Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 19, 2010

BROWN'S TWISTED PERSPECTIVE.... Yesterday, Joe Stack crashed a small plane into an office building in Austin, Texas. Stack, apparently a deranged man with a grudge against the government in general, and the Internal Revenue Service in specific, killed at least three people, including himself.

And while I have no real interest in the "debate" over the killer's bizarre ideology, I couldn't help but notice that Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) seems to think he can relate to the deranged suicide bomber at some level.

Appearing on Fox News soon after Stack flew an airplane into a building, Brown told the national television audience that he "feels for the families" affected by the attack. In the next breath, however, the senator added:

"I don't know if it's related but I can just sense not only in my election, but since being here in Washington, people are frustrated. They want transparency. They want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things affecting their daily lives. So I am not sure if there is a connection, I certainly hope not, but we need to do things better."

Brown added that an incident like the one in Austin is "extreme," but added, "No one likes paying taxes obviously."

So, let me get this straight. An anti-government nut flies an airplane into a building and Scott Brown thinks the incident reminds him of ... his own campaign? Indeed, Brown almost seems to be rationalizing the actions of a domestic terrorist, as if Stack's murders can be understood if we just appreciate how "frustrated" people are.

This guy is a United States senator? Seriously?

Massachusetts, what hath thou wrought?

Brown is quickly proving himself to a dim-witted clown. He's let the far-right adulation go to his head, so much so that Brown actually believes he deserves to be taken seriously. His transition into Republican Celebrity status would be easier if Brown had any idea what he was talking about.

Steve Benen 8:35 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (73)

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But he drives a truck.

Posted by: joshiesan on February 19, 2010 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Stupid is not a flaw with modern conservatives, it's a requirement. I'm curious what Brown thinks people want him to 'do better'. Lie? Filibuster? Protect Wall Street?

Posted by: JoeW on February 19, 2010 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

And he'll be re-elected. Didn't Gibbs say this wasn't a terror attack? Why would he say that if it's not true?

Posted by: Rick on February 19, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

"His transition into Republican Celebrity status would be easier if Brown had any idea what he was talking about."

I have to disagree, Steve. The great majority of Republican 'celebrities' are in exactly the same boat.

Posted by: azportsider on February 19, 2010 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

It will be interesting to see who lines up against him for the 2012 election. He looks to be a short-timer in the senate.

Posted by: CarlP on February 19, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

The Repugnant Ones have a new hero!!

I can see the makings of a Palin-Brown ticket in the future.

Posted by: Mark-NC on February 19, 2010 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Senator Brown's naked ambition has outpaced his intelligence. Joe the Plumber has morphed into Joe the Dumb Senator. Unfortunately he's got plenty of company right there in the Senate.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on February 19, 2010 at 8:50 AM | PERMALINK

Shorter Scott Brown: People are so frustrated and despairing that they are starting to do dangerous and crazy things, like crashing planes and voting for people like me.

Posted by: badpoetry on February 19, 2010 at 8:54 AM | PERMALINK

Are you saying the emperor has no clothes?

Posted by: Basilisc on February 19, 2010 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

If you look at the Boston Globe website, you see people in Mass. are watching him very carefully, and he could be on the verge of intense criticism in the State. He is quoted as saying that Kerry, now his good friend, has changed his whole "philosophy". We'll see.

Posted by: bob h on February 19, 2010 at 8:58 AM | PERMALINK

Even Mourning Joe said this am ...If we went back to the tax rate of Saint Ronnie's era - they would really have something to whine about. He said America has evolved into a nation of whiners and for once I agree with him.

Posted by: john R on February 19, 2010 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Will Fox Noise start counting the first-person pronouns in his speeches and public statements for evidence of narcissism?

Naaaaaaaah.

Posted by: T-Rex on February 19, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

Brown is a fool and Stack was a domestic terrorist.

Stack flew a plane into a government building to make a political statement. How is this any different from 9/11? A Democratic Senator or official attempting to rationalize the 9/11 attackers because they were "frustrated" with American policy would be rightly pilloried and there would be calls for that person's resignation.

Posted by: MW on February 19, 2010 at 9:03 AM | PERMALINK

"They want their elected officials to be accountable and open and talk about the things affecting their daily lives. So I am not sure if there is a connection, I certainly hope not, but we need to do things better."

And he arrives in DC crowing about taking his place as the 41st obstructionist. He's clueless that HE's part of the problem?

"Irony is the stem of the rose."

Posted by: SaintZak on February 19, 2010 at 9:08 AM | PERMALINK

Just imagine if it had been a brown guy doing this.

And what MW said.

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on February 19, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

I agree w/ MW. This was a domestic terror attack. He could have eaten a bullet in the comfort of his own home, but instead he chose to attempt to take the lives of government employees due to policies with which he did not agree. I think we should now profile all white, Christian males as potential terrorists. My only regret is that he is not alive to waterboard him to find out if there are any others like him. Oh wait, I forgot about the Tea Party. There are thousands more like him.

Posted by: Steve on February 19, 2010 at 9:09 AM | PERMALINK

Were Brown and Steve Doocy secretly separated at birth?

Posted by: berttheclock on February 19, 2010 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

MW: political statements resulting from frustrations with paying taxes - you know, which provide for things like Police, Firefighters, sewers, streets, etc. has nothing to do with frustrations of foreign misadventures often based on faulty premises and which often result in the indiscriminate killing of dark people as 'collateral damage'. These two types of political statements are not the same, and attempting to connect them as you're trying to is absurd.

Posted by: terraformer on February 19, 2010 at 9:14 AM | PERMALINK

It's a trailer for 'The Crazies,' which opens at a theater near you.

Posted by: Varecia on February 19, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

These two types of political statements are not the same, and attempting to connect them as you're trying to is absurd.

No no, it's not the motivation: it's the tactic. Flying a plane into a building for political/ideological terrorism. The man was a suicide bomber, regardless of his cause. That he was not a member of a group (as far as we now know) is interesting, but doesn't mean that this poor insane frot was not trying to send a terroristic message.
The Right thinks in terms of brown people terrorism...

Posted by: MR Bill on February 19, 2010 at 9:21 AM | PERMALINK

Those 9/11 terrorists thought they were carrying out God's will, and I guess that's understandable in a way. I mean everybody wants to do God's will, right?

Posted by: Virginia on February 19, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

Flying planes into the WTC was extreme, OBVIOUSLY, but no one likes their country and region occupied by foreign troops. Right Mr. Brown?

Posted by: Jay on February 19, 2010 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

Bombing government buildings in the 60's was extreme, OBVIOUSLY, but no one likes their tax dollars taken and then wasted. Right Mr. Brown? Call Mr. Ayers and tell him so.

Posted by: Jay on February 19, 2010 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Terraformer,

Neither Stack nor the 9/11 attackers made political statements. Both attacked innocent people going about their daily lives because the attackers disagreed with US government policies. The fact that you think one set of those policies is reasonable and the other you strongly disagree with is irrelevant to the actions of the attackers, or consequences of those actions -- in both cases the deaths of innocent people who had no control over the setting of those govenrment policies. Both performed identical acts for identical reasons. Both are terrorists.

Posted by: MW on February 19, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Brown added "No one likes paying taxes obviously."

No, but grown-ups do just that, along with brushing their teeth and eating their spinach. . .

Posted by: DAY on February 19, 2010 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Cue the Cheney family to come forward and tell America how Obama failed to make us safe from Joseph Stack--domestic terrorist.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 19, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

What MW said. kudos.

Posted by: Rathskeller on February 19, 2010 at 9:38 AM | PERMALINK

Just to be clear, in my post above, I did not mean to say that these acts were not politically motivated -- both clearly were. Just that they were not verbal statements of disagreement, but were in fact terrorist acts.

Posted by: MW on February 19, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

MW: I think I understand what you're saying (and what MR Bill said), but I disagree that both instances are not political statements. You say that both attacked innocents--which is true--but then you state that the attacks were because of government policies. How is a rationale as against gov. policies not a political statement?

And no, I don't think that one or both of the policies I mentioned are reasonable at all--but I think that the motivations (as MR Bill alludes, it wasn't that but the tactic--agreed that was the same) were different. And one of them at least made some kind of sense to me, although I disagree with the tactic absolutely. I agree that both are (rather, were) terrorists.

Posted by: terraformer on February 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

Didn't Ward Churchill get hounded out of academia by the far right for saying essentially the same thing about the 9/11 actors?

Posted by: barry on February 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

MW: caught your next message after I posted. Understood, and agreed. Thanks.

Posted by: terraformer on February 19, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

What we have is a semantic argument over the meaning of the word terrorism. If you asked me, terrorism is a tactic, it is used against innocents but an essential component is trying to change govt policy by inducing fear that others will commit similar acts; so if this is one man on a rant, it i not terrorism by my definition; if it is one act with the threat that others will try to do the same, inducing fear, then it is.

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on February 19, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

As to whether Joseph Stack was a terrorist the answer has to do with what he expected to achieve. Timothy McVeigh and Osama Bin Laden, both terrorists, both expected their terrorism to change the world. McVeigh expected Southern America to rise up against its Yankee overlords (or something like that) and Bin Laden expected America to abandon it's Saudi bases. Bin Laden was right, McVeigh was wrong, but both expected the world to change as a result of their actions.

I think Stack expected the American people to respond to his act of terrorism by pressuring the IRS into more humane treatment of taxpayers. If so he was a domestic terrorist.

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 19, 2010 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Last night on Facebook I saw all sorts of postings from Teabag types lauding Stack as some sort of hero for striking a blow against the corrupt and evil Federal Government.

The same folks are also saying Obama is weak on terror and is failing to protect us from terrorists who fly planes into buildings.

So Obama is to blame because he didn't prevent one of our heroes from flying a plane into building, killing innocent people in a valiant blow against a corrupt and oppressive government.

My head hurts.

Posted by: Eeyore on February 19, 2010 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

Don't laugh, right wing militiamen and even IRS-hating Kamikazes are now part of the Republican base however much they may want to hide that fact by blaming liberals for being so condesceding of conservative "ideas."

Posted by: Ted Frier on February 19, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

Ron Byers: Cue the Cheney family to come forward and tell America how Obama failed to make us safe from Joseph Stack--domestic terrorist.

Judging from the photos of Stack I saw this morning, our president should have known he was a dangerous terrorist threat. All the signs were there in plain view.

He was a bass player in a band. A bass player!

Posted by: chrenson on February 19, 2010 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Tbogg calls him Senator Trucknutz and that works on so many levels.

Posted by: Ted the Slacker on February 19, 2010 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Not only did Stack fly a plane into a building, he set his house on fire and attempted to off his wife and son first. When all is said and done, the first incident may have been the intended statement and the 2nd just the punctuation at the end of the sentence. But innuendo and false analogy fit much better with Brown's limited abilities.

Posted by: DTR on February 19, 2010 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

Joe Stack?

A domestic terrorist and nothing more or anything less.

People who think he had some valid point to make, which I would imagine would be overwhelmingly Tea Bagian, as well as Glen Beck, Bill O'Lielly and Rush Limbaugh, are complicit in this ACT OF DOMESTIC TERRORISM.

Posted by: tellybelly on February 19, 2010 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

If he and Sarah Palin ever mated they would usher in the Idiocalypse....

Posted by: johnnymags on February 19, 2010 at 10:04 AM | PERMALINK

Given the specifics of the case, I expect the rightwingnuts to immediately call for the profiling of middle aged white male software engineers who have their own company.

Posted by: gregor on February 19, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

I hope to God my state comes to its senses at the next election and boots Brown back to the gutter where he belongs.

Posted by: anonymous on February 19, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

Ironic though that one of the reasons Stack was frustrated with the govt was its inability to come up with comprehensive healthcare reform - What say you about that Senator Brown?

Posted by: ckelly on February 19, 2010 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

I like paying taxes. In the current state budgetary climate and given my income level, I will be voting for politicians who want me to pay more in taxes. Roads don't build themselves.

Posted by: Ron Mexico on February 19, 2010 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

take the man at his word: scott brown's campaign was like the actions of a suicide bomber. if you insist, senator.

Posted by: benjoya on February 19, 2010 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

You all need to read Mr. Stack's last message.

Sounds like he was 'mad as hell and not going to take it any more."

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2010/0218102stack1.html

Posted by: anonymous on February 19, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Death is a rather extreme way to get out of paying taxes, but you have to admit it's effective.

Posted by: Virginia on February 19, 2010 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

His transition into Republican Celebrity status would be easier if Brown had any idea what he was talking about.

No, that qualifies him perfectly.

Posted by: mister moonlight on February 19, 2010 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

The truly amazing thing is, Mr Stacks' last comments were an indictment of capitalism, and support for "communism".

That the Right holds him as a hero(!??!), without knowing the facts is just another example of their exploitive agenda.

And of course, when WHITE people attack Govt. agencys, they must be heros!! Right??

Posted by: Al B Tross on February 19, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, and he liberated several other people from paying taxes!

We should really encourage this meme in Teaparty circles. "You know what would really stick it to the government? If we killed ourselves so they couldn't tax us anymore!"

Posted by: Mysticdog on February 19, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Al B. Tross,

The right doesn't understand the meaning of the words "communism," "socialism," "tyranny" or "fascism." In their minds they all mean "something I don't like." Also, all of their opponents are Hitler and every struggle is WWII.

Posted by: Unstable Isotope on February 19, 2010 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Brown thinks the incident reminds him of ... his own campaign?

Analogizing the irrational acts of a single individual with the irrational act of a million voters? Yeah, I can see that.

Posted by: majun on February 19, 2010 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

MW- If you read Stacks manifest, you'd realize he put the blame squarely upon the shoulders of his accountant, the IRS and the "Big Government"- pretty much hot button political targets if you ask me.

Posted by: johnnymags on February 19, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Brown is quickly proving himself to a dim-witted clown.

He proved that in his campaign. And a whole lot of my fellow Massachusetts voters evidently thought that's what they wanted for Senator.

Of course, my state's Democrats didn't help any by rubber-stamping Martha Coakley's nomination. My dog could have run a better campaign, and could have articulated more convincing reasons to be elected.

Posted by: Cap'n Chucky on February 19, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

It's so ironic that any right-winger would stick up for Stack. The right claims to be all about personal responsibility, but if you read Stack's whole rant, he is clearly an extreme example of the type of guy who wants to blame everyone else for his own failings. He fell for one of those tax-denier spiels when he lived in California and, surprise surprise, ran afoul of the IRS, and then he later drained his IRA and it didn't occur to him to pay the appropriate taxes and penalties. He was not a responsible citizen but a selfish rich jerk, and Scott Brown wants to raise him up as a kind of folk hero?!

Posted by: Nuria on February 19, 2010 at 11:59 AM | PERMALINK

After having read Mr. Stack's online comments, I would suggest that he acted not from ideology or political motives but from insanity. It looks as if he was driven over the edge by a combination of his own bad business mistakes and bad advice from people he trusted, which led to his problems with the IRS. He implies that those problems led to his first divorce. More than anything else, he was unhappy that there seemed to him to be one set of laws for the wealthy and another for everyone else, and that nobody in the government cared about what he (or, by extension, anyone in the middle class) wanted or needed. Mentally stable people are able to deal with these kinds of frustrations. Mentally unstable people cannot. That he frightened his wife and daughter into staying in a motel the night before all this happened and that he set his house on fire -- not to mention flying a plane into an office building and causing his own death and the death of at least one innocent person -- leads me to believe that he was irrational, not political. This is no excuse for his actions, but to call them terrorism, and to quote selectively from his online message in portentous tones to support that characterization as NPR did this morning, is both stupid and unproductive, IMHO.

Posted by: Soprano on February 19, 2010 at 12:00 PM | PERMALINK

Guess I'll have to scrape off that old "Don't blame me, I'm from Massachusetts" bumper sticker.

Shessh! What an embarrassment!

Posted by: Chesire11 on February 19, 2010 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Soprano,

I would suggest that the 9/11 terrorists were also dealing with their frustrations in an irrational way. The same goes for Timothy McVeigh. The Fort Hood killer. The Virginia Tech shooter. And pretty much anyone who commits premeditated murder.

You're looking at the causes of his actions. Whether or not a person has committed an act of terrorism should depend upon the intended result of that persons action. Stack's suicide manifesto made plenty of references to his intentions: changing our government and inspiring others to make the same irrational act he did.

How is his action any different from that of a suicide bomber? Typically, those recruited to strap a bomb on have some character issue or past that makes them willing martyr material.

Posted by: chrenson on February 19, 2010 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

"No one likes paying taxes" is an over-simplification - just what "the media" likes, and "the public" swallows - of what Stack was enranged about.

He was upset because the Catholic church, arguably the most extensive pedophile network in the world, was unaccountable to anyone and paid no taxes. Wall Street businesses gambled and lost, and were then bailed out by the taxpayer, while his businesses were allowed to simply fail.

For all he knew, a lot of the people working in that building might have agreed with him.

Scott Brown and Stack have a lot in common too - both obsessed with their own importance.

Posted by: Squeaky McCrinkle on February 19, 2010 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

@ Virginia on February 19, 2010 at 9:25 AM
I mean everybody wants to do God's will, right?

That would rather depend onto what god you're stuck on,,, not to mention the effect of what version of your chosen god, you may prefer.

Posted by: cwolf on February 19, 2010 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

Soprano,

It can be easily argued that anyone who sets out to commit mass murder of innocent people is unhinged. It wouldn't matter if Stack included the tooth fairy as one of the objects of his rant and it doesn't matter whether he brought his problems on himself or not. What is relevant are his actions. He did not pour gasloine on himself and set himself ablaze as a protest against the IRS, the government, the banks or anything else. He did not hang himself in the town square with a placard around his neck giving his reasons. He did not jump off the roof of City Hall in protest as Gary Cooper's character threatened to do in Frank Capra's classic movie "Meet John Doe".

Stack took a plane and flew it into a government building in a act of attempted mass murder of innocent people (some of whom almost undoubtedly were there to deal with their own IRS problems) in objection to government actions that he disagreed with. This is by definition, a terrorist act. His mental stability is irrelevant.

Posted by: MW on February 19, 2010 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

"He was a bass player in a band. A bass player!"
Posted by: chrenson on February 19, 2010 at 9:54 AM

That is a shock.
It's usually the keyboards guy.

Posted by: smartalek on February 19, 2010 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Brown added that an incident like the one on 9/11 is "extreme," but added, "No one likes having their village bombed by predator drones obviously."

Posted by: Winkandanod on February 19, 2010 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

wow... you are really *looking* for a way to find a flaw in this guy because this article is a total stretch. Pathetic.

Posted by: Marge on February 19, 2010 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

"Massachusetts, what hath thou wrought?"

Well, liberal Bay Staters wanted to teach the rest of us a lesson. I'm not sure what lesson they intended to teach, but the one I learned is that Liberal Bay Staters are dicks.

Posted by: CT on February 19, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

@ Marge
To consider calling out a statement by a sitting U.S. Senator that explicitly identifies an attempted mass murder with his own election and validates both as an expression of how "people are frustrated" as a "stretch" in a "way to find a flaw with this guy"...
This is the point at which I usually tell people to seek help, but in this case, it's clear that you are way beyond that.
But we do have to thank you for so vividly illustrating the very deep pathology of the current iteration of the American right wing.

Posted by: smartalek on February 19, 2010 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

There can be no doubt that Texas is harboring more terrorists who are willing to fly planes into buildings. Under the Bush Doctrine how much notice is needed before mounting an invasion to overthrow their regime, deprive them of their weapons, and install a democratically elected government?

And for the double-digit IQ right-wing morons reading this -- yes, that was snark. More accurately, it was pure mockery of your reactionary psychological fixations that pose as "beliefs."

Posted by: whatever on February 19, 2010 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK
"He was a bass player in a band. A bass player!"
Posted by: chrenson on February 19, 2010 at 9:54 AM

That is a shock. It's usually the keyboards guy.

As anyone who's ever played in a band can tell you, it's usually the drummer

Posted by: G.Kerby on February 19, 2010 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

I hesitate a bit to jump on Brown heavily for this one statement. We all saw how quickly the right jumped on anyone trying to explain why the terrorists attacked us on 9/11 to accusations that they were excusing or justifying those attacks. Perhaps Brown only meant to explain why this person did as he did although he does seem to step over into excusing when he says, "we need to do things better" since that appears to be an admission that there was a government failure to act as Stack would wish. If Brown qualified his statement by noting that nothing justified this violence, then I would be willing to count this as simply infelicitous language.

(Forgive my belaboring the point but) It is often important to understand the motives of criminals especially if they represent a group that may do more of these acts. It may even be possible that such a person has some legitimate grievance but acted on it in a completely unacceptable way. Perhaps I'm not cynical enough, but I'm giving Brown the benefit of the doubt for now. There will be plenty of time to make judgments about him over the next (hopefully very) few years.

Posted by: arithmoquine on February 19, 2010 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Senator Centerfold says what all FOX/Cheney/Palin crowd think: The professor who shot her colleges in AL did it because she is a far-left liberal and thats what they all do because they are dangerous. So she is a left wing domestic terrorist. Patriot Stack, on the other hand, crashed his plane into that building and killed those people because the government was mean to him. This is what any tax payer would do, so that is completely justified and since he is right winger, it can't be called domestic terrorism. Go it?

"Blame Me, I'm From Massachusetts!"

Posted by: sam on February 19, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

"As anyone who's ever played in a band can tell you, it's usually the drummer"
Posted by: G.Kerby on February 19, 2010 at 2:36 PM

Zep, Who, A7X, Spinal Tap, sure.

But among the Dead, it was always the keyboardist. They always did march to the tune of a different...

Posted by: smartalek on February 19, 2010 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

Joe Stack wrote, in his final note,

"I can only hope that the numbers [of dead] to be white washed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less."

He is no one's hero. He was a terrorist.

Posted by: Wally East on February 19, 2010 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

Senator and former male nude model Scott Brown has a history of saying things and thinking, so to speak, later. I look forward to many bon mots in his remaining time in office.

In my band it was the sound man. Although the drummer...

Posted by: vertalio on February 19, 2010 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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