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Posted at 6:38 PM ET, 02/23/2011

Happy Hour Roundup

By Greg Sargent

* At his presser today, Governor Scott Walker was asked why he said on the prank Koch call that he "thought about" introducing troublemakers into protesting crowds. His answer:

"We've had all sorts of options brought to us by staff and lawmakers and people across the state, but as you heard we dismissed them."

* Also: Walker denied any plan to trap Dems by enticing them back to the capitol in order to forge ahead with his proposal via procedural moves.

* While you were watching Wisconsin: A confidential Goldman Sachs report to clients has concluded that House GOP spending cuts would be a drag on the economy and cut economic growth.

* Steve Benen says the news of "independent analyses showing that the Republican spending measure would push the economy back towards a recession" should be "the lead story in every news outlet in the country."

* Adam Serwer has a very useful explainer on the legal significance of Obama's DOMA announcement today.

* Also: Senator Dianne Feinstein will introduce legislation to completely repeal DOMA. It will be interesting to see how Republicans respond, given that gay rights has receded as a hot-button cultural issue.

* Nate Silver boils down the polling on Wisconsin:

"The public might not be enamored of public sector unions, but by about a 2:1 margin, they think they have the right to exist."

This supports, I think, the idea that the proposal to roll back bargaining rights is a serious overreach, reframing the conversation in a way that undermines the political advantage conservatives previously enjoyed in the general battle over public employees.

* Another GOP governor, Ohio's John Kasich, defends the right of Dem lawmakers to stage their walkout, suggesting again that Walker is hemorraging GOP support.

* Citizens for Responsibilty and Ethics in Washington calls for a probe of whether Walker broke the law by sending state troopers after missing Dems.

* The fact that a stand-in for billionaire David Koch can get Walker on the phone for 20 minutes helps explain why people are so reluctant to do away with one of the last institutions in American life that represents the interests of working people.

* Mike Huckabee says he sees no "end game" in sight in Afghanistan, a suggestion that there may be space for an anti-war candidate to emerge in the 2012 GOP presidential pack.

* And another key point about Judge Gladys Kessler's ruling in favor of health reform: It made broccoli puree out of the right's so-called "broccoli argument," which holds that the individual mandate is a slippery slope to government force-feeding you vegetables.

What else is happening?

By Greg Sargent  | February 23, 2011; 6:38 PM ET
Categories:  Happy Hour Roundup, House GOPers, Labor, gay rights  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Gay rights no longer hot button issue for GOP?
Next: The Morning Plum

Comments

The assistant AG in Indianna was fired for suggesting to shoot Wis protesters.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | February 23, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Where are the jobs, Boehner?

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 23, 2011 6:45 PM | Report abuse

"Anti-war candidate" in the GOP? What has the Huckster been smokin'?

Shee*t, maybe the American public's memory is so short they'll forget who got us into mess and maxed out the credit cards.

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 23, 2011 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Meh, economists have been talking about the need for stimulus since the recession began. Why would newspapers all of a sudden start straying from saying Conservative Things. We all know spending cuts are bad. Just that the voices of people who care more about belonging to the Conservative Club than in the strength of the US economy are drowning everyone else out.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 23, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

"A confidential Goldman Sachs report to clients has concluded that House GOP spending cuts would be a drag on the economy and cut economic growth."

Don't be fooled. All this company does is suck money out of other people's pockets and the only pockets that smell like money nowadays is government. Goldman knows, in a pinch (their specialty) governemnt can print it.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/annapolis/2011/02/same-sex_marriage_debate_start.html

Looks like gay marriage is well on its way in Maryland?

Any doubts that in 20 years gay marriage will be the law of the land? Homophobes will become the racists of today. We know they existed, and that some of them are around today. We'll see them on message boards like this one. But somehow they will disappear from real life. As if being a homophobe has become socially unacceptable.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 23, 2011 6:56 PM | Report abuse

"Mike Huckabee says he sees no "end game" in sight in Afghanistan."

He must not have been watching when Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney let Osama binLaden and Mullah Omar over Tora Bora into Pakistan. That was the end of the game.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Brigade, as always, doing his best turn as a rabid, yet flaccid, attack mutt.

==

The guy alters the posts he quotes. He has about as much honor as a gangbanger who rapes fourteen year old retarded girls. Just block the little swine like everyone else.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 23, 2011
========================================

You just can't make up this kind of stuff. Now this commie and DDUMB see themselves as "everyone else". Delusions of grandeur much? And, oddly, they always seem to know what's posted by the people they claim to be blocking. LOL.

And notice the reference to raping fourteen year old retarded girls. You'd think someone who's been banned so many times from similar forums for profanity and uncivil conduct---someone whose alleged proclivities earned him the nickname "the Ped" from some of the regulars at the Fix---would be a bit more sensitive.

Unfortunately, the poor soul is unhinged, and this post represents the zenith of his contributions to the forum. I suppose if I'd been fleeced like a lamb on "private property" in a communist country, I'd be bitter, too. Plucked like a chicken. Skinned like a squirrel.

Posted by: Brigade | February 23, 2011 6:59 PM | Report abuse

caothien9- "Real Americans have diabetes."


This needs to be put on a t-shirt. It's probably a tad insensitive, but hilarious nonetheless.

Posted by: ashotinthedark | February 23, 2011
====================================

Here's a better one: "American expatriates living in Vietnam have VD."

Posted by: Brigade | February 23, 2011 7:05 PM | Report abuse

@ronnieandrush """"Big Government to both."""

That is the correct answer.

The Republican social agenda is 100% Big Government."

I thought about this after the thread moved on. Defunding various programs is actually the Republican social agenda as Small Government, so it's not 100% Big Government.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 23, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

The Right Wing Nut Jobs hate The French, until they can use them to attack a brilliant, gracious, and elegant African American Woman.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 23, 2011
===========================================

No one was talking about "a brilliant, gracious, and elegant African American woman." They were talking about Michelle Obama.

Speaking of Michelle and her crusade to get us healthy, here's a golden oldie:

--------

"B. Hussein and the Bitter Half have hit us taxpayers with another date night. This time, instead of closing down Manhattan so they could see a play, they traveled to moonbat-friendly Asheville, NC for dinner. Now we know how Michelle got that caboose:
The meal included BBQ ribs, greens, baked beans, corn pudding, mac & cheese and corn bread, guzzled back with icy cold sweet teas.

This is relevant because the Bride of Obama has been on a jihad against tasty food, lecturing loudly that obesity is a "threat to national security." Who knows what restrictions will be imposed on our diets as Big Government consolidates control of our health under ObamaCare? Already we have Democrat pols calling for laws against salt.

But our rulers will continue to eat as they please.

Posted by: Comrade_Zero
-------

A lot of truth in that post.


Posted by: Brigade | February 23, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

"Republican Should Take Up 'Too Big To Fail'

It's hard to argue the widow of it, no? :-)

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/260539/republicans-should-take-too-big-fail-lou-dolinar

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 23, 2011 7:11 PM | Report abuse

Not "widow" but logic! My apologies. D'oh! ;-)

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 23, 2011 7:16 PM | Report abuse

The Supreme Court has established that the 1st Amendment right to assembly encompasses the right of all Americans to free association--the right to belong to the National Rifle Association, the Sierra Club, and--that's right--to unions.

Posted by: Owkrender | February 23, 2011
==========================================

No one is disputing anyone's right to free association. If this buffoon hasn't crawled back under his rock, maybe he can tell us the last time anyone forced him to join the NRA or the Sierra Club or mandated that dues be taken from his paycheck to support those organizations.

Posted by: Brigade | February 23, 2011 7:18 PM | Report abuse

From The Desk Of Dick Armey:

Memo To All Tea Party Members:

Dear Koch Suckers,

Just a brief note to remind you to be sure to punch some Public School Teachers, and warmly embrace some Deprived Billionaires today.

Posted by: Liam-still | February 23, 2011
=========================================

I will just say right here, right now --
"Liam-still" is an absolute IDIOT.
Holy Cow!! Did someone open the gates to the loony bin?
Posted by: rdb2 | February 22, 2011

Posted by: Brigade | February 23, 2011 7:21 PM | Report abuse

It's more a function of demographics and old people dying off. I'm interested to see how much racism dies off with the last of the baby boomers.

Posted by: jnc4p | February 23, 2011
=======================================

It can never die off with people like DDAWD and ethan around. They see a racist under every bed and in every shadow.

Posted by: Brigade | February 23, 2011 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Sure would be interesting to be a fly on the wall in the REAL David Koch's office today.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 23, 2011 5:40 PM
=========================================

If the fly were under Koch's desk, he'd likely get squished by Liam-still.

Posted by: Brigade | February 23, 2011 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Re Obama's latest "evolving" views on homosexual marriage, is it now safe to say that Obama is profoundly dishonest and cynical? He's lied even about matters as fundamental as his own beliefs about marriage.

His/Holder's/Judge Tauro's constitutional objections to DOMA section 3 are also absurd.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 23, 2011 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Each of these horrible Arab dictators in turn tried to threaten the people with The West, just as Iran still does and the people said, kill me, you can kill me, but it is you, you are the bad one.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 6:45 PM
======================================

It's about time to send Jesse Jackson or Loonie Louie Farrakhan on a mission to the Middle East, just so the people there won't forget that America is still the great Satan. If they aren't available, there's always Jimmy Carter or Al Gore.

Posted by: Brigade | February 23, 2011 7:32 PM | Report abuse

"He's lied even about matters as fundamental as his own beliefs about marriage."

I can't keep up, but who am I to say, since I don't have any fundamental beliefs about marriage (though I have lots of ideas). Marriage seems to me a matter of the confluence of church and state within any given culture, I'll leave it up to the lawyers, the nationalists and the zealots, they are so good at this.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Once Walker starts talking he never shuts up. If this guy from Buffalo Beast had tried to interrupt him in mid sentence he really could have had Walker in a position
to soil himself and resign today.

Posted by: filmnoia | February 23, 2011
=========================================

Rainforest has been after Obama to resign since January of 2009. Now the moron filmnoia and his ilk want Walker to resign.

Posted by: Brigade | February 23, 2011 7:39 PM | Report abuse

"I'll leave it up to the lawyers, the nationalists and the zealots,"

Hmm, I'm probably at least one and a half or two of those.

Some of us said Obama was obviously lying back in 2008. Of course, we said he was lying about a lot of things. And he was.

I can't wait for his sycophants to resume condemning anyone who questions his honesty about even his basic beliefs.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 23, 2011 7:41 PM | Report abuse

"I can't keep up, but who am I to say, since I don't have any fundamental beliefs about marriage (though I have lots of ideas). Marriage seems to me a matter of the confluence of church and state within any given culture, I'll leave it up to the lawyers, the nationalists and the zealots, they are so good at this. "

I think it should just be a church thing. Leave the state out of it. It's just plain unconstitutional that I'm being fined for not getting married.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 23, 2011 7:48 PM | Report abuse

the sad thing is that more vegetables is exactly what this country needs to reduce healthcare costs

Posted by: matt_ahrens | February 23, 2011 7:49 PM | Report abuse

"Hmm, I'm probably at least one and a half or two of those."

So smart!

"I can't wait for his sycophants to resume condemning anyone who questions his honesty about even his basic beliefs."

They never stop, are you kidding, just for fun, I criticize him for something, once every day...and it is like a rat to the lever when the bell rings. If you can't get that kind of reaction anymore, you must be hammering away on the bell.

Someday, I'll read, "shrink2 should see shrink1 again," that was the one that really really hurt, not really, the first cut is the meekest. But if you are worried about Obama telling the truth, you are in big trouble my friend. Today, Obama announced a forward thinking policy, someday we might consider exploring the idea of possible sanctions against the Gaddafi administration.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 7:54 PM | Report abuse

"It's just plain unconstitutional that I'm being fined for not getting married."

Why?

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 23, 2011 7:57 PM | Report abuse

matt wrote:

"...the sad thing is that more vegetables is exactly what this country needs to reduce healthcare costs."

Well, a bit hyperbolic, but I get the point. I think Proxmire once said that if everyone had good diets and exercised and didn't smoke or drink alcohol or abuse other substances health care costs would be forever affordable.

Ddawd [and shrink, although I know you are dealing with mental health at VA] how much of what you see would you attribute to bad "lifestyle" choices? Could we really solve the massive explosion of health care cost with voluntary good habits? Or is that a feelgood myth?
---------------------------------------
I asked this morning if anyone knew which, if any, WI public employees had the right to strike. I am guessing none of them, but I will accept correction from someone who knows or has an authoritative link.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 23, 2011 8:28 PM | Report abuse

""It's just plain unconstitutional that I'm being fined for not getting married.""

Really interesting statement! Maybe it's because marriage (or the decision not to marry) has an effect on interstate commerce?

Mark, QB, your thoughts? If marriage effects interstate commerce can the government regulate what marriage is?

Posted by: TrollMcWingnut | February 23, 2011 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I am in a mens group that meets on Monday nights. Two of us are 6' or 6'1" and just under 200# and work out, if not overly, at least 45 min at least 5 days a week.

We are all over 60.

The other four are 5'9" or less and 210-245#. I do think the two of us are a good bet to outlive the four of them, and cost the nation less, in the bargain. Two of the others have [very] high blood pressure, and one of them is diabetic. One, the heaviest, is losing basic mobility. The remaining heavy is symptom free at 64. The round ones do not work out and eat much bigger meals.

The two of us who look relatively skinny do not feel deprived of food, although we do exercise portion care.

The heaviest of the group is completely addicted to crash diet followed by binging.

I wonder how much is lack of will and how much is obsession or compulsion. Each of the two of us who have remained relatively lean had warnings from docs [about sedentariness] in our late 50s, that we heeded. But I think the others have been warned, too.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 23, 2011 8:42 PM | Report abuse

"It made broccoli puree out of the right's so-called "broccoli argument," which holds that the individual mandate is a slippery slope to government force-feeding you vegetables."

Welcome to the latest chapter installment of skewering and pureeing failures.

Judge Kessler doesn't puree anything. She just tries to sidestep the problem. The point about broccoli is that failure to eat a good diet raises health care costs. I.e., it's exactly the same point. It isn't about the broccoli market.

More broadly, you can fill in the blanks with an infinite number of acts and societal costs in the ACA "commerce" formula: the failure to do __, in the aggregate, imposes societal cost __.

Obamacare knocks down the last vestige of limited powers. It just does. Sorry, Judge Kessler.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 23, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

Five of the six of us played a sport in HS. I don't think sedentary was a lifelong habit except for the guy who is 64 and symptom free, but fat.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 23, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

"Mark, QB, your thoughts? If marriage effects interstate commerce can the government regulate what marriage is?"

First, someone would have to remind me of the factual basis on which poor, poor DD is being violated.

I suspect, though, that he is implying some sort of equal protection violation, but I don't expect any coherent explanation either way.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 23, 2011 8:51 PM | Report abuse

TMW, I took DD's comment as tongue-in-cheek.

I am unaware of the fine being discussed. :-)

QB1, Judge Kessler buys the "aggregate" argument and that will be the ultimate issue, I think, to be decided. Back to "Raich" and "WvF"

Please excuse my personal ruminations on lifestyle choices - I was truly wondering about one of my friends and his health or lack thereof tonight.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 23, 2011 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Could we really solve the massive explosion of health care cost with voluntary good habits?

No. You'd think so. But voluntary means people know, that people get it and own it, that they cling to being healthy as they they do to their guns and bibles. Just kidding of course, but they'd have to think their health is almost that important. Otherwise prevention programs are just another price to pay. You might think all the people not smoking these days was worth it. It wasn't in the sense that people are not demonstrably healthier and even worse, they might live much longer.

A couple years ago talking to you about this I disparaged "prevention" as a cost saver and this is why. Everyone dies and gets sick for a long time as they die, especially if they are healthy (nothing like a massive heart attack in a 50yo who never saw the doctor to save the risk pool money). Extending the process of dying costs money, especially past peoples' 70s.

Even a walking cadaver like Dick Cheney says he is considering a heart transplant. We could all end up like that. A fine mind and a moribund body turns into big bucks. Comedy aside...

As the people who pay into the pool leave and become beneficiaries and then if they last for the other half of their long, cared for, wonderful lives...well, young people might get mad...it is hard to know how the system might work. But living a long healthy life, in the long run, costs the system we have much more money than dying as fast as possible.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Mark, I'm not real privy to how much stuff costs, but the two biggest killers, heart disease and cancer are directly related to lifestyle choices, especially the choices to smoke and eat unhealthy and not exercise. (aside: I use the word choice, since it's directly due to a conscious action. You can argue that people who are addicted to nicotine don't really have a choice.)

So in one sense, you are going to reduce healthcare costs from those diseases. That being said, there will always be cancer and there will always be cardiovascular disease even in populations who are draconian about health. Stuff just happens.

And then there's the fact that we all die. I forget the actual stats, but a substantial amount of health care costs is spent in the last few weeks of life. Trying to squeeze out that little bit of life is costly. So yeah, you or I might not get heart disease or cancer, but we're going to get something. And that will cut into the marginal savings from primary care. Of course, this is mitigated by the fact that cardiovascular disease and cancer aren't death sentences. They can be managed chronically and the management of chronic disease is expensive, so prevention will save a lot of money.

I can't put dollars on it, but I'm sure someone has. There's probably an economist out there that knows how much money we'd save if cigarettes just vanished. And I'm just focusing on cancer and cardiovascular disease. You're also looking at lung diseases, renal disease, and so forth.

One of the interesting charts I saw correlating money spent on health care and outcomes showed that Japan gets great value for its health care dollar. And one thing about Japan is that people visit the doctor often. A lot more than in the US. In fact a lot more than almost all developed nations. And I do think this has an effect. Getting regular checkups and counseling from a young age probably has an effect on lifestyle and early treatment of things like hypertension. I don't know that the number of doctor visits is necessarily the reason for the better health care value (they also have much better diets than we do), but it's a sensible one.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 23, 2011 9:00 PM | Report abuse

"I wonder how much is lack of will and how much is obsession or compulsion."

Living healthy is neither, it is something you like and enjoy. Health nuts might seem obsessed, but they are having a lot more fun than sitting in the waiting room of some healer.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 9:09 PM | Report abuse

I think shrink just described the GOP theory of health care. Everyone that can afford the care that Dick Cheney can buy should be allowed to live as long as they can pay. The rest of us should die "as fast as possible" to save money for our children and grandchildren. Otherwise, it would be generational theft.

Posted by: pragmaticagain | February 23, 2011 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Mark, I answered the question with the presumption that people actually adapt good habits. But Shrink is right in that our record of getting people to adopt them is piss poor. For example even among people who say they WANT to quit smoking, only about 5-6% of them are successful at doing so.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 23, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

"TMW, I took DD's comment as tongue-in-cheek.

I am unaware of the fine being discussed. :-)"

Well, anything that would get me a tax break, but I don't do, such as getting married, having kids, buying a home, paying into a business, etc, could be considered to be a fine. A fine for my inactivity, to boot.

No, I don't really think of it as a fine, but this is essentially what the individual mandate opposition is arguing. It's hard to see how a tax break for marriage is constitutional, but the individual mandate isn't. Of course, the absurdity of the position is the primary reason Conservatives adopt it.

But yeah, tongue in cheek.

Posted by: DDAWD | February 23, 2011 9:18 PM | Report abuse

"And one thing about Japan is that people visit the doctor often. A lot more than in the US. In fact a lot more than almost all developed nations. And I do think this has an effect."

Yes! he says the more you visit the doctor, the more money we all save. I say, skip the doctor, just drop dead.

pragmatician, that is correct. America needs health care reform, real reform. But it won't happen. The old people have the power and they will spend the money on themselves. The two party battle thing is a distraction, the ACA is a Goldmine.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 9:19 PM | Report abuse

I say, skip the doctor, just drop dead.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 9:19 PM

skip is a doctor??

Posted by: pragmaticagain | February 23, 2011 9:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised someone has not securitized health insurance futures. Will this pool die faster than the company thought they would? How about betting on high risk pools, "junk insurance" derivatives. If Goldman doesn't have people trying to figure out how to make a market betting on health insurance underwriters' decisions, I'll be disappointed.

We'll read an expose about how they packaged a bunch of healthy old people as a good risk, when they knew about...some recent lab tests.

It is a free market.

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 9:29 PM | Report abuse

"The rest of us should die "as fast as possible"

Yeah, just like Alan Grayson said.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 23, 2011 9:35 PM | Report abuse

"I'm surprised someone has not securitized health insurance futures. Will this pool die faster than the company thought they would? How about betting on high risk pools, "junk insurance" derivatives. If Goldman doesn't have people trying to figure out how to make a market betting on health insurance underwriters' decisions, I'll be disappointed. "

One possibility is that insurance companies are so good at denying insurance to paying customers, they see no need to hedge...

Posted by: DDAWD | February 23, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

"No, I don't really think of it as a fine, but this is essentially what the individual mandate opposition is arguing. It's hard to see how a tax break for marriage is constitutional, but the individual mandate isn't."

Not hard to see at all. The mandate isn't a tax.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 23, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

dd and shrink, thanks. My grandfather stayed active and healthy until the day before he died, at 88. I suppose that is the model I want to emulate, not my mom, who had a year of ministrokes at 86.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 23, 2011 9:42 PM | Report abuse

One possibility is that insurance companies are so good at denying insurance to paying customers, they see no need to hedge...

word
obviously
sorry to be stupid

Posted by: shrink2 | February 23, 2011 9:43 PM | Report abuse

LOL

What's that saying about a picture being worth a thousand words?


http://www.balloon-juice.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/new-democrat.jpg

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 23, 2011 10:05 PM | Report abuse

This is pretty amazing. Brown's going to put it to the voters if Republicans can't stop him which they're trying to do.

54% of CA likely voters approve of the 5 year extension of the tax increases. That will save half of our deficit, the other half will be cuts.

""New polling from the California Public Policy Institute: A surprising and heartening result, in light of Governor Brown’s rhetoric about tough choices and shared sacrifice. Staring down a state in dire fiscal crisis, Brown has proposed broad, painful spending cuts, as well as a special election to seek voter approval on a package of new taxes and fees. Say what you will about the strategy, but Brown’s candor and honesty about his cuts have been impressive, and it seems voters may reward him with that rarest of the rare: a voter approved tax increase.""

Posted by: lmsinca | February 23, 2011 10:31 PM | Report abuse

I think that if Brown cannot put this together, no one can. He is a unique fit for CA. Will the Ds in the Lege, at least, back him?

Posted by: mark_in_austin | February 23, 2011 11:11 PM | Report abuse

lmsinca, not if Howard Jarvis, John & Ken have anything to say about it. No, no, no, no, no, no!

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 23, 2011 11:11 PM | Report abuse

Good. We've left death and dying for taxes.

Works for me.

Posted by: AllButCertain | February 23, 2011 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Here's some other food for thought: Dr. Jeff Masters, at wunderground.com, wrote today about the fact that a drought in China is adding pressure on world food prices. He concludes, "The recent unrest in the Middle East, which has been attributed, in part, to high food prices, gives us a warning of the type of global unrest that might result in future years if the climate continues to warm as expected. A hotter climate means more severe droughts will occur. We can expect an increasing number of unprecedented heat waves and droughts like the 2010 Russian drought in coming decades. This will significantly increase the odds of a world food emergency far worse than the 2007 - 2008 global food crisis. When we also consider the world's expanding population and the possibility that peak oil will make fertilizers and agriculture much more expensive, we have the potential for a perfect storm of events aligning in the near future, with droughts made significantly worse by climate change contributing to events that will cause disruption of the global economy, intense political turmoil, and war."

Posted by: dozas | February 24, 2011 12:11 AM | Report abuse

The IPCC and the global warming alarmists continue to insist that droughts (like China's this year or Russia's last year) are becoming more frequent, more intense, more spatially extensive, and of longer duration. However, Sheffield et al. analyzed drought patterns at the global scale for the period 1950 to 2000, and found no evidence to support claims of increasing drought activity.

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 24, 2011 12:27 AM | Report abuse

@ Jerry Brown-

Just make it temporary. Jeebus, if it don't work, the folks'll let you know...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 24, 2011 3:21 AM | Report abuse

@ dozas-

Thanks for that. Heaviness. Unless one belongs to the TeaOP where such information is discounted at best...

Posted by: ChuckinDenton | February 24, 2011 3:23 AM | Report abuse

Interesting that the WI public sector employees are being asked to make concessions on their pension, when in fact, their pension fund is FULLY FUNDED....99.67% funded....one of the best funding rates in the nation.
---------------------
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/22/wisconsin-pension-fund-among-healthiest-us_n_826709.html

"WASHINGTON -- While Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has painted a dire picture of his state's pension obligations, Wisconsin's pension fund for public employees is among the nation's strongest, according to a report by the nonpartisan Pew Center for the States.

The Pew report, issued last year, concluded that Wisconsin is a "national leader in managing its long-term liabilities for both pension and retiree health care."

..

But the Wisconsin pension fund is simply not in fiscal trouble. Its managers weren't burned by subprime mortgage assets or mortgage-backed securities as the housing bubble collapsed. The fund also relies on an automated dividend system, which pays out benefits in years the system is making gains while restricting payouts in years when it takes losses. And while the pension fund had a rough year during 2008 due to stock market losses, it remains robust, both in terms of fundamental financial stability and in comparison to other state pension programs.

According to the Pew study, Wisconsin had about $77 billion in total pension liabilities in 2008. But according to that same Pew study, those liabilities were 99.67 percent "funded," giving Wisconsin one of the four-highest of such ratios in the nation.

So while Wisconsin does face a $137 million budget shortfall this year, the source of that fiscal trouble is not the state's pension fund. Under the current plan, Walker hopes to generate $30 million this year by raising taxes on public employees -- the governor refers to this as increasing the "contribution" that state employees make to their pension funds.

But Walker could make the state's pension system bear the costs of a broader state budget shortfall -- one created almost entirely by lower tax revenues resulting from the economic downturn -- without raising taxes on public workers or eliminating public bargaining rights. All he has to do is cut a few ties with the financial-services industry.

According to the pension fund's 2010 report, the fund spends about 84 percent of its management costs on outside help -- highly-compensated fund managers who work for private-sector financial firms. While Wisconsin has made a concerted effort to bring more of its fund management in-house, it could do more.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | February 24, 2011 5:10 AM | Report abuse

A telling statement by Sarge Greg:

"This supports, I think, the idea that the proposal to roll back bargaining rights is a serious overreach, reframing the conversation in a way that undermines the political advantage conservatives previously enjoyed in the general battle over public employees".


Dyed-in-the-wool, deep-blue, Obamacrat, ultra-liberal, Greg Sargent, giving constructive criticism to Republicans!!

That's hilarious!

When ultra-liberals try to give advice to conservatives.....WATCH OUT!

Liberals are trying to slip the dagger in nice and easy.

Besides, public employees (aka bureaucrats) are overwhelmingly Democrats who couldn't find real jobs.

They are supported by the state and love BIG government, and it's horn-o'-plenty.

Posted by: battleground51 | February 24, 2011 6:25 AM | Report abuse

With a base that's as homophobic as ever and nothing but hate to energize them, if the GOP is sitting on its hands WRT ending DOMA then you know the social conservatives have lost this one, and lost it big.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 24, 2011 6:38 AM | Report abuse

Obama is, obviously, being held hostage by the homosexual lobby. The folks, out there in the heartland, notice this even if the Republican poo-bahs are giving it short shrift.

Come 2012, the only poll that is 100% accurate, the general election, will show how much America approves of Obama and his habit of ignoring American law and encouraging this mockery of marriage AND the illegal invasion of America from south of the border.

Every day, in every way, it is appearing that Obama will be the next Carter and NOT the next Clinton.

10+% unemployment and super-high gas prices will be factored in, also.

AND how long can Obama hold out without some BIG tax hikes??

Posted by: battleground51 | February 24, 2011 6:41 AM | Report abuse

"While you were watching Wisconsin: A confidential Goldman Sachs report to clients has concluded that House GOP spending cuts would be a drag on the economy and cut economic growth."

The fact that the economy is already absorbing higher crude oil and gasoline prices makes such cuts particularly inappropriate and damaging.

Posted by: rhallnj | February 24, 2011 6:53 AM | Report abuse

Reads like the Daily Talking Points Memo from the DNC.

Heck of a job Greg!

Posted by: manbearpig4 | February 24, 2011 7:11 AM | Report abuse

"Of course, the absurdity of the position is the primary reason Conservatives adopt it."

If it were so absurd, federal district courts would not have ruled the mandate unconstitutional. Does anyone think that Obama will stop defending that now like DOMA?

Posted by: clawrence12 | February 24, 2011 7:48 AM | Report abuse

There's a strong case to be made that Obama has violated his oath of office and that Holder has violated his oath of office and is engaged in unethical and unprofessional conduct as a lawyer for the government that should subject him to professional discipline for refusing, on their stated grounds, to defend DOMA in court. (And I say DOMA and not just section 3, because their "reasoning" applies to the whole, and it's only a matter of time until Obama takes his next "evolving" step toward full advocacy of judicial imposition of ssm.)

Holder's statement, in simple terms, says that there is no reasonable argument to be made that DOMA is constitutional. He more specifically says that in the pending cases in the 2d Circuit there is no "binding precedent" on what standard applies to distinctions (supposedly) based on sexual orientation, so that the government would have to argue what standard applies, that he and Obama believe that heightened scrutiny should apply, and that there is no reasonable argument that DOMA passes that standard.

A point he skips over is that there is a very reasonable argument that the rational basis standard and not heightened scrutiny apply. He himself concedes that other federal courts have already applied the rational basis test. Ergo, that position is ipso facto a reasonable one to advocate in another court. (He's implying that the rulings made by several federal courts of appeal have no reasonable basis but are effectively frivolous and themselves violate standards of judicial and professional conduct.)

Indeed, the distinction he tries to make between arguing that the rational basis test is satified in one court where there is "binding precedent" prescribing that standard (which he implies is okeedokee!) and arguing that another court should apply that same test (which is not okeedokee!) is one every lawyer should recognize as ludicrous. Lawyers spend much of their time advocating on behalf of their clients for Court A to adopt the same rule Court B previously adopted.

This shows that Holder has abdicated his professional duty to zealously protect and pursue his client's interests. Similarly, both he and Obama took an oath to faithfully execute the duties of the offices they accepted. Plainly, they are refusing to do so by failing to defend the duly enacted law of the US, when there plainly are strong legal and constitutional grounds to defend it.

On the other hand, as others have observed, the policitized Obama/Holder DOJ was sabotaging our interests in all these cases by deliberately putting up weak defenses (also clear violations of professional ethics rules), so we are probably better off with them completely abdicating and turning over the defense to more responsible lawyers hopefully to be retained by Congress.

Congress should immediately, however, begin an investigation into Holder's and Obama's failure to discharge their duties, and OPR's failure to do anything about it.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 24, 2011 7:56 AM | Report abuse

Remember Michael Hastings of Rolling Stone/Stanley McChrystal fame? He's got another one.

""Under duress, Holmes and his team provided Caldwell with background assessments on the visiting senators, and helped prep the general for his high-profile encounters. But according to members of his unit, Holmes did his best to resist the orders. Holmes believed that using his team to target American civilians violated the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which was passed by Congress to prevent the State Department from using Soviet-style propaganda techniques on U.S. citizens. But when Holmes brought his concerns to Col. Gregory Breazile, the spokesperson for the Afghan training mission run by Caldwell, the discussion ended in a screaming match. "It’s not illegal if I say it isn’t!" Holmes recalls Breazile shouting.

In March 2010, Breazile issued a written order that "directly tasked" Holmes to conduct an IO campaign against "all DV visits" – short for "distinguished visitor." The team was also instructed to "prepare the context and develop the prep package for each visit." In case the order wasn’t clear enough, Breazile added that the new instructions were to "take priority over all other duties." Instead of fighting the Taliban, Holmes and his team were now responsible for using their training to win the hearts and minds of John McCain and Al Franken.""

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/another-runaway-general-army-deploys-psy-ops-on-u-s-senators-20110223?page=2

Posted by: lmsinca | February 24, 2011 7:58 AM | Report abuse

mark:

""I do think the two of us are a good bet to outlive the four of them, and cost the nation less, in the bargain.""

The two notions, outliving them and costing the nation less, seem to be somewhat in conflict to me. The longer you live, the more you will cost "the nation" (social security, medicare). In terms of cost to "the nation", it seems to me that the optimum life span is the point at which one stops paying taxes and starts collecting transfer payments from the government. If your unhealthy buddies all die of a heart attack or something just before they retire, they will have spent a lifetime paying into the government without the final years of collecting from it. That seems to me like a winner for the government in terms of its fiscal health.

And, indeed, presuming that they are all insured, their ballooning health care costs in their final days are not costs to "the nation" but are instead costs to their insurance company. And even assuming that whatever costs their waning health incurs are paid by "the nation", as DDAWD pointed out above, healthy people are not necessarily avoiding that cost, but maybe merely pushing it further out in time.

In any event, it is not at all obvious to me that unhealthy people who die before retirement are a net drain on "the nation's" money. It seems to me that, strictly in economic terms, it is far more preferable for people to die as close to retirement age as possible.

(To the progressive peanut gallery...spare me that "You cold hearted b-stard" retorts. There are certainly plenty of reasons to want people to be healthy and live longer, but government fiscal health is not necessarily one of them.)

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 24, 2011 8:07 AM | Report abuse

OMG, is he for real?

""Iranian president condemns Arab government crackdowns

* Made no mention of protests inside Iran

* U.S. has called Iran's stance "ironic"

TEHRAN, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose security forces crushed protests against his 2009 re-election, on Wednesday condemned state brutality against demonstrators in Libya.

Speaking for the first time about this year's Arab uprisings, Ahmadinejad expressed horror at the use of extreme violence and urged governments to listen to their people.

"How can a leader subject his own people to a shower of machine-guns, tanks and bombs? How can a leader bomb his own people, and afterwards say 'I will kill anyone who says anything?'" he said in televised comments.

The Iranian president was speaking a day after Libyan protesters said they were attacked by tanks and warplanes. Leader Muammar Gaddafi said protesters deserved the death sentence, and vowed to die a martyr rather than step down.

"I seriously want -- from all heads of states -- to pay attention to their people and cooperate, to sit down and talk, and listen to their words. Why do they act so badly that their people need to apply pressure for reforms?" Ahmadinejad said.""

http://af.reuters.com/article/tunisiaNews/idAFLDE71M0J620110223

Posted by: lmsinca | February 24, 2011 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Obama is, obviously, being held hostage by the homosexual lobby. The folks, out there in the heartland, notice this even if the Republican poo-bahs are giving it short shrift.

Come 2012, the only poll that is 100% accurate, the general election, will show how much America approves of Obama and his habit of ignoring American law and encouraging this mockery of marriage AND the illegal invasion of America from south of the border.

==

Take your Haldol and STFỤ.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 24, 2011 8:12 AM | Report abuse

We've been having some business experience lately with the crack in the wall of foreign labor markets. I though this was interesting in hindsight to what we've been observing.

""But it’s not cheaper, or better, or more efficient. Firing your teachers isn’t exactly “winning the future”. And outsourcing manufacturing, as Boeing found out, is often a good way to increase coordination costs, create more operational risk, and destroy value. However, the system is good at maintaining the power of oligarch-style control of cultural institutions. If no one but the kids of rich people can read, only the kids of rich people will be able to organize society’s resources. Outsourcing work to China means that workers are scared and have no leverage, so they do what management wants. Again, this isn’t efficient; the UAW sought to make small cars in the 1940s, but was rebuffed by management. Workers are closest to production; treating them terribly is a good way to degrade product quality. Silicon Valley companies give their engineers free snacks and frisbees because happy employees that take ownership over their work create good quality products. Treating people terribly scares them, and makes them more pliable. Again, it’s about control.

The problem for the elites is that the system of control is breaking down. I noted a week and a half ago that the Egyptian revolution was a labor uprising against Rubinites. So to the extent that global labor arbitrage relies on sweatshops and environmental degradation in poor countries for cheap goods, successful strikes in poor countries undercuts the whole system. The reason to outsource work in the first place is to prevent workers in rich countries from gaining pricing and political power. Now workers in poor countries are getting pricing and political power? It’s actually a fragile system of control, and can be broken through either crackdowns on tax havens and oligarchs in wealthy countries or protests/strikes where the goods are made.""

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/02/matt-stoller-the-liquidation-of-society-versus-the-global-labor-revival.html

Posted by: lmsinca | February 24, 2011 8:26 AM | Report abuse

(To the progressive peanut gallery...spare me that "You cold hearted b-stard" retorts. There are certainly plenty of reasons to want people to be healthy and live longer, but government fiscal health is not necessarily one of them.)

==

Nobody needs to accuse you of what you've gone out of your way to firmly establish. As usual, you manage to come up with the creepiest and most depraved arguments possible and frame them in putrid moral ugliness, yet lay claim to some mantle of reasonableness.

Yes, Americans, as soon as you are no longer able to Create Wealth for the shareholders and executives, please have the decency to drop quickly dead so ScottC can have a few more nickles to pinch. Fiscal conservative, dontcha see.

(spits)

Anyway, the recent figure I read was that a smoker costs about $3400 a year more on average than a nonsmoker, and that's only healthcare costs. Factor in increased absenteeism, lower productivity from hourly walks to upwind in front of the building, and it's no wonder that some workplaces have finally reached the point of not hiring smokers at all.

One of three smokers dies from it. Nine out of ten who smoke two cigarettes go on to be addicted.

Want to make some inroads into loweri png healthcare costs? Ban those effin' things.

And, yes, exercise needa to be more than a private vice, and healthy eating needs to be the rule rather than the "elitist" exception.

Now go ahead and crank out the "nanny state" remarks before you go hack black phlegm into the toilet and start on another bag pork rinds.

Me, I just got my blood sugar back down to the normal range so I'm feeling a little self-righteous today.

Posted by: caothien9 | February 24, 2011 8:27 AM | Report abuse

@claw: "The IPCC and the global warming alarmists continue to insist that droughts (like China's this year or Russia's last year) are becoming more frequent, more intense, more spatially extensive, and of longer duration. However, Sheffield et al. analyzed drought patterns at the global scale for the period 1950 to 2000, and found no evidence to support claims of increasing drought activity."

Wasn't it Paul Ehrlich who predicted food shortages would lead to the end of human civilization and widespread cannibalism by the 1980s/1990s?

Historically, a warmer climate has, globally, meant more arable land and (thanks to irrigation) higher potential crop yields (assuming human beings don't get in the way and decimate food production like in, say, Zimbabwe). A cooler planet is much more destructive, re: food production.

Ideally, of course, would be to keep the entire planet at a constant perfect temperature. But until we perfect the global thermostat, mother nature is going to keep moving the temperature up and down on us.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 24, 2011 8:32 AM | Report abuse

@lmsinca:

"OMG, is he for real?"

This surprises you? There are no homosexuals in his country. Not a one. In his •entire• country. They don't have 'em, dontcha know.

Dude is a little obtuse.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 24, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

cao:

""Yes, Americans, as soon as you are no longer able to Create Wealth for the shareholders and executives, please have the decency to drop quickly dead so ScottC can have a few more nickles to pinch.""

Neither said nor implied.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 24, 2011 8:35 AM | Report abuse

We've got one smoker in my building at work (now). He's a really hard working guy. Don't think he suffers much from absenteeism. Gets a lot done.

He's also originally from Iran. Small world!

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 24, 2011 8:36 AM | Report abuse

All, Morning Roundup posted:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2011/02/the_morning_plum_193.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | February 24, 2011 8:39 AM | Report abuse

ScottC3: ""The two notions, outliving them and costing the nation less, seem to be somewhat in conflict to me. The longer you live, the more you will cost "the nation" (social security, medicare)."'

Haven't there been studies that suggest smokers actually cost the medical establishment less, on the whole, because they die sooner? I'm not sure if they take everything into account, but it kind of makes sense that if you collect 15 years less in Social Security, you'd be costing the state less. Which is not a pro-smoking argument, BTW, I'm just not sure the extra-expense that smokers create is universal.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 24, 2011 8:40 AM | Report abuse

From the Matt Stoller piece I linked above. He mentions the infrastructure sell offs as well. It remains to be seen how any of this "wake up call" to the middle class will work out, but I'm glad to see it's finally happening. Next up is the soon to be negotiated $20B joke of a settlement with the banks and mortgage/foreclosure fraud "looters". Yep, I said looters.

""As commodity prices shoot up, and become more volatile, the pressure to liquidate America will only increase. These increases take the form of gifting public assets to oligarchs, taxing the middle class and poor, slashing social service budgets, and cutting wages through inflation and outright demotions (like the NYC sanitation workers that were demoted right before a giant blizzard). But civil unrest is intensifying it its most basic forms: protests and strikes, and in advanced forms, like the blowback at the national security state embodied in the HB Gary and WIkileaks fiasco.

What we are seeing is two political and economic systems, increasingly at odds – high trust and cooperative, or dominance-based and lowest common denominator. This is not, fundamentally, a debate about economics. It is true that neoclassical economics doesn’t work, leads to corruption, and is intellectually dishonest. But that’s why this isn’t a question of economics, because the dishonesty is part of a system of corrupted values.""

Posted by: lmsinca | February 24, 2011 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Kevin:

""Haven't there been studies that suggest smokers actually cost the medical establishment less, on the whole, because they die sooner?""

I don't know, but it wouldn't surprise me. It makes intuitive sense.

""Which is not a pro-smoking argument, BTW, I'm just not sure the extra-expense that smokers create is universal.""

Precisely my point. The notion that unhealthy habits are net costs to "the nation" is not at all an obvious truth, despite the fact that the claim is routinely made.

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 24, 2011 8:46 AM | Report abuse

If you have a chance, go read the WSJ piece on this trial balloon first. They report, you decide. LOL

""Most observers, yours truly included, had expected very little from the multi-regulator “foreclosure task force” announced last year. It was clearly designed to be an even more cosmetic exercise than the stress test charade, which does take a certain amount of brazenness (or more likely, confidence in the public’s inability to follow the three card monte). But a bad situation devolved; the Treasury had appeared to be in charge, and that department at least tries to put a minimum level of professional spit and polish into its charades. When OCC acting chair and chief bank enabler John Walsh got up to speak in an official capacity about the process in last week’s Senate Banking Committee hearings, it was evident there was not even going to be an effort to pretend that this was a serious undertaking.

Even so, the mortgage “settlement” trial balloon floated in the Wall Street Journal this evening is an offense to common sense and decency. Notice how the word “fraud” is pretty much verboten in the MSM; the latest code word for what went awry is “breakdown”. This implies a benign sort of neglect, simply of not doing sufficient maintenance which led fussy machinery to quit working. It is mean to avoid contemplating, let along uncovering, Pinto-type decisions of weighing the costs of making the vehicle safer versus the litigation losses resulting from incineration by exploding gas tanks.

The magic number across the industry is a mere $20 billion in civil fines or payments to fund loan mods. We know from BP not to have a great deal of confidence in settlement funds. It is not yet clear what scope of activities get a free pass (fraudulent servicer charges and impermissible compounding fees? failure to convey notes to mortgage trusts as stipulated in the PSA? foreclosing on home where HAMP mods had been promised?) but the industry will want any waiver to be as broad as possible. But in any kind of settlement of fraud, like securities fraud charges, various responsible parties are also barred from working in the industry, sometimes for life. None of that is on the table.""

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/02/mortgage-fraud-whitewash-20-billion-get-out-of-jail-free-settlement-floated.html

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703842004576162813248586844.html

Posted by: lmsinca | February 24, 2011 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"Next up is the soon to be negotiated $20B joke of a settlement with the banks and mortgage/foreclosure fraud "looters". Yep, I said looters."

No you did not!

I have no problem with anyone saying "looters" as long as they have a convincing account of what was looted and how. Having messed up chain of title paperwork (like failing to record a mortgage assignment) is hard to make out as looting. It doesn't really have anything to do with the financial reality of a defaulted loan.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 24, 2011 8:55 AM | Report abuse

Kevin:

From a USA Today article:

"Vanderbilt University economist Kip Viscusi studied the net costs of smoking-related spending and savings and found that for every pack of cigarettes smoked, the country reaps a net cost savings of 32 cents.

"It looks unpleasant or ghoulish to look at the cost savings as well as the cost increases and it's not a good thing that smoking kills people," Viscusi said in an interview. "But if you're going to follow this health-cost train all the way, you have to take into account all the effects, not just the ones you like in terms of getting your bill passed."

Viscusi worked as a litigation expert for the tobacco industry in lawsuits by states but said that his research, which has been published in peer-reviewed journals, has never been funded by industry.

Other researchers have reached similar conclusions.

A Dutch study published last year in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal said that health care costs for smokers were about $326,000 from age 20 on, compared to about $417,000 for thin and healthy people.

The reason: The thin, healthy people lived much longer.

Willard Manning, a professor of health economics and policy at the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy Studies, was lead author on a paper published two decades ago in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found that, taking into account tobacco taxes in effect at the time, smokers were not a financial burden to society.

"We were actually quite surprised by the finding because we were pretty sure that smokers were getting cross-subsidized by everybody else," said Manning, who suspects the findings would be similar today. "But it was only when we put all the pieces together that we found it was pretty much a wash." "

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-04-08-fda-tobacco-costs_N.htm

Posted by: ScottC3 | February 24, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

People are also surprised when they learn the counterintuitive truth that much or even most advocated preventive health care saves neither lives nor money but often costs both.

Yet, largely indiscriminate advocacy of preventive services is part of the left's typical program -- another piece of reality to keep in mind whenever you hear about a political war on science. Indeed, it's pretty much the overarching theory of Obamacare's "bending the cost curve down," and has no real empirical basis at all.

Posted by: quarterback1 | February 24, 2011 9:08 AM | Report abuse

Just testing this out. Was going over the code for troll hunter and saw it include an image thing. Couldn't remember if it worked, so I thought I'd test it out.

|img:http://www.yourprops.com/norm-49b5dbc4e9fef-Tron+(1982).jpeg|

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | February 24, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

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