Simba Roars

A good few updates here and good to see that the McCain avoids that particular misstep, for now at least. I have a feeling things won't quite go as well as hoped on some fronts though.
 
Just caught up. I like the Kennedy Center detail. Is that where Congress is in session as well? The new convention center isn’t going to finish until 2003, so the Kennedy Center is probably your best bet to keep the legislative process downtown and not present a picture of retreat.

I propose funds for a temporary arts venue on the Mall, maybe just north of the Washington memorial. Alternatively in the massive parking lot that was the old convention center site at the time. (And would remain so for a ridiculous number of years IOTL.)

I just want to push back on the idea that people would *necessarily* be more angry or upset ITTL. It’s just not necessarily how the human mind works. Can you imagine someone IOTL saying, “3,000 people are dead, so I am 3/5ths as sad and angry as I would’ve been if 5,000 were dead,”? That’s not how brains work. Same with conspiracy theories. One thing conspiracists don’t need is additional data points, more evidence. If anything, having 1-2 extra targets (and no speculated target) makes it harder for some of the theories to emerge.

Now, of course the direct tragedy does spread further. Additional lost lives means a much greater web of personal grief, affecting probably hundreds of thousands more. The twin towers in themselves, before the tragedy, never successfully symbolized much; the same definitely cannot be said for the Capitol and the Empire State Building. People will be affected by the loss of these symbols in subtle and diffuse ways.

I suspect one way, which we’re already seeing with the Trump post, is an even stronger effort from people and government to intervene against corporate interests when it comes to promotion of public aesthetics. IOTL there was a huge fight against what became the Freedom Tower; an unsuccessful fight. Local citizens and both the NYC and state governments came to an accord on what they wanted for the site, including architectural decisions. The owner of the Trade Center was able to successfully ignore most of this accord and build what he wanted. But with, I suspect, much more of the city getting directly involved in the battle over aesthetics (thanks to their interest in the fate of the ESB site and Trump proving right from the gate that their are villains to fight) I’m thinking the public and the government might get their way.

(Incidentally I did my capstone in college on this fight if you want some more thoughts and maybe some never-built WTC ideas, Vidal.)

Also definitely agreeing with Vidal on the administration not gunning for Iraq. It was a bizarre sell at the time and very clearly (at least as far as what the public saw) had nothing to do with evidence and everything to do with just wanting to lash out. And while people were okay with lashing out at the time, I think Vidal shows McCain exploring that impulse and rightly putting it aside. “Do not trust, and verify” and possibly be ready to attack elsewhere when necessary seems entirely reasonable.

Incidentally, I wonder how this will affect the situation in the ME should an alt- Arab Spring emerge. If Syria isn’t reacting to the occupation of Iraq, that’s some hefty butterflies. I suppose the Gaddafi pivot still happens, and how does McCain respond to that?

Small cultural butterfly: no one’s gonna want to see planes of any kind flying at the Empire State Building, So Peter Jackson will need a different post-Rings project. Halo?
 
@Expat, thank you for your thoughts! I appreciate your comments a lot.

I totally agree with you about the idea that people are 3/5ths as mad IOTL as they are ITTL, but I think you've already alluded to some of the reasons the attitude is more intense: the Capitol Building and the Empire State Building are definitely symbols. I also think it's worth noting that you had a major celebrity, Michael Jackson (at this point largely unscathed from scandal), and multiple members of Congress die in this attack. While no one is particularly attached to Wayne Allard as an American leader, I think that 18 members combined produces an effect that's different from OTL. People feel this struck them in every way - their culture (Empire State Building/Jackson), commerce/way of life (Trade Center), and their government (members of Congress/Capitol Building). I think that's where there is a greater sense of tragedy than OTL. I'd definitely appreciate any thoughts you have on the rebuilding efforts - feel free to DM me.

I'm excited to explore some of the cultural impacts of this - starting small at the beginning and then diverging significantly the further we get from the POD. I think you're exactly right about King Kong (2005) - it's going to be a little too close for comfort. I also considered whether the Forrest Gump sequel may be made ITTL, but I felt that if it was canceled in 2001 because OTL 9/11 was seen as too much, then it would definitely be canceled in light of 9/11 ITTL. Please feel free to comment with more ideas as I want to increasingly incorporate those changes into the timeline.

Also, conversations about Iraq are in no way over. There will not be pressure from the McCain administration to fabricate evidence of weapons of mass destruction or anything like that, but there is a very real concern about the Saddam Hussein's presence - that concern began well before this timeline's POD and can't be totally waved off. Regime change in Iraq was a part of the Republican Party platform and was the aim of the Clinton and Gore administrations. I have some major plot points planned through 2013, but not every detail. Iraq is going to be an ever-evolving issue within the Simba Roars world.

I invite further discussion on it as it helps to inform my own thoughts!
 
Romney Emerges as the Hero of 2002 Games

Romney Emerges as the Hero of 2002 Games
BY MAXINE WYNN | FEBRUARY 2002


(SALT LAKE CITY, UT) -- Though the United States came just one gold medal shy of winning the 2002 Olympic Games, history will remember Mitt Romney as the hero of the Salt Lake City games. When a bankrupt and scandal-ridden olympic committee fell apart, it was Romney who stepped up to the plate, found investors, and led a successful olympic organizing effort - raising more money with fewer sponsors than any other Olympic Games, and he had comparably less help from the host nation's federal government. With Romney's leadership, the games went off without a hitch and were saved from financial ruin. Now, some are asking what's next for the 55-year-old son of a former politician?

Romney is a Bain Capital executive who previously ran for the United States Senate in 1994, giving Ted Kennedy his closest scare in any reelection bid in the Senator's 30+ year career. Sources in the White House say President John McCain, who met with Romney at the Games this month, came away "extremely impressed" and is looking for a spot for Romney in his administration, but some argue there's no good place to slot Romney in. The president's cabinet is only a year old, and no one shows signs of leaving, and a sub-cabinet position seems like a demotion for Romney who is, at least temporarily, a household name in America.

Massachusetts Republicans are hoping that Romney will challenge Senator John Kerry for the United States Senate. Romney is the son of the late George Romney, a former cabinet secretary and a former governor of Michigan. Politics is in his blood, and a friend of Romney's says he wants to run for office again. However, the would-be candidate is evidently afraid that another loss for the Senate will damage his career. While Romney is seen as a hero now, Kerry remains immensely popular in the Senate and has a large war chest as he prepares for a presidential run in 2004. If needed, he could spend that money to save his seat (which is partly why national Republicans want him to jump into the race).

Massachusetts Governor Paul Cellucci is term-limited, and Romney would have an easier time winning an open gubernatorial seat, but Lt. Governor Jane Swift is the assumed Republican candidate for the governorship. Privately, some in the party have misgivings and would prefer that Romney run for governor and Swift be put up as a sacrificial lamb against Kerry. Republicans in the state are debating how to gently nudge Swift out of the race. She has not formally declared a campaign for any office in 2002.

Senator Kerry's campaign said they are "unfazed" by talk of a Romney run. "Just like in 1994, Massachusetts voters will familiarize themselves with Mr. Romney and reject him. While the senator thinks he did an outstanding job as the organizer of the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, the people of Massachusetts are familiar with Mr. Kerry's work in Washington on their behalf. He invites Mr. Romney to join the debate and looks forward to a conversation about the issues facing Massachusetts residents, with which Mr. Kerry is far more familiar," the statement read.

It is not clear what race, if any, Romney will enter, but for now, the future is only pointing up.
 
Robert Kardashian Diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer

Robert Kardashian Diagnosed with Esophageal Cancer

BY MAX HART | FEBRUARY 2002


(SANTA MONICA, CA) -- Robert Kardashian, the personal friend of OJ Simpson who helped defend him during the 1995 murder trial, today announced that he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Kardashian, who just turned 58, said the cancer was detected early and his prognosis is good. He is the ex-husband of Kris Jenner, who is now married to Bruce Jenner, the former olympian. Together, Mr. Kardashian and Mrs. Jenner had four children. Kardashian said he will be treating the cancer aggressively and spending more time with his children. Mr. Kardashian is engaged to Ellen Pierson.

During the murder trial of OJ Simpson, Kardashian became a household name as one of Simpson's defense attorneys. His friendship with Simpson began in the 1970's. After the death of Simpson's ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman, Mr. Simpson stayed with Kardashian for several days. The friendship did not survive the fallout from the trial, however. Though Kardashian was instrumental in providing Simpson's defense, Simpson ended their friendship, saying that he felt Kardashian betrayed attorney-client privilege in being a supplemental source for Larry Schiller's book on the case, American Tragedy.

Since then, Kardashian has questioned Simpson's innocence. ''I have doubts," Kardashian said in an interview after the fact. "The blood evidence is the biggest thorn in my side; that causes me the greatest problems. So I struggle with the blood evidence.'' Kardashian and his former client have not spoken in years, Schiller confirmed.

_____________________________

[1] I took some details about Kardashian and Simpson's relationship, including Kardashian's quote about the murder, from Kardashian's obituary in the NY Times.
 
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8. The Home Front New
Chapter 8

The Home Front


Education had been a major issue in George W. Bush's platform, but after winning, John McCain was forced to confront it.

International politics had consumed much of John McCain’s presidency since the September 11th attacks, but in the beginning of 2002, McCain began to adapt to his new normal. Foreign affairs could not completely consume his presidency, there were domestic matters that had to be considered. Most prominently, education reform had become a hot-button issue. The Elementary and Secondary Education Act needed reauthorization and many in Congress, from both parties, felt that unlike previous years, some wholescale changes were needed to the legislation. McCain agreed. During the 2000 election, he had largely focused on campaign finance reform while Bush had staked his presidency on education, but that didn’t mean McCain was without ideas for how to reform public schooling in the United States.

McCain’s chief goal in any education reform package was to expand the school voucher program in the United States. School choice was an issue that made strange bedfellows, and McCain exploited it. At his 2002 State of the Union Address, the president spoke about education reform and provided a brief outline of his expectations. He acknowledged several African-American pastors and community leaders in the audience who were advocates for school choice. “I want every child, regardless of their race, to have access to quality schools. No parent should be prevented from choosing the best school for their child. No child should be denied a better education,” McCain argued. The battle lines were drawn, and the president was planning on winning.

On Fox News and CNN, moderators brought on these community leaders from various cities and split the screen with congressmen and senators who debated them over vouchers. In one notable exchange, a black priest from Philadelphia told Senator Ted Kennedy, the Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee that he was “bought and paid for by the teachers unions” and challenged his understanding of issues facing students of color. The McCain Administration was using race as a talking point to turn public opinion on school vouchers, and it was working.

The president’s proposal also included state-by-state standards. Rather than focusing on proficiency, the McCain administration model focused on growth. The legislation as presented included a slew of new standardized testing requirements to measure whether each student was growing. Each student was expected to be monitored and school districts would report to their state about progress made (how many students were staying on track for reading and writing at grade level, how many were behind that were now caught up or ahead, how many students saw their testing decline?).



Secretary of Education Lisa Keegan featured prominently in the discussions around McCain's education reform.

Throughout the debate, Secretary of Education Lisa Keegan became a household name. She appeared on every morning show, every evening news broadcast, and every Sunday show to explain her reasoning. She was confident and undeterred. When Tim Russert grilled her on school vouchers, she fought back. When she was cooking with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, she made analogies to standardized testing. When she sat down with Dan Rather, she criticized the inaction of Democrats in the House and Senate. Keegan was guided by several fundamental principles, including school vouchers and standardized testing.

In order to get Democratic buy-in, McCain began meeting regularly with two prominent Democrats on education issues. The first was Kennedy and the second was Patrick Leahy, the senior senator from Vermont. Leahy used his time with the president and Secretary Keegan to advocate for more resources for kindergarten. Leahy’s advocacy began to move the president, though Keegan was less convinced. Sensing the possibility for movement on the issue, the senator from Vermont reached out to Russ Feingold, a friend of McCain’s thanks to their work on campaign finance reform, and convinced Feingold to help draft an amendment to expand resources for states to implement full-day kindergarten. The funds would exist for 10 years and afterwards states who took the money would have the performance of kids in elementary and middle school who attended full-day kindergarten against those who didn’t. Quickly, the Leahy-Feingold amendment found resistance from Speaker Dennis Hastert, who argued that it was “runaway spending” and attacked the “intrusion” of the federal government into early childhood education.



Vice President Frist, Senator Leahy, President McCain, and Congressman Menendez after a meeting in White House to discuss education reform.

Passing such a large bill is complicated, and it is bound to go awry. The Leahy-Feingold amendment was but one source of contention. Such was the case for the McCain team early in 2002. McCain was adamant that the bill should pay for itself as much as possible. Namely, the president wanted to take $5.4 billion in grants and subsidies for the ethanol, sugar, and gas industries to offset costs. These provisions drew opposition from senators and congressmen in Iowa, Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Hawaii – where some combination of these industries made up large swaths of the economy. Chuck Grassley from Iowa called the cuts to ethanol “irrelevant” and “absurd.” Tom Harkin, Grassley’s Iowan colleague, joined Mary Landrieu, a Democratic senator from Louisiana, for a press conference on the steps of Capitol Hill to protest the cuts. They were joined by Senator John Kerry, an aspiring presidential candidate who wanted to make clear he was opposed to ethanol cuts ahead of the 2004 Iowa Democratic Caucuses.

Mike Murphy began meeting with Republican congressmen from the affected states and found votes rapidly diminishing. Florida and Texas were large states and home to a significant portion of the Republican members of the House. McCain’s bill couldn’t pass with such steep cuts to those industries. If they scaled back the cuts to sugar and gas subsidies, they could probably get back enough votes, but the president wasn’t interested. During one strategy meeting in the Oval Office, the president argued the bill “had to be passed” and Republican congressmen would fall in line under the pressure. “I’m a popular fucking president. I’ll campaign wherever I need to,” he said. “They need to vote with me.”

Money from the affected industries began to pour in to Republican and Democratic members who came out against the cuts publicly and privately promised to hold the line. McCain was outraged. “Their money doesn’t mean shit if I land Air Force One in Nowhere, Texas and campaign for their goddman opponent in the primary!” the president yelled to Murphy. While Murphy relayed the message, Republican congressmen weren’t biting. In a rather unprecedented move, McCain traveled to Capitol Hill himself to meet with the House Republican Caucus and explain the importance of a “fiscally responsible” education bill. “We all want vouchers,” he said, “but we have to pay for them, or we’re hypocrites when we say the Democrats waste taxpayer dollars.” It was enough for a couple of votes but not nearly enough. The education bill was dead. The conservative Republicans had finally stood up to their president.

The White House decided to shine a light on the corrupting influence of money in Washington. The president delivered an Oval Office address – the second of his presidency – in March in order to convince Americans to lobby Congress to pass the bill. “My only option,” he said, “is to ask you to use your voice and be louder than the sound of change filling the coffers of hundreds of members of Congress.” The president sat down for interviews and went around the country holding some town hall events in an attempt to mirror the strategy he used to pass campaign finance reform. It didn’t work. In some places, he was confronted by sugar farmers or corn farmers.

With tensions mounting, Vice President Bill Frist met with the Speaker and other members of Republican leadership. Hastert and Tom DeLay made clear that the votes for passage didn’t exist. Trent Lott said the vote was a bit easier in the Senate, but he wasn’t sure he could get it passed. A lot of people were holding out for a clearer sense of the Leahy-Feingold amendment, about which the president remained undecided. It would probably win over Democrats, but it would cost the president some Republicans. Frist gritted his teeth and left the meeting, relaying the bad news to the president over their weekly Wednesday lunch. McCain was frustrated and confused. His approval rating was around 80%, and McCain still couldn’t get the votes he needed. The lobbyists’ grip on Washington was too tight.



Vice President Frist and President McCain meet to discuss the education reform efforts. Frist frequently went to bat for the president with conservatives.

Furious, McCain agreed to abandon the majority of his rollbacks, only offsetting the voucher program cost by $980 million, as opposed to his original $5.4 billion – even that was a fight and left him with few votes to spare. Though many of the actual education provisions of the bill were popular and had bipartisan support, McCain’s elimination of so-called pork programs to pay for the bill fostered opposition. The Leahy-Feingold amendment failed, receiving only 44 votes. Though many had been supportive, some senators voted against it because they were afraid President McCain would target their pet projects next to pay for the cost.

In early May of 2002, McCain signed the Opportunity for Every Child Act into law. It contained an unprecedented expansion of school vouchers, greater standardized testing with rigorous educational standards, and a growth-over-proficiency mindset meant to revolutionize the way schools received federal and state dollars for education. The bill also included tax credits for high school graduates who went to college to become teachers. Students who took that route could receive interest-free student loans and access to a “Keegan grant” – a special kind of financial aid for students wanting to become teachers, colloquially named for the Secretary of Education who fought for its inclusion into the bill.

The fight over his education bill left a sour taste in the president’s mouth. It ruined any chance for a balanced budget during his presidency because his own party was unwilling to implement the necessary offsets in spending. The debate furthered McCain’s belief in even greater finance legislation and, when combined with lawsuits working the way through the Courts, inspired a slew of centrist judicial appointments to fill vacancies on the federal bench. Most of these nominations were met with little opposition, but right-wing groups were starting to grow weary and increasingly, Republican senators began to vote against the president’s nominees for fear of being linked with a future “Souter” – a Republican judicial nomination that proved more liberal than President George Bush had intended.

The president ignored these acts of minimal resistance and turned his attention again towards the nation’s security and international matters, determined to find Osama bin Laden and eradicate Al Qaeda and others of that ilk from the Middle East.
 
How does the Keegan Grant work? Trying to think out enforcement. Proof of employment as a teacher (tax returns?) for x number of years or it retroactively becomes a loan? Probably face some court challenges on that one.
 
How does the Keegan Grant work? Trying to think out enforcement. Proof of employment as a teacher (tax returns?) for x number of years or it retroactively becomes a loan? Probably face some court challenges on that one.
It's basically an extra Pell grant but exclusively for those in school and majoring in education, and it's interest-free. And yes, as long as you have proof of employment as a teacher while you pay it off, you don't have to pay interest on your loans. Sort of a tuition tax credit hybrid...
 
Interesting to see the development on internal affairs as well with this update. Seems like the split between the President and party is widening. Is it likely to see much of a big break at some point?
 
How would the entertainment industry have been affected by Michael Jackson's death?
I’m definitely going to explore this as much as possible, but I think the biggest change will be to Jackson‘s personal legacy and because the changes are things not happening, they’ll be hard to show. Obviously, there will be no child molestation charges. Of course, rumors already existed but they’re not going to take on the life they have ITTL. There’s no Finding Neverland. That’s the most radical change, but I can’t exactly show it since it’s events that *aren’t* happening.

Interesting to see the development on internal affairs as well with this update. Seems like the split between the President and party is widening. Is it likely to see much of a big break at some point?
There are certainly stresses in the relationship... stay tuned!
 
It’s strange to see a President so at odds with their own party this early ITTL. I know McCain was a maverick, but wasn’t he still pretty conservative by most standards?

Another thing I’m having a hard time believing is the appointment of centrist judicial nominees. McCain did vote for nominees like Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and IOTL, he voted for John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and supported Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, and he voted against Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. I feel like he could gain some conservative support back by nominating conservatives judges.
 
It’s strange to see a President so at odds with their own party this early ITTL. I know McCain was a maverick, but wasn’t he still pretty conservative by most standards?

Another thing I’m having a hard time believing is the appointment of centrist judicial nominees. McCain did vote for nominees like Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and IOTL, he voted for John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and supported Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, and he voted against Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. I feel like he could gain some conservative support back by nominating conservatives judges.
I think what someone said on this thread(sorry I forgot who), that president McCain is different from Senator McCain.
 
It’s strange to see a President so at odds with their own party this early ITTL. I know McCain was a maverick, but wasn’t he still pretty conservative by most standards?

Another thing I’m having a hard time believing is the appointment of centrist judicial nominees. McCain did vote for nominees like Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, and IOTL, he voted for John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, and supported Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, and he voted against Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. I feel like he could gain some conservative support back by nominating conservatives judges.
There is plenty of good will from smaller legislation - his reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, even the tax cuts which were imperfect, the inclusion of school vouchers in the education bill (larger than in NCLB), etc. Of course, there’s also plenty of good will with the national security issues.

The problems really all stem from McCain’s push for campaign finance reform and his resulting desire to cut the subsidies mentioned in the story. In some ways, his education bill is even more of a dream for conservatives than NCLB was, but because of his plan to pay for (which I pulled from his campaign platform), he angers many in his party.

Judges are a good point. I don’t mean to suggest that he’s appointing Kagans to the bench but more that he’s worried about appointing people he fears will overturn his campaign finance bill. I didn’t give it too much attention because it was more meant to foreshadow, but this is largely a knee jerk reaction by a president with an infamous temper than it is a permanent shift.

I view McCain’s politics as evolving in the shape of a bell curve. From what I’ve read, the 2000 campaign marked him on the outside of his party’s mainstream and while foreign policy and issues like vouchers point to conservative parts of his record, he’s squarely at odds over campaign finance issues. Then, as 2008 approached he took on more conservative ideals to win over electorate he’d lost with a peak around 2010 over fear of a Tea Party challenge, and then as Trump came into office he found himself opposing his party more and more (mostly because of the man in office, not an ideological bent).

McCain’s a deeply complex character, and I hope I’m capturing that and will work on using the interludes to explicate more secondary legislation that has a traditionally Republican bent.
 
There is plenty of good will from smaller legislation - his reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, even the tax cuts which were imperfect, the inclusion of school vouchers in the education bill (larger than in NCLB), etc. Of course, there’s also plenty of good will with the national security issues.

The problems really all stem from McCain’s push for campaign finance reform and his resulting desire to cut the subsidies mentioned in the story. In some ways, his education bill is even more of a dream for conservatives than NCLB was, but because of his plan to pay for (which I pulled from his campaign platform), he angers many in his party.

Judges are a good point. I don’t mean to suggest that he’s appointing Kagans to the bench but more that he’s worried about appointing people he fears will overturn his campaign finance bill. I didn’t give it too much attention because it was more meant to foreshadow, but this is largely a knee jerk reaction by a president with an infamous temper than it is a permanent shift.

I view McCain’s politics as evolving in the shape of a bell curve. From what I’ve read, the 2000 campaign marked him on the outside of his party’s mainstream and while foreign policy and issues like vouchers point to conservative parts of his record, he’s squarely at odds over campaign finance issues. Then, as 2008 approached he took on more conservative ideals to win over electorate he’d lost with a peak around 2010 over fear of a Tea Party challenge, and then as Trump came into office he found himself opposing his party more and more (mostly because of the man in office, not an ideological bent).

McCain’s a deeply complex character, and I hope I’m capturing that and will work on using the interludes to explicate more secondary legislation that has a traditionally Republican bent.
McCain will always be remembered as a man with a very complex legacy, no doubt about that. Given my reaction, it’s obvious you are capturing it to a T. I’m surprised that the campaign finance reform bill is giving McCain so much flak given that it seems to be the one bill Republicans oppose him on while he’s giving them more conservative legislation.

I wonder what that means for the Supreme Court should OTL follow through for O’Connor to retire and Rehnquist’s death.
 
I’m definitely going to explore this as much as possible, but I think the biggest change will be to Jackson‘s personal legacy and because the changes are things not happening, they’ll be hard to show. Obviously, there will be no child molestation charges. Of course, rumors already existed but they’re not going to take on the life they have ITTL. There’s no Finding Neverland. That’s the most radical change, but I can’t exactly show it since it’s events that *aren’t* happening.
That's all great. I guess the immediate effect of this though would be a charity concert of his songs to raise funds for NYC, and his final sessions being released posthumously. Invincible would be a much more decent title for the album ITL than OTL.
 
That's all great. I guess the immediate effect of this though would be a charity concert of his songs to raise funds for NYC, and his final sessions being released posthumously. Invincible would be a much more decent title for the album ITL than OTL.
Agreed. I think the one-year anniversary will also feature a lot of Jackson - "Man in the Mirror" and other songs about coming together.
 
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