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Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category


Sarah Palin is back in the news.  Not just Fox News either, we’re talking real news here.  She’s up in arms over Rahm Emanuel’s recent use of the word ‘retarded’.   Palin asked on her Facebook page, “Are you capable of decency, Rahm Emanuel?”  Rumor has it she is still sitting around waiting for his reply.  Speculation continues to circle as to why Palin is so upset.  Many suggest it is because she has a toddler with Down’s syndrome and she may find Emanuel’s comment offensive as ‘retarded’ is often used to stigmatize those with mental limitations.  Others wonder if she is not truly upset about the original meaning and usage of the word as cited here from http://www.dictionary.com:

re⋅tard

[ri-tahrd, for 1–3]

–verb (used with object)

1. to make slow; delay the development or progress of (an action, process, etc.); hinder or impede.

–verb (used without object)

2. to be delayed.

–noun

3. a slowing down, diminution, or hindrance, as in a machine.

Perhaps she would find any of these personally offensive, especially definition numbers 1&3, as used in the following sentence examples:

1.  Sarah Palin retarded John McCain’s campaign machine with her ineptitude and general smarminess.

2.  Sarah Palin felt her meteoric ascendance to national infamy had irrevocably retarded her ability to govern the state of Alaska, so she quit.

3.  Fox News retards the progress of journalism each and every day, and now Sarah Palin has joined forces to help retard it even further.

4.  Fox News retards the thinking processes of countless Americans each and every day, and now Sarah Palin has joined forces to help retard them even further.

There is a growing campaign to do away with the derogatory use of the “R-word” – truly a worthwhile movement, long overdue.   Visit http://www.r-word.org and sign a pledge to not misuse the word.  However, it is a perfectly good word to use in the correct context, as in the examples above.  So put an end to the misuse of this word and bring back its proper usage.

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I got some good news and I got some bad news. The good news is this “GLOBAL ECONOMICS CRISIS” is very easy to fix. The bad news is it will require us to use some French words. Watch the video below from our friend at http://www.socioecohistory.wordpress.com

Simple as that. Still not clear on how this works? How about some visuals that Americans find easy to comprehend? – people killing one another.

There you have it. Simple as that. Put on your berets and the most outrrrrrageous French accent you can muster and and say it with me – Force Majeure. No? Not going for it? Okay, let’s just be ridiculously obtuse and criticize the French undeservedly as we simply retitle this great idea. Let’s call it it Freedom Force.

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Road-Sign

WE’RE ON THE HIGHWAY TO HELL

The Global War on Terrorism is Over! The day that George W. Bush had predicted has finally come. The Global War on Terrorism is finally over and has been since March of this year. However, it didn’t come as he described, with a “complete victory” and dancing in the streets of Baghdad. No, in fact most people don’t even realize the “long war” is over. That seems strange.  Perhaps the designers and those complicit in the old Global War on Terrorism are too busy with other things these days to pat themselves on the back for their vision and foresight in foreign policy. Bush is hidden away somewhere, sucking his thumb, popping anti-depressants and dreaming of happier days at Andover. He waits for word from Cheney on what to do next – waiting for orders that will not likely come anytime soon. Cheney is busy holding his daughter up as a shield in defense of his constitutional date rape. An overly complicit Congress seems eager to put the war behind them, even if in name only. It seems the only one with any moral foothold on this Global War on Terrorism is President Barrack Obama. One of the few who opposed conducting a war on an abstract nou.  It is appropriate now that he is the man who in fact ended the war. Sadly it didn’t end gloriously like wars past, with ticker tape parades, sailors kissing pretty girls in Times Square, big smiles and a more unified world. No, in fact the Global War on Terrorism is over in name only.  It simply got a name change – the  Overseas Contingency Operation. It is ending more like that other war we don’t like to call a war, we call it a conflict instead. Hopefully it won’t end like the war that is still on the books in Korea. That war hasn’t officially ended in over 60 years. But the Global War on Terrorism is officially over, if in name only. Well, somebody had better change the signs.

There is a long stretch of highway in the American West where one is encouraged to think about wars and their names and all the men and women who have died for those wars and those titles. Driving east out of Hawthorne, NV is a harrowing experience. It is long, straight, dry and rather bleak. The entire stretch of highway is a memorial to the veterans of America’s various wars. It is a long desolate road. It is a worrisome portent that beyond the last memorial sign there is plenty more highway waiting to be dedicated to the future’s fallen. Driving the highway seems a bit like walking through a mine field. Though Highway 95 provides a flat, straight passage, the sheer volume of explosive mounds expanding in both directions keeps drivers alert with their hands gripped tightly at ten and two. The desert outside of Hawthorne is not of course dotted with explosive anti-personnel devices. Not technically. The massive underground armory caches however are patiently, if passively, waiting to be detonated, controlled or otherwise. As far as the eye can see in every direction are 12 foot mounds – entryways into underground storage bunkers, housing everything from dynamite to the highly classified unknown. This is an armory of the U.S. Government. There is some comfort in that notion. Surely, they would maintain their stockpiles responsibly. They have a long history of maintaining and utilizing those stockpiles responsibly.

An obvious reminder of this flashes rhythmically past your windows as you drive along. The signs consist of crisp white lettering on government brown, the standard uniform of the memorial highway marker. They stand perfectly perpendicular like a smart line of the very soldiers they represent. The first sign is dedicated to the veterans of World War I. Suddenly the armory stretching wide to either horizon doesn’t seem so menacing. The first “great” war was a clear example of our justified might. We didn’t even want to be a part of that war, remember? We were goaded into it when they killed that kindly old archduke and blew up that cruise ship of innocents. Everyone knows that. After a little road side reflection, the explosives there in the desert become rather comforting. This is the big stick that good old Teddy Roosevelt said we should carry, but swing only when necessary. By now the second sign is approaching. Standing tall and proud nearly saluting you as you pass – a memorial to the veterans of World War II, another worthy endeavor which solidified America’s place as keeper of the light of liberty. This war gave us what has become known as our “greatest generation” and so much more: baby boomers; rockets; satellites; computers; freedom; three immortal presidents – all these came from the greatest war of all, seemingly gifts from a divine hand. World War II, the one where America came in to save the day and ultimately to save the world. By now a drivers eyes may be misty from overwhelming pride. The rows of high mounds to the left and the right more closely resemble Arlington National Cemetery than a large scale ammunitions depository.

However, the trumpets we may be hearing suddenly blow off-note when the next sign whirs past. This memorial to the veterans of the Korean War is the first time the driver might actually think first of the veterans. And countless unnerving paradoxes. This war had lots of video footage and all of it grainy, but starkly bleak. A horrifically bloody but mostly forgotten war. A secret Chinese army with a growing Soviet agenda. Our pride after WWII was replaced by growing fears. Later, this war was given a famous comedic television show that was hilarious except for the tragic backdrop that peeked out at us and made us shiver and then turn away. There was a reason that Hawkeye, for all of his incessant humor, was preoccupied with distilling mind-numbing alcohol. Laughing all the way, he was living in hell. The Korean War is the war that ended long ago but has never actually ended. We are still stuck in the middle over there, though usually we can pretend we are not. The highway continues on a long time here with no more signs. Or perhaps it just seems so. Perhaps our foot has fallen off the gas pedal. A long stretch of reflection and the trumpets have gone silent. Arlington has become an overgrown, forgotten, haunted land and off on the northern horizon a shadow grows. A reminder of what truly lies below this ground: not our fallen heroes, but the means by which they are fallen and by which they fell others. An arsenal, a monster of our making, lying in wait, to see the light again, to burn the oxygen and rend the flesh of its creators. The next signal approaches as we knew it would. Perhaps we have subconsciously decelerated, to prolong the inevitable. The next stretch of desolate road is dedicated to the Veterans of The Vietnam War. Now the mind spirals downward. The driver has sagged down into his seat. Only a finger or two from a slumped hand remain on the steering wheel as if an inadvertent swerve off the road and into one of the explosive mounds might not be such a misfortune. Vietnam. It is hardly ever called a war. People used to insist that it was never a “war” technically. It was merely a conflict. As such, America didn’t lose the war if it wasn’t a war in the first place. Most people have given up that thread. We all just call it “Vietnam”. We say it an octave lower, giving it the grim weight that it deserves. Veterans of this “engagement” when speaking with one another call it simply “Nam”. Perhaps they are subconsciously calling it “Damn”. Yet, there are too many boys in the ground to not have it memorialized along this lonely stretch of road with all the other famous “wars”. So, it remains simply “Vietnam”. And it makes us think carefully about how we choose to label the latest deployment of the nearby garden of weaponry. Somehow the accelerator is pressed against the floorboard like the driver is trying to escape the images of Vietnam and the broken boys who came home and still linger in our lives now as old men, older than their years. We drive fast now trying to escape. Now the road has gone from flat and straight to a winding nauseating rollercoaster. The word “War’ is not to be seen again on these signs. Now we nearly run smack into a series of “Operations”. Desert Storm and Desert Shield douse us with a splash of momentarily refreshing patriotic pride. Those were good wars, er.. I mean operations. Weren’t they? We were liberators then again. Weren’t we? But didn’t those give us Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder which was too difficult to say day after day. PTSD is smoother off the tongue and the mind. But we undoubtedly won that war! That was a great victory. We blazed our way to victory. No questions about Desert Storm. I mean look at the name! But in the end, weren’t those operations really about oil contracts in Kuwait? How did that sort of objective get mixed up in all of this? All this is becoming too murky, too perplexing. Perhaps we have swerved off the road at this point, because now it seems some signs are missing. If we are including military operations on this surreal stretch of highway, where are the memorials to veterans of Kosovo or Somalia? What about our dabblings in Central America? What on earth would we even call those? How many signs would be needed? Would we run out of roadway? We swerve back on the pavement frantically just in time to see the final sign erect and firm, freshly planted – the screws still shiny and clean.   Dedicated to the Veterans of the Global War on Terrorism. There’s that word again. War. We are at last fighting a war again. But war against what?! And this one isn’t even over yet. How can this be? The veterans memorialized on this stretch of highway line up further and further, day after day. Now our hands are back, firmly on the steering at ten and two and our chin is thrust forward at twelve, high noon. The floorboard is dented where the accelerator pedal has been very nearly stomped through. We drive with a mission to see how this will end. What is next on this long highway and where, by the way, does this weapons depot end? Does it go on forever? How many explosives are enough? How many others are there in other deserts, along other endless highways? How can explosives defeat terror? Isn’t that like fighting a rising flood with buckets of water? What in God’s name are our young people dying and killing for? Then suddenly the road flattens again.

A glance in the rearview shows the road stretching razor’s-edge-straight and flat into the distance behind. The earthen mounds have dissipated and nothing but vast desert scrub remains, waiting. No more underground weapons, here at least. No more smart, shiny memorial signs coming at us, for now. There is some reassurance that the Global War on Terrorism is over, even if in name only. Yet after another quick glance in the rearview, the silvery back of another sign haunts us. The driver must have missed it. No telling what it said at this point and there is no way he is turning around on this stretch of road. Was it the latest addition to this memorial parade? Will that be the latest twist on this sordid road? Memorial Highway dedicated to the Veterans of the Overseas Contingency Operation. Another operation. The same old war? Another stretch of memorialized highway and no doubt another desert garden of weapons of mass destruction to protect us from… whatever is next. Perhaps it is time to stop the car and continue on foot. Watch your step.

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photo-michael-savageMichael Savage sells snakeoil under his real name, Michael Weiner.  Later, as Savage, he woud really sling the serpent’s venom.  

Michael Savage’s latest attempt at poetry conveys a deep-seeded schizophrenic mind that should be pitied rather than feared… or, better yet, simply ignored. 

Recently the third largest mouth on radio today treated his audience to an extended live mixing of his latest poem The Weathervane.  First he read it solo.  Then he read it to a cheesy hip-hop beat.  Then he read it to The Battle Hymn of the Republic.  He shouted to his sound tech to put it to “that song from Patton” sure that was the only song worthy of his eloquent yet powerful verse. 

 Savage’s poem is reminiscent of the “I Am” poems so popular in elementary schools across the country, designed to introduce youngsters to poetry.  From there it is a little more than a scrap book of famous historical figures Michael knows of (mostly from television shows and Department of Defense news reels, and of course the movie Patton) and admires – people he purports to be like.  If you can hum the Battle Hymn of the Republic as you read this, then here it is below, in all its glory and its truth is marching on. 

 

 

I am Moses.

I am Isaac.

I am Abraham.

I am Charlemagne.

I am John Wayne.

I am Coltrane.

 They try to suppress me, try to redress me,

Call me incorrect, deserving no respect.

I am Patton.

I am Hatton,

Even Mountbatten. 

I am Eisenhower,

Not a Wallflower.

I am Washington.

I am Pershing. 
I am MacArthur.

I am Kipling. 

I am Audie Murphy.

And I am Sky King.

I’ll steal your crown,

Trample you down,

Take your good name

And put it to shame.

 I am Gene Autry.

I am Roy Rogers.

I am Tom Mix.

They tried to push me over

The River Styx,

But it won’t mix

With my true blood,

Which runs thick for America.

 I am the bane

Of those vain. 

I am the Weathervane.

 

It is a list of strange paradoxes for the prodigious author.  A series of idealized war heroes from a man who dodged the draft during Vietnam.  When did his true blood run thick for America?  He is suppressed by whom?  The person whose crown he later vows to steal?  Kipling?  How did he make this list?  Unless Savage has identified with the “white raja” from The Man Who Would Be King.   

 Gene Autry and Roy Rogers?  pop-TV icons?  From a man who claims be (and once vainly attempted to be accepted by academia as) a robust, well-read intellectual?  For those not well-versed in obscurity Tom Mix was the first cowboy megastar up on the old silverscreen.  Sky King is an old radio/television adventure series from the 40s and 50s.  Nothing wrong with that per se but in such an historic line up he might as well have put Lassie next to Lincoln.  As for “Hatton” I can only guess that he means Ricky Hatton who was just KO’d recently by Philippine sensation Manny Pacquiao.  Perhaps this is meant as a reference to his predilection to fight minorities even if it means a brutal defeat.  Hey, maybe that’s why he threw in Kipling!  One more interesting tidbit here: “true blood” incidentally is a nod to his fictional hero and alter ego, Samuel Trueblood.  At Salon.com  David Gilson perfectly describes the piece.

“Vital Signs,” Michael Weiner’s first and only book of fiction, published in 1983. A collection of confessional, stream-of-consciousness stories, it follows the exploits of Samuel Trueblood, who just happens to be a 40-ish New York Jew, an herbalist and writer with a tumultuous personal life, a substantial assortment of inner demons and a bit of a Napoleon complex. “I am physically not tall, but my eyes burn with fire,” he states. “Two black fires of Hell.” Trueblood narrates a series of misadventures, from procuring an illegal backroom abortion for his fiancée to beating the stuffing out of an abusive cop.

Trueblood describes his life as one long search for inner peace. He blames much of his discontent on his “childhood beneath tyranny,” during which he was cowed by his bullying father. Trueblood describes how his father mocked him with “brutal jokes and chides, ‘gentle’ kidding: ‘You’re not a fag, are you Sam?’ the little man would say each time the boy dared wear a colorful shirt or flashy trousers.” Unable to shake his dead father’s disapproving influence, the adult Samuel is tortured by feelings of weakness and inadequacy. “I am filled with fears,” he admits, “nearly all the time feeling I am about to become totally insane.”

Now I am wondering why Savage didn’t insert a more honest “I am Samuel” into his sophomoric poem. 

 

It is unclear who “they” are who tried to push the Weathervane over the River Styx.  Maybe Phlegyas or Charon the boatman.  Perhaps it was simply because Charon did not want Savage in his boat they tried to throw him over.  Perhaps he meant the river personified by the ancient nymph named Styx.  Her name literally meant hateful in which case I believe “they” succeeded not in throwing Savage over the river but rather squarely atop the hateful nymph.  For after a little research it became obvious that Michael Savage did undergo an otherworldly transformation in his life.  Perhaps he did meet Charon the boatman, perhaps he did cross to the other side.  If so, there is no doubt he came back altered.  “Redressed” perhaps?

 How else could a man go from writing books under his real name, Michael Weiner with titles like Plant a Tree; Earth Medicine, Earth Food and Healing Children Naturally to a guy named Michael Savage writing books with titles like The Death of the White Male; The Enemy Within and Liberalism Is a Mental Disorder?  Well, clearly it would be more easily understood if he in fact had the mental disorder, which his poem above indicates he does.  Especially when compared to the “heroes” he likened himself to as Michael Weiner. 

 

His own history reads like The Seven Faces of Eve.  His life twists from one paradox to the next.  A frustrated poet turned acerbic critic.  A frustrated artist turned professional hater.  An accomplished anthropologist turned isolated misanthrope.  A holistic healer turned toxic shock jock.  As Michael Weiner, his “I Am” poem might look something more like this. 

 The Heather Vein. 

I am Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna

I am Margaret Mead

I am P.T. Barnum

I am Kerouac

I am Ginsberg

 They try to caress me,

They try to undress me.

I am not shy,

Just another guy. 

 I am John Garard.

I am the Galloping Gourmet,

Leaving preservatives out of the way. 

 I wear no shrowd.

I am proud,

I am

And my son 

Will be named after me

The Goldencloud.

I  am a Rockstar

At least it seems nice.

But the academics

Don’t think I suffice.

 I been burned up.

I been churned up.

I been yearning up.

For love and acceptance.

I want to be great.

I am not.

I am…

 I am not sure.

Maybe I will reinvent myself.

Or better yet, simply

Let loose the Other One.

 

Although this version doesn’t paint Michael Weiner-Savage as the most balanced either, combine the two and you might have a more accurate view of what is going on in this mixed up man’s mind.  For other evidence you can imply listen to his daily public therapy sessions which really seem to only compound his insanity or you could peruse the many books of Weiner-Savage.  

“I learned to calm the inner debate that had threatened to drown me in madness!”

 That was from his book Maximum Immunity – his book that truly presents his descent into madness.  It is here, in another supported herbal health book, where he really begins to spout his rage and fears. 

Here is Michael Weiner’s true blood in all its American Beauty:  “Inner voice screaming at me for years, first rational, then crazy, telling me to do mad things. Every form of relief tried, painting, psychotherapy, running, diet, vitamins, etc., etc. Almost uncontrollable now. Impulses to stab children, strangers, wife, self with scissors.”

 Gee, on second thought, he really might be Patton after all.  I mean most historians agree Patton was a sociopath.  Thankfully Savage doesn’t have a real army or a real objective, other than to hear his own voice and hear his listeners call in and fawn over “Doctor Savage”.  He has only a loyal horde of like-minded paranoids who feel less alone when they hear their poser of a hero erupt daily into his caterwauling tantrums.  Read this and they will know what a sham this guy really is: http://dir.salon.com/story/news/feature/2003/03/05/savage/index.html  After all, what is in a title?  What is in a name for that matter?  He may be called Doctor but he’ll always be just a loud-mouth putz (to use one of his favorite words).  He may be called Savage, and though it is an accurate adjective to describe the man, he will always be a Weiner.

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medical-symbol

hydra

We are going from the Caduceus to THE HYDRA

In response to the article on the “primary care shortage” (Arizona Daily Star http://www.azstarnet.com/metro/287457 ):

It seems there are two kinds of doctors out there: those who get into medicine to help people and those seeking wealth. Dr. Linda Williams at El Rio Community Health Center is clearly the former, flouting the big bucks of an overpaid specialist. Dr. Williams and others devoted to patients rather than salaries deserve our appreciation and respect. I am left wondering why an anesthesiologist or a cardiologist (invasive or otherwise) deserves a $400,000 salary. If they are honest with themselves, they are probably wondering the same thing. Student loans of over $200,000? School teachers often accrue bills at the end of their professional training around $100,000. Yet they earn an average salary of $40,000, maintain a comfortable lifestyle and manage to pay off their loans. Perhaps the focus here should be on what constitutes a “comfortable lifestyle.” I certainly want my surgeon to make a decent living and get a good night’s rest each day, but I don’t know if he deserves an Italian sports car and 5 days of golf per week. Perhaps they deserve more because they literally have a life in their hands. However, so do airplane pilots, yet the airlines have systematically slashed their salaries in the last decade. Once again I offer you our teachers as an example; they have lives in their hands. Do they deserve a summer home and four-day ski weekends? Perhaps we need to rethink our priorities.

The article also tersely referred to the expenses of “delivering medicines” that have outpaced physicians’ salaries, as well as the fact that many primary care doctors can’t afford to provide health insurance for their support staff. It is impossible today to discuss the medical field without stumbling over the pharmaceutical and insurance companies (the elephants in the emergency room). Just like it is impossible to actually receive medical treatment without eventually dealing with these devils. Perhaps the doctors, like the patients, are also victims of these leviathans. Medical care was once so simple: a patient, a doctor and a hospital. Now, we have a multi-headed hydra that will eventually consume us all, unless we work together to kill it first.

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Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which. – From George Orwell’s Animal Farm

big-pig1

A Parade of Pigs: Multimillionaires all. Making fortunes squandering hundreds of thousands of American’s pensions and savings. Below are some human faeces to go with their porcine characteristics.

Richard "Big Dick" Fuld - Lehaman Bros (raked in $480 million)

Richard "Big Dick" Fuld - Lehman Bros. (Raked in $480 million)

James "Papa Bear" Cayne - Bea Stearns

James "Papa Bear" Cayne - Bear Stearns

Lloyd "Blank Check" Blandfein - Goldman Sachs

Lloyd "Blank Check" Blankfein - Goldman Sachs

Stan "Paycheck" O'Neil - Merryl Lynch, "Prince" Charles Prince - Citigroup

Stan "Paycheck" O'Neal - Merryl Lynch & "Prince Charles Prince - Citigroup

Bob "Happy Toes" Nardelli & Tom "Two-Step" Lasorda CEOs Chrysler

Bob "Happy Toes" Nardelli & Tom "Two-Step" Lasorda - Chrysler

"Big" Hank Paulson - CEO Goldman Sachs“Big” Hank Paulson – former CEO of Goldman Sachs and current Federal Econochrist who just closed the deal to save all their bacon, but not ours.

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• Lanny Davis is a prominent Washington lawyer and a political analyst. From 1996 to 1998, he served as special counsel to President Clinton. From 2005 to 2006, he served on President Bush’s five-member Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

lanny_davis-100

That is quite a bioblurb for a guy writing a piece on the virtues of lobbyists

http://washingtontimes.com/news/2008/nov/17/lobbyists-are-good-people-too/

However, it is an especially restrained piece of titulature since Lanny Davis is a lobbyist. A big successful one. Today on NPR he said he was a small-scale, part-time, temporary, seasonal lobbyist – Lobbyist Light. Davis went on to say that lobbyists aren’t bad people. They just work within a system with no transparency. That is like saying a thief is not a criminal because the houses should have better security systems. He says lobbyists are merely kind-hearted representatives sent to provide information for compassionate organizations like The American Heart Foundation. He glosses over some other lobbyists from other organizations – reps from massive, corrupt corporations like Merck or Phizer who provide skewed, erroneous industry reports usually submitted with large envelopes of cash. “Vote how you like Senator, here’s a few thousand dollars, and a ticket to Bermuda to think about it.”  Davis states that, “the First Amendment protects petitioning and communicating with government.”  I don’t think petitioning and communicating includes money drops or anonymous donations.

These in fact may be a corrupt minority.  However, just like a couple of pedophile priests, it only takes a few to ruin the reputation of the many. Moreover, if the righteous majority doesn’t condemn the shameless few, if they, in fact incubate and protect them and their illegal dealings, then they too are complicit in the crime. So maybe Lanny Davis is right, and there are some good lobbyists out there. It seems there just aren’t enough. Or maybe they just aren’t that good.

The solution is simple. There is no logical reason why any lobbyist ever needs to provide gifts or money of any kind to a public representative. So don’t allow them to do it. They can provide research findings and reports and information as they are supposed to and then leave it at that. Better yet, maybe our representatives can do more independent research into issues. Or, here’s a really wild concept, they could seek more direct input from their constituents.

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