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Stupid and Ignorant

Posted by Ogged
on 12.20.03
Totally dispiriting confirmation of what I argued a while back: that there is no national support for gay marriage. In fact, our fellow citizens treat us to insights such as this.
"I think any kind of amendment that says `You shall not' will help," Mr. Waters said. "I just don't think it's right for two men to go parading around in public or for two women to be doing the things they do. It's against God's law. That's right in the Bible that it's wrong."
Theresa Eaton, 49, a financial analyst in Corona, Calif., and also a Republican, agreed.
"I still believe that marriage should be between a man and woman," she said. "If I knew that we had a neighbor who was gay, I would not let my nieces and nephews go close by there. I don't want to accept their lifestyle. It can be acquired and it is not right."
This is pure bigotry. For all that I flog the idea that there's far more backwardness than we sometimes realize, I have to admit, this week the idea that there are people who don't know someone gay seemed stunning to me. Some quick googling didn't turn up anything, but I wonder just what percentage of Americans don't know any gays. If homosexuality is contagious, as Ms. Eaton believes, it should be a very low number indeed.

 

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Same Diff

Posted by Ogged
on 12.20.03

TNR's Jonathan Chait is far more consistent than he realizes, and idealistic too. Chait, who wrote the buzz-producing "Case For Bush Hatred" earlier this year, has started a blog dedicated to, naturally, his dislike for Howard Dean.

I realize that there is a certain irony here. Earlier this year I wrote a piece for TNR that defended hatred of President Bush ... But recently I'm finding that Dean hatred is crowding out Bush hatred in my mental space.

Part of Chait's reaction is substantive, but he has a more visceral reaction that mystifies him, and which he tries to explain with this sentence.

I find him arrogant and frequently dishonest.

Fair enough, from what I've read of Dean, but also fairly said of any number of politicians. And quite similar to what bothers Chait about Bush.

I hate the inequitable way he has come to his economic and political achievements and his utter lack of humility (disguised behind transparently false modesty) at having done so.

There's more about Bush, of course, but he's been getting on Chait's nerves longer; give it time. So what's distinctive about Bush and Dean that so grates on Chait? I don't think he answers that question, but Slate's Will Saletan, in an article that should get a lot more attention, did.

Let's recap. A guy who has no foreign policy experience, opposed the war in Iraq, and went skiing after he escaped the Vietnam draft because of a bad back is calling a wartime president soft on defense. And despite cries of outrage from Republican pundits, luminaries, and party organs, he isn't letting up.

...

Where did Dean and his lieutenants get this kind of gall? Maybe from the guy they're attacking.

Right. This is what drives liberals nuts about George Bush. He says outrageous and false things and just keeps repeating them, even in the face of criticism. So does Howard Dean. A few days ago, Dean said America wasn't made safer by Saddam's capture. After a couple of days of blistering attacks on him for that remark...he said it again. Saletan explains the style.

It's been said before that Dean and Bush share an aristocratic Yankee heritage. To the unwary, this means they're soft. Democrats learned the hard way that when it comes to politics, if not war, Bush has no shame and takes no prisoners. Now Republicans will learn the same about Dean.

Almost all politicians moderate their remarks in the face of criticism. Dean and Bush (mostly) don't. This makes them appealing to their partisans, because they seem tough and--oddly--principled. It's a given that those who disagree with them will be infuriated, but I suspect that what bothers a fair-minded fellow like Chait is that this style of politics is suited to courting the mob, not reaffirming the principles of deliberative democracy. It's the great paradox of this campaign that the man with the most aloof personality who has shown the least consistency in his public statements is seen by so many as the emotional and principled candidate. This is a good reason to be wary of Dean, but, frankly, it's also what gives him a chance to win.


 

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Restoration

Posted by Ogged
on 12.20.03

Another damn server crash. You can see that the backup they used was a bit outdated, so I'll be restoring the latest entries and comments. Apologies.

UPDATE: Some entries are restored (I don't have Bob's password here at home, so his entries are missing). On to the comments.


 

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Vote? Do I Ever?

Posted by Ogged
on 12.19.03
Sometimes you just wonder if it's for real.
Voter advocate Bev Harris alleged Tuesday that managers of a subsidiary of Diebold, one of the country's largest voting equipment vendors, included a cocaine trafficker, a man who conducted fraudulent stock transactions and a programmer jailed for falsifying computer records.

You gotta love that last one.


 

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Ink

Posted by Ogged
on 12.19.03
Someday they'll understand that if you're going to sneak around on the Internet, you've got to do a much better job than this.
White House officials were steamed when Andrew S. Natsios, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, said earlier this year that U.S. taxpayers would not have to pay more than $1.7 billion to reconstruct Iraq -- which turned out to be a gross understatement of the tens of billions of dollars the government now expects to spend.

Recently, however, the government has purged the offending comments by Natsios from the agency's Web site. The transcript, and links to it, have vanished.

And I'm sure you remember this one.

After the insurrection in Iraq proved more stubborn than expected, the White House edited the original headline on its Web site of President Bush's May 1 speech, "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended," to insert the word "Major" before combat.

And there's a list of others I didn't know about.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID have removed or revised fact sheets on condoms, excising information about their effectiveness in disease prevention, and promoting abstinence instead. The National Cancer Institute, meanwhile, scrapped claims on its Web site that there was no association between abortion and breast cancer. And the Justice Department recently redacted criticism of the department in a consultant's report that had been posted on its Web site.

People, people, it only seems ephemeral: not only is there the institutional memory of services like the Google cache, but there's the memory of the tens of millions of people on the net, and each of them has an auxiliary memory, in their hard drives. By the standards of historical archival, the internet is a sorry jumble of ephemera, but in terms of election cycles, this is your permanent record.

via Brian Leiter


 

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We're all engaged in the search for truth

Posted by Bob
on 12.19.03

I'm not suggesting that you take the American Family Association's online opinion survey on the legalization of gay marriage because I think the readers of Unfogged are likelier to have one opinion over another. I just think that the AFA might otherwise have some trouble getting a good, representative sample of the American public. (The AFA has a bit of a perception problem: for some reason, people think they have a particular agenda. They could clearly use our help getting word out so that their survey isn't skewed to the left (or the right, even) of America.) Thank you, AFA, for taking the trouble to measure and articulate the full range of the public's moral thinking.


 

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Yum

Posted by Bob
on 12.19.03

My latest celebrity crush.


 

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Continued

Posted by Ogged
on 12.18.03

You might remember the exchange I had with John Holbo over his reading of John McCumber. McCumber is now speaking for himself over at Holbo's blog. Pretty nifty, this internet.


 

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Just A Bit Of Face Cream

Posted by Ogged
on 12.18.03

Perhaps the strangest search bringing someone to the site yet: conducted from French Google Canada: queer eyes and saddam.

Are we eclectic or what?


 

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Dragnet

Posted by Ogged
on 12.18.03
Boys will be boys.
The Justice Department's inspector general announced today that investigators had found hundreds of prison videotapes that were not turned over by federal prison officials during an earlier investigation and that the tapes confirm reports of serious physical and verbal abuse of immigrants detained after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Inspector General Glenn A. Fine found that "some officers slammed and bounced detainees against the wall, twisted their arms and hands in painful ways, stepped on their leg restraint chains and punished them by keeping them restrained for long periods of time," according to a report released today.
The report also found that jail personnel improperly taped meetings between detainees and their lawyers and overused strip searches to punish them.

Do I think George Bush is responsible for this? No. But he will be responsible for any changes not made to keep this from happening again. More importantly, we need to take complaints of abuse seriously. People often assume that anyone detained will complain about mistreatment, either as a prelude to a lawsuit or for simple sympathy. But, as we now know for a fact, abuse claims are often true. That's yet another reason to be chary of expanded government authority, particularly in matters of arrest and detention, which involve real bodies and aren't reviewed until long after the damage is done. If you needed another reason why "sweep, detain, and question" is a bad idea, this is it.

Also note that this wasn't just a case of officers overreacting soon after 9/11. There's also a coverup.

[Metropolitan Detention Center] officials had repeatedly told Fine's investigators that such tapes no longer existed, and many of those interviewed earlier had denied conduct that was confirmed on the tapes. The report also found, however, that many tapes remain missing and that there are unexplained gaps in the footage, despite a requirement to keep such material for two years under U.S. Bureau of Prisons policies.

...

A Justice Department official was not available for comment this morning.

 

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Padilla Ordered Released

Posted by Ogged
on 12.18.03
Big and welcome news. Jose Padilla, despite his foreign sounding name, can't be held on the president's orders as an enemy combatant.

Off to the Supremes we go.


 

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Look at me!!

Posted by Bob
on 12.18.03

Freakgirl, you were so on target!


 

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Yawp

Posted by Ogged
on 12.18.03

Dan Drezner's collection of responses to his recent Slate column is like a found, contemporary Leaves of Grass. Go check out America, in full voice.


 

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On Second Thought

Posted by Ogged
on 12.17.03

I'm not convinced that this is sinister (rewrites happen quite often, and often for good reason), but it sure doesn't look good.


 

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Context

Posted by Ogged
on 12.17.03

I can't quite tell if Taegan Goddard is taking a cheap shot at Howard Dean or just highlighting the out of context quote that's going to be hung around Dean's neck. Goddard quotes Dean as saying, back in September of 2002,

There's no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat to the United States and to our allies.

Goddard links to the full transcript, and here's the rest of what Dean says.

The question is, is he an immediate threat? The president has not yet made the case for that.
I think it may very well be, particularly with the news that we've had over the weekend; that we are going to end up in Iraq. But I think it's got to be gone about in a very different way. It really is important to involve our allies, to bring other people into the coalition, to get a decent resolution out of the U.N. Security Council.
And if Saddam persists in thumbing his nose at the inspectors, we are clearly going to have to do something about it. But I'm not convinced yet and the president has not yet made the case, nor has he ever said, this is an immediate threat.
In fact, the only intelligence that has been put out there is the British intelligence report, which says he is a threat but not an immediate one.

There doesn't seem to me to be any news here. This is what Dean's been saying all along.


 

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It Only Gets Worse

Posted by Ogged
on 12.17.03

I'm a little mystified by comments like this (in an otherwise excellent post, by the way).

So contra Derbyshire, who is probably just making it up as he goes along (but then gets quoted and circulated around the network of misinformation that is the blogosphere)

Do people really think the blogosphere is somehow distinctively vulnerable to misinformation? How about, "the network of misinformation that is the human community?" If you don't realize that blog writers and readers are far better informed and educated than the rest of the population, you need to get out and mingle with some of the hairy bipeds. Nevermind that blogs, because they're public, are at least amenable to correction. Some people, upon spying even this bit of the polity, recoil in horror. To which I can only say, welcome to the world, this is the good stuff.


 

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Blogroll Addition

Posted by Ogged
on 12.17.03

I just added Mark Schmitt's Decembrist to the blogroll. It's a great site for informed political analysis.


 

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Collaboration

Posted by Ogged
on 12.17.03

The Invisible Adjunct is collecting favorite lines and episodes from the Simpsons. She already has an episode's worth of good laughs.


 

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Immaterial girl

Posted by Bob
on 12.17.03

For those of you who thought that Al Gore's endorsement of Howard Dean effectively ended the race for the Democratic nomination, there's this: Madonna has endorsed Wesley Clark. None of this matters, of course. Like all good liberals, I'm waiting for The Affleck to make his preference known. The Affleck is a genius. He can navigate the tricky waters between superduperstardom and everyman charm, a trick all serious presidential candidates must master. And we want a candidate who can do that to the South what Ben can do (psychologically) to Jen: tie America's most famously fickle heart into an illogical knot of hot-cold desire just by visiting a few strippers in Toronto. Please, Ben, show us the way!


 

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Horrors

Posted by Ogged
on 12.16.03
This will probably be my only post of the day, as I try to finish up some other things, so I leave you with this.
In all three Santa Claus lines he surveyed this season — two in Long Island malls and one in a New York City department store — more than 90 percent of the children were not smiling. On his six-emotion scale, he had to rate them "indifferent" or "hesitant." ... He rated 1 percent of the children "terrified." That equaled "exhilarated" and "happy" combined.
Not all research is perfect, but some researchers are better than others.
Dr. Trinkaus acknowledged that his research had limitations. For one, he didn't actually interview the children. "I tried to fade into the woodwork," he said. "I don't want to be seen looking at kids too much, or they'll throw me in jail."
I grew up in a suspension-of-disbelief-free home. My mother, after 25-odd years here, still responds to things like Star Trek or Star Wars with the Farsi equivalent of "What the hell is this? Crazy Americans." So there was no Santa's lap sitting for me, and I still recall my entirely unsuccessful and heartily ridiculed attempts to conjure a tooth fairy. But shed no tears for me dear readers, I'm pretty sure Dr. Trinkaus would have pegged me as "terrified." But, come to think of it, I don't know anyone who did any lap-sitting either. (Maybe I just haven't asked. Maybe I know too many Jews.) Who does this?

 

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Dispersion

Posted by Ogged
on 12.15.03

Phillip Greenspun writes from Argentina, and I'm guessing he hits a lot of us where it hurts.

In Argentina people move to [Buenos Aires]., if they aren´t already there, when it is time for university. After graduation, they stay in B.A. to work at high-level jobs. If you make friends in college, chances are that they'll be living within an easy Metro or taxi ride for the rest of your life. Unlike Americans, Argentines don't sag in the evenings, exhausted from their jobs. Perhaps there is some napping at 6 or 7 but your friends might call you up at 9 pm and a big group will meet for dinner at 10.
Compare to the U.S. Friends gather in, say, the Boston area for college. They disperse for graduate school, each taking the most advantageous offer regardless of location from universities that might be anywhere in the 50 states. After graduate or professional school, people who might have become friends disperse again, each one taking the best-sounding job offer regardless of location. We achieve a lot in our careers and make reasonably good use of our vast territory but wouldn't it be nicer if our friends weren't strewn out across a 3000-mile wide continent?

 

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Break it Down

Posted by Ogged
on 12.15.03

This very smart "beyond Red and Blue" map of US politics has been making the rounds. Mark Schmitt, who actually knows politics, explains why it's so helpful, aside from all the pretty colors.


 

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Other

Posted by Ogged
on 12.15.03
If you want to see some real, as opposed to alleged blogospheric "pro-Saddamism," take a look at some of the quotes in this Al Jazeera article. These guys, with their emphasis on shame, and the equation of violence and "creativity," are loathesome. But I wonder about the people actually fighting the US soldiers in Iraq. Some are Baathists, no doubt. But how many are just people who don't like having their country occupied? And how many of us would be with them, if we were Iraqi?

 

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Overspinner

Posted by Ogged
on 12.15.03

Mickey Kaus has more on Clark adviser Chris Lehane's incompetence.

Meanwhile, on to Public Enemy #2: Here's the quote Clark overspinner Chris Lehane gave the NYT for a story about Howard Dean's minor (2 percent or so) stake in a Vermont radio station that broadcast Rush Limbaugh:

"In a Dean administration, will Rush Limbaugh become the Voice of America?"

I don't think this was a total goof. I think Lehane thinks crafting these sort of zingers is his job, that he's good at it, that some Democrats might actually have doubts about Dean because of this third-remove association with Limbaugh, and that if he adds up enough of these subtly-engineered ripostes (there's another one here) he can help his candidate win an election--when really all he's done is make himself and his candidate look like idiots. ... 1:23 A.M.

 

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Explanation

Posted by Ogged
on 12.15.03

If you've ever wondered how cold warriors see the world, or just what John Rawls meant by "comprehensive doctrine," this comment at Dan Drezner's blog should help.

Doesn't the bearded Saddam look a bit like Karl Marx?!?

 

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Bigger victory

Posted by Bob
on 12.15.03

I want peace and democracy in Iraq as much as any right-wing hawk, but I want peace and democracy in plenty of places. We can't forget that Iraq wasn't even on the American public's radar screen until someone thought to blame Saddam Hussein for the 9/11 attacks. Yes, Saddam Hussein's capture is a victory for the the American military -- and for the administration that put them in Iraq. The Bushies' bigger victory, though, is that they've made us all forget that the case for occupying liberating Iraq was never presented to us honestly.

What happened to Osama bin Laden? All traces of him seem to have vanished from the media, the stump speeches, and the blogosphere.


 

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Unimpressed

Posted by Ogged
on 12.15.03

Normally I wouldn't comment on something so facile, but here it is.

How to impress a woman;
Wine her, Dine her, Call her, Hug her, Support her, Hold her, Surprise her, Compliment her, Smile at her, Listen to her, Laugh with her, Cry with her, Romance her, Encourage her, Believe in her, Pray with her, Pray for her, Cuddle with her, Shop with her, Give her jewelry, Buy her flowers, Hold her hand, Write love letters to her, Go to the end of the Earth and back again for her.
How to impress a man;
Show up naked... Bring food... Don't block the TV.

The blogger comments, "True...True." (via Marginal Revolution). Now, in one sense it's obviously not true: people aren't so shallow and simple. But the humor, if any there be, lies in the sense that there's some truth to this; something recognizable, even to our sophisticated grown-up selves. But here are a few anecdotes. Several years ago, a woman I'd recently met called me in the middle of the day, brought me lunch, and demonstrated a rather shocking, um, eagerness. I remember thinking "this will make a good story," but I wasn't impressed. Mostly I thought it was damn strange. A few years before that, in college, I was talking to an acquaintance about a rather attractive woman we knew. He told me she'd come to his room one night and just undressed. Granted, she hadn't brought food, but he kicked her out. Finally, I like to shop a hell of a lot more than my fiancee does.

So what's the deal? These caricatures aren't even recognizable to me, nor, I suspect to my friends and acquaintances. Are they (shhh) a class thing? Is this part of the Red/Blue divide? Why do I keep seeing them?


 

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You Won't Agree, But...

Posted by Ogged
on 12.15.03

Facts aren't persuasive; persuasion requires empathy. Just a wonderful post by chutney.


 

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Read Me! I Say Nothing!

Posted by Ogged
on 12.14.03

One of the great things about blogging is that it opens you up to criticism from audiences from whom you normally wouldn't hear; the downside of that is that bloggers often have to write like politicians. Andrew Northrup understands.


 

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Oh Wes

Posted by Ogged
on 12.14.03
I like Wesley Clark, he's my candidate, but today's work by his flacks was shameful and inept. I noted a few months ago that Clark's lobbying for Acxiom was troubling. It took a while, but Joe Lieberman finally attacked Clark for it. Clark flack Chris Lehane responded with this.
We heard about this Lieberman attack more in sadness than in anger and believe Senator Lieberman should be spending more time worrying about Al Gore's assessment of his candidacy and less time worrying about records that Wes Clark made public months ago.
No! You fool! Lieberman isn't the issue, don't bother attacking him; it makes Clark look like just another petty politician. Also, this response doesn't address the charge at all. It's a disturbing charge, but it's not as if there's no response: the General is second to none in calling for the protection of our civil liberties and he's proud of his work with a firm dedicated to increasing the security of the airlines and their passengers. Was that so hard? Finally, Lehane's spin isn't just bad, it's aggressively stupid, because, as he must know (someone tell him!) Al Gore didn't endorse Clark either. Then there was Clark's statement about Saddam's capture.
I could not be prouder of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces for capturing this horrible despot. This is a testament to their courage and determination. I'd also like to congratulate Lt. General Sanchez and the intelligence community for the crucial role they played. We've been due good news from Iraq and the world is a safer and better place now that he is in custody.
This isn't awful, but the pointed exclusion of congratulations for Bush is churlish, which is bad, but also too clever by half, which is worse. Howard Dean, at least in person (the statement on his site isn't much better than Clark's) said that this was a great day for this administration and that they deserve a day of celebration. That's perfect: acknowledge that this is good and good for Bush, but also note that there's more to be done, and we don't get more than a day to celebrate. If Dean keeps getting things right, and Clark keeps "bobbling," there may come a time to admit that competent campaigning is the most important component of electability.

 

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Musharraf Unhurt

Posted by Ogged
on 12.14.03
Also in other news, there was an assassination attempt on Pakistani President Musharraf today.

 

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Force

Posted by Ogged
on 12.14.03

Meanwhile, Brad DeLong is solving more important problems.


 

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Saddam Speculation

Posted by Ogged
on 12.14.03

I'm surprised Saddam was taken alive. As a matter of simple pride, I would have expected him to prefer death to capture. Maybe it's just too hard for some people to pull the trigger. But it might also be that he's no longer in control of all his faculties, that's he's not really the same Saddam.

A few months ago, this man was a god in his world. Since then, he's been living in huts and holes, and he's seen his sons' bullet-riddled bodies plugged with putty and displayed to the world. That's gotta fuck with your head. He might be nuts, and not just in that old-timey megalomaniacal dictator kind of way.


 

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The Capture

Posted by Ogged
on 12.14.03

The capture is great news, both for the future of Iraq and for the little bit of justice it affords to all of Saddam's victims.

But here we are in America, with half of us feeling at least a little uneasy because this is good news for George Bush. Get over it. We don't want to become the caricatured left: actively wishing the country ill for the sake of putting our own people in power (and not for the sake of a greater good, so don't comfort yourself with that thought: no matter how convinced you are of your political beliefs, you have to admit that you might be wrong, the other side might have the right idea, and the proof will be in the results).

Ask yourself, if Iraq becomes a great success, then will you still be so unhappy with George Bush? If so, say why; lord knows I don't think there's any shortage of other things to say. But pretending this isn't good, or failing to give George Bush some credit when you would have given him the blame, isn't what the good guys are about.


 

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