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Posted at 3:45 PM ET, 12/20/2010

No Labels, no civility

By Jennifer Rubin

The one area in which the No Labels set, which is generally center-left, could do something useful is to police its own. Cynthia Tucker writes:

There is simply no modern precedent for the behavior of Republicans in the U.S. Senate. They are not only hyper-partisan, but they are also petty, petulant and unpatriotic, willing to jeopardize national security if they think they can hurt President Obama. Witness their growing resistance to a nuclear pact with Russia, the New START treaty.

Excuse the label, but this is vile. Recall how bent out of shape those on the left got when they accused the right of questioning liberals' "patriotism" during the Iraq war? (Actually, it was their judgment that conservatives attacked; the left came up with the personal slurs like: "Bush lied, people died.") You may find it hard to recall, since all the Bush=Hitler signs tended to dominate the news.

But if the No Labels crowd wants to perform a civic service, how about the "least civil act of the week" award? I'm nominating Tucker, who can't imagine that Republicans' objections to the treaty are based on legitimate policy concerns, the very items they have sought to address by amendment. But unlike Tucker, I don't assume the Obama team is "unpatriotic," just wrong.

By Jennifer Rubin  | December 20, 2010; 3:45 PM ET
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The moment Mitch McConnell said that their #1 job was to make sure that Obama doesn't get reelected they opened themselves up to such a critique.

Posted by: Aerowaz | December 20, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

"But if the No Labels crowd wants to perform a civic service, how about the "least civil act of the week" award?"

Negativity and the Blame Game on both the Right and Left has brought us to where we are.
Can it and get on with governing this country thru compromise.
You just don't get it Rubin.

Posted by: alyd69 | December 20, 2010 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what TV station you were watching but Bush = Hitler never "dominated the news." At best, a poster with this slogan may have appeared in the background of a crowd shot. You know what slogan did dominate the news? This one: "Obama is a Muslim." I wonder where that came from? Certainly not the Republicans, they only attack Obama for his policy. Yeah right.

Posted by: ZeroHero0 | December 20, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

The thing about the left I dislike most is their habit of bashing Republicans day in day out. Sometimes the Republicans do deserve criticism and sometimes it is just liberal hype where the accusation amounts ultimately to "They don't see things the way we do."

For instance, with the START treaty, who knows whether it is good or bad or (most probably) neutral? Who knows whether the Russians would go along with modest changes?

I don't particularly like Senator Kyl's posturing, but I am not sure how much actual harm he is doing.

Right now the big danger to the US comes not from Russia or even Iran, but from North Korea and their patrons the Chinese.

In that context, START is probably marginal so a mild criticism of Kyl probably is justified, but hysteria, let us give it a rest, shall we?

Posted by: rjpal | December 20, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

This "no-labels" thing sounds more or less like the "coffee party" wine in a new bottle. Meh.

Posted by: sold2u | December 20, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

You know what slogan did dominate the news? This one: "Obama is a Muslim." I wonder where that came from? Certainly not the Republicans, they only attack Obama for his policy. Yeah right.

Posted by: ZeroHero0
Well, "Obama is a Muslim" seems wrong to me. On the other hand, he did have a Muslim father and a Muslim stepfather and he spent part of his childhood in a Muslim country. So those who think he is a Muslim are wrong, but they are not nuts - they are just wrong.

Why make matter worse by bashing THEM? Just say, "I am sorry, but you are mistaken."

For instance I had some sympathy with "Obama might not be a natural born US citizen" view until I saw a copy of his birth certificate on the web.

But I did have to SEE that. I did have some questions before. Instead of bashing people, why not refer them to the correct URL?

Some of them will still say, "Maybe it is fake", but many, like me, will have their doubts laid to rest.

Posted by: rjpal | December 20, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Liberals are either not very bright or have very short memories. If they're for something, then everyone should be for the same thing. If they're against something, then everyone should be against the same thing. They honestly don't get it. They don't seem to remember anything of their negative behavior.

Posted by: georges2 | December 20, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Excuse the label, but this is vile.


The biggest irony is that lefties like Tucker believe themselves to be moderate and sensible, thus perfect for such a movement.

Posted by: bbface21 | December 20, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

The first two START treaties were negotiated in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations. The secretaries of state for the past five Republican presidents support the current START treaty: Henry Kissinger,George Shultz, James Baker, Lawrence Eagleburger, and Colin Powell. Center-left, my a*s.

Posted by: Bob22003 | December 20, 2010 4:41 PM | Report abuse

Wow, double speak, again!

The Republican leadership states that they will line up some of their membership to vote for the START treaty if, and only if, the Democrats don't push the passage of the repeal Don't Ask/Don't Tell (DADT).

Now, after passage of DADT, the Republicans are totally against the treaty being passed.

Ms. Rubin, could you please refresh our memory as to exactly what legitimate policy concerns regarding the START Treaty that the Republicans did not object to prior to DADT's passage that that they do object to now that DADT has been passed?

A politician's, and a pundit's, clarity of memory is an ever evolving and fickle attribute. Isn't the right, Ms. Rubin!

Posted by: jamesls | December 20, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer do you have any ideas of your own or are you just going to carp and nitpick forever? I mean every one of your posts is essentially saying "Oh, yeah? Well Democrats blah blah blah." What are you adding to the conversation?

Posted by: Potter2 | December 20, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Another pointless article. Wow someone on the right found something on the left that that contradicted what someone else on the left is aspiring too. Wow the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

Posted by: kchses1 | December 20, 2010 4:52 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me Tucker has it about right. The Republicans are a corrupt, brain-dead mess whose main activity appears to consist of trying to figure out new ways to run the country into a wall all over again. And thanks for lossening up that awful "death" tax. The country and its woeful finances really needed that.

Posted by: CopyKinetics | December 20, 2010 5:05 PM | Report abuse

Best part: Rubin can't put the word patriotism in the same sentence with 'the left' without enclosing quotation marks. And she's judging others vile? Actually, taking a 2nd look at her post, the histrionic, accusatory tone she maintains makes it a sort of tour-de-force in uncivil discourse. Remarkable lack of self-awareness. Should be in a hall of fame somewhere. Unless it's all a joke of course, in which case she's a comedic genius. But somehow I don't think so...

Posted by: dolanster | December 20, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer comes in to work w/ her GOP cheerleading outfit on every day. Sis Boom Bah! Go GOP! Boo Dems!! Sorry JR, you got nothin'. You're regurgitating what's already been regurgitated.

Posted by: danw1 | December 20, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

You know what slogan did dominate the news? This one: "Obama is a Muslim." I wonder where that came from?


Ummm, the Hillary Clinton campaign.

Posted by: etpietro | December 20, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

I notice that Ms. Rubin fails to address Ms. Tucker's main assertion that Republicans are "willing to jeopardize national security if they think they can hurt President Obama." Instead she uses the hackneyed "but they do it too" argument because, of course, she can not refute Ms. Tucker's assertioon that Republicans are indeed putting politics ahead of national interest.

The truth of that assertion is simply demonstrated by the offer Senators Graham and McCain made to the president: "Kill DADT and we'll back START".

That was a straight politcal deal having nothing to do with the merits of the treaty and gives the lie to Republicans' claims that their opposition is anything else.

Posted by: CaliBlogger | December 20, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Weak blog, Rubin, unless you're joking (I can never tell with your stuff, because it's so inane & nonsensical! Are you?). Repubs say the most vile things about Liberals, Progressives, & the Prez, but that bothers you not a whit.

Turn the picture around, & you and the other teabaggers always cry "foul!" Man up, Jen, cuz what goes around, comes around. And Tucker is spot on. This is about trying to handing a defeat to the Prez, not about Repub's concerns over national security. Politics as usual for the GOP & their shill, Rubin.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 20, 2010 5:22 PM | Report abuse

I've never seen a blogger at the Post so easily get eviscerated by the people commenting on his or her post.

Posted by: Aerowaz | December 20, 2010 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Well, this is all very nice and logical, and makes sense on the surface.

And trust me, I thought the people with "Bush Lied/People Died" signs were a bit out to lunch.

However, the Democrats don't tend to try to put the people with anti-Bush signs in office, as the Republicans have done with Michelle Bachmann in Minnesota, for example.

So, in order to be fair minded, I've tried to somehow understand what exactly it is that Republicans who are currently in office are FOR. We know what they are against, and increasingly, it simply seems that they are against anything a Democrat is for. I really don't know what studied postion any Republican holds that really makes much sense for America in the 21st century.

Eventually, you have to come to a point where, "no taxes" is no longer a viable political position. Our infrastructure is crumbling (and yes, much of that is overseen by the federal government) and we've fought, and are fighting, 2 wars in the Middle East, not to mention having to repair the damage done on 9/11 and compensate victims of that tragedy. And everyone on the right screams like a stuck pig about spending. Please. Stop.

Probably the clearest message that I could possibly take from the Tea Partiers was what I saw during a protest here in Houston. On the very day that my paycheck had a few more bucks in it because President Obama cut the payroll tax, I saw people who I knew damn well were not making in excess of $100,000 protesting with signs that said "Don't raise my taxes". That left me speechless and said.

There are people that think that President Obama is going to raise their taxes, who think the President is a Socialist, and who think that he was not an American citizen.

They all call themselves Republicans, and Republican party leadership does nothing to stop them.

What should I think, in this situation?

Posted by: JohnDinHouston | December 20, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed at the revisionism happening here. Traitor was the word used for questioning going into Iraq. Forget the stupid Bush lied posters. Traitor. During Bush's tenure, we were also not to question other foreign endeavors - like dealings with Russia's Pooty Poot. All of this wishy-washy B$ on the right about the efficacy of START is just that. This had been open for comment in the Senate. Over 900 comments. The Senate has had the treaty since May.

So today there may be no danger from Russia, but remember the whole problem in Iraq of not having inspectors on the ground? Perhaps the whole $Trillion debacle could have been avoided had we maintained an inspection regime in Iraq. Oh - I forgot - the people on the ground there (i.e. Scott Ritter, Mohammed Baradei) said there was no existing WMD capability. Isn't this all an argument for making sure we have monitors on the ground in Russia. That way, we CAN, focus on Iran and NK as we know what's happening in Russia. Your focus is on the White House in 2012. From McConnel's own piehole. Not the good of country.

I notice no one criticizes the content of the treaty. Just that Russia's not a threat. Kind of like the end of the business cycle and Real Estate prices can't drop. What oath is taken when sworn into the Senate. BOFI.

Posted by: CJamesJr | December 20, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

You don't recall the patriotism of those against the Iraq war being questioned?!?! Really?!?!
You must not have been paying attention; for months on end those who opposed the Iraqi war were called traitors by the right. TRAITORS! Talk about revisionist bs.

And there is a little bit of false equivalency going on here. I'd like to point out for the record that 1) Bush did lie, and 2) Over 100,000 men, women and children died because of it.

And you somehow think that is the same thing as every arm of the GOP propaganda machine calling Obama a socialist, a man who is the most pro-free market Democrat we've ever had.

Posted by: maurban | December 20, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Civility is clearly overrated -- as evidenced by the Washington's own hiring of Jennifer Rubin (a pretty blatant middle finger directed at the Post's readership -- if you're tasked with getting a "conservative" at least get one that has some intellectual heft).

Seriously, the GOP members of the Senate have legitimate concerns for undermining the START treaty? This is a joke, right?

Pretty much every major figure in the American national security establishment going back 40 years has voiced support for the measure, and you're going to tell me that Mitch McConnell, or John Kyl has some clear, reasonable objections that Kissinger, Baker, et al haven't anticipated? If so, what are they?

Give me more money for missile defense?


It's pretty clear that McConnell-Kyl have POLITICAL objections to the passage of the measure, but it's not really clear that they have a reasonable basis for opposing the measure.

As far as civility and political correctness go, this town has no shortage of courtiers and too few truth tellers. Sometimes, a little honesty goes a long way. It may not be pleasant, but that's how it goes some times.

So instead of a persuasive defense of McConnell-Kyl's obstruction, we get whining about how calling out their political stunt, which endangers American foreign policy credibility and security, is uncivil. Frankly I -- and many other Americans -- care a lot more about the credibility of America in the foreign policy arena; and our national security than the hurt feelings of some immoral and corrupt Republican politicians.

Posted by: JPRS | December 20, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Washington Post interview for a conservative blogger.

Candidate #1 enters room. Washington Post interviewers (WPI) sit at table and greet candidate #1.

WPI: So, you understand that we're looking for someone to represent a more conservative view point on our online site -- preferably a social conservative.

Candidate #1: Sounds like me!


WPI: OK, that's great.

So do you know how to type?

Candidate #1: Yes, of course I do.

WPI: Well, you're hired!

Posted by: JPRS | December 20, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

I can sum this column up in one word:


Posted by: SmallBusiness | December 20, 2010 5:52 PM | Report abuse

What's with all the lefties on RT today? Shouldn't you guys still be celebrating the repeal of DADT on Sargent's blog?

Posted by: sold2u | December 20, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

I've yet to hear a rational argument from the Right against START other than "I don't want the Democrats to have any success, I don't care if my childish attitude puts America at risk."

Too bad Rubin didn't use this space to make such an argument instead of whining and crying like a two-year-old.

Posted by: SmallBusiness | December 20, 2010 6:03 PM | Report abuse

Oh and P.S. Jennifer, can you refute the saying "Bush lied and people died"


Didn't think so.

Posted by: SmallBusiness | December 20, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

smallbusiness, check out this highly entertaining link of Condi Rice destroying Katie Couric on the topic of Bush falsifying intelligence about WMD.

Posted by: eoniii | December 20, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Cynthia Tucker is right about Senate Republicans. In fact, she was being excessively polite. Republican politicians are, for the most part, snarling animals, protecting their own interests and those of their rich patrons, while doing everything possible to harm the rest of us. "Civility" is as foreign a concept to them as "patriotism," so spare us the lectures, Ms. Rubin.

Posted by: AdrianMole | December 20, 2010 6:51 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect Ms. Rubin- I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that you are deserving- I have to agree with the very first comment and, in fact, it was the sentiment that immediately sprang to mind as I read your post. Even for those of us who want to believe that our politicians are guided only by judgements as to what actions serve their constituents best, it is nearly impossible to attribute Republican objections to START to anything but politics, particularly after they made it no secret that they would obstruct anything this lame duck congress attempted outside of the passage of an extension of tax cuts. (BTW, I'm sure you'll agree that the tax cut legislation completely undermines their self-proclaimed deficit hawk credentials in every conceivable way.) We've seen this movie before: they bemoan the fact that the process needs to be slowed down to ensure that the language of the treaty is just so when they have had, to my understanding, interactions with the administration over a period of 18 months now. This same thing occurred during the health care debate. Had they wanted to pass health care legislation before, even if it was just tort reform and the elimination of coverage denials, they had plenty of time to try during the last decade. When you consider that fact, and also the reality that health care has been at different times a part of our national dialogue repeatedly, it becomes crystal clear that they are, and always have been, completely unserious about making any changes to the health care system in this country... so the issue was not that they needed more time to properly evaluate the legislation but rather they simply intended to stall just long enough that the membership in the Senate could hopefully be changed in their favor while making this president look weak and ineffective. Their motivations are similar this time around.

Posted by: zim66 | December 20, 2010 6:55 PM | Report abuse

Lack of civility can be as much an issue to avoid real issues as any. Substantive civility is needed, where, when laws are proposed, the human consequences are discussed. It is not civil to pass laws, or repeal laws which result in human failure, or which lead to injuries, disease, death or poverty.

Posted by: DrMarkJohnHunter | December 20, 2010 7:04 PM | Report abuse

The "No Labels" people are center-left?? In what alternate universe?? They are ALL right-wingers!

BTW, Cynthia Tucker was factually accurate. If the truth hurts, so be it.

Posted by: clampson | December 20, 2010 7:25 PM | Report abuse

Judging by the comments here and on several of your other recent posts, the Post made the right decision to bring you on board. Many of the posters need to read other points of view other than the liberal establishment media versions. Obviously you are having an outstandingly delightful impact - they can't help reading your opinions and commenting in ways that reveal some great cognitive dissonance causing mental anguish grinding its way forward. Keep up the great work.

Posted by: Otiose1 | December 20, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Since when is "Bush lied, people died" a personal slur?

It's the truth!

Can anyone actually prove the actual reason we sent over 4,000+ of our military service members to their deaths?

The reasons for the 2003 invasion of Iraq constantly changed. WMD's? Freeing the Iraqi people of a tyrant? The mushroom cloud?

You tell us!

Or does a personal vendetta against Saddam Hussein for Daddy sound too much like a lie!

Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | December 20, 2010 7:33 PM | Report abuse

The world is full of people who hear what they want to hear. And this is just one more case in point.

The problem with today's Right is that facts are to be damned. The only reason their is a "center left", a Coffee Party, and a No Labels movement is precisely the same reason why the GOP is (still) headed for the dustbin of the Whigs, in due time.

A growing number of my friends (myself included) have abandoned (forever?) the GOP until it gets back to fact-based governing. When primaries/caucases take down erudite, civil men named Castle, Inglis, and Bennett, we MOR folks have a real problem with it.

Let's talk policy, shall we? First, the DREAM Act. No doubt it was flawed and had loopholes that were not palatable to myself and many other MOR's. But, in reality, do you, Ms. Rubin, really think a GOP Congress would fix the loopholes and make DREAM a reality?

Second, Health Care. Obama/Clinton were both running very strongly on reforming our very broken system. Even McCain was to run on something. But, again, do you really think an increasingly anti-government right wing would even consider such a change?

I could go on and on. Oh, and by the way: "Bush Lied, SOLDIERS Died" isn't just sloganeering - it's a FACT. If you like, I'll bring you a dozen who served in Iraq to testify.

Posted by: wxdancer | December 20, 2010 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms. Rubin:

Please stop your sanctimoneous bleatings that your is side is being victimized by the facts. Your argument is so transparently untrue that it sinks to the level of absurdity. Stop trying to peddle dog excrement for tootsie rolls. You ought to be embarrassed and ashamed of yourself.

Posted by: kuvasz | December 20, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

The civility crowd is in rare form tonight

Posted by: sold2u | December 20, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Cynthia Tucker is so vain she hasn't dared to get on TV for years now.

Also, she's doing what all members of sects do, pretending she isn't a sect member in good standing, like that cute Scientology girl in the short skirt inviting you to a seminar, "Improving Your Opportunities for Success and Happiness."

The general nastiness here is testament to how sect members treat the rest of us who don't believe in the wonders of big government. Yup, it's get in their face time.

But, guyz, this sect bidness isn't working, havn't you noticed?
Noooooo, it's not.

Posted by: ZoltanNewberry | December 20, 2010 8:35 PM | Report abuse

The birth in the US does not make one a natural born citizen. It takes two citizen parents and birth on US soil to be a natural born citizen.

Even if aka obama was born in Hawaii he can never be a natural born citizen based on the citizenship of his father.

The birth certificate is a distraction, a ruse.

We have an illegal President in the White House, hopefully this will be investigated by the new Congress.

Posted by: dancingrabbit | December 20, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I thought that it was unfair to demonize the Tea Party crowd for the occasional Obama = monkey poster.

Now how about Jennifer writes a blog about the propriety of impugning the patriotism of a US Senator wounded in the service of his nation. Nah, whining about No Labels is much more fun.

If you can't handle the heat…


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | December 20, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

There are 2 reasons I tend to oppose this START treaty. #1, I think the tendency of Obama and his crew is to give away too much to our enemies, or people who are not exactly our friends.

#2, I think they're rushing through this in the lame duck so they can give Obama another 'win.' I'm tired of these people rushing policy around the holidays when they think we aren't paying attention. It's become a very bad habit of this congress.

I don't think either of these beliefs make me 'unpatriotic' or petty or hyperpartisan.

I think Obama and Co. have a fairly solid record on the latter 2 adjectives though.

Posted by: jmpickett | December 20, 2010 9:29 PM | Report abuse

Lots of labeling going on from the lunatic left (oops, a label, sorry).

Posted by: DocC1 | December 20, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

In fact, under new health care reform your health insurance company will no longer be allowed to cancel your policy if you get sick, we should be doing this already! search online "Wise Health Insurance" it is a good place to find insurance if you have illness like me.

Posted by: williamstaerk | December 21, 2010 3:40 AM | Report abuse

Well Jennifer, you said you liked songs --here's my second Mean Girls version for the WaPo crowd. Your great sense of humor can take it with the spirit it's written in! Just having a laugh :)

(to the tune of Donovan's Jennifer Juniper)

Jennifer Rubin sure blogs upon the Hill
Jennifer Rubin's curmudgeonly and shrill
Is she snarking? I don't think so.
Is she barking? Yes, very low.
Whatcha doing, Jennifer, my love?

Jennifer Rubin's sure blogging up a storm
Jennifer Rubin's ferociously in form
Is she right-wing? Yes, I think so.
Liberal frightening? Yes, ever so.
Whatcha doing, Jennifer, my love?

Jennifer Rubin's performatory hacks
Jennifer Rubin sure longs for what she lacks
Do you like her? Yeah, if Right, Sir.
Would you love her? Meh, if Left, Sir.
Whatcha doing, Jennifer, my love?

Posted by: aardunza | December 21, 2010 4:23 AM | Report abuse

Better: change Liberal to Left-wing!

Posted by: aardunza | December 21, 2010 4:45 AM | Report abuse

GW Bush was an anchor baby. He kept the country from progressing forward. I heard he was born in Paraguay and brought here in the night in a mayonaise jar. No one has seen his real birth certificate. Only the phoney they had made up after he ran for president.

Posted by: jimbobkalina1 | December 21, 2010 5:25 AM | Report abuse

If I had just arrived here from Mars, and had to decide which political party was preferable based on nothing but the comments to the post, I would have no doubt that it is the anyone-but-lefties party. Nearly every leftie post consists of nothing but ad hominem attack, name-calling, and foot-stamping. There is no thought, no rational argument, no glimmer of recognition that anyone who disagrees with them could possibly be doing so in good faith.

As it happens, I didn't just arrive here from Mars, and I have seen this kind of behavior from lefties my entire life. I had hoped that it would be a little better here at WP, but obviously not.

Posted by: Larry3435 | December 21, 2010 8:24 AM | Report abuse

The quote from Ms. Tucker seems accurate to me.

I don't see where you dispute the accuracy of the content, only the tenor.

Am I missing something? Or is this just
'shoot the messenger' day?

Posted by: ostrom808 | December 21, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse


The quote seems accurate? How about this version (assume it is 2005):

"There is simply no modern precedent for the behavior of Democrats in the U.S. Senate. They are not only hyper-partisan, but they are also petty, petulant and unpatriotic, willing to jeopardize national security if they think they can hurt President Bush. Witness their growing resistance to the Iraq war, which most of them voted to authorize a mere two years ago."

Still accurate?

Actually, the quote can't be considered accurate or inaccurate in any meaningful sense, since it contains to factual assertion of any type whatsoever. It is just name calling and ad hominem attack, which was Jennifer's point in the first place.

Posted by: Larry3435 | December 21, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The media debate is in full swing about the President’s huge lame duck session, and what it will mean for his poll numbers. Now as we sit on the precipice of the START treaty ratification, I felt it was important to glance back in the history of this President and see why exactly we are here today. A kind of struggle through the white noise if you will:

Posted by: RyanC1384 | December 21, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

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