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June 13, 2008

“Dog-whistling so loudly that it’s vibrating the windows”
Posted by Patrick at 07:17 AM * 108 comments

John Scalzi serves up the rantage, fresh and piping-hot. A classic, already being linked to from far and wide.

Comments on "Dog-whistling so loudly that it's vibrating the windows":
#1 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 08:23 AM:

Look, you know the sort of stuff I sometimes do with pictures,

The idea of one of these lasses getting annoyed with the reputation Fox News is giving them is just so tempting.

#2 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 08:42 AM:

Scalzi is on the front page of Daily Kos now.

#3 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 08:50 AM:

she’s about as familiar with logical thinking as a rainbow trout is with knitting

It warms the snail looking valves of my heart.

#4 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 09:15 AM:

And this was a rather jejeune 'joke' on 'Obama', worthy of the schoolyard bullies of our youth.

#5 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 09:30 AM:

...the schoolyard bullies of our youth.

Which now explains what the FOX News HR department was doing at my playground.

#6 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 09:53 AM:

The horrible thing is this: we're still in the early stages. They're just getting warmed up.

#7 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 09:57 AM:

So, what have y'all got planned to do for the day Obama is shot dead while campaigning?

(I very much hope that doesn't happen, but consider the odds of it not happing rather low.)

Going into shock for a week is almost certainly not a helpful response.

#8 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:03 AM:

This election will be a gift to ethologists everywhere. What other example of poo-flinging monkeys is as clear and well-recorded as this? And they even record it for us!

#9 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:06 AM:

#7 Graydon: So, what have y'all got planned to do for the day Obama is shot dead while campaigning?

"How about a little something to lower your spirits?"[1]

Well, in the event such a terrible thing happens, I guess we will find some way to go on in spite of it.

What else, after all, would you suggest we do?

[1] Just happened to be watching that movie last night...

#10 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:07 AM:

From Malkin's blog (no, I won't link):

"Is there some sort of saboteur on the Fox copy edit team? Because whoever wrote the stupid “baby mama” chyron at the beginning here, especially so soon after E.D. Hill’s “terrorist fist jab” remark, is simply begging for trouble....Update/correction (Michelle): In the clip, I mention Salon as one of the left-wing websites that has published criticism of Michelle Obama. I meant Slate. My bad."

Now that's what I call taking responsibility for important errors. /sarcasm.

Bleah. Mall Ninjas are classier and more tasteful than this §&!?*.

#11 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:13 AM:

Keith @ 5... Your playground was infested only with their HR department?

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:16 AM:

Fox News apparently considers that the use of the phrase was 'poor judgment'. I suppose they're also saying that the upper Midwest is currently slightly damp.

#13 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:21 AM:

Well, at least in this election having a little black child run down towards Obama on the podium yelling, "Daddy!", won't have quite the impact it did when the target was a white politician.

Which raises a very interesting question. Did Bush kiss Rove off so publicly so that he and the RNC and the party could have deniability if/when Rove is caught running some really rancid dirty op against Obama?

#14 ::: John Chu ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:23 AM:

#6: Yes, they're just getting warmed up. The outrage to their dirty slam is not nearly large enough.

#7: This is morbid, but surely, the DNC has already thought about this scenario?

You know, one of the reasons I haven't been paying much attention to this election cycle is because whenever I do, I keep imagining ways that a Great White Male Hope may sweep in to "save" the Democratic Party. (I'm not opposed to white, male presidential candidates. I've voted for several in my lifetime. However, especially in a campaign season where no white male mounted a viable campaign for the Democratic nomination, it would, as an understatement, be galling to be "saved" thus, even without any loss of life.)

I may fall into the "shock for a week" column. Fortunately, my reaction is not especially important.

#15 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:23 AM:

Serge @ 11

"I think I have a cream for that!"

#17 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:35 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 15... I wish.

#18 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:36 AM:

Graydon #7: I'm trying to think of a more destructive thing that could happen to the US in this presidential campaign, but somehow, nothing's coming to mind. In practice, I guess either the Democratic party would decide on a new nominee, or the VP candidate would advance to become the presidential candidate--I assume there are written rules about this, in which case they should be visibly followed to the letter. But the impact of that would be genuinely awful on a lot of fronts.

#19 ::: j h woodyatt ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:47 AM:

"So, what have y'all got planned to do for the day Obama is shot dead while campaigning?"

I plan to start blowing up bridges, buildings and critical infrastructure, and issuing declarations to the effect that the attacks will continue until the murderer is captured and indicted!

Hmmm. On second thought, maybe that isn't the most productive response...

#20 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:57 AM:

Serge @11: It was equal parts Fox News HR and Yale legacies-in-training. A nice dovetail of desperation and idiocy. The monkey bars where the liberal hideout but only because the other kids were afraid of anything made in china.

#21 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 11:20 AM:

Graydon, do you have anything in mind?

All that I can think of is to have a eulogy/editorial written in advance so that it can just be edited and updated rather than having to write it from scratch (actually not get around to it) when I'm in shock, but that doesn't seem terribly helpful.

#22 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 11:26 AM:

albatross @ 18

Shouldn't raise questions like that in groups like this. Charlie Stross challenged his blog readers to come up with practical and effective terrorist actions last year as research for a book, and they did. One of them cost almost nothing except the lives of a few operatives (just groceries, gas, and ammo) and was a classic high-profile terrorist activity.

So what could be worse for the country than Barack Obama being assassinated a couple of weeks before the election? How about Barack Obama being arrested by DHS for "suspicion of terrorist activities" and renndered extremely to Egypt or Morocco before anyone finds out? Then the election is "postponed" for the duration of the "emergency", and George Bush gets to stay in office long enough to start a war with Kazakhstan too.

jh woodyatt @ 19

I wouldn't bother with the declarations. They'd figure it out after a few loud bangs. So what possible "productive" response is there to such a situation?

#23 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 11:50 AM:

Nancy, no, I don't have anything in mind.

It does seem like something that is both much too likely under the circumstances and which would benefit from careful pre-thinking and discussion.

There are still people quite traumatized by either Kennedy assassination, a US court recently found that the CIA really did assassinate Martin Luther King Jr., and it doesn't seem like the Secret Service is doing its job in respect to Senator Obama.

So the one thing I'm quite sure about is that going into shock for a week is the wrong response; the forces of darkness will be doing their celebratory drinking in the saddle.

#24 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 11:55 AM:

#23 Graydon: ...and it doesn't seem like the Secret Service is doing its job in respect to Senator Obama.

Whoa. Is this in reference to any particular or specific behavior, or lack thereof, on the part of the Secret Service?

#25 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 12:01 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 22 Terrible as this may make me sound... Do you have a link to that post? Now I'm curious.

#26 ::: Dylan O'Donnell ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 12:09 PM:

Michael Weholt @24: This sort of thing, maybe?

#27 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 12:12 PM:

Dylan, Michael --

Just that sort of thing.

Also, a former Secret Service agent who happens to have been a)black and b)framed (or at least claims to be) to get him to shut up was recently released from prison; one of the things he noted was that the Secret Service was actively racist as an organization. I seriously doubt that's changed; it takes committed and focused leadership to do that, and no arm of the US government has had that consistently on that subject.

#28 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 12:26 PM:

Graydon #27: The guys protecting Obama will have a huge personal incentive not to be the ones who drop the ball and let someone get him, and the whole SS has a huge institutional incentive to protect him. I suspect their personal feelings toward him, whatever they are, are much less powerful than those incentives in determining whether he gets good protection.

#29 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 12:39 PM:

Graydon @7 -- "But the language is that of Mordor, which I will not utter here." I can't help thinking, very superstitiously and irrationally, that saying it calls it into being. So I don't say it even though it haunts me.

My mother prayed hard the night Obama won enough delegates to put him over the top. She was remembering Robert F. Kennedy.

She carried on after 1968 though. If this is my 1968, so will I.

#30 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 01:17 PM:

Speaking of the Obama campaign, they have put together a "Fight the Smears" web page to counter the right's lies. The most refreshing part is that they call them lies.

#31 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 01:32 PM:

It's good to read a masterwork of the Craft. Thank you for the link!

#32 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 01:38 PM:

Graydon at 7, does Taking it to the streets sound familiar? Trouble is, I have no idea who I would throw bricks at or what good it would do.

I've feared that from the beginning. But it will not happen.

#33 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 02:38 PM:

If Obama gets assassinated, I'd bet Hillary, as the runner-up, gets the nod. You might call that insurance of a sort....

More to the point, I suspect that would be enough to put anyone the Democrats nominated into office -- and they'd have all the tools they needed for a general purge of the GOP appointees.

#34 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:09 PM:

Corollary: the Secret Service has a bunch of racial discrimination employment lawsuits pending against it.

I do think the agents charged with guarding candidates ought to be and probably are doubly worried about Obama's vulnerability.

#35 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:28 PM:

Lizzy L, I think taking it to the streets, at least in any kind of organized and purposeful way, is a highly unlikely option.

The question is, what should we be ready to do if the unthinkable happens? Demand accountability for the perpetrator, certainly. Beyond that, what? Maybe the best thing to do would be to immediately get out there with signs, banners, T-shirts, and flyers proclaiming that the messages of the campaign will live on even if the messenger doesn't.

Lay in some posterboard and paint, I guess. And printer paper. And maybe work up some PDFs for flyers that could be shared with the world on short notice. And YouTube videos, and blog posts.

I don't know. I don't think it's something that we should be spending too much time on. But I think Graydon's right that thinking about this ahead of time -- even if one considers the likelihood very low -- is preferable to being caught flat-footed.

#36 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:37 PM:

Michael @39
What movie is that? I don't recognize the line.

#37 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:44 PM:

#36 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:37 PM:

Michael @39
What movie is that? I don't recognize the line.

Agghhhhh!!! Messages from the future! Oh Noez!

#38 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 03:53 PM:

That would be why none of us recognize the movie... yet.

#39 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 04:09 PM:

Fade Manley @ 25

I'll try to find that posting tonight. The nanny filter at work has decided I'm not allowed to see Charlie's blog today (no problem with it yesterday). "It is a bad day to blog!"

Jen Roth @ 35
Demand accountability for the perpetrator, certainly.

ISTM the most likely scenario for an assassination goes something like this:

1. Assassin puts 2 or 3 bullets into Obama, killing him, or wounding him critically.

2. Secret Service agents empty several clips into assassin, killing him (probably a white male, 25-40 years old).

3. Secret Service agents search the body, find evidence (real or manufactured, your choice) that he was either a lone gunman, or was working for a far-left radical organization (remember Oswald? He was both).

4. Cheney and Bush go on TV from their respective bunkers demanding extraordinary powers to go after the conspirators. If Congress agrees, or if Bush doesn't wait for them, Bush declares martial law and uses emergency powers to postpone the election and make tax cuts permanent.

5. Right-wing talk radio spreads the story that Obama was killed by his Islamofascist masters for refusing to go along with their plans to kill millions of Americans, thereby damning and praising him at the same time.

6. Newspapers run editorials deploring Obama's death but breathing a sigh of relief that now we won't have "the wrong sort" in the White House.

7. Business as usual; Halliburton stock up 5%.

#40 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 04:35 PM:

Well, I'm not saying we would demand accountability in any effective way (we haven't for any of this administration's many crimes); I'm just saying we should.

Given the recent Supreme Court decision that even "terrorists" have habeus corpus rights, I don't think Bush can actually get away with unilaterally declaring martial law. Of course, it's a sign of how low we've sunk that I even have to qualify that statement.

#41 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 05:05 PM:

Jen at 40, first he'd have to bring the National Guard back from Iraq.

Martial law??????? With the number of free-floating guns that exist in this country? I can just see my good Christian neighbors standing for that -- not.

#42 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 05:27 PM:

In the words of John Adams, Good God. Could they get any more overt?

#43 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 06:00 PM:

Lee 42: the really disturbing thing about that isn't that it's racist, but that they don't seem to be at all ashamed of it being racist.

#44 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 07:48 PM:

Here's some help on that movie, just cuz it beats talking about people getting shot:

"Parker, what do you think? Your staff just follows you around and says, 'Right!' He's like a regular parrot."

"Yeah, shape up. What are you? Some kind of parrot?"

"Right."

"Aw, come on. Knock it off! Kane is going to have to go into quarantine and that's it."

"Yes, and so will we."

"Well, how about a little something to lower your spirits?"

"Thrill me, will ya, please?"

"Well, according to my calculations, based on time spent getting to and from the planet -- "

"Just give me the short version. How far to Earth?"

"Ten months."

"Oh, God..."

#45 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 07:49 PM:

Let me try this again.

Michael Weholt @9

What movie is that line from? Not that my spirits need lowering right now.

#46 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 07:54 PM:

Messages from the past!!

#47 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 09:59 PM:

I'm guessing this, based solely on circumstantial evidence. I don't remember that exact scene.

#48 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 10:56 PM:

The only real measure of authority is whether or not people do what you say, so I would not rely on a Supreme Court decision to constrain executive behaviour; the only plausible constraint is the substantial expectation that people will stop doing what they say.

It is important to remember that defeat happens inside people, and that the political faction interested in creating -- recovering, in their view -- a social system dedicated to maintaining and protecting wealth and privilege is interested in defeating all progressive political forces. Enormous effort has gone into trying to restrict the perceived scope of the possible to one in which progressive choices do not exist or cannot work.

This view is contrafactual, but that does not mean that progressive causes will succeed; it only means that the regressive cause will produce bad results.

So perhaps the question of preparedness comes down to a refusal of narrative.

#49 ::: lightning ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 11:31 PM:

#41 LizzyL

Most of the types that brag about their gun collections would just *love* to see Those People put into their places. (You know -- Them)

Yeah, I know they don't know anything about the history of revolutions. I don't expect to see the HitlerHistory Channel covering what happened to the Old Bolsheviks ...

Waco was a test. They flunked.

#50 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 11:44 PM:

Could we stop dressing Mr. Obama's corpse? It's much harder to do while it's still walking around, talking, and earning votes. He doesn't even look good in that color. And, additionally, a funeral home employee I know has reported that embalming fluid doesn't carry enough oxygen to substitute for blood in that way.

Really, you'll find the process much much easier when he lies down. Sanity, and humanity willing, this will be at least 40 years from now, at which point we can talk seriously about opening the Obama Presidential library.

#51 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: June 13, 2008, 11:51 PM:

lightning, some gun owners probably hold the views you suggest. Some don't. Martial law is a big honking deal. The folks I know with guns -- my neighbors, with whom I share a pew on Sundays, many of whom have served in the military -- don't have much tolerance for being told what to do, by anybody. And they no longer have much trust in George Bush.

I am not sure what your reference to Waco means. It was a horrendous clusterf**k all around.

#52 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 12:21 AM:

Graydon, #27, a WashPost article on how a judge is getting mighty tired of the Secret Service stalling a race bias case.

Taking it to the streets? Y'all don't remember what happened when MLK, Jr. was assassinated? And this time, I think there might be more pointed riots. I'm willing to bet that organizations like MoveOn have back-room plans, just in case.

As to Michelle Malkin, she thinks that everybody wearing a black and white scarf is a terrorist.

#53 ::: Raphael ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 01:03 AM:

Lizzy L @#51:

I'm not lightning, but perhaps with the Waco reference he means that Waco tested wether those right-wingers who have large gun collections and love to talk about armed insurrection are serious or not, and that it showed that they're just talk, since this didn't happen.

#54 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 01:04 AM:

Fade Manley @ 25

The thread I mentioned was essentially a contest to come up with plausible operation plans for terrorist attacks that were cheap, effective and tthat did not involve flying airplanes into buildings. I rummaged through the archives at Charlie's blog and couldn't find the thread. Then I remembered something. I think some of those ideas were entirely too plausible for anyone's comfort, so IIRC Charlie pulled the thread from the archive. That way no terrorists would read it and get ideas, and no MOD or DHS functionary would read it and get ideas about us.

Charlie, if you're reading this, could you confirm that's what happened to the the thread?

#55 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 01:14 AM:

Scot@50:Could we stop dressing Mr. Obama's corpse?

Seconded.

#56 ::: Hector Owen ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 01:34 AM:

Graydon # 23, "a US court recently found that the CIA really did assassinate Martin Luther King Jr."

Can you be more specific? A link, maybe? Are you referring to the Jowers trial in 1999, which might seem recent or not, for variable values of recent, or to something more current?

#57 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 11:47 AM:

here's a better question:

What will you do when Barack Obama WINS THE ELECTION AND BECOMES PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?

That may actually require more imagination. Plus, it's a lot more fun.

#58 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 01:40 PM:

#57:

Cut wood, carry water.

#59 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 08:00 PM:

Graydon, refuse *which* narrative? The idea that a black president would inevitably get assassinated?

#60 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 11:30 PM:

The whole security and panic narrative.

Fear makes you stupid. (There's a time to think, and there's a time to flee from the leopard, quite possibly, but the basic thing is that fear makes people stupid. Anybody who has to do anything complex while frightened drills a lot so the fear-makes-me-stupid effect doesn't prevent them from doing their job.)

At this point there is a standard -- much mocked, but standard -- fear narrative; doesn't matter if it's commies, terrorists, some ethnographic slice of fellow citizens, or those evil foreign workers stealing jobs, it's one of the standard tools of social control.

Any continued or escalated electoral fraud and coercion will presumably continue with this category of narrative. ("Be afraid and do what you're told", most baldly.)

With respect to the King assassination, yes, sorry, mostly in 1999/2000; I was thinking of it as more recent because I'd encountered a detailed reference recently. http://www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/MLKconExp.html has at least the appearance of a good place to start.

#61 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 14, 2008, 11:34 PM:

Lila@57: What will you do when Barack Obama WINS THE ELECTION AND BECOMES PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?

I'm gonna dance a jig.

#62 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 01:00 AM:

Thanks, Graydon. That gives me something to work with.

I think a likely fear-driven over-reaction to Obama getting assassinated would be preemptively clamping down hard on African-American parts of cities in order to prevent rioting.

Does this seem plausible? If so, is there anything to do in advance to make it less likely?

#63 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 02:45 AM:

It seems very plausible, Nancy, and the form could be quite subtle. Police Officer patrol patterns changing, and maybe weapons normally kept at the Precinct being carried in vehicles.

But that's one of those swords with more edges than you expect. You have the extra resources if you need them, but not every officer on patrol can be trusted to make the decision that they're needed.

Well, the taser was supposed to be a less lethal substitute for a gun, but look what we have now.

Done badly, you have the same command and control problem, with the Police Officers in large groups, fully tooled up for riot control. The inside stories I've heard are from the UK: we don't have every policeman with a gun. But the riot control methods depend on teams that train together, and I've heard stories of the senior officers, who would be in charge and responsible when the balloon went up, dodging the big exercises (which is where they get training in handling the complexity) because they had more important things to do.


#64 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 03:14 AM:

In DC yesterday morning, a Pepco power station went down and there were fires on two Metro lines. The place went nuts. Imagine what would happen if something important happened.

#65 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 03:34 AM:

Greg, #61: Man, I'm sorry I ever clicked that link.

#66 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 07:15 AM:

#63, Dave Bell:

I was thinking of something very un-subtle like preemptive curfews with a major police presence.

#67 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 09:52 AM:

Lee@65: Man, I'm sorry I ever clicked that link.

Sorry. I was hoping to find a clip on youtube of Bruce Willis at the end of the move where he is actually dancing a jig and they put him on the jumbotron and the cops are looking at him in going "What's he doing?" and one of them says "I think he's dancing". Unfortunately, youtube doesn't have quite everything on it yet.

It was an OK movie I thought. Not great, but OK. Anyway, I'll be dancing a jig when Obama wins.

#68 ::: Wakboth ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 09:52 AM:

This isn't 1960's, Obama is neither King nor Kennedy, and all good things are not doomed to failure.

#69 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 10:46 AM:

Wakboth --

All true.

None obviously relevant, though.

We all know for fair and certain that the current Republican party doesn't hesitate to cheat, rather than lose; repeated massive voter fraud is good evidence of that.

We all know for fair and certain that killing piles of people in pursuit of policy objectives is perfectly acceptable to the current Republican Party; Iraq, the desire to nuke Iran as though this were a sane object of policy, the response to Katrina, the drive for deregulation -- which kills people with utter statistical certainty -- and the apparent total indifference to the question of whether or not the person being judicially executed is actually guilty.

We know that elements of the United States government have repeatedly killed people for political ends outside of the United States, and very probably within it. We know that people heavily involved in some of those efforts are also heavily involved in the current Republican administration. (Negroponte, et al.)

So it's a very small jump to conclude that yeah, they might well try and succeed to have Obama assassinated, especially as this can be caused to fit with their terrorism narrative pretty easily, and, as our gracious hostess noted some years ago about the Florida vote count, these people are planning on never losing power again.

It's not like they are sure of being able, even with a compliant media, of being able to produce a close enough race that the vote fraud is going to work again; citizens groups have been pounding on the vote count issues, the economy is terrible for most people, getting worse, and Bush is about as popular as venereal disease.

Whether or not this category of tactic works has a lot to do with the public response. And the public response has a lot to do with whether or not everyone is wandering around in shock going "this doesn't happen here" or going "ok, the bastards really do hate America but they're going to lose anyway".

I figure Senator Obama knows perfectly well that he's taking a chance, and might well be dying for his country. That's a laudable ethic of service.

But the idea that, hey, no one is that racist or that crazy or that unwilling to lose or that outright evil anymore? That idea is not your friend.

#70 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 11:59 AM:

I was assuming that the primary risk for Obama is from white supremicist groups. They're a scary bunch.
Even if it's a secondary risk, it's serious.

#71 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 11:59 AM:

Nancy #66:

So, if the police in various cities don't do any of that, and there are riots, does that mean they made the wrong choice? Because riots after an Obama assassination seem quite likely to me. The rioting after the MLK assassination, and the LA riots, both suggest this as a strong possibility. As a thought experiment, suppose you're driving into downtown DC or LA when you hear of something nasty happening to Obama. Do you keep heading into the city, or do you turn around and go back the other way? Why?

Many of the sentiments expressed in this thread would make for a decent riot. But if you're looking for a riot, a really poor, badly policed part of town with lots of unemployed young men hanging around is the place to go. The police planning on this basis is pretty sensible, to me. The requirement here is to make sure that planning and riot-prevention measures isn't used as an excuse to shut down political discussion or debate, arrest irritating political leaders, etc.

Graydon #69:

Assassination wouldn't keep the Republicans in power. And with a Democratic majority in Congress, it also wouldn't be something that could be covered up, or only investigated by Republican political appointees.

This is an immensely good thing. We don't want to live in a country where assassinating leaders is an effective way to change the direction of policy, because then there will be people nasty enough to try.

To the extent that the Republican strategy was based on never losing power, it's failed as thoroughly as their strategy in Iraq. They're already in the minority in Congress, and that's going to get less favorable for them in the next election. They're almost certainly going to lose the white house, spin and deceive and lie how they will. Their enormously successful techniques for controlling the media have lost much of their power, because the easily-spun media have lost much of their credibility, and also have become aware of many of the ways they're being spun.

FWIW: I don't believe that discussing this makes it more likely. The kind of person who'd plan that kind of crime is not likely to be concerned with how any of us would think of it--most likely, he would either be some kind of nut, or some kind of extreme right white-power type. Neither is likely to be affected much by these discussions.

#72 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 12:03 PM:

As an addendum: rioting after such an assassination would be the perfect justification for martial law, silencing some media outlets for "inciting rioting," etc. So pre-emptive steps to keep such rioting from happening or getting out of hand are probably a win for the well-being of the whole country.

#73 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 12:05 PM:

The thing is, if Obama gets assassinated, who do can the GOP blame it on? If they blame it on Al Queda, they lose the "Obama's with the terrorists" narrative. They also couldn't blame that one on the "darkies", and the white supremacists are major supporters of the GOP.

And at this point, a "lone gunman" claim not only wouldn't be credible, it would highlight the Secret Service's failings -- not to mention giving people ideas about "sauce for the gander"!

And again, they'd just get Hillary instead. Out of the pan, into the fire....

I say, focus on the likely election fraud. The paperless DVMs are a worse threat to our democracy any any number of "lone" gunmen.

#74 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 01:14 PM:

David Harmon @ 73

See my reply to Jen Roth in comment 39, especially point 5. The real trick in spinning assassinations is evident in the aftermath of JFK killing: have an official story that minimizes the idea of conspiracy, a semi-official story that emphasizes the theory of conspiracy on the lsft, an unofficial story that emphasizes conspiracy on the right, a popular subnarrative that contradicts the official findings of fact, to give room for lots of different conspiracy theories to bloom, and an ocean of nutbars to amplify the chaos. I think all these forms of spin would be spread even faster and farther on the internet today. In fact they are, even 45 years after the event.

That said, my own opinion is that an assassination attempt on Obama is likely to come from the white supremacists or similar wackjobs, possibly with some "negligence" on the part of FBI and Secret Service intel organizations. But I fully expect a successful attempt on Obama's life (which I do not consider inevitable, just a lot more likely than I'm comfortable with) to be followed by Cheney, and perhaps parts of the Republican Party power structure, attempting to use it to preserve power. If they move fast and strike hard, and if they use the resultant riots as an additional excuse, they might be successful.

My interest in this thread is that we discuss ways for the people, us, to prepare for and counter such an attempt at a power grab, should it occur.

#75 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 02:31 PM:

#47 Greg London: I'm guessing this ["Alien"], based solely on circumstantial evidence. I don't remember that exact scene.

It's the scene where all of them (except Kane and Ash) are sitting around (in the "mess hall", I think) just before Ash calls Dallas to tell him to come see Kane (who has just awakened). In fact, Ash's call comes immediately after the last line I quoted.

#76 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 03:03 PM:

Bruce @39: (Sorry, I'm a bit late getting to Making Light this week) ... there is a back door to my blog: try replacing "www" in "www.antipope.org" with "public" (it's a CNAME pointing at the same host and will get you to my blog). And if the net-nanny is still blocking *.antipope.org, try www.stross.org.uk instead :)

My take on the picture: the neocons don't need to assassinate Obama, they just need to Carterize him, to coin a new verb. To Carterize: to put a head of state in the same mess as Jimmy Carter. Rising unemployment, stagflation, hamstrung by a civil service riddled with hostile sleeper agents, a military machine broken by a disastrous foreign war, and for the coup de grace conspiracies with hostile powers (see also: October Surprise). Carter didn't stand a chance, and Obama will be sworn in just in time for the sewage farm to hit the 6Mw wind turbine overhead. After four years of ineffectual Democrat leadership the neocons will be recovered and ready to ride to the nation's rescue with a new macho sue sock puppet. So why bother assassinating the caretaker? He's only going to be in long enough to keep the Oval Office chair warm.

I'm willing to bet that's what the neocons are planning. There's far less potential for blowback than an outright assassination, and a single Obama term won't be enough to derail their program if they get back in afterwards.

On the other hand, these guys aren't terribly smart -- as their behaviour shows. So I could be wrong (and they might actually be of murderous intent towards a rival presidential candidate), or they might be wrong (and Obama's victory will be a turning point they'll never recover from).

Personally I'm hoping for the latter ...

#77 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 06:26 PM:

Charlie Stross @76: I have the hope that Carter is looking a little better in the eyes of the American public*, now that gas has reached (and passed) $4 a gallon.

Some people credit Reagan with victory over communism. I remember him for his defeat of the metric system, energy conservation, and unions.


* I tried to find a link to a political cartoon I saw in the local paper a couple of days ago, but no luck finding it via the paper's online edition (or Google-searching if you can't remember the cartoonist's name). Here is the poor substitute:

Two men are pushing an SUV. One says: "Why didn't we listen to Jimmy Carter?". The other replies: "We couldn't... he was tellling us stuff we didn't want to hear."

#78 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 08:52 PM:

Peter Ustinov once called Jimmy Carter "the only man in history to use the Presidency as a stepping-stone to the ex-Presidency".

#79 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 09:24 PM:

The major difference is that Jimmy is not, fundamentally, a politician. This caused him no end of trouble, and I don't think he was able to readily postulate malice, which he certainly encountered in quantity. ("October Surprise", various other things.)

Obama is a politican. (Rather than an engineer...) He's put together a very impressive campaign machine. It's also entered the public consciousness that ecology and energy aren't separate issues; all those kids in the 70s are in their thirties and forties now, worried about their own kids, and using axioms informed by all that hopeful future stuff that was around at the time.

I suspect this will make him very challenging to Carterize; it would be pretty much impossible without a completely compliant media.

#80 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 09:39 PM:

Rob #77, funny thing about your first two paragraphs next to each other like that is, it was oil prices that actually brought down the USSR.

#81 ::: Craig R. ::: (view all by) ::: June 15, 2008, 10:49 PM:

Albatross #28

The guys protecting Obama will have a huge personal incentive not to be the ones who drop the ball and let someone get him, and the whole SS has a huge institutional incentive to protect him

This presupposes that the Secret Service field service is in charge. I cannot conceive of the field service, agents or supervisors, being the ones who would have put a stamp of approval on the actions that effectively removed any preventive protection due to crowd screening at Obama's speeches.

I can only imagine that those orders must have come from higher up in the Treasury Department hierarchy. Which I believe, like the Justice department, is an agency of the executive branch.

#82 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 12:55 AM:

Nancy #66: I was thinking of something very un-subtle like preemptive curfews with a major police presence.

Sort of like Washington DC has now, with city-wide curfews and military-style police checkpoints?

#83 ::: paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 02:06 AM:

#77 Reagan also helped do in municipal transit systems, especially busses. evil git.

#84 ::: Rozasharn ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 02:12 AM:

...Graydon? How compliant, exactly? Because sometimes it seems like we're already up to 95% or 99% compliant media.

When Bush stole the 2000 election in Florida, I called a friend to express my outrage at the Republican dirty tricks:
flyers in black neighborhoods warning people not to go to the polls if they had any overdue debts or warrants;
flyers in black neighborhoods claiming that "because of expected huge turnouts," Republicans would vote on Tuesday and Democrats should vote on Wednesday;
police intercepting people driving to the (Democratic-leaning neighborhood) polls and making excuses to detain them until the polls closed;
people being told their (Democratic-leaning neighborhood) polling place had been moved, and following directions to another polling place where they weren't registered;
Jeb Bush removing thousands of voters from the polls based only on his brother's say-so;
and a bunch of other things beyond the butterfly-ballot problem.

My friend didn't believe that these things had happened because he hadn't seen them in big newspapers or on TV. It appeared that these problems were initially reported only in small independent media; I read about them in a monthly women's newsmagazine.

The big newspapers eventually mentioned some of these facts, but only after public opinion had formed based on the initial skimpy coverage. The complete picture was a lot more outrageous, but it wasn't widely covered in time.

So having seen that, and seen how every Clinton happenstance was reported as [scandal]-Gate and every Bush violation of the Constitution is reported minimally and promptly forgotten, I have very little confidence in the noncompliance of our media.

#85 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 06:13 AM:

#71 ::: albatross :

You might be right that some preemptive anti-riot measures would be a good idea.

The other requirement is that anti-riot measures aren't unduly generally oppressive. That's at least as much of a risk as targeted oppression.

#86 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 07:45 AM:

Rozasharn --

Oh, sure, you're at a very high level of media compliance; effectively total. I was attempting to remark that if this were not the case, carterization of Senator Obama wouldn't be a plausible prospect.

The thing that makes is possible that co-ordinated outright lying might not work even with a totally co-opted media is that a significant fraction of the population has figured out that they're being lied to, and alternative information channels are, for the nonce, taking up some of the slack. (Lose net neutrality and those will go away right quick, though. Expect to lose net neutrality de-facto no matter what you do that falls short of either nationalization and regulation or utter dismemberment of the phone and cable companies.)

#87 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 10:11 AM:

Graydon, have you been tracking your predictions to see if any of them have definitely happened or not happened? If so, which ones?

#88 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 11:47 AM:

Charlie #76:

That may be the neocons' current plan, but given how well their other plans have worked out, I wouldn't be a lot on it succeeding. Also, it's a consolation-prize plan. Nobody says "let's lose this next election, in hopes that the other party will f--k up and we'll get a boost in power." Instead, they try to win (as the R's will try to win using every trick they can this time), and hope that their deft handling of whatever crises come will cement them in power for many years to come. But when you're clearly heading for a devastating loss, you try to put a good face on it--"Yeah, we're going to get creamed this election, but that cloud may have a silver lining."

A year or so ago, I noticed a kind of argument being made a lot from the right on political blogs. It was a kind of retroconned explanation of how all the apparent disasters of the Bush years were actually parts of a subtle and brilliant plan to make America safer. Like, the utter mess in Iraq has demonstrated what a mess we'll make of other countries that irritate us, Iraq was tying down thousands of jihadis who'd otherwise be attacking us elsewhere, the unrest between the Kurds and Turkey was keeping the Iranians and Syrians on the defensive, etc. It's like one of those "behind the scenes alternative history" sorts of stories, in which aliens, time travelers, magic, etc., appear in a story to explain the existing history in some fanciful way. The silly story being sold was that tt wasn't a set of confused blunders and f--ked up power grabs and bureaucratic misfires that led to a disaster in the Middle East--that's just what they want you to think.

The kind of descriptions of the neocons' future strategy you and Graydon have written in this thread seem to me to be the other half of those stories. It's not "we're really so smart, all those apparent failures are really subtle successes," it's "the bad guys are really so smart, all their apparentl failures are really subtle successes."

The bad guys aren't omnicompetent. They were pretty good at grabbing their chance at enormous power and exploiting it for awhile politically, but pretty much everything they tried to do other than win elections with FUD and smears in the aftermath of 9/11, failed. That's because they're not very bright, their models don't track especially well with reality, and they're much better at politics than at governing. They are certainly willing to plan all the stuff you ascribe to them, but while attempting to implement their plan, they will likely do the equivalent of putting Paul Bremmer in charge of Iraq and sending the whole Iraqi army home with their guns.

#89 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 12:32 PM:

Albatross #88: I'm betting on the neocons going down hard in October. Call me an optimist if you will, but they'd need a miracle to win fairly. I think there will be miracles -- or rather, disasters, and they'll fall in the challenger's favour. (Is the current flooding situation in Iowa making the incumbent look good? Is McCain being tarnished with guilt-by-association with Bush? What was that other guy doing with a shovel the other day? And so on.)

Bad stuff happening between now and October (and there's going to be lots of it, with the way the economy is going) is going to land on Bush, and McCain is Bush's successor, and all Obama has to do is chant "a vote for McCain is a vote for four more years of Bush; a vote for me is a vote for change" to get the message across.

Assassination ... well, it might happen, but it's a two-edged blade and it is in no politician's interest to foster the idea that it's a valid outlet for public expressions of disaffection.

(If there is an assassination attempt, I'd look for the cause not at the Republican party but at the right wing talk radio propaganda arm, whose inflammatory rhetoric pumps up unstable angry men, and who have no inkling about collective or individual responsibility for their words. I'm not saying they're not connected; merely that assassination would be an insanely rash game-plan for the neocons to get involved in.)

So I think by October, when it's clear that McCain is going to go down hard, they'll shift gear and start looking for ways and means of Carterizing Obama.

#90 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 12:50 PM:

Albatross --

If it was a question of governing, you'd be right.

But it's also a question of looting -- so much stolen from USG funds in Iraq no one can put it to the nearest billion -- and of altering the mechanisms of government. (Packing the department of justice, de-emancipation through 'voter fraud' controls, etc.) At those later things, they've been a remarkable success.

So I don't think it's as simple as 'these are clueless gits'; they're not. They're terrible at governing, and they're terrible at dealing with things as they are (instead of as they ought to be), but at stealing and cheating, they really are very competent indeed.

Charlie's scenario presumes a fair election; there hasn't been one of those in the States for the office of President in quite awhile now.

The time to relax about a cornered weasel is not after you've cornered it. It's after you've skinned it.

#91 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 01:04 PM:

Charlie, #89: If there is an assassination attempt, I'd look for the cause not at the Republican party but at the right wing talk radio propaganda arm, whose inflammatory rhetoric pumps up unstable angry men, and who have no inkling about collective or individual responsibility for their words.

Yes, absolutely. Here's a riff on that theme from Firedoglake.

And here is what I suspect is going to be the typical Republican response to it: "Only liberals are crazy and violent." Despite quoting the entire article. I think somebody needs to RFC.

Side thought: He did quote the entire article, not just a couple of teaser paragraphs. That's rather more than just "fair use". Could Firedoglake hit him with a DMCA takedown notice, or are there nuances here of which I'm unaware?

#92 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 02:04 PM:

I must confess that I don't understand what John Scalzi means by "dog-whistling" in this context.

#94 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 02:27 PM:

Bill: I'm not sure where the phrase came from, but "dog-whistling" seems to mean, by analogy with those ultrasonic whistles that only dogs can hear, emitting weird phrases that make no sense to the general public - thus inaudible" - and can only be interpreted by the intended audience, steeped in right-wing catch-phrases or the old base fears.

It doesn't work when the people attempting it are as unsubtle as Fox. When even an idiot like Malkin has to start trying to blame it on imaginary liberal saboteurs at Fox, it's evident they made it just a wee bit too obvious.

#95 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 02:28 PM:

Bill Higgins @92: Puzzled by the phrase 'dog-whistling'? Or why it was used to describe what Fox News did?

#96 ::: don delny ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 02:39 PM:

Lee, 91,
Side thought: He did quote the entire article, not just a couple of teaser paragraphs. That's rather more than just "fair use". Could Firedoglake hit him with a DMCA takedown notice, or are there nuances here of which I'm unaware?

Yeah, Firedoglake could pursue the nuclear option*,¹ but it would do little good, and some harm. Quoting the article in full is actually really really good - people who believe differently might actually read it! DCMA-ing just reinforces the stereotype that liberals are a bunch of humorless, pro-government regulation, sue-happy dickheads.**


*metaphor is intentional: not too many blogs would be left if we all sued our ideological opposites over copyright infringement. Note the AP's current blog-o-fire-storm: isn't working too well for them, innit?
**Am I being too vulgar?
___________________
¹ Ah, TNH, what's the preferred usage for asterisks next to commas? Like so*, or like so,* or like something else?

#97 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:04 PM:

I keep wondering why I'm not seeing vicious cartoons and lampoon at the neocons and their associates... cartoons of certain people being tarred and feathered, burned in effigy with a corroded muck-besmirched flags labelled, US Constitution and Bill of Rights, 1789-2001, cartoons of Mr McCain next to a wrecked plane, "Cost to the US taxpayer, X millions" and the caption, "Escaped -that- one!! and "When the going gets tough, McCain saves his ass and the taxpayers foot the bill" or perhaps "I have immunity, waterboarding's double jeopardy. (Saved by the Hanoi Hilton--I got tortured, why shouldn't you be?!"

Or "Mission Accomplished" --fooled them, didn't we?" of the *** of the Oval Office smirking and snorting some white powder up his nose with a tiny gold spoon, and the headlines from the tabloids with dates and page numbers alleging he's been snorting in office.... oh, and imperial robing on him, too, and a donkey being vivisected....

#98 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 03:55 PM:

Charlie #93 and Clifton #94, thanks. The Wikipedia link says:

Some political observers have used the phrase "dog-whistle politics" to refer to the use of words and phrases that one's political allies will recognize and appreciate but that may not mean anything to other listeners.

And this answers my question.

Rob Rusick #95, I didn't know what the phrase meant as political term.

#99 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 04:17 PM:

Hmm, that's not the same thing as "the 6000 pound dogwhistle" or "three ton dogwhistle" which were among the terms that the T-37 primary Air Force military jet trainer got called (another one was "Tweety-Pie"). The things had loud, high-pitched whines, which gave rise to the sobriquets.

#100 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 07:10 PM:

Clifton, #94: There are some advantages to the phrase being associated with a few less-than-subtle examples. Like many other things, the identification of propaganda techniques gets easier with practice; people who can see it in cases like this may start noticing it when it's less obvious as well.

Don, #96: That's about what I'd figured. And who knows, even some of his regular readers may be better at RFC than he is.

#101 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 16, 2008, 11:10 PM:

Nancy @87 --

I am/was very surprised the financial meltdown we're currently experiencing took so long to happen; I was expecting that by 2000 or 2001, and said so. Was without question wrong about the timing.

SARS surprised me by being so trivial, so badly handled, and so completely forgotten, but there will be another frequent long range travel disease show up.

I was right about the refusal of habeus corpus rights to AmCits. (From way back in 2000.)

So, yes, I do keep track.

I would find it much more conversational were you to engage with whatever idea you have disagreements with as an idea.

#102 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 03:54 AM:

Graydon, thanks, and fair enough. It's not exactly a matter of an idea. It's that you keep predicting total meltdown for where I live, the predictions have been depressing for years, there's been some pretty dramatic (if slower than we would hope) shoveback against the current administration, and the disaster doesn't seem to have happened.

So I was beginning to wonder if you were leaving out countervailing factors, and if all your predictions were so long range that there was no way to check them.

#103 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 03:13 PM:

Lee @ 100

All I know RFC meaning is "Request for Comments" -- what am I missing?

#104 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 03:36 PM:

sherrold, I read RFC as "Reading For Content."

#105 ::: sherrold ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 03:58 PM:

Nancy @ 104

Oh, of *course*! Thanks so much.

#106 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 07:19 PM:

Paula @#97: Three reasons:

1) The harshest stuff from the left mostly gets deemed "not worth printing" by Big Media, but there are a few guys who occasionally "go there": This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow), Ted Rall, Tom The Dancing Bug, and so on.

If you can get hold of The Funny Times, (I recommend it!) there's usually a few examples culled from across the nation.

2) Most liberals like to think they're "above that". Or at least, the RWC has established the most vicious attacks, and outright smears, as "their territory".

3) It's getting increasingly hard to satirize, or even mock, current events.... See Tom Tomorrow's blog, and links therefrom, for a few examples.

#107 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 17, 2008, 10:18 PM:

David, #106: Most liberals like to think they're "above that". Or at least, the RWC has established the most vicious attacks, and outright smears, as "their territory".

AKA "not sinking to their level" -- because how do you demonstrate the difference between yourself and your opposition when you both use the same dirty tricks? (Also directly applicable to the torture issue.) The kind of crap that Paula is advocating could only hurt us, not its putative targets.

Or, more pragmatically... if we do engage in that sort of thing, we have to be much more subtle about it. Setting traps for them to fall into is good; being seen pulling the tripwire isn't.


#108 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2011, 07:53 PM:

*dog whistles loud enough to shatter the spam*

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