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My message to Bob Somerby on Joe Wilson: Don't do Rove's dirty work.

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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:39 PM
Original message
My message to Bob Somerby on Joe Wilson: Don't do Rove's dirty work.
Dear Bob:

I'm one of the rare long-time Daily Howler readers who really tried to see your point of view about Joe Wilson's credibility, even to the point of taking a Somerby-like position on the 16 Words with other lefties. Now I'm very sorry I did that, because I had my ass handed to me, and boy! did that hurt. But worse yet, I had my credibility injured. I don't know what it will take to heal that.

Before you think my taking a "Somerby-like" position is my problem and doesn't concern you, I want to say that your contrariness on Wilson is, I'm afraid, more of a black mark against you among your most loyal audience than you may be aware of. For some time, I have been annoyed hearing some lefties dismissing every column of yours I'd point them to just because you'd said some unflattering things about Joe Wilson and his fan club on the left and in the media. If they let one disagreement with you interfere with getting the good stuff they could learn from you, I thought, it was their loss.

But it isn't just over a disagreement that you've lost them. They don't trust your judgment anymore, and I can understand why.

It's funny, because I know how an expression of doubt about someone's integrity or credibility can infect the uninoculated with doubt as well. Your doubts about Wilson got to me. It's why I started to think the 16 Words in Bush's 2002 State of the Union Address had nothing to do with Joseph Wilson and everything to do with some mythical "British intelligence" separate from anything the CIA was working on. I started to think the word "Congo" has some magical significance to the 16 Words.

I was wrong, Bob. You may want to double check your facts on that score, too, if you haven't already. Reread those patently phony--Judy Milleresque, you might say--reports about Congo gangs in the Guardian and Times that you linked to (http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh072803.shtml ) again. There is really no good reason to think, as you suggested last week, that British Intelligence concerned Congo. There's less reason to think it did *not* concern Niger.

Today, while arguing on a public Internet forum that the 16 Words were irrelevant to Wilson and getting no answers to my questions about why anyone would get the mistaken impression that they were relevant to him, I was rereading material I'd read many times in the past two years, usually when I was more sympathetic to Wilson, and I suddenly realized that I'd made a serious mistake with an important date. Perhaps you were aware that the notorious Niger document that the Italian journalist gave to the US embassy, the one the Butler report said British officials were unaware of until early 2003, the one that the IAEA eventually dismissed as an amateurish forgery in March 2003, the one the Bush administration then shrugged its shoulders over saying, "We got fooled"...perhaps you knew that that document did not get into the hands of the US intelligence community until October 2002--eight months AFTER Wilson returned from Niger. I had made the mistake of thinking that it was THAT document that Wilson was sent to check out. But that would have been impossible, of course.

I've done more searching, looking for evidence of a previous primary source that someone at CIA or DIA could have held in their hands to document an alleged Iraq-Niger sale. Do you know of one? The SIR is very vague about what form the original document that sparked the internal debate about Niger took. They mention a cable from a foreign government (evidently Italy). Why did Wilson never see the document he was sent to Niger to check the veracity of? Is it possible he didn't see it because it didn't exist?

As you might say, we here don't have a clue. The media (as usual) have done a horrid job helping us keep the details of this complicated story straight. But there's a 50-50 chance that the "not very detailed report" Wilson refers to that started the Niger investigation rolling started its life, not as a document at all, but as something "not very detailed." Considering how manifestly bogus the October 2002 document was, does it seem to you that this might be a case in which a fact was fixed (after the fact, when the IAEA began asking to see the document right after Tony Blair's WMD assessment speech on Sept. 24, 2002) around the policy.

I recommend reading, or rereading as the case may be, Seymour Hersh's March 2003 story on the phony documents: http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/?030331fa_fact1 In light of everything that has happened since, it's an eye-opener. It's very likely Wilson read it, and if he did, he must have felt like a tool. I take him at his word that he felt that way when he heard the 16 Words, too; but if he didn't know about a British connection to the Niger forgeries in January 2003, and if he did read Hersh, then he absolutely did know about it in March.

I also take Wilson at his word--strange as it may admittedly be--that he can't consider his report on former Prime Minister's Mayaki's supposed contacts with Iraqis at the 1999 Organization of African Unity meeting in Algiers as proof positive that the Iraqis were seeking yellow cake. And furthermore, considering how unreliable British and American intelligence has been, I have come to the well-considered conclusion that neither government's word is worth a dime on anything having to do with Iraq and the so-called intelligence that got us there. Every statement either government makes in this area should be greeted with skepticism. This may seem extreme, but I've been burned giving them credit (particularly the reports on pre-war intelligence) and I'm not eager to get burned again.

In conclusion, Bob, I am asking you to please rethink the whole Joe Wilson thing. Consider that it might not be illogic you're responding to. Maybe it's just a style you don't like. I don't know. But I do know Wilson was right about the monkey business with pre-war intelligence and he was wronged because he was right, and it makes absolutely not one iota of difference how grating his personal style is to you or anyone else.

The bottom line is that someone in the administration wants people like you and me to have doubts about Wilson's credibility. It serves their purpose very well. Please be very careful not to serve their purpose for them.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:55 PM
Response to Original message
1. kick
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glitch Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:56 PM
Response to Original message
2. Wow Burtworm, very well said.
I like Bob too, although I don't automatically discredit him when I disagree with his conclusion on a specific issue, you are right, his credibility does take a hit when he is this far off.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:00 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. The sad thing is, I've started to doubt him on every thing
because he can't get Wilson right. I'm not expecting this to move him though.

Thanks for your kind words.
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papau Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
3. Excellent - but Bob Somerby admits error about as often as hell freezes
over.

In any case, congrats on a very good letter.

:-)
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:02 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Thank you--and I know!
He's also very nasty to people who criticize him. Ironic.
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KC21304 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:07 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Sometimes it seems his hatred for the press, for what
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 05:08 PM by KC21304
they did to Gore, clouds his judgment on things. I can't say I really blame him on that score, but then he should admit that he may be biased when it comes to some individuals.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:10 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. Gore can do absolutely no wrong in his eyes.
Dean can do no right. :wtf:

(Actually he did give Dean grudging credit for framing something perfectly a few weeks ago.)
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Straight Shooter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:04 PM
Response to Original message
6. Have you sent this to BuzzFlash?
It would be a good forum.

BTW, as far as Somerby is concerned, big egos have thin skins.

:thumbsup:
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. No, I haven't.
You think I should? It is something I think should be buzzed about. Maybe that would get his attention.
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:12 PM
Response to Original message
10. You have my respect, Burt
:patriot:
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:13 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Thank you, GPV!
The respect is mutual. :patriot:
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GreenPartyVoter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:14 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. :^D
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PurgedVoter Donating Member (753 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:13 PM
Response to Original message
11. Thanks BurtWorm
I was beginning to develop worries about the BurtWorm, but here he shows himself to be a true progressive. True progressives are, by my observation, those who can examine the validity of their own knowledge and ethics. It takes a conservative to remain stupid unto death. I was on the (Top Secret) blog watching as you confronted your perception. I stayed out of it. Now I must thank you for having the bravery to examine your own data. One of the reasons I respect Joe Wilson so much is the care he takes to make clear the quality of the data he is presenting. He has to be careful when you consider the current rules of debate.

The Current Rules of Debate:
1. Anything said by a conservative has equal weight with the truth.
2. If anyone opposing a conservative has ever been wrong, then that conservative is right.
3. If a conservative says an opponent is wrong then the opponent is wrong.
4. If by some chance a conservative looses a debate, he will still be declared a winner.
5. A conservative, who has divorced three times and evaded child support, can attack an opponent who has been happily married for 40 years and put two children through college, by saying his opponent is has weak family values.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. Thank you.
I came at it all wrong, but it really started where it did when I credited Somerby's take on the meaning of the 16 Words.

I do try to admit when I'm wrong, at least. I wasn't kidding when I said the truth is more important to me than political correctness. Fortunately, in this case, the truth and political correctness aren't in conflict. ;)
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Eloriel Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:18 PM
Response to Reply #11
34. Now there's a slogan worth repeating
It takes a conservative to remain stupid unto death.

And I'm rather taken with your Current Rules of Debate, as well, which most certainly should be posted in their own thread. You have an extra word in the very last sentence ("is").

Welcome to DU.

And BurtWorm -- this is the best thing I've ever seen from you, I think. Very thoughtful and well done. I hope it has an impact.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:46 PM
Response to Reply #34
40. Thank you, Eloriel.
That means a lot to me. :toast:
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PurgedVoter Donating Member (753 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 09:44 AM
Response to Reply #34
44. Thanks Eloriel!
I think I will work on the "Rules" a bit and post them again as per your suggestion.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 05:41 PM
Response to Original message
15. kick
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:00 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. kick
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madfloridian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:21 PM
Response to Original message
17. He viciously attacked Dean during the campaign.
I wrote him with some correct info about something he got wrong....and he told me I was crazy and Dean was crazy. I was polite and did not deserve such.
He just refused to listen.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:30 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. I remember that, madfloridian.
It nearly turned me totally off of him, but I kept checking in and finding gold, and soon enough he stopped harping on Dean and was back to his usual astute eviscerating of gasbags.

I don't know what his problem is with Dean or Wilson. I suspect its plain old taste: they're not to his liking for some unaccountable reason. I do know that he is not as knowledgable about the background on Wilson as I gave him credit for. We'll see how he responds to my letter.
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gulfcoastliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:25 PM
Response to Original message
18. What is his prob? Bashing Dean and Wilson has really turned me off...
Somerby seems to be assimilated into the Beltway and media culture. Too bad.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 08:31 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. I don't think he's as left as he once seemed to me.
He's probably where Al Gore was before he went populist and principled.
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gulfcoastliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:27 PM
Response to Reply #20
22. Agreed -
Edited on Wed Jul-20-05 09:30 PM by gulfcoastliberal
After mediawhores bit the dust, I tuned into Somerby all the time. I've since tuned out. At best, he's DLC all the way. Hardly what you would call left.

Edit: Great letter. Has he replied yet?
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:39 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. No he hasn't yet.
If or when he does, I will certainly let you guys know.

Peter Daou linked to this thread on Salon.com. Maybe that will get his attention.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 02:57 PM
Response to Reply #24
30. Still haven't heard from Somerby.
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gulfcoastliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 10:05 PM
Response to Reply #30
42. I'm getting the feeling maybe your letter demolished him.
Your letter is so devastating maybe he's at a loss for words; he realizes he can't defend himself on this. Too bad he's too scared to try. Congrats on the Salon link.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 02:19 AM
Response to Reply #42
43. Thank you very much for that vote of confidence.
I tend to think he's probably sick of being attacked for his views about Wilson. Well, tough shit, Bob!

(By the way, though this aspect of Daily Howler really makes me question where he's coming from on everything, I still want to give him a chance to wake up.)
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Just Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:01 PM
Response to Original message
21. KO!!! Nominated!!!
Wow,...I'm sorry I missed this!!!
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:37 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. It was pretty gory.
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Just Me Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:54 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. Aw. Don't sweat the small stuff.
We'll rarely be on the same sentence on a page; but, we are all involved in writing the same book. ;-)
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-20-05 09:58 PM
Response to Reply #25
26. Thanks.
:toast: I was feeling kind of alone yesterday. Kind of glad I didn't shut down and stop thinking. Today I feel like I'm back in the same paragraph, at least.
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oasis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 12:40 AM
Response to Original message
27. kick
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 08:48 AM
Response to Reply #27
28. No response from Somerby yet.
Edited on Thu Jul-21-05 09:26 AM by BurtWorm
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burythehatchet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 09:12 AM
Response to Original message
29. Very good letter
Edited on Thu Jul-21-05 09:12 AM by burythehatchet
Since there are many good web sites for news and analysis, I tuned Somersby out some time ago. This is the beauty of the new media. If you can't bring your game every night, you're out in the cold.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #29
33. I still check in, but not with the same unalloyed anticipation I used to.
If it's about Howard Dean or Wilson, I read it with horrid fascination. It must be a balancing act for him to want to roast both Wilson and his supporters in the media and Rove and his sycophants. You'd think writing a column operating under the assumption that Rove's motive was to warn Cooper off Wilson's "bad information" was a sign to step back and look at the story again. But not for Bob--yet.

I still hold out hope he might be reached, or I wouldn't have written the letter. But I'm also expecting no response at all from him at best.
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 10:00 AM
Response to Reply #33
45. We've travelled parallel paths
I, too, have lost my unalloyed anticipation for the latest Daily Howler, though it's still one of my bookmarks and I read it every day. An excellent letter, with much for Somerby to look over and digest. I'm not surprised he hasn't responded yet; he's quite thorough, and your letter will require a lot of checking on his part. It might make a difference, but I'll bet it was a real release to write even if it doesn't make a difference.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #45
46. Have you corresponded with him?
I've written him several times, and he's usually been very prompt. But this is an unusually long message, and maybe he will give it careful attention. If not, it was a release to write it, and it did make a difference to me.
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gratuitous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 11:06 AM
Response to Reply #46
47. I emailed him once, no reply
I just figure he's a busy guy.

But if he's responded to you, maybe I should take it personally. Yeah. A fine thing! I email the guy and he doesn't even have the courtesy to respond. I set electrons to the ether, compose a short but thoughtful missive and he throws it right back in my face! How humiliating. The guy's nothing but a two-bit four-flusher. Suh! I challenge you to a duel!

{Stops in mid rant -- :blush: -- dismounts sheepishly from high horse}

Nevermind.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #47
48. I've e-mailed him a time or two in the last two years and got bupkis.
Edited on Fri Jul-22-05 11:13 AM by BurtWorm
Maybe he's become less "available." :eyes:

To be fair, the first couple of times his response was extremely gracious. But that was way back in the days of impeachment and he was just beginning to make his mark.
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B Calm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 03:33 PM
Response to Original message
31. Nominated and kicked
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #31
32. Thank you!
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myrna minx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:35 PM
Response to Reply #31
37. I nominate this as well.
:toast:
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CAcyclist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:20 PM
Response to Original message
35. Wow, Burtworm - I Am Impressed
I take back every negative thing I said to you. It takes a very big person to admit when they are wrong like this. :toast:
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:24 PM
Response to Reply #35
36. Thank you.
I appreciate your saying that. I'm glad I don't yet have the kind of mind that shuts down when the evidence proves I'm wrong. I hope I never become that inflexible. :toast:
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KittyWampus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:38 PM
Response to Original message
38. Really Well Put, You Have A Definate Knack For Writing.
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Alizaryn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:44 PM
Response to Original message
39. Great letter BurtWorm!
Let us know if you get a response.
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Jul-21-05 04:49 PM
Response to Reply #39
41. I will.
I haven't yet. But believe me if I do, I'll share it. (I'm expecting him not to respond, at this point. Or to respond nastily. But I wrote it hoping for positive change, because Daily Howler taught me a lot about the media's addiction to dishonesty.)
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BurtWorm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jul-22-05 04:02 PM
Response to Original message
49. I am doubting I will ever hear back from Bob.
:evilfrown:
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