Wonkbook: Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention

September 6, 2012

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RCP Obama approval: 47.3%; 7-day change: -0.6%.

Intrade percent chance of Obama win: 59.7%; 7-day change: +3.9%.

Top story: Day 2 of the Democratic National Convention

Frmr. Pres. Bill Clinton gave a roaring, detailed, and lengthy speech on Obama's behalf. "Former President Bill Clinton delivered a spirited defense of President Obama’s handling of the nation’s struggling economy here Wednesday night as he criticized the economic agenda of Republican nominee Mitt Romney and an opposition GOP he argued has been unwilling to compromise for the good of the country. Clinton, in a speech to the Democratic National Convention formally nominating Obama that was aimed squarely at independent voters, said America is 'clearly better off' than four years ago and argued that many of the serious problems ailing the economy were 'inherited' from Republicans. He said that, despite the slow recovery, Obama has spent the last four years laying the foundation for a more vibrant and balanced economy and needs four more years to see that vision through." Philip Rucker and Dan Balz in The Washington Post.

@ezraklein: Bill Clinton trusts the American people to care about policy, and so the American people trust Bill Clinton to tell them about it.

Read: Clinton's speech transcript as delivered.

@sarahkliff: Bill Clinton's prepared remarks: 3,136 words. Bill Clinton's remarks as delivered: 5,895 words (counting audience cheers).

Excerpts: "In Tampa, the Republican argument against the president’s re-election was actually pretty simple -- pretty snappy. It went something like this: We left him a total mess. He hasn’t cleaned it up fast enough. So fire him and put us back in...Here’s the challenge he faces and the challenge all of you who support him face. I get it. I know it. I’ve been there. A lot of Americans are still angry and frustrated about this economy. If you look at the numbers, you know employment is growing, banks are beginning to lend again. And in a lot of places, housing prices are even beginning to pick up. But too many people do not feel it yet...President Obama started with a much weaker economy than I did. Listen to me, now. No president -- no president, not me, not any of my predecessors, no one could have fully repaired all the damage that he found in just four years. Now, he has laid the foundation for a new, modern, successful economy of shared prosperity. And if you will renew the president’s contract, you will feel it. You will feel it...If you want a winner-take- all, you’re-on-your-own society, you should support the Republican ticket. But if you want a country of shared opportunities and shared responsibility, a we’re-all-in-this-together society, you should vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden."

Wonkbookmark: The DNC speaking schedule for Thursday, which includes President Obama and Joe Biden.

MA Sen. candidate Elizabeth Warren won the support of the convention floor for her anti-Wall Street populism. "Clinton and Warren represented two wings of the party -- with Clinton the original architect of the centrist New Democrat philosophy that built bridges to business and brought the party back to the White House in the 1990s -- and Warren a strong voice for the progressive grassroots activists who have led an attack on Wall Street, big corporations and the so-called 'one percent.' Warren, the Harvard Law School professor who is fighting to unseat Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts, got a huge response when she took the stage just ahead of Clinton. She delivered a populist blast, attacking what she said was a rigged system in which Wall Street and corporate America have profited while the middle class has been 'chipped, squeezed and hammered.'" Philip Rucker and Dan Balz in The Washington Post.

@rortybomb: I hope Democratic elites note that the audience couldn't stop applauding Warren's messages of basic economic fairness and accountability.

Read: The full transcript of Warren's speech.

Excerpts: "[F]or many years now, our middle class has been chipped, squeezed, and hammered...People feel like the system is rigged against them. And here's the painful part: they're right. The system is rigged...No, Governor Romney, corporations are not people. People have hearts, they have kids, they get jobs, they get sick, they cry, they dance. They live, they love, and they die. And that matters. That matters because we don't run this country for corporations, we run it for people."

@TobinCommentary: Warren plays left-wing populist card about system being rigged for rich. Large #DNC2012/Obama donors have fingers in ears.

More: The 5 best lines of Warren's speech, as judged by Politico's Kevin Cirilli.

Obama will be speaking indoors tomorrow night. "With forecasters expecting severe thunderstorms to roll through Charlotte on Thursday night, convention officials scrapped plans to have Obama speak from outdoors at the 73,000-seat Bank of America Stadium, opting instead to keep delegates at the indoor Time Warner Cable Arena, with room for about 15,000...Obama campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki said the threat of thunderstorms Thursday night might have forced organizers to quickly evacuate the stadium, home to the National Football League’s Carolina Panthers." Ed O'Keefe in The Washington Post.

Democratic Party officially nominated Obama for reelection. "Barack Obama officially became the Democratic presidential nominee when Ohio cast its 188 votes and put him over the required 2,778 delegates." Vanessa Williams in The Washington Post.

More hints on what Biden will talk about. "Folksy and loose, passionate and sometimes off script, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. arrives on stage Thursday night as the president’s most important political partner, policy enforcer, conscience, scold and occasional albatross...His role in his 25-minute address, aides said, is to validate Mr. Obama the president, much as Michelle Obama validated Mr. Obama the family man." Peter Baker in The New York Times.

Where's 'Generation Obama' now? "For the original members of Generation Obama, their response to the president is both more personal and more nuanced. His legacy is their legacy, they said. Like the president, they have grown older. Like him, they have wrestled with the hard gap between expectations and reality." Eli Saslow in The Washington Post.

Coming attractions: Both Romney and Obama are putting in prep time for debates.

Wonkbook's guide to the other convention speeches

In brief: Winners and losers from Day 2 at the convention.

Activist Sandra Fluke on women's rights. "During this campaign, we've heard about the two profoundly different futures that could await women -- and how one of those futures looks like an offensive, obsolete relic of our past. Warnings of that future are not distractions. They're not imagined. That future could be real...It would be an America in which you have a new vice president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds we don't want and our doctors say we don't need. An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it; in which politicians redefine rape so survivors are victimized all over again; in which someone decides which domestic violence victims deserve help, and which don't." Politico.

@davidfrum: Sandra Fluke would not be annoying conservatives tonight if Rush Limbaugh could debate a woman without hurling ugly names

Wonkblog interview: Sarah Kliff sits down with Sandra Fluke.

Sister Simone Campbell on social justice. "In June, I joined other Catholic sisters on a 2,700-mile bus journey through nine states to tell Americans about the budget Congressman Paul Ryan wrote and Governor Romney endorsed. Paul Ryan claims his budget reflects the principles of our shared Catholic faith. But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Ryan budget failed a basic moral test, because it would harm families living in poverty." Fox News Insider.

@JenGranholm: Sister Simone: "I am my brother's keeper. I am my sister's keeper." Best words of the night so far.

MD Rep. Chris Van Hollen on the policy of Romney-Ryan "[T]wo wars, two huge tax cuts tilted to the wealthy and a new entitlement...Republicans didn't pay for any of it. Paul Ryan voted for all of it. On top of that, they left behind an economy in free-fall...Congressman Ryan, America is literally in your debt...[Romney and Ryan] both pledged that they would never ask millionaires to pay one more dime to reduce the deficit. Mitt Romney even said he would reject a budget with ten dollars in spending cuts for every one dollar in new revenue. Now, a third-grader can do the math. If you refuse to ask the wealthiest to pitch in, then you hit everyone else much harder...This election is a choice. That choice will determine whether America is a place where people climb the ladder of opportunity and pull it up behind them or whether America is a place where people who reach the top help the next person up" The Washington Post.

@ezraklein: Chris Van Hollen's speech was the most specific, accurate attack on the Romney-Ryan plan by any Democrat so far.

Education Sec. Arne Duncan on schools. "Our president knows education is about jobs. It's about giving every child a shot at a secure middle-class life...The president knows that the path to the middle class goes right through America's classrooms...Governor Romney will cut education for our children. That's the difference in this election. They see education as an expense. President Obama's sees it as an investment" Politico.

Veterans' Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki on the troops. "I first met Barack Obama in November 2008. I quickly realized we were both shaped and inspired by family members who served in World War II...During our first meeting nearly four years ago, the president’s commitment to veterans was clear...Since President Obama took office, nearly 800,000 veterans gained access to VA healthcare. There’s been a historic expansion of treatment for PTSD and traumatic brain injury. President Obama has expanded job training to prepare vets for the jobs of the future. And we’re on track to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015." Fox News Insider.

DE Gov. Jack Markell on business experience. "[A]s someone who has been a businessman and a governor, let me level with you: just because Mitt Romney was a successful private equity executive, that does not mean he deserves to be president. Because when you move from business to government, what matters are the lessons you learn and what those lessons say about your priorities. And Mitt Romney learned all the wrong lessons. As an executive in private equity, Mitt Romney's focus was on the bottom line...When you are a governor, or the president, it's different. Your shareholders are teachers, construction workers, and hardware store owners. And your bottom line is not what goes into your pocket—but what goes into theirs. That's the difference. When your constituents are your financial shareholders, perhaps it makes sense to take control of a company, suffocate it with debt, and get rid of the workers' pensions. That kind of thing worked for Mitt Romney when he sat in his corporate office. But it won't work for the country if Mitt Romney's sitting in the Oval Office." Politico.

House Minority Leader and CA Rep. Nancy Pelosi on what's in a vote "Many names are on the ballot. So, too, is the character of our country...Medicare is on the ballot...Social Security is on the ballot..The hard-won rights of women are on the ballot...Our democracy is on the ballot. Democrats believe we must curb the influence of special interests on our political institutions...The American dream is on the ballot. Ladders of opportunity for our middle class are on the ballot." WRAL.

House Minority Whip and MD Rep. Steny Hoyer on Republican obstruction. "Last week, Mr. Romney said he wished President Obama had succeeded when he took office. If so, he was alone in his party....For four years, Republicans in Congress have pursued a strategy of confrontation, refusal to compromise and obstruction...But despite historic levels of obstruction, President Obama was able to bring the economy back from the verge of a second Great Depression...President Obama and Democrats are working tirelessly to move our country forward over the near unanimous opposition of Republican leaders and Republican members of Congress. The decision we have to make this November is simple: do we keep moving forward, or do we join the Romney-Ryan retreat and go back to the same failed policies of the past?" Politico.

@thegarance: Van Hollen confirming my thesis on Mid-Atlantic pols. See also: O'Malley, Hoyer, Markell.

NY Sen. Chuck Schumer on Romney. "Mitt Romney's plans would make things worse. We've tried trickle-down tax cuts for the wealthy and 'anything goes' for big corporations. We tried it under a president who billed himself as a 'compassionate conservative.' It didn't work. Now we have Mitt Romney, calling himself a 'severe conservative.'...Romney not only wants to make those tax cuts permanent, he wants to add more tax breaks for the wealthy that would make our deficit even bigger...Some say Romney would repeat the past. I disagree -- he'd be worse." Politico.

@TobinCommentary: Chuck Schumer asking Jewish Dems to swallow Obama Kool-Aid on Israel. Looks like he even he doesn't believe it.

MD Sen. Barbara Mikulski on women "We work on macro issues and macaroni and cheese issues. When women are in the halls of power, our national debate reflects the needs and dreams of American families. Women leading means that Congress is working to create jobs, make quality child care more affordable and strengthen the middle class because we understand that America grows the economy and opportunity from the middle out, not the top down. These are our priorities. These are President Barack Obama's priorities. We know that every issue is a women's issue." Politico.

@sarahkliff: Sen. Mikulski introduced the Obamacare amendment that would ultimately guarantee no co-pay birth control.

CA Atty. Gen Kamala Harris on the laws which protect us. "[W]e firmly believe in the American ideal that our country should work for everyone. That ideal is written into our laws, the rules of the road that create a level playing field in this country. Those are the rules I became attorney general to uphold. And those are the rules Mitt Romney would have us roll back...[W]e've all seen what happens when you roll back those rules. What happens are rows of foreclosure signs. What happens are mountains of family debt. What happens is a middle class that's hurting." Politico.

@markos: Kamala kicks off 2020 or 2024 presidential bid tonight.

SBA Administrator Karen Mills on small business. "President Obama understands that small businesses are the backbone of our economy...They create two-thirds of all new jobs. Small businesses are a big part of who we are.
When President Obama took office, the economy was in free-fall. Credit was frozen. Small businesses weren't thinking about expansion; they were thinking about survival. The president knew that one of the most important things he could do was give small businesses a fighting chance. So, he took action...Today, small business owners are having very different conversations than they were three-and-a-half years ago. Today, they're talking about strategies to fill larger orders, blueprints for bigger factories, and plans to hire more workers...President Obama has delivered for them. He understands that Washington doesn't create jobs; small businesses do. Government's role is to put the wind at their backs." Politico.

@JimPethokoukis: Another pol who has NO idea how businesses are started. Thinks it's all the Small Business Administration

KLEIN: Clinton, the true wonk-in-chief. "To a degree unusual in political rhetoric, this was a 48-minute speech about arithmetic. About math. About budgets... Bill Clinton made the policy case for Barack Obama. Neither Paul Ryan nor anyone else at the Republican convention made a sustained policy case for Mitt Romney. In that way, Clinton’s speech fit neatly into the emergent Democratic strategy to be, in this election, the party of policy. To be sure, they don’t have much of a choice...The most of important of these was his commentary on Medicaid...First, it’s a direct attack on Romney and Ryan’s claim that their budget won’t harm any seniors over age 55...Second, it’s an inarguable attack on Romney and Ryan’s budgets...Third, it’s arguably the most important and concrete policy difference between the two campaigns...Tonight, his role was wonk-in-chief, and he was trying to persuade the public of an old idea: That the best way to understand this election is to simply do the arithmetic." Ezra Klein in The Washington Post.

@jbarro: Bill Clinton hitting Republicans for their Medicaid plan. Why does nobody talk about this? It's more important than the Medicare stuff.

MARANISS: What makes Clinton magic. "Twelve years out of office but still and always ready to be needed, he took to prime time as master explainer and policy clarifier, party morale booster extraordinaire, voice of experience, historian longing for the old days of political bipartisanship, earnest economics instructor, hoarse whisperer to the middle class, and empathetic testifier for President Obama...Even as his speech went on and on toward the 48-minute mark, blasting way past his allotted time, Clinton did not seem rambling so much as direct and fast and eager...In classic Clinton style, the more he got going, the less inclined he was to follow his printed text, ad-libbing his way through a series of knowing asides such as, 'I know; I get it; I’ve been there.' He took his listeners on a kaleidoscopic tour of recent political history and deep into the Clintonian method, a modern-day variation of the Socratic method in which every question is worthy of consideration, and every opposing argument is given its due before being shredded." David Maraniss in The Washington Post.

@jodikantor: Clinton finally has his long-sought chance to be Obama's communications director.

ROSENTHAL: Clinton's hour of needed. "Watching Bill Clinton take the stage at the Democratic National Convention and take over the room with his first few, simple words -- 'We are here to nominate a President and I’ve got one in mind' -- was like watching a great violinist follow a group of gifted amateurs. His commanding presence, his let’s-just-chat manner, the familiar sound of his southern growl were the perfect counterpoint to the Republican Party’s assault on President Obama at its convention in Tampa last week. He skewered the Republicans gently, biting his lower-lip in characteristic fashion. He spoke more in sorrow than in anger...He fed the audience a string of statistics -- about job creation and health care reform and Medicare and Medicaid -- so smoothly that no one seemed to notice they were listening to an unusually policy-focused speech...This was his perfect moment." Andrew Rosenthal in The New York Times.

WILL: The radical content of Obama's speech tomorrow night. "Four years ago, Barack Obama was America’s Rorschach test, upon whom voters could project their disparate yearnings. To govern, however, is to choose, and now his choices have clarified him. He is a conviction politician determined to complete the progressive project of emancipating government from the Founders’ constraining premises...Tonight’s speech is Obama’s last chance to take a first step toward accommodation with a country increasingly concerned about his unmasked determination to 'transform' what the Founders considered 'fundamentals.'" George F. Will in The Washington Post.

ROVE: The convention will be a crucial test of Obama for young voters. "Thursday night at the Democratic convention, President Barack Obama could continue relentlessly assaulting Gov. Mitt Romney, put the best face on his own record, or offer a substantive vision for the future. But no matter what themes he emphasizes, we know his acceptance speech will target groups that propelled him to victory in 2008 and remain critical to his re-election, especially Hispanics, women and young people...[Y]outhful enthusiasm for Mr. Obama has waned. In October 2008, 78% of voters 18-29 told Gallup they would definitely vote that year. Now it's 58%...Mr. Obama's biggest problem with millennials is almost certainly his failure to reignite the economy. Robust growth is needed to create the new jobs they need." Karl Rove in The Wall Street Journal.

Top op-eds

EMANUEL: An example of health care innovation shines. "[O]ne of the most important hotbeds of new approaches to medicine is … you didn’t guess it: Arkansas. The state has a vision for changing the way Arkansans pay for health care. It is moving toward ending 'fee-for-service' payments, in which each procedure a patient undergoes for a single medical condition is billed separately. Instead, the costs of all the hospitalizations, office visits, tests and treatments will be rolled into one 'episode-based' or 'bundled' payment...This is how it will work: Medicaid and private insurers will identify the doctor or hospital who is primarily responsible for the patient’s care — the 'quarterback,' as Andrew Allison, the state’s Medicaid director, put it." Ezekiel J. Emanuel in The New York Times.

BLINDER: Out in far-right field. "Mitt Romney embraced an economic vision that differs radically from the rough politico-economic consensus in the United States since Franklin Roosevelt. Barack Obama accepts that broad consensus and, like many other presidents, has sought to deepen it. The Rooseveltian consensus embodied three main elements: a modest social safety net to protect vulnerable Americans from some of the downsides of unfettered markets, Keynesian-style policies to shorten recessions, and a progressive tax-transfer system to mitigate income inequality...But with Messrs. Romney and Ryan, it's out with Franklin Roosevelt and in with Ayn Rand." Alan S. Blinder in The Wall Street Journal.

SWAGEL: There is too big to fail, but there's also too small to succeed. "These calls, however, ignore the unintended consequences of making our global banks too small to succeed: Much of the business will migrate to non-U.S. banks and the less-regulated shadow banking sector...In a global economy, there is a need for financial institutions with scale and global capacity. Large banks offer their customers products, services and infrastructure that smaller banks cannot match, from multicity branch networks to global coverage that lowers costs." Philip Swagel in Bloomberg.

ROTH: Educating our way out of inequality. "From [a] narrow, instrumentalist perspective, students are consumers buying a customized playlist of knowledge. This critique may be new, but the call for a more narrowly tailored education -- especially for Americans with limited economic prospects -- is not...Education should aim to enhance our capacities, Dewey argued, so that we are not reduced to mere tools...Who wants to attend school to learn to be 'human capital'? Who aspires for their children to become economic or military resources? Dewey had a different vision. Given the pace of change, it is impossible (he noted in 1897) to know what the world will be like in a couple of decades, so schools first and foremost should teach us habits of learning. For Dewey, these habits included awareness of our interdependence; nobody is an expert on everything. He emphasized 'plasticity,' an openness to being shaped by experience." Michael S. Roth in The New York Times.

KRISTOF: Grading the President's first term. "In many ways, his first term has been disappointing: the economy remains weak, housing is a mess and, for a man with a silver tongue, he has been a wretched communicator. Then again, we’re incomparably better off than when we were tumbling toward another Great Depression...In short, we have a mixed picture, not as triumphant as the Democrats in Charlotte, N.C., claim, but still much better than many Americans give Obama credit for." Nicholas D. Kristof in The New York Times.

Top long reads

Steve Luxenberg writes about Bob Woodwards lates book, 'The Price of Politics':"A combination of miscalculations, ideological rigidity and discord within the leadership of both political parties brought the U.S. government to the brink of a catastrophic default during the 2011 showdown over the federal debt ceiling, according to a new book by journalist Bob Woodward...As the nation’s leaders raced to avert a default that could have shattered the financial markets’ confidence and imperiled the world’s economy, Obama convened an urgent meeting with top congressional leaders in the White House. According to Woodward, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) pointedly told the president that the lawmakers were working on a plan and wouldn’t negotiate with him. Obama, surprised, told Boehner and the others that they could not exclude him from the process, Woodward reports...Congress’s reemergence as a political force is one of the book’s underlying themes. For decades, Capitol Hill has been ceding influence and authority to the White House, especially to presidents who were bent on expanding the powers of the executive branch. In Woodward’s account, the balance of power has shifted at least temporarily back to the legislative branch during the past two years, aided by the Obama administration’s failure to nurture the alliances that it needed to offset the GOP’s huge victory in the 2010 midterm elections."

Coronal mass ejection interlude: A burst of solar plasma makes for as cool as a Youtube video as it sounds. Go.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail me.

Still to come:American economic competitiveness lags; Maine's effort to roll back Medicaid; union ballot measure moves ahead in MI; how the Democratic energy platform has changed; and adorable dogs.

Economy

US competitiveness drops among economies. "The United States slipped yet again in the World Economic Forum’s competitiveness rankings this year -- months before voters head to the polls. In a summary of the factors that contributed to the United States’ drop from fifth to seventh place, the authors cite a continued lack of trust in government leaders on the part of the business community as well as businesses’ continued criticism of the public and private sectors. As for the lack of trust in government leaders, the authors write that it is 'perhaps not surprising in light of recent political disputes that threaten to push the country back into recession through automatic spending cuts.' The authors also zing U.S. spending priorities, writing, 'the government spends its resources relatively wastefully,' a pillar under which the U.S. ranks 76th." Emi Koladwole in The Washington Post.

Is Mario Draghi reshaping Europe? "European history is marked by geopolitical watersheds, mostly involving generals and kings. Are central bankers about to join the list? When European Central Bank President Mario Draghi holds his monthly briefing Thursday, he is expected to announce details of a new effort to tackle the euro zone’s ongoing financial crisis — and potentially push Europe closer toward the economic and political union that has been the region’s ambition since World War II...[A]nalysts say Draghi and the ECB are at a critical juncture as they prepare to possibly reshape and broaden the bank’s role in ways that would have been inconceivable before the current crisis." Howard Schneider in The Washington Post.

IMF approves loan continuation for Ireland. "The International Monetary Fund approved Wednesday a €920 million ($1.16 billion) loan tranche for Ireland, lauding the country's ability to meet bailout program targets despite a slowdown in growth...Although the IMF commended the Irish government's budget management, it said further belt-tightening is necessary." Ian Talley in The Wall Street Journal.

Adorable animals interlude: Photos of dogs at the Brazos Animal Shelter in Bryan, TX.

Health Care

Maine wants to roll back Medicaid coverage extension in Obamacare. "Remember the health law’s Medicaid expansion, the part of the Affordable Care Act that the Supreme Court ruled states are not required to participate in? Maine certainly has not forgotten: It filed a lawsuit Tuesday that could become central to the next chapter in the fight over Obamacare. A quick refresher course: Half of the health law’s insurance expansion comes from growing Medicaid, the entitlement program for low-income Americans...That brings us to Maine. Top officials there think the Supreme Court ruling does even more than allow them to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. In their view, the Supreme Court allows them to drop hundreds of thousands of residents from their Medicaid rolls right away. They filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking permission to do just that." Sarah Kliff in The Washington Post.

Domestic Policy

Controversial union measures to go to ballot in MI. "Michigan's Supreme Court cleared the way Wednesday for three more initiatives to be put to voters on the November ballot, including a union-backed measure that would enshrine collective-bargaining rights in the state constitution." Matthew Dolan in The Wall Street Journal.

Classic interlude: The Band, "The Weight".

Energy

Electric grid security urged. "ith both Republicans and Democrats advocating for improved cybersecurity in their platforms, an Obama official on Wednesday called on Congress to approve new federal authority to manage cybersecurity on the electric grid. The need for mitigating cybersecurity at the electric utility level is urgent, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said." Zack Colman in The Hill.

The Democrats' plan for energy has changed dramatically over four years. "[C]ompared to its 2008 party platform, the 2012 version, called Moving America Forward, offers more restrained statements about the urgency of addressing climate change and shifts the party's energy strategy away from going 'green' toward an 'all-of-the-above' approach, a phrase also used in the Republican's 2012 platform. The political realities of the past four years have likely curbed the Democrats' ability to pursue the kind of energy and environment agenda they outlined in 2008." Valerie Volcovici in Reuters.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams.

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Sarah Kliff · September 5, 2012