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Posts Tagged ‘Ronald Reagan’

SECRECY PAST IS SECRECY PROLOGUE: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics on August 9, 2016 at 12:20 am

The Washington Post was angry.

Its reporters and editors believed they had been stonewalled by the 1992 Bill Clinton Presidential campaign.  

And now that he had been elected President, they wanted access to a treasury of documents relating to potential irregularities in Whitewater and a gubernatorial campaign.  

David Gergen, a conservative adviser to Republican Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan, had been hired by Clinton in 1993 to provide a counterbalancing perspective to his liberal team members.  

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Gergen had served in the Nixon White House during Watergate.  He knew firsthand the political dangers of stonewalling–or merely appearing to stonewall.  

So he advised Clinton: Give the Post the documents. Yes, it will be temporarily embarrassing. But in a little while the bad stories will blow over and you can get on with the job.  

If you don’t hand over the documents, you’ll look like you’re hiding something. The press will raise a stink. The Republicans will demand a Special Prosecutor.  And there will be no end to it.

Clinton agreed with Gergen.  But there was a catch: He didn’t feel he could make the decision alone. Hillary had been a partner in the Whitewater land transactions.  

“You’ll have to speak to Hillary and get her agreement,” he told Gergen. “If she agrees, we’ll do it.” 

Gergen promised to see her. 

Two days later, Gergen called Hillary Clinton’s office and asked for an appointment.

“We’ll get back to you,” her secretary promised.

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Hillary Clinton

Hillary never did.  Finally, two weeks after the canceled December 10 meeting with the Clintons, Gergen got the news he had been dreading: Bruce Lindsay, Clinton’s trusted adviser, would deliver a one-paragraph letter to the Post, essentially saying; “Screw you.”

Events quickly unfolded exactly as Gergen had predicted:

  • The Post’s executive editor, Leonard Downie, called the White House: “Nothing personal, but we’re going to pursue this story relentlessly.”  
  • The New York Times and Newsweek–among other news outlets–joined the journalistic investigation.  
  • Coverage of Whitewater intensified.  
  • Republicans began demanding that Attorney General Janet Reno appoint an independent counsel.  
  • On January 20, 1994–exactly a year after Clinton took the oath as President–Edward Fiske, a former federal prosecutor, was named independent counsel.
  • In August, Fiske was dismissed by a Federal judge who considered him too liberal and replaced with Kenneth Starr, a former solicitor general and federal appeals court judge.
  • Starr unearthed Clinton’s salacious affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky, which culminated in an unsuccessful Republican impeachment attempt in 1998.
  • Starr resigned in 1999, and was replaced by Robert W. Ray.
  • The investigation continued until 2002, but no criminal charges were ever filed against either Clinton.

In his 2001 book, Eyewitness to Power, Gergen summarizes the meaning of this episode: 

If the Clintons had turned over the Whitewater documents to the Washington Post in December 1993, their history–and that of the United States–would have been entirely different.  

Disclosure would have brought embarrassing revelations–such as Hillary’s investment in commodity futures.

“But we know today that nothing in those documents constituted a case for criminal prosecution of either one of the Clintons in their Whitewater land dealings…

“Edward Fiske and Kenneth Starr would never have arrived on the scene, we might never have heard of Monica Lewinsky (who had nothing to do with the original Whitewater matter) and there would have been no impeachment.

“The country would have been spared that travail, and the President himself could have had a highly productive second term.”  

Gergen blames President Clinton rather than Hillary for refusing to disclose the documents. Voters elected him–not her–to run the government. He–not she–ultimately bears the responsibility.  

Still, his comments about Hillary are telling, considering:

  • That she is likely to win election to the White House this November; and
  • That she continues to reflexively stonewall instead of opt for transparency when facing questions.  

As Gergen puts it: “She should have said yes [to disclosure] from the beginning, accepting short-term embarrassment in exchange for long-term protection of both herself and her husband.  

“She listened too easily to the lawyers and to her own instincts as a litigator, instincts that told her never to give an inch to the other side. Whitewater was always more a political than a legal problem.”  

The same might be said of her lingering credibility problem with the use of a private email server as Secretary of State.

Both of her predecessors, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice, used private servers, and neither has been subjected to Republican inquisition.  

She could have easily avoided the turmoil that has dogged her for years by simply admitting at the outset: “Yes, I used a private server–just like my two Republican predecessors did. Everyone knows government servers are compromised.”  

Instead, she fell back on Nixonian stonewalling tactics–which proved fatal to Richard Nixon and almost fatal to her husband.  

This is, in short, a woman who has learned nothing from the past–her own nor that of her husband.

It’s a safe bet that as President Hillary Clinton will continue to stonewall over matters whose disclosure is embarrassing only in the short-term–thus jeopardizing her tenure as Chief Executive.

SECRECY PAST IS SECRECY PROLOGUE: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Politics on August 8, 2016 at 10:30 am

“History can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

So wrote the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard.  And with history–in the form of a second Clinton Presidency–about to repeat itself, useful lessons may be found by studying the first one.

Since her debut as a potential First Lady in 1992, Hillary Clinton has aroused strong passions–for and against.

David Gergen is one former staffer who has viewed her up close and yet offers a balanced perspective of her strengths and weaknesses.

He did so in his 2001 book, Eyewitness to Power, in which he chronicled his experiences as an adviser to Republican Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan–and a Democratic one: Bill Clinton.

In 1993, then a conservative political commentator, Gergen returned to the White House. 

The liberal Clinton, sensitive to criticism on the Right, wanted Gergen’s advice on how to defuse it.

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David Gergen

In December, 1993, Gergen got a call from Bob Kaiser, the managing editor of the Washington Post: “We’re getting the runaround over there on Whitewater and I want you to know about it.”

“Whitewater” encompassed the Arkansas real estate investments of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates, Jim and Susan McDougal in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a failed business venture in the 1970s and 1980s. 

A Post reporter had sent a letter to Bruce Lindsay, a trusted Clinton adviser, raising questions about the finances of the Clintons in the years before they came to Washington.

Two weeks had passed, and there had been no reply.  

Gergen assured Kaiser that this was the first time he had heard about the letter: “I’ll look into it and get back to you.”

Gergen and Kaiser shared a Watergate past–Gergen had worked in the Nixon White House, Kaiser at the Washington Post, whose reporting had ultimately brought Nixon down.

Both men, Gergen later wrote, “remembered how destructive the stonewalling of those days had been.” And Gergen respected Kaiser, believing him “fair but tough–and, if misled, very tough.”   

Gergen immediately consulted with Thomas F. “Mack” McLarty, Clinton’s White House Chief of Staff. He advised McLarty that a trio of White House officials should visit the Post and find out what the reporters wanted.

McLarty agreed.  

When the White House officials arrived at the Post, they were met by a chorus of hostile reporters.  

They felt they had been stonewalled throughout the 1992 Presidential race. And now they wanted access to a treasury of documents relating to potential irregularities in Whitewater and a gubernatorial campaign.

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The Washington Post

Gergen and Mark Gearan, the White House director of communications, agreed that the best course was to give the Post all the documents it was requesting.  

The next day, Gergen laid out his case to Chief of Staff McLarty:

The Post should be allowed to view the documents and report on them. Then the papers should be made available to the entire White House press corps.  

Yes, said Gergen, a lot of negative stories would probably result. But if Watergate had taught any lesson, it was that it was better to admit mistakes and not try to hide them. Stonewalling only brought on criminal investigations–and potential criminal charges.  

McLarty agreed to set up a meeting with President Clinton where Gergen and Gearan could make their case.

On December 10, Gergen and Gearan were scheduled to meet with President Clinton, his wife, and possibly their lawyers.  

But when the appointed hour arrived, they found that the meeting had been scrubbed.

The Clintons had had their lawyers come in early for a private discussion of the documents, had heard their arguments, and had decided not to discuss anything. They didn’t even want to hear a case for disclosure.

Gergen was furious. He had been hired months earlier with the promise of full access to the President. And now he insisted on it.  

McLarty arranged for him to see Clinton the next morning. 

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Bill Clinton

Gergen laid out three reasons why the Post should be given the documents it wanted.  

First, he believed the paper had tried to be fair in its coverage of the Clintons.  

Second, Watergate proved that it was politically lethal to be accused of a cover-up.

And, third, having won international renown with Watergate, the Post would never back down on Whitewater.

Gergen warned that the Post “would sic a big team of investigative reporters on the White House” and that would lead other news organizations to follow.  

“I agree with you,” said Clinton. “I think we should turn over all of the documents.”  

But there was a catch: He didn’t feel he could make the decision alone. Hillary had been a partner in the Whitewater land transactions.  

“You’ll have to speak to Hillary and get her agreement,” he told Gergen. “If she agrees, we’ll do it.”  

Gergen promised to see her.  

Two days later, Gergen called Hillary Clinton’s office and asked for an appointment.

“We’ll get back to you,” her secretary promised.

RIGHT-WING TREASON: FIRST FOX, NOW TRUMP

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on July 28, 2016 at 12:08 am

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

The speaker was Donald Trump, holding a July 27 press conference in Doral, Fla.

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Donald Trump

And he was urging a foreign leader to hack into the private email server of his Presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

Five days earlier, Wikileaks had released 19,252 emails and 8,034 attachments hacked from computers of the highest-ranking officials of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Cyber-security experts believe the hacking originated from Russia–and that Russian President Vladimir Putin may have authorized it.

Politicians on the Left and Right expressed outrage at Trump’s remarks.

But this is not the first time the Right has jeopardized American security.

During the 2012 Presidential campaign, supporters of Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of leaking top-secret details of the U.S. Navy SEALs raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

The raid, launched on May 1, 2011, resulted in the death of the 9/11 mastermind and the capture of a treasury of highly sensitive Al Qaeda documents.

According to Right-wingers, Obama wanted to provide Hollywood screenwriters with material for a movie to glorify his role in authorizing the raid.

In August, 2012, the Right found its own secrets-leakers.  And they operated under the name of the Fox News Network.

Their motive: To promote a book–No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden. It was slated to hit bookstores on September 11–the 11th anniversary of Al Qaeda’s attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

It had been penned under the pseudonym “Mark  Owen.” But the real name of the author–a 36-year-old former Navy SEAL Team Six member who took part in the raid–was Matt Bissonnette, of Wrangell, Alaska.

Bissonnette’s real name became public after multiple sources leaked it to Fox News–who revealed it on August 23.

The Navy SEALs who killed bin Laden had previously been left unidentified.

Fox News had repeatedly accused President Obama and members of his administration of treasonously leaking military secrets to the media to glorify the President.

Many former and current SEAL members feared that the book would release information that could compromise future missions.

U.S. Navy SEALs insignia

One Navy SEAL told Fox News, “How do we tell our guys to stay quiet when this guy won’t?”  Some SEALs called Bissonnette a “traitor.”

And Colonel Tim Nye, a Special Operations Command spokesman, said the author “put himself in danger” by writing the book.

“This individual came forward. He started the process. He had to have known where this would lead. He’s the one who started this, so he bears the ultimate responsibility for this.”

But Bissonnette placed more than his own life in jeopardy. He endangered the lives of every one of the men who participated in the bin Laden raid.

If Bissonnette fell into the hands of Al Qaeda terrorists or sympathizers, he could conceivably be tortured into revealing at least some of the names and locations of his former team members.

And Fox News not only revealed his true name but the town where he lived.

Even the liberal Nation magazine was appalled at the recklessness of this Right-wing propaganda outlet. Jeremy Scahill, a writer for Nation, tweeted:

“Why on earth would FOX News publish the alleged identity of one of the ST6 members who was in the OBL raid? Seriously.”

Millions of Right-wing Americans have been conditioned by decades of Fascistic propaganda to believe that:

  • Democrats are all traitors–or at least potential traitors.
  • Even those Democrats who aren’t traitors are too weak-kneed to protect the nation from its sworn enemies.
  • Democrats (have betrayed) (are betraying) (intend to betray) national security secrets to the Soviet/Chinese Communists.
  • Democrats have (betrayed/) (are betraying) (intend to betray) national security secrets to Islamic Jihadists.
  • Only Republicans can be trusted to protect the nation.

Republicans blamed President Harry S. Truman for “losing China” to the forces of Mao Tse Tung in 1949. America could not have prevented a corrupt and incompetent Chiang Kai-Shek from being driven off the Chinese mainland by Mao’s overwhelmingly powerful armies.

Then, in 1950, Senator “Tail Gunner Joe” McCarthy charged that the State Department was infested by Communists–and that the Truman administration knew it but refused to take action. The charges were false.

Joseph R. McCarthy

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Republicans charged that Barack Obama was really a Muslim non-citizen who intended to sell out America’s security to his Muslim “masters.”

Attacking the patriotism of their opponents has repeatedly elected Republicans:

  • It elected Dwight Eisenhower President and turned Congress Republican in 1952 and 1956.
  • It elected Richard Nixon President in 1968 and 1972.
  • It elected Ronald Reagan President in 1980 and 1984.
  • It elected George H.W. Bush President in 1988.
  • It gave Republicans control of the Congress in 1994 (although Bill Clinton had been elected President in 1992).
  • It elected George W. Bush President in 2000 and 2004.
  • It gave control of the House to Republicans in 2010 and the Senate in 2014.

And now Republicans hope this appeal will elect a man who has openly called on Vladimir Putin to hack into American computers.

FROM THE PRESIDENT’S LIPS TO THE ASTROLOGER’S EAR

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on July 7, 2016 at 12:16 am

On July 6, FBI Director James Comey recommended that the Justice Department not prosecute Hillary Clinton for using a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.  

Almost immediately afterward, Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for President, responded on Twitter: “FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! .”  

Paul Ryan, the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, claimed to be similarly outraged: “Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent.”

“What Director Comey’s statements made clear was that Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a personal unsecured server to send work-related emails while service as Secretary of State—including classified information—was extremely irresponsible,” said House Republican Majority leader Kevin McCarthy.  

But 28 years ago, Republicans maintained a tight-lipped silence on another matter involving sensitive national security secrets. That was when news broke that Nancy Reagan, as First Lady, had shared these with a court astrologer.  

When President Ronald Reagan wanted advice on whether to nuke the Soviet Union or meet with its leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, his most important adviser wasn’t the CIA or Pentagon.

It was Joan Quigley, a San Francisco-based astrologer.

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Ronald and Nancy Reagan

Nancy had met Quigley on “The Merve Griffin Show” in 1973.  Quigley gave Nancy–and through her, Reagan himself—astrological advice during the latter’s campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1976.

That effort failed to unseat President Gerald Ford–who was defeated by Jimmy Carter. But four years later, in 1980, Reagan defeated Carter to become the 40th President of the United States.

On March 30, 1981, a mentally-disturbed loner named John W. Hinckley shot and critically wounded Reagan. Fixated on actress Jodie Foster, he believed that by shooting the President he could gain her affection.

Shortly after the shooting, Merv Griffin told Nancy that Quigley had told him: If Nancy had called her on that fateful day, she–Quigley–could have warned that the President’s astrological charts had foretold a bad day.

From that moment on, Nancy regularly consulted Quigley on virtually everything that she and the President intended to do.

When Reagan learned of Nancy’s consultations with Quigley, he warned her: Be careful, because it might look odd if it came out.

Nancy may have been speaking on a scrambler-equipped phone. But Quigley–at her San Francisco office–was on an unsecured line. Thus, foreign powers–most notably the Soviet Union and Communist China–could have been privy to President Reagan’s most secret intentions.

Joan Quigley

Nancy passed on Quigley’s suggestions as commands to Donald Regan, chief of the White House staff.

As a result, Regan kept a color-coded calendar on his desk to remember when the astrological signs were good for the President to speak, travel, or negotiate with foreign leaders: Green ink highlighted “good” days; red ink “bad” days; yellow ink “iffy” days.

Donald Regan, no fan of Nancy’s, chafed under such restrictions: “Obviously, this list of dangerous or forbidden dates left very little latitude for scheduling,” he later wrote.

Forced out of the White House in 1987 by Nancy, Regan struck back in a 1988 tell-all memoir: For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington.

Regan’s book revealed, for the first time, how Ronald Reagan had actually made his Presidential decisions.  

All–including decisions to risk nuclear war with the Soviet Union–were based on a court astrologer’s horoscopesRationality and the best military intelligence available played a lesser, secondary role.

The last major world leader to turn to the supernatural for advice had been Russian Czar Nicholas II. His adviser had been Grigori Rasputin, a Siberian peasant whom Empress Alexandra believed was the only man who could save her hemophiliac son–and heir to the throne.

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Grigori Rasputin

In 1990, Quigley confirmed the allegations in an autobiography, What Does Joan Say?: My Seven Years As White House Astrologer to Nancy and Ronald Reagan.

The title came from the question that Ronald Reagan asked Nancy before making important decisions–including those that could risk the destruction of the United States. 

Bragged Quigley: “Not since the days of the Roman emperors–and never in the history of the United States Presidency—has an astrologer played such a significant role in the nation’s affairs of State.”

Among the successes Quigley took credit for: 

  • Strategies for winning the Presidential elections of 1980 and 1984;
  • Helping Nancy Reagan overhaul her image as a spoiled rich girl;
  • Defusing the controversy over Reagan’s visiting a graveyard for SS soldiers in Bitburg, Germany;
  • Pursuing “Star Wars” as a major part of his strategy against the Soviet Union;
  • The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty;
  • Protecting Reagan from would-be assassins through timely warnings to Nancy; and
  • Moving Reagan from seeing the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire” to accepting Mikhail Gorbachev as a peace-seeking leader.

Thirty-five years after he became President, Ronald Reagan remains the most popular figure among Republicans. His deliberately-crafted myth is held up as the example of Presidential greatness by Right-wing candidates.  

Curiously, however, none of them mention his approach to government-by-astrologer.

“FAMILY VALUES” = HYPOCRITICAL SLOGANEERING

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 26, 2016 at 12:33 am

In 1992, Republicans wanted to re-elect President George H.W. Bush, who had succeeded Ronald Reagan in 1989.

But they had a problem: Whipping up voter enthusiasm for him.

Bush wasn’t charismatic like Reagan, so he didn’t inspire the intense loyalty Reagan had.  He was seen as drab, even wimpy.

George H. W. Bush, President of the United States, 1989 official portrait.jpg

George H.W. Bush

Ironically, Bush had performed heroically during World War II.  

On August 1, 1944,  Bush piloted one of four aircraft that attacked the Japanese installations on Chichijima. 

Bush’s aircraft was hit by flak and his engine caught on fire. Despite this, Bush completed his attack and released bombs over his target, scoring several damaging hits.

Reagan, by contrast, spent World War II on a Hollywood sound stage as part of the First Motion Picture Unit, turning out propaganda films to boost civilian morale. 

Yet he was seen by millions as a genuine war hero.

Then there was the stalled economy.  

Early in his term, Bush faced leftover deficits spawned by the Reagan years. Reagan had given tax-cuts to the rich, bloated the military budget and cut government programs to aid the poor and middle class.

As a result, the deficit had grown by 1990 to $220 billion, three times its size since 1980.

In 1991, many corporations, claiming the need to reorganize, laid off hundreds of thousands of workers, who had believed that their jobs were secure.  

By mid-year, the unemployment rate reached 7.8%, the highest since 1984. In September 1992, the Census Bureau reported that 14.2% of all Americans lived in poverty.

Bush’s Democratic challenger in 1992 was Bill Clinton, who had been the Governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and 1983 to 1992.  At 45, Clinton was young, vigorous, and for many evoked memories of an equally young and vigorous John F. Kennedy.

To overcome these disadvantages, Republicans needed a way to generate enthusiasm among their base.

The answer: “Family values.”

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Supposedly this meant support for values traditionally learned or reinforced within a family, such as those of high moral standards and discipline.

In reality, it was a Right-wing excuse for the failed economic policies of the Reagan-Bush years.

By citing “a decline in family values,” Bush’s re-election team could blame jobless Americans for their own misery: “If only you had lived up to the high standards set by your Republican superiors, you wouldn’t now be in this position.”

“Family values” carried a sexual subtext as well.  Since abortion had became legal in 1973, Republicans had appropriated re-criminalizing it as their pet sex-related issue.

During the Reagan years, Attorney General Edwin Meese had launched a crackdown on pornography. And much of Reagan’s support had come from sexually-obsessed Christian Right evangelists such as Jerry Falwell of the “Moral Majority.”

Thus, a Bush supporter held up a sign reading, “Woody Allen is Clinton’s Adviser on Family Values,” at the 1992 Republican Presidential convention. Allen had recently become notorious for an affair with the adopted stepdaughter of his lover, actress Mia Farrow.

The slogan wasn’t enough to get Bush re-elected. Bill Clinton was elected President.  

But “family values” lived on for decades as Republican code language for: “Only Republicans are sexually upright.”

Throughout the eight-year Clinton Presidency, Republicans focused on his longtime reputation as a sex-crazed Rasputin. When the news broke that Clinton had been diddling a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky, Republicans demanded his resignation.

When Clinton refused to resign, they unsuccessfully tried to impeach him.

Meanwhile, they ignored the extramarital affairs of their own members–such as then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Gingrich had been boffing a mistress while demanding Clinton’s impeachment for similar adultery.

After Gingrich resigned from the House of Representatives in 1999, his would-be successor, Bob Livingston, was forced to resign from Congress. He had been outed by Hustler publisher Larry Flynt as a serial philanderer.

In 1996, Republicans pushed through Congress the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman.  It allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages allowed in other states.

DOMA was advertised as a necessary defense against “predatory homosexuals” who, like vampires, were thought to be preying on innocent heterosexuals.

A major backer of anti-gay legislation was Dennis Hastert, Republican Speaker of the House from 1999 to 1007.  

Dennis Hastert

In 2006, Hastert spearheaded a bill to toughen punishments for sex crimes against children.

“We’ve all seen the disturbing headlines about sex offenders and crimes against children,” said Hastert. “Protecting our children from Internet predators and child exploitation enterprises are just as high a priority as securing our border from terrorists.”

On April 29, 2016, a federal judge repeatedly damned Hastert as a “serial child molester” for sexually abusing several boys he coached on the Yorkville High School wrestling team in the 1960s and 1970s.

Having targeted the poor, blacks, Hispanics, women and gays, Republicans are now training their sights on transgenders.

And Target Corporation’s April 19 announcement that its customers could pick the bathroom that “matched their gender identity” gave Republicans a new venue for their attacks on sex-related issues.

There is no known epidemic of transgender attacks on heterosexuals in bathrooms. But Republicans will ride this issue so long as there are citizens willing to believe it.

REAGAN GETS LENIN’S FUNERAL

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 11, 2016 at 12:01 am

On February 6, 2011, Ronald Reagan, if he had been alive, would have been 100 years old.

Publishers rushed to put out worshipful tributes to his eight years as President. Network political programs such as “This Week” and “Meet the Press” assembled surviving members of his administration to re-live the “glory days” of Reagan’s–and their–time in power.

This is where it all started going wrong for America–a Right-wing legacy of huge Federal deficits, tax-cuts for the rich, bloated military budgets and cutbacks in government programs to aid the poor and middle-class.

Ronald Reagan

The Republican party, of course, has done the most to create and promote this “cult of Reagan.” And it has done so for the same reason the Communist party of the Soviet Union created and fostered the “cult of Lenin.”

No two men could have been more different than Vladimir Lenin and Ronald Reagan. Lenin created the Soviet Union in 1917 and became its first in a series of absolute dictators. Reagan spent his life fighting Communism, most notably as President.

Vladimir Lenin

So it’s ironic that both men, in death, got essentially the same funeral–and for the same reason: To sanctify and legitimize their respective organizations–and the authority of their potential successors.

Lenin died in 1924 and was immediately succeeded by Joseph Stalin. Stalin knew that, despite Communism’s official atheistic stance, most Russians remained loyal to the Russian Orthodox Church.

So in giving Lenin’s funeral oration, Stalin used the language of religion to confer sainthood upon a militant atheist–and upon his successor, Stalin himself.

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Funeral for Vladimir Lenin

Stalin and his fellow Communists immediately launched the “cult of Lenin,” depicting him as a fatherly, all-wise leader whose genius could only be bestowed upon his closest disciples.

Lenin’s extensive political writings were treated as divine writ, and were used to justify everything Stalin and his own successors wanted to do.

A classic example: Although Lenin died 20 years before the American creation of the atomic bomb, Lenin was hailed by the Soviets as the “father” of “Soviet nuclear physics.”

Similarly, the Republican party wasted no time turning its own former leader, Ronald Reagan, into a modern-day saint of mythical proportions.

They have done so for the same reason that Stalin deliberately forged a cult around the dead Lenin—to create a “holy” figure of whom other Republicans can claim to be true disciples.

Funeral for Ronald Reagan

These deliberate fictions conveniently ignore a series of ugly truths:

  • Reagan was only one of a series of Presidents who held the line against the Soviet Union.
  • His budgets were just as stained with red ink as those of all previous Presidents.
  • Far from standing up to Iranian terrorists, Reagan sold them our most sophisticated missiles in a weak-kneed exchange for American hostages. Then he went on television and brazenly lied that any such “arms for hostages” deal had ever happened.
  • By the end of his term, 138 Reagan administration officials had been investigated, indicted or convicted for official misconduct and/or criminal violations. 
  • His “trickle-down” Reganomics brought prosperity to only the wealthiest 1% of Americans, proving that “a rising tide lifted some yachts.”
  • By drastically shrinking the tax-base, bloating the defense budget and destroying programs to benefit the poor and middle-class, Reagan produced a $1 trillion deficit—which only the Clinton Administration eliminated.
  • Reagan believed that government should not help the impoverished. Those who lacked wealth to buy such necessities as housing and medical insurance were written off as unimportant.
  • John F. Kennedy had praised government service as an honor. Reagan repeatedly said that “the best and the brightest” could be found only in business.
  • This denigration of government service continues among Republicans to this day–defaming the very institutions they lust to control.
  • Although he often berated the poor for their “laziness,” Reagan adhered to a “banker’s hours” schedule: During his working hours in the Oval Office, he often had blocks of free time–two to three hours. He would call for his fan mail and answer it.
  • Reagan saw no need to protect America’s fragile environment against corporate polluters, eager to enrich themselves at its expense: “Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”

Reagan famously attacked “welfare queens” and sought to deny government benefits for the poor.  But he didn’t hesitate to enrich himself at public expense.

  • Before his Presidency ended, 18 wealthy Californians contributed $156,000 apiece to buy him a 7,200 square-foot mansion overlooking Beverly Hills.
  • Reagan signed a multi-million dollar deal to write his Presidential memoirs and publish a collection of his speeches.
  • He signed an exclusive contract with a Washington lecture bureau, which paid him $50,000 per speech given in the United States and $100,000 overseas. This made him the highest-paid speaker in the country.
  • These monies came in addition to his Presidential pension of $99,500 a year for life and his $30,000 annual pension as a former governor of California.
  • At a cost to the government of $10 million annually, Reagan–a millionaire who could afford private security–continued to receive lifetime Secret Service protection from 40 fulltime agents.

The “cult of Lenin” died when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The “cult of Reagan” continues to flourish, and will do so for as long as the Republican party finds voters willing to believe in it.

WHY FASCISTS WIN AND LIBERALS LOSE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on April 28, 2016 at 12:01 am

Most Americans believe that Nazi Germany was defeated because “we were the Good Guys and they were the Bad Guys.”

Not so.  

The United States–and its allies, Great Britain and the Soviet Union–won the war for reasons that had nothing to do with the righteousness of their cause.  These included:

  • Nazi Germany–i.e, its Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler–made a series of disastrous decisions. Chief among these: Attacking its ally, the Soviet Union, and declaring war on the United States;
  • The greater material resources of the Soviet Union and the United States; and
  • The Allies waged war as brutally as the Germans.

On this last point:

  • From D-Day to the fall of Berlin, captured Waffen-SS soldiers were often shot out of hand.
  • When American troops came under fire in the German city of Aachen, Lt. Col. Derrill Daniel brought in a self-propelled 155mm artillery piece and opened up on a theater housing German soldiers.  After the city surrendered, a German colonel labeled the use of the 155 “barbarous” and demanded that it be outlawed.

German soldiers at Stalingrad

  • During the battle of Stalingrad in 1942, Wilhelm Hoffman, a young German soldier and diarist, was appalled that the Russians refused to surrender.  He wrote: “You don’t see them at all, they have established themselves in houses and cellars and are firing on all sides, including from our rear–barbarians, they used gangster methods….”

In short: The Allies won because they dared to meet the brutality of a Heinz Guderian with that of a George S. Patton.

This is a lesson that has been totally lost on the liberals of the Democratic Party.

Which explains why they lost most of the Presidential elections of the 20th century.

It also explains why President Barack Obama has found most of his legislative agenda stymied by Right-wing Republicans.

Consider this example: In 2014, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) warned then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) that he would place a hold on one of President Obama’s appellate court nominees.

Rand Paul

David Barron had been nominated to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.  And Paul objected to this because Barron authored memos justifying the killing of an American citizen by a drone in Yemen.

The September 30, 2011 drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric notorious on the Internet for encouraging Muslims to attack the United States.

So President Obama authorized a Predator drone stroke against him, thus removing that danger. Paul demanded that the Justice Department release the memos Barron crafted justifying the drone policy.

Anwar al-Awlaki

Imagine how Republicans would depict Paul–or a Democratic Senator–if he behaved in a similar manner with a Republican President: “Rand Paul: A traitor who supports terrorists.  he sides with America’s sworn enemies against its own lawfully elected President.”

On May 22, 2014, the Senate voted 53–45 to confirm Barron to the First Circuit Court of Appeals.

To Republicans, “lawfully elected” applies only to Republican Presidents. A Democrat who runs against a Republican  is automatically considered a traitor.

And a Democrat who defeats a Republican is automatically considered a usurper, and thus deserves to be slandered and obstructed, if not impeached.

Unable to defeat Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, Republicans tried in 1998 to impeach him for getting oral sex in the White House.

Similarly, 2012 Presidential candidate Herman Cain, asked in a conference call with bloggers why Republicans couldn’t just impeach President Obama, replied:

“That’s a great question and it is a great–it would be a great thing to do but because the Senate is controlled by Democrats we would never be able to get the Senate first to take up that action.”

In Renegade: The Making of a President, Richard Wolffe chronicled Obama’s successful 2008 bid for the White House. Among his revelations:

Obama, a believer in rationality and decency, felt more comfortable in responding to attacks on his character than in making them on the character of his enemies.

A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Obama is easily one of the most academically gifted Presidents in United States history.

But for all this, he failed–from the onset of his Presidency–to grasp and apply this fundamental lesson taught by Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern political science.

In The Prince, Machiavelli warns:

From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or feared more than loved. 

The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved….

And men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared; for love is held by a chain of obligations which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.

On Facebook and Twitter, liberals are already celebrating the “certain” Presidency of Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders or former First Lady Hillary Clinton in 2016.

They forget that, in 1968, 1980, 1988 and 2000, liberals couldn’t believe America would elect, respectively, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

For Democrats to win elective victories and enact their agenda, they must find their own George Patton to take on the Waffen-SS generals among Republican ranks.

“A TEAM PLAYER”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 11, 2016 at 12:04 am

In 1959, J. Edgar Hoover, the legendary director of the FBI, declared war on the Mafia.

He set up a Top Hoodlum Program and encouraged his agents to use wiretapping and electronic surveillance (“bugging”) to make up for lost time and Intelligence.

But Hoover also imposed a series of restrictions that could destroy an agent’s professional and personal life.

William E. Roemer, Jr., assigned to the FBI’s Chicago field office, was one of the first agents to volunteer for such duty.

In his memoirs, Man Against the Mob, published in 1989, Roemer laid out the dangers that went with such work:

  1. If confronted by police or mobsters, agents were to try to escape without being identified.
  2. If caught by police, agents were not to identify themselves as FBI employees.
  3. They were to carry no badges, credentials or guns–or anything else connecting themselves with the FBI.
  4. If they were arrested by police and the truth emerged about their FBI employment, the Bureau would claim they were “rogue agents” acting on their own.
  5. Such agents were not to refute the FBI’s portrayal of them as “rogues.”

 

If he had been arrested by the Chicago Police Department and identified as an FBI agent, Roemer would have:

  1. Definitely been fired from his position as an FBI agent.
  2. Almost certainly been convicted for at least breaking and entering.
  3. Disbarred from the legal profession (Roemer was an attorney).
  4. Perhaps served a prison sentence.
  5. Been disgraced as a convicted felon.
  6. Been unable to serve in his chosen profession of law enforcement.

Given the huge risks involved, many agents, unsurprisingly, wanted nothing to do with “black bag jobs.”

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The agents who took them on were so committed to penetrating the Mob that they willingly accepted Hoover’s dictates.

In 1989, Roemer speculated that former Marine Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North had fallen victim to such a “Mission: Impossible” scenario: “The secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions….”

In 1986, Ronald Reagan’s “arms-for-hostages” deal known as Iran-Contra had been exposed.

To retrieve seven Americans taken hostage in Beirut, Lebanon, Reagan had secretly agreed to sell some of America’s most sophisticated missiles to Iran.

During this operation, several Reagan officials–including North–diverted proceeds from the sale of those missiles to fund Reagan’s illegal war against the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

In Roemer’s view: North had followed orders from his superiors without question. But when the time came for those superiors to step forward and protect him, they didn’t.

They let him take the fall.

Roemer speculated that North had been led to believe he would be rescued from criminal prosecution. Instead, in 1989, he was convicted for

  • accepting an illegal gratuity;
  • aiding and abetting in the obstruction of a congressional inquiry; and
  • ordering the destruction of documents via his secretary, Fawn Hall.

That is how many employers expect their employees to act: To carry out whatever assignments they are given and take the blame if anything goes wrong.

Take the case of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the world’s biggest retailer.

In March, 2005, Wal-Mart escaped criminal charges when it agreed to pay $11 million to end a federal probe into its use of illegal aliens as janitors.

Agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raided 60 Wal-Mart stores across 21 states in October, 2003. The raids led to the arrest of 245 illegal aliens.

Federal authorities had uncovered the cases of an estimated 345 illegal aliens contracted as janitors at Wal-Mart stores.

Many of the workers worked seven days or nights a week without overtime pay or injury compensation. Those who worked nights were often locked in the store until the morning.

According to Federal officials, court-authorized wiretaps revealed that Wal-Mart executives knew their subcontractors hired illegal aliens.

Once the raids began, Federal agents invaded the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., seizing boxes of records from the office of a mid-level executive.

Click here: Wal-Mart Settles Illegal Immigrant Case for $11M | Fox News

Of course, Wal-Mart admitted no wrongdoing in the case. Instead, it blamed its subcontractors for hiring illegal aliens and claiming that Wal-Mart hadn’t been aware of this.

Which, of course, is nonsense.

Just as the FBI would have had no compunctions about letting its agents take the fall for following orders right from the pen of J. Edgar Hoover, Wal-Mart meant to sacrifice its subcontractors for doing precisely what the company’s executives wanted them to do.

The only reason Wal-Mart couldn’t make this work: The Feds had, for once, treated corporate executives like Mafia leaders and had tapped their phones.

Click here: Wal-Mart to review workers – Business – EVTNow

Which holds a lesson for how Federal law enforcement agencies should treat future corporate executives when their companies are found violating the law.

Instead of seeing CEOs as “captains of industry,” a far more realistic approach would be giving this term a new meaning: Corrupt Egotistical Oligarchs.

A smart investigator/prosecutor should always remember:  

Widespread illegal and corrupt behavior cannot happen among the employees of a major government agency or private corporation unless:

  1. Those at the top have ordered it and are profiting from it; or
  2. Those at the top don’t want to know about it and have taken no steps to prevent or punish it.  

That’s something to remember the next time a scandal hits a major corporation or government agency.

 

“A TEAM PLAYER”: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on April 8, 2016 at 12:41 am

Recruiters for corporate America routinely claim they’re looking for “a team player.”

This sounds great–as though the corporation is seeking people who will get along with their colleagues and work to achieve a worthwhile objective.

And, at times, that is precisely what is being sought in a potential employee.

But, altogether too often, what the corporation means by “a team player” is what the Mafia means by “a real standup guy.” 

That is: Someone willing to commit any crime for the organization–and take the fall for its leaders if anything goes wrong.

FBI Chart of Mafia Families during the 1960s

Consider this classic example from the files of America’s premier law enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

On November 14, 1957, 70 top Mafia leaders from across the country gathered at the estate of a fellow gangster, Joseph Barbara, in Apalachin, a small village in upstate New York.

The presence of so many cars with out-of-state license plates converging on an isolated mansion caught the attention of Edgar Crosswell, a sergeant in the New York State Police.

Crosswell assembled as many troopers as he could find, set up roadblocks, and swooped down on the estate.

The mobsters, panicked, fled in all directions–many of them into the surrounding woods.  Even so, more than 60 underworld bosses were arrested and indicted following the raid.

Perhaps the most significant result of the raid was the effect it had on J. Edgar Hoover, the legendary director of the FBI.

J. Edgar Hoover

Up to that point, Hoover had vigorously and vocally denied the existence of a nationwide Mafia. He had been happy to leave pursuit of international narcotics traffickers to his hated rival, Harry Anslinger, director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN).

But he had been careful to keep his own agency well out of the war on organized crime.

Several theories have been advanced as to why.

  1. Hoover feared that his agents–long renowned for their incorruptibility–would fall prey to the bribes of well-heeled mobsters.
  2. Hoover feared that his allegedly homosexual relationship with his longtime associate director, Clyde Tolson, would be exposed by the Mob. Rumors still persist that mobster Meyer Lansky came into possession of a compromising photo of Hoover and Tolson engaged in flagrante delicto
  3. Hoover knew of the ties between moneyed mobsters and their political allies in Congress. Hoover feared losing the goodwill of Congress for future–and ever-larger–appropriations for the FBI.
  4. Hoover preferred flashy, easily-solved cases to those requiring huge investments of manpower and money.

Whatever the reason, Hoover had, from the time he assumed directorship of the FBI in 1924, kept his agents far from the frontlines of the war against organized crime.

Suddenly, however, that was no longer possible.

The arrests of more than 60 known members of the underworld–in what the news media called “a conclave of crime”–deeply embarrassed Hoover.

It was all the more embarrassing that while the FBI had virtually nothing in its files on the leading lights of the Mafia, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics had opened its voluminous files to the Senate Labor Rackets Committee.

Heading that committee as chief legal counsel was Robert F. Kennedy–a fierce opponent of organized crime who, in 1961, would become Attorney General of the United States.

So Hoover created the Top Hoodlum Program (THP) to identify and target selected Mafiosi across the country.

Since the FBI had no networks of informants operating within the Mafia, Hoover fell back on a technique that had worked wonders against the Communist Party U.S.A.

He would wiretap the mobsters’ phones and plant electronic microphones (“bugs”) in their meeting places.

The information gained from these techniques would arm the Bureau with evidence that could be used to strongarm mobsters into “rolling over” on their colleagues in exchange for leniency.

Hoover believed he had authority to install wiretaps because more than one Attorney General had authorized their use.

But no Attorney General had given permission to install bugs–which involved breaking into the places where they were to be placed.  Such assignments were referred to within the Bureau as “black bag jobs.”

So, in making clear to his agent-force that he wanted an unprecedented war against organized crime, Hoover also made clear the following:

Before agents could install electronic surveillance (an ELSUR, in FBI-speak) devices in Mob hangouts, agents had to first request authority for a survey. This would have to establish:

  1. That this was truly a strategic location;
  2. That the agents had a plan of attack that the Bureau could see was logical and potentially successful; and, most importantly of all
  3. That it could be done without any “embarrassment to the Bureau.”

According to former FBI agent William E. Roemer, Jr., who carried out many of these “black bag” assignments:

“The [last requirement] was always Mr. Hoover’s greatest concern: ‘Do the job, by God, but don’t ever let anything happen that might embarrass the Bureau.”

NANCY REAGAN’S RASPUTIN

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics, Social commentary on March 10, 2016 at 12:20 am

Nancy Reagan, widow of Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, died on March 6, at age 94, in Los Angeles, California.

She had survived her husband–who died of Alzheimer’s in 2004–by almost 12 years. Republicans–who have deified Ronald since he left the White House in 1989–rushed to pay tribute to her:  

  • Mitt Romney, 2012 Presidential candidate: “With the passing of Nancy Reagan, God and Ronnie have finally welcomed a choice soul home.”
  • Former President George W. Bush: “Mrs Reagan was fiercely loyal to her beloved husband and that devotion was matched only by her devotion to our country. Her influence on the White House was complete and lasting.”  

Democrats also pitched in: 

  • President Barack Obama: “We remain grateful for Nancy Reagan’s life.”
  • Former President Bill Clinton: “Nancy was an extraordinary woman: a gracious first lady, proud mother and devoted wife to President Reagan – her Ronnie.”  

The Presidency of Ronald W. Reagan consumed eight years of American history: 1981 – 1989. But its legacies continue to haunt us.

On October 21, 2014, Joan Quigley, the woman responsible for one of its most bizarre legacies–government by astrologer–passed away at age 87.

Quigley was the court astrologer to Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

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Ronald and Nancy Reagan

Nancy met Quigley on “The Merve Griffin Show” in 1973.  Quigley gave Nancy–and through her, Reagan himself–astrological advice during the latter’s campaign for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1976.

That effort failed to unseat President Gerald Ford–who was defeated that November by Jimmy Carter. But four years later, in 1980, Reagan defeated Carter to become the 40th President of the United States.

On March 30, 1981, a mentally-disturbed loner named John W. Hinckley shot and critically wounded Reagan. Fixiated on actress Jodie Foster, he believed that by shooting the President he could gain her affection.

For Nancy, the assassination attempt proved a watershed.

Shortly after the shooting, Merv Griffin told her that Quigley had told him: If Nancy had called her on that fateful day, she–Quigley–could have warned that the President’s astrological charts had foretold a bad day.

From that moment on, Nancy made sure to regularly consult Quigley on virtually everything that she and the President intended to do.

When Reagan learned of Nancy’s consultations with Quigley, he warned her: Be careful, because it might look odd if it came out.

Many–if not most–of these calls from the White House to Quigley’s office in San Francisco were made on non-secure phone lines.  

Joan Quigley

This meant that foreign powers–most notably the Soviet Union and Communist China–could have been privy to Reagan’s most secret intentions.

Nancy passed on Quigley’s suggestions as commands to Donald Regan, chief of the White House staff.

As a result, Regan kept a color-coded calendar on his desk to remember when the astrological signs were good for the President to speak, travel, or negotiate with foreign leaders: Green ink highlighted “good” days; red ink “bad” days; yellow ink “iffy” days.

Donald Regan, no fan of Nancy’s, chafed under such restrictions: “Obviously, this list of dangerous or forbidden dates left very little latitude for scheduling,” he later wrote.

Forced out of the White House in 1987 by Nancy, Regan struck back in a 1988 tell-all memoir: For the Record: From Wall Street to Washington.

In 1988, after her secret role in the Reagan White House was revealed, Quigley told the Associated Press that she was a “serious, scientific astrologer.”

Regan’s book revealed, for the first time, how Ronald Reagan had actually made his Presidential decisions.

All–including decisions to risk nuclear war with the Soviet Union–were based on a court astrologer’s horoscopesRationality and the best military intelligence available played a lesser, secondary role.

The last major world leader to turn to the supernatural for advice had been Russian Czar Nicholas II. His adviser had been Grigori Rasputin, a Siberian peasant whom Empress Alexandra believed was the only man who could save her hemophiliac son–and heir to the throne.

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Grigori Rasputin

In 1990, Quigley confirmed the allegations in an autobiography, What Does Joan Say?: My Seven Years As White House Astrologer to Nancy and Ronald Reagan.

The title came from the question that Ronald Reagan asked Nancy before making important decisions–including those that could risk the destruction of the United States.

Among the successes Quigley took credit for: 

  • Strategies for winning the Presidential elections of 1980 and 1984;
  • Helping Nancy Reagan overhaul her image as a spoiled rich girl;
  • Defusing the controversy over Reagan’s visiting a graveyard for SS soldiers in Bitburg, Germany;
  • Pursuing “Star Wars” as a major part of his strategy against the Soviet Union;
  • The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty;
  • Protecting Reagan from would-be assassins through timely warnings to Nancy; and
  • Moving Reagan from seeing the Soviet Union as the “Evil Empire” to accepting Mikhail Gorbachev as a peace-seeking leader.

Thirty-five years after he became President, Ronald Reagan remains the most popular figure among Republicans. His name is constantly invoked by Right-wing candidates, while his deliberately-crafted myth is held up as the example of Presidential greatness.

Still, a number of precedents of the Reagan administration–like government by astrologer–might lend themselves to easy abuse. Thus, voters should consider this carefully before elevating “another Reagan” to the Presidency.  

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