Kremlinology for dummies.

Sorry, late start today. I spent my blogging time writing a column for my other site. It was on a plan to designate bike routes in Grosse Pointe — not paths, mind you, only a few signs and stripes on existing roads — that seems to have stalled. Nothing happens quickly here, but this is approaching ridiculousness. When Fort Wayne outpaces you, you are one foot-draggin’ place, cuz.

Amount of impact I believe this column will have: Zero.

That’s always been my impact as a columnist. It doesn’t bother me, and never has. One of the hazards of being a paid commentator, on anything, is that it doesn’t take much feedback to swell a person’s head, and once that happens, everything you write sounds like it’s being delivered in the Roman senate by some guy in a toga. Remember when Charles Krauthammer laid out a strategy whereby the Bush administration could walk back the Harriet Miers SCOTUS nomination, and three days later, they followed it pretty much like a road map? Remember how his prose continued to be lively, and he didn’t take himself too seriously?

Look, here’s a picture of him with the closest thing to a smile that ever crosses his face. You want to know how old I am? I remember when Charles Krauthammer occasionally filed a lighter piece about raising his son.

On the other hand, you could argue that failing to take myself seriously is what doomed my career. I remember once, sitting in my little semi-private cubicle at work, overhearing a copy editor making a service appointment in the next one over. She was working very hard to impress the person on the other end about how valuable her time was. That’s a phrase that has never crossed my lips — “my time is valuable, too.” (I will say, “life’s too short for this bullshit” from time to time, however.)

On the career front, since many of you expressed concern yesterday: Thanks for it. I batted out a quick 600 words on the Critical Mass ride yesterday and sold it to a local magazine. I also contacted a person who has used me in the past, having heard that she recently lost an assistant just as she’s embarking on a project that will require many fresh new words, and that’s looking good. And I heard from a few more folks privately. I’ll get through this, although I doubt my time will be all that much more valuable.

So let’s make a quick pass through the bloggage. We have some good stuff:

The Situation Room photo, analyzed like the May Day photograph. Thanks, Jolene.

Amazing: Buried in all that Wikileak information, this.

The silver horse’s ass is running for governor of Indiana. I’m sure he will bring his best radio voice to the job. Meanwhile, Gail Collins considers the current occupant of that office:

But about Mitch Daniels. The political world has been abuzz with speculation that he will run for president. Centrist Republicans loved it when he began urging the party to keep its eye on the deficit-reduction prize and stop obsessing about social issues. “Try to concentrate on making ends meet, which Washington obviously has failed to do for a long time, and have other policy debates in other places if you can,” he advised.

He then went home and announced that he would sign a bill to strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid financing.

Good doggie!

OK, time to get out of here. Have a good half-day, all.

Posted at 11:26 am in Current events, Same ol' same ol' |

45 responses to “Kremlinology for dummies.”

  1. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 5, 2011 at 11:29 am

    This might (or might not) be of general interest, but a bit of Civil War trivia about Cinco de Mayo that will at least intrigue Brian, plus talks about a subject I’ve been part of a symposium on for the last five days, interpretation & accuracy with historic & archaeological sites:

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  2. Deborah said on May 5, 2011 at 11:52 am

    The Pakistani guy who inadvertently tweeted the Bin Laden raid in Abbottabad has a FAQ site up. It’s pretty funny

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  3. alice said on May 5, 2011 at 11:53 am

    My favorite situation room picture. (Sorry if someone beat me to it)!5798816/insane-hatter-who-unleashed-evil-headpiece-upon-royal-wedding-speaks

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  4. alex said on May 5, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Wow, so Cinco de Mayo is about something other than drink specials at chain restaurants? Who knew? Is there a similar story behind St. Patty’s Day?

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  5. nancy said on May 5, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Alice, I saw one yesterday with the little bridesmaid with her hands over her ears ‘shopped in.

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  6. MichaelG said on May 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    St. Padddy’s day, Alex. St Paddy’s. He’s a boy. Paddy is a diminutive of Patrick. Sorry for being strident.

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  7. Judybusy said on May 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Alice, that was great, as were the others they linked to in the article!

    Nancy, I hope the writing gigs continue to come in.

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  8. alex said on May 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Sorry for the slip, MichaelG. It’s tough being congenitally gender-confused.

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  9. Suzanne said on May 5, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Wow. Mike Pence as Gov., Mighty Mitch as President. I’m pretty much speechless.

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  10. Suzanne said on May 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    And Marie Osmond re-married her first husband. I do think the end is near.

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  11. prospero said on May 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    Oh, Miss Crabtree.

    I thought Marie Osmond’s first husband was Donnie.

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  12. alex said on May 5, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    They say it’s coming May 21. Just saw a dee-lux-ish motor coach festooned with signs saying so.

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  13. coozledad said on May 5, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Bush’s spokespeople say Obama’s just taking “A victory lap” at the World Trade Center site.
    As I recall, flight-suit boy even took a victory lap when the towers fell. In fact his whole administration essentially consisted of victory laps for no discernible reason.
    Sure, he’s silent these days. He just lets his team handle all the petulant butt-hurt.

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  14. Jeff Borden said on May 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm


    That was my reaction, too. The whole ridiculous kabuki theater of W. flying onto the aircraft carrier in an official flight suit and everything was such a cheap stunt. . .and it came at the expense of the crew members who were prevented from reaching San Diego after a lengthy time at sea for this glorified photo op. I still recall the fury my usually mild-mannered father expressed that Bush would prevent those men and women from hitting port just so he could strut and preen on the flight deck.

    Bush may be physically tall, but he’s really quite a small man. I’ve given him a lot of credit for keeping his mouth shut about national and international affairs –unlike Dick Cheney– but this kind of whining is hardly laudable for a guy who sought to convince the American public he was a cowboy at heart.

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  15. Julie Robinson said on May 5, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    Maybe I’m just shallow, but did anyone else look at the Situation Room photo and wonder how Rob Lowe meandered back into the West Wing?

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  16. John G. Wallace said on May 5, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    Looks like my speculation a few days ago and Michael G (36) yesterday about the reasons to destroy the helicopter was correct, but neither of us was even close to this special bird. MSNBC reported it was a long speculated “stealth” helicopter – although the term I’d use would be low observable technology. Aviation Week reported it was a highly modified Blackhawk H-60 with a very low noise signature – modified tail rotor, ducted exhaust, with a cold air ejection system, to reduce thhe IR signature. Also speculated that the aircraft was painted with a silver-loaded coating to further reduce IR signature, and a coated windshield to reduce radar signature. The modifications could have added several hundred pounds to the weight – which coupled with the air density and hot temperatures added to the rough landing.
    The backup plan called for two chinook helicopters to be waiting outside Pakistani airspace – they have two main rotors and are one of the loudest aircraft I have ever heard. I used to see them from time to time in the Kittatiny Mountains of NJ – never really figurered where they came from or what they are going – but Radar O’Rielly would not be the only one to hear “choppers.”
    Most likely that was the helicopters the blogger (more a tweeter) would have heard. Laden Raid May Have Exposed Stealth Helicopter

    As for Mike Pence – I can’t stand his politics but he was one of the most personable and approachable pols I have ever interviewed. We chatted about my former congressman Scott Garrett – (a true prick imho) and he definitly represented the morals espoused in his district. I’d have to rate him up there with former NJ Governor Tom Kean. Kean’s gift was he would remember people’s names and if he ran into you a year or more later he’d greet you by name, recall where he saw you last, and then ask about your town, and seemed to know local and county issues better than local government types did.

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  17. LAMary said on May 5, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    John, was the Picatiny Arsenal functioning when you saw those helicopters? That might have something to do with it.

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  18. prospero said on May 5, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Wrongway Peachfuzz. Right down the beach. I don’t know much about yachts, but this looks big enough to qualify, and the keel for a boat this size has to be seriousy buried in the beach.

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  19. prospero said on May 5, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Oh, and that Krauthummer photo–not a smile, just gas.

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  20. 4dbirds said on May 5, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Yep the end is near. I drove to Miami and back last week and the billboards are all over I95. May 21st and the bible guarantees it.

    You can RSVP to the “After Rapture” party on facebook.

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  21. Dorothy said on May 5, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    Speaking of Florida, how is your sister doing, Julie? The one who had the fire at her home?

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  22. MichaelG said on May 5, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    John G., the MH-60 I described is what I saw when I visited the 160th SOAR at Ft Campbell about 10 years ago. Sounds like what they are using now is an updated version with all that stealth stuff added. The 160th also uses CH-47 Chinooks and MH-6 “Little Birds”. The latter two are updated Vietnam era choppers. I rode on ‘hooks when I was in the Army. The MH-6 is a development of the old Hughes 500 which we called loachs. I think it was for light observation helicopter or something.

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  23. coozledad said on May 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Apparently the guy who liveblogged the operation heard one of the Chinooks that was called in after the Blackhawk made a hard landing.
    Obama made a good coaching call:
    About 10 days before the raid, Obama was briefed on the plan. It included keeping two backup helicopters just outside Pakistani airspace in case something went wrong. But Obama felt that was risky. If the SEALs needed help, they couldn’t afford to wait for backup.

    He said the operation needed a plan in case the SEALs had to fight their way out. So two Chinooks were sent into Pakistani airspace, loaded with backup teams, just in case. One of those Chinooks landed in the compound after the Black Hawk became inoperable.

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  24. Halloween Jack said on May 5, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Hilary Clinton with her hand over her mouth is “operatic emotion”? Has Jason Horowitz ever seen an opera? I must be acting out Rigoletto every time I yawn.

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  25. Dexter said on May 5, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I am frequently writing on blogs about far-away bicycling paradises like Berkeley/San Francisco , Seattle, Portland, Davis CA and Chicago, but many communities have jumped aboard the Rails to Trails program and if one is fortunate s/he can drive a little and ride a lot at many starting points all over the country.

    I enjoy many paved bikeways here in my little home town an hour west of Toledo. I would hate living in a suburb with the main roadways being narrow and leading to expressways.

    I think about how nice it would be to drive all over the country and experience all the trails I could manage, but gasoline has done me in. Oil price falls, gas price escalates. $4.29 here, and yes I drive a little van that gets 22 mpg at best. Still, I actually do get to escape and go to Columbus in a couple days and I will ride the bike trail that goes west out of Hilliard towards Grove City. Looking forward to it…and, along with Mothers Day, we will be happy to know the gender of my first grandchild from my natural-born daughter (as compared to my two step-daughters).
    They are in the office right now getting the determining ultrasound . Pins and needles for old grandpa as I am patiently (!!!) awaiting my phone to sound off….(still waiting)
    Phone…”pretty confident” was the terminology used; girl baby , due around September 13. Alright.

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  26. ROgirl said on May 5, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    According to Hillary, she was stifling a cough.

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  27. Jolene said on May 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Krauthammer has become unbearable. Years ago, I read his essays in the back of Time, and, although I rarely agreed with him, I always admired the clarity of his thinking and the precision of his prose. And, as Nancy mentions, he would occasionally write about something non-political. I seem to remember an essay about the death of his dog, a Lab I think, and definitely remember a strong piece about his concern that Christopher Reeve’s public claims that he would find a way to walk again was dangerously instilling false hope when what people with spinal cord injuries needed was support and encouragement to live as fully as possible with their new circumstances.

    Now, though, it seems like most of what he has to say is a combination of hardline conservatism, snark, and meanness. He appears on a panel show called Inside Washington on the local PBS and ABC channels; whenever I see it, I wonder how the other panelists can put up with him, as he is consistently supercilious and patronizing.

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  28. Dorothy said on May 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Nancy I noticed the new book on your nightstand. I bought that book on a friend’s recommendation but haven’t started it yet. How do you like it so far? Yesterday I started “Boom!” – Tom Brokaw’s book from about 4 years ago. I got it for Christmas in 2009 I think.

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  29. Julie Robinson said on May 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Congratulations, Dexter. Much joy to you and your family.

    Dorothy, my sister is better but the smoke smell is still trickling down from the attic in any little crack I wasn’t able to fill. It’s insidious. She bought an air cleaning machine; here’s hoping it works. Thanks for asking.

    Boom was enjoyable but maybe not up to Greatest Generation standards.

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  30. Lex said on May 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    Memo to Republicans (of which I am one): You cannot call yourself serious about reducing the deficit and then nominate George W. Bush’s budget-busting budget director as president. It’s called cognitive dissonance, it causes rifts in the space-time continuum and it makes my brain hurt. Its only redeeming feature is that it helps keep Natty Greene’s in business.

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  31. Judybusy said on May 5, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Dorothy, I noted the book the other day. I really enjoyed it–good history and characterizations.

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  32. Jeff Borden said on May 5, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    Mitch Daniels is doing what he must to remain a member of good standing in the GOP He-Man Women Haters Club. So, naturally, he walked away from his bullshit about paying more attention to the nation’s economy and less to its culture wars.

    I wish the Republicans were as obsessed with creating jobs as they are with telling women what to do with their own bodies. Unemployment would be at historically low levels. And how the hell do “small government” conservatives square their desire to intrude into this most painful and intimate decision with their philosophy of keeping the government out of our lives?

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  33. 4dbirds said on May 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Congrats Dex. Girls rule. 🙂

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  34. Jolene said on May 5, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    Meanwhile, on the Sometimes Reason Prevails front:

    1. Support for the “he wasn’t born here” premise has dropped.

    2. Support for Trump has dropped, and his invitation to drive the pace car at the Indy 500 has been revoked.

    Hope springs eternal and all that.

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  35. Dexter said on May 5, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    4dbirds: As the Cajuns say, “Now ain’t dat de truth!”

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  36. moe99 said on May 5, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Yesterday, coming home from work I missed my bus stop by about a mile because I was enjoying Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand so much! Thanks for the recommend, Nancy.

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  37. nancy said on May 5, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Thank my new book club, the reason I read both Major Pettigrew and Guernsey. Still rushing to finish the latter before tomorrow’s meeting.

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  38. brian stouder said on May 5, 2011 at 6:40 pm

    I wouldn’t like reading on deadline!

    The Cinco de Mayo article was good stuff – definitely not cheesey. Indeed, President Lincoln and his administration paid a great deal of attention to the southwest, and for good reason, right up ’til the French lost out in Mexico.

    non-sequitur #1: on the drive home from work this evening, the doofus on the radio had an interview with our Bobby Knight look-alike Mike square-Pence – and then subsequently lamented Gov Daniel’s wish-washy stance on culture-war issues (because of his faux wish for a “truce”), and specifically because of the single most important issue the doofus on the radio can think up: abortion!


    Ever. Ever. Does he ever actually take in NEW information?

    But to hell with it.

    non-sequitur #2 – speaking of radio doofus people, I heard a national yapper this afternoon attacking the stupid Obama administration for changing the Sammy bin Laden story every whip-stitch; he concluded by saying that this is what comes from putting a boy into a grownup’s job.

    Even leaving aside the not-subtle racist echos therein, I wondered if it ever, ever, ever occurred to him that it serves the national interest if our actual enemies KNOW that we killed bin Laden (on the one hand); and that these people canNOT know, with any certainty, precisely how it was done.

    Maybe a bit of misdirection, in addition to the most basic fact of bin Laden’s demise is a GOOD thing, eh?

    See, this is how grownups deal with seriously dangerous people across the wide world, I think.

    But of course, what the hell do I know, eh?

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  39. Jeff Borden said on May 5, 2011 at 7:10 pm


    As has been said many time, wrestling with idiots like the radio loudmouth is like wrestling a greased pig. You’ll get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.

    If the right were really serious about abortion, it would argue for the best possible contraceptive systems ever created. But many, if not most, of the same people who label abortion America’s great sin are the same folks who don’t want sex education or contraceptives made available to those most likely to get pregnant. Or, if the right were truly serious, it would commit to creating the kind of social infrastructure that would allow a single mom to properly care for her infant after birth. This would mean a substantial increase in social services, but hey, that’s really welfare!!

    Over the years I’ve come to agree with those who posit the theory that this is not about abortion as much as it is a repulsion toward consensual, pleasurable sex for no reason other than to feel great. It always has to be about creating a child. And, of course, abortion is a great fundraiser for both left and right.

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  40. John G. Wallace said on May 5, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Not only was Picatiny Arsenal functioning but it was in our coverage area for the NJ Herald and there was this wacky love-hate thing going on. Their civillian spokesperson was a tool, single guy, mid-50’s new corvette. I knew him from a flight school I hung out around at on the Sussex Airport. It seemed like he liked me, but perhaps it was because he hated the Star-Ledger and daily Record folks more.
    They built this huge tower in 2002, the highest object in Sussex County (parts of the base reach into sussex). We were continually promised a photo op from the top, but finally it came down to if we asked again we could forget about being able to come on the base for any event. That may have bothered me as a tech geek and military buff, but you can imagine it didn’t carry much weight with other journalists. We heard persistent rumors of odd ativity there, and a laser target designator able of reaching Newark, LaGuardia, and JFK. Not a weapon mind you, but a system coupled with some kind of weapon closer to the airports.
    The tech days there were very cool, guns with casing-less rounds able to shoot around corners, or fire over obstacles. Saw a vehicle defense thing that was like a net that shot from a large hand held unit.
    Getting onto the base was always a hassle. Even though we had to park near the main entrance they would search every car. A reporter for the Star-Ledger was banned and escorted off by Sheriff’s officers for having needles in his car -he was an insulin dependent diabetic with proof.
    They would bus us around to wherever we were going and held all cameras, even our notepads. Of course I supplied the smart ass tour guide remarks, like the “classified day care center,” the “basketball testing facility”. We were there when a national guard unit deployed to Iraq. I still remember the kid I interviewed, “we’ll go there, shoot a few rounds off, it will be over, we’ll be home in a month or so.” We were held in a room until the actual event, and we could see the soldiers and their families sharing time and saying goodbyes in the courtyard, right outside our windows.
    Apparently my photographer and Aristide Economopoulos from the Star-Ledger decided that I should distract the spokesman with small talk about his car and his flying lessons. I agreed, put my large mass (or ass) into the doorway and learned way more than I cared to about his Vette. The shooters opened the window, and went to work, got great pics of the farewells, and even catered to my one wish – I wanted the guy leaning down to kiss his wife or girlfriend who was sitting on a pallet of MRE’s.
    We were all no longer welcome when the next day’s papers came out, and honestly, it never occured to the spokesman that I was just playing the fool, and he was the real fool.

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  41. Connie said on May 5, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    According to the Indy Star earlier today Trump has chosen to step out of the Pace Car thing. It was not revoked. He cited the time commitment for practice and his burgeoning political involvement, thus driving the Pace car perhaps not appropriate.

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  42. prospero said on May 5, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Why arw you kidding? No kidding but I aam some jackaww, Whatever and you you ar3 240nng, We are suppposed to think its some some moron shit, Bag every dumbass shit like we’rw like we’re supposed to considwr. We know you are assholes.
    Ar we kidding? You are an asshole. There is no way to consider. How I consider my keedo. I do care the way, my whatever, We love you. As we said
    Don’t be ridiculous. I care more than you can imagine. Way to consider, I love anyway you consider, It doesn’t make dick. You are the way I believe. One way or another, ”that’s the way I feel. There is no other way of looking at this. No shit, I know what I’m talking about..

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  43. Dorothy said on May 5, 2011 at 10:18 pm

    I flew through Major Pettigrew so fast I might have to re-read it to enjoy it at a slower pace. I lent it to a co-worker who is also now under it’s spell.

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  44. Crazycatlady said on May 5, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    It’s natural for Krauthammer not to smile. He’s a hard ass. AND he was paralyzed from the shoulders down in a swimming accident as a young college student. He completed his MD studies and became a physician. Went back to school to study political science I think. So, it IS gas.

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  45. prospero said on May 6, 2011 at 6:11 am

    Let’s see a situation room photo when W did’;t pull the trigger at Tora Bora, what a weenie, you ahole necdons that tried to talk Clinton into this idiot misadventure in 1998. Clinton wasn’t that stupid as far as as funneling cash to HALLLIBURTON, and it didn’t pay for itself in oil. Lying liars, No shit, This is Republicans at theor lying vest.. If anybody is so stupid they do’nt see how Cheney made obscene cash out of the invasion, well, you are an idiot. And Krauthammer, try Aquabuddha you sorry asshole,

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