the next round, and do what they want to do once they're back behind the mahogany desk.
posted by illiad at 10:30 AM on January 6, 2006


Nicely done, Smed: Refutation by nyuh-uh.
posted by squirrel at 10:33 AM on January 6, 2006


“He has asserted a wholesale right to lock up American citizens”

This doesn’t mitigate that, but Padilla was transferred Thursday from military to civilian custody and made his first court appearance as a criminal defendant. He is scheduled to enter a plea today.
So, some good news I guess.
posted by Smedleyman at 10:33 AM on January 6, 2006


I think kirkarcha should move that post to the front page. Whether you agree with it or not, more research and thought went into it than 90% of the FPPs we see these days.
posted by googly at 10:35 AM on January 6, 2006


mk1gti:
re website enmity, I really think it's a case of reaction from the real voice of 'murica vs. a loud ammoral minority.

but which side of the debate is the ammoral minority, and which is the real voice of america?
posted by taumeson at 10:35 AM on January 6, 2006


Any side that has Pat Robertson as a member is probably amoral.
posted by illiad at 10:40 AM on January 6, 2006


but which side of the debate is the ammoral minority, and which is the real voice of america?
----------------------------------------

well, I would say 37% approval indicates that 63% say 'bad bush, no biscuit' would be the 'moral majority' rather than the barking busheviks . . .
posted by mk1gti at 10:49 AM on January 6, 2006


googly is right... would kirkarcha get hit by the dupe demons for moving that to a fpp?
posted by AspectRatio at 10:58 AM on January 6, 2006


That 37% approval would also seem to indicate that Smedleyman, StrasbourgSecaucus, dios and ParisParamus, etc. certainly do not 'speak for america or americans' when they accuse others of treason, etc. on the blue. In fact they are an isolated minority and most likely have been for quite some time.
posted by mk1gti at 11:00 AM on January 6, 2006


uhh...mk1gti, you do realize smeds and ess double are just jivin', right?
posted by lord_wolf at 11:08 AM on January 6, 2006


uhhhhhh, no . . . Oooooopsie . . . .
posted by mk1gti at 11:09 AM on January 6, 2006


If a movie gets 1 to 2 stars out 5, most people would agree. Bush stinks and I am bewildered that it isn't as obvious to just about everyone.
posted by GeorgeHernandez at 11:39 AM on January 6, 2006


As it hunted down tax scofflaws, the Internal Revenue Service collected information on the political party affiliations of taxpayers in 20 states. I am sure there is nothing to worry about here.
posted by caddis at 11:44 AM on January 6, 2006


Just a brief note (un-lurking again), but regarding the possibility of the Bush administration being fascist or whatnot (I personally don't think the administration is fascist, but I'm open to the possibility and to labeling certain actions of theirs fascistic), I just want to point out that every fascism emerges from within libera democracy, not in opposition to it. There's a bit of the aristocracy thrown in there, to be sure, as the powers awarded fascist governments are usually powers deemed necessary by property-holding elites, but the fundamental rhetorical tenor of fascism is one of populism (a term I'm using in a very broad sense here) and, concomitantly, identification. Of course, scape-goating is the flipside of the coin for all identificatory rhetorics (the standard in-group is only defined by the existence of the out-group line), and so a certain emphasis is being placed on the constitution of an enemy that exists outside the liberal democratic order in order to justify concession to what is clearly an enemy from within the liberal democratic order.

There's a number of useful academic readings for these "interesting times;" for a bit of history, I'd recommend Carl Schmitt's Political Theology and Giorgio Agamben's State of Exception, but for more recent and topic-appropriate scholarship, let me recommend Bob Ivie's Democracy and America's War on Terror [Amazon link]. It's an expensive book, but it's brilliant, and it hasn't gotten the play it deserves. I can post excerpts from it later in the comment thread if you're interested.

Anyway, one thing to recognize is that fascism has a somewhat checkered heuristic history as a term in that after WWII, when the West was aligning itself against the Soviet states, fascism was intentionally conflated with totalitarian/authoritarian rule, as a way of taking the massive ill-will felt towards Hitler and Mussolini and transferring it to the Soviet leadership. Unfortunately, we now have an odd belief that juridical abuses of power are inherently fascist, rather than "merely" authoritarian, which is wrong. Fascism is evidenced more by the popular zone of legal undecidability that arises in response to either a crisis of liberal democracy, or rather the juridical circumvention of that democracy by the powers that be. So long story short, the confusion over the constitutionality/extra-constitutionality/non-constitutionality of Bush's action is much more indicative of an incipient fascism than is the authoritarian action itself.

Why is this the case? Because Bush's defense of, say, the wiretapping, is that a) it's justified by the constitutional authority granted to the commander-in-chief in order to defend the people/state, and b) that it's necessary. These, of course, are one and the same argument, since the legal argument is predicated upon a demonstration that the otherwise illegal action is necessitated by threats to the safety of the people/state. Thus the executive claims the authority to suspend the law but does so from within the authoritative structure of the law itself. In effect then, the only arbiter of the rule of law is the executive (which isn't merely the President, btw), who has the agency by which to determine the legality and/or suspension of the law, and yet always does so from a position that retains inherent legality. In effect then, the executive becomes coterminous with the law, both its "rule" and its "force" (see Walter Benjamin's essay on violence for the distinction), and almost invariably, certain corallaries follow, including the legal defense of enemy combatants as being bodies to whom the law does not attach, or more properly, to which the force of law applies independently of the rule of law (since the rule of law is bound to concepts like jurisdiction, which are at least as negotiated since the 17th century, predicated on geography). But again, these actions would be merely dictatorial, and not fascist, if they operated outside the law, or operated without the presence of populist mobilization.*

*A preemptive footnote: mobilization need not be total - Hitler never won majority support of the population, for example.
posted by hank_14 at 11:45 AM on January 6, 2006


hank_14

Wordy, but very good food for thought. Another good book is Reaganism & the Death of Representative Democracy
posted by mk1gti at 12:04 PM on January 6, 2006


Image hosted by Photobucket.com
posted by isopraxis at 12:26 PM on January 6, 2006


(five to ten years from now) "Yeah, I remember when we used to have the thin vestiges of representative democracy remaining. Before they unleashed the dogs on us. . . "
posted by mk1gti at 12:37 PM on January 6, 2006


That was an outstanding post, kirkarcha.

Hesitant to add to it (but imitation/sincere/flattery)I’d like to add:

...when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government...

I think the “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists” is more indicative of the overall object of this administration and the general neocon agenda as opposed to the oft-misquoted (apparently by Chomsky) “straight power concepts” line from George Kennan (who was mostly talking about Asia and how the U.S. objective shouldn’t be some Willy Lomanesque objective of being well liked).

The Kennan quote is generally used to prop up this world domination agenda straw man.
There is no need for it.What is truly damning is that the Attila the Hun “with me or against me” pre-emptive attack attitude is apparently being applied within the United States as well.
(Not that it’s external application is all that wonderful of course. More of a nuanced argument, however)

As to whether this is fascism or not....nuances there as well. Ultimately though, who cares what kind of animal it is if we agree it’s sunk it’s teeth in your ass?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:40 PM on January 6, 2006


I always find the need to ask: What is it going to take to admit this administration is fascist? Unfortunately people always hear "What is totalitarianism?" and spout standard answers like: "People disappearing, military rule, dissolution of congress, etc."

And what's scary is that slowly these kinds of things are happening. Nobody can give me "a government spying on its people" or "american citizens held without trial" because those red herrings have actually happened.
posted by taumeson at 12:46 PM on January 6, 2006


I think what they are banking on here is the same thing as placing a frog in a pot and slowly bringing it to a boil. Do it slowly and the frog boils to death. Do it too quickly and the frog hops out.
Soft fascism (or whatever ism one would like to use) before gradually increasing the heat. That's my guess anyway.
posted by mk1gti at 12:49 PM on January 6, 2006


Why would a free society ever willingly slide into totalitarianism? escape from freedom(amazon link)

I think this book spelled it out 50 years ago, almost to the T.

We can't handle the truth.
posted by isopraxis at 1:03 PM on January 6, 2006


Here's something I don't get. Bush claims that he is able to ignore the Constitution ("It's just a goddamn piece of paper!!") as a result of wartime powers. We are not at war!!!!!!! America has not (legally) been at war since the end of WWII. Congress never declared war on Iraq (or, for that matter on Korea or Vietnam, let alone the dozens of smaller wars we've fought since then).

How can the President use his powers as commander-in-chief to direct the military in a war of aggression (remember, Iraq has never once attacked the US) if we are not at war? Does the Constitution allow for a sitting president to decide "Hmm... I think I'll invade Canada today..."?
posted by krash2fast at 1:10 PM on January 6, 2006


short form: humans pine for their left-behind herd instinct ?
posted by mk1gti at 1:12 PM on January 6, 2006


krash2fest, if you google it, you'll see that while that argument is kind of true, it turns out that congress has stated previously that an authorization of force resolution has the same legal effect as declaring a state of war, even if it doesn't attach the particular monikor. That's why you don't see Democrats making that particular claim, and I think Biden has made that explicit in past interviews.
posted by hank_14 at 1:16 PM on January 6, 2006


I wonder who first made it explicit.
posted by Kwantsar at 1:28 PM on January 6, 2006


> (infamous Nation author) Jonathan Schell
He's infamous now? Whose ox did he gore to achieve that?
posted by hank at 1:32 PM on January 6, 2006


hincandenza: I've long felt that Fascism was at its heart an aristocratic response to democracy.

Wow, that was quite an illuminating comment hincandenza. Makes perfect sense to me in so many ways.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:43 PM on January 6, 2006


taumeson:
I always find the need to ask: What is it going to take to admit this administration is fascist?

When it looks like the hilariously overwrought "fascism" as seen in countless television and movies.

People expect "fascism" to blare out "LOOK WE'RE EVIL MUAHAHAHA!!!", complete with marching ranks of drab jack-booted thugs systematically kicking down doors in broad daylight, burning huge piles of books, hanging dissidents in public, stealing candy from babies and all other sorts of exciting cinematic nonsense. No one wants to believe that fascism is equally capable of bearing a friendly smile, a firm handshake, and lofty appeals to the values of family and good old-fashioned honest hard work. Especially when there's still plenty of food eat.

Hell will freeze over before any modern-day Western government bungles its PR to the point of getting universally labeled "fascist", regardless of what it actually is.
posted by PsychoKick at 1:48 PM on January 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Perhaps we should send the administration mao suits for christmas? Condi would look *hot* in her own slim-to-fit outfit I'll bet . . .
posted by mk1gti at 1:57 PM on January 6, 2006


But Mao Tse Tung didn't advocate fascism. Maybe what we should send Condi, Dick, Rummy et. al. are some of those stylish armbands.
posted by illiad at 2:12 PM on January 6, 2006


Well, they'll need matching outfits to go with the armbands, otherwise it would seem to subtle. We need something that stands out and screams 'Hi, I'm a fascist and I'm here to take over your country!' Perhaps in flourescent safety orange? It seems like the media and the public needs something that obvious to kind of smack'em upside the head these days . . . Maybe little devil horns on the hats?
posted by mk1gti at 2:19 PM on January 6, 2006


This is a bit off-topic, but the 'slowly boiling a frog' story is a myth.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:51 PM on January 6, 2006


“you do realize smeds and ess double are just jivin', right?” - posted by lord_wolf



I. am. completely. serious.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:29 PM on January 6, 2006


Hmmm...the Steve Forbes stare worked on preview.... not really funny without it.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:30 PM on January 6, 2006


Is there an American equivalent to Hugo Boss?
posted by PurplePorpoise at 3:30 PM on January 6, 2006


Well, they'll need matching outfits to go with the armbands, otherwise it would seem to subtle. We need something that stands out and screams 'Hi, I'm a fascist and I'm here to take over your country!' Perhaps in flourescent safety orange? It seems like the media and the public needs something that obvious to kind of smack'em upside the head these days . . . Maybe little devil horns on the hats?

Maybe something in a brownshirt, perhaps? and double lightning bolts on the armband?
posted by amberglow at 3:36 PM on January 6, 2006


Gotta have the Jackboots and Jodhpurs. The Deaths head was pretty effective as well . . . Und ihr kleiner hund auch!

I could see Cheney & Rummy wearing all of these quite comfortably, but George looks awkward in any uniform other than McDonalds'.
posted by isopraxis at 4:22 PM on January 6, 2006


Maybe something in a brownshirt, perhaps? and double lightning bolts on the armband?
-------------------------------------------

No, no, too intimidating, they need to make it look harmless and inviting, I imagine dick cheney dressed in a mickey mouse costume with ears, kind of like a wolf in sheep's clothing.
posted by mk1gti at 4:35 PM on January 6, 2006


“Gee, another MeFi thread serving as a forum for people to complain about Bush. How original.” - posted by gyc

Y’know, I’d almost second that if that was at all what was being talked about.

palancik’s sports analogy seems pretty dead on. I bitched about a few things Reagan did and got attaboys from the Dems, FU’s from the Repubs. I bitched about a few things Bush did - more of the same. I really bitched about things going on under Clinton and suddenly I was a hero to my Republican buddys and my Dem pals were on my case. I’m now bitching about the SAME KINDS OF SHIT being pulled by Bush the Lesser and it’s the same bullshit.

I know my convictions haven’t changed. But at the very least I have the balls to put in an argument for them rather than mewl like a pansy and run.

Got something to say? Put it up. I’m willing to entertain the idea that my information could be wrong.
Bits here that I disagree with (as I said - nuances), but I think the idea about the general trend is dead on.

Or would you buy this whole bill of goods if it were Hillary (God forbid!*) Clinton’s administration making these goofy end runs?

But otherwise - testicules, testicules, toujours testicules (to paraphrase l'audacieux French proverb and Pattons fav’rit saying.)


*No, seriously, she and Coulter are probably the only two women I wouldn’t vote for just to change it up from the rich white guy streak.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:43 PM on January 6, 2006


Speaking of jodhpurs, there's a funny scene in Billy Wilder's excellent Stalag 17 where Otto Preminger, the camp commandant, has a phone call from Berlin. He's in jodhpurs with no shoes on (which looks pretty odd) and has his adjutant put his riding boots on so he can click his heels as he's jawohling the general on the phone.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:58 PM on January 6, 2006


hincandenza:I've long felt that Fascism was at its heart an aristocratic response to democracy.
stinkycheese: Wow, that was quite an illuminating comment hincandenza. Makes perfect sense to me in so many ways.
I'm pretty sure you're mocking me, but I was serious. In a post-democracy world, the only way to undermine the ingrained sense of "democracy is good" in a relatively free people is to pervert it into something entirely anti-democratic, but that in a "cargo cult" way looks like it might be democratic. Fascism uses the populism of democracy, but with the beating heart of aristocratic privilege underneath: the cult of personality that suggests the Dear Leader is ordained-by-God and destined to lead is not unlike the belief that the King is King because God so wills it. Thus, an elite few can regain the power they once had, with people paying homage to their power all while thinking they are "free" of tyranny.
posted by hincandenza at 5:26 PM on January 6, 2006


I am not mocking you hincandenza and I say that was a very succint thought. Well put. (I'm thinking stinkycheese actually intended it as a compliment too)
posted by nofundy at 6:06 PM on January 6, 2006


hincandenza, I agree with you as well with one small but important change - under fascism it's the corporation endows the leader with infallibility who inturn does everything in his power to make sure that the corporation flourishes in a deregulated free marketplace. It's a symbiotic relationship that keeps wealth and power in the hands of the aristocracy. The biggest mistake anyone in this country makes is that capitalism has anything to do with democracy. That's just bullshit that the capitalists have been brainwashing Americans with since the dawn of the industrial age.
posted by any major dude at 6:26 PM on January 6, 2006


Gee, another MeFi thread serving as a forum for people to complain about Bush. How original.

Yah.

I mean, it's not like there's anything to complain about, right? Everything is just going peachy-keen down there in America, right? Civil liberties are being upheld, the elections are honest and fair, no one is afraid of the police state, the country is growing in wealth, and kittens are as cute as ever.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:45 PM on January 6, 2006


I guess the thing that everyone (or perhaps most) should thing about with all the 'ism's is that with Stalinism, Maoism, Communism, capitalism, Democratism, liberalism and Republicanism is that they claim that 'have faith in us and everyone succeeds' is what everyone should strive for, but in the end only those pushing those beliefs succeed. The days of the common person succeeding based on their own merits are destroyed by allowing the elites to claim all while crippling those below.

If all of them meant what they said, education, health care, personal accommodations, sustenance would not be an issue. Everyone would have the opportunity to have access to whatever health care they needed, education they needed, housing and food that they needed, etc. By doing so those who were really ‘the best and the brightest’ would rise to the top and enrich us all. Instead, with all of those ‘isms everyone suffers except the privileged and the rich. More so now than ever. As some examples of those who succeeded in the past based on their merits I give you Freeman Dyson and Richard Feynman, just two physicists, but the types of personality that are feared and derided today. Of those who crippled the advancement of civilization I give you Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, (yes, Clinton) and now Bush II along with their apologists and accomplices.

This of course does not include all, but think of this: How afraid are any of you of Sweden, Norway, Finland or Ireland?
posted by mk1gti at 6:46 PM on January 6, 2006


I think what they are banking on here is the same thing as placing a frog in a pot and slowly bringing it to a boil. Do it slowly and the frog boils to death. Do it too quickly and the frog hops out.
Soft fascism (or whatever ism one would like to use) before gradually increasing the heat. That's my guess anyway.


mk1gti, you just summed up the entire problem here in four sentences. Well done.

By the time things have changed so much, and we've lost so many of our civil rights that even the current Bush supporters have taken notice and quirked an eyebrow, it may well be too late. There are plenty of angry and dissatisfied people out there, but not enough, and no one is really doing anything about it but putting bumper stickers on their cars.

Revolt tomorrow!
posted by Meredith at 6:54 PM on January 6, 2006


Thanks Meredith, another thing I've noticed (not that I'm deriding any sports fans out there) is that there seems to be more emphasis on being loyal to one's local sports team than being loyal to one's country of birth. Coincidence or deliberate design? You decide. I was walking through the bus stop the other day and I saw a guy (blue collar) walking across the street that was dressed in a Pittsburgh Steelers ball cap and jacket. I don't think it's about one's football (or other sports team) as about one's country and what that country really represents (not the actions it's committed in spite of what was originally promised or suggested).
In the United States the message has been drummed into everyone within the country and across the world that the U.S. was to represent freedom and opportunity and a safe place to recoup and restrengthen oneself against the oppressive hoards, whoever they might be. Now the U.S. *is* the ultimate oppressive hoard, armed with the most powerful weapons and the most shallow values.
posted by mk1gti at 7:26 PM on January 6, 2006


Continuing above, now the U.S. is divided across not just class lines, but across regional lines (the south is a bunch of ignorant rednecks, the northeast is a bunch of elite liberals, the west coast is a bunch of tree-hugging hippies or hollywood elitists, the central U.S. is a bunch of ignorant rednecks).

One has to wonder, who the hell thinks these things up to isolate such a large country against it's own people?
posted by mk1gti at 7:32 PM on January 6, 2006


Continuing above, now the U.S. is divided across not just class lines, but across regional lines (the south is a bunch of ignorant rednecks, the northeast is a bunch of elite liberals, the west coast is a bunch of tree-hugging hippies or hollywood elitists, the central U.S. is a bunch of ignorant rednecks).


Having lived all over the south, the northeast, and in the midwest (as well as three other countries), I can pretty confidently say this has always been the case. Though perhaps more pronounced now.
posted by Meredith at 7:39 PM on January 6, 2006


I've lived on the east coast, west coast, visited the midwest and lived there for a time, as well as the south in Virginia and am well aware of the 'differences' among those from the different regions of the U.S., my concern is that 'higher powers' are aware of these differences as well and have chosen to use them to isolate us all.

The only defense is for all of us, regardless of ideological stripe, to realize this and to unite against a common enemy, those who would disempower us all for the benefit of a privileged few. Interpret that as you may.
posted by mk1gti at 8:43 PM on January 6, 2006


I think I misinterpreted your statement, then. Apologies.

In any case, the obvious question is how to go about combating such a force who has already declared itself above the law.
posted by Meredith at 8:53 PM on January 6, 2006


no meredith, nothing misinterpreted at all.

I think the first thing we can do to combat such a force is just to become more aware and share that awareness with others and hope that at some point they are able to incorporate that within themselves and grow from there and spread it to more and more. I guess that's how movements start, and I think that is happening in this country, as well as other countries across the world. Perhaps we're witnessing the birth of another level of awareness, and advancement and progression of evolution instead of regression.

Again, hope there was no hostility felt there on my part.
posted by mk1gti at 9:04 PM on January 6, 2006


Nope- no hostility perceived, I just thought somehow you had missed all the "southerners are dumb hicks" and "yankees are obnoxious sock-and-sandal wearing loudmouth liberals" etc etc et al that was around before the current political administration. ;)

As far as combating the problem with awareness, I think we're actually pretty well far along that path at this point. Nowhere near where I think we ought to be, mind you, but we're getting there. But what we do when everyone is aware of the problem, the next step, that's what concerns me. I get so frustrated and angry, not just because of what's happening, but because I feel so damn helpless and unable to do anything about it. The root of the problem lies with their gaining control, power, and the immense wealth and spread to back it up. If everyone spots the problem before we all boil, that's great- but all we might have is sheer numbers. People like you and me (pardon the assumption that you are just a regular, working person like myself, but I'm guessing it's safe to assume you're not a millionaire senator here), what we actually DO about this in the here and now, and later- that's what worries me.

I realize this post sounds a little far-fetched and doomsday prophesizing, as if in 3 years Bush will declare himself King and refuse to leave office and we might have a full on dictatorship on our hands- and I'm not even nearly convinced that is the case. Quite likely by 2008, people will have had enough, and we'll have a more sensible, less power-hungry administration in place and the balance will shift back more towards a more peaceful and fair government. I think this is likely. But I thought that for 2004, as well. And at the rate Bush Inc. is going, I wouldn't entirely dismiss a worst-case scenario, and that's what concerns me.
posted by Meredith at 9:26 PM on January 6, 2006


I concur meredith, I've been pretty overwrought about this whole thing for much of my adult life (since Reagan got into power shortly after my teens).
I guess now I've come to realize that it's just something that's going to take time, perhaps even a human lifetime to resolve. I was hoping that it might be fixed in enough time for me to go back to school so I didn't have to live this hand to mouth existence I live now, but I guess it's just not meant to be.
So instead I guess I will laugh a little, make fun of the monsters under the bed and try to live life to the fullest in spite of those who live life with a paranoid death wish for all.
Instead I'll wake up tomorrow, look out the window and think of a bright and wonderful day, no matter what the weather may look like. Just think of the possibilities and of what may come. A world where united we stand and no longer divided we'll fall.
posted by mk1gti at 9:48 PM on January 6, 2006


I think both of you overlook the fact that this has been going on for a century or so. Robber barons are nothing new to the USA, and they're not ashamed about using the government's armies as a corporate tool, vis a vis clearing Indians from the path of commerce, the creation of "bananna republics," etceteras.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:42 PM on January 6, 2006


Which is to say, the USA is at least three generations into this. Good luck getting out of it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:42 PM on January 6, 2006


I've noticed (not that I'm deriding any sports fans out there) is that there seems to be more emphasis on being loyal to one's local sports team than being loyal to one's country of birth.

Bread and circuses my friend, bread and circuses.

The only defense is for all of us, regardless of ideological stripe, to realize this and to unite against a common enemy, those who would disempower us all for the benefit of a privileged few.

Preach it brother. (I'm not hopeful, however)
posted by nofundy at 7:15 AM on January 7, 2006


five fresh fish
I'm not trying to overlook it, just I guess illustrate what might have been, could have been, may someday be.
posted by mk1gti at 9:23 AM on January 7, 2006


hincandenza: I was aware after posting that my comment may have come off as sarcastic, but it was in fact sincere. I find fascism morbidly fascinating and have reading about it since I was a kid - your one brief comment there cut through a lot of the specifics of different historical movements, and I think it really applies across the board. In other words, you nailed it.

/no sarcasm
posted by stinkycheese at 11:01 AM on January 7, 2006


When they came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out.
posted by Talez at 9:02 AM on January 8, 2006


Wash. Times: ...Wiretaps fail to make dent in terror war; al Qaeda used messengers: The Bush administration's surveillance policy has failed to make a dent in the war against al Qaeda

U.S. law enforcement sources said that more than four years of surveillance by the National Security Agency has failed to capture any high-level al Qaeda operative in the United States. They said al Qaeda insurgents have long stopped using the phones and even computers to relay messages. Instead, they employ couriers. ...
posted by amberglow at 9:51 PM on January 8, 2006


“you do realize smeds and ess double are just jivin', right?” - posted by lord_wolf



I. am. completely. serious.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:29 PM PST on January 6 [!]
posted by taumeson at 7:50 AM on January 9, 2006


when people ask me if i'm a liberal or conservative, i always tell them i'm an anti-feudalist.

that's why i dislike fascism so much. it really is the next step for the aristocracy to take now that democracy is all the rage. with enough PR, you can do what you want, period.

celebrities literally get away with murder.

politicians get away with theft.

if we only had people we could trust...but do they exist anymore? and if they do, why aren't they in government?

-- excepting russ feingold, of course.
posted by taumeson at 7:53 AM on January 9, 2006


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