March 31, 2014

Overnight Open Thread (3-31-2014)
— Maetenloch

Quote of the Day

"If I had known when I was shot down that I would be there more than seven years, I would have died of despondency, of despair," he told Investor's Business Daily. "But I didn't. It was one minute at a time, one hour, one week, one year and so on. If you look at it like that, anybody can do anything."

-- Admiral Jeremiah Denton

OMG: The NSA's Been Spying on Every Single Call, Text, and Email in Iraq!!!!!!!

A couple weeks ago, we learned from leaked documents that the NSA has the capability to record an entire country's calls, texts, and email in real time. That's a hell of a capability, and those documents revealed that it was being used in one country. Now, thanks to a retired NSA leader, we know which country that is: Iraq.

...No matter what the reasoning was, it's still pretty insane that the NSA can monitor every single phone call, text, and email in a country. They're doing that with six countries now, according to the leaked documents. But it's even more insane that friends of the NSA think fessing up to it is going to make the agency look good.

Apparently we're supposed to be outraged by this at least according to the writer. But then this kind of information collecting is the whole raison d'être of the NSA in the first place. If they're not trying to capture any signal intelligence of potential interest in a country up until recently thousands of US troops were fighting in, then I want an accounting of all the goddamn money we gave them and where their time was spent.

And the fact that this shocks and infuriates Glenn Greenwald: Priceless

iraqB3E5C90E-3E89-45B7-9362-BF33F2997C9E_mw800_mh600_s.jpeg iraq6a00d8341bfadb53ef00e54f450fba8834-640wi


Posted by: Maetenloch at 05:27 PM | Comments (732)
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April 01, 2014

March 31, 2014

Analysts: Factoring in Candidate Experience, GOP Now Has 80% Chance of Recapturing the Senate
— Ace

Which would be good.

Democrats’ prospects for 2014 do not look rosy. There is little chance that they will retake the House, and a good chance they will lose seats. Even worse, there is a significant chance that they will lose control of the Senate. Our forecasting model said as many as two months ago. That forecast continues to square with the sense of many analysts — even those who mocked the forecast.


One key piece of information is whether candidates have held an elective office before and, if so, which one. Unsurprisingly, political science research has long shown that candidates who have held elective office and higher levels of office tend to do better on Election Day. They usually run better campaigns and make fewer mistakes, if only because they’ve done it before.

As we have begun to incorporate candidate experience into the model, our initial sense is this: Republicans may have a far better chance of winning control of the Senate than we or other analysts previously thought. Here is a preliminary estimate: The GOP could have as much as a 4 in 5 chance of controlling the chamber.

Numerous factors could upset this analysis, such as unexpected, weak candidates winning where the analysis assumes more experienced, stronger candidates.

Of course, none of that really matters anymore, because Chuck Todd has declared Obamacare "unrepealable."

ppearing on Monday's Today, NBC's chief White House correspondent and political director Chuck Todd seized on ObamaCare hitting the six million sign-up mark by the March 31 deadline, proclaiming: "So at a minimum, the importance of hitting the six means the law is unrepealable....It means that it's here to stay." Todd made no mention of only 26% of Americans supporting ObamaCare in a new poll. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Co-host Matt Lauer accepted Todd's declaration and wondered about the political impact of the health care law: "You can't repeal it, but does that mean seven months down the road, as the midterm elections come around, that this will be any less of an issue in terms of close races in congressional districts?"

I have no idea how Chuck Todd would get to this "unrepealable" notion, apart from pure fanboism.

Posted by: Ace at 02:49 PM | Comments (370)
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ABCNews Poll: Suddenly, Near-Majority of Respondents... Supports Obamacare?
— Ace


ABCNews is determined to not ask about "Obamacare" -- I guess because people say they don't support the law when you call it "Obamacare" -- and so asks the question this way...

"Overall, do you support or oppose the federal law making changes to the health care system?"

What federal law making changes to the health care system? The various House efforts to repeal it, or end the individual mandate, or codify the "If you like your plan you can keep your plan" promise into law, or Obama's various extraconstitutional delays of mandates and enforcement efforts to ameliorate the pain, or...?

I'm not sure what people are thinking of when they're asked about "changes to the health care system." There's a new "change to the health care system" every week.

AllahPundit notes that ABCNews has asked the question this way before, and has found, previously, that people oppose Obamacare even when the question is worded so vaguely. So there is some movement in this poll, despite the shaky question.

But I don't know. Given all the "changes to the health care system" going on every week, I don't know if this question means what it previously might have been taken to mean.

Posted by: Ace at 01:02 PM | Comments (322)
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Less Than One-Quarter of Obamacare Enrollees Were Previously Uninsured; Three Quarters Were People Thrown Off Their Existing Insurance
— Ace

Per a Rand Corporation study.

[O]f the people who have paid their first month’s premium on the Obamacare exchanges, and are thereby enrolled in coverage, 76 percent were previously insured, and 24 percent were previously uninsured.


What’s important to remember is that this is not how Obamacare was supposed to work. The Congressional Budget Office, in its original estimates, predicted that the vast majority of the people eligible for subsidies on the exchanges would be previously uninsured individuals.

Guy Benson writes about all the chicanery in the Obamacare "sign-up" numbers, linking this piece by Marc Thiessen on the subject of the very small number of uninsured who have actually gotten insurance through Obamacare.

Recall that between 5 million and 6 million Americans lost their health plans because of Obamacare last fall. If the administration now succeeds in signing up 5 million to 6 million previously insured Americans, it will have achieved . . . nothing. Breaking even is no great accomplishment.

And let’s not forget: Many of those new Obamacare sign-ups are self-sufficient people who were previously paying their own way and now receive government subsidies for insurance. Creating government dependency is not progress — it’s a step backward.

The stated goal of Obamacare was not to move millions of privately insured Americans into taxpayer-subsidized health coverage. The goal was to cover the uninsured. That was the justification for all the chaos and disruption Americans have experienced — and that is the standard by which the administration should be judged.


Goldman Sachs is projecting that only 1 million Obamacare sign-ups will come from previously uninsured Americans. Indeed, it estimates that the number of total signups will be just 4 million — not 6 million, as the administration claims — because “HHS figures . . . count all persons who selected an ACA exchange plan regardless of whether or not they have actually completed the enrollment process by paying their premium.” Goldman Sachs also anticipates that fully 75 percent of all the Obamacare sign-ups will be from people who already had insurance.

All this, for one million sign-ups of the previously uninsured.

Posted by: Ace at 11:42 AM | Comments (419)
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Saturday Night Live Pimps Obamacare in Unfunny Sketch
— Ace

Many on the right are claiming this sketch "makes fun" of Obama.*

There's an odd thing on the right, where they repeatedly claim that what are objectively pro-Obama sketches and claim that they're goofing on Obama or "ripping" on him.

The below sketch, written in the patented recent SNL style (by which I mean it's not funny and relies almost entirely on minor references to minor celebrities for mere "oh I know who that is" recognition reactions than actual humor value), is pro-Obama and pro-Obamacare from start to finish.

Obama is depicted as a reluctant pitchman for Obamacare. He doesn't want to embarrass himself by doing these social media stunts to advertise for Obamacare. He has more dignity (and less ego) than that.

He's only drawn into these schemes by third parties, who, in this sketch, are the butt of the joke. Here, that third party is the WH's social media outreach guru, depicted as a nerdy freak.

Whenever Obama objects to her schemes, his advisor reminds him of all the people who desperately need health insurance, whom Obama has sworn to help. And then Obama goes through with the advert.

Almost all of SNL's Obama sketches are like this now -- and by "like this" I mean "not funny." And they're specifically unfunny because they're written as relentless pieces of boosterism and apologism for Obama.

* Maybe this is semantic. When I read "makes fun of Obama," I take it to mean that Obama is the target of the jokes, that he's being attacked.

All the SNL Obama sketches do (for the past several years) is put Obama into a situation in which funny things are happening around him (well, in theory, funny things are happening around him). But this isn't "making fun of" him. At most, this is... I don't know what you'd call it. Dealing with him "irreverently," I suppose, as Life of Brian handled the Jesus story without actually making Jesus the target of jokes.

It's a standard comedy trope that when you have silly crap happening, you need someone playing "The Only Sane Man in the Room" to react to it. The audience sees its own reaction in The Only Sane Man, and winds up identifying with The Only Sane Man.

These sorts of sketches -- making Obama the put-upon Only Sane Man -- are not making fun of him. At worst for Obama, they're merely goofing on the things that a thoughtful, dignified, brilliant man must do to Get Poor People Insured.

I don't know if this frequent mischaracterization of SNL's many pro-Obama sketches as somehow "anti-Obama" is a play for viral links (in hopes that the right will link the posts celebrating the alleged sketch that "rips on" Obama), or if people on the right are so desperate to have SNL's validation that they're seeing things that just aren't present in the sketches.


Posted by: Ace at 10:30 AM | Comments (412)
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CNN: We're Not Covering Leland Yee Because It's a Local Crime Story
— Ace

That's a paraphrase. They claim they never cover state senators.

Which is a great defense, were it true. Which, of course, it's not.

Posted by: Ace at 09:03 AM | Comments (370)
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"Cauchemaresque," "Sans Precedent:" The French Left Looses Huge in France's Municipal Elections
— Ace

Update: France's PM has resigned. MereMortal posts this tweet:

French Prime Minister Ayrault's office says he has resigned as prime minister - @Reuters

Note this is not the President (Hollande), who will remain in office even longer than Obama (the next presidential election is sometime in 2017, probably March).


"Nightmarish," says LeMonde.

"Without precedent," says Le Figaro.

France just held its municipal elections -- held every two years to vote in mayors, town councilors, etc. -- and the Socialists (PS, Parti Socialist) lost badly.

At least 155 towns with 9,000 inhabitants or more switched from leftist rule (PS or associated leftist parties) to rightist (usually Sarkozy's party, l'UMP). Some towns, which have had socialist rule for 37 or 43 years, have now dumped the socialist party in favor of the UMP.

Limoges has been ruled by socialists since 1912 -- except during the Vichy years (when the Nazis ruled it) and except for 1946-47, when it was ruled by... Communists. That town has now flipped to a UMP mayor.

The "far right" party, the Front National (FN), picked up something like 15 mayorships as well.

The Prime Minister (himself PS) confessed the defeat.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault acknowledged the vote was "a defeat for the government and the [Socialist] majority".

"This message is clear... The president will draw conclusions, and he will do so in the interest of France,'' he added, in an apparent reference to a likely cabinet reshuffle.

These elections don't directly affect the national government. The elections for the French Senate will be held this September (I believe this is exactly the midway point in a President's five-year term). But this is the public's first chance to weigh in on Hollande's socialist rule, and they're not happy about it.

I doubt this has much to do with American politics, except in this minor way. When Democrats are in trouble, the media frequently portrays the public as "in an anti-incumbent" mood, as if they're just against incumbents, period, without parsing out between which incumbents they're most displeased by.

Similar crap was/is going on in France, with much made of the very poor turnout rate -- the elections featured an all-time high of people choosing not to vote in a municipal election.

Thus the public was in an "anti-incumbent" mood.

But they didn't vote out all incumbents. Only three towns moved from having a rightist (UMP) mayor to having a leftwing one. Meanwhile, at least 155 moved the other way, in what is being called the droitisation (rightward movement) of the electorate.

Hollande is not directly affected by this. Even if he looses the September elections, he still won't be booted out of power, because the Prime Minister is selected by the Senate, but the President (like the President in America) serves his full term no matter who holds the Senate.

But this is obviously a major blow to the left. So much so that Hollande will address the nation at 8 PM (their local time) to say something or other about what is variously being called a "rout," "debacle," and "penalty" for the left.

Interestingly, it's also frequently said that a "vague bleu" swept France -- a Blue Wave. The French have retained the historical use of red for the left, so the right is blue.

Oh it's also being called the left's Berezina. The French don't speak of "meeting one's Waterloo," for some reason. Usually they refer to another of Napoleon's major setbacks, that at the Battle of Berezina (a river in Russia in 1812). Like our own Waterloo expression, it means "disaster" or "catastrophe).

BTW: There's some lame spin in the world press that the left's "consolation" is that Paris elected its first female mayor.

That is not consolation. Hildago's opponent, NKM (I forget her full name) was also a woman.

It has been known that Paris would have a female mayor, whether the PS candidate Hildago or the UMP candidate NKM, for a full year.

Meanwhile, some "anti-fascism" groups are protesting the FN's wins in some towns by... threatening political violence.

I'm not sure if they understand what "anti-fascism" means.

Posted by: Ace at 07:43 AM | Comments (378)
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Rownan Farrow's Audience Consists Of People Whose Remote Has Died, Family, And People Paid to Watch And Make Fun Of Him
— DrewM

It's hard to stand out for low ratings on network that no one watches like MSNBC but full credit to Ronan Farrow, he manages to pull it off.

“He sort of stinks on TV,” an MSNBC source told Confidenti@l. “He hasn’t turned out to be the superstar they were hoping for.”


Last Wednesday, Farrow drew an average of about 312,000 total viewers, which might be stellar for Twitter but “is rather measly for someone who is supposed to be a major national personality,” another source said.

Even worse: Wednesday’s show was 708th among all programming ranked by Nielsen, in both total viewers and the 18-to-49 age group advertisers covet. The midnight airing of “Baggage” on the Game Show Network came in ahead of it, at No. 707, and the 8 a.m. “Golden Girls” on the Hallmark Channel (No. 700) crushed it.

Somewhere in the great beyond, Frank Sinatra is telling everyone there's no chance this no-talent loser is his kid and if he were he'd smack the smirk off the kid's face.

Posted by: DrewM at 07:09 AM | Comments (237)
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Homeland Security: Oh FYI- We Released Almost 70,000 Illegal Immigrants Who Had Criminal Records
— DrewM

Obama likes to talk about how he's using his "discretion" in enforcing immigration laws to focus on deporting illegals who have committed crimes (in addition to being here illegally). As in so many other cases, Obama's talk is unrelated to his actions.

“ICE released 68,000 criminal aliens in 2013, or 35 percent of the criminal aliens encountered by officers. The vast majority of these releases occurred because of the Obama administration’s prosecutorial discretion policies,” Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, wrote in a memo summarizing the DHS document.
ICE classifies illegal immigrants as criminal if they have been convicted of a crime, not including traffic offense, Vaughn noted.

Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Budget Committee, blasted the administration’s record.

“The preponderance of the evidence demonstrates that immigration enforcement in America has collapsed. Even those with criminal convictions are being released. DHS is a department in crisis,” he said in a statement Sunday.

But you know, we can do amnesty because...background checks! What's the matter? Don't you trust Obama?

Well maybe you'll trust...John McCain who once again vowed to work for amnesty because that's what Ted Kennedy would have wanted.

Related(ish)...The GOP establishment has a fever and the only cure is more Jeb "Amnesty" Bush.

Posted by: DrewM at 05:28 AM | Comments (363)
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Top Headline Comments 3-31-14
— Gabriel Malor

Happy Monday.

On this (putative) last day to sign up on the Obamacare exchanges, Sen. Angus King, Maine's independent that caucuses with the Democrats, insists "there's no such thing as Obamacare." Apparently, if people would just use another term for the failing, unpopular health care law, it would change what it does.

Oh, and as I write this's login process is down. No, I'm not kidding. Maybe a late surge has overwhelmed the servers?

Meanwhile, Democrats are still trying to figure out how to campaign on Obamacare before November.

Keep those Ask the Blog questions coming.

AoSHQ Weekly Podcast: [rss.pngRSS] [itunes_modern.pngOn iTunes] [Stream] [Download Latest Episode] [Ask The Blog]

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:50 AM | Comments (257)
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March 30, 2014

Overnight Open Thread (3-30-2014)
— Maetenloch

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...

And do what needs to be done when it's time for it.

Admiral Jeremiah Denton RIP

On July 18, 1965 then CDR Denton was shot down over North Vietnam where he would be a POW for the next seven and half years. After extended torture and solitary confinement the North Vietnamese thought he was sufficiently softened up to be used in propaganda videos. They were wrong.

Denton's name first came to the attention of the American public in 1966, during a television interview arranged by the North Vietnamese in Hanoi. Prior to the interview, torture and threats of more torture were applied to intimidate him to "respond properly and politely." His captors thought he was softened up sufficiently to give the North Vietnamese their propaganda line

...During the interview, after the Japanese interviewer's recitation of alleged U.S. "war atrocities," Denton was asked about his support of U.S. policy concerning the war. He replied: "I don't know what is happening now in Vietnam, because the only news sources I have are North Vietnamese, but whatever the position of my government is, I believe in it, I support it, and I will support it as long as I live." The audience was aghast at his unexpected answer and the room went dead silent.
Throughout the interview, while responding to questions and feigning sensitivity to harsh lighting, Denton blinked his eyes in Morse Code, repeatedly spelling out a covert message: T-O-R-T-U-R-E. The interview, which the Japanese journalist clandestinely took from Hanoi to Tokyo and sold to ABC was broadcast on American television on May 17, 1966[. It] was the first confirmation that American POWs in Vietnam were being tortured.

You can watch his message in this video. The Morse code for 'torture' is -  ---  .-.  -  ..-  .-.  .


Posted by: Maetenloch at 05:31 PM | Comments (565)
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Bill Maher Tricks Guests With a "Racist" Paul Ryan Quote That's Actually a Michelle Obama Quote
— Ace

It all depends on who's saying it.

Posted by: Ace at 02:45 PM | Comments (685)
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Open Thread (reserved for politics) [CBD]
— Open Blogger

I have no idea whether this 155mm Howitzer crew is any good, but it sure is fun to watch.

Posted by: Open Blogger at 11:29 AM | Comments (120)
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Food Thread: Bread, Cheese and a pan -- A Match Made In Heaven (CBD)
— Open Blogger

We Politely Request That All Off-Topic or Political Comments Be Directed to the Thread Directly Below This One, Which Will Serve Officially as the Current "Active Conversation" Thread for All Discussions Not Related To This Topic.

Bacon Guacamole Grilled Cheese Sandwich 500 1953.jpg

As none of you may know, April is National Grilled Cheese Month*. And what better way to celebrate our nation's newest holiday than to make one every day!

30 grilled cheese sandwiches -- 30 days in April. Coincidence? I think not. They are stretching the definition of "grilled cheese," and a few of these are a bit odd (apples?, but most of these are drool-worthy.

Posted by: Open Blogger at 11:30 AM | Comments (77)
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Sunday Gun Thread
— Dave in Texas

Ok, what's this gun of the week? Hint: Confederate soldiers called it "that damned Yankee rifle that you load on Sunday and shoot all week".

Damn Yankee Rifle.jpg

Guns in the News: This was mentioned earlier this week, self defense with firearms on the rise in Detroit and the Police Chief approves.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a press conference last week that in his 37-year career, he’s never seen as many homeowners defending themselves by shooting intruders. Craig told The News in January he felt the crime rate could be lowered if more “good Americans” were armed, because he said criminals would think twice about attacking.

“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” Craig said. “More and more Detroiters are getting sick of the violence. I know of no other place where I’ve seen this number of justifiable homicides. It’s interesting that these incidents go across gender lines.”

He's very right and it's refreshing to see a police chief say so.

Ok this is an abbreviated gun thread because sunny and 72 degrees outside. Have a great weekend y'all. Gun answer below the fold.


Posted by: Dave in Texas at 09:32 AM | Comments (139)
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NASCAR: Race Day In Martinsville 3-30-14- [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]
— Open Blogger

Welcome to another week of NASCAR racing. This week the action is at the short track at Martinsville in Ridgeville, VA, for the STP 500.

This week NASCAR suffered the loss of a beloved family member as Linda Petty, wife of Richard Petty, succumbed to cancer. ESPN writer Ryan McGee recalls a morning spent with her in 2008.

I was standing just outside the front door to the office, staring out at the front yard of the Petty homestead, and no doubt grinning ear-to-ear. The team had recently moved south to the Charlotte area and the near-empty buildings where the most dominant race cars in NASCAR history were once built was now downright tranquil. But it still gave me chills.

I was so giddy to have the place to myself that I hadn't even noticed the car that pulled up and the woman that started walking toward me.

"Good morning," she called out. "Are you lost or waiting on someone?"

It was Lynda Petty. Wife of Richard, mother of Kyle, matriarch of Petty Enterprises, and to so many, certainly to me, the first lady of stock car racing.

I introduced myself and she was kind enough to act like she remembered me. I told her that I was waiting for her grandson, Austin, to pick me up and take me over to the nearby Victory Junction Gang Camp for a tour. To that she replied, laughing, "If you're riding with Austin, be sure to wear your seat belt." Then she said, "Why don't I wait with you and you tell me about yourself."

Funny, I'd wanted to say the same thing to her.

It's been a tough week for the NASCAR family as another legendary clan lost a loved one. Bobby Waltrip, brother to Darrell and Michael, a Fox Sports announcer and successful go-kart racer, passed away last Sunday.

May God grant the families of Linda and Bobby with peace and the loving support of those who surround them.

Now, on to race day...

The snapshot can be found here. (Warning: There's an auto-play video)

Pole position for today's race belongs to Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin who qualified at 99.674 mph and 99.548 mph respectively.


Posted by: Open Blogger at 08:20 AM | Comments (89)
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Improbably -- But Inevitably -- Bridgegate Figure Bridget Kelly Becomes New Democrat/Feminist Icon and Latest Martyred Soldier in the #WarOnWomen
— Ace

MSNBC and the Democrats are already pushing the line that Chris Christie had "Slut Shamed" this poor woman, when the report on Bridgegate mentioned she'd had an affair with Christie's former campaign manager, Bill Stepien.

A lot of "thrown under the bus" and #WarOnWomen battle-cries here.

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo touches all of the Progressive Caucus Erogenous Zones in such rapid succession he's likely to be accused of having Busy Hands.

Generally speaking when you throw someone under the bus and you want them to play along, you add as much padding to the process as possible. That doesn’t appear to be the Chris Chrisitie way. The main fallperson turns out to be former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly. And the “report” prepared by Christie’s lawyer not only places all the criminal liability on her (along with David Wildstein). It also goes out of its way to say that she is, to put it bluntly, emotionally unstable and loose.

The whole thing is vaguely reminiscent of David Brock’s notorious line that Anita Hill was “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.” (If that line is before your time, Brock long since recanted, repented and a bunch else.)

The "mainstream" media -- apart from MSNBC, I mean, which is a clownshow -- will likely follow suit, but right now, it's just MSNBC and MSNBC's Research Department, by which I mean leftwing blogs and Democratic strategic statements.

Usually the infection proceeds thus:

Infection phase: A leftwing blog or cooked-up Democratic attack line provides the initial vector of infection.

Incubation period: MSNBC begins spending six to eight hours each day covering the "shocking new allegations" for 4-8 days.

Re-infection & Outbreak Period: Shortly after, the entire "mainstream" media comes down with a bad case of Progressive Meme Transmission Syndrome.

We'll see if that pattern holds.

Posted by: Ace at 07:34 AM | Comments (193)
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Travel Thread:Family Vacations in Retrospect [CBD]
— Open Blogger

Y-not is otherwise engaged: apparently she is doing a free climb of Mt. Everest to harvest a rare orchid that grows only on the South slope of the mountain.

Mt. Rushmore.jpg

Remember all of those interminable trips you took with your family? The ones where you were unsure whether your dad's threat to "pull this damned car over and leave you all in the desert" was actually serious? more...

Posted by: Open Blogger at 12:30 PM | Comments (238)
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