1. Government by the wealthy.
2. A country or society governed in this way.
Political scientists need a new sub-specialty to describe the end-of-year extravaganzas that influence peddlers and special interests have combined to make a Capital Christmas tradition: the racket of wholesale plundering of the government's treasury. Paraphrasing Willie Sutton, that's where the (tax-farmed and public-debt) money is.
On Friday, December 18, 2015, Obama and Congress processed the plutocracy's 2015 Christmas gift order at lightning speed. These rented politicians jump right to attention when the owners are being served. Who said government is broken? Under Obama it purrs right along smoothly, delivering on time annual gifts for plutocrats worth, this year, the whole discretionary civilian budget.
Bernie Sanders' supporters already understand this. But if there are Americans in need of more evidence that they live in a plutocracy, where governing is just another racket run by what Sanders calls "the billionaire class," then the Influence Peddlers Protection Act of 2015 should provide it. Technically known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, this law piles-on the already sufficiently probative evidence of systemic corruption provided by last year's similar year-end Bonanza for Plutocrats Act of 2014 (known as "CRomnibus").
To place this year's plunder described in Part B in context, last year's episode is first recapped in Part A of this chapter.
A) CRomnibus I
My extensive piece last year on what can now be called "CRomnibus I" described how Obama and a majority of Senate Democrats similarly connived to bypass ordinary legislative procedures to expedite the Omnibus appropriations bill of 2014. The 2014 "CRomnibus Act" ranks as one of the most deeply corrupt laws in United States history. It increased the amount of money that plutocrats can legally give to political parties by a factor of ten. (This enables plutocrats to finance, while their propaganda machine supports, the DNC effort to stop Bernie Sanders, for example).
Enabling of these large 2014 kickbacks from plutocrats to political parties was a quid for the Christmas quo to Wall Street of drafting taxpayers as insurers of gambling losses at their Capitalist Casino. The punters are poised to drop trillions when the roulette pill lands on the next too-big-to-fail banking crisis. I wrote: "The CRomnibus repeal of this 'swaps push-out rule' to withdraw federal insurance from this particular [swaps] gambling table is the most blatant of second Gilded Age economic recklessness, exceeding even such Clinton-era corruption as the repeal of Glass-Steagall."
As described in that article, Obama lobbied for and signed the 2014 "CRomnibus" although he could have used his veto power to obtain a clean appropriations bill free of the "two offensive provisions." That is what Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats wanted him to do. The House Democrats thought they could defeat the "offensive provisions" simply by timely threat of an Obama veto. At that very moment Obama snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by instead gratuitously announcing his support for the bill. Pelosi said she was "enormously disappointed that the White House feels that the only way they can get a[n appropriations] bill is ... we have to pay off Wall Street." This is as close as Democrats would come to flatly accusing Obama of being a "cheerleader" to get a bill on his desk for that very purpose, to "pay off Wall Street" for the enormous campaign contribution debt Obama owed.
The only alternative to that conclusion is Obama's usual, though obviously false, cover story that he is just a hapless incompetent who is still ignorant how veto threats work, for example. Right, except when he is paying off Wall Street. Then Clark Kent becomes a deviously effective super-strategist for plutocracy.
An Appropriations Committee member summed up the quid pro quo purpose of Obama's 2014 Christmastime handiwork: "This bill is a one-two punch at middle-class voters. It weakens financial regulation on big banks and rewards Congress for doing so by increasing campaign donation limits of big donors." Matt Taibbi, The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap (2014) 70, describes Congress as "enabling the transformation of the world's biggest banks into bona fide organized crime operations" where no target large enough to attract their attention, such as last year's middle class bank deposits, or this year's government treasury, is exempt from their political corruption racket.
Exposing last year's Christmas gift for plutocrats required some slight financial understanding. Congress' repeal of the "swaps push-out rule," so as to give casino capitalist gamblers federal deposit insurance and other federal benefits for banks guaranteed the eventual bankruptcy of the essential New Deal reform for protecting ordinary bank depositors. The threat of bail-in theft of middle class bank deposits will result from allowing the FDIC to be used as a guarantor for Wall Street's table stakes in the swaps markets instead of keeping it solvent to protect small depositors.
The racketeers got away clean last year without much comment or public shock. So they came back for another heist of comparable ambition, this year in broad daylight. They only needed Obama's continued leadership to succeed. The "mascot of the Wall Street oligarchs" did what he is paid to do, and artfully obliged. He upped his game this year by promoting his gifts for plutocrats as a good thing, rather than just disguising that he's the one wearing the Santa suit.
The 2014 CRomnibus Act introduced a new form of legislation that was overlooked by many. Its repeat performance in the 2015 Omnibus (H.R. 2029) has acquired the image of being just a happy bipartisan annual Christmastime tradition, before Obama flies off to Hawaii. More like a superbowl for lobbyists, it can be awarded the seasonal roman numeral, "CRomnibus II" ("CR," as in CRiminal or CRrrupt). Later possible targets for CRomnibus III, IV and so forth? Government procurement, Social Security trust funds, privatizing public education budgets, ongoing mercenary privatization of the military, etc. Wherever the big money is.
B) CRomnibus II
Without going over the same ground again in the same detail as last year about how the plutocrats annual caper works when Congress unbreaks itself momentarily for its bipartisan Obama-hosted Omnibus felony fiesta, the rules of the game for this illegitimate form of legislation can be briefly stated here.
a) Decree by Junta
All on the same day, both the House and the Senate approved H.R. 2029, Obama signed it into law, and then he still had time left over for staging a press-conference propaganda event to produce soundbites in time for the evening news. Spin was carefully crafted to make the day's work seem like something that could plausibly be signed into law by one espousing the middle class values that Obama likes to talk about.
This instant legislation starts when Santa Obama cuts the deal directly with the few party leaders who control the flow of money and other benefits within the parties. The Omnibus process is rigged to skip all the ordinary legislative steps. It is totalitarian in its nature in that it issues a virtual decree by a small ruling junta at Santa's workshop without advance notice, committee hearings, or much time for deliberation or in some cases even knowledge by legislators responsible to the people, let alone knowledge by the people themselves of the gifts the bill contains. This is the junta at which Bernie Sanders' "political revolution" strategy is directly aimed, making him the leading prospect among presidential candidates because he seems authentically intent on overthrowing them.
To create dramatic tension, the Omnibus bill is purposely delayed until the government's funds are scheduled to run out. Special interest lobbyists all show up with their Christmas wish lists at the end of the year, a week before Christmas, for a TGIF party. If Santa approves, their wish list gifts all get attached to an appropriations bill necessary to continue funding the government. The whole package becomes law before the public has any opportunity to sort out the provisions on a large variety of different subjects - actually everything that government does.
The annual Omnibus appropriations bill and Influence Peddlers Protection Act delivers its bipartisan Christmas goodies to plutocrats as if from a down-the-chimney black-box found in Santa's special gift bag for special interests. It bypasses the normal legislative process where laws having the consent of the governed are supposed to use the front door, the door where the governed can observe laws and money coming and going.
Here's the tick-tock: The same process used in 2014 was used again for the 2015 caper, with the Senate stripping another House bill of its content to use as a vehicle to be sent back over to the House for substituting, this time, two interdependent amendments: Amendment #1, the over 2000 pages Omnibus titled the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016, and Amendment #2 titled the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, which contained tax break "extenders." Extensions of tax exemptions are sold each year as a standard form of graft, almost like a generic gift certificate.
The two amendments represented the two halves of the basic extortion deal. One contained the tax expenditures and the other the appropriations needed for the government to keep its doors open. These amendments remained separated in the House, since each amendment had different supporters and different opponents there. The votes could be close on each, and insufficient to carry them both, if joined. They were fashioned into a single Omnibus bill when sent back to the Senate and on to Obama.
This way the Senate Democrats, who could otherwise filibuster the separate bills, and Obama would have to accept both amendments representing the full extortion deal or neither. This provided Obama his familiar overused refrain that the Republicans made him swallow the large amount of bad policy to keep the government open and to also get what little good medicine the bill contained.
Obama's "good medicine" left in the bill for later advertising to liberals - like funding for Planned Parenthood - the Republicans already know from reading the polls would be "political losers" for them anyway. "Speaker Paul Ryan warned his troops that Republicans, going into an election year, could not withstand the bad publicity of being held responsible for another government shutdown." Matt Taibbi suggested an atmosphere in 2015 where plutocratic centrists similar to Paul Ryan, "John Boehner and Mitch McConnell [were] fleeing toward Obama politically in an attempt to escape the public relations carnage caused by the Republican presidential campaign."
Some combination of these two factors meant Obama owned CRomnibus II, particularly since he is a lame duck with nothing to lose from a shutdown. He never in the past was known to have given any consideration for other than his own career, so it is unlikely he would be moving to the right out of sudden though misplaced concern about the prospects of Democrats in 2016. Obama had easily shrugged off two disastrous midterms where his party suffered for his betrayal of voters' expectations. CRomnibus II is Obama's law, as much as anything he has signed since he started losing Congress to Republicans in 2010.
Obama's veto could have killed both amendments and forced a continuing resolution to fund government operations while Congress did the actual work it is paid by the public to do, instead of fulfilling corporate lobbyists' dry dreams that both parties are paid by plutocrats to make come true. Every year they have the same dream.
Obama had competently demonstrated how a veto threat works when he wanted to increase military expenditures with respect to the original H.R. 2029. But that was before it was stripped to contain his own CRomnibus II. Amending an empty bill with respect to another much lesser matter (the appropriations contained in the original H.R. 2029), a bill that had already gone through the whole legislative process short of final enactment, avoided the messy "sausage-making" journey of legislative deliberations of, rather than decreeing, the appropriations and tax amendments.
Had they been offered as original bills for financing the whole government and tax expenditures, rather than a single large Omnibus fix of everything at once, the two amendments would have gone in its various parts through the same subcommittee and committee vetting, mark-ups and hearing process that the simpler, original H.R. 2029 took the better part of a year to traverse.
By avoiding the usual route, debate on the single Omnibus bill could be restricted to 2 hours in the House, the total debate allowed for this major part of the below-average legislative output of Congress for the whole year. This process shuts down all discussion, debate, opposition, prior comment and public input. Lobbyists produce such a bill-- rather than the open legislative process intended by the Constitution, as described by Jefferson's Manual of Parliamentary Practice (1801) where Jefferson warned, "nothing tended more to throw power into the hands of administration ... than a neglect of, or departure from, the rules of proceeding".
Voting House Democrats were unanimously against the resolution to adopt this summary Omnibus procedure, more than enough to sustain a veto. This was a deal between Obama, the Speaker, and the Senate leaders (necessary to obviate a filibuster), which eventually the House leaders joined in too. Republicans held together on that procedural vote to waive the rules. CRomnibus II was too big and well-financed to be stopped by backbench dissenters, whether on its unorthodox process or its breathtaking substance .
Later on December 18, 2015, when the House sent its two amendments of the Senate's bill stuffed with Santa's goodies back to the Senate for rubber stamping, Bernie Sanders and a mixed group of only six Democrats and 26 Republicans voted against HR 2029.
Thus plutocrats again turned the once-boring extended appropriations process for funding the federal government into a swift act of larceny from the taxpayers. At the same time they changed out the locks to make their future raids even easier. Lobbyists get to stuff all the presents for special interests they can pay for under their Omnibus Yule tree called the Consolidated Appropriations Act, while politicians get to receive secret payments for these gifts and many more to come, as discussed below.
After signing the Act, President Obama conducted one of his rare press conferences to soft-sell it to the public. He sought to make it all sound normal, "Just keep moving, nothing to see here." Circumventing normal legislative rules, which last year the Washington Post protested as a "caricature of the deliberative process by which Congress is supposed to approve appropriations" this year becomes, in Obama's reassuring alternate version of reality, "typical of American democracy." As veteran journalist Bill Moyers wrote, stenographers called news "anchors acted as amplifiers for official spin -- repeating the mantra-of-the-hour that while this is not 'a perfect bill,' it does a lot of good things. 'But for whom? At what price?' went unasked." Moyers does not answer his question that the "good things" were deliberate window dressing for plutocratic plunder.
Obama was not content with his usual pretense that the Republican Congress - which Obama created by alienating his base in two midterm elections - made him do it. This dodge seems to be wearing thin. This year, it may have been implied in some soundbites. However according to CNN, "Obama called Ryan after the vote to thank him 'for helping government work.'" But notwithstanding his presidential "kudos", even the Speaker was rightly complaining that the process was not a good way for government to work: "Ryan repeatedly stressed he doesn't like rolling up all the spending bills, along with a myriad of policy provisions, into one measure." NYT confirmed that the Speaker told reporters, "You know I don't like this process, right?" and that he later re-Twitterated "his distaste for omnibus spending bills."
Short-cutting democratic process is Obama's preference, designed by him to instruct the leaders privately what Republican policies he likes and will not veto in order to serve Wall Street as discreetly as possible. In return he gets Republicans to give him the advertising gimmicks he needs to sell Wall Street's Christmas package to the terminally gullible public that still supports him. His approach is designed for fraud. Once Obama's modus operandi is understood, he can almost make Paul Ryan look good.
b) The Swag
This year's theft is more raw and comprehensible than last year's. In a nutshell the basic deal was that to appropriate the money necessary to support a federal budget of $1.1 trillion, Obama's Omnibus decree has awarded tax-breaks mostly for special interests in an amount that will put the government another estimated $622 billion deeper in debt, not including the CBO-projected increase in spending of over $57 billion in ten years. The cuts primarily benefit plutocrats though there were window dressing cuts - like the "small-but-symbolic tax deduction" for teachers mentioned by NYT. These cuts were needed to reward some union, poverty and environmental "non-profit industrial complex" constituencies, which they and Obama could then talk up as worth the cost. "Just keep moving, please."
For one example of the cost, NYT describes how, with the support of Democratic Senate leader Harry Reid of Nevada, "lobbyists swooped in to add 54 words that temporarily preserved a loophole sought by the hotel, restaurant and gambling industries" for a tax avoidance scheme worth over a billion dollars. The share of the house rake for Harry on these winnings by his home-state industry could fund a comfortable retirement, if he hasn't already socked away enough plutocratic gratitude for that purpose by now. Containing roughly 8800 such 54-word chunks, the bill contained wide vistas for implanting concisely-crafted billion dollar gifts here and there.
"A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money."
Made simple, what Obama failed to mention to the press is that plutocrats took more than half the amount of the whole federal budget, more than the total discretionary civilian budget, as their price, payable in future tax expenditures, for allowing the government that they own to stay open another year, other than for military purposes. In effect, what Bernie Sanders calls the "billionaire class" has taken over a formerly public bridge by force of bribery and is now charging tolls worth more than that portion of the bridge's value that is attributable to keeping the non-military (45%) lanes functioning for civilians another year.
An open question is whether the federal government is worth the price of paying plutocrats for the privilege of keeping it open. Does it even function for the public as usefully as does, say, the metaphorical privatized bridge? It is now used mainly to facilitate annual "CRomnibus" plundering expeditions against its citizenry by its corrupt new owners, all facilitated by a U.S. Supreme Court that has deliberately undermined its governing Constitution, and with the implicit threat of using the military lanes of that bridge in case of any resistance to the perpetual plunder.
Unlike last year, not just the company-town Washington Post rushed out reportage on these last minute shenanigans. Others have covered this "orgy of predatory, omnivorous bipartisanship" in some detail. One piece exposed "the truth of inadequate government spending and conservative sabotage" reflected in the levels of appropriations so diminished as to turn civilian government missions into zombie operations. The disfavored government functions that get in the way of plutocratic rule still exist in name, but have insufficient funds to perform their purpose effectively.
The general flavor of CRomnibus II priorities was reflected in the proud report of a Republican supporter who praised the law because it: 1) "Cuts EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] funding by $452 million below the President's budget request, holding the agency's budget at 21% below FY10 levels," (which were overall 1.7 percent lower than Bush's FY 2009 budget); 2) contains "funding for the DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy at $986 million, an increase of $73 million above fiscal year 2015 and $79 million above the President's request" to subsidize this inefficient and dangerous technology; and 3) "Denies the administration's request to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II" requested by the Air Force on cost grounds, but now can be built in this politician's state whether needed or not. Similar unwanted military boondoggles were provided for Maine ($1 billion) and Mississippi ($640 million) and other beneficiaries.
With such donor-led spending priorities - parsimonious with the public's interest and profligate in the MIC and other plutocrat's interest - guiding environmental, energy and defense strategy, the nation must be securely in good hands.
Steve Horn wrote an excellent piece on a major CRomnibus II global warming provision "to end the 40-year export ban" on US petroleum. This provision, coming only days after Obama's COP21 "commitments," serves the twin public policy goals of increasing the price at the pump for future American consumers with the added bonus of increasing the global temperature too. Score two for greedy plutocrats on that one.
And then, barely worth remarking in the Bush/Obama permanent state of discretionary imperial war, there is a constitutionally required declaration of war hidden in there somewhere, according to Harvard's expert on such things, Jack Goldsmith. "Congress is not calling its funding an authorization for the use of force against ISIL, much less debating the authorization. But make no mistake: The funding to continue the war against ISIL is an authorization of force against ISIL, albeit a quiet one, designed not to attract attention." "Authorization of force" is bureaucratic euphemism for "declaration of war."
Who knows what other such gems predator lobbyists buried in those over 2200 pages of abstruse legal language, all scurrying from the disinfecting effect of sunlight? These are provisions which those pretending to be legislators in a democracy most likely neither understood nor even read before rubber stamping them for their paymasters.
2. The Rake for Politicians
In exchange for such favors for plutocrats in various sectors, Congress, while in the holiday spirit, also included some gifts for themselves. Political corruption is massive enough to constitute its own economic sector, capable of receiving its own gifts from Santa. Like last year's Christmastime for Wall Street exercise, the house also captured its percentage rake on its payouts to plutocrats comparable to the ten-fold increase in party contribution limits.
NYU's Brennan Center reports that "Citizens United has enabled election spending by a variety of 'dark money' groups who do not disclose their donors, and who have spent more than $600 million on federal elections to date." Forced disclosure of "dark money" political investments by government contractors and some others for whom secrecy is paramount would have shut down a sizable part of this industry. Prohibiting disclosure helps perpetuate and increase such dark money expenditures in the form of investments in the incumbents who just voted for their tax giveaways and other breaks.
Michael Hiltzik described in the LA Times how, "Two provisions buried in the 2,009-page bill ... emasculate efforts by the Internal Revenue Service and Securities and Exchange Commission to force public disclosure of donations by individuals and corporations." This kind of provision was so well buried that Hiltzik missed a third key provision, at least equally as important, that prevents the president from using disclosure requirements for enforcing federal procurement law. All federal procurement, another large pool of public money, is already on the Capital's auction block. Disclosure of the contributions might have required Obama to begin enforcing the law against such political investments.
Federal procurement law can be read, in accordance with international best practice, to ban what the Supreme Court deems to be "independent" political investments in politicians by corporate government contractors. A long-existing FECA provision, titled "Contributions by government contractors," prohibits contractors "directly or indirectly to make any contribution ...to any person for any political purpose or use." 52 U.S. Code § 30119(a)(1). "Dark money" independent expenditures enabled by Citizens United are mostly "indirect" contributions made in violation of this law. Since government contractors are among the largest of political racketeers this ban alone could have canceled a large part of the problem of money in politics created by Citizens United.
There had been much agitation for Obama to use this administrative power under the general theory that disclosure of legalized corruption can make a positive difference. In the case of procurement, disclosure actually could make a substantial difference. One study showed that for each $5.3 million in government contracts (107 average contracts) politicians receive an additional $201,220 in campaign contributions. Since there is a total of over $500 billion of annual federal procurement, this one profit center alone accounts for at least $2 billion worth of kickbacks to politicians.
Obama has not only violated his constitutional responsibility by refusing to enforce this law against these largest of corporations used by plutocrats for making political investments. Obama has also refused to take even the most modest step of requiring such contractors to simply disclose their Citizens United expenditures as a condition of doing business with the government. This would be a "necessary and proper" enforcement tool for a law designed to foster effective governance.
Under existing law such a disclosure mandate should not violate even the Supreme Court's most bizarre re-interpretations of the First Amendment to legalize influence peddling. The conduct of government functions has been generally exempted from such First Amendment rulings. E.g. Wagner v. FEC (D.C. Cir. 2015) (unanimous en banc decision) (upholding constitutionality of the contractor contribution prohibition). To rule otherwise would raise serious separation of powers boundary concerns about judicial incursion deep into executive branch territory. Even Citizens United, 558 U.S. at 359 (2010), which legalized such investments in other contexts, acknowledged this government function exception in order to accommodate the public's "interest in allowing governmental entities to perform their functions" free of judicial interference. Moreover Citizens United, Buckley (1976) and McCutcheon (2014) all more generally approved disclosure rules in any context.
It is just good government practice that contractors should not be creating conflicts of interest by funding politicians who both create the projects and appropriate the funds to pay the contractors. The law is equally clear that disclosure is an acceptable mechanism for enforcing that good practice in all government business.
Obama disagrees, of course. After the Wagner case persuasively upheld the government contractor anti-corruption provisions, Obama needed a new excuse for his refusal to enforce the law. By conniving with Congress to pass a law that makes it illegal for him to use any of the three mentioned tools previously available to require disclosures of government contractors' illegal political investments, he is theoretically no longer impeachable for his failure to see that federal procurement law be faithfully executed by him after Citizens United. Technically such "willful blindness" to the procurement corruption business gift-wrapped by Congress in exchange for $2 billion kickbacks would provide no defense for delivering a package of, for example, street drugs someone else wrapped. But such "willful blindness" of the rampant violation of federal procurement law is good enough for government work, apparently.
Disabling his enforcement tools for requiring disclosure of all independent political investments from government contractors can be pleaded in defense of Obama's willful blindness to the systemic corruption of the federal procurement process. Santa Obama can blame Congress for wrapping this gift for Wall Street he just happened to find in Santa's Christmas bag. After all, everyone remembers that Obama prominently spoke against Citizens United. He must not have known that his Omnibus II bag included gifts which widely extends the scope of Citizens United for the potential permanent corruption of all government procurement, which had previously been exempt from its reach under accepted First Amendment law. No new president, such as Bernie Sanders, can now require disclosure of political investments by government contractors under procurement regulations, by SEC-regulated corporations (i.e., most contractors) under SEC regulations, or by any plutocrats who launder their political investments, corporate or otherwise, through 501(c)(4)'s under IRS regulations.
Obama's defense, more for historical legacy purposes than legal purposes, depending on Bernie Sanders, is that Congress has withdrawn his power to know who is spending money in violation of the law. The money has become even darker now, too dark for Obama to see. Without such mandatory disclosures of dark money, billion-dollar Obama can feign ignorance of activity that otherwise would be subject to the law that he has refused to enforce for six years.
This is no surprise since right from the outset when Obama chose, in his 2008 campaign, to be the first candidate to ever turn down public campaign funding, Obama has typically taken the corrupt option, whenever he has had the choice. All three of these anti-disclosure provisions are contained in a law that was approved by an overwhelming majority of Democratic Senators, and negotiated, approved, signed, and propagandized by Obama. All of these hypocritical politicians have chanted the empty refrain of wanting a futile "constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United." They not only missed their chance to accomplish a significant part of this pretended goal by easily promulgated administrative regulations, they repealed their chance just in case someone like Bernie Sanders were elected who might use the power to interfere with their procurement kickback racket.
Among the 37 Democratic Senators who furnished a filibuster-proof majority by a margin of seven to protect dark money were at least seven Democrats who complain about "dark money" in politics, like Obama who magisterially recommended that "we spend less time drowning in dark money," and like Hillary Clinton, who is no slouch in the Obaman arts of deception herself. These new provisions from CRomnibus II constituting a "Dark Money Promotion Act" are reproduced below in an Addendum, as documentary evidence of the influence peddling racket they serve.
The point that needs to be made clearly here is that Obama and the Democratic Party, just as they did last year, have again taken political corruption to outrageous new levels, well beyond even what the plutocratic Supreme Court has mandated with its bogus "money is speech" doctrine. It would have been difficult for the Court to ignore the Wagner rule in order to extend corruption to federal procurement. But now that all three branches of the federal government are full partners in the political corruption racket, the Court does not have to carry the whole burden of expanding and entrenching systemic corruption to perpetuate the overthrow of the former United States.
If anyone in a position of significant power were left out of the racket, it would not be systemic. This is why behind his DNC stands Obama trying to defeat Sanders, while he thinks Clinton would make a "great" president.
(continued in Part 2.)