Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Change in Pentagon Strategy

For those who were worried that the Pentagon would not be changing its strategy in Iraq any time soon, don't be so worried. Donald Rumsfeld has decided that the current strategy isn't working and is instituting a change.

What change? More troops on the ground? A timetable for withdrawal? Increasing the training of the Iraqi army? Getting rid of the Green Zone in Baghdad? -- Well, no, no,no and no. Instead the SecDef has decided to stop calling the insurgents, "insurgents".

After having an "epiphany," Rumsfeld has decided to call them terrorists, because insurgents gives them too much credibility.

Don't those of you thought that the Bush Administration's policy on Iraq was unflexible feel better now?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

One Can Only Imagine the Reaction

Apparently FOX News is refusing to run some anti-Alito ads, claiming they are factually inaccurate.

Now, FOX can sell ads, or not, to whomever they like. But what do you think the reaction of my friends on the right side of the spectrum would be if CNN refused to air pro-Alito ads. (Given the silliness of today's Drudge item regarding an X on the television screen while the VP was speaking, the mind boggles.)

How Long is Fall Again?

The GOP must be wondering if winter will ever arrive, since this fall has been a disaster for them. And now they can add the fact that a former DeLay Press Secretary, and partner of Jack Abramoff, Michael Scanlon, has pled guilty to trying to bribe a Congressman and has agreed to testify against others, including most probably Rep. Robert Ney (R-OH).

According to the Washington Post:

Investigators are looking at half a dozen members of Congress, current and former senior Hill aides, a former deputy secretary of the interior, and Abramoff's former lobbying colleagues


It is safe to guess that most, if not all, of these targets are Republicans.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Wishful Thinking?

It is hard to tell if this post from the Hotline on Call is prescient, or wishful thinking, but it says that some close to DeLay think that the judge may throw out the charges against him tomorrow.

My guess would be wishful thinking, or more likely throwing up more of a smokescreen that leaves everyone, including the public, uncertain of what is really going on. That said, I am sure that there are many GOP House members who would like to see someone who can control the caucus again.

Friday, November 18, 2005

And BTW

This,
The fiery, emotional debate climaxed when Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, the most
junior member of the House, told of a phone call she received from a Marine
colonel. "He asked me to send Congress a message - stay the course. He also
asked me to send Congressman Murtha a message - that cowards cut and run,
Marines never do," Schmidt said.

is pathetic. The a good portion of the "Bush pushback" seems to be that Democrats are betraying the troops. That was a good argument a year or two ago, but now the public is asking questions about why we are there and when we are going to get out. This is not the answer to either.

(And also, GOP leadership, don't send your most junior member (about a month or so in office) to make these types of speeches. Have the balls to send out the senior members to attack a fellow Congressman, who served in the Marines when almost all of you were hiding behind deferments. Like I said, pathetic, and desperate.)

Deposition H*ll

Been in depositions a good part of the week, so few posts. But it has given me the chance to do some longer term thinking regarding the "Bush pushback" on the Iraq war.

The short version is that it misses the fundamentals that the American people seem to have turned against the war, and I think that just asserting that Democrats supported the war three years ago too is simply going to fail, it lacks a compelling reason for the public to re-change their mind on the war. I'll try to get more complex thoughts on this down later.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

If It Is Good Enough For Big Tobacco . .

That is surely what the CEOs of the big energy companies (Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips) were thinking when they told Congress that their companies did not participate in Vice President Cheney's energy task force in 2001.

Well, that seems not exactly to have been true, according to the Washington Post. Of course, lying to Congress is a felony, which Sen. Frank Lautenberg has pointed out to the Justice Department. (Apparently they can avoid perjury charges because the chairman of the committee, Sen. Ted Stevens, did not order them sworn in.)

Tre amusing.

Do You Have to Lie to Become a Supreme Court Jurist?

Robert George is bemoaning the fact that Judge Alito is backing away from his strong position in 1985 that abortion is not constitutionally protected. His problem is not with the backing of a position, but with the intellectual dishonesty that he must now go through in order to get confirmation. And he correctly assesses the blame at both liberals and conservatives, but a little more at the right because they won't stand up for what they really believe.

Alito's previous statements make his position fair game in the confirmation fight. Either he is going to have to defend it, or backtrack. If he backtracks, and then votes to overturn Roe later down the road, it will, I think speak volumes about the intellectual honesty of him and much of the Right. It may be about time to have Sen. Schumer's war of ideas regarding the Courts.

Two Good Posts

Over at the Washington Monthly, Kevin Drum has two posts that I find of real interest. The first is trying to make sense of this morning's news that Bob Woodward learned about Valerie Plame about a month before anyone else, apparently from someone other than Rove or Libby. Fitzgerald learned about this when an unnamed official came forward to say that he/she told Woodward. It is all very confused, but as Kevin points out "what this does tell us is that the Plame investigation is alive and well and continuing to make progress. Fasten your seatbelts."

His other post is something that I have been wondering about myself, exactly how well is Junior taking his plummeting popularity? The image that the WH has always liked to project is that he doesn't care about what people think, he is just concerned about doing what is right. This is, of course, baloney. Junior is a guy who likes being liked, and since he doesn't appear to be the most introspective guy, when people don't like him, he probably wants to blame someone else. The rumor mill appears to be in full swing, from depression to drinking to getting angry with his aides. Don't know exactly what is true, but the image that is being formed is that of a President and a WH that are confused and don't know what to do. That is not a good thing, for Junior, or for the country.

Friday, November 11, 2005

More Reasons for Republicans to be Nervous

As if most of the story I have already noted today don't make the GOP nervous, then this recent poll on the Missouri Senate race might push them in that direction.

Although McCaskill is well known in the state,there is no reason that she should be ahead of Talent right now, other than Bush dragging down Talent. There is simply no other way to explain it.

Without Bush's popularity dragging it down, it might be close (say McCaskill within 7-10%), but a drag like this, in what should be a GOP lean seat, is simply going to tell every Member up for reelection that they either need the WH to right the ship, or they will have to show a great deal of independence. If your political future was on the line, what would you chose.

This is a big deal, and will not go unnoticed by the GOP caucus.

More Interesting Stories

Short Form:

- Good Wash. Post piece on how DeLay himself convinced Earle to prosecute him.

- Interesting story on what Karl Rove has been doing lately. (He has not apparently been in the same undisclosed location as Cheney.)

- Bill Clinton summarizes his presidency.

- The New Republic on "decoding" Alito

- Jeanine Pirro apparently isn't worried that in the husband game, former President of the United States (baggage and all) still trumps convicted tax felon.

Revenge of the Moderates

Here is Dana Milbank's Washington Post story on how the moderates are making life miserable (at least for one day) for the GOP leadership. Don't expect it to last too long though.

Alito in the News

At this point it is likely that he will be confirmed, but two potential trouble spots.

1) His not disqualifying himself from cases that it appears that he indicated that he would is troubling and a potential opening for attack. And it is not just a Democratic concern, Professor Bainbridge (hardly a crazed left winger) has expressed concerns about the defense that the WH has given so far. Obviously a broken promise of this sort could be a major issue. Still too early to tell, but look for this issue to ripen in the next few days.

2) Apparently not all conservatives are happy with the nomination. Some groups are expressing the worry that he is not being outspoken enough on his anti-abortion position, and that some of his rulings are troubling. Expect this issue to percolate just under the surface among the right side of the political spectrum.

More interesting news later.

An Interesting News Day

Don't know if the newspapers (and other news outlets) figure that more people may be reading the papers today because it is Veteran's Day, but there are almost a dozen stories that interest me today. I'll run down a few at a time.

1) FOX News has Junior at 36% approval, 53% disapproval. He is down 5 points from last week. Most alarmingly for the WH, his approval by Republicans is down to 72%, cracking the 80% barrier for the first time. At some point the WH has to do something to stop this, but I haven't seen anything so far.

2) In a unrelated, but still related story, Moderate Republicans and Conservative Democrats in the House are creating nightmares for the DeLay-less (but not really) House leadership over the latest budget bill. The leadership already abandoned ANWR (although it is certain to be put back in during reconciliation with the Senate) and are having problems with the budget cuts demanded by the conservatives. The House was supposed to vote last night, but didn't have the votes, so it was put over until next week. This is just showing that the GOP moderates are beginning to worry about their own skin in 2006. Remember, it wasn't the most liberal Democrats who ended up losing in 1994, it was the moderates. You can be sure that the moderate GOPers know that.

More later.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

More Pirro in 2006

The idea of a successful news day for the Pirro campaign appears to be complaining that Hillary's campaign is too efficient.

NBC/WSJ Poll

Other than the fact that Junior only lost 1% in his overall popularity, there is nothing positive for my friends on the right side of the aisle from this recently released NBC/WSJ poll. (OK, they still have the advantage on promoting moral values and strong defense, but both are down from last poll.)

The poll says that Democrats would be better at protecting the environment, dealing with Social Security, health care, gas prices, deficit, economy, energy policy, foreign policy, even controlling spending and taxes! Come on now, taxes and spending too?!?

Oh yeah, 57% also believed the President "deliberately misled people to make the case for war."

Brutal stuff.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Day After Reactions (Long Version)

It always takes a few days for the CW to settle on one particular theory, but one part of the CW will certainly be that Junior had a rough night. Republicans did very poorly in both VA and NJ, worse than was expected. Was this Junior's fault? Not really, but his negative poll rating are helping to demoralize the party, and a demoralized party doesn't turn out on Election Day. It has created a real problem for the WH. I think that they have figured out that they won't be able to significantly improve their poll numbers merely by taking on issues that their Conservative base wants, it turns off too many moderates who are increasingly questioning everything they one believed (or wanted to believe) about Bush. But by tacking to the center, the base doesn't become energized. Its a catch-22.

Virginia has to be especially worrisome to the GOP. Their vaunted GOTV didn't seem to have a noticeable impact, the typical strategy of pointing at the opponent and calling him a liberal fell flat and even though they won the Lt. Gov.'s race (and it looks like the AG's race as well, although that race is only about 2,000 votes apart right now) both races were closer than they should have been. (Leslie Byrne is as liberal a statewide candidate that the Democrats have run in 15 years.) With the growth of the northern suburbs around DC, this election may signal Virginia may be about to move into the category Ohio is in for national politics: leans Republican, but the right Democrat can make it competitive.

Corzine's 9 point victory was bigger than recent polls had suggested. I think that Forester's ex-wife ad backfired and although it may have raised some questions about Corzine in voters minds, it answers some that they had about Forester. At this point, I think that NJ Republicans only hope is that the Democrats simply become so corrupt that the public can't stomach it.

California wisely rejected all of their ballot questions. (I say wisely not because I am particularly familiar with any of the, but because I abhor governing by ballot questions. We like in a Republic, not a Democracy.) If anyone is feeling worse than the WH right now, it is Ahnuld. This became a referendum on his term as Governor, and he lost big time. Luckily he has a year to try and improve his standing, although I think that there will now be serious questions asked about whether he even runs for a second term.

And in a vote that I didn't even know about, the voters in Dover PA, voted out all 8 incumbent school board members after the Board voted to include "Intelligent Design" teaching in Science classes, which resulted in a Court challenge and making the town look pretty silly.

(Just for the record, I went 7 for 9 on my election predictions. I missed on Va and Detroit.)

Other reactions from around the web:

The Carpetbagger feels good after Election Day for a change.

Kevin Aylward thinks the VA results had everything to do with Kilgore and nothing to do with a grand Democratic victory.

OTB thinks the Mark Warner is in a good place, Junior less so, but warns that these were all local elections.

Joe Gandelman disagrees and thinks last night was a clear angry message by voters.

Electoral Math runs down the good, bad and ugly.

Decision 08 thinks 2005 should be a wake up call, but says not to overreact.

Brendan Nyhan also believes that the initiative process is a disaster.

Erza Klein says you can't argue with results.

Tom Maguire approves of the voters decision in Dover, PA.

Captain Ed calls it a good night for Democrats and hopes the GOP understands why they lost.

The Bull Moose calls Mark Warner a red-hot commodity.

McGhee doesn't see what the big deal is.

Polipundit thinks that the GOP needs to reconnect with their voters.

My favorite quote: "Republicans on Capitol Hill are so scared already. This is just going to make them more fearful that 2006 could be a disaster." - Charlie Cook

Day After Reactions (Short Version)

Good to be a Democrat today.

More analysis soon.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Sorta Live Blogging Election Night

These numbers to be update irregularly.

In Virginia, Kilgore 46, Kain 51 (about 95% reporting) Kain Predicted Winner

In NJ, Forester 43, Corzine 54. (about 70% reporting) Corzine Predicted Winner

In NYC, Bloomberg over Ferrer. (No numbers needed) Bloomberg Predicted Winner

Other Results-
Texas Disapproves of Gay Marriage. (Too shocking for words!!!!)
Ohio looks to be rejecting redisticting reform.
St. Paul has a new mayor.
Hendrix is leading in Detroit.

Ooops, Never Mind

After announcing their intention to probe the leak of the CIA prisons (see below), Sen. Trent Lott cuts his leadership off at the knees. According to CNN, Lott in an off-camera meeting with reporters revealed that the leak likely came from a Senator or Senate staffer who attended a GOP-only meeting with Vice President Dick Cheney last week, where the detention centers were discussed. (Video here.)

Too funny!

I am sure, of course, that this will in no way derail the important bicameral investigation that is about to begin. (Right!)

No Exit Polling

Apparently there is no exit polling done in NJ or VA this year, so we have to find out like in the olden days.

(Not that the exit polling was particularly accurate anyway, right President Gore?)

Investigating the Leak

Congress has sprung into action over the leak of CIA information to the press. But don't expect Scooter or Karl to get their chance to pull an Ollie North, this investigation is into the Washington Post story that outlined the fact that the CIA is running a prison system in foreign countries and avoiding Congressional oversight of the conditions of these prisons.

Bill Frist and Denny Hastert have decided that this is when they will use their Congressional oversight capacity. Whether or not this story needs a Congressional investigation is certainly debatable, but given the fact that there have been no serious Congressional investigations into leaks by administration officials, or even into whether the administration manipulated intelligence in making its case for war, its abundantly clear that this has little to do with oversight and everything to do with politics. With this type of leadership, no wonder so many Republicans are worried about 2006.

Election Day

As I mentioned below, in addition to the elective offices, there are several state ballot questions that deserve monitoring. Bloomberg has a list of them here.

Of particular note are the "Gay Questions" in Texas and Maine, the redistricting in Ohio, just about all of the Cali. propositions, the NY budgeting questions (a pure power grab by the state legislature), the creation of a Lt. Gov. in NJ and the malpractice question in Washington.

(Just in case you get bored.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

More Pirro Woes

As if Jeanne Pirro didn't have enough problems (a popular opponent, a felon husband, poor fundraising and a disastrous announcement speech, to name only a few) the New York Post is reporting that Yonkers Mayor John Spencer may be about to snatch the Conservative Party nomination from her.

For those not familiar with New York politics, this would be a death blow. No Republican wins statewide in NY, unless they have the support of the Conservative Party. It will also be interesting to see how the GOP will do in the race for her spot as Westchester DA. It is not a marquis race, but a loss for the Republican DiFiore will certainly not bode well for Ms. Pirro.

Who Knew?

Apparently there have been 47 proposed Constitutional Amendments in the past year. Some sound good (repeal the 22nd Amendment, for one), but still seems like a lot. Kevin Drum has the details.

Election Predictions

Although my previous predictions have been less than 100%(just ask President Kerry ) I did go 4 for 4 with my 2003 off-year predictions. So with that caveat, here we go.

New York City Mayor - Mike Bloomberg over Freddie Ferrer. The only question is whether Bloomberg can top 60%. I say he will, capturing 62% of the vote. A pretty pathetic performance for a city that is overwhelmingly Democratic.

New Jersey Governor - Jon Corzine over Doug Forrester. After a sleazy campaign by both sides (this is New Jersey, what do yoze want?)this is a pretty solid blue state, and Junior's popularity will be a drag on Forrester, so expect voters to hold their nose and cast their lot with the devil they know.

Virginia Governor - Jerry Kilgore over Tim Kaine and Russell Potts. This is the race that the DC crowd will be watching with anticipation. Virginia is a red state (Bush won by 9%), but his popularity has slipped even here. The race has been neck and neck for the past few weeks, ever since Kilgore went extremely negative with an ad that mentioned Kaine and Hitler. I anticipate that voter turnout will be key, and in a place like Virginia, the GOP has an edge. Expect a long night, with the third party candidacy of Potts taking about 8% of the vote.

Ohio Redisitricting - No. If this measure passes, it will be the clearest sign of voter disgust over what has been happening both in Columbus and in DC. But powerful forces have joined together to keep the power of redistricting in the hands of the legislature. This will be close, but with no other significant races, expect a low turnout, which makes it very unpredictable.

California Redistricting - No. This has become more a referendum on Arnold than on redistricting. He has taken strong stands on 4 ballot initiatives, and all 4 may end up losing. This will be a victory for Democratic pragmatists, who don't feel like unilaterally laying down their arms in the redistricting wars.

St. Paul Mayor - Chris Coleman over Randy Kelly. In 2004, Kelly, the incumbent Democratic mayor, endorsed Bush for President. Payback will come tomorrow, when Coleman crushes him. He will lose even worse than Ferrer.

Detroit Mayor - Freman Hendrix over Kwame Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick the young (35) incumbent has made several mistakes in the past four years and faces a strong challenge from Hendrix (55), a former Deputy Mayor. In the end neither will be able to do much for this dying city.

San Diego Mayor - Jerry Sanders over Donna Frye. San Diego is pretty much a political mess right now, following the resignation of the Mayor and half the City Council. Sanders is a former police chief, and San Diego is pretty Republican leaning, Frye is seen as a troublemaker. Expect voters to go for stability.

Danbury, CT Mayor - Mark Boughton over Dean Espisito. This will be a bigger blowout than either NYC or St. Paul.

Friday, November 04, 2005

A New Low?

Even by NJ political standards the new Doug Forrster ad is a low blow. (NY Times story here.) The ad quotes Jon Corzine's ex-wife saying that he "let his family down, and he'll probably let New Jersey down, too."

This is a desperate move by a desperate campaign, and much like the Virginia "Hitler ad" I think it will backfire. My guess is that Corzine will win by 15%, at least 5% higher because of this ad.

Of course, this opens up a Pandora's box for both candidates, so one reporter asked Forrester if he had ever had an affairs. After hemming and hawing for about 45 seconds, he said "if you are asking me if I have ever had sex with someone else in the course of my marriage, the answer is no."

Even my favorite conservative couldn't help but roll her eyes at that lame answer.

More on the story at Politics NJ.com

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Pretty Much Sums It Up

From The Carpetbagger:

I don't want to belabor yesterday's closed session controversy, but there's one part of the Republicans' response that warrants follow-up.

As GOP senators rushed to microphones yesterday, most of them purple with rage, the buzz word was "unprecedented." Harry Reid was closing the Senate without having notified Republicans in advance, which as they explained it, is not the norm.

Republicans condemned the Democrats' maneuver, which marked the first time in more than 25 years that one party had insisted on a closed session without consulting the other party.

True? As far as I can tell, yes. Relevant? I can't see how. As Reid told reporters, "I'm sorry [Frist is] disappointed in my following Senate procedures. It was our way of getting to the bottom of something that was long overdue."

If I understand the point Republicans were trying to make, Reid did something unusual by calling for a closed session without telling his friends on the other side of the aisle first. As they tell it, this undermines trust, strains inter-party relations, and ignores certain traditions that Congress is supposed to respect.

It's more than a little amusing to hear congressional Republicans worrying about such niceties. Which party likes to hold open five-minute votes indefinitely until the get the results they want? Which party prevents the minority from offering amendments (.pdf) to legislation? Which party forbids the minority from participating in conference committees? Which party shuts down committee hearings went they start to become politically inconvenient? Which party decided that the Senate leader of one party could campaign against the Senate leader of the other party for the first time in American political history?

Republicans want to lecture Dems about decorum and polite floor tactics? Are they kidding?

Bill Frist likes to brag about his breaking Senate precedent in front of GOP crowds, so his complaints here are just whining. I would just add that the idea of Bill Frist ever becoming President become more laughable every day.

Wait Just A Second

Many conservatives are getting sore arms patting themselves on the back over the Alito nomination, but perhaps they should take a look at the latest Gallup poll before they get too giddy.

Alito's numbers are much closer to Miers than Roberts (43% think he is an excellent or good nominee, 39% say fair or poor), and the poll shows that by 15% the public doesn't want Alito confirmed if he will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.

This shows that the public is wary about any Bush nominee at this point, and that if the Democrats can make a strong case against Alito they could either derail the nomination, or prosper in 2006. It will greatly depend on how Alito comes across during his hearings, but the giddiness of the GOP does make a fall a little more likely.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Michael Barone is an Idiot

Because he puts out a political almanac every couple years, many in Washington have seen him as some type of guru who knows something that they don't. I've mostly thought of him as a blowhard and not particularly insightful. But apparently I can add idiot to that list as well. His latest column (he apparently calls it a blog, but blogs don't usually run three pages) posits that the reason that Democrats will not filibuster Alito because they are worried that they will offend Italian-Americans!

Huh? What?

If the Democrats need to filibuster they will. There are reasons that may chose not to do so, primarily if Alito comes across well during his hearings, but worries about an ethnic group as diverse as the Italian-Americans will not be a factor in the decision. Besides most of the people who would be "offended" if the Democrats filibustered Alito would not have been voting D in the first place.

I don't think that those concerns kept Democrats from voting against Clarence Thomas (a member of an interest group of significantly more importance to the party). Barone isn't the only conservative who has tried this line in the past few days, but usually it comes from the "hacks", not the so-called intelligencia. This is no different then when the WH was calling criticism of Harriet Miers sexist, which was widely denounced by conservatives.

Like I said -- Barone is an idiot.

Feeling A Little Bolder

In a move sure to make Democrats happier, and annoy Republicans, Minority Leader Reid demanded that the Senate go into closed door session, to discuss why no investigations into Scooter Libby or the rational for the Iraq War were being done. (I can almost hear Fred Barnes whining about this tonight on Fox.)

I think it is a fair question to ask why a Senate that investigated everything that President Clinton or anyone related to his administration did for six years, has not held any real public investigations into anything that this administration has done.

We all the know the reason why, but lets at least get Bill Frist & co. to pretend their are any other reasons. This is a positive sign of a party that is getting its legs back and realizes that you have to counterpunch, instead of hoping for the knockout. I hope, and believe, that this is the first in an organized campaign by the minority party to get some answers and accountability.

[UPDATE - This is also a great shot across the bow to Frist that he can expect the unexpected during the Alito confirmation battles. Always keep your enemy off guard.]

Nuclear Countdown

Now that Junior has done the predictable and nominated the type of conservative judge most likely to cause a fight, and coincidentally (or not), help distract the public from the numerous other problems and scandals that seem to have popped up in the past few months, the fight is on.

This is a battle between left and right, for the hearts and souls of the middle. Both sides have a lot to lose, and much to gain, from this fight.

-- Junior's Presidency is on the line here. If he wins, he has a new lease and the undying love of a conservative base that was starting to wonder if they had bought a pig in a poke. If he loses, it is hard to imagine him accomplishing much else of true importance in the next 3 years.

-- Bill Frist's only, slim, hope of being President is dependent upon Samuel Alito becoming a Supreme Court Justice. (Even then I wouldn't bet on it.)

-- Senate Democrats can actually win, even if they lose the confirmation battle, but by not seeming to be shills for the left wing interest groups. If they can paint Alito as a real extremist, then even if they lose the confirmation fight, they can run against in 2006 against a GOP that is corrupt and out of touch with moderate America. But they can only do that if they can raise issues in addition to abortion during the confirmation battle. It requires a deft touch that is not a characteristic that cannot usually be found in the Schumers of the world. (But that said, so far they have taken the right tone, and Alito does have a ton of opinions that they can use. They can, and must, do this on his record.)

I was against having the filibuster fight last spring, but the time to have the fight may be upon us.

If the GOP wants to be shortsighted and potentially give President Hillary a free hand starting in 2008, then fine. But there are Senate traditionalists who will have trouble with this, and it is best to make them chose the principles or their party.

Of course, Alito can change the dynamics by being either brilliant and likeable or stark and severe during his hearings, but that is a variable that will have to be factored in at the time. Right now it seems as though the pieces for this battle are now in place. Let the strategy begin!
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