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(UPDATED) Will "Net Roots" get its first win today?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Boston Globe is certainly impressed with the effort up in CT. Let me say upfront, this post isn't about the race in CT, it is about the NetRoots effort and how it is being interpreted politically:
Lamont's strong challenge underscores the blogosphere's emergence as a new political power base, observers say. Already, high-profile presidential contenders are moving to appeal to the so-called ``net-roots": Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, hired a ``blog adviser" to aid her reelection efforts in November, and Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican recently followed suit.

A national bloggers' convention in Las Vegas in June that attracted Democratic heavyweights such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson featured a $50,000 party thrown by former Virginia Governor Mark Warner for net-roots activists.
Blog explosion on the horizon (did you know that Technorati just passed the 50 million threshold of blogs tracked?)?

Blogs are a natural fit for politics. They are prime venue for getting political information and positions out there (and a method of refining them as well through immediate feedback) but they'll also become the defacto "war rooms" which will respond to attacks, and a way to float trial balloons on positions on issues being contemplated.
``There's a whole culture being created that we don't know enough about, that's going to determine who's going to win this election on Tuesday and have a tremendous impact on politics in times to come," said Hank Sheinkopf, a veteran Democratic consultant.
Translation: wow, we need to exploit this!

Prediction: Between now and '08, blogs will become increasingly visible in the political realm and will indeed be part of the policy shaping apparatus (ok, that's a cheap and easy prediction ... I admit it).

Now whether that is good or bad depends on how you approach the subject:
But one political consultant noted that Democrats, already split on the Iraq war, are watching the Connecticut race carefully. What they see, he added, might not make them comfortable with the way the blogosphere has influenced the primary campaign — and amplified the public's antiwar sentiments.

``I don't expect war fever to dissipate in the Democratic Party," said Roger Stone, a Republican political consultant. ``This is an ominous sign . . . for Democrats who have supported the war."
Take that particular thought and apply it to any other issue you like. Whether you agree or disagree with the premise that Lieberman's troubles all stem from his support of the war, the point to be considered is the seeming success those who oppose him among blogs have had in translating on-line activism into having a real effect in an election.

Whether you are a fan of the NetRoots effort or not, you cannot, in good conscience, deny that effect (or the effort). And you can rest assured, as noted in the first cited paragraph of this post, politicians are watching CT carefully if for no other reason than that.
Nevertheless, political strategists say that the influence of bloggers has captured Democrats' attention, and party candidates will be keeping a close eye on the blogosphere heading into the fall election season.

``I think those who don't pay attention to [blogs] do so at their own peril," said Jack Corrigan, a Boston-based consultant. ``Not everyone understands it, but most campaigns are trying to pay attention to it."
Indeed. Kos, quoted in the article, says the following:
Blogs ``are fairly irrelevant when it comes to generating discontent," said Moulitsas, who appeared in a Lamont campaign ad. ``We can't generate discontent. We can amplify it."
I think that may be true now, but, and again this is just my opinion, given the growing political interest in blogs, that may change. I think at some point in the future it is indeed possible that at least some blogs may be capable of actually generating discontent. And that moment would be the true coming of age for the blogsophere. '08 may be that year.

It sure has been interesting to watch the 'sphere develop over the years. From a few folks with time on their hands giving opinions through self-publishing to what is becoming, at least in some areas of the venue, sophisticated efforts at activism and shaping public policy. I eagerly look forward to the next few years to see if the trend continues favorably for blogging.

UPDATE: Joe Lieberman has conceded defeat in the CT Democratic primary and announced his intention to run as an independent.
 
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McQ:

So far I think blogs are failing to reach their potential. I say that notwithstanding the obvious explosion in blogging and the evident real-world impact on politics (Lieberman-Lamont). Q&O is generally an exception, but most blogs — most of the best-known blogs — are simply providing an alternative route to what is already provided in the political culture: acrimony, dishonesty, manipulation. Because they mirror the larger political culture in their execution and aims they will unboubtedly be coopted by the political duoploy once their value is established. Right now, it appears that the bloggers are leading the political professionals but that won’t last. For one thing, the opinion-leader bloggers will shortly become part of the political establishment themselves. Indeed, that is already occurrring with Kos, etc.

My prediction is that those blogs which maintain their independence and integrity will be the ones that emerge as the true leaders of the blogosphere. OK, I admit that’s more of a hope than a prediction, but in any event, it’s good to fight the good fight even if you lose.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
McQ,

You wrote a post on American impatience and its effect on Global Politics, and the internet phenomenon is related to that. The demographic groups in the US that currently rely on the internet for their news and understanding of the world are probably the least equipped of any generation in history to properly use this tool.

People who grew up in an electonic age without the habits of mind that reading books provide, and are educated in increasingly dysfunctional public schools, do not always have the critical thinking skills and the storehouse of basic knowledge to critically evaluate and constructively use a huge spew of information, in which the good is mixed in with lies and propaganda.

Kos says that blogs do not generate discontent, but they do create echo chambers. It seems that most of America went on-line during the early to mid 1990’s. That is about the time that the Clinton administration became bogged down in scandals, conspiracy theories and the impeachment effort. Needless to say, this all intensified during Bush’s Presidency. I suspect that the internet has changed our politics for the worse.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
I think this is a bit excessive. What evidence do we have of the Netroots affect on the CT primary, or any primary for that matter? What percentage of CT democrats have ever read a blog? Much less been influenced by one politically?

It’s just a guess, but I’d venture that less than 10% of voters ever read blogs.
 
Written By: Davebo
URL: http://
"Netroots" and Lamont’s victory or defeat.... it’s the equivalent of the "Angry White Male" of 1994 or Clinton’s "Soccer Moms" or "Jesus-land" in 2004. It’s a nice story, but is it true? Netroots will want everyone to "know" that they "made" Lamont, (The Big Dummy). But they contributed a minority of Lamont’s campaign cash. They might be very influential, but did they "make" Lamont? I don’t know.

The New Conventional Wisdom is tht Joe doesn’t run as an Independent, to preserve Party unity, and then goes to work for Bush. I don’t know about those two things either. IF, the Q-Polls show Joe with a chance to win in the General, he just might run and win...

So it will be a mixed Netrrots "victory" in that case. They finally got someone to the General, but he could still lose in it.

Finally Lanny Davis has piece on the race that is a hoot... there is bigotry, narrow-mindedness and Anti-Semitism... ON THE LEFT, OMG ! Who Knew? Lanny must have been living in coccon most of his life, I guess.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
This is interesting. A sitting Senator getting knocked off in a primary is certainly nothing new — indeed used to be a much more frequent event than it is today. It has historically been commonplace in single-party states, which Connecticut is increasingly becoming. However, throw a new medium into the mix, and suddenly it becomes a "netroots" phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong, as someone who practices in this medium I enjoy the attention, but I don’t think the netroots are all that much more responsible for this than Right netroots were for Bob Smith’s primary loss in ’02, or Jacob Javits’ primary loss in ’80, &c.

That said, I believe that, technically speaking, the first true netroots win would be Tester over Morrison in Montana.
 
Written By: Sean
URL: http://www.myelectionanalysis.com
I have always viewed the netroots movement as the way Americans now go out and draw intention to their cause. During the Vietnam era, there were thousands of college students who would go out to rallies and protest the war, or whatever cause they believed in. During the 21st century, college students (myself included) are now using blogs to voice their frustration with certain topics. I think the blogosphere could perhaps even be more affective than the traditional protest because bloggers can respond to events in a matter of mere seconds.

Furthermore, as the Boston Globe article points out, people are able to publish posts on every little thing that goes on in today’s news. That means that an effective blogger will have to show at least some knowledge of the topic he or she is discussing, so that they can fit the event into the whole scheme of things. As a result, I believe their opinion will be perceived as more credible than the MSM analyst who simply reports what happened.
 
Written By: Bryan J. Scrafford
URL: http://ambivalentmumblings.blogspot.com
Well Bryan we’ll see. I don’t mean to be dismissive, but I remember a candidate for the US Presidency in 2004 that the Netroots bunch LOVED. Netroots don’t equal votes. I love blogging, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into votes....
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
You can argue that the Netroots got their first win when they managed to catapult Dean into a serious leadership position instead of the obscurity he deserved.

The question is will the loony left get their first major win today? I say if they do, the GOP also wins.

Go KOS go!
 
Written By: shark
URL: http://
It’s just a guess, but I’d venture that less than 10% of voters ever read blogs.
"Netroots" involves a bit more than just a blog.

In general, you’re probably right Davebo, et al., that the direct influence of specific blogs is fairly low. However, those who are influenced go out to the general electorate and spread the message. And don’t forget that some of those bloggers appear in and direct campaign commercials for candidates. That surely counts as having some impact on the race, doesn’t it?
 
Written By: MichaelW
URL: http://asecondhandconjecture.com
MichaelW has it pretty close here, I think. The Netroots are a megaphone, an amplifier. They are not a driving force, but a force multiplier.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Yeah Michael, but Lamont said he did not know that woman. ;)

Wonder if she will appear on the stage along with Matt Stoller. All being forgiven and that.
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
It appears that the left blogs try to set the political agenda (Dean, Lamont, etc.), while right blogs play a more tactical role (forged NG memos, Miers, photoshoped Reuters photos).

This is no doubt dictated to a large degree by circumstances: the MSM has long been a water carrier for the left, and only political winners nominate judges. But it is interesting.

The right blogs have been effective. The left blogs might have some success, which will likely feed GOP success in the bigger picture.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Don, well they (the left blogs) did break the really big story. You know, er, ah Jeff Gannon. Those TNG forgery stories just pale before it.

 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
People who grew up in an electonic age without the habits of mind that reading books provide, and are educated in increasingly dysfunctional public schools, do not always have the critical thinking skills and the storehouse of basic knowledge to critically evaluate and constructively use a huge spew of information, in which the good is mixed in with lies and propaganda.
Well, perhaps that is true, but hardly describes the Blogging community. I would say with some certainty that the majority of bloggers, left, right, and inbetween
are well read, and well educated.
Nor will this change even when the internet grows in popularity. Because the people who are naturally incurious simply won’t go to political blogs.


 
Written By: kyle N
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
As someone else pointed out, those who are stressing the importance of non-winger blogs are those who do not share their agenda. Kos, Atrios and others have spent a lot of time downplaying their effect on the race. It has been the mainstream/right of center commentators, e.g., Will, Cokie Roberts, etc., that have been overemphasizing their importance.
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
MichaelW has it pretty close here, I think. The Netroots are a megaphone, an amplifier. They are not a driving force, but a force multiplier.

Written By: Jon Henke
I disagree a bit with Jon in that the netroot people selected the ISSUE they were fed up with Lieberman about, then went after him on it. Which makes them the driving force and Lamont just their vehicle.

The Netroots and other similar organizations may grow to far past the radical activists to regular Repubs and Democrats. Remember, we live in a time when people in both Parties are convinced they, their letters, their phone calls have ABSOLUTELY no effect on Representatives dominated by inside the Beltway megamillionaire power brokers and pay to play lobbyists. The sense of Congress being aloof, arrogant, and unaccountable to the masses forced to choose between a Republican Frick and a Democratic Frack. Congress’s approval in down to the high teens.

Netroots is about stealing away the people from the fatcats claiming to be the Head Negro in Charge of the Black Vote (Jesse Jackson), the Head of the Jewish Vote (AIPAC’s Prez), Leader of the Seniors, Designated Hollywood Bagmen, Annointed Disburser of HMO funds, Lead Enviro-Lobbyist, etc.

A Republican net-based group may select a state or be national - but direct activities to drag their Senator and Reps away from their K Street feeding troughs and focus on immigration enforcement and fiscal responsibility, or watever other issue they sense the Ruling Elites are blowing them off on. And Democrats may enforce some other issue they believe they were spat on by their elected Rep on, such as Lieberman’s preference to do cheek kisses with Bush and "follow my own conscience with is higher than you mere CT voters".

Republicans are ready to clean out the corrupticans. Hopefully before the Dems do it for them.

Democratic and Republican groups might even get together and begin discussing and agreeing on proposals that Congress is "too busy meeting important people" to work on - like universal heath care and an energy plan that cuts out the ANWAR environuts and the more and bigger SUVs symbolize Freedom Repub reactionaries.
 
Written By: C. Ford
URL: http://
Pretty interesting is the fact that for such a closely watched primary race, I can’t find a lick of news about potential results. This at 7PM Eastern.

It’s almost like there’s a news blackout on it.

Or that the MSM is being overly cautious, lest they be wrong.

That’d be a first!!!
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
Yeah MK I’d agree and Markos appearing in that TV commercial, they meant nothing... You so funny.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
Polls close at 8pm in CT.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Aldo: "People who grew up in an electonic age without the habits of mind that reading books provide, and are educated in increasingly dysfunctional public schools, do not always have the critical thinking skills and the storehouse of basic knowledge to critically evaluate and constructively use a huge spew of information, in which the good is mixed in with lies and propaganda."

Who says bloggers don’t read books? Most of the bloggers I’ve interacted with are incredibly well-read. I don’t know about the typical blog reader, but I would suspect that most blog-writers read considerably more than average.
 
Written By: Brad Warbiany
URL: http://unrepentantindividual.com/
The question is whether these sort of tactics play in wider races than a CT primary. I believe I heard that in CT, you register for political parties, so only registered Democrats would be able to vote in the Dem primary, no? And that in CT, they have an absolutely huge number of registered Independents.

Now, I haven’t looked into this enough to verify that, but if true, think of the result. The only people registered Dem are the far left, most of the "moderate" Dems are registered Independent. Thus, the far left is the only group voting today. It seems like it’s a perfect storm for a far left candidate to unseat a moderate left candidate.
 
Written By: Brad Warbiany
URL: http://unrepentantindividual.com/
Pretty interesting is the fact that for such a closely watched primary race, I can’t find a lick of news about potential results. This at 7PM Eastern.
It’s now 9:37pm Eastern and I haven’t found any TV coverage. I’m following the race here.
I believe I heard that in CT, you register for political parties, so only registered Democrats would be able to vote in the Dem primary, no? And that in CT, they have an absolutely huge number of registered Independents.
I saw something a few days ago that said that a lot of the independents were changing their registrations to Democrat in order to vote in the primary. And they are expected to change right back to Independent afterwards.
 
Written By: Vivian J. Paige
URL: http://vivianpaige.wordpress.com
At 10:30, CNN is reporting 75% of precincts reporting with Lamont leading Lieberman 52% to 48%.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Incidentally, this is the Netroots first major victory, but it’s not their first. Contra the 0-20 line, the "netroots" have actually won a few primaries and been important components of other races.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Who says bloggers don’t read books? Most of the bloggers I’ve interacted with are incredibly well-read. I don’t know about the typical blog reader, but I would suspect that most blog-writers read considerably more than average.
Perhaps I strayed off topic a little, but my comment related to the internet in general, not specifically to bloggers.

First of all, I was relating the effects of this medium to McQ’s observations about the dwindling of the American attention span. People used to say that television conditioned the baby boomers to expect problems to be neatly resolved in a 1/2 hour or an hour. I don’t know how true that is, but we are now in the age of Generation Y or Z, and this generation no longer has to wait a half hour for Jack Lord to yell "Book ’em Danno!" Now it is possible to grab a joystick and blow the villain away yourself, immediately. Similarly, the internet gives us information immediately, but usually in McNuggets that do not provide the depth or context of books, and reading from the computer does not require the same sort of patience, immersion, and absorption, as reading a book. It is a different skill.

I think an even bigger problem than impatience, though, is that younger generations who have grown up with the internet and so many other electronic entertainment options have, generally speaking, not read as broadly and deeply and continuously through their lives as earlier generations who had fewer options for passing the time. Combine this with public education systems that have been steadily "dumbing down" their standards and curriculum, and the result is more people than ever who lack the critical thinking skills to evaluate information properly. These are not the people who are creating blogs, but they may be the people who populate virtual places like Free Republic and Democratic Underground.

Whatever one may think about bias in the MSM, at least the old grey media institutions provided some filters for accuracy. The New York Times, for example, would never have uncritically reported, as KOS did, that the Bush administration blew up the levees in New Orleans during hurricane Katrina in order to kill blacks.

Now we have a situation where people who are not equipped to undertand the history or context of the information that they are receiving, and not equipped with good reasoning skills, are able to plug into the internet and receive a constant stream of information that is spun and tailored to fit their own worldview, and to effortlessly make contact with and join together with others who share the same viewpoint.

The Lamont/Lieberman race may prove that people like KOS can manipulate and mobilize enough of these people to have an effect on national politics, and people like Mona who are terrified of the "neocon" bugaboo are cheering him on. Whatever the faults of the neocons, though, they are a spent force, politically, and the netroots are a growing force. It seems to me that the netroots are the ones to be wary of in the future.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
Now we have a situation where people who are not equipped to undertand the history or context of the information that they are receiving, and not equipped with good reasoning skills, are able to plug into the internet and receive a constant stream of information that is spun and tailored to fit their own worldview, and to effortlessly make contact with and join together with others who share the same viewpoint.

The Lamont/Lieberman race may prove that people like KOS can manipulate and mobilize enough of these people to have an effect on national politics, and people like Mona who are terrified of the "neocon" bugaboo are cheering him on. Whatever the faults of the neocons, though, they are a spent force, politically, and the netroots are a growing force. It seems to me that the netroots are the ones to be wary of in the future.
Aldo:

Good points. Yes, the neocons have been thoroughly humiliated and are finished politically, though until (unless) repudiated by Bush, they will remain a force in foreign policy. Your critiques of the internet here and in previous posts are incisive. Indeed, the blogosphere, rather than elevating political discourse, has to date served mainly to spawn new and more virulent echo chambers which are easily exploited by manipulators. Present company excepted, of course.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Thank you DS.

Think back ten or 15 years when most of America was just getting connected to the internet through dial-up services like AOL, and internet discussion forums were becoming popular. This is about the time that the Clinton Presidency suddenly was faced with one widely believed Republican conspiracy theory after another, from drug running out of Mena Airport to the Vince Foster "assassination". I think politics changed in that moment.

The difference now is that the crackpots and conspiracy theorists are no longer content to comment from the sidelines. With the Lamont candidacy they are becoming a moving force within the Democratic party.
 
Written By: Aldo
URL: http://
To characterize my feelings towards Democrats right now, I feel as if they are little lost lambs eagerly chomping garlic and rosemary, and salt and pepper just so they’re tastier meals for the Republian wolves.

Oh the giddy euphoria of watching your opponents buy Kool-Aid by the tanker full...

Still give even odds the R’s lose the House in 2006 though.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
So, anyone think the media coverage will be this conservative in Nov, or more importantly in ’08, ie waiting till the polls close before speculating on the outcome??
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
The Democratic netroots is catalyzing the schism within the Democratic party, operating in the guise of re-energizing the party (though some might call it a purge). I certainly agree that the Democratic party has lost its way. Its raison d’etre post-FDR has been liberalism but liberalism peaked in the 60s and has turned to rot since, taking the Democrats down with it. Carter was a reactionary and failed president who only enhanced liberalism’s disrepute. And Clinton was no exception; he won as a Republican-light, not as a liberal Democrat. The netroots are attempting to resuscitate liberalism as the guiding philosophy of the Democratic party. I think they may succeed in gaining control of the party — it is an easy mark, being adrift and listless anyway — but liberalism, as such, is done. True, the Democrats may well gain control of the House in 2006, maybe even the Senate, but I suspect that the glory will be short-lived if traditional liberalism is the centerpiece.

Moreover, I have little doubt that the Democrats, once in control of either Congressional body will immediately turn guns blazing on the Bush Admininistration resulting in non-stop investigations, and likely leading to serious impeachment efforts. That seems inevitable for several reasons: 1) the Democrats do not really have policy alternatives to offer; 2) there will be the schism between the netroots-type traditional Dems and the centrists that will hinder concerted policy development; and 3) even if the Dems had policy initiatives to present, they would probably go nowhere, with a Republican president (and probably Senate, too). That leaves attacking Bush as the only common ground and galvanizing force.

All that said, I also believe that Conservatism is in decline. The Republicans have clearly overreached, but is is more than that. Ideologies like liberalism and conservatism have a relatively short half-life. But even after they expire there is the lag time within which the adhering party maintains political control despite the decline of its controlling ideology. That, I think, is where the Republicans are now.

If both Liberalism and Conservatism have been exhausted, what does that leave? Probably the centrism that Clinton practiced. But that is not the stuff of excitement, and it may well take a brilliant politician like Clinton to make it saleable. (Look at what happened to Dukakis who ran on "competency," and to Kerry who tried to straddle every issue.) Plus, Clinton being Clinton, he undoubtedly damaged the very movement he spearheaded.

The question really is which party will re-invent itself first. With control of the Democratic party being wrest by the hard-core liberals of the netroots, my money is on the Republicans. If neither major party can do it expeditiously enough, then a third-party may emerge.
 
Written By: David Shaughnessy
URL: http://dsthinkingloud.blogspot.com/
Quotes are from David S:
All that said, I also believe that Conservatism is in decline.
It is highly improbable you’ve ever seen a conservative American administration, since I don’t know that we’ve had one even slightly conservative since Calvin Coolidge.

I agree that the anti-federalist populism and triangulation are in decline. The first is what passes for Conservatism under Bush, and triangulation is what Clinton is infamous for—ask Lieberman where being a reasonable, moderate liberal got him*.

*It may yet get him into the Senate as an KLI. Known Liberal Independent. Lamont of course is under the KMD designation, Known Moonbat Democrat.
If both Liberalism and Conservatism have been exhausted, what does that leave?
Even if what you say there is uncomplicatedly true, the duopoly is stable. The Democratic corpse needs to be pushed over, I suggest we push on it instead of the Republicans because it the weakest part of the duopoly. When they fall over, we can start on Repubs.

I have no idea of you agree, but my goal is to undo the New Deal with the least net harm done, have a Fully Informed Jury Amendment, a one page federal income tax reform with a flat rate if possible (single personal deduction if not) and the abolition of every other form of federal income other than criminal and civil fines, dumping the DEA and ATF. Undoing the Wickard Supreme Court Case, and the Slaughterhouse cases. Leaving marriage to the states. Etc, etc.

I want to pick up where the Republicans started going effectually mercantilist and not go there, repeal the 17th amendment, and see what happens.

Gridlock won’t get me there. It just puts a thumb on the high side of a scale I want to knock down.

Yours, TDP, ml, msl, & pfpp
 
Written By: Tom Perkins
URL: http://
Keith ... as one reporter reported on CNN last night, there are no exit polls in primaries or run-offs.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net
Damn, I was hoping this might be a sea change in reporting style...
 
Written By: Keith, Indy
URL: http://
All that said, I also believe that Conservatism is in decline. The Republicans have clearly overreached, but is is more than that. Ideologies like liberalism and conservatism have a relatively short half-life.
Uhh, the Republicans haven’t put conservatism into practice in any meaningful sense. When they start doing things like rolling back the New Deal (like Tom said) and the Great Society, then we can talk about it.
If both Liberalism and Conservatism have been exhausted, what does that leave? Probably the centrism that Clinton practiced.
I’d put centrist in quotes with respect to Bill. Hillery care was not centrist, nor was the crime bill (’94 AWB). Hence payback in November ’94. On the other hand, welfare reform is not what I’d call centrist, either, despite its wide popularity (the reason "centrist" Bill signed).

Bill’s popular legislation was stuff the R congress sent him.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://

 
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