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Morning Fix: Obama's populist turn

Days after his senior aides ramped up the populist rhetoric against Wall Street, President Obama did the same in remarks at several fundraisers in New York City last night.

The president, speaking at a cash-collecting event for the Democratic National Committee, condemned the "reckless speculation and deceptive practices and short-sightedness and self-interestedness from a few."

Later, the president vented his spleen about small business not being able to secure loans even as Wall Street returns to profitability: "That tells me that people aren't thinking about their obligations, our mutual obligations to each other, the fact that we're in this together," said Obama.

Hours after Obama finished speaking -- he appeared at two fundraisers for the DNC and a third to benefit Bill Owens, the Democratic nominee in the special election in New York's 23rd district -- an administration official told the Fix that the president plans to "begin to wind down and cap programs that helped put large banks and the auto companies on a sounder footing." (Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said the same in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.) Obama is also expected to announce a plan to make TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) funds available to small banks in an effort to benefit small business.

Obama's populist message comes amid a series of stories about the continued largess of Wall Street including record level bonuses at the investment bank Goldman Sachs -- that have re-stoked anger among middle class Americans about the disconnect between (with apologies to the Goreacle) the people and the powerful.

As we have written before, populism is a powerful strain in politics at the moment as the gap between the wealthy and everyone else grows wider and the average American feels as though corporations are working against their best interests. A Public Strategies survey conducted over the Internet and released earlier this week showed that while 56 percent of the sample trust the government to do what is right, only 40 percent said the same about corporate America.

And yet, Obama is not a natural populist -- to his credit, he seemed to recognize that and refused to go down the populist rabbit hole with former Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) and then Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) in last year's Democratic presidential primary campaign.

But, with populist rage coursing through the country, Obama and his aides seem to have recognized that the best way to push his agenda -- particularly on health care -- through a somewhat complacent Congress is to paint a stark choice between the needs of the American people on the one hand and the desires of large business on the other.

In terms of a raw political calculation, it's a no-brainer. Americans have long been skeptical of the motives of major corporations and casting those corporations as the bad guy in a populist fight to bring about reform of government programs like health care makes sense.

But, as always, it's not that simple. Much of the populist anger is directed not just at corporate America but also at the government (and Obama) which many people believe has intruded far too much into the every day lives of its citizenry. Given that, Obama's adoption of the rhetoric of a populist more risky from a political perspective.

Wednesday's Fix Picks: Upset alert!

1. Oprah. Palin. It is on.
2. Bill Thompson gets profiled by the Old Grey Lady.
3. Is Mitt Romney going to skip Iowa?
4. Bubba helps(?) Deeds in Virginia.
5. The Nook.

Cox, Hoekstra Lead in MI-Gov: A new EPIC/MRA poll conducted for the Detroit News shows Rep. Pete Hoekstra and state Attorney General Mike Cox as the co-frontrunners for the Republican nomination for governor. Hoekstra received 29 percent to 28 percent for Cox while Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard took 14 percent, businessman Rick Snyder three percent and state Sen. Tom George two percent. On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. John Cherry was the only candidate in double digits but the fact that 54 percent of primary voters are undecided on a candidate suggest considerable weakness for Cherry. In general election matchups, Cherry trails both Cox (45 percent to 30 percent) and Hoekstra (40 percent to 33 percent).

Brunner's Fundraising Falters: Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D) raised just over $147,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30 and ended last month with a meager $112,000 -- numbers that will amp up on the pressure on her to abandon her primary race against Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher. Fisher raised $621,000, spent more than $500,000 and ended September with $1.6 million in the bank. Both Brunner and Fischer are being lapped in fundraising by former representative Rob Portman (R) who has more than $5 million in the bank.

Click It!: Want a full rundown of the debate that was last night between state Sen. Creigh Deeds and former attorney general Bob McDonnell? Check out the live chat with Post political reporters Roz Helderman and Amy Gardner, who broke the McDonnell thesis story, today at 2 p.m. ET.

Americans United Cheers on Reid: Americans United, a liberal interest group, is running more than $20,000 worth of radio ads in Nevada in support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) as he seeks to shepherd the health care bill to passage. "Harry Reid isn't afraid to fight the insurance companies," says the ad's narrator. "He's already gone after their anti-trust exemption . . . and he'll keep fighting until we get health care for all Americans -- including a public option -- this year." Reid faces serious problems in his bid for re-election next fall with polls showing him trailing two little-known Republican opponents. Reid allies cast the health care legislation as an opportunity for Reid to flex his deal-making muscles; his detractors see it as a no-win situation as the Democratic leader is caught between the conservative nature of his state and liberal interest groups pushing for the public option.

Lemieux Speaks!: Appointed Sen. George Lemieux (R) will make his maiden speech today on the Senate floor more than a month after he was appointed as a caretaker by Gov. Charlie Crist (R) who is seeking a full term in the seat next November. The topic? The growing national debt. "The senator believes before the Congress approves a health care reform program that threatens to push our nation to borrow billions and trillions more, policymakers must focus on ways to control spending and erase the mountains of debt that threaten our nation's prosperity," said a Lemieux source.

Say What?: "Don't tell me because I'm a Republican I have to support any Republican nominee they throw up there." -- Former Tennessee senator Fred Thompson on why he isn't backing state Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava (R) in the New York 23 special election.

By Chris Cillizza  |  October 21, 2009; 6:10 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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Next: Short Takes: Rubio's Rise (Cont.)

Comments

My mistake, been away from Trig too long. Sign would be opposition side over the slant. Cosign would be on the side of over the slant.

Posted by: ceflynline | October 22, 2009 9:31 AM | Report abuse

"I'd like to cosign, MM. Posted by: broadwayjoe"

Cosign, isn't that the opposition side over the slant?

Posted by: ceflynline | October 22, 2009 9:27 AM | Report abuse

Obama is occasionally a populist, sort of, in rhetoric only, not in his administration's policies. The Obama administration followed belated Bush II policies in bailing out large financial companies. By abandoning his opposition as a candidate to an individual health care mandate, any health care bill will be a surrender to private health insurance companies. The financial regulatory policies advocated by officials in his administration offer inadequate oversight and would not prevent future credit or housing bubbles.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | October 21, 2009 11:25 PM | Report abuse

MM, it's probably about time for one of your rundowns of the recent BHO fake controversies. Since BHO/Anita Dunn marginalized Fox, we've seen far fewer bogus issues. The air is fresher. :)

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 21, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

regard to the perceived slant of the blog -

With the Far Right Wing yelling for their version of the Cultural Revolution (all praise ideological purity), a story on "How well the Democratic Party is doing" would be mundane and boring. The only way to stir up reaction is to give the minority view. And, blogs live or die on "Reaction"

Posted by: sourpuss | October 21, 2009 1:11 PM
_________

That's bogus. A recent article in the Columbia Journalism Review pegged this space as a "Drudge emulator." Nothing wrong with that if that's what you want. But let's tell it like it is. This space rarely has anything nice to say about the President even though DC voted for him about 45 to 1. It is after all the WASHINGTON Post, not the West Texas Gazette. By contrast how many GOP comeback and Pawlenty in 2012 posts have there been?

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 21, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

"CC's post shows no understanding of Populism, and willfully misunderstands the President's thinking. Readers like Shrink2, Jaxas, drindl, JEP07, etc have had to call him out on a shoddy post that does nothing but hedge and dismiss."
__________
I'd like to cosign, MM.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | October 21, 2009 8:10 PM | Report abuse

The Chameleon in Chief is, of course, a populist.. when it suits his current needs.

If you think about the administration's cozy relationship with Goldman Sachs and the like (this isn't from wingnut.. but Michael Moore).. one might question his 'populism'.

I don't know why beltway peeps never see the simple things.. it's not populism, it's popularity...

V/Y,
WaPo Wingnut

Posted by: newbeeboy | October 21, 2009 5:03 PM | Report abuse

The Falange's primary opponents were the Socialists and Marxists. So does that mean the GOP is now Marxist? When they call me "Nazi," can I respond with "Bolshevik?"

Posted by: nodebris | October 21, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

The silly never stops, margaret.

Posted by: drindl | October 21, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Drindl, a poster this morning compared Obama's Administration to the Falange, a pre-WWII, Spanish fascist group. So you can add that to your list.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 21, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Interesting posts. I don't believe that the anger and anxiety out there is ginned up. The flames have been fanned, to be sure, but to extend the analogy, there were embers and a lot of dry timber. Folks around here may not like that, but take a look at the blue dogs.

CC has taken a lot of stick over this post, mostly from the left side of the bloggeratti. This post was about the tone. A calculated shift in tone is worth noting. Mr. Cool doesn't play well, especially if you're headed up to NYNY to pick up campaign bux. [I say raise funds, you say collect cash. Tomaeto, tomahto.]

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 21, 2009 2:23 PM | Report abuse

The sad thing is, if the Obama administration did something truly effective to help small businesses (ie significant direct small-business loans) they would be accused of trying to "nationalize" them as well.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 21, 2009 2:20 PM | Report abuse

Republicans: "Don't start an enemies list."

As clear a case of do "as I say, not as I do" as I have ever seen.

I suppose you recommend befriending malevolent liars and allowing them unchallenged free reign? How has this worked for you, so far?

Posted by: nodebris | October 21, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

OK Chris I get it, none of the others have caught on to your latest screed yet, but hopefully this will illuminate the back story for them.
You were trick or treating in your bathroom medicene cabinet while your wife was out of the house doing some shopping for the up coming Halloween party.
You found her make up bag in the vanity drawer where the mirror is situated, you sit down and in front of the mirror and think to yourself, I Don't need to buy a mask I can make my own.
So you sit your bottle of wine down and grab whatever came first out of the bag and got busy, all the while takeing swigs out of your bottled companion, 20 minuets later you shout for joy, damn am I good or what? while standing and admiring your handiwork.
You decide then to go trick or treating in the bathroom, like so crazed kid on a sugar high, you start popping little chocolate squares and yelling trick or treat with out scrutinizing what your consuming.
Wife walks in amidst your jubilation and yells at you what are doing to my make up? In your humble assessment you tell her I'm trick or treating myself, she kicks you out of the bathroom and tells you to go sleep it off/.
A few hours later you awaken realizing that you have a deadline to post your screed and thats when the Chocolat squares hit, thus we see your little adventure played out here with your latest line of S---, Typical you and nothing different,same ole crap eh?

Intellectual lightweight and puppet for the mouthy right.

Posted by: nightslider | October 21, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"The chance will be improved if small biz can get bank loans again, of course."

Is this not what he is trying to do?

Good post, ceffyline.

So far, I can recall Obama being compared to the following figures:

Hitler
Stalin
Pol Pot
Mao
Carter
Bush
Nixon
David Duke

It's really over the top and hysterical.

Posted by: drindl | October 21, 2009 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Mike and Mark are right to stomp on the "Nationalizing Socialist" canard. My darling old dad talks like this, so I can only think it comes from Limbaugh.

Mike, I'm married to a solo practice attorney, my sister is married to a design-builder. I know that the assistance to the banks has not trickled down to the public. My brother-in-law has been designing beautiful additions for houses belonging to well-employed couples who have lots of equity built up in their houses. Nothing goes to contract because no one can get financing. When people like that can't get loans, no one can get loans. The administration is not delivering in this particular area -- he needs a bigger and pointier stick.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 21, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

MikeInMidland, the planned and structured bankruptcies of the two auto companies was the best possible solution, IMO, and the best work the Prez has done on the domestic front. I agree with your post, but wanted to express my admiration for the Prez and my disdain for Congress about this. Congress is trying to unravel the bankruptcy in at least two ways. It wants to make the new Chrysler liable for the product defects in old Chryslers. It wants to protect the redundant dealers who could not be shed without bankruptcy. If they pass their unravels, I hope BHO vetoes them. There is a chance the reorganizations will actually work. The chance will be improved if small biz can get bank loans again, of course.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 21, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

WH appears to crucify any opposition from any against Obama administration.

Here is a news post in Yahoo:

"By Thomas Ferraro Thomas Ferraro – 27 mins ago
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A top U.S. Senate Republican invoked the memory of the scandal-marred Nixon administration on Wednesday to urge U.S. President Barack Obama: "Don't start an enemies list."

Senator Lamar Alexander told Reuters he sees the Obama White House adopting an attitude similar to that of the Richard Nixon White House four decades ago, that "everybody is against us and we are going to get them."

Alexander cited as examples the Obama administration threatening to strip the insurance industry of its exemption of federal anti-trust laws, "taking names" of bondholders who opposed the auto bailout, its reported aim to "neuter the U.S. Chamber of Commerce," boycotting Fox News Network and "calling out" of others who oppose it
is this where we are led to?

Posted by: jayrkay | October 21, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

This POS is in NY raising funds for some of "HIS" layabout "HACKS" while GREAT YOUNG AMERICANS are DYING OVERSEAS and "HE" is picking his NOSE. WAKE UP YOU USELESS RACIST MUSLIM POS.

Posted by: otisplumber | October 21, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Oh for pete's sake! Obama did not "nationalize" GM and Chrysler. He helped steer them away from Chapter 7 (Liquidation) to Chapter 11 (Reorganization). Yes, we ended up with a minority share of Chrysler stock, and a majority share of GM stock, but that was because we loaned them a bunch of money and we needed collateral. They didn't have to take the deal--they could have gone into liquidation.

You can argue that he should have let them fail. Or that we didn't get enough for our taxpayer dollars. But don't pretend like he took over perfectly healthy companies by edict.

Posted by: mikenmidland | October 21, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Sigh. More loose and poorly conceived analysis from CC.

"Much of the populist anger is directed not just at corporate America but also at the government (and Obama) which many people believe has intruded far too much into the every day lives of its citizenry. Given that, Obama's adoption of the rhetoric of a populist more risky from a political perspective."

Angry anti-government populists were never BHO's constituency. How is it a political risk for BHO to stoke the populist fire? Aren't the TEA party people already making themselves heard? One should remember that BHO's Presidency is due in no small part to his grass-roots (populist!) support. It is those people that he needs to fire up.

Posted by: mnteng | October 21, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

BB, I know that you work in a Naval Research Lab, and Margaret is also a public employee. My perspective on CC talking about fear and anger in the electorate is not like the talking points that drindl often refers to, but which I have never read.

It comes from being a lawyer in private practice representing small businesses. I know that many of them voted for BHO. They are angrier at Congress than at the Prez, but they are scared silly by the lending drought. Especially in construction, my small biz clients who have contracts in hand are finding interim financing a hurdle that never existed. There was an NPR interview with a female contractor in one of the Carolinas this morning who had contracts in hand for next year but could not get interim financing to hold it together til then. This is real. This causes great fear. Add to it news that WS is paying bonuses to individuals that boggle the mind and the anxiety over whether the emerging health care plan will be financially crippling for them and you have the recipe for widespread angst. One plumbing contractor I represent, in business since 1964, may have to lay off everyone but one assistant because without interim financing he can just do house calls. He will continue to make a living and 7 guys will be unemployed. It is weird, after a lifetime of credit based on one's next contract, to see the economy grinding down because small banks are not lending.

I am not making this up and I like this Prez, but initiatives like the expansion of SBA, which was promised in February with a great big rollout, ain't happening.

Margaret and ceflyline, I can catalogue his successes too, and they exceed what most presidents have done in nine months. But that will not help him if the local banks do not begin to lend to small biz again.

Texas has an enterprise fund. All the seed money goes to small tecchie businesses, though - so all the money goes to Austin, Houston, and DFW. A small biz that isn't tech has almost nowhere to go. maybe credit unions, now able to do biz loans, will eventually fill the gap. Eventually may not be soon enough.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 21, 2009 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama a 'populist'?
Obama's no populist, he'a a Communist?
He was a member and supporter of the James Combs Black Liberation Front in college, which was a white and America--hating Communist clique teaching and promoting the Malcolm X philosophy.
Out of college and in Chicago he joines a racist white and America--hating cult Trinity UFC Church, and stays a big member and supporter for over 20 years. All his friends, assocciates, and neighbors were all America--haters, American terrorists, and/or outright Communists.
Elected president by America's fools, he's now putting in place a Communist government, with Communist czars, and people who think, act, and promote Communism straight out of Communist Saul Alinsky's book.
His agenda so far has been to nationalize the Banks, Insurance Companies, private industries like GM and Chrysler, and now the drug and health care companies. His government takeover of GM and Chrysler, and his attempt to do away with the secret ballot by working people in his 'Card Check' program is nothing more than forced unionization--i e a la the Communist Workers Party of the former USSR.
His "Fairness Doctrine" is nothing more than a government crack down on free speech to control all the news, and all the opposition to his government--uber--alles, government--knows--best agenda.
And on, and on.
Obama's no populist, he's a Communist following the advice of Communist Saul Allinski on how to change our free capitalist Representative Republican form of government into a Stalin, Hitler, Castro, Chavez, Mao--like Workers Paradise.

Posted by: armpeg | October 21, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

In regard to the perceived slant of the blog -

With the Far Right Wing yelling for their version of the Cultural Revolution (all praise ideological purity), a story on "How well the Democratic Party is doing" would be mundane and boring. The only way to stir up reaction is to give the minority view. And, blogs live or die on "Reaction"

Posted by: sourpuss | October 21, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Most of the leakage from Obama's support at the moment is on the left rather than the right. He's trying to build cover with his base without abandoning the rather more middle-of-the-road approach to policy than the base would like. As long as the Republicans are prancing about in la-la land, this is more or less how Obama will govern. If the Republicans ever decide to engage the nation's problems rather than the nation's myths, then Obama will be in a more awkward situation on populist messaging.

Part of the story is Harry Reid's obsession with 60 votes on health care. They have more than enough votes to do things properly with reconciliation, but to do it without they need to pander to the senators who have been bought off by the insurance industry. I think Obama is working hard to try and get the base to sign on to less of a health care reform than they would like rather than end up in a situation where you can't get 60 to agree on any particular policy, hence the constant messaging that "I'm with you guys."

Posted by: dblissmn | October 21, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

If you don't see it Blade, it don't mean it ain't there. Plenty of other people do.

''Populist' has nothing to do with popularity.

Posted by: drindl | October 21, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

"You are not deconstructing this to read between the lines, which is where the subtext and actual message lie."

Sheesh. On that basis, you could make anything of any post. CC repeatedly used the word populist, ergo he's trying to associate Obama with being popular, ergo he's in the tank for Obama.

I tried blowing up the view on my computer to 400% to find the text between the lines, but it was still white. Perhaps I'll read the post backwards.

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 21, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"The Obama Democrats’ attacks on its “enemies” - Fox News, banks, "greedy” medical specialists, Wall Streeters, Glenn Beck, health insurers, credit card companies"

The problem with your argument is that, by and large, those you cite are real and actually *are* destroying America in front of your very face, unlike the mythical marxists you all see behind every rock and stone.

Posted by: nodebris | October 21, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

"But, as always, it's not that simple. Much of the populist anger is directed not just at corporate America but also at the government (and Obama) which many people believe has intruded far too much into the everyday lives of its citizens."

Having ascertained that the sword has two edges, what makes you think it only cuts one way, Chris?

If big business can use the Republican Party to stir up anger against government in pursuit of narrow business interests, then Obama can surely use the Democratic Party to stir up anger against big business in pursuit of the people's broad interests. There's plenty of precedent for that, you know.

It's a simple tool. I think he can figure it out.

Posted by: nodebris | October 21, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

AND THE WARRANTLESS CENSORSHIP KEEPS ON COMING...

• Is Team Obama Unaware, Misinformed, or Complicit?

• Just what's going on in DHS-administered "fusion centers" such as the one in Newtown, PA?

More strong evidence that government warrantless surveillance programs are being misused by surveillance operatives to censor and harass U.S. citizens. (Please see link below, scroll to bottom and read up.)

http://blog.aclu.org/2009/01/26/internet-filters-voluntary-ok-not-government-mandate


Posted by: scrivener50 | October 21, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama will say anything. Who's surprised. Just one of the benefits of having no actual beliefs other than I am great.

Recession is when your neighbor loses his job.

Depression is when you lose youR job.

Recovery is when Obama loses his job.

Posted by: snowbama | October 21, 2009 12:13 PM | Report abuse

CC's post shows no understanding of Populism, and willfully misunderstands the President's thinking. Readers like Shrink2, Jaxas, drindl, JEP07, etc have had to call him out on a shoddy post that does nothing but hedge and dismiss.

Obama has been standing up for the little guy for a long time. Isn't that what a populist does? They're like community activists sometimes, aren't they? Isn't that what Obama does when he extends unemployment insurance, signs off on Lily Ledbetter, expands s-chip, uses huge amounts of personal good will to pass health care reform (he could have left it for later, but he didn't), actively seeks ways to arrive at greater peace in the world, lowers taxes on working people and works to end tax breaks for the super wealthy, tries to keep people in their homes, etc.? Has he had to shake hands with corporate America because of the HUGE financial crisis he inherited? Yep. Is he trying to curb their short-view, greedy-grabbing ways? Yep. I think that he thought they would be humbly learning some lessons. They haven't, so I hope he spanks them good, like a Populist should.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | October 21, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

The blame the banks thing is over with the people.
They have more Confidence in the banks than Obamaland Obamanomics now.

People see Obama as the Joker, ( now the OBAMA JOKER FACE poster with the Olympic logo on the bottom, and bling of the Nobel prize that has a fake sticker plastered in it.)

Timmy( Al Capone) Geithner as the Riddler

http://chaosandoldnight.files.wordpress.com/2008/03/the-riddler.jpg


http://weblogs.sun-sentinel.com/news/politics/dcblog/Tim%20Geithner.jpg


running the money out the doors of the Federal Reserve in wheeled carts.


Today the political clown had the Rawhide theme song playing , grocery carts filled with paper acorns , Virginia or Bust signs, and he was dressed like Gil Favor or Rowdy Yates hearding them with his rope.

It looks like the Kingdom of Obamaland vs THE USA, doesn't it?

Posted by: dottydo | October 21, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

"This was Cillizza"s sop to his few right wing readers."

He's attached at the thip to this new Virginia Republican last-ditch effort. They pulled out all the stops, found some candidates smart enough not to call anyone macaca, and flexed their economic muscle to give their guys that old-fashioned Virginia money advantage.

"The Beltway" and "Virginia" are now currently so closely allied on the Right, it would be hard to separate than bone from it's marrow.

It's like a disease or an addiction, and this kind of insider pandering by our venerable host is just one of the symptoms.

Posted by: JEP07 | October 21, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Really Rich -- did you even count how many times he referred to this imaginary 'populist rage' and 'populist anger'?

He should just ask Dick Armey for the script Freedom Works gives everyone.

Posted by: drindl | October 21, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

I have to agree with drindl and shrink on this one. In reading this piece, I felt like I was wandering through a minefield of code words and phrases that would be out of place in a neutral piece of journalism. Let's hope this was just a momentary slip for Chris and that he returns to the higher standards that brought me to the Fix in the first place.

Posted by: optimyst | October 21, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Chris,

I cannot but feel that the American public--or at least a very large section of it--MUST realise that corporations in particular, but business by its very nature, is profit-driven--and profit-driven in the very short term to boot.

It's naive to imagine that most businesses are concerned by anything other than the bottom line, maximum profitability for the stockholders, and having to spend as little as possible to achieve that goal--on salaries, on producing the product, etc.

In rare instances, there have been times when this coincided with the 'common good'. As a rule, however, businesses need to be reined in, not left like foraging porcines to stuff themselves, gobbling up or selling all the truffles for themselves and leaving none for the odd peasant who might stumble over one.

The 'deregulation' mantra that, from at least the Reagan-era onwards has only proved beneficial to the few at the top, not to the many.

It's time to re-impose the rules that have unravelled over the last 30-odd years simply to once again achieve a 'level playing field'. Otherwise, all the things that might go towards maintaining American leadership in so many fields will be eaten up by corporate greed.

Posted by: sverigegrabb | October 21, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

'and now his shortfall in swine flu vaccine!! '

yes, he was personally producing it and he failed!

more whining from the party of losers.

Posted by: drindl | October 21, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"Cox, Hoekstra Lead in MI-Gov"

Note all the republican Reps and State legislators who suddenly want to be Governor. Note all the Republican State elective office holders. Note that running for governor keeps them from running for Congress.

Note that running isn't winning.

Who gets their seat in Congress, or in the Legislatures?

Go Pete! GO! (home on the day after the election, we hope.)

Posted by: ceflynline | October 21, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

Find it increasingly unnerving that the President of the USA will openly go after his perceived enemies as -- Fox, Chamber of Commerce, doctors who do not agree with him, capitalist who believe in self reliance -- and who are successful, Big Pharm (only when they are against him), insurance companies, and now Wall Street in general! For Pete's sake, HE BAILED THEM OUT AT THE DISGUST OF THE MAJORITY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!!

As each day goes by, lose more and more confidence in Team Obama. Just reminded of his Cash for Clunkers; his czars; his 'teachable moment with Professor Gates'; and now his shortfall in swine flu vaccine!! WHAT COULD BE NEXT??

Posted by: wheeljc | October 21, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Mark, I am sorry, but here you are wrong, and shrink is right. You are not deconstructing this to read between the lines, which is where the subtext and actual message lie.

'The president, speaking at a cash-collecting event '

why use this construction, which sounds money-grubbing?

'vented his spleen'

Sounds petulant and arrogant

"Obama's populist message comes amid a series of stories about the continued largess of Wall Street including record level bonuses at the investment bank Goldman Sachs -- that have re-stoked anger among middle class Americans about the disconnect between (with apologies to the Goreacle) the people and the powerful."

this whole graf -- about how 'middle-class' americans are angry" is straight out of an RNC press release re: their trumped-up town halls

"And yet, Obama is not a natural populist -- to his credit, he seemed to recognize that and refused to go down the populist rabbit hole"

Umm, so populism is like alice in wonderland crazy?

"But, with populist rage coursing through the country"

More rightwing BS.

"Much of the populist anger is directed not just at corporate America but also at the government (and Obama) which many people believe has intruded far too much into the every day lives of its citizenry"

Cilizza must have his TV tuned to FOX 24/7 and reload Drudge every two minutes. Maybe he actually believes this stuff, but it's pure propaganda.

In what way has the government ACTUALLY intruded 'far too much' into the everyday lives of its citizenry' NAME ONE WAY.. just one.

It's not like Obama is tapping your phone or spying on your book purchases... that would be another president, wouldn't it?

This 'populist rage' is limited to the approximately 2% of loons in this country who watch the Glenn Beck show.

Posted by: drindl | October 21, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

"if the new political line that BHO has spouted is followed quickly by liquidity in small commercial banks around the nation then he will be able to convert the skeptical who want him to succeed because they want America and themselves to succeed. If this was mere wordplay he will roll snake eyes. Posted by: mark_in_austin "

With Western Civilization crumbling about his ears, AND a half baked rescue package already in place without supervision, Obama did the obvious, work on the biggest problems first. The circumstantial evidence to date, an end to free fall and a recovery in the stock market, (which is probably not too meaningful) give him room to move on to other problems. He seems to be moving on, now getting help to the little guy. Of course, jobless hopless people don't particularly benefit from more borrowing opportunities, but such borrowing as may occur should help bring about a return of some jobs that the borrowing will pay for. He is only one day past the nine month anniversary of his innauguration, and he seems at least to have stopped the bleeding, protected the wound, and prevented shock. Now he can try to evacuate the victim to someplace where the more complicated medical procedures can be performed. Still, ever since Dust Off in Viet Nam, it is more and more true that you usually get to keep, and even use, whatever parts they get you to the Evac Hospital with.

It seems that the prognosis is good, which is quite an improvement over this time last year.

Posted by: ceflynline | October 21, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised that the media has missed the true import of the Obama administration's strategy in publicly going after Fox News. When you ropponent or enemy uses a tactic that yields a certain amount of success, you turn that tactic around on them.

Remember, Fox News was throwing up all sorts of feces and finally with ACORN and Van Jones, found a wad that stuck to the walls of the White House. I would posit that Fox News was just as surporised at their success as anyone else when one of their pet fantasies turned out to have a germ of truth in it.

Well, Obama is nothing if not a fast learnered and an apt pupil. So now, he is turning Fox News' tactics against them. Of course they expected the mainstream media and the right's sycophants therein (like Howard Kurtz) to rus to Fox's rescue. They factored that in.

Look. This is straegy of world class order and it is working. The media is now analyzing this and all the while the message that the Obama administration wants to get publicly aired is getting publicly aired: Is Fox News merely an arm of the republican party?

Just as with Acorn and Van Jones and all of the other Fox promoted issues, it does not matter whether there is any truth in it as long as you can get the mainstream media to talk about it.

Quite honestly, I think they are being rather brilliant over in the White House because now it is Fox News being put on the spot and people are watching and listening. And believe me, just as the Press Secretary said, if they tune in at 5 and 7 in the evening, they will pretty much conclude that the White House is right!

Posted by: jaxas | October 21, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

shrink2, as much as I respect your opinions [I truly do] I do not see this post as "right leaning". I do see it as an attempt to be dispassionate in the moment, looking at the politics of the BHO criticism of some on Wall Street, not the policies.

The policy has been kinder to Wall Street than to Main Street. The small business people who cannot get loans that were ordinary for the last twenty or fifty years are being snuffed and jobs will be lost. I think you underrate small business as a growth component in America and I think the Admin is late to the game. Thus there is real skepticism about this Admin's Goldman oriented policies. If the new political line that BHO has spouted is followed quickly by liquidity in small commercial banks around the nation then he will be able to convert the skeptical who want him to succeed because they want America and themselves to succeed. If this was mere wordplay he will roll snake eyes.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 21, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

You certainly have an exquisitely appropriate blog handle paranoia60! I have heard some pretty crackpot, brewed on Pluto (Glenn Blecch's home planet!) assertions before but the idea that Barney Frank and ACORN are behind the financial collapse is absurdly laughable. Neither of them are sufficiently competent nor have the inancial heft to accomplish such a world shattering event.

Oddly, both Frank and ACORN have been targets of the bullfrog-like croakings of Rush Blimpbaugh and his pretty little tadpole Glenn Bleccch since the financial collapse--brought on not by their feeble actions but rather by truly sinister and nefarious forces on Wall Street--occurred last year.

However, it is pretty typical for the right that when they step in the big one they frantically cast themselves about looking for a handy scapegoat to blame their failures on. Unfortunately for them, the American peoplke are not buying the swill they are peddling as recent polls strongly suggest.

Read 'em and weep paranoia60.

Posted by: jaxas | October 21, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

You certainly have an exquisitely appropriate blog handle paranoia60! I have heard some pretty crackpot, brewed on Pluto assertions before but the idea that Barney Frank and ACORN are behind the financial collapse is absurdly laughable.

Oddly, both Frank and ACORN have been targets of the bullfrog-like croakings of Rush Blimpbaugh and his pretty little tadpole Glenn Bleccch since the financial collapse--brought on not by their feeble actions but rather by truly sinister and nefarious forces on Wall Street--occurred last year.

However, it is pretty typical for the right that when they step in the big one they frantically cast themselves about looking for a handy scapegoat to blame their failures on. Unfortunately for them, the American peoplke are buying the swill they are peddling as recent polls strongly suggest.

Read 'em and weep paranoia60.

Posted by: jaxas | October 21, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

The Fix is a right leaning opinion piece.
Today's example is a right leaning opinion piece, that is all it is.

It is important for people on the left to see how the last remaining people on the right who can string some coherent phrases together think and feel about their loss of America's heart and mind. For me, The Fix, embedded as it is in the Washington Post (context is ever so important) during these times, is part of the social crucible.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 21, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

An appeal by MoveOn.org:

"Dear MoveOn member,

All year, FOX has worked 24/7 to block President Obama's agenda—repeating lies about 'death panels,' promoting Tea Party protests, and whipping up fake political scandals.

Now, President Obama is fighting back. The White House communications director said FOX is a 'wing of the Republican Party...let's not pretend they're a news network' . . . To draw attention to its biased coverage, President Obama will not appear on FOX for the rest of this year . . . It's about time Democrats stood up to FOX! Can you sign this petition asking Democrats to support President Obama's stance by staying off FOX as long as he does? We'll deliver it to Sen. Burris and Sen. Durbin and Rep. Jackson. Clicking here will add your name."

Keep reading . . . .

"The petition says: 'Democrats should support President Obama's effort to call out FOX. Please stay off FOX for as long as he does.'

Democrats often appear on FOX in hopes of reaching out to conservative viewers. But FOX cuts off their mic, distorts what they say, or runs biased headlines at the bottom of the screen.4 In the end, Democrats always lose on FOX.

FOX insists there's a difference between its news shows and its right-wing opinion shows with Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, and others.

But in August, FOX's so-called news shows "aired 22 clips of town hall meeting attendees opposed" to Obama's health care plans and zero in support. CNN and MSNBC were more fair and balanced.

In another "news" story, FOX passed off a GOP press release as its own research—typo and all.

FOX executives now describe the channel as 'the voice of opposition' to Obama's agenda. FOX president Roger Ailes—a former adviser to Nixon, Reagan, and George H.W. Bush—said, 'I see this as the Alamo.'

But a Capitol Hill newspaper reports, 'In the House and Senate, Democrats who pledged to follow the administration's near-boycott of Fox were hard to find, although many expressed support for Obama's stance.'

Democrats will only find the courage to join Obama if they hear from enough concerned voters. Sign this petition to ask Sen. Burris and Sen. Durbin and Rep. Jackson to stay off FOX.

Clicking here will add your name:

http://civic.moveon.org/foxobama/o.pl?id=17603-17292837-6VfKBAx&t=4
Thanks for all you do.

Posted by: sherardg | October 21, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Somewhere in here Insurance Companies have to report THEIR profits. Populism pays attention to them, too.

As for, "But, as always, it's not that simple. Much of the populist anger is directed not just at corporate America but also at the government (and Obama) which many people believe has intruded far too much into the every day lives of its citizenry." That's just TartanTurf (Trade Mark). You know, U of M's (I believe) entry into the plastic grass business. Was supposed to be more natural looking and less likely to produce turf burns.

It is easy to stir up "Lots" of demonstrators for set piece demonstrations, where "lots of demonstrators" just have ti fill the carefully aimed lenses of participating TV cameras. There IS some populist objection to the President, but far more of it is over his unproductive insistance on getting the Republicans to come to the table and actually bring some useful dish with them.

The TartanTurf (Trade mark) vote will certainly be there for the republicans next year, but they would have been there regardless. The Populist vote, if it shakes out the vast unvoted, is what the Republicans have to fear. If the Newt gets Republicans to run on repealing the Health care bill as he threatens to do, all those non voters who are eagertoget to use their new health care benefits may rise up and torch the Republicans at the ballot box.

Barack, by the way, stayed away from the most populist of positions, but his entire campaign was based on populism, "Change we can believe in". That he understates his populism doesn't make it less effective.

Posted by: ceflynline | October 21, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

MarkM2, regarding your witless criticism of Obama having formulated his world view in some dope clouded dorm room and never grew up", that sounds live a far more accurate description of Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.

Both of these pathetic, small minded bigots have had addiction problems, both have had short interludes in dorm rooms where they were subsequently told in unflattering terms they did not fit in, both have narrow world views that really do not qualify as world views at all but rather nothing more than rural, hillbilly or Mormon hayseed, respectively, parocial views.

Look. I get it. You hate Obama because he represents everything else you hate--intelligent people with gravitas and a serious world view, Harvard graduate, law school professor, rational and deliberate in his actions, graceful in his movements and brilliant in his ability to articulate extemporaneously on a variety of complex subjects.

On the other hand, I can understand why you are attracted to the swine like Limbaugh or to the infant like Beck. Both speak in the language of street adolescents and recently pubed schoolboys.

Posted by: jaxas | October 21, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

Populism?

THE FCC HAS PROPOSED THE DEATH OF FREE, UNIVERSALLY AVAILABLE OVER-THE-AIR BROADCAST TV

"Fix" readers, you MUST see this story immediately and register your outrage at a policy that would amount to telecommunications FASCISM -- the expropriation of the public airwaves for private gain:

http://www.tvnewscheck.com/articles/2009/10/21/daily.4/

OR http://tvnewscheck.com "FCC Floats Cash-for-TV Spectrum Scheme"

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 21, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Obama has a lot nerve considering that Barney Frank, ACORN and Obama serving as their attorney are one of the principle causes of the Mortgage Meltdown.

Posted by: panola60 | October 21, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"Much of the populist anger is directed not just at corporate America but also at the government (and Obama) which many people believe has intruded far too much into the everyday lives of its citizens."

I had to read the statement a couple of times to get any meaning out of it. It is what those of us who are heavy consumers of political spin and jargon call a "sop". This was Cillizza"s sop to his few right wing readers.

This is why so many of us out here are furious with the mainstream media. They never seem to feel the need to throw a sop to the left. This is an example of the mainstream media's leaning over backward to appease right wing news and opinion consumers irrespective of the legitimacy of their view. For example, note Cillizza's heavy reliance on relative termsand phrases in making this virtually meaningless point: "Much of the populist anger...", "...many people believe", "far too much...".

You can well bet that when a reporter uses these sorts of relative, overgeneralized terms and phrases, he is being way too genererous. In this case, Cillizza ruined a perfectly valid and accurate point by pretty much making a bogus case for the right wing canard that a strong government intervention in the face of an imminent economic collapse is socialism.

More to the point, Cillizza did not attempt to challenge the entire notion that government is intruding "far too much into the everyday life of its citizens". There were no questions asking for specific examples of just how this is happening. There never is.

If the right were required to prove its overgeneraized assertions, I don't believe it could do it.

Posted by: jaxas | October 21, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

thanks shrink2, I've enjoyed your posts as well.

Posted by: katem1 | October 21, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

If the preisdent doesn't give a crap, then why was he on Meet the Press, This Week, and Face the Nation (not to mention Telemundo) a few weeks ago?

BB

Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | October 21, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

"this guy formulated his world view in some dope-clouded dorm room and then never grew up."

Is that Steve Jobs or Bill Gates you speak of?

Posted by: JEP07 | October 21, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

So why are so many wealthy contributors adding funds to Obama's future campaign chests?

I think there are a lot of very wealthy individuals who are disgusted with the abject greed their fellow millionaires and billionaires are revealing.

Not all rich folks are so unenlightened as the few who elicit most of the contempt from the "masses."

But these people stay quietly behind the scenes, doing what they consider best for the country, not just their shareholders.

Posted by: JEP07 | October 21, 2009 9:41 AM | Report abuse

PS Chris, speaking of two words, you could have dropped that derogatory, contemptible and revealing "his spleen" part of that remark, and your sentence would still be proper, while your contempt would be much less obvious.

BAD journalism, bud. All you did was provoke a few wingnuts to snicker at that disrespectful image, and proved once again you harbor some sort of personal contempt.

Seriously, what real purpose did it serve?

Posted by: JEP07 | October 21, 2009 9:33 AM | Report abuse

OBAMA POPULISM SIGNALS NEED TO POLICE ANTI-DEMOCRATIC ELEMENT WITHIN FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY

Chris Cillizza's admonition that populism carries with it a distrust of big, impersonal government is spot-on...

...and President Obama would be wise to cast a highly skeptical eye on key elements of the bureaucracy he inherited after eight years of the the Bush-Cheney Reign of Terror -- such as THIS:

***

COVERT FED DEPLOYMENT OF MICROWAVE/LASER RADIATION 'DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS' AGAINST U.S. CITIZENS MAKES HEALTH CARE REFORM A CRUEL JOKE.

Thousands of unjustly targeted Americans are being physically harmed their health and well-being degraded by silent irradiation with microwave and laser radiation "directed energy weapons"...

...the WEAPONIZATION OF THE ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM, CAMOUFLAGED AS CELL TOWERS and also available in portable weaponry to security and law enforcement...

... a silent "final solution" that may have the nation's political leadership in its ideologically-driven cross-hairs.

This technology is capable of altering moods, emotions, inducing fatigue, weakness, exhaustion, confusion, life-altering injury, disease and a slow-kill death.

And key elements of the Obama administration -- chief among them the defense/security/intel establishment -- are proliferating these technologies by various modalities -- reportedly, from hand-held weaponry to satellite and terrestrial cell tower based delivery systems.

American citizens and families targeted by this covert torture matrix also are subject to financial sabotage that decimates their livelihoods and financial resources...

...and relentless "community stalking" -- harassment, surreptitious home entries and vandalism by government-enabled vigilantes affiliated with federally-funded community policing and anti-terrorism organizations.

Warrantless, covert placement of GPS tracking devices and misuse of cell phone technology to hunt down the unjustly targeted enables this grassroots terrorism. But the Obama administration continues to allow these warrantless intrusions into the lives of unjustly targeted American families.

PRESIDENT OBAMA:

BAN the use of microwave/laser radiation directed energy weaponss against the American people (including experimentation); and

BAN the warrantless tracking of individuals via GPS or cellphone technology -- the electronic backbone of an American Gestapo now operating on YOUR watch.

BAN microwave/laser directed energy weapons as "weapons of mass destruction" -- and endorse an international treaty to ban such weaponry worldwide.

http://nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

OR (if link is corrupted / disabled): http://NowPublic.com/scrivener RE: "GESTAPO USA"

Posted by: scrivener50 | October 21, 2009 9:30 AM | Report abuse

"He's already gone after their anti-trust exemption"

ANyone else here find it repulsive that there would be anti-trust exemptions allowed, in ANY industry, let alone health care?

In these two words, the monopolists who have hijacked our supposed free enterprise system are exposed. And the only mechanism they have to grant themselves such freedom from All-American competition is OUR GOVERNMENT!

That is the mark of the monopolist; they need sleaze-bag politicians passing laws of favoritism just to succeed.

HYPOCRITES!

Posted by: JEP07 | October 21, 2009 9:29 AM | Report abuse

The issue, as far as I am concerned, is not Obama and his idiotic "anti-capitalism" tripe, since this guy formulated his world view in some dope-clouded dorm room and then never grew up. No, my question is this: What in the heck is wrong, mentally, with business leaders who pay money to support the Democrat Party and Barack Obama? Why contribute to the guy who is sworn to destroy you? karl marx made the point very well when he said that "when we hang the last capitalist he will probably sell us the rope."

Posted by: MARKM2 | October 21, 2009 9:26 AM | Report abuse

The President and the Congress will indeed pass financial reform legislation. Yet it probably won't be this year. Health care reform and climate change legislation are first on the list. All this plus the 2 wars and other huge messes that the Republicans and Bush didn't finish and left for President Obama.

mvd78209 wrote "The Obama Democrats’ attacks on its “enemies” - Fox News, banks, "greedy” medical specialists, Wall Streeters, Glenn Beck, health insurers, credit card companies and car company bondholders - should remind us that the administration’s fascist / populist programs and tactics echo those of Italy’s Falange in the 1920s, the Peronistas in Argentina in the 1940s and the Chavezistas in Venezuela today."

There is absolutely no comparison between democratically elected President Obama and the dictators you mention. Wall St. has indeed been screwing the people for years, as has credit card, and health insurance companies...they all need to be reformed. What planet do you live on? Glenn Beck? He is a dry drunk and a drug addict and isn't even credible. Beck called the President a racist and is inciting violence so it is no wonder the President and the WH are defending themselves. Your comments are based in pure projection. Look up what projection means and you might gain some insight into yourself.

If anything, Democrats are the one's being attacked with Republican lies, smears, and typical malignant Republican vitriol. Beck has been documented lying many times to a point where it is obvious that his sole purpose is to make money off suckers like you that watch his pathetic show. If this is the way the Republicans want to play...we will play...and we will play hardball. Republicans are extremely unpopular if you haven't noticed and Republicans are polling 22%. No one is listening to all these false accusation and paranoid fantasies that Beck and Limbaugh are filling your heads with. Your moronic attacks and name calling.."fascist" "marxist" "socialist' are nothing more than paranoid fantasies coming from a group of has been unilaterists.

Posted by: vintel7 | October 21, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

katem1, I like the cut of your jib.

Posted by: shrink2 | October 21, 2009 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Obama will continue to say bad things about the financial industry , while doing nothing to change it.

When he's out of office, Michelle will be appointed to 3 boards, at a salary of over 500K each

Posted by: tru-indy | October 21, 2009 8:25 AM | Report abuse

just like AndyR3 said, it's called being realistic, and listening to the people rather than governing by percentages like Bushco did. Chris, stick to cheer leading all the GOPers for 2010. You trying to figure out what the Prez is up to is ridiculous, you haven't "got it", that things have changed, and that this President doesn't give a crap about the media movers and shakers that traditionally set the conventional wisdom for a presidency. You've had to walk back from numerous forecasts of GOP strength in by-elections, so trying to "peg" the Prez is so outta your depth. Shhhh, listen, there's a GOP congressman in Georgia, (is it the one who called Obama "uppity"?)who you've known for a long time and really isn't racist, according to you, and needs a "plug" to get noticed for fundraising. Stick to what you know, Chris, and it sure isn't the President and how he thinks or feel, or governs.

Posted by: katem1 | October 21, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Can You Say “Enemies Of The People”? Do You Remember Nixon’s “Enemies List”?

The Obama Democrats’ attacks on its “enemies” - Fox News, banks, "greedy” medical specialists, Wall Streeters, Glenn Beck, health insurers, credit card companies and car company bondholders - should remind us that the administration’s fascist / populist programs and tactics echo those of Italy’s Falange in the 1920s, the Peronistas in Argentina in the 1940s and the Chavezistas in Venezuela today.

Posted by: mvd78209 | October 21, 2009 8:22 AM | Report abuse

Why is it so controversial for the president to make an attempt to halt the kind of irresponsible behavior that kicked off the current recession?

http://www.political-buzz.com/

Posted by: parkerfl1 | October 21, 2009 8:12 AM | Report abuse

I wouldn't say that Obama has turned into a populist. He is just expressing anger at the same men and women who were standing hat in hand 9 months ago begging for a bailout. I feel the same way, but if he really wants to hurt them he should tax hedgefund managers salaries as income and not investments.

Posted by: AndyR3 | October 21, 2009 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I read the Romney "Fix Pick". It is from the "IA Republican". The comments there were revealing, although probably only representative of "activists".

Posted by: mark_in_austin | October 21, 2009 7:49 AM | Report abuse

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