Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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December 19, 2010

WHY MUST HE BE SUCH AN ANGRY OLD MAN.... Most good stories have heroes, and when it comes to the story of repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the list of heroes is wonderfully long.

And then there are the villains.

If John McCain gets any more hostile toward his Senate colleagues, they might consider having him go through the metal detector before he enters the Capitol.

Saturday's debate on the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was only half an hour old when the Arizona Republican burst onto the floor from the cloakroom, hiked up his pants and stalked over to his friend Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). Ignoring Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who had the floor, McCain hectored the men noisily for a few moments, waving his arms for emphasis.

When McCain finally stormed off, Durbin shook his head in exasperation and Lieberman smiled. A minute later, McCain returned -- he had apparently remembered another element of his grievance -- and resumed his harangue.

Watching McCain rail endlessly yesterday was a genuinely painful experience. In one sense, he was practically embracing the caricature of himself, lashing out as a bitter, cantankerous ass. I kept expected McCain to start shaking his fist at clouds and demanding that children stay off his lawn.

But that's really not that unusual anymore, and it's only part of a larger picture. McCain wasn't just an angry old man yesterday; what we saw was darker and uglier. The Arizona senator on the floor yesterday, with a series of cringe-worthy tantrums, was hateful and filled with bile. McCain was even sarcastic at times, as if he almost relished the role.

This wasn't about policy. By all appearances, this was personal.

When we look back at the apartheid-loving segregationists of the 1950s and 1960s, most decent people see racists and misguided monsters. Yesterday, it seemed as if McCain decided, perhaps deliberately, that he wanted to be that guy for the 21st century. Why? I obviously can't read the conservative senator's mind, but it seemed to have something to with (a) his intense disgust for President Obama and anything he wants; and (b) his revulsion towards gay people.

If you missed the display, you missed McCain arguing:

* The tripartisan majority supporting repeal are acting "in direct repudiation" to the wishes of the public (which, incidentally, strongly supports repeal).

* Apropos of nothing, McCain said he's launched this crusade because, "You go up to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Marines are up there with no legs, none. You've got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs."

* At one point, McCain said, "I'm aware that this vote will probably pass today ... and there will be high fives all over the liberal bastions of America. And we'll see the talk shows tomorrow, a bunch of people talking about how great it is. Most of them never have served in the military or maybe not even known someone in the military." (That will be news to the decorated war heroes who voted for repeal yesterday, including Jim Webb and Daniel Inouye.)

This isn't another "Whatever happened to the old McCain?" piece, which we've all seen too many times in recent years. Rather, this is to suggest McCain has done more than make the transition from "maverick" to petulant right-winger. Yesterday, the man waving his arms on the Senate floor was a misanthropic hack who's abandoned basic decency, and trashed any hopes he might have had about a respectable legacy.

Steve Benen 10:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

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Comments

This is another situation best listed under the heading of, "Sir, have you no shame?"

Posted by: K in VA on December 19, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

McCain always has been a hack, and always will be. The real answer to "whatever happened to the old McCain" is that the "old McCain" was just a different sort of hackery.

Posted by: bob on December 19, 2010 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Look, anyone that chooses Palin as a running mate
has to be slightly mad.
To be serious, I have always thought McCain in the beginning stages of dementia.

Posted by: joan on December 19, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

"Whatever happened to the old McCain?"

Nothing. This is the old John McCain.

He just knows he's never going to be President so he doesn't have to hide it anymore.

This is exactly who he is, and exactly who he's always been.

Posted by: cld on December 19, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Amen. McCain is a scary angry old mental case whose hatred of Obama colors his already questionable judgment. Pres. Obama has been unfailingly gracious towards him since winning the Presidency which I suspect makes him even angrier. I further believe there is no one more grateful McCain didn't win than Mrs. McCain. Nothing says marriage longevity more than a 3,000 mile geographical distance and numerous houses.

Posted by: Kathryn on December 19, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Thank God this senile old nut is not our President. We all would have been incinerated by now...

Posted by: George on December 19, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I for one will be very glad to see Grumpy McSame sent off to the rest home for permanent retirement. That he was ever considered presidential is a sad reflection on the state of american politics. and don't get me started on his choice for veep...

The US political system is broken, and the senate is perhaps the most egregious example. This lame assed hack was one of the Keating 5, cooked off a missle and started the USS Forrestal fire, crashed a couple more expensive warplanes, and yet is the most popular guest on meet the press with Dancin' Dave. we are so screwed.

Posted by: Phil in Denver on December 19, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

I assume Kerry, another decorated vet, voted yea.

One can only envision what a McCain administration would have been like. A combination of Orwell and Kafka (or Joseph Heller for pure amusement), a delightfully structured police state with that wonderful touch of wacky unpredictability.

Posted by: Mudge on December 19, 2010 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

Metal detector? He should have to pass through a mental detector. I guess he's not content to be history's sorest loser. He wants biggest a**hole to go with it.

Posted by: JoeW on December 19, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

"Apropos of nothing, McCain said he's launched this crusade because, "You go up to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Marines are up there with no legs, none. You've got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs."

That is the non sequitur of the decade!

Someone should have calmly asked the bigoted Senator from Arizona, with DADT being the law of the land, how he could be so sure that one of those Marines with no legs was not a gay man who paid a terrible price serving a country that did not accept him for who he is.

America is a better place today because of this repeal and it is a huge victory for President Obama, which I think is the primary reason for McCain's lunacy on this - visceral antipathy to anything that hands this POTUS a win, even though the real winner here is the United States of America and its people.

Posted by: dcshungu on December 19, 2010 at 10:38 AM | PERMALINK

The "old" McCain the press lionized was simply an invention. Back in the 1980s, the guy was an intolerable bully, inserting himself into every local political battle with the intensity of a mafia don. He swung his weight around, picked on hapless clerks and public officials, and behaved with the boorish manner of a narcissistic rageoholic. In 2000, most local GOP elected officials here supported Bush in the primary. They hated McCainfor many specific and personal reasons. One exception: thuggish Sheriff Joe Arpaio who recognized a kindred spirit.

Posted by: walt on December 19, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

A President and an Almost President had similar roots: A famous father (President, Admiral), a pampered upbringing, a life of privilege, and no stand-alone achievements.

Both men are contemporaries of mine; the one a couple of years behind me at our alma mater. As I approach 70 I often find myself looking back at was, at what might have been. Perhaps Senator McCain is doing likewise.

Posted by: DAY on December 19, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's problem isn't dementia, nor is it a hatred of Obama. Remember he was a legacy appointment to the Naval Academy and a legacy career while in the Navy. He was a poor student and not a very good pilot. If he hadn't spent all the years in the Hanoi Hilton he would be long retired from a legacy job in the defense industry.

John McCain's problem has something to do with some internal demon we don't know anything about. For McCain DADT is personal.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 19, 2010 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Could we take another look at McCain's concessions speech of 2008, I thought he said something about working with this president for the good of the country.
Sometimes he looks so pumped up with rage that he will explode - we can only hope!

Posted by: js on December 19, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Maybe one of the Sunday talk shows should invite him on to discuss why he is so irrelevant.

Posted by: David on December 19, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

I know a man, a conservative, who worked for a McCain campaign a few years ago in Arizona. He told me McCain was the meanest, most venal, vengeful, egomaniacal and profane person he'd ever met. And he also voted for Obama rather than the man for whom he had worked, saying that McCain should never, ever be president. I wasn't surprised at his description of McCain. It's hardly a secret. Why is he constantly propped up by the Media as a straight shooting hero?

Posted by: T2 on December 19, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

How does McCain know the vets at Bethesda and Walter Reed have no limbs? Who did he send there to see? He surely didn't go. He does everything he can to avoid vets including voting against them.

Posted by: Schtick on December 19, 2010 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

David, I am sure one of them will have him own again, but no one will mention the 800 pound gorilla in the room. That would be too embarrassing for the bookers.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 19, 2010 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

"on" not "own" although McCain does own irrelevance.

Posted by: Ron Byers on December 19, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

I heartily second those commenters above who remind us of just how hideous the world would be right now if McCain and Palin had won instead of Obama and Biden. It is always the first thing that comes to mind when I read stories like this.

McCain's incredible flip-flops on almost every policy position he's ever held is really all I have to remind my Republican friends of when they criticize Obama. I've yet to receive anything less than a look of chagrined recognition at the nightmare they almost brought to the US. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: Kiweagle on December 19, 2010 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

What a disgrace to our nation. Does McCain actually believe that no gay soldier ever wound up at Walter Reed? Sorry, sad, flimsy reasoning.

Posted by: meta on December 19, 2010 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

While McCain's antics earlier career antics in DC had the whiff of common greed and opportunism, he is now settled into a contradictory state something more like light dementia. But the special torment he has reserved for issues of gender make me wonder if there was a time in his life when John McCain turned, for comfort, to another man, and now he is battering that McCain back into the closet. Maybe regarding DADT, he is more of a casualty than we realize.

Posted by: labradog on December 19, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Another senator who was duly reelected in the November 2 debacle ~ safe to vent rage and hatred until 2016.

Posted by: withay on December 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

From the desk of Senator John McCain:

We don't want no damn n!ggers in the military either!

Posted by: SadOldVet on December 19, 2010 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

Besides being abrasive and abusive to his Senate colleagues, mcCain is also a liar. In 2006 he said he would support the repeal of DADT if the military agreed. They did, he bailed. He also lied when he said this is not what the American people voted for in the last election. Polls showed 77% of Americans supported repeal of DADT. He also forgets we voted against George Bush's Iraq War policies in 2006. But immediately after the election, led by McCain, they moved additional military forces into Iraq, and then claimed credit for victory even though history shows it was the Sunni Awakening which started two years earlier that laid the groundwork for much of the success attributed to the post-2006 election Iraq build-up. Before I retired I often ran meetings and conferences as a fed. And while it is necessary to hear everyone out and factor in every point of view, when someone disruptive and immature like McCain tried to shut down the discussion I did one of two things. In they were off-site, I said goodbye and put their extension on mute. If they were in my face I told them they had only two options; they could either shut up or leave the room so that we could continue our work. McCain's Senate colleagues need to call this rude bastard out and really lay into him. That's how you deal with an unreasonable bully.

Posted by: max on December 19, 2010 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Why does John McCain think he is Mr. Military? There are plenty of military veterans in politics. He's not typical of them. He's arrogant and he's horrible.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on December 19, 2010 at 11:35 AM | PERMALINK

Judging by the comments I've read here and elsewhere, it's official: John McCain hates America, and America hates him right back.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on December 19, 2010 at 11:50 AM | PERMALINK

Now there is one less reason to avoid the draft
... and one less way to get out of military service, once enlisted

Once we get women into combat, and into the draft, white straight males will finally have equality

Posted by: Neo on December 19, 2010 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

Marines missing legs, Senator? You mean like Eric Alva?

Posted by: Dave on December 19, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

All those lonely years in a prisoner of war camp, who knows who or where McCain turned turned for solace and relief. It's probably better, at this point, neither to ask nor to tell.

Posted by: Peter G on December 19, 2010 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

Some people become irrationally angry and agressive as they age. I don't recall Helen Thomas making anti-semitic remarks until very recently in her long career. She and McCain are both up there in years and may be victims of a type of aging brain. This is not a justification, merely a possible explanation.

Posted by: Katherine Calkin on December 19, 2010 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

That is the non sequitur of the decade!

Not in Crazy Old Bigot McCain's head, where "You go up to Bethesda Naval Hospital, Marines are up there with no legs, none. You've got Marines at Walter Reed with no limbs" is immediately followed by "...and they're all straight, and haven't they gone through enough already without having to serve next to some faggot?"

Posted by: shortstop on December 19, 2010 at 12:29 PM | PERMALINK

Why are we acting like Creepy McInsane's behavior is so beyond the pale?

It's congress.

Where Representives yell "You lie!" at the president.
Where Veeps tell Senators to "Go fuck yourself."
Where Male BPubicans shout down female Democrats.

Posted by: Winkandanod on December 19, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

"Why does John McCain think he is Mr. Military? There are plenty of military veterans in politics. He's not typical of them. He's arrogant and he's horrible."

I've always wondered the same thing. It's not like he was militarily accomplished. I've never really heard anything insightful from him.

It's more like he has a military fetish.

Posted by: SaintZak on December 19, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is a lumberjack, and he's OK.

Posted by: JW on December 19, 2010 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know the man so I'm obviously groping in the dark, but to me his behavior sounds like medication side effects. In some individuals beta blockers can cause irritability and mild cognitive impairment which might present like this. Chronic overconsumption of caffeine has been shown to produce heightened irritability and poor impulse control. It certainly wouldn't hurt for the senator to sit down with his primary care physician and go over his medications and diet.

Posted by: Crusty the Clown on December 19, 2010 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

A sense of preordained triumphalism was thwarted by a black man and a huge mistake of a running mate, who happened to be a woman who outshone him and ended up demonstrating totally that she did not know her place in his worldview.

John McBlame. It's everybody else's fault. And if he goes down pointing fingers, then he will be vindicated, and the world will know.

"...bitter, cantankerous ass." Mr. B.

That's the bare minimum.

Posted by: burro on December 19, 2010 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

js: Could we take another look at McCain's concessions speech of 2008, I thought he said something about working with this president for the good of the country.

That speech reminds me of nothing so much as that old "M*A*S*H" episode, where Frank Burns learns that Col. Potter is coming to take over and he's losing his command. He's the very model of grace and calm deportment...right up until the moment he enters Hot Lips' tent and closes the door behind him, when he starts screaming and stomping his feet like a two-year-old.

Posted by: Chet on December 19, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Well said.

Posted by: king buzzo on December 19, 2010 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

McCain is quite obviously crazed with envy and spite at being beaten by a Black Man!!

It has been his driving motivation since 2008.

He's not merely in early dementia, he is a vicious hothead, and yes, I think your recommendation that they check him for weapons is a truly wise one.

Posted by: jjm on December 19, 2010 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

McCain got backstabbed by his former campaign fluffer, Joe Lieberman. Nice to see that it happens to everybody!

Posted by: Trollop on December 19, 2010 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe he has some Styx up his ass.

Posted by: Roger Ailes on December 19, 2010 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

We would all be better off if the old fucker had burned up on the Forrestal. Seems he was pretty damn close to where the fire started. It's like Peter Sellers, The Gardener made it into the Senate, no disrespect to Sellers, I liked him.

Posted by: tko on December 19, 2010 at 3:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm an educated man who follows the news religiously, and during elections, practically obsessively. I had fifty people over to my tiny house on Election Day 2008 to watch the returns. My point being, I'm pretty well informed about politics and politicians.

The other day I had to stop and think for two full seconds who it was that Obama was running against in 2008. He somehow left the election not only less influential than he'd been before (which is a risk you take), but actually less famous. How the hell you pull that off, I don't know, but he did it.

That right there would be enough to explain 99% of McCain's tantrums.

Posted by: Matt on December 19, 2010 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if history is repeating itself. McCain went down in Vietnam because he turned around to go after someone that had shot at him. That temper brought him down then too.

Posted by: tko on December 19, 2010 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

To hell with McCain. While you're pointing a finger at Republicans, The One is fixing to pre-emptively cut Social Security.

http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=EB5E9565-C4A8-7E36-747EADB1F4AAB099

Posted by: TaosJohn on December 19, 2010 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

"painful" experience? It sounds hilarious.

Posted by: daphne on December 19, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

McCain himself summed it up best in a delightful comment to his wife in 2008:
"Fuck you! Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!!!"

Posted by: MikeG on December 19, 2010 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Most of them never have served in the military or maybe not even known someone in the military."

Yes, most people in this country have not served in the military, much less in the past decade and a half under the rule of DADT. McCain is amongst the latter as well.

The thing is, there are people serving in the military today and there are people leading the military who have a much stronger grasp on what the military today is composed of and what will benefit it. They generally support removing the DADT rule. The problem is, the Senate was overruling military policy and forcing DADT to remain as a policy.

The vote yesterday didn't repeal DADT as a military policy; it repealed the legislation that forced the military to follow that particular policy.

Now, DADT as a policy will soon go away, in large part because the milatary leadership of the armed forces are almost unanimously against it as a policy. In that respect, yesterday's vote was its death knell.

But make no mistake. The folks who keep trumpeting about state's rights and keeping power locally were fighting tooth and nail to keep the military from adjusting or removing military policies.

I don't know anyone in the military today, although I do know my fair share of recently-serving folks. My dad, who retired in 1991 after 23 years of service, would have fallen into the McCain camp as well; the guys I know who have served more recently, though, are generally much more tolerant (Marines, for whatever reason, not so much so). McCain is stuck in a 1960/1970's world view (remember: his favorite band is ABBA). Still, though, he should have been able to get behind military leaders making military decisions. It's a shame his bigotry outweighed his values.

Posted by: Tom Dibble on December 19, 2010 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Even his best buddy Lieberman "betrayed" him on this issue, by not only taking the exactly opposite position but being an activist of sorts at whipping up the vote. That must have stung, too.

Posted by: exlibra on December 19, 2010 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Funny the Marines (or their commandant) should be against the repeal. Every gay friend I have states that Marines are the first to have their legs up in the air.

Posted by: dms on December 19, 2010 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

Careful next time you dine out at a restaurant with gay waiters, senator.

Posted by: beejeez on December 19, 2010 at 9:23 PM | PERMALINK

McCain has decided he'd rather be remembered as this generation's Strom Thurmond than be remembered as a footnote in biographies of a mentally impaired hillbilly he is responsible for elevating to the public stage.

Posted by: James Probis on December 19, 2010 at 9:33 PM | PERMALINK

This is a man who has been incompetent at everything he ever did since childhood - he only got into the Naval Academy on his family, only became a Naval Aviator because his father and grandfather were "carrier admirals" - who when it came to doing things on his own failed (the Navy was going to get rid of him in 1968 had he not managed to get himself shot down through his own incompetence, he was slid out of the Navy for failure to perform, and his only "success" has been in the Senate (where he has survived because so many gave him the benefit of the doubt as a "national hero") who displayed his incompetence again for the last and final time in 2008.

All that, and he's likely senile now (getting really really angry when people disagree with you is a sign of Alzheimer's)

He is a sad disgrace, but it's just him finally arriving at where he has no excuses left for what he has been all his life.

Posted by: TCinLA on December 19, 2010 at 11:23 PM | PERMALINK

They should check this man for weapons especially any time he is near the President. I actually thought of that at the inauguration. And yes, I call it likely that when he was a POW, he ate somebody.

Posted by: Reynardine on December 19, 2010 at 11:59 PM | PERMALINK

When will McCain understand that he is yesterday's news?

Posted by: Claimsman on December 20, 2010 at 2:21 AM | PERMALINK

Wait -- you think John McCain had basic decency? Really? When was that? When he fought against observing MLK Day? When he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar with the Keating Five? When he got run out of the Navy of his father and grandfather?

McCain has always been an ass. Twas always thus.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on December 20, 2010 at 6:55 AM | PERMALINK

In addition to Sen. Lieberman, I would also like to thank Cindy McCain, who supported DADT - even if it was only for a day. If McCain blew up on the senate floor because of his perceived betrayals, can you imagine what must have went down in the McCain household?

Posted by: Marko on December 20, 2010 at 8:08 AM | PERMALINK

And yes, I call it likely that when he was a POW, he ate somebody.

Not that I'm doubting it, but this made me laugh extremely hard.

Posted by: shortstop on December 20, 2010 at 9:07 AM | PERMALINK

Dude, you REALLY have to lay off the boner plls.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on December 20, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Rage is often an early symptom of Alzheimers.

Posted by: bfr on December 20, 2010 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

McCain's legacy and the curse to the country is Sara Palin. He's become a sad, pathetic old man.

Posted by: hank on December 20, 2010 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

I also agree that McCain is showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer. I said it during the Presidential campaign when one day he was saying one thing and the next day he was saying the opposite and I will say it again too. When he takes his losing his case for DADT so personal and acts like the angry old man he is, you have to question why he is so against this. Did a gay soldier preposition him during Vietnam and his embarrassment over that lead to this anti-gay legacy?

Posted by: Joe D on December 20, 2010 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Sinjin ("St. John") McSame obviously has hardening of the arteries in what's left of his brain. During the election, he effectively called Obama a traitor who was selling out our military in order to get elected. Pathetic, but no one bothered to pay attention because none of his spastic incoherence is ever worth serious discussion except in all those Sunday morning "exclusives" he hands out like Mardi Gras beads to the bizarrely sycophantic media . If anyone actually took seriously any of the crap he spouts, the campaign would have come to a halt right then while the nation discussed whether his political opponent was, in fact, putting himself first (like everyone else in the minority party).

Like Undivine Sarah, he is never asked anything because his insights might be useful, but only to explore whatever ignorant tomfoolery he's up to at the moment. If it were up to him, the US would be at war with North Korea, Iran, and Russia (in supposed defense of Georgia). Three more wars would not need to be paid for, of course (IOKIYAR), but it would be interesting to find more troops to slake his bloodlust.

Grampy doesn't get questioned seriously about anything because he's clearly incapable of any kind of sustained argument involving actual thought or understanding. The only credibility he has ever had comes from his botched and catastrophic military career, from drunken Annapolis sprees to being a PoW through his own incompetence. And his incoherent and contradictory stories about even that period mark him as, at best, an inveterate confabulator. His terrifying rages, serial mendacity, and inability to think, reason, or understand would be preposterous in a sane society.

Guess that explains his popularity with the tattered remnants of the press corps that enables his every vicious act. Perhaps they're practicing up to cover Candidate Bolton.

Posted by: Tomm Undergod on December 20, 2010 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Please stop blaming McCain's character faults on his age. There are far older people who have fought on the right side of this issue and managed to not tarnish their reputations with obvious lies and fear mongering.

"Every gay friend I have states that Marines are the first to have their legs up in the air."

There's a reason they're called "grunts", you know.

Posted by: BobN on December 20, 2010 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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