June 28, 2011

Obama Holding ‘Unseemly But Perfectly Legal’ White House Fundraisers
— DrewM

Change!

Officials from good government groups Tuesday criticized President Obama for engaging in fundraising-related activities on the grounds of the White House, though they did so noting that the president is joining a long tradition of presidents who have done so.

On March 7, President Obama met with more than two dozen financial leaders and executives, in the Blue Room of the White House. The event was organized by the Democratic National Committee, and all but one of the individuals appear to be campaign contributors to the president.

More recently, the president taped a video in the residence of the White House, as part of a fundraising “raffle” for donors, offering a dinner with him as a prize.


...“It looks bad,” said Mary Boyle, vice president of communications for Common Cause. “It’s disappointing that a president who has gone further than most others in terms of putting up firewalls between the White House and special interests, would host in the White House a meeting with past or current donors.”

Boyle said the meeting “conveys that it’s business as usual, and whether he is or not, it appears he’s selling access. Given the way he campaigned and to some extent has governed, it makes us wonder why he didn’t hold this meeting somewhere else.”

Funny but I don't recall this being an issue during either Bush term. I'm not saying they didn't happen but I'm pretty sure the left would have made a really big stink about it.

Of course, Bush didn't run against the evil of money in politics, lie about taking campaign matching funds, game online credit card donation forms to accept illegal foreign contributions and have a fawning media claim his campaign was funded by small donors when it wasn't.

Speaking of Obama's "small donors"..that's a nice Hope and Change talking point. But big dollar bundlers? Hello!

Campaign officials are working to broaden Obama’s network of “bundlers,” the well-connected rainmakers tasked with soliciting big checks from wealthy donors, while seeking to preserve the aura of a grass-roots movement by luring back the kind of small Internet donations that helped shatter fundraising records four years ago.

...The push comes as Obama’s campaign has roared to life in recent weeks and strategists prepare for a summer of staff hirings and field office openings across key battleground states.

It is an unusually early move to establish the ground-level infrastructure that past campaigns typically put in place in the final months before an election.

A key player in the closed-door donor recruitment is White House Chief of Staff William M. Daley, a former banking executive who has huddled in recent weeks over breakfasts and dinners with business leaders and Wall Street financiers in Chicago, New York and Washington — seeking to ease tensions over new financial regulations and other administration policies.

Out: Hope and Change

In: The Chicago Way

Posted by: DrewM at 09:09 AM | Comments (69)
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Afternoon Open Thread
— DrewM

So, um, that last open thread is getting a little long in the tooth.

Posted by: DrewM at 08:32 AM | Comments (243)
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Top Headline Comments 6-28-11
— Gabriel Malor

The French Revolution is of Christian origin. The newspaper is of Christian origin. The anarchists are of Christian origin. Physical science is of Christian origin. The attack on Christianity is of Christian origin. There is one thing, and one thing only, in existence at the present day which can in any sense accurately be said to be of pagan origin, and that is Christianity.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:52 AM | Comments (551)
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June 27, 2011

The Depression of 1920. [ArthurK]
— Open Blogger

(Shamelessly Ripped from the Sidebar - Thank You Truman North)

We had two Depressions in the 20th Century.. Almost like a test - the Govt. dealt with each Depression in diametrically opposite ways. How'd that work out?

more...

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The Only-The-Good-Episodes Guide To Doctor Who
— Ace

Andy Levy and JohnnyE and other people were asking me about what the good episodes are.

So I guess I'll put together a guide for them -- which ones to watch, which to skip.

I haven't watched them all, but I've watched all the ones that were recommended to me, plus a bunch I just watched.

There are two types of episodes you have to watch for the show: the episodes that are really good, and the episodes that contain important mythology elements (character introductions, character send-offs, etc.) Sometimes these are even the same episodes.

I'm listing all the gotta-watch shows. Obviously, if you see one that interests you (like, you want to see the Doctor meet Shakespeare in The Shakespeare Code), obviously, watch that one.

So, if you want to give this show a try and be like TV's Andy Levy, try these episodes. All should be on Netflix right now. more...

Posted by: Ace at 08:48 PM | Comments (90)
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Overnight Open Thread
— Maetenloch

You Know The Warning - But Do you Know Who Miranda Was?

Well mainly a career criminal and pervy rapist:

[In 1963] an 18-year-old Phoenix woman reported to police that she was kidnapped, taken to the desert and raped. The woman was able to provide details about the car her kidnapper drove; those details took police to Ernesto Miranda. Though the woman couldn’t identify him in a lineup, police took him into custody and performed an interrogation anyway. The grilling resulted in a Miranda-signed confession.

Miranda later said he was forced into confessing because he was never made aware of his constitutional right to say nothing. His case wound up in front of the Supreme Court in 1966; they ruled that nothing Miranda “confessed” to could be used to try him because he was improperly educated on his rights. Almost immediately following the trial, the Miranda warning became a mandatory part of arrests.

ernestomiranda.jpg

Which is why pretty much anyone who's ever watched TV cop shows can recite the following:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”
This the most common form but it turns that what the Supreme Court gave was only a guideline and the actual Miranda Warning wording varies from department to department.

So what happened to Miranda? Well he was re-tried minus the confession in 1967 and convicted. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison but was released in 1972 after only five. [Gotta love that 1970's lenient justice] And after bouncing in and out of jail for minor offenses he was stabbed to death in 1974 during a bar fight in Phoenix. Ironically the main suspect in his stabbing was read his Miranda rights and used them effectively:

A suspect was arrested, but he chose to exercise his right to remain silent after being read his Miranda rights. The suspect was released and supposedly fled to Mexico. The Miranda murder case was closed without ever apprehending the murderer.
more...

Posted by: Maetenloch at 08:42 PM | Comments (517)
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Sick: Heartless Bastards Force Kitten To Fight Full-Grown Pit Bull
— Ace

Horrifying. They even add a Guns n Roses cover of "Live and Let Die" to add "drama" to the viciousness. more...

Posted by: Ace at 06:50 PM | Comments (65)
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Pentagon Working On Ultra-High-Speed Super-High-Altitude Reentry Vehicle That Can Build A Childcare Center Anywhere On Earth Within One Hour
— Ace

Ah, I'm just fuckin' with you. It blows shit up.

Another test of the HTV-2 prototype — a dart-like glider that would launch aboard rocket boosters, zoom through the upper atmosphere and careen into target at speeds exceeding Mach 5 — is slated for August. That is to be followed up by a more complex flight test in fiscal 2012, according to defense sources.

The purpose of such weapons is mostly defensive and/or preventative. You don't need such fast response time to destroy a city. A city can't exactly pack up and move in a five hours.

It's specifically for things like nuclear missiles being fueled.

Or, I suppose, a sighting of fleeting, high-value target. But that's nearly a defensive, or at least life-sparing, use itself -- it's a lot better for everyone to kill one guy and his entourage than grind up tens of thousands in his army.


Posted by: Ace at 06:11 PM | Comments (65)
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RNS Retracts Original Report on Delta & Saudi Arabia
— Ace

And I have previously headlined a post "Delta: Innocent?," but didn't make it clear: I think this story is false, too.

I should have my head examined for ever giving something credence that came originally from World Net Daily.

Posted by: Ace at 04:58 PM | Comments (56)
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College Democrats Unleash Powerful New Ad: We're Democrats, Because We're Upper-Middle-Class White Kids, But We Also Ran Into These Two Black People At A Macy Gray Concert
— Ace

Vid at bottom of post. If you want to imagine it without watching, picture a adapted-for-the-stage middle-school production of Melrose Place.

Mostly they just babble. They're Democrats because they're... I don't know. All I know is that if you're doing a video with a backdrop you need to stand a couple of feet ahead of it so you don't cast distracting shadows on it.

I haven't seen this much pale Gothic skin and amateurish lighting since ScyFy ran a 44 hour Dark Shadows marathon hosted by Barnabas Collins' entertainment lawyer.

Gotta give them props, these look like my kind of people. I'd love to sit down with them in a bar whose throwback-ironic jukebox contains an eclectic mix of Sinatra and Zep and even the Butthole Surfers, plunk down my buck for Dollar a Draft PBR, and talk about the latest issue of Dwell with any of these fine, upstanding, privately-educated kids.

I'm pretty sure I see three Art History majors here, five Communications & Media majors, three Poli Sci majors, and a couple of other majors that strongly indicate "Look, I'm gonna work for my dad when I graduate, he doesn't give a shit if I know accounting or not."

I'm sure they mean well. I'm also sure they attended a party commemorating Frasier's last episode.


Top Ten Things Almost As White As The College Democrats' New Ad

10. All dues-paying members of the William H. Macy Fan Club

9. Moby Dick's pale underbelly, and, fyi, Moby Dick just scored five choice front-row tickets to a VH-1's Storytellers With Kenny Loggins, and, sidenote, Moby Dick just got hired as a social media consultant by Keith Olbermann

8. Every single fucking college "rockapella" group in the known fucking universe (N.B.: Asians may sometimes be white for these purposes)

7. Chris Matthews's milky, fetid coinslot

6. The Hazzard County Police Department

5. That guy who just crossed the street because his Urban Marauder Danger Alert System lit up like a Christmas tree, and oh look, it's Bryant and Greg Gumble heading into Barney's for their annual one-day sale on spats

4. TIE: People who write Salon: also, people who read Salon

3. People at parties who say "Oh I just talked to that guy over there" and you say "Which guy?" and they say "Oh the guy in the blue shirt" and you say "There are at least five guys here wearing a blue shirt" and they say "The guy wearing casual slacks" and you say "That doesn't super-help me" and they say "Oh you know that guy, that guy over there, about average height and weight for his age" and you say "Look, spit it out, are you trying to tell me you just spoke to the black guy by the guacamole bread-bowl?" and they say "I'm not comfortable seeing him that way" and then you say "Yeah, apparently you're not"

2. People who know more than half the lyrics to We Didn't Start The Fire and/or Scenes from an Italian Restaurant

...and the Number One thing Almost as White as the new College Democrats ad...

1. You know Dr. Smith from Lost in Space? Yeah, the guy he just curb-stomped for being such an up-tight narrow-ass honky more...

Posted by: Ace at 02:12 PM | Comments (442)
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Obama's The One? How About Obama's the 0.8
— Ace

Recovery Bummer.

In a report entitled "Unchartered Depths," the Committee finds that "employment is now 5.0% below what it was at the start of the recession, 38 months ago. This compares to an average rise in employment of 3.7% over the same period in prior post-WWII recessions." [Emphasis added and do note he's not talking about the unemployment rate but total employment, that is, workforce as a fraction of total population -- ace]

On economic growth, real GDP has risen 0.8% over the 13 quarters since the recession began, compared to an average increase of 9.9% in past recoveries. From the beginning of the recession to April 2011, real personal income has grown just .9% compared to 9.4% for the same period in previous post 1960 recessions. [I do not know the exact definition of "real GDP" he means but I would guess it's the standard figure, less inflationary growth and probably less population growth, too. In any event, you can see the wide disparity between Obama's real GDP growth figure and the average real GDP growth in actual recoveries -- ace.]

The standard response from Obama apologists is that recession of 2008 and 2009 was different because, as former Clinton administration economist Robert Shapiro puts it, "this was a financial crisis, and these take longer to recover from." In fact, in most cases, the deeper the recession, the stronger the recovery to make up for lost ground.

That was what Ronald Reagan's critics said when the U.S. economy soared during 1983 and 1984 with quarterly growth numbers exceeding 7%. At the time, liberal Keynesians yawned and declared the good times nothing more than a normal snapback from the deep recession.

On the plus side, Obama reads the shit out of a TelePrompTer at 8.8% increase over most presidents in a post-recession economy.

Dean Vernon Wormer Comments:

Zero point eight. It's more than a little below par, Mr. Obama. IT STINKS! It's the lowest on campus. It's the lowest in Faber history!

Boy, I am not feeling well, to keep missing these references that are just there for the plucking.

I Was Told There Would Be No Math In This Presidency: Crossroads PAC, a Karl Rove joint, starts a big-money tv ad campaign on... the economy, stupid.

Posted by: Ace at 12:55 PM | Comments (252)
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O. M. G.: Amnesty International, Other "Human Rights Groups" Say Gilad Shalit Should Remain Illegally In Terrorist Jail
— Ace

If you need a refresher, Hamas conducted a raid (probably illegal, as terrorists never wear uniforms) and snuck across the border, attacked an Israeli outpost, and kidnapped Gilad Shalit.

Wikipedia uses the word "capture." Um, yeah. Like Bruno Hauptman "captured" the Lindbergh Baby.

He has been held illegally for five years.

Those who "captured" him are making threats and demands, like legal armies always do.

Shalit's captors issued another demand to the Israelis, demanding that Israel release an additional 1,000 Palestinian prisoners (in addition to all female and young prisoners, as previously demanded) and end Israel's incursions into Gaza.[38] Two days later, the captors issued a 24-hour ultimatum for meeting their demands, threatening unspecified consequences if Israel refused.[39] Hours after the ultimatum was issued, Israel officially rejected the demands, stating that: "there will be no negotiations to release prisoners"

So, of course Amnesty International must protest this and demand his release, right?

Wrong.


If a better example of the utter moral collapse of the human rights community exists, it would be hard to find. The statement is one of passionless brevity — just a few sentences long — and expresses no opinion on the standing of Hamas, or on its 2006 raid into Israel, or on the legitimacy of its goals and methods. Remarkably, it doesn’t even demand the release of Gilad Shalit. The most that this allegedly courageous and principled human rights community could bring itself to say to the terrorists of Hamas is that they should improve the conditions of Shalit’s imprisonment.

I have noted this before -- numerous times before -- but when I was young and less wise, I read the James Bond books and thought parts of them were pretty silly.

Oh I don't mean the superhero stuff; obviously that's silly (though Bond is not a superhero in the books). But you expect that silliness; that's the whole point.

The parts I objected to as too silly were the background/setting bits that just struck me as implausible.

S.P.E.C.T.R.E., for example, disguised itself as an... international relief agency which provided charitable assistance and legal aid to "stateless persons" and political refugees.

How absurd, I thought, that a major criminal enterprise could hide in plain sight, and not only hide in plain sight, but receive contributions from well-intentioned dupes from around the world! How ridiculous that agents of international terrorism (that's what the "T" stands for in SPECTRE) could pose as bleeding-hearts agents of compassionate relief! That a major international charitable institution could be captured wholly by terrorists, thugs, and criminals!

Yes. How supremely ridiculous. What a hack that Ian Fleming was.

An American Continues Being Held By Terrorists: Sgt Bowe Bergdahl has been held by an Al Qaeda linked network for two years now.

While it's unclear where the 25-year-old soldier is being held, a video released on the Internet last month shows him standing next to a senior official in the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network in Paktika province in Afghanistan.

I had forgotten this, and feel shame that I did. Thanks to GnuBreed for reminding me.

Amnesty International

If donating directly to Al Qaeda and Hamas feels too risky and too dirty to you, try us! We have Bono.

Posted by: Ace at 11:35 AM | Comments (168)
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Dinner For Schmucks? Obama's Got A Pretty Damn Awesome Way To Turn This Economy Around: Raffles
— Ace

Win YOUR CHANCE to have dinner with Obama, just by donating!!!

No purchase necessary! No, it really says that. You have to say that when you have a contest, because of some federal law that says there must be some alternate method of entry besides a purchase.

But it's always easier if you purchase. If you donate $5 or more, you're automatically entered in the most awesome sweepstakes of all time!

But there's still more! No, there really is, I'm not making this up.

Now -- Joe Biden will attend the dinner as well!!!

Now how much would you pay?!

You Know... Since no purchase is necessary, every righty in the world could sign up for this and have a shot at an... interesting (and uncomfortable) dinner.

Posted by: Ace at 10:56 AM | Comments (203)
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Jury: Blagojevich Guilty on 17 Out of 18 Counts of Corruption
— Ace

A jury decision is a valuable f'n' thing.

Blogojevich showed no reaction as the jury found him guilty on 17 of 20 counts against him. He then sat back in his chair with his lips pursed and looked toward his wife Patti and whispered, "I love you."

Ah. No verdict reached on two other counts. Ergo: 17 guilty, 1 innocent, 2 no verdict and theoretically result in a mistrial on those charges only and theoretically he can be retried on those but I imagine 17 is enough for the prosecutors.

Alas, he never did call all those Obama agents he threatened to call.

Posted by: Ace at 10:21 AM | Comments (161)
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Obama: I've Spent The Last Two And A Half Years Doing It Completely Wrong
— Ace

Well, that's just terrific.

Good to know this now.

Wait, we already knew this for a long, long time. I guess Obama was the last to know.

In the first two years of Obama’s presidency, his top aides had grown accustomed to a process in which Obama drew out and explored the views of his full team and searched for a consensus — decision by ballot, some called it.

Increasingly, however, that process has changed, according to a wide group of Obama’s personal friends, informal advisors and top aides interviewed during the spring. In recent months, they say, the president has been relying more heavily on his own instincts and feeling less impelled to seek accord among advisors. …

“I think he reached a point where he had to trust his instincts, and there was nothing left to inform his decision except to do that,” said one advisor who is intimately familiar with the president’s thinking on foreign policy matters and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Ed digests a little more:

The catalyst for this was supposedly the Osama bin Laden raid. However, according to all reports at the time, that was a consensus decision.

So what is this?

Well, it's two things. First, it's a recognition by Obama that the Obama Reign is, what's that phrase?, a miserable failure. Having finally recognized the fact of failure, he now casts about for a reason for it. And, as people do, such as during job interviews when asked to name their worst flaw, Obama discovers, shockingly, that his worst flaw is actually something that's not very bad at all.

See, he was a little too concerned with consensus, a little too focused on other people's beliefs, a little too determined to come to decisions through a rational process by consultation with High Experts.

Another way to say this is: Obama's greatest flaw for the last two and a half years is that he was too modest. He was too modest for not realizing that his own instincts and his own intellect were of such a remarkable caliber that any adulteration of these finely-honed mechanisms of truth-discovery by intermixing with the instincts and intellects of others would yield worse results than strict reliance on the power of his own faculties would achieve.

I don't know how you guys see it, but this is exactly what I've been thinking for 28 dismal months. Over and over again I've wondered, "Gee, why doesn't this Prometheus of the Mind just trust himself more?"

I'm guessing you have too, and I'm guessing further that you will credit Obama for nailing it so exquisitely in his mid-term post-mortem.

Here's the second thing. The Act Two moment of truth.

Obama's campaign was essentially a Hollywood production. It had a simple narrative, a Hero for whom we were supposed to root despite not having any strong reason to do so, except he sort of looked like a Leading Man and his opponent sort of looked like a Character Actor playing the Villain, and terrific set design and punchy visuals and a script which, if a little shallow, nevertheless achieved the only things that are truly crucial in a script, emotional investment and narrative (dramatic) momentum.

Hell, they even had an MTV-ready tie-in single and plenty of surprise cameos and an international promotional campaign to make sure they got plenty of overseas Box Office.
more...

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Afternoon Open Thread [Truman North]
— Open Blogger

H.L. Mencken quipped that the New Deal divided America into "those who work for a living and those who vote for a living."

The TSA has divided America into "those who grope for a living and those who are groped for living."

Especially germane: Ace's classic, "The New Feudalism".

Posted by: Open Blogger at 08:48 AM | Comments (183)
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Washington Post Editorial: You Know Who Is To Blame For "Operation Fast And Furious"? The NRA And Gun Rights Nuts, That's Who
— DrewM

The whole editorial reads like a Bill Maher joke...obnoxious, badly misses the point and of course, is not funny (at least not intentionally).

THE GUN RIGHTS lobby has spent considerable time and energy in pursuit of one goal: crippling the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). It has largely succeeded — and with dire consequences.

Concerned to the point of paranoia about the erosion of the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the National Rifle Association and far too many lawmakers have fought against virtually every proposal to empower the bureau to better track and crack down on illegal firearms. They have won reductions in the ATF’s already meager budget. They have restricted the bureau’s ability to share information with other law enforcement agencies. They have kept the bureau rudderless for the past six years by blocking confirmation of new directors. And they continue to fight new rules that would allow the bureau to track bulk sales of long guns that have played a major role in the drug-fueled violence in Mexico.

Now, the very critics who have tied the bureau’s hands are expressing outrage over a novel, and we would agree questionable, ATF operation intended to curb gun smuggling into Mexico.

It's funny how the answer to every problem is always more and strong government. Assume for a moment the premiss of the editorial is correct, gun rights advocates (isn't interesting there are people who advocate against a recognized constitutional right?) have weakened the ATF to this point, how does it follow that that's the cause of this idiotically run operation? More importantly, if they acted so incompetently and with such disregard for existing rules (one agent charged, "It's like they grabbed the ATF rulebook and threw it out the window."), why in the world would you give this gang more power?

We gave the government more power after 9/11 to conduct airline screenings. Do you feel safer now that unionized government workers are in charge? Clearly expanding government power has led to such improvements as...forcing elderly women to remove their adult diapers prior to boarding a flight.

Jean Weber of Destin filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security after her 95-year-old mother was detained and extensively searched last Saturday while trying to board a plane to fly to Michigan to be with family members during the final stages of her battle with leukemia.

Her mother, who was in a wheelchair, was asked to remove an adult diaper in order to complete a pat-down search.

“It’s something I couldn’t imagine happening on American soil,” Weber said Friday. “Here is my mother, 95 years old, 105 pounds, barely able to stand, and then this.”

Yeah, what could go wrong if we gave the ATF and every federal security bureaucracy even more power? Only a big government liberal would think that, or a Bill Maher joke, is a recipe for success.

Posted by: DrewM at 04:38 AM | Comments (303)
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Straw Poll: Who do you want in 2012?
— Gabriel Malor

It's time again for one of our state-of-the-blog straw polls. Last month's poll, like all straw polls we've had except for the one I stupidly listed Ron Paul, had Sarah Palin as the Moron Choice by a landslide with Herman Cain a strong second. Despite my firm conviction that she isn't going to run, I've included Palin again. Fair warning, Palinistas, if she doesn't make her move soon, I'm going to take her off the list.

I've also added Rick Perry this month. Coincidentally, the poll is now skull-flavored:


Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 02:19 AM | Comments (380)
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Top Headline Comments 6-27-11
— Gabriel Malor

Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed.

Posted by: Gabriel Malor at 01:54 AM | Comments (90)
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June 26, 2011

CAC's Paranormal Adventure
— rdbrewer

The Ustream window is below the fold. If everything goes as planned, at midnight EDT, CAC will be running equipment and acting as the resident skeptic on a genuine ghost hunt.

He says he'll be the one in plaid shorts. more...

Posted by: rdbrewer at 06:45 PM | Comments (92)
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