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McCain & Palin — Palling Around with Terrorists** While Rome Burns

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Perhaps if the media hadn’t let McCain spend the first half of this year skating, unscathed, across the surface of the Obama-Clinton fracas, people might have noticed long before September that the McCain platform has nothing to offer but a thinly disguised repeat of the Bush-Cheney agenda. Perhaps, had McCain been acting, well, presidential all along, he wouldn’t find himself in the position he’s in today: backed into a corner with nothing to offer the American people but an ugly smear campaign, his only hope being that he can convince us that his opponent is a terrorist.

This tactic has played particularly ugly over the past several days, as we’ve watched McCain & Palin wage their scathing fearmongering tactics from the stump, whipping their audiences into hate-filled frenzies, punctuated with cries and jeers of “Kill him!” and “Terrorist!”

Um…. And just who’s the terrorist in this equation?

I watch a lot of news, and I read even more, so I was among the first to hear the unveiling of the new McCain-Palin campaign strategy this past weekend: “We are looking forward to turning a page on this financial crisis and getting back to discussing Mr. Obama’s aggressively liberal record and how he will be too risky for Americans.”

I heard that loud and clear. But what I didn’t hear from either McCain or Palin was a statement of condolence to Joe Biden on the passing of his mother-in-law. Nor did I hear either candidate pause during their hate-filled stump dictums to comment on yesterday’s plummeting Stock Market numbers. Nor did I hear any mention of the victims of this financial disaster — those suffering the collateral damage from this 8-year long financial orgy on Wall Street: the family of six in Los Angeles, all dead; and Addie Polk, the 90-year old woman in Ohio who, in despair, shot herself in the chest as sheriff’s deputies came to evict her from her home of 38 years. 

Yeah, I’ve heard of lot of things said over the past week, but nothing in the way of solutions, hope or even a modicum of compassion from the McCain-Palin ticket. Just a lot of nasty lies, smears, character assassinations and hate-mongering, that can only serve to tear this country apart even further, at a time when we so desperately need capable leaders with the wisdom, intelligence and temperament to lead us in a direction of hope and healing.    

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This is a human face for a great national tragedy. — Dennis Kucinich, speaking on behalf of Addie Polk, whose foreclosure has been dismissed, thanks to the efforts of Congressman Kucinich, October 3, 2008

Neighbor Robert Dillon, 62, used a ladder to enter a second-story bathroom window of Polk’s home (left) after he and the deputies heard loud noises inside. He hurried downstairs and let the deputies in. He said they told him they found Polk’s car keys, pocketbook and life insurance policy laid out neatly where they could be found, suggesting she intended to kill herself. — CNN News report, October 3, 2008

Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country. — Sarah Palin, speaking on Barack Obama, October 4, 2008

Two things are important now. No. 1, that the administration uses the authority that it’s been given wisely. So we have to make sure that Secretary Paulson and others are structuring the purchase of these…troubled assets in a way that protects taxpayers. That’s very important. The second thing we have to do is we’ve gotta make sure that homeowners are benefiting. Now the Treasurer has authority to work with the modification of mortgages to prevent foreclosure. He’s supposed to come up with plans to do that. I want those plans on tap quick so that we start getting some relief to homeowners out in neighborhoods. The final thing is understanding that even if this rescue package works exactly as it should it’s only the beginning. It’s not the end because we still have 150,000 [sic; it was 159,000] new people who’ve lost their jobs this month, 750,000 people since the beginning of this year. — Barack Obama, October 4, 2008

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** And Speaking of Terrorists….

From the standpoint of a presidential campaign, slinging crap willy-nilly all over your opponent carries both benefits and risks. It draws crowds, for sure. But there’s always the risk of some kid wandering up and saying something wise, like, “What’s that brown stuff all over the emperor’s face?” In this spirit, I offer the following links, from which you can draw your own conclusions.

Huffington Post: McCain linked to private group in Iran-Contra case – GOP presidential nominee John McCain has past connections to a private group that supplied aid to guerrillas seeking to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra affair. McCain’s ties are facing renewed scrutiny after his campaign criticized Barack Obama for his link to a former radical who engaged in violent acts 40 years ago. The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe.

Huffington Post: Why McCain’s time with the U.S. Council for World Freedom matters – The USCWF was founded in Phoenix, Arizona in November 1981 as an offshoot of the World Anti-Communist League. The group was, from the onset, saddled with the disreputable reputation of its parent group. The WACL had ties to ultra-right figures and Latin American death squads. Roger Pearson, the chairman of the WACL, was expelled from the group in 1980 under allegations that he was a member of a neo-Nazi organization.

Think Progress: McCain voted to protect domestic terrorists who carry out violence at abortion clinics – McCain has repeatedly voted against protecting Americans from domestic terrorists in the anti-choice movement. On multiple occasions throughout his career, McCain sought to limit the government’s ability to punish violent anti-choice fanatics.

ABOVE: Sarah addresses the Alaska Independence Party (AIP or AKIP) Convention in this video. Sarah and Todd Palin formerly “palled around” with the Alaska Independence Party (AIP), a militia party that seeks to have Alaska secede from the union, as either an independent country or a commonwealth. The McCain campaign denies Sarah’s involvement with this radical political party, citing as evidence the (true) fact that Sarah has been a registered Republican since 1982. This does not explain or negate the fact that she and Todd nonetheless have a history of “palling around” with this group. Todd was a member of this party from 1995 to 2002, until Sarah assumed the duties as Mayor of Wasilla.

ABOVE: The McCain party’s denial of Sarah Palin’s involvement with this group conradicts statements made by its leader, Dexter Clark, in the October 2007 video, above, starting at 1:01.  (For a longer version of this video, see here, with the Palin quote starting at 6:00.)  Dexter Clarks’s speech was delivered at the 2nd Secessionist Convention, in Tennessee, in October 2007. Below is a quote from this speech.   

Our current governor, who I mentioned in our last conference — the one we were hoping would get elected, Sarah Palin, did get elected. There’s a joke, she’s a pretty good looking gal. The joke goes around that we were the coldest state with the hottest governor. And there’s a lot of talk about her moving up. She was an AIP member before she got the job as a mayor of a small town, that was a non-partisan job, but you get along as you go along. She eventually jointed the Rebublican Party where she had all kinds of problems with their ethics, and, uh,  I won’t go into that. She also has an 80% aproval rating, and is pretty well sympathetic to her former membership.

 More links on Sarah:    

The Consortium Report: Sarah Palin’s Party Loyalty –  You may have heard that she once belonged to a political party, the Alaska Independence Party, which sports the occasional mission of establishing Alaska as its own country…. Leaders of the G.O.P. and the religious right have vowed to stick with her. But what if she supported a third party that’s bent on smashing up the Republican Party? Or one with links to militia groups? Would she still look like your garden-variety church lady to the Republican Party pooh-bahs?

Talk to Action: The Council for National Policy Meets in Minn, Vets Palin –Last week, while the media focused almost obsessively on the DNC’s spectacle in Denver, the country’s most influential conservatives met quietly at a hotel in downtown Minneapolis to get to know Sarah Palin. The assembled were members of the Council for National Policy, an ultra-secretive cabal that networks wealthy right-wing donors together with top conservative operatives to plan long-term movement strategy.

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Sarah Palin: A Drunkard’s Dream

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Yesterday, I had the privilege of being interviewed on Indie Talk’s’ “The Blog Bunker” on Sirius radio — a nifty show that whets & feeds the appetites of political bloggers, junkies and newbies alike. (p.s. Kudos and thanks to Alexandra and Joe!) Anyway, it struck me as odd that I could experience stage fright in the absence of a stage. I was also surprised to discover I have something in common with Sarah Palin, besides my ability to mangle the English language in front of a world audience. I now know, first-hand, how Sarah Palin must feel after an interview. Oh, the things I would do differently, if I had it to do all over again.  

I wish the interview had been a dress rehearsal, and I could do it again today, because (aside from wishing I could edit out the 100 or so times I said, “you know”) there are a few things I wish I had said. Mostly, I wish I’d brought up the oh-so-boring topic of voter fraud and disenfranchisement, which makes moot the quaint idea that our votes have anything whatsoever to do with electing the president. I wish that — while I had a captive audience — I’d mentioned the vile tactics and trickery being used, as we speak, by the McCain campaign and the Republican Party to commit voter fraud — a campaign that is even more dishonest, reckless and reprehensible than their presidential campaign, if such a thing is possible. 

But I also wish I’d been more clear in my criticism of Sarah Palin during our discussion of the poll numbers. More to the point: I wish I’d been more succinct in my criticism of the national stupidity that could embrace a candidate like Sarah Palin. Because — make no mistake — Sarah Palin is not the problem. The polls make this clear. The problem is that 40-something percent of Americans say they would actually vote for a candidate like Sarah Palin.  

Presidential Politics: Dancing with the Stars meets American Idol (p.s. How do I phone in my vote?)

We touched on this in the interview, when I griped about the media’s paparazzi-style coverage of this campaign (pure fluff and controversy — which, before the Wall Street crisis, was 24-7 Sarah Palin) with a dearth of substantive coverage on the actual issues of this campaign. The network ratings mirror the polls, which make clear that this is exactly what the American public wants. Interestingly, these same numbers are reflected within the tiny realm of this very blog. People read about Sarah Palin, almost to the exclusion of anything else.

 

As evidence, my own posts on Sarah Palin have been read 1300% more than ALL of the following topics COMBINED: Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Dick Cheney, George Bush, John McCain, Aafia Siddiqui, Bruce Ivins/anthrax, patriotism, the truth about the Bush Administration on illegal torture, detainment, secret prisoners, the desecration of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, propaganda, wiretapping and spying on U.S. citizens, 9-11, the Iraq War and Afghanistan wars, Georgia-Ossetia, plus all the covert U.S. wars throughout the world. Granted, many of the readers are people like me: incredulous, horror-striken, praying for some god-out-of-the-machine turn of events that will put an end to the nightmare-specter of a McCain-Palin presidency.     

 

If I were a business, I’d be out of business, without Sarah Palin.

So it only makes sense that the media would cover Sarah Palin to the near-exclusion of everything else. This is why we don’t see substantive, in-depth coverage of the actual issues. This is why we don’t see longer clips of speeches, or more in-depth discussions with the candidates. This is why the media has not played a real role in forging a national dialogue on the issues. This is why most Americans — if asked — would be hard-pressed to actually explain the platform issues of their chosen candidate. Such topics make people’s teeth hurt.

In yesterday’s interview, I said that most Americans actually know very little about their candidate of choice. John McCain, for example. Most Americans — if asked to tell everything they know about John McCain — would be hard-pressed to offer more than, “He was a POW and he’s a maverick.” If asked for specifics on his platform and his legislative record, they’d draw a blank. The same is true for Obama, except for the lies, which the media have abrogated their duty to correct. Too, I’d hazard to guess that most Americans know more about Sarah Palin’s ex-brother-in-law than they do about Joe Biden.

A newer, “betterer” America: diplomacy is wimpy and real people don’t use big words.

This is a direct result of the “dummying-down” of our national dialogue over the past 8 years. It’s gotten so bad that the candidate who brings actual presidential qualities to his candidacy is jeered as being elitist. The candidate who has consistently shown a level-headed, nuanced, intelligent and unwaveringly deliberate and methodical approach to addressing the serious problems we face as a nation, is seen as being weak. He’s called ‘professorial,’ as if this were somehow a bad thing. Meanwhile, the candidate with the erratic, kamikaze approach to problem-solving, who consistently lies, distorts the facts, fearmongers, bullies, blusters, and shows a flagrant ignorance of the facts, and can’t even debate the issues with a leader of his own country without losing his temper and saying “horseshit” (or worse) is seen as being strong. The candidate who brought us Sarah Palin is seen as being the better-known quantity…. Hmm.

Our country is suffering from a fatal disease. While the pathology is as invasive and malignant as any cancer, I would liken it more to alcoholism: we are determined to self-destruct by our own hand. Maybe this is a good thing. As any former gutter drunk could tell you, you have to hit utter rock bottom before you get desperate enough to change. Lucky for us, I suppose, we’ve almost arrived.

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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Related reading:

Huffington Post: Why the Debates Won’t Matter (Hint: It’s a Felony)

The Rise & Fall of McCain-Palin: A Shakespearean Tale of Junked Mavericks and Junkyard Dogs

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The mavericks have surely seen better days. It’s difficult to say which candidate is more guilty of wrecking the ticket’s facade of competence:  Her oily highness, whose primary role on the ticket, thus far, has been to smile, pose for pictures and recite bumper sticker slogans while simultaneously thumbing her nose at media questions, ethics investigations and subpoenas? Or the main maverick, who simply can’t help himself, as — in times of both crisis and calm, either of which offers golden opportunities to ‘act’ presidential — he instead shows his true colors, behaving, in the words of George Will, “like a flustered rookie, playing in a league too high”?

Grinning from ear-to-ear, the cats who swallowed the canary

One thing is for sure, the McCain-Palin ticket is a walking, talking wreck, and it’s only a matter of time before enough people say, “Enough!” It can’t happen soon enough for me. I, for one, will not miss their jubilant smiles from the campaign stump — those cat-who-swallowed-the-canary grins as they secretly gloat at their daily success of pawning a counterfeit platform full of lies onto another credulous crowd. Nor will I miss the cheers, jeers, hisses and chants of their lie-guzzling fans — their appetites perpetually whetted for cheap, dirty campaign slogans and smears, yet devoid of a hunger for truth and substance.  

 

This is what junkyard dogs do: they curl their lips into a vicious snarl, teeth bared, ready to sink their teeth into someone’s flesh. Friend or foe, it doesn’t much matter. Junkyard dogs will as easily lick the hand that feeds them one day, as they will bite it the next. And sometimes it’s hard to tell a grin from a snarl. To be sure, between McCain and Palin, there’s enough slobber and lies to foul the national dialogue for another 41 days. 

The history books may one day accurately record the demise of the McCain-Palin ticket as the logical conclusion of fiery rhetoric colliding with an even fierier reality. Facts are facts: reality always (eventually) trumps illusion, and truth always (eventually) trumps lies. But I’m hoping for a more timely arrival of the truth this election season. The good news for Americans is that, this year, we see some promise that truth may actually arrive on time, in its own time, instead of post-election, when it’s far too late to be of any use.

At the same time, I’ve become too wise to hope too much, too soon. I’ve seen enough over the past 8 years to know that anything (anything) is possible. “Enough” has yet to be enough. For the next 41 days, there still remains the possibility/likelihood of a September surprise or an October event of such magnitude that Americans would again be blinded by fear and panic (I’ve seen it happen) into doing something reckless (I’ve seen it happen) like appointing another fox to guard the henhouse — or, in this case, electing a pair of junkyard dogs to restore the finer points of truth, law, order, justice, humanity and scruples to our American government. 

No doubt about it: the mavericks have seen better days. And today — for all their strutting and fretting, their sound and fury — the two of them are poised mid-air in the jaws of the forlift. All that remains is for the American people to push the “HELL NO” lever on the McCain-Palin ticket and send their mangled platform to the polical junkyard where it belongs. Below is some tangible evidence for those who, like me, are in sore need of hope that, this time around, things will be different: truth will indeed trump lies, before it’s too late to matter. My perusal of the past week’s headlines, alone, has given much fodder for hope.

HOW ABOUT THAT SARAH?

Ever hear of an American political candidate barring the press outright? Well, to be fair, the McCain team didn’t completely block the press. The rules were: cameras yes, journalists no. This was, after all, a photo-op. Sarah’s whirlwind diplomatic tour this week — designed to dispel ugly rumors that she’s not ready to handle world affairs — is instead confirming what we already know: the McCain campaign doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of convincing any but the dumbest and most gullible of Americans that Sarah Palin is qualified to even act as mayor of Wasilla or the governor of Alaska, much less as vice-president or (gulp) president of the United States. Still, the McCain team perisists in erecting a facade, of sorts. Hence, the gag order on Sarah Palin’s mouth, juxtaposed with pics galore from carefully staged photo-ops. This manipulation of the press, by barring reporters access to a candidate, is unprecedented — not just in presidential politics, but in the entire history of American politics. Even Fox News was at a loss to pretty this one up: 

There’s not once chance that Governor Palin would have to answer a question. … They’re eliminating even the chance of any kind of interaction with the candidate — it’s just unprecedented.

To be fair, the media were officially allowed 29 seconds in the presence of her oily highness, in which they were able to glean a glimpse of Sarah’s foreign policy finesse during her meeting with Afghanistan president, Hamid Karzai, with their dialogue — from beginning to end — duly reported by the New York Times

“What is his name?” Ms. Palin was heard to ask, referring to the birth of Karzai’s first child least year. 

“Mirwais,” Mr. Karzai replied. “Mirwais, which means, ‘The Light of the House.'”

“Oh nice,” Palin responded.

“He is the only one we have,” Mr. Karzai said.

 

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GEORGE WILL COMMENTS ON McCAIN’S TEMPERAMENT

McCain was his own worst enemy last week as, in desperation, he impulsively mis-fired one sure-fire gaffe after another. George Will commented on this Sunday, then again yesterday, in the Washington Post

Under the pressure of the financial crisis, one presidential candidate is behaving like a flustered rookie playing in a league too high. It is not Barack Obama…. For McCain, politics is always operatic, pitting people who agree with him against those who are “corrupt” or “betray the public’s trust,” two categories that seem to be exhaustive — there are no other people…. 

Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either….. It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

SAM DONALDSON ON McCAIN’S DEREGULATION HYPOCRISY & THE INFLUENCE OF AGE

Sam Donaldson , equally unimpressed with John McCain’s “presidential” presence and economic finesse, commented on McCain’s two-decade-long support for deregulation (which McCain quickly flipped into a newfound criticism of deregulation last week):   

The question is, who in this crisis looked more presidential, calm and unflustered? It wasn’t John McCain….His talking points have gotten all mixed up and I think the question of age is back on the table. 

We deregulated in the beginning of ’99 and 2000 the banking industry, Phil Gramm and others, I think that Obama ad is correct. He was one of the prime movers. Now we’re going to have to clean that up at great expense. So I mean, I think for John McCain, though, who has the heaviest burden here, since he voted for all the deregulation, for him to now say he would be the toughest re-regulator is kind of a hard thing to swallow.”

(PHOTO, LEFT) McCain at an appearance this summer with Phil Gramm, his long-time financial adviser and campaign co-chair (until this past July). As one of the architects of the deregulation and decapitated laws that have so crippled Wall Street, Phil’s name has become a household word, as well as a favorite four-letter word.  

SPEAKING OF DEREGULATION….

Shooting himself in both feet, Sen. John “I’m-always-for-less-regulation” McCain penned an article for the September-October issue of Contingency, wherein, he makes a case for maverick-style health care reform. Paul Krugman brought this article to public attention yesterday, drawing our focus to one particularly disturbing passage, in which McCain presses for a “freer market” for health coverage, making the argument that health insurance would benefit from the same sort of innovation enjoyed by the deregulated banking industry. In McCain’s own words:

Opening up the health insurance market to more vigorous nationwide competition, as we have done over the last decade in banking, would provide more choices of innovative products less burdened by the worst excesses of state-based regulation.

Oh, if only McCain could eat his own words, erase them from the annals of history…. Then maybe his campaign’s recent deathbed conversion to anti-regulation would be believable, and his recent attacks, blaming Obama (instead of deregulation) for the Wall Street crisis wouldn’t be so laughable. 

 

AND SPEAKING OF PAUL KRUGMAN…

In a recent NYT op-ed piece titled, “Blizzard of Lies,” Krugman sees the McCain-Palin campaign’s smears and lies as bellwethers of what they’d bring to the presidency. 

How a politician campaigns tells you a lot about how he or she would govern….The Obama campaign is wrong to suggest that a McCain-Palin administration would just be a continuation of Bush-Cheney. If the way John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning is any indication, it would be much, much worse.

BUT I THINK SHAKESPEARE SAID IT BEST, SOME 400 YEARS AGO:

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, 
Signifying nothing.

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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FOREIGN POLICY ALERT: Sarah Palin’s Dance Card is Filling Up!

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The society pages are all abuzz with the announcement of Sarah Palin’s impending debut into the glamorous world of foreign policy. According to today’s edition of Pakistan’s Daily Times, Sarah Palin will be two-stepping with several world leaders this week, including Presidents George W. Bush, Asif Ali Zardari and Hamid Karzai (of the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan, respectively), along with other as-yet-unnamed dignitaries at the United Nations General Assembly. (note: see 9/23 update, below!) We will surely hear more of this in the days to come and look forward to hearing Sarah’s Palin’s tall tales on the series of secret U.S. missile attacks and the U.S.-led cross-border ground assault in Pakistan’s Tribal areas, as well any statements she may make in the fashion world. (What will she wear? And where ever did she get that fabulous polar bear lapel pin? It’s simply to die for!)

 

 

On a more serious note, we continue to be concerned that, with Sarah’s busy schedule these days, she’ll hardly have time to rehearse for her upcoming debate with Joe Biden. From what we understand, the Cliff Notes on this meeting are a real bear. We trust that the moderators will be kind to Sarah, showing her the proper deference and, perhaps, offering some gentle, behind-the-scenes coaching beforehand, as it would hardly be fair to expect Sarah to be as knowledgeable as a man who has, for goodness sakes, spent the past 3 decades meeting with foreign dignitaries and serving as a statured leader and advisor in American foreign policy.

 

We are also concerned that some might accuse Sarah of being “presumptious,” by acting in a “presidential capacity,” in Friday’s meetings, as they fall on the heels of Barack Obama’s “presidential-style world tour, during which foreign leaders and American generals lined up to show him affection.” While Obama was most assuredly being presumptuous (our sincere thanks to John McCain for kindly pointing this out to us), it is an entirely different matter with Sarah. To those who would seek to paint Sarah with the same brush as Obama, we must insist: It’s not the same thing. It’s just not the same at all. We can’t be any plainer than that. We trust that clear heads will prevail.

9/23/2008 UPDATE! More names on Sarah’s Dance Card! Word has it that Sarah aspires to condense a 30-year whirlwind world tour into a mere 3 days. At this rate, she’ll need a new dance card! We have no doubt that, by week’s end, she will be ready to knock America’s socks off with her charm and her sound grasp of world events!

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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