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      Be happy and be well. Please be careful about Covid. Viral load matters for infection, spending hours in a house with people is a great way to get infected. Feel free to use comments to discuss topics unrelated to recent posts. I’m doing my annual fundraiser. If you like my writing and can afford to, […]
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Friday Morning: What’s Happening?

valentine-underpants-w-hearts-picking-up-paper-784998

Good morning everyone! These are the news stories that caught my eye this morning. Be sure to add your own links in the comments.

The All-Encompassing Health Care Nightmare

Boston Globe: Democrats oppose tax in health bill

To pay for the 10-year, $856 billion bill Baucus wants to tax high-value insurance plans, those worth $21,000 for a family and $8,000 for an individual. The Montana Democrat says those are “Cadillac plans’’ enjoyed by a small minority of Americans. Aides said about 10 percent of plans and 8 percent of taxpayers could be affected.

The tax, which President Obama embraced in his speech to Congress last week, is a major source of revenue for Baucus’s bill, bringing in an estimated $215 billion over 10 years. Baucus and other supporters of the measure say it would help drive down health care costs over the long term by encouraging companies to move toward less expensive health plans and workers to use less care.

But other Democratic senators fear that the tax would reach deep into middle-class pocketbooks, and labor unions are upset. Senators John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia, members of the Finance Committee, say they want to limit the tax before signing off on the bill.

“We need to make it fairer to working people so that working folks don’t get dragged into this at a level where they just don’t have the incomes to support it,’’ Kerry told reporters after a closed-door committee meeting to discuss the bill.

Insurers and business groups also oppose the new tax and other fees in the bill, and the US Chamber of Commerce is wasting no time making its objections known.

New York Times: Rockefeller stands up for liberals on health care

All summer, the White House deferred to Senator Max Baucus, the Democrat from Montana who heads the Senate Finance Committee, as he negotiated with two moderate Democrats and three Republicans. Their failure to agree on a bipartisan bill left the administration scrambling to pass an overhaul with Democratic votes alone.

And that has emboldened liberals like the 72-year-old Mr. Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat. He heads the health subcommittee of Mr. Baucus’s panel, and yet he was relegated to the sidelines as the so-called Gang of Six talked and talked. Senate liberals are now pushing for an overhaul fully on Democratic terms — legislation more like that in the House, where liberal Democrats dominate.

Washington Post: Affordability Is Major Challenge for Reform

How to make insurance more affordable to the estimated 30 million uninsured people who would be required to buy coverage under the Baucus proposal is emerging as a central challenge as the long-awaited plan advances to full committee debate Tuesday. Democrats and Republicans alike worry that a bill intended to address one source of financial hardship — the skyrocketing cost of health care — could lead to another, in the form of hefty premiums.

“It’s very clear that the driving issue of this debate is affordability, particularly for middle-class folks. And the Democratic caucus is very much committed to getting this issue right,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), a Finance Committee member who said he will offer amendments next week in an effort to improve affordability and choice.

Some Senate Democrats, along with a key moderate Republican, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (Maine), are now discussing ways to increase assistance for individuals and families who could face premium costs of up to $15,000 per year by 2016. Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), the ranking Republican on Baucus’s committee, is suggesting government assistance to insurance companies to help them control premium costs. And lawmakers in both parties are questioning whether Baucus’s main revenue source, an excise tax on insurance companies for their most generous insurance policies, would simply be passed on to consumers.

FOX News Poll: Americans Prefer Current System to Obama’s Health Care Plan

More Americans would rather Congress do nothing than pass Obama’s plan: 46 percent to 37 percent of people polled say they prefer the current health care system to the one the president has proposed.

[….]

Overall, 54 percent of Americans approve of the job Obama is doing as president — up one point from last month.

Slightly more people disapprove than approve of the president’s handling of health care: 44 percent approve and 48 percent disapprove. To give this some perspective, Obama gets better ratings on his handling of the economy (55 percent approve) and Afghanistan (51 percent).

A 57 percent majority of Americans think the president should be spending more time right now fixing the economy — that’s three times as many as say he should be working on reforming health care (19 percent).

Time: Baucus Open to Changes in Health-Care Bill to Meet Democrats’ Concerns

Baucus acknowledges the criticism he is getting from within his own party….The chairman told TIME.com that he hopes to iron out some of those differences in the coming days. Specifically, Baucus is talking to Democratic members of his committee about addressing one of their chief complaints about the bill — that it won’t do enough to make insurance affordable to the middle class. That’s a crucial question, because the legislation would, for the first time, impose a requirement that virtually everyone have some kind of coverage or face a fine. Under Baucus’ bill, the government would provide some help-giving subsidies to help those earning up to three times the poverty level (in other words, a family of four making as much as $66,000 a year) buy insurance and setting caps on their out-of-pocket expenses.

But many in his party say that help doesn’t go far enough — especially in comparison with the version that the House is working on, which would provide assistance for those earning up to 400% of the poverty level (or a family of four making $88,000). “We’re working to address that concern,” Baucus said, adding that one idea “very much on the table” is to increase the refundable tax credits for those purchasing insurance. That, however, would likely increase the overall price tax for the measure, which in its current form would cost $774 billion over the next decade, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.

Tax credits? What good are those for people so poor they don’t have the cash up front to pay for the *mandatory* private insurance?!

Bloomberg: Bill Clinton Says Obama Will Prevail on Health-Care Overhaul

I hope Bill C. is wrong about the Baucus bill. The article is interesting for his comments on other issues than health care reform though.

What Paul Krugman thinks of the Baucus proposal

…it has been clear for months that whatever health-care bill finally emerges will fall far short of reformers’ hopes. Yet even a bad bill could be much better than nothing. The question is where to draw the line. How bad does a bill have to be to make it too bad to vote for?

Now, the moment of truth isn’t here quite yet: There’s enough wrong with the Baucus proposal as it stands to make it unworkable and unacceptable. But that said, Senator Baucus’s mark is better than many of us expected. If it serves as a basis for negotiation, and the result of those negotiations is a plan that’s stronger, not weaker, reformers are going to have to make some hard choices about the degree of disappointment they’re willing to live with.

Of course, those who insist that we must have a single-payer system — Medicare for all — won’t accept any plan that tries, instead, to cajole and coerce private health insurers into covering everyone. But while many reformers, myself included, would prefer a single-payer system if we were starting from scratch, international experience shows that it’s not the only way to go. Several European countries, including Switzerland and the Netherlands, have managed to achieve universal coverage with a mainly private insurance system.

Sigh…

Counterpunch: Joshua Frank on Baucus “the slick swindler”

A young man from Montana learns the truth about his Democratic Senator:

While still in high school I had the pleasure of flying across the country to Washington, D.C., for a weeklong youth workshop on leadership and democracy. I remember the excitement I had knowing I was about to meet both of my Montana senators. Back then I was a proud registered Democrat. Having joined the Party only two months earlier, the prospect of rubbing shoulders with a veteran of my Party, I thought, was sure to be the highlight of the trip.
[….]
I asked Max about Washington life, and we poked fun at Conrad Burns, whom I had met earlier in the day. Whereas Baucus’ busy over packed office was full of citizens who seemed to give a shit, Conrad’s quarters were filled with wide leather couches and trophy animals that hung on his plush papered walls. We joked about Burns’ assistants who were advising him on how he should vote on specific legislation even though they had never even traveled to Montana. I thought to myself, “Man, Democrats really are a lot cooler than Republicans.”

It wasn’t more than six months later that I was knocked to my senses. The fairytale had ended. I read in the newspaper that my buddy Max had supported the North America Free Trade Agreement a few years prior. By then, I was diving into local environmental issues and came across the effects of NAFTA and the senators who supported it. Baucus was at the top of the hit-list. I couldn’t believe it.

Upon further exploration, I learned that Baucus sat on the influential congressional committees, including the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Environment and Public Works, and Finance and Joint Taxation. I learned how this man whom I had come to admire — for no real reason other than his bashing of a Republican — had succumbed to the interests of campaign contributors time and again. I found out how his seat on the Finance committee scored him bundles of cash from the health care industry and some big corporations I had never even heard of, including JP Morgan, Brown & Foreman, and Citigroup. I knew these guys weren’t from Montana.
[….]
That anger has festered in me to this day. Max Baucus may still be the most corporate –entrenched, conniving Democrat in Washington, and now Americans are getting a health care bill written by the health care lobby for the health care industry.

Other News

Missile defense shifts from Star Wars vision
New plan cuts back Reagan’s dream but not basis in international politics

Please…let’s just kill Reagan’s star wars dream (fantasy), along with his dream of eliminating social security, the rest of the social safety net, and the U.N. Um kay?

NATO wants to work with Russia on missile defense

One day after Washington scrapped a missile defense plan for Europe which Russia opposed, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Russia and the Western defense alliance should conduct a joint review of the security challenges they face.

“I would like Russia and NATO to agree to carry out a joint review of the new 21st century security challenges, to serve as a firm basis for our future cooperation,” Rasmussen said in a speech in Brussels.

“We should explore the potential for linking the U.S., NATO and Russian missile defense systems at an appropriate time.”

Iranian President Once Again Claims Holocaust A Myth

Iranian President President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has again called the Holocaust a lie by western nations designed to create a pretext for the creation of the Jewish state of Israel.

Mr. Ahmadinejad made the comments Friday as tens of thousands of Iranians filled the streets of the capital, Tehran, for an annual government-sponsored rally to express support for Palestinians and condemn Israel.

Pro- and anti-government marchers face off in Tehran

State-controlled Iranian television showed thousands of demonstrators wearing traditional Arab scarves, holding posters of Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah and chanting “Death to Israel,” a traditional rallying cry on this holiday, which takes place on the last Friday of every Islamic calendar month of Ramadan.

But witnesses reported that demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans had taken complete control of Tehran’s expansive Seventh of Tir Square. Video posted to YouTube showed thousands of others holding up green ribbons and rallying peacefully in Tehran, Esfahan and Shiraz. Late in the morning came reports of tear gas being fired into crowds in the capital, but they could not be confirmed.

Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi, who ran and lost against Ahmadinejad in an election marred by fraud allegations, had urged supporters to join the rally to show the continued strength of the opposition despite a violent three-month crackdown since the vote.

Another fake terror plot–or a real one this time?

There was planning and preparation for an attack, presumably in the New York area, where there would be a large number of people and where security screening is lax such as a large railroad or subway station, essentially where there is no airport-style screening, the sources said.

Authorities are taking the plot seriously, because, the sources said, they think it involves “real-deal terrorists” operating and planning an attack in America.

Because of that fear, an unprecedented level of resources is being devoted to the investigation, the sources said. That includes the placement of a hostage rescue team in New York for possible raids and the deployment of additional resources to the Denver area in Colorado, where another phase of the probe is taking place.

DNA shows Annie Le’s blood on Yale lab tech Raymond Clark boots; green pen clue eyed: investigators

Investigators say this is the evidence that will keep him behind bars – quite possibly for the rest of his life:

DNA tests proving Annie Le’s blood is on Clark’s boots, which have his name on them.

Tests identifying his DNA on her body and clothing.

More tests identifying her DNA and hair on him and his clothing.

Just one of those matches would be enough to make the case.

And then there is the green pen.

He dropped it at the scene. There is also evidence that he spend more than an hour in the room with Le’s body after her death.

Cadaver dogs show interest at Garrido property

Police are looking for clues in the disappearances of 9-year-old Michaela Garecht from Hayward in November 1988 and 13-year-old Ilene Misheloff from Dublin two months later. A witness to Garecht’s abduction has told The Chronicle that Phillip Garrido resembles the man she saw grab Michaela.

The Garridos have pleaded not guilty to charges that they kidnapped [Jaycee] Dugard from South Lake Tahoe in 1991, when she was 11, and kept her as a sex slave in their backyard compound for 18 years. She had two of Phillip Garrido’s children, authorities said, and eventually helped him run a printing business.

On Thursday, police disassembled decks on the Garridos’ property, removed debris and gathered possible evidence, including writings by Phillip Garrido. Today, they plan to pull up concrete slabs so they can dig underneath.

Around the Blogs

FDL: Attaturk writes about Senator Chuck Grassley: Iowa Stubborn/Universally Dishonest

Crooks and Liars: GOP Clown College

dday: Conyers, Leahy Introduce Bill To End Anti-Trust Exemption For Health Insurers

Cannonfire: The Rites of Baucus

What you probably don’t know about the Baucus plan

Cinie’s World: Everybody Loves Black People

Danger Room: Dear Poland, Happy Soviet Invasion Day

Counterpunch: Is Bagram Obama’s new secret prison?

Torture and accountability

Truthdig (Robert Scheer): Obama’s Presidency Isn’t Too Big to Fail

A president has only so much capital to expend, both in tax dollars and public tolerance, and Barack Obama is dangerously overdrawn. He has tried to have it all on three fronts, and his administration is in serious danger of going bankrupt. He has blundered into a deepening quagmire in Afghanistan, has continued the Bush policy of buying off Wall Street hustlers instead of confronting them and is now on the cusp of bargaining away the so-called public option, the reform component of his health care program.

Huffpo: Van Jones Breaks Silence On Resignation: ‘Nothing But Love For Obama’

Odds and Ends

Doctors remove piece of ‘Wendy’s’ plastic lodged in man’s lung for two years

Rhianna goes to the mall in revealing outfit

Police catch burglar who broke into Lindsay Lohan’s house

Miniature T-Rex discovered

Kanye West: The presidential bashing just keeps coming

Dodgers-Giants rivalry not what it used to be

Yankees and Red Sox on collision course for replay of ’03 & ’04 ALCS bouts

Thank God It’s Friday!!! Have a wonderful day and a fabulous weekend!

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45 Responses

  1. Morning Boomer. Great roundup. 🙂

  2. What’s wrong with C&L?

    Buncha anti-clownites!

    • I knew that was going to p*ss you off, the minute I saw the headline.

      Now they are politicizing “clowndom”. apparently nothing is sacred, or off-limits.

      May cause me to rethink my position on Pelosi’s “distress”.

    • I posted that specially to get your blood boiling to start the day!

  3. Mr. Rockefeller shoulda stood up for his constituents last year.

    They overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton, just before Jaybird endorsed Obama.

  4. “But while many reformers, myself included, would prefer a single-payer system if we were starting from scratch, international experience shows that it’s not the only way to go. Several European countries, including Switzerland and the Netherlands, have managed to achieve universal coverage with a mainly private insurance system.”

    How can Krugman of all people say this? He wanted Medicare for All as late as 2008. He should know that the Swiss set prices on all medical transactions. Hello! No one is going anywhere near that in this legislation. What a disappointment. And, to hear him parrot Obama’s starting from scratch talking point. The federal government pays 47% of all medical bills today!

  5. *sigh* The whole issue of taxing plans that actually provide really good care, pisses me off. It seems really obvious that those plans will then either disappear or skyrocket in cost. How is that going to help anyone other than the insurance companies? And Baucus is the guy who’s designed this cluster, but again, Obama’s the guy who decided to appoint him. The $3800 fine makes me want to cry. I just don’t understand how we keep getting it wrong, wrong, wrong in this country. How is it that the EU has managed to move in progressive directions, sometimes more so than the national populations in it, and we just seem to head further and further right? *sigh*

    • The 35% tax on so-called “gold-plated plans” was actually John Kerry’s idea, originally.

      The Unions balked at that, given that their members have great plans, and insisted this option of taxing be dropped, or they be exempt.

      It showed up again in the Baucus plan because Barak Obama endorsed it, on a “bipartisan” basis, to raise revenue to pay for the subsidies for those on the lower economic scale.

      But this time, no one was exempt.

      I noticed the million-dollar pundits are angry about the 35% tax on their own expensive health care policies, now. Hellooooooo

      Main point that the tax on upper-level plans as a means of revenue to pay for susidies for others, was originally a Demoratic idea from John Kerry.

      • What ticks me off is that alot of these union members forwent INCOME in order to get these so called “gold plated” policies. My husband and the other men and women on the railroad will essentially be penalized for choosing good health care plan options over extra income. It’s absurd.

        • I respect that, but Mr. Obama needed revenue for all the subsidies, and couldn’t be choosy about exemptions.

          I’ve read that his tire tariffs were the tradeoff, on some of the eco blogs, to get the unions to agree. Who knows?

          Unions got thrown under Mr. Obama’s bus.

    • They should tax the junk plans so everyone is offered gold-plated ones.
      After all, the better care we get, the more the final healthcare bill goes down, since people who don’t get good health care are the ones that get sickest.

  6. The look on the co-anchor’s face is priceless:

  7. I can’t believe you posted a link to a DKos diary! AHHH!!! I almost clicked on it!
    Thank goodness for my lightning quick reflexes.

  8. How is it that we head further and further right but the government is still paying 47% of all the healthcare bills? I suppose because the government is paying those emergency room bills.

    Greta had an author on last night who just came out with a book on Medicare and Medicaid waste. He gave some really interesting examples none of which I can seem to remember in my am fog.

    You do not have any references to the ACORN blow-up.

    CA water issue in the central valley is also becoming a big story. The decision to stop water to this prime farm area is now resulting in erosion and dust bowl like conditions. I understand how interconnected our environment is and how fragile. But when acres and acres of land are allowed to go dry and become a dust bowl instead of farmland that feeds people, I have trouble seeing how this action is saving the environment instead of ruining it.

    • Isn’t this Hannity’s latest cause to promote hate for the “government” in general? This situation didn’t begin with Obama, but Hannity omits that fact.

  9. This is really too much, esp. the part I put in bold.

    Arianna Huffington

    Posted: September 17, 2009 12:15 PM

    […]

    The Sad, Shocking Truth About How Women Are Feeling
    It’s women. According to study after study, women are becoming more and more unhappy. This drop in happiness is found in women across the social and economic landscape. It doesn’t matter what their marital status is, how much money they make, whether or not they have children, their ethnic background, or the country they live in. Women around the world are in a funk.

    And it’s not because of the multitude of crises we are facing. Women’s happiness has been on a downward trend since the early 1970s, when the General Social Survey, a landmark study, began examining the social attitudes of women and men — who, by the way, have gotten progressively happier over the years.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/the-sad-shocking-truth-ab_b_290021.html

    Then she proceeds to dole out self help tips and links.

    • Where was this discussion in 2008?

    • Arianna is just another CDS-deranged ex-Republican millionaire who is always ready to lecture Democrats on how to be properly Liberal.

    • It gets worse…what a marketing scam on Arianna and Gallup’s part. I only had time to glance at this next link, but here’s what jumped out at me straight away…the way they framed the issue is a joke…

      Women rising

      I doubt she would have guessed that by the early twenty-first century, women would be running the governments of countries as powerful and widespread as Germany and Ireland, Bangladesh and New Zealand, Chile, Mozambique, and Jamaica. Or that the wife of one U.S. president would spend months in 2008 as the national favorite to become president herself and, barely failing in that quest, would become an outspoken Secretary of State, or that the Speaker of the House would be a woman, or that John McCain would choose a moose-hunting, helicopter-riding, crowd-pleasing mother of five as his running mate because she’d stared down oil companies as governor of the tough state of Alaska.

      […]

      Given all the evidence of women running corporations and universities, hospitals, media empires, branches of government, army divisions, and countries, do you think women in the future will be happier?

      Of course they will be happier, she would have said. With all these opportunities and achievements, how could they not be?

      Well, as it turns out, too easily.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marcus-buckingham/whats-happening-to-womens_b_289511.html

      • So what’s the message here–is the unhappiness due to women leaving the home to be liberate career women? I smell a retro-rat here.

        • If you read the rest of the farcical article (it reads more like an infomercial than a research article) the message is “buy my cliche postfeminist modern woman paradox book”

    • Men have four times the suicide rate of women, but HuffnPuff wants me to believe that women are less happy, especially the older they get?

  10. Nothing about the United Nations report on Israel’s war crimes? I tried to read the actual report, and it was unbearable. Will have to try to plow through the rest today, if I can keep from crying.

    It’s futile, of course. Nothing will be done, because the U.S. will veto any motion to send Israel to the Security Council or the ICC — in fact Susan Rice is already making vicious noises about the U.S.’s “concerns” with the report.

    Still, it’s in the historical record now, in an investigation conducted by an unimpeachable source. I’ve often thought that Operation Cast Lead was to Israel what Katrina was to the Bush admin: A turning point that ripped off the mask and revealed the true horror. I think this report will be another, in terms of public consciousness.

    Here’s Norman Finkelstein talking about in on Amy Goodman’s show:

    http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/16/un_inquiry_finds_israel_punished_and

    • Thanks for posting. It’s dated the 16th. I didn’t see anything about it this morning. I’m so overwhelmed these days, that it’s hard to keep up with everything.

  11. Awesome roundup, BB. Appreciate the link to the NY Daily News article about the Annie Le killing. No other newspaper has obtained access to this level of detail in the investigation. I think someone at the Daily News has an inside contact on the New Haven Police Dept. I also commend the Daily News for pointing out what , to me, has been obvious from the start: this was a crime that should be labeled under the category “violence against women”. The president of Yale and the New Haven police chief have been trying to make this out as “workplace violence”. Nonsense. No lab technician would attempt violence against a male student. Annie Le was a brilliant young woman, by all accounts, and Clark, apparently, had a history of threatening at least one other woman in his life. Pathetically, Yale didn’t even begin doing background checks on potential employees until 2007–three years after Clark was hired. There are still many men–and women–who seem to think that whatever demeaning things they say or do against women are justified simply because of gender.

    • I agree, grayslady. This guy has a history of violence against girlfriends.

    • Plus, she was quite petite: 4’11” & 90 lbs–easily overpowered, though apparently, she fought like hell. It’s sickening.

  12. No, It’s Not About Race
    By David Brooks, NYTimes

    “One could argue that this country is on the verge of a crisis of legitimacy,” the economic blogger Arnold Kling writes. “The progressive elite is starting to dismiss rural white America as illegitimate, and vice versa.”

    It’s not race. It’s another type of conflict, equally deep and old.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/18/opinion/18brooks.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

    • Brooks is right, but Brooks is also the one who is glad to have a president who talks to the self-identifying creative class rather than a president like Clinton who can make policy specifics accessible to a broader number of people:

      He recognizes something similar in the current president. “Obama sees himself as a Burkean,” Brooks says. “He sees his view of the world as a view that understands complexity and the organic nature of change.” Moreover, after the Bush years, Brooks seems relieved to have an intellectual in the White House again. “I divide people into people who talk like us and who don’t talk like us,” he explains. “Of recent presidents, Clinton could sort of talk like us, but Obama is definitely–you could see him as a New Republic writer. He can do the jurisprudence, he can do the political philosophy, and he can do the politics. I think he’s more talented than anyone in my lifetime. I mean, he is pretty dazzling when he walks into a room. So, that’s why it’s important he doesn’t fuck this up.”

      http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/the-courtship

      • Oh I know–I’m no Brooks groupie, but I thought he made some good points in this piece, using a historical p.o.v. with Hamilton and Jefferson.

  13. “I’m so overwhelmed these days, that it’s hard to keep up with everything.”

    I hear ya! At least it’s Friday…

    What pod person has replaced David Brooks?? That’s the first time he’s written something that wasn’t pure unadulterated b.s. from first word to last. Maybe he was on vacation and outsourced his column to an underling.

  14. http://www.maniacworld.com/Beauty-of-Science.html

    This is a teacher that really understands food for the brain and beauty for the soul.
    I wish every kid could take his class.

    WOMEN WITH INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERIENCE,MEN WHO SUPPORT THEM AND COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY ALWAYS

    PUMAS,BUBBAS,EQUALISTS AND THOSE PEOPLE RULE

  15. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/17/AR2009091703679_pf.html

    would it have cheaper on the taxpayer to send the chef?

    WOMEN WITH INTELLIGENCE AND EXPERIENCE,MEN WHO SUPPORT THEM AND COUNTRY BEFORE PARTY ALWAYS

    PUMAS,BUBBAS,EQUALISTS AND THOSE PEOPLE RULE

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