Los Angeles

Why Did the Times Switch This Solyndra-Program Headline?


When Neela Banerjee's summary of a Department of Energy audit went up on the Los Angeles Times site at two minutes after noon on the west coast, it seemed to imply that Energy Secretary Steven Chu had a less-than-sure hand on the DOE's green loan guarantee program: 

Actually, this is politics then.

Then, maybe sometime before three minutes after noon, the same story shed its headline and grew a new one, which retroactively manages expectations of how damaging the audit was going to be: 

THIS is politics now.

In my day a switch like that might have been necessitated by another story competing for paper real estate, or to avoid butting headlines, or due to the cancelation or addition of an advertisement. I don't miss those days, but sometimes I miss the non-malleability of paper and ink.

I don't imagine such scarcities apply at a news web site, but I did hear a while back that the FCC is in charge of the internet now. So there's that. 

Otherwise, why did this headline change?

NEXT: Gingrich Delivers Stump Speech at CPAC

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  1. …to fuck little children as debt payment, like here:

    Afghanistan’s Opium Child Brides
    By Monsicha Hoonsuwan
    Feb 9 2012, 7:23 AM ET

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  2. Down the memory hole!

    1. The earlier first comment here, less than 15 minutes ago, had linked to this article. http://www.theatlantic.com/int…..es/252638/

      When I finished reading the article, the comment, which blamed capitalists for the problem described in the article, had disappeared.

      I was looking forward to reading a debate about that assertion that capitalism exploits children.

      Is it true that the custodians of an article about a memory hole deleted a post that, while perhaps not perfectly on topic, and containing an expletive, had been intellectually promising?


      1. Well, obviously more than 15 minutes ago, sorry. Time flies when posting.

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      2. It was posted by a bipolar griefer who pollutes these threads with bizarre attacks, incoherent feminist diatribes, terrifying attempts to flirt with Episiarch, copypasta anarchoprimitivist screeds.

        Occasionally she says something provocative, but it’s by accident and her response to responses is the usual word salad.

        Once she gets her freak on, the thread becomes an unreadable mess of her rants and stalking. She latches on to people who make the mistake of responding to her like an ovipositor stage alien onto John Hurt.

        It’s not the content that causes Reason to delete her posts, it’s the pattern of unacceptable behavior.

        If you want to discuss the matter, have at it.

        1. It seems like such a libertarian idea. Free markets. Free sex. Voluntary slavery.

          I suppose that’s why the comment disappeared, and why Tarran’s panties are in such a twist now.

          1. Who feels the need to shift the blame to the non-culpable in place of confront the actual guilty parties. Much easier to do it that way, right?

            1. Not I. So you’re correct, in a way.

        2. Ah, thanks, tarran. I hadn’t recognized the handwriting, nor the predictable devolution.

          Since apart from the link, the comment was sparse, I had been looking forward to following a debate among those versed in the various aspects of the topic – I fear I’m ill equipped to contribute, certainly not to initiate a substantive exchange.

          1. I don’t think there’s much to discuss: slavery is not a permissible part of a libertarian social order.

            One does not own children under the libertarian system of property rights. We can contrast this to common law in the U.S.: children are ersatz chattel of their parents except they can’t be bought, sold, neglected etc.

            In Pashtunwali, the common law equivalent governing the Pashtun tribes, the tribe is the basic legal unit, and this sort of thing, giving a duaghter’s hand in marriage in exchange for the forgiveness of a debt or as judgement in a lawsuit is depressingly common. In would be one thing if the girl was capable of giving her consent and did consent to the arrangement. That is clearly not happening and in fact the girl’s thoughts are not even taken into effect.

            The situation is exarcebated by the cultural shift occuring as a result of the Taliban. The traditional Pashtun consider themselves to be very caring of their womenfolk, and find the Taliban’s unremitting misogyny troublesome. The presence of the Taliban for the past 18 or so years has probably created a permanent shift in the culture towards a more misogynistic setup.

            1. “I cannot conclude this essay without noting that there are many libertarian theoreticians who disagree with me on this issue of voluntary slavery. But none of them confuse voluntary and coercive slavery, and accuse those few of us who support the former with favoring the latter.”

              Privatizing Rivers and Voluntary Slave Contracts
              by Walter Block


            2. So, a more severe tension than the familiar dilemma between protecting domestic cult members’ rights vs. protecting their children’s rights (as viewed from outside the cult), or between humanitarian recognition of, and intervention on behalf of, individuals considered not-yet-educated/enlightened enough to assert their own natural rights over the false-consciousness in which they were indoctrinated.

              I must sign off for the moment here.

              1. I wouldn’t say false consciousness so much as a lack of the concept of individual rights.

                The clan reigns supreme, and people have an obligation to obey the dictats of the clan leaders.

                I suspect they think they are doing their daughter a favor by reasoning thus:

                If the guy can’t provide for his duaghter, she is doomed, a child beggar will be kidnapped and raped and enslaved.

                By giving her in exchange for the relief of his debt, he is available to protect her should her husband mistreat her (according to the twisted standards in place). His honor is intact. Her husband a rich man (since he’s loaning money to people) will have obligations towards her and her father.

                Thus she goes from a household where she cannot be supported to one where she can be supported. I suspect they view it as a no-brainer.

                1. Fair enough.

                  So when does an outsider have a right/duty to intervene on behalf of another’s pre-self-recognized individual rights?

                  When is such intervention not the initiation of, but a response to a third-party aggressor’s prior initiation of, force [and/] or fraud?

              2. IOW, is the Prime Directive a good idea?

                1. Had to look that up.

                  Having libertarianism, I feel no need for science fiction. 😉

                  1. You’ll find that a big chunk of science fiction deals with libertarian principles.

                    1. So I’ve suspected from comments here. It’s just a temperamental thing, maybe platonic in nature: Adding more fictions to my head already crowded with them seems counter-productive, though I understand the homeopathic principle of finding truth within a deliberately constructed illusion, and the little I’ve read has been refreshing. I leave it to those who can multi-task among different realities.

    2. Disappeared down the memory hole. Reason isn’t any better than what they criticize.

      But then we already knew that.

      1. Wait…only the government can censor, right? LOL

      2. Sorry, this was, at least to my observation, a highly atypical disappearance, whence my puzzlement.

        1. Rich people like that stuff, since they have the most economic power.

          1. KILL THE RICH PEOPLE!!!

      3. Not remotely the same thing.

        Reason didn’t take back something it said, it removed graffiti placed there by a third party.

        1. But lucky we’ve got a libertarian sea-lawyer to tell us the difference.

          1. You libertarians are STILL a bunch of goddamn Nazis. Every fucking one of you.

            I WILL have my revenge.

  3. How did you catch that? If it was there for less than a minute, that’s an amazing catch.

    1. Tim stalks his former employer.

      1. He should try facebook. I hear its a good way to keep in touch with your exes, whether they want to or not.

        1. All my ex’s live in Texas
          And that’s why I hang my hat in Tennessee

  4. Otherwise, why did this headline change?

    Because the “impartial professional journalists” are mendacious partisan shits who haven’t a shred of integrity?

    1. Fifth Estate, Fifth Column ehh same difference.

    2. “impartial professional journalists” are mendacious partisan shits who haven’t a shred of integrity

      Where did the impartial professional journalists touch you, Episiarch?

      1. Speaking of “impartial,” can someone please tell me how a DOE audit headed by a governmnet official who oversaw the financial sector bailout could be considered “independent?”

  5. An independent audit of the federal loan guarantee initiatives that backed the troubled solar technology company Solyndra failed to turn up the waste and broad incompetence that critics assert riddled the programs.

    But the audit showed the laws passed from 2005 to 2009 that established the programs in question at the Energy Department had few provisions for thorough monitoring and oversight of the loan guarantees once they were approved.

    Perhaps they feared readers would not get past the first paragraph before they threw up their hands in frustration, seeing a headline that didn’t match the contents of that initial sentence.

    Anyway, how did you catch this?

    1. Huh. I don’t know about the headline change, but I LIKE that first paragraph very much.

      Think about it. If the problem was gross waste and incompetence, then it will make sense to more people that they just need to fix the “problems” with their loan guarantee initiatives approach.

      On the OTHER hand, if there WEREN’T any big problems with choosing a company, and it STILL failed miserably, what does that say about loan guarantee initiatives (i.e., picking winners and losers)? They are NOT good ideas.

      1. I’m afraid that’s too sophisticated an argument for the New Republic crowd, who will simply point out that the visible waste did not occur so it must be good.

  6. My guess is that a press person from the White House called up and yelled and screamed. Reporters often bend to antics like that because if they don’t they get shut out.

  7. The simple fact that this company went BANKRUPT despite receiving a half billion in free money from tax payers pretty much answers the “was this company badly managed” argument without even requiring an in-depth analysis.

    The Times is beginning to make the NYT look downright neutral.

  8. Attack waaaaaaaaaaatch has a web crawler function and alerted the authorities. That’s my new guess.

    1. I love that we live in a world where the Prez has his very on White Knight squad.

  9. Man, fuck Chrome and the way it resizes and rearranges images. The only reason I use it is for reasonable.

    1. Isn’t there a new version out?

    2. The browser wars are so dead.

      1. I use IE, FF, and Chrome all because none of them is perfect. Really, I only use IE for work stuff. I use Chrome mainly for this site and because it’s pretty fast, but Firefox has a great (imo) Javascript blocker.

        1. By default. Chrome is ok but quirky. I rarely use IE, and only for that rare web site that won’t work with FF.

  10. You know it’s coming:

    why did this headline change?


  11. Given the art, I felt running “Solyndra” in the headline was a bit redundant. That’s all that happened.

  12. Seattle Times did that once on a story about acupuncture, but changed it to a more honest version.

    The first story headlilne declared that Acupuncture helped ease back pain. In their second paraphraph, the story debunks its own headline, so they changed the headline to “Fake Acupuncture helps ease back pain”

    1. I can understand the mistake there, since there isn’t any REAL acupuncture, it’s ALL a fake.

      1. If acupuncture weren’t real, my knee would be fine and I would still be an adventurer like you.

        1. Wait… are you saying that acupuncture is real and screwed up your knee or that acupuncture is real and fixed your knee? I need to know how to make fun of you.

          1. He’s saying that he used to be an adventurer like you, but then he took an arrow to the knee.

  13. Why did the NYT suddenly attack Apple? Bad press after the Issacsson book which detailed Jobs disdain for the Obama Administration. When fascists take control, they don’t stand on their electoral success. They take everything.

    1. Because now that Jobs is dead, Apple is just another corporation making billions of dollars and off-shoring their factories.

      Plus that fuck-you quote by Jobs about the vertical-grade difficulty of opening up a factory in the U.S. due to the regulatory and Union climate is probably beginning to sink in.

      1. Unrequited love is a painful thing.

      2. I honestly think lefties were happier when Apple was a boutique and slightly-overpriced computer manufacturer. Now that they are making goods that regular joe-shmoes purchase they are too bourgeois to get a pass. Add onto that that their goods are priced in-parity (or better) with similar products and they make massive amounts of EVUL PROFITZ due to some awesome supply chain management and you got a recipe for some hate.

        tl;dr Lefties only liked Apple because it seemed elitest and now that Apple is big and everywhere and (worst of all) immensely profitable they are a target for hate.

        1. Apple was even better when they just made clunky shitbox flesh colored office computers. You could print on that paper that has holes in the sides.

        2. Apple became the darling of entertainment types, graphic artists, and others back when the best photo and film editing software was made for Macs. That initial love was accompanied by a feeling of superiority (I’m not sure where that came from) for those users, and people who want to feel superior saw that and said “I must get a Mac too and feel superior!” Thus the Mac cult was born. Apple then ran with that, and did so extremely well, but now, with Jobs gone and a lot of competition in the gadget market, I think they’re losing the “I am superior because I have Apple” shine.

          I mean, an iPad is a slick device, but so is an Asus Transformer Prime.

          1. I read that as Anus Transformer Prime. And I thought, “yep”.

            1. Nasty, Nasty, Nasty.

          2. I don’t think it’s about being superior because it’s Apple, I think it’s about a superior user experience that is heads and tails above Android. There really isn’t as much competition in the gadget space as you might think when it comes to that sort of polished product. I’m all for getting a competing mobile/tablet OS out there, especially an open one. WinPho7 is getting there (I think version 8 will be a huge boost), and I’m really looking forward to seeing what MS can do with ARM hardware and the Metro UI in Win8. Also whatever comes out of HP open-sourcing webOS will be interesting. All of those products actually offer a comparably polished experience to Apple’s offerings.

            BTW – I attended a MS event recently and the lead developer was rocking a 13″ MacBook Air and an iPad. I don’t know if you can call it a “cult” anymore when they are that common.

            1. Only being able to run one app at a time isn’t what I’d call a superior user experience, but I suppose I would agree that their UI is slicker and smoother than Android’s. Still, Android is getting slicker too, and as you say, WinMobile is too, bringing the competition to Apple.

              Still, a lot of people who I’ve met who were big AppleHeads weren’t because they knew or even understood the different user experiences (I’m more primarily talking about PC/laptops here); they had just decided they were Mac people, and it was basically because they wanted to be in that smaller, “select” group. There’s a reason people, like hipsters, who eschew anything that is widely popular, are often Apple people, and it’s not for technical reasons. But now everyone has an iPod, and more people have tablets, and it’s less “select”. So what does Apple have to offer these people? Not much, because what they cared about wasn’t the user experience so much; it was the cache.

              I attended a MS event recently and the lead developer was rocking a 13″ MacBook Air and an iPad

              A Microsoft developer, that works for Microsoft? He must have had Boot Camp on that thing to load Windows because you can’t get Visual Studio for a Mac.

              1. How do people type documents on their phones? I can’t do a text message without a hundred typos.

              2. Objective C for teh lulz!

                1. No fucking shit. I’m pretty sure it’s called “Objective”-C because it was invented by a Randroid trying enforce his bizarre view of calling methods on the world.

              3. iOS has been doing multi-tasking for a while now. Double-tap the home button and a list of your running programs come up.

                Apple will probably lose the lefty-green-hipster type (if they dare to remain profitable), but the problem for the hipsters is that there is no such thing as a free-range, fair-trade, handmade microprocessor. Most of the phones are made by a few Asian mega-corporations and they use labor practices the hipsters find abhorrent. God forbid that people choose to assemble phones in an air-conditioned factory instead of spending 10 hours per day knee-deep in a rice paddy (racist!).

                I had a Mac as a kid (System 7) and ended up getting a PC in 97 or so because, let’s face it, Apple sucked back then. I really didn’t become interested in Macs again until the big switch to Intel happened and Macs started to become full-fledged UNIX machines with OSX 10.4. Mostly, I work in Terminal, a web browser, and a text editor while the Apple-y stuff “just works” for the things I don’t really want to worry about (wifi, backup, sleep/wake). Plus there’s a ton of awesome dev tools now, homebrew owns.

                Granted, 10.7 has been a bit of a pain in the ass since they moved over to the LLVM compiler instead of GCC and mucked around with the UI in strange ways.

                Yeah the guy was a MS developer, it was pretty interesting talking to him. I’d imagine it’s either his travel laptop or he’s bootcamping, but he was definitely running OS X. Mind you, I use Win 7, OS X, and Linux pretty much every day so it’s not like multiple OS’s are anything strange 😛

            2. I have a Galaxy Nexus with Ice Cream Sandwich. It is in my opinion a far better user experience and very slick.

              1. Soooo… huunngryyy…

          3. The “mac cult” is a figment of the imagination of PC web site hacks who are embarrassed at the inferiority of the products they’re paid to shill.


            1. It most certainly isn’t. As Epi said, it’s not so prevalent now, but a while back it was an integral strategy of Apple marketing. I can also give you about a million anecdotes of the mac cult mentality.

            2. “Inferiority” is not a universal concept at the system level. There is only “inferior in a certain respect.” For those of us in the real world cost is an independent variable that has to be considered among other ones. If all you need is a machine to surf the web, check Facebook, and play a few modern games, the PC should easily be your preferred platform since it’s cheap enough to allow you to keep up with Moore’s Law. Macs are too expensive to be treated as disposable. Macs only rationally become preferred when you have a reason to pay for the areas in which they are better.

              1. NB: My last post stipulates that Macs actually are superior in certain respects. I’m not an expert, but Apple has been known to rig their benchmarks so it looks like their performance is better (for instance, using Photoshop processes optimized for Mac then claiming better performance over Windows). Reliability and virus immunity are also questionable (if you were writing a virus you would have a strong incentive to code for the platform with the largest market share). Objective measures may bear those claims out, but my comments about system evaluation still hold.

                1. Apple has been known to rig their benchmarks

                  Nope. Back when they were still doing those side-by-side demos, they were scrupulously careful to give the windows machines every possible edge, like not even letting them connect to the internet and get bogged down with viruses.


                  1. This thread is probably deader than dead, but I trust Steven Den Beste on the issue.

                    1. And if you ever care to discuss the CAIV angle rather than completely ignoring it, let me know on some subsequent post of mine and if I see it I’ll return to this thread. Out!

            3. In Windows, you still, after 20 years, still can’t alt-tab to get to the desktop. So once you have a few applications tiled open, your desktop is unreachable. But Windows users think that Mac users are affected, rather than that they prefer to be able to access their desktops. Or have a single fixed menu, or some other feature of the Mac UI.

              1. It takes about 2 seconds in anything after XP to create a quicklaunch icon for Show Desktop. Silly example.

                That said, I’m posting this from a Linux box because I hate them both (MS and Apple).

                1. * Should be “anything XP and later”

                2. I don’t believe you because I’ve never met a Windows user who knew how to access his desktop. Go ahead and explain how you show the desktop (without hiding the 5 applications you have tiled).

                  1. In Vista, I just alt-tab until it says “Desktop.”

                  2. Press the windows key + D

                3. It takes about 2 seconds in anything after XP to create a quicklaunch icon for Show Desktop.

                  Exactly. You have to be an expert user to do the most trivial things. How many Windows users even know what “creating a quicklaunch icon” means?


  14. “The headline changed because the Times takes its marching orders from the same cabal that did 9/11”–Ron Paul (or somebody writing stuff he has never read and knows nothing about over his name)

    1. Re: Maxipad,

      Tale your meds, Maxipad. You’re way due.

    2. .

      1. I would surmise that Max pleasures himself while reading re-written headlines as in the above example.

        1. Oh, that stuff’s too high-brow for my little Maxie.

          He does read Highlights, though. Well, at least some of it.

          1. ARF! YIP! SNAP! NIP!

  15. apparently they didn’t see the video of solyndra employees smashing millions of dollars of glass tubing.

    1. None of it worked anyway.

      1. The glass tubing didn’t work by being smashed? That’s all I would ever need it to do for me.

        1. They tubes were smashed at a loss.

          1. Why didn’t they add them to the internet? We could sure use more tubes there.

          2. Paul, I think they made up for the losses by VOLUME.


  16. Their whole fucking factory was wasteful. Did they not even look at the extra expense built into that facility? What a fucking joke.

  17. They probably had both stories written in advance, then accidentally hit submit for the wrong one. Like what happened when Samuel Clemens didn’t die.

  18. The audit was managed by Herb Allison, the former Treasury official who oversaw the federal bailout program for the financial sector.

    Well then, we can trust the results of the audit since that guy is clearly looking out for our best interests.

  19. Tim, thanks for the heads-up on amyris. I have always hated Jay Keasling (I once challenged him on something stupid he said at lunch), and came really really close to shorting it Unfortunately, I was flying to hawaii and landed too late, so I couldn’t put in my order. I did, however, have enough time to email my coworkers (we work in a synthetic biology lab) as a heads up on the future of biofuels. Of course, they thought I was full of nonsense, so now this solidifies my reputation in the lab of being a stock guru (I correctly shorted netflix, and recommended buying back in at the right time)

  20. So powersuckup lewinskies at some mafia apologist and toady rag once again show that they bring nothing but ass kissing to the conversation, and reason.com feels obliged to tut-tut about it.

    Stop wasting your time with these press lackeys.

  21. Saw this in the comments on the above (headline redacted and replaced) story:

    RobMcMillin at 5:43 PM February 10, 2012

    Also, thanks to Reason for catching the LAT’s flim-flam on changing the article title:


    No one else seemed to care.

  22. I don’t miss those days, but sometimes I miss the non-malleability of paper and ink

    Nice. See also having your cake, eating.

  23. I wish I had an ipad back in the day.

    1. They don’t work after you nail them to the doors of the cathedral.

  24. Otherwise, why did this headline change?
    Because they’re assholes. That’s why.

  25. A Harvard trained economist finally does something useful with his life:


    1. He committed suicide?

      Sorry, had to be sarcastic.

      Good for him. Hope he does well.

      1. Lol! In any other circumstance that would be the right thing to do. Love those videos. Lin has a sense of anticipation of what his guard is going to do that is uncanny. He’s Spiderman!

  26. “Otherwise, why did this headline change?”

    Why ask a question when the answer is obvious?

  27. Otherwise, why did this headline change?

    Hey let me ask the new dishwasher at Hot off the Press – guy says he used to an editor at the LA Times.

  28. The real question is, how did the first headline ever see the light of day?

    The LAT’s spin-control systems are not what they once were.

  29. GodDAMMIT, people! “Winston Smith” was just a fictional fucking character I created! He wasn’t meant to be a fucking TEMPLATE!

  30. Umm, because the Los Angeles Times *is* a paper-and-ink publication? And perhaps they run the same stories (with the same headlines) in the web and print editions?

  31. Banjos and I need e-mail addresses for wedding invites. Could those of you that actually, you know, like one of us, please send me an e-mail letting us know what you post as? It would be much appreciated.

    1. No, I refuse to subject myself to the horrible early-90s punk and/or ska band that will inevitably be playing at your reception.

      1. What about late 70s and 80s punk/ska?

        1. Pretty sure The Clash and The Specials don’t play weddings. At least I hope not!

        2. I bet the Queen City Kids will play a wedding for $50.

    2. Congratulations, sloopy! I did not know.

      Do you know when John & MNG and Epi & rectal are getting hitched? Cause I want to be out of town when that happens…

      1. Don’t forget Old Mex & Tony. I expect that one to be fought all the way to the Supreme Court

        1. sevo and white indian?

    3. Sorry, I got access to US Netflix so I wont be leaving the home ever.

      1. This is pretty much exactly what happened to a friend of mine. Fuck you Netflix!

      2. First Netflix, next we will be hearing about you buying milk in cartons. Before you know it, you will be pronouncing your “o’s” like a human being.

        1. I do get my milk in cartons so there.

    4. Before I commit, will the reception be a key party?

      1. Wait, did you misspell keg?
        [Banjos whispers explanation]
        Oh my.

    5. Hell, I’d have a lot of your addresses if stupid fucking yahoo fantasy sports wouldn’t have locked out the leagues we had going.

      Speaking of which, who’s up for fantasy baseball? I was thinking of setting a league up for H&R.

      1. After the beating your fiance put on me, I’m not sure my ego can take another one.

      2. Maybe I’ll try for the next NFL season, even if I have to go through the hassle of getting a Yahoo account.

  32. Jsut doesnt make a whole lot of sense to me dude. Seriously.


  33. I cannot believe someone did not suggest the OBVIOUS –


  34. …or Bush

  35. I don’t know why anything happens anymore.

  36. It’s a process thing. Online papers always have multiple headlines in the pipe for their stories to test which ones get the best responses (most clicks) OR to induce more people to click on the link by using different slants.

    If you go to any paper and click on a link headline it will often be different than the story page headline, and then later they may switch positions. It’s all about gathering data to increase page views and, therefore, revenue.


    1. …when we do it.

  37. Can someone find the actual AUDIT report? Instead of the summary?

  38. If I am reading this post correctly (and perhaps I’m not) the headline change happened about a minute after the first headline went out. The best explanation (or at least a reasonable one) seems to be that the paper messed up and put the wrong headline on. All of us certainly must know that headlines get edited before being published–so it must happen that the wrong version sometimes gets published. And even though I love seeing Truth spoken to Power, I must admit that in this case, the second headline seems the more even-handed one, assuming that the review did not find waste. After all, what’s the value in having the headline focus on the lack of oversight if there’s no evidence (yet) of waste to be overseen?

    In other words, we shouldn’t let our disdain for the loan program cloud our thinking to the point where we are seeing conspiracies in something that’s likely just a mistake.

    1. After all, what’s the value in having the headline focus on the lack of oversight if there’s no evidence (yet) of waste to be overseen?

      Because inability to find waste can itself be caused by lack of documentation, ie oversight.

      1. It can be, but was it? The answer would have to be yes for the first headline to be better.

  39. I had a lot of impressions and thoughts about the Democrat Party, having even been a member for a number of years. Orwell’s “1984” provided the missing pieces. Leftist are Leftists, be it Stalin’s world or Obama’s world.

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