Politicians and Pundits

Reassessing the political realities

From a debate between Glenn Greenwald and Chuck Todd:

GG: Let me ask you about that, then. If a president can find, as a president always will be able to find, some low-level functionary in the Justice Department — a John Yoo — to write a memo authorizing whatever it is the president wants to do, and to say that it’s legal, then you think the president ought to be immune from prosecution whenever he breaks the law, as long as he has a permission slip from the Justice Department?  I mean, that’s the argument that’s being made.  Don’t you think that’s extremely dangerous?

CT: That could be dangerous, but let me tell you this: Is it healthy for our reputation around the world – and this I think is that we have TO do what other countries do more often than not, so-called democracies that struggle with their democracy, and sit there and always PUT the previous administration on trial – you don’t think that we start having retributions on this going forward?

Look, I am no way excusing torture. I’m not excusing torture, and I bristle at the attack when it comes on this specific issue.  But I think the political reality in this, and, I understand where you’re coming from, you’re just saying, just because something’s politically tough doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.  That’s, I don’t disagree with you from 30,000 feet.  And that is an idealistic view of this thing.  Then you have the realistic view of how this town works, and what would happen, and is it good for our reputation around the world if we’re essentially putting on trial the previous administration? We would look at another country doing that, and say, geez, boy, this is–

GG: So what do you think happens – I think what has destroyed our reputation is announcing to the world that we tolerate torture, and telling the world we don’t —

CT: We have elections, we also had an election where this was an issue. A new president, who came in there, and has said, we’re not going to torture, we’re going to do this, and we’re going to do this–

GG: What do you think should happen when presidents–

CT: Is that not enough? Isn’t that enough?

This conception of “democracy” by someone in a high position in the media is as revealing as it is typical.  Elections are not just a necessary condition for democracy, they’re sufficient.  Elections are democracy.  Gore Vidal has been calling attention to this state of affairs for decades:

In 1972, I begin: “According to the polls, our second principal concern today is the breakdown of law and order.” (What, I wonder, was the first? Let’s hope it was the pointless, seven-year–at that point–war in Southeast Asia.) I noted that to those die-hard conservatives, “law and order” is usually a code phrase meaning “get the blacks.” While, to what anorexic, vacant-eyed blonde women on TV now describe as the “liberal elite,” we were pushing the careful–that is, slow–elimination of poverty. Anything more substantive would have been regarded as communism, put forward by dupes. But then, I say very mildly, we have only one political party in the United States, the Property Party, with two right wings, Republican and Democrat. Since I tended to speak to conservative audiences in such civilized places as Medford, Oregon; Parkersburg,West Virginia; and Longview, Washington, there are, predictably, a few gasps at this rejection of so much received opinion. There are also quite a few nods from interested citizens who find it difficult at election time to tell the parties apart. Was it in pristine Medford that I actually saw the nodding Ralph Nader whom I was, to his horror, to run for President that year in Esquire? Inspired by the nods, I start to geld the lily, as the late Sam Goldwyn used to say. The Republicans are often more doctrinaire than the Democrats, who are willing to make small–very small–adjustments where the poor and black are concerned while giving aid and comfort to the anti-imperialists. Yes, I was already characterizing our crazed adventure in Vietnam as imperial, instead of yet another proof of our irrepressible, invincible altruism, ever eager to bring light to those who dwell in darkness.

As a side note, that little adventure had been started by JFK, LBJ simply escalated it.  Nixon, the last to arrive at the party, escalated it even further before finally bringing it to a close.  The whole affair, just like Afghanistan and Iraq today, were extremely bipartisan affairs.  The notion that has been put forward that the Democratic party was opposed to the Iraq invasion in particular is extremely dishonest.

Which brings me back to Chuck Todd: “Is it healthy for our reputation around the world – and this I think is that we have TO do what other countries do more often than not, so-called democracies that struggle with their democracy, and sit there and always PUT the previous administration on trial – you don’t think that we start having retributions on this going forward?”   The examples of “retributions” that come to mind are the trials of the former members Central and South American junta regimes for things like forced disappearances, which are condemned by many “so-called democracies” but for which the United States offers bipartisan support:

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday.

Human rights advocates condemned the decision, saying that continuing the practice, known as rendition, would still allow the transfer of prisoners to countries with a history of torture. They said that promises from other countries of humane treatment, called “diplomatic assurances,” were no protection against abuse.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Obama administration is continuing the Bush administration practice of relying on diplomatic assurances, which have been proven completely ineffective in preventing torture,” said Amrit Singh, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, who tracked rendition cases under President George W. Bush.

His insistence that he was “not excusing torture” is ironic because his indignation when confronted with the possibility that it would be the consequence of his actions was certainly genuine.  Mark Danner, one of the few reputable mainstream journalists to take this issue seriously, wrote a brilliant essay on those consequences:

Scandal is our growth industry. Revelation of wrongdoing leads not to definitive investigation, punishment, and expiation but to more scandal. Permanent scandal. Frozen scandal. The weapons of mass destruction that turned out not to exist. The torture of detainees who remain forever detained. The firing of prosecutors which is forever investigated. These and other frozen scandals metastasize, ramify, self-replicate, clogging the cable news shows and the blogosphere and the bookstores. The titillating story that never ends, the pundit gabfest that never ceases, the gift that never stops giving: what is indestructible, irresolvable, unexpiatable is too valuable not to be made into a source of profit. Scandal, unpurged and unresolved, transcends political reality to become commercial fact.

But the “political reality” is that the arcana imperii, those critically important state secrets, have been stripped away and their purpose has been laid bare for all to see.  The issue here isn’t ambiguity, it’s clarity where those who continually insist that their status is justified by their responsibility and integrity are afraid to look.

Jason Leopold reports,

Now, in a sworn declaration obtained exclusively by Truthout, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell during George W. Bush’s first term in office, said he would be willing to state, under penalty of perjury, what top Bush officials knew and when they knew it.

He claims that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others knew the “vast majority” of prisoners captured in the so-called War on Terror were innocent and the administration refused to set them free once those facts were established because of the political repercussions that would have ensued.

“By late August 2002, I found that of the initial 742 detainees that had arrived at Guantánamo, the majority of them had never seen a US soldier in the process of their initial detention and their captivity had not been subjected to any meaningful review,” Wilkerson’s declaration says. “Secretary Powell was also trying to bring pressure to bear regarding a number of specific detentions because children as young as 12 and 13 and elderly as old as 92 or 93 had been shipped to Guantánamo. By that time, I also understood that the deliberate choice to send detainees to Guantánamo was an attempt to place them outside the jurisdiction of the US legal system.”

He added that it became “more and more clear many of the men were innocent, or at a minimum their guilt was impossible to determine let alone prove in any court of law, civilian or military.”

For Cheney and Rumsfeld, and “others,” Wilkerson said, “the primary issue was to gain more intelligence as quickly as possible, both on Al Qaeda and its current and future plans and operations but increasingly also, in 2002-2003, on contacts between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s intelligence and secret police forces in Iraq.”

“Their view was that innocent people languishing in Guantánamo for years was justified by the broader war on terror and the capture of the small number of terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 attacks, or other acts of terrorism,” Wilkerson added. “Moreover, their detention was deemed acceptable if it led to a more complete and satisfactory intelligence picture with regard to Iraq, thus justifying the Administration’s plans for war with that country.”

Documents have been released over the past year that showed how in 2002 several high-value detainees were tortured and forced to make statements that linked Iraq to al-Qaeda and 9/11, which the Bush administration cited as intelligence to support its invasion of the country in March 2003. But the confessions were utterly false.

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Posted by dm - April 11, 2010 at 11:08 am

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Proud to be Tim McVeigh

Or at least the Teabaggers all are. So says Sean Hannity when he isn’t pocketing all the money going to his charity. And then he gets applause from the teabagging idiots he just called domestic terrorists. Sigh…

(as an aside, the text ads in this post were about Voodoo Revenge Hexes when I previewed. I don’t know what that means…)

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - April 2, 2010 at 12:56 am

Categories: Culture Wars, Politicians and Pundits, Wingnut Web, WTF?   Tags: ,

FOX News and The FOX Nation: We ARE the Tea Parties

FOX News, Roger Ailes, Rupert Murdoch, again and again and again you tell us that it’s completely incorrect to associate the coverage and pundits on FOX News with the actions and protests of the Tea Parties/Wingnut Birther crazy movement. Despite the fact that you ran plenty of promos advertising the Tax Day Tea Party protest, constantly interview Stewart Rhodes of the Oathkeepers, have Griff Jenkins and other FOX anchors whipping up and encouraging protesters, and have hired the crazy princess Sarah Palin to give informed opinions on the network, among so many other infractions, you still dismiss any suggestion that you’re trying to pander to the Tea Party crowd and make money off of them as “left-wing lame stream media propaganda”.

So if everything you’re saying is true (we know what a complex relationship FOX News has with the truth) and FOX News genuinely doesn’t mean to associate themselves with the violent, racist, crazy crazies, then what the fuck was this shit you featured on The FOX Nation to celebrate The FOX Nation’s 1 year anniversary? (Click the link for the video, I can’t embed their content).

Yup, that’s right. Glenn Beck has only been on the network for a year too, but by far, FOX’s worst offender for giving a voice to the crazy is celebrating its first birthday. To me, the tone of FOX fundamentally changed a year ago when they brought on Glenn Beck and opened up The FOX Nation for their loving hateful fans. It also changed pretty drastically when President Obama was elected into office at roughly the same time, but of course a political institution like FOX wouldn’t simply change up its coverage just because a Democratic president is now in office, right? Just to make sure they covered all their crazy bases (FOX Nation would lose a lot of fans if they didn’t happen to feature every single aspect of the nebulous Right Wing crazies to make everyone happy) all of the following are a part of the short “Happy Birthday” video for the FOX Nation:

  • An introduction from Michelle Bachmann
  • Soundbite from Bill O
  • Tea Party protesters and signs
  • Stephen Baldwin blowing a kiss?
  • Glenn Beck juxtaposed with Geraldo (see, FOX News is fair and balanced!)
  • Geraldo saying “FOX believes in the American dream” then immediately cutting to footage of angry Tea Party protests
  • More Tea Party footage
  • Mitt Romney saying how much he loves the FOX Nation
  • Andrew Breitbart admitting how he reads FOX Nation and get upset when they scoop him
  • Juan Williams (didn’t they fire Juan Williams for being too much of a Communist?)
  • More Tea Party protesting
  • A colonial Tea Party guy
  • American flags
  • The “I can cure gay people with therapy” guy, Richard Cohen
  • And a closing statement by Rick Perry mentioning that “FOX Nation is the place for information”

Notably absent from the video:

  • Ron Paul and/or Rand Paul
  • Sarah Palin (she’s their leading talent after all!)
  • Joe The Plumber
  • Pat Buchanan (probably not featured because he’s more of an MSNBC guy these days)
  • Mike Huckabee (FOX News host and potential presidential candidate, very surprised he didn’t make an appearance since that’s like a two-fer)
  • Trig Palin (Trig has had a hard year being in the spotlight, no sympathy from FOX?)
  • Dr. Orly Taitz Esq. (if Palin is the princess of FOX News/the Tea Parties then Orly is the Queen. IS FOX LEGITIMIZING THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY BY NOT HAVING ORLY ON?)
  • Hard-working Americans (FOX Nation is supposed to be for hard-working real Americans, but besides the chants from Tea Party protesters and the Right-Wing celebrity fest, this video features not one regular Joe just trying to get by in America)
  • Black people (also a hard-working segment of America that is notably absent from the video. Juan Williams doesn’t count)

Pretty much just as crazy as the people the video was meant for. But why does FOX News continue to pander to and use footage from the Tea Party movement and protests yet at the same time vehemently deny any connection between the network and this fringe “grassroots” group? Does this mean that FOX News, Roger Ailes, and the rest continually lie again and again straight to people’s faces without any regard or backbone?

Is this behavior by FOX anything new to you? Go FOX Nation, congratulations on one whole year of circular-babbling crazy.

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Posted by skiplogic - March 31, 2010 at 11:09 am

Categories: Politicians and Pundits, Wingnut Web, WTF?   Tags:


Have you ever thought to yourself “Self, rich people just don’t have enough money and the rest of us should be paying more of our taxes to help them get richer!”? Do you also hate doing anything besides filling out a short form on the internet? Than you will love this useless gesture now being offered by people who are spending millions of dollars to try to get a flat tax passed because they know they will end up saving much more than that if it does! We bring you OnlineTaxRevolt.com, where the flat taxers are revolting! They’re also having a revolt.

This is billed as the First-Ever Virtual Protest of Current U.S. Tax System – I bet Second Life already did it, and it was filled with Furries.

This looks to be the brainchild of Ken Hoagland, a flat tax champion who loves the flat tax so much he married it. Marriage void in 47 states. There will also be an in-person march in Washington DC on April 15th using real, live people! How exciting! I am sure that these people, marching on public property paid for by tax dollars screaming about how they don’t want to pay tax dollars, will see the irony of the situation and go home instead. Ha ha ha!

More from OnlineTaxRevolt.com:
There is a massive rejection of the established powers taking place in our country. Americans are mad as hell and we are not going to take anymore. The Online Tax Revolt is about sending a clear message to Washington that we are a growing and vocal movement that is calling for real change.

The first-ever Online Tax Revolt, a free, interactive march on Washington was launched using state of the art technology. Concerned Americans can have a voice on tax policy, culminating on April 15 with events in Washington, D.C.

“The Online Tax Revolt is open to every American who believes taxes and spending are out of control, harmful to our country and a threat to our nation’s future,” said Campaign Chairman Ken Hoagland. “Our economic future and that of future generations is at stake. We need taxes that are lower and a tax structure that’s fair.
“We’re in serious trouble and it falls to us to get the nation back on track. This march is a wake-up call to everyone in Washington that the American people won’t be ignored any longer,” said Mr. Hoagland.

The web page:

Let’s have a look!

Here is the high-tech Google map of the marchers heading to DC!

Let’s join the march, because I have a compulsion to join Right Wing groups. My fake identities are probably on several FBI watch lists just because they’re members of groups on FBI watch lists that I am watching myself.


Marcher WheresThe BirthCertificate from Beverly Hills, 90210 is ready to march!

I am this athletic Black female who goes jogging in a skirt for some reason…

Wait, this avatar means I am a working family!

I guess it is better than being Zombie Reagan With Finger Glued To Forehead!

Next I get to pick which team I want to join. Look at all these teams…

Where is Team Jacob? So I joined Dick Armey’s Army, because I love being a member of the Dick Army.

I have never been so proud to be revolting!

As you can see, I have a long march ahead of me. Luckily, as a member of the working class, I an afford to take a month off of work to wander around the country to head to DC for a protest so I’ll pay higher taxes. Rank has its privileges.

Now some fun! OnlineTaxRevolt has some leader boards!

Check out these disturbingly accurate avatars of the leaders of the Flat Tax March Revolt Thing!

Ken Hoagland, the scum in chief!

John McCain has never been more accurately portrayed in any medium

Joe the Plumber is now Joe the Methhead or something. What happened???

Neal Boortz, idiot.

Saul Anuzis, I don’t know who he is, but he looks like someone who ties women to railroad tracks…

Mike Huckabee! Wait, I thought everyone hates Mike Huckabee because he’s a socialist…

When Dick Armey isn’t being an astroturfing kingpin with FreedomWorks, he’s being rendered in pixel form for online astroturfing action!

Grover Norquist, giant crybaby who hates America

Herman Cain is listed here probably because they needed a Black guy to break up the White Parade, but how come this black guy has Pink Lips???

Lew Uhler must have had an accident where he was photocopied again and again and is now a 54th generation copy of himself…

How come my avatar ain’t giant and blue?

EDIT: I should let you all know that Ken Hoagland has responded to this article, I’ll post more when I have more time to go over his very long email.

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - March 29, 2010 at 6:38 pm

Categories: Culture Wars, Politicians and Pundits, Wingnut Web   Tags: , ,

Ideal messengers

WikiLeaks recently obtained and published a leaked CIA report (pdf) on influencing European populations to maintain support for the war in Afghanistan that includes such gems as:

Afghan women could serve as ideal messengers in humanizing the ISAF role in combating the Taliban because of women’s ability to speak personally and credibly about their experiences under the Taliban, their aspirations for the future, and their fears of a Taliban victory. Outreach initiatives that create media opportunities for Afghan women to share their stories with French, German, and other European women could help to overcome pervasive skepticism among women in Western Europe toward the ISAF mission.

What makes this even more awful than it is on its face is that conditions have not improved for women under the occupation.  Indeed, the Karzai government is currently looking at bringing Gulbuddin Hekmatyar into the government.  RAWA, an Afghan feminist organization that predates the 1979 Soviet invasion/Islamist insurgency offers this description of his past:

Hekmatyar’s fighters killed tens of thousands by deliberately shelling Kabul. They kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed countless civilians in ways so gruesome that many Afghans, especially Kabul residents, flinch at the mention of Hekmatyar’s name to this day. (An Afghan refugee once described to me Hezb-i-Islami fighters entertaining themselves by pouring hot oil on a freshly decapitated body to make it flail involuntarily.) When Hekmatyar was done with Afghanistan’s capital city, it looked like Hiroshima, and it will still be recovering decades from now.

He does, however, have a friendly past with U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services.

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Posted by dm - March 28, 2010 at 10:32 am

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Wingnut Web: Let the Tea Party violence begin (continue?)!

A few days ago I posted about all the overtly violent threats and actions the folks over at Resistnet had to offer on the eve of the passage of Healthcare Reform. The world is no stranger to idiots making fiery threats towards others over the internet, some of the power behind websites like Resistnet lies in the fact that it’s a very small community echoing each other’s thoughts to the point that they believe these opinions (shared by maybe a dozen of their compatriots on the site) are in actuality the attitudes of everyone who feels discontented by the things President Obama has done.

Unfortunately for those of us who love the country and want to see it succeed (not secede like these Tea Party “patriots”) no matter who is in charge or what legislation they aim to pass, the populist violence party that used to be contained on the internet is now frothing up and spilling out onto the streets irl. Springboarding from my post a few days ago, I thought it would be appropriate to jot down all the real ACTUAL violence, threatening phone calls, vandalism, and other ironically “patriotic” acts that no doubt those who identify with the Tea Party, Birther, Militia, Oathkeeper, White Nationalist, and other movements are behind. It’s been less than a week since the vote on Healthcare Reform so what you’re going to read here are just the juvenile beginnings of what will prove to be a really ugly time in American History (as if everything since the election of President Obama wasn’t bad enough).

1. Sen. Bart Stupak’s threatening phone calls from loving concerned Christians who wish on him ass-bleeding cancer:

It’s great to hear from these angry God-fearing Christians who value the lives of other people’s unborn children so much that they wish death, anal cancer, beatings, bleeping bleep bleep, and other fun things on a fellow Christian. Its no use trying to talk or reason on a theological level with these people, it’s a wonder what they learn at church every Sunday. I don’t even think God himself could come down from the clouds and convince these people that they are the literal embodiment of brain-curdling migraine-inducing irony.

Rep. Louise Slaughter also received threatening phone calls indicating that snipers would kill her and her family. Oh and speaking of Louise Slaughter…

2. Bricks thrown through the office windows of Rep. Louise Slaughter and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords:

Nothing says “populist rage” like people throwing bricks through the windows of Democratic representatives offices. Incidents of window smashing was reported in New York, Arizona, Kansas, and Alabama, with some possibly linking the Alabama incident to a blogger in that area. Republican Whip Eric Cantor also reported that apparently someone had fired a bullet through the windows at his offices in Richmond, VA but it’s doubtful how true this is seeing as Cantor is a Republican and voted against Healthcare Reform. But hey, Virginians love firing those guns.

3. Gas line cut at Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother’s home

This one is not as big of a deal on the surface. Reports would suggest that Tea Baggers dug through the man’s backyard and severed a natural gas pipeline or something, but in reality they disconnected the propane tank from the man’s outdoor grill and let the gas escape, maybe hoping for God to throw down a lightning bolt and ignite the whole thing.

The fucked up thing about this item however is that Tea Partiers posted online the home address of what they though was Rep. Tom Perriello’s house and encouraged their community members to go to the man’s home address and express their discontent over Healthcare Reform to him personally. I guess “express yourself” to these people means “fuck with that guy’s shit”. If I get a brick through my front window in the next few days I’ll know it’s from these same people with poor address skills.

4. Rep. James Clyburn receives faxes of nooses

The same guy who the same tea partiers were calling “nigger” on the steps of the Capitol building a few days ago are now faxing the offices of of Rep. Clyburn, a man who fought alongside the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s (another movement that was wayyyyy unpopular with the Republican party), receiving images synonymous with lynching and death. Keep it classy Tea Party!

5. “White Powder” sent to Rep. Anthony Weiner’s office in Queens

This one is sort of breaking today, a suspicious package containing white powder was sent to the offices of Rep. Anthony Weiner in Queens. The news isn’t confirming if this is like the many many incidents of people just sending flour through the mail to create some chaos at a government office or if it’s like those two cases of Anthrax or other poisons being sent to a government office in order to kill people (but those were terrorists who did that, these Tea Party “patriots” would never stoop to the actions of terrorists, right?). We’ll see how this one plays out.

But yeah, pretty much those fuming mad Tea Partiers who are fuming mad that their tax dollars might go towards public programs that help other people (unlike where their tax dollars have been spent on years), are now turning their internet rage into real life rage and throwing bricks and threatening people and all the rest of it. It’s unclear who exactly are perpetrating these crimes, but we here at TarsTarkas.net are pretty sure that they follow and post on the same networks as Resistnet.com, TeaPartyPatriots.org, and the same ilk who would love to abort all those lawmakers who helped pass Healthcare Reform.

And the kicker? Those lawmakers on the side of the Tea Parties aren’t condemning any of this. They love it! They support it! They want to see these people throw bricks and threaten and hurt people because it’s good for their politics. Not quite good for the country, but when have guys like John McCain cared about “Country First”?

Oh yeah, and Sarah Palin is declaring open season on hunting Blue Dog Democrats, here PAC releasing this map targeting the congressmen’s home district locations with rifle sights. No one would ever interpret this in terms of guns, right?


It seems as though I missed a few incidents in my initial post, so here are a few extra Tea Bagging tricks to update you about.

6. Coffin placed on the front porch of Rep. Russ Carnahan’s Missouri home

A coffin is substantially harder to propel through a window than a brick, a concept I don’t think the people behind this act initially realized. Coffins are expensive though! I wonder if this was just a simple pine box that some proud Missourian built or if some lout decided he’d rather die on the battlefield with his Tea Party brothers rather than be buried in the coffin he bought for the coming 2012 apocalypse.

An update to item #3:

The administrators at the Danville Tea Party seem to be the ones responsible for posting the incorrect address of Rep. Tom Perriello’s house where a gas tank line was severed. The AP spoke to the Tea Party group’s leader, Nigel Coleman, who had the following words of remorse:

Nigel Coleman, chairman of the Danville Tea Party, said he re-posted the comment that originated on another conservative blog, including the address, Monday on his Facebook page. The posts were taken down after the mistake was discovered.

“We’ve never been associated with any violence or any vandalism,” he said. “We’re definitely sorry that we posted the incorrect address.”

Thank you Gawker for the updated information and for pointing me to this excellent map of violent outbursts of populist rage that Talking Points Memo has created. There’s a war goin on outside folks!

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Posted by skiplogic - March 25, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Categories: Politicians and Pundits, Wingnut Web, WTF?   Tags:

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